Trying to Explain

(An occasional paper of the Journal of (Very) Speculative Philosophy)
Adam Blatner,
Confabulologist Extraordinaire

May 31, 2011    For more fun, see Fractal Metaphysics;    or  No. 2 of this Journal      See other papers on Confabulology at the bottom of my papers webpage above. 

The Problem of Mind

The dimension of mind is not just vast, but profoundly varied—near-infinitely so. Its complexity is of a whole ‘nother order from the complexities of matter and energy in space. This complexities involve such variables as context, degrees of seriousness, relevance, interest, “awake-ness,” the balance of right and left-brain input, the vast-sub-areas of myth, poetry, illusion, dream-symbols, all the various forms a given archetype can express—many of them partaking also of other archetypes—, and then there are the multitudes of human archetypes. The archetypes of other sentient beings occasionally cross over, too, and many not-so-sentient forms. All these are modified by the level of consciousness, intelligence, temperament, and many aspects of historical and personal background of each mind-occasion.

So in a sense, as shown on the left, symbols operate within their own category of criteria and must jostle for position in each moment of subjectivity, as consciousness bubbles up from unconsciousness and through semi- and sub- and pre-consciousness. Even then there’s the problem of how to sort out what comes into consciousness because we can only recognize that which we have a matrix of associations for in order to make it meaningful. Stuff that doesn’t fit tends to be screened out, and drops back into sub- and then unconsciousness. Ripples in the pond.

So when I asked my guides to explain how it works, one of them favored my request with this diagram. After some pondering I confessed my cluelessness. Patiently he tried to explain, but most of it went way over my head. I could almost feel my brain fizzing at the edges. Happily I recognized certain patterns and s/he reassured me that even this could help to enlighten our species. It overlapped with the profound function of mandalas in consciousness evolution, their balancing of seeming diversity, and integration in the emanations of the One.

The more peripheral forms were reminders that alphabets and other symbols for “language” is but a limited mode for expressing idea, image, emotional tone, and states of expanded awareness, but I guess for now it must do. One can only advance the growth of a young child or a species in terms of what it can handle, what it can build upon itself.

Considering Reality

 There is an old fable in many religious traditions, and expressed also in a 19th century poem, about several blind men in India who encounter an elephant, and, each one feeling a different part---the tail, trunk, side, one of the legs, tusks, ear, etc.---interprets it according to his own associations---a rope, snake, wall, tree-trunk, sword, fan, etc.  It is meant to suggest that the whole may not be apparent to those who approach it and can only perceive a part.

To the degree that the blind men dispute over which version is right, they are fools; to the degree they agree to try to generate a composite picture noting the perceptions as reflecting different parts, they may be closer to wise.

I want to note also that there are part that no blind man can touch, the inner parts, the internal anatomy; and beyond that, the microscopic anatomy. And beyond that, the ecology and behavior, relations with other elephants, childhood, and so forth.

So, too, each of the symbols on the "blanket" or side of the elephant may represents yet another facet of reality. We may be foolish to think that what we can directly perceive, even with the extensions of our senses made possible by our current state of technolog, all that is operating in our world. To presume that we have exhausted all discovery woud be an act of overweening pride.

The fact that we can discern many facets should not succeed in tempting us that we know in some final sense. There yet may be many other facets that we have not yet learned to perceive or correctly interpret.