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‘Nature’ And Living Practice


How does the nature of a thing differ from its practice?

Water is a substance with the chemical composition H2O, two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.  It may manifest, dependant upon temperature, as fluid, solid, or gas. These facts touch on its nature. 

A cup of water giving life; a surging tsunami taking it: these touch on its living practice.

So too with the objective analyses of the nature of a biological being, the nature of a social structure with all its intertwining systems, and the place of a biological being within that social structure – no matter how complex the analyses, none reveal the myriad ways that beings follow, manipulate, subvert and challenge an existent circumstance even as they are altered by it. Analyzing the ‘objective nature’ of phenomena privileges the removed, scientific observer as knowledgeable arbiter of what things ‘really are’: that is, things isolated, taken out of context and then used as illustrations of an overarching and reductive theory from which things in various relations not so investigated nevertheless cannot escape.

In effect, then, it seems that what people do isn’t what they do; rather, what occurs has another, ‘real’ meaning, one assigned by the ‘neutral’ observer carving out objects of interest – out of a fluid field of interactions that could be sliced in infinite ways – and locating proximate chains of causation that ’cause’ what has been abstracted out. The scientific ‘answer’, then, is nothing other than the form and content of the question asked, and of the very narrow way in which it is asked.

So the scientific method veils the complex, sophisticated, interdependently fluid practice of living beings in social and ‘natural’ relation, relations within which the seemingly ‘objective observer’ is in fact fully and subjectively enmeshed.

What’s the source of it all

just as it expresses itself?



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