PRAXIS OF LIVING

We human beings operate as observers, that is, we make distinctions in language. Furthermore, if we are asked to explain what we do, we usually say that in our discourse we denote or connote with our arguments entities that exist independently from us. Or, if we accept that what we distinguish depends on what we do, as modern physics does, we operate under the implicit assumption that, as observers, we are endowed with rationality, and that this need not or cannot be explained. Yet, if we reflect upon our experience as observers, we discover that whatever we do as such happens to us. In other words, we discover that our experience is that we find ourselves observing, talking or acting, and that any explanation or description of what we do is secondary to our experience of finding ourselves in the doing of what we do.

Indeed, whatever happens to us, happens to us as an experience that we live as coming from nowhere. We do not usually realise that because we normally collapse the experience upon the explanation of the experience in the explanation of the experience. That this is so is apparent in situations that startle us. This, for example, happens when, while driving a car, another vehicle that we had not seen in the rear-view mirror overtakes us. When this occurs we are surprised, and we usually say immediately to ourselves or to others, as a manner of justification of our surprise, that the other vehicle was in the blind spot of the rear viewing system of the car, or that it was coming very fast. In our experience, however, we live the overtaking car as appearing from nowhere.

I express this, our situation as observers, by saying: a) the observer finds itself in the praxis of living (or the happening of living or the experience) in language, in an experience which as such just happens to him or her out of nowhere; b) any explanation or description of how the praxis of living in language comes to be is operationally secondary to the praxis of living in language, even though the explanation and the description also take place in it; and c) explanations and descriptions do not replace what they explain or describe. Finally, it is apparent that if explanations and descriptions are secondary to the praxis of living of the observer (our human praxis of living), they are strictly unnecessary for it, even if the praxis of living of the observer changes after his or her listening to them. In these circumstances, observing is both the ultimate starting point and the most fundamental question in any attempt to understand reality and reason as phenomena of the human domain. Indeed, everything said is said by an observer to another observer that could be him or herself (see Maturana, 1970), and the observer is a human being. This condition is both our possibility and our problem, not a constraint.