On the other hand, I think Roy Bhaskar’s arguments about emergence help to address this point as well. At one point in A Realist Theory of Science, Bhaskar argues that even if chemistry and other sciences gave us an account of how life emerges from non-living matter– and I hope we get this demonstration eventually –biology would not be divested of its object or become a subset of these other sciences. This would be because the objects studied by biology still have their own internal logos that can’t be deduced from the objects of these other sciences.
Jerry made a similar point a while ago in one of the threads, where he argued that all cultural objects, are, of course, governed by the laws of physics, but that this doesn’t undermine their status as having unique logoi of their own. The conclusion that I draw from this line of reasoning, from the Principle of Irreduction, and the Ontological Principle, is that we must avoid the conclusion that there is one strata of being that is “really real” (I’ll henceforth refer to it as the “ultra-real”), such that the rest of being is merely derivative and without a difference of its own. Hopefully that’s a start in responding to your point, as underdeveloped as it is.
Ontologies often do something similar. They begin with a set of categories pertaining to what can be and what cannot be, and thus exclude certain forms of objects a priori that don’t fit with these categories. My point about thinking the present is simply that we need to be careful not to let the categories throughout history dictate what is, such that we become blind to the discovery of new types of objects and relations that are being found. Contemporary mathematics fits very poorly with Kant’s understanding of mathematics insofar as it far exceeds anything that can be intuited in time or space. Rather than the philosopher dictating what math should be by tracing it all back to pure forms of time and space, instead the discovery of things like Riemann spaces, transfinite mathematics, category, topology, etc., should lead the philosopher back to the drawing board as to the nature of what is and what is not. Constellation, History, Immanence, Ontic, Ontology
I accept Lucretius’ axiom that nothing can come from nothing, and therefore Whitehead’s Principle which states that all objects are to be explained in terms of other objects. The question then becomes, like the example from The Mist, that of how these pre-existent conditions generate new qualities or properties. It was necessary for certain tendencies to be available among the population of the city in The Mist, but when the genesis of these new objects take place, the qualities belonging to these groups are new properties that form a new object.
In part, I’ve tried to develop the concept of “constellation” to respond to what I think you’re getting at with what you refer to as “availability”. That is, a constellation is a set of available tendencies or conditions in a field that are unique to that situation and that play a key role in the genesis of an ob-ject-al. For example, the constellation of a grape would include properties of the soil, other plants and animals in the region, specific weather conditions that year, etc., all of which go into the production of grapes with unique qualities that account in differences between wines from grapes of the same species but grown in different regions of the world, and differences from year to year in vintage. Consequently, no assemblage can be what it is without its parts, but a threshold is reached in the genesis of the assemblage where new qualities emerge that aren’t simply deducible from the parts.
My impression of the institutional scenes of philosophy is something like the following: the most influential philosophers of the last 50 years or so (i.e. within the last two generations of philosophy, so as to include everyone’s supervisor), have been some form of hermeneutician, deconstructionist, psychonanalsyst, etc. That is, the last 50 years has been almost exclusively a textually oriented approach to philosophy and its history (this is obvious in the first two cases, the psychoanalyst is less obvious, but what the hell else would it mean to say that the ‘unconscious is structured like a language,’ or that we’re interested in signifiers and their functions, etc). So, there’s no escaping the stupid linguistic turn for any of us.