Friday, November 11, 2005

Hardening of the Mental Arteries

Hi Sean, Do you mind if I hope your comments on my blog?- JoiAt 17:35 02/09/02 -0700, Sean O'Reilly wrote:

The analogy of the black box as a scientific hypothesis or theory that has conceptually hardened into fact in the collective mind is worthy of a lot of additional thinking. The most obvious example of this sort of hardening is to be found in teachings on evolutionary theory whereby natural selection, which certainly can be shown to be responsible for variations between species, is accepted universally as being productive of species themselves. This is merely a hypothesis that has by no means been proven. There is little or no scientific evidence showing that species evolve into other species--it is merely assumed that this happens over very large periods of time. The fossil record indicates the exact opposite--that new species spring into being almost nilly willy. The reaction of the scientific community to evidence indicating that something other than evolution (or creationism for that matter) might be at work can only be described as hysterical. Creationist camps have equally irrational reactions to evidence that points in directions that might indicate some modification of their position. The Second Law of Thermodynamics, i.e., the Law of Entropy is violated by the appearance of life. What should be happening according to the second law is that species should be devolving into lower forms not higher.

Negentropy or negative entropy is seldom examined by either evolutionary science or biology--except by way of indicating that something "else" might be at work in the universe besides blind forces mysteriously coalescing in marvelous symphonies of order. What I find extraordinarily disturbing is the desire on the part of many members of the scientific community to have the watchmaker of the universe be blind. For what purpose? In a purposeless universe anything goes, so in general one might make the claim that the desire to have a blind watchmaker is in some small part proportional to the desire to be spiritually blind--to be free from moral and spiritual restraints. In short the desire to see blindness in the ordering of the universe is based on the blindness that the appetites have from time immemorial sought to induce in humanity. As Katherine Hepburn said so memorably to Humphrey Bogart (Mr. Allnut) in the Movie, The African Queen, "Nature Mr. Allnut is what we are meant to rise above." Put more bluntly, do your appetites have any desire for spiritual or moral clarity?

If one's appetites could come up with the perfect theory it would be of a universe in which everything was permitted, and nothing causally connected, for indeed that is what your appetites and will desire when left as they are in today's society--all too frequently I might add--to their own devices. Thus when Jean Paul Sartre, in his book Nausea, describes how disgusting the universe appears to him, he is aptly describing an intellect so heavy with appetitive filth that the doorways of perception might be described as being clogged with appetitive diarrehea. Do we not describe those who are morally blind as asses? Their is much truth to expressions such as these. One of my favorite is the description that many apply with unthinking wisdom to the morally disabled individual as "being a dick" or having one's head up one's ass. These are expressions that emphasize the meaning of being absorbed and ruled by the appetites. Korzybski's brilliant observation, in the latter half of the 20th century, that the map is not the territory morphed into the bizarre idea that there is no territory at all, which to most rational individuals is simply absurd. What the great classical philosophers showed us was that there was a universe out there that seemed to operate according to a strict set of rules. What modern science has shown us is that the rules are far more flexible than we thought but rules nonetheless apply--they are just more relative to frames of reference than was previously thought. The notion of the old Catholic scholastics will come to the forefront of modern thinking in the 21st century and that is the notion that being is participatory. We participate in the consciousness of the universe--we don't make it. If there is any task that could be more important than figuring out what the rules governing that participation are, I can't think of it.

Edmund Husserl started science on the road back to some accommodation with the flow of reality with the development of phenomenology and the bracketing (epoche) of judgment, as a discipline that allows the individual self to experience the flow of reality outside black box parameters, i.e. as it actually is, not as it is wished to be. Thus when an individual has,for example, a moral or immoral experience that individual doesn't deny the lived content of his or her experience--they accept it for good or ill, and it is that acceptance of reality that is the basis of the individual who is awake as opposed to asleep. Being capable of doing advanced science, for example, is no guarantee of spiritual or moral wakefulness. Indeed, without moral or spiritual clarity, it can produce that most ghastly of all creatures--the individual without backbone or passion--the lackey. Lackeys with degrees remain lackeys.

I deal with a number of these issues peripherally in How to Manage Your Destructive Impulses with Cyber-Kinetics (How to Manage Your DICK). Unregulated appetites have an extraordinarily corrosive effect on thinking when not checked at the door of our rational faculties. There is a great deal of commingling between the will and the appetites that often gets mistaken for rational thought. I had to restrain myself recently, for example from laughing out loud at a Catholic priest who tried to tell me during a general discussion on sexual matters that the desire for teenage girls was a deviation from normality. How clueless! On the contrary, for the appetites, such things are completely normal. What is abnormal is what one does with this desire, i.e., not checking it. The same applies to having a bad temper, homosexual desires, greed or gluttony--what the appetites want is what the appetites want--what we do with them is what makes us moral or immoral. Beyond the appetites, however, is what I call The Fifth Access. Thinking in more than the four dimensions of length, width, height and time involves a real participation or engagement with the self and reality that allows us to taste truth and falsity and rather than being afraid of truth, bonds us to it. Discerning what is true from what is false is the business of both science and philosophy. The fear of truth has no business in either discipline. Sean O'Reilly

No comments: