vineri, 29 iulie 2011

Ramon Lull: Given Will and Possession


To man is given will, whereby he wills to possess for himself alone his castle or his city or his kingdom, or his possessions or his wife or his son, or his memory or his understanding or his will, and so of other things.

Ramon Lull, The Blanquerna: The Art of Contemplation

The will is paradoxically presented as a given property by an implicit belief in man as a created being. We may doubt the Christian doctrine of a given free will, but there is still worthy to pay attention if the will has indeed the features of a given thing.

How we can depict a given thing? Maybe it could not be fully understood from the perspective of the act of giving a thing to another. For this act is just a transitory one, from a state of possession to another.

A given thing is more evident understood from the state of possession. We have to read Ramon Lull’s text in a reversal way. When one wills to possess for himself alone his castle, we may say that such will is a given property only this fact occurs. For the exclusive possession of a thing, even if it appears as a desire, is the sign that that thing does not involve that openness required in the meeting of a thing which is attainable by us.

A thing that is not given cannot be possessed in an exclusive way. It can be only touched by us as a hand touches a tough matter, but it cannot ever become tough, too. Many instances as this one could be invoked, because it is the primary experience we have with the things surrounding us. The empirical theories of knowledge which consider that by sensation we take an image or idea of the thing perceived are in fact wrong conducted by the intention of viewing any act of knowing to be in our own possession.

As Ramon Lull’s examples of possessions reveal, it does not matter if the things acquired can be mastered thoroughly. The wife and the son will never be our own as a castle or a house, but they can be equally numbered among the things possessed. Since they are the objects of a given will, they loose their free and individual nature for the one who possesses them. Moreover, he himself is lost in his free nature by the act of possessing. He is given as the space where there can be placed a lot of things, persons, and intellectual acquisitions.

This seems to be the only peril of subjectivity: to renounce to your freedom of inquiry for being a given space of memories and meanings. As in the case of possessing a son, such subjectivity tends to ignore the free and seemingly real nature of the things of world that ultimately escape from anyone’s possession.

Correspondingly, the objectivity could not be the strong act of possessing universal knowledge, but has to be close to an act of going out from a conceptual apparatus prepared for comprehension (as con-capio) for a personal, but not a possessive survey of things.

The persistence of the ideal of objectivity can be explained as a consequence of viewing the will as a free act. However, the will of objectivity is not a free attitude of human conscience, but rather a given and comfortable way of escaping the assumption of a personal inquiry into the world.

Only a personal inquiry exposes the man to the others, whereas an objective knowledge isolated him in his ownership into a large but unknown community of other holders of objective knowledge.