Horizons Of Self: Mind, Emotions, And Body

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Language, politics, morality, and religion originate here. Justice gets done here. Worldviews are created here—the purple quadrant.

This new physics, to be sure, is still in the midst of growing pains, but whatever the outcome, Locke’s concrete material substance is history. In brief, Newton's particles are no more real (or just as real, depending on your point of view) as Locke's appearances. The difference between Newton's particles and sensed qualities is found in our experience of them. The immediate experience of colors, odors, and sounds are just that, immediate experience of color, odor, and sound, however the wavelength of blue light is theoretically designated and indirectly verified. We do not exist a three-term relationship we exist a two-term relationship with the second term being our theoretically postulated, hypothetically designated component of experience while the first term of experience is the immediately sensed determinate portion of the aesthetic continuum,-- which is part of our very being. The immediately sensed component is relative to each individual while the theoretic component is public, exists within our understanding, and therefore is accessible to everybody, everywhere.

We experience our three horizons–emotional life (red), embodied life (pink), and psychological life (yellow)–in their aesthetic immediacy, within which determinate differentiations come and go. In this way, change, and understanding change, is pervasive. Theories follow from questions, and correct theories follow from confirmation of experimental results. In other words, the scientific method is one way to expand our horizons, but that method works best when dealing with physical phenomena, the embodied state (pink horizon). The scientific method is less effective when it comes to expanding our psychological and emotional horizons. However, with education, all three horizons expand. Understanding, whether it comes from the hypothetically conceived, experimentally verified component of our experience, or whether it comes from the “school of hard knocks,” so to speak, still educates.

Here’s how F. S. C. Northrop describes the two-term relationship of a fully known thing: “Both components are equally real and primary, and hence good, the one being the complement of the other… (He states) “To be any complete thing is to be not merely an immediately experienced, aesthetically and emotionally felt thing, but also to be what hypothetically conceived and experimentally verified theory designates.” (The Meeting Of East And West, p. 450) So, we may ask, into what do our self-horizons expand when they expand? In other words, I now want to talk about the blue, green, and purple quadrants in the above diagram. By way of introduction, and to keep the topic focused, here is another person’s take on why the three-term relationship is no longer needed; the physicist Henry Margenau, like Northrop before him, described human experience in terms of a two-term relationship.

In his book, The Nature of Physical Reality, Margenau elaborates on what the theoretic component of our experience entails when he says, “…that we come to knowledge of our experience in two ways—through the mental states of prepositional attitudes and sensation.” He then lumps these attitudes and sensation together in what he calls our P-plane experience—a combination of immediate experience with its significance (immediate experience, or our sensed qualia, is what we experience when we experience the determinate part of the aesthetic continuum, -- the aesthetic component of our experience). In this way we come to "know" the same thing in two different ways, through sensed qualia and through the significance that we attach to this sensed qualia. For Margenau, there are four levels of P-plane significance. Language, with its lexical, syntactical, and contextual designations represents the first level. The second level, science, raises P-plane significance by connecting P-plane experience with the propositional aspects of our cognitive experience via what Margenau calls rules of correspondence—the sensed aspect of what may be inferred or deduced from theoretical postulates. On the third and fourth level of P-plane experience, significance deals with ethical behavior and existential meaning. Here the cognitive connection to P-plane experience does not entail the rigor of analysis that describes the scientific method. But, according to Margenau, this lack of rigor does not impose a lesser degree of significance.

Connecting understanding up with ethical behavior and existential meaning moves P-plane experience out of the blue quadrant—the science of how our body works, and into the purple quadrant,--why we make our body do the things that it does. Here, in the psychological mind quadrant, we are constantly being stimulated, inspired, (and disgusted) by the hermeneutic circle of communication that comprises this quadrant. The independence, integrity, and freedom of the individual,--the groups, organizations, and institutions that the individual participates in, all are encountered in this quadrant. Language, politics, morality, and religion originate here. Justice gets done here. Worldviews are created here. “Approved life styles” are affirmed here. Hamlet gets read, discussed, and criticized here. When our yellow horizon expands, it moves us further into this quadrant, into that place where the scope of human discourse burgeons. In brief, (to quote Lett, speaking to a different context) this is the quadrant “where peo
ple will assign meanings to their activities and experiences and will invest considerable intellectual and emotional currency in the development, expression, and preservation of those meanings.” (James Lett, The Human Enterprise, p.97) But, even though our mind is, so to speak, set free in the purple quadrant (yellow self-horizon), our body remains in the blue quadrant. So, where do we go when our pink horizon (blue quadrant) expands?

If we’re lucky, and say, for instance, that we’re in the middle of a Michigan winter, we pack our bags and ask for directions to Florida. For those of us who can’t quite swing a Florida vacation, however, we continue to punch the cloak, put in our 40 hours per week, and all for the purpose of keeping food on the table, rents and mortgages paid, and a little spending money in our pockets. The blue quadrant is the brick and mortar world we live in. It is also where scientific predictions are confirmed, and, on a more solemn note, where injustice(s) are experienced. Take me, for instance, right now I’m sitting in front of my computer screen and when I look up, I immediately see cinder blocks,-- sand and cement laden material used in the construction of oh well, you name it. Over head I see wrapped steam pipes (engineered no doubt to keep me working and not traipsing off to Florida). I see furniture, a tile floor, and assorted material things, all of which are constructed for the purpose of utility and providing creaturely comfort. Also, (to get back to the less visible stuff), in order to get into my break room at work, I had to shove against an atmosphere pressing against my body with a force of fourteen pounds per square inch, a body which, according to science, constitutes a physical-chemical system, with the particular structure that exhibits itself in a nervous system and cortex-brain. This physical body lives approximately 70 years, dies, and then breaks down into constituent parts—rots. While I’m alive, though, I am presented with voluminous products for use and consumption, and if I am able to invent or market a product that everybody wants, then not only will I be able to go to Florida, I will also be able to buy Florida, or at least Disneyland. But, enough said about the blue quadrant; it’s depressing to note that many intelligent people never get beyond the blue quadrant, i.e. see everything as a by-product of the blue quadrant. (To be continued after next blog)

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