'I'

Michael K Laidlaw About 2 147 words

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I

by

Michael Kamakana

I have made deliberate philosophical decision to use the first-person pronoun, the ‘I’ in these essays, not for narcissism, for ego-centricity, for no reason but this is where my essays, my assertions and arguments, come from. I am not referring to bodies of knowledge that precede this writing, only my extensive reading. I am not including even in usual implicit manner, the reader of these texts, with conclusions or suggestions or assertions, however tentative. I never have liked the absence of identity or responsibility of the author, in nonfiction work, as if the given work is selfmade, self-generating, self-luminous, self-anything but deliberate essay or argument. This given work is result of some serious thought and effort. This is not hopefully the case, in the case being hopeful, but the case I hope.

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I am physically within the range of average possible for this era and place. I am at most one hundred eighty-three centimetres in height and weigh eighty-something kilos. I am neither particularly pale or dark, neither bulky nor thin, neither muscular nor slim. I have regular features on face some people consider attractive and some people are indifferent to, I have brown eyes and long eyelashes, I have slightly full lips, I have cheekbones, I have narrow square jaw. I can easily be noticed or easily ignored, at least when my cane is not used as I walk.

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I have made deliberate philosophical decision to use the extensive reading I have done, no matter how incomplete my understanding of given subjects, to shape and build my assertions. I begin my interest in philosophy not through logic or math or science, but through sartrean existentialism, which focuses on the I, on the irreducible self that pecedes all these other ways of being in the wold, and I am greatly convinced of the absolute freedom, the absolute responsibilty, this entails. Sartre contends that in the Cartesian formulation I think therefore I am, the first and second I are distinct moments. I am comes first, how I am comes next. I find this insight convincing enough to read all eight hundred-something pages of his masterwork Being and Nothingess. I am an ambitious, searching twenty-three. This is my first philosophical formulation of I, though I must have had some idea of who I am previous to this. I have self-cocepts. I know I amreasonably intelligent in most everything, though not inspired by math or science. I know I am artistic beyond pretensions. I know I am somehow at fault for not acting on my strengths. Over the years and decades I read of Bad Faith and believe in the psychology of all humans, or at least myself, attempting to evade responsibility in many ways conscious or even the unconscious. I read several works of fiction dedicated to demonstating the philosophical arguments, I read more work by Sartre, I read de Beauvoir, I read Heidgger. I read Merleau-Ponty and an entire new vista opens up for me, patly because he argues for some metaphysic between empiricism and idealism, partly that he argues this primarily through Art. I continue to be convinced by existentialism even as I must recognize the limitations of what is called my situation, which at this early age do not seem onerous or difficult in any way. I have loving mother and father and bother, I never suffer abuse mental or phyical, I never face poverty. I am not deluded reader who fancies himself knight errant and ventures forth to save an illusory maiden, and when my psychological history is recast with return of memories of childhood sexual abuse, reverberations of the effects are surely absobed and finally no more than eventual excuse of bad faith. And then at this time I suffer the brain injury.

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I have lived liife not particularly unusual, though in some ways more fortunate, than possible in this era and place.

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I have made deliberate philosophical decision to use the extensive reading I have done, no matter how incomplete my understanding of given subjects, to shape and build my assertions. As I have some skill in the arts, I have never taken it too seriously, perhaps because my father is scientist, as evcation or description of the real. Afer the brain injury this might seem like signal moment to find new understanding of art and life, in writing about it, but in fact I have only begun my reading of philosophy survey texts, in fact I remain convinced there is something like science that will best help me understand, and this is nonfiction, this is philosophy. I do write something more journal of this happens then this happens then this happens, that is useful in final conception as work of art, but the cocept of I is not yet resolved. I becomes central voice for this memoir I write, only when I rcognize my voice is multiple through autobiography and the ways of perceiving the coma, medical, theoretical, and philosophical. I am pleased at the I so resolved, though no one else may yet be, for I am not published. I continue to search who this I is.

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I have made deliberate philosophical decision to use the extensive reading I have done, no matter how incomplete my understanding of given subjects, to shape and build my assertions. This is more Indic ‘philosophy, the closest translation of ‘darsanna’ or ‘seeing’, as in ‘seeing the truth’. I know one efriend who is generally convinced that the most important aspect of human being, in all arts and sciences and religion, has been language, and in his wide reading seems to make coherent arguments to this end. I do not even know enough to not know or certainly dispute his arguments, only know that this way of thinking, of totalizing generative meaning, of focusing on any one global explanatory framework, of belief on finding singular key concept, has eluded me. In my nonfiction as well as fiction reading I have drifted over as wide range of possible texts at first, only allowing them to lead me without intent, without belief in such explanatory framework. Language could be key, but I search for the pre-predicative aspect of being that has no words, that is paradox of wordless words. I do not know. I know only that I have never wanted to be convinced by any one such framework to exclusion of all others, but it is not until I read on Jaina logic that I can understand this as intellectual and awareness beyond.There is agnosticism, where you make no claims, all may be wrong, there is nihilism, where you deny meaning of any sort, there is belief of categorical assertions, some are right, some are wrong, one or the other, but the jainaanswer is critical synthesis, where all perspectives are true. Truth is matter of perspectives and the rule is to do no harm, to deny no other perspectives, to make no categorical assertions. I understand that in jaina thought that any argument for certain perspective of truth is true as affirmation of any one perspective but false as denial of other perspectives. I find this useful logic when facing all the philosophy I have read, though mostly I have read continental and not logicsl works in the western tradition. I do not want to make categorical assertions, as I believe the more contradictory and multiple perspectives of my thought world, the closer I am to my living experience, the more living real, the more living world rather than abstract scientific universe. Language may very well be one of these explanstory perspectives but I do not believe it is alone nor necessarily primary.

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I have made deliberate philosophical decision to use the extensive reading I have done, no matter how incomplete my understanding of given subjects, to shape and build my assertions. I must qualify this claim that I do not implicate the reader in my thoughts, for of course I do, as much as We is buried in I, for it is the reader who completes the circuit of my assertions. The reader agrees with or denies whatever I say. I simply assert. In jaina sense I am true as an assertion of I but false as denial of We. In buddhism there is feeling of incompleteness, of no I, only emptiness, only constant flow of experience, and I is an illusion of trying to unify these experiences through time. In Advaita-Vedanta there is also feeling of incompleteness, but this is solved by reconizing that I is not emptiness but core of being and exactly whst it suggests as how to live as coherent human, as derivation of infinite Brahma, so unified in this way through time. Buddhism insists on primacy of transcience, Advaita-Vedanta on absolute presence. Jainism is an attempt to constructvely synthesize these two metaphysics, from one perspective this, from this other perspective this, without denying the other. I think of the example of water flowing in the river. From buddhist perspective it is clearly all motion, which famously cannot be stepped in twice, from another perspective it is water that flows in a riverbed and does not move. And am I anything other than these perspectives, am I my being or consciousess or multiple thoughts that are constantly renewing myself, constantly becoming, as flames flickering, or am I my being or consciousness or one continuous thinking, constant as the fire made of those flames. For that is resonant model of being, of consciousness, where I am each momentsry flame on indefinite repetition, one to the next, the next to the next, how can I say it is the same flame, how can I say it is new. And then in buddhist thought there is the posited need for some sort of fuel for these flames, which can be thought karma or traces of action, which need be eliminated so that the fire of worldlytranscience may be extinguished, leading that illusory I through enlightenment. And in Advaita-Vedanta thought there is necessarily no duality, there is the flowing that is water, the water that is flowing, and no distinction between being and becoming.

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I have made deliberate philosophical decision to use the extensive reading I have done, no matter how incomplete my understanding of given subjects, to shape and build my assertions. Jainism perspectives imply that all assertions are partial, and there is transcendent perspective that unifies them all, but is again, true as affirmation but false as any denial. Is this amoral perspectivism, where I may decide what is true for me is true that matters, is this existential authenticity which has no ground or basic relationship to others, or do I act truly only that I act for others, as de Beauvoir suggests. It could be simply I have not thought out enough to have confidence in any one global explanatory framework, so retreat from making any such categorical assertions, such as human being is in all arts and sciences and religion aspects of language. I have never wanted to be so confident. I have never wanted to be disciple, be follower, be in position to abandon my own critical thought to those positions already staked by another, as individual or way of thought or faith. And is this not by itself position I have claimed, skeptical to perhaps pathological degree, when in fact I do have certain core beliefs. I do not believe in Christian God or Churches but I have grown up in nominally Christian society so I know the world-view, the stories, and have been socialized by them if not only by my mother. I believe there is something more than the apparent, I have this perspective on the world, I believe there is more value to persons than only functional purpose, I have these beliefs but I do not argue for them or know where they come from. I believe we are other if not more than sum of our physical aspects, as we are other if not more than possbilties of language that make us human. I accept all perceptual faith from perspective truths, but do not have global faith or perpective. This might be thought skeptical or exhausting but is in fact the way I affirm myself as I.

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I have made deliberate philosophical decision to use the extensive reading I have done, no matter how incomplete my understanding of given subjects, to shape and build my assertions. I afirm I in complete manner, in way that could be confused with solipsism, in way that is perhaps unreasonably self centered or self confident, for every time I say I suuggest, I am saying We this, We that, but make no overt arguments for inclusion.

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if you like this review, i now have website: www.michaelkamakana.com 220611: this is probably the most academically accurate of the translations I have read of this book, but still prefer commentary o

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