Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Habit-Forming Realities and Mind-Altering Ideologies

Koestler provides numerous examples of the eureka experience, of the joyous discovery of, or insight into, a new reality.

I wonder if it's like that for Obama, as he slowly discovers what everyone else knows -- that ISIS isn't a JV terror organization, or that Iraq isn't so stable and self-reliant, or that al Qaeda isn't on the run, or that Benghazi wasn't caused by a YouTube video, or that dealing with a tyrant isn't as easy as resetting your TV, or that there's more than a smidgeon of corruption in the IRS?

Note that, as with Obama's problems, scientific discoveries are by definition "always there"; they aren't acts of creation but of apprehension. It's not as if E didn't equal MC squared before Einstein noticed that it did. And yet, failure to notice the connection isn't a priori evidence of carelessness or sloppy thinking.

Rather, it required an act of genuine creativity, or in other words, playing around with different frames of reference in order to escape habitual thinking.

In the scientific moment of discovery, "two previously separate matrices" are "fused into one," in Einstein's case, the matrices of mass and energy. Who in their right mind could imagine that mass and energy are forms of the same "thing" -- whatever that thing is?

Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but it turns out that that pervasive Thinging is much closer to Aristotle's "prime matter" than believed by his modern intellectual superiors who rejected the medieval synthesis without ever truly understanding it, just as a liberal rejects a conservatism that exists only in his own head -- not for the purpose of gaining insight into the world, but for the purpose of elevating himself in his own eyes.

It is simply impossible to understand liberalism without first understanding the sociobiological matrix of chimps and their hierarchy.

Note also that that which is seen is difficult to unsee -- i.e., once fused, it is difficult to de-fuse ideas. For example, only a handful of human beings have ever actually seen that, yes, the world is round. The rest of us take it on various degrees of faith, and yet, we all have the picture in our head, the evidence of our senses to the contrary notwithstanding.

That image is relatively harmless, but what about images of more complex realities, such as cosmogony, biogenesis, evolution, etc.? Supposing you have an image of the "big bang"; if so, you can be certain that it is wildly wrong. Likewise some sort of picture of horizontal evolution, as in those posters with a series of images leading to man.

Such pictures are more or less pure fantasy, but man is in need of an image of reality, no matter how distorted. My nine year-old already knows that the image of Adam and Eve is more strictly accurate than the high school poster, if the latter is taken literally. One image is packed with truth about humans, the other merely with human truth.

Koestler writes of the "visual pun," whereby a single form unites two different functions. For example, Einstein's most famous insight occurred when he imagined himself riding a light beam. But this is really just an extension of man's very first visual pun, which was whatnow?

No one knows, but I imagine we can reimagineer the conditions by observing how a Stone Age infant gradually discovers -- and synthesizes -- human reality. Of course, we can't "observe" what is going on in their minds, but we can appreciate how they are constantly making connections, i.e., new fusions of previously separated experiences.

Science itself is nothing but the formalization of what humans do, which is the serial reduction of multiplicity to unity. And it can only take place because Unity is prior to multiplicity, therefore God. God is always Godding. We just surf the waves toward the divine shore.

That sounds like a joke, but if reality is a process of becoming, then each moment represents the minting of a new synthesis, which is Whitehead's central point.

The problem is, a reality is not only habit forming, but can become addictive. Obama seems to have a particularly addictive personality, because he simply cannot free himself of the mind-altering ideologies he imbibed in his youth. Just about everyone experiments with that shit in college, but most of us move on to the responsible use of ideas, while others fall into the downward spiral of tenure or politics.

But in any event, "discovery often means," writes Koestler, "the uncovering of something which has always been there but was hidden from the eye by the blinkers of habit." Americans are eager to find out tomorrow what Obama has discovered under his nose. Or if he's really kicked the habit of ideology, which seems doubtful, short of an extended in-patient deprogramming followed by lifetime involvement in AA (Apparatchiks Anonymous).

When life presents us with a problem it will be attacked in accordance with the code of rules which enabled us to deal with similar problems in the past.... [R]esponses will become stereotyped, flexible skills will degenerate into rigid patterns, and the person will more and more resemble an automaton, governed by fixed habits, whose actions and ideas move in narrow grooves. -- --Arthur Koestler

30 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

I wonder if it's like that for Obama, as he slowly discovers what everyone else knows

Oh I dunno - that's making a couple of big assumptions - first that he's open to that reality, as opposed to just pretending it isn't happening. Heading off to play golf seems like a pretty good way of leaving the field of reality in favor of the much greener and more pleasant links. And second, that he is at all bothered by much of that. Perhaps the foreign stuff. But extensive governmental corruption seems to suit him just fine; in fact, he probably counts on it, and would only be shocked if the IRS had been full of straight shooters who found the idea of using their power to punish their enemies to be repugnant.

9/09/2014 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

At Lucianne there's a link to an article on Obama's strange personality, with the comment "Everyday there are at least half a dozen examinations
of O's character. All five years too late." He's very hard to understand in human terms, for which reason it is almost necessary to bring in the demonic matrix.

9/09/2014 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes. There is so much that is so deeply wrong about him, it's hard to remember if those of us who saw through him from the start were pessimistic enough in our expectations.


Note also that that which is seen is difficult to unsee -- i.e., once fused, it is difficult to de-fuse ideas.

This is why it's so problematic when kids are exposed to certain realities of adult life before they are ready to understand them. Particularly sexuality. I was just having a conversation last night with a relative about whether people are ever "born" pedophiles, or if it's the result of abuse. Talking purely from personal experience, I have to believe that nobody is born that way, but that some subset of people who are sexualized at an early age become fused to the idea of children as sex objects. And once fused, it seems impossible to de-fuse them.

9/09/2014 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

But extensive governmental corruption seems to suit him just fine

Chicago.

I have a lot of friends and co-workers around Springfield, IL, and I've spent a lot of time working there. It is no surprise that former IL governors have their own wing in the prison. A consortium that we're involved with just had their contract terminated by the state. The most likely reason is that there wasn't enough corruption and kickbacks going on to suit the political class.

9/09/2014 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I look at my son innocently snuggling in bed watching a video with his best friend, and imagine the horror of a world that sexualizes this, or suggests that he may be homosexual, or that he should "explore" such feelings, or that it makes no difference if he marries a boy or girl. If that doesn't make you want to vomit, there is something deeply wrong with you.

9/09/2014 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Such pictures are more or less pure fantasy, but man is in need of an image of reality, no matter how distorted.

Better living through poetry.

9/09/2014 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

WRT that final quote, I feel like this is the ground I am constantly trying to keep my mind from settling back down to, the unthinking baseline I am trying to escape. On the other hand, I feel like it is a sort of height to which I would like to raise my body by way of training, exercise, and habit. It is interesting (although expected, I suppose) to think that my mind's nadir is a sort of apogee for my body.

9/09/2014 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

@ Bob - Yes. My little guy runs around telling everyone he knows that he loves them. I hate that as he gets older, he will reach a point where the innocent love and affection he feels for his friends will be twisted into something perverse if he expresses it.

9/09/2014 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

If that doesn't make you want to vomit, there is something deeply wrong with you.

Amen.

It's not that I don't understand that the homosexual "can't help it". Obviously, no man in his right mind would rather have a man than a woman.

I can feel pity for him. I can't tell him it's normal.

9/09/2014 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

I've been a political junkie since voting for Reagan in 1980, after having voted for Carter in 1976. Somewhere in the Carter presidency I had my conservative epiphany and have remained a grown-up ever since. There were other "dark days" in national politics but nothing compared to the Obama presidency. I was optimistic that most of the electorate - those not ideologically committed and those not on the dole - would correct the error of the 2008 election. I was confident that enough of my fellow citizens would see Obama for what he was and the 2012 election would usher in a new administration and a renewed optimism for our country.

After Obama was re-elected, I have spent the intervening days in a self induced apathetic fog. I stopped watching the news and reading political commentary. I knew sticking my head in the sand was the wrong thing to do but I felt defeated and helpless to do anything about it. I'm naturally optimistic and have much to be thankful for and I didn't want to be dragged down by the political reality.

Now we have mid-term elections right around the corner with the possibility of the GOP taking control of the Senate and the House remaining in GOP control. I'm not so naive to think that means more than it does - that Obama's lame duck session may be less destructive than it otherwise would be if Harry Reid retains the gavel. But even if that should happen, the Dems playbook is prepared and we will get inundated with claims of "GOP obstructionism" which will grease the already slippery tracks leading to Hillary's coronation in 2016.

It's difficult to be an optimist and conservative these days. Thank God there is humor and places which fuse humor and reality, especially places like here at OneCosmos.

9/09/2014 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Coincidentally, I caught some of Behind the Candelabra on TV last night -- the movie about Liberace. Perhaps unwittingly, it depicts some of the horror of the homosexual lifestyle. It was simultaneously fascinating and repulsive.

9/09/2014 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"...just as a liberal rejects a conservatism that exists only in his own head -- not for the purpose of gaining insight into the world, but for the purpose of elevating himself in his own eyes."

[slips into Don Adams "Get Smart!" voice] Ah yes, the ol' straw-man reboot to lift yourself up by your own boot straps trick.

Works every time, and you don't even need a mirror to admire yourself in it.

9/09/2014 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The purpose of a leftist indoctrination is "not to make them scholars but to provide them with a moral virtue." Or to be monkeys higher up the pole.

9/09/2014 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

aka: Pragmatism. The mudder and enabler of all 'isms.

9/09/2014 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

From Bruce Thornton, Victor Davis Hanson's fellow classicist, ‘To Hell With the Constitution!’

"...In terms of the federal government, the key to this new vision is the executive branch, led by an activist president. Woodrow Wilson was quite explicit about these ideas. In 1890 he wrote of the need for a “leader of men” who has “such sympathetic and penetrative insight as shall enable him to discern quite unerringly the motives which move other men in the mass.” He knows “what it is that lies waiting to be stirred in the minds and purposes of groups and masses of men.” This sympathy is one “whose power is to command, to command by knowing its instrument,” and the leader possessing this “sympathy” cares only “for the external uses to which they [people] may be put.”

More frightening still are Wilson’s comments further expanding on this “sympathy.” “Whoever would effect a change in a modern constitutional government must first educate his fellow-citizens to want some change. That done, he must persuade them to want the particular change he wants. He must first make public opinion willing to listen and then see to it that it listens to the right things. He must stir it up to search for an opinion, and then manage to put the right opinion in its way.” Gone are the notions that free people decide their own political fate and choose representatives to serve their interests and principles, their autonomy protected by the Constitutional structure of checks and balances. Now an empowered elite presumably wiser about human nature will, like Plato’s Guardians, manipulate the people’s opinions so that they make the “right” choice. These ideas are on a continuum that at the extreme end lie Mussolini’s fascism and Lenin’s communism...."


Nothing better than industrial school systems to input those newly manufactured realities 'right opinion' right into a few generations of lil' noggins. Nothing better that is, excepting a 21st century informational school.

Can't beat that.

But you can sure test it. Until there's no more need to beat it in any further.

Clickulus response.

9/09/2014 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

ER said: It's difficult to be an optimist and conservative these days.

I've seen a couple of references to the MarketWatch piece making fun of bears and saying the this market will never break. I'm not optimistic like that -- which probably requires you to live in Colorado, be drunk, or off your meds.

I am beyond optimistic -- in fact, I am totally confident that Wisdom is about to be vindicated by all her children.

It may not be much fun for a while, though.

9/09/2014 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Reality has a way of having the last word.

9/09/2014 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger James Sheives said...

The image most liberals seem to have of God is the same as a 4 year old, a bearded guy on a throne floating in the clouds.

9/09/2014 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Roy Lofquist said...

A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

Max Planck

9/10/2014 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

scientific truth that can't convince ... hmmm ... are you suggesting that the current generation are close minded or the new generation duped/indoctrinated?

9/10/2014 02:04:00 AM  
Blogger Roy Lofquist said...

EbonyRaptor,

I am not suggesting anything. Those are the words of Max Planck, the originator of quantum theory and considered to rank, along with Albert Einstein, as one of the greatest physicists of all time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Planck

A casual perusal of the history of science illuminates this truth. It has always been so.

Speaking of science, this one minute video by Richard Feynman (ranked along side Planck and Einstein) explains all of science:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL6-x0modwY#aid=P20kDjskZwA

Regards,
Roy

9/10/2014 02:48:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Note also that that which is seen is difficult to unsee -- i.e., once fused, it is difficult to de-fuse ideas. For example, only a handful of human beings have ever actually seen that, yes, the world is round. The rest of us take it on various degrees of faith, and yet, we all have the picture in our head, the evidence of our senses to the contrary notwithstanding."

The leftist form of fusion is foolsion. They are addicted to it like a meth addict to meth.

9/10/2014 03:58:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

A friend of mine who is of stable, towering faith and virtue, is very worried about people who adhere to the so-called prosperity gospel. I assure him that reality has a way of disabusing 99% of them of that notion.

So he now he worries that they will become bitter. I wish he had more faith in God's ability to draw those who seek Him, even through the dubious light of selfish desires.

9/10/2014 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I am totally confident that Wisdom is about to be vindicated by all her children.

It may not be much fun for a while, though.


Totes tweetable, 'shroom. So I did.
:)

9/10/2014 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

RoyL, I know who Max Planck is and understood you were citing his quote, what I don't understand, although I have a hunch, is what was your purpose in posting it here?

9/10/2014 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Roy Lofquist said...

@EbonyRaptor

From the article:

'But in any event, "discovery often means," writes Koestler, "the uncovering of something which has always been there but was hidden from the eye by the blinkers of habit."'

"When life presents us with a problem it will be attacked in accordance with the code of rules which enabled us to deal with similar problems in the past.... [R]esponses will become stereotyped, flexible skills will degenerate into rigid patterns, and the person will more and more resemble an automaton, governed by fixed habits, whose actions and ideas move in narrow grooves. -- --Arthur Koestler"

My purpose was to point out that Koestler's observations apply to all areas of human thought, even those areas where some claim exceptional or received insight.

Regards,
Roy

9/10/2014 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Mushroom said "I am totally confident that Wisdom is about to be vindicated by all her children.

It may not be much fun for a while, though."

Beg Yep on that.

Joan "Totes tweetable, 'shroom. So I did."

I'll add another :-) to that!

9/10/2014 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

roy lofquist said ""...My purpose was to point out that Koestler's observations apply to all areas of human thought, eve..."

You haven't really been around One Cosmos long, have ya?

9/10/2014 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Roy Lofquist said...

@Van Harvey

Actually, I have an early, signed copy of One Cosmos. I have also read through Meditations on the Tarot more than once - thanks for the recommendation, Bob. I have visited this blog regularly over the years.

I am by nature a contrarian, an iconoclast. When I comment on a post I frequently make cryptic allusions in an attempt to provoke discussions. They are usually ignored. Sometimes the conversations are quite satisfying. Other times they invoke the wrath of the peanut gallery.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQEqLUtp9Bg

Regards,
Roy

9/10/2014 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

roy lofquist said "They are usually ignored."

Thanks for the tip.

Still, why you'd try to "attempt to provoke discussions" with something so vague and uncontroversial that could only provoke what it did - "...huh..?... and the point was...?".

But then again, I suppose see tip above.

9/10/2014 03:27:00 PM  

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