Addendum to the essay "The Significance of Language Reconsidered, etc."

A Preliminary Overview of Christian Existential Phenomenology
(as explored in the above essay and the one that precedes it,
"Deconstruction and the 'Text' of Christianity, etc.).

I. PRELIMINARY ASSUMPTIONS:

1) Being is.

a. That existence is, is self-evident.
b. That "Being" encompasses more than the individual, who is but a part of it, is apparent.

2) Being is (loosely) apprehended through the mechanism of consciousness.

a. If you are reading this, you have consciousness, that is, exist with or in a state of "knowing."
b. "Being" can never be fully limited to conception as is held or defined by the human mind, only experienced by it.

3) Consciousness is based in language, which serves as its organizing principle.

a. Language enables us to articulate and communicate our apprehensions of Being, our interpretations of its "phenomena."
b. The term "phenomena" can be loosely defined as any event occurring along all possible event horizons in the universe (as it exists in its physical form and in the perceptions of the mind).

4) Through and in language, we encode and conceive of the phenomena of Being as "knowledge."

a. Rational knowledge is a product of consciousness and likewise is based in language.
b. "Knowledge" is a communal event, as is language.

5) We must begin with language if we are to understand "why" it is we "know" what we do about Being.

a. All epistemology and theory are based in language.

II. THE PHENOMENON, -A OF LANGUAGE

1) Understood in the empirical context of the larger universe, symbolic language is a "triadic" interaction that stands in contrast to all other known interactions, which are merely "dyadic."

a. It is only through the means of this "triad" that we can conceive of the "dyad."
b. Despite its utterly unique, distinctive nature, the existence of language seems commonplace to us because we are so immersed in it.

2) Symbolic language forms/structures the very (complex) substance of the phenomenon of human consciousness.

a. Human consciousness involves having a "world" even as the conscious subject exists in the "environment" [cf., Welt/Umwelt].
b. In contrast to the experience of other organisms, language gives us the unparalleled ability to re-present our experience in the "environment" in the abstract and to (re-)create it in our minds.

3) Symbolic language allows for "intersubjectivity," or shared consciousness, to occur between human subjects.

a. No matter how imperfect or flawed communication is (cf. deconstruction), it is a remarkable phenomenon.
b. Language (and intersubjectivity) is the root of all culture, civilization.

4) "Meaning" in language (i.e., the assertory event) is literally a "metaphysical" occurrence.

a. Language provides for mankind a "radical," "ontological" mode of being or "orientation" centrally concerned with the expression and assimilation of "meaning."
b. This recognition ushers in a renewed appreciation for metaphysical concerns when the premier assumption of the age is that of the tenet of empirical science. (cf. the metaphysical paradox of science).

The central questions become then: what does it "mean" that we can "know" and share that "knowing" even as we quest(ion) for knowledge; what is this creature that constructs (con-)texts?

III. KNOWLEDGE AND THE UNIVERSE (/BEING)

1) The universe (and Being) is made up of dynamic phenomena that are open to varying perspectives, none of which is ever fully totalizing (cf. quantum mechanics).

a. These phenomena are codified by human consciousness into a given perspective (which is based in fallible, communal language).
b. Each perspective is but one possible axis among a multiplicity of other possible cross-sectional axes, some of which may be contradictory (cf. principle of complementarity).

2) Via language, we impose form and structure upon those phenomena and thereby shape them into "knowledge."

a. "Knowledge" is an intentional, "participatory" act, based upon the assumptions of the intender about what is real and what is not (both consciously and unconsciously).
b. "Knowledge" is always an approximation wherein we often (if not always) "create" and "confine" "phenomena" even as we "observe" them (cf. uncertainty principle).

3) "Knowledge" is not the same thing as the "measured" phenomena, and in turn becomes a phenomenon itself.

a. One danger of knowledge is converting the "particular" to the level of the "general."
b. Another danger is the conversion of a given phenomenon into "object" (stasis, general) from its existence as "subject" (dynamic, particular), that is "objectification."

4) All reading, writing, and interpretation is im-positional in nature.

a. Creative acts of consciousness are always self-reflexive, referential of the self who utters, who "measures" or names phenomena.
b. Language is a process towards the Known and the Unknown and is a means of discovery into Being.

5) Being is not limited to language or human perception.

a. "Being" is approachable by many "modes" of inquiry, any one of which is only an approximation, and more than one of which is necessary.
b. "Truth" is not limited to perception or language (cf. deconstructive mindset, the deconstructive fallacy).

In sum, human consciousness ultimately is an organizing force, to which the universe's (Being's) phenomena are not fully "object." The "Welt" is not the "Umwelt." Thus, only the following posture will expand our awareness into the nature of Being and into the realm of the Unknown: Humility in the face of Other.

IV. A READING PRACTICE

1). The phenomenon, -a of the text is/are understandable as a series of cues surrounding a subject whose scope is "intended" by the author and which in turn is "intended" by the reader into a larger whole through the reader's "participation" in the "subject" of language/of the text.

a. Reading is selective in order to order a consistent reading according to precepts of intent (as serve both ego development and protection [cf. transference, projection, repression, etc.]).
b. The attempt to render a consistent reading (or in-consistent as per deconstruction) is a product of the organizing consciousness, which constructs (dis-)unities in the conscious mind.

2) Reading must involve an act of self-sacrifice, bred out of the understanding of one's participation in the/ his or her own "hermeneutic circle" in the face of the text.

a. The reader must avoid projecting/transferring his or her "Second Reality" perceptions onto "First Reality," the action of which is to eclipse Being (Voegelin).
b. Reading must be done in a responsible manner, open to possibilities beyond what the self concretizes, or objectifies.

3) To read responsibly, one must strive for an open "dialogic criticism" (cf. Todorov, Bakhtin), which stands in contrast to a "self-responsible" only interpretation.

a. The reader must recognize that by engaging in a dialogue with the text, "truth" (as a "third" member) will emerges along the "horizon of possibility" as a product of one's own position in relation to the text's position(s).
b. The reader must avoid "monological dominance/mastery" over the text, so that the full possibilities of the dynamic might not be limited or constrained.

4) Interpretation will focus on the wealth of human experience, that is, individual, particular encounters with Being as suggested by the text.

a. Attention will be given to the journey of the given human being's self/mind/soul as it evolves through trial and perhaps suffering in the experience represented within the text.
b. This experience will in turn enhance one's own development or pilgrimage.

V. EXISTENTIALISM AND CHRISTIAN FAITH

1) From its origin, mankind has been engaged in the search for "meaning," in the construction of "knowledge."

a. This search is bred of its unique "symbol-mongering" nature.

2) The capacity for language may very well be the "missing link."

a. This capability might be intimately related to an understanding of the "soul" (cf. metaphysical nature of "meaning").

3) All things are Possible, including Impossibility (i.e., contradiction, paradox, etc.).

a. The complexity of Being is not limited to the structure/-ing of human consciousness.

4) The "leap" to Christian faith is an affirmation of Possibility.

a. This affirmation involves recognizing a "choice," which is an option made possible via language.

5) The Christian faith is best understood as a dynamic process and practice.

a. Faith is describable by language (general, "objective") but not limited to it (as the experiential, individual "event" involving the total human subject, the human will, that it is).

This entire formulation is subject to change and is not totalizing.

(5/93)