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Henry Flynt

(c) 1995 Henry A. Flynt, Jr.


A. The range of positionings

B. Successful exhibition of a negative universal outcome

C. Precepts for an uncompromised format

D. Contending with unworthy readers

E. Lower precepts

F. Unfolding the constructive ventures

  1. Radical unbelief

  2. Ventures not centered on natural language or its discursive use

  3. Ventures in astute hypocracy or meta-technology

  4. Formal person-world methodology

G. Multistage intellectual transformation

H. The floating level of credulity

Appendix 1. Psychology of "Cognition"--Mathematical Maturity

Appendix 2. Rebuff of Occultism


A. The range of positionings

Most of my texts suffer, for one of two markedly different reasons:

(i) "Formidable" texts have the format of devolving from a negative assertion, which would trivially defeat itself ("all assertions are wrong," "all expressions are meaningless"). And I adduce "results" to the negative assertion, a cumulation of affirmations. On the face of it that would harbor added incoherence.

(ii) "Accommodating" texts ingratiate--affecting erudition and respect for the scholarly heritage. Another description of the same fault: the texts contain passages muscling the unworthy reader, citing "luminaries of the past" as a way of pulling rank.

I took up the topic of uncompromising positioning in e.g. "Comments on Cheshire-cat language-trapping," 1983. Now it is time to address the topic comprehensively.

For the exhibition of a negative universal outcome, the uncompromised format admits little variation.

Beyond that, my constructive ventures display a wide range of suitable positionings. Including, but not limited to,

A(#) exploration of radical unbelief

evaluational processing of experience

new intellectual modality

astute hypocracy


person-world analysis


B. Successful exhibition of a negative universal outcome

What is the path which avoids the fault A(i)? The text is in principle anonymous. The text engages the purported faculties of "you the reader" or "to whom it may concern." (Alternatively: the purported shared culture.) The text invokes the reader's emplacement in a given culture, with given competences. The text appeals to the knowledge which "the reader" would be supposed to have to be a prospective reader. The text locks on supposed shared premises in which the reader is invested.[1]

Again. The text meshes with a pre-given medium, namely "the reader's" purported faculties. It appeals to that knowledge which the reader would be supposed to have to be a prospective reader, in a way which evades the reader's dismissiveness. (But it shouldn't invoke any doctrine not required for the result.) Because the conventional competences are honored, the reader who claims to belong to the target culture is compelled to respect the text and to invest in it.

The text instantiates that which is at issue, and arrives at a "vertical contradiction."[2] The text short-circuits linguistically embodied cognitive thinking as such, from within. It short-circuits the medium of which it is a sample.

Instantiating that which is at issue, the text exhibits the result. (It does not assert what is trivially self-defeating except as a juncture which cannot be excised from the medium.)


The text might be a single page:

--which makes no social or historical references;

--which provides no explicative theory of language, truth, and cognition--or of logic, identity, and existence.

One might complain that if it is seriously in question whether language exists or whether knowledge is possible, then any careful exposition (including defined distinctions) is a pedantic absurdity. (Defined distinctions are important in "Refutation of Arithmetic.")

A careful exposition can be suitable: if I start from the standpoint that academic rationalism is a community of meaningful discourse--even though there are conceded to be isolated difficulties. I copy the premises of the target belief-system; and thus its adherents are compelled to respect the exercise. Now if academic rationalism is a community of meaningful discourse, then certain outrageously simple or basic distinctions or theses, even though outrageously simple or basic, should be solidly operative and should be accountable for in the academic rationalist belief-system. If the system goes crazy trying to live with these distinctions, then I have achieved a controlled reduction to absurdity.


Digression on skepticism. The word skepticism is applied to various distinguishable postures. Sometimes I use the word for a beneficial posture. "Refraining from perpetuating tradition for the sake of tradition." "Realizing that a conventional determination of reality is not inescapable." "Realizing that a `manifest reality' depends on credulity."

In the history of thought, skepticism has meant a device to frighten the reader into unquestioning faith. Or a rhetorical device to introduce a postulate which plays the role of affirmative certainty. Or the posture that we are puny in the face of the immensity of knowledge.

Formal agnosticism. The position that every affirmation/negation pair is meaningful, but that our cognition is forever suspended equidistant between them. This agnosticism is unworthy because it is pre-Carnapian. It is an admission that the critique of the language of the question has not been made. It is reactionary servility.


C. Analytical precepts for an uncompromised format

Here is a list of nonspecific precepts whose fulfillment warrants the label uncompromised format. Provisionally, the text must be written as a memorandum to myself: so that the differentiation of myself from the reader--and the defensiveness and ingratiation and rank-pulling--become irrelevant. Where this explanation does not go far enough is that even "entries from my own diary" are disallowed.

The "rumination" begins in the presumed shared culture, but instead of taking it as a platform on which to stand, the rumination descends, via the instabilities and vulnerabilities of the presumed culture. It does not descend to affirmative propositions, to results needing to be truths. Rather, it evokes a new mental ability. At the outset, the meanings are the presumed normative meanings; but beyond that, it is up to the reader to impute an advantageous meaning, one which unlocks the new mental ability (after all, the rumination runs beyond the presumed normative meanings).[3]


1. The text is an anonymous impersonal discourse which implants in the competence of "you the addressee," "to whom it may concern." A text without located authorization.

2. When the presumed shared culture to which the reader claims to belong is the target, then the text locks on to that culture. Because the conventional competences are invoked, the reader who claims to belong to that culture is compelled to respect the text and to invest in it. "You the reader" obtain meaning by imputing it; since you precede according to the competencies of the presumed shared culture, you arrive at the normative meaning.

3. Once I pass to new intellectual modalities (very early examples were "Concept Art" and "Energy Cube Organism"), the endeavor is somewhere between culturally normative meaning, as before--and apparitional meaning, where the endeavor no longer wants to defend conventional meanings. Now the reader is responsible for gleaning something to his or her advantage. Nevertheless, if the text does not satisfy the requirements to follow about experiential evidence and replicability, then the reader has no reason to respect it.

Even though the endeavor does not have as its destination a short-circuit of the conventional mentality, it should succeed in militating against the conventional mentality. That is the principle of astute hypocracy, meta-technology, breaking the framework of objectivity, etc.

4. A new intellectual modality must be positioned to manifest that it is independent of truth (of possession of truth). (I don't wish to give a parochial definition of truth here, because it isn't necessary, and would lessen the scope.[4]) "Belief is involved only as apparition." The new modality consists of thoughts or experiences such that the possibility of thinking or experiencing them is significant because it is held by the culture to be impossible. To manifest new mental abilities; to elaborate concepts such that the very possibility of thinking them is a significant feat. The achieved conditions or junctures alter the boundary of the conceptually possible; in other words, a new mental ability is attained.

Emotional gratification is not a priority; the endeavor has a value independent of emotional gratification.

5. Established diagnostic descriptions of perceptions are employed as mere appellations. (As when I use the psychologists' phrase "hypnagogic hallucination"--I don't want the reality-judgment which it carries.)

6. a. Experiential evidence consists of what the reader can replicate or match from instructions in the text. Every procedure has to be interpersonally replicable; or to employ interpersonally comparable subjective resources. [5]

b. An ascription of bad faith or self-deception to reader must be introspectively testable. The self-deception must be discernable to self-observation (introspectively recoverable). [6]

The question of personal testimony unexpectedly turns out to be a deep one, dividing my output into two branches.

On the one hand, an uncompromising presentation does not offer an autobiography which distinguishes the author from the reader, which asks for trust. An anecdote will help explain this severe requirement. An acquaintance of mine earned an M.S.W. One of the courses required a case study of an ethnic family through three generations. My acquaintance simply fabricated the interviews, and received an A. The uncompromised format solves the problem of lying by depriving inquiry of topics about which to lie.

On the other hand, personal testimony is crucial in an entire range of my work, including all the constructive ventures listed as A(#).

--My formalization of the logic of dreamed world-states wants to be responsive to the texture of particular dreams. I don't want a formalization which levels the cases to a perfunctory abstraction.

--Certain configurations of the person-world are illuminated by specific experiences. Superior obscurity; my premonitory dream of October 30, 1988. It would be absurd to level this evidence to a template for someone else to fill; the meaning resides in uniqueness. In fact, the greatest risk, in inquiries into these configurations, is the risk that goes unseen: that I make dissimilar situations into a class. They need to be surveyed in their dissimilarity.

In general, the texture of the evidence's uniqueness is what is important. I admit that it is peculiar that an uncompromised presentation has to discard this evidence after using it. The following precept is stringent indeed.

7. There must be nothing distinguishing author from reader, such as specific autobiographical evidence. When I have derived a paradigm from personal testimony, that testimony is discarded after being used. We are back to 6(a). Illustrations come from the reader who matches the specified type with his or her experience.

8. Ideally, the proximate text would not cite another text unless the latter could be pasted to the proximate text to produce an extended text with a uniform posture. (No text may be cited to ingratiate or intimidate the reader, to impose an object-lesson.)

9. I may appeal to any cultural competence which is required for my result and which the target audience is supposed to possess. It is then possible to ask a question which is not on the agenda here. Which audiences possess which competences, and what is the nature of the aptitudes which broader audiences may not possess? I found that in an intellectual showdown, "science men" deny that they remember dreams and deny that they experience standard perceptual illusions. There is an opportunity here for a new [psychology of "cognition"] (near the bottom of the tree) which assesses culturally presupposed clusters of aptitudes: the aptitude to remember dreams, to experience perceptual illusions; elementary arithmetical competence. Is everyone who reads English supposed to be able to see that the sentence `This sentence contains five words' is self-validating? (I.e. does the ability to understand language entail the ability to count? Note that number-words are in the vocabulary; and syntax already distinguishes singular and plural.) What about the aptitude for thinking in generalities--does the ability to understand language entail the ability to generalize? A highly provocative cluster of aptitudes is called mathematical maturity. I review it in Appendix 1. The point is, of course, that whether or not my ventures appeal to mathematical maturity, I view that cluster of aptitudes as warped, and endeavor to shatter it.

10. There must be no reference to personages (including great thinkers of the past).

11. There must be no assertion of the author's personal credentials.

12. History. "Consensus historiography" is only a makeshift: pending rational reconstruction of the intended result. What that means specifically is that e.g. my critiques of mathematics which depend on reviewing the historical record have ultimately to eventuate in appraisals which rationally dismantle contemporary mathematics without making an issue of where the latter came from.

13. Text should not have style formatting (sleeve-tugging). Every word should have the same weight.


Let me capsulize.

1. The exercise must invoke only what is needed of the presumed shared cultural competence.

2. Beyond (1), the reader is responsible for imputing meanings which yield something to his or her advantage.

3. The results must not need to be truths.

4. Experiential evidence needed for the exercise must be reconstitutable, replicable, by the reader.

5. Any self-deception ascribed to the reader must be introspectively recoverable by same.

6. In one branch of the studies, there may be no autobiographical reference distinguishing author from reader.

7. The proximate text may not cite another text unless the latter could be pasted to the proximate text to produce an extended text with a uniform posture.

8. There must be no reference to personages.

9. Consensus historiography is only a makeshift, a parable.


D. Contending with unworthy readers

When producing compromised presentations, I filled the text with object-lessons from the canon. I inserted references whose only purpose was ingratiation. I contended rhetorically with readers whom I expected to be recalcitrant or unsympathetic or heedless or shallow. I expected my audience to lack the familiarity with hoaxes, swindles, legerdemain, hypnosis, and other techniques of cognitive deceit which should be the first lesson in philosophy. (To instruct the pre-indoctrinated and insecure reader in these matters should not be my task, but I thought that I had to do it anyway.)

The advent of the secular democratic republic supposedly permits me to announce my impressions of an institution of reverence which has not accredited me. But realistically, I expected my audience to be wedded to parochial fictions. I felt that I had to apologize for daring to speak as a noninitiate.

In section C, I give myself a long list of reminders of what to do and not to do. What do these reminders say about the reasons why I use compromised formats? I headed many manuscripts with the trivially self-defeating claim that I had proved that "all assertions are wrong," or that "all expressions are meaningless." I did this as a defensive move, of all things. I feared that if I did not put the reader on notice that I had smashed all the idols--that his or her something was a nothing--then he or she would take the text as a mere pastime.

In section B, I mentioned Carnap in conjunction with agnosticism as a reminder that formal agnosticism is already passé in the public history of thought. Ideally, I would want a reader who understood the point on its merits, rather than accepting it because I brandish the authority of Carnap.

In "The Apprehension of Plurality" and "The Counting Stands," I cite Hilbert and Wittgenstein in order to underline that my techniques do what cultural authority says is impossible. In two cardinal texts, Wittgenstein gave the example of coloring an area solid with two different colors as a metaphor for logical impossibility. I have never met anybody (even a professional philosopher) who already knew those passages in Wittgenstein, even though they are plain enough. I have to educate my readers in the very positions which they witlessly defend. I have to corner them to get them to compare the official dogma carefully with what I present. I have to corner them, in sum, to get them to concede that the counting stands do something which is impossible according to their masters.

It is all about dragging the audience down the road by the ears. Nobody wanted to walk ahead of me.

My slide into compromised presentations accompanied a long history of conversations (and other encounters) with possible readers. I found potential readers to have only the vaguest notions about the official doctrines of their native culture. I found them to be foreigners in their cultural home. They want to defend dogmas which they know nothing about and which they cannot articulate in a professional manner. Their modality is conformity and submission to "hip" authority, rather than personal assumption of responsibility. I end up having to teach them "their" culture so that they will know exactly why they are supposed to hate me. Who has ever met a reader who has a good general education? (Today, even to want a good general education is pictured as invidious.) Those who have gone through the syllabus lose the large principles in a welter of gossip about who has written on this derivative topic and who on that contrived controversy.

The public of my experience is dismissive as only shallow people can be. In "The Apprehension of Plurality," I consider it advisable to begin by reviewing the role of "the classical" (Hilbertian) stroke-numeral. That is strictly in the nature of a rehearsal for the more elusive Necker-numerals. The point is that I could furnish that review, concisely, without mentioning Hilbert and the secondary literature on him (Bernays, Kneebone). But if I let the reader think that I concocted "classical stroke-numerals," then the reader will dismiss them as worthless. (Nobody recognizes my "Death to Mathematics" button as a stroke-equation.) I have to brandish Hilbert's eminence to get the reader to take this accredited device seriously.[7]

Again, the lack of independent judgment. I have to brandish authorities because the audience I am familiar with demands authority. Many readers turn first to the bibliography to see which authorities the author knows. The reader is already blocked to an uncompromised format. It is for good reason that I rarely attempted it.


E. Lower precepts

Other studies of mine make partial investments in recognized sciences whose "object of study" is compelling. Physics; economics. These studies can be described as "lower on the tree." In connection with these studies, a lower list of precepts comes into play. To produce an uncompromised submission is no longer a consideration.

1. Reproducible observational pieces of science may be invoked. E.g. optical interference. E.g. the phenomenon of dreams which echo waking traumas (or anticipate waking ordeals). Invoked not as "realities," but as configurations in lived experience, subject to alternate evaluational processing of experience.

2. A "sectarian conclusion" of science may not be invoked or utilized. E.g.

arithmetic contains its own syntax

relativistic space-time

quark chromodynamics

deep structure in grammar

left and right brain psychology

the psychological doctrine of mental age and intelligence

the psychoanalytic architecture and hydraulics of the psyche

Such conclusions would only be mentioned as object-lessons for a recalcitrant reader.

3. Research results of social science which have to be verified statistically cannot be invoked except at the bottom of the tree (multistage intellectual transformation).


F. Unfolding the constructive ventures

Let me now return to the range of affirmative ventures A(#) which are capable of variously uncompromised positioning.

a. Exploration of radical unbelief.

Enigmatically, these are instructions for the ineffable. They must comprise an exercise in astute hypocracy--not directed to a new science.

The analytical task of stripping imputed contexts of objectivity from experience. Radical unbelief does not mean not-having-one's-sense-contents. It means foregoing one's belief-interpretations of sense-contents.

In this connection, the language of perceptual reporting is a language of hypostases and hypostatizing compartmentation. If I report a perception by saying "I see a chair," does this mean a visual-chair-apparition, or are there inherent implications of an impenetrable, ponderable chair which endures (even for years), etc.? If the latter, then: could this language appropriately report seeing a chair in a dream? Out-of-compartment perceptions evoke unauthorized improvisations: the room is swimming; the air is twinkling.


b. Applying diminished credulity to the evaluational processing of experience.

In conjunction with other means of reconstituting the evaluational processing of experience, this yields alternative integrations of the experience-world. (The proposal about dreaming and a collective in "Determination of an Objectivity by Reciprocal Subjectivities.") I require the enterprise to satisfy the norms of rationality, empiricism, and cognitive parsimony at least as well as natural science does; so that the result cannot be dismissed as an effect of credulity.


c. Ventures not centered on natural language or its discursive use.

--Non-verbal media of transmission of cultural values. Access is afforded without instruction in natural language. (It does not rely on natural language skills.)

--Instruction in natural language accompanies the addressee's access, but drops out after it is learned. (It does not depend on natural language skills after it is learned.)

An advantage of LSD and illusions of the logically impossible is that they can open a door without a supplied verbal interpretation (unless the subject has been poisoned by conformist-delusive interpretations). Of course, the difficulty of the conformist-delusive interpretation cannot be underestimated. Evidently thousands of people saw my Logically Impossible Space in Venice (1990) without registering the perception I wanted them to have. Also, the unsatisfactory audience reception of the Sound Environments at the Kitchen, N.Y.C., February 1979.

Hypnotic demonstrations as evidence, in astute hypocracy. "The Chalk Game." Hypnosis can be a non-discursive use of speech.

What is dangerous about hypnosis is that it affords an "alternative reality" on the cheap which is not intrinsically worth anything. For hypnosis to be a beneficial technique, or beneficial evidence, it has to be harnessed to some larger endeavor spelled out discursively. The hypnotic subject cooperates in an exercise in fantasy; the "new" apparition conjured up in the exercise is not intrinsically worth anything.


d. Ventures in astute hypocracy or meta-technology.

When the perspective of a post-scientific culture became my priority, I placed the emphasis on ventures in astute hypocracy. The techniques which my research yields are typically the same whether they are incorporated in a "non-cognitive intellectual activity" or in a "new science."

Such ventures engage prevailing shared opinion. (E.g. what perceptual psychology has to say about multistable figures or negative afterimages of motion.) Or, they engage prevailing relative plausibilities. (E.g. intuitive arithmetic.) The venture then proceeds to manipulate this material with great ingenuity--in the perspective of the diminution of credulity. The venture passes to a "new knowledge" which satisfies the norms of rationality, empiricism, and cognitive parsimony at least as well as natural science does. These norms are mandated because results are wanted which can outcompete and overmaster natural science. The new knowledge is beyond the frontiers of the scientific culture; while being binding, in principle, on the (scientifically educated) audience.

I don't pretend that this "new knowledge" is cognitively absolute. It is at the level of relative plausibilities. It is at the level of imputation of contexts of objectivity in experience (the very habit which the rigorous approaches want dissolved).

Multiple ventures, then, proceeding in non-compatible directions, are possible. So there are multiple directions of departure from scientific reality, each relatively compelling. A profound, even "impossible" non-uniqueness of reality is evinced. (That might be important in relating my theoretical linguistics studies to ventures proceeding from radical empiricism. See section H.)

The logic of contradictions; the stroke numerals; the counting stands. These lift experiential resources from the scientific interpretative fantasies in which they were embedded. I combine these elements. I break methodological rules, or cross disciplinary boundaries (when the import of those restrictions was not to curb credulity, but to contrive a tendentious dichotomy of thought and thing). The outcome is what the finest minds of the civilization say is impossible, what they say is the definition of the impossible. That is not just a matter of taste. It is egressive or extra-cultural.

In "Subjective Propositional Vibration,"[8] I use a replicable device invented, presumably, by a psychologist (Necker).

In "The Logic of Admissible Contradictions,"[9] I invoke a primitive set theory solely to gain the advantages of notational shorthand--not to endorse Gödelian or Quinean Platonism.. Then, I invoke the general faculty reviewed in Appendix 1 below, mathematical maturity.

As I spelled out in section C, autobiographical reportage is excluded from the uncompromised format. Meta-technology and astute hypocracy, on the other hand, may devolve from reports of specific experiences. At this point I am still assuming a public which wouldn't want to foster occult delusions or fabricate evidence.

The power of these approaches is that the culture posits the truths of the exact and physical sciences and fragments of common sense to be unshakable. E.g. to dissent from 1 = 1 (once the irrationalist posturings of Surrealism, etc. are set aside) is supposed to be literally and utterly insane. A successful dissent from 1 = 1, then, is egressive, civilization-smashing, or whatever you want to call it.

Astute hypocracy affords modalities which no believer in physico-mathematical science could have foreseen. As these modalities will prove to be instrumentally consequential, my "preposterous" approach will prove to be more compelling than a "reputable" approach.

Section C shows the way to rewriting the meta-technological studies so that the high ground of 1961 is regained. The results can be freed from the need to be truths, for example. This is an immensely gratifying prospect. In this connection, there is a special issue which arises concerning the logic of contradictions. So far, I present this research in a presumed shared medium which pretends to be identitarian. It is an unjustifiable anchor for the inquiry--which needs to be disposed of.


e. Formal person-world methodology.

Because this text is a mnemonic for myself, I include more material on person-world methodology than is strictly required.

Person-world analysis starts from a culturally supplied tenet: my waking episodes have the longitudinal unity of a substantial self-and-world. These episodes comprise the proper arena for motivation, morale, and striving toward thematic futures. (As opposed to the "illusory" motivation and morale in a dream.)

Thematic identity relative to personal action, self and objectivities, morale, esteem, "sanity": conceived as a unified subject-matter.

The topic is the individuated, continual, motivated, thematic, imaginative integration of a regular self/objectivities configuration. (A process which is introspectively palpable.) The person-world is a personal microcosm--but not an unstructured microcosm. The configuration incorporates a reality-hierarchy (which has not been analyzed by any previous author).

The analysis takes personalistic subjectivities not only as palpable but as central. It takes what is palpably conscious as the totality.

Person-world analysis is addressed to "you the reader." The analysis begins in the culture to which the reader claims to belong already. It invokes the circumstance that "you the reader" think you already know a language. In this discourse, the word "I" is interconvertible with you the reader and is to be claimed conjecturally by the reader.

The person-world exposition is a text whose source is in principle unimportant. The text addresses "you the reader" and it engages you so that you invest in it. That is, the text invokes the presumed shared culture in which you are competent.

Indeed. The analysis appeals to "world"-conceptions which must be ordinarily familiar to a reader in this culture with conventional competences: the ordinary way in which I conceive myself as I cope. The analysis stipulatively selects a subject-matter from familiar conceptions: the individuated "conscious world" as it is integrated in action (or passivity or submission as the case may be).

But this portion of familiar conceptions is highly indeterminate and inconsistent. The analysis immediately selects certain tenets in the familiar conception to be taken literally and rigorously, to the extent of causing other tenets to be downgraded or suspended. In other words, certain tenets are posited literally and rigorously (and thus as rationally prior or elementary). The familiar conception is then scrutinized from this standpoint.

It is a paradoxical and undermining dynamic. It does not have to yield a creed to serve its purpose. If the pursuit of the analysis has the effect of unraveling conventional reality, that is an acceptable outcome.

The totality is taken as palpably conscious; and every proposition of the analysis has to have some confirmation from introspection. Validation of the analysis always involves a component of introspection.

The result is to utilize the chimerical commonality to unravel itself. Person-world analysis has a devolutional posture toward the purported shared culture.

So there is attained an analysis of "my microcosm" or "my encounter of my world."

Once the analysis of the person-world has begun, I may try to make the person-world serve as a picture of the whole which is ontologically self-contained. If I pursue this approach, then the circumstance that the person-world is a personal microcosm becomes the most refractory feature of the proposal. To elaborate on the notions which have to be accounted for, my self counts when it is the longitudinal, thematic unity of my waking episodes. My self is my self. All the same, I comport to "my" objects (this drinking glass in my microcosm) as everyone's objects. I comport to speaking and attending to speech as everyone's language. One of the shared notions is that of other people as counterpart sentiences. (Symmetry of people's claims to the pronoun "I.") The person-world exposition, in the course of analyzing "you the reader" as a personally relative totality, exposes your mental model of counterpart sentiences as being incoherent.

After acquiring the analysis, you may step to a higher level of credulity and inject the person-world portrayal into the common notion of counterpart sentiences. (That is, imagine person-world analysis to be a portrayal of other people's person-worlds.) At a higher level of credulity, the analysis can be bent to explain other people's consciousnesses. In other words, the analysis can be bent to become one of the hypotheses in the imaginative synthesis through which I respond to the world. After the first round of analysis, one indulges a higher level of credulity, and uses personhood theory's undermining analysis of an "illusory" structure to modulate the common notion of the structure.

All the same, the incoherence of addressing other people's consciousnesses has been spelled out and remains explicit. The goal cannot be coherence; it is to achieve a more authentically descriptive incoherence.

* * *

G. Multistage intellectual transformation

I come now to the bottom of the tree. Partial investment in recognized sciences whose "object of study" is compelling, such as physics or economics. [A codified field whose subject-matter we are unable to disregard.] We have to be able to say, "None of us is free of the object of study." None of us is free of the economy, or of physical resistances. Nevertheless, I do not thereby endorse sectarian theories in these fields.

I gave the "lower precepts" in section E.

At this level, the well-meaning researcher is not the sole audience. Reports of private experience are being bandied by a nondescript public. Then the research is open to deluded understandings of private experience which I link to occultism. It is also open to fabricated evidence, to untrustworthy reports. Then norms or safeguards come into play which are not properly the topic of this manuscript (as these faults are not the ones I introduced). Regarding the norms announced in my rebuff of occultism, I adduce them in Appendix 2 as a convenience. My methodology of trustworthiness can be found in my chapter in Depth Psychology on the psychedelic state.

* * *

H. The floating level of credulity

In my book on rhetorical theory, I note that we are driven to natural language if we want to discuss the "ethics of inquiry and judgment" (to mention the facet of inspiritedness directly involved in intellectual exploration). That is, the only received vocabulary from which such a discussion can start is: unspecialized discourse, natural language and common-sense phenomena.

My theoretical linguistics, rhetorical theory, and "dialectics"--and the psychology of "cognition" sketched in Appendix 1--are evidently ventures in multistage transformation. They may seem to make arguments opposite to "immanentism" or "empiricism" or "personal autarky." Actually, they no more prove the contrary of "immanentism" or "empiricism" or "personal autarky" than prayer proves the contrary of atheism. What really happens is that I opportunistically allow the level of credulity to float in order to elicit previously unnoticed junctures.

For example, my theoretical linguistics argues the alienness of one's native language. One's native language is an assumed identity. The degree to which one is not the author of one's native language.

Subsequently, I may fix the level of credulity and use the results of this linguistics to achieve dissociation or contrived estrangement.

My rhetorical theory finds natural language to be more unavoidable and oceanic than positivism told us it was.

* * *

Appendix 1. Psychology of "Cognition"--Mathematical Maturity

To what extent do I appeal to the reader's faculty for abstraction? That faculty has a name: mathematical maturity.

i. Permitting a geometric relationship B to be new territory even though there is a way to reduce B to the known geometric relationship A [a rigid transformation identifies B with A]. (E.g. that a 91deg. angle is something beyond an 89deg. angle flipped over.)

If the concrete mind's resistance to frame-dependent novelty were carried all the way, then a periodic evolute would be illegal. A sine curve would be illegal because any additional period can be made to coincide with what has already been labeled, by a translation. One can imagine a geometry for imbeciles: a sine curve has to return to the origin and start again when it reaches the end of a period. The outcome would be that there could never be a second "one," because such a "one" just repeats the first "one." Then a count to "two" would be impossible.

ii. Grasping the different roles of function symbol f( ) and independent variable x in f(x). (Given that the variable varies in any function of it, and that the function symbol varies over all possible functions.) The concrete mind complains that f(x) has two variables, f and x.

iii. Permitting the same letter to be the unknown in different contexts so that it receives different values.

iv. Permitting idealization: abstracting from details which are not needed in the exercise. The concrete mind demands display of every detail at all times.

v. Permitting a topical choice of coordinates or notations to make a problem manageable, or to isolate the variable that matters. E.g. [[Delta]]x for x2 - x1, and f(x + [[Delta]]x) - f(x) for y2 - y1. The concrete mind only accepts "the" notation.

vi. Permitting a calculation carried out abstractly to obtain an abstract answer. The concrete mind only accepts specific answers as solutions.

What is profound here is the following. So-called foundations of mathematics presupposes mathematical maturity; but if a person doesn't have it, then it is impossible to prove to that person that the foregoing abstraction techniques are permissible. Mathematics needs to start inside the mind of God, infinitely higher than proof can ever reach. The era of foundations or justificationism was claptrap.


Appendix 2. Rebuff of Occultism


Superstition needs to make claims of truth in order to ensnare you. In fact, its essential maneuver in merchandizing its miracles is to demand widened credulity. Superstition most definitely claims to provide knowledge of a common objective world: all that is special about the lower forms of superstition is that their validation is entirely a matter of suggestibility.

Occultist practices may purport to be validated by their ability to train you in new possibilities of experience. So far as I am dimly able to make out, occultism is concerned with the production of a sort of stupor through psychic deprivation, combined with credulity and suggestibility. It supplements the ordinary life-world with periods of stupor. So it is that the cited occult experiences are inferior logically and evaluationally.

1987, adapted from "Introduction to Meta-Technology for Non-Scientists" (March 1981)

I begin with an adversary attitude toward gullibility and toward phenomena whose existence is solely a product of gullibility. If a phenomenon can be abolished by unbelief, then the "reality" of that phenomenon is of a very low order. [This is too easy: because denial of certain genuine human faculties, for example, can serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy preventing them from being cultivated.]

I do not ask anybody to deny his or her experience just because it is abnormal, anomalous, or singular. But I ask that such experiences not be misrepresented and inflated through knowing self-deception--especially in reporting them to others. I object to the inflating of exceptional experiences through hyperbole which is culturally supplied. Reports of exceptional experiences can have serious uses if the reportage does not surround the experiences with chimerical objectivities; and if it takes a painstakingly critical attitude toward the "ontological" assumptions built into descriptive language.

1. I rule out brutalization as a means of psychological modification--that is, as a means of inducing hallucinations, of inducing forfeiture of responsibility, of inducing stupid credulity, etc.

2. I rule out appeals to occult powers which only the spiritually adept can possess--or which no "normal" person can possess. [That is too easy for the same reason mentioned before: it overlooks that there are genuine, culture-correlated disparities in human faculties.]

3. I rule out all appeals to hearsay, all miracles which inherently come as reports by a second person about what a third person did. Meta-technological procedures must be potential first-hand experiences; they must be instructions to be carried out in the first instance by "the reader." (addressee)

I have an attitude toward tales of miracles which is the reverse of the believer's. I criticize the genre of the second-hand report as such, and particularly the faith it requires in the transparency and objectivity of language.

4. I reject the notion that the purpose for which we have dreams, hypnagogic hallucinations, etc. is divination, or psychiatry, or consolation and the selfish hygiene of happiness.

5. If one person's anomalous experience can be replicated by other people on the basis of instructions for achieving the experience--so that the experience is intersubjectively replicable--then I accept the report of the experience.

6. If one person's anomalous experience is not specifically replicable, but occurs in a modality which is potentially accessible to others (such as dreaming), then I accept the report of that experience. But further requirements must be satisfied.

i. Objective consequentiality must not be claimed for the experience.

ii. The experience must be described as far as possible in language faithful to the apparition, not language burdened with traditional and stereotyped objectifications.

iii. The experience must not be surrounded with hyperbole derived from some tradition of occultism. That is, the experience must not be inflated in fantasy by claims of objective consequentiality derived from some occult tradition.

iv. Parenthetically, a researcher has the option of testing the consistency of a subject's report of an experience by conventional debriefing techniques.

7. I'm not seeking miracles which inherently are one-shot events that require the everyday world to remain lawful everywhere else. I'm not seeking objective, causal, thing-to thing relationships. I'm not seeking cause-and-effect technology; that is, a technology which takes place primarily "out there."

8. Religion allows for subjectivity or "humanness" by embodying it in people who live in the sky, objectifying human qualities--by displacing it to a realm of things which exist only in fantasy. In contrast, I require subjectivity and humanness to be my immediate/immanent subjectivity and humanness. The involvement of subjectivity must be unreduced and undisplaced.


The wholesale repudiation of the adept and of the role of high expectations is safe, but it is also too easy. There are genuine, culture-correlated disparities in human faculties. The key is that the uncanny faculties have nothing to do with comic-book magic. (The faculty of scientific abstraction would be uncanny to a culture which didn't have it.)

In the Middle Ages, precognitive dreams were accepted as a genuine phenomenon, and there was an accepted explanation of them--namely neo-Platonism's derivation of the corporeal levels from the spiritual levels. This was a chapter in the history of ideas in which scientific understanding was unapologetically supernaturalist. I affirm that there are uncanny faculties. As for the classification "supernatural," its methodology is the very occultism which is being minutely impugned here. Personhood theory gives these questions a great deal of attention.


Parapsychology hopes for magical powers at a comic-book level. It imagines a corny sort of causation by which the adept leaps ahead in an otherwise common-sense reality. It is usual for "mind-reading," etc., to be put over by exploitation of credulity and by knowing deceit. When the tricks of the professional magician, medium, fakir are set aside, I find the following.

One may have one or two strikingly prophetic dreams in a lifetime. But even to interpret dreams on the premise that their purpose is to predict waking events is a prejudice that few people would adhere to consistently. The successful prophetic dream is not balanced by insisting that all of one's dreams are predictions of waking events, and keeping track of the number of failed predictions as well as successful ones.

Even those occurrences which are not products of deceit, and strongly suggest a "paranormal" interpretation, are not sufficiently frequent, solid, reliable to force a research program. They do not justify foregoing the advantages of other research programs which criticize common sense and causality across the board and which are better contoured to the entirety of phenomena. (Parapsychology hopes for shortcuts in a reality which is otherwise banal.)

1. Mind-reading. The astounding lesson in this realm is not the occasional anecdote suggestive of telepathy. It is the number of instances in which one person is not understood by another person even though the one person informs the other by speech as explicitly, concretely, and thoroughly as possible.

2. Astral projection. There may be a kernel of actual experience, e.g. what is termed hypnagogic hallucination. But if that is what underlies claims of astral projection, then it is inflated by tradition-supplied hyperbole, and assigned a claim of objective consequentiality. (The astral adherent could just as well make this claim for every dream. But it would not be popular to do so.)

3. Meditation and claims of supernatural experience. Again there may be a kernel of anomalous experience, inflated by hyperbole; but now there is the additional consideration of prolonged autosuggestion in a withdrawn state in order to induce a tradition-supplied hallucination or delusion.

4. Hypnotic regression. Why can't the subject's story be pure fabrication?

5. Reincarnation. If souls can jump bodies at death, why don't they jump among bodies during life?