Being in kind – part 1
The following is less another of my interminable epigonic offerings for the purpose of advancing the Ontology Project than it is an attempt to resolve the unsatisfactory state of intellectual affairs which exists between myself and Daniel on the relevance and utility of sociology. As such, it proposes a more politically vital form of the promising but, as of now, still new and hardly intellectualised, general concept of “Being of” (which is itself a response to, and development of, Martin Heidegger’s “Being with”). My intention in doing so is to explicate the unique and holistic, radically revolutionary nature of ethnic nationalism, as I apprehend the meaning of that term.
The essay is long - for which I apologise here and now – so it will be presented in three parts. Some readers may find it too technical at times or too intellectually unruly, and to both sets of critics I would plead for a visit to my third and final part, when it is posted.
So, to begin ...
This simple, uncompromising statement, made by me in a comment to one of my friend Daniel’s criticisms, and gesturing towards an ordering of relation which is particular and identitarian, is unattractive for Daniel to explore and impossible to accept. As a communication theorist and, therefore, a sociological thinker, he offers in reply what he likely considers to be a self-evident truth and, therefore, a killing rejoinder:
After all, isn’t communication proof of a social organisation, and isn’t “the social”, therefore, the over-arching, master category of all human existence? Don’t sociologists categorise all animals which live their lives communicating within their own group as “social”? Isn’t the important thing here not the animals but what is between them ...the language … the inter-action … and what that tells us about them?
Certainly, the mind of the human animal has a complex language facility and the body has a speech facility - organs for the formation of breath into raw sounds specialised for speech. And let us not limit human communicational behaviour to language. We also have other mind-body modes by which we communicate: different expressions of the face signifying different states (21 of them, apparently), countless gestures and positions of the body, as well as a whole host of involuntary physiological responses, many of which mirror similar behavioural traits in other primates and even other higher mammals. What we are looking at in Man’s speech is only an amplified system of a great deal else; all of it, one must presume, arising over something like 365 million years of evolutionary history.
The evidence seems to run all one way. “The social” must be a taxonomically valid term, no? How, then, can Daniel’s zeal to rank sociology above everything else, and thereby his own comprehension of Man and kind over mine, and to validate thereby his novel solution to our existential impasse of an hermeneutical priesthood setting rules for the errant yet pliant white masses … how can that be ill-advised?
Well, before we concede the point, let’s re-survey the perceptual topography, and see where that leads. It may surprise you.
Sense. Think. Speak.
Not just academics working in the humanities but all of us are accustomed to think of language almost solely as a means of communication to the world beyond our own person. But it is rather more than that. Language is central to the thought process. Asleep or awake, Man thinks all the time, even if he is sleeping and not actually verbalising or hearing verbalisation; and he thinks in the words and usage known to him. The operative process is association, one or more words or perhaps a short structured usage being tied directly to, and being intrinsic to the meaning of, each association. New chains of associations are initiated from without the intellectual function by some event or from within by a small moment of creativity.
One suspects that the emergence and development of intellectual function must have been co-evolutionary with that of the brain’s language facility and the body’s adaptions for complex vocalisation, all three probably consequent upon the spread of grassland in the East African environment of evolutionary adaptiveness, and the shift among hominids to walking upright in an open, expansive environment; with a related perceptual dependency on sight and on the interpretation and description of distant phenomena. Language developed as a perceptual tool … an internal communicative medium ... every bit as much as an external communicative medium. Indeed, given that communication infers something to communicate, one is bound to rank internal above external, and perception above exchanging information with others. After all, deprived of the facility to model the real … “the thing that is” … in an internally consistent linguistic flow, Man is no longer whole, and is commonly spoken of as a halfwit or a madman.
But Man does not only survey, interpret and communicate the real through intellectual function. He has two other great, older, faster systems of Mind operating alongside, namely the emotional and motor functions. These don’t operate by associative thought and so don’t employ words in the internal communicative process. It is true that thoughts may interdict and trigger the emotional system in the same way that external events do, ie, as part of the general experience of the real - the emotional system surveys the intellectual system’s output of thought along with everything else. But emotion is a fast reactor, and its momentary contact with a thought is at the very beginning of the latter’s emergence into a linguistic product. Indeed, emotion itself is rather close to the leading edge of the perceptual process – something entirely missed by Western intellectuals (who - Heidegger among them – appear to believe that thinking is really the only activity of the brain which is worth considering. The rest is just too primitive and unreliable!)
One upshot of this snobbery is GE Moore’s Naturalistic Fallacy … “ought” as a non-sequitur of “is”. So, of course, the large, hungry brown bear circles. The intellectual, out for his morning constitutional in the woods, dryly adumbrates. Beside him the gamekeeper, an unkempt emotionalist, knows only an urgent must, and clicks off the safety on his shotgun. Of course, the Fallacy is better argued in terms of the higher-order system of refined sensibilities like conscience and guilt than the adrenal emotions. But its essence remains: that in all matters, logical structure yields an objective verity that feelings are constitutionally incapable of achieving. It thereby dismisses emotion’s life-wisdom, instancy, and depth, and relegates its validity as a perceptual tool as old as mammalian evolution. One wonders if Mr Moore – rumoured to be a purveyor of commonsense in many other areas - read Charles Darwin at all.
Perhaps the problem, in large part, is that in our ordinary state of consciousness the emotional system is unguided, and apparently unguidable. It has the characteristic of the weather – it just happens. Its operation is not visible to the intellect. It models the real not in the cumbersome medium of thoughts structured in the spoken language but by ascribing, in the moment, a value to a given experience. Each value has the form of a feeling drawn from a fixed pallet, like the colour spectrum. Sometimes, complex combinations of feelings can billow into the mind. Just as with thinking, the process is constant until brain-death. Emotion might be running for nine-tenths of a life at a minimal level, scarcely noticed. But it is always running. Deprived of even parts of its capacity, Man is again reduced, and will stand somewhere on the scale that runs from wholeness to criminal psychopathy.
The oldest, fastest exterior-facing system we have is motor function. Its language is physical sensation, by which we learn to negotiate our way through the physical world and to fashion a quite exquisite control over all those communicative expressions of the face and gestures and positions of the body which I mentioned above. As well as being our most ancient perceptual system, the motor function is also our most ancient communicative medium. It is the fastest operating system, capable of undertaking complex spacial and temporal calculations with almost instantaneous speed and wondrous precision … capable, with only the scantest visual evidence, of predicting the path of unexpected and fast-moving close physical objects such as prey breaking from cover or a combatant’s swinging weapon. If damaged and inoperable, it is the only one of our three great world-modelling systems without which the organism cannot survive (unless one calls life support survival).
There is, in addition, the argument that, by its hardly less primordial nature and by its application of the same machinery, the sexual function in the brain is part of the general motor system. The latter does, however, switch off when the body can get some sleep, a condition of rest apparently selected out in the warm, dark nights of the evolution of human sexuality. Can’t for the life of me imagine why.
From Mind to Being
So that is a quick sketch of the Mind’s functional totality in respect to the real, and knowing the real, and communicating knowledge of the real. I would ask you to, in particular, hold the thought that there are large and crucial differentials not simply in the speed of operation of these systems, but in their consequent nearness to “the thing that is”. The intellect is ponderous and compositional, and once it has begun to function it consumes the attention and quite disconnects from everything else. Emotion is quicksilver yet still reactive (even its one predictive expression in prejudicial feeling is reaction). But the motor system is not only ultra-fast – able to complete its physical follow-up before emotion has even been triggered - it has the possibility to act directly in the real world and, by experience of it, to predict. That latter possibility holds implications for the Mind’s act of “being there” which, so far as I know, are unexplored by any ontologist, and to which we shall return in due course.
Now, from somewhere in the Mind’s very genotype there expresses the trait of speaking to self by means ancient and varied. As no self-respecting philosopher would deny, a primordial isolation does indeed belong to Being. It is its essential and tragic condition. Each thought, feeling, and sensation addresses that condition, reaches beyond it, consoles it, penetrates it to a degree, but never changes it. Speaking to the Other in the sense which communicationists intend is never an open and direct possibility ... never free of speaking primarily to self, or elements thereof. In any case, the process works two ways - the isolation is equally of the Other, and is intrinsic to the Other’s private act of interpretation. Communication is a finite possibility and communication from intellect to intellect, with its reliance on an imperfectly and accidentally acquired communicative method, most profoundly so. The point of departure with Descartes – Heidegger’s, point of departure, really - lies in the mode by which meaning is disclosed, and certainly not in this original, existential isolation. In the same way that Heidegger has to accept this aspect of the Cartesian model, so have we.
Of course, we can say also that while this singular isolatory state, in which we all live and all die, and cannot leave, is prior to every other state, the organism’s function in Nature (ie, as a reproductive entity functioning for the transmission of data through Time) is, if not prior itself, certainly conditional to it – a curious victory: to place restrictions on what went before! But such it was, and isolation’s bitter fate was that way changed, or at least ameliorated.
So we find that, evolutionarily speaking (for respectable philosophy cannot propose in contravention of scientific knowledge, where the latter touches upon it), Nature conditions and constrains the organism to seek its own survival and its own reproduction in accordance with fitness. Mind’s work of perception, interpretation, and decision is a grand fitness gain, basically. All the while, beneath everything is a system of regulatory categories of driving, animalistic necessity: reproduction, evolutionarily adaptive choice-making, defence and advance of genetic interests. Our individual life – as with the life of all individual organisms - really is this elemental, and it is an active elementality which reaches upward into the processes of daily living, motivating, informing, shaping, and, through the like nature of others (and only through their like nature), connecting, complementing, completing.
In terms of the ultimate foundation of origin, of course, we have no such certainties. But we might speculate that the repeating mechanics which initialised a momentarily living organism ... an original, single organism … not once but millions or tens or hundreds of millions of times, only for extinction to follow immediately each time … those mechanics set in train a self-sustaining process belonging not to mechanicity but to a finally original organism, resulting in an identity as that which has the novel action of Being and continuing to be. The continuity might only have been a product of a less finite fuel source or a more efficient way of consuming fuel. But however that worked, it was creatively sufficient, and identity assumed its cosmic role as the holder of interest or care for its Being, out of which came all other things … evolution, reproduction, Mind ... everything.
So, by this reading we can infer ontologically that identity’s care is for the overcoming of isolation’s tending towards death, rather than the overcoming of isolation itself. In itself, isolation does not offend against identity, but belongs to it and serves it in other ways. We can assign the positive value to identity’s care and the negative to identity’s vestigial but no longer mono-form isolation. Poetically, we could associate the former with instinct, energy and movement, extroversion, self-actualisation, and the struggle for life, and identity’s vestigial but no longer mono-form isolation with essence, stillness, introversion, self-realisation, entropy and death. The struggle for life finds its path in the struggle to know. Its outward orientation has something of the natural tension and energy of the relation of the sexes, driving the organism into a world revealed in perspective, to be experienced as relational and non-relational, empathetic and antipathetic, and giving of life and taking of life.
We can take that idea of relation further, and translate it into the detail of human being. For now, for the first time in this exegesis, there arises the possibility for Being to come into possession of its complete and natural constitution. It is only through the idea that being is a property of identity that Heidegger’s notion of a constituted character of the being of beings, subject to variation in the way of being, makes sense. By way of a somewhat crass example, the plain, factic is-ness of, say, the River Amazon is not at all that of the Atlantic Ocean, which is not at all that of a rain-cloud formation thousands of feet above the rain-forest, albeit that a water molecule from each always contains two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, or that the water cycle dictates that the river shall transport the molecule to the ocean, the ocean shall give up the molecule (maybe not exactly that molecule) to the cloud, and the cloud to the river (maybe not exactly that river). Identity is a singular locus or point of differentiation, but its relation to being is subject to context, and Being itself – being is meant here, not behaviour – is responsive to same and, therefore, compound. It is made of parts.
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