Archive for December, 2008

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What I Know Part VI – Gettin’ Organizized

December 23, 2008

Organization, so far as I can tell, is the way of determining the order of things. “Good” organization or rather “properly functioning” organization would be good order. Yet such ethical implications are far from absolute knowledge at this point. By ‘good’ I must measure something important to me, and me alone, at the moment. ‘Good’ organization should provide ‘good’ order and ‘good’ order is determined by the level of relationship I can have with that thing. Organization then, so far as it can fit into the ontology I have developed, is related to relationship and the ordering therein.

My early understanding of things left out a very important possibility – the existence of indivisible wholes. A whole that is not parts but merely a whole is not a product of itself, its parts, and its organization – it is merely what it is since it has no parts to be organized. We can see that this is logically imperative because eventually a part can only be composed of itself – think of prime numbers, zero, and electrons. The existence of such structures adds a nuance to this entire unfolding philosophy.

So what then of organization in terms of my ‘self’? Organization is the principle that my internal relationships are said to exist in. It is the order and proportion of body, its parts, and the organization of those parts into the whole. Yet, this structure does not appear to fully embody my person. My arms being joined to the greater whole does not allow me to understand the main impetus for my being in the world – thought.

Once again we return to perception. I know my body through the perceptions that it appears within. I do not know it’s existence absolutely, like my mind, but rather through perceptions that can, and have been, easily manipulate, confused, and distorted. It, my body, does fall under the category of the organization layed forth for it has itself, parts, and a whole which comprises all parts but it still seems distant to me, confusing, and even foreign at  times – being in contradiction to my will.

So let us back away from the issue momentarily. A whole is either composed of parts or is a simple whole. Some parts are a whole that is composed of parts. Some parts are simply wholes. There is at least one whole that does not become a part of any greater whole – that whole can be titled truth, God, meaning, purpose, universe but for this collection of thoughts at this time, it will be called Being.

In the world of parts and wholes two extremes become evident. The universe at its base is composed of indivisible wholes that then become parts to form wholes that are composed of parts. Eventually all parts and wholes assemble what can be called being. Those parts and wholes could be finite or infinite, great number or simply one thing, but the key is that the world of Others appears to me this way.

Somewhere in this spectrum is me since I am not everything (my perception tells me this) and hence cannot be the one whole of Being, nor am I a simple whole (at least according to my perception) so I cannot be at the opposite end. Hence I am most likely composed of parts some of which might be wholes, and I also contribute to a greater Being (at this point merely defined as Self and Other).

The list of parts that is evident to me so far in this evaluation are: my body; its parts, its organization; my mind: perceptions, its thoughts, and the relationship between thoughts and perceptions: and my ‘self’ who is best described as the summation and interplay of my body and mind. This ‘self’ is mostly known through desires, fears, and certain urges that appear neither immediately rational nor bodily – the desire to name and categorize being one already discussed.

My body, like all other material objects that appear to exist around me, is a whole composed of parts with an organization. Organization on the other had has no parts to be organized but is rather a principle and is a whole within itself.

My mind also seems composed of many things and is not a simple whole. It, for instance, can doubt. Doubting is a sign that internal cohesiveness is not a simple unity but rather interplay of at least two parts (one which believes, and one which doubts). My mind also seems to be that which perceives, that which analyzes, and then that which either believes or doesn’t and then doubts those decisions. Already our understanding of the mind requires further explanation, but such will be set aside for later. For now it is important to note its many parts and what such a whole it is despite these parts.

Then there is this third thing that until this point has only be talked about loosely. It is imperative that I reiterate that I am not outlining a system of belief for everyone but rather for my ‘self’ – such a desire to write, to think, or to do this rather than that is the precise quality I am talking about. My ‘self’ is that which I consider me – opposed to the concept that I own my thoughts, own my body, but I AM me. This thing, as far as its composition, is elusive to say the best. It is the least doubtable because it is at least composed of my doubts – and therefore exists. Yet they are not me, they are MY doubts, and I can distance myself from them even contradict them and even, despite there persuasive powers, I can choose to believe regardless. Such an investigation, one that defines my ‘self’, I feel is impossible since I have no desire to ‘prove’ my ‘self’ to anyone I will merely continuing studying the phenomena that surround it.

So we return to this world: Being is relationship between (at least) Self and Other in terms of my existence. As a self I am fairly aware that I have a mind that thinks, perceives, analyzes, believes (or not), and finally doubts those beliefs. I also have a body. This body seems to impose upon me a list of needs; it also appears to affect my thoughts, perceptions, analysis, and beliefs. Though it is still doubtable that such an object actually exists – it still certainly persists in the illusion. These two parts (which appeared to part of me) seem to relate to the point where they affect each other. They too also seem to be composed of parts that affect them. This relationship between parts and wholes seems to resonate throughout the entire universe in everything I think or I think I see. So much so that even Being can said to be a relationship of Self and Other. The above thoughts I consider impossible to doubt for they all generate from knowable preconditions AND find external confirmation AS WELL as remain internally consistent to this point. Such may not be your definition of doubt… but such is mine and like all philosophic quests into this region one must begin with certain axioms.

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What I Know Part V – Reason and Relation

December 16, 2008

It is said previously that I know I am in relation to the Other. While I do know this it becomes trickier to then understand exactly what this relationship ‘is’. What sort of other things does this relationship imply. Since my being is clearly one that is meant to understand this relationship without cause or reason it can be said that I am a being of relationship, it is closer to my nature than even those principles by which I discern my existence – thus explaining the difficulty I have fully comprehending exactly what this mode of being entails.

It would seem, according to everything presented thus far in my study of what I know, that things are different when in relation. When, for instance, several strands of cloth are in relation in the proper way they form clothes. Each part cannot be said to be a shirt, yet the shirt cannot said to be anything more than a sum of strands. Yet if those strands were in a different order they might be pants or anything else. So, as it seems, one affect of relationship is a change in being (or at least in usefulness according to me – which to me in this frame of mind changes its being since all things are said to exist only because they affect me).

A more pernicious way of saying this would be to say “the sum is more than its parts” or “organization determines existence” – but that clearly appears to be the case. I know this most importantly because of the difference between a dead human and an alive human. Blunt and pure perception tells me that there is no real difference in material but rather a difference in organization of that material in a dead body. Yet I know, perhaps more than many others things I know, that a dead body is not an alive body and they do very different things. (the nature of this metamorphosis is yet undetermined, but will be relevant)

Thus each thing, outside of the smallest particle of existence, is at the least a combination of three things: itself, its parts, and its organization. After all that is all that differs between a chair and a table, water and ice, and dead humans and alive humans. Yet, many of those I am in relation to deny this premise and rather say “there is no REAL difference between a chair and table so long as I choose to sit on a table and eat of the chair”. These are the people who do not believe that organization makes something what it is. I often wonder what they think a dead person is… perhaps if they sat on or ate off him they would know.

I know, in conclusion, that all things are composed of two material parts and one immaterial aspect called ‘organization’. From the differences in organization (which are perceivable) I feel an urge to categorize and then name these things differently. Those names matter little. Yet it is imperative that I tell you that I feel an urge to name them – I want to do it – it appears natural.

I then know that I am two material things and one immaterial aspect, which coincides with my earlier feelings about myself. My body is mine and it has parts but I am also an immaterial aspect that I call ‘me’. Thus we arrive at a new horizon and a new problem. Am I, as it turns out, just a product of my organization?

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What I Know Part IV – Restatement

December 11, 2008

Thus again I return to the subject of relationship. I know through relationship. They affect me and therefor must be ‘real’ is some way. Whether they are illusion, dreams, fictions, or merely misunderstandings matters very little because they affect me. I know they are outside me, they affect me, and they operate outside my will on occasions.

I also know that I am in relationship with myself. I know my conciousness absolutely, I know my body partially, and I know those things outside me only via the external relation above. Though I know my conciousness absolutely and my body only paritally I do know the affect my body has on my conciousness absolutely. Such affects as hunger, exhaustion, thirst, and pain are totally real. There causal relation to my body is suspect but they seem to be connected and they are definetly real. Thus even as I relate to the things around me I also relate to myself. This ontology of relationship cannot be understated if we are to progress.

The primary mode of my understanding is conciousness but it can only truely know itself. My secondary mode of understanding is not logic (as some have proposed) but relationship. The ability for things to affect my conciousness that are outside of my conciousness or my will is absolutely knowable and is a sign that there are things outside of me that can nevertheless relate to me. These affects are also absolutely knowable for they alter all other things I perceive and think.

It isn’t until the third mode of understanding that things move from an absolute frame to a subjective frame. This is the introduction of reason as a mode of understanding. Reason, in so much as it is part of my absolute conciousness has always been naturally with me since the beginning and as such is a clear tool for understanding – though it can still be doubted.

Thus the construction of the world I know must start within myself, then through my relationship with others, and finally what we arrive at must be rationally coherent but no completely reasonable (if that makes sense). Since reason is my third mode of understanding and of the three so far presented the only doubtable one it must be subject to the first two modes.

Thus our next conceivable step is to apply relationship to logical understanding and to see wherein we arrive.

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What I know – Part III – I Am Not Whole

December 8, 2008

There are two types of knowing. (I know myself absolutely because I am inside myself. I know the Other through perception, among other things, and this seems to be more disconnected. These two types of knowledge account for one hundred percent of my reality.)

Two different types of knowledge means two different worlds. (The fact that I know these two things in different ways means they are ontologically different for some reason. In this case I will draw the line at mind and body; for even my body is part of this Other in so much everything I know about my body is through the senses. However the ‘body’ aspect also extends to all bodies outside my mind that present themselves to my mind.)

There is a separation between the body I associate with me, and other bodies. I am closer to my own body and know it more than other bodies though they share the same concealed nature.

Despite these different types of knowledge my mind constantly wants to associate my body with it. Likewise it also wants to associate my surroundings with it. (The natural impetus to recoil from fright, or to laugh when tickled, or to move out of the way of a speeding train. All of these things our mind demands out of its association with the body and association with bodies outside my body.)

Thus when I say ‘me’ what I mean is two things. I mean primarily my mind but in so much as I am my mind I cannot doubt that my body (which gives the appearance of being attached to my mind) must also be part of me. Even if it is a fiction, an illusion, or a deception its affects on my mind must be weighed and measured as a ‘thing’ for all intents and purposes. Thus, we come to a mind \ body separation all too familiar.

Yet there is a third thing which arises necessarily from these two things. I cannot fathom, and therefore cannot postulate, being myself without having a body. I pretend to, but in reality I do not know. Likewise I cannot imagine being in a body and not feeling the contradiction that my mind imposes about reality as it appears and reality as it is. Though I see bodies all the time that do not posses this knowledge of contradiction (seemingly) and I find no mind in a dead body, yet see no reason why immaterial things would cease to be. Thus I arrive at a threefold me. I am a mind (soul), I am a body, and I am a combination of the two. Sometimes I feel more me in the mind, sometimes in the body (even if it is an illusion), and lastly sometimes I feel the most me when these things are in union.

Disclaimer: The argument of thought as a process does not enter into this debate. It is important that the project I am undergoing be untainted by spiritual, scientific, or philosophic dispositions. Since we are starting from foundations of experience and knowledge I cannot apply such a concept at the moment for it is truly a mystery to me even in the fullness of mind to think that thinking could be a mere process occurring from completely dead matter. It’s possible, like all things, but asserting it at this point of the argument would serve no purpose of investigation other than to support an already established world-view rather than achieve a new understanding.

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What I know – Part II – Mortality and Morality

December 6, 2008

A restatement of the last point: “When a living thing becomes a non-living thing it is noticed by my ‘self’ as an ontologically different relationship.”

There cannot be a doubt that relationships must exist (in some way) and that those relationships are with objects which appear categorically different (living, non-living, etc.) and even more so separated into smaller categories (human, animal, plant). It cannot be doubted that the Other presents itself to me in this way and furthermore my ‘self’ responds to this ‘Other’ in relation.

Thus as a living being becomes a non-living being (so much as I can tell) the relationship changes. The corresponding change in relationship is measured by an emotional response that is as inherent in the nature of my ‘self’ as much so as logic is inherent in my ‘self’.

The closer the something is to resembling my ‘self’ the greater the relationship is more likely to be. The greater the relationship the greater the disconnect when it ceases. This is true even before death when those which resemble my selfhood are removed for long periods of time. This I know to be true even if my contact with them was illusory to begin with. Even if their actual being is imaginary or otherwise not as it truly is in reality – I still feel this relationship and it’s disconnect.

Thus, relationship is the foundation for my understanding of the world presented to me, not the world as it actually is. Though part of the world as it is must include its nature to either conceal or reveal itself to me. As such, each thing as it is presented to me reveals something about the world is one of two ways. Either it reveals itself to me, or it conceals its truth from me, but the medium of this deception or revelation must be considered a sign of its true being since of any number of deceptions one form presents itself to me in one particular way.

In our case that medium is sense most immediately. This is the most immediately obvious way of which the Other contacts us and is the foundation of relationship. If sense is illusory or otherwise deceiving then so is relationship but this only goes to explain our condition not refute it. Our being, whether foolish or wise in doing so, accepts sense as immediately real. This phenomenon is either a product of illusion and thus our being is closer to relationships than to truth (if such can exist, but that is another question) or it is things as they are so sense and hence relationship is inherent to the true nature of things.

In either form as we judge and guide our life we must do so in this premise for it is how the world appears to us undoubtedly whether or not the actual world beyond its appearance is so. Hence from this understanding of changing relationships we can undoubtedly formulate a system of ethics, a morality, a way of living a life – hence culture, language, and even laws arrive from this ontology even if the world beyond the Other as it presents itself is not actually as the Other is presenting it to us.

Thus it is either natural for me to have ethics or it is a natural phenomenon of my way of being in the world (even if that world deceives me). Our ethics thus arrive from relationship and sense but much like relationship and sense they arrive under scrutiny for reason and other phenomena within me do not simply accept this ethic, these senses, or even these relationships. The Other comes through our senses, we know this without doubt, but such an investigation as the one I am doing would not be necessary if such a relationship was purely real. Thus, because of my ability to question, I know my ‘self’ as outlined is not completely understood. I have complications. From contradiction I can undoubtedly assert yet an additional aspect of my ‘self’ – it is not merely a whole.

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What I know – Part I – Epistemological Basis.

December 3, 2008

I exist. (you’ll have to trust me on this one)

Something outside me exists. (I know this because even as things happen around me, they happen out of my control. These things are not necessarily as they appear, nor do they necessarily have any ‘being’ attached to them, but they do assert themselves somehow rather forcefully onto my perception.)

The things outside me interact with me somehow. (Despite their truest nature the things around me impose upon me feelings that are more controlled by their presence than by my mind which is a sign that they are not of me but rather outside me and interacting with me. Often these feelings can be ignored, processed, or even overcome but that such feats must be performed in order to subvert these inputs is a sign of their existence outside me.)

Relationship exists as an ontology. (Being in relation to other things is a way of being in the world. Specifically it is my way of being in the world. It says something rather important about each thing now called the self and the other. By some power within each they can expand, confront, or relate to others.)

The Other seems broken into separate others. (Not everything outside of me has the same effect or relation to me)

Of the others there are some more like me, less like me, and not like me at all. Within my power I have the ability to recognize this and define these things by giving names to them. Not only does this seem natural but important. (Of the others around me some seem to have will while others seem inactive. Some make noises while others do not. This of course is our inward most understanding of life outside of us.)

There is life outside of us. Though our understanding of it is not the same as its understanding of itself. (Of the others there is a class that seems to interact with the others in similar ways as me. The things I notice about myself as embodied seem to also be true about them. To this class of thing we give the term ‘life’ as either a determinate class or as a class with various levels.)

Of the living things there are those more like me than others and some that I can even communicate with. (There are others that seem to speak in the same language that I use in my head, or can relate to me using the images in my head, or that can affect my emotions because they understand the same emotion. To these living things I give the name family, tribe, or even human in general.)

Through the shared experience with these others I come to understand them as selves that stand outside me. (They seem to share what I experience so intimately while simultaneously so differently that I cannot doubt they too have what is inside me and hence I understand them as a self as I do my ‘self’.)

Relationship between my ‘self’ and a living being is fundamentally different when it is a relationship between my ‘self’ and a non-living thing. (As much as I can perceive my relation to a desk is different than another living thing, is different than another human.)

Thus when a living thing becomes a non-living thing it is noticed by my ‘self’ as an ontologically different relationship. (When I am near a corpse I eventually come to learn that its being, so much as to say that which presents itself to me through my senses as the ‘other’, is different without changing its material.)