Quicksilver Concepts

I appear to spend an inordinate amount of time peripatetically wandering around pondering wistful wisdoms, diverse philosophical insights and complex intuitions. Capturing or projecting mental insight and creative visualisation into written (or spoken) words is an exercise which loses a great deal in translation from the quicksilver or pure thought to the grammatical and semantic (or cognitive) filters of our shared communication systems. The filter of language and consensus conceptual vocabularies is only one concern – another is that ideas and concepts in mental apprehension are mercurial and even when well-understood they are difficult to convey before they have dissassembled themselves like wisps of smoke in a gust of wind.

A recurrent theme in these vignettes and randomly-waffling words of mine is that of the significance of acknowledging that we are not, and never really can be, in full control, or possess complete self-knowledge of, ourselves. There are logical and material as much as intuitively existential thresholds of knowledge beyond which we (appear) unable to pass. There is always something missing in every attempted explanation or description of non-trivially complex artefacts and entities such as minds. At one level this is a consequence of the mischievously recursive enigmas which blossom when a mind (inevitably) becomes an object of its own introspection. At another level is that – beyond the collaborative communications rigour of mathematics, physics or symbolic logic – we can never quite pin down a thought with written or spoken words before it has gone and lost in time and memory.

I would not be at all surprised to discover that foundational human incapacities to render mercurial mental images intelligible to (self or) others through (internal or) external communication is intimately entangled with the fundamental discontinuities implicit in mathematics, logic and physics.

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