A problem that I find myself returning to incessantly over the course of extended study and participatory observation in this human life and the diversity of cultural experience we all share is that of misunderstanding. The Philosophers would perhaps identify the problem as being one of Ontological Misunderstanding, of an essential mischaracterisation or ill-informed pattern of thought or communication that creates confusion and dissonance in the very systems of socioeconomic metabolism that we require to sustainably continue to exist, both individual and collectively.
A quick shot of the bow of Philosophy here: the fractious debates over facts and definitions across and along many variegated arcs and contours of “-ology”- while not entirely fruitless or devoid of spectatorial entertainment value – do not provide enduring solutions. The philosophical debates come to resemble those of politically-adversarial contentions which seek (perhaps inadvertently) first and foremost to continue the self-validating and reflexive battlefield of debate without any authentic or plausible concern for settling the argument and moving the hell on.
Human beings, bounded as we are by historical, biological and psychologically-reflexive ideological constraints, find ourselves adopting and adapting to an acceptance of the normative necessity of difference and dissociative adversarialism which reproduces the grounds and transmission medium of it’s own autonomously self-propagating continuity. The core problem is actually many problems and it can be generalised or distilled down to Self and it’s flailing aspirations to Ownership.
Why would, or should, a rhetorical position assume that it does not own an opinion or posture on an interesting or controversial debate? (I am not seeking to answer that question, merely raising it as a waypoint on the cartography here.) Let’s break it down to core ontologies and definitions and see where we end up.
A logical base to build from appears to be logic. Or set theory. Or mathematics. No, physics – which then generates cosmology, astronomy, geology, organic chemistry and biology. No – that ends up with sentience which then produces a logic based upon difference and differentiation. No, I don’t think we can actually find a corner in this circular room from which to measure our definitions and as a starting point. That would seem to be an intractable problem – all definitions are made in some sense in regards to other definitions, circularly and ad infinitum, without anchor or starting point.
We find ourselves enveloped by a hyper-inflating referential space that at every turn, every juncture, creates more objects, more nodes, more edges, more complexity and more unmanageable, incomprehensibly vast combinatorial configurations, possibilities and probabilities. Attempting to find an anchor to build a system of explanation or description from is a little like travelling over the boundary and event horizon of a black hole and then seeking to find a way back out again. We find ourselves trapped in referential freefall around and into an infinite antinomy: each reorientation towards escape and closure only cultivates and generates more degrees of freedom and impossibly-complicated, proliferating dimensions of possibility and degrees of freedom.
The most obvious escape from this problem is to NOT try to escape. To accept that it is of the nature of our reality and existence to possess some deeply discontinuous and disconcertingly mysterious properties. Upon closer inspection, we should find in any such counter-intuitive analysis that the reality that it proposes is not itself problematic, allowing that we are willing and able to suspend our disbelief or fear of paradox and infinity (or it’s logical complement of emptiness and the empty-set, upon which it might be shown to depend in foundational ways).
Paradoxical discontinuity is not the problem that it at first appears. It is only a problem if the core assumptions of your (human, all too human) reality are based upon the irredeemable or self-evident ascendance and boundary-definition of self, of set, of possession and individuation. We must certainly possess some form of set or container and logical atom with which to communicate and or build (otherwise who or what should be communicating or thinking in the first place?). That is the line in the sand that must be drawn but having drawn it, it does not serve us anything beyond symbolically-empty convenience.
For instance – once we stop considering deterministic questions such as “is mathematics invented or discovered?” as of enduring value, we can step beyond to consider that our own psychological preponderance towards asserting teleology, meaning, purpose and separate existence (i.e. the possibility of individuation and ownership) is not and never could be a solution. The core problem we have with a self-created world – regardless that these kinds of labyrinthine and emergently un-caused self-propagation appear to be the ground of all life, all sentience and all logic or complexity – is that out limited intellects and corporeal boundaries do not make sense within it.
The lack of sense here is the core ontological misunderstanding. Discovering or intuiting a deeply incomprehensible or paradoxical foundation and mischievously recursive basis for reality, the difference and distance to that Object becomes that self-defining psychological reflexivity through which we find ourselves attempting to shore up our own fragile boundaries. We find ourselves in something akin to gravitation freefall around this Object: we can not accept as intelligible that discontinuous or paradoxical realities are real and subsequently we make the (completely understandable, if ultimately fallacious) move of denying they exist.
Not only do we deny they exist but seek to uproot and terminate and evidence of their presence: the denial of the problem of our own non-existence becomes a core node around which we build that self. All seems fine and well until the day that it dawns upon you that the logical emptiness within you, upon which your whole world and logical superstructure of economy, ownership, lifestyle and possession were based – it is all founded upon a literal emptiness. The emptiness that dwells beyond us (in the metaphysical sense of being beyond what we can ever know or understand or plausibly construct a useful model and understanding of the world from) is not only indistinguishable from that that dwells within us, it is actually the same entity: it is identical.
We find ourselves inhabiting a strange and unsettling familiar normality and normative rationality between two paradoxical boundaries which are actually the same entity. In what ways does paradox require non-paradox to exist? This is probably the wrong question; this kind of investigation is algorithmically endless.