Wednesday, 1 September 2004

Personhood and Freewill (2004)

From The Philosopher, Volume LXXXXII No. 2 Autumn  2004


PERSONHOOD AND FREEWILL
Ockham’s Razor and a Revival of the Introspective Argument

By Sharon Kaye

There is a disturbing movement afoot in contemporary philosophy. It is common for philosophers to argue that free will is a natural illusion, by which they mean that belief in free will is a product of evolution. Human beings, they seem to say, believe they have free will, not because this belief is true, but only because it is a useful survival strategy.

Let us call this view 'evolutionary determinism', and let its proponents grant that the sensation of free will is central to human consciousness. In our every waking moment we regard ourselves as agents with choices about what to think and what to do. For any given plan of action, we believe we could do otherwise. Without this conviction we could not function in a fully human way. Even the determinists themselves, who allegedly know they do not have free will, cannot stop believing they do. According to them, the belief is just as inescapable as it is mistaken.

But evolutionary determinism is disturbing because it undermines the possibility of self-knowledge and therefore personhood. How can we claim to be aware of ourselves as selves when we are so fundamentally deceived about what we are? People on the street claim to know of the existence of free will by examining their own experiences from the inside, what philosophers call 'introspection'. Despite its commonsense appeal and despite its role in shaping the tradition of metaphysical libertarianism, the introspective argument for free will has all but disappeared from the current debate and is widely regarded as a dead horse.

I endeavour here to restore confidence in self-knowledge, and hence in personhood, by reviving the introspective argument. In so doing, I turn back to one of its earliest and most committed defenders, William of Ockham. The determinist relies on Ockham's razor to justify the elimination of free will, but I will argue that this constitutes an abuse of the 'razor' and that the determinists have misrepresented the introspective argument as an argument from feeling.

Ockham's razor, the principle according to which the simpler theory is more likely to be true, is the lynchpin for the determinist's argument against free will. Since the long string of biological and environmental causes presupposed in the theory of natural selection is sufficient to explain everything human beings do, there is no need to posit free will.

Understanding Ockham's libertarianism requires a closer look at his razor. He himself, after all, was a thoroughgoing libertarian, despite the popularity of various versions of determinism in his day. The principle of simplicity was just as controversial in the Middle Ages as it is now. The crux of the dispute, in my view, depends on one's epistemological orientation. Rationalists often find the principle objectionable because they hold that true knowledge is certain. Certainty is an ambitious standard that is liable to require a complex theoretical support. Empiricists, in contrast, typically embrace some version of the razor.

Satisfied with probability in lieu of certainty, they begin with a large quantity of raw data about reality - as complex as you like. They use the razor, not to simplify the data, but to find the simplest possible explanation of the data. Everything observed must be explained through hypotheses and there should be no more hypotheses than absolutely necessary for a complete explanation. The rationale is that each individual hypothesis is a liability: no matter how benign it may seem, it carries the possibility of falsehood. The less possibility for falsehood in a theory, the more likely it is to be true.

Ockham was also an uncompromising empiricist. This is nowhere more evident than in his argument for libertarianism. He writes:
The thesis in question cannot be proven by any argument, since every argument meant to prove it will assume something that is just as unknown as or more unknown than the conclusion. Nonetheless, the thesis can be known evidently through experience, since a human being experiences that, no matter how much reason dictates a given thing, the will is still able to will that thing, or not to will it, or to will against it.

Opera Theologica IX [Joseph C. Wey C. S. B. (ed.), St. Bonaventure N.Y.: Franciscan Institute, p. 88]
Ockham regards the existence of free will in the same way most of today's empiricists regard the existence of the external world: it is the unproven and unprovable given upon which his entire philosophy is constructed. And Ockham fails to see any conflict between libertarianism and simplicity. In his view, the prospect of razoring free will never even arises because it is something we directly experience within ourselves. The razor does not permit us to simplify the raw data of reality; rather, it requires us to adopt the simplest explanation of everything we observe. In Ockham's estimation, libertarianism meets this requirement perfectly. His argument is a medieval empiricist version of what is today known as the introspective argument for libertarianism.

In the twentieth century, however, determinists represented the introspective argument as an argument from feeling. According to them, when human beings claim to have free will what they mean is that they feel as though they are able to do other than they do. But to construe free will as a feeling is to commit something of a straw man attack on libertarianism.

There is no reason to suppose subjective psychological states tell us anything about the structure of reality. My 'feeling watched' does not warrant me to posit a stalker. My 'feeling persecuted' does not prove that someone is persecuting me. My 'feeling lucky' does not make me any more likely to win. These feelings are subjective psychological states.

My feeling pain, in contrast, does make me likely to have some sort of injury. This is because, properly speaking, we do not feel pain, we experience pain. The fact that pain can be observed only introspectively does not make it a subjective psychological state. Likewise for free will.

Significantly, Ockham never appeals to feeling in his defence of libertarianism; he builds his introspective argument upon a feature of reality that is objective despite the fact that it lies within the human person. At this point, one might worry that the feature in question will turn out to be a spiritual entity. After all, dualists cast the will as an immaterial component of the immaterial soul, something unobservable by definition. There is no call, however, to saddle Ockham with such an unempirical position. The objective foundation of libertarianism is ability.

An ancient Talmudic saying asserts that one could never know that one has an ability to do otherwise because no one has ever done it. It is quite right to suppose that it is impossible both not to do something and to do it. Nevertheless, experiencing an ability to do otherwise does not require actually doing otherwise any more than experiencing an ability to do anything requires actually doing it.

I submit the following example in support of this thesis. Suppose I am a runner. I run ten kilometres almost every day. I ran ten yesterday and the day before that. I am keenly aware that I have the ability to run ten today. I am aware of this ability even despite the fact that, on this particular occasion, I do not feel like doing it. Let us call my running ability my 'zill.' Do I need to exercise my zill today in order to know that my zill still exists? Of course not. Therefore, human beings can be directly aware of their abilities.

This example hypostatises the entity of the zill in order to show that the will is a parallel hypostasis. There is nothing especially mysterious about it. We get by in ordinary speech without ever referring to the zill while firmly believing in the existence of running ability. We could get by equally well without reference to the will while affirming the ability to do otherwise.

It might be objected that there is no direct awareness involved in my running example at all. Instead, I have made an inductive inference. A compelling response to this objection emerges, however, in the familiar phenomenon of amnesia. Amnesia is loss of memory due to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression, or illness. Studies show that many amnesiacs who cannot remember who they are or what they have done in the past, still know what they are able to do. If I suffered a blow to the head this morning rendering me unable to remember that I am a runner and that I have run ten kilometres many times, I may still know that I am able to run ten kilometres today.

It might still be objected further that human beings are notoriously inaccurate in estimating their own abilities. But regular error in this awareness is no more worrisome than regular error about what we perceive in the external world. Error is not a special problem for introspection. In fact, we should not expect introspection to be any more or less reliable than ordinary vision.

Socrates would argue that part of the purpose of philosophy is to exercise one's introspection so that, with practice over time, one might come to know oneself. Confidence in philosophy and in our ability to attain personhood through it requires the assumption that human beings can introspectively observe their own abilities. So, I have argued that we should take seriously the possibility that free will is not a natural illusion. We should take it seriously because our ability to claim a measure of self-knowledge necessary for personhood depends on it. If we are deceived about free will then we are deceived about our very nature as human beings. Although evolutionary determinists may insist that we are not deceived if we know that we are deceived, this is a logical contradiction. In order to know that one is deceived one must actually be deceived.

It could be said that since free will is an uncaused cause, being aware of it would be like being aware of the pink elephant that is not in the room. But philosophers are not entitled to dismiss an observation just because it does not make sense within a pet theory. If what I have argued here is correct, then the evolutionary determinist's case against free will abuses the principle of simplicity because it attempts to simplify the world rather than simplifying our explanation of the world. The razor is an empiricist principle that must take account of all objective features of reality--including that which is observed introspectively. Human beings introspectively observe free will, not as a feeling, but as an ability.



Address for correspondence: 

Dr. Sharon M. Kaye
Department of Philosophy
John Carroll University
20700 North Park Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio, 44118 USA 
 
Email: skaye@jcu.edu

Conflict, Tolerance and Hospitality (2004)

From The Philosopher, Volume LXXXXII No. 2 Autumn  2004


CONFLICT, TOLERANCE AND HOSPITALITY

By Marko Zlomislic

Philosophy is traditionally defined as the love of wisdom yet its history is full of conflict without resolution. Indeed, the history of philosophy can be read as a series of conflicts without any final resolution. Heraclitus showed the conflict at the heart of existence when he argued that War is the father of all. The mythologists would give their model and this would conflict with the pre-Socratic model who in turn conflicted with each other. By wanting to know the truth about the becoming of all things the pre-Socratics conflicted with the mythologists. Each of the pre-Socratics conflicted with each other over the arche or source and telos or end.

Socrates found his conflict with the Sophists and the State. Aristotle conflicted with Plato while the Renaissance conflicted with the various streams of Medieval thought. Rationalism conflicted with Empiricism and Kant with his transcendental idealism thought that he had achieved a resolution until Hegel showed this his philosophy was the only solution.

Reacting to Hegel, Marx and Kierkegaard each gave their answers. This pattern can be seen in our religious traditions which records the conflicts between the peoples of the Book. Traditionally the methods available for conflict resolution can be divided into those based on power and those based on dialogue.

The power or authoritative method of resolution reveals how the stronger side promotes its interests by the use of force. Within this model, using force would be the only method of resolving conflict. Our human history is full of examples of this type of conflict resolution. The next model resolves conflict based on a decision made by an authority. Here a third party makes a decision based on their judgment of the situation. In this model no consideration is given to the interests of the parties involved in the conflict. The model of arbitrage again involves a third party who hears both conflicting sides and finds a solution based on legislation. The next court model uses the law as a basis for its decision, which the conflicting parties are forced to accept and respect. The power or authoritative method of conflict resolution is based on force; both as the force of arms and the force of law. As such this model is not concerned with justice.

The first point is that the authoritative model of conflict resolution is lacking because it is not based on justice and as such, only engenders further conflict. The dialogue or non-authoritative model of conflict resolution includes the methods of facilitation, mediation, conciliation and negotiation. Facilitation from the Latin facilitare means to ease. The facilitator is seen as someone who will ease the communication between the conflicting parties until an agreement that is satisfactory to both sides is reached. Mediation from the Latin mediare means to divide in half. Mediation focuses on achieving an agreement that is satisfactory to both sides.

Conciliation, from the Latin conciliare, means to give, to call together or to overcome something together. A conciliator helps the conflicting parties find a mutual understanding that creates a harmonious psychological connection between them. 

Negotiation, from the Latin negotiare, means to carry on business or to continue transacting business. Negotiation resolves conflict by way of communication but is restrictive in nature insofar as it remains tied with economics. From the postmodern perspective, these models of conflict resolution lack the ethical resolution needed to navigate conflict. The question of how to resolve conflict rests precisely on the notion of resolve. 

Resolve means to unloose, to dissolve, to loosen, to perform the operation required, to become fluid. These definitions of resolve point us to Derrida's notion of dissemination and the resolute or faithful decisions that can be brought forth. Rather than relying on oversimplified models whose ethics have not lessened violence or whose calculations have led to unspeakable crimes against both the human and the animal Derrida brings us back to the complexity of our situation in the name of a radical responsibility. The responsibility and individuality proposed by the ancients and the moderns can no longer predominate. This is the first effect of dissemination. Responsibility and individuality are more complex than the tradition concedes.

The procedures of the ancients and moderns operated according to a certain protocol. From Plato to Kant, the forms or categories functioned according to the notion of capital or the head. With Plato, to make head-way that is to move from the conflict of the Cave towards the resolution of the Sun required a certain, oppositional and hierarchical protocol that was already fixed in advance. 

With Kant the categories of the mind provided another protocol as to how one should function in order to gain understanding. The starry skies above and the moral law within provided the convention. All protocols, conventions, formalities, standards, treaties, must give way under the effect of dissemination because of their rigid and corpse like nature. Dissemination reveals the excess that cannot be contained by oppositional or dialectical models of conflict resolution. Here no form, formalism, category or structure can help us to find a path through our difficulties. 

The modern notion of standard requires responsibility and hospitality to a set of rules that must be obeyed so that the resolution will already have been established. The standard or standardised doses of the ancients and modern pharmacies with their hemlock, prozac or the healing word of God were ways of soothing and smoothing out conflict. The well kept pharmacy follows the logic of the if/then which already determines the outcome of any event. Dissemination, on the other hand, brings us back to the complexity of the decision. The ancient and modern notions of conflict resolution have attempted to pin down the person. 

Dissemination produces a snag in that project. There is no such thing as a final analysis that can bring the result of relief. The notion of conflict resolution that has been practised thus far implies that we can have a clear and distinct picture of all the drives and desires within us and that these conflicting drives and desires can be mended through therapy, an exchange of bombs (bellum punitivum) or any form of covert activity (uti exploratoribus) practised in the name of 'doing the good for the God who is on our side'; suppressed through the use of pharmaceuticals and psychiatric advice; contained through the prison system or eliminated through capital punishment and wars of extermination (bellum internecinum). 

Here one needs to think of the tyranny at the heart of all religions who see God merely as a rewarder/punisher. What kind of decision, responsibility and hospitality can there be when knowledge can no longer be trusted? Even though we do have knowledge it will never be enough knowledge. Though we don't know how to proceed we must not succumb to improvisation which in a certain way feigns knowledge or gives the appearance of having knowledge when there is none to be found. Every event that requires a genuine decision will both rigorous and necessary. The rigor and necessity of the situation requiring a decision cannot adopt an 'anything goes' attitude. It requires both chance and rule; chance insofar as we don't know all there is to know and rule insofar as something must be done immediately. The decision demands immediate action within the difficulty that we find ourselves in. 

The ancient and modern positions fail to see how undecidability can allow there to be a more credible responsibility. In Perpetual Peace: A Philosophic Sketch, Immanuel Kant gives a number of articles for resolving conflict. His third article states, 'the law of world citizenship shall be limited to conditions a universal hospitality'. Kant recognises that hospitality is something grave, that it to say urgent and not just an inscription on the innkeepers door upon which a burial ground was painted. Hospitality for Kant means,
... the right of a stranger not to be treated as an enemy when he arrives in the land of another. One may refuse to receive him when this can be done without causing his destruction; but, so long as he peacefully occupies his place, one may not treat him with hostility.
Kant goes on to write that hospitality is:
... not the right to be a permanent visitor... a special beneficent agreement would be needed in order to give an outsider a right to become a fellow inhabitant for a certain length of time. It is only a right of temporary sojourn, a right to associate, which all men have. They have it by virtue of their common possession of the surface of the earth, where, as a globe, they cannot infinitely disperse and hence must tolerate the presence of each other.
While Kant's rich analysis of hospitality requires a separate treatment a number of points can be made here. First his notion that the human race can gradually be brought closer to a constitution establishing world citizenship is admirable, yet Kant ends his essay with the words, 'one cannot flatter oneself into believing one can approach this peace except under the conditions outlined here'. 

Arguably this statement is a call to further conflict because it does not treat hospitality in a radical manner.  Even if Kant is critical of those powers who 'make a great show of their piety... while they drink injustice like water', and 'regard themselves as the elect in point of orthodoxy', his notion of hospitality is limited because it is based on the modern virtue of toleration. Kant remains an enlightenment humanist and is hesitant to adopt the postmodern value of dispersion as dissemination even though he recognises it but immediately reduces its effects through the phrase, 'they cannot infinitely disperse'. 

In the Judeao-Christian tradition there is a commandment to be hospitable to strangers since one has been a stranger before. Deuteronomy5 tells the Israelites to remember that they were slaves in the land of Egypt and therefore should accept those that come to them as guests in an unconditional way. 

The second notion of hospitality comes from the prophets who urged a general openness to be shown to widow, orphan and alien. In Jewish families a place is kept free for Elijah who may or may not come. Hospitality keeps an empty space, an openness is open to the radically Other. In the New Testament letter to the Hebrews 13:2, there is a commandment on hospitality. 'Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it'. 

While these notions of hospitality are admirable and are admired by Derrida they still do not go far enough in the direction of the aporia. For Derrida hospitality has to do with responsibility towards the Other in their individuality and singularity. Derrida argues that we have to reconcile the demand for equality with the demand for singularity. This is an aporia. The question is how can we at the same time, take into account the equality of everyone and respect the heterogeneous singularity of everyone? 

This is the main question of conflict resolution. We cannot content ourselves with applying existing norms or rules but must make an absolute risk in every singular instant as if it were being made for the first time. These aporias or paradoxes are difficult to integrate into practice but responsibility, decision and hospitality cannot exist without them. The ancient and modern traditions have proceeded from the position of assured knowledge that has often been euphoric, free of contradiction and without aporia. Such assured knowledge is calculated and calculating. It is like a machine without responsibility and without ethics. For Derrida there is no decision, no responsibility and no hospitality without the test of the aporia or undecidability. 

This 'impossible' of which Derrida speaks is inseparable from the thinking of justice and from the unconditional hospitality that is required of us. Hospitality focuses on what is most urgent today and the most proper for the articulation of a political ethics of conflict resolution. The unconditional injunction for conflict resolution is: 'I have to welcome the Other' - whoever 'the Other' is, and unconditionally. For Derrida this means, without asking for a document, a name, a context or a passport. I have to open myself to the Other. I have to open my doors, my house, my home, my language, my culture, my nation, my state and myself. 

This unconditional hospitality is frightening and transgressive, but it takes us beyond the Judeao-Christian understanding of hospitality where we are hospitable because we may be entertaining Elijah or Angels or serving Jesus or dogmatically serving our parishioners. It takes us beyond Kant with his notion of restricted hospitality that says we should welcome the stranger or the foreigner to the extent that they are citizens of another country. 

Kant's concept of hospitality remains merely political in its reference to the state, the authority of the state, to citizenship and to the control of residency. If we decide that everyone will be able to enter my space, my home, my city, my country, my language then there is a chance that the worst may happen. Yes. But we must be open to the best and to the worst in other words to the human animal, or our hospitality will no longer be an unconditional injunction based on justice but a legal formulation. The aporia of hospitality says that we have to welcome the Other, the orphan, the widow, the alien. Without this there would be no hospitality. We must welcome without assimilation. To offer hospitality is to be aware that the other may ruin my space. Hospitality is therefore a risk which has to be negotiated at every instant. 

The decisions for hospitality or the best rules to follow have to be invented at every second with all the risks that this involves. Hospitality is the name for our relation to the Other. It is the very principle of ethics. It is and always has been grave and urgent. Seen in this manner conflict can be resolved if the Other is in his own home in the home of the Other (chez lui chez l'autre). 

Hospitality goes beyond invitation. With invitation we expect a guest to arrive without surprise. Hospitality requires absolute surprise. We are unprepared or prepared to be unprepared, for the unexpected arrival of any Other. Hospitality is the receiving or welcoming which has no power, protocol or law. It is an opening without the horizon of expectation where peace can be found beyond the confines of conflict. 



Address for correspondence: 

Dr. Mark Zlomislic
Professor
School of Liberal and Media Studies
Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
299 Doon Valley Drive
Kitchener, Ontario N2G 4M4
Canada

Korzybskian Realization (2004)

From The Philosopher, Volume LXXXXII No. 2 Autumn 2004


Ancient Wisdom, Modern Thinking
and the method of
Korzybskian Realization
 
By Ted Falconar



The notion of Realization (or 'seeing reality') came from the Buddha, if not rather earlier. Certainly Count Alfred Korzybski independently gained the same general idea from his study of the way Albert Einstein thought. I believe it is the greatest philosophical idea there has ever been.

But to explain it is a problem that has baffled Buddhists for 2,500 years, Korzybski for thirty to forty years and me, myself for some twenty years.

Yet the idea is very simple: in essence it is that after childhood we no longer use our senses fully. We recognise things cursorily and name them. We do not look really closely. A.H. Maslow, the author of Motivation and Personality, used the word perception for the way we should think, that is to say, that we should not try to recognise but instead to perceive. This was the main characteristic of what he called his 'higher' people - the self-actualised.

The Buddhist way of explaining the idea that is most familiar to those in the West, comes via the Zen philosophy of Japan, which itself came out of Chan (the same word) in China and Dhyan, the original Indian version. The method of Zen is to confront students with riddles called koans. The first was said to come from the Buddha. When asked what reality was he simply held a rose over his head and smiled. This meant that the rose has to be sensed, it is beyond words, it can only be known through the senses.

Most koans are nonsensical with the purpose of making students understand the limitation and unreality of words. One such of these paradoxical koans is called the Sound of the One Hand: In clapping the hands a sound is heard: What is the sound of the One Hand?

Alas, the results from this way of explanation are very poor, hardly any students have become 'Realized'.

The Tibetan method of teaching Realization is more rational and entails actual meditation in various states: Dharani, Samath and finally Samadhi. Respectively: absorption, tranquillisation and what D.T.Suzuki, author of Essays in Zen Buddhism, called 'earnest contemplation'. This last comes near to being Realization.

The importance of Buddhism in Tibet is that when Hinduism reasserted domination over Buddhism in India, there was a danger of elements of Buddhist teachings being lost, but the Tibetans faithfully transferred many such Buddhist teachings and safeguarded them.

I once listened to twelve lectures by the Rimpoche Samdhong who was the then Principal of the Centre for Higher Tibetan Studies at Sarnath, Benares. He told the group I was with that he had never helped anyone, yet Realization was the main subject he was teaching. It seems that it is a subject that cannot be explained rationally except to a very few people.

I myself went to India fifteen times, ten of them for three months each year to learn the method. It was only after about seven of these visits that I returned home and came across Korzybski's book Science and Sanity, and it suddenly all came to me.

In this book I read of the 'Structural Differential', [my illustration is at the foot of this article] that he had designed in a failed attempt to explain his system to John Dewey, the philosopher of education [and sometime contributor to The Philosopher - Ed.] and John Watkins, the Behaviourist at a symposium in New York. It came to me as a revelation. Korzybski explained that without using the 'Structural Differential', it was practically impossible to grasp this kind of non-Aristotelian thinking.

So what is the theory? What is Realization all about? Let me offer ten pointers.
1. When children learn words the joy of their childhood ends and the colours fade into a black and white world of words. Later many of them are bored, they want to get away on holidays, to be entertained and so on. Yet there is a wonderland all round them.

2. Words throw out senses, thus our senses, which are in touch with reality, are replaced by words that have nothing to do with reality. Korzybski called words a primitive language not even having the same structure as reality; only mathematics has the same structure as reality.

3. Visualization is the language of Reality for it mirrors reality; its pictures are of real things. Its written language is Higher Mathematics. It unmasks abstractions: words that are not about reality.

Mind you, even mathematics is not wholly accurate. Albert Einstein once said: 'As far as the Laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are uncertain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality'. Korzybski thinks, as he puts it, that: 'Visualization represents the most beneficial and efficient form of human "thought".'

4. Visualization is the most beautiful language. One of the greatest mystics, Kabir, said we must:
'... make our body a house of pictures'. We can make it what we will- a garden more magnificent than any physical garden or we can make it a hell. He visualized an Ocean of Pearls and made it his real home: his homeland. Visualization is the light of the mind.

5. The Indian Guru, Rajmeesh, wrote that senses are the doors of the body into the infinite. If we don't use them the body is a dungeon, moreover without visualization it is a dungeon without light. Examples of people using the senses are artists, poets and creative people who all sense and do not recognise or see similarities with other things. Artists teaching at an Art School were always saying to students LOOK AT THE MODEL. Students had their own idea in their minds of an arm leading to grotesque arms, they were not seeing reality: not seeing real arms.

6. Korzybskian thinking is not just useful for arts but for all life including everyday, practical matters like managing factories and so on (I myself used to manage one for Tetley Tea) and because by using it we force ourselves to see reality.

7. Love and its fading is caused by a change from an emotional and sense relationship to a verbal and intellectual one. Whereas animals never lose their ownersĂ­ affection because it is a sensing friendship not an intellectual one. This is a knowledge that can give a large benefit in human relations. Words act like a barrier but it is sensing and emotions including visualization, that lead to rapport.

8. Nothing is more rare than a truly original or first-hand idea. We are taught things, we read things, we see things on the Internet, we recognise things, we see resemblances between things. All this is second-hand. What is original and first-hand? You can go out into the first-hand universe and see or sense something in a new way like an artist. That is original.

9. Senses have been neglected. For instance in a survey of American men and women, it seems 80% of the former and 70% of the latter could not tell the difference between the four primary tastes : sweet, sour, salty, musty. It is as Aldous Huxley once wrote in the Doors of Perception, only drugs will induce a wonderful view of reality. Yet we do not have to take drugs, we can instead just cultivate the senses and sense reality. Reality truly is wonderful - a wonderland.

10. Finally, remember Korzybski studied the way Einstein thought. Creativity follows from Korzybskian thinking. H.D.Thoreau made his whole life a creative art. Every day he went out to look for beautiful ideas. He called his life his Elysium.
Of course, these ten points are not just for information but to be put into action: they must be experienced.

In Thoreau's Journal, all our senses are paraded: here are sound and sight and smell. The episodes all demonstrate Korzybski's way of the Structural Differential: Sense-Feel-Visualize-Verbalise. They may end in what is called 'Creative Rapture' or 'the Peak Experience' - which is the highest mental joy.

Thoreau's Journal entry of January 8, 1852:
I go forth each afternoon and look into the West a quarter of an hour before sunset, with fresh curiosity to see what new picture will be painted there, what new panorama exhibited, what new dissolving views. . . . Every day a new picture is painted and framed, held up for half an hour in such lights as the Great Artist chooses, and then withdrawn, and the curtain falls. And then the sun goes down, and long the afterglow gives light. And then the damask curtains glow along the western window. And now the first star is lit and I go home.
June 16 ,1852. An evening in Concord, New Hampshire:
A sultry night. A flute from a villager. How rare among men as fit a thing as the sound of a flute at evening! The sonorous note of bullfrogs is heard a mile off in the river, the loudest sound this evening. Ever and anon the sound of his trombone comes over the meadows and fields a-lulling all Concord to sleep -- Have not the fireflies in the meadow relation to the stars above, ETINCELANT? Do not the stars, too, show their light for love like the fireflies.
Etincelant: that is glistening, sparkling. Scents such as I remember in America. Alexander von Humboldt, while travelling on the Orinoco, wrote of Columbus approaching the New World:
The grateful coolness of the evening air, the ethereal purity of the starry firmament, the balmy fragrance of flowers wafted to him by the land breeze, all led him to suppose that he was approaching the Garden of Eden, the sacred abode of our first parents. The Orinoco seemed to him one of the four rivers, which according to the venerable tradition of the ancient world, flowed from Paradise to water and divide the surface of the earth, newly adorned with plants. 
 The sounds of nature, the songs of birds and noises of animals... Thoreau too wrote about those little flasks of music when he heard the Bobolink,

Journal, June 1, 1857.
It is as if he touched his harp within a vase of liquid melody, and when he lifted it out, the notes fell like bubbles from the trembling strings. . . . It is the foretaste of such strains as never fell on mortal ears, to hear which we should rush to our doors and contribute all that we possess and are. 
And I myself must describe his 'Coral Island music box':
In Bermuda I heard the sound of a pure and celestial flute in the night. It was bell-like in its clarity. I saw in my mind some magic bird, a nightingale of the Coral Islands. In the morning I found the flute player-a small green frog like an emerald brooch adorning a tree. I marvelled at it, a frog not even an inch long, no larger than a thumb nail. I knew then that it was more inspiring than if the sound had come from an Orphean bird. I saw this frog as a small jewel box, a matrix, in which pure notes of music were formed and cut as by a skilled diamond cutter and then released as glittering, crystalline jewels.
I have hardly written yet of taste and touch, the last the most neglected of our senses. Andre Gide wrote in his wonderful book The Fruits of the Earth (Nourriture Terrestre in the original, although a French man told me it seemed an inferior title to the English translation) of pomegranates that their flowers look made of wax:

They are coloured like the fruit.
Guarded treasures, honeycomb partitions,
Richness of flavour,
Pentagonal architecture.
The rind splits; the seeds fall
Crimson seeds in azure bowls
Or drops of gold in dishes of enamelled bronze.

 
Not only do we not read this with real understanding so that we can redeem our lives, but even Gide wrote in his Journal that he never regained the Rapture he felt while writing The Fruits of the Earth: surely a supremely sad admission.

What can we make of this? By using his senses in the creative way, Thoreau preserved his Elysium; Gide abandoned his for the intellectual world. Let us not think this entails a confrontation between the two approaches, however, using the senses is merely another dimension of our talents and facilities.

Our senses have been neglected for millennia, perhaps many millennia, though the worst of the neglect may have begun only with the printed word. Of these Touch seems to be the least used for art by modern humans. However Love must be the most universal experience of Touch, indeed it galvanises all our senses. But Robert Bridges' lovely poem: 'So Sweet Love Seemed' (unfortunately rather long for such an article as mine) tells us how love does not endure. These episodes show how we can use our senses for art and for our whole lives.

A friend once said that sense impressions are the raw material of art. More than this, our senses are our only direct contact with reality: if we don't make use of them, we are alienated from Reality - indeed we are alienated from everything.




Address for correspondence:


Ted Falconer
Clifton
Slieau Lewaigue
Maughold
Isle of Man IM7 1BG tahasafalconar@manx.net