Wednesday 29 December 2010

More on intuition, creativity and 'life'


As I wrote yesterday, I feel that human thinking is essentially undivided, but that styles which could be called intuitive and rational have different absolute and relative strengths in different individuals.

The intuitive style of thinking is the non-rational basis of creativity, and works by a different kind of 'logic' (or anti-logic).


I conceptualize intuition as (very roughly speaking) working by association of emotions and by 'subjective' semantic categories (i.e. by categories of meaning that - according to mainstream culture, are partly inborn, and partly the result of individual experience).

This can be seen in remembered dreams, with their strange changes of direction in narrative. Usually, these changes of direction can be 'explained' by some individual association based on the emotions generated.


It is a bit like the way we categorize personal names in our mind; we have certain categories of names Rebecca and Emily might go together (because of an 18th century feel); or Charles, William and Robert ('King's names); or Nicola and Tracy (tow girls who were best friends) - and this association leads to slips of tongue. The same applies to cities, and (I believe) all the way through are structures of knowledge - even abstract knowledge such as science: there are spontaneous and not-rational (or not necessarily rational) association between chemicals, numbers, colours and so on.


So we have a grammar of intuitive thinking which will - to a greater or lesser extent, vary between individuals - and will cut across the categories of rational thought.

And the reinforcement of intuition comes from emotions: our associations are validated by emotions.


The sense of 'depth' which we crave and which we may experience in life, in social relations, in art, even in science; this sense of depth comes (I believe) from these personal and spontaneous associations.

So a 'deep' experience is one which triggers many associations that hang together, and these associations seem to go on and on, rooting the experience deep in our minds.


By contrast, non-intuitive reason, for example formal logic, lacks this emotional back-up; so that even when we regard it as correct our decision is not validated by emotions.

So we acknowledge that one place is better than another; a particular car is better than another; a composer is better than another - 'on paper' or rationally and yet we may not feel this emotionally, and our assent is shallow and weak - and indeed alienating.


So if a person believes rationally that Mozart is better than Rossini yet Rossini feels deeper to them at an intuitive level and Mozart just comes across as tinkling noise - then it is alienating to spend all ones time listening to Mozart and trying to manufacture an appreciation.

Likewise, if modern life is superior to ancient life in all rational respects, yet feels shallow, meaningless, purposeless - it is alienating to try and live by the belief that modern life is superior.

Likewise, if one's perspective on life (one's philosophy of life, or religion) feels shallow, meaningless and purposeless - yet apparently is supported by reason - this is alienating, profoundly alienating.


What we seek is 'the good' such that our perspective on life is rationally true, beautiful and virtuous, and that all valued things are TBV, and each unit of experience has 'depth' such that all which is TBV is linked to all other entities that are TBV - no matter how far back we push.

Anything less than this feels incomplete is experienced as incomplete, is uninvolving, isolating - we can almost feel our minds crumbling at the prospect of such a life! Hence the need for inducing numbing indifference and distraction in modernity.

And if we are told that we are being unreasonable to want more than shallowness, then we are even more alienated!


Yet if intuition and subjectivity are 'merely' the result of evolved predispositions and individual experience, then alienation becomes a personal problem; which may elicit sympathy, but which cannot be acknowledged as having any general validity.

The mismatch between intuition and reason is a profound criticism, a refutation of life as it is experienced - and this is probably the basis of nihilism - the disbelief in the reality of life - and because nothing is real, then nothing matters except therapy.


Nothing matters except therapy...

Yes indeed, for secular modernity, the bottom line of all action is therapy.

For each individual, life is a matter of therapy - self-therapy and therapy from others (especially the therapeutic state - the politically correct state): a matter of making ourselves feel good, or at least less-bad, or blocking-out bad feelings with pleasure, or just obliterating all feelings with intoxications of one sort of another (drugs, or falling in love/ lust - it matters not which...).

For modern spirituality (New Age) - all is directed to therapy.

And therapy is this-worldly and temporary, a matter of aspirins and band-aids, because there is no possibility of anything else.


For modern secualr culture, art is - at root - merely aspirins and band aids, so is any absorbing job or hobby, so is love - (nothing more than) a chance to live imaginatively and temporarily in a world of apparent meaning and purpose (or, a world where absorption obliterates all thoughts of meaning and purpose), even though we 'know' that this is not real, just a temporary 'escape' from the reality of nihilism.

In secular modernity we seek - as our ultimate goal - strong medicine.

And since we become tolerant to strong medicines, we need a perpetual procession of new strong medicines; of inventions, novelties, of change

Even philosophy, even religion is conceptualized as nothing more than a strong medicine (which works for some people, not everyone).


So intuition points elsewhere than reason, but intuition and reason cannot be brought together under a materialist, this-worldly perspective - since at this level of analysis intuition merely points to therapy.

What we crave is a world where intuition and reason are merely different sides of the same coin; where all reaosn is intuitive and vice versa.

Untill we find such a perspective, we are right to be dissatisfied.

The profoundest therapy is successful Zen - a living death, a state of utter detachment and indifference and acceptance of meaninglessness and purposelessness.

Yet if the Zen perspective is really true, one might as well die now and have done with it! Why struggle and meditate for years to achieve indifference?


Therapy cannot be an ultimate goal in life, because therapy points to death as the only answer to life.

The therapeutic culture is the consequence of a culture which regards intuition as important, but ultimately intuition as something we are 'stuck with' - due to heredity and individual experience.

For New Age spirituality, intuition is at root merely an unfortunate obstacle in the path of humans accepting (as they rationally ought to) the meaninglessness and purposelessness of real-reality.

For secular modernity - even New Age Spirituality - intuition is important only because it makes us unhappy. Modernity aims to provide an ersatz satisfaction of intuition - but the satisfaction will be, must be, fake - because there is no real form of satisfaction.


What we yearn for is meaning and purpose of life; and that requires a framework of reality not therapy, and reality requires rooting outside of this world, and beyond of reason and intuition.

We seek, therefore, a perspective which contains both reason and intuition and in which both are really-real.


Because secular modernity acts asif reason/ logic was objectively true, while intuition/ creativity is subjectively-validated. 

In fact neither reason not intuition are objectively true in terms of a secular and materialist analysis - because for this to be the case it would be necessary that both reason and intuition were self-validating.

People act asif reason were self-validating. Secular modernity makes this assumption.

But on the slightest reflection it is apparent that reason cannot prove the validity of reason any more than intuition can prove the validity of intuition.


So, both reason and intuition are either not objectively valid (on a materialist and secular perspective) - in which case we have no real knowledge of anything; or else either/ or both reason or intuition are validated by something hierarchically higher and beyond themselves - which is divine revelation.


(This is why the most fully rational person who ever lived was religious - viz. Thomas Aquinas. He was fully rational because he believed that reason - indeed the selective sub-set of reason that was scholastic logic - was validated by God. I think Aquinas was incorrect and misguided in the emphasis he placed on logic, even when conclusions were unsupported by intuition - but it could not validly be said that Aquinas was irrational (or, if Aquinas was irrational, then everyone who ever existed before and since has been even-more-irrational); and Aquinas was of course deeply religious - being a Roman Catholic Saint.)


So, those who sense that reason (or logic) is necessary but insufficient as a guide for life, but who find that secular modernity regards intuition as contingent and idiosyncratic, should consider that intuition may be validated from the same source as reason - and in the same kind of inevitably partial and distorted way as reason is validated.

The conclusion would be that, like reason, intuition is necessary. And, like reason, intuition is valid - but in a partial and biased fashion.

Both reason and intuition are both necessary yet partial and biased because underlying reality (i.e. transcendental reality) is a whole, in which reason and intuition are merely aspects of a single mode of thought.


No comments: