9: The Mask of Conclusion
Here we have to deal with per-fection again: The illusion of possible perfection tangles a lot of areas, deluding us into believing that there would be a time or a moment when all the action and all the saying in this material world could come to an end: conclusion, a coming to an end without incompleteness, conclusion as completeness and fulfillment - an illusion again, at least in our surroundings. How then could there be conclusion if there is no perfection? There can be definite measures, that's true, definite destruction and definite creation, but the very process would not cease to progress further - progressing is an essential element of life, evolution, transformation, development - just look at the etymology of those words, their meaning is very precise, indicating nothing else than continuing movement. Language contains the essence (granted there is one) of the concepts very well. Perfection and conclusion can exist only on a very restricted level, restricted both in a temporal and a spatial dimension.
There exists a variety of efforts to reach conclusion or at least to come near to it. Throughout history, throughout also the history of science, there have been views of reality hoping for the existence of conclusion, even constructing it. Very restricted analyses of physical or chemical systems might even indicate such a conclusion; but this would work only for the model, only for the constructed artificial structure - a model is created to represent certain features believed to be critical for a certain analysis. For example, if analyzing the effects of gravity, the only important parts of an experiment at first will be mass, height and the gravity constant. In such a controlled environment, a feather will reach the ground at exactly the same time as a stone if both things are released at the same time and from the same height. But if this controlled, concluded, system would be opened to more realistic conditions, if also the size and shape of the object now mattered, air resistance will make a difference. And if not just air resistance is taken into account but also currents of air and tiny irregularities on the surface of the objects, if the macrocosmic perspective would turn to a microcosmic one, soon erratic and chaotic particle behavior would make any exact prediction of the once so easy calculation impossible. Conclusion existed with the simple formula FG=m·g·h (FG = force of gravity; m = mass; g = planetary gravity constant; h = height), but the system has changed to a set of variables, most of them unknown or intertwined, a non-linear system: chaos.
So here I am back again at physics, with chaos theory - sorry to bother you with that, but it is a good demonstration of what philosophy seems to intend to tell us with some parts of post-structuralism. Science is supporting these theories as well, leading away from easy answers and pointing into a direction even science doesn't seem to want to go to. Chaos is sort of unpredictable but can also lead to stable systems - like an ecosystem, or even like a planetary system: The positions of the planets seem to be clear, all surrounding the sun because of its gravity - but then all the planets have gravity of their own, so have their moons. The effects of those minor gravity fields might very well add up to disturb and eventually destroy the system; we cannot tell how the Solar System will look like in some thousand years or how it looked like some thousand years before. Chaotic systems may lead to some kind of equilibrium, but it would be a stable state filled with instability. Conclusion and perfection are temporary phenomena, in the long run they are illusions.
The instability, the chaotic character of any system, is rooted in the inability to create a really closed system. So what remains is an open system, a discourse of material and mental energy. Each and every part of the system is constantly influencing any other part, directly or indirectly. That's what quantum physics, chaos theory and - on the philosophical level - post-structuralism have revealed. The open system or discourse allows change, it supports modifications and mutations, it has a life of its own. For a detailed analysis, one could split the discourse into smaller discourses, but they would at the end all belong together. A division of the discourse would again be an artificial construction: How to part something which has no limits? How to divide infinity? Half an infinity is still infinity; as well as half of nothing is still nothing. Mathematics is of no help any more under such conditions.
The contradiction of conclusion is extending into various areas, always conclusion is something aimed for but never to be reached. How to live with that? I think it is the same as with perfection. It might look like a disadvantage, but it is also an opportunity, leaving us in a much greater and much more complicated system but also providing us with much more options, much more possibilities and much more chances than we might think. What happens afterwards, after our death and before our birth, remains unclear but surely will be connected somehow to this reality. Perhaps there will be conclusion at last.
October 7th, 1998