Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 6 of 18)

0023 What is a judgment2c?

A judgment2c is a triadic relation composed of three elements: relationwhat is and what ought to be.

0024 Here is a picture of the observer’s utterance, spoken without reflection.

Figure 3

0025 In this, a cat stands for ‘something’ evil, even though God created the cat in goodness.  Somehow, the observer plucks a symbol of the cat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then declares that symbol to be relevant, without a second thought.  That symbol describes a person, who breaks the wings of another person.

Surely, such a person is evil.

0026 The observer’s declaration has all the ingredients that go into a judgment.

However, it comes out as blather2a, a subjective1a event, pretending to be intersubjective2b, and therefore carries the weight of judgment2c.

The party animal anticipates that the graduate student will agree with the statement.

If “he” does not, then “she” will look foolish.

No one wants that.

0027 Is there a privation here?

The observer’s impression2b claims to be true, as opposed to false, or maybe, deceptive.  It2b appears to be sensible.  It2bcoheres with the structure of judgment.  Yet, it2b really is just a way of saying that people can be like cats.  It2b is an object2b that does not express the fullness of its intersubjective potential because it makes sense1b.  More or less. No judgment is really needed.  Only agreement.  Humans are cats.


Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 5 of 18)

0019 Here is a picture of the ongoing conversation between observer and graduate student.

Figure 02

0020 The party animal says what pops into “her” head.  The graduate student replies that the declaration turns one actor in the event2a into a symbol of evil2b.

0021 The observer scratches “her” head, asking, “Did God create the symbol?”

Ah, the mind-dependent reality of a symbol2b may enter into the slot of the phantasm2b as a stand-in for the mind-independent reality of the cat’s action2a.

Or so, the graduate student judges2c.

0022 Clearly, the cat cannot be evil, since the cat acts out its perfection. The cat is what it is. But, if the cat were human, then such injurious action would be immoral, if not illegal.  Thus, the cat’s action becomes a symbol of what ought not to be.  The graduate student’s well-trained intellect brings what is into relation with what ought to be.

The phantasm2b, first objective1b in the observer3b, then intersubjective1b in both observer3a and student3a, supports the formation of a suprasubjective judgment2c.  If the observer3b follows the rules of reason, agreement1a resonates with truth1c.  The same agreement1a might happen if the observer3b is enthralled by the graduate student3b, or visa versa. 


Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 4 of 18)

0014 The human, Kanzelberger writes, “aspires to know more and more of the being of nature in its natural constitution.”  Humans are always busy trying to figure out what is happening3a.  What does it mean to me3b?  Our objective potential1btries to make sense of each subjective potential1a, resulting in our fallible phantasms2b.

The human sees the cat strike the bird2a, witnessing perfection in the cat and privation in the bird.

The cat subjectively1a wants to objectively1b wound the bird.

The human throws a guess2b as surely as the cat throws its paw.

0015 A phantasm2b does not gain the full potential of its objectivity1b until it becomes intersubjective1b.  In order to become intersubjective, it must be constellated2b.

0016 An objective phantasm2b can become intersubjective1b, in two, non-exclusive ways, through judgment2c and through discourse2a.

In the first option, the intersubjective1b stands at the gates of the suprasubjective1c.  Passage leads to a judgment2c.

In the second option, the object2b stands at the gates of human blather1a.

0017 Blather?

An event2a gives rise to a phantasm2b, in the mind of a beholder, who, without delay, decides to release that phantasm2bfor someone else to hear2a.  The decision3c casts the phantasm2b down, like a bolt of lightning, into an event2a, born of human subjectivity1a.

0018 The observer says, “Did you see that? That cat broke the bird’s wing.”

To which the graduate student replies, “Say what?”

“That cat is evil!”, the observer declares.

“Oh no, God made all cats in His goodness. But, still, the cat’s action may be a symbol of an evil, murderous and immoral spirit.  The symbol doesn’t apply to the cat.  The cat becomes a symbol to us.”


Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 3 of 18)

0010 Here is a diagram of the previous blog.

Figure 1

0011 In section two, Kanzelberger follows Aquinas (who follows Aristotle) by starting with the content levela.

Nature is subjective.  Good is the potential of a whole subject.  Evil is a privation, a compromise of the whole.  A bird’s wing is broken.  Poor thing.  Since each subject is good in itself, conflicts between perfections (wholenesses) may be seen as loss (for one subject) and success (for the other subject).

0012 A cat breaks the wing of a bird.  In doing so, the cat (a subject) acts as if the bird is an object (here, a mind-independent actuality held as a mind-dependent being).  Such is the cat’s perfection.  If the cat cannot perform this way, it cannot track reality.

The content level buzzes with a hodge-podge of subjects, some of which may objectify other subjects.  Evil, as privation, depends on each subject.  Since all subjects are different, natural biological evil has no consistency, no potential for appearing intersubjective, and therefore, makes no sense.

0013 Or, does it?

We (humans) are watching, doesn’t that count for ‘something1b’?


Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 2 of 18)

0006 Section one of Kanzelberger’s article, “Reality and the Meaning of Evil“, opens with a conversation between a party animal and a graduate student.

The exchange begins with the idea that evil is privation.  As such, evil does not make sense.

The discourse ends with the idea that evil is real and, as such, evil makes sense.

Clearly, the conversation starts on one level and ends on another.  Plus, the conversation wrestles with a very important caveat.

If evil is a positive entity, then it must have been created by God.  But if God is good, and His creation is called “good” in Genesis, then evil must be privation, a lack of good.  God does not create evil.  We do.

0007 Does this fit into a category-based nested form?

Yes, it fits two of them.

On a content levela, the level below morality, evil is privation and does not make sense.

On a situation levelb, the moral level, evil is real and makes sense.

0008 On the content levela, we ask, “What is happening?3a”  This is the platform for things and events2a, situating the potential of ‘something’ subjective1a.  Here, evil is privation and does not make sense because it is subjective.

On the situation levelb, we think, “What does it mean to me?3b”  This is where phantasms2b emerge from the potential of constructing objects, mind-dependent beings1b.  Here is where evil is real and sensible, because it is objective.

0009 Objective?

Something’ objective can also be shared.  It can be intersubjective. In order to become intersubjective, the phantasm2bmust be actualized.  Intersubjective beings are objective and subject to rational judgment by oneself and others.


Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 1 of 18)

0001 What is Reality?

Reality is a journal for philosophical discourse.

It is worthy of financial support by people of good will.

Reality is the only journal, to date, closing the gap between Thomistic philosophy and Peircean semiotics.

0002 John Deely (1942-2017) finds the loops through which a thread of reality now runs.  The two loops?  A thread of reality?  John Poinsot (1589-1644), a Baroque scholastic in the tradition of Thomism, and Charles Peirce (1839-1914), an American philosopher, chemist and intellectual voyager, formulate the same definition of sign.  One marks the end of the Latin Age, the second age of understanding.  The other starts the Age of Triadic Relations, the fourth age of understanding.  The thread is the realness of sign-relations.

Reality is the only journal, to date, running more threads through these loops.

0003 In contrast, Razie Mah builds little figures, illuminating triadic relations.  He constructs a grand theodramatic narrative, The Human NicheAn Archaeology of the Fall and How To Define the Word “Religion”, where these triadic diagrams shine.  They glimmer in the darkness of the current Age of Ideas.

The same darkness shrouds Reality.

0004 With this said, I open the pages of Kirk Kanzelberger’s essay, titled, “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” published in the inaugural issue of Reality (volume 1(1) (2020) pages 146-204).

0005 I also have, in hand, A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form and A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction.

Perhaps, these triadic structures will serve as guides.


Looking at Chris Sinha’s Essay (2018) “Praxis, Symbol and Language” (Part 5 of 5)

0019 Chris Sinha’s essay is a contribution to a huge, obviously well-funded, academic project, led by Prof. Michael A. Arbib, of the University of California at San Diego.  An outline is presented in the same issue of Interaction Studies(19:1-2 (2018) 370-389).  The title is “The Comparative Neuroprimatology 2018 (CNP-2018) Road Map for Research on How the Brain Got Language“.

0020 The project’s slogan is a little humorous.

It’s like How the Birds Got Flight.

Does anatomy tell the tale?

To me, comparing the neural structure of the great apes, including models of our hominin ancestors, tells the ontogenesis side of the story.

0021 What about the phylogenesis side of the story?

The story of how the brain got language cannot be restricted to DNA, genes, genotypes, phenotypes and body development.  Phylogenesis cannot be ignored.  In this regard, Chris Sinha’s essay is crucial.  

The intersection of ontogeny and phylogeny re-capitulates the intersection between body development and natural history appearing in Speculations on Thomism and Evolution.

Chris Sinha adds weight to the natural history side, covering environment, ecology, niche, adaptation and natural selection.

0022 To this end, I suggest that the seventeen authors on this magnificent quest consider Razie Mah’s Comments on Chris Sinha’s Essay (2018) “Praxis, Symbol and Language”.  The contribution may be unexpected.  Nevertheless, it is properly attired.


Looking at Chris Sinha’s Essay (2018) “Praxis, Symbol and Language” (Part 4 of 5)

0012 Sinha’s EcoEvoDevoSocio framework associates to all the terms in the title of Chris Sinha’s Essay.

0013 Eco-Socio are bookends describing the long arc of time from the emergence of the Homo genus to the appearance of Homo sapiens.  At the start, signification primarily comes from the ecology.  At the end, significations primarily come from social interactions.

0014 EvoDevo are the twin tomes of phylogenesis and ontogenesis, bringing me to the truth-bearing fiction within Sinha’s narrative.

What is this fiction?

Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.

0015 Biologists have debunked this slogan, as fact.  But, it lives on as fiction.


It must be true, even though it is factually incorrect.

0016 How else can one draw a thread through these two terms: language and the human brain?

Language goes with phylogenesis.  As discussed in the masterwork, The Human Niche, plus its attendant commentaries, the biological capacity for language evolves in the milieu of hand talk.  Hand talk develops phylogenetically, from signaling, to functional representation, to symbolic communication, then to fully linguistic.  The adaptation of language occurs within the evolution of hand talk.

The human brain goes with ontogenesis.  The capacity to read ecological significations expands to reading intentional manual-brachial gestures.  Intentional gestures retain their semiotic qualities as icons and indexes as they become more conventional, habitual, lawful and so on.  They become more and more like symbols. The neural substrate in the hominin brain finds a way to process symbols.

0017 Ecological significations are icons and indexes.

Intentional manual-brachial gestures are perceived as icons and indexes, even though they increasingly operate as symbols.

0018 So, instead of the slogan, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”, we can adopt the saying, “ontogeny intersects phylogeny”.

A traffic intersection belongs to both roads. So does the intersection of ontogeny and phylogeny.


Looking at Chris Sinha’s Essay (2018) “Praxis, Symbol and Language” (Part 3 of 5)

0008 Allow me to further elaborate Sinha’s EcoEvoDevoSocio framework.

In the prior blog, the Eco-Socio bookends touch base with the title frontpiece of praxis, symbol and language.

0009 This implies that the EvoDevo inner coupling expresses the title endpiece of developmental, ecological and linguistic issues.

0010 Evo associates to phylogeny.  Phylogenesis consists of adaptations into a niche.  The human niche changes from one where ecology is the primary source of signification to one where symbol-ready hominins are the primary sources of signification.  

Devo associates to ontogeny.  Ontogenesis consists of alterations in DNA, genes, genotypes and phenotypes that permit the drastic shift in the primary source of signification.

0011 Sinha cleverly encapsulates the inner drama of phylogenic and ontogenic changes over evolutionary time(EvoDevo) within the outward motion from an ecology-centered Umwelt to a socially-centered Lebenswelt (Eco-Socio).


Looking at Chris Sinha’s Essay (2018) “Praxis, Symbol and Language” (Part 2 of 5)

0005 What about Sinha’s EcoEvoDevoSocio framework?

0006 The outer terms, “eco” and “socio”, signify a broad arc of human evolution.

Adaptation by a line of apes starts with ecological adaptations.  For example, bipedalism is evolutionarily ancient.

However, the fact that bipedalism frees the hands for communicative gestures creates new opportunities.  A truly human niche appears.  One hominin can intentionally gesture to another.  The other hominin can interpret that gesture.

0007 The frontpiece of the title captures Sinha’s EcoSocio vision.  The praxis (or habits) of intentional manual-brachial gestures for communication proceeds from signaling to functional representation.

Functional representation metaphorically runs around the symbol, defined as a sign-relation whose sign-object depends on conventions, habits, laws and so forth.  The more that intentional manual-brachial gestures act as words, the more symbolic they become.

In this way, hominins become symbol-ready and capable of engaging in language.