Hyponoetics - Essays
 
Nature and Development of Transrational Thinking
Abstract: This essay discusses the dualism of subject and object and the kind of thought that is responsible for this schism of mind and world. Conceptual thinking is our everyday pragmatic thought that can be transcended by Paranoesis (Transrational Thinking). The latter is defined by a new kind of knowledge that stands over and against our common fragmentary knowledge. Complete knowledge is possible only if Paranoesis is applied. To develop Paranoesis a three-step procedure is discussed: a) emotional detachment, b) transcendence of conceptual thought, and c) identity of subject and object in Paranoesis (Transrational Thought).
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Whenever philosophers and thinkers of all ages discuss thinking, they always assume an object-subject relationship as being the intrinsic and necessary feature of thought or mind. There is on the one side the subject who thinks and on the other side the object of thinking, that which is thought of or about. I think that this subject-object schematism is arbitrarily or subconsciously projected upon the thinking process. By analyzing thought it is presumed that there must be an object of thought, otherwise thought would be empty and meaningless[1].

When I think of a table, what happens? Is there I, the subject and is there the table, which is the matter of my thought? That seems to be the most obvious explanation. Why? Because our experience of the world follows the same pattern of subject-object schematism. We experience the world as something ob-jected over against our being or the subject that we are. The hardness of the wood of the table we experience is something that does not belong to ourselves. It is thought of as a property of the table, independent of our status as human beings. We have an innate discriminatory faculty that tells us that there is a world outside of us, including other human beings, that is separated from ourselves. Although modern physics is not very supportive of this fact, we obstinately cling to this schismatic view of subject and object. There is no hardness in a table, hardness is not a basic and necessary property of the "table-ness", but is something we experience in our consciousness. It's our subjective interpretation of the sensations and perceptions of the world.

However, this subject-object pattern is of utmost usefulness for our daily life and the survival of the species homo sapiens. When it comes to the philosophical study of mind, we have to repudiate this primitive utilitaristic notion of everyday experience. Empiricism is a dead-end, a mental cul-de-sac. The ways of nature are not the ways of the mind, unless we identify both by mistake. I have, however, in various essays, pointed out quite clearly, that identification of mind and nature is not only absurd and illogical but defies our very mental experience. I introduce here a conceptual distinction between empiric and noetic experience. The former is experience of our sensations and perceptions and even emotions connected to sensations or perceptions, whereas the latter is the experience of our own consciousness and mind, or what is commonly called self-consciousness.

The act of projecting the subject-object schema on thinking determines the way we think. This means, our thinking is conceptual thinking, since only by creating an object in our mind do we create a concept. The concept is the direct outcome of subject-object schematism. Here again, we are referred to its usefulness. Conceptualization was the beginning of language. I do not deny the importance of conceptual thought at all, but I just do not accept that this kind of thought is the ultimate or only faculty of the mind. The way most of today's people think is not even indicative of the true nature of our mind. We are still in a primitive phase of noetic evolution. We are not yet fully developed human beings, especially not concerning our minds. By using conceptual thought we will never understand the true nature of mind. We have to transcend conceptual thought and thereby the subject-object schematism and attain a higher level of synthetic unity of both. Since mind is primarily unity, the subject-object dualism does not vindicate the truth of mind at all.

Paranoesis (Transrational Thinking), however, transcends this subject-object schematism. Subject and object are identical in Paranoetic Thinking. The subject is the object, and the object is the subject. I have to insert a caveat though: by identification of subject and object I do not refer to mystical experience, which claims the same. Mystical experience, as the expression denotes, is experience of a fundamental unity of the object and the subject, whereas Paranoesis is not an empiric experience of the unity, but a noetic "experience". It is not accompanied by an emotive Erlebnis (experience) of the unity, which transports the individual beyond actual space-time experience into a completely different world. The noetic "experience" of this unity stays within the mental realm of our mind. It is a higher experience of unity, because it understands the unity, whereas the mystic does not understand it. It surpasses her thinking, because she thinks conceptually. That's why the descriptions about this experience overflow with metaphors, analogies, and symbolic language. The mystic has not yet changed the way of her thinking to adapt her thought to her mystical experience. Furthermore, Paranoesis is not a stochastic occurrence as mystical experiences are. Once Paranoesis has been developed, it can be used anytime, anywhere. So, to return to this paranoetic unity of subject and object: I do not think of or about a table, but I think AS the table. This sounds pretty strange and absurd, because we are so thoroughly indoctrinated with this subject-object schematism that all talk of unity of subject and object seems to be abnormal or insane.

Mind as we know it, is mind adapted to nature, mind affected by and in the grip of nature's penetrating sovereignty. So long as we are subjected to this subservient obedience to nature, we completely misinterpret mind as it is per se. By overcoming the bondage and attachment to nature regarding our mind (NOT our body), we will be able to grasp the truth of mind. I do not claim here that we should absolve from our subject-object thinking entirely. That would mean a relapse into primitive thought patterns and may even be impossible. The evolution of thought throughout humanity is a necessary evolution and led to our modern world. We may doubt the scope of the beneficial effects of technocratic and rational thinking and even point out the current degeneration of culture and morality as issuing from post-modern rationalism, but all these developments have been necessary to constitute the philosophical basis for the further extension of our mind. By recognizing the limitations of rationalism, we may be enabled to usher in a new age, the age of Mind and embark on an exciting mental adventure, with an unlimited growth of our mental potentials, including the ultimate faculty of Paranoesis (Transrational Thinking). In a nutshell, all the preceding and current forms of thought are a substantive and indispensable process of mind's actualization of its true potentiality and essence. The unfolding of the truth of the mind is a gradual evolution, and we are still in the beginning. Current conceptual thinking is therefore most useful for living and survival and for science and technology as well, but it should not refrain us from developing the higher faculty of Paranoesis, latent in every human being as a supplementary way of thinking, providing us with the deepest insights into nature, Mind and the universe.

Paranoesis entails a new kind of knowledge. The knowledge we acquire in our ordinary life is referential knowledge and also ostensive knowledge. This knowledge is descriptive of features and facts that are observable and accessible to our empiric experience. It is always knowledge from "outside" of an object, about an object or process. This external knowledge is therefore never complete, but only admits of fragmentary knowledge. We never know all properties and factors of objects and processes but only a selective subset of particular ones. Attentive and selective processes of our consciousness monitor the amount and reliability of information reaching our sensory organs. Since our knowledge remains fragmentary and indirect (only via the sensory apparatus), we miss the big picture and fail to grasp the whole. Although we try to join our fragmentary views by inferential and logical instruments of reasoning, we still remain short of a holistic perspective. Since the relation and categorization of fragmentary views are something we arrived at not by mere experience, but only by deductive reasoning, we may err even in scientific or common-sense "truths". The method of modern science is the reverse of the method in the incipience of scientific thought. The method has changed from inductive to deductive reasoning, from empiricism to theoreticism. Today, first hypotheses and theories are developed before they are verified by experiments. The source for modern theories is not nature, but mind.

Fragmentary views also affect our actions and moral/ethical behavior. We act according to the knowledge we have of certain situations. If we lack certain facts we are said to be ignorant. For Socrates, ignorance was the greatest sin. He thought that knowledge of the good is sufficient to make a human being a morally good being. Socrates realized the importance of complete knowledge. But complete knowledge is not possible as long as we acquire our knowledge from the outside of the objects and processes. Transrational knowledge or Paranoetic Knowledge, on the other hand, is direct knowledge of the object-process, from "inside" the object, from its very nature. By thinking the object, we know the object as object, as it is, from its inner perspective. We have whole, paranoetic knowledge of an object or process. This almost seems to imply a blasphemic attitude, but it is just the logical conclusion of Paranoetic Thinking, of the unity of subject and object within our mind.

When we describe an object, e.g. a table, we can enumerate its visible properties, such as color, shape, material etc. From the material we can infer secondary properties as hardness, smell, color. Physics gives us another picture: the table is a quantum-physical field of vibrating particles. What is the reality? What we experience with our senses or the mathematical descriptions given by physics and sustained by experimental evidence? Neither! The truth of the table is not its appearance, its external properties, but its being (cf. Heidegger's fundamental ontology). The true nature of the table is identical with mind's being-for-itself. The being-in-itself of the object and the being-for-itself of mind are identical in Paranoesis. The true being of the object is only grasped by Paranoesis and not by referential knowledge. Conceptual and rational thinking use linguistic symbols as the representation of physical objects and processes. Symbols are the only available "facts" we have about reality. We are barred from direct experience of the object's truth, as long as we keep attached to our inured rational thinking, which is dependent on our language (cf. Benjamin Whorf). Paranoetic Thinking transcends not only conceptual thinking, but also language. This is true freedom of mind and here we have direct knowledge of reality, although this knowledge is not expressible by way of linguistic symbols or rational concepts as we know them. I discussed the problem of translationism elsewhere.

To explain these two different kinds of knowledge, I propose the following analogy. Keep in mind, though, that this is only a very rough and inaccurate analogy that only should help illuminate the ramifications and implications of Paranoetic Knowledge and Paranoetic Thinking.

We can judge the personality or character of someone in two ways:

1. By means of rational thought, that is, by describing her behavior, gestures, gait etc. and conclude from that to her character. Also from the way she speaks and what her views and ideas are, we may get some hints regarding her personality. As everyone can confirm from personal experience, this descriptive way of viewing and judging a person is not only prejudiced and biased in its approach, but often considerably off the mark. We have only fragmentary knowledge and the knowledge derived from clues of behavior is not conclusive or reliable at all, because we do not know the inner motives and reasons for a certain externally observable comportment. Also, the person we study, could deceive us deliberately.

2. Another way of knowing about the character of a person is, what is usually called Intuition or hunch or "feeling in the stomach". We know emotionally. Our feelings seem somehow to get in touch with the feelings of the other person. By means of sympathy or empathy we may acquire a more reliable and a more accurate knowledge of the elusive inner character of a person. Some people also are astute in recognizing typical forms of human behavior. They can interpret very subtle signs, such as looks, the emphasis or use of words, etc. From these almost imperceptible hints, they intuitively conclude to the true feeling behind these expressions. Everybody of us may have experienced both kinds of knowing and judging someone or something. Descriptive knowledge is predominant in our rational culture, where knowledge by "feeling" (emotive or empathic knowledge) is atrophied or maimed during our childhood.

My point with this analogy is that intuition is part of being a human being. Mind is the most important part of the human being and pure Mind is only obtainable to pure thinking, that is, Paranoesis. Again I have to remind of the important distinction between the term "intuition" as used by most of us in its degenerated meaning with an emotive connotation, and the term "Transrational Thinking", where "Transrational" has nothing to do with feeling or emotion. Transrationality, as I understand it, is direct knowledge of truth. It is not an empiric experience, which is limited to the physical performance of our senses and the conceptualization of our perceptive mind.

How can we develop the faculty of Paranoesis, latent in everybody of us? First of all we need to know what Paranoesis is all about. Once more, I emphasize that Paranoesis ought not to be confused with intuition as understood in the way it is usually used, meaning the same as "feeling" in the sense of hunch, anticipation. This faculty has instinctual roots in nature. Another connotation of intuition is its identification with a telepathic or precognitive, though primitive knowledge of what is going to happen. In any case, it is always related to some kind of emotion. Paranoesis is NOT emotional! It transcends feeling, because feeling is always attached to a body, whereas mind transcends corporeality (although mind depends for its actuality on the body, but not for its beingness). Even so-called psychic or inner feelings cannot be experienced or thought of without some interaction with the body. Thinking as such does not feel. Since Paranoesis is pure thinking, it is above and beyond any sort of feeling.

Therefore, the first step in developing Paranoesis is to transcend our attachment to and dependence on feelings. That does not mean to reject feelings in an ascetic or Stoicist manner, but to transcend them, to leave the capricious and transitory territory of emotionalism and to extend one's mind to a reality beyond that represents the true essence of humankind. The reality of emotions is not denied or abrogated, but only refined, edified and elevated. This purgative act of noetic catharsis is a preliminary exigency for realizing our inmost essence, what it means to be a spiritual human being. By relegating emotion to its level of usefulness and to its sphere of corporeality, we get to understand feeling from a higher point of view and by grasping it, transcend it at the same time. The demotion of feeling may be apprehended as a pejorative act that seems to violate the holistic notion of the human being as a compound of body, soul and mind. This is not my intention, at all. I concede that emotion has its undeniable value and function for the human being and society, but, contrary to the notion of predominance of socio-psychological values in our society, I postulate a dual paradigm shift away from emotive values to noetic values and away from rational or conceptual values to transrational values.

The second step, then, is to transcend the level of conceptual thinking. Concepts are dependent on perceptions, experience and on our habit of producing objects of thought. It means transcending the subject-object schematism. For this purpose, we use concepts. By means of conceptual thinking we can understand the inner workings of conceptual thinking itself. By this reflective mode of thought we have already advanced to the next higher level, since we observe and analyze our usual way of thinking. It is a meta-level and we apply a meta-language to describe the functions of conceptual thought. Still, however, we are entrapped in the subject-object dualism that we intend to transcend eventually.

Understanding the way our everyday thinking works blazes the trail for the second step with the transcendence of subject-object schematism. This step consists in thinking holistically. Holistic thinking refers to the endeavor of overcoming the natural limits of our referential knowledge by deliberately extending its scope of applicability. This can be accomplished easily by just overstepping the punctiliously demarcated boundary lines of referential knowledge by adopting the versatility and liberality of speculative thought. It also means having the stamina to venture into uncharted waters beyond present boundaries. By abandoning the safe ground of referential knowledge, cherished highly by science and common-sense as well, we grow more open-minded and we are able to free our mind of the hereditary burden of rational thinking. In extending our mind there may be at first a lot of devious and spurious influences, quasi-knowledge of all kind, but through critical thinking and direct insights we learn to distinguish the true from the false, the chaff from the wheat. The higher and nobler the concepts are that we encounter and garner on our way to this new and promising land, the more holistic does our thinking become. Still, however, we are thinking conceptually, subject versus object, but the concepts have become different and broader in their connotations. Our thinking is not excluding or avoiding everything that is opposed to common or academic views, but by extending our thinking we integrate all the other different views into the infinite space of an all-encompassing holistic thinking, until we, all of a sudden, realize by a flash of enlightenment, that we have achieved a mode of thinking that embraces everything and rules out or dismisses nothing. This is true holistic thinking. A skeptical thinker may object to this holistic thinking with the following argument: if concepts get broader they become also broader in meaning. This vagueness does not sustain the process of understanding or explanation, but actually is an anachronistic return to pre-positivistic thinking, that is, to metaphysical concepts. The emptiness of these concepts has been elucidated by Kant and articulated by positivism as its central tenet. The Cartesian demand for clear and distinct concepts is still valid and true. The clearer a concept is, the easier t is to understand.

This view may have some point regarding the usefulness of the notion of distinctness. Distinct concepts are communicable on a much broader level than speculative philosophical concepts. The reason for that is not the decreasing degree of distinctness when dealing with metaphysical concepts, but the increasing degree of complexity. Whereas commonly clear concepts are simple concepts, having direct empirical reference or are mathematically defined within the science community (universality), metaphysical concepts are not directly linked to empirical or scientific sources and are therefore not as easily available to understanding as the former simple concepts. Philosophers think holistically and on a meta-level of rational thinking. That's why they are dealing with a greater complexity. Complexity means here the whole instead of only parts. Holistic thinking is complexity thinking (not complicated or confused thinking). These complex concepts can be as accurate as the simpler concepts of common-sense or science. Even in modern physics, the boundaries between rational and speculative (holistic) thinking begin to blur. The growing complexity of concepts in quantum physics breaks the narrow confines of rational thought. The engagement in the study of simple physical objects only requires simple concepts, but the study of consciousness and mind exacts from scientists to create and apply concepts that correspond to the complexity of its subject of study. The danger of this ambitious enterprise is, however, the emergence of an elitist community of thinkers, that alone will be capable of understanding these complex concepts, because they have developed a holistic thinking unknown to most people. Here we need a reconstitution of education and our cultural foundations. Children must be guided to learn holistic thinking, so that the common way of thinking is gradually transformed and elevated to a higher level of complexity and holism.

The second step was the transcendence of conceptual thinking, but there still remains a pesky residue of subject-object dualism. The third main step, then, is the identification of subject and object in Paranoesis. How can we learn to think transrationally (paranoetically)? This is not easy to explain, because for that purpose I have to use concepts, something that does not exist any more in Paranoesis. The only way to express myself seems to be by analogy, allusion, that is, by figurative and metaphorical-symbolical language. These have always been the instruments of language which enabled the great thinkers and poets to transcend the intrinsic limitation of language. I will elaborate the details of the third step and its methodology in further essays.


[1] cf. Kant: "Concepts without factual content are empty; data without concepts are blind. Therefore it is necessary to make our concepts sensuous, i.e., to add to them their object in intuition, as it is to make our intuitions intelligible, i.e., to bring them under concepts." (Critique of Pure Reason, B75)