Philosophical Humour

“If we desire a record of uninterpreted experience, we must ask a stone to record its autobiography.”

Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality (Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Edinburgh During the Session 1927-28) (p. 15). Free Press. Kindle Edition.

So, would this be considered a “dogmatic statement of the obvious”? Or just philosophical humour, illustrating the assertion “Never trust a religious leader who can’t tell a joke”?

Then again, how should we interpret Whitehead’s phrase in the context of this story: “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40)

The Happening

Yesterday, I was watching M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, because it seemed appropriate during a global pandemic, when the world comes to a standstill.

The Happening — Theatrical Trailer

Spoiler Alert

The film starts with a teacher getting his class to recite the scientific method.

What are the rules of scientific investigation?

  • Identify variables
  • Design the experiment
  • Careful observation and measurement
  • Interpretation of experimental data

As plants release a neurotoxin that inhibits the automatic self-preservation response in the human species, people become disoriented, and ultimately suicidal.

According to the premise of the film, you could say that the Earth was crying out against the human-centred design principles that we are using to build our tools and physical environment with utter disregard to the other forms of life with whom we share this planet. Our ego-centrism has left us with a world that is crying out, “Pay attention.”

A Hypothesis

The Earth is crying out, telling us that the story does not revolve around humanity.

We are all embodied as complex, interdependent organisms forming individual bodies that are part of a complex living ecosystem scattered across the surface of one celestial body in a complex system of matter, gravitational forces, and quantum mechanics. In that sense, does the Gaia hypothesis make more sense of process and reality than a mechanistic clockwork universe?

“Language is thoroughly indeterminate, by reason of the fact that every occurrence presupposes some systematic type of environment.”

Why Philosophy Matters

Morality of outlook is inseparably conjoined with generality of outlook. The antithesis between the general good and the individual interest can be abolished only when the individual is such that its interest is the general good, thus exemplifying the loss of the minor intensities in order to find them again with finer composition in a wider sweep of interest.

Philosophy frees itself from the taint of ineffectiveness by its close relations with religion and with science, natural and sociological. It attains its chief importance by fusing the two, namely, religion and science, into one rational scheme of thought.

Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality (Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Edinburgh During the Session 1927-28) (p. 15). Free Press. Kindle Edition.

Process and Reality

Probing Process & Reality — “Why Whitehead?”

I must admit that I know very little about Alfred North Whitehead, but I am excited to learn more. I have been trying to explore some ideas from the perspective of user experience design (UX). I have tried to extrapolate from the concepts of Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path about Design for Engagement, where he presents a mental model of human experience consisting of perception (senses), cognition (mind), emotion (heart), and action (body).

“The conversation about design is evolving as the scope of design expands from physical artifacts to living systems. Increasingly, we are exploring ideas about organizational transformation and social change. In other words, we are expanding the scope of design from the physical to the metaphysical: to the social, the economic, and the political. These are issues of connection, capacity, and power.”

These mental models describe reality as a design process. I was wondering if there might be areas of correlation between Whitehead’s speculative exploration of the higher phases of experience and my own speculations.

I am looking forward to learning more about John Cobb and how “the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead should replace those of Descartes and Kant, especially to provide an organic alternative to the mechanistic philosophy that has contributed to our crisis.”

The ordinary stubborn facts of daily life

By reason of its ready acceptance of some, or all, of these nine myths and fallacious procedures, much nineteenth-century philosophy excludes itself from relevance to the ordinary stubborn facts of daily life.

The folly of dogmatic certainty

There remains the final reflection, how shallow, puny, and imperfect are efforts to sound the depths in the nature of things. In philosophical discussion, the merest hint of dogmatic certainty as to finality of statement is an exhibition of folly.