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Transcending Philosophy

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We all essentially practice philosophy on some level.  Any conscious decision calls upon the basic tenets of philosophy.  For example, one’s daily diet is based on such.  Modern definitions of philosophy may carry social stigmas with them and call upon other similar terms, such as; logic, reason, and rationality.  Or, people may envision of deep chasms of thought without solution.  Others may think of ancient Greek pedophilia.  These stigmas only blind their subscribers.

Philosophy, in my opinion, is best practiced without announcing it.  A novice philosopher is likely to reach for basic syllogistic form:

1) 1 = 1
2) 1 + 1 = 2
3) Thus, 2 is a composition of 1 and 1
4) Therefore, duality (2) cannot exist without singularity (1)

This is an old form, and is a straight line to logic.  Though, it is not all powerful, nor, is it infallible.  More importantly, for most people, it’s a bit basic and overbearing in a discussion.  It has more of a peer oriented appeal as opposed to angling a public audience.

I have learned in my own practice of philosophy that, in order to be effective, its presentation must be as dynamic as the individual it reaches.  Humans are logical, yet they are also creative, emotional, and instinctual.  Also, we are much more open to persuasion than force.  A person would rather be asked than told.  If they are to be told, they will only pursue intrigue.

Relying on logic for conversation limits the scope and power of the potential range inherent within communication.  Also, we are not walking calculators – we are so much more.  The first rule is a golden one – speak to others as you would like to be spoken to.  There are three primary focuses in classic writing: Logos, Pathos, Ethos.

Logos is Greek for logic.

Pathos denotes empathy, or, emotional appeal. 

Ethos represents ethics.

A writer will go far with these concepts in mind.  When combined, these components reflect a very human comprehension and appeal.  Logic appeals to the left hemisphere of the brain, composition, practical application, and reason.  Emotional value applies creativity, sensitivity, empathy, compassion, personality, heart…as well as building the foundation for the third component – ethics.  Ethical demonstration is a social facet in our communication and a display of our humanity.  Ethical values build an image comprised of integrity, honor, courage, social designation, …etc…or, may be used to portray reverse images, as well.

Logos, Pathos, and Ethos are consistently present in our conversations, regardless, whether we are voicing ourselves audibly, or in writing.

Logos – Propose the logical foundation for your writing. Pathos – lace the logic in your writing with emotional appeal – or, relation to personal meaning. Ethos – adhering logic and empathy to a social fabric and moral code.

There are a myriad of  philosophers and examples, but for this purpose, let us consider the artful form of Albert Einstein:

“When, after several hours reading, I came to myself again, I asked myself what it was that had so fascinated me. The answer is simple. The results were not presented as ready-made, but scientific curiosity was first aroused by presenting contrasting possibilities of conceiving matter. Only then the attempt was made to clarify the issue by thorough argument. The intellectual honesty of the author makes us share the inner struggle in his mind. It is this which is the mark of the born teacher. Knowledge exists in two forms – lifeless, stored in books, and alive, in the consciousness of men. The second form of existence is after all the essential one; the first, indispensable as it may be, occupies only an inferior position.”

(Albert Einstein, 1954)

Albert Einstein, the author of this excerpt, seems to leap from these lines.  There is a sturdy logical framework here, but it is laden with self reflection, introspection, profundity, wisdom, ethical ideology, creative recognition through self knowledge, displaying a personal relationship with the concepts illustrated and initiating a journey with the audience…

…to name a few components that compose enlightening writing.

More importantly, Einstein does not seem to contrive his open contemplations, here.  His honesty pours onto the page with a quiet authority grounded by the reader’s own recognition. The illustration of his self reflection is extracted through the teacher’s own rich trials of comprehension.

Notably, Einstein discusses the recipe of the “born teacher” in this dialog – and appears to be unintentionally revealing himself in the description.  One might wonder whether the professor had aimed on himself in elaborations on such ideals.  If so, it seems to exhume these notions with humility and some inherent nobility.

As with any art form, greatness is built upon the foundation of the artist’s clarity.  Beyond philosophy, beyond tradition, beyond average, more profound than logic – and into genius…

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The Relative Variable

The study of epistemology essentially asks – how do we know what we know? We don’t. If one were to dare grapple with the gravity of this question, he/she would ground any conclusion with his or her sensory data. Venture a step further, and one finds one’s self slipping on this slippery slope. Allow me to explain.

Attaining a level of certitude rests on –

a. The idea that there is a certitude within reach.

b. The idea that an individual’s sensory perception is also exacted by others – and, thus it is grounded in some verifiable objectivity.

The brilliance of Immanuel Kant’s thought is that he courageously questioned his own sensory experience. Socrates rested on the idea that certitude was not attainable outside of his own subjectivity. These brave souls taught us to look beyond our own subjectivity. To be truly objective. One could stomp on the floor to demonstrate the solid nature (or, parameters of said reality – if you will) of what they’re experiencing – but – does this truly validate the claim? No. Only by the literal stretch of the imagination.

Anyone who has experienced a dream can challenge such a claim.

It is only reasonable to ask at this juncture – how can one know anything to be real? This is the beauty of the relative variable. This is not something I plan to explain in great depth, but I’ll give a demonstration using the aforementioned dream analogy:

1) One exists in this dream dimension and is asked to demonstrate the validity of said parameters.

2) The claimant stomps on the floor in order to establish said claim.

3) The floor acts like a floor by halting the inertia of the claimant’s foot.

4a) Other people in the dream react to the dreamer‘s action (census confirmation).

4b) Sensory data is established.

Therefore, said floor exists.

Finality:

The sensory data is established; however its validity can only be relative to the parameters of the said hypothetical dream dimension. This is the extent I feel anyone can validate any claim.

Naturally, further explanation is required on this topic.  The point the relative variable graces is, that, ultimately, sensory perception is the means one can validate any statement concerning reality.  This understanding is problematic for many reasons; however, its conclusion restricts progress and suspends all knowledge as circumstantial.  If all meaning rested on this note, not much progress could be made.  On the other hand, reaching this finality only addresses the eye of the seer, and has no effect on a reality beyond the eye.

It is only sane to ask at this point – what value does this understanding have?

The restriction is the value.  To understand that human awareness is encapsulated by this boundary – the very extent of its sight, is to understand, to a degree, the nature of knowledge itself.

Another issue that arises with this logical arrival is that it neutralizes human understanding beyond that of the individual.  It surrenders census agreement to an equal fate.  It is safe to say that, generally, knowledge is –

1) First attained by the individual (observation/conception);

2) Then, established through quantification;

3)  Finally, is seen equally by others (confirmation).

[Note:  2 and 3 are interchangeable in some cases]

Noting that each and any step in this process can be compromised, challenges the validity of the outcome.

The purpose of the relative variable as I have defined it is not to stall understanding, but to shine a light onto knowledge in a manner that reflects its reality.  To acknowledge limitation – the limits of our sight, is only, human.  And, it is equally honest.

Human knowledge is a variable.  A variable relative to an absolute.  An absolute extended from the unknown.  Naming this unknown has also stood at the heights of both human conceit, and desire.  Gravity is an example of such a variable.

The absolute, by definition, is unchanging and final in its identity; however, due to the fact that these identities are dependent on human understanding – they can only ever be relative in principle.

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