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Thread: Borders of Europe: The Problem of the Discontinuous Mind

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    Senior Member Catterick's Avatar
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    Borders of Europe: The Problem of the Discontinuous Mind

    Today I was reading about the borders of Europe. Usually set at the Urals and the Caucasus Mts, other borders such as the Don and Dneipr may be preffered as correct.

    But its not really a fact: even if geographers agreed on th boundaries 100 percent, which they don't, treating the arbitrary choice of boundaries as a fact is missing the point of choosing boundaries at all. Namely that the proposal of boundaries, is itself merely illustrative rather that definitive.

    In truth all geographical definitions of Europe try to delineate the Eurasian drainage into the Atlantic Ocean rather than the interior, Arctic, Indian or Pacific drainages. All of the precise stated borders set at rivers or mountains are merely a way for mapmakers and the public to conceptualise this.

    Smart people see such things, mediocre people see the world in terms of facts (and authorities) without asking why, and confuse it with intelligence.

    Yes, the choice of facts such as geographical boundaries is a form of representation (think about it). Not an actual definition per se. Natural things exist independantly of human definitions.

    When a wise man points at the moon, an idiot looks at his finger. Usually this idiom refers to the phenomenon of ad hominiem. The finger, however, is being implemented as a visual marker. You have to look past the finger, to see what someone is pointing to.

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    The reality of a border is completely dependent upon the perspective. Doesn't make them less real, it actually constitutes their reality. Even in the natural world different perspectives exist. Looking at the tectonic plates, one gets a different idea of where one continent begins and the other ends than by looking at waterways, mountain ranges, seas, etc. Not to mention the human (sometimes cultural) distinction which even makes a border out of the geologically insignificant southern Ural mountains. Every map is at the same time a mental map.

    Borders (when used by humans) are therefore a choice in service of human goals. To create a border, our reasons for doing so should relate to that goal and can't be justified by some vague circular argument that justifies the border by its existence.

    That borders aren't as clearcut as we often think, is not an argument againt borders, but rather against its limited modern conception which only knows the border as a physical boundary, as a line between one territory and another. Carl Schmitt argued to transcend this conception and explore the diversity of border conceptions like it existed in the middle ages for example. This means a return to the connection between order and place (Ordnung and Ortung). Law should not be an abstract and universal system of regulation, but bound to a specific place in which the law is enacted. Therefore, like stated in the beginning, law is in service of political goals. The political idea should be guiding; than we can create borders where we want them and how we want them. These borders can be the walls of a fortress, or border zones (the frontier, the mark), depending on the circumstances. Our current incapability to cope with dangers coming from outside our lands is partly due to the fact that we are incapable of understanding that borders come in many types. The famous 'a border doesn't keep people out' is the result of this lack of vision.

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    Senior Member Catterick's Avatar
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    Yes, I agree. Borders (boxes) are like typology (reference to prototypes) in that they are neccessary to express oneself. The problem of the discontinuous mind is wrongful thinking about borders. My reference to Europe was not political, by the way. As it happened I was reading a book about the history of geography.

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    Yeah, borders come in many types: geographical, racial, cultural + the actual control of the migration/residency rights (which these days is electronic).

    The ideal geographical border of Europe in the East IMO should be the Arkgangelsk-Astrakhan line, with the Volga and Dvina rivers marking the physical boundary (Arkhangelsk is the last livable city on the North coast - after that it's just hardcore Arctic-style...)

    Rivers do have an important effect upon the climate and the geomantic quality of the places they divide (the left side and the right side of rivers do have very different energetic qualities).

    And it would make sense, since the Tatar Republic and most questionable ethnic groups live on the East side of the Volga.

    "Russia" would then be everything between the Volga and the Yenisei. East of the Yenisei should belong to the Yellow races.

    In the South, the Caucasus mountains would seem like the obvious boundary between Europe and the Middle East, but in reality, anything under the Rostov-Astrakhan line is already non-European (that's where you find Kalmikya and there are already camels there...)

    So the southern border of Europe should rather be the Don river.

    But Europe would do well with an access to the Caspian sea, so keeping the corridor between the Volga and the Kazakhstan border would be the solution. We could always plant some trees and do some terraforming in that corridor to keep a European landscape You can do anything with permaculture

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catterick View Post
    Yes, I agree. Borders (boxes) are like typology (reference to prototypes) in that they are neccessary to express oneself. The problem of the discontinuous mind is wrongful thinking about borders. My reference to Europe was not political, by the way. As it happened I was reading a book about the history of geography.
    Yes, scientific classification is essentially the same. In the end, all human knowledge (after Kant) is a way of bringing structure into a chaos of perceptions.
    So with wrongful thinking about borders you refer to the fact that people are not aware that borders are, in a way, established and that they mistake this human functional element for its actual existence outside of the human mind? Perhaps in kantian terms mistaking the phenomenal for the Ding an sich?
    Another epistemological problem related this would be the continuum fallacy. Borders (of any type) are, in a way, non-existent. We create them. So there is some level of arbitrariness. On the other hand we should be aware that this arbitrariness of the border in itself does not lessen its power to delineate that of which it is the border, nor does it make this less real. It reminds me of Dávila's aphorism on racism in which he states that the mistake of racists is that they claim the existence of pure races, and the mistake of anti-racists that they think it doesn't matter what you put into the mix.

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    Well phenomena such as the drainage system is clearly independant of human perception as it existed before humans discovered it. My irk is that people treat limits rather than their contents as definitions when the choice of limits is arbitrary and beside the point. Thereby confusing words with realities and concepts that words clumsily express. So yes you are right on both counts and I agree with Dávila about racial issues. Objectivity and subjectivity are not either-or: words refer to fuzzy realities for the sake of communication but a lot of people ignore this. Dumb and conservative people underthink distinctions into neat simplicity whilst smart and liberal people prefer to overthink them into nonexistence. The idea of a rational middle springs to mind.

    Take care.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catterick View Post
    In truth all geographical definitions of Europe try to delineate the Eurasian drainage into the Atlantic Ocean rather than the interior, Arctic, Indian or Pacific drainages. All of the precise stated borders set at rivers or mountains are merely a way for mapmakers and the public to conceptualise this. Smart people see such things, mediocre people see the world in terms of facts (and authorities) without asking why, and confuse it with intelligence.
    Yes, I strongly agree that mountains and rivers make no borders. Jakob Gimm postulated in 1846 that "to a folk, that has crossed rivers and mountains, only its language can set its limits."

    This was the view in the 19th century. During the 20th century we have learned, that language is an important and necessary factor, but is not sufficient. It is blood and language.

    So, the borders of Europe reach as far as folks of European blood and speaking European languages form coherent settlements.

    From this definition follows, that London is out of Europe.

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