Calton Hill

Fluidity and Good

If I am disinterested in ethics it is not because I am disinterested in humanity, rather that I make no distinction between the moral (human) and the metaphysical (divine). Syncretism, that Platonist disease. Murdoch (Sovereignty of Good) jokes that the asylums are full of people that consider all to be one. The singular idea is surely an impossible edifice for any human mind to maintain – such minds being within the very one they claim to conceive.

The idea of perfection (to borrow from Leibnitz) describes principles, not a particular construction. This distinction is essential given the arbitrary nature of any (logical) position that might be adopted (Godel in mathematics, maybe Bergson in philosophy, perhaps Kuhn or Popper for practical science). Arbitrary is not code for despair, that we should confine metaphysics to the realm of “don’t know”, or append the word belief, in the knowledge that we can’t do without. The least arbitrary is that which creates itself, that which we have as good an insight in as any.

The thing of itself echoes Husserl, the contemporary, anthropological auto-genesis. Modern accounts are prone to emphasise action – the very language of creation is tainted by perception. Irony: We can only but hope to apply such methods to our understanding while time marches ever forward.

Time is a duality between change and oscillation. One duality that takes many forms, including point and paradox, multiplicity and togetherness, self and other, themes expounded subsequently. In traditions where duality is key to understanding one without becoming singular, such as Indian enlightenment, one duality is adept. In the West (following Classical literature, for example Boethius) one duality manifests dialogue. There is no distinction between the divine and the human – in Spinozan terms, “Deus, sive natura”.

The opposition implied in dualism is not pure negation. That is an administrative convenience, a method of managing defined objects or axioms. For Zoroaster, evil is a state of unresolution, not simply a moral negation of good. Trickster, not (contemporary) devil. Dualism is therefore the and of the set (all simultaneously), contrasted to the or of the set (single resolved selection). In extremis, both are perfection – symmetrical, absolute, equal. In practice, a fluidity within duality – the tension called nature, living.

So there is no un-changing, no direct reversal of the arrow of time. To travel in time is merely to regard today’s sunrise much like yesterday’s or tomorrow’s – to observe an oscillation more than a change. Much like, because no oscillation can be perfect from a perspective out with itself (as Bruns and Poincare showed for the Three Body Problem – aside from the obvious secondary oscillation of the Earth’s tilt). Facile, the weakness of contemporary physics is exposed: In reconciling the Quantum state, unresolution, by measurement, change, that which is not change (notably instant in Quantum Entanglement) is rendered (for Einstein) “spookily”.

Descartian fluidity is doubt (“I think…”), often reasoned. Mind and body a manifestation of (Greek) chi, arranged to suit (Timaeus, Dionysius, Thomas). Do not ask which is internal and which is external – that is the question. Inherently invertible, consider fluidity not as a single position between dual extremes, but as towards both – a juxtaposition, each away from a median, towards its respective perfection.

Towards is a function of complexity of knower, its scope of perception, its position in transcendence: A Kantian principle, that we sense creatures, not the cells within, nor the planet without. In practice, an individual knower may adjust its own complexity only slightly, such as into and out of human adulthood. Their species may evolve, but only gradually. To radically change complexity is to deny self and other: The juxtaposition between self and other, between largely fixed towards pairs, the tension called living, surely stabilises position in transcendence.

Aside: That further towards than the complexity of a given knower is determined, that between is free will to the knower (as duality of consequence and responsibility). This knower may confuse this further with an absolute extreme it does or can not understand (as belief or theory). The (especially near) further is thus investigation, while that between is considered fact.

That every knows, albeit to different degrees in accordance with its complexity, is necessarily challenging for humans who have only recently yielded that their earth is not the centre of the universe. That such (cosmological) more complex objects know more, and by some method humans cannot duplicate while remaining so, obviously intolerable.

To know more, to “become” more complex, is progressively more difficult (increased range of juxtaposition) with complexity. The ultimate progression, to perfection, complete oneness, is infinitesimal (Leibnitz again). Infinity, because dualities manifest in the less complex must be (implied by auto-genesis) transferrable to one, in spite of that one having no mode of juxtaposition in which to express dualities. The juxtaposition of balance and hope, which is also ambivalence (as antinomy) and will, can thus be applied to oneness: Not least, that God is good and all, without mode of active comparison (merely is).

These principles, as pattern, are shared by and of itself, such that knowing one occurrence of pattern is to know all such occurrences. Naturally, this is manifest as duality – that between pattern and point.

Pursuit of the Augustinian good or Buddhist enlightenment (becoming more complex) is not completely unreasonable, but should not be conflated with the juxtaposition of lived duality (at the knower’s current position in transcendence) which dominates life. To do so implies excessive bias (to a meta good), potentially pushing ourselves beyond that which our complexity is able to manage. Such pursuit of good subjugates self, which is hostile to other – society, perpetuating humanity (in the Augustinian context, Christ, in the Indian, rebirth).