Instaurationalism’s fork

Once we finally recognize the degree to which truth is instaurated through our own participation in our own local and contingent patch of reality, we are faced with a decision, which is an ultimate matter of faith:

  1. We can take this recognition of truth’s being as somehow absolute, or
  2. We can take this recognition of truth’s being as just the latest and greatest contingent truth.

What does this choice mean?

It is a question of life in the objective-all, or life from the subjective-here.

To put it Jewishly, it is a question of responding with keter or hineini.


As so often happens, a methodological and ethical point, which I learned from the Christian Pragmatist C. S. Peirce, barges to mind:

“We cannot begin with complete doubt. We must begin with all the prejudices which we actually have when we enter upon the study of philosophy. These prejudices are not to be dispelled by a maxim, for they are things which it does not occur to us can be questioned. Hence this initial skepticism will be a mere self-deception, and not real doubt… Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts.”

Can I actually, in good faith, doubt that my contingent belief in instaurationality (that truth is instaurated through participation in reality) is — both epistemologically and morally — right?

…But then, given this truth, even this very truth must be contingent…

But is this essentially a truth, an idea to be comprehended? Is it perhaps, rather, a self-situating, an orientation, an attitude — an intellective act that is not essentially comprehension, but something else? A new mode of participation…? Not an epistemic act but a moral act…?

Perhaps it is our own responsibility to embrace this one infinitesimally finite selfpoint — this hineini — this I — and to live it fully as our own situatedness within and toward the infinite One, Echad. This is my conviction.

To me, where I am now, a Jew, the alternative to being one is to attempt to embrace infinity, and, consequently to render ourselves zero.

One might see the attempt to embrace infinity by identifying ones own truth with Its truth — and consequently suffering self-annihilation — as an act of devotion or humility.

I, however, see this as the ultimate hubris — misapotheosis — an act of supreme irresponsibility. But maybe it really is apotheosis. Maybe it is anatta, nibbana.

We are in the realm of the tragic. Ambinity. One or Zero-Infinity?


If I am not mistaken, this fork in the road is the where existentialism and postmodernism diverge.

Some take one, some take the other, and most balk.


When I was in school, it seemed obvious that any quantity divided by infinity is zero. Clearly.

Why shouldn’t we just admit this fact? Why prohibit the operation?

As an adult, I now understand: because the subject we were studying was mathematics.


Shanah Tovah.

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