Saturday, 7 May 2016
Ingwaz - the metaphysics of '-ing', of polarity
Barfield focuses on the term polarity, derived from Coleridge - but I have found that this term - with its inner picture of a solid, rectangular bar magnet - is making it harder for me to grasp and use. The essence of the concept is not its having poles but that it is a dynamic process, an active thing: an -ing, as in think-ing, reason-ing, understand-ing, and imagin-ing.For me this philosophy only makes sense if I regard reality as happen-ing.
So I have decided to replace polarity with '-ing' which is the name and sound of a rune - more often called Ingwaz (and of a Norse god, also called Freyr - not the same as Freya). So the rune Ingwaz can serve me as a symbol of 'polarity', in my notetaking.
Like most good metaphysics, Ingwaz comes from the solid, primary, necessary intuition that we are thinking. From this comes the inference that whatever we think, do, know or whatever - thinking is involved. There is no way of getting-at any objective reality that does not involve thinking - it is nonsense (makes no sense) to be thinking there is an objective realm of 'facts' that are autonomous from thinking.
However, this is NOT the 'idealism' of stating that there is only mind, and 'reality' is an illusion; what is being stated is that thinking is involved in everything - therefore, everything includes thinking. The thinking cannot be detached from anything, thinking is always involved in everything.
So the division of inner mind and outer reality/ nature is nonsense; we are always and inevitably involved in everything we ever consider by thinking.
However, this thinking can be (usually is) something of which we are unaware. We therefore tend (unthinkingly) to regard the 'outside' world as if it was independent of our thinking. We tend to suppose that the outside world is real and solid, while our thinking (which is reality is involved in everything we know or imagine about that outside world) is merely ephemeral and pointless.
This is because if we divide thinking from the outside world, thinking dies - it becomes static, inert, it stops '-ing' and is a mere dead specimen ('thought'). What is really happening is that we have started thinking about a situation where there is no thinking, and are unaware that in thinking this we have not actually imagined a situation where there is no thinking - we are merely unaware of the thinking that is engaged in imagining it!
This is the modern condition. Modern analysis is unaware of - and denies - the pervasiveness of thinking at all times and in all situations. This state of unthinking doubt about thinking can be called cynicism.
So, the first move is to become aware of our own thinking in any and every situation - to recognize that everything involves thinking - we are therefore always engaged with everything, involved with everything: there is no objective alienation.
But is thinking valid? That is the fear that haunts cynical, nihilistic modern man. The fear is that - even though it makes no sense and cannot be done to use thinking to doubt the validity of thinking; maybe thinking is not valid anyway - maybe we just live in an un-avoidable delusion? The idea accepts that it makes no sense to be thinking about thinking being 'unreliable' - but maybe that is true anyway!
This cynicism, I believe, is the modern condition; it is a fear rather than a philosophy, it is a cynical suspicion that there is really no purpose, meaning or reality - and this state was facilitated by Natural Selection which seems to have 'discovered' that that is how nature works. This is untrue, and makes no sense; but the effect is rather to implant a fear, a suspicion that it might all be a delusion than to make any kind of logical point.
That has been the point at which Western thought has been stuck for more than 200 years - the fear that everything we think we know about everything comes from thinking, and that thinking - the very basis of knowing itself - might be a circular system of unavoidable but nonetheless false assumptions.
This places Man into an existential state where he does not know where to start in escaping. Once he has come to doubt thinking, then he cannot get out. All he can do is try to manipulate his emotions so as to feel better, here and now.
In fact this sense of existential nakedness is the perfect basis and understanding and clarity for feeling the necessity and reality of religious faith - which is trust - and only a loving God can be trusted... So the modern condition points to Christianity in a clearer way than anything ever has done.
(Kierkegaard probably said this too - but I can't read enough of him to be sure, and if he did say it, then he has usually been misunderstood or at least ignored.)
But the actual modern condition is an incomplete state of doubt - therefore it does not compel Christianity. The modern condition is a combination of doubt and arbitrary faith - which is so perfectly engineered to create despair, so perfectly being constantly adjusted to maintain this sense of hope-less-ness, that it implies the modern situation is a product of purposive evil (i.e. of demonic influence).
Because modern Man is not cynical enough. Or, rather, the cynic is flawed by its lack of questioning - his questioninsg of superficialities and his unthinking acceptance of deep assumptions. The modern cynic (i.e. pretty much everybody) uses thinking to deny the necessary validity of thinking on some topics (sex, esepcially), but leaves intact enough unthinking to prevent him seeing the situation as it really is.
He is obsessed by some illusions of thinking - but not others, and cynical about all positive faith - but unthinking and credulous about so much else.
Modern Man will go so far as to deny even the reality of thinking-about-thinking (i.e. metaphysics) - he will state that there is no such thing as metaphysics - simply because he does not DO metaphysics (or stops himself if he happens to start thinking about his own thinking). He arbitrarily decides that thinking about thinking is meaningless nonsense - and is therefore trapped by his own despair-inducing assumptions - which would dissolve if ever recognized as involving thinking.
It is the residual unthinking 'faith' in thinking about some subjects (for example, faith in the idea that cynicism implies that hedonism is rational) which is destroying modern Man.
From here we can go back into unthinking acceptance of thinking - or forward into thinking about thinking: becoming aware that Everything necessarily involves thinking.
Thinking is process: Everything therefore includes process, and the world can only validly be analyzed into processes - analyzed into -ings and not into things.
This is, in fact, the metaphysical solution to the modern condition: the solution to alienation, purposelessness, meaninglessness, relativism and so on. Once grasped, the problem for each of us as individuals is then to make it our normal, indeed habitual, way of thinking.