Jeremy Trombley has a terrific post up expanding on our discussion of relations and mereology in relation to my earlier post, “Relations All the Way Down“. I can’t respond in detail right now as I’m getting ready to head off to the airport to return to Dallas. However, I find little to disagree with here and think we’re basically on the same page. Within the framework of my onticology, I distinguish between allopoietic objects and autopoietic objects. Autopoietic objects are such that they perpetually (re)produce themselves across time through a variety of operations. I take it that this is precisely what Jeremy is getting at. Once again, the premise of objections to claims such as the claim that groups and societies are objects seems to revolve around the idea that objects are static and unchanging. But I see no reason for this conclusion. There is no reason that objects and process can’t go hand and hand. Our bodies, for example, are constantly reproducing themselves and bodies are, I believe, certainly substances. The interesting thing about social objects is that internally they are extremely heterogeneous. They are pervaded by conflicts, tensions, antagonisms and all the rest. Yet these tensions, conflicts, and antagonisms are one of the ways by which such objects reproduce themselves. In other words, what we must avoid is the holistic idea of society or the idea that it involve homogeneity vis a vis something like Plato’s idea of the perfect republic. Moreover, we must emphasize that the parts that inhabit a society– persons, animals, technologies, etc. –exist only for that society. This is the strange mereology of OOO. These parts are autonomous entities in their right. They can struggle against the object in which they find themselves, they can leave it, they can form sub-objects within it in the form of groups, etc., etc., etc. This is precisely why these mereological relations are so strange. The sub-objects are simultaneously parts that contribute to the being of a larger-scale objects and independent objects in their own right.
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