To understand how we understand the world it is necessary to look deeper into the process of perception. If we create a model whereby the world of objects is cognized, we must postulate something which cognizes (re-cognizes) objects. This is what we call the subject. It is the subject which observes, and the objects which are observed. Since I am what is observing it then follows that I am the subject. But what happens when I stand in front of a mirror and recognize what I see as myself? How can I be both the subject and the object? Could it be that what I "identify" with is not actually what I am? Or if I am both subject and object, am I all the objects I observe? In the book "The Tenth Man" (See Non-Fiction sidebar) author Wei Wu Wei says this:
What-we-are cannot be comprehended because there cannot be any comprehender apart from what-we-are to comprehend what-we-are. If a comprehender could comprehend itself there would be a subject comprehender and it's object comprehended, and the comprehending subject would again become an object, the object of a comprehender. A perpetual regression is then reached, as always.
Must not what-we-are, then be that perpetual regression, the perpetual regression of subject becoming the object of a subject ad infinitum? Dialectically, dualistically, phenomenally, it must surely be so, for phenomenon is the appearance of noumenon which thereby itself becomes a conceptual appearance, or phenomenon, of noumenon, ad infinitum. Zenith has a Nadir, which must have a Zenith, and so with all opposites and all complementaries for ever and ever.
The point of all this is that if we are ever going to be able to see the patterns that have created the "world as it is", we need to challenge our very mechanism of perception and our assumptions about what we observe including our assumptions about ourselves as the observers. One of my favorite analogies is that we are like someone who "knows" how to drive and who gets in the car, adjusts the seat, puts his hands on the rear view mirror and drives off down the road. Sooner or later he comes to a curve in the road and smacks into the guard rail. He then gets up, dusts himself off, maybe tells himself how tough life is, gets back in the car, puts his hands on the rear view mirror and continues driving down the road, until he comes to the next curve and repeats the process. So this is the point of this blog, to explore how we can get our hands on the wheel so that we can deal with the curves a little more skillfully and hopefully we can begin to address the fact that as a species, we are approaching a large curve in the road with sheer drops on either side and our hands are on the rear view mirror.