Saturday, January 29, 2011

2011.01.29 — Paper, Scissors, Rock continues...

P.S.R Begun and continued.

And there definitely is a poetical structure to the prose, and I don't mean just the writing on these two pages, but also in how themes return to the stage, in a pattern of growth, or, more precisely, growth's inevitability to be expressed, or do die. This citation shows Decter's return to the issue of living in a patriarchy.

Ann Decter.
Paper, Scissors, Rock.

Press Gang Publishers, 1992. (Now McGilligan Books.)
ISBN: 0889740402.

I just want
you all
to get along.
Later that day Jane saw Phil back at square one. Intensive care unit.
Arms by his sides, impossibly still. A small hole in his throat, with a tube coming out. Completely so totally motionless.
Still lifedeath.
I just want
Her knees buckled
all of you
going down she grabbed her shins, held onto a crouch
to get
breathed as deep as she could
Falsified air.
In the small waiting room, a social worker came looking for Jane.
"Are you the girl that had trouble in there?"
"You know, seeing someone very ill can be very difficult for some
Jane smiled. Strange apparition, some people.
"I just got a little dizzy."
"Have you been into intensive care before? It can be hard the first time."
Peering into Jane's face. Placed a hand on Jane's knee.
Go away. Jane closed her eyes, raised a hand to her brow.
"Yes, I have. I have been in there before." I've been in here, I've been down the hall, I've been to the intensive care two floors up, I've whiled away hours in the cafeteria, I've held the cloth with the ice cubes, I've mopped his brow, I've arranged his house, I've driven day and night to get here and been dragged directly to this hospital upon arrival by Owen, because someone had to take over worrying, had to be responsible for caring, someone had to slip into the space Sophia escaped. Everything required it. Family. Hospital. Social workers. The whole damn system.
Jane opened her eyes and the woman was gone.

In a strict patriarchy, men maintain power by insisting that women show caring, give comfort, soothe wounds, assuage anger, and then devaluing emotion as weakness.
In a changing society, those drawing strength from new patterns feel the reimposition of the strictest forms as an alienation from themselves.
Slow spiritual death.
In a causal philosophy, the agent must be identified.
A box of chocolates.
In a philosophy of emotions, expectations must be assigned to the person that generated them.
Phil wanted to know his family would be alright.
Owen wanted to know his father would be alright.
Made Jane their agent.
A box of expectations.
Slice your way out.

Jane phoned Shulamit.
"He's back in intensive care."
"What happened?"
"He ate some chocolates and threw up. Something caught in his throat.
They had to do a tracheotomy."
Shulamit waited.
"I let him go. I was holding him, then I thought—what am I doing? This is a hospital, it's full of people who know what to do."
"I guess I should have held him longer."
"So he wouldn't have choked."
"How do you know he wouldn't have choked?"
Jane was silent. "I don't."
"That better?"
"Yep. So how's Toronto?"
"The same. Colder. Crawling with droolers."
"Like what you just did. Dripping all over. Droolers. I went to an opening."
"Boxes. A whole room full of little boxes."
"What do you mean, boxes?"
"I mean boxes boxes. Small wood boxes, maybe eight inches across, painted inside, made into rooms—living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms."
"Drool. Decoration. All they're doing at the art college these days. I mean how interesting is a living room?"
"Well, if you think about it, it could be interesting" (85-7).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2011.01.23 — Language & Responsibility continued

Language & Responsibility, begun 2011.01.06, continues to be excellent. I seem to be stumbling into writers who with great intelligence and perception are clearing identifying empirical failures of the 'soft' sciences — sociology, linguistics, psychology — because of irrational exclusions and limitations to their scope of study. It was funny, even almost fushigi-like, to read Chomsky castigating psychologists and linguists, so soon after having posted Jung's similar lament a few weeks ago about psychologists.

So, from the mid-1970s, here's Chomsky's observation that...
... many psychologists have a curious definition of their discipline. A definition that is destructive, suicidal. A dead end. They want to confine themselves solely to the study of performance—behavior—yet, as I've said, it makes no sense to construct a discipline that studies the manner in which a system is acquired or utilized, but refuses to consider the nature of this system.
Okay, that was just a short clip from the extended text! But interesting. Here's the extended version that includes the above:
Mitsou Ronat: The linguistic model is a model of what is termed competence. You have just mentioned process models or models of performance. This opposition, competence-performance, was first clearly stated around 1964-5. You defined linguistic competence as that knowledge internalized by a speaker of a language, which, once learned and possessed, unconsciously permits him to understand and produce an infinite number of new sentences. Generative grammar is the explicit theory proposed to account for that competence. In performance, other cognitive systems, aside from competence (memory, etc.), intervene.

In Language and Mind you indicate that the other branches of psychology—dealing with vision, memory, and so on—must, in order to become scientific, define an equivalent concept of competence. Now it is evident that most psychologists oppose just that concept.

Noam Chomsy: In my opinion, many psychologists have a curious definition of their discipline. A definition that is destructive, suicidal. A dead end. They want to confine themselves solely to the study of performance—behavior—yet, as I've said, it makes no sense to construct a discipline that studies the manner in which a system is acquired or utilized, but refuses to consider the nature of this system.

In my opinion, in order to do good psychology one must start by identifying a cognitive domain—vision, for example—that is to say, a domain which can be considered as a system, or a mental organ, that is more or less integrated. Once that system is identified, one can try to determine its nature, to investigate theories concerning its structure. To the extent that such a theory can be formulated, it is possible to ask on what basis the system is acquired, what are the analogues in it to universal grammar, its biologically given principles. Similarly, study of performance presupposes an understanding of the nature of the cognitive system that is put to use. Given some level of theoretical understanding of some cognitive system, we may hope to study in a productive way how the cognitive system is used, and how it enters into interaction with other cognitive systems. Something like that should be the paradigm for psychology, I think. Of course, this is an oversimplification. One cannot legislate the "order of discovery." But this paradigm seems to me basically correct.

M.R.: That is the approach which you have followed in linguistics. You have identified the system: the competence—and you have proposed a theory, that of generative grammar. Universal grammar is the set of hypotheses that bear on the acquisition of the system and so on. But such is not the customary path of psychology.

N.C.: No, because until fairly recently psychologists have tried to leap over the initial stages; and going directly to the subsequent stages, they have been unable to accomplish as much as they could. Because you cannot study the acquisition or use of language in an intelligent manner without having some idea about this language which is acquired or utilized. If all you know of language is that it consists of words, or if you have a theory of the Saussurean type that tells you: "Here is a sequence of signs, each having a sound and a meaning," that limits very greatly the type of process model you can investigate. You must work with performance models, which produce word-by-word sequences, with no higher structure. You can only work with acquisition models, which acquire a system of concepts and sounds, and with the relations between these systems. That would be a primitive psychology, limited by the conception of language that was the point of departure. The same holds quite generally.

Psychologists often say that they don't presuppose a model of competence, that is to say, a theory of language. But that is not true; they could not do anything without having a conception of the nature of language. Every psychologist presupposes at least that language is a system of words: that is a model of competence. A very bad model of competence, but a model just the same. If they want to do better psychology, they must choose a better model of competence.

Why are many psychologists reluctant to consider richer and more abstract models of competence? Many linguists too, for the matter. In my opinion, because they are still under the influence of empiricist doctrines that are restricted in principle to quite elementary models of competence. These doctrines maintain that all learning, including language acquisition, proceeds by the accumulation of specific items, by the development of associations, by generalization along certain stimulus dimensions, by abstracting certain properties from a complex of properties. If this is the case, the models of competence are so trivial that it is possible to ignore them.

M.R.: When looked at this way, the Saussurean system of signs, conceived as a store slowly deposited in memory, corresponds very well, in effect, with the trivial empiricist model.

Do you know Gregory's experiments on vision? They prove that vision is produced by an interaction between an innate system and experience.

N.C.: Gregory is one of those who are trying to construct a model of competence for vision. That is interesting work, and it seems a logical way to treat these questions. Apparently, the visual cortex of mammals is predetermined in part, with a certain margin of indeterminacy. There exist, for example, cells of the visual cortex which are designed to perceive lines at a certain angle, and others at another angle; but the development of these receptors, their density, in particular, or their precise orientation within a predetermined range of potential orientation, all this depends on the visual environment, so it appears.

M.R.: Vision is thus a construction, like grammar?

N.C.: It seems that the general structure of the visual system is fixed, but the particular detailed realization remains open. For example, it is supposedly virtually impossible to determine precise binocular coordination genetically. It seems that visual experience is required to solve this engineering problem in a precise way, though binocular vision is genetically determined.

In general, serious psychology will be concerned primarily with domains in which human beings excel, where their capacities are exceptional. Language is one such case. There one is sure to find rich structures to study. In the domain of visual perception, for example, one of the most extraordinary abilities is to identify faces. How can one, after having seen a face from a certain angle, recognize it from another angle? That involves a remarkable geometric transformation. And to distinguish two faces! It would be no small task to design a device to match human performance in these respects.

It is possible that the theory of face perception resembles a generative grammar. Just as in language, if you suppose that there are base structures and transformed structures, then one might imagine a model which would generate the possible human faces, and the transformations which would tell you what each face would look like from all angles. To be sure, the formal theories would be very different from those of language ...

M.R.: ... because we are passing from linear sequence to volume.

N.C.: There has also been very interesting work recently on the perceptual system of infants. During the past few years experimental methods have been devised that permit one to work with very young infants, even just a few days old, or a few weeks, and to determine some aspects of their perceptual systems, which exist, evidently, prior to relevant experience. It has been reported, for example, that infants distinguish the phonetic categories P, T, and K, which acoustically form a continuum: there is no line of demarcation between these categories, and no physical necessity to divide the acoustic continuum just this way. But perceptually they do not form a continuum. Particular stimuli along this dimension will be perceived as P or T or K. It seems that infants already make this categorial distinction, which indicates that it must reflect part of the human perceptual system that is not learned, but is rather an innate capacity, perhaps specifically related to language, though this is debated (48-52).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011.01.16 — 3 Poems from News of the Universe:  Poems of Twofold Consciousness

I have been reading a nice collection of poetry and writing that I find particularly engaging. I may not necessarily like all that I read in the collection, but all the writing has an intensity and honesty that is engaging and challenging and that I feel compelled to wrestle with. See Miss Me at There I have been reading and re-reading the last several days of posts.

I particularly like:
My body

It tries to steal me
Away in the night, further
than I want to go
Filled to my wings

Filled to my wings
    the earthen weight hanging in
my hummingbird core
And My Body, in particular, reminded me of the feel of some of the poems Robert Bly
included in his book News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness. So much so, that I cracked open the book, and was delighted to rediscover and reacquaint myself with some friends I haven't seen in a long while.
So, from News of the Universe, three poems that feel like those of Miss Me's:


Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or the wind sweeps through a tree,
Or a dog howls in a far off farm,
I hold still and listen a long time.

My soul turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers.

My soul turns into a tree,

And an animal, and a cloud bank.

Then changed and odd it comes home

And asks me questions.
       What should I reply (p86)?
Hermann Hesse (translated by Robert Bly)

coughing up blood
before the sun rose.

i spit out the wind
and all turns into
what might be expected
on a rainy day. sleep.

i dreamed of an animal
with its teeth shining
so greatly . . .

and we have heard from
each other once or twice.
we seek to see who is god (p200).
Ray Young Bear

The Great Sea

The great sea

Has sent me adrift,

It moves me as the weed in a great river,

Earth and the great weather move me,

Have carried me away,

And move my inward parts with joy (p257).
Eskimo Shaman Woman quoted by Rasmussen

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011.01.09 — From The Discourses by Epictetus

From my list of over 200 e.mail quips, the random one that popped up today was particularly interesting. Now, objectively I can see that it would likely be uninteresting — or at least I think I can. But for some reason, the manner of its description is so ... I am tempted to write 'charming,' but that's not quite right. Maybe the charm I see in it is because it is so blunt and unusually colourful.

Anyway, some Epictetus for a Sunday afternoon.
…it is a more valuable thing to get a dinner, than not;
and a greater disgrace to be whipt, than not to be whipt; so that, if you measure yourself by these things, go and do your office.

“Ay, but this is not suitable to my character.”

It is you who are to consider that, not I;
for it is you who know yourself, what value you set upon yourself, and at what rate you sell yourself; for different people sell themselves at different prices.
Epictetus Moral Discourses Book I Chapter 2

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2011.01.08 — Language & Responsibility by Chomsky — begun 2011.01.06

I have stumbled into citations from this book occasionally, making my finding a week ago a delight.

Noam Chomsky.
Language and Responsibility: Based on conversations with Mitsou Ronat. (Out of Print, but you might like the book behind this hyperlink.)

New York: Pantheon Books (KnopfDoubleday), 1979.
Translated by John Viertel.


Mitsou Ronat
Language and Responsibility is a delightful book because quick excursions reap huge rewards. The book is conversational Chomsky, without the formality of his lectures, but with chapters more or less exploring a single theme and variations as the intelligence of Chomsky and Ronat meander through the puzzles of language, that humans acquire them with ease, even in 'dire' circumstances, and social issues around ideology, and media distortions of 'the truth'.

What particularly caught my fancy right now is his examination of 'so-called' empiricism. He argues that to an alarming extent today's scholars, in particular in the U.S.A, have forsaken
 'proper' empirical scholarship for the siren's call of a capitalist ideology that has all but eliminated free debate and argument outside of a very narrow range of acceptability.

I find this argument to be an interesting one, in part because there is very little discussion about it in any kind of public way, but mostly because this mirrors my own experience when I returned to university in my thirties. When I attempted, for example, to argue the merits of some economic thinking, I was dismissed without debate or argument. When I took a communications course, I was stunned when the TA told me her academic career had been severely hurt by taking time between undergraduate and graduate school because her having experienced the world was seen as by sponsoring professors as a liability. When I wrote a paper in sociology that questioned the truism about the negative impact modern industrialization has had on the family, my paper was graded poorly despite it being, to quote my professor "Well researched, well written, with an original approach and supportable arguments." And I have examples from Education and and English, too, and from my corporate work.

So, from the chapter 'Empiricism and Rationalism," Chomsky and Ronat's extended discussion on the state of empiricism in the shackled halls of free inquiry:
M.R.: Empiricism (and, in particular, functionalism) has enjoyed an enormous success. In spite of all the demonstrations that have been made of its errors, today it still remains the dominant philosophy. To what do you attribute that success, that power to survive? To a conjunction of ideology and politics?

N.C.: On that point we must be careful, because here we enter into speculation. When certain ideas are dominant, it is very reasonable to ask why. The reason could be that they are plausibly regarded as true, they have been verified, etc. But in the case where they are without empirical foundations, and have little initial plausibility, the question arises more sharply: the answer may actually lie in the domain of ideology. Of course the argument here must be indirect, because we don't have any direct means of determining the ideological basis for the acceptance gained by a certain doctrine.  Perhaps the instrumentalist conception of language is related to the general belief that human action and its creations, along with the intellectual structure of human beings, are designed for the satisfaction of certain physical needs (food, well-being, security, etc.). Why try to reduce intellectual and artistic achievement to elementary needs?

Is the attraction of the several variants of empiricist doctrine based on experimental verification? Hardly. There is no such verification. Does it derive from their explanatory power? No, because they can explain very little. Is it due to some analogy to other systems about which we know more? No. Again, the systems known to biology are totally different. Animal intelligence seems to be quite different. So too the physical structures of the human organism. The rational hypotheses which we can propose to explain the dominance of empiricist doctrines do not apply.

It should be noted that empiricist doctrine has not merely been "accepted" for a long period, it was hardly even questioned, but rather simply assumed, tacitly, as the framework within which thinking and research must proceed.

Perhaps, then, some sociological factor might explain in a natural way why this point of view has been so widely adopted. We can ask ourselves, who accepts and disseminates these doctrines? Essentially, the intelligentsia, including scientists and non-scientists. What is the social role of the intelligentsia? As I have said, it has been quite characteristically manipulation and social control in all its varied forms. For example, in those systems called "socialist," the technical intelligentsia belong to the elite that designs and propagates the ideological system and organizes and controls the society, a fact that has long been noted by the non-Bolshevik left. Walter Kendall, for example, has pointed out that Lenin, in such pamphlets as What is to Be Done?, conceived of the proletariat as a tabula rasa upon which the "radical" intelligentsia must imprint a socialist consciousness. The metaphor is a good one. For the Bolsheviks, the radical intelligentsia must bring a socialist consciousness to the masses from the outside; as Party members, the intelligentsia must organize and control society in order to bring "socialist structures" into existence.

This set of beliefs corresponds very well to the demands of the technocratic intelligentsia: it offers them a very important social role. And in order to justify such practices, it is very useful to believe that human beings are empty organisms, malleable, controllable, easy to govern, and so on, with no essential need to struggle to find their own way and to determine their own fate. For that empiricism is quite suitable. So from this point of view, it is perhaps no surprise that denial of any "essential human nature" has been so prominent in much of left-wing doctrine.

Analogously, the modern intelligentsia in the capitalist societies—that of the United States, for example—have a certain access to prestige and power by serving the state. So, much the same is true for the liberal intelligentsia in the West. Service to the state includes social manipulation, preservation of capitalist ideology and capitalist institutions, within the framework of state capitalism. In this case as well, the concept of an empty organism is useful. It is plausible that statist ideologues and administrators are attracted by this doctrine because it is so convenient for them, in eliminating any moral barrier to manipulation and control.

These remarks apply only for the last century, more or less. Before that the situation is rather different. Without doubt, at an earlier period empiricism was associated with progressive social doctrine, in particular, with classical liberalism; although, as we were discussing, that was not always the case. One may recall the ideas of the young Marx, who was far from empiricist doctrine in spirit. Why this link between progressive social thought and empiricist doctrine? Perhaps because empiricism seemed to have—and in a certain way did have— progressive social implications in contrast to reactionary and determinist doctrines, according to which the existing social structures, slavery, autocracy, the feudal hierarchy, the role of women, were founded on unchanging human nature. Against that doctrine, the idea that human nature is a historical product had a progressive content, as it also did, one might argue, throughout the early period of capitalist industrialization.

The determinist doctrines in question maintained that certain people were born to be slaves, by their very nature. Or consider the oppression of woman, which was also founded on such concepts. Or wage labor: willingness to rent oneself through the market is considered one of the fundamental and immutable human properties, in a version of the "human essence" characteristic of the era of capitalism.

In the face of such doctrines as these, it is natural for advocates of social change to adopt the extreme position that "human nature" is a myth, nothing but a product of history. But that position is incorrect. Human nature exists, immutable except for biological changes in the species.

M.R.: But that is not the same definition of human nature, it is no longer a matter of denning a psychology of individual character.

N.C.: Certainly, we can distinguish between theories that assign a determinate social status to particular individuals or groups by virtue of their alleged intrinsic nature (e.g., some are born to be slaves), and theories that hold that there are certain biological constants characteristic of the species, which may, of course, assume very different forms as the social and material environment varies. There is much to be said about all of these matters. It seems to me that one might suggest, in a very speculative manner, that such factors as the ones I have mentioned entered into the success of empiricism among the intelligentsia. I have discussed this question a bit in Reflections on Language, stressing the crucial and sometimes overlooked point that speculation about these matters of ideology is quite independent of the validity of the specific doctrines in question; it is when doctrines of little merit gain wide and unquestioned credence that such speculations as these become particularly appropriate.

In Reflections, I also mentioned that even at the earliest stages it is not so obvious that empiricism was simply a "progressive" doctrine in terms of its social impact, as is very widely assumed. There has been some interesting work in the past few years, for example, on the philosophical origins of racism, particularly by Harry Bracken, which suggests a much more complex history. It seems that racist doctrine developed in part as a concomitant of the colonial system, for fairly obvious reasons. And it is a fact that some leading empiricist philosophers (Locke, for example) were connected to the colonial system in their professional lives, and that racist attitudes were commonly advanced during this period by major philosophers, among others. It is perhaps not unreasonable to speculate that the success of empiricist beliefs, in some circles at least, might be associated with the fact that they offer a certain possibility for formulating racist doctrine in a way that is difficult to reconcile with traditional dualist concepts concerning "the human essence."

Bracken has suggested, plausibly it seems to me, that racist doctrine raises conceptual difficulties within the framework of dualist beliefs, that is, if they are taken seriously. Cartesian dualism raises what he has called "a modest conceptual barrier" to racist doctrine. The reason for that is simple. Cartesian doctrine characterizes humans as thinking beings: they are metaphysically distinct from non-humans, possessing a thinking substance (res cogitans) which is unitary and invariant—it does not have color, for example. There are no "black minds" or "white minds." You're either a machine, or else you're a human being, just like any other human being in essential constitution. The differences are superficial, insignificant: they have no effect on the invariant human essence.

I think it is not an exaggeration to see in Cartesian doctrine a conceptual barrier—a modest one, as Bracken carefully explains—against racism. On the other hand, the empiricist framework does not offer an analogous characterization of the human essence. A person is a collection of accidental properties, and color is one of them. It is thus somewhat easier to formulate racist beliefs in this framework, although it is not inevitable.

I don't want to exaggerate the importance of these speculations. But it is worth investigating the question whether colonial ideology did in fact exploit the possibilities made available by empiricist doctrine to formulate more easily the kind of racist beliefs that were employed to justify conquest and oppression. It is unfortunate that the carefully qualified speculations that have been proposed for investigation have evoked a rather hysterical response, and some outright falsification, on the part of a number of philosophers—who are, as Bracken has observed, quite willing to consider, and even advance, very explicit proposals concerning a possible relation between rationalism and various oppressive doctrines, racism among them, thus indicating that it is not the nature of the inquiry but rather its object that they consider intolerable.

I must emphasize again that these speculations, or any others concerning the ideological or social factors that contribute to the success of any doctrine, must be recognized for what they are: speculations which are at best suggestive. Again, questions of this kind arise especially when a doctrine enjoys a great deal of attraction and success among the intelligentsia in spite of little factual support or explanatory value. This is the case with empiricism, in my opinion.

M.R.: Empiricism thus finds support both from the right and the left ... That explains why generative grammar is often attacked by the progressive, intelligentsia, precisely because of your reference to the hypothesis of "innate ideas," as it is called, that is, the genetic limitations imposed on language. This hypothesis is accused of idealism.

N.C.: That is true, as you say. But the characterization is quite irrational. A consistent materialist would consider it as self-evident that the mind has very important innate structures, physically realized in some manner. Why should it be otherwise? As I have already mentioned, if we assume that human beings belong to the biological world, then we must expect them to resemble the rest of the biological world. Their physical constitution, their organs, and the principles of maturation are genetically determined. There is no reason for supposing the mental world to be an exception. The hypothesis which naturally comes to mind is that these mental systems, unusual in the biological world because of their extraordinary complexity, exhibit the general characteristics of known biological systems.

I would emphasize once again that even qualitative considerations of the most evident kind suggest this conclusion: it is difficult to see any other explanation for the fact that extremely complicated and intricate structures are acquired, in a like manner among all individuals, on the basis of very limited and often imperfect data (88-94).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011.01.01 — Analytical Psychology Re-Read: Jung on Chinese Science and Philosophy

On December 26th I took myself to my local emergency to have my badly inflamed and extremely painful ears looked at by a doctor.

Because there was a great likelihood I would be waiting for a while, I took with me, after some dithering, Jung's Analytical Psychology: Its Theory and Practice. I think I've read this twice before, so one of my motivations to pick this was to bring something familiar, but my unconscious was connecting it with a correspondence I've been having with a new friend. And it is providing an endless supply of fushigis, which I won't elaborate here. But the latest was quite profound, and so I made the effort to transcribe from the book a substantial amount of text, which I would like to share with the world. (Yes, it is a copyright violation, but in my defense I will say that I am providing an advertisement and, I hope, a spark to the imagination of people new to Jung's thinking.)


C.G. Jung.

Analytical Psychology: Its Theory and Practice. (The Tavistock Lectures.)
New York: Vintage Books, a Division of Random House, 1970.
Foreword by E.A. Bennet. (Out of print as of today's date.)

So, some Jung on the failure of Chinese science to be a 'real' science:
... These things really are obscure. I had to speak in terms of the basic mind, which thinks in archetypal patterns. When I speak of archetypal patterns those who are aware of these things understand, but if you are not aware you think, 'This fellow is absolutely crazy because he talks of mastodons and their difference from snakes and horses'. 1 should have to give you a course of about four semesters about symbology first so that you could appreciate what I said.

That is the great trouble: there is such a gap between what is usually known of these things and what I have worked on all these years. If I were to speak of this even before a medical audience I should have to talk of the peculiarities of the niveau mental, to quote Janet, and I might as well talk Chinese. For instance, I would say that the abaissement du niveau mental sank in a certain case to the level of the manlpura chakra(1), that is to the level of the navel. We Europeans are not the only people on the earth. We are just a peninsula of Asia, and on that continent there are old civilizations where people have trained their minds in introspective psychology for thousands of years, whereas we began with our psychology not even yesterday but only this morning. These people have an insight that is simply fabulous, and I had to study Eastern things to understand certain facts of the unconscious. I had to go back to understand Oriental symbolism. I am about to publish a little book on one symbolic motif only(2) and you will find it hair-raising. I had to study not only Chinese and Hindu but Sanskrit literature and medieval Latin manuscripts which are not even known to specialists, so that one must go to the British Museum to find the references. Only when you possess that apparatus of parallelism can you begin to make diagnoses and say that this dream is organic and that one is not. Until people have acquired that knowledge I am just a sorcerer. They say it is un tour de passe-passe. They said it in the Middle Ages. They said, 'How can you see that Jupiter has satellites?' If you reply that you have a telescope, what is a telescope to a medieval audience?

I do not mean to boast about this. I am always perplexed when my colleagues ask: 'How do you establish such a diagnosis or come to this conclusion?'I reply: 'I will explain if you will allow me to explain what you ought to know to be able to understand it'. I experienced this myself when the famous Einstein was Professor at Zurich. I often saw him, and it was when he was beginning to work on his theory of relativity. He was often in my house, and I pumped him about his relativity theory. I am not gifted in mathematics and you should have seen all the trouble the poor man had to explain relativity to me. He did not know how to do it. I went fourteen feet deep into the floor and felt quite small when I saw how he was troubled. But one day he asked me something about psychology. Then I had my revenge.

Special knowledge is a terrible disadvantage. It leads you in a way too far, so that you cannot explain any more. You must allow me to talk to you about seemingly elementary things, but if you will accept them I think you will understand why I draw such and such conclusions. I am sorry that we do not have more time and that I cannot tell you everything. When I come to dreams I have to give myself away and to risk your thinking me a perfect fool, because I am not able to put before you all the historical evidence which led to my conclusions. I should have to quote bit after bit from Chinese and Hindu literature, medieval texts and all the things which you do not know. How could you? I am working with specialists in other fields of knowledge and they help me. There was my late friend Professor Wilhelm, the sinologist; I worked with him. He had translated a Taoist text, and he asked me to comment on it, which: I did from the psychological side(3), I am a terrible novelty to a sinologist, but what he has to tell us is a novelty to us. The Chinese philosophers were no fools. We think the old people were fools, but they were as intelligent as we are. They were frightfully intelligent people, and psychology can leam no end from old civilizations, particularly from India and China. A former President of the British Anthropological Society asked me: 'Can you understand that such a highly intelligent people as the Chinese have no science?' I replied: "They have a science, but you do not understand it. It is not based on the principle of causality. The principle of causality is not the only principle; it is only relative'

People may say: What a fool to say causality is only relative! But look at modem physics! The East bases its thinking and its evaluation of facts on another principle. We have not even a word for that principle. The East naturally has a word for it, but we do not understand it. The Eastern word is Tao. My friend McDougall(4) has a Chinese student, and he asked him: 'What exactly do you mean by Tao?' Typically Western! The Chinese explained what Tao is and he replied: 'I do not understand yet'. The Chinese went out to the balcony and said: 'What do you see?' I see a street and houses and people walking and tram-cars passing'. 'What more?' There is a hill'. 'What more?' Trees'. 'What more?' The wind is blowing'. The Chinese threw up his arms and said: 'That is Tao'.

There you are. Tao can be anything. I use another word to designate it, but it is poor enough. I call it synchronicity. The Eastern mind, when it looks at an ensemble of facts, accepts that ensemble as it is, but the Western mind divides it into entities, small quantities. You look, for instance, at this present gathering of people, and you say: 'Where do they come from? Why should they come together?' The Eastern mind is not at all interested in that. It says: 'What does it mean that these people are together?' That is not a problem for the Western mind. You are interested in what you come here for and what you are doing here. Not so the Eastern mind; it is interested in being together.

It is like this: you are standing on the sea-shore and the waves wash up an old hat, an old box, a shoe, a dead fish, and there they lie on the shore. You say: 'Chance, nonsense!' The Chinese mind asks: 'What does it mean that these things are together?' The Chinese mind experiments with that being together and coming together at the right momenta and it has an experimental method which is not known in the West, but which plays a large role in the philosophy of the East. It is a method of forecasting possibilities, and it is still used by the Japanese Government about political situations; it was used, for instance, in the Great War. This method was formulated in 1143 B.C.(5) (p74-7).
1 [Cf. supra, p. 10, n. I.]
2 [The mandala motif, in a lecture, *Traumsymbole des Individuarionsprozesses', that Jung delivered a few weeks previously at the Eranos Tagung. It was published the next year in Eranos-Jahrbuck 1935; in translation, as 'Dream Symbols of the Process of Individuation', The Integration of the Personality, 1939; revised as Part II of Psychologie und Alchemie, 1944(=C.W.,vol. 12). See also infra, p. 197.]
 3 The Secret of the Golden Flower. [The Chinese text was translated by Richard Wilhelm. The commentary by Jung is contained in Alchemical Studies, (C.W.,vol.i3).]
4 [William McDougall (1871-1938), American psychiatrist. Cf. Jung's 'On the Psychogenesis of Schizophrenia" (C.W., vol. 3), par. 504, and 'The Therapeutic Value of Abreaction' (C.W., vol. 16), par. 255.]
5 [Cf. The I Ching, or Book of Changes, tr. Wilhelm/Baynes, 3rd edn., introduction, p. liii.] 77.
I think that this is interesting. In particular his reference to the problem of specialization, and the relativity of objectivity.