10 October 2006


I keep writing about the horrors of ‘normal’ psychology, so let me for once try to say something marginally ‘interesting’ about real psychology.

It makes a lot of difference whether or not one is open to all the possibilities of the fundamentally uncertain existential situation. I would never have called myself an atheist as Richard Dawkins is proud to do; the most realistic of all possible perceptions is the perceptions that one does not know anything.

The ability to derive a sense of significance from society/other people depends on losing sight of the fact that there may be factors to be taken into account in any situation which are not plausible or even imaginable. The fact that the existential uncertainty is not being borne in mind is usually implicit or accidental, but the modern ideology, as exemplified by Dawkins, would like it to be a deliberate and conscious rejection of the possibility that there could be anything other than what is accepted as forming part of the prevailing social worldview.

It may be difficult to say whether or not this is present in a certain person’s outlook; it may be, without having been explicitly formulated. This is an illustration of the difficulty that arises (or would arise, if one attempted it) in any attempt to communicate higher level psychology as an exoteric system.

I, at any rate, clearly did not adopt a disbelief in open-ended possibilities, and this aroused strong reactions from both Catholics at the convent (who considered me a materialistic and reductionist person) and from agnostics at Somerville who complained that when most people said they were agnostics they meant there was nothing to get emotional about, whereas I clearly did react emotionally to existence. And I did; I regarded myself as a scientist and a realist, and I found it extremely emotive to be alive, to be having experiences of unknown status.

I always concluded my analyses with a clause to the effect that, whatever the obvious possibilities might seem to be, something inconceivable might actually be the case. This probably affected my psychological development quite a lot, although it is not entirely obvious why it should have had all the side-effects which it did. Conversely, the fact that other people exclude possibilities so as to believe in society in the operative way, seems also to have quite definite effects on their psychology and motivation.

Curiously, and not obviously, open-mindedness appears to prevent the development of meanness and dishonesty, a predilection for which appears to be a part of the social belief system.

People who perceive the possibility of coming to work here/making a career here/helping us etc. and sometimes appear to be, at least to some extent, attracted by this, but then don’t come, seem to take refuge in some social evaluation system, which they prefer to considering the situation in an open-ended or open-minded way. According to this evaluation system, as we are social outsiders and outcasts, it is impossible that we should be in the right and society in the wrong. Social outsiders are always to be viewed with contempt; it is out of the question that they should be regarded otherwise.