Sunday 2 October 2022

Primary Thinking is experienced somewhat like remembering

Primary Thinking (PT) is a reality difficult to grasp and recognize; so here is another aspect that may be of help in knowing when it is happening.  

Another term for PT is 'direct-knowing' - and this is experienced as suddenly 'recalling' that we already-know something. So; a thought appears in the stream of mundane thinking that has a different quality; and that quality is somewhat like memory. 

Thus we experience this thought as valid; as if we always knew it - but (as with direct-thinking) we have not reached this conclusion from evidence or reasoning. It is a direct and unmediated sharing, based on thinking the same thoughts as God (but, obviously, from a position of Much less capacity than God). 

Suddenly we Just Know - and it feels like we always have known; but implicitly.

This is because spiritual thinking as it first emerges - before being 'translated' into language or some other symbolism - is true (at least, true within the limits of our capacity to comprehend). 

It is true, because Primary Thinking is our (true) selves conscious participation in divine creation; and truth could briefly be defined as the reality of divine creation. It is that reality we know - know, because we are participating in it - with Primary Thinking.  


ben said...

Does Primary Thinking have to do with the burning in the bosom?

ben said...

"It is a direct and unmediated sharing, based on thinking the same thoughts as God"

I think it has a beauty to it similar to other forms of harmony like in music for example. Coordination without communication... reminds me of sports players or military commanders who are able to function synchronously in novel ways that haven't been planned out beforehand.

Bruce Charlton said...


"Does Primary Thinking have to do with the burning in the bosom?"

No. That is trying/ failing to provide a material-physical objective-correlate for a spiritual condition.

Re coordination - a most general example is a loving family; where the mutual love of family members can harmonize their independent activities, even when specific communications are not involved.

Kristor said...

Sc., the Meno. Plato's point: we all of us already know everything that matters - for, all of it must be implicit in the very fabric and matrix of our being - we just fail to remember it.

Petrus said...

So then... omniscience? Yet, for us, on a "need to know" basis.

Bruce Charlton said...


No, that's not what I am saying. Plato's idea that we all know everything is rooted in a monist metaphysics where everything is and always has been *one*, and where we are under an illusion that prevents us from recognizing that we are merely parts of a unity. We already know everything because we are parts of that primal unity.

My own metaphysics is completely different, since I assume a primal plurality of Beings in unknowable chaos; and that God's creation is what makes a knowable reality. We then are called upon (genuinely) to learn about God's creation - we don't already know it.

If you look at the language I use in this post, I am saying that Primary Thinking has an as-if quality of memory - I am merely making some 'psychological' hints about its special quality.

Therefore, to answer Petrus - We did Not and do Not already know everything. We must learn it incrementally.

What I am saying is that this learning process is experienced rather as a memory - and I try to explain why this is.

Crosbie said...

You likely mean this as an analogy only Dr Charlton, but memory is a two-way thing I assume. Memory serves to bring ideas from the past into the future, but also to bring the future to the present. And of the two functions, the second is the most important. Like your primary thinking, a memory of tomorrow would be experienced more forcefully than the evidence of the senses themselves.

Bruce Charlton said...

@C - Well, no.

My basic understanding of reality means that it is impossible to have memories of the future (except in an extrapolative and conjectural way), because the future has not happened and because all Beings have free agency (to some degree).

I regard Beings as primary, and 'time' as an aspect of Beings that cannot be separated from their life (and consciousness).

These are my metaphysical assumptions; not a matter of 'evidence'. I've written about *apparent* exceptions, previously -

No Longer Reading said...

The description somewhat reminds me of this passage about Jane's conversion in "That Hideous Strength":

"Words take too long. To be aware of all this and to know that it had already gone made one single experience. It was revealed only in its departure. The largest thing that had ever happened to her had, apparently, found room for itself in a moment of time too short to be called time at all. Her hand closed on nothing but a memory."

Perhaps based on Lewis's conversion during his trip to the Whipsnade Zoo where he said something like: "Before I went, I was not a Christian, afterwards, I was."

J.R.R. Tolkien also talks about something similar in a letter to Christopher:

"Man the story teller would have to be redeemed in a manner consonant with his nature: by a moving story. But, since the author of it is the supreme Artist and the Author of Reality, this one was also made to Be, to be true on the Primary Plane. So that in the Primary Miracle (the Resurrection) and the lesser Christian miracles too though less, you have not only that sudden glimpse of the truth behind the apparent Ananke of our world, but a glimpse that is actually a ray of light through the very chinks of the universe about us.

I was riding along on a bicycle one day, not so long ago, past the Radcliffe Infirmary, when I had one of those sudden clarities which sometimes come in dreams (even anaesthetic-produced ones). I remember saying aloud with absolute conviction 'But of course! Of course that's how things really do work.' But I could not reproduce any argument that had led to this, though the sensation was the same as having been convinced by reason (although without reasoning). And I have since thought that one of the reasons why one can't recapture that wonderful argument or secret when one wakes up is simply because there was not one: but there was (often maybe) a direct apprehension by the mind (sc. reason) but without the chain of argument we know in our time-serial life."

Bruce Charlton said...

@NLR - Maybe so; especially Tolkien's comments about " a direct apprehension by the mind".

No Longer Reading said...

I should probably clarify that I'm not saying that these are exactly the same as primary thinking, but I think they describe something similar to a situation where we know something has occurred but can't hold onto when it occurred.

Maybe that is how certain phenomena that take place above or beyond the mind of normal waking consciousness work. Not just primary thinking but other things as well. The normal conscious mind can't hold onto them only register their effects.