A Philosophical Symphony Over a Philosophical System
Something is missing. Between “being” and “nothing,” we need a third category: “lack.”¹ Many philosophers today discuss “becoming,” a corrective of “being,” and certainly where there is “lack” there can be “becoming” relative to that “lack” (which is to say we can “be toward it”). If we are inspecting the tip of a glacier and “lacking” what is beneath the water, it is possible for us to then “be-toward” what is beneath the water by putting on Suba gear and diving in.² Arguably, if we weren’t “toward” what was under the water, trying to glimpse it, it couldn’t be “lacking” to us, for it is “practically” nothing. Yes, the bottom of the glacier is “technically” there, but not “practically” relative to us. For a “lack” to not be “nothing,” we have to be “toward” it (as described in “Lacks Are Not Nothing” by O.G. Rose), and this means “lacks” and “becoming” are deeply linked. Furthermore (and critically), for “a lack to not be nothing,” a certain condition of “towardness” must be met. Likewise, for “becoming” to not be “being,” it similarly must meet the condition of, and be conditioned by, something that it is “toward” (and hence cannot have or possess, “a lack”). “Lacks” condition becoming, as becoming necessitates the condition of “lack.”
In a conversation regarding “relativism,” James K.A. Smith discussed the necessity of thinking in terms of “creatureliness” and “conditionality,” an idea which I’ve found incredibly rick and influential.³ “Conditionalism” falls between “Absolutism” and “Relativism,” which is to say that it finds a “middle ground” between “givens” and “releases” (to use language from Belonging Again by O.G. Rose). Conditionalism is a philosophy where we say that “for y to be true, x condition must be met,” versus claim “y can be both true and false.” Conditionalism will avoid stressing ideas like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” in favor of “Seeing x as beautiful requires meeting condition y.” Beauty is conditional more than relative, as is truth and goodness.
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To help elaborate on Conditionalism, “beauty” and “art” can be good topics, for they play a unique role, seeing as experiences of beauty and art can train us to think in terms of Conditionality (though we must be careful to treat the terms as similes, and I attempt to define them apart in The Fate of Beauty). As thought experiments can help us become better moral reasoners, so “condition experiments” like studying a painting can help us be better “conditional reasoners.” To appreciate art, we have to learn about the artist, pay attention to certain details, examine the work from the right distance — all of which is to say there are “certain conditions we must meet.” And though we tend to know this regarding art, the same logic applies to all of reality: all of reality is aesthetically processed (as argued in “The Blank Canvas” by O.G. Rose), and that means all of reality, if meaningful to us, is conditioned. Owning that conditionality is critical for us to take embodiment, freedom, experience, phenomenology, and the like seriously. If we exist in the realm of Fundamentalism, all we must do is stick to our beliefs; if we exist in the realm of Relativism, then we might as well just stick to our beliefs. Both Absolutism and Relativism absolve us of work.
Following the thinking of Hans Rookmaaker, we can think of art as a “litmus test of a society’s Metaphysical health” (I will be capitalizing “Metaphysics,” “Mind,” “Physics,” and the like in this paper to allude to their uniqueness as Vectors, alluding to “The Vector Theory” of Bard and Elung). If art is bad (which I realize would take an entire paper to define, but I will be vague here), then it is unlikely that the society is talented in the location and realization of Metaphysical “forms,” which the society needs to “formulate” itself in a manner that is intelligible to its citizens (as described in “Geometry, Astronomy, and Platonic Forms As Ordering Principles”). Where art goes, so the world forms. Why is this the case? Well, art trains us in “epistemological skills” which we need in order to ascent to “Metaphysical realities” which we cannot empirically observe. I can look at a cup and receive “support” for the belief, “That is a cup,” from the raw facticity of the cup itself. If I stop thinking about the cup, it won’t disappear, and if I think, “That is a cat,” it won’t transform into a feline. The cup “holds itself together (as itself)”: it doesn’t need to be “up-held” by me, which is to say “held up out of nonexistence, potentiality, etc.”
Conditionalism will generally focus on events, things, and “states of being” which aren’t “present” unless we “up-hold” them out of “nothingness” into “presence.” Now, since many of the matters of Conditionalism are “lacks,” we don’t “up-hold” things into “total presence” or “being,” per se, but rather we “up-hold” them into a state of being a “present absence,” which is mysterious and often unstable (suggesting why “up-holding lacks” is not easy and takes “conditioning”). When we bow to someone and turn the space between us from “nothing” into “a negative space” which symbolizes respect, that negative space only exists so long as I can keep my head bowed and spine curved: as soon as I can’t “up-hold” that negative space any longer, the space turns back into nothing (“as if” it was never not nothing). In fact, if the entities of Conditionalism weren’t “lacks” and of an ontological “between space,” then the entities wouldn’t need any “up-holding”: they would simply “hold themselves up” (into being) in being themselves. “Being” is always “be-coming,” while “lacks” are “be-coming/going.”
Metaphysics seems inherently a matter of Conditionalism, and “lacks” are deeply Metaphysical, located “between” presence and absence. So it goes with ethics and values: my belief in “what constitutes justice” is not “externally supported” outside of myself by facticity. My values do not “hold themselves up” on their own without me acting and practicing in a manner that gives them being and reality. If I’m not thinking about “justice” (consciously or subconsciously), it cannot shape or influence me in my world — it’s “practically like” justice doesn’t exist. For justice to “practically exist,” I must “up-hold” it in my mind and act according to what I “up-hold”; otherwise, I will fail to meet the condition necessary for justice to play a role. Something similar can be said about products of creativity: before I make a painting, its existence in the world is entirely contingent upon my actualization of it. I must “up-hold” it in my mind and keep it there while I visit the store, purchase the paints, drive home, find time in my day when I’m not bothered, and then work. If at any point in this process and “journey” I cease “up-holding” the idea in my mind, I will have “to reach back down” into the invisible realm of possibility, locate it, and “lift the idea back up” into my mind to “up-hold it” there (and there is no guarantee I will be able to find it again, perhaps suggesting why artists and creatives can be so nervous about “everything being right,” falling into OCD, coming across as moody, and so on).
Metaphysics is a category under which falls any entity that must be “up-held” to be, any entity which cannot “hold itself up” into physical and sensual being on its own. If it must be thought, felt, etc. to “be in the world,” then it is Metaphysical, which is to say that the entity’s influence on the world is contingent upon the degree it is considered (and action is motivated by that consideration, perhaps long after the original idea is forgotten). “On Consciousness, Creativity, and Being” by O.G. Rose makes a distinction between “creation” and “causation” which is relevant here, “creation” being what requires thought to occur, while causation is what can occur, non-contingent on thought. To put it another way, “creation” is what couldn’t occur unless consciousness entered the universe, while “causation” is what could occur regardless the presence of consciousness (please note this doesn’t mean consciousness couldn’t have been “caused” into being, a point which brings Vector Theory to mind of Bard and Elung). Arguably true contingency is thought, for what is most deeply contingent is that which isn’t even in the realm of possibility without the existence of Mind.⁴ For this reason, it’s tempting to say that “the Metaphysical” is a simile for “the human,” and frankly it does seem fair to think that Metaphysics is that which wouldn’t exist without humans and their Minds. As (the Vector of) Physics exists because of the Big Bang, so Mind exists because of humans (generally at least, as far as we know), and as Physics operates according to laws of causality, so Metaphysics operates according to principles of creation. Again, this doesn’t mean “Metaphysics” and “spiritual” are similes or that Descartes was right, but rather it’s just to say that Metaphysics operates according to a different logic and “way” than Physics: “Metaphysics” and “Physics” are not equivalent or reducible (now that both have come to emerge and be together).
Metaphysics seems to have a lot to do with the relationship between Mind and Physicality, with the act of intellectualizing and “making sense” of the phenomenon of the nearby bookcase (for example): we could say that Metaphysics is the act of understanding how that bookcase-object comes to be “a bookcase.” Terms found in Aristotle like “form,” “essence,” and “substance” all have something to do with figuring out “how a thing comes to be that thing,” and Aristotle’s Metaphysics simply comes “after Physics” and follows from the observation that change is always going on, that all we observe is change, and yet things still manage to “stay themselves” (in our apprehension). The exploration of Metaphysics simply follows from observations on Physics: it’s not like Aristotle “created” Metaphysics because he was looking for something to do one day. Aristotle is profoundly phenomenological, simply following an observation of things changing in the world to questions regarding how we understand and comprehend that change, observations and realities which indeed “follow,” but that we don’t tend to think “follow” because we segment Physics and Mind so starkly. In experience though, Mind is constantly making sense of what we experience and translating the Physical world into things we can understand: there is no stark distinction. “Meta” can mean “referential,” so we can also think of “Metaphysics” as “the study of how we reference and refer to Physics” meaningfully, which is how we can refer to Physics as Minds.
The idea of “a bookcase” is contingent, for I must be able to think for that idea to enter my head, as I must also be entertaining that idea. I must “up-hold” the idea in my head: I must find it in the potential of everything I could possibly think, pull it “up,” and “hold it” there, per se. The idea won’t hold itself, and though there are thoughts “I can get out of my head,” those don’t define the majority of our thoughts, and even those are “contingent upon us having experiences which keep those ideas in our heads and unable to ‘get them out.’ ” All ideas are “contingent,” which means there is a certain condition which must be met for us to have, hold, and experience them. All ideas require “up-holding,” which means they require “conditioning,” and all ideas are similarly Metaphysical (even if they ultimately are thanks to a Physical origin). In ideas, we see the profound relationship between Conditionalism, Metaphysics, and “up-holding” — they seem inseparable.
I cannot say it is a complete list (and one day I might decide its entirely wrong), but if I were to jot down a few characteristics of Metaphysics:
1. Metaphysics is something that can be created and/or destroyed, whereas Physical entities are made of energy which cannot be created or destroyed.
2. Metaphysics is a category under which falls any entity that must be “up-held” to be, any entity which cannot “hold itself up” into physical and sensual being on its own.
3. Metaphysics is about things which are created instead of caused.
4. Metaphysics is about how we refer to Physics (meaningfully, intellectually, and the like). Metaphysics is “Physics referring to Physics.”
5. Metaphysics is about our interpretations of Physics.
6. Metaphysics studies the interplay of immanences or “closed systems,” mainly Mind and Matter.
7. Metaphysics studies how meaning and intelligibility occur.
And so on. If these characteristics are accurate, then Metaphysics and Conditionalism are strongly connected, and we can begin seeing how Metaphysics is saved by moving away from a view of Metaphysics as concerned with non-conditionalities, universals, and other matters which I think have generally characterized Western Metaphysics. Art is a litmus test of a society’s Metaphysical health, for art suggests how capable a society is of “up-holding” entities which don’t “hold themselves up.” By this, I mean that “art does not tell us what it means,” nor does art force us to experience and feel x or y, nor does art force us to even think of it as “art” — art is an entity which requires much “up-holding.” If a society is weak in the arts, it could easily be weak at the skill and habit of “up-holding,” though it would require an entirely different discussion to explain what it means to be “weak at the arts.” Still, the point is that art can train us in the acts of epistemological ascent (like faith) which are required if we are to be masters of “up-holding”; thus, if arts are lacking, there is reason to think we are not so trained. Conditionalism requires us to “up-hold” realities we can never prove as real outside the act of “up-holding” them, which means the proofs are also bound to subjects (which means the proofs will not pass traditional epistemological tests).
It was already noted, but a society’s skill in Conditionalism is linked to its capacity to entertain and operate according to “forms,” and if “forms” play a critical role in organic and emergent social organization, then a society’s abilities in the arts will easily correlate with its capacity to successfully rise to the challenges explored in Belonging Again by O.G. Rose. It is not clear if “forms” are lost first or the ability to think “conditionality,” but regardless the outcome is the same: Conditionalism will be lost. Once that occurs, it becomes unlikely society will be able “to condition itself together,” and so the social order will begin to pull apart. And once that occurs, individuals will prove unable to condition themselves, and once that occurs individuals will struggle to even be themselves. At this point, a “Meaning Crisis” should not surprise us. Considering this, and assuming the fates of art and beauty are connected, then we can say the fate of beauty is the fate of us — but elaborating on that will require The Fate of Beauty to properly address.
“Conditionalism” is “an art-form of thought” we can find in works as varied as Michael Polanyi, James K.A. Smith, Isaiah Berlin, Hans Balthasar — I could go on — the line of thought suggested in this paper can be explored in many thinkers beyond it. What follows are descriptions which use the language of “balance,” “fittingness,” “dialectics” — it is hard to find the right language. We are dealing with a philosophy of glimpses, incompleteness, and evanescence — there are no systems here, only pieces of music. For a long time, we have discussed “philosophical systems,” and rightfully there has been a critique against “systems.” Here, perhaps what I am attempting is “philosophical symphonies.” The philosophy will be the music, but the music itself will be invisible. We will see only performers, and the performers are necessary to explore to understand how the music which emerges is possible, but the performers themselves will not “be” the music. Why not exactly is why Conditionalism and “mystery” are deeply linked.
Conditionalism is not a “philosophical system” but a “philosophical symphony,” concerned with an invisible music that only exists when musicians perform and yet cannot be reduced to those necessary musicians. There are “necessary” conditions which must be met for a symphony to exist — there must be musicians of a certain skill level, a place where they can gather, etc. — and yet the symphony itself isn’t reducible to those conditions, not does it necessarily result from the conditions (the musicians could sit silently on stage). There are “necessary conditions” but not “necessary results”: nothing necessarily follows, and that’s why, when something does follow, it’s beautiful.
There are few senses in which we will mean the term “condition.”
A. I am trained to lift weights.
B. To lift weights, I must have access to weights.
C. The weights must stay themselves as I use them.
“Condition” is a fascinating term, precisely because everything in reality is arguably “conditioned,” and yet it’s a term that’s more interesting than say “aspect.” We often discuss “aspects” and “matter,” but I can’t “aspect’ myself or “matter” myself (these terms must be verbs). But I can “condition” myself to meet conditions, and arguably I am always conditioning myself (by doing this instead of that, thinking this versus thinking that), which is to say I am always shaping and transforming the possibilities and “horizons” I can realize and undergo. We are “always already” being conditioned and conditioning, which determines the conditions we can realize. We are “always already” in the middle of much.
In this sense, Conditionalism is always referring to “an ontological trinity”: we are conditioned as we condition relative to conditions; we are shaped and shaping ourselves relative to what sources of shaping we can realize; we are as we make relative to what is (a point which brings to mind Ontological Design by Daniel Fraga). There is indeed needed “something systematic” here in Conditionalism, but not “a system,” similar to a symphony orchestra: there is precision but not a machine. Arguably, philosophers have sought “philosophical machines” in their efforts to seek precision, as opposed to seeking “the precision of an artist,” which cannot be “automatically programmed” only “achieved” each and every time. “Artistic precision” is always “miraculous,” per se, while “mechanical precision” is just how things are supposed to work. The loss of “artistic precision” has corresponded with the growth of boredom, which means that we could say that “the loss of miracle” has corresponded with “The Meaning Crisis.”
“Precision” is a useful word, better than even “systematic” (though I use this term), for a reason great artists are great is because they are precise. No, not in their creative processes (for those can be incredibly messy and chaotic), and Faulkner is full of “stream of consciousness” —
so what in the world do I mean? I mean to say that Faulkner decided to use “stream of consciousness” because that is precisely what was needed to portray Benjy Compson. Artists are in the business of figuring out the right word to describe the tint of the protagonist’s hair, the right note on which to introduce the trumpet, the right shade so that the trees are nostalgic — and so on. Artistic elements must come together in a “precise” way to create the overall effect the artist seeks: otherwise, the work fails (on a hard-to-describe “emergent level”). If a story is filled with compelling characters in a compelling setting, but the story lacks stakes, the novel will easily fail. Nine out of ten “right elements” won’t cut it: in the world of art, there is cruelty, for it often feels like “all or nothing,” similar to cooking. Every condition must be met, or the work feels there only in theory.
Existential anxiety and mental illness are common in art, and I think a reason is because art is so radically conditional. It can drive you crazy, but running from Conditionality is not facing it, and to overcome “The Meaning Crisis,” we must be courageous (as described in “Is Putin a Thomas More Who Caved?” by O.G. Rose). Philosophers may have spared themselves the same level of mental anguish (not to say there isn’t plenty of it) by seeking “systems,” which philosophy allows philosophers to seek more readily than does art. Systems “bracket out” conditionality in favor of objectivity and necessity; they separate themselves from the “personal” and “subjective’ and present themselves as “unconditionally true.” If they fail, the philosophers cannot be blamed: after all, they were trying to realize reality, not create new realities (a distinction which bring mathematics to mind and of which saves the philosopher from existential tension). But the artist is undeniably creating (there’s no escape), and thus if the work fails, the artist is entirely to blame. The artist can take far less shelter than the philosopher who can blame reality for being difficult, and yet the artist can find it far more difficult to explain what exactly the artist is trying to achieve. The artist knows once the work is suddenly and all at once “that” — but what is that? Well, answering that requires the right conditions, and what are those?
Conditionalism would have philosophers leave the protection of their Ivy Towers and go outside to see. What is “optimal” for humans must be “made” and “worked out” — we cannot simply say, “Humans need a balance between the self and others,” and thus achieve that balance. No, the details and conditions of that premise must be worked out relative to each individual. And “how” they should be worked out can only be known “in” the conditions of the given individual. Conditionalism would indeed have us go into conditions: we must carry out the journeys of Hume and Hegel. And that means we must face ourselves as subjects and “work ourselves out” with fear and trembling. The psychoanalytical and personal cannot be avoided.
Formulas of Conditionalism
x/y → z
x and y = variables
/ = “fitting dialectic”
z = “emergent result” (negation/sublation)
Light/darkness → shadow
Presence/absence → lack
Physics/metaphysics → (meta)physics, “forms”
Truth/rationality → (non)rationality, “aesthetic epistemology”
Hiddenness/openness → “veils,” desire
Sameness/difference → similarity/difference
When there is failed “conditioning,” / can become |, thus leadings to…
x | y
| = no “fitting dialectic”
No emergent result (effacement, which means x | y is always x | y)
Light | darkness → “artificial lighting,” blindness
Presence | absence → “pure being,” “pure nothing” (effacing impossibilities)
Physics | metaphysics → materialism, Gnosticism
Truth | rationality → “unbound spirituality,” “autonomous rationality”
Hiddenness | openness → walls, no definition, unmediated Real (Lacan)
Vertical | horizontal→ dualism, hollowness
Sameness | difference → nonrelational, atomized, unintelligible
If x condition is met, y emerges
1. The mysterious balance of darkness and light which generates shadows. The balance between shadows and light to generate a particular aesthetic experience. (In Praise of Shadows).
2. The presence of a veil to create a desire, but not so much of a veil that we can’t know there is “something there.” A veil that is too strong is a wall, so a balance between “visible” and “invisible” must be struck (Fatima in Ivo Andric, religious traditions, etc.).
3. All the elements of a painting must come together for a work of art to “work.” Every shape, every color, every line — everything must be “balanced” and “judged together” to create a certain effect. For Hans Rookmaaker, art always captures a metaphysical dimension: it is never a mere “photograph” or “one-for-one representation.” For art to “successfully” point beyond itself, the art must meet a certain conditionality, as we must also meet a certain conditionality for our eyes to so work.
4. Similar to 3, symbols and sacraments “point away” from themselves toward higher realities, but a good literary or artistic “symbol” only works if it is integrated into the story or work of art “as if” it’s not a symbol but just itself. If an authority describes a rock trying to make it a symbol, then the rock feels “forced” and artificial, and the power of the symbol is lost. For Flannery O’Connor, all of reality is inherently symbolic and “pointing” toward higher realities, so our goal is to simply describe things “as they actually are” (which is incredible difficult, as we learn from someone like Cezanne, and Walker Percy also makes it clear that it is hard to “see past preset complexes”). Thus, for symbols to be created and work, a writer must have the entity rightly “conditioned,” as the writer must also meet “certain conditions” in his or her writing.
5. If a chef doesn’t meet the condition of balancing all the seasonings, ingredients, etc. in the right way, the food will be terrible.
6. If elements in the finite and/or “horizontal” are “rightly ordered” (to combine Kierkegaard with St. Augustine), then “the vertical” can be glimpsed.
If x isn’t conditioned by y, there is loss, disaster, and so on.
7. The Counter Enlightenment stressed the need for social orders to “rest on things” which couldn’t be reduced to rationalities. Benjamin Fondane also discussed a need for a balance between “rationality” and “nonrationality,” though rationality has a tendency to devour nonrationality (as light devours shadows, and desire tends to rip away veils).
8. The balance between truth and rationality to make possible a reasoning which doesn’t become “autonomously rational” or a “truth” which discards logic (The True Isn’t the Rational)
9. Dante describes Beatrix in the Paradiso has not smiling so that he is not destroyed by her splendor. As he ascends toward God, he can handle more of her glory, but her smile grows slowly and carefully. He must be conditioned and meet certain conditions to handle more glory; too much too soon will destroy him. He must be patient, discerning, and ever trusting.
If x and y aren’t understood to be conditioned, x and y cannot relate.
10. Isaiah Berlin discusses Pluralism, the idea that different people in the world can ascribe to different truths and all parties be rational. The idea is that if I meet condition x, it is rational to do y when encountering z, but if you meet condition w, then q is rational when you encounter z. Same encounter of z in both circumstances, but differing conditionality changes what constitutes “rational.” In this, conditionality can give rise to difference even in the presence of sameness, and that difference not be a result of irrationality, foolishness, etc.
11. “Belonging Again” by O.G. Rose discusses the tension between “givens” and “releases,” focusing on the work of Philip Rieff, Freud, James Hunter, Peter Berger, A.J. Conyers, and others. Without “givens,” we are overwhelmed by possibilities and freedom (a state which makes totalitarianism appealing), and thus we need freedom to be “conditioned’ by “givens” so that we have direction. “Pure freedom,” unconditioned or influenced by “givens,” would be nothingness, and that would prove to be an effacement. However, “pure givens” would mean we lacked freedom entirely, and that would be oppression. “Givens” need to be conditioned by individuals, which is to say “adapted’ and “incorporated” in a manner that is best for the individual (as that individual sees best). Where “releases” and “individuals” don’t feel “conditioned enough” by a social order, people can feel aimless and without “belonging”; where individuals are “overly conditioned” by a social order, they can feel oppressed. For individuals and society to relate, they must understand they need one another (and the resulting conditioning). Without that, both fail.
If x sees itself as entirely unconditioned by y, x is effaced.
12. Sameness doesn’t exist in reality, but neither does “pure difference.” This is described in “The Philosophy of Lack” series and throughout (Re)constructing “A Is A,” as well as in work describing Leibnitz. But the point is that if we were “the same” as something, then that thing would be “one” with us: there would be no difference. Sameness doesn’t exist, because things that are the same are the same thing, and thus there is no “sameness between things.” Multiple things can only be “similar,” for if they were “the same” they would not be multiple. But this means all similarity entails difference, and thus all similarity is “similarity/difference.” Similarly, if two things were “purely different,” they couldn’t relate enough to identify themselves as different: they would be all that existed (relative to themselves). As Alex Ebert notes, “sameness” and “pure difference” become practically identical, because both are states where no relation is present. And as this logic applies to “between things,” it has self-referential consequences as well: I must always be “similar/different” to myself, or I will be effaced.
X and y both must maintain “the conditions” in which they understand themselves as different from one another but not so different that they cannot relate. In other words, they have to maintain conditions which help them realize and be “toward” similarity/difference versus sameness or pure difference.
13. If everything is conditioned, then “A is A” must always be a case on a condition. “Across conditions,” it cannot be the case that “A is A,” for previous conditions are always becoming new conditions. Considering this, Conditionalism opens the door to a philosophy of irony, paradox, contradiction, and the like — but that is another story for another time.
We start in: ( )
Vertical (disembodied, Gnostic)
Timeless (no presence)
Then we have our first state of movement…
Darkness toward light = shadows
Nonrationality toward rationality = (non)rationality
Hiddenness toward openness = veils, symbols
Being toward beings = becoming
Vertical toward horizontal = symbolic, (meta)physics
Timelessness toward now = eternity (Kairos)
Sameness toward difference = similarity/difference
Givenness toward releases = direction, desirable freedom
But then we tend to go too far and end up in…
Light without darkness = artificial light (fakeness), no shadows
Rationality without nonrationality = autonomous rationality
Openness without hiddenness = Unmeditated Real (Lacan)
Beings without being = effacement, nothingness.
Horizontal without vertical = materialism
Now without timelessness = effacement, “point time,” fragmentation.
Difference without sameness = “pure difference.”
Releases without givenness = existentially overwhelming, “total freedom”
When this happens, we have our second state of movement…
Light toward darkness = shadows
Rationality toward nonrationality = (non)rationality
Openness toward hiddenness = veils, symbols
Beings toward being = becoming, “lack”
Horizontal toward vertical = symbolic, (meta)physics
Now toward timelessness = eternity (Kairos)
Difference toward sameness = similarity/difference
Releases toward givenness = direction, desirable freedom
But then we tend to go to far and end up in…
And so it goes (again)…
1. We must somehow stay in a state of movement, which is often discussed as “becoming.”
2. States of movements are “ontologies of lack.”
3. “Lack” is a third ontology between being and nothing, which can also be discussed in terms of “becoming,” because “lacks” are things we are “toward” (otherwise, they’d be “nothing”).
4. Conditionalism is often if not always a “conditioning” of a relationship between “presence” and “absence,” which is to say Conditionalism and “lack” are deeply connected. “Lack” is a central component of the ontology of Conditionalism.
Some Characteristics of Conditionalism:
We need a “fitting dialectic” between…
Light and Darkness
If that balance is met, following Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, there is…
Shadow, which arises to unique aesthetic experiences that are good for human cultivation.
Light tends to “overreach” into shadow, which results in a loss of the unique aesthetic experiences which captivated Tanizaki.
Which causes an overreaction of…
Anti-industrialism, anti-technology, etc.
(*If we consider light metaphorically, then “overreaching light” is unbound industrialism, empiricism, moralism, etc…)
We need a “fitting dialectic” between…
Unveiling and Veiling
If that balance is met, following Dante, Freud, and Ivo Andrić, there is…
Desire, and a healthy respect for “the other” which maintains mystery and wonder.
Desire and the desire to know tend to “overreach” into the unknown and veiled, which results in a loss of mystery, longing, wonder, and possibility (“overfitted empiricism”). This can also cause tyranny.
Which causes an overreaction of…
Isolationism, separation, and puritanism (keep everything veiled at all times)
We need a “fitting dialectic” between…
Physics and Metaphysics
If that balance is met, following Aristotle, Sacramental Ontology, Hegel, and the like, there is…
Observing of forms, symbolism, and (meta)physics. This maintains beauty in life and helps us avoid “The Meaning Crisis.” We also get a robust, creative, and successful science, following the thinking of Paul Feyerabend, who stresses that science is at its best when pioneered by the “rebels,” dreamers, and “creatives.” Great scientists are risk-takers, who see “beyond the immediate” and “the physical.”
(Meta)physics is unstable and hard to maintain, and it seems natural for the physical to present itself as “all there is.” Thus, Physics tends to “overreach” into Metaphysics and submit us all to reductionism. At the same time, Metaphysics can also “overreach” into Physics and act as if science doesn’t matter, that all we need is religion, theology, philosophy, and the like.
Which causes an overreaction of…
Metaphysics and Physics having nothing to do with one another, which causes a Meaning Crisis, reductionism, materialism, and intellectual stagnation.
We need a “fitting dialectic” between…
Sameness and Difference
If that balance is met, following “The Philosophy of Lack” series, there is…
Stable and healthy identity which incorporate relations. “Pure sameness” and “pure difference” are both impossible effacements: everything that exists is a “similarity/difference” (a dialectical both-ness, per se). Where there is maintained, there can be identity but not stagnancy.
We naturally desire either to be “totally one” with others and/or “find absolute wholeness,” which means we seek relationships that “close gaps” and thus “remove difference.” But where there is no difference, it be difficult to individuate, which can lead to people feeling smothered and oppressed. Similarity which seeks “sameness” causes effacement.
Which causes an overreaction of…
A seeking of “pure difference” and “being a unique individual” (Deleuzian), which can cause breakdowns of community, social order, and relations.
*Like “(meta)physics,” “similarity/difference” is inherently unstable, and not “breaking the instability” in favor of “too much similarity” or “too much difference” requires learning to handle a state of existential instability that is very difficult. Coming to terms with “The Real” is hard, but if we fail to do so, we will be effaced.
We need a “fitting dialectic” between…
“Givens” and “Releases”
If that balance is met, following Belonging Again, there is…
Direction, existential stability, and social belonging. Under “pure freedom,” we don’t know what to do and are anxious, but under “pure givens” we feel oppressed and without control. We need both “givens” and “releases” to feel like we have direction and a “home.”
The desire for freedom tends to “overreach” and deconstruct “givens,” of which, once destroyed, are extremely difficult to replace (for now we know they are not “given”). And there’s good reason for this: “givens” make possible “the banality of evil.”
Which causes an overreaction of…
When freedom becomes unbearable, people can turn to totalitarianism to regain existential stability. In other words, where “givens” are deconstructed, people can turn to power to restore them. Isolationism, tribalism, and atomization follow.
We need a “fitting dialectic” between…
Rationality and Nonrationality
If that balance is met, following The True Isn’t the Rational, there is…
Thinking which avoids Nash Equilibria, embraces “dialectical rationality” (“symphonic rationality,” perhaps, of “aesthetic epistemology”) and that avoids effacing itself. When rationality tries to be its own grounding and “all there is,” which thinkers like Benjamin Fondane and those of the Counter Enlightenment warn against (as described by Isaiah Berlin), then rationality becomes a “totalizing force” which can oppress and deconstruct itself. At the same time, we require rationality to function well.
Rationality seems naturally “toward” “autonomous rationality,” which is to say it views itself as “autonomous” and able to provide its own grounding. “Why” exactly is discussed throughout The True Isn’t the Rational, but the point is that rationality cannot understand “nonrationality” in rational terms, and so rationality naturally concludes that “nonrationality” doesn’t matter. As a result, without proper conditioning, rationality will naturally discard and ignore the role of “nonrationality.”
Which causes an overreaction of…
Antirationality and even “the legitimization crisis” if institutions come to be seen as forces supporting and spreading “autonomous rationality.” Also, in lacking the language of “nonrationality” and the idea that “the true” and “the rational” are different categories, we can only think of people who disagree with us as irrational, which means we conclude that there is good reason not to bother speaking to them. As a result, democracy fails and tribalism spreads.
We need a “fitting dialectic” between…
Presence and Absence or Being and Nothing
If that balance is met, following “The Philosophy of Lack,” there is…
“Becoming,” an ability to avoid effacement in favor of negation/sublation, an integration with “lack,” and “harmony.” We exist in time and change, but change is hard and requires “active thinking” to handle and live with harmoniously. This is doable, but it will likely require an awareness that we need to accomplish this task.
Our minds naturally seek A/A-understandings of the world, which means we are “toward” understanding everything in terms of “being,” which even if somehow a valid category relative to God or Infinity, is much less valid regarding finitude, where such ontological orientation causes pathology and neurosis (generally due to seeking the “Wholeness” Freud warned).
Which causes an overreaction of…
Nihilism, ascribing to “nothing,” because when our efforts for “being” fail us (seeing as A/A is impossible, only A/B), if we don’t have a category of “becoming” or “lack,” we have “nothing.”
And so on.
Light over darkness: artificial lighting; technological “capture”…
Darkness over light: inability to function; antitechnology…
Nonrationality over rationality: irrationality, unbound spirituality…
Rationality over nonrationality: “autonomous rationality,” Nash Equilibria, deconstruction…
Veils and absence over exposure and presence: nothingness.
Exposure and presence over veils and absence: being and effacement.
Becoming. Lack. Mystery. Libidinal stability. Symbolism. Wonder.
Metaphysics over Physics: idealism; inability to progress.
Physics over Metaphysics: materialism; Meaning Crisis.
“Lacks” often appear in quick and fleeing “breaks” or “cracks” between “the map” and “the territory,” “breaks” we will miss unless we watch and participate in life, for they are found in the phenomenological. These “breaks” are particular and yet can suggest universals, which would suggest that “forms” are experienced under very particular conditions (like “Freudian slips” of reality itself). To revisit an example from earlier, when two people bow to one another, a “negative space” appears between them that means a lot. Certain conditions must be met for bowing — two people must face one another, hold their arms at their sides, curve their backs down — but if the conditions for “forming a bow” are met, then a “negative space” emerges (suddenly and all at once) between the two people (which we can also call “a lack”). When the people stood looking at one another, there was “nothing between them,” but then with a slight curve of their backs, that “nothing” turned into a “negative space.” And that “negative space” meant honor and respect — it would be foolish to say it meant nothing.
Do we “see” “negative space?” Yes and no. We “see” the space between the bowing people, but we don’t’ “see” honor and respect, and frankly we see the same space that was between them a moment ago when they stood facing one another (perhaps a difference between animals and humans is the possibility of experiencing “negative space”). Nothing visually changed in terms of space, and yet we strangely “saw” the meaning of that space transform. It is there and yet it is not. Can we “balance” with “negative space?” Can we touch it? Can we examine it? Yes and no — we deal with a great mystery. Can we empirically “see” a symbol? No, we can only see phenomena. We cannot empirically observe “the meaning of the cross” in the object of a cross, and yet that “meaning” is as “clear as day” for the Christian. How strange is this, but this is the magic and power of Conditionality: if we grew up with the same experiences as most people who are Christian, perhaps we too would see “clear as day” the meaning of Calvary with the object of the cross.
The things we can see but don’t see, the “between spaces,” the “ontology of the middle,” the conditional — many terms and phrases could be used. As described in “Experiencing Thinking” by O.G. Rose, all of these are matters of “high order complexity” versus “low order complexity,” and “high order complexity” is very unnatural and unobservable. “Low order causality” is when two billiard balls hit and move, where “high order causality” is when I see balls move and remember to call my sister. The second is an example of causality too, but it cannot be “observed” like the balls hitting. It can and it can’t be. Likewise, it cannot be “seen” how gluing a broken bowl together causes me not to lose my temper at work, and yet the East teaches us that there is a profound causal relationship here. Practices condition, and because “I” glue the bowl and go to work, work and the bowl are connected through me. “I” am a “conditioning” which conditions both the bowl and work, as both the bowl and work condition me. It is all connected, and yet that connection cannot be observed. And yet it can be — it is an example of “between-ness,” of a “metaphysics” that our failure to observe has contributed to “The Meaning Crisis.”
Irony is the price we pay for forsaking Conditionalism, and ultimately our choice seems to be between irony and harmony (as explored toward the end of (Re)constructing “A Is A”): we can think of “The Meaning Crisis” as when irony has been unleashed upon the world. We artificially light a room so guests appreciate its design, but the ease of visibility can reduce the desire of guests to look. Visibility can hinder sight. Where Conditionalism is forsaken, irony is probable, for we will likely end focusing on goals over the means by which we accomplish these goals. The end and goal will eclipse our thinking about the means, and we will end up not thinking deeply on the matter, especially the moment we have a “sense of a goal.” If we want people to see our new furniture, then “the linear” and “obvious” solution is to increase lighting. Simple enough, right? And with this thought, we will likely stop thinking about the matter and purchase a new lamp. But once we take seriously Conditionalism and Eastern thought, we might think twice, acknowledging that, indeed, a new lamp will help people see the furniture, but will it keep them from really seeing the furniture? This second line of thought is what In Praise of Shadows invites us to consider, and if we never entertain the reality of Conditionalism, irony will likely prove our fate.
If we do not avoid irony, we will rarely make much progress, and here I will stress that there is “progress” in Conditionalism: the need for veils does not mean we cannot progress. In Dante, God is never known in His fullness, but Dante does indeed learn more about God — ever so. Likewise, to say a room needs shadows is not to say a room should never be known, but to say that “observing aura” is just as important as observing things, and “aura” only emerges under the right conditions, and only for as long as those conditions are “up-held.” Also, when we turn on a light and instantly everything is illuminated, we don’t have to work to see things in the room. We don’t have to wait until morning; we don’t have to condition our eyes to adjust and see in the dark; we don’t have to be careful not to tip over the candle; and so on. The instantaneousness of artificial lighting removes from us all need to “condition ourselves” by cultivating patience or cultivating skills to see and operate in low-light. With the flip of a switch, everything is finished, and if something was lost, we cannot see it.
As Walter Benjamin taught us, in a world where paintings were hard to come by, let alone own, a given painting might be the only painting which we ever hung up in our house. When it grew old and boring, we couldn’t go and buy a new one: we were stuck with it. And that meant we had two choices: let the painting lose its “aura,” or somehow learn to keep seeing beauty in what was no longer novel. This would require us to see and love “depth” as opposed to “surface,” but how is that ability gained? Well, it doesn’t seem to be “given to us” by the immediate world — all that is immediate is surface — and yet the ability to experience and love “depth” is something very real that we can cultivate (“depth” is like “negative space,” something we see and yet don’t see). In the past, where mass production wasn’t an option, perhaps people had no choice but to cultivate this ability, or else suffer a life which was always missing something, in the same way that a world without artificial lighting required people to learn to appreciate the aesthetic experience of candlelight.
It’s possible to use a candle and simply be upset that we can’t see very well, but in a world where only candles existed, we would probably focus more on the fact that we could see “at all” versus emphasis the “lack of light.” Technology always changes “towardness” (as described in “Representing Beauty” by O.G. Rose), as it always changes the meaning of things: candles in a world of artificial lighting are likely to be seen as deficient, for the artificial lighting has changed the meaning of candles. But in a world before artificial lightening, it was likely more natural and easier to think of candles in “a positive light,” but does this mean we were better off before artificial lightening? Well, I think we come back to Hegel: the future is better than the past, or the world is over. Artificial lighting opens up possibilities which otherwise wouldn’t be available to us, but it also makes it difficult not to “over-use” it and keep it “in its proper bounds.” There is no law which says we cannot use artificial lightening and also appreciate candles, but it seems very natural to make this mistake. If we are to avoid it, we must condition ourselves.
What we’ve said about artificial lighting applies just as well to art, “presence,” and all the other topics of Conditionalism — it’s not bad that we have mass production of art if we can “condition” ourselves to keep seeing “the aura” of art, as it’s not bad to be surrounded by “presences” so much as don’t turn them into “standing reserves” (Heidegger). But so “conditioning” ourselves is very difficult, and we won’t even realize we need to do it because we don’t take seriously Eastern thought. As Daniel Zaruba notes, in the West we leave televisions on and think nothing of it, but Eastern thought would have us realize this decision is not inconsequential. It changes the conditionality of the room, which may destroy the possibility of a special “aura” in which we can find meaning, beauty, and hope. Perhaps a television can help create “aura” by bringing a family together to watch a football game — I don’t know — the point is only that conditions matter, that we should pay great attention to them. Unfortunately, it seems natural for technology, advancement, and the like to make us “toward” the world in a way that makes us forsake “conditionality.”
Conditionality is interested in subjects like “negative space,” symbols, veils, and the like, experiences which emerge, are visual, and yet aren’t visual. “On Typography” by O.G. Rose argued that Derrida did not deconstruct “metaphysics of apprehension,” only “metaphysics of being,” and Conditionalism is a metaphysics which occupies the remaining “clearing.” But this metaphysics is one we cannot simply think about but must also practice. “Up-holding the middle” is critical for “aura,” for example, but this seems impossible to master naturally. We require practices, paying attention, flowing, improvisation — “art-forms” which are easy to forsake and miss. “Ideas are not experiences,” and without practices all we have are ideas, and ideas “alone” seem weak for us to “up-hold the middle.” Hans Rookmaaker taught that our lives are our facts and our meanings, informing and conditioning one another — a feedback loop — and Conditionalism is to focus on “the conditions” which make that feedback loop possible, meaningful, and effective, which is to say “we up-hold the middle.” Conditionalism asks, “What does this mean for us in practice?” and focuses on how we can maintain conditions which will realize the Metaphysical realities which are best — a consideration which falls under the category of “Phenomenological Pragmaticism” (as discussed in (Re)constructing “A Is A”) which explores the conditions which make the topic of Conditionalism manifest through both observation and creation (not mere empiricism).
It is another topic, but Anselm’s famous “Ontological Argument” also suggests that all knowledge is “conditioned,” for we can only know and approach God “from our knees,” per se. For Anselm, if we are not thinking about a God who is real, we are not thinking about God, and if we are actually thinking about God, we will fall to our knees. God is simply that splendid, awe-inspiring, and the like: we cannot really think of God and not be humbled. In this way, Anselm is suggesting that thinking requires certain conditions to be met, and likewise, thinking conditions us back. We learn from McLuhan that we make our tools and that our tools make us, but so it also goes with ideas: we make our ideas, and then our ideas make us. When the example is Theology and Anselm, this is obvious, but the logic applies just as well to all ideas and thoughts. When I don’t believe art “points toward” Metaphysics, then it doesn’t; when I don’t believe “veils” are needed for desire, then I don’t live my life “toward” veils in a way that proves to me that veils cultivate desire; when I don’t believe shadows add an aesthetic “atmosphere” which matters, then I don’t allow there to be shadows to experience that atmosphere, and so indeed the atmosphere doesn’t exist. And so on: the “haunting” thought of Anselm is not merely a line of thought that only shapes theology.
Anselm teaches us that God is only approached in a mode of ascent (or else we are not approaching God), and though this sounds “convenient” for theology, what Anselm describes is not restricted to theology (which suggests this “move” in theology is not unjustified, even if ultimately theology is false). Hans Rookmaaker shows that we cannot “see” the values and ideas toward which art “points” unless we view the art with a “mode” that ascents to “higher dimensions” beyond what we see. Rookmaaker would have us understand that we never come even close to “getting” the art that we don’t try to “become”: we have to try, however imperfectly, to enter “the mind” of the artist and corresponding subjectivity (as if a “method actor,” we have to “become” the art(ist), as is the case when it comes to empathizing with people). Knowing art is like knowing people, and that requires a lot of time, focus, and attention, all of which will never occur unless we want to know people and believe they are worth knowing.
Jun’ichirō Tanizaki through In Praise of Shadows argues that we cannot “get” Japan unless we are willing to “observe” the shadow and the unique “atmosphere” it creates; David Hume argues that we cannot grasp how rationality is “conditioned” by “common life” unless we find it rational to consider the influences of “common life”; and so on. Relationships can be done “within them” or not at all; art can be grasped “accepting its worldview” or art will be mere sensation; “atmosphere” can be enjoyed “maintaining its conditionality” or “atmosphere” will be happenstance; belief in God can be done “on our knees” or we will not believe in God. The way we “refer” to reality is conditioned by us, which is relative to nonrational choices that come before rationality. Thus, Metaphysics always comes first, for “Metaphysics” is “how we refer to Physics,” which is “how Physics refers to Physics” (for we are Physically composed even if not reducible to Physics) — points elaborated on in the Conclusion of Part I of “(Re)constructing ‘A Is A’ ” by O.G. Rose.
God can only be disproved from our knees, Anselm taught, as the aura and beauty of shadows can only be “grasped” by someone who is genuinely open to them. The mind must be cleared to think, Anselm understood, as the mind must be clear of Western assumptions and Capitalistic consumerism to “receive” Japanese aesthetic and an understanding of why veils are important. (Also, as discussed throughout (Re)constructing “A Is A,” contemplation without meditation is likely thinking without truth and understanding without knowing: sources of “autonomous rationality.”)
It has been mentioned throughout O.G. Rose, but the key metaphor for Conditionalism is the image of a man with an open hand on which a bird is perched. Compared to a man with his hand clutched around the feet of the bird, the man with the open hand has a true relationship: certain conditions have been met so that the bird wants to say, and thus “something special” is now possible — a sight to be-hold. This feels more like a “poem,” a sight which cannot be fully captured in terms of labels or names, but something more. Additionally, to point ahead to a major topic that will be addressed later on, the state of “holding a bird with an open hand” points to a state of “intrinsic motivation,” which I will argue is a critical “ground of Conditionalism.” In our selves and in our relations, motivation needs to be nonconditional so that we realize conditions, for otherwise we won’t act unless certain conditions are met, which means we’ll be stuck. Belonging Again stresses the need for a balance between “givens” and “releases,” and “intrinsic motivation” is the “given” we need so that freedoms and “releases” do not existentially overwhelm us — but this is a topic which will be elaborated on at another time.
If we want a flower to grow, we must water it, remove nearby weeds, and make sure it receives sunlight — there are conditions which must be met. Likewise, if we want to “glimpse” the nature of reality, we must enter into relationships, pay attention to how our minds self-deceive us, and make sure we don’t rationalize — there are conditions which must be met. The most important truths “move,” and they often run right by us in a flash. We must pay attention to see how our brains “pull fast ones” on us, for example, or to “catch” that feeling when we just “knew” the sunset was there, that moment we stopped asking, “How do we know reality is real?” Conditionalism, “The Philosophy of Glimpses,” Aesthetic Epistemology — all of these are philosophical efforts that try to capture fleeting moments, like an artist capturing inspiration. Gödel taught us that complete systems are impossible, and we can view “inspiration” as what an artist can never locate “in his/her own work” that the work nevertheless requires. Similarly, “the glimpses” are what philosophers require that they can never create for themselves in their own systems. Systems must always be incomplete, but that just means we have to add another dimension to them: if 2D can’t be completed, we must incorporate in 3D, then 4D — on and on. The incompleteness of rationality and inescapability of “nonrationality” simply means we must incorporate truth, experience, beauty — on and on.
A condition for life is that we never stop living. For Conditionalism, “up-holding conditions” is a way to find meaning for our lives and to keep life alive. Mastering “the art of up-holding” itself is a point of life, a skill like cooking, gardening, or communicating. Learning how to balance light and darkness to create shadow, how to know someone just enough so that they feel known but also respected in their mystery, how to balance colors and shapes to “point to” something beyond the painting, how to approach gatherings and conversations to create an “atmosphere” that helps people feel at home, how to avoid temptations to “tear down veils” to satisfy curiosity and desire — all of this is an art-form worth mastering. This art will not be mastered if we only exercise and train our rational faculties, for “auras,” “atmospheres,” and the like are not graspable in exclusively rational terms: we will also need aesthetics, “nonrationality,” imagination, and other ways of knowing. Conditionalism, as unlocked through understanding the third ontological category of “lack,” employs us to open ourselves up to vast new horizons of thinking. Conditionalism is a philosophy of glimpses, structured by an aesthetic epistemology, and always “pointing” toward what is “(t)here.”
In closing, a philosophy we don’t have to “up-hold” is a philosophy that’s consistency risks being “inhuman” and even “cheap,” for it just “is” itself: the human element is secondary, accidental, and unnecessary. But a Conditional Philosophy that requires practice to maintain is a philosophy that could prove more likely to be beautiful to us, for it is “up-held” and in that way earned. Beauty and transience seem connected, and so if we want our philosophy to be beautiful, there seemingly must be a risk that we could lose it. But with practice, the threat of loss might prove a small price for all we gain.
¹For more, please see “The Philosophy of Lack” series with Cadell Last, Alex Ebert, O.G. Rose, and Tim Adalin.
²This example is taken from The Philosophy of Glimpses by Thomas Jockin, Javier Rivera, and O.G. Rose.
³See “Relativism as a Theology of Creatureliness. — James K.A. Smith — ‘Who’s Afraid of Relativism?’ ” as can be found here:
⁴Yes, if there was no Physics, there couldn’t be rocks, but if there was no Physics there wouldn’t be anything, but it’s completely possible there could be a universe without any Mind. In this way, I think Mind is more “contingent” than Physics, for Physics is “the realm of possibility” at all. If x is possible for anything to exist, there is perhaps a sense in which it is “contingent,” but I think “contingency” better applies to entities “within” that possibility of existence.
1. If a bird sits on my hand and doesn’t fly away, I own this bird more than if I clutched it around the feet and forced it to stay. But if a hawk swoops in to eat the bird, the conditions have changed, and I may clutch the bird to keep it safe. Conditionalism allows for such adjustment and it not be a betrayal. What in one circumstance can be cruel in another circumstance might be loving.
2. Plato associated art with “shadows of shadows” and so banned it, but Plato failed to appreciate how shadows can “condition” us to be Philosopher Kings.
3. “(Meta)physics” is “(art)form.”
4. Anselm’s “Ontological Argument” doesn’t work because it changes everything. As an argument which makes Theism “stand out” from Atheism, it fails, but as an argument which suggests the inescapability of Conditionalism for all worldviews, it works, which helps establish formal epistemic equality.
5. Rituals condition. A conditioned world is a different world.
6. There is something about the growth of options that robs us of the capacity to realize any of them, as there is something about prosperity that takes away from us the capacity to determine sufficiency. More examples could be made, but the point is that there is something about things which tend to extend themselves too far — stopping this “overextension” requires conditioning.
7. Architecture expresses Conditionalism.
8. It is hard for us to weep at the sight of a fallen tree that we’ve never seen before, but a tree we’ve seen since childhood and been conditioned by is different. And yet that tree can also become part of the background, “invisible.”
9. Why x shape is a symbol and not y shape is incredibly strange, and there are great efforts to explain the phenomenon in terms of deep presences in the subconscious mind which have gradually emerged through history (say in Jung). Perhaps there is truth to this, but regardless even that would suggest a role for Conditionality, for an object has to meet “certain conditions” to “active” the subconscious associations in the mind. If there are immaterial “forms” which make symbols possible, there still must be a material “correspondence” for those “forms” to come into play.
10. “Being” and “becoming” are loaded terms in philosophy, and no doubt I’ll always use them (along with “bringing”). However, the language of “condition” might be better than these classical ontological terms. It is said that we always have “being,” but this means we are always “conditioned,” and if we always “becoming,” we are always undergoing “conditioning.” We are in a condition and are conditioned by spacetime, all while we “undergo conditioning,” which is to say our conditions change through time, and in turn influence which conditions emerge and what kind of conditioning we undergo. I am conditioned (I have being); I condition myself (I become); and I condition (I bring being). Regardless the language we decide to use though, Conditionalism can incorporate either.
11. If everything is conditioned, everything is “an art,” which is to say “skill” is philosophically critical. “Thinking” has been primary, and certainly thinking matters, as do musicians in an orchestra, but the skill of the musicians is ultimately more important than the mere title or mere base ability to make an instrument. To rise to the challenge and possibility of Conditionalism, we must develop the skills for it, which I believe we can.
12. “Conditionalism” is proposed as an alternative to “relativism” that is more concrete and “toward” “objectivism” without being either one, but at the same time it should be acknowledged that Conditionalism entails relativistic elements. Where I suggest that “relativism is overcome” by Conditionalism, I mean in the sense that the relativism where “anything goes” is not on the table, that Conditionalism hopes to provide a way to take perspectivism and variety seriously without at the same time deconstructing all ways to establish something as “firm” or “in-deed true.”
13. Where the right characteristics are missing in Conditionalism, there is likely a | instead of a /, which means there is effacement versus negation/sublation. / can always become |.
14. Conditionalism necessitates the category of “nonrationality”: it is unimaginable without deconstructing the dichotomy between “rationality and irrationality.”
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