Friday, October 12, 2012

Paradox or Parable

A review of Jim Al-Khalili's new book, Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics, points to an apparently superficial summary of certain aspects of modern thought. The review though gave me a new way to focus on the question of the difference between that aspect of the material world we denote as consciousness, and that, aspect we, less problematically, call the physical world. This is an ongoing puzzle, that may never be resolved, but lots of fun to think about: the difference between consciousness and other aspects of the world we encounter. Our apprehension of the so-called external world is mainly communicable through the rational mind, and for my present purposes, the ordinary. binary mind of man, that allows him to alphabetize, and otherwise. divvy up the external, is thrown into contrast with pure consciousness, an awareness not focused on a particular object. From a cognitive point of view this could point to the difference between the physical and the mental, though we are speaking loosely.

The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics, has a chapter on the paradoxes of the philosopher Zeno. These are typified by the one which says if you move towards a destination by having each step cover half the distance, you will never arrive at your destination. This is supposed to show how motion is impossible. 

What occurred to me is that what we have here is the difference between the consciousness of man, and one aspect of that consciousness, -- rational thought. What I like about this perspective is that it points to the necessity for complications in man's mental functioning, beyond the the rational, binary, aspect, that part we often call the rational mind. The paradox is less pungent when you realize that the apprehension of motion needs both binary thought and a wider consciousness extant constantly. This wider consciousness, is apparently necessary all the time, for man's comprehension. This is not the majority view of 20th century philosophy, focused as it was on linguistics. The solution to this paradox -- motion is impossible, and yet exists -- was within and about us, all the time. 

What Zeno meant, to demonstrate the limitations of rational thought,  was a paradox and is now a parable. There are at least two, aspects to consciousness-- that which divides (that is, the rational mind) and that which unifies, unifies human perception, and awareness.

The above paragraphs hardly explain the unity the human mind demonstrates, but hints I hope at the necessity of two necessary dimensions each second that mind is alert. I would not want to suggest that two is a confining condition.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Less or more

Could we comparatively rank the natural scientist and the persistent mystic? One looks at stuff, the other between the stuff. The latter draws mo boundaries because there are none, the former know nothing of the latter, and could not work if they did. So together they are one molecule.