Equality or Unity? (i.e. "Sweetness" or Light?)

More would be accomplished if we spoke about complex matters in terms of kinds of unity than in the simplistic vocabulary of equality.  The latter is rather anemic, no?  Faced with the facts of experience and reality, it really just leaves us on the formless sea of power claims.  Shout as we will at one another, arguments that appeal equality are not really going to get us very far—at least outside of mathematics (and a mathematicised pseudo-ontology).

Just as a matter of clarifying discourse, I have thought of writing an article calling out the sophistical use of equals signs in political debates.  Equality and sameness are not, well, the same(!)—though they can appear to be so.  Aristotle was wiser than not when he noted that equality pertains primarily to quantities.  Quantities are equal or unequal, qualities are more or less similar or dissimilar

However, when we enter the conceptual register of being and what things are, well then… Things can be one and the same either: individually (as a person is one), in genus (as man and dog are one in being animals or as playing baseball and playing football are one in being recreational activities), in species, or one by analogy (the thorniest issue of all).  Indeed, as we will see below (in a mere sketch) it is even much more complex than this.

To talk about things like, oh, marriage in terms of = and ≠ really impoverishes the discourse.  (Surprise, surprise in the day of twitter-attention-spans and Facebook posts.  Or, surprise-surprise again in the era that follows from the modern renunciation of all things past—let us forget the long conquest undertaken by the intellect.  We do not need intellectual virtue, we only need technique and method!)  I say instead, “Good sir, define X and Y through genus and specific difference (at least in a vague manner).  What kind of unity do they have?”  Being able to answer that question would likely add a good deal of intelligence to conversations that are, generally speaking, nothing more than irrational emoting (covering this with much sophistry, as sophistry is wont to do).

Equality just doesn’t “cash out” like unity.  Surprise, surprise that it doesn’t.  Equality pertains only to quantity, while unity transcends and applies to every mode of being.  But, whoops, there we go again.  Our poor little modern minds like to reduce all things to quantity (and then fill in all other spaces with the “quality” of our utterly blind emotions).  A bit of formal causality (outside of quantity) goes a long way.

End note: Of course, unity indicates lack of division, which can be said in many ways, more than we have indicated here.  Following two sets of notes on Ostensive Metaphysics (as opposed to Critique or Critical Metaphysics) by Fr. Austin Woodberry (cf. John Deely and Anthony Russell Collection at St. Vincent College, p.169 and 659; edition dating unclear), unity should be divided as follows:

·      Transcendental Unity

o   Unity of Simplicity

o   Unity of Composition

§  Unity Per se

§  Unity Per accidens

·      By juxtaposition (Aggregational unity)

·      By extrinsic causality

o   Effectively

o   Finally

·      By information (or, inherential unity)

o   As accident inheres in substance

o   As accident inheres in accident

·      Non-Transcendental unity

o   Unity of reason (rationis; Woodbury: “thoughty unity”)

§  Generic

§  Specific

o   Real

§  Formal

·      Considered on the score of predicates

o   Generic

o   Specific

·      Considered on the score of termination

o   Ultimately Terminated

o   Not-Ultimately Terminated

§  Material or Numeric

·      Substantial

·      Accidental

o   According to individuation from subject

o   According to individuation of quantity through itself, which is predicamental unity

I won’t here list out the details of the outline.  I merely want to note it as a sign that the scholastic vocabulary is far richer at making razor sharp distinctions—far more than the ham-handed equality that is all remaining to the geometricizing intellect of contemporary man.

And of course, given that sameness is nothing other than agreement following upon unity, we must know what kind of unity we are speaking of before we can even begin to argue about sameness.

Or, we can just stamp our feet and talk about equality without any acknowledgment of formal causality whatsoever.  But, when we refuse to say that anything is what it is, we have left the world of rational discourse completely.  That will end nowhere good, I assure you.  Read Pieper’s insightful reflections on the matter, Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power.