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. Note: The following is painted with an exceedingly broad brush. In actuality these changes overlap with people and societies where the self is partially in multiple states, and there are numerous smaller changes within each with varying attributes. With the compartmentalization of the self individuals may also maintain mythological thinking in one sphere of life, metaphysical thinking in another, and post metaphysical in a third, or any combination of these. Attempt at a definition of the Self: The self is a compartmentalized, complex emergent system that actualizes its inherited potentials temporally, equally originating in society and the individual through the individual's initiation into society and the simultaneous alteration of society the individual's initiation triggers. The self contains Heidegger's early definition of dasein, but at the same time is equivalent, looked at in a different way, to his notion of worlding. As compartmentalized, the self is simultaneously shared and individual, open and directed, defined by its inheritance but always having changed that inheritance by becoming part of it. The self is developed sociologically through changes in language and changes in the means of production (tooling), and individually through initiation without understanding into a given society and subsequent development of understanding of that society and its environs. 1 The Mythological Self The mythological self originates in the emergence of self-consciousness. Man is aware of himself as the author of his actions but not as the source of the decisions behind those actions except in the way that he has been initiated into a sense that 'they' have always already decided that that is the way things are done. Man is at the mercy of the law, moral, arbitrary and absolute, not able to perceive himself in the moment of decision and thereby to judge the ethicality of those decisions in the specificity of the situation. The theoretical stance is also hidden, derivative as it is from the ethical stance, as man is inquisitive but unable to perceive himself in the act of projecting his own theoretical ideas. Materially man is inventive with tools and aware of their significance within the tool-context, but while he can project himself using a not yet existent tool and thereby inventing it, he is unable to perceive this projection and self achieved invention, such that the finished invention is ascribed to an external force such as a god.
Within the mythological self meanings of things-within-the-world are immediate and unquestioned, developed from birth through ritual acceptance of society's messages of “how things are done”. Novelties have the immediate meaning conferred by the projected god that bestowed the novel gift. Gods themselves are experienced as the trace of their passing, that trace being the gift of the god itself. 2 The Metaphysical Self With the emergence of the doubly reflexive self-consciousness man for the first time becomes aware of himself as the author of his decisions and the inventor of his inventions. With this awareness comes the end of the moral law and the beginning of the age of ethical decision, where the self can observe itself in the process of decision and therefore judge the ethicality of the decision he is in the process of making. This reflexive movement from one's engrossment in things is experienced as the “step back” in which one “assesses” things, whether ethically or theoretically. Within this step back, triggered by an event that requires decision or analysis, the invental I-subject comes into being. During one's everyday engrossment in the world the I is not simply ignored, it is completely absent. With the invental I-subject the rest of the World is posited as 'objective', as something the I-subject can operate against rather than as part of. Since this “step back” is the occasion for the reflective, representational and theoretical stance, the I-subject is posited as the 'real' self whenever the self is theorized about, and representation as the primordial mode of experience. Since the “step back” is engendered originally in order to facilitate decision the I-subject tends to see everything as an either/or duality, with the result that theory splits things into couples such as form/matter, ideal/material, individual/society, true/false, etc. The I-subject is simplistic by necessity, as the complexity of the world known by the self is far too much for timely decision making, but this also leads to simplistic reductionism in theoretical idea creation. The reduction of the thing with its complex interactions of significance to the mathematical object within a calculable projection proved extremely useful from a technological perspective, and in the crucial metaphysical turn the 'objective' approximations of experience used for calculation are projected as the 'real' substantive underlying the 'approximations' of experience, which are determined to be 'merely' subjective. With this movement modern science projects itself as the arbiter of truth, when in fact it has abandoned the sphere of significance, without which there can be neither truth nor untruth. The best it can do is determine the correctness or incorrectness of its representations within the mathematical approximation of the world. As Nietzsche saw, Christianity rendered the philosophical changes in the self accessible to far larger numbers of people by incorporating the mythological within the newer conceptual framework. As in the mythological self the god is experienced in its passing with the trace of its gift, in this case the birth of the Christ. But in the phrase “and God became man” lies hidden the full meaning of this passing as the passing-away of the god. With the passing-away of the Christ the cross the 'one' continues in the more conceptual form as the 'ghost' haunting
Christianity for the rest of its history. As part of the split between the 'subjective' and 'objective', understanding is placed on the side of the (merely) subjective and explanation on the side of the objective. With the fateful decision that the ultimate origin is unique, the 'one', whether that be Being (interpreted as the Beingness of beings or the highest being), god, or a physical singularity, all 'objective explanation' comes to aim at uncovering the unique origin of its objects. The significance imbued in every thing by its god within a mythological world is replaced by its meaning within a prescribed (whether intentional or mechanical) fate predetermined at the origin. With this historiology is born as the story of the origin of the significance of things and their development. The individual self continues to develop from its beginning within a ritual framework, things are “just done that way” without explanation or understanding, and the child's ability to “do things the way they are done” marks that child as more or less an initiate to their society. As the child reaches adulthood he or she may begin to question and look for understanding, explanation or both, but it is only on the basis of the ritualistic, 'religious' sense of society gained during upbringing that that questioning pose first becomes possible. At first the questioning of science, whether theological or natural, seems anti-religious in the sense that it no longer simply accepts that things “are as they are”, but in fact it cannot pose those questions without ritually assumed foundations, and those religious foundations inevitably lead to those questions. Even in the extremes of scientific atheism or pantheistic paganism in a Christian context, the Christian god assumed throughout Christian society remains fully assumed. Scientific atheism simply recalculates the number to zero after reducing the divine to a simplistic efficient cause, while pantheism recalculates the number as many. The apparent battle between atheism and religion, on closer examination, is in actuality a battle between metaphysical onto-theology and mythological immediacy. The fundamentalist, who within his or her belief system remains mythological in essence, sees god or the gods as immediate in every thing, as the immediate significance or meaning of any thing whatsoever, while the meta-physician, whether their belief structure is Christian or scientific, sees that meaning as 'subjective', with the 'object' as deriving its meaning from its origin. either within god's predestined intent or within its scientific explanation from its unique origin. Tooling within the conceptual framework is first understood as technology and the notion of development of technology is engendered. The power of the social self in the development of technology and the society that is revealed within it leads to a sense of its development as an unavoidable 'destiny', since individual effort appears unable to divert its course in a meaningful way. The privileged perspective of the 'one' is socially played out in an inability to project a situation without privilege. The advances made materially during the metaphysical epoch arose not from metaphysics itself, either through revealed religion or through natural science, but from the self-knowledge of man as the inventor of tools. Yet just as man became aware of himself as the originator of new inventions, this
was misunderstood as solely the work of the I-subject. The resulting individual attribution of invention, rather than its attribution to the shared social self, led to the material history of privilege documented and analyzed by Marx and his followers. What has been lacking is the awareness that as socially inventive technology cannot be controlled by subjective decision. Technology thereby as social development has driven individual man rather than vice versa, just as other social changes have affected individuals in a more decisive fashion than individuals have decided those changes. As technology has progressed science has more and more taken the role of an accounting-for what is revealed through technology as a societal work. Galileo's theories accounted-for the observations made possible by the technology of the telescope. Heisenberg's accounted-for the observations made possible by the new observational tools at his disposal. Heisenberg was the first scientist to become aware of the absolute nature of this dependence. 3 The Post-Metaphysical Self With the falling apart of the intrinsic 'obviousness' of the dogma of revealed religion culminating in Hegel's experience of the human origin of divine revelation itself, combined with the self-decimation of the mechanistic view of the world originally propagated by science, the origin of significance or meaning became extremely problematic. As Nietzsche saw, the end of the 'real world' postulated by Plato as underlying apparent experience was also the end of any belief in the mathematical projections of science. Post-Cantorian mathematics is not a rebirth of mathematics but an implosion of mathematics as claiming to be descriptive of reality. As Badiou saw, mathematics was always primarily the language of ontology, but it was specifically the language of metaphysical ontotheology, the implosion of Platonic onto-theology could only result in a corresponding implosion in its language. The situation for the sciences has as a result changed radically in a post metaphysical world. Physics no longer describes a reality behind or beyond worldly appearances. Discussion of a post-modern quantum cosmology cannot be construed as a description of some reality 'beyond' phenomenological experience but a useful approximation of those appearances. Genetic investigation can no longer be seen as a predictive methodology for envisioning the adult organism, but as raw material for the organism to dynamically configure and reconfigure itself. Neurology is the study of how the individual aspects of the self utilize the mechanisms available. As a result phenomenology comes to the fore as the arbiter of reality beyond religious or scientific metaphysics. The hermeneutic method first used, however, suffers from its reliance on ideology. As one thinks on a matter, moving from part to whole and back, understanding each more fully from the other, ideology or belief-system is the means by which one traverses the gap. The gap itself comes about through representing functioning systems as static organizations of parts, and missing the relations apparent only in the functioning system. Relative knowing is the knowing, dependent on ideology, that 'relates' part and whole through a belief-system. The
self as systemic understanding, or absolute knowing, abandons this static representation and thinks the system in its functioning dynamism, where the relations between parts dynamically create the always changing whole. The ability to 'see' the always changing whole, together with the parts and their dynamic relations 'at once' arises from a further reflexive development of the self, where the 'all-at-onceness' of epiphany or revelation reflexively occurs within the understanding itself. Understanding understanding itself systemically dynamizes the emergent phenomena of an epiphany into a system of the self. To those who can 'see' in this sense, as Nietzsche points out, belief is no longer relevant. This knowing is also, as Hegel saw, qualitatively absolute. Selfconscious metaphysical knowledge knows itself as the I-subject, which it distinguishes from the 'objective' world. The 'objective' world includes all the contents of consciousness, including consciousness itself. Reflexive selfconsciousness can even observe the operations of this I-subject. Systemic understanding retains awareness of the I-subject, consciousness and thingswithin-the-world in their unity, dispensing with the relations that selfconsciousness set up, and is thereby qualitatively absolute. At the same time, the self as absolute knowing abandons belief in scientific knowing as abstract explanation as describing an ultimate reality, and returns to reality in significance, context and meaning. It is an understanding of understanding that, distressed at the loss of meaning in the metaphysical posture of standing-over beings, allows beings the unique event of their appearing as the beings they are. As such absolute knowing reduces the totalizing explanatory knowing attempted within the technological and accounted-for through the abstractions of metaphysical science to the useful abstract approximations it can achieve.
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