The Rule of Thought
Thoughts aren’t thoughts; thoughts are instructions.
Our thoughts are instructions to see the world in a particular way.
We don’t see our thoughts as being instructions or commands – we see them as being genuine, honest-to-goodness viewpoints on the world. We see our thoughts as being genuine, honest-to-goodness viewpoints on the world because that is how our thoughts tell us to see them.
This is how our thoughts instruct us to understand the thinking process, as being a genuinely unbiased reflection of reality rather than just ‘a bunch of arbitrary instructions to see reality this way or that’, and we always believe our thoughts.
Our thoughts control everything – they control the way we see the world. They control the way we see ourselves. They control who we ‘think’ we are. Thought runs us, as David Bohm says –
I suggest that we don’t decide what to do with information. Information takes over. It runs us. Thought then creates the impression that it is our servant, just doing what we want it to do. That’s the difficulty.
Our thoughts surround everything, they have everything covered, they have everything mapped out. There is no aspect to anything that has not been covered by our thoughts – thought is a seamless structure, a uniform paint-job, a plausible story that explains everything away.
Our thoughts hem us in: in representing reality to us they paper over that reality, they occlude it, they cover it over with a false surface. The thinking process is the official voice, the ultimate authority, the final word. We can’t go beyond our thoughts – we go where they say we should go.
Our thoughts don’t give us any space to see things in any other way than their own – no other voice is allowed, no other viewpoint is allowed. We however don’t see anything wrong with this outrageous act of repression because we think that we are our thoughts.
Our thoughts lead us to believe that we are our thoughts, but we aren’t. Our thinking has nothing to do with who we really are.
Our thoughts aren’t actually our thoughts at all – we don’t think them, they think us. Our thoughts tell us what to believe and they tell us to believe that we are ‘in charge’, they tell us to believe that we call the shots. And because thought tells us what to do (rather than vice versa) we believe this implicitly.
Our thoughts instruct us to believe that we are thinking what we want to think – they instruct us to believe that we are free. But in reality we are free only to believe whatever the thoughts tell us to believe. We are ‘free’ to obey the rules.
Thought itself is never free however. Thoughts are rules and rules are the very antithesis of freedom. The rule is the inverted analogue of realaity.
Thoughts are based on the principle of logic and logic is based on the principle of tautology. Logic is a system that agrees with itself, forming a closed loop with no way in and no way out.
Logic is a realm in which everything has already been decided, a realm in which there can be no surprises. Logic is a closed set of possibilities, and nothing can happen unless it agrees with the rules that determine whether something is possible or not. No statement is true unless it agrees with the predetermined rules governing what may be said to be true.
All of these are ways of saying that logic is a tautology – an exercise in self-referentiality. The context of meaning I assume (without acknowledging that I have made any assumptions) determines what is to be true and what is not true, and so I covertly get to determine what is true or not true.
Thus, something is so because I say it is so, it is right because I believe it to be right, it is true because I describe it as being true…
This is really a type of freedom, but a very superficial type – it is an infinitely superficial (or empty) type of freedom.
Whatever I say is true, is true. But because anything can be true just because I say it is true this type of ‘truth’ is entirely hollow, entirely without substance. Just as logic is hollow and lacking in substance, so too is rational thought. Thought can prove any point it wants to, and so none of its proofs are worth a damn.
Yet despite thought being entirely hollow, entirely lacking in substance, it is at the same time absolutely rigid, absolutely unyielding, absolutely dictatorial.
Despite being entirely arbitrary, thought gives us no leeway whatsoever – it never lets up, it never relaxes, it never gives us a break. Thought is – in short – an absolute tyrant.
It is of course thought’s inherent weakness that necessitates its unyielding stance, its pitiless tyranny, its striking lack of humour, its utter intolerance of any way other than its own way.
Thought is just like any common human tyrant, any common human dictator in this regard. Thought is like a police state that cannot tolerate dissent because its position is too weak.
Thought cannot tolerate any other viewpoint than its own because if it does then it will immediately be shown up as being completely arbitrary. Its outward show of strength is therefore simply the flip-side of its inner weakness. It cannot tolerate anything other than that which it itself designates as being so. It cannot stretch – it cannot reach out. It cannot accommodate reality. It cannot tolerate reality…
And yet despite the fact that our thoughts are infinitely superficial, infinitely shallow, devoid of any actual basis, we believe them unquestioningly.
Despite the fact that thoughts are empty commands, we obey them automatically.
We let them rule every aspect of our lives.
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