Philosophy as Art Interpretation Part 2

Just as in a work of art there are a seemingly infinite amount of interpretations; in philosophy there are a seemingly infinite amount of interpretations of the world and of the interpretations of the world that philosophers produce.

There is a conceptual space and in this space some areas are “true” – in the sense that they correspond to our experience – and some spaces are “false”; but all because a concept is false doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful or significant.

Unicorns don’t exist but they’re beautiful.

Mathematics is lauded above all other academic subjects because of the “certainty” of its theorems; but there are many theorems that have no relation what-so-ever to the world of experience.

This doesn’t stop them from producing and enjoying them though.

Maybe if there is a God, creator, intelligent designer or whatever; it also constructed this conceptual space that mathematicians and philosophers wander in different ways.

Maybe it created the whole she-bang as a playground; gave each of us passions and interests. Then provided us with a world in which to play out our passions and interests.

But we gone fucked it up by taking it all so seriously.

I mean seriously what’s the point of points? You achieve it then what? You make up another one, then another and another.

When are we going to realize that the point of points isn’t the point but rather points are there to justify playing.

Go enjoy making sand-castles; it’s what the beach is for after all 😛

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Philosophy as Artistic Interpretation Part 1

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Philosophy is a lot like the interpretation of art; except in the case of the philosopher he isn’t sure if there is an artist or not.

I have heard “the hand of the artist is seen in the art” or something of that sort; but the inexhaustibility of interpretation of any piece of art kind of makes a sham of that.

Rather the “self of the spectator is seen in the art” would be more appropriate.

Even if it were the case that the philosopher knew there was an artist it wouldn’t matter.

Why?

Because whenever anyone approaches anything; be it statements, paintings, the world, or ideas; they always come to it with assumptions they have gathered through past experience. These assumptions colour their interpretation.

For example: The realization that we cannot be certain of anything.

For some people this is a terrible idea because it means “What’s the point to thinking about these things if there is no definite answer I can get to by thinking about them!”

Can you see the assumption that has coloured this interpretation of the concept relativism? It’s that there has to be a point, a goal, a purpose in order to justify doing whatever it is they are doing.

Well does there?

Who says so?

For me relativism is a brilliant realization because I see philosophy as a playground. I enjoy the freedom to hop from perspective to perspective that relativism allows.

 It may be that relativism is “false” but from our subjective perspective it’s the best we have and I’m jubilate (lovely word that. It comes from the word jubilation which was a year in the Jewish calendar when all debts were cleared and the slaves were freed) in this fact.

Teacher/Student

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The act of teaching as it is done today is of “the one hole fits all” type.

The problem is that not only is each individual unique; but that each individual steps from one uniqueness to another with each passing moment.

This produces a problem: How are we to teach anyone anything given the unique and protean nature of human beings?

The only way that I can see of resolving this issue is by open non-judgemental communication between individuals.

Now we come to another question: what is the act of teaching and the act of learning?

Given our current mode of communication to learn something is to make something that is unintelligible intelligible in such a way that the person who is learning can articulate statements about it; the act of teaching is that of an aid to this process.

The teacher is someone to who already knows that which is to be taught and is already able to articulate statements concerning it.

How is the teacher to go about making these statements intelligible?

One way is to have the object that is to be made intelligible before the two of them. The teacher makes statements about it whilst pointing out in the object what the statements concern. Showing the correspondence between certain statements and certain features of the object.

But the object is not always present. So what is to be done in this case?

I will use the analogy of a tree. Each branching off of the tree represent statements already known by the individual about a wide range of subjects.

This mesh of branches are a framework through which a person understands the world and what is said.

So in order for someone to teach someone something – I mean really teach them something and not merely make them able to utter a list of subjectively meaningless statements – they would have to know the framework with which the other understands statements and the world.

The teacher would first have to become student to the student; then he could translate into the student’s framework what the student wants to know but doesn’t.

Why isn’t this done?

Nice answer: Logistics

Nasty answer: THEY – who ever “THEY” are – don’t want us to know things in a subjectively meaningful way.

I’m just in kindergarten as far as painting goes as you can no doubt tell. But I hope to make more available the meaning that I am attempting to convey by melding the mediums of painting and writing.

The Prisoner and the imprisoner

The prisoner and the imprisoner.

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Often when we meet people, even people we are familiar with we view them through a mesh of preconceptions.

When it is a new person there are certain judgements attached to the style of clothing they wear, the colour of their skin, their gender and sexual preference.

When it is someone we are already familiar with the mesh is constructed out of our memories of their previous behaviour and beliefs.

These preconceptions or judgements go on to colour and distort our view of the other. In the case of the stranger it distorts our view of who they are now; and – funnily enough – in the case of the person with whom we are familiar it distorts our view of who they are now too.

It can be especially pernicious in the case of the person we are familiar with because it doesn’t allow us to see them change – which they inevitably do – and even if it does the mesh attempts to maintain itself by making out that this change is “bad” or pathological.

Often we say of someone who changes or rather someone who has the courage and is able to express that change that “They are going insane.”

Imagine the case of a stranger. Before I introduce you to this person I tell you “John is a very clever man!”

Now we meet John and John says: “The grass is green!”

Due to the fact that I have told you that “John is a very clever man!” you may interpret this statement as something profound but because you are not a “very clever man” you just can’t understand it.

Now imagine I had instead of telling you “John is a very clever man!” I had told you “John is an incredibly stupid man!”

How would this change your interpretation of John’s statement?

You would think it as something typical for a very stupid person to say. You wouldn’t see or think there were any profundity in the statement. You would just dismiss whatever John had to say without really even listening to it because I – part of the “Them” and considered an authority on John because I know him and you don’t – had told you John was stupid.

The collage at the top of this post was an image that popped into my imagination whilst I was at work pondering the nature of the Them – or in common parlance society, social relations and social norms.

I constructed the hexagonal mesh out of “Y” shapes because I have given that shape the symbolic meaning of the simple sentence. “She is stupid” “She” is the subject and is the left line of the “Y”; “is” is the verb (in this case a copula) and is the downward line of the “Y”; “Stupid” is the adjective and is the right line of the “Y”.

This mesh is a real world phenomena that imprisons us all.

It doesn’t just imprison the person who is looked at through it but it also imprisons the person who looks through the mesh.

 We even use it as a prison in which to place ourselves when we attach significance to things we say about ourselves.

For a friend: What is dasein?

It may be a bit hashy because I’m still in the early stages of understanding it myself but I’ll give it a go.

I won’t do a Heidegger on you and put the answer before the getting to the answer so I’ll paste here what was going to be my last paragraph:

“It is Care (Giving a damn) that distinguishes Daseins from things that are objectively present like stones. It is because Dasein gives a damn that it acts or doesn’t act.”

Dasein is that which discloses things in many ways. By disclosing Heidegger means revealing.

So Dasein as being-in-the-world discloses a world.

Equiprimordial with Being-in-the-world is Being-the-there. In a sense you could say that Dasein discloses a world in which space (the-there) can be.

Dasein also discloses by understanding; but Heidegger doesn’t use understanding in the normal sense of the word. By understanding Heidegger means that Dasein realizes its possibilities of Being. That is to say Dasein realizes it could engage or not engage in certain activities.

In the act of understanding Dasein projects itself onto those possibilities. “I could be a juggler, carpenter, banker or whatever”

In fact understanding is a possibility of Dasein’s being: Dasein as understanding.

From understanding Heidegger derives interpretation. The Dasein understands the possibility of juggling and understands 3 possibilities.

      1. To engage in the activity of juggling.

      2. Not to juggle

      3. To enter into the possibility of interpretation which would ask “What are these handy things I juggle with?” “What is juggling?”.

He then talks of Dasein as attunement.

I think he means understanding is a kind of attunement as well but I’m not sure.

He says that attunements are kinds of moods; but again I don’t think he just means emotional moods because he says before we are able to feel anything (like a table) we have to have the existential of attunement. I think he is saying something like attunement is the capacity to feel anything included via the senses.

He then talks about thrownness.

How Dasein is thrown into a situation and is normally entangled in the They. That is to say that Dasein in this mode has its understanding limited by the they.

The they (as I see them) are culture, society, others, or any gathering of people with shared social norms.

So for example the Dasein in the current social milieu if he is entangled in the They would understand the possible beings it could be to be banker, cleaner, or anything socially acceptable; but wouldn’t realize the possible being of going into the forest and living like an animal.

I think the simplest and best definition of Dasein Heidegger gives is that of care. Dasein is a being that cares about its own being. Now you cannot derive Dasein by a putting together of all those equiprimordial existential features but must see those features through the whole of Dasein.

Now understanding, modes of attunement – such as anxiety – interpretation and activities Heidegger says derive from Care. So Heidegger says that care is the most primordial feature of Dasein.

Not care in the particular sense of “caring for something” which is derived from this Care. But the care one has for oneself and ones potentialities and possibilities of being.

It is Care (Giving a damn) that distinguishes Daseins from things that are objectively present like stones. It is because Dasein gives a damn that it acts or doesn’t act.

So according to my first reading; first incomplete reading that is (I’m only on chapter 6) that last paragraph is the simplest and clearest definition of Dasein I can give.

Hope you found it helpful.

The Problematics of Understanding and Explaining Articulated via inept painting

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Today I’ve been messing around with painting.

Now don’t go expecting any masterpiece because this is the first time I’ve played with paint since I was at school.

As is ever the case with me I am attempting to convey a meaning or realization. In this case it is about how any attempt to understand anything using language or logic (which is a kind of language after all) is futile.

So here is the artist’s (me) intended meaning for his painting:

The circle represents the world.

The various coloured segments (which should look like hexagons) represent our attempt to understand the world using language.

I chose hexagons because they can be made up out of a shape consisting of 3 lines. 1 line goes straight up and the other 2 go off in opposite directions.

The Problem of Understanding and Explaining via Inept Paint Play

This shape symbolises a simple sentence which is significant because all sentences (at least in the English language) can be reduced to simple sentences.

I won’t go into the deeper significance of this concept here because I have already described it in here.

The two purple lines that dissect in two in rose coloured lines represent how man is trapped in his attempt to understand the world if that attempt is made using language.

The chaos at the centre of the circle represents the increasing complexity that arises with each attempt at explaining causal phenomena.

The trap and the increasing complexity I have already described here.

Artist-Spectator

The pictures an artist produces not only act as a mirror for the spectator but they also act as a mirror for the artist himself.

Where did the picture the artist produced come from? As I see it there are 3 possibilities:

      1. The artist had a particular idea he wishes to express. When he ponders this idea various images arise in his imagination. Out of all these images the artist selects the one he feels most fits his intended meaning.

      2. An image just pops into the artist’s head and he thinks “That looks cool! I’m going to paint that!”

      3. The artist starts off with no idea or image. He just starts “doodling”. As he “doodles” ideas and concepts occur to him that directs his drawing.

In case one the questions to ask are “Why does the artist wish to convey that idea?” and out of all the images that occurred to him “Why did he select that one?”

In case two the questions to ask are “Why did that image pop up in the artists head?” and “What interpretation does the artist give this image?”

In case three the questions to ask are “Why did that particular idea occur to the artist when he looked at that shape?” and “Why did the artist’s drawing take the direction it took?”

These are all questions the artist and spectator can ponder themselves. When the spectator ponders these questions he places himself in the place of the artist.

Isn’t this evident in the common question “What do you think the artist meant by this piece?”

The spectator by placing himself into the place of the artist when he asks these types of questions is really asking questions of himself. His sub-conscious and hidden self manifest as the non-present artist.

Really the intended meaning of the piece doesn’t matter. The piece takes on a life of its own in the minds of the spectators. The artist as time changes becomes other than what he was when he produced the piece; inevitably, through the progress of time the artist becomes the spectator of his own production.

Western Philosophy meets Eastern Philosophy through Heidegger Part. 3

Another articulation of what Tolle says that is straight from the eastern source is in the Upanishads. It is an allegory that goes something like this:

There is a tree. In this tree perch two birds. One bird eats of the berries. The other bird perches silently and watches.

In Heideggerian terms I would say that the “room within which the furniture is” is what Heidegger is disclosing in his discourse on Dasein as Being-The-There.

The bird that “perches silently and watches” is what Heidegger is disclosing in his discourse on Dasein as Being-In-The-World.

The bird that eats of the berries of the tree is what Heidegger would call the “I” or the “Here”; the berries would of course be what Heidegger calls the “Over-There” where Handy things and other Daseins dwell.

Heidegger came to this realization via a logical deconstruction of the western philosophical tradition.

The eastern mystic came to the same realization via a method of silent contemplation of phenomena. By just listening to their experience; both inner and outer (which I believe to be another construction of the internal dialogue); I mean listening in the sense Heidegger uses the term: that is heedful listening, the east realized Being-The-There 1000s of years before the western philosophical tradition did. 

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Western Philosophy meets Eastern Philosophy through Heidegger Part. 2

The west has constructed the concept of “Truth” and has sought it through the internal dialogue.

Through this methodology the western philosophical tradition has turned everything into objective presence; it has split apart a holistic whole because the internal dialogue is logical and logic requires bits to put together and take apart.

Logic is the hidden presupposition upon which the concept that I am a separate subject from the “world” and other subjects is built.

Now we come to Heidegger.

After 2500 years of head-butting the wall logic puts before us (I think I described this wall in “Skittles”) Heidegger comes along and says apophantic statements are one mode of discourse amongst many others; all of which are based in the primordial features of Dasein as Being-In-The-World and Being-The-There.

Eckharte Tolle (a popularizer of the east to the west much like Alan Watts) says that we are like a room full of furniture. Most of us live under the delusion that we are the furniture but really we are the room (the space; the clearing; “The-There”) within which the furniture is.

To be continued

Western Philosophy meets Eastern Philosophy through Heidegger Part. 1

I believe that in Heidegger’s “Being and Time” the east and the west have finally come to the same conclusion concerning our own being; come to the same conclusion concerning existence.

It is as if a man called “The West” and a man called “The East” were to walk in opposite directions around a globe and have finally met and shaken hands again.

Western philosophy has been in the process of attempting to reach “Truth” via a discourse based on logic. It has sought “Truth” through apophantic statements; sentences about which one can say “This is true/false”

I believe the idea of “Truth” is a construction; a remnant left over from Plato’s theory of forms.

In the east; or rather in certain strains of eastern thought; or to put it in Heideggerian terms: in certain modes of Dasein that have occurred in the east, the concept of truth has not arisen.

This mode of Dasein is what we call meditation.

In meditation one eventually realizes that the internal dialogue is not their “true self”; maybe because it manifests – when looked at closely – to be no different to the experiences we gain from “what is external to us”.

Through meditation the Dasein realizes that the emotions it has; or rather the attunements it undergoes are not itself.

To be continued…