On Knowing Nothing: A Consolation of Philosophy

In seeking truth and meaning I find that I must return again and again to the endless mysteries of emptiness, negation and nothingness. It is clear that any assumption of the existence of meaning (or meaningfulness) is of a different order of existence than is an equivalent assertion regarding truth. Notwithstanding that both of these concepts are mischievously slippery at the deepest levels of analysis, nor that proof and demonstration of simple meanings and correlations or linear correspondence is hardly a feat of spectacular mental gymnastics, it is precisely at the threshold of ambiguity and complexity that these concepts become truly interesting.

I found academic philosophy dry and uninspiring for precisely the fact that the hyper-inflating hyperbole of proof was generally so remedial, or at least concerned with the simplest of entities about which proof, truth or meaning might be demonstrated and confirmed, that there seemed ever so little time to dive (as the impatient are prone to) immediately off the highboard of curiosity and into the deepest depths to which intuition and sheer naked intelligence might propel you. Truth tables are certainly important, as are anthropological kinship charts or the periodic table of elements but it seemed to me that there was so much emphasis on ensuring that the core axioms and conventions of philosophy were rote learned that by the time an individual might have ascended to a rank of sufficient trust to be able to publicly think for themselves, they should hardly be able to do so.

So, I found myself on the periphery – partially by choice and partially of necessity. It struck me that the best way to observe what the institution was doing was by being what the institution constitutively was not. Proof by negation, as it turned out, was one thing but asserting significance to any conceptual framework that must so radically swim against the current was tantamount to offering an essential non-entity and unintelligible enigma in place of a coherent argument and philosophical position.

It is endlessly entertaining (to me) that, working backwards from holism to particulate systems (and coherent explanations) embodies such a profoundly discontinuous trajectory as to be both unrecognisable from and unassailable by conventional wisdom(s) of truth and meaning. Having arrived at the terminal point of this assay into truth and meaning without more than passing mention of those artefacts (or are they entities?), I have perhaps successfully demonstrated that even an indirect occlusion or obfuscation of a central concern or topic is still a substantive and real discussion. To not have an opinion on a topic is often enough the most powerful demonstration of belief, but to have an opinion on the reality of nothing is to instantaneously embrace infinity and the unknown, unknowable entropy of endlessly self-inflected systemic metamorphosis. This is also an instance of the inverse emptiness of an apophatic erudition without purpose or consequence.

This is how I make something out of nothing. I may love words (and their recursively entangled concepts) just a little bit too much, it seems.