Thinking is 'lead to presence', 'to present' or 'do present' something in consciousness, whatever it is. This is precisely the present time: to think. It is true, an irrefutable truth, that we always think and we always are now, as Descartes realized. At all times we think or we feel or we are doing something now. Present is what joints thinking and being.
To think is to present a content or an idea, do present, but also we create the past and the future from the present. Always we are and always we accede to things in a mental action of present. The act of consciousness is instantaneous. We think (and dream and feel and are) at present. But the content of thought (or dream, or feeling...) refers to events of the past or the future, if you look. And they are just that: contents, ideas, fallible products of our mind. We think on possibilities of acts of past or future, heartfelt or less, believed or less. We invent the past and the future, which are probably false, because they are what they are: a construction of thought. They are not reality, they are the result of the act of thinking (not the reality of the act itself).
The contents of thought take us out of the present and lose us in the time that they create, with they disappear the 'truth' and is imposed 'subjectivity'. Objective present and reality are not accessible to our subjective consciousness. The future and the past, in contrast, are only ideas, necessarily far from the reality of the present. The real flow of present is beyond our thoughts. The contents of thought are always far from the reality of the present. It is a paradox: thought takes us away from reality.
The past and the future are the times of ideas, the times of mental contents. Our thoughts are about what has happened (past) or what can happen (future). Moreover, the past and the future, what has happened and what can happen, can only be thought, has no more presence than as an idea. The present, however, is an act, an intuition outburst but not a thought or a developed mental content. Present is time of true events, of objective reality of events and actions that simply happen instantly. Present is the act of showing things itself, but not the things shown. The actions of present (it is a redundantly talk because actions occur always at present) affect us, necessarely, because they are the real thing that exists and happens, but they do so in a strange way, because its nature is not the mental content or knowledge, they are not almost visible or perceptible to us the instant that occur, they can not become ideas rather than later. Arround immediacy we can only intuit (this is why intuition is more useful than eleborated thought, it is much closer to present and reality).
The present is thinking and act. Every act of life has its temporality in the objective present, always happens in the present. But thinking is unique in that is the constitutional act of 'subjective reality' of human existence, that is, its contents give the way to the past and future, create temporality and subjective reality, create the mental world. The present is the act of thinking (and feeling and imagine and understanding...) itself; it is to exist, it can not be more than the present, it is what is real, not mentally yet, of the psychic act, what has not yet caught the thought because it is still generating it, it is what is undefined and inconceivable the instant that happens. The rest, the past and the future, on the contrary, are ideas, are the subjective world.
The present is the 'reality principle', as opposed to the 'world of ideas' in which we extend the past and future of the content of thought.
The reality of acts of thinking is terribly elusive: thinking is not a thought or knowledge, it is the action that produces them, action that can not be thought itself, or if not, it becomes a thought and fades away, escapes of their size, loses nature of act of objective present. Thinking is condemned to remain as hidden reality. And the past and the future are rationality, mental content, known possibility, but not real, just a possibility, interpreted, thought, believed: invented at the end. Unrealistic and 'false', therefore. So our world is made of hidden reality and of false thoughts... and we are continuously deployed by the contents of our thoughts to the mistake, once and again.
Only if we play an smart sensibility we head, even at moments of insight, towards positivity of empirical reality, in a back and forth between thought and reality. Without this empirical intelligence or sensibility only remains the continued madness of subjective elaborated thoughts, false, conventional reason and opinion, in the paradoxical appearance of possessing absolute truth when we are farther from it. This is the reason insensible to reality, the reason by reason.
Why is the reality that is? What sustains the chained events, the realities that happen? Alain Finkielkraut asked. No way to know, he answered. Even things that we need to know we do not know. What are our motives, the internal logic and the meaning of the acts? It is creepy what we do not know. We think we know, but we do not really know. Although we believe otherwise, we do not know even what will happen, what we will think or what we will feel the next hour. Nor do we really know why happened what happened just now, or for an hour, but we always seem to be convinced to know everything. Our thoughts and knowledges, by themselves, do not allow us to know a lot about reality. On the contrary, often constitute a network of wrong ideas and we will see that reality disassembled again and again, we’ll observe if we test, as suggested Josep Pla referring to the ideas of our complete biography.
Ignorance is not a knowledge gap, however, is the folly of too much certainty we need to dismantle, Alain Finkielkraut argues magnificently in ‘Un coeur intelligent’. The reason that justifies itself, than for its survival should disregard reality, the reason that it is not sensible, is terrible. And reason exactly has a tendency to do just that, unfortunately, to become subjective, to lose its objective measure, to do not question itself. "The dream of reason produces monsters". The rule of reason becomes the drama of reason, where the world becomes allegory, a world in which the doctrines and dogmas are more alive than life, and ideas replace reality. The concepts and names are more real and tangible than beings. We run a veil of narrative texture on things, we do not stop using and producing stories, continuosly, always conventionally reasoning, Finkielkraut says. We turn everything that happens into words in a plot of predetermined and predictable arguments. We build a wall of representations and thoughts, completely fictional, that separates us from reality, including our personal reality. What is particular, different and diverse stops mattering. The concrete reality, each of the realities cease to matter. Even people cease to matter, because they are subjected to something that matters more: to a political, religious, identity… doctrine, whatever, that instead of trying to envision how it is, dictates how the world should be.
Finkielkraut picks it up in some sensitive and intelligent literary readings, to alert us. As does Heidegger from philosophy, who dismantled metaphysics as an excess and disproportion of reason, from the finding of the paradox that the lighting itself (think) is not shown, in favor of the lit thing (thought) that it does, and thus inscribed metaphysics and ontology into the phenomena of personal experience, within the show (or not) of things: in the empirical dimension of manifestation of things. With Heidegger metaphysics becomes empirical, a natural manifestation of the world, accessible in a varying degree, sometimes with great difficulty but still accessible, not to reason but to intelligent observation and to the method of science, eminently empirical.
Everything would be easier, surely, if we admit that the time, strictly speaking, does not exist, but thinking and thought, mental activity and mental content. People are like a kind of machine that makes its own time, a machine set in the present that creates the illusion of past and future, of cause and effect. A machine that plots ideas about what may have happened and what can happen, farther or closer to the marks we put on the clock and the calendar, but has almost no information on its own mechanics, does not capture the thinking itself, the act. Does not capture the precise moment, nor, therefore, the successive moments, its true causality. This machine can not know itself. Knowledge is the content of thought, not the action of thinking. The product never is the process that produces it, is something different, this is inevitable. The machine can not do anymore than withdraw explain itself by mechanisms that actually do, and try to be understood and justified by its product, that are just thoughts. We are a machine that does not understand nor governs itself, we have to admit. We have the illusion that we do, even a great need to believe in it, a practice and very “reasonable” need, but, basically, everything stays on justifications and excuses, pure fickle ideas that don’t give us neither understanding nor real control of ourselves, only its fantasy.
But happens that we are subordinated to what our ideas and plans are. Man is thus the measure of things. And "as more exclusively he conceives himself, as subject, as the measure of things, more equivocal is the measure". In hold onto the apparent, in going back and forth between the near and habitual ideas (attitude that Heidegger calls “insistence”) is where lies the error, in the sense of aimlessly roaming. This is precisely the source of the errors that disfigure and hide the reality. Subjectification of reality is trivialization of reality. Succeeds when we put into words, to give it a narrative texture, by reasoning after all.
We are lost in the narrative time in everyday pre-established knowledge, by definition wrong, that is a simple mental habit and a reflex response, associations of the most common, easiest, and most ordinary conventional ideas. Man, hopelessly, attends the ideas, becomes helpful to ideas and strays into them. He forgets himself in the spontaneous evolution of thought, precisely in the conviction to do the real thing and attending the need of maintaining consistency with himself. Recklessly, he equals his being to the set of personal ideas, he reduces to it, not realizing that the truth belongs to the realm of reality and not to the realm of thought.
The truth is not a system of propositions that can be invoked. It is not a formality. Present and reality (events) are the carriers of truth, because truth appears at the time they are shown, it presents in them. Truth can never be a correction trial we make based on predefined ideas, because if we force so against nature, sooner or later, we completely disregard the objective becoming of reality, and we forget, deform and destroy truth.
Thank you, Alain.