Sunday 31 December 2023

The Law of Direct Knowing: or, why book recommendations are (mostly) useless and best-friends non-transferable

Have you ever noticed, as I did even in my teens, that your best-friend's other best friends were usually people you found to be distinctly... underwhelming. Sometimes, I even disliked them. And my own best friends often did not get-along very well - lacking any genuine affinity. 

This might be supposed to be due to jealousy, or that that each friend represented a different aspect in me; but I think the reason runs deeper.

Something similar applies with authors that I regard as mentors; my absolute favourite writers: those with whom I had a strong relationship, and whose influence on me has been significant. 

It is natural to seek further such mentors by tackling those who my favorite author regarded as his favourite authors... 

Yet this was typically a blind alley. No matter how deeply I admired and empathized with writer X; I nearly always discovered writer X's favourite, most significant, influences were disappointing; and often completely unappealing.

Furthermore, books recommended me by friends who liked the same things as I did, were often duds; and my own recommendations of the "you will love this" type, typically fell upon stony ground. 

The same applies with classical music, and indeed folk music - an exploration of the "influences" behind my favourite artistes and composers was almost uniformly unsatisfying.     

Such instances can be put-together; and a lesson drawn from them to make a kind of law: The Law of Direct Knowing.  

This is: We can only truly-know a person or personage in a direct and dyadic fashion.

We can - in other words - only truly know in terms of a meeting of just-two minds; and this applies whether in everyday-life or in our intense imaginative thinking-life. 

Thus; friendship and influence must alike be directly inter-personal - without any degrees of separation. 

Indeed; it strikes me that with the Law of Direct Knowing we are perhaps confronted here by a fundamental principle of divine creation - because (as I understand it) creation is rooted in love: and, more exactly, in dyadic love - love between "twos".

Love is both what holds-creation-together; and what gives creation its dynamism: its motivation and direction. 

Creation originated (I believe) in the love of our Heavenly Parents to constitute that which we term God; and divine creation began with God's love of all the Beings of reality - each individually relating back to God, via love, in a dyadic fashion. 

Creation then proceeds by multiple (and overlapping, interlocking) instances of dyadic love between the Beings of divine creation - to make the whole of creation bound and motivated by many mutual links.

What this means is that our evanescent mundane love/ relationships are -- in their partial and often temporary ways; and while continually being un-done by the depredations of entropy and the motivations of evil -- instances of that "power of love" which make creation. 

This mortal world is therefore a dynamic equilibrium - which may be strengthening or else falling-apart, at various scales - between the binding and creative powers of love - and that-which opposes love.  

And (at least, for Christians) Heaven can be understood as the place where such dyadic relations are permanent and pure in their nature - such that creation becomes wholly positive and progressive...

So that more-and-more of Heaven, is always being bound more-and-more strongly, by the direct knowing of dyadic love. 



Ron Tomlinson said...

Well I knew that about an author's influences/recommendations. I knew the term 'social life' was an oxymoron (when applied to an individual rather than, say, to a town).

But this post gives an explanation!

Most theories of relationships are negative, being about avoiding things like coercion and suffering, obtaining consent, establishing boundaries, and so on. They don't give you anything to aim at.

One thing I like about this dyadic principle is that it is *positive*

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ron - I'm glad you find the dyadic principle intriguing. Since I formulated it about a decade ago, mainly influenced by Mormon theology and the ideas of William Arkle - although taking it further than they did - I have found to provided a coherent explanation for many things that I regard as important. It also "feels" *true* - which is important...

Literratica said...

I have been reading the blog for a long time as a restrained lurker, but I had to say "lovely insight" on this one. The power of dyadic love may be The Mere Mortal's ultimate meaning. To the individual - a "thing" which even the most ardent anti-individualist has no choice but to embody - secondary+ ties are diluted substance; and while many of us can intuit or understand intellectually the divine logic behind The Whole (the pagan instinct), composed of endless chains of secondary ties, as humans we can only experience creation at the dyadic level. Sounds like it's our pay grade, yet some insist on missing the Direct Knowing trees for the forest. Is this too humanistic?

Dr. Charleton, how would you address the proposition that a religious focus on dyadic intensity (Christian) is nothing but "good ol'" individualism ultimately worth of our scorn?

Bruce Charlton said...

@L - In general, I don't address disagreements. I try to describe how I see things, and how they fit together. It's up to readers either to try this for themselves, and test it by deep intuition; or not.