Sunday, January 31, 2010

Not a Thought, But Thinking Itself

...Interview with a leading American writer, a commentator on global
culture, a professor at Wharton University and it gives us a marvelous
example of the mechanical mind. This is not about ideas, and that is
why I mention a living writer here, my point has nothing to do with
his ideas, I find them interesting in fact. No, my point here, is how
the author of The Empathic Civilization, (just out, do go buy a copy)
illustrates, not an idea, not a type of thinking, but thinking itself.
I am using Rifkin here merely as an example of how everyone's mind
operates. Rifkin's thesis in his new book is that mankind, is not by
nature, violent, no, rather, he argues, humanity is born a social
animal. You listen and it slips right by you----Why exactly must man
be one or the other? He is both, a violent creature and a social
creature. One does not rule out the other,
unless, of course, you are limited to the ordinary human thinking functions.

Rifkin is arguing on a binary basis, if man is not that, then man
must be this. This is the basis of the mechanical mind, it is not the
full measure of the human mind, but it is the mechanical processing of
the mechanical mind, that has given us scientific progress. The
Indo-European root of the word science is a verb meaning to pull
apart, and this is necessary if man is to rearrange his external
world. This ability of the mechanical mind to imagine how things might
be different than they are, as we look out at the world, has allowed
human civilization to develop. An example Jan Cox used to make this
point, is of routing water up hill. You take apart the present picture
and imagine how it might be otherwise, with water mills, for instance.

But the beauty of the mechanical mind, need not limit us to thinking
the mind must be this or that, mechanical or, mechanical and something
more. The mind of our species has potentials which are not commonly
recognised. One of these talents, is, in the words of Jan Cox, the
potential to think beyond the number two.