Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pretty Lady's Ontological Epistemology

It is extremely simple, darlings. Obvious, even; indeed, one of the greatest mysteries of Pretty Lady's life is how, or why, people cannot seem to comprehend such obviousness. But since many individuals persist in such staggering obtuseness as to question Pretty Lady's ontological views, no matter how simply she tries to state them, she will put them forth again, as plainly as possible.

First axiom: There is consciousness.

Pretty Lady arrives at this axiom by looking round. As she looks round, she notes that there appears to be a certain something which looks round, as well as things she looks round at. Furthermore, she intuits that whatever it is, that both looks round and notes the looking round, has a sort of integral cohesion, which transcends than the sum of all its parts. She names this integrated cohesivity 'consciousness.'

Is this simple enough?

Second axiom: There are other consciousnesses.

Pretty Lady realizes that she is taking a gigantic leap of faith, in stating this axiom. The nature of an axiom is that it is unprovable, of course; it is perfectly possible that Pretty Lady's consciousness has invented all those others, out of sheer desperate loneliness. But since Pretty Lady's consciousness doesn't like to be lonely, and she presupposes that whatever caused her consciousness to occur doesn't like it either, she will allow for the sake of argument that the overwhelming evidence gathered in her processes of looking round is genuine, and that all of you are, in fact, there.

First conclusion: Individual consciousnesses obtain different perspectives.

In nearly all of Pretty Lady's perceptions, she notes that she is here, and you are there. You are not looking out of her perceived eyes, and vice versa. If there is anyone who questions this, please write to her as soon as possible with corroborative evidentiary statements.

Pursuant logical extension of first conclusion: An individual consciousness in its ordinary state cannot obtain a universal perspective.

In plain terms, this means that Pretty Lady is not Fit to Decide. From her limited perspective, and her acceptance of the existence other perspectives, she cannot Know All. She cannot know the consequences of any action taken by her--its ultimate effects to the perceived benefit or detriment of other consciousnesses--because, quite simply, she is not in possession of All The Facts.

And nobody else is either, pending the arrival and verification of abovementioned evidence.

Unavoidable conclusion: Only a transcendent, or universal, consciousness is capable of establishing an effective set of directions for negotiating this labyrinth of multitudinous perspectives.

If anyone seriously disputes this, try biking from Staten Island to the Bronx without a map or prior experience, and without going through any bad neighborhoods, getting hit by any trucks, or falling into any bodies of water, and get back to Pretty Lady when you're done.

Third axiom: Pretty Lady did not create her own consciousness.

Well, how could she? If there was no Pretty Lady there to make the decision, what was the Assembling Factor? It boggles.

First Postulate: Something created Pretty Lady's consciousness.

And whatever did so must have been conscious; perhaps even was consciousness. For the sake of brevity, we shall call this entity 'God.'

Second Postulate: Whatever created PL's consciousness, created all the others too.

For the sake of simplicity.

Hunch: This creative force might very well be transcendent.

Here, we get into very murky waters indeed. Pretty Lady has grounds for her hunch; indeed, she has almost nothing BUT grounds for this hunch. To state her grounds would involve a very lengthy article indeed, and she has other responsibilities.

So let us merely be practical. If a transcendent consciousness exists, it necessarily includes Pretty Lady's, as well as all the others. Thus she should have a way of accessing it. Thus, accessing it is her only sure way of negotiating her world safely.

So: Dropping individual perspective leads one to God.

Which means she loves her neighbors as herself.

Any questions?


12 comments:

Morris said...

None from me - but then you are preaching to the converted...
:P

Desert Cat said...

Well that is a very clever tie between "Love thy neighbor as thy self" and "All is One".

If that rabbit came out of ACIM, I might have to go see what other Leporidae may be contained in that topper.

prettylady said...

D.C., for me it is difficult to say which rabbit came out of where, at this point. The internal logic of ACIM is, as far as I can tell, hermetic, and it does make that particular point clearly and repeatedly. But that doesn't mean that Pretty Lady's version of it does not owe a certain amount to PHL610Q, Zen Buddhism, and Fr. Worrell.

Bobert said...

That's one huge bunch of assumptions there... based only on a singular point of view.

prettylady said...

Bobert, if you think about it, a singular point of view is quite literally the only thing a person can be certain of. Everything else is speculation.

cablesuncle said...

Pretty Lady strikes me as Pretty Full of Lyrical but Incoherent Thought. Labeling streams of consciousness as "axioms" and "postulates" (which, by the way, are synonymous) does not make them so.

And most certainly, "conclusions" drawn from them are fatally flawed, lost destinations for which there is no map that can be followed.

prettylady said...

Cablesuncle, you are as big an idiot as the T.A. for my PHL610Q class, who was also incapable of following trains of logic which were not couched in approved academic tedium.

An 'axiom,' my dear, is an unprovable but intuitively irrefutable grounding for a theorem, as anyone who has studied basic geometry knows. A 'postulate' is a potentially provable statement that may be tested by the application of logic.

And classic ontological logic is hardly 'stream of consciousness,' except in the most basic sense, even when it is couched in highly eccentric language.

cablesuncle said...

Dear Pretty Lady,

I love it when you talk nasty to me.

Don’t mean to be harsh, but I must point out…

In one exasperated breath you tell us how “simple” your OE is, frustrated over how dense some of us must be in failing to grasp it. Then you require nearly 700 words to convey that simplicity.

Lincoln needed only 278 words to compose the Gettysburg Address, and Descartes was able to articulate his attempt at the ontological proof of God in the following 40 words:

1) Whatever I clearly and distinctly perceive to be contained in the idea of something is true of that thing.
2) I clearly and distinctly perceive that necessary existence is contained in the idea of God.
3) Therefore, God exists.

It appears that Descartes agrees with you from four centuries ago, if you get my drift.

Two axioms, a conclusion, a “pursuant logical extension of a conclusion” (a corollary, perhaps?), an unavoidable conclusion (so I have a choice to avoid the first conclusion?), another axiom, two more postulates; cobble them together with the feeble glue of…a HUNCH (?!), conclude with a broad, puzzling leap to the non-sequitur that “Dropping individual perspective leads one to God” and there you have one version of simplicity.

Just to help us newbies, how does one actually go about “dropping his or her individual perspective?” (that is, besides dying, of course, or is that what you really mean?). And is dropping individual perspective really a good thing for an artist to do? Are you just a convenient meat puppet conduit for God to channel her boundless artistic creativity?

(By the way, I think your art is nothing short of sensational and I’d like to purchase “Blue City” if it’s still available. I’ll email you for details. I hope you’ll temporarily suspend your indictment of my idiocy for this transaction. Alternatively, you can rationalize it on the basis that an idiot like me is in critical need of artistic enrichment.)

Your thorough definitions of “axiom” and “postulate” are correctly worded. But, how you use them is a distinction without a difference. When you strip off the thin veneer of subtlety that separates these two concepts by intended purpose, you find they both do the same thing. They both ask me, an audience member, to accept presumptions, without question, as the sole support for the conclusion. Good for the theater, not so good for an ontology.

An axiom is a presumption, and so is a postulate. The fact that they serve different purposes in the framework of logic does not change that basic fact. I'm calling on some backup here:

American Heritage Dictionary -
pos•tu•late n. (pŏs'chə-lĭt, -lāt')
1. Something assumed without proof as being self-evident or generally accepted, especially when used as a basis for an argument
2. Mathematics An axiom.

ax•i•om n. (āk'sē-əm)
1. A self-evident principle or one that is accepted as true without proof as the basis for argument; a postulate.

Well, if I get to stipulate all my presumptions and assertions, I can prove anything I want, can’t I?

As delightful coincidence would have it, PL, one of the clues on the Jeopardy quiz show last night (Nov. 1) under the category of “A” words was “a postulate, derived from the Greek word “worthy”. Yup, “what is AXIOM” was the correct answer. (Here, I’ve blown my cover that I’m a old geek.) Had that not happened, I would not have been inspired to drop in on you again. An omen from Alex Trebeck.

But I digress.

Collapsing the treatise into just the key elements, I’m still having indigestion about the simplicity thing, but it starts to send a familiar-sounding intention. However, I have an overwhelming urge to stir in a few comments:

1. There is consciousness. (Again, Descartes approves)

2. There are other consciousnesses. (If there is more than one sentient being, that seems to be covered by #1, and if there is not, there wouldn't be any point to even start this exercise, would there?)

3. Individual consciousnesses obtain different perspectives. (Otherwise, by definition, they wouldn’t be “individual”, would they.)

4. An individual consciousness in its ordinary state cannot obtain a universal perspective. (Unless, of course, the “ordinary” state IS the “universal” state, but let’s not get caught up in the “academic tedium” of something as unimportant as specific and meaningful definitions.)

5. Only a transcendent, or universal, consciousness is capable of establishing an effective set of directions for negotiating this labyrinth of multitudinous perspectives. (Uhh, what? You lost me at “labyrinth of multitudinous perspectives”. Is this one of the simplifications that you refer to? Possibly you mean “Only a transcendent consciousness can know the limited individual perspectives of all us mortals.)

6. Pretty Lady did not create her own consciousness. (I think you’re seriously underestimating yourself here, and in doing so, have postulated [presumed] something that is very vulnerable to challenge, but more on that when we get to #9)

7. Something created Pretty Lady's consciousness. (Excuse me for pointing out the tautology of #6 and #7, which could be collapsed into a single thought, but “if it ain’t one, it’s got to be the other”.)

8. Whatever created PL's consciousness, created all the others too. (That could very well be, but we may not agree on what that “whatever” is.)

9. Hunch: This creative force might very well be transcendent. (Or, it might not be. My hunch—actually it’s much more than a hunch—is that individual experience and DNA may play an important role here.)

10. So: Dropping individual perspective leads one to God. (Still not sure how to actually drop individual perspective, but it sounds boring as well as unhealthy, and indicative of a narcissistic God that prefers mindless drones as worshipers. Judging by your unique and captivating art, you haven’t dropped individual perspective either, and I hope you never do.)

Final observation before I break for a late night beer: You picked an indisputably accurate pen name, SLJ.

prettylady said...

Sigh.

I am devastated to inform you that 'Blue City' has been bespoke. If the buyer should happen to change his mind, I shall let you know; in the meantime, I am daily creating other works which far surpass 'Blue City' in their force, power and gorgeousness. I highly recommend that you give your attention to these as well.

Then you require nearly 700 words to convey that simplicity.

Of course, darling. The entire basis, grounding, and delight of Pretty Lady is in such self-evident ironies; her beloved friends would not have it any other way. If you want brevity, watch the nightly news.

The fact that they serve different purposes in the framework of logic is why they have been used differently here. Duh.

(Again, Descartes approves)

So does the Buddha.

If there is more than one sentient being, that seems to be covered by #1

Not necessarily. See the logic contained within those seemingly unnecessary PL digressions.

Otherwise, by definition, they wouldn’t be “individual”

My experience of academia taught me that all such apparent tautologies must be explicitly stated, for the sake of making the next necessary point in the argument; also, not necessarily obvious, particularly to the narcissist.

Unless, of course, the “ordinary” state IS the “universal” state

If I am here, and you are there, how is this possible? Please.

Possibly you mean “Only a transcendent consciousness can know the limited individual perspectives of all us mortals.

That, and then some. Reference the 'set of directions' portion of the original statement. This is where the question of Ethics rears its quite significant head. Please pay attention.

My hunch—actually it’s much more than a hunch—is that individual experience and DNA may play an important role here.

Here you are seriously conflating materialism, psychology and metaphysics. The three fields do not necessarily obviate one another, running, as they do, on entirely parallel paths.

Still not sure how to actually drop individual perspective, but it sounds boring as well as unhealthy

Sigh. Not at all. I recommend a few years in a Buddhist monastery, or a couple of months in France with a copy of A Course In Miracles and nothing better to do than to study it while everybody else is having conversations you don't understand. You will be quite surprised.

before I break for a late night beer

Your sixth?

You picked an indisputably accurate pen name, SLJ.

One balances one's ironic tensions with a certain amount of verity. ;-)

cablesuncle said...

Dear PL,

I'm back.

Our exchange was interrupted by job-related travel. I find that between psychology, metaphyics, and materialism, the first two are not as effective at paying the rent and putting food on the table. Your experience may differ.

In any case, if you turn your metaphysical antenna westward toward the Bay area where you once gathered inspiration, you might hear the sound of me blinking first.

It's been fun, but I fear the only result of our continued sparring will be that you spend less time painting. That would be unconscionable on my part.

But who knows. Maybe I'll return with some new provocation just when you need a break.

Aaron Agassi said...

In this day and age, I am sure that you are well aware of scientific explanation and supporting evidence, of biological evolution towards consciousness, quite without divine intervention. In any case, your first postulate, even given the unlikely lack of imagination of any better hypothesis, a) simply does not follow and b) only removes the problem to God anyhow. So why the affectation of naive originality followed by group reach around for such an old chestnut? Or have I just answered my own question?

Pretty Lady said...

quite without divine intervention.Certainly I am aware that divine intervention takes on myriad forms, many of them gloriously, ingeniously discoverable by scientific means.

So why the affectation of naive originalitySo as not to be forced to the desperate expedient of leaving snide comments on two-year-old blog posts, in the hope that somebody, somewhere, will someday read my stultifyingly tortuous prose and recognize me for the genius I believe myself to be.

This is not your lucky day, however. Toodles!