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[Xmca-l] Re: Connecting and stability
Hi Larry and others,
Is, as a verb is not like other verbs, which have to do with action. I'm not a linguist, but off the top, I don't think there is a verb that doesn't have to do with action other than "to be." At least in English. We use "becoming" to signify change, but the infinitive "to be" is a pointer to Existence. We don't say I become an eater, or I become a sleeper, or I become a writer, even though that has some truth to it (i'm not born a writer), it's not how we speak. I am an eater, I am a sleeper, I am a writer. Become is its own verb, isn't it? "to become," is a marriage of the word Be and Come. If Become where the word for Be, then that would make the game here really different. But Be comes before Become, linguistically and existentially! :)
So with that in mind, Is is more of a signifier of existence and the noun that accompanies Is takes the particular shape that reflects Is-ness. Like the pot depends upon clay for its existence. If you remove the clay from the pot, the pot no longer exists. If you smash the pot, the clay remains, thus the pot depends upon clay to exist. I depend upon Being to exist.
Of course I've been thinking also about unicorns! I believe I can explain why this definition of Being works even in the imaginary sense. (Which is to say Being is not a category of the mind in the absolute sense of Being, that all there is to Being is a cognitive category, therefore there is nothing to Being but a logical or categorical container in speech and thought, which is the same as saying Being arises from Mind, "I think, therefore I am").
Getting back to unicorns! We can say that the is-ness of the horse and the is-ness of the horn combine in the imagination, and thus unicorn is. Thus the material of the unicorn, which does not exist in the world we live in, is identical to the material of the imagination, which is the material of the Mind.
But this does not stop at the Mind. Because the material of the unicorn is no different than the material of the memory of what I ate for dinner last night, or imagining walking on the boardwalk right now while I'm sitting in front of this screen. Just like other imaginations, for imaginary objects, the Is-ness is as-if borrowed from horse-ness and horn-ness, which do exist in the world. It is not possible to create an imagination of things we do not know about. Imaginations (and dreams) are always of the things we have known before, even if it is superficial knowledge. So the existence of unicorns depends upon the material of all imaginary objects, the material of the mind.
This still supports the notion that Being comes before Mind. And that Mind is dependent upon Being, not the other way around.
Also, Being is not something limited to sentient creatures, but is unlimited, the entire world sits in existence. That is why we can experience the existence of inanimate or insentient objects: the mountain is, the sky is, the ocean is, and since mind is in the world, the unicorn is.
The problem is that we can't know what that Being is that makes existence possible for everything else. It's not knowable. And this has nothing to do with believing in a God or not believing, but that there is a limit to what we as humans can know, and that Being, that which pervades all beingness, all names and forms, responsible for the existence all that is here, is one of those things we will never be able to know explicitly.
If we were to assert that Being is a product (a category) of Mind, then we are back to Decartes's dualism. When you say that "in the end" there is a final division (of two) and "that's just the way it is", then we can justify hierarchies, we can justify slavery, we can justify class, and so on. "Slavery is just the way it is." "Inequality is just the way it is." I just can't accept that. If we say really that all that is here is Existence, but the multiplicity of objects we experience are just different forms and manifestations of Existence(Being), then we can find the commonality among us despite differences, we can justify our feelings of oneness with Nature, Love for another, Compassion for strangers, etc. I prefer the latter over the former: Difference in this case becomes incidental and ornamental, while similarities are fundamental.
So I think there is a fundamental ethical reason to see Being before Mind from this standpoint.
P.S. I've pulled out On the Soul by Aristotle from my shelf, because I am curious about his take on the Soul, because it is quite apparent that he does not see Soul as limited to Mind, like Hegel did. The Soul for Aristotle is the life-force, or sentiency. In Vedic thought there is the concept of Prana, which is also identical to life-force, something entering from the outside of the gross body, Prana is an aspect of the subtle body, but what gives life to the gross body and which leaves at death. This not analogously different from electricity passing through a lightbulb and when the electricity is there, the light shines, when it is absent the bulb is dark. The electricity is like the subtle body, the bulb the gross body.