C-78. A more material philosophy

Materiality in human endeavor has a long history. It appears in the making of bread and then in countless later recipes. It appears in the making of metallic alloys, such as bronze and then later in carbon steel and plastics. It appears in the alchemic pursuit of higher value metals made from base metals. It appears – or should — in the services and products of education. We epitomize it in the term “manufacture.”

The consequentiality inherent in materiality has not, however, been given the attention it deserves. At least not all of the consequentiality. The part that has been emphasized has been stigmatized as materialism – a segment of consequentiality where behavior’s want/need ratio (XI; App. XVII) is egregiously high. The neglect of the other aspects of consequentiality can be attributed to three other imbalanced ratios (C-39: BPO bias):

Order of things/Nature of Things > 1 (III), which emphasis misses the significance of NoT’s three general persisting conditions: consequentiality, partial order and discontinuity.

Body/step > 1, which emphasis misses facets of consequentiality that inhere in behavior and the interdependence of body and step (App. XV). (Another materialism indictment: “just interested in things.”)

Particular/general > 1, which emphasis misses that consequentiality per se plays out as history; it is a general circumstance and is not limited to particular consequences (the gist of materialism).

All that the NoT’s implies about consequentiality – and therefore materiality — is not made evident in those philosophies enamored of a oneness, of some version of unity. (But see the similarity/difference = 1 ratio of particulars, given partial order.) Even behaviorally bent philosophical perspectives like pragmatism, functionalism and positivism come up incomplete with respect to consequentiality.

So, in the spirit of manufacturing useful alloys, let us propose a more material philosophy fusing the contributions, latent and manifest, from pragmatism, functionalism and positivism. (See App. XI: CEM-pragmatism, CEM-functionalism and CEM-positivism – which extend the behavioral portion of materiality, and redress the BPO bias.)

The making of steps is where the greatest potential of materiality resides, where needed functionality is apparent if not well developed, where consequentiality can be introduced compositionally (via cognition’s asymmetric relations) and not just discovered after the fact as particular consequences, and where making a step is even more positive than taking a step. It’s also the frontier of history (App. XII).

It might be helpful here to think of positivism as being the “base metal” being strengthened by infusions from CEM-pragmatism and CEM-functionalism. That it has long needed strengthening seems evident. A positive attitude is not enough. Nor is a behavioral repertoire comprising such efforts as smiles, hugs, handshakes, greetings, “reaching out,” etc. Nor is effort per se, as important as this is (VI). Perhaps most convincing is seeing that we have given so much attention and resources to dysfunctional behaviors. It started, one might say, with a sin in the Garden of Eden, to be followed by unheeded commandments, punishments for violated norms and other nonconforming behaviors (e.g., deviations beyond the humor threshold), blame for task failures, penalties for statute violations (“law and order”), pills for behavioral disorders … all these and more constituting a defacto negative concept of behavior (behavior thus seen as the “universe” of particular behaviors – i.e., as a summary concept]).

Not only negative but conceptual. What we want to achieve with a more material philosophy is a positive theory FOR behavior. We want a theory that explains behavior before the fact and not just behaviors after the fact (App. XVIII). We need more than concepts that just categorize and/or summarize dysfunctional behavioral particulars, for solving the behavioral problem and to better deal with situational problems (I). (See App. XV: HAS disciplines re problem solving.) We need to be able to positively shape behavior via principled generality from the front end of the molecular step (App. XVII, C-75) … where the impetus for the positive lies with the NoT’s. (Roughly: Control collisions or collisions will control us.) We envision such a theory to lie in the direction toward which BFPS, as a question, leads us.

This more material philosophy has an ontology: The Nature of Things whose qualities, serving as behavioral constants, are the general persisting conditions of partial order, consequentiality and discontinuity. And from which behavioral necessity derives, with functional requisites and imperatives as principles for behavioral entities to heed.

It has an epistemology: Minding capability, as developed in response to these requisites and imperatives (see especially IX: Evaluation imperative) — once behavior (step making and taking) and thus minding are liberated from thralldom to the body (of the observer as well as the observed) and its structural components specified. See III, VII, XI and App. XVI: “Life the double crystal” – the independence and interdependence of body and step.

To be more material (i.e., consequential), a more material philosophy needs technological development to advance its materiality. Of the four kinds of technologies (App. VII: tools, tool-using procedures, procedures, procedural tools), three of them are step-enhancing. To be more material our behavior must become much more material. The contingent emergent materiality of our frontier, the face of the future of history (App. XII, App. XVI) shows this possibility to lie in the further development of cognition, communication, composition and community as capabilities. Although these capabilities are most evident in the later stages of history, they must now come at the front, at the beginning of a more positive molecular step, in the making now of the step to be taken – and in the reinterpretation now of steps taken in the past (App. XVIII).

Take Einstein’s words to heart: Imagination is important. It is in the compositional process that it is so important – i.e., at the front end of step making and taking. Its products, we understand, are something else (varying from counterproductive to very productive), whether as observations after the fact or guides to step taking before the fact.

To be optimally positive, community development should entail aggressive experimentation in the making of community as capability (C-10). Community (aka “chemistry”) is a valued quality in team sports. Experimenting has helped produce that quality, that added materiality, but not on a systemic foundation. That shows in the abusive usage of heat and pressure, both of which are of material import – as seen in geology as well as in human behavior (whether alchemic or in coaching sports teams).

BFPS, a question, may become BFEPS (Behavioral foundations of effective problem solving), an answer* … and a contribution to solutions. See C-79: A serviceable story.

*BFPS was not available as a website designation.

(c) R.F. Carter