More on the folk religion tip: the folk religion in this case being ‘free thinking’.

Years ago when Judith and I started out by giving experiential workshops on transformative learning to the local noetics group, on several occasions during the debrief I entertained inquiries from participants who described themselves as “free thinkers”. I’m thinking of two particular occasions and each was revelatory, at least was so, if you’re an ironist as I am.

In both cases the participant needed help understanding how a procedure oriented around intuition worked. Actually, as it turned out, they needed help understanding how the process could even exist.

Participant: It seems to me what you do is provide learners with lots of data and the learner makes associations and connects associations up with what they think are insights. Right?

Stephen: That’s a good way to describe it.

Participant: Okay, so I don’t understand why this isn’t anything more than something like brainstorming.

Stephen: It’s like that.

Participant: But if you call it transformative and say it is intuitive too, then I don’t understand how it works.

Stephen: But you just described how it works.

Participant: I saw it work but I don’t understand how it works.

Flummoxed was he.

On several occasions our explanation of the procedure struck participants as abstract whereas for them to go through the process made the introductory conceptions concrete. But, for some personality types this very concreteness seemed to them question begging. The main question could be: is there an experience commensurate with the explanation?

As I mentioned before, psychologizing is, for many free thinking types, a very strange mode of explanation. I guess, it’s not ‘propositional’ enough, is not nomothetic. But, oddly, this can introduce a skepticism about the experience itself. I don’t mean here to over-determine the personality types of free thinkers in general.

Well, free thinkers like to argue and, since I know well, for example, the history of the mind/body problem, and, furthermore, know and understand what are the unresolved meta-problems and problems of philosophy, (especially when it is reflexive,) I also know how to probe–for at least the sake of amusement–promoters of the religion of free thinking. After all, since much that is unresolved is, for them, settled, and because reflecting about their own (higher) orders of (personal) heuristics is anxiety provoking, I sustain significant advantages in any argument.

I don’t even have to unholster my post-modernism! My actual sample is fairly small yet I’ve never encountered a free thinker who hadn’t solved the mind/body problem in some way or the other.

On est obligé d’ailleurs de confesser que la Perception et ce qui en dépend, est inexplicable par des raisons mécaniques, c’est-à-dire par les figures et par les mouvements.

It must be confessed that perception and that which depends upon it are inexplicable on mechanical grounds, that is to say, by means of figures and motions.


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