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A river analogy

Written by jayson. No comments Posted in: Metaphysics, Philosophy

Imagine a river, indefintiely wide and indefinitely long.

Along the riverbed are rocks that cause various flows, whirlpools, standing water. If a rock is added, moved, or taken away, the flow, and therefore entire picture of the river taken at any one time, changes.

There are areas in the river that flow quickly. There is a buildup of energy that eventually moves around the rocks, but this does not make the rocks obstacles – it merely changes the way the river becomes.

This riverbed and the river together represent reality as it is created. The rocks represent abstractions. They are necessary for the river to be and to flow, but change the flow of the river in fundamental ways.

The flow of the river is the power process. It will form loops, pools, etc. We could take any one point in the river, and reference it as an actualizer; an abstraction of this sort would make the river appear unique from the perspective of that point in the river.

The river believes in the rocks, and its goals are defined by them. As it flows, it may create more abstractions, move ones that were there, or wear away and those that have been sitting there for a long time.

The river, being indefinitely long, has no perceivable end. If the river could abstract itself (have an ego), it may create abstractions around the end of its journey in order to maintain its desire to flow. If it did not have a downward path to follow, it would not flow – it must feel as if there is an end, or at least motivation, in order to move. If there were no riverbed, the river would not exist.

The point of this analogy is to illustrate that the abstractions and rituals that the we create and use are necessary, and non-arbitrary. A great many of them are in place when you are born, and many of those are required for you to have been born and have a consciousness in the first place. It is important to not treat the idea of abstractions as bad – a pitfall that many proponents of relativism fall into, that I like to call “mere-ism”. This is a practice of using reason to attack abstractions as “merely” abstractions to destroy the ones that you don’t agree with, all the while supplanting your own abstractions in their place. It is practiced by many existentialists and post-modern deconstructionists.

It should also be illustrated that the river is both in the riverbed and creating it at the same time. They are inseperable, and if inseperable, one does not exist without the other and can be treated as one. If we could get out of it, we wouldn’t want to; we are it.

Abstractions are necessary and non-arbitrary – without them, there would be no reality. There are always reasons why they have been made, and those reasons are precieved in the values that people express.

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