The Formative and Separative Operations of Mind - 2
While the internal form of a "lesser whole" determines its function
in a larger system of organization of many other wholes, the function of each of them is interpreted by the consciousness of the larger system as also constituting its meaning, and with the concept of meaning the level of esthetical response is reached. Ethical judgment
is based on the exclusion of alternatives which do not "con-form" to either an individual or a collective judgment, value, truth, or even reality. Esthetical response
— at least when free from cultural prejudices and personal memory-associations — includes all the elements of an external situation in their interrelatedness.
In an esthetical response to a painting the interrelatedness of the colors and of the shapes they evoke is the factor generating the realization of the meaning of the painting. But if the viewer brings to the viewing of the painting the feeling that the color red, whenever stressed, is ugly and evidence of destructive energy, his or her reaction is ethically preconditioned. The preconditioning may be intellectual or emotional, it may be determined by the collective paradigms of the culture or the result of personal memory-reactions. In either instance the possibility of a truly esthetical response to the whole organization and meaning of the painting is at least partially destroyed. In the case of an ink drawing or engraving, form results from the contrast between black lines or areas and the white background. To consider the black evil and the white good is hardly possible, yet the shapes of the black lines or areas may suggest (or indeed intend to depict) unpleasant previous experiences in the world of nature or social activity; and as a result the ethical response may be obscured by emotional reactions. All characteristically emotional reactions have indeed an implied ethical basis: "This is good or bad for me, for my group or the society in which I participate."
When decisions have to be made in terms of a subsequent action which has to be performed or ordered, an either-or situation confronts the person who then has to operate as a subject charged with an executive choice. In some cases the choice obviously has to be made in terms of subjective desire with often immediate results: "I want what will happen, or I fear the consequences." In many other instances the issue is not emotionally charged; yet in all situations mind operates. It argues internally or in discussions with other minds, either on the basis of operative principles, group-traditions, and general social or business practices, or under strong personal feelings, intuitions, or even "voices" heard "inside the head." Such a level of mental activity implies that the subjective factor in the experience has become detached from the situation as a whole.(2
The possibility for the subjective factor in an experience to detach itself from the experienced situation is, as I already stated, the characteristic feature of the human stage of evolution. Freedom of choice requires such a detachment. It requires facing human situations with at least a degree of objectivity; and mind provides what is needed for objective response: discrimination. Discrimination, however, implies analysis. Analysis requires a separation of the analyzing mind from what it analyzes, and it also necessitates some kind of fragmentation — the fragmentation of a whole into parts, which in turn can be studied objectively as wholes fragmentable into smaller parts, and this ad infinitum
. This is the type of mental procedure followed in our present-day Euro-American science, and adopted by the greater part of mankind because "it works." The atom bomb worked! Where will mankind be led by such a mind whose stubborn association with ego gives an unquestioned validity and power of decision? This is a still unanswered and today unanswerable question.
The ego-mind is not the formative mind which operates in all phases of the Movement of Wholeness. It is only the first manifestation of a mind conditioned, and in a sense at least deviated and de-naturalized, by the development of the detachable type of subjectivity introduced in the earth's biosphere by our present-day humanity. It is the homo sapiens' mind. The image of such a mind's restless and argumentative activity should not obscure and distort the overall function of mind which is a cosmogenetic and form-building factor throughout the great cycle.
I shall now briefly suggest how this morphogenetic mind operates in the most characteristic phases of the cycle. But it is quite evident that when reference is made to prehuman and posthuman stages of being, only a reflection
of situations which transcend the possibility of human experiencing can reach even the most sensitive intuition.
Words here are confusing, and the evolution of Western philosophy has emphasized such a confusion by reversing the meaning of subject and object A subject detached from its experiences becomes an object to other subjects who (or which) it regards as objective entities in another world. Return
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