A Piece of the Conversation (2013)
6″ x 25″
A Piece of the Conversation illustrates an interesting relationship between first principles from different philosophical eras. Start the cycle with THIS CANNOT NOT BE. You may select as a reference for “THIS” the expression I THINK (as included in this piece) or pick out anything in the environment, let’s say the wall in front of you, and proclaim that THIS CANNOT NOT BE. That is, the wall cannot be there as you experience it and simultaneously not be there. THIS CANNOT NOT BE is in one respect my shorthand for Aristotle’s principle of contradiction from his Metaphysics: “It is impossible for the same thing to belong and not to belong at the same time to the same thing and in the same respect.” Continuing on, after doubting (CAN IT NOT BE), I THINK seems like a plausible answer without all the metaphysical hoopla. Are we not fooled in our perceptions of things all the time? Descartes was concerned with this problem. The transition to modernism in philosophy is generally agreed to have happened when Descartes employed the method of doubt in an attempt to find a first philosophy, something that could not possibly be doubted. Eventually he reached the point where the only thing that he could not doubt was I THINK. It seems logical that insofar as doubting is thinking that it is impossible to deny that thinking is essential and indubitable. Interestingly, the affirmation that one cannot doubt they are a thinking thing necessitates that they hold as indubitable that they cannot be thinking and not thinking at the same time. But that is what we doubted to begin with.