A METAPHYSICAL ZONE
We should accept the experimental nature of our prototype; we can push the design as far as our theories will allow, since whatever we produce may be tested by others. Our position within electracy is not unlike that of Plato in literacy, if only in the sense of what we are attempting to do (and not what we have achieved). Plato is credited with being the first person in the Western tradition to isolate and work purely within a conceptual discourse (he invented Philosophy). The first concept to be treated in this fully abstract way is "justice," and in a dialogue such as THE REPUBLIC Plato discusses what justice "is"--asks after its essence, its inner nature, its being--as opposed to dramatizing its dispersed qualities in a series of narrative actions, as the tragedians were still doing, not to mention the status of such a thought in the oral epics.
When we isolate the Miami River as a zone, we are raising it to the status of an idea, or even of a category. As the Greeks assimilated literacy, the term eidos evolved from its original usage in Homer--"what one sees," "appearance," "shape"--to the abstract forms ("suprasensible reality, eternal, beyond the merely sensible") (Peters, 46-47). In Plato's metaphysics (his theory of what there is in the world, what is real) a set of eide evolved--the Good, the Beautiful, the One. At first there seemed to be an eidos for each class of things (ethical eide, mathematical eide). Then a hierarchy emerged, with certain final forms (Aristotle called them "categories") that did not mix among themselves, such as Existence, the Same, the Different, Rest, Motion (49).
What we are doing is generating an electrate mode of reasoning by means of an extended analogy with literacy. The Miami River has a "shape" that is an electrate eidos. In the same way that a concept is a general notion that embraces all the attributes common to the individual members making up a given class, so a zone (an electrate concept) embraces those entities found within its shape or boundaries. Obviously a concept and a zone reflect different metaphysics. In fact, since "metaphysics" is historically a product of literacy, including everything to do with the epistemology of questioning what something "is," it is inaccurate to say that a zone has a metaphysics. Still, a zone operates categorically, and we are learning how to reason zonally by extension from Western metaphysics. It is not a criticism of our zone to say it is "still" metaphysical, since that is saying little more than that we are using it as a classification system. Or rather, the epistemology authorizing our consultations is a syncretism, partly literate, partly oral, drawing the modes of knowledge of the previous conflicting apparatuses (literacy and orality) into a new syncretic modality.
On the side of Western expertise, we are able to think about the Miami River by means of a concept such as Justice, including its evolution over several...