© Henry A. Flynt, Jr.
The only irreproachable condition is to embrace namelessness, composed uncanniness. (a)
• • •
§B.1 The “Is there language?” trap is irreproachable and unconditionally destabilizing. The subject-matter of the trap is autonomous cognition as embodied in unspecialized substantive language. The trap is a juncture in its own subject-matter. In nullifying itself, the trap embodies what it is meant to establish, namely the vitiation of linguistically expressed autonomous cognition. Thus the trap succeeds at the moment of its self-nullification; and its self-nullification is its success. The mode of validity invoked in the trap is the mode of validity of intended performance relative to inherent intellectual norms. The instability in the trap is the instability in its subject-matter; so that the instability in the subject-matter can be found identically in the trap.
The only means of “thought”—that is, the only medium in which tenets or doctrine can be formulated—is assertional language. And assertional language inherently has the guise or posture of cognitive autonomy: it must pretend to be autonomously cognitive. Thus, thought must be addressed from an autonomously cognitive posture, that is, immanently. Otherwise, a sham is perpetrated.
This situation is pervasively unstable, because thought is thereby immanently subject to the trap. The posture of cognitive autonomy strips thought of defenses against destabilization. The trap has unconditionally destabilizing force in relation to thought pretending to be autonomously cognitive. Thus, the posture of cognitive autonomy invites destabilization from all sides.
(Needless to say, the above remarks are not a statement of the trap. They are heuristic, and are to be discarded once the student grasps the trap’s application.)
As to the ramifications of the “Is there language?” trap, the trap is a guarantee in principle that conceptualization can be overmastered or that composed uncanniness can be achieved. In other words, given the trap, the most awesome established systems of knowledge can be confounded. Scientific technology can be overwhelmed. The inherited life-world can be superseded. Even (for example) the tenet that it is dangerous to walk out of a tenth-story window can be contravened. (Meaning that transcendently assembled objectivities are not insurmountable. See “Is Incredulity Self-Defeating?” and see the qualification in §F.2 below.)
A technology is possible which transcends the manipulation of concrete or abstract things: a technology of so-called subjectivities, contraditions, etc. And this technology can be more effective than objectifying or scientific technology. Given the trap, all this must be, no matter if it seems impossibly fanciful.
Meta-technology excludes certain avenues, which it is well to list at the outset.
—appeals to hearsay.
—brutalization as a means of psychological modification.
—appeals to occult powers which the normal person cannot possess.
Those exclusions explain the position I take on mysticism or what have you in §E.1 below.
Let me say at the outset that one cannot begin to understand the promise of meta-technology unless one can renounce two great compensations in culture.
—Pre-scientific superstition (anthropomorphic mythology). Humanness is displaced to myth.
—Scientific rationalism. The fanatical mysticism of depersonalization (mechanomorphic mythology).
Here I already object to thought-modalities on the grounds that their motivation is non-cognitive. It will be a topic throughout this manuscript—but I need readers who have gotten this far already.
§B.2 Personhood theory cannot be irreproachable. The person-world is a totality which extends beyond cognition, and in which cognition is not autonomous. The person-world is not (in general) constituted of assertions. But personhood theory seeks to account for it with a means—namely assertional language—which has the guise and posture of cognitive autonomy. Indeed, personhood theory must have the guise of a portrait-by-assertion. It must have the guise of a series of tenets or a doctrine. [Personhood theory’s claim of validity is the claim of a faithful or authentic portrait.]
Personhood theory cannot account for itself in this respect. Certainly personhood theory allows for beliefs (which are expressed in language); but it allows for them as delusions to which one is attached by emotion. [Cf. §E.2, paragraph 6, for the sense in which “my ostensible world” is a “delusion.”] There is no basis for one series of tenets to transcend the functioning of attachment and to become an uncompromised truth.
Moreover, it is a waste of time to delay this insight by evasion. Do you claim that a new vehicle of communication will arise in the distant future? We cannot express personhood theory in it today. Do you claim that personhood theory somehow elevates the language it uses to a new level? The discrepancy remains. How does the theory account for itself as a portrait and a doctrine which claims a truth exempt from the functioning of attachment?
In Blueprint for a Higher Civilization, pages 20-21, I considered that philosophical anthropology might undertake to explain what I now call “attachment.” I then stated objections to philosophical anthropology which overlap with the objections being made here.
One of the features of embryonic personhood theory was its promise to escape certain quandaries in “Western thought.” Some of the quandaries in question are
—the notion of a mind unable to establish a world outside itself
—the free will/causation clash
—the notion of a world consisting exclusively of objectivities
As to “Western thought and civilization.” I will invoke them repeatedly, sometimes saying “scientific” rather than “Western.” We are living in the thusly-named civilization, which long antedates us. The drawback is that such historical references compromise the presentation. I prefer to think of the historical references as parables, inserted for the benefit of the imagined reader. Aside from that, “Western” expresses a tendentious carving up of the historical record, namely one which makes Christian Europe the direct heir of Attic Greece. (b)
To all those who feel that the hygienic condition of humanity is childlike faith, the above-listed quandaries seem to arise from an excess of self-consciousness and formalism and self-doubt. Even within the Western tradition, there were complaints that these quandaries were cerebral preciosities. Dr. Johnson was scandalized by Berkeley (c); Kant was scandalized by Hume; Heidegger was scandalized by Descartes; Wittgenstein was scandalized by solipsists; Kierkegaard demanded anew the crucifixion of the intellect.
But if personhood theory was prompted by a slogan of contriving a totality which cannot be doubted, the attempt could not succeed. The quandaries in Western thought are not so foolish or so avoidable after all. Personhood theory only displaces the underlying quandary to a different zone, a zone where we are less observant. As I said at the beginning of this section, personhood theory is not identical to its subject-matter—to personhood. Indeed, while personhood has a place for beliefs, it has no place at all for a series of tenets which claim a truth exempt from the functioning of attachment. Personhood theory has the guise of a portrait of one medium in another medium, a portrait which is necessarily inexact and murky because of the transcription it involves.
If the self harbors a doctrinal self-understanding, that understanding will always be compromised. Personhood theory can never [report] personhood identically. Personhood theory cleaves from personhood. If doctrinal self-understanding in the manner of personhood theory had a “primal warrant” (it doesn’t), then we could say that personhood/personhood theory belongs on our list of “primal” cleavages. We can ask where personhood theory is located as a constituent of personhood. It is a product of contemplation. This comment leaves the problematic issues unaddressed.
More limited objections may be instructive. A portrait-by-assertion requires assertional discourse. And the precept that “consciousness is not an object,” for example, makes consciousness into an “object of logic,” to which predication, denials, etc. can be associated.
What is more, faith’s judgment of self-consciousness and formalism as sterile is not necessarily fair. The consequences of self-consciousness and formalism depend on the uses to which they are put. The quandaries of Western thought are intimations of a deeper quandary, the “Is there language?” trap. To accept these quandaries as serious can therefore invite destabilization from all sides. The “Is there language?” trap shows us where there are instabilities and thus opportunities to take undermining and transforming action. Embryonic personhood theory, on the other hand, was accompanied by an intent to block out quandaries, to displace them to invisibility. The effect of such a conception of the totality is to block out instabilities and opportunities for action, and thereby to indoctrinate us with a sort of administrator’s staleness.
Recall what has just been said about personhood theory as a portrait of one medium in another medium. An important consequence is that embryonic personhood theory may not have expresed the instabilities in the person-world. Nothing precluded a perfunctory representation. I have said that embryonic personhood theory allows for beliefs expressed in language. But it does so at the surface only. It does not face the issue of how language is able to express. (One might reply that to ask for an explanation of language would be to fail to understand the new attitude about what is “elemental” that guides personhood theory. But I abandon that position in later versions of personhood theory, don’t I?)
There are instabilities in the person-world, but embryonic personhood theory is of very little help in gaining access to those instabilities. This situation may be the fault of the embryonic theory. Much improvement may be possible once it is clear where the emphasis should be placed. Nevertheless, given the posture of the theory as a portrait of one medium in another medium, and as a doctrine, it follows that instabilities in the subject-matter will never appear identically in the portrait, no matter how much it is improved.
Embryonic personhood theory, then, does not yield omnidirectional destabilization. Many constituents of personhood act as defenses against one or another avenue of destabilization of the person-world. Other constituents of personhood may contribute to producing instabilities. But even so, the functioning of these instabilities is not manifested identically in the theory. And because the embryonic theory was being asked to contrive a totality which it is impossible to doubt, it tended to block out quandaries. The consequence was that opportunities for destabilizing action had to be incorporated in the theory on a case-by-case basis, as they are encountered. The personhood orientation creates an impression of stasis (or to be technically exact, an impression of the person-world as homeostatic). And the orientation emphasizes our immobility. The embryonic theory has little destabilizing effect in relation to its subject-matter. Ironically, the “Is there language?” trap is more helpful than the theory in gaining access to the instabilities of the person-world, simply because revulsion toward cognitive fraud can be a constituent of personhood, and the trap exposes cognitive fraud. Thus, the personhood orientation inclines to resignation and immobility.
• • •
§C.1 For convenience, I need a word to refer to the posture of autonomous cognition. The word which is already nearest to what I want is “cognitive.” So for the purposes of this essay, I will specially redefine the word. By “cognitive,” I shall mean “governed by intellectual norms which are inherent in shared understanding (of the subject-matter under consideration).” As an example, consider the proposition “It is not raining.” When this proposition is understood as an expression in the shared language, certain intellectual norms are presupposed. The function of the “not,” together with a certain relation between the “not” and truth or falsity, are presupposed; otherwise the sentence has not been understood. It is also presupposed that the truth of the proposition is contingent (rather than unconditional); otherwise, again, the proposition has not been understood. (1)
§C.2 Mathematics is well-suited as an illustration for certain lessons which I wish to formulate. Later I will extend these lessons to theory or doctrine in general. I make an example of mathematics in this passage to jolt the reader who supposes that mathematics is a monolithic certainty. The slashing pronouncements here do not come out of the blue; they are the product of a long adversarial study of mathematics. Let me list some manuscripts in the series. (When I rewrote and retitled them, I give the latest title.) Before 1981.
Refutation of Arithmetic
Geometry as a Logic of Positional Relationships in the Visual Field
Problematic Junctures in the Foundations of Classical Mathematics
Absorbing Contradictions Dishonestly: A Generalization of the Sophistries of Yessenin-Volpin
History of Logical Norms
Reorienting Mathematics for a Post-Scientific Civilization
Paradoxes of Naēve Mathematics
Hypnotic-Subjective Formation of “Mechanical” Logical Norms
An Extra-Cultural Perspective of Elementary Naēve Arithmetic
The Apprehension of Plurality
Was Greek Mathematics Crazy?
Brouwer’s Inconsistency Proofs of Classical Mathematics
An Exposé of Foundations of Mathematics
Paradoxes of Common Sense and Blocking of Propositional Calculus
Intuitive Objections to Numerical Infinity and Irrational Numbers
The Counting Stands
The Repressed Content-Requirements of Mathematics
Is Mathematics a Scientific Discipline?
The Invalidity of Mathematics: The Original Concept Art Essay and the Refutation of Arithmetic Project
Mathematics, Tokenetics, and Uncanny Calculi
That 1 = 2
Diagonalization Lemma: Sketches for an Attack
Mathematics: the Faculty of Abstraction
Mathematics in its guise as cognitively autonomous will be called cognitive mathematics. Cognitive mathematics could be identified with the mathematical knowledge available in my own memory, so long as that knowledge is judged by intellectual norms presupposed in its meaning. [The norms are supposedly shared. All the while, I am applying them ingenuously. Cognitive mathematics is my counsel with myself regarding elementary arithmetic, etc. What is being ruled out is my parroting the doctrine of my peers in order to conform.]
Irreproachably speaking, cognitive mathematics does not exist. The very tenets that a notation-token like “2” is conventional, that I can repeat the token “from the past,” and then—the crowning tenet of all—that I know how the token applies to tokens (i.e. that I can count mathematical expressions up to two or three) are self-deceptions. In a condition of irreproachability, there is not enough mathematics to provide the occasion for controversy.
For various reasons one may compromise one’s irreproachability, and accept that cognitive mathematics exists. One can then devise various arguments that mathematics is specious, on the basis of considerations which are themselves partly mathematical. (Cf. the above-listed “Refutation of Arithmetic” and “That 1 = 2.”) These results are exercises in astute hypocrisy, carried out for heuristic or destabilizing reasons. Relative plausibilities are being assessed at an overall level of plausibility which is high for our culture. What is notable is that the “Is there language?” trap has destabilizing force relative to cognitive mathematics, once it is accepted that cognitive mathematics exists.
Mathematics can also be conceived as a social institution. As such I will call it ideological mathematics. There is the mathematical knowledge available in my own memory, which is very much a cognitive skill in my world. But do I parrot the doctrine of my peers in order to conform? Consider 1/0 or 0/0 or 00. Or consider the infinite series 1 – 1 + 1 – 1 … . One cannot evaluate these expressions by performing the indicated operations on the basis of an initial understanding of the symbols. [If the reader is not trained in mathematics, this will be a staggering revelation—it ought to be.] Centuries ago, mathematicians solved these problems ingenuously, but their answers were subsequently doctored by the profession. The “scientific” answers to these problems today involve decisions about which game the profession wants to play; the aspiring mathematician acquiesces to the least intuitive answers in order to go along with the profession. The institutionally significant answers are determined by authority. (2) If one plays the game in seclusion, the game goes out of control and ceases to resemble institutional mathematics. (3) (4)
Mathematics pretends, and must pretend, to be cognitively autonomous. [It cannot call itself an expedient fiction—even though Nietzsche called it an expedient fiction.] Nevertheless, autonomous cognition does not yield a mathematics profession or even a consensus answer to 1/0. [More guardedly: it doesn’t yield a consensus sum for Leibniz’s series.] So there must be a demarcation between cognitive and ideological mathematics. In other words, inherited purposes demand the demarcation; I will therefore recognize it. Even so, we should be wary of the demarcation. A dichotomy which inherited purposes demand can nevertheless fail to be viable.
From the standpoint of irreproachability, ideological mathematics does not exist. Moreover, I can recognize my mathematical skills at a rudimentary level—without invoking society, and mathematical history, as self-subsistent objectivities. [A person’s counsel with themself: 1 + 1 = 2. (d)]
The realization that we are not compelled to accept the existence of ideological mathematics could become important in meta-technology or some other extreme enterprise. Let me explain why: by making an analogy with the pragmatic efficacy of science. When one is operating a transistor radio, the claim that “science works” is extremely plausible. Yet it is important to understand that to overmaster science may require disaffiliation at this very juncture. Playing a transistor radio in a dream would not be held to validate science’s efficacy, even though the event was utterly palpable and immediate. So a palpable, immediate event need not compel faith. I will not recapitulate here my canons of the evaluational processing of experience. The lesson I want to stress is that if you are going to challenge a phenomenon as plausible as science, you must be wary of accepting its obvious justification, because your challenge may be hopelessly weakened thereby. You must be prepared to live out the extreme consequences of sidestepping common sense. Similarly, in order to challenge mathematics or “the world” in which mathematics is authoritative, it may be necessary to disaffiliate from the belief that ideological mathematics exists (at least at the level of society as a self-subsistent objectivity). (5) Certainly anybody who is prepared to sidestep the pragmatic manifestations of science—which are extremely palpable and immediate—should understand that the social existence of mathematics can similarly be sidestepped. And this may be the level at which a challenge to mathematics has to begin. (6)
However, in this discussion I am going to accept the existence of ideological mathematics, as a phenomenon demarcated from cognitive mathematics. I will return to the comments I have just made if I find that they are needed.
Let us compromise our irreproachability and accept that ideological mathematics exists. Then we make an abrupt and weighty discovery about the destabilizing effect of the “Is there language?” trap. The trap suggested arguments which vanquish all of cognitive mathematics in a matter of a few pages. But the effect of the trap on ideological mathematics is currently nil. And ideological mathematics cannot in the least be vanquished by a few pages of partly mathematical argumentation [by rigorous meta-technology]. Here is where some of the few mathematics fans whom I knew said: “I know that there are unanswerable intellectual objections to mathematics, and I don’t care. I am going to continue to pursue mathematics, and I hope that nobody listens to you.” Equally remarkable, I am required to say that the effect of the trap is nil this year or this decade or this century—because the professional attitude to a given intellectual construct can change. Instead of changing by an instantaneous verdict on intellectual merits, it changes by an attrition of those with old loyalties.
I have discredited cognitive mathematics. But ideological mathematics has not at all been discredited; it is in good standing. The discrepancy lies not so much in definitions of “credit” as in how mathematics is delimited.
How can ideological mathematics be in good standing when cognitive mathematics is discredited? The beginning of an answer is that when we deal with ideological mathematics, we are in a nightmare world, if you will, in which the circumstance that a tenet is a dishonesty (a disgrace) is no longer an objection to it.
I may be able to make these lessons more vivid if I take the risk of citing, as evidence, the status of real analysis within the mathematics profession. (A risk, because now I’m arguing from a professional opinion on a professional issue. I’m trusting experts who are subject to being outvoted.) Attempts to provide a foundation for real analysis—as the profession understands this task—have failed. And a wide range of professional assessments are prepared to concede that the attempts have failed for reasons of principle. (7)
At best, this means that the soundness of real analysis cannot be established; at worst it means that real analysis is inconsistent. The extended controversy on this matter divided the mathematics profession. A majority is determined to pursue real analysis (“even if it’s specious”). A few Brouwerists and others want to renounce classical analysis.
I am wary of siding with the minority to bolster myself. Tame radicalism is an unreliable prop for irreconcilable radicalism. Situated on the outside as I am, it might make sense for me to sympathize with the majority. I am sympathetic to these points:
—inconsistent theory can be useful;
—we don’t have to heed a petty sectarianism masquerading as radicalism;
—humans can function in systematic, distinctive ways without being able to formulate the rules of such functioning in a complete schematic way.
This having been said, I will base myself on the failure of real analysis here. (I will side with the minority, assuming that lack of a foundation for real analysis amounts to a refutation of it.) Then I can say that real analysis is cognitively discredited by standards which are professional.
All the while, real analysis is ideologically in good standing. How can this be? The beginning of an answer is that ideological mathematics is a nightmare world in which even if real analysis were a dishonesty, that would be no objection to it. The dishonesty is acceptable as a source of gratification. The individual lives amicably with the dishonesty. The dishonesty is institutionally legitimated. The dishonesty is sustained by non-“cognitive” motives.
It is a process of personhood to obtain gratification from mental play-acting, to indulge in a representation of yourself which you know is untrue to the present (and to past and future as well). I shall call such self-indulgence a Walter Mitty fantasy.
This mental play-acting concerns features of personal identity. When a group of people engage in analogous behavior with respect to impersonal doctrine, we have a shared pretense or consenting sham.
The status of real analysis is the status of a consenting sham.
I might underline these conclusions with a hypothetical case. To achieve equality of 1 with 2 would be impossible, or if not impossible, would involve abstruse and tortuous logico-mathematical constructions: so the mathematical audience might assume. (In other words, some excruciating proof that arithmetic was inconsistent, something as unappetizing as Wette.) But intricate cerebration need not be the only avenue to obtain equality of 1 with 2. If there were a community determined to indulge 1 = 2 systematically as a consenting sham—a community determined to relish 1 = 2 as a dishonesty—that would be sufficient.
[Well, it is not a good contribution to meta-technology, so why do I say it? The precise answer can be found in Anti-Mathematics, 1980 typescript, page 29. “When mathematics is viewed in the full context of its mendacity and its social ramifications, then (and only then) it does break the framework of objectivity—inasmuch as it represents the determination of a phantom objectivity by reciprocal subjectivity. But mathematics is a negative framework-breaking process because it acts by palpable deceit and delusion and thus cripples its subjects. It must conceal and deny the procedure wherein it breaks the framework. It is a ‘cruel experiment.’”
I give the 1 = 2 illustration because it would be on a par with standard operating procedure in the sophisticated reaches of past and present culture. Understand that I do not imagine anything so crude as the imposition of falsehoods on public discourse by political bullies or by salesmen. Stalin accredited himself as the world’s greatest physicist and banned the theory of relativity. That is not interesting, because the professionals knew that Stalin didn’t know what he was doing. Pragmatically, even as Stalin repudiated relativity, the Soviet regime demanded the technological fruits of relativity. Stalin died and his regime in physics vanished.
All the same, coerced speciousness exhibits differences of degree. There were hack biologists in the Eastern bloc who welcomed Lysenkoism. Then, the official economics of the Soviet Union was arguably a hoax; yet not only was it widely articulated, many Soviet economists believed that it made sense.
Having said all this, it behooves me to say how I imagine that the consenting sham in question would work. It’s like posing the design of bad meta-technology as a meta-technological problem. See the supplement. (8)]
Returning to real analysis, it is chancy, as I say, to make a case from the professional minority. Let that be as it may. I insist that the divergence of cognitive and ideological mathematics is the general pattern of mathematics. The status of ideological mathematics is the status of a consenting sham.
[The conclusion is so important and so unfamiliar that I choose to dwell on it. If one wants to deal with the institutional history of mathematics, one has to recognize that truth is whatever the socially prevailing fraternity says it is. It is all a consenting sham. It wouldn’t last a second without a fraternity policing the doctrine. In turn, because a fraternity crystallizes to police the doctrine, it is very hard to derail this shaky doctrine. And you cannot derail it negatively; you can derail it only by claiming to have a mathematics more true than the inherited mathematics.
Note Morris Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times (1972), page 1120:
“… when a concept or technique proves to be useful even though the logic of it is confused or even nonexistent, persistent research will uncover a logical justification, which is truly an afterthought. It also demonstrates how far mathematicians have come to recognize that mathematics is man-made. The definitions of summability are not the natural notion of continually adding more and more terms, the notion which Cauchy merely rigorized; they are artificial. But they serve mathematical purposes, including even the mathematical solution of physical problems; and these are now sufficient grounds for admitting them into the domain of legitimate mathematics.”
And let me reproduce four paragraphs from Anti-Mathematics.
Mathematics is sustained by processes of dishonesty whose purpose is to systematically co-opt Failure Theorems. The reason why it is so difficult to get a grasp of this state of affairs, and to write an exposé of it, is that it involves a configuration of mind-sets and human purposes which prevails without challenge. Everybody who has the ability to understand some mathematics becomes an apologist for the doctrine. Everybody who is involved in the discussion of mathematics is a loyalist, an apologist, a defensivist—and these attitues are so unquestioned that mathematicians acknowledge them with no awareness that they are confessing a lack of intellectual integrity. Mathematics unfolds under a stipulation that mathematics cannot be wrong, that failures areise only in the human understanding of mathematics. (page 8)
[Of all biased inconsistent theories, mathematics] is the one which is most mechanical, abstract, sterile, and objectified. Yet the processes which sustain, guide, and constrain the content of the doctrine are self-serving and mendacious social proecesses, of which the enforcement of orthodoxy is the most important. The important properties of mathematics are not intellectual but social. (page 21)
[After characterizing mathematical logic and in particular its conception of the consistency issue, I continue:] Inasmuch as contemporary mathematics claims that … mathematical logic expresses the practice of mathematics, contemporary mathematics is engaged in a monumental act of misdirection. Mathematics is the most mechanical, the most abstract, the most sterile, the most objectified of all established intellectual activities—but the overall processes which sustain mathematical subject-matter and control its contradictions are not intellectual at all. They are self-serving, mendacious social processes. The objective, sterile, present-tense notion of a consistent theory in mathematical logic is worthless as an overall conception of how important intellectual systems function. And the lie that mathematics does function like that is a part of the social process of deception which actually sustains mathematics. (page 28)
Mathematics is an extraordinary instance of a historical, disguised logic of contradictions. It teaches us to look beyond formal algorithms in searching for the mechanisms which control contradictions. It teaches us that we should expect a logic of contradictions to be something more worldly than an abstract present-tense intellectual game. (page 29)]
In §B.1, paragraph 3, and §B.2, paragraph 14, I stressed that the “Is there language?” trap has unconditionally destabilizing effect in relation to its subject-matter, while personhood theory has little destabilizing effect in relation to its subject-matter (the person-world). Moreover, the trap was supposed to have its effect precisely in relation to theoretical, doctrinal phenomena like mathematics. But we now have to understand this situation in a different light. The trap is effective against mathematics when “mathematics” is delimited so as to exclude its social zone. But when mathematics is delimited so as to include its social zone, then the trap is currently ineffective against it. Doctrine manifests the inertia, the defenses against destabilization, which I discerned in personhood. Doctrine also manifests change by attrition rather than by instantaneous intellectual verdicts. The realm of personhood is pushed back into the realm of thought, and captures mathematics. Mathematics acquires defenses against destabilization similar to personhood’s defenses.
But before we become too amazed by these amazing discoveries, we must remember the reservations in §C.2, paragraph 6. Our discoveries depend on the viability of the demarcation between cognitive and ideological mathematics and on our acceptance of the existence of ideological mathematics. The option of disaffiliating from these junctures rather than assenting to them should not be forgotten.
§C.3 The preceding lessons about mathematics can be extended to theory or doctrine generally. The only medium in which theory can be formulated, namely assertional language, has the guise of cognitive autonomy. All theory pretends to be cognitive theory. If we compromise our irreproachability by accepting a theory’s existence, then the “Is there language?” trap has unconditionally destabilizing effect in relation to the cognitive theory. The posture of cognitive autonomy strips a theory of defenses against destabilization, and so invites destabilization from all sides.
But if we delimit the theory so that it includes its social zone, thus becoming ideological theory, then the “Is there language?” trap is currently ineffective against it. Here is where professionals say: “I know that there are unanswerable intellectual objections to the theory, and I don’t care. I am going to continue to espouse the theory, and I hope that nobody listens to Flynt.” Thus, to delimit theory so as to include its social zone is to render it relatively inert and defended against destabilization. Such a delimitation thereby inclines to resignation and immobility.
What I said in §C.2 about mathematics can be generalized to theory. I have pushed the realm of personhood back into the realm of thought, so that the realm of personhood captures theory. The “Is there language?” trap was effective against theory when theory was delimited so as to exclude its social zone. But when theory is delimited so as to include its social zone, then the trap is currently ineffective against it. The same inertia, the same defenses against destabilization which I complained about in personhood are now found in doctrine. In other words, the inertia of the person-world finds a correlative within theory, namely, the inertia of ideological theory. And doctrine can change by attrition (as opposed to an instantaneous intellectual verdict).
How can ideological theory be in good standing even though it is cognitively discredited? The beginning of an answer is that when we deal with ideological theory, we are in a nightmare world in which the mere circumstance that a tenet is a dishonesty is no longer an objection to it. The dishonesty is accepted as a source of gratification; it is sustained by non-“cognitive” motives. A community commits to these practices. Its commitment to the ideological theory has in part the character of a consenting sham. (Thus, in general, the social zone of theory is the locus of its resistance to cognitive destabilization.)
We need to understand that the practice of living amicably with a dishonesty had already surfaced in personhood theory, and has a role far more elemental than that of sustaining self-conscious theoretical constructions. Objectifying personhood is replete with fundamental incoherences which are as much frauds of cognition as any of the mathematical concepts we mentioned. We begin with the “truism” that at birth and during infancy, my self and mind are so rudimentary as not to exist in the adult sense. A “normative” consciousness comes with years of life. We then have:
—I am one object in a world of objects.
—other people have consciousnesses which are counterparts to my own but to which I have access only by the actions of their bodies (e.g. speech).
—implications of the foregoing: another person physically discloses their thoughts (the evidences of lying).
—implications of the foregoing: another person dies.
—implications of the foregoing: I encounter a “mentally retarded” person.
—implications of the foregoing: another person loses alertness or lucidity after birth due to injury or disease; or, another person exhibits transient variations in sentience (sleep or a survivable illness).
All these notions are violently incoherent or co-imply violent incoherences; anyone would experience them as insane if they did not have total cultural support. Living amicably with these incoherences is fundamental in objectifying personhood. I have more to say about these junctures, but I remove it to Supplement 1. (Not because the material is a commonplace which the reader has already mastered, but because it is off the promised mainline of this manuscript.)
It was a principal mission of later personhood theory to address these junctures aggressively and to configure the personhood paradigm around them.
• • •
§D.1 Let me conclude as much as I am able to within the scope of this manuscript about the relation between the “Is there language?” trap and personhood theory. In examining the relations of both the trap and the theory to the realm of assertions and doctrine, we have encountered a quirk at a new level. The “Is there language?” trap covers “everything”—i.e. encompasses the totality—in that it covers all that is asserted, and in that what is asserted must assume the guise of cognitive autonomy. Moreover, insofar as the trap undermines all that is asserted, it undermines the totality: the totality is stripped of defenses against destabilization.
But if we wish to notice theory as ideological theory, then the trap currently affects theory hardly at all. Even within the realm of theory, we find a zone of the totality which the trap does not affect. We encounter amicable co-existence with dishonesties—and the influence of non-cognitive motives on theory. We find that the totality is not a theory, but a person-world penetrated by culture and community. The trap is currently an insignificant, ineffectual element of this totality.
Thus, we arrive at a quirk of mutual subordination which is like a displaced generalization of the paradox of other minds. The trap covers personhood—personhood theory—since the only medium of doctrinal self-consciousness is doctrine. Yet autonomous cognition does not account for shared doctrine or the espousal of doctrine (e.g. 1/0, 0/0, 00). We are brought to the person-world—which extends outside the trap insofar as it is not in general constituted of assertions. And the trap is an insignificant, ineffectual element of the person-world.
§D.2 On the other hand, this quirk is contingent. We must remember, especially for the benefit of subsequent research, that if the quirk becomes an impasse, there are options which avoid it. And we can better account for the quirk itself by referring to these options. The quirk depends on two presuppositions.
i. The demarcation between cognitive and ideological theory is not a sham.
ii. We accept the existence of ideological theory (even to the extent of accepting the existence of society as a self-subsistent objectivity).
We could always pursue an approach which disaffiliated from these presuppositions rather than assenting to them.
• • •
§E.1 In the foregoing, I have repeatedly referred to the inertia and the resistance to destabilization which characterize ideological theory, and which also characterize the person-world generally. I have stressed that one reason for this inertia lies in the very conception of personhood. The personhood idea involves presupposing certain common-sense tenets whose effect is “defeatist” or “stagnationist.” But we now need a different approach to accounting for the inertia of personhood. We need to probe the inertia of personhood via the analytical means of personhood theory itself.
It may be thought that my “discovery” of the distinction between cognitive and ideological theory is just a reformulation of a commonplace. It is a cliché that every new truth has met resistance from vested interests, selective perception, habit, conformism, caution, established reputations, etc. (e) It may be objected that my responsibility is to make the greatest possible advance on substantive issues: why should I wrestle with the sociology of obscurantism? Boole, Lobachevski, Mendel, etc. could declare new truths without having to propound a sociology of obscurantism to complement them. Most creative thinkers concentrate on the substance of their field of specialization, and leave it to time to settle accounts with their detractors.
But as an objection to my present research direction, the attitude just expressed would completely misjudge this research. If we consider the fight between the old and the new in the Renaissance (in which “the new” is represented by Galileo and Vanini), I would be insincere if I said that I wholeheartedly support the new. I could support the new only as a lever to dislodge the old: that lever would then become a liability. In the rollover from Aristotelian to Galilean physics, one world-dogma replaces another. [Galileo offers a dishonesty which is superior for some cyncial purposes. It’s not better than that.]
The immanent analysis which personhood theory pursues affords it a degree of disengagement from world-dogmas. I am not attributing a “dishonest” social dimension only to “old, bad, obscurantist” doctrines. I am attributing a “dishonest” social dimension to theory without exception. I am observing that taunts which are easy to contrive when the target is old, bad, and obscurantist apply to assertion as such. This discussion is far above cliché polemics against obscurantism.
The “new intellectual modalities” which I am advancing do need something like a sociology of obscurantism (call it a non-intellectual epistemology) as a part of the repertoire. Meta-technology and the personalist perspective are not contributions to any field of endeavor in Western civilization—as the grotesque ironies of my so-called public career have testified. Meta-technology and the personalist perspective cannot become self-sustaining without being ambitious. And that ambitiousness consists in their being conceived to overstep the conceptual frontiers of Western civilization; and to provide the germ of a different, post-scientific culture. The barrier to the presentation of meta-technology is a phenomenon of a new order.
It is perfectly possible to package meta-technology (or at least its initial elements) in expository prose which is literate, conscientious, disciplined, and cognizant of relative plausibilities. All the same, other people rarely address my material. The rare private written attacks on it have been dismissive, have attacked straw men, fail to account for the recognition I do enjoy. One feature of the attacks is that they are oblivious to points of mine which are straightforward. This obliviousness might as well be a congenital limit on perception. Meanwhile, I used to be told “I know your points are unanswerable, but I would rather live a lie than to have to live the consequences of accepting your points, and I am going to treat your points as social blunders.”
I have long personal relationships with some of my readers. These readers typically enjoy the gadfly wit in my writing, but remain oblivious to the principal import of the work (summarized in §A-§B.1 above). The problem here is not mere careerism (although I cannot completely exclude careerism).
We have to think heroically in order to characterize the barrier. In 1981, I introduced the phrase inter-civilization thought-disparity. If that was what I meant, one case would be the threshold between medieval Islam and modern Europe. If we must bring history into it, an inter-civilization thought-disparity is not an “illiberality,” a “drag on the advance of truth.” When the rhetoric of the struggle to advance truth is applied to the past, what is being spoken about is the career of a given civilization’s delusion.
In 1981, I was equivocal as to whether this manuscript furnishes an account of thought-disparities between civilizations which we inherit as historical objects. Let me apply the evidence of the manuscript to correct the argument. Firstly, my method is to define the inter-epochal thought-disparity from its penetration of the person-world. This method presumably requires the analyst to be present at the inter-epochal threshold—that means that my vision (the post-scientific thought-modality) has to be in play. The upshot is that my appeals to history are no better than parables. See the supplement for a position on historical investigation. (9) Secondly, I intimate that the threshold to which we have acceded may be unique. If it is, then an advance beyond the present civilization could be an advance beyond civilization as such. Then I have to change the phrase accordingly.
For the inter-epochal thought-disparity, what is at stake is
patterns of perception, notions about logical certainty (e.g. that 1 is unequal to 2), integrative beliefs, and people’s conviction that they are sane, in relation to the organization of people’s morale and the mode of life.
Meta-technology challenges modern Western consciousness across its entire breadth.
Our earlier question was whether the new intellectual modalities need a non-intellectual epistemology (namely, the account of the inter-epochal thought-disparity). The answer is yes, this threshold at which we have arrived needs to be probed. (10)
Personhood theory can be useful to meta-technology in other ways than by providing a non-intellectual epistemology. The objectivities which are the raw material of meta-technological procedures are “supplied” by objectifying personhood. Meta-technology might, therefore, take the entire range of constituents of personhood as possible raw material. (f)
The personhood idea may embody another cause of the inertia of personhood. The only paradigm of personhood which I have presented concerns objectifying personhood, that is, the mode of sentience of everyday existence. No doubt a mode of sentience beyond everyday existence could be less stubbornly prosaic than objectifying personhood.
But let me be blunt. The culture has no ecstatic route, already on offer, which is free of gullibility and brutalization, and which has the reality-issues or “frame”–issues sorted out (cf. evaluational processing of experience). The ecstatic consciousness afforded by religion depends on gullibility and brutalization (mortification of the flesh etc.). As for psychedelic experimentation, the well was poisoned by the psychedelic craze in bohemia. Moreover, a trip as such did not need to be more than a witless movie. If a person did not have the character to sort out the “frame”–issues, it was inconsequential. (Like a hallucination induced by hypnosis.) (g)
The only avenue of escape from everyday existence which doesn’t have to be qualified or disavowed is meta-technology. What that means is that the problem of achieving ecstatic personhood is as difficult as the problem of implementing meta-technology. Again, there is no ecstatic route which is routinely available and trustworthy. That is why I do not treat ecstatic personhood as an available resource in this discussion.
As I probe personhood in this manuscript, I encounter junctures at which clarification and emendations are needed in personhood theory. In fact, the personhood paradigm needs to be configured around these junctures. “Personhood II” (originally 1981) was the first of the emended paradigms.
§E.2 Let me state some principles which must guide our inquiry into the inertia of personhood. First, I and my associates have very decided views about the relative desirability or pathology of various cultural tendencies. We find it easy to agree that late Rome and late Ch’ing China were pervasively decadent, corrupt, and exhausted, and systematically forced tormented and berserk lives upon their populaces. However, there seems to be a great methodological advantage in not organizing our investigation around the dichotomy of “good” and “bad” cultures. There also seems to be a great methodological advantage in not organizing our investigation around the watershed between a functioning society and a collapsing society. An obsession with praising and condemning leads us to adopt a pose of pity toward people who are forceful and willful and do not solicit our pity. Further, we become embroiled in apologetics, and important connections disappear from visibility. The person-world, at the level of culture and community, is much too rich and intricate to be understood via a schematism of good and evil. (11)
Once I have set aside schematisms of cultural or societal good and evil, it becomes clear that the issue of stability in the person-world is an issue of stability in a given, specific direction. In fact, this is another point on which my presentation, while formally correct, may be highly subject to misunderstanding. Over and over I have spoken of the inertia of personhood. But I haven’t meant to imply that personality change is impossible, or even improbable. There are three reasons why I have stressed personhood’s inertia rather than its mutability.
i. The person-world is not omnidirectionally unstable or prone to change (where cognitive theory is).
ii. Potential for change is not identically transcribed in the personhood paradigm (at least when the paradigm was new).
iii. The most obvious possibilities for change have to do with credulity, escape from responsibility, irrationality, etc. Most of the time, people are complacent and apathetic, not to say smug. When conditions become so traumatizing that people cannot abide with the inherited order even if they want to, they commit to demagoguery, either a demagoguery which tells them that existing privileges are illicit, or one which validates existing privileges. All the promises of quick salvation in our time have been disasters.
I will have to talk about mutability in given, specific directions. At the moment, most inhabitants of the present civilization are extremely well-defended against the instability represented by a serious, wholesale rebuttal of mathematics, for example, However, many people were not well-defended [in the Seventies] against the instability represented by the punk movement. Indeed, they were primed to be triggered by the punk movement. Their own person-worlds anticipated and demanded the personal transformation which the punk movement offered them. Along with punk I include the zine culture, slick magazines like Vice, Stewart Home—actually, the “youth rebellion” industry, together with New Age nasties like Robert A. Wilson, etc. etc. A mystique which equates hipness and “opposition” with credulity, irrationality, irresponsbility, misbehavior, demoralization, betrayal, personal disintegration. The trend-setters having accepted this equation, surely the civilization’s fate is being affected.
I can also cite the disposition to sudden personality change on the part of bored, aimless youth, which encouraged the proliferation of cults in the Seventies. Supplement 1 discusses psychic brutalization scenarios, giving as a reference Flo Conway and J. Siegelman, Snapping. The drawback, of course, is that the change in question is surrender of responsibility to quick-money operators and idiotic superstitions. My interest is in a “breakout” founded on integrity and hope, in which an individual sees beyond the presuppositions of his or her culture. It is the improbability of these breakouts that causes me to think of personhood as inert.
In any case, there emerges an intricate array of possibilities. An individual’s capacity to notice an externally supplied signal to change in any direction, and to respond in close conformity to it, can be viewed as an aptitude—or as a weakness. On the other hand, the capacity to reject the signal is an aptitude also—or a lack. Then there is the phenomenon of originality. Some people change in a systematic direction, or cultivate a certain personal posture, which does not have direct outside cues or role-models. Finally, the circumstance that an individual is or is not transformed at a particular juncture may be viewed as highly significant to the community. Or it may be invisible or unimportant to the community.
In 1981, I casually used the word change, always in a context, as a shorthand. But for the record, I ought to be more specific. (After all, there was a human potential racket that used ‘change’ as a buzzword.) Change enters as the antonym for “inertia of personhood.” I mean, primarily, a personal transformation with consequences beyond the individual. Also, shorthand for personality change; shorthand for beginning a new life. Change can be sudden or build over years. The case of interest is a “breakout” founded on integrity and hope, in which an individual sees beyond the presuppositions of his or her culture. A secondary meaning: a transformation of society; the advent of a new thought-modality.
I am forced to deal with intricate phenomena or processes via crude analytical means. Tentatively, I observe that each individual can be characterized by his or her capacity for various pursuits in regard to all the motivating factors over and above skill-potential: the factors colloquially called
I call this characterization the individual’s motivation profile.
Next I need a result from personhood theory. My ostensible world—that is, the perceptions which characterize it—are palpably affected and sustained by emotions of anticipation, by emotional dependence on other people, by morale, by esteem, by knowing self-deception, etc. etc. I summarize this observation by saying that my ostensible world is a “delusion.” But I don’t want the pejorative connotations of “delusion” so much as the suggestion that the ostensible world is a resultant of stressing constituents or deformations. (12)
I may then conclude that the individual’s motivation profile is interactive with his or her realized choices and beliefs and (perceptual) delusion. Then the propensities or pronenesses which comprise the motivation profile come to be viewed as aptitudes or impairments depending on whether one approves or disapproves of their consequences. A heroic aptitude for Seventies punk (the pose or mystique we might call irony man or betrayal man) is a ghastly impairment and disfigurement relative to the enterprise of defeating mathematics in the arena of integrity and honesty.
§E.3 Continuing to focus the discussion on the resistance which personhood may display to some given avenue of destabilization, I find that this resistance has several facets, which I will tentatively define.
Let me use the economics profession for illustration. First, there is resistance at the level of preference or penchant. Pride, professional status, and monetary reward can motivate economists to adhere to doctrines which they know (and admit in the classroom) are pervasively unrealistic. The economist opts for professional approval and status as opposed to intellectual integrity. Here we invoke so-called empirical freedom of the will. (Which in personhood theory becomes realized choice. See the supplement.) The individual can choose the unrealism of the consenting sham because the non-cognitive gratification is worth it. For all that, to choose the consenting sham may not be a major facet of the inertia of personhood.
A second facet is momentary conditions in the community or in society. During the Sixties, political-social radicalism become fashionable in the U.S. for various reasons. A result was that in the Seventies, a radical faction arose in the economics profession. A few venues for radicalism were established within the profession—professional associations, journals, tenured appointments—so that the opportunity existed for a few people to advance professional careers through radicalism. A number of economists who began their careers as U.S. government functionaries, notably in the field of underdeveloped countries, suddenly underwent dramatic conversions to radicalism. Trading on their high establishment rank, these converts were then able to become administrative heads in the radical venues. When radicalism lost its fashionability in the late Seventies, the attractiveness to economists of a radical career declined. Here we see how transient conditions can spur a personal transformation (unless the case study I am describing is the symptom of something else altogether). Conversely, we see how transient conditions can uphold conventionality or impel a person back to conventionality. Realized choice need not be encapsulated; it relates to transient “social influences.”
The facets of resistance to destabilization which are important for inter-epochal thought-disparity require a more sophisticated understanding.
Let me consider the “resistance to destabilization” which is manifested when a person arrives at adulthood as a self-satisfied mediocrity (rather than a malcontented “genius”). I suggest that we have a phenomenon here which must be understood at a truly philosophical level. What we are seeing is the interaction of the community’s encouragement of conformity with the irreversibility of biographical time. The aspects of people’s lives which dismay me because they are a renunciation of responsibility for one’s consciousness have always been viewed by people generally as blessings. To be well-adjusted—to devote one’s energies to a conventional prestige occupation and to one’s family—is generally considered to be the superior way of life. It is a philosophical insight that the attempt to explain mediocrity as if it were a pathology, caused by some single, alterable factor in the childhood environment, is grossly condescending. It is arrogant to say “My choices are real; the mediocrity’s choices are not real.” The mediocrity would reject any condescension toward his or her mediocrity. He or she would reject being pitied for enjoying the preferred way of life. It is patronizing and senseless to picture pervasive disaffection or “wandering in the wilderness” as an optimal way of life which should have been the goal of everybody’s upbringing.
But perhaps it is a mistake to suppose that the essence of mediocrity is contentment in the sense of inner harmony. Perhaps the essence of mediocrity is a high capacity for self-editing, combined with a lack of the strengths needed to reap the rewards of deviance. In other words, perhaps we should conceive of mediocrity as an impairment—a lack of
autonomy, risk-taking, and hope, combined with discipline.
All the same, the mediocrity has many acquisitions which are blessings or rewards, and which the deviant has to forego. [These remarks overlook the dimension of fame and riches, on the one hand—and the dimension of lionized self-destruction, on the other.]
A second objection is possible. Dreams and other experiences of so-called regression show that biographical time need not be a monotonic progression. The fact that this comment is even relevant—that we can no longer identify the arena of life and change with common-sense reality—shows how far this discussion is venturing into experimental, improvised subject-matter. [Is my point that that regression might be a trap-door in the procession of biographical time? Whether such a trap-door could matter is highly doubtful.]
Perhaps the most important facet of resistance consists in deficiencies or omissions, in the individual’s capacities, which correlate with the specific content of the culture to which the individual is tied. Let me invoke some history as a parable. No mathematical discoveries to speak of were made in early medieval Christendom. And this circumstance correlates with early Christian culture, which was willfully blind to the advantages of mathematical creativity. Early Christian culture demanded the use of elementary mathematics while fearing and discouraging advanced mathematical creativity. It therefore goes without saying that early Christian culture had no basis to perceive the uses of mathematical creativity, or to reward such creativity. And the culture reared the individual in such a way as to extinguish mathematical talent and to extinguish the capacity to perceive mathematics in a favorable way. Here, resistance to the attractions of mathematics is a matter of impairment. And to speak specifically of impairment is appropriate, because Christian culture did not overmaster mathematics. It depended on mathematics in a primitive way, without being honest about that dependency. (h)
The general observation is that the individual is found to be incapacitated for a certain pursuit. And this incapacity is palpably, overtly correlated with the culture that has penetrated the individual.
Let me consider certain ramifications of the facets of resistance defined starting in paragraph 5 of this section, §E.3. Given the phenomenon of culture-correlated impairment defined just now, we might reason as follows. Two people, molded by two different civilizations, will emerge with two systematically different motivation profiles. (These differences in motivation profiles are to be understood as far more profound than differences between two members of a single culture.) If different civilizations are yielding systematically different motivation-profiles, it is then plausible to speculate that the human being is a formless raw material which potentially can be shaped in either of two ways. Evidence seems to be at hand [to the effect] that the core of personhood is openness—that is, that the self is undecided and protean and is foreclosed only by each specific action.
Let us be clear that the hereditary/environment controversy belonging to scientific materialism and materialist politics is not even at issue here. No matter how plausible materialist causation seems in the civilization which imagined it, it is part of the perspective which I propose to abolish. We are concerned with whether person-worlds even harbor the potential to want to see beyond the conceptual frontiers of the civilization to which they are tied. Any such potential would be one narrow part of the total openness which Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre evidently claimed for the self.
The principle of the irreversibility of biographical time weighs against this claim of openness. The only adults ever encountered are those who arrive already shaped—those who have been concretely directed. We do not encounter a culture-impregnable adult. The notion that the core of a human being is formless raw material—e.g. the notion of a thirty-year-old who has never been directed and is formless—is a parody of the notion of the feral child. To suppose that we have a given human being as a protean unit capable of being inserted in either of two civilizations, or either of two motivation profiles, is meaningless hypothesizing. [2001. I was angry at the Existentialist doctrine that made the person-world (of the adult) a blank slate or empty vessel. I insisted that people are progressively foreclosed. Only under immense coercion and seduction is there any consideration of redirection—e.g. the Japanese nation after World War II.]
The import of this conclusion, if it is sound, is that personhood is, again, relatively inert. We are not given Man as an openness poised to advance in every direction equally. (But I still regard conclusions depending on the irreversibility of biographical time as debatable, for the reasons in paragraph 7 of this section, §E.3.)
§E.4 I must now return to methodological principles, and confirm a principle which has been implicit in the whole discussion. As we probe the inertia of personhood, any explanations we propose must be compatible with the personalist standpoint. It makes no difference if other avenues of explanation are plausible; we must be willing to reject them or we will not reap the rewards of the personalist standpoint. Time-worn, cliché questions about individual and social change are to be answered in a perspective-of-totality quite different from that of Western culture (and its behavioral sciences, its positivism, its philosophical idealism, etc.). The topic becomes the following. What are the possibilities of undermining the person-world by conscious action?
[To follow through, embryonic personhood theory had to be deepened: culture and society had to be defined in terms of their penetration of the person-world. Subsequently that became standard in personhood theory. I remove the exposition to Supplement 1 not because it is a commonplace which the reader has already mastered, but because it is off the promised mainline of this manuscript. Supplement 1 goes on to present a critique of Western objectivist doctrines of society.]
More subtly, we must proceed by investigating inherited, cliché questions while simultaneously reorienting them. The task is tricky, because the questions carry assumptions that may undercut the new perspective. But the rewards of this tricky, uncommon-sensical project are that it can achieve far greater philosophical credibility, and be far more illuminating and efficacious, than social-objectivist theories of personal change.
[2001. Well, frankly, the new analysis did not yield anything like a technique of proselytizing that made any difference. The obstacles mentioned in this manuscript prove to outweigh everything else: the easy possibilities of change are all possibilities for change for the worse; etc. What made the new analysis imperative for me was a reason of principle: to assimilate my views of psychology and society to the best methodology I had. I cannot rule out that personhood theory helped me by broadening my base. However, that would be a matter of climate. Again, this manuscript does not discover a technique of proselytizing.]
• • •
§F.1 I continue with the investigation of the possibility of destabilizing and transforming the person-world by conscious action. I am especially concerned with the person-world as:
An interaction of the (perceptual) delusion, belief, realized choice, and motivation profile, in relation to culture and community.
In this section, I will criticize the notions of objective constraints on individual change, and of inevitable societal change. The emphasis will be on the question of delimiting the arena of life and action. The frontiers of the arena of life and action have to be redrawn; the conventional partition of the arena has to be “rotated.”
§F.2 Let us proceed to the arena of life, action, and instability. My post-scientific or post-civilization venture offers a critique of the foundations of (scientific) civilization which hopes to draw together a community with a new culture.
In Supplement 1, §3 and §4, I make an analogy between the individual’s need to believe in (the existence of) society and the diabetic’s need to inject insulin. If the question is whether we can extricate ourselves from societal objectivity, the conclusion is not, metaphorically, that the diabetic should simply stop injecting insulin. No compelling and sustainable departure is ever that easy. If it is a question of extricating ourselves from medical biology, there would have to be an intricate, all-encompassing process of unraveling the inherited way of appropriating the world. At the end of this process, we would be in a different civilization. Somewhere along the way, the one-to-one, thing-to-thing connections of inherited medical biology would “get lost” or be overmastered by a differently orientated, qualitatively different technology. Simple negation of the connections is not a workable route.
What would the prospect of a community with a new culture do to conventional politics? It might be greeted as an insurgency. The political arena might get reconfigured (in regard to the definition of progress as “growth” in the economist’s sense, for example).
§F.3 So the topic is my capacity to undermine any person-world by conscious action. A pre-eminent lesson is that whether I can be effective or not depends entirely on how I conceive the arena to be undermined; and it therefore depends on how I shape my loyalties. It also depends on how I conceive success and failure. In other words, whether I exist in a condition of tragic helplessness or a condition of revolutionary efficacy depends on how I conceive the arena to be subverted and on how I shape my loyalties. If I conceive the problem as one of saving the Roman Empire or the Ch’ing Dynasty, in such a way that the society remains familiar and congenial to its rulers, then I find myself in a condition of tragic inevitability, in which I must fail. But it is the commitment that the purpose of life and action is the perpetuation of the Roman or Ch’ing regime that “installs” the condition of tragic inevitability. Incidentally, if I had bet against the Ch’ing Dynasty and for “Marxism” in 1899, then I would have placed myself in a condition of optimistic inevitability, to be fulfilled when Mao seized power. But either commitment would embroil me with an objectivity: because I would shape my loyalty in a nationalistic way—or more generally, would orient my loyalty to a societal objectivity. My loyalties, my “definition” of the purpose of life, my “definitions” of success and failure have conjured up a process which goes on its perpetual way with, at most, a pro forma regard for me—a process to which I can only relate as if it were an eclipse of the sun, leaving me room for nothing except to adjust myself to it.
[As for the “inevitable success” which revolutionary Marxism enjoyed in the twentieth century, it appears very different—now that we know how the story ended, and now that we have taken note of evidence from the early Soviet years which everyone, for some reason, disregarded. If there was a historical inevitability, Marxists were not in charge of it. It relied on mass delusion, and it wasted human life mercilessly. Those who found themselves in the vanguard of historical inevitability would have been better off fleeing for their lives.]
Why is it that for Marx, Spengler, etc., history and the fate of society are higher than individual choice? Why are the processes inevitable? Because the very conception of the arena of life has made it a pure objectivity. Your acceptance that your only options for action are the ones provided by the rivalries of the nations, for example, thrusts you into an objective inevitability.
§F.4 In “Philosophy of Personhood and Dignity,” page 48, I defined the dilemma of whether to commit yourself to your authentic personality-option. An entire, coherent personal identity is “authentic” if it is a matter of preference and self-loyalty. The usual notions of an authentic personality-option locate that option in one’s present. It may be hidden in one’s present.
[For some people, their conception of their authentic personality-option is heavily cued by fads. Other people don’t have a discernable authentic personality-option. They acquire a purpose by joining the army, joining a cult, or the like. There is the non-conformist who acts out a selfish lust (a serial killer or child molester)—the rest of us apprehend him as a marauding predator. As to the latter cases, I do not dwell on them because I have no reason to. I favor an integrity, discipline, and astuteness which happen to encounter wide discouragement and penalization. Permit me to notify you that I am not equidistant between myself and those who oppose what I do. These observations take care of all questions as to whether there are value-judgments or moral judgments in this manuscript.]
For certain reasons, your authentic personality-option can be problematic for you. You may refuse to acknowledge your authentic personality-option because you assume that other people will censure you for it. [As I have already noted, I have no reason to dwell on people who are liable to censure because they are marauding predators, for example.] Even if you are clear what your authentic personality-option is, that does not in the least mean that your life will be smooth sailing. There are all sorts of reasons why clinging to your authentic personality-option may require a desperate struggle. That holds even if you are not swimming against direct social disapproval. Whether to commit yourself to your authentic personality-option is a dilemma of esteem, morale, etc. in which one or another realized choice must occur.
People can have what I consider talent and let it slip away (fall off the high wire). 1) They have been misled, subjugated so horribly that they don’t recognize their talent as such. They have an option which is hidden in their present. 2) Nurturing their talent is not worth it; it would only be a demanding hobby, isolating them from people, not affording a livelihood. They opt not to try, so their talent, potentially valuable though it may be, evidently does not count as the authentic option. These cases may matter to me in the sense that I lose these individuals as allies. It’s an open question how much this study should worry about reclaiming people who have already fallen off the high wire. (13)
Let me spring a surprise, and give an example intended to show that there could be connections, opportunities, realms of choice in the person-world which thingist sociology would never notice. [Here I launch into a stock speculation, “the personality-option which comes from the future.” One might think that we would be better served to address the obvious phenomena which engulf people’s daily lives. But my speculation is needed for my argument; my argument is nothing without evidence of trap-doors in societal objectivity. As for the obvious phenomena of daily life, whether they are germane depends on whether they bear on people’s capture by a thought-modality. I do not want to formulate a psychology of banal life whose lessons are banal.]
What I, Flynt, am, in the year 1981, is far more vivid and well-organized than anything I could have imagined or even understood in the year 1956. [And all the more in the year 2001; otherwise I couldn’t improve this manuscript.] Unlike people who accomplish something they did not expect because they are commandeered by the consumers of their talents, what I am now has no overall outside cue, paradigm, or promoter. From the standpoint of the year 1956, my “role-model” existed vividly and coherently, but it existed without a name, and only in the future. The notion that what I did in 1956 or 1960 (or what have you) was to commit myself to a contemporaneous hidden self is not plausibly adequate. It makes sense to say that what I have done has been copied from my future self. In 1956, my present was relatively vague [not only vague; I was steered in the wrong direction in the early years]. My future was the distinct original.
My life manifests steadily growing potentiation of a fundamentally and pervasively deviant stance. 
To guide myself toward this future was a matter of pronounced willfulness in a condition of uncertainties. Not only would it have been possible to drift rather than to push toward the distant role-model; subjectively I often had to gamble—even if my purpose remained fixed. Thus, I want to suggest that one’s authentic personality-option can come from a systematic and coherent, but incomparably novel, future.
When one’s authentic personality-option comes from a systematic and coherent but incomparably novel future, then the dilemma is a crisis which compresses one’s future into one’s present—a moment in which future and present touch each other. The crisis gives one some choice over the way one’s future shapes one’s present. (By affirming or denying the role-model from the future, one guarantees or nullifies it as a future?)
Let me be urgently personal. Culturally preordained alternatives may stipulate that failure is the punishment which a person with my authentic personality-option deserves. If I accept the options I am given (and especially if I accept the authorities’ professions of their conscientiousness), then I will be destroyed. But I broke the alternatives. By doing the unexpected, I sprung myself out of a failure which was culturally predicted and imposed. Choice can have a scope not acknowledged by social-objectivism.
I was and am an unsavory deviant to plenty of people. But in this study, we make distinctions between one sort of deviant and another. There is no reason for me to dwell on an assortment of deviants.
The consideration that I might die before some long-range plan of mine could be carried out—which Heidegger harps on—is the least important concern; since I do not live my death. What is of concern is that some unexpected event might shatter my plans while leaving me to live in the wreckage. [Yes, that is why death—suicide—is preferred.]
The undertaking of committing myself to a role-model coming from the future must be distinguished conceptually from any assumptions about
—the external reward that will accrue to actions I may take.
—what part I will play in some objective historical process.
To choose a course of behavior now, solely because of the supposed rewards which will accrue to it in the future in some objective historical scheme, is self-denying—and more than likely senseless.
In everyday existence, I always make my world through choice.
The significance of my choice will be obliterated by “historical inevitability” only if I commit my loyalty to a nation and its fate, or some comparable societal objectivity.
[Well! in the realm of societal objectivities, “empires” would not be possible if people’s notions of their self-interest could not be twisted in a way which made people accept the role of pawns. In history, revolutionary movements do sacrifice people recklessly—and they “succeed” (without bettering people’s lives) . Nineteenth-century Russian Nihilism from Nechaev to the Social Revolutionary Party. (k) Human existence as we know it depends not only on people’s desire for humdrum comfort; it depends on their willingness to be pawns. In fact, their humdrum comfort is tied to their submission to goals that have been invented for them by manipulators. They don’t know any goals better than those assigned to them by manipulators. Let’s say it this way: the autocratic cynicism which sees humanity as divided into the controllers and the herd must be realistic. If it were not, then human history as we know it would not have been possible. Crass, manipulative sociologies cannot be dismissed. Only a heroic vision offers any chance of detouring around them.]
I do not suggest that the avoidance of senseless self-sacrifice requires me to retreat every time. Defiance as a stance in the situation of the moment can be appropriate, or necessary. My self-expression—combining both a gamble in anticipation of the future, and a need to manifest myself in “interpersonal space” now—may require me to be confrontational.
What makes sense is to be loyal to a future which is self-expressively potentiating. (If you are capable of it!) This means that one’s actions should be preparation and self-contained self-expression—preparation, and a solution for the moment.
What makes sense is to conceive undertakings which cut across the established metaphysical dichotomy of my private world and the “real,” societal world; and which bring accomplishment within the scope of choice.
• • •
§F gave examples of connections in the person-world which thingist sociology must overlook. I will now turn much more directly to the topic of undermining and transforming person-worlds, with special reference to crises of morale.
So far, all of my experience in trying to influence other people at the level of crises of morale is quite straightforward. I have no approach for influencing other people other than the truism of taking them seriously.
I look for people I can take seriously. I look for people who are not “extinguished.” I enter upon a friendship and colleagueship with them. I learn their presuppositions, their thought-vocabulary, while “socializing “ with them. I begin to express my ideas in their thought-vocabulary; while seeking to produce work which represents a joint evolution of views. I have to admit that this approach does not break through the thought-disparity between Western culture and my new modalities. Namely,
—In order to bring people into a range which is worthwhile to me, I need to pull them too far away from where they are. The real gap in predilections is too great.
—From my vantage-point, the people I know have incomprehensible but irremediable lacks.
[I am making a pessimistic admission. I never had the luxury of starting on the same page as another person. I make an adaptation in which my insights get translated into lessons in their frame of reference. It’s not limited to their discursive beliefs. It involves their motivation profile. I and the other person never leave our respective frames of reference. An actually collective undertaking never commences.]
I am, of course, speaking from my vantage-point. People do not often astonish me in positive directions. The pressure to fit in and to reap recognized rewards is immensely greater than my influence on them. Over the years, the people I know settle down, to put it euphemistically—they slip into the mainstream, or a mainstream. Generally there is no dramatic breakthrough, or no breakthrough. Belonging vaguely to upper bohemia, they need to picture themselves as radical, but it is a Walter Mitty adaptation.
The lacks are the baffling problem. In the perspective of the post-scientific thought-modality, people have motivation profiles characterized by deficiencies and impairments which so far have proved irreversible in biographical time. That is, these lacks act as if they were congenital impairments, even though they are palpably culture-correlated. Figuratively: a person who believed the earth was flat, and couldn’t change, no matter what. (14) How can this condition be biological?—and yet how can it be cultural? In any case, I have no choice but to wait for people to appear at random who possess skill-potentials and motivations that I don’t know how to give somebody.
“Personal change. Radicalism. Opposition.” Again, let me convey who the protagonist is here. Is the topic mass fashion, or is it an individual who is promising in the terms of the present discussion? The two almost certainly militate in opposite directions. Mass fashion in “oppositionalism”—the youth rebellion industry—gives every evidence that the present civilization is in a demoralization trap from which escape is impossible.
Starting in 1970, 1975, or 1980, the downside of the trend-setting crowd has become increasingly obvious. I continue to speak of punk and the zine value-system. Deconstruction, for our purposes, is the zine value-system wrapped in anachronistic pedantry. Affecting to have left truth behind in favor of total irony, punk man is in fact oblivious to the searing power of truth. The only achievement which punk man offers is betrayal, and he is proud of it. He cannot be an actual revolutionary because he seeks no truth, and because he is incapable of mutual trust in adversity. To attempt anything today which involves trusting another person with your life would be beyond inadvisable—it would be absurd.
There is rapid social change today, but it is not revolution. It is a money-driven embrace of demoralization by the trend-setting crowd. The only form of “opposition” to the status quo is personal disintegration—or better, the exploitation of the mystique of personal disintegration to make money. I won’t repeat the examples I gave in connection with punk in §E.2. (15)
The very people who have a lot of worldly success to show for themselves exhibit despair and hollowness in crisis proportions (although these affections are well-concealed behind a mask of banality). They act as if they had committed to the “oppositionalism” of crredulity, misbehavior, demoralization before they were born. It’s the same question: how can it be biological?—and yet how can it be cultural? Again: the trend-setters having embraced these values, surely the civilization’s fate is being affected. I see a demoralization, a pervasiveness of despair, which is so obvious that I can’t resist noting it. If there is a sudden catastrophe attributable to this loss of hope, I will feel like an idiot if I haven’t predicted it loudly and clearly.
• • •
§H.1 In the past, I have referred to the thought-content which I propose for post-Western civilization as a collection of intellectual modalities. But it will now be convenient to refer to the “overall ideational thrust” of a given civilization simply as the civilization’s thought-modality. For example, the thought-
modality of modern Western civilization would be specified (at least at some obvious level) as capitalist scientism. [That is what is new and “constructive” in modern civilization.]
I have noted that the aptitudes or motivations which enable a person to respond to the post-scientific thought-modality are beyond my power to instill. This circumstance will become an impasse unless I detour around it. Thus, in the discussion which follows, I will not distinguish between the problem of provoking a crisis of morale in another person, on the one hand, and the identification of spontaneous conditions affecting oneself which produce a crisis of morale, on the other. In other words, the distinction implied above between influence-technique [contrived and manipulated situations] and spontaneous emergence [occurrences] is now dropped.
The cases I will discuss are intended to model the transition from one thought-modality to another. (Apocalyptic transitions.) The cases may also model personal transitions which are less than apocalyptic, which are humdrum. But again, I am not after a humdrum psychology. If the cases to follow are applicable to humdrum life, that could mean that they are too shallow for my purposes. [The entire essay is at risk on this score.]
[I begin with an account of how a person becomes disaffected as they discover that they have been participating in a group for the wrong reasons. Individual apostasy, defection. The case of the person who joins an existing institution to take a stand, to become who they think they ought to. Then, much later, they realize that they don’t support the institution to the point of being willing to sacrifice themself.
So I am talking about the person who joins a pre-existing, institutionalized endeavor and rises through the ranks. Their intended role is to mold themself to externally supplied norms. Most people abide with the externally supplied identity, eventually becoming one with it. (Irreversibility of biographical time.) (m)
When the group is an odd and precarious voluntary organization, then the recruit who lets the group supply his or her standards and goals is on vacation from the vastly more substantial surrounding society. He or she opts to ignore the surrounding society’s norms. The recruit is functionally like an impersonator or infiltrator. It is not surprising that after a time, he or she becomes an apostate or defector. But this case is not typical.
So I offer a generic account of having a “revelation” and bailing out of an institution. I thought that was where prospective associates of my would come from. But no. The people I met who had gained a position with the Establishment did not have revelations which led them to defect to a social limbo. A crisis of disaffection on the part of somebody who has risen through the ranks of an institution is an anomaly.]
On a voluntary and consenting basis, one enters into a collaboration with other people over a period of time which involves significant responsibilities among the collaborators. Over a period of time, this collaboration produces an “objective” situation or outcome which is their joint responsibility. And which also makes demands on their responsibilities to each other. [The actual case in point concerned a member of a “directorate” which governed a vast army of subordinates.] At the same time, as a result of the prolonged collaboration, one comes to play a definite role in the group, a role which has the character of a habit. When one is with the group, one falls into one’s role and begins to perform the routine functions of one’s role by habit.
One may secretly lose confidence in the group’s enterprise, and even wish to defy the group. Nevertheless, one continues to conform outwardly because one is too isolated, and sees no opportunity which will support one’s inclination.
The group’s actions may carry it into a situation dangerous to the group as a whole. At the same time, other members may experience the same loss of confidence that one does. Thus, while one’s loyalty is weakening, one is participating in actions which carry the entire group into danger, and which may thereby polarize the interests of the “enthusiasts” and the “disaffected” (to whom one belongs).
As in any abnormal and dangerous situation which demands responsible action from oneself, the routine of one’s life may be drastically disrupted—including the day/night, sleep/waking correlations. One may undergo prolonged tension and exhaustion. The crisis floods one with experiences more rapidly than one can assimilate them.
Both in strategy conferences with the group, and in rare periods of seclusion, one may experience moments of total disaffection, in which the group’s ideology seems to be an enormous hoax and the group’s enterprises seem to be contemptible. In seclusion, one may begin to judge the group like a complete outsider. One may question and repudiate one’s own past beliefs, choices, and deeds. One may also experience incoherent or uncontrollable thought-streams or ‘hallucinations.”
It is a crucial condition that your own past commitment, participation, and action have helped to sustain the group and to bring it to its present dangerous juncture. Thus, if you shrink from what the group demands from you now, you must admit that your preceding life as a whole has been “improper.” You must face the question of whether you will begin a new life.
Another crucial precondition is that you must be willing, when shocked by the shattering of an illusion, to admit in retrospect that you were partly responsible for creating that illusion and the state of danger. (One who denies responsibility, realized choice, foregoes the value of life’s episodes as learning experiences.) To be able to admit a mistake in judgment, and not to equate that mistake with your whole self, allows you a path along which to change. If, on the contrary, you have to believe that the only reason you ever find yourself in danger is because other people betray you, then you cannot acknowledge the question of whether you will begin a new life.
A point may be reached where you have one outlook in isolation and another when meeting with the group. The group has two holds on you. First, there are the habitual role and busy-work into which the group can thrust you. Secondly, there is your own past complicity, and your present responsibility to help protect the group from a situation which you helped to create.
The conclusion is that whether there is a place outside the group to which you can defect will be important in determining whether you will defy and leave the group. (Well, that’s the sociologist’s demonstration effect.)
§H.3 In the preceding case, your conflict with the group consisted in having long since defected inwardly, while being afraid to resign your responsibilities outwardly. But a similar situation is possible in which a different aspect is foremost. One may introduce a personal variation into the aims of a group, and in the name of the group pursue some undertaking beyond one’s authorization. If the group rebukes one, then the issue of the relative worth of the group’s authorized aims and actions, as opposed to one’s variant, is forced into the open. One has to decide whether one’s variant justifies a widening disloyalty to the group. Often such a variant results from making a fetish out of one of the group’s ideals at the expense of all the others.
[Evidently I allow for the possibility that logic, no less, can have an undermining effect, if it is used in the attempt to make Western thought coherent with or within itself, and is pushed to the point of frustration and disillusionment.]
The person who overemphasizes one consideration may end in an inferior and unproductive position. [factionalism in a disciplined organization] However, if one’s judgment that one’s variant can be the basis of a new synthesis is correct, then one has justification for widening disloyalty to the group.
This case implies that the dissident is a fully self-propelled innovator. [However, the sub-case of the logic-fetishist does not imply that the dissident is fully self-propelled.] But I am still after a technique of proselytizing. The focus is still on the part that exterior influences can play in personal transitions. I don’t want the transformation to have to be motivated entirely from within.
Speaking of the individual who joins a group to take a stand, the more difficult scenario to formulate concerns the subject who co-creates the enterprise. (n) Self-motivated collaboration for purposes which the society at large opposes. Then the problems specific to a combat organization become open questions. Shall the prospective recruit’s agreement and commitment be formally tested by the enterprise’s founders? How will decisions be made for the group? Authority and hierarchy: shall the organization have rank and military discipline?
We are viewing the policy-making of a combat organization from the vantage-point of the organization’s founders. The necessities, in war, to incur losses:
—an engagement with the enemy will have casualties, which cannot be calculated precisely;
—subordinates are assigned to a hopeless mission, to draw the enemy.
The latter is the case of duping one’s subordinates for justifiable reasons (?). The decisions faced by a commander who is responsible for the welfare of a collective under mortal threat. Roosevelt set up two thousand sailors to be killed by Japanese at Pearl Harbor in order to put America at war with Germany. It was the strategic goal which he had been trying for over a year to accomplish, without success.
§H.4 The cases of §H.2 and §H.3 have concerned the role of a threat or a rebuke as an spur for change. [External events force a person to jump. Negative motivation.] Another sort of spur is the materialization of an opportunity. The advent of a ready-made opportunity to strive to meet previously repressed needs.
People are kept in thrall to certain traditional thought-modalities because the latter compensate in fantasy for the failure of needs to be met in the ostensible world. In particular, a thought-modality may offer pure escape from the ostensible world into fantasy. A related case. A sterilized, predictable activity like mathematics can provide an approved occupation to the practitioner, and at the same time shield him or her from emotion and desire in certain respects.
If an opportunity erupts in the ostensible world, it can be a spur to abandon the traditional thought-modality. The individual has to be placed in a situation in which benefits he or she never hoped for can be obtained through engagement with the ostensible world, through his or her realized choices.
Of course, whether the individual will be able to respond to the opportunity will depend on what he or she brings to it. Engagement requires active risk, where resignation can remain passive. Engagement also requires one to “grant other people’s right to exist,” and to pay attention to other people, in a way that resignation does not.
§H.5 The cases discussed in §H.2 and §H.3 both involve one’s becoming disillusioned. [Well, more importantly, they involve having joined a going thing. We may expect the potential for disaffection to be greater if the recruit is hewing to norms he or she had no input in formulating.] The way you deal with disillusionment in general, as “life” forces it upon you, is important. Of course, as I already implied in §H.3, disillusionment can lead to an inferior and unproductive stance—as when a member of this or that group begins to make a fetish out of one of the group’s ideals at the expense of the other ideals. (Actually, a sophisticated “establishment” is likely to rebut a conscientious dissident by claiming that they have lost their sense of proportion. Sometimes this claim is a euphemistic way of admitting that the group’s real purpose is deceitful and mercenary. Sometimes the claim means “Yes we are flawed but it is not now possible to do anything about it.”)
Let us assume that the disillusionment we are discussing is an awareness of an actual and important flaw in a given pursuit or enterprise. This awareness faces a generalized social encouragement to turn back from disillusionment—to experience it as a defeat. But, to be personal, I reaped the rewards of deviance by probing disillusionment “to the dregs.” I ploughed through disillusionment to an outcome which was conventionally considered to be absurd and extreme, and then reviewed that outcome repeatedly until I extracted a new cogency from it. A precondition was that I felt that my disillusionment with the given “establishment” was a breach in that establishment from which I could gain an advantage.
§H.6 No single, isolated person is going to spell out the thought-modality of a new civilization in its entirety. There will be many parallel and complementary personal departures which will feed into the new thought-modality. [Perhaps—I’m being over backwards to be gracious.] I don’t mean ‘personal departure’ as a synonym for ‘creativity’ as that word is used colloquially. It takes more than one sentence to give the phrase anything like a determinate meaning. An alternate “way of seeing,” an individual hunch that the totality can be appropriated according to a different principle—or the glimpse of a gratification which everyday existence, or the established compartmentalization of faculties, denies to us. Such a departure can arise from ploughing through one’s disillusionment and sublimating one’s resentments; but it also arises in an esthetic insight, or in the awakening of a faculty which the existing culture has suppressed by compartmentalization.
To have lived one’s life with a personal departure, in latency, can predispose an individual to respond to other themes of the new thought-modality. [Well, once we decide to focus on individuals who are promising in the terms of this essay, this is a platitude. If the personal departure remains latent for years, why wouldn’t it expire? It would!]
§H.7 §H.2 covered the case in which a person functioning under the pressures I described might suddenly—without any logical arguments—see a pervasive error in their beliefs, and see a possibility of coping with the totality via a different integrative principle. We are concerned with the transition to a [the] post-scientific or post-civilization thought-modality, and this observation takes on a corresponding importance.
I evidently imagined that §H.3 covers the case in which logic can destabilize because it is used in the attempt to make Western thought coherent with or within itself and is pushed to the point of frustration and disillusionment. But logic is limited. Logical derivations cannot “compute” the new thought-modality—because the new thought-modality annuls and transcends reason and logic relative to the meanings these words have in the present civilization.
The “Is there language?” trap can be reconstituted within any theory (relative to the meaning that word has in the present civilization). But this circumstance can be totally obscure to a Western rationalist. Indeed, the trap can appear to be absurdly and trivially self-defeating. And primitive meta-technological procedures can appear to a Western rationalist to be senseless, because there is no comprehension, no empathy with the aims of the procedures. In principle, I can always educe a flaw in the Western rationalist’s logical arguments. But actually, it would be ineffective to engage in a running debate with Western rationalism, because as the flaw was educed, the rationalist—being blind to the overall absurdity of their procedures—would keep restating their position in a way which displaced the flaw from one juncture or level to another and back again. (And the Western rationalist can always protect their “delusion” by deforming the new ideas into their established thought-vocabulary, a deformation which will render them not only seemingly absurd but genuinely ineffective.)
The new thought-modality does not only ask the Western rationalist to renounce their self-importance (as every new idea does). (p) It does not only ask them to renounce their existing niche in the community (as revolution does). It asks them to renounce reason and sanity (relative to the meanings these words have in the present civilization), all the way to the inviolability of 1 ≠ 2, the conventional logical-perceptual coherence of objectivities, etc. etc. [Again cf. Tim Crane in Analysis, 1988.] Of course, one wants some overriding consideration to guarantee that such a drastic turnabout is a gain and not a liability.
To reiterate, the “Is there language?” trap provides a cognitive guarantee that reason is “lost.” But beyond that, the overwhelming demonstration will come as the new thought-modality shows that it can swallow up Western science. It will come as the new thought-modality shows that it can use “nonsense” to compute plans of action which accomplish what Western thought calls impossible.
For a Westerner, gratification must be painstakingly split so that it is experienced as logical gratification (correct reasoning, science) or as illogical gratification (poetry, emotion). It is even mandated materialistically in biology: left brain versus right brain. This division of human faculties is one of the most profound features of the Western thought-modality. It is why a Westerner will tell you, with a straight face, that the countervailing or contravening or controverting reality is Surrealism, for example. (As if Césaire’s avowal of 2 + 2 = 5 in a poem could weigh against science intellectually.) (16)
The split becomes another reason why a running debate with Western rationalism would be ineffective. Meta-technology offers a gratification which is outside and above the divergence of logical and illogical sensitivities. To debate Western rationalism would be to accept that the outcome of the debate could be accomplished within the logical channel. But on the contrary, meta-technology can be understood only when a sensitivity can be awakened which transcends the divergence of logical and illogical gratifications. This sensitivity may have to be induced suddenly, without benefit of logical arguments—in a total crisis in which pressures are not limited to those of logical argumentation. Too bad for contemporary neurobiology’s division of the brain into a science box and a poetry box.
In the accession to the post-Western thought-modality, natural language becomes a transitional medium. The natural language continues to be the unspecialized, substantive medium of thought; but it undergoes a continuous reinterpretation which cannot be computed logically. At the same time, other vehicles for the transmission of values should be explored.
§H.8 [I occasionally meet individuals who claim to understand that the new thought-modality is on offer—yet respond in a way that is too blasé for words. You sketch the possibility of the post-scientific thought-modality for them, and they say, “I dig it. What do you think of the Dodgers’ chances in the Series?” Or, “Don’t you think Habermas already said it all?” It is my observation that they acquiesce to what is routine in contemporary Western life. (Give or take Walter Mitty fantasies, give or take the lionization of self-destruction, etc.) They don’t think that anything is wrong in society—not really. They don’t think that there is anything to do—not really.
By my standards, they have espoused many abusive fictions, they ideologically mangle their own perceptions, there is no authentic self-expression in the way they spend most of their waking time, etc. If they shrug off an opportunity to resist that, after avowing that they dig the opportunity, something beyond “weakness” is involved. The obvious explanation is that they are bluffing for the purposes of a mere social occasion, as people so often do.
But the point is that I encounter this supposedly cognizant indifference often enough that it is beginning to seem like a crisis. I have to try to explain it to myself. Let me say what it would mean if it were not mere sparring in a social encounter (much as I might say what the zine value-system would mean if people lived it to the hilt). It would mean terminal demoralization. In the remainder of these remarks, I will analyze cognizant indifference as if it were exactly what it seems to be.]
A person is aware of the new thought-modality, and shrugs it off. That speaks volumes about their interpersonal comportment. They are willing to have all their interaction with other people remain at the level of a pretense. They are content for their entire involvement in the interpersonal arena to consist of play-acting dictated by other people. They are content for all their emotional interaction with other people to be a pretense or a misfortune. Surely they don’t claim to have a personal departure in the sense detailed above, but if they do, they are content to conceal it.
There is a way to restate the lesson affirmatively. The individual who pursues the post-scientific thought-modality will want to inject any personal departure they may have in the interpersonal arena, and will want to influence the interpersonal arena so that it becomes conducive to their personal departure. They will want interaction with other people aside from pretenses and misfortunes. Such an individual will consider meta-technology a necessity: they will support it whether they make any meta-technological discoveries or not.
If interaction with other people aside from pretenses and misfortunes is the topic, such interaction requires the individual to “grant other people’s right to exist,” to pay attention to other people in a way that goes beyond disengaged manipulation. That’s not trivial, because I met mercenary mythifiers—people who wanted a new myth because they hoped it would allow them to exploit gullible masses anew.
Obviously I am urging people to “become aware” in the sense I have conveyed at such length. But then I run into an expectation which was instilled by the cults of the Seventies, the expectation that the reward for “becoming aware” is that all your problems get solved. (It’s due to Hinduism, but there are versions of psychoanalysis which make the same promise.) So, I said in 1981, don’t expect that “becoming aware” will make your life easier. It won’t; it will give you a new array of problems. Self-expressive potentiation carries penalties. But, then, it is a dubious proposition to take selfish happiness as your goal. One who strives for selfish happiness as such will achieve, at best, a numb veneer of cheeriness and a denial of conflicts that ought to be addressed.
 The 1981 manuscript cited especially my 1979 revision of “Primary Study,” almost the only time I ever invoked that revision. It cited “Is Incredulity Self-Defeating?” (originally 1980).
 This discussion pertains to embryonic personhood theory. That does not exclude that this series of observations would apply to later versions of personhood theory.
 Here, then, was the occasion of this manuscript. Did the newly proposed personhood theory contribute to destabilization, or was it only a sort of administrative resolution?
 Not only in the sense of a general Turing machine, but in the sense of being systematized in terms of impersonal, qualitatively homogenoeous, discrete, permanently self-identical, rankable elements, and decidable operations thereupon. On the other hand, Hennix points out that impredicativity and undecidability give mathematics an aura of mystery to the adept. The lexicon is mechanical; the totality is not mechanical. This lesson should be kept in mind.
 Recognition such as Graham Priest’s mention of me in “Perceiving Contradictions.”
 It is worth repeating that the meta-technological method rules out appeals to hearsay or to occult powers which the “normal” person cannot possess. The textbooks say that a viewer should see the illusions I appeal to, which is why I appeal to them. There is no excuse on this score for obliviousness.
 “Rebels” who are famous posthumously but were not successful.
 I am the only person I have met who has this sense of being attracted by a crystallized result—where the only satisfactory perspective for interpreting the beginning is the perspective of the later or last phase. (j)