Monday, May 24, 2010

Thinking and Response

May 21, 2010, Friday: An insight on the train.
I was heading towards Center City Philadelphia and all of a sudden I had this thought, which I wrote down in the notebook I had with me, as follows:
"Thinking - of course - is response, responsiveness - and the philosophy of the West since Descartes is just a smokescreen.
Hence the moral act inherent in thinking -
Thinking - the spiritual organ of hearing"
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Not much, you say? Yes, not much. But I understood the little that it was in a new way. It seemed to crystallize something for me.
What is response? It is the inner or internal counterpart to what Robert Pirsig was exploring - that is, Quality. Response is our gesture to the "Quality" to the "Quality" in the world.
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The terrible error of Western philosophy -- was to make thinking cognitive. To really see this - get a glimpse of it - is to begin to have a dim understanding of the magnitude of the error under whose dominion we have placed ourselves... hence our political servitude, our moral incoherence, our slavery to appetite, to words, to appearances..........
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Indeed, it seems that the "progress" of Western thought increasingly led away from the concept of responsibility toward more and more thickets of intellectual abstraction. Is it any wonder that our cosmologists have followed in the same track? Western man lost the key to his own mind when he threw our honor and conscience -- those two qualities, according to Nikolai Levashov, which dispense with the need for "beliefs."
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There is probably a line of relation from "responsibility" to "participation" and back again. That is to say, that Owen Barfield wrote about "participation" in Saving the Appearances, tracing the idea from its classical form to its modern deterioration and diminishment and one may say, "derangement." But has there been any similar treatment of the concept of responsibility, philosophically speaking? The concept of Responsibility seems to have dropped off the precipice of theology, only to re-emerge shakily from the abyss in the form of war crimes trials and the like. Such books as The Nuremberg Fallacy (Eugene Davidson) are a monument to the lost or squandered possibilities of Western thought with respect to the issue of responsibility.
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I suspect that real understandings come slowly and in few words, after all.

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I hope -- to be continued.