An Essay Featured In (Re)constructing “A is A” by O.G. Rose

On Is-ness/Meaning

O.G. Rose
11 min readApr 28, 2021

A Precursor to “On ‘A is A’ ”

Photo by Kiarash Mansouri

What a thing “is” cannot be separated from what a thing “means,” as two sides of a coin are inseparable and yet distinct.¹ A given cup is ultimately a collection of “atomic facts.”² Therefore, a cup isn’t a “cup”: what a cup is isn’t what it “is” (to us). To humans, the is-ness of a cup cannot be understood; therefore, when humans speak of is-ness, they speak of what a thing “is” (to them). In other words, what a thing “is” is what a thing “means.”

To use language from “On Thinking and Perceiving” by O.G. Rose, is-ness is perceived while “is-ness”/meaning is thought (generally, for this work, it’s good enough to know that perception is our experience or “taking in” of the world around us, independent of thought). Yes, “is-ness” can perhaps be “like” is-ness (an uncrossable “ontological gap” isn’t inescapable, as outlined in many of the papers by O.G. Rose), but it would be erroneous to treat the two as necessarily identical. A dialectical is needed, but that has been discussed elsewhere with the topic of “meaningful memories” and “pure experiences.”


There is no “cup” for atoms, only “atomic facts”: “cup” is an unnecessary superstructure.³ Yet atoms are fundamentally quarks, and so “atoms” would be an unnecessary superstructure relative to quarks — who knows how far we could go?

If we were a being existing on the level of “M-theory strings,” would we experience “reality?” Perhaps only if we define “reality” as “its smallest parts,” but on what grounds could we justify that position? No, a “string-sized being” still couldn’t experience “is-ness” as is-ness rather than as “meaning,” and this is because though such a being could experience “string¹ as string¹,” for example, the being would not experience what string¹ was “part of.” String¹ would be “part of” a quark, and that quark would be “part of” an atom, and that atom would be “part of” a cup, and that cup is “part of” a kitchen, which would be “part of” a house…a neighborhood…country…planet…etc.⁴

To cut to the chase, unless perhaps we’re God, it’s not possible to discuss any entity, on any level of reality, without “pointing to” either something “lower” or “higher” than itself (perhaps external to it or in its own composition). In thought, all things “point to” that which a given thing “isn’t” (B) and that which it “is” (A), which means it is impossible to ever discuss what a thing “is” independent of some “pointing to.”

In a sense, a “cup” doesn’t have is-ness at all, but rather the sum does of structures and phenomena which constitutes “cup.” A string¹/quark/atom/cup/kitchen/house/neighborhood/planet/etc. has is-ness (which only God can know), but not one (set) of these entities does unto itself. In other words, that with is-ness is that which doesn’t “point to” anything: it (just) is (and ultimately that might only be God). Unfortunately, for us at least, is-ness is not fully comprehendible.

The distinction between “thinking” and “perceiving” in mind, though perception is not “incomplete” like thinking must be, perception is still “limited” insomuch I can’t see beyond my range of sight (for example). Considering this, even pure perception entails a kind of “pointing to” what is beyond its limits, for the very facticity of limitation “suggests” there is “something more” — it’s just that this “pointing of perception” must be “meaningless” without thought (the adding of which, as already established, adds “pointing”).


A given thing is (a synthesis of) “string(s)-quarks(s)-atom(s)-color(s)-(frames of spacetime)-dimension(s)-etc.”: no entity exists in a vacuum. Hence, any “naming” or “conceptualization” of an entity (say into an “A is A”) will entail a “pulling it out” of that which the given thing is “of” into terms which the “namer” or thinker can fathom and conceptualize. To comprehend is to abstract.

To name a “zebra” is to “pull it out of” the “string(s)-quark(s)…genus-family-kingdom…place in the universe…fabric of reality, etc.” into a particularity that it otherwise exceeds. To name a child “Daniel” is to “pull him out of” his atoms-flesh-etc. into an identity that gives the child a “place in” the reality of the “namer”/observer/thinker.

To say that “Daniel is Daniel” is to say, “A is A,” but the “is-ness” of this given “A” has been defined in terms of the observer and/or “namer.” This isn’t to say that “Daniel isn’t Daniel,” but that “Daniel isn’t Daniel” unto is-ness, though “Daniel is Daniel” unto “is-ness.” Hence, in sum, “Daniel is Daniel” and “Daniel isn’t Daniel.”⁵ Daniel is a “both-ness.” There is the “self” as Daniel identifies himself and is identified by others, and there is also the self of “string(s)-quark(s)-atom(s)-organs-etc.” All that can be conceptualized is the first “self,” but that doesn’t mean the second doesn’t exist.

Relative to (Daniel’s) atoms, “Daniel” is able to “pull out” and “press down” an identity upon them that is “Daniel” and that they are not.⁶ In other words, “Daniel” is able to “pull out” and “press down upon” an “A” that which “isn’t A.” Though “A is A” (“atom¹ is atom¹”), this “A” is also forced to signify that which it isn’t, for “Daniel” “presses down upon” a collection of atoms an “A” which that collection isn’t. Consequently, “atom(s)1 + 2 +3 +4…50 is/are atom(s)1 + 2 +3 +4…50” (a given “A is A”) is forced to signify “Daniel,” a completely valid “A” relative to Daniel and others of the same dimensionality, yet arguably an invalid “A” relative to (that given collection of) atoms (and the collection of quarks, strings, etc.).

Furthermore, “Daniel,” the “A” given to a given collection of “atoms-organs-bones, etc.” by Daniel’s proud parents, is completely invalid to creatures like dogs, zebras, trees, buildings, etc., though it is utterly valid to his parents. To such creatures, terms like “zebra” are even invalid (for humans to think is to make the world “toward” them in terms of their dimensionality). To the creature that “is” a “zebra,” “zebra is zebra” (“A is A”) would be incomplete at best. For said creature, it “is” the experiences it undergoes and its ways of grasping those experiences. As if out of “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges, it would perhaps be closer to claim that “(running-eating-sleeping-etc.) is (running-eating-sleeping-etc.)” (“A is A”) to a zebra than it would be to claim, “zebra is zebra” (“A is A”).

Hence, though it is true that “A is A,” what “A” signifies is relative to the entity who is claiming and/or experiencing “A is A.”


To sit in a room and observe a cup, a painting, a wall, and a person is to unify these particular and unrelated phenomena into an “A” (which changes into a different “A” the moment a new shadow flickers through the window or a particle of dust dances across the floor). This unifying act is the act of claiming (without saying a word) that “scene¹ is scene¹” (“A is A”). Yet “cup isn’t painting” and “painting isn’t person” (rather, “cup is cup,” “painting is painting,” etc.). Hence, to sit in a room is to unify many “A is A(s)” into a new “A is A.” Yet, relative to each particular “A is A,” this new “A is A” doesn’t exist. Yet each particular “A is A” is invalid relative to “atomic facts”: “cup is cup” is invalid and nonexistent relative to “atom¹ is atom¹.”

“Cup is cup” is a valid “A is A,” and yet it isn’t. It is both invalid and valid (“invalid/valid,” I suppose). Whether a given entity considers a given “invalid/valid” as valid or invalid will be relative to the entity’s dimensionality. This consideration though, does not change the fact that, in sum, the given entity is “(in)valid.” To deem it only “valid” or “invalid” would be to tear apart what cannot be split. It would be to act “invalidly,” but a being, having dimensionality, cannot help but do so if the being is to comprehend.

What a given entity believes constitutes a valid “A” is relative to what constitutes that entity. Hence, the “is-ness” an entity prescribes upon another is a reflection of what that thing “means” to the prescribing entity. This holds true even for (“defined”) words in a dictionary, for the meaning of the word “cat” is sensible and coherent to humans.

If I was holding an object and you asked me “What’s that?” quickly, I would not answer “a collection of atomic facts” or “a “(atom¹ = atom¹)/atom²/atom³, etc.’ ”; rather, I would tell you “a cup.” In doing so, I “press down” upon the atoms “cup is cup” (“A is A”), and so make that what the phenomenon “is.” Yet this “is” is just what the thing “is” or “means” (to me).

If you ask me “What’s that?” suddenly, my answer will reflect my dimensionality (and be colored by my experiences, preset complexes, etc.), and so the “A” I relay to you will be relative and/or conditional. I will not naturally relay to you its location within eleven dimensions of spacetime, atomic facts, history, economics, etc.; rather, I will naturally tell you “a cup” or “my cup.” A given person doesn’t naturally experience given “A(s)” in any other way than how the given person relates to and experiences them. I will relate to my cup as “my cup,” not as “a product from Walmart made of atoms.” Yet moments before I purchased said cup at Walmart, I could not “press down upon it” the “A” of “my cup,” even though, moments later, that “A” and “pressing down” would be valid. Relative to the moment before the purchase, the cup was an “A is A” that “wasn’t” the “A is A” which would define the cup moments later.⁷

Hence, the construct of “A is A,” and which such constructs a given observer believes are valid, is relative to the observer’s spacetime. Likewise, the “A is A” I relay to you will be relative to what is “natural” to me, though that doesn’t mean that identification is more valid than the identification of “a collection of atomic facts that was, relative to ten days ago, not ‘my cup’ but rather ‘a cup’ in Walmart.” Both are equally true.


No entity can define a thing apart in thought from what the thing “means” to the entity, regardless of its dimensionality. For an atom to consider another atom as “not part of a cat,” and for a person to consider a cat as “made of invisible atoms,” are both instances in which an observer defines what a thing “is” relative to the nature of the observer.⁸ Furthermore, an observer decides which phenomena even have the potential of receiving “meaning,” for an observer decides what constitutes a valid “A,” even though all such constructs are “(in)valid.”

A thing “is” what a thing “means.”⁹

Things are thought into “is-ness/meaning,” which means we must revisit The Philosopher.





¹As meaning cannot be separated from “meaning.”

²Allusion to Ludwig Wittgenstein.

³Of the same kind as is God to humans, according to Nietzsche.

⁴A being can only see “through a glass darkly,” it seems.

⁵Or “(Daniel ≠ Daniel) = (Daniel ≠ Daniel)”: “A = A” and “(A ≠ A) = (A ≠ A).”

⁶Perhaps God does this to people.

⁷Note that “my cup” is an “A” different from the “A” that is “cup.” The purchasing of the cup, and the addition of the quality “my,” defines the object “out of” “cup” into “my cup.” The object is given a particularity it would otherwise not have had, hence making it into a different kind of “A” from the “A” it was moments before the purchase.

Also note that the word ‘my’ is an “A” and the word “cup” is an “A,” so the statement “my cup” signifies “(A is A) + (A is A),” and yet also signifies a whole of “my cup” which constitutes an additional level of “A is A.” Hence, just the statement “my cup” signifies three distinct “A is A”-constructs, none of which “equal” the other and yet cannot “be” without the other. Hence, in sum, “my cup” is a “(‘A is A’ + ‘A is A’)/(A is A).” This “decoding,” if used on a longer statement, could take up a whole page; if used on the total sum of communication happening on the planet right now, it would fill every library.

⁸If one atom told another that they were part of a cat, the other atom may tell him to stop evangelizing, that he was an “acat.”

⁹And to “read” is to make things “mean.” “Reading” is constant.





1. 3/4 dimensional beings do not “flux” between 3/4 dimensions and 1/2; therefore formal identity, relative to dimensionality, is constant. Yet, identity “fluxes” between entities of different dimensionalities. Each dimension is a “mode of being,” and each is just as valid as the other. None are less real or more real, for each requires one another to “be.” Hence, “A is A” is as valid as “(A isn’t A) is (A isn’t A).” Both contain and require the other.

2. Relative to a given atom which makes up a cup, the “cup” is a “B” while the atom is an “A.” Since the atom never experiences “cup,” this “cup” is what the atom is “without.” Hence, the total fabric of reality for the atom is “A is A (without B)” (as will be expounded upon).

2.1 Keep in mind that a given “A is A” is different from another “A is A” and is “B” relative to a different “A is A.” Hence, the total reality of a given “A is A” is an “A is A (without B).”

3. To ask, “What is that?” upon hearing the purring of a cat behind a door is perhaps as mystifying as asking, “What does Faulkner mean?”

4. An individual can think a different “meaning” onto a thing at any moment, instantly transforming what it “is” into another “is-ness.” In this sense, being is liquid.

5. To look at a picture and say, “It’s of a cat and a dog” is to transposition the picture into words. It is also the case that “ ‘the picture’ isn’t ‘a picture of a cat and dog,’ ” “ ‘the picture’ is ‘the picture.’ ” To describe, therefore, is to lie. All acts of being are truthfully deceptive.

6. To conceptualize a cup is to “read” atoms “up” and eleven dimensions “down” into a “cup.” Furthermore, we “read” atoms “up” and higher dimensions “down” into ourselves. We transposition “up” and “down” simultaneously, splitting us, marrying irony.

7. To allude to “On Thinking and Perceiving” by O.G. Rose, when one perceives rather than thinks, a being opens his or her self up to the wholeness of a phenomenon, rather than just a part (even though the being cannot conceptualize such to be the case).

8. “Is-ness” and “meaning” are indivisible. As meaning is indivisible from “meaning,” so is-ness is indivisible from “is-ness.” Is-ness cannot be conceptualized, though that doesn’t mean it cannot be experienced or perceived at all. Therefore, all conceptualizations or discussions about is-ness will actually be about “is-ness,” though the given individual may think otherwise.

9. Metaphysics is necessary because what constitutes a given “A” of a given “A is A” is relative, because scopes vary. What constitutes “B” is also relative.

10. In a similar line of thought, perhaps it could be said that “Beethoven’s 9th is the truth of the facts of its notes,” as I am the truth of the facts of my parts, etc. Likewise, Beethoven’s 9th is a fact of the truth of music in general, and so on — truths seem to consist of facts as facts seemingly “point toward” a truth. What constitutes the “truth” of x is relative to the dimension of x and its facts, but is there “ultimately” a truth? Relative to God, perhaps God is a fact more than truth, but relative to us, God is a truth. Considering this, perhaps it could be said that “truth is dimensionally relative?” If so, in a sense, the word “truth” isn’t needed, just the word “facts,” but seeing as we are always dimensionally situated (and not God), the word “truth” seems valid and necessary — inescapable, even.

11. As mathematics can never be axiomatic (as realized by Gödel), seeing as what constitutes “A” is relative, thinking can never be axiomatic: “autonomous rationality” is impossible.




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O.G. Rose

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