Saturday, February 16, 2013

What is called Thinking?


I finally figured it out guys.
Background: What is called thinking? is a book that's a transcribed lecture by Heidegger that's actually more like a sermon. In it he repeats at least 10 times maybe more the mantra like sentence: "what is most thought provoking in our thought provoking time is the fact that we are still not thinking." I have been WTFed by this sentenced for going on six maybe seven years now. Here is what I think.

First we had the golden rule from maybe 5000BC. Do to others as you would have them do to you. This idea is basically the theoretical basis for law, and eventually the more perfect form of law: rule of law. 

Philosophy as reinvented by Galileo represents the epistemological breakthrough that the telescope (a synecdoche for empericism) is preferable to the Pope. This is the renaissance of a certain Greek moment.

Empericism as formalized in Aristotle's criterion of 'demonstrability' was the distillation of the Philosophy movement. A philosopher is an identity invented in distinction to sophists. The best way of translating the word sophist, as pejoratively used by philosophers, is "wise-guy". The words that come out of the mouth of a sophist is true because the sophist is a wise-guy, an expert in a field. A philosopher's words are not true because the philosopher is an expert, indeed, a philosopher does not presume that everything he or she says is true. Rather, a philosopher is a normal person who happens to love (philo) knowledge (sophia), which is external to the philosopher. A telescope is to a philo-sopher as credential is to a sophist (or a pope).

Galileo's provocation begged the question: if the church and the telescope disagreed, who's right? 

Rene Descartes believed in numbers and measuring. He thought: let's use a couple of imaginary rulers to measure nothing - the cartesian coordinates. If you can measure nothing, you can measure anything and maybe just maybe learn something about God. Indeed, by using imaginary rulers to measure space itself, Newton invented physics and in extension all of the mathematical sciences. Nowadays, we can measure production, trade, and consumption with imaginary rulers (and manipulable them with mathematical operations) in the unit of money, an imaginary commodity. Try explaining that to Descartes and even he would be flummoxed methinks. With Amartya Sen and the Human Development Index, we now (try to) measure "the capacity to think for one's self". 

Isn't that what philosophy, especially in its moral dimensions comes down to, whether existentialism, phenomenology (deconstruction), queer theories, or anything else. But thinking for yourself is really not that simple.

Think for yourself. Decomposed to: think, you, self.

Think: thinking has to do with the brain, it has to do with knowledge, language, and education.

You: the person as object. What are the forces that act on you? How do others identify you? What do others want to do to you? What do others demand of you? How do all those forces affect thinking?

Self: the person as subject. What are the forces that you exert on others. What do you want to do to other people and things? How do you identify yourself in relation to other people and things? How do your desires, knowledge, and identity (circumstance) affect your thinking?

If YOU and SELF are taken as exogenous variables, defined by the current state of affairs and your person, THINKING becomes the only endogenous variable, aka the dependent variable. Thinking is a function of a person as subject and object. Thinking equilibriates the relationship between person as subject and object. 

Thinking==F(Person-as-subject, Person-as-object);

If all thinking by all persons come to equilibrium, then there would be no more need to law or rule of law (as the function of law would be implicit in thinking-at-equilibrium). 

So yes, the most thought provoking thing in our thought provoking time is that we are still not yet thinking.
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