"I" as Executant

  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » José Ortega y Gasset
  3. » "I" as Executant

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Reply Fri 4 Dec, 2009 07:35 am
This passage is from an essay that Ortega wrote about the time he was writing his first book, Meditations on Quixote, in 1914. It was in that book that he first stated his famous formula, "I am I and my circumstance," where the first "I" represents "my life" and the second "I" the person that "I" am. In this passage he discusses in detail his concept of the second "I," what he calls "The Executant I" [italics Ortega's, emphases mine]:
 
[CENTER]The Executant "I"[/CENTER]

We can only use or utilize things. And vice versa: things are those points at which our utilitarian activity is inserted. Now then: we can assume a utilitarian posture before all things save one, save before one solitary, one unique thing: our "I."

Kant reduces morality to his well-known formula: act so as not to use others as means, but as ends of your actions. To make these words, as Kant does, the expression of a norm and a guide in all obligations is the same as declaring that in fact each of us uses his fellow man, that we treat them as we treat things. Kant's imperative, in its various forms, would have us regard other men as people, not things to be used, not things.And this human status devolves on something when we fulfill the immortal maxim from the Gospel: treat your neighbor as yourself. Making an I myself ofsomething is the only way it can cease being a thing.

But it would seem that we are allowed a choice when confronted by another person, another subject, between treating him as a thing, utilizing him, and treating him as an "I."Here there is a margin for the arbitrator, a margin that would not be possible if the other human subjects really were "I myself." The "you" and the "he" are, then, fictitiously "I." In Kant's terms we would say that my good will makes you and he into something like other "I's."

Earlier we spoke of the "I" as the one thing that we not only do not desire to turn, but that we cannot turn, into a thing. This is to be taken literally.

In order to see itclearly, we ought first to recall the change in meaning of a verb if it is used in the first or the third person present indicative: "I walk," for example. The meaning of walk in "I walk" and "he walks" evidently has a primary semblance of identity-otherwise we would not use the same verb stem. Notice that "meaning" means nothing more than "reference to an object"; therefore, "identical meaning" signifies "reference to the same object or reality, to the same aspect of some object or reality." Now then, if we direct our attention with some insistence to precisely that reality to which "I walk" alludes, we cannot help but notice how different it is from that alluded to by "he walks." His walk is a reality that I perceive with my eyes as happening in space; a series of successive positions of legs over the ground. In the "I walk" the visual image of my feet moving may occur to me; but beyond that, and as if more directly alluded to in those words, I find an invisible reality and one foreign to space-the effort, the thrust, the muscular sensations of tension and resistance. The difference could not be greater. One could say that in the "I walk" I refer to walking "seen" from inside what walking is, and in "he walks" to walking seen as an external result. However, while the relationship of walking seen as an inner event and walking as an external occurrence is self-evident, immediate, and presents itself to us without any effort on our part, this does not imply the least similarity between its two aspects. What does this peculiar thing "internal effort" or "feeling of resistance" have to do with a body changing its position in space? There is, then, an "I walk" that is completely different from "they walk."

Any other example we chose would produce the same observation. However, in cases like that of "walking" itseems the primary, the clearest meaning is the external one. Let us not become involved in finding out why this is so. It is enough if we are aware that, in contrast, there is a whole class of verbs in which the first and obvious meaning is the one expressed by the first person: "I want, I hate, I feel pain." Who has ever felt the pain or hate of anyone else? We see only contracted features or piercing eyes. What do these objects of sight have in common with what I find in myself when I feel pain or hate?

With this example, it seems to me, the distance between "I" and everything else becomes clear, whether that thing be an inanimate body or a "you" or a "he." How, in a general way, might we express this difference between the image or concept of pain and pain as felt, as hurting? Perhaps by noticing that they are mutually exclusive: the image of a pain does not hurt; moreover, itputs pain at a distance, replaces itwith its ideal shadow. And vice versa: the pain hurting is the opposite of its image; in the instant that it becomes an image, it stops hurting.

"I" means, then, not this person as distinct from another, nor, even less, people as distinct from things, but rather all things-men, things, situations-inasmuch as they are occurring, being, executing themselves. Each of us is "I" according to this, not for belonging to a privileged zoological species equipped with a projectmaking apparatus called consciousness, but more simply because he is something. This red leather box that I have before me is not an "I" because itis only an image I have, and an image is exactly not what is imaged. Image, concept, etc., are always image, concept of . . . , and that of which they are an image is the real being. There is the same difference between a pain that someone tells me about and a pain that I feel as there is between the red that I see and the being red of this red leather box. Being red is for itwhat hurting is for me. Just as there is an I-John Doe, there is also an I-red, an I-water, and an I-star.

Everything, from a point of view within itself, is an "I."

Now we see why we cannot assume a utilitarian posture before the "I": simply because we cannot place ourselves before Phenomenology and Art, Translated with an introduction by Philip W. Silver. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1975, Sections 2-3 and part of 4, pp. 131-134.]

In summary, then, every "I" its own executioner!:bigsmile:

Next post:"I" and My I
 
Deckard
 
Reply Fri 4 Dec, 2009 11:58 am
@longknowledge,
Thanks for posting this. Here is the part that trips me up and probably other people as well.


["I" means, then, not this person as distinct from another, nor, even less, people as distinct from things, but rather all things-men, things, situations-inasmuch as they are occurring, being, executing themselves. ]


Ortega is dismissing personality because it is merely the image of the "I" and not the raw and pure "I" with all veils removed. Yet in another way of thinking the personality itself is the center of the "I".


To paraphrase Mark 8:36: What does it profit you if you gain the pure "I" but lose your personality!


I realize that Ortega's "Executant I" is a technical and very specific definition of "I". At least for the sake of discussion, let us allow a definition 2 that includes personality as an integral part.
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Fri 4 Dec, 2009 10:03 pm
@Deckard,
bavandongen;108144 wrote:
Thanks for posting this. Here is the part that trips me up and probably other people as well.

["I" means, then, not this person as distinct from another, nor, even less, people as distinct from things, but rather all things-men, things, situations-inasmuch as they are occurring, being, executing themselves. ]

Ortega is dismissing personality because it is merely the image of the "I" and not the raw and pure "I" with all veils removed. Yet in another way of thinking the personality itself is the center of the "I".

To paraphrase Mark 8:36: What does it profit you if you gain the pure "I" but lose your personality!

I realize that Ortega's "Executant I" is a technical and very specific definition of "I". At least for the sake of discussion, let us allow a definition 2 that includes personality as an integral part.

Boy, bavandongen, you just asked the right question! I think this should help, again from the same essay [Ortega's italics, my emphases and footnotes]:


[CENTER]"I" and My Own I[/CENTER]

Everything, from a point of view within itself, is an "I."

This sentence only serves as a bridge to the exact comprehension of what we are looking for. To be truthful, it is inexact.

When I feel pain, when I love or hate, I do not see my pain, nor do I see myself loving or hating. In order for me to see my pain, I have to interrupt being in pain and become an "I" that looks on. This "I" that observes the other one in pain is now the true "I," the executant one, the present "I." The "I" in pain, to be exact, was, and is now only an image, a thing or object that "I" have before me.

In this way we reach the last step in our analysis:

"I" is not man in opposition to things, and not this subject in opposition to a subject "you" or "he." "I," finally, is not that "I myself," the me ipsum that I think I know when I practice the Delphic saying "Know thyself." The thing I see appear on the horizon, resting briefly on the lengthened clouds of dawn like a gold amphora, is not the sun but an image of the sun; in the same way, the I that I seem to have so close at hand is only an image of my "I."

This is not the appropriate place to wage war on the original sin of the modern epoch, which like all original sins was in truth a necessary precondition for not a few virtues and triumphs. I refer to subjectivism, the mental illness of an age that began with the Renaissance, consisting of the supposition that I am what is closest to me-that is, that what is closest to me as an object of knowledge is my reality or "I" as a reality. Fichte, who before and above all else was a man of excess-excess raised to the category of genius-represents the highest intensity of this subjective fever; and a whole era came under his influence; that is, at a certain hour of the morning in all German lecture halls, the world of the "I" was produced like a handkerchief pulled from a coat pocket.[1] After Fichte had initiated the decline of subjectivism, perhaps even now, a new way of thinking having nothing to do with subjectivism has hove into view like the faint outline of a distant coast.[2]

The "I" my fellow citizens call John Doe, and who I am, really holds the same secrets for me as for them. And vice versa: I have no more direct knowledge of other men and things than of myself. Just as the moon shows me only a pale sidereal shoulder, so too with my "I": it is a passerby, with face hidden, that crosses my consciousness, giving me no more than a glimpse of a back draped in a Spanish cape.

Saying a thing and doing it are very different things, exclaims the common man. And Nietzsche: "It is very easy to think things; it is very difficult to be them." The distance between saying something and doing it, between thinking something and being something is exactly the same as the distance between thing and I.

[CENTER][True Inwardness][/CENTER]

So we arrive at the following difficult dilemma: there is nothing we can make an object of cognition, nothing that can exist for us unless it becomes an image, a concept, an idea-unless, that is, it stops being what it is in order to become instead a shadow or outline of itself. With one thing only are we on intimate terms: our individuality, our life, but when this inwardness of ours becomes an image it too ceases to be inwardness. When I said that in "I walk" we referred to walking as seen from within, I was alluding to a relative inwardness; by comparison with the image of a body moving in space, the image of the movement of my sensations and feelings is like an inwardness. But true inwardness, or anything in the act of executing itself, Phenomenology and Art, Translated with an introduction by Philip W. Silver. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1975, Sections 2-3 and part of 4, pp. 131-136.]

[1] Fichte at one point says: "The whole world is I."

[2] See bavandongen, when I am looking at "my personality," "I" am not executing "my personality," but rather "I" executing the observation or recollection of "my personality" as I may have just or at a previous time executed it, or as others may have mentioned it to me.

Actually "personality" is the name of a concept that was invented to describe or explain human behavior. Ortega sometines uses the word "character" to express the same concept.

Next post: Executivity and Objectivation or Consciousness
 
Deckard
 
Reply Sat 5 Dec, 2009 09:23 am
@longknowledge,
Longknowledge, there is for me still something troublesome about dismissing our personalities as not part of our I-ness and not qualitatively different from the other things.


Is it possible that the image the I has of itself is qualitatively different from other non-I things?


Ortega states that "we can take a utilitarian posture before all things save one, save before one solitary, one unique thing: our "I".


But perhaps there is another thing that deserves special attention.
For to what extent can the I wholeheartedly take a utilitarian posture before the image of the I?

There is something qualitatively different about confronting the image of oneself and confronting other things and for that matter other images of things.


Ortega states "the distance between thinking something and being something is exactly the same as the distance between thing and I."


But could it be that there is a third type in addition to the "I" and the "things"? In this category we find the "image of the I" - the personality. And this "image of the I" is not quite as far away from the "I" as the "things" are?


Come to think of it, it seems right to include other subjects, that is external subjects in this category existing at about the same distance from the "executant I" where we find the image of the I.


One might even say that the personality, character, or self-image (call it what you will) is all that keeps us from a sort of internal solipsism.


[CENTER]* * *
[/CENTER]


Well, I have to go now and at the moment I would rather not not post this reply and wait until my ideas are more clear so I will and I won't respectively. In any case I'm going to have to check this book out. I read Revolt of the Masses and liked it but that was a while ago.
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Sat 5 Dec, 2009 10:09 pm
@Deckard,
bavandongen;108346 wrote:
Longknowledge, there is for me still something troublesome about dismissing our personalities as not part of our I-ness and not qualitatively different from the other things.

Is it possible that the image the I has of itself is qualitatively different from other non-I things?

Ortega states that "we can take a utilitarian posture before all things save one, save before one solitary, one unique thing: our "I".

But perhaps there is another thing that deserves special attention.
For to what extent can the I wholeheartedly take a utilitarian posture before the image of the I?

There is something qualitatively different about confronting the image of oneself and confronting other things and for that matter other images of things.

Ortega states "the distance between thinking something and being something is exactly the same as the distance between thing and I."

But could it be that there is a third type in addition to the "I" and the "things"? In this category we find the "image of the I" - the personality. And this "image of the I" is not quite as far away from the "I" as the "things" are?

Come to think of it, it seems right to include other subjects, that is external subjects in this category existing at about the same distance from the "executant I" where we find the image of the I.

One might even say that the personality, character, or self-image (call it what you will) is all that keeps us from a sort of internal solipsism.

[CENTER]* * *[/CENTER]

Well, I have to go now and at the moment I would rather not not post this reply and wait until my ideas are more clear so I will and I won't respectively. In any case I'm going to have to check this book out. I read Revolt of the Masses and liked it but that was a while ago.

Boy, bavandongen, there you go again.! Asking the important questions that go right to the heart of Ortega's philosophy. As I will make clear in a future thread, what you are calling "my personality" Ortega refers to as "our own character."

Now Ortega's concept of "our own character" must be understood within the context of what he refers to as the structure of the "radical reality" that is "my life," our life, the life of each one of us. This will give me an opportunity to review the material that I have presented in other threads and to which you can refer for a deeper understanding of each point.

As the starting point of his philosophy, Ortega holds that "My Life" is the "Radical Reality" in the sense that all other realities appear or are "rooted" in it. Then Ortega presents an analysis of what he calls the "Consistency" of "My Life." First, "My Life" consists of "Happenings" or "Occurrences." Furthermore, "My Life" consists of "I" and "My Circumstance,"where "I" is the thinking sensing, feeling, deciding, etc. "person" that I am, and "My Circumstance" is everything that is not "I". Included in Ortega's concept of "My Circumstance" would be various phenomena or "things" that "happen" or "occur" to the "I", so-called "physical" phenomena, "mental" phenomena, and I would add "spiritual" phenomena. And the important thing to realize is that at the same time that "My Circumstance" is "happening" or "occurring" to the "I," "I" am "happening" or "occurring" to "My Circumstance." Thus "My Life" consists of "What I Do"(I.e., how I "happen" to "My Circumstance") and "What Happens to Me (from "My Circumstance.")

Now in this thread I am presenting Ortega's concept of the "I" as "Executant." Here we need to understand that Ortega was reacting to the Phenomenology developed by Husserl at the beginning of the last century. This essay was written just after Husserl had published his book, Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, in 1913. In it, Husserl posits what he calls "primary consciousness," such as what occurs in the act of "seeing," and what he calls "pure consciousness," in which we think or "reflect" upon that act of "seeing." Now Husserl, "priviledges" the act of "reflection," or "pure consciousness," over the act of "seeing," or primary consciousness." This is the famous "phenomenological reduction," and Ortega criticizes Husserl for doing so.

In the passage above in this thread, Ortega uses the expression "executing." That is, when I am "seeing," I am "executing" an act of "looking." But then in "thinking" or "reflecting" about what I have just "seen," I am "seeing" an "image" of the first act, which is "executing" another and different act, and neither act is privileged over the other. So Ortega admires the analysis that Husserl and the Phenomenologists have done in describing human actions to the point that he adopts descriptive phenomenology as his method, but he rejects Husserl's "phenomenological reduction" as the last remnant of the Idealism that characterizes (if you'll pardon the expression) the so-called Modern Philosophy starting with Descartes.

Now all this is preliminary to getting to the question that you are asking. What role does what you call "my personality" play in all this? Does what Ortega calls the "I" constitute or include "my personality," is "my personality" part of what he calls "My Circumstance," or is it a third thing?
It so happens that this is discussed in the last part of the last section of the last chapter of the book that I referred to in my footnote to the last posting to this thread, namely our own character" is understood to be what you call "my personality." [Again, italics Ortega's, emphases mine.]:

"Life means the inexorable necessity of realizing the project of existence that each one of us is. This project, which the "ego" intrinsically is, is no idea or plan a human being has conceived and freely chosen. It is prior to every single idea our mind may fashion, to every decision arrived at by our will. I mean to say that it is independent of them. But this is not all. Usually, we have about it the vaguest of notions, and yet it constitutes our genuine being, our destiny. Our will is free to realize or to refuse the living project we ultimately are, but we cannot alter, correct, disregard, or replace it. We indelibly are that unique programmatic personage who must be realized, and yet the world about us or our own character renders self-realization easier or more difficult, to some degree or other. Life is inherently dramatic, for it amounts to engaging in a frenzied struggle with things, and even with our own character, in order to attain in fact the one person we already are in terms of out project."

[From: "In Search of Goethe from Within," trans. W. R. Trask, in The Dehumanization of Art and Other Writings on Art and Culture (Doubleday/Anchor, 1956), p. 130.]

It is clear from this passage that Ortega sees "our own character" as something different from the "I," as well as different from our "destiny" or "the living project that we are meant to be." Elsewhere, Ortega states that what he here calls "our own character" is a part of "My Circumstance," just as is "My Body" and "My Mind," and what he here calls "the world around us" or "things," which he often uses to refer to other physical phenomena, such as rocks, mountains, plants and animals, as well as to other people.

As a personal example, part of my "character" is to work very diligently on a project for days and days and then ignore it or abandon it when something else of interest comes along. There are probably psychological reasons why this is so, but I won't go into them here. On the other hand my "authentic project" or "destiny" seems to be intertwined with exploring, promoting and even going beyond Ortega's thought and applying it in view of "my circumstance." It is this "project" which I have engaged in from time to time over the last 50 years, and have spent much of my spare time "doing," sometimes only the form of "doing" that is called just "thinking" about it. This includes, as I hope you will eventually see, the project of examining the concept of "sustainability," which as an environmentalist I have come to realize is the key to the future of the life of human beings on this planet, and which appears in fact, if not in name, throughout the works of Ortega. (See my blog, Sustainability: How to Keep It Up While Going Down
 
pagan
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 02:06 pm
@longknowledge,
hi longknowledge

i too am very new to this scheme of being so i may be asking non sensible questions.

I as executant seems to be the act of being a thing. The interaction with that executant becomes what exists (resists) for that I executant. Namely the circumstance of the I executant.

Thus seeing is primary. It is I executant. Seeing a reflection in a mirror is ........I executant seeing, and the circumstance of the existing reflection?

Thinking is primary. It is I executant. Thinking about visual perception is ..... I executant thinking, and the circumstance of the existing thoughts and their logical relationship (or not) with each other?

Reading is primary. It is I executant. Reading about I executant is ........ I executant reading, and the circumstance of the existing idea that 'I executant' cannot be circumstance, it can only be the circumstantial idea of 'I executant'?

Thus ..... the circumstance of the existing idea that 'I executant' cannot be circumstance

is not contradicted by....... the existing idea of 'i executant' as circumstance?

The reason being that the logically correct circumstance of the idea of 'i executant' is the circumstance of the idea that 'I executant' cannot be circumstance? OR to recognise that 'the idea of I executant' is necessarily not the same as 'I executant', just as 'being a frog' is necessarily not the same as the idea of 'frog' or the seeing of a 'frog'.

But is the seeing of a frog ...... circumstance or 'i executant' or both?

Similarly is the understanding of the 'i executant' and its relationship to circumstance...... circumstance or 'i executant' or both?

Also ........ it would follow that the I executant of seeing and the I executant of correct logical thinking are coincident with the I executant of reading about the I executant correctly. Is this the same I executant, or three different I executants together?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 05:30 pm
@longknowledge,
This reminds me of what Hegel would call "pure subjectivity." I think the Eastern mystics also spoke of it.

If we zoom out as far as possible, behind our mental-models of self, we can imagine pure consciousness. As if consciousness were a light that discloses all beings.

Our idea of our personality is just a mental-object, and cannot be consciousness itself. And our mental model of consciousness cannot be consciousness itself.

Is this why Heidegger crossed out the word Being, because the word/concept is not the thing itself?

Indeterminate being sounds like nothingness. It's light that isn't visible until it bounces off something particular. It's the sound of one hand clapping. The first hand is consciousness/Being/existence/light as metaphor. The other hand is beings, the particular objects of consciousness, including self-image/personality. Neither makes sense without the other.
 
pagan
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 06:10 pm
@Reconstructo,
yeh hi reconstructo

The idea (or is it circumstance) that life is the root of reality. That life is the interaction between I and circumstance ....... is mystically attractive.

Its a bit like all is mind. The conciousness of and the sense of me behind it.

But what is the self? Is that also a circumstance in this scheme? If not (to avoid contradiction?) then all ideas of the self are circumstance. So what makes this scheme any different to another world scheme by its own categorization of circumstance? Its consistency as an idea is the same as any other world view....... so presumably its worth comes from more accurately recognising reality, I and circumstance. If so in what way?

I can't figure out the being. Is it I. Is it a collection of I's. My life is presumably not just the I of being but also the circumstance. But the 'My life' implies a self? But at this 'my life' level in the scheme the self is everything since it includes I and circumstance and the interaction between the two? Which level is the self (my life or i executant) and what is it?

The other bit i don't get is memory. This seems to me to be like seeing and thinking and walking, so to remember is I executant and the memories are circumstance? If so then 'My life' seems to be a circumstance of primary i executant remembering........ and thus reverses the whole scheme.

But also this scheme is an idea, so therefore it is a circumstance, including the concept of my life? Thus again the scheme is reversed from overarching 'my life' to my life as a circumstance idea?

I suppose one could say why should 'my life' be logically consistent? But if not, then why use logic to persuade others to adopt this scheme?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 06:41 pm
@longknowledge,
It's a tricky territory. The past only exists in the present as memory and physical evidence. The future exist only fear and desire, intended projects, etc.

Is the self a network of beliefs, desires, and memories?
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Thu 10 Dec, 2009 01:37 am
@pagan,
pagan;109297 wrote:
hi longknowledge

i too am very new to this scheme of being so i may be asking non sensible questions.

I as executant seems to be the act of being a thing.


Hi, pagan,

Except for the first item, you make each comment as if it were a statement and then end it with a question mark. I assume that you are asking me if I agree with each statement. I'll try to answer accordingly. I'm posting the first comment and my reply now to indicate that I am working on responses to your questions/statements, and that I plan to reply to them all in due course

"I as executant seems to be the act of being a thing."

This statement can be interpreted in two ways: "the act of being [of] a thing" or "the act of being a 'thing'." Under the first interpretation, which I think corresponds to that of Ortega, the thing is an I as executant when it regarded from within itself as a thing that is executing itself. Under the second interpretation, the thing is being regarded as a "thing" from without by a person or "I" as executant, executing itself as an observer of the thing.

To use an example that Ortega uses, a horse that is regarded from inside itself as executing itself as a horse, i.e., prancing, eating, sleeping, etc., is being an "I" as executant. But one of the things that "happens" when a horse is executing itself in daylight is that the sun's rays are absorbed by the hair and other surfaces on the horse and the atoms in the hair, etc., reradiate some of that energy in the form of light.

This light may then picked up by a human eye and the pattern of the horse's appearance is projected onto the retina of the eye, where it causes the nerves in the retina to transmit impulses to the brain. Then, through a process that is not as yet explained, the brain produces an "image" that is experienced by a conscious person, the "I" that I am.

If that "I" happens to notice, i.e., is paying attention to that portion of the set visual images that it is experiencing at a given time, then it may recognize the pattern as that of a "thing" separate from other "things" in its visual "circumstance," and it may then identify the pattern of the "thing" as similar to previous experiences of having seen a pattern that it has learned to call a "horse," and then it interprets the visual experience as that of "seeing" a "thing" called "horse." In doing all of this, the "I" of the person is itself being an "I" as executant.

Now to use Ortega's terminology again, in the first case the horse as executant is "horsing" and in the second case, the horses' "horsing" may result in an "I" as executant "seeing a horse," that is a person "looking" or focusing its attention on a visual pattern and then interpreting it as a "thing" that it has learned to call a "horse."

I hope that this is useful to you and I really appreciate your interest. In the future I will try to stop "horsing around" and make my replies to your other questions/statements not as long as this one.

Also, see the next post: Executivity and Objectivation or Consciousness
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Thu 10 Dec, 2009 07:47 am
@longknowledge,
The following passage from a course titled What is Knowledge? given by Ortega in 1929-30 further explores the idea of "executivity" and compares it with "objectivation" or "consciousness." The wording is a little technical, but I think that if you spend time reading it you can grasp the meaning. The translation is by longknowledge and I have added words in [brackets] to make the meaning clearer; also, as usual, italics are Ortega's and emphases mine:

[CENTER]Executivity and Objectivation or Consciousness[/CENTER]


Executivity is the most evident character with which life, this novel reality, appears to us. Of it I say that it is the executive, that its being is executive being. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Executivity is the note most suitable for something when it is an act and is considered as such, that is to say, as verifying itself, fulfilling itself, actuating. Now then, that implies that an act tolerates another consideration, under which its being would not be executive. This other consideration is that in which we refer to an act for what it is, not in the intimacy of its being, of its execution, but rather, as it appears before us, as it is, therefore, for another or from without. Accordingly, when one says of it that it is an act, one is saying something which it is not in its intimacy. The act of seeing [for example] is not an act for itself; it does not know itself as such because it does not reflect upon itself; it does not see itself as an object or in its "towards [the] outside." In order to understand each other, let us then speak of the "intimacy" and "externality" of an act, or of its "intrabeing" and "extrabeing."

We see then that the executive being is a concept formed in contraposition to that of the objective being, and must be understood as a function of and in reciprocity with it.

The act of seeing in its intimacy, or in its intrabeing, does not make an object of itself. What is more, no act can be an object of itself;forthat [reason] idealism does not recognize executive being, since it bases itself upon refection, wherein an act is observed from another [act] and what is said of it is only that which the act shows of itself in this outside consideration; [the act] shows only its extrabeing.

On the other hand, what does it mean to say the intimacy of an act or intrabeing? Evidently, that which the act would be to an eye interior to it, what it would be if it saw itself.

But if by seeing one understands that which is customary, or what it usually symbolizes, namely, any act of objectivating consciousness, one would have a contradiction. Because objectivation, "consciousness of," signifies to stand outside of something and take it as the terminus of an act. The object of a conscious act is precisely that which is not the act, but instead, where the act terminates.

Executiveness, then, supposes that an act is for itself yet, at the same time, that this being for me does not signify the same as objectivation, or the consciousness sensu stricto of itself.

Being for itself is a category of idealism; the one that defines thinking in its ultimate ontological peculiarity. [Thinking] was offered as the only object for which it is enough to be an object for [it] to be absolutely or to be real (-being for itself or in itself). It is odd indeed that this being [which is] so decisive for thinking and that which gives it its ontological rank, is not constitutive of it; but rather that the "I think" has to be able to accompany all my representations,- it must only be able [to do so]. Reflection or self-consciousness is a possibility, but it is not constitutive of, thinking.

In idealism, apart from that strange situation, one peculiarity of thinking or "consciousness" by virtue of which by its very consistency it would be at once in itself and for itself is supposed;a peculiarity which would make it, at once, an object for another and an absolute being-in fine, execution and object. But it does not seem that such is the case, but rather that, ontologically, its absolute or executive being is neither more nor less distant from thinking or consciousness than anything else. Phenomenology, for which it would be so important to establish [that point], only succeeds in showing that there is continuity between the reflecting act and the one reflected upon, that is to say, continuity between acts belonging to the same "mental flux," or Bewusstseznsstrom. But this mental flux is transcendent to each act, and [with] each act, even with the immediate[ly next] one, it is at best only in continuity, but never in identity. Hence, what is arbitrary about the being for itself of thought does not lie in the being for, but rather in the itself. There only would be authentic self-reflection, and thus one's selfness, only if an act reflected itself within itself. But it happens that it is not so: that act A only extra-is for act B, and not intra-is for itself. One must, then, correct this idea of "selfness" and "being for itself."

A toothache hurts someone and if not it is not an ache [at all]. This "hurting someone" is: a "being for another," but not as an object. My ache hurts me but not qua object of my consciousness or cogitatio, butrather, it is absolutely and in itself "being for me." Its intrabeing is in no need of being turned into external being in order to be-for-me. Or equivalently stated: it is for me as engaged in being for itself. But the converse is true as well: its being for me is, at once and identically, being for itself. I may pay attention to it or not; I may observe it, think it, remember it-and all of that will yield to me its "being for me," in the usual sense of objectivation. The ache I am thinking about does not hurt me, [however]; it is objectively, but is not executively.

Here we have, then, a presence of a being before me which is not of an objective sort, but rather of a straightforwardly entitative kind. Therefore, it is a reflection of the reality "ache" itself, one which is not endowed with the (already special) character of consciousness, but originarily constitutes that very reality. That reflection is no mere possibility but something inseparable from the real, an indefeasible dimension of it, one that does not come to be superadded to it by my cogitatio.

Now then, that which I call "I" is present to me constantly and unfailingly in every moment; so much so that it constitutes me, it unfailingly integrates my very existence. I am present to myself without needing to perceive myself; on the contrary, on my perceiving my executive or inner I, my intrabeing does not appear either more or less than when I am not exercizing an "internal" or "immanent perception." And just as [it is with] the I, so [it is with] all my "acts." And just as [it is with] my "acts," so [it is with] the entire "world" toward which they are usually directed. (These "acts," thus present [to me], are not what psychological objectivation calls "acts," nor my "I" the psychological one, but rather [they are] my living I and acts.)

[Translation by longknowledge from Madrid: Revista de Occidente in Alianza Editorial, 1984, I. , Problemas, 19 diciembre, 1929, [Problema] 9, pp. 17-20. Compare: What is Knowledge? Executivity, Objectivation, and Point of View
 
pagan
 
Reply Thu 10 Dec, 2009 12:16 pm
@longknowledge,
hmmm ..... thanks for your replies longknowledge. Yes i am still playing catch up.

There is bound to be it seems a kind of struggle and therefore debate of language with regard to Ortega Smile His scheme of being and world reversing certain well established 'objectifications' within analytical western culture. All established cultural forms get into the language they use to communicate in this world.

Quote:

'I as executant seems to be the act of being a thing.'

This statement can be interpreted in two ways: "the act of being [of] a thing" or "the act of being a 'thing'." Under the first interpretation, which I think corresponds to that of Ortega, the thing is an I as executant when it regarded from within itself as a thing that is executing itself. Under the second interpretation, the thing is being regarded as a "thing" from without by a person or "I" as executant, executing itself as an observer of the thing.
At first i was surprised by your reply here and the distinction you made. But then i read on about the horse and i thought well "i agree with that", so the other is just a semantic detail. But upon further reflection i am not sure again .....

there seems to me to be 3 possibilities.

1 the act of being a thing

2 the act of being a thing that observes another act of being a thing.

3 the act of being a thing that observes its own act of being a thing.

'The act of being a thing' i meant as 1 but you interpreted it as 3? When you reworded it to "the act of being [of] a thing" i think of 3, while you mean 1?

So 1 is only half the story in a sense. It is a thing acting out its being. eg a horse prancing. But a thing acting out its being with no consequense (circumstance) has no life, since life is the conjunction of the two. (executant and circumstance) Even if the only circumstance is a sense of resistance upon the feet, it is a life. Prancing about without any knowledge or resistance is not a life.

so what if ....

A the act of being

B the act of being a thing that interacts with another act of being.

C the act of being a thing that interacts with its own act of being.

ie a thing comes into existence when an act of being encounters another act of being. An act of being cannot 'of itself' (on its own) be a thing. A thing is something that resides in the circumstantial category of Objectivation, which can only arise out of interaction.

C is obviously the tricky one. I take Ortega to mean that 'thinking' as an act of being is strongly (if not uniquely) placed to interact with its own act of being. Thus a 'thing' is created out of the interaction which is 'the self' as created circumstantially from the act of thinking (interacting recursively). However according to Ortega this 'self' created out of the act of thinking is still circumstantial. It is not the thing in itself that it thinks it is. ie self consciousness? Self consciousness according to Ortega does exist, but the primary act is the consciousness not the self consciousness? Self consciousness is something else. Just like a reflection in a mirror is not the self either in the direct primary sense. It is the self, but in the circumstantial sense (which is still crucial to a life.)

ie the self is necessarily circumstantial and arises out of the interaction of acts of being. The temptation however for heirarchal reductionists is to want the primary executant to be examinable without the examination either distorting it ........ or worse creating a false image by the very act of examination, whereby in a sense the image considered is of a different essence (their category) to what was desired to see.

Looking at the world through a telescope is not only to restrict ones view of the world to focussed light, but also to not be able to see what looking is........ except vicariously, ie when looking through a telescope at somone else looking. And looking into a mirror will not enable us to see what the 'act of seeing' is either. But that does not alter the fact that there is much to learn from looking at looking. Looking at looking potential creates more to look at with greater degrees of intricacy. further, when it comes to pragmatism we do not require perfect knowledge to act usefully.

There is sexual pleasure for many in watching someone else have sex. But the pleasure of the onlooker is not theirs, and vica versa. Any more than the secret knowledge that they know someone is looking can be the voyeurs pleasure either Smile Similarly is the nature of the pleasure in trying to understand the world through
Objectivation......... but it remains a pleasure though.

Objectivation therefore in the widest sense of the word, is the only kind of knowledge available to a being? What Orgeta is offering is a context for that knowledge, what it is not and what it never can be.
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Thu 10 Dec, 2009 06:38 pm
@pagan,
Pagan,

I had quite a time with this. I hope you can follow along. I took your statement/questions and rephrased them according to my understanding of what you were trying to say, with my additions or substitutions in brackets. In some cases I had to split the statement/questions in two. A couple of them at the end I had to just give my reaction, since I felt the contradictions were resolved by my responses to the previous items. Good luck on deciphering my meanings. Just read them as if there were no brackets.

pagan;109297 wrote:
The interaction with that executant becomes what exists (resists) for that I executant. Namely the circumstance of the I executant.

The interaction[s] [of other I executants] with that I executant [determines] what ex[-]ists (resists) for that I executant. Namely the circumstance of th[at] I executant.

Quote:
Thus seeing is primary. It is I executant.

Thus seeing is primary [consciousness, to use Husserl's terminology] . It is [the] I executant [executing the act of seeing].

Quote:
Seeing a reflection in a mirror is ........I executant seeing, and the circumstance of the existing reflection?

Seeing a reflection in a mirror is ........ [the] I executant [executing] seeing, and [the I executant that is executing the seeing is] the circumstance of the ex[-]isting reflection.

Quote:
Thinking is primary. It is I executant.

Thinking is primary [consciousness]. It is [the] I executant [executing the act of thinking].

Quote:
Thinking about visual perception is ..... I executant thinking, and the circumstance of the existing thoughts and their logical relationship (or not) with each other?

Thinking about [the execution by an I executant of an or the act of] visual perception is ..... [the] I executant [executing an act of] thinking, and [the I executant is] the circumstance of the existing thoughts and [also of a thought about] the logical relationship (or not) [of the thoughts] with each other.

Quote:
Reading is primary. It is I executant.

Reading is primary [consciousness]. It is [the] I executant [executing the act of reading].

Quote:
Reading about I executant is ........ I executant reading, and the circumstance of the existing idea that 'I executant' cannot be circumstance, it can only be the circumstantial idea of 'I executant'?

Reading about [an or the] I executant is ........ [the] I executant [executing an act of] reading, and the circumstance of the ex[-]isting [expression of an] idea [in the document about] that 'I executant' [is the] 'I executant' [that is executing the act of reading].

[Note: Reading is a complicated act that involves an I executant seeing the words as they appear in a document and trying to determine or thinking of the (possible) ideas that the author is attempting to express by means of the words in the document, and then (sometimes) thinking other thoughts that may occur to the reader about (or not about) the ideas that the author is attempting to express by means of the words in the document. In this case, the I executant that is doing the reading is the circumstance of the words that appear in the document and of the thoughts that the I executant thinks about the possible ideas of the author or about other ideas that are related to (or not related to) the ideas that the author is attempting to express by means of the words in the document. Whew!]
 
Quote:
Thus ..... the circumstance of the existing idea that 'I executant' cannot be circumstance
is not contradicted by....... the existing idea of 'i executant' as circumstance?

[I think I know what you are trying to get at here, but I think with the above explanation there is no contradiction.]

Quote:
The reason being that the logically correct circumstance of the idea of 'i executant' is the circumstance of the idea that 'I executant' cannot be circumstance? OR to recognise that 'the idea of I executant' is necessarily not the same as 'I executant', just as 'being a frog' is necessarily not the same as the idea of 'frog' or the seeing of a 'frog'.

[Again, I think I know what you are trying to get at here but I'm not sure. Perhaps you could rephrase it in view of the explanations I have given above. Also, what do you mean by 'logically correct circumstance'?]

Quote:
But is the seeing of a frog ...... circumstance or 'i executant' or both?
Quote:
Similarly is the understanding of the 'i executant' and its relationship to circumstance...... circumstance or 'i executant' or both?

Similarly, the [thought about] the 'I executant' and its relationship to [its] circumstance...... [is part of the] circumstance [of the] 'I executant' [that is thinking the thought] and, at the same time, an 'I executant' being executed.

Quote:
Also ........ it would follow that the I executant of seeing and the I executant of correct logical thinking are coincident with the I executant of reading about the I executant correctly.

I, YAI I! They're multiplying. This 'I executant''s head is spinning. I need an 'execusorcist'!

Also ........ it would follow that the 'I executant' of seeing and the 'I executant' of [correct logical?] thinking are [coincident?] with the 'I executant' reading about the 'I executant' [correctly?].

I count four 'I executant's in that sentence. Whether or not the thinking is 'correct' or 'logical' and whether or not the first three 'I executant's are 'coincident' and whether the third [or is it the 'same'? (see below)] 'I executant' is reading about the [fourth?] 'I executant' 'correctly,' is a matter of opinion.

Quote:
Is this the same I executant, or three different I executants together?

Beats me! My 'I executant' will ask them!

[They said that it all depends on what the meaning of 'same' is. As Heraclitus famously said (or might have said): "My 'I executant' can never execute the act of stepping into the 'I executant' of the 'same' river twice (or even once)."]
 
pagan
 
Reply Thu 10 Dec, 2009 07:08 pm
@longknowledge,
thanks longknowledge lol

it was very kind of you to wade through all of that. I have obviously misunderstood ortega's scheme. I will try and be much more confident when asking you in future, which i hope to do. The one that surprised me was .....

Quote:
ortega's scheme is much more naive than i thought it was (not intended in the derogatory sense). as seen by my reply in the "what am i" thread.

my apologies.

and thanks again.
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Thu 10 Dec, 2009 07:20 pm
@longknowledge,
It's my turn to apologize to Deckard and Reconstructo for not responding to their posts on the previous page. I will do so before I continue responding to Pagan's posts, if his 'I executant' will permit me.

Hey, I already responded to you Deckard under your old user name, bavandongen. I withdraw my apology to you, but I welcome any other comments/questions you may have.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Thu 10 Dec, 2009 07:29 pm
@longknowledge,
I look forward to the discussion. This is fertile soil.
 
pagan
 
Reply Thu 10 Dec, 2009 07:37 pm
@Reconstructo,
Smile thanks dudes for your indulgence.

by the way i just realised something

Quote:
But is the seeing of a frog ...... circumstance or 'i executant' or both?


is an ambiguous question! Longknowledge read it with the idea of a frog looking out as compared to my clumsy intention of meaning someone looking at a frog! lolol now longknowledge's reply makes sense....... but even so it surprised me with the atom stuff.

enuff i will shut up! Smile
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Thu 10 Dec, 2009 08:02 pm
@pagan,
pagan;109971 wrote:
lolol


My three 'I executant's send lololol (lots of laughing out loud on line).LaughingLaughingLaughing
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 12:51 am
@longknowledge,
OK, people. Try this one on for size. This is from the same work as the previous long post, Executivity and Objectivation or Consciousness.

[CENTER]Executivity, Objectivation, and Point of View[/CENTER]

Let us suppose a situation, the most favorable to idealism. I, Ortega, see an ichthyosaurus before me. My conviction is that it's there before me. This is the conviction we are going to analyze.

However Fabre, an idealist-and in this case even if he were not-, says that I am suffering an hallucination; that there is no ichthyosaurus there, that there is only a thought of Ortega.

Let us analyze the situation, the fact Ortega. In it there is this: I have an ichthyosaurus before me. There is me and the ichthyosaurus with the world which envelops us both. (Let us now leave out the world, which is irrelevant; one could equally have said: there exists a world with an ichthyosaurus before me.) The conviction contains my existence and that of the ichthyosaurus, both absolutely; I am absolutely convinced that I exist and that the ichthyosaurus exists, neither more nor less the one than the other. Don't ask me why:the why makes no difference; there doesn't even have to be one. Here it's not a matter of whether the conviction is established or not, and the example of the ichthyosaurus symbolizes it and is chosen to underscore it. Whether established or not it's a conviction, and what interests us now is this: to see what is happening within it.

In the conviction, I repeat, there exists absolutely I and the ichthyosaurus. In it I encounter no thought whatever, there is nothing but the absolute existence of the ichthyosaurus and of me.

This I, which fears the ichthyosaurus and flees it, is not the I of idealism and of cognition; it is not the I that thinks and knows-and only that-, but rather the one made of flesh and blood and many other materials, "the one that my friends usually call" Ortega. It is the I to which a savage or the man in the street would refer. What that I is, its rigorous definition, would cost us some sweat [to determine] but in my conviction it is not about defining myself but rather about a simple and absolute finding myself, or finding that Ifacing the ichthyosaurus. Neither do I "know" what the ichthyosaurus is (definition), nor does the "brag[gard]" know-definitively-what the bull he flees from is. He is only certain that what is thus called is there with immediate consequences for him.

Let us now observe what is happening according to Fabre [the idealist]. A conviction, neither more nor less than mine, but with another content. Rigorously [speaking], [there are] two convictions [occurring] in succession: one negative, that the ichthyosaurus does not exist. And another, which is the one that matters to us, positive: that the thought of Ortega exists; or equivalently, that the ichthyosaurus thought about exists.

Let us simplify: [Let O, I, R, F, and T stand for Ortega, the Ichthyosaurus, Real, Fabre, and Thought, respectively.[1]] Ortega [O] has the Conviction that the ichthyosaurus [I] is Real [IR]; Fabre [F] has the Conviction that the ichthyosaurus [I] is a Thought [T] of Ortega (IT).

What exists for F is not IR but O -who is thinking I; or I as thought by O-that is-IT. How has that substantial change of I been produced? Very simply. I is IR as seen from O; or as seen from O's conviction insofar as the latter acts as such, or as it is executed by me. I call executing something, "living it." On the other hand, F does not execute or live my conviction but rather, what is as different from that as it can be: namely, he contemplates it, he makes it his object. And so it occurs that both O and F are right: I exists absolutely for me who is living the said conviction; I does not exist as R but rather exists absolutely as T for F; F also lives his conviction executively, the object of which is my conviction, and by being [for him] an object and only an object he regards, values, and qualifies it, that is to say, he objectivates it as T. But that my T exists is also an absolute positing for him.

(The case that later F comes to think that my T, in turn, is nothing but a T of his own, is the idealistic thesis, but this is another conviction, of a different content, but identical as a conviction.)

We thus arrive at an observation of arch-importance: that executivity is a point of view-let me call it that now- distinct from objectification. To objectivate something or to see it as an object, we have to not "see it" executively.

Let us set aside the difficulty that is offered by this twofold employment of the word "see;" later you will see what formidable novelty lies behind it.[2]

That notwithstanding, how is it that you have understood at some point what I was for me, if I only is IR when I live executively my conviction? It is very simple: because, instead of being content with the simple contemplation -looking at something from the point of view of each one of you- you have used a fictive -do not take the word pejoratively- or complex mode of contemplation. In other words, instead of seeing what you are seeing, that there is no I, you have feigned the abandonment of your points of view and translated yourselves to mine, that is to say, to the object I am. And since, like you, I am a living [person], it so happens that the object O [Ortega] itself has within it a point of view, it is [a] point of view because it is an executor, and executiveness is and implies a point of view.

[Translated by longknowledge from (Madrid: Revista de Occidente in Alianza Editorial, 1984), , pp. 36-38. Compare: What is Knowledge? I," Ichthyosaurus, and the "I," My Self.

[2]. JD: Compare this employment of the word "see" with my use of it in the anecdote in the next post.

Comments welcome!

Next post: My "Point of View" - An Anecdote
 
pagan
 
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 11:40 am
@longknowledge,
Quote:
To objectivate something or to see it as an object, we have to not "see it" executively.
does it follow that

"to not "see it" executively, we have objectivated something or seen it as an object"?
 
 

 
  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » José Ortega y Gasset
  3. » "I" as Executant
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 06/27/2022 at 05:05:14