The Case of The Prescient Cock

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THE CASE OF THE PRESCIENT COCK

From Groundhog Days – Intercourse on Time

By Melina Costello & David Arthur Walters

October 9, 2003

Madame,

Greetings!

Dear Madame Melina,
At the risk of repeating myself, I must say that the Devil’s Advocate is Catholic and I don’t think Immanuel Kant will be canonized any time soon if the Advocate has his way. Kant’s version of the Golden Rule is not bad although overwrought; and it is almost miraculous that he got people to misinterpret his obtuse text, deny common sense, and fancy they were in direct communication with Reason, the Enlightenment’s favorite name for God in lieu of Logos – the god of his system was actually the unknown Thing-in-Itself or Thingie. But making a pope of every man did not sit well with the established hierarchy; there was something awfully anticlerical about it, the light of the Enlightenment seemed to be coming from Hell’s Furnace.

Now I am inspired for the sake of argument against my intuition to play the Devil’s Advocate in respect to one of Kant’s favorite categories: Kantian Time A Priori. Not that I hope, at the same time, to shed any light on the question of God’s priority by denying that Time existed before God, and affirming instead the contrary, that God was before Time, and is in fact the Parent or Origin of Time born conjoined to World.

The Zoroastrians resolved their Dualism with a confounding heresy devoted to a single Father of Good and Evil called Zurvan, or Time. In fact, the Devil’s Advocate is prejudiced: he does not believe Time is God or is a god of anything except worldly intercourse. That is, absent the World as we know it, in sum, the Phenomenon, there is no god or thing called Time.

As for the transcendental realm, that belongs to God alone. Yet Kant was so bold as to scoff at the Transcendent, drawing a distinction between the numinous noun and his transcendental adjective while admitting that his transcendental logic was an illusion! If he had limited his intercourse to sensible matters and left well enough alone, this Devil’s Advocate would have little to object to. Instead, to begin with, we have this tedious nonsense about time, indited by Kant in his infernal Critique of Pure Reason, to contend with:

“Time is not an empirical concept deduced from any experience, for neither coexistence nor succession would enter into our perceptions, if the representation of time were not given a priori.”

Good grief! The concept of time is induced from experience, not deduced from experience! And that is why the concept is in fact empirical, meaning that it is based on sense experience.

‘Time’ is not a thing that can be bottled and sold at Florida’s Fountain of Youth. Rather, it is the name for the experience of relations from which we derive our empirical concepts of time. The concepts follow and evolve from the experience – there is no concept of time prior to experience, nor is there experience of time prior to the experience of time. Experience provides the child with successive impressions, and culture teaches him to “tell time.” Of course after that he might try to kill time trying to define it – he cannot succeed short of eternity although his abstractions might have some timely consequences.

Again, the empirical concept we have of time is induced from our sense experience. The cock crows at the crack of dawn and the Sun rises shortly thereafter; and, after the regular repetition of that succession a few times, we expect the repetition to continue in a timely manner, just as we expect our lives to continue after waking up time and time again from sleep.

So the expectation of the repetition of an experience – the expectation of a becoming future – is our sense of time or experience of time.

People might even believe that the crow of the cock causes the Sun to rise. That happened near Sunnydale: a certain farmer owned a prescient cock that always crowed just prior to the crack of dawn and then again when the Sun rose on the horizon. He idolized his cock; other farmers placed idols of the prescient cock on the roofs of their barns to face the wind and catch bolts of enlightenment from heaven! Unfortunately, the farmer who owned the prescient cock was murdered.

In contrast to deduction, induction is reasoning from particular experiences to a general rule or conclusion. The truth of the conclusion, however, can only be verified by future experience. “Every time the cock crowed, the Sun rose; therefore: IF the cock crows, THEN the Sun will rise.” If the cock dies and the Sun still rises, another theory must be devised. As a matter of fact, the crocodile swallows the moon, cries tears to flood the Nile, and causes the Sun to rise.

Kant is correct to say that the concept of time is not “deduced” from experience; for a deduction is a mental process of reasoning from a general rule to the particular instance. It is a logical conclusion drawn from a premise(s) which contain and imply the conclusion which may or may not be true. No further information is added in order to make the deduction. For instance: “All men are cocks. You are a man; therefore, you are a cock.”

Now an experience is something we undergo or encounter, something we are generally aware of or know. Brilliant deductions may be drawn from rules known in advance by Dr. Watson because of some particular sense experience which he relates to his preconceived rule. We only hope that the conclusions embedded in his premises are sensible ones.

In The Case of the Prescient Cock, a witness heard the farmer scream bloody murder just after his cock crowed, and Dr. Watson deduced that, since all men are cocks, a man had probably killed him; as it turned out, the man’s wife, who was accustomed to affectionately call him a prick, had done the deed. That sort of misunderstanding is why Aristophanes ridiculed the sophist and master grammarian Protagoras for objecting to the use of ‘cock’ indifferently as to gender, and proposing instead ‘cock’ and ‘cockess.’

Kant goes on: “Time is a necessary representation on which all intuitions depend. We cannot take away time from phenomena in general, though we can take phenomena away out of time. Time is given therefore a priori. In time alone is reality of phenomena possible. All phenomena may vanish, but time itself (as the general condition of their possibility) cannot be done away with.”

But there is no re-presentation of a pre-existing thing called ‘time.’ There is a presentation or intuition, or an immediate (supposedly) awareness of sensation that is experienced or perceived.

Perception is a function of mind and body as a unity. Mystics, as you, my dear Madame, well know from your personal experience, claim supernatural intuition or direct revelation, i.e. intuition of knowledge without sensory or mental mediation. The intuition may seem immediate although it is in fact subconsciously or unconsciously mediated by the previous experience of the individual, or of the race, or mediated by unknown factors which may be adequately explained and controlled by scientists in the future.

In any event, phenomena is experienced and that experience is ‘timely.’ There is no ‘time’ separate from or prior to phenomena. If phenomena which can be experienced by all possible creatures vanishes, there can be no times or worlds.

I hope I have made myself perfectly clear. Madame. I am tempted to repeat here, but must take a time out to rewind my clock.

Mister Groundhog

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