My Philosophy: Introduction to Polytropos, Origins and Prosaic
"I am nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody, too?"
I have left the cemetery, dear reader. Western philosophy is dying, and we have our culture standing about, awaiting a miracle. They won't call time of death, and swoon for those who offer medicines, cure-alls, and the secrets to an immortal life. Among their beloved tombstones, the Western man now stands, boots soaked in blood, his righteous indignation making a stench in the air.
I write this, an introduction to my philosophy, to give context to all the work I have written to this point. To finally reveal to you, eager, dear reader, what informs a man such as myself. Aristotle was the architect, and Nietzsche was dynamite, and here I am, the polytropos. A man of many ways, of many forms. Clever, deceitful, and noble, I present unto you the beginnings, the roots of my philosophy. The Polytropic Theory of Emergence grows from a disgust for the stench of the rotting flesh of Western philosophy, which has nothing left to say but everything left to repeat. I stand outside the cemetery, and I have shut the book on Plato. No more footnotes to him! Stand on your own! Let us move beyond this transcendental dream, and unto an emergent truth. Let us move beyond Western culture finally, let us dare as Odysseus did and shake our fist at every God we may, outwit them, and move beyond this Hell. May we go forth, to the greatest challenges ahead, and answer every great challenge that calls, not with a call to who we think we are, but to what we are. When a challenge calls for our name, may we answer, "I am nobody!" Throw off your beliefs, your identities, your dreams, and join me!
Origins; Or Negating Metaphysics
I wish to begin my introduction by arguing that metaphysics, as it has been presented, has been a lie. The Western man and his obsession with a transcendental reality, a structure to justify himself, has long said the issue with our perception of reality has been that it transcends not only what we can perceive but the very appearance of reality. We are to, ultimately, have faith that there is not only something to see but also something beneath the perceptions we have. That for every phenomena we see, it conceals some transcendental structure. This transcendental structure is most famously known through the establishment of Plato's Theory of Forms and Kant's Metaphysics of the thing-in-itself.
We are given these theories, from the minds of fellow creatures, and told that these are not just truths, but secret truths. Imperceptible truths that Reason, that blind prophet, brought to us. This comes from an odd methodology that Western philosophy clings to: to observe reality and, with these observations, work out a framework that eventually ends with defining the individual, who to the Western man is both of a creation of reality, but somehow unconnected to it, since individuals are not transcendental. This distinction has been bridged with nonsense, from immaterial minds to souls, and yet one can feel within themselves the wrongness of this proposed theory. But it is so embedded, most never make it far enough to question it.
I have traveled that road, followed that path, plumbed those depth, and I return with this: metaphysics is not the study of reality, of it's nature, but the projection of our phenomenological structures unto a reality that is, we assume wrongly, is blurred by our consciousness. For example, upon reading Kantian concepts of the "thing-in-itself" and the reality that comes from it, one can see a rather stunning resemblance between the theory itself and how it can be transposed onto the phenomenological theories of Edmund Husserl, with the "thing in itself" being the Self that Husserl says we cannot be aware of in it's non reflective state, but rather only in it's reflective state. The "appearance" Kant applies to the thing-in-itself, of which he says it cannot escape, is in fact a view of the Self, of which cannot escape how it appears to the reflective consciousness. As Jean Paul Sartre writes in Being and Nothingness,
This self-consciousness we ought to consider not as a new consciousness, but as the only mode of existence which is possible for a consciousness of something. (Jean Paul Sartre: Basic Writing, pg. 79)
Further, this can be seen in review of the Platonic Forms, albeit with a touch of more sound understanding. The Forms, which Plato claims reflect a perfection this world can never have, seem to me to present a more phenomenological truth than truth of reality: we have structures of our consciousness that produce unique epochs that, while not perfect definitely have individually unique characteristics that do not reflect reality. Often, for example, the idea of love constructed by the mind will begin as separate from our world for the most part, and when it is introduced into a situation where the emotions of love (unlike the epoch) are introduced and counter this epoch. These epochic Forms, and the Husserlian Self, where unique bracketing and the self appearance of consciousness (Für-sich-selbst-erscheinens) are deduced, one will note that this approach makes more sense than to suggest a reality beyond us, beyond appearance, that somehow is knowable through Reason but imperceptible. The reason for this making more sense is the very fact that nothing in this world, including the dreams of metaphysics, are ever seen without consciousness. Everything perceived, considered, thought of, reasoned is tinged by consciousness. To claim that there is an imperceptible reality, of which one can Reason but is beyond consciousness, is to lie. As Nietzsche notes in Human, All Too Human:
We behold all things through the human head and cannot cut off this head; while the question nonetheless remains what of the world would still be there if one had cut it off. (Human, All Too Human, page 20)
Thus, consciousness is our axiom, and the center from which all things for the individual originates. Our consciousness is our origins.
Reason and Intuition: Consciousness as Negation
With consciousness as our beginning, as the axiom we can neither ignore nor do without, let me argue this: Consciousness is negation, in which that which we perceive is annihilated. The best explanation of this is to refer to Sartre's example of looking for a friend, Pierre, in Being and Nothingness, which he writes:
It is certain that the cafe by itself with its patrons, its tables, its booths, its mirrors, its light, its smoky atmosphere, and the sounds of voices, rattling saucers, and footsteps which fill it-the cafe is a fullness of being. And all the intuitions of detail which I can have are filled by these odors, these sounds, these colors, all phenomena which have a trans-phenomenal being. Similarly Pierre's actual presence in a place which I do not know is also a plenitude of being. We seem to have found fullness everywhere. But we must observe that in perception there is always the construction of a figure on a ground._No one object, no group of objects is especially designed to be organized as specifically either ground or figure; all depends 0':1 the direction of my attention. When I enter this cafe to search for Pierre, there is formed a synthetic organization of all the objects in the cafe, on the ground of which Pierre is given as about to appear. This organization of the cafe as the ground is an original nihilation. (Being and Nothingness, pg. 9)
This does not, however, mean that consciousness is a form of nothingness, in the sense of an absence. It is, very much, the idea that consciousness is discerning, negative, prone to separation. It separates everything from everything else, hence our natural desire to label, to define, to categorize. It is like the cracks in cement sidewalks. They separate two things, often made up of the same or similar substance. As Sartre adds later on, assuming Pierre is not there:
But now Pierre is not here. This does not mean that I discover his absence in some precise spot in the establishment. In fact Pierre is absent from the whole cafe; his absence fixes the cafe in its evanescence; the cafe remains ground; it persists in offering itself as an undifferentiated totality to my only marginal attention; it slips into the background; it pursues its nihilation. Only it makes itself ground for a determined figure; it carries the figure everywhere in front of it, presents the figure everywhere to me. This figure which slips constantly between my look and the solid, real objects of the cafe is precisely a perpetual disappearance; it is Pierre raising himself as nothingness on the ground of the nihilation of the cafe. So that what is offered to intuition is a flickering of nothingness; it is the nothingness of the ground, the nihilation of which summons and demands the appearance of the figure, and it is the figure-the nothingness which slips as a nothing to the surface of the ground. It serves as foundation for the judgment-"Pierre is not here." It is in fact the intuitive apprehension of a double nihilation. (Being and Nothingness, pg. 10)
This double nihilation, to me, implies something that Sartre does not consider. I think the general acceptance of Reason as a form of epistemological investigation is wrong. Reason, I find, is not even epistemological, it does not determine knowledge. Reason is phenomenological, a structure of our consciousness. I think that, in fact, this also implies that intuition is a structure of consciousness as well.
They are two aspects that work in concert, often. Think of it as such: one is set upon with a math problem from a teacher. To solve the problem is to require one to assume, from the onset, that there is an answer. Thus, with consciousness being intentional, the whole problem, first presented as a passive matter of arithmetic, becomes an active paradigm geared towards a goal. Intuition plays the part of the "background", as Sartre calls it. It pushes away the irrelevant possibilities (e.g. 2+2=monkey) and brings forth an active background of equations, systems, and notes to saturate the problem in. Often, if the problem is simple enough, this will solve it. One can adjust the paradigm just so that the problem matches a former version of problem, and the answers come from there. This is how intuition works: bringing forth information from memory, presenting it as the background to one's thoughts.
However, let us say that one is working on a harder problem, or perhaps even a theoretical problem, where we assume an answer but do not know it. The intuitive background, for all it's remembered information, cannot help completely. It has negated everything irrelevant, but it cannot discern what is relevant. Thus, we have Reason. Reason negates that which is relevant but not useful. Intuition establishes the paradigm, and Reason molds it. Reason is not about establishing what is known, but bringing forth what is not known and deciding what can best be used to potentially figure this out.
Thus, Reason and Intuition are a duality, from which one might claim (in the Western tradition) that there is a "mind-body duality" to explain the fact that often, it does not feel as though Reason acts alone. It does not, and cannot. Intuition and Reason are a double nihilation.
Prosaic: The Will and Genealogy
If our consciousness is our origin, the original, our Will is our unoriginal, our prosaic. The Will, in the Nietzschean sense I use it, is a purely physio-biological aspect of our existence. From the skin we touch to the desire to eat and make love, our Will is to our consciousness what a sail is to the rudder shaft of a boat. Without it, we would not go, we would not move, but without the rudder of the boat (our origins), our boat would go full steam ahead into a wreck.Unlike our intentional consciousness, however, the prosaic is reactive and intrusive. One can, for example, be in deep thought on something, even sleeping, and your hunger, your pain, your desire for sex even can intrude. Where your origins will cut you out from reality, distinguishing you from reality, the prosaic keeps you connected to it. As Friedrich Nietzsche writes in Beyond Good and Evil,
"[Anything which] is a living and not a dying body... will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant - not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power... 'Exploitation'... belongs to the essence of what lives, as a basic organic function; it is a consequence of the will to power, which is after all the will to life." (Beyond Good and Evil, pg. 153)
The existence of the prosaic, of our physio-biological functions, causes a tension deep within the individual about their own existence. An anguish. For I accept that Nietzsche was correct, in a sense: our will desires power, not in accordance with any morality but because survival and living separately require power in a biological sense. Our will is always a will to power. But what Nietzsche did not get is that the Will is blind. It does not know what power is, only how it feels. The power it feels are the biological drives as the exert themselves. Our Will has a perceptual aspect to it, in which it can be perceived, like when one sees a wound or looks over their own body, as well as a phenomenological aspect to it. That is, when we feel something from the Will, our consciousness will direct it towards an object that it has determined the Will best reacts to. This is due to the fact that our Will, while blind, is highly reactive. Thus, the intrusiveness of the Will can be understood because it is rather volatile. Think, for example, of hunger and eating. Our desire to quench our hunger is not an absolute, as in not just anything will due. Not only does our consciousness have to negate that which is inedible or that which is harmful, this mere preservation is not enough. In the form of hunger for this, the Will is so volatile, so capricious, that we may even reject that which edible because our Will reacts with mild distaste for it. We begin to develop discriminatory tastes, where some foods are seen as preferable to others. And thus, to me, it seems so with all choices that are driven by the Will: the volatility of the Will makes for the discerning nature of consciousness.
On Ethics and Morals: Of Value and Interest
Perhaps in a radical sense, to me this seems to suggest something that I find important to understand about people: the often inexplicable results of our moralizing come from the fact that morality and ethics are not the same thing. Morality, I find, is in fact an impulse. rather than a action imposed by our conscious mind. Morals, in their concrete form, can be understood by their self-referential nature: that is, morals are impulses of our Will, that refer often to the interests, rather than the values, of an individual. The Golden Rule is one such form of moral impulse. Do onto others as you want done to you; this bit of advice reads differently than it implies. It implies, in fact, that one ought to substitute what one wants for what you want, and assume that if you act that way, the other will react accordingly. Morality, I find, is not different from the urge for sex, the urge for food, or any other urge for the fulfillment of biological drives. Like these other drives, the impulse to morality is purely human, but it needs to be quenched.
Ethics does not follow such a route, being an abstraction from these impulse. The Western man will use Ethics to justify the moral impulses of a man, the prepare for one a set of principles as to how the Will ought to act. These individuals are always fools, to me anyhow. When they speak, you notice their actions do not match their words. What you begin to see is the absurdity of such ethics, where a man puts his interests (biological impulses) in conflict with his values(consciously chosen principles). Our moral impulses do not respond to principles, because how can it? It is blind. It responds, however, to the genealogical make up of our current society. A man may claim that the only way to ethical is to adhere to the principle of love is through abstinence, but if the genealogical history on the ethics of love leads his society to accept a more permissible form of love, even enjoy it, then his voice will be swept away. In every genealogical aspect of one's life, that which the conscious mind recognizes and the impulse reacts to, there is an aspect of it that is recognized as biological truth, and part that is an emergent aspect of an ever evolving Nature. To a society of liars, one does not shout "never lie!", but rather shouts, "consider what it is you are lying about!"
Human Nature, or the Absurdity of Man
Man is, ultimate, a creature of many forms, of many ways, due to a duality of consciousness and Will, both which are plenitudes in themselves. Man is a tension, and ultimately a dialectical integration, of these two aspects of himself. These are dualities, rather then separate entities, because while different in functions, in make up they require all that science has yet shown of the human anatomy. The brain that functions with consciousness is just as much an aspect of human anatomy as the fingers that inform the body.
Yet, from this natural integration, one can easily, and ought to, observe and deduce that man is neither a good, bad, or evil creature intrinsically. It is not the length of our fingers, the size of our nose, or the effectiveness of our body that determines anything moral. Nothing determines this. We are above all else absurd creatures. Our absurdity is noticeable in our tension, the very tension we attempt to quell but so makes us who we are. It is only from such absurdity, such tension, that good, bad, and evil can be born, be thought up, be valued, because one of the greatest lies of Western philosophy is the idea that is is evil that opposes good, and good that opposes bad. They are all opposed to absurdity, just as immorality and morality are dialectical opposed to absurdity. From absurdities, these dialectical tensions are born.
From the absurdity of man, we see a tendency to, our consciousness allow, to discern between things, to draw lines, which is amplified by our Will. This carries itself through the Western culture, in a transcendental, thus wrong, sense. It is not a function of reality for distinctions to be amplified, but a function of ourselves. This transcendental distinction sits upon on very important distinction that is prevalent, beloved, and wrong: the distinction made, sometimes intuitively, between the individual and reality. The error of this distinction is due to the nature of our consciousness, in which negates all things, including ourselves from reality. We assume that, while reality is as it is, we are a super-additive, an extra aspect that both exists within but beyond reality. This can be seen in the understanding of, say, the Kantian idea of a reality of appearance, which is not the same as the transcendental reality beyond. This allows us to both be apart of some aspect of reality, but yet beyond it. This distinction is wrong, due to the fact that "reality", as we commonly understand it in the transcendental tradition, is a myth. There is no reality, of which we speculate on from afar. We are submerged, we absurd creatures, within what one may call a "reality", but I call "immersive nothingness", or nihil immersio. This will be touched upon more in my expansion of this article, covering more concepts of my philosophy.
From all of this, the absurdity of man, the indistinguishable nature of man and "reality", the origins and the prosaic, I have deduced that the driver of man, what seems most powerful for him, is the discovery of, deconstruction and reconstruction of his origins. In this case, origins is that which arises, through our conscious minds, as the choice in our life in which we begin to construct what we are. To put it more frankly, origins are the choice we come to believe began the construction of our humanity, for our humanity is not an inherent aspect of ourselves. It is something which is determined in the actions we take. But our humanity has an origins, separated from all other things, from which the base of our mountain begins. The individual is one who's origins unite every aspect of himself, not in a totality but in a fragmented immersion, from which he strives forth into this world. There is no freedom without origin, for all individual deeds are intentional, focused elsewhere, and origins are choices. There is no freedom without choice.
Thus why I named my philosophy Polytropic, or "of the polytropos". The polytropos is the Greek word used by Homer to describe Odysseus upon his first appearance in The Illiad. It's literal translation is "of many forms", but was used (albeit this is contested) to mean someone of adaptive personalities, or personalities that have different aspects. The nature of man, to me, seems to reflect this idea: after all, being adaptable is perhaps the defining reason that man has made it this far, and to the top of the evolutionary hierarchy. We are absurd creatures, of whom adapt and to whom other things adapt. Odysseus was so wily, so crafty, so adaptable, he beat the Gods and made it home, whereas we, we modern individuals, we have killed a God. What are we, but polytropos?