The aspect of man's thinking I point to is it's ability to stop sharply when the trail is just getting interesting. Everybody does this, -- the point in an argument when a woman says I don't want to talk about it, when the man says, I think this interview is over.
The characteristic of the rational faculties to which I refer is part of the phemomenon described by the great philisophico-mystics of the 20 th century--- Georges Gurdjieff and Jan Cox, in these terms---man's sleeping condition. And yet our focus is on a narrow stripe in this level of consciousness.
Man's dreaming state, his automatic functioning at the intellectual level, includes this ability to avert attention at a certain point. This point one has to assume involves the self-preservation of the sleeping consciousness, a kind of way when you are in a dream, to prolong the dream.
The universality of what I have noticed in man's mentation points to its being a basic aspect of the dream state. Perhaps I should point out in case anyone readng this is unfamiliar with the thinkers I mention above, this sleeping state is absolutely necessary to man's progress. That though is not the point here, and what I want to do is stress the universal aspect of this trick of sleeping mentation, by pointing out the phenomenon as it exists in the general intellectual climate, the academic and scientific cloud which defines major modern mechanical intellectual progress.
The physicist who says, when asked about how empty space could generate particles, well, that space is "almost empty." The fellow reveals himself to be lacking basic philisophical comprehension if he thinks this is an answer. But this response allows the duller blades in the scientific cabinet to carry on ignoring a basic philosophical query: how is it that something comes from nothing.
The philosopher who contends, as is common in the past century, that something cannot be true, if it cannot externally verified in a public, repetitive process, is on the same level as a Bible thumper when it comes to neuronal alacrity. I say this because the basic premise of the positivist's position cannot itself be verified according to the dictum of what is called the verification principle. Again, a line is drawn in the gray goo, and the mechanical mind cannot be coaxed to pursue it's intellectual inquiries in a consistent and empirical matter.
From the perspective of those Eliot called "reckless religious adventurers" (referring to Gurdjieff) where you draw the line is irrelevant as long as you refuse to pursue intellectual questions careless of the consequences to your own intellectual presumptions. That refusal to continue with the questioning is typical of the man who answers a question with 'because the bible says so', as well as the man who rejects a report with the assertion some purported event is a statistical anomaly.
So the above paragraphs are a setup to what occurred to me just now, about what has long been a puzzling feature of man's mechanical intellect. This general ability to come to a screeching halt, functions to maintain balance within that phenomenon called Humanity of course. The point is not that this ability to shutdown one's intellect is not functional. What occurred to me though was that this self-regulating thermostatic aspect of human mentation is a self protective device so that man does not despair in the face of the certainty of his own impending death.