It shouldn’t surprise us to discover that we are good at being psychologists, seeing that we are our own subject matter.
But experts tell us that we need to be less subjective and more objective – to make objectivity the objective of subjectivity, so we can really surprise ourselves as we look upon ourselves as objects of the looking, thereby to get to know ourselves better.
However, there can be no objectivity without a subjective base to work from and return to with knowledge won – objectivity being a state of mind – whilst the fact of knowledge has no bearing in reality without a subjective reality to hold it in place, though we like to think it is otherwise, as if knowledge comes from the objects known.
Every word is a translation of a meaning, which we change by degrees when translating words into words, believing the words to be the source of meanings to be discovered. And so we find ourselves actively exploring what we have to say in the process of saying it.
Yet all the words ever stated and yet to be stated cannot encompass the meanings by which we bring them to life. And so we are able to debate interminably the meaning of what was said, sometimes admitting: ‘I think what I am saying is ….’.
The most momentous pronouncement of human thought relates to the recognition of thought as itself, in the recognition that ‘ideas are bigger than the brain that hatches them’.
Two astronauts visit a distant rock strewn planet and stumble upon a rock that is an exact three-dimensional effigy of the philosopher Aristotle. There is nothing else remotely like it and no evidence of prior habitation or visitation.
Is the astronaut who supposes it must have been created naturally, by chance, more realistic than the one who supposes the opposite? And if it could be created naturally, who would believe the mountaineer on earth, who happened to stumble across an equivalent example?
So how far does chance go towards the explanation of things natural, or vice versa? More particularly, how far does nature go in the explanation of things artificial, or vice versa?
Ideas of nature once pitched it as something apart, something different from us, but now we regard ourselves and our theories as having evolved as a part of that nature, so we can’t be that different in reality because there is only one nature – in which case our theory of evolution is really a theory of nature about itself, about a nature that now observes itself.
So what does this say about the differences we can see between a nature that thinks and one that doesn’t? Does it mean that one side of the difference, namely the nature that can’t see the difference, is more real than the side that can, or vice versa; or is this double-sided coin of nature created by a difference so startling that we can’t understand the one in terms of the other – as observers of something that is and is not something else?
The mind is unbounded. Thought travels further than the voyaging spacecraft. Our ideas see beyond the most powerful telescopes. The imagination takes us to places the body cannot follow. Perception illuminates the half-born light. Experience transforms the oblivious firmament. Knowledge transforms the unknown. Wisdom transcends the not-knowing.
No library is big enough to contain human wisdom, and it has always been so. But then we imagined limits to the imagination in the wake of technological advances once unforeseen; and we imagined that the mind of technology could overtake us, as if thought belongs to the thingness of the universe.
So the mind did to itself what nothing else could do – it bound itself in thoughts of its own limitations. Thus we stole our attention away from the wisdom of our ancestors who looked to powers extending beyond themselves – powers seen to transform the thingness of existence within a larger universe that expands into thought, then beyond within realisations we catch as figments of the imagination – a universe that is incomplete in all that is of the time being – a universe with a future that is more than all that it is in the present, that always was more than all that is, because of the enduring potential to be.
Scientific studies show that mankind and great apes share ‘personality dimensions’. We are all very intelligent animals. The Orangutan is said to qualify especially for the title ‘non-human person’ – because of their social abilities, they have been observed to spend less time on social issues and more time thinking.