Thanks to Burl for including this link in a comment on this blog:
Watch on YouTube.
It’s an interesting take on energy here: energy being just a relationship between entities. So heat is the motion of particles, but what is this “motion” other than the fact that the relations between the particles changes in a lawlike way? The alternative might be that the heat is what makes the particles do this. This dispute seems to me very much like that about gravity: is gravity a force acting on things, or just a characterization of certain behaviors?
The ambiguity above makes me doubt that matters are as simple as the video would have us believe. In what sense is matter equivalent to energy? Well, operationally, in that you can convert one to the other. So that’s one kind of theoretical claim, and the one about energy being a relation is another kind of theoretical claim. Both are maps of related phenomena, but if one is (to analogize) a topographic map and the other is a road map, then you can’t necessarily just connect them in one deductive string and conclude that matter is ultimately just relations.
A further step would be required to establish that a “process” is also just “relations.” Process seems like a nicer word for this purpose because a relation syntactically involves at least two THINGS that are related. Truly, though, all of our experience of processes involves things being in process, and why we would count, in a given circumstance, the thing or the process as primary depends, I think, on why we need to know: if the things are more or less interchangeable, then it’s the process that’s important, and if the process is more or less just a function of the things being there and put under certain conditions, then the things are more important. Abstracting all of this from actual processes to say that process itself is metaphysically basic seems just as bad to me as abstracting from all experience to say that the things, considered apart from anything they might do, are metaphysically basic. The two go together as far as I can imagine.
It’s a leap beyond this to equate process and teleology, i.e. goal, as you’d have to do if you want to equate Whitehead and Pirsig.
…But all this is just first impressions of this on my part, awaiting a future and currently not scheduled episode for me to have time to read and think much more about this.