Friday 3 November 2017

Imagination can be evil but Primary Thinking (Final Participation) is always Good

Considering the implications of the current fulfilment of Owen Barfield's 60 year old prophecy which I posted earlier today, this brings out the vital difference between imagination - on the one hand - and what might be termed intuition.

Imagination is (roughly) the pictures and other representations in the mind; while intuition can be understood as direct knowledge of reality. Imagination refers to reality, inuition is reality (albeit fragmentary).

Direct knowledge of reality is, of course, a divine attribute - and attainable by humans only to a partial and intermittent degree (at most!). Such intution happens during what I have recently termed primary thinking, which I consider to be the same thing as what Owen Barfield terms final participation.

Primary thinking means thinking in the universal realm of reality (not thinking inside our heads, but thinking in a universal realm) - which is necessarily true; while final participation refers to the fact that this is a participation in creation - 'final' because it is to join with God in this ongoing work, and there is no further for participation to go than this.

So - imagination is a higher form of thinking than the literalistic, yet it may be false and distorted - it may be dishonest and ugly. In fact, nowadays in The West, most products of imagination are thus corrupted; and even among the greatest geniuses of imagination (in the arts, for example) there is a great deal of such corruption, especially over the past 200 years and more as we get more recent, until at present most of the best products of Western imagination (novels, poems, movies, TV, music, painting, sculpture etc) is net-evil.

Whereas intuition is always real, true, good and beautiful. And it is intuition for which we must all strive as our very highest priority - for each of us as individuals, and for our society at every level up to the highest.


William Wildblood said...

A very important distinction, Bruce. I see imagination as a kind of forerunner of intuition which can be accessed when you are outside truth whereas intuition, proper intuition, can only be accessed when you start to become or align your inner being with truth. So it is knowing by being.

Also intuition is like instinct on a higher, more conscious turn of the unfolding evolutionary spiral. That is why the ignorant and the wise can have things in common. And also why no one can be more wrong than an intellectual.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I would say that it's important to remember that there are other kinds of intuition. WW is quite correct that there are higher and more conscious results of evolution than instinct, and these results can be psychologically indistinguishable from intuition of primary truths.

But that doesn't mean they are true in the same way. There are reliable rules of short term cost-benefit analysis that are exactly the opposite of the reliable rules for a long term view. There are rules that remain fairly reliable in the long but limited term that become unreliable or reliably wrong in the eternal perspective.

I believe that intuitions of eternal truths necessarily differ in qualitative affect from those which only apply in some finite term. But to come to distinguish which is which requires more than reliance on how they feel. After all, apprehension of an eternal truth is likely to be accompanied by emotions of grief and mortification, to the degree that eminent writers have mistaken such emotions for a core component of valid perception of eternal truths. But we can obviously feel grief and mortification over transient causes of no lasting import. Nor are all eternal truths grievous or humiliating.

But the opposite error, of regarding any intuition of our own unworthiness as necessarily false, is the more common one. And it is one which favors intuitions that are only 'true' in the short term. There is something beyond the ordinary emotions we can easily describe which marks out true revelation, but to come to know it requires testing of various kinds of intuition by both thought and compassion extending beyond our natural experience.