Let Them Eat Cake

 Poetry, Writing  Comments Off on Let Them Eat Cake
Feb 141993
 

Let them eat cake:
The common, coupling hordes;
We dine on honeyed bread:
Sweet and sustaining.

Let them babble of summer days,
and the latest vogue passion;
We commune through rain, sun, and fall,
Speaking of life, all.

Let them beg of their gods,
Cement their fragile union;
We are our lords and servants,
Self-blessed architects and masons of love.

Let the world of bitter weakness
Eat its tear-stained oaths;
We hold our quarrels straight
And find, through them, a stronger bond.

Let them write their perfect verse,
Measured and foot-weary as their love;
I show to you my heart undraped,
Its passions unfit for a mold.

Let them doubt with every stumble
The true peace of their dove;
You have stayed through all my doubt
And are my life, my dream, my love.

Oct 221992
 

A Linguistic Framework

Metaphysics is primarily concerned with the nature of being. Unfortunately, debate in metaphysics is often frustrated by the circular, imprecise semiotic handed down by ancient philosophers and their hope for obvious symmetry and coherence in the universe. Too frequently, strong minds chase one another around in circles during debate because they do not share identical meanings for critical words. For example, one person may argue with another for days in favor of the existence of God, only to find that the other person agrees with his observations of the world and the inference of a creator. The time was spent struggling with definition after definition: clarifying and equating (if possible) the body of connotation unconsciously tacked onto the people’s words.

Of all the disciplines in philosophy, metaphysics is the field most constrained by closed semiotics and insidious, ignorant tradition. Therefore, I have developed a system of space-time classification, a hierarchy of being which can serve as a framework for a linguistic reconstruction of sorts and perhaps streamline the web of meaning in which driven thinkers frequently are tangled.

All metaphysical systems must begin with certain fundaments which are often taken from science but usually go beyond the ostensive proofs offered by that diligent discipline. I resign myself to the immediate refutations which will be attempted by those who hold different fundaments than the few with which I must begin. To those, I can ask only that they hold their javelins to the close, when I will have completely circumnavigated the basic cycle of philosophy (as I call it) and have given them a niche in my theories.

The first assumption I make is that you exist. In writing or stating this assumption, two resultant meanings can be translated. The first is the fundament of Skepticism. The only means by which a wholly subjective metaphysics can be communicated is in the second person, because to explicate skepticism in the first person is incoherent. The reader, if attentive, should doubt the author’s existence, thereby doubly doubting its claim that it exists. Further, the writer hamstrings himself by writing long essays intended to be read by that which he believes to be illusory or in doubt. So the skeptics have now been served their first morsel; fitting as theirs are the most devastating claws. The second resultant meaning is that, for me (as writer/speaker), you exist; that is, have a real being in space-time. At the moment, I am not concerned with what composes that reality; I only assert that the (Aristotelian) efficient cause of my perception of you is localized and external to my being. From this assertion, my existence can be affirmed; in order to make a statement about you—whose existence I assume—I and my perceptions of you must exist. (This is a relief!) In a sense, this denies the posture that skeptical readers will be holding; to them I say that I exist as a phantasm of themselves whispering to them through these pages. They cannot deny their perception’s existence.

So, with one assumption, your existence, I have generated the existence of space-time—if only for you. Your perception is sequentialized into discrete instants—you did not read “you” after you read “exist” in my initial premise, “you” preceded “exist”. Further, you did not have an innate knowledge that the phrase “you exist” was eminent—it’s origin was external to that part of you which says “I”, your self. Thus, since the originator of the phrase “you exist” can not share the same location that your self can, there must be an intervening position, however infinitesimal. (Even if you assert that the originator and experiencer can share position, the medium of communication then becomes the ‘external’ element and still necessitates SOME concept of space.)

I now move to the aforementioned system of describing the various derivations of your space-time… for your convenience.

I am forced to begin with what may be a boring synopsis of basic geometry. I do this in order to describe the progression of dimensions in geometry. At zero dimensions (0D), the only describable thing is a point. It is raw location, nothing but some arbitrary site, a unity, a totality, a singular no-thing. The next progression, to one dimension (1D), describes a line and therefore points. In a seeming paradox, 1D is an infinite sum of densely packed nothing: points. A line is therefore nothing but an infinite, dense series of locations, or a range of locations. At two dimensions (2D), a plane is described, lines and points as well. A plane is the aggregate of a infinite number of lines, densely packed, side by side. Finally, Euclid leaves off with three dimensions (3D), which describes space. Space is an infinite number of dense parallel planes. With these three progressions, a pattern is evident. Integration of this recurring idea leads to the following: for a given dimension X,

a) where X <> 0D, X is composed of an infinite series of dense (X-1)D things;
b) where X is 0D, it is a spatial unit.

Thus far, this essay has endeavored to be descriptive of the abstract sub-dimensions of this space-time; this is in keeping with the descriptive nature of language. Henceforth, I will shift gears to a prescriptive analysis of being utilizing the above Observation A and a Principle of Harmony. As electrons orbit their gravid obsession; so does the earth, the sun; the Milky Way’s arms, the galactic core. As the balancing of an equation is to the balancing of a see-saw, as polarity of thought and language is to polarity of sub-atomics and ions: thus am I willing to assert that the abstract principle derived above can be applied to the concrete world of time and energy.

At four dimensions—the first temporal progression—I introduce reality to the hierarchy, for it is an inviolable fact that reality is “immersed” in time. Understand, however, that the reality from which I am writing is a human reality. In an absolute sense, beginning reality at 4D is a purely arbitrary decision. A 2D being would begin its reality at 2D, because that is the degree of being at which it exists. Yet I nonetheless must prove that humanity is real at 4D. To do so requires describing the nature of 4D.

The fourth dimension is a temporal unit or temporal instant, just as a point is a spatial unit. It, through Observation A, is composed of an infinite, dense series of 3D things. In other words, because 4D supervenes on 3D, it must have space inherent to its composition. In order to harmonize the idea of a dense infinite series of spaces composing each temporal instant, I am lead to believe that this density of space generates energy and subsequently, through the laws of quantum physics, matter.

At this point, I must introduce my final assertion. Because each event requires an efficient cause, there must be, at the core of being for humanity, a source of the causal energy which initiates a given person’s actions. I will not delve into the nature of this efficient cause in this work; I merely require its existence at the 4D level to proceed with the prescriptions of the higher abstract dimensions, or super-dimensions.

At any given instant, an individual has the option, basically, to act or not to act. The result of that decision defines the next temporal instant for that person. In that next instant, the action (or non-action which, because it shares efficient cause with action, is essentially the same) is propagated; action potentials in neurons flow, muscles contract, shaped sounds are uttered, another’s heart is broken. There was a cusp in the individual’s life, and one potential path was taken. Somehow, however, the causal connections must be made; Xeno defined this problem millennia ago. How, then, can a person’s efficient cause, or will, move from temporal instant to temporal instant? Fifth dimensionally.

Moving on to the fifth dimension simply requires another integration or unification through Observation A. 5D is composed of an infinite, dense series of temporal instants. This leads to the conclusion that a given thing’s reality is infinite, which is true, for energy is neither created nor destroyed, it simply changes form and location. You were once, in part, soil to nourish corn which fed your mother and so forth. The energy which composes your efficient cause is eternal. This does not necessarily mean that your mind is eternal, just the energy which forms it. Therefore, your will can be said to flow through the fifth dimension, receiving input and generating output at temporal instants (psychiatry tells us that this seems to occur about every quarter of a second). Whether or not this kernel of efficient cause is free or determined is, at the fifth dimension, irrelevant; the quality defined as free or determined is a 4D concern, for at the fifth dimension all time for a particular timeline is defined. In a sense, therefore, our being can be said to be “determined” 5D (which it must be) or 4D (which is arguable): this is one of the damning ambiguities of the language.

Keep in mind also that Observation A states that 5D is but one infinite, dense series of 4D. Remember that, as 4D, an individual retains a range of possibilities; only one emerges in the next instant. Thus, an integration to 5D is of a particular series of events for a thing, infinite in length. The possibilities of the past instants which were not chosen do not, however, cease to exist. They had to exist to maintain the causal stream at the time of choice; there is no reason to believe that they cease to be once not needed by a particular 5D. In fact, there is good cause to believe that they still exist -always exist- for, if one’s kernel was to be able flow into them, they must have an energetic reality and energy is neither created nor destroyed. Rather, they exist in the sixth dimension, the last temporal integration.

6D is the aggregate of all that is, has been, will be, could be. Though we meager men live our civilization in but one timeline, we have, at thousands of millions of instances, been a choice away from a different one. If you have a passion for alternate realities, in 6D do they exist. It is a dense, infinite series of temporal lines. This induction provides the arena for debate on subjects ranging from Universals to God.

The question then remains, can integration continue? Are there another three levels of being to be inferred?

Humanity must manage itself through cognition. Typically, a 5D segment is contemplated, or a number of similar 5D segments are compared, to provide some insight into the relative possibilities of different resultant 4Ds occurring in future instants. This is proven by behavioral psychology and mere introspection. For example, if you look to the sky one day and notice cirrus clouds forming, you consider your body of 5D causal “streams” within your consciousness 5D line of being concerning meteorology to induce that—most likely—it will rain later that afternoon or evening. So human cognition is of, at least, 5D things (or, more accurately, nearly-5D things, as no one can consider an infinite series; being constrained to 4d prevents us). Often, and certainly within this work, human cognition will grapple with 6D. Any quest for absolutes is, at least, a search for that which is inherent to the sixth degree of being. Yet, beyond the basest fundament of energy, not much that is integral to 6D in all of its permutations is accessible to human science. Merely assuming that energy pervades 6D is an induction, because true integration to 6D requires an infinite number of 5Ds to be complete; we have but one in which our consciousnesses flow. To even collect data on two 5Ds would be infeasible and approaching null possibility in the foreseeable future. Once again, the skeptics have their ignorant absolution.

The basic consequence of this strictly abstract, hind-sighted relationship to those dimensions supervening upon ours is that we can have little or no relationship with dimensions beyond our space-time, our 5D. Perhaps once we have elevated our beings, our subjective realities, to fifth dimensional things, we may concern ourselves with God’s gods.

So what good, you may be asking yourself, is this hierarchy? As I stated in the opening of this essay, I hope that this system of regularizing the various levels of abstraction and being, and deriving a consistent progression, will reduce—at the very least—the number of arguments about chaps going back in time and killing their grandfathers. One, using the above system, could respond to such seeming paradoxes by explaining that, if a person can exit his 5D line to reenter it at a past 4D (which would, I agree, still exist), it is then the case that the man’s arrival in his past changes the flow of 4Ds in that timeline, thereby taking his consciousness on a sidetrack into a wholly alternate 5D and never meeting his actual grandfather. Theological arguments are radically streamlined because this system realizes the fact that all deific ideas are 6D, for they grapple with absolutes, and are, therefore, unknowable now. The animist and the materialist can sit at the same table without offending their guests, because the animist Oversoul, or Logos, or spirit performs the same basic function as the materialist’ gravity and inertia and radiation. Both are 6D abstractions of the interrelatedness of observed 4D things and derived 5D segments. Determinists and free-willers can stop their bickering, for this system shows that the former is assuming that the kernel of will is determined and the free-willer is arguing that it is not. Neither have studied these kernels directly; neither are qualified to presume. More often though, and regrettably, their dispute is due to the determinist beginning with the 5D sense of determined and assuming instants share the same quality that their aggregate does, while the free-willer begins with the moment, which seems to be laden with choice. There is no grounds for argument when the opponents base their premises at different levels of being. In similar manner could I show the incompatibility of continuum (6D), linear (5D), and quantum (4D) time theories to be mere inequity of degrees of being from which the views begin their assertions. Finally, as should now be apparent, interrelating the basic precepts of various philosophies can be effected through this hierarchy.

Examples:
animism: a cosmology which recognizes, at least, the continuity of 5D;
paganism: a theology which departmentalizes 6D into a satisfyingly complex bureaucracy and then worships them;
monotheism: a theology which worships 6D;
atheism: disbelief that 6D can be compressed or integrated into a unity -OR- disbelief that 6D is intentional;
idealism: a cosmology which begins reality at 6D and whose proponents frequently place their realities at 6D as well….

I therefore offer to you an explication of your being. Essentially, it is merely a definitional matrix which clarifies the subtleties of time, its influence on language, and its apparent nature. The fact that little is asserted in this essay is, I feel, one of its strengths; it is intended, after all, as only a tool for seeking answers, not the answers themselves; it is a legend, not a map. It provides a clear starting point for any philosophical discourse or discussion, and finally, and most admirably, diffuses some of the more annoying paradoxes spawned by our linguistic legacy of ambivalence.

The Two Sides Of The Same Coin

 Philosophy, Writing  Comments Off on The Two Sides Of The Same Coin
Feb 271992
 

Throughout history, the rational, scientific perspective of the world has come into bitter conflict with the predominant theological or idealistic views of the time. Religious leaders have struggled to insure, under the shadows of doubt cast by empirical discoveries and ideas, the continued faith of their followers. Conversely, rational thinkers have striven to convince the masses of their new-found truths. Both sides of this classic struggle, however, have usually tended to miss the real failings behind their beliefs.

Religion, to begin with, invariably dictates to its followers an explanation, as Douglas Adams put it, of “life, the universe, and everything.” All, from Christianity to Zen Buddhism, try to explain man’s purpose in the grand scheme of things. In any given religion, be humanity bestial or divine in the religion’s eyes, some justification and guide for our lives are always given; holy writings, parables, or scriptures offer the religious their answers. Also, all try to explain the creation of the universe. Genesis, Ptah’s whim, the Earth Mother’s divine conception, Odin’s debauchery: all religions offer, for their followers, the “truth” concerning where everything began. Yet, there is ever the demand for faith. No religion stands alone on irrefutable proof of its views. All require the ubiquitous leap of faith to become a part of them. If one takes a Descartian epistemology (the accepted Western theory of knowledge), one concedes ignorance of matters one can not soundly explain. Subsequently, the religious can never know their truths, for they can never prove them.

This failing is the principle venue of attack taken by the rational philosophers (not to be confused with religious philosophers). Yet, the leaders of empiricism undertake the same task as theologians of the world. They try to offer alternative explanations, through logical proof, of the workings of the universe and man’s place in them. They scoff, hypocritically as will be shown, at the concept of faith. There is, however, an adamantine wall deterring them as well. There exists, as a constant frustration for philosophers, the infamous infinite regress. This idea, simply put, requires retrogressive proof of each thing which a person claims to know. The infinite regress demands continual, causal justification for every protocol statement. There are only two ways to stop a infinite regress. The first requires that a self-evident truth be reached during the regress. Yet, every self-evident truth can be doubted because, barring linguistic axioms (like, a triangle is a three-sided, three-angled polygon), every concept’s falsity can be imagined; and, therefore, every concept is conceivably variable. So, because humans can only be certain of their own instantaneous existence, their imaginations are the only power they can trust. Since this power can realize the falsity of every “truth,” this ‘self-evidency’ solution to the infinite regress is useless. In other words, if some philosopher claims discovery of a self-evident truth and another philosopher can imagine an instance, no matter how hypothetical, where the truth would be false (which can be done by someone in every case), then the “truth” is, in fact, corrigible and untrustworthy. The power of imagination is the only testing grounds, and an idea, failing truth there, can find it no where else. The only other solution philosophy offers is containment. Containment simply involves agreeing upon a place to stop in the regress for practical purposes. But finding the nature of the universe does not allow for convenient arrest. Therefore, philosophical inquiry ends with the same concept or acceptance as religious proof: faith.

Now, it is obvious that the empiricists and religious are actually different sides of the same coin. Both try to give answers concerning the nature of the cosmos; both turn to faith in the end; both damn the other. Though their conflict is deep-seeded, their results are the same. For some, faith is fine to which to concede; most, however, want to know. Why? Most seek some external truth. Why? As stated above, all that man can be certain of is himself. The religious and the philosophical should realize, then, that truth is relative. That belief which gives one man comfort is his religion, his philosophy. If it differs from another man’s beliefs, or another world’s beliefs, it is no more incorrect than its counterpart; neither, conclusively, can be proven. Essentially then, the conflict, the warring, the debate between the rational and the religious has been, and continues to be, wasted effort, except for the result of pushing forth scientific inquiry into the basic truths of the practical world. After all, how can the Pope say Martin Luther is wrong when His Eminence can not know what, ultimately, is right. All should simply realize their ignorance, find a belief (if they choose to believe anything at all), and be content in its security, without attacking another’s peace.

This subjectivist argument seems to lead to the result of noone being allowed to discuss “higher matters.” This riposte hinges upon an implied premise that all communication must be useful. Certainly, this seems true for matters of science, politics, resource management, and, in general, normative life. Must, however, metaphysical debate have a culmination, or, put differently, must it come to an end of concession by one side? To help answer this, I ask that you consider art. The truths of aesthetics are as slippery, if not more so, than those of metaphysics—hence the reason that aesthetics is a field of metaphysics. Noone would attempt to dictate another’s aesthetic reaction to a work of art. Yet, people discuss new art and new artists all the time; what do they hope to accomplish?

Nothing.

The discussion of art is done for the same end as the perception of it: pleasure. Thus, I believe that philosophy is done for the end of pleasure, and not raw truth. People discussing philosophy, like those discussing art, are merely expressing their faiths. The pleasure comes either from the equation of the people’s view, or from the mental exercise, the “brain-endorphine buzz,” generated by trying to defend one’s view or find inconsistencies in another’s.

Some may now dispute that people interested in art read art critics for the end of learning something; and in my metaphor, that philosophers write for the end of augmenting human knowledge, i.e. to accomplish something. This paralleling of philosopher to art critic is correct in my metaphor, but the interpretation of the job the critic does is false. The critic is there to provide his interpretation of his perception of the art for those who failed to experience it. True, many people look to critics for information, but this is really a laziness on the reader’s part; he assumes the critic’s opinion because everyone else says that the critic is good. So those who read philosophy to learn truth are really just too lazy to seek their own truth; likewise for religions (since they are but philosophies of one sort).

Once again, the only reason one should “do philosophy” is for the pleasure gained by the exercise, not to be told the truth.

Thus, rather than an expression of the real nature of the cosmos, philosphies or religions, rationalists or theists, are really just artforms.  They have their medium—the written word and debate—their audience, their artist. Far from a denegration of philosophical pursuit, I show that, because it lacks the solid grounding it would like to think it has, it is freed for expression. Every treatise on philosophy need not be written with rigorous logical babble—this is shown clearly by the profound, yet logically inconsistent and at time incoherent, writing of the existentialists. Their influence on the current of ideas in Western society in undeniable, yet their work, under the bobastic demands of most philosophers, is useless, incomprehensible.

Percy’s Rebuke

 Criticism, Writing  Comments Off on Percy’s Rebuke
Sep 271991
 

Author’s Note: The following essay is a fictional analysis of the recent Walker Percy novel Lancelot. Its aim is to present, in the first and second person, Percy’s thematic thrust by picking up where the novel ends: with the word “Yes,” the first spoken by Percy’s analog in the work.

Yes. Yes, I certainly do have something to tell you. For the past five days, I have patiently heard you, withstood your derision towards my faith, suffered your rationalizations of your crimes and sins, listened to your hopeless solution to this sad sphere’s plight—No! Do not interrupt me; you claimed two days ago that I was the only one with whom you could talk, and that my silence is the only conversation you can listen to. Well, Lance, your monologue, broken only by my infrequent prodding to keep your crippled discourse directed, was not conversation. No; now you will listen to me, you will receive my words and your silence is the only conversation I will tolerate.

Oh, now! Now who is pacing the room, staring out of the window? You would mock my “watered down” faith, you expect my vestment to be ceremony for my surrender. But I am not ‘acting’ today, Lance, and you know it. Christ may have lain down His sword, but He has not bound His hands. There is still a sense of human significance in Christianity; it needs nothing concrete and terrific to prove its importance—unlike yourself. Transcendence is the one distinguishing mark of human existence, and unfortunately you are incapable of such belief.

Silence! Do not dare to deny your triviality, you who would denigrate the human ideal to sweaty copulations; you have no sense of humanity’s magnitude! If you but knew how you fail your own standards of power and monochrome distinctions, you would kill—or should I say rape—and damn yourself. Silly man. To confuse orgasmic iterations of The Lord’s name with the transcendent and then turn around and reduce sexual intercourse to a mere rubbing of nerves defeats your own premise. Your illogic robs you of your own “rational” faith.

But what of that thin faith, that prayer to the holy orifice? Is that really all that is important to you, my child? What of the intellect, which you pretend to engage in yourself with your petty historical essays about a dead Southern ideal, which you attempt to marshal to make reasonable murder and rape? You would use your mind to explicate your base, physical profundity yet you do not see its necessary supervenience to the body to be able to reason so. You are a slave to the aesthetic who ignores the very faculty which delineates it: the mind, the ethical, rational, human mind. Yet, even more than this you fail. You also live your desperate life with no sense of the spiritual. You think you have found the answer with you perverse creed of rape as human purpose, but you fail to see that, by merely stating such an ethic, you need its cause, its fundament. These answers are only sought in despair—I should know—and are only attained through a blind leap of faith. But you have no legs to leap with, child; you are still crawling on your knees.

Yes, Lance, in your simple world, ruled by the almighty fuck, you drive yourself from moment to moment of forced allure, preaching a destitute profundity twisted by your obsession with evil. Look at me! Look here, in my eyes, not at my robes or the body they drape. This deification of sex and obsession with extrinsic evil has twisted your purpose of life to a destructive physical analogy: rape. Good God, Lance, even Anna knows better! You tried to elevate her as the New Woman simply because her mortal body was raped by villains such as yourself. But your Unholy Grail is not in this crass act; it is in the heart which cannot care enough about another human being to simply let them live. Anna’s rapists’ hearts, not their acts, are sin’s throne, just as your murdering, ignored heart is.

Oh. Oh, I forgot that you can do no evil because you are working for the New World. Yes, the ultimate justification for heinous deeds committed by a hopeless, shallow man: some ludicrous ideal framed by his base fundaments. This jihad you propose, it will have as victims of its righteous violence those of this world who plod through everyday life wasting their power, their gifts, on the trivial? Why do you have to think about it, Lance? Ah, you nod; you line these sheep up for slaughter by your sword. Well, then, join their ranks, mouse! Your whole New World Order hinges on simplicity, getting back to Man’s immature, wrathful basics, living for the moment you can ask your pretty beau if she needs a wrap… or a rape. Your ubermenschen must become kamikazes. You yourself have wasted time in this cell, destroyed your heritage, trodden every root of your being all because your wife—whom you professed to love, although now I know how thin this word’s definition is in your mind—all because your wife diddled some director! I’ve heard of triviality in action before, but you define it with what you have done or, more accurately, why you did it. You believe some apocalypse is pending, probably because of a suggestion in your mind which you acquired from those ridiculous movie people. Well, you are right; an impending doom does loom… over your own head.

You think that you will be leaving here today. I have something else to tell you, Lance. As the reviewing psychiatrist in your case, I have no choice but to deny your release from this facility.

What!? Oh, surely you are not that surprised, surely your humanity is not so buried in your delusions that you cannot see why they are detrimental to the rest of society!? You are unscrupulous, Lance. The void where your heart should be is not a pitiable excuse for your crime; it is your crime. You expect me to let you out into a society which you loathe and feel justified in slaughtering? Without even a significant guide in your being? You think I am going to let you pursue your dark lucidity without you even being lucid yourself? You believe I can let you wreck all the purposive work of Man to replace it with some Virginian ideal you plucked from a presumptuous porn film? You want me to proclaim you healthy when you cannot see past your own irises, feel beyond your own skin; when you think spreading pain and rape is the auspicious end of Humanity?

Forget it, boy.

Oh, don’t rail about, Lance. You may think my restriction of you wrong, my views and ideals slavish; just remember that my word has the power, now, and trust that I, too, have seen the Grail. Not a cracked, drained one: a mere shaped clod of earthenware; but one whole, and full enough to quench all men’s thirst. To be free in society requires responsibility. Look out there at your sign around the corner. “Free &…” responsible. Until you know that sign’s other half, you will never leave this cramped confessional.

November 20, 1991

Where Lies the Jina?

 Philosophy, Writing  Comments Off on Where Lies the Jina?
Sep 271991
 

In studying and analyzing various religious sects and traditions, scholars try to draw parallels between faiths in an effort to categorize and relate religions. Using such restrictive methods as a guide, some theological scholars have described the northeastern religion of Jainism as being somewhere between Hinduism and early Buddhism. Geographically, the Jainist faith is between the largest areas of southern Buddhist and mainstream Hindu population; does it, then, deserve to be spiritually wedged between these two?

Clearly, Jainism shares many beliefs and practices with Hinduism and Buddhism. The basic goal of the Jains is to achieve moksa similar to that of the Hindu way of jnana, or knowledge. They seek to be freed from the wearisome burden of karmic residue, to be liberated from the endless cycles of life—which they view to be as equally as full of suffering as the Buddhists believe them to be. Furthermore, Jains even worship some Hindu gods when needing earthly favor and assistance in everyday life. Even many of Jainism’s moral codes mimic those of Buddhists. Their monks maintain strict vows of no killing, no stealing, no telling of lies, no owning property and poverty, just like Buddhist monks. Even the prophets of the Jainist tradition have similar histories as the Buddha. In fact, all the way down to the monastery’s relationship to the laity, Jainism mirrors Buddhism. The monks beg for their food, and the laity willingly and happily gives it. The monks conduct the significant ceremonies of the year and the laity dutifully attends. The monks take stringent vows and the laity does also, but not quite as strictly. Therefore, many facets of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions have found a home in the 2500 year old Jainist religion.

These similarities do not, however, warrant dooming Jainism to a second-grade slot between the two “big boy” religions of India and Asia. There are many qualities about the Jainist cosmology that earn it equal billing and representation as an independent faith. First, the Jains are fundamentally transtheistic; they accept the possibility that gods exist, but they strive to go beyond mere deity worship in their quest for ultimate salvation and liberation from painful life. Second, the Jains revere their own set of powers: the Jain spirits or Tirthankaras. These spirits are the once-living “finders of the ford” across the river confining man to life and suffering; they are teachers whose efforts have bridged this gulf, and each Jainist does his best to cross as well. Finally, their view of world order is, quite unlike Buddhism, very straight-forward and commonsense oriented. It consists of a simple three-tiered realm of reality containing a heaven for gods and the good, hell for the evil, and Earth for the undecided. This universe, further, is eternal and uncreated, lacking a supreme being overseeing it all. Therefore, Jainism has many distinctions from Hinduism and Buddhism, but they are well-blended with the borrowed views of the two.

In conclusion, then, Jainism does not deserve to be squeezed in between two older religions of India simply due to some parallels in belief. These parallels may, after all, exist because some fundamental truth spawned them. It is then irrelevant to relate the three faiths just as it is pointless to deductively assess the rating of three different intuitive interpretations of the same fact. Since no religion is neither more justifiable nor more truthful than another, to accuse Jainism of merely being a Hindu-Buddhist puree is demeaning to its uniqueness and separateness as an ideology.

April, 1991

Energetic Triadism

 Philosophy, Writing  Comments Off on Energetic Triadism
Mar 271991
 

Perhaps the most popular points of discussion among philosophers of metaphysics consist of theories on minds and matter. Throughout the course of Western philosophical thought, a number of noteworthy thinkers have endeavored to present their views on these subjects in the hopes of providing insight into the workings of the universe. I also, being a thinker on such matters, have developed a theory on minds and matter which is more precise in explication and more cohesive with modern scientific discoveries than any other I have studied thus far. In this work, I intend to present and support my view while pointing out its similarities—and, more importantly, its differences—with the most popular metaphysical schools to date.

To begin with, I call my view an Energetic and Triadic view of the universe. These names denote important elements of my theories; the words imply the two fundamental beliefs in this view. The first, Energetic, introduces my compositional theory of matter (as well as minds, but to that… later). It is my belief that all matter is actually energy, monads of congealed immaterial energy held into form by the natural laws of polarity, magnetism, and so forth (more energies). The theory that energy is the base stuff of matter is nothing new to physicists; metaphysically, however, I may as well claim the Earth to be round, so unheard of is this fact in popular metaphysical discussions of which I am aware. As to the issue of a type of monad being that which is made by the congealing of energy, no reductive materialist (which is the most common sense view among the metaphysics) would find much argument with it. Because I hold a view which is essentially a refinement of materialism and being of a similar mind as my cousin materialists who refuse to buy into the highly dubious non-reductive theories, I must accept (which I do) the idea of there being a material building block (ergo not immaterial, like the universal energy) out of which everything else is composed. To balance the yin and yang of this apparent contradiction, I turn to science for some confirmation of my views; current atomic theory holds the belief that, although electrons and protons are not the monads which Leibniz described theoretically, there is much evidence in favor of sub-atomics being the lowest sub-basement in physical constructions. It seems that quarks and positrons and such ‘approach’ (to use a calculus term) masslessness; this could result either from insufficient measuring devices (quite improbable) or, as my theory states, from the fact that energetic monads, being congealed energy, weigh only as much as the physical “energy platelets” or “atomic solvents,” if you will, which are catalysts for the congealing process. My metaphorical platelets represent what I dub the Natural Law which, when physically applied to the raw energy that actually composes the universe, congeals it into these near-massless sub-atomic particles. How the Natural Law is actually applied and what exactly is its nature (specifically, its mass producing quality; I already know that gravity and magnetism, examples because they are permutations of the Natural Law, have no mass) is only Creator’s knowledge, so far. Therefore, the most I can theorize on the practical level is that the phenomenon of mass is created during the energy congealing process; I must wait upon physicists to provide the explication of this.

The second fundamental of my theories is implied, as stated above, by the word Triadic. Triadism is, in a way, an off-shoot of Dualism in that it poses a theory of the mind which separates minds from matter. The tri- prefix is used, however, to denote a third element, a “middle man” for minds and matter. This third element is nervous systems—but that I shall come to after describing the primary two. The first, matter, has already been described as congealed energy. For the sake of focus of argument, matter is dealt with only on the monad level—my theories on substances are largely Aristotelian in that they consist of both matter (objective reality as monads, ergo energy) and form (subjective/observer-determined qualities or systemic relations resulting, as per Natural Law—energy—from the myriad orderings and patterning of these monads). The second category in the triad is composed of minds. Being Energetic, I hold the view that minds are energy as well, somehow held in ‘lattices’ by Natural Law, but (in this application of Natural Law) not congealed (as matter is). Minds, then, are pure energy, immaterial. Since physics tells us that energy can be neither created nor destroyed, I must contend that minds can be neither created nor destroyed and are, therefore, immortal… eternal. The proof of this is difficult, however. It, admittedly, involved a degree of intuition on my part, and I shall attempt to explain this as much as it is possible to describe intuitive impulses.

When I introspect (introspection which, I humbly contend, is more exacting and controlled than David Hume’s) I apprehend, as Hume did, a complex interweaving of sense experiences held as memory. Exerting control to look past these, however, I also perceive something more in meditation. There is what I call a ‘motivating kernel’ that is also a part of my mind. This is the “soul” which plucks, from non-existence, my ideas and dreams and plans. This energy (the energy lattice that is me) is the one which conceives interrogatives; it is that which asks, “Why?” Furthermore, after asking, it is the energy matrix which “stores” (for lack of a better English term) my ethics and which compares these ethics to its intentions for moral analysis. Also, to focus better upon its nature, it is that which decides what impulses will be heeded and which will be ignored. In all, then, it is that part of my self which can perform creative thought, which can vacillate between degrees of control of emotional expressions, and which can perform inductive thought. Put figuratively, it is the captain which determines at what time its vessel (my body) will depart and arrive, how it will be sailed, and whether or not it will be steered into or out of the wind of my emotions and the current of my experiences. Lastly, the eternity of it is, admittedly, initially believed out of mortal fear but is, later, verified by a number of experiences. The Iowa farm wife who, under hypnosis, speaks a dead dialect of French; the revived heart attack patient who recounts an out of body experience; my own single, isolated incident of accurate, specific precognition; my own vague “sense” that I have had (many) previous lives: these experiences lose their unnatural, and therefore superstitious and suspect, reputation with my theory. They are even –if true in their recounting– explained ONLY by an extemporal theory of the mind coupled with reincarnation beliefs. Finally, attributing these qualities to the mind explains a wide range of theological and supernatural beliefs so prevalent in human existence which cannot be explained completely by most metaphysical postures.

It is also possible, however, that the total mind of a human requires some physical (material energy) support from the body. Concerning the ethical qualities of this energetic kernel, their normative applications could be retained in the brain (which is clearly materialized energy). Nevertheless, the kernel is energetic in its being; it cannot be destroyed. Thus, one’s initiative and meta-ethics, being contained at the core of the kernel, cannot be destroyed. you, John Doe, may die, but it is impossible that you essence will cease to have a real existence.

So now I have shown what I feel makes up matter and minds. But what about the aforementioned third element of the triad? What is it? The third major component of my triad is the nervous systems of all bodies connected to minds. As I have said before, minds are pure energy while matter is congealed energy. If I stopped there in describing necessary components of (living, human, self-realizing) things, I would be a mere Dualist of sorts and open to the same attack posed years ago by Queen Elizabeth. In an effort to prove there can be nomological connections between immaterial energy (the mind) and material energy (matter), I must account for the “middle man” mentioned above. I have decided that the nervous system must be this middle man, for it, we are told by science, is composed of both electricity (immaterial energy) and cells (matter, as above). Unfortunately, there is still the matter of deriving, scientifically, the law-like connection between our minds and our brain. We accept that our brain is the “multi-tasker” for our body; but how does the mind input tasks into the brain, how does our CPU route our multi-tasker?

The description of this phenomenon is perhaps the weakest link in my chain of logic because it requires exclusive logic. Science can tell man for what every part of his brain is generally responsible, except for the pineal gland. This gland, near and beneath the center of the cerebrum, is a mystery to science; all that is known is that it is closely linked to the emotional centers of the brain. It is here that I will place the ‘user port’ of the human physical body. In some way, a way which adheres to Natural Law, the mind down-links to the body via the mysterious pineal gland. Whether the link is formed by some type of induction or by force of will on the part of the mind—Perhaps these are identical? Perhaps a combination of these is required?—is a question I must depend upon more knowledgeable men of science to answer. Suffice it that this gland somehow relays emotional states generated by experiences—and the sense experiences themselves—to the energy lattice which is the mind. There, the kernel of this lattice, the cohesive stuff (unmentioned by Hume) of bundles of experiences, decides what shall be done here-now. The mind then downloads these tasks to the multi-tasker, the brain, which then goes about activating groups of muscles and so forth. Therefore, though this view of the brain has no concrete evidence to support it, it does explain yet another mystery of humanity, just as an Energetic view of the mind answers a plethora of supernatural questions.

In conclusion, my Energetic Triadism may seem quite a departure from the worn and dusty ruts of traditional metaphysical thought. This it is, but not by virtue of outright differences. Rather, I have taken the prevailing trends of Idealism, Materialism, Dualism, and science and have bred them together into what, I feel, is a higher synthesis, a meta-metaphysics, if you will. Our perceptions of the world are contained in bundles of sense impressions (as in Idealism) but there is a real, physical, independent world out there stimulating our senses (Materialism). The matter of this world can be boiled down into basic component parts (Monism) and these parts exist apart from and in harmony with minds (Dualism), being of the same substance essentially. I simply have viewed the flaws that each individual theory contains and have answered them as cohesively as possible. In this vein, I have accounted for the connections between minds and matter (Triadism) while avoiding developing two distinct metaphysics, one for how minds are constructed and one for describing the monads of my substances, my matter (this latter accomplishment was done via my Energetic theories). On these pages, my motivating kernel, my soul, has assessed my experiences as well as my inner feelings and then manipulated my body over my word processor to write this theory. I welcome, whole-heartedly, exacting and rigorous criticism; it merely makes my views more precise and more strong.

April 3, 1990

Hamstringing Pride

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Oct 271990
 

Thomas More’s Utopia paints a fanciful portrait of an ideologically advanced society. The fictional ‘artist’ of this land, the Platonic skipper Hythloday, offers much commentary on the customs and attitudes of the Utopians during his recounting of his “travels” in their Republic. The language of one such commentary—concluding remarks on pride—presents a harsh view of this “prime plague” which harkens one’s memory back to passages recounting the Utopian view of gold, silver, and jewels. (p.453)

To begin with, More’s Utopians possess an inspiring opinion on the worth of “precious” metals and gems. Realizing the danger of placing value on such useless though pretty trinkets, they undermine the accepted value of them by forging the expensive metals into chamberpots, slave’s shackles, and children’s toys and baubles. The end effect of this, as the Anemolian ambassadors discovered to their shame, is that the significance of these riches is distorted or convoluted, and those taking pride in them are assumed to be “fools.” (p.445) It is the embarrassment of the ambassadors which makes the connection between this narrative passage on gold and silver and More’s deeper remarks on pride.

Hythloday (i.e. More) clearly condemns pride in man as “the begetter of all other [plagues].” (p.453) In an extended conceit in which he personifies Pride as a woman, More points out that “her riches [are] valuable only as they torment and tantalize the poverty of others.” Herein lies the link to the Utopian view of gold. Because “Pride measure her advantages not by what she has but by what others lack,” the Utopians have made possession the brunt of ridicule. (p.453) Therefore, if Pride is born of owning something of worth, they reverse the above rule by making the ownership of gold, silver, and gems something base or childlike; pride is circumvented by demeaning the object which would otherwise breed such strutting self-love.

Unfortunately, there remains, for the Utopians, a problem with such a view of worth. Granted, they do not worship and revere the Almighty boullion, but they are not as free from pride as they would like to seem. Hythloday makes a point of describing the amused reaction of the Utopians upon viewing the ambassadors. It is vital to note that their humor was bred of the self-same pride which they (pridefully) claim to have eradicated. By assuming the bejeweled ambassadors to be slaves, childish, or fools, they hold them up to ridicule for verification of their righteousness just as the ambassadors tried to do—but in reverse.

Therefore, though the Utopians have shifted the instigating impetus of pride away from useless, purposeless gold and silver, they have failed, ultimately, to eradicate that “monster.” (p.453) Instead, they take pride in finer, more virtuous things like hard work, equality (for all but slaves, of course) and the commonwealth. For this reason, they do deserve praise; that praise, however, should not be too generously showered upon them. They just might get even more swelled heads.

Foundation Vexation

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Aug 271990
 

Foundationalists have assumed a heavy burden. They seek to reveal the nature of sense experience. The focus of current debate amongst their ranks explores the viability of there existing some given in sense experience. There are those such as M. Schlick who seek some connection to the raw nature of that which the senses interpret. Others, notably N. Goodman, feel that seeking only some vague given is useless; only through interpreted sense experience can a coherent, derivable truth be found.

In order to decide which of the sensual theories contains the most truth, a understanding of their views must be gained. Schlick claims that, by streamlining one’s phenomenal language, one forges a link to the given in an experience. In making this claim, he implies that a solid, basic kernel exists prior to its interpretation and befuddlement by our sensory processors and our physical language. He calls for such streamlining to get past this interpretation and touch said kernel. Unfortunately, such streamlining also requires that the demonstratives generated be nontransferable. Our generalized and object-oriented linguistics fail us. To communicate my “red, here, now” experience/truth to you risks error and confusion of my new-found truth. It is even conceivable, if one carries the logic far enough, that I risk error in mentally noting the experience for myself, for my own use.

Fortunately, however, for the more practical and progressive, there is Goodman’s Minimal Foundationalism. He, like most other rational people, finds unutterable, individual truths quite useless in the practical world of science. He realizes that to know anything useful about the world, one must give up the dream of finding the essence directly. Therefore, Goodman proposes adopting a system of credible, although somewhat uncertain phenomenal reports. From these basic, yet not bare-bones, reports, a larger picture can be derived. If this picture is coherent, it can be accepted as truth. Goodman realizes the enormity of such an approach, but also rests assured of finding a useful truth.

In conclusion, Schlick’s observation reports, though they may give him some link to the basic truth behind the light and sound show dubbed “life,” he can bring no other in on his truth. Theoretically, others could link with the essence themselves; but then no one would get far towards utility in their lifetime. If any one person could get from “black, here, now” to basic arithmetic in the seven decades granted them, they would be quite successful. Goodman, on the other hand, does not offer immediate and virtually useless knowledge but long term traversal through the phenomina of the world. It may take more time than simply stripping away the kinks in our mental processes (along with everything else); but, because it is transferable, many could strive together to reach their foundation. Once there, they will have a truth with use because it has come from careful interpretation instead of being isolated from such analysis.

Hume’s Causal Confusion

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Aug 271990
 

It is every philosopher’s dream to one day divine the meaning of the universe, to reveal the grand scheme of things for all to see. David Hume endeavors towards a goal no less difficult in trying to unlock the connection between simple cause and effect relations. In his novel An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, he presents two views of causation. The first is focussed around the constant conjunction of an alleged cause and the resultant effect. The second is a counter-factual account of causation which Hume sees as equivalent to his theory of constant conjunction. But can these two views, once understood, be regarded as identical?

With constant conjunction, Hume explains that an event can be considered the cause of another event if and only if all events like the former are constantly conjoined with the latter type of event and if the latter succeeds the former temporally. More simply put, because the flicking of a light switch has been, in a viewer’s experience, constantly followed by (conjoined with) the lights coming on, when the light do come on right after a light switch is thrown, the viewer can assume the cause to be the throwing of the switch. Hume accepts that one cannot know the true cause, the most basic of causes, but he does assert that the cause, in a practical sense, can be probabilistically inferred. If the conjunction of two events is consistent enough, one can go so far as to even be certain (with little doubt) of the relation between them continuing.

Hume then presents a counter-factual account of causation as a simple rewording of his constant conjunction supposition. This account states that one event is the cause of another if and only if had the former not occurred, the latter would not have. This, to assess it in the former example, says that the switch is the cause of the lights going on for, had the switch not been thrown, the lights would not have gone on.

Though both ideas make logical sense and seem, individually, to be good ways of deriving the cause of some event, Hume goes too far in saying that the two concepts are the same. His constant conjunction account of causation requires that the observer of the relation has had the proper experiences, the proper conjunctions, to arrive at an accurate conclusion of causation. “Observer” is used here in a loose sense; it is any unit external to the events, be it a person or a society or a school of thought. His counter-factual account implies more of a necessary connection between the two, where a constant conjunction is irrelevant. If a totally unique event were to result from a mundane cause, there would be no established conjunction between the two, for that relies on past occurrences. Yet, in the antecedent of the above statement, the cause is the mundane event, by definition. It is in the reliance upon previous regularity that Hume’s constant conjunction theory finds is foundation, whereas his counter-factual idea finds causation in each single, distinct, and solely observed relation.

An example of how constant conjunction is useless while counter-factual can be applied is discerned if one first imagines a man who is thoroughly versed in the knowledge of fire and of trees and yet has absolutely no experience with or knowledge of lightning. Supposing that, one day, he sees a bolt of erratic white light descend from the sky and strike a tree, cleaving it and setting it afire. Because he fully understands the nature of trees and fire, and because he has never seen such resultant events occur spontaneously, this man is left with only the lightning as the cause of the destruction. He sees the lightning as being the most likely cause, not from past experiences with lightning, but due to the fact that had it not occurred, the tree would most likely have not ended up as charred splinters, for trees generally just do not do such things. Therefore, it is evident that constant conjunction can be useless in at least one case of causation, and counter-factual, alone, is directly required to draw some causal conclusion. Because of this difference in example, as well as the aforementioned logical difference derived from the connotations of Hume’s two causal theories, it is obvious that the two theories are not equivalent. They both offer good insight into the nature of cause and effect relations and, if used cautiously, could be perhaps the best ways to draw a conclusion from restricted evidence. They should not, however, be confused as identical.

Blood Imagery In Macbeth

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Aug 141990
 

The Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth is filled with references to blood and gore. Three of the many functions which this blood imagery serves are to set the tone in the various scenes, to pace the wave of action throughout the play, and to characterize the nature of the death and killing in the play.

Frequently, blood sets the mood or tone in the play. When Duncan’s body is found, “his silver skin laced with his golden blood” sets a tone of horror for the rest of the scene. (II,ii,102) Although this particular imagery also sets a tone of reverence for the assassinated ruler, its main purpose is to fill one with disgust for the vile deed. This objective holds true throughout the play. When the witches recite the gory ingredients of their stew, the putridness of it is horrifying and disgusting. The witches’ bloody apparitions top off this feeling for the scene in which they appear. Blood, therefore, often sets the tone in the various scenes; and the tone most often established is one of horror and disgust.

A pattern established in Macbeth is that after each murder there is an abundance of blood imagery. The play, which had before a murder been moderately paced and subdued, is swept away in a flood of blood and gore after a murder occurs. For example, before Duncan’s murder there was very little mention of blood (except for the imagery in Act I, Scene II, which serves to foreshadow the action and killing to come); but afterwards, blood imagery literally flows wild. Donalbain is told “the fountain of [his] blood is stopped”; Lennox reports of Duncan’s guards being “badged with blood”; all “question this bloody piece of work”; and Donalbain warns his brother Malcolm, “the near in blood,/ The nearer bloody.” (II,iii,88,91,118,130) All of these images occur in but one scene. After Banquo’s murder there is a cluster of references to his blood and to his mangled body. Macbeth and the murderer speak of Banquo’s blood being better outside of the murderer’s body than inside of Banquo’s. Also, the murderer tells Macbeth of Banquo’s body lying in a ditch “with twenty trenched gashes on his head.” (III,iv,27) Then Banquo’s ghost appears, shaking its “gory locks” at Macbeth. (III,iii,51) Last, the play peaks with Lady Macbeth’s imagined blood and with the battlefield’s literal blood. These blood images form a sort of crescendo which conglomerates all of the murders. Thus, because the blood imagery is so prevalent during and directly after each murder, and because it then tapers off before the next murder, it paces the wave of action in the play.

Third, blood imagery characterizes the nature of the death and killing that occurs within the play. Macbeth is called “brave Macbeth” when he is unseaming the traitorous Macdonwald “from the nave to the chaps”; yet he is described by Macduff as “an untitled tyrant bloody sceptered” after killing Duncan, the rightful monarch. (I,ii,22;IV,iii,104) Also, Banquo’s murder is negatively characterized when Macbeth remarks to the murderer about Banquo’s blood: “‘Tis better thee without than he within.” (III,iv,14) Macbeth is no longer brave and honorable when saying this to the murderer; he has become the deceitful traitor that Macdonwald was. The killings are good when it is the enemy being dispatched; but when it is Macbeth’s liege, friends, and relatives being murdered, the killings are wrong, evil, and treacherous.

Blood imagery, by setting the tone, pacing the wave of action, and characterizing the nature of the death and killing, works to unify the action within the play. The blood begins to flow and a wave of action builds as murder occurs. Then, the images of blood and reeking gore set a tone of horror over the horrible killing of a friend and relation. This unification is constant throughout Macbeth. Blood images build up and become more frequent as Duncan is murdered, and the images instigate feelings of horror and disgust about this deceitful assassination. The same pattern holds true for both Banquo’s killing and the murder of Macduff’s family. When the blood flows quickly, so does the action.