Functions Are Not Seen, But Must Be Understood

Functions are not seen, but must be understood. (Catherine Blanche King, private communication)

A systematic explanation, then, requires a normative theoretical framework.  The basic terms and relations of such a framework would specify the distinctions and correlations that articulate the causes, which are not necessarily visible, of events that are apparent to all.  (CWL 15,  Editors’ Introduction, lv) (Continue reading)

1 thought on “Functions Are Not Seen, But Must Be Understood

  1. Catherine King

    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.



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