Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Reason is and ought always be the slave of the passions. (David Hume)


We have a long road to travel before we can be said to understand, on even the most elementary of levels, the intricate relations between human reason and human emotions. The object-besotted, thing-obsessed nature of the assumptions that underlie much of modern Western culture is nowhere more evident than in the concepts of ‘objectivity’ and ‘subjectivity’. As far as the acquisition of factual knowledge is concerned, and we are obsessed by this as well, objectivity is a virtue and subjectivity is a vice. One hears all the time, in a tone of criticism, “don’t be so subjective!” or “you really should be more objective about this.” Good practice in the gaining of knowledge is the scrupulous observance of the criterion of objectivity, and subjectivity is something to be avoided, even shunned and reviled. So what do we mean by these two terms? Why this polarisation of our minds into virtuous saintly part and vicious sinful part? It is true that emotions fog the mind and distort the perceptions; but to announce that all emotion has to be proscribed from the life of the intellect is simply barmy, if only because there are both destructive and constructive emotions and rather than banning them all, we need to sort out the latter from the former.

Objectivity is, as the term itself suggests, a determination of the mind by objects. It is the attitude of mind that, at its best, is a resolve to stick to the facts of experience, whatever they are, whether the investigator likes them or not, to respect the facts and to give the facts pride of place as opposed to any interpretation. This is very laudable; but it has naturally a downside. At its worst, objectivity is the belief that objects, in the sense of three-dimensional objects, are all that there is in the universe and that these objects should be imagined to speak for themselves, without the imposition of any interpretations. This species of objectivity becomes difficult to sustain when one reflects that knowledge is precisely the business of human beings and their talking about the objects of their experience. This means that the objects are by definition not speaking for themselves, but are rather being spoken for in a language loaded with presuppositions that arise in the subjectivity of those who talk and who may not be aware of them. The whole notion of ‘letting the objects speak for themselves’ means no more than the expression of a belief in absolute precision of representation such that the difference between the object and the representation disappears. It is unnecessary to point out that such a belief must be misguided.

In the acquisition of knowledge, experience is all we have; but we cannot say in all honesty that our experience is only of objects, at least not of objects conceived in the manner of things we can grasp in our hands. When we start to think of our experience of objects, moreover, it becomes very difficult to sort out what in our experience belongs entirely to the object and what belongs only to our minds, so to the subject. Let’s not bother with the debate over primary and secondary characteristics which speculated that the secondary characteristics – smells, colours, tastes, textures etc. – were provided by the subject, whereas geometrical properties and solidity were real features of the object. The profoundest influence upon perception is emotion. We don’t think of any thing without at the same time having feelings about it. The experience of the feelings we have about objects is as much experience as anything else. If then our experience is of more than just objects, why do we sometimes get so hot under the collar when people start to talk about objects in language that attributes to them more than just their 3D space-occupying properties? Why do we get so worked up when we think people are simply expressing their own feelings and inner states, when they think they are talking about matters outside of themselves? Well, we don’t necessarily get worked up, if we share their feelings, but if we do get worked up, the main reason seems to be that we don’t all have the same feelings about objects that we all nevertheless identify as being the same. The objects are thought of as being entirely public, the feelings, on the other hand as entirely private. So it is regarded as a vice to confuse private feelings with public properties when talking about objects. And indeed, that can be the case. Nevertheless, since all thought arises in feeling, historically and on the individual level, we have to ask ourselves, whether we are not losing something by this policy of trying to eliminate all feeling, whether there is not a some understanding of the vital cognitive role for feelings that we do well to consider and appreciate .

Passions can, it is true, get out of control. We can hugely overvalue or undervalue objects on account of our emotions, where a ‘dispassionate’ assessment of them would come to a different view. Thus we are afraid of our passions because of their potentially distorting effect. But are we well served by the practice of simply suppressing them in all situations where the acquisition of knowledge is supposedly the goal. Can one be objective about inner states of the subject? Can one be objective about subjectivity? We all recognise when a poet or a musician or a dramatist or a novelist has accurately portrayed a feeling that we have had with regard to something. Sometimes the artist in question portrays the feeling so exactly that we seem to be experiencing it ourselves and with great intensity. We recognise it as a feeling we have had. Even stand-up comedians can get to the essence of very intimate feelings of a troubling or embarrassing nature and their humour often has to do with this revelation of ourselves to ourselves through the portrayal of feelings. Often the more accurate the portrayal, the funnier the act. So perhaps one can be objective about subjective states, about subjectivity. But then, if this is so, objectivity cannot be simply about letting objects, tangible, solid objects speak for themselves. It must have to do with more complex facts than the space-occupying properties of perceptible things. Moreover, one has to at least suspect that such a limitation of the concept of ‘knowledge’ is itself driven by an emotion: the fear of emotion – that of others at least. A far more rational attitude would seem to be to recognise the place of emotion in knowledge and strive to understand it. The notion of the emotionless subject, passionlessly contemplating a universe of senseless objects is incoherent.

The notion of that subject’s being ‘merely’ an object is also incoherent. Nevertheless, there is a dogma that claims that subjective states are ultimately identical with perceptible objects since thought is just brain-function. There are people who find it reassuring to be able to assert that all mental events are brain-states. But if one believes this, one has to concede that objective knowledge in a mind is also ultimately a perceptible object. This means that one particular set of perceptible objects is somehow ‘knowledge’ of yet another set of perceptible objects, and the perception of this state of affairs yet another. Since the same incomprehensible principle goes for feelings about objects, it is impossible to see how knowledge and feelings differ. If, furthermore, knowledge and feelings are ultimately in themselves objects, this fact could presumably not be fully known without perceiving the objects in question. Thus this knowledge in turn would be yet another set of perceptible objects. We start to get dizzy at such reflections, but at least they make us aware that the whole business of objectivity and subjectivity is far more complex than we seem to imagine. Moreover, the understanding of objectivity seems to have far more to do with a desire to ignore the conscious subject and cut it out of the equation than anything else, principally because it is too unruly an entity.




People are liable to talk about some statement’s being ‘objective’ if they mean that they find it accurate and so they may mean no more than that they agree with it. Moreover, they do not limit the term ‘objective’ to the description in dispassionate terms of items of foreworld. They can talk about the objective assessment of someone’s capacities, qualities, character and so on. Thus, the term ‘objective’ seems to mean nothing more now than a sort of lowest common denominator of experience – ‘what we can all agree on’ – and that is a function of communities of discourse and their conventions, not a matter of ‘letting the world speak for itself’. Communities of discourse are riddled with feelings (‘consensus’ means ‘feeling together’), but they can ignore them because everyone in the community has the same feelings. So, if all communities of discourse – including those of scientific discourse – work with feelings and if these feelings are only factored out because everyone shares them, why do we not recognise that feelings are an integral part of the knowledge-gathering process? The desire to know is a passion and without it there is no accumulation of knowledge. Thus we should have the clear-headedness to pay closer attention to the sorts of feelings that influence thought in order to be in a much better position to understand which feelings tend to aid cognitive accumulation and which feelings hinder it.

The difficulties involved in making a distinction between feelings that are cognitively helpful and those that are the contrary of this are major. There is clearly a lot wrong with simply claiming that all and any feelings should be allowed to influence the gathering of knowledge. Take members of a jury, for example, who all happen to be passionate racists and are found sitting in judgement on a member of a group they despise? Here, if the feelings interfere with the question of the facts suggesting the guilt or innocence of the person concerned, then they are clearly inappropriate. When someone says of something, “this is beautiful,” or “this is interesting,”  “this is cruel,” “this is wrong,” “this is good” and another says (perhaps with increasing annoyance) of the same things the opposite of these adjectives, then there is clearly something more than mere disagreement going on. The parties concerned, here, are likely to continue asserting their individual position despite the assertions of the other. That is to say that a concern for the facts seems not to be up to resolving the situation and bringing about harmonious agreement. So while feelings can cement a community of discourse, they can clearly be a source of discord and disharmony, of conflict and disagreement between communities. And as we all know only too well, such discord and conflict can often flare up into unpleasant things such as violence, intolerance, hatred, discrimination and the like. Such discord does not however prove that feeling as such is out of place in the gathering of knowledge, only that certain feelings are. We all know that certain methods are unsuitable to the accumulation of valuable insight; but we do not on that account proscribe all method. Why then can we not admit that certain feelings are appropriate to it?

Do the negative results of the intrusion of feelings upon the observation and description of facts necessarily mean that we have to exclude all feeling from our experience of the world if we are to come up with what we call ‘knowledge’? This hardly seems likely, if only because certain feelings play such a vital role in the attitudes and activities that result in our finding out things about the world. Take the feelings of being interested, of being intrigued, of being curious. Surely these are essential to any attempt to learn anything. In their absence we learn nothing. Yet they are feelings and they remain feelings throughout the processes that they may set in train. We feel perpetually curious or intrigued about almost everything in the world. If we didn’t, we would stagnate as a race and neither learn nor create anything new. The feelings of being curious and being interested drive what is intrinsic to what it means to be human, namely the search for understanding. These feelings may be temporarily satisfied when a discovery is made, but they soon flare up again when the discoveries concerned or at least the terms in which they are expressed – no longer seem to deal adequately with the facts or simply lead to dissatisfaction, i.e. another feeling. This has always been so with the human race. Often it is a new generation that feels differently, less satisfied, about the ‘facts’ that satisfied the older generation. But this is not necessarily so. Sometimes an individual will remain throughout life intrigued, interested, curious, dissatisfied about his or her understanding of the world around.

But these feelings are not the only ones that drive us to learn things. We also have feelings of meaningfulness, of beauty, of awe, of wonder, and their opposite, feelings of ugliness, chaos, contempt and boredom, that drive us to try and understand our experience. The most desiccated mind, intent on screening all emotion out of any comment upon experience is not immune to feeling but merely pretending to be so. The interesting question is why this pretence should be maintained. The answer to this is found in an ideology, the ideology of the thing-world, foreworld as the only world, the world as a soulless collection of mindless, feelingless three-dimensional objects, knowledge of which can only be some incomprehensible, feelingless configuration of another set of objects. The ideology that states that only solid things in three-dimensional space exist and nothing else, and that knowledge of these is essentially equivalent to quantifying them, clearly has no use for feelings. The ideology also states that the human perceptual apparatus is equipped to give a completely accurate assessment of these things. The ideology then states that with the piling up of detailed descriptive information of these things (which is equivalent to the measurement of various quantitative values), the interpretations will simply come along, simply be read off from the large number of details. The careful, unemotional work of cataloguing, measuring and describing the things of the world goes ahead according to the logic of resemblance, contiguity or cause and effect or according to the deductive logic of drawing inferences from known facts. Everything is clinical and dry. Well, this is such a travesty of the process of the increase of our knowledge that it beggars belief that anyone ever believed it. It is even more astonishing that this pretence of passionlessness is still part of the official self-image of the scientific enterprise. The search for knowledge is a passion. And yet the ideology fosters belief in this passionless view of things? Why?

The reason, may be detectable in the origins of the word ‘passion’. The word means something passive, something one ‘suffers’, something that happens to one, something involuntary; whereas the human ego wants to be solely responsible for knowledge and to take all credit for it. Another reason, however, is possibly the simplifying desire to screen out of our consideration of the world the destructive passions that distort and diminish people’s view of things and interpretations of facts. But we also in the process exclude anything like the passions that are found in the poetic, lyrical, mythical or religious views of the world, where emotions are consciously included into the theories about the universe and positively drive them forward. Consequent upon the insight that emotions can be destructive, we gave in to the knee-jerk condemnation of all emotion indiscriminately. But the most fundamental reason for the exclusion of emotion was itself again an emotion: the self-aggrandizing desire to confer upon the observing mind, the observing ego a kind of infallibility, a potential omniscience.

With the increasing success of the mechanical conception of the universe, the all-conquering Newtonian mechanics, the subject became both an embarrassment and the source of a seductive dream of gigantic proportions. It became an embarrassment not only because the destructive nature of certain emotions is well understood by all, but also because of the excesses of the Middle Ages with its religious ecstasies and because of the Romantic Movement with its deep mystification about the hidden depths of the soul. But it became the source of a seductive dream when the possibility opened up of the ego’s acquiring and possessing an absolute viewpoint on the universe, a God’s-eye view of things. The observing ego was shut out of the scientific picture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as far as its emotional depths were concerned, but it was inflated to divine proportions in its supposed ability to acquire truth. The emotional baggage that was dragged along with the Medieval and Romantic conceptions of the world gave it both terrifying and deeply satisfying features: it had mysterious unknown and therefore threatening depths to it, but it was also suffused with sense, meaning and direction. The theories of the universe redolent with meaning that result from the Medieval or Romantic ways of viewing the world were ditched by the scientific spirit. They were replaced by an ideology of strict meaninglessness for no other reason than that the feeling that the world had a deep objective significance that often suffuses poetry, myth and the like had to be stripped away from any consideration of the world and replaced with the subjective sense of significance of the ego. With the loss of objective meaningfulness went the feeling of purposefulness that is closely related to it and with purpose went value: the objective world became meaningless and valueless. The reason for this is simple: without the ability to follow those emotional responses to reality, that suggested to us that it was in itself meaningful, it loses its value. Now when reality loses its value, we lose our reason, our purpose for living. It is after all our emotions, our sense of meaning and purpose that make us get up in the morning.

But the doctrine of meaninglessness was actually a huge subterfuge. The scientific ego was in fact only apparently wedded to it. In actual fact it was secretly attached to an emotionally given meaning to the universe that up to this point had not been fully tried out: this emotionally given meaning was the delicious thought that the scientific ego was itself the meaning and purpose of the universe.  Of course this nonsensical idea was never articulated by any scientific community, but it was there nevertheless, and all the more powerful for not being articulated. Its presence became clear in the outworking of some philosophical tendencies within the idealism of the Enlightenment, from Kant through Fichte to Hegel. The scientific version of the same tendency was evident in the pronouncements of the Count Pierre Simon de Laplace, the eminent physicist of the nineteenth century who taught Napoleon at the Ecole Militaire in Paris. Laplace was a true scientific son of the Enlightenment. He produced the classical formulation of the theory of probability which attempted to prove that probabilities arise from ignorance and that in actual fact the world is entirely determined, just like a piece of clockwork. He imagined that if a mind (a ‘daemon’) sufficiently capacious to hold all the information knew the location and the trajectories of all the particles in the universe, then knowledge of any sort about the universe would simply be a matter of calculation, not of the probabilities of any future states but the certainties of all future states. Thus, for example, moral questions would be resolved in exactly the same manner as mechanical questions. This vision was nonsensical because it involved an ambiguity or a confusion over the notion of the ‘mind’ that was doing these calculations. Laplace pretended to be talking about a superhuman mind, but in fact he was talking about his own mind endowed with superhuman qualities. That he was talking at one and the same time about a human and a non-human mind is obvious, because he imagined the information that the daemon’s mind would hold and manipulate as being organised and used according to human plans, wishes designs and intentions. Therefore what he envisaged in his completely deterministic universe was a universe completely under the intellectual – and presumably as a result, the physical – control of the ego – his own, no doubt. This vision of pseudo godhood was the driving force behind most of the science of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was the vision that underpinned the ideologies of mechanism, deterministic materialism, and it still drives the ideology of objectivity today.

It was this ideology that mightily influenced Friedrich Nietzsche and led him to come up with his spine-chilling myth of the Eternal Return of the Same. Nietzsche drew the consequences of Laplace’s vision of the complete material determinism of an atomistic conception of reality and reasoned thus: if the universe is composed of a finite number of definable particles and if those particles are moving according to definite mechanical laws, such that their trajectories can be predicted, then such a universe must go through all the permutations available to the particles moving thus, in a finite amount of time. However, since time is infinite (as it was in Newtonian physics) it must go through all the permutations an infinite number of times. The upshot of this view of things for the human individual is that each human life has already happened an infinite number of times and will happen an infinite number of times in the future. We are doomed mechanically to perform the same gestures that we have performed, are performing, or will perform in our lives an infinite number of times. Thus nothing actually happens in such a universe, since it repeats itself identically ad infnitum.

The state of modern physics no longer permits such chilling visions to be true. Determinism has gone. Atomism has gone. Infinite linear time has gone.  Complete predictability has gone. And, most significantly, the absolute separation of the observer and the observed has gone. Thus the old basis for the distinction between objectivity and subjectivity, at least in the manner understood by the thing-ideology has also gone. What have we left? Well what we have is what we always had before the separation of object and subject came on the scene. We have an intimate connection between object and subject.




It is in fact impossible to define in any rigorous way any boundary between object and subject. The consciousness of the subject is constituted not only by its emotional interest, but also by perceptions of objects that are constructions of its 3D space-processor: hindworld and foreworld are so entangled as to be inseparable. The objects themselves are only present to us by virtue of our conscious perceptions and not in any other way. It is impossible to separate consciousness and objects. Therefore in a very real sense, without going as far as George Berkeley, the objects themselves are dependent upon our conscious perceptions and have no existence without them. This can be admitted without the mind that admits it being obliged to give in to an ideology that states either that “the world is one big thought” or that “the world is nothing but objects”. The simple fact is that subject and object are locked together in mutual dependence: there is no foreworld without a hindworld. How then do we tease the two apart? Do we need to? The partial answer is this: language, i.e. midworld, mediates between subject and object. Language is the precipitate that is deposited at the interface between what we call experiencing subject and what we call experienced world. But it is in language that the difference between the two becomes evident. It is also in language that the indivisibility of the two becomes evident. Foreworld is mirrored in some way in hindworld and this mirroring is reproduced in midworld. The self reflects the world and further reflections of this reflection are given in language. But we do not have a simple set of transformation-rules by means of which the ‘objective’ outer world itself, the inner ‘subjective’ conception of the world, and the linguistic representation of the world can be related unproblematically. The problem is the high dimensionality of the situation. The relation subject-language-object is not representable in the three or even four dimensions that we are accustomed to. In short, there is no easy connection between ‘external’ reality, our ‘internal’ consciousness and the supposed ‘laws of nature’ that we talk about in language. The three are in constant dynamic interaction and always have been.

Our conception of the world apart from ourselves is constantly evolving and it evolves as the three partners in the dynamic system interact with each other like three gravitating bodies. Language broadens horizons and permits wider experience; but it is itself broadened by widening experience; the mind is enlarged, the world and language become more complex and there seems to be no end to this process of expansion. It is for this reason that we require a fourth aspect to the world – hyperworld – which is the ultimate indeterminate source of this series of infinitely deep reflections, the reflection of world in mind, the reflection of this reflection in language, the reflection of language in mind and the reflection of mind in language. In discovering the object, the subject discovers itself. The role of the subject, thus the role of subjectivity, is clearly no less important in this than the role of the object and the job of language is ultimately to allow the subject and the object to flow together. Let us try and get a handle on the possible role of the subject in discovering the object.

Could there be such things as cognitive emotions or cognitive feelings? Well, it would seem that the increase in human knowledge is inseparable from feelings of one sort or another. Feelings are the guilty secret of the scientific enterprise because, like creativity, they are not under the ego’s control. But a radical distinction must be made between those feelings that lead to discovery and those that turn knowledge into dogma and lead to conflict. The famous physicist Paul Dirac stressed that an important element in his equations and an important indicator of their appropriateness in describing the processes they were intended to model was their beauty. The feeling of aesthetic pleasure related to mathematical elegance and economy was vital to Dirac as an indicator of the truth of his discoveries. The beauty of an equation is assessed by a feeling and Dirac and others clearly attributed cognitive worth to this feeling. Similarly, the hunches and heuristic passions (the term in Michael Polanyi’s) that have always driven the researches and investigations of the best and most ground-breaking minds have always had an intensely emotional character to them without which the genius concerned would not have maintained the intensity of effort nor the intensity of zeal required to perform the gargantuan task of perhaps re-casting an entire field of knowledge.

No groundbreaking genius has ever subscribed to the notion of a passionless, disinterested, purely mechanical attitude to discovery. Discovery has always been a passionate business and the passion is for the satisfaction of a desire. The desire is to bring into parallax world, mind and language, to harmonise foreworld, hindworld and midworld; and this happens in an ever-renewed act of human creativity. But there is a difficulty at least as far as scientific discourse is concerned. This difficulty is that there is no common denominator of the three spheres. There is no simple mechanism whereby the subjective states of the thinker, the rules of the language and the laws of nature can be shown to have a common structure. By contemplating the world and by attempting to reflect the world thus experienced in language, the three spheres are each enlarged. There is a process of cross-fertilisation going on between the three. Now since the process is not mechanical, since there is no mechanical method of having new ideas, since there is no method of generating novelty, the confluence of the three worlds appears to be constantly troubled, constantly revitalised, constantly upset, constantly re-created, constantly reconfigured by feelings that encourage the creation of new formal techniques in which to clothe themselves with rigour. This revitalisation, it seems clear, cannot arise in any determined system and must arise in the undetermined itself: what we call ‘hyperworld’ in which distinctions between subject and object are of no significance.

So where does all this leave us with regard to the question of the relative merits of objectivity and subjectivity? Well clearly, we can no longer sustain a conception of knowledge that does not take seriously the dynamism of the subject, since all increase of knowledge is a work of subjects. The creativity of the subject is entirely responsible for the major increases in knowledge. All major new ideas arise passionately in the minds of the creative innovators. The religious visions of the past arose in the minds of creative individuals. The philosophical and scientific visions that grew out of them and that replaced them were the work of different creative individuals.  The ideology of objectivity was also the work of creative minds. The subject, the ideology states, does not exist but is itself an object. And this ideology proved very fruitful in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But this ideology has now been shown by the apparently most ‘objective’ of sciences to have serious weaknesses and has succumbed to further work on the part of further creative minds. It is time that we relieved it of its uniquely and exclusively authoritative position in our culture.

The passions of the investigating thinker cannot be neglected, nor can they be reduced to any mechanism, even the most sophisticated. Subject and object and language are locked together in an apparently eternal dance in which each revivifies the other, passionately. The entire accumulation of knowledge from its prehistoric roots through religion to science has been driven by passions. Language is the locus of human creative discovery of the depths of the world – depths that are still unknown. Subject, object and language are, however, parts of a world which itself appears to be in a process of perpetual evolution, perpetual generation of new form. We do not know how this evolution arises, where, if anywhere, it is tending, nor what drives it. All we know is that we find it infinitely fascinating and wonderful and wish to capture that sense of wonder in convincing and perhaps even useful terms. There is no reason to believe that there in any end-station in this process. Our knowledge is eternally being re-created and with it our world, ourselves and also our language. Why should there be any end to this? Why should we have to believe that some definitive ‘objective’, weights and measures account of all that is brute object, and from which the subject has been eliminated, will soon be worked out? We can concede that no end is in view and yet nevertheless, passionately embrace the challenge of our incomprehension, embrace the creation of new forms of expression that strive to elucidate the mystery. We are fundamentally convinced that the relation between mind, world and language is essentially meaningful. Why can we not simply revel in the creative effervescence that arises from the interaction of foreworld and midworld and see the entire interaction as generated and maintained by that which engages us most, namely hyperworld, the uncracked riddle?

We have to acknowledge the role of feeling in the increase of human knowledge. It is vital. We have to develop the vocabulary for being intelligently objective about subjectivity. The old conception of objectivity as ‘letting the world speak for itself’ must be supplemented by a preparedness to ‘let the psyche speak for itself’ as it contemplates its world. The thing-world we have foisted upon ourselves is a sterile fiction. It exists only in language and has been dissolved in language. The real world includes the feeling world and the perception-world. Together they feed our creativity. The real world as such is the unknown; but our consciousness of it widens perpetually as world, self and language interact. The increase of knowledge does not depend upon the clinical, dispassionate ‘letting objects speak for themselves’ for this has no sense at all. The objects of the 3D world do not speak for themselves, we speak for them and we speak for them in language loaded with emotion, because loaded with human designs and purposes. We as subjects speak of objects because ultimately they are us. It may well be, though, that through us and through our constructive passions it is after all the real world that speaks for itself through us.

We don’t know what objects are in the world and we don’t know the nature of the objects that we encounter. Our feelings about the objects of our experience are an inalienable part of experience. There is no feelingless experience, or if there is, it doesn’t interest us. Our interest is a measure of the strength of the feelings we invest in our experiences.  We will have done ourselves a great service when we come to a mature understanding of the role of the emotions in cognition, and to an understanding of which emotions are appropriate and which are not.  We could start by recognising that many of the emotions of the rational ego are definitely inappropriate: its vanity, its self-love, its territoriality, its arrogance, its intolerance and so on. We could then counteract them by recognising how emotions such as curiosity, a sense of wonder, a sense of beauty, a love of the natural world, a desire for total honesty and so on are working in the opposite direction and thus may be appropriate. We could characterise the former set of feelings as cognitively damaging since they lead to partisanship, orthodoxy, dogma, conflict, repression and so on; and we could characterise the latter set of passions as cognitively constructive since they have always driven the expansion of our consciousness. Our knowledge depends to a very great extent and essentially upon these constructive emotions. It therefore depends upon factors within us that we do not control, that must be considered to be pure world. Understanding this is clearly vital to any understanding of our knowledge, our world and ourselves; and as to the question of the relative merits of subjectivity and objectivity – the apparent opposition is spurious and the avowed abandonment of the former in favour of the latter, incoherent.


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