16 Jun

I’m beginning to focus on ways to bring more concreteness into philosophy.

A major problem with philosophy over the ages has been its disembodied approach.  It’s one thing to have some introspective distance, and a whole ‘nother thing to zealously seek to purge anything finite.  There was a neglect of the peculiar concreteness of the physical world in much philosophy.  Instead, everything was commonly treated as part of a logical idealism/Rationalism.  Transcendent zero-point symmetry!  This mental purity has a high cost.  It feels mentally satisfying for some, but it is inadequate on its own.  Engineers, scientists, and inventors would have to be more earthly.

There were some philosophers who did not follow this path, and they are now considered to have been early scientists, but they were philosophers in their time. Likewise, it seems questionable to draw an absolute boundary between mathematics and philosophy.

Human intellect has been very slow to come to terms with the particularity and quirkiness of itself and its world.  As trivially dumb as his positions sound, Parmenides has enduring appeal.  Many people still think like him at some level, and only their senses, instincts, and reflexes save them from total oblivion. Quirkiness offends the idealism; something about it is intolerable.  In the pristine meadows of mind, the weeds are attacked.  But they can’t be rid of, and there are murmurs to the effect that they were never weeds at all.

Christianity did a strange and powerful thing by combining the quirks and aspirations of human beings with the desire for idealism.  Having been asserted as formed in the image of God, humans were taken as foundational.  It was a very specific and shameless idealism ripe for development into ideals of progress, individuality, manifest destiny, gratification, and so on.  It does not sound ‘reasonable’ by today’s standards, but it was certainly a winner in practice.  Part of winning is the belief that one deserves to win, must win, or is even divinely destined to win.  No religions with the motto, “we’re kind of lame, but spread the word anyways” ever caught on.  Nah, it always seems to be the ones who love to make statues and idols of their own glorious bodies and such.  It could be seen as a higher scale projection of the basic orientation of an individual ‘selfish’ creature.  Although it sounds loony, there’s a functional competence to it.

It’s not to say that everything is hopelessly particular and finite through and through.  It’s only that life has a finite and peculiar component which will always burden any supposed connection to pure universality.  As much as a creature might look to the stars and mathematical forms, it’s still gotta eat and look where it’s going.

I believe universality is real, but mortal access to it is, well, mortal.  I like to focus on universality in terms of communicability, which may be more empirically scrutable than ideal forms of ‘monism’.  I prefer not to attempt to go beyond this statement of sweeping generality, as it would decay into the usual metaphysical jibber-jabber.  How does it all exist, how are things together and separate, finite and infinite, local and universal, then and now, quantitative and qualitative, etc.  Hey, I don’t know.  It hurts to not know, but as of right now there’s not much I can do about it.  Even the idea of ‘knowing’ has to be carefully examined.  Problems rapidly emerge when a philosopher takes these man-made concepts and begins trying to wring reality out of them.  There is a world beyond the words.

A basic starting point for the philosophical consideration of the finite: the precariously asserted invariance of a life form.  A unique & complex life form pointed to in the world by name or other means needs both ideal symbolic conceptualizations and a keen sense for its immediately embodied unique status & needs.

Empiricism is key.  It remains to be seen exactly how the concept of empiricism may evolve with regard to living systems.  How far can one take the reductionist arguments?  It’s this tension which might call for some philosophy in the interim.  What sort of outlook is most likely to survive?  How quirky or inevitable is history?  And so on.



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