Monday 17 October 2022

Heart, head, guts - primary thinking compared with reason and instinct

In this mortal life it seems that God wants us to work things out each for himself; rather than passively following guidance.

But further, it is desired that we are to learn to value and follow heart thinking (the free, agent, thinking of the real and divine self) - whereas we spontaneously use a mixture of head thinking (reasoning, logic) with gut instinct.

The great advantage of heart thinking is that it takes "everything" of relevance (conscious and unconscious ) and focuses it down to what is required by me, here, and now. Or, it takes account of everthing-relevant, from the exact perspective of me/here/now.

Heart thinking is thus a divine attribute, and requires that we temporarily align fully with God's creative intentions. This is why God desires for us to know and do heart thinking.

By contrast, head thinking is our conscious usage of few and specified, generalized and abstract, concepts; and the "evidence" they generate. Head thinking is thus intrinsically generic, not specific; and uses abstract models of reality.

...While gut instinct is likewise generic; being an application ( to the unique here and now of an unique individual), of general rules derived from an "average" of past, ancestral experiences and learning.

Because we are only partly God-aligned mortal beings in an entropic world, and part way on a developmental path to God-nature; we can only attain to heart thinking temporarily and intermittently.

Nonetheless, that is what we should strive to do.


Ron Tomlinson said...

The way I understand it, though a heart can be mistaken, it cannot deceive itself. It's fascinating that in order to discover what we truly think we have to look to the body, the foundation upon which the mind is built.

It makes sense from an evolutionary point of view. An organism should consume resources as efficiently as possible, not wasting energy, until an emergency situation arises. Then it must instantly prepare for action: take a breath and get the heart pumping. So the heart and the diaphragm are perhaps the best physical indicators of joy and fear.

Fight or flight? Advance or retreat? Yes or no? The heart can be relied upon where the intellect hasn't a clue.

Trouble is, most people don't have the internal awareness to permit incorporating these into their private thinking, e.g. *imagining* whether to advance or retreat in a hypothetical situation. I think this awareness was received by the apostles when they were baptised by fire and the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (those who didn't already have it).

Bruce Charlton said...

@RT - If we are talking about biological survival/ reproduction/ evolution - then we are really talking about gut/ instincts.

The heart (and intuition) is concerned with spirit and is primarily about salvation versus damnation; theosis versus corruption; rather than life versus death or reproduction versus annihilation - which are mostly matters of instinct.

Ron Tomlinson said...

I don't want to reduce spirituality to biology, that would be silly. Clearly the vision of a prophet, for instance, is too elaborate to be explained it in terms of a muscular pumping organ.

Yet, why was the word 'heart' chosen in reference to spiritual matters? I wonder what Mr Wildblood thinks.

Intuitively it seems to me that their higher nature *communicates* to most people, during waking hours at least, via feelings of joy or fear. And, for me at least, this sort of sensation really does seem to be located in the chest...hence I presume that 'heart' is a synecdoche. In reality the perception is indirect, occurring via maps of the body in the brain. But all perception is indirect.

We speak of hearts being corrupted, which is how Satan gains his followers. Others withdraw as much attention from the heart as they can in order to keep ploughing their ill-chosen furrows. These individuals are C.S.Lewis's "men without chests" and strike us as cowardly. Perhaps he was speaking metaphorically; perhaps he was speaking from somatic observation?

Bruce Charlton said...

RT - Good points.

Modern consciousness lacks the conceptual-vocabulary to discuss these matters. We are dealing with 'original participation' ways by which there is no division between the physical and spiritual, and concepts have multiple (as we see it, but actually undivided) and simultaneous meanings - as once nearly-all words did.

(Reference Owen Barfield's History in English Words, or Poetic Diction, for multiple examples.)

Thus 'the heart' has many aspects at once and indivisible - including the physical organ and its situation. But we need to try and remember that the spiritual is primary; and the material/ physical 'only' a subtype of the spiritual.