Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Higher Consciousness (More?)

Originally posted on June 26, 2013

Mind is both rational and non-rational; it is multi-dimensional and although part of it does logic, the wider processes of mind cannot be explained in terms of any linear approach to logical connections. It includes the shape-shifting nature of language, and play, along with related paradoxical actions and experiences. These are abundant in humor and dreams, and they offer important clues to our existence. Sadly, these non-rational dimensions have been “marginalized,” written about as if they were insignificant. The illusion this is based on is the imagined idea that  were one to be smart enough, informed enough, and self-disciplined enough, such tendencies would evaporate. Not so. Under-estimating these dynamics is fatal to any hope of seriously constructing a truly adequate philosophy.

Here’s an alternative metaphysical view: The cosmos is “layered,” in a loose sense, with levels of order intermixed with “levels” of chaos or disorder or chance. This is more obvious in any contemplation of dreams, and a truly introspective mind would quickly confess that even bright and healthy people spend most of their time in a mixture of less-conscious, habit-ruled, and other states that involve opening to humor, affection, aesthetic enjoyment and discomfort, and so forth. Upon this is a rather thin veneer of seemingly disciplined thought. Even that on careful inspection is hardly as disciplined as it pretends to be.

The rules for phenomena as varied as the patterns of foam in waves and the paradoxes of language may transcend any human capacity or inclination to impose order on that which cannot be so treated. It’s not that there is no order—there’s a lot of order—that’s what keeps science fully drawn forward—always new patterns become apparent—and yet on closer examination there are other elements that transcend whatever system is offered—sometimes really outweighing the known with the mysterious and paradoxical.

Hence, myth, stories, and stories often interspersed with humor, ambiguous activities of gods and humans, impulsive and ridiculous acts. Reading some Jungian stories, I’m reminded of this streak of non-rationality, sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic, that infests these myths.

I think the best we can do is consciously myth-make and seek to make what seem to us to be less foolish than other myths that seem more foolish. (I do this on my website, the most recent example being the portrait of the mystical core of what on the surface is simply a star, a sun like our own far, far away. The problem is that science pretends not to be mythic, and is blind to its own non-rational assumptions, such as the assumption that the cosmos is ordered and capable of being known rationally. It puts the unknown as “not yet” rather than “not knowable by rational means,” and denies the possibility that this is an act of hubris. This is a world-view, a metaphysical stance that is somewhat dominant in our species at this time.

As I say, when contemplating the variety of mysteries, from dark energy and dark matter, which has been calculated to constitute the great majority of the mass of the universe (though these calculations are based on assumptions that we still know little about), to conundrums such as what was “before time;” and then mixed with more down-to-earth human mysteries such as love and inspiration, music and humor, which have by no means been adequately explained by neuroscience. (That there are some correlations, that affection has a chemical mediator in oxytocin, stuff like that, are hints, not adequate explanations!)

The point is that it’s not philosophically comfortable, but neither is it unthinkable, to contemplate the idea that there may be limits to thinking, and even more particularly, reasoning. The insistence that it can and must be done might or might not be mere stubbornness (or to use an idiom in the United Kingdom, “bloody-mindedness”).

This is not to put a block on philosophy, because I can’t say for sure. Certainly there’s room for more thinking—goodness knows the species needs more thinking! But dare we think that thinking may not in the long run yield all possible answers?

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