Tag Archives: ontology

Processes and noumenalisation

1.
Earth formed not long after the sun formed. But was does “forming” mean?

It is a process not so much deliberate as accidental. The conditions for conducive the weak forces of material mass brought about a lumping together that can only be called planetary formation. This accidental formation then is a process.

In the early 2000s a man named Steve Jobs invented a device (or a better one at least. Others too were working on similar a product) that could make phone calls, replace your diary and notebook, connect to the internet and not require a keyboard but on a multi-touch sensitive screen. Again, what do we mean by “invent”?

It is, in this case, a process not so much as accidental but deliberate. The conditions were also conducive of putting ideas together to invent the iPhone. This deliberate inventing is also a process.

Whether we talk about planet or iPhones they are things. The forming and inventing are processes that cannot be said to exist as thing but as processes of things.

2.
The word processes, in plural form, hints at the limits of language. To make processes a thing is not only to nominalise but also to noumenalise it. The act of giving a concept a signifier is to nominalise. The act of giving the sign (signifier-concept unit) quality of substance – that is to become a thing – is to noumenalise. Similar acts can be and are done regularly to qualities.

There are two problems. Firstly, the process of noumenalisation is so pervasive that almost goes unnoticed. And secondly, it leads to the perception that there is more than what actually exists.

And it is with this second problem that comes about the unbridgeable gap between ontology and metaphysics.

Body and soul

For as long as religion has been with us the soul and how it relates to the body has been central to human life and understanding. Let me stress this again – human life.

While some will argue that we are different to (the catch-all-term) animals it is suspicious that it is a binary between human and animals. We consider ourselves special, different, privileged. What makes us different is the soul. Animals have none. Animals do not sin. Animals do not go to hell (but always to heaven). Puzzling.

Animals have body and “spirit”. Humans have body and soul. Let us not forget things are animate or inanimate. Someone found it hard to make the word humanate.

So we can give animals souls … if we want but then brings about the problem (already pointed out) of sin. What is a soul good for if there is no sin?

So if we go back to the original problem of what exists then we can say this – we have body. Making soul disappear difficult because we must make sin and god(s) disappear as well. They will not let us because in the end they are grandnarratives.

The surprising part is, I do not want them to disappear also. Not for the reasons of belief in them, but because this is what humans to do best. The human mind creates religions, science, philosophies, literature and art to help us understand or to make sense of the world. But more often than not it confuses the hell out of us. “Theology is anthropology,” wrote Feuerbach in 1841, 40 years before Nietzsche wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra the work most associated with eh idea of “God is dead”. Specifically, he was looking at Christianity. Indeed, religion (and philosophy) should not escape analysis.

Does X exist?

1.
I have never physically been to France.

I have read a lot about it. Many things have occurred there. I have met French people. I have friends who have been there. But I have no direct evidence of the existence of France other than the things I read, hear, the maps I see, the people I meet. As far as I am concerned the existence of France could be a conspiracy of the entire world for my benefit.

But why would the world conspire to make me believe its existence? For what reason? Sure, I can go and check. It isn’t that hard. The “French” I have met, if they are not French, surely came from somewhere else. Perhaps they are a people of compulsion to lie collectively. Why?

2.
It doesn’t need to be France. It could be some other place. There are many places I have not been to. But I can go there and check. Korea, for example, is a short plane’s ride. Finances and time willing I can go (it is within my means).

The act of checking and the the ease of such checks surely tells us about the nature of reality and the nature of secondary sources. I have no reason not to believe someone that they come from France, or have been to France. Many a time I have experienced something they have not. Pretty much my life before I came to Japan is a mystery to my children and wife. I tell them about it. They believe it. There is no good reason to lie about it. It is mundane as mundane can be.

3.
The question of God’s existence is a little different.

No amount of wanting to check will bring me to God. God is not anywhere (though it is claimed God is everywhere). I cannot find God except with in thought and name. That is not to deny God’s existence, but rather to say what I know of God.

I know God as thoughts and name as much as I know France as thoughts and name. While I can check France’s existence I cannot check for God’s. Fundamentally France and God are different. One is a concept of a place. The other is a concept of a concept. I’ll let you decide which is which.

But still we talk of God as much as we talk of France, if not more. No amount of talk will allow me to go check of God’s existence. Buying a plane ticket will.

4.
If I want to see God I am told go to a church. But when I get to the church I do not see God but only a church. If I want to know about God I am told go read the Bible. But when I read the Bible I do not know God but only the Bible.

5.
This is true of all other religions, philosophies, sciences. There is a difference between first-hand knowledge (experience) and second-hand knowledge (reading, hearsay). Check for yourself when possible. Be weary of indirect sources. Do not confuse the two.

Things are individuated. The p=q is not a truth. Categorically, this can be true. Realistically, p is p and q is q.

On Anaxagoras

All things were together; then came Mind and set them in order.
(Anaxagoras, 500~428BCE)

1.
While Anaxagoras is considered the first Western philosopher to place mind above matter, this quote should also be noted that it suggests that matter came first before mind.

I wholly agree that matter comes first. I also agree that there is no “order” to matter but only that it exists. It is the mind (with a little ‘m’) that organises, categorises matter into any order. In other words, order, organisation and categorisation are processes of a mind.

The question of whether mind exists without matter is the primary concern of philosophers, East and West, now and then. Doubt it will be ever resolved. One can only hold positions by reasoning. Given Evidence A I draw Conclusion B. It is all too easy to reject A and not reach B. It is harder to give reason to reject A, for which this should be the task of philosophers.

2.
I am puzzled at the purpose of matter if mind is sufficient without matter. Perhaps this is a strange way to put it.

I have seen evidence of matter surviving mind, but not mind surviving matter. The argument against this is to shut down sensation and perception, ignore the sensory evidence, belittle perception. I have also talked about The Coma as again evidence for a case against mind over matter. Again, a mind without a reality has nothing to function upon. That is enough evidence against prioritising mind over matter. We would be far happier if we are to accept matter over mind as a starting point, scientifically, philosophically and spiritually.

Sleep, time, reality

“Those who step into the same river have different waters flowing ever upon them.” (Heraclitus, in Freeman, 25)

Heraclitus observing the world accepted change as the its fundamental nature. Often Heraclitus is paraphrased as everything is in flux. Time is seemingly a fundamental part of observed material reality. It can be observed to pass at a constant rate. This, of course, is all  but sense observation. But nonetheless, we function on, coordinate, avoid accidents, play games of tennis with our shared understanding of time. And we have no other choice but observe time with the senses.

Think of coma patients. For day, months, perhaps even years they are in a locked-in state of non-awareness of the “outside” sensed world. The shock comes when they come out of their comatose state feeling something only like a single night’s sleep. For them, time had stood still.

Our daily slumber also feels like this. The time between closing your eyes to sleep and waking up is but an instant in your mind.

This, to me, is sufficient evidence of the nature of time and its relationship to reality. Every night is a miniature coma.

Innate ideas

Think about the innate idea of the iPhone. If we take innate ideas on face value, then the innate idea of the iPhone should have existed during Plato’s lifetime (or eternally according to the theory).

If this is true, then why didn’t we have the iPhone then, or even mention of it somewhere? Clearly this is nonsense. Innate ideas do not exist. We only have things as they come into existence and then known when experienced.