This essay is not about BMW and Jordache and Gucci, although it may leave some seeds to reach back and contemplate that sort of materialism.
Our materialism can be understood best in consideration of grammar. Given the axiom that there are things, objects which are relatively coherent in space and time. Our sense of understanding derives from the capacity to form relations between things that show their manner of association, thus binding them into a map of the world by relational connections. The term “map” is intended in its mathematical sense. Things are the node points here and there, and there are relational connections between each that are often called “links.” The construct of objects and links is called a graph in mathematics.
To develop this sort of wisdom regarding the relations of things, is to develop an aspect of applied knowledge. The connectivity between medical things, which I may define below, is at the heart of how we teach medicine. The human skeleton is merely a set of bones that are nodes, and connections between them. The map of the bones will define the skeleton, at least in a connectivity sense. The parameters of this and that bone – their size and shape – are individual characteristics of that bone that allow it to be useful.
Individual objects may have qualities – something inherent that can be assigned to that object. The ball is round. Objects may have relational connections to each other, either simple relations which do not depend on any inherent quality of the object; and derivative relations, which are determined by the connection of inherent qualities of objects.
Here are several examples:
- The ball is round. That is an inherent quality – in fact, an essential quality – of balls.
- The ulna connects with the humerus by means of articulation. – this is a simple relation. There is no “why” or “how so?” about this connection.
- The ulna and humerus are bones. – This relation connects two things by virtue of their essence, i.e. bones.
Taxonomy is perhaps the most important lesson in medical school. What are the labels characterizing medical objects – the kidney, osteoporosis and such – and what are the maps that connect them?
e.g. does chronic kidney disease cause osteoporosis? What is to be associated in treatment of such a thing? (i.e. What do you do about it?)
Existentialism is only the proposition that human beings, before and aside from any labels, have something that IS. Whether to call it a soul or an essence is a trap – it asks what sort of label can be placed on that from which all labels are removed. People simply ARE.
I am not Jewish, but I see Judaism examining deeply the power of causing humans, before and beyond their being assigned this or that label. Humanist theology proposes a category of “life” that is a special thing, a a holy thing.
Modern teaching asserts the need to construct graphs of the knowledge of material objects. This concept of teaching and learning is powerful, but it does not possibly embrace the entirely of the teaching of medicine or most other things. I will, hopefully, go on to explain why in a following essay.
This presumption lies at the heart of bad modernist computer thinking. If thought or knowledge simple involves the handling of graphs of medical information, overlaying specific fact onto a relationship, why, computers are far better than humans at this! That axiom is worthless, unfounded – but unquestioned in the modern technological world. Computers are better than humans, in doing things which are better done by computers than by humans. That tautology is frustrating, but is far closer to the truth than the ridiculous assumptions we have made about technology, and are reaping already the bitter harvest.