There are times when I get ahold of something and like a dog with a bone, need to bite down and shake it about until the juicy truth within is cracked open. So much of my studies have centered on not merely understanding reality but in a growing recognition of how relationship of any and all kinds is a fundamental quality of existence. With this in mind I found a series of points I’d created years ago and, with an eye towards filling it out with what I had learned since, came up with ten statements that grow on one another to describe what I take to be the human relation with reality. Food for thought perhaps, articulations of frustratingly confusing points possibly, but in the end I hope at least it inspires some reflection within each of us of just how it is we view ourselves and this crazy wonderful thing we call life.
- The term “reality” is universal in application as it pertains to all things, concepts, etc. both known and unknown. As such, when using the term it is best to keep in mind during discussion what precisely is being referenced to determine precisely what aspect of reality is being considered. This concerns in particular Ken Wilber’s notion of nested reality, noting that everything is context within context all the way down.
- Language as it concerns existential reference instantiated in words, reference or point to something specific. Whether what is being referenced is simply a particular mental status of someone and as such has no more context or truth-claim than that, or is part of another nest within broader reality is why reference is so important to be delineated, since what one references will determine what aspects of reality is being considered.
- Perspective is the conceptual formation of the particular frame of reference other aspects of reality are then subjectively known or understood. It is not of a dissimilar metaphysic since all is of one reality, rather it is the specific way in which the entity relates to reality universal. The very idea of perspective is only possible if there exists more than the subject, otherwise everything would be merely extensions of the individual and not be capable of existence as things or objects in themselves nor understood by any other person in a different manner.
- Subjectivity is not a creative enterprise, but an interpretive one. One does not create a new reality, since all belongs to a singularity, but rather one relates to it differently based on the interpretive devices utilized. These devices, from sense experience to critical rationality, subjection to authority, etc. are not perfect and can be error-prone though the particular error may belong only to a specific aspect of the interpretation, not the entirety. This non-absolute nature of knowledge in no way makes impossible the acquisition of truth in so far as truth is acceptable, as it seems it is required to be, as one of increasing certainty or probabilistic knowledge.
- The interpretive dimension of experience is and only can be known when brought into public discourse via description, i.e. the usage of language. Until this is done, interpretation is merely an imaginative construct, still a part of reality universal but not something that has been demonstrated as being accurate or inaccurate in its depiction of it, hence the need as noted previously of noting whether said opinion is referencing merely a cognitive state or has repercussions beyond the subjective experience.
- The relation a person has to reality can be mistaken as being that of a cause-effect relationship or of a separate disposition in so far as the reality one relates to is seen as somehow fundamentally different than the one relating. This tendency in thought is unavoidable given two issues: one, the nature of perception which requires a biological separation of subject and object to maintain a relational narrative and two, the nature of language as it exists in the form of subject/object/predicate. This gives rise to the phenomenological “I” that western philosophy is obsessed with and is found socially to be instantiated in ego-based individuality and the attachment to things.
- This obsession with separateness and individuality has created a social paradigm surrounding subjectivity that is without warrant, centrally that it is not beholden to any truth standards beyond the mere articulation of one’s point of view. There is no such thing as an “I’ other than as a reference to a particular contextual instantiation of reality. Social practicality may make this impossible to put into every-day practice, at least not without a complete overhaul of our social systems (especially that of the criminological), but that is not to ignore that in discussion of consciousness and related topics, it should be kept in mind in order to maintain an acknowledged relationship with more than mere ego.
- Hence, given the fact that existence exists and that subjectivity is only the interpretation of that reality, not a creative enterprise (at least as previously defined), interpretation is capable of being critically analyzed as either correct or incorrect based as it is in a declaration of what the shared reality is. That the interpretation is felt to be correct by the interpreter is a non-issue, nobody believes something of which they are not convinced or accept to some degree. However, as there are many particular physical manifestations and nests of reality, each one capable of being known in increasing probability, so any particular interpretations can be noted as either more or less accurate than others.
- While it is true that “society” is largely responsible for the definition of words and thus could fall prey to the frustration of a majority rule, this is more a warning to be careful of defining and articulating what is being referenced in any conversation of which the result has multiple ramifications. It is a warning against stopping the continuation of rational discourse, not against the seeming arbitrariness of verbal construction. Care taken in determining the particular reference allows for an identification of just what field or nest of reality is under discussion. A problem arises when a single definition or usage is indicated as enveloping all possible contexts, flattening reality to only one plane.
- The multi-contextual nature of reality requires a multi-perspectival means of relating to it, a power we have in abundance as indicated by the many variations in meaning we may ascribe to any single experience. Recognizing this is not to fall into subjectivism as that would make every manifestation of reality a single flatted plane all on its own, but to take the time to determine and appreciate the web that is of us, in us, and has made us conscious of it.
There is is so much more than these ten points, delving as it could into morality, just what relationships are and so on, of which I will no doubt continue to articulate and share. I hope these thoughts are not considered binding but a starting point brought out of the joy found in continually exploring. Life is not stagnant and neither should we be in living it or knowing it.