My metaphysics is relational, as any idealist metaphysics should be. But how does one know that relations are real and not just figments of the mind?
My best answer is that relations have as much rationale to exist as anything else, and probably more. The only thing counting against them is their intangibility in the regard of the materialists.
If numbers can exist then certainly relations can. Where would physics be without its mathematical superstructure? What would it be without its virtual interactions, and what are those if not relational?
Is the past real? If it is, it is only in relation to some actual present.
Very few are the materialists or physicalists who would wish to deny causality, as David Hume famously did in the eighteenth century. Yet what is causality if it is not relational? True that causes are generally taken to be physical, but they do not consist of particles or fields per se, but rather a particular relation between different sets of circumstances or events. The collision of an asteroid with the earth caused the dinosaurs to become extinct, within the sub-narrative of naturalism. The two events are thusly related, and so they both become part of a larger causal/relational system.
If science is teaching us anything about the world it is the almost unlimited functional intricacy and interdependency of its parts, particularly as studied in the life sciences. Ecological science is specifically devoted to studying such relational systems. You can remove an entity from its ecological niche, but your understanding of it will be severely impoverished without understanding its relational context.
Come to think of it, there is no such thing as an isolated fact. Facts come in open collections. There is always the possibility that some new fact will totally change our understanding of all the others. A set of words can be put together as gibberish, or as the Gettysburg Address.
The isolated object, fact or word mean virtually nothing without regard to its relations. Put more strongly, unitary existence is virtually inconceivable.
In such manner does our increasing knowledge of the world logically confront us with a relational metaphysic. The singular and necessary existence of the Best Possible World is only at a slight remove from these considerations.
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