The Ubiquitous Artifact: On Coherence
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Most of the terms that might seem to be necessary or sufficient conditions on coherence turn out to be no more than styles or modes of coherence, never the thing itself. This is true even of logical consistency. We can no more capture the possibilities of coherence in a timeless definition than we can capture the possibilities of games or works of art. Coherence is made and not found, invented and not discovered, and an artifact of embodied, historically contingent understanding, not the noetic mimesis of an intrinsic nature. It never comes naturally, innocently, or without art. In Kant's language, coherence is an Idea, an ideal that moves us. Remove our yearning for it and there is no residual coherence of things in themselves. Yet the origin of coherence is not in ideas or subjectivity but in artifacts, which are the very model of coherence, things that make sense because of how they are put together. The original objective synthesis occurs not in the immaterial solitude of transcendental consciousness but right out there before us in an artifact, always material in the first instance.
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