May 22, 2008
Kant has suggested that flies serve the purpose of making the lazy human exercise. Well, suddenly I have become interested in flies. We were on the deck just now and Y was batting the flies (and she is about now 80% accurate, through practice and Japanese upbringing). And, under the influence of my medicine, while wanting to start my meditations on Kant, I noticed a fly, and this time I was more aware than ever of the fact that they are literally quicker than the eye. Wow. Suddenly it hit me! That was an Anschauung, our own particular take on things.
I decided to look carefully and testify, as before a court, as to what I saw when I tracked a fly. I would see the fly, and I would see it move, and then I would not see it, and then suddenly I would see a fly (the same or another I cannot say) and I would follow him and he wiggled so quickly and then again the same thing, he vanishes and then there suddenly is a fly wiggling before me.
So what are the takes on this? Well, one take is that the fly goes into and out of existence, i.e., it is a thing on its own and they do what they do, they simply are what they are. And so flies belong to that category of beings that out of existence, and a replaced by other flies, or else they come back into existence. Two takes really, in and out of existence once only, or many times.
It could also be that the fly is invisible. But thatâ€™s quite a leap with regard to any take on things. Here we imagine that the fly is always in existence independently of ourselves and we imagine ourselves perceiving the fly sometimes and sometimes not. I see the fly and then I donâ€™t, still looking at the same area of space. I also see the fly and then I donâ€™t because I have walked into the house and the fly (hopefully) is trapped outside. In the first case I would say that the fly had become invisible, i.e., was in space before me at the time I was looking for it and was not perceived, was not even though it was there and I was looking at the space which contained that fly. And I am then able, I think, to compare this â€œlack of sightingâ€ with the similar â€œlack of sightingâ€ but in another space and time, and am able to unify them as my own perceptions. The experience I draw from all this is that the fly is faster than the eye.
And so there we have two entirelyÂ different takes on this episode of the fly:
1. the fly is a thing on its own and it goes in and out of existence as it will or as it does, and
2. the fly is thing on its own and what we see are not this thing on its own, but rather its impressions on us, the specter or appearance of that thing on its own to me.
Likewise, for comparison,
1. the face that I spy in the cloud is a real face (which thus must be perceived as such from others, but is rarely the case), for the cloud is a real thing on its own and it does what clouds do, go in and out of existence, get angry, get peaceful, get faces, get shapes, get dark, etc., and
2. the face that I spy in the cloud is a product of my own imagination working upon the cloud, and a cloud is the way some aspect of existence appears to me, e.g., there is a real thing, say water droplets (but really are also specters), and we are seeing the effect on us.
So if a person took specters for things on their own, he would suffer from an illusion, for he would believe that faces in clouds and clouds and flies were things on their own and which existed on their own exactly as he was witnesses, e.g., getting smaller at a distance, and would require all people to concur with him in his judgment or else hold them as lunatics or concerted mockers.
Filed under: Kant