WHY A RELEVANTISTIC INTERPRETATION?
The forces which restore, or endeavor to restore, disturbed
equilibriums in nature, achieve, or endeavor to achieve
this, with counteractions (such as a higher reproduction or
reproductive capacity in the event of a diminishing population).
But each counteraction has to be as unneutral as the disturbance
it is meant to offset in order to be wholly effective.
The striving for maximum entropy in systems which can take their own
neutrality as a result, that is,
a homogeneous concentration throughout a closed system, but the changes in
concentration in the different parts of such a system are unneutral
The process in which the change in an
external condition of a chemical system is leveled as much as
possible is a reaction process which is basically unneutral
itself, yet aimed at neutrality, that is, equilibrium. Induction
currents work against the change by which they came into
existence, yet these forms of electricity are as unneutral as
the change which caused them. The principles of conservation of
momentum, of rotation, of charge and of mass and energy imply that
or the state in which the
total amount of these quantities does not alter, can only be
maintained with an equally unneutral counterchange for every
These are all examples of a neutrality needing a certain kind of
Striving for neutrality in the event of polarity therefore requires
increase-catenary polarity, that is, polarity with respect to the
increase-catena of the original
catena whose neutrality is strived for.
If good is equated with of superior
normative value, the
neutrality strived for is 'good', whereas all unneutralities concerned are
'bad' on the principle of
But if the neutrality strived for is 'good', and if right is equated
with promoting the good, the act of striving for neutrality is
tho such an act
requires comparative unneutrality, that is, a form of 'badness'.
On the other hand, an act of striving for polarity may require
the same degree of polarity, and thus be equally bad, but wrong
Strictly speaking, the principle of neutrality solely determines what is
'good' or 'bad' on the
performatory level, whether in
the sense of what is superior, or in the sense of what actually or
probably promotes what is superior.
Without further refinement it cannot even determine what is 'right' in
that it promotes neutrality or intends to promote it, for what
promotes neutrality is unneutral in itself.
however, 'right' is indeed what is decided to promote a neutral cause, and
'wrong' what is decided to promote an unneutral cause.
(Note that in the context of this chapter we must always read "prima facie
right" and "wrong", or add insofar as
the norm of neutrality is concerned.)
Even when the distinction between goodness and rightness
is made with regard to the neutralistic evaluation of the
ground-world, the principle of
neutrality needs at least to be refined or interpreted in such a way that
the polarity which is inherent in the striving for (the greatest chance of)
neutrality cannot itself be the object of a right action.
Otherwise it would even be right to offset and upset acts or processes
aimed at neutrality.
Given that this is not right, our interpretation of
the principle of neutrality is of the neutral, unless
type: one should not aim at polarity, unless such polarity serves a
neutral purpose. This is tantamount to saying that neutrality is
normatively superior, but that some aspects (first of all the
auxiliary ones) have to be treated differently on the basis of
this principle, because such a distinction between aspects is
relevant to a neutral end.
What nonauxiliary (or 'notional') aspects can or must be
treated differently if the neutrality of a certain catena is
indeed a legitimate goal?
To answer this question we should, among other things, look at each
catena's position in a
Let us call the catena with the neutrality which can be chosen as an end
in itself "catena A".
Obviously, if the neutrality of A is a legitimate penultimate end (with
neutrality per se as ultimate end), the neutrality of the
increase catena of A can only be a legitimate end as well if the
state of affairs in question is neutral from the angle of A.
The superiority of increase-catenary neutrality is therefore
conditional, given that an original catena takes precedence over a
What holds for the neutrality of the
increase- or differentiation-catena, holds for the time-differential
catena of A: rest or constancy are normatively superior,
unless movement or change over time promote neutralness in terms
of the original catena. This is the relevant distinction we draw
between two types of constancy and two types of change over time
— 'relevant' that is, in respect of an original catena.
Now, what is said to 'promote' neutralnesss may still be a question of
or a question of
And as we are in this context concerned with
catenical relations, we can be more precise. We must, then,
distinguish between neutrality-differentiation and -differential
catenas with an aspectual value 0 for the differentials, and
positivity- or other differentiation and differential catenas
with an extremely positive or other unneutral aspectual value.
The special relationship is, then, between the neutrality of the
original catena and the positivity of both the active and the
passive neutrality-differentiation catenas and of the
neutrality-differential catenas. If we do not refine the principle
of neutrality and accept that positive, active and passive,
neutrality-differentiation and neutrality-differential change are
'bad', then it will not follow that we should abstain from this
kind of badness. We could also refine the principle's formulation
and say that it does not apply to the positivities of the
neutrality-differentiation and -differential catenas of a catena
whose neutrality is unconditionally superior. Whether we opt for
the one or the other approach, it does not affect the content of
the norm of neutrality.
What does affect this content is the catenical distinction which has to
be made between different aspects.
Sometimes positive polarity can be a sign of neutralization, and
negative polarity a sign that something is becoming, or is made, (more)
Just as it does not make sense that neutralization would be inferior to
increase-catenary neutrality, or that neutralization would be as inferior
as polarization, so it does not make sense to believe that something that
is merely a sign of neutralization would be normatively inferior.
The neutrality of such a catena would therefore not be superior. A
possible example of a catena which has such a signal function is
the happiness catena. This catena will be discussed when we
examine the concept of the well-being of sentient beings and the
principle of beneficence.
The principle of neutrality does not lay down what empirical
value of a quantity which can assume three or more values is the
neutral one and corresponds to the catena value 0.
However, given the neutrality of the original catena A, and granted that
this neutrality is of superior value, another neutrality cannot be a
penultimate end if it belongs to a catena which has been
factitiously derived from A.
I.2.5.3 for the difference between
factitious and nonfactitious derivations.)
This includes all
It cannot be argued, for example, that moderateness is the opposite of
extremeness, and that therefore it would be the neutral limit-element
between moderateness and extremeness which would be normatively superior.
The principle of neutrality can solely hold for nonfactitious derivations,
basic catenas included.
A special type of nonfactitious derivation is, then, the bicatenal
bivariant comparative catena for which the neutral value corresponds to
Since this catena is neither factitious nor a differentiation or
time-differential catena, the principle of neutrality is unconditionally
applicable to it. Bicatenal bivariant equality is normatively
superior to the concatenate inequality, regardless of the
original catena values concerned. This derivative principle is
the principle of equality; of catenated bicatenal bivariant
equality, to be precise.
We will review this principle and traditional objections to it in a
separate division of this chapter (namely
There is at least one more connected series of predicates
with regard to which the principle of neutrality does not seem
to make sense from a purely conceptual point of view. (Other
points of view would require other normative, ground-world
principles and would mar the fundamental character of the
present analysis.) It is the temporal auxiliary series. If
someone were to say that existing-now is normatively superior to
existing-in-the-past and to existing-in-the-future, there would
be no way to promote this form of the good. The course of time
itself cannot be influenced, and things which exist in the
future will exist at a time which is then the present moment.
(Or —as a sage of old had it—, 'there is no limit to the
Time is an aspect different from all others, and people are even willing
to accept the asymmetry of time in that they believe that they can
only go forward in it, and not backward (so long as they are able to
distinguish going forward relatively more slowly from going backward.)
Such asymmetry causes irritation and is being challenged by theorists in
search of a ubiquitous and eternal, fundamental symmetry in nature.
On our neutralistic model it would be nice if the belief in the asymmetry
of time proved to be mistaken (provided, of course, that we have not to
put up with unneutrality elsewhere).
But if there is any factor that 'behaves' differently, it is the factor
time, and therefore it is correct that the principle of neutrality does
not apply to such an auxiliary predicate.
It is also time-differential catenas it does not unconditionally
apply to, not any of the other differential catenas.
It should now have become clear why the principle of
neutrality has to be refined or interpreted in a relevantistic
way. There are distinctions to be drawn between certain kinds of
aspect which are either relevant from the perspective of the
superiority of neutrality itself or from the perspective of the
adoption of the principle of neutrality.
To sum up: the principle of catenated neutrality, whether its formulation
is refined or whether it is interpreted in a relevantistic way, only
- connected series of nonauxiliary, nonevaluative,
—hence, it does not apply to normative, modal and temporal,
auxiliary series with auxiliary predicates such as goodness, probability
- catenas which are not factitious —hence, it does not apply to
modulus-catenas and certain other difference catenas—
- catenas with respect to which a
primary thing does not
need to have an unneutral predicate, if it is to strive for, attain
or maintain the neutrality of an original catena —hence, the
neutrality of an original catena takes precedence over polarities of
differentiation and time-differential catenas—
- catenas of which one of the
monopolarities is not a sign
of neutralization with respect to another catena —hence, it does
not seem to apply to the happiness catena as we will see
It is thinking of the last two types of catena that one may say
"neutrality is good, neutral-directedness is right".
THE CATENICAL DAO
By our stillness we shall be supreme.
By our movement we shall bring it about.
This canonical prose poem was partially inspired by a two to
two-and-a-half thousand years older saying.
Literally, dao means way.
The 'dao' of a certain school is the 'way' which that school offers to
the students, or the way they are taught.
Special meanings are ultimate principle of the universe and
right way of life.