Summa Mundi: A work in progress

Sorry for the long absence from posting, I have been working on a summary of my various philosophical positions to date, which is a much more complicated undertaking than it seemed at first grasp. Being that work is chronically unfinished though, I will not post it here as of yet (I doubt any of you have a taste for 10 pages of unconnected, and unfinished notes), but this space definitely needs to be filled, or at least updated. Its sad how our projects demand our attention when we neglect them. I will try to summarize some of my findings from the last month's project though, borrowing heavily from the aforementioned notes.

The primary idea I'm developing right now is a tripartite view of the world as experience. The groundwork of what we experience as existence is based within these three interrelated stages, by this I mean they exist as the basis of our actions upon them, they both inform and structure our existence (as action). As of now these worlds are bordering on pure ad hoc, they are place holders to help place the other ideas within a defining context. These worlds exist as a weakened version of what Nelson Goodman presented in "Ways of Worldmaking"

The first of these worlds is what I term the External, as in it is the world that exists prior to experience. It is the basis (or bedrock) for all experience, and all subsequent worlds of experience. This is world that most people mean when they use the term. Some of the features of this world are:

  • It is not subject to privileged experience (it is not "Given").
  • It is only knowable as surface phenomena
  • It exists as a series of external facts, or data points.
  • Connections between events exist as interpretations via several possible contexts.
  • Each external event has a penumbra of meaning, which is shaped by context.
  • Experience of this world can be said to be infinitely recursive.
  • There are various scales, each with explanatory power.

The general (and informal) gist of these features is that definitions of events in the External recede, and are fuzzy, with no end certainty of definite knowledge possible, each feature implies another, ad infinitum. All knowledge from this world is based upon the connection of events attributed within it, and is thus further abstracted from this world it-self (it is a Kantian thing-in-itself).

The second, and more immediate world is the Internal world that we inhabit from day to day. While not completely objective, this world is more real than any other world, in that this is the world in which we exist in, and base our understanding of other levels of reality from. This world is informed by the External, as well as by the Social worlds, and by other individuals. Some features of this world are:

  • It is largely phenomenological in.
  • This world is informed by the external world.
  • It consists of all of our perceptual apparatus, and subjective experience, and that we take to be given.
  • This world provides the primary structure for understanding and knowledge.

This world can be seen (and grossly simplified) as an interpretation layer to existence, it lends meaning and context to the data from the External (and observations of Self, etc...), in this it can be said the the basis of the Internal world is mainly hermeneutic (rather than, say, epistemological).

The third world is the Social, or Communal world. This world is the communal synthesis of the collection of individual worlds, and can be seen as the interpretation layer of these. This world serves to synthesize and re-normalize experience and knowledge from the Individual with that of the group. There is no single Social world, nor can it be reduced to any fixed number. Each group can be said to be a portion of the social world, in that all groups interface in same way or not. This world might be analogous to the modern concept of a network. This world informs and is informed by the Individual, and serves to create the bounds of the individual, and defines the range of possible knowledge and action. It, perhaps, also in-part creates the individual, himself by function of Foucaultian Power.

The Social is also the realm in which more advanced forms of human knowledge happens, such as science and philosophy. This is where the (anti)epistemology of Rorty also comes to play, with knowledge being largely social, and also the scientific paradigms of Kuhn (and the epistemes of Foucault). This world also functions to define the relationship between the Individual and External. Of the three worlds, the Social is the one that I have spent less work on, so please forgive the vagueness (more so than the previous two, that is).

Another thing I am trying to rectify with the above is a general theory of aesthetics, which right now is very vague, and mostly springs from a conversation (via email) with David Titterington (prompted by this blog post). I really can't update the status of aesthetics yet, since it is right now a sketch of a theory, and lacks much coherence. It does seem to be a function of time, and is a valid way of knowing and expressing the world. I'm leaning towards the idea that art (as poetry, music, and visual) is as good a method of representation as science, and isn't seen as such only as a function of anglophone society, and its emphasis on knowledge (as hypothetico-deductive-method, and logical reduction), and not because of any weakness of art. That said, art makes bad science, and science bad art, they are not exchangeable, but both highlight aspects of existence in different lights and contexts. Art can be seen as context free abstraction. The realms of ethics is as yet untouched.

The end result of this philosophy can be summed up in this overly pompous and poetic statement: "We are the architects of the world".

I'm sorry for the rough feel of this post, as I warned at the beginning, this is very much a work in progress, and I only submit it here for comment, and not to present any grand point, or illumination.

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