Tag Archives: theory

Differance and the metaphysics of presence

A is a because it is not b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, or z.

B is b because it is not a, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, or z.

C is c because it is not a, b, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, or z.

And so on until z.

A does not have an inherent meaning, only meaning because it differs to the other symbols.  And by not having an inherent meaning it defers meaning. This is what Derrida had meant by differance. The choice of a different letter but identical pronunciation was to highlight differing, deferring and difference. The implication is that nothing has meaning present unto itself, only meaning via absence. He terms the mistake to think otherwise metaphysics to presence.

Type and token things

There are things. Let us call each thing a token. Let us begin with the smallest unit – the atom.

There are unfathomable, countless multitude of atoms in the universe. Yet, as we look at each atom carefully we see similarities and differences between them. Let us call one a and another b. a and b are dissimilar, in fact, so dissimilar that we will continue to call them a and b.

We look at another atom but this one is similar to a and different to b. So maybe we shall call it a1. After a while we have a whole bunch of grouped together. Here, they can be called A to represent all of the tokens called a. This big A we shall call type that which is a general representation of all tokens.

This A, of course, does not exist in the world, only as a classification or categorisation within the mind of the thinker. It is a concept that becomes a thing by virtue of being the actual letter A. It is in the sign that we mistake it for being real. The concept until being turned into a sign had no reality other than being a process within the mind/brain. The sign makes it “materialise” so to speak.

Furthermore, the person who speaks has not seen all the tokens of a but generalises this to all the a. A is thus a “rough estimate” of any a mentioned. Even if we are talking about a specific instance of a we cannot help but be drawn into the estimation that is A.

This is the quality of language that is continually (dis)missed, in all language use, ordinary, philosophical, or otherwise.

Linguistic efficiency

Chomsky believed there were innate ideas when it came to language. But cannot the patterns (deep structures) of language explained by the limitations of probable choice and the tendency towards linguistic efficiency, rather than some kind of pre-determined given?

In some ways this is what Chomsky is saying. But somehow there is a gap between his understanding of the physical reality and the reality of his language.

Language is a physical property and should be treated as such, not as some mystery akin to religions and gods.

Heraclitus and time

The natural state of the world is flux. No matter what we do time marches on. It is one directional. Time’s arrow.

While it is nice to call time (Mr Parmenides) an illusion the static state of ideas is not that same as reality.

Or that things must come from the perfect ideas like “forms” is nice too (Mr Plato) but perfection and is something of seemingly of the mind, and not to be found anywhere in the world except for in the mind, or brain as it were.

No, universals were the creation of the mind, not the other way around.

Everything is in flux. And everything makes sense (has meaning) only as relative to all else. This includes God of which Man needs to define himself*.


*no apology here to Man since pretty much he is to blame.

Our place in the universe is here and now

What is so special about human beings? Are the only beings that think we are special ourselves?

For 13 billion years the universe has done just fine without us. The universe does fine with us now. And the universe will do just fine without us again after our extinction.

Our knowledge and existence is simply insignificant within the larger picture of the reality. It is only with humility that we can truly live a full life. We must make significance and relevance for ourselves and others around us now, not elsewhere and not in the past or future.

Idealism, coffee grinders, movie magic

I clean my electric coffee grinder every time I grind beans. First I unplug it then I wipe it down. Then I wipe it dry with another cloth. I always unplug it. Even though there is little chance that I will trigger the grinder (it is sunk into the body) for safety reasons I will always unplug it lest I grind my fingers.

But if the reality does not conform to the way I see the world works then why I unplug the grinder. Without seeing the power I still know it is “there”. But how can I know it is there without being able to see it?

The truth is I do not know it is there. Only the fact that for the grinder to work it must be plugged into have the power for it to work. Unplug it and it will not work.

To put it another way it is only in horror movies that grinders “come to life”. In reality there is always an explanation including an explanation for movie magic (it is plugged in but you cannot see it).

The idealist project of that nothing exists outside of cognition of it serves no purpose for how we interact with reality other than the fact we use this knowledge to make interesting films.

Philosophical triangulation

1.
People ask how can the sensory representation of the physical world be relied upon. They ask how can I be sure that thing I see is there. The question is always framed through the visual sense.

Yet, all senses come into play.

The perceived thing visually will likely be accompanied by sound. If near enough I could probably touch and smell it. And if you are a baby you will likely want to lick (taste) it. In short, verification is never in a single sense dimension.

This kind of sensory triangulation is often forgotten. We do it so automatically that we take it for granted.

Yet the “what if the sun doesn’t rise tomorrow?” question should really be more precise like “what if the sun rises tomorrow and I don’t feel its heat?” The discrepancy between senses should trigger alarm bells.

It could be a dream perhaps. Or am I a man dreaming of being in a physical world, or a man in a physical world dreaming?

Silly question really.

For what elaborate reason would there be for creating this kind of The Matrix illusion?

Give me the red pill, please, and bring on the philosophical sentinels.

2.
The problem then with minds, souls, and spirits is that there is no triangulation other than hearsay. And when there is triangulation to the mind it is always through observation of a body-object.

There is no transference of The Matrix-like I-know-kung-fu data.

Nothing is there … or rather only a movie is there.

The imagination of the brain (not the mind) is what gives us The Matrix (literature and entertainment), Idealism (philosophy), the special theory of relativity (science), and God (religion).

Not only does the brain lead us to astray (as metaphors do), it also leads us sometimes back onto the right path (as metaphors do).