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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