Monday, May 24, 2010

Seeing Double


“Could not the age-old rift between spirit/mind and matter, soul and body, freedom and necessity, etc. be an expression of no more than a basic dualism which seems to be universally present in the structure of human language, i.e. the separation of noun and verb (or subject and predicate) in which the description of a unified natural process or phenomenon entails its verbal division into static and process aspects respectively? The manner in which this descriptive procedure may make us see double as it were, becomes more apparent with sentences such as ‘The wind is blowing’ or ‘The fire is burning,’ where it is easy to see that the blowing is the wind, and that the burning is the fire. Is it not possible that the epiphenomenon of mind may have arisen in a way similar to the ‘wind’ and ‘fire,’ to stand above thoughts, feelings, memories, actions and experiences? If so this linguistic illusion has had the profoundest consequences for [mankind] and for the history of this planet.”

~ Ronald Wong, from a letter to the editor of New Scientist in response to “The Shadow of the Mind,” by John Taylor, September 30, 1971