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Great Wave, Hokusai: theculturetrip.com

August 24, 2020

The Appearance of Our World

Immanual Kant was a truly great philosopher in my opinion. The reason why is that he connected perception, the process of acquiring knowledge of our world, with how we had already formed models of our world from previously acquired sensory input. Furthermore, he believed that our thought processes arranged our ideas of conceptual objects formed from sensory input into a coherent model of the world. Immanual knew how subjective the perceiver's process of acquiring knowledge is. By subjective, I mean that the appearance of the world to the perceiver depends the "pre-conceptions" the perceiver has of the world.

Immanual Kant distinguishes himself from other philosophers in his synthetic verses analytic approach to logic and order. Immanual's approach to the acquisition of knowledge is integrative. I have an intuitive sense, because I'll probably never fully understand Immanual's work, is that his synthetic "a-posteri" kind of knowledge is that which is derived from inductive processes. His synthetic kind of knowledge is formed from piecing together objects in a system; he's thinking in a wholistic manner.

Long ago, I spent a lot of time developing ontologies for software systems. I sat for hours thinking about what is fundamental about entities and relationships. After all of that, I realized that the definition of an entity or atom has value only in its connection or relationship to other entities or atoms in the system. That is, there is no such thing as an "innate" or a-prior definition of an object. An object has meaning or abstract value only in its relationship, temporal or spatial, to the other objects in a system or set.

The system of thought that epitomizes the order of the universe, in my opinion, is the one of non-duality. It's the system of thinking which existed before the rise of the Indian city of Varanasi 5000 years ago. It's one of the most ancient systems of thought in existence. It existed before written language from which the Adviata Vedanta arose. So for me, "order" originates in unity. I think most people have a sense that order emerges as fundamental kind of integral property in our world.

This order we experience in our world, often spoken of as the tao or dharma, can be described in modern terms as entropy or algorithmic information. Modern teachers of order that I have embraced are David Bohm [1], and Satosi Watanabe [2].


[1] Wholeness and the Implicate Order, David Bohm, 1980, published by Routledge. On page 146, there's a section called "What is Order?". This section ends with, "Predictabily is a property of a special kind or order such that a few steps determine the whole order - but there can be complex and subtle orders which are not in essence related to predictability." I think this "essence" is David's primodial kind of value or state which is the "ground of all existence". It's his implicate order.

[2] Two of Satosi Watanabe's important articles on order are (1) Logic of the Empirical World and (2) Theory of Propensity in Language, Logic and Method, page 283-308, 1983.

Article (1) is a informal and article (2) is rigorously mathematical. Satosi's view of order is similar to David Bohm's one, but it's a little closer to an algorithmic information theoretic one. I like Satosi's view because of my experience in developing computer programs. Satosi emphasis on using predicate operators in language is appealing to me.

Just a little note: I've addressed the people above using their first names, versus addressing them as Professors. I think addressing them using just last names is disrespectful, and if I'm on a first term name basis with them, then I'm somehow closer to them. Even though if I've never met some of these people personally, I feel like they're close to me.

When I was a student I used to go to the physics coffee lounge in the in the evening. One evening I was there alone making coffee, and Paul Dirac walked in to make coffee or tea next to me. I was in awe and I could not say a word. The experience was a peaceful silence. I was in the presence of the great guru ... a special human being. Everyone shares common ground.