; The Philosopher
Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out
Your Federal Quarterly Tax Payments are due April 15th Get Help Now >>

The Philosopher


  • pg 1
									The Philosopher
A review of "The Making of a Philosopher." - By Colin McGinn
It is quite a transition from the solitary reality of reading , study ,
contemplation, thinking and research with an end product of lose,
revelation and discovery to the practical social world of often one plus
one is two. It is often the search for enlightenment and discovery that
leads us to the pinnacles of total ignorance and unsolvable mystery than
the practice of what has been proved working. It seems philosophically
and practically right to assume and expect the road to enlightenment and
discovery only leads to a cascaded sequence of knowledge and ignorance,
light and darkness, revelation, discovery and lose. With these
expectations and more I often raise a book to read, listen to an audio or
watch a scene despite the customary practice of listening to authority on
a subject matter and accepting the practice of a professional. It seems
and it is more than likely true that authority and professionalism that
is not held to account even by the likes of me often go ashtray and may
lead us on the path to nowhere.
Let it be known from the outset that I have no intention or interest to
defy authority or denigrate professionalism neither do I claim any myself
of professionalism or authority on the subject matter the author is
celebrated and acknowledged for; yet still I feel I needed to say a word
or two here and there on some of the more controversial points raised and
some others I feel had some kind of circular reasoning and shadowy
logical argument. It is clear and it is very much an established fact
that philosophy encompassed the totality of what has thus far been known,
is being known and will ever be known, what has been, what is and what
will ever be; it is therefore inherently susceptible to vast variances in
interpretation and understanding amongst those who made it their
profession and practice. I have not read any of the professor's works
thus my knowledge of his philosophical outlook and the entirety of his
work is very limited and I beg an apology for, and I promise to hunt and
read them all. I wouldn't call my review a critic of his book nor is it
an acclaim, it is rather a preliminary inquisition in an effort to make
sense of the essence and being of some of the fundamental issues of
philosophy in the book as briefly as it is stated.
As it is clear that the book is not about philosophical issues or
philosophy, but a biography of a philosopher and his making, it goes
without saying that issues of philosophical importance and significance
has populated its pages. It is as well clear that the philosopher has
gone through the cascaded mountains of enlightenment and ignorance before
he has reached his current pinnacle that I refuse to hold him to his
earlier held points of views, but only to those he seems to have held on
or has discovered. I feel it is incumbent upon me than bother with
generalities of the book to come to the specific points and facts and
arguments on which I find my misunderstandings and needed explanations
and at other times, on what my possible other alternative views are
based. I have often read biographies and almost always found that as much
as the story is about a recent existence or a relatively recent reality,
the story is often told from the early beginnings to the recent standing
and reality.
As it is often difficult to build top to bottom we are almost always
abruptly taken to a beginning in time and brought forward to a position
and reality of the time of narration; May be backtracking step by step is
simply incompatible with the general movement and growth of things in
nature that the natural order of things are such that they move and
develop in a uni-directional manner necessitating an instantaneous time
travel to the beginnings of things and all, and then follow them from
there along the path of time. In a way, maybe we simply are used to and
have adapted to the logical and sequential incremental path of
development or simply we are wired in the ways the rest of the Universe
is wired, that we can only comprehend everything in a past to present to
the future sequence that in all our narrations we often begin at the past
beginnings of things and come to the present and forecast the future. It
is no surprise therefore that we are taken to the early humble beginnings
of the life of the professor in the earlier chapters of his book.
Although it lays the basic foundations of his earlier formative ages
quests and drives that led him to his later year philosophical adventures
and per suite, I find no issues of philosophical significance beyond the
normal and common early age inquisitions, search of direction and lose
that we all pass through as a developmental stage in physical and
spiritual life. It is though a break away from the most traditional ways
of telling a biography that it is a story of the development of
philosophy in a life of a person than it is a story of a person's
development in philosophy. In that sense there seems an inversion of
tradition and a new approach and admirable as all new approaches and
breakthroughs are.
That said, I somewhat find it troubling when the philosopher states "Thus
it feels as if you are in a bar in New York talking to your friends, but
actually you are stuck in a Vat somewhere in Cleveland hallucinating all
these, What the scientists are doing is producing a mere simulation of
the ordinary physical world-a virtual world of pure sense data." I can
always understand and feel it is not hard to either comprehend or
visualize or even relate to an objective existence and reality
engendering an objective data, yet further still an objective data
engendering an extension of or over extension of an objective reality,
but fail short of comprehending the possibility of a virtual reality
produced pure sense data. I could be wrong and I stand corrected if I am,
or could be excused for may be my naiveté or being un informed, but how
could it be possible to produce a simulation of an objective reality of a
pure sense data? Doesn't Simulation by its very definition presuppose an
objective data of the objective reality simulated? Would it be safe to
assume that all the data about any objective reality are always or almost
always incomplete, because reality is affected and effected by infinite
and dynamic variables? Though the philosopher seems to agree that
simulations are based on an objective data of the simulated, he fails to
address the difference of the simulation to the simulated and misses the
missing data of the simulated from the simulation due to the
impossibility of finding all the data for all the variables and if found
and known the impossibility of duplicating or in modern scientific
terminology cloning it and them.
Then in his continuing statement he leaves me with a sort of
philosophical penumbra when he states "If we can reproduce those signals
(i.e. signals that comes to our senses from objective realities) without
the aid of actual physical objects, then we can simulate experiences of
objects without bothering with reality." One fundamental fact of
simulation to me is that it happens in a controlled environment i.e.
known and possibly in finite variables and reality on the other hand is a
phenomenon in a dynamic infinite variable environment. Pre supposing that
The "If" is not possible, but best possible and there lies a difference
between the possible and best possible, there for while knowledge based
on existing reality by extension and deduction is possible, but not on no
reality at all as suggested. If nothing else the data that reaches our
senses are pieces of information at the least material representations of
a reality in action or are about a material objective reality. I felt it
might be very appropriate to quote some important recent scientific
revelations that were published on one of the most recognized
publications in the scientific communities, The Scientific American of
Nov, 2006 Issue , that I felt is supportive of what I have questioned
above." Observing another person experiencing emotion can trigger a
cognitive elaboration of that sensory information, which ultimately
results in a logical conclusion about what the other is feeling.
It may also, however, result in direct mapping of the sensory information
in to the motor structures that would produce the experience of that
emotion in the observer." It seems it is safe to assume and conclude that
the human self in its hard form (i.e. the self not about the self) is a
result of generations of common experience the information of which is
encoded in our genes and the proteins that preceded our birth, our
parents and may even that of our grandparents in the configurations of
the pieces of information upon which our initial predecessors were built
on. In a way at one level, beyond the basics of what we know today there
could possibly be a match of some basic entities of all humans that
matches independently of time, distance and condition? We only know what
we know and leave what we don't to the beautiful future to unravel it as
it is endowed with that power. Whatever, the explanation given or
remains, one thing seems rather clear here and that is the human brain
acts and perceives the future and acts now only based on some past or
present material common or individual experiences; that makes Now and
about Now and what we do a three way union of then, now and the future,
the future is what is in our mind what is and what was are what are
objective realities out in the real world whether we are aware of them or
not. What we do has its intent in the future and what we base our actions
are from yester and our actions now. "Our common sense beliefs are not as
rationally impregnable as we fondly supposed before we inquired in to
their foundations."
The quote above seems to suggest that our beliefs precede our inquiry in
to the basis of their foundations, in a way like the information about
ourselves precedes our selves so some of our beliefs may be passed on to
us from our predecessors we might even take them for granted, yet their
luck of seeming impregnability with rational at their initial inception,
however short handed the rational seems at the time and condition is an
impregnable rational on itself. The perceived irrationality, however,
seems to emanate from the changed and ever changing conditions in time
that simply fail to adequately account for. These inadequacies may not be
limited to our beliefs alone; it as well extends to everything and every
bit about our making leading us in the inquisitions of their foundations
getting a little bit of spark here and now, a little bit of it there and
then and a little bit time and again. Revelation by the way seems to
happen upon our search and inquisition and rarely by mere coincidence if
there is such a thing called coincidence. In our journey through time in
space often times do all the pieces of information about a thing come
complete; when they do it seems that we experience the thrill of
revelation. Often our inquisition is nothing other than an inquisition
about the missing piece in whatever form and shape. Be it in scientific
experimentation and discovery or in the per suet of prayer and meditation
or other forms of search, it is often about that material piece missing
that gives rational about a reality we find ourselves in. Over all when
we do inquire and we have been and we will always do, and we certainly
find the real, material foundations for them and they don't seem to be
mere confabulations. In short I feel comfortable to say that reason fails
to be a creator of reality but reality can always be reasoned. The power
of reason can indeed reveal the hidden reality or truth, which otherwise
could seem beyond the realm of cognition and understanding, but do not
create a reality only in the space, time and condition of reason alone.
Reason can indeed alter and shape reality and yes! Reason can push
reality in to the fringes of its beginning and end as reason is by
definition a logical construction of what was, what is, and what could be
possible in the objective reality of space-time.
These are the foundations of reason and rationality. As much as it is
clear to me and as much as I relate to the explanation given to meaning
and what it entails, I somewhat feel that time, place, reference and
condition are missed out of the play as determinant players in the onset
to giving meaning to a described reality. John is not John because he is
born to Marry and Uncle William and his long relationship to the name
John, but because John was born to Uncle William and Aunt Marry had the
long relationship, born at a particular time in space and nowhere else
and at no other time in to a people of common cultural or other
reference. Snow is white is so true in English and termed so by the
English and buch chacha ducha in some other language is at the time the
English was confronted with reality of snow were in the place they were
at the time and by convention they agreed to call it so and compare its
secondary characteristics to characteristics they had already come to an
agreement on or the vice versa. May be white is white because it as well
is complimented by another sense organ and that third organ refers to the
white the same in any language. White is white because it reflects white
light wave length light from any surface that is only white. The white
light wave length is the same independently of language and that
reference established it would make meaning easy and interpretable
between languages. In the process of language it seems that our senses
complement each other and often one or the other of the cognitive senses
converges without regard to the variances in languages. Let us suppose we
test lemon and at the same time feel that lemony odor. Lemony odor
emanates from a known molecular formula that is going to reach any ones
odor sensing organ it comes in contact with, that remains to be the same
independently of all languages establishing a common reference from which
meaning can be established. In some ways our sense organs are in constant
interchange of information and establishing a common reference for
everything and all that any one of our senses perceives.
A blind man and a seeing man if they find a lemon they can both establish
a common reference and reach an agreement to whether they should call it
lemon because the seeing man's visual perception is complimented by the
odor sensing organs and the blind man's odor perception are often
complimented by his sense of touching. An agreement that lemon is lemon
can be reached among a blind a deaf, one without a tongue and a sense of
smell for there is often an objective common reference from which the
same meaning can be established. In a sense the blind man and the seeing
man are equivalents of two people with different linguistic background
yet are able to establish a common reference and draw meaning from
whatever they encounter in time and place independently of their
linguistic background. Truth is contingent upon establishment of common
reference. "Fictional entities have no reality beyond the intentions of
authors-they are invented and not discovered. That is why we call them
fictions, and distinguish fiction from nonfiction in bookshops and
libraries." It sounds to me that it is the luck of having no reality the
distinguishing factor for a fiction from a nonfiction, rather the luck of
quantifiable and qualify able variables under the given paradigm and the
availability of them in a nonfiction that is the cause for the great
divide that is. Fictional entities are possible extensions of our present
near or far past experiences, too small or too large, near future and to
the farthest future possible without the burden of proof. Was it or was
it not the existence of reality the driving force in to the unknowns to
discover and unravel what otherwise is any existent? Is reality limited
to our current perceptive and cognitive state? If so what is this search
for the cosmic background radiation to look in to the beginnings of the
universe about? If this background cosmic radiation the beginning, what
lied in its background? Pure information?
If it is pure information does it have material content or is it
material? What does it represent and what makes our neurons fire to
perceive them if there exists no material essence that is received
through one or some or all of our senses? If it is not what is it? To
date history is testimony to how many of yester year fictions and
fictional characters are realities? As such often times they might have
even served as guiding lights in search for the discovery of reality.
Could they even be the underlying realities of the overt and objective
reality that is only revealed to the author's intuitions without the
burden of quantification and qualification? Even without how and why he
gets to the conclusion and formulation them? I could only go so far and
leave to every one's intuitive mind to ponder about. "If I like the test
of beetroot and you didn't, it hardly makes sense to say that one of us
is right about the testiness of beetroot and the other is not." What is
the self is very different from what is about the self and what is about
the self is very different from what is about the not self. As what is
the self is individually unique in the universe the same uniqueness is
about the self follows, but what is about the other due to a common
reference can be the same. Therefore testiness is as much about the not
self as it about the self, but not about the us and them. As there is
equivalency reference of particularity between us and them, me and him,
while there lies no need for equivalency between the self and the not
self. "Consider the taste of rotting meat to a vulture in contrast to how
it would taste to a human. Color is like that; the color of an object is
the color it appears to have to normal observers in normal conditions,
but in the case of Martians what is normal for them isn't normal for us.
What we need to acknowledge here is that roses that to us are red are
green for Martians, with no error on either side."
Even relativity which gave us the relativistic way of perceiving and
understanding any reality, gives way to absolute value when it comes to
light and establish the fact that the speed of light as the absolute
reference for everything and anything moving in this Universe. Whether we
are on Mars or Mercury and whether we are Martians or Mercurians a light
reflected from a green object will have the same wavelength and
establishing the fact it is green independently of the observers, the
term green though could have been different as it is a result of
conventional agreement, thus could be expected to have been called green
by Mercurians as it could have been agreed by Martians to be called red.
"-but we always have to distinguish carefully between the external thing
we are thinking about and the mental act of thinking about in a certain
way. Sense is rather like visual perspective; we may see the same
external object, but from different angles, so that it presents two
different visual appearances to us; there is one object and two ways of
apprehending it." It is again the over emphasis on our visual and utter
disregard to the rest of our sensual impacts if there are that prompted
me to throw some questions and ponder about and let you do likewise.
Does the above sentence suppose that someone who is born blind and have
not seen a day light in his life, yet think about something external? Or
is he lacking an internal vision? If he had one what would be his
internal vision like? Are all things we think about visually comparable?
How are we to visualize thinking things about smell, pain, loss, test and
the likes in the absence of an outer physical representation by us who
are able to see leave alone the blind at birth? As stated it a duality of
light, the light that comes out from and comes in to us, and a light that
is within and can't come in or come out of us as or yet still every
perceptive act is ultimately reduced to a neuron bit and bite to the
brain that it does matter much how it comes in. the odor, the visual, the
sensual and the test before a final determination is made as to what it
is and how it should be acted on, should be reduced to a neuronal bit and
bite, which in this case should be the most common and fundamental
language every part of the brain understands and communicates with.
This will have established as well the absolute reference for every part
of the brain and the other brain as well for an effective communication
and understanding. It is philosophy and we are to an extent permitted to
stretch or over stretch reason, so, as much as it might sound far fetched
to suggest this hypothesis, I make it without any burden of qualification
and quantification, just for the sake of making it known that I was not
satisfied with the explanation as given and to let you as well stretch
your imaginations in to the fringes. In conclusion as we make great
stride towards enlightenment and ignorance, we are making the limits even
smaller and the gaps shorter by filling in the blanks to make every bit
our knowledge complete and continues and merge science with philosophy
and philosophy with science. Till such time that all the gaps are filled
and limits cease to exist in the language of mathematics we shall try to
fill in the gaps with philosophy and maintain our universe of continues
and compete reality.

To top