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freedom and ontology

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Hereandnow
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freedom and ontology

Post by Hereandnow » August 12th, 2019, 11:57 am

Freedom is a tough topic because of the philosophical reductionist tendency: it is an either/or of determinacy and indeterminacy.
This is kind of thinking assumes that there is no analysis that can clarify phenomena like choice, decision making, and the like. I think this is wrong minded. Consider:

One should not discard the idea of "actuality", which is just as puzzling, one might argue, but is at least not cluttered with theory, philosophical or otherwise. So, you are there, doing "the usual" of some form, using your computer, drinking tea, whatever, and something goes wrong; say, the cursor is not responsive. You stop what you are doing, look for the cause and the solution, and so forth. This, I would propose, is a very important event in human understanding, for you were there, in a working conceptual scheme, and then it all had to stop for review and what was assumed is called into question: conditions for what is a fact of the world, what IS the case, are now in abeyance, and their suspension brings forth a corrective. I would argue that this kind of thing that happens all the time is the essence of human freedom. Forget, I contend, all of the arguments about metaphysical free will, a kind of absolute freedom that transcends the principle of efficient cause. Rather, acts are free when conditions for actualizing no longer dictate, or, hold one bound to "the usual". For a moment, when the cursor failure first arises and there has not yet kicked in the subroutines that apply, one is free of the flux of events. It is in the space of transition, the "doubt" that undoes the fixation that binds consciousness; this is freedom.

Of course, you will wonder what freedom has to do with ontology. You will note that all of those definitions laid out by Consul make no reference to actuality. They talk about theses and structures of reality. Not that they are so wrong, in fact you can argue that there is no getting around describing any idea whatever in terms of other ideas: you want to know what ontology is, look in a dictionary or encyclopedia. Same with 'actuality'. Heidegger thought along these lines (that is, he was qualifiedly logocentric, Not that he directed one tot he dictionary to resolve philosophical issues).

But if ontology is theory, some wordy string of ideas, where does this leave actuality? When the matter before you breaks down, the cursor doesn't work, it is the question that puts ideas to the test. The question can lead to solution, and it is obviously pragmatically significant, but, in truly unsettled matters, ones that do not have readily available answers, like those about the foundational meaning of all that is, inquiry gets "lost" in the interposition, between the inquirer and the inquired, between the idea and the ideatum, of silence. This silence reveals actuality, that is, it is what remains before one when interpretative circuits are closed and there is nothing that steps in, (for language, while it can fill the void, it is absent before doing so; and when it does it puts you on a path, and then, one is beyond silence). Language may be essential for any kind of disclosure at all, and it is clear that it is, and it may always already stand there, in the waiting behind even the least hampered apprehensions of the world, but this is does not mean that an encounter with actuality is defined conceptually. Actuality is a very different part of awareness, but it is occluded by talk, endless talk, streaming forth.

Ontology is the wordy business of leading the inquirer to a place where the words run out. Silence will not be spoken, though it can be spoken about, however. Definitions are preonological, or better, all ontology is best understood as preontological, or preactual, or pragmatically leading, as it is, in whatever form, a process that takes one to a liberation from the language strictures that impede the understanding. Freedom is always freedom from or to. Apart from this, it becomes very mysterious; in fact, freedom looses its meaning, as it does for the Buddhist once she stops thinking about freedom.

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Re: freedom and ontology

Post by h_k_s » August 12th, 2019, 6:08 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 11:57 am
Freedom is a tough topic because of the philosophical reductionist tendency: it is an either/or of determinacy and indeterminacy.
This is kind of thinking assumes that there is no analysis that can clarify phenomena like choice, decision making, and the like. I think this is wrong minded. Consider:

One should not discard the idea of "actuality", which is just as puzzling, one might argue, but is at least not cluttered with theory, philosophical or otherwise. So, you are there, doing "the usual" of some form, using your computer, drinking tea, whatever, and something goes wrong; say, the cursor is not responsive. You stop what you are doing, look for the cause and the solution, and so forth. This, I would propose, is a very important event in human understanding, for you were there, in a working conceptual scheme, and then it all had to stop for review and what was assumed is called into question: conditions for what is a fact of the world, what IS the case, are now in abeyance, and their suspension brings forth a corrective. I would argue that this kind of thing that happens all the time is the essence of human freedom. Forget, I contend, all of the arguments about metaphysical free will, a kind of absolute freedom that transcends the principle of efficient cause. Rather, acts are free when conditions for actualizing no longer dictate, or, hold one bound to "the usual". For a moment, when the cursor failure first arises and there has not yet kicked in the subroutines that apply, one is free of the flux of events. It is in the space of transition, the "doubt" that undoes the fixation that binds consciousness; this is freedom.

Of course, you will wonder what freedom has to do with ontology. You will note that all of those definitions laid out by Consul make no reference to actuality. They talk about theses and structures of reality. Not that they are so wrong, in fact you can argue that there is no getting around describing any idea whatever in terms of other ideas: you want to know what ontology is, look in a dictionary or encyclopedia. Same with 'actuality'. Heidegger thought along these lines (that is, he was qualifiedly logocentric, Not that he directed one tot he dictionary to resolve philosophical issues).

But if ontology is theory, some wordy string of ideas, where does this leave actuality? When the matter before you breaks down, the cursor doesn't work, it is the question that puts ideas to the test. The question can lead to solution, and it is obviously pragmatically significant, but, in truly unsettled matters, ones that do not have readily available answers, like those about the foundational meaning of all that is, inquiry gets "lost" in the interposition, between the inquirer and the inquired, between the idea and the ideatum, of silence. This silence reveals actuality, that is, it is what remains before one when interpretative circuits are closed and there is nothing that steps in, (for language, while it can fill the void, it is absent before doing so; and when it does it puts you on a path, and then, one is beyond silence). Language may be essential for any kind of disclosure at all, and it is clear that it is, and it may always already stand there, in the waiting behind even the least hampered apprehensions of the world, but this is does not mean that an encounter with actuality is defined conceptually. Actuality is a very different part of awareness, but it is occluded by talk, endless talk, streaming forth.

Ontology is the wordy business of leading the inquirer to a place where the words run out. Silence will not be spoken, though it can be spoken about, however. Definitions are preonological, or better, all ontology is best understood as preontological, or preactual, or pragmatically leading, as it is, in whatever form, a process that takes one to a liberation from the language strictures that impede the understanding. Freedom is always freedom from or to. Apart from this, it becomes very mysterious; in fact, freedom looses its meaning, as it does for the Buddhist once she stops thinking about freedom.
Fascinating explanation, thank you @Hereandnow .

The pre-ontological definitional phase is critical in any philosophical inquiry and discussion.

This is where I like to focus my energy and intellect first. Once the definitions are settled, then the analysis can begin.

As far as defining freedom, it seems to me that if you have choices, then you have freedom.

Listing the choices then comes next. Having such a list is evidence of the existence of freedom.

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Re: freedom and ontology

Post by Hereandnow » August 12th, 2019, 7:14 pm

h_k_s
As far as defining freedom, it seems to me that if you have choices, then you have freedom.

Listing the choices then comes next. Having such a list is evidence of the existence of freedom.
I agree with this, but it needs some explaining. Ask me if I am free to order a pizza in Swahili, and I would have to admit, I am not. The point being that one's freedom is limited to what is in one's available language and cultural resources. This is important especially in socio-political thinking, for, when we ask about accountability among all for general laws we assume equal relevance, equal valuation, equal caring; but the reality is that none of this is equal. The choices set before a denizen of the ghetto regarding obeying the law are very different from those set before a prosperous family regarding the same legal requirements.
Anyway, but choices: I simply cannot take seriously any notion that freedom is metaphysical freedom, just because I cannot make any sense at all out of behavior ex nihilo. Examine any decision at all, for any occasion, and you will find motivation. There is no unmotivated act. No matter how free it all seems, one is standing in the midst of possibilities brought forth by experience and memory. Freedom can only be understood in terms of the play of thinking values in the decision making process. Otherwise, freedom would be simply magical.

On the other hand, I am not a stone or tree; I have possibilities, they do not. The choice to raise my hand breaks from instinct and prereflective consciousness, the kind a cow has when it moves to greener grass. It is the BREAK I am interested in; the point where habit and learning step aside, like when the hammer's head flies off while hammering. While hammering, I cannot say I was free. Just the opposite: I was engaged, running through a program of learned behavior, and all was smooth and fine...then the hammer head flew off, and I am thrown into a state in which i am searching, wondering.

When philosophy takes a person to the threshold of meaningful thinking, and one stands in the midst of being there wondering, it is clear that one is not a program after all. This is where freedom as a meaningful concept yields to something else. I call this metaphysics.

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Re: freedom and ontology

Post by h_k_s » August 13th, 2019, 2:54 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 7:14 pm
h_k_s
As far as defining freedom, it seems to me that if you have choices, then you have freedom.

Listing the choices then comes next. Having such a list is evidence of the existence of freedom.
I agree with this, but it needs some explaining. Ask me if I am free to order a pizza in Swahili, and I would have to admit, I am not. The point being that one's freedom is limited to what is in one's available language and cultural resources. This is important especially in socio-political thinking, for, when we ask about accountability among all for general laws we assume equal relevance, equal valuation, equal caring; but the reality is that none of this is equal. The choices set before a denizen of the ghetto regarding obeying the law are very different from those set before a prosperous family regarding the same legal requirements.
Anyway, but choices: I simply cannot take seriously any notion that freedom is metaphysical freedom, just because I cannot make any sense at all out of behavior ex nihilo. Examine any decision at all, for any occasion, and you will find motivation. There is no unmotivated act. No matter how free it all seems, one is standing in the midst of possibilities brought forth by experience and memory. Freedom can only be understood in terms of the play of thinking values in the decision making process. Otherwise, freedom would be simply magical.

On the other hand, I am not a stone or tree; I have possibilities, they do not. The choice to raise my hand breaks from instinct and prereflective consciousness, the kind a cow has when it moves to greener grass. It is the BREAK I am interested in; the point where habit and learning step aside, like when the hammer's head flies off while hammering. While hammering, I cannot say I was free. Just the opposite: I was engaged, running through a program of learned behavior, and all was smooth and fine...then the hammer head flew off, and I am thrown into a state in which i am searching, wondering.

When philosophy takes a person to the threshold of meaningful thinking, and one stands in the midst of being there wondering, it is clear that one is not a program after all. This is where freedom as a meaningful concept yields to something else. I call this metaphysics.
Sounds like you agree whole heartedly with Descartes: Cogito ergo sum.

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Re: freedom and ontology

Post by Hereandnow » August 13th, 2019, 9:08 pm

It is not the thinking that confirms our what we are, it is aesthetics. I may think, and thinking may be essential to what I am, but in itself, thinking is unimportant. It is the caring, the emotional dimension, the fullness of actuality, that has the most to say about our being here. Descartes gives us a centralized cognition, but this does not warrant the positing of the soul. Only the aesthetic/ethical side of the matter does this. In Descartes' cogito, there is a presence unacknowledged: when I think that I am, I care, that is, it is a motivated acknowledgment. Thought does not have its presence in some abstract rational realm; rather, it is always bound to caring. Even as I write these lines, there is a value behind all that is done.
The interesting question is how is it that caring (valuing) implies the existence of the soul?

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Re: freedom and ontology

Post by h_k_s » August 15th, 2019, 1:30 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 9:08 pm
It is not the thinking that confirms our what we are, it is aesthetics. I may think, and thinking may be essential to what I am, but in itself, thinking is unimportant. It is the caring, the emotional dimension, the fullness of actuality, that has the most to say about our being here. Descartes gives us a centralized cognition, but this does not warrant the positing of the soul. Only the aesthetic/ethical side of the matter does this. In Descartes' cogito, there is a presence unacknowledged: when I think that I am, I care, that is, it is a motivated acknowledgment. Thought does not have its presence in some abstract rational realm; rather, it is always bound to caring. Even as I write these lines, there is a value behind all that is done.
The interesting question is how is it that caring (valuing) implies the existence of the soul?
Aesthetics is one of the classical romantic proofs of God: The Artistic Artificer.

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Re: freedom and ontology

Post by Felix » August 16th, 2019, 4:03 pm

Hereandnow said: The interesting question is how is it that caring (valuing) implies the existence of the soul?
When one transcends every-day existence and realizes, either implicitly or explicitly, that one is, in truth, not separate from all living things, everything becomes soul-full. This is something that is obvious to us when we are very young. As Christ said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

He also said, "What does it profit a man to gain the world and yet lose his soul?" But what he did not say (explicitly) is that focusing exclusively on the former (gaining the world) inevitably leads to the latter (losing one's soul). So when one lives in a society of world conquerors, the man of virtue must become an outsider - which is a precarious path.

Here's an example of explicit realization of unity....

J. Krishnamurti said: "While I was in that state (of deep meditation) and more conscious of the things around me, I had the first most extraordinary experience. There was a man mending the road; that man was myself; the pickaxe he held was myself; the very stone which he was breaking up was a part of me; the tender blade of grass was my very being, and the tree beside the man was myself. I almost could feel and think like the roadmender, and I could feel the wind passing through the tree, and the little ant on the blade of grass I could feel. The birds, the dust, and the very noise were a part of me. Just then there was a car passing by at some distance; I was the driver, the engine, and the tires; as the car went further away from me, I was going away from myself. I was in everything, or rather everything was in me, inanimate and animate, the mountain, the worm, and all breathing things. All day long I remained in this happy condition."
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: freedom and ontology

Post by Hereandnow » August 16th, 2019, 11:25 pm

Felix
When one transcends every-day existence and realizes, either implicitly or explicitly, that one is, in truth, not separate from all living things, everything becomes soul-full. This is something that is obvious to us when we are very young. As Christ said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Yeah. I take this kind of thing very seriously. But not without question. I read Wordsworth's Tintern Abby and understand the romantic idea that the experiences of childhood call back to something deeply profound. Philosophy takes these extraordinary things and straightens out our thinking so as give validation to what it is that draws us so profoundly.
He also said, "What does it profit a man to gain the world and yet lose his soul?" But what he did not say (explicitly) is that focusing exclusively on the former (gaining the world) inevitably leads to the latter (losing one's soul). So when one lives in a society of world conquerors, the man of virtue must become an outsider - which is a precarious path.
There is truth in this also, by my lights. There is that troubling passage where one is called to despise one's mother and father to be a disciple. Imagine living detached from all relations, deliriously happy, and all things that come before you yield to this, giving truth to the idea that one can love all. Nietzsche argued with disdain against this. He was wrong.
J. Krishnamurti said: "While I was in that state (of deep meditation) and more conscious of the things around me, I had the first most extraordinary experience. There was a man mending the road; that man was myself; the pickaxe he held was myself; the very stone which he was breaking up was a part of me; the tender blade of grass was my very being, and the tree beside the man was myself. I almost could feel and think like the roadmender, and I could feel the wind passing through the tree, and the little ant on the blade of grass I could feel. The birds, the dust, and the very noise were a part of me. Just then there was a car passing by at some distance; I was the driver, the engine, and the tires; as the car went further away from me, I was going away from myself. I was in everything, or rather everything was in me, inanimate and animate, the mountain, the worm, and all breathing things. All day long I remained in this happy condition."
Aldous Huxley wrote similarly in his Doors of Perception, giving a vivid narrative on his mescaline experiences. I do get this, and I have to say I never really understood until I read Kiekegaard, Husserl, Heidegger, Levinas Kant, and so on. These undid the rationality for affirming their denial. They undid the world through analysis of the world and helped me see that the common lot of belief systems that we swim in and about are grounded on thin air. Nothing more.

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