I AM is Somebody
Er, yes. Actually, I had never heard of this fallacy prior to reading this book, but it's a big one that infects bad philosophies at the very foundation. And exactly what is it? It involves "an unknown thing supposedly being made known by means of some other unknown thing" -- like two negatives adding up to a positive. (The most extreme case must be the postmodernist who claims that "nothing can be known and I know it!)
As we have discussed in the past, science proceeds from the known to the unknown, i.e., (k) --> O, whereas religious practice proceeds from the unknown to the known, or O --> (n); or, on a slightly more concrete plane, you could say that science proceeds from facts to principles, whereas religion proceeds from principles to facts.
According to Bolton, "Genuine explanations relate the unknown factor to one which is already understood, while the more superficial ones relate it to something familiar, though not well understood."
To rip an example from the headlines, look at the intrinsic fallacies involved in the tautological science of "climate change" (climate stasis -- now there would be a novel theory!). The warmystics take something with which they are familiar -- their computer models -- and substitute it for something they want to understand -- the "global climate." But as Bolton says, "unfortunately, familiarity can be confused with understanding, and in such cases, things can appear to be understood when they are not." For example, I am familiar with electricity. But I would only be pretending if I said I understood it.
If I may take the liberty of translighting Bolton into plain english, the nondualists try to explain reality, which they do not understand, with reference to consciousness, which they also do not understand. Voila! Perfect understanding.
B-b-b-but hold on a sec. The fallacy here is that nondualism "aims at a state of awareness, which is taken to be an ideal despite the fact that a non-self-aware consciousness is in any case the normal condition of nearly all forms of animal life." Indeed, this is the case for the great majority of human beings, most especially the further we travel into the past or the left, when people were "aware of themselves more as members of races or tribes than as individuals."
In fact, in a patented, non-greasy formula I have applied at length, "developmental time = cultural space," so that different nations, cultures, and subcultures reflect differing levels of psychospiritual development. As Bolton puts it, "Insofar as we can understand past cultures, it appears that large numbers of ordinary people in the last few millennia had little awareness of their own egos, not through any spiritual practice, but simply through ignorance. And yet, despite such facts, monists and non-dualists look to this twilight zone of consciousness as though it were the embodiment of some fine ideal" (emphasis mine).
As a psychologist who often deals with these types of human beings, I can assure you that they're out there -- people who have not yet reached the stage at which their self can be an object to itself. I don't like to say this, only because willfully malevolent assouls take it the wrong way, but these people occupy a shadowy zone somewhere between animal and human. Either that, or some people are "supermen," like a new species that has emerged from the soil of the humanimal hybrid. (To be clear, I don't agree with either characterization.)
Bolton touches on a subject that is central to my thinking, and arises out of my understanding of developmental psychoanalysis. Specifically, there is no doubt in my mind that human consciousness unfolds along a developmental coontinuum, and that it has a telos, or purpose, just as in the case of any other organ; it is just that this organ -- consciousness -- happens to be nonlocal and hyperdimensional instead of local, material, and fixed in four dimensions.
Non-dualists (and one could easily add multiculturalists, moral relativists, and romantic anthropologists), according to Bolton, "ignore the fact that self-aware consciousness is the highest kind of consciousness in this world, and regard it as a burden instead, and envy what they take to be the unreflecting peace of the backward parts of mankind among whom tribalism rules."
Well, first of all, it is a burden. Duh! It's not a struggle to be as stupid as Harry Reid or Barbara Boxer, who "travel light," if you catch my drift. I am reminded of when William F. Buckley was asked why he always remained seated during his television program -- something to the effect of, Because of the great weight of what I know. Who wouldn't want to cast this burdensome knowledge aside and go native once in awhile? But that's what beer is for. As Toots Mondello taught us, you can't spell "beer" without BE. Which is why he was always 'AMmered.
This is something I simply cannot accept: that the human subject, with all its marvelous abilities, is just a "a spiritual dead-end," as Bolton puts it, or a nul de slack as Petey does. Is it really that simple? That the modern self that is painstakingly won from the formless and infinite void should just be tossed back there like a little fish?
This is like saying that the human organism, in all its infinite complexity, is really of no more ultimate value than a simple rock star. Does the arrow of spiritual development really point down and back, to a "place" where humans never existed?
Not for me, and not for Bolton, who asks, "What if these higher orders of self-awareness could become as concretely real as the one we already possess? In that case, the path of spiritual advance would move into ever-greater complexity, not into reduction. The fact that man has a self-aware consciousness, even if only one degree of it, confirms the belief that he belongs to the order of spirits."
One important caveat, however. In my belief and experience, "complex" is not synonymous with "complicated." To the contrary, the more spiritually advanced the person, the more simple and transparent -- not to mention humble -- they become. Why? Because they have successfully incorporated and assimilated more consciousness into a higher dynamic unity, with fewer split-off and semi-autonomous parts at cross-purposes with oneself. In contrast, complicated and convoluted people -- the beasts of high maintenance -- are almost always "unspiritual," because they lack the wholeness -- both in time and space -- to truly embody the spiritual. So,
If your I be single, your whole body will be full of light.