C-108. Opposition and absence

What Read (C-8: tertiary) are we to make of the phrase, “war and peace” … and of the words, “war” and “peace”? The contrastive phrase suggests a body-body relationship of opposition, an implication of both similarity and difference (X). In body/entity terms, both are states but they differ greatly. They also come across as opposites with respect to a difference in consequences – consequences providing a fulcrum of similarity. However, seen independently of each other in step/behavioral terms, both require realization (App. XIX), a building up from an initial point of needed functionality: i.e., absence. It is this perspective that permits some metaphoric sense to be made of “waging the war for peace” and of deadly “pacification” programs.

The confusion of seeing opposition as though it were absence (e.g., peace as the absence of war) is one problem, that of understanding “peace” only via a weak concept is another and more troubling problem, that of unachieved Realization (C-107). Peace needs realization, an appropriate building up to achieve needed functionality — not a vacuous definition (C-81).

“A or not A” can be ambiguous. The interpretations can be illustrated contrastively as “-1…+1” versus “0…1,” the former representing opposition and the latter representing absence. A better, enhanced view would be:


If we are going to deal productively with Realization, with development of needed functionality, then we are going to want to talk tertiarily in “0…1” terms – i.e., starting from nothing, from absence. And we are going to be thinking historical, of conditions coming about and having come about via contingent emergent materiality (CEM: App. XI), and thinking especially of compositional change and not just of circumstantial change (II). This unlike the ahistorical “-1…+1.” (Note, for example, Bentham’s ahistorical “utilitarian” view of behavior as basically a matter of pain [-10] vs. pleasure [+1]. Similar ahistorical characterizations of behavior [e.g., approach-avoidance, reward and punishment, Behaviorism’s overt body movement] are “-1…+1”-based. )

Both tertiary usages have wide applicability, but CEM-history suggests that the historical, with its increased change via composition, becomes increasingly evident and consequential in the later, most recent sectors of our history – impressively so at the frontier: “our present day” (App. XI, App. XII, App. XVI), where community as developed capability demands compositional change for its very emergence (C-89) … and then successful articulation – interdependence –with its members (XI; C-71), thus to produce, via realization, “a more perfect union” (C-112). So both strands of thought, but in balance and interdependently (XI).
We want to be thinking in terms of problem solving (0…1) and not, say, in terms of mutually exclusive decision making (-1…+1). At least problem solving much more so, given needed functionality, to redress the increasing and dangerous imbalance (XI; App. XVII) between the two (C-51: Decline and fall; C-98: That other climate change).

Similarly, we want to be giving evaluation, re behavioral development (i.e., realization), as much attention as valuation, re positioning and especially decision making (C-31, C-98). The economy’s market technology (C-46) attends to valuation, but even there falters with assessments of much that is or should be valued (e.g., “human values”), and of that which is needed but not yet realized — i.e., not even imagined to be a needed functionality, for which realization must be attempted—as in knowing by trying something out, with evaluation.

It is the need for us to get turned around (C-58), not to start from where we are (C-18) that makes the “0” in “0 … 1” so different from the “0” in “-1 … +1” — and thereby so consequential. When it comes to needed functionality, what is called for (C-110), we need to deal with absence. Consider, for example, the partisan notion in which “0,” in “-1 … +1,” represents “independents” among voters as decision makers. As this category swells in size, it does not augur positively for problem solving. Rather, voting for change per se may increase, preparing the way for polity oscillation and then trauma (XI).

Similarly, the “1” in “0…1” is not the same as the “+1” in “-1…+1.” This is not the “1” bit of possession, the measure of “is” or “has” that we employ in assessing possession, as in calculating percentages of a trait or tendency. This is the “1” of truth, beauty and unity. (See “… toward a more perfect union” in C-112.)

Sometimes, perhaps to establish an identity, opposition will be employed (e.g., atheists?), but if this lends itself to a decision-making agenda then a minority status can be self-defeating of community development. A strategy more conducive to problem-solving might lead others to follow if solutions are in fact forthcoming. Can non-theists, for example, come up with a better solution than the various religions have for Community as a behavioral problem as well as for various situational problems?

Consider too the dysfunctional trend in contemporary political behavior to speak of “issues” (-1…+1) instead of – or, gratuitously, synonymously with — problems to be solved (0…1). The practice has extended over into journalism, where “informed” has been presumed to be satisfied by balanced coverage of what partisans have to say about an issue. What of fairness to problem and those who must solve it? People are not voting or voting “No for president” for a reason.

The “absence” perspective, 0…1, has its own history as, for example, in mythic accounts, wherein the origin of Everything goes all the way back to Nothing. The notion of progress is implicitly of that same cloth. The perspective can shed a helpful light on apparent oppositions, such as the false dichotomy between genetic and environmental influences (both circumstantial views). What of self-composed change necessitated by absence? In the same vein: “Instinct plus outstinct equals extinct;” “Uncertainty is an optional affliction;” and, “Choice is the next worse thing to ‘no choice’.”

And what of partisan Creationists and Evolutionists … the one cedes credit for all of consequentiality; and the other can take credit for, at best, half of body consequentiality and relatively little of step making and taking consequentiality. The former can digest the latter; the latter can find fault in the former re this or that particular consequence. Consequentiality and realization are the losers in this contest. Both partisans reach out toward more of consequentiality (e.g., religious communities; “evolutionary psychology”), but neither all that effectively.

(c) R.F. Carter