24 March 2022

Temporally trifocal mental presencing

 "2.5 Temporally trifocal mental presencing

The mind’s focusing on a present situation or on an absent situation (in the past or future), that happens in the present as a calling or occurring to mind (Vergegenw√§rtigung in German), has so far been conceived one-sidedly, or even one-dimensionally, insofar as the mind’s focusing in the present on essencing essents from any one of the three temporal dimensions amounts to a unifocal and thus single-minded presencing. Three-dimensional time, however, is passed through to the psyche in a fourth dimension as a unity (or identity) in which the three temporal dimensions both play into or proffer themselves to one another whilst being kept apart (in difference). This temporal multidimensionality implies that the mind not only can skip and hip-hop back and forth discontinuously and consecutively among the three temporal dimensions, but also that the mind maintains an encompassing overview in which the three dimensions relate by virtue of a temporally trifocal mental vision. The word ‘vision’ here is misleading, for mental vision does not imply literally a mental image. To substitute ‘perception’ for ‘vision’ also suffers from being tied to the senses. ‘Mental presencing’ would be preferable for its neutrality that does not imply any sort of imaging. The concept of mental focus introduced already in the first chapter is thus aufgehoben (lifted) to a phenomenally more adequate, more concrete concept. 

As already discussed in the context of bodily presencing-to-hand, the mind is both with the body’s present practical activity whilst ‘simultaneously’ recalling to presence its learned and practised know-how that is incorporated seamlessly and inconspicuously into the current bodily practice. This implies already that the mind has temporally bifocal ‘vision’ in order to presence ‘simultaneously’ from two different temporal dimensions. The third temporal dimension, the future, also comes into play because the mind is intent on an accomplished performance of the practice, on performing it well, and that accomplishment is yet to come.  

In general, the mind can hop among all three plaited, interwoven temporal dimensions whilst maintaining a coherent overview in what I call temporally triple or trifocal mental vision, or better, temporally trifocal mental presencing, to which all three temporal dimensions contribute ‘all at once’. Such mental presencing is employed not only in bodily practices but in dealing with all kinds of situations and matters that inevitably require a temporally three-dimensional overview in which temporally disparate situations and occurrences are coherently brought together and make sense. It may even be said that all mental presencing is bodily, even when the body is not performing a practical action. Sitting in a reverie or quiet reflection, for instance, involves the body, no matter how passive it may apparently be in such involvement."

Excerpt from a work in progress.

07 March 2022

Aristotle's De Anima and its alternative

Aristotle's De Anima! It's one of the West's foundational philosophical writings, investigating as it does that mode of being we call 'life'. Hence it is an ontological investigation. The pivotal concept is the _psychae_ (Latin: anima) which is the name for this mode of being itself: the principle of self-movement. Therefore the psyche is not a being, not an entity at all, and certainly not a material entity. De Anima therefore translates as 'On the Principle of Living Beings'. Life is that mode of being characterized by self-movement, that is, each living being, whether it be microbe, a plant or an animal, is 'enlivened' by its being able to move itself. 'Being able' designates a _dynamis_, a power within the living being itself: a _dynamis_ is itself an _archae kineseos_  or _archae metabolaes_ , i.e. a principle or starting-point for movement or change). A living being of any kind has a "principle of movement within itself", an _archae kineseos en autoi_

Living being are only alive by virtue of partaking of the psyche, that is, in the principle of self-movement which covers reproduction, growth (through nourishment), decay (aging), maturing, locomotion (for animals). When a living being ceases to partake of this principle, it perishes, whereas mortals die, facing their death one way or the other (including refusing to face it).

The alternative? First and foremost, we human beings are all exposed to — i.e. ex-sist, stand out in — the openness of 3D-time, which is what I (following and interpreting Heidegger) propose as the
alternative starting-point for thinking about what characterizes human being per se. As long as we mortals stand out in the three-dimensionality of time, we exist; we die when we can no no.longer do this, that is, when we depart the 3D-temporal openness. 

This is an entirely different starting-point (_archae_) from Aristotle's in De Anima in which the human being is cast first of all as an animal that is then endowed in addition with _logos_ and _nous_, language and intellect. This legacy of starting from the animal as basis has led to the incorrigible materialism of today's scientific way of thinking and, in particular, most disastrously, in neuroscience, it has led to conceiving the mind itself (_nous_) as being somehow or other causally 'generated' by the material brain. But the principle of life itself, and the (temporal) principle of mind itself (also a kind of self-movement) cannot be caused by anything material. In particular, three-dimensional time is nothing material, and yet our mortal psyche and mind belong to it. 

That doesn't stop modern bio-science from studying living beings with the ultimate aim of making life in the laboratory. Ontological impossibility cannot stop modern science because it doesn't think ontologically at all and therefore, on a deep level, despite all its complexity and sophistication, does not know what it is doing. It does not think simply enough about the simplest phenomena. Rather, it takes them for granted without further thought.

It seems to me that Western thinking failed to grasp the phenomenon of time from the beginning (that is, from Aristotle on); it missed the temporal phenomenon itself, reducing it to a mere derivative of movement/change and therefore as itself moving. Time accordingly 'passes' only as long as there is movement. If there's no movement, 'we' speak of 'timelessness', which means basically 'standstill'. Clock-time is the most vulgar kind of time, being as it is a number counted off movement, especially off the movement of the stars, sun and moon as observed from the Earth. Hence years, months, days, hours. 

3D-time, by contrast. does not move; it is prior to movement altogether, enabling it: any movement/change can only occur in three-dimensional time by referring to present, past and future, to earlier and later, before and after. Otherwise, without 'standing out' into the 3D-temporal openness, we humans would know nothing at all of movement, we would not perceive it as such! We would also be totally ignorant of its negation: non-movement, non-change. The three-dimensional temporal openness is our primal gift.


Further reading
: A Question of Time

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