"Real vs. Ideal"
To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: "David G. McDivitt" <email@example.com> Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 19:35:23 -0800
Recently I said there is no explicit line between real and ideal, and Dennis is unclear as to my meaning.
In this forum we have discussed reality, trying to assess what it is. My opinion is reality is a logical construct. It is whatever view or opinion best fits what we observe or know. As a disclaimer I am speaking epistemologically and not ontologically. If you do not agree with this view, please qualify it that way and see if it may make sense from an epistemological perspective, only.
I do not agree with the ontological view because no one can give precise definition to such a nebulous cloud. The most people can do is give their opinion what they think that cloud is. By gaining popular support, and sufficiently answering criticism, one can move forward. I ask the question: Does the fact a person rises above criticism mean for a certainty that person has the truth? Criticism can be subdued in many ways such as conceit, intransigence, argumentation, and finally authoritarianism. What if a person is wrong? To circumvent subjectivism, is it not good to wonder that on occasion? Rather than simply enjoy the social prominence of appearing to be "in the truth", if a person seeks truth sincerely, that person will ethically set social prominence aside, pursuing inconsistencies further.
If "what one knows" of the truth may or may not be the real truth
ontologically, what good does it do to foster the idea of there being any
ontological truth? Why believe in this thing if one can never have it? But
fostering ontology serves several purposes:
- It provides a lofty pedestal from which to speak down to others.
- Speaking ontology, one gains social prominence.
- It aligns one with the idea of god.
- It offers a sense of human accomplishment, being "the one" who knows.
- One feels supremely right in knowing the things he is supposed to know.
What do any of these have to do with the truth itself, and whether one really knows all the parameters of this nebulous cloud, spoken of so reverently? To speak of ontological truth is nothing more than name dropping. It is taking the name of the Lord in vain. If God does not exist anyway, how much worse can this fantasy be? Need I say the best representation of God in the Old Testament, given by the wisest of men who were supposed to know, was "a cloud"?
By denying the existence of God, once and for all, the hope of ever aligning oneself with ultimate truth and wisdom disappears. There is no going back. There shall never, ever be any sense of security in such again. A person could always think, "If I don't know then at least God does, so at least someone knows, and everything is OK." The same with ontological perspectives. There is no predefined set of knowledge to assimilate whereby one can say, "Yes, I have done it, therefore I am a good person, having learned those things true which I am supposed to learn."
Having put God and ontology aside, what sense of purpose, identity, and worth can a person have? If no longer seeking to live up to preexistent truth and standards, what is there to become, if there is no longer any idea of what one should become? Really, it's nice just to sit back, observe, and study. It's nice to just think freely. It's nice to just let the intellect go wherever it will. So many predefined truths, even the search for what predefined truths there are, were so restrictive to what the mind can conceive. And who is to say what the mind conceives is not just as true anyway? People give their ontological perspectives. Are their minds not conceiving as well? The point is they do not realize what they are doing is conceptualizing, yet enchanted by their own significance.
Having dispensed with the idea of realness, ontologically anyway, let us move on to idealism. Men are intellectually restrained, partly because they have a tendency to fixate on what little bit they do come to understand, being proud of themselves, even wanting others to see they have done it, but they also feel this restraint. Believing there is an ontological set, who ever stops there, being satisfied? Ontology is the summation of all human fears, weaknesses, and insecurities, projected intellectually with the hope these in some way do not exist, or shall be overcome. Strange as it may sound the compliment to ontology must be idealism. On the one hand people hold to the structure afforded by ontology, for within it fear of the unknown is qualified, but on the other hand they romanticize idealists, as if having mystical power, seeing into the unknown.
The ontologist will say there is a line between real and ideal, fact and fiction. That it cannot be said exactly where this line is does not matter. It is just there. Just as ontological truth is there, the line is there. But for one who is not an ontologist there is only a giant smear, where one blends gently into the other.
Possibly pragmatism could be substituted by the non ontologist. If an idea seems useful, maybe it is worth considering. If useful, maybe it will emulate truth. Otherwise, what difference does it make?
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