Phenomenological phenology

by woceht

I have phenomenology on my mind today, thanks to Enoch Root (via Neal Stephenson in the Cryptonomicon).

phe·nom·e·nol·o·gy noun \fi-ˌnä-mə-ˈnä-lə-jē\

  1. The science of phenomena as distinct from that of the nature of being.
  2. An approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience.

Namely the notion that words and names and deities are but signifiers for the firing of neurons that results in an experience.  Why am I even writing about this?  I’m not even really sure, save it has something to do with capturing a personal eureka moment for posterity I guess.  Some ideas I’ve been wrangling with kind of fell into place for a moment.

One very powerful symbol I have been pondering is that of the pendulum (courtesy of Griffin Ced, a wise person who spouts all kinds of useful things from time to time)–as a representation of periods and cycling (incidentally phenology).  One can strive for balance but balance is not a good state to be in indefinitely because then stagnation happens.  For progress the pendulum must swing.  There will always be new things to learn so diving away from moments of clarity into confusion and uncertainty and tension and a certain amount of groping around in the dark is necessary to incorporate and integrate new ideas.  This isn’t very fun when one is in the dark, and I’m happy to be on the upswing again, but in retrospect I think I should learn to enjoy doubt and uncertainty more given how useful it is.

The thing about phenomenology is this idea of subjectivity.  Let me illustrate with an example from Root.  When we encounter the word “Athena” as individual subjects…which neurons fire? And what is the subjective downstream effect of this firing?  Do we share anything in either of those processes?  And if there is a common human story myth dream running across space and time then do we each get some similar idea of what Athena represents in this global context?  If the matter pertains only to me, then I have to search internally for any personal meaning of the symbol.  This is useful for such instances as delving into the subconscious mind, and considering personal matters of spirituality.  Then there is also the matter of how to relate my personal dreaming to the collective human dream.  And then there is also language and how to relate concepts in waking defined existence.

I guess all of the above can apply, when pondering a concept.  I can tap within for my own internal understanding, as well as delve even deeper to access the common dream for insight.  I can also read/ask around, and see what other people think/have thought of this symbol, taking context into account.  Spider, anyone? Much obliged.