Philosophy and sophistry

Let us call “enception” the capacity to conceive some particular concept.

A concept is a meaning structure that enables any particular experience to be incorporated into our body of experience and to be interrelated with these other experiences. This does not mean that what is conceived can be spoken about with any degree of clarity or explicitness. It means it is available for association. Enceptions make a particular kind of analogy possible.

Wherever we lack an enception, potentially meaningful events — events that would be experienced as meaningful were the enception present — are submerged in oblivion and are not actually experienced at all. They are literally nothing to us.

Most of what we call unconscious is only unconscious with respect to our ability to capture and manipulate it with language. If we attend to the purely perceptive, apperceptive and intuitive apart from our ability to recognize these experiences and attach words to them — if we allow them to be, independently of what can be said about them — we will discover that the alleged unconscious is intensely consciousness and far more conscious than even the clearest explicit language.

Clear, explicit language is at its best when it holds partially conceived phenomena in place — when systematically employs other enceptions to put together a synthetic structure, and holds it steady long enough to allow an enception to emerge and develop and conceive the synthesis as a whole. This is what philosophy does. This is what I work to do.

People who haven’t developed an aesthetic or poetic sensitivity tend to experience the world mostly as a word-match affair. What can be caught with a person’s existing vocabulary is recognized and retained, whatever cannot be recognized is slips away unnoticed. Whatever gets recognized is linked up with other recognitions by way of whatever explicit relationships the person has available, through explicit reasoning or metaphor. It is all language-dominated — very firm, very clear, very sharp, very forceful — but also lacking the richness, spontaneity and intensity of consciousness of intuition unmediated by words.

Many intuitive, poetic, aesthetic people have been bullied by skillful users of explicit language. They understandably have developed suspicion, fear, sometimes hostility toward anything associated with explicit reason.

But reason need not and should not be used this way. This is not philosophy, however much such logicians claim the term for themselves. This is, rather, sophistry.

But many of these reason-abused people have been so damaged they are nervous around any energetic exercise of explicit reason, whether that reason is philosophical or sophistical.

Philosophy is oriented toward what transcends language and reason, but it uses language (and other forms) and reason to help us form relationships with these extralingual realities. It is against of shutting these realities out or subjecting them to linguistic domination.

We use explicit synthesis and conception together to expand the range of what we can spontaneously conceive, thereby making us more intuitively conscious both in our wordless experiences and in our explicit knowledge.

The Oracle at Delphi named Socrates the wisest man in Athens because he alone understood his own ignorance. Wisdom is practical awareness of the essential limits of truth. When we love this awareness and our thoughts and actions are expressions of this love, we are philosophers.

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