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Arab Philosophy (Epistemology)

A boy stripped nude,
from his turban and gown.
Stood frozen in his place,
with a shivering frown.
__In silent humility,
__without voice or sound.

‘Tis the fate of chawing,
wads of razor and rule.
Cut tongue and bald head:
the blank slate of a fool.
__Paralyzed beyond hope,
__and ever-fed with a spoon.

Listen to the wisdom,
of Arabs in their youth.
‘Tis the sword, not the razor,
that defines the Truth.
__It slices through falsehood,
__without pity or ruth.(1)

And let not the Pen deceive,
An eager boy taught to “Read!”
‘Tis a wand that will cast,
a hunger you cannot feed.
__They serve but the Blade,
__The Master of the Reed.(2)

السيف أصدق أنباء من الكتب *** في حده الحد بين الجد واللعب (أبو تمام)

حتى رجعت وأقلامي قوائل لي *** المجد للسيف ليس المجد للقلم
أكتب بنا أبدا بعد الكتاب به *** فإنما نحن للأسياف كالخدم (المتنبي)ـ

Gamous and Gamal

I sleep for twelve hours,
to be fair to both lives.
As I walk the fine-line,
between knowledge,
and true lies.

Yes, I have two lives!!
The first imposing,
and the other care free.
The one has expectations,
but the second lets me be.

Riding two animates,
has become my fate.
One in the morning and one at late.
Between river and mirage,
I alternate.

Space-Time-Being in Arabic (2)

As I stand closing my eyes under the rain, the drops of water splash on my skin. Each drop brings a sensual experience. With each drop an experience chasing After me comes Before me. I am constantly feeling the “future” unfold before me.

As I sit closing my eyes before the ocean, the crashing waves reach my ears. Each wave brings a sensual experience. With each crash an experience chasing After me comes Before me. I am constantly hearing the “future” unfold before me.

As I enter the market in Old Cairo, the rainbow of fragrances fills my nose. Each spice and oil brings a sensual experience. With each smell an experience chasing After me comes Before me. I am constantly smelling the “future” unfold before me.

As I lay at night in my bed, the dreams of my mind roam in my head. Each scene brings a sensual experience. With each visualization, an experience chasing After me comes Before me. I am constantly dreaming the “the future” unfold before me.

The future is after you and will soon be before you. The future is the unseen, the yet to be experienced. The past is that which passed from behind and is now before you. There is the unseen, and the seen. There is the hidden, and that which enters into the scene. There is the unexperienced and the experienced. There is the future behind you and the past before you.

I stand as a spectator to all this. I watch this emergence of the experienced before me and I react, but could never act. I, the Angstable Core, react to this ever-unfolding scene before me, but can never act. Angst is not the “dizziness of freedom”, but the “apprehension of helplessness”. I, the Core, am a spectator seeing this ever-unfolding scene before me, and I toggle between contempt and content, between fear and ease. I rotate and turn between a variety of reactions, but I can never act.

The Angstable Core is a free prisoner, it is free to react, but is imprisoned in the inability to act.

The Core experiences the ever-unfolding scene and intends. It intends to move forward, in reaction to an unfolding scene in the horizon, an unfolding sense from below, and an unfolding brush of air on the skin. The Core intends to stand, in reaction to an unfolding contraction of the legs, and unfolding stretch of the back. The Core witnesses the unseen as it emerges through the body onto the scene.

The body sees, hears, feels, smells, tastes and reasons. It reasons ways to figure what might emerge onto the scene through figures. It counts and counts on its counting in order to prepare for the advent of the emerging Before. The Core witnesses all this and reacts, but can never act. The Core can only realize the actions of the body and intend, or helplessly reject them.

The body channels the unfolding scene to the Core. The Core can only react to that which is emerging Before it. The body itself navigates its way through this perceived world. The body reacts and acts according to the senses of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. It also reacts and acts according to the sense of reason. It can also react and act according to the reaction of the Core. Yet the Core itself, can only react, but never act.

When eating, the body reacts and acts according to the sensation of the abdomen, the nose, eyes and tongue, and to the sense of reason, and to the reaction of the Core, and all what the Core can do is react.

I am the Core, but by virtue of my residence, I am also the body. This body in which I reside emerged in a certain place and time, all which the Core witness and reacts to, but can never act. This body in which I reside reacts and acts to the unfolding scene it perceives, and the Core witnesses and reacts, but can never act. I am the Core, but by virtue of my residence, I am the tanned, the male, the Egyptian, the American, the 29 year old, the son, the brother, the husband, the father, the student, the typing, the reading, the thinking… all of which my Core bears witness to, and reacts… but may never act.

My body reacts and acts the way other bodies act, whether they are human, mountains, water or trees, but my Core reacts the way Cores react… and they can never act.

To be continued…

Space-Time-Being in Arabic (1)

Whenever I get stuck while thinking about an issue, I starting thinking about it in the other language I know… then things start to get moving. This happened to me while struggling to understand and appreciate Graham Harman’s “vicarious causation”. To refresh my mind, I decided to try and build up to it in Arabic. So as I began to furnish the stage with the appropriate Arabic terms, I went on a tangent that I quite enjoyed.

Thinking about Space and Time in Arabicarabic anatomy

Interestingly, Arabic has a provoking usage of terms to reflect spatiality and temporality. The root Q-B-L is used for “front” and “before”, while D-B-R is used for “back” and “after”. This is counter-intuitive, and the best way I found to describe it in English was to use anterior and posterior. “Anterior” is used to reflect the front side, or “ahead of”. However, “antiquity” is used in reference to the past. Conversely, “posterior” is used to reflect the back side, or “behind”, while posterity is used in reference to the future.  This reflects the usage of Q-B-L and D-B-R in Arabic.

Now this is counter to the way we tend to imagine the relationship between space and time. Usually, we think of forward and future on-the-same-side-and-opposite-to behind and past. However, anterior/posterior provide a radically and paradigm-shifting perspective. I find the word “before” to capture this different perspective. Before-ness refers to that which is spatially in front of you as well as temporarily in the past.

The image that unfolds thinking this way, is not of a person facing and heading into the future, but rather a person being dragged backwards into the future while facing the past. To succinctly express this image I would say: “Future is after you and will soon be before you”.

When you think about this more, you realize that the Spatial Before is rather superficial. We are biased, due to the design of our bodies to think of Spatial Before as “in front”. However, if I were to use a type of optics that provides me with a 360 panoramic view, and I learned to get used to it, that would eliminate the normal front/back bias. What becomes of Spatial Before? In this case, Spatial and Temporal Before will both united into the same concept; that which is evident, or that which is experienced. Before-ness is that which is experienced.


If that is the case, then After-ness is that which is not experienced, because it has not been encountered yet (or was encountered but forgotten?).

Let’s say that I wear my 360 optics and look at the horizon. The landscape is before me, as I am experiencing it, it is all Before me. While doing so, there are numerous changes that are occurring, each of those changes, each new experience is an After reaching me and becoming Before me. In this scenario, I am passively experiencing the ever-arriving Before. If this were not a serene horizon I was watching, but a war zone for example, then I would be apprehensive of what might happen. I would not know what will enter, or push itself against the screen of my experience. That apprehension is an alternative way I understand Angst. For in this case, Angst is not the “dizziness of freedom”, but the “apprehension of helplessness”.

To be continued….

The Artifact of Logic

The beginning of man’s awareness is that of his Painful Want.

Painful Want is the first Fact and the only fundamental perception of man. Painful Want is not merely that which we feel with our skin, but reflects an unsettling inconvenience. Confronted with such disturbing inconvenience, man creates a world to dwell within in order to attain what he Wants and reduce that Pain. To create this world, man asserts his Being. When asserting your Being, you Are, or you Art. Art-ing, or Being, is the initial artifact (fact of Being) by which all other are made possible. Man is, bes and arts by virtue of the Painful Want which he seeks to escape. Man’s Being is the initial artifact. Thus revisiting Descartes famous statement, “I think therefore I am,” one must proceed it with a more fundamental one; “I am therefore I painfully want.

Painful Want

Painful Want

The next artifact man creates to ease the Pain of Want is happiness. Happiness is an artifact because there are only, for fact, grades of Painful Want. To speak of happiness is akin to speaking of ‘cold,’ when there are only grades of ‘heat.’ To suggest happiness is to suggest ‘darkness’ when there is only light or lack thereof. Painful Want is the only fundamental perception of man, but in his Painful Want to reduce his Painful Want he creates happiness.

Happiness is the second artifact of man, and it is by virtue of his be-ing (art-ness), that he produces such Art. Painful Want is the only fundamental perception of man, the only Fact, and happiness is an artifact. Thus, at this critical moment of awareness; this Big-Bang of awareness so to speak, Painful Want gives rise to the Art of Being which is followed by the artifact of happiness.

The purpose of Art is to reduce the Painful Want prior to Being, for it builds a world in which man may dwell, and by dwelling, man is distracted from the Painful Want. Instead of their being only grades of Painful Want, man artistically set against it an opponent. Thus with the creation of happiness came opposition and contrast, for man now, not only had the Fact of Painful Want, but it’s opposite; the artifact of Happiness. Opposition became man’s next artifact.

Man has now created a world in which he dwells; a world of not only Painful Want, but happiness; a world not only of things, but their opposites as well. However, Opposition gave rise to more artifacts; for when asserting Art, and resorted to Art to reduce Painful Want, man saw in Opposition an infinite world of artifacts.

Painful Want is the first fact of man, in it he sees himself, prior to Being. Happiness is an artifact in which man sees his aspired Being. Both Pain and Happiness reflect the same man (the fact and the artifact), but when held in opposition they give rise to an infinite world of artifacts, rooted in the fact of Painful Want, as is the case when two mirrors are held in front of each other. Thus man, to escape Painful Want created for himself a system that gave rise to an infinite world of Art and Facts.

Man marveled and dwelled in Opposition and saw it in room for another artifact, for when opposites oppose each other, a space is created, and the most Artful act man could think of is to find the centermost locus in this space. So man dwells in his Art, and as he dwelled in the artifact of opposition, he sought to find its centermost locus. The pursuit of the mean between the opposites becomes a work of art that fulfills man’s desire to reduce the Pain prior to Being, the Pain of Want.

Thus opposition gave rise to another artifact; the mean, from which rose the art and fact of symmetry. Symmetry is the result of creating happiness to oppose pain; and the Art of symmetry became an extension to man’s Being.

The Art of Being

The Art of Being

Perhaps most profound in man’s art is the artifact of equality, where not only did he find it artistic to divide and divide, but to do so with equality. Though he saw his hand divide into fingers of ‘unequal’ sizes; in his mind, he made division between the each finger equal. For man, not only counted, but did so artfully, in equal increments.

Equality allowed man to proceed with his art of happiness to cope with Painful Want. Equality is an artifact, it is a result of man’s Art-ing. However, not only was it a product of dividing between two opposites, but it also allowed man to re-collect that which he had divided. Furthermore, by creating happiness man had created a world of infinite artifacts, so not only did equality allow man to re-collect that which he had divided, but allowed him to gather that which had never before been one.  For man was now able to see equality between the infinite observations he saw in the night sky, and that equality was “star.” He saw equality between himself and the Other, and that equality was “man.” He, artistically dwelled in the equality between that which reduces the pain of his belly and that equality was “food.” Category became man’s next artifact.

And from the artifacts of equality and categories, he developed the Artifact of Logic.