Human as ‘World’

One of my philosophical goals is to build a comprehensive and consistent account of… pretty much everything I can manage to stuff into it.  I think that I’m a systems builder at heart – I want to build edifices out of words which will amaze and astound those who read it.  Many of my previous posts have detailed some of my constructive efforts, mostly focused on autonomy, morality, and epistemology.  Over the last few days I’ve had some interesting larger structural ideas about this project, and I’m going to write some of them out in this post.  Many of them are more full of holes then Swiss Cheese at this point, so, as always, I appreciate any feedback that you have for me.

First I’ll give a very quick summary of my structure as it stands.  We are experiencing entities. It is the substance of our existence, the flesh and bones of agency.  Through our experience we construct our ‘world’.  By our nature we are continuously faced with choice, or the challenge of having will.  I define our beliefs to be the parameters within which we understand our normative choices (i.e. our beliefs define our options).  This means that epistemic beliefs are also at once normative beliefs – we cannot have an experience of ‘is’ without the is also being reflected in our ‘ought’ considerations.  There are two ways in which we can relate to our autonomy – we can be subservient to the world and take it as a given, or we can continuously engage with experience and thus be autonomous.  We cannot seize the second, but instead can only be gifted it by experience.

I feel that in my musings I’ve given this account a decent amount of flesh, but it feels like a part hanging in empty space.  Now I’m going to explore some ideas that I have had for the surrounding structure.  There are a number of problems that I’m trying to address here.  The first problem that I want my structure to address is inter-subjectivity.  As I’ve previously stated, I’m inclined towards Husserlian bracketing of the question of realism verses idealism.  One of the issues that I’ve been struggling with is that I believe there is a real world (in the realism sense) but I also think that this ‘real world’ cannot be thought of as the world that we experience.  It is reality sans all concepts, meaning, and entities.  I do not think of this formless real as ‘truth’ but instead as an unthinkable – for how can we think of things as they would be if they were not an experience?  My move instead is to think of each experiencing entity as a ‘world’ onto themselves.  We constitute a world when we experience.  I think a good case to make this more intelligible is the way that we constitute a storm.  When we experience wind and rain on our skin, and see wind blowing objects around us, the entire space around us becomes ‘stormy’.  Strictly speaking we experience only a tiny fragment – the rain on us, the wind on us – but we extend these fragments into the concept of an entire storm.  In this way our experience becomes an entire world.  These worlds together (as in, many experiencing entities) somehow constitutes the inter-subjective reality of agents (maybe?).

Does this mean that the real is merely that which we perceive?  I would say no.  I divide an experiencing ‘world’ (or person) into two distinct parts: the experience (consciousness, roughly speaking), and the giving of experience (which can be indistinctly cut apart into outside, body, and the unconscious).  We (as consciousness) cannot control the way the world is ‘given’ to us in any direct fashion.  The relationship between these two parts defines our autonomous state.  The ‘given’ can be wholly dominant.  If the given is dominant then consciousness takes experience (the world as it knows it) as inevitable.  In the second state consciousness grapples with the submerged element, or the given.  In this grappling the consciousness takes experience as non-inevitable, and attempts to impose on experience its own nature (desires?).  At the same time, however, the consciousness realizes that it does not know itself, and part of its grappling with the submerged giver is to pull as much as it can from below into itself.  The consciousness can never dominate the given, however.  It will never pull all of the given into the light of experience.  The given is the element that unifies collective experience – as much as the depths of the given are the same, so too do humans inhabit the same world.

Part of the nature of this world entity is action.  The entity continuously expresses its epistemology normatively.  There can be conflict within the entity on normative questions, but the actions of the entity at any one moment represent its ultimate normative position at that moment.  I’m still playing with this idea, but I think even actions such as breathing and sleeping can be captured in this framework – the desires of the body are part of the normative beliefs of the whole, and so we can say that as long as an entity is not committing suicide at any particular moment it desires to subsist.

Let me know what you think, thank you for reading,


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Literary Modeling

When I was younger, so much younger than today…

I had a notion about literature that I have since reneged on.  I used to think that something that was missing from literature was a successful capture of the real.  Where were all the trips to the bathroom, the awkward non-conversations?  Why was it important to write people speaking grammatically when we so often fail to speak grammatically?  When I was talking to one of my writing instructors about this, their response was something along the lines ‘you’re kind of right, but who would want to read writing written like that?”  This memory came to me yesterday, and I decided that my old idea no longer fit my current views.  Being able to make something feel real is still vitally important, and I think having a talent for doing so can make an artists career (the example that comes to my mind is Josh Whedon’s Firefly series).   I instead had the thought that literature is more about presenting a model of life.  Literature compresses life into a digestible whole, cutting off  the superfluous and bringing out a story.  A story is not something that exists in life either – the story is part of the cutting that writers take upon themselves.

I think that a very strong analogy could be made between literature modeling, as I describe it here, and scientific modeling. My conception of scientific modeling is that theorists try to cut down the world into thinkable pieces, and these pieces are in many ways fictional.

Let me know what you think,


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On Human Potential

Hey everyone, I’m alive.

First, I want to apologize for my lack of posts – I am working full time at the moment to pay for my masters program.  I’ll probably post more come October when I’m back in an academic environment.  Now, on to ‘gasp’ an actual post!

I’m almost certain that I made a post in the past examining present day liberal and conservative views on human nature, but I didn’t find anything when I searched through my archives.  To do a quick recap of a post that may or may not exist, I’m pretty sure that I explored conservative and liberal trust in human nature.  Basically it is a liberal inclination to see human vice as a product of circumstance, while more conservative people think of vice as an inherent part of the human psyche.  From my readings and reflections, I also believe conservatives take people to be responsible for their circumstance (i.e. we create our situation through free will).  There’s another aspect of modern liberalism and conservatism that I want to explore, the spectrum of trust in human intellect.

Based on my understanding of the general features of liberals and conservatives I would argue that liberalism generally features a trust in our ability to manipulate our world and puts little faith in the goodness of the natural.  Conservatives take the opposite stance – they distrust the human potential to successfully manipulate the world and believe more strongly that the world will turn out alright if left to its own devices.

Lets look at some evidence:
Liberals… generally support taxation (goes against nature) to fund government programs to improve society and redistribute wealth (goes against nature and trust in human intellect).  They generally support environmental activities (not leaving nature to its own devices + believing that we are powerful enough to create ecological disaster).  They are generally more in favor of restorative justice (belief in our power to fix people + disbelief in natural character).

Conservatives pretty much take the opposite position on all of these points – they believe the natural state is preferable, and distrust human potential to successfully improve our circumstances.

Probably the most controversial aspect of this framing is the notion that conservatives are more attached to the natural then liberals, given the word’s association with the environmental movement.  The natural that I am speaking of though is not the environment but ‘the natural order of things being superior to any order that we would bring.’  This phrasing is important because conservatives  generally consider the world to be more dangerous then liberals (as in, I read a few articles on google that agreed on this point) but would still think that the world left alone is better then the world foolishly fooled with.

What do you think of this framing of the left and right?  Let me know what you think.


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