Doing Philosophy on the Basis of Physics Theories

We are going to talk about the relativity of simultaneity, the shortening of distances, increases in mass through velocity, the highest possible speed in nature, and mass-energy equivalence. These are the components of the special theory of relativity that –compared to Newtonian physics– offer the most important differences, and shape the way we utilize our consciousness by affecting how we make sense of and evaluate things. The change in how we utilize consciousness when we start considering Einstein’s physics and the theory of relativity concerns our efforts at enlightenment, which is a philosophical perspective. The technical aspect concerns physics, the field of activity of experts or physicists. We are interested in the aspect that concerns enlightenment. To repeat: Beyond the patterns of perception in our consciousness, the methods we use for intellectual activity, and thinking about consciousness itself, it is a change in mentality that helps us direct our consciousness toward nature and objects, and recognize the determination of the subject in the subject-object relationship. If we manage to do that in a philosophical context by actually working through the concepts –I mean at a theoretical level– we have also managed to do philosophy on the basis of physics theories. Are we only concerned with doing philosophy? This is not necessarily our claim here, but because philosophy is an indicator of consciousness and serves as a mirror for an individual to see themselves, managing to do philosophy, or at least getting close, is very important. For what? For civilization. For what? To achieve quality, conceptual social communication. For what? For an individual to be able to see themselves living a meaningful life, and make conscious use of their consciousness. The last sentence refers to the most original aspect of philosophy: “Making conscious use of consciousness.”

This is probably the most important point that distinguishes philosophy from the sciences. The sciences create their terminology on the basis of objects, experiment within the sphere of these objects, and report if hypotheses have been accepted or rejected. When we talk about the sciences, we talk about the fact of consciousness that takes place between a subject and an object. When we talk about philosophy, on the other hand, a reflexive field enters the picture as well. This means that we are not content with the consciousness of the phenomenal field taking place between consciousness on the one hand and objects, events, and facts on the other; we add another consciousness on top of that consciousness. This is known by different names including “reflective thinking,” “thinking about thought,” “self-consciousness,” and “awareness of thought”. All of these terms are used in philosophy. Because knowledge of technology does not result in enlightenment, we call scientific knowledge “the real field of enlightenment.” This is how it works: People may acquire knowledge called science to the most advanced degree, in the most effective way, but still fail to advance their reason to the level of enlightenment or achieve self-enlightenment. We see many examples of this in our own country. A mechanical engineer who has advanced their career and become a tenured professor, and even become the number-one mechanical engineer in the entire Middle East, can still use their reason in a dogmatic way –to avoid saying the word “method”– that is, assuming they are not a charlatan or using this as a means of manipulation or personal gain. This is seen in other countries as well. This is a serious problem throughout the entire world, including the more civilized countries called “developed countries,” because faith, belief, and dogma are all different things.

When you use the word “dogma” in Turkey, people associate this with matters of belief or religion, contrasting it with enlightenment. In reality, however, “dogmatic thinking” is a static setting or perhaps an atmosphere created by people who are emotionally attached to their ideas. Even scientific circles that oversee work in their field, are widely respected and wield the power of the “edition” to exercise control, can be dogmatic. This view, called “positivism” in the West, started to become static over time by turning inward and adopting a dogmatic attitude, even though this was not the original intent. Initially, positivism criticized the religious attitude. I call it the “religious attitude” because positivism was not against religion; it was against the religious attitude. What was the problem? Everyone could have a belief and practice their beliefs in a religious atmosphere or as an objective religion, but positivism was against the use of these beliefs in public life in the context of epistemology and the production of knowledge, in the spread of these beliefs through education, and their use in politics. Positivism wanted to remove religion from these areas of life. It wanted to return people to their conscience, and maybe aimed for pragma as the problem of conscience. I call it a “problem” because there is ongoing debate as to whether it can be imprisoned there or held within limits.

There is an interesting dialectical principle: A consciousness or the objects, events, and facts that bring about that consciousness are determined in the context of their opposites. Such a problem exists, and the critical attitude will later point out this problem. I thought it would be better to mention this before we went any further. The critical attitude makes this point: When we initiate a movement against something to remove that something, the formulation of this movement is an argument. If this argument was made to object to a previous argument, it is a counter-argument; it is a reaction, and as such, is determined and limited by the action (the previous argument). This type of attitude was observed in Turkey in the positivist era that began with the Republic. Why? When you put forth positivism as a movement against certain limitations in the public order, both in the context of sovereignty and politics and in the context of individual freedoms, it does not eliminate the previous argument, which in this case was the religious attitude. Because its only achievement was to “remove its grips” from the corridors of power, from public administration, and from institutions, this field was returned to society, to the people, but was not eliminated. The process that was undertaken to eliminate it, which over time involved a lot of coercion, has attributed in short what can be called its “oppressive and freedom limiting” attitude to positivism.

Just like any religion or a dogmatic structure, positivism with its own religious attitude perceived everything it encountered, every suggestion and criticism made, as a threat, and built a wall against it. We ended up with a society that adopted the exact same attitude or argument, only this time in the name of something else. A similar problem exists in the West as well. However, it’s not like in Turkey, where we have an attitude that is devoid of any concepts, was only carried out de facto without any discussion, criticism, or conceptualization, was not the subject of studies, ideas, or disciplines devoted to examining it, does not contain reflexivity, and is only experienced as taking sides in a political arena where the parties wage war with slogans, without having produced the enlightenment aspect of intellectualism. The fight in the West is at another level. What level is that? The level of concepts, the level of philosophy. Both sides keep progressing in a continuous process, by renewing and improving themselves, producing concepts and systems, and remaining opposite to one another in a dialectic, without collapsing inwards. This means that the argument and the counter argument improve one another, and it turns into a dialectic process.

In Turkey, however, because we cannot produce in this field, a pure contest for power takes place in which both sides fail to make any progress, and because they do not produce concepts, they start to collapse inwards. Thus, it stops being a meaningful discussion in society; crowds and groups imagine other large communities, and perceive them as imaginary enemy groups standing before them in opposition. If members of a society perceive one another in this way, they may fail, and actually do fail, to develop a meaningful relationship between themselves, or make progress through dialectic or interdependence. This is an observation of the current status, but also pertains to the future: they may fail. Which circles are these? One is very obvious: scientific circles and artistic circles, and the sources of productivity they draw upon in society. Why, though, would a dogmatic structure and this type of thinking dominate in these circles? The claim in the West is that they are superstructures that function to overcome these very things. When positivism developed and became dominant, they realized the following: Consciousness, because it is determined by its object, fails to perceive itself, and eager for self-justification, keeps reinforcing and determining itself. Its concept and itself – I am speaking from the perspective of consciousness. Consciousness becomes one with its concept. Concept means “limitation”. It requires a certain limitation and determination. In other words, moving from description to determination and explanation means progressive “limitation.” This is what begriff or “concept” means. Framing something, or placing it within a certain conceptual framework, involves limiting it. If you cannot limit, if you are still in the field of description, this means your consciousness is still disorganized; it has collected materials, but not yet classified or organized them. This is why description is usually employed in literature, whereas “determination” means classification; it represents a transition to the field of philosophy or concepts.

Philosophy makes classifications on the basis of cause, objective, contextual relationship, or functionality; this is how consciousness defines itself as “having awareness.” In other words, consciousness defines itself in a form as it creates its object. Consciousness, defined by its object, seeks certainty if its object is scientific. Today, you hear this in all scientific circles: “There is no such thing as certainty, anyway, right? Let’s agree on this point first; no one is to talk about certainty. There is no such thing as absolutism, no certainty, and everything is relative, right? Let’s talk on this basis.” This is a very important perspective born out of the critical attitude, but if we use this without questioning what it means, without applying it to ourselves, it is just another dogma. No scientific discipline (I mean of the empirical sciences) strives for relativity or makes efforts for a finding that doesn’t lead anywhere. For example, Einstein openly said he wasn’t looking for relativity; this was not his goal. He says he was searching for certainty, but the reality he encountered was a relative one.

Is There Certainty in Science?

If there is no certainty in nature and in science, if nothing repeats itself and everything self-reproduces and self-determines within a relationship, then what references are we to use to form our consciousness? What references are we to use to organize our lives? One may worry about falling into the lack of a system of references, but physics is not that sort of science. The fact that the reference systems of physics are relative means that what is known for certain are the relativities, not the certainties sought after by an absolutist science. Achieving certainty regarding the principles and laws of relativity is what science means, in the academic sense. It doesn’t expect the facts themselves to have static certainty; having calculated their fx’s, it knows for certain their variabilities. Here, knowledge doesn’t lose any of its reliability; to the contrary, its reliability is reinforced. Previously when Newtonian mechanics was used to perceive and learn about objects, such knowledge was not reliable because objects were considered to be static; the real laws of nature could not be transferred to consciousness nor to its concepts and methods. Now, however, the theory of relativity provides consistency and reliability in terms of scientific concepts, instead of inconsistencies. In addition to understanding and utilizing this in life, adopting the scientific attitude as our method, and recognizing this in all areas of life in a reflexive manner, we are also questioning something more important.

Does Enlightenment Flow from Society to Individual?

Apart from their own will, people develop personalities based on patterns of perception and references of evaluation shaped by family, friends, traditions, customs, and beliefs, especially from infancy and childhood onwards, when their consciousness is weak and they are quite passive. This is what education means. This may sound ridiculous, but it is what we always do! You cannot leave a baby to develop by itself, as its own free being, like a wild plant. This is simply not possible. Nor is it natural because it could not survive. Then, people have to be programmed to develop and acquire a personality.  This programming, in turn, requires applying a method that will equip the person in question to be everything apart from itself; in other words, an education. What I want to question is not the mistakes, errors, or slips; these are necessary parts of human nature, and perhaps thankfully so. However, if there are patterns of perception in a brain that has acquired habit, maybe in the form of fixed protein sequences, can a consciousness like this see reality in different contexts, in the realities underlying different relationships? This is the aspect I would like to question. To use ordinary language, if we were to ask people to comprehend certain concepts and understandings, can they really do it? Is it possible? This is what philosophy or the field of enlightenment questions. The rest is politics. In what sense? Let’s say someone uses their free will to protect their self-interests, and you argue with them, or they argue with you. This is politics. Enlightenment is not interested in this. This is free will. This may be what they want; people want and they do, but what if they don’t understand, no matter what you say? This is the problem. This is what enlightenment is interested in.

Immanuel Kant

The problem of enlightenment is the problem Immanuel Kant first posed, of the critique of pure reason; in other words, what are the limits and abilities of human reason, and if that machine –if we think of it as a machine– will carry out no other than these functions no matter what we do, then what can we build upon it or how can we associate it with other things? This question, of course, can also be posed as follows, as was done during the critical period: Is there a consciousness that is independent of society or politics that enlightenment may be limited by it? To the contrary, social dynamics constitute the setting that determines a consciousness. Can’t we achieve enlightenment by changing these social relationships? Doesn’t this flow from society to individual? I am pointing out that enlightenment questions this as well, and speak keeping this in mind. Can changes in social relationships be perceived by the consciousness of individuals (from the perspective of patterns of perception)? Can they adapt to it by reproducing themselves? Or, does that social change limit the individual like a whirlwind, like an unavoidable fate, and eliminate its existence? We should also question the possibility that such a change transforms it into herd consciousness. In dialectical terms, what is the power of the individual against social movements? Everyone relies on their own reason and can protect themselves through making intense use of their own reason. When these debates, usually held at the philosophical and political levels, are taken up in the context of physics under the four headings –Newtonian physics, Einstein’s theories, quantum, and wave mechanics– even more interesting things await us.

Changing the Habits That Organize Consciousness

The theory of relativity shows us that objects, events, and facts are not actually found in the form we are used to; that realities appear this way only under certain conditions; that phenomena are not everlasting, eternal realities; and that there could be infinitely many realities.

There are two important things that can help us change the habits of ours which organize consciousness: The first is direct witnessing, or in other words, experimentation; perceiving experiments as experience. The second is the effort to make it intelligible at the conceptual and theoretical levels, in the interactions of consciousness. For example, if we are talking about the speed of light, we should move, for experimentation, at a speed approaching the speed of light; we should use the perception of our experience as a piece of data for our consciousness, as an objective setting. It is not possible to directly experience the speed of light. In that case, as the second option, we will conduct an experiment and witness the experiment. We will send electrons through electron accelerators, and follow their projections using sensors and computers. We can only perceive the mathematical functions of this. Experiments today have progressed to an interesting point. Experiments are no longer like, for example, letting an object free-fall, making certain observations and measurements, and then keeping these records. For example, if we are interested in the speed of light, we cannot observe the relationships between objects directly, we have to be indirect, resort to following their projections, and make sense of them using the language of mathematics. This is a reflexive field, and as if telling us about the conceptual nature of philosophy, it brings us to a field where rather than observing objects directly, we theoretically reproduce the relationships among the concepts that represent them, and get to know our consciousness there. This tells us that we have the consciousness of a phenomenal world that is governed by the relationships that apply at the speed at which we live. It appears that this might be easier to grasp for artists. What I am trying to say is this: It appears that artists are people who are interested in experiencing different states of consciousness and perception. I keep saying “it appears” because it depends on whether they are interested; it may not be the case as well.

The West has really pushed for this, as you know. They have tried to break free from the literal Newtonian world, brought about by the era of positivism. People there have experienced phenomena that we are barely able to talk about in universities. Let me talk about two of them as an example – do not try this at home, obviously. What did they try? To activate the sources from which surrealism emanates, they tried things that would make them lose control. These are of two types: material and spiritual. The material ones are drugs. LSD is the most potent and visional of these. This is an experience in which people break their patterns of perception, the brain structures they have used to perceive the world, and the windows, paints, and colors the cortex has developed, and bravely dive into an unplanned field not previously experienced, saying “Let’s see how it goes.” I am talking about the distinction between experiment and experience, in the sense of experiencing something in person. They have tried to experiment on themselves, and turn the result into objects and present them as products. A whole new world has emerged in various artistic disciplines such as music, painting, and sculpture.

The second type of experience was the mystical experience. Westerners took these from Turkey, from the Far East, and from the Middle East. Those places from which mystical experiences were taken were glad something of their own history and culture was being appreciated. They took Rumi’s ritual of whirling from us, and hatha yoga performed with mantras from the Far East, along with other types of yoga. Of the different types of yoga, mental yoga is the more important here; through these types of yoga, they obtained mental techniques with which the mind is regurgitated through mantras, and what is hidden in its depths is elevated to the surface. Let’s leave aside the reactions in the Far East, and look at ourselves. People here immediately thought, “See, we have a very valuable belief; look at those people who came here to learn all about it. They too will believe, and we will all go to heaven together.” For this was one of our ways of going to heaven! Those people, however, had a completely different idea in mind! They wanted to experience the possibility of conceptualizing a different phenomenal structure or different realities in situations where this was applied as a mental technique or meditation technique. Because I specialize in pharmaceutics, I am quite knowledgeable about these two techniques and their results. Both mystical experiences and drug experiences can create dangerous addictions and lead to devastation. These are powerful experiences that can destroy the personality, the psyche, and social structures. The desire for experiencing something different is satisfied, but at great cost. Therefore, we are not pleased with this picture.

A third option, one that is less costly, is also possible. And I am more interested in this option; namely enlightenment. Reproducing consciousness so that it can grasp new phenomena and other realities, in the laboratory that Einstein called “the laboratory of thought,” at the conceptual level and with the laws of objective reality. This is enlightenment. Changing your consciousness not through experiences nor the perceptions taken from experiences, but by taking direct action, using your own skills, to the extent you desire, in other words, producing a “consciousness of consciousness” and cultivating it to proficiency.

Now, I would like to spend some time on “producing and cultivating it to proficiency.” When a baby is born carrying in its background the genetic accumulation of nature in the form of tendencies, it carries genetic incarnations –in the scientific sense– and genetic transfers in its body. We do not have a blank slate, a tabula rasa, as John Locke claimed. However, in terms of will and consciousness, we do have a tabula rasa. That person creates a consciousness, a personality, an identity out of the totality of the relationships between these genetic tendencies and the events and facts they encounter. Just like this person grows over time and assumes responsibilities, duties, and authority, a person who enters the enlightenment process gives birth to the “consciousness of consciousness” and cultivates it to proficiency over time. I am not talking about a very long period of time; to the contrary, it can be quite fast. I am talking about a process that has specific stages to be completed.

People have average, standard patterns of perception and methods of consciousness. When they encounter some knowledge, they want to use these existing patterns to make sense of and interpret that knowledge. If it is scientific knowledge, they recognize that this knowledge requires having a certain career, and that they will be able to interpret that knowledge only after having that career. In the absence of this career, they consult with area experts, leaving the issue to them. If the expert in question is a professional, you can buy consultancy services for a fee. What happens when you want to learn about your own reason? Which expert can you consult? I am not saying “if you have a psychological disorder.” If you have a psychological disorder, then of course you have to consult a professional, a good psychiatrist, who will recommend appropriate treatment options regarding your biology and psyche using the necessary methodology. Which expert would you consult regarding your own reason?

Facing Up to the Dogma of Scientific Religion

Which consciousness can we use to question the objective conditions we call “scientific” that are used in science and even in philosophy? With which consciousness? For example, can we use the patterns of perception that have become the laws of the science of Newtonian physics? Or, should we use Einstein’s physics? Both are physics, both examine objective conditions, both arrive at laws, but the two could not be more different! Which of these is going to be our reality of the objective conditions? This is the problem. We are not talking about other problems. We are not saying, “Should we choose dogmatic thinking or scientific thinking?”, which is a big problem in Turkey. What I am saying is, “Just start thinking scientifically, and you will then encounter the real problem.” Do not busy yourself with dogmatic stories, they are not that important; at the end of the day, you can simply laugh them off. When we are thinking scientifically, however, it is not so easy to laugh them off. For we have another religion, the scientific religion, that is reinforced through understanding, comprehending, and experimenting with the objective reality that we live in. It is called the scientific religion in the West. A different sort of religion that no one preaches to you, or writes you letters about, but one that you reinforce through witnessing and experimenting in person. Getting rid of that is a bigger trouble because it dwells in reason. There is a Turkish saying, “If reason were put on the market, everyone would choose their own,” that makes an important point. The other sort can usually be abandoned after having a chat with someone of a sound brain and a strong will, but this is different. This one has thousands of documents to back it up as well. If we were to enter into an argument with someone, say a petty argument –which we do often– we have reference books we can consult. At its most basic, we have encyclopedias. If that sort of an argument is being had at home –which is not common in Turkey– you would need a judge to end the vicious back and forth.

The Difference between Faith and Belief

I would like to talk about the contemporary level of scientism in the world, in the hope that it will spark thinking at our universities. Let’s say there are two doors that lead to a certain proposition, and we would like to take the door of thinking. Let this proposition be the following: “Instead of sticking to beliefs, we should make progress by thinking.” Once you decide to make progress by thinking, you assume that you get rid of the other permanently, and heaven awaits. However, you have just entered the place where the problem lies. People were not lying; the other side was actually heaven because you are in heaven if you are not thinking. The prophet Solomon, in the “Ecclesiastes” of the Old Testament, says something really nice: “He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” I checked to see if it’s really written there, and it is. Now, an “intellectual,” a person who would like to make progress and question things, is not going to be comfortable. They are uncomfortable precisely because they truly care about a subject, and there is nothing to rescue them from it; they cannot just let it go. They now feel responsible; they do not have a god to get rid of it, nor a saint to deliver them from it. Their reason is their god and their saint. This is what science means: “Here you go, figure it out.” There is suffering there, not psychic comfort. When we explore the depths of the objective world, its psychic reflections do not provide us with comfort, like they do in the world of belief. There is comfort there, and discomfort here, thankfully.

What is belief? We have to consider both aspects of belief. One aspect is subjective, and the other is objective. The subjective aspect is called faith. It is faith, not belief. It is distinguished from belief as follows: Faith is a phenomenon that people create entirely on their own in their own consciences and belongs to them. It is a psychic phenomenon. Belief, on the other hand, is outside them, and imposed on them. “Belief” is objective in a social context. Society imposes this on the individual. We are told “You have to believe this!”, which makes it something subject to social control, independent of the individual’s discovery. There might be religious dogmas, verses, thought processes, philosophical disciplines, or even interests disguised as politics behind this. What matters is, it is something required of the individual despite its own consciousness. Faith is different. Faith is an idea that people create in their own consciences, to which they are emotionally attached. Every belief and every faith is nothing but a proposition. We call them propositions in philosophy. If the thing you propose is an idea of yours, and if you are emotionally attached to this idea, then it is “faith.” An idea of the faith kind creates emotions such as excitement, anger, joy, happiness, sadness, etc. when it is confronted; it creates an expectation that others follow this idea too.

In fact, we are talking about “thoughts,” nothing else; they are all thoughts or propositions. They may or may not be logical. Sometimes it is better if it is not logical; much better, because it might be easier to adapt to. When we hear a proposition and it has logical consistency, a sound context, and discipline, this indicates philosophical thinking. In this case, what we call “understanding” may lead us to doubts that might prevent us from attaching emotions. Advanced forms of thought increase doubt, and move people away from faith. On the other hand, the more absurd something is, the better. This is because when reason attempts to question something absurd, it faces dilemmas and paradoxes. Those paradoxes, then, detain emotion and thinking. Things like this might be the very source of “faith.” Look at dominant belief systems; those that are rational or reasonable are more popular among elites. The more absurd it is, the more widespread it becomes, and the larger the masses that adopt it. Here, the word “absurd” is not meant as an insult. Let me say “paradox;” it would sound more philosophical. The more paradoxical, schizoid, or “relationally unhinged” they are, the more popular they become among the masses. In fields where thought cannot doubt and be won out by reason, emotion can detain thought. Because these things are matters of habit, we are setting forth this argument when talking about the problem of enlightenment. Schizophrenia is a disorder related to split personalities and an inability to connect those personalities. The severance of these ties or connections is known as a “schizoid split” in psychiatry. When you think about paradoxes, when you keep really thinking about unsolvable dilemmas or antinomies, you may experience a “schizoid split” like Immanuel Kant and Nietzsche.

The Intellectual Impasse that Hegel Resolved

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Kant has three antinomies. First, he says “The contradiction between finite and infinite is one that cannot be comprehended, resolved, or known by consciousness.” Because Hegel solved this, we have been spared going mad thinking about it. Kant wrote sixteen volumes to say this, and it is not random thinking; it is full of impressive, logical deductions… I don’t know if you have read it. It has been translated into Turkish and published by İdea Press under the title Arı Usun Eleştirisi (The Critique of Pure Reason). You should read it and see the pinnacle of human thought, and witness the peaks that human reason, honor, and dignity can achieve. Look at how great the genius of reason is in this conceptual field. At the end, he says, “Dialectic is a dead-end.”

This genius, a genius of the enlightenment period, says dialectic, or the problem of understanding oppositions, is a “dead-end.” He warns people who insist on pushing their reason that they could go mad. This is what I call the “schizoid split.” This is what Kant says, but interestingly, a later thinker, Hegel, recommends that we go down this very road. Hegel put dialectic to use as a method of thinking. And Marx followed him. Now, it is easy to talk the talk, but being interested in enlightenment means personally experimenting with these things –the things explained under these two headings– in one’s own reason. I want to stimulate motives of reason; at the very least, I am here to work through some short passages about this together. I am here to associate this with the work of enlightenment. I keep preaching so that this will start to be questioned. Or, we will return to our real problem: “Should I believe, or should I think?” The eternal question. We should think, but it is impossible to appreciate the beauty of thinking without suffering through its difficulties. Because each proposition would otherwise lead us to turn thoughts directly into beliefs, we would not be thinking at all. We might claim to think, but in fact believe, creating new types of beliefs and religions in the process.

Types of Reason According to How They Are Used

Ratio is translated into Turkish as akıl, but akıl is more properly reason. All of these three words: reason, ratio, and intellect are translated into Turkish as akıl.  How could that be? They have three separate names, but we insist on using only one name for all! These are three different facts, so how can we use a single word to express all three? The concept means knowing our consciousness and knowing fact. It means knowing objective reality, knowing fact, and conceptualizing it. If we call all three akıl, it shows we have not yet managed to distinguish between these facts. This is a big problem. If you are interested in perceiving things within relations of causality, if you are interested in thinking and comprehending them, then you engage in reasoning. Reason means thinking on the basis of causality. What should we call this in Turkish? We should give it a name, but it should express thinking on the basis of causality. What does ratio mean? It means thinking by proportions or comparison. This is also reason, but a sort of reason based on comparison, based on ratios and proportions. The other, on the other hand, is based on causality and built on this basis. What about intellect? What sort of reason is this? There are two elements to the conceptual explanation of this word: intellect, the associating reason, is derived from intelligence. What does intelligence do? It makes tools. “It is such and such if it does such and such,” we say, defining things on the basis of their functions. So, asking what something is means asking what its function is. Now look, if a tool is being made –this is called being determined by its object– if it makes tools, it is intelligence, or anlak in Turkish. Now, thoughts are tools for producing concepts; in other words, concepts of thought are tools of thought, and reason is called intellect if it produces these things. Intellectus, in a sense, is concerned with forms of thought, establishing logic. There is a difference between this logic and logic in the sense of ratio: Logic in the sense of ratio is based on comparison, whereas intellect is based on conceptualization. “Conceptualization” refers to the ability to produce a fact in consciousness once its design has been created. We are not able to make these distinctions in Turkish. There are also conceptual dimensions to this, but I do not want to drown this in technical terminology. To clarify what reason is, to define what is indefinite, you need to establish its functions, define them, distinguish them, and then associate them.

The Use of Consciousness to Make Designs Does Not Employ Reason

The scientific attitude a consciousness employs is rarely in the form of direct participation in an experiment. If we use our consciousness to make designs, this is called mind, or anlık in Turkish. The German word for this is verstand. What is mind? It is reason that associates; it is when reason functions to make comparisons, associations, identify differences and similarities, and organize them. When we fully comprehend the mechanism of that functionality, it will turn into a concept. When we look at the etymology of the Turkish words an, anlık and anlak, an means “natural reason”, and anlamak means “understanding”. How did we understand?  With an. When the function or the skill is making tools, it is called intelligence. If we are talking about the ability of reason to make tools, then we are talking about “intelligence” or anlak in Turkish. On the other hand, let’s say we are comparing things, creating logical order or an objective arrangement, or associating. Comparing means, in a sense, “associating.” What is this? This is mind, or anlık in Turkish.

To repeat, mind is anlık, intelligence is anlak, and reason is an. In the context of philosophy, there is also the concept arguably first produced in German known as vernunft, but never in Turkish despite the corresponding concept of us in Anatolian Sufism. What is us? Us is reason that doesn’t make design but abstracts. If you abstract reason from all images, from all inputs of perception, this change in function changes the quality of reason as well, hence requiring a different name. When the fact changes, so does the associated concept. Us is reason that abstracts; it remains us so long as it functionally removes all designs and perceptions carried over from the objective world. From the perspective of the scientific attitude, we can conduct science through the faculty that uses design, verstand, but not through vernunft. We cannot conduct science through abstractions. Science is a matter for the mind, anlık, not for vernunft. What we refer to as science consists of experimentation, observation and measurement, which are all issues of design, aren’t they? Design is a matter for the mind. If our consciousness organizes empirical knowledge on this basis, the problem is not with the object of knowledge, but with the methodology of knowledge when it comes to producing knowledge and using scientific, objective reality to liberate or imprison our consciousness. If we were then to focus on the scientific attitude or the scientific method itself –leaving aside reflective thinking, rational abstraction and the philosophical dimension of the scientific attitude– we could question whether this method liberates our consciousness. In theoretical physics, we can understand this by comparing Newtonian mechanics –known as classical mechanics today– with Einstein’s theory of relativity. If consciousness adopts the forms and methods of Newtonian physics, it acquires an absolutist, uniformist character that, over time, becomes a self-enslaving, dogmatic consciousness. This happens involuntarily, not by choice. The method detains human consciousness while it is busy with all this.

* Based on the recordings of a series of speeches given by Metin Bobaroğlu between January and June, 1999, in the Faculty of Fine Arts of Marmara University on “Einstein’s Theory of Objective Relativity.” Translated by Dr. Emre Eren Korkmaz, and revised by the editorial board.