By Zulumathabo Zulu © 2015
Dimakatso Discourse – Part 4
Enter Dimakatso Discourse – Part IV. This conversation arises out of a previous conversation that took place in When I Gravitate To Catherine whose main focus was the ontology of beauty. It was revealed in that conversation that there were three constructs of beauty namely Observable, Unobservable and Transcendental forms of beauty. These clusters also represent the ontological states of beauty. In this segment of the discourse, Dimakatso is focusing attention on the same subject of beauty but from a linguistic analysis point of view which gives us another epistemic access to the dimensions of beauty. The conversation is already in progress.
Dimakatso: Tlatlamachola! Mmopi e motle! (Tlatlamachola! The Beautiful Creator!). Thokoza Makhosi! We are grateful for affording us this rare platform as we seek to gain better understanding about the design purpose of beauty.
At this round of discourse, we seek to understand the ontology of beauty from the Basotho system of knowledge.
Does the creator think we can gain an epistemic access to the ontology of beauty using the African ways of knowing of the Basotho? This is important for us as it contextualizes the philosophy of beauty.
The Creator: Dimakatso, this is the most instructive proposition because the Basotho language by design is different from the English language. As a result of its linguistic architecture, we can learn new things about beauty with respect to the epistemology, ontology, axiology and the numerical logic of the Basotho. The people of the Lefatshe planetary system would be better advised to learn from the Basotho language.
However, as creators we tend to concern ourselves more with design issues of creation. The role of language in the ontology of beauty is better left to a subject matter expert. I want to introduce you to Nteterwane from Tosamasiu planetary system. He is a Linguistics Engineer. He understands language in terms of its structure and design. Constructs like syntax, semantics, morphology, lexis and graph theory are within the domain of his expertise. I think your conversation with him will be productive.
The Creator (introducing Nteterwane to Dimakatso): Nteterwane meet Dimakatso from the Lefatshe planetary system. She has a deep interest in the epistemology and ontology of existence. In this case, her focus is the role of language in the ontology of beauty with reference to the Basotho.
Nteterwane: Thokoza Makhosi! Pleased to meet you Dimakatso.
Dimakatso: The pleasure and honour are mine.
Nteterwane: (stepping forward) A quick intro about me. I am a linguist and engineer. I have lots of expertise in the role of language with respect to epistemology and ontology of existence and we can have a rich discourse as it relates to the philosophy of beauty. The engineering part means that I command superior skills with regards to the design analysis and reverse engineering of systems such as a linguistic system.
Dimakatso: Very well. It is gratifying that in this discourse we have yet to learn more about beauty using the Basotho philosophical constructs.
In our previous conversation with The Creator we discussed the OUT (Observable, Unobservable, Transcendental) forms of beauty and this time around we want to focus on TKP (Tadimeha, Kunuteha, Phahamela) perspective of the Basotho philosophical thought.
Let’s start off with the first cluster of observable beauty. The Basotho’s equivalent construct is Tadimeha. What can we learn from this construct about beauty?
Nteterwane: Tadimeha is a more powerful and much richer concept than the English equivalent of Observable. The English concept of observable is much narrower in that it describes the state of beauty with respect to the objective experience of the observer. Beauty is observable if both observers agree that the object is beautiful. Outside that definition, there is really not much to say about beauty.
The Basotho construct Tadimeha describes beauty as a collective concept in accordance with the syntactic rules of cardinality. It means that if the object is beautiful, then other observers in the collective agree that the object is beautiful hereby giving us a more nuanced experience of beauty. This philosophical construct underscores the congruent experience of the observers with respect to the members of the clan. The English concept relies more on propositional logic whereas the Basotho construct relies more on transactional logic. Transactional logic is a derivative of Botho Philosophy (also known as Ubuntu Philosophy) from the axiom Motho ke motho ka Batho (A human is human as a result of the humanity of the clan) and uses the numerical form of inductive logic.
Tadimeha also incorporates the state of beauty with respect to the senses of the observers. The axiom “Botle boya tadimeha” translates into “Beauty is pleasing, observable and agreeable”. That one axiom gives us an epistemic access to three knowledge domains about beauty! That is incredible! Namely (1) the pleasing aspect refers to the senses, (2) the observable aspect refers to the clannish observers and (3) agreeable refers to the agreement of the members of the clannish collective. The Basotho use a clannish knowledge system whereas the English use an individualistic knowledge system. We get better epistemic access to the ontology of beauty if we use the Basotho linguistic system based on their numerical and transactional systems of logic.
Dimakatso: Wow! It is amazing! Just using one construct of Tadimeha, gives us access to three knowledge domains about beauty. I trust that my people from the Lefatshe planetary system will take a page from this discourse.
Nteterwane: I couldn’t agree more Dimakatsao. Thokoza Makhosi! From this amazing knowledge of the Basotho, we therefore learn that Tadimeha describes beauty from a numerical logic whereby a set of observers must agree that the object is beautiful in order for that object to be deemed as beautiful. This underscores the transactional method of knowledge production and propagation in accordance with the Basotho worldview.
Dimakatso: Wow! It is noteworthy that Basotho use numerical logic as a baseline of their philosophical thinking. They then blend this numerical logic with transactional logic. What you are saying is that we couldn’t have arrived at this knowledge domain if we had confined ourselves to the English language. What is the reason for this?
Nteterwane: The reason for this is that the English language lacks the syntactic sophistication of the Sesotho language. Two-thirds of the English language owes its existence to borrowing from other languages whereas the Sesotho language is about 100% native. The English language has also been growing at a lexical level without much improvement at a syntactic level. Contrast that with the Sesotho language that has evolved an intricate system of syntax overtime. For example, the Basotho axiology requires a transactional congruence as part of the language because this design feature incorporates the philosophical constructs of the clan.
Moreover, the morphology in the Sesotho language is governed by its syntactic system so that it is possible for a new word formation to be aligned with the philosophical constructs of the clan vis-à-vis the English language whereby a new word formation is disconnected from its syntactic system. This happens because syntax in the English language operates at a sentence level whereas in the Sesotho language syntax operates at a morphological level. This means that the Sesotho sentence is parsed through two passes namely (1) morphology pass and (2) sentence construction pass.
On the one hand, part of the reason for the lexical limitation of the English language with respect to the philosophy of beauty is attributable to the coding system of the language. The Sesotho language was coded by the erudite African ancestors using a logosyllabric system which allows for the encoding of the syntax. On the other hand, the English language coding system is based on an alphabetic system that is not capable of encoding the syntax. We can see that the design features of the language determine the extent of expressive power with respect to the philosophical constructs of its people as is the case in our topical subject of the philosophy of beauty.
Dimakatso: Incredible! Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! Thokoza Makhosi! My people have suffered a tragic case of colonization with the result that they have developed a sense of disdain about themselves and their knowledge system. They gravitate towards the English language because they think that English is the language of the sophisticates but then hereby, as a prestigious Linguistics Engineer from the venerated Tosamasiu planetary system, you have just demonstrated that English does not have the sophistication that we think it has. Thokoza Makhosi! In a way, you are an exorcist! You are here to cleanse us of the inferiority complex so that we can regain our position as masters of our own destiny. Thokoza Makhosi! Ka Sesotho rere o kgalema lenyatso! (In Sesotho we say you exorcise the disdain).
Neteterwane: Dimakatso! Thokoza Makhosi! Sorry to digress a little. I’m kind of losing composure as a result of what you have just said. You have just touched my heart deeply when you refer to a very painful part of history. This tugs strongly at my heartstrings because some of our ancestors came from the Lefatshe planetary system and we are familier with the stories of their painful past. We are referring here to the colonization of your people. Colonization and slavery operated as the most powerful institutions. Obviously, the modern form of that brutal experience is Imperialism but that is the topic for another segment of the timeline.
As you reflect upon the sense of disdain that is engendered by the historical experience of colonization, I am reminded about the hypnotic powers of foreign occupation. Another observation, is that even after the end of colonization and slavery, the triggers of painful memory are still there. These psycho-emotional triggers have not gone away.
As a result of losing your destiny to others, you become their enslaved entity. They now seize your thoughts, feelings, behaviour, perceptions and movement using some kind of hypnotic powers, puppetry strings, structures, institutions or in a worst case, lawfare. These mechanisms of control are difficult if not impossible to break. Without mastering and steering your destiny you are guideless. Moreover, human behaviour is easily swayed, modified and channelled by structures.
What is even worse is that, that kind of brutal experience generates ignorance about who you are, what you are capable of and where your people come from. Ignorance is the greatest form of intellectual theft because when you are ignorant of something, then you begin to think that it does not exist even if it does exist. The default state of an ignorant mind is to disavow existence. Thus, ignorance is a thief of existence. A case in point is the intellectual prowess of your people and the cosmic knowledge they possess and yet some think that you have no language, philosophy, science or technology.
As a member of the collective, the organism thrives as part of a cooperative system that maximizes the survival experience of the organism whereas when the organism is cut off from the clan then its survival experience is brutally reduced.
This produces dire consequences even for the health system of the organism because the naive organism finds itself in a defensive state and naturally generates, via the endocrine system, stressful hormones like cortisol inside the body. It’s these stressful hormones that circulate in the blood system, convert into toxic chemical messengers and eventually become antagonists of longevity and the quality of existence. In a defensive state, the organism is almost like on a warpath but without the ability or the resources to preserve its survival.
Going forward, we are here to jog your memory about the erudite ancestors and to equip you with the intellectual fighting sticks so that you can shake off the veil of self-disdain and subjugation. We are greatly indebted to your scholarly ancestors for their knowledge system. We shall forever pay deserved tribute to the erudite ancestors who have gone before you. Thokoza Makhosi!
Dimakatso: Thank you for that empathy statement. It means a lot to me and my people. However, life can’t stop because of this brutal historical experience. Life must go on.
Nteterwane (interjecting): Definitely life must go on.
Dimakatso: Moving right along (smiles)! Basotho have another construct Kunuteha which describes the unobservable form of beauty. How is this different from the English construct of Unobservable?
Nteterwane: Unobservable simply means unable to be observed. The Basotho construct Kunuteha means it is there but cannot be seen or the object refuses to be seen. Another construct they use is Qamacheha. According to the Basotho, Kunuteha or Qamacheha describes the kind of phenomenon that is unobservable but is there. This means that the beauty of Kunuteha is there but you must be able to decode it. In this case, you have the transactional logic from the clan that the properties of the object are its beauty.
Dimakatso: We move on to Transcendental beauty which in Sesotho is defined as Phahamela. What can we learn from the beauty of Phahamela?
Nteterwane: Transcendental beauty is an interesting one because it says that the beauty of the object is derived from its ability to overcome material conditions. The Basotho’s construct of Phahamela gives us another dimension. Phahamela says that given all objects in the set, the one that exhibits the attributes of Phahamela is able to set itself apart by rising above the rest. The desert flower models this concept very well when it rises above ground before all other plants in response to the falling rain. It blooms before anyone else as it comes alive during the falling rain.
Dimakatso returned to the military academy with a paradigm changing experience of having been introduced to Nteterwane. Nteterwane is also an expert in the coding system of language something that will add more knowledge about the power of language such as is the case with the Sesotho language.