8 Sept 2018

Dupréel (1.4) La consistance et la probabilité constructive, sect 1.4, ‘L’amalgamation’, summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

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[The following is summary and not translation. Bracketed commentary is my own, as is any boldface. Proofreading is incomplete, so typos are present, including in the quotations. Please consult the original text to be sure about the contents. Also, I welcome corrections to my interpretations, because I am not especially good with French.]

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Eugène Dupréel

 

La consistance et la probabilité constructive

 

Part 1

“La consistance”

 

1.4

L’amalgamation

 

 

 

Brief summary:

(1.4.1) As similars come more to group and mutually accommodate to one another, they may advance to becoming a single “solid” where the consistency of the parts gives way to the consistency of the whole agglomerated unit. (1.4.2) Many groupings continue this process toward solidification where the parts fuse and thereby lose their individuality and thus their consistency all while the whole they form, which is solidifying, increases its consistency. But while many of the things around us follow this path of development, there are other things which follow a different developmental trajectory. In their case, the whole they form increases in consistency as the parts mutually affect one another, but the parts in that process likewise increase in consistency, as they increase their individuality and ability to maintain their identity. But even though there is an increase of consistency both on the level of the whole and on the level of the parts, the process of consistency-increase itself may not be a concordant one (as the parts are still further individualizing even as the whole they form increases its consistency.) (1.4.3) Living creatures like plants and animals are the sorts of beings whose parts may increase in heterogeneity and individuality, and thus in their own consistency, all while the whole benefits from this and increases in its consistency too. It is also possible in such advanced beings that the parts will resist the whole’s totalizing tendencies, which can place restrictions on the liberties and consistencies of the parts; these acts of resistance thereby place caps on the grouping’s ability to increase the consistency of the whole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

1.4.1

[The Amalgamation of Agglomerations of Similars]

 

1.4.2

[Beings Whose Whole Increases in Consistency While the Parts Do Too, Despite Increasing Heterogeneity]

 

1.4.3

[Living Beings as Heterogeneously Consistent Wholes]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

 

1.4.1

[The Amalgamation of Agglomerations of Similars]

 

(p.11: “Comme on vient de le voir les semblables ”)

 

[As similars come more to group and mutually accommodate to one another, they may advance to becoming a single “solid” where the consistency of the parts gives way to the consistency of the whole agglomerated unit.]

 

[Recall first from section 1.2.2 that we defined the consistency of a being as its capacity to maintain its identity throughout the variations or “vicissitudes” it undergoes as a result of its interactions and relations with other beings (p.7, section 1.2.2). And next recall some other important notions from the prior section 1.3. The following comes from our brief summary.

(1.3.1) Beings’ vicissitudes can be analogously affected by shared influences, like wind blowing all the different things on a plain. We notice here that beings with analogous vicissitudes have features in common but also distinct ones too. We wonder, do differences in their fates result from differences in their features? To perform our analysis on this matter, we will begin with beings that share more common traits than differences, and we call such beings: similars. (1.3.2) When a variety of things are haphazardly mixed together, that mass can be easily disassembled by one common influence, like wind blowing on a mass of sand, gravel, and large stones. The sand will blow far away but in the same direction and probably all deposit in the same place, while the gravel will move only slightly and the large stones not at all. There groupings were sorted on account of shared powers of affection (of affecting and being affected), and elements with different powers were filtered out from one another. So while they were still their haphazard mixture (sand-gravel-stones), they had little consistency, because their various powers of affection made it such that the identity of the mass was easily disrupted. But after that sorting influence, the parts held together more readily, because they were not contaminated by other elements that would split-off from the group and thereby break the collection apart when a common influence affects the whole conglomerate. (1.3.3) We can thus observe the following. Outside influences affecting a plurality of similars probably result in {1} the similarity of the similars maintaining throughout the affective influences, and {2} the elements coming closer together on account of the separation of the different things and the increase of the consistency of the collective being that constitutes their whole, or otherwise to give rise to this collective being on account of their increased capacity to conserve under the altering factors.

(from the brief summary to section 1.3)

Dupréel reminds us now of similars under the prolonged effect of shared vicissitudes (like the wind blowing the sand out from the sand-gravel-stone mixture) come to form a more homogeneous body where the sand grains are now more intimately in contact. Dupréel now says that all the members of such filtered groupings may come to be so agglomerated to one another that they are transformed into a single solid where the consistency of the members gives way to a more fundamental consistency of their compact gathering. (I am not entirely sure that I follow. Let us keep with our example. We have sand grains as members of the sifted sand body. Each grain apparently has consistency. But that seems odd, because I thought we were taking each grain as elemental and thus its consistency was guaranteed. So perhaps we might think of a sand-gravel mixture, and we think of them tumbling around somehow in an open tumbler such that the gravel grinds the sand grains so much they become tiny air-born particles that sort of “evaporate” away so to speak. Thus under the vicissitudes of the tumbling gravel interaction, each sand grain has lowered consistency. But under the vicissitudes of wind interaction, the sand grains instead flee off to a dune where they reside together. Given how this process has made it such that all the members of the sand, namely, each of the grains, has become very well accommodated to each other, that means they often live, die, move, and modify by the same influences. That got them in the dune to begin with. And suppose further that a particularly well purified part of that sand body is appreciated for the physical properties of its high degree of mutual affective accommodation among the parts that it is placed into an hour-glass. Here the regularity of the physical features and dynamics of the sand grains make it form one agglomerated substance. Even when split between the bulbs, that is normally because it was flipped and the particles in each bulb are connected by a fluid stream of sand from one end to the other. We can thus see an hour’s worth of sand as being like one “solid” body rather than a group of grains that can go off their own ways. And in this state, their mutual accommodation will not strongly destroy one another like the gravel and sand tumbling mixture would. So the consistency of each grain in the hour glass gives way to the consistency of the whole hour’s worth of sand in the glass, now forming one “solid” unit rather than a set of dispersible or mutually destructible individuals/similars.]

Comme on vient de le voir les semblables sous l’effet prolongé de leurs vicissitudes, ont chances de se trouver enfin rapprochés les uns des autres et, par l’éviction corrélative des corps différents d’abord intercalés, ils en viendront à se toucher d’un manière continue. Un pas de plus dans la même évolution pourra les conduire à s’agglomérer les uns aux autres, de telle sorte que la collection des éléments se transforme en un solide unique, et que la consistance de chacun aura disparu au profit de la consistance de leur rassemblement compact.

(11)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.4.2

[Beings Whose Whole Increases in Consistency While the Parts Do Too, Despite Increasing Heterogeneity]

 

(p.11-12: “Au fait, tout ce qui nous entoure n’est-il pas composé ...”)

 

[Many groupings continue this process toward solidification where the parts fuse and thereby lose their individuality and thus their consistency all while the whole they form, which is solidifying, increases its consistency. But while many of the things around us follow this path of development, there are other things which follow a different developmental trajectory. In their case, the whole they form increases in consistency as the parts mutually affect one another, but the parts in that process likewise increase in consistency, as they increase their individuality and ability to maintain their identity. But even though there is an increase of consistency both on the level of the whole and on the level of the parts, the process of consistency-increase itself may not be a concordant one (as the parts are still further individualizing even as the whole they form increases its consistency.)]

 

[In fact, much of the solids around us are composed more or less of these agglomerates that over time have grouped in accordance to their similarities. Now, drawing again from section 1.4.1 above, we have the following idea. The sifting of dissimilar parts and the mutually accommadatory modifications of the similar parts allows the parts themselves each to maintain greater consistency, as they are able to maintain their individual identities better with destructive influences being eliminated, all while the group they form develops a consistency, as the parts are better able to hold together. The idea Dupréel now seems to be saying is that there is like a threshold in this process when the parts start to lose consistency while the whole continues to gain more of it, and that is when, I am guessing, the parts fuse to create a solid, meaning that they lose their identities all while the whole gains a stronger one of its own. Let us consider for example sand that has become sandstone. The grains have fused so much that we would not look at it as a shaped block of sand, like we might find in a sand-castle, but rather something with an altogether different identity that is not “bunch of sand” but is rather, a rock. So we must distinguish these two parallel developments of consistency, that of the group, like the pile of sand, the packed block of sand in the sand castle, or the sand particles fused firmly and ultra compactly in the sandstone block, and alternatively, the consistency of the parts, namely, that of each of the grains individually. So as a group becomes a solid, the grouping gains consistency while the parts lose it, as they shed their individuality. But, Dupréel explains, this sort of homogenizing, unifying, and fusing consolidation that forms solids (where the parts lose their individuality) should not be our concern here. Rather, we should focus instead on those cases where the group’s consistency increases without the parts fusing and thereby losing their own individuality and consistency. The sorts of beings we have in mind have parts that are so sufficiently consistent in themselves that they resist the loss of consistency that would come from their mutual adhesion. In these cases, the increase in the consistency of the group will correlate with an increase in the consistency of the individual parts, even though the process itself may not be a concordant one even while the consistencies of the whole and of the parts may increase. (This last point is still vague for me, but consider a rock and roll band that is starting out with people who are also beginners in music. As they each develop their styles while jamming with each other, they increase their own individual consistency, as their identities as musicians strengthens, and likewise the band as a whole develops an identity that strengthens simultaneously. However, note two things. The players do not develop one same musical “voice,” but rather each is a different voice in a shared musical “dialog.” In other words, the parts maintain their individuality even though the identity of the group strengthens. Also, the process of this development may have been a rocky one, in the sense that their egos may have often come up against each other discordantly. It is not that they must each sacrifice individuality in order to be one band, but rather, through their conflicts and tensions, each must individualize in a way that maximizes heterogeneity while keeping the group and the music together in a consolidated whole.)]

Au fait, tout ce qui nous entoure n’est-il pas composé plus ou moins directement, moyennant force opérations intermédiaires, d’agglomérés de ce genre ? Dès lors, l’évolution d’une collection de semblables que nous avons décrite, avec le double progrès en consistance serait, dans un grand nombre de cas un simple état préparatoire au passage à l’unité d’un solide dont la consistance serait un produit des consistances des éléments et de celle, toute provisoire, du groupe qu’ils ont formé, préalablement à l’agglomération. Des deux progrès en consistance celui du groupe et celui des éléments, seul le premier irait à grandir par l’abolition | de celle des éléments. Mais ce n’est pas ce phénomène très général, dont l’examen et les variétés relèvent directement de la science, qui doit retenir notre attention. C’est au contraire le cas où le processus se poursuit sans que les éléments fusionnent. Il suffit pour cela que l’on se trouve devant une espèce d’êtres semblables assez consistants déjà pour se refuser à cette perte de consistance que serait l’adhérence de l’un avec un autre ou avec plusieurs. Dans ce cas l’évolution probable du groupe comportera un progrès parallèle de la consistance du tout et de celle des individus sans que ce progrès soit assuré d’être toujours exactement concordant.

(11-12)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.4.3

[Living Beings as Heterogeneously Consistent Wholes]

 

(p.12: “Ce cas existe et il est d’importance, ”)

 

[Living creatures like plants and animals are the sorts of beings whose parts may increase in heterogeneity and individuality, and thus in their own consistency, all while the whole benefits from this and increases in its consistency too. It is also possible in such advanced beings that the parts will resist the whole’s totalizing tendencies, which can place restrictions on the liberties and consistencies of the parts; these acts of resistance thereby place caps on the grouping’s ability to increase the consistency of the whole.]

 

[In section 1.4.2 above, we discussed a sort of being whose whole’s consistency increases even while the parts’ consistency (and thus the internal heterogeneity) increases as well. Dupréel says now that an instance of such beings are living creatures. Plants and animals consist of individuals that, throughout their interrelations, are able to resist {1} fusion with one another or getting absorbed one into the other, {2} loss of their individuality, or {3} their mutual destruction until only one is left; and all the while the whole group’s consistency increases. Furthermore, in some of the most developed beings, individual parts might act to resist the tendency of the group to place constraints on the parts’ initiatives and individual consistencies, which can thereby place limits upon the group’s capacity to increase its consistency as a whole.]

 

Ce cas existe et il est d’importance, c’est celui des êtres vivants. Plantes et animaux comportent des individus capables dans leurs rapports communs de résister à des adhérences ou à des absorptions, qui les aboliraient comme individus, ou n’en laisseraient qu’un seul, et cette résistance profite à la consistance du groupe qu’ils forment en commun. Au reste, chez les êtres les plus développés, une autre résistance peut se produire, par laquelle l’individu s’efforce d’opposer un frein à l’emprise du groupe, qui menace, sous couleur d’organisation, de restreindre les initiatives et par suite la consistance propre des particuliers. On trouve ainsi dans le progrès même des êtres, des limites éventuelles au progrès de leur consistance.

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dupréel, Eugène. (1961). La consistance et la probabilité constructive. (Classe des lettres et des sciences morales et politiques 55, no.2). Brussels: Académie Royale de Belgique.

PDF at:

http://www.academieroyale.be/fr/les-publications-memoires-detail/oeuvres-2/la-consistance-et-la-probabilite-constructive/.\

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