Thursday, February 19, 2009

Philosophy 118: 28 January, 2009

These notes were taken from my class with Dr. Reyes for Philosophy 118 last 28 January

.:Let's Return To Basics:.

Consciousness is everything. It concerns itself with the psychological act, with the sign, the meaning, and the signified. Because of the focus on the referential object, we lose sight of the fact that the human plane of existence is not exclusively on the level of the referential object. More often than not, it is on the level of meaning.

For Husserl, the real human existence takes place in meaning. Meaning is what we learn to fight for. Meaning is what we put stock in.

.:Consciousness And Hyle:.

In any human situation, you find consciousness, and perhaps the given, or the matter of the situation. These two are inextricable from each other. You cannot have matter in relation to consciousness, and you cannot have consciousness that is not conscious of something. This is called “intentionality”. There is no such thing as consciousness in and by itself, or matter in and by itself. Each element is meant to relate to the other.

A dominance of matter is realism. The consciousness in realism is merely incidental as a passive register for the matter.

A dominance of consciousness is idealism. Consciousness is given utmost importance, and matter is merely a projection of consciousness.

The meeting point of consciousness and matter is precisely meaning. Meaning is a result of the constitution of the encounter of consciousness and matter. You cannot reduce one in favor of the other.

To prove this, Husserl's disciples attempt to use a pseudoscope that makes everything upside down according to our eyes. Despite this, consciousness will, against the law of optics, correct this image upon encountering a human face, and slowly, everything else corrects itself.

Optical illusions also seem to be a sign that consciousness is not merely passive, but certainly interpretative.

.:Breaking From The Natural Attitude:.

Due to our being used to science, we seem to only be concerned about the referential objects, devoid of meaning. As habit, everything is about the bottomline. Be it money, food, or the like, this is what matters to the natural attitude. It's practical, it's commonsensical, so to speak.

Meaning will not bring you food. But it will certainly matter. Justice, truth, human dignity, and so forth, are things we may not objectively find, but they are things that we cannot ignore because this is precisely the ambit of meaning.

To break away from this natural attitude, one has to engage himself in an epoche. It requires a metanoia: a change of consciousness. At this point, the world ceases becoming a mere massive chemical or physical progression, but an actual world of meaning.

At this point, we find what he means to be a phenomenon: that which appears. After we embark in an epoche, we return to the objects for us to experience their meaning.

.:Quotable Quotes:.

“Philosophy is that without which, everything remains the same.”

- Cynical Italian Saying

“Jewish skin make for good lampshades.”

- Nazi Account

“When I hear the word 'musk', I am reminded of goats. Does this mean some women are attracted to goats?”

- Dr. Reyes

“I have committed the sin of bad thoughts”

“Did you entertain them?”

“Well, Father, I found them entertaining.”

- Dr. Reyes's High School Classmate and his confessor

.:The Meaning Found In Graduation?:.

When you boil it down to its basics, graduation is merely a gathering of people who recognize you as someone who has finished your years in your chosen program, and that you are ready to move on, as it were.

While of course, graduating is a big deal, the ceremony itself can be broken down into merely a sweat-inducing, long, torturous affair that doesn't seem to really do anything other than acknowledge what is already a fact: you have graduated.

That's what I've been told when I discovered that I will graduate this coming summer, more likely than not without the marching and all that. I'm not going to graduate with my friends, who are all graduating in March, and I felt terribly disappointed by it, to be honest.

One of my former teachers, Dr. Kaelin, put it this way...

“I understand that graduating in a group - especially the way it is staged in Ateneo - has a value in itself. However, I never got graduated in such a way. For my highschool degree, I got a certificate sent to me a couple of weeks later, for my BA, I could pick it up at the secretary. Only for my MA there was something like a graduation, but it wasnt that special after all (especially as it was like 3 months after finishing all my stuff, so it did not feel like being that close).

As an alternative you can always take some Foucault/HardtNegri perspective and see in this graduation ceremony a way in which the system reproduces itself - which cements traditionally hierarchies and relations of exploitation, etc. Don't know whether that helps.”

When you attempt to break down the graduation ceremony, it seems about right to call it just a “stuck-up affair that only vestigially recognizes what the records will say you've already accomplished anyways.” I understand that. It is, on the surface, psychologically one that causes a lot of stress at times, a signifier of a reality that exists.

But as people who have studied Husserl, we understand that we don't exist solely in these modes of understanding. We understand that there is a meaning behind this ceremony, as intangible as that may be to the empirical or even Marxist mind. When you look deep down, particularly when you think of the memories you've shared with the people you would've graduated with, it does feel like you're missing out on something.

Can you ever truly measure this loss? No, you can't. It is not an objective reality.

But you know, deep down, you feel, that it's there.

And that's why I feel it sucks I'm not graduating this March. Thanks, Husserl!

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