General Musings / Philosophy

When East Meets West: Time, Virtue and the Intelligence of Love

A balanced, moderate regularity of character and behaviour is a requirement to reach a state of mental and physical happiness. This balance is inclusive of both physical and subjective and after being unwell since late last year, whilst my energy levels were perfect, in fact, I had no negative symptoms at all, parts of my physical system appeared to have shut down to the dismay and confusion of medical specialists. I discovered (or came to terms with) only recently that it may all simply be causally connected to a broken heart that led to inadequate nutrition as I unconsciously ate a diet solely of fruit and soup, thus exposing this link with my body. During the process, I began to take an interest in Eastern medicine as I sought to re-establish the right balance and root out the causal impacts my unhappiness was having, thus the endeavour was to ascertain the origin for the unhappiness, to work converse to this and thus break the chain that subconsciously effected my physical wellbeing. Accordingly, traditional Chinese medicine maintains that harmony within a person is essential for it to heal itself and this principle is based on the tenet of yin and yang, where one actively finds a balance between opposing forces such as negative and positive, dark and light, hot and cold etc &c., that can influence physiological and mental healing. The concept is Qi (energy) and that each individual contains its own original level of Qi that governs the body and it is thus essential to maintain the level without depleting by excessive behaviour or failing to utilise correctly and thus becoming prone illness as one weakens due to the imbalance. Accordingly, each emotion is connected to physical organs in traditional Chinese medicine, whereby symptoms will begin to present themselves when such emotions overwhelm Qi energy, or, vice-versa when an organ is out of balance and thus effects the emotions. While my preference will remain western in approaching health issues, there is a logic behind the philosophy particularly with the regularity of body and mind, by being conscious and observant of excess or deficiency in all behavioural mannerisms and thus reaching a natural state of mind and body that is already capable of healing itself independent of our negative influence on it.

Unhappiness is an absence of- and it is clear that the experience of separateness and aloneness and therefore an absence of love can have the most devastating impact on a person’ well-being. Mo Tzu was known to be a philosopher of the people and placed a strong emphasis on love and morality. He was devoted to concepts of righteousness (Yi) as a practical attitude toward an ethical environment, leading to heaven on earth. Resolution to conflicts was through empathy, to learn to love outside of oneself and it is from this virtue that the concept of universal love (Jian’ai) was made manifest. That is, to give love. Similarly, Erich Fromm stated that “love is a decision, it is a judgement, it is a promise,” and if everyone wanted to be loved but never gave love, well love itself would cancel out and there would be nothing but a multitude of people desiring something they will never attain. Hence, Mo Tzu’ emphasis on righteousness, love and morality as a practical attitude, that is, learning through the application of being virtuous and learning to be empathetic and loving outside of oneself is the only causal answer to the problem of an absence of love communally, that in doing so, a loving environment will be ‘heaven on earth.’

But to give love during the absence of love is exceptionally difficult without a clear understanding and to reach this intellectually virtuous position, according to Mo Tzu, is to understand homogeneity and universality, a complicated subject in that the definition can often be confused due to the ambiguous nature of universality itself. But, for the sake of argument, this particular blog thread will attempt to discuss the practicability of applying universality over three primary areas, namely that of the self, society and of leadership, which are the three primary areas Mohists generally tend to tackle. For Mo Tzu, an understanding of homogeneity is paradoxically by appreciating its lack thereof, namely that the world is not fundamental and therefore fleeting. All things live and die. However, since we agree that it is fleeting, we become responsible to establish harmony or a balance that will prevent chaos or the destructive from causing an imbalance. In society, for instance, it would be to balance anarchical tendencies that fleeting conditions can produce, in individuals the carelessness and violence, or greed in leadership. To ensure happiness, it is fundamental that every action – though fleeting – is done so with the intent to establish homogeneity and by doing so it becomes ethical and by extension universal. That is, such an attitude is a universal ethic and will ultimately provide the harmony requires to be in the first place. Clarity of mind, wisdom and an understanding of the self in a fleeting world requires self-cultivation both subjectively and through objective efforts outside of oneself; a yin and yang or mutually coexisting subjectivity and objectivity balanced by a right frame of mind and understanding and only then can one understand love and therefore happiness and peace.

However, both ‘wisdom’ and ‘love’ remain within an implicit and elusive realm or as Wittgenstein said, “language disguises thought”[3] and whilst we endeavour to conceptualise meaning through a relatedness to particular objects, it is clear that no authentic definition can be functionally applied. Note the keyword ‘authentic’ and it is evident that most if not all of my inquiries are linked to the problem of authenticity, the very driving mechanism behind moral consciousness and love. The intent to give charity, for instance, willed by the desire to receive accolades is neither moral nor loving even if charity itself has been given, just as much as doing a favour or kindness to another followed by insult. One can easily pretend to be a Christian, a Muslim or any particular classification as long as the social customs and regulations are adhered to but we clearly see that codified rules cannot teach an individual genuine love of God. Broadly speaking, the question is thus about wisdom, the sensibility to reduce social constructs or individual actions into constitutive parts and ascertain the difference between what is genuine and what is false.

I have oft been intrigued with the idea that the physical world is nothing but an illusion. While the trepidation that I am merely an infinite number of quarks radiating energy has since passed, “regardless of whether they really exist in nature or not, contain something certain and indubitable,”[4] it is no longer madness to assume that our knowledge of the physical world is lacklustre at best. Comparatively, the physical world being illusory can be exemplified by the intricate and complex domain of a human mind. The very idea that consciousness was merely an imagined state rooted in a collective unconscious, that individual identity is an archetype or character with a shared narrative, that reality is an ideological map that is conspicuous, immensely influential and yet an invented scheme reliant on subservient subjects, all this pushed me further away from physical science toward the ever-expansive social sciences. I could at this point uncover Putnamian content externalisms or truth-value sentences and thus narrow the subject to cognitive states, but I would much rather explore the nature of beliefs and this division of reality through the relationship between content, meaning and representation utilising perhaps a more ontological thesis.

I believe love is moral consciousness. Kant stated that the only thing that is good is the will to do good[5] unlike utilitarians who on the contrary believe happiness is the only intrinsic good. Perhaps from a Platonic angle, ‘good’ implies a superlative moral quality and so happiness cannot be both good and bad; bullying and harassing someone as a means to reach an end may stimulate happiness for the bully, but it is clearly a morally bad happiness, thus happiness cannot be ‘good’. Nevertheless, for Kant the will to do good is the only unqualified act worthy to be called ‘good’ and since our will is the capacity to exercise choice through an internal motivation, the individual cannot escape their responsibility to act in accordance to what is good [since what is bad or evil demonstrates that the individual agent is not acting in accordance to what is good and what is good is the will to do good]. Thus those that fail to will good must therefore be evil. For Kant, the individual will is characterised by both Wille (practical reason) and Willkür (freedom of choice)[6], namely the co-dependency between reason and freedom so that the rational autonomous agent correctly chooses to act in a manner that is good. I am of the opinion that since we have freedom of choice, when one acts in a manner that is evil – who fails to exercise the will to act in accordance to good – they are unreasonable [the freedom to choose good is to act in accordance to reason] and to act in a manner that defies reason is to intentionally choose to be evil. This is where it gets tricky and we are, of course, avoiding the inclusion of psychopaths or those with neurological damage into this moral algorithm between whether one chooses to be evil.

Bad faith is considered in existential theory a type of self-deception. “Individuals act in bad faith when they refuse to face their freedom or try to hide it from themselves, especially by refusing to see that one has to choose values for oneself.”[7] That even in the face of deliberate, unconcealed evidence do some ignore the facts and thus this intentional ignorance is a conscious decision whether the individual is conscious of it or not. To say ‘whether conscious of it or not’ is to confirm that the subconscious is still a form of consciousness that we – at conscious level – may not be aware of, just as dreams communicate the shadows of our perceptual and motivational experiences in subliminal form. Driven by unconscious and primitive motives is perhaps caused by a combined furcht [fear as a subjective attitude] and angst [subjective dread][8] or as Erich Fromm purports that the condition of freedom or separateness is the source of all anxiety.[9] Our autonomy, that we are alone and responsible for our decisions separate from everything and everyone appears to be so overwhelming that people would rather facilitate the choice to allow others – whether it is friends, family, institutions, ideologies etc &c., – to think on their behalf.

Kant noted several stages of evil or the corruption of will, namely frailty, impurity and depravity. “The first can be understood as weakness of the will or human frailty, where we acknowledge the demands of morality but sometimes we prioritise our non-moral incentives over them. The second is to do with the problem of mixed motives, where it may appear to others and even to ourselves that we act according to the demands of morality but in fact our actions are contaminated by non-moral incentives. The third is human wickedness, the deliberate and systematic subordination of moral incentives to non-moral ones, although knowledge of the moral law, and therefore guilt, remains.”[10] Adeimantus in Plato’s Republic claims that it is socially advantageous to appear to be just whether or not one is acting just and thus an outward appearance functions as a tool to preserve and strengthen power.[11] This notion is further elucidated by Glaucon’ Ring of Gyges thought experiment, where a shepherd who has yet to commit an immoral act discovers a ring that renders him invisibility and thus an opportunity to commit crimes, suggesting that moral goodness is an intrinsic choice rather than an act that either expresses ‘contaminated incentives’ or because one is at risk of punishment; that moral actions is merely a way of maximising self-interest.

Thus the choice to be evil by failing to will good stems from fear while the will to act good a reflection of reason. I carefully approach the suggestion that humans are not innately evil but rather ignorant and the source of this corruption – standing paradoxically as also the source of its existence – is society [somewhat as Rousseau]. It seems clear that the will to good should be the will to form a good society, beginning from the self, to the notions of family, friendship, community and finally the state. To overcome this corruption, one must participate in a subjective ‘revolution’ and actively make the ‘one’ decision by taking the leap of faith and overcoming the fear or anxiety of separateness from our social and environmental situation, to transcend the unrealistic connection we hold emotionally to the world around us and to adopt the fundamental principle to act in accordance to what is good based wholly on activating an autonomous will toward reason. Thus, in a Kantian manner, the next stage of willing good is to slowly and perhaps painfully strengthen the will, thus strengthen reason by learning to act in a manner that is good. This is to make the conscious decision to will good rather than doing what is good unconsciously because of societal or environmental factors or failing to will good due to subconscious fears.

One cannot be good unless they consciously make the choice; what is good is moral, to be moral is to love, and thus love is moral consciousness.

To take it one step back, learning to love correctly is thus a process. This process as mentioned by Kant is first initiated be the very choice or will to good before learning to strengthen the will by embracing reason and overcoming irrational emotions and desires, to adopt an understanding of what is right or wrong since to will good is to act in a dutiful manner; applying what right and overcoming wrong is the genesis of ethics and morality. It is not to eradicate or inhibit emotions, but to avoid the inclination for emotions to overwhelm reason by understanding and cultivating the right emotions by means of virtue such as generosity, kindness, patience and integrity in order to establish a constitution deemed capable of genuine reason; this process or cultivation is for me ‘wisdom’ and this wisdom compliments duty and to conduct ourselves rationally. “[T]hat we should always carefully separate the empirical from the rational part, and prefix to physics proper (or empirical physics) a metaphysic of nature, and to practical anthropology a metaphysic of morals, which must be carefully cleared of everything empirical, so that we may know how much can be accomplished by pure reason in both cases, and from what sources it draws this it’s a priori teaching.”[12] However, there exists a triptych that leads to one making the ultimate ‘revolutionary’ choice. The first is the fact is that there exists a material world, whether we are able to verify it or not, we are experiencing the physical world and are subject to determined natural laws or what is referred to as physics. Secondly, it is also clear that we experience freedom, that we are capable of demonstrating an autonomy of will that disrupt the determined conditions of our natural environment, to begin questioning metaphysical determinates or the nature of objects that stand outside of objective experience. Finally, and perhaps more importantly, there are other people, societal constructs and language and this interaction is pivotal for learning. Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed as I do that our state of nature is fundamentally good and that civilisation is unnatural and thus corrupts the independence and unreflective compassion individuals naturally hold.[13] Like yin and yang, the natural state of the individual is good and while society corrupts this goodness, the process of elimination is required at conscious level to find what was originally already there. In society, one begins to compare him or herself to others and distort their actual interests, forming an artificial person. While perhaps one may not be conscious of it, being naturally inclined to good and aware of our own autonomy together with our failure to will good actions and adhere to individual principles becomes the underlying source that produces subconscious guilt, a guilt we often ignore and what becomes the very angst and existential state mentioned by Heidegger. Thus one can only overcome this angst and activate this ‘revolution’ by becoming conscious of ones own autonomy through repentance, to turn inward and review ones actions.

Satre claimed that while we choose for ourselves, we must also choose for all since, “of all the actions a man may take in order to create himself as he wills to be, there is not one which is not creative, at the same time, of an image of man such as he believes he ought to be.”[14] In my opinion, this contradicts the autonomy of the individual. The motivation to please others, while possibly encouraging the will to good is nevertheless convoluted in that improving oneself through an ‘image’ merely verifies that one remains enslaved to the emotional and submissive factors that the fear of autonomy manufactures, thus such actions are merely a replication and not authentic. To hearten the choice to transcend toward becoming an autonomous rational agent, one must experience this choice independent of any image or replication and to view it merely as a process, which is why authenticity is attaining access to moral insight through repentance [the elimination of ego] and God [the Universal Moral]. Whilst God is real, the subjective ideas we establish is merely a way of understanding the incomprehensible and the attempt to live up to the unbeknownst comparatively implies our avoidance of living up to people or others and thus we no longer follow an image or idols but only the ideals or principles. To compare oneself to another person is a heteronymous action and thus as Kant purports the source of all spurious principles of morality[15]. It fails to appreciate the fundamental principles of freedom or autonomy of the will.

This passive and subservient subjective attitude that avoids the responsibility of autonomy can clearly be attributed to those that feel the need to be loved rather than actively motivated by the will to give love. The constant preoccupation toward striving to attain the affections of others perhaps due to a narcissistic desire or selfish indifference or because of a tireless urgency to avoid confronting the isolating challenge of freedom, individuals become preoccupied by irrational associations of love synonymous with the cultural fabrications often represented by the media or through music; deepening the difficulties, these associations engineer a false exclusivity to this personal experience. Imagine society as merely a group of individuals accessing the same virtual reality game; the interaction between the group, whilst illusory, is nevertheless successful and they all go on believing the activities within the game is real. Reality, however, is clearly outside of the game and only when one has left the game and woken to their natural state are they able to experience and communicate genuinely. Only when one has transcended the narcissistic and illusory state and thus able to think rationally and autonomously are they capable of genuine love; only those who have removed themselves from the game are capable of loving others for ‘individuality’ rather than the illusory material and physical considerations.

Going back to repentance or the elimination of ego, “[t]o be initiated into the… world of the Tao, the authentic approach is not to acquire an external technique but to undergo a fundamental change from within. Indeed, unless one can sever all of one’s primordial attachments, one cannot even begin to cultivate a sense of selflessness, let alone eliminate the ego completely.”[16] This rejection of material considerations or the “human situation in its totality” is the necessary process required to transcend towards spiritual perfection. Kierkegaard rejects the elitism present in the works of Kant.[17] In light of the biblical commandments that one should love God and love their neighbour as themselves, he believes that love founded through this intersubjectivity or inwardness is formulated through piety to God and gradually projects itself outward through others. One must acknowledge that God has commanded maxims that ameliorate our obligations and understanding of good and of love, thus the divine commands present in the bible is evident of a loving God. The corruption of our will unnaturally leads us to disregard our deontological duty and our failure to overcome a naïve nominalism by attaching importance to material and physical considerations, leading us to follow institutions and social norms rather than adhere to the autonomy of our will to actively choose good independently. Thus, when Jesus states, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,”[18] it is to understand that his teachings espouse what love and moral consciousness affords, that love is the only way to understand God and what is real or authentic. When one becomes capable of authenticity by cultivating the will and wisdom through a combined effort of understanding knowledge and experience, all epitomised by commonsense and moral consciousness, they experience the freedom of peace and everything as it is naturally becomes beautiful.

So what constitutes perfect virtue? Is it defined by the strength of individual will or is it universal? Is it how one ascertains or determines right from wrong in personal behaviour, the capacity to overcome the strength of a defective ego, the intelligence and free-will to be able to discern and determine according to their own engagement with the world around them? Is it to identify and distinguish the kind of moral values that are functional, valuable and aesthetical, what is prohibited, useful and authentic, to ascertain intent, to act on and maximise moral principles? It is not simply this strength of will, but also the capacity to overcome the proclivity of the ego and the wayward pleasures it endorses, to recognise the scope of the activity of leading a morally virtuous life by searching for the mean as being beyond merely the environment that one considers to be reality. It is to be courageous enough to deliberately find the veracity and sense of honour to pursue a life of virtue and to maintain and personify it. For Kant, it is the capacity to personify virtue by behaving according to the maxims set within the tenets of morality, that true virtue is the point between the virtuous and the sublime. “True virtue can only be grafted onto principles, such that the more general they are, the more sublime and noble they become,”[19] thus distinguishing between the subjective aesthetic toward a universal aesthetic, the former having the possible inclination to waywardness as it remains dependant on the moral disposition of the individual.

It is for this reason that the nature or disposition of the individual is evidently relevant and that obtaining the correct character traits necessary to reach true virtue. Moses Maimonides discussed in detail the importance of this mean in several of his works including Hilkhot De’ot or the Laws Concerning Character Traits, Laws Concerning Repentance, and Eight Chapters aside from his more famed work in Guide of the Perplexed. According to Maimonides, there exists two types of moral standards in an individual, namely those that are pious and those that attempt to find the golden mean, the former considered to be obligatory since such a characteristic is required to encourage the subjective poise required to engage in the middle way.[20] In his Laws Concerning Character Traits, he traverses through eleven commandments that attempt to direct one toward the equilibrium required to reach a state of moral virtue that epitomises the ‘right way’ or as said by Solomon, “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”[21] Human beings have different character traits, different personalities and dispositions – or different original Qi – whereby one person can be peaceful and calm and another intensely angered and impatient. Or one person can be lazy and gluttonous while another ascetic by nature. The golden mean is one with a good character indicated by the way they conduct their affairs, to be humble and loving; it is therefore considered ‘wisdom’ to find that mean and have the capacity to analyse the extreme of a character trait one may have and to find that middle measure, until it becomes firmly established.

For Maimonides, it is wisdom to walk in the way of God, the way of which is right and good whereby one is, “slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, just and righteous, perfect, powerful and strong… and a man is obliged to train himself to follow them and to imitate according to his strength.”[22] It is to uproot the flaw that one may have and the ‘cure’ of this ailment is to train himself in opposites; for instance, if he is wealthy and has a conceited attitude, he should clothe himself in worn-out, shabby garments that will endure him with much degradation until the haughtiness has left him and he is humbled. Whatever the problem may be that causes one to lose the way of this required balance, the individual should move themselves toward the other end of the same extreme until reaching that unaffected balance. As said by David Hume, “[t]he richest genius, like the most fertile soil, when uncultivated, shoots up into the rankest weeds.”[23] Although he discusses aspects of one’s personal conduct, including the way that one may eat or drink, sleep and have sexual intercourse, there is one particular aspect that merits further discussion and that was his view on cleaving to those who lead the way of wisdom. “[A] man needs to associate with the just and be with the wise continually in order to learn [from] their actions,”[24] and by associating with fools one will ultimately become evil. Evil is living without adequate care or thought to this measure. The human being, says Kant, is aware of the moral law but has failed to incorporate it into his or her maxim, and is thus fundamentally evil.[ix] Regarding the conduct of ones affairs such as perfecting eating habits and the way he or she engages with body and desires, while one should learn to do so not simply for pleasure but as a conscious way of keeping his or her body healthy and strong, when surrounded by the wrong people they will be unable to conduct their affairs correctly.

Any such undesirable people in one’s environment or overindulgence leads to excessive health issues where ones strength fails or is spent and “his life and eyes dimmed”[25] or conversely, improving his character traits by cleaving to those who are wise, modest and righteous, his soul ultimately becomes tranquil.[26] Similarly, Confucius also states that one should, “make conscientiousness and sincerity your leading principles. Have no friends inferior to yourself. And when in the wrong, do not hesitate to amend.”[27] While it is possible that such a statement could be misconstrued as being egotistical since one could easily assume themselves to be of superior nature and character, the general rule of propriety by Confucius is that self-development and finding that mean toward a life of wisdom is understanding our relationship with others and accurately observing right and wrong conduct. As such, propriety of character and how people conduct themselves and their affairs is a matter of observation and depravity of character is expressed through impropriety. It becomes clear that those who embody moral virtue and right or wrong behaviour, who – as Mencius expounds – feels a sense of shame[28] and is reverently careful in his conduct and affairs is clearly one of right character and mind. Thus, it is not about egotistic superiority or inferiority, but rather an established standard in order to obtain good moral habits since morals are inclined to waywardness as noted by Kant. This standard thus establishes a righteous culture or environment; members who all equally possess the same will to moral virtue enjoin a universal status that develops a community of rational agents who equally share the same or similar principles, a formula known as the Kingdom of Ends.[29] For Aristotle, it is a cyclic mirroring of sorts, whereby virtuous actions are defined through one another or for Confucius: “If you govern people by laws, and keep them in order by penalties yet lose their sense of shame. But if you govern them by your moral excellence and keep them in order by your dutiful conduct, they will retain their sense of shame, and also live up to this standard.”[30] Good moral habits initiates the formation of ethics; by obtaining good moral habits, it becomes that very connection between moral virtue and the social and political. “Man’s governance of his self consists in his making it acquire the virtuous moral habits and remove from it the vile moral habits if these are already present. Moral habits are the settled states that form in the soul until they become habitual dispositions from which the actions originate… The governance of the city is a science that imparts to its citizens knowledge of true happiness and imparts to them the [way of] striving to achieve it.”[31]

In this current world of identity consumerism that encourages an almost sacrificial abstinence of freedom and that gently coerces the partaking of the buying and selling one’s own personality and ultimately existence as a whole, is there a ‘deep within’ where an actual person exists? Indeed, is there even experience? Am I an individual and even capable of being morally virtuous? While it can sometimes be tempting to give up on the idea of a utopian world and take a solipsist route, to believe that only I exist, for Descartes namely with the cogito, our own direct experiences are the only thing we have access to, that ‘I’ am a thinking thing, an enduring substance and that self-consciousness is an existential modality. For this individual to understand the eternal, Descartes continues his ontological argument for the existence of God, namely that what one can clearly and distinctly perceive in an idea is true of that very thing and since one can perceive that existence is necessarily contained in the idea of God that it therefore concludes that God exists. I will discuss this philosophy at a later stage, for now, it is about delving into the subatomic, of our perceptions and the external world. For Kant, Descartes’ thesis is not what prompts the conscious awareness of an external world along with other concepts, as though the Cartesian spatio-temporal engagement with the external world is somehow the penetration of time and space into consciousness that we experience. On the contrary, Kant claims that we have an imbedded source or epistemic function that allows a priori the coherency of sense conditions, the very faculty that supports the necessary conditions for spatio-temporal experience and as such, it follows that this imbedded ‘intuition’ is pure or authentic, intuition “through which [an object] is given, [and] secondly, concept, through which an object is thought corresponding to this intuition.”[32] It is thus an individual representation rather than a conception which is a universal representation, that is to say conception is by means of intuition. This individual representation, this intuition is inner sense and that temporality as a framework organises the sequential order of experience, namely that the movement of space takes place in time and therefore time itself must be autonomous.

We are able to receive but also know or understand these representations and this relationship is where knowledge surfaces, the condition of my seeing and touching and therefore we have the cognitive capacity to receive representations and in addition we also comprise of an unknown faculty of sorts that contain the capacity to know an object, whereby knowledge develops when the conditions between the two are exercised correctly. There must exist cognitive conditions that allow for the possibility of understanding experience, but what are the necessary conditions? Accordingly, space and time are a priori intuitions and as such independent from experience, that if space being infinitely divisible is structured in an ordered nature, it is ultimately objective and thus deduced from pure reason. It is at this point that I question what exactly is it that governs the cognitive capacity for me to be able to perceive in such a way, where I stand apart from an animal in that I can ascertain the function and purpose and reason for objects or as Kant purports, transcending experience? In addition, what is it that makes this objective in that I am able to explain this experience and know others will be  capable of understanding, rather than merely relative to mine own non-sensory mode of knowing? While sensory experience naturally forms the base of knowledge, it does not answer our capacity to transcend – and by transcend he means to enable – experience toward understanding and thus that transcending itself is not knowledge and therefore cannot be sensory. “I entitle transcendental all knowledge which is occupied not so much with objects, as with the mode of our knowledge of objects insofar as this mode of knowledge is to be possible a priori.”[33] It is not experience itself but for there to actually be experience and thus time for Kant is experienced through what he refers to as transcendental aesthetic, that spatio-temporal engagement is a condition necessary to experience the external world.

Deleuze reconstructs the way in which one considers time since an incorrect proposition to begin with only draws an invalid conclusion, so to assume for instance that time includes a chronological whole from a linear series is fallacious, that there is in fact no space-time continuum to begin with. On the contrary, his theory of multiplicity is continuous and non-chronological nor non-metrical and as such space is merely an interaction of networks. “The agents are programmed with a set of spatial imperatives while the material nature of the network creates a tendency towards equilibrium.”[34] Therefore knowledge is not a mere chronological development as we oft understand it to be from a cognitive or psychological angle but rather by resisting hierarchical arrangements we favour growth vis-à-vis a programmed negotiation of sorts whilst being subjected to multiple continuities characterised through constant variabilities. In this determined spatial synthesis of sorts, space is not a part – as Kant purports – of time, but rather time at infinite speed is a part of the productive configuration of the dynamic network of reality, a ‘combination of singularities’ or “processes make times and those processes are determined by singularities rather than by regular features adapted to general laws and relations.”[35] It consequently removes the subjective individual from the equation of time.

So then, what is individual identity within this Deleuzian framework if indeed such totalised individuality is merely reduced to the effects of a homogenised space? Accordingly, temporal synthesis involves several and particular criterions beginning with passive habit, organic in that we are a living organism capable of receiving sensation. For Kant, the metaphysical submission of ‘we just are’ is simply not good enough, but this is precisely what Deleuze purports in that the body is an integral part of this plurality. And yet, why is it that I can transcend or rather coherently grasp the pattern with which many follow in the unified, capitalist network where personal identity has become dissolved in an inherent totality of mechanistic determinism? To answer that is memory, the second synthesis, a pure and preserved ontological condition necessary for reflection, a transcendental deduction of sorts. As such, the only thoughts we can actually think are past and yet this paradox where time coexists with the present leads to the final synthesis, namely the New, as though we become capable of searching through the fragments of preserved space-time and ultimately free ourselves toward reciprocal determination.[36] As we have ‘cause and effect’ whereby the effect itself is determined by the cause, so too are we in a position where free will follows in coexistence with determinism, the latter being the cause.

What differentiates a pre-individual to an individual is the intensity, whereby “intensity enables the passage from the virtual to the actual by ‘orchestrating’ the process of individuation.”[37] That we actualise the categories like multiplicity and break the bonds of the virtual to become real, a metamorphosis where the past being fixed in time transforms the agent in the present promoting the actual and free determination toward the future. As such, reciprocal determination and liberating oneself from the passive hold of the space of determinability, paradoxically through the passive categories of determinability in a co-existing and contracting non-metrical synthesis. Similarly like the condition of intuition according to Kant which is free and spontaneous, namely that “[i]t is a spontaneous synthesis, or the spontaneous application of a rule of projection… the subject grasps the intuition as an articulated complex representation,”[38] and it is the case that we can transcend authentically and become aware of ourselves that is the very heart of this brief blog post. But what is it that we are transcending to? What is the purpose of it? In one sense, I accept that we already contain this unidentifiable intuition of sorts, the very ‘free will’ and a pure and authentic self that appears lost and confused by the overwhelming sensory experiences with our purpose perhaps being a matter of finding our real self through a conscious awareness of these senses that requires us to become capable of controlling and distinguishing the real from the false, but what is it that leads us to this conscious awareness? Kant states that it is moral virtue that effectively yields happiness and that individual motivation or will to virtue is the determinate for this happiness. This ‘intensity’ is promoted or provoked, in my opinion, by love.

The conditions, however, toward reaching this will to transcend can only be rationally applied when the individual agent believes. Our capacity to create the new, to metamorphose and reformulate within the conditioned virtual manifold toward the future of the real is by shattering this passive submission to time and space through consciousness, to become conscious not just of an ‘I’ or self but also of the external world, a mirror of sorts. This is only actualised by a prompter, something that compels with intensity, initiates and this must therefore be through love, our love for another that promotes the conscious awareness of a self and something external to the self. But we know this is not enough for a narcissist loves only those that love back so the love itself is not authentic, or that one loves the person they are with because they fit into a permissible social construct that generates a fleeting happiness through the approval by other conformists who themselves are paradoxically caught in this passive synthesis. It is a particular type of love and while the past is fixed, memory serves as the agenda to train the individual toward a character that upholds the necessary conditions to be loving.

Memory is thus a preparation, for instance the capacity to and react with guilt or shame of personal conduct and serves as a mirror reflecting the external world back to the self, overcoming the ego and birthing a new, authentic self. But what makes this reflection authentic is moral consciousness, that very ‘feeling’ whether it be the feeling of guilt, conscience, compassion, a subjective and intuitive validation that schematically synthesizes to form – or indeed free from the bounds of ignorance – the concept of love. It is the soul. And, perhaps, it is imagination that allows this externalisation that permits us to understand concepts not experienced and therefore unfounded in memory, which is why humans indeed seem capable of comprehending hermeneutically biblical parables and metaphors that rely on imagination as a condition of moral reflection that objectifies reality and forms as a method of discovery. A defective self wears an illegitimate yet sophisticated outfit that gives an appearance of honesty and of truth yet what is in actuality ignorance, illustrated by four paralogisms that influence illusions of reasons so as to make one believe that it is contained within the structure of our faculty of reason and therefore truth. Namely, it is the cogito, the ‘I think’ that becomes the false inference as the soul cannot be a substance since “the concept of substance can be applied only to the object of experience and not to the thinking subject because the latter is not an object of experience.”[39] It is fallacious in form, whether the content itself appears to be logically possible. It is grounded in the notion that the conditions are necessary and enabling but that leads to a fallacious conclusion and yet, it is also possibly a condition that whilst false nevertheless paradoxically facilitates the very process toward authenticity, for one to be capable of discerning between what is authentic and what is not. There always appears to be this coexistence between two mutually exclusive categories such as falsehood and truth, thesis and antithesis, determinism and free will, good and evil, beginning in time and space and no beginning in time and space, the antimonies of the rationalist and yet somehow authenticity is the product of our transcendence from the appearance of the self to an actual, the authentic founded not through a totality of sorts between two opposing forces but by the recognition of the conflict. This capacity for recognition is freedom, whether freedom itself is merely an idea accomplished through moral judgements.

While one can quiet simply be instructed to exercise judgements based on rules and regulations, it is merely a passive quality of repetition and as such there is no scholastic or articulated process capable of prompting this peculiar ‘inner’ or the self transcending out of a non-self. Take the following saying; “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves… Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”[40] There is a danger with laws and regulations whether written or unwritten [i.e. social] that promotes a passive submission to the false or inauthentic whereby behavior that appears to be authentic contained within a subjective fiction, thus rules can as such provide the framework to promote evil. It is only found in the product of their efforts – if indeed their efforts are merely to showcase to others there supposed authenticity to maintain the image – the case in point here being knowledge or intellectual. What is transcendental is the regard we have for ourselves, what we view ourselves as being and would ideally liken to become and this ideal itself is unknown, noumena which – unlike phenomena that can be understood or perceived by the senses and within space and time – “are not things in themselves; they are only representations, which in turn have their object – an object which cannot itself be intuited by us, and which may, therefore, be named the non-empirical, that is, the transcendental object = x.”[41] Objects, therefore, beyond conception.

The moment where one thinks not synthetically or virtually but authentically, even if this moment is a fractured point in time, brief but intense, that is the moment one can say ‘I’. The restoration of freedom after being consumed by the corruption of society must be managed through moral education and discipline, fostering the training to combat tendencies to evil, to accept the required negativity or severity this subjective training toward self-control requires and breaking the narcissistic attributes that accompany the passive submission and the fears that promote permanency to an inauthentic disposition. This encouragement fosters the incentive to gradually identify and overcome all the previously synthetic falsehoods and reconstruct a genuine understanding of love. Whatever the case is, whether time and space are relative or whether we exist in an objective world or whether empiricism or metaphysics is right or wrong, love through human freedom is the very essence of us being ‘alive’. Whether our interactions are weaved in a fabric of existence that responds to the impulses of evolution within a paradoxically stable chaos, or whether the unity of consciousness being objective or only in thought where the categories of substance that presupposes intuition cannot be applied, or whether we may be caught somewhere material that contains physical properties or maybe not, pulled into an orbital and repetitive cycle as passive subjects within a space-time continuum, it is love or moral consciousness that gives the purpose to the hardware. And the reason for a life dedicated to finding the Golden Mean or the Yin and Yang? It is as St. Thomas Aquinas states, “Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.”[42] Love is the conclusion, and only in the act of attaining virtue and a noble mind dedicated to attaining a balance or harmony will one then be capable of understanding with clarity and therefore being capable of love. The righteous ability to discern the right time and way to think and behave, to rationally approach ones own emotions, improving your character and drives, reaching a state of clarity in mind and reason, one will enable the qualities necessary to reach Eudaimonia.

 

 

[1] Plato, Republic [618e]

[2] Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics from I.M.N. Al-Jubouri’ History of Islamic Philosophy, (2004) 74

[3] David G. Stern, Wittgenstein on Mind and Language, Oxford University Press (1996) 48

[4] Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy at 7:20

[5] Barbara MacKinnon, Andrew Fiala, Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues, Cengage Learning, (2014) 122

[6] Christoph Horn, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Walter de Gruyter (2006) 271

[7] Claudia Card, The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir, Cambridge University Press (2003) 27

[8] Pauli Pylkkö, The Aconceptual Mind: Heideggerian Themes in Holistic Naturalism, John Benjamins Publishing (1998) 6

[9] Ben Lazare Mijuskovic, Loneliness in Philosophy, Psychology, and Literature, iUniverse (2012) 196

[10] Phillip Cole, The Myth of Evil: Demonizing the Enemy, Greenwood Publishing Group (2006) 62

[11] Plato, The Republic at 363a

[12] Immanual Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals, Dover Publications (2005) 3

[13] John T. Scott, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Human Nature and History, Taylor & Francis (2006) 225

[14] Richard Kearney, The Continental Philosophy Reader, Psychology Press (1996) 68

[15] Terence Irwin, The Development of Ethics, Volume 3: From Kant to Rawls, OUP Oxford (2009)

[16] Weiming Tu, Neo-Confucian Thought in Action: Wang Yang-ming’s Youth (1472-1509), University of California Press (1976) 68

[17] Merol Westphal, Commanded Love and Moral Autonomy, Ethical Perspective 5 (1998) 2

[18] John

[19] Immanuel Kant, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime, 2:217

[20] Raymond L. Weiss, Ethical Writings of Maimonides, Dover Publications New York (1975), 7

[21] Proverbs 4:26

[22] Weiss and Butterworth, op. cit., 30

[23] David Hume, Moral and Political Philosophy, Simon and Schuster (2010)

[24] Weiss and Butterworth, op. cit., 46

[25] Immanuel Kant, Religion within the Bounds of Mere Reason, 6:32

[26] Weiss and Butterworth, op. cit., 40

[27] Ibid., 43

[28] Confucius, The Analects, Chapter XXIV

[29] Menicius, Bk. vii., pti., c.vii., v i.

[30] Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, 4:439

[31] Joel Kupperman, Classic Asian Philosophy: A Guide to the Essential Texts, 89

[32] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (B125) 5

[33] Ibid., A11/B25

[34] Neil Leach, Digital Cities AD: Architectural Design, John Wiley & Sons (2009) 62

[35] James Williams, Gilles Deleuze’s Philosophy of Time: A Critical Introduction and Guide, Edinburgh University Press (2011) 4

[36] It might do well to note that this conclusion is perhaps not accurate in that clarity by Deleuze on the subject of freedom is focused from an empirical angle [an explanation of repetition].

[37] Patrice Haynes, Immanent Transcendence: Reconfiguring Materialism in Continental Philosophy, A&C Black, (2012) 45

[38] A. B. Dickerson, Kant on Representation and Objectivity, Cambridge University Press, (2003)123

[39] TK Seung, Kant: A Guide for the Perplexed, Bloomsbury Publishing (2007) 75

[40] Matthew 7:15

[41] Op. Cit., Kant A109

[42] Chris Brown, Terry Nardin, Nicholas Rengger, International Relations in Political Thought: Texts from the Ancient Greeks

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