Animaterialist Thinking

Animaterialist Thinking

Coal Barges, by Van Gogh

When we think of thinking in our technological age, we think of the brain. But is the brain the only part of the body that thinks? I don’t think so. Thinking is performed with the entire body acting as a Gestalt. It is our Western tendency to view the body in fragmented terms. This is because we project our fragmented nature onto everything, including our own bodies. Because scientists have found the brain to be a computer, we believe it is the location of all thinking in the human body.

What is thinking? It depends on what mode of consciousness the question refers to. The World Soul reveals itself in various ways, according to whatever mode of unfolding is needed at a particular time. The two predominant modes of thinking are 1) the strictly rational, discursive type of thinking; and 2) the intuitive, immediate, and imaginal type of thinking.

Strictly rational thinking most likely involves the brain, since it really is a computer. Rational thinking is, of course, the most predominant type of thinking in Western society. It objectifies and attempts to dominate all things. It believes that all things are within its purview and under its control. This is because it is driven by an overinflated Ego. A mind ruled by analytical ratiocination is always in danger of becoming a mind that desires more power and more control over Nature, which includes the minds of others. I daresay that extreme attempts at ratiocination is at the root of all totalitarian ideology. That being said, rational thinking also is beneficial if used at the appropriate time.

Intuitive thinking is something we in the West are sorely lacking and are much in need of. I believe the entire body is capable of this mode of thought. This is what is romantically known as “thought of the heart.” In our tendency to focus on separate parts of things, we immediately think of “heart” as the organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies. I think “heart” refers to the core of our Being, that which makes us human. According to Henry Corbin, writing of Ibn Arabi’s teachings,

This power of the heart is what is specifically designated by the word himma, a word whose content is best suggested by the Greek word, enthymesis, which signifies the act of meditating, conceiving, imagining, projecting, ardently desiring–in other words, of having (something) present in the thymos, which is vital force, soul, heart, intention, thought, desire…(Henry Corbin, qtd. in The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, by James Hillman, p. 5).

It is this power of the heart, this intuitive thinking, that is in reverential awe of Nature, and is in touch with spirituality and mysticism. It is this mode of thought that brings forth wondrous symphonies, poetry, art, and literature that deepens our awareness of Soul; and it is this mode of thought that will save our world.

Souls think because Souls are bodies and bodies are Souls. Soul is not located in any separate part of the body, as Descartes believed (the pineal gland). Soul and body are one undifferentiated mode of Being.

We need to restore this animaterialist mode of thinking. Our world is in dire need of it. James Hillman wrote,

…philosophy begins in a philos arising in the heart of our blood, together with the lion, the wound, and the rose. If we would recover the imaginal we must first recover its organ, the heart, and its kind of philosophy The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, by James Hillman, p. 6).

Let us develop this mode of thinking in ourselves. The more of us that do so, the better chance our world has of surviving.

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