Actual Freedom – General Correspondence

General Correspondence

Page Number Six


Respondent No. 1

RICHARD: Whilst browsing the Internet I came across the December Chapter of ‘The Book of Life’ ... and found it to be fascinating reading ... I offer these excerpts without comment and let his officially transcribed and authenticated words speak for themselves:

[quote]: ‘To find God, to find reality, there must be virtue. Virtue is freedom, and only through freedom can truth be discovered – not when you are caught in the hands of organised religion with its beliefs (...) why do you have beliefs? Obviously, because beliefs give you security, comfort, safety, a guide. In yourself you are frightened, you want to be protected, you want to lean on somebody, and therefore you create the ideal, which prevents you from understanding that which is. Therefore, an ideal becomes a hindrance to action (...) we are seeking something permanent – permanent in the sense of time (...) but that which is truly sacred is beyond the measure of time; it is not to be found within the field of the known (...) the search for God, for truth (...) that is true religion (...) the God of the temples, of the books, is not God, obviously – it is a marvellous escape (...) God, truth, or reality, is not to be known by a mind that is confused, conditioned, limited. How can such a mind think of reality or God? It has first to de-condition itself. It has to free itself from its own limitations, and only then can it know what God is, obviously not before. Reality is the unknown, and that which is known is not the real (...) a man who believes in God can never find God (...) if you are open to the unknown, there can be no belief in it (...) belief is a form of self-protection (...) as long as belief exists, there can never be the unknown (...) the religious man is he who does not belong to any religion, to any nation, to any race, who is inwardly completely alone, in a state of not-knowing, and for him the blessing of the sacred comes into being (...) you cannot think about the unknown, thought cannot measure it (...) when the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown (...) only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still – only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being (...) when the mind totally puts aside all the knowledge that it has acquired (...) it is only then that there is a possibility of a tremendous revolution, a fundamental change (...) you cannot think about the unknown (...) to be free from the net of time is the important concern, not to think about the unknown, because you cannot think about the unknown (...) to receive the unknown, the mind itself must become the unknown (...) the mind cannot think of that which is eternal, timeless (...) if you have followed this inquiry into what is meditation, and have understood the whole process of thinking, you will find that the mind is completely still (...) don’t say, ‘That is Samadhi’ – which is all nonsense, because you have only read of it in some book and have not discovered it for yourself. There is a vast difference between the word and the thing. The word is not the thing; the word door is not the door. So, to meditate is to purge the mind of its self-centred activity. And if you have come this far in meditation, you will find there is silence, a total emptiness (...) therefore there is a possibility for that which is timeless, eternal, to come into being (...) the discovery of truth, or God demands great intelligence, which is not assertion of belief or disbelief, but the recognition of the hindrances created by lack of intelligence. So to discover God or truth – and I say such a thing does exist, I have realised it – to recognise that, to realise that, mind must be free of all the hindrances which have been created throughout the ages’. [endquote] (Edited transcripts from: ‘The Book Of Life: Daily Meditations With J. Krishnamurti’, December Chapter. Published by Harper, San Francisco. Copyright © 1995 Krishnamurti Foundation of America. All Rights Reserved). www.kfa.org/bl-12.html).

RESPONDENT: Thanks, Richard. (I read all your posts, short or long, always welcome on my computer!)

RICHARD: I am glad that you always welcome my posts ... I read your post ‘The Execution of Hope’ with interest and was further interested in your posts on ‘Concepts’. I did notice that you used the word ‘precepts’ (a general instruction or rule for action, a maxim; especially an injunction – frequently a divine command – regarding moral conduct) whilst Konrad was talking of ‘percepts’ (objects of perception, the mental product or result of perceiving). Maybe it was but a typing error ... I mention it because in past exchanges with him I have found that the distinction between ‘percepts’ and ‘concepts’ to be an important component of his understanding. You were saying that you associate having a ‘concept’ with an object (like your office) which, when the object is actually present, is a ‘percept’ ... whereas a ‘concept’ can be without an object – as in fanciful imagining – or of an object which is not in front of you. (A concept is a product of the faculty of the mental processes of conceiving – which is to take or admit into the mind and form a mental representation of or devise a purpose, an idea or a plan and think, imagine, fancy, grasp mentally or be of the opinion about – and is an idea of a class of objects, a general notion; a theme or a design).

This is not just arguing semantics ... the recognition thought of the actual seeing/smelling of ‘the bright vivid awareness of the real fragrant orange in front of one’s nose’ is a ‘percept’ whereas the thirst-driven thought of a luscious orange when lost and parched in a desert is definitely a ‘concept’. Note that he considers a ‘percept’ to be of a ‘lower order concept’ ... he values ‘concepts’ more highly than actuality. In fact, he and I have reached an impasse on the word ‘apperception’ – which is seeing the world of people, things and events without the filter of ‘percepts’ or ‘concepts’ – as he maintains that such a direct experience of actuality is not possible. Most people do not want to be here in this actual physical world and escape into the abstract metaphysical world ... as is evidenced by Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti in the quotes I sent to the list: ‘God, truth, or reality (...) is the unknown, and that which is known is not the real’.

(Apperception has three meanings (from French ‘aperception’ or modern Latin ‘apperceptio’ (Leibniz) from ‘ap’ (towards) plus ‘perception’ (awareness or consciousness of something). (1) The mind’s perception of itself. (2) Mental perception, recognition. (3) The active mental process of assimilating an idea (especially one newly perceived) to a body of ideas already possessed, and thereby comprehending it).

Apperceptive awareness – as distinct from perceptive awareness – is drawn from meaning (1) which indicates the brain being aware of itself being conscious ... instead of ‘I’ being aware of ‘me’ being conscious. That is, awareness happening of its own accord without a ‘thinker’. Mostly peoples are of the borrowed opinion – a belief – that thought itself must stop for an unmediated awareness to occur. This is because they blame thought for creating the ‘thinker’ – which is ‘I’ as ego – as per standard Eastern Spiritual Philosophy. Of course, when there is no ‘I’ in there messing up the works, there are many periods throughout the day wherein thought does not operate at all ... but there is apperception whether there is thinking or not. And without an ‘I’ any fear whatsoever – plus the need for hope – is totally absent.

But as you have read my posts to the Mailing List you would be well aware of my position ... it is all good fun, eh?

RICHARD: In your posts on ‘Concepts’ you were saying that you associate having a ‘concept’ with an object (like your office) which, when the object is actually present, is a ‘percept’ ... whereas a ‘concept’ can be without an object – as in fanciful imagining – or of an object which is not in front of you. A concept is a product of the faculty of the mental processes of conceiving (which is to take or admit into the mind and form a mental representation of or devise a purpose, an idea or a plan and think, imagine, fancy, grasp mentally or be of the opinion about) and is an idea of a class of objects, a general notion, a theme or a design. Whereas a percept is either the object of perception or the mental product or result of perceiving. This is not just arguing semantics ... the recognition thought of the actual seeing/smelling of what you said was ‘the bright vivid awareness of the real fragrant orange in front of one’s nose’ – or the object itself – is a ‘percept’. Whereas the thirst-driven thought of a luscious orange when lost and parched in a desert is definitely a ‘concept’.

RESPONDENT: Thanks for this explanation. It does help clarify. I observe a huge and obvious difference between the concept of something and the actual awareness of the something itself ‘in front of my nose’.

RICHARD: Indeed ... having the object ‘in front of your nose’ provides the propinquity that makes it a percept (as in an object of perception) that results in having a percept (as in a mental product of the object) of that object which is ‘in front of one’s nose’. However, this is not yet ‘actual awareness’ ... because the percept (a mental product of the object) is not only the automatic recognition and placing in context process of the brain but is still an imposition of subjective meaning over the inherent properties (attributes or characteristics) of the object. These superimposed percepts are better called ‘qualia’ (qualities or values) so as to avoid confusion. Thus a tomato, for example, has the percept characteristics (attributes or properties) of being red and soft (which objectively exist inherent to the object itself) and the percept values (qualia or qualities) of redness and softness (which subjectively exist in the observer). Qualia is the meaning ascribed by the observer to the ‘message’ that is – supposedly – received from the object. Because of the confusion Mr. Bertrand Russell attempted to simplify matters by proposing that raw sensory experience of the object-as-itself (a percept as in an object of perception) be called ‘sense datum’ ... but the word has not gained much currency. Because of the subjective difficulty of separating out the intrinsic characteristics of the objects of perception (percept properties) from the qualities of the mental products of the object (percept values), a normal person can never be sure where the dividing line lies between that which is existent (real) and that which is non-existent (unreal). Nevertheless, percepts do differ from concepts ... concepts about the tomato could include speculating about making it into tomato ketchup (devising a purpose) or considering it’s genus (classification of object) for example.

[Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Quale n, pl. qualia [L, neut. of qualis (of what kind)] (1675) 1: a property (as redness) considered apart from things having the property. 2: a property as it is experienced as distinct from any source it might have in a physical object].

RESPONDENT: The concept of a thing is no more the thing than a map of West Virginia is West Virginia, but I do seem to be stuck with this belief that the map of West Virginia is ‘about’ West Virginia.

RICHARD: I would not call that being stuck with a belief ... the map is definitely about actual terrain inasmuch as it is being described accurately. The dotted lines defining the boundaries of ‘West Virginia’ are not actual, however ... they are an arbitrary human agreement imposed upon the actual earth for human convenience and commerce. For example, knowledge of the passage of time as the varying positions of the sun in the sky throughout the day and the varying positions of stars at night is actual whereas knowledge of the passage of time as a clock face divided into twelve or twenty-four segments – being an arbitrary human agreement – is not. Nevertheless, the concept of time as represented by the clock is certainly about actual time in the same way that the map is about actual land.

RESPONDENT: What I was attempting to inquire regards the apparent ‘aboutness’ of concepts: aren’t they about something? Our brain’s image-memory representation of something quite actually real that can be easily seen by looking?

RICHARD: They can only be about ‘something’ if the ‘something’ – the object – actually exists in the sensate world ... or will exist (as in inventing and constructing something). If the ‘something’ has no possibility whatsoever of ever existing as an actuality the concept belongs to the realm of fantasy. Now fantasy can be useful (as in the abstract mathematical concepts of pure science) but pure science needs to be translated into applied science before the ‘something’ can become actual. Some pure science will always remain fantasy ... I was recently reading a book written by a prominent physicist about the mathematical singularities in ‘black holes’. He expressed concern about the possibility of scientists some-day creating a ‘naked singularity’ in a laboratory ... and sucking the entire universe down the resultant plug-hole!

RESPONDENT: And doesn’t this aboutness create a separation between ‘us’ and ‘it’?

RICHARD: No ... the separation between what you call ‘us’ and ‘it’ already exists, prior to conceptualisation, due to the presence of an identity (which I describe as ‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul) which is a psychological and psychic entity inhabiting the psyche that is not actual. Thus what you call ‘us’ (which I describe as alien entities) can never experience what you call ‘it’ (which I describe as the actual world) directly. This alien entity creates an affective reality that clothes actuality with a veneer called the real-world ... as experienced by 6.0 billion human beings. This real-world reality is taken to be the actual world ... and found to be wanting. Hence the otherwise intelligent use of the brain’s ability to conceptualise is wrongly condemned for creating separation. Concepts corrupted by an identity – which moves it into the province of faith and belief – will perpetuate separation, however. The same goes for qualia.

RESPONDENT: A naive and childlike view, no doubt. But I think it is the aboutness that creates a way for us to escape ‘being here’, where, as you point out, most people do not want to be – the aboutness can be about escape, about seeking security and power in the hope that it can be found.

RICHARD: Hmm ... I notice that you have been using the word ‘aboutness’ rather than ‘about’. The use of ‘-ness’ after a word indicates it now being a ‘state’ or a ‘condition’ which connotes quality or value ... and thus meaning. This is definitely an escape as it is a superimposition by the observer.

As for ‘security’ and ‘power’ ... they are sufficiently weighty topics in themselves to perhaps discuss in some other post.

*

RICHARD: Then there is the word ‘apperception’ – which is seeing the world of people, things and events without the filter of ‘percepts’ or ‘concepts’ – and some people maintain that such a direct experience of actuality is not possible. Most people do not want to be here in this actual physical world and escape into the abstract metaphysical world ... as is evidenced in the phrase: ‘God, truth, or reality is the unknown, and that which is known is not the real’. Apperception has three meanings (from French ‘aperception’ or modern Latin ‘apperceptio’ (Leibniz) from ‘ap’ (towards) plus ‘perception’ (awareness or consciousness of something). (1) The mind’s perception of itself. (2) Mental perception, recognition. (3) The active mental process of assimilating an idea (especially one newly perceived) to a body of ideas already possessed, and thereby comprehending it. (Oxford Dictionary). Apperceptive awareness – as distinct from perceptive awareness – is drawn from meaning (1) which indicates the brain being aware of itself being conscious ... instead of ‘I’ being aware of ‘me’ being conscious. That is, awareness happening of its own accord without a ‘thinker’. Mostly peoples are of the borrowed opinion – a belief – that thought itself must stop for an unmediated awareness to occur. This is because they blame thought for creating the ‘thinker’ – which is ‘I’ as ego – as per standard Eastern Spiritual Philosophy. Of course, when there is no ‘I’ in there messing up the works, there are many periods throughout the day wherein thought does not operate at all ... but there is apperception whether there is thinking or not. And without an ‘I’ any fear whatsoever – plus the need for hope – is totally absent.

RESPONDENT: As I understand it your meaning of perceptive awareness then would be the phenomena of sensory perception prior to or without the added component of ‘aboutness’, what it is ‘like’ and related to, and abstracted mapping that the image-generating structures of the brain seem to normally create, ‘making up a story about it’, so to speak. In other words, perceptive awareness is sensory perception without or before conceptualisation.

RICHARD: Perceptive awareness is sensory perception without conceptualisation, yes ... one is alert, keenly aware. Despite such vigilance, the ‘perceiver’ is still intact. Hence my use of the phrase ‘apperceptive awareness’ ... which is perceptive awareness sans identity.

RESPONDENT: When I use the word ‘I’ I refer to this whole implacably complex phenomena, my body, senses, thoughts, images, memories, emotions, and awareness of all that is happening ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ and sometimes there appears to be no difference. As I read your last paragraph, again, I realize that I do not understand what you mean exactly when you use the word ‘I’.

RICHARD: Identity. A sense of presence ... an affective ‘being’ inhabiting the psyche. Not just ‘I’ as ego ... but ‘me’ as soul. This is ‘me’ at the core of ‘my’ being ... which is ‘being’ itself.

RESPONDENT: Would you say ‘I think therefore I am’ to be the ‘I’ being aware of ‘me’ being conscious?

RICHARD: Yes. That infamous theorem ‘I think, therefore I am’ is fatally flawed. It is predicated upon the initial surmise – ‘I think’ – being a fact in order to produce the conclusion ... ‘I am’. The premise is faulty ... it should read only the fact that ‘there is thinking happening’. Thus the rewritten axiom now looks like this: ‘There is thinking happening, therefore I am’ ... which is, of course, nothing but twaddle dressed up as sagacity. Tacit assumptions expose the lie of philosophy.

RESPONDENT: As distinct from the awareness of consciousness (generated of course by the functioning of the brain) itself being apperception, i.e. actual, non-conceptual ‘knowing’ – the VERB, not the noun, that consciousness is happening?

RICHARD: Yes, the brain is quite capable of knowing that it knows of it’s own accord without an ‘I’ to do the knowing. This can best be described as an awareness of being here ... now. Comprehending that this is happening anyway, despite ‘my’ best attempts to thwart the brain’s functioning process with precious feelings, is the first step towards not only ridding the head of ‘I’ as ego, but emptying the heart of ‘me’ as soul into the bargain. The origin of ‘me’ as a ‘being’ is the instinctual rudimentary animal self that all creatures are born with. By reaching beyond not only the ‘egoistic’ sense of self but also the ‘being’ self as well enables one to come to one’s senses and finally be here at this moment in time and this place in space. Then one is what one actually is: this flesh-and-blood body simply brimming with sense organs, delighting in this very sensual world of actual experience ... now.

Being here now is the actual understanding that this moment in time is the only place where being alive happens. The past, although it was actual when it did happen, is not actual now. The future, although it will be actual when it does happen, is not actual now. Only now is actual and as it is always now then time has no duration. This flesh and blood body is already always here at this moment in eternal time and this place in infinite space. It is ‘me’ as an identity – an alien who has a parasitical existence in the psyche of the body – that is forever locked out of being here ... now. Thus ‘I’ seek the timeless state of being – selfish immortality – which is but a poor substitute for the actual ... and peace-on-earth is nowhere to be found. The very best thing that ‘I’ can do for peace-on-earth is to self-immolate – psychologically and psychically – so that this body’s apperceptive awareness can become apparent.

The search for meaning amidst the debris of the much-vaunted human hopes and dreams and schemes thus comes to its timely end. With the end of ‘being’ itself, the distance or separation between identity and these sense organs – and thus the external world – disappears ... there is no ‘inner world’. To be living as the senses is to live the clear awareness of apperception, a pure consciousness experience (PCE) of the world as-it-is. Because there is no ‘I’ as a thinker – a little person inside one’s head – or a ‘me’ as a feeler – a little person in one’s heart – to have sensations happen to them, one is the sensations. There is nothing except the series of sensations which happen ... not happening to an ‘I’ or a ‘me’ but just happening ... moment by moment ... one after another. To live life as these sensations, as distinct from having them, engenders the most astonishing sense of freedom and release. Consequently, one is living in peace and tranquillity; a meaningful peace and tranquillity. Life is intrinsically purposeful, the reason for existence lies openly all around. Being in this very air I live in, I am constantly aware of it; I breathe it in and out; I see it, I hear it, I taste it, I smell it, I touch it, all of the time. It never goes away – nor has it ever been away.

Identity – ‘being’ – was standing in the way of the meaning of life being apparent.

23May99

RESPONDENT: I unsubscribed from the Mailing List a while ago, and seldom wish to post there anymore, but I review the archives from time to time and read certain posts, and was interested and happy to see several from you recently. I always look for and read your posts, most of the time with delighted admiration for your very fine brain. Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein did have some beguiling things to say.

RICHARD: Thank you for your E-Mail ... it was a pleasant surprise to hear from you again. The last time we corresponded we briefly discussed concepts and percepts ... and the whys and wherefores of direct perception. And now: Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s ruminations are getting an airing, eh?

Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s legacy, when mixed in with Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti’s ‘the word is not the thing’, has authorised wannabe spiritual philosophers to get away with nonsense in the name of sagacity ... especially when they back it up with Mr. Lao Tzu’s ‘The Tao that can be spoken is not The Tao’. Add a pinch of Mr. Socrates: ‘I do not think that I know what I do not know’ and erudite antilogy reigns supreme!

*

RESPONDENT: I suspect you and he have much in common actually. Have you read ‘The Duty of Genius’ by Ray Monk? You might find it interesting, if you haven’t.

RICHARD: I have not read Mr. Ray Monk’s ‘The Duty of Genius’ ... but a search of the Internet this morning provided me with some information about what he had to say. An example:

[quote]: (pp. 26f) ‘The works by scientists which Wittgenstein read as a teenager – Heinrich Hertz’s ‘Principles of Mechanics’ and Ludwig Boltzmann’s ‘Populaere Schriften’ – suggest an interest (...) in the philosophy of science. Both espouse a fundamentally Kantian view of the nature and method of philosophy. In ‘Principles of Mechanics’ Hertz addresses the problem of how to understand the mysterious concept of ‘force’ as a basic concept: ‘When these painful contradictions are removed’, he writes, ‘the question as to the nature of force will not have been answered; but our minds, no longer vexed, will cease to ask illegitimate questions’. This passage of Hertz was known by Wittgenstein virtually word for word, and was frequently invoked by him to describe his own conception of philosophical problems and the correct way to solve them. As we have seen, philosophical thinking began for him with painful contradictions (and not with the Russellian desire for certain knowledge); its aim was always to resolve those contradictions and to replace confusion with clarity. He may well have been led to Hertz by reading Boltzmann’s ‘Populaere Schriften’, a collection of Boltzmann’s more popular lectures, published in 1905. The lectures present a similarly Kantian view of science, in which our models of reality are taken to our experience of the world, and not (as the empiricist tradition would have it) derived from it. So ingrained in Wittgenstein’s philosophical thinking was this view that he found the empiricist view difficult even to conceive . [endquote]. Ray Monk, ‘Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Duty of Genius’ (New York: Free Press, 1990).

Thus he seems to be a presenting a fairly representative view on Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s aspirations: ‘when painful contradictions are removed, the question as to the nature of [whatever] will not have been answered; but our minds, no longer vexed, will cease to ask illegitimate questions’ . Perhaps you may be inclined to briefly sketch what you found relevant and/or outstanding in his book? Also, I would be interested in you expanding on your comment ‘I suspect you and Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein have much in common’ .

Because, despite his profusion of confusing (called enigmatic by some peoples) utterances, the position where Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein was coming from is reasonably easy to understand ... Mr. Norman Malcolm puts it rather well:

[quote]: ‘In Wittgenstein’s view a philosophical problem is not something for which a solution must be sought: no theorem is to be proved nor any hypothesis tested. Instead, the problem is a confusion, an entanglement of one’s own thoughts. ‘Why is philosophy so complicated?’ he wrote. ‘It ought to be entirely simple (...) Philosophy unties the knots in our thinking that we have, in a senseless way, put there. To do this it must make movements that are just as complicated as these knots. (...) The complexity of philosophy is not a complexity of its subject matter, but of our knotted understanding’. In all of his conceptual studies, Wittgenstein was searching for das erlösende Wort, the word that unties one’s knotted understanding. [endquote]. Norman Malcolm, Professor of Philosophy, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, Author of ‘Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir’.

Perhaps you have come across something in Mr. Ray Monk’s ‘The Duty of Genius’ that may throw new light on the matter of his objectives?

Having already spoken of Mr. Socrates, I cannot resist including another quote of his which perhaps effectively sums up all human wisdom to date – both Western and Eastern – which wisdom clearly shuts the door on direct perception ... on ever knowing actuality: ‘if we are to have pure knowledge of anything, we must get rid of the body and contemplate things by themselves with the soul by itself (...) wisdom will be attainable only when we are dead and not in our lifetime’. Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein sat squarely in the philosophical tradition that comes down from Mr. Socrates’ star pupil Mr. Plato ... down through Mr. Rene Descartes and Mr. Immanuel Kant and so on. For all of his examination of linguistics, this underlying assumption that is so prevalent in philosophical musings seems to have remained unexamined.

30May99

RESPONDENT: I’m wondering if you received my letter from 5/25/99, in response to yours? I sent it with a rather large attachment (a photograph), and now I’m recalling that your server has a size limitation. Just at work now, middle of the night, a steady stream of human suffering. What was that cause, you say?

RICHARD: Yes, I received your E-Mail safely ... and with the photograph intact (I have no size limitation, by the way) and thank you. May I ask what year the picture was taken?

The cause of human suffering? As a medical doctor would know about physical ailments and illness, I would guess you are referring the psychological (mental and emotional) suffering ... are not the counsellors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists the experts on that matter? Or perhaps you could be meaning the psychic and/or spiritual suffering ... the shamans and sorcerers and/or the Gurus and God-Men are the masters in that field.

No? Then you must be meaning the sufferre existentialis ontologia (the existential angst of being a contingent being) ... born of the survival instincts of fear and aggression and nurture and desire? In a word: ‘me’.

Golly gosh ... is that not the same cause of all of the above!

RESPONDENT: A comment of yours in a post to Listening-L – oh, I suppose about six months ago or so – generated some curiosity about Wittgenstein for me, and I subsequently investigated the Professor, first by reading Philosophical Investigations. I then became interested in the man himself and looked for a biography, hence discovered Ray Monk’s work. It seems to me that to know the gritty truth of someone’s ‘story’ sheds a helpful light on what they have to say. Knowing something of roots and thorns does give perspective to the flower. In any case, my reading of Wittgenstein is entirely your fault, and I hold you personally responsible for any confusion this reading generated.

RICHARD: Maybe the comment would have been something like ‘may I suggest that you are doing a Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein here ...’. Anyway, if you are now confused you are in fine company ... accomplished confusion reigns supreme in academia-land and he merely added fuel to their fire.

*

RESPONDENT: I unsubscribed from the Mailing List a while ago, and seldom wish to post there anymore, but I review the archives from time to time and read certain posts, and was interested and happy to see several from you recently. I always look for and read your posts, most of the time with delighted admiration for your very fine brain. Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein did have some beguiling things to say.

RICHARD: Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s legacy, when mixed in with Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti’s ‘the word is not the thing’, has authorised wannabe spiritual philosophers to get away with nonsense in the name of sagacity ... especially when they back it up with Mr. Lao Tzu’s ‘The Tao that can be spoken is not The Tao’. Add a pinch of Mr. Socrates: ‘I do not think that I know what I do not know’ and erudite antilogy reigns supreme!

RESPONDENT: I’m smiling at your ruthlessness! It’s funny, and true.

RICHARD: Oh dear ... ‘ruthlessness’ you say? I can fully acknowledge being ‘relentless’ and inexorable ... but next I will be said to be being ‘pitiless’ or ‘merciless’ or worse. Perhaps it is all in the eye of the beholder (or should I say in the ‘heart’ of the recipient)?

RESPONDENT: I suspect you and he have much in common actually. Have you read The Duty of Genius by Ray Monk? You might find it interesting, if you haven t.

RICHARD: I have not read Mr. Ray Monk s ‘The Duty of Genius ... but a search of the Internet this morning provided me with some information about what he had to say. An example: [quote]: (pp. 26f) <SNIPPED> – Ray Monk, ‘Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Duty of Genius’ (New York: Free Press, 1990). He seems to be a presenting a fairly representative view on Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein s aspirations: ‘when painful contradictions are removed, the question as to the nature of [whatever] will not have been answered; but our minds, no longer vexed, will cease to ask illegitimate questions’. Perhaps you may be inclined to briefly sketch what you found relevant and/or outstanding in his book?

RESPONDENT: Yes, this passage is well chosen; I recall it. What I found interesting was reading about his life, to get a glimpse of ‘how he ticked’ as a human being. The book does give a vivid impression. This passage also is well chosen, Richard. You’ve got a knack for this, don’t you? It seemed to me his view was that we often needlessly make up problems between images that aren’t problems in reality, but he did not advocate looking away from real problems, which he apparently believed he could identify by knowing intuitively and clearly that such and such a situation or behaviour is wrong. I’m certain that he would agree with you, for example, that war, murder, suicide, rape, grief, loneliness, and all of that, are real problems, not just made up conflicts between concepts.

RICHARD: It is strange how more than a few people get entranced – or hung-up – on words and sentences (linguistics) ... some fascination with the mode of description and the describer, I guess, instead of looking at what the word describes. A coffee cup, for example, is precisely what the words say: a coffee cup. I cannot look at the object that the word describes without seeing that it is what it is. I was chatting with a chap the other day of the school that maintains that ‘the word was not the thing’ who looked surprised when I said that I cannot separate the two. After some rather fruitless discussion I settled the matter simply: I asked how his cup of tea was going ... would he like a re-fill? He said he would and as I was pouring it out I asked him if he would like a wheelbarrow to go with it ... and a ‘digestive wheelbarrow’ at that (I was referring to the plate of biscuits I was holding in my other hand, of course). He was caught off-balance because we were doing the ‘social niceties’ (or so he thought) and he had ceased investigating life, the universe and what it is to be a human being. He looked long and hard at the ‘wheelbarrow’ I was offering and saw something fundamental to perception.

The conversation proceeded famously from then on

*

RICHARD: Also, I would be interested in you expanding on your comment ‘I suspect you and Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein have much in common’ .

RESPONDENT: Sure. First I’d like to delete the sloppy words ‘I suspect’, from the above, if you will be so kind as to allow that retraction. Suspicion isn’t involved. I know something of your life and what you have to say because I’ve read what you’ve written for publication. Here’s what I know you have in common with Professor Wittgenstein (and I consider it possible or even likely that there may be other areas of commonality):

1. You both have a technical bent.

RICHARD: Okay ... I would prefer to say ‘practical’ but ‘technical’ will do for now. I do appreciate technology, however.

RESPONDENT: 2. You both served in an armed force capacity that decisively changed the way you view the world, and set in motion a lifetime journey of, well, let me just call it devoted philosophical exploration for now. Is that phrase fair? A big chunk of commonality.

RICHARD: Yes ... though I would rather ‘existential exploration’, as the other smacks of academia, to my mind.

RESPONDENT: 3. You both left your families during this journey. For Wittgenstein this was a permanent source of conflict. To the best of my recollection, you do not discuss this aspect of your life in your writing, and refer only to the fact of it. But surely, it must have hurt.

RICHARD: No, it did not ... for me, everybody is special. It puzzled me, yes ... but no way was it hurting. (I am fascinated how people object so strenuously to being happy and harmless).

RESPONDENT: 4. You both developed a rather fierce insistence, almost obsessive, on the precise use of words, not shared by most people. Perhaps this is the philosopher’s disease? He was frankly intolerant and contemptuous of any evident stupid use of words; could be downright rude at times, often cruel. You, on the other hand, can be ruthless and perhaps intimidating to many in your treatment of apparent illogic, but I wouldn’t describe that as rude.

RICHARD: I am only ‘insistent’, as you rather adroitly put it, about the meaning of words because people so dearly love to cover up their ineptitude by using words in a slippery manner. No one, it seems, likes to be pinned down to a clear-cut definition. I also get this a lot in my face-to-face discussions with people here ... they like to ‘keep things open’ or ‘be flexible’ or ‘don’t be so fixed’ or ‘things aren’t black and white’ and so on. I happen to like the English language ... it has upwards of 650,000 words in it and one can clearly communicate with another if a little rigour is applied. However, people like to hide behind words; they like to utter pithy aphorisms like: ‘The Truth is Ineffable’. It is up to me to make sure that the other understands what I am saying – whether they agree with me or not – because if I assume that they have the same meaning to a word as I do is just plain silly. A dictionary is a handy reference point to establish a meaning ... if we want to give a particular twist or meaning to a word we can ... but we need to know what base we start from. Otherwise anything means whatever we want it too ... and confusion reigns supreme.

Which is the current situation.

RESPONDENT: 5. You are both what I would loosely term, without any critical intention whatsoever, perfectionists. You state that you find delight in perfection.

RICHARD: Yes ... no way would I settle for second-best when the best is already available for the choosing. To be the existential experiencing of the infinitude of this stupendous material universe each-moment-again is beyond compare.

RESPONDENT: 6. It has been noted of you both, correctly it would appear, that few – if any – others really understood what you are trying to say.

RICHARD: Currently four people understand what I am living and saying to any depth ... actualists are rather thin on the ground.

RESPONDENT: 7. You both directed your energy to the same goal, and in a similar manner: in broad stroke, the resolution of internal conflict by effort of the brain. You differ in the details of this, but I see a similarity in the larger view. Of course, by contrast, W did not consider himself successful in this effort, but you do.

RICHARD: Thought would have to be the most useful tool to emerge on this planet ... only the human animal has a chance for peace-on-earth. Guess what cops the blame? Are humans contrary (a polite word for ‘perverse’)?

RESPONDENT: That is probably enough for now, I think. Don’t you agree, you have some things in common with the man?

RICHARD: Hmm ... somewhat. I am biased, I guess, because he failed to enable peace-on-earth.

*

RICHARD: Because, despite his profusion of confusing (called enigmatic by some peoples) utterances, the position where Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein was coming from is reasonably easy to understand ... Mr. Norman Malcolm puts it rather well: <SNIPPED> Norman Malcolm, Professor of Philosophy, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, Author of ‘Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir’. Perhaps you have come across something in Mr. Ray Monk s ‘The Duty of Genius that may throw new light on the matter of his objectives?

RESPONDENT: The three passages you’ve selected are fair representations of his general objectives, conceptually. But he was motivated strongly at times by the desire to eliminate a sense of conflict in life and what he called his ‘anxiety’. He wanted to live in a complete way that was truly good and not a conceptual imitation of goodness, and he sensed that such a life was possible somehow. But he did not achieve it, by his own measure. Then there is the matter of his sexuality.

RICHARD: I have not read anything of his personal life ... I know naught of what you refer to here about his sexuality, for example, or his ‘anxiety’. I have not read him extensively ... as with a lot of my reading, my comprehension of him has been what I call coyly call an ‘encyclopaedic’ knowledge (no one could live long enough to be able to read everything germane to the human condition thoroughly). His ‘private language’ musings demonstrated his inability to be non-abstract, in my eyes.

A troubled man, I considered.

*

RICHARD: Having already spoken of Mr. Socrates, I cannot resist including another quote of his which perhaps effectively sums up all human wisdom to date both Western and Eastern which wisdom clearly shuts the door on direct perception ... on ever knowing actuality: ‘if we are to have pure knowledge of anything, we must get rid of the body and contemplate things by themselves with the soul by itself (...) wisdom will be attainable only when we are dead and not in our lifetime’. Mr. Ludwig Wittgenstein sat squarely in the philosophical tradition that comes down from Mr. Socrates star pupil Mr. Plato ... down through Mr. Rene Descartes and Mr. Immanuel Kant and so on. For all of his examination of linguistics, this underlying assumption that is so prevalent in philosophical musings seems to have remained unexamined.

RESPONDENT: Ruthless, Richard, Down Boy!! Let go of that man’s leg!! Wittgenstein does ‘indirectly’ refer to direct perception, I think, in my favourite of all his statements: ‘The word this is the only true name’. He does seem to have believed that it shouldn’t be talked about. You are right, he left it largely unexamined, but I think in Wittgenstein’s case the door wasn’t slammed shut, but opened just a crack.

RICHARD: Yes, I do recall you posting ‘the word ‘this’ is the only true name’ to the Mailing List last year ... my favourite word would possibly be ‘here’.

As in: ‘I am here ... now’.

RESPONDENT: A pleasure conversing with you, if you like, I’ll send you a copy of the book. I would find pleasure in that, if you were interested to read it. Just let me know where to send it. Also, there was an attachment to the letter you sent me, ‘winmail.dat’. I couldn’t decode it. Did you mean to send an attachment? I’ll send you one, just for fun.

RICHARD: I would be delighted ... and thank you (address below). I could obviously do with a thorough background knowledge of the man (I fully concur with your observation ‘to get a glimpse of ‘how he ticked’ as a human being’). Incidentally, the ‘winmail.dat’ is some hieroglyphic that Microsoft places there (unless I am inadvertently misusing some device). Also, I noticed that ampersands came back in the paragraphs of mine you re-quoted. I never use an ampersand – it is some computer glitch between this machine and yours – and it is supposed to be three little dots.

I am upgrading to ‘Office 2000’ when it is released in a few weeks ... maybe there will be some improvements.

13Jun99

RICHARD: Just a short note to let you know that your book arrived safely three days ago ... thank you. I have started to read it and I already know that I will enjoy going thoroughly through it to the end. Thus I propose to respond to your last E-Mail when I have finished reading. This way I will not be responding with but scant knowledge of his personal life.

However, the transition from the first page of chapter one to the very last page of the book is indicative. Vis.: ‘[Wittgenstein sought] not a change of opinion but a change of character (...) such transformations were undertaken at moments of crisis and pursued with a conviction that was the source of the crisis itself. It was as though his life was an on-going battle with his own nature. Insofar as he achieved anything, it was usually with a sense of being in spite of his nature. The ultimate achievement, in this sense, would be the complete over-coming of himself – a transformation that would make philosophy unnecessary’. [endquote].

(This is what I meant in my E-Mail to yourself: [Respondent]: ‘You both served in an armed force capacity that decisively changed the way you view the world, and set in motion a lifetime journey of, well, let me just call it devoted philosophical exploration for now. Is that phrase fair? A big chunk of commonality’ . [Richard]: Yes ... though I would rather ‘existential exploration’, as the other [philosophy] smacks of academia, to my mind’.)

And the very last page: ‘If Wittgenstein did not think of a future life, he did think of how he might be judged. Shortly before his death he wrote: ‘God may say to me: I am judging you out of your own mouth. Your own actions have made you shudder with disgust when you have seen other people do them’. The reconciliation with God that Wittgenstein sought was not that of being accepted back into the arms of the Catholic Church; it was a state of ethical seriousness and integrity that would survive the scrutiny of even that most stern of judges, his own conscience: ‘the God who in my bosom dwells’.’ [endquote].

Well, well, well. The ‘complete over-coming of himself – a transformation that would make philosophy unnecessary’ amounts to freeing himself from the embrace of the Catholic Church and facing his god directly at death to be judged on ... on ... ethics!

Your priority-paid parcel took nine days to get here ... I look forward to the day when all the copyright stuff gets sorted out and books can be sent electronically.


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The Third Alternative

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Here is an actual freedom from the Human Condition, surpassing Spiritual Enlightenment and any other Altered State Of Consciousness, and challenging all philosophy, psychiatry, metaphysics (including quantum physics with its mystic cosmogony), anthropology, sociology ... and any religion along with its paranormal theology. Discarding all of the beliefs that have held humankind in thralldom for aeons, the way has now been discovered that cuts through the ‘Tried and True’ and enables anyone to be, for the first time, a fully free and autonomous individual living in utter peace and tranquillity, beholden to no-one.

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