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highly minding
december 2011 / may 2012


being in Time

A balmy breeze through gigantic trees in a late autumn night is surprising. It voices a gentle grandeur of presence, probably the origin of notions of spirituality. I love the night, standing at the edge of a clearing in the Berkeley hills that views the vast Bay under a clear sky (pure black backgrounding the stars), a distant carpet of sparkling lights—San Francisco—on the other side of black water, left of the faint outline of the Golden Gate Bridge lights and, rightward, faint speckles around the base of the Marin headlands: Sausalito. I walk to this point nearly every evening and collect my thoughts, sometimes getting a good idea, yet always finding a sense of continuity in feeling a day’s closure.

Tennis courts are far to the left below. Manicured lawns of low-rise dorms are on the other side of a swimming pool below. It’s a happy place. A walkway is behind the pool, then tens of cement steps (where couples might be secreted, a lovely universe unto themselves) winding up the hill to another walkway leading to the field where I am.

“How’s it going in-and-for your time?” It’s funny to imagine the blank look I’d get from anyone I asked that to (annoyance from a couple), to whom it may concern (which would be no one—“Who cares?”). Life is beautiful here, as if the fate of humanity (young and old from nearby neighborhoods, e.g., retired faculty staying fit) is to just thrive and enjoy being. Privileged we are, it’s what we all want: thriving, flourishing, being highly alive. (A sporting view is allegorical of our nature.)

How’s It going in-and-for Our Time evolving? Who knows.

loving potentials of psychality

Feeling intensely arises easily for me, but it’s a lot of work to evince inwordly. An effort at this is likely called poetic (or perceived as a lame effort to be so) or “literary.” But the value of being there is easily shared.

The value of thinking intrinsically isn’t as easily shared, because the notion of intrinsic appeal may be elusive. To avow a mere love for thinking might be easier to share (i.e., having reliable presumption that you can “identify with” the value, if not the engagement).

Trees expressing balmy wind has intrinsic appeal. Perceiving broadly, valuing widely may have intrinsic appeal. Evinced intense feeling may belong there, too.

And you know my desire to balance inner- and outer-worldliness. You might not know my love of simply literal experience, as well as intuition.

Accordingly, a workable conception of highness (or highly minding) can be had as a synergy of personality modes in the Myers-Briggs personality model: a selfidentical intimacy of feeling and thinking through a synergy of perceiving and appreciating (valuing or judging), richly in touch with the “real” world and intuition, altogether betrothing outer- and inner-worldliness in one’s thriving, flourishing life (whereby one’s lifeworld, wholly embodied, embraces or figuratively contains or may transcend whatever model of wholly living).

To my mind, loving something, some understanding U (a philosophical view?)—loving U—is an endeavoring, active “thing,” rather than a state of being or attitude (or feeling), just as happiness is just partially about feeling. True happiness (I think) includes meaningfulness and fulfilling engagement, as well as happy feeling. Loving U, let’s say, is pursuit of—and fidelity to—orienting (and sustaining) oneself relative to the appeal of U.

I may understand individuation (integrative developing of oneself) as loving enrichment of one’s conception of living. In elations of solitude, I’m loving to express a self-enhancive scale of mind—a conceptual horizon, a Conception of minding—which will be gradually articulated in terms of readings online. I have a grand array of texts to know for my conceptual garden. So, loving high mindedness (through that of others) will grow to be quite specific in my own way. Whatever usefulness might come of that, it all at least expresses a shared value—a high value (Value, capped)—of loving to learn, which comes with birth and deserves to endlessly thrive.

The pleasure of such loving makes me not mind going it alone. It’s not egoistic; it’s a love of minding my own being as well as possible—as fruitfully and as happily as possible. Ultimately, I’m loving my humanity which is also ours, though likely interesting to few. It’s loving a conception of Our humanity where the “Our” gradually defines itself bibliophilically. Love that! Can one imagine engaging oneSelf in a manifold ideality of our growing humanity? Why not go for it—lovers on steps, in grasses, atop hills—go as well as you can, given time? Of course.

Easy enough is understanding and exemplifying how lives may flourish, in terms of aspiring to actualize one’s potential in a durable happiness. Generally, this expresses integral human interest or our nature, which is my long-term interest: conceiving (and articulating) a sense of human nature that’s philosophically comprehensive (and beyond essentialist metaphysicalism). An aspiring sense of high humanity can be realistic, caring, and fair. A good conceptuality of that would probably seem more “literary” than especially “philosophical,” but my prevailing interest is [to be] conceptually well formed (i.e., rigorously coherent—but I have an aversion to the term ‘rigorous,’ which reminds me of mathematical logic, which I got very involved with as an undergraduate and lost interest in). One can use philosophically non-standard terms with highly formal care without formalism. (That was an aspiration of the mid-century American trend of pragmatism called “Ordinary Language Philosophy,” which has, I think, remained implicit to much contemporary American philosophy, much of which is at least implicitly pragmatic in spirit or ethos.) Though it’s specious to expect to wholly comprehend our evolving humanity, it’s edifying—even useful—to venture toward such a horizon, as so much would be found along the way. In proffering an enhancement of humanity, one may (with proper humility) at least advance self enhancement fruitfully, even (for others) usefully. Weaving my selfidentity into a love of enhancing humanity (including the overtone of humanity enhancing itself through universalistic high culture) is no vanity. It’s just [to be] well-read, idealistic fun.

Humanity is evolving incredibly, but Really. Leading adults of several hundred years ago easily seem like mental children, relative to academia today. It’s easy to presume that We are children of an incomprehensible future only a few centuries away. Will lives commonly last hundreds of years? (Then how are we to shape the aspirations and capabilities of our lives to keep life fulfilling and meaningful and fun for so long?) Will genetic engineering allow all children to be born highly intelligent? (What synergies of inquirial intelligence might become possible in concert with the incomprehensibly efficient planetary hyperNet?) Will we learn to terraform Mars? Move Venus toward Earth and terraform it next? Eventually, really, intelligent life must leave the gravity of the Sun (which will eventually inflate, vaporizing the Earth); yet, by then, intelligent “life” here won’t be biogenically based.

[Note that, beginning above, I had this—directly above—kind of mindfulness when I sentimentally started the page. That was a stance toward proximal dwelling.]

Silly imaginability easily becomes profound aspiration, as we evo-devo beings may at best prospect a dev-evo Inner Child of humanity. Philosophy as conceptual prospecting in actual lives flourishing might fruitfully trope prospects Of Our flourishing; i.e., at best exemplifying evolvability in expressed flourishing: Flourishing. Conceptual prospecting can express a Value of cohering conceptions of aspiring mind, ethics, epistemology, and other modes of standardly-“philosophical” inquiry that conceives philosophy as, at best, highly conceptual inquiry into our evolving (especially as highly conceptual prospecting of our evolvability—which has nothing to do with metaphysicalism).

phenomenology as psychalanalysis of archetypal conceptuality

I may seem to be completely changing the subject now, but I’m really not, you’ll see; bear with me.

Archetypal interest in Analytical Psychology (or the archetypal psychoanalyst—“AP” below) is concerned with implicit implicatures in self representing that echo literary history (like turning a sense of “loaded words” into dramaturgical depths). Like classical psychoanalysis, the AP finds the client showing a background Self as well-dressed presentness unwittingly performing nudely, so to speak—showing a presence (or presencing, an English Heidegger would say) differently than one’s self presentation. Beyond Freudian (Oedipal) conceptions of unconscious self display, an array of little anomalies in self presentation gradually (over many sessions) gravitate for the AP (the neo-Jungian hermeneut) toward various literary kinds of coherent scenario or conception of Self or fabulous sense of the world that echo historical figurations (e.g., the tragedy of Tristan and Isolde, which distantly echos the Egyptian story of the incestuous siblings Osiris and Isis, so countered by the Adamic Garden story, which I have played against shamelessly).

Beyond neo-Jungianism, such coherences may have evolutionary-psychological correlates (e.g., the bioanthropology of “mating minds,” which has become popular recently). One might call this deep trOpical psychology. Psychological archetypes are emergent characters-in-scripts that are historically (though non-consciously) inherited. (A playful philosophical thought: Derridean deconstruction is a kind of conceptual undressing—sublimely beyond “critique.”)

Freudian psychoanalysis was the beginning of that kind of psychological inquiry (but as supplement to therapeutic goals)—the 19th century Oedipal story is archetypal—though the naturalistic pretenses of his metapsychology constrained its phenomenological potential. C.G. Jung carried the interest much further. Cognitive-developmental psychology and literary theory appropriated this psychal-phenomenological interest during the mid-to-late 20th century (e.g., development stage typicalities; psychoanalytical literary criticism finding grand psychology in canonical literature or Literature). “Literary Darwinism” and “evolutionary psychology” express kindred spirits biogenically. Also, understanding the conceptuality of “depth psychology” as phenomenology relates importantly, I think, to an embodied sense of what so-called “existential phenomenology” conceptually sought to comprehend (the existential complements of metaphysicalism, which is a scientized depth psychology of reality). For a short while, there was an approach to professional psychotherapeutics called “Daseinanalysis.” My point (up the road) would be that a science of “Mind” has been credible across academic specialties (an interdomainal hybridity), evolving toward contemporary cognitivist studies, which are broadly (and deeply) applicable for developing senses of discursive consilience.

Ironically, philosophical phenomenology (in the Husserlian tradition) was premised on a critique of psychologism, but was a conceptual psychology that thought it was more than that (i.e., ontologically securable—but was a metaphysicalism outgrown in evolving cognitive science, as I’ve sketched in my eccentric way). Philosophical phenomenology’s motivating sense of psychology was against early efforts to distinguish a scientific philosophy of mind (as “psychology”) from a relatively re-conceived sense of “philosophy” as such (i.e., philosophy was to be understood no longer concerned with what scientific psychology could, presumably, better apprehend). Early psychology was experimental philosophy, in terms of the science of its day (though motivation to develop a psychology traces back to Christian concern for one’s “soul”). As the psychology of philosophy was originally in bed with the philosophy of mind (from classical Greeks onward), there remained (I would argue) a resonance of conceptual archetypy (i.e., metaphysicalism) in 20th century philosophy.

Classical metaphysics was really a venture in conceptually-archetypal psychology (an alchemy) that thought it could become as scientific as physics. At our near end of conceptual evolving (early 21st century), it’s still fruitful (and philosophically appropriate) to analyze conceptual pretenses psychal-historically (archetypally) and, ultimately, as part of our evolving. (I’m associating to work that believes it’s doing something “ontological” when really it’s archetypal.) Philosophical analysis remains constructive as deconstruction of conceptuality in our evolving (i.e., conceptuality as part of evolving comprehensibility).

Classically, conceptuality was Originist; i.e., All unfolds like a flower from a self-sufficient Beginning, and extant structure traces back to that which explains innately. Presumably, the better that one can comprehend the Origin, the better that one can have predictability (like with Newtonian physics). A keynote of Originism is that life moves from its Past into its Future which is prevalently a product of the Past. Accordingly, ancestry and legacy are more important than heirs and prospects. Geneticism works (the story goes). Human reality is, so to speak, Pastal rather than Futural (ditto).

But senses of the Past are always constructions relative to a later stance that never is shown to have been predicted by the Past. Besides, interest in the Past is always relative to interests going forward. Indeed the deeply psychological appeal of Originism is that a promise for the future that we are living into seems implicit to what we’ve already lived, such that hope can be instilled [again] or secured through memory and retrospective mindfulness (a temporally archetypal sense of being wholly mindful) about our richness of being—but that we already always are (thank God), rather than being always anewable potentials (which, by the way, echoes an archetypal difference between Mosaic/Catholic religion and humanistic teachings of Jesus—not that my natural sense of philosophy implies high interest in theistic archetypy).

Futures are more appealing to construct than to construct Pasts, as interests are primarily oriented by prospects and potentials (I would argue—have argued—as we’re born anticipating, imagining, and desiring). Appeals, aspirations, and prospects prevail for thriving, creative, flourishing lives that everyone most admires. Along with what we make, what comes to pass emerges from ultimately inestimable landscapes of possibility. Thriving lives are primordially futural, as is biological legacy in genomes, parental interest in grandchildren, deficit spending, seasons of the Earth, and healthy intelligence which intrinsically desires self-enhancement. Though we should outgrow expectations of perfectibility, the appeal is intrinsic and has generative validity (or appellant efficacy). We are not perfectible, of course; but we are likely more capable than we presume, and that’s more appealing to flourishing lives than is remembrance (which is delicious, the more so with more years to recall). The radiant gravity is no God, but we are children of light (eonic Earth perfectly sized and placed relative to the sun). Ideas of Heaven were intuitions of primordial potential (“perfectible”—i.e., generative— futurity) in our evolving.

So, senses of “being” (living, flourishing) and “reality” can be educively handy for prospective, educational, and therapeutic work without a lot of pretense. Indeed, the two make sweet complements: Pragmatically associate ‘being’ with existential phenomena and ‘reality’ with objectivist phenomena, rather than regarding the terms as synonyms. Yet both being and reality (pragmatically defined) are phenomenal meanings. Inner complements outer, intangible and tangible, psychality and that which draws psychality on. Reliable intuition—which is a gradually-emergent gift of experience—draws on senses of both.

Empirical knowledge—which is a formally-derived product of significant degrees of information—is not about “reality” as we experience it. Empirical knowledge about what we phenomenally comprehend is a scientific sense of [lived] reality. But science is also about so much that we can’t experience, which calls for senses of “realism” that are strictly inferential, motivated by experiential confidence that “reality” should be that which is “universally” certifiable as the case, i.e., as “objective” or factual (read: technically efficacious). Scientific efficacy draws the lived meaning of factuality into systemically powerful conceptions of practical efficacy, thereby seeming more pertinent to what we want from “factuality” than what enactionally-technical (or experience-based, experiential) objectivism can provide. But conceptions of factuality derive from lived objectivity for practical efficacy, which is phenomenally based in enactional efficacy (or reliability), addressed by “epistemic reliabilism.” Scientificity of that is a formal extension of being realistic in our lives fruitfully.

Another felicitous term is ‘Being’ (capped) used as a disposition toward experiential holism in the widest and/or deepest conceivable (or relevant) sense. Being thereby implies attention to the scalarity or depth-horizonality of beings altogether considered. I have no desire to be more pretentious with ‘Being’. The capped term is useful.

If one finds useful a clarifable distinction between proximal and primordial understanding (I do), then I would put both ‘being’ and ‘Being’ on the proximal side of the difference. Being, for me, pertains to a high holism of comprehension (without metaphysicalist pretense). But I tend to stay away from the term, due to its political (i.e., ontotheological) legacy in Western metaphysicalism.

I’ll leave attention to “Being” behind for my interest in comprehensive comprehension or conceptual Comprehending through conceptual prospecting. Instead, I would stay with terms belonging to specific ventures (e.g., Comprehending our “nature” in terms of the conceptuality or comprehensibility of that inquiry). The fundamental terms of integrative ventures with arrays of key concepts—thematological venturing—can be enough to sustain the generativity of the venture and provide enough promise of fruitful or evocative hybridities (i.e., new conceptual sites) that further venturing can make fruitful in their own terms.

So, I don’t imagine some substantial Humanness for my interest in prospecting our evolutionary, developmental, and evolving nature—except in terms of human intelligence theorizing itself and conceptually prospecting futures, which it is our nature to sometimes long to do (which is why philosophy began and why there is cognitive science and Literary theory—and all the complex prospects of pure science). I find our nature in the Flourishing of that, which any one inquirer comprehends only partially (if not presumptuously). Beyond any metaphysicalism of Human Nature, there are really living potentials for very good lives that may bond fruitfully with ventures of highly minding our humanity (or minding high humanity). I would argue that there’s a possibly devo-evo efficacy (or micro-evolutionary efficacy—micro-“evolving” as a transitive notion) in validly “ontological” claims. As I’ve said often (in various ways), issues of Our evolving antedate “the” question of “Being”.

But the rhetoric of ontological pretense is fascinating to me—for conceptually archetypal (“phenomenological”) analysis. Likely, a background evolutionary (evo-devo) relativity of our conceptuality can be shown to prevail in standardly-“ontological” claims.

“Ontology” is not validly about structure (or function); that’s ontic. Credible ontological claims are about the way constituting goes. Maybe a good way to get a sense of real “ontology”—not that the following makes obvious sense (work to do!)—is to venture a high conceptuality (evo-dev-evo) of Ontogeny in conceptual consilience—as if “the” Inner Child of Humanity is Individuating through discursive, philosophical, conceptual inquiry.

Professionally philosophical metaphysics is about the conceptuality of scientific reasoning. To talk of physical ontology—what I call ontophysics—is to talk about the “realism” of premises in physical theories, which are mathematically conceived.

It’s amazing that the universe (at least in the anthropic sense of the Hubble Volume that we can observe) is uniformly (“universally”) mathematizable. It’s amazing, but only relatively so, since other universes with alternative physics (inaccessible from our universe) which don’t result in stars (thus don’t possibly evolve a mathematizing form of life) may be the common result of other Big Bangs causing other universes that also wane into nothingness after several trillion years.

Who knows, kids. Figure out for us all you can. There’s no promise of immortality, just more intelligent fun (which may be why the E.T.s—the real gods, so far unintelligible to Us—don’t bother to contact, dont grant us Contact Competence, yet).

This is the last section of “philosophy of ‘mind’.” Next for the “autotelic mind” project: a “selformativity of Self.”


  Be fair. © 2017, gary e. davis