Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Whim and A Prayer

Jacob wrestled the human form devine
Struggling among the earthen shards in dust
Grasping and gasping, rasping: “it is mine”
Along broken skin
Blood ran sanguine

Descending lower, descending only,
Into a valley of this world,
Falling and brawling, calling: “give it me.”
Grinding to rust
The body to dust

The near forfeiting hand lifted to ether
Plunging down to the ground, the place it found,
Tearing and blaring, swearing: “I better.”
Though sinew collapsed
Jacob surpassed.

Rosy fingers spread over the sky’s vault
Pointing to the end of the night’s trouble.
He, breathing and seething, “I shall exalt, for
Along broken skin
Blood ran sanguine”

*Open Mindedness* and *The World as It Is*


This essay follows my previous essay. In this I want to express how we may be confident in our apprehensions of reality, apprehensions we grasp as a consequence of true open-mindedness.

The "how" of the previous paragraph is meant ambiguously. It has two senses, both of which I shall chase down in this essay.

1. "How" as in "what justification we have for saying our perceptions are true."

2. "How" as in "the best method for coming to know the truth."

In the end we shall find that these two "hows" are actually one: our justification and our method interweave kaleidoscopically at many points, the name of all of which may be drawn together into one called "faith." That is, at the end, we shall see why and how the "how" of truth is "faith."

"How" as in "what is our justification for saying we know *The World as It Is*?"

As for our seeking justification for our open-minded attitude, the one that takes what it sees as true, with affirmation, we must reflect on our perception. Is what appears to me to be true *really* true? To this question are only two answers.

(1) We may have no certainty to the degree which our perceptions reflect what is really "out there" in reality. We have no way of knowing how firm a grasp our perception has on what is "really there."

(2) All that we perceive is really there.

To first appearances, (1) has the upper hand. The reason is simple, We've all been wrong. In other words, the appearances we apprehended did not do justice to reality ultimately. So it does not seem that all our appearances are "really there."

But on further investigation, we find that (1) leads to consequences that are unacceptable and undermine all ability to affirm knowledge of reality so long as we simultaneously entertain it. There being only two options, the untenability of (1) forces us to adopt (2), which despite its apparent strangeness, actually proves to live with us congenially.

The reason (1) undermines all confidence in knowing *the world as it is* can be discovered on a moment's reflection on what (1) says. Since we have no certainty that our perceptions reflect what is really "out there," we have no confidence in knowing the world as it is at all. In any respect.

We may think that our knowledge of our thoughts are safe; and therefore we may still know that we exist with certainty. As Rene Descartes said, "I think therefore I am." But this is actually confusion, and under belief in (1), we cannot trust our perceptions of our thoughts or (however indirectly) of ourselves. This is because, under (1), we have no confidence that our perceptions reflect the reality they purport to represent. This includes the perception that our thoughts are our thoughts or the perception that our being is really our being.

This is deep skepticism. And it in principle, it undermines explicit affirmation of even the proposition (1). It is imaginable, though, that one may live in deep distrust of all thought and perception without explicitly affirming (1). Those who do so are complete nihilists. They believe in nothing, and their whole world is meaningless. It is safe to assume no one actually takes this route. But because it is an inherently possible attitude to take, it means that belief in (2) is based on a leap of faith.

In other words, our reasoning says (2) is the only thinkable option, and it even represents the attitude of each man insofar as he is not a nihilist. Thus all perception is real; the perceptions themselves are directly true reality. To put it more strongly, all that we see, taste, touch, feel, hear, intuit, think, and otherwise perceive, all this is equally real and fundamental. This means that our own experience is fundamental to living a life of justified knowledge. And again, by the previous paragraph, we can only assent to this reality through faith, a personal commitment to an unprovable experience.

"How" as in "what is the best method for coming to know *The World As It Is*?"

This conclusion will be met with an objection, which illustrates *how* faith brings us from knowing *the world as it is* to knowing *the world as it is* even better.

There is our earlier objection to (2): We've all been wrong. What appeared to be there actually turned out to be a mirage, and after the mirage was cleared, we saw what was *really there.* But the appearances were not really there, and so they were not true.

The force of this objection lies in a misunderstanding of what is meant by "reality of perception." When the misunderstanding is cleared, a fuller appreciation for (2) shall be plain.

By "all perceptions are all equally real and fundamental," I do not mean that all relations between perceptions are true. A mirage is a perception. By the argument above, it is "really there," but it also coexists with our later perception that it had no physical "hard" substance. Both the "hard" substance and the "mirage" are perceptions, and on this level, they are equally real; in that they inform us of reality, as it really is.

However not all relations between these perceptions are true; that is to say, intelligible, or in other words, perceivable. We cannot imagine, and so it cannot be true, that the desert mirage is a perception that has the tactile sensation of, say, the cool undulation of water. Rather the mirage's perception is of the sort that if we move close to it, it vanishes. Thus, while real, it has properties that change as all our perceptions change, and *what is really there,* in this case sand, has the property that it is hot to the touch at midday.

By extension, knowing a collection of perceptions is there and *is the world as it is,* but in correctly understanding the relations between the perceptions grows us to understand *the world as it is* to an even greater degree.

Thus to plainly answer the objection, when we are mistaken as to the relationships of our perceptions, we are not perceiving a thing at all; rather we experience a confusion, and a confusion has no reality, just as the term "married bachelor" is a confusion which cannot possibly have reality.

Our faith in the truth of the appearances, their reality, leads us into living in this world of appearances; and this living leads us to make this *world as it is* into even more the *world as it is.*


Hidden within this discussion are many implications. Since experience is fundamental, it precludes any theories that deny experiences in toto. Insofar as a theory obscures what one truly apprehends, it confuses things; because it serves as a prejudice to say that an experience is not an experience, that it does not belong to reality. But this we see is a contradiction, to have an experience one does not experience.

The consequences are vast. It urges every knowing person to cast aside everything that holds him back from understanding truth. It encourages us to strain forward to know *the world as it is* to greater degrees.

At the same time, it affirms the objectivity of truth. Perceptions are not "just in our own mind" but are existentially connected with *the world as it is.*

For those who believe that the truth will set them free, this is reason to be truely *open-minded*: to see *the world as it is.*