Sunday, May 15, 2016

Is oxygen a relation?

Keeping pace with some readings, I find the following paragraph in an essay by professor Levi R. Bryant:1
Far from being epiphenomena of effects of relational networks, objects are instead the prior condition of relations. And this in two respects: first, relations are not simply "there" but must be made. Insofar as relations must be made, it follows that objects must act to form these relations.
What "objects"?

In the same page, discussing how objects are attracted to each other, which he labels as "affects," Bryant talks about oxygen and hydrogen as objects and water as an "assemblage" of these.2  Are "objects" not sort of "assemblages"?
The question I propose: Has oxygen any "parts"?3 We know it has atomic No.8 (for 8 electrons and 8 protons), its mass = 16 (8 protons + 8 neutrons).

Unless "8" is a magic number, it has to be a particular relation of these smaller, more basic constituents. If "____" had #7, with mass = 14, it would be nitrogen!

In keeping with professor Bryant's argument above, if electrons, protons and neutrons are prior to oxygen,4 then oxygen cannot be the prior condition of them.

1 From "The Ontic Principle: Outline of an Object-Oriented Ontology," in The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism ( 2011), p. 274. 2 "Combine a few H2O molecules together and you get into gaseous or liquid state. Remarkably, the objects out of which H2O is composed themselves possess very different affects." 3 For the sake of simplicity, we've left behind other structural atomic issues, such as isotopes, orbitals, etc, etc. To the best of our knowledge, hydrogen and helium appear before oxygen in the early universe. Why? I dunno, but the answer has to be relational.