In This Age of Quantum Physics, LSD, Holographic Paradigms, and Consciousness Research, Scientific Arrogance Must Cease: Transpersonal Perspective, Part Two23/07/2013 02:52
The World of “Matter” Is But the Appearance of Mind to Itself: The Footprints on the Shores of the Unknown Are Our Own
Rationalism As Egoistic Self-Abuse
Similarly, we have an argument against Idealism—more specifically the version of it called panpsychism, which is, by the way, the position being asserted here—by Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Investigations. His conclusion is that the position of panpsychism is unintelligible. Stating “Could one imagine a stone’s having consciousness?” he concludes that if one could it would only amount to “image-mongery” (Sec. 390, p. 119e). The implication is that since we cannot do something adequately—that we cannot understand something completely—there is something wrong with it!
This kind of reasoning qualifies for the “All-Time Boners in Philosophy Award.” For the argument—while claiming not to be saying anything about the truth or falsity of a position, nor about its provenness or unprovenness—would want us to evaluate positions, and even possibly dismiss them as viable (i.e., as possibly true), based upon whether we (as a species) are capable of understanding them with our intelligence.
Whereas, not only does this limit our knowledge endeavor—removing it from any possibility of speaking of truth unless it somehow (miraculously, I suppose, or through some sort of chosen-by-God kind of privilege) happens to coincide with what is intelligible to us; not only does it eliminate the scientific and philosophical enterprises in their attempts at venturing, ever on, after what may actually be true (or at least “truer” than we had previously held); but it presupposes that what is unimaginable at one time, or to one person, will be unimaginable, or unintelligible, to all others in all other times.
This is one particular instance where Rationalism displays its egoistic self-abuse . . . hence its inherent fallacy. For we know by looking at the record that what is unimaginable at one time, or to one person, ends up being imaginable to another. For example, do we suppose that an early “animistic” hunter-gatherer could imagine a physical universe as we picture it today—with black holes, a heliocentric solar system, a Big Bang, quarks, and quasars?
Do we say that because this primal person could not imagine these that we must dismiss them as possible truths (i.e., as possible good models of our reality). Or must we say that our conceptualizations of these things amount to “image-mongery” and thereby dismiss them on those grounds.
This last point leads beyond it in compelling us to realize that all forms of what we call “intelligible” venturing after truth are already a matter of “image-mongery.” That is to say that all our attempts equate with imagining models of what is; none of which can be said to actually constitute the thing described inasmuch as the map cannot constitute the territory.
Hence we are led, again, to a realization of the inevitably anthropocentric nature of such arguments as Wittgenstein’s attack on panpsychism—and the equivalent degree of arrogance that corresponds with them. For the argument reduces itself to “if we can’t imagine something, it doesn’t exist!”
Leaving behind such a fatuous and uninspired rationale, let us return to the position of Idealism anew.
Scientific Arrogance Must Cease
For—even admitting these claims of the unimaginability or incredibility of an Idealistic or panpsychic position—that was then, and this is now. It may have been unimaginable in Wittgenstein’s time or incredible from Joad’s perspective to consider a non-materialistic view of Reality. However, in an age that has witnessed LSD; a revival of shamanism; the emergence of virtual reality; the concepts of quantum physics, holographic paradigms, morphic resonances, cellular consciousness, and holotropic minds; and consciousness research in almost every branch of the natural and social sciences at this point . . . in such a day it might be ripe to reconsider some of what has been prematurely, and I might say arrogantly, set aside.
I say “arrogantly” based upon what I’ve said elsewhere about the anthropocentric bias of scientists. For with an understanding of biologically constituted realities of species we gain an appreciation of the fundamentally limited and species-relative nature of our views of Reality.
Hopefully, we can set aside, to at least a little degree, some of the anthropocentric egotism which obscures any truly reasonable attempt at constructing fruitful reality models. That being so, we need to admit of the possibility … not of the “intelligible-to-Wittgenstein possibility,” but of the real possibility … of the prior fundamental reality of psyche over matter, of the observer over the observed.