perjantai 19. tammikuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 1 – Connecting things

In previous post, we saw Darjes define basic notions of thinkable and possible and various determinations thinkables and possibles can have. The next step is to relate especially the possibles in various ways to one another. The most basic concepts in this relating are those of succession and coexistence. Darjes does provide definitions for these terms, but these definitions are somewhat circular or at least rely on our notions of what it means e.g. that a thing stops to exist, when another comes to existence. Thus, we might as well take these two notions as primitive relations, on basis of which temporal and spatial relations in general can be founded.

As one might have suspected, the primary mode of connection Darjes considers is that of reason/ground – that which makes something to be what it is. Darjes is one of the most careful philosophers in making distinctions between various forms of ground. The most important distinctions lie, firstly, between reason for the possibility of something and reason for the actual existence of something, and secondly, between a metaphysical/synthetical reason, which makes something be in itself what it is, and logical/analytic reason, which makes us know what something is. Further distinctions concern the questions whether a reason is by itself sufficient to ground something, whether a reason for something lies within the thing grounded or outside it and whether reason has truly caused something to occur or merely removed some obstacles preventing something to occur.

Like all Wolffians, Darjes is not happy to just define notions, but he wants also to show where they can be deployed. Especially the question of metaphysical reason of existence is important. Darjes notes that since essences must necessarily be, there really can't be any metaphysical reason for their existence. Instead, it is only us who can have analytical reasons for knowing that some essence exists, that is, we might have reasons for knowing something is possible.

If essences do not need metaphysical reasons, the connection of essences – or in general, any subjects – with further determinations not implicit in them does require. In essence, Darjes shows here his commitment to a version of the principle of sufficient reason. Like other Wolffians before him, Darjes tries to argue for this principle, but his arguments clearly just presuppose a number of things. Darjes suggests that a determination without a reason to back it up would not be able to prevent its opposite to latch on to the same subject, which would inevitably cause contradictions. In other words, Darjes merely presumes that some explaining or even causating factor is required for connecting a particular non-necessary and possible determination to a thing – or what amounts to the same thing, for removing the opposite determination. Darjes also hastily assumes that this presumption requires the stronger supposition of a sufficient reason – that is, that for the connection of a subject and determination there must be a finitely describable series of reasons, ending with a final reason, which requires no reason beyond itself.

The first particular kind of reason Darjes considers is the essence as a reason of some affections of a thing. Such affections Darjes calls attributes, although he at once admits this concept has two meanings, depending on whether the essence is the reason of their actuality or possibility – thus, attributes could be divided into actual and possible attributes. Now, some possible attributes might still require another reason for making them actual affections of the thing in question. Such affections would not be actual attributes. While most of the Wolffians would just name these non-attribute affections modes, Darjes has still some more divisions to make. The reason actualising the non-attribute affection might be something external to the thing in question, and in that case Darjes speaks of a mode. Then again, this reason might be something intrinsic to the thing, although not its essence – Darjes calls this a mode by analogue. These modes by analogue are an interesting addition to the normal classification of determinations of things. Firstly, they resemble modes, because they are not grounded on the essence of the thing: hence, they are at least analogical to modes. Secondly, they still resemble in a sense attributes more, because they do not require anything external to the thing for their explanation.

Even modes are not a simple group in eyes of Darjes. The modes in the most proper sense are actualised just through some external effective reason. Yet, Darjes says, some modes might also have partial actualising reason in something within the thing in question (Darjes also calls these affections mixed non-attribute affections). In effect, such immediate modes would otherwise be actualised by something internal to the thing in question – and would then be just modes by analogy – but some obstacle prevents this actualisation, which then requires some external reason removing this obstacle. Noticeably, while the place of relations in relation to modes has been somewhat murky in the Wolffia tradition, Darjes clearly takes them to be a subspecies of modes – modes divide into intrinsic modes, such as qualities and quantities, which can be cognised without any reference to other things, and into extrinsic modes or relations, the cognition of which requires a reference to other things.

At this moment, after going through all these various determinations things could have, Darjes makes a detour to different ways things could be distinguished, apparently through these various affections. Some distinctions, Darjes begins, concern merely the words used – this is a logical distinction – while other distinctions concern also what the words refer to and what is then something thinkable – metaphysical distinction. A metaphysical distinction, then, concerns either things thought – real distinction – or then just our conceptions of things – rational distinction. Although the distinction between real and rational distinctions appears a rather straightforward dichotomy, Darjes thinks these two types of distinction can be classified in a more gradual manner. Real distinction might concern something intrinsic to the things distinguished, but it might also be just an extrinsic distinction, based on different ways to denominate things. Furthermore, while rational distinction can be purely rational in the sense that it has nothing to do with the objects of our conceptions, in what Darjes calls eminent rational distinction this distinction is based on the objects of the concepts. Indeed, an extrinsic real distinction can well be connected with an eminent rational distinction, which is then in some sense intrinsic, although not real distinction. The importance of this highly abstract classification for Darjes is that two attributes or an attribute and an essence of the same thing can be distinguished only in an eminently rational manner – that is, the difference between the two is not just something in our heads, but it still doesn't require that two attributes or an attribute and an essence would be two separate things. Thus, while a thing might have several attributes, it still might not be divisible into several things.

We noted in the previous post that Darjes spoke of possibles of first and second order, when other Wolffians would have spoken of absolutely necessary and contingent things. This is because Darjes defines the notions of necessity and contingency in connection with combinations of determinations and subject – determination is necessary to a thing, if its opposite cannot belong to the thing, otherwise it is contingent. Such a notion of necessity and contingency is obviously relative to the thing in question. In addition to this subject-relativity, necessity and contingency can be relative to some hypothetical condition, and if not, Darjes speaks of absolute necessity and contingency. It is quite clear that essences and attributes are absolutely necessary, while all non-attribute affections are contingent – a thing has them because of some external or internal reason, and in another situation it might well have quite different affections. While Darjesian account of necessity and contingency is primarily about determinations, he still can speak of necessary and contingent things, because he regards existence as one possible determination of a thing. Furthermore, he notes that necessity and contingency can occur not only within determinations of a single thing, but also as characteristics of connections of things.

Like many Wolffians, Darjes concludes his discussion of connections between entities or nexuses with the notions of unity, order, truth and perfection. Starting with unity, Darjes notes that all connections between things form unities, which might be, depending on the nature of connection, absolute or relative, intrinsic or extrinsic and necessary or contingent. Thus, for instance, essence and respective attributes form a necessary, intrinsic and absolute unity. Then again, non-attributive affections form only a contingent unity with the essence. Furthermore, if thing has some mode produced by something external, the thing must form an extrinsic unity with this external reason.

Order Darjes defines as a characteristic of a series of connected things, where the things are connected because of same reasons – for instance, if some causal factor connects A1 to A2, the same factor connects A2 to A3 and so on. Darjes insists that we can always express this same reason in the form of a proposition, which then acts as a rule for the order in question. Truth, on the other hand, Darjes defines as the convenience of such things that have been posited together – for instance, truth in the usual sense of the word is the convenience of what we think about a thing or what we say about thing with the concept of this thing. Since the general definition of truth does not mention any series, all truths are not orders. Then again, in all orders the members of the series convene with one another. Perfections, finally, Darjes defines as consent of various things, where consent means that things conjoined are not adverse to one another.

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