Solid Ground

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Liquid                       -                    Solid
Undefined                -                    Defined
Chaos                        -                   Logos
Unsure                     -                     Sure
Change                     -                    Permanence
Unknown                 -                    Known
Plurality                   -                    Unity
Decentrate                -                    Concentrate
Complex                  -                    Simple
Impure                      -                    Pure
Heterogenous           -                    Homogenous
Immanent                 -                    Transcendent
Imperfect                  -                    Perfect
Earth                        -                    Heavens
Matter                       -                    Pattern
Mother                      -                    Father
Man                          -                    God


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Oh, if only it were possible to find understanding," Joseph exclaimed.


"If only there were a dogma to believe in. Everything is contradictory, everything tangential; there are no certainties anywhere.

Everything can be interpreted one way and then again interpreted in the opposite sense. The whole of world history can be explained as development and progress and can also be seen as nothing but decadence and meaninglessness.

Isn't there any truth? Is there no real and valid doctrine?"

The master had never heard him speak so fervently. He walked on in silence for a little, then said: "There is truth, my boy. But the doctrine you desire, absolute, perfect dogma that alone provides wisdom, does not exist.

Nor should you long for a perfect doctrine, my friend. Rather, you should long for the perfection of yourself. The diety is within you, not in ideas and books. Truth is lived, not taught. Be prepared for conflicts, Joseph Knecht - I can see that they already have begun.

[Herman Hesse]
The Glass Bead Game


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[...] I lived like a blind man in the position in which I had been put, without considering what it was, because in that position I had been born and had grown up and it was therefore natural for me [...]

And it must always necessarily seem to us that the others are mistaken, thinking that a given form, a given act is not this and is not thus.

But inevitably, a little later, if we shift one degree, we realize we were also mistaken, and it isn't this and it isn't thus; so in the end we are obliged to recognize that it will never be this or thus in any stable, sure way; but first one way, then another, and at a certain point all will seem to us mistaken, or all true, which amounts to the same thing; because a reality wasn't assigned to us and doesn't exist, and we have to make it ourselves, if we want it to be [...]

What sort of reality can the majority of men manage to establish in themselves? Wretched, unsteady, uncertain.

And oppressors, of course, take advantage! Or rather, they deceive themselves that they can take advantage, making others undergo or accept the meaning and value they assign themselves, to the others, to things, so all will see and feel, think and speak in their way.

But everything that can be imagined about us is really possible, even if it isn't true for us. The others don't care whether or not it's true for us. It's true for them. So true that the others, if you don't cling fast to the the reality you have given yourself, can actually lead you to grant that even truer than the reality you have given yourself is the one they give you.

[Luigi Pirandello]
One, No One & One Hundred Thousand, p.59, 62, 85, 86, 135


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You see, that’s why I think that people have affairs.

Well, I mean, you know, in the theater, if you get good reviews, you feel for a moment that you’ve got your hands on something. You know what I mean? I mean it’s a good feeling.

But then that feeling goes quite quickly. And once again you don’t know quite what you should do next. What’ll happen? Well, have an affair and up to a certain point you can really feel that you’re on firm ground.

You know, there’s a sexual conquest to be made, there are different questions: does she enjoy the ears being nibbled, how intensely can you talk about Schopenhauer in some elegant French restaurant.  

Whatever nonsense it is. It’s all, I think, to give you the semblance that there’s firm earth.

Well, have a real relationship with a person that goes on for years, that’s completely unpredictable. Then you’ve cut off all your ties to the land and you’re sailing into the unknown, into uncharted seas.

I mean, you know, people hold on to these images: father, mother, husband, wife, again for the same reason: ’cause they seem to provide some firm ground. But there’s no wife there. What does that mean, a wife? A husband? A son? A baby holds your hands and then suddenly there’s this huge man lifting you off the ground, and then he’s gone. Where’s that son?

['Andre']
Dialogue from 'My Dinner With Andre' (film)


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Here we have the empiricist's case, as it is still put by some of my positivist friends.

I shall try to show that this case is as little valid as Bacon's; that the answer to the question of the sources of knowledge goes against the empiricist; and, finally, that this whole question of ultimate sources - sources to which one may appeal, as one might to a higher court or a higher authority - must be rejected as based upon a mistake.

First I want to show that if you actually went on questioning The Times and its correspondents about the sources of their knowledge, you would in fact never arrive at all those observations by eyewitnesses in the existence of which the empiricist believes.

You would find, rather, that with every single step you take, the need for further steps increases in snowball-like fashion. 

Take as an example [...] the assertion 'The Prime Minister has decided to return to London several days ahead of schedule'. Now assume for a moment that somebody doubts this assertion, or feels the need to investigate its truth. What shall he do? If he has a friend in the Prime Minister's office, the simplest and most direct way would be to ring him up; and if this friend corroborates the message, then that is that.

In other words, the investigator will, if possible, try to check, or to examine, the asserted fact itself, rather than trace the source of the information. But according to the empiricist theory, the assertion 'I have read it in The Times' is merely a first step in a justification procedure consisting in tracing the ultimate source. What is the next step?

There are at least two next steps. One would be to reflect that 'I have read it in The Times' is also an assertion, and that we might ask 'What is the source of your knowledge that you read it in The Times and not, say, in a paper looking very similar to The Times?' The other is to ask The Times for the sources of its knowledge.

The answer to the first question may be 'But we have only The Times on order and we always get it in the morning', which gives rise to a host of further questions about sources which we shall not pursue.

The second question may elicit from the editor of The Times the answer: 'We had a telephone call from the Prime Minister's office.' Now according to the empiricist procedure, we should at this stage ask next: 'Who is the gentleman who received the telephone call?' and then get his observation report; but we should also have to ask that gentleman: 'What is the source of your knowledge that the voice you heard came from an official in the Prime Minister's office?', and so on.

There is a simple reason why this tedious sequence of questions never comes to a satisfactory conclusion. It is this. Every witness must always make ample use, in his report, of his knowledge of persons, places, things, linguistic usages, social conventions, and so on. He cannot rely merely upon his eyes or ears, especially if his report is to be of use in justifying any assertion worth justifying.

But this fact must of course always raise new questions as to the sources of those elements of his knowledge which are not immediately observational.

This is why the programme of tracing back all knowledge to its ultimate source in observation is logically impossible to carry through: it leads to an infinite regress.

(The doctrine that truth is manifest cuts off the regress. This is interesting because it may help to explain the attractiveness of that doctrine.)

[Karl Popper]
'The Problem of Induction'


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The primary Buddhist dictum is that life is suffering. 

What does that mean? It means that because you’re finite and you’re surrounded by something that’s absolute, in a sense you’re in a battle you can never win because there’s always more of what it is that you’re trying to contend with than there is with you. 

And worse than that, and it’s for this reason that tyrannies can’t last, is that the thing that you’re contending with isn’t even static. It keeps changing. 

So that what worked for you yesterday won’t necessarily work for you tomorrow.

[Jordan B. Peterson]
'Reality and the Sacred
 

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In quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle, also known as Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the precision with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, known as complementary variables, such as position x and momentum p, can be known.

'Uncertainty principle'


[Quantum mechanics] allows us to describe what everything in the universe is made of, how it interacts, and how it all fits together. But it comes at a huge price.

At its most fundamental level we have to accept that nature is ruled by chance and probability. 

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle dictates that there are certain limits on the sorts of questions we can ask the atomic world; and most crucially, while we now know so much more about what an atom is and how it behaves, we have to give up any possibility of imagining what it looks like.

[Jim Al-Khalili]
Atom, The Clash of the Titans (documentary)


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Rorty draws a further distinction between "strong" and "weak" textualists that serves to distinguish Derrida from most of his American progeny in literary criticism, as well as from hermeneuticists like Gadamer.

The weak textualist still claims to have deciphered the secret of the text, to have broken its code, to have gotten at what it really says in a way missed by previous interpreters. The strong textualist makes a claim that is similar - the claim to have gotten more out of the text than the author or the intended audience could possibly have found there. But unlike the weak textualist, the strong textualist does not believe there really is a secret code, or that the notion of getting the text "right" makes any sense at all.

This is because the idea of the right interpretation is the idea of an interpretation that could bring interpretation to an end. But there can be no such final interpretation.

Interpretation always involves further interpretation, reinterpretation, and so on in a process that is strictly, and in principle, incompleteable. From the strong textualist perspective, the very idea that there could be anything like the right, final, definitive interpretation is a self-deception. They believe that interpretation is creation and not discovery, the violent imposition of a "grid" on the text to use Foucault's expression.

[Rick Roderick]
'Reading Derrida Politically (Contra Rorty)', PRAXIS International (PRAXIS International), issue: 4 / 1986, p. 443


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Every genuine scientific theory then, in Popper’s view, is prohibitive, in the sense that it forbids, by implication, particular events or occurrences. As such it can be tested and falsified, but never logically verified.

Thus Popper stresses that it should not be inferred from the fact that a theory has withstood the most rigorous testing, for however long a period of time, that it has been verified;

rather we should recognise that such a theory has received a high measure of corroboration, and may be provisionally retained as the best available theory until it is finally falsified (if indeed it is ever falsified), and/or is superseded by a better theory.

'Karl Popper'


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New Look
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Taking the Rough with the Smooth
Closing the Book
Self-defence
Where mind goes, body follows
Reverie
The Oak and the Stream
Forever becoming
Walk a straight line
From Postmodern to Altermodern
Shades of gray
Are you sure?
Radical Doubt
Enlightened Ignorance
The Dangers of Dogmatism
Making Sense
The Perils of Radical Subjectivity 
Postmodenist soup
Don't commit to it
One thing tumbling into the next ...
Mind your language
Monotheism & Polytheism
Make Yourself Up
Sailing the Turbulent Seas
Incursions of the unknown 
Hold it Still
Shedding Skin 
Status Quo
Guiding Fiction
Creative Partnerships
Do Not Disturb 
Break-down
The Colour Wheel
Infinite Doorways 
Familiar Territory 
Wishy-washy 

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