We cannot take for granted the human mental activity termed analysis, that is grouped, tightly or loosely, with rationality, logicality, and often Procrustean binarism. Where did such violent patterns of thought arise from to be a mainstay of the modern human experience? Thought patterns that have a curious mind pondering, and ultimately encouraging a body—or many bodies—to enact such blood spilling dissections of the natural world. To get at a plausible answer, I believe we must use another mental activity still afforded us (i.e. imagination?) that can have us walking in some earlier, less or even pre-analytical time. Perhaps if we use such an imaginative temporal transportation adequately, we can see the peculiar analytical flap of the butterfly’s wings that rippled into the hurricane of analytic violence that so consumes the human psyche and the wider world we have today compacted.
The Stark Natural Impurity of Purities
Purities are the fruits ripest for a mind to cling to and ponder to develop an analytic binary: that which is the pure thing, and the impure milieu defined as a background to surrounding the pureness. To get at such pure fruit, we could take our imaginations back temporally to the experience of an early migratory human in a forest gathering tinder for a fire. Such an activity is not unimaginable though it probably displays a crude understanding of paleolithic life; nevertheless, it will serve as a starting point.
We should pose the question: what in that forest environment was pure enough to stand out from the rest that she would take particular note to develop a discourse to pass on to others? The only “thing” that I can think of (but perhaps your imagination will afford you a better example) that is pure and startling enough to wrench her from her gathering task would be her stumbling upon a recently dead body of another human. Such a drastic encounter would probably force her, after much emotional processing, to conceptualize death as something other than life. The purely differentness of death from daily living would stand out to any having their first encounter. From this simple life-death binary it is possible that if she didn’t suppress the whole experience out of a traumatic response, that she would then be opened to seeing death in non-human entities as well, such as a fallen tree, animals she might eat, and so on.
This life-death binary is a possible beginning to the analysis we have inherited mentally, culturally, institutionally today, but I would like to problematize that such an event could actually have had the staying power to grow into the scientific and philosophical knives with which we currently dice up reality. I don’t think a single concept—even one as shaking as death—could pull a migratory people into developing a particularly divisive language and an educational culture dedicated to replicating such ideas in the minds of their children and grandchildren. I see such primal occurrences, if they happened at all, as likely to be ripples that returned to the ocean; carcasses left behind to decay as the migration pushed forward, away from a previous locale.
The Relaxed Acceleration of the Western Analytic Mind
The particular analysis we of the westernized world have inherited must have an origin of sorts, and one place I would posit as distinctly possible is in the Pre-Socratic philosophizing of ancient Greece. A sea such as the Ionian (or Aegean) offers itself as such an analytic purity to the mind of one not interested in empiricism, who is not attuned to the subtleties of catching fish or other nautical pursuits. Thales—a name for a thinking (wo)man or group of thinking (wo)men—was just such a person who had a privileged position, including the leisure time to gaze at water and conceptualize it as a purity. After finding this pure fluid mixed in with other substances—not least of which would have been fruit—Thales went on to posit that this purity of water was what made up everything. Though no documentary evidence exists, it is quite possible that among a small group there was a fervor of thought and activity exploring this idea that water composed everything, and there were many fruits and animals slain (blood would be evidence), and wells dug, in the search of proof of waters omni-presence. This idea of a purity certainly impressed itself on the minds of these specific characters, and their bodily actions were sure to complement their thinking patterns. Out of Thales came other ontological originary elemental positings (air, fire) by the Ionian school that favored different purities for different reasons.
Thus oneness was posited in the minds of a particular place that would genealogically endure, and a few generations later “twoness” would arise from Plato and any proto-Platonists on the scene. Again, empiricism is sheltered out for it is damaging to the rational categories so constructed by the philosopher. History tells us of a marching forward of these ideas that would not be stamped out by the Persian Empire, nor defeated by the Carthaginians, nor permanently lost to the middle ages. We are the inheritors of such a tradition, but we are also those who could freely choose a different path, and to let go of analytics if we so dared, not using paths blazed before us that direct our activities forward.
There is an ontological, non-historical explanation for binaries/analysis which is forthcoming.
Appendage of Scattered Notes/Ideas:
modern work doesn’t enable an excess of leisure, being of a particular class of efficiency that we can have leisure as a byproduct. No, it was during leisure time that modern work tasks were codified in the mind and then later put into practice that now have us all toiling in varying degrees.
analytics are not created/initiated in the brain. They are purities in the external world, like “blueness”, straight edges, create the idea of analytics. Comes from purities, from a lack of sensitization; but if we are just open to our senses…
violent slashings create an idea of objects and geometry that must have been somewhere available in the greeks. They must have been looking at the sky too much.