The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


A good quote leapt out at me while I was browsing in Barnes & Noble recently. It's from a little book by Germaine Greer in the Barnes & Noble "Brief Insight" series. Although I'd probably disagree with her about loads of things, I believe Germaine Greer is one of the smartest people around today.

Her book, which is a "brief insight" into Shakespeare, is an excellent book from any standpoint. But I particularly liked this quote, which I thought expressed what some of us have been trying to say about the insights gained from our horses.
It may not be possible to extract a nugget of thought, which we usually think of as a series of interrelated propositions, but part of the reason for that is that Shakespeare knew, as we have forgotten, that feeling is as intellectual as thinking. His is, as Eliot would argue, an intact nondissociative sensibility. (p. 180)
So there you have it - what I'm learning from my horses is an "intact nondissociative sensibility," which although feeling-based, rather than thinking-based, is nonetheless intellectual.

Merriam Webster defines "intellect" as "the capacity for knowledge." I think Greer is right to distinguish between a process of thinking which involves moving from one related proposition to another and the process, equally rational, of grasping the totality of an experience.

When Greer uses the word "feeling," I don't think she means "emotion" but something more like "sensing." When I think of sensing, it seems obvious that this is a bona fide way of perceiving truth - I can sense that it is cold, for example. It may, in fact, be the only way of perceiving the truth.

Ina May Gaskin, in her classic book Spiritual Midwifery, talks about the newborn infant's "original face." Mothers, on meeting their babies for the first time, have an instant, intuitive grasp of the personality of the child. I experienced this myself with each of my children - I received immediate, valuable, accurate, and detailed information about them in a manner which could not be described. The information was somehow sensed (although not by one of the five physical senses) and was, as Greer describes, "intact" and "nondissociative". Once I had the information in hand, I could put it into words, but the process of acquiring it was ineffable.

Post-Enlightenment, we seem to have gotten into a confused mindset whereby we believe that truth is accessible by developing propositions which theorize the nature of truth, based on hypotheses we have formed on the basis of other propositions based on previous hypotheses.

Logical thought, which pretends to serve the search for truth, runs amok and spews out meaningless propositions whose only claim to truth is that they are connected to other propositions. I believe the doctrine of the evolution of species is one such excrescence. Another is the belief that horses are robotic, soulless entities. In the quest for Reality, reality is not consulted.

As G.K. Chesterton wrote, "The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason." (Orthodoxy, Ch. 2)

p.s. We have snow today.

Chloe enjoys her breakfast.

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