Metaphysical notions are assumed without proof. They serve as a starting point for thinking, like axioms do for mathematics. They presuppose nothing: the buck stops there. In my PhD I opted for process ontology instead of object ontology because I am attracted to the idea that a firm is never the same twice. I also avoided getting trapped in traditional foundational views and enabled a fresh look. A Christian theologist for example is unlikely to be capable of a strong critique of Christianity, because she has not acquired sufficient distance to doubt the foundations of her research topic. We are however not accustomed to think in terms of causal processes, because the Platonic view that objects and relations have the primate took the upper hand over processual approaches proposed by Heraclitus and to an extent Anaxagoras. Russell (1961) writes that this course of events has held humanity back dramatically.
Deleuze (1968) rejects the primate of objects and the relations between them. He asserts that the primitive is instead that nothing is identical (to something else). Consider the example that not snowflakes nor grains of sand are identical, or tend to an ideal or to perfection. This is of course unknowable, because we can’t know them all or everything, let alone compare them, and we are not at the end of the universe.
Relativity theory teaches that events are different, because every event has a particular location in space-time: some but not all coordinates can overlap. Each one is in a different location and / or at a different time. These coordinates are knowable relative to (in terms of those of) another one.
We must take the observer into account and add her to the system as per rhizomatic theory. Her cognitive capabilities range from a primitive making sense of up until a sophisticated interacting. It is implausible that observations, simultaneous or sequential, are identical. Difference not sameness is the invariable qualifying it as a metaphysical notion.
Deleuze (1968) continues to say that [differences between [series of differences]] account for change. This is also a primitive, because it is impossible that all these differences finally generate stasis, because difference is the norm, whether between or within systems. When circular the behavior of such a series repeats to make a pattern.
Thus we assume the metaphysical notions of difference and repetition without questioning. We assume that the ontological notions of change and pattern derive from them. We know change as [observations of [differences between [series of differences]]]. Take for instance changes in systems’ behavior observed by us, or another system, or by itself.
We know a pattern when we recognise coherent behavior because it has happened before, here and just now or elsewhere in the past. It coheres because we noticed that there is a relation between the series. We don’t see a pattern if there is no coherence, or if we are incapable of observing it (e.g. we can’t observe random behavior, or an atom, or a species). As a byline patterns and change are games for three, not two players (cf. Rovelli 2021).
In regards to coherence, I specifically wish to verify its nature. What test establishes whether a firm is a pattern of coherent behavior that emerges from a causal process and remains self-referencing? It appears that the corresponding design conditions of individuation and autopoiesis offer suitable criteria. I believe that data will not be fit as a source for verification of these premises, because they are usually rubricated and recorded with an object perspective. Interviews will prove more suitable, provided that the interviewees can assume the role of the firms’ spokes person.