Catherine Blanche King’s Initial Comments And Helpful Addendum

I quoted Catherine King in the very first line of my previous blog (below) entitled “Functions Are Not Seen, But Must Be Understood.”

I am grateful to Catherine for responding with valuable comments providing needed context to the quote.  Herewith are, first, her original comments, then, Catherine’s recent Addendum to her comments (sent as her Reply to my previous blog):

Hello John:

Glad to hear from you.

About that quote, it’s really brief but probably needs to be in some contexts at least.

But the underlying issue is one of an already-learned idea about opening our eyes and seeing, and then wrongly equating that common activity with what happens when we understand.  The more nuanced point, then, is that we do sense, but also that WHAT we sense we also ask about . . . so that the wrong-view that seeing equates to understanding can give way to the right view that wonder, questioning, and then having insights is what gives way to understanding and then even to knowing.

But the fundamental issue is to understand that the sensible, and much more, is also intelligible; and that we understand that intelligibility through intelligent process.

Just knowing that intellectually, however, is only a beginning to changing one’s already-set but erred viewpoint, which is usually set in our childhood . . . so it takes a good amount of thought to unearth that view and to experience change at the luminous core of our understanding.

As always, good luck and good insights as you undergo your work.


An addendum: Having recently had conversations about functions and the seeing-understanding complex, I’d like to add this: Functions actually occur in the real world that we commonly and wrongly equate with ONLY “the sensible world.” Ride a bike and you are involved with a set of ACTUAL functions–insofar as your bike riding occurs in the continuum of this particular space and time, which involves sensible elements, one of which, in part, is you.

What was missing in my correspondent’s thinking was his understanding: that instantly recognizing and then riding a bike is a highly-contextualized meaningful reality . . . it already involves a huge background of understanding that the rider has undergone and now is “instantly” privy to . . . including functions that flow into concrete reality, for instance, when we ride a bike. So we can think of functions abstractly, but also as concretely operating in the real world . . . a world we could not operate in had we not understood . . . the intelligibility of the sensible and much more.

In this context, then, “functions cannot be seen,” but they manifest regularly in WHAT we see. And WHAT we see is not seen in abstraction but is already an answer to a prior question about its intelligibility . . . or WHAT is understood, or to be understood.

The person I was conversing with still found the above to be problematic. My guess is that the erred idea . . . that reality is sensible-out-there-only, and that anything we think is in-here, and so not really real . . . is still “stuck” so to speak, in his thinking, having been accepted a long time ago. . . . to which I would say: self-reflection must include the hard-won recovery of early-made framing ideas; that is, if any philosophical progress is to be had.


Leave a Reply