University of Tasmania
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The metaphysics of connection : discreteness, continuity, and in-discreteness

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posted on 2023-05-26, 05:56 authored by Wilson, BE
An interest in individual, particular things is a normal and indeed necessary part of everyday thought, but for a number of reasons it is problematic when such thinking is formalised into a philosophical system. The feature which attracts about particular things is their discrete nature, which is evident as separateness, distinctiveness and self-containedness. Philosophical systems which have such a view of objects tend to emphasise features which make individuals distinctive entities, and to downplay features which support connection between entities, and similarity across entities. This project seeks to do a number of things which advance the understanding of connection: (1) To characterise the contrasting notions of discreteness and continuity, and to find an alternative to both, named in-discreteness, which enables continuity to be a productive concept; (2) To find within philosophical characterisations of substance some features which contribute to a new understanding of continuity; (3) To identify features in nonphilosophical systems such as ecological psychology and dynamical systems theory which can contribute to an understanding of connection; (4) to assess some philosophical areas of interest which seem to embody in-discrete principles, such as cognitive science and meaning-holism, and (5) to apply all of these connection-friendly concepts to a reworking of process philosophy. The in-discrete reality which emerges is (i) composed of unbounded entities, (ii) dynamic, (iii) evolutionary, in the sense of every entity having a lineage, (iv) ecological, in the sense of being composed of mutually dependent connected entities, (v) indeterminate, in the sense of being immune to unique characterisation, and (vi) creative, in the sense of being unfinished and open.


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