Archive for the ‘Metaphysics’ Category

An Eightfold Metaphysics

February 1, 2019

If one juxtaposes the fourfold Space-Time-Matter-Energy with the fourfold Structure-Function-Part-Action, one sees that there are several relations between them. These are simple common-sense relations, not modern-physics types of relations. Below they are listed by Space-type relations and Time-type relations.

Space is required for the extension of Structures.
Matter constitutes Structures.
Parts in an arrangement make up Structures.

Structures extend and are organized in Space.
Matter is located in Space.
Parts occupy Space.

Time allows the expression of Functions.
Energy is required for the operation of Functions.
Actions in a sequence constitute Functions.

Functions have duration and reoccur in Time.
Energy requires and is dependent on Time.
Actions take place within Time.

Several analogies are also evident in this diagram.

  1. Space : Structures :: Time : Functions
  2. Space : Parts :: Time : Actions
  3. Space : Matter :: Time : Energy
  4. Structures : Parts :: Functions : Actions
  5. Structures : Matter :: Functions : Energy
  6. Parts : Matter :: Actions : Energy

Notice that analogies 1.-3. are “contains” relations, and 4.-6. are “part of” relations. One obtains the nesting of entities:

Structures > Parts > Matter
Functions > Actions > Energy

I suppose that any analogy could be shown in a figure like the one on the right (or even written as A / B // C / D) or with the two squares side by side, and that sets of four or six analogies that overlap could be nicely shown as above. If so, I wonder what can be gained by such representations? Probably individually not so much but with overlaps I think it would be interesting.

Further Reading:

The study of parts and wholes relations is called Mereology.

[*11.26, *11.34]


Fourfold Physicalism

February 17, 2018

It is not enough for a wise man to study nature and truth, he should dare state truth for the benefit of the few who are willing and able to think. As for the rest, who are voluntarily slaves of prejudice, they can no more attain truth, than frogs can fly.

— From Man a Machine, by Julien Offray de La Mettrie

Further Reading:


Structures are built from parts.
Parts are reductions of structures.
Functions are assembled from actions.
Actions are the constituents of functions.

[*8.132, *9.104, *10.10]


Atom and Archetype

January 23, 2018

A few weeks ago I ran across this nice review of the book Atom and Archetype: the Pauli-Jung letters 1932-1958. This is a collection of letters exchanged between psychiatrist Carl Jung and physicist Wolfgang Pauli over a course of years. Evidently, Pauli was quite the metaphysician and Jung was intrigued by Einstein’s physics of relative space and time. Together in dialectic they argued and struggled to join together the disparate notions of mind and matter.

What mainly caught my eye was a diagram that I’ve slightly altered and shown above. I’ve mainly just replaced energy with matter-energy for two reasons: first because matter and energy are inter-convertible and second because matter conditions space. This results in similarity to the fourfold diagram for Lucretius that I’ve shown before, consisting of Particles, the Void, Falling, and Swerving.

Further Reading:

Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli / Atom and Archetype: the Pauli-Jung letters 1932-1958, Princeton University Press; Updated edition (July 21, 2014)



Kant’s Synthetic-Analytic Distinction, V3

January 15, 2018

One of the oldest and most problematic philosophical questions is the comparison of the a prioria posteriori distinction with that of the analyticsynthetic distinction. Both are used in epistemology to divide knowledge, or true statements, between the innate and the learned, or the immediate and the earned, so they might even be considered the same. A priori and a posteriori statements are before “experience” and after it, respectively. Analytic statements are true only by their “meaning”, whereas synthetic statements are true only when facts about the world are combined consistently with that meaning.

It seems we have complicated the issue because now we must define and understand “experience” and “meaning”. However, these concepts are not independent because we must experience meaning, and meaning in turn conditions experience. In addition, even the a priori or the analytic are not innate or immediately obvious because deductions and the rules of logic require effort just like inductions do. Otherwise we would have Fitch’s Paradox: all truths are in fact known. What a muddle! So both experience and meaning are necessarily locked into a cooperative spiral dance to improve each other.

In addition, if you search for the two pairs a priori-a posterior and analytic-synthetic, you also find that the pair necessary-contingent is associated with them. Are these three pairs independent of one another and so give rise to eight triplets, or are they dependent in some way and reduce into fewer combinations? In addition, from Wikipedia:

Thus, the relationship between aprioricity, necessity, and analyticity is not easy to discern. However, most philosophers at least seem to agree that while the various distinctions may overlap, the notions are clearly not identical: the a priori/a posteriori distinction is epistemological, the analytic/synthetic distinction is linguistic, and the necessary/contingent distinction is metaphysical.

The web site of Stephen R. Palmquist has a great wealth of material on fourfolds in relation to Kant’s as well as his own philosophy. From my own initial reading of his extensive material I have tried to choose a canonical Kantian fourfold which has the most relevance to my project.

The fourfold shown to the right Dr. Palmquist calls Kant’s “reflective perspectives on experience”. Consisting of the logical, the empirical, the transcendental, and the hypothetical, these facets bear a close analogical likeness to many of the fourfolds presented here.

Logical: Analytic a priori
Transcendental: Synthetic a priori
Hypothetical: Analytic a posteriori
Empirical: Synthetic a posteriorikant_table

Dr. Palmquist also has many of his own books available on his web site for the interested reader. I will certainly be returning to his web site in the future for much enjoyable study.

Further Reading:

[*7.68, *7.84, *8.126, *10.54]



The Ogdoad: Unity of Eight Gods

March 24, 2017

Here’s a notable fourfold of dualities: the Ogdoad, or eightfold of deities. I usually don’t stray into ancient mythology but this cosmological system evidently led the Greeks to their idea of the four elements. These paired male and female deities were personifications of certain metaphysical concepts and their opposites.

  • Amun and Amaunet: The Hidden and its opposite
  • Nun and Naunet: The Abyss and its opposite
  • Kuk and Kauket: The Darkness and its opposite
  • Huh and Hauthet: The Boundless and its opposite

Some even conjecture that the word ANKH was formed from the initial sounds of these four or eight deities.

Further Reading:



Distinctions with and without Differences

September 24, 2016

sq_distinction2It is often asked, why is there something rather than nothing?

Instead why not ask, why is there a rich diversity of things, rather than a dull sameness? And even though the closer and the further one looks the diversity is almost without limit, one also sees the world divided into natural kinds that partition it into a differentiated but interrelated mixture.

Several ancient philosophers thought that the entire world was an indivisible whole, a solid “being”. Others thought that you can’t even step into the same river twice, thus a fluid “becoming”. The real world seems to be somewhere in-between these two poles, moving continuously back and forth to now generate difference and newness, and then returning to sameness and oldness, and next continuing on to newness again.

Why drives these generative processes? One could say evolution, but evolution merely means “change over time”. And it would need to be an evolution at all levels of the cosmos, from the physical constituents of matter to the psychological constructs of culture. What do these disparate systems have in common?

Perhaps the commonality lies in the relations between small and large ensembles of chunks of space and time. In theories of statistical thermodynamics, the associations between micro states and macro states as well as micro events and macros events may drive entropy.

Here I present a schema that divides the continuum between one and many into four: Sameness, Similarity, Distinction, and Difference.
A member of the “being” camp might say these aren’t really different, whereas one from the “becoming” camp could say there really isn’t any sameness to begin with. Here I’ve chosen neither camp but struggled to bridge the gap between them.


Also see:

Statistical Thermodynamics

One and Many



Four Primary Relations

June 9, 2015


I’ve written previously about my fourfold Structure-Function (consisting of Structures, Functions, Actions, and Parts) and its association with four Modal Verbs (Must, Should, May, and Can). This resulted in the combined fourfold of Modal Things.

Here I present the next step: what it is that Structures Must do, what it is that Functions Should do, what it is that Actions May do, and what it is that Parts Can do.

Structures Must Maintain => Maintenance
Functions Should Perform => Performance
Actions May Occur => Occurrence
Parts Can Vary => Variance

The first column lists the four aspects of Structure-Function. They are loosely based on Aristotle’s Four Causes. Structures correspond to the formal cause. Functions correspond to the final cause. Actions correspond to the efficient cause. Parts correspond to the material cause.

The second column lists the Modal Verbs, the “modes” of each aspect. They are similar to deontic logic, two being more or less necessary and two being more or less contingent.

The third column lists the Actional Verbs, what it is that each aspect does in its modal way. One could also say these as mottos: “Structures must be maintained”, “Functions should be performed”, “Actions may have occurred”, and “Parts can be varied”.

The fifth column lists the four primary relations that correspond to each of the four aspects.

These four relations could inform a metaphysics, consisting of relations all the way down, all the way up, all the way back, and all the way forward.


[*7.192, *8.40, *8.136]


Lucretius: On the Nature of Things

October 10, 2011

But, now again to weave the tale begun,
All nature, then, as self-sustained, consists
Of twain of things: of bodies and of void
In which they’re set, and where they’re moved around.
For common instinct of our race declares
That body of itself exists: unless
This primal faith, deep-founded, fail us not,
Naught will there be whereunto to appeal
On things occult when seeking aught to prove
By reasonings of mind. Again, without
That place and room, which we do call the inane,
Nowhere could bodies then be set, nor go
Hither or thither at all- as shown before.

—  From On the Nature of Things by Lucretius

A book on the  rediscovery of  the ancient Epicurean poem “On the Nature of Things” by Lucretius has recently been published. “The Swerve: how the world became modern” by Stephen Greenblatt looks quite interesting. The fourfold above was inspired by the previous fourfold Spacetime. A very nice NPR review can be found below.




Graham Harman’s Quadruple Object

June 30, 2011

Graham Harman’s book The Quadruple Object is now available in English, and hopefully it will clarify some of the questions I have about his metaphysics. I have made an attempt at orienting his fourfold of real object, sensual object, real qualities, and sensual qualities with respect to the other fourfolds presented here. The fourfold object emerges from Harman’s analysis of Heidegger’s das Geviert.

Graham Harman / Guerrilla Metaphysics: phenomenology and the carpentry of things

Graham Harman / Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and metaphysics

Graham Harman / The Quadruple Object


E. J. Lowe’s Four Category Ontology

June 27, 2011


E. J. Lowe / The Four-Category Ontology: a metaphysical foundation for natural science

[*4.94, *6.98]



Every Fourth Thing


Derek Wise's blog: Mathematics, Physics, Computing and other fun stuff.


integrating 4 binary opposites in life, learning, art, science and architecture


integrating 4 binary opposites in life, learning, art, science and architecture

Playful Bookbinding and Paper Works

Chasing the Paper Rabbit

Antinomia Imediata

experiments in a reaction from the left

Digital Minds

A blog about computers, evolution, complexity, cells, intelligence, brains, and minds.

Social Systems Theory

A blog inspired by Niklas Luhmann and other social theorists


A collective of creatives bound by a single motto: There's nothing in the rulebook that says a giraffe can't play football!

you're always being judged

games and stories and things by Malcolm Sheppard

philosophy maps

mind maps, infographics, and expositions

Photon Stimulus

A Card Study of Sorts

hyde and rugg

neat ideas from unusual places

John Kutensky

The way you think it is may not be the way it is at all.

Visions of Four Notions

Introduction to a Quadralectic Epistomology

The Science Geek

Astronomy, space and space travel for the non scientist


Every Fourth Thing

The Immortal Jukebox

A Blog about Music and Popular Culture

at any streetcorner

Melanie Dorn. Boston.

Ideas Without End

A Serious Look at Trivial Things

Quadralectic Architecture

A Survey of Tetradic Testimonials in Architecture

Minds and Brains

Musings from a Naturalist

Lorna Phone

Visual essays for a digital world


Four-fold thinking4you

Multisense Realism

Craig Weinberg's Cosmology of Sense

RABUJOI - An Anime Blog

Purveyors of Fine Anime Reviews and Ratings Since 2010

Maxwell's Demon

Vain attempts to construct order


Between Subject and Object

The Woodring Monitor

Every Fourth Thing


Every Fourth Thing


Every Fourth Thing

The n-Category Café

Every Fourth Thing


Every Fourth Thing

Every Fourth Thing


Sometimes those Sticking their Heads in the Sand are Looking for Something Deep


Online Home of Christopher Vitale, Associate Professor of Media Studies, The Graduate Program in Media Studies, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY.


Researching the Demands of Thought

Aberrant Monism

Spinozism and Life in the Chaosmos

Object-Oriented Philosophy

"The centaur of classical metaphysics shall be mated with the cheetah of actor-network theory."

Objects & Things

objects & things, design, art & technology

%d bloggers like this: