(Essay) Giving Sense to the Mind and Human Bias

Audio Summary

“Sensualization,” a term coined in this paper, is the giving of sensual or “sense-able” representation to the metaphysical. If I think “I’m hungry,” to say “I’m hungry” is to carry out sensualization. Likewise, if I feel worried and carry a worried look on my face, I sensualize my fear (via a kind of “dark speech,” as discussed in “On Words and Determinism” by O.G. Rose). Ideas and feelings are metaphysical, and unless I sensualize them, I’m the only one who knows about their existence (within me), while everyone else is left in ignorance. If I have an idea about how to improve a house but don’t tell anyone, I don’t sensualize my idea but rather leave it as an idea. Humans are orientated to sensualize versus keep the metaphysical unsensualized, and when sensualization is a good thing, this pays off, but when it is a bad thing, this orientation (and bias) works against our discernment and development.

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Audio Summary

To be human is to sensualize. If we think about going to a restaurant and go, we sensualize the idea. If we think about writing a book and write it, we make our idea something that is now real in the same way our bodies are real; beforehand, the reality of the story was different from the reality of the body. To sensualize is to translate one reality into another.

Not all actions entail sensualization, such as when a person acts thoughtlessly. I don’t usually think about brushing my teeth; rather, I just do it, and hence no metaphysical dimension is translated into the real. Sensualization, distinct from just unconscious action (like instincts), requires thought that I choose to “translate into reality.” Choice is necessary in sensualization, for otherwise a person acts only thoughtlessly (which isn’t inherently bad). Without a choice to translate the metaphysical into the physical, there is action but no sensualization.1

Music for Reading or Audio

Sensualization is a choice, though what we feel and think is not always up to us. We don’t simply feel something and express it; we feel something and then choose whether or not we express it. The same goes with thoughts. We don’t always choose what we feel or think: thoughts and feelings often appear before we even realize they are there. However, we do choose if we sensualize them (though this might be easier for some than others). Sometimes, sensualizing them is a good thing, but not always.

What we sensualize can be transferred to what is outside of ourselves (to where it can be externally experienced and interpreted). If I make a sad face, I transfer my sadness to that which is outside of me; if I give a speech about an idea of mine, I place my idea in the world. Once shown, I then make it possible for people to respond to what I sensualized, responses of which may result in a transformation of what I think and feel. In this way, the physical can dialectically inform the metaphysical, as the metaphysical can inform the physical. Sensualization is what makes that dialectic possible.

To sensual is to create “evidence” of one’s metaphysical state. If you sensualize your sadness, you create evidence that (metaphysically) you are sad. Of course, you can be happy and look like you are sad, so not all evidence is reliable, but in this case, a happy look would be evidence that you are trying to hide your sadness (though perhaps only you could know that this is the proper case to use the evidence of your face “toward”). Hence, all sensualization is evidence creation, though perhaps only you can know of the metaphysical “case” the sensualization is evidence “toward” (in line with the thought presented in “Self-Delusion, the Toward-ness of Evidence, and the Paradox of Judgment” by O.G. Rose).

Conversely, if you don’t sensualize your metaphysical states, you don’t create evidence or reason for others to believe or think you hold a certain metaphysical state. If you’re sad but don’t show your sadness, then people typically have no way of knowing that you are sad. This can be both good and bad. If you are bottling up emotions and letting people walk all over you, your failure to sensualize your feelings can be to your detriment (though how you should sensualize your feelings is very important lest you be misunderstood). However, if you sensualize your sadness in order to make others feel guilty and to manipulate them into doing what you want them to do, it would be better for you not to sensualize your feelings. But only you can know.

If you think you are a great athlete and win the championship, you create evidence that your metaphysical dimension was accurate. As humans are constantly sensualizing, humans are constantly “proving” their metaphysical dimensions. Yet you were a great athlete before you won the championship, though that couldn’t have been said for sure. Sensualization creates evidence, but it doesn’t make something true, though it would perhaps be impossible to know some things as true without it. In other words, if you’re sad and don’t sensualize it, you’re still sad, even though others might not be able to know that the premise “you’re sad” is true. They can believe it’s true, as someone can ascent to the truth that someone is a great athlete before that person wins any championships, but that person can’t “know” it’s true, per se. And because humans are primed against uncertainty and what they cannot “know,” humans are primed against the “unsensualized metaphysical.”

II

Humans are primed to sensualize regardless whether it’s best. Humans are external beings more naturally than they are internal beings, though that isn’t to say some humans aren’t more internal than others (there are introverts and extroverts). It isn’t possible for humans to react to what they don’t physically or metaphysically experience, and when it comes to the minds of others, humans only truly experience them if they are sensualized. A person may guess, worry, predict, etc. what another is thinking, but though in the presence of the other it may “seem like: one experiences that individual’s metaphysical dimension, one is actually only experiencing his or her own metaphysical dimension interpreting/considering/etc. another’s. No person experiences the metaphysical dimension of another directly or “actually”: a person only “seems to” through his or her own metaphysical dimension. Hence, if we are to actually “know” others, they must sensualize, and being communal beings, humans are orientated and required to sensualize. Otherwise, it’s doubtful humans would prosper or even survive.

Sensualization is sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes inconsequential. It depends. However, since we are primed to always sensualize, we are primed to sensual what is good, bad, and inconsequential, when it would be beneficial for us to learn how to avoid sensualizing the bad. Our bias for sensualization is linked with our bias for uncertainty. We are creatures who prefer comfort and knowing what is going to happen: it is a survival mechanism. Lacking comfort and not knowing what will happen, our physical and mental wellbeing feel at stake.

We feel safe when we have control; without control, we feel at risk. We don’t control what is uncertain to us, while what strikes us as concrete — even if we don’t directly control it —

strikes as that which we know where to place in our mental storage space, and so it is controllable insomuch as we know how and where to “compartmentalize it” within ourselves, hence saving us from any mental or ideological danger. That said, not everyone is equally against uncertainty: some individuals are excited by potentials, while others, no so much. Yet even those who like potentials do not like “too much” uncertainty (though what constitutes “too much” is relative to each individual): even those people like to know their laptop will work tomorrow morning and where they will sleep and eat that evening. People have different levels of tolerance for “the unknown,” but no one likes total uncertainty. It is simply not in us, and arguably we couldn’t survive in a totally uncertain world.

What is concrete is that which is certain, while ideas, emotions, etc., not being concrete, strike us as uncertain. Hence, the metaphysical dimensions of people strike us as out of our control and so threatening (to some degree), if not to our physical wellbeing, to our mental health and ideologies (or “our lenses through which we understand, and operate in, the world”). Furthermore, we are aware that others cannot know our metaphysical dimension, and we don’t have control over what they think about our metaphysical side. Hence, between people, there is uncertainty, and a feeling of helplessness which we are primed to try to overcome. Sensualization helps us overcome that uncertainty, and so we are primed to sensualize, even when it isn’t best.

Yet, at the same time we don’t want uncertainty, we also want sensualization in the way we want it. We are primed to sensualize and to experience sensualization in a controlled way: we don’t want all sensualization, but we do want that which is in our self-interest (though that isn’t to say that what we think is always in our self-interest). If we know someone is about to ask a question we don’t want to hear, we may change the subject, and if we know someone is about to start talking about politics, we can suddenly have a meeting to attend. Both of these examples are instances in which we speak to avoid the metaphysical dimension of another before it is sensualized. We want to be able to plausibly pretend we are ignorant.

Before ideas, we are at risk. Before Atheism, our Christianity is endangered, and vice-versa; before someone’s opinion of us, our opinion of ourselves is jeopardized; before someone’s sadness, the happiness of our vacation is threatened. Ideas can of course strengthen our physical, mental, and ideological wellbeing, but in the moment before ideas are sensualized, we cannot know if they will be good or bad. And being primed to focus on the bad (as a person will notice one bad thing that happened in a day versus the hundred good things), when we don’t have (a sense of) control, we are more likely to want to keep ideas metaphysical than face them. The potential danger is more real to us than the potential benefit.

When we know people disagree with us, we may do everything in our power to keep them from sensualizing their views, whether those views be religious, familiar, etc. In this instance, we don’t want others to sensualize, but we do want to sensualize in a manner that keeps the sensualization of others from occurring; furthermore, we want to sensualize in a manner that assures us that those we don’t want to sensualize will keep their metaphysical dimensions to themselves. Not doing anything can feel too risky before the possibility of their sensualization, and so, giving ourselves (a sense of) control, we may sensualize and act in a way that keeps the sensualization of others from coming unto us (so that we can continue to pretend to others and ourselves that we are ignorant). Hence, we still want sensualization (sensualization that gives us control), but sensualization that is about control can often be sensualization we should abstain from, especially when it fosters control over others.

III

Sensualization is about controlling how our metaphysics and physics align and benefit us best. Not all control is bad: having control of a car, for example, is a good thing. Positive thinking, when it controls our reality “toward” being positive, is likewise beneficial. Sensualization is about controlling what happens in our reality, rather independently or collectively. If we are thinking about a topic and talk about it, we are controlling the reality we experience, and in this sense, all choice is a kind of control, for to choose is to control what we experience. However, like sensualization, not all choice/control is a bad thing, though some of it can be: some choice can paralyze us (as Barry Schwartz discusses), as some control can make people dislike us (when we are too overbearing).2

Sensualization can be a mixture of the good and the bad. Wanting to win a championship so that people think we are a talented athlete, for example, can help us strive to achieve greatness, but at the same time, it can make us dependent on others for affirmation. Wanting to see others smile, we can act cheery, but also grow discouraged if those smiles don’t come while simultaneously making others dependent on us for their happiness, rather than they learn to be happy within themselves. It depends on the situation, but regardless, sensualization always entails a kind of control (as does choice). Not all control is bad, but since we have a disposition to control, we are prone to control when we shouldn’t. When this disposition helps us control what we should control, it’s a good thing, but when it motivates us to control what we shouldn’t, it works against us.

At the same time, aren’t there many who avoid control for bad reasons, who prefer for others to tell them what to do? Who view freedom as a burden? Indeed, but even these individuals act the way they do in order to have control over their lives. They give up control over their material circumstances in order to feel like they have control over their mental, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing. The man who has someone else order for him at a restaurant gives up control over what he will eat so that he doesn’t have to think about it or feel uncertain before all the choices. The man gives up material choice in exchange for mental control.

Humans give up control for other kinds of control. If a man shows up at your door and threatens to kill you unless you give him your money, you give up control of your money in exchange for (more) control over how long you live. If the government offers you benefits if you pay higher taxes, you hand over control of your money now so that you can have more control of your material wellbeing later. No human gives up control by choice without gaining some other kind of control in exchange (though perhaps it is something only they define as control and/or freedom). Those who avoid control and choice only appear to avoid them: rather, they exchange them for other kinds of control and choice. No human wants to live totally without control, and those who have chosen to give up control are those who have chosen to exchange it for other kinds of control. However, sensualization or not, it’s not always easy to tell which kinds of control.

IV

Primed against uncertainty and lacking control, we sensualize, yet also primed against encountering certainty that threatens our physical, mental, and ideological wellbeing, we avoid sensualization, often using sensualization to do so. We want to be known (through sensualization) while preventing others from infringing upon who we are, who we think they are, and how we think the world is, which the metaphysical dimension(s) of others, whether they actually do or don’t, are feared and even assumed to threaten. And so we engage in complex games of sensualization, unveiling ourselves and our metaphysical dimension(s) in such a way that controls the “way the world is” to our liking. Ironically, we want to sensualize ourselves while preventing others from sensualizing themselves, unless they sensualize in a way that is too our benefit. And in this complex game, relationships form and crumble.

Sensualization gives us a sense of control, a sense that we can influence the physical world around us with our metaphysical dimensions. It also lets us feel as if we know what is going on within the people around us who contain selves we cannot access: when they smile, we feel we know they are happy; when they say “I want to go out tonight,” we feel as if we know what they want to do. When others sensualize, knowing what we are dealing with, we feel we have just a little more control over the uncertainty of life, and yet, at the same time, when others sensualize, we feel at risk: to gain a sense of control, it must be through the sensualization that endangers us. We must take a risk, and through our own sensualization, we try to manage risk best we can.

Sensualization gives us a sense of “seeing” the self behind the body — catching a glimmer of it — of making the uncertainty of others known to us (but again, we only want it known in a way that confirms what we want to think). Sensualization is complex: it is not simply about unveiling, but about having others unveil in a way we want and unveiling ourselves in such a way that people think about us as we want them to think about us. There’s a kind of “game theory” to sensualization, one that permeates everything we do.

We are primed to sensualize in a manner that is in our self-interest. Gaining control when faced with uncertainty benefits us, as does protecting and leaving parts of ourselves uncertain to others that we want to keep uncertain. There can be parts of ourselves that if people knew about, we couldn’t control what they thought about us, and so we leave those parts concealed, though that isn’t to say this is always wrong to do (nor does it mean that others don’t form ideas about us even if particular information is concealed). There are parts of us others just can’t understand: unveiling those parts would be like speaking in a foreign language to them. Keeping those parts of ourselves unsensualized avoids misunderstanding (and there would be no hope of understanding anyway until the other person learned a new language). An artist, for example, when dealing with an individual who thinks art is a waste of time, may keep his or her artistic passions hidden, not necessarily out of fear, but because the artist knows sensualizing them will only confuse the person who thinks art is a waste. The person isn’t ready for the artist, and needs to learn, gradually and slowly, “the language of art,” per se, before the person will be ready to handle experiencing the fullness of the artist.

V

Over sensualizing, as inflation devalues money, can devalue both unsensualized metaphysical states and their sensualized expression. For example, if we express emotion all the time, then the times we are emotional become less meaningful. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t express emotion, but that we shouldn’t inflate emotion. Also potentially problematic, primed to control uncertainty through complex, dynamic, and organic “games” of sensualization, we are primed to fall into errors that we should avoid. To start, if we successfully learn that we can sensualize and make people around us do what we want, we become incentivized to sensualize in this way regularly, which is not always best. If, for example, a person learns that every time he looks sad, everyone in his family caters to his every whim and stops questioning what he wants, then the person will, every time the family disagrees with him or he doesn’t get his way, sensualize his sadness. People naturally feel “sad” when things don’t go as they like, but they don’t have to choose to sensualize that sadness; however, if they learn it is in their self-interest to do so, they will sensualize often, and if others cater to it, the sensualization will only get worse.

If we learn we can make people sensualize whenever we are curious about what is going on inside of their heads, we are incentivized to stimulate them to sensualize (even when it isn’t for the best), and if we get used to this, when we encounter someone not so primed to sensualize, we can become upset with or concerned about that person, feeling less in control. If people let us become familiar to their constant sensualization, we never have to learn to deal with uncertainty we cannot control, and this can make us act terribly when we inevitably do encounter uncertainty and what we cannot control. Furthermore, we are primed to train and incentive those around us to constantly sensualize (in a manner that is best for us), for that gives us more control and certainty.3 Ironically, such action, which we do to make ourselves stronger and more in control, actually makes us weaker, as air-conditioning can make a person be more affected by heat and medicine can weaken the immune system. Dependent on sensualization, we become more prone to “crack” when we encounter the realities, uncertainties, and problems of life. Others, by caving into sensualization, train others to “crack” and to be powerless before what they cannot grasp.

Another reason humans are primed to sensualize even when they shouldn’t is because they learn that by sensualizing, they can “frame situations,” per se, often in line with their self-interest. If a person is upset, for example, the person can let others know that he or she is upset by sensualizing it, which can then make others act in a way that the upset person wants. The person who asks others “Are you going to wear that?” to make another example, can make others change outfits. Such sensualization is not always bad, but it can be used to manipulate. “Framing a situation,” a person can say “I’m hungry,” and hence claim, indirectly, “I should have been fed already” and “this present moment is one in which I have been mistreated by the people around me.” Perhaps a person doesn’t mean to imply all this, but such are the potential implications of the phrase “I’m hungry” and others like it. However, if the person wants food, the person very well may intend to “frame the situation” as such.

Perhaps, to make another example, someone says “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” which would be for the person to sensualize their frustration. This phrase implies “this situation is one in which I have been mistreated,” and such a (metaphysical) “framing of the situation,” if the other person caters to it, will result in that other person apologizing and bending to the will of the sensualizer. This may train the other person to be weaker and apologetic, while training the sensualizer to always sensualize his or her frustration, for this gets the sensualizer what he or she wants (which, whenever someone is frustrated, is in essence what the person wants: to get what in not having causes frustration).

To sensualize creates a context in which a situation is understood. If I sensualize sadness, I am making a context in which the present moment is to be understood by myself and others as “one in which sadness is appropriate.” In others not being sad, I imply, either intentionally or unintentionally, that they should be sad as well. If I sensualize frustration, I create a context in which the present situation is to be understood as “one in which I am being wronged.” This can manipulate the behavior of others around me in my favor, while the person who feels frustration but doesn’t sensualize it doesn’t so manipulate (though the person may want to do so). Resisting this urge, the person may build character and force his or her self to learn to change the behavior of others through reason versus emotion.

If I sensualize frustration, I imply that you would be wrong not to be frustrated as well: I ‘frame’ how the situation should be understood. To not be frustrated is to then, in a way, rebel against me, and sensualization, as such, sets up the potential for conflict and disagreement, and so it would be best if it were avoided. On the other hand, just because someone doesn’t sensualize frustration, don’t assume that the person isn’t struggling with frustration. By extension, don’t assume the person who doesn’t respond with a similar emotion doesn’t care — “assume the best.” Where there is a lack of evidence of a metaphysical state, don’t assume the lack of that state if it will be to the determinant of your relationship with, and understanding of, another person.

Though we are primed to constantly sensualize, we must learn to control our natural tendencies, because what we think is in our self-interest sometimes is that which erodes our development and character. At the same time, we mustn’t think that unsensualized metaphysical states are less real than sensualized ones, and we mustn’t develop a bias to judge the existence of metaphysical states relative to the “evidence” we see. Failing to resist these natural tendencies, we may reward people who over-sensualize and punish those who develop self-control.

VI

Humans naturally give primacy to “sensualized sadness” over “unsensualized sadness,” for example, and this is a tendency we must resist. To the person experiencing it, unsensualized emotion is just as real as sensualized emotion, but if we think the emotion of those who sensualize it is more real than those who don’t, we may become discriminatory and incentivize people not to practice self-control. An important element of maturity is learning what to sensualize and what not to sensualize, and mature individuals will often sensualize less than others (practicing self-control), though at the same time, they may sensualize what helps bring out the best around them (such as joy).

If we believe unsensualized emotion is less real than what’s sensualized, we may not take as seriously the emotions of the mature and cater to the immature, rewarding people for not practicing self-control. We may also think mature individuals don’t feel emotion as strongly as those who sensualize it, thinking they have it easier than others, and so pity sensualizers, penalizing the mature. Worse yet, we may think mature individuals don’t feel anything or care about the people around them, never seeing enough emotion to prove they “have a heart.” We may judge such people wrongly, and in so doing, reward and incentive people to sensualize when it isn’t the best course of action. On the other hand, a sign of immaturity can be not speaking or acting when a person should: not sensualizing isn’t always the right thing to do or always a sign of maturity. There is a time and place for both; however, sensualizing being what we are primed for, there will probably be more problems with over-sensualizing then under-sensualizing.

The person who creates sensual representation(s) of his or her metaphysical states creates evidence that he or she is experiencing those metaphysical states to others, while the person who doesn’t create such evidence always leaves open the possibility the he or she isn’t undergoing anything metaphysical. Hence, when the person who doesn’t sensualize says “I do care,” for example, there may not seem to be any evidence that the person really does, in fact, care, and so we may be tempted to question the person. If we give into this temptation, we may hurt the person’s feelings, and if that person didn’t sensualize out of maturity, we punish the person for being mature, and indirectly claim it would be better if the person had less self-control. However, this isn’t to say it is always wrong to question, only that we must be careful to assume that sensualization the only valid standard by which to determine what is true. The unsensualized isn’t less real than the sensualized, though, as naturally sensual beings, we may be tempted to think so and even unintentionally discriminate.4

In closing, I am concerned that the culture, in being biased toward sensualization and rewarding sensualizers, might be making maturity and self-discipline irrational. We are rewarding what we should discourage. Given our “wiring” and nature, this mistake comes naturally, but it seems the more “visual” and “sensual” our culture becomes (via television, media, technology, etc.), the more difficult this mistake is to avoid. Worse yet, it is no longer being recognized that all sensualization isn’t good. Granted, there have perhaps been ages and cultures that overvalued under-sensualization, as past ages have been too critical of emotional expressions of men, for example. But it seems that we may be going too far in the other direction. I could be wrong, but regardless, we must be careful that our natural bias toward sensualization doesn’t lead us astray. Sensualization makes us human and makes it possible for us to be human together, but if we aren’t wise about how we use it, sensualization can tear us apart.

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Notes

1As discussed in “A is A” by O.G. Rose, all sensualization entails “temporary transcendence,” but not all “temporary transcendence” entails sensualization. To walk across a room is to translate a moment that was once “transcendent” of you into finitude and experience, but only if you thought about doing so do you also “sensualize” the idea of “walking to the other side of room” into reality. To write a book is to the make the existence of the book, once transcendent of you, non-transcendent, while simultaneously sensualizing the idea of the book into reality. However, there is no sensualization that occurs when a person thoughtlessly brushes his or her teeth, only a translating of the transcendent into the experienced.

1.1It is possible that something that defines humans from animals is that humans can sensualize while animals can only carry out “temporary transcendence.”

2Perhaps there is a part of us that would rather for things in the world to be either entirely good or entirely bad, for when they are both, we must think about them: we cannot easily categorize them and be finished with them. We must discern and spend more time than we would like on topics, and ultimately lack complete assurance that our discernment was right. Where there is discernment, there can be existential uncertainty, and this can leave us feeling worse than we would have if we simply “categorized and disposed.”

3In line with “Experiencing Thinking” by O.G. Rose, a reason people hold a bias against “high order complexity/causality” is because it cannot be readily sensualized. If I tell you I’m going to write a book, I cannot sensualize that book until I’ve finished writing it; until that moment, there is no “proof” that I will do what I said, nor can anyone see the thoughts in my head that will be written about, which would provide others reasons to believe I have something to write about. Hence, I present others with uncertainty that can make them uncomfortable and even combative.

Primed for “low order complexity” and sensualization, we are primed to live in such a way that enables us to accurately and easily sensualize ourselves to others. In other words, we are primed to do a job (for example) that we can easily explain to people (and that they will easily accept) when we are asked, “What do you do?” Rather than tell people we are artists, we are primed to tell them we work in a factory, per se. Similarly, culturally, we are likely biased in favor of extroverts over introverts, for extroverts more readily sensualize and translate “high order causality” into “low order causality” (though this in no way warrants thinking that introverts are somehow “better” than extroverts). Introverts, on the other hand, are difficult to grasp.

4The bias toward sensualization is perhaps behind the formation of “The Extrovert Ideal,” as warned about by Susan Cain in her book Quiet. How extroverts can be rewarded for sensualizing — even when they shouldn’t be — can be very discouraging for introverts, who can be punished for not sensualizing, even when avoid sensualization is the right thing to do.

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Additions

1. To act is to create histories. If every night, I eat a snack around 2AM, I can come to be known as someone “who eats snacks at 2AM.” From consistency, I acquire an identity. Considering this, to sensualize can be to create consistencies by which people “know” me and my world. If I enjoy philosophical conversations, from this consistency, people come to know me as “a philosopher,” and in a way, come to believe they can access my subjectivity. Thanks to the consistency, people can believe that I, in my subjectivity that only I can access, genuinely enjoy philosophy. The consistency gives others a sense of access to my consciousness, which is only truly accessible to me.

If you tell me that I don’t have to be home by any particular time, and for two years there isn’t a problem and then suddenly you’re upset at me for being late, because of the consistency that was established, I can feel betrayed, upset, hurt, and the like. This is because you betrayed the unspoken “rules” established by the consistency, and what other standard could I have possibly used (in the absence of direct speech) to know what I could and could not do then (unspoken) consistency?

Humans live an incredible percentage of their lives relative to metaphysical consistencies that are usually sensualized indirectly at best. Knowing this can help us keep from violating the “rules” established by a consistency, and also be aware of the kind of “rules” we are perhaps unintentionally establishing by consistently acting certain ways. Like “scripts” discussed in “Scripted” by O.G. Rose, consistencies are like game boards, and as we live, we are always creating new boards. The more consistently we live a certain way, the more a board is completed and a game upon that board instigated (perhaps without even our knowing it).

2. Graham Harman points out that because humans are treated like half of ontology due to the faulty “subject versus object” dichotomy (because only humans can be subjects), we consequently lack any good philosophy of animals. Instead, Harman wants to start off with an “object based” ontology, one that treats all entities equally as objects, which is valid, for though humans might be subjects, they are also objects (though humans might be minds, humans are also bodies). From this “equal playing field,” Harman suggests more interesting and useful ontologies can be developed about humans, animals, and things, ones that will deconstruct classical hierarchies that have caused stagnation in the field. Though I might be less eager to deconstruct subjectivity entirely, for if subjectivity didn’t exist, ontology wouldn’t be a consideration (subjectivity is the groundwork that makes ontology possible), I nevertheless don’t disagree that the “subject versus object” dichotomy has become a kind of “monotheory” that has hurt development in the field of ontology. Some “polytheorism” would be useful.

3. If a limb fell out of a tree and hit my right hand, my hand would move — it would be caused. However, if I were to reach over and pick up a cup, my hand would also move, but rather than simply be caused, it would also cause (the movement of the cup). Yes, my hand is caused by my mind to move, but my hand also causes: the picking up of the cup is a moment in which my right hand (is) caused/causes. Furthermore, my mind causes itself to cause my hand to cause and be caused — my mind is at its own mercy.

A rock cannot cause itself; only living things can be their own cause (arguably, the definition of “a living thing” is “that which can cause itself”). Yes, living things can also be caused — I can be nudged by a car and forced to stumble forward — but not only be caused: living things can also cause. Inanimate objects can only be caused while animate entities can cause and be caused.

To be free is to be your own cause: freedom is the capacity to cause versus only be caused. Freedom is expressed vividly in resistance: if a limb falls toward my hand and I brace for impact, I have shown that I have the freedom to stand against causality (suggesting I am not simply the product of causality). I can, in a sense, redirect causality, versus simply only be carried along whatever way causality carries (I can reroute the river versus only be carried by it, per se). This isn’t to say that humans have “total freedom,” but it is to say that humans aren’t “totally unfree” either. We are (un)free creatures.

To will freely is to a cause something into causality versus only be in causality. Since everything that is physical is causal, it is easy to believe nothing causes and is only caused: everything is “dressed” in determinism, per se. We are always in the river of causality, and the times it redirects and changes are so gradual and subtle that we rarely notice; relative to us, the river always continues straight ahead, carrying us along.

To be free is to cause oneself (in)to causality. To sensualize is to translate the metaphysical into the physical: it is to translate what the mind causes itself into a world of things that are caused. In this way, sensualization is evidence for free will. Abstractions do not exist in the world, and for humans to translate them into the world is to translate freedom into determinism (“a cause unto itself” into “the caused”). To sensualize is to add to “the domino series” of causality versus only be in “the domino series,” per se.

Sensualization is a free act. Yes, what is sensualized is caused insomuch as sensualization occurs in a sequence of “one after the other,” but it isn’t the case that just because something is in a sequence, it is determined and not free. Sequence doesn’t necessitate determinism, only an “appearance” and/or “outfit” of it. Something in a sequence may be determined, but not necessarily (further investigation would be required).

For humans, the mind is a cause unto itself that the body participates in (while in causality). To the degree an animal sensualizes is to the degree an animal is also free, and to the degree a human doesn’t sensualize is to the degree a human isn’t free (or at least cannot be said to be “meaningfully” free, for the line between determinism and freedom cannot be drawn). To the degree an animal thinks into causality (adding, redirecting, etc.) is to the degree an animal is “like a human,” and to the degree a human simply thinks in causality (participating, being carried along by, etc.) is to the degree a human is “not like a human.” Regardless the being though, to sensualize is to act freely.

2020 UNO Prize Finalist. The Write Launch. Iowa Review. Allegory Ridge. Streetlight. Ponder. Pidgeonholes. W&M Review. Poydras. www.ogrose.com

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