Archive for November, 2007


Even more…

November 28, 2007

What is it to question well? Or, to rephrase, what is the goal of questioning? its end? It’s telos? Or, specifically, what is the purpose of this question, or this series of questions? Can one question well or poorly, are all question equal?

Do we expect answers? always? Of what kind? Are all questions, in other terms, merely premeditated answers? Are they expressions of doubt, or desires for knowledge? Are they the end product of wonderment, or the angry children of self-validation? Are they the brave manifestation of curiosity, or the cowardly attempt to undermine everything?  

Is there such a thing as a neutral question? Aren’t all questions pointed, shaped, phrased specifically to lead you to answer a certain way? Are ‘how do we ask questions’ and ‘why do we ask questions’ different questions? Are we the only beings which questions? If so, what causes this? If not, then who else? Is there such a thing as a rhetorical question? Is there such a thing as a non-rhetorical question?

What is education? The ability to answer questions? Or the ability to ask them? OR, the ability to ask them well? … or to summarize… what is it to question well?


Some more….

November 26, 2007

Can someone know they know nothing? Perhaps.

Can someone know someone else knows nothing? Absolutely not.

Is it possible to know something is not true? Perhaps.

Is it possible to know something is true? Perhaps not.

If we cannot know something is true, then we cannot know someone else knows nothing.

Yet, don’t we do this all the time? 


More ….

November 20, 2007

What does ‘be yourself’ mean in a world were ‘to be’ means changing?



November 19, 2007

If you can’t judge a book by its cover, then why do books have covers?


Part II – Poetmadman: Trogolodyte or Spelunker?

November 9, 2007

Subtitle: The Light at the end of Cave 

The assumption of the poet mad man, inherent in poetic rather then the philosophic half, is the necessity to externalize thoughts. It is incumbent upon the poet mad man to pass along what he has learned. This assumption is grounded in a Western tradition traveling back to Plato but equally as grounded in Western tradition is the opposite assumption: that there is no reason, nor possibility, of external salvation. To put it a different way, you can’t teach philosophy, you can only inspire someone to learn philosophy.

The assumption that philosophy is necessary internal comes from our attachment of love to wisdom (philo-sophia). If philosophy is truly a love of wisdom then how can somebody make someone love something else – they cannot – the person must choose to love then act accordingly. This also explains why philosophy is barely traditional. Aristotle is nothing like Plato (despite initial appearances) – Descartes is not like Hume, is not like Kant who is not like Nietzsche, and so on. In short, it can even be questioned whether these people are even DOING the same thing. Are they even looking for the same ANSWERS? Are they even asking the same questions? This is because all people love in a different way, and despite the desires of the teacher, the student will always love differently. Hence, philosophy cannot be passed externally.

In the grand scheme of things this isn’t all that important until the 21rst century. With the advent of ideology comes the possibility of actually MAKING someone love something – depending on your definition of love – but needless to say they would die for it,  which is at least as much as Socrates did in the name of Philosophy. Also in the 21rst century comes the questioning of philosophy itself – and whether it is even love at all – and not just another discipline like math and science. Philosophy, without love, is hollow and meaningless – which causes a vast distrust in philosophy and an ensuing emptiness easily filled by nationalism and ideology. So it seems that if you cannot MAKE someone study philosophy then they will be more apt to fall into the grotesque shadows of philosophy known as ideology.

Where does the rubber meet the road and what does this have to do with the poet mad man? The assumption we have laid out claims that the poet mad man has some duty to bridge this gap between the perceivable world and the abstract world. This is the philosophic aspect – but isn’t it burdensome enough to ask a person to do that for himself without then adding another man’s weight to his back? Thus comes the poetic aspect – the literary manifestation of thought – tracks made in ink to point the way. Simply speaking, it is not enough to save yourself, you must return to hell to drag the others out – perhaps even against their will.

This sort of duty, though suggested by the ancients (especially Plato), is made dogmatic in Christianity, which, whether you like it or not, forms 1800 years of our philosophic thought, and effects the following 200 greatly. The idea of human as an image of God helps kick of the same enlightenment which will eventually dethrone God and insert man on His throne. Whether you believe or not, this massive effect contributes to the environment we grow up in.

 The poet mad man, being in touch with the abstract word so clearly, and having himself been a product of a leap of faith over reason, must be a pious man (note here: pious). There is more to discuss here, too much for this entry, but suffice it to say that he is in contact with another world, the world of the forms, the world of thoughts and ideas, and the shadows of things. His job is to play with these forms and combine these forms in a way to make reality make sense. The poet mad man, rather than doubt because he questions, questions because he doubts.

Thus, most important of all, is the telos (end) of the poet mad man. Is it to instill philosophy into others? Is it to instill poetics in others? Is it the job of the poet mad man to make more poet mad men until a revolution takes over the globe? It is none of these. The poet mad man’s telos is to create wonderment, it is to open the curtains to the other world for a mere second, and then slam it shut. The poet mad man wants others to question, he wants them to doubt, but most of all he wants them to do it for a reason. Too often modern philosophy ends with questions and doubts – perhaps wisely so – but the poet mad man above all wants the questions and doubts to go somewhere, do something, for the good of the human race, and perhaps above all it is the futility of this process which drives him to madness.

Hence it is the job of the poet mad man to create wonder within a person, which by itself is neither philosophy nor poetry, but the building block of human imagination. The same imagination that is responsible for creation and questioning. It is the fulfillment of wonder that makes us love wisdom, and it is the creation of wonder that makes us love poetry, but wonder itself is the fuel for mathematics, science, history, politics, and religion. Behind every passion there is wonderment – and it is the poet mad man’s job above all to generate wonder the most appropriate way.

However, this leads to the pinnacle question of the poet mad man. Is it easier to produce wonderment when you are ignorant or when you are wise? Perhaps this is where the poet mad man separates himself from strict philosopher. The philosopher will exit the cave first, taste the sunshine, and return to bring his friends from out of their chains. The poet mad man may never leave the cave, and instead use the shadows on the wall to do his teachings, subvert from the inside out. The poet mad man will wait for all men to exit the cave before he finds it satisfactory for himself to exit, and this above all is what drives him mad. To dedicate one’s life to creating wonderment yet never being able to fulfill it yourself, while those around you, because of you, do just that. This is the destiny of the poet mad man… perhaps. 


The Nature of the Poet\Madman (part I)

November 2, 2007

subtitle: On the inherent need of insanity for ‘salvation’ (pardon this use in term… it is meant to be devoid of religious connotation, but clearly maintains it.) or On the salvific nature of madness

 On a previous post I eluded to the poet madman and the partnership between poetry and philosophy and its subsequent madness. Thanks to some questions from 1Poet4Man, I feel more prepared to elucidate.

Madness – the state of being in which the internal understanding of the universe does not match the perceivable universe. This madness cannot be cognized or uncognized and can be considered madness from external onlookers, but also within one’s own self. I feel this is necessary because typical definitions of madness imply an unawareness of this madness for the person who is mad. Though this is certainly the case sometimes, I would like to posit that understanding one’s own madness is next to godliness.

Poet – The person whose job it is, among all other artists, to put the perceivable world into words. Words being an inherently mental (abstract) image. Hence it is the poet’s job to convert concrete physical existence into abstract understandable ideas – or to be gluttonously platonic – to reduce the object to its form. (this is way the poet has such tools as metaphor, symbolism, simile, and imagery). Not only is it his job to bridge this gap between the perceivable tangible world and the abstract conceivable world but he must do it without the use of logical discourse (hence why the poet writes in verse not prose – a deliberately short, swift, rhythm based method which emphasizes sound over meaning).

Philosophy – The art of loving wisdom in a friendly way – which, if I may say so, is like loving the most beautiful woman you’ve ever met as a friend. In other words… it doesn’t work like that. Sophia (wisdom) gives happiness, stability, understanding, and even humor – that’s right this girl has everything – and she is only going to be your friend. Sounds enough to drive a man batty, doesn’t it?

It takes very little education or understanding for the enlightened to realize that the physical reality is not all that it appears. The right questioning mind devoid of any training can see that something is fishy with the way in which we exist in the world. Sight, hearing, feeling, taste, and smell are constantly misinforming us – yet without them we know nothing. Enter radical doubt – an inherent movement in all philosophic journeys caused by the person sudden realization that the world is not as it seems. I repeat, thanks to Descartes, you cannot do philosophy without at some point addressing radical doubt – it can’t be done. It is the paradigm within which all philosophy must take place.

Equally as important as Descartes radical doubt is Anselm’s God. All philosophers must address Renaissance philosophy which means they are going to have to play Jacob and wrestle with God Himself. Thanks to Aquinas, Augustine, and Anselm this is inherently necessary to be a philosopher. No matter your conclusion on the matter you have to face a universe with a God. 

Even before Descartes, and even before Anselm, is Plato. This is where things get tough. The issue of causes needs to be addressed. What is the true cause of things? This is the question which underlies much of philosophy and it was of primary concern for the Greeks. Unfortunately because of Descartes and Anselm we are too busy worrying about metaphysics to ever even BEGIN to answer this central questions. Why? Because we are too busy worrying about our epistemology to discover our ontology. Hence we question our ability to know before we begin to question our knowledge. Hence complete madness.  

The poet madman is the next step in the philosophic quest. A poetic ontology must replace our understanding of the concrete universe. We must return to classical phenomenology while understanding the past 2000 years, and the only way to do that is to travel against modern science, against our flawed senses, and dive into a world of metaphor. This above all is a leap of faith not grounded in logic, reason, or sense. It cannot be, for those sick beasts have lead us too far in the opposite direction.

Hence the philosopher, whose job it is to discover the gap between the perceivable and the abstract must be a poet, who conveys this gap and bridges this gap, if he is to breath life back into philosophy. Yet such a job cannot be considered sane, cannot be considered normative, for he must be the master of the unmasterable in both emotion and reason and this may indeed cause him his mind.

 Yet since the core of this madness is philosophy – and philosophy above all things is love – this madness must be entered into by choice and with abandon. For nobody will follow a leader across the gap of life unless that person has a fervor which breeds confidence. The philosopher poet must wear madness like a divine mantle, a gift from God himself, that allows him to see through the usually persuasive objects of the universe and into the core of the forms which manifest themselves through those same objects.

Of course, all of this, is based on the rather humanists assumption that it is the philosopher \ poets job to help others come to the same realizations that he has come to – a duty to some transcendent good or truth outside and above him or the others – which is a question (thanks to Kant and Hume) that is unanswerable and hence should be ignored. Clearly the Platonist in me screams “Go back into the cave, and help others” but that might be an assumption on my behalf that is unfounded.

 Stay tuned for Part II – PoetmadMan – Troglodyte or Spelunker


Of the nature of Zombies (part I, an introduction)

November 1, 2007

“Brains…. brains….. brains….” – Zombie 

Desire comes before knowledge. Without desire, we would not know. Yet our desires will against our wills. We desire things we know are bad for us – hence knowledge leads toward knowing but often away from the known. Based on what grounds does desire will toward an object outside of OUR will? and how can such a seperation of OUR self and OUR desire take place? Why is it that we desire things against our will?

If we let our desires go unchecked – we are beasts. If we do not desire – we are stones. It is only when we desire and we check those desires that we are man – and this phenomena makes our lives a living hell.