8/5/06

Treatise I - on God as a Semantic Problem


I. BEING AND EXISTENCE

i. On the problem of Being
Philosophy begins with the consciousness of a problem: the problem of Being. And yet none of us doubt that we are, at least not instinctively. We speak of things, we say they are, we refer to I and you as if it is a simple, obvious matter of common sense. In other words, we Be, of that we seem to have no doubt, at least not before we engage in philosophy. Only after philosophy begins could Being itself be debatable, and yet even then the number of philosophers who have argued against it are too few to mention. In fact, I can think of no philosopher who has argued that “nothing is”, and naturally so, considering it is such an obvious contradiction in terms. At most, they will have argued that there can only be things that “cannot be spoken of” or expressed through language.(1) Something always is, for if that were not true, the proposition itself would not exist, nor would the subject who is stating that proposition, nor would you or me or this text, or even the words with which to write this text. In fact, we wouldn’t even know if there “was nothing”, nor would we be able to say so. Thus it seems impossible to us from a logico-grammatical point of view (2) that Being might not Be. So how can there be a problem if there is no Being? We are conscious of a problem regarding the nature of being, of the nature of the Being of things, of us, of everything, and yet we are sure there is and that things Be. Therefore, our first question arises: If Being is obvious (although the quality or nature of it may not be), then why is it a problem?

Consider the way we conceive of the problem of Being when it comes up, for example, as we’re lying on a field under a starry sky or in some dinky bar off our tits on beer and having one of those “deep and meaningful”s with our mates or with strangers we’ve just met. We usually ask: Why am I here? Where are we going? Where did we come from? What is the meaning of my Being? Is there a meaning to it all? These have become such obvious and predictable questions that they are in fact clichés, as you most probably would have rolled your eyes upon reading them just now. However, each one of these clichés presupposes two things: One, that we Be, and two, that there is something lacking in our Being. The first truism, that we Be, is taken as granted, for if it weren’t, then the second truism – that there is something lacking in the nature of Being – would be void. Therefore, it seems clear to us that Being is a problem in itself, although not the fact of our Being, but something to do with the nature and quality of it. We are not satisfied with it, we sense something to be incomplete, lacking, and we further consider this a problem because it causes us to feel troubled and worried, and even unhappy.

“But wait”, you might say, “I know of many people for whom Being is no dilemma or problem at all, who never question the nature of their Being, who lead fulfilled and purposeful lives.” However, a problem is part of a dichotomy which involves – and in fact predicts and presupposes – a solution. Such is the nature of these concepts for us, because we conceive of our world in this dichotomous manner where there are things lacking which must be found or filled. There are problems that need to be solved. Thus, speaking from an existential level once more, if there is a problem of the nature or quality of Being, then as humans, it’s natural that we seek solutions, for they’re two sides of the same coin. Now look at those people you (hypothetically) mentioned who felt no problem of Being whatsoever, who lived happy and fulfilled lives oblivious to this question. You will find that, on the contrary, they have convinced themselves to have solutions, which, considering the dichotomous nature of the problem-solution relationship, would mean that they have only flipped the coin to the other side and hidden the problem from their eyes, even though it still makes up half the coin. Instead of asking, they are answering, instead of seeking, they are finding. In other words, the Why? What? How? Where? is substituted with ideals meant to fill in the perceived lack, such as Why? For Good; What? God; How? Grace; Where? Afterlife/Heaven/Metempsychosis/Eternal Salvation, etc. But even though religion is the easiest and most popular way to fill in the lack and find a solution, one can also do so through the application of an ideological system (Marxism, Hegelianism, the philosophy of Nietzsche, etc…). But any way that it’s done, the point is that whether you still perceive a problem or have found a solution, the overall Problem persists because of the dichotomous nature of problem/solution: Being is a dilemma regardless of whether you seek solutions and answers, or whether it remains open to philosophical speculations. It is the first problem of philosophy and all of us have to deal with it somehow. The problem is universal.

So now we see that 1) Being is a universal problem we all experience regardless of the various ways that we deal with it, (whether we continue to treat it as problem or whether we treat it to a solution through religion, secular ideologies, escapism, etc…)(3) and 2) that it is not a problem of Being itself (which we take as granted) but of a certain nature and quality of Being (which we deem to be lacking). But let’s look now at what that nature or quality that we perceive to be lacking is… Consider the questions once again: Why… here? Where… going? Where… from? What… meaning? Each of these questions takes for granted the obvious fact of whether we Be, but rather seeks to know of Being from a spatio-temporal perspective, in the sense of direction, origin and destination, with to’s and from’s and whence’s and where’s. You will notice that I left out the last question we often ask, i.e. What is the meaning of life? Here we ask a question from something other than a spatio-temporal perspective, choosing to focus instead on meaning, which is essentially what we mean by ultimate (or better, original) causation, or rather, the first cause in a chain of causes and effects from which everything that has sprung forth is the subsequent effect of the/an original cause. Thus the original cause is the hinge that holds together the Being of all things and our perception of all things as being a virtually limitless relationship of causes and effects.(4) In other words, we perceive the problem of Being as a problem of Being in something with spatio-temporal (5) dimensions and which is also subject to the “laws” of causation, and that can only be in one thing: the World. Thus the problem of the nature and quality of Being that we perceive and seek to confront and/or remedy is actually that of Being-in-the-World.

You are naturally thinking, then, that without philosophy, without religion or ideology, without there being some way of dealing with and finding answers to or just pondering on the problem of Being, we can never live our lives as if the problem didn’t exist? Exactly, we can’t. That is something only animals seem capable of not perceiving (or, more correctly, they are incapable of perceiving a problem), but what differentiates us from animals is precisely the consciousness of the problem of Being. Thus, even someone who seems to live without any philosophical consolation or reflection and even shuns all systems of thought that aim to give answers to the problem of Being, a man who is seemingly oblivious to the question of his Being, seems impossible. Why impossible? Because if we cannot help but perceive the world in any way but within spatio-temporal dimensions and as a virtually limitless interaction of causes and effects, we cannot help but apply these fundamental cognitive faculties universally and to the full, as far as our understanding and intellectual scope will permit. In other words, if we perceive a cycle of problems and solutions, of birth and death, of beginnings and ends, of firsts and lasts, of from’s and to’s, of life and death, then we cannot help but also ponder the original causes and the penultimate effects – even though the universe may be impossible to be conceived in this sense, but we as humans are condemned to only be able to think of it in this sense, because such is our nature, which we are stuck with and can never think outside the parameters of.(6) What man has seen the birth of a baby and not wondered at the birth and nature and origin of all life? What man has thought of death and not wondered what must come after death, or indeed before? What man has looked at the stars and only accepted that they are there without wondering what lies beyond? What man has not wondered at the birth of his offspring and not wondered what created and gave birth to mankind, to life, to everything? It seems impossible therefore that in a world perceived in terms of space-time and causality, the perceiving subject (i.e. you and I) should not think of everything, every angle, also in terms of space-time and causality, because that which man perceives to lack knowledge of, man can only try and explain through the cognitive faculties at hand, and our only cognitive faculties at hand are the very same ones that enable us to perceive a lack of knowledge in the first place. Thus to know and not know is, as far as we are concerned, one and the same, for knowledge inevitably leads to perception of its lack, and vice versa (for to perceive that we lack knowledge is knowledge). Such is the human condition. But why do I say “seems impossible”? Why seems? Have I not demonstrated that it is impossible? Of course not, for to perceive of something as impossible is quite different than whether something is impossible or not. For I too am human, I too am subject to the aforementioned limitations of the human condition, therefore neither I nor anyone can stand outside this nature of ours and proclaim something – anything – is so or is not so. It only seems so, because we have not the vantage point of objectivity from which to perceive our own subjectivity. In other words, by observing things and speaking of them, I am simultaneously being a part of things and thus altering them by my very observation of them.

We have now established that all men are – and must be – conscious of the problem of Being, that the problem of Being is a problem of Being-in-the-World, and that Being itself is taken for granted. Thus we can see that there are essentially three types of people who Be in the world: 1) Those who perceive the problem of Being and despair of having no remedy for it – i.e. the suicide; 2) Those who perceive the problem of Being and bolster themselves with either an answer or solution to that which he (7) perceives it lacks and he needs – i.e. the believer; 3) Those who perceive the problem of Being and continue to accept it as a problem without either despairing or seeking escape by way of answers and solutions – i.e. the philosopher. But before we can study each distinct type – suicide, believer and philosopher – we must understand the problem of Being-in-the-World.

ii. Being-in-the-World as Existence
Asserting any differentiation between Being and Existence would seem to many to be pointless nitpicking. We all use the words interchangeably, and for our everyday and general intents and purposes, one serves just as aptly as the other. But when we’re dealing with a subject as the one we have at hand – one that I would not be exaggerating in describing as being literally a matter of Life and Death – the difference becomes magnified and takes on the utmost importance. One need only look at the etymology of “existence” to see the difference as it relates to us. For where being is “to be”, existence is to “stand out”, from Latin: ex- “out”, sistere- “to cause to stand, sit, place”. Thus, one who “exists” is one who “stands out.” Now, to stand out, one must be a thing that stands out from other things, i.e. one must stand out in the world. And so existence becomes a matter of being among things, or being in the world. We see now the difference between the problem of Being from that of the problem of Being-in-the-World: It is a matter of instinctive knowing that we Be, that we are; however, it is a whole different problem when we are among other things, and most importantly, other Beings-in-the-World. To be seems to us simply to Be, but to exist means to be one among many, among other, among all. But where lies the problem in this? What is the problem of Existence as Being-in-the-World? The problem lies in the thingness of existence, in fact, in all things: Existence is a relative mode of being (by virtue of the fact that it is Being-among-Things), and to sense the relativity of our being as existence is a problem. Why? Because we realize that the most important thing in the world – the I (or ego) that signifies our Existence – is nothing on its own, is meaningless except in relation to other things. There is not absolute I that exists, only a relative one. In other words, the I becomes a part of the system of intersignification that is language and grammar. The I becomes word, the I becomes yet another sign, and outside of its place in the system of intersignification, this I that is the representation of a state of Existence is meaningless. This aspect of Existence as Being-in-the-World is our ultimate dilemma, and how we deal with the dilemma is basically what all our lives amount to.

[A side note seems in order here concerning my blowing off Being (as opposed to Being-in-the-World) as being taken for granted on our part. Naturally, this is a question that relates to the nature of consciousness, a question that has been taken on by philosophers much more accomplished than I, and also by neuroscientists for the past few decades… all to no avail. Neuroscientists are still unsure what exactly constitutes consciousness. As for philosophers, what Berkeley described as Mind/God, Kant as Thing-in-Itself, and Schopenhauer as Will, was left unexplained and unexplainable by each, thus leaving the problem of consciousness to be one of the last great problems of both philosophy and science. Even Nietzsche’s will-to-power is more an empirical and behavioral observation of the effects of Will than an exposition of any origins or causes of Will in itself. It wasn’t until the psychoanalysis of Freud that anyone bravely sought to explore the origins of consciousness and mind. Thanks to the efforts of Schopenhauer (who brought to the attention of western philosophy Vedic and Buddhist philosophy), and later Nietzsche and Freud, we do however now accept the complex multidimensionality of consciousness, especially vis-à-vis Will or the Unconscious. Yet it remains a mystery. But perhaps we must just stick to Descartes’ cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. Even though the nature of our own consciousness remains a mystery – and one we will never solve fully, because we can never objectively observe that which can only subjectively observe anything in the first place – we can apply a certain principle here of insufficient doubt. That is, I think, and whether I can really know whether I am or not, I think I am, and I don’t see sufficient amount of doubt to disprove my Being, which is further corroborated through sensual and empirical knowledge, therefore I accept my Being. We stated before that “nothing could not be”, that it was illogico-grammatical, and that therefore “something is” otherwise thought would not be, let alone these words that express thought. But I think, and even if I thought “nothing is”, that would be absurd, because by merely thinking it, then something is (i.e. thought and thinking subject), and I can only know through my senses and my brain. Without them, nothing would be known to me. Now if that which is (everything that is around me) can only be known to me through my senses and my brain (since any other way of knowing if anything is would be impossible), then I can only assume on the basis of insufficient doubt, that if anything must be, it must first and foremost be Me – viz. the thinking, perceiving subject, or the I. Therefore, as far as I can know, I am, that much is granted, because I must be.](8)

It’s important to point out here the importance of language as a system of intersignification and the place of Existence as I within this system. We may have Berkeley to thank for first conceiving of words as ideas or representations of a relationship between a subject and an object. It was later de Saussure who then considered words as signs that carried a binary property as both signified (object) and signifier (subject). Such is the nature of a word as a sign. It does not signify merely what is, but rather, what is perceived. The importance of a word being a sign having the dual property of subject and object means that a word does not symbolize or represent what exists or is per se, but signifies what is perceived to exist on the part of the subject, although the perception is also determined by certain properties of the object. Therefore, a word is the signification of a relationship. And the words by which we describe and create knowledge form a system of intersignification whereby things are only in relation to – and in the context of – other things, meaning of course that nothing can exist outside of language (at least as far as humans are concerned). What is can only be understood in this context as what it isn’t. Thus, red can only mean what it means for us in relation to all the colors it isn’t. If there were no color but red, then not only would there be no “red”, there would also be no “color.” In fact, one could not even say what anything is without it being what it isn’t. A human is not animal, or tree, or car. Even if we state a positive property to describe a human, it refers to a negative. E.g. “Humans are conscious of their consciousness” makes no sense in describing human beings if it did not presuppose that there are beings that are not (or cannot be) conscious of being conscious. Hence the inter-signification of language. Try, for example, to conceive of a thing that does not exist… Already I have posited a thing, which is a word that only makes sense vis-à-vis not-thing, and hence is already by definition a part of language and the system of intersignification. Let’s go further and think of this thing that is not. For example, a unicorn? Surely that doesn’t exist, but it is still the amalgamation of random signs/words that do exist and that we are familiar with, i.e. a “horn” and a (“white”) “horse”. We are just not accustomed to seeing these two things on the same being, but that’s all our imagination can do: mix and match innumerable word/sign/ideas with great variety and creativity, but never conceive something which is not, nor even a single property which is not.(9) Even the most fantastic creations of the human mind are just that, and can only be just that: mere amalgamations of random things as signs/words/ideas. In other words, we can conceive of nothing outside our system on intersignification. Even the concept of “nothing” is dependent on that of “thing” and is thus really only “anti-thing”, because as we stated before, we do not have the logico-grammatical capacity to conceive of “nothing” because, as sign/word, it is by definition something, and thus thing. And if we fail to grasp such a paradoxical concept through language and within the system of intersignification, then we fail to grasp it at all, for what is beyond the scope of language is beyond the scope of philosophy (which we’ll talk about later).

But what about complex word/signs that do not hold up to empirical knowledge, i.e. God, Spirit, Soul, eternity, infinity? Surely, these things that cannot be perceived to exist in an empirical sense cannot then be juxtaposed to that which they are not? If there is no object to form the signified half of the binary relation of sign alongside signifier, then wouldn’t such concepts as these lack possibility of becoming signs/words? Now we are coming to the crux of the problem of (Being-in-the-World as) Existence. How can a non-object become a thing as word/sign in the system of intersignification? More importantly, why does a non-object become a thing as word/sign? Why is the world of empirically observable and signifiable things not enough for us? What is lacking? And why is its lack so important that we must go out of our way, even against the sound judgment of empirical probation, to make it be by filling in the lack?

If we can only conceive of what is as what is not, then can we also not conceive of what is not as what is, because it should be? In other words, if we can look at something and define it according to what it is not, then is it not also possible to conceive of something that is not vis-à-vis what is? If [a = x – a], where x = everything and a = a particular thing, then we can also state that [– a = – x + a], because a cannot be without other things to not be a, therefore anti-everything (nothing) + a = anti-a (no-a). But now we are taking an extreme leap by implying that [a = x + (– a)], whereby a equals everything plus no-a. Let’s apply the concept of God as an example: God = Everything + No-God. This holds true, because we perceive no God in the world as thing (not in the way we perceive a tree or a car), yet the concept of God exists precisely for this reason. In other words, everything plus no-God means God must exist because his inexistence is perceived. Thus the word/sign “God” fills its own perceived lack. (The signifier subject remains (us), but the signified object (God) is really a signified no-object (no-God) that should be object (God) precisely because it is perceived not to exist by the signifier subject (us)). Now let’s try the equation with something that does exist empirically (like a tree or a car). The [a = x + (– a)] formula would not work, for that would mean that a tree would be everything plus no-tree, which would mean there would be no trees, which is absurd. But take, for instance, “Soul”, and again the [a = x + (– a)] formula holds, for Soul (unperceived substance) exists vis-a-vis everything plus no-Soul, i.e. Soul, like God, exists (as word/sign) through its own perceived lack.(10) You can surmise the implications of this formula: God exists (as word/sign) precisely because he does not exist (as signifiable object). Now let’s assume, in an attempt to disprove this theory, that God did exist as a thing, not just as a word/sign only, but as a signifiable object that is perceived empirically by a signifying subject… Therefore, like any other word/sign in the system of intersignification, the formula [a = x – a] would hold, where a is God, and so God is everything that is not God, which is absurd, because God cannot be separated from his creation, since it is implied in the concept of “God” that he is the creator and origin of all things (no matter what kind of God is believed in). Thus, without God there wouldn’t be an anything, let alone everything. The same holds when we apply the inverse formula of [– a = – x + a] whereby no-God is nothing plus God, which is also absurd because even with nothing else, God cannot not-be (cannot be no-God), since it is conceivable that, unlike a tree or a car, God can exist without needing to exist in relation to anything else, since unlike a tree or a car, God is a sentient being that would be aware of his own existence, and also because if God were the originator of all things, then he would have to have existed prior to all things, when there were no things. In other words, whereas most things exist positively (11) and abide by the first two formulas ([a = x – a] and [– a = – x + a]), other things exist negatively ([a = x + (– a)]), and God is one of these things. That which is positive is perceived in relation to all else that is positive, but that which is negative is perceived only in relation to a lack. Hence the existence of the word/sign “God”.

It’s important to note here that a thing is the sum of its qualities (or properties), so that ([a = x – a] and [– a = – x + a], is the basically the same as stating that ([q(a) = Q – q(a)] and [– q(a) = – Q + q(a)], where q is quality (of particular thing a) and Q is all qualities. So if we apply this formula and take as an example a rabbit, we are saying it is an animal (thus it is not-plant, not-human, not-cat, basically everything that is not not-animal etc…), it is a mammal (thus it is not-reptile, not-amphibian, not-avian, basically everything that is not not-mammal etc…), and so on. So just as a rabbit is “positively” definable as everything minus rabbit (not-dog, not-cat, not-chair, etc…), so too a rabbit is also an amalgamation of qualities that are not not-qualities of rabbit (since a quality – just as any thing – is only definable in relation to other things, and thus, as what it is not). We will look at this more closely later on in the Word/sign chapter.

We have now demonstrated that God is precisely because he is not. Thus, the concept of God is obviously a human creation made to fill a lack. But why? Why go to the trouble to come up with such concepts to fit into the system of intersignificance? Why isn’t empirical proof enough that we have to bring into being that which is not? Furthermore, what makes “God” the best filler of that lack? To answer this, we must go back to the question of the problem of Being-in-the-World as Existence, and man’s Existence as thing in the system of intersignificance. In other words, the problem of man’s “standing out.”

iii. Man-God
According to the formula for positive existence outlined above, man exists – that is, man is a positive word/sign and thing in the system of intersignificance. Therefore, man is that which everything else is not. In other words, man “stands out”, and hence exists as Being-in-the-World. This suggests the self-consciousness of man: Man knows he is man, and he is man because he is not animal, plant, banana or cloud. Thus man achieves self-consciousness through a consciousness of his own properties and qualities as man juxtaposed to the properties and qualities of all other things, or not-man, since within his system of intersignificance he has ascertained certain categories of all things and aggregated or differentiated all things according to those categories he has deemed fit to ascertain (naturally in accord with his inherent and necessary human bias). But what is extraordinary is precisely this consciousness of self by which Man has also included himself into the system of intersignificance, thus conceiving of himself as thing as well. Thus, since the system of intersignification is a human creation born of inherent and necessary human bias, man’s consciousness of existence (and furthermore, man’s consciousness of consciousness – hence Homo sapiens sapiens), all lead to a fundamental dilemma: Man knows All and Self, but nothing else knows Man. Man “stands out” as existing thing, but Man stands out alone. When Man is the measure of all things, there remains nothing that can measure Man. But if this is the case, then when we come to apply our two formulas for positive existence as [a = x – a] and [– a = – x + a], we find that, unlike all other things that abide by the formulas, Man in fact does not! Here, when a = Man, the formula suggests that Man is everything minus Man, but if Man is the only perceiving subject in this universe and the foundation of language, knowledge and the system of intersignification, in other words, if Man is the measure of all things vis-à-vis Man, then it is obviously absurd to conceive of Man as being everything minus Man, for without Man there would not exist “everything” or indeed anything, because there will be no perceiving subject, thus no word/sign, thus no system of intersignification, thus no knowledge. Without the conscious subject, there would be nothing (so to speak, within the limitations of language, but of course there would not even be “nothing”). In other words, the existence of Man cannot be positively verified, because Man must be present as conscious subject for anything at all to exist, including himself, but any other thing cannot possibly verify the existence of Man. Let’s try our second formula of positive existence, and we’ll find the same thing: again, where [– a = – x + a], no-Man cannot equal nothing plus Man, because, as we stated earlier, Man is not only conscious, but is conscious of Being (as differentiated from Existence, which is Being-in-the-World) and therefore a thinking sentient being cannot not-be. Therefore, we cannot fit Man into any positive formula of existence. What does this mean? It means that we cannot know if we really exist, because nothing can exist except through Man – including Man himself. In other words, we need something that knows Man independent of Man. That’s the reason why the negative formula of existence holds true. That which is lacking is thereby given a “fake” existence as word/sign, which, seeing as it exists negatively and thus cannot be posited as existing, can only be believed in. For without the negative formula of existence, Man would be conscious of not knowing if it really knows anything, for nothing knows him.(12)

And so here we come to the crux of the problem: Man cannot exist through no-Man, or even not-Man (everything except Man), but needs something else. Hence the possibility of the negative formula of existence whereby that which is perceived as lacking within the formula of positive existence is made possible, especially considering Man’s lack of any discernible formula of existence, either positive or negative, as was demonstrated in the previous paragraph. Therefore, to fill in the lack of positive existence, God (as well as other negative things, such as Soul, which we’ll look at a little later) becomes possible as the consciousness that Man lacks of (and over) himself. The negative existence of God becomes necessary as anti-Man. Thus Man and God become inseparable binary opposites without which neither can exist, for Man can only exist positively through God, and God can only exist negatively to Man, and so Man becomes anti-God, and God becomes anti-Man. The speculations that can be drawn forth from this are deceptively obvious, as they are open to elenctic variations of equal validity. For one could argue that, as a result of this relation, God must exist, because without him, Man is lost. On the other hand, one could also argue that Man is already lost, and so God exists as an imaginary remedy. These arguments are, however, meaningless, for they are simply a matter of whatever one wants to believe, and in fact totally pointless, because the distinction is false. But the greater, much more important implication of the binary nature of Man-God is this: that our heretofore conception of Man and God as separate things (or word/signs within the system of intersignificance) is now impossible from a philosophical standpoint, as we have proven that neither can exist (conceptually speaking) without the other. They are, instead, two aspects of the same thing: Man-God.(13)

iv. On the negative existence of things
Formula: q = all qualities of negative thing n, and Q is all qualities. Thus, according to the formula for the negative existence of things, n = q(n). In other words, n is that which its qualities are. Thus God is God because of his qualities, i.e. omnipotence, omniscience, immortality, etc. Thus, God is the sum of his qualities. Now if according to the negative formula of the existence of things ([a = x + (– a)]), then negative thing n is the sum of qualities found lacking in everything x. Thus q(n) = Q + (– q(n)). Why not simply q(n) = Q – q(n)? Because the lack of qualities of n must be perceived positively as lacking in all qualities Q. Thus we are in fact adding that which we perceive as lacking, hence Q + (– q(n)). So now we have the formula for the quality of a negative thing as: n = q(n) = Q + (– q(n)), and the overall formula for all negative things becomes [a = x + (– a)] = n = q(n) = Q + (– q(n)). Now when we apply this formula to another negative thing like “Soul”, as we demonstrated earlier, we find that Soul can have no positive existence in accordance with [a = x – a] and [– a = – x + a], because we cannot know what the qualities are of that which is not (i.e. which is not positively apparent to us empirically). However, Soul does fit into the negative formula for the existence of things, because we can know what qualities are lacking in all qualities Q. In fact, that is precisely the definition of the negative thing: that which is perceived to be lacking in the world and thus by definition takes on the qualities of that perceived lack. Hence the negative nature of God and Soul. So, Q – q(n) would not hold, but Q + (– q(n)) would. Thus we cannot define everything in terms of what God or Soul isn’t, we can, however, define God and Soul in terms of what we perceive to be missing or lacking in everything.(14) This may seem contradictory: It means we create the concepts of God and Soul based on our perception of what is lacking, yet we never really know what those concepts of God and Soul are in a complete and positive sense, because we never know what they are not.

Let’s try some examples where we take up qualities of God and Soul. According to Q + (– q(n)), then, let’s take Immortality, so that Immortality equals all qualities plus no-immortality, which holds true, because this quality of God is lacking as a quality amongst all qualities, therefore all qualities plus the lack of this quality define it as a quality of God. So too Universal Omnipotence, which equals all qualities plus the lack of the quality of Universal Omnipotence, which holds true as a quality of God. If we apply the positive formula q(n) = Q – q(n) however, Immortality could not equal all qualities minus Immortality, because Immortality is not a quality that is perceived as being possible. It is only perceived as being lacking (in relation to mortality – that is, Death).

So what is the origin of lack? Why do we need some things to exist when we see that they don’t? Or rather, why do we perceive that everything in itself is not enough that it needs us to create negative concepts to incorporate into our system of intersignificance as word/signs that have no positive and empirical existence? Put simply, why do we need God and Soul? What is the ultimate lack in the universe? What is the ultimate lack in life? In fact, what is the only significant lack? What is not-life? The answer is obvious to us all: Death. It is the ultimate state of not-Being, not-Existing, not-Life, not-Human, not-Thing. Put simply, it is Not. Death is the primordial lack, the ontological void. But to say that these negative things, God and Soul, spring from the mere perception of death would be wrong, for animals perceive death too, it seems, knowing the difference between a living being and one that is dead, thus acting accordingly. But what separates us is that we have a consciousness of death. For example, unlike animals, we can think of death as an abstract thing or abstract concept without having to see a dead thing to conceive of it. Thus we are aware of Death as a concept, and incorporate it as such into our language (system of intersignificance). Why is this important? Because it is only through abstraction that concepts become things (as part of the system of intersignification), and philosophy can only begin with this process of abstraction, for philosophy can only deal with word/signs. What happens then is that we are not only aware of death when we see dead, only to shrink away with an instinctual aversion born of our instinct for self-preservation; instead, we are aware of Death at all times as an abstract concept that is perceived to be ubiquitous as a law of nature in accordance with our intellectual faculties and sense-experience. This of course means that Death becomes a fundamental aspect of our overall life consciousness, because it appears to us as the ultimate negation of life and being. Death thus becomes an existential issue, fundamental to our Existence as Being(s)-in-the-World. Thus we not only “stand out”, we “stand out” at our own certain peril. We lack permanence, we lack security, we lack the secure continuation of our most cherished quality: Being.

As we have demonstrated above, for Man to exist, God must “exist” (as word/sign); we see now that for Man to also persist, God must exist. Thus God is the negative creation that is sought both as an answer to the problem of Birth and that of Death. This does make sense on a scientific level as well, seeing as Birth and Death are obviously two sides of the same coin and inseparable from each other, much in the same connection as Man-God. We can now gauge the qualities of God through the lack of existence (or Death), according to the overall formula for the negative existence of things ([a = x + (– a)] = n = q(n) = Q + (– q(n))), although, as stated before, we can never know all the qualities of God in a positive sense, only in a negative one.(15) Permanence (as opposed to the fleetingness of life, happiness, love, loved ones, all things we hold to be good and dear, etc.), immortality (as opposed to Death and the certain end of I), Knowledge (as opposed to ignorance of the Meaning of Life and the Purpose of Existence), Pure Goodness (as opposed to the vices we perceive in our world and which we shrink from, jealousy, greed, envy, anger, unhappiness, etc.), Eternity (as opposed to the merciless passing of time and the stress of aging), Infinity (as opposed to the limitedness of our own being, our world, our knowledge, etc.), Unity (as opposed to alienation and estrangement both as Existing Being-in-the-World, and as Being-among-Others), Love (as opposed to loneliness, lack of recognition, being unloved or constant need for love, recognition, need to be heard and known and seen by others), Truth (as opposed to lack of Truth – or lack of certainty of what can only be believed to be Truth), Power (as opposed to the feeling of powerlessness and helplessness through perception of Fate and Fortune), Glory (as opposed to mundane and boring nature of existence), Grace (as opposed to our own graceless bumbling, mistakes and failures), Perfection (as opposed to all our own perceived shortcomings, complexes, paranoia and insecurity), Protection (as opposed to seeming precariousness of nature, life, living, the universe), Security (as opposed to the cycle of killing, death and violence on earth), and the list can go on and on… One quality of God is particularly interesting however, and that is that of Mystery, a quality obviously born of the perception of the quotidian sterility and routine of human life and endeavor. For no Man can say God is not a Mystery. In fact, this very quality of Mystery that we attribute to God is our collective-conscious expression – and unconscious proof – of what we stated above concerning our inability of positing the qualities of God in anything other than a negative way – of our inability to conceive of God positively. For we all agree in the above qualities we’ve listed as attributes of God, but although we list such qualities as “Knowledge”, “Truth”, etc… as being in the necessary possession of God, by also stating the “Mysterious” property of God we are expressing our fundamental ignorance of what God “Is”… In other words, we cannot positively conceive of God as what “Is”, only as what we “Are Not”. But this has already been demonstrated through our subjecting the word/sign of God to our positive and negative formulas for existence, so all it is is a confirmation rather than a revelation.

So far Soul has taken a backseat in our discussion of the nature of the existence of negative things. Truly, it is of secondary importance than the concept (as word/sign) of God, but it is also integral to it, and thus a concept (as word/sign) worth delving into. Whereas God is the remedial manifestation of lack on a universal scale, Soul is remedial manifestation of lack on an individual scale. They are two aspects of the same remedy, fitted to Man as Being (universally – God), and Man as Being-in-the-World (individually – Soul). We can demonstrate this by seeing that every quality attributed to God is in turn attributed to Soul in relation to the individual. That is, Soul is perceived as like a little piece of God. If God is All, then Soul is All-in-the-Many. Just as it necessitated a Holy Spirit to establish the link of essence between God (All) and Jesus (All as Individual manifestation), and thus complete the unity in a Holy Trinity, so too Soul forms the individuation as word/sign of the essential negative qualities of word/sign God as All. Thus, if Man creates God because he perceives qualities that are lacking and which need to be remedied by God vis-à-vis his consciousness as Being, it is the concomitant creation of Soul by which he reconciles his existence as individual (Being-in-the-World) and to thus create the link between All or One (God) and Many (Soul, since individuals form the Many that are in turn part of All or One). Thus, where God is immortal creator, Soul is what is immortal creation within the Individual as separate from that part of him that is physical and mortal. Soul is thus the conceptual link that must tie Man to God, by which Man partakes of those qualities in God that he perceives to be lacking in himself and thus seeks a transference of those qualities into himself. Thus, through Soul, Man cheats Death; through Soul, Man achieves immortality; through Soul, Man inherits Truth and Knowledge; through Soul, Man becomes Good… In other words, through Soul, Man becomes part God and thus overcomes his undesirable Man-ness and the limitations and inherent lack of his existence. No wonder, then, that so many from so many religions and belief systems and paradigms of thought have sought to “learn about their Soul.” For God and Soul share another fundamental quality: that of Mystery. Just as God is a mystery, so is the Soul, and this in fact is one of our favorite qualities that we find in it. By partaking of God through Soul, we become something beyond everyday and mundane… we become sublime, we become each of us a Mystery, we become, finally, interesting to ourselves. We thus believe Truth, Immortality and Meaning lie within, but also give ourselves the purpose of finding it, because, as with God – whose properties Soul transfers and individuates – Mystery is also the satisfaction of a lack and part and parcel of Truth.(16)

But one will have noticed here that our description of the lack is not fully explained. Why are those qualities we deem lacking on earth, deemed to be lacking, and furthermore, deemed necessary to be remedied by the creation of negative things that are granted those lacking qualities so that wholeness is achieved in Man’s universe (within the system of intersignificance)? If it is obvious to us from science and observation that Death (Death being the ultimate Lack) is a natural process that all living organisms experience, and indeed must experience in biological terms, and if we are logically aware of this fact of life, then why is it a problem for us? Why must we believe in God and Soul to remedy this? Why does this lack cause us… pain? For that is the origin of our conception of lack, that which causes us pain, not necessarily physically (although the physically painful potential of Death is also very apparent to us at all times), but also psychologically? Is the origin of all our ingenious systems of belief, of Truth, of God, of Soul, merely the product of a base and primordial feeling? Can our entire system of religion, philosophy, ingenious creation, imagination, quest for Truth and pursuit of science all really just come down to a single, stupid feeling? Is Pain our ultimate stimulant for all pursuit in life? For fear of the pain of exposure to the elements, to the ravages of nature, to the greed and power of others, to the vicissitudes of hunger and thirst are our stimulants for working for the sake of having a house and food and clothing and water to keep us from experiencing pain. But it is obvious that this form of pain is actually an alarm given by our instinct of self-preservation to our intellect, warning it of what needs to be done for the essential preservation of life. But how is the other type of pain – the existential type stated above – also pain? Surely our life is in no immediate danger even if we were to be able to conceive of living without the negative word/signs of God and Soul? But this involves a different type of pain to the physical one. Whereas the physical manifestation of pain is one that stimulates and causes the adrenalin to flow, the latter existential pain is one that has the obverse effect: it sucks out our life-force and causes inaction, nausea and unease. But although physical pain and existential pain have different manifestations, they have their origins in the same natural instinct for self-preservation, and are thus manifestations of anti-Death. But what is the origin of this Pain that is born of the consciousness of lack in the perception of (ultimate-)Lack-as-Death? Why is God and Soul the necessary remedy? Why is there Pain? What or who are we trying to save?

Before we look into the origin on Pain, let us now sum up by showing that the cause of the existence of negative things can then be summed up with the formula: P + q(a) > – q(a) = q(n) where p = Pain.(17) This means that Pain caused by a positive quality brings forth an anti-positive quality, which equals the quality of a negative thing as lack. To give an example, Pain caused by our perception of Death (which is an observable quality of the world, thus “positive” as not-Life) leads to a conception of anti-Death which in turn becomes the negative quality of Immortality. Thus: P + q(a) > – q(a) = q(n)

v. Ego – I – as End-in-Itself

Just as we can only speak of, represent, and think about everything in terms of being and existence (where even the concept of nothing can only be conceived negatively, as not-thing, not-being, not-existing, etc.), so too, we can only relate to the world through the ego and for the ego, the I. Our consciousness of Being is the beginning of our consciousness of self. All our subsequent actions have their origins in the ego and all consequences serve the interests of the ego. In other words, there can never be a selfless act, an act that did not have as its first interest the interest of the ego of the acting subject. All other interests and ends are relative to the ego. Thus, as a universal rule, Ego is the origin of all deeds and always the End-in-Itself. The interests and well-being of Ego is the End-in-Itself.

This may seem cynical and callous, especially when we place so much value in selflessness and altruism while we vilify egotism. But when we look at it closer, selfless acts and altruistic motives are in fact the most ingenious forms of gratifying self and ego. In other words, no action can be taken consciously that is not in the interests of the ego before all else. Thus, when a man risks his life to save a child in a burning house, he does so because he would feel disgusted and worthless with himself if he didn’t, he would lose a person he loved and made himself feel good to know and have in his life, he would gain the recognition and respect of the public, of his other loved ones, of God (if he believed in one), etc. Thus all of these factors would make him feel good for himself and serve the interests of his ego. This goes to show that doing something in the interests of ego need not be considered bad or wrong, because all our actions serve the interests of the ego. In fact, being gregarious and social beings, there has evolved among us an interrelationship and economy of ego-satisfaction in which the interests of the individual are indexed to the interests of society, or more precisely, to the interests of the individual as individual-in-society. Thus, when we consider one and all intertwined and sharing the same interests, that which we do for others also makes us feel good about ourselves. But we will talk about this more when we explore the origin of virtues and ideals and other “transcendental” concepts in another chapter.

If, therefore, the beginning of consciousness of Being is the beginning of consciousness of Self, and if, furthermore, all our conscious actions serve the interests of our selves (our ego), then the idea of not-Being, not-I, would be the ultimate evil in our eyes. Thus Death and danger (which is a consciousness of the possibility of Death) is naturally anathema to the human. Herein lies the cause of pain: the cause is that which is perceived as being opposed to the interests of Being, which is, essentially, consciousness of Being, and since the conception of I is born of that consciousness of Being, then that which causes pain is that which threatens Being as I. And so, we now see the origins of existential pain. Whereas physical pain is obvious as an immediate threat to well-being, existential pain thus manifests itself through this conception and awareness of Death in an abstract and potential sense, as a sense of the inevitability of not-Being. The importance of the negative qualities attributed to God and Soul for the sake of filling this ultimate Lack that is Death then becomes apparent. For just as our existence is justified through God (-via-Soul), so is our persistence of Being assured through God (-via-Soul) in the belief that there is an immortal substance to us called Soul which is God-given (or at least of a transcendental origin) and which will guarantee that “I”, that essence that is the “I” of consciousness, will never die, will live on and on forever. Thus I cheat Death, thus I alleviate Pain, thus I gain peace of mind.

And so Man-God persists, but Man knows God exists precisely because he doesn’t.(18)

Footnotes:

1. Lao Tzu: “The eternal Tao is not the Tao that can be spoken of.” Wittgenstein: “Of that which cannot be spoken we must forever remain silent.” These are the very first words of the Tao Te Ching and the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus respectively – words that contradict themselves, as they should.
2. Logic and reason are inseparable from language and grammar, but more on this later.
3. It is not important for now to discuss whether the solutions we conjure or accept as true have flaws inherent in them, something which would take a thousand books and an exhaustive study to even attempt, which would most probably end up being futile and without any definitive answers. It is also pointless here to discuss the nature of how these existential solutions may arise and the influence of institutionalized ideological structures, such as church, family, state, etc… For now it’s only important to know that people take upon themselves certain modes of belief as solutions with a view to dealing with the problem of Being.
4. I say “virtually” limitless, because they are ultimately limited by the conception of ultimate or original causation, which is essentially what we mean by meaning.
5. The temporal aspect may not seem as obvious as the spatial one in this context, but any question of from, to, here, there, movement, placement in general cannot have any sense in only a spatial aspect, for to move to something or from something necessitates a progressive displacement of a thing from an infinite series of here’s, and that progressive displacement of a thing cannot be conceived except through a sense of time. Thus a here and there means nothing except as also a before, now and after.
6. More on epistemology and the origins of knowledge in another chapter…
7. I’m going to use the masculine pronoun because I can’t be bothered saying s/he, and also because, for the most part, philosophy is a male pursuit, because women know better than to waste their time philosophizing about the meaning of life when they already instinctually know it, being as they are the repository of the wisdom of our species. From here on I will also refer to God as “he”, more out of the same sense of convenience (seeing as we are generally accustomed to the patriarchal concept of God through Judeo-Christian and Muslim civilization), but the correct definition would be “he/she/it”, but I can’t be bothered. “It” makes the most sense to me, but that causes confusion, especially in writing of this sort, so the best for the sake of avoiding any unnecessary confusion is to just refer to “him” the way people are used to. Besides, the gender of God (if that is even possible) has no bearing on the argument at hand.
8. What of the exception that I may be merely the thought or the dream of another being? After all, is there any way of knowing that I am not? There isn’t. But regardless of the nature of my Being, it still doesn’t mean I am not, because I can still conceive of myself as Self, and thus, as Being, regardless of whether I am the figment of another being’s imagination. As far as I’m concerned then, I am, and so is the world, even though it all be a dream. Furthermore, how can a person dream or think of me if I do not think of that creating person as thinking or dreaming of me in the first place? Therefore, my being thought or dreamt by another being again necessitates my existence as thinking and dreaming subject, because without me there would be no other to create me. Therefore, I am, though how I am is a mystery.
9. Take, for instance, children’s cartoons, where things we are accustomed to witnessing occur through a lifetime of experience are taken out of context and mixed and matched so that ridiculous things happen, ridiculous because they are out of the scope of perceived and accepted experience: i.e. we have the concept of “duck”, we have the concept of “pants”, and that of “talking”. To mix them all together and create a talking duck with pants is against all our commonly perceived experience, so we don’t get so taken in when we see a cartoon of it on TV. Furthermore, we know the character is merely a drawing. The reason why a child is more entertained and taken in by it, is that the child’s total experience is so much less than ours and thus has not come to have a rigid sense of what is normal that has been built up on decades of living experience. They know “duck” and “pants” and “talking” but aren’t yet so sure they cannot coalesce and morph into that of a talking duck in pants. So whereas we know such a thing as a talking duck in pants to be virtually impossible, a child’s credulity is engaged because of such little actual experience of life to show evidence to the contrary. In other words, all anything really is, no matter how “surreal” it may be, is merely a result of playing around with commonly accepted word/signs or compound word/signs.
10. By the same token, when we apply the positive formula for existence of Soul, [a = x – a], we find that everything minus Soul cannot define Soul because Soul is empirically unverifiable, and thus indefinable in any certain terms, which would mean that although you could define certain properties of “Soul” as being not-death, not-mortal, or not-material, you cannot positively define other qualities of it such as relate to consciousness and its nature in relation to matter – in other words, whether it is in fact not-consciousness or not-unconsciousness or something other, whether it is not-Self or not-Other, whether it is not-matter or not-ether, etc… So if we don’t know its full qualities empirically, we can’t know it as what it is not, thus it remains obscure and non-existent in a positive sense.
11. “Positively” in the sense that these things are apparent to us and empirically perceptible to our senses, and hence “posited”. There is a sense of irony to the fact that a positive thing can only be determined as a negation – in terms of what it is not ([a = x – a] and [– a = – x + a]). But without negation, nothing could be posited as existing, nothing would “stand out.” Thus, negation is in the nature of the positive. The qualities of positive things is dealt with in WORD/SIGNS.
12. One example is that Man cannot have proof that life is not a dream and that dream is not real life, because Man is the measure of all things, and therefore has nothing to measure his consciousness by. To say that the obvious sequences of causation, normalcy and space-time do not apply in the dream state is not possible, because we can only know that those obvious sequences of causation, normalcy and space-time are askew when we are in our waking state, but when we are in the dream state, things seem to make sense. Therefore, we cannot know which state is “real” and which “false”, because they involve two different states of consciousness without there being a “higher” objective consciousness that can preside over them and arbiter independently.
13. Some may object that if this were true there would be no possibility of atheism, that it is in fact not only possible but a widespread reality that men can and do live lives without recourse to God, without the need to seek validation of their existence through such a concept. But this is beside the point, because I am not arguing that one cannot live without belief in God, I am arguing that one cannot live without either believing in or not-believing in God, that in either case we must necessarily use God as the point from which we distinguish ourselves as Man, regardless of the quality of the distinction. In other words, everyone somehow establishes their existential identity by taking a position in relation to God, regardless of what that position may be.
14. Can anyone say what the nature of God or Soul is, what those concepts fully define? No. But one can perceive that God and Soul have all the properties that are perceived to be lacking in life, such as immortality, omniscience, meaning, omnipotence, infinity, eternity, etc.
15. Further evidence of our negative relation to God is the fact that we can only represent God in terms that are familiar to us – i.e. terms that can only be represented within the system of intersignificance. Thus God takes on anthropomorphized characteristics that arise from conceptions of paternalism/fatherhood. Just as we observe in life that a father is the head of a family and the originator of life through his external inception (or “intrusion”) into the female world (the world too is always represented as female in mythology), so too we need a universal “Father” as the ruler and creator of all things. This shows that we can only conceive of God as a being in worldly, and thus anthropomorphic, terms, because we further need a universal father figure that we find lacking. Family has father, state has father, but what about world or universe? It is the “supreme” father, God, who again fills the lack. Thus, we create God in our own image, for without our universal father we would all be orphans.
16. This seems like a contradiction, but as we stated above, it is essential, for the qualities of God and Soul cannot be known in a positive sense, only in a negative one, and therefore, although we know what qualities we lack and transfer onto God and through him Soul, we cannot know what qualities God and Soul have except in relation to this lack. Thus God and Soul must remain forever a mystery, hence the quality of Mystery that is inherent in both these negative (and intertwined) word/signs.
17. I use a capital “P” for dramatic flair, but also to highlight the fundamental importance of Pain in our outlook on the world.
18. The ambiguity of the pronoun is intended.

8/4/06

Treatise II - on God as a Semantic Problem


II. WORD/SIGNS

So far we have not stated anything new, but have instead clarified and brought to the surface that which most of us are either unconscious of or prefer to remain unconscious of concerning the nature of God as concept. Without any need for transcendental or metaphysical speculation, we have used the logic inherent in the tools of language common to us all to show that God exists only as negation, as God has been negatively charged with all the qualities perceived to be lacking positively – or [a = x + (– a)] = n = q(n) = Q + (– q(n)). This essentially negative property of God as thing is obvious as soon as we dig a little bit below the surface of knowledge and language, as we have done thus far. But many will now ask us why we are so focused on God as a mere word or sign, or idea or concept. Surely it’s much more important to debate the existence of God substantially and essentially, rather than waste time with silly little words and signs? Surely our knowledge of God – in fact, all true knowledge – transcends the limitations of mere language? But this is precisely where they are mistaken, because we will see that knowledge is language, and language is knowledge, that they are inseparable, and that one without the other seems (as far as humans are concerned, anyway) impossible.

We can only go so far in any search for the origins of language, although it probably began originally to facilitate certain necessities such as mating, hunting/gathering and warning of danger. Most animals use some form of language or other, and in the case of certain species of monkeys, scientists have identified different sounds that mean certain things (one type of screech alarms the others of an airborne danger such as an owl, another alerts of terrestrial danger such as a snake, etc.). Bees communicate directions to other bees through tactile movements, while ants also do so through the exchange of chemicals. Chimpanzees have certain noises they also make to communicate things, and also have a rich repertoire when it comes to body language (mostly almost the same as human body language). In other words, animals communicate, and their communication can be extremely complex, such as that of chimps and dolphins. But there is a great difference between what constitutes human language and that of any language among animals. Whereas animal language is based on the communication of immediate situations through sensory stimuli (mostly sound and touch) which they and their fellow species have come to identify with particular situations, human language relies on the use of abstract concepts as word/signs rather than the stimulus-response of animals. This capacity for abstraction is what defines human language and the origin of words as signs. As we stated before, a word is the representation of a relationship between a signifying subject and a signified object, thus resulting in an abstract, binary “sign” that is word, and binary in the sense that it carries the properties of both signified and signifier. Thus an abstract sign as thing (or representation of thing) emerges, so that when you say “tree” I immediately know what thing you are referring to. This capacity to conceive of things through word/signs, a whole world of things, is also the capacity for abstraction, for things stand out from other things, and a distinct thing has unique properties that distinguish it from other things. Thus a particular thing is precisely that which other things are not ([a = x – a] and [– a = – x + a]). In other words, they exist – as in, they “stand out.” This capacity for abstraction is what enables complex thought, and thus, the capacity for all knowledge. I can conceive of “car”, of “hit” and of “tree”, therefore when I say “car hit tree” I can explain an event that involves all those individual abstracted word/signs and thus create a piece of knowledge (or a datum) i.e. “a car hit a tree.” And because these word/signs are abstracted as signs, one need not see a car hitting a tree to understand the datum. Simply by seeing the word/signs, we can each of us conceive of the datum. And due to this nature of language as abstracted word/signs, we can go further in terms of conceiving of things that do not even exist. For example, as we also stated earlier, we can apply individual abstract concepts into random orders to create things which have properties consisting of real things but in an amalgamation that is something totally unique: i.e. unicorns, centaurs, satyrs, Superman, Bugs Bunny, etc. We conceive of “flight” and of “power” and of “good” and of “man” etc… and a whole complex interaction of abstract concepts, and conceive of Superman. Thus Superman is something that doesn’t exist substantially or materially, but exists as an abstract and wholly unique idea composed of the amalgamation of abstract word/signs. We can see then, that this capacity for abstraction is the beginning of all imagination, of all language, of all stories, in short, of knowledge. Compare an animal’s capacity for language by contrast, and you will find that the capacity for abstraction is non-existent. Animals cannot represent things, but can only direct their attention to things, which means that their attention can only be directed to things which exist substantially and materially. When I say “lion”, you do not suddenly jump with fright and look around you, cowering in a corner expecting some great beast to pounce on you (unless I pointed behind you and screamed “LION!”, but even then you’d be calm unless you were in a place where it were possible that there might be a lion, like in the Serengeti, or a local circus or zoo). But when a monkey says screeeeech, even if another monkey of the same species were sitting in a cage in a zoo, the monkey would respond the same way it does in the wild – in other words, it is responding to a stimulus, for there is no word/sign that separately signifies “owl”, “flight”, “behind”, “swoop” etc. There is only a sound which signifies immediate danger from air from which the monkey must take cover. So, when words are not abstracted, the subject and object distinction cannot occur, because the perceiving animal cannot abstract itself from what it is communicating. The monkey cannot conceive of that situation (airborne danger) happening without itself being in it, thus an animal “word” cannot have the binary properties of subject and object for there to emerge an abstract thing as sign. Without this capacity for abstraction through the creation of word/signs, any capacity for knowledge or any complex, synthetic thought becomes impossible.(19)

So why do word/signs exist? What makes a word/sign? How do we differentiate one word/sign from another? What criteria do we use to do this? In other words, what is the nature of the system of intersignification? We have already posited the formula for the positive existence of things (([a = x – a] and [– a = – x + a]). What makes a particular thing a that particular thing a? What makes a tree a tree? Naturally, a tree is that which everything else isn’t. But why is nothing else a tree? How would you describe it as a tree? By its properties, or qualities. A tree will be separated from other things by certain qualities that are also shared by other things, until those qualities narrow down all the other things that share those qualities and there is left a single unique thing which has a certain agglomeration of qualities that no other thing has, and thus distinguishes that thing from everything else, and thus, it is a “tree.” So when we are referring to a particular thing a, we are actually referring to its distinct qualities that make it a, and not not-a (– a). But if we delve further into the nature of a thing’s qualities, we find that everything is differentiated from every other thing starting from certain common properties that are shared by everything: namely, the thingness of things, that is, their existence (which is the nature of thing, just as the nature of existence is being thing). This is what we mean when we say [a = x – a] and [– a = – x + a]. This is what it means to say that “a thing is everything minus that thing”, because we are speaking in terms of properties or qualities of things, which all share the common property of thingness (existence). Therefore, everything that exists is necessarily defined, distinguished, known and spoken of in relation to every other thing, for if everything shares the same essential property of thing, then for a particular thing to “stand out”, it must do so by having some quality that every other thing does not have. As an example, a tree is an “organism”, a “plant” is “leafy”, has “branches”, has “roots”, is “autotrophic (photosynthesis)”. But so are bushes. It’s only the quality of having a “trunk” that then makes a thing a “tree.” Thus a “tree” becomes every leafy autotrophic plant organism with branches, roots, and a TRUNK. Any other every leafy autotrophic plant organism with branches and roots, that DOES NOT have a trunk, is thus not a tree. Thus, a tree equals everything without “tree”, i.e. everything that shares all the qualities that can be shared with a tree (all the way up to its thingness) except the one quality that distinguishes a tree from everything else. Therefore, if all things share the one common property of thing (from which they are then differentiated from each other by more and more specific categorizations until each thing becomes a unique thing, or a), any definition of a thing from there on must necessarily begin at the point of its being as thing, meaning that any definition of a thing – anything – can only be achieved relative to other things, and never independently of them. This is how things are “intersignified”, and thus language as the interrelation of word/signs emerges as a “system of intersignification.” It’s obvious then that there can be nothing except in relation to another thing, and we cannot know anything except as it relates to some other thing.(20)

When we think of negative things like God and Soul and their properties as being born of lack, does it not therefore seem contradictory to assert that something can have qualities that don’t exist? After all, if things can only be in relation to other things, then how can anything have the quality of something that isn’t? But this is merely a deception, for there is a big difference between “something that doesn’t exist”, and “no-thing.” That is, a “lack” is merely something not there. Therefore there has to be something that is not there. And this is why the very word “nothing” also exists, because it is merely the lack of something that must exist. So once more, we are not giving God and Soul properties that don’t exist, but anti-properties of ones that do exist. This is in line with the negative formula of existence. Therefore, God or Soul cannot have a property that is not a word/sign already, it is merely the anti-property of it. Thus: God is not-mortal, God is not-death, God is not-ignorance (our perceived ignorance of the meaning of life), etc… So too with the origin of the absurd word “nothing.” We can only think of things in terms of things, therefore we have no way of describing not-thing except as a negation of thing. Hence we’re left with the ridiculous contradiction of having to speak of there “being nothing”. So too with the property of negative things like God and Soul: they are not things that are not, they are merely anti-things-that-are. As we stated before, this also accounts for why positive properties of negative things cannot be known, only their negative properties as things (hence q(n) = Q + (– q(n)) rather than q(n) = Q – q(n)) and this therefore accounts for the necessary property of “Mystery” that must also be present as a quality of negative things like God and Soul, precisely because any positive qualities they may have cannot be known to us, because they are not empirically verifiable, thus “mysterious”. But we already discussed this in an earlier chapter.

And how do we perceive qualities of things? How do we aggregate some things into common categories and differentiate others in separate ones? What is the origin of the taxonomy of things in the system of intersignification? What makes us perceive that a tree is not a branch, or that a cat is not a fish? This may seem like a naïve question, but if we look under the surface of things, are not all things composed of the same 92 types of atoms? In fact, all living things have all 92 types of atoms present in varying (mostly trace) quantities. Also, the essential molecules of all living organisms are founded on the carbon atom. Furthermore, we observe that no living organism can live independently of another, since all living creatures exchange energy through others, by being eaten by them and eating them. So if this is the case, then how can we argue that all organisms are not merely one thing with just different manifestations? They are all composed of the same substances. They are all interdependent on each other for their survival. So why should it matter that one lives on land and another in water, or that one has legs and another has fins, or that one has lungs and another has gills? And if we extend this logic to all things, organic or inorganic, and keep in mind once more that they are all composed of the same atoms (…and, according to the Big Bang theory, were all once one primordial “thing”, as an ultra-dense plasma soup before even protons, neutrons, electrons, photons, or even quarks “existed” as separate things) it seems equally valid to
say that everything is, essentially, one thing. So why then are there many things and not one thing?

i. The quality (21) of things as word/signs: positive things

We have seen then that a thing necessarily exists as a word/sign, and is known to us as such. So too, a word/sign by definition becomes thing, and assumes its place in the system of intersignification and in accordance with either the positive or negative formula for the existence of things. Thus, nothing can exist outside the system of intersignification of word/signs, at least not as far as we can know. But what defines the many and their qualities?

The first quality of a thing is obviously its thingness – or its existence. A thing, as we explained earlier, “stands out” from other things, so that thing plus all other things equals everything, or [x = a + (x – a)]. Thus for a thing to exist – and thus for us to have a conception of many things, and indeed, everything – then the idea of All (as One) must be divided into individual things, thus losing the quality of Oneness (a single, indivisible entity) and gaining the quality of Everything instead (i.e. an agglomeration of divisible parts). But we will see that this concept of Oneness (a concept that has been seriously considered for millennia by Monistic philosophers, from Parmenides to Spinoza) is immediately shattered with the first word that man utters. For if, as we have stated (thanks to de Saussure), a word is a sign with a binary property of both signifying subject and signified object, then the mere act of observation, and furthermore the commodification of that observation as word/sign – and thus as thing – hereby divides the unity of the universe into (observing) subject and (observed) object(s). Thus, if “in the beginning there is the Word” (so to speak) then with the Word, there is nothing but a universe of words, and the inevitable loss of any possibility of there being a quality of Unity, Oneness and All. Therefore, it becomes obvious that if human beings have language (a system of intersignified word/signs), the supposed primordial unity of the universe becomes shattered and divided up into a mere agglomeration of things (Everything replacing All), starting with the division of the universe into perceiving subject (I or We) and observed objects (Things). In fact, with the first consciousness of self as conscious being (thus, with the first conception of Being on the part of man, before even being conscious of Existing as thing), man becomes aware of self, and thereby begins the first division of consciousness into I and Other (as in not-I). So even with the birth of consciousness, the Unity of the universe is shattered (it thus becomes a lack which is then filled in through negative things God and Soul in accordance with the overall negative formula for the existence of things which we outlined above).

Thus we see that with our first thoughts, and then through our first conception of words and the emergence of language, the thing is born from All and thus Unity gives way to division, All becomes merely Everything. As we stated in the previous chapter, the beginning of this division and the coming into existence of the first thing begins with first conception of I, of Self, of ego. So the first split is that between Self and Other(s), Subject and Object(s), after which further division follows this first, original division along basically the same rationale as the very first division (for once one is divided from all, subject divided from object, then everything becomes endlessly and infinitely divisible from there on). But we would be mistaken to assume that man is only first conscious of self and then of other things. The split occurs at the two emerge at the same moment, because as soon as consciousness comes into being, so does consciousness of difference, and thus occurs the first sense of alienation, otherness, estrangement. After this division has occurred, man maintains a difference in his conception of Being and Existence (a difference which we expounded earlier in the treatise), since the beginning of the division is always in the mind of the subject, and thus man can and does always think of self as independent Self (and thus simply as Being), and also of self as dependent Thing that “stands out” from other things and thus Exists. Such is the nature of consciousness – we perceive not just Self and Other but also Self as Self. This is demonstrated by the fact that you can think of yourself, which is strange, because you’re thinking about you who are thinking about you at the same time. In fact, it is quite possible due to this quality that you can think of yourself as two separate beings, one “thinking” (Self as Being in itself) and the other “thought of” (Self as Existing – as Being-in-the-World, or thing). Thus, with the birth of consciousness, everything comes into existence. With the birth of I is born Me and Everything. Hence, instead of “I think, therefore I am,” it is more correct to say “I think, therefore the World and I is.”

Now let’s look those things that come into existence with the birth of consciousness and thus the division of the universe into perceiving subject and perceived object. What is the nature of the object? How do we perceive objects as things? What are the qualities by which we categorize and differentiate them? How does a thing “stand out”? It’s through our conceptions of space-time that we observe things. Thus things must have this quality of being in a place and in a particular time for us to have a conception of them as existing. Furthermore, once we have conceived of things as inhabiting a particular place at a particular time, we also observe why or how they do through the conception of causes and effects, or causation, which is vital if we are to explain why things are as they are, order them, categorize them and thus facilitate knowledge through our own existence as Being-in-the-World.

a. Primary Quality

Space-time
First of all, you will have noticed that I refer to space-time as one quality with four dimensions, rather than being two distinctly perceptible qualities. It’s inconceivable that an empirically perceived object (that abides by the positive formula for the existence of things) could have an existence that is either only spatial or only temporal. These two qualities are perceived together, and are fundamental to our perception of the existence of a thing. Thus a thing must necessarily be defined as occupying a particular spatio-temporal locus. Everything must occupy a place and must have a past and a future for us to have any understanding of its existence. While it might seem that we can look at something and conceive of it in only three dimensions as length, breadth and depth, in fact a thing is never really a present but an infinite number of pasts and futures. We may not perceive this as so, for a thing may look the same now as it did 50 years ago or as it will 50 years later. But this is only due to the limited nature of our senses. Apply a closer inspection and, even if the changes seem little, they are nevertheless there. Scientific observation also shows this, for according to the second law thermodynamics, entropy increases over time. Thus, an object is never the same thing as it was at any given moment in the past, but a thing that is always in the process of change, no matter how seemingly slow or insignificant, or imperceptible to our senses. Change is how we perceive time, for without change, there would be no time. But change is a fundamental quality of a thing at all times in an infinite succession of presents and thus an infinite set of new futures and old pasts, no matter how minuscule the change. Now without a thing occupying a certain space, we could not perceive of change, because without being able to contrast the space a thing occupies with a previous place it occupied, we would have no conception of time. On the other hand, the qualities of length, breadth and depth that are perceived of a thing by an observing, signifying subject (i.e. us) can also not be possible with the act of perceiving (or signifying) taking place within a temporal perspective. Imagine, for instance, the first immediate split-second sight of a thing. You will not recognize it as anything at that exact instant. It takes another couple of split-seconds before your sensory organs transmit the data to your brain and your brain is able to compare this data with already existing data that constitutes your “knowledge in terms of what is familiar”, or in other words, your memory. Thus, without a temporal lapse the perceived object cannot be made familiar. You may argue that this temporal quality is only necessary for the observing, signifying subject and not a quality that is inherent in the observed, signified object. But how can we know this? For can anything exist without it being perceived to exist? Without the subject, there can be no knowledge of anything existing, it would be impossible to know. And hence this necessity of empirical verification which lies at the root of things as word/signs – which lies at the root of the binary quality of word/signs as subject/object, signifier/signified – this necessity means that things change even in the process of their being perceived as things, for the first thing you see becomes something else, something related to your memory (“knowledge in terms of what is familiar”), within a couple split-seconds, and thus changes through its perception. But on a simpler level, things actually also do necessitate three dimensional existence for the perception of the quality of time, for if a thing is not perceived as an object with length, breadth and depth, then change cannot be conceived either, for there would be nothing to compare one position in space with another. Such is the nature of things: they become, they change, they exist through being perceived, and nothing can exist except in terms of four dimensional space-time. Thus, space-time is one quality, and it forms the Primary Quality of (positive) things because it is the first quality that determines the nature of a thing, i.e. its existence, which is the essence of its thingness.

The question thus presents itself as to whether, then, space-time is a cognitive faculty that we are born with or whether it is something acquired through sensory experience – or a bit of both? Obviously this argument between empiricists and rationalists has already been exhausted, and the work of Berkeley, Hume and Kant in particular has dealt with the topic in great enough detail to forego any need to rehash the main points here. Kant believed that our ability to perceive things in terms of space and time are granted humans as a rational – that is, God-given – faculty which they are born with, citing that it is possible to perceive of these concepts independently without the need for any empirical knowledge, giving as an example the possibility of geometry in which spatial concepts can be represented on an abstract and purely intellectual level, without their being subject to any empirically observable facts “out there” in the world of things. However, he went further and stated also that things could not be known to exist purely on a rational level, and that one needed empirical data to be able know of the existence of things and thus make knowledge possible. But this debate as to the “rational” faculty of humans seems somewhat redundant now, because when Kant wrote, the only way philosophers could conceive of a faculty (of perceiving space-time) being inherent in the mind from birth, would be to assume that it must be God-given, for the only distinction that existed was that either man was a tabula rasa (or a “blank slate”) who learns everything after birth (as Hobbes, and then Berkeley and Hume thought) through empirical experience, or as having a rational capacity for knowledge that precedes his birth, and must thus have been God-given, as Descartes, to an extent Locke, and later Kant believed. Of course, Kant was credited as the first to bridge this dichotomy by stating that man in fact needed both the empirical and the rational capacity to make knowledge possible. This was a massive breakthrough since it was a reconciliation of two hitherto seemingly irreconcilable standpoints. But the issue was all the more important, because maintaining the rational viewpoint was basically tantamount to maintaining the existence of God, since if man was merely a blank slate, he could have no significant metaphysical attributes that could transmit any essential links from a supposed original Creator to each and every one of his creations. The “soul” would have no significance anymore, because it would have no ability to transmit knowledge or essence that could be shared between Man and God. The mind would also be fallible without any possible God-given (and thus perfect and infallible) faculties that would be beyond the reach of the relativistic nature of mere empirical knowledge and the world of forms (something until then – and often still today – considered an “imperfect” world, representing another major lack in existence). So one could see just how important it was to be able to maintain some sort of belief in rational cognitive faculties of the mind. But the things is, Kant and his contemporaries and predecessors lived before the time of Darwin, before the time of the emergence of the theory of evolution, and naturally well before we had acquired all the invaluable scientific knowledge we have today concerning genetics. This means that it is possible for hereditary characteristics to be passed down to new generations of species through DNA and for new characteristics to come into existence and be reproduced in accordance with the theory of “natural selection” and the possibility of the mutation of genes, without necessarily having to believe that God may or may not exist. Thus it becomes perfectly possible that we could be born with a capacity for “rational” (22) perception without necessarily having to believe in God. In other words, thanks to the work of people like Darwin or Mendel in the development of the theory of evolution and studies in genetics, we can conceive that organisms have evolved certain mental capacities for thinking in a certain way as they have adapted to their environment over millions of years, culminating in the evolution of the human mind. The fossil evidence also shows this, for if man was given a certain divine cognitive faculty, then the thought of him spending hundreds of thousands of years as little better than an ape becomes absurd. We now see through genetic evidence which is further corroborated by fossil findings that organisms have evolved into “higher” states of being, cognition and mental faculties.

Think, for example, that we have a conception of “space”. Things exist in a particular place. We perceive this, as we stated in the previous chapter, through our senses, but also, in a sense, “naturally” or “instinctually” because we assume before we see anything that it must exist, and thus, it must occupy a space. But surely this is not a faculty shared by a creature that has no sense of sight, smell, hearing, taste, only perhaps touch (such as microorganisms). For without the aforementioned capacity to experience and conceive of four dimensions (length, breadth, depth and time), any concept of space-time becomes irrelevant. Without eyes, how can depth, length or breadth be perceived? They cannot. Now if we assume that we ourselves (and indeed all organisms) are descendents of such microorganisms that were the first life-forms on earth (as we do today based on all scientific evidence which shows that all cells evolved from a single cell, and that all DNA has the same origin), then it becomes obvious that whatever “rational” capacity to distinguish those four dimensions of space-time have evolved over time, since no-one would argue that at some point as life became more and more complex God decided to intervene, wave his magic wand and say “Presto! You now have geometry!” And so while it seems we have a certain capacity we are born with encoded in our minds through the DNA of every single cell in our brain and our body that we are able to conceive of things in terms of space-time from which we can further gauge patterns of causality, it is by no means a divine, infallible, God-given property any longer, because just as it evolved and emerged through change, so it will probably continue to evolve and change, or at least has the capacity to, considering the nature of evolution and natural selection. So this cognitive “rational” faculty can no longer be said to be “rational” in the traditional sense of the term. We see, rather, that if it underwent a process of evolution as organisms did, then they are the result of the evolving organisms’ interactions with its environment, and thus they are abilities that are not independently “rational” or meaningful at all, but are in fact only so in relation to outside things, relative to sensory (and empirically verifiable) experience, and in fact indexed to it, for otherwise this ability to perceive space-time and causality would never have evolved. And so it is not in the traditional sense only that the “rational” aspect of our perception of space-time is defunct, but in any aspect whatsoever considering the meaning of the word “rational”.

Thus, we see that space-time form one inseparable quality, and that perception of this quality is partly congenital although dependent on empirical experience. But is it from our acquired, congenital, “rational” capacity to see space-time that we read into empirical experience, or is it vice-versa? I cannot see how the origin of this conception of the quality of space-time could have been in any way anything other than empirical. As we said in the previous chapter, the process of evolution and the development of the capacity to perceive things as having the quality of space-time must have happened after organisms began developing complex sensory organs with which their interaction with their environment became more and more complex until a capacity for intelligent perception of objects developed. Considering the nature of life as a cycle of constant interchanging of energy (through the cycle of one organism consuming another), more complex organisms developed the capacity to perceive and differentiate things as possibly dangerous to their well-being, thus learning to perceive position in space and also patterns of change in the perceived object of danger so as to escape it according to its inherent will-to-self-preservation. The same capacity for spatial and temporal perception would have developed for the opposite purpose too, for predators (of which we’re descended), seeking to spot, define, locate and perceive and predict the changes in this succession of positions for the sake of hunting its prey, and again, to satisfy its will-to-self-preservation. So although it seems quite natural to us, it’s actually an astounding amount of instinctual calculation of an infinite succession of change according to an inherent conception of a quality of space-time by which a cheetah pursues a gazelle, its whole body, mind, thoughts adjusting at split-second intervals to the slightest change in direction, pace and bearing of the gazelle. Now, it’s obvious that such a complex capacity cannot just be learned from birth, but is in fact a congenital property inherent in the brain which has been passed on through the accumulation of millions of years of evolution and natural selection until it has reached this point of complexity. Thus, although it is true that the cognitive ability to perceive the quality of things in terms of space-time is a capacity we are born with, it is obviously not God-given – for as we stated before, we evolved from organisms that were already on earth before they had any sensual apparatus, and since we descended from them, we picked up the ability to perceive space-time on the way. It is also obviously not learned empirically from birth in terms of individual organisms (although it is only realized and understood when empirically applied), but through a process of interaction of organisms with their environment and each other over millions of years until species that have such a refined capacity for perception of space-time have developed. But you will have figured that there is one more, distinctly crucial difference between an animal’s instinctive “knowledge” of space-time (even as complex a one as a cheetah’s) and a human. Just as we stated before, what differentiates the human is his capacity for abstraction, which is what defines language as a system of intersignificance composed of word/signs and which differentiates this from the stimulus-reaction that comprises animal communication. This property of course also extends to the quality of perceiving space-time. For man perceives space-time not only instinctually and immediately, but also as an abstract concept. Hence the possibility of geometry.

As we stated, an animal only perceives space-time instinctively in a way that is only relevant to its immediate interests and circumstances. In fact, it’s not even a perception, but a natural, unavoidable code ingrained in its brain, in its loins, in each and every cell of its body – i.e. in its will. Thus, seeing as the cheetah cannot abstract such qualities, it can only act and react to natural stimuli, for the sake of satisfying its need for survival by either hunting prey or escaping from other predators. The human, on the other hand, can not only perceive of things having the quality of space-time, but can abstract those qualities and apply them to situations where they can be applied as pure concepts, i.e. geometry. Although no circle or triangle or square or line or right angles (or any angles for that matter) really “exist” in nature as positive things, our perception of spatio-temporal qualities can be applied in such imaginary ways to indicate logically consistent principles and rules that hold without the need for empirical verification. It’s this ability that has made possible architecture, art, and all sorts of human artifacts. But is it possible to say that abstract applications and conceptions of spatio-temporal qualities could have been conjured without recourse to empirical experience of those qualities in the first place? How would one know a point without first conceiving it as being a particular place which an object can occupy (since we empirically perceive that objects do occupy spaces and places)? How can a line ever come into existence without first empirically perceiving that it is the shortest distance between two points (something which we apply and empirically perceive daily)? And what of the shortest distance between three points, assuming each point (as destination) must succeed a previous point (as departure) and only one previous point? Is that not the triangle? If you can draw a line between two points, surely drawing a line between three will give you the triangle, and four the square, and so on. Now let’s abstract those concepts from any empirical basis and think only in terms of a point with nothing else existing. If nothing else exists, how can a point occupy a place? In empirical terms, a place is that which is occupied by a thing a, and not occupied by everything else (x – a). Thus we can determine that “there is a tree”, “here is a lamppost”, “those are water lillies,” and so on. For a tree is a tree because it is not anything else although its properties are determined only in relation to other things (as we explained earlier), and at the same time, it occupies a place which it occupies because it doesn’t occupy any other place because any and every other place is occupied by everything else that is not that tree. Thus what and where can only be conceived relative to what it’s not and where it isn’t. But what place or space does a point occupy if there is nothing it does not occupy? How can we define what there is in terms of what there isn’t if there isn’t anything else? Thus, a point cannot exist in an abstract sense unless it is first made known to us through empirical knowledge, and once that knowledge is familiar to us and a thing is, then we can suspend reason (i.e. suspend the reasons why the thing is) and “cut around” the apparent thing, thus imagining only that which is left over: i.e. the point. But without the original empirical knowledge of the quality of things in space-time (and in accordance with our formula for the positive existence of things), the abstract thing would never be reached at. Therefore it becomes apparent to us that although we can conceive of the quality of space-time in an abstract sense, we can only do so if we have first achieved empirical knowledge of the quality of space-time as a quality of positive things.

The primary quality of things can also acquire a sub-quality of type, as we will see under secondary qualities, and particularly in relation to the secondary quality of multiplicity of things. This means that things not only exist occupying unique spatio-temporal loci, but according to necessary Human Bias, things can also occupy different types of spatio-temporal loci. We will see this as crucial especially when dealing with the qualities of differentiation, aggregations and in the abstract representation of relations between things vis-à-vis numerals and arithmetic. In other words, depending on our own subjective needs, we can conceive of things existing inside, outside, on, under, above, over, beneath, in the middle of, in and out, and so on. Naturally it’s a matter of indifference to anything other than humans if a man is in a car or out of it, but to humans these become crucial typifications. (See the second paragraph under “Multiplicity” in “Secondary Qaulities” below)

And so to sum up, space-time is one four-dimensional quality. It is a quality that is instinctually perceived by our cognitive faculties and passed down to us genetically from birth. It is the result of evolution and natural selection that it is so. It is not God-given. It is a quality that has evolved through the development of sensory organs and the capacity for empirical knowledge, although that capacity is passed down through the DNA of succeeding generations. Humans can have an abstract conception of space-time, but only if first they have a conception of it empirically in the world of positive things.

b. Secondary Qualities

Form
So now we know how we perceive things and we know the first quality of their nature, i.e. existence. But how is it that we differentiate, aggregate and recognize certain things from other things? This involves the Secondary Qualities, the qualities that are secondary to the primary quality of a thing’s existence (the quality of space-time). These include the qualities of form (differentiation), multiplicity (aggregation) and causality (recognition), of which the quality of form includes the sub-qualities of color, shape, size and proportion. We have demonstrated that things are an aggregation of their qualities, so that if [a = x – a] and [– a = – x + a] then [q(a) = Q – q(a)] and [– q(a) = – Q + q(a)]. This means that just as things are positive through negation (vis-à-vis all other things), so too qualities are defined positively through the same process of negation, whereby given quality of a thing q(a) is only posited as all qualities Q without q(a). To give an example, that something is “red” is meaningless in itself unless there were other colors which were not red. For in a world with only one color red, there would be no “red” or “color”, since these are only relative qualities. So too with shape, size and proportion. Large, wide, broad, narrow, thin, fat, high, low, long, short, all of these are definable only in terms of what they are not. Proportion is also just that, the form of one thing in direct comparison to that of another thing, and also the qualities of a thing vis-à-vis other qualities of the same thing (“Two sides of equal length are shorter than the other two sides of equal length of a parallelogram in which all angles are 90 degrees” = “rectangle”). And so, a definable thing (definable in the sense of being defined against other things, i.e. differentiated from all other things) has its own unique and idiosyncratic grouping of particular sub-qualities that make it what it is, and thus of course, what it is not (Thus you know “two” is not “three”, “side” is not “area”, “equal” is not “greater/lesser than”, “length” is not “breadth”, “short” is not “long”, “other” is not “same”, “parallelogram” is not “trapezoid quadrilateral”, “angle” is not “straight line”, and “90 degrees” is not “45 degrees” and thus = “rectangle” is not “triangle”, etc.). So when I say “A long red truck with a wailing siren and a ladder driven by men in helmets” you can immediately surmise that I’m talking about a fire-truck without even my having to tell you the exact thing I’m talking about. By outlining the qualities of the thing (which we immediately recognize and comprehend as what they are not), we can define it exactly, even though for many things the differences in qualities and sub-qualities are so small that the definition of its formal aspect would have to be very detailed (like defining the difference between a gazelle and an antelope, or even that between a washing machine and a dryer, since, from an immediate empirical perspective, they will most likely have the same formal qualities, but only on closer observation, or with more detailed knowledge and experience, would we be able to tell them apart). Thus every positive thing that is recognized by us has certain formal qualities by which it is so, and thus we know it is not any other thing, but only what it is.

As we stated in footnote 21, a quality is not a property: “I have decided to use the term ‘quality’ rather than ‘property’ of things because the latter gives the impression that a thing possesses certain attributes in itself which we merely observe objectively, which (as we have seen in the nature of things as word/signs) is mistaken, because these attributes of things we are about to outline represent instead the subject/object, signifier/signified binary nature of things as word/signs. A thing does not ‘possess’ color, multiplicity, spatio-temporal loci, etc. WE perceive a thing as having these attributes, and thus these attributes are born from the interaction of subject and object together in the act of knowing and perceiving, rather than being properties of things that are merely revealed to us.” This is significant to keep in mind, because it means that things are not differentiated from each other by the properties they possess, but according to the qualities we perceive that they possess. Otherwise how would we know where to begin differentiating things and where to end? Why are all the possible, infinite spaces and “parts” that make up a wall all considered the same thing, i.e. wall? Why is a hill considered one thing, even though it consists of infinitesimal parts, each of which is at least partly unique from the other parts, and even when each and every hill on earth is to some extent different from each and every other hill in terms of its constitution? And where do we end dividing, differentiating, analyzing? It’s impossible if we think in terms of things having properties in themselves, and even if they do, we certainly don’t have the capacity to see it without leading ourselves into an infinite labyrinth of smaller and smaller divisions and greater and greater aggregations, so that One and Many become confused beyond the point of us ever being able to perceive a world that could in any way be intelligible to us. Thus we can see that the process of differentiation is just as determined on a subjective level as it is on an objective one, and in fact in the interaction of both in the coming into being of the binary word/sign. As we stated before, it may be all meaningless to attribute manifold beings and things to nature when everything is composed of essentially the same substances and dependent on each other for their inter-survival and interdependence, so that, as far as “nature” is concerned, there is only one thing – life – and that any division of one into many is illusory. But we do divide the hypothetical One (23) into Many, and transform All into an aggregation of all things instead, hence Everything. Why is a hand and an arm or a foot and a leg different things, if one without the other is impossible and useless? Could the human body be divided into different things, or is it one thing? We have divvied it up, but another being doesn’t necessarily see a frog as having “long legs” and “webbed feet” etc., it just recognizes a jumping green thing as a whole and it instinctively is required to “catch… eat”. So do we, but unlike animals, we differentiate one jumping green thing from another, and thus can recognize a frog from, say, a grasshopper for those various specific qualities that other animals may not be able to differentiate so readily. Thus we know from more detailed qualities by which we differentiate them that (due to webbed feet) a frog will swim away, that it is fleshy compared to a grasshopper, etc. So what is it that causes us to differentiate along formal lines? In line with necessary Human Bias, we perceive things and divide them according to our own interests from doing so, as do all other animals, and the process probably began, and continues, so as to satisfy our survival instinct (although since we have achieved a level of intelligence and perception of things in the world whereby we have largely been able to guarantee an almost permanent sense of security from at least the most basic, elemental dangers, differentiation has evolved from merely guaranteeing survival, to eventually facilitating convenience and happiness and greater well-being than lesser). It is in our interests to know the difference between certain animals because of the experience we have of some of them having different qualities than others which can give harm to us if left ignored or not taken as a factor in determining the difference of some animals than others. As we saw earlier, even monkeys differentiated airborne dangers from terrestrial ones, because those were the types that were most dangerous to them, and which probably necessitate different escape strategies so as to elude them successfully. They do not however distinguish (as far as we know) an owl from an eagle, etc., or a snake from a scorpion, as it’s probably enough for them to know that there’s just “danger” so as to know to either run up a tree (in the case of terrestrial danger) or into a whole (in the case of an airborne one). So too with humans, but with the development of intelligence, our needs and forms of differentiation as a result have become that much more complex. So for our hunting purposes and the purposes of avoiding danger, we probably began (as a species) to differentiate geographical and zoological anomalies (as these would have been the most immediate sources of both potential well-being and danger). Why would a tree be considered anything different from grass or bushes? Why pick out the formal qualities of these things and differentiate them? Because the trees may have afforded shelter and protection in a way bushes couldn’t, because the trunks afforded sturdy material (wood) for making weapons to hunt or for making tools, or even independent, synthetic shelters, or even a raft on which to float. But Human Bias does not only manifest itself merely pre-consciously (for we are conscious that we differentiate a hand from an arm, say, but we found them differentiated before we ever consciously thought about it because the difference is already a part of the language we learn), but also manifests itself biologically. For example, it’s due to the nature of our eyes and how they perceive light waves that we perceive color at all, and even then we cannot perceive ultraviolet (as bees can) or infrared light (as some snakes can). It is due to our two eyes – and furthermore, of our two eyes looking ahead, as with all predators, rather than being on either side of the head – that we can perceive depth as a third dimension, which is obviously crucial for hunting and also noticing danger and a million other practical purposes from there on. Thus we have an intrinsically, biologically determined difference in the way we perceive the world than other animals do, or other beings hypothetically might. So to sum up, our differentiation of things along formal lines is wholly in keeping with necessary Human Bias, and evolves not just in accordance with the “properties that things possess”, but rather the “qualities” that they are perceived to possess by us. Hence, the negative definition of (the qualities of) positive things. Now let’s look at the obverse process of aggregation through the quality of multiplicity.

Multiplicity
This quality brings up one of the most peculiar aspects of things as word/signs: The fact that many of the same thing exists and is differentiated from not only many of another thing, but also many other different things. In other words, this deals with the quality of things as numbers represented by numerals, and to the process of aggregation by which more than one of a particular thing can exist and be categorized as the same thing. In other words, if the given form of a thing differentiates it from another thing, the quality of multiplicity means that a thing is aggregated with other things as being the same thing. Thus, due to this quality of things, we perceive that more than one of the same thing can exist, even though they occupy different spatio-temporal loci in terms of their primary qualities. The quality of multiplicity is thus obviously bound to formal aspects of things. This may seem obvious, but consider for a moment whether two walls are the same thing because they share the same formal and causal qualities. They occupy different spatio-temporal loci; they are composed of different atoms; and if looked close enough, it will be obvious that they are not even formally exactly identical, and thus they are “different” things in themselves. But both share the same word/sign as “wall” and for all our intents and purposes, that word serves fine, because as far as we’re concerned, for us they have the same relevance and use-value. In other words, although they are, in themselves, different, they share a “type.” They are found in different places, but the same type of places (buildings, enclosures, etc.); they have the same type of formal features (three-dimensional, hard, perpendicular, flat on either surface, etc.); they have the same use-value and causal logic (to keep things in and other things out, to hold up a ceiling, etc…). Thus, multiplicity becomes a matter of aggregating things together through the creation of “types” for the sake of facilitating knowledge and language for humans, even though in essence and in themselves, every thing is really a unique thing composed of matter that does not take part in the constitution of any other thing in any other locus. In other words, as with formal differentiation, the aggregation of things and their inherent potential for multiplicity, is also formed along the lines of necessary Human Bias in accordance with the binary nature of word/signs. For imagine if you had to describe each wall separately every time you referred one. Therefore, our aggregation of things into types depends on the context of our application of a use-value to them. This also means that we change our definition of types and criteria of aggregation according to the situation. For example, if you needed to round stray dogs off the street, all you need to be looking for are dogs, basically a type of animal, but if you wanted to breed dogs you would not even use the word “dog”, you would refer to types of dogs, in terms of breeds (Labrador, Cocker Spaniel, Jack Russel, etc.). Type then is the term by which we refer to the “possibility of the multiplicity of a thing”.(24) As with differentiation, so too aggregation is a subjective pursuit relative to human perspective in line with necessary Human Bias.

It will be considered amiss if we did not talk about the nature of numbers here, seeing as they are the ideal representations of the quality of multiplicity of things, and as ideal representations, they have the quality of abstraction like other word/signs (much like we saw the primary quality of space-time could be represented in abstract geometrical relations). But just like we saw with geometry, numbers too must first be grounded in empirical experience for their evolution to take place into abstraction, and thus cannot be considered to be of a “rational” origin. For as we saw, the criteria according to which the process of formal differentiation and aggregation occur are determined in a binary relationship involving subjective signifier and objective signified, and thus it has a subjective nature founded on necessary Human Bias. And since numbers are abstract ideal representations of things as word/signs, they too are determined along subjective lines. This is because a “number of things” (or a multiplicity of them) cannot be determined unless first that thing is determined as a type of thing, and thus more than one essential or substantial thing occupying a unique spatio-temporal locus can thus be aggregated with others that are determined according to necessary Human Bias as being of the same type. As the saying goes, “you can’t add apples and oranges.” Why is this true? Surely a person can have an apple and an orange in his possession, but how can he say he has “two” (an apple and an orange) if he has no higher type than “apple” and “orange” to aggregate them and hence represent their multiplicity? Thus he can say “I have two things.” But this typification becomes too general, and if he’s going to typify them as “things” why not also aggregate his watch, his shirt and his pants into the equation? Therefore he aims in between the typification of one word/sign (“thing”) and another (“apple”) or (“orange”) by finding the type that unites all the qualities shared by “apples” and “oranges” and typifies them as “fruit” and so therefore he has “two pieces of fruit” which is now perfectly identifiable for him and for us in our system of intersignification so that it is now universally understood. To give another example, 2 + 2 = 4. This means that two things added on to two other things equals four things. As we know, for a thing to have multiplicity, it must take on the added significance of being a type (and thus having the possibility of being multiplied). Thus “two men plus two other men equals four men.” They are all of the same type: man, and there are four of them. But why are they added together to have four of them? Are they not “four men” as it is, regardless of where they are or what they do? Indeed they are, so then why do we add them, and furthermore, why is this strange process of “addition” somehow normal to us as an abstract concept? What aggregates two men into two separate groups and what differentiates four men into two groups of two? The answer lies in their qualities, which are subjectively determined by us. But what qualities? If they are all of the same type, they have all been determined by us as having the same secondary qualities of form, multiplicity and causality (which we’ll delve into next). So then naturally they all also share the same primary quality of existence, and thus each have a spatio-temporal locus they occupy at any given moment (although never the same locus, obviously). But what differentiates these four men then is not their primary quality per se, for they all exist and occupy a particular unique locus in space-time, but it must be then a sub-quality of this primary quality, i.e. they must occupy different types of loci. Therefore, when these two groups of two become one group of four, they must occupy one type of locus, even though they continue to occupy different individual loci in themselves. For example, if two men are outside a house and two are inside a house, therein lies the type of spatio-temporal locus that differentiates the two groups of men. Thus is makes sense to us to say “There are two men outside and two inside. If the ones outside come inside (or vice versa) then there will be four men inside (or vice versa).” We see then that for simple abstract arithmetical representations to function, it must hold that things have not only secondary typical qualities by which they can be aggregated and differentiated, but must also necessarily have primary typical qualities. For example, let’s say they only had the former (secondary typical quality), so that two men are inside a house and two chickens outside a house. For 2 + 2 = 4 to work, then one type must occupy the same type of space-time as the other type, and their collective type must then be shifted to another higher (more general) type to accommodate and justify the quality of all together as equaling one type which can be divisible by 4. In other words, you cannot add two chickens to two men, even if they were all inside or outside. You have to shift the secondary type to something that can accommodate both types, and thus aggregate them under the type “living things” or a little lower, as “vertebrates.” And so now, when the secondary typical quality and the primary typical quality (them all being inside or outside) have been adjusted, and only then, can 2 + 2 = 4. We see then that for the possibility of there being any abstract numerical representations – and for the possibility of arithmetical equations between these representations – to occur, these must be founded on necessarily subjective Human Bias which is the only way we can aggregate and differentiate things by typifying them through both their primary and secondary qualities, which (as we demonstrated earlier) can be according to criteria that is only logically consistent in human terms (due to the binary nature of things as word/signs). So, in an abstract sense, 2 + 2 = 4, but we can only know this from our own empirical experience of the world as we have created it and as we see it, according to necessary Human Bias. And so, we would not know 2 + 2 = 4 except through the system of intersignification of word/signs by which we create, order and make sense of the world.

Causality
The quality of causality, which is the perception of cause and effect, determines our recognition of things and cannot be achieved independently of the other secondary qualities of form and multiplicity. Therefore, perception of form, multiplicity and causality are all synchronous and spontaneous, all three actually making up a common quality of “knowing” which also conveys the “reason” of things. For to know something, it must immediately be perceived as thing (primary quality), and in a couple split-seconds, as a particular thing, and for this “knowledge” to occur it must be identified as what it is not (differentiated), as what it is a part of (aggregated), and as being familiar in terms of its occupying that particular spatio-temporal locus at the moment of perception – in other words, its being “reasonable” (recognized). For us to recognize a thing as a particular thing, it must be the effect of a verifiable cause or series of causes – in other words, it must appear to be reasonable, or normal. This quality of things is obviously of greater importance in dealing with more complex interactions of word/signs – especially in terms of comprehending events and actions, as we will see later on – however, it still holds also for particular things. Causality, as we have stated, complements and rounds out the secondary qualities of things. But to be conscious of a “cause” inherent in the nature of a thing doesn’t really mean anything as technical as going into the history of a thing, which can only be known as a tertiary quality anyway. It means rather that the formal qualities of a particular thing are in keeping with the nature of that thing as we have come to expect it through empirical experience, so that any quality not in keeping with those “normal” qualities would give an unfamiliar, strange and thus unrecognizable quality to a thing instead. Thus, without a causal basis, the formal process of differentiation and aggregation could not be successfully achieved. For example, in perceiving a tree we recognize its formal qualities that immediately differentiate it from all other things as a tree, while at the same time aggregating it into a “type” of thing as word/sign “tree” and therefore every tree becomes one of many trees. What more do we need to identify and recognize a thing? Its primary and secondary qualities seem satisfied enough for the recognition of the tree. But let’s say you saw a tree growing on top of the roof of a car with its roots reaching down into the passenger compartment that happens to be filled with soil? This would cause surprise, even though you recognize “tree” and “car”, the two together seems surprising and ridiculous because you have no former stock of experience to draw on whereby this synthesis of things is normal. In other words, the causal connection that has led to you seeing this thing is unknown to you, therefore, you are having trouble relating to the thing. You are not content to let it be that what you see is a “tree”, you want to know how it got there, why it’s there, what the cause of its state is, because the cause is not immediately recognizable to you since you have no experiential frame of reference you can draw on from memory. Is it a joke? Is it art? Did the tree grow out of it or was the whole thing planted into a car? It bothers you. You’re used to seeing trees in parks or meadows or on the banks of a lake, not in a car. Therefore we see that the causal aspect of things is also crucial to our recognition of them as things, and the causal connection is always representative of a relation of intersignification between more than one thing such as tree/park/soil/fields or car/road/tire/driver, etc. When there is an anomaly (which is what we call things in which the causal quality is absent to our understanding), the thing we observe becomes problematic, regardless of the fact that we may recognize things formally. Thus, causality is the quality that provides the right mise-en-scene or setting for a thing in relation to other things whereby we become accustomed to these combinations so that we can more easily relate to the world around us. This means that we don’t have to be perplexed and troubled when we see a lion in the middle of the city, because we recognize that lion/cage/zoo are a recognizable causal quality that accompany that of thing “lion.” On the other hand, just as the causal quality is crucial for our recognition of things, the absence of a causal quality (or a playing around with accepted and “normal” qualities that we “know” accompany things) forms the basis of art where the aim is to put recognizable things in unrecognizable causal connections thereby providing a sensory entertainment experience that stimulates the mind since it has to work harder to recognize the individual things without their necessary causal connections, while also trying to familiarize itself with the new, unknown, never before seen (often random) causal interaction of those things. This is what we actually see when we look at people looking at art, standing there quietly, staring at the work of art trying to coordinate and steer their understanding around what they are experiencing for the first time, trying to relate it to that which they know, thereby trying to find a “meaning” in it, which basically means finding a “reason” for its being, which can only be achieved by reestablishing a causal quality that is found to be lacking in the work of art in the first place (which is what defines it as a work of art). That is what we do when we look at art: we try and fill in the perceived lack of a causal quality.

Does this mean that things are the result of objectively verifiable processes of cause and effect that are only to be perceived by us for us to understand how the world works, or is the perception of this process of “cause and effect” merely our own way of making sense of things and understanding the world? It’s certainly the latter, because although things may seems reasonable to us, they are not necessarily reasonable in themselves, because, even if they might be, there is no way for us to know if they are or aren’t, due to necessary Human Bias that we discussed earlier. In other words, if we can never perceive things from anything other than a subjective perspective (since we are always a part of the world we observe, and thus have an inevitable effect on – and are inevitably effected by – that which we observe). To use an example, we can explain the existence of a hammer. Obviously, when we see a hammer we are not surprised because we know it is the product of human ingenuity, that it serves a particular purpose, that it utilizes certain physical properties for the proper serving out of its function, etc. We know that with our intelligence and our own hands and fingers and opposable thumbs, we were able to make a tool this refined, this effective, this ingenious. The hammer is the effect of such causes. But how can we answer the question of whether we have fingers and opposable thumbs because we are intelligent, or intelligent because we have fingers and opposable thumbs? Naturally, it seems obvious to us that both qualities of our physical and evolutionary change developed together, but when we think in terms of cause and effect the question becomes unanswerable except from some other more “holistic” perspective. So too, did we invent the hammer to do certain things, or did certain things necessitate our invention of the hammer for our being able to do them? And yet, none of these questions, which are impossible to answer in terms of “cause and effect”, even begin to figure in our heads when we see a hammer. We immediately recognize it, know why it’s there, know what it’s for, why it was invented, what it does, and how it does it. It is a hammer, and there is no problem on the surface. This is precisely what the quality of causality is: it is superficial. It facilitates our perception and understanding of things, but it is grounded on necessary Human Bias, because when we delve even just a little into the nature of things, we find that no causal explanation can really satisfy us with an answer, that the nature of things is a complete mystery to us without our even having to go too deep. We encountered trouble just with a “hammer”, but the problem obviously becomes even greater when dealing with negative things, and especially God and the problem of original cause, which we will look at later. Here’s another question: Are you reading this because you have time on your hands, or do you have time on your hands so you can read this?

c. Tertiary Qualities

Substance
Naturally, density, weight and volume are of course important qualities of things. After all, it is a thing’s being as mass that determines its having a primary quality at all in terms of occupying a spatio-temporal locus. But since we are looking at things as word/signs, we are first concerned with those qualities that make a thing immediately apparent to us, and thus identifiable as a thing, defining it as a word/sign that is both recognized, differentiated and aggregated with other things (its secondary qualities). That’s why I have made the properties of substance (density, weight, volume) and signification Tertiary Properties behind those of form, multiplicity and causality. We will, for example, know a rock is a rock from its appearance in terms of its spatio-temporal locus (primary quality) and in terms of form/multiplicity/recognition (secondary qualities), and only then as substance (tertiary quality), because we don’t need to pick a rock up (and thus gain a sense of its weight) to know it’s a rock, we need only perceive its space-time, formal/multiplicity/recognition qualities to perceive a thing, to know that that thing is a rock, that that rock is one of many rocks, and that that thing must be a rock. The substantial qualities of things are thus more important from a functional perspective rather than an epistemological one (which we are focusing on here). In other words, substantial properties are only important when things gain a direct utilitarian importance in relation to the signifying agent’s (the human’s) necessities, which means they gain this tertiary quality as a relative value – i.e. the value we give it based on the value we see in it. Thus, weight, density and volume will be crucial in terms of determining the use-value of things like iron or wood for human needs (i.e. building other things), or other things like cars (i.e. for determining if the weight/potential-speed ratio is safe for use by humans, etc.). A thing can also have other substantial qualities too, of course, such as whether it is organic (composed of cells) or not, what sort of matter it’s composed of, etc., but these are also only of later importance (i.e. once a thing is already word/sign in active intersignificance within the system of intersignification – that is, when it’s already “particular thing a” through determination of its primary and secondary qualities). Thus, substance gains importance later on when relating certain things to other things in terms of their significance, and always as a relative value (a value only given by humans relating to their needs).

Significance
Just as the quality of form of a thing is closely related to its quality of multiplicity, so too the quality of significance is closely related to the quality of substance. However, the significance of a thing doesn’t just include its use-value or its utilitarian properties and potential – in other words, its purely objective value in general. It also includes a subjective value to particular individuals, which may or may not be shared by more than one individual, but which nevertheless pertain to each individual at a personal level. The way in which things acquire significance is a difficult matter to determine fully, seeing as it’s a psychological phenomenon unique to each person, and therefore almost impossible to account for in full. Only each individual person can look into their own psyche, interpret the meaning of their dreams and explore the furthest regions of their minds to find out what things mean to him and why they have any meaning or significance at all. However, it is possible to pick out certain general truths regarding the quality of significance. Most will agree, for example, that first impressions can be crucial. Seeing a dodge’em car at a lunapark, for example, may flood a grown man with memories of when he first went to a lunapark with his father when he was a boy, thereby instilling a profuse feeling of nostalgia and longing for a romantic time of youthful innocence that he perceives to have long since lost in his stressful work life and day-to-day worries. Thus a dodge’em car for him has a significance beyond what it is, but in fact its significance is very much a part of what it is as far as he’s concerned, to the point that he may seek to see one for the sake of the feelings he enjoys from seeing it, and maybe take his own son to ride them. Another man, however, may see the same thing and remember a time he felt humiliated on one when another kid bullied and taunted him until all the other children there laughed openly at him, and he wanted to leave as fast as he could, never to see another dodge’em car ever again so as not to relive that humiliating experience. We can appreciate that other things have similar significance, be they songs, places, trinkets. A souvenir, for example, is a thing that can have meaning only in the sense of the semiotic significance it has been given by its possessor, since it is has become more than a thing, or even a word/sign, but has acquired the quality of “symbol” that goes beyond its use-value or substance, and is even oblivious of its secondary qualities. Instead, as a symbol, a matchbox car becomes the symbol of a moment in time that is indexed to a certain memory of something that made the person feel good, and thus the thing as symbol vicariously takes upon itself the signification of this particular memory, becoming a kind of “significance conduit” and therefore having a value way beyond its substance. In this sense, a key-chain or a matchbox car may be more valuable to a person than gold or money, and this lies in its quality of significance which is, as we have demonstrated, often completely random and always completely subjectively attributed to the thing.

Dreams are the ideal representations of the significance of things that we present to our consciousness from the depths of our unconscious mind. The meaning of dreams lies in a unique binary interaction of a thing with our feelings, the interaction of the two creating a sense of significance that attaches an emotional and “spiritual” quality to things as they relate to the perceiving subject, and which are then repackaged and re-presented unconsciously by the subject to his conscious state. Without the symbolic and significant quality of words, dreams would be unnecessary and meaningless. And yet we unconsciously bring them up for this purpose. We find our fears represented by things that we are familiar with, interacting with other things that we are familiar with but in ways that we are unfamiliar with, for the sake of representing certain things that have gained emotional significance for us. Thus the dream of running from a nameless, faceless, formless thing in a great house, alone, trying to run but never being able to get rid of this thing. The symbolic significance of an big empty house is apparent to us from the feeling of unease it arouses from our experience of such a thing. When accompanied by the loneliness of the situation, which also gives us unease in a big empty house (where we may imagine there are unknown, hidden things, maybe even ghosts?), then the significance of the dream becomes apparent as it relates to certain troubles we may be having in our lives at the time: i.e. trouble at work, a big responsibility that is causing us undue stress which we are trying to evade through procrastination, a general sense of dissatisfaction with life and a feeling that it’s wasting by the day, etc. Thus we see that things with a particular significance that has been acquired through the binary interaction of thing and feeling have been mixed and matched into random images that symbolize feelings that are similar to those aroused by the dream symbols. So too, dreaming yourself naked in public may perfectly symbolize your fear of being socially outcast and unpopular, since “you naked” and “social setting” both have the necessary binary interaction of things and feeling to perfectly symbolize and signify a similar feeling of fear of public humiliation, fear of unpopularity, etc. Thus we see that things have an additional, personal significance as a tertiary quality and it’s based on the association of a particular thing with the feelings we have at that time that we experience them and which then become identified with that thing, assuming a binary property of significance.

You may object that some things are indeed significant, but surely not everything… Surely a simple donut we buy at a shop doesn’t have a significance? But it does, even a donut has a certain significance born of the anticipation of the taste it will give that arouses a feeling of pleasure in us, as does the anticipation of its texture and its form, so that the thing itself has become inseparable from the feelings it arouses in us. That may seem like an obvious example, because things that appeal to a particular (or a few particular) sensations are naturally significant, but so is everything, if only on a more subtle and almost imperceptible level. Everything we “know”, everything which has become “thing” as a word/sign in the system of intersignification has become so because it has a particular significance for us. For there is also a common significance of word/signs, so that some things represent and symbolize certain things generally. This symbolization or signification is grounded in common culture and language. For example, snakes signify fear of the unknown, perhaps, both because of their unique qualities (as particular thing a), but also because of qualities that are mass-produced through popular culture so that they acquire a significance outside our own personal (primary) experiences, and instead (or as well as) from secondary sources. In other words, they acquire secondary significance on top of the primary significance which is achieved through personal experience, often overriding the primary experience, or sometimes even taking the place of it. But regardless of the origin of a thing’s significance, it always takes on primary – that is, personally significant – qualities. I may have never seen a snake, but from its depiction in culture, media, film, art, entertainment as semiotic sign I will have attained a significance of it as it relates to me and my thoughts personally, just as I would have if my first experience of seeing a snake were one of me coming across a real live on in a field somewhere. In any case, “snake” as thing word/sign will have significance for me regardless of how it is acquired, just as everything else will as well. When we look at anything we will find that it has some sort of significance such as this: tree = nature, ruler = order, quill = fine literature, pencil = learning, pen = business, sword = death, sand = holiday, sun = life, father = authority, mother = security, hair = naturalness, muscles = masculinity/action, bed = comfort, placemat = eating, light = knowledge, dark = ignorance/fear, shoe = travel, and so on, although each and every thing may also have additional personal significance beyond the more obvious and generally accepted ones. Needless to say, with the quality of significance of things, metaphors would not exist, nor would poetry, or indeed any fine artistic pursuit whatsoever.

ii. The quality of things as word/signs: transubstantiality

Transubstantials are word/signs that represent complex interactions and relationships between things. In other words, they represent complex intersignifications. There are three types of transubstantials:

a. Simple Transubstantials – Generally speaking, these serve simple syntactical functions as prepositions or articles and mostly indicate positions of things vis-à-vis other things. Examples: in, on, through, above, under, below, a, the, of, with, against, etc.
b. Complex Transubstantials – These indicate actions undertaken by or between independent agents, and also feelings and emotions. Examples: work, walk, ride, kill, give, take, underestimate, exaggerate, fly, try, win, concede, loving, being happy, being sad, etc.
c. Ideal-Complex Transubstantials – These are the most interesting ones for our particular study, and they include such things as virtues and vices, and generally suggest ideal states of being. Examples: Freedom, Grace, Beauty, Good, Liberty, Justice, Independence, Fortitude, Love, Happiness, Sorrow, etc. Logic has a slightly different characteristic among these, as we will see in chapter 6.

I call these “transubstantial” because they not only transcend substance themselves, but also because they are word/signs that connect substances (things) in representing a type of generally observed interaction between them and “above” them. Thus, naturally, they are not “things” as such, because they lack the primary quality of being in space-time which qualifies positive things. Transubstantial word/signs are, rather, ideal representations of generally observed qualities and interactions between things which are categorized under one or other of these ideal representations. However, the first quality of transubstantial representations is their being word/signs, even though they are not things as such. Therefore, they have the quality of abstraction which is the first determinant of a word/sign. In other words, I do not have to see a slave being let out of his shackles or a prisoner being let out of prison to understand the word “freedom.” When I see the word/sign “freedom”, I understand it in an abstract sense, because it is a word/sign. Nor do I need to see a man and a woman holding hands and kissing to conceive of “love” or see an old man get robbed by a hoodlum to conceive of the word “crime.” Nevertheless, if we go back to what constitutes a word/sign, we will see that it carries the binary property of signifying subject plus signified object. In other words, a word/sign cannot exist without the second, objective property inherent in word/signs.(25) Therefore transubstantials must have an original founding and basis in empirical experience. As a child we come to associate certain physical acts with a generally broad concept we come to learn as being “love.” We thus understand that two people being physical with each other with certain types of actions, facial expressions and use of certain types of words are expressing “love” whereas others doing it with different types of actions, facial expressions and types of words are expressing “hate”. It’s only after we have witnessed enough of these types of things interacting according to one ideal representation or another that we come to “know” the transubstantials themselves and understand them as abstract terms independently of empirical evidence. However, even though we (as adults) will immediately recognize a transubstantial, it can still never be anything in itself but only a representation of the interaction of two or more things according to generally occurring rules – or an “event”. Thus you will understand when I say “conflagration”, but you can only define it in terms of something (a chair) engulfed (another transubstantial) by flames (which is something else). “Engulfed” in turn makes sense, but when asked to define it, it becomes something swallowed up by another thing. “Swallow” relates to the action of one thing (food, spit, water) going down another thing (throat) by way of an oral orifice (mouth). “Going down” relates a direction of a thing going downward according to the rule of gravity. “Going” means the displacement of a thing from one spatio-temporal locus to another. “Displacement” means change in spatio-temporal loci of things. “Change” means phenomenon. “Phenomenon” means knowledge. And knowledge? “Knowledge” means that I can say “conflagration” and you will understand what I mean.

Typification
We see then that, whereas things are grouped into types according to their inherent quality of multiplicity for the sake of easing the founding of knowledge and the functioning of language and describing the world, transubstantials too are types, but instead of being types of things, they are types of “phenomena” or events which involve the interaction of types of things. I say “types” of things because we cannot generalize a relation of things under a universally and abstractly recognizable transubstantial word/sign unless that which was described was something that happened “typically” between things that are “typical.” For example, take a thing that did not have the quality of multiplicity, and was therefore untypifiable and untypical. In other words, it’s a one and only unique thing in the universe with formal qualities that only it possesses. How will we know that every time it does something or something happens to it that only can happen to it due to its unique qualities, that that thing can be represented as an abstract transubstantial that can represent all such interactions if there is only one thing in the universe that this unique occurrence or thing can happen to? If a zoorak has a snurk, and the zoorak often rubs his snurk into the dirt while making a strange noise, what do you call this? Is it “pleasure”, “satisfaction”, “annoyance”? If there are no other zooraks, how would we know? Perhaps you can observe the zoorak and determine what rubbing his snurk in the dirt means from his reaction, but remember that his reactions and facial expressions are totally unique and without there being other things that can be typed and classified as zoorak, there can be no comparison of similarities that can themselves then be aggregated into generalized types of phenomena to be given transubstantial representations. Thus, typification is the key to transubstantiation, for it involves types of events occurring when types of things interact in generally consistent ways with certain types of other things. But how do we define “generally consistent”?

Causality
This brings us to the second fundamental quality of transubstantials: causality. As we mentioned before, everything must have a certain causal basis for it to be recognizable to us. This is doubly so when dealing with the interaction of things, for the only way to determine that [a + b = c] is to determine first of all that [all a + all b = all c], or in other words, [A + B = C] (where the majuscules represent “all” of the particular variable). Thus, house + fire = conflagration, but for us to understand the meaning of “conflagration” as a transubstantial in an abstract sense it must hold that HOUSE (all “house”) + FIRE (all “fire”) = CONFLAGRATION. Thus, every transubstantial represents the generally observed effect of generally observed causes. E.g: MAN + WOMAN + CARESSING = AFFECTION. Here we immediately assume, when we hear the word “affection”, that a certain generally recognizable type of action is being performed by two or more types of beings with the general effect of a type of phenomenon occurring that can generally be classified as “affection.”

Relative significance
We see the way that defining generally observable phenomena can help us order and understand the world and facilitate knowledge. But what are the criteria by which we define certain phenomena as transubstantial word/signs? What significance do we attach to things? It’s obvious that certain of the simpler, more straightforward transubstantials carry an obvious function and significance that needs little picking apart. Delivery, attention, give, take, accept, thank, gratify, come, go, strong, weak, and the like, but what of the more complex transubstantials? What of freedom, liberty, brotherhood, love, jealousy, hatred, friendship, oppression, truth, justice, etc.? When using these transubstantials, are we defining an objectively verifiable phenomenon that holds in all cases, or are these transubstantials qualified – that is, qualified in accordance with the precepts of necessary Human Bias? Let’s take freedom for instance, which we generally know to mean “absence of a constraining agent that can coerce a particular subject/subjects into acting in a way other than they normally might.” In other words, freedom may be said to mean absence of coercion. Therefore a man in prison or a population living under the rule of a dictator may not be said to be free, and yet a population living under a state in which the legislative and executive powers are subject to democratic election can be said to be “free” in the sense described above. But when we look more closely at those living in these so-called “free” countries, we find that despite certain political freedoms that they may enjoy, there are still laws that forbid them from doing certain things, namely things that infringe on the rights of others. But if freedom is what it is as described above, then a person living in a “free” democracy is not free either, because there are still things that he is coerced into not being able to do. Furthermore, outside the sphere of political rights which a person in such a society may enjoy, there is also economic coercion of a sort. A person may do as he pleases but only within the limitations imposed by a capitalist economic order. Therefore, in order to live, a man must earn money, and to earn money he must submit to an economic system in which he is required to forsake most of his time for the sake of working for a company or some other institution 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (at the bare minimum) as a wage-earner, or if he decides to set up a company he must have wage-earners and by paying them less than the total value of the goods they have produced, make a living off of the marginal profit that results from the discrepancy. Therefore, we can hardly say that freedom is being served in an economic sense either. Furthermore, a person living in such a system must become a “citizen”, thus acquiring an identity above and outside identity as self. The citizen must then conform to the laws and rules laid down, live according to the economic system that has been determined to be to “his best interests”, be educated in a way that such a state of existence and citizenship are to his best interests, be forced to consider the interests of every other citizen living under this system as being equal to his own interests, and allow himself to be documented, watched, observed and tagged with identification, driver’s licenses, tax numbers, social security numbers, etc. So we can see that as far as the definition of the transubstantial “freedom” goes, that which a certain type of country describes as freedom is actually not so. On the other hand, a state applying oppressive measures to a populace may actually consider themselves (and do consider themselves) upholders of freedom, because they take into account an entire nation, not an individual, and consider their regime the upholder of the entire nation’s freedom from “western imperialism” or from “bolshevism/communism” or from “radical religion” etc. And so we see that “freedom” is in fact a qualified ideal that is subjectively determined according to a particular bias that is of course a subset of necessary Human Bias. Let’s look, then, at an idealized, supposedly pure form of freedom: that described in Robinson Crusoe or Lord of the Flies, for example. Surely the freedom transubstantial depicted in these books might be considered pure? On the contrary, in the former, Robinson Crusoe, although free of any coercive human force that might make him act in a way other than he might, still lives according to the moral and cultural norms that were given to him from having previously lived under such a system. Furthermore, he is under the coercive force of the elements of nature now and must adjust his ways according to that which is demanded of him by the need for shelter, food and the most elemental human needs – even that of companionship, which Man Friday satisfies. So he is hardly free either, but under the oppression of his circumstances, his isolation, the island, the savage cannibals he encounters, the natural elements, the sea, etc. In Lord of the Flies, there are many who are stranded on an island, rather than just one (as in Robinson Crusoe). The boys are stranded on an island without any authority figure but they only proceed to create a new type of coercive authority over themselves. Thus it seems that in neither of these cases can man prove completely free. Let’s take one final example then, that of the boy savage. There are cases of wild children who had been deserted at early ages, who grew in the wild, never learned to speak, talk or communicate with another human. Are these people not then free? To an extent they are. Although at the mercy of the elements, because they do not have a pre-established cultural, civilizational background, they only know of the conditions they have lived under all their lives and so it seems only normal to them. Nor is there any other person to tell them what to do. Thus they are free, but at what price? At the price of being human. Without language, without a consciousness of self as a person, without a concept of existence, they are mere animals. We see then that “freedom” is actually impossible as far as humans are concerned (but then freedom only concerns humans anyway). One cannot even be considered free vis-à-vis oneself, being as we are unable really to act independently of how our body functions, which is determined by DNA, by the balance and influence of hormones, metabolism, the structure of the brain, etc. Even though what makes me “Me” resides in consciousness (and further, in consciousness of consciousness) which is the basis of “Being” (as we saw toward the beginning of the treatise), consciousness is itself only the tip of the proverbial iceberg and inseparable from that which lies below the surface. Thus I can “freely” decide how I’m going to eat, who I’m going to marry, where I’m going to work (although even these are circumstantially determined to a large extent), but I am not free to “will” what I want, because what I need to do and act upon is already unconsciously determined by me (and regardless of conscious “Me”) as a member of a species – biologically, socially, genetically, and even circumstantially by birth. In fact, the only true state of freedom a human can have is death, and the only truly free act is suicide. But since this state of freedom can only be achieved through non-existence, one cannot actually “be” free, because having become so, one would not “be” at all, except in a purely literary sense. And what of other complex transubstantials? What of brotherhood? It is an ideal that is only applied by those forwarding a particular political cause to those sharing the same cause, and so if you happen to have a different outlook, you do not share in the “brotherhood.” Every political, religious and ideological system believes in a “brotherhood of man” (except Nazism and Judaism), and yet every one of them believe that only those sharing their own particular goals and values can be a part of that brotherhood, and so, brotherhood becomes also subjective and relative to whose brotherhood is being considered and on what terms. Justice? Justice is dependent on a particular law code, so that a person upholding one law code will not consider the sense of justice in another code to be “just.” Equality? There has never been a society on earth in which people were all truly equal in anything but in an ideal and conceptual sense. Thus we see that transubstantials are founded on human biases and not definable in absolute terms but have only a relative significance. Even with simpler transubstantials, the significance is relative. He who goes from me arrives to you; he who is going further from me is coming closer to you; one who gives cannot do so unless another takes; if one man is grateful, then another is gracious, and so on…

Antitheticality
This brings us to the most important quality of transubstantials: they are always antithetical and can only have significance due to the existence of an antithesis. This follows logically from the quality of relative significance of transubstantials which we expounded above. Now if all transubstantials are a representation of the interrelation of word/signs, and if all things can only be knowable as word/signs, then this means that we relate to what we perceive in dialectical terms, i.e. in terms of thesis and antithesis. Any transubstantial necessarily has an antithetical transubstantial against which it is contrasted. For what is the conception of freedom without that of oppression? Brotherhood without enmity, liberty without slavery, virtue without vice, going without coming, having without lacking? But why? Because just as we cannot define a thing without defining what it isn’t, so too we cannot understand a phenomenon between things without having a conception of the state of things prior to the phenomenon occurring – in other words, the anti-phenomenon. Thus only a conception of what the pre-phenomenon of liberty was (i.e. slavery or submission) can the transubstantial “liberty” have any meaning for us, and vice versa. But where lies the first conception, in liberty or in slavery? In freedom or in oppression? In Good or in Evil? In neither, because these terms only come into existence simultaneously with each other and can have no meaning except vis-à-vis the other. Their origins lie in an abnormal condition – a kind of mild “trauma” – that is observed and experienced in circumstances that are conceived as otherwise normal by the perceiving subject. In other words, the emergence of transubstantials – actually, complex transubstantials, which is what we will deal with from here on – rests on an abnormal and extraordinary feeling caused in the perceiving subject in circumstances that are otherwise considered “normal”, i.e. “normal” as in not inducing any particular emotion when observed or experienced. Take, for example, freedom. When we live our day-to-day lives in a democratic country where certain fundamental liberties are safeguarded by the constitution of our state, we are never (as we demonstrated above) truly free, but it’s not even an issue for us, for we go about our day-to-day business and lives without really caring too much about freedom – in fact, it’s never even an issue. Even in a primitive community, the members of the community live according to customs, traditions, rituals and ways which form the normal standard of rules for living, and thus “freedom” never really becomes an issue, and probably doesn’t even exist as a concept. Now imagine that suddenly your “normal” way of life is confronted by a traumatic change. A foreign way descends upon you, brought in by a foreign power with different standards of normalcy, different customs, laws, language, history, traditions, different ideological bases of identity, etc. Suddenly, one perceives the trauma of loss of familiarity, loss of normalcy, loss of certainty, and is suddenly all too conscious of what it was that constituted that sense of security and normalcy, or one’s “values”. Suddenly one’s “values” become something conscious, something problematic, something that “stands out”. The power that has been identified as the cause that has disrupted the state of unconscious normality thus brings out a counter-effect: i.e. a state of being that will restitute the original normalcy that has been traumatically disrupted. On one hand then “oppression” or “aggression” is perceived, while at the same time the concept of “freedom” and “liberty” is born – which is merely the result of the trauma that has caused an emotional reaction to change and made an issue of “values” that were otherwise taken for granted. It may even be something a lot less drastic than invasion of one people by another. It may just take a small tax hike to suddenly have people feel a trauma which on one hand tilts to a sense of “injustice” (the state’s claiming more tax money from its citizens being considered an infringement of what a citizen considers the rightful fruits and hard-earned rewards of his labor), and therefore causes the traumatized citizen to balance the situation with a sense of standing up for “justice” by radicalizing and vociferating that which seemed only normal and granted before the suggested tax hike. Let’s take the case of “Good” and “Evil”, which is really what results when the trauma is most extreme. No-one would say a tax hike is evil, but when the degree of trauma is that much more extreme, Evil and Good become the preferred transubstantials. Say for example a child is abducted and murdered in a peaceful community, the trauma against normalcy is that much more extreme, therefore the emotions aroused are that much more extreme, therefore the dialectic definition of the trauma will be expressed in the most extreme ways in accordance with this. Hence the need to “counteract Evil” by doing “the supreme Good”, i.e. finding and punishing the culprit. Thus we see that all such trauma that upsets accepted normalcy differentiates into a “bad” sub-quality (that which upsets normalcy) and a “good” sub-quality (that which having been upset must be restituted) and is always relative to the accepted standards of normalcy of the perceiving subject(s). All complex idealized transubstantials abide by this rule in terms of the quality of antitheticality, so much so, in fact, that when referring to them, we would be more correct in doing so along with their antitheses, especially when it comes to the Ideal-Complex types. So when we say Happiness, we are really saying “Happiness-Sadness”, Love becomes “Love-Hate”, Justice becomes “Justice-Injustice”, and even with simple transubstantials it’s more correct to say “in-out”, “up-down” or “through-around”, or with complex transubstantials “action-inaction”, “work-rest”, etc. Naturally this is impractical, but more correct a way of referring to transubstantials, which always suggest an antithesis against which they are defined, and without which “lack” would make no sense.

So to sum up, transubstantials (whether they are Simple, Complex or Ideal-Complex) have four discernible qualities:

1. Typification – a transubstantial is a word/sign that represents a type of phenomenon, and this type of phenomenon occurs between types of things.
2. Causality – a transubstantial can only be distinguished as a type of phenomenon through causal recognition.
3. Relativity of Significance – a transubstantial’s value and significance is relative to circumstances, experience and other transubstantials, never an absolute significance.
4. Antitheticality – every transubstantial is part of a dialectic determined by a trauma perceived on the part of the signifying subject, and the degree of trauma perceived. (Note: Logic is an Ideal-Complex Transub whose latter two qualities are identical, an anomaly explored in depth in chapter 6.)


iii. The quality of things as word/signs: negative things

By far the most interesting word/signs are those that belong to this third type of word/sign: negative things. As we have seen already, they are defined as negative because they fill a lack despite having no empirically verifiable primary qualities of existence in spatio-temporal loci. Thus, a negative thing takes upon itself the qualities of that which the signifying subject perceives is lacking in the world. Hence [a = x + (– a)] and Q + (– q(n)), or the overall formula for negative things: [a = x + (– a)] = n = q(n) = Q + (– q(n)).

Immaterial Thingness
Negative things exist as lack. They have no spatio-temporal qualities in the sense of primary qualities of positive things, but instead have spatio-temporal anti-qualities. This means that whereas positive things occupy loci in space-time, negative things have no definable formal properties that can limit them as occupying a particular locus – instead, negative things have the spatio-temporal anti-qualities of infinity and eternity, both of which are perceived as lacking in the nature of existence and the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, because the nature of thingness is existence, and because existence is determined in spatio-temporal terms, the nature of negative things is anti-existence. Nevertheless, negative things are still given thingness, even though their origin lies in anti-thingness, and this must be so, because if it didn’t have thingness it would be pointless to create it, for its purpose is precisely this: to fill a lack among positive things. For example, if we consciously believed in God because he didn’t exist, we would not be able to believe in God as thing, therefore belief in God would be pointless in the first place. We must, instead, overlook the fundamental anti-existence and anti-thingness of God. Therefore, although we cannot define a particular spatio-temporal locus for this “God”, we posit that God is nevertheless present, exists, is a “thing”, everywhere, or somewhere we cannot see, that it is not God that doesn’t exist, but us who cannot perceive him in the way we do positive things. In other words, we take upon ourselves the fault of “not seeing” God, but posit it as existing all the same. This is the first crucial quality of negative things like God, Soul, Spirit, Afterlife, etc: They must exist immaterially, and thus, they must be left immune to the need for (empirical) proof. This ties in on to the second crucial quality of negative things…

Mystery
As we stated before, the quality of Mystery fills in a lack in the lack itself: by ascribing the quality of Mystery to negative things we therefore make them immune to the need for proof precisely because (as we stated earlier) we can never know the positive qualities of negative things, only their negative qualities in terms of what lack they fill ([a = x + (– a)]). Therefore, we can know that God is all the qualities we perceive to be lacking in the world and which we seek to fill – supreme Goodness, Power, Knowledge, Wisdom, Eternality, Infinity, etc. – but we cannot know what ALL the qualities of God (or Soul, etc) are, because they have no primary qualities like positive things do. Thus we ascribe the quality of Mystery to negative things to fill in the lack of our understanding of the lack which is filled by negative things.

Goodness
This means that negative things have all the good sub-qualities of ideal complex transubstantials and thus are necessarily antithetical to all bad sub-qualities of ideal complex transubstantials. In this sense, the trauma we discussed as being at the root of our ascription of valuational qualities to transubstantials is with negative things transposed onto a higher existential plane so that trauma becomes Trauma in an existential and universal sense vis-à-vis our ever-present consciousness of Death. Therefore God takes on all the good sub-qualities of transubstantials like Goodness, Mercy, Justice, Brotherhood, Compassion, while being necessarily antithetical to the bad sub-qualities. This is necessarily so because our universal Trauma of Death-consciousness as ultimate Bad Transubstantial demands the creation of the ultimate Good Transubstantial as negative thing: God, Soul, Spirit, etc. Even a negative thing like “Devil” serves the purpose of goodness by providing a necessary juxtaposition for its comprehension… In other words, by creating the opposite of God and the epitome of evil, we are able to understand, fathom and create a concept of the supreme Good.(26)

Original Causality
Negative things are necessarily placed at the primal origin of all causation. This is because negative things fill a perceived lack in the existence of something among other existing things (e.g. they take on the quality of eternal life in a world where we perceive perpetual death, they have the quality of purity in a world where we perceive constant corruption, they have the quality of constancy in a world where we perceive turmoil and flux, etc.), and following from this, as we have stated, they can only be perceived as what they are in terms of what is perceived to be lacking, never in terms of what they are in themselves in a positive sense. As we keep those qualities in mind, let’s now take into consideration the problem of the origin of causation. Since it makes no sense that something can come out of nothing (or anti-thing, to be exact), then it makes no sense that there ever was a beginning to things, and thus that there never could have been an original cause in the existing universe. On the other hand, because we can only conceive of the world in terms of causation (which is a fundamental quality of things, be they positive, transubstantial or negative) and can comprehend the universe in terms that we experience and understand in our lives, through our perception of the cycle of birth and death, beginning and end, start and finish, then it also means that we cannot help but feel that there must indeed at some point have been some kind of beginning to everything, even though when we think about it, since something doesn’t seem capable of coming from nothing, it doesn’t seem logical. Thus we are caught in a dilemma. How do we bridge this dilemma? Through the negative thing, and particularly due to the quality of Mystery that is inherent in the nature of negative things. In other words, because we cannot see how anything positive that exists can come into existence with or without original cause, we instead find an ingenious alternative: we posit both a causal origin and a trans-causal essence to negative things by taking advantage of their Mysterious qualities. It’s like we’re taking a loan out on what is beyond our understanding based on another thing that is beyond our understanding, because only things of like nature can complement each other. To put it more clearly and specifically, we proclaim that God must be the origin on all things. But why not, say, a giant caterpillar? Indeed, it’s not impossible that a giant caterpillar created the universe, but nobody believes it, why? Because we are too familiar with the existence and qualities of a caterpillar as a positive thing. But God, on the other hand, is believed to be the origin of all things, precisely because he is a mystery to us in a positive sense. How would we know all his qualities? We don’t, but that is precisely why God is then believed in, because only something that has the quality of Mystery can account for a dilemma which is also a mystery beyond possible explication through the material positive world of cause and effect. Thus, if a giant caterpillar existed before all else, we immediately assume that something must already have existed before the caterpillar, and before that too, and so on, but when we think of God it doesn’t seem as ridiculous, because we don’t know the qualities of God in a positive sense, and so we don’t know in what sense he may exist or not-exist. He is a mystery, and even though it doesn’t answer the question of primal origin and meaning of the universe and life in a philosophically rigorous sense, it nevertheless acts as a sufficient stop-gap to at least keep us from going crazy thinking about why everything exists. Naturally we would still ask what came before God, but because of the Mysterious quality of God, one can claim that everything is God and so everything is one and undivided and always has been (which you can’t say if you assert that the giant caterpillar is the source of creation), or one can say that there is some quality of God that we as humans simply cannot understand – that the ways of God are a Mystery – and just leave it at that, which is what most religious or theistic people do (and indeed, can do) with God. But we also mentioned the other problem, or the other side of the same problem: namely, that in the universe of causes and effects, which is how we necessarily make sense of the universe, negative things are “there” despite the fact that they are at the same time beyond the working of cause and effect. In other words, their Mysterious qualities not only explain their conception as being at the root of a primal original cause from which the universe of causation sprung forth, that same quality of Mystery also justifies their negative “existence” in the positive universe because through their “Mysterious Essence” they counteract and rectify the primal epistemological ignorance that underlies the perceived universe: i.e. that despite the fact that we can perceive a million and one causes and effects to a single thing we see, we can only go back so far in the line of causation before we’re confronted by the epistemological void, the primal lack, the essential impossibility of knowing the one, true, first cause. And yet, by our creation of negative things, these things (God, Soul, Spirit) act as the necessary (though by no means perfect) antidote to this perceived primal ignorance through their having that fundamental quality of Mystery. It may seem ironic that lack of knowledge can only be addressed and countered with something that we must necessarily lack knowledge of as well, but it actually makes perfect sense. Why because we have accepted our fundamental ignorance and chosen to delegate supreme omniscient wisdom which we deem lacking in ourselves, to a thing or things that can fill this lack for us. Hence, I may not know, but I believe in God because he knows. I may not know my essence or who I really am, but I believe in a Soul which does have that essence and is immune to the vicissitudes of the cycle of life and death. I may not know why life exists, why atoms form into molecules and why molecules form into cells and cells form into organisms, but I believe in a Spirit which does this, does know this, and perhaps even is this. And so, know that I do not know, I don’t know God but God knows, therefore I do not know how or why, but I feel safe in the knowledge that everything is known, even though I cannot know the knower – and in fact, precisely because I cannot know the knower.

So to sum up, negative things have four discernible qualities:

1. Immaterial Thingness
– They lack spatio-temporal loci, they lack material substance.
2. Goodness – Negative things are good because they fill a lack, and because lack is defined by perceived pain, and because pain is Bad, that which fills the lack must be Good. Therefore negative things must have the quality of Goodness.
3. Mystery – They are not positively identifiable things, therefore we can only know them in terms of lack, or in terms of their being what we perceive is lacking, and therefore we cannot know them in themselves.
4. Original Causality – They necessarily precede the world of causal relations, and also necessarily have a part in its creation.


Language as Knowledge
We see then that, according to the formulae for the existence of things as word/signs ([a = x – a] or [– a = – x + a], and [a = x + (– a)]), anything and it’s qualities can only exist (“stand out”) relative to everything (x) and All Qualities (Q), be the word/sign a positive, transubstantial, or a negative thing. We have also shown that by the nature of the existence of word/signs as having binary properties of subjective signifier and objective signified, all that we know can only exist as word/signs, all things are “things” as word/signs, and therefore anything that can be known – all knowledge – is that which is anm integral part of the system of intersignificance that is language.

But we don’t necessarily even need to go into such technical explanations. Think of something, for example, that is but is not represented by language. It’s obviously impossible, or at least impossible to put on paper, or to speak of in any way, and therefore it can never become known as such. When I was a child, I used to have a recurring dream, which I’m not sure would have counted as a nightmare or not, because when I dreamt it, I always felt a sense of unease and even perhaps a sense of paranoia. But I never felt any sense of fear, which I guess would preclude it from being a nightmare. I haven’t even gotten into the details of it yet, but already I find myself groping with whatever transubstantial word/signs and representations I have at hand to simply come to a description of what this dream is… and yet none of these transubstantial word/signs, I feel, are really representing fully, faithfully, and with complete clarity that which this dream is. But that’s the best I can do, because beyond that which exists in language, there is nothing that I can know, even though I feel there are things, feelings, emotions, perhaps impulses (who knows if even these word/signs are doing it justice?) that have not been and perhaps cannot be represented as knowledge. But until I can dwell on them, understand them better, delve deeper into my mind and my psyche, and have recourse to new advances, experiments and innovations of science and psychology, I will never be able to apply the necessary word/signs and interaction of word/signs that can do justice to such strange, unknown “feelings” that I seem to experience in that recurring dream. For the details of the dream are even more obscure. There are no discernible forms, not even any discernible shapes or “things”… There is merely the disturbing feeling of immense disproportion. At one moment I feel “there is” or “I am” (I cannot tell which) a great, magnificent immensity everywhere (is it “thing”? is it “nothing”? I don’t know) to which “I am” or “there is” a tiny, minuscule, insignificant “feeling” or “perception” that is always juxtaposed to it and in fact (seemingly) a part of it. In the dream there was a constant, nauseating, incessant shifting of focus from those two extreme feelings or perceptions of magnificent immensity and minuscule insignificance. Am I caught in between? Am I that which is immense or insignificant, or both? I’m not sure. Words still fail me, they fail to express what it is I felt, what it is I saw, what it was that was happening to me and causing those feelings in me. These word/signs are all I have at my disposal, and just as unsatisfactorily as I have sought to bring to my knowledge and understanding of this recurring dream, so just as unsatisfactorily I have to let it dissolve and dissipate once more into the nebulous, unexplored and darkest regions of my mind and my memories, unknown and unknowable beyond the extent of these unsatisfactory, half-assed word/signs I have used to try and communicate such a dream into knowledge for my – and your – understanding.

It seems then that it is not necessarily the case that only that which is represented through language is all that exists. It is only the case that that which is represented through language constitutes the limit of what is knowable, and if there is or isn’t anything beyond that cannot be known by us. As I have demonstrated, even God is no exception, in line with its quality of Mystery due to our inability to know this negative “thing” that is God in any positive sense, but only in terms of our need for its existence as stopgap for a certain Lack that is perceived and which causes us Pain. Therefore, we can never know God except within the realm of the necessary relativity of language as knowledge. Ironically, God too, then, exists within the limitations of language, as far as we’re concerned anyway. In fact, our whole description of life, the universe, everything, is nothing more than that as is described, represented and made intelligible as word/signs in the system of intersignificance of language. Anything outside of language is beyond our knowledge. Whereof we cannot speak, as Wittgenstein has said, we must thereof remain silent.

And so, from our study of the nature of word/signs and the nature of knowledge, we can ascertain the following principles for knowledge:

1. Spatio-temporality (Being [spatial dimension], and constant Becoming and Having-Been [temporal dimension])
2. Causality (Recognition)
3. Consistency (Recurrence)
4. Typality (Multiplicability of datum into general types)
5. Signification (Representation – as word/signs)

When those five principles are satisfied, we can say we know something. But what is the name we give this process by which we infer through language that we know something according to the five principles cited above? It’s called logic, and it rests within the realm of the complex interaction of word/signs within the system of intersignificance that is called grammar, and more specifically, syntax.

Footnotes
19. We might consider the great leap in the evolution of animals into humans as the capacity for abstraction, without which synthetic thought would be impossible. Human ancestors, like chimpanzees today, used simple tools like sticks and rocks, but when they were able to put a rock together with a stick and create a new thing like an axe, that was the big breakthrough. It means that humans came to conceive of the properties of a thing, rather than just the thing itself. And when you think in terms of a thing’s properties, you are abstracting that thing from other things due to its particular characteristics that make it distinct. Thus, as an early human saw that holding a stick from one end and banging it at something with the other end was effective, he thought that a rock is even harder (thus the property of “hard” that differentiates “rock” from “stick”) and so was able to see that instead of the other end of the stick hitting something, if there was a rock at that end, it would be much more effective, and so on…. And this breakthrough probably came at the time that humans also would have uttered the first sentence, as opposed to grunting a string of sounds. What seems so obvious and easy to us is only so because we were able to make this giant stride (and not that long ago either).
20. Obviously, relating something to nothing would be absurd, because no-thing cannot exist (by definition). A thing can only therefore exist in relation to another thing, because they both share the property of thingness.
21. I have decided to use the term “quality” rather than “property” of things because the latter gives the impression that a thing possesses certain attributes in itself which we merely observe objectively, which (as we have seen in the nature of things as word/signs) is mistaken, because these attributes of things we are about to outline represent instead the subject/object, signifier/signified binary nature of things as word/signs. A thing does not “possess” color, multiplicity, spatio-temporal loci, etc. WE perceive a thing as having these attributes, and thus these attributes are born from the interaction of subject and object together in the act of knowing and perceiving, rather than being properties of things that are merely revealed to us.
22. I put this word in quotations to indicate that I am conscious of my own suspicions of the traditional baggage of “divine gift” which is often implied in the word “rational” as an infallible cognitive faculty that has been handed down by God.
23. Hypothetical because we can never know the workings of nature, whether it has its own consciousness, or whether anything could be in any other way than the way we perceive them, since all knowledge follows from the origin of necessary Human Bias.
24. Note that this sub-quality of type also helps not only in the process of aggregation, but also facilitates the differentiation of things. For example, when I conceive of the color “red”, the fact that I can know it is a type of “thing”, a type of “quality”, a type of “formal quality”, and a type of “color” precludes me from having to wonder if it is, say, a “car” or not, or if it’s a “banana”, etc., so I can skip differentiating a thing from millions of other things thanks to the possibility of this taxonomy of “typical” generalization. I can skip straight to the most specific type “color” and know what it is by knowing it’s not “blue” or “green”, etc.
25. In the following section will discuss the unique quality of negative things as word/signs – and also as things – whereby the objective property of the word/sign is represented as lack, or anti-thing.
26. You will note what appears a paradox here: see, if the Goodness of negative things is already determined in juxtaposition to the evil – or more precisely, the Lack of Goodness – of the world, then why is a further juxtaposition necessary among the negative things themselves, as, say, between “Satan” and “God” or “Demon” and “angel”. The explanation is this: we create the “evil negative thing” so as to avoid having to face the true, psychological foundations of our belief and creation of such negative things. Thus we create negative evil things so as to be able to believe in the existence (however it may be, as Mystery) of the Good negative things. Indeed, if we were to actually be aware of the psychological reasons why we create negative things, we would no longer be able to believe them.