Quora answer: Why is it that which ‘is’, is? Why are we? Where would we be if we were not? And last of all, is there an answer?

Jul 06 2013

Why is it that which ‘is’, is?
Let’s go back to a point on which I harp, which is that “is” as a grammatical construct is unique to Indo-European languages. So “is” is something different than we imagine. It is not some universal property like Existence. So this makes the answer to your question a bit more complicated than one might expect. There is really no good short answer to your question. There was for some unknown reason a grammatical mutation in Proto-Indo-European and that basically changed the world, because the Indo-Europeans discovered horse power and took  over everything they could long ago, and then recently they colonized the rest of the world and just through shear daring and violence and rapaciousness they took over everything worth having in the world. My theory is that this is not unrelated to Being as a central term in the Indo-European language. But substantiating that would take a long argument and those are not popular on Quora. But to summarize, “that which is” is an illusion, but a very potent one. The reason why is that it tends to give metaphorical connections between things that would otherwise remain mere similes. And this has implications for integrating things in thought, which has implications for our creation of technologies. Ultimately we do not know why this unique grammatical change happened. There is no why, or if there was it is lost in the mists of time. We do not know that much about Proto-Indo-European, and we know hardly anything about how it differed from the languages that it split off from. It is always already lost as Heidegger likes to say about such things.
Why are we?
If you means humans, then that is an equally capricious quest for origins. Human origins just like animal and plant, i.e. life’s origins are also always already lost.
Where would we be if we were not?
Well one thing we could be is one of the other non-satiate humanoids, that mysterious disappeared while humans become dominant. The other even bleaker answer is non-existent completely if life never arose, or animals did not split from plants, or if mammals did not survive when dinosaurs all died off, etc.
And last of all, is there an answer?
Basically the answer is only proof by existence. We are here. Evolution with us as a final improbable outcome did happen. After the extinction of other humanoids Indo-Europeans did arise as a dominant culture, and they did have this grammatical abnormality, and they did take over everything in prehistory they could, and they continued to do it down though history every chance they got, and they were more successful at that than other humans down through history, just like humans were more successful than other humanoids, and mammals were more successful after a certain asteroid hit than any other species except insects. And life was more successful on earth than anyone might have imagined when it started out as just a few one cell organisms somewhere.

So there is an answer but you are probably not going to like it. The answer is no one knows Why. All we know is That this happened in the way it did to make globalization the next bit to take over everything on the planet, in the course of which we really do not seem to care if the whole planet dies or not. So if we are successful, no one will care in the future if Earth becomes like Venus though our exalted efforts of taking over everything redoing it in our own image, and destroying everything that stands in our way. You know all the stuff that Nietzsche identified with the Blond Beast, and which he identified with as part of himself.

Now that we know that all humans outside of Africa have Neanderthal genes from one of two species co-species, it is tempting to hypothesize that this difference came from that marriage of necessity somehow. I love the irony that it is only those from Africa that are real humans with no Neanderthal mixture. Indo-Europeans oldest language based on roots not grammar is probably the Hittites, and they were in the area of Turkey it seems originally. Two of the oldest civilizations existed right on that boundary where Neanderthals and Humans met. But we know that there was an older Nomadic civilization based in Turkey that was much older than these civilizations. It is still up in the air as to whether Neanderthals spoke language. Sumerian is a unique language unlike all others, and Indo-European has a unique feature, and we know these two languages interacted because they shared loan words with each other. Indo-Europeans were known to the Sumerians as the Ker, and they lived to the north, and they were conquered by the Sumerians, and perhaps driven out into the steppes. So back at the dawn of civilization these two uniquenesses were in contact an agglutinative language on the one hand that has not counterpart and proto-Indo-European that turned into Hittite on the other. This was of course long after the Neanderthals vanished. However, both of these mythologies have the idea that there were Titans which we see in the Vedas as the Asuras, and we see in Sumerian by a set of gods whose names with the prefix En, like Enki or Enlil etc. And we know that the idea  of the gods of the Greeks came from Sumeria via Mesopotamia in their long cuneiform tradition of learning. God of Egypt are quite different. When the Sahara dried up lots of Saharan extraction peoples (like Berbers) poured into Egypt. There are no gods like the titans among those peoples.

So let us jump to a wild conclusion, just for the heck of it, that Titans were the gods of the Neanderthals and that Sumera and Indo-Europeans were more heavily influenced by the Neanderthals than were the Egyptians who where not quite yet Out of Africa. This might explain how we can have two such different cultures right next to each other. The desert where the Semites lived might have been a gap between the Human and the Human plus Neanderthal civilizations. Now it is really strange that Western culture traces itself back to these four groups two old settled civilizations and two groups of Nomads one between the two settled civilizations and one further West in Turkey which is actually older, i.e. the Indo-Europeans. Sumerian language is built up by gluing bits together. The strange concept of Being in Indo-European languages is a way to connect otherwise disparate things. In effect one builds up complex word/sentence forms by gluing things together and the other does the same thing in meaning giving a semantic glue to connect disparate concepts via metaphors. What if these uniquenesses were somehow lefts over from the Neanderthal influence? On the other hand Egyptian and Semitic languages are very much alike. The difference is that you can have roots with one to five consonants in ancient Egyptian, while you can have only three consonants (or rarely four) in Arabic. So there is something that Semites and Egyptians have in common too. Let us hypothesize that humans when they encountered Neanderthals at the gates of Africa in Egypt, and different responses. Some stayed in Africa and continued to live along the Nile. Some ventured into the nomads land between Egypt and Sumeria who were the Hebrews and because it was mostly desert they remained mostly unaffected by Neanderthal culture. But those who ventured further were affected more. What do we know about Neanderthal culture? It was very static compared with human culture. Human culture started off at the Neanderthal baseline but then sometime later with Cro-Magnon took off to produce a variety of cultural items undreamt of by the Neanderthals. So what we can gather from the material culture of Neanderthals is that they liked continuity, and did not change their material culture readily. We note that languages have traces of the difference between Mass/Noncount concepts, and Set/Count concepts. Being is a Mass-like concept, Agglutinative Syntax also seems mass-like. On the other hand our culture has a marked preference for Set-like approaches to things that plays down mass-like approaches, yet each has their own logic. So lets really go out on a speculative limb here and say that the Mass-like aspects of language, such as you get in Chinese is an influence from the Neanderthals. Let us assume that Set like features have a human origin. This is supported by the precision and set like character of Egyptian and Semite languages and how words are produced in an almost mathematical way in the roots by the combination of consonants. So if we were to take this hint seriously then we would think that Proto-Indo-European and Sumerian language might be two human hybrid reactions to the Mass like character of Neanderthal languages. We are going to assume for the moment that material culture is a sign of the presence of language. And in those languages there is a difference between the Old and New Gods, Titans and Olympians. Titans were beaten and sent to Tartarus, somewhere even deeper than Hades. Olympians are very hybrid human like. Titans might be thought to be more like the Titans. Before that Heaven and Earth were split. Before that was the lost god Alalu who had no partner that only shows up in the Hittite version of the Genealogy of the generations of gods. Titans ruled a long time before Olympians overthrew them. Olympians were new comers, they were human all to human. Among them is one Indo-European god preserved from the Indo-European invasions, which was Poseidon. Notice that the agglutinative original language that gave rise to cuneiform writing was very long lasting. It was a very conservative cultural institution that other cultures took up and preserved. Indo-European culture on the other hand had something that it preserved for a long time which was the anomaly of Being. In fact it means what purdures, what lasts. It means what is unchanging. In Sumerian there is no Being, but only a copula, which is the simplest from of connector a language can have. On the Egyptian and Semitic side there are names for existence that are preserved in Arabic and Hebrew as Wajud and Hayy. In Egyptian there are two terms for existence that are different plus a term for existence creating itself out of nothing. So the Eastern side of the great divide were united in seeing existence clearly of in two forms. But on the Western side there was Being which was stratified like the Indo-European Caste structure and like the Gods of the Indo-Europeans as discovered by Dumazil. But the Sumerians had only copula in the word ME, but this also had another meaning as a noun which was a cultural mechanism like a Tattva. Innana stole the Me from Enki (or was it Enlil). Thus on the Eastern side there are nihilistic extremes inscribed in opposite cultures of copula that also means tattva of culture or all-encompassing Being that is stratified with in Caste, Gods and the Roots of Being. On the Sumerian side one word is both the copula and the variety of cultural fundamental forms. Each in its own very different way bring together unity and diversity. And now we can be pretty sure that the Indo-European nomadic way was the older one.

No matter how wildly we speculate all this is actually lost in the oblivion of origins that will never be known. But we can guess that the Indo-European way is a direct response to the mingling of Neanderthal and Human cultures. Perhaps they wanted to get to what purdures in Neanderthal material culture that never changes. So they displaced the permanence of Knowledge onto this anomalous concept of Being. Perhaps the Sumerian culture was a later reaction. But the fact that they both have Titan like gods means that there must have been some connection between these cultures beyond loan words and the fact that they fought each other at the dawn of civilization.

Plato talks about the war between ancient Athens and Ancient Atlantis. Atlantis was a civilization in the ocean ruled over by a group of kings sired by Poseidon. Ancient Athens had a social structure remarkably like that which shows up in most Indo-European cultures. These are nihilistic opposites and it is the city of the Laws that is the balance point between them which was away from the influence of the seas, which by the way are masses and are what bound Africa. The ancient Athenians are a lot like the Pandavas and the Atlantans are a lot like their nemesis who were brothers born from an iron stone. The Mahabharata is the closest thing we have to the TitoMachia. So let’s just speculate even further and say that the Ancient Athenians were the Indo-Europeans and the Atlantans were the rulers over the sea, i.e. standing in for the Neanderthals and their Gods. Poseidon is a Mass related God if there ever was one. But strikingly he rides a chariot pulled by horses in the waves, which is an Indo-European invention. So these are two nihilistic images of the same group yet one is ruler of masses and the other divides society into sets. Being is a mass substance but at the same time there are the meta-levels of Being that separates it out into set like strata. What I am saying is that perhaps the strife between Humans and Neanderthals as well as their coming together is a contradiction at the heart of Indo-European culture from which we never disentangled ourselves because They are now us. We are the Other. Yet we want to conquer the Other. We cannot escape who we ARE.

This speculation has been brought to you by our sponsor Long Posts of America. If you stay with us we will definitely put you to sleep. This is the way we answer silly questions, with more silliness.

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