February 27th, 2021

📝 Pattern in the World

Is pattern really out there?

Today we're biking to an Airbnb across the river just to get away from home for a few days. I have to figure out how to install the cargo bike's rain tent while baby naps, and later tonight we'll be enjoying our holiday, so today is a good day to exercise the option to write a very quick daily post.

After all, my basic goal is just to write one sentence:

The daily writing practice I’d advocate for is to write at least one sentence, as close to every day as you can manage, in a location that gives you the opportunity to easily write something closer to a short essay should you choose to do so. *

I've been mentioning David Chapman's use of the terms Pattern and Nebulosity, like in yesterday's post about plot:

As Eldritch points out, the word Plot usually refers to the coherent narrative that a typical screenplay needs, but it's also characteristically used by conspiracy theorists and potheads to refer to an illusory Pattern projected on the world's Nebulosity.

Today it struck me that I think there's a tendency to basically associate Pattern with Mind and Nebulosity with Nature, like in the notion that the physical universe itself is essentially just a nebulous flux, and pattern is this mental overlay of conceptual projection.

Of course it's no dramatic discovery that reality itself has patterns. But it seems somehow necessary to point out. Chapman puts it like this:

Pattern is what makes the world interpretable—what makes it make sense. Perceiving pattern is needed for all effective action—whether you are a person or a bug. *

Here, pattern isn't the interpretation—it's that which makes interpretation possible. It's the real fact of structure that plays out in the universe regardless if any mind is there to interpret it.

Thinking about it like this also seems to afford a better way of thinking about đź“™ After Virtue. Yesterday I wrote:

When we act in the world, we are "speaking" within the cultural syntax of intelligible behavior. For a child, hearing stories is a way to learn not just the language but also this Grammar of actions. For MacIntyre, that structure is the basic fabric of Ethics.

That Grammar is not just a product of culture or interpretation; it's grounded in physical, nonhuman Pattern in the landscape, the seasons, biology, etc.

This way of thinking makes me interested in reading another book of Alasdair MacIntyre's, namely đź“™ Dependent Rational Animals, which I believe is his attempt to grapple with Aristotle's views on the relationship between Biology and Teleology.

Judging by this single quote that I had already highlighted from that book, I realize it's also very relevant to my project of understanding how Virtue Ethics relates to đź“™ Experiences of Depression.

Consider how both physical and mental disability are afflictions of the body and how therefore habits of mind that express an attitude of denial towards the facts of disability and dependence presuppose either a failure or a refusal to acknowledge adequately the bodily dimensions of our existence. This failure or refusal is perhaps rooted in, is certainly reinforced by the extent to which we conceive of ourselves and imagine ourselves as other than animal, as exempt from the hazardous condition of “mere” animality. *