Sunday, 29 September 2013

Feeling, Thought and Willing - Individuation, Subjectification of the World & Ideology

It is reasonable to consider the mind as observably made up of the process of feeling (the flow of emotions), thinking (ratiocination, analysis, calculation, logic, reasoning, argument, debate) and willing. The question is how these relate to each other.

We might postulate that feeling is what one is at core, insofar as feeling arises from biochemical effects where the body relates to externals (environment and other persons) through perceptions in the mind. We might postulate that thinking is nothing more than a tool for the organism that feels, so the question arises what is the tool 'for' since a tool is not for itself.

However, the thinking may become 'for itself' if an the organism has vested feeling (the relationship between organism and environment) in the thinking process itself, in which case something has happened to turn thinking from a tool into something integral to the organism regardless.

It is possible that a shift of thinking as tool to thinking as feeling may be the basis for ideology and belief where ideology and belief have become tools of use to the organism. Believing in God, for example, is an emotion which integrates thinking into itself.

The question then arises whether an organism is more authentic as a feeling entity in command of thought or as an entity in which thought has been appropriated in part as part of feeling. The 'authenticity' relates solely to the state of the organism as a human being and this is where it gets difficult contra the easy assumptions about authenticity of the late existentialists.

Since the functional value of thinking is in managing 'reality' for the organism (external conditions affecting the organism that are material or other persons who are material in the same way as the organism), then the appropriation of thought as feeling is likely, on the surface, to be a loss of functionality in dealing with some aspects of the world.

Of course, things are not so simple because 'nonsense' (belief systems and ideologies) is functionally useful if certain conditions pertain that require a specific functionality in relation to others rather than in relation to the world as matter in which a simple organism subsists.

In other words, the functional requirements of dealing with the world of matter and the world of other persons who are like oneself (though equally material) encourages different strategies and the importance of the latter in dealing with the former will tend to encourage one strategy over another.

This brings us to the function of willing (which embraces all intention such as choosing, including choosing not to will but accept). A person who accepts a socially constructed God is choosing not to think further but that refusal to make use of the tool of active thinking is a willed choice of sorts.

If feeling is inward-directed to the expression of biologically-based impulses, thinking is outward-directed to our understanding and management of the world. It includes introspection on the nature of our inner world which is made up of feelings as well as introspection on the tools employed so that thinking may be about thinking itself, perception and all other aspects of mind.

The function of intention or willing might well be (accordingly) the process of balancing the organism's instinctual flow of reactions to the world, its 'appetites', to use an older term, with the tool-using aspects of the mind.

Thinking thus becomes directed to ends that accord more or less with the feelings of the organism but in ways where not only formal thinking (analysis and calculation) but informal thinking (experience, habituation within a culture, instinct that is feeling about the world and about other persons) about the world is used to balance the organism with the world so that desires are satisfied sustainably.

This creates paradoxes in the relation of feeling with thinking so that the simple division of responsibility between the two, as 'ur-person' and as tool, becomes blurred with the complexity of actual relations with the world in real time.

Human functionality lies in the choosing or willing function that seeks to effect desires that accord with the nature of an organism constructed not out of itself alone but out of a history (genetics, personal history and culture) in a world which is only comprehensible through the processing of information as thinking.

Thus, thinking as a tool where the desires are balanced inwardly to create a coherent and effective organism (who may not be at all socialised but equally may have 'felt' their way into full acculturation) may be compared with the thinking involved in an organism where thought has been turned in on itself and a radical acculturation has resulted in a willing of the world itself to be felt - to be subjectified.

The world thus shifts from a thing external to the organism to be managed for the sake of the organism itself and only itself to an extension of the organism into the world. We see feeling filled with sentiment, belief and 'ideas', where the tool of thought has become integrated into feeling and objects have become subjectified.

The role of willing is thus transformed from a 'healthy' process of individuation within a world of matter and equal others (in their individuation) to an 'unhealthy' incorporation of the organism into something 'social', that is an extended mind in which the person is no longer individuated (albeit the individuated person continues to share in all cultural forms as tools).

In this latter case, the individual becomes embedded in the social under conditions where thinking has become belief and so a form of feeling-in-thinking. A model of willing as the process of using thinking to make feeling functional is thus transformed into willing as agency for an individually potentially dysfunctional merger of feeling and thinking in order to effect organic immersion in the social.

Strategies that are separate in other species (individuation or pack on the one hand and herd or hive on the other) are all available within the human species and compete across time and space.

It is the conflict between these strategies that overlays other more individual or large-scale social conflicts for resources, status and power since 'machiavellian' individual strategies and 'ideological' or 'spiritual' social strategies both become tools in the struggle for resources as well as for individuation or immersion.

At the most sophisticated level of struggle, 'Machiavellians' become perfectly capable of appropriating belief and ideological strategies for their own purposes (though they soon become trapped into the roles set for them) and 'herdists' can construct ideologies of freedom that cloak their own Borg-like qualities.

Professor Gilbert Ryle and J. O. Urmson discuss philosophy of mind in this episode of Logic Lane (1972) directed by Michael Chanan.  [Inroduction - Part 1/5] Via YouTube

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