Monday, February 2, 2009

Trains of ideation

"If...we wish our trains of ideation and volition to be copious and varied and effective, we must form the habit of freeing them from the inhibitive influence of reflection upon them, of egoistic preoccupation about their results."
-William James, from "The Gospel of Relaxation."
The Correspondence theory of truth tells of a relation between representations and objective states of affairs, and James was a fan to say the least. My argument against this particular line (in the context of the text it is taken from) is mystical and not remotely pragmatic. I don't want that to seem a qualifier or a cop out, I disagree with Kant and most of the "penny for your thoughts" philosophical snake oil salesman who rode his coattails in attempts to be darlings of pretentious and debauched drawing rooms at the turn of the 20th.
Inhibitive influence of reflection upon them (our trains of ideation and volition)? We are essentially the psychological offspring of those who raised us through the formative years 1-5 and as such; applying the benefits of hindsight to what we will here call our volitionary reaction mechanisms is necessary to free ourselves in any sense from the hang-ups and tortures wrought by the abuses in their pasts and our own. In order to effectively accomplish this without leaving emotional callouses or even gaping psychic wounds we MUST reflect upon the causes and nature of our thoughts habitually. We must follow them down myriad paths and explore a variety of applications in order to gain some skill and diminish some temerity that is in a real sense hard-wired into our philosophies by physiology. This applies to Memes in all forms, sexual, artistic, philosophical, and other. We are, I think, past the point where leaving the Eastern modes out of our explorations of conciousness (mystic and other) can be argued to be beneficial.


mgford25 said...

It's like apples and oranges. William James always valued the thing in itself, the moment of creation, the inhibition of it all, the spark. He never trusted what came after. And for all the people who trust that spark, they should light it and avoid reflecting. But again, some do not. This simply does not work. They need to mull, and deliberate, and everything else, then something beautiful happens. And they should mull and deliberate. It's what works. Apples and oranges. To each his own, and their are many, many paths.

Hollis said...

Certainly, you are 100% correct. But i would assert that one cannotknow which path is appropriate until hes tried each, and this facilitates the development of tolerance that stems from walking a mile in another's sandals.