"Understanding relations" by Leo Diaz (University of Melbourne)

18. June 2024

Tuesday, 18 June
11 am to 1 pm in 3A (3rd floor of NIG, D side)

Understanding relations

Leo Diaz

(they/them), University of Melbourne

We use relations as markers of identity. A relation indeed lets us characterise, and thus identify, those objects it connects with reference to some property. Equality, identity, similarity, equivalence, and other kinds of valence relations can then be used to relate heterogeneous objects, a move that puts different kinds of objects on the same footing and that can thus help us understand some of these objects (say, some we know little about) with reference to some others (perhaps some we know more about). While this kind of formal understanding is easily justified in a mathematical context, what does this sorting and ordering of disparate objects do when the mathematical logic bleeds into the natural world and is used to organise it? One way to go about exploring potential answers is to experiment with different notions of relations and notice how changing relations also changes our understanding. This view implicitly takes relations to be mathematical tools (as they are) that can be updated, de- and re-constructed. I will use this perspective on relations to revisit some of my past and current work, and to connect ideas for current and future work, both in the mathematical biology and epistemology spaces.