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 The Promise of Non-Rational Thought

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ScoutsHonor

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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Thu 28 Jan 2010, 2:02 pm

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Sorry to go on about this, but I believe these misunderstandings are near the core of the great mistakes of our modern civilization. Of course there is much more I can say about this.

Please do...I find this line of thought 'energizing', to say the least. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Thu 28 Jan 2010, 3:40 pm

Okay, I'll be lazy and throw you an article that I wrote a few years ago.

The Promise of Non-Rational Thought

"Fundamental progress has to do with the reinterpretation of basic ideas." - Alfred North Whitehead

Ask anyone today for a definition of reason or rational thought and the best answer you're likely to get without resort to a dictionary will be something like: "It's the way we think." That's like asking someone what a car is and getting the answer: "It's the way we get around." I am a radical, in the literal sense that I seek the root of a problem, the foundation of an idea, and the essence of an ideology. Radical comes from the Latin radix, literally meaning "root" and about fifteen years ago I started digging down to find the very root of human reason. No, I don't think I'm another Immanual Kant. I'm just a man with a lifelong passion for understanding, and what I found changed the way I see everything.

"Our blight is ideologies...... they are the long expected Antichrist!" - Carl Gustav Jung

We are all ideologues in the sense that we each have a rationally conceived system of ideas about the world through which our experience of reality is normally filtered. This view may contain religious, social, political, psychological, artistic, economic, cultural, and any number of other elements that synergistically combine with direct experience to form our understanding of this world. Since, to some degree, each of us is unique, you could say that there are nearly seven billion reality ideologies in the world today.

Our experience of reality may be temporarily free of reasoned ideology, such as during those exciting moments when someone unexpectedly navigates their car a little too close to ours at high speed on the freeway. For a few seconds we may act instantaneously without reasoning through the various possible courses of action. During those wonderful little events, we "just do it". We don't think about it until it's over. The rest of the time though, we do think about things. In fact we do so interminably, even obsessively.

So what is it that we are doing when we think about something? Obviously we are using the premier human tool of reason or rational thought. I think we civilized westerners are pantheistic worshippers of many deities such as science, technology, sensual pleasure, our culture and nation, and even our individual selves, with Reason as the deity presiding over the pantheon. Reason, coming to us from the Old French: raison, literally means to "re-sound" and describes the mental and physical activity of repeating some experience of reality symbolically in sounds as words. Yet these words, as pregnant with meaning as they can be, are but the merest shadow of that which is symbolized. Think "city", with all that may bring to mind, and then go experience one. If you don't see what I mean, you're not giving sufficient attention to the amazingly vast reality of it versus its symbolic mental counterpart. This will even be true with so simple a concept as "tree". There's obviously indefinitely more there than mere symbols can ever relate. It's like the difference between apprehension and comprehension or the difference between the finite and the infinite, with an idea being finite and reality being infinite.

"Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

Notice the difference between the written and spoken word. I prefer to see and hear someone giving a dissertation upon some topic rather than read their written explication of it. I have found repeatedly, if after reading someone's written word, I'm fortunate enough to hear them relate it aloud in speech, the subtleties communicated through vocal rhythms and tonalities always noticeably alter and expand my understanding. If I can see them as well, further meaning comes through facial expression and other body language, much of which is simply never transmitted through the written word. The difference between a symbol and the reality to which it refers is that sort of relationship, though often on a much grander scale.

"The symbol is not the thing symbolized." - S. I. Hayakawa

"Rational thought", despite the common use of the word "rational" to refer to sanity or "sound" mental activity, literally refers to the mental activity of rationing reality into portions or bits, which we then symbolize with words or what Terence McKenna used to call "small mouth noises". Rational thought and reason are two different terms for abstract symbolic thought. One way of conceiving of this rationing process was described forty years ago in a lecture given by the philosopher Alan Watts where he suggested we imagine ourselves with a flashlight in a darkened room. We only clearly see whatever appears within the circle of light projected by the flashlight. The darkened room represents the whole of reality which we scan and symbolize, a portion at a time, but we can't see the whole. We try to understand the whole by mentally combining all the parts we have seen pass before our little beam of light, but the result is an approximation. This isn't another version of Plato's cave allegory. This is about language.

"Oh the word is not the thing, the word is not the thing, high ho the merryo the word is not the thing." - Alan Watts, 1967.

Words can take on an aura of mysterious power as in the speaking of "spells" in the medieval and ancient world. Today, in Christian circles for instance, the phrase "The Word" takes on the specter of ultimate truth. The gospel of John opens with "In the beginning was the Word" suggesting the primacy of language. We "tune out" much of the reality around us as we contemplate in language, traveling along our little mental train tracks of linguistic thought, hoping as we go that we are on "the right track". All too often we find we are not. We may even become "lost in thought" and unaware of the world around us. Imagine reality as an infinitely large blackboard with our thoughts linearly appearing, word by word, across a tiny portion of it. Our attention focuses on the words and the concepts they represent in syntactical combination, but we are unable to fully contextualize our relatively tiny understandings with the unimaginable whole of the reality blackboard which is outside of our rational or rationed view. As we diagram our little train track of thought upon this unimaginably great blackboard, we discover, or create, conceptual sidetrack after sidetrack. We can follow each of these and continue to find further sidetracks of sidetracks, etc. Standing back and viewing this increasingly complex diagram, we see a hierarchical tree structure forming, one train of thought branching into another and then another, and so on. It seems our very concept of hierarchy is a consequence of reason's linear structure itself.

"The map is not the territory. The word is not the thing." - Alfred Korzybski

Today's science and industry generally follow only those conceptual sidetracks which promise to lead to privately held and privately controlled wealth and power. There do appear to be largely unexplored rational sidetracks potentially leading to entirely different and much less harmful modalities of technology than those now generally employed. Many sidetracks discovered over time which held the promise of liberating humanity from dependence on controlled sources of food, water, energy, medicinal modalities, etc., now lie forgotten and overgrown. Studied and practiced only by the fringe dwellers of propagandized popular culture, these ideas progress but slowly and endure suppression and censorship while the mass of humanity passively surrenders even its awareness of where authority takes it, let alone its inherent, self-evident, right of self-determined direction. This is partly because we are all becoming lost and confused as we swim within an increasingly swift and mind-numbingly vast river of overwhelmingly complex rational information.

"Reason's last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it." - Blaise Pascal

If you suspect all this is some sort of attack upon sacred Reason, the "foundation stone of science" and the very "cornerstone of civilization", be patient dear reader. I am quite aware of Reason's glorious importance. Without it, this little communique from me to you couldn't happen, could it? Some will say I'm engaging in "bootstrap thinking" here, analyzing reason by using reason itself; quite so. I'm not aware of any alternative.

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." - Abraham Maslow

So back to the fundamental crux of the matter: Thinking rationally, or reasoning, is thinking in or with symbols. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig writes of the "knife of reason" slicing reality into endlessly divisible bits. We identify (some say create) these countless bits of reality, create a symbol for each, and combine the symbols into mental strings we call sentences. Presumably we initially did this in prehistory to communicate with each other better, but somewhere along the line the activity of linguistic thought became unimaginably complex and we began to get lost in it, intoxicated by it all. We became trapped in what far eastern philosophical traditions often call the abiding "inner dialogue"; the continuous mental process where we endlessly try to figure things out. This process rarely leads to certainty, and any certainty may be illusory, so we generally end up choosing our best guess, or intuition, when decision and action become necessary. This inner conversation can continue throughout our day and become so obsessive that it may even prevent us from sleeping at night.

"Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty as regards reality." - Albert Einstein

Considering mind and body as separable for the moment, our bodies react to purely mental activity to some degree as they do to our "outer" experience such that tension may build as we contemplate, sometimes emotionally potent, symbolic mental constructs. Our muscles react and tense as we pile one intellectualization upon another, especially as we worry over difficult personal dilemmas or recall painful memories. Some of this tension will remain within us until we melt it away, most commonly through physical exertion or massage, drugs like marijuana or alcohol, or meditation/yoga. After all, the first principle of traditional meditation (not to be confused with intellectual contemplation) is the inhibition and eventual cessation of the inner dialogue. This is commonly accomplished by the concentration of attention upon a fascinating singularity like a yantra, pendulum, flame, gemstone, gong sound, mantra, or whatever best holds our attention. The most powerful trance inducing singularity I know of is a fetching woman because the trance state is almost instantaneous and relatively effortless, but I digress. The object is to break the wild spirit of the undisciplined mind like that of a wild animal by tethering it to something like a mental hitching post, forcing it to stay in one spot, so to speak. Keeping the attention so fixed prevents that mental discourse, stopping rational linguistic thought in its linear tracks. Relaxation, potentially very deep, inevitably follows.

"Thought is constantly creating problems and then trying to solve them. But as it tries to solve them it makes it worse because it doesn't notice that it's creating them, and the more it thinks, the more problems it creates." - David Bohm

Tense muscles are tense because they are receiving continuous neurological messages to contract, presumably from some deep or at least somewhat less than conscious portion of you that continues to reflect upon something that is in some way stressful. Concentrating and holding attention upon something as simple, yet fascinating, as a candle flame interrupts this activity. The longer and more fully you concentrate, the more of your mental self you involve and the less energy is given to these neurological impulses and the body relaxes and awareness literally expands. It's as if that portion of mind continually dedicated to generating the neurological impulses has now been freed from its "neurotic" repetition to rejoin its greater conscious self. Practiced meditators know the experience of suddenly seeing anew after a deep meditative practice. Surprisingly obvious solutions to seemingly insoluble problems may suddenly appear in a flash of insight.

"Human Reason is like a drunken man on horseback; set it up on one side, and it tumbles over on the other." - Martin Luther

In our civilized (citified) society the wildly imaginative minds of childhood are gradually overwhelmed by the linguistic reality models of our culture (our general cultural ideology), initially absorbed in an unconscious osmosis from our immediate family. The infant perceives and emotionally, needfully, repeats and imitates, eventually conforming for acceptance. As symbolic linguistic thought becomes unconsciously habitual, the mind thus occupied is partly divorced from reality, as it attends a continual stream of symbols of reality, and may miss what is right before its eyes. That mind is our mind. So what are we missing?

"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For Man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern," - Aldous Huxley, 1954.

You can rationalize anything, they say, and they are right. Here lies Humankind's greatest dilemma: how to understand things aright. Take all the world's problems and controversies, tragedies and injustices, mysteries and uncertainties, and you will find them embedded within great swirling complexes of rational definition and interpretation. The endless analysis and discussion of it all provides a nice living for many. Anything communicated by language is "rational" by the above definition of rationality, so saying someone or some argument is not rational is misunderstanding the problem which is rationality itself. It is in fact limited, but reality, within which it operates, apparently is not. No matter how much data you collect regarding some question or problem, you can not collect enough to achieve full comprehension. There will always be more data to discover and a more mature understanding to achieve. This is why we often intuitively hesitate to accept pronouncements from those who say they "know" or are "absolutely certain" that they are correct about something. We learn from life that there is always more to learn about anything. We know from our own life of rationalizing that something may be well buttressed with logical argument, yet untrue. I try to think in terms of probabilities. One of the continuing ironies in my life is that no matter how certain I am about anything, should I declare aloud my certainty, especially uttering the classically egoistic "I know", life metaphorically (sometimes literally) slaps my little face with some punishing revelation of error, and back into modesty I slink. Doubtless some brilliant critique of this article's inevitably imperfect employment of imperfect reason will repeat this lesson.

"Language is a virus from outer space." - William S. Burroughs

The dilemma, dear reader, is this: If reason itself is fundamentally flawed, and doomed to imperfectly representing reality due to its reliance upon interpretations of great collections of symbols of reality rather than a more direct manner of understanding, should we trust only reason to guide us rightly into our increasingly chaotic future? Has it not been the primary vehicle through which we have arrived at the world's current state of affairs? Should we not be freeing ourselves from the mind deadening and disease producing stress of our rationally conceived modern civilization thus expanding our awareness and allowing a more direct and reality based understanding of our situation?

"We should have a great many fewer disputes in the world if only words were taken for what they are, the signs of our ideas only, and not for things themselves." - John Locke

Perhaps another example of "non-rational" knowing will help here. When we are genuinely loved, we know it. We non-symbolically feel it, no matter what is communicated in language. Conversely, when we are not loved, we know it, no matter the claim nor even belief of the supposed loving one. Somehow we have the ability to directly sense the truth of a matter. When we do something that is simply wrong, we know it, we feel it "in the gut" as we sometimes say, no matter our self-supportive rationalizing, for the rationalization is symbolic and the feeling is not. This can become confusing as it is often an emotionally based desire that leads us astray into wrongful action to begin with. Since strong emotion can cloud reason, it remains suspect within intellectual discussion and rightly so. We can go round and round with this until we simply realize that we do have the capacity, through the amazing mystery of awareness, to directly sense the right path. Tension abrades this natural ability, dims our perceptive ability, and a continuous inner dialogue increases this tension. As you become conscious of uncomfortably tensed muscles through any relaxation/meditation practice, this becomes obvious. Even sitting quietly will produce tension in direct proportion to the intensity and duration of the inner dialogue. Quieting the inner dialogue reverses this. Ever notice how extremely talkative people, especially those who speak at a fast pace, are often the most tense and also generally unaware of it (and much else)?

"If men would steadily observe realities only, and not allow themselves to be deluded, life, to compare it with such things as we know, would be like a fairy tale and the Arabian Nights' Entertainments." - Henry David Thoreau

Civilization is literally the culture of cities. That is, in fact, the etymological meaning of the word. Compare the stereotypes of the relaxed, almost carefree, presence of the country villager to the tense and hurried city dweller. There are two generalizable qualities of awareness represented here. The city dweller finds the quiet presence of the country fellow to be evidence of a dim simplicity or less sophisticated intellect. The country fellow finds the city fellow to be in such a tense and hurried state that he actually misses the forest for the trees. This city/country dichotomy of relaxed versus tense awareness may underly the old conflict between Christian and Pagan populations. The Christians were the city folk. Pagan literally means country or forest dweller. Pagan peoples with their relaxed and expanded awareness, directly sensed the Mystery around them in nature. Christians received their rational ideology from the written word. Both, however, were fully capable of superstition, fearing what they did not understand.

"Born Free, Then Caged" - Springfield Wild Animal Park

This technology-centered civilized world has evolved into its modern form by use of the tool of reason. The basic model for our civilization harkens back to the ancient world. Centuries ago, as organized religion was corrupted by business and political interests, it was displaced by science as the supreme authority of reality. Today, science research is increasingly corrupted by those same interests. I suggest we question all authority which pretends to hold the high ground of truth. Reason can disable as easily as it can enable. I suspect the mystics have been right all along. First we must achieve some degree of inner peace. Perhaps then will our expanded Awareness realize Reason's promise of a truly reality-centered civilization, versus our modern fantasy-centered culture. After all, reason is only a tool of mind. The results of its use are determined by both the quality and the state of the mind.

"This inner peace stuff is tough on the ol' coconut." - Homer Simpson
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Thu 28 Jan 2010, 4:12 pm

Is this article arguing that there are no universal truths?

With regard to Adorno, he argued, and quite correctly while unfortunately, that reason is irrational because reason can be manufactured via societal inputs on the human. This is precisely why the techniques of social engineering are so effective, rationality is irrelevant, as reality is given to the public (through education, Hollywood, political rhetoric, new age religions, COINTEL opposition actors, etc.), especially when universal truths are totally marginalized, which is where we are today.

Quote :

The simulacrum is never what hides the truth - it is truth
that hides the fact that there is none.

The simulacrum is true.


- Ecclesiastes


PS. I will start a thread here on IF Stones' "Trial of Socrates," as it will clear up many misconceptions. It's quite clear that Socrates and Plato were representatives of the aristocracy, and that they were attempting to usurp self-government by the people. It is a short read.

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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Thu 28 Jan 2010, 9:18 pm

Quote :
Okay, I'll be lazy and throw you an article that I wrote a few years ago.
"The Promise of Non-Rational Thought"
Thanks for the fascinating article. I'm just about to start a second reading (necessary!)--and would like to get back to a discussion after rereading it.
Much, much food for thought in the article..and very interesting..
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Fri 29 Jan 2010, 12:28 am

Wow, what an excellent write up conspiratus with an excellent follow up IP. I believe that this is where we need to spend some time, in philosophy. How can we discuss anything before we discuss a topic such as this. Rationality, civilized, truth, false, so on and so forth. Civilized is a con of a word that is a cliche passed around in the MSM. Civilized is usually presented as something other than the original definition that conspiratus provided.

Would rationality create 100,000 nuclear bombs that can kill the earth for a long long time? 1 nuclear fission missile would do a tremendous amount of damage to us all.

I love talking philosophy but which arguement/philosopher carries the truth? Kant, Descartes, Aristotle, Plato, Nietscze, Hegel, Dewey, etc... For if one carried the truth then reason would dictate that all others should be discarded. I have not seen this yet so where does that leave us? Which flavor of truth/philosopher do you like? Thats where we seem to be with philosophy. Can parts of all philosophers be combined into the unified field of philosophical truth and still maintain truth? Can someone get the whole truth? Is truth a priori? What is truth? Is truth just a symbol made in words to describe events that did or did not occur? Is truth just a logical arrangement of words that meet the rules of ones langauage?

IP: "Especially when universal truths are marginalized" - I hope that you will follow up on this. What are universal truths? Where did they come from? How do we know that they are true? Are they true if humans are not alive? I hope I dont offend you with these questions but I love to talk about this stuff.

I hope that many will join in here so that we can discuss a very important topic, in my mind, one of the most important topics. I would suggest if others would like to go into this that we move it to a new thread.

I cant wait for the IF Stones, IP. I am eagerly waiting to read the skinny on the greeks.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Fri 29 Jan 2010, 2:40 am

stilltrying wrote:

IP: "Especially when universal truths are marginalized" - I hope that you will follow up on this. What are universal truths? Where did they come from? How do we know that they are true? Are they true if humans are not alive? I hope I dont offend you with these questions but I love to talk about this stuff.

[snip]

I cant wait for the IF Stones, IP. I am eagerly waiting to read the skinny on the greeks.
I started a thread on IF Stones' book in the library section, click here. It's a very important thread, and a critically important book.

(note: after you check out that thread go look what this meat-head has to say in our friends website)

I believe Universal truths are the key to humanity's survival, and I believe our founders realized this, as well as many other great thinkers in history. It seems to be our only guard against an elite who have an unlimited inventory of techniques for manipulating the public through relative thinking. For example, slowly moving us from a Constitutional Republic to some sort of global fascist brave new world phantasm. This is an excellent topic, and should be the subject of a separate thread, and not take away from this current thread. Start one if you want.

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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Fri 29 Jan 2010, 9:16 am

IP wrote:
Quote :
Is this article arguing that there are no universal truths?

Not sure to what you are referring here. Do I imply that somewhere? If so it was unintentional, though I'm with ScoutsHonor in not being sure just what a "universal truth" might be.

I'm afraid I still disagree with the Adorno quote and your use of the terms reason and rational, but if you like we can just agree to disagree rather than argue the point, though I do think it is a critical point. May I ask that you read what I have written above most carefully as it was carefully conceived and written over many many years of contemplation. I think there is much more there than you may realize. I apologize if this sounds like arrogance, but you don't seem to be replying to what I have written. I maintain that reason and rationality are identical, so saying that reason is irrational is the same as saying that rational is irrational, do you see now why I would say that is absurd? As I stress in the above article, the common usage of these terms reason and rational is incorrect. I am literally trying to change your understanding of these words/concepts.

To try and use other words, I am suggesting above that when we perceive reality through something abstract and symbolic like the tool of language, that we are mentally existing in a simulation of reality. Only when we stop thinking in language, as when we successfully stop the inner conversation through meditation do we begin to perceive reality directly and non-linguistically. It is this insight that caused me to have some interest in your forum in the first place. What I see sounds somewhat similar to what little I know of Baudillard's ideas of simulation and simulacra, though I have not read him.

As I suggest above, if I am failing to adequately communicate these ideas, we can just drop it. Nothing about this line of thought it easy.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Fri 29 Jan 2010, 10:25 am

Good article Conspiratus. I always liked that flashlight metaphor Watts employed too.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Fri 29 Jan 2010, 10:38 am

Conspiratus wrote:
To try and use other words, I am suggesting above that when we perceive reality through something abstract and symbolic like the tool of language, that we are mentally existing in a simulation of reality. Only when we stop thinking in language, as when we successfully stop the inner conversation through meditation do we begin to perceive reality directly and non-linguistically.

There is still so much here for me to chew on, but for now I just wanted to share a thought on perception and reality. If we start with the assumption that there is a fixed reality beyond our own personal existence, I do not think that we could truly observe it directly after having removed the abstract of language. The reality we experience is not directly experience by "us", or rather our consciousness. Perhaps we could say that it is "felt" through our senses, our fingers, our eyes etc. but our self-awareness is not our senses, it is our consciousness. What is experienced by our senses is interpreted by our consciousness, and it seems that this is predominately automatic, or handled by the sub-conscious. I believe this would be another, perhaps permanent abstract layer.

Perhaps through meditation we are able to transfer some of this phenominon from our sub-conscious towards are conscious. Perhaps through meditation we enable ourselves to experience the "true" reality of the interpretation of our nervous system. Perhaps through mediation, we are better able to disregard the manipulative noise that is constantly bombarding our sub-conscious, and better align the abstract layer with a non-abstract existence. This is only from my personal experience with mediation, that seems to suggest it could be capable of some or all of these things.

These are only thoughts that I have right now, I do not know where they lead or if they are correct.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Fri 29 Jan 2010, 2:09 pm

Yes, of course you are right Kraig. Although I stand by what I have written, I am by no means pretending to know ultimate reality or the true nature of consciousness. One thing I do believe is that mystery underlies all human knowledge. A scientist would refer to it as uncertainty. If you plumb the depths of any particular subject, whether it be philosophy, religion, mathematics, physics, astronomy, history, or whatever, once you get deep enough you will encounter mystery. Nothing in the universe is fully comprehended within the collective human library of knowledge. That always really strikes me as significant. The human race has been investigating and contemplating everything for at least millennia, yet there is always more to know about whatever it is you are interested in. No matter what it is! It really seems we are not, in fact, permitted to fully understand anything!.

I believe the word understanding itself is an old masonic metaphor describing the imaginative act of an ancient architect standing beneath the foundation of a building and looking up to see it's structure. Understanding indeed! Equally, our word profound means something similar. Pro means toward and found is short for foundation. That seems to come from ancient masonic thought as well. Once you begin to ponder the metaphorical nature of many of our most meaningful words you may begin to see why I question everything. But then I've been a philosopher mystic since my first major paranormal experience at the age of seven in 1959. No elders in my world could answer my questions about the nature of things, so I undertook from that moment on to investigate everything on my own. That has given me a very unusual viewpoint. I've come to have a radical viewpoint on almost everything it seems.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Fri 29 Jan 2010, 2:15 pm

Conspiratus wrote:
YOne thing I do believe is that mystery underlies all human knowledge. A scientist would refer to it as uncertainty. If you plumb the depths of any particular subject, whether it be philosophy, religion, mathematics, physics, astronomy, history, or whatever, once you get deep enough you will encounter mystery.

That is a great thing to keep in mind, there are many that disregard philosophy because this but do not realize how the same "flaw" applies to every aspect of their lives.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Sat 30 Jan 2010, 5:03 pm

Kraig wrote:
Conspiratus wrote:
YOne thing I do believe is that mystery underlies all human knowledge. A scientist would refer to it as uncertainty. If you plumb the depths of any particular subject, whether it be philosophy, religion, mathematics, physics, astronomy, history, or whatever, once you get deep enough you will encounter mystery.

That is a great thing to keep in mind, there are many that disregard philosophy because this but do not realize how the same "flaw" applies to every aspect of their lives.
This is very dangerous thinking and leads humanity toward what Paulo Freire calls "magical thinking," where magical concepts can take hold and reality is lost, allowing us to accept a simulacra of any design. In this state, people can easily fall prey to magical explanation because they cannot apprehend true causality. Logic and true understanding is lost.

I'll start a thread on Paulo Freire here, as that has not been done yet. But his work ties-in very closely with my comments elsewhere in this forum about the importance of Universal Truths. Misunderstanding of these key concepts is what has allowed millions to believe in Global Warming and New Age religions, designed to leverage the concept of relativity to push humanity in any direction the simulacrum wishes to push us.

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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Sat 30 Jan 2010, 7:12 pm

IP wrote:
Kraig wrote:
Conspiratus wrote:
YOne thing I do believe is that mystery underlies all human knowledge. A scientist would refer to it as uncertainty. If you plumb the depths of any particular subject, whether it be philosophy, religion, mathematics, physics, astronomy, history, or whatever, once you get deep enough you will encounter mystery.

That is a great thing to keep in mind, there are many that disregard philosophy because this but do not realize how the same "flaw" applies to every aspect of their lives.
This is very dangerous thinking and leads humanity toward what Paulo Freire calls "magical thinking," where magical concepts can take hold and reality is lost, allowing us to accept a simulacra of any design. In this state, people can easily fall prey to magical explanation because they cannot apprehend true causality. Logic and true understanding is lost.

I'll start a thread on Paulo Freire here, as that has not been done yet. But his work ties-in very closely with my comments elsewhere in this forum about the importance of Universal Truths. Misunderstanding of these key concepts is what has allowed millions to believe in Global Warming and New Age religions, designed to leverage the concept of relativity to push humanity in any direction the simulacrum wishes to push us.
I completely agree. If there is no certainty, there are no absolutes. If there are no absolutes, anything goes. What a Face

I hope you do start a thread on Universal Truths; that'd be great (illuminating) and very interesting too.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Sun 31 Jan 2010, 2:57 pm

I had started a thread on Paulo Freire some time ago and it slipped my mind. You can find that thread here, but it needs further development and discussion.

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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Mon 01 Feb 2010, 1:44 am

IP wrote:
Quote :
This is very dangerous thinking and leads humanity toward what Paulo Freire calls "magical thinking," where magical concepts can take hold and reality is lost,
and ScoutsHonor wrote:
Quote :
I completely agree. If there is no certainty, there are no absolutes. If there are no absolutes, anything goes.

Okay guys, so we have a disagreement. Lets show our personal level of evolution and use all disagreements to become better friends. First, I would appreciate an explanation how this could be called "magical thinking". It seems to me that no area of human knowledge is comprehensive or complete in any sense. All human knowledge continues to evolve and grow.

Look out into space. Beyond what we know is mystery. Is space finite or infinite? If you say it is finite, I will simply ask, then what is the limit? Is it a great wall somewhere out there, and if so, what lies beyond? And of course, if you say it is infinite, how can we know? Space that goes on forever is beyond human understanding. The same is true of looking at the atomic and sub-atomic, isn't it? You can do this with any subject.

Just look at geology. As you know a relatively recent theory named plate tectonics has dominated for a couple generations now, but there is a whole new generation of mavericks that are likely (I say certainly) going to overthrow it, but first the defenders of orthodoxy (and their careers) will likely have to die out. Just watch these animations and carefully look and consider what you are seeing with your own eyes: http://www.nealadams.com/nmu.html I have seen a well educated medical scientist have a nervous breakdown upon seeing them for they literally "rocked her world" and they represent only one of the new theories. If you keep up with science journals at all you are likely to see most any scientific theory challenged on any given day. In fact, change in science seems to be increasing exponentially as does everything else.

The conventional belief in "Universal truths" and "certainty" smack of the attitude of the conservative Christian for me. It sounds like faith and I obviously am a mere human and an unbeliever so I ask you to show me. Of what universal truths do you speak? Of what are you certain? For me all truth is provisional and probabilistic. This gives no problems in life and it certainly doesn't mean that "anything goes"!!!!

I personally believe there is a supreme being, yet I agree with Joseph Campbell's definition of God as a "metaphor for that which transcends all categories of human thought". In other words, it isn't really even possible for us to think about God just as Siddhartha Gautama said. So I suppose that makes all organized western religionists magical thinkers, yes? I remain uncertain because I am honest.

Likewise the nature's of matter, space, time, gravity, magnetism, mind, love, life, etc., etc., etc., remain uncertain, but this doesn't mean that "anything goes, does it? Any scientist will agree with this and would laugh at the assertion that such thinking is "dangerous"! Just ask Kurt Goedel or Werner Heisenberg (in seance presumably).

Everything can and should be questioned. Holding truths provisionally is simply practical. It allows you to use them when they are useful and to let them go without trauma when they are overthrown and see the new with no adjustment period. But then I am a philosopher and we think strangely. If I have misunderstood your meaning above, I apologize. All I really want to do is learn more and more. It's about all an old disabled dit like me can do any more.

I have to say that reading the Wikipedia page on Freire gives me some respect for his ideas on education. I have fought with many an academic over similar ideas of "democratic education". Perhaps you could quote his definition of magical thinking for me. Just exactly what does he mean? Or if you prefer, what do you mean?

Suggesting that something I wrote could be "dangerous" suggests you are feeling great passion about these ideas which I respect immensely, for I too am very passionate about ideas as you may have gathered.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Tue 02 Feb 2010, 12:32 am

Conspiratus said:
Quote :
The conventional belief in "Universal truths" and "certainty" smack of the attitude of the conservative Christian for me. It sounds like faith and I obviously am a mere human and an unbeliever so I ask you to show me. Of what universal truths do you speak? Of what are you certain? For me all truth is provisional and probabilistic. This gives no problems in life and it certainly doesn't mean that "anything goes"!!!!
With regard to this "anything goes" statement of mine, I would like to alter it to the following less-dramatic, but more accurate, thought:

"Without certainty, there are no absolutes. Without absolutes, how does one formulate a moral code?"

I wanted to make my position on this a little clearer, and I hope this does.

But I would like to leave *this * subject to a future post, as I would like to finish my post to you on your essay, "The Promise of
Non-Rational Thought." Is that okay with you? :-)
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Tue 02 Feb 2010, 12:47 am

ScoutsHonor wrote:
Conspiratus said:
Quote :
The conventional belief in "Universal truths" and "certainty" smack of the attitude of the conservative Christian for me. It sounds like faith and I obviously am a mere human and an unbeliever so I ask you to show me. Of what universal truths do you speak? Of what are you certain? For me all truth is provisional and probabilistic. This gives no problems in life and it certainly doesn't mean that "anything goes"!!!!
With regard to this "anything goes" statement of mine, I would like to alter it to the following less-dramatic, but more accurate, thought:

"Without certainty, there are no absolutes. Without absolutes, how does one formulate a moral code?"

I wanted to make my position on this a little clearer, and I hope this does.

But I would like to leave *this * subject to a future post, as I would like to finish my post to you on your essay, "The Promise of
Non-Rational Thought." Is that okay with you? :-)

Are you meaning moral relativism? There are certainly many dangers from many moral codes. There are existential examples, religious examples, race examples, science examples, so on and so forth.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Tue 02 Feb 2010, 1:13 pm

ScoutsHonor wrote:
Quote :
"Without certainty, there are no absolutes. Without absolutes, how does one formulate a moral code?"

and stilltrying wrote:
Quote :
Are you meaning moral relativism? There are certainly many dangers from many moral codes.

I've never really looked into any ideas on situational ethics or moral relativism because those have always seemed obviously absurd to me.

I'm uncertain that absolutes apply to ethics. I do have my own code which I live by, simply consisting of the golden rule. "Treat everyone the way you want to be treated". Everything falls under that as far as I have taken it. I've seen people rationalize problems with it like asking, "but what if you are a masochist?", etc., but for me that is dishonest as the unspoken assumption is that you are not mentally ill and so on. But the golden rule, however you phrase it, isn't technically a truth is it? It's a rule, suggestion, or admonition. You may call it an "ethical absolute" of a sort I suppose, but again it would be an "absolute rule" or something but not a truth per se. I suppose you could say it's an absolute or universal truth that one should embody this rule in life. That may be an absolute that I can't argue with. Yet I hold to it because I believe it is simply the best path I know to walk, not because I know it is the best. It feels arrogant to say it is an absolute certain truth that I know to be so etc., so it will remain provisionally true for me until someone shows me something better to replace it. If no one ever does, that still doesn't prove it is certain.

I think certainty is an emotional state or activity. It's about wanting to "feel secure", to be able to feel at peace about things. I am uncertain what will be on the other side of a door, for instance, but I just accept the probability that it will be safe to open the door. I don't emotionally need certainty about it. Human angst seems always with us. That's one of the interesting mysteries in life for me. Security is elusive and probably illusionary, or at the very least, momentary. Just like certainty. The biblical metaphor about building your house on a rock instead of shifting sands, for instance, has always seemed inadequate to me because shifting sands are all I see. The rock is an illusion, which both physics and far eastern philosophy suggest. The happy religionists who feel secure that they have found the secret of life are mentally existing within a rational ideology, or a type of simulation, aren't they? Reality is provisional, probabilistic, and relativistic for me. This understanding is continually supported by my real world experience. But of course that doesn't mean I've discovered any absolute truth.

Again, I ask for examples. Can you point me to absolutes or certainties? 'Cause I've been looking for them all my life and when I think I have found them, they melt away like the solidity of matter melts away into mere conception for the quantum physicist. Sure we can say matter exists, but we really don't understand it. We can say it is made of energy, but we don't really know what that is either. We can describe the qualities we percieve it has and make predictions about its behavior under certain circumstances, but we still don't really know what it is. I say certainty is an illusion and thank the Ultimate (whatever it uncertainly is) for it. As soon as you think you have figured something out it becomes uninteresting, after all. Uncertainty, or Mystery as I prefer to call it, is everywhere, in every direction, and as I suggested before, underlies all areas of human endeavor and knowledge. If that were untrue, why is there so much debate, discussion, investigation, and exploration both in the physical and mental worlds? Where is the academic department where I can go to see the scholarly people sitting around gathering dust because they know it all and there is nothing left to discover? Sure, most academics think they've got at least their own subject mostly figured out with some scattered details yet to be filled, but this is largely common human pretentiousness. It's also why human knowledge advances at what for me is a snail's pace.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Tue 02 Feb 2010, 3:37 pm

Quote :
I've never really looked into any ideas on situational ethics or moral relativism because those have always seemed obviously absurd to me.
Agreed, that's not what I'm talking about either.

Quote :
I'm uncertain that absolutes apply to ethics. I do have my own code which I live by, simply consisting of the golden rule. "Treat everyone the way you want to be treated". Everything falls under that as far as I have taken it. I've seen people rationalize problems with it like asking, "but what if you are a masochist?", etc., but for me that is dishonest as the unspoken assumption is that you are not mentally ill and so on. But the golden rule, however you phrase it, isn't technically a truth is it? It's a rule, suggestion, or admonition. You may call it an "ethical absolute" of a sort I suppose, but again it would be an "absolute rule" or something but not a truth per se. I suppose you could say it's an absolute or universal truth that one should embody this rule in life. That may be an absolute that I can't argue with. Yet I hold to it because I believe it is simply the best path I know to walk, not because I know it is the best. It feels arrogant to say it is an absolute certain truth that I know to be so etc., so it will remain provisionally true for me until someone shows me something better to replace it. If no one ever does, that still doesn't prove it is certain."

We are in agreement on this also, as I believe this is an excellent guide to moral behavior, and is marvelously clear in its meaning.

Quote :
I think certainty is an emotional state or activity. It's about wanting to "feel secure", to be able to feel at peace about things. I am uncertain what will be on the other side of a door, for instance, but I just accept the probability that it will be safe to open the door. I don't emotionally need certainty about it. Human angst seems always with us. That's one of the interesting mysteries in life for me. Security is elusive and probably illusionary, or at the very least, momentary. Just like certainty. The biblical metaphor about building your house on a rock instead of shifting sands, for instance, has always seemed inadequate to me because shifting sands are all I see. The rock is an illusion, which both physics and far eastern philosophy suggest. The happy religionists who feel secure that they have found the secret of life are mentally existing within a rational ideology, or a type of simulation, aren't they? Reality is provisional, probabilistic, and relativistic for me. This understanding is continually supported by my real world experience. But of course that doesn't mean I've discovered any absolute truth.


If I may, I'd like to return to your above remarks later, as I'd like to establish a broader scope for the discussion just for now.**

Quote :
Again, I ask for examples. Can you point me to absolutes or certainties?"** 'Cause I've been looking for them all my life and when I think I have found them, they melt away like the solidity of matter melts away into mere conception for the quantum physicist. Sure we can say matter exists, but we really don't understand it. We can say it is made of energy, but we don't really know what that is either. We can describe the qualities we percieve it has and make predictions about its behavior under certain circumstances, but we still don't really know what it is. I say certainty is an illusion and thank the Ultimate (whatever it uncertainly is) for it. As soon as you think you have figured something out it becomes uninteresting, after all. Uncertainty, or Mystery as I prefer to call it, is everywhere, in every direction, and as I suggested before, underlies all areas of human endeavor and knowledge. If that were untrue, why is there so much debate, discussion, investigation, and exploration both in the physical and mental worlds? Where is the academic department where I can go to see the scholarly people sitting around gathering dust because they know it all and there is nothing left to discover? Sure, most academics think they've got at least their own subject mostly figured out with some scattered details yet to be filled, but this is largely common human pretentiousness. It's also why human knowledge advances at what for me is a snail's pace.

** OK, these are what I consider to be absolutes:

1. Reality exists, independently of our perception. (You will find this metaphysics in Ayn Rand's philosophy, which is what I subscribe to.).

2. I exist.

3. My job is to perceive reality as well as I possibly can. (Honesty is a major factor).

4. Reality functions according to the Laws of Cause and Effect.

I could go on, Conspiratus, but these are what I mean by absolutes--things about which I am *certain.*

To digress briefly, I wonder if you've ever read any of Ayn Rand, and what you think of her philosophy. She usually elicits either great admiration or profound dislike.....(grin).

Why don't I stop here and see what you think of what I've said so far. I don't want to wander off into areas that aren't relevant, and we seem to be starting, at least, from very different places. However, hopefully the twain can meet. :-)
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Tue 02 Feb 2010, 3:44 pm

stilltrying wrote:
ScoutsHonor wrote:
Conspiratus said:
Quote :
The conventional belief in "Universal truths" and "certainty" smack of the attitude of the conservative Christian for me. It sounds like faith and I obviously am a mere human and an unbeliever so I ask you to show me. Of what universal truths do you speak? Of what are you certain? For me all truth is provisional and probabilistic. This gives no problems in life and it certainly doesn't mean that "anything goes"!!!!
With regard to this "anything goes" statement of mine, I would like to alter it to the following less-dramatic, but more accurate, thought:

"Without certainty, there are no absolutes. Without absolutes, how does one formulate a moral code?"

I wanted to make my position on this a little clearer, and I hope this does.

But I would like to leave *this * subject to a future post, as I would like to finish my post to you on your essay, "The Promise of
Non-Rational Thought." Is that okay with you? :-)

Are you meaning moral relativism? There are certainly many dangers from many moral codes. There are existential examples, religious examples, race examples, science examples, so on and so forth.

Absolutely NOT! (GBG)
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Tue 02 Feb 2010, 7:38 pm

I just didnt understand if what you were saying is that if there are no absolute truths then this only leads to moral relativism.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Tue 02 Feb 2010, 9:51 pm

Conspiratus wrote:
Again, I ask for examples. Can you point me to absolutes or certainties? 'Cause I've been looking for them all my life and when I think I have found them, they melt away like the solidity of matter melts away into mere conception for the quantum physicist. Sure we can say matter exists, but we really don't understand it. We can say it is made of energy, but we don't really know what that is either. We can describe the qualities we percieve it has and make predictions about its behavior under certain circumstances, but we still don't really know what it is. I say certainty is an illusion and thank the Ultimate (whatever it uncertainly is) for it. As soon as you think you have figured something out it becomes uninteresting, after all. Uncertainty, or Mystery as I prefer to call it, is everywhere, in every direction, and as I suggested before, underlies all areas of human endeavor and knowledge. If that were untrue, why is there so much debate, discussion, investigation, and exploration both in the physical and mental worlds? Where is the academic department where I can go to see the scholarly people sitting around gathering dust because they know it all and there is nothing left to discover? Sure, most academics think they've got at least their own subject mostly figured out with some scattered details yet to be filled, but this is largely common human pretentiousness. It's also why human knowledge advances at what for me is a snail's pace.

Here's an example.... Man is Not a God. Sure, you can argue against that, especially in today's world of incredible technology, but do you wanna live in that world?

If everything is relative, then nothing can be absolutely true, not even the fact that everything is relative. If there is no truth, in other words, then not even relativism can be true.

Check out William Gairdner's book, The Book of Absolutes.
http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/universal_truth_in_an_age_of_reason/


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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Tue 02 Feb 2010, 10:33 pm

Quote :
By the way, are you also arguing that there are no absolute lies?

That is a very valid inference.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Tue 02 Feb 2010, 10:40 pm

stilltrying wrote:
I just didnt understand if what you were saying is that if there are no absolute truths then this only leads to moral relativism.
Without any absolute truths we'd be living in a world of continual bewilderment. We'd never be sure of which way to turn, so it would truly be a nightmare of anxiety, I would guess.
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PostSubject: Re: The Promise of Non-Rational Thought   Tue 02 Feb 2010, 10:45 pm

Continuing from my previous post, Gairdner writes...

“[W]e have all, to a distressing degree, consigned
ourselves to intellectual and moral loneliness.”


That's exactly where we're headed in a totally relativistic world with no universal truths. Funny, that that is exactly where the elite want us.
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