Saturday 11 March 2023

Understanding telepathy - a 'clew' to reality?

Most people believe - from personal experience - that telepathy is a real thing, that it can sometimes happen. But not many people think much further about what this might mean

Telepathy is therefore an example of the way that our personal experiences interact - or rather, do not interact - with our metaphysical assumptions. 

Belief in telepathy (for modern people) is therefore encapsulated: it is a free-spinning cog, a belief unintegrated-with and separated-from our basic understanding of the world.  

A belief in telepathy therefore does not affect the basic materialism - and disbelief in 'the spiritual' - that is characteristic (indeed mandatory) in public discourse in our Western civilization. 

Unless there is a transformation of our basic (metaphysical) assumptions concerning the nature of reality; telepathy cannot be understood and integrated with life-in-general - even when it is believed. 

Yet, if people started-with their already-existing belief in telepathy; and took it seriously; then honestly, and rigorously followed-through its implications - then the thread might well lead to metaphysical transformation. 

...And the same applies to other 'paranormal' (or 'supernatural') phenomena such as synchronicity, near-death-experiences, seeing ghosts - and the like; all of which seem to be highly prevalent experiences among ordinary people in the modern West. 

Each of these is, potentially, a clew - the loose-end of a thread which, if grasped and followed, could potentially lead to a revolutionary reappraisal of how life is understood. 

With telepathy, following the clew might initially lead to a recognition that one's experience of telepathy was not one of language, not a hearing of words nor a seeing of images; but instead just knowing some-thing. 

While hearing words or seeing visions might at first seem to imply that telepathy worked by some means akin to radio or television transmission; on further consideration - if telepathy works without the senses, this seems to imply something more like a sharing of knowledge - which implies that different people have access to other minds, or to some other common source. 

This seems to suggests that two people may be thinking the same thoughts, simultaneously; and perhaps by some means that does not involve back and forth communication - but through simultaneously accessing an underlying shared-world. 

Since the underlying shared world does not seem to be material - and is not, apparently, detectable or measurable - then it might be recognized as a spiritual world. 

Therefore, such a line of rigorously following-up the experience of telepathy - or some other analogous experience; might lead to telepathy being regarded as a possible manifestation of some common (maybe universal) spiritual reality, that can simultaneously be tuned-into by many people - but which continually exists whether or not it is being tuned-into. 

This 'common spiritual reality' might then form an hypothesis, which could be tested against other past and future personal experiences; to see whether such an understanding cohered with our own life.  

Yet this kind of reasoning very seldom happens; and instead most people believe this, that, and the-other - each as encapsulated assertions - without any attempt to relate them to each-other or to a coherent overview of reality. 

In fact, such encapsulation of beliefs (of all kinds) turns-out to be vital to the continued (albeit short-term) existence of our current - deeply dishonest and corrupted, value-inverted - society. 

Our lives, our actual experiences, are full of clews to a larger, meaningful, coherent and much-better world - if only we weren't so adept at ignoring them!



Kristor said...

It seemed to me long ago that all physical transactions are transceptions of signals, and that they all reduce to sorts of telepathy: literally, to feeling from afar something more or less distant and distinct from oneself.

lea said...

I can only chime in fully agreeing, but keep wondering what compels people to convince themselves they are living in a world made up of completely random events that somehow form the level of coherence that we are at now. Why is it difficult to imagine avenues of perception and communication that are not stamped, ratified, and confirmed effective by some clueless institution?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Kristor - In the depths of my (wrong) engagement with systems theory - see Appendix to - I pondered the business of 'communication' via 'signals' - and eventually realized that it cannot be a fundamental form of knowledge - because it entails multiple stages, all of which entail 'modelling' of reality. In the end we must know 'directly' - without communication - or else we cannot know.

@lea - Well, I know from experience what compels people to believe and behave as you say - because that was me through most of my life. Perhaps surprisingly, it was through being a scientists, and a very serious and thinking scientist; that I realized that science was as much of a human and subjective activity as anything else, and that it depended on human groupings with human motivations. And so the mainstream idea that 'science' was The Only valid form of knowledge (and 'science' refuted God etc) was nonsense.

I had to grasp that our basic assumptions about reality are what generate our understanding of the world; so that someone who has (mostly unconsciously and passively) absorbed the 'random events' basic assumptions, can never escape from those assumptions by having them disproved... All possible proof and disproof are understood within the 'random events' assumptions.

Somehow, the person must come to realize that he is in a mental trap of his own making; from which the world has no meaning or purpose because that is his primary assumption - not because the word cannot have meaning, but because he has decided it cannot have meaning.

Kristor said...

I did not mean to indicate that physical transactions are mediated (so that noise can creep into the transmitted signal as it is modulated again and again over the course of the transmission). On the contrary, I take them to be immediate, and direct. One day tells its tale to another. There is a tale, consisting of the antecedent day; and it is heard by the next, subsequent day. There is no process of communication of the tale – of the signal of the antecedent day to the subsequent – that transpires intermediately between them. Thus the subsequent day knows the tale of the antecedent day directly, by an immediate feeling of that antecedent day.

Telepathy would be an example of such direct knowing. In each of our moments of life, we have that same direct and immediate knowledge of our antecedent moments of life. I see no reason in principle why we could not have such direct and immediate knowledge of the antecedent moments of the lives of others.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Kristor - Agreed.

Bruce B. said...

How does this idea (or does it) relate to instinct? Human instinct and animal instinct. My wife and I were talking about instinct recently.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - I'm not clear what you are asking.

Instincts - from a biological perspective - are evolved biological adaptations of behaviour; presumed to benefit reproductive success (in the ancestral population, approximately on average).

So with instinct we are referring to past environments, acting selectively over several or many generations.

Assuming 'telepathy' is real, then it would surely have been something that influenced reproductive success.

A putative example (used by Owen Barfield) is flocking birds in flight, who stay together and change direction in a coordinated fashion. This is straightforwardly explicable by telepathy - more exactly a 'group soul'.

In original participation there is little separation of one organism (or being) from another - there is a sharing of thinking, but compelled, unconsciously and spontaneously.

In a sense we begin with near-complete telepathy, develop the separation of consciousness typical of modern man and (with final participation) should move towards a chosen and conscious sharing of thinking - but only as and when we desire it, and not otherwise.

See from 30:45 approx:

Ben L said...

I have been following a Catholic podcast that did a few shows on telepathy (I won't name it because the host is fully peck positive).

They were speaking about a man called Ingo Swann who was kind of a test subject for telepathy and according to many authorities a very strong telepath.

He described it as big data table out there that holds all possible information, and that telepathy is merely looking something up on this table.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ben L - That is a descriptive model which I feel cannot capture the essential reality on which telepathy is based.

It does not really explain anything, if you think about it - just inserts a mirror representation of reality in between our minds and the real world.

I know from psychiatry (and elsewhere) that people who have real inner experiences, are not necessarily good at introspecting about what is going on in such experiences (what it 'feels like'), or at describing such introspective knowledge.

Plus, what something 'feels like' depends upon (substantially) how we understanding it - a different explanation leads to a different feeling.

My point here is that we should try regarding telepathy as a indicator pointing towards some deep realities, rather than trying to 'explain' telepathy in isolation. In other words, we need to interpret evidence in the light of explicit metaphysics; not try to derive our metaphysics from bits and pieces of evidence.

Because all possible 'evidence', each considered in and of itself, is defined by our metaphysical assumptions (i.e. what counts as a piece of evidence comes from prior theory), and means nothing without it (i.e. the implications of a piece of evidence are a part of some explanatory theory).