Archive for May 2011
Namesake conversation: http://bit.ly/mz1Z57
My comment on Namesake:
Hawking Said: “Most of us don’t worry about these [fundamental ] questions most of the time. But almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead,” he said. “Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics.” Think it is true?
Hawking says that Philosophy is Dead, but we can see that it has a pulse, or at least Continental Philosophy still does, but perhaps he is right about Analytical Philosophy. I wonder if Continental Philosophy will catch the same life threatening disease that Analytical Philosophy has?
Namesake.com answer Is there absolute truth? If there is not, then how can knowledge exist? If there is, then how is it determined?
Topicmarks.com summary: http://topicmarks.com/d/3PjFEVPKQZjWG0BzJCfgWr1O
[My answers are always way too long for this format. So I have decided to do something different, which is to post my answer to my blog and direct you there, rather than cluttering up the conversation with long answers that everyone might not be interested in, and which seems to kill the conversation anyway.]
So the question is whether there is absolute truth. So first we need to know what absolute means and what truth means, and that will give us a bit of philosophical context in which to which to situation the question so we can see if it is answerable.
As my philosophy teacher Alfonso Verdu always said, there is only one absolute, that is why it is called absolute. But I add to that there is only one absolute at a time and what is absolute changes in different eras of our worldview. The absolute is the ultimate transcendent, which for Kant means God, one of the three transcendentals. The other two are transcendental subject and transcendental object or noumena. For Kant the role of the absolute transcendental, i.e. God was to maintain coherence between the T. Subject and the T. Object which we never experience but he thought had to be operating behind the scenes to keep the world functioning. The T. Subject is the source of all the a prior projections like spacetime and categories and schemas, and the T. Object or Noumena is the source of all our experience of the world in which we live. Absolute is basically a way of talking about God without mentioning God because it posits a unique ultimate which is in line with the monotheistic idea that there is really only one God, but if you think of God as absolute then that puts certain limitations on God which is what led to natural theology, i.e. it is in conflict with biblical ideas that sees God as having idiosyncratic attributes. Spinoza was the first of those who questioned this conflict between God and Reason, and decided ultimately that God had to be equivalent with nature ultimately, i.e. of the same substance. This merges God as a Transcendental with the Noumena, but then it has the problem of understanding the place of the T. subject, and so that is what the Ethics is about. Deleuze interprets Spinoza as having the position that the subject really is pure immanence which is the opposite of the Transcendentals.
As for Truth, as I have said in some of my Quora answers, there is an unfolding of the Meta-levels of Being, and at each of these meta-levels the Aspects which are Reality, Truth, Identity, Presence are essentially different at each meta-level. [See my other works for details at http://archonic.net or http://emergetdesign.net or http://works.bepress.com/kent_palmer.] Thus it depends on what meta-level of Being one is on what truth means. Heidegger in Being and Time concentrates on the first two meta-levels which are Pure Being where truth is verification, and Process Being where truth is Aletheia or Uncovering (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aletheia). So there are various kinds of truth that get ever deeper as we go up the meta-levels of Being, there is Pure Truth, Process Truth, Hyper Truth, Wild Truth, and Ultra Truth. And thus we see that if we ask if there is Absolute Truth, then we have to specify what kind of Truth would be absolute, i.e. unique and transcendental.
But here an idea that I have had which I call the Pleroma comes into play. Pleroma needs fullness, and is a term used in Gnosticism, but I do not mean it in that way, but it indicates the ultimate ground, and so I mean by it the ultimate ground of the worldview. It is composed of Striated and Unstriated pairs. An example is Emptiness and Void. Emptiness is striated, yet void is unstriated. And what you notice about this question is that the Absolute is unstriated yet truth, and all the other aspects of Being are striated, i.e. differentiated. So what we can say about this question is that it is pointed at the Pleroma, but in an odd way by taking two different pairs and crossing them. So we have Absolute which is Transcendent which is compared to the Immanent, and on the other hand we have the striations of the aspects each of which has an opposite like Truth and Falsehood, or Lie. The complete structure is as follows:
- Transcendental Truth, Reality, Identity, or Presence
- Transcendental Lie, Illusion, Difference, or Absence
- Immanent Truth, Reality, Identity, or Presence
- Immanent Lie, Illusion, Difference, or Absence
Notice that unlike the pairs I have identified in the Pleroma which are simple pairs that are striated and unstriated, like Being and Beyng for instance from Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy: From Ereignis, we have in this question a fourfold interaction between elements describing the Absolute Being, and one of the aspects of Being. Heidegger called this “Ontotheological Metaphysics” which he critiqued. Notice that we can identify the elements as follows
- Transcendental Aspect = Nietzsche’s idea that truth must affirm Life, and thus have evolutionary benefit
- Transcendental Anti-aspect = Nietzsche’s truth as lies we tell ourselves in order to support our lives in impossible situations
- Immanent Aspect = Truth is relative and has no external criteria, and is thus socially constructed. Nietzsche’s question of the value of Values. Truth is a value that has a certain value in our lives.
- Immanent Anti-Aspect = The fact that the truth is continuously distinguished from lies, as in the court systems, which in turn rely on our faulty memories and thus really has no foundation.
So now with this background in mind let us return to the question at hand. Is there absolute truth. Is refers to Being, the absolute refers to the ultimate being, or Supreme Being, which is singular and unique. Truth is an aspect of Being, which along with other aspects have anti-aspects which describe the various characteristics of Being within Indo-European languages. Being is an idea that is unique to Indo-European languages, and thus it is something that makes our dominant worldview unique and perhaps is the basis on which our world’s technological infrastructure is based. But what we notice is that this question is ontological not ontic because it never gets outside of Being. It asks if THERE IS, which refers to Heidegger’s dasein (there being), i.e. if there is an ecstatic projection of Being which has the characteristics of absoluteness, and truth which is an aspect. But truth as aspect brings along its anti-aspect which is falsehood or lie. So if there is absolute truth there needs to be the absolute lie, like the betrayal of Jesus by Judas (which is a betrayal of mankind), or in Gnosticism the idea that the creator god lies and tells us there is no absolute god, etc. So what we see is that this question actually has the structure of Dasein that Heidegger talks about in Being and Time. Dasein is the ecstasy of projecting the world as a priori as Kant said, but it is also being-within-the-world, and as such it has a place in its own projection. This is just like in the Mahabharata where the poet enters his own story and is the progenitor of his own characters, or in the Odyssey where Odysseus becomes a teller of his own epic tale in Scheria. In other words it points to an ultimate paradox like the idea that Jesus as the son of God, “is” God the father who created the world that Jesus became immanent within. Jesus is the avatar of the Supreme Being but also is the Supreme Being as well like Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu, i.e. comes to immanence within the dream that Vishnu is dreaming. And this of course is what makes Being the ultimate paradox (contradictory contradiction) or absurdity (paradoxical paradox). It is prior to the Supreme Being or absolute because it is ultimate substance, but it has to be given rise to by the Absolute which is outside or beyond Being. How can the Supreme Being be both inside and outside of Being?
This brings us to the realization that this question (because it has the structure of dasein) actually is questioning whether existence is paradoxical in some fundamental sense, as suggested by Ontotheology. And thus we get into the critique of Heidegger of ontotheological metaphysics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontotheology), and how it is in fact self-contradictory, even paradoxical or absurd. Worst of all it takes snapshots of the history of the epochs of Being and pretends that this is all there is of Being, when in fact there have been many absolutes in our history during different epochs, because Being itself transforms. If Being transforms then it is not unique and singular outside of spacetime but is within spacetime, and that means it cannot be absolute. See God Without Being by Jean-Luc Marion (http://amzn.to/iS48ku).
Now I think the answer to this question for the Western worldview is yes, but the answer in general is no. In other words the Western worldview has this unique idea of Being built into its grammar of its languages, that does not exist elsewhere in other languages. And so our worldview necessarily has to grapple with the fact that our highest concept is at least contradictory, could be paradoxical, and at worse is absurd, as Kierkegaard thought. But Being is not the only standing, there is also existence and probably others. However, for our tradition Existence is the primary other to Being. Parmenides called it Non-Being, the impossible path. Hegel called it nothing and contrasted it with Being, and thought about it as Buddhist emptiness. The fusion of the two in a synthesis gives Heraclitus’ Flux, or Becoming, i.e. Process Being. The jump to a new level beyond that flux gives us Dasein, i.e. determinate being, that Heidegger took at the basis of his use of the term dasein. Existence came into the language from the reading of the Arabic interpreters of Aristotle, who distinguished their own Wajud from what went beyond that to comprise Being which they called with a technical term Kun (to make). When this was translated into Latin there was no term for existence so a technical term was made up called Exi-stance, i.e. to stand outside of Being, which also has the meaning of ecstasy in Arabic. So Heidegger uses that to distinguish between the projection of the world which is an ecstasy as Process Being, and the presentation of the world to us from within it which is Pure Being. If you take the view that there are other standings toward the world and the self than Being then this does not have to be absurd. There is a completely different interpretation which says that existence is empty as in Buddhism which is a non-dual standing toward existence. Non-duality suggests the opposite of absurdity or paradox which is called Supra-rational way of approaching things which see them as interpenetrated without interfering with each other as in Hua Yen Buddhism of Fa Tsang. You can see in my other writings I talk about Plato’s divided line and the fact that the limit of the side of doxa is paradox, and the limit of the side of ratio as the supra-rational. These are in fact opposites that are inscribed into the structure of our worldview, but instances of supra-rationality as appears in Zen Koans are rare in our tradition, while Paradox and Absurdity are rife as being represented as the limit of what is possible to handle within our world. So if we were to take the approach to ourselves and the world as that is supra-rational and allow for the standing toward things which describes them as existing without Being, i.e. having no value like the rock at the side of the road, or considering money to be worthless, which it actually is, it is a mere exchange token manufactured by banks that print it, then we can say that the world is not necessarily paradoxical or absurd, but only appear to be so within the ontotheological metaphysics of our Western worldview.
See also mirror at http://think.net/2011/05/23/namesake-com-answer-is-there-absolute-truth/
Which is a touchier subject: religion or politics? Asked by Ed Stapleton Jr on Namesake.com http://bit.ly/jgjvUi
TopicMarks.com Summary: http://topicmarks.com/d/01VEuQ6jstPfdLus6RhRF_95M
Namesake.com Answer: “What is it about the world that you know is true that everyone else doesn’t understand?”
Peter Thiel question asked of people before he works with them, http://read.bi/kkNx8K
My Response to a Namesake Conversation: http://bit.ly/kJ25SY
TopicMarks.com Summary: http://topicmarks.com/d/1cyn9nBkB2RsxGFozvu4tEjhi
Reference: http://read.bi/kkNx8K Question of Peter Thiel, article
PETER THIEL: Winning Big By Betting Against Everyone
by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry published May 17, 2011, 11:43
in Business Insider http://www.businessinsider.com/sai
Remarks by Kent Palmer on Namesake.com
For me an amazing fact is that only the Indo-Europeans have the concept of Being in their language. And that both Being and Having are the most irregular verbs in Indo-European languages, and thus artificially produced by blending together other verbs. This means that Being (Sein, Sat) is an anomaly in language with all other languages having either existence or copula or some other concept rather than Being at their core.
This coupled with the fact that the Indo-European homeland was in Turkey and that Hittite is the oldest branch of the Indo-European family judged on the basis of vocabulary rather than grammar using genetic mutation analysis techniques. That the oldest megaliths in Turkey are 27,000 years or so old, showing that the Indo-Europeans probably had the oldest civilization, much older than China, Egypt or Sumeria. That in Turkey in ancient times there was a natural breadbasket with more overlapping kinds of grains present than any where on earth and that the Indo-europeans probably invented agriculture by just foraging for these grains. There are loan words in both Sumerian and Indo-European that showed that these people interacted. That the oldest sumerian epic Gilgamesh contains a fight with a monster that is probably the representative of the Indo-Europeans in the north of Sumeria. Sumeria has a completely unique language unrelated to any other known language, and it is probably the oldest civilization after the Indo-European civilization. Cities in Sumeria went from 120 people in villages to 25,000 over night with no fortifications or palaces in them but only temples showing that Plato was right that Men were created only to serve the Gods and that all other formations of civilization came later. That the Sumerians called the Indo-Europeans the Kur which meant also Hell to them, and that they probably drove the Indo-Europeans out into the Steppes where the Indo-europeans built Kurgens (Burial mounds). The Skythians who appeared out of the Stepps during Greek times were probably the result of a foray against the nomads in China a century earlier. Various tribes displaced each other in a domino effect until the Skythians popped out the other side, showing that the whole of the Steppes were populated with Indo-Europeans. The Greeks saw the Skythians as completely opposite of themselves in every way, even though the Skythians were also Indo-european,and probably truer to that tradition than the Greeks. When the Persians tried to attack the Skythians they merely taunted the Persians and said that they could only be forced to fight if the Persians took their burial mounds because they held no permanent property. On the Steppes they Indo-european precursors to the Skytians and Greeks realized a genetic possibility of the horse being big by breeding them to be larger. And when the horses became big enough to pull chariots the Indo-Europeans started taking over the world. Chariot warfare preceded warfare on horseback because the horses were still too small to ride when they could pull a chariot. The first waves of Indo-European world colonialization began in about 6,000 BC in which they took over the known world. Now as a result of this and later colonializations by the Indo-Europeans 60% of the worlds populations speak an Indo-European language. Thus the world dominance of English and other Indo-European languages today had its beginnings about Eight thousand years ago. The Indo-Europeans have achieved world domination through the development of war horses and other technologies. That the central epic concerns one such artificial technological war “horse”. That the Epics of the Illiad and Odessey are older than but related to the Mahabharata each have chariot scenes in battle as central motifs in the stories. That most technical inventions credited to the Indo-Europeans were first invented by the Chinese a thousand years earlier.
Therefore, when you put these factoids together it appears there is a correlation between the uniqueness of Indo-European languages through the fact that it has Being, and the ascent to world domination due to technological change and the roots of this conquest began long ago. Colonialization and now Globalization had a distant precursor when the Indo-Europeans struck out and conquered the world based on the power of horses when they could not yet ride them because they were not big enough yet. And that the Indo-Europeans and every other kind of human that existed outside the Africa has Neanderthal genetic factors due to passing through the Neanderthal homeland in the Middle East on the way out of Africa. There are people with that bloodline still in the Steppes today after 70 generations who eventually came into Europe as nomadic invaders.
These factoids which I connect here are not connected elsewhere to my knowledge and has led to my believing that Ontology is important to understanding our technological superiority. My hypothesis for how this is so is that Being because it creates an imaginary substrate for connecting things, allowing stronger than usual metaphors, allows us to integrate technologies that are discovered into a functioning whole rather than their merely being forgotten and needing to be invented again in isolation later as happened with the Chinese. The ability to create synergetic and integral technological products seems to be a unique Indo-european invention. But that invention also brings with it the core feature of the Western worldview which is the problem of nihilism, and this problem was recognized and delat with at length in the Indo-european epics that have survived.
So we can construe this set of factoids to indicate that the dominance of the Indo-Europeans today was based on a series of accidents and special factors that coalesced to produce the world in which we live today. And this worldview we have today has a deep past that we do not really recognize properly. From archeological finds in Turkey we can say that the Indo-Europeans were probably the oldest civilization predating what has been considered as the oldest by more than twice its age. The Indo-Europeans just happened to live in a natural Bread basket and probably invented the agriculture that made the other later .civilizations possible. The Hittites had a god prior to Uranus in their pantheon called Ahlalu which was forgotten by the time of the Greeks. The Hittites took Mesopotamia and Egypt at certain points in history. And that the other key group also nomadic was the Semites that lived between Egypt and Mesopotamia and who are considered based on analysis of Ugritic literature to have had an original monotheism, which later came to dominate our thinking destroying the old polytheisms.
So the Western worldview which we call Judao-Christian is really a meta-worldview made up of four cultural components. Two based on sedentary Civilizations crystalized around rivers, i.e. Mesopotamia and Egypt. But there are two nomadic groups that are important, one with the uniqueness of having Being in its language, and the other that has the uniqueness of original monotheism. We completely lost access to the Mesopotamian and Egyptian portions of our tradition, but then regained them through the rosetta stone on the one hand and through clay tablets and vocabularies that linked Sumerian with other languages that were preserved on those tablets. So now we are in a much better position to see the contributions of Egypt and Sumeria to our tradition than any time before for the last several millennia. We should call our tradition Indo/Suero/Semitic/Egyptian. All this is very strange and shows the contingency of our worldview which is both very ancient and full of anomalies that became norms through successive accidents and improbabilities in that very long history.
To me the most amazing thing was when I realized that the differences between kinds of Being rediscovered in modern Continental Philosophy were there in the Vedic times as the differences between the Gods and thus between the Castes in the social structure. This idea that the Kinds of Being discovered by Continental Philosophy were really very ancient in our tradition and conserved within it despite our propensity toward rampant and powerfully transformative emergence was to me astounding, and when I realized that I wrote the book The Fragmentation of Being and the Path Beyond the Void in which I perform what I all OntoMythology, i.e. reading myths through the lens of Ontology, i.e. the meta-levels of Being. This method allows us to discover how myths convey the conservative structure of the world view that lies beneath the many deep emergent transformations that break up our heritage into given, fact, theory, paradigm, episteme, ontos, existence, and absoute changes within our history. Here we are considering mind blowing facts. But these facts, even knowing them at all are dependent on the theories, paradigms, ontos, existence and absolutes that go though periodic total revision to produce eras within our tradition. When we have a paradigm or episteme or ontos change it changes what facts are significant, the affordances offered to us in the moment, it rewrites history, it gives a new mythos, and it opens up new possibilities for the future that might be realized. G.H. Mead first describes the emergent event in his Philosophy of the Present because he took as his life’s work reconciling evolution with relativity. In the process the discontinuous changes in the tradition came to the fore as the central phenomena in our tradition. But this emergent change randomly yet persistently, especially in technology, is based on deeper persistent structures that are called the Meta-levels of Being that were really discovered by Bertrand Russell and posited in Principia Mathematica as the solution to most paradoxes. Being is of course the most paradoxical of all concepts because it is the highest in the Western worldview being both less than empty because it is worse than meaningless because it is the origin of illusions and delusions, and also too full in the sense that it means something different to everyone. Thus when we apply the only solution to extreme paradox (higher logical type theory, see Copi for a good explanation of it) and the extreme paradox of Being that is an anomaly existing only in the Indo-European tradition, together then we get a static structure that underlies all emergence. That static structure both creates nihilism as the background on which emergence is seen, but the structure of the emergent events themselves. And so this feature of our worldview strikes me as extremely improbable, based on a series of blackswan events in our history that made it so we have at the same time radical change and amazing stability to world structures based on logical structures that constrain paradox and contradiction.
To me it is truly amazing that we can live within our worldview and not understand it, even though the ancients left us clues as to its structure and how to cope with living in such a worldview of nihilistic extremes. The fact that we have to deal with continual discontinuous cultural and social events as well as technological change, but at the same time subconsciously maintain the structure that causes this to happen though the preservation of the structures that produce nihilism in our tradition is amazing. We are obsessed with false mysteries like that dramatized by Dan Brown, but do not even recognize an even deeper mystery that involves everything we do together in our daily lives that was understood by the ancients who inhabited this worldview but is no longer understood by us. Thus we are traveling blindly within our own worldview rather than being illuminated by it because we illuminate it ourselves with our comprehension of it. In effect underlying all the amazing fact is something even more amazing that allows us to appreciate amazing facts, which is the structure of our worldview that produces emergence out of nihilism and that preserves the structure of the worldview in spite of continuall radical transformations that make up the contingencies of our history, and threaten everything we know and want to hang on to at every moment of our lives. We are oriented toward the amazing, as philosophers say that philosophy comes out of wonder. But the most wondrous thing is the mechanism within our worldview that produces wonder itself. Other peoples throughout human history were not as driven as we are by wonderment. And we have wonderment because we inadvertently produce it through the structure of our worldview. We produce rampant nihilism as a background so we can recognize Emergence when it happens. Our propensity toward wonderment is part of our necessity of being on the look out for the arising of emergent events out of the nihilistic background. And what we recognize in the end is that Emergence and Nihilism are themselves nihilistic opposites so nihilism as has been said by Nietzsche and Heidegger is essential to our understanding of our worldview, and also according to Heidegger essential to our understanding of the essence of technology which is nothing technological but is in fact nihilism. This link between technological progress, especially in warfare, and the dualism between emergence and nihilism at the heart of the worldview is also quite amazing because it permeates our entire culture without our recognizing it.
Topicmarks.com Summary: http://topicmarks.com/d/0-mefPD_hwZsCQl8neg9-4jlo
On Quora: http://qr.ae/EEmL