Thinking Here and Thinking There
The Transcendent Interplay of the Immanences of Memory and Imagination
The paper “On Thinking and Perceiving” by O.G. Rose drew a distinction between “taking in” the nearby bookcase (“pure perception”) and thinking about the bookcase, which creates the distinction between “my idea of the bookcase” and “the bookcase.” In this work, within the category of “thinking,” I would like to draw a distinction between “thinking here” and “thinking there” (though I cannot promise to maintain this language throughout all my works). This distinction arose in trying to consider the role of memory in thinking, which led me to seeing acts of imagination, creativity, and memory as examples of “thinking there,” beyond my immediate surroundings and experience, while considering the nearby bookcase is “thinking here.” If I can physically see, smell, hear, etc. it, then it is something I can “think here” about; if I cannot see, smell, hear, etc. it, then it is something I can “think there” about (I use the word “physical” here, because I can arguably “see” and “hear” things in my head). Ultimately, I think the language of “thinking here” and “thinking there” can help us understand how we are a strange and paradoxical point at which immanences (“closed systems”) interrelate to make possible intelligibility, meaning, and efficient action.
The distinction between “thinking here” and “thinking there” is based primarily on my physical senses, and yet didn’t Immanuel Kant teach us that senses are unreliable? And are there even such things like “here” and “now?” hopefully has been made clear throughout O.G. Rose, “thinking here” is always incomplete (though please note that this doesn’t mean it is wrong or has nothing to do with actuality: “wrong” and “incomplete” are not similes), but how do I know “thinking there” corresponds with anything actual (after all, I’m not “there” to tell, being “here”)? Extremely good questions, and certainly we cannot draw sharp lines between “presence” and “absence,” for everything “present” is not “completely present.” As all similarity entails difference (as similarity/difference) (otherwise the entities would be “the same”), so likewise all presence entails absence, or otherwise we wouldn’t be “in the presence” of a thing, we’d be it (there’s be “no space between us”). On the other hand, an “absence” which couldn’t be present at all would be nothing, as entities which were “totally different” wouldn’t even relate enough to understand themselves as different (as expounded on in “The VORD” by O.G. Rose).
Moving forward and shifting the topic, consider the following:
As we will explain, this visual only arises in reference “to a transcendence from within immanence,” but all the same, it’s relevant. When dealing with the past, memory and imagination “can be” defined apart (though not necessarily, due note), while everything regarding the future is imagination. The movement from the past to the future is a movement from memory to imagination, but though this might be obvious when comparing a thought of the 2020s and a spaceship, it also applies relative to the nearby bookcase. I can’t see the back of it, and so the possibility of looking at the back of it is “in the future,” which means it is currently a matter of imagination (the present is a mixture, “memory/imagination”). Yes, I can remember the last time I looked at the back of the bookcase, but I cannot be certain that this memory corresponds to what the back of the bookcase is like “now” (there is always uncertainty in the application of a memory to the present). In this way, in every “here,” I am constantly surrounded by subjects of “there”-ness and imagination. And as we will explore, if we are just “here,” we are “meaningless.”
Now, the graphic above is very general, because I can imagine castles and knights, as I can also imagine things in the past that didn’t happen (say my grandfather being a cook in 1952). Is that a movement “toward the future?” A fair point, but we actually cannot say for sure (unless we are God) that our world won’t come to an end, billions of years transpire, evolution occur again, and a new Medieval Age begin eons in the future (perhaps in which something like magic occurs) — what we believe is in the past might (also) be in the future. I know that sounds silly, but I actually think it’s a significant point, for it means we can’t say “for sure” that imagination does in fact “consider the past”: it is arguably always about “a possible future” that we may or may not identify with something in the past (or at least there is room for “plausible deniability” that such is the case). Furthermore, it could be argued that imagining things like castles is actually a “memory” of something we read in school that we call “imagined,” when really we are more so “recalling” castles and “past events” in the form of visual images (which can also happen with science fiction stories, do note, suggesting the line between “memory” and “imagination” is thin). If all this follows, we can associate memory “with what did happen” and imagination with “what could happen” (for even imagining a story in Rome could be in the future or in an alternative dimension).
Alright, but what if we envision a dragon? Isn’t that “imagining into the past?” Well, are arguably projecting into a memory an imagined creature that “might” exist one day in the future relative to some different dimension — I doubt there is a “natural law” that says something like dragons can’t exist in any possible world. In this way, a mental scene of a castle with a dragon flying over it is a mixture of memory and imagination, past and possible futures. As we will explore, even the dragon is intelligible thanks to memories regarding the categories of shapes, lizards, colors, birds, and so on — there is memory even in a dragon. What’s my point? That drawling the line between “a memory of something that happened” and “an imagined envisioning of something” is very difficult to draw. Ultimately, we will argue the distinction requires “a transcendent reference point,” but more on that later.
“Thinking here” does not mean “think completely” while “thinking there” means “thinking incompletely”: both are forms of “thinking incompletely” which vary in degree. All thinking is “the same in kind” (a mixture of “here” and “there”), just not “in their breakdown” between “here-ness” and “there-ness.” Perhaps the bookcase nearby in the office is 98% “here” but 2% “there,” beyond me, due to the noumenon Kant always describes. Also, I can’t see the back of the bookcase: I would have to stand up, walk over, and look behind it, and before I do, “the back of the bookcase” is “there” instead of “here.” And the strange claim I would like to make is that “the back of the case” is different in degree from my childhood memories and imaginary scenes in my short story, “Heroes,” but not different in kind. At the very least, we cannot establish a difference without reference to a transcendent which we are not justified to do “in the immanence of the mental scene” itself (as we will explore). All thought is “(t)here, and thoughts can be meaningful precisely because they are not “only here” or “only there”: the meaning arises thanks to the interplay between “the closed systems.” From there, we will argue that Hegel’s “Absolute Knowing” is a life which learns this, accepts the interdependent and limitations of both “here” and “there,” and attempts to live a life harmonized with “here/there”-ness
Perhaps why it seems like “memory” and “imagination” are different in kind and not merely degree is because we bring in the categories of “fiction” and “real” in our efforts to determine “kinds of thought,” an effort I think is mistaken. The accuracy of a thought entails no ontological significance, for “accuracy” cannot be determined except regarding “a transcendent point”: the fact a fantasy story “didn’t happen” doesn’t mean the act of thinking it is different from the act of thinking about my childhood (as made clear from a place of immanence). For me, the language of “here and there” is more useful than “true and false,” “happened and didn’t happen,” etc., for language which suggests “accuracy” also suggests what we need to explain and what we can disregard. As a result, we end up saying “memories are accurate and thus real,” and since memories tend to correspond to and “represent” real events, it’s easy for us to then think that “thinking is materialistic.” Imagination is then “bracketed out” as a special case which doesn’t need much attention; after all, the majority of our thoughts “correspond” with materiality. But once we understand that the distinction between “imagination” and “memory” rests upon a transcendent point, we can begin to grasp the radical strangeness of ourselves and inescapability of metaphysics.
Ideas can generally fall under two categories: “thinking here” or “thinking there.” What’s the difference? Well, I want you to think of an idea. Got it? Okay, now look around. Do you see, smell, and/or sense what you’re thinking about? If “yes,” then you are “thinking here”; if “no,” then you are “thinking there.” Simple enough, right? If the subject of your thought is “here,” then you are thinking about something which is “here,” but if the subject is not “here,” then it’s only “there” in thought. Now, what is “in thought” can easily “correspond” with what exists, so I am not saying what is “there” doesn’t exist at all (also, my pet downstairs can “now” be the subject of “thinking there,” whereas it will be a subject of “thinking here” once I walk downstairs). Rather, I only want to make epistemological distinctions for the sake of investigations which entails ontological implications, for epistemology is always ontological as ontology is always epistemological. If we can think x, then we must be a creature which can think x, so exploring and describing “the thought of x” might say something about us as thinkers of x.
If I think about a giant Gundam or a hobbit, I am “thinking there,” in the imaginary world in which these entities exist and/or in the thought to itself. However, this also applies if I’m thinking about when I was a kid at Christmas: both imagination and memory are “thinking there.” Now, memories correspond with what actually happened, while imagination doesn’t correspond, but the act itself of both is identical. Imagination and memory blur and mix, and the only way to tell them apart is to know which thoughts “correspond” with actuality, and which do not, but this can be a very difficult undertaking. As argued in “On Certainty” by O.G. Rose, “certainty” basically doesn’t exist, only “confidence,” and so that means we can never be completely sure that our memory of x corresponds perfectly with the event of x (perhaps we could say, “We cannot be certain that ‘memory’ and ‘memory-event’ are identical,” but that is not a language I will use). Perhaps it does, or perhaps it corresponds 90% but not 10%. Hard to say, but this means that a given thought could be a mixture of imagination and memory, and we might prove unable to ever define “what from what” with certainty.
Unless we have “perfect memory,” memory and imagination are always mixed (even “perfect memory” would require seeing something that’s “not here,” and hence require “imagination” to the degree it was necessary for “envisioning”). Perhaps my memory of what happened five minutes ago is 99% memory and 1% imagination, but that too is a mixture. Hobbits are perhaps 90% imagination, but they also resemble “small adults,” and my ability to relate to hobbits is easily tied to experiences and memories with people, people who like to garden, eat second breakfasts, and so on. Works of fiction with characters we cannot relate to are ones which “don’t match up with our experience (and thereby memory)” (“experience” and “memory” are linked), which is to say there is “too much imagination” at play. But even a work which is 99.9% imagination requires shapes, colors, and phenomena which fall under the most basic categories of understanding, categories which I can understand the world and art according to because I re-member them (“assemble them again/anew”). To use a category to understand is to use something I remember, and that means there are traces of memory in basically all thought.
Critically, I want to avoid using “imagined” as a simile for “false” or “illusion,” for it is theoretically possible for me to imagine something “true” which “corresponds” with reality. Let’s take for example the thought of a ball I played with when I was four. I recall the ball — that’s a memory which “corresponds” — but I can’t recall the color. So I imagine it was red, and, lo and behold, the ball was indeed red. I got lucky, but being right is still being right. But here’s the problem: I don’t know I’m right, by definition, because I forgot the color. I have “imagined’ in a way that “corresponds” with the past, but I cannot “know” I have achieved such correspondence. Correct, I am stuck with uncertainty.
“Imagination” can indeed generate realities which don’t “correspond” but not necessarily, and so we must be careful to treat “imagination” like something which always produces illusion. Frankly, it would seem like imagination is (all) “thinking there,” for it is the faculty which generates experiences of what isn’t “here” (perhaps a distinction between “envisioning” and “imagining” could be drawn, though I’m not sure). It would seem we “imagine” memories, but at the same time we couldn’t “imagine” anything without memories, for we’d have no material “out of which” to generate imagination. They’re distinct and yet indivisible — I can’t imagine thinking one without the other. If I recall my childhood, I see “a movie of images playing in my head” that isn’t actually “here”; if I imagine a new character for a short story involving clowns, I am using a memory of an experience of a clown to know clown exists and thus can be a character in a new story. Both seem forever linked, and thus strike me as combinable in the category of “thinking there” — a point which is all the stronger once we grasp that defining them apart requires “a transcendent point.”
I struggle to think a single thought which doesn’t have something to do with memory and/or imagination: it doesn’t seem to me that we can use these categories to define different kinds of mental activity, only degrees of the same mental activity. For me, to define different kinds of thought, it must be on grounds between “here”-ness and “there”-ness. Now, this doesn’t mean that “here”-ness and “there”-ness cannot mix, but it is to say that “relative to the here-ness” of the nearby chair (for example), there is no such mixture with “there-ness.” Yes, I cannot see the back of the chair, so the chair “as a whole’ is a “here/there”-ness, but relative to what is “here” to me, there is no mixture with “there-ness.” I could theoretically experience the “here”-ness of the nearby chair and never consider the “there”-ness of it, but I cannot have a memory without faculties of imagination (even if the memory is just a sentence, for I need to hear the sentence in my mind), nor imagine something without using the material of experiences stored in my memory. But what about babies in the womb — do they dream and imagine? If they do, I will wager their dreams are of their mother’s voice without a face, but if this could be proven otherwise, my argument might be deconstructed. If unborn babies dream of faces, then we could perhaps indeed “meaningfully” divide imagination and memory, but I do not know what the unborn dream.
Since memory and imagination are linked, I do not think we can use these as essential categories of “kind,” only accidental categories of “degree.” This is because there is no essential difference between memory and imagination, only accidental difference regarding their “correspondence’ to reality in some period of time, which becomes especially clear once we understand that imagining something “now” which will exist in the future is to imagine something that will one day be a memory, and so in a sense we are “recalling a memory early”: the only way to really tell the difference between “memory” and “imagination” is relative to all space and time and relative to every possible dimension, to which none of us have access. Outside of that vantage point, all distinctions between “memory” and “imagination” are tentative and conditional, which doesn’t mean they are invalid or useless, only that they are accidental versus essential.
The main distinction in this work is between “thinking here” and “thinking there,” with that distinction being based on the possible role of perception (as discussed in “On Thinking and Perceiving” by O.G. Rose). In a way, that means the most essential categories are “thinking” and “perceiving,” for we cannot even “meaningfully” draw distinctions between “thinking here” and “thinking there” without perception — but I still think “here versus there” is valid, because it is an extension of the essential distinction between thinking and perceiving. The division also helps us understand memory and imagination “as identical in act” (essentially) even if distinct in category (accidentally). Still, this work is not meant to claim that categories of “memory,” “time” (past, present, future, etc.), “imagination,” and the like have no role, for these are all valid “philosophical categories” (no more than claiming “red” is “accidental” to a squirrel means color doesn’t matter or exist). Rather, my hope is to identify essential “epistemological categories of thought,” which for me come down to “thinking here” and “thinking there,” categories which I think are captured in the “thinking vs perception” distinction, but still deserve “zoomed in” clarification. Epistemology entails ontological implications, and by determining “the most fundamental epistemological categories,” we can “zoom in” on the unique epistemic capacities of humans to focus on what humans can uniquely do which entails ontological ramifications (and the “zooming in” will help us best articulate and “trace out” those ontological ramifications). Otherwise, we might get lost exploring other categories which are more “accidental” than “essential,” reducing the efficiency of our effort and investigation. Moving forward, we will treat “thinking there” and “thinking here” as our main categories by examining the phenomenology of memory and imagination to show that they are “accidentally distinct” but not essentially (or at least we cannot “meaningfully” make this claim without reference to a “transcendence”).
In “Absolute Moral Conditionality” and “(Im)morality,” both by O.G. Rose, it was discussed how there are “absolute moral categories” like murder which are always wrong, but it is not the case that all examples of “killing” constitute “murder”: determining that would require examining the particularities of killing, the circumstances, and the like. Likewise, we can describe “Absolute Epistemological Conditionality,” which is to say that “memory” is always “about a thing which was,” while “imagination” is always “about a thing which wasn’t.” However, what examples of “conceptualization” fall under the category of “memory” versus “imagination” requires examining the particularities of the “conceptualization” and comparing it with evidence of what “actually transpired.” In this way, though “memory” is always a category under which “things which were” fall, it is not necessarily the case that all examples of “conceptualizing” or “recalling” are indeed acts which fall under the category of “memory” — that depends on the particular details of the example and subject considered. Considering this, the category of “memory” is valid, as is the category of “past,” “imagination,” and so on.
That said, what is the phenomenology of memory compared to the phenomenology of imagination? Are the acts themselves distinct or just the categories? My argument in this paper is that memory and imagination are both acts of “thinking there,” that there is no structural or operational distinction between memory and imagination (both are “thinking there”); if there was, we could tell them apart from within “a place of immanence,” which is to say from within the mental scenes themselves without reference to “a transcendent point” outside the mental scenes (mainly our own lives). The “categorical distinction” is external to the thinking acts themselves and refers to “levels of correspondence,” which is external to thinking and “in the world.” That doesn’t mean the categories should be deconstructed (not at all), as shouldn’t be the category of “murder” since not all killing falls under it — none of that follows from the reality of Conditionalism. Rather, my hope is only to help us better understand what we can find in our minds versus cannot, so that if we “look in the mind” for clearly defined categories of “memory” and “imagination,” we won’t think our failure to locate them means the categories are invalid (similar to the mistake of thinking that “seeing only killing” means that “murder” is an invalid category). Rather, the category of “murder” means that we are “(meta)physical beings” (“beings of Physics which refer to Physics”), for there is no “murder” in the world, only killing. Likewise, there is no memory or imagination in the world, and yet these categories are “in us” and really so. Hence, we are in the world but not of it. We cannot be “reduced” to the world, which is to say we are “(meta)physical,” a point only further made by the reality that defining “memory” from “imagination” requires a transcendent point (a “space” that makes it possible for “Physics to ‘fold into’ Physics,” per se, as described in the Conclusion of (Re)constructing “A Is A,” Part 1).
Where there are categories, there is metaphysics, for there are no “meaningful” categories on the earth, only undifferentiated phenomena. We sort the earth into the world. Because it is categorical, does this mean murder is “false” or “fake?” No, for the ways we “organize the world” in terms of categories are very real (“construct” and “fake” are not similes, a conflation which can damage thinking). We experience “categorical organization,” so it is incorrect and incomplete to suggest the categories of “memory” and “imagination” don’t exist, even if ultimately we cannot differentiate them in themselves (in the same way we cannot differentiate phenomena in themselves). To differentiate “thinking there” into “memory” and “imagination,” we must introduce categories to mental acts which are not found in the mental acts themselves, and this organization can help us function (hence why the categories are valid, in philosophy, neuroscience, and the like). However, if we are to understand the mysteries of our minds, moving beyond the categorization to the “thinking there” itself may prove fruitful.
Imagine your living room. Done it? Great. Now, relative to the “scene” in your head, how can you tell if this “scene” is a memory or something you’ve imagined? Because you know it corresponds with your real living room? Well, that’s fine, but you’re now referring to something external to the “mental scene” to determine that what you see “there” is a memory. But relative to the scene and referring to nothing outside of it, how can you tell if it’s a memory or something imagined? Not easy, is it? I would submit to you that there is no way to succeed in this endeavor, that the distinction requires referring to something external to the scene. Thus, there is no essential difference between “a memory” and “something imagined” — the difference is “external-based.”
Now, imagine your living room with a pink elephant in it. Doing it? Question: Is this your imagination or memory? Imagination, obviously, but how can you tell? It’s because of an object in the scene. You know pink elephants don’t exist, so you know you are using your imagination (however, as we’ll discuss later, even this requires external reference). But now imagine the elephant is gray — is this your imagination? You might say yes, but must it be your imagination? Yes, because the elephant is too big? Well, imagine it smaller. Now? If you say “yes,” you’re actually referring to an “external experience” from the scene: you have never seen a baby elephant in your living room, and thus you say, “This is my imagination.” But is it absolutely impossible for a baby elephant to be in your room? I would say not, that if you say that the scene of a baby elephant in your living room is your imagination, you are actually referring to something external to the scene, mainly your experience. But imagine you were viewing your living room from God’s point of view, where you could witness every possible dimension and every possible situation in every possible universe. Would there be no universe in which a baby elephant was in your living room? I would say there would be, that such falls within the realm of possibility. This being the case, can we really tell from “the scene” that a baby elephant in our living room is an act of imagination? No, I don’t believe we can: imagination cannot unveil itself as imagination to itself.
Now, imagine the elephant gone: imagine just your empty living room. Is this a memory or your imagination? A memory? What changed? Ah, I would submit to you that nothing changed regarding the substance of the scene itself (nothing ontological or epistemological shifted). With nothing in our living room now, it’s easy to not even ask, “Is this a memory or imagination?” Asking the question seems strange, something we’d do only because attention has been drawn to the inquiry. The inquiry is unnatural, something we would “thoughtlessly” not even consider. And yet why don’t we? I would argue that we have just as good a reason to ask, “Is this imagined?” regarding the empty room as we do the room with the elephant in it (of either color), and yet we don’t for arbitrary reasons. By “arbitrary,” I don’t mean “bad” or “invalid” reason, but for reasons which are ultimately derived from a privileging of my experience. I have not experienced a pink elephant or an elephant in my room, and therefore I assume I am dealing with imagination. And perhaps relative to me I am “imagining it,” but why should “my judgment” of the scene be any more valid than possibilities from God’s point of view or from “all possible worlds?” Because imagination is always experienced by a subject? Fair enough, and that is why we don’t seek to “deconstruct” the categories of imagination and memory, for they are indeed valid. Rather, we seek to suggest that memory and imagination are distinct accidentally versus essentially, that essentially both are “thinking there.”
Returning to the scene in your living room: imagine the pink elephant in it, now the gray elephant, and now no elephant. Good — I submit to you that the ontological substance, structure, and “being” of “the scene” itself never changed. Yes, “the things” in the room changed, and that resulted in you applying different categories to the scene, starting with “imagination” (pink elephant) to “imagination and/or possible experience/memory” (small baby elephant, and please note that anything which can be experienced can be a memory), to “experience/memory” (empty living room). But did the changing objects in the room change the substance of the scene? No, I think not. In the same way that a squirrel doesn’t become a different animal if we change its color (because “color” is accidental to a squirrel), so we don’t change “the mental scene” into something else in terms of substance if we change the objects in it. The scene is a thought and stays “a kind of thought”: “memory” and “imagination” are simply descriptors of a thought, similar to how color describes a squirrel.
The reason we can think there is something different in “kind” between a memory and something we imagine is because we privilege our experience as valid grounds by which to judge “memory” and “imagination” as different in kind versus only different ways of describing thought. “A memory” and “a mental creation” are both kinds of thought, which is to say that they are identical in everything essential, varying only accidentally. For me to consider memories and creations as distinct is for me to believe “I am” a valid ground to establish an “essential distinction,” but is that so? I don’t believe so, seeing as we are external to “our mental scenes.” We create them, and yet we are transcendent of them (perhaps like God), and as we can only tell a memory from something we imagine by referring to a world external from our “mental scenes,” so we can tell what is “imagined” from what is “remembered” by referring “the scene” to ourselves. We are external to our “mental scenes” though, and so we are in a sense “cheating” by determining if a scene is a memory or imagined by referring to ourselves (and, as will also be explored, this “external reference” conceals us from realizing the role imagination plays in memory).
Consider a work of “literary fiction,” like For Whom the Bell Tolls by Earnest Hemmingway The novel is about the Spanish Civil War, and I would submit that there is nothing in the novel which would force us to realize the novel is a work of literary fiction versus a work of history structured like literature (I have Hayden White in mind here). To identify that the novel is in fact a novel, we must refer to something external to the novel, mainly Hemmingway himself or to the world which the novel is a novel “in.” In this world, we find the novel on a shelf in a bookstore, and thus we know it is a novel. But all of these factors by which we can identify the novel as “fiction” are external to the text itself: relative to the text, it is essentially identical to literary nonfiction. The difference is correspondence to reality, but “the real world” is external to the novel, and thus cannot be determined “in” the text. And so the distinction between literary fiction and nonfiction, in this case, is nonexistent relative to the text. It is “practically identical,” and thus only accidentally distinct. This is especially clear once we grasp that literature and “fiction” can be sources of truth, which means that understanding literary nonfiction and literary fiction as “essentially the same” doesn’t mean there is no truth or fact. Rather, the point is that we do not determine literary nonfiction from literary fiction “in the text,” but by understanding the text as “dialectically relating” to the external world. Similarly, we grasp distinctions between “memory” and “imagination” through dialectical relation (between an immanence and a transcendence). The identification doesn’t come from a whole, but from an absence (Gödel proves right yet again).
Under the right circumstances which make it impossible for us to “thoughtlessly” ascribe and consider an externality, the judgment of if a text is literary fiction or literary nonfiction must prove “essentially incomplete” (if attempts to identify it are reserved to “just the text”): to find completion, the novel must incorporate what is external to the text, which is not entailed in the consistency of the text (“transcendent”). Likewise, “judging” a thought as a memory or something imagined must stay “incompletable” (if the judgment will not extend beyond the thought): for the judgment to “complete itself,” it must take into consideration what is external to the thought (the world, experience, etc.). This being the case, we cannot axiomatically judge “a memory” and “something imagined” as distinct, and in order to establish “essential difference” (or to establish “a plausible distinction”) versus an “accidental difference,” an axiomatic judgment would be required, which is not possible from within “a mental scene.” Thus, we cannot meaningfully say that “memory” and “imagination” are essentially distinct. At most, we can meaningfully say they are “accidentally” distinguishable.
We can use Kurt Gödel’s “Incompleteness Theorem” to argue that memory and imagination are essentially identical as “thinking (there),” that they are distinct only in terms of accidents. Perhaps we could say that memory is inspired by experience, while imagination is inspired by possibility? Possibly, but all experience was once possible, and what exactly is possibility which cannot be experienced? What is inspiration but inspiration?
Regarding Gödel, I often use the language of “coherence” and “correspondence,” which might prove useful here. “Coherence” is a system of ideas, variables, and thoughts which do not contradict one another: everything follows and “makes sense.” “Correspondence” is when an idea “aligns with” something actual, not just imagined. So, for example: the idea of “a black running cat” is inherently “coherent” (cats can be black; cats can run; and it’s possible for me to see a cat). However, just because “a black running cat” is coherent, it doesn’t follow that I necessarily saw “a black running cat” around the barn (I might have misidentified a dog or a groundhog). Maybe not, but the point is that “correspondence” and “coherence” are distinct categories, and critically I cannot from the very fact that “a black running cat” is a coherent idea thus conclude that I did in fact see “a black running cat.” The coherence of an idea and its correspondence entail no necessary relationship, even though “a real observation” would require both to be meaningful.
In this paper, I will associate “thinking there” with “coherence” (which can also be associated with “rationality”), as I will associate “thinking here” with “correspondence” (which can be associated with “truth”). A memory which corresponds was “once here,” while a mental coherence without a correspondence was “only there.” A memory is a correspondence and a coherence, while an imagined creation is only a coherence. But the very fact memories and imagination both entail “coherence” creates the possibility of them crosspollinating. From our perspective, especially where no science fiction elements are involved for clear identification, both a memory and an imagined creation “could have been,” for both are “coherent,” and critically we cannot necessarily tell “from within the mental scene itself” if it “corresponds” with anything and thus is mainly a memory (we are “walking proofs of Gödel,” it seems).
“Immanence” in philosophy means “inside,” such as “inside a system” or “inside the universe.” Hence, when I say something like, “From a place of immanence, we cannot study the edges of the universe,” what I mean to say is that “From inside the universe, we cannot study the universe as a whole.” “Immanence,” which can also be associated with “immediacy,” “nearness,” and so on, is often discussed alongside “transcendence,” which would be the ability to “step outside the universe” and study it as a whole. Much of Modern Philosophy critiques the idea of transcendence, warning that we are always operating from a place of immanence from which it is impossible to “examine the whole.” We can associate immanence with the thinking of Kurt Gödel, who basically warns that we can never axiomatically “ground” a mathematical set, in the same way that we will never reach a transcendent perspective from which we can see if the conclusions we reach from a place of immanence are “objectively” and/or “ultimately” the case. (perhaps they are, and the fact we cannot confirm such doesn’t mean they are false, but it does mean we must live with uncertainty). Critically, this means “immanence” is a strange mixture of “closedness” and “openness,” for if we cannot “step outside the universe,” we cannot say it is “complete” or that there isn’t something outside of it, which means it is a “closed system” that entails an “essential incompleteness.” If “immanence” is inescapable, it is “(in)complete” (“closed” and “complete” are not similes, and Žižek would have us understand that this means the universe is a “closed openness”). In this paper, I’ll emphasis “the closedness” of immanence, for that will help bring out the role of transcendence, but I just wanted to note how in some situations “immanence” can be more paradoxical.
To restate my points from the last section, we can say memory and imagination cannot be defined apart from a place of immanence unless there is an entity or condition “in the scene” which makes it clear that we are dealing with imagination (but, even then, the distinction will be “relative to us” not “relative to all possible worlds,” suggesting the distinction is still ultimately arbitrary). In a mental scene where all entities inside the scene exist in our external world, and where no entity “gives away” the fact the scene isn’t plausible, it would be impossible to tell from immanence that we are dealing with a memory or something imagined. Memory and imagination cannot be immanently identical, which means we require something transcendent to determine the difference. Fortunately, that “transcendence” can be us, for we ourselves are “outside the scene” envisioning it. It is possible for us to recall and realize what didn’t happen and what did, and thus judge a memory from a fantasy.
In this way, we can directly experience Gödel’s Incompleteness, so far as we are dealing with “real numbers,” per se. The moment we introduce an “imagined variable,” the distinction between “memory” and “imagination” becomes clear, but that distinction requires introducing something which would normally not be found in “a real set.” If we want to “axiomatically justify” a set, we cannot include variables outside “the set,” so turning to experience to define “memory” from “imagination” means we cannot totally “justify” the mental distinction. It cannot be said to be a “fundamental” or “essential” distinction, only “accidental” and “non-justified.” Sure, the distinction could still be valid and accurate — Gödel was not arguing that truth didn’t exist — but the nature of the distinction must be considered as far less “solid” than we tend to believe.
Yes, “memory” and “imagination” are distinct categories (as “true” and “rational” are distinct), yet we cannot establish that they aren’t always “essentially” and “fundamentally” connected. Similarly, “true” and “rational” must always be connected if we are discussing them “meaningfully,” for I must translate “truth” and “nonrationality” into “rational terms” for understanding. There is distinction, and yet also inseparability wherever we can “meaningfully” discuss them (and discuss human mental processes as “meaningfully distinct” from animals) — paradox and dialectic (but not “effacement”). A memory corresponds with real events in spacetime and is coherent in itself, whereas imagination is coherent but only occurred in “imagined time,” per se. Perhaps we could say “memories” are “real numbers” while “the imagined” are “imagined numbers?” Metaphorically, perhaps.
Let us now make another important move in our thinking: If there is a spaceship or pink elephant in our “mind’s eye,” how do we know that this entity proves that we are dealing with something imagined versus a memory? Because we have never come across a spaceship or a pink elephant, but what does that mean we are doing? Well, we are referring to something transcendent of the mental imagine, mainly our experience in time. Even clearly imagined entities are only “clearly imagined” thanks to a transcendent position outside the immanence of the mental scene. There is no law in the universe that says pink elephants and spaceships can’t exist, and to say they aren’t present in any possible universe would require being God. In such an instance, we are privileging our experience in spacetime as a valid standard by which to define “memory” from “imagination,” and “relative to us” that is valid because we are transcendent of the immanence of the mental scene. But in terms of immanence, even if we somehow “happen to be right,” the distinction is not possible. To themselves, memory and imagination are equivalent: relying on “correspondence” to establish the distinction requires relying on a “transcendent.”
If would seem that thinking “overlaps” with physical reality when it corresponds in memory; it does not “touch,” per se, which means it does not “ontologically relate.” We simply “see” and “imagine” a thought “in the image and likeness” of what we have experienced, and then say, “That is what we experienced.” But we did not experience that mental image; we think it. The thought and the experience “overlap” like a boy’s hand held over a girl’s hand: they do not touch, though they share similarities in their positioning and “holding there.” But as the boy’s hand is not composed of the girl’s hand, the thought is not composed out of the same material as the experience. Even if a neuron exists which corresponds to the memory, the “mental image” is not a neuron, but an emergence which is possible thanks to the neuron without being reducible to it. “The mental image” cannot be reduced because if someone opened my head and looked at the neuron, that person would not experience what I felt while holding my hand over the hand of a girl. Even though neurons and memories are connected, they are radically unique and operate according to different principles and properties (to allude to points Elung has made regarding “Vector Theory”).
If memory and imagination can be immanently identical and require transcendence to tell apart, there is good reason to think that we cannot “close them off” from one another, in the same way that our “immanence” in the universe makes it so that we cannot say the universe “is a closed and completed loop.” Perhaps the universe is (the inability to prove x doesn’t not disprove x), as perhaps imagination and memory are entirely distinct even though we cannot prove such axiomatically, only in special cases. Again, this suggests to me that memory and imagination are not essentially distinct, only accidental, and essentially both are examples of “thinking there.” It is that which we establish as axiomatically distinct from “thinking here,” for we can “experience here” distinctions between perception and thinking. It is thinking and perceiving then which is fundamental for establishing a dialectic that best harmonizes with our “paradoxical ontology,” as argued throughout O.G. Rose.
Generally, we know imagination is strange, for it is strange that we can envision entities which don’t exist and that are not here, but we tend to treat memory and memorization as “more normal” and materialistic, for memory “corresponds” with reality. However, I would like to suggest that memory and imagination cannot be axiomatically defined as distinct, and thus we should consider memory and imagination as equally strange. Even if memory corresponds with events that occurred, “the way we see memories” is identical to imagination or a visual process that cannot be reduced to “here” — for it is “there.” Both memories and imagination are equally “visual mental processes” which are possible and thanks to “here” but cannot be reduced to “here” (all thinking is thus). Imagination and creativity are not “special cases” while memory (which we are always using because there is no “now”) is normal (a line of thought that makes it easier for us to believe that thinking is merely a mental expression of materialism); rather, all thinking is “a special case,” per se, one that can make us always seem to be in two places at once.
Immanently, there is no difference between memory and imagination: determining the difference requires transcendence (which suggests “sense” in general requires transcendence, as we will explore). It’s easy to experience memory as if it is reducible to materiality, but if we can successfully argue that memory and imagination cannot immanently be defined apart without a transcendent reference, then we can suggest all thought is irreducible to materiality, which is to say that “strange thought is all thought.” We know the imagined thought of “a giant green lizard” (like Godzilla) doesn’t correspond with an experience in materiality, and thus we know we cannot say that we are having the thought “only because” we experienced “a giant green lizard” in the world. We are not simply “recalling” an experience “as” a mental scene, but actively creating a mental scene. Yes, this scene is “inspired” by experiences of lizards, colors, skyscrapers, and so on, but the scene cannot be “reduced” to being just “a recollection of an experience.” We are somehow actively part of the generation of “the mental image,” and that scene cannot be explained as “a simple and linear translation of experience into thought.” Something more complex and “creative” is occurring, though what exactly is not easily to say or explain.
Again, we tend to understand that creativity and imagination are very strange, but we “bracket them aside” as “anomalies” and “outliers,” while the majority of our thinking is “recollection,” normal, and relatively easy to explain (we just say that we are “recalling” experiences, which means we are just “recalling” materiality as “mental scenes” — and thus can associate “thought” and “materiality” rather easily). But if we actually cannot establish differences between “imagination” and “memory” to themselves, then both are equally strange and must be explained similarly. And this is my point: we cannot meaningfully or axiomatically claim that all thought isn’t a product of the same strange and creative process which generates imagination. Whatever process defines imagination is the process which we cannot say doesn’t define all thought, for both “memory” and “imagination” are imminently identical. I am under the impression that we usually treat memory as “real thought” while imagination is “just imagination,” but here I hope to deconstruct that hierarchy so that we can be “open to” the strangeness of thinking anew. I don’t believe thinking is still strange to most moderns, and I think that is a problem. Now, what constitutes that process is another question, and here was can simply define it under the category of “thinking there.”
We know the thought of a giant green lizard the size of a plane doesn’t correspond with experience or the material world, but that’s only because we have experience to compare “the giant green lizard” with: the image itself of the giant green lizard cannot unveil its material correspondence or lack thereof. Yes, “the giant lizard” is composed of colors, shapes, and the like which are “part” of the material world, “the giant green lizard” cannot be “reduced” to the material world, which is to say we cannot claim the thought was just “caused” by materiality. We “created” the thought (perhaps with “caused” material), and even if “creation” is only possible because of “causality,” we cannot treat “creation” and “causality” as equivalent. They are not the same mental act: creativity is more emergent and dynamic. We are capable of something irreducible to materiality even if only possible thanks to materiality, a thought which I believe can help us fight “The Meaning Crisis.”
A memory feels like and can be experienced “as if” its source is material and that it is thus “reducible” to materiality, because memory is simply “an image” of what occurred. It entails no more special features than the features which the physical eye can take in: memory comes to be seen as simply “a recalling” of what occurred, which was experienced in materiality and thanks to the materiality of the senses. And certainly, physicality matters: it is “half of metaphysics.” To do away with it would prove effacing of ourselves. But we likewise efface ourselves if we forsake “the indistinguishability of thinking.” There is no mental act that does not say to us that we are in the world but not of it. There are traces of “something more” in every thought.
If we cannot tell the difference between memory and imagination from immanence, then we cannot tell from immanence what corresponds with materiality and what does not, and thus all thought is immanently equal in its inability to be defined as materially correspondent. In this way, thought emphasizes in its being “the creative act” versus “the recalling act.” Yes, we experience the thought as mainly an act of “recalling” (mainly of our experience, even in imagination, for we experience colors, shapes, and objects we have experienced), but thought to itself is mainly an act of “creating.” The phenomenological sense of thought as (just) “recalling” is due to privileging a “transcendent point” outside the thought, but this is “unjustified” relative to immanence. And this phenomenological sense gradually works on us to remove a sense of the strangeness and creativity of thought: thought ceases to bewilder us (and where that thought is lacking, I think “The Meaning Crisis” worsens). We need thinking to mystify us again, and that requires overcoming the feeling that thought is just a photograph. With Hans Rookmaaker in mind, thought is rather a painting.
It seems natural for us to cease being bewildered by thought, for we “are” a transcendent point relative to our “mental scenes” from which we can then naturally understand them as being “recollections.” It is unnatural to think of thoughts in terms of their immanence, and even if we do, if we are socially conditioned to think of creativity as “playing” and “a waste of time,” we will be trained to dismiss “the creative act” of thinking as not worthy of note. And thus we will phenomenologically experience thinking as “nothing special.” Since thinking is something that makes humans uniquely human, if thinking is “nothing special,” so too we will be “nothing special,” and so “The Meaning Crisis” will worsen.
If we think that we only think what “corresponds” with the material world, then it becomes easy to think that “thinking” is similarly materialistic. This doesn’t follow, of course, but it’s still easy to think. Once though we grasp the inability to fundamentally define apart “memory” from “imagination” (without a transcendent point), all thinking must be considered equally “strange,” which is to say “(meta)physical.” “Thinking here” and “thinking there” are always working in concert, and so we cannot escape the strangeness of ourselves. When meaningful, we are a “(t)here-ness,” which suggests perhaps that “The Meaning Crisis” is a result of us losing our “(t)here.”
A memory feels like and can be experienced “as if” its source is material and that it is thus “reducible” to materiality, because memory is simply “an image” of what occurred. It entails no more special features than the features which the physical eye can take in: memory comes to be seen as simply “a recalling” of what occurred, which was experienced in materiality and thanks to the materiality of the senses. And certainly, physicality matters (it’s “half of metaphysics”). To do away with it would prove effacing of ourselves. But we likewise efface ourselves if we forsake the ontological indistinguishability of thinking. There is no mental act that does not say to us that we are in the world but not of it. There are traces of “something more” in every thought.
Imagination is not an outlier, as we tend to think because we privilege our experience and ignore our unjustified incorporation of a transcendent point to define imagination from memory. No, “imagination” is just as likely to be “the norm” as is “memory.” Memory and imagination are both “equally strange,” and we must stop hiding ourselves form that strangeness by focusing on memory as a simple “recollection” of material experience. Sure, that’s part of it, but the process which makes memory possible itself still needs explanation, and that process is bizarre and strange. By deconstructing our efforts to define “memory” from “imagination” through transcendence, my hope is to make thinking strange again. I want us to think thinking anew. I want us to be mystified by it.
As we cannot establish distinctions in thought without reference to a transcendent point, so we cannot establish differences in “things” without reference to ourselves. This is discussed in “Ironically” by O.G. Rose, but basically the point is that the impression of the nearby chair is only distinct from the impression of the nearby table “if I say they are.” Why should “a chair” and “a table” not be “one?” I see them in the same scene, and who am I to say that a distinction in space constitutes enough of a standard according to which we can legitimately claim “the table and the chair” are distinct (it’s surely possible that everything ultimately be the same on “the quantum level”). Yes, to say “the chair” and “the table” are distinct, I must refer to thought, for it is in thought that “pure experience” (as described by the Kyoto School) is broken apart into pieces so that intelligibility might be possible. But there’s the key term: “intelligibility.” We break apart reality from “a great impression” into “things” so that we can “make sense of it,” but that inherently means meaningful distinctions in reality result from “making reality refer to our mind,” which is to say that reality must refer to a transcendent point to be “broken apart” and given distinctions. As defining memory from imagination requires a transcendent point, so defining things from one another in reality (and thereby different categories of understanding) also requires a transcend point. And there’s the kicker: reality needs the transcendence of the mind to be distinguished and made sense of, as the mind needs the transcendence of reality to be distinguished and made sensible. If we were not this dialectic of “relative transcendences,” nothing would make sense. As I want us to think thinking anew, I also want us to see seeing anew. I want our eyes and minds to mystify us again, a true “(meta)physics.”
If we couldn’t tell the difference between memories and imagination, we would be in a lot of trouble and likely not survive. There is no “now,” so we are always dealing with memories (and “Memory Is the Mind’s Air” by O.G. Rose argues that thinking would be impossible without it), and if we couldn’t tell which thoughts “corresponded” with the physical world, it wouldn’t be long before we went extinct (and only animals survive which perhaps didn’t require this distinction, thanks to physical strength). Likewise thought, if we couldn’t tell physical entities apart, we would struggle to operate in the world and understand how to organize ourselves relative to our impressions. Hence, both our physicality and our minds utterly rely on the transcendence of the other: we must be “(meta)physical” or not be at all. Dialecticism is essential.
Life cannot be distinguished into “reality” except by reference to thought, and thought cannot be distinguished into categories without reference to reality. Mental states are entirely coherent, as is reality, but that coherence is not enough for us to “meaningful make sense of” and organize it as (we find) best. The impression of the nearby bookcase is inherently coherent — no object there cannot exist alongside any of the other objects; no color cannot be there as “that” color; etc. — but that coherence cannot in of itself give me “the tools” to make sense of it “as a bookcase.” I must create “the tools” or “ideas” in myself and then “overlay” them on the impression, thus “breaking up” the impression into books, wooden shelves, and so on. Likewise, reality must give me “the tools” or “experiences” by which I can tell a memory from something imagined, which I can then “overlay” on my mental image to organize “what corresponds” (memory) from what mostly only “coheres” (imagination). Each would be senseless without the other, which means we are inescapably reliant on transcendence.
Now, the “transcendence” I refer to here is not necessarily religious (though the fact humans are ontologically dependent on transcendence might “point to” possible theological truth — hard to say); rather, it is more metaphysical and perhaps even mathematical. I’m not sure, but the point is that we “are” a point at which coexisting and dialectical transcendences operate. We bring together two ontologies (or Vectors) which cannot be reduced to another other, and yet cannot be made sense of without the other. We couldn’t know mental states were mental states without physical experiences, as we couldn’t know physical experiences were physical experiences without mental states: both provide definition, distinction, categorization, and understanding for the other.
Considering this, it doesn’t make sense to discuss “materialism” except regarding thinking which only makes possible “the idea of materialism” because it is transcendent of materialism. Indeed, perhaps a certain sequence of materiality, a certain alignment of variables (of biology and chemicals which make possible a brain), is what makes thinking possible, but we cannot say that what is “necessary” for a thing to be can be “reduced” to that necessity. A car needs an engine, but an engine is not a car. Both Alexander Elung and Alexander Bard are great enemies of reductionism, and I suggest their work on this subject, with the point being that we cannot make sense of “material” without thought which transcends material, and so discussing thought as if it is “just material” doesn’t make sense (naturally). Thought is different in character, kind, nature, properties, and the like from matter; for example, thought is:
1. Not bound by causality.
2. Can move freely through time.
3. Can combine entities.
4. Doesn’t have to follow laws of nature.
5. Doesn’t have to exist for there to be existence.
6. Not bound by logical sequence.
And so on (perhaps we need to think about “Laws of Thought” like we talk about “Laws of Nature,” though I understand “law” is a problematic term). Even if matter is why thought exists, thought isn’t reducible to it. Stressing this is critical, for again I think it would help combat “The Meaning Crisis” if we believed part of us wasn’t “just” material but a dialectical process of “relative transcendences.” I want thinking to mystify us again, and I see no reason why that wonder should be lost even if materiality makes thinking possible. Thinking has “emerged” beyond thinking, a cosmic birth.
The very possibility of entertaining reductionist thought is thanks to irreducibility: we can consider “materialism” because it is not true. Perhaps something like “materialism” was true before the Vector of Mind “emerged” (to use Elung’s language), but it is not true now. Similarly, an “idealism” which “reduced” everything to thinking and ideas can only be considered because there is a meaningful distinction between “thought” and “materiality,” a distinction which requires “a transcendent point” outside of thinking, which necessitates physicality. Without that transcendence, the word “idea” and “material” would be “practically identical”: we couldn’t “meaningfully” discuss something like “idealism” at all. Idealism is hence “meaningfully” entertainable because it cannot be true.
If materialism was true, then “material immanence” would likewise be true, which is to say that there would exist no phenomena which was transcendent of material. But we have established that transcendence is required for anything to make sense. With “On Typography” by O.G. Rose in mind, the moment we “apprehend something” we have made sense, and thus proven transcendence. Thus, if anything has meaning or makes sense, materialism is false, as similarly the ability to define “memory” from “imagination” proves idealism false. Yes, perhaps the transcendence is an emergence only possible thanks to materiality, but that emergence must now be irreducible to materiality. We cannot now think that materialism explains enough, which means we now must consider transcendence, and that means we must consider “radical difference,” paradox, and dialectics.
Materialists can argue that thought “represents” material reality and thus is reducible to material reality, but that very understanding of thought must transcend the immanence of materiality through us. Where transcendence is required for sense, we cannot “meaningfully” discuss “a complete immanence” like materialism or idealism. “Problems of immanence” are often used as evidence against theology and religion, but immanence works against all “ontologically singular systems,” which would include materialism and idealism. “The problems of immanence” ultimately require us to posit something like Vector Theory, as pioneered by Alexander Elung and Alexander Bard, as will be explored elsewhere in (Re)constructing “A Is A,” such as in “The VORD.” Here, I only want to note that such a theory strikes me as necessary.
“Memory Is the Mind’s Air” by O.G. Rose argued that thinking without memory is impossible: we couldn’t find patterns, couldn’t “connect dots” into meaningful understanding, etc., and that paper also made distinctions between “memorizing” and “remembering,” with “remembering” being an act of fully “entering into” and “becoming” a memory (perhaps like “method acting”). Where memory is lacking, so too will be lacking the hope of “making sense.” “Sense” is a funny word here, because we can associate it with our “five senses,” but we don’t tend to think of memory as needed to smell something: we simply bend over and sniff the flower. But memory is critical for our “five senses,” because without it as soon as the aroma entered our nostrils, the experience would be gone. If we take seriously that memory is immanently just as “strange” as imagination, this means our lives are constantly made intelligible to us thanks to mystery, not merely reference. At the very least, there are valid reason to interpret ourselves that way, and why wouldn’t we if that helps us overcome “The Meaning Crisis?”
In theology, there is talk of God “sustaining being”; in a similar way, memory “sustains” experience. It “sustains” our senses, our thoughts, our experiences, and the like: without it, everything “that was us” would instantaneously fall away and be lost forever. Nothing would be “sustained.” Life would be hard to be, for there is no “now,” which suggests all experience is fundamentally memory-based. If memory is indeed thought which is fundamentally irreducible to materiality, then all thought at all times is strange. We are never “not” “(meta)physical”: we are always operating in a “between space” that we cannot even think about without making it something it is not (the tension of A/A and A/B). This mysterious “between space” is a topic taken up in many works on Conditionalism and Eastern thought, and it is argued elsewhere in O.G. Rose that our failure to cultivate thinking and “practices” which help us “harmonize” with “between spaces” has been terribly consequential (see “Notes Toward Conditionalism” by O.G. Rose). It’s another topic, but if indeed all thinking generates a “between space,” then all moments of “meaning” entail “between-ness” (which suggests why the loss of “between-ness” and “The Meaning Crisis” are deeply connected). For us to overlook “between-ness” is for us to basically forsake ourselves and how we “are” whenever we find meaning.
Every “here” is a “there” and every “there” is a “here,” a “(t)here” (I am tempted to say that “everything is virtual,” in the tradition of some philosophical thinking, but I will leave aside that language for now). How do we think “there” well? What is “there?” It’s both the past and the future, and if we think just about the past but not the future, our “there” will be incomplete and cut in half. “Thinking there” well requires considering both the past and future, not just one or the other. We must think all of “there,” which is vast and ultimately an impossible undertaking. But we must try and fail well. Why? What practical benefits might there be? A good question, and the following that I list out could all be seen as consequences of “The Meaning Crisis.” Basically, we can view the failure “to practice and uphold (t)here-ness” (to borrow language from “The Holding and the Flow” by O.G. Rose) as a major contributing factor to “The Meaning Crisis.” Some of the consequences of this mistake:
1. When humans cannot “bring together” their “here” and “there,” they suffer mental illness.
2. When we are treated as if “only a here,” we are explained but not addressed. We need to be treated as “(t)here” to be “addressed and explained.”
3. When we think thinking is only “here,” we can believe humans are simply AI systems. There is nothing “essentially” different between us and computers. But if we “think (t)here,” we are distinct.
4. Creative people tend to have good memories because creativity and memory are the same mental act.
5. To increase memory by removing creativity is a contradiction.
6. The fates of creativity and memory are linked.
7. We require a balance of here/there-ness, of “(meta)physics.” If we think “here” too much, we go nowhere; if we think “there” too much, we are disembodied.
And so on. Grasping this distinction between “thinking there” and “thinking here” can help us understand how basically our entire “meaningful” comprehension of the world exists “as a between entity,” in a “between space” (a topic discussed throughout O.G. Rose). “Between-ness” is difficult to describe, and words like paradox, irony, and dialectic become critical and unavoidable terms in the discussion, all of which ultimately point to why “Absolute Knowing,” as found in Hegel, is primarily a “coming to terms” with “the between-ness” of being and unavoidable limits which so result.
In “Absolute Knowing” by O.G. Rose, I argued Hegel’s “Absolute Knowing” is a state of “here/there”-ness, which means it entails an acceptance and embrace of what thinking always “is” and yet isn’t naturally experienced as being. We could say:
“Thinking here” is physical.
“Thinking there” is metaphysical.
Absolute Knowing is (meta)physical (here/there).
To achieve Absolute Knowing, I must bring my “here” and “there” together dialectically, which is very difficult. Furthermore, the “/” means there is always a “lack” and/or “incompleteness” between and in “here/there”-ness, which means achieving Absolute Knowing means accepting an essential and fundamental kind of “lack” and “incompleteness” (which also suggests that the Metaphysics defended here is different from efforts for “a unity of being” which characterized some classical Metaphysics). The “lack” in memory which defines it from imagination is us, “transcendent,” and so memory is “lacking” us when we can define it from imagination. If we are meaningfully discussing a memory, we are meaningfully discussing something “lacking” (as is the case with imagination). Transcendent of the immanence of our “mental scenes,” we can distinguish memories from creations, but something similar applies when we are meaningfully discussing “a thing” in the world, for there are no “chairs” in the world, simply “impressions” and raw experiences. If we discuss a “chair,” we are discussing something “lacking,” which suggests all intelligibility and meaning is thanks to “lack,” which suggests an interplay between immanences (mind and matter, metaphysical and physical — “there” and “here”). Where immanence and transcendence are not at play, we cannot even meaningfully discuss them “not at play.”
“Absolute Knowing” is the art-form of “(t)here”-ness, a state where we come to terms and “harmonize” with the reality that if it is meaningful, it is “(t)here.” This doesn’t mean both “here” and “there’ can’t be explained with physical/scientific explanations, but it does mean we are creatures of “here/there”-ness or “(t)here”-ness. Absolute Knowing requires accepting here/there, the visible and invisible — the “(t)here” and “(in)visible” — it has us accept what always “is the case” that we can meaningfully discuss as “the case.” To be “(t)here” requires accepting ourselves as a subject, for we as subjects in bodies are inherently “a (t)here,” thus the deep role of the subject in Hegel, which ultimately will lead us to making distinctions between “The Absolute” and “The Truth.” But what we mean by that will be taken up in the paper on “Absolute Knowing,” which will come toward the end of (Re)constructing “A Is A” (Part 2). For now, we will simply settle with accepting that we are “a walking transcendent interplay of immanences,” which is to say we are “walking paradoxes” prone to irony. Meaning emerges from an interplay of imminences which transcend one another (which is why they can make sense of one another, as God can give us meaning because God transcends materiality). Metaphysics is the study of the interplay between imminencies, mainly mind and matter. Metaphysics studies how meaning is possible, which suggests why “The Meaning Crisis” and fall of Metaphysics have corresponded.
1. The mind “virtually” connects moments of time by referring to “here” in the context of “a great there” composed of all past experiences and possible future moments. Without the mind, there would only be “Planck Lengths of experience,” per se, which might be too small to even experience. Hard to say, but it would seem that the loss of memory is the loss of what “sustains” being, and if we couldn’t comprehend “Plank Lengths of experience” (they being simply too fast), this would suggest that memory is the prerequisite for any thinking and experiencing at all.
2. Thinking is basically impossible without memory, and if memory and creativity are deeply linked, this suggests memory and art are deeply linked
3. Empathy, sensation, thinking, perceiving, imagination, memory — all valid categories that I think ultimately can be placed under the categories of either “thinking here” or “thinking there” (not to say the details and particularities of each are interchangeable or something).
4. The idea-of-a-cat never “touches” the thing-of-a-cat.
5. “Correspondence,” if meaningful, entails transcendence.
6. Thinking entails “(t)here”-ness: the distinction between “thinking here” and “thinking there” may ultimately be a matter of emphasis.
7. All correspondence entails coherence, but not all coherence entails correspondence.
8. Writing fiction might be a useful way to practice finding a balance between “there” and “here,” for fiction which is too “there” fails to connect with readers, but fiction which is too “here” can seem like “nonfiction.”
9. What was, is, and/or will be “here” is that which “corresponds and coheres,” where what wasn’t, isn’t, and won’t be “there” is that which only “coheres” (which only God knows). Epistemological categories like “memory” and “imagination” tend to be difficult to describe or pinpoint because they tend to be defined in terms of “correspondence,” whereas thinking is predominately in the business of “coherence.” We think coherence, while perception is necessary for correspondence; we can think about what we perceive, but we cannot perceive what is only thinkable.
10. Correspondence is when we determine that x idea matches with y phenomenon, so “correspondence” occurs in “the space between” thinking and perceiving.
11. When dealing with memory, we are dealing with phenomenon which were once perceivable but no longer are, and thus they can only be thought “as if” they are purely phenomena of “coherence.”
12. Ontology is always epistemologically significant, as epistemology is always ontologically significant.
13. The eminent Halcyon Guild with Johannes Niederhauser, Axel Molina, and Tonatiuth Marron Gomez recently talked on the mysteries of memory and its role in our humanity (“On Artificial Memory Production”). Without memory, Mr. Molina pointed out that we’d live in a kind of “point space,” where no experiences connected with any other. People discuss “point time,” where time is just “nows” which don’t connect with any other “nows”; similarly, Mr. Molina’s point is that memory is why we don’t live in “point space” through a “point life.”
In Plato’s Phaedrus, there is concern that writing will make us lose our memory, which the gentlemen discussed was a concern about a world filled with information that lacked context. In speech, it’s strange for me to look at you and say, “Food Lion has meat on sale,” where in writing there are regularly advertisements that declare, “Meat on sale!” Conversation lends itself toward relationships and a particular conditioning by the particular people conversing, but writing is much more “impersonal” and “universal”: the audience can be anyone. When I’m in the presence of a person, I naturally “condition” my speech to that person, taking into account their facial expressions, emotions, and the like; with writing, it’s easy to “just write.” This comes with negatives and benefits, as do most things.
Phaedrus warns us that writing could train us to think in terms of “fragments” versus in terms of “completed structures,” per se, and the Halcyon Guild warns that likewise the loss of memory could be the loss of context. Without context, ideas basically can’t even be ideas, just information: the death of memory is the death of thought into bits of data. This brings back to mind thoughts on how memory is required so that we don’t live in “point space” but rather a space which connects together: for data and information to connect and flow together into ideas and thought, memory is required. Memory foregathers.
In “Geometry, Astronomy, and Platonic Forms As Ordering Principles” by O.G. Rose, it was suggested that we could think of “Platonic forms” as similar to the “orbits” moons follow around planets. “Forms” formulate, and they can be seen as “the invisible tracks” upon which things “become” themselves (in accordance to “what they are,” which is “fitting”) — though talk of “perfection” can certainly be entertained here, I find a lot of that talk can distract from grasping the value of “forms.” Anyway, the point is that understanding and grasping “the orbits” and “forms” of life is impossible without memory: if I cannot recall where the moon was five days ago compared to where it is now, I cannot possibly hope to discern the existence of “an orbit.” Likewise, if I cannot remember “what a cup was” from “what a cup is now,” I have no hope of understanding any kind of trajectory or “path of development.” Yes, cups would still change through time, but not in a way which was “meaningful” to human beings. There would “theoretically” be “forms” but not “practically”: “forms” would “practically not exist.” Where there can be no “forms,” there can be no patterns, and ultimately that means there can be no intelligibility. Perhaps this means that intelligibility always entails “forms,” and perhaps that means “forms” are “data about x plus memory about x” (space + time), but I’m not sure.
14. Even a totally false fiction story “does happen” in a way, because it happens “in my head,” and when I think it, it is “here” in my head. And yet it is also “there,” away in the created world which lacks correspondence. But my fiction story does have shapes, colors, people, and settings, and all of that “corresponds” with the world I live in, and so the fiction story does “correspond” with reality: we cannot say it is “totally false,” for if it was “totally false,” it wouldn’t even have shapes and colors. This suggests that there is no “total break” of “correspondence” ever, that every thought “corresponds” to some degree with reality, for otherwise I couldn’t think it. When discussing coherence and correspondence, we are discussing “degrees” and “mixtures.” All thoughts are mixtures of “correspondence/coherence,” as they are all mixtures of “here/there”-ness.
15. Every “here” entails a “there.” Memory is a (non)fiction about something that really happened.
16. If memory and imagination are essentially identical, then forsaking creativity in school to focus on memorization means we will likely be bad at memorization. Efforts to master “memorization” may not be as effective at learning memory as acts of cultivating creativity. It might be better to learn memory through imagination than to learn imagination through memorization — arguably, there is something about memorization that isn’t practicing memory at all (for memorization is often in service of trivia and facts without context, as argued in “Trivia(l)” by O.G. Rose).
17. The categories of “memory” and “imagination” are descriptions of “thinking there,” both of which are present to degrees in “thinking here” (as I have to “think here” to be “thinking there”).
18. It is possible that jokes and ironies can also be examples of “immanences” which require transcendent points to fully understand. Take this joke: Red is when you stop; green is when you go; and yellow is when you go really fast. Get it? How did you know the colors I was referring to? Because you’ve driven a car, probably, and have been taught from childhood what these colors mean. Also, you get the joke, because you know yellow is supposed to mean “slow down,” but really we all tend to accelerate so that we don’t wait at the light. Without this “external context,” the joke wouldn’t make sense and wouldn’t work. Similarly, if I join x job to be a project manager, but that job turns out not to have any project managers, and because I joined there I missed an opportunity to be a project manager at y, this is an irony that I can only recognize as irony if I know the circumstances and contexts of my decision which are “external” to the job itself. Nowhere in the job is it evident or clear that I am engaged in irony, and yet that is indeed the case.
It’s another topic, but it is possible that “immanences” like jokes, ironies, and the like, are unique sources of philosophical insight and material (as is the case with “thinking there” and “thinking here”). Perhaps the most profound philosophical subjects are “closed loops” which require transcendent points to be understood.
19. Are “we” really transcendent of “mental scenes” though? A fair question, but though we “make possible” mental scenes, we ourselves are not in them, only “participants.” However, the fact “mental scenes” don’t exist without us means that metaphysics cannot be “dualist” or idealistic, that ultimately we are discussing “between spaces.” The topic of “between spaces” is discussed extensively in “Notes Toward Conditionalism,” but basically it means we cannot understand “transcendent” as “detached” or “nonconditional,” which is to say that something doesn’t have to be free from any “attachment” or “conditionality” to be transcendent. There is “conditional transcendence,” and indeed “real life” is transcendent and “other” from mental scenes. No, “real life” isn’t divine or a god, but it is ontologically distinct, which means it functions as “a transcendent point” relative to the immanence of “mental scenes.”
20. If it was possible to look inside the brain and find neurological activity which proved “x was a memory” while “y was imagination,” this empirical proof would still be transcendent of “mental scenes” themselves.
21. Please note that our distinction between “memory” and “imagination” are based on our “common life,” which suggests the thought of David Hume matters here just as much as it does regarding the topic of “autonomous rationality.”
22. Thinking is ontologically irreducible to us, even if it only exists because we exist. The very fact we can tell memory apart from imagination means we are transcendent of such thought, but that means such thought is also somehow transcendent of us. We cannot reduce it to us, as we cannot reduce us to it: there is “transcendent co-substantiation,” per se, even if thought “emerged” thanks to material. “Reduction” and “emergence” are not equivalent.
23. The word “could” is fascinating regarding thinking, for what “was” also “could have happened,” while it’s not necessarily the case that “what could have happened” is what “was.” The “blurring” which happens in the space of “could,” which is hard to escape due to the difficulty of obtaining certainty (I can’t be sure I am recalling that summer trip when I was a kid perfectly or mis-recalling parts of it), is what makes memory so strange. Currently, I’m wondering what it’s like to remember a scene out of my short story “Heroes” compared to remembering a time I went hiking in the woods as a child. Are the sounds different somehow? Are the visuals? Is there a difference in vividness? I don’t remember my dreams, but they say in dreams that you can’t turn off lights or read text (I don’t know if this is true), and thus we can experience a “lucid dreaming” by trying to turn off a light and realizing we’re in a dream. I wonder if there are similar experiential differences in “memories that happened” and “scenes imagined which only could have happened.” Are there phenomenological clues? Are there secrets?
24. Though memory and imagination are always linked, are there ways to tell “the accidents” apart? To tell which thoughts are predominately one versus the other? Perhaps we can say that there’s something about memory which can feel very natural and effortless: it just “recall” the ball. Imagination can feel like it takes more work, first because it requires choice (I have to decide what color I will see the ball in), which makes it more existential, and second because it just doesn’t “appear to me.” Is “effort” a good indictor? Perhaps, but at the same time, memory can feel difficult to recall as well (especially if traumatic).
25. Memory is the “literary fiction” of thought, a genre.
26. Artificial Intelligence will struggle to “meaningfully organize the world” unless it can refer to experience.
27. The relationship between memory and imagination suggests Gödel, for we cannot define these apart without reference to something transcendent of mental action.
28. The distinction between memory and imagination “appears” where we imagine something which obviously doesn’t exist, like a science fiction story, in the same way the distinction between “perceiving” and “thinking” becomes clear when we perceive a window curtain and think about our grandmother. Most of the time, thinking and perceiving blend like two rivers that join and then divide again later on: so it goes with memory and imagination. The differentiation between memory and imagination is in and under the category of “thinking” though, and both consist of “the same act” of thinking. Hence why the word “thinking” is in the phrases “thinking here” and “thinking there,” and hence why we cannot think of memory and imagination as “essentially” distinct from thinking.
Imagination doesn’t just generate science fiction, but literary fiction, and I would submit hat we cannot tell the difference between “literary fiction” and “nonfiction” from the scenes alone. The only reason we can tell the difference between a scene out of Hemmingway and an event in the Spanish-American War is because of the existence of Hemmingway: if I removed the cover off For Whom the Bell Toils and put on it “historical nonfiction” and dropped it off in an isolated village, nobody could tell “from the novel itself” that it was fiction. So it goes with telling the difference between imagination and memory (assuming the imagination is more like “literary fiction” than “science fiction”).
29. If humans are “(meta)physical,” this would suggest that we cannot assume that Artificial Intelligence is like human intelligence simply because it has “memory,” creativity, and the ability to see. For AI to be human, it must be capable of not merely “thinking here” but also “thinking there,” thus having a chance at the “thinking (t)here” of Hegel’s Absolute Knowing. If AI cannot realize AK, I’m not sure if we can say AI is human.
30. There is no “now,” and what we experience is never “fully” what is there (we don’t experience atoms, we don’t experience all sides of an object when we experience — all taken up in “Read(er)” by O.G. Rose), which suggests that we never have memories which “fully correspond” to the world, only “to a relative degree” as conditioned by ourselves from our “position” in spacetime (and as ontologically calibrated by our being). All meaningful experience is a “thinking (t)here,” per se, and yet “thinking there” and “thinking here” cannot be reduced to one another.
31. The idea that we are “a dialectic of relative transcendences” ties into what Žižek means by “the human subject,” I think, as discussed in “The Human, the Subject, and the Paradoxical ‘Human Subject’ ” by O.G. Rose.
32. To understand immanence, we must exist, which seems like explaining the universe by referring to God. It is a move that is theological in nature, and yet materialists can pride themselves in not being theological. People can argue that the world “looks designed” and thus there must be a God, which is like materialists saying thoughts looks representative, and thus must be material. The argument for God from design is the like the argument for materialism from representation. Now, certainly, there might be a God, and certainly thought might all be emergent of materiality — I’m not saying either of these moves cannot be valid (that would require different papers). Mainly, I want to argue that both moves are “similar in structure” in that they say “x seems like y, and y proves z.” For example: “the universe is suited for life, therefore God exists”; “thoughts represent material entities, therefore thought is material.” None of this necessarily follows. Either could be true, sure, but the arguments themselves are problematic. For materialists to maintain arguments which reduce thought to materialism, I struggle to see how they mustn’t also accept “arguments from design.” The argumentative structures strike me as the same.
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