ROCCO GANGLE’S “DIAGRAMMATIC IMMANENCE” (2): Ernst Mach and relational ontology

Rocco Gangle proposes three criteria for a metaphysics of immanence: relational ontology, diagrammatic methodology, and category theoretical modelling. These three criteria can be viewed as providing the basic framework (relationality, diagrammatism, categoricity), the positive heuristic, of one possible metaphysical research programme subsumed under the meta-criterion of immanence.

Gangle is ambiguous on this point. He oscillates between two positions:

1) an open pragmatic position where a relational diagrammatic categorical metaphysical research programme is just one possible specification of immanence, linking three areas a concept (relationality), a methodology (diagrammes), and a field (category theory):

In any case, the pragmatic criterion remains crucial. As an entwined philosophical and mathematical approach to thinking in diagrams, what can diagrammatic immanence potentially do? (242).

2) a closed monist position where these three characteristics are intrinsic features of an immanent metaphysics, that can be spelled out in three theses:

• Immanent metaphysics entails relational ontology.
• Diagrams are the appropriate method for investigating immanence
• Category theory is the appropriate mathematics for modelling and
investigating diagrams (2).

This passage from area to thesis, from “a” to “the”, from an experiment to the appropriate way, is constitutive of what François Laruelle calls “philosophical sufficiency”, and that others (Feyerabend, Deleuze) call “monism”. The programme of research that Gangle is sketching out in this book is sufficiently rich, tentative, and open-ended that we can easily excuse any exaggeration in his presentation attributable to his enthusiasm.

Let us take Gangle’s first “thesis”: immanent metaphysics entails relational ontology. We can view Gangle’s project as continuing in the tradition of Spinoza and Deleuze, and as proposing a decisive step forward in exploring a relational ontology.

We have seen that a tendentious re-writing of the history of philosophy has tried to cast doubt on the worth of such an approach by declaring that relational ontology “has had its day” and that it is “incapable of explaining change”. These two dogmatic declarations are easily refuted:

Firstly, relational ontology is a living and ongoing metaphysical research programme, and is demonstrably superior to dumbed down self-contradictory alternatives such as OOO.

Secondly, relational ontology includes temporal, kinetic, and dynamic relations, and is thus far better equipped to account for change than a fairy-tale metaphysic that claims that time is unreal, merely “sensual”.

However, I think we need to keep our options open here. Ernst Mach proposed a general methodology (a sort of heuristic ontology) composed of objects and relations. While it is true that many phenomena involving putative “objects” can be analysed relationally, this need not always be so. The thesis that all objects are only provisional resting places that can be decomposed on further analysis is a very powerful guiding idea, but it is only one possible specific hypothesis within a relational ontology.

For more context and more details on this question of an immanent ontology one can read my paper IS ONTOLOGY MAKING US STUPID?

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One Response to ROCCO GANGLE’S “DIAGRAMMATIC IMMANENCE” (2): Ernst Mach and relational ontology

  1. Pingback: ERocco Gangle : diagrammatic immanence , Category theory and philosophy | Autrement qu'être Mathesis uni∜ersalis : plan vital -ontologique vs plan spirituel d'immanence CLAVIS UNIVERSALIS HENOSOPHIA PANSOPHIA ενοσοφια μαθεσις

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