C-4. Similarity and difference

Sorting things (particulars) out, formally as classification or not, makes the combination of similarity and difference relationships – if not relations — familiar to us. The proceeding makes usage of the object-attribute relationship and of the inside-outside relation to produce inclusion and exclusion relationships (X: Ideational mechanics – especially the needed distinction between relationship and relation [e.g., inside-outside], the latter being relating’s contribution to composing a relationship).

But similarity and difference, as relationships and relations, speak not just to particulars and their differentiation. They also have something to say about generality – or, perhaps with equal pointedness, generality has something to say about them.

Consider, for example, the proposition that Everything stands between None and One (III). So there exists in regard to the particulars of Everything a condition of oneness, but not of One; and there is a condition of non-oneness, but not of None. What else if consequentiality were true to itself – i.e., of consequence? (Both One and None are of no consequence.) Similarity and difference, as relationships, exemplify oneness and non-oneness.

Further, similarity and difference as relations (X: Ideational mechanics), along with before-after and inside-outside, give us a useful way to imagine (VII) and thus to compose (II). We can also use them as relationships for composing: as ingredients and/or as particular circumstances. For example, a difference relationship such as the simple discrepancy can be very consequential as a non-singularity for stopping or starting a step (VIII). The similarity relationship is so much used as to be abused, as in the cases of extravagant metaphor and confounded equivalences (e.g., functional and pragmatic equivalences).

Change differs from difference in comprising both similarity and difference. (Again, the Nature of things is evoked when we speak of change being the Nature or nature of things – whichever is intended.)

For similarity and difference as relationships we can also state that to make a difference in the sense of changing something, it takes some similarity to make a difference. A simple such case is the stability (a oneness) required of conditions attendant to and instrumental in the making of a difference (a non-oneness). (For such reasons are strange alliances formed and/or tolerated.)

More compoundly and complexly, contingencies in either compositional or circumstantial change (II), can be seen and/or expressed via relations and/or relationships of similarity and difference. For example, a difference or several differences may make a difference in making a difference. (Relevance, especially temporal, is a consideration here.)

Similarity plus difference is the reason that partial order is a better reading of the Nature of things than indeterminism, the latter only refuting ONE-type readings of every thing, of all consequences and of consequence per se.

It is possible to interpret after the fact – i.e., provide a theory of sorts about – a set of practices concerned with effectiveness in terms of the parts played by similarity and difference relations and relationships. But that is no substitute for a fuller understanding of the Nature of things, of behavioral necessity, and what they have to say about answering our questions and solving our problems.

(c) 2010 R. F. Carter