I really like what you are saying. I wonder, though, what would happen to human personality if this model of thinking was the norm. We are mostly tribal in our actions. We gravitate too easily toward charismatics, and like lemmings will follow a bad idea to the ends of the earth because someone sounds good. I tend to listen hardest to quiet voices, but it seems that the rest of the world follows the loudest drum beating.
I have been listening to people talk about “cloud computing”. If those ideas could only work in dialogue. Will we ever be cognitive enough to amass the great and diverse knowledge of all mankind in a giant conversation, able to look at the work to be done as a joy, celebrate our place in the natural world by enhancing and repairing and creating. Would this ”group think” mend our broken spirits or turn us into a hive of worker bees lacking in originality and drowning in conformity?
I began a reply, but it grew into something that might better be a post on its own:
You bring up some good points. There are also assumptions behind your questions that it would be illuminating to look at.
In your first question there is the assumption that we have no choice but to look to others and “weigh” opinions so we can arrive at judgments. We are swayed by factors beyond the quality of the “reasoning” presented and can be led astray.
What if we look at other ways of finding truth?
I find I do my best thinking when I’m not “thinking” at all! I certainly no longer believe that any thoughts are “my thoughts.” There is a field of thought that comes to us in various forms and various ways. What if the kind of thought that is transmitted in the way you assume – and we mostly all assume, as this is our common expectation: that thought arises in someone’s head out of an effort to cogitate and is passed on by being written or spoken so that we can weigh its merits by analysis and then take bits and attach them to “our” own thoughts and so on… What if this was mistaken?
My experiences of thought have modified these expectations. It appears much more likely that there are various currents and modes of transmission of thought. The one behind that assumption appears to be fraught with confusions and misperceptions. It appears to me that there are better and truer ways of dealing with the way thought propagates or is transmitted.
Bohm quite literally stated that the brain may actually be a transmitter/receiver of thought. Not a generator of thoughts. If we look at it this way, then we find ourselves immersed in a spectrum of transmissions and with a variety of modes available to us. The one that has increasingly been most useful to me has been to train my attention to receive and transmit without putting too much “me” in the way in the middle. I don’t “think about” what I’m going to write. I write. I don’t think about what my opinion is on a certain subject, I listen to what my organism finds to be life-affirming and what it fears is a form of violence or coercion; and I follow these leads with as little interruption by “me” as I can muster. – We can see how language makes this difficult to talk about. We need to use I and me in non-literal ways to avoid falling into the traps of objectification and thought’s tendencies to fragment things.
As Krishnamurti said, “These are not questions of opinion!” We can begin to see what he meant when we are aware of the weight of sincerity within a perception of something true has that has nothing to do with how firmly we hold an opinion. This does not lead to the kind of certainty we see with fanaticism either. If anything, these truths show us that we can never rest on a past moment of insight, but need to continually launch ourselves into whatever insights are available for us to perceive now.
Within this sort of process, we cannot be taken as cogs in any wheel intended to use us as a means for some other to achieve their narrow ends. Our organism rebels against this instinctively. It’s just that we have conditioned ourselves not to listen.
Your second question touches on an even more fundamental assumption: The belief that thought can encompass all, if carried out diligently and persistently enough.
Bohm explained how this cannot be, very clearly, as did Krishnamurti. What ever is thought, no matter how many add to it, no matter how much is added to it; it will always remain limited. This is a simple matter of the arithmetic of the infinite. If the universe, or creation, or everything; is infinite; then it is obvious that any set of generated quanta of data can never equal infinity. Another way this is true is that the fundamental – as we now see them within the limits of thought and language – workings of the universe take place in a quantum soup of potentiality and uncertainty. We can “know” state or position, not both. Every measurement, every additional quanta of “knowing,” disturbs what is there in its potentiality and locks out an aspect of reality from what we can know.
If this is true, then unless we can break ourselves of the assumption that while knowing and thought have never taken us beyond a cascading of confusions and unintended consequences; that if only we persist at it, we will find a way out. Unless we break ourselves of this, we cannot help but lock ourselves into limitation.
Perhaps there is no way out of our limits? This is a valid question, but we have over-limited ourselves if we assume that this failed method of transcending limitations is our only possible approach to the question of limits.
In creativity we have access to another way. The universe is a cauldron of creation. Each instant is created from the foment of energy everything is made of, and creation is as infinite as the universe it has created. We have experiences of creativity ourselves, though we often confuse and limit its capacities and range by assuming “I did it!”
Awareness has something to do with creativity. We don’t need to “know” how this works, it is a mystery in a world of mystery beyond knowing. These organisms we move about as have a capacity for awareness. We, an aggregate of insistent “ME!’s,” think this is unique among other creatures. That is probably not the case. Awareness may be a prerequisite for participation in creation. In this way the rocks and plants and bugs may be more aware than we are much of the time!
Awareness is blocked when we insist on knowing, when we insist on driving our organisms by coercing them with thought as we are conditioned to do. This is what leads us to “group think.”
If we learn to act on the basis of an awareness that is not encumbered by these assumptions, we may clarify our access to creativity and its unlimited potential.
This is another journey from the one we find ourselves trapped in. There is no “knowing” where that might take us, though I suspect that unless we can leave assumptions like our insistence that thought be our driver, that we continue to allow our current assumptions about thought to fragment our world into a series of problems to be solved; we will continue to misrepresent where it might actually take us! There is no way of knowing. Knowing, our insistence that it is the only way, is at the heart of what is in our way.