Category Archives: philosophy

I love Kant, the later Wittgenstein, Derrida, post structualism, postmodernism and the philosophy of language.

No essence

The more I dig the less evidence I find for essence of any sort. In short, all things have no essences. I am content with this.

The (social) medium is the message

The medium is the message. It always has been. It always will be. There is no escape from the medium.

Do we have free will?

Someone pointed out that we must ask the question “are we free?” first before we can even ask “do we have free will?” I agree. To be truly free would be to be able to flit in and out of material existence. We do not and can not. Secondly, the will is not independent of the body. It is always a decision of or motivation from the body. That is to say, we are not free to will, but we are only free to imagine being free to will.

Love is a verb … and a noun

Love. Love is a verb. Love is a doing word. […]

Teardrop by Massive Attack

The opening lyrics of Teardrop by Massive Attack points to the verbal quality of ‘love’. What we call lemma or headwords in linguistics brings together meaning under one heading.

(1) He loves her.

make ‘love’ a verb. And the sentence

(2) ‘His love for her.’

turns ‘love’ into a noun.

Let me point out here that love “begins life” as a noun and, in fact, is turned into a verb in an act I call shall verbalisation. Pat Benatar famously sang

(3) Love is a Battlefield.

Clearly is talk of love as a thing in this usage.

But we can talk of love as an action as in

We love you. We love you. We love you. We’re going to do whatever it take to make you love me.

We Love You! by Regurgitator

I am not saying anything unusual. We do this so often that we almost do not notice it … almost. But let us take ‘run’. Run, like love, is both a verb and noun. But run is used more as a verb than love is (even though the strong collocation for love is as a verb ‘I love you’). Easiest is to look at example usages.

(4) He runs six miles everyday.
(5) The dog ran away again.

For (4) is a clearly a verb. In (5) run is part of the phrasal verb run away. But in

(6) The run is tomorrow.

it is a noun. And unlike love as a noun it can be specified by a determiner. When we try with

(7) The love of a mother for her child is unparalleled in the universe.

we must specify much more clearly. That is, love is a universal and a thing. So when Massive Attack sings love is a verb they want to highlight the fact that we sometimes forget that it has a verbal form, just as I am highlighting the fact run also has a nominal form, and that these forms tell us something about conceptualisation, and language.

Love and run are nouns (and they are verbs). But they are not things. My point is, conceptualisation is a tricky business that requires serious and careful study. As a child I was taught a noun is a person, place or thing. Later I was retaught to add ‘idea’ to the list definition. Much time was spent believing love and run were things. Often I must remind myself that ideas are not things even though they can both be nouns. Just because ‘run’ in

(8) The run was fun.

is given the determiner ‘the’ it does not make it a thing as ‘the’ in

(9) The car is in the driveway.

specifies a thing. That is the difference.

Words are not things

Words are not things but semi-things. Their age matters not. The size of the fonts changes nothing of their meaning. And whether it is serif or san-serif will not make a single difference (apart from functional sustained legibility).

In other words, words have little to no properties. The font’s colour means nothing, unless it is an art t-shirt from that now-defunct Oxford Street shop in Sydney that read “blue” in red letters. Read the word out loud and the colour no longer has any meaning. This is word play in written form. The medium is the message as someone once said.

In Japan more people say the name King&Prince more than any other name right now (my daughter included). But nothing changes about the group. The group is still made up of six people no matter how many times one invokes the name. ‘Popularity’ means something else other than physical quantity. We may count the number of times in it is mentioned in the media or searched for on Google. Nothing changes the fact that they are ordinary people that bleed when pricked or cry when they are emotionally down.

My point is, words are not the same thing as the things or non-things they represent. Not only are they separate to the things/non-things they represent, their characteristics (if they can be characteristics at all) are different as well.

Freedom?

What does it mean when we say “we are free to do anything we want”?

It means we are deluded into thinking we are isolated individuals outside of an interconnect world. Everything I do affects everything else around me, so long as I related to it in some way.

So the question is is there any thing, space or time from which we are not related to all else? Experience tells me no. Some may argue that freedom is in the mind. But if the mind is located in the body, in the brain, then it is itself a relational operation. There is no thing which operates outside of things, space and time. Every action has real consequences. To think that even your thoughts do not have consequences is to be sorely mistaken. For although they do not have immediate “outer” consequences they have “inner” ones. They affect the body that thinks. To think is in itself an action.

Time and events

I remember 9/11.

But I don’t remember it as 9/11 but 9/12. I was in Sydney that day. Woke up to the images on the screen, my mother was staring in disbelief. Not much can silence my mother but this did.

Yes, I am a somewhat intelligent guy (been to university, even did postgraduate studies), but I still think of it as 9/12. I do this because it says something about time and our perception of it, especially in this day and age where real-time means I see 9/11 in 9/12.

Philosophically, that is important or not trivial to me. If this event had occurred before my birth or outside of my awareness of it I would learn and remember it as 9/11, that is, I would not pair the event with my time and place.

20210107 is another event I would remember as thus. The day American democracy was no longer such. That for years to come they will spend time repairing what had occurred in the four up until that moment. That the next administration will have a fight on their hands with something that was covert but now open. The ugly side of America has been exposed.

There is a beautiful side to America, to its values and culture. That, I will never forget. Those who stormed Capitol Hill are not representative — thankfully — of the majority as this last election has pointed out. But rather, America has a lot of soul searching to do for decades to come. And this comes from someone who does not believe in a soul.