Thinking and perceiving are not the same. If I look at a window and think about my grandmother, I perceive the window, but I do not think about it. However, the moment I stop daydreaming and realize ‘the window is dirty’, I am now both perceiving and thinking about the window. Perceiving is ‘processing through body’, while thinking is ‘processing through mind’. ‘Mind’ and ‘body’ are unified when I both perceive and think about the window, but the ‘mind’ and ‘body’ are separate when I perceive the window and think about my grandmother. When what I am thinking about and what I perceive match, mind and body (or brain) are one, though they are apart otherwise. When I perceive the window and think about the window, I am not ‘dualistic’; when I perceive the window and think about grandmother, ‘dualism’, in a sense, is true. The human shifts in and out of being Cartesian.
It’s not the eyes, nose, hands, ears, or tongue that perceive, but the brain ‘through’ them, as it is isn’t the tires, axles, etc. that make a car run, but the engine ‘through’ these parts. Though, without a windshield, it would be hard to drive the car well, even if it had an engine. Likewise, one can still perceive without senses, just not well. However, if the engine in a car gives out, the whole thing breaks down, even though the tires and other parts of the car may work just fine. Likewise, if one’s brain is destroyed, all their senses give out, even if their nose, eyes, hands, etc. remain undamaged. If perception came from the senses, rather than the brain, a body would smell even after it died. That said, one can be born blind and learn to adapt. Likewise, if there were no tires, a car could be invented that worked like a hovercraft. However, no matter how a car is reinvented to deal with the changing of the times, cars will always need some kind of power source, as a human, no matter how sensually capable or incapable, will always need a functioning brain. Though the characteristics may vary, there will never be a car or human entirely without a source of animation.
All animals perceive, but not all animals may think. The human can perceive and think, and separate his or her thinking from perception at will. In the moment a human perceives without thinking, a human is no different than an animal; when what a human perceives and thinks about matches, a human is hard to define from an animal. A human becomes distinct from other creatures when his or her perception and thinking do not cross. In other words, a human doesn’t always have a mind. If ‘soul’ and ‘mind’ are terms used as similes, one could say a human only has a soul when he or she thinks.
The mind causes thinking as the brain causes perception, yet the brain also causes the mind. All animals have brains, but not all animals may have minds. However, a human doesn’t always have a mind like he or she always has a brain. A human is a ‘mind and brain’ (or ‘mind and body’) when thinking and perception don’t cross, a human is a ‘mind/body’ when perception and thinking merge, and a human is a ‘body’ when he or she perceives without thinking. A person is constantly an animal, but sometimes also human. A human is most human when thinking and perception are distinct. Considering this, a human isn’t always human. Sometimes, a human is just an animal. However, a human is always deserving of being treated ‘humanely’, for a human, even when ‘just an animal’, can always (re)enter into ‘human-ness’. An animal though can never will ‘human-ness’, and in this sense humans are distinct from animals, though humans can be ‘just animals’. Animals, hence, are not deserving of being treated ‘humanely’; rather, animals are deserving of being treated ‘respectfully’. This is not to say animals are to be abused, but to say animals should not be treated like humans and vice-versa. In other words, a lion should not be charged with murder for eating a zebra, while a human should be charged for cannibalizing a neighbor.
‘Eat food’ could be a perception, a thought, or both. Driven by the body, a person can eat food without thinking about it. A creature doesn’t need to think ‘eat food’; rather, a creature can just ‘do it’. This is called an ‘instinct’ or ‘appetite’, and there are many more actions that creatures can do without thinking where perception is enough. It is easy to confuse instincts with thinking, and it’s hard to imagine action without thought (for that act would be to consider non-thought through the lens of thinking). However, the difficulty is alleviated once the distinction between thinking and perception is fully grasped.
Perception and thought are like two streams that cross and merge every now and then before going their own ways and crossing again elsewhere. If I am looking at a window and thinking about my grandmother, I am a human. If I am looking at a window and thinking about the window, I cannot easily be defined apart from an animal (I am ‘human/animal’). If I am looking at a window without thinking, I am an animal. In a way, ‘I am’ when looking at the window and thinking about my grandmother, I cannot define my ‘I’ when I look at a window and think about it, and ‘I am not’ when perceiving the window thoughtlessly. The identity of a person is in flux. As a human only has a mind in contemplation, so too a person only has an ‘I’.
Perception that leads to thinking is ‘animal-like’, while thinking that leads to perception is ‘human-like’. To be lead into thinking by perception is to be ‘like an animal’, while to be lead into perception by thinking is to act freely. I perceive freely when my perception is guided by my thinking, and I ‘don’t think for myself’ when my perception guides my thinking. I am more definitely myself when I think then perceive, rather than perceive and then think. Yet when I think, I cease to be present to the world that I perceive. ‘I am not what I am’: I can only be myself in a world that isn’t real.2 Though a sensualist may live like an animal, a thinker lives like a ghost.
I can perceive a window until the moment I notice that I am perceiving the window, then I am thinking about it. If I begin perceiving and thinking about the window, out of the corner of my eye, I may also perceive a small bird and a car passing by outside, though I am not thinking about these two, other phenomena. At any moment, I may be undergoing many sounds, sights, feelings, etc. and yet not be thinking about any of them (or only thinking about one of them). In a moment in which thinking and perception cross, there are still other phenomena I am experiencing relative to which perception and thinking do not cross. It is as if those entities are invisible when I am thinking, and when I think about the window, I act as if the window is all I perceive. I hence abstract myself from the world of my senses: I act as if my scope is smaller than it actually is. As to think about one’s grandmother while perceiving a window is to slip into a kind of ‘daydreaming’, so too is it to think about the window.
If I perceive the window and think about it, I act as if I perceive the thought ‘window’ instead of the phenomenon window. I put myself ‘toward’ a thing that I am not facing. If I think about anything, I do not contemplate what I perceive. If I think about the window, I do not think about the birds and cars in sight. It is never possible to think about the sum of what one perceives, only singularities (or ‘cut outs’) of it. If one tries to think about the entirety of all that he or she perceives, that individual’s mind will freeze up and that person will cease thinking. If one tries to tell their self ‘I am thinking about the window, bird, and car’, the person may actually be thinking more so about the words (or the words coupled with their corresponding phenomenon), and the individual may fail to recognize that he or she isn’t thinking about the sky, flowers, colors, etc. Even if an individual did manage to think about each individual phenomenon he or she perceived, that person couldn’t think about them all simultaneously as he or she actually perceived them, nor would such success, even if possible, apply to any other frame of spacetime. Thinking can never encapsulate perception: perception always exceeds it.
Yet, though thinking generates singularities, thinking also fails to individualize as does perception. To turn the window I perceive from ‘a window’ into ‘my window’, I have to think about it. Upon being thought about, the window could now be ‘any window’, for ‘any window’ could be mine. However, no other window could be ‘the window’ I perceive: only that window occupies that particular space and time. Likewise, to think about ‘the window’ I perceive ‘lifts’ the phenomenon up into a mental network where it relates to all other ‘windows’ I have experienced and the idea of ‘window’ itself. ‘The window’, in this respect, becomes simply ‘another window’: it’s ‘one-of-one’-ness is lost. If one thinks about a window while not perceiving one, one starts from the mental network and never thinks about ‘a window’, per se, only ‘another window’ or ‘an idea of a window’. Through a singularizing effort that seems to make ‘the window’ individual as ‘my window’, thinking, ironically, makes the window unremarkable and unparticular. Perception does not violate or generalize ‘the window’ as such; it passively accepts its particularity. ‘A is A’ — ‘a window is a window’ — until I think ‘A is A’. While perception observes the world, thinking changes it.
Furthermore, perception is faster than thinking: I perceive a window before I think about it. If I never think about it, my perception wins by default. Granted, I can think about a thing before ever perceiving it, but in such a circumstance, perception and thinking cannot be compared. To determine speed, perception and thinking must race on the same track. My perception cannot race against my ideas ‘in the mind’ as my thinking can race against my perception ‘in the world’. Therefore, speed must be determined ‘in the world’, where both perception and thinking can race, and there perception always wins. When I think about my grandmother while perceiving the window, my thinking veers off track.
Lastly, it should be recognized that thought and perception never completely cross or merge; rather, they only ever meet ‘in part’. Since I cannot think about the window and everything within my scope simultaneously, my perception and thinking cross only there, not in full. Consequently, though relative to ‘the-meeting-of-the-perception-and-thought-of-the-window’ I am hard to tell apart from an animal, I am still human relative to the phenomena upon which perception and thinking do not meet. I only forgo my humanness when I cease thinking all together.
My will determines if and how thought and perception meet, and though I cannot choose whether or not I perceive the window, I can choose whether or not I think about it. I may even start thinking about it without realizing that I chose to do so, but I still can choose to stop at anytime. Thinking expresses will, and free will expresses free thinking (though, the term ‘free will’ is a redundant version of the term ‘will’). I only will to perceive a window insomuch as I choose to think about it; otherwise, I simple perceive it, and do so because of mechanical and chemical complexes of the body (or at least it cannot meaningfully be said that I do so for other reasons). If I take a seat near a window because I think ‘I want to sit here’, I act freely; if I sit at the window because I see the chair, I act like an animal.
I act ‘freely’ when I think to do something contrary to the ‘prison’ of what I perceive, and I am free whenever I ‘will’. To will is to be free, for ‘to be free’ means ‘to be willful’. Otherwise, the term ‘free’ means ‘to follow instincts, perceptions, chemical mechanics, bodily functions, etc.’, which isn’t to be free, but to do whatever one is propelled to do. Without thought, one cannot even recognize his or her freedom, so in ‘no sense’ would that person be free. Thoughtless, to christen something ‘free’ is to add an ‘unnecessary superstructure’.1
Since I am never forced to think about what I perceive, I always have a chance to be free. When I think about my grandmother while perceiving the window, I am free; when I think about the window I perceive, it’s hard to define me as free, as it is hard to define me as human. When I perceive the window thoughtlessly, since I do not exercise my freedom, in that act, I am indefinable from an animal. Likewise, whenever I follow my instincts, mere causality, or simply perceive, my freedom and humanity become indefinable. Every moment I do not think is a moment I am not definably free. Since a human is that ‘which perceives and thinks’, humans can be free, for humans can think. Animals are not definably free, for they are not free to divide themselves from their perceptions.
Yet, every moment I think is a moment I live abstractly: it is a moment in which my scope shrinks and I am ‘toward’ a world that I do not perceive. In this sense, I can only be free ‘in the abstract’. The person that wishes to find proof of freedom ‘in the world’ will not find it, for the person searches by perception for that which can only be found in thought. More ironically still, the person will find ‘evidence’ that freedom doesn’t exist in failing to find it, and so become confident that he or she isn’t free.3 The same logic applies to the ‘self’. To try to find freedom is to give it up; to give up is to finish searching. The cost of freedom is the real world. Man is split. Whole.
The nature of thinking is to lead to perception as perception gravitates toward thinking (assuming the perceiving creature has a mind to think). Thinking and perception never have to cross paths, but they often do, because thinking often seeks perceivability to confirm it is in reality: just try to think of something without also ‘seeing it’ (possible, but hard). Perception stays like a straight river while thinking is a curving stream that runs in and out of it at whim. Thinking often thinks to achieve perceptibility, but perception doesn’t as often perceive to think, it’s existence being more stable and ‘given’. Perception may seek to be thought about, but it does not seek to become thinkable as thought seeks to become perceivable. What is perceivable is thinkable already, while what is thinkable doesn’t achieve perceptibility until ‘created’.
Reading, which is an act of perceiving black marks on paper, especially when it comes to fiction, is often also an act of ‘thinking-seeking-perceptibility’. Because a reader thinks about ‘Frodo’, a reader picks up The Fellowship of the Ring and begins reading. The person then reads the word ‘Frodo’ (consciously or unconsciously) in hopes of achieving perception of him. Because ‘a movie’ begins playing inside the reader’s head upon reading, in some strange way, the person succeeds, yet doesn’t. ‘The thought of Frodo’ seems to fight against invisibility in hopes of being seen, and this struggle creates a difficult to explain sense of him. As one cannot talk about perception without shifting into thinking and so failing, so it seems one cannot explain this ‘movie-like’ phenomenon without talking about something not present.
If I think about Frodo, I do so (as if) in order to perceive him, and though I achieve some ineffable sense of him, I fail to actually perceive him. If, on the other hand, I think about a cup, I may do so to perceive it, and may succeed if that thought leads me to opening a cabinet and beholding it or going to a store and buying one. A real entity is a thing that ‘a thought of’ has the possibility of intersecting with ‘a perception of’, while an imaginary entity is a thing that ‘a thought of’ has no possibility of intersecting with ‘a perception of’.4 The fact that a human can think about imaginary entities makes humans distinct from animals. Even if an animal could imagine something, an animal couldn’t imagine that which the animal has never beheld (while a human can think about Frodo from the word ‘Frodo’). At best, an animal could perceive the word ‘Frodo’ as the word ‘Frodo’, but as far as we know, an animal could never think about ‘a character named Frodo that is part of a movie playing inside its head’ from the word ‘Frodo’.
That said, just because something is imaginary doesn’t mean it is irrelevant or lacks any relation to the real world. Take the number 2: there is no chance that perception will ever cross the thought of the number 2, but the number helps me relate to phenomena in my real life. Even if I draw the number 2 on a piece of paper and look at it, I am not perceiving the number 2, but a mark on a piece of paper that makes me think about the number 2. I have probably convinced myself that the number 2 is this mark, but a self-deception of the same kind as making myself believe that the animal I refer to as ‘cat’ is in fact a ‘cat’ (a word).
Thinking asserts that it has ‘relation’ or ‘relevance’ to the real world in striving for perceptibility (often through creation). While what is perceivable is only ‘toward’ conceptualization if so ‘willed’, thought is perhaps always ‘toward’ perceptibility (again, try to think and not ‘see’); hence, thought constantly seeks to ‘be’ (created into perceptibility). What is perceived is present in the real world, while what is thought often seeks presence. Thinking does this while simultaneously shrinking perception into singularity and abstracting the perceiver from the real world.
In writing this paper, I am perceiving ‘taste of coffee; keyboard on fingers; sight of words on screen; smells in air’ while thinking about ‘what I am writing’. However, I am acting as if all I perceive are ‘the words on the screen’, and so abstract myself from the real world. I am not present here: I am elsewhere, somewhere much narrower. In the act of writing this paper, I make my thinking perceivable: I create. A creator makes his or her thinking perceivable, and a creative person does this intentionally and often. Whenever thinking strives to be perceived, a will strives creatively. It is thanks to thinking that I can create, but it also thanks to thinking that I am abstracted from the world for which I create.
As I read over my paper, I think about it as a consequence of perceiving its words. As I read, my thinking is constantly trying to ‘be’ perceivable. When the ‘movie in my head is playing’, my thinking falsely acts as if it’s my perception. Thinking and perception intersect at will, so when I will to read over my paper, my thinking and perception cross so many times that they seem to become one. When the crossings happen consistently enough, like a Kinetoscope gradually speeding up, I begin to see ‘a movie playing in my head’. I then see ‘images’, yet don’t. I see something I don’t see: I see what I am thinking. Yet ‘uncreated’ thoughts aren’t perceivable, so what do I perceive when I read?
I see my will, my thinking — myself. When I read The Fellowship of the Ring and see Frodo in my mind, I am looking at myself. I am Frodo when I read about him, as you are me when you read ‘me’ in this paper. The mind simply makes you think you are thinking about another, for this ‘you’ goes by ‘Frodo’ or ‘me’; there doesn’t seem to be a resemblance because you don’t perceive either. In reading, you long to be ‘created’, as does Frodo and ‘me’ when read (reading often inspires writing for this reason). Whenever we write, say fiction, the created character may go by a different name, but it is our self. The character I make in a story or in the paper I write is more so me than my body, for my body isn’t a manifestation of my will as is my ‘me’. In this sense, Tolkien was more so Frodo than he was Tolkien.
I am my thinking, so when I think about Frodo upon perceiving and reading ‘Frodo’, in that moment, I am Frodo, as I am my mother when I think about her. My body, of course, doesn’t become my mother, but ‘I’ do, for my ‘will’ does. Suddenly I then become my father upon thinking about him, as suddenly I become a character in a book, then a musician on the radio.
I am my scenes.
Though, as The Fellowship of the Ring (movie) isn’t just a single scene, but the whole of all its scenes, so a self isn’t a single scene, but the sum of all the scenes and/or thinking of one’s whole life. However, as The Fellowship of the Ring ‘is’ a given scene during a given moment in which it is being watched, so too a self ‘is’ the scene within one’s mind at a given moment, though the self isn’t ‘just that’. Though I am my thinking, I am also ‘just’ my body in a moment I am thoughtless (or only thinking about my body), and my ‘I’ doesn’t exist at all when I perceive without thinking. ‘I am’ what ‘I think’, and since all thought is ‘thought of’, ‘I am’ signifies ‘thinking am’, and that implies ‘I of’.
If one doesn’t believe in the existence of the self and seeks to find the self, the individual will not find it, and so conclude, rationally, there is no such thing as a self. Rather, the individual will only find ‘scenes’ of ‘Frodo’, per se, or other images. One can never find a self, only scenes which constitute the self. Likewise, a character within the film can never find The Fellowship of the Ring, only experience the scenes that compose the whole.
The moment I try to think about my ‘self’, I am doing so independent of any ‘scenes’ or ‘thinking’ which constitute it. It is as if I have begun making a movie about a movie. The movie’s plot is the movie itself, which is ultimately nonsensical. Consequently, I cannot find my self, for in the moment I think about the self, I lose it. The moment I give up, concluding I do not have a self, my self returns, a comedia.
Since ‘I am’ my thinking to some degree, when my thinking becomes perceivable, so too becomes my ‘self’. I create I. My body isn’t my thinking as perceivable; rather, it is a perceivable entity in and through which my thinking occurs. I am not my body when I don’t think about it, though I am always in it, yet what I create is always myself. Though what I am may forever escape conceptualization, this paper will always be me. To know this paper is to perhaps know me better than had we met.
Each thought seeks perceptibility as each person seeks to be known.5 Each person seeks to be known for who they really are and to be accepted for being that person: each longs for love. Yet who a person is changes with every thought, so it is not possible to love people for who they really are. In fact, it is only possible to love if one knows that the beloved will change, that the beloved is unreliable. One can never love people for who they are, only for who they are becoming: only a thing can be loved for what it ‘is’. A person is a becoming, and once a person gives up trying to define a loved one, a person achieves love that is actual — love of ‘a changing’ — ‘true love’.
The question ‘how do I know ‘my perception of the window’ is the same as the window?’ is different from the question ‘how do I know ‘my idea of the window’ is the same as the window?’. Since my thinking or ‘I’ is always in flux, I have reason to doubt that what I think is identical to the objective world outside of myself. However, at the same time, I have reason to believe that the world that I perceive is the world that’s actually there. Also, since all thinking seeks perceptibility, and not the other way around, there is no reason to believe that thinking changes my perception in such a way that my perception ceases to identify with actuality. On the other hand, it is logical to believe that my perception influences my thinking in such a way that makes it ‘more like’ the actual world than not.
I am not thinking about the window in front of me; rather, I perceive it (or so I did until I wrote this sentence). I have no reason to believe that my perception of the window isn’t identical to the window’s actual being. Though a statement like ‘I’m perceiving the window’ is never true (for the moment I utter such a sentence, I am now thinking about the window), it is the case that I truly perceived the window until I realized I was doing so. In this sense, it is impossible to talk about the actual world, but it isn’t impossible to experience it through perception. The actual world and the perceived world can match, though perhaps not when contemplated.
When I think about the window, there is a divide between my subjective experience of it and the objective window. However, when I only perceive the window, that divide breaks down. When I am both thinking and perceiving the window, some part of my experience is subjective, while the other is objective. Which is which would take thinking to determine, which ironically would make my experience of the window even more subjective and unreliable, and hence the determination more difficult to make. When I simply perceive the window though, I have no reason to believe that my subjective experience of it isn’t ‘objective’ (enough) until evidence is offered that falsifies my thesis. As Karl Popper made clear that we have reason to believe in scientific laws until they are falsified (thus addressing Hume’s devastating critique), so we have reason to believe perception and objective reality are identical until our thesis is falsified.6
Gravity always works until gravity doesn’t, as my perception of the window always is actually of the window until it isn’t. Furthermore, even if gravity were to once be experienced as ‘not working’, this would only establish that gravity didn’t work as gravity normally did ‘relative to that moment’. It would not mean that gravity would forever forth cease to work or that it never worked. Such an occurrence would only establish that gravity cannot be said to always work, which couldn’t be established in the first place (as noted by Hume). Gravity can never be established as a ‘natural law’, only a ‘natural probability’, which was already the case before the instant in which gravity didn’t work (a momentary phenomenon commonly called a ‘miracle’). Natural laws cannot debunk miracles, for there are no natural laws, as a miracle cannot debunk natural probabilities. The same logic applies to the perceived world and the world-unto-itself. Even if there was an instance in which perception didn’t match actuality, this would simply establish that perception didn’t match actuality ‘relative to that moment’. It wouldn’t mean perception never matches actuality, only that perception doesn’t always match actuality, which couldn’t be established in the first place. Despite such a ‘miracle’, it would still be the case that perception ‘probably’ synchs with actuality.
The ‘world-unto-itself’ is practically the same as ‘the-world-perceived’. Until our perception of the world is infringed upon by the way we live our lives in the world, we have no reason to doubt our perception. When and if our practice is disturbed, we can doubt our perception not entirely, but in regard to the way our practice was impeded.
The burden of proof has often lied on the shoulders of those who asserted that their perception matched the objective world outside of themselves. In drawing a distinction between perception and thinking, the burden of proof now shifts to those who claim that the world outside of our consciousness isn’t the same as the one inside of it, considering that our practical lives suggest synchronization. As those who doubt a scientific principle are responsible for falsifying it, so too are those who doubt the objectivity of the perceived world.
To think about my grandmother while perceiving the window is equally as ‘unreal’ as thinking about the window. To perceive without thought is realistic, but perception without thought is meaningless. Since the world is meaningless unto itself, thoughtless perception depicts the world. Devoid of meaning, perception grasps the world, while thinking, which adds meaning, changes it.
‘The world of full perception’ is ‘the world-unto-the-world’, though since humans can only engage in ‘pure perception’ (as defined and limited by their mental and sensual capacities), a human can only engage in the world-unto-the-world to a relative degree (though it is possible for a human to determine at least somewhere to the degree he or she doesn’t engage with it, as shall be expounded upon later). While thinking divides the world of experience from the world of actuality, perception unifies them. It is when I think ‘window’ that my perception of the window ceases to engage with the window-unto-the-window (to the degree it is capable). The world of full perception is the world itself, while pure perception is to engage with a degree of that actual world. When the world of my experience doesn’t match the actual world, in recognizing it is thinking, not perception, which divides them, I have a standard by which to determine ‘how’ to go about making the world of my experience more like the world that actually exists. There is a significant difference between claiming the world is totally different from experience and claiming it is different in determinable ways. If I hold a finger in front of my nose and my finger splits in two (to allude to Hume), I know my subjective experience of the world is different from the actual world because I am holding a finger too close to my face. Once I stop, my perception will again match actuality. If I know there are atoms I cannot sense, I know how my perception is incomplete. Unlike thinking, perception doesn’t divide; at worst, perception is incomplete.
To ask ‘can you ‘know’ a thing-unto-itself rather than just your perception of it?’ is as illogical as asking ‘can I fly without being able to fly?’. To know something is to experience it consciously. There is no ‘knowing’ without senses, and though perhaps not completely, if one doesn’t know a thing in its actuality, the person doesn’t ‘know’ it at all. There is no world beyond our senses, for the world is sensible, though perhaps the world is more sensual than our present senses can handle. There is no such a thing as a tree without space, time, color, etc. — such a thing is not a tree, but something else. Relative to the world, there is no such thing as a ‘tree’, only the phenomenon to which the term ‘points’. Something that doesn’t have space, time, color, etc. — sensual representation — isn’t a phenomenon in the world, for all phenomena have these configurations. The term ‘tree’ is, in meaning, without space, time, color, etc., but the phenomenon to which the term ‘points’ cannot be void of these calibrations.
Therefore, to ask ‘is there is a tree beyond our perception of a tree?’ is to ask if there is something in the world that isn’t in the world, which is similar to asking if a person can be both inside a room and outside it at the same time. Perhaps ‘Schrödinger’s Cat’ can, and perhaps a thing in the world, like a tree, both occupies a space in which it is itself and one in which it Transcends itself. A thing in the world can most certainly be simultaneously occupying different dimensions than just the three/four humans can conceive, but it can’t occupy zero dimensions. It is only possible that there is Something/something that is ‘more/less sensually a tree’, not lacking sensuality all together. The expression ‘beyond senses’ is only meaningful to the degree that it doesn’t signify the removal of the senses, but rather their transformation or amplification.
If I am looking at a window and shut my eyes, considering that perception matches actuality, doesn’t this mean the window is ‘black’? Not at all: the objectivity of the window hasn’t changed; rather, I’ve changed. The window still has shape, color, etc. — I am just acting ‘as if’ it doesn’t, ‘as if’ I’m capable of miracles. But shutting my eyes is not the same as splitting the sea. In closing my eyes, I know ‘how’ my perception no longer matches the objective world: I am not helplessly stranded from knowing the actual world. In recognizing that my perception doesn’t match the world ‘because I have closed my eyes’, I can establish how to achieve objectivity again. If I was born deaf, blind, without the ability to smell, etc., I could carry out a similar process of reasoning.
There is a significant difference between being unable to know objective reality and being able to know how one doesn’t know reality objectively. Humans know that they lack the echolocation abilities of dolphins, the capacity to perceive the entire color spectrum, and the ability to see atoms, just to give some examples. Yet, though I may not be able to perceive all the dimensions that comprise the ‘image of the window’ before me, that doesn’t mean my perception isn’t objective; rather, it simply isn’t as objective as it could be. Through knowledge acquisition of the biological world, humans can establish ‘how’ our perception is lacking, and from this information, suppose what ‘full reality’ is like. Again, just because we lack full perception doesn’t mean we have inaccurate perception. To not experience the entire color spectrum affects the objectivity of the outside world that I experience no more than does closing my eyes. My perception is still reliable, and in the ways that it isn’t, I know exactly how it isn’t.8 Knowing that we lack a fullness of vision, we can determine the nature of ‘full reality’, even though our perception is incapable of reaching or experiencing it. Therefore, we are capable, through knowledge and study, of knowing even ‘full reality’ accurately. What isn’t needed is less perception to achieve objectivity, but more of it. Ironically though, determining how to achieve this will take thought, the practice of which can divide me from actuality.
We have no reason to believe that perception is any less complete and reliable than whatever other modes of perception we know (from studying animals, etc.) that we lack. In knowing how human perception and our reality are incomplete, we know how we can rely on both. As one who wants to claim a natural law is wrong is responsible for falsifying it, so too one who wants to argue that perception is incomplete to any greater extent than we have evidence to believe. When I close my eyes, the window in front of me doesn’t lose space and time, and though I cannot perceive the atoms that make up the window, that doesn’t mean the window isn’t objectively present as a window. When I close my eyes, I know ‘how’ my perception is infringed, and though I cannot perceive atoms, I know I cannot. My perception is reliable, and when it isn’t, it is either because my thinking is abstracting it or because I lack certain sensory capabilities. In being able to identify ‘how’ my perception is strewed, I can make it reliable again.
It is the world that gives rise to biology and biological functions; even if we were created by God, it was ‘from the dust of the earth’. There is no basis to believe that the world would give rise to a creature that would not perceive it accurately. Perhaps a given creature doesn’t perceive it fully, but this doesn’t mean the creature perceives it wrongly. If I am looking at a painting that is halfway covered and I see two women, when the cover is removed, the two women don’t vanish: they are joined by two more. Likewise, though the world may give rise to creatures that only hear, feel, etc. their vehicles of perceptions are still reliable. Incomplete perception isn’t the same as unreliable perception.
There is no world beyond our senses: there might be something more sensual, but not something devoid of sense. If the word ‘spiritual’ is meaningful, it signifies a more sensual state of being, for there is nothing without sense. In becoming spiritual then, in a way, humans become more physical. Humans most certainly can be part of a spiritual dimension that is ‘more sensual’ and ‘more physical’ than what humans perceive, but this is a state of being that humans are part of presently, even though they may not ‘fully’ realize it.
Highest objectivity is highest spirituality and highest physicality. Since we know there are animals that can perceive dimensions of the physical world which humans cannot, we know there is a world that is more sensual than our own.9 Therefore, the spiritual exists. In contrast to the work of theologians who search for disembodied spirits, evidence for the spiritual is found among the animals.10
The word ‘spiritual’ needs to lose all association with ‘disembodiment’: it means ‘highest sensuality and physicality’, not ‘the opposite of physicality and sensiability’.11 Considering spiritual being as ‘fully sensual being’, to some degree, the whole world is spiritual, for everything is physical. In the ways that the world isn’t spiritual, humans have the capacity to determine how to go about recognizing and/or changing that, using perception as a reliable guide.
In contrast to thinkers who believe senses oppose our experience of the spiritual, it is actually our senses that give us the potential to access it. Thinking threatens spiritual existence with abstraction, while perception recognizes it. This may sound in opposition to religious ‘contemplatio’ traditions and as if this paper is in support of thoughtlessness, but rather this work hopes to trace out how humans cannot avoid irony. It takes thinking to realize that thinking threatens to abstract us out of the actual world, as it takes thinking to realize the difference between it and perception. Thinking awakens us to reality through the very act that veils it. Thinking makes perception meaningful while infringing on its reliability. Irony is human.
There is a tremendous difference between a cessation of thinking caused by an attempt to embrace all one perceives, and a cessation of thought consequence of an attempt to nullify thinking. The first is an act that climbs to the spiritual, while the second descends toward nothingness. Considering this, your dog could be closer to the spiritual than you. Since animals don’t think, their perception naturally embraces the actuality of the world in a way humans don’t. This is a reason why animals are worthy of respect and care.
As far as we know, animals cannot ‘will’ to keep their thinking from infringing upon, or conflating with, perception (and so it cannot meaningfully be said that animals think, since their thinking and perception cannot be defined apart). In willing to unify thinking and perception, a human can will ‘spirit’.12 While an animal is forced to engage the world through perception, a human can choose to engage with the world in this way freely. This perhaps opens the human up to possible experiences of the spiritual not meaningfully accessible to animals.13 At the same time though, as humans have the capacity to recognize, and perhaps even be, what is spiritually ‘higher’ than animals, they also have the capacity to be ‘lower’. Their superiority is not a given, and while one individual (who chooses to climb toward higher spirituality) might be more than an animal, another (who chooses to descend toward nothingness) might be less.
Though animals engage in pure perception, they don’t necessarily engage in full perception (as don’t people). For example, a dog is colorblind and lacks a sense of the full color scheme. Though the dog’s engagement with the world isn’t infringed upon by thinking, the dog doesn’t have a higher perception than does a human (at least in this sense). Though it may be purer and even more accurate, it isn’t fuller. Also, though it has pure perception, an animal cannot ‘purify’ its perception into fullness because it cannot think abstractly like humans to figure out how.14 Ironically, thanks to thinking, a human does have the capacity to orientate pure perception toward full perception, but a human doesn’t necessarily have pure perception.
Though thinking infringes upon perception, paradoxically, a human who doesn’t think isn’t capable of freely separating his or her perception from thought. Such people are indefinable from animals, and consequently, cannot access spirit as meaningfully as one who comes to embrace perception by choice and in freedom. Yet a thinker is likely to devalue pure perception, as a perceiver is likely to not grasp the importance of thinking. The first struggles with pride, the second ignorance; both must learn from the other. Neither can meaningfully engage spirit by his or her own power alone. The one who naturally perceives over thinking ceases thinking through nullification; only the thinker can freely cease thinking by attempting to embrace all he or she perceives (an act which takes thought and/or awareness). Paradoxically, though the thinker is likely to separate his or her self from the objective world through thought, it is the thinker who is able to meaningfully embrace spirit. The perceiver, on the other hand, who isn’t troubled by the mind, is more likely to descend toward nothingness, but isn’t so destined for pride and abstraction. The fact that humans beings are in this ironic situation is perhaps what it means to say that humans are ‘fallen’.
An individual is more physical in spirit, not less. ‘The world’, to use a religious term, is a ‘low physicality’ in comparison to spiritual ‘high physicality’. A spiritual person, then, is not someone who is less embodied, but more embodied. Spirituality that tries to erase physicality is as spiritually-negating as any kind of ‘daydreaming’ mentioned before. Increase in perception leads humans to spirit, and how one achieves higher perception requires wisdom. Wisdom requires focused thinking, and the fact that humans require thinking to achieve full perception is, again, perhaps what it means to say that humans are ‘fallen’.
Hold your hand before your face: you are looking at your spirit. If you fully become your body, you fully become your spirit. To fully grasp your body, as such, you must think hard, yet in thinking you separate yourself from your spirit further. To ‘arrive where [you] started and know the place for the first time’, you must depart.15 If you do not think, you cannot embrace your body freely, and so it will always alienate you. However, if you think, you risk separating yourself from your spirit.16 No value is created without risk. When you stop thinking, ‘your I’ becomes ‘your body’, and so you engage in spirit. However, you can only ‘stop thinking’ if ‘you think’; otherwise, you simply ‘don’t think’ (like an animal). If you ‘don’t think’, though you will engage in pure perception, it will be meaningless, and though this will mean your subjective experience synchs with objective reality, you will descend toward meaningless nothingness rather than ascend toward fullness.
As a tree is a tree even if my eyes are closed, the body is spirit even if the mind is closed. It is completely spirit, as a drop in the ocean is completely water. However, as the drop doesn’t equal the ocean, so too my body doesn’t equate the whole of spirit. As with the body, ‘the physical world’ is a small ‘framing’ of ‘the spiritual world’ (a ‘zooming in’, per se). Yet ironically, as a result of this ‘zooming in’, we can universalize particularities, abstract ourselves from the actual world, and meditate upon abstractions. In full spirit, assuming it is a possible ideal, thinking ceases to abstract or universalize; in a way, the term ‘thinking’ vanishes all together. It becomes inseparable from perception (as ‘thinking/perceiving’) and then is always ‘of what is’. One is not spiritual when he or she is abstract: a person is spiritual when a person is real.
Ultimately, physicality is particularity: the terms ‘spiritual’ and ‘physical’ signify ‘particularity’. It is not particularity which is a quality of the physical or spiritual, but rather physicality or spirituality which is a quality of the particular. Particularity is the substance; spirituality or physicality, the accident. Spirituality is ‘hyper physicality’ which is ‘hyper particularity’. The more spiritual a person becomes, the more that individual transcends universal relations and becomes ‘one-of-one’.17 As a great piece of art cannot be fully described separate from the experience of it, so too a spiritual person. The more spiritual humans become, the more humans become works of art.
As an individual becomes more physical in spirit, so too a person becomes more individual. To be physical is to be particular, while to be unphysical is to be universal. With particularity comes spirituality. Paradoxically, the more particular entities become, the less divided they are. Recognizing the uniqueness of each entity, humans cease to feel threatened by ‘the other’. All become one ‘in particularity’. Beings become secure in their identities, and realizing the ‘one-of-one’-ness of each thing, humans are unified by art. Beautifully. The expression ‘all is one’ means ‘all is particular’.
Let us draw this journey to a close with a review.
Thinking starts in the brain and ‘loops’ back to where it started without ever leaving the brain. Perception, on the other hand, starts in the brain, goes ‘into the world’ and ‘loops’ back to where it started from. One could call ‘the mind’ self-contained brain activity, while ‘the brain’ consists of brain activity that is ‘out reaching’. Though one needs a brain to have a mind, one doesn’t need a mind to have a brain. When a person doesn’t think, that person has no mind. If one would prefer, the term ‘soul’ can be used interchangeably with the term ‘mind’, though this paper has mostly stuck to ‘mind’. There is no such thing as a mind independent of thinking, though there is a brain even when there is no perception or even thinking. When a person is thinking, he or she has a mind; when a person isn’t, the person doesn’t. A person’s dualism comes and goes.
Assuming it’s possible, when thinking and perception harmonize, mind and body harmonize, and full spirit is achieved:
Then, where the mind begins and where the mind ends cannot be defined; hence, it seems as if there is no mind. In fact, the mind has expanded to the point that all is included in it. Highest perception, in a strange way, is also highest thought. In spirit, thinking and perception, once opposed, unite.
My body perceives; I think. My body isn’t my spirit to me when I think about it; my body is my spirit when I perceive it fully. Likewise, everything around me is spirit when I don’t think about it. However, when I simply cease thinking, I lose my I. On the other hand, when my thinking expands to try to grasp all that I perceive, my I becomes my body. When I lose my I, I become an animal; when I become my body, I become spiritual.18
Each of us, being a body and an ‘I’, is a thinker and perceive: each of us is a ‘split-divider’, a ‘walking contradiction’ — an irony.
I must confess: from the moment I put perception into words, I have engaged in thinking. Consequently, this entire paper is ironic; I have failed to avoid hypocrisy.19 In this sense, I have ‘fallen’, and for that, I ask forgiveness. Yet, to my defense, this hypocrisy is necessary, for perception requires thought to be embraced meaningfully and freely. A body without a brain cannot be spiritual to itself. Hence, the question of whether or not one has a spirit without a brain is nonsensical. The spiritual is physical, as the physical is spiritual. In spirit, a person has more of a brain than ever before. In the end, there is only life after death if there is a resurrection of the body.
1Allusion to Nietzsche.
2Allusion to Othello by William Shakespeare.
3A point expanded upon in “Self-Delusion, the Toward-ness of Evidence, and the Paradox of Judgment”.
4Keep in mind that an imaginary entity can become real as a real entity can become imaginary. Before the airplane was invented, it was imaginary; then, suddenly, it was real (and so was always a ‘real entity’, though it couldn’t be realized as such until its invention into ‘present’ spacetime). Likewise, a civilization can vanish from historical records, and so become imaginary (and so seem to have always been such). What is truly a ‘real entity’ and what is truly an ‘imaginary entity’ can only be determined relative to the whole scope of spacetime (which is incomprehensible by finite beings).
5Even if one were to try to think about the pure idea of ‘cup’ without seeking any perception of it, the very fact that it would take effort to stop oneself from seeing a mental ‘movie of’ a cup is evidence that the nature of thought is ‘toward’ perceptibility, though the perceivable isn’t ‘toward’ thought unless so ‘willed’.
6However, though this means we can have assurance in scientific laws, we still can never establish them as ‘laws’, only ‘constantly consistent conjunctions’, per se (which are, in practice, ‘laws’). Likewise, though we have no reason to doubt the reliability of perception, we still cannot establish what we perceive as objective reality. In other words, we can establish certainty so much as we can notice what is yet to be falsified, though we must always, humbly, be ready to accept ‘come what may’. In practice, what we consider a ‘scientific law’ versus a ‘constant conjunction’ is equivalent, though the distinction is still important to make.
7Also, ‘not knowing’ objective reality and ‘not having’ objective reality are quite different.
8To know how one is uncertain is to establish certainty; to know how one’s judgment is false is to acquire true judgment.
9Furthermore, considering ‘spiritual’ as has been defined and what we know about animals, it is rational to look into ‘spiritual’ and/or theological questions.
10It would have done humans well to tend to them, as suggested by Genesis.
11However, this doesn’t mean the spiritual isn’t Transcendent, for higher sensualities are Transcendent relative to lower dimensions.
12Schopenhauer was on the right track.
13For one, humans are able to determine the ways they aren’t spiritual and perhaps change.
14Though a dog may seem to ‘learn how to sit’, a dog rather remembers how to respond ‘rightly’ (as defined by humans) to certain, perceivable stimuli. Unlike humans, a dog cannot teach another dog how to sit, what the word ‘sit’ means, nor can they think about not thinking.
15Allusion to Little Gidding by T.S. Eliot.
18In a sense, I am the voice within me, but the body is what my voice longs for. I am a love story. My voice woos my body, and my body woos my voice. They are estranged; they belong together. I am silent, but my voice is calling me back to life. In spiritual terms, I am not a voice inside a body; I am occupied by a voice.
18.1What I have been looking for has always been in front of me.
19In being ironic, this paper opens up ‘the question of being’, which will be addressed at another time.
1. Because of the distinction between thinking and perception, Peter Singer is incorrect to assert that saying ‘animals aren’t human’ is the same as saying ‘blacks aren’t human’. Humans can eat animals: there is no ‘holocaust’ going on. However, Singer is right to target the profound cruelty of modern ways of manufacturing animals into food, for animals are deserving of ‘respect’ in sharing in a dimension of our humanity. However, animals are never to be ‘respected’ at the expense of humans, for that is to treat animals ‘humanely’, even though animals are, in a way, more spiritual than humans. A good way to respect animals is to follow Barth’s advice in Church Dogmatics III.1.
2. Whether or not a human is concluded to be ‘mind and body’ or ‘body’ will be determined by when a given study is done. One study will find that humans are both, while another will find a different result. Both will be right relative to their given moment. This is why psychology, philosophy, and science have been unable to efface dualism once and for all. One moment it’s dead; the next, it’s back.
3. To dream is to think without any kind of perception. Consequently, in a dream, thinking has to work by pure association. It works by a logic of ‘what goes with what?’ versus ‘what goes to what?’.
4. To experience the spiritual thoughtlessly (and so ‘un-freely’) is to engage with meaningless spirituality which, at best, alienates. The spirit must be chosen to be spiritual.
5. To prove animals can think, one would have to be able to prove that animals can read and have ‘movies playing in their heads’ (as described in the paper). If one did manage to prove this of a certain animal, this would not prove that animals can think, but rather prove that this particular animal is actually human. Even if the creature doesn’t look like a human at all, the creature will still fall into the category (though this rest can’t necessarily be said about every other creature within that particular creature’s species). To kill and eat this creature then would be to commit cannibalism (in line with what Peter Singer warns). Even if such a particular creature were found, the categories of ‘human’ and ‘animal’ would remain fixed.
6. Grasping the distinction between thought and perception may also help establish the difference between IQ and EQ and the importance of both.
7. There is a relationship between knowledge and freedom because the more one knows, the more one can think in such a manner that recognizes the division between perception and thinking and then will their unity.
8. Many individuals have claimed to have had ‘out of body experiences’. Every time a person perceives a window and thinks about their grandmother, indeed, that person has such an experience. ‘Out of body experiences’ are ‘mind out of brain’ experiences which may or may not end when the brain shuts down (which, if a ‘resurrection of the body’ occurs, is ultimately never). Such an experience is ‘of the soul’, not ‘of the spirit’, though this semantic distinction is not meant to devalue anyone who has had an ‘out of body experience’. It is also possible that a ‘fully physical’ body could be one that is able to move freely through space and time (perhaps gaining the capacity to control wave frequencies), and it is possible that an ‘out of body experience’ is one in which a person gains ‘full physicality’ (and the capacity to occupy multiple places in spacetime simultaneously). Hence, such an experience would be when soul (or mind) and spirit unify, though it may seem physicality is lost.
9. To say ‘people think differently’ isn’t just to say that ‘people have different opinions’, but that the various processes by which people come to conclusions are fundamentally different. One may think ‘from details to a big picture’, another might think the other way around. When one isn’t thinking though, this difference fades out, and unity is more easily achieved. It may be impossible to truly understand that people are different in this way until one experiences the ‘absurdity’ of it (to be esoteric), for until then, one only understands it through their given mental process. By definition, this means they don’t understand.
10. To allude to Hume, if I prefer scratching my finger to destroying the whole world, I have acted unreasonably, because I have chosen to destroy the perception I require to fulfill my desire. Whenever thinking contradicts perception as such, a person acts ‘unreasonably’, for the individual negates ‘the ground of thinking’. I am ‘rational’ when I am ‘actual’, though what is ‘actual’ takes more than being ‘rational’ to determine.
11. To touch on Kant and using the term ‘judgment’ as does he: because my perception is reliable, so too is my judgment. In the times my judgment fails, I have methods by which to determine how and why. ‘Judgment’ is a combined effort of both thinking and perception, and determining it entails knowing when to stop thinking to liberate perception and when to invite thinking back to direct perception. If and when I doubt my judgment, I have reasons and methods by which to reestablish its credibility; otherwise, judgment is reliable. It should be noted that Kant was wise to search for a ‘ground to judgment’ in aesthetic experience, seeing that the more particular and actual an entity becomes, the more it becomes like artwork.
12. In a way, a blind person is less spiritual than someone who can see, but someone who can see is more likely to infringe his or her perception with thinking. Consequently, the blind man is ‘balanced out with’ those who can see. This isn’t to say thinking is ‘anti-spiritual’, but that thinking renders humans spiritually paradoxical.
13. Without language, it’s hard not to be an animal, if not impossible. To speak is to separate thinking from perception. With each new word, a person becomes more a person, yet the more that person becomes abstract. Naturally, a person eventually comes to think ‘this is a window’, and so ‘naturally’ becomes a ‘non-animal’ and abstracts his or her self out of the world.
Without words, thinking and perception blur. Thinking is negated, rather than fulfilled, and humanity is lost. Yet, in words, spirit is lost. Words label what we perceive with associational thoughts: they cover the world like a blanket, transforming everything we see into ‘things’. The more language we learn, the more we cover the world in snow.
Thinking and language seem inseparable, especially considering that language isn’t limited to just words. A person can communicate with images; for such a person, images are words. Words are not sound waves: words are anything that associate: words are metaphors. Thinking is association as language is association; ‘human-ness’ is ‘association’. Thinking is language: ‘I am my voice’.
Yet, as language enables us to think and so to be free, language cuts us off from pure perception. It is a friend and a foe. One cannot be human without language, but without language, one becomes a spirit. Words are a path to the spirit, but there words must be left behind. This is why many mystics claim the Divine is ‘unspeakable’. Indeed — such is the world.
14. In a way, when thinking and perceiving cross, the viewer applies his or her ‘I’ to the perceived. I am being ‘selfish’ in such an instance, for I am not adding my ‘I’ to all I perceive. If I did so, my thinking would fuse with my perception, and my ‘I’ would fuse with the world.
15. If I hurt my thumb, is it ‘me’ who hurts or my thumb? ‘I’ am only hurt insomuch as I think about my pain. If I perceive a cut in my hand, it is not myself that hurts until I think ‘I am hurt’. Likewise, the part of me that I think about when asked ‘who are you?’ is ‘who I am’ for the question. The more I am able to define my thinking from my perception, the easier it will be to keep from confusing what my body undergoes from what ‘I’ undergo. If I am called ugly, I will recognize that the statement must be false, because the name-caller has never perceived my thinking (seeing that thinking transcends perceptibility by definition). ‘I’ cannot be ugly. Hence, as it isn’t offensive to be called hideous by a blind man, so it shouldn’t be hurtful to be called ugly. Beauty that is skin deep is beauty of an object, not a person.
Yet, my protection from being called ugly is thanks to my willingness to ‘step outside’ of the world and self I perceive. I achieve invincibility by ceasing to be. In separating my perception from my thinking, I create a distance between my body and self that helps me keep myself whole. One would think that by ‘splitting myself’ I would lose my mind, when the exact opposite is true. I never lose my mind until I refuse to step out of the world. I gain myself in my willingness to give everything up.
Yet still, I can only realize my spirit by unifying my mind with my body (my thinking with my perception). In achieving this, I too obtain protection from being called names, for I recognize my profound particularity and artistic being (my ‘one-of-one’-ness). Consequently, I recognize the absurdity of being called ‘ugly’, for there is nothing I can be compared to but myself. ‘I am’ — words like ‘ugly’ and/or ‘beautiful’ no longer apply.
16. A fully spiritual person doesn’t ‘perceive and think’ nor ‘perceive’, but ‘perceives/thinks’, which is an entirely unique and distinct phenomenon in itself. By definition, it transcends words. Whether this state is possible or an ideal is a conclusion that, if achievable, would be ineffable.
17. It is natural for a human to think while perceiving, for it is natural to be ‘fallen’. Likewise, it is hard to perceive without thinking when interacting with others, for it is difficult to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ and much more natural to ‘love your idea of your neighbor as yourself’.
18. The relationship between ‘thinkers’ and ‘perceivers’ is perhaps similar to the relationship between introverts and extroverts.
19. Though everyone is both, perhaps ‘perceivers’ are more ‘right-brained’ while ‘thinkers’ are more ‘left-brained’.
20. If your thinking embraces your perception, you will never be bored. You will always be surprised (by joy), for you will never ‘see something coming’. Rather, you will see what is there.
21. If the term ‘Heaven’ is meaningful, it must signify ‘the highest possible physicality and particularity’. On the flipside, if ‘Hell’ is meaningful, the term must signify ‘utter disembodiment and abstraction’. Using the terms as such, it would be accurate to say that a given human is constantly oscillating between ‘Heaven and Hell’.
22. If my leg is cut off, my spirit loses a leg, but my spirit is reduced only if I will to perceive this affliction as a lessening.
23. Heidegger would want us to perceive before we think, for us to experience a sunset before we take a picture of it.
24. Since it is the case that a natural law can only be falsified relative to a given moment, no natural law is falsifiable. Consequently, Popper’s new criteria by which to establish ‘natural laws’ stands for a given instance, but not for good, though it is a fantastic criteria by which to establish ‘natural probabilities’. Hume prevails.
25. To reference ‘A is A’: thinking divides A from B (though there is no A without thinking), while perception unifies A into B.
26. ‘Nothing’ signifies an orientation of being against itself.
27. Thinking is so ‘present-to-us’ that we think we think about all we perceive, when we think about nearly none of it.
28. One could perhaps associate perception with the subconscious and thinking with consciousness. Perhaps the subconscious emerges when a perceived phenomenon ‘breaks through’ into thought, and vanishes (like the ‘I’) once that ‘break through’ occurs. Yet, at the same time, since dreams are instances of ‘pure thought’, perhaps the subconscious should be associated with thinking and consciousness perception. This though, would conflict with most standard understandings of the terms.
29. Aquinas argued that thinking was primary while Duns Scotus argued for the predominance of the will. Aquinas believed that the mind could not help but be drawn to the good, but Duns Scotus warned that this meant the will wasn’t free, for it had to follow the mind wherever it went. Though perhaps it cannot be helped that one be drawn toward the ‘good’ of a nearby ‘beautiful woman’ or a ‘good steak’, it is the case that one is not necessarily drawn to ‘higher goods’ like literature or art unless they will to experience those goods. Often, those goods entail learning and training to appreciate. In theological terms, one has to will to experience the ‘Beatific Vision’ in order to be unable to look away from it. Willing, as such, entails thinking, for one has to think about what he or she has to do to achieve that experience. Also, one has to know about the Beatific Vision in order to will to experience it. Ultimately, will and thinking are the same phenomenon that manifests in different ways that are easy to put under different titles. In one instance, though ultimately two sides of the same coin, will precedes thought, while at other times thought precedes will. Whether Aquinas or Scotus is right depends on the moment and person. Lastly, to will to experience the Beatific Vision is to think about the Beatific Vision, and to the degree this is done well is to the degree the individual will be drawn to it, unable to resist. Yet, since the individual ‘willed to think about’ the Beatific Vision, this loss of freedom is an expression of freedom, for it is what the thinker wanted. To will something entails thinking about it, and thinking about something entails willing those thoughts. Will and thought are one.
30. There is a difference between will and want…
31. To allude to Heidegger, we don’t think about a doorknob until it doesn’t work: it is when we turn it and the door doesn’t open that we stop and recognize the doorknob’s existence. It is when something is broken that it ‘stands out’ to us.
Considering what this paper has defined as ‘spirituality’, to ‘think’ is to ‘break’ pure perception. Every time we think, we break perception, and so notice what we think about (whether it be in our mind or before our senses). The same can be said when it comes to the ‘mind’ or ‘self’. We don’t notice it until we ‘break it’ by thinking about it, yet in breaking it, unlike the doorknob, it vanishes all together. The self can never be thought about in-and-of-itself, for the self is only engaged with through perception. Yet, if never thought about, selfhood is meaningless.
What we ‘think about’ is what we break from pure perception.
31.1 Philosophy is often an effort to return to a state of pure perception, yet in seeking this state through thinking, it breaks itself off from the very thing it seeks. It has what it wants until it looks. Yet what one has is meaningless until beheld.
31.2 The very act of thinking is what philosophy must overcome to achieve actuality.
31.3 The human is the stumbling block and the stumbled.
32. In line with “On Materialism, Purpose, and Discernment”, to have purpose is avoid materialism, to unify life into a whole of ‘life’, and to open one’s self up to full physicality, full embodiment, and so full spirituality. Materialism is a way of thinking, so the one who is materialistic cannot engage in pure perception. As to open one’s self up to perception is to open one’s self up to actual and full materiality, so to have purpose is to do the same. To not have purpose is to necessarily be materialistic. Therefore, the one who doesn’t have purpose cannot purely perceive or avoid abstraction. This isn’t to say purpose is perception, but that purpose must come before it (such as the purpose to run a business, to write a book, or to achieve pure perception). Furthermore, purpose, which is a kind of refined and focused thought and/or intentionality, makes perception more meaningful than normal thinking.
32.1 To resurrect the body is to transcend materialism.
32.2 To allude to “The Creative Concord”, in lacking purpose, a person also lacks the capacity to be meaningfully free, for the person lacks a standard by which to define a mere act from a free one. Hence, the person cannot transcend alienation or materialism, and so must think at the expense of perception.
32.3 Considering the Heideggerian example of the doorknob, what one perceives is ‘invisible’ to that person, which makes, in a sense, what one thinks about what one ‘breaks’ (off from perception). Yet, without this ‘breaking’, phenomena would necessarily be ‘meaningless’ and so ‘purposeless’. Considering this, humans must ‘break’ in order to be meaningfully whole or ‘synchronized’ with life — the one who lives meaningfully ‘breaks’ first. Likewise, humans may need to be materialistic to recognize their need for purpose, as one may need to experience despair in order to realize his or her despairing state and need for joy.
33. I can think about something without willing to do so, yet I can also think about things by willing them into mind. The two are like constantly running rivers that cross here and there, not always by chance.
34. Since there are always things a person is thinking about at the exclusion of other things, a person is always an animal to some things, while a human to others. In this sense, we can never be fully human.
35. Considering “(Im)moral”: it is the very act of thinking which shrinks one’s perception of being into the dichotomy of ‘right and wrong’. Thinking stands between a thinker and morality.
36. Thinking works by ‘splitting’; words spread the crack(s).
36.1 The fundamental function of thinking is ‘splitting’.
37. Once a person thinks, reason is forever restless; once the familiar becomes strange, the familiar forever unsettles. Once one thinks, one realizes humanness; once a person comes into personhood, personhood is never again comfortable.
38. Thinking filters experiences through an idea of perfection within us (resulting in generalities, idealism, etc.), while perception opens us up to the beautiful unfiltered actuality before us.
39. To deem a thing ‘a thing’ is to pull the perceived into the thought.
40. To allude to “Read(er)”, to perceive is to experience ‘subject/context’; to think, ‘subject and context’.
41. To think ‘cup’, like naming an object ‘cup’ (which is distinct from responding to said object), is to pull a phenomenon from perception into thought. It is arguably this activity that makes a person a person, distinct from an animal (but not un-animal), yet it is this act, ironically, that abstracts the human from the world.
42. To think about perception is to try to see the mirror behind your reflection.
43. The older a person becomes, the more likely it is that their thinking overrides their perception. Children are less prone to abstraction.
43.1 To think about perception is to efface it, and so to make it seem as if there is no perception, and so no distinction between thinking and perception. Likewise, to touch on “(Im)morality”, to think about teleological ethics (and any teleological reasoning for that matter) is to make teleological ethics seem absurd. The same applies in regard to thinking about purpose and meaning, since these are realized through a dialectic between perception and thinking. In a sense, perception is teleological; thinking, anti-teleological.
43.2 Perhaps the older people become, the more likely it is that they don’t ascribe to teleological ethics and a sense of purpose.
44. When it comes to understanding the economic work of Hayek, the educational work of Mitra, the physics of Mandelbrot, the admonishments of Taleb, and the political theory of ‘Liberty’, thinking is your worst enemy, yet it takes thought to learn.
45. The act of thinking harder about a problem can be the very act that makes that problem more difficult to solve. Ironically, the more difficult a problem becomes, the harder humans tend to think about it.
46. Generally, Eastern thought has focused on perception at the expense of thought, as Western thought has focused on thinking at the expense of perception.
47. To think about a perceived thing transforms it into a symbol ‘pointing toward’ the thinker’s concept of it. To put thinking above perception is to put one’s symbolic conceptualization of the world above the world itself, which, in disordering being by confusing the symbol with the symbolized, causes abstraction and anxiety.
48. There are perhaps phenomena like synchronicity which are valid in perception yet unthinkable.
49. If humans are purely material phenomena, then at some point science will be able to bring people back to life once it has figured out how to ‘turn bodies back on’, per se. If humans are purely marital beings, resurrection is scientifically possible. One day, we may all have a scientific afterlife.
50. As one shouldn’t claim Tolkien isn’t smart because Middle Earth doesn’t exist, one shouldn’t claim a person who thinks isn’t smart just because he or she abstracts the world into that which it is not.
51. Thinking, when how it works isn’t understood, is a threat to freedom. If people don’t realize that the act of thinking singularizes phenomena and abstracts them from the real world (as if they are all there is), people will begin thinking about a world in which freedom, objectively, doesn’t work. Consequently, individuals will conclude that freedom needs to be restricted, when in fact such only needs to be the case in the unreal, abstract world beget by the act of thinking itself. Without education, freedom is empty, yet thinking, when its functionality isn’t understood, can destroy freedom.
52. To think is to study a painting after stepping close enough to touch it with your nose. To perceive is to stand back.
53. It is hard to let your thinking merge with your perception, as it is hard to see yourself not looking in the mirror.
54. To think about thinking isn’t to engage in perception, though it’s the thinking most like it.
55. The nature of thought is ‘toward’ control, while the nature of perception is ‘toward’ openness.
56. One never think about (all of) what ‘is’, only a scope it, and though one never perceives (all of) what ‘is’, in perceiving, one is ‘open’ to it.
57. It cannot be said that ‘spiritual man’ is simply ‘a person with all the abilities found in nature that humans lack’, for it cannot be said for sure that ‘spiritual’ doesn’t signify ‘all those capabilities and others we don’t know about.’
58. Reminiscent of the ‘Reflective Equilibrium’ by John Rawls, the human gains understanding of understanding (miraculously) and then experiences understanding as a state, which then redefines the human’s concept of understanding, which then redefines the mode in which the human experiences the world, restarting the process over and over again. Likewise, as the human grasps the bigger picture, the human’s grasp of smaller phenomena is reinvented, which then reinvents the human’s grasp of the bigger picture, and so on. Furthermore, what one thinks about influences how one perceives, and then what one perceives redefines what one thinks about, back and forth, on and on as the human climbs higher and higher toward pure perception and fully physicality.
59. Postmodernists have pointed out that belief in a single superstructure or common rationality into which all phenomenon fit has been used to silence minorities, and so Postmodernists have worked to deconstruct all such structures. Yet to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater, perhaps perception can provide us with a ‘common ground’ that thinking couldn’t without causing such oppression. Though there cannot be a ‘common ground of thought’, perhaps there can be a ‘common ground of perception’, though determining what constitutes it would take much thought and risking oppression. Perhaps the way is narrow, but perhaps there is a way.
60. The rational exists within rationality, but not outside of it. Where there is no thought, there cannot be thoughtfulness (only an appearance of such). Considering this, there needs to be a distinction made between the rationality considered within thinking and that which emerges in perception. For example: it is rational to believe ‘2 + 2 = 4’, but it is not so much a matter of rationality that a tree doesn’t change into a bird as it is a matter of perception. This ‘rationality of perception’ is what science is grounded in, and it is often conflated with ‘the rationality of thought’. This isn’t to say that there is no thinking in science, only that the kinds of rationality science use varies. Grasping this may help us overcome some epistemological confusion.
61. Nothing is real in thought, but doesn’t exist in perception.
62. An informing of thinking with perception and perception with thinking is a kind of ‘forward, backward, forward’ approach, a kind of thinking about a phenomenon, stepping back into perception to grasp the phenomenon in its ‘world’, and then re-thinking about the phenomenon again in light of one’s perception of it. This is to focus upon and think about an entity, check and balance that abstraction with actuality, and then re-approach the entity ‘in light of’ one’s perception of it. And this kind of epistemological approach profoundly transforms how a person approaches every field of knowledge and day-to-day personal interaction. In seeing one’s thinking as abstractions of perception, one is more likely to be skeptical of his or her own thinking and humble about his or her ideas. This will help one avoid forecast errors in economics, for example, and also help a person not lose sight of the world among mental images of it.
62.1 To make a Heideggerian point, perhaps it can be said that Being, in a way, Doesn’t Exist relative to what we think about, but that Being Exists relative to what we perceive. If I think about a cup, I am ‘toward’ a reality (being(s)) in which the cup ‘stands out’ from the world it is in, even though, in reality, the cup doesn’t ‘stand out’ as such. Relative to the reality I am ‘toward’, Being Doesn’t Exist; relative to the reality that ‘is’, Being Exists. Being Doesn’t Exist relative to realities that don’t exist, and to think (about a thing) is to shrink my scope into fashioning a mental and abstract reality that ‘isn’t’. Unlike thinking, which singularizes my world and makes me ‘toward’ that singularity as if it were the world, to perceive is to ‘be open to the world’; in other words, to think is to ‘bracket off’ one’s self from Being, while to perceive is to ‘open up’ one’s self to Being. That said, without thought, Being would be meaningless, even though experienced, and so to fully experience Being, one needs to both think and perceive in a manner that informs and suffuses the other.
62.2 To make a theological point (though it can be dangerous to entertain theology in a philosophical work), it is perhaps the case that people who believe in God more naturally carry out the ‘forward, backward, forward’ approach to engaging with the world (and merging perceiving and thinking), not because they are conscious of doing so, but because that way of engagement comes with theism. Regardless if God Exists, believing in God teaches (or at least should teach) one to ‘step back from’ what he or she thinks about the world, one’s sense of right and world, one’s sense of truth, etc., and to ‘bring it before God’, which in turn puts the person into a mode of perceiving rather than thinking (before rethinking). This isn’t to say one must be a theist to merge perceiving and thinking, only that it seems to (unintentionally) come with the theistic territory.
63. If I think about a cup, I am ‘toward’ a world that ‘isn’t’, and if I realize such (that I think about nothing though nothing doesn’t exist), thinking can ‘move me’ into perceiving. (In other words, conceptualizing ‘A is A’ can make me realize ‘without B’ if I realize ‘A, A, A…eternal regression…’) And this is perhaps the only way thinkers can become perceivers.
64. If I perceive a cup without thinking ‘I could pick it up’, relative to me, I do not add that potential to the world; however, if I were to think, ‘I want something to drink’, it’s as if my mind ‘casts that potential in front of me’, like a fishing line, which I then choose whether to realize or not (like a fish choosing whether to take the bait). In a sense the potential to ‘pick up the cup’ is always there, regardless whether I think about it, yet in another sense, the potential isn’t there unless I think about ‘picking up the cup’, for relative to me, without thought, the possibility is meaningless. Likewise, there is always the possibility that I won’t die until I’m a hundred and thirty and that I’ll have a chance to go to outer space, as there’s always the possibility that I’ll become president, etc. — but without action and phenomenon that ‘point to’ the realize of these possibilities and that result in practical thought about them, these possibilities are of no significance. In this sense, it seems as if there needs to be a distinction between ‘meaningful potentiality’ and ‘meaningless potentiality’, which is always relative to an individual subjectivity, seeing that ‘meaningful’ and ‘meaningless’ are terms that imply some subjective value assessment.
Thinking adds meaningful potentials to the perceived, and by extension, makes possible ‘meaningful realization/action’. To realize a potential that one doesn’t think about is to ‘act meaninglessly’, while to realize a potential that is thought about is to ‘act meaningfully’. This isn’t to imply one kind of action is necessarily more valuable than another (though they might be relative to an individual), and instead of using the term ‘meaning’, one could just as easily use the language of ‘thoughtful versus thoughtless’. Rather, this is to say there are different kinds of action, and that some action is more ‘meaningfully’ action than others. When I blink instinctually, though this act is in fact an action, relative to me, I hardly notice it, and it is certainly not as ‘meaningfully’ an action to me as is the choice of which college I attend. Both are an action, yes, but which to me even seems like an action (which to me even seems like something I choose to do) is relative to which action I think about (more so).
Furthermore, though both the mechanical and the meaningful act appear intentional and/or ‘willed’, the realization of ‘meaningless potential’ are realizations in which free will cannot be ‘meaningfully’ defined from mechanical act and/or determinism. It is in acts that entail the realization of ‘meaningful potential’ that an individual, relative to his or her self, can recognize that he or she has (meaningful) freedom. Yet, that said, an individual can freely choose to think this expression of (meaningful) freedom is actually controlled by subconscious and/or unidentifiable forces (such as chemicals in the brain, etc.), and so ‘meaningful acts’ may not be as good of a proof to an individual that he or she has free will as maybe instances in which the person’s freedom is violated (as expounded on in “On Words and Determinism”). It depends.
65. In Lost in the Cosmos, Walker Percy asks ‘Why is it that the look of another person looking at you is different from everything else in the Cosmos? That is to say, looking at lions or tigers or Saturn or the Ring Nebula or at an owl or at another person from the side is one thing, but finding yourself looking into the eyes of another person looking at you is something else.’ Perhaps the answer to this is because non-human entities do not resist being ‘bracketed off’ by thought into ‘that-which-it-isn’t’, while humans, in being thinking and perceiving beings, do resist being ‘bracketed’ as such. Hence, to consider a human is to attempt what cannot be done, and yet must be done for humans to have meaning. ‘Whats’ do not resist being thought about, but ‘Whos’ do, perhaps in the same way that Being resists conceptualization by hiding behind being(s) (to allude to Heidegger). In the moment of the stare, a person thinks about who can only be perceived, yet who must be thought about to have meaning. In the stare, one sees the reflection of a ‘walking contradiction’.
66. To allude to the thought of Heidegger and Karl Popper: when we are thinking about Being, we have grounds upon which to think that we are thinking about being(s) versus Being. Heidegger, who was concerned with ‘getting to Being past being(s)’, was driven by this paradox his entire life. However, in perceiving, we have no reason to think that we are undergoing being(s) instead of Being (beyond even the words ‘Being/being’). As we can accept the validity of ‘scientific probabilities’ until they are falsified, so we can accept that, in perceiving, we are undergoing Being instead of being(s) until such turns out not to be the case. Perhaps one could argue that this premise cannot be falsified, but perhaps that is not so much the case as it is that, by definition, if humans were to stop perceiving Being, there would be non-existence. One could say that that the premise ‘the universe exists’ cannot be falsified, because the moment the universe ceased to exist, so too we would cease to be, but that doesn’t mean the premise isn’t true.
67. In psychologically, there are two, general modes of thinking called ‘holistic’ and ‘analytical’. Generally speaking, the holistic thinker looks at whole situations to make judgments, while the analytical thinking breaks down situations into parts and then analyzes how the parts work together. Considering this, ‘holistic thinking’ is like ‘perception’, while ‘analytical thinking’ is like ‘thinking’ (as defined in this paper). Holistic thinking is more natural than analytical thinking, and analytical thinking has to be learned. However, it seems that often analytical thinking divorces itself from holistic thinking, as holistic thinking often doesn’t acquire analytical skills. To use the terms of this paper, the thinker often leaves behind perception, as the perceiver can devalue thinking; though, as argued by this paper, we need both. In a sense, a ‘thinking informed by perception’ and a ‘perception informed by thinking’ is a kind of ‘holistically analytical’ mode of engagement with the world. As long as these two stay divided, we will fail to acquire the ‘new kind of thought’ we need.A
APargraph inspired by “Study: American Liberals and Conservatives Think as if From Different Cultures”, posted January 21, 2015, as can be found here:
68. In “The Allegory of the Cave”, Plato proposes that if a person was born chained up looking at shadows and unable to see the light and the world behind him, he’d come to believe the shadows constituted reality. Likewise, Plato proposes that we have come to believe what we see is real, when really such things are ‘the shadows’ of ‘the world of the forms’ (put another way, Plato says that ‘the world of becoming’ is a ‘shadow’ of ‘the world that is’). Using this line of thought, one could say that what we perceive are the ‘forms’ of what we think.
Yet, shadows aren’t completely unreal, for they are outlines of actualities: if shadows didn’t resemble what caused them, then they would be ‘(totally) unreal’. (Furthermore, there is no such thing as an entity that doesn’t cast a shadow when hit by light, so to say a shadow is ‘unreal’ versus ‘a part of reality’ is somewhat incorrect.) Hence, thinking is an ‘outline’ of what is perceived, per se; additionally, there are some things that, without shadows, we couldn’t see at all (such as a solar eclipse to the naked eye), and technically, things without shadows are things that don’t exist, so, technically, we couldn’t see anything at all without shadows.
That said, thinking isn’t ‘unreal’, just not ‘complete’, and thinking gives us an ‘outline’ of what we perceive, which may allow us to see/understand things that we couldn’t through perception. At the same time, what we perceive can give us an understanding of what we think that, without perception, we couldn’t grasp. By grasping the shadows, we can better grasp the forms; by grasping how things become, we can grasp better what things ‘are’.
68.1 ‘The world of forms’ is right in front of us: it is the wall upon which the shadows are cast.
69. As it is easier to grasps metaphors of abstractions than direct abstractions, so it is easier to think about beings than Being. According to Heidegger, Western philosophy never thought about Being, only about being(s). Heidegger described being and philosophy as a tree in the ground of Being that’s leaves (representing philosophical branches like Ethics, Politics, Ontology, etc.) can’t reach the soil. To think about Being, philosophy had to be uprooted and done anew.
To Heidegger, Being is what all being(s) share, and outlining the nature of Being is what drove Heidegger’s thinking. Heidegger realized though that, ironically, to think about Being is to engage in being(s): Being is frustratingly prior to thought/being(s). Being hides in being(s) as Being arises in being(s): Being always arises and hides simultaneously. The being which reveals Being is the very being which conceals It. This poised a challenge to engaging with ‘Being as Being’, but Heidegger thought it was imperative to overcome this obstacle. Otherwise, Heidegger believed that the ‘objectification’ and/or ‘thingification’ of the world — the changing of it into ‘things’ — couldn’t be stopped. Heidegger believed that the logical end of Western thought (philosophy which had confused being(s) with Being) was the ‘thingification’ of man, and if a new way of thought wasn’t discovered that didn’t confuse being with Being, humans would lose their humanity. Hence, Heidegger was after a new kind of thinker and a new kind of thinking, but unfortunately Heidegger never figured out how to engage with ‘Being as Being’. Being and Time went unfinished, and though his career arose to some of the most profound thought in history, he didn’t accomplish his goal.
Heidegger was looking to draw a distinction between thinking and perceiving, and the new way of thinking he was searching for was perception. The perceiver is the one who ‘let’s Being Be’, while the thinker translates ‘Being into being(s)’. In a sense, it was Heidegger’s very search for ‘Being as Being’ that concealed Being behind being(s): Heidegger encountered Being until he started thinking about It. To think is to objectify and/or ‘thingify’: to think is to ‘pull out’ phenomena from the world into a singularity that never exists (as such). If I think about a book (as ‘book’), I ‘pull it out’ of the atoms that compose it, the context/oneness of the room and table it rests upon, its ‘namelessness’, etc. — I ‘pull out’ a being from Being (I ‘pull out’ a ‘Being as being’ from ‘Being as Being’). If I perceive a book though, I perceive ‘Being Being’.
The human who is aware of the distinction between thinking and perceiving is the human whose perception transforms his or her thinking. Perception was the ‘new way of thought’ that Heidegger was after, yet perception without thinking is meaningless. Though ‘Being as being(s)’ ‘thingifies’, it also gives ‘Being as Being’ meaning. Humans need both: without one, humans lose the other. Humans need Being to ‘be’ meaningful; otherwise, though humans may avoid ‘thingification’, they will stand alienated.
69.1 Heidegger claimed he was ‘preparing the way for the new way of thinking’, though humanity wasn’t there yet. Heidegger also admitted that, though he knew it was necessary, he didn’t know how to escape ‘Being as being’ into ‘Being as Being’. Heidegger also claimed that philosophy needed a different mood, which Heidegger knew but couldn’t put into words. That mood is perception, which entails an ‘openness to Being’. To describe perception is to think: the experience of ‘letting Being Be’ is only that — an experience. Achieving pure perception is up to humans, for it is up to humans to ‘let Being Be’. When successful, Heidegger proposed that ‘maybe then the last God will come’, but he wasn’t sure if that would be when humanity was saved or destroyed.
69.2 Heidegger, in writing to demolish metaphysics, appeared to be engaging in metaphysics. When so critiqued, Heidegger claimed that he was going back ‘into the ground’ of metaphysics in order to escape it; furthermore, Heidegger could claim against such a critic that the reason Heidegger’s thinking appeared metaphysical is because the critic was still ‘thinking metaphysically’ and failing to engaging in ‘new thinking’.
Similarly, perception ‘appears’ as thinking when thought (and written) about, as Being ‘appears’ as being(s) when conceptualized. Yet perception is thought about (at least here) in order to define itself from thinking and to so escape thinking, as Heidegger engaged in metaphysics to escape metaphysics. The reason perception seems like thinking is because the act of ‘thinking about perception’ rather than ‘engaging in perception’ is the act which translates perception into thinking. As Being can only Be as Being, so perception can only be itself in (the experience of) perception.
As Heidegger went back ‘into the ground’ of metaphysics to escape it, so this work digs ‘into the ground’ of thought to do the same. And as one could not say Heidegger was engaging in metaphysics without thinking in the very way Heidegger wrote against, so one cannot think against perception without failing to hold the distinction between thinking and perception that this paper deems necessary.
As the one who fails to ascent to Being is the one who continues to metaphysically ascent to being(s), so the one who fails to ascent to the distinction between thinking and perceiving still conflates the two together in thought. To claim that the distinction between thinking and perceiving is incorrect requires engaging in thought, which is engage in the ‘Being as being’ –ness which must be overcome. Furthermore, one can only say that perception isn’t the ‘new thought’ Heidegger wanted by engaging in the ‘old thought’ that Heidegger was against.
To deny the distinction between ‘Being as Being’ and ‘Being as being(s)’ is to engage in the metaphysics which conceals ‘Being as Being’.
To deny the distinction between thinking and perceiving is to engage in the thinking which conceals perception.
Humans seem setup for irony.
69.3 Thinking is the act which translates Being into being(s).
Perception is the act which lets Being Be (unto the perceiver).
And the transformation of thinking by perception is to escape metaphysics.
69.4 To give ‘Being as Being’ meaning is to give ‘Being as Being’ being. Without being, ‘Being as Being’ is Transcendent. Though transforming ‘Being as Being’ into being(s) risks ‘thingification’, without such an act of transposition, ‘Being as Being’ is forever Transcendent of humans, and that Transcendence, in its unrealizable-ness, alienates humans (like a God-Who-Is-Absent yet Exists and is necessary to know for humans to be human). To say humans require meaning is to say humans require being, and yet it is this very desire for meaning which can changes humans into ‘things’ if not directed toward the realization of ‘Being as Being’ (and if the distinction between thinking and perception is missed). By grasping the importance of perception and transforming thinking, not only does one open themselves for ‘Being to Be’, but one also determines how to think and engage with ‘Being as being(s)’ in a way that avoids ‘thingification’. In a sense, the grasping of ‘Being as Being’ is to evolve ‘Being as being(s)’.
69.5 What-Is-perceived Is Being; what-is-thought is being. In a sense, being doesn’t exist: it is a kind of nothingness humans travel through ‘toward’ Being. Reaching Being necessitates existential crises. It could be said that being is a nothingness that exists only in relation to Being, as the space between two cups only exists because of the presence of the two cups that ‘frames it’. In this regard, it is humans that create nothing, for it is humans that conceptualize being(s) from Being into being-ness. In a sense, humans are anti-gods: while God Creates from nothing, humans create nothing from Something.
That said, there is no such thing as nothing (by definition): to say ‘being is nothingness’ is to use the term ‘nothing’ in a relative sense. If I were to stand very close to a painting and only see a section of it, that section ‘as a painting unto itself’ wouldn’t exist — such would be a kind of nothingness. However, if I backed away from the painting and saw the whole of it, I would realize the section was something insomuch as it was part of the bigger work. The ‘section as a painting’ would be a kind of non-being, while the ‘section as a part of a whole’ would be (a thing). Likewise, ‘being as being’ is a kind of nothingness, while ‘Being as being’ is (a thing). The difference between experiencing ‘the section as a painting’ versus ‘the section as part of a whole’ is orientation and perspective: the difference is where the viewer stands. Likewise, the difference between ‘being as nothing’ and ‘Being as being’ is the orientation and mind of the person: the difference is the knowing of the viewer (of the distinction between thinking and perceiving).
Being(s) only exists in the ground of Being: being doesn’t exist as simply being, though being arises in thought as if there were no Being. Hence, being arises ‘as nothing’, though nothing is an impossibility. The arising of ‘nothing’ is the hiding of Being.
Since Being is hidden by its unveiling in being(s)/nothing(s), Being is encountered in irony. To be ‘toward’ Being is to be oriented for irony. The more Being the being, the more irony undergone. Furthermore, beings are manifestations of Being who are ‘toward’ Being, yet it is the very being of these begins which hides Being as begin(s) unveil(s) Being. A being is ‘an unveiling and hiding of Being’; hence, being(s) are ironic in nature. To ask ‘to be or not to be?’ is to ask ‘irony or not?’.
This line of thought will be expanded upon in later works.
69.6 Realizing that the act of thinking concealed Being, Heidegger decided to think about Being coming to being rather than the other way around. This resulted in Heidegger being interested in poetry and art, for Heidegger viewed the coming of the muse unto the artist as the coming and unveiling of Being unto being. In creativity, then, a person ‘stands between’, shepherding Being into actuality.
The greatest manifestation of creativity is ‘flow’. In flow, the right brain takes over and a person enters a state of pure focus that seems to transcend time. In a sense, one could associate right brain thinking with Being and left brain thinking with being, as one could also associate flow with pure perception.
Creativity emerges often from ‘daydreaming’, a state of perception: it is from a suspension of thinking that ‘new thinking’ emerges. When a new idea emerges from perception, thinking then moves in to actualize this new idea. Homage is paid to ‘Being as Being’, and more such homage is given as the person then, in humility, accepts his or her limitations in ‘Being as being’ and actualizes the ‘glimmer of Being’ into being(s). The problem isn’t so much that humans can only exist in a state of ‘Being as being’ as it is a fail to recognize the distinction between ‘Being as Being’ and ‘Being as being’. In creativity, proper homage is given.
In a way, flow, where thinking and perception seem to fuse, is the ‘new thought’ Heidegger sought, hoping to turn back the ‘thingification’ of the world which he believed Western Philosophy had ushered in (by confusing ‘being(s)’ with Being). Ironically though, flow, which gives rise to creativity, also gives rise to inventions and new technologies which cause the objectification Heidegger wanted to stop. Furthermore, technology, which causes ‘thingification’, also expands possibility and lessens labor. What increases the quality of life is that which objectifies humans into things.
To Heidegger’s defense, it doesn’t seem he was against technology so much as he viewed it as a sign that Being was being ignored. To objectify is to treat Being as being(s), and Heidegger believed, for example, that paving roads for cars was to view landscapes as things to be civilized rather than experiences to be underwent. Heidegger seems to have been right in this assessment, for with the rise of technology has rose alienation. Yet without the production of technology, the artifex class would shrink and the civilization would collapse, torn apart by Marx’s ‘material dialectic’ (as touched on “The Creative Concord”).
Perhaps it is not so much technology that is the problem as it is the thinking that generates and proceeds from technology. Due to the structuring, dichotomizing, and/or ‘veiling’ of thinking, it is already natural for beings to forget ‘the question of Being’ amongst being(s) (without even realizing it), and it seems that technology makes that forgetting easier while also distracting us from that forgetting (placing us in a state of ‘distracted from distraction by distraction’, to allude to T.S. Eliot). However, this isn’t because technology is innately bad, but because humans are naturally ‘forgetful’. This is fortunate: if technology were fundamentally flawed, the only way to save people from alienation would be to shrink the artifex: the collapse of civilization wouldn’t just be probable, but inevitable.
As thinking makes us think of things as ‘things to be used’, so metaphysics makes us view the world as that which humans have ‘dominion over’ (not as stewards, but as lords). Thinking ‘thingifies’. Thinking results in economists viewing the economy as ‘a thing to be controlled’ rather than ‘that which we should (guide into) letting be’, in teachers viewing education as ‘a thing to be bestowed’ versus ‘an organic emergent’, in parents viewing children as ‘things to be kept safe’ versus ‘shepherds of Being who must Be/be’. Thinking makes humans biased toward ‘taking initiative and/or control’ from ‘creating an environment in which phenomena can grow/be themselves’. In this sense, thinking and freedom are at odds. For freedom, ‘new thinking’ is needed, which is glimpsed in flow, where thinking and perception fuse. Considering this, an artifex, to stay an artifex, needs to grasp the distinction between thinking and perceiving.
We must learn to generate technologies without losing ourselves, as we must engage in metaphysics without objectifying reality. We need a metaphysics that opens us to Being, as we need technology that makes us more human, not less. The idea of perception will help.
Perhaps technology will ultimately save us from technology, as Heidegger’s metaphysics may ultimately save us from metaphysics. Perhaps, in the end, technology will dig into the ground of ‘thingification’ in order to ‘push out’ from it, as Heidegger dug into the ground of metaphysics to escape through it. Perhaps the end of what increases our quality of life through ‘thingification’ will be the overcoming of things.
69.7 It may be the case that faith is to reason what perception is to thinking, and that to argue for faith (well) is to step from thought to perception.
69.8 These thoughts on Heidegger arose like the realization of the identity of ‘the third on the road to Emmaus’: I wrote “On Thinking and Perceiving”, and then, upon returning to Heidegger, ‘a spirit flared up within me’, and I recognized perception.
69.9 These notes on Heidegger were deeply informed by Professor Mary-Jane Rubenstein, as found in “Heidegger on Being & Ontotheology” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YqDU1W1jk4. Professor Rubenstein proves it’s sometimes hard to tell who’s more brilliant: Heidegger, or the people who explain Heidegger.
70. The early Wittgenstein believed that the problems of philosophy could be solved if we learned to understand the logic of language. To him, thought followed linguistic structures, so if we learned to speak clearly, we would also learn to think clearly. This would enable us to receive the philosophical answers to the questions that have troubled us for so long.
Even if this is true, this would only dissolve or solve the philosophical questions that apply to thought, but not perception. To map out the structure of language may map out the way we think about the world, but not how we perceive the world, which must remain beyond thought as mysterious and even mystical.
To use Wittgenstein’s metaphor, language cannot be ‘laid against reality like a ruler’; rather, language can only be laid ‘like a ruler’ against one phenomenon in reality at a time while disregarding all the others. As I can only think about the window before me while I perceive much more, so language can only ‘lay a ruler’ against one thing. Like thought, this abstracts me out of the world. In a sense, Wittgenstein sought to deconstruct the language of this realm I abstract myself into, created by the act of thinking and language itself. However, as the later Wittgenstein realized, not all language functions the same or is about the same ‘realm’: there are many different language ‘games’ (as he called them).
According to Wittgenstein, what cannot be said we must remain silent about, but that doesn’t mean those things don’t exist. Though we cannot think about pure perception itself or talk about it, this doesn’t mean perception doesn’t exist or that it doesn’t give rise to certain philosophical problems. Philosophy consists of both questions which must be answered in thought and questions that must be answered in perception. The questions which can be answered in perception are those which we cannot think about, yet thought can help us know where to perceive even though we must leave thought behind upon entering that space.
To talk about philosophical inquires which can only be perceived is nonsense, and Wittgenstein was right to pursue such a line of thought. However, since humans both think and perceive, to deconstruct ‘the philosophy of thought’ will not bring wholeness to beings who also must wrestle with ‘the philosophy of perception’. To talk about the limits of language as a way to ‘point out’ the nature of perception is how language and thought can both help us articulate the silence which Wittgenstein wanted us to remain in.
71. To think about perceiving is to use thinking as Heidegger used metaphysics to ‘come out of’ and/or ‘reform’ metaphysics. The act is to help us understand what perception is and to enable us to it is to think about thinking ‘in light of perceiving’ versus ‘in light of thought’. It is easy to think of thoughts as representing a dimension in the world, when in fact they represent a dimension humans ‘lay over’ the world (which they perceive). Thoughts are real, but not real in the same way the world is real unto itself. By grasping the distinction between perceiving and thinking, we grasp these two dimensions of the world that appear as one (in thought) to humans. In ‘hiding’ perception in the act of thinking about it, though we seem to ignore it, the act enables us to ‘unveil’ to ourselves the world we’ve always been staring upon.
72. There is a ‘no’ inherent in being: if I think about a tree, I am suddenly confronted with my inability to know the ‘tree as the tree is unto itself’. To think about the tree is to confront a limit. Yet if I just perceive the tree, I experience no such limit: the ‘no’ only arises when I think, and in that moment, it seems as if the ‘no’ is always present, when it is only present in the act of thinking itself.
73. The distinction between ‘thinking’ and ‘perceiving’ I believe is helpful for understanding Reason and Existenz by Karl Jaspers: simply associate ‘the reasoned’ with ‘the thought’ and ‘the existenz’ with ‘the perceived’.
74. In Jayber Crow, on reading and interpreting books, Wendell Berry writes:
‘Persons attempting to find a ‘text’ in this book will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a ‘subtext’ in it will be banished; persons attempting to explain, interpret, explicate, analyze, deconstruct, or otherwise ‘understand’ it will be exiled to a desert island in the company of only other explainers.’
Found in many places (The Truth in Painting by Derrida comes to mind), why does this line of thought strike us as having truth to it? I would argue that the thought is hinting at the reality of perception and thought’s inability to fully ‘capture’ the perceived. The paradox is that this line of thought is trying to translate into thought a truth of perception that can only be fully experienced in perception, but not necessarily understood. ‘We can know more than we can tell’, as Michael Polanyi put it.
75. In line with the thought presented in “A is A” by O.G. Rose, to think is to create (an) ‘A is A’, and so that which ‘points to’ ‘ ‘(A ≠ A) = (A ≠ A)’ (without B)’ — in thinking, ‘the is’ and ‘the is not’ arise together, two-sides of the same coin. However, in the act of perceiving, there is no ‘A is A’, per se — there is only That-Which-Exists-Existing, though in no meaningful sense, since it cannot be thought of without perception being impeded. This isn’t to say That-Which-Exists is meaningless, but that in the act of perceiving (and so not ‘coloring over it’ with thinking), That-Which-Exists cannot be considered meaningfully (at least in terms of thought). The ‘A is A’ and the ‘ ‘(A ≠ A) = (A ≠ A)’ (without B)’ arise together in the act of thinking (like ‘being’ and ‘Being’), and vanish together in the act of perceiving. To think of them though is to separate them, and yet they cannot be separated. To think is to ironize.
When I think ‘a cup is a cup’, I transposition the phenomenon into ‘what it isn’t’, for it is only ‘a cup’ relative to me (and those who share my scope). Hence, when it comes to the question of identity, identity is never that which is recognized or realized: identity is always that which is created (by thought). There is no ‘A is A’ in That-Which-Exists (at least not beyond the ‘A Is A’ of ‘Existence Is Existence’). When I think/realize/create ‘A is A’, I ‘lay’ the ‘A is A’ over Existence-Existing — I ‘lay’ ‘A is A’ over That-Which-Isn’t-(the)-‘A is A’. To think, hence, is to generate contradiction — contradiction that necessarily appears as non-contradiction (as ‘A is A’) — and the existential tension created by this fact should motive all of us in life to be constantly self-critical. For what we think is always, to some degree, false — the thought is never utterly equivalent to the perceived, the ‘A is A’ never utterly encompasses Existence-Existing — and yet what we think always presents itself as true. The truth of what we think hides us from its falsity.
76. The act in which we learn something about (insert) is the act in which something is hidden from us about (insert). To think is to unveil/hide.
77. Thought singularizes, threatening discernment in a discerning act.
78. Jonathan Haidt writes in The Righteous Mind that ‘when a group of people make something sacred, the members of the cult lose the ability to think clearly about it’.A Considering this, the act of focusing and thinking about a given thing may make it ‘practically sacred’, for we in focusing on a thing ‘practically act’ as if the thing is the most important thing above all else, a thing that exists in a manner that makes it seem as if other things don’t exist by comparison. The act of trying to know a thing makes the thing difficult to know.
AHaidt, Jonathan. The Righteous Mind. New York, NY: First Vintage Books Edition, 2013: 34.
79. Thinking is (‘toward’) atomism.
80. The balance between philosophy and literature is like the balance between thinking and perception. Full life requires for thinking to be informed by perception and for perception to be informed by thinking; likewise, philosophy and literature must inform one another.
80.1 When I look upon a table, I naturally ‘focus in’ on one of the objects; I don’t naturally ‘focus out’. The direction of thinking is ‘inward’, not ‘outward’.
81. Thinking in its nature must slice up the world like the sundial Plautus lamented: it is necessarily ‘violent’.
82. In his book The Divine Magician, Peter Rollins describes a metaphysical dynamic that may also describe a dynamic between thinking and perceiving. On Adam, Eve, and the Tree of Knowledge, Rollins argues that it was God’s prohibition against eating from the tree that made Adam and Eve ‘think that the fruit would satisfy them’.A Similarly, it is perhaps because thinking ‘veils’ perception that we come to believe that an ‘objective’ understanding or experience of the world would enable us to know truth, make us happy, help us live in ‘pure being’ or nirvana, and so on. Perhaps what we perceive is the ‘sacred object’ that our thinking veils: perhaps the dynamic Rollins describe is built into us.
‘The obstacle creates what it seems to block’, Rollins warns: likewise, whatever we may think we could find in ‘pure being’ exists precisely because our thinking keeps us from it.B The ‘removal of the dark veil doesn’t expose a presence on the other side (the sacred-object), but rather exposes us to a traumatic absence’; similarly, if we were free of thinking, there would perhaps be nothing (as there always was — there wouldn’t even be nothing there to disappear).C ‘The fantasy is that th[e] gap can be abolished’ between thinking and perceiving, and perhaps that is the same fantasy unknowingly entertained by numerous thinking ranging from Heidegger to Buddha.D Perhaps that is a fantasy we intentionally ‘sustain in order to prevent ourselves from being disillusioned’; (un)fortunately, sustaining it is built right into the very way we exist in the world.E
ARollins, Peter. The Divine Magician. New York, NY: First Howard Books, 2015: 15.
BRollins, Peter. The Divine Magician. New York, NY: First Howard Books, 2015: 39.
CRollins, Peter. The Divine Magician. New York, NY: First Howard Books, 2015: 65.
DRollins, Peter. The Divine Magician. New York, NY: First Howard Books, 2015: 67.
ERollins, Peter. The Divine Magician. New York, NY: First Howard Books, 2015: 40.
83. We need to be abstracted to be whole.
84. Focus necessarily leaves out, and thought is always focused.
85. The ‘oneness’ perceived is an ‘image and likeness’ of the singularities thought, but not the same — confusing and revealing.
86. On Gödel: the Liar’s Paradox occurs in thought but not perception.
87. To speak is to create a dichotomy; to eradicate this dichotomy, further speaking is required. If I say ‘you are judgmental’ (to allude to “Self-Delusion, the Toward-ness of Evidence, and the Paradox of Judgment”), one could argue that I am being judgmental. However, in this hypothetical situation, I’m only having to make this judgment because you erected the judgment-dichotomy in the first place. Judgment created it, and judgment is required to eradicate it. When one judges, in a way, it is as if one creates a language which only judgment can communicate with. If a person judges, to get that person to stop, it requires judgment, for that is the only language the individual can understand within the dichotomy or framework the person has created and put his or her self within.
Likewise, if a person makes an absolute truth claim, it requires the absolute claim that ‘truth is relative’ to break down. The second statement is inherently contradictory, but if truth is indeed relative, than the claim ‘truth is truth’ or ‘truth is absolute’ (which would translate into ‘relativism is absolute’) is also contradictory. It requires a contradiction to correct the contradiction. The absolute statement ‘truth is relative’ is necessary to make the dichotomy of ‘truth is absolute’ self-efface. To obliterate a dichotomy, one must erect an anti-dichotomy (as if a martyr or sacrifice) to ‘close the loop’, per se.
Yet, that said, though the statement ‘truth is absolute’ is effaced by the statement ‘truth is relative’ (which corrects/counters the dichotomizing statement which that dichotomizing statement needs to transcend back into ‘pure perception’), this doesn’t mean ‘Truth Isn’t Absolute’, only that a phrase like ‘there are no absolutes’, though inherently contradictory, isn’t inherently wrong (since it is only necessary to efface the dichotomy erected by the statement ‘truth is absolute’).
In this same line of thought, it could be asked why do I write if language incepts and dichotomizes (see “Inception, Discrimination, and Freedom”)? Don’t I fuel the problem? As thinking, which divides one from perception, is necessary for perception to obtain meaning and freedom, so language, which threatens to abstract us into dichotomies, is necessary to transcend dichotomies. Likewise, an absolute statement is necessary to transcend absolutes (into ‘Absolute-ness’ (‘A = A’-ness)), as judgment is necessary to transcend judgment (into ‘Non-Judgmental-ness’ or ‘Pure Assessment’-ness). Clearly reality is ‘up-side down’, in some strange way. Perhaps ‘pointing to’ this paradoxical and contradictory situation is the function of the term ‘fallen’.
Since we are all standing on our heads, we must ‘stand on our heads’ in the eyes of others to stand right side up.