21 September 2014

Essence of truth as effectiveness, and 3D-time

(English version of the blog post dated 04-Sep-2014, by request).

Linear thinking rests on the usual conception of linear time (mathematized as continuous, real variable, t), and this is not understood in mainstream scientific thinking or elsewhere. What's that nonsense supposed to mean about 'three-dimensional time' or even a 'time-clearing'? At most, 'critical' (say, ecological) thinking manages to move from linear time to 'cyclical time' in harmony with so-called 'nature' (fashionable code-word: sustainability).

Perhaps we should pose for ourselves the question, 'What is an electron?' That would be an interesting experiment because the question is apparently a philosophical one. But if you look around, you immediately notice that science does not ever really pose this question, because it says merely that the electron is a 'charge of force' (a scientifically correct, but, on inspection, superficial answer), describing instead genealogically the experimental 'discovery' of the electron during the 19th century by mathematical physics (J.J. Thomson, in particular) in connection with the development of an electromagnetic theory by scientists such as Faraday and Maxwell. Without having studied mathematics for several years, it's not at all possible to understand this very sophisticated theory, so you can only describe it to the uninitiated from the outside in general and hopefully in an intuitively graphic way.

Even if to some extent you get the gist of how this mathematical electromagnetic theory is built, the question concerning what a 'charge of force' is still remains unasked. To understand what force is, you first have to go back to Newton with his three simple mathematical laws of force (i.e of motion). Newton's conception of force (_dynamis_) and movement (_kinaesis_ as a force at work), however, is ultimately Aristotelean. He adopted and merely mathematized the Aristotelean ontology of movement, at whose centre the concept of energy (_en-erg-eia_) stands. Greek philosophy from Parmenides to Aristtole grappled with the question, "Why is there movement at all, rather than standstill?" Modern science cleverly evades such an unheard-of question, believing simple-mindedly instead that it has empirically refuted Aristotle once and for all and made his theory 'objective', thus overcoming it. Forget Aristotle!, says modern science. As empirical facts you can see with your eyes prove, Aristotle's eyes were wonky.

In phenomenological seeing and in philosophy in general, of course, it's not a matter of sensuous seeing, but seeing with the mind, although the senses certainly can also be of help. With regard to the electron, too, it's a matter of an historical cast of the being of beings (an historical hermeneutic As that serves as the ontological scaffolding for the world), so that the electron is only given (exists) for as long as this cast of being (the electromagnetic field theory) is given, and it is given only as long as it is true -- corresponding to a likewise historical cast of the essence of truth. In the Modern Age, this essence of truth is effectiveness, so that the electron is given only in correspondence to the essence of truth AS effectiveness, i.e. effective causality coupled with linear time. You can see the effectiveness of the electron everywhere in today's world. Electromagnetism works! Indeed, without the electron (seen AS such through a certain definite mathematico-physical cast of being), this, our present-day world (with, say, its electricity, telephone, aeroplanes, electronics, television, the fast approaching cyberworld that is rolling in over our heads, etc. etc.) would not exist at all.

If things work, why should you rack your mind by putting today's essence of truth as effectiveness into question? Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride! Today's philosophical ethics merely poses the question, what should we do in view of the effectiveness of modern technologies? The debate around modern technologies invariably turns stupidly around the pros and cons, the plus and minus, i.e. around what technology effectively brings 'us' in the bottom line. Any other kind of questioning does not come into view at all. As if 'we' (who are 'we'?) had everything under control. As if 'we' were the subjects whom technology serves rather than those subjecting 'our' selves ardently to the will to effective power, striving to cast 'our' selves securely, calculatively along the time-line..

Only the "step back" (Heidegger) into the 'time-clearing' (Eldred) opens up an Other Perspective in which also the interplay of valuation among people and things, despite all the perfectly valid and practically adequate ontic pre-conceptions, can become ontologically visible at all. It's simply not enough to speak of 'processes', because there are also production processes, and the valuation interplay is not 'productive', 'leading forth', i.e. it does not lead forth any fore-seen result into presence, but is, well, playful, and therefore often surprising. An ontological conception of interplay as power play is required.

Further reading: 'Being Time Space' and The Digital Cast of Being.