What do ‘propositions’ do for research-creation? Truth and modality in Whitehead and Wittgenstein


  • David Ben Shannon




Research-creation is a way of researching socio-material processes as art practices. Scholars and artists pursuing research-creation often reference Whitehead’s conceptualisation of the ‘proposition’ as a key theoretical device for speculative and creative work. However, this scholarship perhaps downplays the truth/false distinction that is essential to Whitehead’s account of the proposition in favour of the proposition’s potential as a speculative tool. In this paper, I explore the proposition as conceptualized by Whitehead. I think with a series of music theory concepts to theorise how Whitehead’s proposition explores a modality of truth. I then discuss how the concept is taken up in research-creation. I frictionally bring together Whitehead’s articulation of the proposition with that of the early Wittgenstein’s. Finally, I discuss some promises and perils of this approach, with direct relevance to questions around research method and methodology in the social sciences. This article is of relevance to scholars interested in research applications of process philosophy, graduate or post-graduate students interested in an introduction to Whitehead, and research-creation practitioners interested in the proposition.






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