Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Classification Systems, Mythological Entities, Post-Hegelian Ideas - and 'The Multi-Dialectic Force of God'

Sometimes it can be rather amusing to look at the supposed 'differences' between philosophy and psychology. Philosophy - at least 'Deconstructive, Post-Modern' Philosophy' - often seeks to 'deconstruct' what psychology has 'constructed'. I am thinking mainly of the type of Deconstructive Philosophy that David Hume 'created for himself' and other radical philosophical skeptics to follow in his footsteps - where, for example, he denied the 'existence' of what is usually taken for granted in the realm of psychology - 'The Self'. What's with this?

Well, Hume's 'deconstructive logic' - as much as you (I) may feel like strangling him at times - does carry some epistemological weight although if you follow it where Hume took it, then you will be left with very little 'epistemological knowledge' left to carry in your mind. Indeed, in Humean philosophy, not even the 'mind' would likely exist. In effect, all generalizations are to be distrusted and disbanded because 'if you can't see them, then they don't exist'. Essentially, Humean Philosophy - as well as being the logical extension and application of 'empiricism taken to the limit and beyond...('radical empiricism) - was basically also the philosophical bridge between Heraclites' brand of pre-Socratic ancient Greek Philosophy ('You can't step into the same river twice') and the radical empirical philosophy-psychology of 'Behaviorism' that was to follow Hume into the 20th century as developed mainly by B.F. Skinner.

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From the internet...(Google: Greek Philosophy, Heraclitus...)

Heraclitus, along with Parmenides, is probably the most significant philosopher of ancient Greece until Socrates and Plato; in fact, Heraclitus's philosophy is perhaps even more fundamental in the formation of the European mind than any other thinker in European history, including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Why? Heraclitus, like Parmenides, postulated a model of nature and the universe which created the foundation for all other speculation on physics and metaphysics. The ideas that the universe is in constant change and that there is an underlying order or reason to this changethe Logosform the essential foundation of the European world view. Everytime you walk into a science, economics, or political science course, to some extent everything you do in that class originates with Heraclitus's speculations on change and the Logos.

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From Wikipedia (Google: B.F.Skinner)

Burrhus Frederic Skinner (March 20, 1904 August 18, 1990) was an influential American psychologist, author, inventor, advocate for social reform [1][2]and poet.[3] He was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until his retirement in 1974.[4] He invented the operant conditioning chamber, innovated his own philosophy of science called Radical Behaviorism,[5] and founded his own school of experimental research psychology the experimental analysis of behavior. His analysis of human behavior culminated in his work Verbal Behavior, which has recently seen enormous increase in interest experimentally and in applied settings.[6] He discovered and advanced the rate of response as a dependent variable in psychological research. He invented the cumulative recorder to measure rate of responding as part of his highly influential work on schedules of reinforcement.[7] [8] In a recent survey, Skinner was listed as the most influential psychologist of the 20th century.[9] He was a prolific author, publishing 21 books and 180 articles.[10] [11]

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Following 'Humean-Skinnerian logic' - You may be able to see your 'phyisical, empirical self' if you look at a mirror but if you look at the same mirror you are not going to see your 'Psychological Self' - therefore - empirically speaking at least - it does not exist.

The same goes for such Freudian concepts as 'Ego' and 'Id' and 'Superego'. If you can't see them, then they don't exist. (Of course back in Hume's day, they couldn't see 'bacteria' and 'viruses' but that was not to say that they didn't exist. Things and living entities that you don't see can still kill you - indeed, they are probably more dangerous such as 'the car you don't see'.)

In philosophy, you learn about 'epistemology' (the study of knowledge) whereas in Freudian - or Post-Freudian - Psychology, you learn about 'Central Ego Function' -and then you would probably proceed to start studying 'epistemology' as one of the main 'ego functions or processes' within the confines of 'The Central Ego'.

In other words, in psychology, it is almost like we 'need' to 'invent internal structural systems' - kind of like 'organs in the mind' - except that there is no, physical empirical basis on which to believe that these 'ego structures' actually exist except as 'mythological entities' much like 'Gods' - with the same intended purpose: to explain things which are otherwise difficult if not downright impossible to explain.

It would be easy to argue - and I will take up this argument again on behalf of David Hume - that this is one of man's central 'mental features or characteristics': making up 'things' or 'structures' that don't exist - or worded another way - 'turning physical or psychological processes (Would Hume even accept the existence of 'psychological and/or epistemological processes? - you can't see them!) into non-existent, and totally man-made 'conceptual structures or constructions' - and calling them 'real'!

In fact, this is one of the main problems with 'classification systems' in general: they 'conceptually funnel' knowledge into particular categories that may or may not exist - 'phenomenomologically', 'biologically', 'physically', 'chemically', and so on...

'Black and white man-made categories or classification systems' don't allow for the existence of 'hybrids' - or anything that exists outside of the mind of the classifyer and the classifyer's 'classification system' until someone pipes up and says: 'I don't like this particular classification system; I'm going to make a new one up that is much better...(We can read on the internet this morning about the first man to 'have a baby'! Life doesn't believe in always following nice, neat, clean, man-made classification systems or categories...)

Thus, for anyone who has set about the task of learning a particular branch of knowledge, it is important to know that you are basically at the mercy - and the power - of the particular person or organization 'who has structured and classified in the knowledge in a particular way' so that you only get to learn about the type of knowledge that is 'inside the classification box'; not outside. This is why you often here the cry - 'Think outside the box'. That is, 'think outside the 'Classification Box' - or you might miss some important types of knowledge that otherwise will not be taught to you.

Thus, there is value in constantly changing up any 'Classificaiton Box' - or 'flexibly being able to smoothly move from one Classification Box to another - such as Psychoanalysis, Jungian Psychology, Adlerian Psychology, Behavorial Psychology, Gestalt Therapy, Transactional Analysis, and so on - just as there is value in being able to speak and understand different languages - each language making up another different type of 'Classification Box'.

This is why 'DGB Philosophy' uses a lot of 'hyphenated words' - like 'DGB Philosophy-Psychology'. 'DGB' not only narcissistically stands for my name - David Gordon Bain - it also, stands for what I philosophically do - which is 'dialectically bridge gaps (dgb)' between different phiilosophical systems, different psychological systems, bringing philosophical and psychological systems together...and every other type of system dialectically together in an effort to create a different type of 'hybrid-classification system' that has its own unique form of 'funtionality and value' like dialectically integrating a 'normal gas car with a propane or natural gas or hydrogen or electrical car' so that you improve energy efficiency, reduce your dependency on normal gas but still have normal gas if you can't find a propane or natural gas station or can't run your car on hydrogen or electricity until you take it home and 're-charge' it for a night...

In the case of cars, we can say that our classification system is 'physically or empirically grounded' because you can see the 'gas tank' or the 'propane tank' or the 'natural gas tank' or the 'electical outlet' where you might have to plug your car into another electrical outlet on the wall of your house when you get your car home at night...

However, we can't say the same things about 'The Central Mediating Ego' or 'The Righteous-Ethical Topdog' or 'The Narcissistic Topdog (or Underdog)' or 'The Nurturing-Supportive Topdog' - or 'The Soul' - or 'God'...

These last types of 'classification systems' are 'metaphysical systems' and may even deserve to be called 'Mythological Systems' - meaning not that they may or may not have functional value - but rather, that their 'physical-empirical' basis cannot be proven or verified without a doubt; and on this basis, is subject to 'legitmate epistemological dispute and controversy' - if not downright 'skepticism'. Remember: 'Metaphysics' means basically - 'above and beyond physics' as first categorized by Aristotle.

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From the internet...(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Aristotle's Metaphysics

First published Sun Oct 8, 2000; substantive revision Mon Jun 9, 2008
The first major work in the history of philosophy to bear the title "Metaphysics" was the treatise by Aristotle that we have come to know by that name. But Aristotle himself did not use that title or even describe his field of study as metaphysics'; the name was evidently coined by the first century C.E. editor who assembled the treatise we know as Aristotle's Metaphysics out of various smaller selections of Aristotle's works. The title metaphysics' literally, after the Physics' very likely indicated the place the topics discussed therein were intended to occupy in the philosophical curriculum. They were to be studied after the treatises dealing with nature (ta phusika). In this entry, we discuss the ideas that are developed in Aristotle's treatise.

1. The Subject Matter of Aristotle's Metaphysics
2. The Categories
3. The Role of Substance in the Study of Being Qua Being
4. The Fundamental Principles: Axioms
5. What is Substance?
6. Substance, Matter, and Subject
7. Substance and Essence
8. Substances as Hylomorphic Compounds
9. Substance and Definition
10. Substances and Universals
11. Substance as Cause of Being
12. Actuality and Potentiality
13. Unity Reconsidered
14. Glossary of Aristotelian Terminology

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It must be made absolutely clear that unlike Hume and Skinner, I am not saything that metaphysical and mythological systems have no value - because oftentimes I believe they do - rather, what I am saying is that there value may not be in their 'epistemological reality' but rather in their 'Projected-Self-Idealism' and their 'Projected Philosophical Idealism'. As long as we are willing to call a spade a spade - and not say that it is something else, as long as we are willing to admit and own up to the fact that our 'Metaphysical/Mythological Structure or Construction' is exactly that and not necessarily an 'epistmeological reality', that it is our own form of 'projected self-idealism' - then we cannot be accused of being 'epistemologically fraudulent', of trying to propogate some sort of Mythologcial Entity onto the world in the name of 'Epistemological Truth'.

Thus, when I use the term 'God' - I do so 'mythologically' as a 'projected form of self-idealism and philosopohical idealism; nothing more, nothing less. I do not use the term 'God' as an 'epistemological reality' - although admittedly, often it is tempting to go here. Mainly, I use the term 'God', philosophically,metaphysically, mythologically, and spiritually, as a 'projected form of self and philosophical idealism' - although, epistemolgicallly, I will jump one step further...

'Nature' is a physical reality; so too, are 'natural processes' which can be either 'physically (empirically) watched and/or 'reasonably/logically inferred' by 'scientific, and/or rationally-empirical minds'...

It does not take too much 'rational-empirical logic/reason' to jump to the theory of 'intelligent design' - that nature is 'intelligently designed'. Furthermore, it does not take too much more 'rational-empirical logic/reason' to jump to the assumption that if 'nature is intelligently designed', then that possibly/probably? means that somewhere out there, there is - or at least was at one time -an 'intelligent designer'. Dare we call this inferred 'intelligent designer' - 'God' - and if so, does the name 'God' stand on the basis of 'reasonable empirical (natural, physical) evidence - even if there are at least one or more 'metaphysical jumps in logic' that take us from 'Nature' to 'God'?

Well, here's the problem here. Actually, there is more one of them. Firstly, what if 'Nature' - from 'The Earth' to 'Life on Earth' to possibly even 'Life in the rest of the Universe' was simply created by a 'Very Superior Being' who is now dead - like all other forms of life eventually die over time - or a 'Superior Race of Beings' that are/were vastly more intelligent than man, and much further along the 'evolution route'...Are we going to believe in perhaps a different way than Nietzsche meant it, that 'God is dead!', and/or that 'God is/was a Superior Race of Beings'? Secondly, the idea of 'God' is so emotionally laden for most people who believe in 'God' that it is rather obvious that there is much more psychologicallly and philosophically at stake than believing that 'God' is/was simply a 'More Intelligent Being than Man' and/or a 'More Intelligent Race of Beings than God' and/or that if 'God' ever existed at one point in time, it is also quite possible/probable that God is now dead - having died like all of the rest of us will one day...No...this is not why 'God' - and religion - exists for most people who believe in God. Epistemologically, most people believe in God firstly, out of 'purely assumptive Faith' - this is the rather shaky assumptive foundation for their belief in 'God'. But more than this, 'God' exists for most people because they cannot see their own 'projected Idol(s), their own projected 'Self-Energy', and their own 'projected form of Self and Philosophical Idealism' hidden, even buried, beneath their religious beliefs...

To properly understand God and Religion, man has to have the courage to look at his own 'Self-Projected Energy and Philosophical Idealism as a 'compensatory measure' usually taken to alleviate 'underlying psychological-philosophical anxiety' such as 'the fear of death and/or the fear of freedom and/or the fear of being essentially alone in a warm or cold universe of his or her own personal, phenomenonological-existential making...

In essence, the belief in God as an 'epistemological reality' - for the most part (and I can hear millions of angry people wanting to get a piece of me here...) is a 'smoke and mirrors, dog and pony show' for underlying 'existential anxiety'. Still, metaphysically and mythologically, the belief in God can still serve a valuable, functional purpose (like helping us to feel less alone in the world, and helping us to help others in need of help...).

Personally, as a philosophical, metaphysical, mythological, and spiritual entity, I view 'God as 'The Master Dialectical Integrating, Unifying - and Separating -Force' behind all of Nature, Evolution, and Creation...Life for me, is primarily the accidental and/or purposeful 'collision' of similar and/or opposing forces to 'create new chemical and psychological bonds - and to destroy (deconstruct) old ones that are no longer functional...

This is starting to sound like 'Star Wars' here (let the 'Force' be with you! - and we are definitely not talking about Schopenhauer's (or 'Hobbes') philosophical type of 'narcissistic, nasty, brutish killing Life and Death Force here' - although both the world and man can encompass all of this; nor are we talking about Nietzsche's 'Will to Power' or the more humanistic (feminist?) Nietzschean rendition of the 'The Will to Self-Empowerment' although man can show both of these features as well - both in their positive and negative aspects; nor are we totally talking about the types of forces entailed in Freud's metaphysical concepts of 'Life and Death Instinct' playing off against each other although I like parts of this classification system as well but again, this is not completely what I am talking about.

Rather, the metaphysical-mythological-spiritual classification system that I use is more of a combination of: Anaxamander, Heraclitus, the Han Philosophers, Spinoza, Hegel, and Perls...with backup support from Schopenhauer - The world can be, and often is. 'brutish and nasty'!, Nietzsche (The Birth of Tragedy, Apollo and Dionysus), Freud (Ego, Superego, and Id, life and death instinct, traumacy, seduction, assault, and narcissism), Jung (the Persona, The Shadow, and the Archetypes, and Berne (Nurturing Parent, Righteous Parent, Adult, Adaptive Child, Rebellious Child, Natural Child...), and Perls (Topdog and Underdog), hotseat and empty chair work...)

What I am talking about in terms of the number one 'philosophical and spiritual force' in DGB Philosophy-Psychology supersedes everything that we have talked about in the last paragraph. I am talking about a force that unites Western and Eastern Philosophy - at its best; a force that integrates and unites many of the similar but different philosophical systems that make up the history of Western philosophy - from Thales, Anixamander, Heraclitus, and the Han Philosophers to present day philosophical processes and/or systems such as DGB Philosophy-Psychology.

I am talking about what I consider to be the 'master key stroke of God' - and here I am talking about my own projective ideal system - but also moving beyond this because I am integrating much of Western philosophical and psychological history - not to mention Chinese 'yin' and 'yang' theory. Perhaps I am moving into 'Intelligent Design' Theory - into the realm of theology, the realm of metaphysics and mythology, and who knows - maybe even into the realm of epistemology and 'epistemological truth' on a 'natural basis' at least - because the 'force' I am talking about is so prevalent, so dominating, so all-encompassing, so potentially tied into evolution and creation theory, that it is hard not to believe that there wasn't at least at some point in time an 'Incredibly Intelligent and Sophisticated Designer or Creator' - to which I give the name 'God' behind this Creation. The force that I call the 'master key stroke of God' - is 'The Force of The Dialectic'... This Force is neither good nor bad - it is 'Beyond Good and Evil' (but not in the Nietzschean sense), indeed, often it brings good and evil into the same physical and psychological space...It is 'beyond life and death' and indeed, often encompasses elements of life and death in the same physical and psychological space.

The Force of the Dialectic is largely unpredictable - at work in the 'hot seat and empty chair technique' in Gestalt Therapy; at work in a different way between the Analyst and the client on the 'Psychoanalytic couch situation', at work in any human encounter, any encounter where two or more objects, two or more processes, two or more living entitities, come together, collide together, make love together, make hate together, randomly or on purpose, chaoticallly or with intended purpose, integratively or with no resulting integration...Postives and negatives coming together, positives and positives coming together, negatives and negatives coming together - and either 'finding a chemical fit' - or not. I'm talking about the coming together and breaking apart of 'chemical molecules' on every microscopic and macroscopic level of existence...a dog and a cat coming together and...well...fighting like cats and dogs...or a cat and a dog coming together...and somebody snaps a picture of them 'cuddling together on the same couch'...

This is 'The Dialectical Force' that I am trying to describe here in DGB Philosophy-Psychology-Politics-Medicine...Others have been here before me...many, many others...but I am just trying to put it altogether in one 'muliti-dialectical-integrative package'. Hegel, was the ultimate 'dialectical mastermind' but he basically only touched on 'epistemology' - he spoke of 'The Absolute' in terms of 'Absolute Knowledge'. Others - Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Perls, Sartre, Foucault, Derrida, have extrapolated in some 'post-Hegelian' way on what Hegel wrote - improving on some of his largest weaknesses.

When I speak of 'The Dialectical Force', I speak not only of the evolution of knowledge but also of the evolution of existence and life - of being and becoming, of life and death. This to me, is the full extent of The Mystical, Metaphysical, partly Mythological Dialectical Force.

For me, The Dialectical Force is the key Creative and Working Force of God.

And that is where I will leave things today on this fine Sunday morning...

- dgb, June 8th, 2008, modified and updated, July 5th, 2008.

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