Sunday, November 27, 2016

some thing





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We commonly speak as though a single 'thing' could 'have' some characteristic. A stone, we say, is 'hard,' 'small,' 'heavy,' 'yellow,' 'dense,' etc.

That is how our language is made: 'The stone is hard.' And so on. And that way of talking is good enough for the marketplace: 'That is a new brand.' 'The potatoes are rotten.' 'The container is damaged.' ... And so on.

But this way of talking is not good enough in science or epistemology. To think straight, it is advisable to expect all qualities and attributes, adjectives, and so on to refer to at least two sets of interactions in time. ...

Language continually asserts by the syntax of subject and predicate that 'things' somehow 'have' qualities and attributes. A more precise way of talking would insist that the 'things' are produced, are seen as separate from other 'things,' and are made 'real' by their internal relations and by their behavior in relationship with other things and with the speaker.

It is necessary to be quite clear about the universal truth that whatever 'things' may be in their pleromatic and thingish world, they can only enter the world of communication and meaning by their names, their qualities and their attributes (i.e., by reports of their internal and external relations and interactions).



–Gregory Bateson (1904 - 1980)
Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity



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