Archive for July, 2011

Quora answer: What are the most fascinating known unknowns?

Jul 09 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

From the point of view of Philosophy, one of the great known unknowns concerns the nature of Knowledge itself.

Another related known unknown is why the Indo-Europeans developed Being with the qualities of Knowledge, but which is an illusion. And what is the relation between this unique indo-european development and the fact that Indo-Europeans have been a dominate player on the world stage throughout known human history.

Metaphysics is the core of Philosophy and it is made up of Epistemology and Ontology. It is interesting that in the Indo-european languages the most broken roots are those of Being and Having. We can argue that Having is a way of approaching knowledge. We say we “have” knowledge. So the question is whether having knowledge is just as illusory as Being’s perdurance. It could be that the split between Knowledge and Being is a symmetry breaking that does not exist in truth, in reality. The standing of existence is perhaps unified in this respect unlike the standing toward the world of Being/Knowing.

So in essence the greatest known unknown is the standing of knowledge itself. But even if we knew the standing of knowledge itself, then there is the question as to how something could be first an unknown unknown then a known unknown, then a known known. And for that matter what is the relation between known unknowns and unknown knowns. Our question here is about known unknowns. But are there unknown knowns as well. We have a whole discipline that deals with the unconscious which would answer yes. What happens when things are pushed into forgetfulness or even into oblivion, do they actually become unknown unknowns again or are they unknown knowns.

So if we were to list some unknown knowns what phenomena would we include? On the one hand we think we can forget and even lose completely what is known into oblivion, but is this true? Are there not always some trace left. For instance, the example given in another answer of Göbekli Tepe. It was in oblivion for us but now it has come back. We knew it once in our history, and even built it, but we covered it up, and now it is back to haunt us with our own ignorance of our own prehistory and origins. We are in a similar position with the deciphering of the Egyptian Language and the Sumarian Languages, we can no longer count their civilizations as forgotten in the mists of time, but much of it remains, and can now be understood but it has still not been completely incorporated into our own notions of our history which starts in our common consciousness with the Greeks, when they were just one step in a long line of various civilizations that have come and gone and left their mark in us.

But ultimately we must track back to the unknown unknowns that loom all around us, like the multiverse within which we are now thinking our universe must be embedded. It is something that will always probably be pure speculation. But that is our way of dealing with an unknown unknown, we make something up. Or like Dark matter and Dark energy. These are names for we know not what, and may never know. Unknown unknowns when they first arise are seen as discrepancies in our data, then we name it, and then we spend a long time not knowing how to proceed to make them unknown knowns. Unknown knowns are the next stage where we really know what is unknown, for instance in Quantum Theory where we have tons of proof that things work a certain weird way but cannot understand it. But eventually these transition into known unknowns, i.e. things that are well defined gaps in knowledge like for instance P=NP or other conjectures that are not yet proven. People work toward the answers, and everyone knows exactly what remains unknown, and they also will be able to recognize when the problem is solved because it is very well defined. Finally there is known knowns where we solve the conjecture and we know the answer, and then it is just a matter of making it more accessible to others as another piece of knowledge among myriad others. But even then we still do not know what knowledge itself is despite being intimate with it, and also we hardly understand its context which is Life, Consciousness and the Social.

Now since there seems to be a series here by which things come into existence, then it behooves us to attempt to understand it in terms of the emergent event. Lets guess that the kinds of Being are what separate these varioius relations between known and unknown.

Oblivion = Ultra Knowledge = Singularity = Learning^4 = no traces = unknowable
Unknown Unknowns = Wild Knowledge = Lost = Learning^3 = Forgotten
Relflexive Special System
Unknown knowns = Hyper Knowledge = Exploration = learning to learn
Autopoietic Speical Systems
Known unknowns = Process Knowledge = Learning
Dissipative Special System
Known Knowns = Pure Knowledge = integrated into the body of knowledge.
knowns = comprehended eventities and facticity concerning states of affairs.

This is the basic structure of the Emergent Event expressed in terms of epistemology rather than ontology. It shows how the Special Systems intertwine with the Meta-levels of Knowledge that relate to Bateson’s meta-levels of Learning (Steps to the Ecology of the Mind). Knowledge has perdurance in the sense that once something important is known, try to forget it, it is very difficult. Thus knowledge is the most stable thing in our experience, yet we really do not possess it because we don’t know where it is when we are not expressing it in the appropriate context at right time. We say we have knowledge but where is it? We don’t know where it is when it is not needed. We say in memory, but there is a lot of memory that is not knowledge. Much of memory has to do with memories of sensations. But where is it that the stable pieces of knowledge are kept?

We know that Knowledge is part of an emergent hierarchy which goes something like this:

Knowledge ***

Knowledge is the central element in this hierarchy with regard to the individual which are the levels in Bold, while the interleaved hierarchy is social. Unlike the emergent Hierarchy of the schemas that have a gap in the middle where the special systems appear, in this case the central position is taken by knowledge with its odd mixture of perdurance and lack of whereness. Knowledge is also key to our process of Experience. Following Plato Kant concentrates on Reason, and the role it plays as central, but much that we know from experience is unreasonable. And part of it is the sexual sense of knowing as a euphemism for sexual experience. Knowledge is wider than reason and ultimately more important to our survival even though reason plays a key role.

Now if knowledge plays this key role and its perdurance is unquestioned, then our real question is why there is a detour into Being within the Indo-European tradition. We should not kid ourselves that there is not illusion in cultures that only have existence, that is why we call emptiness and void interpretations of existence. There is dukkah, maya, dunya that covers over existence too, but in our case there is an extra level of illusion that produces delusion especially when mixed with action on the basis of illusion. And in this case two wrongs do not make a right, but it really carries is only further astray.

I am going to speculate that when you have two levels of illusion, basic illusion that covers over existence as interpenetration and advanced illusion that sees perduence in things by postulating a substrata that perdures as things change we get by the layering of illusion (dukkha, maya, mara, dunya) that we get a mirroring effect within illusion itself, Illusion becomes reflexive. Now illusion itself is already very complex and tricky without this reflexive quality, so when we get the mirage of the mirage, so to speak, i.e. raise illusion to a power then we get something very complex, as well as something contradictory to experience where we see that the only thing that does not change is change itself, and paradoxical due to the reflections of contradiction in the reflexivity, and absurdity in which paradoxes reflect each other.

Now if this were true, then we would see that Being is really a mirroring of Existence because Existence is composed of the Special Systems seen as supra-rational, but Being is building up a similar hierarchy within the reflexivity of illusion going from contradiction to paradox (which we know from Spencer-Brown and Hellerstein are twinned and entwined) to Absurdity where paradoxes are twinned and entwined.

So Being is an artificial mimicking of Existence within illusion. That is an interesting result, which if true would have broad implications for our understanding of the Indo-European linguistic project that produced Being as a unique and anomalous linguistic structure.

This reminds us of the myth of Nephele, where Zeus gets wind that someone wants to have an affair with Hera, and so he makes a duplicate copy of Hera called Nephele, whom that character makes advances toward and is then caught and punished. But now there is the problem of two Heras running around the original and the copy. Hera forces some mortal to marry Nephele to get rid of her. But what this story does is it places mirroring as a feminine theme to the extent that there is in the myth self-mirroring (cloning) and all the problems that produces. What you get is the interplay of the copy with the original, and in our case within the Western worldview that gives us Plato’s Divided Line which is basically the interspace between Existence and the doubled illusion of Being. Doubling of illusion does not take us back to existence, but into more and more rarified realms of self-deception.

Getting back to the question, we have seen that the meta-levels of knowledge can be conceived as the interplay between known and unknown reaching out from the unknowable and become an image of the emergent event, i.e. the transition from the unknowable to the known of something new, or something old and lost like an old civilization or a new continent as a frontier for exploration. Emergent events can either be generated internally by looking at the deeper assumptions of our theories, or externally by discovering new phenomena that are recognized as completely new and actually existing even though they go against our whole way of looking at existence (super-conductivity when it was first found for instance). So if we talk about emergent knowledge then we do not need Being at all. But once we focus on ontology and project that it has the perdurence of knowledge, then the focus shifts to emergent eventities (ontic emergence) under the auspices of Being, and Emergence and Nihilism then become a pair of Nihilistic opposites which merely means that they are reflected in the complex mirrors of illusion upon illusion.


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Quora answer: Which character was deemed as the first existential crisis in literary history?

Jul 09 2011 Published by under Uncategorized



Topicmarks Summary:

Existential Crisis?

There is no existential crisis per se, but a crisis that occurs when one comes out of Being and realizes that its projections are illusions.

But this situation is muddied by the fact that many of the so called existentialists never make it out of Being and so what is called an existential crisis is a catastrophe within Being.

If you mean realization of anomie or lack of meaning in existence when it is realized that the projections are empty, then the crisis itself is implicit in Being as an illusion, seeing existence where value projections cease has no crisis. You don’t have a crisis when you pick up a rock beside the road and then lose it. You have a crisis when you find gold then lose it. But ultimately gold and the rock beside the road are the same except for our valuing Gold due to its relative rarity.

The better example are diamonds, the only reason they are considered valuable is that there is a monoply artificially maintained that takes the worlds surplus of diamonds and stores them to create an illusory scarcity which then allows what is essentially worthless to have a high price. That and advertising like “Diamonds are forever” seems to work to maintain this illusion of their worth.

The person who realizes that diamonds are worthless and does not invest in them has no crisis. The one who has crisis is the one who buys of lots of diamonds and because he believes the advertising, or because his bride believes it, and then realizes he was gypped because they are actually worth as much as sand, well maybe a little more. Artificial Diamonds are colored and are too perfect and so they are differentiated from so called “Real” diamonds. But we can essentially produce as many diamonds as we want, everyone could have real diamonds rather than paste because diamonds are worth about as much as paste, well perhaps a little more.

The tragedy in all this is of course Blood Diamonds, i.e. a few diamonds that escape from the monopoly due to the arms trade. People actually die because these renegade diamonds are worth quite a bit due to the artificial scarcity created by the monopoly. And of course the whole idea of Blood Diamonds is par of the advertising crusade to keep the Monopoly as tight as possible because these leaks could make people realize that diamonds are worthless. So the advertisers create an artificial difference and blame the drug and arms traders for a situation that need not exist. We don’t talk about blood gold.

Anyway, the fact that diamonds are in reality just like the stones beside the road in their actual value is a real irony. But it points up the way we create illusory values, like printed money for instance, and then these illusory signs of possible exchange that are given value, and then that shapes the constraints on our lives that otherwise would not exist, but also opportunities that would not exist. The constraints and opportunities can be very real to us in spite of the fact that they are founded on illusory distinctions that are instituted in Being but do not really exist.



Answer [to who is the first “existential” character] is Achilles who is the first character in our tradition who reacts to nihilism. But there is no existential crisis as such but a crisis with respect to Being.


Achilles redeems himself from this accusation[of being a brute]. It is the river that is the “brute” and to which he is contrast. But he redeems himself when his humanity returns after his berzerker rage after then death of Patroclus and in which he killed Hector. He gives Hector’s father the body of his fallen son, and in that we see the fact that Achilles will never see his own father again, as does Odysseus. Understanding the pathos of the situation requires that we go back to the marriage of Thetis his mother, and recognize that only she and Demeter wear the black cloak of greif one for the son and the other for the daughter, and so these two stories are parallel. All the structures of our worldview are exemplified in these epic, structures we have forgotten about, or that have been lost in oblivion. These stories are free of the anxiety of influence because they are the primordial epics of the Indo-European worldview which we only see properly when we compare them carefully with the later and not as deep Mahabharata. But in the Mahabharata we get the whole picture that is missing from the Iliad and Odyssey. We have to go back before the anxiety of influence to the poems that were preserved because they were perfect, but perfect in relation to what, perfect in relation the structure of the indo-european worldview, because they exemplify its structure perfectly. “Existential angst” in most cases merely is a confrontation with the contradiction, paradox, and absurdity of Being itself. It does not reach to the nonduality of existence that is beneath the superstructure of myriad veils of Illusion (Maya) produced by Being (Sat). There is no crisis of Existence only a crisis of Being when the illusion is shattered, but you can only have illusions in contrast with reality and reality is an aspect of Being as well as Existence. But existence is neither aspect nor anti-aspect while quintessence is both aspect and anti-aspect. Quintessence is the key, it is the philosophers stone. In Achilles in his realization of the nihilism of the war (i.e. Trojans and Acheans are the Same) then Achilles exemplifies passivity, that then causes his “friend/lover” to be killed, and then he switches over into the Indo-European bezerker rage and becomes like a force of nature, killing indiscriminately, and it is this rage that allows him to overcome Hector. But passivity and the bezerker rage are artificial extreme opposite actions that are the reaction to the realization of the nihilistic situation and the consequent loss of meaning of Achilles. We must remember that Achilles is a tragic character with one weak spot, otherwise he is like a god.


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Quora answer: How does Heidegger overcome the problem of nihilism?

Jul 08 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Ah. at last a question we can really go somewhere with. Simple answer is he doesn’t but not because he did not try. And we can learn a lot from his attempts. Best book to define Nihilism is the one by Stanley Rosen. In that book he contrasts Heidegger and Wittgenstein’s philosophies as nihilistic opposites. While you read that book, I will go back and finish the answer to the other question.

. . . [time passes] . . .

Now why is this a good question?

This is a good question because it is one of Heidegger’s major concerns, and because Nihilism is the matter that is produced at the heart of the Western worldview. And because Heidegger attempted mightily to overcome nihilism but failed. And from his failure we can learn a lot about ourselves and perhaps even get a glimpse of what we need to do to overcome nihilism ourselves. Books such as that of Stanley Rosen have that shows that Wittgenstein and Heidegger have philosophies that are nihilistic opposites, and thus that is a beginning of an answer to the question because if it is true that Wittgenstein’s philosophy is the nihilistic opposite of Heidegger then it cannot be that Heidegger escaped nihilism.

Topicmarks summary:

So where do we start? Both Heidegger and Nietzsche discuss the inherent nihilism of Western culture. But it is Rosen who makes it clear what Nihilism is, which is when extreme opposite duals are recognized to be the same thing, so that one realizes that being caught up with the struggle between the duals previously is really meaningless. Nihilism is then that which sucks meaning out of our lives creating not just alienation bu also anomie (meaninglessness a term from Durkheim). A good example is how we get caught up in the our politics between Democrats and Republicans, but actually it is incumbents, from either party that rule with sovereignty (they pass laws for the rest of us that do not apply to themselves). The locus classicus of this is in the Iliad where Agamemnon takes Bresius from Achilles, and Achilles realizes that the Achaeans are no different from the Trojans who allowed Paris to steal Hellen. Achilles abjures combat and sulked until his “friend” Patroclus is killed wearing his armour, then Achilles goes into a berzerker rage, thus the reaction to the nihilism of the identity between Trojans and Achaean’s, is nihilistic going from the extremes of passivity to the extreme of Berzerker mode. He does not come out of this extreme state until Hector’s father comes to claim his body, and this reminds Achilles how he will never again see his own father. Achilles himself is given an extreme choice between living in obscurity a long life and living a short life of glory. Basically the Iliad and Odyssey (and the Mahabharata their Indian counterpart) are a lesson on how to live in and cope with the nihilism of our worldview. The ancients recognized the nature of our worldview better than we do.

Ok, so now we know from Rosen’s analysis what Nihilism really is, it is when meaning is sucked out of our existence by realizing that opposites we really believed in and one of which we identified with respect to their struggle are really the same. For instance Fascism and Communism. They are really the same thing even though they are so different. And after the defeat of Fascism then we had the duality between Capitalism and Communism for most of the Twentieth Century, and Baudrillard wrote the book The Mirror of Production to show that they had a similar fundamental assumption: that man was created to produce. Part of nihilism is how enemies come to resemble each other more and more as they struggle against each other. And the strangest thing about Nihilism is the fact that it is the stage setting for Emergence in our culture, i.e. the radical resetting of states of affairs that G.H. Mead describes in the Philosophy of the Future. Emergence and Nihilism are themselves nihilistic opposites, and understanding this duality and its dynamic takes us to the heart of our world view in ways I have described elsewhere.

However, let us return to the question at hand. How did Heidegger try to overcome Nihilism, and why did he fail and to what extent can he be said to have succeeded. We must note that Heidegger studied Nietzsche in great depth during the war because people took Nietzsche as the philosopher who’s works underwrote the Nazi movement. Heidegger wanted that title, and so he studied Nietzsche intensely to try to see how he could overcome Nietzsche’s claim to that title. Heidegger was associated with the Brown Shirts who were for continually revolution under Nazism, and when the coup happened in which the blackshirts assassinated the Brown Shirts then Heidegger lost power and interest within the movement which had foisted him into the limelight as Rector of his University. So the ultimate proof of the nihilism of Heidegger’s philosophy is his association and promotion of Nazism, which due to the holocaust has gained universal condemnation, even though Stalin actually killed more people than Hitler. But it is the fact that he constructed a Death Machine of the concentration camps that was uncovered and shocked the world upon liberation that Fascism is seen as worse than Communism in this respect. At any rate it is pretty amazing that the United States and its Allies managed to defeat both of these extreme opposite ideologies in of the Twentieth Century. One had the greatest army in the world, and the other had the most dedicated and single minded soldiers in the world, and the US managed to beat both of them mostly due to the vast resources of that we had in America. But the whole effort of defeating these two ideological foes completely transformed our country in myriad ways during the last century. Especially it is the way we dominated by the use of technology in warfare that is surprising. And to a certain sense brings us back to Heidegger’s point that all the combatants are being overcome more by technology than we are being overcome by each other by engaging in the struggle. The example of the Abomb is classic, we developed it because we thought the Nazi’s were developing it but then we used it on the Japanese instead due to the fact that we thought that they would fight to the end when we tried to take the Japanese mainland and we were losing about ten thousand men at a time due to the sinking of our troop ships with Kamikaze pilots. Thus began the Japanese fated encounter with Radiation, which has now tragically repeated itself due to the recent Tsunami. The fire bombing of Dresdan and other European cities was equally horrific but those were normal horrors we have grown used to in war. The dropping of the atomic bomb was an extraordinary episode that became the hallmark for the Cold War, because we knew what could happen if World War III ever broke out. The fact that we faced ultimate annihilation of each other each day during the Cold War is the ultimate face of the nihilism of the last century that came from this struggle to the death between ideologies and through that struggle with extreme opposite Ideologies solidified the ideology of capitalism that we see Deleuze and Guattari discussing in Anti-Oedipus. For them Capitalism is the last all engulfing stage of Ideology and its effect is the production of Schizophrenia. This in itself is an extreme and nihilistic statement but it is just one more example of how nihilistic opposites interact with each other such that Capitalist Ideology and Schizophrenia are seen to share some common attributes.

Now lets go into the attempts of Heidegger to overcome the Nihilism posited by Nietzsche in Will to Power as the ultimate core of the Western worldview. Heidegger interprets Will to Power as Will to Will. Will to Power is the fundamental impulse for the stronger to overcome the weaker, and to take charge of affairs in the world. What Nazism and Communism shared was their Will to Power. We can call this the “We will bury you” attitude that calls for hitting of shoes on podiums. Hitler merely said we will conquer you. But both lost out more due to their own internal weakness than anything we did, but still we repelled the enemy, and they recognized ultimately that we were a power to deal with, that we had our own Will to Power based in Democracy and the Concept of radical Freedom of the individualism that underwrites the power of the market within Capitalism. Our foes consider us weak, because our our hubris or our seeming decadence, but each has discovered that we are good rivals and that swearing allegiance to the constitution is a powerful incentive which ultimately is greater than swearing allegiance to any one tyrant. There have only been about five original democratic movements in the world, and the American Revolution was one of them, along with Athens and the Republic of Rome, and the Magna Carta. These civilizations founded on Democracies, but which eventually deteriorated back into Sovereignty after the initial flourishing. However, it is interesting how these rare political experiments had a such a disproportionate effect on history, or at least the history we are interested in, i.e. the history of Europe and the Middle East.

Heidegger placed himself at the center of this political Maelstrom of competing ideologies in the twentieth century, and chose the wrong side, from our rear view mirror look at history as the winners of that world wide conflict. But since the Nazism became seen as intellectually and morally bankrupt. Heidegger could not help but getting stained by this willing association. And the fact that he wanted to be recognized as THE philosopher of the Third Reich makes this all the worse for his reputation. And even though Heidegger’s supporters would like to forget this association, I think that he was actually the Philosopher of that Movement even though he was not recognized as such, because it is clear that Nietzsche’s philosophy was antithetical to Fascism and the association that was made between his philosophy and Nazism did an injustice to Nietzsche’s Philosophy.
Few I think are going to argue, that it is this association with Nazism and Fascism that did not stain the reputation of Heidegger, and the fact that he wanted to be the philosopher of the movement shows a certain bankruptcy. And part of that is the fact that he did not help Husserl, his teacher, who was born a Jew but converted to Christianity, and eventually ran afoul of the Nazi regime. All of these are damning criticisms. But it tells us something deep about our worldview that the greatest philosophy of the last century was inherently fascist. That contrasts strongly with the inherent superficiality of all the dogmatic attempts at Soviet philosophy. Dialectical Materialism ultimately became difficult to distinguish from religious dogma and eventually had only the substance of pure repetition. So it is ironic that Zizek sees himself as a Communist Philosopher, who when asked about the fall of Soviet Communism said “If you first do not succeed try try again.” It is ludicrous, and probably is a wry joke on his part. By fighting the Fascists America absorbed some of the essential features of fascism, like McCarthyism, the Black List, and the interment of Japanese Americans. By fighting the Communists America made a compromise with its unions in order to make sure that Communism could not gain a foothold here. It instituted collective bargaining and that produced a well to do working class less susceptible to communist ideology. Now that this threat is no longer on the horizons those union rights are now targeted to be rolled back, especially sense all the jobs have been shipped overseas by the multinational corporations. America today as the sole dominate player on the world stage and our empire (the proof of which are our bases throughout the world) has been directly shaped by the ideological battles fought and won in the last century.

An example of Capitalist Ideology is the idea that Markets are self-governing so we do not need any regulation, which led to the financial meltdown. An ideology is a single idea taken to an extreme that becomes the unifying factor for the whole set of ideas, they are fantasies like the communist fantasy of all working people being united in the pledge “from each according to his ability to each according to his need”. Unfortunately the crack in that system was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat which never faded away. With regard to Fascism it is the cult of the Volk (folk) that as a race has a manifest destiny to rule the world. This idea of the mystic union of a people with their Fatherland personified by the Fuhrer, was a central idea in Heideggarian romanticism. Equally it is a fantasy that the invisible hand will take care of everything in the market and we don’t have to have any checks and balances to avoid fraud. Ideology is where one unifying idea taken to extreme is used to organize all other ideas around it. For Heidegger this one idea is Being. For Foucault it was Power. But as Dreyfus points out the structure of Foucault’s theory is precisely the same as that of Heidegger if we just substitute Power for Being. And we can read that in the other direction, because Being can be taken as the ultimate ideology of the Indo-Europeans which Heidegger was taping into. It is a construct made of many fragments of the roots of other words, and so Being and Having are unique in their fragmentation within Indo-European languages and also have a unique meaning. For us what is taken to an extreme and becomes an ideology is the very idea of Being and Heidegger wanted to appropriate this to underwrite fascism as the basic ideology of the Indo-European Volk. One aspect of Fascism was reconnecting with the German Indo-European roots, which is a romantic idea.

Now for Heidegger overcoming the subject/object duality was his initial answer to nihilism that was apparent in Husserl’s phenomenology as an extension of Kantian Idealism. That Idealism had split from Materialism as Marx turned Hegel upside down we saw the split between Fascism which was basically romantic taking after Hegel through the critique of Nietzsche, splitting off from the Early Christian communal practices derived from the Jews and revived by the Antibaptists as well as Greek ideals of Communism that we see in Aristophanes and Plato. Thus the Semitic heritage on the one hand and the Greek equivalent of science fiction put on stage as comedies, were splitting from Indo-European strata discovered by a couple of centuries of Philology. It is interesting that Communism appears in Aristophanes as a joke and in Plato as his picture of Hell in the Republic. It is also interesting that if flourished also independently as part of Christianity several times. But German romanticism was wanting to split off from Christianity and return to the old Indo-European gods, to gods that were vital and did not instill a slave mentality. Communism wanted to take Aristophanes and Plato seriously and produce a “workers heaven” in which the state takes care of everyone, not realizing that by making the state the only employer and owner that this was really just an extreme form of Capitalism, as we see in Communist China today.

Heidegger thought that it was precisely the duality of subject and object that was the problem, and if we got to what was before that then we would uncover the primal strata that connected each of us to the ultimate ideological source which is Being, the purist Indo-European ideology. What Heidegger did not realize was that he was opening up Pandora’s box, and that instead of undermining nihilism he was in the process of intensifying it. It was when Heidegger discovered Being Crossed Out (Hyper Being, Differance) that he became genuinely afraid because he thought he had opened up an infinite regress of kinds of Being. As it turns out this is not true in practice even though it seems like it might be possible in theory. In practice there are only five meta-levels of Being (about the same number of levels as we can go in our meta-Theory-of-Mind ruminations). Heidegger realized that if there were infinite meta-levels of Being that this would be just as nihilistic as Being was as a homogeneous plenum, it in fact is the nihilistic dual of the traditional view of Being.

So Heidegger studied Nietzsche very carefully, and realized that there was an alternative to this which would allow us to get rid of the fundamental distinction of ontological difference between Being and beings. That would be possible if he posited a nonstriated counterpart to striated Being (Sein) which he called Beyng (Seyn). This is the old high German spelling used by Hegel, and if we distinguished Being from Beyng, its dual, and if we interpreted Hegel in those terms then we could see him talking about Beyng and Dasein (Spirit/Ghost/Mind). In Being and Time at a certain point Heidegger identifies Dasein with Geist the romantic ideal of the holy ghost, or the community spirit, which is still there when the leader has gone. This can be seen in the recently translated Contributions to Philosophy (from Ereignis) and in Mindfulness. This is an amazing book which turns Heideggarian scholarship upside down because it is another major book from Heidegger just as fundamental as Being and Time, and under which the interpretation of all of Heidegger changes, because it is a text he kept hidden, but which determined all of his late work. Now we are not going to be able to delve deeply into this very fascinating work here. But we can bring it to bear on the question at hand because it is the second great attempt of Heidegger to solve the problem of Nihilism seen as the theoretically possible infinite regress of kinds of Being. Beyng stands opposite the meta-levels of striated Being as Onefold, Strange, and Unique. While Being is lost in forgetfulness Beyng is lost in oblivion, while Being is receding from us Beyng is bearing down on us and enveloping us before we know it. Beyng is found when we jump over Ontological Difference without making that distinction that generates the kinds of Being.

For me Beyng can be seen as a solution to the age old problem of Meaning. It is a separate orthogonal source of meaning which is freed from its dependence on syntax. Thus I view the concept of Beyng as the dual of Being as a real breakthrough, and it is born out in my study of the Indo-European roots of Being. A new key word is found Ereignis which describes the happening (appropriation) of Beyng, and Dasein has a relation to Beyng as it does to Being but completely different. We might contrast this difference as that between the Last Man and the Umber Man in Nietzsche. Those who know Beyng are yet to come. The age of Metaphysics is the passing of the gods and we are awaiting the passing of the last god for the new era to dawn. Heidegger sees himself as the herald of the new post-metaphysical era, and Nietzsche as the last great metaphysician. By recognizing Beyng Heidegger thinks he has escaped the unfolding of the epochs of Being. But unfortunately this is not true because Being/Beyng has a dual which is Forgetfulness/Oblivion. This is just a deeper level of showing and hiding, presence and absence, identity and difference, truth and fiction, reality and illusion. Beyng is related to the quintessence which is both aspect and anti-aspect just as existence is neither aspect nor anti-aspect. In Being the aspects are separated but in Beyng they are fused. The quintessence of Beyng is like the Philosophers Stone, the ultimate catalyst that transforms everything. It is a possibility in the worldview even if it does not exist. In fact quintessence and existence are mutually exclusive. Quintessence is always virtual. We see it operating in many alchemical texts with their upside down theologies of the earth. Unfortunately giving the quintessence a separate kind of standing called Beyng does not solve the problem of nihilism but only really makes it worse because there is something like Teilhard Chardin’s Noosphere that is invisible but needs to be explained and grounded in philosophical speculation as well as in the tradition. This is not easy. And it is the opposite problem from the kinds of Being. For them we must explain how it can be that the kinds of Being are separated from each other. With Beyng we must explain why everything is collapsed together and fused like a Bose-Einstein condensate. Both are hard to explain, but necessary to understand the full implications of Being itself. Being has this nihilism within it and is not just a homogeneous plenum which is highest but most empty of concepts. It has structure and meaning but they are extreme difference and extreme identity, they are extreme illusion and extreme reality, they are extreme fiction and extreme truth, they are extreme absence and extreme presence all together at the same time in this strange, unique onefold.

So while ereignis of Dasein is suppose to offset its separation into existeniels, it merely produces an antimony to Being which helps elucidates its meaning but does not cast out the demon of nihilism that plagues us due to our denial of existence.

Essentially Beyng/Oblivion/Unstriated and Being/Forgetfulness/Striated are the deeper nihilistic opposites we need to worry about now, not merely those produced by the meta-levels of Being. I call this field of striated and unstriated opposites the Pleroma. The fact that Heidegger got down to the level of the Pleroma in his thought is quite amazing. It is the ultimate infrastructure or substrate of the worldview, the field out of which our Indo-European worldview arises. The Pleroma (Fullness) had a similar position in Gnostic thought, so by analogy I used this term, because there is no specific term for this level in metaphysics, but I do not mean by the term what the Gnostics meant. There is a certain sense in which the Taoist void appears full as the source from out of which everything comes, I mean it in that sense. It is something more fundamental that Fundamental Ontology, and that is what Heidegger meant all along in his later work, but which we only discover later as his unpublished works come to light. It was thought prior to the publication of Contributions to Philosophy that Heideggers ideas were somewhat quirky in his later period. But in the context of the well developed work Contributions it becomes clear that his thought was actually deeper than we realized, and it is us who need to catch up once again, as he again redefines the boundaries of Metaphysics. One thing to note is that Beyng is not the ONE. It is onefold like a knot or something intricately folded so it has a unique structure in spite of being continuous with itself, it embraces differences with itself, being Unique and Strange to us. It is a visitor from afar who is a stranger who bears down upon us to envelop us from a unique perspective that lies outside of Being, but is implicated in Being from the beginning. By taking the perspective of Beyng we are moving toward understand the other beginning than the one which metaphysics represents. We might say that this is a beginning in Repetition, in the sense that Deleuze uses the term to mean its opposite, i.e. that which cannot be repeated, the kind of repetition explored by Kierkegaard and Freud that Zizek things is their great achievement which is a way that they are similar to each other.

If we go back to Parmenides he describes three ways, Being, Non-Being (Existence) and Appearance. Seyn would be the way that these three proto-existentiels are the same Being despite being radically different. Being is in speech and thus related to talk which is for the most part chatter. Non-Being is related to Discoveredness (Befindlichkeit) because Existence is what is found, and what is found is normally boring to us, unless we project value on it. Appearance is related to understanding. Understanding is the combination of Reason and Experience in which they mutually support each other. Kant valorized Experience and warned about Reason being used independently because it leads to antimonies that cannot be resolved. However, this was a reaction against the valorization of Reason over Appearances/Opinions (Doxa) that was the previous imbalance in Western Philosophy promoted by Plato. So Understanding is the combination of our reasoning capability and what appears to us to be the case as a state of affairs in our experience. Understanding is the noesis that is connected to the noema of pure appearance in Husserl’s terms. Thus the three existentiels of Heidegger were there from the beginning in Parmenides routes. Parmenides selected just one way, that of Being (Sein) as the proper way, suppressing existence as Non-Being and Appearance/Opinion (Doxa). But in a way all of these are faces of Being as it is projected by us as Dasein. Dasein is the term for Existence and Ecstasy in German Philosophy, and note that they still think of it as a kind of Being that is there, i.e. imbued with reference. Even the Arabs realized that what they called Wajud was a part of what was meant by Being in Greek. So Non-Being is implied in Being as a substrate of otherness within itself. When you separate Being from Non-Being as Existence then what is left over is the Doxa (appearance/opinion) which is made Present, questioned as to its reality and truth, and which attempts to remain identical with itself through time in a monotonic way. So we note that all the ways of Parmenides that are related to the Existentiels of Heidegger are all parts of Being, but Parmenides attempts to restrict Being to Pure Presence, Pure Identity, Pure Truth, and Pure Reality, and eschews Absence, Difference, Fiction, and Illusion which are thrust into the nether world of existence, and appear to us in doxa because they resist a complete ban which would split Being. Heraclitus on the other hand champions Existence as the Fire of Change. But Seyn was there from the beginning as the strange, unique, onefold of all three ways that together comprise the split between Being and Existence and its result.

Notice that we have the difference between Being (talk=rede, language, unique linguistic feature), Anti-Being (appearance, opinion; Understanding=verstehen, Doxa differing from Ratio), and Non-Being (existence; discoveredness=befindlichkeit). This suggests the Greimas Square. And that square suggests that there is a combination of Non-X and Anti-X so we get the chiasm of Anti-non-X and Non-Anti-X. This kind of Chiasma (reversibility) is indicative of Wild Being but also non-duality because it is like a relativistic interval. Basically the difference between Existence and Pure Being (static, Parmedean, Initiation into the Greater Mysteries), is the difference between the Meta-system and the System. Heraclitian Flux is the same as Process Being (flux and flow, initiation into the lesser mysteries). Process Being is like the flux of continual change we see in existence, the principle of change that Parmenides denies and Zeno turns into Contradictions and Paradoxes. When we distinguish Process Being from Hyper Being (Plato’s third kind of Being), then we are beginning to see the difference between Process Being and Appearance/Opinion (Doxa) what is Doxa but a slippery mercurial residue or supplement to Being in both its major modalities (Stasis and Flow). When we go beyond Anti-Being the only way to do that is to combine the Anti-non-X and the Non-anti-X in a reversible chiasm of the type that is seen by Merleau-Ponty to be the hallmark of Wild Being, but which is also a movement toward non-duality, which we discover when we arrive at Existence having traveled though the other kinds of Being. It turns out that the Special systems are interleaved with the Meta-levels of Being and thus are part of the tacit knowledge and implicate order of Being itself. The hallmark of Existence is that it is interleaved and intertwined with Being. The nondual and the Duality between Monism/Dualism can be seen unfolding in this display of the emergence of Being itself. Being is not One, but is fragmented, both in terms of meta-levels, roots and Peircian Principles as well as by the special systems. But Pure Being attempts to produce the illusion of Oneness. (“One People, One Nation, One Leader”, as the Fuhrer wanted everyone to profess. But this striation that runs through Being is complemented by the unstriated appropriation of the dehiscence by Seyn, or Beyng. For Parmenides there is indecision as to what Heraclitian fire might be, either existence or mere appearances. For Heraclitus there is indecision as to what Static Being might be either mere illusions of stasis in a changing world, or Phenomenological appearances in which Husserl would see the things themselves without the bracketed assumptions that we project on them.

Essentially Seyn and Sein were intertwined from their origin and represented two different beginnings the Metaphysical one and the post-Metaphysical one. But unfortunately post-Metaphysical still contains the idea of Metaphysics merely transformed into its antimony. And it is because Sein and Seyn are antimonies that Heidegger failed to find an answer to Nihilism, and that is because he did not push all the way to nonduality, despite rumors of Asian influence on his thought (Parkes).

Now if one takes the point that Heidegger failed to overcome nihilism, and he is one of the latest of the greatest philosophers in our tradition, up there with Kant, Hegel, Husserl, but perhaps not reaching the level of Aristotle or Plato, then what is the hope of us ever solving this problem within our tradition?

This is a problem that I have attempted to address in my own work. If we can get past the duality of Analytical Philosophy and Continental (Synthetic) Philosophy, then perhaps we can see the real quandary we are in which is that we do not understand our own worldview and its structure that produces nihilism, but also emergence as well as nihilistic duals of each other. Nihilism is the artificially too dark background on which the too light emergent event (novum) can be seen and recognized. Without the continual production of Nihilism there would be no way to see Emergence when it occurs. The intertwining of emergence and nihilism gives us additional clues to the nature of the problem we face. In my own research I tried to understand Continental Philosophies “Kinds of Being” based on the Theory of Higher Logical Types (cf Russell via Copi), as the precondition for emergence within our tradition at all the various scopes: fact, theory, paradigm (Kuhn), episteme (Foucault), ontos (Heidegger), existence (Hegel’s Buddhist version of Nothing), absolutes (Kant’s transcendental framework of Subject/Object and God). I did this work for my first Ph.D. and thought I was done. But then in the midst of a career in Software and Systems Engineering, I continued my studies especially of myth, via Dumazil, and eventually discovered that in the oldest book we have, the Vedas, the difference between the castes of the Gods are precisely the same in their nature as the Kinds of Being discovered as meta-levels by Continental Philosophy. So suddenly it is not just a contemporary aberration, but a very very persistent structure so I came out of Academic retirement and wrote my first very long book called The Fragmentation of Being and the Path Beyond the Void, in which I study ontomythology of the Western worldview, i.e. the fact that when you look at Myth via the meta-levels of Being that it clarifies the meaning of myth. Greek Myth is a users manual for living in a worldview such as ours which generates nihilism which allows us to recognize Emergent events, in which transcendentals become immanent and immanences become transcendental within a new framework after the emergent event. This was just the first of quite a few long books where I explored the ramifications of this idea concerning the intertwining of Being and Existence within our tradition.

From all this research into the Western Tradition, plus various nondual traditions like Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, etc it became clear that the way to avoid nihilism was to make nondual non-nihilistic and therefore non-emergent distinctions. Deleuze refers to this as quasi-Causality, which is the kind of causality that occurs in what I call the Emergent Meta-system which has the dynamic of Leibniz’s monads. The Emergent Meta-system is composed of a normal emergent system conjuncted with the three Special Systems. The Special Systems are a model of Existence which is interleaved with the Kinds of Being. By making this distinction between nondual interpenetrating existence and the fragmented kinds of Being that have a unique, onefold and strange constellation only in Indo-European languages, then we can have at least some hints how go go beyond dualism to make nondual distinctions within Buddhist emptiness or the Taoist void, i.e. at the center of the cyclone of the Oblivion of Beyng and the Forgetfulness of Being at the level of the Pleroma, i.e. the structural field out of which the worldview arises. And the most amazing thing I discovered along the way is that the Western Worldview in spite of being Dualistic outwardly, has a nondual core which is unexplored. And thus we can take the homeward path into that nondual core rather than having to appeal to foreign ideas from various nondual traditions imported like exotic spices (in the form of ideas) from the former colonies. As Jung said, our worldview will not be deeply affected by something foreign to it. What we need is a Homeopathic solution, which is the only way to heal the miasma of nihilism that overwhelms us within our tradition.

We have seen that Seyn has been part of Being from the beginning of our Indo-European tradition as the peculiar pattern of discontinuities, i.e. emergences of the kinds of Being that are differences that make a difference (Bateson) within our tradition. Plato recognized at least three of these emergent levels, Pure Being, Process Being (becoming), and Hyper Being which appears in the Timaeus. So it is hard to deny that this knowledge was not part of our tradition at one time, but it seems it was forgotten only to be rediscovered by Heidegger (and Deleuze, with the connection to the Timaeus shown by Sallis in his book on the Chora). Seyn is not just the signature of discontinuities within Being, but also the haunting of Being by itself beyond its Univocality (cf Deleuze). But the haunting of Being by its lost oneness due to its fragmentation is merely the dual of Being itself, its sinister side that is embodied in the singularity at the level of existence of Ultra Being.

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Is nonduality something “out there,” which exists separate from the world?

Jul 08 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

This is also an interesting question because the answer on the face of it is that with nonduality there is no “out there” as opposed to “in here” because that is a duality, and nonduality attempts to get at what is there prior to the dualistic split, i.e. suchness. But the part of the question that asks about it “existing separate from the world” brings into play what Heidegger calls Dasein, i.e. the kind of existing thing whose ecstasy projects the world within which it finds itself (Discoveredness, Befindlichkeit, i.e. we discover ourselves already within the world that it turns out we project a priori, the projection of that illusion we call Being, which is really a doubled illusion that acts as a reflective mirror, rather than merely what is found, i.e. this and that. Being in our tradition supports the essence of the things “whatness” with a substrate or substance through which things can be the same, though difference, i.e. Tropes operate through it like Metaphor, Metonymy, etc. For Heidegger the world exists though our ecstasy by which we project it temporally as a space in which we can dwell, and BE. And in that space we can experience the process of Becoming. But if we did not have the Parmedian idea of Being as Stasis, (Pure Being) then we could not experience the flow of Heraclitian fire, i.e. change changing everything always. In this it is really only Knowledge that is perdurant but in the Indo-European tradition we project perdurence on things which may also be done by others but not in the unique, strange and onefold way that Indo-Europeans do. Now if we ask what is the distinction between Static Pure Being and Dynamic Process Becoming, since Being is the highest concept, these either have to be mutually exclusive, i.e. something we are dogmatic about, or as Heidegger suggests they may be equi-primordial, in which case Being has kinds, and as such because it is the highest concept, then there must be a third kind of Being (as Plato called it in the Timaeus) which gives this distinction itself a kind of Being. Merleau-Ponty calls that Hyper Being (Derrida calls it Differance [differing, deferring]; Heidegger calls it Being crossed out). And Merleau-Ponty points out that it has an opposite which he calls Wild (Savage) Being using a term from structuralism already overloaded by Levi-Strauss. If we realize that the kinds of Being are meta-levels in the Theory of Higher Logical Types then that is half the battle because then we realize that the difference between the kinds of Being is the greatest that can exist in the world. In essence when we see the four kinds of Being together (not taking into account the singularity of Ultra Being) then we have a vision of a face of the World which we normally only see clearly in an emergent event, where the baseline of Nihilism is reset. Now all that is entailed, in my view, by the projection of the World in which it finds itself by Dasein.

As we explored earlier All this is implicit in the relation between Parmenides Ways and Heraclitian Fire, which Plato calls the Greater and Lesser initiations. The third kind of Being (Hyper Being) is the difference that makes a difference (Bateson) between these two kinds of Being. As such it is a slippery and mercurial kind of Being always introducing differing and deferring of DifferAnce into the play of the world (John S. Hans). But none of these standings through Being are Existence proper in the sense of nondual emptiness (Buddhist) or void (Taoist). At the fifth Meta-level of Being there is both Ultra Being as singularity and emptiness/Void (Striated/Unstriated). It took me a long time to figure out how Ultra Being could exist, but basically if ou have two different types of interpretations of existence then Ultra Being is the difference that makes a difference between them. This is so interesting because it points the way toward the role that Being plays. We see it externally as a singularity in existence but inside it is differentiated into meta-levels fo maximal emergent difference. It is the singular distinction between two different interpretations of nonduality. Duality unfolds from this singular distinction between interpretations of nondual existence. If we remember that illusion exists in existence as well, and that Being is really just a doubling which makes illusion reflexive, then we realize that existence itself is the difference between these two layers of illusion. So from the point of view of Being, it is a distinction between interpretations of Existence, while Existence is really a distinction between two layers of illusion, i.e. illusion folded back on itself, i.e. illusory Illusion. In this way we can see that Existence and Being are completely intertwined each distinguishing the other.

When you realize that there is this deep intertwining of Being and Existence, i.e. neither can really be completely what they are without the other, then you actually see that the doubling of illusion into Maya is actually progress in our understanding because Existence becomes the difference between the veils of illusion. And likewise without Ultra Being as a singularity you cannot distinguish between different sorts of nondual interpretations of Existence. And it is this kind of deeper realization that I think Tantra of the Tibetans comes out of, which on the face of it looks like a falling back into the illusion of Being, but instead leads to the formulation of DzogChen by Manjushrimitra where he applies the logic of Nagarjuna to Buddhism itself and sees the two truths as nihilistic extremes. Buddhism itself was a heresy within the Hindu strain of the Indo-European worldview that revolted against the idea of Being, and instead saw existence as the flux of aggregates. But once you get into existence, then you realize that in order to get to deeper levels of understanding of existence you have to bring back Being, because otherwise you cannot put Buddhist Emptiness in the same poem as Taoist void as Stonehouse does, i.e. you cannot actually get the best our of both Buddhism and Taoism (Bon) which are actually different but you cannot tell that difference without bringing another kind of existence which is Maya, Dukah, Dunya as seen from the outside as a singularity.

So we see that there are two views of Being, i.e. from the point of view of existence (from the outside) and from the point of view of Being itself, i.e. from the inside. In the one case we see a singularity, in the other case we see the fragmentation of the kinds of Being. So there is an inside and outside with respect to Being, but not Existence. Existence is Unary. And Existence can be interpreted as Nondual, eiher as emptiness or void. To make that distinction we need the singularity of Ultra Being as the difference that makes a difference between different interpretations of the nondual state of existence. So if we take the world to be a schema projected by Being then there is some sense in which existence is out there beyond the world. But that leaves us to quibble over the word separate. The non-dual lacks the following characteristics: Separate, Fused, Separate And Fused, Neither Separate nor Fused. It is something else beyond these four logical states. It is Not One! Not Two! So the fact that there are two interpretations for Existence without illusion as nondual is itself a problem, because that calls for a third the singularity of external Being, i.e. Ultra Being. What this indicates is that there is actually multiple levels of non-duality and that Emptiness/Void as Striated and Unstriated terms in the Pleroma, are not the ultimate type of Nonduality but there are deeper froms of nonduality. I call these deeper forms of Nonduality: Manifestation, using a term from Henry’s Essence of Manifestation which he attributes to Meister Eckhart.

We know now from Heidegger that there are striated and unstriated Being/Beyng in the Pleroma as well as their opposites Forgetfuness/Oblivion. To the extent that nonduality is reflected in the Pleroma then it appears also as Striated and Unstriated as Emptiness/Void. So that means that there is a standing beyond the Pleroma where nonduality is not made dual, i.e. which we are calling manifestation. Now the Pleroma is the field out of which the Worldview arises, and clearly the Pleroma arises from this deeper nonduality of Manifestation. So there is a sense in which Non-duality is “out there” beyond the world, if we take it as being always already prior to the arising of the pleroma and world. But as for being either fused or separate we must apply the tetralemma to that even at the level of Emptiness and Void the two canonical interpretations of Existence.

So from one perspective the answer to your question is true, instead of false, with some caveats, like separate/fused has no meaning either at the fifth standing (Existence) or beyond that at the sixth standing (Manifestation). In some sense these distinctions are only apparent, they are standings we take toward what we find (existence), or if we enter into reflexive illusion (being), or if we see nonduality without differentiating interpretations of illusionless existence (manifestation). “Standings toward . . .” are our own embodied standing.

I hope this is sufficiently bewildering . . .

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What do two people need to mutually know to be able to have a conversation about the same aspect of something?

Jul 04 2011 Published by under Uncategorized


This is a question that needs a lot of background fleshed out before we can even start to try to answer it. It is an open question as far as I know, but we are getting more information about it all the time from various studies of different aspects of social phenomena. To put it into perspective this is the famous problem of intersubjectivity that haunted Husserl’s phenomenology in the period of Cartesian Meditations. How does intersubjectivity work, is a fundamental question that has been worked on by phenomenology ever since it was realized that it was a problem with phenomenology, it is not just that there are noumena out there that we want to bracket so we can get back to the phenomena itself, but when we bracket those noumena, we are also bracketing the other subjects as well, and that produces an unbridgeable gap between the subjects and makes phenomenology solipsistic. Basically this lead to getting rid of bracketing and the realization that we can posit a world horizon upon which the phenomena appear and that solves the problem. We see this in Heidegger’s Being and Time but evidently he got it from the late work of Husserl.

Once it was discovered that it was possible to achieve the same effect that bracketing does by positing the world horizon as the background for all phenomena, then the road opened for the solution of the problem of intersubjectivity at a theoretical level, because as is obvious our sociality is something that comes out of our interactions in society, which is part of us from the very beginning not something that appears later, as Heidegger says immersion in Mitsein is prior to Dasein. But exactly how to create a social phenomenology has been the subject of intense research since the time of Husserl and Heidegger, for instance Merleau-Ponty made great strides in this direction through his questioning of some of the basic tenets of the transcendentalism that still haunted both the thought of Husserl and Heidegger. Reflexive Sociologists like Alan Blum, John O’Malley, and Barry Sandywell developed a Social Phenomenology which was philosophical within sociology based on the work of Alfred Schutz. One amazing development is the book that Hurbert Dryfus promoted by Samuel Todes called Body and the World ( Following in the wake of that is the work of Shaun Gallagher,  2005. How the Body Shapes the Mind.

As phenomenology gets into neuroscience we are slowly getting a picture of how we place ourselves in the place of others and understand them and ourselves using concept like mind blindness, and folk psychology, and other ideas that have come out of research into how children come to various stages of their social development as they mature and develop. So there is a lot of background to cover here, and even I do not know this whole literature as much of it is new and it continually needs to be explored to try to keep up.

But what I will do is give you my take on this question which is one worth delving into. In the tradition of Reflexive Sociology, which has been all but forgotten since it as an English and Canadian Movement mostly which followed Merleau-Ponty for the most part in turning the question upside down. In other words the real question is not how we can have intersubjective experience, but how we can get into the position we are in within our own society where we cannot imagine how it is possible due to our long history of individualism and the fear of the masses especially after world war two. In other words, since we are social from our inception, the question becomes how we come to feel isolated as individuals so we can think of ourselves as independent from the social relations we are embedded within even as we think individualistically. Just one fact will show this point, which is that when the baby is not yet a year old and it is in a room where people are talking and we look at its micro movements, we see that its body is moving to the cadences of the different parts of speech with micro movements. Body of the baby tracks the speech that is in its environment even before it can speak, in such a way that different parts of its body move to different levels of speech and what part of the body is constantly shifting (Condon, W. Speech make babies move. In R. Lewin (Ed.), Child Alive. New York: Doubleday, 1975). So if babies are tracking with the movement of their entire bodies speech that happens to be in their vicinity prior to their own speaking we can see just how immersed we are in the intersubjective experience from the very beginning. The real question is how we have culturally separated ourselves back out in the aberration of individualism take to an extreme that we see in Western culture. Intersubjectivity as the Late Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty realized is a given, and what needs to be explained is the ego, (I) as we have socially constructed it in Western culture as the Subject as opposed to Objects.

So you can see that even in the question that is asked here, there is a subtle assumption that there are two people and we have to bridge the gap with knowledge so that they can talk about the same aspect of the same thing.

Rather the situation is that there is in fact something social that differentiates itself out into individuals who are always already the same but who in fact together construct a world by mutual projection so that they are already in synchrony from the beginning. And the question is really how we see them as individuals relating to each other externally though communications channels using reference to coordinate their actions. In reality they are pre-coordinated and that pre-coordination differentiates itself out in our society into individuals but in different societies the basic substrate may be something other than the individual. For instance, in Japan the basic unit of society was the Ie which was husband, wife, first son and his wife. And how you know that this was the individual for that society is that it was this unity that experienced capitol punishment. In China it was a whole clan that was treated as an individual. In fact probably most traditional societies had something other than the single human organism as the basic unit of society. When you are an organ within the social organism it is very different from the corporal body being the same as the social organism as it is in Western society today.

It is funny that the question speaks of knowledge as the glue (as what we have to know) because we now know that this ability to know what others know, comes on at a certain age in childhood. Prior to that the child does not project what the other knows, but once that threshold is crossed then the normal child takes into account what it knows the other knows in the way that it interacts with the other. ( (1999) TOM.pdf) So we know this is an important milestone when children can take into account the knowledge of the other in order to coordinate their actions with that of the other. And when this does not happen this is called mindblindness ( It means we have no theory of the other being like ourselves, i.e. as thinking and emotional beings whose thoughts we can predict by a folk psychology that is a social psychology attuned to the cultural context. It is interesting that in terms of our taking the point of view of the other that this is helped by mirror neurons when we are watching other people work the same neurons fire as if we were doing the work ourselves ( This explains physical synchronization of action and our ability to coordinate with the other and learn physical tasks by watching. It is interesting that when the other person is pretending to do something rather than actually doing it that this phenomena stops and registers the difference between pretense and what is for real in the actions of others. And finally we know that we are able to carry this taking the place of the other up to about five levels before we start to get confused, about the same number of levels as there are Kinds of Being or Knowledge that we might have ( When we take these various advances together we find that they underline the developmental, neurological basis of social interaction, and how it is a primary process, and individuation in the sense of Jung or Heidegger (authenticity) is always a secondary process. Children learn early to take the knowledge of the other into account, and soon after that they are climbing the various meta-levels of the theory of mind (he said, she said, he thinks, she thinks, he believes, she believes, he does,she does) and then all the meta-levels after that i.e. he thinks that she believes that when he acts then she acts because she believes that he thinks, that she acts . . . etc.) The meta-levels are believes, belief about belief, belief about belief about belief . . . etc. But when you mix thinking, believing, acting, saying all together the whole set of relations among the various meta-levels of these modalities becomes a very confusing maze which we are all trapped in as we experience the reflexivity of our existence. Add to that illusion, and delusion when we act on illusion and we get a radically unstable situation for all social relations, and an unexpected depth to which we can reason concerning these intertwining relations. What people need to know in order to communicate about their mutual relations is VERY complex, but we do it effortlessly for the most part because a lot of it is unconscious for us. But of course that only makes it worse because we take it for granted that relating to others in relation to the world comes naturally to us and seems perfectly transparent in most cases because we glide along using our schemas of situations and others until something unexpected happens and we need to pour effort into processing the anomaly in social relations or in our relation to the world. A spouse unexpectedly commits suicide or loses their job, or there is a divorce. Then this complication of the world, and our relations to others comes to the fore and that is when life becomes infinitely more difficult.

Now if we have this kind of Background that says that our relations with others and the world is incredibly complex, then we see almost all philosophies are a vast simplification of this situation. However, Phenomenology as it develops is trying to keep up, and to produce a valid picture of this situation in which we are relating to other subjects and to noumena together. Sartre talks about being-for-others and being-in-itself, i.e. the reification of acting for others to maintain conventions or stability in society, or reifying oneself into an object. And so when we talk about both of these together we get badfaith and alienation that together perhaps produce anomie. For instance, Kristiva talks about the abject. When we think of all the things that can go wrong so we cannot talk about the same thing in the world with another, then we get some idea of this complexity which is covered over by conventionalism and schematization, and nominalism within society.

Then there is also the question of true names, i.e. are we really talking about the same noumena, and are our indications of it true to the phenomena itself. My preferred approach is social constructionism of Berger and Luckmann with all the caveats I discussed in another answer.

But lets go from these background considerations to the point at hand. For me following Heidegger there is no “two people [who] need to mutually know [something] to be able to have a conversation about the same aspect of something?”
The subtext of this question is subjectivity/intersubjectivity as an assumption it seems to me. What we want to do is go beyond that as Heidegger does by appealing to Mitsein and the differentiation of Dasein out of Mitsein. Heidegger is in a sense turning Hegel upside down and starting from Spirit to derive the self-conscious subject, and in that approach the Master/Slave dialectic which Hegel uses as a starting points evaporates away. It is replaced with the Mitsein as Master and Dasein as Slave, and Dasein’s struggle to become authentic by confronting its own finitude. There is no idea in Heiddegger of TwainSein, i.e. two who differentiate out and are authentic together. But this is where I like to appeal to Sadler’s Existence and Love.

If we forget for a moment that Sadler uses the example of Romantic Love which is nihilistic (see Coming to our Senses by Berman for an explanation of why this is, also Love and Limerence Dorothy Tennov) and lets concentrate on his major salient point which is that the main sensory modality taken as a paradigm in existentialism is visual and this leads to its individualistic nature in all the major existentialists, while if we take hearing as the main sensory modality to be taken as the paradigm of our relations with other things and people we get a quite different existentialism. In hearing things are mixed, interpenetrated, sounding together, in sync, in rhythm, having melodies, they are on key, etc. Sadler makes the point that by concentrating on hearing, or listening as the major modality which is to be taken as the paradigm for our interaction intersubjectively and with things in the world then suddenly the distance and separation vanishes because sounds are immediate to us.

So if we take this point seriously and then go back to the question, we can pick out the phrase “what do two people mutually need to know . . .” and we apply Sadler concept of an existentialism that starts with our deepest relationship to each other, rather than our separation and distance. The answer then is that people are intertwined with each other though hearing and they need to know that they are separate. To point out an aspect of the world is to render it present at hand. Merleau-Ponty translates Heidegger’s present-at-hand as pointing, and ready-to-hand as grasping. Everything in Heidegger is in relation to the hand. And that is because for him it is different for a person to touch something in their world than for two things to come into contact, i.e. objective relations are never the same as the pre-subjective relations of Dasein with the world as a whole. Dasein is prior to the Subject/Object duality. Dasein has three existentiels which are talk, understanding and discoveredness. But Heidegger does not delve into the fact that in talk we are listening. We are listening so deeply that our whole body moves with the speech in micro-movements. We are taking into account what the other knows from an early age. We are projecting our theory of mind on the other, when that gets out of hand and we project our theory of mind on everything then we get Aristotle’s reduction of our relation to everything to our social relations. His Categories have to do with possible Speech topics. His Physics assumes that all things act as higher organisms do, i.e. have a telos a goal. We are so intertwined with each other that we go up the meta-levels of the theory of mind as far as we can which can be to about four or five levels of indirection all the time taking into account not just various modalities of interaction but also gender modulations. But in order for us to point to something present-at-hand within the world we mutually project we must separate ourselves from each other and go into a visual modality and a modality related to our hands which point, grasp, bear etc. We point out the same aspect of the same thing to each other, but in order for us to grasp it, to understand it (realize it with the existentiel of verstehen), we have to separate ourselves from it and each other in our differentiation of the world. And that pointing is rending it present-at-hand to us and thus caught up in the subject/object duality. But prior to that there is the technological infrastructure of the world of our circumspective concern for the whole world and how everything works together, hangs together and supports our presentation of one thing over all other things in the world. This is realized though the ready-to-hand of grasping affordances given to us by our world in Process Being. But prior to that is Hyper Being where there is mutual bearing as Levinas describes it between mother and child. The mother bears the child, but the child bears the ministrations of the mother. This mutual bearing is at a point where ethics and metaphysics collapse together. And it is very difficult to separate things because the distinctions keep slip-sliding away. It is the modality I call the in-hand where the tools are not just grasped but transform in our hands. We use tools for other purposes than they were designed for as the situation presents itself in our world (we can call this the McGiver syndrome). At this level it is not just things that are hard to distinguish due to what Derrida calls DifferAnce (differing and deferring) but also our relations with others. Lacan talks about the mirror stage where the infant recognizes itself in the mirror. Prior to that there is no distance between the self and the self, or the self and the other. But once the mirror stage is reached then we recognize the distance between ourselves and ourselves and thus between ourselves and the other. Distance comes into play and we realize that essential separation that we will need to pick out aspects of things in the world and point to them in the present-at-hand modality. Zizek says Lacan and Derrida are duals of each other, and while Derrida opens up what Plato calls the Third Kind of Being (Timaeus) Lacan explores the mimesis that goes on in that space of distance and separation and its implications. The most significant concept that comes out of that is the idea of the Floating Signifier, which is the Name of the Father, which signifies this separation because the father produces distance from the mother. We can see this in the fact that fathers take the child from the mother and play games like throwing it in the air and catching it in order to introduce thrill in the child. That thrill is positive for some children and negative for others in whom it induces fear, and even trauma. Deleuze takes this concept of the floating signifier seriously in his book the Logic of Sense.

But as Merleau-Ponty pointed out in The Visible and the Invisible Hyper Being (the hyper dialectic between Heidegger’s Process Being and its antimony Sartre’s Nothingness) has a dual which he calls Wild Being. In wild being we are encompassed as Heidegger points out in the Mitsein, we can read Cannetti’s Crowds and Power to understand this fear of the masses and mass movements. One of the best ways to see this is a book called The Attack of the Blob: Hannah Arendt’s Concept of the Social but we can also see it in Jungs concept of individuation. In the first part of the century there was a real fear of mass movements due to the rise of Fascism and Communism as Ideologies. However, we must admit that there is a kind of Being, called Wild Being in which we are always already encompassed by the other, as before the mirror stage, and this primal encompassment which goes all the way back into the womb is the underlying situation that we return to when things get out-of-hand within our world and we are overwhelmed. Prior to that is the singularity of all lost origins which we can call Ultra Being which shows up as our unique fated existence based on our DNA, our situation in time, with these parents, i.e. all the things that make us unique and singular which we have absolutely no control over but which the existentialists focus on as being prior to everything else, and according to Sartre is the basis of our freedom.

So what we have to know is that our world is constituted intersubjectively and that our world has meta-levels of Being which we inhabit without realizing it, and there are levels beyond the present-at-hand in which we are trapped most of the time which is rulled by onto-theological metaphysics (Heidegger) and logocentrism (Derrida). But the pointing at something in the world is dependent on distance, and distance is exactly what we have to constitute in order to be separate from the other and from the things in the world. So we have to know that there is this hidden depth were separation and distance disappear, and we have to continually reconstitute that distance in order to realize the present-at-hand in which we can point to aspects of things hand have those recognized. We wont get into the fact that this pointing is setting up a sign and therefore evokes semiotics as a threshold to linguistics and Symbolic Interaction (G.H. Mead). We have to know that there are layers of the world where we lose the ability to distinguish and that we loose all distance, and then we have to know that we reconstitute separation and distance, and difference as an ongoing process in the way that Deleuze discusses in Difference and Repetition. A good primer on how the world looks at the level of Wild Being is Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari.

To summarize we need to know the structure of the world that we are embedded in and how we produce it unconsciously together out of gatheredness as it flows into separation and back into gatheredness. And these two people (who may be strangers or lovers, OR strangers and lovers) know this not explicitly but implicitly through a tacit knowledge of an implicate order within the world that allows all these emergent meta-levels of Being unfold and be lived in without our being aware of it consciously.


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