Kant, the Light of Nature, and Economic Theory

This blog post is under construction, like the urban 1/3 of Florida.  Please be patient as I actually construct this page, unlike certain other locations. Ahem.

Questions remain: Given that trade, the transfer of economic value, seems built into the human condition, where “the bottom line IS the bottom line,” we ought to ask after the transcendental character of economic value (See J.S. Mill et al), not merely moral values. For every moral law within, there is a tax-man without.   The regulations we pass because of the moral law within cost money, and someone has to pay those bills.

Supply and demand relations form a transcendental for understanding human experience IN THE COLLECTIVE, but not necessarily individually.  Dr. Kant’s original investigation was one of “individual understanding” — how the individual will understand the world.  Dr. Kuhn expanded the conversation to ask how GROUPS (that share paradigms) understand the world (and thus individuals within those groups).  My point here is this: Kant’s investigation did not go far enough, since it did not explain or render intelligible the relationship of the individual to the collective (which necessarily includes the production and transfer of economic value).

But one will say: this kind of grasp (economic) does not seem necessary to knowledge PER SE (until you get the tuition bill from Yale University).  I rejoin that Kant’s categories do not render intelligible a fundamentally necessary human activity.  His transcendentals have formal (by analogy), but not MATERIAL, adequacy.   Or said a bit differently, Kant’s categories render intelligible to the human individual the deterministic aspects of the natural world, but not by themselves the socio-economic (contingent) aspects of the natural world.

And then — there’s SET THEORY!   According to the battle that transpired for over a century, between mathematicians and logicians, over the question of which theory-construction activity was the more “properly basic,” the set theory guys won the debate, proving that in order to understand Kant’s “quantities” (including math systems), one would first need to understand sets as basic as well.  Here, the run “basic” as a bridge that frames the set of relations that properly obtain, linking the disciplines of math and logic.   One must in math (to manage quantities) impose and group separately from numbers, kinds of things like “operations,” “sums,” “quotients,” “properties of equality,” and the like.  (S) he must also group numbers in sets like the set of “real numbers,” “nonpositive numbers,” “imaginary numbers,” “fractions” and “decimals.”

Sets (classes and their members) seem necessary for all different kinds of “classification schemes” – taxonomy of animals, sports stats, kinds of diseases and disorders, study of epidemics AND (get this) — elements of knowledge, like quantities, qualities, modalities and relations.  Sets seem basic to both math and logic, and these to knowledge.  Understanding human experience in the collective (groups), as Dr. Kuhn has shown, is necessary for rendering intelligible human experience — because the production of knowledge does not transpire merely as an INDIVIDUAL enterprise — Kant’s would be the “fallacy of individual, epistemic reductionism” — where human knowledge falsely reduces to individual human knowledge, apart from “group knowledge.”  Remember that Kant’s phenomenology was performed individualistically.  He seemed to take for granted that all people experienced knowledge (more or less) the way that Dr. Kant did.

My challenge here is this: Dr. Kant is not a group. Groups do not necessarily do their knowing the way that individuals do.  Long live St. Thomas (of Chicago).

Conclusion:  The language native to a basic grasp of those (now fairly advanced) disciplines that we might call extra-transcendental — economics, set studies and other fields (e.g. future studies) — will need a dynamic equivalent from the English (or else a purely innovative form) to add to our New Greek tongue for optimal profitablility and finesse, as we advance in wisdom and understanding in the future.

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Words And Categories: What We Will Be Adding to the New Greek Language

So far we have considered only what words and word-parts we will end up deleting from the traditional Hellenistic Greek in order to create the ideal Hellenistic tongue, one shaped self-consciously by the light of nature.  Now we must ask the question, “What must we add to render this tongue [progressively, step-by-step] more ideal”?

To begin our ideal vocabulary, we will engage the following exercises, and make use of their results:

  1.   Make a list of adjectives, verb forms (participles count as a “verbal” too remember), and nouns we would associate with the describing aright the ideal and the real, or describing the light of nature.  Or again, “What words would you need to use in order to describe something that is perfect (ideal)”?
  2. Make a similar list describing human design, the design of the stars, and the design of the animals.  List the words we need to describe the parts, purposes and functions of the most essential parts of nature.
  3. Make a list of the traits and actions of our Beloved Creator (“Plastaes” in Greek), and describe these in the best words one can find for the task.
  4. Find the ten best synonyms (use your thesaurus here) for each of the above words we might want to use to originate our new Greek vocabulary — add the best 5 of these.
  5. Make a list of the propositions you hold to be true about God and the light of nature (from the above explorations) and work out what these truths imply when arranged in various sets of propositions together.  Find the best words that describe the results of this logical “articulation” (meaning here, extensions of logic), and create a Greek (dynamic) equivalent for these words and the “concluding ideas” they would describe.
  6. Kantian transcendental categories and their essential elements.  And now for a brief introduction to ideas ordinarily sorted into the “epistemology” mailbox.     This may sound a bit tricky, but we can walk through it easily enough.  Dr. Kant became somewhat famous in philosophical circles for doing a kind of unique study involving self-inspection — to find out what the &*^% is going on when one actually studies and knows the world around us. He studied “the knowing process” as he himself experienced it, and broke down the categories in which one must think in order to make sense of the world about us.  The “pre-logical” categories, he dubbed “transcendental categories,” and listed them as “quantities” (2 +2 = 4), qualities (like ethics — just people v. unjust), modalities (things that are necessary, or else possible, or else impossible, or else contingent upon prior conditions, etc), and relations (like space and time — spatial relations = “ten feet away from me”).    Thus, we will want to make a full use of the thesaurus to describe with many synonyms the words needed to study these foundations of knowledge, since these form an essential part of what we mean by “the light of nature” — namely, the whole set of propositional, categorical and linguistic necessary preconditions for the intelligibility of human experience [construct knowledge].   In short, we need the Stoicheia (the most basic elements) in order to have gnosis (knowledge).

Now, IMHO Dr, Kant was breathtakingly brilliant — a Plato’s Plato.  The history of western thought after 1803 is but a footnote to Kant, and after 1962, a marginally-unscientific postscript to Kuhn.  Still, Dr. Kant did not write the final page on the theory of transcendentals.  Here, I shall propose a notion, which for lack of a better designation, I shall presently name, “Second Order Transcendentals.”   These would follow as implicates from propositions (or sets of them) — sometimes called “propositional” (as opposed to merely categorical) “transcendentals.”  These — when they really are transcendental — can be shown to have 2 traits: 1.  they prove logically, or pre-logically, necessary in order to have knowledge AND 2.  Any rejection of such a proposition (or set) necessarily implies its own denial — philosophers call these propositions, “Self-referentially absurd.”  In other words, they cannot pass their own test.  These are then, sometimes rightly said to exhibit “properly basic beliefs.”

Many truths exist which might properly derive about the Kantian categories, and the cosmic and life situation that would be necessary in order for these to obtain, which one might show forth as a set of propositions, together with their necessary implicates and presuppositions, as an interwoven matrix, we should call the Pre-Kantian Worldview.  Here, the prefix “pre” renders as “prelogical.”  This interwoven matrix that Sophic Creationists might name the “Sophikon,” both renders knowledge possible, and necessarily presupposes a personal notion of Wisdom.  This should have been obvious, but only persons can prove wise.  No one (save the poets) speak of wise trees or rocks or rivers.  Wisdom and knowledge, discretion and discernment belong to the world of persons.  Plato missed this form, the form of the Wise (which subsumes the form of the personal).

Likewise, Justice needs a Judge.  Love needs a lover and a beloved — and here the poets favor me madly anon! (Say on thou silver surfer!) — Charity needs a giver, as knowledge requireth both a teacher and a student in order to live on.

In case the reader might have lost the upshot of the matter — for my many words thus far (yikes) — I have just described the light of nature in terms of Kantian, pre-Kantian and post-Kantian transcendentals.  These transcendentals, the whole set of categorical and propositional transcendentals, and all their implicates, forms the light of nature, which shows forth the Blessed and Beloved Creator and His unfathomable wisdom, in all his unsearchable handiwork (ktisis).  Since “light” has the limitation of rendering knowledge available to the eyes only, and since we have 5 senses, not merely eyes, the “appeal of all nature” to ALL 5 senses should receive its own name. I favor “the Sophikon.”  Some have called this “General Revelation.”  We sometimes use the term, the “Divine Testimony” to name it, though we regard it a silent testimony, like that of the industrious ants, who bid us to labor well, by a silent (and yet a quite telling) example.

This expands the notion of a transcendental to something entirely missing from Kant’s outlook — the “worldview,” or in ye olde tongue of the Academy, the Weltanschauung.  I would argue that the Pre-Kantian outlook necessarily includes a Personal notion of Wisdom and Knowledge, though I would hasten to add that this Wisdom has very little to do with any Bible or Book published in the name of the Divine Testimony.  It carries a system of both dynamic and static metaphors, ones that appeal to all 5 senses.  I believe that God has been talking to us all along,  but only in a kind of “Linear A,” which we have not learned to access as yet,  due to our immaturity in the study of wisdom.

Will he speak to us in the future in our language?  Probably.  It appears very likely to me that as the human race advances in science, linguistics, history and technology, etc., that we will eventually crack the code on linear A, and then learn how to “hear God.”  This will begin a new era of real conversation with the All-Wise Monarch.  What marvels the future holds the present can no wise tell.

 

Opposites and Complements: Asking What If

For this particular blog post, the dolphins will want to keep in mind this one basic tenet that we share — Our Beloved Plastaes created the light of nature, and its divine testimony forms the defining basis for BOTH the real and the ideal.  This means that it can have no real opposite.

In my continuing studies of language, I have begun to form a new theory, one which says that the sets of “opposites,” with which we remain quite familiar from our youth, may be largely — if not mostly — a kind of false and arbitrary “matchmaking effort” of paired polarities — like “Jesus versus the Devil.”   The like fictions of our mythologies seem to mirror those of our languages.  Perhaps the mythological counterparts to our bad-linguistic pairs “red versus green” (a false antithesis) yield what I have called “socio-cultural reflections.”

In other words, our pet false-pairs could produce our classic mythologies of “Loki versus Thor,” Superman versus Dark Seid, and god versus satan.  How many of these “opposites” actually would prove false upon closer investigation I do not yet know.  But it seems that we have created a hell of a lot of trouble for ourselves by creating “Heaven versus Hell” mythologies of opposition.  I have already challenged the “Good versus Evil” motif.   The very notion of the use of language in creating [supposed] “opposites” has become for me a land of reasonable suspicion [of the abuse of language], where one might locate the source of much of our cultural troubles.

The Greek, Homeric tradition — as well the later Hasmonean-Semitic (and LXX-Alexandrian) thought-worlds and their very Hellenistic language-games — could easily have provided a fertile, literary environment in which such “matchmaking abuses” could flourish.

If so, we will eventually want to ask after the remedy for such illicit antithesis and the troubling, unnecessary antagonism they bring to us, in our verbal “via negativa,” as well as their mythological and social consequences — as in social and economic “consequences and repercussions.”

Remember, the light of nature — the real and the ideal — has no real opposite.

This suggests that one of the ways in which we ought to proceed our continuing language study will invite us to study “paired antagonisms” as they appear in our earliest writing systems, and then to study their later appearance in the Greek (Hellenisitic) tongue — the tongue we seek to employ for the better purpose of speaking to one another in the one that is best shaped by the light of nature — ever.

More about this topic later.

Your Own Poets Have Said It: An Excerpt From the Romantic English Poets

HELLAS (Percy B. Shelley, 1792 – 1822)

The world’s great age begins anew, the golden years return, the earth doth like a snake renew, her winter weeds outworn:  Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam ….

A brighter Hellas rears its mountains, From waves serener far; A new Peneus rolls his fountains, Against the morning star; Where fairer Tempes bloom, there sleep, Young Cyclads on a sunnier deep.  ….

Another Athens shall arise, And to remoter time, Bequeath, like sunset to the skies, The splendor of its prime; And leave, if naught, so bright may live, All earth can take or Heaven can give.

Current Trends: The Hellenistic Alphabet Is Foundational

Here, I have argued that language rules the world of social construction and arrangement, and that the writing system comprised the most important step forward for humanity since the dawn of creation up until that time (say, very roughly, 3500 BC), or what we “dolphins” count as “Year 1 of Wisdom.”  Here, a dolphin represents a sophic-creationist metaphor for our Phoenician alphabet with its added accretions by which we supplement it.

Much like the historians, who begin history with the innovation of writing (but not nec. in the Year 1), dolphins believe that history and wisdom begin together with the advent of writing.   Since language forms for us the “final frontier,” and since language consists of alpha-numeric systems, what then shall we conclude?  We therefore maintain, brethren, that alphabets rule the world — after coffee anyway.

The Greeks borrowed, as we well know, their alphabet from a sea-faring, merchant people, known as the Phoenicians.  Like dolphins, these were largely fish-eaters (some boat peoples even had fish gods — like Dagon — turning one’s regular food supply — then the Teevee dinner — into deities remained an ancient past time).  But times change, and alphabets should show progress like everything else.  So the dolphin account of the ideal language will want to ask after the traits of an ideal alphabet.  We start our investigation with the Mediterranean-diet language of Hellenistic-Phoenician Greek.

First, we have recommended that we do not need both an alphabet of minuscule, and one of capital letters also (uncials).  So we have chosen the unciliar — in the interest of greater resolution and clarity — over the minuscular.  Ockham wins again.

Second, we have noted that the non-linear scripts — like the ultimately-curved and dotted Arabic — tend to yield cultures (and religions) we think of as, let us say, less-than-desirable — in a non-inflammatory, non-combustible, and highly non-explosive manner.   Remember, there is no Hellenistic word for “Jihad.”

Third, because of the way it was constructed and the (mythological) content it conveys, I am removing from the ideal Greek all religious terminology, from words like “pope,” “cardinal” and “bishop” to “redemption,” “Messiah” and “prophecy,” these must be discarded in the interest of the virtue we might call “honesty” or “integrity.”  The ideal language aims at (veridical) correspondence.

Fourth, many alphabets yield around 22 – 26 letters.  I have come to believe, after studying the different traits of the attending languages, that this represents just half the number of letters ideally constructing a language — that 50 letters is in fact just right.  This represents exactly the opposite (pendulum swing of a) conclusion I was working with some time ago, when I believed that 10 letters formed the best way to go.  Greek originally had 24 letters, after one had been dropped (25 was their maximum).  The hard part in assessing this matter remains the diphthong — a kind of “virtual letter.”  These function as a single letter, but actually has more than one.  An example in Greek is the prefix “EU” which means “well” or “good” as in “thank you,” said in the ancient tongue as “EUcharisto.”

It may well end up that we have 25 letters and some 25 diphthongs in the New [Ancient] Greek, since about this many diphthongs may be formed by combining the different vowels in the Greek alphabet, in all their many combinations.

Fifth, to remove all curves from the unciliar Greek, we shall have to reshape the letter “B,” and then “O” can be written as a Diamond, Rho can be “squared” at the top, U can be made squarish, Phi can be made diamond shaped, Psi can be squared, and Omega could be a diamond (omicron) with a vertical line bisecting from top to bottom.

I shall try to post more about my language updates soon, and I shall be recasting some of my earlier posts. I shall flag these changes as I make them.  I recommend that those who want to follow along with my Hellenistic and language studies obtain a copy of what I am currently using — the Oxford New Greek Dictionary (The Essential Resource — From the First Name in Reference: Revised and Updated with the Latest Words and Expressions), of the modern Greek.

This work has the advantage of including all those words for which the ancient Greek could not have any reference like the technological developments of the 20th century, for instance.  The modern Greek is largely based upon the ancient, and this particular reference was written with the English speaker in mind, so it has quite helpful, Anglo-Saxon “accenting” throughout.  This verdant paperback may be purchased at B & N for a pittance.

Language: The Final Frontier

All through human history, troubles of many kinds seem to have plagued the human race.  Everyone has noted this who has even a cursory familiarity with the historical record, from the first writing system to the printing press. With all the problems, from excessive taxes to crime and punishment, the five million dollar question remains, what stands behind all the mischief?  Why do we seem to keep repeating the same folly, and even create a few new problems along the way (e.g. nuclear weapons, etc), when we seem to be advancing so well in so many areas (medicine, etc)?

After studying the problem myself for decades, I have come to a recent conclusion that the root of all the many and various problems we have on this planet lie within the nature of the languages we have created and use.  Recall my theory of social and cultural development that stipulates that the way cultures and societies develop over time comes by way of the mutual (somewhat reflexive) interactivity of language and the cultures yielded by them.  Thomas Kuhn hints at this interactivity by arguing that communities develop paradigms, and that these paradigms in turn both shape and define the communities that create them.

Here lies the upshot: natural languages form on a kind of “ad hoc basis,” where historical exigencies (like the unpredictable news events that transpire as “headlines”) somewhat spontaneously set the course of the development of linguistic discourse and patterns. I can easily make the point clear by asking, “What is the Sumerian word for “Microwave Oven” ?  Back in the day, no one knew that we would develop that technology, so they had no possible way to refer to that kind of device.  As times change, language changes with it.  These unforeseeable changes (“historical exigencies”) alter the way languages emerge and shape them as they go, and this affects not only the menus for word choices (vocabularies), but also the ways in which we consider it proper to point to things in the world using them (reference [What you “point at”, and “mode of reference” — the way you do your “pointing” with words]).

All this means that no natural language — from Dutch to Swahili — has ever been formed by the study of languages, with an eye to discovering the principles of the light of nature, and then using these to sculpt and form the “ideal language.”  One language, “Esperanto,” provides some helpful insights, and is the closest one on record to trying this, but this tongue fell quite short of the goal to which I aspire.

Long story very short ….. I have been working on just this project, the creation of the ideal language, and it looks very Hellenistic, though not as Hellenistic as I once thought.  Here are my preliminary results.

We start by noting that the Greek civilization was the only one in human history ever to make the pursuing of wisdom a top priority, which priority led to the emergence of “philosophy” (“the love of wisdom”) as a uniquely Greek phenomenon. All Hail Plato.  This tongue had several streams which merged and changed over time to produce the Greek that turned out to invent the steam engine and yield many technologies way ahead of their time — Alexandrian Greek, in which location flourished the prototype of the university with its extraordinary library.  So the profitability and innovation criterion of the light of nature would point to Hellenistic (Alexandrian) Greek and the locus of the template for our work.

Next comes the problem of empty reference.  I believe this has plagued every tongue on the planet and one of our primary problems — creating a false mode of reference — which has largely escaped detection. Our ideal (it will turn out to be quasi-Alexandrian at the end) language begins at Alexandria and inherits this very important qualification — we must remove from it, its tendency to construct words, sentences and paragraphs by using what points to — absolutely nothing (This is the “empty reference” problem restated).  What does this mean for our Greek language?

  1. It will not use the alpha-privatives (the “a” at the outset of a word that simply negates what follows, like the word “A-typical.”  Here the prefix in question simply means “not.”
  2. It must not use words that have the same problem by other means.  In English, this includes words ending in “-less,” like “formless” or “hopeless.”  This just adds “not” at the end.
  3. We must also preclude other forms of mere semantic negation — the verbal “via negativa”– such as the prefixes “mis-” (meaning “not well”), or “dis-” [interested] or any use of the letter “I” that reduplicates the letter that follows it — e.g. “irreducible,” “illicit,” “immaculate,” “innumerable,” and the like.  Here the letter “I,” plus the doubling of the letter that follows it, simply means “not.”  The word “not,” of course, points at nothing at all in the real world.  It only negates, and suffers from empty reference, as do all mere negations.  Other such negating prefixes might include — “de-” [construct], “dys” [functional], “re-” [verse], “anti-” [social], “op-” [position], “ob-” [verse], “ad-“ [verse], and the like.
  4. We must also remove from our language all words like “not,” “never,” no one” (none), and the contractions that go with these “don’t,” “can’t,” etc., and the prefix “non.”

One will notice that I use these throughout my blog [Physician heal thyself!] I intend to correct these in time, but I cannot assimilate the ideal all in one day when I have only recently learned these things by study and have had limited access to my own blog!   Have patience, grasshopper.

Recall that we have already affirmed the following changes to the original, Hellenstic tongue:

a. Remove the passive voice from all verbs (active and middle voice alone prove necessary).

b. Omit the infinitive, which has no necessary function and shows only “pure abstraction” — that has no reference in the real world — e.g. to run, to jump, to sing.

c.   Omit all irregular (exceptions to the rule) forms of verbs and all else, changing them to make the whole language 100% regular.

d. Omit all verbs of being, since “being” is not an attribute, and all actions of any subject (“Jake ran”) presuppose the existence of the subject to begin with.  “To exist” remains the lone exception here, maybe.

e.  False antitheses (now)

f.  Negative sanctions language (not ideal)

g.  Vice language (not ideal)

h. Excessive synonymy  (redundant beyond 5 synonyms in many cases)

i. religious language (promotes fiction).

This will mean that we must also remove from our math system all nonpositive numbers — zero and negative numbers (nonreferential indicators) — using only real numbers and their decimals.  These create an interesting lie in set theory, where the material adequacy of -3 equals the material adequacy of -1000 or zero.  But here, the referential (applied in the real world) math simply does not work out well.  Nor will it help at all if one falls for the very tempting false analogies (some of which economists seem particularly fond of) like comparing negative numbers to debt load numbers.

The problem, mentioned before, is that “-3” actually names an operation (subtraction), and then “adds” that operation to a number (3), creating a category mistake of -3, where the negative sign is treated as a quantity value — instead of an operation (procedure).

Conclusion:  The modified-Hellenistic Greek that I propose as the ideal language will avoid the problem of empty reference by creating a host of new words, carefully made from traditional prefixes, roots and suffixes of that tongue (with a few alterations later noted) that replace the needful words that suffer from the empty reference problem.  “Hopeless” could be said as “less than hopeful” if we create a “less than” prefix of suffix, or even better, we can simply discover what prevents the hope (in context) and say “fearful,” if fear is the problem preventing the hope that would otherwise obtain.

In the ideal language, to avoid falsehoods and fallacies, we must replace the “via negativa” with positive affirmations only, when attempting to describe the real world.

This will shape our language by the light of nature, and progressively remove the (inherent) lying from our natural languages, to which they have — each and every one of them — always been given (until now) by both a wrong-headed vocabulary and false modes of reference — more about these later.  In my following blog posts, the reader can expect that I will work to:

Keep it profitable; Keep it clear; Keep it rational; keep it uniform; keep it reflexively sound (able to pass its own stated tests or criteria); keep it charitable, keep showing progress (gradual improvements), keep it virtuous, (removing its “violent language” content) and the like.

This is what I mean by saying that I will “cause the ideal language to conform to the principles of the light of nature.  These are what will make the (Hellenistic) language “IDEAL.”