Thursday, 14 April 2016

Missing the Mark

And there is, finally, the merely negative but still real difficulty of conceiving personality even remotely like our own, not in association with a material brain.”(quote from Religion without Revelation by Huxley pub.1927)

It is observable that this last “difficulty” is never discussed in the book at all. Once again our author fights shy of metaphysics. Or possibly he reflected that he was writing for ordinary people, and that for the ordinary person it is much more of a difficulty to understand how personality functions in association with a material brain than to understand how it could function without one. The fact that mind and brain are interconnected is a fact given in experience; but how they are interconnected is not merely difficult to understand; it is simply, to our human powers, unintelligible.

(from Broadcast Minds by Ronald Knox pub.1932)

Quite! This is the aporia that generates a certain species of metaphysics and which draws inspiration from uncanny states of mind. There are two distinct speculations as to how brain/body and mind are integrated. One is the breathing in of the spirit or an infusion by God into matter to create a living soul and the other is that consciousness is one with matter. Consciousness is reflected according to the complexity of the matter that it pervades. This latter view has been called pantheism by some and non-dualism by others. This matters little to yogis or shamans who have or seem to themselves to have gone past the personal into the primal state of impersonal consciousness.

Prophets and sages working within their traditions have a common principle - we know god when we stop not knowing him/it/her. We actively miss the mark and worse still paint a bull’s eye round where our arrow lands.

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