Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Unique Terms and Relations

By introducing these functions and relations into the essence, you're begging the question for internal relations in the same way the abstractionists do for external relations.
But it's impossible not to introduce these functions and relations if we are going to deal with the objects of actual thought. But even if we were to cut off from what is meant by 'the Capitol' all these entangling alliances, the conclusion would be the same.

Although it's strictly impossible, let's try to strip away from the object all of its associations and leave only the brick and mortar. Of course, this arrangement and bricks are what is in question.

Now this arrangement and location were not an accident, but part of the larger Washington-Jefferson plan for the city. And if this arrangement of the bricks and their rleations to their nearer surroundings are part of this larger design, selected with reference to its aesthetic qualities as a whole, the smaller arrangement could not either be or be perceived apart from its place in the larger one. Someone who saw a carburetor on the ground would not understand what it is if they had no idea that is was part of an engine. But at this point we're not going to raise the question of whether or not teleological properties belong to nature. So back to the bricks.

They are unique bricks, and we've already stated what we mean by that ( The bricks are related in certain ways to other things, and ultimately to all other things. We've already shown how in the case of a mountain, the question "What mountain?" was always and inevitably answered by such a specification.

What makes these stones these stones is an infinitey of relations, temporal, spatial, and so on. And the relations are not mere rationes cognoscendi. They are part of that which individuates. They are part of what goes into making the specific differences of the terms. Two stones that were exactly alike not only in quality, but in these relations as well would not be two stones, only one. The qualities of what we call a single stone, if they had two differing sets of relations, would not make one stone, but two. Either the relations are essential to a thing's being what it is, or else we must exclude from its nature what is indispensible if it is to be that thing. But excluding indispensible relations is impossible. Therefore, the relations are essential to its being what it is.

This view is consistent with common sense. Think about the way in which, for the common person, temporal and spatial relations are thought to be the essence of things. The Capitol is built partly of sandstone from Virginia, partly of marble from Massachusetts. The ordinary person would not say that the stones would be what they are apart from their relaitons to their past. The are stones, the stones, that came from Massachusetts and Virginia. And if they had come from somewhere else, they would not be the stones they are.

The common person would probably falter when pressed, since if they were asked whether they could not still have been the same if shipped by a different rounte or quarried somewhat later, they would say they could have been the same. And in the same way about spatial and other relations, part of what iffeentiates these stones from others is their being here rather than there. Yet the ordinary person would probably admit that they might have been elsewhere. But when that person vacillates between saying that the same thing might and might not have had different relations, they are vacillating between two notions of the same thing. The thing that might have had different relations is a pattern of qualities artifically abstracted already. Start by assuming that a stone is merely a certain shape, size, hardness, and weight, and there is nothing that requires it to be here rather than there.

But these qualities are not what makes this stone what it is. Qualities abstracted in this way have had their lines of attachment cut. It would theoretically be repeated anwhere, and therefore is the reverse of unique. This stone is unique. What makes it unique is a set of relations that fix its connection with everything else in the universe. Removing any or all of these relations removes part of what makes this stone what it is, and assumes that it is related internally to everything else.

This is prejudging the case. You secure the admission that existing things are unique, and then define uniqueness as involving internal relations.
But the uniqueness of the existing thing is not in question. And there is nothing arbitrary about the definition of uniqueness, which we've already shown. It is the only definition that is consistent with our actual meaning.


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