Structuring the world

by Neil Rickert

I noticed this yesterday:

Structure, it’s all imposed. We impose order and narrative on everything in order to understand it. Otherwise, there’s nothing but chaos.

It’s from actress Julianne Moore.  I only noticed it, because it was quoted in a post by Hemant Mehta.

I agree with Moore, and appreciate her insight.  But I do wonder why I am hearing this from an actress.  Why am I not seeing it discussed by philosophers?

Maybe it is being said by some philosophers, but not by most of them.  When I say or write something along those lines, philosophers seem to react as if I have said something that is obviously wrong.

I expect to write more on the idea of structuring in future posts.  So this will serve as a light introduction to the topic.

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2 Comments to “Structuring the world”

  1. “Structure, it’s all imposed. We impose order and narrative on everything in order to understand it. Otherwise, there’s nothing but chaos.”

    I would say that we impose structure and narrative on everything in order to best understand it, but there is an inherent order that already exists in the world, without which, we wouldn’t be able to form the concepts and judgments that we do impose on that world. That is, an inherent order exists in the world (call these the laws of nature or the rules that anything and everything follows over time), and we use that order as a foundation for the structure and narrative that we impose on the world. The laws of physics for example are some of the structures we’ve imposed on the world, and are ways of representing certain aspects of the world that exist independent of the epistemologically limited and primarily pragmatic function of those physical laws. The aspects that exist independently of our imposed structure are the order that exist in what we may call the laws of nature — laws that we may never have any kind of direct access to know, but that are nevertheless the foundation for the laws of physics we’ve proposed over the years.

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    • That is, an inherent order exists in the world (call these the laws of nature or the rules that anything and everything follows over time), and we use that order as a foundation for the structure and narrative that we impose on the world.

      No, there is no inherent order.

      But I do understand that some people are attracted to religion, and they have made philosophy into a non-theistic religion with a deep commitment to credal beliefs (such as the belief of a divine inherent order).

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