Synechepedia

Synechism

Synechism is “the tendency to regard everything as continuous”. The synechist expects to find some continuum coursing between any elements.

The synechist recognizes the elemental as a relational property: elements are not absolute individua; they are marks of the moment analysis takes leave. An element is a promise to unfurl further continua when the analysis resumes.

The different can always be connected. For any opposing ideas, conflicting interests, distinct disciplines, dissimilar forms, or unrelated maters, we can find a path of continuous transformations by which we can move from one pole to the other.1

Conversely, there is always a continuum of difference between that which appears the same. There is an inexhaustible margin for error, incommensurable ratios lurk in everay continuum, unregimented communication is inherently susceptible to mistake and in need of indefinite communication. 2

Excerpts

Indefinite qualification

I carry my doctrine so far as to maintain that continuity governs the whole domain of experience in every element of it. Accordingly, every proposition, except so far as it relates to an unattainable limit of experience (which I call the Absolute), is to be taken with an indefinite qualification … This principle is, of course, itself to be understood in a synechistic sense; and, so understood, it in no wise contradicts itself.

(peirce98_peirc)

Thoroughgoing synechism will not permit us to say that the sum of the angles of a triangle exactly equals two right angles, but only that it equals that quantity plus or minus some quantity which is excessively small for all the triangles we can measure

(peirce98_peirc)

Communalism

Nor must any synechist say ‘I am all together myself, and not at all you.’ If you embrace synechism, you must abjure this metaphysics of wickedness. The selfhood you like to attribute to yourself is, for the most part, the vulgarest delusion of vanity. All [people] who resemble you and are in analogous circumstances are, in a measure, yourself. … All communication from mind to mind is through continuity of being.

(peirce98_peirc)

Mortality

“A friend of mine, in consequence of a fever, totally lost his sense of hearing. He had been very fond of music before his calamity; and, strange to say, even afterwards would love to stand by the piano when a good performer played. ‘So then,’ I said to him, ‘after all you can hear a little.’ ‘Absolutely not at all,’ he replied; ‘but I can feel the music all over my body.’ ‘Why,’ I exclaimed, ‘how is it possible for a new sense to be developed in a few months!’ ‘It is not a new sense,’ he answered. ‘Now that my hearing is gone I can recognize that I always possessed this mode of consciousness, which I formerly, with other people, mistook for hearing.’ In the same manner, when the carnal consciousness passes away in death, we shall at once perceive that we have had all along a lively spiritual consciousness which we have been confusing with something different.”

(peirce98_peirc)

Problematics

  • How do we connect the disparate moments of life in light of our terminal condition.
  • How do I weave myself into the continuity of human being, beyond the point of termination?

Logic

Hypothesis

What appears subjectively in thought and judgment as logic, appears objectively in being and the world as topology (topologie des seins, rather the narrower, but deeply related, mathematical discipline).

Examples

The essence of inference lies in the connections that conduct accesability. \(A \vdash B\) means there is a way of getting from A to B (but the spatialization and topographical aspect of this expression needs to be understood under the corrective light of an immanent critique).

Conversely, an accessible connection is an inferential relation: if we are located at A and B can be accessed thence, then we can infer our possible presence at B.

The etymon of infer hints in the same direction:

in logic, to ’bring in’ as a conclusion of a process of reasoning, 1520s, from Latin inferre “bring into, carry in; deduce, infer, conclude, draw an inference; bring against,” from in- “in” (from PIE root *en “in”) + ferre “to carry, to bear,” from PIE root *bher- (1) “to carry; to bear children.” General sense of “draw a conclusion” is first attested 1520s; intransitive sense is from 1570s. etymonline.com

Elaboration

Whether or not it be the original intention or its actual destiny, I am convinced that (a kind of) logic can be more than

  • Laws of thought (normative, subjective)
  • Structure of language (descriptive, syntactic)
  • The science of judgment (descriptive, semantic)

I work under the conviction that there is a form of logic which gives us the laws of thought, the structure of language, the science of judgment, etc., but only because it pertains to the necessary structure of any form of relation, being, containing, connecting.

The logic I’m after should describe the common ground of being and thought.

Additional Resources

Synechism: the Keystone of Peirce’s Metaphysics
Essay by Joseph Esposito
Short Talk on Synechism
Slidedeck from a non-technical talk I gave at the Recurse Center, Fall 2, 2019.

Quips

Continua cannot be fully represented, tho every representational medium is continuous. We gesture to continua through encoding intension.

Footnotes:

1

Under this banner, consider

  • Synthesis
  • Communication: connecting different minds
  • Resolution:
  • Harmonious work in different fields
  • Transformation
  • Transubstantiation
2

Under this banner, consider

  • Analysis
  • Ineradicable space for miscommunication: refinement, perpetual clarification, qualification.
  • Differences of mind with all agreement (maintain creative tensions).
  • Different tones, allows for independence of the coordinated fields.
  • Differentiation: differentiating the appropriate form the others.
  • Adapting different approaches to different materials.

Bibliography

  • [peirce98_peirc] Peirce, The essential Peirce : selected philosophical writings, Indiana University Press (1998).