Thursday, April 30, 2009

Conviction vs intolerance

Is a conviction, whatever it may be, or even a philosophical thought, or an experience, or their opposites (a non conviction, a non philosophical thought, a non experience) like a synonym of intolerance?

The answer is simple, it is no, and here is the proof : one can have a conviction of tolerance!

It is thus not the conviction which produces intolerance, but the object of a conviction. This demonstration looks quite straightforward, but I only thought it through recently, after being asked a specific question.

I will add something else, which I discover progressively, and more and more. It is, I think, when we don't have a conviction that we are the most susceptible of being violent. Why? Quite simply because if you are convinced of something (or convinced of not being convinced), it is because you have experienced it, either internally or through your senses, and therefore it is not the opinion of your neighbour that can diminish in any way your experience or your non experience. Therefore, and this is the by-product of the aforementionned, many mistake intolerance (or excessive behavior) and conviction. This explains why so many are violently against or in favor of something, for it plays the role of a conviction, since they affirm and are undoubting. Yet, quite curiously, doubt is in a certain sense the only reliable proof of a conviction. This is quite tricky! lol

Now the question takes on a quite paradoxical allure, and it is its genuine allure, for it is those without a conviction who are the most often intolerant, affirming violently to convince themselves of something, whilst at the same time the ones who are truly convinced do not cease to doubt!

So how do you extirpate yourself from there? For once again we have scraped the surface and we find ourselves mired in a good old dialectic. I only know one way to pass the obstacle: the difference lies in if one seeks the truth or not. And there, now that we have gone beyond the dialectic, we can clearly distinguish the two ways of doubting: the blockheads are wary of truth, whereas the others are prudent with relation to what is false. LoL!

As you leave a comment, please read profile.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bending it like Beckham

Uncertainty is an experience of the future, certainty a prophecy of the past. In both cases one is not on the ball. What is left if you can be neither certain nor uncertain? Well, precisely, that's where you put your foot on the ball, but you'll have to get up rather early if you hope to bend it like Beckham. :-)

Credit image:

As you leave a comment, please read profile.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


The more I look at it, the more I realize that intuition, thus a good part of the artistic approach (and the mathematical approach) consists in finding and imagining relations between things.

For example, in mathematics, you take your house and you say the length at floor level is so many yards; what does this mean in the absolute? It only means there is a yardstick somewhere, in this case the yard, and that we have created a link between this decreed measure and the length in question containing X times the yardstick. Thus essentially a decreed relation between a human invention and reality.

Other examples of relation, this time in terms of proportions. The well known golden number is a measure that architects used, as well as painters and musicians. Gothic relative to Roman, quickly said, is the passage between a proportion of one to one, and a proportion of one to two or three or four. In painting, someone like Modigliani multiplied vertical proportions by two.

Better still, in music, consider a prelude of Bach, prelude n°1 for example of the Das wohltemperirte Clavier, in do major. Consider the first note, Do, as axis and base tonic, and multiply each interval by two. The prelude sounds as if it was written by Debussy. By multiplying by two any interval between this base Do and the other notes, we have obviously eliminated all half-tones, and it sounds "gamut by tone", yet the harmony remains, and continues to ring, for we have merely multiplied by two the harmonic rapport with the tonic. For that matter, if we multiply the same intervals by 5 or 7 (modulo 12), the prelude sounds like Berg and Webern.

Imo, mathematics is essentially about the establishment of relations, in as much as it is radically a non metaphysical viewpoint. From the metaphysical standpoint, relation, one of the 10 categories of substance, is considered as "flimsy" by Aristotle. He is right! From a metaphysical viewpoint he is right, for from the point of view of being, relation is last in line! In that sense, to consider mathematics to be a first principle (i.e. to substitute it to being) is even more "flimsy"! Yet that is what the average (and advanced) modern day person does, since, before anything else, nowadays everything is becoming and relations.

Credit drawing:

As you leave a comment, please read profile.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Roots are for salad plants

When all is said and done, the most difficult thing in metaphysics is to grasp substance. After all maybe it's not a bad idea to grasp it indirectly first, through individuation, or even through relation, in short to understand its necessity before examining it per se. It's curious, sometimes we see things better for what they support, rather than directly for themselves.

Thus, with individuation, matter is introduced into being. The individual is the place where conditioning and being meet, and the individual becomes through this process a unique happening. It is rather satisfying for the ego to know oneself different from the others and irreplaceable. But where does this originality come from? For the soul founds originality, but does not make it more explicit. Since my feet are touching ground, as I speak, I can only notice that it is firstly matter which specifies my concrete originality, my "difference" as is commonly overheard. Personally, I find this not so amusing. Each of us has intelligence and will, so these cannot explain my otherness. I can only recognize that what first determines my originality is matter. Not only does this roll out the red carpet for materialism, but moreover it is rather humiliating. Only the blockheads don't feel humiliated, and in parenthesis, one can grasp here the small link between intelligence and humility, hi hi. Even more interesting, if I seek originality first and foremost, I leave finality to the wayside: this originality pertains to matter and quantity, to physiognomy also, but firstly to matter and quantity. Now matter has no finality - it is undetermined.

Consequently, if one no longer seeks finality, only the roots remain: archaeology, genealogy, the ancestors etc. We turn ourselves towards the past, we are scared of the future and of death, because the term of our future is death, this inevitable gap in the clouds; we look at the foundation, we stay seated on our rear end. The world is tired, so it sits on its foundation, on the ground, on matter and on quantity. It is the death of the spirit and of the person, and we thus fall back on the individual. Even though I am fundamentally different by my spirit, even if I don't know it yet, it is the body and conditioning which have taken front stage. We are thus under the ferula of psychology, origins and atavism. We are spellbound by our conditioning, and there is no more love, for finality is love, obviously. We hence replace this by the pleasures of the body under all forms, what exalts the individual by his individual originality. How many actors do you hear, sports stars, and sundry VIPs who speak of their roots, their inner circle, their look, their power, their efficiency, their pleasure? All conditionings put down roots in matter, thus in the body, to the point that when tiredness, hunger, sickness, poverty come into play, conditioning takes front stage and substitutes itself to spirit, thus to finality.

It is around the 14th century that conditioning took the seat of substance, notably with William of Ockham, and the diversion having the advantage of originality, it obviously seduced the largest crowd. In parallel to this, instead of distinguishing things, we separated them - that is what the contemporary dialectics are - and we put what we separated in opposition and in rivalry. The final cause (finality) then became metaphoric, symbolic and poetic, which maimed it, let's be honest. Thus the exemplary cause is put to the fore, i.e. thought is put in front of reality, to the point where it masks it and even mutilates it, for that is well and truly what ideologies amount to: to cut out from reality what does not enter in the idea we make of it.

Credit image:

As you leave a comment, please read profile.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How vs why?

The scientist seeks the HOW whereas the (realist) philosopher seeks the WHY. Never will the scientist find the whys, only the hows of the whys. One discovery leads to another discovery, which leads to other discoveries, and again to more discoveries. Nothing to write home about because matter is fundamentally undetermined (from the point of view of finality) and says nothing about quality. Quality is simply beyond its' reach. Science studies matter and quantity, enlarging only what it knows, thus quantity, never quality, and the end focusses on quality. One can only measure the effects of quality.

As you leave a comment, please read profile.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A critical juncture

Credit image: gadl

Thanks to all who participated in the blogpoll "what comes first white or whiteness?" I trust those who said white didn't say so because it appeared before whiteness in the poll ;D Actually, both answers are correct depending on the order under consideration (existence or intelligibility). In the last analysis though, the question to be answered is what comes first, existence or signification? No prizes, but a good brushing for the neuron. Please read on... :-)

The dictionary states that whiteness is the quality of being white, and sees in it a principle (what comes first) of sorts. Yet it is when we see a white wall, snow, milk, a white cat, that intelligence abstracts the noun whiteness. Yet once you abstract the "universal" whiteness it seems that you see the singular whites differently, under the light of whiteness. If you had never seen white you wouldn't ask yourself what whiteness is, and if you did not understand what whiteness is you wouldn`t recognize white so easily. But you have never seen whiteness on your daily walk. White is what you experience in the first instance, before whiteness appears in the intellect. White depends on a thing (eg wall) for its existence, but it must be isolated from the wall to extract it's meaning, through the question, "what is whiteness"? Consequently, white comes first in the order of existence, but whiteness comes first in the order of intelligibility. The crucial question is therefore what comes first, what exists or it's signification? This is where Descartes turns his back to Aristotle, for whom the first question is "does this exist?" and the second is "what is this?". For Descartes like Plato, ideas are innate...

If you understand that whiteness is the fruit of your different experiences of white, the signification of whiteness and white are one and the same, on an abstract basis for the first and a concrete basis for the second. In parenthesis, the reason why placing the idea before the concrete reality is so tempting is because the abstract mode is pure (whiteness) whereas the concrete mode is impure (a white wall).

With regards to being, the transition from "this is" (judgement of existence) to "what is being?" is analogous to the transition from "this wall is white" to "what is whiteness?". In both cases, we move from the visible to the invisible. This adjustment seems almost innocuous, quite the contrary: either metaphysics connects with the radical structure of intelligence, or intelligence haughtily turns its back to it!

White and whiteness (2)

Credit image: pareeerica (CC)

Thank you for this interesting little story. Very instructive! What is cute, in those cases, is that it is through negation that one purports to demonstrate: “I will demonstrate to you that this ceiling is not white”. Why does not one demonstrate that this ceiling is such or such a color?? For me, this is one of the most significant manias of contemporary Western thought: to start with negation.

Further, there is a confusion between “white” and “whiteness”, i.e. between the real being and the universal (or being of reason). In this case, being of reason is taken as measure of reality, and even substitutes itself to it. “Whiteness” (which is called “white” in your story) does not exist as a color of itself, but only as an abstraction proceeding from one's intelligence. It is one from the multiple, in a triple relation, either "unum ex-multis", "unum ad-multa" or "unum in-multis". It is interesting to seek the three nuances, because the person you spoke to lined up three mistakes in his development. Mistakes which correspond rigorously to the negation of these three nuances of the universal. The first is that he denies that the abstraction of the one proceeds from the multitude of singulars (ex); then he refuses to see that this one is ordered to the diversity from which it proceeds (ad); finally, he concludes with a denial that this one (the white) can, as a being of reason, identify itself to such or such a singular from which it proceeds.

In other words, he starts with a being of reason as if he took it out of a hat (he should have been stopped in his tracks with the question: what is "white"?). Then he intentionally separates this white that he has nonetheless abstracted. Finally, he denies that the singular is identifiable to the abstraction, which he brandishes as unique measure and absolutely separated from any reality other than his intelligence. It is thus gobbledygook.

As a side note, this problem of the One and the Multiple crops up everywhere these days. It is a favorite of contemporary thought, which in the last analysis replaces Being by One, and even places Being in dependence to One. At the end of the day, this leads to substituting logic to metaphysics, which is quite seducing and even ecumenical, since only logic reconciles the one and the multiple! Whereas metaphysics distinguishes them, and shows that one is a property of being, in other words that Being is first.

As you leave a comment, please read profile.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

On white and whiteness

Next post will be the response to this OP.

Madame Y,

Over lunch someone asked me, what is to believe?
I did not know what to answer.
He said: "I can prove to you that ceiling there is not white".
In truth, the ceiling was white.
His proof, the table cloth is even whiter.
This was also true.
I could have said: "Yes that's true, but both are white, and one is more white."
He would have said: "No that's untrue, there is only one color which can be qualified as white."

I was not too tempted to enter into this discussion given his personality.

What is reality? The perception of white?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Playing the partition

Credit drawing: Leander Lenz (

I oft hear the objection towards a true philosophical approach, that it suffices to love and that there is no need to understand, nor even to try to understand. There is seemingly some truth to this assertion, so much as we sometimes manage to make intelligence the rival of will, thus of the heart. Since it is not I who invented myself, in other words I have not chosen to be made to love, and on the other hand to be "stupid" does not preclude anyone from loving, well all there is left for me to do is to love, and that's all folks, like a plant or an animal! We do tend to take animals as a reference these days: do THEY get wound up over things!?

All right, I agree, we are in the last analysis interpreters of our nature, and it seems it is not necessary to try to understand, all we need to do is to play the partition, easy peasy. Well that's not the case precisely, I know high level interpreters, some of them international in scope, and they play what is written on the sheet, with emotion, panache, brio, even with their guts, as the saying goes... yet if we stop them in the middle of their performance, or if they are bothered by any given incident, they have to start anew because they have no idea what a modulation is. I promise that some interpreters and instrumentalists play what is written on the sheet, even if a fly has just landed on it, and understand diddly-squat of the intelligence of the composition. For them it boils down to a movement of fingers, a physical training, and that's precisely what the expression “learned dog” means.

Well I say that an interpreter who seeks to understand the thought of the composer, and the harmonic, rhythmic and melodic intelligence of what he is playing is concretely better than a musician who moves his fingers without having a clue of what's going on. And let's not even speak of those who embark on a piece which is clearly unplayable because it is not written by a real composer or because it doesn't correspond to the tessitura of their instrument, and who run backstage sobbing because they have received a swarm of tomatoes, and there are a stack like that... Or who trumpet they will cross the Atlantic in a bathtub, everything is fine, the sea is calm this morning, you can go see for yourself if you don't believe me, and who plan to stick their finger in the tap hole to stay afloat, and in general finish off with a “In any case, such and such famous sailor drowned at the end of his career, which proves if need be that one must not ponder too hard over these things.”

What can you respond to that!? All that you can do is wait and hope that, in case there is a problem, they will come back swimming, albeit blue all over, but at least that they will come back, because sometimes they don't come back, or without the children... and if they do come back, then you have to patiently wait that they cease to be stunned by the fact that you are not solely and completely surprised by their wreckage! I'm not saying that to ponder over these things will preclude any incident, and maybe not even a wreckage, but it can be of some assistance. :-)

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Categories

*clears throat*, "Harvey" (translator) here. Just thought I'd do a quick post on Aristotle's ten categories.

In the Categories (a section of his works on Logic - Aristotle is the father of Logic), Aristotle lays out ten categories (or predicaments) of being which are a metaphysical identity card of sorts of man. They are secondary attributes of the subject or first substance (eg Count Sneaky).

1) Second substance: the intelligibility or quiddity of Count Sneaky (man)
2) quality: Count Sneaky has visible qualities (brown hair, brown eyes) and invisible qualities (intelligence, artistic sense, virtues...)
3) quantity: Count sneaky is x feet tall
4) relation: CS is as tall or taller than "Harvey"
5) action: CS is reading
6) passion: CS is happy
7) time: any physical movement implies time and place
8) place: CS is in Twitterville (or somewhere else)
9) position: CS is sitting
10) state: CS is holding the phone

From another realistic thinker (GD): "the ten categories will always remain imo one of the signs of Aristotle's superior intelligence.

It is probable that this list proceeds from the sole and pure intuition of the Philospher, after having meditated on the being of things. It is the fruit of an absolute vision of intelligence, no doubt at the term of a long inductive observation of beings and things, where each time (10 times) a trigger mechanism was produced in his intuitive intelligence, distinct from and prior to reason. In this manner, it can be said the "Categories" are the doorway to reasoning."

The categories have a quiddity, ie their own "form" and intelligibility. They express the modalities of being but are relative to substance (what unites first substance - CS - and second subtance - man.)

My substance is my soul but substance is not soul, else all that would be would live. :-)

Dear readers, do not ponder over this too long and hard, else you will get a headache, but as we will be speaking of substance (the source of all determinations) and categories, I thought it useful to lay this out. ;-)

Friday, April 3, 2009

A formidable weapon

When a character is deliberately blown from reality into an imaginary state, be it through writing, theatre, a comical sketch or satire, which is the work of any writer or any stand up comedian, there is certainly a degree of cruelty involved, since one must carve away in there like one moulds play dough. It is quite an efficient manner of not loving to hold the other for a transformable object, for a "modelizeable" working matter. The potter uses clay to make a vase, so too does the writer, in the form of characters.

So when you listen to a stand up comedian how do you know there is not a real person behind his character who is rageing or sulking, because he/she knows there is such and such an allusion made to a real life story. This phenomenon is far from being novel.

In painting for example, many an artist has amused himself in giving to his characters traits of existing people by portraying them on a canvass in a grotesque fashion, or at the least disadvantageously. With the representation of the Apocalypse, for example, you will be told that such and such a character at the bottom left corner, where hell is portrayed with souls burning in a marmite, is the grocer of the author to whom he owed money, or this one, his own wife, etc. Nowadays no one gives a hoot, but back then, the grocer and the wife must not have been overjoyed, especially if an observer detailing the canvass came to say: look at that woman rotting in hell, what a nasty face she has! That is well deserved!

The painter is oblivious. He just paints in various colours the obscenities he observes around him. He brings them to the limelight. He couldn't care less about the rest.

With writing it is the same. Someone like Marc-Edouard Nabe, the son of the saxophonist Zanini, wrote a "Personal Diary" in 5 or 6 volumes of 800 pages each. He goes very far since he prints family names and demolishes or hails right and left. Many people in the music or literary world were concerned. He even describes in detail how his wife Helene "treats" him, how she cheats on him, how he shoos her away or on the contrary how he loves her. Everything is there, to the nearest toenail. He also derides hundreds of people whom he only intersected with for a few hours. He must not have made himself many friends. He doesn't care. It's not his problem. For that matter he wrote this sentence on each of the books in this diary: "The more the details of my life are known, the more I will be free".

He isn't wrong. But, pray tell, free of what? Well free of loving or of not loving in a few sentences or not, and this for the simple reason that to make a secret public is to execute love, it never fails: there is no love without secrets, and to expose the secret, or the so called secret, is to liquidate the love or friendship that goes with it, or said to be. One must recognize that this is an efficient recourse and a rather formidable weapon to have at hand which the artist can weild at any moment to the detriment of those who annoy him, and in a profitable manner since he monetizes the satire to the delight of the reader who has paid his entrance ticket, as Louis-Ferdinand CĂ©line would say.