“War is Justice” (on Heraclitus)

Note for the Process-Oriented Philosophy Seminar

Session of 3 May 2018

 

We start with this Fragment from Heraclitus.

“We must know that war is common to all and strife is justice, and that all things come into being through strife necessarily.” Heraclitus, Fragment B80

We are speaking of becoming as “coming into being”.

Not just flowing, not just passing, but coming into being.

There seems to be a qualitative change here, between non-being and being.

What does it mean to be a being?

Does it have to do with matter?

Does Heraclitus mean that material things are the result of conflict?

It seems that we are also talking about not-yet-being.

The strife itself seems to operate in a realm before being, since things come into being through strife.

We are distinguishing a state of pre-being.

Heraclitus says that strife, conflict is the spiritual (not-a-being) engine of coming into being.

Strife seems to be a state of affairs before things come into being, since they come into being through strife.

Unless we are talking about a recombination of things into other things.

Unless we are talking about strife as the encounter between entities, points of contact.

But Heraclitus is talking about the Logos, about God, about the absolute.

He is not an empiricist.

Heraclitus says that strife is justice. And war common to all.

Which means that war is the universal common ground.

Being a universal, strife is not only a thing itself, and it is not simply the mere contact between things

Or if it is this contact, it is as a universal relation between things.

Strife, even as relation, is an idea, and moreover it is a universal idea, an absolute.

Which means that strife itself does not change.

This is why Heraclitus says that he speaks of the One.

“The waking have one common world.” Fragment B89.

Logos is One. “It rests by changing.” Fragment B84.

Hence the idea of necessity, which means that we are not talking about pure randomness.

For Heraclitus, the Logos, or God, is War as an absolute.

It is the contradiction itself, the idea of opposition.

This might seem to be logically contradictory for the following reason:

The idea of war supposes a dualism.

If you only had the One, how could it be at war with itself?

If you hold the proposition that God as One is Strife, then you might lose the idea of Unity, since the idea of war supposes A and B, at least an antagonism, a non-identity, a difference.

But there is a possible solution here to the apparent contradiction:

The idea that One and the Multiple are the same.

The idea that God or the Logos is at the same time One and Multiple.

And if all things are necessarily produced by such a God, it might mean that beings are themselves at the same time one and multiple.

That seems to be the essence of the strife that Heraclitus describes.

War is Justice and War is God seems to mean that One and the Multiple are the same.

That One and the Multiple are the same is perhaps the logic of all process philosophies.

Are we used today, in everyday life, to that way of thinking?

We are used to count.

And when we count, we distinguish one and the multiple.

When we count, the multiple becomes a sum. And one becomes a unit, a digit.

A digit seems to be different from a sum of digits.

Let’s now for the sake of heuristics try to apply Heraclitus to the way of thinking that counts.

To say that the One and the Multiple are the same, transposed to the realm of numbers and things, would be to say that one object is the same as many other objects.

Let’s say something apparently absurd for the sake of thinking forward:

One umbrella is the same as twenty cars and five baguettes.

How could we accept such an equation?

1 umbrella = 20 cars and 5 baguettes

This seems absurd.

But not completely. In fact, we are familiar with one mode of thought in which this equation is not surprising.

Imagine that the umbrella is entirely made of pure gold and that its value in dollars is $400 000. And imagine that we are talking about a specific model of car that costs $19,999 on the market. Both suppositions are very probable.

Then the equation would be true, in the world of money and exchange-value, which is a way of thinking among others.

Ways of thinking create acceptable worlds on premises that might appear absurd from the perspective of another way of thinking.

What I wanted to show here is that process philosophy is a way of thinking, in which the one and the multiple are the same, and in which there is becoming in the form of a coming into being, which means that there is a constant movement between non-being and being.

Sometimes Heraclitus calls this multiple a surfeit, an excess, that which is overabundant. I called it the Creal.

The philosopher Gilbert Simondon speaks of supersaturation for the multiple and crystallisation for individualisation, and we will come back to this later in the seminar. Alain Badiou also tried to think the one and the multiple, and so did Deleuze, and others. We will meet some of them in due course.

Let’s remain with the Greeks for the moment. How can non-being become being?

For Parmenides, this was impossible, because being is and non-being is not. For Plato, this was possible because in fact all beings related to ideal eternal paradigms that modelled their evolution. Think about the human foetus that develops a program that seems to be predesigned and yet we do not know here it is predesigned that the foetus will become a baby with, if all goes normally, two arms and two eyes, etc. For Aristotle, the passage between non-being into being was allowed because of the distinction between the potential and the actual.

But can we point to a very precise moment were the potential is becoming actual? Isn’t it like Achilles and the Tortoise, impossible to distinguish?

In the history of philosophy, all of these explanations were shown to contain logical flaws.

Today we can say that the problem is the following:

If we are to think that one and the multiple are the same, can we think it in a manner that remains multiple?

If we build a system of thought to explain how things come into being, that system will be one, it will be proposed as a fixed unified explanation, itself outside of becoming, and therefore suggested to war and conflict of ideas, and ultimately obsolescence.

Can we move into a way of thinking that would at the same time be one and multiple?

Shouldn’t we look for a style of thinking rather than a system.

I call crealectics this style of thinking. Not only from creative dialectics, but also from Creal and ectics: Ecto in Greek means outside.

There is a movement from the inside to the outside.

Creal-ectics looks at how the invisible-multiple becomes exteriorised as beings.

Perhaps is it not even a style of thinking.

Perhaps it is a way, in the manner that oriental spiritualities have ways.

The way of the warrior, the way of the monk, the way of empathy, the way of thinking.

We have just landed in a common space that is perhaps a new way of thinking.

Or perhaps just the desire of a new way of thinking.

A desire is already much.

 

 

Universalia Sunt Crealia

 

Reism is the doctrine that only things exist (from the Latin res, “thing”). In translation studies, realia are particular elements that cannot be translated into another language. A reist theory of aesthetics would be the assumption that an artefact can never be transferred into an emotional understanding, but at best artistic objects would be strange things that differ from everyday realia and therefore generate at best a questioning or a puzzlement. It is nevertheless difficult to see how we can share a common world in a reist universe.

Qualism is the philosophical doctrine that there are subjective mental aesthetic states, called qualia. Qualia introduce a form of perspectivism in the perception of reality. Art objects being more singular and unfamiliar than everyday objects, they would generate ever multiple and diverse qualia, thus introducing a form of relativism in the aesthetic experience. In a qualist universe, it is difficult to see how a form of intersubjective agreement can be reached.

I propose to call crealia the kind of monads that support the aesthetic perception. Can crealia be seen as the dialectic (or better crealectic) concept of monads generated by the sublation of reism and qualism? Objects are in constant flux and cannot be taken as a fixed substantial reality. Affective subjects are a solipsistic construct that should not be thought of as separated and different from the cosmos, a position that would equate to a form of dualist reism.

We need to examine how crealia can be compared to what Whitehead calls “actual occasions” as “monadic creatures” that do not change but “become”: “Each monadic creature is a mode of the process of ‘feeling’ the world, of housing the world in one unity of complex feeling, in every way determinate. Such a unit is an ‘actual occasion’; it is the ultimate creature derivative from the creative process.”

We need to examine how the actuality of crealia can be distinguished from the objectivity of realia and from the subjectivity of qualia. Is such actuality to be understood in terms of acts of a “superject”, and how does this understanding incorporate an element of virtuality or potentiality? What is universally actual and how does the Whiteheadian concept of “actual occasions” allow us to understand the artistic, cosmic, and quotidian aesthetic feeling?

 

Feeling the Flowing Present, Becoming the Becoming

Some people ask: why is my capacity to grow so related to the experience of becoming imprisoned in loops of enthusiasm followed by deception? It seems like a rollercoaster or a golden prison of over-confidence and collapse.

Our capacity to grow is conditioned by the very way in which we formulate and verbalise our decisions to change.

For example, if I say that I want to be a better human in a way or another, I am assuming that I want to remain a human, that I am such thing as a 21stcentury human in a given society. We might be so obsessed by our personal change that we don’t think about questioning the very idea of being a human being, a given person in a given society, an individual.

“I am a human”: we take this for granted. And inevitably we might fall, sooner or later, into the trap of de-compensation, loss of direction or faith in this given human that we took for granted, or in the world that we have partly built for us. Even the construct “human” involves many limitations: it is an object of belief, a historical construct.

The construct “better human” might negate the idea of “bad or weak human”, but it confirms the construct “human” and might be like adding decorative plants or increasing the size of the window of our prison cell.

In Process-Oriented philosophy we start with one only assumption, which is not a thing but a welcoming of the feeling of becoming. Not becoming this or that. Simply becoming. Flowing. Creating and being created by life.

The belief in a creative flow is not a belief in something immediately real in the way society recognizes things as real: houses, contracts, legal persons, citizens, bills. The ultimate given of process-oriented philosophies is a creative real, what I call a Creal, what Whitehead calls “creativity”, what Bergson calls “creative evolution” or “life”, an ever-changing infra-reality of flowing potentials, waves of infinite possibility, subatomic infra-structures in constant reconfiguration. The idea of infinite probability is impossible mathematically, but it might be an inspiring way of talking about the Creal.

This is the tabula rasa of process philosophy. This is where we start: the feeling of pure becoming without destination. The feeling that becoming is a divine common ground, a Creal with a capital C.

I am crealing. You are crealing. We are crealing.

I can forget for a while that I have a name, that I am supposed to be a human, that I have a given body, a given family and a job, or an absence of family, an absence of job. I can move closer to the creative flow and its desire without object.

How? By feeling it.

Whitehead speaks of “the ontological principle”. It is the principle that every actualised reality is interconnected in the cosmological creative field, and that things, institutions, statuses, names, ideas like being human, being a salesman or a philosopher, are perhaps perceived as more actual, but are less real that the invisible metamorphic field that underlies them. “The universe is solidarity”, writes Whitehead in Process and Reality. He adds: “Creativity is the universal of universals characterizing the ultimate matter of fact.”

My subjectivity and my living power emerge afresh via this meditative feeling. Whitehead adds: “Feelings are variously specialized operations, effecting a transition into subjectivity. They replace the ‘neutral stuff’ of certain realistic philosophers. An actual entity is a process. […] This use of the term ‘feeling’ has a close analogy to [the] use of the term ‘enjoyment’; and also some kinship with Bergson’s use of the term ‘intuition’.”

We enjoy the Creal as immanent universal enjoyment, we feel it as desire-without-object. It is exploding slowly and confidently in all possible directions. There is no right direction prior to the subjective feeling of “right direction”. There is no definite formula for being a better human. Of course, there are criteria of excellence in a given social game, such as playing classical music. But even the most skilled pianist will be a mere technical boring machine if he or she does not connect to the Creal when playing.

We are all — or we should all be — familiar with the Cartesian cogito: every time I doubt, every time I question the reality of this world, it is I who questions it, said Descartes, and therefore I am.

The process-oriented cogito is somewhat different, or more precisely considers the question from a different angle. It says: I feel the creative flow passing through me, therefore I am a participative perspective on the cosmic becoming.

Once familiar with the Creal and its modus operandi, its crealectics, we might be able to actualise such and such reality in a more fruitful way. It will take some time, some work, some discipline, some faith, many battles against the zombies of individualistic and prosaic realism, fights against the automated beliefs and codes of a given society. But no matter what my desire for excellence is, if I lose the connection to the Creal, I will become a mere social machine and I will eventually stop working properly. Out of flow, out of order.

By becoming the Creal, identifying with it, letting it grow on me, I become conscious of my active role of creator of realities. This is done by forgetting temporarily who we are as a tagged human, with all the labels that stick to us or that we believe stick to us when we meet someone or find ourselves in a new situation where we are expected to perform. Even supposedly pleasant labels, like honorific titles or money are superficial, convenient at some point, but potentially obstacles to the full development of your highest destiny, if any, and sustainable gratitude. Failure and success are not always easy to distinguish.

Being a human does not fully define me. I am only partly a human, from a certain perspective and in a given society and ideology. Being a man does not fully define me. I am only partly a man, from a certain perspective and under a given society and ideology. Your age does not define you, nor does your past, because feeling the Creal and diving into it is a constant — at least partial — rebirth, for the simple reason that ultimate creativity is constant renewal.

The process-oriented philosophy cogito is: I feel the cosmic essence of becoming, therefore I am. I think about how the Creal gives way to given realities, therefore I am.

Because I am not only the Creal, I am also the way the Creal is actualised into realities. This way is crealetics. And I am likely to be also the points of contact between the Creal connectome, its moving constellations, and reality. These fecund nodes of crealisation, these microcosmic points, crealia rather than realia. We might look closer, later, at how certain “analytic philosophy”, which historically has developed in part as a reaction against process philosophies (against Hegel and Whitehead for example, and against British idealism), how this analytic disenchantment has debated over and over about realia, things, but not, as far as I know, about crealia.

The creative flow is not just a name. The Creal is a feeling. A feeling is a fact, even if it cannot be measured.

A constellation is both a reality and a convention. We can combine stars (starts?) the way we desire and see different patterns in the sea of crealia.

This is the tabula rasa that we must start with on our journey to understand process philosophy. It is not a table, of course. And it is not empty. It is a ground of fluxing abundance that can be felt to begin with, even if somewhat confusedly, vaguely. It can be felt as curiosity, as gratitude. It can be felt as nourishment, as enjoyment. It can be felt as creative desire. Philosophy is also a feeling and an art of intuition. Crealectics can also be the reading of our futures.

Creative desire without object, prior to a goal, is not a weakness. Creative desire is our common sense of the divine.

If we focus on becoming a better or stronger human, without questioning what human means and if and how we are humans, we might eventually become a competitive commodity without soul, and eventually break or dysfunction. If we focus on being this or that, more this or more that, we will fail because we will become a function, even if it is a super-function. We are not nothing, but we are no thing.

In process-orirented philosophy, our source is a Creal, a warm flow of pure becomings. This is the divinity that we co-create together whilst welcoming it. The Creal is the energy, the field behind the actualisations humans and non-humans bring into the world.

Does the Creal have a function? We will think about it.

Manifesting, producing, proposing, elaborating realities and roles is fine. But this is secondary and can become soulless, de-spirited. What comes first is an active surrendering to the flowing immanent Spirit, to become the Creal that is our feeling soul, the universal — and multiversal — common desiring soul. Infinite moving potentialities. A grace of abundance and freedom. This is the ontological principle, the solidarity between all that is and all that is not yet and that will never be. This connects us as a common field, and to connect in Latin is religare, a term that gave, etymologically, religion. Hence the connection between process-philosophies and a form of religiosity, an immanent faith. We will explore this sense of the divine, slowly, without rushing into pre-defined conclusions. The concept of Creal is also a way of avoiding the complicated term “God”.

For the moment we can say: the Creal is our holy Grail. We are the knights of Creal. The Creal is not a giant Jacuzzi for indolent post-adolescents. The Creal is our crusade. We bring peace, freedom, joy, self-discipline and non-forceful mastery. We wish not to kill but to win our battles simply through spreading the gratitude of natural spiritual and immanent growth.

The Creal of process-oriented philosophy is a non-objectal “giveness”. Whitehead writes: “Potentiality is the correlative of giveness”.

Giveness gives itself to those who connect to the flowing present by welcoming it, by — at least partly — becoming it.

We are becoming the becoming. Crealing is healing.

 

 

The POP Workshop | Process-Oriented Philosophy with Luis de Miranda

Who’s POP? Let’s unite theory and praxis, let’s become a hive-mind and embark on a journey of slow thinking, a rewarding voyage through the major texts of process-oriented philosophy. Free entrance, freer minds @ the Library of Noden. First date 18 April 2018 at 19h40, and then regular sessions will be held. Sickla industriväg 6, 131 34 Nacka. More info here.

reality-réalité.jpg

What if creation was time and time was creation?
 
Process philosophy is based on the premise that Being is a dynamic creative Becoming, a flow of possibilities.
 
The continuously creative nature of being and how it is actualised into different human or meta-human realities should be the primary focus of any comprehensive philosophical account of reality and of our existential, political, social, or divine place within it.
 
Western metaphysics has long been obsessed with describing reality as an assembly of static analytic entities whose changing features are taken to be secondary and derivative. The usual modern realistic view considers the earth as a stock of thinks, usually “not enough”, and humans as needing to produce ever more to avoid “chaos” and corruption. From less things they want to produce ever more things. Abundance is considered to be the ever-delayed product of anthrobotic manufacture. This view buries our souls under a world of things and an intricacy of stress.
 
For process philosophers the adventure of philosophy and life begins with a creative flow of infinite potentialities. It is the source that is over-abundant even if invisible. To make a harmonious world is to do less with more, not more with less: to prune a branch of the infinite tree of life into a coherent and harmonious structure of actualities.
 
Process-philosophy proposes questions such as:
 
How is the Real produced by a continuous cosmic creation, a “miraculating immanence” (Deleuze/Guattari), a “Creal”?
 
How do we understand and co-create the emergence of novel organic actualities or “nexus” (Whitehead)?
 
How do we learn to live in a non-dualistic spiritual and sensual world in which praxis and theory are two aspects of the same process?
 
How do we keep safe from the deadly realistic view of the world as mere aggregation of finite measurable commodities?
 
This ongoing workshop of multiple sessions will be a patient and pedagogic process of thinking together across the writings of, among others, Heraclitus, Hegel, Bergson, Whitehead, Lacan, and Deleuze. You do not have to attend all the sessions. This event is in English, it is free of charge and will take place at the Library of Noden. Please bring something to write on. No specific training in philosophy is required, as we will move on slowly and clearly, together as a hive-mind. But a desire to think will help. To think is like breathing or walking: it is a fundamental aspect of being human and it balances our life. Do not let your thought muscle become atrophied.
 
The POP workshop will be orchestrated by Luis de Miranda, Doctor of Philosophy, philosophical counsellor at The Stockholm Philosophical Parlour. http://luisdemiranda.com
 
No previous reading is required, as the workshop will function as a live reading group. But the following text can serve as an introduction: “The Concept of Creal: The Politico-Ethical Concept of A Creative Absolute” (a text that can be dowloaded here: https://philarchive.org/archive/DEMOTC-3)
This event is not for profit and donation-based. All proceeds go to the Node, and we encourage you to contribute to the community’s self-sustainability by donating per session and/or become a monthly donor at http://syntheistnode.se/
or with SWISH 123 023 10 68
 
Welcome!

 

The River of Difference: Rereading Heraclitus

Famous fragment B12 of Heraclitus has been translated has follows by Professor Jonathan Barnes, an international authority in Ancient philosophy:

On those who enter the same rivers, ever different water flows.

This of course can be understood as another way of saying that one cannot bathe in the same river twice. Because the river is changing all the time. But this translation is remarkable because it suggests more than the idea of universal change.

On those who enter the same rivers, ever different water flows.

This can also mean the following: if one is persistent, visionary, and passionate enough to stick to the very same belief without changing, this courage of holding on what you believe will produce multiple fruits. The water of Difference will flow upon you if you persist in entering the same river. Repetition will produce a state of exception.