Is Identity Somehow Intrinsic Within Reality Or Is It Man Made?

Thanks for this question Morpheus. In answering your question I am actually able to communicate some of the philosophy that took me years to develop. This question is especially meaningful to me. Identity/structure is intrinsic in nature and mind. I knew this before I discovered Piaget, but it “feels good” to have somebody agree with you.

By locating the source of cognitive structure in the sensorimotor activity of babies, Piaget opened up the possibility that “structure” was grounded in “nature”– not in “mind.” Through his investigations, he was able to show how the subject and object poles of experience are products of experience. For Piaget then, cognitive-awareness is not something we are born with; rather it is the product of an ongoing developmental process. This is important because it tells us that logic stems from a sort of spontaneous organization of activity,– that the pre-condition for knowledge is an assimilation of a given external into the structures of the subject,– and that out of these subjective structures arise, phoenix like, the genesis of self-awareness. Thus, not only do we find the relationship of context/form interdependence in the ongoing activity of accommodation/assimilation of environment, we also find it in the relationship that binds natural structure to cognitive structure.

However, intelligence did not arise, phoenix like, from natural structure, but rather is permitted by the size and complexity of the human brain. For me, “self-consciousness” and content/form interdependence are identical– self-consciousness being contingent upon the evolution of the human brain. In other words, the same content/form interdependence that occurs in nature is not only what Piaget calls the center of functional activity of intelligence, it also is what gets called human self-consciousness—the content/form interdependence, which is found in both nature and mind.

What are three (or more) philosophical concepts, doctrines or movements that you find interesting?

Those of us who seek answers to ultimate questions are attracted to philosophical doctrines expressing inclusiveness and coherence. Your list suggests that you are one of those people (me to). But, here I offer a slightly different approach, a structural one that suggests a “necessary code” (the synchronic and diachronic components of experience), which make possible the expression of philosophy, reason, and language:

In language study the concept of “irreducibility” is a universal concern of all structuralist thought. In Saussure this desire becomes fulfilled in his systematic and holistic interpretation of language. It started with language, but Saussure’s idea that language can be understood synchronically, frozen in time, has inspired many structural investigations into the “hidden code” that other proponents of structuralism believe lies at the heart of myths, literature, and history.

Cassirer, Mead, and Piaget, the three who in different fields ran with this approach, all responded to the synchronic/diachronic approach to human experience. The conclusions of all three men, in the end, converged (Cassirer/epistemology, Mead/sociology, and Piaget/psychology). Whereas Cassirer found the origin and evolution of symbolic meaning to reside in the “work” of man, Piaget, in a like manner, put the origin of structure and the symbolic content that it generates, in the organisms capacity for action. Mead did something very similar, however, let Howard Gardner’s description of Piaget’s psychology speak for all three here:

“Piaget reached a crucial insight: the activity of an organism can be described or treated logically, and logic itself stems from a sort of spontaneous organization of activity. At this time he also formulated the notion that all organisms consist of structures–i.e., of parts related within a whole–and that all knowledge is an assimilation of a given external into the structures of the subject.” [Howard Gardner, The Quest for Mind, Piaget, Levi-Strauss, and the Structuralist Movement, 1973, p.54]


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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One Response to Is Identity Somehow Intrinsic Within Reality Or Is It Man Made?

  1. bwinwnbwi says:

    “Whatever we call reality, it is revealed to us only through the active construction in which we participate.” [Ilya Prigogine, Order Out Of Chaos]

    “In short, rather than envisaging human knowledge as a pyramid or building of some sort, we should think of it as a spiral the radius of whose turns increases as the spiral rises…This means, in effect, that the idea of structure as a system of transformations becomes continuous with that of construction as continual formation.” [Jean Piaget, Structuralism, 1970, p. 34]

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