Friday, December 08, 2006

The Rhythm of Thinking

Under the heading "Thought tends to personal form" William James offers the following insight (from Principles of Psychology: Chapter IX, The Stream of Thought):

The universal conscious fact is not "feelings and thoughts exist," but "I think" and "I feel." No psychology, at any rate, can question the existence of personal selves. The worst a psychology can do is so to interpret the nature of these selves as to rob them of their worth.

By personal selves, James means "organized selves with a memory, habits, and sense of their own identity" To Dylan Trigg's question, Does the cogito remember?, I would add, "Is the cogito a creature of habit?" This seems to have been my obsession lately, but it's not bringing me any closer to understanding the connection between frequency and thinking.

Another tack then: Does the cogito have rhythm? More simply there's the question of whether the cogito has a pulse. But I don't think it's that simple. I don't have reason to believe that thinking is any less complex than elementary forms of musicality. If I say the cogito has rhythm, I mean that it has an on again, off again relation to pulse, that it builds on pulse. And the pulse is what? The cycle of day and night, the beat of the heart, the pulsative function of the unconscious, repetition.... Any experienced duration becomes rhythmicized by the cogito, including, perhaps primarily, its own durations.

Can we separate the experiential from what thought accomplishes on its own, or is this question of how exactly thinking recurs necessarily a question of the experience of thinking?

Am I afraid of thinking? Afraid to allow for what its recurrence might mean? What would it be like to have a completely tychistic personality? Or to be a person completely open to the event of thinking at each and every moment? I have a sense of myself as sensible, as a person who sleeps at night and during the day thinks about things now and then. I also have memories of thinking as lucubration, as manic, intense and incessant. If thought could go on without a person attached to it, would it ever want to rest? Would it be afraid to? These are questions of personality.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 8:40 PM.


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