"The mind is a compact, multiply connected thought mass with internal connections of the most intimate kind. It grows continuously as new thought masses enter it, and this is the means by which it continues to develop."

Bernhard Riemann On Psychology and Metaphysics ca. 1860

Today's Elites


Friday, January 18, 2013

Dreams, Checks on Conscience, "Crowdsourcing"

What might seem like a mishmash of impressions has struck me just now that I think might perhaps be useful to an admittedly, shall we say, narrow audience of mine (whether internal or otherwise.)

First, earlier I had a dream which I awoke from an early evening nap. Usually, the story lines of such dreams are merely discarded as inconsequential and so instantly dissolved into the subconscious abyss. But as this one seemed to illustrate a kind of principle of dreaming, I kept it in memory:

My mother wrote a check that she gave me to take to her bank and deposit in her account. It was unstated yet understood that this was to be kept secret, for some unspoken reason, from my father. The check was for $950,000. At the same time, I was to get her some highly desirable ice cream she wanted called "futon." I went to the bank, presented the check and successfully deposited it. Now, I am a little hazy whether that same bank was also the venue for the ice cream counter. But, at any rate, the "futon" ice cream that I sought was slushy and melting and the server directed me to another venue to get some scoops that were frozen. I remember walking to another counter perhaps outside the building and getting two different scoops of this variety of ice cream. Then I awoke.

Now none of this foregoing is embellished in any way. Why I think this might be interesting, is that a principle of mind could be sought here. I had read recently several chapters of Cotton Mather's history of the biographies of the early deans of Harvard (who were at one and the same time pastors for their students.) One thing that stood out was his insistence on highlighting and praising their rather agonizing diaries of humility, doubt, and self effacing/mortification as being unfit to serve as role models for the faithful. I must admit that I had never quite run across such public and fulsome praise of this quality of conscience. It brought me back to my own childhood experience with religion in America. The church at the end of the street was a Methodist one, which I attended very seldomly. But I distinctly remember a very strong feeling of religious rejection especially in dreams at that young age. The image of God as an old man shaking his head in rejection at me has still stuck with me viscerally. But this is precisely the sort of primitive "agenbite of inwit" that Mather's "Magnalia Christi Americana" reignited in me.

Now the reason I have brought these two preceding seemingly disparate reflections together is to illustrate a function of mind which I believe is universal. Much palaver is wasted these days by academics in search of a metric for intelligence. Usually the bawdlerized version that is popular (of which the significance of, I will go into later) would be to treat of intelligence as analogous to a test of strength of the faculty of memory or perhaps the inventiveness (quirkiness ?) of imagination. But almost nothing is noted of a remarkable evidence of what I consider to be the actual mark of "genius." That is simply an unerring ability to direct or self-edit the flow of thought along a course consonant with a "humanist" philosophical standpoint. 

This is in total contradistinction to the asinine heralded opinion floating around in "cyberspace" of the much touted "wisdom of crowds." So, for instance, when Leibniz writes that he must reject out of hand any physics (in particular DesCartes' version) that stipulates the violation of the efficacy of the ontological or final cause as the principle of least action performing the most potential good-- this is precisely such an instance of the faculty of genius. And this has nothing to do with any miraculous quality of performance and functioning of the physical synapses in the human brain. It is entirely another, higher function of mind. This proceeds from what Cusa terms "filiation" with the Creator, or what I would restate as love of communing with the ongoing process of continuing perfection of universal creation. It is the attempt to bring to bear a principle in human government to allow the orchestration of beneficence for their future well being. Which is to say the complete and utter opposite of the oligarchy's ruse of the bloody shirt of "democratic rule." 



Above: Osrakons used to democratically banish the enemies of the oligarchy.           
                                                                                                                             Socrates.

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