On Racial Divides

Ernest,

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I am a white person.  That is an indelible facet of my human identity.  I carry my whiteness with me wherever I go, and it invades every corner of my life: not only my appearance, but also the way I talk and act, the sensibilities I have for style, even the subconscious decisions I make about how to move my body and what kind of physical bearing to use as I walk through my life from day to day.  Race is a deeply entrenched element of human culture, and it isn’t going away.  The influence that ethnic heritage and racial identity has on an individual is even a good thing; it affirms the capacity of peoples to affect meaningfully the lives of future generations.  But the disconcertion that comes with racial identity is how something so natural and right could ever become so perverted.

Ernest, as you know, many bright minds have wrestled with this question lately, and in the wake of recent events, plenty of folks more clever than I have expressed a frustrated and profound confoundedness over the issue, which seems to escape the reaches of reason itself.  But it is because I sincerely believe that the philosopher’s duty lies not only in quiet condolence, but also in speaking to the sufferings of the world, that I write to you now on this question, which has most often silenced the voice and immobilized the pen of the discerning.

how something so natural and right could ever become so perverted

I believe, Ernest, that the answer has a lot to do with the way our society makes sense of the reality around it.  The primary tool we use to do this is language.  Language lets us render incoherent information into intelligible meaning, and it does this by means of opposition.  Perhaps when you were only a couple months old you felt a wet and slimy something on your cheek and saw that it belonged to a brown and furry something else.  It wasn’t until you learned the word ‘dog’ that you were truly able to make sense of that experience.  As your vocabulary expanded, your words enabled you to give a meaningful opinion about the creature; it was a ‘good’ dog precisely insofar as it was not a ‘bad’ dog, because ‘good’ is the opposite of ‘bad’.  By means of linguistic opposition, you found meaning in your environment and were able to assign distinct identities to yourself and everything around you.  As it turned out linguistic opposition was a very powerful tool, and there’s no telling what great (or not so great) things might come of this new discovery.

Maybe when you were still very young you searched for new words only when you absolutely needed them—like when you later encountered a ‘cat’.  Eventually, though, you grew out of that childish habit and came to appreciate words also for their own sake, even if they didn’t correspond to anything you had ever yet experienced.  Language is in fact useful not only to communicate existing realities but also to express potential alternatives.  You can use language to tell fictional stories, to express intangible emotions, or to describe objects that do not exist.  As you grew up you came to value this impractical use of language, because you saw how it could enrich your life and make everything more meaningful.  When you fibbed to your mom about the fate of a missing cookie, the immoral deed carried meaning because language could surmise in your mind the perilous state of a society governed by falsehood. When you got married, it was the best day of your life in part because you knew the word ‘love’, which you had bothered to learn even though it didn’t correspond to any tangible reality in your environment.  And when you lost someone very dear to you, it meant so much more because the bereavement was wrapped in the symbolism of a thousand losses that you had found in the literature of novelists and poets, all of whom now shared in your present suffering.  Each of these experiences carried identifiable meaning due to the opposition not of two existing realities but of something actual and something potential or hypothetical.  Today, Ernest, as the intelligent man you have grown to be, you are capable of identifying a ‘good dog’ without relying on any actual experience with a real ‘bad dog’—a hypothetical bad dog would suffice just as well.

But when man falls back on childish habits, his concept of identity becomes perverted.  In this scientific age of ours, knowledge comes only from empirical data, not from the wisdom of fairy tales or even the predictions of hypothetical reasoning.  It is this epistemological stupidity that is responsible for racial divides.  Racial divides exist because we cannot identify ours as a ‘good race’ in its own right without there also existing an empirical ‘bad race’.  If there exists an ‘us’ then there must equally exist a ‘them’, and that them must be observable to us via our five senses.  But while this rudimentary use of language was sufficient to identify a ‘good dog’ or a ‘bad dog’, it is not sufficient for creating human identities.  When we identify ourselves only in opposition to empirical others, we deny that aspect of our humanity which transcends empirical measurement.  The human soul is not in fact fungible.  If one human dies, we can’t simply replace them with another human of equal or greater value.  A materialist understanding of human identity will not do.

Ernest, I confess that this is less a scholarly opinion than a personal apprehension, but it appears to me that man and science today are in a kind of metaphysical arms race with each other.  Science continually tries to codify and categorize the human experience in terms of quantifiable data, while man repeatedly shows himself to be more complicated than any concrete measurement can communicate.  If only we could fit people into square simple boxes that compare neatly through standardized tests.  But our whole undefinable nature is repulsed by the proposal.    These are troubling times, and the human spirit is aching for a change of heart.

Your servant,

TWM

Are Bad People Just Stupid?

“For indeed, the happiest potential issue

Experienced men achieve through plans.”

  Oedipus Rex, 44-45 (trans. liberally by TWM)

Dear Ernest,

In an effort to make this letter as concise and to the point as possible, while passing over any superfluous details, specifics, or particulars and avoiding any unnecessary repetitions or reiterations of the same concepts in different words, I have—for this purpose—decided to forgo the inclusion of any kind of absurdly lengthy and savagely magniloquent introductory sentence or paragraph—which might, even while appealing to my own grotesque and gaudy sensibilities, betray for my audience my embarrassing and deeply rooted verbosity—abstaining from so much, I have chosen instead to cut right to the chase: not all bad people are stupid.

In your last letter: “What are your thoughts on the Platonic [notion] that, if we were to truly know ‘The Good’ then we could do nothing else but that good?”

In so many words, these are precisely my thoughts on the Platonic notion known as ‘Hellenistic Rationalism’—the notion that moral goodness is the same thing as intellectual knowledge.  If I were to make the matter as simple as possible, I’d say that Hellenistic Rationalism is really just a fancy way of claiming that all bad people are stupid.  But even the most casual consideration of the world around us reveals that this isn’t true.  How many brilliant men and women of business have climbed the corporate ladder through deceit and treachery?  How many poets and artists, renowned for their learning and intelligence, have violated sacred vows and died dishonourably of syphilis?  Was not the idolatrous Solomon a divinely educated wise man?  By comparison to the rest of us, all of these people seem to have known ‘The Good’ very distinctly and with that full knowledge have made the deliberate choice to reject it all together.  The central human quality that delineates the boundaries between good and evil must then be something much more fundamental than mere knowledge.

For that matter, it is also more fundamental even than volition.  It is the human essence that can be called either good or evil.  In claiming this, I am saying nothing particularly insightful.  In fact, the tenet is almost circular: ‘that man is essentially good who is good with respect to his essence’.  It means that morality is not determined by what a person knows or what they want to do or what kind of sandwich they prefer to eat at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, but rather, morality is an aspect of who the person is in his or her entirety.  The sophists at the university may be inclined to tell you that education is the key to happiness or goodness or any other desirable quality.  A veteran of war will sooner tell you that a proper training of the will can bring about so much.  I myself would like to say that the trick is to wear a handlebar moustache while composing shamelessly romantic music.  But common sense and linguistic idiom make it clear that being good is a subject concerned exclusively with being.

The problem with mere knowledge of The Good is that it doesn’t necessitate our using of that knowledge.  I know very well that it would be good if I were to clean up my room and my act rather than reading Gradus ad Parnassum or writing an over simplified blogpost on moral philosophy.  But this knowledge of good and evil, as it were, means absolutely nothing to me if I don’t think about it.  In short, I know what’s good for me (most people do), but I’m not thinking about it—I don’t consciously know that I know it.  If you enjoy being arcane, you might call this ‘second order knowing’, and just like the orders of volition, the orders of intellect describe the way that faculty is structured, which means they are a metaphysical aspect of essence.  Usually, when someone does something immoral, it’s not because they didn’t know it was wrong nor because they didn’t want to do The Good, but to put it simply, it’s because they refused to know that they knew the Good that they wanted to want to do.

Your servant,

TWM

P.S. I challenge you to use the word “campanological” in your next post.

Intelligence

νοῦν δή τις εἰπὼν ἐνεῖναι, καθάπερ ἐν τοῖς ζῴοις, καὶ ἐν τῇ φύσει τὸν αἴτιον τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τῆς τάξεως πάσης οἷον νήφων ἐφάνη παρ᾽ εἰκῇ λέγοντας τοὺς πρότερον.


Indeed, when someone said that there was in nature, just as in animals, a mind, a cause of the good, cosmic order and of all the arrangement of things, he seemed like a sober man compared to those before him, who argued otherwise.

-Aristotle, Metaphysics 984b

But how relevant are the blueberries?

Intellectual reader, I invite you to imagine with me a malleable set of declaratives. By this I mean a set of logically related statements that can be altered for the purposes of experimentation; we can take away, add, or reposition declaratives and observe what becomes of the rest of the set. Our first observation will be the way in which each component part is related to each other. Only two sorts of logical relationships may exist between any given pair of statements, though these relationships may be described multiple ways and are best expressed as magnitudes, not booleans. In other words, it is best to discuss the extent to which a certain relationship exists rather than the fact of its existence or lack thereof.

venn diagram figure 1
Figure 1

We will here only discuss one of the two relationships: that of logical consequence. To describe this relationship, we may refer to declaratives as either “following from” one another or else “being contained” within each other. A concrete example is in order: suppose I held before you a black pen; if I were creative enough, I could talk about the pen forever, because there are infinite truths that may be said of this black pen of mine. But suppose, of all the possibilities, I chose to say to you, “this pen exists”. The use of the demonstrative pronoun ‘this’ brings into language all the infinite qualities that the pen possesses; hence, “this pen is black” follows from, or if your prefer, is contained within “this pen exists” because the former is a subset of all the infinite truths contained within the latter.

Figure 2
Figure 2

So picture the two declaratives as a venn diagram; in this instance, it is not a conventional-looking image (figure 1). But if we were to consider another example, the diagram would look more familiar: suppose instead I said to you, “this pen uses black ink, and all pens that use black ink write clearly”. Now you might reply, being the clever reader you are, with another fact that follows and is contained within the previous two; “if that is so,” you would answer in your decorous manner, “then this pen writes clearly”. Aside from our admiration for what a sensible and insightful logician this response makes you out to be, we are now struck by the complexity of a logical phenomenon. Presently we have two statements that intersect to form a third (figure 2), so “this pen writes clearly” follows from the union of “this pen uses black ink” and “all pens that use black ink write clearly”.

Kindly notice that each bubble in the diagrams above may vary in size, depending on what order of infinity it represents. Notice further that, in our second example, A and B share certain common facts, which set of declaratives we call C, but also have some differences. So how closely related are A and B? The answer is a simple measure of area, and it describes a notion that I will call ‘gravity’. To express the formula for gravity, I will refer to the area of a statement X with the symbolic convention, ∫X. So the gravity between A and B in our example is Γ = ∫C / (∫A + ∫B).

This expression solves two important problems. The first is that of defining a scope, a sector of reality that is coherent. Consider an example: you tell a friend that, on theological grounds, you believe it was immoral for him to steal blueberries from Mr. Dimmesdale, and in his contemplative manner, he says, “but ‘God works all things together for the good of those who love Him’, so my deed will ultimately come to good”. You are both right, but he has misapplied a teleological perspective to an analysis of the action itself. The fact that he brought up exists in a larger scope than the matter you are discussing. And defining a scope is no subjective matter, to express it mathematically, we must first make one more definition: a “gravitational average” is the average gravity that one statement bears on each other member of a set. With that in place, a scope is any set of declaratives that exists such that each member has an equivalent gravitational average.

The second issue that gravity solves is that of distinguishing normal functioning from dissociative functioning. Dissociative functioning is a section of a proof of actions on which an alternative declarative bears greater gravity than the primal premise. For a more in-depth discussion of this, see Is Hypnosis Self-Evident? A Concise Philosophical Inquiry, in which post I describe the concept of gravity in different terms that nonetheless mean the same thing.

It seems prudent to define one last term: the Quantum Model of Reality. If we picture reality as a black-board with an infinite area, on which each infinitesimal point represents a fact (and those combine to from larger facts), by the Quantum Model of Reality, we are able to draw lines on the board to sector it off into quantum regions contained within one another; in other words, we can draw a larger circle around a smaller one ad infinitum, where each circle represents a valid scope that is defined in terms of a gravitational average. This is why, elsewhere on this blog, we have referred to reality existing in ‘levels’. In practical application, “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him” can only be discussed in relation to other notions of equal size, and Mr. Dimmesdale’s blueberries still ought be returned.

Are you alone?

If words didn’t exist, you wouldn’t have to read this sentence.

Dear and Deliberative Humphrey,

In your last dispatch, through whatever form disparagement and flower diversion as is your wont, you seemed to make but one thing remotely clear, or at least very nearly verging on or flirting with the possibility of being intelligible to me.  I mean simply this: you are locked inside your own mind.  Aside from that I can’t say I made anything of the entire letter; the good Lord knows I can’t understand a word of your philosophical rambling and intellectual bereavements.  Furthermore, I can’t seem to truly understand even the small portion that I was able to interpret.  If you’re isolated in your own mind, then why on earth are you telling me about it?  It’s your mind, what am I supposed to do? Nonetheless, allow me to offer, in reply, a bit of ancient wisdom and a few spontaneous outburstings of interpretative fancy.  I ask that you begin by considering with me these words:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος.  I will not tell you what these words mean, because I am not sure of this; instead, I will write of them obliquely, and perhaps somehow you, by your honourable wisdom and scrupulous understanding, will discern my words and even these.

The LSJ, a Greek-English lexicon, defines λόγος as “I. the word by which the inward thought is expressed: also II. the inward thought or reason itself”.  This hardly explains anything.  It simply means that λόγος refers, whether indirectly or directly, literally or metaphorically, by definition or by metonymy, to some normative or empirical element, feature, or aspect of the real, imagined, or supposed universe, or to some such item—idealist or realist, specific or universal—that exists beyond the scope of the natural and supernatural universe as we define it.  So a λόγος is something that either communicates something else, or is a thing to be communicated by something else, or else it is the very action of communication, or the universal or circumstantial standard to which things that are communicated ought to be held.

Anyway.  It stands a worthy question for both of us whether thoughts precede words or words precede thoughts.  People often use the word circumlocution.  They talk of forgetting common phrases and being lost for words; as if words were independent objects sitting around somewhere in normative space like scattered buoys, long since set loose across the sea, and now waiting to be found anew or even discovered for the first time.  Neither is the thought often pilloried to fancy a man, at least intellectually, as a lost, normative pilgrim, wandering alone through that very same space, and looking, as it were, for external trappings, to satisfy his inner ardor for expressivity.  The mind is often conceived of as naked and independent agent, shameful and unfit for public exposure; it must be properly clad—by some nameless standard—in lexical decency before departing from the Platonian cave of knowledge.  But was Plato’s a cave of words or of thoughts?  If ever a philosopher thought of a word, did he not do so without using words?  What words could constitute the wording of thoughts?

Any philologist you ask will tell you that ἦν is a form of εἰμί, the ancient Greek ‘verb of being’.  Every language has to have one; you can’t talk about things without them existing or existing in a certain way.  And it’s no secrete, to anyone curious enough, that verbs of being are always among the most morphologically abhorred of lexical units.  They are used so much more frequently than any other word or idea that it’s simply disgusting.  And all those responsible for the existence of ancient Greek seem to have gone out of their way to make existence especially existentially challenging in that language, always to be confused with going or hastening, or beginning a conditional, or a relative clause (sometimes those particles hardly mean anything at all; still, that won’t stop us from writing massive books about them).  But as imperfect as ἦν is, or was, or was being, at least it denotes that much.  The Greeks never made an aorist form of existence; things existed in the past, but always progressively.  Perhaps the concept of instantaneous existence, some romantic, ephemeral beauty, is after all incompatible with the teleological nature of reason and human thought.  That which truly dies never truly was; such things are only beautiful in potential.  Hence, ἦν ὁ λόγος.

Nor, for the teleological Greeks, was seniority any different from sovereignty.  Few people question whether that which comes before is of greater consequence than what follows.  It’s vital for a man thundering away in the desert to make clear that the subject of his shouts precedes the actual words he uses, otherwise his words are worthless in themselves.  But perhaps even in the desert, where there is no one around to hear, the very sense of one’s words, the thoughts that they express, can hold value if the λόγος of them was existing ἐν ἀρχῇ.  Perhaps it’s hermeneutically irresponsible and academically barbaric or uncouth, but I consider it neither poetically offensive nor rhetorically dishonorable to offer a large number of equally authoritative translations: “Reason held sovereignty,” “Logic was in power,” “His word existed first as something separate but προς (beside) Him, but also existed first as the perfect μίμησις (representation, Aristotelian) of Himself, and therefore, θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος (God existed as the Word)”.

It is also curious that for the logically positive medievals, something already as physical as a verbum would have to become flesh.  It seems a λόγος must be something both transcendental and substantial.  It is not an omom isn’t a word.  That’s because om doesn’t mean anything.  I believe a λόγος, while perhaps not merely a word, is surely something that means something, or else is the thing it means.  If we suppose that all words are defined using other words, then there is an infinite web of lexical connections that never explains itself.  But perhaps the inclusion of the definite article to describe ὁ λόγος makes it something real, and as such, something of infinite meaning—it is a worthy consideration whether ὁ λόγος might be the ultimate explanation of the endless, tiresome lexical-web.  Perhaps this is the difference between ὁ Σωκράτης and Σωκράτης.  A λόγος may very well be just another thing—something that exists in a single context at a single point in history.  But then we could hardly doubt that ὁ λόγος must be more than this.  ὁ λόγος must be The Idea, The Universal Truth, Reason, or The Sacred Word, that, while real and physical as the very sounds of one’s voice, or as Socrates himself, yet exists in absolute sovereignty and seniority, standing to the end as it was in the beginning, as something a priory, significant, and personal to all that follows across all nations, tongues, and ages.

Lexically and Intellectually Yours, to Whatever Extent Such a Thing Were Metaphysically Possible,

R. P.

Is Hypnosis Self-evident? A Concise Philosophical Inquiry

You know, the asterisks are footnotes; click on them at your own (aster-)risk.

I am conscious that this essay can be a bit dry at times, and for that I apologise; I promise to keep it as wet as possible, but that can be difficult with the kind of weather we’ve been having these days.  Anyway, here’s the essay:

A Framework

Psychology is a wonderful field but this post will be approaching the phenomenon of hypnosis from a philosophical perspective.  Therefore, while the empirical discoveries made by psychologist are relevant in their abilities to strengthen or weaken the postulates and theories we here formulate—helping us observe and understand the way these principles are realised in the empirical world—they will not be a part of the purely philosophical and normative core of this discussion, which they will serve merely as a guide.  Therefore, when we begin our argument with the most logical step—that of defining the term, ‘hypnosis’—we will make an appeal, strange as it may seem, to normative principle.  The aberrational feature of this proceeding is, of course, the nature of the term we are defining; it is perfectly customary to define a mere word from normative principle—we simply define it as we please and as is fitting to the argument—but we are here defining an empirical process, something that takes place in one particular manner and not another, and therefore, our definition must not be designed merely as to function in the argument, but as to be a proper description of a preexisting empirical and normative actuality.  Therefore, our process shall likewise be aberrational.  We must add an alternative initial step to proceed that of defining this essential term that is the very subject of our argument, a step from which the definition may be derived as a definitive description of a preexisting fact.

Notice that I have described the phenomenon of hypnosis as a ‘preexisting empirical and normative actuality’.  It should seem perfectly natural that hypnosis is something empirical, but perhaps what is less obvious is that it is normative.  To understand why this is, we must understand the nature of that which is normative, of a priori knowledge.  When I ask the question ‘Is hypnosis self-evident?’ I am asking, in more specific terms, whether it is an apriorism, something that may be known without empirical observation.  The quality to which such an inquiry is referring—that is, apriority—is clearly and fully described by the etymology of the language I have used: the latin a priori literally means, ‘from that which is previous’.  Hence when we classify knowledge as a priori, we are saying that it is known from that which precedes rather than that which follows; it is derived from the principle that causes, and therefore precedes, the phenomenon and not from the result of that principle, the phenomenon that follows.  That hypnosis may be of such a nature, that it may be, as it were, a normative principle deducible a priori, follows easily from empirical observation.

Turning to our guide, the field of psychology, we can observe that hypnosis is almost certainly a cognitive process—it is something made possible only by the inherent nature of the mind.  This is because psychologists tell us that people, hypnotised or not, act the way they do as a result of the functioning of their minds.  Therefore, that which precedes the empirical phenomenon of hypnosis, that which is a priori to the way hypnotised people act in the physical world, is something like any other normative reality; it is an actuality or principle that exists, just like math or logic or any other form of reason, purely in the nonphysical realm of the human mind—it is inherent in the nature of human thought, and therefore, can be demonstrated a priori, using only the fundamental axioms that are necessarily and universally self-evident to all of the sane, human populous.*  However, this is a psychologist’s answer to the question.  We shall use it as a guide, cordially thanking the field of psychology for the insight it offers us in defining our task, and then turning, philosophically, to the actual derivation of such a principle.  Because psychology evidences that there must exist a self-evident normative principle that explains hypnosis, it is necessarily self-evident that hypnosis is possible, but to demonstrate this philosophically, our only option is to provide such a principle.  Psychology has served merely to specify the object of our first philosophical inquiry: what is the principle of hypnosis?

The Principiative Metaphor of Time

Notice I have preferred the slightly more awkward wording, ‘what is the principle of hypnosis’ to ‘what is the principle responsible for hypnosis’.  This is because hypnosis is to be considered one and the same thing as the principle that causes it.  The psychologists arguments about whether or in what way hypnosis may be called ‘a state of consciousness’ fill more pages than even I care to read.  Instead, we must consider the significance of such an issue only as it relates to our argument at present.  Hypnosis, regardless of whether it involves altered consciousness, is a way people think.  So philosophically, it is something that happens in the nonphysical realm.  But whenever we describe something ‘happening’ in the nonphysical realm, we do so metaphorically.  For example, we may say that a math problem ‘is calculated’ in the nonphysical, and this implies that there is such a thing as a nonphysical action (what I have called ‘an act of reason’ in another essay), but such a concept is merely a metaphorical aid to help us understand what are actually stagnant principles.  The sum of two numbers might ‘be calculated’, in a sense, but in reality, that summation, that whole math problem, including the fact of its existence and of its answer, is a stagnant principle—that two plus two equals four is merely a normative principle, not an event.  In the same way, there is a sense in which ‘things happen’ in a nonphysical realm, a human mind, in such a way that, after the elapse of a few minutes, the person to whom that mind belongs may be described as ‘hypnotised’, but in truth, those ‘normative occurrences’ are really just components of a stagnant normative principle.  The reason this metaphor of time is convenient is that such normative principles may only be empirically realised with results that occur overtime, and therefore, it is easiest to understand the actual a priori principles as chronological.  For example, in order to realise the stagnant principle that two plus two equals four, we must, in the empirical world, have two of something at one point in time, and then add another two at a later point, at which later point in time, we will observe ourselves to have four.  Likewise, in the empirical world, the stagnant principle that is hypnosis takes time to realise—hypnotic induction is subject to chronology.  We will call this concept ‘the principiative metaphor of time’, for easy reference later—and also because it is important to always have cool names for stuff when writing philosophy.

So to derive this normative principle, and in so doing, to both define hypnosis and confirm that hypnosis is self-evident, we will need to ask a more general question: how is a human mind, a nonphysical realm structured?  Recall this jargon from other random posts: The Nonphysical Realm is the conceptual realm that follows the laws of logic in the same way that the physical realm follows the laws of physics, and the latter term, a nonphysical realm, refers to any realisation of such, any realm in which nonphysical objects that obey the laws of logic may exist.  Hence, the most obvious example of a nonphysical realm is a human mind.

How is a nonphysical realm Structured?

In “The Axiomatic Law of Universal Congruity” (ALUC), it was demonstrated that The Nonphysical Realm consists of metaphorical levels or scopes that exist inside one another—these are the levels of recursion in the self-referential system of logic (‘self-referential’ because ‘logic’ is defined as ‘that which is noncontradictory with itself’).  In that post, I demonstrated that these levels are ‘congruent’ to one another.  This is because, as I explained in that post, each of the levels is defined as ‘that which is noncontradictory with the level in which it is contained’, and so if A is contained inside of B and B inside of C, then there is a congruity between the definitions of level A and level B—because both A and B are contained in C, they are each defined as ‘that which is noncontradictory with level C’, but A is still different from B because it is contained inside of C only through the transitive property as applied to its being inside B.  This is what is meant by ‘congruent’, and is best imagined, as the jargon implies, geometrically.

So The Nonphysical Realm can be thought of as a formal-logic proof.  It begins with a primal premise, or primal cause, which is its first level and is necessarily infinite.*  To this premise is applied the law of noncontradiction, and an infinite recursive system follows.  Liken it to holding two mirrors to face one another: the first mirror is the primal premise, the Absolute Truth; when the definition of reality—’that which is noncontradictory with the primal premise’—is applied, it is like holding another mirror up to the absolute truth to reflect it (because the only thing noncontradictory with an infinite nonphysical construct is the construct itself); what follows is an infinite recursive system, of which each level reflects its apriorism—the thing that precedes it and in which it is contained—according to the law of noncontradiction.

Hence, the answer to our question, ‘how is a nonphysical realm structured?’, is that it is composed of recursive levels that are each noncontradictory with their apriorism, and that there exists, at the root of it all, a primal premise upon which the whole system is based.  Of this structure we will make two relevant observations: (1) Each level has a successively lesser impact on the system than the last, and therefore, the closer a level is to the primal premise, the more it is ‘in the heart of the system’, so that if such a level were somehow altered, it would have a greater impact on the system as a whole than would the alteration of a following level.  This makes the realm a chaotic system by definition.  (2) Although the whole realm is required to follow the laws of logic which are, in summation, the law of noncontradiction, this does not necessitate that no two contradictory declaratives exist within (again, refer to the ALUC for this jargon, or click this footnote: *).  Contradictions may arise as long as they cancel out. Two contradictory declaratives may exist in a nonphysical realm if and only if they are premised by ‘the contradiction declarative’, the declarative which, in the simplest case, merely state that what follows is a contradiction.  So if level A is contained in, and therefore premised by, level B, then A may contain contradictory declaratives Y and Z only if level B contains the contradiction declarative, which states, ‘Y and Z are contradictory, and therefore, A is false’.  To this second observation, we must also add the fact that even if A is declared false by its apriorism, it still may have levels that follow it, even though all such levels will be declared false by B according to the transitive property.  Such levels are analogous, in some respects, to imaginary numbers.  The details of how this works with the recursive model will be more fully explicated in the section of this post titled, ‘Did you notice this is a fractal?’.  But it is prudent to, at this point, make clear at least one complexity:

There may have been some confusion hitherto about the seemingly interchangeable usage of the concepts of ‘declaratives’ and ‘levels’ as well as their respective concepts of ‘following one another’ and ‘being contained within one another’.  These concepts have been used interchangeable because they are merely different ways of describing the same thing.  A declarative follows from an apriorism when its opposite is in contradiction with the former.  For example, “this blog is silly” follows from “all blogs are silly” because its opposite would contradict its apriorism—”this blog is not silly” contradicts “all blogs are silly”.  But there is also a sense in which the declarative that follows is contained inside of its apriorism.  “All blogs are silly” contains the fact of this blog’s own silliness.  In fact, we could roughly conceive of the single declarative “all blogs are silly” as an entire fractal construct, a ‘level’ in a nonphysical system.  Inside of such a level are the facts that each individual blog is silly, and these declaratives together make up exactly what we mean by ‘silly’, they describe the manner in which “all blogs are silly”.  Hence, contained inside of the level “all blogs are silly” is the level “this blog is silly” in which level is contained all the facts about this blog that makes it silly, which together constitute the manner in which it is silly and make up the exact fact of its silliness.

The Consequence of the Principiative Metaphor of Time

I like the label ‘principiative metaphor of time‘, because it expresses the way the metaphor works.  Just as a principle principiates a consequence, the fact of the existence of the empirical realm principiates the metaphor of time when describing principles.  If that sentence was confusing and not helpful, then don’t worry about it.

Anyway.  As I have already alluded to, the human mind is necessarily a nonphysical realm.  This is because we derive the components of a nonphysical realm directly from it.  Again those components are two: (1) a nonphysical realm is conceptual, and (2) is governed by the laws of logic.  As we shall see in the following section, both of these things are descriptions of the human mind.

If we apply the principiative metaphor of time to a nonphysical realm of a human mind, we arrive at human action.  The principles of the mind are expressed overtime through the actions of a person.  And if we call the fundamental entity responsible for all of a persons actions ‘the will’, then the human will is the primal premise of the nonphysical system that is the human mind (of course, this so-called ‘primal premise’ is only really a primal premise of that particular nonphysical system; in the context of The Nonphysical Realm, it is actually a consequence of The Primal Premise).  In other words, a human will is a principle, from which follow an infinite number of congruent levels, all of which make up the human mind and are expressed in the empirical world through human action over time.

Is the mind a nonphysical realm?

It is likely already evident that the significance of our entire argument is determined by our answer to this question alone.  Indeed, for this reason we must be extremely attentive to the way in which we answer it, but we must also realise that the matter is not so simple as a plain yes or no.  Our argument describes the way in which a nonphysical realm necessarily behaves, and in this section, we will argue the extent to which or circumstances under which the human mind resembles a nonphysical realm.  For the sake of simplicity, we have, hitherto, supposed that the human mind were entirely and always a nonphysical realm, but it is now appropriate to discuss the matter.

Of course, we needn’t argue that a human mind is a conceptual realm, for that is merely a matter of definition: the word ‘conceive’ will, in our jargon, mean ‘that which the human mind does’.  The real question is whether the mind is logical—whether it is noncontradictory.  The answer to this question is to be found among the entailments of its identity as a conceptual realm—isn’t that cute.

Hitherto, we have claimed, in The ALUC, that a conceptual realm is not subject to the law of noncontradiction.  This is only partly true.  The problem with such an idea is that it conflicts with the fact that all of reality is noncontradictory.  Elsewhere, we have made an argument for this point: the reason that noncontradiction describes the law of logic is that we, as humans, consider it self-evident that reality itself is noncontradictory, such that if one were given a set of true premises, and were to manipulate them with logical methods in order to arrive at a conclusion whose opposite would contradict those premises, he or she would have arrived at something that is necessarily true.  Hence, in reality, contradiction is impossible.

This posits a problem to the notion of a ‘conceptual’ realm which is not subject to logic: if contradiction is universally impossible, then it must also be normatively impossible.  Certainly, two things that contradict can be conceived of independently, and the notion of their coexistence may also be conceived, but the actual details of how they would so exist, the finer fractal levels of a reality that includes their coexistence, cannot.  For example: one can conceive of a brown dog that is white, but only in a limited sense.  It is possible to conceive of a brown dog, and it is also possible to conceive of a white dog, and even the notion of both conflicting descriptions being applied to the same dog is conceivable.  But we cannot imagine the finer details of how such a dog would exist; we cannot picture it, we cannot describe it biologically, nor conceive of any finer detail to its existence than the mere fact that it exists.  Of course, we could make up further things about it, but we cannot conceive of anything that would follow from its existence.  One might suppose that this would be a mere matter of conceiving of the details of a brown dog’s existence, and then those of a white dog, and combining the sets; however, such a process merely delays the problem, as the two sets would contain contradictions that could not be reconciled any more than this first premise—further, none of the declaratives in those sets would literally follow from the contradictory premise; that is, they would not follow from the fact of the dog’s simultaneous brownness and whiteness.  (A side note for those of you who think it’s clever: we’re discussing a dog that is fully brown and also fully white; a spotted dog doesn’t bear relevance.)

For this reason, there is no such thing as a realm that literally fits the description we have applied to the conceptual realm.  However, a conceptual realm can be ‘created’ within a normative one simply by premising it with a contradiction declarative.  Such a realm exists in the same way that imaginary numbers exist in higher mathematics: the number i represents an impossibility, and therefore, is not a real number, but it allows us to perform operations with real numbers that could otherwise not be achieved.  Hence, real conclusions follow from an imaginary premise.  In the same way, if we discuss it in terms of the mathematical field of formal logic, ‘the conceptual’ is not a real realm, but nonetheless may result in real conclusions, namely, the same union set previously alluded to: the union of all that follows from a brown dog and all that follows from a white dog.  Again the analogue of imaginary numbers is convenient in that in both fields–algebra and formal logic–imaginary concepts are responsible for one problem having multiple answers.

What about when weird stuff happens?

So we have a primal premise, a stagnant principle, the human will, governing all sorts of other stagnant principles, which are noncontradictory all the time except for when they aren’t.  That all seems fine.  But what about when weird stuff happens?  What if a declarative ‘entered’ the mind* that presented a contradiction?  Suppose it were a declarative that stated, “all of what follows needn’t be noncontradictory with the will”.  Such a declarative would be a species of contradiction declarative, and even as such it would still exhibit a whole branch of consequences, resulting levels.

In order for such a ‘normative phenomenon’ to occur, the will would have to ‘agree to’, i.e. be in noncontradiction with, the existence of such a declarative.  But then what would happen?  Would the actions follow from the principles in accordance with the principiative metaphor of time?  In what sense does the declarative ‘cancel out’ what follows?  Every declarative inside the nonphysical system of the mind is paired with an unwritten declarative that states that it is in noncontradiction with the primal premise (this is much like the unwritten coefficient of ‘one’ that is in front of all mathematical expressions).  It is this unwritten declarative that ‘relates’ the declarative to which it refers to the primal premise.  We might think of these unwritten declaratives as creating a kind of ‘table of contents’ for the nonphysical system.  But when a declarative is added that allows that which follows it to contradict the primal premise, it effectively removes from the table of contents all that follows and cancels out the respective unwritten declaratives, but not the corresponding ones to which they were referring.

The table of contents is what must be noncontradictory with itself; it’s the metaphor by which we imagine the law of noncontradiction being applied.  Even this step—of applying the rule of noncontradiction—must occur independently and ‘chronologically’ according to the principiative metaphor of time.  Hence, there is, metaphorically, a list of all the declaratives contained in the system (or really, of all those which need to be noncontradictory with each other), and at every ‘CPU tick’, every tick of logic or step in the proof, the list is checked to ensure that every possible combination is noncontradictory.  In theory, the removed items would together form a whole other table of contents dissociated from the one containing the primal premise, because they still exist in a nonphysical realm and must therefore be noncontradictory with each other.  In a sense, they are still even linked to the primal premise via the contradiction declarative.  The contradiction declarative (the declarative that states, “all that follows needn’t be in noncontradiction with the primal premise”) itself retains the unwritten declarative, remains on the table of contents, and must, therefore, be noncontradictory with the primal premise; so in this sense, the whole alternative table of contents is still, indirectly, governed by the primal premise.  The contradiction declarative is effectively an alternative primal premise, but one which follows from, and therefore must, in some way, resemble, the original primal premise.  To what extent that alternative must resemble the original depends on to what extent the original necessitates its own semblance.

Because the whole system is recursive, self-similar, even the primal premise alone can be thought of as an entire system of levels, with a table of contents and what have you.  And in such a system, certain things are necessarily the way they are, and others are flexible.  Each declarative has a series of others that follow it, but often, that series could potentially be an entirely different one.  For example, there might be a declarative A from which B follows (and a whole system of others follow B) or C follows (and, likewise, a whole system follows C), but either B or C are logically permissible, as neither is contradictory with A.  In the realisation of this system that is the primal premise, only one or the other will follow A, but this means that in the ‘alternative primal premise’, the contradiction declarative, the alternative option may be allowed to follow.  So, both the primal premise and the contradiction declarative will give rise to similar constructs, but not identical ones.  The commonality between the two will be, at a minimum, the declarative called the ‘primal premise’ when viewed from the infinitesimal degree of intricacy, as this is, itself, only a declarative, an infinitesimal assertion, and not also a whole self-similar system, a whole normative level.

If the facet of a human being that is aware of and forms opinions about all of his or her actions is called the ‘human consciousness’, than such is, in our metaphor, the ‘table of contents’.  The table of contents checks everything for noncontradiction—this is, on an infinitesimal level, what we mean when we say, ‘forms opinions’ (recall from other posts that emotions are fractal constructs of logic—with logic being noncontradiction).  So this alternative table of contents that is associated with the alternative primal premise is a dissociated consciousness.  The person is conscious of everything that follows the alternative primal premise, but only to the extent that such information, and its associated table of contents (its ‘consciousness’) is similar to what precedes it, which need only be as far as the infinitesimal link, the true primal premise, dictates.

In other words, to whatever extent the dissociated table of contents is the same as the original, i.e. possesses the same items, it is, to that extent, being check by the original.  If a person is aware of certain facts, and then he or she has a dissociated consciousness, which is also aware of certain facts, then the person will be aware of his or her dissociated consciousness to whatever extent the facts known by the two are common.

Did you notice that this is a fractal?

An easy thing to over look in these arguments—and such oversight often may cause a lot of confusion—is the fact that the nonphysical constructs we are dealing with have fractal structures.  This affects our understanding of what precedes in two ways: (1) It helps us describe exactly what we mean by ‘dissociated consciousness’.  The contradiction declarative, as we have already said, can be expressed as, “all that follows needn’t be in noncontradiction with the primal premise”, but there are also certain implications in the way the declarative is formed such that a more full expression of the same might read, “all that follows [from this declarative] needn’t be in noncontradiction with the primal premise, [but must instead be evaluated against this declarative]”.  Such implications are made simply by using the word ‘follows’.  The fact that other declaratives follow from the contradiction declarative implies that they are premised by it, and therefore, observe certain demands it sets.  The way we have initially expressed the contradiction declarative is analogous to expressing the primal premise as, “this nonphysical system exists”.  Such is the essence of the primal premise, and from it follows everything else; however, contained within that single larger statement is a whole fractal construct which explicates the manner in which the system exists, and therefore, the exact manner in which the premise is intended.  Likewise, the contradiction declarative allows things to be dissociated from the primal premise only in a particular manner.  Contained within the single declarative is a whole system formed similarly to the primal premise—a system designed in such a way that the original primal premise allows for declaratives to follow from this alternative system just as if from itself.  In this way, what follows the contradiction declarative is—when we observe it from this finer scope—still in noncontradiction with the original primal premise, but only indirectly so.  The original premise allows for an alternative system to usurp its former sovereignty over the whole construct, but this is only made possible by that alternative system’s adherence to the demands of the original—if this were not so, we could not describe the mind as a rational realm.  Of course, the two tables of contents relate to each other in the same way, and this is what is meant by ‘dissociated consciousness’: the alternative consciousness is designed consciously.

(2)  It allows for a continuum to exist between this state of dissociated consciousness and normal consciousness.  What we have just described in the previous paragraph is really, in essence, no different from normal functioning.  We define ‘normal functioning’ as the relating of each declarative to its apriorism through noncontradiction.  (Normal functioning corresponds to ‘normal consciousness’ as does ‘dissociated functioning’ to dissociated consciousness—the former of each refers to the structure of declaratives and the latter to that of the table of contents.)  Hence, this ‘dissociated functioning’ we have described, is just a more complicated instance of normal functioning.  Each declarative is noncontradictory to its apriorism, but one of those declaratives is of such a peculiar kind that the system begins to converge around it in much the same way that it ordinarily did around the primal premise.  As we have acknowledged earlier, the entire nonphysical system is chaotic, each level bears a lesser influence on the whole system than what precedes it, and in this way, the primal premise bears the greatest gravity in determining the overall structure of the system.  However, each declarative bears a certain amount of such gravity, but in normal functioning, the exact magnitude of such is determined by how early the declarative occurs in the following of the primal premise, where as in dissociated functioning, a late declarative begins to develop a gravity disproportionate to its placement.  In this way, a continuum exist between the two states.  A declarative is only called a noncontradiction declarative when it passes a certain threshold, at which point its fractal structure is just so that it bears greater gravity than ought, but because the construct that a declarative represents is fractal, each point along the continuum, each magnitude of gravity, is possible.

Simple, not Minimalist

lucem at quoque noctem plus vel enim amo.

Upon moving into my residence hall here at the university last week, I encountered a bit of difficulty.  It seemed my plans were too complicated for the room.  The microwave plug didn’t fit into the power strip and this meant that the whole apparatus I had formed—with the printer on top of the microwave and the microwave on top of the refrigerator—had to be relocated to a place in the room that would better accommodate for all the electrical connections.  I had, from the start, opposed my bringing of so many appliances to school, but my parents insisted that I do so in order to make the place more comfortable and ‘home-like’.

After trying out a few different arrangements of the room, each one feeling more cramped than the last, I settled on stuffing all the appliances except the refrigerator into a small storage space in the upper part of the wardrobe and moving the furniture into the least confining arrangement possible.  When I was all done with this, I felt quite remarkably liberated; suddenly the little space, which had seemed very much to resemble a prison only moments ago, transformed itself into a rather pleasant study and dormitory.  Now I have a big beautiful desk basking in natural sunlight beside the window where I can lay out my orchestra scores to work (see figure 1).

I told my mum how I felt about this when I rang her up that evening.  She and I both agreed that if I felt more comfortable without all the clutter, I didn’t need to use it, seeing as comfort was the original purpose of the supplies.  As I write this, all of the mentioned supplies, along with several other items, are sitting in that storage place, waiting patiently to be brought home.  The new order of my room is by no means minimalistic—aside from the refrigerator I mentioned, I also have here a good number of my books and my unicycle—but it is simple.  That’s the beauty of it.

On the same day that I made these arrangements, I was thinking about economic styles of music, art, and writing.  Among the many examples of the aesthetic I had in mind were a couple of scenes in Shakespeare, that popped into my head, as well as the opening line of Milton’s famous epic, which reads:  “Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit of that forbidden tree”.  Part of the brilliance of this line is how simply it conveys something so large and complicated.  Instead of droning on and on pedantically to lay out the details of a theological framework for the ‘fall of man’, Milton leans into the lexical and philosophical associations already built into the English language—perhaps placed their directly by the hand of God himself—in order to discuss not only the hamartiology of an ‘original sin’ or ‘total depravity’, nor the soteriology of ‘salvation’, but the entire human understanding of all the associated ideas, dreamings, and truths that have been passed down via the Indo-European language from before the time of the Romans to the present, now to be contained in the single English word ‘fruit’.

You may have already sensed this by now if you read this blog often, but I am, quite frankly, all about complexity.  I make nearly every form of art or study that I engage in as complicated as I possibly can.  But the reason things ought to be so complex, in my mind, is because that’s the only way they can become simple.  One of the greatest transformations that western languages have undergone over time is simplification.  Dead languages often have very complicated grammars, and it is through these original complex systems that modern languages have come to posses the power they hold today in their much simpler forms.  We might also note, however, the way this complexity supported something simpler even in the ancient languages themselves.  If this post were written in Ancient Greek or Latin, you would probably be finished reading it by now (assuming you were as fluent in one of those languages as you are in English).   Indeed, you would have probably finished reading a good while ago; the reason for this is that the more complicated grammars allowed for more economic communication—simpler sentences had more complicated meanings than in modern English.

I am not here by proposing that ‘less is more’.  That’s ridiculous!  Less is less.  But somehow the God of the universe has been able to communicate to humanity everything they need to know in order to be self-conscious and self-willing creatures, and if so much is possible, then is it not our duty, as artists, thinkers, and human beings, to at least try, by virtue of that very possibility, to stuff the entire human experience into something portable and sharable?

The beauty of fractals is that no matter how much or how little of their detail you can make out, they look similar and appear the same.

On Humanity and Recursion

Having discussed the essentiality of rhetoric to humanity, I now wish to further generalise and universalise the claim.

Notice that existence is the foundation of perspective.  We might define a person’s perspective as “the way in which that person exists”.  In other words, a person has all sorts of attitudes that make up his perspective, but these attitudes can be understood as qualitative descriptions of his existence—he exists in a way such that he favours existence over nonexistence.

It follow then, that underlying this principle of rhetoric, which is the foundation of humanity, is the principle of recursion.  Rhetoric is the power to observe the perspective from which observation takes place—to observe one’s own existence.  Likewise, morality is the power to act in observation of the perspective from which action is taking place, and love is the power to do so on a larger scale.  It is this principle of recursion that gives rise to the concept of a moral agent.  A moral agent is an entity that posses the power to observe its own existence.  For this reason a universalised morality is one in which maxims are formed in observation of all moral agents—being a self-similar construct to a personal morality.  Morality dictates that our actions observe that which observes itself.  In this way, morality is merely the method of creating a self-observant nature.

This relates nicely to the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.  In John 14:11, Jesus tells us that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him.  In other words, God is that which contains Himself.  Hitherto, we have seen that reality is made up of self-similar layers, and that these layers define each other and themselves though causality.  Hence, the Primal Cause is that layer which defines itself through causality, and ergo, causes itself.  In metaphysical terms, we might say that God is the Deification of the principle of self-observation, and in so being, is likewise the Deification of morality, reason, and love.

The fact that a rationally sound reality is necessarily self-similar helps us understand the doctrine of Imitatione Christi (trans. in a manner that imitates Christ).  All that follows from the Primal Cause must be similar to it, and must therefore observe all those things which observe themselves, which equates to acting morally, rationally, and lovingly—in short, acting Imitatione Christi.

Humanity and Rhetoric

In his foundational work, The Art of Rhetoric, Aristotle defines rhetoric as “the power to observe the persuasiveness of which any particular matter admits” (1355b).  In other words, rhetoric is essentially about observation.  It’s about understanding and being aware of the manner in which a particular matter is conveyed for the persuasion of an audience.  Aristotle tells us that this art “belongs to no delimited science” (1354a).  Rhetoric is a facet of all modes of communication and thought, and it may indeed be not merely this but the very most fundamental property of the human mind.  Persuasion is the derivation of a particular perspective, whether such a perspective is being imposed on a third-party or on the self, and human thinking begins with perspective, whether absolute or relative.  A human being is required to have attitudes about things in order to think.  He must find certain things important enough to think about and other things not; he must hold certain methods of deliberation to be more valid than others; and above all, he must hold the facts of reality to be somehow significant—that is, significant in a particular manner and not another.  All these things are the makeup of his perspective.  And rhetoric is the power to observe this very most primitive part of the human mind.

If we understand rhetoric in this way (i.e. we take on this perspective of rhetoric), then we find that rhetoric is the core principle of all matters that are distinctly human.  We may take the field of art as an example.  Art is often understood as being among the most humanising acts in which a person can partake.  And yet, we find that at the centre of all art is a principle of rhetoric.  After all, the purpose of art is to communicate a perspective of reality; art is the power to observe the human attitude of grief over things like death and loss and of joy over things like birth and love.  We might say that art is the celebration of creativity and the mourning of destruction; it is the power to observe a perspective that values being over nonbeing.

And indeed, I do believe this is what makes humanity what it is.  We have been endowed with the power to observe being, that is, to observe our own existence.  Hence, human morality, as we have elsewhere discussed, is the power to act in observance of one’s own existence, and love is the power to do so on a much larger scale.  More on this to come.

On Aesthetics and Existence

Suppose there were some sort of nonhuman, rational being wandering the earth and observing human life.  This nonhuman, we will call him a ‘metahuman’, has nothing in common with humanity except reason alone.  He doesn’t experience the same desires that we do, nor possess the same needs.  In fact, let us say that he is subject to no desires or needs whatsoever.  As he makes his way through our curious little planet, he encounters a good number of phenomena with which his rationality is perfectly reconciled.  By virtue of being rational, he understands that a being must act in promotion of its own sustainment; this is simply a manifestation of adherence to the core principle of rationality–noncontradiction.  And so it comes as no surprise to him that people eat food.  A quick explanation of the natural science behind the human anatomy allows him to understand this act as rational and noncontradictory to existence.  He is also at ease when he sees people working for money to buy that food, exercising to help maintain the body in other ways, and getting married to help maintain the population.  With all these things, I believe our metahumane friend would be quite satisfied.

There is, however, an aspect of the human experience that I suspect might not sit as well with him.  That aspect is human philocaly, the love of beauty.  Upon extended observation of human living, I believe he might find himself asking, “why do these creatures so fastidiously obsess themselves with matters of absolutely no relevance to their existence?”  “Why,” he might ask, “do the sit for long hours watching the sunrise?  why do they drive themselves mad over the colours of oils on canvases or arrangements of sounds over time?  The time they spend on these things could be better spent working for food, eating food, exercising, or reproducing.” It seems that art is a superfluous facet of human existence.

However, while such an observation might vex our metahuman, if he is capable of being vexed, I do not think that he should outright object to it.  There is, after all, nothing inherently self-contradictory about art.  Art is, by all means, rationally permissible, but what the metahuman would understand, and we must realise, is that, ostensibly, art is rationally unnecessary.

It seems that art neither opposes nor promotes human existence.  And for the metahuman, a being’s existence is the first step in a deductive proof that merits his or her actions.  By taking existence as a given, the metahuman can prove that a human being must eat and exercise and must not undergo self-imposed starvation or deprival of exercise because such do’s and don’t’s are rationally necessary.  All behaviour that a being exhibits is only made possible by his or her existence, and so, in order to be rationally sound, none of such behaviour may oppose that being’s existence, for to do so would be to create, as it were, a contradiction in the normative ‘proof of actions’.  In other words, there is a logical fallacy in a chain of reasoning that reads, “A exists, therefore A acts, therefore A does not exist”*.  Likewise, there are certain actions that a being must take in order to sustain existence, which may be called ‘rationally necessary’.  Obviously, to neglect to do such things is to passively oppose existence and to, therefore, once again create a logical fallacy.  Ergo, all rational beings are demanded, by their reason, to avoid actions that oppose their existence and execute those that promote it.

However, in a sense, art neither promotes nor opposes human existence.  No one has ever starved from musical malnourishment (though I have had nightmares …) nor died of prolonged exposure to oil paintings.  It seems then, at least prima facie, that art has no baring on the metahuman’s proof of actions.  Hence, how it should be handled in the formal proof becomes quite a difficult matter.  Occam’s Razor might suggest that we remove it by default, but this seems a mere ‘easy way out’ of a question that rests on empirical evidence which powerfully suggests alternatives. The very fact that humans do indeed partake in the enjoyment of art seems to suggest that Occam’s Razor cannot be here applicable for one of three reasons: (1) humanity is not rational after all, as demonstrated by her irrational aesthetic passions, (2) art is a necessary part of the proof of actions in some more nuanced way than we have yet understood, or (3) art is necessitated by something other than the ‘primal premise’ in the proof of actions.

(By ‘primal premise,’ I mean existence; the jargon is intended to portray the analogical link between this and the Primal Cause Argument for the existence of God.  It is supposed, under the Primal Cause Argument, that given the existence of the universe and humanity, within the context of causality, a ‘primal cause’ that came first and without a cause of its own is a metaphysical necessity.  Our currant discourse takes the existence of humanity as the ‘primal premise’ in a proof of actions that demonstrates the rational necessity of self-sustainment.  This link will be important later on.)

Of course the first of these three reasons is, in its present form, utterly absurd because it denies the existence of human reason, on which it is dependent, as evidenced by its classification as a ‘reason’.  However, we might refine it a bit to say that, while humanity is capable of being rational, art is an example of her departure from rationality, however exceptional such a behaviour might be for her.  But that is a rather lame explanation of art, especially considering the fact that this blog purposes to demonstrate that beauty is a fractal construct of reason.  Therefore, we will be finding that the better option is either two or three.

In order to consider the reason for human philocaly, we must begin by considering the reason for human philosophy˚.  As it turns out, human philosophy is indeed rationally necessary, however its necessity is less clearly linked to the ‘primal premise’.  If belief is–as many have considered it to be–the act of depending on a supposed truth, then human beings have no choice but to believe in some things and not in others.  By sitting here, typing this post, I am believing that my computer will not explode in my face and kill me.  I am counting on that fact.  If I were to believe that my computer is going to explode, then my act of writing this post would be irrational, as it would be opposing my existence.  Hence, in order to be a rational being, I must believe certain things and not others (which, in this case, means that, given my sitting here typing, I must believe that my computer will not explode and not that it will).  This is because the rationality of an act (i.e. its promotion and non-opposition of existence) is dependent on certain suppositions that surround the act–that is, we must ‘count on’ or ‘believe in’ certain supposed truths in order for the action, or more accurately, the intention behind the action, to be classifiable as an action (or intention) of self-sustainment.  But the only rational way I can arrive at a belief is by way of philosophy.  In other words, it is irrational to count on the veracity of a given supposition without reason to do so.  Hence, the existence of reason (which is simply a more specific facet of the ‘primal premise’) is self-sustained by philosophy.  And so, philosophy is rationally necessary.

Recall from the previous ALUC posts that art, the discourse of emotions, is really an extension of philosophy, the discourse of reason, in that emotions are fractal constructs of rational processes.  Therefore, it seems that art may be necessitated by the mere fact of philosophy’s necessity.  If we are required, by reason, to rationally deliberate truth in order to arrive at rational beliefs, then why would we not also be required to do the same emotionally?  Human engagement in art is, in this sense, simply a way of making use of all methods of discovering truth available to the human.

Now would be a good point in the essay to point out a flaw in our model of reason thus far; I think I’ll do just that: The average Christian or reasonable thinker reading this post has already been quite troubled by the whole idea of self-sustainment.  We Kantian moralists, who make up most of the world, like to think that morality is an extension of rationality, and as such, must be governed by the laws of reason.  Therefore, the idea that reason would incessantly demand our constant attendance to self-sustainment is troubling to the Christian who believes that self-sacrifice is the core principle of all morality.  Hence, it seems our model has been all too simple.

Allow me, therefore, to do a bit of remodelling.  In Computer Science (the science of programming computers) there are conceptual entities called “objects”.  An “object” is something that sits out somewhere in the computer’s memory and can be called to perform tasks or can be acted on by other objects.  The particular tasks that a given object might be able to perform are decided on by the programer, and the possibilities are nearly endless.  However, one task that an object can never perform is self-deletion.  This is because of the logical fallacy that we have been discussing; it simply doesn’t make logical sense for something to destroy itself, and computer science reflects this inescapable normative principle.  However, sometimes, as you might imagine, objects do in fact need to be deleted.  For this task, the system itself must be called.  In other words, to delete an object, we must act not within the object’s personal scope, but within a larger scope that contains the object, which is called the system in the case of computer science.

A very similar phenomenon occurs in life outside of computers.  Sometimes there comes a point when objects need to be deleted, persons need to die.  At such a time, the principle still holds that a moral agent cannot delete himself, but a larger scope must be called on for his deletion.  So far, we have discussed the proof of actions as a self-contained system of rationality—something that is demanded to be non-contradictory with itself.  But if reality is fractal, then this “larger scope” that we are calling on must actually be self-similar; it must be similar to the “proof of actions” construct which it contains.  Hence, the deletion of a person must be appealed to the primal premise not of a proof of actions contained within the person, but of such a proof contained only by the scope of reality itself.

If you’re wondering what such a primal premise could possibly be, recall the disgustingly long and tastelessly obtrusive parenthetical element above in which the link between a ‘primal premise’ and a ‘primal cause’ was alluded to.  Herein lies the point: if the self-similar construct that is reality contains moral agents with proofs of actions that are premised on the respective existences of those agents, then reality itself is a massive proof of actions that is premised on its own existence (and since its existence is premised on its primal cause, we may say that this is the primal premise of the universal proof of actions, and consequentially, is the universal analogue of a moral agent’s existence).  Hence, the first line of the universal proof of actions reads: “Reality is.”  And because reality is subject to logic, all following lines must be non-contradictory to the existence of reality—or more specifically, to the existence of the primal cause and its particular nature.

And so, we appeal to this universal proof of actions for the deletion of a person; however, even within this larger scope, the deletions of persons is irrational.  Because reality is fractal, the principle that a moral agent cannot be deleted (which originates within the scope of the agent himself as a principle of self-sustainment) is reconstructed in larger, congruent scopes by necessity, including the scope of reality itself.  So the fact that there come occasions when persons must be deleted poses a serious threat to the logical soundness of the universal system (reality).

However, notice the phrase “a person must be deleted”; this implies that the deletion of the person is logically necessary.  Hence, we have a contradiction.  The principle of non-deletion that is perpetuated up through the self-similar system demands that persons are never deleted, however, sometimes reality demands that they are (e.g. in the case of war).  This tells us that something went wrong earlier in the proof of actions; some phenomenon has opposed reality and defied logic.  We will explore the phenomenon in a later post.  At present, we must merely understand that there is a contradiction, and that the contradiction must be fixed.  Logic demands that something be done in the universal proof of actions in order to correct the error.

So allow me to present the contradiction clearly:  Two moral agents are placed on a metaphysical see-saw, but only one is allowed to step off, leaving the other to go hurling down through the endless abyss of nonexistence (that is, of death or whatever the particular situation calls for).  Each moral agent is demanded to preserve both himself (by his own proof of actions) and the other agent (by a congruent construct of the other agent’s proof of actions).  It’s quite a pickle.  The only rational solution is the beautiful mathematical principle of Substitution.  One of the agents must choose to substitute his own primal premise with that of the other agent; that is, he must value the other agent’s existence in place of his own.  People less esoteric and nerdy than myself call this “love”.

That is exactly what has happened in the case of the universal proof of actions.  As a consequence of some error, humanity got set on a chain of reasoning that leads directly to death, but because it is logically necessary for man to keep on existing, the Primal Cause himself made the Grand Substitution.  The existence of man was substituted for the existence of Reality, causing all the equations to boggle about as reality demanded its own destruction and the very principle that called  for the deletion to be made was set to be deleted, reversing the error and undefying logic.  All this, we know, must have happened for two reasons: (1) it is the only possible solution to the contradiction, and (2) it maintains self-similarity with other proofs of actions (e.g. when a man sacrifices his life for his country).

As a result of all this, Substitution has become a principle of logic.  It logically necessary (and therefore morally right) for persons to sacrifice themselves for others because Reality has sacrificed itself for them.  The principle of Substitution trickles down to latter iterations of the universal fractal in this way.  For that matter, I might point out that logic is simply defined by whatever the Primal Cause does.  In other words, self-sustainment is logically necessary because the Primal Cause exists and continues to exist, and self-sacrifice is logically necessary because the Primal Cause sacrifices itself; every action that the Primal Cause takes is imitated in every smaller scope of reality due to its self-similar structure—that’s what logic is.

So logic is defined by the actions of the Primal Cause.  This might leave us wondering: why does the Primal Cause act in the way it does?  Or to put it more bluntly, what defines the actions of the Primal Cause?  The only answer I have for this is “the Primal Will”.  The “Primal Will” is the end of the line in the determining of actions.  The Primal Cause does what it does simply because that’s the way things Absolutely are.  Christians and non-christians alike might find interesting what the Bible has to say about this.  In Revelations 4: 11, it say, “You are worthy, our Lord and our God, to receive Glory and Honour and Power, because you created all things and through your will they exist and were created”.  Where I have translated “through your will,” the ancient Greek reads “διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου” which we might also translate “because of your pleasure”.  So in one sense, we understand that things are the way they are because they ought to be (because it’s God’s will), but in another sense, they’re just that way for the fun of it (because of God’s pleasure).  Either way, the verse contends that He is to receive glory and honour for this—God’s will or pleasure is absolutely Good.  However, what this means is that as intricate and difficult to decipher as reality is, the fractal is that way in part because that is how it ought to be, but also simply for the mere fun of it.  God choose to create, to love, and to die for that love for the sake of his good pleasure, his θέλημά.

Now that was a pretty long tangent.  Remember, this post is about philocaly.  And so I ask what is art if not the highest form of Substitution available to man?  Art is the surrendering of one’s self to beauty, the giving of one’s soul to all of humanity.  An artist is demanded to be courageous and bold; he must wildly surrender everything with which his creator has endowed him to the creation of something beautiful—a love letter to humanity.  When he performs this creative task, he is acting rationally and in congruity with his maker’s primal act of creation and self-sacrifice, which was conducted under the Καλός Θέλημά (Good Will or Beautiful Pleasure, Καλός being the word from whence we get ‘philocaly’ – the love of beauty; the love of good).

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* Obviously an application of the transitive property to this statement makes it read “A exists, therefore A does not exist,” which, needless to say, is utter nonsense.

˚Just when you thought those ivory towers couldn’t grow any higher and the thinkers inside them couldn’t become anymore distanced from the real world, the philosophers start philosophising about philosophy.