Tuesday, February 12, 2008


War is not the almost constant state of mankind that history presents to us, according to Jan Cox. It certainly can be be productive though to contemplate. Here you have men courageous enough to walk into bullets. What greater courage could there be? And yet there may be one, which however, is not the direct topic here now. Back to war, and soldiers following orders they may or may not realize are bad, ill thought out, serving someone's vanity, wasteful of life. (Yes, I got started on this watching Ken Burns's latest, on The War. ). Yet the soldiers follow orders for the most part, they do as their officers direct.

What occured to me was the reason Humanity grows under these circumstances. If you had soldiers on the battlefield running around without following directions, you would harm the larger organism. This failure to follow orders may be seen as a kind of illness in the body. Certainly the larger point that the society with such a malfunctioning army is less safe is obvious if you pause over it. One basic aspect of an army's usefulness is quick effective response to danger. This better protects the society of which it is a part. This is because the soldiers are cogs in a larger mechanism.

What is harder to see is that such a scenario also well describes the mental realm. We like to think we are free thinking beings who evaluate and act based on a well informed consideration of whatever issue is at hand. In fact though, the thoughts in our heads are soldiers some well commanded, some pathetically poorly commanded, but in neither case is the commanding officer anywhere nearby. Certainly not in your head. Did you invent your language? Your use of words, fundamental to the thinking process, is part of a larger process in which your darling self is but an illusion. The words have a purpose, they function as cogs in a larger unit, but the purpose and function are not what we assume. Certainly the transfer of information is the least of the functions of verbal speech, though not the least important if you consider just speech intending to describe the external world.

No conspiracy theory is being suggested here, simply the expansion to a mental view wherein we can acknowledge the possibility that things might not be what we assume.

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