Cognition (knowing) is a semiotic process. Learning by experience requires inquiry, involving abductive, deductive and inductive reasoning in a quest for what Heraclitus calls the logos.
Why is it so difficult to discover? In the first place,
ἐὰν μὴ ἔλπηται ἀνέλπιστον οὐκ ἐξευρήσει, ἀνεξερεύνητον ἐὸν καὶ ἄπορον.
He who does not expect will not find out the unexpected, for it is trackless and unexplored.
Heraclitus, Kahn VII
χρὴ γὰρ εὖ μάλα πολλῶν ἵστορας φιλοσόφους ἄνδρας εἶναι.
Men who love wisdom must be good inquirers (historas) into many things indeed.
Heraclitus, Kahn IX
πολυμαθίη νόον οὐ διδάσκει.
Much learning (polymathia) does not teach understanding.
Heraclitus, Kahn XVIII
ὅσων ὄψις ἀκοὴ μάθησις, ταῦτα ἐγὼ προτιμέω.
Whatever comes from sight, hearing, learning from experience: this I prefer.
Heraclitus, Kahn XVI
κακοὶ μάρτυρες ἀνθρώποισι ὀφθαλμοὶ καὶ ὦτα βαρβάρους ψυχὰς ἐχόντων.
Eyes and ears are poor witnesses for men if their souls do not understand the language [if they have ‘barbaric souls’].
Heraclitus, Kahn XIV
What “language” do eyes and ears speak to the soul? That depends on how the soul is embodied, how events in the nervous system become significant, how perception works.
Do you read me? Then you have to believe that your experience is cognate with mine. Co-gnatus, ‘born together’ (or ‘descended from the same ancestor’), derives from the Latin verb gigno (earlier geno), meaning ‘beget’ or ‘bring forth’. Its root forms -gn-, -gen- and-gon- have begotten the stems of many English words, along with its complement verb nascor (‘to be born’), through its participial form natus (or gnatus), source of English words such as nature and native.
How can scripture reading come to pierce an ox hide?
— T’ien-t’ung (Cleary 1997b, 322)
Continue reading Turning how?
The poet and the prophet shake your language loose from your habits.
Following up on the explanation of the interpretant given in his 1909 letter to William James, Peirce is careful to distinguish between the two kinds of prior knowledge needed by the interpreter: knowledge of the sign’s object, and knowledge of the sign-system. Continue reading Driven to presume
Pragmatism as a theory of meaning implies that texts, words and other symbols are consecrated by our use of them; the Holy Bible is Holy to those who read it as sacred story or divine guidance, and cannot be holy without those readers who live by its light. Continue reading Sacred play
And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through them: and He has power to gather them together when He wills.
— Qur’án 42.29 (Yusuf Ali)
To ‘gather them together’ is to un-differentiate them, i.e. to uncreate them. On the other hand, the scattering is only through physical spacetime. In eternal meaning space, the myriad beings together now constitute the Living One, the buddha-nature, the Universe of Firstness. And since the world is inside out, each individual is a recreation of that singularity. ‘The entire universe suffers the pangs of a new creation in and through a person’s existence’ (Kim 1975, 172, after Dogen).
You can’t create and evaluate at the same time. Even in Genesis, evaluation comes after creation.
And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps along the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Continue reading Creation and selection
Chapter 11 of Turning Signs introduced Robert Ulanowicz’s theory about the ascendency of ecosystems and the importance of overhead (inefficiencies) in the system’s response to stress. This is a clue to the nature of creativity. Continue reading Creative misconceptions
Rainer Maria Rilke tells us that a good poem can only emerge from a lifetime of experiences, which are not only remembered but, you might say, inhabited. (Or you might say that they inhabit you.) Continue reading Creativity and karma