Friday, August 20, 2010
Both are medical lexicon and specify the difference between that part of a system (physical organ) that is (chemically) re-active ("parenchyma") and the part of the same system that is (connective tissue) structure ("stroma").
Of course it is true that structure both indicates and precipitates behavior. Equally, activity influences and predicts structure. So, again, things are not so simple as could be hoped. But words like these allow anchoring in critical discussion.
If one can substitute the much more common words "active" and "structural", why bother further confusing this issue with the introduction of the less common and harder to pronounce "parenchyma" and "stroma"?
Well, because understanding is strengthened through multiple contextual mappings. The larger and more varied the link graph, the more obvious become the differences between similar and potentially ambiguous topics or the signs we use as reference.
Also, uniquely, these two words signify the classic subject/object, object/ground, mind/body, I/others, specific/general, instance/class ambiguity in information, language, communication, computation… and existence.
The post modern position, an argument in reaction (over reaction) to the modern or classical "reductionist" (their word) world view is that hierarchical relationships (the kind that would result in a definable difference between a thing and the larger thing of which it is a part) do not in fact exist. The post-modernists present as absolute, that all relationships are "relative" (their word), because they say there is no reliable place to stand by which to judge hierarchy, that relationships are inherently biased to the observer.
What is the baby? What is the bathwater? The postmodernists, frustrated and angry, did King Solomon proud and threw them both out.
If there is anything of use to be learned from this mess it won't come from the (supposedly) blind "all" of classical thinking, or the fruitless "nothing" of the post modernists. I will half agree that relationship is vantage dependent (the answer you get back from the question, "Are you my mother?" depends on who is asking), but this dependence isn't purely local. Vantage can be retooled such that it is, as are spacial dimensions, something that can apply universally at all times and all places at once. By this gestalt, vantage is defined ubiquitously, ridding the hopelessly circular grounding problem at the center of the postmodern argument. When vantage is defined as dimension, it applies equally to all objects. You can switch dimensions at will and not loose the absolute and hierarchical relationships the classicists rightfully found so important.
Yes, the postmodernist (re-invention of the) word "relative" was awkwardly stolen (rather ignorantly) from Einstein. The difference, Einstein made the world more measurable by showing how energy and space-time are transmutable and self-limiting. The postmodernist's naive re-appropriation of Einstein's empirically derived authority, does the opposite – making it impossible to compare anything, ever. The irony here is profound. The postmodernists first stand upon the authority acquired through carful and causal measurement, then they say such measurement isn't possible!
God help the human race.
By the way, if you look carefully at Einstein's two papers on Relativity, you will see the underpinnings of the shiftable but universal vantage that a dimensional grounding provides. There are rules. 1. A dimension must apply to everything and through all time. 2. You can switch dimensional vantage at any time, but 3. You can only compare two things if you compare them within the context of the same dimensional vantage.
Is an attribute a dimension? No. An attribute situates an object in reference to a dimension. An attribute is a measurement of an object according to a property shared by all such objects in that dimension. A property is measurable for a class of objects as a result of the rules or grammar or physics that define a dimension.
The absolute causal hierarchy made all the more impenetrable by Quantum and Relativistic theory makes the postmodern "hard relativist" tantrum all the more ridiculous – especially in light of the fact that postmodernists constantly turn to these twin pillars of physical theory as support of their position. The fatal logical mistake here is the misrepresentation of a property ("relative vantage") as a dimension (rules that provide a stable base from which to define properties – in this case, the novelty of experience guaranteed by the first[?] law of causality: that no two bodies can occupy the same space at the same time).