Process-based entities are relational structures. From whitehead to structuralism



Ontologia de processo, Emergência, Estruturas relacionais, Teoria da categoria, Realismo estrutural ôntico


The aim of this work is to argue for the idea that processes and process-based entities are to be modelled as relational structures. Relational structures are genuine structures, namely entities not committed to the existence of basic objects. My argument moves from the analysis of Whitehead’s original insight about process-based entities that, despite some residual of substance metaphysics, has the merit of grounding the intrinsic dynamism of reality on the holistic and relational characters of process-based enti[1]ties. The current model of process ontology requires gen[1]uine emergence and this, in turn, requires organizations, i.e., emergence in organizations. Another view about pro[1]cesses rely on a structural specification of processes. I sug[1]gest that the two views can be made compatible by the help of a specific sort of structures, namely relational struc[1]tures. The appeal to the mathematical theory of genuine structures, category theory, reveals the formal plausibility of this convergence. According to this formal approach, genuine structures are essentially dynamic entities for they are relational, namely, as well as organizations, they are not existentially committed to particulars.


Não há dados estatísticos.

Biografia do Autor

Francesco Maria Ferrari, Universidade Estadual de Campinas

Pós-Doutorando no Centro de Lógica, Epistemologia e História da Ciência pela Universidade Estadual de Campinas.


Ainsworth, P. M. “What is ontic structural re alism?”. In: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 41:50-57, 2010.

Awodey, S. “Structure in Mathematics and Logic: A Categorical Perspective”. Philosophia Mathematica, 4:209-237, 1996.

Awodey, S. “An answer to Hellman’s question: “Does category theory provide a framework for mathematical structuralism?”. In: Philosophia Mathematica, 12:54-64, 2004.

Bedau, M., Humphreys, P. Emergence: Con temporary Readings in Philosophy and Science. MIT Press, 2008.

Beckerrmann, A., Flohr, H., Kim, L. Emer gence or Reduction? Walter de Gruyter, 1992.

Bickhard, M. “Systems and Process Meta physics”. In: Hooker, C. (Ed). Handbook of Philosophy of Science. Philosophy of Complex Systems. Vol. 10, Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 91–104, 2011.

Bickhard, M. “Some consequence (and en ablings) of process metaphysics”. In: Axiomathes, 21:2-32, 2011.

Bickhard, M. The whole person. Toward a Nat uralism of Persons. In preparation.

Blasone, M., Jizba, P., Vitiello, G. Quan tum field theory and its macroscopic manifesta tions. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co., 2011.

Blitz, D. Emergent Evolution: Qualitative Nov elty and the Levels of Reality. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1992.

Campbell, D. T. “Downward causation in hier archically organised biological systems”. In: Ay ala, F. J., Dobzhansky, T. (Eds). Studies in the philosophy of biology: Reduction and related problems. London/Basingstoke: Macmillan, pp. 179–186, 1974.

Campbell, D. T. “Levels of organization, down ward causation, and the selection-theory ap proach to evolutionary epistemology”. In: Green berg, G., Tobach, E. (Eds.). Theories of the evo lution of knowing. Hillsdale (NJ): Lawrence Erl baum, pp. 1–17, 1990.

Campbell, K.. Abstract Particulars. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1990.

Campbell, R. “A process-based model for an interactive ontology”. In: Synthese, 166:453–477, 2009.

Campbell, R. The metaphysics of emergence. Macmillan, 2015.

Campbell, R., Bichkard, M. “Physicalism, Emergence and Downward Causation”. In: Axiomathes, 21:33-56, 2011.

Chalmers, D. Strong and Weak Emergence. In: Clayton, Davies (Eds). (2006).

Cocchiarella, N. B. Formal Ontology and Conceptual Realism. Springer, 2007.

Corradini, A., O’Connor, T. Emergence in Science and Philosophy. Routledge, 2010. [

Clayton, P., Davies, P. (Eds). The Re Emergence of Emergence. Oxford University Press, 2006.

Corry, R. “Emergine From the Causal Drain”. In: Philosophical Studies, 165:29-47, 2013.

Del Giudice, E., Pulselli, R., Tiezzi, E. “Thermodynamics of irreversible processes and quantum field theory: an interplay for under standing of ecosystem dynamics”. In: Ecological Modelling 220:1874-1879, 2009.

Ferrari, F. M. “Formal issues of trope-only theories”. In preparation.

French, S. The Structure of the World: Meta physics and Representation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

French, S., Krause, D. Identity in Physics: A Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Fong, K. Y., Li, H., Zhao R., et al. “Phonon heat transfer across a vacuum through quantum fluctuations”. In: Nature, 576:243-247, 2019.

Gill, M. L. “Aristotle’s dinstinction between change and anctivity”. In: Seibt, J. (Ed). Process Theories: Cross disciplinary Studies in Dy namic Categories. Kluwer Academic Publishers Springer, pp. 3-22, 2003.

Heller, M. “Category Free Category Theory and Its Philosophical Implications”. In: Logic and Logical Philosophy, 25:447-459, 2016.

Hellman, G. “Does Category Theory Provide a Framework for Mathematical Structuralism?” In: Philosophia Mathematica, 11:129-157, 2003.

Kauffman, S. At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Kim, J. Mind in a physical world. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998.

Kim, J. “Making sense of Emergence”. In: Philo sophical Studies, 95:3-36, 1999.

Kim, J. “Emergence: core ideas and issues”. In: Synthese, 151:547–559, 2006.

Kistler, M. (Ed). “New Perspectives on Reduc tion and Emergence in Physics, Biology and Psy chology”. In: Special issue of Synthese, 151(3), 2006.

Landsman, K. Foundations of quantum theory. From classical concepts to operator algebras. Berlin: Springer, 2017.

Lawvere, F. W. Functorial semantics of alge braic theories., Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University, 1963.

MacDonald, C., MacDonald, G. Emergence in Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Mittelstaedt, P. “Quantum Physics and Clas sical Physics - In the Light of Quantum Logic”. In: Int. J. Theor. Phys., 44:771-781, 2005.

Royal Swedish Academy of Science “Neu trino Oscillations”. In: Scientific Background on the Nobel Prize in Physics, online, 2015.

Rescher, N. Process Philosophy. A survay of ba sic issues. University of Pittsburg Press, 2000.

Rodin, A. “Identity and categorification”. In: Philosophia Scientiæ, 11:27-65, 2007.

Rovelli, C. Reality Is Not What It Seems. Pen guin Random House, 2016.

Seibt, J. “Forms of emergent interaction in General Process Theory”. In: Synthese, 166:479-512, 2009.

Seibt, J. “Process Philosophy”. In: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (Ed)., 2018.

Stoljar, D. “Physicalism”. In: The Stanford En cyclopedia of Philosophy, Zalta, E. N. (ed)., 2017.

Umezawa, H. Advanced Field Theory. NY: American Institute of Physics, 1993.

Van Gulick, R. “Reduction, Emergence and Other Recent Options on the Mind/Body Problem: A Philosophic Overview”. In: Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8:9-10, 1-34, 2001.

Whitehead, A. N. An Enquiry into the Principles of Natural Knowledge. Cambridge: Cam bridge University Press, 1919.

Whitehead, A. N. Process and Reality. An Essay in Cosmology. Corrected edition by Griffith, D. R., Sherburne, D. W. NY: The Free Press Macmillan Publishing Co, 1978.

Whitehead, A. N. The Concept of Nature. 1st ed. 1920, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Zemach, E. “Four ontologies”. In: Journal of Philosophy, 23:231-247, 1970.




Como Citar

FERRARI, F. M. . Process-based entities are relational structures. From whitehead to structuralism. Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofia, Campinas, SP, v. 44, n. 1, p. 149–207, 2021. Disponível em: Acesso em: 27 set. 2022.