What is Being?

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Tamminen
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What is Being?

Post by Tamminen » December 26th, 2017, 12:50 pm

Naturalism says that there is no transcendent reality, only nature and its laws, and science explains everything by those laws. But in fact nature is transcendent, as opposed to immanence, and science describes the way it appears to us. And it does an excellent job. But science makes a fatal mistake if it tries to explain immanence, for instance consciousness, by transcendence, by the laws of nature, and even reduce everything to physics. This is a Münchhausen's trick and only leads to paradoxes and futile efforts.

Philosophy cannot start with nature, because that would mean a metaphysical commitment before starting. Philosophy starts with our immediate reality, seeking its ontological preconditions.

The terms 'transcendental' and 'transcendent' both express transcending our immediate experiences, 'transcendental' towards their subjective precondition and 'transcendent' towards objects “out there”. So ontologically they are opposites, and we should not confuse them.

The being of the transcendent world, or nature, and the transcendental Subject are the ontological preconditions of our immediate reality, our existence.

Being is. Non-being is not. These are tautologies.
So there is being.

The Subject is the Absolute. It is being itself. And non-being is not. So the Subject is causa sui, its being does not need an explanation. The Subject is very concrete: it is me, and it is each of us, at the moment of experiencing. It is what connects our individual beings so as to make one eternal stream of being. It is the point of reference to everything there is. It is transcendental, with no physical or psychological properties.

The Subject has an inner structure, and that structure can be known a priori. It is not easy, though. It is the task of philosophy. Science can help in the task, but does not lead us very far. That is because science is only interested in objects of the material world or objects of consciousness. The analysis of the Subject demands reflection, a phenomenological study of our being in the universe.

The basic components in the structure of the Subject are (1) time and (2) the Others.

Being is temporal.
Being is being of something.

The Subject is temporal. This means that I have now this experience and then another experience. There must have been the first experience, because if there were an experience before each experience, I could not be here now, in fact there could be no “now”. There cannot be the last experience, because that would mean that there would be non-being, which is absurd. So the Subject, or being, has had a beginning but will not have an end. This is the temporal structure of the Subject.

Time is not a continuum with sparkles of being here and there, so that now I exist and then I do not exist. There is no time outside of being, outside of the Subject. No being without time, no time without being.

That there cannot be an end of my existence, can be proved as follows:

1. If I did not exist, there would be nothing.
2. There is something, also after my death.
3. Therefore my nonexistence is impossible, also after my death.

As to the first premise: the existence of the world is put into "brackets", which is a common method in phenomenology. Then a question is asked: "What would be the state of the world if I did not exist?" And the answer is: "It would not exist, either." This is the key point. So in the first premise we ignore the obvious fact that the world will exist also after my death, which is expressed in the second premise. We are in front of a paradox, and the solution of the paradox is the conclusion attained in sentence 3 of the syllogism. Therefore we must make a distinction between the empirical subject and the transcendental Subject. The empirical, individual subject will vanish away, but the transcendental, metaphysical, absolute Subject is eternal. And all individual subjects are manifestations of this absolute Subject. It migrates through all of us.

The reader who does not see the truth of premise 1 may stop here, because in that case the rest of the story makes no sense. Premise 1 is an a priori truth, like the Cartesian cogito. Premise 2 is an empirical truth. The conclusion is pure logic.

But what is this “something” of being? In fact it seems that there cannot be anything, because there seems to be no reason for the being of anything.

Nevertheless, there is something, as we see.

Every experience has a content. A content can point at two directions: to a noumenon, a “thing-in-itself”, and to an earlier experience. The totality of noumena is the universe. A reference to an earlier experience is memory. Memory defines an individual subject. The Subject manifests itself as individual subjects. Death is forgetting: when the content of my present experience does not have any reference to any earlier experience, I am dead as one individual, being now another individual.

The being of the universe does not depend on the being of any particular individual subject. However, the being of the universe depends on the being of the Subject, and the being of the Subject depends on the being of the universe. There can be no universe without a point of view, the temporal present, the “here and now”. So the universe belongs to the inner structure of the Subject. The Subject is the reason for the being of the universe. And it is possible that all the details of the universe are predetermined by the inner logic of the Subject, although we will probably never fully understand that logic, in spite of the fact that everything in the universe happens for us. For we are the Subject. But is the Subject transparent to itself? Can it be? Perhaps transparency is the telos of the universe, never attained, the origin of the eternity of our being.

The universe is inhabited. It is the universe of Others. Others are individual subjects, like me. My being is being in relation to Others. There is a symmetric relation between me and the Others: I am also an Other and every Other is also I. My relation to Others is the universe. And because of the symmetric relation between me and the Others the universe is in fact my concrete relation to myself. This relation is material, because Others, having a spatial relation to me, must necessarily have the concreteness that shows itself as matter. In fact matter can be defined as the medium of my relation to Others. Matter is not the ontological basis for our existence, but is necessary for its concrete realization. Therefore Others, like me, must have bodies and minds. My mind is the subjective side of my relation to Others, and my body is its objective side, being on the same ontological level as the bodies of Others and the rest of the material universe. So mental and bodily events run parallel, being two conceptually incompatible levels of description of one and the same relation. Therefore trying to solve the so called mind-body problem by finding a conceptual bridge between matter and consciousness will never succeed, because there is no such bridge. There are only correlations between mind and body, and it is the task of science, not philosophy, to find them. There is no philosophical mind-body problem.

So I am the Others and the Others are I. But because I am now I and not an Other, the Others must be in my past or in my future. This means that we must understand in a new way the relation between subjective time and physical time, because my present, past and future can be simultaneous in physical time. This is a difficult problem, but there is no logical contradiction in it. It only means that everything must be strictly predetermined if I can meet my past and future in the world. But who is in my past and who is in my future? Or what? Probably we will never fully understand the logic of the Absolute, even in principle, because we are inevitably inside the universe, and we cannot jump outside of it to see what it looks like.

Because the being of the universe of Others is necessary for the being of the Subject, my death is inevitable for my transition to another individual subject.

All this means that the ontology of the Subject is a combination of solipsism and a modified theory of transmigration of the Self or I, a combination that removes the logical inconsistencies of both theories. All experiences are my experiences. There are no foreign experiences. The present, the “here and now”, wanders through reality adopting all the manifestations of the Subject in the form of individual subjects, successively, each at its proper time, being born, living and dying, eternally.

Now we see the rationality of the “something”. Being explains itself from within. Being is really nothing but my relation to myself and the “something” is the tautological “being is” or “I am”. The Subject has to understand itself, find itself, be transparent to itself, in order to be in balance with itself, because there is nothing else, and there must be something to guarantee its being. And it must be, because non-being is not. Therefore it has to be in relation to itself, being its own object, as mind and body, seeking the balance of being. But the realization of this requires the whole universe with all its structures and evolutionary processes. This is the essence of the idea that the universe is inhabited, the universe of Others. And this is also the spatial structure of the Subject, seen as I and the Others in the universe.

So the Subject is temporal and spatial: eternal as subjective time, and migrating through all individual subjects in the space-time of the universe.

Now we can define being as the Subject's relation to itself, realized by nature. And nature is nothing more than the universe that modern physics so brilliantly describes. So there is nothing mystical in all this: only an ontological interpretation of known facts.

The idea behind the metaphysical hypothesis that I am also the Others is very clear but so embarrassing that I have hesitated to present it to anybody. However, if the hypothesis is true, it resolves many existential paradoxes, including the paradox of death and the paradox of foreign minds, as shown above. It is also a solid basis for ethics. Unfortunately the only way to verify or falsify the hypothesis is to think clearly.

Whether being ever becomes transparent to itself, gaining balance and peace in understanding itself, remains an open question. We have always dreamed of an everlasting heaven, paradise or nirvana, but maybe the logic of being does not fulfill our dreams, especially as death is unavoidable. Perhaps the myth of Sisyphus gives us a more realistic picture of our existential situation. Climbing up and falling down, never reaching the top. Or reaching it, understanding everything, and then forgetting all, having to start from zero. Or perhaps the balance is in the seeking, and we are like birds sleeping in the wind. Who knows.

Whatever our fate will be, all we have is the future. Here and now.

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Weight
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Re: What is Being?

Post by Weight » December 26th, 2017, 8:27 pm

great post

Syamsu
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Re: What is Being?

Post by Syamsu » December 27th, 2017, 3:16 am

Philosophy should start with common discourse. Not because common discourse is right, but because it is where we are at. Science is a formal system separate from common discourse, there are (fundamental) differences between them, contradictions. For instance the concept of "choice", which is very central in common discourse understanding of everything, and which contradicts most science.

Fundamentally common discourse uses a creationist logic. Creationism uses 2 different notions of existence, creator and creation. Also called spiritual and material, also functionally explained as what chooses and what is chosen. Subjectivity applies to form opinions about what exists in the creator domain, and objectivity applies to obtain facts about what exists in the domain of the creation. A subjective opinion, like "beautiful", is formed by choosing it, an objective fact is obtained by making a 1 to 1 corresponding model.

See the bridge between spiritual and material, it is choice. The mechanism of creation is choice. And then we can have subjective opinions on what it was that made a choice turn out the way it did.

Londoner
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Re: What is Being?

Post by Londoner » December 27th, 2017, 7:11 am

Tamminen wrote:
December 26th, 2017, 12:50 pm

The being of the transcendent world, or nature, and the transcendental Subject are the ontological preconditions of our immediate reality, our existence.

Being is. Non-being is not. These are tautologies.
So there is being.
'Being' has already somehow turned into a noun.

In the first sentence, we have two different things that are 'being'; the subject and the world. In that case, 'being' means two different things, so it isn't necessarily the case that it is a tautology that 'Being is. Non-being is not' since 'being' means different things in different contexts.

(Or, if 'being' in Being is. Non-being is not' does not have any specific meaning, then we might as well write 'Is. Is not' which is not a proposition of any kind.)

To put it another way, to say 'being' is an 'ontological precondition(s)' begs the question. Ontology questions what we mean by 'being'. I do not think we can clearly explain what we mean when we say the world has 'being' or that we have 'being' or whether the two are distinct.

You finish; '.. our immediate reality, our existence.' Again, isn't this to also start treating 'existence' as if it was a noun? A thing in itself?

So I would be worried if I find myself using too many capital letters; Subject, Others, Being, Absolute.. They are not proper nouns, so why do I need to imply that they are? Have I taken a wrong turn somewhere?

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RJG
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Re: What is Being?

Post by RJG » December 27th, 2017, 8:29 am

Tamminen wrote:1. If I did not exist, there would be nothing.
This beginning premise is false as written. If you do not exist to experience existence, it does not rule out others from existing. And these others are 'somethings', not 'nothing'. This is akin to saying -- if my watch does not exist, then there is no time (i.e. then time does not exist).

If you are meaning to say -- if you do not exist, then there is no 'you' to experience existence -- then this is quite different than what is written and implied in your starting premise.

Using premise 1 in it's misleading form (as you've written) only creates a flawed conclusion.

To better understand the validity of your premise 1, try writing another syllogism with this premise 1 as the conclusion. In other words, logically validate this premise as true before inserting it as a starting premise in another syllogism.

Tamminen
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Re: What is Being?

Post by Tamminen » December 27th, 2017, 9:31 am

RJG wrote:
December 27th, 2017, 8:29 am
Tamminen wrote:1. If I did not exist, there would be nothing.
This beginning premise is false as written. If you do not exist to experience existence, it does not rule out others from existing. And these others are 'somethings', not 'nothing'. This is akin to saying -- if my watch does not exist, then there is no time (i.e. then time does not exist).

If you are meaning to say -- if you do not exist, then there is no 'you' to experience existence -- then this is quite different than what is written and implied in your starting premise.

Using premise 1 in it's misleading form (as you've written) only creates a flawed conclusion.

To better understand the validity of your premise 1, try writing another syllogism with this premise 1 as the conclusion. In other words, logically validate this premise as true before inserting it as a starting premise in another syllogism.
As I wrote, premise 1 is not an empirical statement, nor is it something that can be proved in logic. It is an a priori statement, totally independent of the obvious fact that others are still there after my death. You only need to see its truth, as Descartes saw the truth of his 'I am'. So it is, unfortunately. And the conclusion solves the paradox inherent in it.

Tamminen
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Re: What is Being?

Post by Tamminen » December 27th, 2017, 9:54 am

Londoner:

It is true that I have used the word 'being' in at least two meanings: being in general, as opposed to non-being, and being of the world, being of the subject etc. as opposed to their non-being, for example the case that there were no subject. I do not see why the use of the word 'being' as a noun confuses us. In ontology we are interested not only of the meaning of being but also of what kinds of being there are and what are their interconnections and internal structures. What you said about the capitals is perhaps in place, I only wanted to stress the ontological importance of those concepts.

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RJG
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Re: What is Being?

Post by RJG » December 27th, 2017, 12:12 pm

Tamminen wrote:That there cannot be an end of my existence, can be proved as follows:

1. If I did not exist, there would be nothing.
2. There is something, also after my death.
3. Therefore my nonexistence is impossible, also after my death.
Tamminen wrote:As I wrote, premise 1 is not an empirical statement, nor is it something that can be proved in logic. It is an a priori statement, totally independent of the obvious fact that others are still there after my death.
An "a priori" statement is one that is absolute; undeniable/undoubtable. This premise #1 does not meet that level of certainty. This premise is a very deniable/doubtable statement.

An example of an a priori statement is "experiencing exists", ...for any attempt to deny it only affirms it.

Tamminen wrote:1. If I did not exist, there would be nothing.
If another person (another "I") did not exist, then would there still be nothing?

I think there are plenty of non-existent "I"'s out there, ...don't you agree? And so according to your premise, then anyone of them, means that 'nothing' exists, none of us, ...including you and I! ...true?

Tamminen wrote:You only need to see its truth…
Unfortunately, the "truth" of this premise is based solely in "blind faith", and wanders into 'religion', ...and away from philosophy.

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Re: What is Being?

Post by Tamminen » December 27th, 2017, 12:53 pm

RJG wrote:
December 27th, 2017, 12:12 pm
If another person (another "I") did not exist, then would there still be nothing?
No, it is an empirical fact that there would be all the stuff excluding that other I. But if that other I looks at things from his/her own point of view, he/she can say the same as I: "If I did not exist, there would be nothing". So I do not deny the obvious fact that my death does not make the world nonexistent. I only claim that this fact has logical consequences. Would you say that the Cartesian 'I am' is not an obvious a priori truth? My premise 1 is something like that, perhaps a bit more difficult to see, as it seems, but very clear and obvious when you see it. And this has nothing to do with religion.

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RJG
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Re: What is Being?

Post by RJG » December 27th, 2017, 3:45 pm

Tamminen wrote:But if that other I looks at things from his/her own point of view, he/she can say the same as I: "If I did not exist, there would be nothing".
Well, no, not so. All he/she can ‘truthfully’ say is “If I did not exist, then I wouldn’t (and couldn’t!) know ‘anything’ at all! (…including the knowing of whether something or nothing or anything exists). If one does not exist, then one cannot vouch for the existence or non-existence of anything.

Tamminen wrote:Would you say that the Cartesian 'I am' is not an obvious a priori truth?
“I am” is NOT a priori truth. “I am” is merely the (flawed) conclusion made by Descartes from his flawed starting premise “I think”, which thusly created his flawed dualistic (mind/body) view. Descartes believed in a "thinking thing"; "mind" (res cognitans) as the controller of the "body" (res extensa).

Thinking is IMPOSSIBLE. We can only “experience thoughts”, not “think them” (create/construct/author them). Descartes “I think” is the false assumption coming from the true “experiencing of thoughts”. And furthermore the “I” in the premise (“I think”) simply pre-assumes the conclusion (“…therefore I am”), in other words, it begs-the-question!

All Descartes can ‘truthfully’ claim is that the “experiencing of thoughts exist”. Since Descartes can actually experience more than just thoughts, and to be more accurate/succinct, "experiencing exists" is the true and only a priori truth from which to build true knowledge from. And from this starting premise, we can then logical derive “I (the experiencer) exist!”

This corrected starting statement (premise/conclusion) means that 'mono-ism' is the correct view; and 'dualism' is dead. There is no res cogitans (no thinking thing; no mind), but instead only a res extensa (physical body) that experiences bodily reactions called thoughts, feelings, and sensory experiences.

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Re: What is Being?

Post by Tamminen » December 27th, 2017, 4:42 pm

RJG wrote:
December 27th, 2017, 3:45 pm
Well, no, not so. All he/she can ‘truthfully’ say is “If I did not exist, then I wouldn’t (and couldn’t!) know ‘anything’ at all! (…including the knowing of whether something or nothing or anything exists). If one does not exist, then one cannot vouch for existence or non-existence of anything.
Here our views differ profoundly. The being of the world depends on the being of the transcendental subject, and therefore my non-being coincides with the non-being of everything. But my non-being is impossible, and that saves the world from vanishing when I die. My premise 1 proves that there must be the transcendental subject, but if you do not see its truth, you surely think all this is nonsense, and I understand you because it is logical to think so, and I cannot convince you. So we can only wait until one of us starts to see things in a different way.
RJG wrote:
December 27th, 2017, 3:45 pm
“I am” is NOT a priori truth. “I am” is merely the (flawed) conclusion made by Descartes from his flawed starting premise “I think”, which thusly created his flawed dualistic (mind/body) view. Descartes believed in a "thinking thing"; "mind" (res cognitans) as the controller of the "body" (res extensa).
Descartes did not really conclude anything, he detected the transcendental subject. But he draw the false conclusion that there is a substance he called res cognitans. There is no such thing, only pure subjectivity with no properties, a point of view to the world. And this is the insight that inspired Husserl and others to develop the phenomenological method in philosophy.

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