Phenomenology - Epistemology - Ontology

August 23, 2010

I think that a lot of what people perceive as problems stem from a few simple notions regarding the confusion of ontology and phenomenology, especially concerning expectations, assumptions, and the believed approach to and value of epistemology.

Take note of the field called “knowledge management”, whose major problems I believe could be reconciled if they simply switch to “understandings management”. The word knowledge comes with baggage that implies externality, objectivity, absoluteness, truth, proof, “in and of itself”, absence of bias, etc… which I guess people just can’t accept that those are the complete opposite of what it is to be human, and what it is for multiple humans to exist together and interact.

Point being that “knowledge management” focuses on the nature of what is “out there” and the assumption that we can come to a “knowledge” of what it is that is “out there” in regards to it in and of itself.

It is precisely from this view point that the problems people face emerge from, precisely that we become obsessed with ideas such as “atoms have electrons”, “a tree is a plant”, “human systems are complex”. By using language such as this, we start to externalize and negate the fact that it is our relationship and inter-activities with the world and each other that allowed phenomena to emerge which demanded our prescription. So we fall into the belief that what it is that is labeled in our minds, which was derived from figure-ground contemplations and permanences, actually truly exists “out there” in any specific way, “in and of itself”, and that we have the capacity to justifiably reconcile said states of being and nature.

So ontology, in my view, needs to switch from being about what is truly “out there” and more about simply classifying and describing the nature of what is “in your mind”… And because of this epistemology becomes more about understandings in and of your mind, rather knowledge of nature of things in and of themselves.

Another language problem reflecting a thought problem is the idea that any object is actually the color it appears, rather than contemplating that it is how light both interacts with the object, our eyes, and our brain interprets that the color emerges from. So “the ball is red” is simply not logical.

Take another related idea that if I say to you “I am mad”… and then ask you a question “Am I mad?”… well we would all probably say “yes” and grade accordingly as well… but under further reflection, you could never come to that conclusion no matter what I told you, all you could say is that you perceived that I told you I was mad. So in that reflected conclusion it starts with the nature of mind (“you perceived that…”).

This is why I would start to steer people away from ideas that systems can be described as ordered, complicated, complex, or chaotic, resulting in us responding accordingly, and switch to the idea that what is actually ordered, complicated, complex, or chaotic is the nature of our minds in accordance to what we perceive and conclude about an external system… but certainly not the system itself.

So it becomes an acceptance of universal phenomenology from each person’s individual perspective, but subjective ontology from each person’s individual perspective… rather than trying to use epistemology as a means to discover and prove one “correct” ontology.

As people read this who are familiar with many philosophies might start to accuse me of solipsism or nihilism, which couldn’t be more false… because those actually negate the possibility or assertion that things actually do exist, but when it comes to defining and concluding “what” exists, then that part only lives in our minds… because true nature is nameless and formless… it is through our interactions, and our perceptive capacities that form emerges, demanding us to call it by a name.

A mental check for me would be to say that whenever I think, believe, and act as though something were really true, it is more a reflection of my own spirit and passion than it is a reflection of true nature… and “fighting for what we believe” is more about hoping others adopt the same spirit and passion confused as truth, rather than a convincing of others of truth and knowledge. A person who has “proof” or “evidence” mistakenly believes it is evidence of empirical nature, rather than being able to see it is evidence of the person’s true self.

Case in point, humans tend to spend more time manipulating symbols, rather than changing their thoughts regarding those symbols, to achieve the same thing.

“Linguistic relativity” is a very interesting concept exploring how language and thought reflect each other.

Meaning, value, purpose, knowledge, etc… are not “out there” to be discovered and proved, they are “in you” to be manifested and propagated.

When a person asks “what does this mean?” or “what is my purpose?” or similar questions… it is evidence to me of an emergent interpretant who is actually in charge of the person.

Many problems stem from not being able to see every new experience as novel phenomena, and treating it as such. It is a passionate pursuit to live each day like its your last, but it is a whole other pursuit to live each day like its your first.

Deconstruct the emergent interpretant… deconstruct the dominant social constructs… bring people to a shared state of discombobulation, and watch what emerges… I am confident that what emerges from that will be more contextually relevant to their true selves… but the trick is watching out to make sure the emergent interpretant doesnt grow too big once again.

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