Archive for December, 2010

New Year’s Eve: resonations and resolutions

December 31, 2010

First, have just heard about WordPress’ daily/weekly post campaign, and have subscribed to the former (as have been posting every day for two months now, so I now do know I can do it).  So will tag posts with postaday2011.  Also want to go through my posts and see if I can organise both their presentation and their prioritisation, as befits a protobook.  This entails learning how to personalise my site.  Will not panic at present ignorance of how to use widgets and gadgets.  Will learn requisite skills.  Very soon.  But not today…

Second, this morning ended the second of my year-plus searches for lost sources of oft-quoted phrases without citations.  The first one was Levi-Strauss remarking that academics never really leave school (Triste Tropiques, Penguin ppb, p60).  The second was Professor of sociology of religion David Martin coining the phrase ‘secular doctrines of chosenness’.  Have at last found it, in his 2007 TLS review of the book Black Mass, by the philosopher and social commentator John Gray.  An interesting overview of some of his ideas can be found here.

During my search also came across two other papers whose line of argument is pertinent: one by Sandywell and Beer, expanding reflexivity to mean iteration, and one by Barham, the first part of which points to gaping teleological holes in supposedly non-teleological biological explanation.  Have no links to these yet, but wanted to flag them for later.

Resonations and resolutions:  the most important things have learned since started doing this daily book-by-blog are a) that I can do it; b) that there’s always something relevant to write about; c) that most posts will eventually finish themselves by returning to the point from which they started and knowing it for the first time (to paraphrase TS Eliot in Little Giddings); d) that as Ecclesiastes notes, ‘of the making of many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness to the flesh’; e) that less is more, but in writing it’s hard to know this, except by the weariness of my flesh.

Think learning to recognise when I want to stop writing in any post, rather than writing on to some eventual resolution, would be one of my writing resolutions, along with putting greater clarity in place of great carefulness.  In this spirit, am going to apply Ecclesiastes’ wisdom right now and stop writing for today.  A Happy New Year to all my readers.

On not being wrong, bad feelings, and taking their opportunity to find out both how you’re right for yourself, and how you could be righter still, without bad feelings

December 30, 2010

This really will be brief, must get an early night, ready to drop all the time at present.

Today bought a copy of Paul McKenna’s book ‘I can make you happy’.  As think have here mentioned before, self-help and coaching books are examples of people’s visions of ‘the good life’.  They seem increasingly seem to emphasise empathy for self as central to self-explication and self-integration, rather than the self-excoriation and self-expurgation that one time used to be seen as central to the good life.  Self-empathy seems an expression of the idea “This above all: to thine own self be true; and it shall follow as the night the day, thou canst then be false to no man” (Polonius’ advice to Laertes in Hamlet).

Yesterday realised that perhaps the most useful aim for my book would be that it attempt to do away with bad feelings that arise from being wrong in one’s own eyes.  Being wrong with oneself reflects and represents conflicts as confricts: that is, apparent behavioural incongruence reflects apprehended believioural incongruence: when two or more beliefs seem irreconcilable.  The only way to be wrong with oneself is to refuse to examine how one’s behaviour reflects one’s believiour, perhaps on the grounds that one’s believiour forbids the keeping of faith with oneself in one’s behaviour (in terms of  one’s consequent or subsequent thinkings and feelings about how one came to do whatever one did, instead allows only the keeping of faith with one’s sources of believiour [parents, teachers, in-groups, etc), not one’s own self.

It is precisely our holding of several beliefs at once that is interesting important evidence of the multitudes we contain, our multiplicity and complexity, that hold us together in our unique internal abundance of embodied experience(s).  Every bad feeling and every conflict is an opportunity for joyful and peaceful and above all richly rewarding recovery of the richness of that experience, for, as and in the person we are today, held together by all the confricted strands of  the skeins of multiple concurrent concomitent contemporaneous but not coterminous experiences of our existence.

Once realising this, once then discovering what the bad feelings mean in terms of unreconciled beliefs, inherent and inherited, we are free to discover and recover our whole selves for ourselves, and decide how to include more of our own selves in every aspect of our believiour and behaviour.  Then both sorts of bad feelings, those that arise from our sense of internal and external incongruence and potential loss of face towards ourselves and others, and those that arise from our sense of internal and external inconsistency and potential loss of faith towards ourselves and others, can be readily resolved.

Kant and Schopenhauer, later, and, Utopia, now

December 29, 2010

Very brief, very tired.

Will do Kant and Schopenhauer later ie tomorrow, can’t do them justice now.  Can just about write noumena, phenomena and ding an sich.  Maybe can also note Plato’s idea that matter is only potential until the form/idea gives it substance in a shape, and Aristotle’s disagreement…

Can write a bit about Utopia.  On Laurie Taylor’s Thinking Allowed today, with a panel of eminent thinkers, the asserted limitedness of new year’s resolutions was the start of a discussion about whether Utopian aspiration and actualisation has been abolished by 20th century utopias’ descent into dystopias.  It was asserted that no one wants to resolve to change the world or make it a {better, kinder, fairer, more equal} place (insert quality of your choice).

Plato’s Republic and Moore’s Utopia, and other philosophers’ ideas of the good life in the good place, and as modern examples Marxism and Stalinism (and in passing Hitler’s fascism) were mentioned, along with the idea that utopian thinking starts in childhood, in some forms of play that it was remarked maybe most kids don’t get today, what with technology and all [well, someone had to say it] [this was heavy irony: this view is prejudiced].  The latter two or three were discussed alongside the potentially discredited idea of historical necessity.

Thinking about the tone of the discussion, with its sweeping generalised prejudices justifying nostalgia and pessimism, it occurred to me that citing any kind of transcendent rationale, like historical necessity, is completely unnecessary.

All that is necessary is that we want whatever utopia we envisage, the good life as characterised by whatever qualities, a better life that we can imagine.

No-one mentioned Rifkin’s ‘The Empathic Civilisation’.  They did mention the environmental crisis as potential dystopia discovered because science has allowed us to measure the impact of our technology on the environment.  But that isn’t the point.  The point is similar to the one made above, that we are no longer inured to the suffering we inflict on others.

In both these cases the rationale for action is in the here and now, in the present-day correlations and consequences, in present-day practical and contemplative disenchantment with everyday dystopias.  Someone noted that bureacracy had actually helped to improve life, personal records and welfare policies allowing everyone to benefit from benefits, an interesting thought.

My ideas are utopian.  What I want to abolish is shame, blame, flame and fault, as aspects of the idea that you can lose face with others or with yourself, be exposed, be found out, be revealed as a liability to others and/or to yourself.   Doing away with  involves doing away with the idea of wrongness.  It involves validating the idea that wanting is okay.

Wanting seems to me the primary characteristic of existence, as expressed in properties and propensities of reactivity and responsivity/responsiveness.  Wanting is an inherent intendency in existence and/as experience, as iterativity.  However, it isn’t intentionality, and it isn’t optionality, it is obligate iterativity.  (cf Rogers 19 propositions among which is “people exist to enhance themselves”; no-one does anything [in order] to anything, they do it because as Schopenhauer remarks “they can will no other”.  But these need explicating as well.  Not now…

Will leave it there for now…


Free will and responsibility, experience, perception, conception, congruence

December 28, 2010

This is only a taster, too late for more.  This evening was reading a Wikipedia article on philosophers’ arguments about free will and discovered that Schopenhauer had articulated a view of the will quite similar in some regards to mine, although arriving at entirely different inferences, interpretations, and implications.  This is taken from that article:

“Arthur Schopenhauer put the puzzle of free will and moral responsibility in these terms:

Everyone believes himself a priori to be perfectly free, even in his individual actions, and thinks that at every moment he can commence another manner of life. … But a posteriori, through experience, he finds to his astonishment that he is not free, but subjected to necessity, that in spite of all his resolutions and reflections he does not change his conduct, and that from the beginning of his life to the end of it, he must carry out the very character which he himself condemns…

In his On the Freedom of the Will, Schopenhauer stated, “You can do what you will, but in any given moment of your life you can will only one definite thing and absolutely nothing other than that one thing.”  In his Aesthetics he avers that the Will as a thing in itself is evil.

Carl Rogers also articulated a view of the impact of personal experience on self-concept in relation to perceptual fields. In some ways his view is similar to Schopenhauer’s, for example regarding self-consistency; in other ways, for example the possibility of change, it’s quite different.

How these fit into the philosophical and psychological pantheon, I don’t yet know.   Attempt reconciliation tomorrow.

A bit more on perception and conception

December 27, 2010

Have revisited more theories of perception, of self, others, contexts and contents, since perception is materially meaningful to and meaningful material for the imperative of this book-by-blog: deriving or devising and developing a rigorous epistemology for experience, as a prerequisite for a rigorous ethics of expedience.

The James-Lange theory of emotion suggests we’re afraid because we run away: physiological responses to experience arise before emotion; emotion is seen as our psychological reaction to our physiological reaction.  Cannon recognised various physiological reactions to adrenaline (now recognised as a wide range of reactions across various species, although long confined to the first and still best known two, fight and flight) (faint, flop, freeze, flit, flip, flap, fart, fall, fix, are others).  The Cannon-Bard theory posits that physiological reaction and emotional response are simultaneous (as Cannon recognised immediate physiological reactions, this argument that those reactions are accompanied rather than followed by feelings seems inconsistent).  A third model, the Schachter-Singer or two-factor theory, suggests that there are two components in a response to an experience: a physiological response, and a cognitive interpretation of that response relative to the context.  All seem related both each other, and to Bem’s self-perception theory, in which emotions follow actions.  Cognitive dissonance theory seems quite similar, albeit the post-event interpretation of one’s behaviour and believiour is seen as explaining the experienced internal conflict to the extrapolated imaginary context. Carl Roger‘s ideas on congruence also seem similar.

All these models seem to me to have generic and specific validities, and to be capable of integration.  However, hearing today someone arguing that empathy might be ‘a Darwinian evolutionary strategy’ enforced by our genes, remembered again the persistent teleology pervading biology, in which any expression of existential experience that happens to appear to have an expedient functional consequence, however contingent the expression or the expedient, is likely to be seen as a strategy, to be done [in order] to do whatever.  Such teleology is bizarre beyond belief.  Metabolisms metabolise energies and elements in environments; morphisms reflect metabolisms: embodied experience, literally.

Anything within any metabolism as morphism is metabolic so morphic; all movement is metabolic first, then morphic.  What has to be explained metabolically is how repetitions of movements take place.  Since movements can be elicited by empathy (feeling an overwhelming urge to clear one’s own throat when hearing a speaker with a frog in their throat), the issue is coming up with consistent cognet explanations of intendency, elicitation and actuality, not intentionality.

It’s okay to be anthropomorphic in explaining behaviour by analogy with anthropos, since multicellulars, vertebrates and mammals are fairly similar.  It’s vital to make sure we have a tenable coherent and consistent model for anthropos. Arguably we aren’t intentional at all (cf free will).  The present explanatory model has no epistemological validity.  We have projected a renaissance-man rationally-interest-calculating pseudo-anthropos onto abstract evolutionary forces, locating a strategising daemon in our genes alongside a selective deity in the natural environment.

The irony is that there is no need at all for any of this, as metabolic material meaningfulness will explain everything .  However, have already discovered that pinning down objections to teleology, especially in the form of intentionality, is really difficult, despite iterativity substituting perfectly well.  Not to be attempted when in need of an early night.

First principles 3

December 26, 2010

This will be brief; have learned from yesterday’s interesting confrict (sic).  Holding two or more apparently incompatible ideas at once  is sometimes seen as potential or actual cognitive dissonance;  having a propensity to infer one’s attitude to aspects of life (aka believiour) from one’s actions (aka behaviour) is one form of self-perception.  Want to address these, but not now.

Sets of first principles so far have been on responsibility and response-ability, and on forms of categorical imperative.

This set is about properties and propensities of action.  Previously have argued that iteration rather than intention is the primer, prompter and precipitator of most or all actions, and that existence is characterised by iterativity, conditioned by similarity and familiarity, constrained by variability.  First principles of existence and coexistence.

1.  All entities in their existence and experience are characterised by constant and consistent iteration and iterativity, as the inherent intendency of experiential existence (a sort of resonance?)

2. Iterations result in irruptions, which result in interruptions, which result in itinerations, as iterations in the adjacent possible.  This is how all change occurs, as accumulating iterations impinge on and accustomise ongoing iterations.

3. Iterativity rests on contexts, contents, conditions and constraints being experienced as having (sufficient) similarity and familiarity despite inevitable variability, to prime, prompt and precipitate similar and familiar experiences.  Slight variability in each iteration gradually accumulates and accustomises iterativity, hence itinerativity.

Obviously this needs explanation.  Tomorrow.

Ho hum and heigh ho…

December 25, 2010

The original title I gave tonight’s post was ‘Amendments to yesterday’s post: straight vs scripty operations, and Monbiot’s ‘Heat”.  In the first paragraph, seem to decide to defer editing of yesterday’s post, then went ahead and did it, also addressing straight and scripty operations.  Perhaps having that title agenda (kept as a placeholder and reminder) constituted an ongoing imperative.  Interesting to examine how to get from scripty to straight, so as to be able to do what one really believes is best, in truth to one’s own (not owed) self, one’s own (not owed) vision of the good life, one’s own (not owed) view of real reality.  Examination may elicit and elucidate criteria for distinguishing ‘own’ from ‘owed’.

Rereading yesterday’s post, believe it could do with some editing, but it’s already late on Christmas Day, so any editing attempted now will probably be about as opaque as the original, which also suffered from over-extension (of personal resources like time and concentration).  Easier tonight to write briefly about straight and scripty operations, and George Monbiot’s book ‘Heat’.

Post hoc it seems obvious that ‘ease’ wasn’t then what was most important to me, as have spent an hour at least editing yesterday’s post.  This was partly because there seemed no easy way to tell any accidental readers (!) that an edit of opaque bits was planned.  My first ideas for telling readers about my proposed edit seemed potentially ineffective, and so I just ‘bit the bullet’.   My belief context seems over-careful; often I don’t take my feeling I ‘don’t want to edit tonight’ seriously enough to look hard for ways to address the problem of potentially putting off readers with off-putting prose.  Of course, the tireder I am the worse my prose, so this is a wonderfully self-perpetuating problem. On the other hand, this conflict provides material for examining difficulties in reconciling ‘want to’, ‘have to’, doing one’s best, and so on.

Think it’s illustrative enough to let it stand for tonight, as an example of/for applying principles to practical problems.


First principles 3, and further explication and integration

December 24, 2010

Straight on from yesterday, first.  More about the script.  Don’t recall the third set of principles right now: it will return.

The script has several pseudo-prophylactic and totemic-talismanic characters that obscure its role in perpetuating the very dreaded disaster that it purports to protect against and so prevent.  Ironically, on enlightened examination, all there seems to be to ‘the dreaded disaster’ is the disaster of dread of disaster.  How much of all of this is due simply to the anthropic capacity for experiencing one’s experience, and how much of that is due to (ie obligate upon) having a brain of two halves, and several sense-reception and -response systems also of two halves, all operating not quite in synch, not quite symmetrically, nor quite simultaneously, is not entirely clear.  Multi-cellular morphic modalities, eh?

First, the script system in itself embodies what Steven Karpman named the Drama Triangle, the system of role switches during life’s various vicissitudes if and when these are experienced as pre-ordained ever-imminent impending dramas, with the central roles of victim, rescuer, persecutor. Script-driven and script-ridden people see themselves as a danger to themselves and others, so they (and others) seem both potential persecutors and potential victims of  themselves, according to script predictions of dreadful disaster.  The counterscript is their (carers’) attempt to rescue themselves and others from themselves (although ‘rescue’ often entails others persecuting them [‘it’s for your own good’], or them persecuting themselves).  The antiscript is their intermittent/eventual protest at the lifelong burden laid on them, of the dread of the script and the dreadfulness of the counterscript, and entails persecution (even imaginary, in terms of perpetual resentments, grievances and grudges) against their original would-be rescuers, their families of carers, who in continuing to live in their own scripts (where as well as being a danger to themselves they might also be a danger to their children, if they didn’t bring them up properly ie with the script apparatus) gave both generic and specific scripts to their now-scripted children.  (Dr Seuss’ story ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas‘ addresses some script-similar issues.)

One purpose of this analysis is to point up the parallaxes and paradoxes of the script as a means to any sort of good life. Since the script has at its core the drama triangle with its multiple frequent role switches, all roles entailing persecution of oneself and others at least some of the time, perpetuating any sort of script, including those of/in origination myths, perpetuates persecution.  Several other seeming paradoxes that are actually parallaxes arise from the script position, (all of which I want to set out somewhere, but not here).

One salient question is this: given the evident absurdity of the script-counterscript-antiscript as a prophylactic against disaster, how is it that it doesn’t dissolve itself?  How is it that the various equally ineffective elements (ineffective in realising truth to self, truth to the good life, and truth to reality) don’t actually cancel out each other?  It seems likely that this is the same real-time development-distribution position that produces fractals and the various (posited) forms of matter in the universe, ie, ordinary heavy bright/light matter, dark matter, anti-matter, mirror matter:  that energies and elements are not actually developed and distributed in synch, symmetrically, simultaneously, so they literally aren’t in a position to combine to cancel or dissolve each other.

The script represents the dreaded disaster that ‘may/might/must’ occur if we are true to ourselves and our own visions of the good life and views of real reality.  Persistent pervasive and pernicious examples of this belief are all origination myths that are premised on some version of  ‘original sin’.  (Terry Pratchett illustrates this well in his book ‘Nation‘.)  Underlying any version of ‘original sin’ is the idea that from the moment we emerge into existence as an entity we are experienced by others as dangerous to ourselves and to others, and eventually we are likely to come to concur, when we have learned to experience existence’s various vicissitudes not as inevitable, in general if not always in particular, but as provoked and/or precipitated by our being ourselves, living with partial freedom, power, knowledge, making important decisions with insufficient data.

Probably (extrapolating this model despite being drawn from too small a sample) all central elements in any universal script-type or unique script will also reflect victimise-rescue-persecute dynamics  scripts.  So a specific script of ‘suffer in silence/ never want/ be blameless- but get blamed- and take the blame’, roles respectively for Script/Victim/Child [Free/Natural Child], Counterscript, Rescuer/Parent/ [Adapted Child], Antiscript/Persecutor/Adult [Rebellious Child] mirrors a generic script, say Sisyphus in a series of failed enterprises, ‘is an orphan/be a hero (fail) – try hard (overdo it) – goof off’.  The Waif’s  ‘is an orphan (literally or metaphorically)/be a good helpful girl – do your duty, don’t complain – get left out/alone (due to over-carefulness and over-complaining) ‘ has similar unique specifications (later for these).

As noted yesterday, the irony is that the script doesn’t and can’t prevent or protect against dreaded/dreadful disaster, simply because the main disaster is the dread of disaster that precludes responsiveness to one’s existential experience, recognising and realising truth to oneself, one’s vision of the good life and one’s view of real reality.

What’s more, the script doesn’t actually alter how we live our lives, since most of our lives (Pareto’s 80%) are based on skills and knowledge learnt as children, adolescents or adults.  All it does is interpose or impose an imaginary invisible cloak (like the Emperor’s New Clothes) between us and ourselves, an imaginary cloak of invisibility that obscures our recognition that we’re always doing what we believe we want (= seems best = have to do).  This cloak seems to offer us magic protection against the nemesis we fear and dread for our hubris or chutzpah if we exercise our own judgement.  Since we’ve experienced disaster if we do what we want ( = seems best = have to do), even if the disaster was ‘only’ our parent’s/carers’ fear or reproach, we try to see what we’re doing as what we have to do rather than what we want to do.  Of course, working out what we ‘have to do’, even if it’s what our parents told us to do, still employs our own judgement.

One irony is that this problem, of life’s being uncertain so that we have to make decisions without enough information to ensure desired outcomes, is actually life’s basic problem, hence the Buddhist doctrine ‘be unattached to outcomes’.  Any rituals that seem to offer ways to be or seem secure are dubious, unless the security they offer is that of stating clearly that uncertainty and insecurity really are the case, perhaps further stating that in many ways this uncertainty and insecurity really doesn’t matter, or at least needn’t matter, all that much, most of the time.

The reality is that we often do have to do whatever it is that we do, but not for scripty ‘I didn’t want to do it’ reasons. We do it because it seems to us to be the best (=only) thing we can do at that moment, perhaps because it’s all we know how to do, to earn a living for example, in other words impetuses in immediacies as imperatives, as our own vision of the good life, and our own view of real reality, thus our truth to ourselves, at that moment.  What we do is or could be almost always straight: straight recognition that often all we can do is ‘get on with it’, ‘get away from it’, ‘get rid of it’, or ‘get nowhere with it’.  As long as we’re straight about that with ourselves, then we can act from and on our principles: truth to self, to the good life, to real reality.

We do act straight in the immediacy, knowing at that moment that doing what we want to do is doing our best, the best we can do then, so what we want, but then also quite often, if we aren’t quite happy about whatever we did, instead of keeping faith with ourselves as inevitably doing our best, while examining the belief context through which we came to believe whatever we did was the best we could do at that moment, in the discomfort of dissonance between ourselves then and ourselves now, we may obscure this recognition by making ourselves and/or others wrong, in internal or external dialogue (putting/taking ‘the blame’).

If on examining our belief contexts for our actions, we find ourselves feeling somewhat conditioned and constrained, we might then seek to expand the conditioning and constraining contexts of our views of reality and our visions of the good life by examining them in the light of our experience of discomfort or doubt about some aspects of our actions.  If we don’t examine our believiour or our behaviour, it is our belief context (of non-examination) that seems best to us.  Scripty or straight, we always inevitably do what seems best to us as we want to do, albeit experienced as what we have to do, without guarantee as to best outcome, only an experienced imperative to do what seems best to us at that time, as the only time and the only way we can act.

First principles 2, and partial integration with previous principles and posts

December 23, 2010

Again schematic.

1.  We are responsible for all our believiour and behaviour, as expressing how we believe and feel and think, and how we behave and do and act, including all that we feel, think, say, and do, and also, all that we don’t feel, think, say and do.

2.  We aren’t responsible for others’ reactions to our expressed believiour and behaviour, but we are responsible for all our responses to their reactions, insofar as our behaviour reflects and represents our believiour about relationships.

3.  We aren’t responsible for others’ reactions to our responses, but we are responsible for the relationships in which those actions and reactions and responses and further reactions and responses are meaningful and important to us.

All this being responsible may sound like a heavy – er – responsibility.  In fact it’s a logical extension in/as application of the previous set of first principles.   It’s up to us, and down to us, to work out what we believe, which conditions and constrains how we behave, how and what we feel and think and do, our facts and acts.

More than that, it’s a freedom – a freedom to get to know oneself and so to act as oneself.  The set of responsibilities outlined above apply primarily in the primary lifelong relationship we have, with ourselves.  While our relationships with our families are a conditional context for our relationships with ourselves, our relationships with ourselves are the constraining context for all our other relationships.  Our responsibility is to ourselves for ourselves as ourselves.

If we feel some feelings we aren’t happy with or about, if we feel bad or mad or sad or ‘frad’ (another neologism, for the sake of alliterative phonaesthesia, and because angr and rangr mean grief and rage and fear as noted here (quite a long way into that post)), then it’s up to us and down to us to examine our feelings, with empathy (admittedly empathy for ourselves can be painful sometimes) and compassion (and compassion can be painful too) for ourselves, to understand ourselves and where and when and how we acquired the various beliefs that give rise to our various painful feelings.

As we always do what seems to us most important to do, our believiour and behaviour reflect that, so there’s no blame. We may believe we are beholden to believe according to our inherited traditions to belong in our inherited traditions.  We are free to believe whatever we want to believe, be true to ourselves, our vision of the good life, our view of reality. We do anyway, inevitably, inescapably.  It’s just that we often tell ourselves that we don’t, so as to feel safe being good (doing what we don’t want to do but have to do: which is actually impossible). As Sheldon Kopp notes, we are free to do whatever we like, we need only face the consequences.  We’re already doing what we like, and taking the consequences.

Of course we had our own view of the world originally, until we began to understood that people around us believed that ‘dire consequences’ of dreadful disasters unknown to us but foreseen by family, community and society, might attend our doing what we wanted to do, so we had better do what others told us to do.  We didn’t know that others’ fears were both specific perceptions of real reality (fi fire burns, there are laws) and generic conceptions of the good life (fi spare the rod and spoil the child, the ‘best’ school is best), of parents having and wanting to be and being able always to protect their children from everything, from parents trying to be true to themselves and their inherited traditions.  And so on backwards and forwards forever, until someone finds the courage to challenge the traditional beliefs that purport to ward off the disasters awaiting people being themselves instead of choosing to subject themselves to the traditional beliefs, however reprehensible some of these may seem, however far they may seem from implementing a true-to-self categorical imperative.  Truth to self relative to categorical imperatives requires principled examination.

A criterion for determining a categorical imperative more rigorous than the one produced by Kant can be proposed.  One should act only as one could and would wish anyone and everyone to act toward anyone or everyone, including anyone at all acting towards one’s own or anyone’s child, or one’s own or anyone’s child acting towards their own child, or your own child, or your or their partner or parent, or some trusting animal or anything you can feel empathy with.

This thought-experimental exploring of exactly who might act towards whom exactly as you felt or feel obliged to act, towards yourself or anyone else, is the expression-of-experience-evoked existential-experience-as-epistemology of/as empathy as a criterion for ethics and expedience/expedients experienced as impetuses in immediacies as imperatives.

Exploring how you might feel if your actions in your generic or specific situations were adopted and enacted towards any and/or everyone/thing you love, especially any/everyone/thing for whom you have empathy and compassion, whether the current impetus in the present immediacy would still be experienced as the most important so imperative, is a means of discovering meanings behind or beyond those immediately present.  The feelings you feel as you explore, your own feelings of love and pity along with pain and fear of pain and fear for those you love, enable vital empathy with yourself and others to be mediated by this empathy with imagined beloved others in imaginary similar situations, although empathy might be experienced by you as unavailable or inaccessible for yourself to yourself from yourself.

Interestingly and ironically, this state of dyssympathy, unempathy, with one’s own self, of alienation and abandonment of oneself by oneself, is one result of parents caring for their children, so trying to prevent and protect against disaster. As babies and toddlers we did whatever we did whenever because we wanted to, and protested vigorously if prevented. Only as our pastimes and protests aroused conflict in carers, who then sought to prevent both pastimes and protests, did we start to censor our wants according to what seemed safe or at least safer, and to seek permission to feel safer, without understanding the inheritance-constrained contingent nature of many parental fears and responses to them.

Also interestingly and ironically, attempting to stay safe through relinquishing one’s own vision of the good life and view of real reality, or at least referring one’s vision and view to another’s, are in a sense doomed to failure in two ways, since both the sticking to the seeming safety of another vision and view and the actual application and implementation of another’s vision and view entail adopting these as one’s own vision and view.  So it’s always one’s own vision and view even if it’s another’s that one’s preferring over one’s own.

The script, counterscript and antiscript of Transactional Analysis are pre-pubertal and adolescent introjections of parental visions and views.  The script is the unknown but dreaded disaster that parents fear will befall their children if they’re allowed to do whatever they want to do and aren’t kept safe by a set of prohibitions with limited permissions.  The counterscript is the set of injunctions and instructions that parents pass on to prevent unknown dreaded disaster.  The antiscript is the inversion of the counterscript prohibitions and permissions and injunctions and instructions, out of increasing alienation and/or accumulating frustration, and perhaps deadening disappointment at the dullness of life, or exhaustion of the counterscript in terms of avoiding disaster (fi if you ‘have to’ ‘try hard’ all your life to ‘avoid failure’ you may end up with ulcers or high blood pressure or a heart condition or a stroke, precipitating your feared disaster).

The irony here is that the unknown dreaded disaster of the script actually can’t be prevented by any sort of protection, because it’s the basic condition of life as lived.  We do whatever we like (mutatis mutandis), and face the consequences.  Remembering that we always do what seems to us imperative to do, in truth to ourselves, our visions and our views, as what we believe we have to do (or die in some way that means a dreadful death), so we want to do, it might seem worth reviewing our perception of realities (hence the pressing need for an epistemology for/of experience) and revisioning our conception of the good life (hence the pressing need for an ethics of expedience), so we can find a way of returning to our original truth to self, albeit tempered with our experience both of  actual real reality and of potential good lives, so more our post-script than our pre-script, our responsibility tempered with our experience of our response-ability.

First principles 1

December 22, 2010

Very schematic outline of the first set of essential principles, just to put them down here.

1. Everyone always does what they want to do in any moment, with want being what is experienced as most important to the actor in that situation and thus obligatory, with importance involving three main components: truth to oneself, truth to one’s conception of the good life, and truth to one’s perception of real reality.  Of these three the first is always the first, especially because the latter two are mediated by the first.  Everyone is thus ethically entirely equal in action.  NB This isn’t about human nature; it is about nature as humans understand it.  Everything seems obligate in its actions and interactions across existence (at least as everything and its actions and interactions are experienced by humans), not ever facultative (or) under a principle of calculation of interest, but always responding to events by imperatives. No trade-offs, CBAs, enlightened self-interest operate, only a simple cross-species principle of experienced imperative.

2. This imperative is experienced as a categorical imperative rather than a hypothetical imperative, in Kant’s terms: actors believe they are acting as they would wish everyone would act in that specific situation as they experience it, being themselves.  Even if their actions violate their strongest ethical principles, nevertheless in that moment they are acting as they believe everyone could, would and should act in that situation if everyone experienced it as they do, even if they believe this only at and for that moment.  NB An integral reciprocal relationship exists among the terms ‘could’, ‘would’ and ‘should’, that follows from the argument here about obligateness: ‘could’ implies ‘experienced as actually possible in real reality, ‘would’ implies ‘wants to’, in the terms outlined above for ‘wants to’, ie as truth to self, and ‘should’ implies ‘experienced as realising some aspect of the good life’.

3. If after that action, and/or after the event (or possibly even during it) actors come to experience that although at that moment (or the moment before) they believed they were acting as they believe everyone could, would and should do in that situation, so were effectively operating under a categorical imperative, they now no longer believe that, the critical path analysis issue is one of keeping faith with oneself as inevitably always having been implementing the three principles of truth to oneself, truth to one’s perception of reality, and truth to one’s conception of the good life, all of them and especially the first, in order to understand exactly how one’s actions seemed imperative at that moment.

Two brief remarks for address later:  inevitable changes in one’s truth to self, perception of reality, and conception of the good life, occur through continually accumulating experiences of differing contexts and different consequences.  Encountering different expressions of differing experiences changes internal and external contexts and consequents, however these are encountered in life’s existential experience.  We are entirely made up of embodied experience and its concomitant embedded explanations, embudded expressions, and embod(h)ded expedience, and we resonate with empathy to evocations of our own unique experiences in and by any unified, uniform and/or universal expressions of others’ experiences.