Streams of consciousness

In an earlier post, in the context of drawing the distinction between observers and participants, I quoted Kierkegaard's statement that:It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.This remark also draws attention to the dimension of time and way in which this causes practical reasoning to engage with the flow of events in a different fashion from theoretical reasoning.We understand backwards because the evidence that confirms a theory must be something that is happening or has already happened. Theoretical reasoning has a formal…

Continue Reading Streams of consciousness

Reasoning from the inside

In this note, I want to look at the distinction between theoretical reasoning and practical reasoning and their relationship to subjectivity and agency, two concepts which focus attention on significant aspects of introspective individuation.Theoretical reasoning is the reasoning of an observer and comes to a conclusion in an explanation. The term theory comes from the same Greek roots as the term theatre, and conveys an idea of spectatorship, a level of detachment from what is being observed. Practical reasoning, on the other hand, is the reasoning of an engaged participant and comes to a conclusion in a course of action.…

Continue Reading Reasoning from the inside

Concepts and schemas

In my last note I suggested that personal identity was the outcome of a particular mode of individuation. While everything is individuated in some way, only human beings are self-consciously individuated. Self-consciousness or introspective awareness is a form of individuation that is particular to human beings. However, this generates something of an ironic paradox. Conceptual thinking is the most distinctive component of introspective awareness and the basis of rationality. But conceptual thinking is driven away from the individual by abstraction and generalisation. In conceptual thinking, individuated entities become the instantiations of an abstract type and the idiosyncrasies of individuality are…

Continue Reading Concepts and schemas