Extreme Dialectic: Spinoza and the Term (revisited).

“AS men are accustomed to call Divine the knowledge which transcends human understanding, so also do they style Divine, or the work of God, anything of which the cause is not generally known: for the masses think that the power and providence of God are most clearly displayed by events that are extraordinary and contrary to the conception they have formed of nature, especially if such events bring them any profit or convenience: they think that the clearest possible proof of God’s existence is afforded when nature, as they suppose, breaks her accustomed order, and consequently they believe that those who explain or endeavour to understand phenomena or miracles through their natural causes are doing away with God and His providence. They suppose, forsooth, that God is inactive so long as nature works in her accustomed order, and vice versâ, that the power of nature and natural causes are idle so long as God is acting: thus they imagine two powers distinct one from the other, the power of God and the power of nature, though the latter is in a sense determined by God, or (as most people believe now) created by Him. What they mean by either, and what they understand by God and nature they do not know, except that they imagine the power of God to be like that of some royal potentate, and nature’s power to consist in force and energy.” – Baruch Spinoza.

We do not simply read because we are taught how to do so. If there is an innate ability that merely needs to be awakened in a person then we do not know what it is beyond the Idea. This is because we are creatures that are prone to a type of knowing that I call conventional. As a child we are taught to read but then as we grow into adults we stick with the innately typical, childish orientation upon things and appropriate it into what an adult reality is. We forget that we forgot that we were children, and we remember at some point we remember that we were children; that is, at some point. What do we remember of our being a child? We remember that we were a child, the child that was ‘me’, only through our ability or capacity as adults. We forget that as a child we only behaved, wanted, needed, and appropriated what we were told in whatever manner through our being now being adults. One’s orientation upon the Idea reveals his faith in reality.

Adults then show their children the proper way to read as if it is a way that was innate to being human. What is innate in this way is thus not innate but rather conditioned by a particular manner of coming upon reality. The understanding of this feature of conventional reality is what has allowed conventional method to see and define such terms as ‘ideology’, ‘hegemony’, and the probably most significant term, ‘colonialism’ (please see my previous essays). Similarly for reading (and discussing, for that matter) what has occurred for reality is a colonization of the child by the conventional adult, a colonization that occurs by praising a particular kind of feedback from the child; it is due to this kind of mistake upon reality that perpetuates itself through childish desire for the world, that philosophy is typically misunderstood and misapplied, leading to the marriage of philosophy, ideology and science for the sake of maintaining a particular structure of knowing and power, that is conventional reality. This is the object of history.

We need understand the obstacle created by such a conventional orientation if we are to move beyond the modern-post-modern repetition, as ‘neo-‘ modernism, or whatever new term may be applied to our current philosophical-ideological ‘turn’, is merely a restatement of modernist idealist materialism. Aphilosophy attempts to reveal how this power structure, this particular orientation upon existence, hinders the human being from its actual innate potential.

This essay shows how reading and thus the understanding of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza has been commandeered for the conventional effort.

*

To approach the entry excerpt, we should first see that the functioning or operation of existence is inclusive and consistent at all reaches, but that this is all that can be said of existence itself. Nevertheless, we can extend and explain the meaning of this situation. The statement goes like this: Given a universe, all that exists and is real comprises an effective containment. Every thing, all in its most inclusive meaning, taken together as a totality, is the universe. The universe operates or functions like a grand machine; every element of the universe is interactive with every other element. Nothing is excluded (by definition). Matter is a result, energy is a result, yet if these are not, then they are essential basics. Everything of the universe arises from the same universal substrate. Life arose and or has arisen in concert with every other thing in the universe; no matter how small the linkage, the linking between any separate operations is there, a grand symphony. In this way, distinct objects or elements function of themselves complicitly and intimately with every other object. No essentially segregate object exists. In short, the universe is a closed system. Human beings are also life. Therefore, the activity of human beings likewise exhibits nothing extraneous to the universe’s inherent operation. This represents the basis of the existialist, post-modern dilemma that brought about the late twentieth-century tribulations of angst and crisis; it was a crisis of conventionality, a misreading of the proposed problem that advocated a particular, mistaken, solution.

The problem is just this: what is ‘knowing’? Or more precisely, what is this thing that human beings are capable of doing, that is able to treat and address the universe, that we call thought, concept, problem and solution? The typical answer is the apparent ability. We are capable of analyzing objects or aspects of the universe and discover or uncover true things, if not also basic laws of the operation of the universe.

My answer is another question, which seems an epistemological question but is actually a logistical question: how do you know? By this I mean, how is it possible for you to be or become separated enough from the universe to know these true things, or, the truth of these things?

As reconciliation between the problem and the answer above we have the usual possibilities. One can be called the religious reconciliation, or ‘creationism’. It says that we are created ‘first order’ entities, meaning, God created the universe of an established order of things, and human beings are at the top; we have dominion over the universe as decreed and evidenced by free will. Another can be called the ideological reconciliation, called ‘evolutionism’. Here, human beings are at the top of the order that developed through processes of natural selection; human cognitive ability is merely an adaptation to particular pressures exerted in particular environmental niches. Aside from that polemic; a current scientific notion suggests that our knowledge may not reflect anything of a true universe, and that the question of some essential or absolute basis of objective, universal truth is non sequitur with the real question of truth. For these modern thinkers, truth is a man made item, as well ‘universe’ or ‘objective world’, a formulation of the mind inept for grasping any ‘actual’ or ‘objective’ truth, that therefore merely resorts to practical models based upon solving problems that are presented to the mind. Such problems and solutions are particular to the mind’s ability or capacity, or even purpose in the universe. The assertion of any one of these approaches, even the model of the model, is supposed to limit one’s sense of truth to an either it is this or it is that position.

While these three approaches, and maybe more (these just came to mind), appear to argue with each other, when we begin to think critically about the initial question, we must come to but one solution: the answer is all three. It goes something like this: (A) god created the universe accorded to a particular order that is evidenced in the mind coordinating its own manner to achieve a reasonable development of staged priority in reality, itself as the center to top. While this appears to suggest an actual ‘god’, but really only shows that the idea of ‘god’ is a necessary element in our knowing, if only by the fact that we can consider its truth or falsity, here is a possibly better rendition: The implication involved of a mind coming upon its own ability in respect with its view upon the world is one of a certain effective ‘creator’ imperative, a precipitative aspect of a mind developing along lines that validates its apparent prolific survivability as privilege, even if this privilege asserts its own limited ability to exist through models. If we only come by models, then equally such models comprise the totality of the truth of the universe, as these models describe also their lack as ‘unknown’, and so far as we can know, then argues that what we know thereby these models is necessary for the universe, which means, the idea that we merely know by models is itself not a model but an absolute truth of the universe, which is contradictory to its meaning. For this essay, the attempt of the presentation of these statements then is to release one from the insistence of an either/or truth, and to invite a thinker to view the reality that is actually presented to their knowledge.

But such a comprehensive view of the truth of the matter cannot be achieved without establishing the basis that accounts for human knowledge as the manifestation correspondent with the operating of existence. One cannot hold to an apparent ability without compounding the problem the apparent ability beholds to solve. In this there can be no Hegelian ideal historical consciousness nor a subject-agent of it that moves as some sort of evolutionary spearhead. Neither can there be an ideological backlash that can accommodate or mediate the tendency for such big-headedness. At least, but at most, we can not be ‘inspired’ by some ‘intuitive’ element, some intuited transcendence or some immanent moment that is revealed of our selection, and this is to say, we do not learn from the past; the situation of knowing that is these cases informing the decisions of the day result necessarily. They are correspondent, inseparable.

The problem of resting in the apparent ability is thus located in that tendency to want from these situations. This ‘want’ is a determination of ideological truth that claims a true object. The ‘overdetermination’ of meaning that takes from the meaningful category and establishes the true object, finds itself in the determination of tomorrow as it separates itself from the past as meaning ‘the individual agent of free will’. Currently the history of the overdetermination is written as the process of discovering what this ‘freedom’ really means, a process that cannot help but resituate the vulgarities within a progress, but never really accounts for the supposed ‘progress’ that never saw itself as vulgar before the atrocity. There are other ways overdetermination may manifest, but the functioning of it is always the same: progress justifies the overdetermined state, in our case, freedom. This forgetful disposition defines the conventional Idea, and it is the denial that reveals that convention is not a ‘modeling’ of an unknown totality, but rather is an orientation upon the true object; the overdetermination cannot be an accident; it likewise mist be absolutely necessary in the operation of the universe. The question then is less what freedom means, than what freedom is, or is not.

If the universe is a closed system, this then also means, quite counterintuitivly, that if there is anything that is not of the universe then we cannot know of it, we cannot think of it – damn! – we cannot even think it, in fact – damn! damn! – we cannot even know it. We cannot know that there is anything extra-universal, for if we knew it we would be situating the universe as not the universe, but only a universe – which completely shows how terms do not identify any particular true thing, but only reflect momentary conditions of existence.

One so keen might see this idea in practice as a reiteration of a type leading to an absurd theatre. In one sense they would be right: in the conventional sense; in another, more significant sense, they would be wrong. The conventional orientation for reality is thus the issue that is treated aphilosophically; what we have to breach is the insistence of the conventional orientation upon knowledge.

*

To proclaim that such a statement of existence (inclusivity) defines or otherwise implicates a one universe merely adds upon the first statement and does nothing but limit the meaning of that statement to conventional knowledge. Such a move can be called transformation. What otherwise would be truth has been transformed into conventional reality; the process of conventional knowledge coming to positive terms with its own reality is evidenced in history and its philosophical counterpart, and ‘ends’ with non-philosophy. The process of coming to terms with the truth of the matter is called irony; it includes the critique or rebuttal of non-philosophy (as non-philosophy is a critique of philosophy) that will be called aphilosophy, and the appropriation, which is to say literally: an appropriate- tion, of non-philosophical methods accompanied by an aphilosophical response, that which addresses the point of contention as solution, we shall call metalepsis.

This is to say, knowledge manifests always in human consciousness as a complicity of ‘known’ and ‘unknown’, but that conventional knowledge would unite these ideas in a polemical potential that thereby establishes the true (one) universe against what is ‘not the universe’, or what is absolutely false, its physics and theoretical ideas, with all its accompanying parallel or multi-dimensional possibilities, the individual of free will, past and future.

Furthermore, what should be understood as true is due to this very nature of existence. Terms, being but another procedure in the operation of existence, an operation evidenced as human beings are likewise merely an operation, must necessarily reflect only a present existential manifestation, where substantial elements, elements (not to be confused with the Periodic Table of Elements – we will discuss the appropriation of mathematics and philosophy later) that comprise the functioning of existence, of the universe remain constant while the terms, as a loci of meaning, ‘float’ or are transient labels of momentary significance. The route of the conventional static-metamorphic term (see below) that identify particular true objects must be seen as merely one manner of coming upon existence that is also necessary, but in that it asserts its total omnipresence, it thereby lacks.

The problem presented by Spinoza concerns this feature. All men have an idea of what is Divine or transcendent, or not explainable, in relation to what seems natural, or explainable. It follows that what is extraordinary or contrary is deemed to be stemming or otherwise caused by a transcendent. But this is not so much a statement of his times, as if there are,as an absolute category, people who are ignorant, or ‘superstitious’, in a relation to people who are more ‘knowledgeable’, rather, it is a statement that says human beings are only capable of ‘knowing’ in this manner, that what is not explainable is put off into a transcendent category for knowing.

The point to become aware of is of a differend in knowing. Even today our rationale of reality configures knowledge of the explainable into a category of itself to justify our ‘enlightened’ ability to know. In this manner Spinoza’s argument is placed in a temporal category of ‘past’ that confines the term of his theses to particular absolutely true objects, this is to say, the context of historical progress that sees Spinoza as addressing an ideological or religious situation of his time where superstition and irrationality, or even love of power, still held sway against rationality and truth. Indeed, Spinoza was addressing these items, but in so much as the terms themselves are variable momentary identifiers of existential elements, his argument says much more and actually situates eternal truths concerning the existence of human beings.

We can further situate Spinoza’s in the following manner, as we begin to get a grip on the matter at hand:

{from the introduction to the sixth chapter of “Tractatus-Theologico Politicus”, in italics.}

“AS men are accustomed to call Divine the knowledge which transcends human understanding, so also do they style Divine, or the work of God, anything of which the cause is not generally known: for the masses think that the power and providence of God are most clearly displayed by events that are extraordinary and contrary to the conception they have formed of nature, especially if such events bring them any profit or convenience: they think that the clearest possible proof of God’s existence is afforded when nature, as they suppose, breaks her accustomed order, and consequently they believe that those who explain or endeavour to understand phenomena or miracles through their natural causes are doing away with God and His providence…”

For our current ‘enlightened’ atheistic or agnostic temperament of truth, ‘God’, the term, can be seen as or could be called the unquestioned base of, what I call, ‘conventional’ knowledge. But see, this is not to argue that there is a god or God at root under everything; rather, it is to say that conventional knowledge functions upon a given that is put into the impetus of the ‘potential of the future’ to hold that which is only not yet understood by its method (see also my essay “Aphilosophy, convention, God and faith). The method (conventional methodology), in this way, proclaims the truth of the universe by its universal ability to ‘uncover’ truth (the general rational ‘scientifical’ method). Such as this situation is, the truth of conventional knowledge is most clearly displayed as it ‘discovers’, explains or ‘develops’ things that were thought impossible, especially if it brings people profit or convenience, but also, when convention breaks with its accustomed order, for example, when people kill for the sake of killing, or the Law lets a guilty person go or imprisons an innocent. Exceptions to the rules allow the rules to be refined, more efficient and effective, and thereby enforce the reifying of conventional omnipresence and omnipotence.

The juxtaposition to see concerns how convention is oriented for reality. As indicated above, convention founds its truth in a historical progress of absolute categories, where terms of those categories maintain integral meaning to its object through time, and where terms change, the metamorphosis can be traced. This method sees that the categories ‘nature’ and ‘God’ of Spinoza indicate static elements, and that Spinoza’s argument concerns a critique of the God of miracles and by extension, an argument against the more superstitious rendering of God. His argument thus marks a moment of the progress away from religious hypocrisy or superstitious fantasy toward the more true or real scientific inquiry of nature. Conventional method thus sees itself as the motion and path of truth that has foreclosed the need for superstitious belief through open-minded investigating and explaining natural causes of before-seen miracles of God. In this way, though such superstitious belief is still around, convention has basically reduced all reality to a truth that is, can be, and will be found of nature; in the same motion, God has been pushed to the margins of incorporation with conventional reality; the workings of God are put into rational categories that are readily and easily adjusted for what science explains. In the most liberal of ideas, God is the relative unknown that resides into consciousness by the loose ends of science and psychology. As an effective unknown space, God can help, influence or be persuaded to move with a person and their life; God can comfort as well as create purpose out of misfortune, and of course God can be the inexplicable force behind good fortune. Similarly, God can be a sort of universal energy, still unexplained in its essence, but which can be used for a persons benefit; God in this manner is the basis of spiritual practice such as healthy living, meditation, tai chi, yoga, the 12-steps, and the like. Yet through all of these practices and concepts, God is no longer a truly active agent, but is more an involved element, a reason or result of conventional ideas and practices, all of which have a natural and rational basis of explanation that accounts for them. Furthermore, a necessity of God is not demanded, belief is an individual choice, since everything will have a natural explanation. Conventional reality thus accounts for all that can be explained by including within its potential, within its method of operation, that which is unexplained; nature and God are thereby brought under a general theory, so to speak, of methodology, where all that is explained and not explained is included in its dominion by its potential to make everything (at least, eventually) explainable. Nature as a category is inclusive to God, as creation, and God as a category is inclusive to nature as ‘a god’s’ effect concerns natural elements. In sum; convention has brought ‘God’ into itself, it has done away with a need for God by putting itself in that place. Convention, in this way, has encompassed ‘God and nature’ such that it sees its domain as total, as comprising all that is true, real, and existing.

Consequently, the conventional agent believes that those who explain or endeavor to understand phenomena through their ‘non-conventional’ causes, are doing away with the conventional methodology and its providence. The fact is, though, conventionalists have really no idea what it is to propose true and false, and has no standards but its own arbitrarity by which to place its standards. The nature of this method then corresponds with the next clause of Spinoza:

…They suppose, forsooth, that God is inactive so long as nature works in her accustomed order, and vice versâ, that the power of nature and natural causes are idle so long as God is acting: thus they imagine two powers distinct one from the other, the power of God and the power of nature, though the latter is in a sense determined by God, or (as most people believe now) created by Him. What they mean by either, and what they understand by God and nature they do not know, except that they imagine the power of God to be like that of some royal potentate, and nature’s power to consist in force and energy.

The point Spinoza is making, though he could not know it for the terms of our time, only his, is that the stasis of conventional terms prevents convention itself from falling prey to Spinoza’s formula; such conventional method typically distances itself from Spinoza by calling his position ‘pantheist’. in this way, through conventional progress, reality is presented to have included previously excluded ideas; for example, whereas resort to superstition used to be usual and accepted, now superstition has been debunked. To reiterate; convention thus disclaims God by its rationale, and affirms God so far a conventional method is activated in its considering of the possibility of God. The problem is revealed when what is ‘outside’ or ‘unaccounted by’ conventional reality is brought to bare upon conventional truths of method. The conventional response to this addressing, of elements devoted to the ‘God-ness’ of conventional reality, the ‘unknown’ outside conventional domain of the conventional ‘soon-to-be-known’ method, the effectively ‘miraculous’ or incredible aspect of conventional reality, is to view such non-conventional endeavors to be “doing away with”, what has now to be seen as, conventional ‘God-and-nature’ truth and its providence. Conventional method, offended by the revealing of what it cannot account for, sees the non-conventional or aphilosophical explanation as doing away with what is true, and thus reacts, as methodology usurps or commandeers what should be its true meaning, thereby making it a part of the conventional reality, for ideological, political or religious agendas, or plain calls it non-sense or false.

These are the facts of the matter, the discussion upon the point of contention, aphilosophy, and how it relates to conventional reality; it is the attempt to explain “phenomena” or “miracles” of conventional reality that is and or has been supposed within or by the conventional methodology to be natural, which is to say for much of it, sought in psychology. The irony is in the conventional orientation of itself dealing with nature, when it now must be seen, due to the aphilosophical explanation, that conventional reality is really a religious cosmology, a reality “formed in the mind of its God” that avoids what is natural existence by its very nature of avoiding is own existence. It is the conventional offense, its instilled fear of losing power, that reacts by redistributing true existential meaning onto the real map that is the conventional scheme of meaning that designates and corresponds true objects and their terms. Such conventional methodology would then place aphilosophical description in a particular category of either/or to for the truth of its faith in its own objects. And it is this feature of human existence that then speaks polemically, not relatively, of a universal ethical situation as existentially necessary – a discourse that modern theoretics will find quite distasteful.

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