Oneness, Nihilism, and the Multitude

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Spurred by William Tozier’s meditation here, which is an argument for generalist practice adn knowledge as against hyper-specialisation, our friend Paul Hartzog wrote some interesting observations in the comment field.

Paul Hartzog writes:

“The classical opposition to the One was always the Many.

Somewhere in the rage against monolithic meta-thingies the binary opposition became One vs. None. So for example, nihilistic postmodernism claims that we must throw out the One and be left with the None (and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth).

But the rejection of the One does not necessarily demand the substitution of the None, when in fact we could embrace the Many instead.

There is a historical trajectory here:

1. Modernism: embrace the One

2. PostModernism: reject the One, lament the None

3. PostPostModernism (or Pre- Panarchy): reject the binary opposition constituted by 1 and 2 and embrace the Many (Spinoza’s Multitude).”

In other words:

“During Modernism we are told that there is only one way. The universalism is imposed.

During Postmodernism, universalism is rejected, but the only alternative is a chaotic nihilism in which there are no solutions.

Under panarchy, the entire notion that we must choose between an oppressive universalism vs. a nihilistic particularity is rejected. There is a whole world of third way possibilities when we come together to share and build them…” (