The attraction of pan-dialectics

Call a reasoning dialectical when it bases knowledge on objects that owe their existence to the human mind and choice: objects like measurements, models, idealizations, numeral systems (as opposed to just numbers), etc. Voilà, science is dialectical. So what?

To owe existence to the human mind is opposed to what exists. What owes its existence to the human mind might either exist or not, but the same cannot be said of what exists. Don’t get hung up on the language: we’re only speaking about the experience of thinking about X and recognizing that it doesn’t need to be real just because we can think about it. But the foundation of the dialectical is exactly the X-ness of X.

Objection: but all knowledge is based on things that owe their existence to the human mind and choice: we think with words, that are formed by agreement just as much as meters or base-10 numeral systems, and we can’t think without concepts, which certainly owe their existence to a mind.

Response: To use something to know is not the same as to make it an object of knowledge. An object of knowledge, for our present purposes, is something that must be known about Z in order to do Z-ology. But scientific units, for example, are given in conventional units like meters and base-10 numeral systems and must be known in order to pursue the various disciplines of study.

But the basic answer is simpler: concepts aren’t results or things owing existence to the mind, they just are the mind in actual operation. In the measure that words are taken as mere signs of this operation, they are also mind in operation. The word also has a social and material component to it, but we only focus here on the unique element in it that can be considered as nothing but mind in operation. Example: both the skill of making and a cabinet belong to craftsman, but the first is simply his being a craftsman, the second something that owes its existence to him. What we say about “the skill of making” extends to the tools used (which is why we can say both the carpenter and his hammer drive in a nail).

Objection: But measurements, models, etc. all take part in the concept as much as words do, so they too are just expressions of the mind.

Response: This is plainly false. Meters can be put up next to the things they measure. Things that register force can be forced. Clocks are in time. But it is meaningless to speak of R-O-S-E being put up next to the red flower in my back garden. The two things do not interact.  Similar considerations apply to models, even models in thought: each part has to correspond with some real part in the thing they are modeling. Numeral systems have to have as many divisions as the things they strive to number. Words are properly tools of mind and must correspond to its needs and exigencies. Words interact with the concept, that is, the mind in action or at work, and in this sense just are the mind at work, even though there is also an element in the word distinct from this.

As soon as one sees language as nothing but a product of mind or the result of some agreement of language users, then all reasoning will be dialectical. Nothing will keep this from infecting with is thought about the concept: which will itself become a product of mind and not mind in action or at work. As a result, mind itself will become absolutely and utterly empty – a complete cipher that is nothing of itself but makes all to be known and to be by its free creation out of its nothingness. To be known or even knowable can only be to owe ones existence to the human mind.

This possibility of pure creation – which is in fact divinization without the need of God – is the magnet that attracts us to making all things dialectical or scientific, and the human mind in its present state must be fascinated and horrified by its attraction to it.

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