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TELOS AND ESSENCE

Section Index


  1. Reconstructive Deconstruction
  2. The Illusion of Knowledge
  3. The Illusion of Truth
  4. The Illusion of History
  5. The Illusion of Gender
  6. The Illusion of Prescription
    Interlude
  1. Nature and Essence
  2. Belief and Philosophy
  3. The Tides of Time
  4. Telos
  5. Fate
  6. Deconstructive Reconstruction

  What's Related  
  Subseq. Pages - Essays & Papers  
 






caveat: As can be inferred from the date of publication, this article may no longer represent my current views and style. It remains here for archival purposes to provide a sense of documentation and should be treated as such.

1: Reconstructive Deconstruction

A quest for truth, a quest for knowledge, a quest for understanding starts at questioning the very target of questioning; it is questioned not only the topic discussed, to question are as well the aim of the investigation as the anticipation and the existing concepts, the hope for arriving at an answer and the categories we think in. With this taken into consideration, nothing any more seems to be easy or easily to investigate or to deduct or induct; everything, the tiniest part of the fabric of reality is intertwined with the whole, with the discourse of reality and the sub-discourse it belongs to, or better: the sub-discourse it is constructed to belong to.

Approaching the unknown or the unexplained - what does this mean? What is it that's to be approached? Is it just about space, the final frontier, is it about UFOs, extraterrestrials, little gray men, is it about when Mulder and Scully will finally get physical? Is it about ghost, spiritual entities, rebirth, paranormal phenomena, governmental conspiracies? Is it about some distant topics of the past and the future, about a world we not yet live in, about a world that is said to be "not normal"?

The unexplained, the object of this page, these discussion pages, the object of this very web site is not just something that is kind of an fictionalized and artificial set of imagined possibilities, the unexplained is everything as we can't explain anything to a full extend. You might call this an horrid generalization, but how else would one be able to talk about it, about anything? What we use as signs, as language, as basic means of communications - all of this is an artificial construction, constructed to help us to communicate at all[1].

To refer to the heading: The aim of this essay is to illustrate some aspects of 'explained' phenomena, they will be deconstructed to a certain extent. But deconstruction is not a topic of its own, not a mere technique that is used just for the method. Deconstruction means reconstruction. Brick by brick the edifice of a signifier has to be examined to at least to grasp what we cannot grasp, to get a hint of what the concept, what the signified behind the signifier would mean. Deconstruction is supposed and constructed to be just one step towards realization and revelation.

Revelation? Is this a topic of religion? Isn't this rather an object of philosophy? - Religion and philosophy meet at that point, they meet to explore by logic what is not given to them by tradition. The task for religion is made a bit easier, which counts at least for religions that are based on something that has been written down or canonized in any form; while philosophy cannot rely on anything like that. The aim of philosophy is to try to build its own building of knowledge and understanding, the aim of religious philosophy is to extend the given descriptions further to be able to understand more. But the final target would be similar: The truth - and a glimpse behind the fabric of reality.

PJK
July 16th, 1998







2: The Illusion of Knowledge

There are illusions that seem to be very much perfect, seem to be not in any way a construction, not in any way artificial but on the very contrary natural, prescribed and static. This illusion is being sustained by tradition, history and values that have been nurtured and constructed over centuries. Questioning certain illusions that we have come to accept, or that we were made to accept, shall lead us not at all to blind negation and nihilism but to a deeper understanding of the complexity of this illusion, of concept and reason and of the reasons behind it, it will lead to adaptation, to a change of traditions that have become obsolete.

Nothing that is obsolete reveals itself as such, it fights for its continuing existence, for the ongoing illusion of being real and important even in this time. But what does this mean, to be obsolete? Does it mean that it is wrong and has been wrong in the first place, or does it just need a slight or not so slight modification? Sometimes it is very much clear that something has been wrong all the time, which will count for prejudices of all kind. But sometimes, even if something was wrong, it is revealed as originating from the conditions of its time, 'history' will make a fact that is difficult to explain more transparent.

And so, by this very process of rationalization and enlightenment, we will finally arrive at knowledge and revelation. At least that's what enlightenment and rationalism and essentialism have stated. What is wrong about it, and, secondly, is it always wrong or does it work under certain conditions? There is no easy answer to it - what a surprise. But the object of investigation, knowledge itself, can be accessed only incompletely and in a way very inefficiently - depending again on our means of investigation and communication[2].

The object and action of knowing, what does that mean? We have saved something in our neural RAM, our brain, but even our very own access to it is restricted. While we might be able to perceive and to analyze reality in a certain way, this doesn't grant us that the result of this process of perception will be available for us forever. The thinking mind cannot remember everything, most of the things we perceive are stored in a mysterious, uncanny way - we do not have immediate access to it, knowledge can 'hibernate' in distant regions of our brain and stay there forever. How reliable is such a system? Well, it seems to be more reliable than an operating system that crashes on a regular and quite unpredictable basis, but is the information stored in our mind 'objective'? Is it universal? Is it real? Can it be proven?

Every personal knowledge depends on how we store and process information. The result will always be a personal, subjective experience that will eventually manifest itself in writing or other forms of communication. The sources that are being produced this way provide us with a knowledge that is not at all universal, not at all a perfect image of reality - it is something that reflects the individual preferences and opinions and capabilities of the individual and of the media of communication. What does this lead to? It leads to something that I'd like to call 'university shock' - during school time, all we got to know about the world was absolute knowledge, based upon solid facts, not to be questioned and not to denied. The illusion was perfect. But at university, one eventually realizes that behind all knowledge there are human beings that have collected and interpreted knowledge. One realizes that the basis of all science is not at all that much solid, that there is no static evidence, no definite answers can be found. The illusion of knowledge vanishes the more one tries to increase and to solidify it.

PJK
July 16th, 1998







3: The Illusion of Truth

Some topics really are difficult to discuss - especially when they tangle certain aspects of reality, of personal reality and of personal experience that have usually been dealt with in another way, a way that seemed to be more, much more solid, a way that - in contradiction to what is stated by post- structuralist ideas - seems to be the one and only truth, not to be denied, not to be questioned, a truth that is based upon physical evidence, upon facts and proof.

I do not want to deny that there is the necessity to create models of judgement that allow us to determine what is right or wrong, what is good or evil, what is truth and what is lie. I have no problem with that - otherwise I couldn't be a Catholic anymore. No, a perspective that denied ethical responsibilities would not be able to work in communities like ours. Although it might be considered as quite sad, we are still a species that needs some law and order of a certain kind. Not the order that some sf or even some historical scenarios show us, not the order of a tyrannis or of a dictatorship or of a paranoid state that would control every single action of every single individual on Earth. We do not need systems that restrict our capabilities. For example: If one shut down the internet because some would use this invention for criminal actions, one would not only restrict the possibilities of the criminals but those of the honest and nice people too.

The sad thing is something that occurs throughout the whole Bible, throughout all history: Evil always finds ways to manifest itself, but restrictions and radical prohibitions firstly discriminate against those who would not think of criminal actions. In those states that are or have been autocratic systems it might be true that the crime rate is by far more moderate than those of the more liberal states. Is that really true? Or doesn't evil find another place to exist and to terrorize the people - by manifesting itself within the government? Herodes, Alexander, Commodus, Attila, Cortez, Napoleon, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot - systems that were fueled by destruction, aggression, autocracy and murder, and the previous list is much too short... Some of them, like Alexander or Napoleon, might even have succeeded in retaining some mask of heroism.

There are two kinds of illusions that can be cited regarding truth: One is called propaganda, the other science. That might again sound a bit harsh, but let's concentrate on the first aspect for now. Truth is being altered, changed by those who do not want to accept or show it the way it is (or said better: the way general perception would perceive it). As this is a site that uses television as examples, let's do it: Truth is changed by autocrats like Star Trek DS9's Dukat or by Babylon 5's President Clark to protect and support their unlawful reign and to fight the resistance. Truth is changed by the X-Filean Syndicate of government-related conspirators to cover up their own criminal actions, to cover up their methods to gain control. Motives are irrelevant, words don't show the true face but actions do.

The second illusion of truth is created by science, not deliberately but consequently: This follows from the general inability to perceive reality in its total and unrestricted, intertwined and complete discourse. But the illusion is deliberately being sustained by those who support ideas or theories that have been proven wrong - or by those who ignore both the past and experience and think that they would know the only true truth.

PJK
July 20th, 1998







4: The Illusion of History

The illusion of history - what the hell is he talking about? To assure you: I'm studying history, so I have nothing like bad feelings against it. No, to be precise: Some post-structuralist philosophers are historians (Michel Foucault, Hayden White) and seem to have derived their post-structuralist views from history itself. So this can't be about a crusade against history, about a blind crusade against something not quite understood. This is about some reflections and revelations about the nature of history.

What we call history, what we call historical science, might seem absolute to students in school; but once you study the subject at university, at a level approaching and preparing for professionality, nothing really seems to hold absolutely true when focused on much more intensely than before. Facts disappear, have to be proven by sources. At least history has recognized other than written sources during the last two centuries; now it's working much more closely together with other subjects of science that are part of the discourse of history (I say discourse now instead of sub-discourse for it should be clear that a sub-discourse is meant and not the whole discourse of reality. Anyway, this difference seems usually not to be made in post-structuralist writings, but from my point of view it seems important to link all discourses together as a final piece of discursive thinking).

The sources undergo some procedures during the process of historic research: They are being analyzed, interpreted, written down, quoted, linked to other sources, cataloged, categorized - in other words: Changed by perspective, choice, stress, ranking, personal preferences. No historian is objective, no historian is really able to tell the absolute truth[3] - even by the choice of narration the narrator indicates some form of closure or a sequence of events when this might just be the result of historiography:

It is only from our knowledge of the subsequent history of Western Europe that we can presume to rank events in terms of their world-historical significance, and even then that significance is less world historical than simply Western European, representing a tendency of modern historians to rank events in the record hierarchically from within a perspective that is culture-specific, not universal at all[4].

History has always been interpreted, may it be in a teleological or religious or philosophical way or just as a sequence of wars and terror. This interpretation is nothing that historians could be hindered to do, it is just a natural thing. It comes naturally with questions like the search for causes for events or periods, causes for the end of the Roman Empire, for the discovery of America, for the Industrial Revolution, for wars, for the holocaust, for the Cold War. Answers might arrive, but they are always told from a personal perspective. The definite truth cannot be grasped; but one would be able to judge events by general ethical expectations and conventions. One can definitely judge events like the holocaust or any genocide or murder or lies or deception. Deconstruction doesn't disable moral judgement.

What now is the illusion created by history? It is again the illusion of knowledge. Some things, some facts within history are based not really upon solid facts, some things are based upon very weak sources, others are described by a lot of sources. But the amount of source material is not really an indicator for the importance of a certain event - crucial sources could have vanished or they could have been manipulated, or they never existed or became lost through the process of proceding time. That doesn't mean that from the lack of evidence we wouldn't be able to say that the ancient Romans or Egyptians or Greek had no airplanes and no cellular phones and no automobiles; but it should create a certain awareness for the incompleteness of our history, resulting from the progressed time as well as from our restrictions regarding the documentation and description of historic events.

PJK
July 29th, 1998







5: The Illusion of Gender

Gender as an illusion? In fact, this is one of the classical pieces of deconstruction - the deconstruction of gender of course doesn't say that men would be able to give birth to children, at least not under "normal" circumstances, but the deconstruction of gender is supporting a long-lasting process within history and also against history.

What do we mean by gender? Of course there is a certain biological difference between the male and the female gender; a difference that manifesta itself in basic anatomy and the process of reproduction - I needn't go into detail I think. But those are not the differences that are exclusively consequential with the topic of gender - there is an artificial separation between men and women within society, a separation that originated from history and, yes, from religion somehow - but this religious differentiation is again based upon history and modified by history and tradition.

The results and the process of this separation are evident in late 20th century society, it is the separation of male and female workforce, the legends and prejudices of men against women and women against men, the association of men and women with certain 'typical' or 'characteristic' professions, the again constructed separation of girls playing with puppets and boys playing with matchbox cars. A separation that, as well as it is constructed, has taken on a life of its own: artificial structures nurture and support themselves.

But why is there this kind of separation? Is it just a result of male domination? To a large extend I would support that theory, but then there is and has been also cooperation; women have came to accept this differentiation over the centuries somehow; they have gotten some small chances in history, but just occasionally, until the onset of the World Wars - the time where women were needed in the industry was a time where they could prove once and for all that they could do the same work as a male worker. The Women's Movement made society - and perhaps even women - aware of a kind of injustice that had and has lasted for a long, long time.

But I do not want to create leaflets supporting feminism, this is just an example how deconstruction works: artificial differences that have existed throughout history and tradition are being discussed and investigated - and fought against when they prove wrong. The discussion about male and female gender is strongly connected to the discussion about homosexuality as well as the discussions about other artificial separations like that of class and race. Though we might not have an ideal world and might not have it in the future, we can at least try to make our present as humane as possible, fighting injust separation and discrimination.

PJK
July 30th, 1998







6: The Illusion of Prescription

There is always this question about religion, the question whether we have a free will or not, the question whether free will is an illusion or not. But equally interesting is this question when posed towards society and not to God; the question whether the prescriptions we seem to create for ourselves are imposed "naturally", whether there is anything like something "natural" at all.

What do I mean by prescription? I do not mean prescriptions like basic ethics or the Ten Commandments, I'm talking about prescriptions created and supported by society and politics out of various reasons. Prescriptions that seem to rule our thinking, our daily life, our social contacts, our career opportunities, basically everything we deal with. Prescriptions that make us think in certain categories and dimensions; prescriptions that drive and motivate and deter and scare us.

Prescriptions created by society and science and philosophy would be something like evolutionary theories. Social Darwinism and fascism are linked to those evolutionary theories as they take some biological facts and turn them around against society; capitalism is based upon those theories as well as Marxism; Capitalism as its philosophy is the survival of the economically fittest, and Marxism as its philosophy is the survival of the revolutionary fittest. Both systems create an artificial difference between classes, whether visible or not, both define classes on behalf of economical and political influence [4a].

Our view of the world has been determined by this thinking, in the West as well as in the East. The artificiality of those doctrines can be seen easily in Marxism and - in a bit more difficult way - in capitalism. Marxism on the one hand claims to be liberal and peaceful but turns the suppression of the working class into a suppression of both the intellectual and - again - the working class. State propaganda and state politics are like a religion; like in ancient Rome this is the only religion that can be tolerated: That's why Marxism is by definition atheistic and nurtures anti-Semitism. Revolutionary about Marxism is that it could cloak itself in the mask of world revolution, in the mask of justice; but it is only a different kind of autocracy. Capitalism, on the other hand, guises itself in the mask of money and profit-oriented business, which has a very, very long tradition. Capitalism didn't just start in the previous centuries, although technology in a way speeded up the process of capitalization. The other mask capitalism uses today is democracy in today's form, a party system that leads to a kind of semi-democracy or semi-oligarchy (out of the lack of a better system). How dangerous both doctrines can become has been proven by history: the Nazi movement was a brutal synthesis of both, which used Marxist concepts (National Socialism, mass propaganda, mass movements etc.) with capitalist-imperialist structures. How strange the Nazi system indeed was can be seen from the destruction of the Weimar Republic, which was finally completed by the radicalization of the democratic system; almost out of unison the Communist and National-Socialist party created an atmosphere of violence and terror that was the ideal basis for a radical system, for a 'strong reign'. It can also be seen from a comparison between Hitler and Stalin and their methods; they didn't differ that much.

But neither Hitler nor Stalin are prototypes of the capitalist or the communist system; they are prototypes of tyranny and autocracy. The problem is that they could gain power by using prescriptive traditions, by propaganda based upon those prescriptions, based upon the hopes and fears of the people. Those kinds of prescriptions have enabled slavery by declaring one race superior over the other, they have enabled discriminations and radical movements and radicalizations of society. The downsides of capitalism, unemployment, slums and poverty as well as dangerous combinations of economical and political influence, have proven a system wrong that seems to have been proven right by history. Why the heck should the only thing we are supposed to be living for be money and a job, and not anymore knowledge and improvement? A method beyond deconstruction (and perhaps somehow superior in certain aspects) is science fiction like Star Trek - by presenting us a future that is neither capitalist nor communist but simply a system that is guided by infinite combinations in infinite diversities - a pretty much discursive and deconstructed concept.

PJK
July 30th, 1998







Interlude

And now for something completely different, well, perhaps not completely, but to some extent really different - some self-reflexion, some thoughts beyond the strict development of a line of narration describing deconstruction. But then, how would that be possible? Can I really depart from thinking about something that made me write and sustain these web pages you're obviously reading now? Can I really center my thoughts on something and then - just by what could laughingly be called my free will - forget about it and think about something else?

Is there really distraction - or is there just interference, a mixture created between old thoughts and new ones - thought evolution; one thought creating and chasing another, eventually arriving at a solution which again will be incomplete, to be modified again and to be altered all the time again, the moment of utterance, the moment of fixation being just a small piece within the puzzle, something like a frozen picture of the moment, but after the moment of fixation the story goes on and on - to never be completed; and after the death of the author the line of idea will be picked up by reality and be added again to the stream of fiction, to the stream of consciousness that is the discourse of reality and the very source of the writing and the author.

You see - I couldn't really write something completely different; I just modified the beginning, created unconsciously or consciously another kind of anticipation, but again arriving at the same, deconstructive and discursive sort of writing. And do not think I did this in a less authentic way - what I write here is just a fixation of momentary thought, I will not modify it afterwards like I would do in a novel (except of course checking for spelling and formatting and HTML-code).

I have now two paragraphs left - as you might have noticed, I like this five-paragraphs-structure. A climax to paragraph three and then playing with the topic I have arrived to, and arriving at some kind of conclusion or question or open ending in paragraph five. Sometimes this structure forces me - like now - just to continue writing, developing the necessary thoughts within the process of writing. The general sequence of ideas is being determined at the moment of planning the essay - I create a structure, a sequence of headlines which will be the central ideas of my writings, guiding the flow of ideas into the right direction. And as you might see, the headline for this part is simply a boring 'Interlude', leaving me with no guidance than that I have to fill five paragraphs. So I seem to be having a problem right now...

Paragraph five. Well, I've said all I wanted to say in this interlude, so this will be kept empty - except of course the words by which I would explain that this paragraph will be kept empty. But then, would it be an empty paragraph when I chose to explain its emptiness - or would the emptiness not rather be filled with words in this way, negating the negation of contents? Should you think I said something in this paragraph, please feel free to do so, but if you don't, you will be perfectly right either. It's a matter of personal opinion. No one has the authority to tell another being what to think; this is what can be called free will. So, finally, I managed to find a conclusion for this seemingly inconclusive interlude.

PJK
August 1st, 1998







7: Nature and Essence

Now back to normal. The topic is about nature and essence, which are concepts that have came to be accepted during tradition and history; concepts which - like anything else - will have to be tested if they stand the test of time and truth. By truth I do not want to say that within post-structuralism would be the absolute truth (which would be a completely structuralist, but not post-structuralist thesis). Though I seem to believe that within post-structuralism is sort of a greater truth than in preceding philosophies (not religions, here I would make a definite difference, treating the term 'religion' as something like 'official' or 'established' religion, not as some kind of personal belief).

But is that true? Can there be such a judgement? Of course there can be something like personal preferences or dislikes. That's why there can't really be something like objective writing. But if there is no objective writing, no real objective and general and absolute description, how are we to accept something as an absolute truth, as the nature of things?

Concerning nature and mostly evolution, how would such a category as 'normality' be able to persist? If nature were concentrated on normality, there would not be any life form except some bacteria - for evolution is based upon change, upon modifications, upon mutations. Slight changes in the DNA, slight transformations in the planet's atmosphere and on the surface - change is everywhere. It mightn't be perceived in that way over the short period of time our life span would cover; and when those evolutionary changes some time add up they will be seen as mutations, something abnormal - but on the contrary, this kind of change is the very essence of life. A shift in the genetic structure of humans may and will appear over the coming millennia, a shift that will not be perceived continually but will be recognized then as part of evolution, part of life, part of nature. Nothing stays the same, does it?

So if there is nothing like an enduring steady state in the temporal and material universe, how could we define anything as universal? What we see is changing its face during the very process of being seen - we might not be noticing it, but does ignorance prevent action? Does a noise exist when no one is listening? Is there a meta-physical element of life beyond what we have recognized as the physical life, the physical existence? The very crucial question that is materializing now is the question of whether there is something like an essence of reality that exists although we might not notice it. As stated, we would not notice it, so how to prove or disprove it? When it is not possible to tell, we should at least be aware of our incomplete capabilities to both perceive and describe an ever-changing universe. We all believe in something essential, may it be God, may it be love, may it be friendship, may it be fate, death, resurrection, tradition, history, ethics, humanity, liberty, consciousness, home, free will, truth, science, salvation. A life without believing in something that is not directly perceivable or provable might not even be possible; it is belief and imagination that drives our lives, without ideas based upon those concepts there would not be a future[5].

If you are now under the impression that what I've said might be contradictory and that I might not yet have answered the question, you are perfectly right. If there were no contradictions and if there were something like absolute answers, they would have been found by now by everybody on this planet. But then there are answers that are to be found, answers that are essential, answers that give an insight into what is really important, into what is kind of a universal language of the universe - those kinds of meta-words, those kinds of greater ideas and concepts which would add up to just one concept, the concept of us being much more than ever imagined; a deeply religious concept. The answers to that question are known: and they return every time and again, they are ideas that persist and triumph always at last, fighting the darkness and spreading the light.

PJK
August 1st, 1998







8: Belief and Philosophy

What have I done? Haven't I just taken basic principles of post-structuralist philosophy to prove something while in the very same moment turning them around and discovering something else, turning the very principles I tried to explain before against themselves, arriving at an unexpected answer, unexpected even for me? Is that confusion, is that an uncanny process - or is that not rather something that is indeed part of post-structuralism again? Apart from the impossibility to define some certain path of philosophy completely (for there are always exceptions and outsiders and mixtures), the general idea of post-structuralism would be to defy structures that have proven worthless or obstructing or even completely wrong.

There have been philosophic attempts to deny religion, to deny the religious 'method', the religious path. Philosophy has always tried to create a better level of humanity, but at the same time philosophy not always acted in favor of that - it defied belief without accepting the necessity, the obviousness of the existence of belief. During the period of 'Enlightenment', belief, religion, was fought out of various reasons, but the most logical one to me seems to be the political reason: religious morality and Rome rule were hindering politics and profit. The Inquisition e.g. was generally strongly criticized, but the protestant or secularized regimes were not really better, even much worse than anything the inquisition had done. Not the Middle Ages but the enlightened Modern Age that created terrors like that of the Thirty Year's War (which was not at all a religious but a very political and territorial war), the French Revolution and the Revolution Wars, the brutal colonization and enslavement of whole continents and the Holocaust[6].

The question posed asked for an answer, but there existed none: As soon as there is politics, as soon as there is the struggle for power and influence, there are confrontations. Neither was the 'religious era' of the Middle Ages an ideal construction nor was the secularized one that followed or preceded it. There is no working combination of power and philosophy or power and religion; that was true for Dionysios/Plato, Alexander/Aristoteles, Nero/Seneca, Frederick/Voltaire. Both philosophy and religion have to distance themselves from political power; and both have to realize that they are belonging together as two facets of the same discourse. Religions always have some parts of religious theory that can be characterized as philosophical (e.g. parts of Augustine's writings) as well as philosophy and science are depending on concepts belonging to religion and metaphysics.

Would that mean that there can be no differentiation between philosophy and religion? Not quite. There are differences in method and contents, but what I am saying is that the fight of philosophy versus religion is both fruitless and somehow silly; philosophy will never disprove God as well as religion will never be able to prove God. God is not subject to scientific proof; if He - or She - were, the question of belief would be pointless. It is our free will, our free choice that characterizes this reality.

The answers belonging to the questions posed by philosophy and religion meet at the point of ethics and humanity; they also meet in the question of belief: Philosophers might not necessarily believe in God, but they would believe in something else instead: in rationality, truth, the scientific method. If we had nothing to believe in, there would be no reason to continue living. That's a task for both philosophy and religion: To give people a reason to live; not as a kind of therapy or because they would tell nice stories, but because there are truths that will remain true forever, truths that will continue being true even if we humans won't believe in them. Those truths are not destroyed by deconstruction, they can't be destroyed. They are the truths communities and relationships and humanity are based upon.

PJK
August 1st, 1998







9: The Tides of Time

I am still talking about essence. There is a certain contradiction between post-structuralism and essentialism for the latter one would rather belong to structuralism and metaphysics. So why did I agree upon some essential truths, to something absolute, which would be a contradiction to post-structuralist thinking? There might not be that contradiction, there might exist several answers, several alternatives. It is again a question of personal perspective. So please let me explain this personal view of things.

Everything again leads back to the principles of deconstruction:

This is how deconstruction works: by showing that what was prior and privileged in the old hierarchy (for instance, metaphor and speech) can just as easily seem secondary, the deconstructor causes the formerly privileged term to exchange properties with the formerly devalued one. Causes become effects and (d)evolutions become origins, but the result is neither the destruction of the old order or hierarchy nor the construction of a new one. It is, rather, deconstruction[7].

Deconstruction means examination and questioning of hierarchies, and if those hierarchies prove wrong or ineffective, they will be thought about. The tides of time can and will possibly tell what will stay forever and what is just a short-lived phenomenon. This way of examination of course is not perfect, but it might give us a hint of what a better description of reality could look like.

The tides of time reveal that the ethics and morality of humanity, in whatever form or religion, and freedom and community are the strongest and everlasting properties of humanity; any system, any order based upon those values will have a good chance to prosper. There have been tyrannies and injusties during all of history, but all of them have been shut down or revealed as something dangerous and wrong. It is the old saying: Crime doesn't pay off. One might argue that there are crimes which will never be brought before justice, but then this perspective is much too small - judged from our temporal and material perspective. But within philosophy and religion there is an ongoing line of trying to secure humanity and sustain it within all kinds of politics and fiction. While there is this direct succession of 'light', the presence of 'darkness' is always limited to single incidents, it seems.

There is another example for that theory: Evolution is always creative and progressive, never centered around destruction or devolution but upon improvement, the result is always better and stronger and - in contrast to social Darwinism - always more intelligent and more humane. The confrontations we encounter throughout our lives make us stronger - learning by doing. The power of light is always a collective power, collective both in quantity and time. The power of darkness is restricted to temporal occasions; tyrannies and injusties will never be able to prevail or endure for ever. Darkness fights itself, darkness is selfish and can never cooperate with one another - best examples are Hitler and Stalin.

Light on the contrary has proven to prevail and to prosper, strengthened through victory over the occasions of darkness, creating a future that is aiming at perfection although never really reaching it. It is the only essence existing, the only essence supporting the universe, the only essence that will prevail.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity[8].

PJK
August 3rd, 1998







10: Telos

Evidently I have stated before that there should be structures beyond the physical universe, meta-physical structures, which would determine some essential truths; the rules of the game if you want. The general rule would be charity, and of course the very structure of the physical world would have to have its origin beyond the temporal-physical barrier - if our sciences are defined to be describing our uni-verse and just that, we could not make any definite statements of the world outside our universe; everything that were connected to this other part of reality would have to be per definitionem meta-physical.

Does the idea of a self-structuring universe make sense? A universe that would be cyclic, expanding to a maximum limit, then imploding again, all matter and time collapsing into a singularity which would then eventually set the same amount of energy free again to continue for ever? Because if it were not the same amount of energy, it would have to stop some time out of lack of energy. But a limitation in cycles would be a temporal category, and who or what sets the limitation if time is created in the moment of expansion, in the moment of a Big Bang to end again in a Big Crunch, in a singularity?

Where does the energy come from? Did it always exist? But what are the forces that define its moves? We do not even have the slightest idea what gravity is, we can just calculate it between two cosmic bodies; but what makes gravity work, the force that would be responsible for the contraction of a fully expanded universe? Some theories say that gravity is - like all form of force - working via messenger particles, the gravitons (Star Trek uses gravitons in its technobabble department). And what is time? Is it also linked to a transmission of messenger particles (Star Trek uses chronotons and tachyons). Somehow one is tempted to refer back to a creator, to God as the one who would set the variables. Does such a solution negate scientific efforts? I think that this fear is irrelevant - we will always have the need for exploration, we shouldn't worry that taking God as an answer would make scientists become unemployed.

If there are somehow a first cause and a metaphysical structure defining the physical structures, to what end would that be designed and to what extend does the universe have the chance for free development? Is there a target, a pre-determined sequence of events or do we have free will? Is there a certain pre-written line of history, can a teleological perspective make sense? Is there a telos, an aim history is aiming at, and are there chains of events that would follow this line of pre-determination? Is there - to use a term of fiction - kind of a story arch that would lead our history with a certain premise and purpose?

One could recognize a certain development within history, but I wouldn't call that telos - rather evolution. There are too many things that stay the same: Human nature, questions, faith, desperation. We are not wiser than our ancestors two thousand years or more ago; we just make use of more technological advances; but that doesn't necessarily make us more or less intelligent than pre-industrial humans; it just enlarges our capabilities and possibilities. Evolution as another word for telos? Perhaps, but I'd rather believe in a future that is not fully pre-written.

PJK
August 4th, 1998







11: Fate

I cannot really tell if I believe in fate or not; although sometimes it might look pretty convenient to do so. To believe in an order of things that is guiding oneself, prescribing the path we take, leading us into a future designed for oneself and leaving hardly any options to change the course of things - but this view of reality would deny the possibilities of evolution, of chance, of free will. Would it be quite realistic to assume such a prescription? Although this is a philosophical question, the answers to it will be very personal, and I don't think anyone could speak for another person on this behalf.

There are certain aspects of reality which would sound very strange when thought about. One question belonging to this category is that of time travel and parallel universes. The traditional view of time travel would be the one presented in 'Back to the Future' and most Star Trek time travel episodes: A change in the past would result in a change of the future. But then this would mean that there was just one timeline, one past, one present, one future, one possible solution. What about possibilities that could become true anyway? That is now the most crucial question: Is there an absolute reality, an essential reality, a universal reality that would follow a set of events? What I have defined as essential was merely a question of morality, not of material structures!

Is there a reality that is real in the same way for anyone else, or are there just as much realities as there are persons? You could now say that there are so many things we perceive as common; geography, history, matter, time. Really? Each of us has a very personal view of anything, nothing is the same. We might think we see the same structures, but what if this is just something like a common dream? Each one would be connected in a way but perceive everything as quite different. Not even the individual perception would be the same - personal perspectives and interpretations change, nothing stays the same. Can we prove a world that would be 'essential' (apart from morality which I think of being essential)?

There are as much realities as individuals who perceive it. Is that enough? There is an imaginary experiment called 'Schroedinger's cat'. A cat is locked up in a non-transparent box together with a radioactive element which by chance will decay with a probability of maybe fifty per cent. According to quantum mechanics and to rules of probability, the cat is now both dead and alive - the probability for each state is the same. Just by opening the box the observer decides which possibility will come true for his (or the cat's) reality. But apart from the fact that the experiment sounds rather cruel (but therefore it is only imaginary), the interesting part is the probability thing. The probability we choose or encounter is real for us, but what happens to the other perspective? Same probability of coming true - so why not? Maybe it does come true in another reality, apart from our own.

What does this all have to do with fate? If the existence of other probabilities would lead to the existence of alternate realities, parallel universes, fate would be irrelevant, - for each choice - weighed by the probability - could become true. It is our free will that makes us decide every time and again what we have to do. That gives us both the chance for self-determination as well as the chance of making mistakes. Regarding pre-determination, what would that 'pre' mean? Before existence or just apart from the temporal frame? Why would the influence of a non-temporal, non-material sub- or meta-structure or entity be restricted in any way by time or space?

PJK
August 5th, 1998







12: Deconstructive Reconstruction

To explore reality is not just a simple thing if one wants to get a deeper understanding for the "nature of things". The difficulties we meet on our way resist questioning and explanations, they might be targeted by science and philosophy and religion but will never be fully described. The reasons for this lack of capability to describe the world around us lie both within the construction of things and - more importantly - in our inability to to describe reality with a neutral medium of messaging. What we use, what we have to use, is language in the most general idea; but language is never free of personal implications and connotations and undertones, and the mind, which creates language to make an utterance, the mind itself is again much too personal to be able to create an objective perspective.

The difficulties within the object of research result from the connection which can be found within every part of reality - there is nothing like complete isolation. Physical and temporal matter and energy are always connected; today we can say that they are connected on a quantum or string level, one day we might even discover something like subspace (which is a very theoretical possibility in physics, but a very real one in sf like Star Trek). Aside from that kind of link, reality - if subject to explanation - forms a discourse; several concepts and artificially created categories are linked to each other so that one could just create sub-discourses or models to being able to handle a complex topic.

Out of the decision to divide the discourse of reality into smaller discourses, and out of the method which negated the discursive nature of things to create small divisions and sub-divisions of scientific and everyday thinking, problems have been created - an attempt to simplify things would lead into the creation of illusions - illusions of something like absolute structures and bipolar oppositions have led to certain ways of thinking which would eventually become disturbing, hindering or even dangerous and injust. Separations that were created artificially by humans have been supported by this "scientific" perspective; exploitation or discrimination or even extinction of other humans and groups of humans was being backed up; the classical examples are discriminations regarding to race, class or gender in every field of society, literature and science.

Post-structuralism works with deconstruction, which is the process of examination and inspection of such illusions to come up with a better solution and to decloak hidden agendas and hidden motives which would have been disguised before. Deconstruction would then reveal that those structures are nothing essential; it would show the very personal, very mixed and very unstatic and unstable nature of every kind of perception and description; in especially the fictional character of reality.

The final step would be a reconstruction on the basis of the former deconstruction, the attempt to create a new order of thinking, a new method of communicating with each other. We will not abandon language because of its personal and indefinite character, but if we are aware of the problems within language and any system of thinking and description we use, we can avoid certain problems and mis-interpretations and finally arrive at a better description of reality, at a description that would focus much more on the personal and individual character of reality.

PJK
August 5th, 1998

(The entire essay was minimally reworked by January 20th 2001, concerning spelling and minor corrections, while the substance of it was left intact.)






Endnotes

[4] Hayden White p. 9f
[4a] I have come to modify my position towards the term of "capitalism", for a different view, especially in contrasting it to Marxism, see my essay "Webs of Deception", and for its relation to culture, see my paper "The Scope of Culture".
[8] Corinthians I: 13,1-13; King James Version

For a bibliography, please check the Selected Bibliography page.





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