Monday, June 16, 2008

On the Existence of Unicorns

Life is often filled with questions...

If we're lucky some of them get answered in a lifetime. Hopefully most of the important ones get answered when the answers are needed. I'm thankful that they know with some confidence what's wrong with me when I am seeking medical care, for example. (Barring a misdiagnosis and that the treatment is appropriate). And if we try to answer some of the questions on an academic exam with "unanswerable", or "might take a lifetime", it would be wrong.

Different kinds of data demand different kinds of answers. Perhaps I meant to say that different kinds of answers demand different kinds of data. And like they always said there's a difference between open ended questions (questions that ask for more than a yes or no answer or more than specific data) and closed questions.

Then there are deeper existential questions that have to do with our very life. Questions about faith or belief and questions about the nature of reality. There are tough choices that we often face, and ethical dilemmas that require different answers to various questions.

We do the best we can.

Now some of what I am about to say, or some of the questions that follow, might sound strange to those who have never taken an academic course in philosophy, metaphysics, or philosophy of mind. And let me say before you rush down to the registrar's office, taking such courses doesn't automatically predispose anyone to be better equipped to answer life's questions. However such courses might help you to ask different questions, or perhaps change some of the "answers" you come up with. Some of the questions might even be better ones.

This in and of itself is an interesting thing to say, but you know answering life's questions has mostly to do with experiences, individual differences and histories, and the ability to be a good problem solver. Some of this cannot be taught in a college course, but it is taught in the school of "hard knocks" or the perplexing challenges of everyday living that we all must adress at some points in our lives.

I think that you would agree that many people who face tough decisions have never taken a philosophy course.

I am not slamming education or philosophy courses though, there is the simple but maybe hard fact, that education may improve one's critical thinking skills, that dialogue and spirited debate, that asking interesting or thought experiment questions such as one might hear in a philosophy course can improve one's analytical reasoning abilities. Such abilities are important to establish arguments in favor of certain truisms, or to get at better answers after all, aren't they?

Now, with a little tongue in cheek I get to the point of some of those questions that once seemed so strange to those first days in a philosophy course. I remember readily thinking "this is crazy" or simply a deeply felt "what??". I wanted to giggle.

These questions were questions like:

Professor pointing to a chair... "What is this?"

Professor pointing to a table... "What is this?"

Class answered: "Chair" or "Table".

Professor: How do you know?

Answers varied from: "It just is" to "That's what we were taught" to
"Everyone knows what it is unless you're a baby."

Professor (asked again): "How do you know?"

Eventually through the process of dialogue the class comes to some understanding thatthe answer signified by "what we were taught" may be closest to what is real, because it has to do with what we have been taught as a group (or culture) about what the object known as chair or table represents, or should represent. That is, it is a chair or table because we share the referent for that object as being a chair or table, and thus is an assigned meaning.

The professor then usually says: "what if you were told the chair was pig at first?" Would you not belive the object was pig? The implication was that words don't always mean the essence of the things they represent.

Then maybe the professor discussed Platonic forms by telling you that part of the meaning of chair implies that the chair has "chairness" and the table

Finally, I remember plenty of discussions about "explanatory fictions" or assertions as heuristic devices which if we couldn't explain away with any reliability, how could we explain anything that is named in sort of a token identity materialistic perspective?

For example, many people think that green unicorns or unicorns don't really exist. yet they are often referred to in folk knowledge, folk psychology, or folk tales, fables and fairy tales. Could it be that they really exist? Maybe they existed in the past? Maybe I shouldn't be surprised to see one strolling across a meadow someday. Maybe unicorns are somewhere else, but not in our point of reference at the moment? Maybe we have to believe they exist and then they will? (Or is that a delusion?). Who are we to make fun of green unicorns anyway? Or any unicorns? Who are we to say that Martians didn't really switch brains in our bodies while we slept and simply downloaded our previous memories? If that is true, or cannot be disproven, who are we to say it is false?

I remember Dr. Charles Marks, (Philosophy professor University of Washington)his face lighting up during such discussions (although I am sure his words were more elaborate than these)...

So I remember that unicorns dont really exist or haven't in my frame of reference...
at least until now...

;-) .>1=43001

'Unicorn' deer is found in Italian preserve !!

Is the fact of a genetic variation or "accident" any less evidence of a functional unicorn? ;-)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dreamy World (Poem) with brief poet's comment

"Dreamy World"
by Tim Kavi

finally leaving
the cave
solitary confinement
all these years

the world
is illusion
of that which truly is
and we take refuge
only in the
stuff of dreams

I'll dream that
I am looking
in your sparkling eyes
so full of life

I'll dream
that we are kissing
on that first night
through happy sighs
we meet

and then
the next day
the beginning is

the story of our life.

Brief Poet's comment: There is a theme here in this poem that is part of much of my work. The juxtaposition is dreams vs. reality? What is real? beyond mere questions of metaphysics, it really hints at the world of representations. Is what is depicted to our senses a valid reality, or is it illusion? Maya perhaps? You can bet most often when I am referring to a cave in any of my writings, I am almost always referring to Plato's Allegory of the Cave where mere reflections of true objects that we see on the wall of the cave are often perhaps what is mistakenly perceived as real. A related major life changing view of interest regarding the possible representational views of reality would be of interest to mention, and that is Hilary Putnam's famous arguments contained in his "brain in a vat" discussions. --T.K.

Blog (Not So) Special: "Writer's Life" by Tim Kavi (A Fishy Poem)

"Writer's Life"
by Tim Kavi

writers often
in sundry places
of culinary graces

and in between
they are always
for another cup

From dusty streets
of Xian
where there are two

to the winds of Beijing
and the metal
walkways of Tokyo's

on God knows what
even a taco
or pita

I have scrawled
my lines

Or on the
back of the bus
while the
children fuss

or even on
napkins at
some place of rest
or God forbid
toilet paper while
modestly dressed

or in the
Writer's Room
at Portland's
Main Library
where except
for the door
it is quiet
for "shore"

or at some
greasy spoon
where the dishes

where nothing is
a neat

as the words flow
or fall even

or at home
where the prose
mostly flows
and this writer
always goes

I was quite
while out
and about

when suddenly
in my cup
there arose
quite the

so that
I looked
from the page
to see what
was the matter

I saw a
splash like
a fish
in the coffee

so when
I looked
I beheld

a giant
roachy fish
taking a swim

where too
much used
was a wish
for him

but I
kept writing
and soon
forgot it

in my writer's

and took
to a swallow
the fellow!

Yes taste
no such

but the
is often
tougher things
to swallow!

(than perhaps this
fishy tale!)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

the goddess in you

"The Goddess in You"
by Tim Kavi

while singing
the body
the goddess
inside you
shines and shines

like a roaring fire
that quiets the
others admire
your beauty

but more
beautiful than
is the soul
in your goddess

so many
bring you
but those that
love your soul
will not be remiss

in expressing
their devotion
to the godesss

truly inside you.

(I am speechless as I write this. There is a hushed silence, the goddess is all around me..such welcome invitation, and eternal peace---T.K.)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Blog Special: "Every Day" (poem) with brief comment

"Every Day"
by Tim Kavi

every day I kiss you
embrace you
boldy face you

with all
of me
and vulnerable

you respond
with such

that my
tears are
like healing

and my
like a
thousand suns

I am safe
utterly made
whole again
and again

every day
in your sweet love.

brief poet's comment: this love is certainly contained, (if a matter of experience and participation) in a lived out reality, in the consciousness 'every day'. This NOWness is, after all, our most living reality. Hence, to be loved and to love others every day, is to build and to have filled our existence with love in the most significant and fulfilling sense. Some of the words used in this poem have to do with behaviors associated with such love and its components: kissing, embracing, facing with a boldness, healing, safety, wholeness, and sweetness. The usage of tears and smiling language indicates that a strong love brings one through both sorrowful times and glad times as well.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

So Beautiful (poem with brief comment)

"So Beautiful"
by Tim Kavi

my goddess
and my love
You are so beautiful
that all of nature

sees you and smiles
trees bend to bow before you
the wind cools you
and the gentle rain
refreshes you

gentle goddess
because you have
walked through the rain
all below
nearly faint
to follow
you to your sacred

you have eased our pain
healed our sickness
and sang the endless

until gathered
around us
the oldsters
tell your histories
that become myths
to the generations
that follow.

poet's brief comment: Artemis was not chosen by accident, but with deep intentional symbolism for this poem. I will not comment upon why, encouraged readers can research her myth. The most significant aspect of the creation of this poem, is that while I was writing this poem I was in a sort of mystical state of meditation when her name came clearly to my mind and spirit. Or perhaps this was a state of confusion following my recent illness (in which case her healing is welcome).