Wednesday, June 28, 2006


“But it is not sufficient to have made these observations (every thing I ever learned or believed is wrong); care must be taken likewise to keep them in remembrance. For those old and customary opinions perpetually recur — long and familiar usage giving them the right of occupying my mind, even almost against my will, and subduing my belief; nor will I lose the habit of deferring to them and confiding in them so long as I shall consider them to be what in truth they are, viz., opinions to some extent doubtful, as I have already shown, but still highly probable, and such as it is much more reasonable to believe than deny. It is for this reason I am persuaded that I shall not be doing wrong, if, taking an opposite judgment of DELIBERATE DESIGN, I become my own deceiver, by supposing, for a time, that all those opinions are entirely false and imaginary until at length, having thus balanced my old by my new prejudices, my judgment shall no longer be turned aside by perverted usage from the path may conduct to the perception of truth. For I am assured that, meanwhile, there will arise neither peril nor error from this course, and that I cannot for the present yield too much to distrust, since the end I now seek is not action but knowledge.”

Gee, René, I'm all for looking at the world from alternate perspectives, but the phrase “…deliberate design,” seems to ring of another deeper motive and failing — falling into the same old traps of attempting to use reason to logically, meticulously create, or in Descartes’ case, revamp certitude, which, in essence and perpetuity, tries to make truth definable, separate from all that it isn’t; this as separate from that. Might just as well try and define the universe by describing what it isn’t, because it’s already been defined as everything — how reasonable is that? Any attempts to be deliberate require building a structure using certainties as material within which doubt may not, much less curiosity will not reside, so long as there's the slightest crack to let in the light of all the rest out there. Experimental skepticism like Descartes' can only intend deeper confirmation in a newer conformity, less aware or admitting of new experience, as in the bored hubris of "I've seen it all"; a new rendition of the old traditional commitment to something to ward off further doubt. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss — I won’t be fooled again! Certainty is not something you can prepare out of yesterday’s experiences for tomorrow’s meal if curiosity is to be nourished. The elusive feeling that certainty is designed to decoy and bag is a feeling of righteousness in the moment — every moment despite the onslaught of contradictions. The moment is too immaterial for structure, too vast and fast for scrutiny. Only the natural metaphor beckons and evokes a universal relevance beyond capacity or desire for descriptive mortar to seal the cultural myth from within. To paraphrase Descartes, I cannot at present yield too much to distrust, since the end I now seek is not action, certain knowledge or trust but happy, willing, conscious symbiosis with the universe of which I am a version and an indivisible part. If I do not rely on sanitized packaging of dried certitudes for mental sustenance, I am free to eat the fresh food on hoof and vine according its appeal to my curiosity's omnivoracious appetite, for I have no belief structure to pollute with the fossil fuels of petrified certainty
A certainty is a conclusion is a knowledge is an understanding is an opinion is a theory is a definition is a version is a viewpoint is a possibility is a hope is a belief is a security is an isolation is a faith is a barrier is a comfort is a trust is a reliance is a perceived necessity is an addiction and … is totally debilitating to observation without prejudice. Definable reality is never more than a belief system. This is the choice certitude demands we make; does universal nature permeate and connect life more interdependently than civilization would have it be or is our planet merely material with which to patch up the cracks through which the grass will eternally grow.
Our bloated modern brain is all muscle and electromechanism straining to contain, catalogue and justify its conclusions during its pony ride through the evidential wilderness of the always unknown and alien territory called the future upon the back of its docile, faithful, always ignored steed: the primitive brain, which has always been here now and happy knowing its genetic memory is a metaphor for wherever whatever variation nature serves up in the daily do. The cultural demand for certainty occupies our modern brain so constantly we become convinced we are in control of the pony ride, like a tourist on a burro entering the Grand Canyon, against all evidence that we were strapped in for nature’s lifelong ride from before the canyoun was a puddle. Or that we control digestion, just because we can stuff things down our throat and wipe off the other end. Or that we do the breathing, just because we can blow hot air.

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