Imaging philosophy | Вестн. Том. гос. ун-та. Философия. Социология. Политология. 2011. № 2 (14).

Imaging philosophy

Human beings experience the world first of all by seeing and imagining it. They can getclose to the world and to their own nature by reflecting on illuminating intuitions and ideas.These are evident truths, partly recorded by some philosophers (by Plato, for example) sincethe antiquity. These truths, however, have never been put, simply and immediately, at thecentre of human beings practical and theoretical speculations. The main philosophical investigations,on the contrary, above all in the current age, have become more and morestrictly verbal. The notes contained in this article are an attempt to stimulate the philosophicalmind carefully to study images - that is, to study images as locatable or quasi locatableexperiences (and even images as locatable or quasi locatable experiences that are the basisof non locatable experiences).

Imaging philosophy.pdf What is the world? What is our world? How could we try to understand - topenetrate and unveil - the world or reality? And how could we try to put all thepieces of the world together? How could we try to put together all our experiencesof the world? How could we try to put together all the kinds of experiences of theworld that we have or had?We see, first of all, the so called external world - we have visual experiences,that is, visual perceptions of the world. For example: I see a table that is placed inmy room, or some images of a war that are displayed on the video of my TV (theTV is in my room, but the war is occurring many kilometers far away from me).Visual perceptions are some sort of external or more external images.We also see, secondly, things somehow inside our minds. For example: I couldlie down on my bed, close my eyes and imagine some images of the table in myroom and of the war on TV; I could also mentally imagine a non perceivable thing:a golden mountain, etc.1 I would like to thank Prof. Larisa A. Korobeynikova for conversating with me about some of my intuitionsand ideas - at the time when I was preparing this work. I also would like to thank Prof. Valerjy Surovtsevfor kindly inviting me to publish my essay on this Journal.Visual and imaginative experiences are images: they are explicit, iconic images(one could then also note that a visually perceived table is a three dimensional image;and a visually perceived plane is a two dimensional image; a perceived orimagined point is the smallest image).Auditory, gustative, olfactory and tactile experiences could also be seen to consistof images for all these experiences refer to phenomena that are at least somehowlocated. Indeed: when I touch with my hand the surface of a table I feel suchtactile experience to be somehow located close to my hand. A tactile experiencethus consists of an image, although a non explicit, non iconic image.What about written and spoken languages? They are composed of images too.The written alphabet of a language is made of visual signs: letters such as 'a', 'b','c', etc. are, first of all, little visual signs - they often appear to us as traces ofblack ink on a white paper. (Ideograms are of course images.) Moreover, when oneorally speaks a language one utters alphabetical sounds that could be seen as images- each spoken letter of the alphabet is generated by a person putting her vocalcords and mouth in a certain position: the person produces a specific wave. Understandinga language, then, implies understanding meanings, and this is possiblewhen a person has or develops the ability to associate certain mental images to certainwritten or spoken words.Human beings not only communicate to other human beings images that theyhave in their own minds, but also point to images that are in common environments.This suggests that there are not only strictly private images, but also sharedor more shared images - such as external images of natural and social environments(the visible sun, a perceived public square, etc.). The preoccupation that imageswould just refer to strictly private experiences - and thus that they would cutout from reality such important things as communities, etc. - is unjustified.Now what about our most hidden and somehow mysterious reality? Whatabout the most personal part of our mind, our Self or I? The best attempts to understandthe nature of the Self - the subject of our experiences - seem also to be attemptsto visualize the Self. This has indeed been tried and can be tried in manyways: i) by observing (by 'digging') from the outside, the physiology of the humanbody, first of all of the human brain - at its molecular, and even microscopic level:the neural level, and then the quantum level, etc.; ii) or by arriving at a structuralphenomenology - this also means to figure out the 'conditions of the possibility' ofour experience, a la Kant, though in a more architectonic and strictly descriptiveway than in Kant; iii) or by imaging some plausible solutions to the question aboutthe nature of the Self - even, here, by taking into consideration some perspicuousmetaphors about the nature of the Self, such as the metaphor of the 'theater of themind' or of the 'ghost in the machine', etc.Images, as locatable or quasi-locatable phenomenal experiences, seem to becrucial when one comes to the problem of how human beings could know reality.With respect to this, a relevant consideration is the following: according to the correspondencetheory of truth, especially in Tarski's precise account of truth, language(written language) and the world are brought together by saying that a certainlinguistic proposition 'p' is true if and only the world is p. As Tarski claims:the proposition 'the snow is white' is true if and only if the snow is white. Here,however, there is also a problem: how do we know that the world is p? How do weknow that the snow is white? Answer: we know that the world is p, for examplethat the snow is white, because we see that the world is p - because we see that thesnow is white. If this is so, an explicit, primary way to connect language and worldis not that of associating alphanumerical symbols and the world. It is an attempt toconnect visual representations of the world and the world. The proposition 'p' istrue if and only if we can first of all draw the world as p - the proposition the'snow is white' is true if and only if we could, for example, realistically draw this:Another example, a trivial one, which can throws some light on this point, isthe fact that we always find a picture, that is a photograph, on a person's identitycard.Does this iconic perspective on the correspondence theory of truth dismiss Artas a form of valuable knowledge? No, on the contrary: indeed, in the most genuineworks of art, one can find not only significant images of the perceived externalworld, but also significant traces of a person's sensitiveness and intimatethoughts - including his or her delusions, dreams, fantasies, etc. For instance: insome painters' artistic portraits one not only finds realistic figures, but also attemptsto make more visible a person's most inner mental traits - his or her personality,etc.Values, that seem to be crucial for such fields of enquiry as ethics, or culturalstudies, etc., could of course be understood as meanings, and thus explained interms of images and ideas - we have said that the most plausible way to comprehendideas is to conceive them as mental images. From a more practical or existentialpoint of view: the ethical experience usually depends on a person's dispositionto put himself or herself in other people's shoes - to imagine himself or herselffrom other people's perspectives.Some classic philosophers have of course put images at the centre of their visionof the world (this is so at least under certain readings of such thinkers): Plato,Grosseteste, Descartes, Hume, Wittgenstein, Bakhtin, Sartre. None of these philosophershas however embraced images in a straight way - none of these philosophershas put images at the centre both of his theory and practice. Wittgenstein'scase, here, is perhaps the most paradigmatic: the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, abook written by Wittgenstein in the first part of his life, stresses the importance ofpictures for explaining how a language represents reality. In the Tractatus, however,Wittgenstein does not show how the written language itself could be explainedin term of images - he just shows how the meanings of such languagecould be explained in term of images. Neither he uses, in the Tractatus, explicitimages as a privileged way to express his thoughts about reality - the Tractatus isalmost wholly written only by means of alphanumerical symbols. The philosophicalworks that Wittgenstein writes in the second part of his life (his lectures on thefoundations of mathematics, etc.) do then contain some drawings, but at this timeWittgenstein has abandoned the idea that pictures should be the main focus of hisvision of reality.To return to the main question: how could we try to comprehend the world or reality?Perhaps by unveiling the design that 'insists' at the core of our world or reality.1Philosophy': 'love of wisdom'. Some people in Ancient Greece reflect on theworld or cosmos and describe what they do by means of the spoken and writtenwords 'philein' ('to love') and 'sophia' ('wisdom'). (Image 1).2One could see philosophy as a house with many rooms: metaphysics, ontology,logic, epistemology, ethics, etc. (Image 2).Communicating our thoughts: sometimes it's like putting pieces of a puzzle onthe table and ordering them; or putting down some playing cards on a table; etc.(Image 3).4According to Plato, ideas are essences of reality and ideas are images (or resembleimages).Plato, however, creates his concrete philosophy only by means of written words:by means of dialogues made of written words.Here I would like to say this: Plato should have searched, instead, for an iconic ormore iconic technique to express his thoughts (Image 4).5Socrates and Plato.Socrates' way of doing philosophy is even less visual than Plato's.Socrates does philosophy by means of spoken words. (Socrates: "I do philosophyby talking while I'm moving around.") (Image 5).Plato transforms Socrates' spoken words into written words.6In his book Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein stresses the importanceof images for our comprehension of the world: he develops, in the Tractatus,a 'picture-theory' of language or meaning (he claims, for example, that "theproposition is a picture of reality". (T, 4.01). Wittgenstein himself will later significantlycriticize and abandon many ideas exposed in the Tractatus.Here one should note this: that even in his first work, Wittgenstein is not howeverputting iconic images at the very centre of his reflection - he is putting linguisticwords and written symbols at the very centre of his reflection. The Tractatus ismade, after all, just of alphabetical and logico-mathematical words and symbols (apart from three explicit drawings, in 5.5423, 5.6331 and 6.36111). In the Tractatus,Wittgenstein does not make, for example, a simple claim like this: "The propositionis, first of all, a visible sign" (Image 6).(This point is furtherly explained in 16)7A person sees this: that a theory of things is more basic than a theory of languageor meaning (Image 7).8Things are intimately centered images (Image 8).9We live in the 21st century: some sociologists have noticed it might be the age of'homo videns' (the age of a 'seeing man' or 'visual man') (Image 9).10The philosopher Galen Strawson observes that discursive thought - i.e. thoughtexpressed by words - might not be adequate to the nature of reality.11In the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Vasilij Vasil'evič Kandinskij one findssome simple intuitions and reflections about the possibility of arriving at an imaginativeapproach to our knowledge of the world. (Leonardo and Kandinskij ofcourse develop their imaginative approach mainly as artists.) (Image 11).12Consider our ordinary life. Consider, for example, this: a person has to go backhome by bus. She is concerned with the following images: she sees the coming busand moves in order to catch it; then she sees the bus station where she has to leavethe bus; then she sees the street along which she has to walk; finally she sees theentrance of her house (Image 12).13Title of a writing by the philosopher of language John Langshaw Austin: "How todo things with words". Here a more relevant title for a reflection would be this:"How to do things with images"; or: "How we do things with images" (Image 13).14One could see there are i) iconic and ii) non iconic images.i) A person's visual perception is, for example, an iconic image.(Some iconic images contain colors.)ii) A person's gustative perception is, for example, a non iconic image (Image 14).15Non iconic images are still images for they appear to be located in one's experientialreality.For example: one's experience of taste of an apple while one is eating an apple issomething that one cannot see, and yet is able to place in some region close to hisor her tongue (Image 15).16A written word is an image.A written word is an image of ink (on a piece of paper); or of some black coloredpixels (on a computer video); etc.Let's look, for example, to this written word: 'horse'A spoken word is an image too: it is prompted by a certain movement of the vocalcords and of the mouth - they generate a sound wave (Image 16).17A spoken word is a less visual image than a written word (see what we have saidabout Socrates and Plato).18All written and spoken words - as ink signs, or sounds, etc. - are genuine metaphors:they are images that stand for other images. Drawings provide one with thepossibility of referring more immediately to other images of the world (Image 18).19The words 'dog' (English), 'собака' (Russian), 'cane' (Italian), 'perro' (Spanish),'chien' (French), 'cao' (Portuguese), etc. refer to a real dog. A drawing of the dogcan more explicitly refer to a real dog. (Image 19).20A drawing of something is closer - i.e. is much more similar - to that thing thanthe written word that refers to it.The drawing of a dog is closer - i.e. is much more similar - to a real dog than thewritten word 'dog' (Image 20).21One of the main philosophical questions is a question about the nature ofknowledge.Experience and imagined experience are at the basis of knowledge (imagined experienceis, among the other things, the experience of one who tries to put herselfor himself in something else or someone else's shoes).22One could see there are inner (or 'inner') and outer (or 'outer') images.Inner images are experienced to be somehow inside oneself - during phenomena ofimagination or self-perception (Image 22.1).Outer images are experienced to be outside or more outside with respect to innerimages - they are usually seen to be in an 'external' body or environment(Image 22.2).23Inner or 'inner' images seem to be experienced by some sort of inner or mental eye(Image 23).2424An intuition is a flash in the mind. (Image 24).25i) Eyes, ii) ears, iii) hands, iv) nose, v) tongue: they provide us with i) visual, ii)auditory, iii) tactile, iv) olfactory, v) gustative images (Image 25).26One could see that there is a visual field; and then an auditory field; and then a tactilefield; and then an olfactory field; and then a gustative field (Image 26).27An image is a region of experiential space. (An image is something open, this is thereason why I draw it here by means of a dotted line) (Image 27).28A point is the smallest image (Image 28).29A line is a one dimensional image (Image 29).30Basic images seem to have two dimensions (Image 30).31An ordinary body is a three dimensional image (it is a piling up of two dimensionalimages) (Image 31).32In the room of epistemology one also finds the idea of truth.For the polish logician Alfred Tarski the idea of truth depends on the correspondenceor adequacy between a sentence and reality.Tarski writes (in his The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations ofSemantics, § 4):the sentence "snow is white" is true if, and only if, snow is white.Here I would like to make this proposal:'snow is white' is true if, and only if, Image of white snow (Image 32).And now consider this more explicit proposal:1) True 'white snow': Image of white snow (Image 32.1).2) False 'white snow':Image of non white (e.g. black) snow (Image 32.2).33Reality. How would it be an image of our reality?The image of a big three dimensional sphere? (Image 33).(The bounds of the sphere are open?)3434If one wants explicitly to see that our reality is a reality from the point of view of a humanbeing one has to draw a man inside such big three dimensional sphere (Image 34).3535By drawing the world we can better concentrate on certain parts of it, or on certainperspectives on it, etc.. The lines of the drawing help, among the other things, tohighlight certain images of the world (Image 35).36Reality is a design of itself. (Here see the strict relationship between this point andpoint 8.) (Image 36).

Ключевые слова

imaging, images, drawing, locatable experiences

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 Imaging philosophy | Вестн. Том. гос. ун-та. Философия. Социология. Политология. 2011. № 2 (14).

Imaging philosophy | Вестн. Том. гос. ун-та. Философия. Социология. Политология. 2011. № 2 (14).

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