wild life

musings and fictions for the nomadic in spirit

Metaphysics and ontology: how do they differ?

Metaphysics was named by Arabic scholars of Aristotle because it was the body of work he wrote after (meta) his work called Physics. At one point ‘meta’ came to mean a higher level of abstraction from some field of inquiry or denoted a look outside of a field at the field, as in meta-ethics, this means looking at what background assumptions or issues that are at play, logically or temporally prior to the discussions in that field. There is also meta-philosophy or meta-metaphysics. In each case the meta- remove is from any field into a philosophical stance on that field, not a scientific or historical one. So meta-philosophy, is the philosophy of philosophy. But this isn’t always the case because meta-philosophy could be any non-philosophical position on the whole of philosophy itself.

At some later point it was claimed to have branches. (The problem with this is that branches of genus and species has its own ontological commitment pertaining to structure, as we’ll see.) These are cosmology (now a branch of astronomy, however it still is very much informed by metaphysics), eschatology (usually an area in religious studies or theology), ontology, and the study of Nothing(ness) (and if that wasn’t ridiculous enough to the outsider, I’ll call this nontology).

Cosmology is the study of the beginning of everything, or the question of origins of the cosmos. Let it be noted that to speak of an origin doesn’t necessarily assume time, a subject matter of ontology. Now, cosmos (Greek, ‘kosmos’) in scientific discourse (logos) is one thing, but in metaphysics it would mean any whole, coherent or unified system which contains all of some kind of thing (in science it would be all physical stuff). It may be said that this is the study of emergence, but that is misleading because it is the emergence of a world (the ‘whole’ mentioned above) or system. (It will become clear that this is a very ontologically loaded area of study, so imagining how it is a distinct branch or species of metaphysics from ontology hits a roadblock.) Related is ‘cosmogony’ which a lot of myths speak of. It is the event that cosmology investigates.

Eschatology is the study of the end of everything. This again doesn’t require the ontological assumption of time. But how the unified or coherent, whole, everything of a kind or all kinds could vanish, disappear, be destroyed, destructed, deconstructed, be obliterated and so on is here questioned. But also how anything can end. If the universe ended, what caused this? one might ask. This cause must have come from within. But how can a part have such power over the whole? etc etc.

Ontology split from metaphysics as a branch of or synonym for it, much later than Classic times. This happened as a sort of re-territorialization of concepts in the sixteenth century, after science (math and observation and all) had kicked out some of the concepts of Aristotle, which, having no ‘homes’ so to speak, wandered into and under the header of ‘general metaphysics’ i.e. ‘ontology’ (special metaphysics was a term for branches of science at the time and these were not part of ontology). Aristotle would call it the study of being as such, of first causes of things, and of that which does not change. Later when ontology was coined, the problems of mind/brain, free will, and personal identity were added. At the end of the day it has come to include the study of being as such, causation, personal identity, free will, mind/body problem, part/whole or composition problem, universals, time, and space. Others and I myself would take some of these to be clusters of subjects, not elemental in other words.

I would define metaphysics as the study of existence, being as such, and nothing, respectively that would be the fields of phenomenology, ontology, and nontology. Ontology I would define as the study of not just being as such, but kinds (categories, modes) of being, structures of being(s) like order, wholeness, unification, coherence, or chaos, the composition of being or the one and many, change (becoming) and permanence, emergence (beginning) and submergence (end), interaction of kinds of being or between structures like inside/outside (immanence/transcendence), action or process, chaos and order themselves, reality and illusion, possibility, necessity, contingency/actuality, propensity and chance, truth, relation, identity or sameness, and difference. There are others but they are more questionable and bleed into other fields like hermeneutics or epistemology.

Notice how these are taken for granted in all of our discourses and yet are not empirical. Science always deals in them and a change in positions on them restructures the science, and vice versa, they modify each other. The concepts seem to be essential to language itself, and some have tried to find the ‘one, comprehensive and most basic’ language. The ones who failed to do this that I know of were Russell and Whitehead, who tried to found math upon logic, a complete and basic language, before Godel showed (via math?) that this was impossible, because no such formal system can be complete. See the incompleteness theorem.

The meaning of life is not “whatever meaning you give it,” or the very giving of meaning to it. It is creativity. In further words, it is the innocence of creativity. All of the arts and effects of creativity are only mirrors that reflect it, that reflect a kind of nothingness, an overfull chaos from which all things spring. 

Conflict is a kind of intimacy. There is a moment of choice when you see the enemy’s eyes, between violent competition or camaraderie. 

Fleeing the enemy is primordial. In the Savannah before our species’ migration we had to constantly move due to climate flux. We cannot confront this enemy, we must flee. But there was always the other tribe. So we fled each other too. 60,000 years ago, and for 40,000 years, our species encircled the globe. But now we must face each other, which means to face ourselves. Nietzsche says one must overcome oneself (not others). What does this mean? To change because one can and must. To change one’s own mind is exhilarating, it recalls a sense of inner freedom and sovereignty. Haven’t you ever caught yourself lying to yourself and simply chose to confront this? Likewise we must face each other (ourselves), even though change is slower and not without much pain and ridicule. The conflict of our species against itself is the ugliest thing imaginable, as a result of seeing it as natural and fixed without choice. (While nature is beautiful even as it dies.) This is because looking into the enemy’s eyes, we choose to see a sovereignty and limitless freedom (of interpretation and meaning-making), or we choose to see an unstoppable force like the environment. We must see each other in the former way, as having free will. A determinist is least able to forgive and shrug off.

Art Is the Guard of an Inner-Wilderness

Art is a reminder for the artist. Though it may be split and formalized, fashion-whipped and marketed, art remains a reminder from the artist to him-herself of her-his unbreakable innocence, it remains a way of keeping that innocence. Art is the effect of creativity. Creativity is innocence.

In our society today (Western global secular state-capitalist society), creativity is destroyed in favor of fake innovation, by way of a crazed belief in the myth of progress. Society’s norms call on each of its members to kill his or her own inner child, his or her innocence is tainted eventually by the sea of violence, the economy of honor or money. The child, in contrast to an adult within the sea of violence, may be bullied but totally unaware of it, for s/he has not been initiated into the concept of honor and its extension, money, celebrity, jealousy. This suicide, the most frequent kind of suicide, the killing of oneself, happens by way of ignoring oneself (an essentially innocent and free self), forgetting oneself the best one can. The more trenchantly the myth of progress is questioned or a creative explanation or solution to our problems is posed, ignorance must become stronger and react more belligerently. Because of laziness and the habit of secretly hating the world yet openly loving life, the crowd cannot accept anyone pointing out the arbitrariness of ‘reality’ (our society), because that would mean we have a problem to fix and that takes work, alliance, to change one’s beliefs at the very least (yet no one will openly change one’s mind because of you, unless there is real trust; changing each other’s minds works in few contexts but one of trust because it partakes in an economy of honor/humility). Art takes work, thinking takes work. The ‘work’ of our society takes the dead soul of a slave, because it is slavery, it lines the pockets of people whom you don’t know and who probably don’t do anything *they* really care to do, and who don’t give back in any way. A society whose members are emptied of their selves through self-neglect and self-forgetfulness, a society of nobodies, must collapse. There is no content to hold it up and circumstance will push it over. 

Art is the guard of an inner-wilderness which will never be tamed by any amount of violence.

Liberalism in political philosophy is part fiction (of the unhelpful variety). I see this in the component of liberalism that takes equality (egalitarianism) and liberty (libertarianism) to be opposite and mutually exclusive values.

It’s not at all obvious why these should be considered opposites. If anyone is asked (prior to this format being communicated) What is the opposite of equality? She would say Hierarchy, stratification. The egalitarian thus advocates either an-archy or anti-stratificationism if you will. If asked how this equality comes about, she could say a variety of things like checks and balances, reciprocity, many layers of obligations, taxes, law. If she is asked What is the opposite of liberty? It would be something like constraint via domination, oppression. And when asked who imposes this, she would either say An authority, of the authoritarian kind, whether individually or collectively manifest, or she would say “The individual’s own psyche” and thus take a route which perhaps leads us too far off course (perhaps a complete reduction to individual psychology, which in my opinion is theological. So ignoring that for now—) One can then reformat the liberal perspective in terms of the values’ opposites, and ask, Can there be a society that is without both stratification and authoritarianism? If you look at history, prehistory, and ethnography, the answer is clearly Yes. So equality and liberty are not mutually exclusive, not on these more intuitive interpretations of them, in terms of their opposites. What is more, stratification cannot happen without authoritarianism. So equality and liberty are jointly excluded by the phenomenon of authoritarianism. Thus equality and freedom turn out to be allied against the same enemy.

What was the the idea behind each value coming at the expense of the other?
The traditional liberal says that the government is the agency by which equality is enforced and regulated along some principle (like the difference principle of John Rawls). Taxing the rich and giving to the poor, to maintain equality, is taking liberty from the rich, e.g. their liberty to give money/wealth to their kids instead. But has equality always required the state? History, prehistory, and ethnography give a resounding No.

An anarchist (libertarian socialist) must take issue with this liberal fiction.

Of course these values will be at odds with each other if they are loosely defined, and they are very ambiguous terms, loaded with history. It would be helpful then to ask what liberties we shouldn’t have, and what equalities we shouldn’t have. Arguably we shouldn’t be free to exert force over someone for no good reason, or to limit someone else’s choices according to our own vested interests (as do elites for US elections) yet insist that he or she is free (‘the voter is free’ adds a level of deceit). And obviously we shouldn’t be equal in the sense of leveling people’s skills down to the same (lowest) level, as happens in Vonnegut’s farcical short story, Henry Bergeron. Instead, we should be equal in the sense that like cases should be treated alike, and that human rights be respected, one of those rights being liberty. And we should be at liberty to individuate ourselves as we like and participate fully in decision-making that effects us. Clarified in this way, these traditional political values are totally compatible, there is no tug-of-war. In fact, an excess of either also means authoritarianism. 

So what is authoritarianism? It is a kind of authority, who uses a kind of coercion/power/violence/force. We must distinguish between irrational/ unnatural authority (authoritarianism) and rational/natural authority (authoritativeness). The latter is justified in using force, if s/he does ever use it, and can give good, persuasive reasons for doing so. An example would be a parent pulling a child out of oncoming traffic against the child’s will. Any punishment given by such an authority is consensual (there is much ethnographic evidence that this can work, surprising as the idea is) on both sides of the conflict and aims at restoring peace, not at blaming and establishing guilt. It assumes innocence before guilt with people, and assumes guilt before innocence with new technology (precautionary principle with products of industrial society). An authoritarian authority does none of these things. He (it’s usually a guy) breaks reciprocity with society on all levels. He uses power before and whether or not there is consensus, and cannot give good reasons for what he does. There are other aspects of this distinction, such as self-defeating principle (a teacher defeats his/her higher position by teaching), but this post is already far too long for tumblr.

What appears to be the single opposite term for authoritarianism is consensus. Equality and liberty depend on consensus. Authoritarianism ignores consensus and thus usurps both equality and liberty at once. Consensus depends on a public forum, communication, full participation, open/honest representation, and a small representation size (a person can represent no more than the amount s/he’s intimate with and knowledgable of; and everyone must be represented). 
 

The mind of a troll. That is what you can grasp, feel, understand, infer from his/her insults. When you look at a text on a screen, you read it with your own voice. Thus the troll, as a writer, has a skill. That skill is to get into your mind, to know the voice of the mind of anyone, what insults anyone. The troll therefore, knows more than expected about the pain of those upon his bridge, however much he seems remote.

Birth Control in an Idiot-Society

So, to get birth control someone is required to have every one of her genitals “checked” and a series of questions asked (e.g. How many partners have you had? same-sex? how many partners has your partner had? are you sure?)

The pap smear and breast exam have nothing to do with birth control. The effects of birth control cannot be recognized from either of these tests. The doctors will admit this. Level one of our idiot-society’s fuck up here.

Even if these tests had anything to do with birth control effects, it’s nice that the check ups are offered, but they should be optional… not required. If they are required, then that’s called paternalism, something that is against liberty, is strictly for keeping children off the road, has nothing to do with a free society. Same with seat belts. But your genitals are far more your-own-fucking-business than your life in general in relation to a car crash. Level two of our idiot-society’s fuck up.

"The pill" was passed by the FDA in 1960. For 54 years there has been the economic liberty to buy and sell them. Yet women still aren’t at liberty to do two things at the same time, namely keep their junk to themselves AND have control over their bodies with the money that they earned (through benefits or not). For some reason it’s either or. Level three. It keeps going.

The questions in the survey have nothing to do with birth control. So what if the woman is promiscuous? How is that relevant? Does it effect the insurance? No. The answer is, it’s not relevant, if anything it’s a procedure shoved in by conservative vote or ideology so patriarchs can touch your tits through a doctor. Level four and descending.

Let’s say your gynecologist is a woman (the same-sex). Why does she get to see your tits but you don’t get to see hers? Even if you are magically free from our idiot-society’s standards for what your tits should look like, this is an asymmetrical relation here. Level five. Are we at the basement? No.

Male “virility-control” or pill-contraceptive is a thing. It has been discovered. Is it out there to buy? No. Why? They want to eliminate *all* hormonal effects, too many guys might sue otherwise, and there isn’t a demand… and we’re at rock bottom. Thanks for joining me on another tour through our idiot-society.

Don’t you like how you can’t be in pain in any way unless there’s a Latin term for it? Or some sort of clinical, expensive name for it? Like fibromyalgia, which basically means that the doctor doesn’t know what it is.

Your back can’t be killing you, I just lost my job. Oh, sorry, I’m not a doctor, let me promptly not care. It does not exist unless a doctor gives it a name, even if the name means that s/he doesn’t know what it is.

Note to Ezra on Music vs. Thought

Thought goes anywhere, whereas music has its times and places. Deep thought can interrupt usual discussion if the interlocutors aren’t *up to speed* just like two unpracticed band members will be out of sync, because deep thought presumes the listener partakes of discussion not idle talk (except it doesn’t have to be practiced, the lead only has to be lucid to be followed). There is no band without practicing co-ordination. Without practice in a band, by analogy, a single musician “lectures” or solos to others.

Developing a thought is not necessarily sterile or self-centered (self-analyzing), but can become epiphany. This requires taking yourself seriously. I don’t want to believe in “intellectual levels,” but most believe in different levels of skill with drums or guitar, so fair enough. I can say only that what sets thought apart is seeing through the bull shit, something I ascribe to truly experienced solitude. And another part of it is that I bounce my thoughts off Aristotle’s, Nietzsche’s, and Heidegger’s among others’. They give strong reference points to find one’s way. So my thoughts are not just my *own* but *for others* and somewhat *from others*.

But thought can be far more disruptive and violent than music. Hence the constant (lingering or explicit) accusation against intellectuals of arrogance. This is in part because thought uses language, a communal property, on an individual basis. Music is similar, but that rhythmic/melodic form (unlike language) is not widely shared (not many can use it) and it changes quicker than language. Poetry is sort of an in-between case. But while hardcore music like Converge or Gaza is aggressive, the status quo does not understand what is happening when it hears it like you or I do. The artists themselves may not exactly “understand” their own music either. Thought is more exact and less ambiguous, can express something contrary popular “knowledge”, yet everyone will know the words (part of the communal property used over or against the “community”). Therefore it’s a territorial dispute. Therefore it gets one in a lot of trouble.

Tablet of the Eye

Mark primarily how the sun engulfs the trees,
how nature dances with a dress
sewn of plants and bugs, in the wind and leaves,
how you have eyes to see this,
how you are this seeing.
Mark my words that if you forget this,
all the better when times become worse,
so you don’t realize they’ve become worse,
so you can simply be there, wholly possible
with a world that does not need you
that you do not need but tend to,
in the Moment when you bend time into a circle
and become who you always were.

Is the essential nature of humans to cooperate or to dominate?

Our essence lies in our existence. For Sartre that means that existence precedes essence, you make up your essence individually by choosing to be a certain way, or you essentially are what you do (and you’re free to do anything at least in Stoic terms of attitude). For Heidegger on the other hand (and I’m partial to the original thought), this means that by authentically existing in our own particular ways we access or fulfill our own particular essences which were always there to begin with (there is no single, general, human essence according to Sartre or Heidegger, it is very much individual and dependent upon choice somehow), so conversely you can be inauthentic and exist generally how anyone would, and thus not access your essence; and you are not only what you do, you are also your possibilities upon which you project and the particular self/world you were thrown into and find yourself as. Their answer to this question is “Can’t answer, the question contains a mistake.”

To scientists, human nature is rather like water which undergoes different phase transitions upon change of social/material conditions. This is too broad to root out individual differences which would require a look at genetics, but it’s helpful to remember that if you’re in an agricultural society you’re bound to be more competitive than someone in a nomadic one, for many material/conditional reasons.
The mere fact that historically and cross-culturally we have as a species “gravitated” toward agriculture, and thus to even more violence and destruction in war than feuding villages or bands ever caused, does not necessarily mean that our true nature is unfolding or showing itself more, it could equally well mean that a couple of assholes in a society and chance opportunities for them to be assholes is all it takes to drag whole societies into violence, in other words that justice is more fragile than its opposite, in a way isomorphic to biological life’s rarity across planets.

What Is Philosophy? Retake

'Philosophy' is sullied by the American mind, standing for a piece of pompous fluff. The name is admittedly not well suited for most of its contemporary movements, and it seems to belong strictly and impotently to the past, before science burst out of its stomach, hissed, and flew away.

One will be hard pressed therefore to tell you what it IS as opposed to what it was or contra its form distorted by Americhismoid-super-nad-growing-protein-milk-fuck-yeah-sauce.

I’ll give you an experiential description of reading philosophers then. It is like learning an untimely dialect of language spoken by a historical brotherhood of mostly dead white dudes. Each dialect, say Aristotle’s, is responded to somehow by another somewhat similar but distinct dialect, like Nietzsche’s, and that by Heidegger’s, and that by Beauvoir’s, and hers by, well, how did she get in the old boys club!!! Well, and each gives you a mysterious and arcane power.

But it is indeed totally useless. It’s not going to cure cancer or get you a job like any other decent human slave. But the error is to think that this is the final and comprehensive word on philosophy. The question is not what can we do with it, but what does it do to us? For it changes your mode of being, which is partly a way of seeing, thus partly theoretical, and since practice is wrapped up with theory, it changes the set of WHAT is useful to you in the first place. Let me explicate. If it changes who you are, it changes that for the sake of which you do anything, thus it changes what you do in order to achieve that, thus it changes what is useful to you. There is no use in that, but if you’re going in the wrong direction, it is paradoxically the MOST useful art, to change course and progress along its lines of use-value instead.

In short, it is the study of how to have an existential crisis responsibly, one step at a time, before a midlife realization that your whole life has been a giant lie.

Becoming an adult is becoming your own parent on your own terms. You cannot be orphaned by examples. Look upon all your past conflicts like the silly quarrels of children, how innocent, but how wicked and hurt they are. So the children whom I’ve been, standing up after falling on their heads or being pushed out of trees, look up at me to see how they should respond to the situation, and I smile, lightheartedly concerned, “You’re fine.”

The will to honesty changes truth and what there is to be honest about in the first place. Liars know the truth far better than the honest because the truth they hold still in mind through all the variations of their distortions and coverings-over is by that very fact truth shaped into a diamond. Thus the truth of imagination and fiction is so much more true than the Christian or scientist’s, because it is paradoxically more anchored in the real.

Honesty of the guilty (the theyself’s guilt): nothing lessens freedom more! (The innocence of the adult theyself is almost equally hindering, but perhaps less for purely psychological reasons.)
Honesty is the worst policy (which is an innocuous inversion because policy is the worst policy when anarchism is true), for the drive of honesty becomes a megalomaniac, usurps the truths about the best aspects of its topic and has a bias to select for the worst in order to show how much it *itself* is worth. “I expose baseness fearlessly,” it says as it becomes a hierarch, but this is a fool’s game, to act as some kind of escort for the wretched, when the society of truth is purely egalitarian.

Anti-Utilitarianism

Let’s say you mess with 2 people. Or let’s say you mess with 1. Doesn’t make a difference. The number of victims alone shouldn’t matter. What you’re doing isn’t worse the more people you do it to. You can mess with thousands of people. What matters is who they are and how well connected they are. Because that’s how you’re going to get what’s coming to you.