GREGORY NAME

AN ESSAY ON EXISTENCE

Index



© Greg Ory 2012-2018, Record T 2, engl. An essay on existence, june 2012 to september 2012, Oxford, revised 2015, literary speculations, English. Borrow the 2017 printed edition here.




*

One of the innocent crimes of slow readers is their immersion in fiction, a dangerous sea. For a long time, I followed the steps of a certain Mr. Pip and his expectations. I am a late sailor on the main, exploring waters that everyone knows. Yet perhaps I may bring some old but not odd thoughts under the patronage of a friend, speaking as I am to a familiar circle.

Expectations! There is much to say about them, since even they who claim to expect nothing, nurture in their eccentric goal an expectation. There is nothing concrete or abstract that man cannot wish too much, and whoever wishes too much is in pain. Mr Pip had a few hopes, and two of them I call great: the wish to save a man's life and the wish to be loved. Once he takes notice of his existence in the world, he fears:

“At such a time I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that the dark wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.”

Early in life, Pip has already one expectation: love, and his temple of love is his family's resting place. Implicit in his first impression of the world is that feeling of loneliness in the marshes. Pip loves the impossible – his dead parents at first and at last the heartless. Because his is the love of the unattainable and because anguish makes the world so ugly, he weeps.

O how love expects! So many dreams and sorrows were told that we know, from the very beginning, what Pip will suffer:

“I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt to me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.”

Before his encounter with pride and humiliation, Pip was innocent. Now he was lost – corrupted by Estella's contempt and by his own innocence.

Estella appeared suddenly, a young girl coming across the court-yard “with keys in her hand,” aye, the keys of many sorrows. “She was very pretty, and seemed very proud.” She was the unattainable, and Pip loved her – Pip, the bundle of shivers in the middle of scattered cattle.

“It was a dry cold night, and the wind blew keenly, and the frost was white and hard. A man would die to-night of lying out on the marshes, I thought. And then I looked at the stars, and considered how awful it would be for a man to turn his face up to them as he froze to death, and see no help or pity in all the glittering multitude.”

The multitude of stellae in the distance was Estella! Pip knew her nature: “very proud, very pretty, very insulting.” And yet, his love could not but adore an overwhelming shine. What else was there to admire? And here we sit and wonder what has become of “the beauty of love”.



*


1. It is common use for many to approach existence from existing things and to regard a thing as a thing in itself and relating to others. Yet the definitions of existence, relation, thing and self are often imprecise. If for instance the self be the relation relating itself to itself, we should establish first the meaning of both relation and self. Defining self, however, is a rather difficult task. One can resort to a tautology, which defines x by saying that x is x, but that is not useful. Why? Because, if we change x for self, we would say that self is self, while self is a name that should be defined by a proper defining phrase, and not simply by saying x is x or self is self.

2. Yet we need to start our approach somewhere, and the concept of relation seems a good place to start. One might assume that relation is any operation involving more than one element, and an element is any object of thought conceivable. Take as an example x and y in the relation (x+y). Here, x and y are given, and it is assumed that they have their own identity, whatever this be. But the plus sign is not given in the same way, having no distinct identity. It only appears in dependence on things that have a distinct identity. This is not enough for relation to be: Relation must involve elements possessing identity.

3. Nevertheless, in arithmetic terms some operations only require one element. Something like (x : 2) requires only x as a parent element of two derived elements, for instance y and z. Whether x existed as such and created, through division, two distinct entities, thereby ceasing to exist, or whether x never existed and was only a fortuitous combination of (y+z), whereby both y and z were never part of each other but only happened to be misunderstood as one body such as x, which appears to be but is not, cannot be ascertained here.

4. Relation is the phenomenon through which an identifiable element touches another or itself. It is an extension of these parent elements. It cannot exist without the elements and is necessarily subordinate to them.

5. Relation is not intrinsic to any element, because an element is conceived independent of others. Relation is not a necessary condition for identity. Yet this may be different if we enquire about awareness. Does relation require awareness in order to be? Must the elements of a relation be aware of their identity and relation, and must we as observers be aware of their being and relation? Here the element is aware, there the observer is aware. Or can relation occur irrespective of any awareness? If no awareness be required, relation may be given to elements in a manner unknown to themselves and to observers.

6. Be that as it may. Once we know that more than one element is given, there will be relation. The elements may lack awareness, but with the observers it is different: If they are aware, they know, and if they know, they are aware of the elements. Because they are aware, their awareness brings the elements into a relation with each other. The relation is the awareness of what the elements have in common, and what they have in common is this: They are perceived and identified as elements. We know not how they arise, yet we are aware of their identity. The elements identified are bound in a common bond of identity. This is the primitive relation among all elements, in whatever form they may or may not exist. The elements conceivable form the class or conceivability, or class C. Following this, all elements that we identify as existent are bound to the primitive relation of existentiality. Together, they constitute the class of existentiality, or class E. Yet whether every identifiable element be able to exist, either because it exists and was not identified or because it may arise by randomness although it does not yet exist, is disputable.

7. What a curious conclusion arises from that reasoning: Relation does not require existence. Eustace, a poet and old friend of mine, cultivated throughout his life a most intriguing relation with Apollo Leschenorius, the converser, to whom my friend, as he claims, owes much of his poetry and some of his debts. What concerned me most in that unusual affair was the dilemma of Eustace's creativity. Either did he converse with an actual entity, leading him through the path of art, or the entity did only exist inside my friend's creativity. If, as he hopes, he engaged in a profound relation with an artistic divinity, he led, I must say, the most delightful life, and his relation with Apollo was just a further affair between two entities inside the class of existentiality. But, if his Apollo not exist, the scenario is not less interesting. It may be even instructive for our purpose (which is in fact my purpose, but I call it ours supposing that one of my generous readers will embrace it). Such a scenario would evidence, through the character of the relation and of the entities involved, an interaction between the class of existentiality and a supposed class of non-existentiality, i.e. existence positively relating to non-existence.

8. Having examined a particular concept of relation, let us now concentrate on the self. We would be reasonable if we assumed one thing: If the self be only itself, it must bear no divisibility such as (x : 2). Here is the reason: If x can be divided in such a way, becoming two different elements, x has never been one but only appeared to be. Now seen as an indivisible element, the self is one and what is one cannot behave as if it were two. Relation within the self would only be possible if the self were able to bear more than one entity and were thereby divisible, becoming two or more. Yet the self, which is one, is one on account of its indivisible identity.

9. Moreover, if the self be itself, the self is itself and nothing else. Thus, x cannot be y, and y cannot be x. The only way for x as a self to relate itself to itself is, at first, to establish a case of identity: (x=x). There can be no further definition for the self than a tautology, and because a tautology has no distinct definiens, there is no distinct definiens for the self – which is sad. And because the self by means of this very tautology is itself and nothing else, the self is often defined by what it is not: The self is nothing – but itself.

10. The understanding of what belongs or belongs not to the self oftener requires more than logical reasoning. Pip may ask: Who am I? And he may answer: I am myself. But what and who is myself and how am I myself? How can I make a distinction between my indivisible self and the things surrounding it? Once these questions arise, the self becomes aware of its own existence, and this very enquiry acts as the starting point of existence: If I am asking what I am, I must necessarily exist, nay regardless of what I am, I exist.

11. If we consider the fact of existing in its human expression, there is an element in the above reasoning which does relate itself to itself. It is the self thinking about itself. The proposition “the self is the relation relating itself to itself” can be thus extended:

12. Firstly, through thought, the self divides itself into thoughts but keeps an indivisible identity, as it bears not the thought that it has more than one identity. The thoughts through which the self relates itself to itself do not change or destroy the primitive thought that the self is indivisible and that all thoughts must be divisible extensions from an indivisible, primitive thought, which is the intellectual core of identity.

13. Secondly, it is true that the self may exist without reasoning, as x is x with or without the awareness that x is. Yet, wherever x cannot think for itself and know what it is, it is I who assume that x is x. In assuming this, the “is” of (x is x) may mislead the observer. It states only that x is an element and that x is whatever it be. But, it states not what x exactly is. Only x itself can know what x is. I only know the manner in which I see x.

14. Thus, let us concern ourselves with a more concrete concept of being: The being of what I am and what thou art. We search not for a Holy Grail, but for the human dimension of existence, based on that particular quality of reasoning which, in myself, relates the self to itself, namely myself thinking about myself. Is the self, then, a relation relating itself to itself? In terms of human existence, the self often acts as (though: acts as ≠ is) such an intellectual operation. Because this is an act of understanding, the self of an individual is, at first, its understanding of itself.

15. It is important to note that, with the name existence, we may refer to three different things. One thing is the fact of existing. If I know my existence, I am aware of the fact that I exist. Another thing is the class of existentiality, or class E. If I enquire what elements belong to existence, it is mainly to the class E that I am referring as existence. Thirdly, there is existence as a generic term for single existing things, which I will call existents or simply ee (from existing elements, while I shall use ee for singular and plural alike). Considering now our object x as an ee, the question as to whether or not existence precede essence refers to existence as the fact ot existing. The fact of existing being different from the fact of non-existing, x exists when it takes place. Wherever x take place, x exists. Conversely, wherever x take place, x exists.

16. Knowing that x exists, we may enquire what it is, and by describing what it is we give that existent a particular character: its essence. Essence characterises any ee. In terms of theoretical contemplation, ee precede essence. I cannot enquire what x is if firstly I know not that x exists. Awareness of essence requires a previous awareness of existence, or at least awareness of identity. Yet, whether essence previously require the fact of existing in absolute terms is a different question. When we become aware of an ee and ascribe essence to it, we do wonder: Does essence add to an ee something that the ee was not before? Or has essence been always intrinsically attached to ee? In the first scenario, essence was not intrinsic and was created by the observer; in the second scenario, it has always been there and was not created, but simply discovered. Be that as it may, the difference between existing and being in modern treatises arose from a shift in the usage of the verb to be, which, other than the Greek εἶναι, is used less and less intransitively. It remains true that the fact of existing is the same as the fact of being, and that if x exist, x is. Yet since the verb to be refers both to the pure fact of being and to the qualified fact of being, one tends to refer to the pure fact of being as the fact of existing or, more vaguely, existence, reserving the verb to be to the qualified fact of being, or essence. Yet, in principle, the use of the verb to exist and its derivative words is dispensable.

17. In the case of inanimate ee, it is easier to assume that the fact of existing and essence are the same thing. We know not exactly what a stone is, yet we look at a stone and describe it. By means of similar descriptions, we become aware of the stone's essence (quality) as its own existence (fact), and vice versa, in one phenomenon. But does human existence have an intrinsic essence? Some were tempted to describe modalities of behaviour as human nature. Many people are evil, so man would be evil by nature. Yet, what x can be is not what x is. Whether good or evil, man can be everything that it is possible to be, and man will be what man wills to be. Thus, the fact of existing presents us with choice. Intrinsic to human existence is not the quality of a choice, but the simple fact that choice is given. Where there is choice there is freedom to choose.

18. Yet, from the fact that freedom is intrinsic to human existence follows not that freedom is the only essence of human existence. One could argue that freedom is inherent in any identified elements. Note that identified elements (ie) or identifiable elements (ie*) can be existing elements (ee) and non-existing elements (ne). If x be an ie, the identity of x is free from the identity of any other elements. Even if x be part of a relation with existing elements, the identity of x takes a particular place, and this place cannot be taken from x without destroying x. Thus, freedom is the place which x takes by means of its mere identity. The freedom of a stone is its distinct identity. The same applies to human freedom. Yet we are able to manifest freedom more ostensibly: because we act. We make use of choice. Through choice, we give existence a particular character, adding essence to it. However, any identified element can be qualified by essence, independent of existence. The white unicorn can be qualified as tame and not exist. Apollo can be deemed perfect and not exist. Therefore, essence does not require existence. Moreover, by saying that an element was identified, we mean simply that it was conceived and ascribed a particular identity, regardless of whether and according to which criterion the identity be true or not true.

19. We must also distinguish between two kinds of essence. Because x cannot have an identity without being free, i.e. independent of all other elements, freedom is the primitive essence of identity. This freedom we share with all elements that can be identified. Yet, because we can make use of choice, we can add a particular character to our existence, transforming primitive essence into derived essence, as this latter essence derives from the use of choice. Therefore, though existence (fact) not precede its primitive essence, existence does precede its derived essence. While freedom pertains to any kind of ee or even ie as its primitive essence, ee require a particular use of freedom in order to create their derived essence. This particular use is ability of choice. It is given to any existents such as us – capable of acting, aware of ourselves and our actions, responsible for choices, and thus differentiated from existents deprived of reason or intellect or life.



*


20. I was getting a load of my smartphone down the road, bro, and I got it in my mind now. This stuff will take over, it will, but I thought to myself, you know: What the hell? That whatsit isn't quite there and we kind of become part of it. I don't know, not my onions, just saying. But actually, man, do such programmes and what-d'you-call-it exist? That's a good quiz indeed! People come out with things like “ugh! we're not living in the real world anymore, it's all run by computers, yeah, just keeping a lid on us!” We get that 24/7, you see, but I don't know. Are we really being driven by virtual bullshit? I mean, it's not about words or who's ruling the roost. There may be a misunderstanding here. What does virtual mean, for heaven's sake? Does it mean not real? Then it's rubbish. I'm just touching my smartphone, look, you can touch your lap-top, too. The hardware is there, isn't it? “Yeah”, they say, “but I mean the software!” But look, the hardware is holding the software, so the software takes its place inside the hardware. Get the message?

21. It's just like a bloke thinking. He must have got a brain if he's a decent guy, mustn't he? Well, the brain will be lodging some thought inside it, too, as if it was software. What? You can't say the thought doesn't exist just because you can't touch it with your mitts. So don't flip out because of software. It does exist. It takes place inside your hardware. It's not a big mouth like us, but it takes some language on board. Come on, bro, it's not Godzilla! It just gets the drift of a bit of language we give it. Actually, it's our language they catch on to, not theirs, like a mirror of words. They don't have a will, they do what they're told to do. They don't think, they just decipher thoughts and show them on someone's hardware, and that's it basically. But exist they do, sure!

22. But how do software, programmes, Internet and what's-its-name exist? I guess they're sort of an extension of our mind, yeah; they make it easy for more people to keep talking and bragging about, like one guy is in China and the other guy in Miami. They don't know each other but they talk to each other or something, whatever. But hang on a second, hang on, let me finish: What they think they're always thinking for themselves, you see, it's not like if their smartphone was thinking for them. I mean, some bros would rather have it this way, I know, but it's not like that. The software, the web and what-the-hell don't think for us, they don't even think with us, they just show what we think, because we told them to do so. It's just that really, it's crazy people give a toss to that.

23. There's no virtual reality, mate, there's just reality. The Web & Co. is a platform with real people networking. What are you talking about? You mean, you're afraid of sort of computers getting like big mouths? I don't think they will. You'd need to cook up some of our thinking cells and get them inside a metal box. Will that work? I mean, it may work one day, but if it does, so what? If shit happens, darling, it's because someone let it happen, and if you don't want it to happen, stand up or shut up. People are so full of what-ifs. But folks, you're not bots, you can stand up for yourselves. True, some goddamn bots are sort of tailing people in their loos with hidden cameras and what have you, that's true, that's very true. The big brother can watch you stroking here and there. But take it easy, my friend! Is it really so surprising? Since time began, any old top brass did whatever they could to know what their folks were doing. Even the Romans would have gone for it if they had the technology. Of course we have something to hide, everybody has. But they just know, dear, they know what you did last summer. If that's an issue for you, join the right party and have a go at them. But wait! We're not talking about surveillance. We're talking about virtual reality and reality. So keep in mind that surveillance is not virtual reality, it's just reality.

24. Now listen: A bot keeping an eye on you is not actually a guy like you. It's still a bot, so he who keeps an eye on you is not the damn bot, it's the top brass. But that's not the issue, the issue is this one here: If some bots become like us, and just like us, what to do then? That's the question. But you know what? I'm just cool, really. Why have cold feet about it? You see, people can kill and do all sorts, but you don't fear people just because they're there. If bots became exactly like humans, then why fear? As if they wouldn't be afraid of us, too! Of course they would, ’cause if they became like us they'd have some kind of aura or funny feelings too. Just figure out in your nut, bro, a bot falling in love with you!

25. What? You mean, they won't feel, they'll just have the intelligence? Come on, man... then they'll be harmless, they'll be like a calculator. I tell you why: It's feelings that make intelligence dangerous, not intelligence itself. Intelligence is cold, it's like maths. It still may have a will of its own, I know, I know. But just think: If there's no feeling, there's no pleasure. If there's no pleasure, there's no purpose for the will to get funny and sort of ambitious, is there? You mean, a sense of duty? No, dear, there's no duty without emotion, ’cause people's duties are the duties they choose to obey, and if they really don't want to obey they won't, no matter the price they'll pay for that. There's always a degree of choice and heart with any old duty. So have a thought about that. If you prove me wrong, you get a pint for free.

26. What's wrong with you? Are you saying that if bots were like us they'd need to be controlled in some way? Just dig it, bro, dig it. If you turn robots into humans, into people like us who think and sort of suffer like us, if you do that, bro, the first thing these new people should do is to get rid of you, of us all! They must! I don't mean they must do for you, it's not that. But if they're equal to us, then, my man, they'll have their rights too. Dignity, dig it, dignity! Now then, what sort of life would they have if you create them to be and feel just like us but wanna have them as slaves? That won't be right! They'll have to stand up for their rights, yeah, and get rid of you to live a decent life, free, thinking and feeling for themselves. Otherwise, what the hell are you doing? You don't want to turn things into real people to have them behaving like things! But anyway, if it's just people you need, just knock up your chick. If you create something human, you can't create a purpose for it, ’cause people are free to create their own purpose. Seeing daylight now?

27. I know, I can hear them saying:

“Yeah yeah, that's true, that's all true, but even if bots don't become real people, their intelligence may become more sophisticated. They'll learn our language and speak like us. You may be talking to someone on the street thinking the guy is real, but the guy's just a bot, you know, it's just weird, it's creepy.”

You know what? That's right, actually. Life and language will become more complex and more confusing. But language is not only about who's talking to you, but even more about what's being said. You don't need to be a real guy to take some language on board. Books have been telling you things for ages and you didn't mind. Just tell me one thing: You buy the book because of the words or because of something else, like the way it looks? It's because of the words, or pics, whatever. It's because of the content, anyway, that you get hold of it. So you'll sort of size the book up from the content, not from the colour of the cover. True or false?

“True!”

28. So it's the message that matters, not the means. The book is just the means. Now what about the talking bot, is that a real person?

“No.”

So it's a thing?

“Yes.”

But if it's a thing, it's like a book then, isn't it?

“I guess it is.”

Well, but then you'll judge it not just from the creepy look of it, but from what that thing is telling you, whether it's true or bullshit, isn't it?

“That's true.”

29. Then there's nothing to worry about things talking like people but still being things.

“No, but it's the control they can have on you, that's the danger!”

Which control, bro? They have no true will. Their will is the will of whoever set them up.

“Yeah, but then they make it easier for us to be controlled.”

I told you before, bloke, it's not the bot's fault. The bot doesn't know what it's doing and what's going on. You need to sort that out with the guys who set up the bots.



*


30. We saw that all elements identified are bound in a common bond of identity, the primitive relation among all elements. The elements conceivable form the class of conceivability, or class C. Within the class C, all elements that we identify as existent are bound to the primitive relation of existentiality. Together, they constitute the class of existentiality, or class E. Yet whether every identifiable element be able to exist, either because it exists and was not identified or because it may arise by randomness although it does not yet exist, is disputable, as we observed earlier. Such a class of all that is able to exist, i.e. the class of existentiability, would be the absolute class, encompassing existence (class E) and the supposed non-existence (class N). Note that existentiality and existentiability are two different names. The class of existentiability, if it be given, cannot be encompassed by any other class. If another class encompassed the class of existentiability, then this would be the absolute class, and so on.

31. Many were tempted to enquire the cause of existence, since the only thing we know is that whatever exist is simply there. In other words: The class E is given. Whether the class E have a particular cause or, while being simply given, be also free of cause and origin, is a question worthy of enquiry, yet difficult to answer.

32. It was noted that, with the name existence, we may refer to three different things. One thing is the fact of existing. Another thing is the class of existentiality, or class E. Thirdly, existence is a generic term for single existing things, or existents (ee). It was also seen that the difference between the notions of existing and being arose from a shift in the usage of the verb to be, which, other than the Greek εἶναι, is used less and less intransitively. The fact of existing is the same as the fact of being. The verb "to be" refers both to the pure fact of being and to the qualified fact of being, yet one tends to refer to the pure fact of being as the fact of existing or, more vaguely, existence, reserving the verb "to be" to the qualified fact of being, called [derived] essence. While referring to being, we need always to clarify whether we are referring to pure being (primitive essence) or qualified being (derived essence). In the following argumentation, I will refer to being mostly as the pure fact of being.

33. The idea according to which existence arises from non-existence has always been a source of disquiet. Simple images appear to suggest such a concept: Light arises where there was no light. Life on earth arose from what was not alive. Should we say that existence arises from non-existence, as if, by natural means, a principle originates from its opposite, i.e. life from death, light from darkness, being from nothingness? Great is the temptation. But are these images really examples of the same phenomenon? Light arises, in fact, after darkness. Arises light also from darkness? Life arose, if empirical observation be of value, both after and indeed from chemical elements deprived of life. But were these elements really the opposite of life, or not rather ingredients which, put together, gave birth to life? Whatever these elements be, if we say that life arises from given elements, we cannot say that life comes from nothing, so that life arising from what is not alive is not an example of existence arising from non-existence, of being coming from nothingness. It is, rather, an example of existence suffering change and continuing to exist. The same applies to darkness: Is it the opposite or, in some way, an ingredient of light? And, if darkness be or contain an ingredient of light, can we still say that darkness exists not, that light comes from nothing?

34. A scent of Parmenides, the poet, pervades my thought: What is cannot not be. What is cannot not have been. Accordingly, neither does existence come from non-existence (in other words, class E would not arise from class N, nor ee from ne), nor does existence arise at all. Existence simply exists. It has no origin in time. Whatever exist has always existed and will always exist. And yet, by agreeing with Parmenides we change a source of disquiet for another one; for, while it displeases reason to believe that what exists can arise from what exists not, it displeases our time-orientated instincts to believe that what exists did not arise from anything, but has always existed and will always exist.

35. Does the class E have a beginning? Immersed in the perception of time, we may not have the means to approach this class in its bareness. Such a class is necessarily free from non-existence. If it be true that what is cannot not be, existence (class E) is not subject to beginning and ending either. It is free from any condition whereby is exists now but not before, or not later. Thus, if the cause of existence be a sort of beginning, as many claim, existence cannot have a cause, since it has no beginning. On the other hand, if it have a beginning and the beginning be the cause, it has no absolute freedom, since it is subject to a beginning.

36. If the class E have no beginning and no end, it can neither arise nor cease, but only change. If therefore, as my friend Eustace believes, there be a powerful Apollo Leschenorius, who through his power orders and interferes with all visible things, this Apollo, together with Zeus and Poseidon, existing as much as any other thing existing, neither created anything nor arose himself from nothing. If Apollo exist, Apollo simply exists with all things, and all things exist not from Apollo, as if the god had created them from nothing, but with Apollo. If Parmenides be right, things exist with each other, transforming, yet not creating each other.

37. This requires a reflection on the class of existentiability. Some might assume that anything is existentiable, either because it exists or because it may arise by randomness. But, of course, if it be true that what is cannot not be, then nothing can simply arise by randomness, as if randomness could create ee from ne. Randomness can, at the most, transform a given set of ingredients into an expression of existence which appeared not to be there before and appears to be something new. This has one or two implications for our understanding of non-existence. If it be true that what is cannot not be, then the opposite is also true: What is not cannot be. It cannot arise and become. Furthermore, what is not cannot have been, and what is not cannot be yet to be. Thus, what exists not is not able to exist.

38. What does this reveal about the class of existentiability? If we assumed it as the absolute class, the class of all that exists and all that exists not, since what exists not yet might still come into existence, a contradiction would be at hand: What exists not can come into existence, said we before, and what is not cannot be yet to be, say we now. This argument is reduced to absurdity. How to amend it, which premise to withdraw?

39. Let us begin with the first premise: If whatever not exist may come into existence, say we not that non-existence may originate existence? We do. But, if non-existence originate existence, then existence loses its absolute freedom, it becomes bound to a causal agent; nay, it requires a cause in order to make it arise. And yet, if we try to discuss the cause of existence, we shall need to enquire, first of all, whether the cause of existence exist or not exist itself. If the cause of existence exist, then existence is not caused, it is only continued and transformed. Why, cause and effect were the same thing otherwise. But, if the cause of existence not exist, is that a cause? It is not. Thus, neither existence nor non-existence can cause existence. Even if we assumed that non-existence is able to cause non-existence, we would imply even then a degree of existence in this phenomenon, because a causal agent would need to act, and how could it act and not exist? Under these premises, reason is barely satisfied with the assumption that what exists not can come into existence. Let us, therefore, withdraw this premise and keep only the other one: What is not cannot be yet to be.

40. We do not know exactly what exists and what exists not. It is therefore necessary to acknowledge a difference between true non-existence and apparent non-existence. While true non-existence is not able to exist, apparent non-existence is well able to exist, because, being only apparent, it does belong to existence and, transformed by randomness, it may yet appear in the form in which we conceive it to be or not to be. In other words: The ingredients of what appears not to exist may exist and, at any point, they may form an expression of existence which we thought would not exist.

41. But we must be careful and amend one more thing: The class of existentiability can no longer be the class of simply all, i.e. of what exists and of what exists not. It is only the class of what exists and of what appears not to exist but exists. What truly exists not cannot be part of existentiability. It is an independent class: the class N. And yet, what truly exists not can still be conceived, and the class of what truly exists (E) and of what truly exists not (N), is the class of identifiability, or conceivability: the class C. In fact, anything is conceivable. Yet this fine distinction between the class of existentiability, or what remains of it, and the class C does not enable us practically to distinguish true non-existence from apparent non-existence, because we know not the full expression of the class E and the class N. The class of existentiability, therefore, appears not to be given as such. Rather, it arises when the unknowing mind creates an intersection between the class E and the class N. This intersection is arbitrary and represents the inability of thought to recognise with certainty what belongs to the class E and to the class N. Although we know that things may truly not exist, we know not which things these are, and, thus, we cannot refute the assumption that anything may exist and that, in pragmatic terms, anything is likely to exist. Conversely, because we do not know what exists not, knowing only what appears not to exist, we are not in a position to make any statement about what truly exists not.

42. Existents (ee) can be transformed, and anything that can transform existents is a power. A power is sometimes endowed with will, as the complex power of the human mind. But often, power is not endowed with intelligence or will, as the simple or primitive power seen in the mechanics of matter. This simple power may transform simple parts of existence. Note that, here, I am referring to existence as the complete set of all material elements, or the set M (matter), adding a fourth meaning to the name existence. The set M is encompassed by the class E. By saying simple parts, we are referring to the simplest parts to which matter can be reduced, i.e. matter in its point of irreductibility. Now, simple powers may lead simple parts to behave in a regular pattern, and this pattern may serve as a source of scientific knowledge. Yet other than existence (class E and set M as part of it), which cannot not have been, a particular transformation of existence, simple or complex, must have a beginning. But, because a transforming power of any sort exists and therefore existed before the transformation, the beginning of transformation occurs by chance, since the transforming power has no will and therefore no intention to begin any transformation. Randomness is the means through which a simple power manifests itself by starting transformation. Any simple power may initiate transformation at any time. By chance, it may alter the course of an electron in a way we would not expect, and what would follow we know not.

43. Simple powers take part in existence (set M) and manifest themselves in existence, with existence, through existence. Such powers order existing elements (ee) in a way that, though nothing be created, new expressions of existence may arise by the fortuitous combination of ingredients. By chance, and through transformation, a simple power may give rise to derived power, endowed with differentiated qualities. Bertrand Russell may have had a low opinion of speculations, and probably for the right reason. But, where the man of the 20th century sees only the unfruitfulness of metaphysics, we should try to discuss the relevance of possibilities; this little note may be important here, where we begin to follow a highly speculative path, not knowing exactly the realities that our words describe, looking for the probable, to use an expression from Timaeus. It is evident that, while referring to power, we are not dealing with an element of natural sciences. Scientific verification belongs to a later stage and to another enquiry. But, if there be no power of randomness to transform existence (set M), what transforms it then? I shall simply assume, at first, that there is, in some way, a fortuitous power able to transform existence. I shall also assume that, as a logical matter, if a power belong to the class E, and if a power may transform things belonging to the class E, a power may become itself an object of transformation and be changed from a simple into a complex power.

44. Another question arises when we try to discuss the character of a power, which is here a simple, primitive power: Is simple power an entity which takes place in physical reality, even if in an extremely quintessential form, or mean we, by saying power, simply the free space which randomness leaves for existence to transform itself fortuitously? We shall see. If power be only the free space which randomness leaves, we must assume that, when an electron makes free use of such a space suddenly to alter its course in a fully unpredicted way, then the electron itself would be the source of a beginning of transformation and therefore nothing else than power according to our definition. But since we know that the electron had been following its route for a long time in the way expected, an unpredicted, unprecedented and unexplained change of course would appear less plausible than the possibility that the sudden change of course manifests, not the electron itself, in a display of what would be a degree of choice and will, but a power simpler than the electron which, being unpredictable and unexplainable in its very nature, forced the electron to alter its route.

45. One would almost think that, in this case, the existence of our physical reality may be altered and transformed into something completely different, unexpected and unprecedented, and this in a single moment. Such freedom must be granted to the randomness of simple powers. And yet, through the very manifestation of simple powers, existing elements can be transformed into more or less resistant systems, and such could be the atomic system where the electron from above continues to display its beauties and oddities. In such systems, the interaction of elements may achieve a level of co-operation such as to resist, to some extent, the arbitrary incursions of any simple power, which resistance therefore would have transformed matter into something complex, into a system indeed, relatively immune to simple powers, so that this system, once formed, could no longer be totally dissolved or transformed against its own mechanics, or at least not easily transformed. A simple power is not of such kind that it might be able suddenly to make a dog or a cow appear out of primitive ingredients. We should rather assume that, fortuitously, small transformations take place, and that simple derived elements, fortuitously combined, amount to more and more complex compounds. Complexity, on its part, may form concrete sets of elements, and, again, sets of elements may develop their own dynamics and become programmes or self-programmed and self-programming systems, i.e. autonomous compounds functioning according to regular patters, relatively resistant to external interference. Such systems are not able to destroy or surpass a simple power in its randomness, but through their relative immunity they may become themselves complex powers, i.e. powers derived from simple powers and able to begin more resistant, complex transformations, such as the atomic system, which may give rise to a micro-cosmos, and this to a micro-universe, and this to a macro-cosmos, and this to a macro-universe, and this to further complexity and so on. Together, all these universes will amount to the set M.

46. Am I stating that the simple gives rise to the complex? If we consider an electron and a planet, we do not tend to think that the planet developped the electron, but that the electron developped the planet, and we think not that the planet is part of the electron, but that the electron is part of the planet. Thus, it is the electron that institutes and forms the planet and not the planet that institutes the electron, so that the planet derives from the electron. Because a compound is reducible to simple parts, simple parts may form a compound. But a simple part is so simple that it is no longer reducible to anything else, and therefore nothing else can form such a simple part, this simple part being matter in its point of irreductibility. This would mean that the complex cannot give rise to the simple.

47. What happens, however, if the planet disintegrate? Will it not give rise to electrons? In fact, it will not, because giving rise would imply that the electrons were not there before the planet was formed, while in fact the electrons are anterior to the planet. Yet the planet was not there before the electrons and their atoms formed it, so that we may say that the electrons indeed gave rise to the planet. If it be true that the simple gives rise to the complex, living elements must have arisen from non-living elements, which are simpler than living elements. Intelligent elements must have come from non-intelligent elements, which are simpler than intelligent elements. Finally, complex powers, which may be endowed with life, intelligence or reason, must derive from simple powers, which lack life, intelligence and reason. But simple powers could not derive from complex powers.

48. That reminds me, of course, of my poor friend Eustace, the poet, and of his relation with Apollo, the converser. It is an established fact that certain matters of speculation should not concern a serious spirit, especially the man who is waiting for an academic favour: He is in greater need of measuring his words. But, as we are under close friends here, I may speak, as it were, entre nous, and I will certainly take my poet's concerns into consideration, both for the love of my friends and for the love of truth. Now the poet's concern, that it may be known, is the following: Where is Apollo in all that reasoning? Is it possible, asks my friend, that such a god exist? Judging from our reflection on power hitherto, it is possible to include god-like entities into the notion of power. My friend, however, will need to make one or two concessions on his understanding of the divine.

49. Let me please explain what I mean: If it be true that the simple gives rise to the complex, that therefore simple power can give rise to complex power, and that, if we apply this principle, non-intelligence gives rise to intelligence, since non-intelligence is simpler than intelligence – if all this be true, simple powers may combine simple parts into an expression of existence which, with some help of randomness, may amount to a complex power endowed with intelligence. Once intelligence is formed, primitive intelligence, such as the simple ability of computation, may be transformed into more complex forms of intelligence so that, eventually, will and sensibility may arise. Such a complex intelligence, being also a complex power, would be able to start transformations by its own will. Do my words sound too speculative? I am sure they do. And yet, we cannot say that intelligence cannot arise, because we exist and we possess intelligence. And we cannot say that all intelligence must have always existed, because we know that humankind has not always existed, although humankind possesses intelligence. Thus, we must assume that our intelligent existence is derived from a non-intelligent expression of existence.

50. But, because we only know intelligence in the particular frame of our own existence, we cannot say whether any form of intelligence exist outside this frame known to us. We may assume as probable, however, that simple powers, being able to transform existence (ee) into more expressions than we know, may well be able to form intelligence, will and sensibility outside our animal frame. By chance, they may combine unintelligent ingredients of intelligence and thereby give rise to an independent will, endowed with transforming power, or to compounds which may develop in themselves an independent will. Such a will, being also power and, by means of its complex intelligence, aware of its own identity and freedom, may begin transformations according to a particular plan. This plan may be devised in such a way as to resist the randomness of simple powers as much as possible. A cosmos may arise, in which this complex power will make use of its freedom by performing its chosen plan. However, because the complex power will be endowed with intelligence, will and sensibility, its sterile freedom is a source of anguish. The complex power is therefore condemned, by its own existential condition, to conceive a transforming plan, which will give a purpose to the existence of this – shall we say: divine? – element. In the apparent nothingness of darkness, this power gathers the scattered ingredients of light and lets there be light.

51. The first concession my friend Eustace should make here begins with the origin of intelligence. If intelligent existence derive from non-intelligent existence, a complex power of divine dimension could not form intelligence from its own intelligence, as if it could create, out of dust, a dog, a cow and a man endowed with reason. It would rather start smaller transformations that eventually would amount to life, intelligence and reason.

52. Whether such a complex power be closer to the idea of Zeus and Poseidon, as my friend hopes, or closer to the nóos of the Stoic masters, I know not. What I know is that a complex power of such kind, even if it be able to conceive a plan for its particular cosmos, transforming this cosmos into a system highly resistant to the randomness of simple powers and fulfilling therein its existential plan, this complex power, as I said, is not all-mighty in such a way that it could surpass simple powers and simply destroy randomness. It may well become immune to randomness and behave inside its universe as the mightiest element, so that, in pragmatic terms, it would be all-mighty. But this powerful element would not be all-mighty in absolute terms, and this is the second concession that my friend, the poet Eustace, should make.

53. My poetic fellow, being so attached to Apollo the converser, may rather suppose that his Zeus is as old as existence (class E) itself, nay even anterior to existence. If it be so, Zeus would have caused existence, but as he himself must exist, he would not have caused, but only continued, existence. But, at least, Zeus could be existence in its highest expression, the only source of all transformations, simple and complex. Then Zeus would be a complex power creating simple power. And yet, it is the simple that gives rise to the complex and not the complex that gives rise to the simple, because the complex could be disintegrated into the simple, but the simple could not be disintegrated into the complex. Thus, neither is Zeus a creator of existence nor does his complex power give rise to simple powers.

54. Returning now to powers as such, we assumed before that power is anything that is able to transform existence, and that transformations take place randomly, at first by simple powers, i.e. powers devoid of life, intelligence and reason, free from any form of complexity. Please remember: We discussed also non-existence as much as to conclude that what exists not, cannot have existed or be yet to exist. We saw that, although some things may truly not exist, we know not which things these are. And yet, putting these statements together with our reflections on power, we should ask again whether it be possible that a thing truly not exist and even must not exist. Non-existence does not take place, because it exists not. But, if it be necessarily impossible that a certain thing exist, the place which this thing would have taken must be made free from any form of existence, so that nothingness would occur in its place. In this case, because nothingness would occur, nothingness would exist and therefore belong to the class E. Yet, is it possible that nothingness manifest itself by simply being there and therefore existing? This is a problem. Nothingness either exists or exists not. If it not exist, existence takes place everywhere and everywhere is filled with existence. And yet, because in this case nothingness exists not, there would be one thing that exists not and makes existence in its totality incomplete. Hence, we would have to assume that nothingness exists. Yet, if nothingness exist, it must occur in such a place where not even a simple power could exist or enter. And, because simple powers manifest themselves by randomness, the place of nothingness would be a place where not even randomness can exist. But in order for neither randomness nor simple powers to exist, there must be a thing preventing them from existing. And yet, because this thing would necessarily exist, this thing would be necessarily the end of nothingness and probably a power itself. In the face of such a problem, we should conclude that, where randomness may take place, there is no place for nothingness and non-existence, because randomness can reveal existence where it appeared not to be; and, even where randomness may not take place, there is no place for nothingness and non-existence either, because only existence could resist randomness in such a way that randomness might not take place.

55. One could think of a further problem, regarding the simple. If the complex derive from the simple, could not one say that existence must derive from non-existence, which is simpler than existence? This would be a fallacy, because what exists not, can be neither simple nor complex. But if, as some suggest, a being can be perfect without existing, a being can be simple without existing, too. If this be true, and if the complex derive from the simple, existence would necessarily derive from non-existence, since existence is complex and non-existence is simple. Does this make sense? A being can be conceived as perfect and not exist and a being can be conceived as simple and not exist, because a being can simply be conceived. And yet, non-existence is not a being and therefore cannot be conceived as a being and cannot be conceived with the attributes that only an identified element could have, whether it exist or not exist. Thus, non-existence (fact) cannot be simple.

56. If a being can be perfect without existing, the possibility of non-existence is assumed as obvious. Yet, is it so obvious that non-existence may take place? It is not: When we say that a being exists not, we say that the idea of the same being exists. Should we therefore distinguish between ideal existence and real existence? We may. But then, we would need to define the border between idea and reality. And yet, we know not whether idea and reality be totally different (or even opposed), or whether they belong to the same truth of existence but in different expressions. I may put it in a way that will displease one or two but is worth mentioning, only entre nous: Whether in thought or in concrete matter, ideas take place somewhere, and whatever take place exists. But how do ideas take place? Either exist ideas as pure speculation of mind, or ideas exist as simple parts, a mass of such subtleness as we would not associate with concrete reality, but indeed as matter, reduced to a simplicity greater than the simplicity we know in matter so far. And yet, if ideas be simple parts, they may be simple powers as well if we consider the images they can evoke. Because powers transform existence and human thought exists and ideas transform human thoughts by simply occurring, ideas can count as powers. We are dealing with a set of existing elements that does not belong to the set M, which comprises the concrete existence of matter. Rather, we are dealing with abstract elements of matter which would amout to the set of abstract existing elements, or set A, so that the class E comprises, so far, the set M and the set A, encompassing concret and abstract matter (intellect).

57. But what say we, by stating that ideas may be speculation of mind? Either ideas exist or ideas exist not. If they not exist, they cannot occur in mind. Conversely, if they occur in mind, they do exist, as they are able to take place, and whatever take place exists. And, if ideas exist and existence cannot be caused, ideas exist before they occur in thought. Otherwise, thought would be the cause of ideas, while in truth neither thought nor ideas can have a cause if they exist. They simply interact. They transform each other as mutual powers and take place in each other.

58. By thought, I mean not a particular idea, but our general ability of thinking, which as a power belongs to the set A. Now, because thought occurs in mind, thought takes place and exists. Where does thought take place? We say that there is thought, thus thought is there. But where is there? Do a thought and a stone occur in different places, as if a thought and a stone were two different existences requiring different spaces to occur? It may be. But, if a thought and a stone differ, in what way differ they? Should we say that the stone exists more than the thought? There are no degrees of half-existence. All existing things are equal in existence, and the place which existence takes is existence itself. We must not say that a thought and a stone are two different natures of existence for which there must be two different places. A thought and a stone are simply existing things, built from the same simple parts and transformed by different powers into different elements – in the same place. The elements of set M and set A, if they truly exist, must differ in their expression but not in their nature, since they interact and affect each other.

59. If ideas be only speculations of thought and if a stone exist “more” than a thought, as many claim, we still must agree that existence (ee) can be transformed. But, even here, because existence can be transformed, a simple power may start transformations which, fortuitously, may lead to a concretisation of the idea, so that the idea, then, would exist “more” than it existed before. Through transformation, an ee can migrate from the set A to the set M, as if A and M were quintessential states of matter. Whether or not we agree on the existence of ideas, we may always become aware of “real” things that confirm or at least correspond to an idea deemed impossible at first. Existence (set A) bears in itself all ideas, as well as the power randomly to concretise any idea. Yet no ee from the set A can create an idea which did not exist before. Elements from the set A cannot be created or caused, but only grasped by and combined with each other. Ideas, therefore, have always existed, and here we face the problem that the whole class of conceivability (class C) would then exist as an object of the set A, which should be regarded rather as a class A. Apparently, anything conceivable not only exists but already existed before being conceived, or rather identified, grasped by the intellect. It seems indeed that any idea can bear existence. Yet we should be careful with the idea of non-existence. If non-existence existed, it would cease to be non-existence. Existence cannot bear the concretisation of non-existence. But since the idea of non-existence exists and any idea may be concretised, the possibility of concretising the idea of non-existence shows that what we call non-existence cannot be totally opposed to existence, but is rather a different kind of existence. Because existence can bear all ideas, nothing can be prevented from existing. But if there be a relation between existence and truth, so that what exists is true and the opposite not true, and if all ideas bear existence, are they all also true? If all are true, what is to be called untrue and how can anything be untrue? If truth be the knowledge of the identity of things as they are, ignorance is the lack of such knowledge. It may be the case, however, that the object of truth as knowledge is not the question as to whether things exist, since apparently everything exists, but rather the question of how things exist. An untruth is therefore not a statement about an element that exists not, but rather that does not exist in the way stated. Truth is not the knowledge of what exists, but of how it exists.

60. Since truth considers not whether but how things are, we should consider attributes more carefully. Attributes belong to the category of abstractions within the class A, and we should call abstractions such ideas whose concretisation is not bound to take any form in particular. It is indeed so because abstractions take place, at first, in thought and because it is thought that decides where and how abstractions take place. Consequently, the perception of abstractions differs from individual to individual. When we see a stone, we are not likely to differ on whether or not the stone be there, or at least that we believe to see a stone. But, when we ask whether or not the stone be beautiful, opinions will differ, every observer judging according as he or she may conceive something beautiful to be and to express itself. Attibutes do not need concretisation. Perfection may be no explicit attribute of any ee in the set M, and yet this does not prevent the set or class A (which belongs to the class E) from containing the idea and the possibility of concretisation for this or any other atribute. Also concepts belong to the class of abstractions. Other than attributes, which explicitly refer to different elements (as beautiful, in our example, refers to a stone), concepts refer to themselves. Love is a concept. And yet, because concepts are still abstractions, opinions will differ as to the definition of concepts as much as they do with regard to attributes. If we were to say that love is beautiful, an abstract concept and an abstract attribute would share in the same sentence and would lack an objective definition.

61. I am bound to include a parenthesis at this point, for the sake of my friend. Is it not amusing that, by coincidence, we should stumble on “the beauty of love” again? We must agree that, in this day and age, concepts have a sad lot, for philosophy will not greatly concern itself with “the beauty of love”. Why, what is beauty and what is love? The uncertainty of concepts is a vexation for analytic philosophy. “The beauty of love”, says the philosopher, is a frivolity only worth a boisterous poet. Yet, for a similar reason, the poet of our age does not wish himself to be concerned with “the beauty of love”. Why, concepts require definitions and definitions are not the task of poetry. I must say, Eustace would feel quite ashamed of writing about “the beauty of love”. As a poet, claims he, I am a man of metaphors. He will suggest a feeling rather than define a concept. Thus, also the poet will refuse to treat “the beauty of love” and will leave it to philosophy. Or, should they both strive for a dialogue? They could, but my friend's attempt to address an illustrious professor failed. Unfortunately, the paid erudite was in a bad mood when my friend called in. Relegated as it is from all sides, “the beauty of love” has a sad lot to bear indeed, and as I will not venture myself to define it, let everybody judge “the beauty of love” as he wishes.

62. Be that as it may, one is tempted to ask, again, how abstractions exist. Whatever exist, say we, takes place. There is it and it is there. Yet, if abstractions take place and be there, what means it to be there and where is there? I gladly repeat myself: Is the stone there in the same way that “the beauty of love” is there? It depends on what the observer understands as space, because the word “there” refers to some place in space. Yet, before we discuss what may be worth being called space, allowing existence to exist where there be space and not allowing it otherwise, let us ask at first how space itself exists. Why, if space be something other than existence and yet an element required for existence to take place, then we must say that space exists not and yet is there in some way, because a necessary condition for something existing must exist itself. And yet, existence does not agree with non-existence as if a thing could exist, but not be there or be there but not exist. Thus, if space be a necessary condition for existence, space and existence must be the same thing. And, if this be true, we cannot speak of any hierarchy of space which would accredit the space taken by a stone with being more legitimate than the space taken by “the beauty of love”, or the space taken by the number 237. Once a concept arises, there is not such a thing as there being no space in existence for it. It exists. It had always existed and simply manifested itself in thought.

63. Let us dwell upon this last proposition for a second, or rather two. Saying that concepts have always existed, mean we to say that ideas are anterior to their occurrence in mind? This appears to disagree with the material perception of things and thoughts. Take “the white unicorn” as an example. “The white unicorn” is in no way an abstraction, neither as an attribute nor even as a concept because its concretisation must take quite a particular form. “The white unicorn” is a concrete entity. And yet, because we have no proper account of its concretisation, “the white unicorn” is a missing entity. Now we tend to think that, if an idea only occur in thought (such as the idea of a missing entity), then it takes no place, or at least no place of its own, but it is placed “inside” thought. We think that, if an idea not occur independently, i.e. “outside” thought, then it takes no real place. But is that true? Since existence itself is space and existence is real, ideas exist and take place in space and are real. We should not approach existence with geographical pretensions. Is there such a thing as “inside” and “outside” thought? If existence and space be the same thing, there is no near and far and within and without limiting existence, but whatever exist exists everywhere. It may be perceived in a particular place only, and yet it exists everywhere. How else? If existence were not allowed to exist in a particular place, there must be something preventing existence form existing, but such a preventing element would need to exist itself. Consequently, existence cannot be prevented from taking place. Existence must take place everywhere. The idea of a missing entity occurs in a particular place because it may occur everywhere and will occur randomly at particular places, which an observer may regard as near and far and within and without, but which are the same place inasmuch as everywhere is the same place in existence. Therefore, “the white unicorn” exists in thought as much as it exists and may occur everywhere. It may occur in thought. And it may occur in what we call matter if a fortuitous power start transformations which will lead to the concretisation of the idea.

64. Abstractions exist. Existence (class E) knows a place for them and their attributes and concepts. Yet, follows from the distinction between abstract existence (class A) and concrete existence (set M) a duality in existence? I spoke of existence “in thought” and existence “in matter” in the above paragraph. This is less accurate. Existence may be divided into modalities in order better to please observation and reasoning, and yet existence cannot be but one phenomenon and not two or three, as if existence could be added to or subtracted from existence, as if “thought” and “matter” were two distinct spaces of existence never touching each other, nay excluding each other. If existence be one phenomenon, all manifestations of this phenomenon must be reducible to the same principle, so that, without any doubt, what we call “thought” must be a modality of matter, however quintessential, and conversely, what we call “matter” must be a modality of thought. In existence, the concrete and the abstract cannot but be the same thing. And yet, a fear of insanity pervades my mind the very instant I write this. Have we considered the implications and the amount of problems and paradoxes arising from such a proposition? Why, if abstractions such as “the beauty of love” and the number 237 be a sort of matter, and if it be true what we read above about powers, then nothing could prevent a fortuitous power to start transformations, leading to what would be the material concretisation of the most abstract attributes and concepts. One day, we may stumble on two little dwarfs in the New Forest waving at us and crying: “Hi, guys, I am the beauty of love, yeah, and here's my younger sister, number 237. Say hello to the guys, 237! What d'you mean, dear? What are you talking about? No, it's not as if the beauty of love was just my name and I was something else, but I am indeed the beauty of love as such, it's my very identity. And 237 is not just the label of my sister here, no, she's nothing else than the number 237 itself, that's all she's about!”

65. That would be quite an intriguing scenario. To meet personally the concretisation of a number and a concept may be worth one or two walks into the woods. It would surprise many who believe that “the beauty of love” and the number 237 only exist as products of our faculties of sensibility and computation respectively. And yet, I do not exclude such a scenario categorically. We may not understand how certain abstractions can be concretised, but this allows not the conclusion that certain concretisations must be impossible. Because we deal with abstractions through our limited faculties of reason, computation, sensibility etc., we must allow for the shortcomings of these faculties and the regular paradoxes which arise from that.

66. Protagoras will kindly remind us of his humana mensura: Man is the measure of knowledge. One should not speculate on what cannot be understood by human means. We all agree on that. But because we know not exactly the extent of human means and the capability of thought excited by the urge of investigation, we should not stop speculating and investigating for fear of losing the measure, as through the constant exercise of reason an idea which is now deemed metaphysical, unverifiable or simply wrong may lead to the truth eventually. Protagoras might not have considered the physical knowledge of this our time to be within human measure.

67. If also abstractions be, as I wrote above, a modality of matter, and if it be true that the complex derives from the simple as stated earlier, are abstractions such as numbers simple or complex? Being simple, how simple are they? Being complex, whence derive they? Let us suppose, for instance, that numbers are complex parts. Let us suppose numbers derive from something simpler, i.e. from the mere ability of computation, from intelligence, whereas intelligence, being more complex than non-intelligence, would necessarily derive from non-intelligence. In this scenario, it is the constant exercise of our computing ability that will give rise to numbers in our intelligence. If we suppose, on the other hand, that numbers are simple parts, it is numbers that will give rise to the ability of computation. In such a scenario, intelligence derives from numbers and is therefore more complex than numbers. We enquire nothing else as whether we should deal with numbers or with computation as the primitive element.

68. Whatever the answer to this question be, if we understand numbers as deriving from computation, we still cannot claim that computation exists only in human intelligence, because we know not the extent of intelligence outside our little world and our limited measure. We might still think of a scenario where a kind of computation, not necessarily “divine”, but anterior to ours, gave rise to the complex idea of numbers. This idea could then either have become resistant to its simple origin and given rise to further complex forms of computation and intelligence such as human, or a fortuitous power assembled it with other concepts to form intelligence. Numbers would then belong to the simplest parts of human thought, representing thought in its point of irreducibility. This is a possible scenario. And yet, if this power of computation gave rise to the idea of numbers, could it not count before? And if it could not count, could it not be counted by other intelligent powers?

69. Be that as it may, because existence cannot be caused, we cannot say that numbers or computation were caused by one or the other, created as if they had not existed before, but both will have always existed together. And, if in a certain place one appeared to be anterior to the other, this other one was present in its potentiality, because the ingredients that would form it existed everywhere. Both concrete and abstract existence have their distinct ingredients. However, these ingredients are transformations from the same original ingredients of existence as one phenomenon.



*


70. Hey, bloke, why are you sitting in the cold here like gaga? Gosh, you've just rubbernecked at me like a frightened sheep! What's going on? I bet that girl cheated on you again. Is that it?

“I've just been thinking.”

About what?

“Forget it, mate, it's crazy. You'll just laugh at me.”

Come on! Let me sit down by your side, yeah, feels better now! Just let me know it all and I'll help you, you'll feel even better afterwards.

71. “Well, I don't know. I was thinking about the chicken.”

What?

“And the egg!”

You mean...

“...which came first.”

Ha, you make me laugh. Are you joking? You're not telling me you've been sitting here for hours thinking bullocks. You're taking the piss. My, the way you look at me! But why think about that? I don't think you'll know better at the end of the day.

“But I do!”

Man alive, you make me doubt my ears! Tell me, then: Which came first?

72. “Now listen, listen quick before I lose my train of thought again. Excuse my French, but if you say the chicken came first, it's rubbish because the chicken came from an egg, so the egg must have been there before, true? But of course, if you say the egg came first, it's just the same shit again because the egg is there after some chicken laid it, true or false? True! Well then, that's it, and I don't like it. I like to sit down and think about a problem until I come up with a sort of solution for it. That's the way I deal with things. The farthest I came so far is something like that. Listen: If the chicken came from the egg and the egg came from the chicken, then it's pretty clear they belong together, like they cannot be without each other. They're just the same thing and the one came together with the other. Yeah, no one is older than the other. There isn't such a shit as chicken and egg, but the egg's the chicken and the chicken's the egg.”

Well, I don't really want to get into that now, it's quite cold here, outside. But yes, I think you got something of it. The chicken and the egg belong to each other as if they were the same thing, but only as if. You won't mind me saying one or two things about that, will you? Not that I give a toss about that, I'm just thinking, just thinking about the biology of the whole. I mean, whoever came first, the egg and the chicken came from some odd ancestor in nature, isn't it? And actually, the ancestor is the origin of them both, isn't it? Which came first, then? Well, their common ancestor came first. It's real weird, but it's true!

73. “Hang on a second, hang on! You're not trying to tell me that's the answer to the problem, are you? That's a load of rubbish and I tell you why. The question is not whether the egg and chicken have a common ancestor. Of course they have, everything has an ancestor, a cause of some sort. The question is still which came first, regardless of the ancestor.”

There's no answer that won't lead to the ancestor, mate. You're looking for a cause, aren't you? So the cause must be the ancestor, and the only question now is if the ancestor kind of came up with the egg or with the chicken first. Get it now?

“But then it's still the same thing, you animal. There must have been a transition between the ancestor and the chicken and egg, so we still don't know which came first in the transition. It could be the egg and it could be the chicken.”

74. You're oversimplifying things a bit, aren't you? As if the ancestor didn't lay eggs himself, or herself I should say! So the problem is just sort of inherited, yeah. It starts with the bloody ancestor and we don't know which came first, the egg of the ancestor or the ancestor itself.

“Wait! If you say the ancestor laid eggs, then the egg came first and only then the chicken, because the eggs that the ancestor laid were already eggs, while the ancestor himself was not yet a chicken. Cripes! It's the egg that came first!”

Who's saying that? That's your assumption, and you may be talking through your ass again, of course you may! There's no other way of putting it, because you are saying that the chicken and the ancestor are different as if the eggs were the same, but you don't know anything about that. You don't know if the eggs are the same, or if the chicken's egg is the chicken's egg and the ancestor's egg is the ancestor's egg. You're taking two different things for the same thing. And again, even if the eggs are the same, who told you that the chicken is really something different from the ancestor? I'm not sure about that. I mean, not that I'm giving a shit to it, just saying, don't know.

75. “I see where you're coming from. But then, the only thing we need to do is to follow the genealogy of the whole, the ancestor's ancestors and so on until, at one point, we have only the egg or only the ancestor. You see what I mean? Because then, if at one point the egg disappears and we keep tracing ancestors, we'll know that the ancestors came first. Oh dear, but what if the eggs do not disappear?”

What I know is this: The chicken can live on its own, I mean, it comes from an egg but it can live without the eggs. The egg is different. It comes from the chicken and sort of can't stand without the chicken, just empty. An egg without a chicken is not a proper egg. But a chicken without an egg is still a proper chicken. It's like the woman and the womb. The womb can't exist without the woman, but the woman can exist without the womb. It won't change anything if the animal comes direct from the womb, or if the womb first kind of wraps an egg around the baby and then gets rid of the egg. You see? The woman can live without the womb, so the woman came first. The chicken can live without the egg, so the chicken came first. Whatever can do without the other came first. Whatever depends on something else will come from what it depends.

“Rubbish! I can't do without food, but food can do without me. Does it mean that food came first? Gosh, but that's true. If there hadn't been food before, I and my parents and my ancestors wouldn't even have been born. Food is sort of a condition for life. The chicken is a condition for the egg. Oh no, I was wrong, they didn't come at the same time. Or perhaps they did, oh yes, hang on, hang on! By the time the chicken became the chicken, the ancestors had already started producing eggs, so there can't be a chicken without an egg.”

76. Are you sure about that? I mean, you weren't so sure when I said that the chicken's ancestors laid eggs. Maybe the chicken's womb started producing eggs only later. I can't quite figure out the biology of that, but you can't just say the chickens have always laid eggs.

“But come on, man, even if that's true, that was before humankind, so since we remember time, chicken and egg were together. Let's be practical, it's really as if they had always existed together, sort of completing each other.”

Just for the sake of human experience. But I thought you were looking for the very solution of the problem and for the very solution you need to look into the ancestors and what came before humankind, there's no way around it.

“But then look around yourself. All birds lay eggs, some fishes do so and so do most reptiles. They say we came from some reptiles leaving water and settling on earth. So these reptiles probably laid eggs, too. They say even dinosaurs laid eggs! So eggs would be for animal life what seeds are for plants. Eggs are sort of seeds of animal life as old as animal life.”

Hmm, sounds like bad poetry. But life goes back to protozoa, doesn't it? Well, protozoa don't lay eggs. So, my friend, the chicken came first. I mean, the very primitive ancestor of all life we know didn't lay eggs. That's quite a thing, isn't it? Regardless of what form of life you're looking at, eggs came later and life as such can do without eggs. I read somewhere that the complex comes the simple or something. It's just as if the egg was something complex coming from some simpler stuff.

77. “Yeah, but you see, the ingredients of what would become an egg were there even before they were combined. You can't just say the ingredients came from nothing.”

I'm not saying that. But have these ingredients always been there or did they come from some other stuff?

“If they came from another stuff, this other stuff will be then another ingredient and one ingredient will lead to another. At the end of the day, my friend, you'll find some ingredients that must always have been there. Again, you can't say the ingredients came from nothing.”

I'm not saying that in any way. I just heard you say before that everything has a cause of some sort. But, if these ingredients of eggs, of life, of being, of whatever, if they've always been there, do they have a cause?



*


78. I should not touch the question as to whether and to which extent gods exist, not even for the sake of my friend Eustace. Why, if I tried to defend that God exists, my erudite friends would no longer invite me to dinner, and if I were to deny God's existence, defenders of the faith would cross my name from the book of prayers. But it may relieve the passionate souls to know that my concerns are petty. I shall only speculate on minor matters.

79. It is a sad gift of the mind to add much imprecision to concepts already abstract. For even knowing what existence is, it would require great effort to define God, evil or even “the beauty of love”, especially if we appreciate logical necessity. And yet, the fear of imprecision shall not discourage our literary arbitrariness.

80. We assumed that the self exists and that existence cannot be caused, for if the cause of existence exist, existence is continued but not caused, otherwise it will cause what is already there. Existence can be transformed and will contain what we called powers as agents of transformation. Here, a first source of disquiet arises:

81. The idea of an agency which creates what was not there before appears somewhat odd in this scenario. If a thing may be created from nothing, this thing will be either something or nothing. If it be nothing, it was not created. If it be something and it was nothing before, it must still be nothing, unless nothingness had the power to create it. And yet, if nothingness had the power to create something, then nothingness would be something. Thus, what is something now must derive from what was something before. It is not possible that nothingness create something and that something create nothingness.

82. That the self cannot create its own existence appears to be a matter of consensus. Existence is already given before the self may become aware of itself. An anterior element was transformed and gave rise to another expression of existence. A transforming agent, an intermediate power, is there, and we know nothing concrete about it. We know not whether it be intelligent, non-intelligent, fortuitous, deliberate. What we know is this: One is suddenly born; and once the self becomes aware of its existence, it cannot cancel the fact that it exists. That reminds of little Pip. The self may well give itself a derived essence in order to understand itself, but this is a personal act.

83. Some believers assume that one cannot understand oneself if one not understand God and his relation to one. But, as I do not know what God is, and as I will not consider any revelation at this point, I must enquire what is said about God instead of what God is. It is a widespread use to portray God as all-mighty, all-good and all-knowing. And yet, we should strive for a little agreement between this assumption and our conclusions so far:

84. If it be true that what is cannot not be, no power may turn what is into what is not, or what is not into what is. The class E can be neither caused nor destroyed. If an all-mighty power exist, however, it must be able to destroy the class E. Moreover, by doing so, either will this power thereby destroy itself or it will continue to be. If the power destroy itself and cease to be, it will cease to be all-mighty, for what is not cannot be all-mighty. On the other hand, if the power continue to be, existence will not be fully destroyed because the power still exists, and therefore the power will prove unable to destroy existence altogether.

85. We may well doubt whether any power can be all-mighty. Why, a power can be mighty. It can be mightier than others. It may start transformations and be the mightiest element, the ruler in the set derived from such transformations. But it appears not possible that a power may simply destroy the class E.

86. The transformations set by a complex power may lead to a cosmos, a more or less autonomous system able to resist randomness. The complex power would be an intermediary between randomness and the system it formed. Although no power can destroy randomness, the complex power tries to lead its system to relative immunity against randomness, following a particular plan. The fulfilment of the plan will fulfil the system – and the power.

87. Whether or not we call it a god, a complex power of some kind presides over the system where our expression of existence takes place. But let us insist on the question of all-might: From the fact that a god as a creative power is the mightiest in his creation, or at least mightier than we are, we should not conclude that the god is all-mighty, and this for the following reasons:

88. Firstly, since existence can be neither caused nor destroyed, there cannot be such a power as simply created all things from nothing. Secondly, there is a difference between the cosmos that a complex power may create and the entire class E. If a complex power be the mightiest in its system, it is not necessarily mighty beyond it. Even in its own system, no power is powerful enough to destroy randomness altogether, inasmuch as the very simple powers of existence arise from randomness. If there had not been randomness from the very beginning (a beginning which in fact existence lacks), there would not be any power. If therefore evil or sorrow or something else appear to cast a gloom over God's power, as some say, this is a consequence of all that is intrinsic to existence, and nothing is more intrinsic to existence than randomness and freedom.

89. We should avoid poetry and too well-sounding sentences, but I am still tempted to say this: The freedom of an existing element is the space it takes.

90. Existents take place independent of any further relation, because relations are fortuitous. They may change. They may be matters of opinion. The fact of existence is not a matter of opinion and cannot cease. It is difficult to conceive existents severed from the freedom to exist. What exists, is free to exist. Cease the freedom, existence ceases.

91. Another kind of freedom is freedom of choice, guided through will. Because one's choice will often affect one's behaviour and relations, freedom of choice is moral freedom. One chooses what to think of others. One chooses how to treat others. Thus, from a variety of interests in will and choice arises a conflict in relations and a moral challenge. Such ingredients of pain in moral relations existence (fact and life) gave us. They were given gratuitously. We are condemned, said a French writer, to be free. Where is the god in the anguish of will?

92. Some argue that evil exists because God gave us freedom. Is this right? While the relation between freedom and evil is true, freedom comes not from a power, but from existence itself, which is anterior to any power. Supposing that God, as some call it, is somewhat good, God is good because God chose to be good. God had the choice and God chose. God sacrificed freedom for what he considered good. If God, as some say, have a plan for his creation, namely to lead it through the cause of the good, God's gift to creation is not freedom, which comes per se from existence, but the message that leads to the good – a good that comes from choice.

93. There may be more than pious poetry in this argument. If one insist that freedom comes from God and that God does not interfere with it for his wish is to test his creation, is God still omniscient? We must consider this for a second, for if God need to put man to the test, God knows not what will happen. If he know, there is no need to test; if he not know, he is not omniscient. Conversely, if God be omniscient and know what will happen, how can mankind be free? Freedom is unpredictable. If God created mankind already knowing what everyone would do, there is no freedom. And if mankind not be free, then God is to blame for all evil.

94. Because God did not programme mankind to be free, but freedom exists independent of God, God is not able to destroy freedom, in the same way that no power is able to destroy existence. And because moral freedom is freedom of moral choice, no power simple or complex can destroy such freedom from which happiness and sorrow derive, good to some and evil to others.

95. Freedom precedes any power. Being intrinsic to existence, which has no cause, freedom has no cause in the same way. To suppose that God created freedom is problematic for two reasons:

96. Firstly, we assume that, if God exist, God is free. And yet, if God be free, freedom is already given in God, so that God cannot create his own freedom. God cannot create a condition that is already present in his own existence, as if freedom had not existed before. What is already free can perpetuate, but not cause, freedom.

97. Secondly, and consequently, if God created freedom, God was not free before he created freedom. If he were free, he would not need to create freedom, and in fact he would not create, but just perpetuate freedom. And yet, if God were not free, God were not free to create freedom, either.

98. Any power is heir of freedom as much as we are. In the class E, freedom expresses itself through “choices” made by randomness. Through randomness, simple powers “choose” to start transformations. These may lead to complex powers and to something similar to what we call God – formed, if we will, from the freedom of randomness; formed as a power which evolved gradually into more complexity.

99. Though no power can destroy freedom and randomness, freedom of choice is useless unless a purpose be added to it. If man be the image of a god, this god is also the image of man and his anguish: What shall I do and what shall I choose? A goodly power may chose to resist the bareness of freedom and randomness. It may act so as to give its own existence a purpose: that its cosmos may become more or less immune against the strikes of randomness.

100. Since our culture has been affected by Jewish and Christian ways of thinking, I may quote from one of their sources. It is to a goodly power that Job cries: Why is it that I am just and I suffer? And Job is shown the trees, the hills and the sky. Is this an answer? This is the work a goodly power wished to impart to its system, for he is glad to share, devoid of envy in the words of Timaeus. He cannot account, however, for things which he created not, as freedom and randomness. He can only show that the cosmos bears more than pain and sorrow. The trees, the mountains and the sky reveal, in the metaphor of their abundance, how much space there is for purpose in life.

101. Randomness has no power on him who contemplates space. This is an important message of Job. Reading the Greeks, however, does not harm.

102. In ethical terms, there is more than God and Job in the world. Before and between them, there is freedom. Ours is the choice to use it as a wall or as a bridge. Yet we must continue our enquiry:

103. If it be true that the complex derives from the simple, and that existence is transformed by simple powers, and that simple powers act at random, it is randomness that, in a way, keeps existence in movement. Later, complex powers can, and even should, resist randomness and find a purpose for freedom. Nevertheless, randomness and simple powers are needed for anything complex to arise, so that randomness and simple powers can be without complex powers and their systems, but complex powers and their systems cannot be without randomness and simple powers.

104. Does randomness exist in the same way that a thought or even a stone exist? If randomness be able to affect simple powers and yet randomness be nothing, we will conclude that nothingness can affect something that exists. It is more reasonable to assume that randomness does exist and that it is able to affect simple powers because it has something in common with them. It is, if we will, a power even simpler than simple powers, but enough power to reach and affect simple powers. The power of randomness is probably the most quintessential element in the class E. Simple powers would be the tools through which the power of randomness transforms simple parts of existence into complexity – into different expressions of matter, life and intelligence, into all things concrete and abstract (set M and class A).

105. We joked about numbers before. Is randomness so free that it may act beyond mathematical truths? No power can change a mathematical truth, so that mathematics must be simpler than simple powers and more closely related to randomness. Mathematics is somehow a study of measure, while randomness behaves beyond measure. Yet randomness knows two patterns of behaviour: One is measurable, the other is not. The measurable pattern is measured by mathematics, which is the attempt to describe randomness in relation with itself and with the class of identifiability, or conceivability: the class C. This is mathematical randomness. There is also amathematical randomness, operating beyond the measurable. Otherwise, all randomness would be measurable and no longer act at random. However, these contrasting natures do not destroy each other. While randomness as a whole surpasses the reach of mathematics, the truths of randomness described by mathematics testify an element of indestructible order in the power of randomness.

106. Although no power can destroy the power of randomness, a goodly complex power can teach its system to become immune to randomness where it may hurt. Some things are ruled directly by the power of randomness. Where the throwing of a dice may decide upon life and death, a god cannot, or not always, or not unconditionally, choose the face of the dice against randomness. God will not change the dice. Yet God will show how to face the dice.

107. If one should ask about the ethical implications of our enquiry so far, I would affirm that what existence gave us is enough for happiness. It is true that freedom hurts, and that evil is anyone's freedom where it hurts us. Every day, evil is proving that freedom is indestructible, and that sorrow often comes from will, unfulfilled and freely chosen. Yet a goodly complex power, devoid of envy and full of compassion, is pointing to abundance, showing that there is place for the good under the sky.

108. Be that as it may, if the order of our cosmos was enabled by a goodly complex power, the purpose of such order is to enable us to achieve what is good: This would be the fulfilment of any goodly complex power. All order that such a power creates is a self-redeeming work in which anguish is overcome. It is a mirror for us of all good things that freedom can achieve.

109. Thus, from the metaphors of abundance, the trees, the hills and the sky, let us assume as probable that, if any complex power presides over our cosmos, this power is good. It cannot destroy freedom and randomness. Yet it is mighty enough and knows enough. It is able to guide whoever choose to accept guidance.



*


110. THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Earlier I told thee. Whatever exist, taketh place.

NUMBER 237: Dunno, dude, it's kinda weird, like if I think of a point, just like that, a point. It's sort of hard to see the point. I mean, if there was just a point, there wouldn't be space.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Why is that, my child?

NUMBER 237: ’Cause a point can't just be there on its own, you know. It can't sort of exist in a vacuum, just like wow guys, I'm there full alone, and that's why I'm talking to you guys, yeah, it's because I'm alone in vacuum. It's always part of a set, it's always related with some other stuff in space, for sure, just like I'm telling you.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Good, my friend, I shall ask thee one thing: What is space?

NUMBER 237: Laugh out loud, man, are you kidding? Well, space is just the space between things. Got it?

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: What sayest thou, my son? Thou namest one thing by the thing's very name. Thou sayest that space be space. Is that in thine eyes a definition?

NUMBER 237: You sound strange. I think it's like this: Take any two things. Any two things are separated. Otherwise they're not two, agree? Well then, if you add more things, they'll get a volume together. Space's just that, it's the volume of things together, it's kinda the in-between of things, yeah, that's it. I mean, everyone can even see that, it's pretty clear!

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: I understand. From what thou assumest, it followeth then that there is no space where there be only one thing.

NUMBER 237: You mean like a universe of one thing? I'm telling you, dude, that's strange. How could a thing exist alone? Nothing is there alone. Even if you think a point is alone, there might be another one somewhere else, no matter how far, and what's in between will be space. Everything is related, that's why there's space everywhere.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: This I know, but what thou shalt tell me is this: The point as such, the point in its own right – Existeth the point in its own right, existeth the point as such?

NUMBER 237: No, it can't be in vacuum.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Then let thou my point be surrounded by others. My question remaineth: Existeth the point, whether alone or with others, existeth the point in its own right?

NUMBER 237: I think so, I don't see why not.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: And yet thou sayest that space be the relation between two or more, nay between two at least, sayest not thou?

NUMBER 237: Yeah, I did say that.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Then expound thou to me how this be possible: That there be space for one point to exist if space require at least two points.

NUMBER 237: You didn't get it, bro. A point as such, a point in its own right, I mean, it may exist, but it doesn't take up space.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: What tellest me thou, my number? Is it thy desire to appear smart in thy time's fashion that maketh thee speak frivolous things? Pray explain thy words, oh wise, for what thy words say to mine ears is this: A point existeth, but there be no space for a point to exist. Understand I thee?

NUMBER 237: Trying to show me up in front of the guys here, aren't you? I tell you what: I don't care! Besides, dude, who told you that what exists needs space?

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: I told thee earlier. Whatever exist, is there. Remember thou these words of our good old English language, a grateful expression: To be there! Now think thou: Where is there?

NUMBER 237: Dunno, what shall I say? It's wherever.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Good, my dear number, good. Pray tell me: Is this “wherever” of thine somewhere or is it nowhere?

NUMBER 237: I guess it's somewhere.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Thank thee, sweet abstraction, for what thou sayest pleaseth me: If thy there mean wherever and wherever mean somewhere, then what is there is also somewhere. But, dearest of numbers, how is it possible that a point be somewhere and have no space to be?

NUMBER 237: You're taking the piss, bro, I know what you're up to. Well then: Your point exists and it takes place. Happy now? So what? Where does it leave us?

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Art thou troubled, number 237? Pray be not thou angry, I simply try to understand thy words and thy wisdom where thou art wise and, believe thou me, thou wast wise in many things and many times in the past I must praise thy words. But friend, this time I must fail to praise thee, and I must abide by what I sayd earlier: Whatever exist, taketh place.

NUMBER 237: Geometry must be wrong then. They say a point as such, a point in its own right has no length, no area, no volume, no dimension. Where is space then?

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Forget thou dimensions, number! The space of a point is its own existence. Existence requireth no dimension, because space requireth no dimension. And yet, brother, dwell thou upon this: Existence is self-containing. Existence containeth the space of itself. A point hath no dimension, but it beareth the space of its own existence.

NUMBER 237: Oh I see, now I see where you're coming from. But you're kinda philosophising out of the blue. What you say has nothing to do with geometry, you're speculating on some metaphysics I know nothing about. I don't give a toss to it, but I tell you again: Your vision of space is far from geometry, my dear “beauty of love”!

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: One thing I will ask from thee, number 237: Let thou not geometry suppress existence. Whatever exist, is there. Some of it will have a dimension in geometry, and some will not.

NUMBER 237: Are you crazy? You've got to explain existence geometrically! I'll tell you, dear, believe me, where there's true space, things have inside and outside. What doesn't have inside and outside is just bullocks, can't be really part of any space.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Is it so? Thy thoughts, number, are inside what? Outside what?

NUMBER 237: That's not what I mean, I mean proper things, of course, like a stone. But even thoughts are inside themselves, and what doesn't belong to them is outside them.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Thou sayest then that they be self-containing.

NUMBER 237: Kind of.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: They are self-containing bycause existence is self-containing.

NUMBER 237: What are you talking about? I'm talking about geometry. Don't pretend to be so stupid. Everything does have inside and outside!

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Well, a single thing certainly belongeth to what thou callest everything. Thou appearest to say that there is no difference between to have and to be. If a tree have, or even be, inside and outside, and if a stone be outside a tree, should we follow that the stone is the tree? Now think: If thou say that the stone be the tree, one thing hath no distinct identity, its identity being whatever be outside. But, if thou say the stone is not the tree nor anything else but the stone, then it is irrelevant for the identity of the stone to know whether there be vacuum or anything else outside. Now, is a stone a tree bycause the stone is outside the tree?

NUMBER 237: The stone is the relationship of the-stone to not-the-stone.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: But then sayest thou that the stone is the stone and only the stone; and that what be outside the stone is not the stone; and that the relationship of the stone to whatever doth not alter the fact that a stone is a stone and whatever is whatever. Sayest thou that? But thou saydst before that one thing hath inside and outside. Now, if what is outside the stone not be the stone, then the stone existeth not outside itself, and what is outside the stone is irrelevant for the existence of the stone. That is what thou sayest now. But in this case, there is space for one thing, nay for one point to exist, regardless of relationships, unless thou claim that the stone cannot exist unless the tree exist. Understood I thee? Denyest thou that the existence of “one point” or “one thing” taketh place after thou saydst that what is outside altereth not the fact that “one thing” existeth?

NUMBER 237: No. The stone's a nexus of relationships, it's the set of half relationships that it affords, you see. Yes, the stone is related to the tree; the total picture is both, but as you sort of zoom in towards the stone portion of the relationship, then the picture gets stonier – you continue zooming and get just inside the stone and then you can imagine the internal relationships among parts of the stone. Relationships are just like that, it takes at least two poles. Relationships can't exist without the two poles. The relevance of one pole depends on how far you focus on the pole. It's simple, it's just that.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: Wait thou! Before the stone can be a nexus of relationships, the stone must be a thing in its own right. What thou callest the whole picture is a construct of fortuitous observation and it is a product of contingency, neither necessarily true nor necessarily false. Thou seemest not to accept that no relationship can add anything to the identity of an object, and yet this deriveth from mathematics. Relationships are nothing but arbitrary sets such as {a, b, c}, {a, c, d}, {a, b, d} etc. In all these sets, once we agree that a be a, nothing can change the fact that a is a. Thus, a can appear in any old set, in any “whole picture”, and it will be simply a.

NUMBER 237: Just dig it, man! Even a as such is already a set of inner relationships.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: That may be, but even so we can describe it as a = {x, y, z}. Thou canst dismember x, y, z into smaller parts as far as thou wilt, but finally thou shalt find a simple part that cannot be dismembered, a point, or a self, and this part existeth in its own right and is the space of itself, regardless of focus and of distance.

NUMBER 237: Are you really talking about existence without relationship?

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE: No physical relationship is a logical necessity. “The whole picture” is a matter of observation, and thus a matter of opinion. From the fact that we observe a thing in relation to others followeth not yet that relationship is a necessary condition for existence, even if we cannot think existence without relationship, as existence will relate to itself. If there be x, and if x be there, and if x be x, then x must take a place of its own: The space of x is simply its own existence, regardless of the circumstances in which x may be observed.

NUMBER 237: I really don't have time to instruct you in basic geometry. I must be going.



*


111. Vexation of spirit, spirits thousands
of years succeeded, divine and sublime:
Nothing now. Gone is the glory,
perfection died in Descartes and God
is lost in those children's paradise:
Adult TV disappointeth maturity.
Not beauty of love, consumption of meat
created homo sapiens, complexity.
The Father's image followeth ever
since and most of proofs are doomed:
Causality, might and morals – and sorrow.
To be is not the core, the question
is meaning giving birth – to humanity.
Reveal, oh riddle, reveal thy self !
The deeds are full of thee and feel
with ears thy cry: What is this?
We know the world is weak, in need
of core we question. The revelation
calleth for truth: Respond and recall,
oh spirits, who ye are ! Deliverance?
Love is lurking, aged and ageless,
impossible, fussy. Some on the bus
will have a mother, a haven. A man
who seateth beside a man should know
before the cry: What hast thou done?
There was no want of warning words.
The search, the sacrifice remaineth
on wood, as big as a riddle of blood.



*


112. As I lost one or two words on the notion of primitive essence before, on freedom as an element intrinsic to existence and without cause, henceforth I shall have derived essence in mind when I refer to essence, and with this in mind I shall treat the question of choice and chosen identity: the essence of what I am and what thou art.

113. My friend the poet used to send me letters about the anguish of his uncreative days. One never feels the weight and the burden of freedom as deeply as when everything is there and nothing is done. In the contemplation of space, abundance of choice reveals itself as something immense, and beautiful maybe, but so far away as to cause a shiver of mixed feelings, similar to Pip’s first impression of the world. Everything can be done, or at least chosen, but why choose anything?

114. Not every riddle has a proper answer. Maybe one has to jump into the abyss, as a Danish writer called it, to feel for oneself that the choice of a purpose does fulfil existence, and that purpose is not as far as the space appears to be. Often, a strike of randomness will throw a man into a pit where despair will be forced into choices, arbitrarily. But often, one will linger in a limbo of indecision, where time and space are foes and freedom is bitter. In fact, freedom is bitter, and it bears an existential illusion in itself. Although the space of choices is infinite, life only bears a few choices, and once a choice is truly made, it is made and freedom vanished.

115. Freedom ends at the very choice of a dish. As one cannot choose the whole menu, a particular dish will be chosen. Whether one abide by the choice or later change it, one is no longer free to destroy a choice made. The freedom to choose again is not the freedom never to have chosen. The choice of a dish may not ruin a life. And yet, some choices will involve, and even require, a commitment. Because the choice of a purpose for existence is not the choice of a dish, the price for freedom to pay is higher. As long as nothing is chosen, freedom will hurt, because it has no sense. It spends its time in contemplating its own inactivity. For those who choose not, existence is the eternal agony of freedom in its non-use. There has to be a choice in order for the vacuum of freedom to be filled. However, once the vacuum is filled and a commitment is made to give freedom a purpose, freedom has been sacrificed, because freedom bears no purpose in itself. One cannot be free and have a purpose at the same time. Freedom calls for a purpose, but in the purpose freedom ceases to be.

116. One has to sacrifice freedom, for this is the essence of commitment. Without the sacrifice, there is no commitment and no choice of purpose. I say choice of purpose because no purpose can impose itself. It needs to be chosen; nay it needs to be built. Where there appears to be nothing, one has to see it, and one has to create it where creation appears impossible. And yet the want of purpose in existence is not as tragic as many find it. The comfort of existence is this: Freedom, being what it is, is the tool of any purpose. Any commitment is possible for those who choose the sacrifice.

117. In one of his letters, my friend the poet quoted from Schopenhauer, saying that “the world was not devised to contain a happy existence.” Although I know nothing about the context of these words, I answered: “I hope this is true, because if the world had been devised to contain a happy existence, i.e. the life of a particular man fulfilled, then a particular type of happiness would have been devised beforehand and programmed into human life. If this were the case, there would be no place for freedom, for you would not be able to create your own happiness. But because you are free, happiness is independent of the world; it depends only on your freedom – your own sacrifice of freedom. Probably, your Schopenhauer is referring to those who wish to choose as much as they can and continue to be free as if nothing were chosen. There is no happiness for him who knows no sacrifice. His life wants commitment and purpose.”

118. Existence precedes [derived] essence, and the sacrifice is the beginning of derived essence. Before the sacrifice, there is no answer to the question: Who am I? One is suddenly born, and one is what one chooses to be. Someday, the self decides to do something of itself, and this choice to do is a choice to be. Earlier in life, one was simply a free man, existing and drifting around in freedom. Once a choice is made, identity arises, and with identity the answer: I am the man who does this and that, this is my life, my sacrifice and my purpose. Pure being becomes qualified being. When the commitment is sincere, the sacrifice will lead to fulfilment, and fulfilment may lead, who knows, to happiness. And yet the sacrifice required is not a single event in life – it is life itself.

119. It is difficult to avoid the curse of banality when we write about purpose in life. As freedom can choose any purpose, we may find a man who committed his life to collecting bottles of brandy and whisky, while another spent his days in saying the rosary alone. Life may be too short to judge on other people's choices, knowing that all are responsible before themselves and before those with whom they relate. Fortunately, some choices sound less banal than others. Jesus Christ, it is said, had the choice between remaining quietly in Galilee with his family and friends, where life offered him a prospect of success in his work and occasional lay preaching, and taking up a cross in Jerusalem to die as a criminal for telling people not what people wanted to hear, but what had to be said. Jesus had the choice and Jesus chose. He could have prospered as a carpenter and become a rich and generous employer, as apparently Job did at his time. But Jesus saw that, what Job won, Job also lost. It was not God's fault, it was not Job's fault – it was randomness. And yet, Jesus would still be a respectable man while sacrificing his freedom for something as vile as money. He would be able to gather an exquisite caravan of camels and travel to Arabia and India, and perhaps marry a woman of means to secure his wealth. His would have been a splendid career in the established ministry of his time, where he would start as an assistant to high priests and achieve great respect as a high-ranking aide. And yet, he appeared to look for a purpose that cannot be taken away by randomness or by people's susceptibilities – a purpose that depends not on other people's favour. He chose the cross, for it is not right that a man cannot say what he thinks, especially when there is something beautiful, good and true to say. This man should rather die than commit his life to a lie.

120. Jesus embraced the cross because he wished freedom, including the freedom to choose his words. And yet, the freedom that Jesus wished was not freedom for its own sake, as if his goal had been simply to be able to say whatever crossed his mind. Even before his condemnation, Jesus was no longer free, because he had made a choice. He had committed his life and his word to a purpose. He died not for his freedom, but for his purpose.

121. They all knew that a trip to Jerusalem could not end without blood. Jesus was warned. A shrewd man knows what hurt susceptibilities do in their hatred. And yet, he went to meet his death, if I may say, with open arms. The reason for the sacrifice? He believed in the greatness of his purpose, and, if I may guess, his purpose was probably great. It was perhaps less banal than collecting bottles of brandy and whisky: Look ye at people as if they were your father, your mother, your brother. Treat them with compassion, for you may need it someday.

122. Even as an atheist, Schopenhauer might have agreed that Jesus died as a happy man – happy, because of all things which he had won in life, nothing he lost, whereas Job won much and lost much. Job had much to regret, while Jesus regretted nothing, for which was his crime? On the very cross, Jesus honoured his commitment and fulfilled his existence. His cross was his answer: This is what I do, this is my life, my sacrifice and my purpose!

123. We may be now somewhat closer to an understanding, however limited, of “the beauty of love”. In Jesus, “the beauty of love” was the sacrifice: He died for those he loved, and his love was compassion. Compassion! It is difficult to be good. One may approve or disapprove of our deeds. They are matters of judgement and opinion. Even the little good of harming nobody is almost impossible to perform. Due to the diversity of interests and judgements, and due to the spirit of competition, any deed conceivable will harm at least one person's interest or even integrity. Thus, the most practical good is to be able to answer for our deeds before whomsoever – because the good is far from us. With compassion, it is different. There is no judgement, but sympathy. If harm be unavoidable, the harm that may arise from a compassionate deed is more bearable than harm out of hatred, for where there be compassion, the harmer will suffer with the harmed. He will repent and atone for his deed.

124. Compassion is neither better nor worse than the good, but when the good is heartless, is it still good? A machine could be programmed to help others – but not to love them. Because love and compassion are feelings, or emotions, and therefore abstractions of the self, they hardly agree with words, and often one fears the wordlessness in oneself. Here and there, events of life evoke a movement out of these depths, but for fear of the unknown, one hesitates in nurturing the, shall I say, call of emotions? Some, however, will surrender. They will be moved, they will be overwhelmed – and they will discover their own depth. There, one may suddenly find the delight of little pleasures, the contemplation of space, the love of art – and the power of compassion. This reminds me of that Danish writer, as if he were telling his readers: One has to surrender to wordlessness that one may know, not what it is, but perhaps who oneself is.

125. Jesus was a compassionate man, a man as many, as perhaps all, should be. His is a revelation of humanity. But is it also a revelation of divinity? If the scriptures contain Jesus' true words, his life would be God's revelation. Revelations are matters of belief and speculating on their truth is not always useful. But it is certainly not my pen that will commit itself to proving revelations wrong. It is well possible that the complex power presiding over our cosmos also fills the cosmos with the energy of his power. It is possible that this power or breath or, poetically said, spirit, be also holy in its commitment to a good purpose. And because the commitment requires a sacrifice for the purpose, through his holy power pervading the cosmos God chose to become a man and sacrifice his life for a good purpose: for “the beauty of love” if you will.

126. If all this be true, it would only exemplify the fact that existence precedes essence, and that God became “creator” and “saviour” by making use of his freedom: by sacrificing his freedom for compassion. By the sacrifice that God represents in Jesus Christ, God reveals that his power is immune against randomness, and that randomness may strike a man, but not defeat a purpose as strong as compassion. If Jesus' revelation be divine, we may say that, in existential terms, in terms of use of freedom and choice, of identity chosen and responsibility for choices, humanity and divinity are but one thing. For those who choose a purpose, there is no difference between being a man and being God, because the ethical challenge of existence is the same: The anguish of freedom, the want of purpose, the need of commitment. And the sacrifice required from man and god is the same. The Greeks recognised more of this existential bond between men and their gods. But Jesus does make a difference: His purpose is strong. In his humanity and his divinity – I should say no more than: in his existence, Jesus invites us to the purpose of compassion.

127. Whatever be the particular content of a revelation, if revelation be a revelation of truth, it must, in some way, harmonise with what is already known about the truth. In fact, a revelation should agree with logical necessities, as we cannot conceive truth without logics. God, or any power, cannot change a mathematical truth. But if revelation be, as it is required, an approach to truth, then revelation is knowledge. And because knowledge has a history that precedes revelation, those to whom a revelation is made should strive to integrate their revelation into knowledge previously acquired. Why, Plato was condemned for some of his writings because, sadly, there were not many copies of the gospels available when he wrote them. When Irinaeus wrote against heresies, he had not read Immanuel Kant yet. The claim that revelation somewhat surpasses knowledge is acceptable to the extent that, in surpassing knowledge, revelation is striving to improve knowledge. But there is a great difference between surpassing knowledge and denying knowledge. Fortunately, Jesus himself passed no ruling over the Platonic Academy.

128. I do not belong to the party that rejects revelations categorically. If there occur divine revelations in the world, and if in many places many people claim to receive revelations, either only one revelation is true and all others are false, or all revelations are parts of a bigger revelation which can be put together. Be that as it may, one should require that revelations be consistent with themselves. Why, if Jesus be God incarnate and the bearer of a revelation and this revelation be complete in itself, then everything about God was revealed in Jesus and no further revelation is needed. And yet, Islam claims to be a revelation of God, a later revelation surpassing, if we will, all previous revelations. This claim is either true or false. If it be false, Islam is not a revelation. If it be true and if only one revelation be true, then either Christianity is not a revelation or God is somewhat contradicting himself. God would claim to be incarnate in the person of Jesus, who would say the last word about God, but centuries later God would choose a further prophet to reveal his mysteries. It is somewhat strange that God takes the pain of making himself human but misses the opportunity of a complete revelation, leaving the last word to a later century – supposing, of course, that Christianity and Islam are parts of the same revelation. But why needed God to reveal more of himself at a later point if, in Jesus, he had come himself into the world to proclaim whatever was to be proclaimed? Did the tragedy of the cross interrupt God's plan? If it did, then we know that God's plan was not to sacrifice himself on a cross. On the other hand, it is difficult to say that a religion which spread so fast and so deeply as Islam, and certainly led many into a path of commitment and compassionate sacrifice, has nothing to do with God and that it arose not from God. Again, freedom faces those who seek faith with choices, and one may choose his own beliefs. But the challenge for those who want to believe in the Christian revelation is to explain this: What is the place of Islam in God's plan? Why did God allow Islam to arise if God had revealed himself through Jesus Christ? It is true that God may be a scatterer of revelations, choosing different scenarios to reveal himself. But a good scatterer will scatter somewhat equally. If, however, God speaks to some by himself and to others only by a prophet, those to whom God spoke, as it is claimed, personally, have the difficult task to convince all others that their revelations are simply an appendix, a footnote that God inserted in the book of his major revelation, which would be necessarily the one for which he came personally into the world.

129. The revelation that concerns me mostly is the revelation of existence itself and the fact that existence is free and therefore calls for a purpose. I feel this, as anybody does, in the anguish of freedom, in the search for a commitment and in the world's need of compassion. Different revelations speak of different gods. But all of them claim to reveal what is right and wrong, for their ultimate purpose is to bring salvation, and salvation is achieved by doing what is right and shunning what is wrong. However, while the knowledge of right and wrong is by far the most important for the soul, it is also the most difficult to discern. And since different revelations and moral teachings provide different reasonings on what is right and wrong, it is not easy to decide what to follow. In fact, nothing should be followed too readily. We should aproach any questions of right and wrong with the greatest possible modesty, knowing how little we know. Yes, we should love each other, be good and perfect, but these are broad concepts. They need to be applied into daily life and daily challenges. There is no certainty, in any act of life, that what we are doing is absolutely right. Irrespective of how convinced we are of our deeds, we cannot exclude the possibility that, one day, we may be brought before the throne of Apollo or whichever knower of truth, where the ultimate judge of lives will find us guilty and wrong in everything we did. Instead, we should examine ourselves and challenge the value of our deeds and doubt the voice that calls us righteous, that takes salvation for granted and claims that doctrines can be blindly followed.

130. I agree with Parmenides and some of the Stoic masters that what is cannot not be. Existence has no cause, no beginning and no end. I can well conceive that the complex derives from the simple, and that there is enough space for powers and transformation. From the fact that existence as such has no beginning and no end follows not that transformations, which do have a beginning, may last forever in their expression. If I may speculate with those who preceded Socrates, the complex cannot last as much as the simple without returning to its simple origin. Thus, and despite all resistance, any transformation will probably come to an end and return eventually to the simple expression of existence from which it originated. Complex parts will fade into simple parts and simple parts may form other complex parts. Complex powers will vanish gradually, leaving behind only the simple powers that originated them. The system in which we live, the cosmos and the complex power, the nóos that established it, will gradually return to the simple parts and powers from which they arose. Only the simple can stand for itself in eternity.

131. The focus of those who consider “the revelation of existence” is the purpose that existence can acquire through the sacrifice for a commitment. Whether or not Jesus be Christ and God, Jesus is a good example of what depths such a sacrifice can reach. Even Sartre, or especially Sartre, would agree with this. In puritan circles, there is much hysteria about Sartre's atheism and, sadly, little interest for Sartre's actual thoughts. In fact, Sartre will shift from an approach that stresses the anguish of freedom and the original lack of purpose in existence to a greater focus on the actual need of commitment and purpose in existence – as an expression of responsibility: Although existence has no purpose, existence calls for a purpose in order to be fulfilled. In the eyes of Sartre, Jesus certainly had not simply existed, but also was: The depth of his commitment transformed his mere existence into essence. Jesus was not simply there, he was also something. It is the commitment to a purpose that accomplishes the step between simply being there and really being something – between existence and essence.

132. But Sartre was a pragmatic thinker. He eclipsed God, if you will, from his writings, that the key principles of existentialism might be seen more clearly. A man should commit himself to a purpose in existence regardless of God's existence, which may be, supposing that God exists, more pleasant to God than blind obedience. Sartre's concern is not God's existence, but freedom and commitment in existence, which excludes not necessarily the possibility of God's existence. It excludes, however, the idea that true freedom is compatible with an all-mighty God and a God who knows exactly how everyone will behave – a software developer.

133. Here, one sees a further reason for Sartre to be pragmatic and eclipse God from his approach on existence: It is to avoid a debate which will focus more on God than on existence, while Sartre's concern is existence, irrespective of God. And Sartre did the right thing, because the main counterpart of such a debate would be a set of fragmentary Christian institutions with crystallised teachings on God. Why, a crystallised teaching is not necessarily wrong. The commitment of the Catholic magisterium, for instance, to the so-called deposit of faith is certainly brave and beautiful, and it certainly takes an existential sacrifice to allow as little change as possible in teachings which, whatever the source, have allegedly not been changed for centuries. But again, the teachings to be preserved were the object of a choice, for not all of them derive from logical necessity. Most of them derive from careful tradition and biblical interpretation, and there is not such a thing as a logically necessary interpretation. An interpretation, which is a matter of opinion, is also a matter of choice, and different Christian churches made their choices in many matters of opinion.

134. Shall we consider examples? Some men choose to share the same bed, and different passages in the Bible throw a different light on such a choice, which gives rise to different possibilities of interpretation. Church rulers happen to interpret two men sharing the same bed as an abomination. Other interpretations were possible, but the leaders had the choice and they chose. It is the same with women. Different Bible passages say different things, but because it is written somewhere that women should keep silence in church and wear a veil, church rulers chose to exclude women from priesthood. Nobody obliged them to embrace such an opinion, but they had the choice and chose. The Holy Spirit, as some say, will inspire and guide choices. And yet, there is a difference between inspiring and imposing a choice. The Holy Spirit, if it be the Spirit of God and, therefore, a spirit of truth and compassion, will not impose any choice on churches. And, if churches inspired by the Holy Spirit may make choices far from compassion, the point is proved that the Holy Spirit inspires, but imposes not. Otherwise all churches would always choose right, and right it was for the inquisition to choose the death penalty for heretics. But, as the death penalty shows not the spirit of compassion, it cannot show the Holy Spirit. Together with the magisterium, the inquisition certainly contributed to preserving the deposit of faith. And it made its choices. The Holy Spirit inspired compassion, and the inquisition chose to kill. God inspired an inclusive understanding of family and church leaders chose an exclusive understanding of family. Jesus showed how to be crucified and church leaders showed how to crucify.

135. It is somewhat understandable that a philosopher will avoid any debate with such counterparts. Before the talk may start, their choice of opinions is already made. If any philosopher were to try to approach the Christian God in his writings and even to harmonise them with the teaching of particular churches, he would consume too much time with institutions possibly not worth the depth of the discussion. Why, it astonishes to see how institutions so committed to the love of mankind can be concerned with what adult men do in bed. Existence gave everybody choice of purpose. Some want to choose for others, in the name of Jesus, the meaning and the purpose of family. And here we sit and wonder, again, what has become of “the beauty of love”.

136. It does not surprise that Sartre chose not a church as the purpose of his existence. In the 1950s, the French writer left his limbo of indecision and committed himself to socialist ideals. He sympathised indeed with communist regimes, because society should be a place where people can make their choices of purpose and fulfil them, and there is no place for purpose where any sort of oppression is king and ruler. And yet, the reality of communism was oppressive, because it imposed on many the choice of a few. Why, a purpose for existence may well be a social purpose. There is such an element in the sacrifice of Jesus, and there is such an element in the writings of many socialists. What many fail to realise is that an existential purpose is not an institution: Existence calls for purpose, not institutions. One may create institutions to serve a purpose, but one cannot transform an existential purpose into an institution.

137. There is a difference between socialism as a social purpose and the Soviet Politburo as an institution. Institutions develop their own dynamics and they require much time and energy to maintain themselves, their bureaucracy, the buildings and personnel. Little time is left for the actual purpose, lost in automatism and authoritarianism. Too much pragmatism of behaviour leads to cynicism. Institutions need no real purpose to prosper, and they will prosper until they go bankrupt, the cynicism of their personnel always ready to propagate whatever purpose be financed. And if due to internal conflicts an institution temporarily implodes in itself, new investments bring with them a new purpose, perpetuating automatism, authoritarianism and the patterns of behaviour that emerge from such seeds. Communist regimes tended to underestimate one or two things. Sadly, legislation is not enough to make socialism work, especially when oppression reinforces the law.

138. A purpose is something that only an individual existence can choose and achieve. An institution may enable individuals to strive for and achieve a purpose together, but it will only work if, despite the sacrifice which the purpose requires, it does not prescribe the sacrifice, because the commitment must be freely chosen and performed. It is clear, therefore, that such institutions cannot be a political party or a church, where behaviour is mostly driven by competition for influence, position and reputation, the common cause and the cause of the people being suffocated. Rousseau knew it: Laws and rules may control, but not change, people. Whoever choose a deeper purpose for existence, however, is choosing to change himself. When people decide to achieve the same purpose together, or to support one another that everyone may achieve his or her individual purpose, the best institution is the integrity of the commitment. Nothing will prosper without this, and without this our life is a false promise.



*


139. It's just that, really, I'm going away for the next few days...

“Oh really, where's that?”

It's kind of a farm, you go there for some days and they teach you stuff and something…

“Sounds great!”

Yeah, you should try it. They'd feed you, of course.

“Nice! But… hmm, but do they do vegetarian?”

Some do, yes. And some do vegan, too.

“Oh! I'm trying to become a vegan too, but it's hard.”

140. I bet it is. The thing about vegetarians, you know... it's really funny, ’cause it's scientifically proven now that it was meat consumption that led the brain to produce all the proteins that led to the homo sapiens brain we've got now… Did you know that?

“Scientifically proven, ha! What shall I say to that? It sounds a bit like drinking a glass of wine every day is good for your heart.”

Yeah, I know what you mean. But it's actually true, a glass of wine is healthy, if it's red wine, of course, it's got to be red. The trouble with wine, my friend, is that wine is sold in bottles.

“What d'you mean?”

141. It's just that, wine is sold in bottles. If you want to drink wine, you've got to get a bottle. But you don't open a whole bottle of wine to drink just one glass, do you? You've got to have someone with you to share the bottle, or you'll end up drinking the whole bottle. Of course, if you do this every day, neither your heart nor your liver will be happy, you'll just destroy both of them and yourself. Unless you really get a bottle of red wine every day and drink just one glass and then get rid of the bottle. But then you're losing money, aren't you?

“Ha! That's funny. Not that I'm a great wine drinker, but I can see where you're coming from. It's better not to invest too much in red wine as a medicine, if it is a medicine at all.”

I am sure it is, if only they sold glasses of wine and not just bottles.

142. “You don't get the point. They advertise wine as a good stuff for the heart, ’cause they wanna sell it and if they sell it in bottles they make you face this dilemma you're talking about. So people end up buying bottles and making the whole family drink for the sake of their hearts, as it were. I mean, not that I think you would do this, but many people do.”

You mean, the whole saying about wine being good for the heart's just a mafia that paid doctors and scientists to say whatever about wine? Are you saying that?

“It's always like this, the world is driven by money. Science wouldn't praise wine for nothing. It's just the way of the world, as they call it.”

143. Well, you're certainly not a friend of science. So I suppose, in your eyes, they only say that stuff about meat and proteins in the brain and homo sapiens 'cause they got paid by some meat producers. Is that your thought? Am I reading your mind right?

“That's it, that's it. I know it's ugly. I didn't start it, don't look at me as if I had asked people to play such games, I'm just saying what everybody knows.”

144. Right. So me tell again, why is it that you don't eat meat?

“You still ask? It's just dirty, it's rubbish really, it's not good for your body. It's true, it's really true, and you must realise one thing: Meat is cancer! It's just as easy as that: Meat is cancer!”

You may be exaggerating things a bit. It depends on consumption, on quantity, on all sorts. And anyway, how d'you know that meat is rubbish, who told you that? It's funny that I ask, because it can't be science that told you this, you wouldn't take their word, would you?

“Come on, guy! People just know that meat is rubbish and whatever comes from meat is rubbish. But that's not the question here. It's not about meat being healthy or not. It's about animals dying just to feed you. That's not right.”

145. But is it right to kill a lot of trees and plants instead? You know, you've got quite a low opinion of vegetables. I don't understand in which way they are inferior to animals.

“It's not good to kill them either, I'm not saying that. If I could I would feed on stones, I really would. But you've got to kill something living to live yourself, that's the dynamics of life. So it's certainly better to kill an animal than to kill a human being, in the same way that it's better to kill a plant than to kill an animal.”

146. Oh, but then your point is not really the quality of the food, but morality. That's great, that's really great, but then, my friend, if an animal just dies, I mean, if an animal dies naturally then you could eat that meat, couldn't you? Well, you didn't kill it, it just died! So you could still keep animals and be kind to them and wait for them to die.

“I'm not sure about that. I mean, if they died naturally, they may have died from some disease and if you eat the meat you'll get the disease.”

Really? But you can also kill a plant that's got a disease and end up eating the plant and the disease, can't you?

“I can, but I know how to deal with plants, so that won't really happen.”

147. But hang on a second! There are people who can deal with animals and can prevent them from getting diseases, or can recognise if a dead animal's got a disease and, if yes, then decide how to deal with the meat.

“But come on and tell me: Who would keep animals and just wait for them to die instead of killing them to eat their meat? And anyway, if they have to wait for so long, what will they eat in the meanwhile? They'll have to feed on other stuff.”

Well, the first question first: People who really enjoy meat and don't want to have a murder on their conscience may be ready to wait until their lovely sheep, pigs and cows die, whatever. As to the other question: They may need to eat other stuff, but that's not the point. The point is that they eat what is available. If they've got meat they'll eat it, if they haven't they won't. Being not a vegetarian doesn't mean that you've got to eat meat every day. Get the message? It's not about making a point, it's just eating what's available really.

“But that's not the way normal meat consumers behave!”

Who are normal meat consumers? Even the primitive men couldn't eat meat everyday, unless you assume they could hunt a huge beast everyday. They couldn't! So they had to take what was available: Some days they got just grass or something, or whatever.

148. “Look, I don't want to have an argument about this, you see. I don't want to impose my views and my life on anybody, I just want to be healthy and I made my choice about it, thank you very much! I just won't eat meat, sorry.”

Please don't misunderstand me! I'm really glad you make your own choices as long as you feel happy with them. I'm just trying to point out what your words and your behaviour sound like to me. I mean, it's your problem that you chose not to eat meat, by all means. I'm not trying to attack that in any way. I'm just saying that, to me, it sounds as if you didn't really know why you're not eating meat, or perhaps you know: You just don't like meat, you don't like the look of it, you don't like the taste of it, you hate the smell of it, etc. That's fine! But you see, this is an aesthetic choice. It doesn't give you pleasure to eat meat, does it? Or are you trying to force yourself not to eat meat, even though you like it?

“By no means, I just never liked meat, heavens above! I never ate meat... and now I'm trying to become a vegan, too.”

149. In this case, as I told you, you made an aesthetic decision, but you're trying to disguise it as a moral decision or a medicinal decision. It isn't! It isn't healthy, by the way, because you should eat in moderation and you should eat what is available. And it's not moral 'cause you don't really care about the animals. If they'd died naturally you wouldn't eat anyway, which means really, even if meat grew like grass you still wouldn't eat it. So what's driving your decision is the pleasure of your taste more than your love of animals.

“I told you before! Who said that meat is healthy? You believe too much in science.”

150. The thing is: If you don't give a toss to science, how d'you know that meat is rubbish?

“Well, first, people never eat it where I come from, you see, it's sort of written in people's conscience as a law, as a sort of intuition. You know, when you eat beef you may be killing a soul that was related to you in a previous life, and that's not right.”

But how d'you know that the cow's got the soul of your mother from your previous life? And how d'you know that your salad's not got the soul of your great-grandfather?

“You know, I'm not going to discuss that now. It doesn't mean anything to you but it does to me and you should acknowledge that.”

151. I do! But from your answer I suppose you don't really know if, in some way, you could be eating your great-grandfather in your salad, too, which would be as bad as eating meat.

“They say the trouble is meat, not salad!”

Well, but then you don't eat meat because some of your gods are telling you not to. That's absolutely fine, it's wonderful that you respect your gods. But why don't you stand up to that? Why don't you say you don't eat meat 'cause you hate the taste of it and because your god doesn't like it, either, instead of saying that it's not healthy and that's immoral towards the animal? Because it isn't really immoral to the animal. If your god told you none of your relatives' souls are in this or that animal, then you wouldn't care about killing that animal, would you?

“Of course I would, it has a right to live!”

152.Well, but so do the plants and so do the bacteria and the protozoa, and you still kill them.

“Well, better them than the animals, I told you!”

And I told you, too: You have a very low opinion of plants. But anyway, if your concern is that animals have a right to live, you could still eat their meat if they die naturally. Why won't you?

“I don't like it, get it now? I hate it!”

153. Don't be so nervous, I'm just asking. So confess, then, that your choice is not really a moral choice, it's a question of taste, which is fine. You see, I eat beef and lamb and fish, but I hate pork and I can't see chicken. It's silly, I know, but it's not about medicine, it's not about morals: It's about taste, and I stand up to that!

“Which is fine! It's the same with me. I don't know what you're talking about and you really mean to tell me.”

154. Well, let's see then. You told me you're trying to become a vegan. Why trying?

“It's not easy.”

Why not?

“’Cause I like a lot of stuff like that, you see...”

You mean, you'd like to eat eggs but you feel some of your gods would disapprove of...

“Yeah, that's it. But it's not good for a lot of reasons, really.”

155. You see how funny a little talk may be. I wanted to show you that your hate of meat is neither medicinal nor moral, but simply aesthetic, and then it turned out it was religious too, and yet you try to disguise it as something medicinal, moral and even aesthetic. But in fact, bro, it's wonderful what you're trying to do: You're trying to be holy!

“If you say so... Nothing wrong with that! Life is full of choices and I made mine. I decided not to eat meat and I won't eat meat, whatever you tell me.”

156. Fine, I just wish you didn't just make choices, but also reflect about your choices. But I bet you do. So tell me then, because you know these matters better than I: What is holiness?

“It's sort of... avoiding meat and stuff.”

No, dear, you're giving examples, but I don't want that. I realise that, for you, vegetarianism is part of holiness, but what I want to know is not what the single parts of holiness are. I want to know what holiness is as such.

“Well! Whatever the gods say is holy!”

157. But there are so many gods, they say so many different things. How's that? You're going to sacrifice yourself for something you know little or nothing about?

“What I know is this: They must be right in some way.”

But how do you know that the opinions of gods are always right?

“If I knew, I'd be one of them. I just chose to believe. In some way, what they say must be right because they are gods, you see! But I haven't got time for that now. I must go, really, I'm hungry and I must cook some stuff!”

Yeah! Get some wine too: It's good for your heart!




© Greg Ory 2018, Nulla Dies Sine Linea. Website by Greg Ory at Officum Carolingium, Flat 7, 18 High Street, Petersfield, Hampshire GU32 3JL, United Kingdom; e-mail ad.gregorium@startmail.com