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We do all get affected by such things as Injustice, Truth, Loyalty, Egoism, Morality, Love, Misunderstanding. But, to be sure, none of those things really exist. They simply aren’t there.

There are no laws, there are no concepts, there are no values. There are only circumstances.

What i mean is: there are not “layers of reality”, no levels of existence. For example, i do have this bad habit of chatting with the many voices in my head (yeah, i do think that we are all psychotic, but that is another topic). So, do you suppose that there are a “realm” of the voices in my head and another, of the things that really happen to me? Like, a reality-of-the-ideas and another, the reality-of-what-happens? No, there aren’t. There is only one reality.

{In existence, every thing is a first-class citizen (in Haskell terms=).}

From a human perspective (and it is good to remember that there are other ones), what this means is: in life, we are never dealing with anything less real and touchable, handy (in the Flusser sense), than an apple or the sun or your waistcoat.

Suppose you were hungry, and you were on a garden and you saw, to your right, an apple tree with some red fruits. This is a circumstance, a situation. You move within it, not to follow the law (or the Law), not to “pursue happiness”™, not because of the Good™ (or Bad™) that exists in the human heart, or any of those things. You move within it, and that all.

{My loyal readers shall already have glimpsed that this has some parentage with the Bacterium thing, but remember: not quite…}

Example: suppose you are going out with a girl, but you talk about something another girl did or said, another girl who is a friend but not a girlfriend, and then the first girl bursts into a jealousy tantrum. You’ll have to deal with her tempestuous mood, but you will not really be fighting her jealousy, you will be just dealing with a circumstance.

I expect three kinds of criticism to this idea.

First, and most difficult, is the small-scale counter-example. Let’s say, two people talking about the government.

This is really a big problem to my argument because the two people are behaving (talking) in such a way that cannot be explained without reference to things that are not, in the slightest sense, there. The usual proceedings of a conversation — one speaks and the other one waits till he’s over and then speaks also — are very predictable and answer to simple and immediate rules, but the “content” of what they are saying does not. Actually, the very idea that there is “content” already shows that there is at least one level of experience that exceeds the present circumstance — the content itself.

The answer to that criticism is that there is no strict limit to a circumstance. The circumstance does not consist exclusively to what the subject can see or hear or feel. There is no reliable way to determine what is “present” to the subject, that is, any attempt to circumscribe what is or is not “part” of a circumstance is bound to be severely biased.

Therefore, it is possible to use mechanisms that enhance our grasp of our own circumstance (but, important distinction, not really enhancing the circumstance itself). So, when one is talking about the weather, the knowledge that some insect will make sounds when the air pressure goes down might help us deal with a rain that is likely to drop, even if it is not really there yet. In the same way, social norms stipulate what one should answer or not prompted about the government or something like that.

And the real heart of the question is that such social norms are not an abstract thing independent from the circumstance, but indeed a very real, graspable part of it. The social norm exists only as long as people act on them. In other words, the disgruntled face expression of my interlocutor when i speak about some taboo theme (say, circumcision, atheism, or that corruption is a good thing) is not an symptom of the social norms — on the contrary, the idea of “social norms” is just a way of speaking about those frowns.

The second kind of criticism, the large-scale counter-example, might sound difficult, but is actually much more simple than the first. Let’s say, the Justice System (which should be a direct consequence of Justice) or the Academic World (which should be a consequence of Science). All of those systems are actually bureaucracies with very specific and graspable norms of behavior imposed upon their participants not by Justice or Truth, but by their peers. They try to have an overall effect that is near enough the effects that the proposed out-of-circumstance entity would have, but it is always at best an approximation.

Third, there is the argument that it is just another way of saying. That it doesn’t matter if i call Jealousy a circumstance or a Feeling or a Ideal, it still is what it is, and it still have the same consequences — it will still make the girl not wanting to stay over.

And, in part, i do accept this argument. Because if one does not want to negotiate over Jealousy, over Love, over Truth or whatever, he will not negotiate, whether those things are Gods, Ideas or Situations. And deciding to negotiate over those things or not is not a matter of philosophy, but rather of politics, of interpersonal power, and after all, of ethics. And, to be clear, most people choose to NOT negotiate them by default.

But, once one wants to negotiate, knowing that nothing exists that is not a part of the circumstance makes life o big fat lot easier.

[[Other posts that might be related: ONTOLOGY OF REACH series.]]


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