May 8 2018 – “The Mega Instinct” by Richard W. Symonds [unfinished]

“The Mega Instinct” by Richard W. Symonds

BY

RICHARD W. SYMONDS

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THE MEGA INSTINCT

 

THE MEGA INSTINCT AS 7 MEGA VALUES CORRESPONDING WITH 7 MEGA MOTIVATIONS

The Mega Instinct is to be conceived as 7 Mega Values corresponding with 7 Mega Motivations. The Motivations derive their meaning from the Values, and receive their explanation in terms of the Values. 

TRANSCENDENCE – IMMANENCE

The relation between the 7 Values and 7 Motivations is one of transcendence and immanence.

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The 7 Values are both other than and independent of the 7 Motivations, and they are also present in the 7 Motivations; they express themselves in them, and make them to a considerable extent what they are.

THE MEGA INSTINCT

The Mega Instinct is more than the sum of the Values and Motivations upon whose correspondence [and combination] it supervenes.

But suppose that to think of the Mega Instinct as resulting from the concurrence of the 7 Values and 7 Motivations was misleading from the first.

Suppose that the Mega Instinct is logically prior and that the Values and Motivations derive from it, in the sense that it is in the Values and Motivations that the Mega Instinct expresses itself and finds its embodiment.

At first, in the bodily part…A man’s nature…is thought to be expressed in his smile…Or a man’s nature is expressed in, and is deductible from, a grooved forehead and lines about the eyes; the eyes, we say, are the windows of the soul…

It is expressed, secondly, in his psychological life. His moods, tempers, hopes and fears are all, psychology teaches, expressions of a certain type of nature. They do not constitute the nature, they are the ways in which it shows itself.

All these are ways of expressing the truth that the Mega Instinct is immanent within the 7 Values and 7 Motivations, immanent in the bodily behaviour and immanent in the psychological moods. The Values and Motivations are what they are because of their relation to one another and to the immanent whole which expresses itself in them. It is hard to think of the the Values and Motivations as existing separately from the informing Mega Instinct, in so far as they can be conceived of as doing so, they would, it is obvious, be different in isolation from what they are in the context of the Mega Instinct.

THE SOUL

Christianity regards the whole which I have been calling the Mega Instinct as an immortal soul which will survive the break-up of the body, even if it did not precede its formation.

If this is true, there is a sense in which the Mega Instinct is more than its expressions both in the values and in the motivations, so that besides being immanent, it is also transcendent.

THE TRANSCENDENCE – IMMANENCE RELATION

The relation of the Mega Instinct’s 7 Values and 7 Motivations is a relation of this kind.

 

THE HYPOTHESIS – MAN AS THREEFOLD

I venture to develop the hypothesis that there is included in the make-up of the Mega Instinct a timeless element. 

The hypothesis in question is as follows.

The traditional division of the human being is not twofold into mind and body, but threefold into mind, body and soul (or spirit).

I suggest that this traditional division may approximate more closely to the truth than any other.

THE SOUL (OR, SPIRIT)

The soul (or spirit) is the seat of the Mega Instinct, is, in fact, the essential self and is timeless.

In fulfilment of a purpose it is incarnated in a body, or, perhaps, in a number of successive bodies, and so intruded in the time order for a definable period or periods of time,

The soul (or spirit) so conceived is analogous to what the Hindus call the Atman, with the exception that, as Christianity has always insisted against Hinduism, it is inalienably individual. Its individuality, that is to say, is not merged after death in a sea of universal consciousness, but sustains immortality without losing its individuality.

The soul is normally inaccessible to us but I conceive that in certain psychological conditions the soul rises, as it were, into consciousness , or, more precisely, our normal everyday consciousness penetrates on occasion through to the soul.

i should suppose, though I speak without experience, that it is the soul which is the recipient of mystical experience; also, I imagine, of certain kinds of aesthetic experience. One does not, for example, have to be a mystic to respond to Charles Kingsley’s rhetorical question, “Have you not felt that your real soul was imperceptible to your immediate vision except in a few hallowed moments?”

Kingsley has just been describing the nearest thing to mystical experience of which most of us are capable or with which most of us, at any rate, are acquainted, namely, certain moments of transport or tranquillity that we enjoy in our intercourse with nature. His account so closely corresponds with my own experience that I venture to quote it “When I walk in the fields, I am oppressed now and then by with an innate feeling that everything I see has a meaning, if I could but understand it. And this feeling of being surrounded with truths that I cannot grasp amounts to indescribable awe sometimes.”

The concept of the soul, as I am seeking to describe it, obviously answers in certain respects to some psychologists’ descriptions of the unconscious. In certain respects but not in all.

The soul, as here conceived, has not, for example any affinity with the sexually pervaded unconscious whose denizens, the ‘libido’, the ‘id’ and so on dominate the thinking of the Freudian psycho-analysts.

Thete are, however, two respects in which what psychology, and notably Jungian psychology, has to tell us about the soul, tallies with what I am attempting here to convey.

First, the soul is the source of genius and the medium of inspiration. I have often been struck by the fact which has never, as far as I know, received adequate comment, that the spheres in which the infant prodigy appears are three and three only, namely music, chess and mathematics. It is significant that none of these spheres derives its material from life. What I would suggest is that children of outstanding capacity in these spheres bring something with them into this world, that this something has its origin and abiding place in what I am calling the soul and that, as experience of life at the ordinary level of consciousness accumulates, the soul and its precious inheritance is increasingly overlaid so that the gifts of the prodigy fade as adolescence approaches.

Secondly, it may be that the subconscious essence or foundation of our personality which I am identifying with the soul, is in touch with a something ‘more’. If there are higher spiritual agencies at work in the world, agencies which touch and quicken us, enriching us with what we call our gifts in inspiration and responding to our solicitations in prayer, their point of contact and communication with us, the point at which, as it were, they touch us, is the soul.

My view that this region is normally inaccessible to consciousness is consistent with the well known fact that we are often unaware of the sources of our inspiration and ignorant how the healing and strengthening influences that bear upon us when, as we say, our prayers are answered, do their work.

i am suggesting that the soul, which is normally an inaccessible region of our personality, is not only the medium, but the necessary medium through which this work is done.

God, to use the language of religion, influences man through his soul. The soul, then, is the vehicle of God’s immanence. It is that in respect of which we are, if not divine, at least in contact with the divine.

Thus, it is only when the hubbub of ordinary life and consciousness dies down that  as the Bible has it, the still small voice of God can make itself heard, heard that is to say, by the soul of which at the moment of being influenced, but only at that moment, we are conscious.

The phenomena of spiritual healing and spiritual regeneration are also most plausibly to be explained on the assumption that God, in response to prayer, acts upon us through the soul to heal the body and strengthen the mind.

THE MIND (OR PSYCHE)

Mind is brought into being in consequence of the contact of the soul with the natural, temporal order, which results from its incorporation in a physical body. It is brought initially into being in the form of ideas. More precisely, ideas emerge on the combination of soul with body much as water emerges on the combination of oxygen and hydrogen, and it is the cluster of these emerging ideas which constitute a mind.

Since a mind comes into existence as a by-product of the soul’s incarnation in matter, its existence is temporary only. Moreover, it is not in the mind that the unity of the person resides, so that the arguments advanced by Hume and later by William James, against the conception of the substantial or united self, arguments which at the level of psychology it is extremely difficult to rebut, are beside the point, seeing that the unity of the self resides elsewhere, resides, in fact, in a region which is normally inaccessible to consciousness.

THE ‘BUNDLE’ THEORY OF THE MIND

To put the point in another way, soul or spirit, when brought into contact with matter by incarnation in a body, expresses itself initially in a succession of ideas. A mind is simply the bundle of ideas which constitute it at any given moment. Hence ideas are primitive and mind derivative.

SUMMARY

These various suggestions all pre-suppose a particular view of the relation between the mind and the body or, as I would prefer to put it, between the soul and the body. The relation in question is a particular case of the general transcendence-immanence relation which, I am suggesting, constitutes a more fruitful explanatory hypothesis of the phenomena of the material world.

In brief, I am suggesting that the individual soul, or spirit, transcends the body in the sense of bmeing other than it, of being independent of it and in all probability of surviving it. It is, nevertheless, immanent in the body in the sense that for a limited   period and no doubt for a special purpose the soul is incarnated in matter.

How this comes about, and what the resultant relation between soul and body could be, might be explicable in terms of quantum theory. But, if the transcendence-immanence relation is devised by a divine mind, we may never know.

The incarnated soul expresses itself in ideas; these ideas cluster in bundles and are known to us under the name of mind or consciousness, whose interaction with the body constitutes our nornal mode of conscious experience.

The closeness of the clustering varies from one individual to another, and ideas may become detached from the bundle to which they normally belong and associate themselves temporarily with other bodies and brains and even with non-cerebral matter.

It is in this tendency of ideas to wander, as it were, from the cluster to which they normally belong that the more plausible explanation of many super-normal phenomena is likely to be found.

PLATO’S FORMS AND VALUES

It will have been quickly apparent to those familiar to philosophy that arguments used from time to time…have a Platonic flavour, nor is it dificult to see that the two-level structure of the universe…and in particular the transcendence-immanence relation between the two levels of reality, is conceived fairly closely on Platonic lines…the Forms belong, as Plato holds that they do, to a supernatural world, more particularly if…what we call the Values – and it is under this term that the Forms may, I think, be most appropriately referred to in respect of their most outstanding manifestations as Truth, Goodness and Beauty – are the modes of God’s revelation of His nature to man.

For if that is, indeed, the case, the relation must be regarded as the immanence of a transcendent Being in a medium which, though it manifests, is itself other than, the Being manifested.

Now, we cannot, I suggest, expect to achieve a ‘know-how’ of the mode of manifestation of a Divine Being…although quantum theory may provide valuable insights.

VALUE AND FACT

Proclaiming the existence of the values of Truth, Goodness and Beauty, thinkers have…unduly emphasised their apartness from and transcendence of the familiar world. The invisble world of values has floated like an impotent mirage above the solid world of moving matter. Thus, the world of values was dismissed as being merely abstarct, a figment of thought or a refuge from the vulgarities and deficiencies of the world of fact. The values, in short, were the philosopher’s version of’pie in the sky’. That they are transcendent is, indeed, the case, for they are…the forms under which God permits Himself to be revealed to man. ‘In ultimates,’ as Goethe said, ‘we see God.’ But they are also immanent.

GOODNESS

Consider, for example, the value Goodness…goodness is not only transcendent but immanent, being the source of that in us which aspires after greater goodness – a point, this, which Plato was surely trying to bring out when he spoke of the individual soul as not only modelling itself upon the Form of goodness as its exemplar, but also partaking of it in the sense that the soul was the medium of the Form’s manifestation.

As with Goodness, so with Beauty; it is the presence of beauty in works of art which causes them to have value. Consider a picture…It is not, unless and until it becomes immanent in matter, that the artist’s ‘idea’ achieves value. Yet the idea transcends the matter in which it finds expression. ‘Hamlet’ would still be a play even if there were no books to print it in, or actors to speak the lines…

THE VALUES OF SCIENCE

The transcendence-immanence formula for the relation of value to fact can also be applied to the values of science – especially quantum theory. For science, too, has its values – coherence, for example, order, relation, even elegance and that canon of economy which, given tow or more hypotheses, each of which covers the facts, prescribes the choice of the most economical. These are truly values in the sense that their discovery and establishment may be said to constitute the end at which the scientist aims. having established them, he formulates them in laws which purport to determine the behaviour of phenomena not immediately under his observation, and to predict the behaviour of phenomena which have not yet occurred…

These, then, which are the ‘values’ of scienc, are not imposed by the scientist but are presented in the phenomena which the scientist studies. What is more, they are discovered as presented. In other words they are immanent; but since no particular configuration of matter on any particular occasion exhausts them, they are also transcendent. Thus, the world studied by science cannot be reduced without remainder to material particles in motion. It contains also non-material laws which the particles obey, and these non-material laws constitute the values of science.

GOD AND THE WORLD

I would suggest that the various examples I have considered are paralleled by the relation of God to the world, a relation of which they constitute special cases. I do not want to stress the analogy between God and the artist to the point of asserting a metaphysical dualism, yet there is much in the universe to encourage us to think of God’s creation after the same fashion as that of the artist.

Genesis, no doubt, tells us that ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’, created them, that is to say, not as the artist creates in a subject matter which precedes and is other than his creation, but created them out of nothing. Nevertheless, granted the prior existence of the subject matter, whatever its origin [Note 1 – I suggest a logical and, perhaps, a chronological priority for the creation by God of the brute material stuff of the universe], the mode of God’s subsequent creativity would appear to illustrate the transcendence-immanence formula. The Incarnation of Christ, whereby the Word was made flesh would, on this view, be no more than a particular and extreme case of such creative immanence.  

God’s relation to the world, in so far as it is a relation of immanence, would also typify the other stances of the transcendence-immanence relation at which I have glanced in respect of the fact that the method of the ‘entering in’ is unknown to us and will presumably remain so. 

So, too, with the Incarnation of Christ. We do not understand how it could have happened. If we did, it would not be a miracle, nor would the so-called miracles of Christ be miraculous. Yet if the general line is followed…the miracles are a particular case of the immanence of the divine in matter and we have, therefore, no right to expect them to be intelligible. At the same time we have no more right to dismiss them because they are not intelligible, than we have to write off the mind as a by-product of the brain, merely because its mode of interaction with the brain passes our comprehension…

THE SURD ELEMENT

I am suggesting, then, that the facts of experience may be most satisfactorily covered by the hypothesis that God and God’s creatures are not all, but there is also matter [the surd element – Ed], a brute, intractable stuff derived we know not whence – save that it, too, must have originally proceeded from God – and that our souls are emanations of the divine temporarily incarnated in matter…This might be explicable – to a considerable extent – in terms of quantum theory.

CONCLUSION, GOD AND THE WORLD

It is time to draw these scattered observations to a point.

I have sought to exemplify what I have called the transcendence-immanence relation in the relation of

mind to body…

forms to particulars…

value to fact…

the artist to his work, and

divine plan to human history

because these familiar problems seem to me to be less inexplicable  – I would put it no higher – in terms of this relation than in that of any other.

The relation of God to the world, I have suggested, also illustrates this relation. God is, in the first place, immanent. If He were not, we would have to reject the whole testimony of man’s spiritual experience according to which it is possible for us to make contact with a source of spiritual experience which, if we solicit its assistance by prayer, will help and strengthen us in the continual moral conflicts of which our lives here on earth are composed. The help and strengthening take the form of what we know as divine grace.

Moreover, unless God is immanent, we are left with the alternatives

(a) of a straightforward materialism which, if it admits spirit at all, treats it as epiphenomenal upon matter, or

(b) if we are prepared to admit the causal efficacy and partial independence of spirit, of envisaging the cosmos as a field in which a number of detached and isolated spirits originating we know not whence arbitrarily interfere with the movements of pieces of matter, either to no end at all – save that of perhaps their own self-satisfaction – or in pursuit of values which are themselves arbitrarily given, pieces of spiritual furniture which just happen to be lying about in the cosmos, their number being as arbitrary as their characteristics and the pattern of their arrangement, if any, which they constitute.

On the other hand, God cannot, I think, be wholly immanent for the reasons given…Briefly, they are that if God is wholly immanent;

(1) there is no even remotely tolerable explanation of the problem of evil.

(ii) it is impossible to set limits to God’s pervasion of the universe yet to assert that my toenail is also God, or part of God, seems to me to make nonsense of religion and to reduce the concept of God to meaninglessness.

Further, a wholly immanent God is fatally entangled in the death, whether from heat or cold, of the physical universe. But a God who is doomed to die with the world that he pervades is not the God of religious experience, nor is He a God whom man could worship.

If the transcendence-immanence relation be accepted, we cannot expect to comprehend its nature. One conclusion of great importance follows. If God created the world and is or may be immanent in it, it might be expected that He would from time to time intervene in its affairs, if only through the instrument of grace by means of which he works upon us. But it is also on this assumption quite reasonable to expect certain special interferences such as Christianity, with its record of the series of God’s mighty acts, affirms.

The culmination of these interferences, which is also the supreme expression of God’s immanence, is the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The transcendence-immanence conception also covers Christ’s miracles, which may be interpreted as interferences by the spirit with the behaviour of matter in unforeseeable and inexplicable ways. It may even, though their acceptance is by no means necessary to the truth of Christianity, be extended to explain the stories of God’s interventions in the Old Testament.

All these – the Incarnation, the miracles, even the Old Testament stories – would only be special and dramatically picturesque examples of the functioning of a relation which, if the conception developed…can be accepted, is normal and continuous, but which transcends our powers of comprehension.

 

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May 1 2018 – “Transcendence-Immanence and the Soul” – A Restatement of Joad’s Christian Philosophy” by Richard W. Symonds

BY

RICHARD W. SYMONDS

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TRANSCENDENCE AND IMMANENCE AND THE SOUL

 

TWO ORDERS OF REALITY

The universe is to be conceived as two orders of reality , the material order – matter – consisting of people and things moving about in space and enduring, and a non-material order – non-matter – neither in space nor in time, which consists of a Creative Person or Trinity of Persons from which the material order derives its meaning and in terms of which it receives its explanation. 

This non-material order is fully real in some sense that the material order is less than real; it is also perfect in a sense in which the material order is morally imperfect. The eternal reality which is the non-material order is related to the material order. The nature of the relationship depends at least in part upon the living human souls which are denizens of the material order.

TRANSCENDENCE – IMMANENCE

Of the many difficilties of this explanation, that which touches the nature of the relationship between the two orders has historically provoked the most damaging criticism…

Briefly, the relation seems to me to be one both of transcendence and immanence.

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The non-material order, that is to say, is both other than and independent of the material order, and it is also present in the material order; it expresses itself in it, and makes it to a considerable extent what it is.

THE PERSONALITY

The whole personality is more than the sum of the parts upon whose combination, according to the account given by the sciences, it supervenes.

But suppose that to think of the personality as resulting from the concurrence of a number of parts was misleading from the first.

Suppose that the personality is logically prior and that the parts derive from it, in the sense that it is in the parts that it expresses itself and finds its embodiment.

At first, in the bodily part…A man’s nature…is thought to be expressed in his smile…Or a man’s nature is expressed in, and is deductible from, a grooved forehead and lines about the eyes; the eyes, we say, are the windows of the soul…

It is expressed, secondly, in his psychological life. His moods, tempers, hopes and fears are all, psychology teaches, expressions of a certain type of nature. They do not constitute the nature, they are the ways in which it shows itself.

All these are ways of expressing the truth that the personality is immanent within the ‘parts’, immanent in the bodily behaviour, immanent in the psychological moods. The ‘parts’are what they are because of their relation to one another and to the immanent whole which expresses itself in them. It is hard to think of the the ‘parts’ as existing separately from the informing personality,; in so far as they can be conceived of as doing so, they would, it is obvious, be different in isolation from what they are in the context of the personality.

THE SOUL

Christianity regards the whole which I have been calling the personality as an immortal soul which will survive the break-up of the body, even if it did not precede its formation.

If this is true, there is a sense in which the personality is more than its expressions both in the body and in the psyche, so that besides being immanent, it is also transcendent.

THE TRANSCENDENCE – IMMANENCE RELATION

In my view, the relation of the two orders of reality, referred to above, is a relation of this kind. I propose to develop this view as it bears upon certain well-known philosophical issues, namely:

The Relation of Body and Mind

The Relation of Universal and Particular

The Relation of Value and Fact,

The Relation of God and the World

QUANTUM THEORY

Quantum theorists suggest movements of matter do not obey the material laws of physics, and such ‘spooky’ phenomena is better explained in terms of transcendence-immanence.

CONCLUSIONS

I draw  three conclusions, first, that life, mind, spirit and value cannot be adequately conceived in material terms as off-shoots of, or emanations from matter; secondly, that they are non-spatial; thirdly, that on both counts, science is disabled from giving an adequate account of them – except in terms of applied quantum theory.

Starting from these conclusions as premises, I propose to give some account of the relations between the two orders, or levels, of reality to which, in my view, spirit and mind on the one hand and matter on the other respectively belong…

I say that the relation of God to the world, of spirit to matter, and of mind to brain, is the transcendence-immanence relation which I began by trying to describe…

THE HYPOTHESIS – MAN AS THREEFOLD

I venture to develop the hypothesis that there is included in the make-up of the human personality a timeless element. 

The hypothesis in question is as follows.

The traditional division of the human being is not twofold into mind and body, but threefold into mind, body and soul (or spirit).

I suggest that this traditional division may approximate more closely to the truth than any other.

THE SOUL (OR, SPIRIT)

The soul (or spirit) is the seat of personality, is, in fact, the essential self and is timeless.

In fulfilment of a purpose it is incarnated in a body, or, perhaps, in a number of successive bodies, and so intruded in the time order for a definable period or periods of time,

The soul (or spirit) so conceived is analogous to what the Hindus call the Atman, with the exception that, as Christianity has always insisted against Hinduism, it is inalienably individual. Its individuality, that is to say, is not merged after death in a sea of universal consciousness, but sustains immortality without losing its individuality.

The soul is normally inaccessible to us but I conceive that in certain psychological conditions the soul rises, as it were, into consciousness , or, more precisely, our normal everyday consciousness penetrates on occasion through to the soul.

i should suppose, though I speak without experience, that it is the soul which is the recipient of mystical experience; also, I imagine, of certain kinds of aesthetic experience. One does not, for example, have to be a mystic to respond to Charles Kingsley’s rhetorical question, “Have you not felt that your real soul was imperceptible to your immediate vision except in a few hallowed moments?”

Kingsley has just been describing the nearest thing to mystical experience of which most of us are capable or with which most of us, at any rate, are acquainted, namely, certain moments of transport or tranquillity that we enjoy in our intercourse with nature. His account so closely corresponds with my own experience that I venture to quote it “When I walk in the fields, I am oppressed now and then by with an innate feeling that everything I see has a meaning, if I could but understand it. And this feeling of being surrounded with truths that I cannot grasp amounts to indescribable awe sometimes.”

The concept of the soul, as I am seeking to describe it, obviously answers in certain respects to some psychologists’ descriptions of the unconscious. In certain respects but not in all.

The soul, as here conceived, has not, for example any affinity with the sexually pervaded unconscious whose denizens, the ‘libido’, the ‘id’ and so on dominate the thinking of the Freudian psycho-analysts.

Thete are, however, two respects in which what psychology, and notably Jungian psychology, has to tell us about the soul, tallies with what I am attempting here to convey.

First, the soul is the source of genius and the medium of inspiration. I have often been struck by the fact which has never, as far as I know, received adequate comment, that the spheres in which the infant prodigy appears are three and three only, namely music, chess and mathematics. It is significant that none of these spheres derives its material from life. What I would suggest is that children of outstanding capacity in these spheres bring something with them into this world, that this something has its origin and abiding place in what I am calling the soul and that, as experience of life at the ordinary level of consciousness accumulates, the soul and its precious inheritance is increasingly overlaid so that the gifts of the prodigy fade as adolescence approaches.

Secondly, it may be that the subconscious essence or foundation of our personality which I am identifying with the soul, is in touch with a something ‘more’. If there are higher spiritual agencies at work in the world, agencies which touch and quicken us, enriching us with what we call our gifts in inspiration and responding to our solicitations in prayer, their point of contact and communication with us, the point at which, as it were, they touch us, is the soul.

My view that this region is normally inaccessible to consciousness is consistent with the well known fact that we are often unaware of the sources of our inspiration and ignorant how the healing and strengthening influences that bear upon us when, as we say, our prayers are answered, do their work.

i am suggesting that the soul, which is normally an inaccessible region of our personality, is not only the medium, but the necessary medium through which this work is done.

God, to use the language of religion, influences man through his soul. The soul, then, is the vehicle of God’s immanence. It is that in respect of which we are, if not divine, at least in contact with the divine.

Thus, it is only when the hubbub of ordinary life and consciousness dies down that  as the Bible has it, the still small voice of God can make itself heard, heard that is to say, by the soul of which at the moment of being influenced, but only at that moment, we are conscious.

The phenomena of spiritual healing and spiritual regeneration are also most plausibly to be explained on the assumption that God, in response to prayer, acts upon us through the soul to heal the body and strengthen the mind.

THE MIND (OR PSYCHE)

Mind is brought into being in consequence of the contact of the soul with the natural, temporal order, which results from its incorporation in a physical body. It is brought initially into being in the form of ideas. More precisely, ideas emerge on the combination of soul with body much as water emerges on the combination of oxygen and hydrogen, and it is the cluster of these emerging ideas which constitute a mind.

Since a mind comes into existence as a by-product of the soul’s incarnation in matter, its existence is temporary only. Moreover, it is not in the mind that the unity of the person resides, so that the arguments advanced by Hume and later by William James, against the conception of the substantial or united self, arguments which at the level of psychology it is extremely difficult to rebut, are beside the point, seeing that the unity of the self resides elsewhere, resides, in fact, in a region which is normally inaccessible to consciousness.

THE ‘BUNDLE’ THEORY OF THE MIND

To put the point in another way, soul or spirit, when brought into contact with matter by incarnation in a body, expresses itself initially in a succession of ideas. A mind is simply the bundle of ideas which constitute it at any given moment. Hence ideas are primitive and mind derivative.

SUMMARY

These various suggestions all pre-suppose a particular view of the relation between the mind and the body or, as I would prefer to put it, between the soul and the body. The relation in question is a particular case of the general transcendence-immanence relation which, I am suggesting, constitutes a more fruitful explanatory hypothesis of the phenomena of the material world.

In brief, I am suggesting that the individual soul, or spirit, transcends the body in the sense of bmeing other than it, of being independent of it and in all probability of surviving it. It is, nevertheless, immanent in the body in the sense that for a limited   period and no doubt for a special purpose the soul is incarnated in matter.

How this comes about, and what the resultant relation between soul and body could be, might be explicable in terms of quantum theory. But, if the transcendence-immanence relation is devised by a divine mind, we may never know.

The incarnated soul expresses itself in ideas; these ideas cluster in bundles and are known to us under the name of mind or consciousness, whose interaction with the body constitutes our nornal mode of conscious experience.

The closeness of the clustering varies from one individual to another, and ideas may become detached from the bundle to which they normally belong and associate themselves temporarily with other bodies and brains and even with non-cerebral matter.

It is in this tendency of ideas to wander, as it were, from the cluster to which they normally belong that the more plausible explanation of many super-normal phenomena is likely to be found.

PLATO’S FORMS AND VALUES

It will have been quickly apparent to those familiar to philosophy that arguments used from time to time…have a Platonic flavour, nor is it dificult to see that the two-level structure of the universe…and in particular the transcendence-immanence relation between the two levels of reality, is conceived fairly closely on Platonic lines…the Forms belong, as Plato holds that they do, to a supernatural world, more particularly if…what we call the Values – and it is under this term that the Forms may, I think, be most appropriately referred to in respect of their most outstanding manifestations as Truth, Goodness and Beauty – are the modes of God’s revelation of His nature to man.

For if that is, indeed, the case, the relation must be regarded as the immanence of a transcendent Being in a medium which, though it manifests, is itself other than, the Being manifested.

Now, we cannot, I suggest, expect to achieve a ‘know-how’ of the mode of manifestation of a Divine Being…although quantum theory may provide valuable insights.

VALUE AND FACT

Proclaiming the existence of the values of Truth, Goodness and Beauty, thinkers have…unduly emphasised their apartness from and transcendence of the familiar world. The invisble world of values has floated like an impotent mirage above the solid world of moving matter. Thus, the world of values was dismissed as being merely abstarct, a figment of thought or a refuge from the vulgarities and deficiencies of the world of fact. The values, in short, were the philosopher’s version of’pie in the sky’. That they are transcendent is, indeed, the case, for they are…the forms under which God permits Himself to be revealed to man. ‘In ultimates,’ as Goethe said, ‘we see God.’ But they are also immanent.

GOODNESS

Consider, for example, the value Goodness…goodness is not only transcendent but immanent, being the source of that in us which aspires after greater goodness – a point, this, which Plato was surely trying to bring out when he spoke of the individual soul as not only modelling itself upon the Form of goodness as its exemplar, but also partaking of it in the sense that the soul was the medium of the Form’s manifestation.

As with Goodness, so with Beauty; it is the presence of beauty in works of art which causes them to have value. Consider a picture…It is not, unless and until it becomes immanent in matter, that the artist’s ‘idea’ achieves value. Yet the idea transcends the matter in which it finds expression. ‘Hamlet’ would still be a play even if there were no books to print it in, or actors to speak the lines…

THE VALUES OF SCIENCE

The transcendence-immanence formula for the relation of value to fact can also be applied to the values of science – especially quantum theory. For science, too, has its values – coherence, for example, order, relation, even elegance and that canon of economy which, given tow or more hypotheses, each of which covers the facts, prescribes the choice of the most economical. These are truly values in the sense that their discovery and establishment may be said to constitute the end at which the scientist aims. having established them, he formulates them in laws which purport to determine the behaviour of phenomena not immediately under his observation, and to predict the behaviour of phenomena which have not yet occurred…

These, then, which are the ‘values’ of scienc, are not imposed by the scientist but are presented in the phenomena which the scientist studies. What is more, they are discovered as presented. In other words they are immanent; but since no particular configuration of matter on any particular occasion exhausts them, they are also transcendent. Thus, the world studied by science cannot be reduced without remainder to material particles in motion. It contains also non-material laws which the particles obey, and these non-material laws constitute the values of science.

GOD AND THE WORLD

I would suggest that the various examples I have considered are paralleled by the relation of God to the world, a relation of which they constitute special cases. I do not want to stress the analogy between God and the artist to the point of asserting a metaphysical dualism, yet there is much in the universe to encourage us to think of God’s creation after the same fashion as that of the artist.

Genesis, no doubt, tells us that ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’, created them, that is to say, not as the artist creates in a subject matter which precedes and is other than his creation, but created them out of nothing. Nevertheless, granted the prior existence of the subject matter, whatever its origin [Note 1 – I suggest a logical and, perhaps, a chronological priority for the creation by God of the brute material stuff of the universe], the mode of God’s subsequent creativity would appear to illustrate the transcendence-immanence formula. The Incarnation of Christ, whereby the Word was made flesh would, on this view, be no more than a particular and extreme case of such creative immanence.  

God’s relation to the world, in so far as it is a relation of immanence, would also typify the other stances of the transcendence-immanence relation at which I have glanced in respect of the fact that the method of the ‘entering in’ is unknown to us and will presumably remain so. 

So, too, with the Incarnation of Christ. We do not understand how it could have happened. If we did, it would not be a miracle, nor would the so-called miracles of Christ be miraculous. Yet if the general line is followed…the miracles are a particular case of the immanence of the divine in matter and we have, therefore, no right to expect them to be intelligible. At the same time we have no more right to dismiss them because they are not intelligible, than we have to write off the mind as a by-product of the brain, merely because its mode of interaction with the brain passes our comprehension…

THE SURD ELEMENT

I am suggesting, then, that the facts of experience may be most satisfactorily covered by the hypothesis that God and God’s creatures are not all, but there is also matter [the surd element – Ed], a brute, intractable stuff derived we know not whence – save that it, too, must have originally proceeded from God – and that our souls are emanations of the divine temporarily incarnated in matter…This might be explicable – to a considerable extent – in terms of quantum theory.

CONCLUSION, GOD AND THE WORLD

It is time to draw these scattered observations to a point.

I have sought to exemplify what I have called the transcendence-immanence relation in the relation of

mind to body…

forms to particulars…

value to fact…

the artist to his work, and

divine plan to human history

because these familiar problems seem to me to be less inexplicable  – I would put it no higher – in terms of this relation than in that of any other.

The relation of God to the world, I have suggested, also illustrates this relation. God is, in the first place, immanent. If He were not, we would have to reject the whole testimony of man’s spiritual experience according to which it is possible for us to make contact with a source of spiritual experience which, if we solicit its assistance by prayer, will help and strengthen us in the continual moral conflicts of which our lives here on earth are composed. The help and strengthening take the form of what we know as divine grace.

Moreover, unless God is immanent, we are left with the alternatives

(a) of a straightforward materialism which, if it admits spirit at all, treats it as epiphenomenal upon matter, or

(b) if we are prepared to admit the causal efficacy and partial independence of spirit, of envisaging the cosmos as a field in which a number of detached and isolated spirits originating we know not whence arbitrarily interfere with the movements of pieces of matter, either to no end at all – save that of perhaps their own self-satisfaction – or in pursuit of values which are themselves arbitrarily given, pieces of spiritual furniture which just happen to be lying about in the cosmos, their number being as arbitrary as their characteristics and the pattern of their arrangement, if any, which they constitute.

On the other hand, God cannot, I think, be wholly immanent for the reasons given…Briefly, they are that if God is wholly immanent;

(1) there is no even remotely tolerable explanation of the problem of evil.

(ii) it is impossible to set limits to God’s pervasion of the universe yet to assert that my toenail is also God, or part of God, seems to me to make nonsense of religion and to reduce the concept of God to meaninglessness.

Further, a wholly immanent God is fatally entangled in the death, whether from heat or cold, of the physical universe. But a God who is doomed to die with the world that he pervades is not the God of religious experience, nor is He a God whom man could worship.

If the transcendence-immanence relation be accepted, we cannot expect to comprehend its nature. One conclusion of great importance follows. If God created the world and is or may be immanent in it, it might be expected that He would from time to time intervene in its affairs, if only through the instrument of grace by means of which he works upon us. But it is also on this assumption quite reasonable to expect certain special interferences such as Christianity, with its record of the series of God’s mighty acts, affirms.

The culmination of these interferences, which is also the supreme expression of God’s immanence, is the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The transcendence-immanence conception also covers Christ’s miracles, which may be interpreted as interferences by the spirit with the behaviour of matter in unforeseeable and inexplicable ways. It may even, though their acceptance is by no means necessary to the truth of Christianity, be extended to explain the stories of God’s interventions in the Old Testament.

All these – the Incarnation, the miracles, even the Old Testament stories – would only be special and dramatically picturesque examples of the functioning of a relation which, if the conception developed…can be accepted, is normal and continuous, but which transcends our powers of comprehension.

 

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[Source: “The Recovery of Belief – A Restatement of Christian Philosophy” by C.E.M. Joad – Faber and Faber 1952 – pp 182-283]

 

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March 24 2018 – “Rehabilitating Joad” – Philosophical Investigations – Thomas Scarborough

http://www.philosophical-investigations.org/2018/03/rehabilitating-joad.html

Monday, 19 March 2018

Rehabilitating Joad

Posted by Thomas Scarborough

“Poor Joad,” said the journalist John Guest, summing up the life of the late British philosopher on the BBC. The hapless C.E.M. Joad, who gained immense popularity on radio and TV, fell finally into disrepute and obscurity.

The Times of London, in its obituary, seemed to seal his final fate: “He had no interesting contribution to make as a philosopher.” Today, the dictionaries of philosophy would seem to confirm it. It is a rare dictionary in which we find his name.

Personally, I think that Joad was badly overlooked – perhaps because his very popularity detracted from his reputation as a serious thinker. Popularity was indeed, in a sense, what he wanted – not merely for popularity’s sake, but because his interest was to reach the “common man”.

Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad had two great and timely insights, writing at a time where philosophy was parting ways with ethics through the creeping effects of Hume’s fact-value distinction, and above all, through logical positivism. The recession of religion provided fertile ground for the same.

Firstly, he recognised that the problem of the time was the loss of ethics. Above all, he saw that philosophy had lost ethics, and would be impotent until it reclaimed it. In The Plight of Civilisation, written in 1941, Joad set out the problem like this:

“To an age governed by the stomach-and-pocket view of life and accustomed to demand of every activity proffered for its approval that it shall deliver the goods, understanding seems no doubt an inadequate object of pursuit. Yet something is, it is obvious, grievously wrong with our civilisation, and it is high time we set about the business of trying to understand what it is. Science has won for us powers fit for the gods, yet we bring to their use the mentality of schoolboys or savages.”

In his verdict, society was “grievously wrong”.  In spite of “powers fit for the gods”, men and women had lost their moral compass. Many people agreed with him then, and many surely still would today. Because, in every major area where it matters, it seems that we are in serious crisis: personal, political, social, and environmental.

With this in mind, Joad developed a unique approach to ethics – but it seems to have all but disappeared today. I needed to search far on the Internet to find what I had once read in books. Eventually, I found some of his texts in the Delhi University Library, but they were fragmented through erratic optical character recognition.

A widespread view of moral epistemology is that morality cannot be rationally grounded. Not only is it impossible to proceed from an “is” to an “ought” as Hume originally said. If we ask after the reasons why we do things – and the reasons which lie behind those reasons – ultimately we find that there is nothing there at all.

Not so, said Joad. Rather than finding nothing, we find everything. Joad innovatively turned the argument on its head. I read this first in his Guide To The Philosophy Of Morals And Politics of 1938 – however it runs through various of his works. Supposing, he said, that I take quinine for a fever:

“Quinine helps, in other words, to reduce fever; but why reduce fever? Because fever is a disease. But why not be diseased? Because health is better than disease. Why is health better than disease? At this point we may refuse to answer; we just see, we may say, that health is better than disease, and that is all there is to say about it. But in saying ‘we just see’ health to be better than disease, we are absolving ourselves from the necessity of saying why we see it to be so.”

It is at this point, he writes, that “we cease to give reasons and fall back upon the assertion ‘we just see’.” That is, when we ask after our motives, we may keep on pushing back the question, yet inevitably we reach a point where we throw up our hands and laugh. But now, he says, we are passing a judgment of “absolute, ultimate, and unique value.”

Yet we do not discover a void. Rather we discover the true axioms of ethics. On condition, that is, that we sift ultimate from penultimate axioms – over which Joad himself took great care.

This view seems to me to be unique. It seems to me to meld reason and value, scepticism and realism. It differs from ethical intuitionism, empiricism, rationalism, pragmatism, and various other views – and for its perspicacity would seem to make Joad deserving of a place on the philosophical map. I believe that he identified and addressed the most profound philosophical issues of his and our day, and did so originally and creditably.


For further reading:
Return to Philosophy (1935)
Guide to the Philosophy of Morals and Politics (1938)

5 comments:

Martin Cohen said…

I’m not sure that there really is an infinite regress of explanations. Isn’t the issue about going back to a point where either there is a contradiction in your own views, or the questioner agrees that they also share your reasoning?

Thomas Scarborough said…

It seems to me that Joad holds a moral universalism. Following his quote on quinine, he notes: ‘Most people would be prepared to make this judgment.’

With regard to infinite regress, it seems to me that Joad is in a stronger position than the crowd. The ‘crowd’ says, there is infinite regress — call it terminal regress — therefore it is ultimately vacuous. Joad would seem to say, there was something to it all along, so why say that the final step nullifies all the steps that got one there? To quote Joad (1938):

‘Are such [ultimate] statements, then, and are the judgments which underlie them untrue? It does not follow that they are.’

Keith said…

To preface, my observation is perhaps mundane. But when I read Joad’s quote about the effectiveness of quinine and the questions “But why not be diseased?” and then “Why is health better than disease?”, I grinned. My mind turned to how young children not infrequently lapse into doggedly questioning their parents, seeking — exhaustively but naturally craving, even — a satisfying explanation. I’m referring to that notorious series of ‘Why?’, ‘Why?’, ‘Why?’ questions that all parents learn, with a smile, to endure — at first offering sincere answers with attempted substance, but ultimately trying to close off the spigot of ‘whys’ with the lonely but definitive word ‘Because’. In their own unintentional, innocent way, aren’t young children, with their never-ending ‘whys’, engaging in what one might call ‘infinite regress’ in search of original explanation? And in their own way, aren’t parents, with their eventual, exasperated declaration of ‘because’, engaging in what one might call ‘universalism’, even if only circuitously so?

Martin Cohen said…

I agree with Keith that there is a childish side to the debate. When we ask a question, we use language and hence we have already accepted a whole host of rules and assumptions. To then use language to pretend that we accept nothing is contradictory. For example, someone might say an elephant weighs more than a mouse, to which the questioner says ‘why’, we say because it is composed of many more atoms, to which they say what about a cloud, etc etc… “Equivocation”. But more is greater than less, might be the assumption. To which the ‘why’ response, although possible, is somehow disonest.

Tessa den Uyl said…

Thank you Thomas for letting me know Joad, of whom I had never heard before. Reading the suggested readings below, still this comment draws on what you gentleman have written here (and might be out of place).

Not completely understanding the why’s regress that Keith mentions, and together with Martin’s acceptance of assumptions, isn’t the question if health is better than disease something more than just a yes or no or because? Without disease we cannot look for cure or the cause, then are we sure about the cause that we think to be the cause, and is disease not important for various reasons, to learn about biology, science? Psychologically, disease shows us various aspects about life that might change our view on life. From more points of view disease is important to us, and not only something to avoid. What I do not understand then, is the childish question in regard. Health would be worth nothing without disease or vice versa, we grow healthy because of disease but until this day, this does not mean we understand what health and disease actually are, we only decided to understand this within a set of presumptions, and should we stop there? If there is dishonesty to the why question, like you mention Martin, that is only when an assumption stops to be questioned, or not? Is that childish?

Robert Blatchford [1851-1943] of Horsham

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Blatchford

“I am convinced that…they will be plunged into war without their will. I like Germany; I like German cities; and I like the German people. But I believe that the rulers of the German people are deliberately and cynically preparing to hurl them into a wicked and a desperate war of conquest…The Germans cannot prevent that war, because they do not believe it is coming. The British could prevent that war if, before it is too late, they could be really convinced that it is coming. That is why I want to convince them that war is coming, because I want to prevent that horrible war”

~ Robert Blatchford

Nonagenarians make special visit to Joad Exhibition in Arundel Museum

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Brian and June Plummer pictured here with Jane

Brian and June Plummer, from the village of Barby near Rugby, made a special visit to the Joad Exhibition in its final week – on Wednesday afternoon, April 19.

Brian, aged 92, is one of the few still alive who saw C.E.M. Joad ‘in action’ on a Brains Trust event in 1946. He read about the Exhibition in the Daily Mail and wanted to make a special visit.

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“Recovery of Belief – A Restatement of Christian Philosophy” by C.E.M. Joad [Faber & Faber 1952]

http://www.solasmagazine.com/matters-of-life-and-death.html

SOLAS MAGAZINE
By DAVID ROBERTSON
Welcome to the fifth issue of Solas, the magazine that continues to grow and develop! This month, we have the usual range of articles, from politics and ethics, to arts and culture. The main theme is on bioethics, which for some people, at first glance, might not seem all that important until you realise that it really is a matter of life and death.
Recently, I have been reading a fascinating old book by the atheist philosopher-turned-Christian, C.E.M Joad, The Recovery of Belief (published in 1952). He asserts that the “progressive” atheistic view of humanity results in an arrogance and hubris that will inevitably be self-destructive. “Having raised himself by dint of his own efforts from the level of the animals, he will probably continue to evolve into something greater than himself (Nietzsche, it will be remembered, was still praying of the Superman). Man, in fact, is the highest expression of the spirit of the universe, a spirit which will one day, if it has not done so y et, raise itself in and through his agency to the level of the divine. God, in fact, as Alexander suggested, is waiting to be evolved by man’s efforts. When he arrives, he will be man’s handiwork and man’s descendant.”

It has ever been thus.
It is a short road from the temptation of the devil in the garden – “you shall be as gods” – to the modern arrogance of a humanity which thinks we are the top of the evolutionary tree and can only get better.
Joad became a Christian after observing the inhumanity of humanity in World War Two. The horrors of that war were caused and facilitated by philosophies which believed in the inevitable progress of humanity, the bankruptcy of religion and the emergence of Superman. Another atheist philosopher, John Gray, cites Lewis Namier: “Hitler and the Third Reich were the gruesome and incongruous consummation of an age which, as none other, believed in progress and felt assured it was being achieved.”

After both World Wars, that turn-of-the-century confidence in the inevitable goodness and progression of humanity took a hit. But it appears that as we move on we forget our history and so seem doomed to repeat it. Christians are the ultimate humanists because we recognise that humanity without God becomes inhuman. As humans exchange the glory of the God in whose image we are made, for the lie that we shall be as gods, we end up as dehumanised animals.

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