Friday, January 4, 2013

The Infinite Waltz of Socratic Elenchus and Platonic Anamnesis
The Dialectic of Faith, Doubt and Rational Necessity
by Ryan Haecker

Thy legs must move to conquer as they fly,
If but thy coats are reasonably high;
Thy breast - if bare enough - requires no shield;
Dance forth - sans armour thou shalt take the field,
And own - impregnable to most assaults,
Thy not too lawfully begotten 'Waltz'.
- The Waltz, Lord Byron, 1813


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The primordial simple matter of abstract being is the most uniformly barren desert of monolithic reality, the richest and poorest of truths, which potentially possesses all existence even as it actually gives forth no existence.  Intellective apprehension of abstract being is "the fountain of life in which we shall see light." (Ps. 36)  Although it remains ineluctably limited in time and space, the mind may conjure before itself all abstract worlds of possible conceptual determination, as a microcosm of God's originary creative Word.  Judgment is the building block upon which all edifices of thought are erected, for in judgment, the subject matter copulates with the predicate form to generate the propositions and concepts of thought's universal substance. In the order of knowing (ordo scientiva) rather than the order of existence (ordo esse), judgment proceeds to weigh and measure the truth of all possible worlds of thought.  Each judgment is a further determination of a concept that may possibly be concretized in the actual world; for any predication is simultaneously the affirmation of some predicate; the negation of its contrary opposite (i.e. what the predicate is not); and determination is negation.  Thus thought begins in the purest generality of abstraction and, step by step; through subject, predicate and conceptual determinations; turns around and around until, in the utmost bacchanalia of its mutually coinciding centrifugal rotation, it glides by its own inner necessity through the recursive self-movement of the concept that ceaselessly interpenetrates, coincides with and illuminates all truth.

The philosopher escapes from the cave of ignorance to become the midwife whose art is the birth of the concept, which may be either a genuine and true offspring or an imposture and a false offspring: epigenetic thought cultivates the genuine offspring and contradictory thought terminates the imposture.  Each thought flutters about like birds in a birdcage, and judgment reaches forth, perchance, to seize one among these, even as others escape its grasp.  This is the psychic phenomena of the logical bivalency of positive and negative judgment; of affirmation and denial; of truth and falsity; in which thought moves one step forward and one step backwards.  The bivalency of logic generates all of the dualities of being and non-being from the uniformity of abstract being: abstract being has already within itself some modal potentialities which are implicitly negated when they possess contradictions in-themselves or for-others.  Hence, for any possible world to become concrete requires both that it is intrinsically consistent with itself and that it is extrinsically consistent with the actual world.  Immanuel Kant described how philosophy contemplates building a tower whose top may reach to heaven, but that this bold undertaking is "bound to fail through lack of material" (CPR B735) for antinomies of reason, in which inferences which begin with different premises produce equally valid yet mutually contradictory conclusions, sap the foundation of any tall edifice of systematic thought. When the cornerstone is rejected, the foundation must crumble and topple the structures. So must the task of philosophy fail when it raises judgments over judgments, in the merely finite and external manner of discrete conceptual and propositional building blocks, to reach the highest heights of truth. The book of Genesis describes how God "placed a cherubim and a flaming sword turning every way to guard the way to the Tree of Life" (Gen. 3:23). It is from such an invisible necessity that contradictions invariably and imperceptibly confound the languages of all finite thinking, as soon as any structure is raised to its zenith, to prohibit mankind's return from exile to the native land of thought.

A more prudent architect will reflect upon these previous efforts so as to determine a plan in conformity with the material given to us; to design a method of logic which may stands over and determine the exercise of thought itself. The copulation of subject matter and predicate forms in judgment will then be negated so that the judgments themselves may become the subject matter of thought: each judgment is then determined by the form of a method; a logic of method, or a methodologism, which arrogates to itself the form of their mutual predication. Yet in elevating methodologism to be the judgment over judgments, thought conceals from itself its very own judgment of methodologism, through which judgment is externalized from itself just as its intends to regulate itself; and in not allowing itself to be recognized as a judgment, thought presumes that methodologism, which stands opposed to judgment, to be the inner truth of all judgment. This externalization of judgment from itself, with the intention of determining itself, results in the contradiction between a judgment that is supposed to be inwardly united but is outwardly disunited and opposed to itself. The design of all thought is  destabilized in its very beginning, reducing all philosophy to a Babel of tongues, in which every thinker envisions a different edifice; designs thought differently from the others and; upon reflecting on these differences, equally doubts that any design may succeed in raising itself to the unity of reality and truth.

There lies a treasure hidden in the field for which this world is not enough.  Although thought begins mired in unsearchable diversity of the abstract being and possible worlds, thought no less endeavors to bring all possibilia within the concrete necessity of actual reality.  Plato taught that the similarity of the many changeable things within our experience could be explained by a theory of eternal ideas (εἶδος), which perfectly exemplify all instances, and are themselves the universal cause of the appearances of the particular things within our perception which participate their reality and truth. In the eternal ideas thought is endlessly repeated in cycles that simply reaffirm themselves, and impose a law of arcane necessity upon the variegated forays, conjectures and designs of thought.  Like the blooming of leaves in the changing seasons, there is appears a mysterious concord between the movements of thought and the laws through which alone reason may operate, in a seeming pre-established harmony of the mind and the cosmos that suggests that all of the paths of thought had been ordered for our minds' arrival.  The necessary laws of reason and nature are equally ignored and obeyed on account of their inviolable necessity; for in the practice of life men give little thought to that which they cannot change; yet the theoretical cognition can no more abide by an alien necessity than a midwife can allow the convulsions of labor to imperil the birthing of a child.  The task for those who adore every part of wisdom and attend to her affections, is to reproduce for ourselves the logical moments which constitute the entire formal structure of self-generated thought - the whole architectonic of ideas - to cull from the apprehension of abstract being all that lies submerged in the rough and to raise it to the concrete reality of the Absolute Idea.  Thought must stand judgment upon judgment, not as discrete self-contained units existing merely for themselves, but rather according to a transcendental  golden ratio, which no less accords with the pure forms of reason than with the shapes of the natural world, until the thinking mind may dance with whole kingdom of heaven in the gay self-motion of an infinite waltz.

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