We humans are the least instinctive of all the animals. Using the metaphor of a computer, very little of our behaviour is hard-wired in the brain and in the DNA molecule, despite received opinion to the contrary; it is mostly programmed into us from birth and even before. We are acculturated and mind-washed to behave as our parents, teachers, media, peers, and other external influences want us to behave.
Even though such mechanistic conditioning is necessary for us to learn our native language and other social skills, one consequence is that our innate intelligence—the ability to see both sides of any situation—is stultified. In the extreme, people are led to believe that God is on their side when nations go to war, often expressed in such prayers as “[May] God bless America.”
Splitting opposites in this manner is not a new phenomenon. In Metaphysics Aristotle said, “It is impossible for the same attribute at once to belong and not to belong to the same thing and in the same relation … as some imagine Heraclitus says.” In contrast, Heraclitus said, “The Hidden Harmony is better than the obvious,” “Opposition brings concord; out of discord comes the fairest harmony,” adding “People do not understand how that which is at variance with itself agrees with itself.”
In a similar fashion, in Tao Teh Ching Lao Tzu said, “When all the world recognizes beauty as beauty, this in itself is ugliness. When all the world recognizes good as good, this in itself is evil,” adding “My words are very easy to understand and very easy to practice: But the world cannot understand them nor practice them.”
What Heraclitus and Lao Tzu observed some 2,500 years ago in the societies in which they lived is as true today as it was then. This is especially true in Abrahamic cultures, which have a sequential (from beginning to end) understanding of time.
In terms of logic—as the science of reason—Aristotle laid down the foundations of Western thought with the concept of the syllogism, described in Prior Analytics, the third of the six works that constitute Organon ‘instrument (of reasoning)’. Aristotle did not begin at the beginning with his reasoning, at the Divine Origin of the Universe. Rather, he began with a major and minor premise, from which a third proposition could be deduced. For instance, if all humans are mortal and if all Greeks are humans, then all Greeks are mortal. Euclid then turned Aristotle’s premises, literally that which is set in front, into the axioms or postulates of his systemization of the mathematical theorems known at his time.
There things remained for over two thousand years, until 1853, when George Boole had published An Investigation of the Laws of Thought on Which Are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities. Following a mystical experience Boole had had as a seventeen-year-old, he saw that arithmetical operators could act on concepts in general as well as numbers, thereby unifying mathematics and logic known at his time. Furthermore, he sought to bring the science of reason into psychology, where it properly belongs, as the first sentence of this seminal work indicates: “The design of the following treatise is to investigate the fundamental laws of those operations of the mind by which reasoning is performed,” with the purpose of exploring “the nature and constitution of the human mind”.
However, Boole’s intentions were misunderstood by his successors, especially Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell, who insisted that mathematical logic must have nothing whatsoever to do with psychology. Mathematical logic thus became disembodied, leading to the invention of the stored-program computer in the middle of the twentieth century, well demonstrating the linearity of Western thought, even there is much parallelism in modern computers and computer systems.
But there is a snag. Despite all endeavours to eliminate paradoxes and self-contradictions from deductive logic and mathematical proof, they cannot be removed, as Kurt Gödel proved in his Incompleteness Theorems in 1931. For the entire Universe is build on paradoxes, as quantum physicists discovered during the last century. So any science of reason that is based on Aristotle’s Law of Contradiction, denying Heraclitus’ Hidden Harmony, must lead to delusion, an invalid model or map of the Universe, leading us astray in our daily lives.
Thankfully, there is a way of healing our deluded minds, awakening our innate Intelligence, so much suppressed by society today. Rather surprisingly, the cure lies at the very heart of computer science, which can lead us into deep inner Peace, the only viable basis for World Peace, as we see on the next page.