Chapter 4: The Relevance of Scale
While every phenomenon comprises connective or architective interactions or both, it often depends on the scale of our observation of a phenomenon as to which mode of interaction is most obvious or relevant. In looking at a table, for example, its architective behaviour is what matters at the scale of a human observer and what distinguishes it from say a chair, to the point where any connectivity in the table is irrelevant. In fact, without the tools to make an observation at the smaller molecular scale (which humans have only acquired in recent technological history) we would be totally oblivious of any connective interaction inside a table.
The geometric shape of an atomic nucleus plays no role in its interaction with the atomic electrons, nor do we distinguish the figures of individual electrons in determining how they interact with each other. The same can be said of the entire sub-atomic menagerie - it is not meaningful to specify geometric figures for protons or quarks in describing how they relate to each other. There are no figurate embraces between sub-atomic objects.
Quantum mechanics tells us that it is however meaningful to specify wave properties such as wavelength in describing sub-atomic objects, and that they can establish bonds. Connective and binding interactions are common at sub-atomic scales.
As we go up the scale of things, it is only at the scale of atoms combining into molecules that aggregates acquire the uneven shapes that enable them to participate in figurate embraces. It is only at the molecular level of functional complexity that atoms aggregate into objects whose distinct geometrical shapes contribute to the properties of the material they constitute. Large molecules such as proteins can fold into shapes that play a crucial role in defining their material characteristics. Above the molecular scale, humans fashion materials into shapes (like pegs and holes and bricks and screws) where their figures can be the main factor determining meaning in their behaviour.
Significantly, I can find no examples of architectivity at a cosmic scale. Connectivity is widely evident in the interactions between stars and galaxies, yet stars and galaxies seem to be incapable of establishing bonds and they are definitely not capable of aggregating into embraces having complex shapes. The largest architective interaction I can imagine is a contact of rocky planets, or perhaps more realistically, a collision between a comet s core and a rocky planet. Meetings of giant gaseous planets such as Jupiter and Saturn, or between suns or galaxies, would exhibit connective integrations rather than architective collisions or aggregations. There appears to be a limit to the size that an object can take and still participate in an architective interaction ##.
Figurate interaction appears to be restricted to a window of scale residing between the molecular and the planetary, while bonds appear to be absent at very large scales. Connective interaction, on the other hand, is observable in abundance at every known scale.
Importantly for us, the figurate window of scale is our home. The scale of human activity means that we live in the thick of figurate interaction. Our bodies are complex functional objects having figurate components. An arm is figurately different to a leg. Our foods have figurate components whether they are vegetable or animal. Our tools, homes and cities employ complex figurate shapes. We have become adept at figurate technologies.
All living organisms as we know them are figurate functional objects. If there are other functional life forms out in the cosmos they would be on a scale not too far removed from our own since they too would necessarily have a dependence on architective if not on figurate behaviour. They would likely share our figurate window of scale.
A Window of Pure Connectivity
The absence of physical architective interaction at very large scales occurs because none of the fundamental physical forces exhibit constraints at large distances so they cannot create very large objects or hold objects within very large containers. Some interactive forces themselves can operate, albeit weakly, over very large distances, but their associated intrinsic constraining forces are effective only at relatively small distances.
As well, the electromagnetic interactions (which are responsible for all figurate activity) are bipolar and cancel each other out over large collections of objects, while gravity accumulates over large collections of objects. The result is that, at very large scales, gravity is the only fundamental force known to have any effect at all and is only strong enough to facilitate connective interactions.
It is not unreasonable to propose a window at a cosmic scale, say anything bigger than the planet Jupiter, in which all interaction is connective.
(It could be argued that a future human society, as an architective object, may span a number of planets, possibly even a number of solar systems, but it too would ultimately be limited by the capacity of its outposts to communicate with each other, so such an argument only pushes the boundary further out without eliminating it.)
What might such a purely connective window be like? Astronomical interactions between stars and galaxies are good examples. All the features of architective behaviour are absent from their interactions. Galaxies can integrate but not aggregate (and divide but not disrupt), and so cannot create new kinds of objects having properties they do not have, in the way that atoms can aggregate into molecules. That is, creation and extinction as a behavioural phenomenon would be absent from the window. A galaxy s visage may fade away as it loses stars but the underlying gravitational interaction between the stars remains, with the stars perhaps being distributed among other galaxies. The concept of identity is also not relevant in such a large-scale window - a galaxy displays only a variable visage rather than a lasting identity, so it can suffer no loss of identity because it had none in the first place. In the purely connective cosmic window, the concepts of creation, extinction and identity are meaningless. All is a flux of temporary visages.
To be precise, no architective interactions are available in a purely connective window of scale. The absence of static architectures means there can be no exactness of definition or specification, no permanent storing of information, no categorizations of identities, no ranks, no fixed hierarchies, no control, no contests and no stepped processions.
A purely connective window would be very alien to us.
There could be no definiteness of position or distance in a purely connective window of scale, since no two objects could be assumed to have a fixed distance between them to set a standard for measuring other positions. The concepts of relative position, distance and timespan would be meaningless; rather the concept of relative motion would be the standard measure for spatial and temporal reference. Think about flying or swimming without being able to see ground. You don t know where you are or even if you are moving. You are like a fish swimming with or against the current, with no land in sight, unaware where the tide may be taking you. Your only spatial references are the current and the relative motions of other fish. No ground to put your feet on. No I am here . Only I am aware of how you are moving relative to me .
Architective Isolation and Finitude
I refer to scales smaller than the purely connective cosmic window as the architective window. These are the scales at which architective interaction is evident or at least possible. The architective window of course includes the figurate window that is our home.
Consider that the largest architective object in our vicinity is planet Earth itself. It is at the very top of the physical architective hierarchy we live in and so is not in architective interaction with any other cosmic object, not even the moon. The moon does affect the Earth and things on and in it like the ocean tides, but these are connective influences. There is no aggregate of which the Earth is a constituent object. It participates in the solar system, yes, but that system is a connective. Earth is of course connectively related to every other cosmic object through the force of gravity but it is architectively isolated from all of them. All its external interactions are connective. It can really aggregate no more, close as it is to the maximum scale of the architective window.
The highly complex architecture of every rocky planet would likely have emerged along a different path of aggregation and emergence, making it different to every other rocky planet and architectively isolated from all of them.
Even though the possibilities for architective complexity may be infinite, every actual architecture has a finite size. This has an important implication for our understanding of bonds and embraces. It means that every binding interaction and every embrace has a finite number of constituent objects at any one level. It may not necessarily mean that the number of levels in an architective hierarchy is finite, but the number of objects in each level is.
Connective interactions may have an infinite number of participants. Connective phenomena are neither confined to a maximum size nor are they connectively isolated from each other (unless they are confined in an architective container). Scale is irrelevant to a purely connective behaviour.