December 13, 2004
(Swans - December 13, 2004)
More than twenty years ago, and again two years ago, I wrote a paper on relative value.
In it, I wrote about Wittgenstein's concerns straddling Popper's perspectives on the
propensities dispersed within probabilities.
Wittgenstein set conundrums: "How do you teach a blind man red?" He set limits not only on language, per se, but also on our individual and collective boundaries, limits, abilities to conceptualize, to see actualities. And then, having set them, to lock ourselves in, to live within them. Reich's "emotional plague" is one such set.
Popper would sneer and rage at the cages created thereby. He insists, if you will, that the probabilities inherent in Wittgenstein's conundrum may make it unlikely that a blind man could be taught red, although not impossible.
Red, to the Popper-minded, perhaps those scientifically inclined in their own perceptions, has qualities, that is, values which lie outside the purely visual.
We may, if we will, assume an openness to broader ranges of possibilities, indeed, probabilities. We may develop or actualize senses and sensitivities otherwise contained, constrained, by our self-imposed limitations, that is, our assumptions of limits in actuality unlimited.
Red, upon closer investigation, has myriad values unavailable or beyond capture by human patternings of the visual. The spectrum sensed is only a small portion of the spectra available. People who may see, report that they can't see. Or, perhaps, people can see yet will not see. Selective perception is a well-documented human trait. More simply, the physical ability to see, in critical ways, blinds seers.
Wittgenstein's language puzzles are not, then, in opposition to Popper's pronouncements. Instead, they suggest the obvious. Namely, there is more involved, more available, more to be learned, more to see than ordinarily, than specifically seen by nominally or physically sighted.
Quite logically, a blind man whose senses are otherwise developed may ask, "How do you teach the sighted to see?"
The critical assumption, the limiting constraint to the sighted is that a blind man is blind. The naming to a blind man of an assumed unseen quality of sight named "red" is simply arrogant. How blind! How blinding!
These areas of speculation and these areas of inquiry may then be seen, by which I mean both intuited and grokked, as occulted, hidden, by both thought and language.
Sorry, Karl, both you and Luki can be and probably are damned and blessed by your propensities to blind yourselves in your own brilliance. Few can withstand the dimensional perspectives of your immense and overbearing egos.
When I acknowledge my limitations, my tendencies to perceive within relative values, when I see my blinders; I open options perhaps previously unseen.
To those locked into one dimension, there is nothing other than point.
To those locked into two dimensions, there is nothing other than line.
To those locked into three dimensions, there is nothing other than space.
Given a probability that I define my space by time, I define myself, my space, my world, my universe, my cosmos by very limited, very limiting concepts commonly known as "reality." I name them "past," "present" and "future." I am unaware that I have accepted, if not created for myself a totally linear perceptual acuity. Do I know how little I see within the ranges of actualities available, if I will only look?
I suggest that we look with open awareness, open senses. Can we, will we, see other than we do? That I can see other than I do see. Will I?
This seemingly complex challenge, given perspective, is quite simple in actuality. Understanding that perspective is a strict function of the individual, unique to each individual, my actualities and my expressions of them remain outside yours. Perhaps there may be overlaps within which we can make approximations of each other more explicit. Being outside in no way implies advanced, better, more than and so on and so forth. Rather, it would be otherwise bounded, differing parameters, if you will. We are trapped, although not necessarily condemned, by our imprecision of expression...and smacked, smashed, crashed into Wittgenstein's language obsessions.
Who can or will desert the linear for the non-linear? Who will drop the dimensional for the multi-dimensional? How may we, I, surrender "either/or" for "both/and." And, simultaneously, acknowledge that "both" and "and" are limited, limiting and dimensional?
Actuality is and remains multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, multi-variate. All at all times vociferously interacting and operative in all dimensions far beyond the three assumed as binding and blinding.
Wisdom exists. Denial persists. We persist in denying the knowable without acknowledging the limitations of dropping limits. It is commonly said that absolutes are unknowable. We need not, however, settle for so little.
We, perversely perhaps, dive headlong into epistemology, the boundless questions of knowing what may be knowable. We want to drape ourselves, to be clothed, costumed totally by our own creations.
Arrogant given that knowing the unknowable is unknown. Evident given the relative actualities that my actualities are not yours, never can be yours.
We dance about each other to the extent we connect at all in a blind man's bluff of pretense and illusion that my red is your red. We give red long lists of names much as Inuit have names for snow far beyond the ken of temperate and tropically defined actualities.
Therefore, philosophically, it is neither Karl Popper nor Ludwig, Luki, Wittgenstein. It is also far beyond both Popper and Wittgenstein. To be limited by either perspective, to define perception either way, is to fail to see, to grok, the myriad reds and thereby to deny them. By denying them, we define ourselves. By defining ourselves thus, we are condemned. We choose to be blind. We overlook sightedness. We doom ourselves to be sheep. Or is it lemmings?
My moment of life cries out.
The Heart Sutra of Buddhism* directs us to seek beyond the beyonds of beyond. There we may realize the actualities of a moment as the expanses beyond. A consummation devoutly to be wished.
*In Sanskrit: "Om, gate, gate, paragate, parasum gate, Bodhi, swaha."
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