Tuesday 26 March 2013

Objects and Processes

Are objects processes? There is a view in 2nd-order cybernetics that this is the case. Is it right?

The qualities of processes are different from the qualities of what we think objects to be. I tend to think of  objects as concrete, intrinsically intransitive and heterogeneously composed (composed of many parts). Processes, by contrast, I think are intangible (apart from our abstractions which attempt to describe them), intrinsically transitive, and recursively composed (processes make up processes and so on). If I am a process, I am recursive, intangible and transitive. If I am an object, I am concrete, intransitive and composed of diverse parts.

How can something be intangible and yet we can say it is recursively composed? My idea of process is an object, which in turn is a process (if objects are processes). To think of myself as an object, rather than a process, I would have to say that my concreteness is certainly hard to pin down (which suggests I may be a process!), although the concreteness of a rock is a reasonable assertion. But it is not beyond possibility that rocks are processes! But I would say of myself as an object that I am composed of parts. It may be that those parts are themselves processes, and that I might be a process thinking of sub-processes. I change and yet I am the same.

This hurts my brain!

That's interesting. What happens there? These ideas of processual whirl leads my brain to hurt, and paralyze me into inaction. But part of me is hungry. What has my hunger to do with the processes? Is it just another process? A whirl in my biological mechanism aimed at maintaining the viability of my body? But my brain is equally part of that... How is my biology no more than an idea of how I might be a mechanism? An idea which has parts, recursions, etc.

I am really hungry! I need to eat! But why does this stuff about objects and processes matter? Why am I driven to sort out the difference between processes and objects? Maybe because coming down on one side of the argument or the other, I want to be right. The clambering after the truth of the matter is clambering for status - social advantage in conversation and academic debate. My "rightness" might have a bearing on my influence and power in the world. Because "I want to be right!" is related to "I want to be powerful!", which in turn is related to "I want my life to have meaning!".

If I am right about being a processes, then I am right about the recursiveness - in essence I am right about everything. That makes me very powerful ... if I am right. What I have to do is convince everyone. The promise of a meaningful life and global adoration is only around the corner!! If I am right about being an object, can I only be right about a particular object? Other objects may be different. Maybe I might persuade everyone to categorise all the different kinds of object and produce giant taxonomies! My object-focusedness, if I am right, drives everyone into a kind of bureaucratic methodological process.

But what's driving this is the search for meaning. That appears to be deeply tied up with my relations with other people. It appears to be tied up with love in some way. Meaning may be a coordinating process - a process whereby I anticipate the likely actions of those around me (and anticipate them correctly because I control them!). But the entities which are tied up with my meaningfulness are concrete: other people, who tend to be different, who defy universalising descriptions. If I am a process, they are processes. There must be some Archimedean point where our processes meet.

But there isn't. We are different. I don't think I'm either object or process. If this is (deep down) all about love, then too much thinking can get in the way! We need to concentrate on looking after each other...

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