“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

The Ears, Eyes, and Mind of the Wor(l)d

What is language, and how did it evolve? The flurry of recent posts concerned with media ecology and the way the content of philosophical thinking depends upon the form in which it is expressed has redirected my attention to the significance of the Word. I think grammatically, which is to say that my alphabetic consciousness, whether text or hyper-text based, conforms to a preconscious regime of universally imposed rules of meaning. I cannot think but by assuming the meaningfulness of the public language given to me at birth. I cannot get beyond the givenness of this language in order to inspect its legitimacy. I can only explore it from within. Language has no outside. Truth, then, is a matter of coherence, rather than correspondence. Or at least philosophical thinking cannot begin but by having faith in the meaning-making capacity of its culturally inherited tongue.

Contra Brassier, intelligibility cannot be separated from meaning. Wisdom can be reached with logic, but logic itself originates in the songs of the mouth and the perception/passion of the h/ear/t. Science has telescoped vision and mathematized reason to reach distances divine in time, but it has not found chaos and disorder even at the edge of the universe. There, at the end of time as we know it, the scientific imagination witnesses the creation of space in itself. Mind you, this is not the creation of any thing in particular, but the creation of the very possibility of there being things at all. Scientific consciousness has now known its own conditions of possibility. Brassier believes this entails nihilism. He believes it despite his eliminativist ploy to elevate cognition beyond its contextual emergence out of “folk psychology,” or common sense. The fact is that our having come to see and to understand that our universe has a beginning in space-time is no demotion of the human being. The speculative claims of scientific investigation are still dependent upon the meaning of language (even if mathematical) and the sensuality of the body (even if technologically extended). Scientific cosmology is only disorienting if aesthetic participation in the phenomena it has revealed lags behind their cognitive theorization. Not only has human finitude been thought, it has been seen, and seen through! And what a sublime sight! We can witness the creation of our finite universe and know nonetheless that this universe is unbounded. Space is not inside of or given within a bigger space: it has no outside. Space is self-forming. The world is full of the Word.







One response to “The Ears, Eyes, and Mind of the Wor(l)d”

  1. CLains Avatar

    Oh, if you will allow me, I just have (!) to quote at length from this book by Arielle Saiber called “Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language” :

    “By peering through language’s skin recurring shapes of a geometric nature emerge, like the fractal branching of blood vessels or the bilateral symmetries of ribs and appendages. They are the sublime and the monstorous geometries building and maintaining the literary body …

    Nature’s patterns fill the world in which we live: the Fibonacci series of seed-packing in sunflowers and daisies, hexagonal beehives and snowflakes, the golden ratio of nautilus shell chamers, concentric circles on a disturbed lake, the perfekt sphere of a soap bubble. We imitate this geometry in our art, music and architecture, and express it in the symmetry of our own bodies. Geometry likewise lies beneath the content of our writing …

    To describe the world around him, its qualities and vicissitudes, Bruno forged a network of figurative vocabularies- of number, shape, space, and word- as if to say that no notational system on its own had the ability to represent the turths and infinitude of the universe in its entirety. The best possible understanding of the universe, Bruno would have us believe, only happens when these various systems are united.”

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