Featured in The Fate of Beauty with The True Isn’t the Rational

The Definitive Primacy of Partial Objects in the Virtuous Gratitude of Lack and Beauty

O.G. Rose
37 min readJun 13, 2024

Classes Lead by Thomas Jockin for “Plato on Beauty and Virtue” Begin at the Halkyon Guild, July 27th 2024

Plato on Beauty and Virtue, Taught by Thomas Jockin

Thomas Jockin is a good friend, and it is an honor and delight to speak with him. In March 2024, we discussed the nature and quality of gratitude, and how there seemed to be a difference between being grateful for something very obvious and apparent (like receiving $100), compared to being grateful for suddenly being able to appreciate and understand Faulkner. Both entail a gratitude, yes, but they also don’t seem equivalent. To be grateful for the $100 seems “fitting” and very linear, while I personally read Faulkner when I was younger, hated it, and then five years later I found myself liking it and seeing what Faulkner was doing. And suddenly and all at once I was grateful for the work William Wilson did to help me understand the text, a way of reading I then carried with me to other books and other experiences of art. My horizon of possibility was changed, but I wasn’t grateful for “the seeds being planted” at the time — that took years. And then I felt gratitude: I understood the patience Wilson had to have with me, as I also understood the patience “the spirit of Faulkner” had to have with me (we could say). And I found myself grateful for forces and processes I didn’t realize transpired. Is this second form of gratitude the same as the first or different? Jockin and I discussed.


Episode #159: Thomas Jockin on the Movement, Agency, and Beauty of Gratitude

Our conversation connected the topics of “character” and “gratitude,” and how it is unjust for a person not to feel gratitude for a good done to them. Hence, where there is rightful gratitude, there is character, and this begs a question: Is it more “charactered” to do an act with a more guaranteed moral outcome, or is it more “charactered” to do that where it is less guaranteed that the outcome will be moral? To put this another way, is it more charactered for me to give you $100 which you will immediately turn around and buy food with that you need, or is it more charactered to try to train you to appreciate Faulkner (which there is no guarantee you will ever understand)? Is it more charactered to give you money for food or to try to show you how to love people and avoid misunderstanding them? There is something about the “guarantee” of a moral outcome that seems problematic, for then we are at risk of making “moral calculations” and reducing morality into something transactional. I give you $100, and that means a moral transaction has occurred. And that is certainly a good thing, but it also seems different and less risky than teaching you how to engage in life in a manner where you might experience beauty more frequently and thus be more motivated to live, which could positively impact your relationships and the people around you. The second might not seem like I’m teaching you anything though, and I could easily be accused of being less moral than the person who gives you $100. But this very risk suggests a reason why it might help create more “character” to engage in actions where the moral outcomes are not guaranteed.

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To do something moral doesn’t necessarily mean I develop character, and yet strangely I seem to have the potential to gain more character when the goodness of the outcome of my actions isn’t guaranteed. We often say that a person is “charactered” who does “what is right,” but it almost seems more accurate to say that a person is “charactered” to the degree he or she also does that which “risks not being seen as right” (for the sake of a perhaps “higher good”). This point I think is very important if it is indeed true that, as I have argued elsewhere, a movement from Third World Nationhood to First World Nationhood is a movement from Utilitarianism to the Value and Virtue Ethics of Aristotle. In Utilitarianism and its forms like Effective Altruism, there is in my view a sharp split between “character” and “morality,” for in fact I calculate what “increases goodness” relative to algorithms, models, and the like — I do everything in my power to remove the individual and subjective involvement. Which has a critical role, please note: helping people out of poverty is critical (my concern is “overfitting” Utilitarianism). However, once a people are out of poverty — then what? Well, at that point what is needed is a transition into something like Value Ethics, which means the relation between “character” and “morality” comes back into focus. But oddly “character” seems to develop where a “moral outcome” isn’t guaranteed, suggesting again that saying “character” and “morality” are similes is a mistake. Yes, a charactered person does what is moral, but it is not the case that where there is moral action there is also character. Character requires risk. It requires being seen as a fool. And as a nation becomes a First World Nation, the need for character becomes the main concern of ethics. And yet we seem to be “overfitting Utilitarianism,” leading to trouble and pathology.

It seems very difficult to transition from Utilitarianism to Aristotle after decades of following Utilitarianism successfully; it seems irrational and foolish to make the transition. And indeed, history and experience would suggest this, suggesting precisely why the transition itself requires character — which might be precisely when it is so difficult to muster though, precisely because up to that point it seems “charactered” to do such where “the moral outcome” is more guaranteed. And then suddenly there can be a division between “charactered” and “moral.” Why should we suspect such a division has occurred? Up to this point, we don’t see that in the evidence or history, do we? Indeed, that is precisely why we seem destined to “rationally overfit” what has worked for a period in history, and perhaps history is such a thing where the consequences of “overfitting” become vivid and undeniable before we start making the necessary transition. “Ideas are not experiences,” as discussed in The Conflict of Mind, and perhaps this suggests why periods of “overfitting” are necessary before collectively the necessary “nonrational choices” are made. Hard to say…

There is gratitude felt for a moral action, but then there is also the gratitude that results from the realization of a charactered act from the position of the realization of a moral outcome that was not guaranteed. Character seems to require bravery and risk, and it seems to be a great risk to do that which costs us and that we believe is good which ultimately might prove a waste and even lead to our social rejection and alienation. We must be at risk of this if we are to generate character, and there is actually a risk that I could engage in “acts with guaranteed moral outcomes” to avoid developing character and facing fear, which might be uniquely easy to do precisely because I will easily be seen as “having good character” for doing what was (guaranteed to be) moral. In this way, the conflation of “moral” and “charactered” could be uniquely advantageous to self-deception and helping us “morally” avoid facing fears and taking risk.


Alright, if “moral” and “character” are not similes even if related, and if in First World Nations we need an emphasis on “character” and risk, what exactly is the subject and focus of “character?” When we experience gratitude from a place of character versus just morality, which exactly are we feeling this gratitude in relation to and before? When I come to suddenly appreciate and love Faulkner, what exactly do I appreciate? Obviously Faulkner, but I also come to appreciate that it is possible for reality to disclosure itself differently to me than I originally thought (which suggests the FedEx sign). It is possible for me to be looking at Faulkner for years and not “see it,” and suddenly I find myself appreciating both “the greater understanding of Faulkner,” but also I appreciate the fact that reality can entail an “excess” and a “something more” which I didn’t realize was there as I “looked” at it. I’m suddenly surrounded not by (fully present) objects but mysteries (Unknowns versus Unknowable Things), which are things that the more I learn about the more I find there is more to learn. Faulkner becomes a thing that was “always already” potentially a journey into depths beyond my impression; the “appearance” turns out to be the tip of an iceberg, not a subjective illusion or mere “taste.” And if Faulkner could be like this, why couldn’t other things? Suddenly reality is full of things that could be more than what they seem; the world of “objects” becomes a world of “partial objects.” Isn’t that terrible? No, because things we fully have access to are things we cease desiring and can stop caring about (as we learn from both Blondel and Lacan).

On the side of what Hegel calls “Understanding,” we naturally seem to experience things as “things” and there, and paradoxically this means we naturally experience things in a manner that can kill our desire and motivation for them. Maurice Blondel makes the fascinating point that when we are certain that a doorknob works, we stop paying attention to it and caring about it, which would suggests a philosophical mission to gain “certainty” is ultimately self-effacing. Certainty kills desire, and though we say the people we love are the people we know, there is a very real sense in which the people we love are those we don’t know. We know them “as” a person we don’t fully know, but that means the people we love have an interiority we never fully access, and so they are in a way “partial objects.” This is a Lacanian term, but we might associate it with the “definite excess” brought up in Plato and Socrates (as Thomas Jockin noted). Where there is particularity, there is excess and hence “lack,” which is a “present absence” (as Jockin and I have often discussed). Particular things are definitive things, and in their very definitiveness they gain an “excess” and “partiality” which suggests there is always more to know than realized, but not merely in their potential but in their actuality. This suggests a critical distinction Jockin and I made in our conversation between “potential” and “excess,” which we will elaborate on shortly. First though, please note that saying things are “partial objects” is not to say they are necessarily ontologically partial in space, but “partial” spatially and “practically,” meaning they are temporally “complete,” just not to any finite mind. Things are “partial” as an effect of finitude, but that doesn’t mean they are composed of “nothingness” somehow. What is partial has substance; it’s just that this substance exceeds us (to allude to Alex Ebert). It is beyond us and inviting us in.

Particular things entail “lack” and “excess,” for they are always changing through time and never fully accessible to me in their particularity. Things change through time, and if “timespace” is more actual than “spacetime” (as argued throughout O.G. Rose), which is to say if time is fundamental and not merely relative to space, than indeed the “actuality” of things are manifest through and in timespace, which means actuality “is” an “unfolding phenomena.” Reality does not so much consistent of points but flows, and what flows always entails an excess which is its “flowing out.” If everything in reality is unfolding as timespace, then everything is “a partial object,” a term like “Unknown” or “Mystery” which must be more temporal than spatial. A thing could not be “partial” and yet still “there” unless a thing was an “unfolding” that was never its entirety until the end of its existence (like the last note of a melody, as Jockin noted) — and then it would no longer be “there,” and so there’s a real sense in which things are only ever “there” as things in partiality/excess. What “is” is that which is “unfolding” and hence entails an “excess,” and if it doesn’t entail an excess and is finished “unfolding” it is done and not “here.” The music is over and gone.

Lee Smolin argues in Time Reborn that time is fundamental, not simply relative, and that it is a mistake to treat time as practically an illusion. Smolin deserves wide-recognition, and for me his model of the universe is more of what we would expect after reading Aristotle, Leibniz, Hegel, Bergson, and the like. And the very fact that metaphysics suggests x (that time is fundamental) in of itself can function as a “proof” that indeed physics should reflect x; of course, for the last century, it has suggested “spacetime” instead of “timespace.” With this notion that wisdom entails an experience of a process, that metaphysics is meta-geometrical (Leibniz), that the future is entirely open and contingent (Hegel) — all of this seems disproven and impossible where “time is relative” and the universe more like a deterministic block. “Truth organizes values,” and where science suggests w, then the values which follow are z. Given the stakes of virtue and wisdom that philosophy suggests are in a universe of timespace (x and y), the evidence for spacetime needs to be extraordinary (w and z), given how much it runs counter to “the proof” (in the sense of Austin Farrer) of metaphysics and philosophy. But I think we see in Smolin evidence that the case for timespace is strong.

Smolin is what we would expect given Aristotle, Leibniz, Hegel, Bergson, Whitehead, etc., and so Smolin could be a piece who connects powerful lines of philosophy in the world today. Perhaps I am taking Smolin too far, and I am no expert on his thinking, field, and work; still, I believe I understand him enough to claim that he suggests a “timespace” like what would be more expected given many great philosophers and thinkers. Time as relative suggests wisdom is relative, as is virtue and the like. I’m fine to say, “Time is conditional” more than “relative” (as discussed in “Conditionalism” by O.G. Rose), for in this we make space for changes in experiences of time between people without suggesting time is an illusion, which by extension could suggest that “lack” and “(un)veiling” are illusionary notions. “Partial objects” also don’t seem possible, but these in some way are needed for desire and drive, and this suggests that a universe of “spacetime” is one which seems designed to render humans without motivation or drive. If this is the science, this is the science, but is it?

Thomas Jockin and I also discussed “analogy,” and there is a long metaphysical history of “the analogy of being” and the notion that basically all intelligence and “experience of being” is analogous. I think so, which in of itself suggests that we are always navigating a relation with “definitive excesses” and “partial objects” that we cannot fully comprehend in their immediacy and particularly — a point which itself suggests timespace. Analogy occurs when we find ourselves encountering the “excess” of a partial object and unable to describe it , and so we refer to something “absent” that can then be more “present” and hence intelligible. Analogy is a result of encountering a “partial object” that we want to make intelligible so that we can better relate to it, and we find that doing so requires us to refer to something “not here,” a generality. Analogy is a way to make intelligible something “definitive” that is too “excessive” to make intelligible, and if reality is more “timespace” than “spacetime,” we would expect analogy to be a constant means of gaining intelligibility (as Hofstadter and Sander discuss in Surfaces and Essences). This is for reality is always “unfolding,” and thus we must always “gather.”

Mr. Jockin spoke of Jung and “uncaused connections” of synchronicity, and we might think of analogy as such. So it goes with Agency, and in Jockin describing God as “The Gatherer,” we might think of God as coordinating the Dance of reality. Everything is “uncausally connected” with everything else, which suggests that everything exists and lives in relation to “excess” and “lack.” Reality can be thought of intelligible in no other way. And all these “uncaused connections” are potentially pointless, which is precisely why they can form a “situation” in which Agency works on us and we experience Beauty in light of character and as a testament to character.

Being is known analogously, as is God for Aquinas, and yet we should make very clear in what way analogy works. Often, it is suggested that we deal with a “dim version of capital-G-Goodness” when we discuss “goodness,” and so lowercase-g-goodness is analogous of Goodness. And this is not wrong, but language matters, and rather than say goodness is a dim version of Goodness, I would rather say that Goodness entails an excess that is never fully realized by any lowercase-g-good, an excess that suggests a Goodness that is only fully “presenced” in goodness (a better term than “actualized,” I think). Similarly, being entails an excess of Being that in a sense it participates in, but the potential for Being is in being, and so a danger with the world “participate in” is that it might suggest Being exists independent of being. Rather, Being is the excess of being, what being “lacks” and so is “presently absent” in being. So we might say the rock lacks the Rock, the sunset lacks the Sunset — on and on — and in this way we might better understand what is meant by “Platonic Forms.” These forms do not exist independent of things; rather, they are the excess and “lack” of things which exist with and in relation to things (as qualities, qualia-ities).

Analogy gathers many into one, for we gather a “partial object” together with something missing and ourselves to gain an intelligibility which could “draw us in” (from truth to goodness to beauty). Wisdom is gathering many into one (Harmony), as Clayton discusses, and so there is something about wisdom and analogy which are connected, and if all intelligibility entails some analogy, then perhaps all intelligibility entails traces of wisdom (however dim). And if there is something about Beauty which “gathers many into one,” then perhaps all intelligibility entails a kernel of Analogy (in its conditions of possibility), by which locating we can be drawn into Wisdom, and from Wisdom into Beauty? Perhaps. Perhaps this is “the human” as form when actualized as timespace. Where everything to thoughts to hearts to hands are found “always already” “partial objects” in the image and likeness of Beauty — “always already” moving and Dancing and being gathered in the “uncaused connection” of all things. Timespace is excessive. Timespace is actual. Everything actual “is” excessive and perhaps ecstatic. Beauty develops. Ecstatic. Dance is thanksgiving. Every A/A is an A/B. A thing is itself to the degree it is its excess — which it always “lacks” or loses and so self-effaces.


We have mentioned in passing that “potential” and “excess” are not similes, and here we will elaborate on why. First, the problem with an emphasis on “potential” is that it is far too spatial; it suggests that things “could” be something else versus in their something-ness entail an excess and hence “lack” that is always being participated in, realized, and manifest. Things are “never fully exhausted” versus could be “never fully exhausted,” and critically what is potentially possible for something is that which can be entailed in its excess. Nothing can be a potential that isn’t excess-able, per se, and so that means we cannot treat a potential as independent of things.

The craftsman doesn’t “add” a potential to a pile of bronze, but participates in the excess of the bronze relationally to make possible a spear. All ideas start in the senses, so I have to “sense” bronze before I might imagine making it into a spear. Then I could come up with the idea to make a bronze spear, but this is possible only after the pile of bronze “gives itself over to me” through the senses. The bronze came to exist in “excess” of itself, relative to me (which it “lacks’), and “in that excess, I am then able to come up with the idea of a bronze spear. But this means I don’t “add” the idea of a spear to the bronze, but rather I more so “give back” (the excess and “lack” of) the bronze in the form of a “spear” which I now “see” in the bronze (like with Faulkner) thanks to the bronze and thanks to my relation to it. And I feel grateful.

For how this has ramifications in Ethics, please see “The ‘Such/Lack Solution’ to the ‘Is/Ought Problem’”

I do not come up with the idea for a “bronze spear” without ever experiencing bronze; bronze has to be sensed and experienced first (it has to “give itself to me”). For me to “add potential” to the bronze and the word “potential” not relate to the “excess” of the bronze, I would have to come up with the idea independent of my experience of bronze in anyway. But once I experience bronze and come up with ideas about it, those ideas are products of a relationship and hence a consequence of an “excessive process of lack.” I now “see” in the bronze the potential for a spear, but that is only because the bronze “gave itself to me” for me to see it as a spear: the potential comes after the excess, which then is a kind of “lack.” To put this another way, when I relate to the bronze, the object-bronze can now, thanks to my relation to it, share its excess with me, which is entailed in itself (without me, it “is” basically how it appears; the “excess” is there but not sharable). It is not that I add excess to the bronze, but rather that it entails in itself (as timespace) more than what I am immediately experiencing. In having that excess shared with me, I experience the bronze then as a “partial object” versus a “(full) object,” and so experience the bronze as a thing that can “unfold” (versus “be something else,” please note, a critical shift in language that can help us keep focus on the “excess” versus confuse “excess” with “potential”). And once I experience the bronze as “unfoldable,” which is to say once the bronze has “given itself to me” as such, it is then that I can imagine the bronze as “unfolding into and as an idea of mine.” And so the bronze could “unfold” into a bronze spear (more than perhaps “become” a bronze spear), and in seeing that, I am in a sense “invited by the bronze” to formulate it into a spear. I am invited to become part of its story. I can sense a theme, a command to change.

Because the bronze gives itself to me as a thing “unfolding in excess,” I am invited by relation to “see in it” a potential spear, an image, form, and/or idea that if I “fall in love with” (critical language for later), I might find myself “attracted” and “pulled in” by the bronze into formulating it into a spear. A “(partial) object” is hence experienced by me as “partial object,” which is for me to be invited by the “partial object” to steer, craft, and formulate its “unfolding” according to my ideas, which I only have thanks to the object. The object gives itself to me as having an “excess” that I am invited to experience as “lacking” according to the ideas I have thanks to the object giving itself to me (inspiring). The bronze invites me to “fall in love with it” as a thing which can be formed by me, and please note that this is indeed how “falling in love” goes: when I experience a woman as suddenly becoming “Michelle” and “fall in love,” a general category of “woman” becomes a “a particular Michelle” who in the transformation “attracts me” and “invites me” to be part of her story and its writing. Now, I might prove to be “a bad craftsman” and be rejected by the bronze in its substance, as I might prove to be “a bad man” and so be rejected by Michelle, but the point is that in that initial moment of “seeing” a woman become Michelle (like “seeing” the bronze become a spear and “seeing” Faulkner as bad become Faulkner as master), I am “attracted in” and “invited into” possibly being part of her life and story.

Note here that the word “potential” might be appropriate, for rather Michelle “in her excess” which invites me is actually realized depends on me and my person. I have been invited by the excess and “shine” of a definitive Michelle, and I want to receive that invitation, but that doesn’t mean I can (even if the reason I fall in love with Michelle versus someone else is because of some certain condition and individuation I have undergone). The word “potential” seems to rest on the side of my potential to “take up the invitation,” not on Michelle’s being or something. “Potential” seems to be a word that applies to my capacity to realize an “excess” according to “the lack” I experience in relating to the “partial object,” but that means excess leads to questions of potential, not that “excess” and “potential” are similes (not that I always maintain the language). “Potential” is a word that seems to bring into question my capacity to realize an excess, not my capacity to create one. I can only create out of what I am given: “excess” gives me “potential.” To say “potential is excess” could be an act of anthropomorphic pride.

The craftsman who suddenly “sees” in bronze the form of a spear because the craftsman “fell in love” with the bronze is someone who is invited to participate in the “unfolding” of the bronze, which is to say the craftsman is invited to participate in the bronze’s “excess.” When I experience a general woman, I don’t experience an invitation to participate in an excess; I experience a “full knowing.” Generalities are not “partial objects” and are experienced more so like “objects,” which is to say they do not stand out. Most people I experience I paradoxically experience as “entire”: I oddly treat strangers “as if” I know them. To put this another way, generalities and categories have “definitions,” but particularities are “definitive,” and in that definitiveness they entail an “excess” and “lack” beyond what I can comprehend. In this way, a stranger or general woman is not someone I experience as “Unknown,” even though that would seem to follow. In fact, it is in the full mystery of a definitive particularity that I experience the Unknown (of a “partial object”), and it is precisely in this context that I can feel desire and keep feeling desire (following Lacan) if I can keep the phenomena as “a partial object” (and not say give into a temptation to try “to know/possess it fully”). To “fall in love” is for me to make “a known woman” into “an Unknown Michelle,” and I can also then feel (good) Agency over me, like something outside my control has occurred. Beauty is thus: it is an experience of a supra-Agency. It is the experience of a “definitive particularity,” a “partial object” with which I am then, in this “falling in love,” invited to participate in and “formulate.” Because of its excess, I am invited to dream of “potential unfoldings.” Potential without excess could prove a self-effacing problem, but potential with excess could prove a romance.


Metaphysics for Aristotle is about actuality, and Aristotle seems to associates Metaphysics as something that only an elder can master. A child can be a prodigy at mathematics, but no child can be a prodigy at Metaphysics. Why not? Perhaps because it is only with time that we can experience “the unfolding of timespace” by which we can experience (and so have conviction in) the notion that things are excessive and hence “partial objects.” Metaphysics is about actuality, which means it is about particularity, which means it is about “partial objects” and understanding “objects as partial,” which is odd, mysterious, psychoanalytical, and strange. Metaphysics is to some degree a study of things as things because they excess; it is a realization of A/B in A/A. It is thinking of “partial objects” (A/B) and learning to live with them not in a manner that makes us seek a Big Other but in a way that trains us to honor a Dance. Destiny. Something alive outside of us. Agent. Authority. Joy. Character is perhaps gratitude for “partial objects.” Emergences. Conditions of possibility. A/B. The greatest thanksgiving seems of what isn’t guaranteed that we risked our lives for, time and time again — unfolding. Agents may never dwell with guarantees. Agents dwell with gratitude, the “mode” by which all things might be good.

Anyway, the craftsman “falls into love” with this bronze and “sees” the form of a spear that he then desires to formulate (thanks to the desire created by a “partial object”), in the same way I “fall in love” with a woman that then particularizes her into “the partial object” of Michelle that I then desire to formulate with (all humans are craftsmen in this sense of relationship). This experience is “in the image and likeness” of experiencing Beauty. Beauty feels like it has agency over us, and so the bronze the craftsman “falls in love with” feels like it has agency over him (in the same way that “Faulkner” feels like “an agent outside my control” once I realize there is far more to it than I originally realized). And once I realize Faulkner and bronze can be this way, then I potentially experience all of reality this way, but how do I actually experience “falling in love with everything?” And so a Mystery presents itself, a question that would require the work and cultivation of virtue to approach.

My idea of a woman comes from the experience of women, which is why a woman is intelligible to me when I experience her, and it is partially thanks to this intelligibility that it is possible for me to “fall in love with her” and for her to then be particularized into a definitive and excessive “partial object” that is “Michelle,” which then if I prove conditioned to be part of this “invitation,” it is possible for me to be formulated by Michelle as she formulates me, and for us to precisely desire this because we have moved from being “objects” (Secondary Substances) to “partial objects” (Primary Substances) to one another. We are now Beautiful to one another, as possible because I knew the “truth” of what constitutes a woman and because I believed it was “good” for me to relate to one: truth and goodness, like points, then lead to a greater dimensionality in the “situation” of Beauty and “Michelle.”

Actuality “lacks its excess,” we might say, which is to say an “object” is a “partial object,” which means it “lacks what is in excess to it,” which is the rest of the partiality that is “a present absence” (hence “lack,” which requires timespace to be actual). The idea forms this matter which is actual/timespace, but the idea is so capable to form the matter because the matter “gives itself” to the mind. The mind has an idea and form of the matter because it has “fallen in love” with the matter, per se, which is to say the general “object” of matter has become a particular “partial object” of bronze-lacking-spear-ness that the craftsman desires to realize (and be, at the same time, transformed by).

Though I will not always stick to the language, Libido might be seen as the training wheels for Eros, Desire for Drive, and philosophy and virtue and much is about us knowing how to “fall in love” according to Eros not just Libido, Drive not just Desire. Gratitude of Eros is a situation without a point. It is life. Life is pointless because it is full. To explain, it could perhaps be said that we are almost “by grace” given a biology by which we can more naturally and hormonally just experience “falling in love” with someone. Once this occurs, we then know it can occur, and the question arises if we might repeat this experience in different ways. In a sense, it would seem the challenge of philosophy is learning how to “keep falling in love” without the training-wheels of biology, and what we have to fall in love with is bronze and friends and reality and Faulkner. We have to undergo the conditioning so that it might be possible for us to keep falling in love but not just in the biological sense. We must fall in love with life. But that means we must meet a certain condition.

How do we fall in love with bronze or people as friends? I believe this is the work of philosophy, humanities, literature, religion, and the like. Biology can train us to fall in love with a woman into Michelle (from “definition” to excessive “definitiveness”), but we must actively train ourselves unnaturally (per se) via philosophy and the like to “see” in reality all around us the same definitiveness. This requires work, but this is the work which makes possible experiences of a deeper gratitude. There is no guarantee we will succeed, and so it becomes possible for us to develop courage and character in this undertaking. And as we develop this character, we thus gain the capacities needed to realize the potential given to us by the excess of an “object” that suddenly and all at once becomes a “partial object” to us, whether that object be bronze or a friend. “To fall in love” with something (which I think is basically the phenomenology of Beauty), strangely transforms an “object” into a “partial object,” which suggests that a Primary Substance is more partial than a Secondary Substance. This I think is the exact opposite of what we tend to think, for I think we associate a “Primary Substance” with something we fully know while a Secondary Substance is something we don’t know. Strangely, Secondary Substances are definitions and categories, which seem like they have a lot of potential because we can fill them with so much, but this is because they are vacant. It is particular things which are “excessive” and thus truly vast, but we conflate “vast vacancy” with “infinite excess.” These are not the same, and though we find “vacancy” (and hence “potential space to fill”) in categories, abstractions, and definitions like “woman,” we find “excess” (and hence “invitation to formulate) in particularities, concentrations, and definitives like “Michelle.” We confuse the space and vacancy of a category with the fullness and excess of life.

It is when encountering particularly that we can “fall in love,” and this is the experience of Beauty. If we are not capable of experiencing Beauty, we are not capable of “falling in love.” And so there is no love. There is nothing that can pull us, to which we can give ourselves over. To live as a full human is to condition ourselves to prove capable of “falling in love” with something and then capable of giving ourselves over to it, to participate in its formulation as it participates in ours. The craftsman who makes bronze into a spear is also formed by the bronze, as I am formed by Michelle. It always works both ways, and so Beauty is to be “invited” into a process of making and being made. What I experience as a “lack” in excess is the opening and space into which I can enter so that I also prove “lacking” in that I “lacked” what this “partial object” can now make me. And so I myself prove myself capable of being “in excess” of what I was. I experience myself as “an unfolding.” I experience myself as timespace. I am actual. Metaphysics is about actuality and my alignment with it, which isn’t “given” by appearance in that the brain understands things “as if” more spatial. But this is how things must be experienced if I am to comprehend them, and I must comprehend them to possibly see them as manifestations of timespace.


Drive is “of” the partial object; it is full when it is not complete (“(in)complete”). What is not partial is finished. We must be happy and partial to the “partial object”; in this “lack,” we can find motivation for life. A “lack” is a “present absence,” and in the “partial object” there is always a “part that is absent” which can cultivate our desire to know and seek. We seek to know because we do not know, but in the lover we do not move from ignorance to knowledge, but from knowledge to deeper knowledge to deeper knowledge to deep knowledge…We advance by growing light, not in a switch from darkness to light. Beauty is in the change in light and brightness, not merely in the bright(er) states; the change is necessary for Beauty versus mere presence. Change changes us, for it means we must be a subject who can handle change and play with it; if there were only “states” we could choose between, all we would need was preference and taste. It is the change that requires much of us, and it is the Child who loves and enjoys change. The Child plays with “partial objects” and is found glad in them; the Child does not fall into the temptation to make a “partial object” a “full object.” This would be to open Pandora’s Box, to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Life is about leaving something partial that everything in us says is rational to open and “make present” entirely (hence why marriage, as fundamentally an “(un)veiling,” can be training to live). It can be rational to lose it all in the name of gaining everything.

Things are themselves when they are partial. Beauty is partial. The partial is Unknown and desired. We desire to desire. A self-turning wheel. A self-dancing dance. We can desire an Agency to pull us. It is found in Friendship. In Dialogue. In Creation. The meaning of life is to fall under an Agency not a Big Other. The Agency of Virtue and character. Choose life, a seeking of that moment when we whisper with a smile, “How is this happening?” (seemingly the great gift and achievement of art). We tend to associate learning and education with “grasping full objects,” but this is strangely the exact opposite of the case: learning is at its best when we honor “a partial object” and learn to be grateful for its partiality. Beauty motivates us. Beauty leads to ethics. Beauty saves. But in the most powerful of things are the most fragile. A way of miracles.

Perhaps “The Meaning Crisis” is the mistake of seeking “full objects” in a reality where we are meant for “partial objects?” Perhaps, but the point is that learning should lead us toward beauty, which requires “partial objects,” which requires us to “integrate with lack.” Wisdom then is the art of keeping objects partial so we ever-desire them as a testament to the intimacy. A thing is a thing to the degree it has an excess more than a potential; if we do not employ the wisdom and art of keeping things “partial” (and thus us “partial” to them), things will be lost. Doesn’t that mean “points” will be lost and we will only have “situations?” It would seem that way, but “points” must be negated/sublated into higher geometries of “situations”; they cannot be effaced into their fullness. Points are points to the degree they have excess and hence “lack,” which is to say to the point that points are negated/sublated into “situations” (Leibniz); by definition, this requires us to keep “partial objects” as “partial” and not give into temptations for Big Others or (self-effacing) “completeness.” This is for us to “integrate with lack.” This is for us to become Children and Absolute Knowers. This is for us to be thankful that reality entails an “apophatic lack” and is “fundamentally (in)complete.” Dance, it does, thus. Agency. A life of its own.

Lack cannot be guaranteed; it is always beyond it. It requires courage and a nonrational, “Absolute Choice” (which means it can also help us address Nash Equilibria). Virtue entails making things excess and about being grateful for the gift of things as excesses. There are no guarantees where there is excess, for an “excess” and “lack” are beyond the range of what can be guaranteed. We set our eyes on the unseen. It is an act of courage. Courage is required for love and excess and “lack.” The one who fears is not be made perfect in love. The one who fears cannot give his or her self over to an Agency. To a Michelle. To a definitive thing. Fear seeks categories and vacancies and definitions. We do not seek an Agent. An interior. “A New Address” seeks Agency. It is trained in giving itself over to excess. Pluralism is nothing to fear. We are used to Agents. We celebrate being lost in Agents for we are not lost. We are in love. We form and our formed. Dance.

Wisdom is a mastering of the art of creating conditions for “uncaused connections” to Dance, for we know it is wise to be where Dance is happening and seeable. And we smile and exclaim, “How is this happening?” Beauty creates gratitude or it is doubtful we experience beauty — which is our problem. We do not meet the condition. We have not trained. Virtue lacks. On the other hand, a self-effacing move from the definitive to the definitional is a move from life to understanding it — after it is gone. It is a move from the general and categorical where “full understanding” is possible (Secondary Substance) to the particular where “partial objects” can be experienced in timespace (suggesting the need for “The Art of (Un)veiling,” as we discussed with Dante and Lacan together in O.G. Rose). But that is up to us — we must make an Absolute Choice. Nonrational. Spacetime as timespace is nonrational. Freeing and hard beyond intelligibility. Agency.

“Partial objects” are either experiences of a tragic Big Other or comic Beauty based on our conditioning (and relative to the Theme, alluding to Andrew and Alex’s work); the same metaphysical form of “lack” makes both possible (God is Heaven to those who love God and Hell to those who don’t). The move from Understanding (A/A) to Reason (A/B) in Hegel seems to require “the falling of love” of the craftsman of the “bronze,” thus turning the bronze into the “partial object” of a spear, hence a “lack” that cultivates desire. Beauty and our “taking up in it” seems isomorphic with “falling in love,” and so we might associate the craftsman with having some degree of an experience with beauty. Beauty is intelligible but not instrumental, and yet the experience of beauty for the craftsman can invite him to form an instrument. The distinction between “instrumental” and “instrument” could be the distinction on which the fate of much hinges.

It is the “partial object” that has Agency; an object is that which we have agency over. The term “partial object” only makes sense in timespace; otherwise, there are only objects, full and here and in space. Actuality takes time. Actuality is excessive not potential; actuality is excessive and then potential with us in relation. Potential outside a relation is an abstraction. Potential without excess is privation. Wisdom keeps potential in excess. There is indeed a sense in which “excess” entails “potential,” but as it is a mistake to conflate “character” and “morality,” so it goes with “excess” and “potential.” We must treat things that relate as distinct, yet the very act of relation makes the distinction difficult to maintain. We play with fire and chemicals. We must. Libido and Eros seem like chemicals.

The object exists more in the “partial object” than the “partial object” exists in the object, oddly; we tend to think the partial is on the way to the full, but really the full is on the way to the partial. The full is found in the Secondary Substance as definition (A/A), while the partial is found in the Primary Substance as definitive (A/B). To say things are A/B is to suggest they are (A/A)/B though, for we require “fullness” in the sense that something must be intelligible to us if we are to approach it, as we need Understanding to approach Reason, truth to approach goodness, and goodness to approach Beauty — but we must never lose sight of “the unfolding.” The saint entails what it is to be a sinner, which is why the person can be a saint; likewise, A/B entails A/A, as Reason always entails the possibility of Understanding. Beauty can always be boring: that is the miracle.

Definition applies to generality but makes us feel like we know a particular, and so we can lose the particular/partial in the definition, ​​which we might associate with the “fall” of Definitional Knowledge of Good and Evil (away from “the definitive” and excessive). Categories and definition are located in the realm of Secondary Substance, and they are vacant and spacious, not excessive and vibrant. There is a lot of space in a category for us to fit things in, but there are not “things inviting us to join them” as there is in the Primary. Categories can make space, and seemingly all thought and intelligibility requires categorization, but we are not to stop there. The space is an opening for us to enter a journey of invitation toward and with the Primary, and the Secondary and A/A is “good” to the degree it proves to be the opening which makes possible the journey into and with the Primary and A/B — the complete, categorical, and definitional are valid and necessary to the degree they lead to the partial, particular, and definitive. And yet the very necessity of the “full” and A/A suggests we only approach Beauty and A/B through danger. Walk well.

We ultimately “are” A/B versus A/A, and yet we require A/A to Understand reality and find it intelligible, which means we are in a sense “cut off” from our existential, actual, and origin-al precisely so that we might find and understand it (anew, meaningfully, Beautifully, as Deepening…). If we started A/B, we would likely be overwhelmed like a Dante who experienced Beatrice’s smile too early (Love(craftian)): A/B can only be known and lived through “(un)veiling” (as discussed throughout O.G. Rose). Also, A/B requires A, so we cannot skip Understanding; that would be for us to leave out that “A” in “A/B” that we require (in “(A/A)/B”). The brain is structured to naturally “cut us off” from A/B, but in that is actually a grace: there would be no possibility of A/B otherwise. Does this suggest “The Fall” was a blessing? Perhaps now.

Also, without Understanding, definitions, and A/A, we have nothing to sacrifice and die; we have nothing to transform, so training meaning and courage. Reality is movement as timespace, and thus to be “actual,” we must move as well, and that is what starting in A/A makes possible, for then we can “move” toward A/B. And gratitude in its highest form seems to be found when we become grateful for this: for starting in A/A so that we might find it possible to move into A/B, for starting with a biological “falling in love” so that we might be familiar with an experience that we might find in age and wisdom with the right “conditioning.” Only perhaps God has nothing to move aside or develop from or toward; and if we were infinite, there would be no finitude, and if Hegel is right that the infinite needs the finite, there would be nothing. The fact we require a process is a testament to a “timespace finitude” that makes existence possible at all. Humility realizes A/B is always (A/A)/B and is grateful of it; pride might believe we can be A/B without any A/A at all.

(Re)constructing “A Is A” discussed the difference between “hole hope” and “whole hope,” and the book warned that we must not fall into temptations of “hoping thanks to an absence of reality” and instead we need to situate our hope “in reality itself” (which is very difficult given how hard reality is, and also given that reality shifts and changes). The case must be expanded on, but the point here is that our very capacity to create “holes” is also precisely the capacity to experience “partial objects” and not find them unintelligible or “wrong.” We experience everything around us as “partial,” which is why we might ever-approach them in Mystery and Beauty, but that is also why we can “hole hope” and end up in pathology. There is no way for us to have Mystery or Beauty without the possibility of “hole hope,” for “hole hope” follows as possible from a world that is A/B versus A/A.

How should we approach “partial objects?” This is a question we might associate with “The Negative Pragmaticism” of Javier Rivera, but we should “orbit” them, which is to say we respond to “lack” by circumscribing versus collapse the “lack” in a centripetal movement (to use Jockin’s description). We must not “collapse the lack” (as we mustn’t “collapse the good with the beautiful”), but instead honor it, which means we can always be tempted by “a hole hope,” but such is the risk of being “toward” Mystery. And another risk is that in everything possibly being related to as a “partial object,” which is to say everything is related to as possibly beautiful, everything might be experienced as arbitrary, but again it is precisely this risk that is required for beauty to exist and for it to be meaningful and a testament to courage. Furthermore, if how each-thing is experienced as beautiful is particular and conditional, this suggests that the beauty of each-thing is not arbitrary, for it is earned, and in the experience of beauty there is also a self-forgetting, so we do not think much of arbitrariness then…To speculate socioeconomically, if everyone were to so live, what might “the network effect of beauty” be like? What might manifest in and through “a beautiful commons?”

Virtue, a path to self-forgetfulness, is tied to our capacity to give ourselves over to “the partial,” which is the actual as timespace (then Thematic, alluding again to Andrew and Alex’s work). Virtue is found in gratitude for A/B and our “situatedness” in A/A so that our “(un)veiling” and formulation into A/B might be possible. If there was no materiality that we naturally experienced as A/A, there would be no veil to make possible (un)veiling — there would be nothing. The material is the timespace that moves, generating the “lack” that is excessive and “unfolding” (as finitude generates the infinite for Hegel). “The veil” of infinitude creates “the unveiled” (in-finite) which is “the openness of an unset future,” gathering us into “the situation” of “(un)veiling,” the overall result of us relating to what is not-us (three parts, suggesting Leibniz). Love — this is what we have described. What moves us and stars.

If we need to keep objects as “partial objects,” should we never commit to them? Should we never marry, only stay dating. Not at all. An object can only become partial in commitment — it is the exact opposite of what we can often think. “Falling in love” is hardly even that if it does not lead to a commitment, which is “the shared and constant situation” in which “surprise” becomes possible, and hence an encounter with “The Real” that is necessary if a courage and virtue is to be developed by which we might prove conditioned to handle and experience Beauty. “Falling in love” is the phenomenology of Beauty that is fundamentally more timespace than spacetime. Beauty is temporal, for it is a “pulling in,” and in this we see reason to think it is higher than truth and goodness, for I “observe” what is good and true more like points that don’t have agency over me. But the Beauty “pulls me in,” which feels far more temporal and thus aligned with timespace. Furthermore “falling in love” and being in love is to be invited into a process that unfolds and deepens, and in this way it is more aligned with timespace. To prove conditioned to “fall in love” is to prove conditioned to align with the actuality of timespace, which requires doing things that lack any “moral guarantee” and committing. This is why they can produce character, and with character we can “fall in(to) love” in cases beyond natural biology, a work of virtue and wisdom.

Beauty is an experience of an Agency with “a life of its own,” and to experience a woman as “Michelle” is to experience a being that has Agency beyond my own that has “a life of its own” (that I only experience “partially” and “as an excess” and thus something I can desire for a life-time). So it goes in a Dialogos conversation or in fully experiencing Faulkner or in really seeing wonder in nature — all these experiences of things have an Agency beyond ours and “life of their own” that we experience partially and hence are drawn into desiring. And in that drawing, we are invited to “formulate and be formulated,” like a craftsman. This kind of “drawing” occurs with the definitive and particular. And it is in particularity we can experiences Agency beyond ours and something then is alive and we find ourselves full and pulled in an “unfolding” of timespace that we don’t fully understand and yet intimately understand and feel Joy. And we might say how is this happening not why is this happening, and we say this “how” in awe and joy — as I discussed with Matthew Allison. And that seems to be everything, the capacity to experience everything as a great “How is this happening?” And this is an expression of gratitude. It is the experience not of a point or things with a point but the experience of a situation. A situation of wonder. A situation we have “fallen in love in” and so feel an Agency compelling us to Dance with it. How? How. And this How is gratitude and virtuous to acknowledge and charactered because it was never guaranteed but there. We risked. Something outside of us compelled us. And we followed. We (were) formed. And there is no point. Friendship has no point. Beauty has no point. Philosophy has no point. Virtue has no point. Because all of these are situations. Marriage has no point. Marriage is a situation. It cannot be reduced to a point for it is much higher than a point. It is pointless. It is a way. It is what we fall in love with. It is what we enter. “How is this happening?” How can there be so much life in what doesn’t have a point? Because life is pointless. Life is a situation. Dance to dance.




Married June 7th, 2014

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O.G. Rose

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