Wednesday, October 26, 2016



D. R, Khashaba

I have been reading an intriguing article by Brandon Keim on recent and ongoing scientific research and scientific thinking on animal minds:

I do not intend to comment on the article since it is mainly outside my range. I will only give a couple of marginal reflections.

At one point we are told that Georg Streidter “noted that fish have demonstrated many (…) cognitive feats. These include …. the ability to count, as described in angel fish who differentiate between schools with different numbers of individuals …”. What strikes me here is that the word ‘count’ seems to be used with peculiar nonchalance. To “differentiate between schools with different numbers of individuals” is not to count. A one-year-old child knows the difference between ‘big’ and ‘biiiig’ spoken with outstretched arms. A savage who cannot count three will know the difference between a horde of a hundred bison and one of a thousand bison. To count involves the application of the conceptual number series. Whether certain animals have something corresponding to conceptual thinking is a distinct question. What I object to here is the lose use of the term ‘count’.

It is admitted that “the nature of subjective experience is only partially accessible to objective science” (Gordon Burghardt). Nevertheless Burghardt goes on to say that “we must keep trying to understand it.” There’s the rub! I would not say that the nature of subjective experience “is only partially accessible to objective science”; it is totally inaccessible to objective science. What scientists investigate in their sophisticated experimentations and observations is not the nature of subjective experience – which can only be known in the inwardness of one’s own subjective experience – but external manifestations and indications. A person born deaf may study musical notation. May even appreciate the mathematical concordance n a musical score. But she or he can never know the experience of listening to a melody. That must be individually experienced.

Indeed I would say that the differences and controversies between scientists in interpreting the results of scientific experimentations arise because one class of scientists are actually posing and trying to answer philosophical questions about subjective experience while other scientists are content to give objective accounts of the results.

In referring to raising and trying to answer philosophical questions about subjective experience I do not mean that there are philosophical answers to these questions. A philosopher probing her or his subjective experience cannot explain the nature of the subjective but can only – equally with the poet and the artist – give symbolic intimations of their inner reality.

What best we gain from the scientists’ interest in studying our kin in the animal kingdom is a widening of our sympathies and a release from the arrogant illusion of human uniqueness and human superiority.

When we read that “insects, too, would appear to be conscious” I find in that corroboration of my conviction that living intelligence is the metaphysical ground of all Being.

D. R. Khashaba

Cairo, October 26, 2016

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016



D. R. Khashaba

Shelley was a great Plato lover; he was also a born poet for whom poetry was a religion. Plato too was a born poet but had a love-hate attitude to poetry issuing from two different sources, the one moral and the other a theoretical fancy. Whatever may have been Shelley’s proximate incentive in writing his famous essay “A Defence of Poetry”, he could not have helped having Plato and Plato’s inimical stance towards poetry at the back of his mind throughout. Early in the essay Shelley hails Plato as “essentially a poet — the truth and splendour of his imagery, and the melody of his language, are the most intense that it is possible to conceive.” In effect, Shelley’s “Defence of Poetry” is an answer to Plato. As Plato found it necessary in all reverence to answer ‘Father Parmenides’ (Sophist), so Shelley finds it necessary to answer the divine Plato. Yet we do not go wrong if we say that the whole essay is of Platonic inspiration.

Let me first explain what I mean in speaking of the two sources of Plato’s love-hate attitude to poetry — or rather of the hate element; the love requires neither proof nor explanation. In the first place Plato was enraged by the immoral and irrational stories about the gods propagated by the poets, chiefly by Hesiod and Homer. Books II-III of the Republic provide sufficient evidence of this. Then I suppose Plato, to mollify his bad conscience about his adverse stance towards poets and poetry, concocted the theory of imitation at the third remove of Republic X, belying his own insightful view of poetry as inspiration (Apology 22c, Symposium, Ion). Let us now turn to Shelley’s Defence.

Shelley opens his essay with a seminal distinction between reason and imagination. Reason, according to Shelley, may be considered as “mind contemplating the relation borne by one thought to another”. Imagination on the other hand may be considered as “mind acting upon those thoughts so as to colour them with its own light, and composing from them, as from elements, other thoughts, each containing within itself the principle of its own integrity.” The one mode (imagination) is synthetic, the other (reason) is analytic; “its action regards the relations of things, simply as relations, considering thoughts, not in their integral unity, but as the algebraical representations which conduct to certain general results.” Shelley continues: “Reason is the enumeration of quantities already known; imagination is the perception of the value of those quantities, both separately and as a whole.” (‘Value’ here = intrinsic nature, essence.)

I know of no better succinct statement of the Socratic-Platonic conception of knowledge and of the radical difference between science and philosophy than that condensed by Shelley in this prophetic opening paragraph. I believe that in these few lines we have the whole answer to Plato’s deprecation of poetry and art as imitation. (The charge of immorality is answered by Shelley further on in the essay.) I will first give my own expanded interpretation of this pregnant passage before going further. In fact the essence of what I refer to as Shelley’s answer to Plato is contained in the rich first two paragraphs of the essay and I will mainly concentrate on these.

Reason or reasoning, considers the external relations of ideas externally; this is the dianoia which occupies the lower division of the upper section of Plato’s Divided Line (Republic 509d-511e), yielding not true epistêmê (understanding) , but doxa (opinion, much as this sounds odd to our modern Positivist ears). It is the investigation of things en tois ergois (in the outer world) which Socrates in the Phaedo (95e ff.) forgoes for the philosophical investigation en tois logois (in the mind). Reasoning, scientific thinking, Kant’s pure reason, is, as Shelley rightly sees, concerned with quantities and the relations of quantities. These are objective, empirically given, never apprehending thoughts “in their integral unity, but as the algebraical representations which conduct to certain general results”, which ‘general results’ I call scientific transitional approximations. It is only in ‘imagination’ – in which, with Shelley, I include philosophizing – that the mind, shedding upon thoughts its own light, composes from them other thoughts “each containing within itself the principle of its own integrity”. As I have repeatedly stated in my writings, the aporia (perplexity) to which the Socratic elenchus invariably leads, is meant to reveal that the inner reality of the thought can only be beheld in the self-evidence of the idea (its “integral unity”) in the mind. Moreover in imagination the mind composes “other thoughts, each containing within itself the principle of its own integrity”. This is a clear affirmation of the creativity of the mind. This is what Plato usually callsphronêsis, though in the Divided Line (with Plato’s notorious disregard for terminological uniformity) he designates noêsis or simply nous. The creativity of the mind is definitely affirmed in the Republic (490a-b on which I repeatedly commented in my writings) and in Diotima’s speech in the Symposium. Shelley penetratingly sees that the creative faculty “is the basis of all knowledge”.

The fertile distinction of the opening paragraph is followed by a most profound development of the notion of the creativity of imagination, which I will try to do justice to. The notions of cause and effect lose their artificial abstractedness and separation (as in the common theoretical usage) and are revealed to be, on the plane of creativity, inseperable aspects of an integral act (Brtgson’s notion of duration; Whitehead’s notion of ‘event’). We never in life (except in the theoretical abstraction debunked by Hume) meet a cause without the accompaniment of its inbred fulfilment. In living nature an event is not caused but unfolds like a sprout from the seed. The fertilized ovum does not cause the baby; it unfolds into the baby. It is only in the carcass dissected by empirical science that the seed and the sprout are seen as cause and effect. Shelley elucidates this in a manner which, to do it justice, we can only designate as poetical and profoundly philosophical at once. Shelley has a deep insight into the wholeness of living, creative process not approached by professional philosophers until Bergson and Whitehead and still unglimpsed by the common run of academic scholars.

We can now follow Shelley’s prophetic elucidation in his own words and examples which I will give with the minimum of interpretive interference.

Shelley first defines poetry, in a general sense, to be “the expression of the imagination”. He continues: “Man is an instrument over which a series of external and internal impressions are driven, like the alternations of an ever-changing wind over an Aeolian lyre, which move it by their motion to ever-changing melody. But there is a principle within the human being … which acts otherwise than in the lyre, and produces not melody alone but harmony”. The creativity of poetry and art is a wholly internal, completely unified modulation outflowing in spontaneous expression. This is a view which consciously or unconsciously does away with the representation of poetry and art as imitation. At this point we move into deeper waters where the distinction of cause and effect vanishes when we see poetic creation exemplifying the creativity of all reality. From the long second paragraph I pick up the following stray sentences, with little comment, to give a peep into the metaphysical insight with which this prophetic passage is replete.

“A child at play by itself, will express its delight by its voice and motions …” “The savage … expresses the emotions produced in him by surrounding objects” and in his “plastic or pictorial imitation” he is not merely imitating but expressing “his apprehension of them”. “… lamguage, gesture, and the imitative arts, become at once the representation and the medium, the pencil and the picture, the chisel and the statue, the chord and the harmony.” “The social sympathies … begin to develop themselves from the moment that two human beings coexist; the future is contained within the present, as the plant within the seed …” This is the principle of the integral unity, the living, throbbing wholeness of all that is real, and it is no wonder that a poet anticipates professional philosophers in giving explicit expression to it. Past and future are empty abstractions. Unless the present be heavy with the future there would be no future; indeed there would be no extant world.

Further on we read: “A poet participates in the eternal, the infinite, and the one” — a clear echo of Plato. Hence a poet gives expression to the one reality that transcends all time, place, and multiplicity. Hence Shelley asserts that “Shakespeare, Dante, and Milton … are philosophers of the very loftiest power”.

Plato unfortunately did not have a term for ‘imagination’: had he thought of poetry as creative imagination he would have seen the inaptness of his doctrine of mimêsis (imitation) and he would have seen that his own conception of philosophy places it firmly in the same class as poetry and art.

“The great secret of morals” Shelley writes, “is love; or a going out of our own nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own,” This only apparently contradicts Socrates’ identification of knowledge and virtue. The ‘knowledge’ preached by Socrates is self-knowledge — knowledge of a form, a model, of perfection elected by one as one’s inner reality, as that within one that is enhanced by doing what is right and damaged by doing what is wrong. That is why when in the Socratic examination the conclusion is reached that virtue is knowledge and then it is further asked “What knowledge? Knowledge of what?” the only answer is: knowledge of that very excellence we were seeking to define. — I find this fully in harmony with Shelley’s “A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.”

Shelley sums up the gist of his essay in a few words: “The great instrument of moral good is the imagination; and poetry administers to the effect by working on the cause.” This is not distant from what Plato himself says of the role of music in early education. (To anyone who might object that I find identities and similarities where there are none, I reply that a philosopher sees similarities and analogies where others see differences.)

I pass over Shelley’s ample and profound treatment of the question of morality and immorality in poetry and art, though this can be seen as a direct answer to Plato. I also pass over much else that is of the greatest significance and beauty, sucb as Shelley’s long brilliant “critical history of poetry and its influence on society” as I do not wish to extend this note much further.

D. R. Khashaba

September 13, 2016.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016


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D. R. Khashaba

For nigh two decades I have been advancing a certain conception of the nature of philosophical thinking. Two factors have worked against my efforts, the one historical and the other we may call semantic.

Let me take the semantic factor first though it is closely connected with the historical factor. The word ‘philosophy’ has had a long rich history and has meant different things at different times and to different people. At one time it was crowned queen of the sciences. I would be crazy if I meant to wipe off all that and confine the usage to what I sometimes refer to as ‘philosophy proper’. Perhaps I could call my special kind of philosophy Platonism, but then a chorus of scholars will roar at me: That is not the Platonism we study and teach.

Now for the historical factor. Whereas in the Orient, in China or India, sages pronounced their insights into reality and into value in metaphor and parable and paradox and no one fancied that their wisdom, which was appreciated and revered, had anything to do with the natural world, in the Occident, philosophical thinking arose in Greece in close proximity with natural speculation and investigation.

First a word about how Greek philosophy differed from the wisdom of the Orient. The characteristic feature of Greek philosophy is rationality (not ‘rationalism’, I have elsewhere explained the distinction I make between the two). The Greeks demanded intellectual satisfaction. They wanted their views to be intrinsically coherent. This is in essence an aesthetic craving. It is not essentially related to the desire for truth. Plato was satisfied with a ‘likely tale’. On this more hereafter.

In Greece then philosophy arose in close proximity with science and the line between the two was sometimes blurred. Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes were cosmogonists. They wanted to give a likely account of the development of the universe. They were fundamentally engaged in the same search carried on by today’s astrophysicists. But Xenophanes was not interested in that. He was concerned with what goes on in the minds of human beings. Nor was Heraclitus primarily concerned with the actualities of the actual world. His mind searched the reality beyond the evanescence of the natural world. He found reality in the Logos and in the unfathomable Psuchê.

Then came Socrates. In the ‘autobiographical’ passage in the Phaedo Socrates says that in his youth he was interested in the investigation of nature. An intelligent young man in mid-fifth-century Athens could not have failed to be attracted by the flood of investigations peri phuseôs current at the time. But that was not where his heart really was. He was concerned with virtue, justice, reasonableness; he was concerned with what benefits our inner reality and what harms our inner reality. He tells of his experience with Anaxagoras’s book and what he says in that respect is most revealing.

Socrates heard someone reading from Anaxagoras’s book and it seemed that Anaxagoras maintained that the mind was the prime cause of all things. Socrates therefore eagerly sought to obtain and read the book but he was deeply disappointed. Anaxogaras’s system was just another cosmogony. Here Socrates reached a revolutionary conclusion that students of philosophy – most of all erudite scholars – have ignored and continue to ignore.

I have explained that crucial conclusion of Socrates tens of times. Let me try to put it in a new way. The human mind raises two different kinds of questions: (1) Questions about natural things, what they are, how they come about, how it is possible to handle and manipulate them. (2) Questions about the meaning and the value of such notions as good and bad, of justice, of amity, of life, of joy, of beauty. For answers to the first class of questions we have to go out to the things where the things are. For answers to the second class of questions we have to probe our own minds. Socrates was convinced that these two kinds of approach have nothing, nothing, nothing in common. The first kind is the business of science; the second is the business of philosophy in a special restricted sense of the term.

Philosophy has no answers to the questions proper to science and science has no answers to questions proper to philosophy. Philosophy cannot even approach the questions proper to science and science cannot even approach the questions proper to science. The moderns – Empiricists, Analysts, the advocates of scientism – have been rubbing in the first leg of this dual statement but they refuse even to make an effort to understand the second part. What cannot be validated by scientific methods is nonsense and that’s that.

Came Plato. Early in his career Plato produced a number of dramatic pieces mimicking the Socratic examination of ideas. Scholars have differed in their reading of those works. In my idiotic reading I find in those dialogues a dual lesson. (1) The meaning of a notion such as justice cannot be determined in terms extraneous to the notion. The meaning can only be found in the self-evidence of the idea in the mind. (2) Since as human beings our life and behavior are governed by our beliefs, convictions, evaluayions, it is necessary that we constantly subject our mind to examination to remove obscurities, disentangle entanglements of ideas, unearth false beliefs and prejudices implanted in us, etc.

But Plato was also irked by an original question: What is really real? What is ultimately real? He was convinced that the answer to that question cannot be found in the world outside us. He was convinced that the ideas in our mind and our mind itself are what is really real. He identified what is really real, what is ultimately real, with our mind which is our own inner reality. We are immediately aware of that reality; in our exercise of intelligence we are in intimate communion with reality; but that reality is strictly ineffable since determinate thought and determinate language cannot constrain that reality. Our awareness of reality can only be intimated in myth and parable.

That Socratic-Platonic view of philosophy has been commonly ignored. Apart from Plotinus, only mystics and poets grasped it — until an idiotic, unlearned philosophos named Khashaba struggled to revive it around the turn of the twenty-first century.

August 25, 2016.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016



D. R. Khashaba

Noam Chomsky in his preface to the third edition of Language and Mind refers to Darwin asking “rhetorically why ‘thought, being a secretion of the brain,’ should be considered ‘more wonderful than gravity, a property of matter’.” This illustrates perfectly the confounding of scientific questions with philosophical questions — an error that Socrates uncovered twenty-six centuries ago and that I have been harping on in all my writings, but that the modern mind, moulded by the objective scientific outlook, fails to grasp. (I am just starting to read Chomsky’s book and am not certain of his stance; hence in what follows I will confine myself to discussing Darwin’s view.)

There are three words in Darwin’s statement that call for Socratic scrutinization. It seems that scientists in all fields of scientific inquiry are so taken by things that they pay little attention to words. The three words I refer to are: secretion, gravity, and property.

In what sense is thought a “secretion” of the brain. This is clearly a metaphor and not an apt metaphor at that.

As for “gravity”, Newton himself confessed that he did not know what it was; it remained a complete mystery to him.

What does it mean to say that “gravity” is a “property” of matter? Does it mean that there is a thing called “gravity” hidden in matter? All that experience justifies us in saying is that for some reason that we do not know bodies move relatively to each other. Newton named that unknown and unknowable cause “gravity”. Einstein thought that “cause” was a certain curvature in space — and who on earth knows what “space” is?

And supposing we admit that thought is a “secretion” of the brain, does that make it less wonderful? We know that plants grow and produce flowers and fruits and we can describe in great detail the processes involved, but if you don’t sense the wonder of that I can only pity your experiential poverty.

Please note that I am not discussing the science in all that. Scientists are doing excellent work observing phenomena and formulating laws that enable us to make predictions and to influence the course of processes. But don’t tell me that does away with the mystery of thought.

In philosophy we deal with meanings, with values. These are subjective things; they are part of the inwardness of our inward life. They always have an outward accompaniment. You study the outward accompaniment from outside. You cannot study the subjective objectively; that is a contradiction in terms; it is more nonsensical than squaring the circle because you can approximate to the square of the circle since these belong to the one world of space, but the subjective and the objective are two different worlds: there is nothing common between them.

Philosophers are dreamers enriching our inner life; leave them their world and they will, if they listen to me, leave you your world.

I am not arguing, I am tired of explaining again and again and again that how x comes about is the business of science, what x means is the business of philosophy and we cannot proceed from either of these to the other. I am not arguing and I am a fool for letting myself be dragged once more into this. (See the last six postings to this blog.)

August 24, 2916.

Saturday, August 20, 2016



D. R. Khashaba

Scientists found no evidence of the existence of such a thing as the mind.

Naturally, since the mind is not of such a nature as to be weighed or detected by any physical means.

Consequently scientists denied there is such a thing as the mind.

But people speak of having a mind: to explain this some scientists (and philosophers) speak of an ego illusion. Others, a bit more generous, speak of an epiphenomenon. Others yet speak of a phosphorescence of the brain.

What is an epiphenomenon? It is an accompaniment of a physical process which in itself is nothing. Perhaps we can call a mirage an epiphenomenon. But what we see in a mirage is actual light, but it is misinterpreted. Perhaps we can call a rainbow an epiphenomenon. Yet a rainbow is something we actually see, but it is not something that you can collect and carry to a laboratory to examine, yet you can reproduce it in a laboratory. So the mind epiphenomenon is not as good as a mirage or a rainbow: these we may be told are not epiphenomena but natural phenomena.

Be that as it may. Admittedly scientists have not and will not ever find evidence for the existence of a mind. To scientists (and science-oriented philosophers) the mind is not an existent and in my own terminology the mind does NOT exist.

So what is the quarrel?

To the Empiricists’ and the Analysts’ denial of the mind I have two answers on two different planes.

On tha practical level I say that it is of the mind that we have all that is of value in human life. Love and honour and justice are things of the mind.

Suppose a certain person has a miserable life but at night when he goes to sleep he regularly has blissful dreams. I say that person would be justified if he insisted that his night life is his real life and it is for that life that he tolerates the misery of his day life.

Kant laboured to catch what he called the transcendental unity of apperception. He laboured in vain, because it is not in the nature of the transcendental unity of apperception (the ‘I’, subjectivity, consciousness) to be objectified in any observation, image, or conceptual formulation.

Yet Kant would not give up. Why? Because he knew that that uncatchabke thing is what we truly are.

All that comes within the answer on the practical or moral level. It concedes to the scientist that the mind has no objective existence. On this plane the mind is a ‘no-thing’ that is yet important for the idealist and the moralist.

On the metaphysical level I say: All right, you say that physical reality is all the reality there is. In my terminology I have a different usage but let us not haggle about words. Let the natural world, the mountains, the galaxies be the sum of ‘reality’. But in that reality there is nothing fixed, nothing constant, and I add, nothing grounded. Poets and sages long ago knew that “this too too solid flesh (will) melt”. Come to scientists. You search for the ultimate origin, the ultimate ground of things and you end up with the ‘singularity’ of the Big Bang which, begging your pardon, I translate as the absurdity of the Big Bang. (See “Stephen Hawking’s Bad Metaphysics”.) Your reality, the galaxaxies and the whole physical universe are no more than a fleeting shadow. You deal with hard things, hard facts, so long as you deal with determinate finite things; when you seek the ultimate ground of things you gape into a bottomless abyss.

I say, what is really real, what is ultimately real, is not a thing but the activity that brings about the things, and I see that activity, that creativity, as intelligent, as pure creative intelligence. Ultimate Reality is not a thing, not an existing God, not a Creator, but sheer creativity. That ultimate non-existent Reality Eckhart called Nothingness; that ultimate non-existent Reality I call Creative Eternity.

Call that a fancy, call it a myth, yet it is a myth that makes the mystery of the world intelligible to my mind.

August 20, 2016.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016



D. R. Khashaba

I am despairing of having my philosophy understood by present-day students of philosophy. They expect me to do science. I do philosophy and a philosophy of a kind that has as little to do with science as music has to do with engineering or as poetry has to do with medicine.

Even a highly sympathetic reader finds fault with my affirming that we never will know what life or death are. In response he writes:

“In a formal sense life is a “mechanism”, that allows a mechanical systems of molecules to become self-preserving by using energy from the environment. This is how Schroedinger put it and how most biologists see it today.” (Hubertus Fremerey in private correspondence.)

I have no doubt that is very good science. But I doggedly insist that it does not answer the naïve question “What is life?” In the same way if I ask “What is joy?” you can give me a learned account of glands and secretions and chemical reactions and neural emissions. A person who has never experienced joy can research those processes, write a doctoral thesis, even win a Nobel prize without knowing what joy is. Only a person who has experienced the surge of feeling at hearing the Freude of Beethoven’s Ninth or who has experienced joy at seeing his child emerging safe from between the rubble of an exploded building — only such a person knows what joy is and to such a person (1) the learned scientific answer is irrelevant; (2) the question “Whatis joy?” cannot be answered in any formula of words.

To the modern, scientifically oriented mind, ‘knowledge’ has one meaning: it is objective scientific knowledge. That is why in my writings I insist on two things: (1) keeping science and philosophy completely separate as dealing with questions radically different in nature; (2) using the word ‘knowledge’ only for objective knowledge and the word ‘understanding’ only for subjective experience (I would have said ‘intuition’ if the word had not been hackneyed).

I am afraid that with the spreading dominance of science nobody will any more understand what philosophy is about. In another century (if humankind survives) even the Chinese, Indians and Japanese will no longer understand their own great heritage of wisdom.

AN AFTERTHOUGHT: Where I live, in Egypt and the whole Arab world, it is not a case of science wiping off philosophy but of superstition wiping off all ratiomality.

August 17, 2016.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016



D. R. Khashaba

In all my writings I have been trying to advance an understanding of metaphysical idealism. It may be helpful to say something about what idealism is not. Philosophical idealism (Plato’s, Berkeley’s, Kant’s, Hegel’s, Bradley’s) does not say that the objects we see and handle are an illusion. It is rather physicists who tell us that the red rose is not really red. And in a way they are right. In itself the rose is not red. The colour red that we see is a product of the three-cornered interplay of the light, the rose, and the eye. To insist that the rose is not really red is not idealism but what Whitehead called the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness.

Idealism does not say that there is nothing in the world but my thoughts, that I am at the centre of things and that all things around me are nothing but my thoughts. This is not idealism but solipsism and I am not now discussing solipsism. Berkeley definitely did not hold that the objects in the world are my thoughts. Berkeley said two things (1) Berkeley, following Locke, said that all we know of the things in the world are the perceptions we receive through our senses: that when I say there is a mountain out there I mean I perceive a mountain out there or that it is possible for a percipient to perceive a mountain out there. (2) Precisely because Berkeley held that the mountain I perceive has actual being out there and because he held that we know of no substance over and above or beyond the perceptions and because perceptions must be in a mind — precisely because he had no skepticism about the actuality of the mountain that he thought the perceptions that constitute the world must be in the mind of God. Think what you may of Berkeley’s vision but don’t say that the things around us were for Berkeley an illusion.

Plato never put the actuality of actual things in doubt. Plato despised the pleasures, the pains, the glories that the world oppresses us with. The poorest psychologist will tell you that a person you despise is much more present to you than all those you love.

Kant decidedly did not deny the actuality of things outside us. Kant said the things outside us in themselves are meaningless. That bright disk above my head at night is just that; it is Astronomy that tells me it is a massive body reflecting the rays of the sun. Before Astronomy it was a god or goddess. In either case what I know of it is what I know of it and what I know of it is what my mind (Understanding in Kant’s terminology) makes of it. For Kant, no more than for the savage worshipping the moon, no more than for Newton puzzling about its rotation, was the actuality of the bright disk up there an illusion or only an idea in my mind.

We all occasionally have illusions or visual deceptions. We recognize them as such and clearly distinguish them from genuine perceptions. The persistence of illusion defines lunacy. The Indian hermit in his forest refuge, leaving the world behind him as deceptive maya, distinguishes clearly between the deceptiveness of the things he renounces and the illusoriness of the red spot he sees if he chances to fix his eye for a while on the sun.

But perhaps it’s no use trying to explain this. Plato was right. The Gods and the Giants (Sophist, 245e-246e) will never come to an understanding. The difference between them is temperamental, else Aristotle would not have so grossly misunderstood Plato.


Empiricists think that the quintessence of knowledge is objectivity. They are right. But that is one kind of knowledge, scientific knowledge, for the core principle of science is objectivity. But philosophical understanding is a totally different thing. Philosophical understanding is first and last subjective. Kierkegaard said, Truth is subjectivity. Better said, Understanding is subjectivity. You don’t understand a concerto by having adequate knowledge about the instruments, about the physical laws of sound, about the physiology of hearing. You can know all that and yet remain unreceptive to what the composer wanted to convey. You understand a concerto by enjoying a subjective experience. That is why I insist that using the words ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ as equivalents is confusing.


Where my philosophy improves on Plato is in explaining that the reality of the ideas is secondary. What is ultimately real is the mind that creates the ideas; but this statement is also mixed with falsehood; for it is not the mind as a thing (substance or even simply entity) but the sheer pure creativity that is ultimately real. The crux of my philosophy is the seeming paradox: What is real does not exist but gives birth to all existents. What is real is the hupodochê of Plato’s Timaeus, the womb of all being and all becoming, but it is not an existent womb: its reality is its procreativeness, its eternal tokos en kalôi. What exists is essentially evanescent; it cannot be real or the source of reality. This is the gist of my Creative Eternity.

August 16, 2016.

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