W o K     :     Ways of Knowing

An Interview

Interview #1 with Prof. Arthur Zajonc

Knowledge projects

{This is the first in a series of interviews I'll do with Arthur Zajonc, professor of physics at Amherst College. Note: for the sake of simplicity, in this interview Arthur and I occasionally restricted ourselves to some standard ways of talking and thinking, for instance about awareness and “experience,” which we will want to refine in later discussions.}

photo of Arthur Zajonc

Steven: Thanks for consenting to this interview, Arthur.

Arthur: I’m happy to do it.

Steven: Is there a particular point where you would like to start?

Arthur: I think we should start where you began in the first questions you suggested to me via e-mail.  You go right to the essentials ...

Steven: yeah, it's one of my character flaws ...

Arthur: (laughs) which is fine, we can start there and then move on.

Steven: fair enough.  So a main point for us in our past work together was that contemplative spirituality and related kinds of explorations at least arguably involve a kind of "knowledge". The way I put it in the first two questions I emailed you was as follows:


“0. The WoK site is about our Kira challenge, making direct (educated, refined) experience of core aspects of life be taken seriously as a way of knowing. I.e., can we show it to be a major complement to science, rather than merely a matter of "feeling," sensation, belief, attitude, etc.? Much depends on this, so we also need to convey the importance of what's at stake. So,

1. Given that we want to characterize contemplatively-based appreciation etc. as ways of knowing, how would you maintain that this characterization is at least reasonable, plausible? How would you discuss such appreciation and science together, to establish a point of connection? These are not two questions in sequence, but two aspects of the same question. If it’s shown that contemplation, for instance, counts as a way of knowing, then that is already part of the answer to the "bridge" question.”


Steven (interview cont.): at some point you coined the term knowledge project for that as a way of focusing the discussion.  This came up with particular force in a Salisbury College talk you gave around that same time (it was in a conference on “Education as Transformation” at Salisbury College, March 8, 2000), and we also subsequently based a joint paper on this talk [Science and Spirituality—Finding the Right Map]. In both the conference and our joint paper, you further focused the issue by suggesting that a lot of the problems people have here derive from the fact that they're thinking mostly about traditional religion, and hold certain notions about how that works.

Arthur: that’s right.

Steven: So the map you wanted to critique goes something like this: in one column, associated with religion, you suggested people would typically place belief. In the other, representing science and in contrast to religion, many people would place knowledge. So following that logic, they’d also link faith with religion, and reason with science. So it would be religion-belief-faith vs science-knowledge-reason”.

Arthur: yes, exactly.

Steven: Your point was that this was the wrong map, especially for understanding contemplative practice or other approaches to direct insight and their relation to both “knowledge” and science.

Arthur: yes.

Steven: so the question is whether there is something else, perhaps still concerned with things like ethics, for instance, and with learning authentic ways of being, that constitutes more of what people could consider a knowledge project, and therefore more of a complement to science.

Arthur: yes, the way we proceeded in our Kira summer schools was to say, okay, given that science is concerned with what we might call “natural knowledge” about the world around us, there are still other important domains of life, such as the aesthetic, and the domain of moral action, and also the contemplative and spiritual dimensions of our lives. What feature of these domains might make them also be part of a true knowledge project?  Should we put them on the other side of the divide, as trading in mere opinion or belief or convention, or is there some way in which they can also make some sort of knowledge claim?

I think the way we all approached this question in Kira programs was to move our center of gravity towards the world of experience.  We said well, if we understand knowledge as being rooted in many things, but certainly in experience, then we have to ask in what manner does experience figure in the aesthetic or moral or spiritual domains? How do those experiences distinguish themselves from the experiences of the empirical world given by the senses, and aided by the instrumentation of science?  And are the ways in which they differ so significantly that there is no knowledge possible?  Or should we extend our understanding of knowing to also, at least in some measure and on certain occasions, embrace these other domains?

I was arguing in the positive—that there was a way in which we could engage the aesthetic or the moral or the contemplative as an experiential domain open to inquiry.  And at the end of that inquiry—not the beginning but the end—I think one could come to forms of knowledge that we might call insight, and that were acquired through an apprehension … what is sometimes called, using Goethe's term “apercu”—a moment of apperception which has coherence and meaning, and should be considered to yield knowledge. 

{Steven: in later interviews, we’ll discuss the possibility that such apperceptions go beyond knowledge in the ordinary sense, but here we’re concentrating on the most modest claim.}

Arthur cont.: Now this relates back to one of the questions you sent me, where you asked whether this complementary territory, the domain of “inner experience,” was really a matter of feeling, sensation, belief, attitude and so on, or whether it might be something more?  At the beginning, I think you could say it need not be more.  It might very well remain a matter of mere feeling or sensation or belief and so forth.

Steven: yes.

Arthur: but the question is, is it open to the possibility of developing into a more careful, reflective engagement?  And that's where I think we can shift that domain of inner experience, which might typically be segregated out by some people as unreliable, and make it reliable.

Steven: right, that possibility is one of the central issues here.

Arthur: I’d say that once we allow for reflection, for intellectual or cognitive engagement with these domains, then our experiences can be refined to the point where they also can become bases for discernment, judgment, discrimination, and insight.  So the knowledge project, as it pertains to contemplative practice, is one of clarification. How does one nuance or clarify or make more lucid or literate, the consciousness which we bring to bear on these otherwise confusing or inchoate domains of human experience?  And I don't see that challenge as being so different from the one at the center of the science project.

Steven: right.

Arthur: early science was pretty confused about the natural world. It didn't have a clear idea of what was going on. If there hadn't been a basis for refinement and further discernment, which took hundreds of years to develop and apply, then the dawn of modern science in the 17th-century, and all the way through to the present, would never have occurred.

Steven: yes I think that's an important point. If someone thinks of science as just being rooted in some “certain sure” knowledge to begin with, and also that scientific views are themselves just straightforwardly “the case” like rainy weather or something we can notice at a glance, and that science just proceeds to grow from there, then I think science has been seriously misconstrued.

Arthur: right.

Steven: science starts with whatever you think you’ve got, but then it has methods and also—as Piet likes to stress—peer review processes, which themselves evolved over considerable amounts of time and which allow us to tighten things up, recasting views and frameworks as needed.  That seems to be a crucial shared feature with the disciplines we’re discussing.

{Steven: actually, the use of such methods and peer review in the contemplative arts, for instance, is itself a large subject which we also will address in future interviews and discussions.}

Arthur: the other thing that I think is a misconstrual is the notion that somehow knowledge is, as it were, out there, like in books or something like that.  As soon as we think of science, we think of textbooks and compendia of knowledge.  We thus end up objectifying knowledge, making it into an object, which is somehow external or independent of the human being, and therefore divorced from experience … divorced from the actual act of knowing. 

If you pick up a science book written in a language you don't understand, it’s pretty clear that while there may be ink on the page, there's no cognitive action present in our encounter.  So what's required is a human agency that has the capacity for knowing, and the key act is that “subjective” act. 

Steven: what people at least call “subjective” … we’ll want to critique a lot of those ordinary notions at some point.

Arthur: yes, a project for another time. At any rate, a crucial component is my coming to the experience of insight, at the hand of, perhaps, the natural world or experienced through a textbook, mediated through somebody else's experience and language etc., conveying it to me.  Building on my own experience, and the shared experience I have with this author, I can come to a scientific insight.  But again, the main thing is my moment of insight. 

And speaking as a physics teacher, you see this all the time, where students are reading the same words you are, or seeing the same equations, and just not “getting it”, not seeing into what is before them.  So they lack that cognitive moment, the aperçu.  One of the great problems that we confront, and one of the elements which acted as a barrier to the position the Kira Institute was advancing in our summer schools, was this objectification of knowledge. That and the distrust of the human subject—our own agency—in the whole cognitive enterprise.  Yet it's exactly the latter part which is at the heart of it all along the way.  Lose that and you have nothing, I would say.

Steven: yes, I agree.  Science is fundamentally dependent on direct insight.  And the latter is not just necessary as some sort of special facet which occasionally figures prominently but is usually superfluous.  It's always crucial.  I think people tend to discount this facet, quite wrongly.

Arthur: Or they will say, “yes we agree, you have to go out and measure things, codify what is out there in the natural world, in objective ways using instrumentation.”  But that's still not knowledge, that's just a pile of data which has absolutely no content aside from my engaging it, and putting it into a theoretical context.  I.e., my learning to understand the coherence and lawfulness that are implicit within that stream of data, is still needed.  So the human being is not just there as a kind of basic sensate organism, but as a true cognitive agency, as a being who theorizes, conceptualizes, etc. 

And then people might say that the barrier to accepting the contemplative arts is error, that we make mistakes.  But here I see a couple of points.  One is, you can write down with Isaac Newton, that force equals mass times acceleration.  That is a particular set of conceptual connections.  Then you can ask secondarily in how far does that relationship obtain in the natural world?  And up until Einstein, it was thought that it obtains completely, that it was a completely general law which is good in all contexts.  But we now know that it is not so-called Lorentz-invariant … we know that particular formulation doesn't always work. I.e., if you apply a constant force you don't eventually reach an infinite velocity. 

There's a major perspective change that needs to take place here, so it's not that the initial picture was in error, it's a perfectly good mathematical way of framing something.  The question is rather, does it connect to the particular way in which laws are operating in natural world?  We can refine and will continue to refine for eternity, those kinds of nuanced observations connecting theoretical content to the sense world.  Errors are not, as far as I can see, a problem.  The very fact that we can correct them means that we have some basis for judgment.

So to me, the fact that we may make errors means that we also have the possibility of becoming increasingly accurate about the ways in which we understand the world around us.  Now the same thing can happen in a contemplative domain.

Steven: yes, that’s how I see it too, although the way this is done, and what grounds it, need to be discussed at length in another interview. Here we’re just staying with the preliminary objections and apparent sticking points.

Arthur: Yes, and if we have a relatively primitive and relatively sparse number of investigators, and a primitive set of experiences in the interior domain, and we also have relatively few "inner scientists", then it's no wonder that a certain experientially-based approach might be at its relative beginnings. But I don't see any reason why we can't practice the same kind of discipline, clarification, developing reflective and nuanced understandings in those domains of experience, and ultimately come to true insights. Of course, we must apply modalities of conceptualization that are appropriate to this new domain.  We can’t presume that the natural science of our day has everything to say about everything that’s important, that it can completely codify what is going on in this other domain of experience.  The latter domain may need to be appreciated via its own concepts and frameworks.  So we need to be careful not to import our favorite theory from some other domain into this new domain.

Steven: of course one objection that people will raise here is that while it's certainly a domain of exploration, it's not a domain of lawfulness.  There are no constraints—nature isn’t rubbing against your viewpoints and opinions etc., enabling you to refine them into real knowing.  So it may seem too unconstrained, basically, to ever become comparable to science.

Arthur: yes.  That's an interesting point of view.

Steven: it's an assertion, I'm not saying it's a fact.

Arthur: it's an assertion, exactly.  And it should be taken seriously, but it will only be adjudicated by actually undertaking the work …

Steven: which is itself experiential, or insight-based! Precisely! I think that's the crucial point.  People assume that just by bringing up this objection, they have already made a clincher argument.  But it's really just the beginning of an investigative process, which can only be meaningfully conducted in the terms or on the level we’re describing. You can’t hold back from the latter exploration and still maintain that you’ve decided a priori what is or isn’t available there.

Arthur: right.  It's like saying it's hard to predict the weather.  Does that mean that the laws of physics, chemistry and atmospheric science don't obtain?  No, it's just wildly complicated.  But it doesn't mean that it violates the laws of science.

Steven: the fact that it’s complicated doesn’t mean it can’t still be rigorously studied, and your theories tested, in the context of those basic “laws,” which themselves might seem “simple”. I mention this partly as a point that obtains on the level of ordinary human experience.  It's not merely a theoretical point.  I think peoples’ life experience is quite anemic {see Steven's Snippet on this}.  And their relationships to life and to mind or experience in general are also rather disconnected. Because of those two problems, it seems likely or plausible to many people that there isn't really any kind of territory present there that could constrain observation and experimentation, that could refine the use of awareness as providing an entry into a way of knowing. It just seems consistent with their own experience that there is no adequate constraint there.  But this is just a way of saying that their experience is too limited, not that it’s sufficient to pass judgment or that their rather negative assessment must be right! Awareness, mind, the existential dimensions of existence need to be investigated more, and also more directly, not ignored in favor of studying something else, or using a more abstract methodology!

Arthur: yes, exactly, this is a fertile and needlessly unexplored area.  Of course it has been explored to some extent: people who make films, and advertisers who want to manipulate the human psyche, know that there are certain ways in which they can in fact manage such manipulations.  So there is a kind of psychological lawfulness which in a primitive sense has already been mapped out sufficiently to support a whole multi-billion dollar a year industry. This money is spent on working the human psyche over, with a precision we normally associate with technology. 

Sometimes we think, “OK the proof is in the pudding, we know that the laws of nature obtain because we have cars and televisions, but we can’t have anything comparable in the domain of our own interior, of our own psychology.”  But we actually already do have something along those lines, in a very limited sense anyway, in the psychological sciences behind advertising.  If you were to tally up the amount of money spent in the two areas, hard technology versus advertising psychology, it may well be comparable. 

Now there is another point which I think may also be involved in what we've been discussing … the outer world has been found to be lawful. Through natural science we have been uncovering what those regularities are and understanding them in terms of mechanisms or formal laws of relationships. So people might well expect that we may also eventually find the same kind of causal picture to apply within the domain of experience that we have been talking about—the contemplative and interior.  One question that might arise is, is there any place for freedom?  If we find that the life of the mind can indeed be studied in a way that’s adequately constrained by reality to allow for refinement, and that it even involves law-like phenomena, does that mean that we’re left not only with a kind of outer determinism, but also with an inner determinism?  Would this completely shut down the possibilities of free human action … and therefore in any real sense, of moral action?

Steven: well this is pretty much the assumption that lurks behind some scientific psychology as it stands.  Of course they grant that there is that inner space or inner dimension of experience, they just don’t think it gives us very much in certain respects. Some doubt that it’s efficacious at all, but that’s a topic for another discussion.

Arthur: yes. So as you say, they grant that there is that inner space, and that it can be mapped out. Some of the laws we have already discovered, many others are yet to be discovered.  But if we continue to extend scientific psychology in this way, at the end point must it have the character of a kind of Newtonian universe? Must we be seen as embodying a merely deterministic evolutionary program?  The notion that this is inevitable amounts to another assertion: that because mind can be seen as lawful in some sense, we are therefore completely constrained.  Freedom is then taken from us.  I would reject this kind of view.

Steven: yes, I actually think the “denial of freedom” picture is very understandable and reasonable under the circumstances of our existentially anemic condition. So I’d still handle it in the same way as the other point we were just discussing.  An absence of real freedom seems plausible to people precisely because they have such a limited connection to this domain of direct awareness and fully-lived life.  It seems to follow partly from the perspectives of science in its present form—what Piet would call the science of objects—it naturally seems quite likely. But that likelihood is further supported mostly by the fact that people are simply unfamiliar with this other territory.

Arthur: yes. And the piece I think is critical, and that we are forgetting due to this lack of familiarity, is what happens when or if we do gradually become more familiar with this interior dimension. Our contemplative awareness, for instance, can grow in its sophistication, discovering a richer and richer landscape. And one of the things at issue then is that we are meta-aware.  Not only are we having the experience of our own introspective thoughts and feelings, which may be quite complex and elaborate or relatively simple and transparent, whatever... but we are aware that we are aware.  We are reflective on those experiences, as they show up. 

Let's imagine that some of these experiences are like forces which drive the human psyche to one form of experience or another, and therefore to one kind of behavior or another.  If again we were to imagine this as a form of inner Newtonianism, then some of these forces would lead to particular kinds of action, speech and all the rest... and that would be an inner determinism.  But the very fact that we have the possibility of being aware of them holds out the possibility, at least, that we can neutralize them.

If we see an arrow coming, we at least have the possibility of ducking out of the way or catching it in the air.  And likewise with these inner factors, they may be powerful forces from childhood, or involve societal claims on our inner life and attention, but with certain kinds of practice and training, I think we can beef up our defenses so that we can neutralize those and create, at least, over certain small areas to begin with, and short periods of time, a space of freedom. We can actually be aware of what’s happening in our consciousness that is determinative of a particular type of conduct or speech.  So I hold out the possibility that while it may not always be present at the beginning, we still have the possibility of developing freedom.

Steven: Now the next question there of course is how far this goes, and in what way this notion of “extent” I’m appealing to can be applied.  Because for me, the real challenge is to argue that this meta-awareness or reflexive capacity, amounts to an awakeness that not only gives you an ability to counter or ameliorate the forces or tendencies on a certain level, but actually discovers that you're “in and of” the nature of a larger dimension than you appreciated to begin with.  So as you know, for many years now, I've been thinking about this whole business as being a matter of our being less vs more “fully dimensioned”. In our particular way of being at a given time, we can explicitly embody and enjoy a specific amount of the full dimensionality of our natures, and of reality.

Arthur: yes.

Steven: so we can either live in a collapsed way, or in a way that participates more explicitly in a kind of value- and significance-bearing dimension, which looks valueless when viewed with a less robust kind of appreciative capacity. Of course the meta-awareness factor you are pointing out, by itself, does not guarantee the presence of this extra dimensionality.

Arthur: right.  It's a precondition for noticing that...

Steven: extra dimensionality, if it is there, yes. A very important precondition.  But it’s up to us to then get the rest of that dimensionality into our self understanding … to embody it and live from it.

Arthur: yes. I think about it in two steps.  First you have the precondition, which clears the space.  It says all right, now you're free to act, and there's no external habitual bias or constraint from the outside determining that action.  So what does determine the action?  How do you act morally in a context where the traditional mores of the culture etc. are no longer entirely determinative?  You're not just doing what mom told you to do when you were little. So there you have to take another step, precisely the step that you described.  For me, if I use the traditional language, which I like in this case, it's the language of love.  The freedom by itself does not entail love.  One could be neutral in that space, an apathetic or almost nihilistic kind of space where there is no direction.  So you've broken loose, but you haven't connected to that deeper set of, as it were, hidden values... which are implicit, always present in that multidimensional world that you're talking about, but which we often have no relationship to.  And I think that within our own human capacity, what does bring us into relationship with those values is the cultivation of the capacity of love.

Steven: of course, this has to be understood in a way that is not just an outgrowth of evolutionary psychology—that would be going backward to the old, more collapsed picture.  Everything can always be reduced to that, if one is stubborn or attached to a collapsed way of being, but it’s not a very satisfying way to live or good basis for learning more.

Arthur: exactly.  So you have the biological bases of human relationships etc., regarding perpetuating the species, our sexual habits and relationships, as important as those are, it's not what were speaking about here.  You also have human affections that are based on blood relationships, which again are important in raising children and creating family units etc., and as important as those are, again they are not what we are discussing here.  So we are speaking about a much deeper, and I think more universal, kind of force, shall we say, spiritual force...

Steven: yeah, it's a binding force also.

Arthur: yes.  So this is something that needs cultivation.  On one hand, you could say love is potentially available in this way to human beings, but it doesn't necessarily show up.  One can be impoverished or obstructive in this respect.  Or one can practice it and strengthen that kind of relational awareness...

Steven: yes, just by being awake to it!  Which comes back to this “experiential’ emphasis which we just talked about. Of course, in other chats we can refine our choice of language, since it’s not really just “experience” that’s at issue.

Arthur: yes.

Steven: anyway, it's a funny kind of force because it's not a coercive force, it's a liberating force or forces, the modality and dynamics of freedom rather than part of the mechanics of determinism, compulsion or unconscious preference.

Arthur: yes.  Perhaps you recall that our colleague Bas van Fraassen quoted St. Augustine during one of our summer school sessions: "love, and do as you will".  I've been living with that for the last few years, and I think it's a deeply wise saying.  Doing what you will, based on something higher like love, that is the prerequisite of true and meaningful freedom.

Steven: yes.  But of course people really have to cultivate and refine this love, they can’t just stay with their initial sense of it, because that would be insufficient.

Arthur: right, you really have to go deep.  It's both a verb and a noun.  You have to deepen love, and then what you will do, will be infused by and a reflection of it.

Steven: so you get an emerging domain here, which is the domain of freedom, not a domain of forces and factors that play out in a mechanistic way.

Arthur: right, and I think people often think that there are only two cases: either you are free at the beginning or you are not—you’re never free … as opposed to seeing that freedom is something that you earn.  You achieve it.

Steven: or awaken to its availability. I would say that you were free at the beginning, but didn't initially appreciate that freedom and couldn't express it existentially.

Arthur: yes, in that case we are captured in a certain sense.  So the potential is there, right from the beginning.  It's an implicit possibility.  But the way we think, the way we are brought up, a whole host of biological factors, all act in a way to circumscribes that.  And the confidence I have in the human species is that while this circumscribed case may be the normal state of affairs, it is possible to be increasingly awake, by allowing the full domain of our experience, not just merely the “sensate” level, but the full domain of our experience... to be enriched, nuanced, made more subtle or refined. Our knowledge can be extended.  And so this knowledge project extends, not only into the natural world, but also into all aspects of our experience.  And the fuller and richer that experience is, the more nuanced it is, the more full our knowledge will be.

Steven: and perhaps the larger the picture we can have of how this relates to the domain of science etc., as well.

Arthur: yes.  Science, which of course is scientia, “knowledge”, if one allows the expansion of that term … this is almost a sociological or political choice, do we use the word “science” to mean only “natural science”, or is science a larger field?  And I would say we have the term natural science” or physical science” or “biological science”, and so there is also a “human science.”  What it means to be truly human, this can be fully appreciated in a way that has all the cognitive dimensions to it that the physical sciences have.  So in that sense the “human sciences” to me are valid.

Steven: of course this brings up a question that Piet is very interested in, which is the extent to which one needs to assume that there will always be a clear demarcation separating these two sorts of knowledge projects.  I personally don't need to get a complete unification, but his intuition is very strongly that there won't be two projects down the line.  There will just be one.

Arthur: well, my guess is it will be important to make certain distinctions, but not divisions.  In other words, if I think of the tools of conventional natural science, of physical science, if I think of the conceptual frameworks that are apropos of the physical sciences, they have a power and a sophistication which is congruent with the domain to which they are applied.  They're made for that domain.  Now if you just turn those same tools onto the human being, well then you will get the “physical human being,” nothing more.

Steven: yes you get the collapse that I was describing, which still includes a description, albeit flattened, of life, awareness and insight.

Arthur: yes you get the collapse.  And then the multidimensional stuff disappears, as you were saying.  You have then impoverished your world.  So each persons is going to have to be able to distinguish better, and say “oh okay, now I'm in a domain which has other dimensions to it, and I can't project them into this limited framework”.  Because they simply won't show up on the film there, so to speak.

Steven: but of course science itself could go beyond such frameworks.

Arthur: yes, it could go beyond them, so in that sense it will need to be able to distinguish which domain it's operating in a given case … which concepts are appropriate, which tools need to be brought to bear, etc.  Inasmuch as it does so, I think it can contribute a great deal.  Then you can ask “what about this final area that we were talking about?”  The domain of freedom, and the domain of moral action, based on the experience of a kind of love, not just an abstract understanding of love but the actual being...

Steven: the direct lived fact of it, yes.

Arthur: the fact of love, and the fact of our inhabiting that reality.  What is its relationship to science?  And here, I've been thinking quite a bit about the relationship between knowledge and love.  I think that the way we normally frame up knowing, began in objectification, knowing at a distance, basically... knowing remotely (laughs)... and truncates and makes a gap between the object and the subject.  And as a consequence, it’s love-less.  It's a kind of denial of that capacity for participation, intimacy, connection and so on.  And people do that for good reasons, because we don't trust our ability to be clear-minded, objective, in the sense of “fair-minded” or neutral.  But that's a bias.  There are ways that one can become empirically intimate, ways of staying “gentle” as one becomes close to the object of investigation.  My favorite person in this regard, as you know, Steven ... is Goethe, where he says that “every object well contemplated creates an organ of perception in us,” and that there is this “gentle empiricism which makes itself utterly identical with the object, thereby becoming true theory.” And especially that second quote, about a “gentle empiricism,” not a Baconian empiricism, but a gentle one, which makes itself identical with the object, as opposed to distancing …

Steven: it makes itself identical with what the object really is or even more properly, is eventually found to be, rather than with what it seems to be in a more impoverished framework or disconnected stance.

Arthur: exactly.  Which requires the cultivation of new capacities in us, because if we just stay the way we normally are, we will only see it as this or that conventional item, as circumscribed by the ideas of the society.

Steven: in that case, an identification with it would be rather dumb.

Arthur: yes.  But instead, we can attain “true theory” in the sense of truly seeing it, in the sense of the root meaning of the word “theory.”  So I think what Goethe is doing, and this is connected to the contemplative tradition as well, is trying to practice a science or modality of knowing that is experiential, and that cultivates in us a deeper level of experience.  This is the object as “true theory,” now seen truly, which is only possible through an intimacy I think of as the kind required for the love relationship we were talking about before.

Steven: yes.  Now of course a full account would include recognition of a very different, richer reality underpinning that.

Arthur: yes. It has that extra dimensionality you were talking about.  It's not predicated on fear, or on distancing and separation, it's actually the obverse, it's about connection and respect for the object that's there, intimacy, participation, and transformation of the individual.  So we can actually gain insight.  And then that insight is born out of intimacy and expressive of the love relationships.  So the value relationships which normally get pulled out or stripped out of the whole knowledge project, now they're actually implicit there!  And you can build on that perspective.

Steven: the values or value dimension is explicit then, and central.

Arthur: yeah.  That's an essential piece, because the other form of knowing is one which neuters or strips out the value dimension, as you’ve said.  And we still have the object in front of us then, okay... but it has no significance for us, so to speak.  The moral and other dimensions have been stripped away.  So when we are asking in what manner is this final stage of freedom and moral action at the hand of love connected to science … well, if we allow for a science that includes this kind of intimacy and participation, maybe a profound connection could indeed emerge.  Right now, the way science is framed, I don't see that possibility.

Steven: sure.  Nor should it be inserted there arbitrarily.  We—and science—have to get there in a proper, grounded way. Perhaps I can persuade you to make that “grounding” issue the subject of another one of our interviews?

Arthur: Certainly, I’d love to.

Arthur and Steven, 4/25/06.

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