chapter  4
Opening totality
Pages 34

We have now considered how Bhaskar launches his dialecticisation of critical realism and his ‘critical realisation’ of dialectics. In terms of the MELD schema, these are essentially 2E moves based on negativity. Dialecticising critical realism by integrating absence and being, and ‘critically realising’ dialectic to produce a materialist conception of diffraction, both concern real determinate non-being in the world. In the process, however, both moves point beyond negativity to a third level of analysis, that of totality. Thus, to think of the spatio-temporal causality of human being (Chapter 2) is to think of the presence of the past in the present and the future, and of the relationship between identity and its outside. Similarly, to think of materialist diffraction of dialectic is to think (Chapter 3) of how fragmentation and fracturing are ultimately the relata of a structured, contradictory whole. Both involve thinking holistically about human being and social life. A conception of totality is thus implicit in the causal linking of seemingly discrete entities in a world where dialectical negativity prevails. 2E negativity in its various forms entails 3L totality, so, in terms of the MELD schema, we move from 1M perduring non-identity to 2E real negativity, and on to 3L open totality (this chapter), before moving (in the next) to 4D agency.