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|Subject: Kitaro Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:29 pm
- Quote :
- “I hold that the self is consciously active when it is interactive, and its interactivity is constituted in a dialectic of mutual negation and affirmation of self and other. Self and other, subject and object, are constituted in the individual acts of existential consciousness. These acts are self-originating and yet co-originating, too, as forms of dynamic, reciprocal expression. It is in this structure of biconditional, interexpressive, mutual revealment of self and other that an individual act is an individual act.”
...“[The biological world] exhibits this principle of self-expression; it reflects itself within itself. I articulate this difference [between the biological and the physical worlds] by defining the biological world as a self-transforming matrix moving from the formed to the forming, through the dynamic transactions of organism and environment. The organic realm constitutes a world that exists and moves through itself in this way. It is a process of infinite transformation through the dynamic equilibrium of organism and environment—that is, contains its own self-negation and self-affirmation within itself. This self-vectorial process constitutes the direction of time . . . The biological world thus has the form of a contradictory identity, possessing its own organic centers within itself and infinitely determining itself in and through these centers.”
Kitaro divorces the notions of space and time from each other, space being the dimension of immanence and extensivitiy, time being the dimension of transcendence and intensivitiy. Space being the realm of simultaneous existence, time being the realm of successive existence. The "physical" world is essentially the spatial world, while the biological world is the temporal world. Time is reversible in the physical world, while time is irreversible in the living, biological world.
The “absolute contradictory” identity of the self involves the contradiction between “the many and the one”. The self, attempting to reconcile its biological element with its physical element (its world and socio-history) is thrown into the contradiction between the many (the physical world of reversible time and distinct entities existing in space) and the one (the biological world of irreversible time and unique self-expressing entities existing in time). Human acts express themselves, the biological self-identity from which they arose, but they also express the world, and therefore through human consciousness the world exhibits “both a spatial and a temporal character”... “As an order of simultaneous existence it appears as a form of self-negation, and yet it is infinitely occurring in its temporality. Affirming itself in its temporality, it transcends its own spatial character by being a creative transformation.” The temporal unity of the biological being across time, from the perishing of one spatial moment to the next, gives this living being its creative-transformative character; even as it is always perishing, it is also always being reborn. And it is out of these "biological centers" vectoring together through time which the conscious self emerges as the self-expression of the operations of these centers and by their continuity in the world.
This leads into a perspective that is at basic not unlike Parodites’ daemonic consciousness:
- Quote :
“In human consciousness the world is bottomlessly self-determining and creative, a transformational process which has the form of the contradictory identity of space and time. I refer to this self-forming, creative world as the self-determination of the absolute present. I hold that it is only in this dynamic form of contradictory identity that we can truly conceive something that moves by itself and is self-conscious.”
And as he continues, we can see how this also adopts and moves into a perspective along the lines of what value ontology proposes:
- Quote :
“The dynamic reciprocity of objective and subjective dimensions comprising the act of humanly conscious expression is monadological in this existential sense. It is unintelligible as the mere action and reaction of physical objects (that is, grammatical subjects in the framework of theoretical judgment). It must be the expression of a self-determining and self-conscious act that simultaneously reflects the world as a unique perspective of the world. When I say that the conscious active individual exists in a structure of dynamic expression, I mean precisely this. That I am consciously active means that I determine myself by expressing the world in myself. I am an expressive monad of the world. I transform the world into my own subjectivity. The world that, in its objectivity, opposes me is transformed and grasped symbolically in the forms of my own subjectivity.”
We see how he arrives at what we have called self-valuing. He also situates this self-valuing within the larger “objective” world that in its physical dimension (its spatiality) both opposes and also conditions the valuing self. From the vantage of the world itself, human-like consciousness’ are created in order to give the world greater expression and depth, to (re-)interpret the world constantly in terms of a dimension which is foreign to the physical world itself, the dimension of the organic, of irreversible, unique and absolute time. The active consciousness expresses the world through itself while it is expressing itself through itself; the contradiction of the one and the many, subject and objects. Both the world and the self-consciousness take on a contradictory character: the world takes on the character of temporality, which is otherwise entirely foreign to it, while the self-consciousness takes on the form of spatiality, of simultaneous physical existence, which is foreign to the temporal condition of the self.
Kitaro grounds religious experience in the ideation of God, God being the principle by which these two contradictions can meet each other and thus may enter into productive relation. Human experience of the eternal is grounded in our understanding of death, of the inevitability of the total oblivion of form, which of course includes us, and in this insight the experience of eternal life is also born at the same moment as this is just the intimate and endless novelty of understanding and creativity, which has been named, among other things, philosophy.
Against Kant’s transcendental forms of the understanding, Kitaro maintains that “content without form is blind, form without content is empty” and he locates here a principle of conscious growth and over-growing progression toward higher forms and orders of experience. He grounds this, quite simply, in thinking. The “thinking subject” arises as a representation of the essential contradiction of the self, as that which “cannot become an object of itself”, the operation is indelibly linguistic, the production of semantics and grammar. The term "grammatical subject" is a tautology. The self makes objects of its experiences but it cannot make object of itself, it cannot self-grasp and self-identify because its objectification and identification are situated in a reciprocal biconditional relation that can never become resolved or grounded, but remain always an irresolute chaos. This irreconcilability, this juxtaposing into contrast of incommensurate elements of conscious experience, this is what we experience as "thinking". Kitaro's absolute time of the self-determining act is also an absolutely divided moment, a space which cannot be entirely transferred into the dimension of temporality, and a time which cannot entirely be translated into the dimension of spatiality. Kitaro therefore defines the thinking subject in the negative definition as that part of the active consciousness which is unable to be made object of by our (objectifying-semantic) consciousness itself.
And yet, despite this insight, this purely negative definition does not suffice for Kitaro, and he wishes to proceed with a positive designation, wherein he finds a principle of conscious expansion:
- Quote :
- “We can say that the self exists as the point where that which cannot become an object in one dimension becomes an object in another dimension—perhaps some higher dimension”.
This is indeed profound. Although he does not seem to draw the furthest implications from this, he locates a principle by which the self, trapped within its own impossibility for self-objectification and self-knowledge, is thrown at the junctures of this subjective interruption into alternate dimensions, from space to time, from time to space. From one purview within conscious expression to another, as the forms of this expression shift from one moment to the next. Where the conscious self meets an impassable wall it does not halt, some aspect of its experience always re-configures and escapes toward a new dimension of expression, is thrust into itself again endlessly as into a new avenue of its own self-expression. The negative condition of the self, its irreconcilable contradiction is also therefore understood to be also the condition of this progressive expansion of consciousness, its continual transformation into what which it presently is not. Transpositional logic
is what Kitaro calls the logic of this contradictory consciousness existing as time within space, as space across time; objects within a subject, a subject as objects; and the thinking self which lies at the junction between the need for objectification and the threshold of impossibility of self-objectification. And of all this takes place within the temporal field of meaning of human world-history which gives rise to the possible forms in which our conscious acts ultimately take shape. The biological is always partially physical-spatial, but more so it is always noetic, teleological and dynamically reciprocal with its objects, cast outside of time... Kitaro again: "Self-conscious being pertains to noetic self-determination. Our conscious being has meaning in this framework. Each conscious act appears as a self-contradictory center of the noetic field of predicates. Reflection is nothing other than the self-reflection of the noetic field within itself. Our conscious acts are grounded in such a standpoint. That is the basis on which we are self-conscious and moral."
The wider "noetic field" being that out of which individual organic self-determining centers rise and take shape, are colored with character and meaning. The irreconcilability of this self-determining active consciousness takes place within a wider noetic-teleological stage of human world-historical meaning, and is in fact, according to Kitaro, nothing but a particular manifestation of this field at a given point within it:
- Quote :
"It is in the historical world-time of the absolute present that the monads form the individual expressions of the world. They are both self-originating and co-originating in the matrix of the absolute present. Our own activities as microcosms of the world may be thought to constitute unique events in world-time while simultaneously representing the Ideas as the world's self-negation (that is, self-expression) in world-space. Our activities thereby acquire universality and value. Conversely, the Ideas, as the world's own expressions and values, entail a negation of negation: they are affirmative, actual, self-forming, and at the very least always have moral significance. That is why our activities in the historical world are always, and in various senses, both ideal and actual. The self-conscious world of each individual human self is a self-determining monadic world; but as such, each self is a self-expression of the historical world. Therefore each self-conscious world is a momentary vector of historical world-space, which mediates its own objective self-determination within itself, and infinitely determines itself through its own process of self-expression."
Kitaro succeeds as developing a rational understanding of the basic structure of consciousness and of the structure of this consciousness' mutually-conditioning relations to the world, both to the physical world of objects as well as to the human history-world of ideas, values and meaning.
And finally, further to the above:
- Quote :
- All life arises from the fact that it transforms itself by containing its own self-expression within itself. It is first biological and instinctive in a spatially-predominant way—that is, it possesses itself as a form of self-negation. It becomes historical life as it becomes concrete in a temporal dimension—as a self-affirming form within a transforming matrix. In historical life there is always this dialectic of affirmative and negative: the former is the material world, the latter the world of consciousness, in the transpositional structure of the contradictory identity of matter and form . . . I articulate the world of consciousness, which phenomenology defines in terms of intentionality, as the self-determination of the temporal dimension of the world, having this transformative structure of the identity of contradiction. Life-structures that contain the perspectives of the world within themselves, as structures of the world's own expression, may be regarded as instinctual in the predominantly spatial sense, but as conscious acts in their temporal character. Again, they are self-conscious structures in that they are co-originating expressions of the world . . . Reason itself is nothing other than a self-determination of the temporal dimension that always has the character of being a predicate that cannot be subject. We are rational in the self-determining predicate, or universal. Reason functions intentionally, as something temporally, consciously, and immanently enfolding the grammatical subject—that is, the object—and as having its own self-immanent telos.
*All quotes taken from Nishida Kitaro's book Last Writings: Nothingness and the Religious Worldview