Three worldviews

Three worldviews

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

7:25 a.m. I suppose it should be reassuring that I have no idea what comes next, and don’t even know what has come so far – that is, I can’t recall except by effort both sessions. I don’t know what is being created and of course I am wondering if there will be any more. There is no angst about this, it is way too familiar, but there you are.

All right, David – I don’t know what is next, so I sure hope you do. But then, I assume it.

We mentioned that you use two analogies – Upstairs/Downstairs and this side/that side, both geographical analogies, so to speak. We started to say that you had once realized that conscious/subconscious also implied a separation in space, as the difference between the top of a wave and the body of the wave (and the wave in turn could be seen as the tip of greater depths, as Upton Sinclair more or less saw the individual and the race).

All these analogies are useful distinctions but – like all distinctions – they are partial, tentative, dependent upon the point of view of the observer. In a very real way, distinctions obstruct or blur the realization that distinctions are by nature falsifications no matter how carefully drawn.

Furthermore you are coming to realize that what we are giving you here is the root of the problem of Western civilization. Nothing less. And that is: Being unable to believe in immortality, or being unable to conceive of immortality as anything but a vague continuation of existence, because of conclusions that for a while seemed forced by reason in the light of science, western civilization split into three parts that each went its own way (except that each, regarding itself as the only legitimate and accurate representation of reality, also regarded itself as the only legitimate authority around which society was to revolve, thus setting the scene for endless struggles, or Kulturkampf). These three may be subdivided but that would only blur the lines I am drawing to show you the outline.

Religion. Received belief, corporate bodies revolving around scriptures as they interpreted them.

Science. Continual investigation into physical reality, being willing to (and expecting to have to) reshape its view of reality as new data is derived or discovered.

Humanists, call them. If you don’t want to call them humanists (shades of the accusations of Secular Humanism thrown out by the fundamentalists some years ago in your path) I can name them something else. The essence is this: they do not rely upon Scripture or on investigation, but upon something neither Science nor Religion easily recognizes. Call them perhaps the Intuition-ists? The Rooted-Nature-ists?

You see? Emerson, Thoreau, Goethe, Whitman, Coleridge – not merely artists, not exactly mystics, not quite scientists. It is not a matter of temperament, though it may easily appear so because certain temperaments gravitate toward certain points of view and those accustomed lines of thought tend to shape people into these temperaments.

So you have those who follow scriptural authority, others who follow investigative authority and still others who follow instinct informed (depending on the person) by different combinations of scriptural and scientific information.

Each of these has a different worldview. Each in a very real sense lives in a different world. They all perceive different facts, deduce different rules, arrive at different conclusions. This after all is what your blog is all about – the world is fragmented.

As I said, each division can be subdivided. Catholics and fundamentalists and Quakers have huge differences among them, not to mention the differences between any of them and Muslims, Rastafarians, Hindus or Buddhists. Nonetheless, you can see a rough commonality among them when seen from this particular categorizing scheme. Similarly, physicists live in a pretty different world from sociologists, and either from psychologists, yet clearly they all look to experientially derived data for their authority. And Goethe may have significant differences from Ken Kesey, and each from Hemingway, say – but they are all making sense of the world less from Scripture or scientific investigation than from personal intuition.

Again, this is only a classification scheme. Goethe could be put in among scientists, as could Thoreau. Newton had a foot in at least two worlds. The point is not to pick holes in the scheme but to pick an implied (or anyway an inferred) whole out of it.

For this is what it gives you, you see. Once you see the culture as consisting of a positive, a negative and a reconciling force (to use Gurdjieff’s terms) you see that none of the three may be dispensed with. Each is necessary, and will be present one way or another. It is not the presence or even the overdeveloped presence of any that is the problem.

The problem of the West – and hence of the world – is not that there are three means of receiving data but that the three means appears to be delivering contradictory data! This is why each set goes off to sulk, or comes out to do battle, instead of playfully and creatively cooperating and competing to each make its own contribution and recognize the contributions of the others. This is why it is a struggle in terms of tug-of-war rather than, say, a foot race.

Now, in spelling out to you a scheme of what life is really like – that is, taking both sides of the veil as an interactive system – and in pointing out that the means of personal verification are available to each of you, have we not given you the clue that society could follow to reunify its vision?

If scientists as scientists (not as individuals with divided minds, putting their science aside on Sunday mornings, so to speak) can obtain first-hand knowledge of the essential immortality and interpenetrating nature of life –

If the religious as seekers of religious truth can do the same, and interpret their experience in light of the scriptures (and then, soon enough, learn to use the scriptures as roadmaps of what they are likely to discover, or should watch out for, or tools that they may be able to use) –

If the poets and mystics as intuiters of truth can fashion a reconciling view respecting both religion and science –

Do you not have your next civilization in its essence? You will not live long enough to see it flower but you may easily live long enough to see it take root – and you will continue to actively participate (with greater freedom and sureness) from the other side.

So, that is what you are up to.

I see to my surprise that it has been an hour.

Yes, go. But today we can probably give you more – assuming you wish to receive it today.

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