4 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2021
    1. Plessner included fundaments about biological structure, organization, physiology, ecology, and ethology in his attempt at elaborating a non-dualist, and systematically coherent framework for all forms of life (Plessner 2019).Using positionalilty as a point of departure for elaborating a logic of life, including human life, is in fact tantamount to simultaneously treating the question of integration, or unification, as a point of departure. As Plessner makes clear, it is only with the living state that boundaries become something other than arbitrary and contingent. To the extent that life is defined by anything, it is defined by the dynamic enactment of a distinction between inner and outer, Plessner’s so-called “double aspectivity.” “Positionality” then is the categorical universal and sine qua non of the living state and conceptually defines the boundary between physical phenomena that, for all intents and purposes, are partes extra partes, from those for which some non-trivial level of system unity and integrity has been achieved. Plessner does not specifically take up the language of normativity and yet one can find it to be implicit in his account. The realization of a life, even at the most rudimentary, let’s say the simple, single-celled level, already entails a form of active mediation between reaching outward and enforcing a boundary, that suggests the regulatory enactment of an implicit norm. For Plessner, there is a logic of dialectical building of positional levels upon levels of reflection that culminate in the human level of “excentric positionality” whereby the “shared” (and invariably normative) perspective of the universal Other is always reflexively embodied and reflectively available. Which is to say that Plessner has long since offered a body-mind neutral account in which human-level normativity is located on a natural continuum in which questions of dynamic system integration are at least implicitly fundamental. Where Plessner fell short, I suggest, is in (only) deriving a largely monological account of the emergence of human-level normativity.Footnote 6 The following may be viewed as in part an attempt to offer the complementary perspective, albeit with the full reconciliatory and synthetic engagement to appear in subsequent work.

      Plessner's key insight of double aspectivity is the result of the boundary that creates the separation of the inner from the outer. The active mediation between reaching outward and maintaining a boundary suggests the regulatory enactment of an implicit norm.

  2. Oct 2021
    1. In so doing we claim to have made an inroad into embedding the force of normativity into a wide-ranging naturalist framework, to have provided philosophical anthropology with a new (post-individualist) point of departure, and at least playfully, to have given some naturalistic grist to Hegel’s proclamation that spirit (Geist) is the truth of nature.

      The claim then, is that normativity is an interpretation of Hegel's "Geist".

    1. Next I will focus on and explore what Plessner's method has to offer with respect to its account of the origins and basis of normativity (or "Spirit").

      Is Moss equating Plessner's "normativity" to Hegel's "spirit"?

    2. Plessner's distinction between plant and animal is both an enabling pathway towards his anthropology but also quite distinctive and worthy of consideration in itself. Contrary to the mainstream legacies of botany and zoology, but consistent with the logic he is developing, plants and animals for Plessner are a priori life-categories or modals of the organic based upon filling alternative organizational possibility spaces that follow from the dialectics of positionality and not in the first instance about the distinction between autotrophy and heterotrophy. Accordingly, certain heterotrophic species such as corals, hydroids, bryozoan and ascidians are classed by Plessner into the plant category. In broad terms, the plant-animal distinction is defined by the difference between "open" and "closed" positionalities, a distinction which has much to do with levels of mediation. One may think of this as two alternative basic strategies for achieving the aforementioned balance between assimilative and resistive moments immanent in any form of positionality. "A form is open if the organism in all of its expressions of life is immediately incorporated into its surroundings and constitutes a non-self-sufficient segment of the life cycle corresponding to it" (p. 203). An open form of positionality, we can say, doesn't require mediation by way of a posited center and the consequence of this is realized throughout the morphology, physiology and growth patterns of the plant. Morphologically this is manifested in the tendency of the organism to develop externally and expansively in a way that is directly turned toward its surroundings. It is characteristic of this kind of development that it does not have the need to form centers of any kind. The tissues responsible for mechanical solidarity, nutrition, and stimulus conduction are not anatomically or functionally concentrated in particular organs but rather permeate the organism from its outermost to it innermost layers. The absence of any central organs tying together or representing the whole body means that individuality of the individual plant does not itself appear as constitutive but rather as an external moment of its form associated with the singularity of the physical entity; in many cases the parts remain highly self-sufficient in relation to each other (graftings, cuttings). This led a great botanist to go so far as to call plants 'divididuals'. (pp. 203-204)

      This is an interesting classification of "open" and "closed", depending on whether the living organism has uniform functionality or specialized, and centralized structures respectively.