“Closure – A Story of Everything” by Hilary Lawson is something I first blogged mention of back in 2003. I was prompted to obtain and read it just recently by David Morey.
First my usual caveat – it’s clear from the first page that it “fits my agenda” so I am inevitably frustrated looking for “so what’s new ?” I can find only one thing so far.
I’ve read the Preface, the Prologue and Part I (Structure, Outline, System & Purpose of Closure) plus the Epilogue, End-Notes and Index – what I haven’t read so far are Parts II to V (Language, Science, Logic, Maths, Art, Religion, the Unknown, Politics, Power and Society.) – actually I have also read “the Unknown”. All the usual suspects are discussed in the notes.
Most of the message can be summed up – the world is not a “thing” it is openeness – dynamic possibility and potential, material and texture. Closure is what is fixed by static patterns of understanding and language used to describe those understandings - but closure is never ending, therefore always fails as closure and so for the world to be stable at all some framework is required to balance openness & closure. So far so good; already well established monism. Our post-modern predicament.
The new item ? Not exactly new, but unusual to see stated.
OK, so a theory of everything, cannot be closed – it cannot actually be a final theory of everything. But Lawson’s “Story of Everything”, Closure, is defined interms of Openness. There is therefore much discussion of self-referential argument, and the received wisdom that such self-reference is paradoxical, a denial of meaning – ultimately destructive.
Closure as a theory is evidently and quite deliberately self-referential – a reflexive theory. Being self-referential is a constructive attribute, not a failing. Paradoxes that arise are points of “intervention”, not alarms to abandon ship.
Neurath’s ship that is, a variation on Aristotle’s boat – not only being rebuilt and replaced whilst preserving its identity, but our ship, re-built with minimum loss of life whilst humanity is “at sea” in the cosmos.
The idea of self-reference as constructive rather than destructive is fundamental to Quine, Hofstadter, Dennett and a myriad of evolutionary philosophers of mind and morals – disappointed not to see any positive references to these (so far).
Most significant disappointment though (so far) is where is that “framework for stability” that will keep us afloat, prevent us going down with all hands ?
Reading on … Continuing …