An attempt at philosophical writing ...

General philosophy discussions. If you are not sure where to place your thread, please post it here. Share favorite quotes, discuss philosophers, and other topics.

An attempt at philosophical writing ...

Postby BadgerJelly on June 8th, 2017, 3:59 am 

BELOW is the beginning of something I am writing that will be either part of a collection of essays or part of a whole book dedicated to my thoughts on a variety of philosophical subjects I find most engaged by.

I am not, at the moment, really looking for criticism of what I am saying (because this is a snippet meant as an introduction to what I will be looking at), but for criticism of the style, structure and presentation of what I am saying. I am aware that I tend to order my thoughts on paper in a manner that many find obtuse (and I myself once I've let the words sit for a while and then come back to them).

Also, I am planning to use quotes and/or references to other philosophers. I am attempting to write something that stands alone yet assumes some minimal knowledge of philosophical works and the way in which they are presented. It is my presentation which is both the theme and the concern of this thread.

Thank you in advance for your time.

note: if you are willing please state if you are familiar with reading and studying philosophical works. I don't want to write purely for those who have an understanding of philosophical works, but I accept that those that have dedicated time to reading philosophical works (in full) will more readily accept the style and intricacies involved and the often pedantic stubbornness of philosophical writers.

SUBJECTS : The Experience of Experiencing
(note: The title “SUBJECTS” is a purposeful play on the various ways in which this term may be construed. Don't pay particular attention to the title because I really don't know where this essay will eventually lead me and at the moment cannot think of one that encompasses what I wish to look at)

In this essay I will be exploring what is meant by ‘knowledge’, ‘experience’, ‘existence’ and ‘truth’, and, of course, what is meant by ‘meaning’ as well as offering my generlal views on ontology and epistemology as best I can.

There are numerous pitfalls on this journey some of which I will wittingly follow for the purpose of showing the intricacies of language and how we appreciate the world we live in and express this appreciation through language.

I will start at the start. Right here we find ourselves asking directly “What start?”, and/or, “Where is the beginning?” This is how we express ourselves. We take some experience and translate it into a sequence in order to be understood by others. When I see a large, black book on a yellow table I order these articles of information in a particular sequence. I do not say “table book black yellow on large”, my experience has no regard for sequence, it is not piece-meal. Yet my verbal thought and communicative capacities require me to create a sense of sequence and order, to create a ‘start’ that fits into the rules of a particular grammar, to be understood by others - but experience remains ‘whole’ (eidectic). We, of course, may very well possess a term that means “A large black book on a yellow table”, let us say this term is “babyot”, so when I say “babyot” to someone they know what is meant. Just like if I say “table” you don’t say “What does that mean?”, nor would you say “What does babyot mean?” if you understood it as stated above.

For ease of communication it is impractical to have a term for every singular experience, yet we still experience how we experience regardless of precisely how we communicate said experience (we can though maybe question the effect of the communicative process, and its grammar, on further experience.) We cannot really imagine describing a book without referring to its contents, its cover, its size, or its colour. We require adjectives understood in a singular fashion not having countless terms in our lexicon such as “babyot” to replace these more specific descriptions of colour, size and various other magnitutes and such.

Consider a painting in this sense of grammatical order and sequence. We do not look at a painting and search for the ‘start’ of the painting, although we may be driven to explore its possible intention and from there declare a meaning. We may even be drawn to focus on certain areas of the painting, but we would never state that any particular location of the painting is the “beginning” of the painting. Such a proclaimation would be quite absurd to us, but do we not in day-to-day life often find ourselves captured by such absurdities from time to time? The base description of each person viewing the painting though will on occasion concur (eg. “It is a picture of a ship sailing across a sea.”) Descriptive words are just the communication of an experience exactly like the large, black book on the yellow table. The diffeence being that I mean “babyot” in the same sense as I would use any other adjective and could say “large babyot”, “dark babyot”, etc.
As an individual (to be precise, an individual, known as indivdual in relation to the idea of community) I (to be precise, “I”, known as I in relation to the idea of “other”) experience ostensively. Now I have to be very careful with what I mean by “ostensive” and exactly how I wish you the reader to interpret this. Ostensive is generally understood to mean ‘to point out’ something. I point at the large black book and say “book”, or of course I may say “black” or even “large”. Here we see the problem of misunderstanding in communication within a community of experiencing people. What I wish to have you consider is the “I”, the “individual”, in isolation from the dichotic ideas associated with an experiencing community of indivduals. By this I am pointing out to the reader that we do not, as individuals, physically ‘point at’ some object of experience and say ‘book’. I do not experience a sequence of “large”, “black” and then “book”, obviously. But is this so obvious in the manner in which we communicate? I would suggest that because of this we are somewhat susceptible, upon occasion, to lead ourselves away from our own experience and perhaps to view experience merely as expression of experience due to our communal day-to-day life as an individual among others. We are afterall defined as the “I” among others not some isolated entity.
All our communication is effectively ostensive (a “pointing out” of this or that). With this it is easy to see that the experience we possess is never fully given over to anyone else. The interesting thing here is that although this is clearly the case we manage to find away to agree upon certain aspects of our experience and from there build upon with aspects make declarations about our world. When I say “chair” nobody asks “What is this ‘chair’ you are talking of?”, we accept it as an experience we can all relate to - “relate to” being the important point here because we quite obviously do not own each others experience. What we do is come to both learn and agree upon the relational contexts of terms in language. A baby learns what “water” means by coming to understand where the term is used and in what relation it is used; such as near the kitchen sink, in the bathroom, outside when it rains, mentioned when thirsty/drinking. The term “water” is a whole lot more than simply some combination of hydrogen and oxygen.

In contrast to this I would not say that I experience in this “ostensive” way. I do not make a declaration to myself about this or that. With verbal thought it can appear that we do experience in an ostensive manner because focus shifts from here to there because that is the way we are conditioned to express it to others in a sequential language, we may begin to believe we experience the “black” before the “book” or the “book” before the “black”, because the only other option is for us to say we experience these in synchrony. I argue that all of the above, including “synchrony”, are out of context with regard to experience (this I will attempt to come back to in more depth if I can further into this essay).

To return to my orinigal phrase that took us down this path … As an individual I experience ostensively. I have a need to create a certain term here to distinguish from what we commonly understand as ostensive. So I will instead say as an individual I experience without pointing anything out to the other of myself. There is no communication of me with myself because I am a singular, individual “I”. To say I point something out to myself is quite a silly thing to say.

So I hope you see, that according to the above, it makes no sense to say “I experience ostensively”. Here is where we notice how easy we can fall into absurdity due to the sequential nature of language and how its grammar impacts on how we explain the world to each other and how this manner of explaining can falsely be drawn back in upon itself to refer to an incomplete expression of an experience to another. Here we see that the best means of communication is often taken as a truth above the actual experience in its immediacy for the individual … from here then we find ourselves turning back in on ourselves and questioning the reliability of expression. And AGAIN a stumbling block. Can we talk about “questioning the reliability of expression”? Surely expression is expression and the reliability is a product of communication. I cannot bring into question the experience, I simply hold the experience immediately and then express it to another. It is clear here that the expression of the experience is a reflection of the experience not the experience itself. The reliablility of the expression would depend upon the intricacies of the expressions used to communicate the immediate experience to another. If I say “It was black”, this expression is understood and relatable to the other persons experience (given that they are able to experience different tones and colours).
User avatar
Resident Member
Posts: 5430
Joined: 14 Mar 2012

Return to Anything Philosophy

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests