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MASKS AND JUDGEMENT

Section Index


  1. Deconstructing Knowledge
  2. Deconstructing the Unexplained
  3. Deconstructing Belief
  4. Deconstructing Deconstruction
  5. Preferences and Anticipations
  6. A Variety of Options
    Interlude
  1. The Mask of Perfection
  2. The Mask of Sanity
  3. The Mask of Conclusion
  4. Chaos and Order
  5. The Logics of Judgement
  6. Collecting the Pieces

  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caveat: As can be inferred from the date of publication, this article may no longer represent my current views and style.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: Deconstructing Knowledge

After so many thoughts on critical elements of post-structuralism, and after quite a long but necessary break, this essay will return to the topic but lead a bit into another direction; trying again what the previous essay aimed for: To link issues of philosophy with issues of metaphysics and religion; to use the connection between some concepts behind post-structuralism and science fiction; to once again proceed to explore the faces of the unexplained.

Judging from an observer's perspective, because that's what I merely am, an observer; the link between post-structuralism and science fiction seems to be much stronger than perhaps suspected. That's also the reason why I included the first essay on these general discussion pages, Extraterrestrial Life, into them; also a reason for maintaining a site dedicated not just to philosophy but also to television; it is merely a matter of the medium, of the messenger: I know it's not the traditional approach, but isn't this again something post-structuralism is about? To go beyond traditions if they prove unproductive somehow?

What post-structuralism and science fiction do is very similar: They deconstruct knowledge, whereas sf could be called the practical and post-structuralism the theoretrical approach. The object is always to make the audience aware of new and different possibilities, to open the eyes of the beholders to make them able to look behind the scenes, behind the scenery, behind reality; to make them aware of themselves. Both approaches might start somewhere at the outside but will always lead right into the inner self of each one who deals with them: The personal perspective is a crucial criterion for any attempt to define and re-define knowledge. It is about our very own and very personal view of reality; and how to use it. That's why any of such approaches cannot exist without a background supported by ethics and morality.

Deconstructing knowledge is a very private thing: For acquiring knowledge is hard work, to be done by each one of us on their own. There are people who might assist us in this search for revelation, there are teachers and professors and writers and producers of fiction, and of course priests, but the place where all of that which is coming to us will have to rest is our brain, - it is our own responsibility to deal with the information we gather during our life, it is our responsibility to develop means of our own to decide what path to take and what answers to accept - and what questions to ask. There is always an agenda, behind any action. This is a purpose of deconstruction: To discover these agenda and by this get a chance to change one's perspective.

A change of perspective is crucial for science. That's the reason why some cultures might weaken and even eventually disappear if they are not bound to improve themselves each day, if they are not bound to look into the future but into the present or the past. Each culture, may it be just one person or a whole country, which cannot move forward, adapt to new situations and try to make a way of their own will some day get lost - this is also a process of evolution. Deconstructing knowledge is acquiring new knowledge. It is a matter of survival, not of choice. That doesn't mean that one has to surrender to other ideas or convictions; but without questioning the world around us we might get lost. That's called decadence.

PJK
September 17th, 1998







2: Deconstructing the Unexplained

Again I want to take a look at the word "deconstruction". Doesn't it look awfully like a crossing between "destruction" and "construction"? And that again is what deconstruction means: the "de-" takes something apart (Lat.: away, apart), the "con-" leads something together (Lat.: together, or used as emphasis), the "-stru(c)-" builds something (Lat. "struere": to build), the "-tio(n)" tells us that the whole word is a noun made out of a verb: An activity which is described by an abstract concept. Deconstruction. A pretty much abstract concept (By the way, yes, I enjoyed my Latin classes).

Abstract? Well, deconstruction can be a very concrete thing when it is used to explore issues of society, history, tradition, art etc. But in this very special case, deconstruction is very abstract: How to deconstruct something that is unknown per definition? How to deconstruct the unexplained? That's the issue of this web site, an issue I tend to deal with in a certain way, trying to approach it from different sides. I know that I won't be able to really explain the un-explained (for unexplained often means in-explicable, at least for us and for our time and our possibilities). An abstract action to be performed on an abstract concept. Perfect.

But deconstruction does also mean kind of a simplification. Yes, in the beginning deconstruction is anything else but a simpler process than others - but it pays off. Deconstruction is a much more thorough process of science, leading to deeper understanding. Like any other approach it cannot be performed on its own - or for its own sake; there will always remain the necessity to access it with so called 'common sense'. But at the end, we will arrive at a new picture of reality, a new reflection of what we see in our mind and declare as absolute truth and absolute reality.

Deconstruction of the unexplained at first hand means a definition of the unexplained, a de-finition in the very basic sense of the word: To confine the target area, to limit it, to extract the essence, the core of un-explanation (if you believe in essence). To be concrete, this means something like accepting the idea that an overwhelming percentage of all UFO sightings has its origin in either fake or error. That would at first need a lot of effort (to differenciate between fakes and non-fakes) but would lead to data much more reliable than before. At second hand, it is questioning the agenda and the validity of each piece of data. This would be quite a painstaking process again, demanding too.

What could the result be? Answers? Some. That's the nature of science: Answers exist and are revealed time and again, but with answers questions come and demand for new answers, creating new aspects and categories of the unexplained. There will always be missing links, loose ends, unanswered questions, unexplained phenomena. The degree of our understanding and knowledge might grow, but it will always be exceeded by the part consumed by the unexplained.

PJK
September 19th, 1998







3: Deconstructing Belief

Deconstructing agendas includes agendas seldomly described as such, among those I count belief. For what is an agenda but an intention, a mind-set, an idea that makes a person act, makes them an agent - agenda means motivation. Belief is such a motivation, propelling us into action, providing us with thoughts, understanding, models of interpretation and inspiration and - last but not least - hope and energy. But belief is something not really to grasp, not really to determine, to define, to fixate, to explain.

The concept behind belief is a complex set of ideas, all of them creating a mixture of knowledge and emotions which one could describe as belief. It is a very personal matter, varying in its specifics but somehow the same in key elements. Belief means support, safety and solidity - it gives us a certain look on reality. Belief creates and dominates and is our version of reality: For what we see is what we believe - or is it not better to say that what we believe to see is what we see, and what we then see (after believing in its existence) is what again supports our belief? A circular argument of perception? Anticipation governing perception? Again a question of awareness[1]?

There are a lot of things people believe in, but there is somehow a differentiation to be made between "major" and "minor" versions of belief. It is somehow true that I believe that I will wake up tomorrow morning when the alarm beep of my wristwatch tells me to, but I wouldn't call that an essential belief. Of course I have come to rely on that watch, but I would not say that I'm believing in it. But tomorrow morning it will tell me to go to church, leading to the one I do believe in. I do not know what people believe in when they're saying that they don't believe in God (or a comparable spiritual concept if I can call God a spiritual concept), but I guess they do believe in something. And perhaps some of them do believe in their watch.

Belief is spread throughout the world in many different variations, with some religions gaining quite a followership, others being somewhat smaller. Some concepts similar to religion do not even call themselves a religion, for instance science or philosophy. That's perhaps because the traditional conception of a religion is much too limited to the range of established religions[2]. Even the image of God is somehow a human construction - our understanding of God is indeed a concept, designed to fit our understanding and experience. That's why religious writings are always using an allegoric style, telling in images and parables what cannot be told directly. We have no other choice: Any religion can offer just a model of understanding; I have come to accept this. What I have accepted as truth might in some parts collide with what others have, but that's the nature of things. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

What would we get if we truly deconstructed belief? The mind-set of the people if they had no belief at all? Desperation? Chaos? If we had no motivation, then the cause for each effect would cease to exist. Without belief of any kind, might we understand it or not, a human being would not be able to exist in this world. Maybe believing that one will wake up the next day looks not so simple anymore now: Another day, another chance. Hope. And the growing determination to survive, to ensure the day after the next day will again be a day we wake up. Hope also for improvement and a chance to continue one's own personal quest for revelation. Religion or not, belief is a personal matter. Religions are merely guidelines, without individuality and without dealing with issues of religion a confession is no worth. Contrary to the marxist perspective, religions require the people to think about it, they inspire them to have a life and to improve themselves. This again leads back to belief, to motivation, to a very basic element of life.

PJK
September 19th, 1998







4: Deconstructing Deconstruction

Deconstruction could not be effective without deconstructing deconstruction itself. Deconstruction as well as post-structuralism will not be valid without questioning them, questioning their motives, questioning critical areas, demanding for transparency and certain ethical and moral backgrounds. If post-structuralism is saying that authority is merely a construction, the same holds true for the authority of any kind of philosophy - including post-structuralism itself. The point is that there is a need to question agendas and motives, to deconstruct a certain philosphy - that might undermine its authority or even destroy it if it doesn't prove valid; but if it does, such a process would solidify it.

What are the motives behind deconstruction? The masks it is hiding behind? The judgement on which basis it is founded? Because that is what deconstruction really is, like any kind of science and philosophy and religion: An attempt to explore and govern reality by describing, defining, labeling, cataloging and re-structuring it - that's an act of force, a judgement performed by judges who are philosophers and writers and artists and scientists. The kind of judgement varies with each kind of philosophy, and post-structuralism makes the audience especially aware of the connection between language / denotation / description and power (esp. Foucault and Derrida). But anyway, without motives and a will to define something (even if it is a non-definition), an attempt to use a certain force is made.

The motive behind post-structuralism? Well, I cannot give that answer, and to be true: I think no one can. There is nothing like 'the' post-structuralism; there are always individual interpretations and versions and modifications. There are some general elements associated with post-structuralist thinking, but just as it is with any philosophy, all those thoughts are uttered by people. I will and can and dare not speak for them, I can only speak for myself. For my agenda behind my version of post-structuralism.

I encountered post-structuralism at university, at a seminar in literary studies. I've found those ideas quite fitting as they seemed to be the logical consequence of previous thinking and studies of mine. So what is my personal piece of history concerning such ideas? As you might have noticed, I'm a fan of science fiction in various forms, and I'm also a fan of The X-Files. For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of Star Trek. Also I have read some books and articles on quantum physics, elementary particles, chaos theory and some spiritual stuff. I found post-structuralism the ideal theory which combined lots of elements from my other interests; also fitting into Roman-Catholic belief. SF has always been questioning reality and tradition and conventional thinking; a common ground with post-structuralism. And with deconstruction, I've always liked crime stories and conspiracy theories; deconstruction is like a detective plot: discovering all the evidence, following the traces, combining everything together, and as a result having reconstructed a certain issue.

So post-structuralism is something I have found valid for myself; but that wouldn't mean that this philosophy could be my only source of inspiration and motivation. As stated above, I have various interests - they mix together and somehow stay productive. The interest of mine behind this productivity? That I don't really know. It is a natural component of mine, I just want to write something. The result obvious for you now is this web site; nothing more than a chance for me to get heard. I see this as a natural element of curiosity: Thinking also means talking or uttering one's thoughts. Again: An effect causing itself[3].

PJK
September 20th, 1998







5: Preferences and Anticipations

Again some words on cause and effect, on a concept widely accepted and nearly never questioned except by some freaky philosophers or physicists or other people interested in that kind of stuff; e.g. science fiction (should you dare putting sf somewhere near philosophy or physics). What does that mean, a widely accepted concept or idea? Does that make something more true than without public acceptance? Of course not - but it provides a certain theory with a much greater basis, it enables ideas to spread more easily within the global community; but once it has spread, it holds a certain danger within it, originating from the kind of innate inertia of the human mind: To accept change just slowly.

Is there really a necessity to make a change within the common concept or even condemn it once and for all? To answer this question, one would have to bear in mind that any attempt of description can and will only be a model, a symbolic and allegoric envisioning of a much more complicated and intertwined matter, for material beings never really to grasp. Such models of course have quite an importance, for without them we wouldn't be able to understand reality at all. Belonging to such models are instruments like language and communication in general, thinking and imagination, any kind of calculation trying to define but a small part of a much larger system by simplifying and extrapolating remaining or unknown data. That means that we will never have anything like the whole truth, a whole and unbroken and unbreakable image of reality, an absolutely valid theory of everything, for everybody to grasp and to accept.

But what now with post-structuralist ideas, with any new idea, even if it in fact might be very old? How to deal with it? Why bothering about new theories when they wouldn't give us the whole truth and a perfect interpretation and analysis anyway? What use would there be for trying if there were no chance of succeeding? I have answered that already in a way[4] - there is no choice. This might sound like a very poor and weak argument, but it is within our nature to improve ourselves, to explore the world around us. Curiosity is not just a nice way to enrich one's life, it is also a very basic component of survival: Change and adaptation and motivation are essential for evolution. Even if we wanted to, we cannot escape evolution, we cannot escape the inevitabilities of life: hunger, tiredness, weakness, sickness, physical death.

New ideas might not always sound like what one would usually prefer or anticipate; they might even contain parts which seem uncomfortable or disturbing or even dangerous. But there is no way escaping the consequences: New ideas trying to improve our view of reality are always a chance to get a better model of reality; this again allowing us to understand reality better, this then helping us to define ourselves, to unlock our potential while at the same time maintaining our ethical foundations or even widening them. The result will be a next step into a better future; new ideas mean new sciences, new technologies, new advances, new possibilities. There might be dangers too, but often technology also grants us the solutions to these problems. And then, our problems are not originating from technology or science but from humans misusing new ideas either because of incompetence or deliberation.

Preferences and anticipations which will be encountered by new ideas often present themselves in a harmless-looking way, masking themselves with nice slogans and catchy phrases, relying on hollow concepts like tradition or history, justifying their own inadequacies and mistakes, protecting their 'achievements' and prosperity, protecting old ideas and doctrines whose only function would be to uphold their power. Such prejudices, such pre-judgement is almost always driven by fear and inertia; hindering society from moving forward. Changes come slowly but inevitably; effects of such changes should result in accepting and supporting the infinite diversity in infinite combinations; like ending slavery and racism and discrimination and poverty and suppression.

PJK
September 24th, 1998







6: A Variety of Options

Approaching an attempt to catalog or to evaluate the unexplained surrounding us everywhere can be a process of choice, of choice between various options dealing with the unexplained. The options would vary in regard to the given task and to the anticipated result - determining by the method chosen the result preferred. How easily this might lead to erroneous data or faulty assumptions has been proven throughout history so many times - arguments can be made both in favor of or against a certain assumption or theory, with neither of both being really believable. What we mostly get is a choice between two options, one more fitting (from a personal viewpoint) and one less - the final choice and decision is again very personal; and if personal views become doctrines, their only hope to survive is to mask themselves with the help of instruments like history and tradition.

The usual attempt is the interpretation of data - a process based upon contemporary understanding and technology and anticipations. That's not necessarily the beginning of a circular argument, but it is very likely that current trends would somehow influence the search - as well as the result of this search. And in case there would be extraordinary people ignoring traditional thinking and arriving at new answers through something like a leap of faith; they are at first ignored, perhaps even punished - and only heard if their new answers somehow could be of importance to the contemporary system. Even today's science has some of those characteristics - just think of the issue of Extraterrestrial Life.

Analysis would be a different approach, clinging much more to facts and data and at least trying to ignore personal preferences and anticipations. With the method of analysis, a groundwork is established which feels much more solid, much more based upon a common understanding of things - by reducing the process to a minimum agreement, to a less personal point of view. So much about the theory of analysis - in reality, who of us would be able to overcome the innate restrictions, the incorporated personal judgement, the unavoidable inclusion of contemporary and personal values and preferences? Could it be anyhow different? All that we are, all that we will ever be, is depending on the influence of the world around us, depending on others to inform us, support us, teach us, manipulate us. The atmosphere and result of this process of mutual manipulation is a connection between reality and fiction, a connection impossible to break.

A comparison between both methods would probably speak in favor of both and none of the above mentioned attempts. Why and how could that be? Because none of them could be able to really explain everything. The method of analysis would try to lack personal agendas while the only hope for interpretation would consist of them. But how to lack them if we are not enabled to decide and differ between reality and fictionized reality? Alas, if no single one of us has ever seen reality 'as it is', how to talk about something which in fact has stayed unknown for ever and will continue to do so? What point is there in creating and sustaining and nurturing the illusion of absolute reality if it per se can not be disconnected from the underlying and intertwined fiction? It seems that - inspite of all the advantages of analysis - interpretation is the much more honest way - if it doesn't pretend to be anything else than a personal point of view.

So what? What might be the results of such a quest, such an attempt to discover a truth hidden behind masks of fiction? If all our attempts of discovery will ultimately fail, what could be our hope of understanding? It had to be a method accepting personal agendas, a method anyhow trying to stick to the facts, a method bound more to logics than to judgement, a method both trying to provide us with answers and at the same time accepting its inability to eventually decloak the myth of fiction. The chosen attempt - as you might have realized by now through my personal preferences - is of course deconstruction - an attempt, nothing more, to step by step isolate small fragments, small pieces of the whole to perhaps at least be able to make an educated guess and gain some understanding of the greater picture. But then, deconstruction is nothing more than an instrument, not excluding or replacing ethics and faith.

PJK
September 27th, 1998







Interlude

After considering various options of searching, after spending some time on deconstruction and its effects, capabilities and incapabilities, this essay will turn away a bit from a more philosophical to a more religious perspective. With some previous utterances of mine concerning connections between both fields of searching I will now continue pursuing these connections; this way deconstructing much more personal views, dealing with convictions much more personal and even much less confined by restrictions made by science or common ground. So the following parts might even more so evoke questions or questioning - I'm aware of that.

The border between science and religion does not really exist; it is an artificial construction, a categorization made out of various reasons which might not be discovered in total. What are motives then if not intentions driving other intentions that demand for action? Agendas favoring a separation of various fields of science and thought of course would enable us to set up priorities more easily; a categorization is a simple act of enforcing order on a certain amount of knowledge. But despite this perhaps even innocent action, the created (or enforced) order wil soon develop a life of its own; fueling assumptions and interpretations made only possible by the order itself. For example: There cannot be a truly historical science without connnection to other faculties like arts, anthropology, language or geography. This holds true for any kind of science: At critical points, one will need to refer to other fields of expertise. Such it is with religion and science, too. Both rely on knowledge, application of that knowledge, and faith in the method itself and in a very personal connection of oneselve's with the world.

Judgement is made anytime, judging opinions, facts, people on the basis of a personal view of the world. Such judgements are not always our own; often and intentionally they are brought to us by others, by outsiders (for any one is at first an outsider in our mind but our own - f the idea of having a mind of one's own could be accepted): parents, relatives, friends, priests, teachers, professors, culture, politics, complete strangers. But it is also a matter of awareness: It is us who accept the ideas coming from outside, it is us who integrate those ideas into our view of reality. Outside and personal judgement meld and contribute and create again a personal judgement, which again could (and always intends to) influence others. Flow of judgement is flow of ideas; any idea contains some kind of judgement within, some preferences and anticipations, some proof and some belief.

It is a questions of how we mask judgements, how we even try not to call them that way: Judgement sometimes seems to be quite a harsh word, we prefer to think of a world where we all could live and think freely, develop ourselves on our own, live our lives, being ourselves, our own selves being true - but this would contradict to the interconnectiveness, the intertwinedness, the interrelatedness of reality. Those connections are no modern idea; they have been there all the time. Best example is an ecosystem; a chaotic system imposing order on itself - eventually creating a stable, balanced and interwoven community where everybody is depending on the other. Society is just a bit more complex for we have enlarged possibilities for communications and in that way also enlarged capabilities to share our thoughts, to somehow be connected with a stream of consciousness. We might try to uphold our masks of individuality and they will hold in some areas (they are constructed to hold, aren't we constructed to believe they'd hold?) - but individuality is something like a semi-illusion[5].

The very human attribute of convenience might help us out with the possible confusion created by such thoughts. Convenience leads to clinging to ideas we have accepted, have come to trust and include into our personal view of reality. Change is problematic as it would challenge a lifetime of ours and our outside influences'; it could be understood as being barbaric, undermining tradition and society on no basis whatsoever, creating havoc instead of order. I know it is sometimes pretty convenient and easy to simply describe something 'as it is' because 'it has always been this way'. But such formulas are no argument at all - they are just empty and hollow masks, supposed to contain concepts, but when opened, they provide no answers. That doesn't mean that there would not be any answers - we just have to look at the containers we trust our knowledge to, we have to open them and check the label to see if they are still able to contain and to support what they are supposed to. Sometimes this checking will lead us to empty containers, containing just hollow phrases and leading nowhere. That's because all of those containers are man-made; so they cannot be perfect - and have to be checked from time to time.

PJK
October 2nd, 1998







7: The Mask of Perfection

If a process of deconstruction can be applied to complex abstract phenomena like tradition and history, it of course can also be applied to abstract thoughts concerning more concrete and perhaps more day-to-day concepts - to the nature of human life itself, to the ways we exist in our surroundings, to the ways we move and stay within a given frame, how we expand our borders, how we are being restricted by them, how we present ourselves, what masks we are wearing, what masks we observe with others. The world as a stage - and we are the actors, although sometimes we might just feel like extras or even a piece of furnishing.

What is perfection then? A goal, an abstract concept - abstract also in another way because we will never reach it. Perfection is nothing to be associated with material life; there are always uncertainties and uncompletedness and variance to be found. That's also both the grounds for and effect of evolution: Change is everywhere, static nowhere, both because nothing material would be as perfect as to endure for ever, and - secondly - because evolution would not let anything material endure forever. The omnipresent indicators of this evolutionary force can for instance be seen within corrosion, erosion, shifting of positions of continental plates, movement of galaxies and stars and planets etc.; as well as physical birth and physical death.

Why cannot there be perfection? Perhaps per-fection would be such a definite, limited, much too closed concept; the possibility of improvement would not exist. Material perfection would inevitably mean a deadlock, a stand-still, a creative emptyness. The need to improve oneself originates from the incompleteness of any material state, of any efforts we might have made in our lives, of any thought, written or not. The following realization would be that of a never perfect world, of a never completed work - always demanding for ongoing activity.

Such a realization of course could lead to some kind of depressive mood: To know that all we are doing will - at least in the material world - be just a temporary success, just a short-lived and never complete attempt; with such a realization one might feel quite uncomfortable. And to be honest, I feel that too - although I have accepted it. That's why I'll never want to quit writing. The delusions we encounter on our ways want to make us believe that there could be perfect answers for material life, perfect solutions, perfect dictations - there is nothing like that. Material life will never be perfect; only the immaterial part of ourselves could reach that aim. But as long as we are connected to spacetime, we are bound by its rules of imperfection, evolution and entropy.

The mask of perfection is breaking, it is being shattered by reality itself. With perfection deconstructed and even destructed, shown to have been an illusion, other illusions will vanish too: The illusions of superiority as well as the illusion of inferiority, the illusion of power as well as the illusion of weakness, the illusion of greatness as well as the illusion of humbleness. The result will again be a much more complex, much more personal view of reality, accepting and embracing and being fueled by individuality.

PJK
October 6th, 1998







8: The Mask of Sanity

The already mentioned underlying imperfection of all material life is part of the system, a part perfectly integrated into the system; a system created to be imperfect. This allows development, change and motivation - although it also creates despair and desparation; demanding for answers where there are none available, questioning the sense behind even when it would not have a result but on the contrary only would enlarge our difficulties to look behind the curtain, behind the tapestry of life and creation.

Consequences of the inbuilt imperfection of the system of reality are evident: Evolution needs flaws and dangers. Even if this might be a giant holodeck, a giant illusion of matter and energy with the substance lying beyond still uncovered, even then the safety protocols are disabled; this might be a game but the stakes are high. This is not a child's play, this is a matter of life and death. There is no arguing around it - death is a part of life as well as life itself; death is necessary to keep the system running. Death is also the gate to the immaterial world, how ever that might look like.

Death allows alternations and developments. It is a matter of how we are dying, it is a matter of responsibility. The inevitability of death doesn't mean that causing death would suddenly be a positive effort - on the contrary. Even if death might be an integral part of life, it is not our decision of when and how it happens. Sometimes in history there are arguments being created to take us away from that path, arguments constructed to allow inhumane measures to be taken. The mask of righteousness, the mask of sanity is being constructed - to serve a certain purpose.

Masks are excuses for what they are hiding, they do not want to tell us something directly in order to hinder hidden agendas from being exposed. Also, masks can be a safety measure to prevent the detection of personal weakness and imperfection; they are supposed to obstruct the judgement of an observer. The mask of sanity also means a barrier, a border creating also a definition of insanity - both in a mental and not necessarily physical sense. It is also a question of normality; common words can become weapons and will be exploited by those without conscience. Sanity is often connected with purity; the cruelities of the Nazi regime show what can be the consequences of such a division based upon agendas to strengthen a certain political position.

Considering all those concepts or ideas we might have accepted as 'normal' or at least as present, for a change to come, transgressions would have to follow. Transgressions following modifications in the traditional thinking; but how to achieve that? There cannot be a modification of concepts by force; there cannot and must not be a dictation or prescription. The method would have to be somewhat pragmatic - as deconstruction, too, is a very pragmatic approach. The underlying agenda then should be one supporting humanity and individuality. New masks will appear, but we should watch closely - remembering that the non-existence of perfection implies the existence of disturbance; that might include, of Evil.

PJK
October 6th, 1998







9: The Mask of Conclusion

Here we have to deal with per-fection again: The illusion of possible perfection tangles a lot of areas, deluding us into believing that there would be a time or a moment when all the action and all the saying in this material world could come to an end: conclusion, a coming to an end without incompleteness, conclusion as completeness and fulfillment - an illusion again, at least in our surroundings. How then could there be conclusion if there is no perfection? There can be definite measures, that's true, definite destruction and definite creation, but the very process would not cease to progress further - progressing is an essential element of life, evolution, transformation, development - just look at the etymology of those words, their meaning is very precise, indicating nothing else than continuing movement. Language contains the essence (granted there is one) of the concepts very well. Perfection and conclusion can exist only on a very restricted level, restricted both in a temporal and a spatial dimension.

There exists a variety of efforts to reach conclusion or at least to come near to it. Throughout history, throughout also the history of science, there have been views of reality hoping for the existence of conclusion, even constructing it. Very restricted analyses of physical or chemical systems might even indicate such a conclusion; but this would work only for the model, only for the constructed artificial structure - a model is created to represent certain features believed to be critical for a certain analysis. For example, if analyzing the effects of gravity, the only important parts of an experiment at first will be mass, height and the gravity constant. In such a controlled environment, a feather will reach the ground at exactly the same time as a stone if both things are released at the same time and from the same height. But if this controlled, concluded, system would be opened to more realistic conditions, if also the size and shape of the object now mattered, air resistance will make a difference. And if not just air resistance is taken into account but also currents of air and tiny irregularities on the surface of the objects, if the macrocosmic perspective would turn to a microcosmic one, soon erratic and chaotic particle behavior would make any exact prediction of the once so easy calculation impossible. Conclusion existed with the simple formula FG=m·g·h (FG = force of gravity; m = mass; g = planetary gravity constant; h = height), but the system has changed to a set of variables, most of them unknown or intertwined, a non-linear system: chaos.

So here I am back again at physics, with chaos theory[6] - sorry to bother you with that, but it is a good demonstration of what philosophy seems to intend to tell us with some parts of post-structuralism. Science is supporting these theories as well, leading away from easy answers and pointing into a direction even science doesn't seem to want to go to. Chaos is sort of unpredictable but can also lead to stable systems - like an ecosystem, or even like a planetary system: The positions of the planets seem to be clear, all surrounding the sun because of its gravity - but then all the planets have gravity of their own, so have their moons. The effects of those minor gravity fields might very well add up to disturb and eventually destroy the system; we cannot tell how the Solar System will look like in some thousand years or how it looked like some thousand years before. Chaotic systems may lead to some kind of equilibrium, but it would be a stable state filled with instability. Conclusion and perfection are temporary phenomena, in the long run they are illusions.

The instability, the chaotic character of any system, is rooted in the inability to create a really closed system. So what remains is an open system, a discourse of material and mental energy. Each and every part of the system is constantly influencing any other part, directly or indirectly. That's what quantum physics, chaos theory and - on the philosophical level - post-structuralism have revealed. The open system or discourse allows change, it supports modifications and mutations, it has a life of its own. For a detailed analysis, one could split the discourse into smaller discourses, but they would at the end all belong together. A division of the discourse would again be an artificial construction: How to part something which has no limits? How to divide infinity? Half an infinity is still infinity; as well as half of nothing is still nothing. Mathematics is of no help any more under such conditions.

The contradiction of conclusion is extending into various areas, always conclusion is something aimed for but never to be reached. How to live with that? I think it is the same as with perfection. It might look like a disadvantage, but it is also an opportunity, leaving us in a much greater and much more complicated system but also providing us with much more options, much more possibilities and much more chances than we might think. What happens afterwards, after our death and before our birth, remains unclear but surely will be connected somehow to this reality. Perhaps there will be conclusion at last.

PJK
October 7th, 1998







10: Chaos and Order

With the view of reality probably distorted, with the prospects to find the truth diminished or gone, with expectations somewhat lowered, with personal preferences and trends recognized, with just belief - hopefully - having stayed; the outlook on life and the future would have changed, but into what direction? Firstly, reviewing the process of deconstruction, ongoing questioning and de- as well as re-structuralization, the result and method seems to be just havoc. Old concepts losing their ground - at least seemingly so. The deconstructed view will somehow be new, somehow partly anticipated by past ideas. Anyhow, it will not seem to fit into the established views. At first sight.

When the dust will have settled and chaos quietened a bit, new concepts or old concepts with a new or refreshed face will appear, additionally new structures will arise. The new 'order', so to say, even if it is fighting artificial and unnecessary limiting structures, will again create structures, definitions, preferences and anticipations. The difference with post-structuralism is that it is especially aimed at not doing this while being aware of this somehow nave view (which will cease to be nave when being aware of the navet). So what's the deal? Creating havoc unnecessarily, distorting the view of reality while at the end possibly stagnating or resignating?

Of course am I overstating, of course am I looking for holes and weaknesses within the edifice of post-structuralism and deconstruction. If a new approach is to prevail, it has to stand the test not just of time but of its own methods, too. Deconstructinig deconstruction will - as with any philosophy - reveal agendas and preferences; but they will prove different than older views and philosophies. Structures against structures are structures too - but what is a structure then? A set of variables describing a certain condition, opinion/intention, observation or rules/limitations. What post-structuralism does is a limitation or reduction of this definition: Conditions are revealed as being not absolute but relative truths - observations or interpretations of observations (i.e. opinions). Rules are shown as being based upon opinions - again personal and relative facts (or constructed facts). Both are not anymore unquestioned absolute truths. Opinions are shown as not being that individual - by referring to some kind of a universal field of fiction - a stream of consciousness or a river of souls. Observations are deconstructed as being dependent on anticipations and technology.

So what post-structuralism does is revealing the limitating character of traditional structures. The aim is to create structures which are not limiting but merely describing - and accepting diversity and variety. Where limiting structures are maintained or even sustained, they are seen crucial for a working society. So post-structuralism will not antagonize ethics, personal responsibility, justice or state. It aims at reviewing the accepted limitations thoroughly - ensuring that limitations will remain within acceptable limits. Also, post-structuralism is not as much a fixed doctrine as other philosophies. It is per definition pragmatic and supporting diversity, so it could gain a greater possible acceptance within society.

From chaos to order? Not exactly. Chaos has been recognized and accepted as being quite fundamental; so it is tried to be contained, to be tamed, to be used. Order is just a temporary state, frozen chaos, with chaotic elements still present in the form of evolution and entropy. Entropy itself is a central element of chaos - an inbuilt diffusion and divergence and creation of diversity, an expansion into space, time and minds. Anentropy is an act of force, within 'normal' spacetime an irregularity (although it is assumed that areas of anentropy could exist within the universe(s)). Anentropy is limitation - entropy de- and re-structurizing. Post-structuralism is integrating entropy as a method.

PJK
October 10th, 1998







11: The Logics of Judgement

Structures arise on behalf of judgements - personal intentions and opinions demanding for action or change or implementation. The agenda behind is - as stated above many times - a critical element; it reveals the purposes and restrictions of a certain judgement. No judgement can be free from such agendas, no judgement can be free from intertextual contexts, from initial intentions - but will then develop a life of its own. Actions set in motion will soon free themselves from their origin and connect to a greater whole; following the c(o)urse of chaos and entropy they will become independent from initial judgement.

The character of judgement would depend on the kind of the judgement, the message, the intention. From this view, means and aim are equally important. The relativity of action could demand for a modification of ethical rules - could establish basics for an emergency. In certain cases this could lead to bending the rules, to expand the range of options justified - but such an alteration would always be problematic. Mostly, such modifications of judgement would seem justified in case of assistance in an emergency, out of self-defense or prevent even worse action.

Such modifications are critical because they could easily lead to justifications of ethical failure, to euphemism or delusion. Answers to those problems, answers to the problem of justice and judging are always problematic - for justice is based upon an established system of rules, upon very basic rules, upon very basic commandments - and it is surely not the aim of post-structuralism to defy those rules. There is no question that murder remains murder, rape remains rape, theft remains theft. But apart from those crimes, especially totalitarian and discriminative states "invent" new crimes by limiting the natural rights of human beings. Restrictions of human rights can easily be justi-fied, constructed to be just, in order to protect an inhuman system. Overcome and unjustified judgement is to be defied and shall be overcome.

Interests and agendas can never be excluded from judgement, but they have to be made visible, the judgement has to be made transparent to judge the judges' decisions. Often, wrong judgement exposes itself by its own methods, by the means it takes. In some cases, the intentions might not originate from the assumed originator - hiding its influence, operating in the dark and never dealing with the public. The conventional description of such an influence would be called a conspiracy. But often, it doesn't need a conspiracy to hide the truth.

The power needed for judgement is originating from various sources, but since the beginning of mankind they have very much stayed the same. Economical and political influence are still the primary motivations, paired with the power of speech: A very important element of building and sustaining artificial structures is the power of language, the linguistical creation of concepts and meanings[7]. Intentions behind everything, but what intentions are behind the intentions themselves? We won't be able to penetrate the mask of individuality, to leave the limitations of material existence. What is behind, stays hidden but can be deconstructed to a certain extend, to at least take a glimpse at a part of the truth.

PJK
October 12th, 1998







12: Collecting the Pieces

Again we look at quite a chaotic building of thoughts, at quite a devastating result of deconstruction, quite a change of the conventional perspective. But where does this chaos come from? From deconstruction? From talking about it? From the people engaged in post-structuralism and science fiction? Merely from some bored and rebellious eggheads having nothing else to do than create havoc? - - - On the very contrary: The chaotic anti-structure is innate to reality, essential even? But although it is true that perception can change the result of observation, as stated by the uncertainty principle, this observation per se reveals the chaotic and personal character of things, reveals this individuality and chaos as basic principles.

If the result of such post-structuralistic approaches would be falling structures, the other result can and will be a rising understanding of the nature of things, slowly and infinitely approaching the unexplained. This is the way science works - for new ideas and improvements old ideas will have to be modified. This process takes some time and will not always be pleasant, but if it leads to a much better view of reality and improvements for human and other life, it is worth the thought.

Deconstruction might seem to fight against structures, and this would be entirely true, but the structures deconstruction is attacking are nothing essential - they are just masks, hollow phrases, based upon convenience and custom and tradition. If there is not a solid basis - may it be knowledge or belief - for such structures, they have to be destroyed to be rebuilt again in a better, improved, true way. But if there is no such basis, reconstruction would not be possible. There is neither a need nor a justification for rebuilding prejudice, war, hatred, zealotry or evil.

The judgements we make determine our thinking and our actions, they are crucial adaptations of intentions arising in us, originating from a common fiction or a river of souls. Such a common origin usually can be described as the wholeness of all influences we encounter during our lives, but it can and will also have another basis based upon processes and theories not yet officially established by science. Such influences would result from the connection of our mental energy and identity (what could be described as our soul) with our first cause and origin and future - with God, if you do not oppose such a concept. On this level, every life, every part of reality is connected - no time, no space, no separations. Complete understanding - but not for us material beings in our material world, not now, not here. We are just at the outer limits of such a connection.

So where have we arrived? The only description I could give would be that of inconclusive conclusions - and we can not expect anything else. The hunt for absolute and definite answers will (and shall) never be over - but it will never reach its final aim in our material world. Every conclusion is inconclusive except we construct it to be conclusive by limiting the criteria and borders, by creating an artificial system of structures to get a model simulating basic elements of our search. But with any answer we get, new questions arise. Chaos never ends - conclusive inconclusiveness.

PJK
October 14th, 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

[7] as shown by Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, see Bibliography

For a bibliography, please check the Selected Bibliography page.





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