Relationalism

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In philosophy

Original publication available at SSRN:

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2132969

From Rationalism to Relationalism:

As in the Transformation of a Line into a Sphere

Carmine Gorga

Somist Institute

2001

Abstract

Rationalism possesses enormous practical usefulness, yet it needs revision because it carries with it the seeds of being incorrect anthropologically, epistemologically, philosophically, geometrically, and theologically. Hence, it tends to fall prey to relativism. And relativism easily slides into vulgar absolutism, which states that “everything is relative to man.”

To climb out of this abyss, we must create new modes of thought and expression, which can be examined under the rubric of Relationalism.

Relationalism is an attempt to cure the shortcomings of Rationalism. In so doing, Relationalism makes a fuller use of the positive values of Rationalism. Relationalism maintains that linear thinking must be expanded into spherical thinking.

A New Beginning

We are witnessing the last throbs of Rationalism. The phenomenon is affecting not only philosophy but every other mental discipline, from literature to physics, from economics to art criticism.1 The existence of this vast web of relationships becomes incontrovertible if it is realized that whatever ails each discipline necessarily stems from the innate shortcomings of Rationalism.

This is the negative side of the coin. The positive one is that, if we cure what ails Rationalism, we will gradually be able to cure what at present ails all other mental disciplines. That is indeed the function of a dominant philosophical system. Whether the linkages are explicitly stated and recognized or not, the philosophy of the age provides the underlying structure for all mental disciplines of the age.

Intellectually, Rationalism has for the most part fallen prey to relativism.2 Coming down from incredible heights of certitude propounded over the last few centuries precisely with the assistance of Rationalism, again as at the end of the Renaissance, we are no longer certain of almost anything. Thus, we are back at the starting point of Rationalism. We must start again.

This time we can start not with a frontal thrust into the depths of agnosticism, but with a much easier task, the attempt to mend the structure of Rationalism. We will start from a reasoned analysis of the roots of Rationalism.

This paper is divided into four parts. Part I attempts to analyze some of the shortcomings of Rationalism. Part II outlines the major characteristics of Relationalism. Part III attempts to describe the methodology of Relationalism. Part IV gives an indication of some of the possible applications of this new methodology. In a few concluding comments, the paper makes some suggestions for speeding up the tempi of application of Relationalism.

Part I — Shortcomings of Rationalism 

Rationalism as Prey of Relativism

Rationalism has clearly fallen prey to relativism. If the existence of this phenomenon is granted, how did it happen? As we will see, the reason is because the structure of Rationalism carries with it the seeds of being incorrect anthropologically, epistemologically, philosophically, geometrically, and theologically. These weaknesses become manifest if for a moment we go back to the beginning of Rationalism and try to analyze its roots. If we do that, we realize that Rationalism was born as an incomplete response to what might be called naïve realism.

Rationalism as an Incomplete Response to Naive Realism

Rationalism is an incomplete response to a train of thought which started with the Greeks and was powerfully reinforced by the explicit acquiescence to it by St. Thomas Aquinas. This train of thought can be characterized as naive realism. Naive realism, in its attempt to extricate itself from the alluring vagaries of the mind, which have traditionally assumed a variety of forms from Platonic idealism to the rich array of nominalism and conceptualism, maintains that what exists is.3 Existence, then, becomes the basis of reality and the beginning of analysis.

This is a small error, which is formulated in a variety of expressions. But, as both Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas knew full well, a small error at the beginning becomes a great error at the end. The error is fundamental. Rationalism tried to heal it, and did not succeed. The significance of this error becomes most evident if we examine the failed effort of Rationalism to mend it.

With no epistemology supplanting the uncertainties into which the sophisticated agnosticism of the Renaissance had plunged us and logic evaporating into the syllogistic formalism of the Scholastics, all culminating in the abuse of casuistry, Descartes thought we could escape into certainty by shifting the ground of realism from the outside world of things to the internal world of the mind. Paraphrasing, so to bring the issues in greater evidence, he stated: I exist as a thinking human being, therefore I am.

With the benefit of hindsight, we now realize that this minimalism of Rationalism did not — and could not — let us escape the limitations of naive realism. It is now becoming increasingly clear that it only made matters worse. Here is a brief analysis of an otherwise well known territory.

Weaknesses of Naive Realism

The weaknesses of naive realism are many. They become most evident if they are analyzed as being part of the very structure of Rationalism. Naive realism is incorrect logically, epistemologically, philosophically, and theologically. These errors are put in higher relief when the linear structure of Rationalism is observed from an anthropological viewpoint. Anthropologically, when men and women are recognized only as a thinking entity, they are reduced to a minimalist abstraction, namely a thinking machine devoid of feelings and devoid of material needs. Logically, just as the principle of identity is impotent unless it is placed in relation to the principle of non-contradiction, so this thinking machine is reduced to impotence because it cannot get out of itself: there is no way for this A to become not-A; there is no way for this entity to deny itself. Epistemologically, this entity is given no objective tools that it might trust and use in its understanding and discovery of the world outside itself: from the given premise, outside itself, there is only itself. (These are points made most firmly, even though incompletely, by Benedetto Croce who taught us that men and women know only dialectically: we know white only in opposition to black; hence, men and women need something outside themselves to acquire certainty4). Philosophically, naive realism is incorrect at two levels: at the level of hidden premises, it does not distinguish being from existing (this is the small error at the foundation of the thinking of Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Descartes) and, impossibly, it attributes to existing the qualities of being. Naïve realism assumes that existing is being; that existing is real. The error has self-evident theological implications that are better examined in a moment in a more appropriate context.

At first sight, this assessment seems highly implausible. It seems improbable that Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Descartes should have committed such an elementary error as not to distinguish between existing and being. And, of course, they did not consciously commit such an error. The error was thrust upon them by an apparent lack of alternatives. If one does not start the analysis from what exists, where can one start?

Yet, there is an alternative. The alternative comes forward by standing on the shoulders of these giants. The alternative comes forward by going to the very depth of their line of reasoning. (At the end of this line of reasoning we shall find, not a line — clearly, an intellectual construction that has no correspondence in reality — but a sphere. Hence, Rationalism leaves something to e desired even from the point of view of geometry, the mental discipline on which it relied most to develop its methodology.5) The alternative is to consider not only being and existing, but also the relationships between these two entities. The alternative, in other words, springs forward if we transform Rationalism into Relationalism.

Part II — Bare Bones of Relationalism 

Being as the Absolute

Philosophically, among the whole set of attributes of being, the most important are these. What is — alone —dialectically includes the category of existing. (The small error at the beginning of naive realism, an error that is bodily carried over into Rationalism, consists in not realizing that the converse of this proposition is not valid: existing does not include being; existing can only be a part of being; therefore, existing is not being). What is — alone — exists in time and out of time; namely, it forever was, it is, and it will forever be. What is — alone — by reconciling within itself all opposites is the epitome of perfection: it is true, it is beautiful, it is good, and just. Indeed, it is absolutely true, absolutely beautiful, and absolutely good and just. It is the Absolute.

This is the foundation of Relationalism.

Two observations are in order here. It takes a moment’s notice to realize that human beings — making an effort of the will and with a sense of humility — can get outside of themselves and reach this conclusion on the strengths of Rationalism. It is because the “I” thinks, and relies on the conquests of a multitude of other thinkers, that the I can make such pronouncements about the Absolute. And that is not enough yet. The second observation is essential to the completion of this point. The I can accept such pronouncements only on the basis of the understanding of not-being. Thus the essential contribution of agnosticism to the thought process. It is only when the I can choose between being and not-being that the I can make an informed selection — and with the help of Pascal’s wager can opt for the existence of being.

These are some of the reasons why, to one’s great surprise since the error was ratified by a thinker no less theologically sophisticated than St. Thomas Aquinas, naive realism is incorrect theologically. It is not what exists that is. It is the Absolute that is. It is the Absolute, or theologically speaking, God that is.6

Indeed, philosophically speaking, only the Absolute is; or again theologically speaking, only God is.7

Partial Vindication and Major Fault Line of Relativism

If only the Absolute is, everything else must be relative. There is no alternative. Hence relativism is partially vindicated — and the great uncertainties of our age are validated. But this is neither the beginning nor the end of the discourse.

True, everything is relative. Yet, this is an empty proposition. One must still decide, relative to what?

The great error of relativism does not stem from a philosophically robust agnosticism or even solipsism, but from the abyss of vulgar absolutism. As a logical consequence of the Cartesian thinking machine’s general unwillingness to get out of itself, the answer most commonly given to the question, to what is everything relative, is this: Everything is relative to man. It is in this proposition that the self-destructive slippery slope of vulgar absolutism finds its origin. These are not words but deeds. The fanatical absolutism of the right, in its various forms from Dickensian to Nazi horrors, have given rise to the hallucinatory absolutism of the left, in its various forms from Robesperrean to Communist horrors. The center held until it gave in to a farcical absolutism that degenerated into the consumerism of the Me Generation. This is the consumerism that isolates people and reduces them to money-making-and-spending machines. This is the consumerism that celebrates death.

But consumerism by itself is a non-issue. There is also the consumerism that puts people in contact with each other, the consumerism in which things become extensions of one’s personality. This is the consumerism that celebrates life.

The Slow Climb out of the Abyss

Clearly, we must climb out of the abyss of vulgar absolutism and the climb cannot be but slow, yet not necessarily painful. We must heed Einstein’s warning that “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”8 We must create a whole set of new modes of thinking. These modes of thinking might be examined under the rubric of Relationalism.

Relationalism as the Road to Recovery

Relationalism is not a denial of the values of Rationalism, which are many and well known, but an expansion of those values; thus Relationalism becomes an automatic potential escape from the limitations of Rationalism.

The fundamental question of relativism must be given a direct and satisfactory answer. If everything is relative, then there must be an absolute to which everything is related. Since the search for this absolute within the reality of man has led to the abyss of vulgar absolutism, it stands to reason that we must search for this absolute outside the reality of man.

Many have traditionally found the absolute outside man; they have capitalized this Absolute, and given it any of the names for God: Yahweh, Our Father, Allah, Brahma, Great Spirit. This conclusion is inescapable, and as such it is realistically accepted, but it is recognized only as a partial and preliminary conclusion reached within the train of thought pursued here.

From within the context of philosophy, we are impelled to ask: Have we inextricably fallen into the arms of religion?

From Traditional Analysis to a Third Road

So far, ours is very traditional and, from many points of view, inescapable analysis. Analysis however also suggests that, in order to climb out of the abyss of vulgar absolutism and avoid the danger of any repetition of falling into it ever (?) again, we must conclude not simply that the Absolute is. We must be firmer than that. We must conclude that only the Absolute is; everything else simply exists.

If we agree that only the Absolute is and that everything else exists, then it is easy to recognize that everything else, namely, the reality of men, women, and the cosmos exists only in relation to the Absolute — in relation to God.

It is at this juncture in our analysis, when we realize that we have fallen deeper into the bosom of religion, just as we resign to our destiny of being limited men and women, it is then that a great transformation occurs. Our consciousness impels us to remain faithful to our starting point in the analysis. Our concern was neither with being, nor with existing. Our concern was with reality. What is real? This is the cry that has been uttered for ever and, most insistently, for the last eight hundred years.

In answer to this cry, our consciousness, abruptly, makes us realize that the reality is relational — hence all philosophy must be relational. This is indeed a third road. It starts its analysis neither from being nor from existing, but from both being and existing — and from the interrelationships between being and existing. (Thus our consciousness is placed again at the center of the universe, as it was during the Renaissance. Indeed, does not contemporary cosmology suggest that the cosmos is infinite? If that is again a maintainable proposition, then the conclusion is evident: every particle is at the center of the cosmos. Man is again at the center of the universe.)

All Philosophy Is Relational

While the first proposition of Relationalism, the basic, preliminary proposition that “everything exists in relation to the Absolute,” can be taken as correct from the point of view of philosophy and, naturally, theology, it must be recognized that such a proposition is not and cannot be the end-all and cure-all for the ills afflicting our contemporary culture. In the end, many a nasty act has been justified on the basis of a blind belief in God. And the “fundamentalists” in any religion are not the only guilty party. Fundamentalists in many a secular train of thought have been equally, if not more, guilty of equally horrid effects. Clearly, much more needs to be done if we want to climb the long road out of the abyss of vulgar absolutism.

The fundamental proposition of Relationalism that one must explore from every angle and in every field of observation is that all that exists, exists in relations. Reality is relational. Being is. And since we are limited, we can see, touch, and understand being only in its existing. Thus existing also is — it has its reality as a part of being (thus the initial “error” of Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Descartes becomes smaller and smaller the more closely it is observed). Yet, these statements are still very elementary. We graduate to another level of thinking when we analyze not only being and existing, but also the relationships between being and existing.

This conclusion is not a blind repetition of a statement that is almost commonplace today. That everything exists in relations is not an automatic conclusion of a facile relativism.9 It is a conclusion that Relationalism reaches, obtaining it not only from strict philosophical reasoning but also from the methodology of Relational Logic and the epistemology of Complementary Knowledge.

Let us briefly look into these two supporting pillars of Relationalism. Before proceeding, however, it might also be useful to point out that there is in Relationalism a third pillar which, often, sustains solid reasoning; this is the pillar of mathematics. For various reasons, the examination of this pillar is eschewed here. I have presented its geometry elsewhere.10 Indeed our program of research is more simply exposed geometrically than literally. It can thus firmly be said that we must transform the line (the linear mode of analysis) of Rationalism into a sphere. At every step, our analysis must be extended in all directions; hence, it becomes much more complete than the analysis of Rationalism.

Part III – The Methodology of Relationalism

Bare Bones of Relational Logic

Relational Logic is a new system of logic that I discovered and used while working on Concordian economics. For a long time in my research, I was faced with two models of the economic system.  They were both mathematically consistent. Hence mathematics became an impotent tool for choosing between the two models. I searched for other objective methodological tools and eventually I found them scattered in a variety of sources. All that I did was to put ancient principles of logic together into a new system, which I eventually called Relational Logic, and obtained the following results.

Unquestionably I accepted the validity of the Principle of Identity. Notwithstanding Hegelian reservations, I also accepted the validity of the Principle of Non-Contradiction. Then I observed that — whether consciously or unconsciously — logicians have constantly been in search of a third principle as a linkage to support the other two. Classical logicians formulated the Principle of Excluded Middle; Descartes developed the Principle of Indifference; Hegel conceived the Principle of Process; Eastern thinkers use the Principle of Contrast. Unable to profitably use any of these principles because of their excessive vagueness and lack of specificity, I adopted the Principle of Equivalence as the third principle of a complete system of logic. This is a principle with an impeccable pedigree. I found it used by thinkers much more ancient than the Greeks, and found the beginning of its codification in the thought of Boethius. The usefulness of this principle lies in its very detailed set of internal rules, which with the passage of time have become more and more exacting: the three entities that are subjected to analysis — and there must be three entities, otherwise there is no relation of equivalence — must each be reflexive, symmetric, and transitive. To establish a relation of equivalence, then, nine sets of proofs must be met.

To remain on the bare bones of the issues, we have to be aware that the principle of identity is an identity relation, that an identity relation is an equivalence relation looking inward, and that the principle of identity explains A by putting it in relation to not-A.

The conclusion of this analysis is that the rules of logic are all rules of relations. Hence Relational Logic. These rules come alive as they are used in conjunction with the epistemology of Complementary Knowledge.

Bare Bones of Complementary Knowledge

While our mind is finite, facts are infinite — and infinitely changing; therefore, facts cannot be understood directly. As soon as one makes peace with this basic proposition, one is also liberated from the alluring appeal of a whole set of theories of knowledge that range from inductivism to positivism. But one is not left free to fall into the arms of various forms of abstract deductivism either.

If one goes in search of a golden mean, one is likely to find it on the basis of the fundamental proposition that facts are understood through the mediation of tools of cognition, tools of epistemology that have been developed over the millennia through an ever larger level of abstraction. The most important such tools can be listed as names, ideas, concepts, theories, systems of thought, and lately computer models, so that we can instantaneously analyze the effects of a change in any assumption on the entire system. Eventually, through computer models we also ought to more easily implement the suggestions of each theory and system of thought, because some of their most evident pitfalls should be avoided through computer simulation, rather than crude experimentation.

Complementary Knowledge makes use of these tools, clearly distinguishing one from the other, and by using them all in a systematic and coordinated fashion.

All too briefly, based on work that I have done in economics, Complementary Knowledge suggests that in each mental discipline we verify the content of each one of the tools of cognition and accept it only after subjecting it to the scrutiny of the rules of Relational Logic. As a result, in its search for truth Complementary Knowledge proceeds most cautiously but most assuredly and resolves many a conflict by the use of the double conjunction “and also.”  For instance, it recognizes that color is made of white and also black, namely the complementarity of white and black in the theory of color; or the complementarity of good and evil in the theory of morality.

This method of proceeding leads to mature realism.

Part IV – Some Applications

Relational Modes of Thought and Expression in Political Science

The germ of Relationalism sprouted in the early sixties in the field of political science. This was the height of the Cold War. The world was polarized between two extremes. One group assumed that the political reality is grounded in the individual and the other that the reality is grounded in society. Neither faction was ready to consider that the individual does not exist without a society, namely that the individual alone is an abstraction, and that a much greater abstraction is society without individual human beings.

I assumed that the reality is composed of men and women living in society. Hence, I meshed individualism and collectivism into a new theory that I called Somism, namely the system of thought and practices of the social man, the civilized person.

The value of Somism, of course, lies in the fact that it allows us to make three separate investigations: one about the individual person, the other about society, and the third about the relationships between the two entities.

Relational Modes of Thought and Expression in Economics

In 1965, I changed one equation in Keynes’ model of the economic system and found myself plunged in a new intellectual world. To be credible to myself and to others, I developed the methodology of Relationalism and was able to gradually build a new structure, a structure that is composed of three levels —namely, economic theory, policy, and practice; a structure that, for its extraordinary degree of internal and external cohesion, I like to call Concordian economics.

Economic Theory. While Keynes’ model of the economic system yields the equality of Saving to Investment, whereby savers and investors are presumed to be the central economic actors, the new model yields the equality of Investment to Consumption. This relationship began to make sense to me and to other economists as soon as I used expressions well known to Classical economists and enlarged the equality into an equivalence. At that point, I was faced with the equivalence of Production to Distribution to Consumption. In the new system, the central actors are producers, consumers, and owners of wealth.

Classical economists conceived of those three phenomena as three separate and sequential events. Relationalism allowed me to see them as three instantaneous and intimately interconnected events. Everything happens at once. At a primordial stage, I produce, I apportion the ownership rights on what I produce to myself, and I consume my production in the very act of gathering the apple from the tree and eating it. The same chain reaction occurs in a modern industrial society, only time intervenes to separate those events from each other. It takes time for me to consume the steel that I produce. Analytically, of course, I need to keep those three major economic events separate from each other. While production conveys the understanding of a human effort to produce anything; distribution becomes the division of ownership rights among producers; and consumption expresses the separation of the real economy from the financial economy, whereby I can monetize the wealth I produce and have a more rational flow of its consumption by transforming the steel I produce first into money and then into bread.

I do not want to and I cannot belabor the point. But this is the essence of the economic process. This is the essence of economic theory. I only need to specify two points. Through a series of economic models, these literal expressions lead themselves to full translation into the language of mathematics and econometrics. Also, the primary importance of Concordian economics ultimately lies in the fact that it yields a new understanding of the possibilities of economic policy.11

Economic Policy. My central thrust in economic policy consists in an attempt to integrate the thought of Henry George, Louis D. Brandeis, and Louis O. Kelso into one coherent unit. Upon consideration, it becomes evident that these three thinkers were separately concerned with the three factors of production taken into account by Classical economists: land, capital, and labor. I have only proceeded to split the field of capital into physical and financial capital. The analysis of these three writers becomes clearer if their fields of study are presented not as a series of sequential events but as an organic set of policies and interrelationships that are concerned at once with the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth. Thus we can eventually have an enrichment of the field of economic policy, from the poverty of monetary and fiscal policy to which it has been reduced, to (a) a policy on land and natural resources, (b) an industrial policy that is concerned with the way we organize our modern societies, (c) a monetary policy that is built from the bottom up, and (d) an expansion of the current jobs-and-wage policy into an ownership policy.

It is in the writing of the present paper, however, that the key relationship inherent in my work in the area of economic policy has become manifest. The relationship between land, capital, and labor has a precise correspondence in three major ages of political economy: land capitalism, an age that prevailed up to the Renaissance; financial capitalism, an age that has been prevalent ever since the Renaissance; and human capitalism, an age still to come. In the future, the benefits of both land and financial capitalism have to be extended to one hundred percent of the people who are engaged in the production process. Land and financial capitalism have so far been five-percent-capitalism.

With human capitalism, people will gradually learn to develop a proper set of relationships with other human beings and with the world of goods and services. This is going to be the core of the transformation of Relationalism from an array of various theories to the practice of daily living. The transition might occur through the transmission belt of economic rights and responsibilities.

Economic practice. In the middle nineties, my work led me to explore the relationships that exist between politics, economics, and the law. Again, the equivalence of production to distribution to consumption guided me to discover that the theoretical work in economic justice had been arrested at the level reached by the Scholastic Doctors. They had analyzed all the nuances of the theory of Distributive Justice (principles used in the distribution of income and wealth) and Commutative Justice (principles used in the exchange or sale of wealth). What remains to be worked out are the principles of justice to be applied in the production of wealth — or Participative Justice.12 In this field I have proposed that the principles be a set of economic rights and responsibilities that apply to land, capital, and labor. The application of these principles, I like to predict, will result in human capitalism.

If people who produce wealth are entitled to a fair distribution of the ownership of the wealth they produce, a whole set of interrelated phenomena will occur. By integrating all costs of production into the production process, there will not longer be any disassociation, as at present, between needs and wants. People will be ready to cover the costs of satisfying needs and will keep wants under control. Stability will be added to the economic system and a relationship of stewardship will be developed with the world of nature.

Relational Modes of Thought and Expression in Physics

Einstein established the relationship between matter and energy and called it equivalence. Such is the separation of the mental disciplines from each other in the modern rational world that neither physicists nor logicians — nor, indeed, theologians — seem to have noticed that for an equivalence to be a proper logical relationship one needs to have three terms in a certain relationship to each other. What is the third term to which both matter and energy are related?

I was at forty thousand feet in the air over the Atlantic in 1997 when, coming back from Europe and reading Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics (1984), I asked that question and the answer became incontrovertible to me. I established this equivalence relation:

Matter = Energy = Spirit.

This equivalence did not spur me to learn much more than I ever did about matter and energy. The very little I know in the fields of matter and energy keeps me very humble in front of those two constructions of our minds. But that equivalence empowered me to stick my nose under the tent of theologians. This dabbling has led to a couple of relationships that I find interesting in the field of the spirit.

Relational Modes of Thought and Expression in the Field of the Spirit

One of the first things I ever discovered in my study of theology is that all great religions are based on an equivalence relation:Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu; Yahweh, the Messiah, and the Spirit; God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; Allah, Vali Asr, and the Spirit of Allah. Thus all theology is fully relational.

This discovery has led me to ask whether theologians will ever be able to establish this equivalence relation:

Yahweh = God (or Brahma or the Great Spirit) = Allah.

If they concentrate on what unites the human race, all the while reveling on the respective differences among these concepts, theologians will some day indeed be able to establish the above relationship of equivalence. If they make this great leap forward, they will also discover the immense possibilities of establishing the following equivalence relation:

Messiah = Jesus (the son of God, or nature) = Vali Asr.

If they offer this relationship for the deepest consideration of all human beings, they might discover that, no matter the essential defining formal differences of those three major concepts the last equivalence relation establishes an undeniable structural and formal identity between the three major monotheist religions (while opening up relationships with all polytheistic religions). Is Vali Asr, the revered Hidden Imam, whose appearance someday, Shiite Muslims believe, will establish the perfect Islamic political community any different from the Jewish Messiah? And are the Jewish Messiah and Vali Asr that different from the true Jesus? Quite apart from the historical Jesus, has the spiritual Jesus truly come yet in each one of his disciples?

Recommendations for Implementation

It is the deepest possible analysis of the full array of interrelationships posited above that might eventually lead to an appreciation of what unites us all as human beings. Truthful answers to those implicit or explicit questions might even yield peace on earth. Certainly, we will not perish in a sea of uniformity; rather, nourished by the same earth, we will all blossom in the infinity of individuality.

If such is the potential of the program of research outlined above, how can we speed up the tempi of much further analysis and eventual implementation of the discoveries of Relationalism?

In the past I have issued a slew of recommendations concerning economic theory, policy, and practice.13 The reality of these days impinges upon me to extend my recommendations to areas in which I am not an expert. They are more or less related to the imagination, the mind, and the heart.

Recommendations concerning the imagination. At one level, in our daily routines there is the struggle of the imagination vs. the mind. Somehow our Western civilization has been compelled to separate the two functions of a human being. Is it incorrigible optimism that makes me hope that we are on the verge of eliminating this dangerous dichotomy? Will Benoit Mandelbrot and his disciples be able to create new Arabesque figures with the power of fractals? If we are capable of doing that, by uniting mathematics and art we will eliminate a great source of friction created by those who believe that the work of the mind is separate from the work of the imagination.

Recommendations concerning the mind. If I were a University President, how would I immediately make some use of the inner workings of Relationalism? I think I would soon establish a Relational Department, entrust it to philosophers, and ask them to conduct seminars in which they would give the floor to members of each one of the other departments to present their thought to members of all other departments and keep notations about the relations that participants see emerging from the discussions. No paper would any longer be published by any member of the university without going through this type of true peer review process. Certainly, I would no longer tolerate a Divinity Department in which there were no theologians who strongly profess at least the three major monotheistic faiths. The only conditions for their remaining in the employ of the university would be that they spend all their lunch hours together.

Recommendations concerning the heart. If I were the Secretary of the United Nations, or even the head of any state, I would be struck by a simple observation. We have plenty of departments of defense and war, but no department of peace. How to fill this gap? I am firmly convinced that such a department should be established, be well endowed, and focus on the training of groups of young men and women who in the name of their respective religions would go, at least three by three, house by house attempting to pacify one home at a time in all the trouble spots of the world.

 

Notes

  1. For me, the epitome of the end of Rationalism in literature/art is Magritte’s statement/painting: ce nes pas une pipe. In physics, see Heinz Pagels, Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature (1982). In economics, follow the fault line of the discussion about rationality as the foundation of economic of decisions. In art criticism, see, e.g., Allan Bloom, Love and Friendship (1993).
  2. For the practical effects of relativism, see esp. Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor (1993).
  3. The conflation of many meanings that makes naïve realism possible is perhaps best represented by this sentence by St. Thomas Aquinas, a sentence that he formulated to validate Aristotle’s teaching on the subject: “But ‘essence’ is used inasmuch as it designates that through which and in which a being has the act of existing” (On Being and Essence, chap. I, In Selected Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, Robert P. Goodwin trans., NY: Macmillan, 1965). There and elsewhere, being is consistently defined as “that which is,” in any of its great variety of manifestations.
  4. The work to be consulted in this relation is his Logic as the Science of Pure Concept (1909).
  5. The essential work to be consulted in this relation is Descartes’ Discourse on the Method (1637).
  6. The analysis in the text seems to be confirmed by this statement by St. Thomas Aquinas: “It is evident, therefore, that an intelligence is a form and an act of existing and that it has its act of existing, from the First Being which is existence only; and this is the First Cause, God” (Loc. Cit., chap. IV).
  7. When speaking theologically, St. Thomas Aquinas of course knew that only God is. Not only did he often cite Exodus 3:13, 14, he also stated: “…God alone is Being by virtue of His own Essence…” (Summa Theologica, I, 104, 1).
  8. Quoted in Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden, eds. Einstein on Peace (New York: Avnet Books, 1981 ed, p. 376). From a pamphlet published by Beyond War in 1985 entitled A New Way of Thinking.
  9. Indeed, relativism is completely separate from Relationalism. The easiest proof is this. Relativism leads to the conclusion that all meaning is relative and therefore changing; Relationalism preserves the constancy of meaning within each system of thought.
  10. 10.In reduced form, take a segment of a line; spin it about its center at ever increasing speed, and you obtain the image of a circle; pull the center of the circle away from its shadow point on the back of the circle; inflate the construction until you obtain a sphere.
  11. 11.For details, see Carmine Gorga, The Economic Process (Lanham, MD: The University Press of America, forthcoming).
  12. 12.See Carmine Gorga, “Toward the Definition of Economic Rights,” Journal of Markets and Morality 2 (1999).
  13. 13.See esp. Carmine Gorga, “The Revised Keynes’ Model,” Atlantic Economic Journal 10 (September 1982); “Four Economic Rights: Social Renewal Through Economic Justice for All,” Social Justice Review 85 (January/February 1994); and, with Stuart B. Weeks, “Fisheries Renewal: A Renewal of the Soul of Business,” The Catholic Science Review 2 (1997).
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