In the beginning there is reflection discovering itself. When reflection looks at itself it sees a mental process that examines thoughts and experiences, held before the conscious mind, a bringing of thoughts or experiences to conscious awareness. From careful observations of myself over a very long period of time I have perceived unconscious parts of myself that affect my thinking, actions, beliefs, wishes, etc. I will explore this much more later on, but I feel it is essential to bring up at the beginning. My rational and conscious approach does not exist and cannot exist in a vacuum. It does interact with an unconscious realm, which is often a black box for rationality and consciousness, that in a sense a mental "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle" applies to, but which throws up various preformed emotions, desires, constructs, and concepts into the conscious realm.
Reflecting on my experience sometimes there would be be an experience and sometimes there would not be that same experience. For example, sometimes I might think about or see a circle. Sometimes I would not think about or see a circle. The first state was positive in the sense that I was thinking about or seeing a circle. The second state was negative in the sense that I was not thinking about or experiencing a circle. There was, as it were, a presence of a circle in the former case, and there was not a presence of a circle in the latter case.
Everything that is or was present is called phenomena. Myriad phenomena can be present at the same time. For example, a phenomenon of a red square might be present in my sight or before my mind's eye, at the same time a blue circle is also present in my sight or before my mind's eye, and so on.
Sometimes a phenomenon of pointing is present which points at another phenomenon. What is pointed at will be called the object of pointing. The phenomenon of pointing is a different phenomenon than the object of pointing. The object of pointing can be present as a phenomenon without the phenomenon of pointing being present, but not vice versa. They can be present together, but the pointing is dependent upon having a relation to an object of pointing.
One type of this phenomenon of pointing is focus pointing. For example, a red square and a blue circle are both present in my sight or before my mind's eye but only the red square is being focused upon, and in a sense there is a pointing at the red square. However, more than one phenomena can be focused on at one time.
One important type of phenomenon that is sometimes present is called "negation". For example, if a red square is present and is being focused on (mentalese for "this"), another phenomenon is sometimes present that takes the focusing and the object of pointing and adds a "not" to the "this", a mental rejection, a dismissing. However, these are all just synonyms. [I must use an example that requires a description of a situation envolving the subconscious, which is just a fact of my experience. For example, if I am extremely parched, I might see something that at first catches my eye as being water, I focus on it and although my conscious mind never analyzes what I'm looking at (I assume my subconscious mind has already determined it isn't water) I have an experience of "negation" about the thing I'm focusing on for the subconscious reason I focused on it. Though this is a very complicated example, what is present before the conscious mind is simple, and the phenomenon of negation that I'm intending to highlight is clear and simple in it. A complex concept of negation can come later after other phenomena have been established.]
When a particular phenomenon is focused on out of a mass of phenomena, it stands out as a separate thing from everything else, this is called "individualization". For example, if myriad phenomena are present but the phenomenon of focus pointing is present pointing at a present red square (mentalese for "this") this is individualization of the red square.
Reflection also observes that I don't recall ever having a phenomenon present and also not had that phenomenon present at the same time. For example, in my reflection I never recall both thinking of a circle while also not thinking of a circle. I have never had a thought or experience that was both positive and negative in the same respect.
I look at my present thoughts and see if I could make myself have a thought and not have it at the same time, but I can never make myself do both at the same time. I look at my experience as well and it appears that I would either have a particular experience or not have it, but I don't ever recall, either in my past or in analyzing my present experience, both having a particular experience and not having it at the same time. It now stands in my mind merely as an observation to make of any and every thought or experience I have to see if it is the case in each particular case or not, merely as an additional characteristic of my thoughts to reflect on.
There is another type of phenomena called a "relation" that is present but arises between other present phenomena. From the mutual presence of various phenomena new phenomena arise from and between them all. There are many types of relating phenomena.
The present phenomena that give rise to the relating phenomena, and between which the relating phenomena are present, are called "primary phenomena", as opposed to the "secondary phenomena" which build off of and between them.
One type of relating phenomena is "difference". For example, when a red square, a blue circle, and a green triangle are present, and the red square is focused on and so individualized, another phenomenon called difference, relating the red square to the blue circle and green triangle, is also present. It is a passive positive phenomenon that is simply present between the juxtaposition of most present primary phenomena as they are presented, and between particular cases of secondary phenomena. Even though it may be present between most primary present phenomena, it is easier to focus on if some other phenomenon is being focused on as well.
Another type of relating phenomena is "similarity". For example, when a red square and a red circle are present, the phenomenon of similarity, relating the red square and the red circle, is also present. It is a passive positive phenomenon that arises from the juxtaposition between specific present primary phenomena, and between particular cases of secondary phenomena. Even though it may be present between many specific primary present phenomena, it is easier to focus on it if some other phenomenon is being focused on as well.
Another type of relating phenomena is "combination". There is a type of phenomenal "chemistry" that once the elemental phenomena are both present they can be combined and their combination creates "emergent properties", that when adding certain phenomena together new phenomena arise from their combinations and between them all. And a collection of combined phenomena can be focused on as one thing, and can sign point as one thing. For example, if a red square has a blue circle inside it, not only do both these phenomena create relational spatial phenomena between each other and everything else by their positions, but the blue circle can come to be seen as part of the larger red square, and the red square as a whole thing with its smaller blue circle inscribed on it, and this whole thing can sign point to some other phenomena.
Another type of relating phenomena is "separation". Again with the analogy of mental "chemistry", certain combinations of the elemental phenomena, taken as one thing, can be split apart into its constituent phenomena. These splits occur where there is the relation of difference between the elemental phenomena making up the combination.
If a part of a phenomenaon can be focused on, and/or if difference is present within a phenomenon, then that phenomena can be separated into more primary phenomena, and it is called a "complex phenomenon". A phenomenon that can only have its whole focused on, and that difference is not present internally, is called a "simple phenomenon" and cannot be separated.
When a particular phenomenon is focused on and individualized all the rest of the phenomena that is not focused on shares a specific relation and creates a phenomenon called a "field".
Another type of the phenomenon of pointing is sign pointing. For example, a red octagon is present in my sight or before my mind's eye and it is sign pointing to some other phenomenon, like an understanding of stopping or danger. The red square's being present leads me to call to mind some other phenomenon, the object of pointing, as the red square stands in for the understanding of a dangerous situation. Sign pointing is extremely complicated as it requires many other phenomena and relations of phenomena to hone in on the relation of its pointing. It is sufficient for us to draw attention to its presence as something intuitively used and understood without needing to precisely define it with reference to complex relations and contexts that are premature at this point, nor do I even know if I am capable of articulating such an understanding.
There is a phenomenon called "identity" when one object of pointing is taken as being one and the same thing as another object of pointing. A focus pointing can be pointing at a phenomenon and that phenomenon can be sign pointing to another phenomenon. A perfectly realised example of identity is when focus is on a phenomenon that sign points to itself. For example, there is a focus on a phenomenon of a red square that is itself sign pointing, but the object of its sign pointing is itself. These individualized pointings are distinct from each other but point at one and the same phenomenon, and this is what is called identity. This is a paradigmatic experience of what is meant by identity that will be conceptualized in contexts later on.
Reflection also notices that When focusing on the red square and it is sign pointing at itself with the phenomenon of identity all present there is never a presence of the phenomenon of difference between the red square and the object of pointing.
When focusing on a phenomenon coupled with the phenomenon of individualization the former phenomenon comes to be viewed as a distinct individual thing from the phenomenon of field and from other focused on phenomena creating secondary phenomenon of relations between them.
Each of the phenomena mentioned so far are present sometimes and not present other times, in different combinations, creating unique secondary phenomena of relations between the ones that are present.
There is another type of phenomenon that is present sometimes called a "concept". Concepts are very complicated phenomena. They are both similar to but also different from the other phenomena that we have been reflecting on, but as the phenomena as types we have so far named we have been talking about them as concepts. I don't have a sufficient understanding of their being. For example, blue might be present in my sight, but there can also be a concept of blue that is present in my mind. From such a simple case it would seem that the concept of blue might be an abstracted, generalized form of the blue in my sight, perhaps even a subconscious induction, but I won't go so far as to say this is what makes this concept. From other examples it seems that concepts arise from relations and contexts between much more complex phenomena and relationships. For example, there is a concept of freedom, and it can be present in my mind, but it requires a whole host of additional concepts, a web of concepts and interpretive structures, and relations of present phenomena in order for it to ever make sense to locate it in particular situations.
Concepts do have presence, but a large degree of difference is also present between them and other present phenomena like the blue square I see. Concepts then are a category of phenomena, and one that appears to me to be arbitrary and contingent in their application. Their origin and relation to other phenomena is unclear to me, and this appears to me to be a fundamental problem with rationality as being an independent, pure and systematic method. A bridge could be found between the microcosmic world of simple phenomena and the macrocosmic world of concepts, like unifying quantum physics and general relativity. However, this could also foreshadow the conclusion that rationality appears to me to conclude about itself later on, but a full articulation of this at this point is premature.
One crucial conceptual phenomena is an "object". The phenomenon of an object is attached to a phenomenon or combination of phenomena that come to be individualized, and treated as a thing that can be revisited. This implies an idea of why it is distinct. For example, when a red square is present
When an individualized thing is present it can subsequently fade back into the background field, it can come to have an identity, or it can be identifiable.
Reflection also brings to consciousness the way one individualized thought leads to another individualized thought called "logic". Two movements to point out now is when thought moves from a specific example to the general, and when the general moves to the specific.
Since reflection showed me that I was seeking Truth, seeking Truth gradually became more and more a conscious effort. Reflecting on my past efforts to find the Truth, most of them have been unreflective actions, and did not satisfy my desire or curiosity for the Truth.
Whether reflection is providing me with accurate data or not, this is where I start: seeking Truth and reflecting on as much as possible.
I begin my formal inquiry into Truth with reflective awareness, so that it is not mere unreflective action as it has been for most of previous life. I will reflect on my process of seeking Truth while observing if I ever have a thought or experience that is both present and not present at the same time.More on Reflection
I seek to have true beliefs. Because I am consciously and actively seeking to have true beliefs, I cannot be satisfied with just considering a thought that happens to be true. I cannot be satisfied with having true beliefs but not being aware that they are true, to me they would just be my beliefs. No, I want to be aware which beliefs are true so those will be the beliefs I will be sure to hold, and the beliefs that are not true I want to replace with true ones, and where there are no beliefs I want to discover the truth so I can create true beliefs that I'm aware of their truth. If I really want to find the truth I will be assiduous in my search, accurate, and meticulously discriminating.
Discovering Truth, so I can hold true beliefs, is the underlying intention behind my thoughts, actions, and inquiries. Having this guiding intention will frame and focus the potential thought processes I will engage in, and thereby limit which thoughts I will consider.
I am seeking Truth and using reflection, while also reflecting in each case on whether I am ever able to have a thought/experience while also, at the same time and in the same way, not having that thought/experience. For me to find true beliefs I must be aware what truth is.
Now if I just think about thirty-two dollars being in my wallet, it is not the same thing as thinking "There is thirty-two dollars in my wallet." In the latter thought part of the thought points to something beyond the thought itself. It points to a yonder thing, transcending what is present in the mind, and says something about that thing, that it is one specific way and not another. The former thought does not have this pointing to a beyond. It is complete in itself. The first thought will be described as using one's imagination, or contemplating a possibility. The latter type of thought will be called an assertion, because instead of being simply a phenomenon, the additional but connected phenomenon of pointing uses the former in its pointing. So a phenomenon that points is called a pointer, and it is being used by the phenomenon of pointing. The pointer together with pointing make what is called an assertion.
Thoughts, propositions, mental pictures, experiences, understanding, hypothetical expectations, or meaning through words, have parts that can all join together to form a pointer. And the pointer joined together with pointing makes a assertion. An assertion points to a beyond, but when we reflect on what we are pointing to as that beyond, we discover a concept which is a background belief, a belief unconsciously being made use of, to the understanding of what an assertion is. So in the sentence, "I have thirty-two dollars in my wallet," the assertion is that it is the definite case or state of affairs that there is exactly thirty-two dollars with a precise spatial relationship to an exact physical object. The assertion has parts, as was mentioned before, but these parts are actively pointing to things, and as these parts combine they become the thought, mental pictures, experiences, understanding, hypothetical expectation, or meaningful proposition, that points to this "something beyond" which makes any of these an assertion. What makes a thought, proposition, mental picture, experience, understanding, hypothetical expectation, or meaning through words the type that involves truth is whether it points to the "something beyond", i.e. if it asserts something; so a thought, proposition, mental representation, meaning, understanding, experience, or hypothetical expectation, is not true or false in itself. It is true or false if and only if it is asserted.
Now we must reflect on the background concept we discovered, the "something beyond", the pointing to the yonder. We will call this concept, that is active as a background belief in assertions, this "something beyond" that is pointed at, as "reality".
Reality is the concept of absolute totality. It is a vague concept that is directed to an all-inclusive, transcendental yonder or out-there that has static parts. Characteristics, as defined by concepts derived from experience, are: definiteness (being one way rather than another), stasis, permanence, substantive, all-encompassing and all-inclusive, independence from my thoughts and experiences, non-perspectival transcendent being. Reality is a concept refering to that, conceived as a static totality. Reality is the definite, all-inclusive.
Assertions are usually about a specific part of reality but they are still always using the same concept of Reality.
The word "reality" is merely a sign and can be used to refer to anything. I am not interested in what a language or a person or a society may choose to have the word "reality" refer to. The word itself is only a tool. I am interested in a particular concept that I make use of, whatever one wishes to call it. Throughout this exposition I choose to use the word "reality" to refer to this particular concept.
It is important to realize that I am writing about a concept, not a word. What I mean by the concept is itself. It does not mean something outside of itself. Carefully reflecting on this, I have no thought of the concept being something other than what it is, or meaning something other than what it means. Any suggestion that I mean something else by reality cannot be thought. The concept is right here in my mind, there is no mistaking it; it is what it is. The consideration that error is possible when dealing with the concept is nonsense to me; asking me to think of something that is not what it is, my mind is left empty and blank.
Now reflection looks at what is the relation between the thought, meaning through words, mental picture, experience, understanding, hypothetical expectation, etc., and the reality it is pointing at. Reflecting closely on what is meant when I assert one of the former to point to reality, I discover I mean that one of the former is alike, or similar to, a part of reality. I have an experience of similarity in my everyday life. I understand exactly what is meant when I think that two shades of color are similar, or that a shape before my mind's eye and one before my eyes are similar, or that two songs are similar, etc. This understanding of similar is used when a pointing phenomenon points at a part of reality. However, when I use a mental picture to refer to a physical object, I understand that the part of reality I am refering to is a different type of thing than a mental picture, so I mean that there are similarities in particular ways, not that the two things are identical. The same kinds of internal relations hold in both, certain parts or aspects are isomorphic between the two things. I realize that this is just using circular definitions, but I understand exactly what is meant by similarity, and I do so through an experience of it, and this experience is what I'm trying to communicate. I am moving beyond definitions to the phenomena and experiences themselves, and there is no circularity here.
Now, as was written above, if I just think about thirty-two dollars being in my wallet, it is not the same thing as thinking "There is thirty-two dollars in my wallet." Reflecting on these two thoughts we discover they have different structures. The former thought might be similar to reality in some way, but it is only a relation of similarity between the meaning through words of this sentence and a part of reality. In the latter thought it is an assertion.
The act of assertion in relation to the concept of reality has some implicit background beliefs. The mode of the assertion, i.e. whether it is thought, meaning through words, mental picture, experience, understanding, hypothetical expectation, etc., is viewed as subordinate to reality. The former is meant to represent, or be like the latter, not the other way around. Reality is taken to be superior. So the relationship favors one as an attempt to copy or represent the other. With this relationship in mind, the similarity between them becomes a new concept. This closest possible similarity of two things, while allowing for the differences necessary of their kinds of things, and the subordination of the other to reality, we will call "correspondence".
Correspondence is the greatest similarity that can be thought/experienced while only allowing the differences that their different types require to be within that type. So when we make an assertion we are trying to say the relation between the pointing phenomenon and the part of reality that the pointing phenomenon is pointing at is one of the utmost similarity. In other words, the asserted thought, mental picture, experience, understanding, hypothetical expectation, or meaning through words, etc., corresponds to a part of reality I am intending to point at.
It must be noted that an assertion can be positive or negative. Whether positive or negative the assertion either corresponds to reality or it doesn't.
The structure of all truth-bearers appears to be the same. There is an action of directedness or focus on a thing, be it a thought, relation, mental representation, experience, phenomena, meaning, understanding, expectation, etc. This is the pointer object, whatever type of thing it is. There is also a pointing to a transcendent thing, understood as reality or a part of reality. This is the transcendent entity, whatever type of thing it is. A relationship of correspondence is intended between the pointer object and the transcending entity, the pointed at. If the pointer object corresponds to the transcendent entity, then the assertion of the thought, relation, mental representation, experience, meaning, understanding, hypothetical expectation, etc., is true. "True" is what we say of the "subjective" part of this relationship, because that is all that is present for us to describe or predicate as being true, a transcendent entity is not present to do this with. If the two do not correspond, we say that the particular assertion is false. If there is no assertion of correspondence, and a thought, or whatever, is only similar to a part of reality, then we speak of the former and the latter as merely being similar, as a particular part of reality, i.e. as the specific relationship between two parts of reality, not as the former being true. Because in this case reality is not being pointed to, and the subjective part is only an object, not an object that points to something else. Truth intends a specific type of relationship between the two objects. Truth implies that a thought, or whatever, is being considered or taken as something more than itself, as the relationship between itself and reality, i.e. the two parts of reality, is of a particular kind.
Truth, then, is asserted: thought, mental picture, experience, understanding, hypothetical expectation, or meaning through words, corresponding to reality.
The word "truth" is merely a symbol and can be used to refer to anything. I am not interested in what a language or a person or a society may choose to have the word "truth" refer to. The word itself is only a tool. I am interested in a particular concept that I make use of, whatever one wishes to call it. Throughout this exposition I choose to use the word "truth" to refer to this particular concept because it would facilitate communication with many readers since the word "truth" has been used in the language of others in similar contexts. I actively make use of this concept and this concept is what the content of this site is centered around.
In its simplest translation from how it is used in thought into ungrammatical English language, "truth" refers to the concept that "this similar that", or using correct grammar, "this is similar to that". I have an experience of a particular mental action of directedness, it is a pointing or intentionality in the mind that looks toward or accentuates other exact thoughts or experiences. Each element of this translated definition refers to a simple experience that one has that this directedness points to. "This" is the implementation of an action of reference to a thought or experience that is before one's conscious mind. "Similar" is a particular concept derived from a particular experience. "That" is the implementation of an action of reference to a part of reality, with the concept of reality as a background belief.
Altering this rough translation to be a bit more sophisticated in its English form, "truth" refers to the concept that "A particular thought or experience corresponds to reality."
It is important to realize that I am writing about a concept, not a word. The concept is right here in my mind, there is no mistaking it; it is what it is. No error is possible when dealing with the concept. The concept involves reference to a thought or experience occuring right now before my conscious mind (this), which is what it is and cannot be mistaken for something else; a concept of similarity right before my conscious mind, based on experiences that I am familiar with as I frequently experience similarity as its own unique phenomena (similar), which is what it is and cannot be mistaken for something else; and an experience of directedness using a concept of reality to point transcendentally to a vague beyond (that), the concept of which is what it is and cannot be mistaken for something else.
The degree of similarity required for correspondence in truth is vague and undefined. It obviously intends a very high degree of similarity between my thought and the part of reality I am singling out and pointing at, whether such a part of reality is actually there or not, but it can be different to a minimal degree due to possible differences inherent in their types of being depending on what is being refered to. This is problematic and threatens to undermine all attempts at discovering truth, and it must be investigated further.
Reflection recognizes that the concept of Reality, as being the definite, all-inclusive, would also include the thoughts, mental pictures, understandings, hypothetical expectations, experiences, and propositions that are asserted and not asserted. For I cannot form a thought of an all-inclusive category that does not include all things. So what I mean by reality must have as parts of it these thoughts, mental pictures, understandings, hypothetical expectations, experiences, and propositions.
The meaning of metaphysical identity and logic of categories
It is important to realize that there are two realms we are dealing with: the realm of phenomena and the realm of reality. We have seen that the very concept of Reality means the realm of Reality entails the realm of phenomena. So because we are dealing with two realms we are also dealing with two types of directedness, to the phenomenal and to reality. The square I see is a phenomenon, and I am directed at it in the phenomenal realm, in other words I can focus on it or be thinking about it, etc.; but it is a pointer pointing to the pointed at, it is pointing beyond itself to a part of reality, and so I am also directed to its being an entity in reality. Regardless if they are metaphysically identical, I am directed to it in two different ways. It is like the Morning Star and the Evening Star. They are metaphysically identical but not logically identical to me.
Through reflection on what is happening in all cases of truth-seeking I discover that I am searching for which asserted refering objects correspond to reality.
In order to find truth I must find something that indicates the truth to me. This is called the criterion of truth. If I am seeking the truth, then I will want my assertions to be true, not false. So the criterion of truth must not fail in indicating the truth. If my criterion of truth sometimes fails then I will not be able to tell the true from the false. If I honestly seek the truth then I will investigate to find the correct criterion of truth. More on Truth
Knowledge is an asserted belief corresponding to reality when the object of belief is identical in both the subjective realm and reality.
"Knowledge" is awareness of the correspondence of an assertion (e.g. a pointing thought, mental picture, experience, understanding, hypothetical expectation, or meaning through words, at a part of the definite, all inclusive), taken as corresponding, with the definite, all-inclusive, that does correspond to the definite, all-inclusive. In other words, knowledge is awareness of the correspondence of a true belief with reality; the ability to distinguish true from not true, and subsequently hold true beliefs.
As I use the word, awareness only occurs when something is present before the conscious mind. One may speak of potential awareness, subconscious awareness, and so on, but those instances will be discussed later, and they do not apply to awareness proper, and so do not apply to knowledge.
So how does something come to awareness? And what would it mean to be aware of part of reality? In considering the first question, I can only come up with two possibilites: 1) something is presented, 2) and logically, one idea moving in a connected way to another idea. The latter is either logic through entailment, or logic through association. I would have to consider each logical association in its particular case, but it seems that, as a general guideline towards self-reflection, that it would never yield a distinguishing characteristic that could be distinguished as such. In regards to the second question, being aware of part of reality would be to have that part of reality presented. Reality is presented as it is, bare and naked.
The word "knowledge" is merely a symbol and can be used to refer to anything. I am not interested in what a language or a person or a society may choose to have the word "knowledge" refer to. The word itself is only a tool. I am interested in a particular concept that I make use of, whatever one wishes to call it. Throughout this exposition I choose to use the word "knowledge" to refer to this particular concept because it would facilitate communication with many readers since the word "knowledge" has been used in the language of others in similar contexts. However, it is problematic because it is often used in everyday life but not in this strict sense of philosophical knowledge.
It is important to realize that I am writing about a concept, not a word. What I mean by the concept is itself. It does not mean something outside of itself. Carefully reflecting on this, I have no thought of the concept being something other than what it is, or meaning something other than what it means. Any suggestion that I mean something else by knowledge cannot be thought. The concept is right here in my mind, there is no mistaking it; it is what it is. The consideration that error is possible when dealing with the concept is nonsense to me; asking me to think of something that is not what it is, my mind is left empty and blank. More on Knowledge