I’ve been reading Quantum Psychology by Robert Anton Wilson as part of a book club. We’ve moved on to part two, Speaking About the Unspeakable. I found myself still wrapping an argument around a point of certainty which, in retrospect, seemed contrived. Sometimes, I feel like I’m going around in circles. So, this is a review of part one; How Do We Know What We Know, If We Know Anything?
Robert Anton Wilson starts with the observation that all presumed knowledge and experience starts with observation. There may be a “Deep Reality” that exists beyond observation, but it is unknowable. And so any claim of objectivity is suspect. After all, an electron can be observed to have the properties of a wave, and separately observed to behave as a particle. Similarly, a therapist will get different perspectives of the same events when working with a couple. Both versions may be true. Or, they may be false.
RAW uses the “scatter method of Sufi mystics”, using many examples to illustrate a point. There’s lots of finger pointing, but the message is to observe the moon. However, it feels like we’re covering the same ground again and again with the only conclusion being this applies here too.
I’m currently in a state of “so what?” Life is ambiguous in ways that are cumbersome to explicitly put into casual conversation. However, we often misinterpret the simplified version as absolute truth. The map is not the territory, and we do need reminding of this. Repeatedly. So, I’m sticking around for some more reminders. Perhaps it will cause another shift in perspective.
So, now what? What do I need to engage with to make these ongoing discussion more fruitful? Remember:
- Certainty is illusory, and there’s always a perspective.
- Consider if statements are meaningless (or purely subjective), and check for indeterminacy.
- Couch statement as sumbunall (some but not all), or a probability. (Probability is hard)
- Try and state the situation operationally:
e.g. “My boss is a male chauvinist drunk, and this is making me sick.” Could be framed as:
I perceive my boss as a male chauvinist drunk, and right now I do not (or will not) perceive or remember anything else about him, and framing my experience this way, ignoring other factors, makes me feel unwell.
I’m looking forward to the chapter on E-Prime. I’ve also been enjoying how Charles Eisenstein talks about stories as abstraction, but I might need to think a bit more to be able to tease out those deconstructions.