First we know that everything is part of an ongoing dynamic process (see volume 46 and 49). Reality is process. It is hard to say it better than our colleague Evan Thompson:

“In the context of contemporary science… “nature” [reality] does not consist of basic particulars [things], but fields and processes… There is no bottom level of base particulars with intrinsic properties that upwardly determines everything else. Everything is process all the way “down” and all the way “up”…” ~ Evan Thompson, Mind in Life, p. 440

This might seem at a general level obvious, but, we (including us) can easily make the critical mistake to reintroduce entities as substances with intrinsic properties (fixed internal essences). As Evan Thompson goes on to say these processes are “irreducibly relational — they exist only in patterns, networks, organizations, configurations or webs… Phenomena at all scales are not entities or substances but relatively stable [relational] processes…”

This phrase “irreducibly relational'' is what is critical. Relationality is not just that things are connected in some formal manner like all the stuff piled up on my dining room table: books, glasses, computers, papers, cables, mail…  The irreducible relationality of reality is something quite different: we should understand relationality as both a “thing” in its own right and as what determines the “parts” in a process is a critical shift in the reinvention of creativity as a process (without falling back into a substance viewpoint). 

Take soccer: you cannot find it in the ball, the field or the players — it emerges from the particular relations & their emergent logic which is ‘between’ all of these. The parts are necessary, but soccer is irreducible to the parts — and is distinct from these parts. Relations are like this — inextricably part of some assemblage but more than the assemblage.

But one could still argue that you need actual players, an actual soccer ball and an actual soccer field in advance of the relations. Thus, the people and the things are more important and do proceed the relations. But this misses the most important part of such relations in the context of creativity: the relation ultimately creates the parts. (See above diagram).

The emergent and relational whole has the capacity to shape its parts — this is termed system causation (or downward causation). When people and things are brought into relation and the relation is held stable — the relation will creatively and constitutively change the people and the things. The relations are the fundamental creative agent operating via emergent and dynamic enabling constraints (the affordances of the field, ball, bodies, and rules).

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