C-57. Stones

Primitively, we may conceive of geology’s particulars of contingent, emergent materiality (App. XI: CEM) as “stones.” We can pile them up, sort them out, arrange them, cut and/or polish them, throw them at something, flake them to get sharp edges … even (ughly!) paint them. Our acquaintance with them is thereby just that: as stones. But, by now, we know something of their CEM history (i.e., as rocks: they comprise minerals, singly or in combination; as minerals: they comprise chemical elements, singly or in combination; etc.) So now we can do much more with these geological particulars. We refine them and use those products to further our composing. We can do more via composition. We can use their CEM materiality to produce new substances with even more materiality – and new consequentiality for the solutions in our problem solving.

So it’s not that biology’s particulars (humans especially, as behavioral entities) have not come to be able to compose, via the CEM developments in communication and cognition as capacities and capabilities. The trouble is that our realization, and our representation, of behavior is still on a par with geology’s stones. A different “Stone Age,” but a “Stone Age” all the same. (See C-59: “Stone Age education.”) We don’t compose well enough and often enough. Witness our unsolved problems.

Conceptual terms – themselves stones of a sort (C-55) — abound for gross segments of behavior (e.g., actions, practices), to the neglect and misrepresentation of too much that is material in behavior. Biology’s molecularity finds inadequate extension to the molecular in human step making and taking. Cognition and communication – and the composition which depends on these capabilities – are thereby stunted materially. Consider the functional handicap this imposes when collective policy making is needed. Note, for example, the notorious linguistic thistles of negotiation processes.

Practices as behaviors are too much like stones. They are molecularly opaque (App. X). (For once, “black box” seems apt.) The stuff in, of and for composition is not delineated. (Like dance was before choreography?) A culture of practices (a redundancy) represented by concepts grounded only by and to instances of practices is a dangerous combination. Yet much well-intentioned help consists of the helper’s practice, from a repertoire of them, addressed to the beneficiary’s problematic practice. As arranged collisions go, this is not arrangement enough. A theory of practices seems destined to provide summary at the expense of explanation.

Stones re stones: linguistic stones re observed behaviors qua stones. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words won’t hurt a bit” … an anti-proverb mistaken on two counts, only one of which is typically acknowledged. Ideas expressed in words can, indeed, be harmful. But so too are words qua stones that fail to provide adequate representation.

The neglect of behavior in language development is egregious (C-55), explicable though it is when seen in the context of our failure to distinguish the structure of process, together with neglect of the double crystal aspect of behavioral entities and the Nature of Things. A victim of a flawed, biased agenda and of limited technological success (0:S-P, Ps).

How are we to fight the war for peace with such poor equipment?

(c) 2012 R.F. Carter