Ratcheting up the subjectivity of knowledge

Any sensation is pleasant, but the pleasure is not an object nor a feature of the thing sensed taken by itself.

You taste an apple but you know the taste isn’t in it.

You walk into a room and put one and on a cloth couch and another on a granite coffee table. The coffee table is “cooler”, though everything in the room is the same temperature. It’s cooler when you walk into an air-conditioned room than after you’ve been there for two minutes.

You see something pink, then get closer and see it is red and white squares. Would it be “real” pink if you made the squares small enough? Bees (under UV light) see sunflower petals as having two colors. We see one. Who is right?

It is hard or soft only relative to strength. A chickadee experiences an ankle-thread like we experience steel leg irons, a newspaper could crush an insect in a single light stroke, spider webs are as fatal as tar pits in the insect world.

The same applies to large and small, which Aristotle knew were subjective too.

Aristotle again: rough and smooth are subjective, for they relate to the arrangement of parts relative to us. But shape is an arrangement of parts too.

The unity of motion over time is essentially depended on the memory of the subject; but motion is a unity over time.

Bees and men see things under different lights, and neither light is the true one. What is the basis for the truth of waking experience as opposed to dreams?

Huxley: no one mode of subjectivity has any intrinsic value over another. Chemically altered consciousness is no better or worse than “standard” consciousness. Each has it benefits and limitations.

Melancholia is now depression – but it has always been allied with genius and great art. Who then can call it a disease? It has value in some contexts and not in others. I celebrate my disease.

If we can celebrate disease, why not deviancy?


  1. Peter said,

    August 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Do you have any good references with regard to the link between meloncholia and artistic greatness? (As a meloncholic artist, my opinion is that both are due to very deeply rooted pride. Great artistic work and meloncholy are united in a person because he nearly always thinks the things related to him should be and deserve to be greater than they are: both in his life (so he is depressed that things aren’t better) and in his work (so he strives even to the point of unreasonableness to improve it; also because he desires to be admired by its greatness). It might result in some amazingly refined and profound works, yet he will be a prideful and joyless person. This is probably why there are so few saints who are also great artists.)

    • Peter said,

      August 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      There is a book that discusses meloncholia from a relatively modern Catholic psychological perspective: Self Improvement by Rudolph Allers. I know I have a copy of it around somewhere. I remember being very impressed with his insights. Unfortunately I don’t think I improved….

  2. RP said,

    August 27, 2011 at 4:06 am

    “Any sensation is pleasant” Only a young man can say this. Wait until you are old and gray. Then, every sensation is painful, even “the light of my eyes is not with me”.

    “taste is not in the apple” Then why does it taste differently from an orange? or a stone? Even the ducks from the pond will fight each other for the bread I toss them rather than eat bugs and worms all the time.

    • August 27, 2011 at 4:46 am

      Pleasant or painful would show the same thing.

      “Then why does it taste differently from an orange?”… For the same reason is tastes pleasant or painful! All sorts of animals eat filthy things, which would count as evidence that the things don’t taste filthy to them.

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