Identity

and the Nature of Contextuality

     As indicated by this subtitle, we're going to take a moment and look at the nature of internal and relative context. This is due to the fact that context — the specific balance between internal and relative context — is what establishes and preserves intrinsic Identity, regardless of what it is that has become existent as a direct result of that contextual confluence. And this is due to the fact that if something physically exists, it does so relative to everything else that also physically exists, and that very specific relationship that the physically existent thing has with every other physically existent thing is what Identity is all about.

      I will try to make this as accessible as possible, and lay off the dry technical stuff when I can. In fact, like I warned you, I'm going to go ahead and attempt a narrative analogy to help with my first point. In this analogy, I'm going to try to illustrate how internal context works to make even the least of things — that exist within a greater collection of similar things — unique and special. Afterward, I promise to relate it to you as a person.

    Soaring high above a full orchestra’s rendition of a symphonic masterpiece, a solo violinist offers a packed house a stunning performance. Some in the crowd swoon under the spell of each note’s strength and nuance, while others focus on the entire presentation as a whole. There are those who find themselves enjoying the performance in spite of a preference  for other forms of entertainment, and then, there are those who can never be satisfied with what this or any other violinist can produce.

      In fact, the music that each mind in that hall hears is unique, even though the notes that soar from the stage to the farthest reaches of the hall are simply what they are and nothing more or less. With this in mind, as the violinist pulls 

passage after passage from his instrument, and fills the evening with the art that drives him to such intense devotion and disciplined dedication, a question becomes, at what point does the man, himself, end, and the man’s art begin?

      When the violinist draws his bow across the strings of his violin, where does the violinist – the human being wrapped in skin – end, and the music that transcends that corporeal confine, begin? Is it at the end of his fingertips, where the strings are set to vibrate? Is it as the sound waves leap from the violin’s soundboard to touch the air in the hall? Is it where those sound waves press against the inner ear of the listener? Or is it within the mind of the listener as the whole of it is translated into what that specific mind has determined to be music?  

      And what of the mind that is – due to any of a host of reasons – incapable of perceiving that sound as music? How do we factor in the unique perspective of the listener, and how that perspective was built until that instant when the violinist’s sound waves struck that listener’s mind to be either accepted or rejected as that which can be defined as music? Or does the music always remained trapped within the mind of the violinist, and the effort to release it, a repeating failure that can never be rectified?

      That’s a really good question. In the same sense, where does the human brain become the human mind? Does it ever become the mind? Where does the person emerge from the human being, or does the person ever truly emerge? This is basic philosophy, and you can debate it forever, as evident in any freshman college classroom in the early weeks of the fall semester.

      But first, we need to focus on the issue of context, and to look at how internal context creates intrinsic identity. After all, the person does not exist if it cannot be fully delineated. Again, let’s look at this violinist and note all that his performance delivered to his audience. This time, let’s shift the focus to the question of context and what it is that establishes the isolation of intrinsic identity. Maybe we can find a transition point between the effort and the art if we dig in deep enough?