Philosophical Poems

THE OF PHILOSOPHY PROBLEM

by Tony Buzan

 

The problem,
of course,
is to decide whether or not
to act
(a problem
which subsumes the earlier problem
of ‘to be’
which will remain unanswered
until we fully understand the nature
of ‘to be’
and the manner in which that nature
can be terminated by that
which possesses it).
And to decide also whether the act
of thinking
about whether or not
to act
is action
in itself
and therefore a form of solution
to the problem
that arose in the first place,
or not an action in itself
and therefore not an immediate solution
but perhaps a method
by
or through
or with the assistance of which
a solution
might
be found.

 

However,
if we consider thinking
about action
to be in itself
an action,
then could not
thinking
about thinking
about action
add a new dimension
to the action
in which one is involved?
And would not
this new dimension
in some way add to the total action?

 

This line of thinking
can, of course, be extended:
if thinking
about thinking
about whether or not
to act
is ‘more’ action
than simply thinking
about whether or not
to act,
then surely thinking
about thinking
about whether or not
to act
will similarly involve more action
than the mathematically inferior examples
which preceded.
And so on ad infinitum
until one approaches the maximum
of action
possible.

 

If,
on the other hand,
thinking
about action
is action
but not
so much action,
then thinking
about thinking
about whether or not
to act
could be considered to be
action
once removed
from action
once removed,
and therefore an entry
into a pattern of thought
leading the thinker,
although still in the realm of action,
farther and farther away from his goal
and nearer and nearer to the boundary
which distinguishes action
from non-action.

 

Thirdly,
if
thinking
about action
is not
action,
then thinking
about thinking
about action
could be considered to be
non action
once removed
and therefore not
only
a non action
in itself,
but in fact
an entry
into a totally
negative-goal territory
from which the thinker
might find it difficult
to escape.

 

Whichever
of these possibilities is chosen,
the result is involvement
in a form of thought mirror process:
infinite progressions
or regressions
serving either to solve
and continually more solve
the problem,
or serving to remove
and continually more remove
the thinker
from the problem.
To solve
the problem
asymptotically
so to speak
by reaching a solution
at the point
where the asymptotic line
become tangential
with its parallel,
or to not solve the problem
by veering exponentially away
from the desired line
of action,
or to not solve the problem
by becoming embroiled
in that which it absolutely,
and in every aspect
including the consideration
of it,
is not.

 

And yet
it must be remembered
that things have a tendency to move
‘full circle’.
if we take the case,
previously considered,
where thinking
about action
constitutes more action,
then could it perhaps be
that as the thinker
thinks
about thinking
about thinking
about whether or not
to act
and so on to infinity,
he approaches,
at the same time as he is approaching
the solution,
the anti solution?
Does he,
like the mythical traverser
of the relativistic universe,
arrive at the point from which he started
just at the moment
when he assumed his goal had been reached?

And similarly,
if thinking
about action
is action
but less action
or not
action,
then could it perhaps be
that as the thinkers
think
about thinking
about thinking
about whether or not
to act
they, while approaching
their respective
absolute
anti solutions,
are in fact
simultaneously approaching
the absolute solution?

 

Having arrived
at this particularly difficult
and apparently confusing
juncture
we can remove ourselves from the problem
in Time terms
by returning to the state that existed
before we became involved in it.
We can ask:
is there, in fact,
a problem?
Should one act?
Should one think?
Should one think
about whether or not
to act?
There are possibly, the solutions
or not
even asking the question,
of not
even thinking
about the problem
and of not
being concerned with solutions;
because the questions
may be irrelevant
because it may not
be a problem
and because solutions
themselves
do not
have to be thought about
even if they do exist.

 

In view of the preceding
it is incumbent upon us
to define ‘problem’
in the first place;
to decide which of the various
accepted conceptualisations
of the term
is adequate:

 

‘doubtful or difficult question’
‘thing hard to understand’
‘proposition in which something
has to be constructed’
‘inquiry starting from given conditions
to investigate a fact, result, or law’
‘a question posed for academic discussion
or scholastic disputation’
‘the question involved in a syllogism
and of which the conclusion is the solution
or answer’
‘a difficult question posed for solution’

 

for indeed
deciding on the definition
of problem
can itself
be seen as a problem
of no small magnitude
(and it should be noted
that we are here aware
of the difficulty presented
by the naming
of the finding
of a definition
of the word problem
as a problem).

 

But,
to continue
the suggestions
usually put forward
themselves contain the difficulty
that is manifest in the original difficulty
of attempting to define
‘problem’.
For,
considering the examples given,
what really is a thing
(and even more obscure, a something)?
and do we fully understand
understanding?
and are there any incontrovertible
facts
or laws?
and if we accept a word like ‘question’
do we not accept in that word a similar quality
to that which we are trying to define
when we do not accept,
without considerable further investigation
the word ‘problem’?
and finally
(that is,
not in the absolute sense
but only in our immediate
consideration
of definition)
can we accept the word ‘solution’
if we have not defined its antecedent?
And yet
is not this word necessary
in that a conclusion
may be considered
as part of that which it concludes
and thus ‘solution’
becomes a necessary substrate
of the work
at the root
of our dilemma
and worthy of consideration itself
confronting us with a philosophical torsion
similar to that which must have confronted
Heisenberg
when first he began to realise
that he could not
measure the weight
of that in motion
or the motion
of that known weight.

 

After all,
what is a solution
to a problem?
Is it not
only one
particular perceptual perspective,
of which,
of course,
by definition
of the multiordinate nature
of observable realities
there can be infinitely many?
(Difficulty is confronted by those
who pursue the possibility
that solutions do not exist.

 

If they do not,
then surely neither does that
of which they are a part
namely the problem
unless the whole,
being made up of parts
which are nothing;
can become something;
the intriguing problem
of whether nought
added to noughts
can increase the value of nought,
and giving rise,
in this context,
to the question
of whether a problem
is that which can be solved.
The above discursion
returns us happily
to the problem
of whether if all problems
have solutions
and if each problem
has an infinite variety
of such solutions
then is not
that which can be infinitely solved
(the ‘problem’)
somehow outside the sphere
of that which is normally considered
to be encompassed by the concept of ‘problem’.

 

But
if solutions
are seen as extant
is there any point
in attempting to find them?
and if they don’t exist
or are conceived to exist
but do not
then what
of the original problem?
Could we not
simply accept that solutions
exist,
and/or accept the paradox of problem?

 

Can this philosophy be attacked
on the basis that acceptance
of a situation
is action
itself?
If I receive from the other
then in some way
may i not
be seen as acting
in that the offerer
has made a gesture
and I actively
do not respond?
If one consciously does not
respond
is one consciously acting
to not
act?

 

Apart from
these initial considerations
but nevertheless
inextricably linked to them,
lies the problem
of trying to decide
on those various aspects of action
which bear on the final decision
of whether or not
to act
to whit.
How much action?
and so on….

 

In addition
to the various possible aspects of action
one has to consider
motives for wishing to perform
the chosen action
as well as
reasons for action
in the first instance
as well as
a definition
of the word ‘action’
as well as
a definition
of self
a definition
of self
in relation
to action
and an appraisal of self
in relation to
and in the context of
an environment
part of which is going to be acted upon
and part of which, the actor, the self, will
act.
etc.

 

These considerations
themselves give rise to various forms
of moral dubiety
for if the individual
involves himself
in action,
he is by definition
changing his surroundings –
changing environment –
giving rise to the question
of whether change
is desirable in and of itself
or whether such change
is desirable only in specific instances.

 

This last point
raises the entire question
of morality:
or the rightness
or wrongness
of rightness:
is that which the individual himself
and himself
alone
considers to be right
right?
or is that which the majority elect
as a course of action
correct?
or is there an objective form
of logic or reason,
only random happenstance?
or is chaos
as a function
of orderlessness
ordered
for us
by us?
or does divine power
dictate the code
and is that code
arbitrary or absolute
and how
do we know?

 

If we
say we
know
because he did this
or because he did that,
visited us, wrote, sent a messenger,
how
do we know
how
do we know
we know?
is he only?
did our eyes deceive?
was the writing his?
who
said to
who
the messenger was real?

 

This last evolution
of the discussion
shows how far we have come
from those vulgar, petty, previous disputes
over analogous conception
(disregarding the veiled pun
(itself
itself)
but time
that other
intriguing avenue for exploration,
dictates a return to the self
and the consideration
of the actor
and the acted upon.
Can the actor, the subject, the I
act upon the object, the thou
objectively?
does not
act
upon it?
and furthermore
does that upon which he wishes to act
act
more upon him
and upon the action
if the action
actually takes place?
for it the action
involves both the I
and the thou
then they are part of the same thing
and cannot
be separated
except to remove action
and thus the point
to this deliberation.
Does the object,
in fact,
control that which acts
upon it?
for by its existence
it directs the will of that
which ostensibly has control.
Does not
the stone
which draws the dury of the hammer bearer
control
that fury?
for in the moments of frenzy
when all energy
is directed
to destruction
all else is protected,
despite the casual observations
of unschooled observers
that the situation
was ‘out of control’.

 

If
this is the case,
is there any validity
to the concept
of freedom of will?
either the I
and the thou
are separate
or they are not.
If they are
as we have seen,
the thou
though a thou
to the I
when first presented,
can transform:
the thou
becomes I
to the I
now thou
the I
becomes thou
to the thou
now I –
the actor
the acted upon
the acted upon
the reverse.

 

In a sense
this brings us back
to the original situation
although one step further on.
With the I
as thou
and the thou
as I
the new I
will presumably exercise control.
But
if this is the case
is not
this controller
controlled
in that the previous I
now thou
is the object
acted upon,
and by reference to previous argument
it can be seen
that the
which is acted upon
has a certain control.

 

Thus the now though
once I
becomes I
and the now I
once thou
becomes thou,
a development
which leads progressively in time
to a previous state.

 

Instead of
a resolution
in which I
to thou
or thou
to I
denoted action
directed from one to another
we find that I
to thou
and thou
to I
lead to I
to thou
to I
to thou
incessantly
where to
is to
in that it is a denotation
of action
from one
to one
from the self
to itself
changed –
itself
To another being in state –
from I
to I
as thou
from thou
to thou
as I,
from the subject
or object
to itself
as object
or subject
and not
from subject
as subject
to object.
Are, then,
they they
to the two
in the one
become we
become one?
is the one
really bigger than each?
are they three?
is the we of the one and one?
do the one and the one equal we?
do the one and the one equal one and the one equal two?
do the one and the one equal two and the two equal one?
do the one and the one equal one and the one equal three?
do the one and the one equal none in the one they are in?
do the one and the one equal two and the two equal two?
do the one and the one and the one they are in equal one?
do the one and the one and the one they are in equal two
and the one they are in?
do the one and the one and the one they are in equal one
and one and the one they are in plus the one of one
and one and the one they are in?
do the one and the one and the one they are in equal one
and one and the one they are in plus the one of one
and the one they are in plus the one of one and one
and the one they are in and the one of one and one
and the one they are in and the one of one and one
and the one they are in and the one of one and one
and the one they are in?

Is a whole just the same of its bits?
can a bit be distinct from its whole?
Is the whole still a whole in the absence of bit
and do some of the bits make a bit of the whole?
If the bit of a whole called a whole bit is bit –
is a bit of a whole bit a whole or a bit?
do the bits of the sum make the sum or just some of the whole?
if a whole is a whole is a bit still a bit if it’s in it?
A bit is a little more than a bit
and the whole with no bit is nothing at all
but little than more than
has little bits too
so
little of little than more than
is
bigger than bigger than little of more than
Is
the larger than less than
then lesser than too?
and is less than large
larger than
less than
more than
less than
large?
Perhaps,
then,
in view of these
apparently inevitable involutions,
and more important
than any of the previous considerations,
is the consideration
of the linguistic though process
used in confronting the kind of problem
with which we are dealing.
Is thinking
about action
in linguistic terms
really thinking
about the subject
with which one is concerned?
or could action
be a concept
and percept
entirely removed
from the linguistic
process of thinking
about it?
Is linguistic
thinking
about action
perhaps totally irrelevant to the action
that one would eventually perform,
being inferior to certain non-linguistic
methods of thinking
about action?
Or are in fact
both linguistic
and non-linguistic

methods of thinking
about action
irrelevant to the final action?
Or,
then again,
is not
the thought process in this context
itself
dependent upon linguistics?
And is every thought
based on linguistic
assumptions?
In view of all this
ought not
one simply to perform,
observing
the results.

 

(an intriguing side issue
is raised by the inclusion
here
of the concept observer.
If
the action
is to be performed by the observer
then the observer
can in some way be said to observe
that which is part of himself,
his extension so as to speak.
Accepting this as empirically demonstrated
and theoretically feasible,
we can move on to a further development
of the concept of observer:
the observer
observing
himself,
not so much in the sense of extension
as intention –
an internal examination
of that which stretches inwardly
away from the observer’s
viewing eye.
In
previous sections
of the argument
we have already seen that the thinker
can stand back from
that about which he is thinking,
can think
about his thinking
and so on.
Can he then similarly observe
his observations?

 

It seems,
again on an empirical
and rational
basis
that most thinkers
do indeed perform this action
with little difficulty.
simple
as this may sound
there lies within this development
a fundamental question
of major proportion.

 

If the observer
is observing
himself
observing
he must surely be observing
only a part of himself
for the part which is observing
could not
it would seem
be at the same time
observing
itself.
As he moves back in perspectives
and dimensions
of thought-time
observing
himself
observing
himself
and so on ad infinitum
does the observer
farthest removed
continually grow larger in relation
to the self
observers
he is observing
and thus continually see
less and less
of himself,
or does he grow continually smaller
in relation
to his self
observers,
thus eventually approaching a total self
realisation?
Can the observer
observe
all?
Is all
that he observes
himself?
Can, then,
the one
observe
the one?
The eye
the whole I?

 

which still
does not
yet
really involve us
in the even more intriguing question
of just what
or who
is it
making the final observation,
and how?

 

However,
going back
to the problem
of linguistics
and thought
and action
could it not
be
(not to say that it could not be
nor to not say it could be
nor not to not say it could not be
nor yet not to say it could not not be)
but could it not
be
that linguistics
is simply one
of perhaps an infinite number of languages
by means of which
one could consider the problem?

 

And yet
if one considers
aspects of something
from the viewpoint
of different languages,
is not
one’s action
going to be conceived
and performed differently?
If
it is,
one is faced with the problem
of trying to decide
with which language
the problem
should be considered.
it may well transpire
that linguistic
thought
about action
is not
the kind of language
with which one should become involved.
One must consequently attempt
to discover other languages,
but
other languages
such as imagist, conceptual and intuitive
are themselves wrapped
in the language
which gives them nomenclature,
and therefore probably do not
reflect
exactly what they are
or what one means them to be
or what one thinks
one means them
to be.
must we,
then,
describe other languages
only in the language
of those languages,
themselves?

 

Or,
seen from another angle,
is thinking
in linguistic
terms
about action
the same as
using a symbolic framework
which surrounds, prods, pokes at,
comes near to
but never
in fact
contacts
the actual elements of the problem
with which the thinker
is involved?
Or is linguistic thinking
a method of seeing
through a certain kind of lens,
a certain kind of reality?
Does each word act
as a microscope
or telescope
which focuses on an object
more clearly than could be accomplished
without that instrument?

 

Can this lens analogy itself
be extended?
Is that through which one observes
a new reality
by magnification
necessarily distorting
that which it is attempting
to observe?
If our words are like telescopes
or microscopes,
and these instruments distort,
do we
in attempting to capture
the essence of things
with words,
distort
all we approach?

 

Further
to this
does any instrument
through which one perceives
a certain reality,
by definition
of its own existence
warp or transmute
that which it is attempting to observe?
Does therefore the language,
regardless of whether it magnifies or not,
simply by being a transmitter
or recorder,
necessarily change the nature
for the perceiver
of the object
or idea
he thinks
he perceives?

 

(Perhaps more seriously
more seriously,
the philosopher should dwell briefly
on the problem,
just raised
about our vision of the sidereal universe.
If magnification
does indeed distort
and if the transmitter
transmits part of itself
to its message,

 

Can we be sure
of all that surrounds us?
Does the astronomer,
increasingly
and increasingly
forever
removed from his certainties,
himself
a point of resolution
recording only waves
rays rhythms beast beams
and colours
receive no meanings?
Is his quasar dotted
topless
bottomless
black-hole studded
universe
a function of his instrument?

 

Do our wordscopes
lead us to the same suffused non-conclusions?

 

Returning,
though,
to the problem
of language
and thought
and action,
let us consider
the thinker
thinking
he has decided
upon an action.

 

The point that remains
to be clarified
is:
if he thinks
he has found it verbally
has he
in fact
done so
or has
another process been in operation
while he has been thinking
he has been thinking
in linguistic terms
about finding a solution
to the problem
of action?

 

In fact
thinking
about thinking
about action
itself
may not
have anything to do
with the actual action
in which he eventually becomes involved –
other processes
or another process
may have been co-existentially significant.
This other stream,
greater river,
may be the prime mover,
the language
that subsumes all others,
the Language
of languages,
which can never be identified
because of the inclusion
in its definition
of unidentifiability.

 

This could indicate
that thinking linguistically
is simply one part
of an interminable series of cogs
engaging in a significant series
of series,
an infinite watch
if you will
and that it
itself
is necessary
as is each
of the others
each
enabling each
and all
to turn.

 

Similarly,
that which contains
and constructs
such
systems,
and the philosopher is one
such
must
by its nature
be similarly
though more intricately
constructed.
The philosopher
thinker observer,
then,
begins
with a part
of himself
to perceive
a part
of himself
as a totally
interlinked
interlaced
and interwoven
filigree,
a network
of problem
solving
and solution
finding
capabilities –
a network,
infinitely associative,
naturally limitless,
universally uncontained
that can unravel
any problem
But similarly can intricate it endlessly
and into pointlessness…………………………………………………………….