2003/04/30

I wrote earlier �Art and thinking are not neutral. Artists and thinkers are engaged in shaping a more trueful perception of the world�, in my understanding the world means reality, we live in reality is it not?

But what is reality, what is our world?

It is the web of interactions between all particules and parts of our universe from its micro to its macro dimensions. Its whole and its parts are indeed only dimensions, aspects or poles of a same reality, its own reality. But we should always remain aware of this fundamental fact that what we call our universe is only a concept covering the understanding of our reality at this particular stage of our human history. Our universe is indeed perhaps only one of the elements of a more encompassing entity. Quantum mechanic physicists already imply that our universe is only one of many universes and they use a ready concept for this newer reality, the multiverse. Uni is one, multi is more than one so for the sake of pragmatism, let us conclude that our environment is the verse and that our reality is the web of interactions between all particules and parts of our verse, from its micro to its macro dimensions.

We, humans, are only very small actors on the surface of our earth and seen from the macro dimension of our verse we appear as nothing more than a micro particule of dust in the earthly waves that are blown by the versal winds. From this understanding, it appears to me that the only wise attitude, as a human, is humility and acceptance of our insignificance. But we should also be conscious of our belonging to the verse, we are part of it. All religions and traditional philosophies came very near of the same conclusions, speaking of the One and saying that we are part of the One and absolute.

To make it short, I conclude from all this that reality (the One in religions) is absolutely inaccessible to us humans and scientific discoveries change nothing to our predicament. We remain dust even if sometimes we have dreams of being leviathan. The best we can ever hope for is that our perceptions of reality remain in line with the truth or to say it otherwise with what reality is all about. Letting ourselves dwell outside of this line is akin to falling into the absurd. For what could we find out of the line of what reality is all about? We would find the illusion of a fake detachment. Detachment is the attitude that we arrive at after having molded ourselves into humility and reached complete acceptance of our insignificance in the verse. Fake detachment is a particular form of detachment, it's the illusion of our absolute detachment from the verse which leads to a kind of euphoric empowerment of the self. But this empowerment is short lived for one can only go so far as the reflection in the mirror of his own image that projects a naked self down the road of the verse at which point the mirrage of empowerment dissolves and one falls into disarray. The possibility of an absolute detachment from the verse is a myth that has been popularized on the margins of rationality by blind folded believers in the salvation of humankind through science and technology presented as the ultimate rationality that would liberate humans from the chains of nature. For the best part of the twentieth century, we have indeed been teached that by freeing humankind from all its irrational religious beliefs science was leading us straight into a paradise of materiality where everything can be fixed by mechanic application of scientific solutions. This has been the credo of capitalism as well as of communism. But it did not lead further than belief. Mecanic scientism has indeed always proved to be short thinking, short of the real complexity of reality. It was in this kind of environment that thinkers and artists were plunged in the twentieth century so it should come as no surprise that the outcome has been very much confusion.

If reality is fundamentally inaccessible to us, it turns out then that our relation to it is limited to our sole perception of what it is all about. Perception of reality is then the central question. Knowing that we are a micro particule of dust of reality we can't but deduce that observing reality implies first and foremost observing oneself. What appears thus is that our observation is not neutral. We are the observers but we are also the observed. Here we conclude that our observation of ourself is conditionned in 3 distinctive ways and such a conditionned observation of ourself in turn conditions our perception of reality:
1 OUR HISTORY:
1.1 Our culture: where we come from is giving us a way of thinking, a way of seeing things, in other words, our culture determines our observation and our actions. But this is too general an approach to be helpful. We have to distinguish between:
1.1.1 culture as civilizational build-up located very deep in our societies' given ways and truths that are accepted by all their members.
1.1.2 culture as everyday ways of doing in our direct environment that are strongly ingrained in each of us but that we can easily apprehend through an intellectual effort at understanding.
1.2 Our social reality: where we come from is placing us in a given economic and social environment that determines our way of thinking, our way of seeing things, in other words where we come from determines our observation and our actions. We have to distinguish between:
1.2.1 social reality as civilizational build-up giving our society's �level of development� that de facto imposes the general life conditions of all their members.
1.2.2 social reality as everyday ways of doing that impose our position on the social stratification ladder and the general life conditions that come with this particular position.
2 OUR PERSONALITY: our biological origin and our history are giving us personality traits that will be reinforced or weakened at the contact of our daily experiences.
3 OUR KNOWLEDGE: our history and our personality will in some way combine to leave us with a certain level of knowledge.

What starts to form in our mind at this stage is the idea that our perception is unique to ourself and that there are thus as many different kind of perceptions as there are individuals. But this is no proof of any fundamental relativism. What is relative is the influences of our histories, the better our knowledge and the less important the influences of our histories appear to be on our lives. Our personalities appear equally relative. In sum, knowledge is the driver of a possible convergence of human perceptions.

Laodan




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