This is a brief follow up to the discussion at the end of the last post. The problem of being for pure powers is the challenge of explaining their nature or ontological grounding when not manifested (if they are not grounded by other properties). I had been exploring the model that powers have the ontological character of quantum systems between measurements (=manifestations). And I think the best way to evaluate the being of quantum systems is as truly existing but non-concrete propensities (while manifestation events=concreta). I hesitate to use the term “abstract” to describe this sort of being, since that has come to imply “causally irrelevant”, and powers are anything but – indeed they underwrite causality in nature. But I do think we need to accept that there are indeed two modes of being.
I draw connections to two papers recently discussed.
I think William A. Bauer’s notion that pure powers are self-grounding due to ongoing minimally sufficient manifestations can connect with the above view in an interesting way. Our analysis of powers typically begins with paradigm cases involving everyday macroscopic objects (like the fragility of a vase). Well, the strange ontological status of quantum systems is only apparent when very small systems are considered in isolation. In everyday situations larger systems do have ongoing minimal interactions with the environment – leading to the kind of apparent sustained being that Bauer envisions. So while his explanation for the self-grounding of powers is not ultimately correct, it connotes an approximate fact about the ongoing manifestation of powers in the rough and tumble world.
Finally, I would note another interesting connection between the view I’ve sketched lining up powers with quantum systems by referring back to the Neil E. Williams paper I discussed in my post "Power Holism". Williams wondered how multiple powers had the capability of fitting together to produce mutual manifestations, arguing that one may need to appeal to a kind of holism to explain this. I would just quickly note that the ability of quantum systems to become correlated through non-local connections and entanglement provides a model of holism which may address his concerns.