Sunday, October 19, 2008

P.1 What is Science / "The Nothing"

Generally when I have a question in my mind of what something is and I can’t figure it out, I try to think of what it’s opposite may be. A simple definition of science is, “knowledge attained through study or practice”. Of course science itself comes from the Latin “scientia”, meaning knowledge. To put the definition another way we can say that science is the verb sense of cognition, where cognition is, “the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning”; so again science is merely the act of cognition.

In this way, formal scientific method aside, science takes place all the time in happenings and occurrences of our everyday lives; we are always (arguably) cognizant. So the question in my mind at this point is not about what the nature of this process is, but rather just what it is we’re cognizant about; what is it that we perceive and why do we perceive it. More importantly I have on my mind (relative to thinking about opposites), if what we perceive is simply what we call the objective world, then what isn’t the objective world? What is the “NOTHING”?

This morning I took some inspiration from Hume’s famous thought experiment of imagining an individual born without any senses. When this individual becomes, say, 18, does he/she have a thought in they’re minds? Now of course I’m not concerned with exactly that question as I’m not a big fan of radical empiricism, but simply a variation of that theme to get my thinking off the ground.

1.) To start, lets suppose you’re staring at a wall. The wall itself is painted white from top to bottom, there isn’t anything hanging on it, there are no windows; it’s all vary unassuming. The first reaction to what it is you’re looking at (having been asked the question regarding it) would perhaps be to say, “I’m looking at a wall… It’s white.” Relative to everything else in life an individual is cognizant of, that’s about as much you could expect anyone to say about it at any given moment in time. There just isn’t anything else there but a white wall; detail beyond that case excapes you, or simply never enters your mind to begin with.

2.) OK, lets then suppose you take those four white walls and wrap them in on themselves so what you now have is a white room. Then suppose one is placed in the room for an extended period of time, perhaps weeks, months, years. After the person leaves the room he’s then asked about the walls. I’ll here imagine a much more cognizant response where is revealed a kaleidoscope of different shades and colors, different textures, bumps, ridges, entire ranges and canyons of character.
(On the other hand, perhaps the man goes nuts and has nothing at all to say, but lets not ruin the thought experiment hu)

So did the individual in “1” miss all the detail from “2”? Or was it just not there? Was all that detail there all along? Someone from an absolute state of mind might like to argue that the detail was there all along, person “1” simply wasn’t perceptive to it, wasn’t cognizant of the finer details pointed to in "2". However, whether or not the detail can be said to have been there after the fact is utterly meaningless and speaks nothing to the original experience of “1”. All one is saying in this instance is, “it was there 1, you just missed it.”, even though “1” was looking right at it.

My argument is that, in the case of “1”, those details were not there at all. The mind of “1” was cognizant of white, and of wall, that’s it. The rest of what he say was simply pre-intellectualized nothing. Where perception isn’t taking place, where reason hasn’t defined and proposed, nothing at all exists. Again, nothing in this case is pre-intellectualized reality. To make the argument that such a state of affairs always existed begs the question and is nothing more then a belief. The given state of affairs that you’re referring to exists in your mind now (that you’ve perceived it) however it is not a state of affairs that existed in the mind prior to that perception. What we know as truth and reality exists in knowledge and in knowledge only. Prior to those truths which represent our knowledge, those truths did not exist.

Consider my post on Absolute truth vs. System truth.

Consider this here from Pirsig.

So once again, this is important; “The Nothing”, is nothing more then pre-intellectualized reality. Where intellectualized here, is simply another word for cognition, perception and the use of reason. One can look, yet not perceive. Consider that reality doesn’t come at one pieced or parted, it doesn’t come at one pre-differentiated. It is reason which differentiates it, our speech which parts the whole into nouns and things which we consider separate from each other. However, that we consider things in this manner (subjects and objects) doesn’t necessarily imply that the world is so parted in the ways we part it, only that we reason on it in ways we find useful to our purposes.

NOTHING: Pre-intellectualized, undifferentiated reality.

Some thoughts/questions to myself:
1.) Can God be undifferentiated?
2.) Is our perception of God, nothing more then a continual awareness of undifferentiated reality?
3.) Buddhist meditation is another way of experiencing this un-differentiation.
4.) I don’t want to claim pantheism. Pantheism has been differentiated.
5.) Religion seems to rationalize about God. There is a flaw in this.
6.) Science says there isn’t a God (essentially) because (in the vary least) the idea of God cannot be differentiated or reconciled with the rest of what science assumes.
7.) Science is the art of differentiation.
8.) I think it would be agreed to that there are truths yet to be discover. We don’t know what they are, they don’t exist.
9.) I'm aware that this sounds like, "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to here it, does it make a sound?" But that's a far cry from what I'm suggesting; nonetheless I have to address that.

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