I write this first because it likely informs all else here in countless ways it's doubtful I’m even fully aware of yet, and which for many years I did try to hide, not least and most mistakenly from myself. I apologise if it seems autobiographical, and it inevitably is, but to not write it feels somehow disingenuous [duplicitous? underhand?], a denial of a very personal perspective, an agenda I may not consciously but will [must?] ineluctably adopt; and I have no wish to be accused of selling damaged goods as whole.
Am I damaged? I undoubtedly am, and reading on you will come to agree. And I believe it’s important to acknowledge this, both to know and accept who we are and frame any conversation we might have. We all write from one point or another, and whilst we pretend reason is universal it really isn’t, its patterns may be and are certainly well established, but its foundations shift endlessly with changing knowledge, faith, and experience, floating in an ungrounded bubble untethered from any epistemological truth. This is simply the pragmatic approach to almost all contemporary debate (at least that divorced from the hard sciences) where neither the number nor interaction of variables has been properly categorised or understood; the variousvsystems - social, psychological, moral are simply too complex to be mapped and quantified.1
Essentially this is how we all argue - assume those to whom we speak adopt (at least at the most base level) positions sufficiently similar to our own as to be considered virtually universal - hell this is precisely the functionality [mechanism?] of language that most very base assumption - it is mis/translated more or less imprecisely by every one of us, but at least until we develop the technology for direct mind to mind conceptual transfer (which would still be incomplete and variably interpreted) it remains despite this limitations our principle vehicle of communication.
That we so seldom encounter arguments prefaced by much discussion of assumptions, of terms, of epistemology, or method demonstrates the ubiquity of this ‘common sense’ pragmatic approach; indeed even those theorists prone to setting themselves up in opposition to this, those weavers of ‘common sense’ straw-men, fall prey to precisely the same logic they are so apt to deride - for there is no reason free of prejudice, no matter what they may care to think. Or more importantly care for others to think.
Sometimes though experience stands so far outside this common ground it defies all assumptions of universality. It’s a truism that all experience escapes language, and it does, yet somehow amongst the slipperiness between syllable and signified we conjure oceans of meaning that themselves escape and overflow their lexical progenitors[cause].
Yet sometimes language isn’t simply surpassed, it is found woefully inadequate, and then no framework exists for understanding or contextualising events, and no words exist for processing; or at least those words that do exist remain so poorly understood as to be rendered almost meaningless.
- 1. Arguably even the hard sciences ultimately fall into this category - whilst generally logically consistent at a Newtonian level, at a quantum level the models and data remain incomplete, the science theoretical and speculative.