Most of what passes as knowledge in people who are reasonable is provisional. Even the most indisputable facts can be disputed on some grounds.
The average person is inclined to accept as true that which is consistent with his beliefs rather than waiting to determine whether the matter is rue or not before ha commits to believe it.
To say a belief is objective is not to say it is true. Only that it is shared by others in a group or community. To say a belief is subjective is not to say it is false, only that it is idiosyncratic and not shared by others. The more idiosyncratic the belief, the more fantastical or incomprehensible the content, the more the belief approaches a delusion – or creative discovery. The more widespread the belief, the greater the consensus, the more belief approaches fact or dogma.
The pursuit of truth must proceed with a suspension of belief and a profession of lack of knowledge. Perhaps this is easier to do in science, which deals with relatively impersonal facts, but not of course when those facts (values) are bound up with the vanity and ambition of the scientist, or when they threaten to undermine another belief system, e.g. evolution and divine creation. A spirit of doubt, uncertainty, openness, even mystery, is essential for discovery.
… it is quite hopeless to change the moral character of someone – much less an army, country, mob – bent on a malevolent undertaking. The greater the disparity in beliefs or values, the less hope of moral conversion. The psychological transformation that is required for such a conversion is not unlike a realignment of faith or a shift in a scientific paradigm.
Perhaps reason does not always prevail in the decisions of a life because a life lived according to reason, or its correlate in strict moral rules, may not be a life worth living. The path laid out by logic, … , may not be the most scenic or interesting. The highway of truth may be a less exciting voyage than the byway of fortune.
Many of the most perceptive of moralists and the most poetical of the philosophers have asked whether the human spirit seeking self-realisation is not tethered to choking by layers of obligation, manners, responsibilities, the oughts of decency and consideration. The fear id that the social and self censure of moral acts will de-nature the spontaneity of non-moral action, e.g. that a habit of self-denial may smother the creative spirit. The artist is particularly sensitive to this concern, for his conduct embraces work and life in a way that is foreign to the average person. The artist more than most must steer a path between the imaginative and the real, self-expression and constraint, the wishful delights, the shackles of convention, and the more unusual and brazen the personality, the more difficult the adjustment.
The ancient idea of a man as an animal tamed by imperial reason is a false description of the human psyche. We have learned from behavioural anthropology and the bloody history of the past century that the most primitive of communities is no less moral than the most advanced culture. Reason can justify good or bad intentions, while magical or syncretic thinking can promote peace and co-operation as much as barbarism. There is no evidence that ancestral societies, given the harsh conditions, are less moral than contemporary ones.
A thoughtful assessment of the architecture of the mind leads to the conclusion that the qualitative shift from unconscious to conscious thought is not a relation of the animal to the rational, but a successive analysis of a non-temporal core into temporal objects. When we descend into the dark night of the soul, we do not find brutal, immoral and murderous impulses, rather a different mode of thinking: paralogic, animism, symbolism, metaphor.
The implementation of an action by character in relation to available choices, and the growth or decline of character in the options that are chosen, are the inheritance of each new instance of self in the recurrence of a living moment. The ancestry of every act is successively realised in each momentary existence. What counts is Now. Past acts do not exist except as a ground for the occurrent state. Yet we do think of a life as a collection of acts, responses, initiatives, that must be taken as a whole.
The microphysics of birth and death that frame a life, a day, a moment, a particle, have their analogy in the resignation and renewal that punctuates the reflective life. Self- realisation is not an accomplishment but a process that must be reasserted and renewed.
Life is the one great idea an individual has that pours itself out onto the pages of daily living, except that the jackets to the book are the fatal limits to its continuation, save for the debt to writers past or readers future – our personal or literary ancestors and descendants – who are illusory bridges to the bound and unbound volumes of innumerable other life stories.
Creativity is volition in service of novelty in which the agent is given over to the involuntary act.
The agent accedes control to the volition that runs through him, not as a voluntary impulse where he is acting as a conscious doer, but as a felt creation of which he is a product.
The ability to assume an attitude of passivity or receptiveness is the essential character of the creative personality. The air of authority or assurance that one sees now and then in creative people is merely an attempt to achieve mastery of the conditions of life so the individual can surrender to the creative impulse. This, incidently, is an important piece of any theory of responsibility. The feeling that an action is one’s own, that it belongs to the self, or emanates from the self, is the basis for responsibility. However, this may occur in the absence of a feeling of agency.
The traction of the past weighs heavily on the freshness of the moment. One wants to shed the familiar garments for the naked sonorities of innocence and awe, feel the power sleeping in the subtle ferocity of words, listen to ancient wisdom, silent, at the throne of magic, possibility.
The conscious mind does not invoke, it edits what unconscious mind has written, which is I believe the direction of thought itself, from obscurity to light.
Authenticity is not found in the assessment of acts “from outside” as a judgement, or in a feeling that action is fluid or that conflict is absent, even if the goal of self-realisation is to be whole in every act. The transition to the concrete is not merely for comfort in acting. The unbroken is sensed by an intuition that is given whole as an immediacy that does not lead to something beyond itself.
Conscience refers to the effort at authenticity in a given act, but the feeling of having lived with authenticity is an intuition that pertains to a lifespan coherence of conduct with character. Self-realisation applies to personality in art, to character in ethics. Character is personality with ego- and exo-centric values at stake.
Knowledge partitions the self into beliefs, values and desires. Each is defined by the distribution of personal and impersonal conceptual feelings.
Experience is shaped in a way that is irreducibly subjective. Intuition is a way of knowing the rightness of action in relation to that experience. Ultimately, intuition and authenticity concern the view from inside, i.e. what a thing or person is.
The standard for intuitive truth is not the correspondence of scientific relations but the coherence or rightness of intrinsic relations.
The greater the depth of intuition, the closer to character or personality, the more resistant to verification. If adequately realised, the contextual relations recur and enclose a succession of nested particulars.
Coherence simply requires a correlation of self-nature with conduct,not good or bad acts. A malicious person may act in a malicious way or perform a good act, but he is no more or less authentic for the choice than a good person who acts well or badly.
Sel-realisation is the completion of existence of all entities, not the satisfaction of a momentary self.
Thus the stability of the self-concept does not owe to an unchanging core that is accessible to conscious thought. It is not a matter of a self that satisfies its desires, but realises the full actuality of the person.
Life is enacted in struggle. In the ordinary life, one adapts as best he can. The life of the genius is the fulfilment of the potential of self through works of art or science in spite of the claims of others. But for the great soul the other is “represented” in the self, and self-realisation is equally a realisation of the other’s needs.
The entity specifies a field in opposition. It defines by way of contrast what it is not by becoming what it is. … The concept of the self as having a subjective and an objective nature entails a contrast or opposition in every act of cognition or self-realisation. However, in the second sense of contrast, every particular that individuates is felt to be opposed not only to what it might have been or to a field of antecedent potential, but to another particular with which it is coordinate or coextensive. … In sum, every object in a perceptual field is a contrast with every other object, especially those adjacent objects (or colours) that form its demarcations. And, every object in the field is opposed to the antecedent ground out of which it individuates.
Though we find duality in every aspect of mind, the dual as an explanatory principle is not itself explained. The contrast of thought and language, or mind and world, is an artificial duality. They are interdependent phases in succession, not co-ordinate oppositions.
Even if truth and falsehood can be construed in a binary manner within a system or language of logic, most things in the world merge into other things, yet we still focus on the extremes, not the transitions. This is a result of the substantialist bias in thought. … The relative deafness or blindness to continua and the predilection for pairs in opposition occurs because the mind is more comfortable with polarities or contrasts than with transitions. The category stabilises the object over a range of transitions, while the transitions themselves are invisible to thought.
One can say, the whole gives way to the parts, which then serve as irreducible wholes for further analysis. No matter how deeply the spectrum is analysed, the termini are categories for analysis and instances in a (prior) category out of which they individuate.
In all forms of perception, we are aware of the objects (categories) the mind produces, not the temporal process (change) through which they arise, nor of the transition form one momentary object or state of the world to the next.
Unity is a dynamic harmony, not a spatial homogeneity. In oneness there is no division, no specification. Once a line is drawn, unity may persist but oneness is broken. A commitment is a loss of possibility. Every act embodies its negation. Something is emptied by the enactment, and defined by the non-act on the far side of its boundaries. … There is no oneness in consciousness, for its essence is the relation of self to image or object, but there is a unity that begins with the duality of parts and wholes, of relata and plenitudes. Oneness is the sought after, the profound but never uncovered primordium from which unity and diversity emerge. This primordial oneness is glimpsed in the recognition of multiplicity or many-in-oneness that leads to an inference of origins in the intuition of an unmarked whole. Self-realisation is the experience of becoming into being as every entity, to exist, strives to become what it is.