experience and Menschenkenners

terry, modified 2 Years ago at 9/14/19 9:27 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 9/14/19 7:41 PM

experience and Menschenkenners

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   The problem with truth assertions is that they become untrue as contexts change. If "experience requires an experiencer,"  the impression may arise, if there is no experiencer, then all experience is invalidated. To this I might assert, au contraire: All experience is valid, including the experience of an experiencer. That is to say, all that exists is experience. The impression that we have an ego, or that we are an ego, or that there is no self and ego is entirely empty - these are all fleeting impressions, in the flow of experience.

   Thinking and speech are dualistic. Like vision, we see by contrast, by difference. Simple black and white, digital patterns. Language, on the other hand, is nuanced, analog: it has colors. Tone: harmony and dissonance. The more context, the more range. The whole of our language is reflected in our use and understanding of the speech and thoughts of others. In dialog - all speech and thought are dialog. (All are other, even us. Andromeda once said she felt like a misfit, and perhaps what she meant was that we are all strangers.)

   To think or speak of experience, then, is to recognize that it has poles. What makes a difference to us? Difference involves value, what we perceive as good and bad. The smell of carrion is bad, the very word reeks. Flowers smell good. We learn to hate the ugly and cherish the beautiful. It is natural to gravitate toward what is beneficial and away from what is maleficient, every cell does this. And, as every cell knows, there is a balance between attraction and repulsion, and that we are that balance, from next to next.

    How can we grasp the poles of experience, these dualisms, and bring them together? There are no calculating rules, no instructions, no maps; it is a matter of experience. As the organism matures (survives) it turns experience to account and becomes better at the balance which is life. 

   Take "good and evil"... to posit the existence of evil polarizes the good. We may strive, like (st) paul, to achieve impossible standards all at once, and fail, like him, gloriously and transcendentally. Big bucks in the afterlife (sic). The fictional paul's dubious achievements aside, it may be more to the point of being in healthy balance with life to try to draw these poles closer together. Not to go "beyond good and evil" but rather to draw back from categories and naming to a more fluid acceptance of nature in its wholeness.

   “To God all things are fair and good and right, but men hold some things wrong and some right.” Heraclitus posits the human view on the one hand and the divine view on the other,and rubs them together. Human, mortal, against the divine, the immortal. Let's suppose that both views are valid, that in the divine sense, the more than merely human sense, all things work together for the best, including everything we think of as bad. And in the human sense, our individual lives are like a garden, we weed out the bad, kill the pests, and promote our fruits however we may.

   Taken to extremes, the "all things are good" theory leads to "you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs" and the "good and bad" theory leads to "screw you, jack, I'm all right." Brought together, we have balance: the experience of unity within and harmony without.

   Balance, in this sense, means seeing that there is bad in the good and good in the bad. It involves judgment. Children are given rules to follow, but the mature know intuitively when to disregard the rules in order to "do the right thing." By experience, by applying context to the matters at hand, rather than moral rules, however golden.

   If one learns from experience, then perhaps real teaching is done the same way, through experiencing another person analogically, in their flow, and digitally, discontinuously, via tips.

   There are pitfalls. Using intuition for judgment can be tricky, it takes trust and a fine sensibility. Practice. Freedom from doubt. How to learn? How to teach? A razor's edge between the moralistic and the cynical.

   In the introduction to hilary putnam's "pragmatism - an open question" he writes:

   "It is an open question whether an enlightened society can avoid a corrosive moral scepticism without tumbling back into moral authoritarianism." 

On p36, putnam writes:

   Let me quote a passage Wittgenstein.... The context is one in which he imagines that people are having a disagreement about whether someone is pretending to have a feeling that he doesn't have (Philosophical Investigations, IIxi, p. 227; I have rectified the translation):

"You don't understand a thing" - so one says when someone doubts what we recognize as clearly genuine, - but we can't prove anything.

"Is there such a thing as 'expert judgment' about the genuiness of expressions of feeling?- Even here there are those whose judgment is 'better' and those whose judgment is 'worse'.

   Correcter prognoses will generally issue from the judgments of those who understand people better (des besseren Menschenkenners).
Can one learn this knowledge? Yes; some can. Not, however, by taking a course in it, but through 'experience'. - Can another be one's teacher in this? Certainly. From time to time he gives him the right tip. This is what 'learning' and 'teaching' are like here. - What one acquires is not a technique; one learns correct judgments. There are also rules, but they do not form a system, and only experienced people can apply them right. Unlike calculating rules."

   The "open question" is whether we can avoid extremes, and find our balance, as individuals and as a culture. Seeing that every issue not only has good and bad, but that these values are changing all the time. The new becomes old, the old becomes new. It's all good in the divine sense, in the long view, such as all-life might take, sub specie aeternitatis. In our grubby day to day lives, the good takes constant pruning, pest control, attitude adjustment. We give life to the long view, and the long view gives us perspective. Balance.


from the rubaiyat of omar khayyam, trans fitzgerald:

Alike for those who for To-day prepare,
And those that after some To-morrow stare,
A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
“Fools! Your Reward is neither Here nor There!”