IDENTITY AND GLUONS 15
At the other extreme, one might suppose that there are unities, but that they have no parts, and hence that there are no gluons. All unities, no parts. A very extreme form of this position is to the effect, not only that there are only unities, but there is only one of them. All else is appearance. The view is to be found in Parmenides and Bradley. Supposing that there are only unities with no parts is a desperate move. It flies in the face of common sense: if someone steals a wheel of my car then it is missing an essential part. And before one says that the car is not really a whole, but we only think of it in that way, recall that this means that there is a unity in intention, and we are back with intentional gluons.
In the second case, we must insist that the gluon is simply not an object. But this seems even more desperate: we can refer to it, quantify over it, talk about it. If this does not make something an object, I am at a loss to know what could. Anything we can think about is an object, a unity, a single thing (whether or not it exists). There seems little scope here.
Finally, in the third case, we may suppose that the gluon is simply an object. But we have seen that this just leaves us bereft of an explanation of the unity of an entity. How could we even have had the impression that any object could constitute the unity of another bunch of objects? Only because of taking the unity for granted. Thus, we write ‘Socrates is a person’ and the rest is obvious. But putting ‘Socrates’ and ‘is a person’ next to each other does not do the job; it just produces a plurality of two things.When we think of the two as cooperating, the magic has already occurred.
If we cannot go back, then we must go forward. What stands in the way? Evidently, the Principle of Non-Contradiction. If we accept that gluons both are and are not objects, then some contradictions are true. Whilst it must be agreed that horror contradiction is is orthodox inWestern philosophy, at least since Aristotle’s canonical—but fundamentally flawed—defence, the friends of consistency have done little as yet to establish that there is anything rational in this. So let us go forward. Gluons are dialetheic: they have contradictory properties. Of course, if this were all there were to matters, the situation would not be particularly interesting. Going on means crossing the bridge of inconsistency; and what is important is what lies on the other side.
23 See Priest (2006).
24 Not that there are no other good reasons to do so. See Priest (1987) and (1995a).