The IDEA of the Thought-World

- and its practical implications for our

shared political life -


It is the purpose of this Wikipedia-like entry/essay to shed some light on something which we all experience, but for which we often have other names, and of which we frequently believe we know a great deal, although we do not.  We mostly swim in the true nature of thinking like a fish swims in water - mostly unaware of the complexities of our inner environment at all.

I have taken, as general examples, thinking and thoughts that are related to our public life (politics), since everyone seems to share there a common interest.  Different fields could have been used as examples, such as epistemology, but not as many people will have a direct experience of that subject matter as will have had thoughts and points of view about politics.

To make this above discussion more concrete and less abstract: Note that the words/terms/concepts/ideas conservative and liberal are what needs to be called: generalizations.  Such a class of objects (or human beings) that might be included under the terms conservative and liberal, don’t really fit us, as individuals.  Most individuals have a large number of complex beliefs, concepts, points of view, tendencies and so forth, not all of which would fit within such large generalized categories.

They might be “liberal" with the way the view their own and other’s vices, but “conservative" in their ideas of how to raise children.  Many are overly influenced by the ways in which politicians and political consultants define a political liberal or conservative, and as well tend to fit themselves into their own families historical views.  Not being trained or educated in how to think, we are grabbed by clever ads that seek to divide us, rather than serve our need to understand.   The often harsh rhetoric of negative campaigning inflames our emotions, but does not encourage mental clarity or thoughtful reflection.

Concepts, based on such large and inclusive categories that use terms that are highly abstract generalizations, actually don’t have much real-world meaning at all.  Same with such terms as black, white, Latin, female and so forth - they are superficial generalities and when used in speech (or in thinking) they actually stand in the way of true knowledge.  In an unfortunately too real sense, the use of the terms liberal and conservative in modern political speech is often a cover for what has to be understood as a kind of political bigotry.  That conservatives (or liberals) automatically decide to dislike and criticize their imagined opposites is really just a kind of political racism, encouraged by political consultants and their use of divisive simplistic issues such as abortion.

The linguistic scientist George Lakoff views the matter a little bit more accurately, applying  the principles of cognitive science to define conservatives as holding a “strong father model” of government, and liberals as holding to a “nurturant parent model” (, but this still makes the error of believing the general class has any real world meaning, as against the individual thinker and speaker.  Lakoff finds common categories in the uses of language (what he calls “frames”), but fails to properly emphasize that it is the political consultants’ efforts to determine political language itself that fails to provide the “citizen” with an adequate complexity of discourse.  Stuffing people in Lakoff’s Moral Politics categories  also oversimplifies.  As well we need note that a sufficient educational training in Civics has disappeared from our schools - no one really knows anymore how our government is supposed to work at all - even many politicians.  The professionals in politics have no use for an electorate that can’t be manipulated, and have had years to misdirect public thinking and train us to believe their lies.

What is worse, as regards Lakoff, is that he is a member of a scientific community that believes it knows things about the mind/brain relationship that are not true.  For example, I just walked you, as a reader, through a very simple philosophical investigation of the meaning of words, in this case the word class “generalizations”.  Lakoff would have us think that we are beholden to brain structures for how we think, rather than have the capacity to increase our thinking sophistication in many alternative ways, including just being taught the basics of an epistemological way of seeing the world.

Here is Lakoff in a recent article (Alter Net, Dec 3, 2012) about the problems with the terms “fiscal cliff”, trying to explain why people can’t be taught how to think more clearly, and can only think within the limits of our brains:

Because we think with our brains, every thought we have is physical, constituted by neural circuitry. Because about 98 percent of conscious thought has an unconscious neural substrate, we are rarely aware of conceptual metaphors. And because the brain is a physical system governed by conservation of energy, a tightly integrated cascade of neural metaphor circuits is more likely to be learned, remembered, and readily activated.

Let’s take a look at the metaphorical complexity of “fiscal cliff” and how the metaphors that comprise it fit together. The simplest, is the metaphor named MoreIsUp, which is a neural circuit linking two distinct brain regions, one for verticality and one for quantity. It is a high-level general metaphor widespread throughout the world, and occurs in a vast number of sentences like Turn the radio up, the temperature fell, and so on.

This is poppycock masquerading as science.  Don’t think so?  Continue reading.  The problem will turn out to be education - as in knowledge of the real nature of the mind and of thinking, not the brain.  Brain and consciousness scientists can be understood for their errors, because they mistake “discursive thinking”, or inner-wording, as the sole nature of how we think.  For this reason, like Lakoff, they pursue studies of language, believing that the dissection of language rules unveils the nature of thinking.  We actually, if thinking is studied itself introspectively, do not actually think merely in words.

It is possible for academics to over-think somethings, often being more in love with their own specialty rather than in the phenomena itself.  Their assumptions guide them.  A real history of the last 100 years in politics might help, for example, Uncommon Sense: the Degeneration, and the Redemption, of Political Life in America  Such a history would show that there is a great deal more appearing in the phenomena of our political life than confused metaphors and cascading brain structures.

Those who let themselves think such thoughts (such as that there is a reality of “conservatives” and “liberals") are being very foolish, regardless of how clever they frame their bigotry (see the written works of the “conservative" Ann Coulter, or the comedy of the “liberal" Bill Maher).  Why are they foolish?  Because they pretend to knowledge and kinds of reason that they not only do not possess, but avoid confronting in all cases.  Where someone reaches toward their errant and foolish thinking with logical questions, these two retreat into deflections and other means (such as jokes) of avoiding following out their own assumptions to their natural and logical conclusions - which “conclusions” would be so ridiculous as to prove beyond any doubt that their thinking was off-course right from the beginning.

The root of this actually exists in our systems of education.  We mostly don’t train people in the how of thinking very well at all.  We can teach them what to think (as in a point of view, such as evolutionary theory), but very often not how to think critically and logically (for a good example of such critical and logical thinking concerning the theory of evolution, read Ron Brady’s Dogma and Doubt:  Most political speech suffers from the assumption of the speaker or writer that all is opinion, and facts and logical thought do not matter.  It is my opinion (belief), and I have a right to it, we frequently assert.

There is not a lot of truth in political speech, in large part because people work from an ideological point of view (, and are not really interested in how the social-political world actually works.  When an ideology is imposed, such as in politics, it frequently fails precisely because the ideology never asks how the real world works, it only asks: how can I make (as in force) the world to work the way I want it to.  Sort of as if physicists were trying to get into space by demanding the laws of gravity have to change and then obey their fantasies, not the real laws of material existence.

Examples of failed political ideological points of view abound and here are a few of the the most obvious: the War on Poverty; the War on Drugs; and the War on Terror.  The social-political world has a lot of momentum and inertia, and if we try to change it into something it really can’t change into, we cause a lot of harm.  The ideological view may be wonderful in its fantasy of in what way the world could be nicer, but as everyone in the recovery movement knows, you can’t fix an addict - only they can fix themselves.   The deep nature of our social life is rooted in human psychology, and while it is possible to manipulate that on occasion, grand changes only come infrequently, as was noticed in the Declaration of Independence: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience has shown, that human beings are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

We could say, with some confidence, that most of us are addicted to our favorite political ideology, and resist changing that point of view at all, because it is a kind of belief system.  The seeming conflict between modern science and religion bears the stamp of that identical very human problem; with one of main difficulties being that many believers in science refuse to recognize it too is a belief system.  See the discussion of the ideology or philosophy of “scientism”, at:


Understanding the Thought-World may help some overcome these deficits in their own thinking, and as well understand what goes on in the real social-political world as a consequence of the rules of this Thought-World, and our relationship as human beings toward our own thoughts and thinking.  In a way, if we change how we educate, we change how people think, and as people think more consciously they will themselves change our social-political life.  It is, as Saul Bellow points out below, as regards the writings of Owen Barfield: a question of inner freedom.

For example, we have in English these three terms: beliefs, understandings and knowledge.  An empirical approach to thinking (see below for details) reveals that each individual swims in a sea of self-generated vain beliefs, genuine ways of understanding reality, and actual knowledge of the world.  Everyone. 

Beliefs are vain because we hold to them in-spite of all evidence to the contrary - the folk wisdom being: don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is already made up.  Most of us can’t do a job, or even a simple task, without understandings - ways of appreciating that often are learned the hard way, such as what happens when a child touches something hot.  Postmen understand why dogs are chained up.  If I am really good at something, what we try to describe with the word expertise, it is because I not only understand why the car engine sounds funny, I also  know how to fix it.

In modern political discourse, few politicians or pundits or talking heads on TV actually know the basics, for example, of the science of economics.  There are a lot of pronouncements rooted in ideological beliefs, such as that decreasing the taxes on the most wealthy will benefit the whole economy, but when empirical evidence is offered that shows this belief to be false, that evidence is buried, but everyone is so busy believing they too can be an economic expert the airwaves are polluted with dialog that is essentially meaningless. 

Since the crisis in world finance, that began in 2008 to continue the example, all kinds of austerity measures are being advocated, when the economic historical evidence is to the contrary - austerity only  compounds economic weaknesses.  See the writings of the Paul Krugman, a Noble prize winner (expert) in economics  In a similar ideological vein, during the recent Presidential Election in America (2012), Republicans favored certain kinds of Polls, but hated the work of Nate Silver, who predicted correctly the 2008 election and the election of 2012  It is possible to be smart about political questions, and not just a religious-like believer in an ideology.

Why is the “truth” so troublesome to so many?  When we better understand the Thought-World and its operational rules, that will become more clear.

Everyone knows they have thoughts.  As modern individuals, in the Age of Science, we are encouraged to believe, superficially, that our thoughts come from the activity of our brains.  If I was to suggest that good dancers of a certain sort think with their feet (“Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!” ~ Constanze), this might raise some questions about subjectivity, or about the spurious meaning of words, or that to have such an experience would be an illusion created by the brain.


The general modern tendency in Science is to believe that all mental phenomena are products of the neurological structures in that physical organ we call the brain (  For some, this causal assumption goes so far as to hold that even the idea that we have of a "self" is manufactured by the physical processes in the brain.  A corollary of this general tendency in modern thought is that all perception, such as for example what we believe we see when we believe we "see" a tree, is manufactured by the brain.  The actual physical world - in its true nature - is not seen, according to this view.


This often raises a very peculiar question regarding what is "real".   For example, why does the collection of molecules and atoms that supposedly make up the “tree” look to our consciousness or brains like a “tree”.  These are not simple questions, see: The Idea of Mind: a Christian meditator considers the problem of consciousness (  The English writer Owen Barfield wrote extensively on consciousness, perception and thinking, as well as the limits of modern science to appreciate the relevant nuances.

Saul Bellow, the Nobel-Prize winning novelist, wrote: “We are well supplied with interesting writers, but Owen Barfield is not content to be merely interesting. His ambition is to set us free. Free from what? From the prison we have made for ourselves by our ways of knowing, our limited and false habits of thought, our ‘common sense’”.


Parts of this complicated "riddle" of existence is discussed in many fields and in many different ways (c.f. ).  Simply to provide fully adequate footnotes for the above commentary could take up dozens of pages.  In order to avoid getting lost in that vast jungle of words, sentences, meanings, fields of knowledge and so forth, let me just guide the reader's thinking-attention to what exists right in front of them.


I have written some words on a page, and the reader is reading them.  The words on the page, given our general assumptions, would not exist if someone didn't write them - so we have the terms: the "author" and the "reader".  Or, perhaps, one brain doing something involving the modern tool of a laptop computer and another brain doing something with a similar device.


The writing consists of "signs" - letters.  These are essentially "code".  These marks on a page have no meaning in themselves.  One could take this page, and using a translation program get these letters changed into Chinese ideograms.  The signs can be changed, and the question does exist that if we did that, would the meaning of the signs also be changed?


Of course,  certain trends  in philosophy in the 20th Century suggested there might not exist any meaning that could be transferred from an author to a reader - the "subjective" aspects being too insurmountable (  In spite of that school of thought - mostly only of interest in certain circles of academia, people still read and write and we still teach our children to read and  write.  And, you dear reader are in fact reading this, so at the least your brain is doing something that might well not be a complete waste of time, - maybe.


In order to write, and read, as all of us subjective brains can at least fantasize, requires the existence of a language - in this case: English.  Convention gives us dictionaries, and  many thousands of books and schools of thought* on writing and grammar and logic and so forth.  What the existence of these books might suggest is that there is perhaps a reality to language, otherwise why bother.

*[a small technical aside, regarding the “geography” of the Thought-World, we might note that various complex features of this “world” could be called “schools of thought”, or systems of belief, or ideological points of view.]


Since we (you and I) - two brains (?) - are collectively  bothering, is there anything else we can notice.


Well, - we could turn away from the page for a moment and reflect - observe inwardly - that our selves, or our brains - (at this point take your pick), are engaged in some kind of inner activity, which someone watching us can not see.  These  watchers might see me typing and they might see you looking at a page and on occasion scrolling down, perhaps sipping some coffee and cleaning your glasses - perhaps even breathing, sniffing or coughing.  What these observers will not see is either of us "thinking".


If we were to self-observe what the observers cannot see, we might notice that during this "thinking" there is something we could call: "sub-vocalizing".  Another way to put words to this is: "discursive thinking."  Even when you are not reading, you sometimes think, perhaps having a moment of reverie where you imagine being on a date and engaging in a conversation that successfully leads to sex.


During the course of a day we do a lot of  this "discursive thinking" - this inner dialog, which when we engage in the act of reading also can appear with the phenomena we called above: "sub-vocalizing".  Our brain, given modern views of the mind, seems to be talking to itself in order to “think”.


One part of whatever we are "speaks" and another part "hears".  Who or what speaks and who or what  hears?


If we were asked to answer that question, most of us would say "I" speak and "I" hear.  Now, given the idea of some that there is no self, my question is: If the brain is capable of creating language, music, poetry, science and all the glories of human cultures, how  is it that this same "brain", while so obviously and wondrously clever,  is also so stupid as to create a false belief in an imaginary self?  Does it really make any sense at all to hold that a physical instrument so otherwise assumed capable of maybe leading us to the "singularity" ( ), can at the same time be so dense?  What in the “brain” makes us stupid in some cases and smart in another ?


While you'll have to decide that for your "self", let us note in passing the mode of thought just applied, which can be called: comparative thinking.   The category/word stupid also implies its opposite - smart.  Liberal is often used as the opposite of conservative.  Most parts of grammar called prepositions include their opposite in their natural meaning: in/out; up/down; although grammarians can make this overly complicated. (

The mode of thinking being labeled here as “comparative” is basically where we form an idea* that involves comparing or valuing one object of thought in relationship to another object of thought.  This woman is more beautiful than that woman.  This politician is less honest than that politician.  This profound mode of comparative thinking has deep and rich meaning when applied in some “spiritual” disciplines.  See this and that, an article of the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha.


*[another, a bit more complicated, technical aside: We can get confused if we mix up such terms and words as: terms, words, concepts and ideas.  On the page is the term or word.  In discursive thinking (where we “speak” to ourselves, we still have the word, just “sub-vocalized”.  One is visible (on the page) the other is not visible to others, although clearly “there” to our own experience, since we put it there.

Each term or word can have, inwardly, a corresponding mental picture, generalized concept, pure concept or idea.  For purposes of clarity: we can have a mental picture of a specific book; we can have a generalized concept of a class of objects of thought, which we call books; we can have a pure concept, such as bookness, which allows for a metaphorical or figurative (higher) use, such as Goethe’s “reading the Book of Nature”) and even higher than that, the Idea, which is consistent with Plato’s world of forms (an earlier version of what we are studying here: the Thought-World), which Idea refers to a general class of  spiritual Beings - see below.

All these: mental picture, generalized concept, pure concept, and Idea can be observed in our minds when we practice a scientific and empirical introspective study of thinking and thought.

So, for example, the reader in reading this sentence and in forming inwardly the idea of this sentence - “This woman is more beautiful than that woman” - has united in the reading/thinking process: words or terms; concepts and ideas.   The idea is the “meaning” of the whole sentence.  Each word or term has either a related mental picture (e.g. the particular women being compared); the generalized concept (woman); and the pure concept (more beautiful).  That we are not taught about this way of viewing reading and writing is a cultural artifact of the Age in which we live, with all its limitations and confusion natural to any particular Age through which humanity necessarily evolves.

Why we make such judgments is another question.  That we do is obvious - we do comparative thinking all the time.]

Whatever else we can think/believe about these riddles, one fact can't be denied.  Something happens of which we are aware (thinking)  and others around us are not (unless we blurt out into speech, our intimate thoughts usually for emotional reasons).  A lot of human discourse, for example when someone tries to manipulate another person, is calculated - that is we first think about how we want to get another person to do something, and then we speak in such a way as to accomplish that goal.  There is to the human being (brain?) an interior quality, that is, as America's Founders might have said: "self-evident".  And, one of the clearest manifestations of this phenomena is reading and writing.  From out of my personal invisible nature comes what ends up as code on this page, and subsequently then within your personal invisible nature there is constructed what you think (as in “believe”) that code means.


If we didn't find, as an experience - and collectively as human beings - that speech and  writing were important and valuable, we'd simply stop doing them -wouldn’t we?.


Where are we when we do this "thinking" thing, that manifests everyday in reading and writing?


When we are in the visible world that appears to our senses, such as well - walking in the woods, or riding in a bus, that fact is fairly obvious.  When we are in this "brain" thing, but not attending to the physical world - that is only "thinking" or reflecting, or analyzing or whatever - we are in a place where our language conventions (from centuries of "self"-knowledge) create such terms as "INsight", "INspiration", "INtelligence" and so forth.


Now this INterior world is vast and complicated.  There are large disciplines that have sought to penetrate its secrets, most recently (beginning in the 19th Century) such as psychiatry and psychology, although these faded away in the late 20th Century into such as cognitive science, neuroscience, and their relatives.   Each of those somewhat older (19th Century) disciplines began with the root-term "psyche", which was generally meant to refer to the "soul".  Keep in mind that "soul" usually is taken to mean something so immaterial that religions believed it would survive the death of the physical body. 


There is a story that when Freud's works were translated into English, the German words "seele" for soul, and "geistes" for spirit - which he used when he "wrote" down his thoughts, were simply translated as "mind".  Subsequently, as this "mind" thingy became more an object of scientific study during the 20th Century  (especially among the English logical positivists, the concept/term mind was eventually replaced with the concept/term "brain".  Mind, as something originally “thought of” as being ephemeral (psyche or soul and spirit), becomes, over the last 100 years, a physical object  - the wet-ware organ the “brain”. has long been recognized that mind does not exist somehow apart from brain...” (The Mind, Richard M. Restak M.D. pp ll, Bantam Books, 1988);

My fundamental premise about the brain is that its workings - what we sometimes call mind - are a consequence of it anatomy and physiology and nothing more.” (The Dragons of Eden, Speculations of the Evolution of Human Intelligence, Carl Sagan, pp.7, Ballantine Books, 1977).

This bears repeating: That interior world that for centuries was thought of as a realm of soul and spirit, became over time merely mind, and then ultimately merely a physical organ: the brain.


The chief problem is that this view is not how we actually experience our interior lives  and our "selves".  What many modern brain scientist wants us to believe is that this interior world is not what it seems to us - not what it seems to our experience as a “world” rich with dreams, and ideas and feelings and thoughts and imaginations, but rather we ought to view it as something quite physical and often the producer of an illusory mental world.  This change followed in parallel a more general change, riding on the tails of natural philosophy (science in its infancy), that eventually abandoned any religious interpretation of causal reality in favor of a completely materialistic interpretation (all is matter, there is no spirit - see The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything, for a detailed discussion of the philosophy of science implications).


Please now return to your own observations of this interior world, which factually is invisible to even the brain scientist.  While he can observe his own interior life (but basically does not bother to do), he can’t really see ours.  He only sees then what certain instruments reveal and as well his own theories of what it  all  means - using his own “discursive thinking”.  The social reality is that what his scientific community "thinks" (as in believes) is by them being proclaimed to be superior to what we ourselves think (again, as in “believe”) about our own experience of our interior lives.

We have direct experience/knowledge which we should (according to their view) ignore, and instead we should conform our thinking to theirs, which is completely based on indirect (secondary) experience coupled with their theories.  They put a machine to watch our brains, and then they watch the machine.  The machine never ever sees what we see when we think.

For a good discussion of the real world consequences of this incursion into real life of brain/consciousness  scientism, see the article Do Addicts have Free Will:

Natural philosophy began by making us doubt our senses, because the microscope and the telescope (instruments) revealed a world the eye does not see.  Modern consciousness (brain) studies do the same thing - our own experience is to be doubted and the only valid approach is through the instruments and processes by which the consciousness scientist studies others.  Our naive realism is to be replaced with his imagined empirical scientism.


Now what this all means, in a way, is that one community of thinkers intends to tell the rest of us what to think.  And, not only that, but they mean to tell us what to think about that aspect of our existence which is most precious to us - our self-understood interior reality.  In the physical world, where a social-political determinism might concern our freedom or autonomy to move our bodies about as we wish, or to limit by laws what we want say - such actions by others to control us would be viewed as totalitarian.


Our freedom to think for ourselves about our own meaning is now being assaulted by a mode of thoughts and thinking that ultimately (as a natural logical conclusion) seeks to define us as not spiritual, not free, and otherwise completely determined by physical processes over which we (this “illusion" in the brain) have no control whatsoever (c.f.


In such a world personal responsibility and morality disappear, to be replaced by the theories of the agents of a claimed superior knowledge of the working of the brain and its processes.  Once a joke on television:  "the devil made me do it", is now being replaced with: "the brain made him do it."  This trend in natural science toward a fully physical determinism now replaces a previous "God runs everything" non-physical religious determinism, once upon a time the sole possession of religions.


Sam Harris ( and his new atheist friends, for example, while hating religion, want to be the scientific popes of their own  new religion.  They are just changing what we are to worship, and who are to be the new priests.  Their God is faceless random Chance, and we - human beings - are a weird accident that amidst most biological life on the planet Earth is like an out of control deadly virus given the effects of our civilization on the rest of the living world (


Now before the reader of this gets too disquiet, and wanting all kinds of quotes for these views expressed above, these views were not really the main point.  What I  have been doing here is demonstrating to  the  reader certain observable aspects of the Thought-World.  I wrote, you read, and together we went some "place" in this Thought-World which is not visible to the physical eye, but only to the mind's eye, or better yet: thinking’s spiritual eye.


The conceptual world we traveled together is seemingly existentially the same "place" as is the conceptual  world of the brain scientists, such as Sam Harris.  In each particular individual instance the landscape is assumed to be different - that is the conceptual content of all our minds is believed to be different, but any thinker can think these thoughts - that is go to that region in the Thought-World  where meaning exists.  How do we do that?  By reading what is written by others.

Let us repeat this for it is such a common experience that we hardly give it the import it deserves.  You read several paragraphs that I wrote.  During this reading, sentence by sentence, you constructed in your own mind what you think I meant.  In in very real sense, the mind creates meaning from the code on a page at near the speed of light.  At this point in our discussions it makes no different whether you actually got what I meant, for I am pointing not to that, but rather to your direct (but mostly sub-conscious) experience as a reader.  You can’t make meaning (find/create the Idea connected to what I wrote), while reading, without taking the coded words and terms on the page, join them to mental pictures, generalized concepts and pure concepts via your skills as a thinker/reader. 

If you found yourself arguing with what I wrote, you were at the same time engaged in light-speed comparative thinking, whereby you made near instant judgments comparing what I was suggesting as an over all Idea to those Ideas of which you yourself have experience (and/or believe, understand or know).  In every act of reading and writing a spiritual miracle appears directly to our own conscious perception in thinking.


None of this is really new, in a way, as it goes on all the time.  For example, in politics we have different ideologies, in religion different systems of belief, in science different paradigms (, see also Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) and so forth.  The point is to draw attention to the huge array of systems of thought in the Thought-World.  Vast regions of the Internet house huge recorded aspects of the great corpus of centuries of human thought, none of which apparently is visible as Thought itself - that is we record the Thought in code (written language), but that record does not reproduce the Thought as it originally came to be in the mind of the primary thinker.  All of which Thought was created by human thinking, and which we for the most part believe exists in a world private to each of us - i.e. not interrelated at all, except via social processes.

At the same time, we not only believe we reproduce that Thought when we read, but social existence would not be possible if the exact same thing did not happen in speaking and hearing. Again, via code - language - meaning is carried from one person to another in a fashion we rely upon entirely, at the center of which is the act of thinking.  Please pass the salt.  Shut the fuck up!  I love you.  Vote for me for President, and I will remake the world into a place of glory and plenty free of all the assholes we both don’t like.

This main assumption that accompanies this kind of thinking - that each brain is isolated from each other brain - should itself be questioned.  How can there be a “Thought-World” if each collection of thoughts, mental pictures, concepts and ideas is isolated in each individual brain?  Or, how can there not be such a World?  If we are to doubt, in order to be scientific, then all assumptions should be doubted, including our supposed mental isolation.  If the brain scientist wants to doubt the existence of an “I” - a self, why then should we also not doubt  our apparent isolation?  If one thing can be doubted, it all can be doubted.  Who the fuck gives the brain scientist the right to tell us what to do and/or think?

Let us return our thinking-attention to our own inwardness, for a moment, and work with the possibility that this seemingly dark territory is actually a doorway.  Can we go through that doorway to some-"place” else?  Can we find within us something that is of the invisible and is like in kind to the other-invisible?  We experience this doorway as isolation because that is the character of this Age.  Prior Ages did not have this experience, witness their deep religious views.

For example Platonism - through the experiences of Plato - was taught as thinking that the source of thought was otherwise - holding there was a world of invisible pure forms, of which our visible forms are a poor copy (   Modern thinkers such as Einstein, Godel and Roger Penrose are seen by some as neo-platonists (see Rebecca Goldstein’s:  Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel.   Penrose  ( wrote in his The Emperor’s New Mind how as a mathematician  he is beginning to think mathematical truths have their own independent existence. “...I cannot help feeling that, with mathematics the case for believing in some kind of ethereal, eternal existence, at least for the more profound mathematical concepts, is a good deal stronger...” (pp. 97).


The development of natural science is filled with what appear to be instances of the same idea appearing to several human beings around the same time (a most famous instance, involving August Kekule’s somnolent vision of a snake biting its tail, has been supposedly debunked - see:  Right now the main thing that happens is disputes over who can patent such “common” thoughts.  Microsoft had a famous dispute with Apple over the nature of the “look and feel” of the desktop environment, and who “owned” this complicated and remarkable Idea. Apple_Computer,_Inc._v._Microsoft_Corporation”.  A few centuries earlier Newton and Leibniz (and their supporters) argued over who had “invented” the calculus (

How could it happen that we experience the same, or each other’s, thoughts?  In the animal kingdom we have the so-called hundredth monkey phenomena ( - once a hundred monkeys on an island gain a new skill, then all of them begin to display that skill.  Then, of course, there are all the reported instances of telepathy and related psychic experiences.  People emotionally close to each other often seem to have the same thought at the same time.  While this is anecdotal, it doesn’t mean it is not true, and rushing to judgment in these instances mostly is done in order to save the all is matter, there is no spirit assumption common today to natural science.

Could we then all have the ability to drawn down - download - ideas from this possibly shared world of pure conceptions?  If that is the case, from what source are these ideas uploaded into the Thought-World in the first place?

It appears that only small portions of the totality of concepts are distributed among individual biological based memories (no one knows everything), and physically large arrays are needed for the storage of this totality, which require immense material libraries and many terabytes of hard drive space to hold.   Again, not one of us knows everything, most of us know only a relative little as compared to that totality, and much of that tends to be very personal.


Yet, we know this huge content is there, but where did this content originally come from?  By this I mean to focus now mostly on the problem of creativity.  From what do concepts  originate?


If our explanation is a physical brain, then at the least we have to explain how they got "there". Now some would say they come into our own consciousness and memories from processes ( of reading and study - that is we share them somehow, one to the other, c.f. the theory of memes .  That's fine, until we get to what has to be called a "new" idea - an "idea" or "concept" never before thought.  Where did that come from?


If the "brain" is completely a physical organ, it seems unlikely that it can create something new.   Think this through thoroughly.  We can agree the brain is complex.  But still, how does something new and original arise from what we conceive of as an essentially closed system.  A closed system ought only be able to repeat what is already there.  The same question exists in evolutionary biology - how does something essentially fixed produce something new.  The “theoretical” answer is “by accident”, which is a very curious formulation.

If we put random numbers or operations in mathematical proofs, would that “accident” not do anything more than foul the works?

Let us for the moment give credence to random chance?  Perhaps, but then you have to explain as random chance the whole history of natural science, the industrial revolution and then the computer revolution, which are so  full of new ideas that some kind of accidental random process seems to hardly have had enough time.


People have argued that the idea of physical  evolution requires the magic of a tornado going through a junkyard and creating a 747.   The counter to that is the argument suggesting that evolution has had billions of years to produce by chance all the needed biological variations.  Okay, ... but the Age of Science, in terms of producing new concepts, clearly didn't have that amount of time.  Too much organized change happening too rapidly.  To base it on random chance is to make a very silly and completely disingenuous bad joke.

There is a field which posits what are called: Laws of Thought (  We have the terms logic and reason, and develop all kinds of systems of thought around these processes, but did not factually find these processes in nature.  We only found them in our own minds.  It is we who reason.  The “Idea” of random chance is that it can organize itself - for there is no operator that can do the organizing.  In fact, if Nature cannot reason or be logical, having no consciousness or capacity for intention and purpose, where do we get such capacities that are so very obviously there.  How does random nature, which cannot reason or show purpose, produce an organism that does reason and show purpose?

We also make assumptions, believing we have arrived at knowledge.  Yet, the fact is that in the practice of science difficult assumptions are often created, ignored and then converted into beliefs.  See again Ron Brady’s Dogma and Doubt ( for a description of the confusion caused in biology by this unconscious, mostly ignored and very human, mental process (converting assumptions into beliefs).

Some might offer that the computer itself reveals the needed analogous process to explain how creativity arises in the brain (sort of a combined up by your bootstraps and cart before the horse argument).  That might be theoretically okay, except for the law of  GIGO - garbage in, garbage out.  Physical computers don't create, and don't think.  The writers of "software" think and create - all the computer does is calculate very very very fast, and get smaller and smaller and smaller.

The computer doesn't even use "concepts".  It can't dream, or fall in love or experience reverie.  It can't pray or meditate.  While software writers might create in the computer program a capacity to successfully simulate the human being (the so-called Turing Test, that doesn’t (and can’t) ever mean the computer does what we experience when we daydream.  In fact, the best evidence for the spiritual nature of the human being is the computer, which shows clearly  the limits of a sense-visible physical system to do an invisible non-physical action, such as thinking.  The brain may be like a biological computer, to a degree - but the more true that is, the less likely it is the brain can create new ideas.


How do we know this?

Let us consider for a moment what the brain scientist actually does.


All of us do this.  We all use this tool - the computer, but it only does what we with our thinking inwardness tell it to do.  If we want something to receive some instructions and carry out a complex task requiring thinking and experience, we ask another human being to do it, not a computer.  A computer can do repetitive tasks fast and accurately, but complicated tasks, such as just recognizing a face, are nearly impossible - unless there is human created software in place.  Is there god-created software in the brain?  Or is it just chance created software in our wetware?

Does the brain have an “operating system”?  It can seem to if we follow some of the thinking in consciousness studies.  But what about from the point of view of that imaginary “I” thingy?  My computer has an “operator” - it doesn’t direct itself, although it does a lot of work itself.  But the computer isn’t self-aware - it isnt’ aware that what it is doing is work - it doesn’t know some hacker has sent it out to steal wealth from others.  Unlike most of us, it can’t be troubled by what we call a guilty conscience.

This particular argument is made all the more crucial when we reflect that all over the world exists disciplines that are analogous to operating systems for the mind (not the brain, the mind).  Zen and Tibetan Buddhism.  Various kinds of Yoga.  Sufism.  Anthroposophy and Christian Hermeticism.  Tarot and Alchemy.  Kabbalah.   Most are ancient, a few are new.

All of these operating systems of the mind have points of view about what it means to have ideas, or not. What the “I” is, or is not.  What separates them from modern brain/consciousness studies is that the practitioner of these skills, crafts and arts, goes inward, not outward.  The modern scientist looks outward - at others with instruments.  The spiritual seeker looks at his own consciousness directly, as it appears to him.  Rudolf Steiner, who taught Anthroposophy, and called himself a “spiritual scientist” had this to say about a Thought-World:

The path that leads to sense-free thinking by way of the communications of spiritual science is thoroughly reliable and sure.  There is however another that is even more sure, and above all more exact [emphasis added, ed.]; at the same time, it is for many people more difficult.  The path in question is set forth in my books The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World-Conception and The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.  These books tell what man’s thinking can achieve when directed not to impressions that come from the outer world of the physical sense but solely upon itself.  When this is so, we have within us no longer the kind of thinking that concerns itself merely with memories of the things of the sense; we have instead pure thinking which is like a being that has life within itself.  In the above mentioned books you will find nothing at all that is derived from the communications of spiritual  science.  They testify to the fact that pure thinking, working within itself alone, can throw light on the great questions of life - questions concerning the universe and man. The books thus occupy a significant intermediate position between knowledge of the sense-world and knowledge of the spiritual world.  What they offer is what thinking can attain when it rises above sense-observation, yet still holds back from entering upon the spiritual, supersensible research.  One who wholeheartedly pursues the train of thought indicated in these books is already in the spiritual world; only it makes itself known to him as a thought-world [emphasis added, ed.].  Whoever feels ready to enter upon this intermediate path of development will be taking a safe and sure road, and it will leave with him a feeling in regard to the higher world that will bear rich fruit in all time to come.”


Every human being, unless prevented by some physical  defect, has access to the Thought-World.  No machine can do that, because only the human being has a spiritual invisible aspect  that is able to enter into a non-physical world.  This spiritual invisible aspect we call the: "I".


The brain is not the "I".  The brain is a physical  interface which enables the non-physical spirit - the "I"  - to interact within the physical world, which actually makes it even more of a remarkable organ then currently believed even by brain scientists.  Let me repeat  that.  The brain is physical/material organ, so rich in its complexity, that it enables a non-physical invisible spirit (the “I”) to interact in the physical world - for spirit to interact with matter.  Now that is amazing!

Personal investigation, made by more than a few, reveals that this
thought-world is an invisible place, which can also be called: the spiritual world.   While modern convention tries to teach that there is only matter, and never spirit, we cannot think a thought without being a spirit among spirits.  To think in a fully awake fashion is to be in the thought-world


What I just wrote is - to the reader - a concept or an idea, possibly unfamiliar and something I do not expect the reader to believe.  Although, the reader could seek to know these matters directly through their own scientific and empirical investigations of their own minds.  Let me finish out this seemingly "theoretical" idea, by borrowing from a recent film: Avatar.


In that movie, the "I" consciousness of a human being is transferred into a biological organism of an alien nature.  All the means for doing this is imagined first in the minds of the creators of this movie -  that is the whole conceptual structure is created by the "I"s of those who made this movie.  How the characters in the movie even built or replicated a copy of the alien organism is assumed possible in the movie, but not explained.  It is imagined artistically by the movie's creators.

We human beings leave our  bodies at night when we sleep, and during sleep we wake up in the world of spirit.  When we re-enter our bodies on awakening, we forget our night-work, but are - like the characters in Avatar - having a physical world experience because our “spirit” is integrated with a physical body, via the nervous system - most especially the brain.  For our spirits, our physical bodies are our “avatars”, just like the creators of imaginative fiction and computer virtual worlds have thought possible.  Physical evolution provides the bodies, but a corresponding spiritual evolution provides the self-conscious “I”.  We just live in an Age where the main unproven assumption is that: all is matter, there is no spirit.


Art, something a computer will never do, is able to go places science, too tightly today bound up with reason, cannot go.  A computer cannot imagine.


Yet, if we read the INtrospective ruminations of scientists, such as Einstein, we are made aware of how much creativity arises precisely in the imagination.  From this non-physical picture-thinking has come all that science has produced that is original.  The transistor revolution that created Silicon Valley came from the imagination of human beings.  It was first thought into existence by a few minds (spirits) that did not limit themselves in what they were willing to conceive.  No physical organ, such as a "brain", can do this - make something out of what is otherwise a fixed thing - the material brain.

Once more, Rudolf Steiner: from the Preface to his doctoral dissertation: Truth and Knowledge [published in 1892]: “The object of knowledge is not to repeat in conceptual form something which already exists, but rather to create a completely new sphere, which when combined with the world given to our senses constitutes complete reality. Thus man’s highest activity, his spiritual creativeness, is an organic part of the universal world-process. The world-process should not be considered a complete, enclosed totality without this activity. Man is not a passive onlooker in relation to evolution, merely repeating in mental pictures cosmic events taking place without his participation; he is the active co-creator of the world-process, and cognition is the most perfect link in the organism of the universe.

Whatever else we believe, it is clear that the “picture” the brain scientist has of this completely material organ is that it is a mechanism, however complicated and biological.  It is a really silly self-satisfied fantasy, on the part of the brain scientist, to hold to the view that the completely non-material imaginative inner life of the human being can arise from a tinker-toy structure, however complicated.


A "brain" only appears to be able to do this because hyper-rational scientific thinking is afraid of the spiritual, the mystical, the sacred, the imaginative, and the artistic.  This is a fear-driven irrational limit placed by scientists themselves on their own minds.  See Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World.


For details on another way of looking at this, and as well all the logical flaws underlying modern materialistic scientific thinking, "read" the previously mentioned: The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything.


Some final thoughts, born in the Thought-World, an invisible “place with which we are all intimately familiar:


the gift of the word  

(should be read aloud, better even if we get someone to read it to us)

Speech, / Words, letters, sounds, / heard by both the inner ear and the outer.

Letters, sounds, words, / linked invisibly to ideas and thoughts.

Ideas, thoughts, letters, sounds, words, / a woven tapestry of meaning,

carried by Speech, / sometimes with grace, / but most often just carelessly.

Meaning, / a weaving of thoughts, sounds, words, letters and ideas,

spoken into the air and left there, / abandoned.

Words, spoken and heard. / Meaning intended. / But what is heard?

That which is heard is also intended. / Two intentions, two purposes, two meanings.

How difficult then communication, / suffering as it does the contrary pulls of multiple intentions, purposes and meanings.

I speak, you listen. / I mean, you grasp. / Somewhere in this delicate dance of words, sounds, letters, thoughts, ideas and purposes; / understanding is sought after.

Perhaps. / Sometimes.

Voice. / Speech reveals the unspoken. / Anger, fear, pride, arrogance, true humility.

The ear of the heart hears what is hidden in voice.

Posture, gesture. / Speech is more than sound. / The eye hears things the ear cannot, just as the ear sees things the eye cannot.

One mind. / Two minds. / Speech, a bridge of woven light between two minds, and sometimes, although rarely, / between two hearts.

Speech, rich and full of flavor, / a light bridge, / joining two separate beings.

Speech denatured, / No sound, no gesture, no posture, no voice.

Speech reduced to lines of dark on light. / Written. / A treasure map in code spilled across a page

Words, letters, ideas, thoughts, sounds, / reduced to marks upon a parchment. / Speech dying.

Yet, / even in death, murdered by pen or pencil mark, / some essence of Speech still.

Meaning embalmed. Understanding buried. / Until read.

Reading. / Words, sounds, letters, thoughts, ideas, meaning, purposes, intentions,

Speech resurrected in the silence of another mind.

Speech. / Light bridge dying into print, / reborn when read in the inner quiet of another soul.

Speech, / The Spoken Word. / Writing, / The Word entombed. / Writing read, / The Word resurrected.

That this is so, / that human beings live in such an exalted state having Speech, this is Grace.

The spoken word, the written word. / Things so ordinary, so taken for granted, so pregnant with possibility.

The emptiness between two souls is always / chaste, virgin, pure, / waiting for Grace, for the bridge of light, / for Speech.

The Gift of the Word, originally called Speech, was written on Epiphany,

Jan. 6, 1997, in the evening, in about a third of an hour.