Archive for the ‘Epistemology’ Category

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Naming the Thing

April 1, 2010

 

When we endeavor to talk about a thing by assigning to it a word, what we are really summating are three different aspects of their existence as they are known to us.

The first is the idea of the named thing as something observed by our outer senses. The color, scent, feel, sound, and taste of a thing. When we use a word to name a thing, these things are certainly considered though they may vary in particular cases.

The next is the use of a thing so derived from its history in both our particular experience and universal experience. If we see a chair used as a chair we shall call it a chair if it is used for the similar purposes of a chair, even if its outward appearances are new to us. Furthermore we may mistake something for a chair if it looks like a chair to us and we may misuse it accordingly, but when another reveals to us the use they have for it, that too must be taken into consideration when naming the thing.

Lastly, when we name a thing we also take into consideration its connotation. This includes its relationship to us, its relationship to other things, and apparent similarities or disparities with other things. Chairs go with tables, and tables should have chairs around them. When we call a chair a chair we imply these things about it. Its connotations could be multiple and variant but they are certainly present and help us understand what a good table is, and what a good chair is.

The thing we are most certainly not talking about when we name a thing is what it actually is. We do not name something in order to know it at the core of its essence but rather to convey an idea. So when the philosophers say “you cannot talk about ‘it’ because you cannot know it” I disagree. We talk about it precisely because we don’t know it. We name a thing so as to bundle all our particular perceptions while considering other interpretations.

 If the truest nature of all things we apparent by logic or by the grace of your senses, we would have no use for naming things at all. For if all objects had a clear function then we could merely say “sit” and there would be only one true option for that command. Yet there are questions. From where or what reasons those questions come makes little difference to me, but it is clear that something is ambiguous. So let us not concentrate on knowing a thing as such, but rather how we know things at all.

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The Great Gig in the Sky

June 9, 2009

“I think its time we compiled a list of places that we shouldn’t go.” – Maximo Park.

So here I sit, listening to Pink Floyd and Jazz music. I mindlessly go from thought to thought, and occasionally write. Yet as each thought rises from my mind it becomes too vague to exist outside me, and it dissipates. To grasp at it, is to destroy it outright, to let it go, is to let it drift away into the abyss of the physical world. I am here again, at the point I always come to, the point of reflecting on the mirror’s surface, the knowledge of knowledge, the knowledge of self.

In the name of unquenchable desire for knowledge many realms of thought have been explored and perhaps invented using this vague ancient defense as validation. Yet, as we focus our telescopes on the sky and trail our microscopes across strange alien fungi, we forget where knowledge comes from, to where it goes, and why we desire it to begin with.

We desire knowledge because we desire things like us – we desire ourselves. This is why we cherish such qualities as freedom and equality – the ability to make one’s self and to make others be like you. The greatest scientific discoveries in the world have always been immediately followed with questions that escape the realm of science. Until recently, this was a shame to even scientists.

Yet, this post is not an attack on science (like most of my others), it is instead an attack on everything – perhaps out of some metaphysical angst that must manifest itself as anger in order to make my feeble flawed soul feel empowered like some ancient Greek warrior. But none the less, I lash out violently at the entirety of my generation, in the process scourging myself.

How oft I failed to stop and understand my own argumentation. How oft have I walked the tight-rope between logic and emotion claiming clemency from either attack on the basis of its counter point. I am, after all, a lingual illusionist. The David Blaine of philosophers. The Criss Angel of poetics. Have I garnered anything but applause from my audience, who seeing the trick are convinced of magic, yet go home knowing that it can’t be true – despite any emotional response.

Just like everyone else when I finally settle back upon myself I cannot put a finger on where I am. (Anyone who tells you differently is one of two things. A liar, or an idiot). Yet, like most people I still claim a ‘selfhood’ to which I am obligated to be ‘genuine’. The tension between these two ideas gives the birth of such beautiful concepts as freedom, free will, and choice. I am concrete that changes. The result is the amazing ability to stroke the passions regardless of logic, and then collapse back into a world of 1+1 justifications. Proof. Poof.

The greatest pleasures arise from this tension and furthermore by this tension is magnified like an echo chamber. This equality of opposites within our souls allows the passions to win just often enough to make us miss it when its gone. Then in its victorious return it is all the more glorious. Furthermore, I am not entirely sure that this is a necessarily bad thing, but rather a misdirected good. Part of me wants to embrace this passionate side and perfect its music – while another part, the equality of reason, demands I embrace something “higher” – an emotion that is not without its own pleasure.

The result of continued friction and tension is, of course, orgasm. The release of the self in favor of one or the other. In the release there is always simultaneous guilt and pleasure, immortality and death, love and hate. The person is either truest or most false in the midst of this orgasm wherein the ‘pure’ form of the two sides is most dominant. But in so doing, in so stepping into purity, we have betrayed the things that got us there – the tension of two opposites. So have we become more pure by dissolving one side in favor of the other – or have we become less human because we have too much clarity. Perhaps we add this to the list of places we shouldn’t go. Perhaps we draw a map and mark it with an x. Perhaps we just sit here and listen to The Great Gig in the Sky.

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Midnight Contemplations

April 17, 2009

Why do we waste our time talking about a ‘perfect world’ when such a thing cannot be imagined?

I have grown so tired of theories that attempt to remove complexity, remove contradiction, and by doing so, remove humanity.

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Heresy

March 23, 2009

Time, as a formal structure does not exist. So let us first set out by understand future and past without relation to time. We first become aware of our present – that which we experience currently. As those current experiences vanish we arrive at some understanding of the past. Using this understanding of the past we come to understand that our current present will eventually be past and hence we talk about what will eventually be present (and then past) as future.

Hence Future is: All that has not happened yet that will.

Past is: All that was that is no longer.

It is important to realize that the future then, by definition, doesn’t exist. EVER. ANYWHERE. TO ANYONE. Hence, even God doesn’t know future.

Likewise, past too no longer exists – though it clearly has an effect on the present and in that way its indent exists.

All that exists is the present. This present is under the pressure of past causes and our ability to perceive the future. Just because the future doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that jumping off a cliff won’t necessarily leave dismember at the bottom – it merely means that the dismemberment will exist in the present and the present alone.

So much is evident from experience alone. Then why when confronted by the idea of God do we throw out this easily understood observation. Why do we thrust future into the realm of his “all-knowing” when it causes clear contradictions and confusion around our everyday experience. The answer is prophecy.

The only problem with prophecy is that it only ever happens in the future. If I tell you that I will give you five dollars tomorrow – then I do – have I committed an act of prophecy? No, because it was in my power to do that. Now make me infinitely powerful and infinitely good – any promise I make will be made (because I am all good) and I will be able to keep it (because I am all powerful) and hence any promise is as good as true but does not become true until acted out in the present.

Why is this a big deal? Because Christian Theology is losing – or has lost. It is detached from its Christian root and fails to pass the vigor of modern philosophy. Science has become the new idol in its place and in light of all its trouble it still fails to make sense of common experiences like time. Why? Because they hang on to an aspect of God that is not as it seems. God cannot know that which doesn’t exist – hence he cannot know what will happen (from His, or our perspective). Instead they convulute things by hiding behind his omnipresence as a product of his all-powerfulness. To say God is everywhere throughout time makes no sense to any laymen or philosopher and hence only a scant few theologians can ever agree on its precise being.

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Three Years Coming

February 18, 2009

I get it. I finally get it.

Bauerian philosophy is not one of deconstruction but one of understanding. It is an observation, as such, based on all forms of understanding (reasoning, sense data, common sense, and finally faith). It is not, as he glibly puts it to new initiates, that our senses are tricking us or that there is an illusion involved but rather that there is complexity and contradiction.

All our senses are composed of a duality – the stimuli coming from outside us and the internalization as such. Our eyes, for instance, take in light (external) and then feed electrons to our brain making us perceive color (internal) when indeed the world outside the eye is dark, colorless, and void.

The same goes with hearing, smell, taste, and touch. The ways in which we understand things outside us are different than their internalized form. (This is nothing new). However this cannot be considered a proof for an illusory world because this existence only holds water when an externalized force brings us these confusions. Because there is contradiction then we know both sides must be equally existent because we get the proof of one’s error from the other’s understanding. If held in contradiction in this way then neither can be said to be untrue for the only thing that subverts their existence is the existence of another thing so intimately attached the first that without one there can be no other…

I think…

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The Wisdom of the One Percent

January 26, 2009

Disclaimer: This post contains RAGE – if taken seriously or personally then you should not read. The only people this is aimed at in any personal way are Richard Dawkins and Jerry Farwell. Also, please note, I may be one of the 99% – but I still think this needs to be said even if it is contradictory to the premise of the post. I hope you appreciate the irony.

So much could be learned about the metaphysical nature of the universe, its inhabitants, and its causes if 99% of Atheist and 99% of Theists just shut up and went about their lives while the rest of us talked like civilized people about the matter. Too often the 99% of each side are so busy arguing with each other that they fail to listen to the wisdom of the one percent. Even worse is that both sides use such unsophisticated, assumptive, incomplete, and trite arguments that so easily become a caricature of their beliefs in the eyes of the other side.

Some facts to set straight:

Reason cannot know itself and hence is insufficient for understanding the universe on its own.

There ARE contradiction in the Bible. There are, however, contradiction in our everyday life. This is not a sign of non-existence but merely a complication.

The problem of evil is not a problem for any sophisticated mind. Even if God allows evil this makes us only further question his “all-goodness” not his existence.

Disproving one presumed quality of God does not disprove his existence. It instead should drive one to study more.

No argumentation is complete – leave room for change.

Humans cannot know the truest meaning of being and hence nobody is going to prove anything exists or doesn’t.

If you are not interested in changing your mind DON’T go about changing others. Discussion is a tool not a weapon. Likewise, if you already have answers for a question then don’t ask it just to piss people off. Atheist can be saved and there are many Theists smarter than Richard Dawkins.

Lastly, if you are under the age of 35 or do not have a doctorate in Philosophy, Theology, Science, AND Psychology then don’t pretend to be an expert. Stop lifting arguments from actual thinkers and re-arranging them for your convenience. Nothing pisses me off more than a 21 year old who thinks they have everything figured out.

Religion is complicated and complex – if you don’t believe this you are wrong. This is the same fundamental problem for both sets of the 99%. God is difficult, complex, hidden, and probably nothing like we imagine. Aristotle and Plato had a concept of such without at all succumbing to a religion (or science as we know it).  If such a being doesn’t exist it isn’t going to be due to some good \ evil paradox or some logical fallacy. If it doesn’t exist, it simply doesn’t exist and there can be no proof that a hidden God doesn’t exist, it is merely felt and understood. Thus the one percent of Atheists. Atheism should be complex if it aims to be at all serious. People like Dawkins do a great disservice to modern atheists by being their most vocal thinker when indeed Sartre and Nietzsche still hold much more convincing problems.

Any other type of atheism will ultimately be a chosen ignorance based solely on rational propaganda – a chosen way of belief that, for no other reason except the force of their will, has excepted principles that they then deem, again according to their will, to be inconsistent with theism. So long as an Atheist realizes this, I have no problem with the movement; it is much like fundamentalist Christianity. It is when either of these forces pretends to be an authority on the topic of metaphysical being that I become slightly agitated. Stop proselytizing each other, shut the hell up, and let the one percent of genuinely curious metaphysicians duke it out in meaningful conversations rather than pre-arranged diatribe.

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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.