David Kolb

Aristotelian Spatial Hypertext

Philosophers often discuss the difference between theories that describe space as absolute (for example, Newton) or as relational (for example, Leibniz). Node and link hypertext creates a relational space, while most spatial hypertext either works with an absolute (background or container) space or combines this with Leibnizian link networks. There is, however, the third sort of space, which we might call Aristotelian, which is polarized and oriented. Tinderbox can be pushed into exemplifying this sort of spatial hypertext, and we might imagine applications that do so more completely. Some medieval philosophers defined material things as having “parts outside of parts,” as opposed to immaterial or intellectual entities whose parts are not spatially distinct. The animality and the rationality in a human being are not spatially separated. The metaphors and the rhythm of a poem are not spatially separated. But the parts of an automobile engine, the halves of a clamshell, the houses in a suburb, stand outside one another. Space provides a field of externality for where-is relations among items that need not have any more intimate connection than next-to. Space offers dimensions for movement and location. It seems serenely indifferent to what orderings and classifying we make within it.

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