Sometime back in August I expected to conclude my pluralism project by the end of Summer or sometime in September at the latest. Didn’t happen.
But what do I mean by concluding the pluralism project? If I may use the Lewis and Clark expedition as a crude geographic analogy, by concluding the pluralism project I mean reaching the Pacific Ocean. At that point the extent of the territory has been gauged, if only crudely and in a preliminary fashion, and now it’s time to assess and get down to serious and systematic exploration.
So why haven’t I hit the Pacific as expected? On the one hand, other things came up; Dumbo and animals, for example, got more intense and time consuming. But also, I’d misunderestimated the territory, which is to be expected. As late as two days ago I expected to reach the Pacific with one more longish post. I’d just done a longish post on unity of being — something I’d intended to include the subject in my reach-the-Pacific post as a section — and once again I was anxious to breathe the ocean air.
Alas, as I thought about the unity of being post I realized that I need another one. So I’ve made an entry in my pluralism file — Unity of Being 2: Conflict and the Self — and have sketched out a top-level topic outline. And THAT’s got me worried:
The Self in the Group
Conflict (Wm. Powers)
Five or six top-level topics, that’s a lot, even for a long-form blog post. Those provisional notions will no doubt change as I start writing, so it might not be so bad. Or it might be worse. If I can bring that one in with single post, then I think I’ll be on track to write the Pacific post. But I don’t make any promises.
All I can say is that I really don’t want Unity of Being 2 to split into 2 and 3. But I don’t really control that. Oh sure, I CAN do whatever I want. I could write the Pacific post this weekend and be done with it. But intellectual projects do have their own integrity and the project would not be pleased if I pushed through to the Pacific in an overly hasty and chaotic manner. It wasn’t so long ago that a second post on Dumbo as Myth became six posts. But that last one DID END the Dumbo project, and in a way I found reasonably satisfying—and reasonable satisfaction is all I ask.
Of course, once I reach the Pacific it’ll be time to wrap it up. That means gathering the pluralism posts into a single PDF and writing an introduction to them. That introduction will, of course, then be a final post in the project.
Beyond that I’ll be preparing a number of PDF’s collecting posts on various aspects of the project in addition to those I’ve already posted, e.g. Ontological Cognition, a Working Paper.
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Until then I offer a little bit of information. As you know, I’ve been using the term “fecundity” as a synonym for Feyerabend’s “abundance.” I got the term from David Hays. But where did he get it?
From Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Harper 1960), which we’d once read in a seminar (at my suggestion). Here’s an example passage. Lovejoy is discussing Plato, the Timaeus (p. 49):
And thus Plato, tacitly making the crucial assumption that the existence of many entities not eternal, not supersensible, and far from perfect, was inherently desirable, finds in his otherworldly Absolute, in the Idea of the Good itself, the reason why that Absolute cannot exist alone. The concept of Self-Sufficing Perfection, by a bold logical inversion, was – without losing any of its original implications – converted into the concept of a Self-Transcending Fecundity.
From that I do not, however, draw the conclusion that this project is but another one of those tedious footnotes to Plato. Nor, for that matter, did I even believe that footnotes to Plato nonsense.
Genealogical links, yes. A profusion of them, an abundance of them. But footnotes, no.
The living cosmos is fecund. Its abundance knows no bounds. Not even those set by Plato millennia ago.