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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clayirving/

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14 comments:

  1. Why do you insist on separating thought and reality? This lovely post is thought thinking; it is not nothing. Surely its spritely movement
    has escaped the chthonic Medusa, those swampy roots, the womb and tomb of man.

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  2. "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."

    But what is ideology? It seems to me that ideologies are often merely a way of viewing the world, what you, by necessity, have faith in, for reason must find a foundation.

    "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."

    Often only by faith can you answer a question.

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  3. When all is said and done, the most difficult thing in metaphysics is to grasp Poison Ivy. After all maybe it's not a bad idea to grasp it indirectly first, through rubber gloves, or even through an isolation suit. in short to understand its appearance before examining it per se. It's curious, sometimes we see things better for what they cause, rather than directly for its rashness. My Best. Count Sneaky.

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  4. @Gary,
    From the "realistic" point of view, thought is distinguished from the concrete reality, not separated. There is being we experiment concretly (white wall) and being we experiment in the abstract mode (whiteness). Beyond or common to these two modes is substance-principle, or being (as being) which is neither concrete nor abtract. In the same vein, you do not separate the egg and the oil in a mayonnaise mix, you distinguish them.

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  5. @Jeremy,
    Neoplatonians identify the idea of reality and reality. From there, intelligence becomes a mirror which distorts reality: ideologies are but grimaces of intelligence.

    @Phani,
    Glad you liked. Thanks for stopping in.

    @Count Sneaky,
    With substance-principle we are well and truly at the heart of reality, which we cannot get a rash from, since it is not concrete (nor abstract). ;-)

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  6. I do not really want to argue what a "realist" or Neo-Platonist would think – the labels stick on badly – but rather what I think, which if "realistic" or Neo-Platonic is fine, if not so be it – it probably is kind of. Thought and its object are both existents, sometimes the object is real, sometimes not. My point is that thought, and therefore a mind, is a real thing (not the brain). The mind exists just as tables and cars and countries and prime numbers and the moon exists, and a ferula. Which is to say thought exists. Moreover, it seems to me, that thought and its object are two, not one. The mind is a substance separate from any object it might think, including "its" body – Des Cartes was right about that. (He was wrong in his representationalism and his nominalism.)

    An Idea of a real thing and the real thing are not identical, ie literally, the same thing. (There is no such thing as "reality".) The idea is "of" the real thing, or of any existent that is its object. The idea is real, its object is real, the mind and the object are both substantial things. And they are separate.

    Intelligence is not a mirror, which would make the mirror image a "representation" of the real thing and we would be smack dab in the middle of representationalism. Such images, deputies, second-hand things don't exist. The mind knows its object directly, not though middlemen, intermediaries, spies, who, if they did exist, probably would distort things.

    Thus, when you talk of substance, you are the idea of substance and that is directly intimate with substance itself, an eternal thing. With your idea you are one with the object of your affection, but, as with a lover and his beloved, you are one without ceasing to be two. (Lovers do, however, sometimes give each other rashes.)

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  7. Pay me no mind - all I was looking for was salads. And I thought I found it. Alas, we're all talking about metaphysical roots.

    My good sir, I'm quite hungry so I beg off from further exertions.

    Maybe Count Sneaky had it down pat: "When all is said and done, the most difficult thing in metaphysics is to grasp Poison Ivy."

    I think so, too. But then again, where's the value in that? I was only looking for salads after all. ",)

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  8. @Gary,
    Thanks for your comment. I disagree about the mind being a substance, but have little time to discuss them over the next few days. Of course, you bring up interesting points.
    When I spoke of neoplatonians, it was in reference to 99 per cent of Westerners who give precedence to thought over reality.

    @Dan,
    I think the difference is the metaphyical roots are not set in matter. ;) Actually, "salades" in French also means nonsense, so there is a double-entendre which was lost there :)

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  9. The term salad when used alone applies to green leaves or stalks that are eaten uncooked. An extension of the term salad, as now more generally used throughout the world, applies to a salad plant, with or without other foods, and a dressing.

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  10. @care,
    This post has attracted the salad aficionados ;) Thanks for pointing that out, translating can be tricky.

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  11. But what if reality and the thought of reality are the same thing? If all we are seeing is shadows on a wall with no knowledge of any other reality causing the shadows, then our interpretation of those shodows is our reality and interpretation is a mental thing.

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  12. I agree with you about the substance-principle view of reality. With poison ivy is it not the rash that is principle; and substance its ability to interact with
    the skin? The interaction varies with different people.
    Have I understood correctly? Count Sneaky

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  13. DB,
    We approach reality though a constant back and forth between reality and our perception of reality. Truth is the adequacy betweeen intelligence and reality.

    CS,
    Subastance principle is what is neither concrete nor abstract and commmon both to the concrete (a particular poison ivy) and the abstract (poison ivy - as a universal).

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