Facts are our labels to explain nature. The occurrence in the image above has been called a “galaxy.”
Facticity is a term coined by Phenomenologists (philosophers who influenced Existentialists like Sartre and Camus) to more directly address what is.
The image above is not a galaxy; it is a snapshot of an immense grouping of what we call “stars” that we have conceptually identified as a “galaxy.” No “galaxy” exists in Nature outside of our brains.
Phenomenology deals with only what we know for sure. We know we exist. We know that there are perceptions, feelings and thoughts. We do not know, but rather surmise, that there is a separate self because we observe (have perceptions of) the phenomena of other similar selves who presumably also have perceptions. But we only know our own perceptions as phenomena. And we have “learned” that we are separate selves, with names and “identities.”
So Phenomenology deals only with what is –not with what we think we know.
The father of Phenomenology, Martin Heidegger’s “philosophy is founded on the attempt to conjoin what he considers two fundamental insights: the first is his observation that, in the course of over 2,000 years of history, philosophy has attended to all the beings that can be found in the world (including the world itself), but has forgotten to ask what Being itself is. This is Heidegger’s ‘question of Being,’ and it is Heidegger’s fundamental concern throughout his work” –“Da Sein” in German means Being Here (there is no “I”) to be necessarily found.
Heidegger sees the facticity of our being as the “thrownness” (Geworfenheit) of individual existence, which is to say we are “thrown into the world.” By this, he is not only referring to a brute fact, or the factuality of a concrete historical situation, e.g., “born in the ’80s.” Facticity is something that already informs and has been taken up in existence, even if it is unnoticed or left unattended.
Unlike a “fact” or a label, facticity is not an abstraction. It relates to what Eckhart Tolle quotes Krishnamurti as saying that “once you have named a bird, you will never again truly see it.”
The facticity of a bird is itself –a living breathing flying creature. The fact is that it may be a parrot. But knowing that it’s called a “parrot” tells you nothing of its essence, or true nature. The difference between the fact of the “bird” –its name or conceptual identity and it’s facticity or being is very subtle, but extremely powerful when grasped.
So based on facticity, let’s do an experiment. If you are inside, there is probably a wall or boundary to your room or building. Is this boundary a matter of facticity, or a fact?
There may certainly be a wall – but is it truly a “boundary?”
Let’s explore further. The wall is obviously not the final boundary. Beyond the wall is the “outside.” We have named this the “sky” and science has factually identified further and further objects “outside;” in the night sky we can see an expanse of space that goes out indefinitely.
The facticity is that there is no boundary out there. Factually science has given us information about the vastness, and theories about multiverses and “strings” of universes, but facts do not address the facticity of infinity –there is no “boundary.”
So “boundary” and “outside” is a fact –not facticity.
Let’s go in the other direction. If we sit quietly and go inside, we go from what is apparently our outer skin, to what we sense (but don’t know visually) are our inner organs, factually identified in biology. We may “hear” thoughts that we are told are “in” our brain, and they come and go along with the “sounds” we hear on the “outside.”
Further inside, presumably, there is tissue comprising our organs, composed of cells, nuclei and DNA, composed in turn of molecules of atoms with protons, neutrons and electrons, and then quantum physics has gone further and it keeps factually finding smaller and smaller objects (quarks, neutrinos etc.).
Without even getting into the implications of quantum physics, we can say that the facticity of this quest is that there is again, no boundary. There is no smallest object. There are again facts of frequency, energy, vibration, and geometric space/time, but the facticity of inner space is that there is no smallest, and no boundary that is knowable.
So, “in fact,” we find that “boundary” is never a fact. The facticity of the absence of an actual boundary is just space.
When we look out into the stars of the night sky and we are “truly” struck by the facticity of “no boundary” –our minds, which have fashioned the notion of a boundary for us to survive, cannot comprehend the facticity of being “thrown” into an existence without one.
Outside/Inside, Larger/Smaller, and so on are all mental concepts to fragment what is into “bite sized chunks” that we can grasp.
The facticity is that there is no boundary in Nature. The being into which we have been thrown (Heidegger’s concept) knows no boundary—it is we who have constructed boundaries conceptually to “understand” what is. And further, we can identify the facticity of no inner and outer boundary to ourselves; in fact epigenetics tells us that the DNA in our cells is activated by the environment –the “outside” –so that even our skin is a mental/artificial and conceptual boundary to “us.”
Without air, food or a complete connection to Nature –there is no “you.” So “where” are you?
If we honestly go back inside, with our eyes closed, we will find mainly sensations and sounds – breath or thoughts.
Factually –these are all known to be vibrations –disruptions in the stillness of nature. Silence is simply the absence of vibration.
So that Being seems to be evidenced by the presence or phenomenon of a temporary break in silence –the emanation of vibration out of silence. For our lifespan we seem to be a sensed, temporary appearance within existence that we call ourselves. Perhaps one “boundary” is life, the other death — but aren’t these also conceptual overlays on natural occurrences?
However, the stillness out of which “we come” –the absence of vibration –the silence from which we and everything else emanates – is infinite. It has no boundary, no opposite –but its “da sein” –its existence –is intimately known and irrefutable.
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