Saturday, September 8, 2012

Temperamental Consciousness

The history of philosophy is to a great extent that of a certain clash of human temperaments. Undignified as such a treatment may seem to some of my colleagues, I shall have to take account of this clash and explain a good many of the divergences of philosophies by it.

Of whatever temperament a professional philosopher is, he tries when philosophizing to sink the fact of his temperament. Temperament is not conventionally recognized reason, so he urges impersonal reasons only for his conclusions.

Yet his temperament really gives him stronger bias than any of his more strictly objective premises. It loads the evidence for him one way or another, making for a more sentimental or a more hard-hearted view of the universe, just as this fact or that principle would. He trusts his temperament.

Wanting a universe that suits it, he believes in any representation of the universe that does suit it. He feels men of opposite temper to be out of key with the world’s character and in his heart considers them incompetent and ‘not in It,’ in the philosophical business, even though they may far excel him in dialectical ability.

William James in his 1906 essay, The Present Dilemma of Philosophy, is explaining how philosophers as well as all humans expand their belief structure using their personal temperament. Our mental, physical and emotional traits define our unique humanity. Temperament is a quality of consciousness that is firmly rooted in beliefs.

A philosopher’s job is to open the door of awareness so people can align their temperament with other humans. Once a belief structure is aligned with similar belief structures a chain reaction is set in motion, and collective experiences unfold. But, each individual experience is different in that collective whole.

Religion, politics and other beliefs are constantly shifting and changing as the boundaries of our beliefs expand. A plethora of influences impact our individual temperamental structure. We use those associations to confirm our convictions. We then defend those convictions using our own perception of pertinent data.

Unconfirmed data also affects our collective temperament. Integration through acceptance changes our temperament. Rather that disputing or disclaiming conflicting political or religious philosophical issues we have the ability to sense an innate presence within us that blends different philosophies in a vat of cajoling perceptions. The integration process gives us the opportunity to accept individual beliefs even when we disagree with them. Our diverse collective consciousness is mixed together in this form of mental energy, and the result is a dualistic agreement to agree to disagree with respect and appreciation. Acceptance through integration is the chisel that craves a path so individual consciousness can accept and appreciate the mental juices that overflow in our temperamental dialectal mixture.

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