The Problem of Ground in Comparative Philosophy
Quality, Quantity, Intensity
Keywords:comparative philosophy, qualitative comparison, quantitative comparison, tension, intensity, obscure ground, interpenetration, juxtaposition, clarity, re-obscuring, groundlessness
In comparative philosophy, there arises the problem of ground for comparison. Qualitative comparison is based on a certain qualitative ground for comparison, e.g., weight. Quantitative comparison brings more clarity into the qualitative comparison, introducing discrete and homogeneous units: how much does it weigh? How much does it cost? Both qualitative and quantitative comparison start from a ground that is already given and clear; they simply apply it to the case at hand (Is this one heavier than the other? If so, by how much?). In other—and more interesting—cases, the common ground is obscure: we have the feeling that A and B can be compared, but how exactly? The inability to immediately proceed to application creates a tension, and this opens the intensive dimension of comparison. The intensity has two sides: obscure and clear. The obscure side has its articulations, but they interpenetrate each other. Our task is to unfold, unravel, unpack. Then we will bring something to clarity where the elements do not interpenetrate so much but are juxtaposed (in different qualities and quantities). This will give rise to new tensions and new unfolding. The obscure articulations do not resemble the clear ones, and their unfolding is a creative process.
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