Self as the Limit of the World

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Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 01:31 am
Influenced by the great Wittgenstein quote...

Conceptually speaking, we can't see beyond our own personalities. That's my thesis. But the good news is that the self is changed by dialogue with the other. We enrich one another. But this can only happen as we assimilate the other, or become the other. Of course this becoming of the other is always only partial. And perhaps often occurs with a certain amount of distortion. We can't know, I suppose, that we see it exactly as they do. But interpretation often indicates well enough that such is the case. And it's a good feeling.

It's perhaps even a better feeling when one is assimilating a new thought that matters to one.

I guess I agree that the "limits of my language are the limits of my world" because I see the world as largely made of language. The meaning of sensation is as important as the sensation, and this meaning is conceptual and emotional. I suggests that we experience the fusion of sensation, conception, and emotion. But to think is to make distinctions.

I guess part of my point is that that the self and the world and the self and the other are one, really. But we do have good reasons to distinguish between the three. Valid reasons to distinguish, and valid reasons to dissolve such distinctions. A time for everything?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 01:41 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;162792 wrote:

I guess part of my point is that that the self and the world and the self and the other are one, really. But we do have good reasons to distinguish between the three. Valid reasons to distinguish, and valid reasons to dissolve such distinctions. A time for everything?


If you can dissolve a distinction, then what is the point of making it in the first place? Clearly, if it can be dissolved it wasn't much of a distinction in the first place, was it. As William James said, a difference is only a difference when it makes a difference.
 
wayne
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 02:00 am
@Reconstructo,
I believe it's in Slaughterhouse Five, that Kurt Vonnegut gives reference to his character's peephole opening on a certain date, presumably the day of his first remembered perception of the world.
I read that book many years ago and have never forgotten that phrase. It seemed then, and now ,to be such an accurate description of our viewpoint on the world and the other.
The view from my peephole is limited, as is the other's view of myself through their own peephole. Complicating this is the fact that 2 peepholes are involved between us and any view we have of another.
Language is the most valuable tool we have for getting a glimpse of the world behind the other's peephole, without it we would have little chance of any confirmation of shared experience.

But then that's not always the case.
2 guys are sitting in a boat, a large fish jumps from the water in front of them, they glance at each other through their peepholes, no words are exchanged.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 02:12 am
@wayne,
wayne;162809 wrote:
I believe it's in Slaughterhouse Five, that Kurt Vonnegut gives reference to his character's peephole opening on a certain date, presumably the day of his first remembered perception of the world.


That's a great book. He was a master of those sweet little metaphors. I love also the opening especially of Breakfast of Champions.

---------- Post added 05-11-2010 at 03:15 AM ----------

wayne;162809 wrote:
It seemed then, and now ,to be such an accurate description of our viewpoint on the world and the other.
The view from my peephole is limited, as is the other's view of myself through their own peephole.


here's the thing though, that fascinates me. To realize that our peephole is limited is indeed still part of our peephole. All of our philosophical thoughts about the limits are perception are paradoxically extensions of this perception. And our thoughts about not-self or what cannot be seen are indeed aspects of the "seen". Or so it seems to me. I like to say that being = negative one. Our understanding of the world/self/experience/totality is unified but somehow aware that it is not complete. We conceive of our perception as limited. This fascinates me. Kant's noumena fascinates me. We can think about the world without us only when it is with us. That sort of thing. Smile
 
TuringEquivalent
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 02:19 am
@Reconstructo,
Makes on sense to me. It is perfectly obvious that we can understand a particular of view without being completely different.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 02:22 am
@Reconstructo,
I would be careful about handling a topic with such a high level of abstraction so quickly. Need to slow down. The relationship of world-and-self, self-and-other, are very deep topics to consider.
 
wayne
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 02:35 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;162818 wrote:
That's a great book. He was a master of those sweet little metaphors. I love also the opening especially of Breakfast of Champions.

---------- Post added 05-11-2010 at 03:15 AM ----------



here's the thing though, that fascinates me. To realize that our peephole is limited is indeed still part of our peephole. All of our philosophical thoughts about the limits are perception are paradoxically extensions of this perception. And our thoughts about not-self or what cannot be seen are indeed aspects of the "seen". Or so it seems to me. I like to say that being = negative one. Our understanding of the world/self/experience/totality is unified but somehow aware that it is not complete. We conceive of our perception as limited. This fascinates me. Kant's noumena fascinates me. We can think about the world without us only when it is with us. That sort of thing. Smile


A great deal of our perceptions are based on experience and learned experience. Sometimes I wonder if we can always tell the difference.

I remember another profound moment when my daughter was 1 year old.
I asked her what she thought we should name the cat we had gotten, she looked very thoughtful and said, well, we could name it daddy, or mommy.
That was the limit of her learned experience at the time.
It is interesting that all of our experience can be reduced to names, which are learned or invented, yet are not experienced.

Things get weird fast when we try to think of the world without all of that learned perception. Wish I could remember what it was like to be a new baby.

I think mankind as a whole has it's own peephole it looks through, the early human was probably every bit as intelligent as we are, but his learned experience level was similar to a modern child.
 
MMP2506
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 03:24 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;162795 wrote:
If you can dissolve a distinction, then what is the point of making it in the first place? Clearly, if it can be dissolved it wasn't much of a distinction in the first place, was it. As William James said, a difference is only a difference when it makes a difference.


There are differences between cats and dogs but when we are talking about animals in general we tend to lump them together in the same category.

Anything thing can be distinguished in some way from another and at the same time that difference can always be dissolved by speaking of the ways in which they are the same. It depends upon the context in which you are speaking about the thing.

The world, self, and the other are all three different aspects of the same reality, however, within certain contexts it is helpful to distinguish between them to learn how they all connect.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 03:28 am
@MMP2506,
MMP2506;162848 wrote:
There are differences between cats and dogs but when we are talking about animals in general we tend to lump them together in the same category.

Anything thing can be distinguished in some way from another and at the same time that difference can always be dissolved by speaking of the ways in which they are the same. It depends upon the context in which you are speaking about the thing.

The world, self, and the other are all three different aspects of the same reality, however, within certain contexts it is helpful to distinguish between them to learn how they all connect.


Lumping things together does not mean that they are not different things. And if the difference between them is important, then lumping them together is a mistake.

"Everything is what it is, and not another thing". Joseph Butler.
 
MMP2506
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 03:34 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;162850 wrote:
Lumping things together does not mean that they are not different things. And if the difference between them is important, then lumping them together is a mistake.

"Everything is what it is, and not another thing". Joseph Butler.


It depends on how you use the word thing. It is a very vague word.

Is an animal not a thing to you? I would say dogs and cats are both animals so in that sense I would say they are the same thing. That is why the context is so important.

Things only show themselves to be different when the context calls for a difference to be made.

Descartes considered everything other than the self and God to be the Res Extensa. Does that mean that distinctions cannot be made between different things withing the realm of the Res Extensa?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 03:48 am
@MMP2506,
MMP2506;162851 wrote:
It depends on how you use the word thing. It is a very vague word.

Is an animal not a thing to you? I would say dogs and cats are both animals so in that sense I would say they are the same thing. That is why the context is so important.

Things only show themselves to be different when the context calls for a difference to be made.


The term "thing" is a "place-holder" and, as such, its role is precisely to be vague, and not precise.

Animals are certainly things. Indeed, as you might expect, every thing (and everything too) is a thing. If it were not, it could hardly be anything. In no sense of "thing" are dogs and cats the same thing. Not even if they are both animals. It is fallacious to argue that because X and Y are both member of the same class, that X is identical with Y. The fallacy (in case you would like to know) is called, "the fallacy of the undistributed middle term". (It is interestingly also sometimes known as the McCartyite fallacy, named after the late Senator Joseph McCarthy who would regularly commit this fallacy. E.g. All communists are against private property. All Socialists are against private property. Therefore, all Socialists are Communists. Fallacy of the undistributed middle term.
 
wayne
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 04:10 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;162857 wrote:
The term "thing" is a "place-holder" and, as such, its role is precisely to be vague, and not precise.

Animals are certainly things. Indeed, as you might expect, every thing (and everything too) is a thing. If it were not, it could hardly be anything. In no sense of "thing" are dogs and cats the same thing. Not even if they are both animals. It is fallacious to argue that because X and Y are both member of the same class, that X is identical with Y. The fallacy (in case you would like to know) is called, "the fallacy of the undistributed middle term". (It is interestingly also sometimes known as the McCartyite fallacy, named after the late Senator Joseph McCarthy who would regularly commit this fallacy. E.g. All communists are against private property. All Socialists are against private property. Therefore, all Socialists are Communists. Fallacy of the undistributed middle term.


I'm not sure where you were going with this, but I am begining to see the value of your argument when applied to the distinction of the individual perspective, if that makes sense to you.
 
MMP2506
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 04:15 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;162857 wrote:
The term "thing" is a "place-holder" and, as such, its role is precisely to be vague, and not precise.

Animals are certainly things. Indeed, as you might expect, every thing (and everything too) is a thing. If it were not, it could hardly be anything. In no sense of "thing" are dogs and cats the same thing. Not even if they are both animals. It is fallacious to argue that because X and Y are both member of the same class, that X is identical with Y. The fallacy (in case you would like to know) is called, "the fallacy of the undistributed middle term". (It is interestingly also sometimes known as the McCartyite fallacy, named after the late Senator Joseph McCarthy who would regularly commit this fallacy. E.g. All communists are against private property. All Socialists are against private property. Therefore, all Socialists are Communists. Fallacy of the undistributed middle term.


Well it seems you committed that very fallacy by assuming that two aspects of reality being "one" is suggesting that they are identical. Two things can be different and still be part of the same whole. Whenever the One is talked about it is understood always as a whole that is sometimes described about by looking at its parts. But those parts are always one, i.e. they only exist as a whole/one.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 03:08 pm
@MMP2506,
MMP2506;162863 wrote:
Two things can be different and still be part of the same whole. Whenever the One is talked about it is understood always as a whole that is sometimes described about by looking at its parts. But those parts are always one, i.e. they only exist as a whole/one.


Thank you. I'm surprised at how difficult the concept is for some. They probably think about their individual organs at times, and yet think at other times of their bodies, and yet at other times of themselves. It seems to me that set theory is intuitive for the most part. We do it whether we've ever heard of it. It seems to me that language is maybe even fundamentally holonic, class-organized. We look at biology that way and we look at human social structures that way. We divide books into chapters, etc.

I know that you know this, MMP, so I guess it's aimed at others who find the notion of the One overwhelming.Smile
 
MMP2506
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 04:20 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;163098 wrote:
Thank you. I'm surprised at how difficult the concept is for some. They probably think about their individual organs at times, and yet think at other times of their bodies, and yet at other times of themselves. It seems to me that set theory is intuitive for the most part. We do it whether we've ever heard of it. It seems to me that language is maybe even fundamentally holonic, class-organized. We look at biology that way and we look at human social structures that way. We divide books into chapters, etc.

I know that you know this, MMP, so I guess it's aimed at others who find the notion of the One overwhelming.Smile


"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." It amazes me how right Aristotle was about these things.

People get so caught up in reducing everything to its smallest part that they forget that these parts could never exist without being part of a whole. I mean, it is irrational to imaging a bunch of independent atoms flying around randomly with no purpose, but this is still how many people view science today.

I would say it is at the very nature of any philosophical truth to be intuitive, and it often seems as if the answer we finally intuit was in front of our nose the whole time.

Language carries in it these truths, and through discourse they are revealed. The only way to intuit is to understand how the parts fit into the larger whole which allows us to fill in the gaps in the story. We do this with math and we do the same with human sciences. It is the majority of natural sciences which fail to understand the importance of the whole.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 08:08 pm
@MMP2506,
MMP2506;163127 wrote:

Language carries in it these truths, and through discourse they are revealed. The only way to intuit is to understand how the parts fit into the larger whole which allows us to fill in the gaps in the story.


Before I studied philosophy it never occurred to me that experience largely made of language, that world was largely made of language. For me, language is a naked presentation of how we chop experience into objects both concrete and abstract, which implies for me that even concrete objects are only objectified or "framed" by our seeing them as wholes, as unities. This is actually what steered me toward mathematics. I thought that number one, stripped of its contingent glyph and phoneme, was close to the notion of pure being. Pure indeterminate being. And I feel that this unifying faculty of the mind is perhaps a reduction to lowest terms of at least one aspect of thinking, if not the primary aspect.

I was also dazzled by the concept of noumena, but found myself wrestling with its logical awkwardness. And having read something of absolute idealism as the successor to transcendental idealism, it suddenly clicked for me why Fichte and Hegel did away with it. Of course it's still so useful as a pointer to the activeness of our perception, so it's more than respectable in its way. But it's quite sublime, in my opinion, that Hegel could beat Kant's dualism into a sort of monism, and I feel there is a drive toward simplicity, that Occam's razor is an aesthetic principle..

I suppose it's summed up in W's quote: "the limits of my language are the [intellectual] limits of my world." And your mention of filling in the gaps reminds me of all the modules in our human brain, that automatically do this. We are indeed pattern-finders, aren't we? This ties in to my fascination with algorithmic information theory.
 
MMP2506
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 08:22 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;163186 wrote:
Before I studied philosophy it never occurred to me that experience largely made of language, that world was largely made of language. For me, language is a naked presentation of how we chop experience into objects both concrete and abstract, which implies for me that even concrete objects are only objectified or "framed" by our seeing them as wholes, as unities. This is actually what steered me toward mathematics. I thought that number one, stripped of its contingent glyph and phoneme, was close to the notion of pure being. Pure indeterminate being. And I feel that this unifying faculty of the mind is perhaps a reduction to lowest terms of at least one aspect of thinking, if not the primary aspect.

I was also dazzled by the concept of noumena, but found myself wrestling with its logical awkwardness. And having read something of absolute idealism as the successor to transcendental idealism, it suddenly clicked for me why Fichte and Hegel did away with it. Of course it's still so useful as a pointer to the activeness of our perception, so it's more than respectable in its way. But it's quite sublime, in my opinion, that Hegel could beat Kant's dualism into a sort of monism, and I feel there is a drive toward simplicity, that Occam's razor is an aesthetic principle..

I suppose it's summed up in W's quote: "the limits of my language are the [intellectual] limits of my world." And your mention of filling in the gaps reminds me of all the modules in our human brain, that automatically do this. We are indeed pattern-finders, aren't we? This ties in to my fascination with algorithmic information theory.


Thats what makes the story of philosophy so enlightening. Philosophy doesn't start to make sense until you begin to understand its evolution from the beginning, and this is a thing that can never be completely understood. Studying philosophy is definitely one way to ensure that you will never be bored.

Evolution, both biologically and rationally, is an attempt to make things more simple. I think modernity, however, has done nothing but make things more complex. In a sense we have devolved a bit, and I think this is what H was trying to convey throughout is writings.

By trying to simply describe how we experience the world, he is reaching this primordial understanding that simple is better.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 08:33 pm
@MMP2506,
MMP2506;163196 wrote:
Thats what makes the story of philosophy so enlightening. Philosophy doesn't start to make sense until you begin to understand its evolution from the beginning, and this is a thing that can never be completely understood. Studying philosophy is definitely one way to ensure that you will never be bored.


Yes, the idea of philosophy as a whole as a dialectical evolution has been important for me. I also love the concept of determinate negation. I agree that there's no end to the game, confessing that I find concepts like the End of History or the Absolute attractive. I suppose I think that a relative closure can be had here or there, but never an ultimate closure, which would be something like death. I think the pleasure lies in the sense of progress, of ascension. Do you like Spengler at all? I find his concept of the Faustian man agreeable and convincing.
 
MMP2506
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 08:48 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;163198 wrote:
Yes, the idea of philosophy as a whole as a dialectical evolution has been important for me. I also love the concept of determinate negation. I agree that there's no end to the game, confessing that I find concepts like the End of History or the Absolute attractive. I suppose I think that a relative closure can be had here or there, but never an ultimate closure, which would be something like death. I think the pleasure lies in the sense of progress, of ascension. Do you like Spengler at all? I find his concept of the Faustian man agreeable and convincing.


The feeling of progress truly is a feeling you must experience to understand, and no words can possibly do it justice. This experience of minute closure is what allows me to look upon texts such as the Bible as bearing truth, and not just a jumble of contradicting facts as I once did. It truly begins to make the everyday much more interesting.

I haven't yet read much of Spengler but am very interested the idea behind the social cycle theory. I have often felt that the evolution of society is a cyclical process. Have you read any of his writings concerning this?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 09:31 pm
@MMP2506,
MMP2506;163205 wrote:
This experience of minute closure is what allows me to look upon texts such as the Bible as bearing truth, and not just a jumble of contradicting facts as I once did. It truly begins to make the everyday much more interesting.


It's the same for me. The everyday is itself a "miracle" and I think it's superstition/idolatry that obscures this. How strange it is that the strangeness of being goes so unrecognized, generally speaking.
 
 

 
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