Kant considered the “thing in itself” in the realm of the noumenal, that is found removed from the phenomenal. Kant considered the synthesis of the observer and the observed, and noted the blind spot that held the two together. This was Kant`s study of philosophy. So easy is it today to denigrate philosophy in the presence of the empirical sciences. It may be said that “anything can be justified in philosophy that carries itself over into fantasy land.” It may be said that “empirical science is where real truth is wrestled from the hard application of the scientific method, independent of philosophy.” But despite these assertions and ridicule, Kant`t blind spot burns deeply today and remains uncrossed by science. It is only an arrogant cockiness that sees itself replacing philosophy with empiricism.
So what is the synthesis of the observer and observed? We can rename this synthesis as the union of sender and receiver, but the question still points to a deeper mystery. We may rename the synthesis as the union of yin and yang, and follow Taoism into mysticism thereby affirming our most subtle feelings. Empiricism comes along for the ride, for what is the synthesis but the sense-certain, or self-evident, tidbits of information called “facts?” We may fool ourselves even with this new empiricism, pretending that the facts are self-contained by mere definitions thereby forgetting that the middle-term that holds observer to observed is undeclared by our definitions. The facts may imply Ayn Rand`s objectivism, but such a conclusion can only come by a blunder that commits the fallacy of excluded middle. The mystery is still beyond the synthesis, implying that the meaning of information is provisional and applicable to a narrow domain where it is found self-evident. Beyond this domain and we find ourselves grasping at straws, despite the tenants of objectivism.
We look to the laws of nature, but they are only actions that describe the realizations of sending and receiving. The biochemical properties might imply that vitalism is safely refuted in biology and that life emerged from chemical constituents with nothing for what is said vital to do. But this is again an arrogant cockiness that fails to see its own blunder that excludes the middle-term without justification. Biochemical actions are themselves two-sided, and hence the middle-term remains. What better renaming of a middle-term than by referring to its vitalism?
Natural selection is equally two-sided. Life`s phenotype is said to be adapted to its environment. But is this adaptation the work of life, or the environment? If it is life that deserves credit, then natural selection can be renamed as “survival of the fittest.” If it is the environment that deserves credit, then natural selection can be renamed as “salvation by cooperation.” Natural selection is thought to be an indifferent process, but that would defeat both attempts to rename it, and that would refute all the common sense understandings of it. The fact is that natural selection was called “survival of the fittest” by Darwin himself. But that characterization gave us the unfortunate experiments with eugenics and ethnic cleansing of the likes seen only in our worse nightmare. The repugnant accident gave pause to the naturalists that thought they had everything explained by natural selection, and so they flipped over to “salvation by cooperation” as the new torchbearer for their beloved natural selection. It will be “salvation by cooperation” that will hide the progressive agendas that are less than perfect and where “natural selection” will be said to give its support to. But a literalist construction of natural selection leaves the synthesis of “survival of the fittest” and “salvation by cooperation” mostly undefined for the simple reason that the middle-term that holds the two together is still undeclared.
Now at this point, are we to give up and fall into nihilism? Does the realization that the middle-term is undeclared mean that life is “bullshit?” I don`t think so! Tell a lover that gives a rose to his love that his activity is only bullshit. The fact is that we do discover meaning in a provisional sense, even if there remains an anxiety for not having an absolute answer. Moreover, the possibility of anxiety implies something very special about the middle-term that holds the observer to the observed.
We sometimes think of wedge arguments as very underhanded, and leading to only destruction if not nihilism. The wedge is what we impose on the opposition, to fragment their arguments into two haves that end up arguing with themselves. This negative activity only goes so far, however. Beyond a certain point and the anxiety will wane. We wash away the bullshit until we find what is most pristine and rich with meaning.
The synthesis of the sender and receiver is such a wedge. It is equally the synthesis of the observer and observed and it can be placed in the most remarkable places. Where it finds itself going is where there is anxiety that is found hiding from the sunlight. For example, I placed it into biochemistry and defeated the arrogant claim that life needs nothing vital. So it is anxiety that directs the placing of the wedge, and in this sense the application does lead to a nihilism. But this is a cleaning of that bullshit that got in the way of clear thinking. The vital is found sourcing the middle-term, and so this activity leads to reconstruction in the wake of cleaning. The irrational anxiety departs, and a better construction remains. Therefore, the discovery of a vitalism that sources the middle-term gives us healing and clear thinking.