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KRONOS Vol II, No. 2
CONDITIONING, COPING, AND CONCEPTS
Copyright © 1975 by A. Mann Paterson
Note: This article is one of 22 essays contained in an Anthology presented to Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky on December 5, 1975, in honor of Dr. Velikovsky and the 25th anniversary of Worlds in Collision; it is our hope to publish the Anthology in its entirety - The Ed.)
The Greeks divided reality into being and becoming. Both being and becoming were physical states. States of becoming were visible; they resulted from human sensation. States of being were invisible to man and could only be known in a fragmentary way from inference. Physical things grew and developed (from out of being) into becoming, and then they corrupted and returned to being. This was an economy ruled by physical law. It was a physical dialectic that produced a harmonious kosmos.
Physical, here, included both those things or processes that were visible and those that were invisible to man. Plato's intelligible world was the world of the intellect that was the complement to the world of senses. They were distinct from each other, but they were joined by the participation of the sensual ideas from sensation with the formal ideas of the intellect. Tradition, or culture, also provided hand-me-down ideas from the intellect that participated with the ideas inaugurated in the world of sensation.
Ideas in the intelligible or intellectual world could participate with each other, Plato taught. And ideas in the sensible world could be related to each other. However, the ideas that were related to each other all within the sensible world were considered to be related on a like-to-like basis, and this was considered as casual thinking. The ideas in the world of the intellect that had entered from the sensible world participated here by awakening all or part of a dominant capacity the intellect possessed for formulation of propositions. Then formulations could be symbolized in the intellect and put into more complex relationships with other such formulas. Culture provided many hand-me-down concepts that connoted these complex formulas put together in the intellect. This was a constantly on-going procedure, and the movement of sensible into intelligible or intelligible into sensible was very rapid motion. In order to analyze the process, one could only arbitrarily start where he chose - describing his starting point as completely as possible. Then a deductive argument would be used to test the nature of any original assertion.
An assertion from the world of becoming was always the place to start for Plato, because that was the originating place for any human observer. In trying to describe his assertion, the observer would start out by gathering the like-to-the-like. This gathering was called remembering and was a casual association of ideas. When a casual generalization was reached by remembering, a procedural pause was brought in by Plato.
This casual generalization was set aside on purpose. Three methodological concepts were brought into the discussion. They were beauty, good, and true. The observer was guided through a discussion of these three terms in that order. Here, myths that carried the meaning of these concepts were used to attempt to dilate the frame of reference of the observer. The myths used to demonstrate beauty called up the observer's emotional ardors. The myths that demonstrated the good then called for only his altruistic passions. Finally, the myths that demonstrated the true then called for only his impersonal fervor to know for sure what he could know as a human capable of reasoning. The movement from the myth for the good, to the myth for the true, had begun a downward journey in deduction. The observer had crossed the logical dividing line and was now focused in the intelligible world.
At this point, with the observer having been cleansed of extraneous fervors (as they were washed away with the myths of beauty and good), only the impersonal fervor for truth remained. The observer now responds well to the guidance and suggests that he, himself, negate his casual generalization and take that negation as true. He puts it in the if-then form and rigorously re-collects any possible case that he had ignored in making his first casual generalization.
Plato reports that this is strict reasoning. It is deductive, and all deductions that logically follow from the statements taken as true must be formulated. Next, the observer must check these deductions in the sensible world. If the observer can find one single case that confirms any of these deductive predictions, and that seems to contradict his original assertion, he will understand that his original assertion was not certain.
Here, we see the employment of myth as a logical tool in order that the observer's chain of reasoning be cleared of extraneous materials. The myth is planned and used deliberately, with complete awareness that it is a myth. The extraneous material, left behind, was largely that which had lingered in the memory in an uncritical way, and had not been allowed to spoil the deduction with abortive, uncontrolled entry.Plato understood the lingering material to be in the world of becoming, although it was not visible. This lingering material could get into the intellectual side only if it was able to participate in awakening a dormant capacity in the intellect for formulation of a proposition. Plato only allowed (in his model) for the intellectual's capacity to be exercised upon formulation of beauty, the good, and the true. Under the guidance of the true, human facts were guaranteed rationality. Beauty and good were auxiliary to this accomplishment. Therefore, the lingering materials from past experience were all appropriated to the true - by way of beauty and goodness. Beauty and goodness were formulas that carried in appropriate myths in order to prepare the observer for the third stage, the true.
On the other hand, in dealing with the implementation of a deductive formula in a rational society of the uninitiated, Plato says, "Let us construct a myth". Myth was to be taught as fact, in complete awareness by those who taught it that it was a myth. It was an audio-visual aid to be used for implementation of a deductive formula (based on beauty, goodness, and truth). It was needed because of the infancy of those unable to participate in the on-going dialectical process. However, these myths were completely transparent to the mature dialecticians, who became very astute at reflexive analysis. These men understood that beauty and good served the true.
Aristotle differed from Plato on this matter. For him, myths were to be used to provide a sensual catharsis. He did not make the distinction between the intellectual world and the sensible world. He made the distinction between the terrestrial world and the celestial world. An observer experienced "direct grasp of brute fact". This experience was imprinted upon his memory, and the mold stamped there would provide the observer with an organizing of future experience into facts. The mind of the observer was blank at birth, and the character of his molds was a function of his peculiar nature. Men were usually either intellectually virtuous or merely morally virtuous.
Those men of intellectual virtue would have a contemplative capacity for "direct grasp of brute fact". Their blank minds would have molds set up in their memory from their kind of "direct grasp of brute fact". These men would recognize and experience a mode of existence far different from those merely morally virtuous men. The morally virtuous man would experience "direct grasp of brute fact", suited to his nature, that was not that of a reflective world. The myth was useful in order to help this merely moral man to have catharsis of his unfortunate passions. Therefore, myths were used that would afford the moral man a vicarious opportunity to express outrage, hostility, etc. The lingering things here are not placed as originating in the world of becoming. Here, lingering things are in the memory, and their character is determined by the kind of "direct grasp of brute fact" that each peculiar nature dictates. A man of intellectual virtue has in his memory divine lingering things. A morally virtuous man would have a range of good and bad things that would linger. He would be in perpetual conflict.
About the thirteenth century, Aristotle was chosen as the Philosopher for official Christianity. His ideas were Christianized. Therefore, the history of myths for Christian cultures has been largely Aristotelian. Myths have been presented as facts to all. And Aristotle taught that practice and repeated practice was necessary for the morally virtuous in order to balance their natures, which were essentially in conflict. Therefore, the myths were composed of fearful and terrible materials in order to afford men in conflict the proper catharsis. Even the fairy tales in Christian societies carry this theme forward with the horrors of Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, etc.
This background is important in order to understand the fundamental ideas to which people of our culture have been subjected since birth. And even those groups who have not been born into these teachings find themselves reacting to them, because of the human habit of invidious comparison of oneself with others. So all those who live in a culture where the majority of persons are conditioned by these ideas are also conditioned.
What counts here is the blunt fact that individuals who work in the natural sciences are acculturated human beings. Therefore, although some individuals are called "natural scientists", or "historians", or whatever, they operate only partially as methodologians.
Capek has pointed out that the concepts used in classical mechanics have been re-defined by quantum/relativity physics. And yet, the operators and theorists who use these concepts are seen to use them in the same old way. The original way of using them is seen to channel the logic of these reasoners. If this is so (and Capek makes a convincing case), then it can be easily understood that the infantile, ordinary, childhood understanding of many of these concepts must also still play a role in the way these concepts are really used. To carry the full implication out, one sees quickly that no matter what formal disciplinary aims we might have, the original and pristine nuances involved in these concepts direct a portion of our thinking. Our formal, disciplinary condition as scientists, historians, philosophers, etc. arrives very late.If we continue our study of this point, it becomes apparent that the physical events in the external world have been subjected to questionable interpretations by human habit for hundreds and hundreds of years.
As recently as three hundred seventy-five years ago, Giordano Bruno was burned alive for calling the universe infinite (amongst other defiances). Just before that, Edmond Peacham was tortured (and died prematurely), for writing a sermon that called for freedom from oppression. The list is too long and too tragic to pursue it here. But these considerations point up graphically that the human, in the name of lofty conceptual postures, has been conditioned to hate that which is not law "in his father's house". Or, he may, out of outrage, become fanatic in his embrace of the opposite position.
From the most critical scientific work of the thinking researcher, the facts of human psychology are pretty well understandable. Man must cope with a socio-political milieu in which each human is imbedded. Man develops ways and means totally unknown to himself in order to pursue his fullest potentials. Repression (organismically rapid) is a coping mechanism that may well be the most crucial. For man becomes what he is by virtue of what he cannot be.
Facts undoubtedly have been reified into myths and legends throughout human history. And pure myths (contrived for one reason or another) have been confused as facts. It should readily be admissible that one observer may routinely accept as fact what is actually only a myth. And it should be admissible that an observer may routinely accept as myth what is actually a fact. This kind of awareness, in itself, is a valuable insight, to be taken seriously. These are problems of an extremely rough character here. Quickly, it can be appreciated that all of us have understood some of our facts to be only myths. This insight is quite common. But which ones of our facts escape even cursory examination? These facts seem immune to critical attention. It can also be quickly appreciated that au of us have had to turn myths into facts. This is also a very common insight. What was once Buck Rogers is now NASA. But which ones of our myths escape even cursory examination? These myths are immune to our critical attention, too.
Dr. Velikovsky's theory of racial amnesia is a serious theory because it rests upon human experience. Ms theory of interplanetary collisions in historical times is a legitimate premise for natural science to examine. These premises have produced hundreds of correct predictions. Dr. Velikovsky's premises that reconstruct ancient history are also perfectly legitimate postulates.
Dr. Velikovsky's work has integrated much of the findings of the special sciences (such as the findings about "stones and bones"). His work has submitted that human scholarship done by human beings will be polluted psychologically. Perhaps the necessary connection between matters of fact is the shivering flesh, as constant conjoining may be based upon organismic conservation.
When we fully understand the role of myth in our logical accomplishments, it would seem appropriate to support Dr. Velikovsky's analytical efforts to have his theories properly tested. In cases where he has correctly predicted hundreds of scientific findings, it is no longer acceptable that the theories that helped him deduce these predictions remain "unorthodox".
Bruno had exercised full, precise logic upon the heliocentric theory of Copernicus. He refused to go along with the unanalyzed epistemological foundations upon which the theory rested. Bruno made the full deduction and rendered a cosmological model that was divested of human psychological habits.
In our own time, Einstein made a Copernican-like shift in Ms recognition of an observer. His observer was anathematized by the physical disciplines and became a space-time co-ordinate. As Bruno reformed deductive inference in the sixteenth century, Dr. Velikovsky does in our own. The observer for Dr. Velikovsky is a finite, physically-bound system. The mathematical witness of today's physical theory rests upon the existence of human individuals.
The ancient witness in Dr. Velikovsky's multi-disciplinary synthesis rests upon the existence of human individuals also. If the mathematical witness is a legitimate theoretical term, then so is the ancient witness. Both of these witnesses are suggested by human experience, but neither one of them is abstracted from it.
Whether a theory uses a mathematical witness or an ancient witness will depend upon the comprehensiveness of the theoretical perspective being used. Within the discipline of mathematical physics, a mathematical witness is a perfectly legitimate deductive term. From the multi-disciplinary, integrated perspective of Dr. Velikovsky, an ancient witness is also a perfectly legitimate deductive term.
The ancient witness used by Dr. Velikovsky, although methodologically as legitimate as the mathematical witness, brings forth passionate and uncritical rejection. Why? The role of myth in our acculturation experience has a lot to do with this reaction. The ancient witness has, by tradition, been bound into sacred books. Men, operating as scientists, have also been operating as men committed to this tradition. According to these scientists, the ancient witness cannot be deduced from the empirical data of human experience. If this was to be done, then the ancient witness would be torn out of his sacred place. Sacred events would become mundane events.
If this objection is valid, then the mathematical witness must yield to the same fate. This mathematical witness moves in the same space-time in which the sacred events occurred. He moves in the same space-time in which the sacred gods moved. Sacred space-time has become peopled with mathematoids.
In our recent past, natural science followed along Baconian lines in a schizophrenic posture. Completely acculturated analysts rendered physical theory based upon the metaphysics of prudent believers. The natural scientist finds himself today with no comprehensive theory that can unify his procedures with an integrated explanation of his natural science. As Bruno cautioned, there is no way that the last button on a vest can be buttoned properly, if the first button was not perfectly executed. Bruno wrote about the error of confusing metaphor with fact. He constantly cautioned about feelings that corrupted human knowing. Bacon carried forth this awareness. However, Bacon caused the practice of mixing myth with fact in the socio-political realm to be legitimate. He called for prudent subjugation of industrial and physical science to the myth. And yet, Bacon taught that method in the natural sciences should proceed by suspension of human Idols.
It is one thing to report that there need not be any "necessary connection" between matters of fact, and it is quite another thing to declare that our facts are independent of each other. Our conjoined impressions may very well be conjoined by shivering flesh. Deductive argument cannot be clear of accumulated experiences of human individuals as long as the explanandum must describe the phenomenon to be explained. And deductive argument cannot be clear of human experiences as long as the explanans must contain empirical contents, true sentences, and a general law that is the temporal or logical antecedent of the explanandum. All of these concepts (such as: describe, phenomena, empirical, true, etc.) are inadequate, as they are not clarified enough to demonstrate the deduction process that supposedly takes place. And yet, with these kinds of concepts and their auxiliary clutter (confirmation, significance and verification) as their bodyguards, operators in the sciences charge Dr. Velikovsky with failure to demonstrate his deductive inference. The inadequate concepts remain the warp of the natural sciences. Theories (the woof) composed from these concepts will bind these warps into the fabric of most deduction.
It is true that human experience is so many insensible accidents as far as the cosmos is concerned, as Bruno taught. But this does not mean that human cultures do not produce individuals who generate their facts from feelings that lay repressed but formative to human logic. In short, the recognition that the cosmos is independent of man does not imply that man is outside of nature. Man feels, and because of his feelings, he comes to know. Unless the emotive aspect of every single fact in human experience is recognized and analytically excised from models of physical theory, man will be organismic cause of the cosmos, rather than rational principle of it. As Bruno warned, the point is principle of the line, but it is not cause of the line. And man is not the cause of the cosmos but is capable of acting as a rational principle of it. Irrational ideologies functioning as aesthetic forms or moral forms cannot nourish human natural science if they abridge it. And men who operate as natural scientists must know this.