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Plenitude is breaking through the orthodoxy imposed by a middle-class, centrist, bourgeois society, and with this change come opportunities of liberation of every kind. To resist this force is not just pointless. It is wrong. Plenitude is a force for the infinitely divisible.

It will use groups as its vehicle as long as this is possible, but it will make individuals the unit of agency the moment it is impossible. Plenitude has found a friend in individualism, and there is good evidence that it will be a lasting affair. When the left insists on the primacy of the group over the individual, it commits an error from which there is no recovery.

Plenitude makes the individual the locus and an engine of much of its innovative activity. It will happily create a world that is an addition of individuals. Groups will cease to matter. Pity the ideological operation that has put groups, and especially particular groups, at the center of the exercise. More problematically, everyone must necessarily belong to many groups. We may be gay, but we must also be many other things.

Necessarily we are only one kind of gay among many, and almost certainly we will not be that kind of gay for very long. The left presupposes a world in which certain definitions of the individual are privileged and frozen into place. The irony is that the left has used the idea of diversity to attack the idea of difference. This leaves it hopelessly at odds with the world plenitude has wrought.

In sum, right and left have not distinguished themselves on the issue of plenitude.

Ashaneen (Piotr Janeczek)

Both of them can claim certain victories in this decade. But neither party has got this issue right. Never mind. Plenitude will have its way with them as well.

The Principle of Plenitude and Natural Theology in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Our world is filling up with differences. And this is a good thing, for some of these differences advance the cause of human dignity. Plenitude embraces those who would otherwise be persecuted for their difference. Better, plenitude dispenses with "permission. It is enough merely to stake out a social space and to occupy it.

Plainly, this is to the good. But plenitude should also give us pause.


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It has a darker side. It is capable of creating horrifying aberrations. Plenitude allows encourages?

There is enough fruitful abundance existing in the universe for anyone to access.

It forgives encourages? Plenitude permits encourages? We have a choice. Plenitude can create the glorious or the monstrous. It depends on what we do with difference. It depends on what difference becomes for us. Traditionally, difference has been a path to identity paved with hostility and antagonism. It has given us a "sharpener" of identity and a recipe for action: find the odd man, the odd group, the odd nation, the odd culture, and then: mock, repudiate, assault, and, too often, exterminate.

Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Amin, Pol Pot eliminated difference by eliminating people, tens of millions of them. They made our century a slaughterhouse. This approach to difference has used it to sharpen identity through contradistinction. We are what the other is not. Worse, our path to definition may be found through acts of differentiation, antagonism, and hostility against the other. By this reckoning, things look rather grim. More difference can only mean more antagonism.

If we are filling up with differences, we will find ourselves surrounded by otherness and increasingly called upon to challenge it. New and emerging identities will put our own in question. Our identity will depend upon the defacement of their identity. Plenitude's world has the potential to make us smaller, meaner, more loathing, and more loathsome. And we are the God-fearing folk. It will be worse for others, the bigots and the hatemongers.

These people will find themselves so provoked by the rising tide of plenitude that any act of opposition will seem tolerable and psychologically necessary. But there is an other use for difference. In this case, we use difference as a definitional opportunity.


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We say of otherness, "Wonder what that's like? This has always been the spirit of Mardi Gras and other liminal moments. But I think there is good evidence that our entire culture is shifting in a transformational direction. More and more, we are prepared to try on difference, to test it out. This is a radically new approach to difference, one that completely shifts the field of assumptions.

In the old sharpening model, we use difference to push off against.

plenitude - Word of the Day - English - The Free Dictionary Language Forums

We are not what the other is. In this new transformational model, we use difference as a definitional opportunity. We use it as a shape to try on and act out. Our most fundamental reflexes are rewired. When we see a new species of social life Dennis Rodman, say we no longer say, "Weirdo! Get 'em! What's it like to be like that? We move from difference as contradistinction to difference as definition.

We move from difference as sharpening to difference as shaping. Difference is less and less for "pushing off," and more and more for "trying on.

Message from an ELF: It's possible live with plenitude in 2019; Expand your opportunities

And this too will prove, as everything seems to, yet another engine for our plenitude. There is a second reason to be frightened. Plenitude challenges our most fundamental ideas of social and political association. What becomes of the "common good" in a body politic that has precious little in common? What happens to the "community" when it fills up with differences? How can we hope to act in concert when we are speciating so intensively and so extensively?

I wish I had a clever answer. I have what is merely a sneaking suspicion. There is a common culture that unites the world of plenitude. It is, I think, the marketplace. This is the great lingua franca of the contemporary world. As long as we can meet somewhere in the exchange of something for the benefit of someone, we have a foundation that can sustain plenitude.