Category Archives: Etymology

Videre

Several years ago, I did an etymology post on specere words. Here is Part Two, another species of seeing/envisioning words, a branch derived from videre.

Vision – ORIGIN Middle English (denoting a supernatural apparition): via Old French from Latin visio(n-), from videre ‘to see.’

Visual – ORIGIN late Middle English (originally describing a beam imagined to proceed from the eye and make vision possible): from late Latin visualis, from Latin visus ‘sight,’ from videre ‘to see.’

Advise – ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French aviser, based on Latin ad– ‘to’ + visere, frequentative of videre ‘to see.’ The original senses included ‘look at’ and ‘consider,’ hence ‘consider jointly, consult with others.’

Wisdom – ORIGIN Old English wis, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wijs and German weise, also to wit

Wit – ORIGIN Old English witan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch weten and German wissen, from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit veda ‘knowledge’ and Latin videre ‘see.’

 

Evert

Announcing an exciting new vocabulary acquisition: evert. I have needed this word many times, but had to resort to flipping, reversing, inverting, turning… inside-out.

Evert – verb [ with obj. ]
Turn (a structure or organ) outward or inside out: (as adj. everted) : the characteristic facial appearance of full, often everted lips.
DERIVATIVES
eversible – adjective.
eversion –  noun
ORIGIN mid 16th cent. (in the sense ‘upset, overthrow’): from Latin evertere, from e- (variant of ex-) ‘out’ + vertere ‘to turn.’


Now I can say things like:

  • Everything in the world is the world everted.
  • A comedy is an everted tragedy. A tragedy is an everted comedy.
  • A pearl is an everted oyster shell. An oyster coats the ocean with mother-of-pearl. Outside the shell is ocean, inside the pearl is ocean. Between inner-shell and outer-pearl is slimy oyster-flesh, which ceaselessly coats everything it isn’t with mother-of-pearl. It is as if the flesh cannot stand anything that does not have a smooth, continuous and lustrous surface. We could call the flesh’s Other — that which requires coating — “father-of-pearl”.
  • Imagine Pandora’s box as a pearl everting to an all-ensconcing shell as Pandora opened it, and Eden as an all-ensconcing shell everted to a pearl upon Adam’s eviction.
  • An object is an everted subject.

Circuits

Intersubjectivity is conducted through the medium of things.

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I and You runs a circuit through It.

Are things otherwise?: I is short-circuiting, again.

An indicator of a closed circuit: intense heat.

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Circuit – ORIGIN late Middle English: via Old French from Latin circuitus, from circuire, variant of circumire ‘go around,’ from circum ‘around’ + ire ‘go.’

(It is interesting to think of the circuit as primarily the movement, not the substance that enables the movement.)

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Laurie Anderson’s “Closed Circuit”

 

Design rhapsody

To design — to “de-” apart + “-sign” t0 seal or mark…

— to set a thing apart and and assign it a significance…

— to define the boundaries of some reality, to extract it from the surrounding chaos and to let its reality stand in the foreground against a background, and to let it be for itself and for us…

— to separate parts within a whole, give them joints, in such a way that a sequential encounter of part-by-part allows the whole to emerge spontaneously like the meaning of a sentence emerges word-by-word without need of grammatical analysis — that is, to articulate in every sense of the word…

— to invite things to participate in human life, to embrace their inhumanity by allowing them to speak in the conversation of craft, to learn the full truth of their existence so they collaborate with us to embody a significance…

— to designify, assign designificance, apart and special.

It is good to design, and this is a good time to be a designer.

)O+

Gives me pause

This post poses a question regarding the relationship between posing and positing. It is interesting to me that we pose questions, but posit assertions. Situations can pose problems. We keep people posted on what is happening, particularly about these problematic situations.

It appears that this family of words revolves around two centers of gravity, split from an original root, “ponere“, translated as ‘to place’ or ‘to show off.’ pausare ‘to pause’ and Latin positura ‘position,’ from posit– ‘placed’, almost a complementary negative/positive pair, with pausare being a momentary cessation of movement — a stop-motion or freeze-frame for catching a whirling problem in the act of being problematic — and positura being a positive movement of putting a thing forth.

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An eymological exposition of ponere words:

Pose – ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French poser (verb), from late Latin pausare ‘to pause,’ which replaced Latin ponere ‘to show off.’ The noun dates from the early 19th cent.

Posit – ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Latin posit– ‘placed,’ from the verb ponere.

Position – ORIGIN late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin positio(n-), from ponere ‘to place.’ The current sense of the verb dates from the early 19th cent.

Posture – ORIGIN late 16th cent. (denoting the relative position of one thing to another): from French, from Italian postura, from Latin positura ‘position,’ from posit– ‘placed,’ from the verb ponere .

Suppose – ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French supposer, from Latin supponere (from sub– ‘from below’ + ponere ‘to place’), but influenced by Latin suppositus ‘set under’ and Old French poser ‘to place.’

Impose – ORIGIN late 15th cent. (in the sense ‘impute’): from French imposer, from Latin imponere ‘inflict, deceive’ (from in– ‘in, upon’ + ponere ‘put’), but influenced by impositus ‘inflicted’ and Old French poser ‘to place.’

Expose – ORIGIN late Middle English: from Old French exposer, from Latin exponere (see expound), but influenced by Latin expositus ‘put or set out’ and Old French poser ‘to place.’

Repose – ORIGIN late Middle English: from Old French repos (noun), reposer (verb), from late Latin repausare, from re– (expressing intensive force) + pausare ‘to pause.’

Positive – ORIGIN late Middle English: from Old French positif, –ive or Latin positivus, from posit– ‘placed,’ from the verb ponere. The original sense referred to laws as being formally ‘laid down,’ which gave rise to the sense ‘explicitly laid down and admitting no question,’ hence ‘very sure, convinced.’

Challenges vs. problems

Examining the etymologies of the words, it is strange that we use the word “challenge” as a euphemism for “problem”.

Challenge: ORIGIN Middle English (in the senses ‘accusation’ and ‘accuse’): from Old French chalenge (noun), chalenger (verb), from Latin calumnia ‘calumny,’ calumniari ‘calumniate.’

Problem: ORIGIN late Middle English (originally denoting a riddle or a question for academic discussion): from Old French probleme, via Latin from Greek probl?ma, from proballein ‘put forth,’ from pro ‘before’ + ballein ‘to throw.’

Canny vs uncanny

Uncanny – 1590s, “mischievous;” 1773 in the sense of “associated with the supernatural,” originally Scottish and northern English, from un– (1) “not” + canny.

Canny – 1630s, Scottish and northern England formation from can (v.) in its sense of “know how to;” lit. “knowing,” hence, “careful.” Often used superciliously of Scots by their southern neighbors, implying “thrift and an eye to the main chance.”

(From the Online Etymology Dictionary.)

The Oxford dictionary defines canny as “having or showing shrewdness and good judgment, especially in money or business matters” and Scottish & Northern English “pleasant; nice: ‘she’s a canny lass.'”

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I nominate uncanny/canny for the office of Most Fundamental Ontological Category. The canny represents the principle of savvy niceness; the uncanny, occult weirdness.

Centri-

Centripetalcentripetus, from Latin centrum (see center) + –petus ‘seeking’ (from petere ‘seek’).

Centrifugalcentrifugus, from Latin centrum (see center) + –fugus ‘fleeing’ (from fugere ‘flee’).

Center – from Latin centrum, , from Greek kentron ‘sharp point, stationary point of a pair of compasses,’ related to kentein ‘to prick.’

 

Specere

Special – ORIGIN Middle English: shortening of Old French especial ‘especial’ or Latin specialis, from species ‘appearance’; literally ‘appearance, form, beauty,’ from specere ‘to look.’

Respect – ORIGIN late Middle English: from Latin respectus, from the verb respicere ‘look back at, regard,’ from re– ‘back’ + specere ‘look at.’

Inspect – ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from Latin inspect– ‘looked into, examined,’ from the verb inspicere (from in- ‘in’ + specere ‘look at’), or from its frequentative, inspectare.

Circumspect – ORIGIN late Middle English: from Latin circumspectus, from circumspicere ‘look around,’ from circum ‘around, about’ + specere ‘look.’

Suspect – ORIGIN Middle English (originally as an adjective): from Latin suspectus ‘mistrusted,’ past participle of suspicere, from sub- ‘from below’ + specere ‘to look.’

Despise – ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French despire, from Latin despicere, from de– ‘down’ + specere ‘look at.’

Continue reading Specere

Author etymologies

Actor – ORIGIN late Middle English (originally denoting an agent or administrator): from Latin, ‘doer, actor,’ from agere ‘do, act.’ The theater sense dates from the 16th cent.

Author – ORIGIN Middle English (in the sense ‘a person who invents or causes something’): from Old French autor, from Latin auctor, from augere ‘increase, originate, promote.’ The spelling with th arose in the 15th cent., and perhaps became established under the influence of authentic.

Authentic – ORIGIN late Middle English: via Old French from late Latin authenticus, from Greek authentikos ‘principal, genuine.’

Authority – ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French autorite, from Latin auctoritas, from auctor ‘originator, promoter.’

Then there’s the word augur. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary:

…augur, a religious official in ancient Rome who foretold events by interpreting omens, perhaps originally meaning “an increase in crops enacted in ritual,” in which case it probably is from Old L. augos (gen. augeris) “increase,” and is related to augere “increase” (see augment). The more popular theory is that it is from L. avis “bird,” since the flights, singing, and feeding of birds, along with entrails from bird sacrifices, were important objects of divination (cf. auspicious). In that case, the second element would be from garrire “to talk.” The verb is c.1600, from the noun.

 

 

Intuitions and insights

Intuit: from the Latin verb intueri, from in- ‘upon’ + tueri ‘to look.’

“In-” = upon? Does that mean intuition is a synoptic sense? A superficial grok of a whole?

A question: What is the precise relationship between an intuition and an insight? Are either of these words precise enough for such a comparison?

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Jung primed me for this question: he distinguished between an introverted intuition and an extraverted intuition.

 

Thoughts on double meanings

I’m thinking out loud here, so please forgive the tedium and unclarity. I’m also traveling, and that always messes me up pretty seriously. Just to get these thoughts out, I’m saying what comes to mind and not worrying excessively over how much sense I’m making much less how persuasive I’m being. So there’s even less reason to read this post than there usually is, so I encourage my nonexistent readership to ignore this post with redoubled nonawareness of its existence.

I just finished Ricoeur’s essay “The Problem of Double Meaning” from Conflict of Interpretations and this is my attempt to digest the material. Here is (in slightly streamlined form) the conclusion of the essay:

It seems to me that the conquest of this deliberately and radically analytic level allows us to better understand the relations between the three strategic levels which we have successively occupied. We worked first as exegetes with vast units of discourse, with texts, then as lexical semanticians with the meaning of words, i.e., with names, and then as structural semanticians with semic constellations. Our change of level has not been in vain; it marks an increase in rigor and, if I may say so, in scientific method. … It would be false to say that we have eliminated symbolism; rather, it has ceased to be an enigma, a fascinating and possibly mystifying reality, to the extent that it invites a twofold explanation. It is first of all situated in relation to multiple meaning, which is a question of lexemes and thus of language. In this respect, symbolism in itself possesses nothing remarkable; all words used in ordinary language have more than one meaning. … Thus the illusion that the symbol must be an enigma at the level of words vanishes; instead, the possibility of symbolism is rooted in a function common to all words, in a universal function of language, namely, the ability of lexemes to develop contextual variations. But symbolism is related to discourse in another way as well: it is in discourse and nowhere else that equivocalness exists. Discourse thus constitutes a particular meaning effect: planned ambiguity is the work of certain contexts and, we can now say, of texts, which construct a certain isotopy in order to suggest another isotopy. The transfer of meaning, the metaphor (in the etymological sense of the word), appears again, but this time as a change of isotopy, as the play of multiple, concurrent, superimposed isotopies. [See comment 1 below] The notion of isotopy has thus allowed us to assign the place of metaphor in language with greater precision than (lid the notion of the axis of substitutions…

But then, I ask you, does the philosopher not find his stake in the question at the end of this journey? Can he not legitimately ask why in certain cases discourse cultivates ambiguity? The philosopher’s question can be made more precise: ambiguity, to do what? Or rather, to say what? [See comment 2 below] We are brought back to the essential point here: the closed state of the linguistic universe. To the extent that we delved into the density of language, moved away from its level of manifestation, and progressed toward sublexical units of meaning — to this very extent we realized the closed state of language. [See comment 3 below] The units of meaning elicited by structural analysis signify nothing; they are only combinatory possibilities. They say nothing; they conjoin and disjoin.

There are, then, two ways of accounting for symbolism: by means of what constitutes it and by means of what it attempts to say. What constitutes it demands a structural analysis, and this structural analysis dissipates the “marvel” of symbolism. That is its function and, I would venture to say, its mission; symbolism works with the resources of all language, which in themselves have no mystery.

As for what symbolism attempts to say, this cannot be taught by a structural linguistics; in the coming and going between analysis and synthesis, the going is not the same as the coming. On the return path a problematic emerges which analysis has progressively eliminated. Ruyer has termed it “expressivity,” not in the sense of expressing emotion, that is, in the sense in which the speaker expresses himself, but in the sense in which language expresses something, says something. The emergence of expressivity is conveyed by the heterogeneity between the level of discourse, or level of manifestation, and the level of language, or level of immanence, which alone is accessible to analysis. Lexemes do not exist only for the analysis of semic constellations but also for the synthesis of units of meaning which are understood immediately. [See comment 4 below]

It is perhaps the emergence of expressivity which constitutes the marvel of language. Greimas puts it very well: “There is perhaps a mystery of language, and this is a question for philosophy; there is no mystery in language.” [See comment 5 below.] I think we too can say that there is no mystery in language; the most poetic, the most “sacred,” symbolism works with the same semic variables as the most banal word in the dictionary. But there is a mystery of language, namely, that language speaks, says something, says something about being. If there is an enigma of symbolism, it resides wholly on the level of manifestation, where the equivocalness of being is spoken in the equivocalness of discourse.

Is not philosophy’s task then to ceaselessly reopen, toward the being which is expressed, this discourse which linguistics, due to its method, never ceases to confine within the closed universe of signs and within the purely internal play of their mutual relations?

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COMMENTS:

  1. This accounts for why many Nietzsche scholars miss Nietzsche’s most interesting philosophizing. They discover a single isotopy, which works at the sea-level level of explicit assertions, and they fail to notice the layers of isotopy beneath the argumentation, despite numerous explicit assertions that these levels do exist and ought to be sought.
  2. This is a fascinating question, and it connects directly with why I began to study hermeneutics. I didn’t know how to think about the kind of truth experienced through understanding of symbols.

    The understanding of symbolic works depends entirely on a reader’s ability to recognize in a symbolic form an analogous form which is indicated obliquely. The reasons for oblique indication are numerous, but the most compelling reason is sheer impossibility of direct expression, which means they refer to what we call radically subjective experience. The subjective experiences I’ve encountered are sometimes unprecedented emotional states, a sense of concealed possibility, novel intellectual “moves” (dance imagery is frequently used), and metaphysical noumena of various kinds (which I am reducing to “experiences of”, or what a friend of mine calls “exophany”, but in the spirit of phenomenological method, which means to defy reductionism: I find disbelief and comprehension of metaphysical reality equally impossible.).

    The effectiveness of radically subjective symbols presupposes the existence of subjective experiences the symbols indicate. A peculiarity of many of these experiences is their utter ephemerality. It appears they are remembered very differently from objective facts, over which we have a higher degree of command, and therefore can prefer to such a degree that we wish to deny the existence of anything but objectivity. A fact or image can be summoned from memory at will like a servant who is normally obedient. But a mood or insight or spirit has a mind of its own, and must be recalled in an almost petitionary attitude: we recollect images and facts and try to create conditions upon which the experience can (to use Octavo Paz’s word) condense, almost as if they are offerings or a home made hospitable for a guest. I think this is actually the importance of prayer. We recall a forgotten spirit, in the hope we will be inhabited once again, and that once present, we will not be abandoned.

    Other double meanings (which I prefer not to call symbols) indicate things that could be very easily expressed in objective language, but which are socially prohibited. The reason “that’s what she said” works so well is because of the legacy of sexual taboo, where all the objects and activities associated with sex were veiled in innuendo. Puns are similar; it is the exercise of the facilities involved in symbolization, but connecting banalities. This is the core problem of very clever people: their activities fail to deliver insights, and are performed only to demonstrate skill.

  3. More and more, this is the difference I see between science and philosophy. Science works within a fixed horizon, analyzing and synthesizing within a framework that is presupposed and not treated as problematic, because it is simply taken as reality itself. This does not only apply to scientific paradigms, but to the metaphysic of science itself which appears in most cases to be entirely innocent. Philosophy, however, concerns itself with the horizons, and attempts to transcend their limits, a process which takes place within the very limits to be transcended.

    It is also ethically significant that philosophy attempts to move outside the closed circle of language. More and more, my own conception of evil is bound up with the refusal to acknowledge being beyond one’s own conceptions of reality. One limits reality to that which one is capable of intellectually mastering, which is objective knowledge as framed by one’s own subjective perspective and which excludes the possibility of subjectivities, particularly super-individual forms of subjectivity that threaten to expose individual intellect as an organ of greater scales of intellect, which include at minimum family, culture and language. Evil is rooted in the attempt to make the mind a place of its own, far from that which challenges its absolute sovereignty over its private universe.

  4. This reminds me a lot of a diagram I used to draw to show the relationship between synthesis and concept. Synthesis means “put together”, and I classify systematization of wholes constituted of atomic elements as a type of synthesis. However, the synthesis reflects another order of reality which is concept, which means “take together”. I think this corresponds to a mememe — an indivisible unit of meaning which is spontaneously grasped as a whole, or gestalt (or to say it in nerd, the whole is “grokked”). It might make sense to see the activity of trying to understand as systematizing and resystematizing parts until they are arranged into a form that is recognized by the intuition as a concept, at which point the understanding occurs. I may need to return to this thought, because it really is relevant to design.
  5. I suspect the desire to locate mystery in the words themselves rather than in what the words indicate is one more manifestation of preference for objectivity. The words are fetishized as the locus of the mystery, which is a form of idolatry. Idol, after all is derived from the Greek word eidos ‘form, shape.’ The formula: the ground of reality of which we are made entirely, in which we always participate, but which surpasses us and moves us is impossible to think about in objective terms, and for this reason we reduce it to objective terms. To put it in the language of Martin Buber, the ground of reality is related to in terms of I-Thou, but we reduce it to terms of I-It. And other people, with whom we exist in relationship, as part of the ground — we prefer to relate to them also in terms of I-It — for exactly the same reason. We want to elevate ourselves above participatory relationship which involves and changes us, and instead to look at others across an insulating distance that promises to preserve us inert.

Turning

We can only know one another by turning together toward the world and sharing the significance of what we perceive as relevant. When we take turns discussing ourselves – when we make ourselves the object of conversation – our personas (objective “me”) eclipse our personalities (subjective “I”). The human mind prefers the discreteness of objects to the involvement of subjects.

Intersubjectivity requires interobjectivity — an objectivity that includes the recognition that objects are always to us perceived by subjects, and that subjects perceive differently.

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Dialogue – Middle English : from Old French dialoge, via Latin from Greek dialogos, from dialegesthai ‘converse with,’ from dia ‘through’ + legein ‘speak.’

Converse – Late Middle English (in the sense of live among, be familiar with): from Old French converser, from Latin conversari ‘keep company (with),’ from con– ‘with’ + versare, frequentative of vertere ‘to turn.’

Looks

Glance – ORIGIN late Middle English, probably a nasalized form of obsolete glace in the same sense, from Old French glacier ‘to slip,’ from glace ‘ice,’ based on Latin glacies.

See – ORIGIN Old English seon, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zien and German sehen, perhaps from an Indo-European root shared by Latin sequi ‘follow.’

Search – ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French cerchier (verb), from late Latin circare ‘go around,’ from Latin circus ‘circle.’

Research – ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from obsolete French recerche (noun), recercher (verb), from Old French re– (expressing intensive force) + cerchier ‘to search.’

Put, lost, found, taken

We find a joke funny. We find a concept compelling.

Sometimes, things are lost on us.

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People laugh along with jokes they don’t get.

They know the definition of each word. They comprehend the sentences. Yet, they don’t get “it”.

Sometimes a person will explain her understanding of a joke, and you’re left wondering whether she’s ever experienced humor. If you explain what is funny about the joke, she might memorize and repeat your explanation without ever finding the joke funny.

She might be blind to the possibility that a joke is more than a social ritual. Laughing in the right place means one belongs.

If you’ve never gotten a joke, you cannot know what it is to have missed one.

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People nod along with concepts they don’t get.

They know the definition of each word. They comprehend the sentences. Yet, they don’t get it.

Concepts are not thoughts, but something behind a thought that is “gotten” or “missed”.

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If humor were as rare as love of concepts, people would openly sneer at comedy and call it “bullshit”. They’d call jokes pure fiction, and they would be mostly right.

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It is perfectly possible to memorize and flawlessly reproduce dance steps but never dance. But when we dance we naturally perform the steps. Or rather, the dance itself dances the steps through us.

One can work out flawless systems without the guidance of an overarching concept. But working by concept naturally (eventually) produces systems. Or rather, the concept itself unfolds as a system through us.

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Some people are so good at imitating the real thing that rationality cannot discern the difference, even if intuition can. But intuition cannot argue. It can only show.

Jokes, philosophies, designs, dances, songs, tastes, conversations… wherever there is letter and spirit, there will be those who know and those arguing that there is nothing to know but what is arguable.

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A tough room makes even the best comedian doubt his powers.

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Some related etymologies:

Conceive, concept, conception: ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French concevoir, from Latin concipere, from com– ‘together’ + capere ‘take.’

Receive, receptive, reception: ORIGIN Middle English : from Anglo-Norman French receivre, based on Latin recipere, from re- ‘back’ + capere ‘take.’

Perceive, perceptive, perception: ORIGIN Middle English : from a variant of Old French perçoivre, from Latin percipere ‘seize, understand,’ from per- ‘entirely’ + capere ‘take.’

Synthesis, synthesize: ORIGIN early 17th cent.: via Latin from Greek sunthesis, from sun- ‘together’ + tithenai ‘to place.’

Antithesis, antithetical: ORIGIN late Middle English: from late Latin, from Greek antitithenai ‘set against,’ from anti ‘against’ + tithenai ‘to place.’

Cardio

Accord, concord, discord all share the same root: cord– ‘heart.’ Concord means “together-heart”.

Magnanimous come from magnus ‘great’ + animus ‘soul’.

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I indexed on my wiki a long string of passages on the sublimation of personality in art. In art (and philosophy is a species of art) an author’s soul makes itself representative of something greater and more universal than the biography of a single individual. It becomes common property, something others can inhabit, see from, participate in, live out.

The name on the title-page. — That the name of the author should be inscribed on the book is now customary and almost a duty; yet it is one of the main reasons books produce so little effect. For if they are good, then, as the quintessence of the personality of their authors, they are worth more than these; but as soon as the author announces himself on the title-page, the reader at once dilutes the quintessence again with the personality, indeed with what is most personal, and thus thwarts the object of the book. It is the intellect’s ambition to seem no longer to belong to an individual.”

Another:

The book becomes almost human. — Every writer is surprised anew when a book, as soon as it has separated from him, begins to take on a life of its own. He feels as if one part of an insect had been severed and were going its own way. Perhaps he almost forgets the book; perhaps he rises above the views set down in it; perhaps he no longer understands it and has lost those wings on which he soared when he devised that book. Meanwhile, it goes about finding its readers, kindles life, pleases, horrifies, fathers new works, becomes the soul of others’ resolutions and behavior — in short, it lives like a being fitted out with mind and soul and yet it is nevertheless not human. — The most fortunate author is one who is able to say as an old man that all he had of life-giving, invigorating, uplifting, enlightening thoughts and feelings still lives on in his writings, and that he himself is only the gray ash, while the fire has been rescued and carried forth everywhere. — If one considers, then, that a man’s every action, not only his books, in some way becomes the occasion for other actions, decisions, and thoughts; that everything which is happening is inextricably tied to everything which will happen; then one understands the real immortality, that of movement: what once has moved others is like an insect in amber, enclosed and immortalized in the general intertwining of all that exists.

Pirates and experience professionals

Experience – ORIGIN late Middle English : via Old French from Latin experientia, from experiri ‘try.’ Compare with experiment and expert.

Empirical – ORIGIN late Middle English : via Latin from Greek empeirikos, from empeiria ‘experience,’ from empeiros ‘skilled’ (based on peira ‘trial, experiment’ ).

Pirate – ORIGIN Middle English : from Latin pirata, from Greek peirates, from peirein ‘to attempt, attack’ (from peira ‘an attempt’).

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“A new species of philosophers is coming up: I venture to baptize them with a name that is not free of danger. As I unriddle them, insofar as they allow themselves to be unriddled — for it belongs to their nature to want to remain riddles at some point — , these philosophers of the future may have a right, it might also be a wrong, to be called experimenters [Versucher, i.e. attempters]. This name itself is in the end a mere attempt [Versuch] and, if you will, a temptation [Versuchung].” — Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

To be seen and not heard

“You are to be seen and not heard.” This means: you are to be an object, not a subject.

Whatever needs knowing about an object can be known through observation. An object belongs to a world, but a world does not belong to it.

A subject, however, while belonging to the world also has a world that belongs to him. A subject looks back.

Consider the etymology of the word “respect”.

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There is no way to understand a particular subjectivity as such objectively.

One only understands subjectivity by engaging subjectively. One attempts to share the other’s world as the other views it, which means one involves oneself. One learns from the other. In the process, one’s own view of the world changes, and that means one’s own subjectivity changes. The other’s view of the world changes, too.

In an interview two separated views converge and merge into an inter-view.

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Behavior is an objective consequence of subjectivity. The odd thing about behavior: in the end it is phenomenal, and it can be taken as a mode of speech and heard along with the other’s voice, or it can be stripped away from the other and subsumed entirely by one’s own world and simply observed. Even speech can be viewed as behavior, or as mere sound. One can explain an other away or one can illuminate an other’s own self-explanation and understand.

Hermeneutics is hearing. The-hermeneutic-of-such-and-such is resistance to hearing: aggressive mishearing.

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The most immediate and convincing evidence of otherness is dialectic.

Music

Sounds are harmonized, and the harmony has an immediate and inarticulate meaning irreducible to the formal constituent parts. Lyrics may articulate a meaning related to that of the harmony, but the meaning will not be an identical one, in fact the harmony between sound and word, creates yet another meaning even richer, more comprehensive and less explicable than the first. It cannot be conveyed by any abstract terms outside of the concrete being of the music itself. The only articulations possible are sympathetic ones which immediately enrich or diminish what is articulated.

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Parts are harmonized into an irreducible whole. The whole is articulated in words which relate to the whole, within the whole, in participation with the whole.

If the words relate to the whole from outside the whole, the words are alienated from the whole and speak of something essentially different from that which they wish to comprehend.

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When we try to transcend a whole to which we belong, in which we participate — apart from which we are no longer who we are — that whole expands with the experience or it ceases to be. It is never punctured and viewed whole against the sky like a piece of fruit, a beautiful body, a useful instrument, or a Big Blue Marble.

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When we attempt to imagine a world beyond time, space and thought we attempt to perceive essential being as particular objective beings, which is all the mind can master.

Much metaphysics is the lust for the god’s-eye-view which dreams of the point of view from which all things are seen objectively and made comprehensible to a human mind. This is the only concrete image available to us when we imagine what it would be like to be a god, knowing good and evil.

Out of sheer incapacity to imagine otherwise, we reduce the Absolute to our human terms rather than raise our human terms in pursuit of the Absolute. For sure, we won’t find the edge and look back down on the Absolute, but we might find many relative edges and look back down onto many relative points and perhaps retain the capacity to recollect how the totality of existence looked when the intellect was constrained within those horizons, in that time, in that place.

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To the inverted eye of idolatry, as we raise ourselves to the absolute we look like we are are falling into relativism, and as we perfect our obedience and love and look like like traitors and nihilists.

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Harmony: ORIGIN Latin harmonia ‘joining, concord,’ from Greek, from harmos ‘joint.’

Articulate: ORIGIN Latin articulatus, articulare ‘divide into joints, utter distinctly,’ from articulus ‘small connecting part.’

Sanity and vision

The world is overrun with visionaries and sane people.

What is lacking is:

  1. vision which respects sanity, and
  2. sanity which recognizes vision.

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Too often, sanity poses as vision, exotically paraphrasing the same old content in the language and gestures of vision. Why? Because the sane know what the truth is, but they find the truth bland and wish to spice it up a little.

Too often, vision is ignorantly parasitic. It lives off the conditions provided by sanity while denouncing the sanity that provides it. Why? Because the visionary knows the truth about truth, and cannot go back to the stunted “truth” of the sane.

But neither the truth nor the truth about truth is true enough to support community.

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We need sanity, not because it is more objectively true than vision, but because it is stable, more communicable and therefore more readily sharable.

We need vision, because things are true as far as they go but they are never true enough for long.

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Human beings need each other — commonalities and differences, alike.

We hate this. Otherness confronts us with the fact of finitude. Individuals longs to be infinite.

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Re-spect: re– ‘back’ + specere ‘look at.’
“How does this world we share look through your eyes?”

Re-cognize: re– ‘again’ + cognoscere ‘learn.’
“Can you show me a new way to see this world we share?”

Re-duce: re– ‘back, again’ + ducere ‘bring, lead.’
“The world exists as I comprehend it.”

Com-prehend: com– ‘together’ + prehendere ‘grasp.’
“I am objective.”

Ob-ject: ob– ‘in the way of’ + jacere ‘to throw.’
“The world is reducible to material, to the being of the object.”

Under-stand
“Do you understand that under every object stands an experience, and upon this does an object exists as an object?”

Is experience essentially individual?

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Synesis means we stand together and see the world as together.
The subject who sees — we — is active. We see together.
The object of sight — the world — is passive.  The world is seen as together.

Synesis recognizes that the solid togetherness of the world is only apparent.
We can see this solid togetherness differently if are open to being shown.

Synesis respects the truth that we human beings need solidity.
The solidity of the world is scaffolding for the solidarity of people.

Synesis is solidity through solidarity and solidarity through solidity.

Both the solidity and the solidarily of synesis long for infinity and pursue it.
This means sometimes solidarity and solidity must be renounced, for the sake of  synesis.
Synesis is essentially self-sacrificing and self-affirming.

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On this liquid ground of experience we stand together in understanding or we sink under the surface as dissolving individuals.

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Vision opens sanity. Sanity stabilizes vision.

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