Relationship – Advanced

Each Defined by Other Two
Elementsrelationships and proximities are woven together. In a sense, each is defined by the other two, and all three relate to situations. Taking each in turn: Elements are defined by their relationships in the proximity of a situation. Relationships are any kind of association or connection between elements in the proximity of a situation. The proximity consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways.

Each Can Be Each Other
An odd and useful characteristic of elementsrelationships and proximities is that they can each be each other. We might call it a kind of equivalence. You can consider a proximity to be an element and also a relationship. You can consider an element to be a proximity and also a relationship. You can consider a relationship to be a proximity and also an element. Perhaps the oddest one is a relationship being a proximity. An example of this equivalence property being useful is the value of substituting one for another, allowing you to group/ungroup (a ProxPattern) and also perhaps consider different points of view (ProxSets).

The concepts of relating, and relationship, involve difference. Put another way, differences are essential to relatedness. How? If two elements are related, it must make some sense to think of them as two elements, rather than as just one element. And how do you know there are two separate elements? By how they are different. By what differentiates them. Often, the relationship even helps define the two elements in some ways, so the relationship creates and reinforces those differences. So, we don’t get relationship without difference. Put another way, we often understand relationships through differences. Also, since elements can also be considered as sets of relationships, we often understand elements through differences.

Think about the idea of shades of gray. It’s useful in helping us remember that subtle distinctions, or differences, are possible. (There’s the idea of differences again.) From shades of gray, we can move to the idea of a dimension, with black on one end, white on the other, and shades of gray in between. A dimension is like a line, but we think more about points along it, rather than the line itself. In the same way, most relationships can be thought of along dimensions. Aspects of the relationship fall along a dimension of relatedness, with more in one direction, less in the other. There are usually not definite endpoints in one direction or the other along a dimension.

Relationships and Proximity
We can consider how relationships and proximity co-create each other (since we can’t know which comes first). Relationships make proximity possible. A proximity is created by one or more relationships. A proximity does not exist without one or more relationships. Proximity creates the conditions for relationships.