Saturday, August 2, 2014

Distinction: Incapacity of Action vs. Incapacity of Becoming

There is a difference between incapacity of action and incapacity of becoming. I have said that incapacity may be juxtaposed with unworthiness, where incapacity refers to action; unworthiness, to being. But incapacity itself may refer either to being or action.

Incapacity of action is more easily illustrated. For example, a plant is in its being incapable of flying like a bird or breathing through water like a fish. It would be absurd to press the point that a plant is at a disadvantage compared to the fish because of this incapacity in its very nature although the point is true. The disadvantage, of course, exists only when comparing the plant with something else that, in its being, may do something.

Incapacity of becoming is related to incapacity of action since both stem from the very nature of a particular being. A plant cannot become, for example, an internal combustion engine. Such a transformation transcends the nature of the plant, and in a certain sense would be a reversion of nature from something vital and organic to something non-living and mechanic. Because of this limitation of the nature of the plant, we shouldn't therefore expect a plant to do anything other than what a plant does, which can be any number of things. Likewise, we shouldn't look to an internal combustion engine to photosynthesize.

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