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Episode · 1 year ago

Lecture 8 RATIONALITY AND REALITY

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This lecture highlights fragmentation as a feature of rational thought that relates to the practice of analysis and the use of language. It also encourages a holistic approach to the conceptualization of reality: one that is consistent with both the complexity and the unity of things.

Meditation, time, lecturate rationality and reality. Fragmentation related to the practice of analysis and the use of language is a typical downside of rational thought. It distracts us from the interconnectedness of everything and can mislead us into believing that each fragment is real independently from the organic whole to which it belongs. This downside, however, is also an upside. Whereas our experience cannot be processed intelligibly and usefully as a whole, except in a vague, mystical sense, the act of fragmentation divides this experience into easily digestible bits of information which can serve to construct a clear and practical representation of reality, properly described as an infinite...

...network of distinct elements. Indeed, this fragmentation can be offset by the willingness to unite these elements to restore their oneness, yet it remains pervasive and pernicious. Aspects of reality are regularly considered an isolation or raise to the status of absolutes when they ought to be taken as relative parts of a complex totality. It is, of course, tempting to indulge our taste for simplicity at the expense of integrity. But resisting this temptation to prove consistent with both the unity and the complexity of things is the only and difficult way to the truth. Alas, the easy and lazy way is the dominant one, precisely because it is the path of least resistance. We usually fail to acknowledge the perverse ramifications of analytical and linguistic fragmentation alone or together with other factors, intellectual or psychological,...

...like brainwashing and wishful thinking. This product of reason is the root of widespread fallacies. Here are two telling examples. Scores of people view God or the principle of all phenomena, living or inert, as separate from the universe and likewise regard the soul, where the immaterial core of humans, as separate from the body. This merely constitutes the tip of the iceberg. There is a host of other objects of thought that we routinely abstract from their context, as though they made sense on their own. Actually they don't. To illustrate the universal blend of unity and complex lexity, let us examine the nature of opposites. This nature is ideally illustrative because opposites are a comprehensive set of cardinal...

...points that hold within their compass every facet of the universe. Most importantly, the invariably come in Pairs, like the back in front of a single cloth, which here symbolizes the fabric of reality. Furthermore, they represent the diametrical extremes of a continuum that includes a vast array of intermediate degrees. Similarly, black and white are the two poles of the color spectrum, with all the hues in between. Among opposites, identity and alterity have a special status as the archetypal pair. They mark the beginning of the complex universe, a diversified, if unified, multiplicity of things. Modern cosmology speaks of a big bang accompanied by expansion and cooling, thereby creating conditions for evolution. Prior to this critical juncture, the universe was presumably collapsed into a state of virtuality that amounted...

...to nothing, or rather, let us say nothing noble, thus implying that it was still something, albeit mysterious, since it contained the potential for everything. The question is, why did the universe deviate from virtuality to actuality? Perhaps the key to solving this conundrum can be found in the following statistical fact which reveals a universal law. Extremes are unstable and tend to regress toward the mean. In other words, the dynamics of change that determine a process to top out then taper off inexorably are akin to the swing of a pendulum that can never rested. Either extremity of the archid traces as it gravitates to the middle and moves to and fro with decreasing amplitude until it settles. This settling, however, or state of maximum entropy, is only true in the case...

...of a closed system with no external interference. What if the universe was both closed and opened by reason of some unknown that prevents maximum entropy as such, it would forever remain in a state of flux. So, in the end, with this new pair of complementary opposites, which represent the two antipities of a dynamic continuum, the idea of reality as an amalgam of extremes and intermediates comes full circle. Not Black, neither white, nor even gray, but a perpetual color variation spanning the whole spectrum.

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