Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Primary thinking process (definition)

Primary thinking process is what 80 to 90% of our mind is busy with, and of which we are only marginally aware  through dreams, Freudian slips, moods, insights, intuition, etc. Mental processes there are ideational, i.e., image-based, rather than what we commonly call logical or word-based. It is the playground of eternal myths and archetypes, where time and space conflate and the logic and common sense we earn through education do not apply.

This fundamental difference with the reality we are used to causes a lot of confusion among social scientists. Both Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown in the 1930s famously misunderstood Freudian psychology as being all about sexual urges. After the war, Victor Turner in his Forest of Symbols famously called the psychological "Medusa's cave", probably because social theory has no relevance to it whatsoever and thus effectively renders social scientists helpless/useless when dealing with human psychology. That's probably the main reason why, say, Rabinow was extra-careful to specify that he would by no means deal with anything even remotely psychological in his Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco. This attitude makes anthropology, the science of the human, peculiarly devoid of the human. I blame it on Durkheim who was doggedly insistent on separating "social facts" from "sociological facts" to boost the position of sociology in the late 19th-century France.

One of the possible ways to bridge the primary thinking process with the secondary, rational one are kōans.

See also: how to marry social sciences and psychology 

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