Enowning as an “Intra-Action”

“The notion of intra-action is a key element of my agential realist framework. The neologism “intra-action” signifies the mutual constitution of entangled agencies. That is, in contrast to the usual “interaction,” which assumes that there are separate individual agencies that precede their interaction, the notion of intra-action recognizes that distinct agencies do not precede, but rather emerge through, their intra-action. It is important to note that the “distinct” agencies are only distinct in a relational, not an absolute, sense, that is, agencies are only distinct in relation to their mutual entanglement; they don’t exist as individual elements.”

Barad, Karen (2007-06-20). Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Kindle Locations 789-792). Duke University Press. Kindle Edition.


While it can be dangerous to jump to ontological conclusions from any scientific perspective since those perspectives are always themselves based on a (usually) not well clarified ontology of their own, Barad is cognizant enough of that difficulty to at least make her ideas worth looking at.  Her notion of intra-action as a key implication of quantum entanglement is interesting in terms of M/s and the idea of enowning that I’ve put forward in earlier posts.

The notion of what ‘makes’ a Master a Master and conversely a slave a slave itself arises for me in the event of enowning, an entangled shared event which simultaneously enowns each to the other and out of which both are what they retroactively always already were.  We ‘are’ what we become, since we determine the effective past (the past perfect) that determines who we become, and thereby who we already have been. 

In dialectical terms the ‘actual’ series of events is not the determinative one, since any event not remembered or regained in some manner is gone.  The past that determines who we are in the present is that which we retain as in a sense still present, the past for which we use the past perfect tense; not the past that was but that which has been.  Since we determine this from out of entangled intra-actions what we ‘are’, in our case Master and slave, we determined as the past from out of a co-event that ‘made’ us such, and did so retroactively, in such a manner that we always ‘had been’ only as a potential actualized in that event. 

As such neither Master nor slave pre-existed the event, although we certainly were in the sense of being precisely who and what we were.  As distinct, determinate agencies in a specific situation of enowning we didn’t pre-exist the event of enowning which brought that situation about, and so we were not Master and slave as such.  The intra-action of enowning – the simultaneous leap into enowning/enownment is an ontological event, and a unique one – ‘The Event’ as such, for any shared being-with that comes about as such through the event.  We are as enowned perpetually in the leap.

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