Ontologies, Old Codgers, and Feminism
Sent: 09/17/11 05:05 PM
Dear Mr. Fidelbogen,
I am dumbing up as I get older, and I am now at the point of total intellectual dissipation, hinging on the question of what can I really know.
On the contrary, you present yourself as someone who knows things. My question to you is, what do you really know, and how do you know it? If that is too broad a question for someone of your acumen to find worth tackling, perhaps you could share one (1) thing you know for sure, and how you know it. Let us say that A=A style logical truths do not count.
And, if that is still too vague or open-ended a question, consider this: Does feminism exist? In what sense is feminism "real"? Aren't we just playing with words? Why shouldn't I listen to the reductionist materialists who say that all is merely a flux of elementary waves and particles?
I sent the following reply:
Subject: Re: Ontology
Interesting points you raise.
A few years ago, there was this affable old codger who lived in my building, and sometimes I would pass him in the lobby.
The old codger's standard greeting (to me and others) was a hearty, "so, what do ya know for sure?"
My reply to him (on one occasion I remember) was, "well, the only thing I know for sure is that I think, therefore I am."
That stopped the codger for a minute, and the half-sly, half-bemused grin along with the twinkle in his eye was priceless.
All right, how do "I" know that "I" am? Because, very clearly something is going on. There is no getting around the fact that "something is going on". And furthermore, something is AWARE of this. Maybe both of these 'somethings' are illusory, and maybe they are 'real', but either way something is going on, or else nothing would be sitting here, or even seeming to sit here, asking such questions, or even seeming to ask them. Seeming as surely as being must have a source, must it not? So "I" have as good a warrant to believe that "I" am thinking about the apparent "fact" that "I am", as to believe the contrary.
Therefore "I" choose to believe that "I" am. "Something" is aware that "something is going on", and aye, "I" seems as good a name for this "eye" of awareness as anything else which "I" can think of, or even think that I am thinking of. So there. QED.
Bottom line: all knowing requires both a "knower" and a "known". Or if you prefer, a subject and an object.
Now, on to the big question: does feminism exist?
I think it makes sense to say that it does -- but in a derivative way. The objective world, as a "known", is necessary for me to exist as a "knower". But feminism is only a derivative, a "coming into being" of the flux of possibility which is that objective world. It is unnecessary to my existence as a "knower", because other phenomena (such as old codgers) can just as well be "known" to me.
Therefore, feminism has a lower order of existence than the primordial objective world of which it is an offshoot.
Hope this sheds light.