Intellectualism - The Fool's Gold

Fool's Gold

Fool's Gold was the term used to describe Iron Pyrite. When people went prospecting for gold, as this mineral had a similar colour and sparkle to gold it was common to think they had found gold when really it was something that was far less valuable.


For the purposes of this post it paints an appropriate picture. Someone thinks they have found something of extreme value, something so valuable that it will fundamentally change the course of their life. There is excitement at the prospect of this discovery, maybe even more effort is placed into searching the same area expecting to find more.

This person having found their "valuable" material only realises that it is relatively worthless when he tries to use it or take it to the bank. I feel this is a great analogy for human intellect, and we are living at a time in history when we are trying to use it or bank it, and very soon realising that its value is no where near as high as we originally thought it was.


Intellect Can Never Decide

You may feel a strong resistance to the idea that intellectual pursuits bring us little value, you look at the world around us with all of the great technologies that help us in our daily lives. Initially I also was in this camp, but if you look a little closer you will see it staring you right in the face.


The intellect is great at analysing, it can also help us to solve problems, but you will soon realise it can never make decisions. It plays a game with us where it retrospectively justifies the decision that has been made and in so doing assumes the position of the decision-maker. This sneakiness is what confuses so many people, they are confused that it is their intellect that is making the decisions.


This always reminds me of a scene from the second Matrix where Neo meets with the Oracle. She explains to him that his decisions are already made, he just has to understand why he has made them. It is a powerful scene and one which, back then, really got me thinking. In this scene Neo and the Oracle are seeing him as his intellect. Correct, the decisions are made, the why is what the intellect is grappling with.


Something which is not addressed in that part of the film is, if the decisions are made then what or who made the decisions. Once we become aware that there is a part of us that is making decisions, it is far more valuable to discover the source of the decisions rather than the reasons why. Like an earthquake, the decision making is the initial shock, the reasons why are the aftershocks.


Let's say we have a choice to go to the beach or to stay at home. I could make you a list of sound reasons why I should go to the beach and sound reasons why I shouldn't go to the beach. Each list would be perfectly coherent, perfectly logical. If we put the two lists together, what then makes us decide to go to the beach or not? We think we have reasoned what to do, but this is not the case, we made a decision and the reasons are then brought forward to justify the position, sneaky sneaky!


Technology Is Only As Good As Its User

We may argue that the intellect is great because it has provided us with a host of technologies which have improved lives, and even saved lives. I could also list a plethora of technologies, in some cases the same technologies, that have caused untold pain and suffering. What we very soon realise is that technology is only as good as it user or the person that is using it.

What decides how "good" the user of technology is has little or nothing to do with their intellectual ability. As we have said before the intellect has the ability to justify an action either way. The thing which decides which action is taken is something other.


The Fallacy of Logic

As we delve deeper into the subject was start to realise that probably some of the most terrible events in human history were perfectly justified by the individuals that performed them to themselves. We think that a certain decisions is logical, but we can very quickly realise if we are willing to consider the opposing viewpoint of the argument, it too most likely appears perfectly logical. How many arguments in relationships reach a standstill because both people feel that they are right and are unwilling to accept the other's position.


In many instances when we think one argument was more logical than the other it is actually that the one proponent of the argument was more forceful or more coherent in their delivery of the argument and not necessarily that the one was more logical than the other.

Logic is highly limited in terms of innovation and in many cases a lot of scientific theories and discoveries were not based on a logical process, but more on visions, dreams or chance events. There are countless examples of these, if you want proof you only need to do a quick google search.


Death By Specialisation

So, we observe the world around us becoming more and more specialised. Due to the nature of the intellect which cuts, divides and categorises the world, society has become the manifestation of this. Just over 100 years ago anyone studying science was called a "Natural Philosopher". Their study covered every aspect of science aswell as philosophy. They were rounded individuals who needed to know something about everything in order to see the interconnectedness of life.


Nowadays if you put a theoretical physicist in a room with an astrophysicist they would most likely be unable to have a conversation with each other. They are so specialised in each of their fields respectively that they can no longer see the whole. To live a healthy and balanced life, it cannot be lived as a specialised part, it can only be lived as a whole. As I write in my book, life can never be an intellectual process, it must be a lived experience. The intellectual process is the rationalisation of that experience.


We are surrounded by experts each having their own specific opinion on a specific aspect of our lives. We must be able to integrate all these views, each one as a part of our whole. Only when a hole view can we then make informed decisions.


I am not saying that there is no value in intellect, but we must be able to see it as a tool and in so doing use it for what it is meant for. It has a slot in the whole, but generally in the modern world it is being used in every aspect of life and society and this is why it is causing problems. If you tried to make an item of clothing with a knife instead of a sewing needle, you would soon discover that it is not possible. The sewing needle is made for the job, whereas the knife is not.


Follow The White Rabbit

So here is a thought, an exercise if you will, what if you lived live without making decisions using the intellect. Your intellect will always be there to help you rationalise the decisions and help you to learn. What if every time you have a feeling you want to do something, you did it. You follow this feeling and see where it takes you.


This is what I started doing some years ago, and it seemed completely illogical to begin with. I decided to follow it as an experiment and the results have been amazing. Initially I did question myself, but after a while I realised that things were working out for me as if by magic. With each new positive outcome, the intellect starts to become less resistant, it does not know why but it cannot deny the results.


Sticking with the theme of the Matrix, I call this process "following the white rabbit". In the movie Neo receives a message to follow the white rabbit on his computer. Soon after a woman appears at the door of his flat with the tattoo of a white rabbit on her arm. He doesn't know why he is meant to follow but he decides to go along with it and from that unfolds the rest of the story.


Why don't you try following your white rabbit and see where it takes you...


#AncientWisdomTalks #philosophy

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