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.

Space

Imagine pure space without a single object in it. Not even you, the observer, but nonetheless for some reason you are still able to “observe” this space.

In what way can you differentiate one dimensionless point in this space to another dimensionless point? By what means can you understand the distance these two dimensionless points? How do you discover the size of this space? Or else does this space have a size at all? And how do you differentiate between a point and space, when there is no way to differentiate between the two?

Democritus and Leucippus called this void, but only when compared or contrasted to atoms. In other words, void is defined by the things, or the absence thereof, not by any positive means.

Parmenides found this troubling. For then void cannot be truly void. Nothing must be “something”. He drew the conclusion that all is one, and that change as observed in the world is an illusion.

Einstein described with the equation E=mc2 the world as mass, space, time, and energy. For any one of these elements to have a value would mean the entirety is zero, nothing or void. But nothing seems to have zero energy. Atoms brought to near zero Kelvin slows motion but can never stop it. Everything is in flux as Heraclitus had concluded. So space is energy, and not empty void as such.

Space is likely a thing, but because of its nature as a “homogenous” thing it cannot be observed directly but only by indirect means or inferred through the relationship of things.

Things, space, time, reality

There are things.

There is no other way to express the first encounter with the world. It may be that this is not the first encounter as such. Perhaps the first encounter is with nothing. But we can never know that. To suggest that nothing can be encountered is counterintuitive and illogical. I too must have been nothing. Nothing cannot be there, for that there would have to be no place. 

This world then must be there at the moment of its encounter. What the thing that is encountered matters not for now, only that there is a separation between there and not there. 

Space is inferred by the relationship of things.

I cannot make contact with space. It is there only from the sensing of things. Eventually, I will make contact with other things. And space will be inferred from this. 

Time is inferred from the change in the relationship of things.

Like space I cannot directly know it. I know time by things and space. The movement of things is the measure of time. I cannot be sure time exists other than from knowing it through things and space. 

Reality is the entirety of things, space, and time.

All that can be known is derived from reality.

From the relationship of things

Space cannot be known without things. I know what space is from the relationship of things.

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and the last mind

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is the latin title of Wittgenstein’s first and only work published within his lifetime.  It translates roughly to A Treatise on Logic and Philosophy.

The stance then is that of logic.

I do not agree that logic is the best place to start. Logic, to me, seems to be an activity of the mind. And the mind is physical object take performs such processes. To me, place to start is ontology and then epistemology.

Someone commented in a previous post that it is ironic that one must use logic to even start to ask ontological and epistemological questions. I agree. And that tells us something about the inescapability of the act of thinking in order to get to the understanding. Logic, in other words, is a physical act. Logic cannot occur without the availability of the body or mind. This extends to knowledge (the epistemological act) as well. Logic and knowledge do not exist without a mind perform these acts. When the last mind extinguishes form this world so too does logic and knowledge. What continues to remain is the physical world, the reality. And logic and knowledge will restart when another mind comes into (for lack of a better word) being.

Monism, dualism or pluralism?

Is it 1) mind only; 2) matter only; 3) both mind and matter; 4) more than just mind and matter; or 5) neither mind nor matter?

If it is the mind then all matter needs the mind. If it is matter then all things needs matter. If it is mind and matter then all things need both mind and matter. If it it is more than mind and matter then all things need mind, matter and the unknown things. If it is neither mind nor matter then all things need some unknown thing.

The world can be explained with what we have, namely the mind and matter. But the matter seems not to need the mind to exist. Death is a prime example of the matter continuing after the mind disappears. Whether the mind and/or some other unknown exists or disappears only matter exists. The only conclusion we can draw is it is monism, and it is matter only.

Physicalism

I believe everything is physical. I also believe that the physical is a priori. So I believe what are commonly called the mind, self and soul also derive from the physical and physical processes.

There are things. And there is space. Space is also seemingly a singular thing. These are the physical things. The physical processes is time or the measure of it.

Everyday and at every moment, I reaffirm this and see it as a kind of mysticism.

Be, being, becoming

I don’t like the to in to be or to with any other infinitive for that matter. It entails movement when the infinitive indicates anything but movement or change. I am or it is are to indicate a state that in reality does not exist.

Being is to indicate a state over time. So this is closer to what is true of the reality.

Becoming is what is what we always do. But that too is an illusion. Becoming is what we perceive when the reality “sees” none. Becoming is therefore a value.

The Philosophy of Tennis

1.
When we play tennis not only we are interacting with the reality, we are assuming that the reality will behave in a certain way. I doubt I will get very far by just contemplating the nature of the ball, the court surface, or the springiness of the string gut. But rather by interacting with the reality, I prove my understanding of it.

Knowing the limitation of my movement, my opponent’s, the way the ball behaves against the racket strings and court surface, the way the ball travels through the air with spin, I try to defeat my opponent. My performance is proof of this understanding.

2.
In some ways Donald Trump’s actions are also proof of his understanding of the world. He uses it to “deceive” not only others but himself as well. I do not mean he is a bad person, but that is doing what we as humans do best – to achieve the most with what we have. So know ing what to do as a human, a cat, a religion is really proof. To me, this is a kind of (my kind of) objectivity.