A thing observed is not necessarily a thing explained.
A thing observed is not necessarily a thing explained.
The knee jerk reaction to my ideas is to assume that when I appeal to the SELF–the individual human being–as the metaphysical irreducible and thus the only rational moral and epistemological absolute Standard (“epistemological” in this context meaning, how we know that what we know is in fact true), that I’m making the contention that my SELF is the only salient Self.
Several attempts have been made by people whose intellect I admire to link my ideas to Kantian Subjectivism in this manner…the thought being that since I deny a Standard of Truth and Morality outside of Self, that “reality”–as they call it, “external reality” (an illogical definition entirely) must necessarily be based upon whatever whim I, alone, devise.
Now, it isn’t that I don’t understand why some people believe this, it’s just that I think it is simply because they have been functioning according to the “this or that” dualism of Aristotle vs. Plato for so long that they aren’t able to integrate any truly new ideas. Indeed, even averring that I am presenting “new” ideas would likely be taken as a grand apostasy.
But it is a logical fallacy to believe that just because I declare that I am ME and YOU are YOU, and absolutely so, that this must mean that I am the only one who actually exists; which is precisely what I am accused of asserting. The loose logic is that since all knowledge is a function of the senses (it isn’t; its a function of the ability to sense, which is a function of the ability to conceptualize SELF as “he who senses”) which observe “objective reality outside you”then we must assume that “objective reality” is a function of the “cause and effect” of (invisible) physical laws which “govern”. In short, any appeal to a Standard of Truth except that which the senses first observe is labeled subjectivism.
As ostensibly rational as this argument is, its fatal weakness is that it doesn’t come close to answering the question: What is man? And as I have submitted on numerous occasions, if you cannot rationally answer that question then the rest of what you believe about anything is immaterial. If there is no definition of man–and a definition of man cannot be: an absolute function of a reality OUTSIDE himself because that is a rank contradiction, and makes man a direct function of that which is “outside of him”…or said another way, of that which is NOT him–…yes, if there is no definition of man then there can be no relevance to what he believes. Because “he” must be declared something, and even more, something capable of being aware of his own relevance to the existential equation. And this awareness cannot be a function of that which is outside of him, because that makes his awareness not his own, in fact, but whatever “caused” him. However I submit that awareness must be an innate function of man’s ability to be himself; anything else removes man from his own consciousness, which makes all appeals to man’s existence a lie. For a man who is fundamentally unable to be aware, and this awareness of himself, cannot be said to know anything.
Man’s ability to be himself IS his ability to KNOW himself, and his ability to KNOW himself is his ability to conceptualize himself as juxtaposed to the conceptualization of what is NOT himself. Both the SELF of man and the Environment of man are predicated upon man’s ability to know–to conceptualize–them both. There is no thing, “inside” or “outside” of man, which is not conceptualized in order to be understood, made relevant and efficacious, and applied to the promotion of man’s identity. And there is nothing conceptualized which is not a function of man’s inherent ability to conceptualize.
From this I argue that reason is simply the internal rational consistency of the “conceptual paradigm” as I call it (I’m not a linguist by trade; they probably have an “official” name for that to which I am referring). Meaning, man’s ability to take the concepts he uses to organize and reconcile himself to his environment, and thereby create his own specific identity, cannot contradict one another.
In other words, man’s relationship to his environment cannot be paradoxical (as in “contradictory”), and the only way to assure that this is not the case is to reject descriptions of reality which are, within the conceptual framework–which is man’s only means by which to reconcile himSELF to his Environment (the basis for “existence)–mutually exclusive.
For example, if we believe that John Immel (of spiritualtyranny.com, and a friend, a philosophical critic of mine, and a brilliant thinker and deft writer) is both determined by God and yet also has free will, we have violated conceptual consistency, since “determined” and “free-willed” cannot both have the same absolute reference. John Immel cannot be given the characteristics of abstract concept X and Y when X and Y are conceptual opposites. And this means that the assertion must be false. John Immel cannot be both determined and have free will, because it defies reason (conceptual consistency) and thus cannot be a valid explication of “reality”, since “reality” is, in fact, its own concept. And if reality is a concept then its definition must be non-paradoxical; that is, it cannot be defined by conceptual characteristics which are antipodal. If we attempt to explain “truth” by appealing to conceptual opposites as its fundamental basis we have violated reason; and since reason is the only way to arrive at truth, we cannot violate reason and still claim truth.
Further, if truth is the means by which man’s SELF, man’s identity, is affirmed, a violation of truth is in fact a violation of morality, since man is the root conceptualizing agent and thus all truth rests with him as reference. If he is denied, nothing can be called good (or evil), because “good” can no longer be defined, since the means to apprehend truth, man’s ability to conceptualize SELF, is invalidated. Truth and morality are corollaries, I submit, and both are a function of reason.
Therefore to concede conceptual paradox as the basis for “reality” is both false AND evil, is my point. Man’s existence is affirmed by truth; and since man is he who possesses the ability to conceptualize, he is the one whom truth serves. And for truth not to serve him is evil. Put simply: insofar as truth and morality are corollaries, so are evil and lie.
That which is said to be true cannot be predicated upon conceptual opposites. Concepts are used by man to promote the primary concept of SELF upon the Environment, and this is not possible if those concepts used to promote the SELF are found to contradict on their way to concluding with the SELF as the metaphysical absolute. This is the philosophical equivalent of doing a maze puzzle and claiming you arrived at the “END” by drawing a straight line from “START”. You cannot blow through all the dead ends and say you’ve correctly arrived at the logical conclusion. It just doesn’t work that way.
According to all of the above rationale, in order to condemn me as a subjectivist means that one must show how I can proclaim conceptual consistency as reason, and reason as truth, and truth as goodness, while at the same time denying that other human beings can be conceptualized any other way except as full-fledged metaphysical singularities. In other words, as THEMSELVES, or OTHER SELVES.
But here’s the problem with doing that: Since they can recognize ME as not THEM, and consistently and empirically use and apply the concept of I, and ME, and MYSELF, just as I do, it is impossible to define them except as SELVES without violating the conceptual paradigm and thus violating reason and truth and morality. Therefore, in the interest of maintaining conceptual consistency, according to my philosophy, I must assume that I am NOT the only SELF in existence. It would be a violation of the conceptual paradigm to call ME the only true SELF, and then relegate all other human beings to the status of mere objects. Rationally, this simply does not work. A chair, a car, a tree, a breeze do not use the pronoun “I” or “me”; nor do they refer to me as “YOU”. Not even Artificial Intelligence (which is a completely false threat, and is based on the assumption that human awareness is a function of unconscious particles coming together as a function of the “causal” laws of physics which “govern”…which, um…yeah, unconscious cannot by defintion = conscious)…yes, not even Artificial Intelligence can refer to its own “style”, its hopes and dreams, placing itself at the very center of a conceptual paradigm by which it is understood by the very structure of what comprises it, that Truth is meant to serve it, and not the other way around. A talking computer cannot pontificate upon or exegete its feelings or dreams or make itself as the subject of a “future” or “past”. Only the human being can do that.
And even if the computer could do this it would not invalidate my argument; for we define a sentient being not by its body or its “objective” material form, but its ability to recognize itself as its own existential constant; its own metaphysical absolute. “I” means not the body, it means the root by which all that is defined as existing, as an IS, has any relevance or meaning or purpose or truth or goodness at all. In other words “I” is a metaphysical concept, not a physical one.
But what my critics argue is that somehow my philosophy demands that I observe humanity as a thing, not as a SELF; which I declare is impossible according to my rational plumb line: reason. Which I define as conceptual consistency.
On the contrary, it is not my, but their objectivist, empiricist philosophy which demands human beings must be things, not metaphysical singularities; not sentient agents; not thinking SELVES. They are the ones who demagogue “objective reality” as being a function of the “laws of physics”, which are unseen, unknowable apart from “material reality”, and unable to effect or affect anything at all absent material reality first, and man’s ability to conceptually organize reality before that.
It is their philosophy, not mine, which must deny any that another human being outside of oneself has any intrinsic character. Their philosophy must proclaim consciousness an illusion and assume that all references to one’s own awareness are either illusory or madness.
It is their philosophy, not mine, which must deny any real efficacy of the senses, and ignore another person’s appeals to “self” and “me”, and to reference “you” and “us”, and dismiss them as merely the predetermined ramblings of programmed organic robots who have no actual understanding of such concepts because such thinking agents simply cannot rationally exist in the “real world” of the “objective” causal universe. Outside of oneself of course. After all, someone must be privy to the “truth”.
It is their philosophy, not mine, which must deny human conceptual consistency as that which is reasonable, fundamentally destroying and rendering inert both truth and morality. It is their philosophy, not mine, which must observe human beings as external objects which can have nothing to do with those concepts which affect the “objective, observing self”, because “self” in this paradigm can only be defined exclusively as the one who can observe his own consciousness–“me, and no one else”–and thus the only one who can claim to properly observe and thus parse reality “objectively”.
They, not me, must assume that “future”, “past”, “love”, “want”, “need”, “hope”, etc. can have nothing to do with others they observe, because they do not concede that a rational conceptual definition of “other person” has anything to do with reality. Other human beings are not products of their own ability to conceptualize SELF, thereby referring to themselves in the first person singular and placing themselves at the center of the conceptual paradigm, just as they do.
It is their philosophy, not mine, which subordinates all humanity to the subjective whims of the only one who can, by their rationale, be “real”.
And who is that?
It is he who calls himself: the observer.
But I do not preach the reality of the observer. I preach the reality of the SELF, who must, in order to rationally define SELF, must define OTHER as his metaphysical equal. Equally aware and equally valuable and equally entitled to the sum and substance of their own lives.
This essay is primarily a response to commenter Wednesday’s World, who contributed a thought in the comments section of my previous post. It can be seen here. I recommend checking it out prior to reading my relatively short response (well, too long for a reply in the comments section, but much shorter than my usual voluble yarns).
Hi Wednesday’s World. Thanks for visiting my page and for commenting.
As one who avers that all movement between bodies is relative, how such movement is observed by the senses may not in fact describe the existent properties of said bodies which are moving. In other words, how we observe things to move relative to us may not necessarily be a true representation of how those things actually exist in space; or rather, in a vacuum of themselves.
Take the duality of light paradox. Science says that light is both a particle and a wave. But this is only because human beings observe it as one or the other depending on the environmental context. But I do not accept the premise that light can be in essence both what it is and what it is NOT simultaneously simply because we observe it that way. And the reason I do not accept the premise is because it violates THE fundamental law of rational non-contradiction. And to violate reason by asserting and inserting a full-on contradiction destroys the very foundation of existence; which precludes man from ever apprehending truth. And this is a recipe for disaster, and is the clarion call for every despot and bloodthirsty tyrant in world history, bar none.
The contradiction implicit within the wave/particle duality of light paradox is the idea that something is both what it is and what it is not–that is, the idea that an object is “both” and “and”, where something, for example, is both A and B while simultaneously being distinctly A and not B, and vice versa. But what is proclaimed to be “both” and “and” is in reality nothing more than “is” and “is not”. This is, by definition, impossible. So I deny the paradox regardless of how we observe light because the philosophical conclusion which such a paradox renders is entirely untenable, and thus must ultimately destroy the very reality of existence. If there can be “truth” within the idea that something can be both an “is” and an “is not”, then truth is itself, fundamentally, a contradiction, and therefore cannot possibly be true. Because to say that something both “is” and “is not” demands the corollary that that same thing is both simultaneously “true” and “false”. In which case Truth (and Lie) cease to have any meaning whatsoever. If truth is not necessarily true, then it is impossible for man to know anything at all. Which renders all discussions moot, and “reality” and “morality” become nothing more than a matter of who has the biggest gun (or bomb, or sword, or stake, or dunking chair) and the willingness to use it.
You want conspiracy? Try looking at the existential assumptions which drive the very meaning and relevancy and purpose of what is observed, and not simply at what thing is observed. In fact, to ask people to spend so much time examining and questioning the physical nature of what is observed, as though ideas are a function of the sensory data and not of the individual ability to exist as a categorical and absolute SELF…well, that to me is the real conspiracy here with respect to the flat-earth issue.
Also, to your point about telescopes and horizons, and the heavenly revolutions of the sun and the moon, well…just because I observe from terra firma that the sun revolves around the Earth or that the horizon is flat or that a boat does not “dip” below a curvature on the horizon does not mean that I accept the Earth is flat. This again is a function of my premise that what is observed does not necessarily represent the existent nature–the Truth–of the objects I am observing relative to me.
To understand the true nature of ourselves and other objects which exist, we must examine our philosophical premises and develop irreducible metaphysical and epistemological axioms which are completely consistent, non-redundant, and non-contextual. It is only via this that can we claim to possess Truth.
Truth is not a function of science, as I said in my last post. And thus I find it of little practical use to try to prove empirical scientific data false, simply because at the end of the day, science–with respect to empirical evidence–is going to destroy all contrary arguments, because A. they have MUCH better equipment than you or I do, and are MUCH better at math than everyone else (because they have to be), and mathematics is the single greatest–and, ultimately, the only relevant–means by which all empirically observed data can be classified as actual in the empirical sense and thus evident in the empirical sense; and B. they have no reason to lie or to cover up anything they discover, such as a flat earth, because, again, truth is not a function of empirical data but a function of the philosophical premises by which any of that data has any relevancy or meaning to humanity–or, more specifically, to the existence and the essence of the individual human being. In other words, scientists, or rather, scientific empiricists (because not all scientists are necessarily scientific, mathematical, and empirical determinists) only have to convince people that THEIR existential interpretive premises are the correct ones (e.g. causal determinism, consciousness as illusion, the reality and deterministic force of Space and Time, the material transcendence and universal “governance” of physical laws, the transcendent, autonomous and self-contained existence (and thus causal power) of Abstraction, such as mathematical proofs). After that, they can be perfectly truthful about what they observe as the physical properties of the universe and the objects in it. Because once you control the interpretive philosophical premises–once you are in charge of the axioms…the irreducibles–everything becomes a direct function of those premises. There is nothing then to be gained by lying about empirical data because all such data MUST inevitably and inexorably conform to the premises.
We need to understand that reality is a function of what we believe…or rather, our ability to conceptualize, and from this to formulate ideas, not our ability to observe. Because of this, there is simply no reason to lie about the shape of the earth. There is no reason for a conspiracy. Control is a function of who gets to define reality according to the metaphysical and epistemological assumptions we hold about the nature of existence; and by this I mean the nature of HUMAN existence, and by this I mean the nature of individual human existence, because, really, that is the only existence which matters; the only essence which matters. What reality looks like is besides the point. There is no reason to lie about the empirical data–the observed data–because what is observed must simply be the necessary and inviolable result of the premises, period. The premise will and MUST define what is observed, regardless of HOW it is observed. Because what is observed is a direct function of the premises we hold about the nature of reality…of existence, of essence. And this is because reality is not a function of empirical observation, but of philosophy; of ideas. Philosophy…the ability of man to know himself and to know what he is not is the root of Truth. Philosophy defines material reality as a function of man’s metaphysical essence. And all that man observes MUST comport and WILL comport to the irreducible philosophical axioms, be they rational or irrational. It is our job to make sure they are rational. Then, when we do, we can know that what is observed can be described rationally, and reality can be established because Truth will have been bestowed upon what is seen. But the form of what is seen is not the issue. In itself, the form of the Earth is irrelevant. Thus, there is no reason to lie about it. There is no reason for a conspiracy.
You observe something. You reproduce what is observed in various contexts in order to establish that its pattern is one of uniform consistency. Then you create an arcane (but practical and imminently utilitarian) mathematical proof for the observed event, substituting particulars (e.g. the apple, the tree, the ground) with abstract universals (e.g. x, y, and z). And then, suddenly, seemingly without regard to the destruction, war, torture, abuse, psychological obliteration, and bloodshed you are initiating you proclaim the mathematical proof not a conceptual abstraction devised by man to organize his environment to his own promotion and pleasure but as the “language” of an actual autonomous cosmic governing AGENT, or FORCE, which determines by its power every action (with respect to the movement in question…that is, the movement to which the mathematical proof relates) of every object in the universe.
Now, to be fair, this is most likely due to the sheer and staggeringly immense power of mathematics to enable man to manipulate his environment to his own will and whim and to codify it conceptually thus making it universally accessible to all men, which grants the illusion I think of some kind of cosmic, causal universality. And this rather than a form of intentional malevolence whereupon a certain group of impish nerds in lab coats and comb-overs wish to subject and subdue and subordinate the vast “unenlightened” masses to their whims and pleasures. Alas, we have the institutional Church of ALL religions for that. Satan is always in the place everyone has been convinced he is not, I suppose.
Finally–and this is not nearly as important as the aforementioned points–I still insist that the most glaring “scientific” flaw in the flat-earth theory is the fact that gravity is uniform upon the world. That is, no matter where you stand, you weigh the same. This could not be possible if the earth were flat. A disc shaped earth, or a one dimensional earth, would demand an entirely different gravitational rubric. This would affect everything in the universe–from the revolution of the sun and the moon to the position of the stars in the sky to how you looked to what you could do to how you identified yourself as “human”, if there could even be such a thing (there couldn’t, I guess is my point). In other words, if it weren’t for a round earth you could not take issue with the scientific data, or claim your own as a counter-proof, in order to deny a round earth because the data wouldn’t exist in its present condition in the first place.