Thinking on Intellect?

Is intellect its own bias? Whatever happened to experience?

Think before you read…

“The constant streaming-in of the thoughts of others must confine and suppress your own; and indeed in the long run paralyze the power of thought… The inclination of most scholars is a kind of vacuum suction, from the poverty of their own minds, which forcibly draws in the thoughts of others.. It is dangerous to read about a subject before we have thought about it first ourselves.. When we read, another person thinks for us; we merely repeat his mental process…so it comes about that is anyone spends almost whole day in reading, he gradually loses the capacity for thinking…

“Experience of the world may be looked upon as a kind of text, to which reflection and knowledge form the commentary. Where there is a great deal of reflection and intellectual knowledge and a very little experience, the result is like those books which have on each page two lines of text to forty lines of commentary.”—Arthur Schopenhauer

How you want to end your life, broken down, busted, and used up, or writing and reading someone else’s adventure and lacing it with opinion also gleaned from other opinion?

“The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short”—Arthur Schopenhauer,


Author: jimoeba

Alternatives to big box religions and dogmas

35 thoughts on “Thinking on Intellect?”

  1. Hey, Jim,
    Opening a new worm of cans can be dangerous too, but yet we do it everyday. Writing what you did forces us to read what you wrote, thus influencing us in favour of your line of reasoning.
    On many levels in our modern world, we can only gain knowledge through reading. There is too much information in the world, so much information on the internet, that we have to read first to learn about it in order to even be able to think about it. Can we think of Covid-19 viruses without reading about them first, or at least hearing about them on the news, which is equivalent to reading about them. And, of course, everything we do hear or read is biased by the reporter. Who can we trust to tell us there is something to think about?
    Two of the hardest blog posts I wrote some time ago were about teaching, and how we need to learn to inform without teaching. But humans love to teach, because we know we have some piece of knowledge or information nobody else has, and we want to inform others about it. We all want to be teachers. Yet teaching is a very dangerous proposition, because, really, all we can ever have is opinions. Whether our own opinions, or opinions we learned from someone else, most of what we know comes from teachers, and teachers themselves cannot be trusted.
    So, when you say think first, then read, that is often impossible. I read today that chromosone researchers believe 16 million men in the world today have a y-chromosone which comes from Genghis Khan. How can we believe such a piece of information? We certainly cannot think about it unless we read it somewhere. But at the same time, how can we not believe it? It is science, after all. And here I am spreading the scientific opinion on to you as if it is fact. Can I be trusted? Can the person who wrote the article I read be trusted? Who knows? He or she could just as easily be passing on a piece of fiction, and I bought the pig in the poke because it was so nicely poke-aged.
    All this is to say, I agree with you, experience is the best teacher. It is the one thing we know we can trust, our own experience. But we are the only ones who can trust it. No one else can absolutely trust us.
    Yet we must communicate, or we may as well be dead.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I would say intellect without practical sense is as dangerous (or useless) as religious belief without intellect. Forming opinions about farming and hunting practices for instance, by people who merely eat food and read about the two, create disastrous policies about both. Certainly book learning can be useful, but more often than not it leads to more book learning and future books about books.
      It’s the current model and you can see the results.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I get that you quote mined Schopenhauer for your own purposes and adding some of your own thoughts on the issue, but if you read the whole essay his point isn’t think before you read, but rather make sure you think AFTER you read.

        From the same essay:

        “it is only by reflection that one can assimilate what one has read if one reads straight ahead without pondering over it later, what has been read does not take root, but is for the most part lost”

        His other major point is that one shouldn’t waste time reading the latest popular books that will be forgotten tomorrow, but rather spend one’s time readings the best books, the classics.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I would prefer to be asked a question and given some time to work it out before delving in to the maze of opinion and concreted beliefs.
          True he answered his own premise, but if I offer answers no one cares anyway.
          Giving someone something to think about and then providing the accepted schools of thought is what we have today.
          It’s a proselytizing tactic as well. You know you are a sinner and fallen? Here’s the solution—but if given time to analyze the accusation one can easily determine it just isn’t possible unless you stop short of full reason.


  2. Well, this is confusing. Yeah, much of what one reads is a lie, misinformation, bullshit meant to control you. So, I’d say be careful what you read, and don’t believe everything you read, but read, read, read. One of the problems in school is that we are taught to read, but we are not taught to be skeptical about what we read. What’s the source? What’s the agenda, if any? Is it biased? Etc. We are taught, in school, to believe pretty much everything we read because…well, shit, we’re gonna have a test on the text book next week and we’d better know these “facts.” Did Columbus discover America? Were we taught to question this, or just pass the test?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. bullshit meant to control you”. Even on a personal or familial level the tendency is to try to convince or deceive the other into seeing things the way they see them. But all along there are millions of people doing it differently and doing just fine.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, that’s one of the amazing things about people: we can learn by reading. But it’s a false dichotomy to think either practical or theoretical activates real learning, or learning ‘of a different’ kind’. That’s why the two are combined: in education terms, learning means demonstrating. The former has to precede the latter, doesn’t it? Just because the learning is from reading or observing or listening doesn’t matter: that’s just the form. So it’s not the form (in this case, reading) that might be a problem; it’s after we leave the structured learning environment that we often leave this ‘demonstration’ part of learning behind.

    A practical solution to this is to ‘teach’ what we think we’ve learned to someone else; teaching at this stage – it can go by various names like explaining or writing or opining or conversing or whatever – is an excellent way to see if we’ve really learned what we think we have. If we stumble or have some lack of clarity, it’s an indication our learning has a ways to go. So if you think of this ‘teaching’ as an interactive process rather than an end point, with only one person talking and the other person listening, then the value to be had from interactions – the questioning, the humor, the disagreements, the criticisms, and so on – increases greatly and, hopefully, for both parties.

    Reading – and the comprehension we can gain from it – is just one tool but a vital one (as anyone trying to assemble a purchased product will attest)!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. whether you think your own thoughts or you think somebody else’s thoughts, they are STILL thoughts! it’s like the sky preferring one type of cloud over another. makes no difference. the purpose is to find existence beyond thought.

    all thoughts lead to more thoughts- there is no end to that cycle. yes, intellect covers a lot of ground, and gives you ‘badges’ of knowledge, and you will know things about things and ideas about concepts, but what does that teach you about your self? a man without knowledge of himself is a deep well without water. useless!

    but don’t worry so much about thoughts and ideas. if you want to be completely ‘un-biased’, you need to go to the beginning of the universe. all else is a result of that. even having no belief is a result of circumstance. at any moment, are you not the totality of what is?? what knowledge do you need to just Be? will you find that in a book?? the tree is a better teacher 🌳

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If one knows anything about one’s self it is that I and Me and You are not objects in the linguistic sense – a convenience only – of a noun representing the snapshot of now already passing but a process, a verb, an action, that is always becoming something else, something more, something other than what was, of what is. No thought is an absence of something essential to knowing this verb.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. not bad!

        in relation to the changing life, our real Self is never changing, never moving, not born or dying. it is a state (in us) of merely observing, but never gets involved. often it is called the “Witness”.

        it is a state of pure awareness that is there when we are awake during daytime, when we are dreaming at night, and when we are in deep sleep. it is the only Permanent, Unchanging state of being.

        all experience is seen in the light of awareness, and while everything about our ‘persona’ is continuously changing, the awareness in which that change is observed always remains the same.

        this pure awareness is our true nature, but it remains hidden because it is always coloured (or contaminated) by our thoughts, emotions, perceptions and sensations, etc. basically by our experience. so, we wrongly identify ourselves with the thoughts, emotions, sensations, memories, all of which completely disintegrate at death.

        the purpose of any transcendental practice is to allow this primordial state of pure awareness reveal itself. 💙💙💙 Be aware of awareness! 💙💙💙

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Just because the learning is from reading or observing or listening doesn’t matter: that’s just the form” I disagree. A useful experience is more valuable and applies in sensible ways.
    Is t it worth the time to form you own chain of thoughts prior to reading what the experts have to say? I mostly agree with the quote in the post and I’ll tell you why.
    For a few years I refused to read anything at all about atheism. I stayed away from YouTube and formed my own thought experiment. Apologists we’re claiming I was a Dawkins or Sam Harris disciple—I had never read them. I didn’t even know who they were.
    Isn’t it possible that one can surpass the opinions of the experts that have created the mess we have in politics and religion? The beginners mind can be an amazing thing.


    1. So, here’s the thing: I have said (because it’s true!) that we can only get out of something what we have already put into it. In other words, if you come at some art or craft and know very little about it, you will come away with very little. This is the danger I see with your model.

      I was listening to Iain McGilchrist (neuroscientist) talk about attention, which he defines as attending, and how it is very much a left hemisphere thing. This is important in that the left hemisphere is the ‘doer’, so to speak, the hemisphere that is the worker bee attending to fundamental needs (which is why we have ‘dominant’ handedness). It’s really important – in order to eat but not be eaten – that critters have this portion of brain and it’s true over the past 700 million years that critter HAVE bifurcated brains (different and quite distinct in both function and form) hemispheres). It is the right hemisphere that attends to larger notions, more global concerns. McGilchrist defines these two as a kind of Master and Emissary and it’s all quite fascinating.


      He said, “The qualities of the world are determined by the quality of the attention you bring to it.”

      What you’re suggesting is very much a left hemisphere kind of attention and so it will produce a very much left hemisphere kind of understanding. But things like value and morality and meaning are very much a right hemisphere kind of thing.

      Now this is where run into a problem when it comes to knowledge because there are two levels to understanding; the first is the immediate, binary, surface kind of knowledge that maps one to one with the correctly identifying and understanding things of the world (in my simplistic brain I call this knowing about the nouns of the world); the second is the developed pattern, complex and nuanced, root kind of knowledge that maps relationships and connections between things that are in processes of change, that are affected by change (again, for my convenience I call this knowing about the verbs of the world).

      If we want to learn about stuff and gain meaning, value, and some kind of longitudinal role to enrich our knowledge (and appreciation) of the world, then I think both kinds are needed (the whole brain approach) but in their proper role – from gaining knowledge about the individual base units of what constitutes things to knowledge about how these local units follow local rules to create (or produce) sophisticated and complex emergent properties (like consciousness)..

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hmmm, ponder that I must.
    And, what of this, “What’s the point of being intelligent if nobody understands you?”


    “I thought that I heard you laughing
    I thought that I heard you sing
    I think I thought I saw you try
    But that was just a dream
    That was just a dream” (R.E.M.) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Think before you read. Precisely. Hence the reason men don’t read instruction manuals or ask for directions. We prefer to do our own thinking, thank you very much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve heard preachers use the instruction manual analogy—that all the answers© are in a certain book.
      You touch on a good point though. I remember learning my way around multiple cities prior to gps, now gradually learned to depend on it and can’t retain the memory for finding our way around like I used to.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m tempted to ask: if all the answers can be found within a certain book, then what need is there for preachers?

        As for navigation, has anyone else noticed that Google Maps has started talking in tongues after the last update after the last update?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s interesting about all the answers within a certain book so what need for preachers not just because it’s exactly right. It’s interesting because I heard exactly the same argument made by Jordan Peterson interviewing Grace Church’s math teacher Paul Rossi who refused to indoctrinate his students with the most recent equity, inclusion, and diversity Critical Race Theory (CRT) program and so was suspended and told to recant or he would be fired. Rossi went public and then resigned. But before taking this public stance, he captured audio with his head of school agreeing that the CRT’s program’s real intention was to vilify whites along the lines of inheriting original sin, a stain never to be removed but cause to continue ‘doing the work’. When Rossi produced the chart on Peterson’s podcast that he was expected to teach of racial power hierarchy, and the counter-arguments in the pictoral form of ‘bricks’ needed to support racial genocide at the top of the pyramid chart, Peterson said it closes the CRT’s circle argument so that any counter points or criticisms of Critical Race Theory at all in any way for any reason was evidence for ‘systemic’ racism and the raiser of such points dismissed as racists. He then said if one teaches to the chart, what need is there for teachers?

          So your comment about preachers really means anyone teaching to a closed circle of religious belief even if it is called something as innocuous as anti-racism. It’s still a pernicious ideological religious belief in all but name.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. You’re in line with Plato who disparaged the written word in that it was–as opposed to oratory–lifeless. For Plato, the printed word was a dead thing and should never be ranked over the active “living” spoken word. A man walks up to you and “speaks his mind,” as they say. You can agree or refute what he says. His spoken thoughts do not “confine and suppress” your thoughts, but rather his remarks may generate thoughts in your mind, which you voice accordingly. You debate an issue. And if others are present, they can chime in.

    One of the reasons the Christian church has been so successful over the centuries is that it allowed (and still does) only one voice. Indeed, for centuries that one voice was in a language most folk couldn’t understand. Now that’s mind control!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. IIRC, I think Plato was for strengthening memory and thought writing lessened the need for such exercise. Socrates, in contrast, couldn’t question the written word and so didn’t think it was much of a way to learn (Phaedrus?). I don’t agree with either, but hey, I’m not nearly as big brained as these old dead white guys. Deduction can only take one so far and that presumes the premises are accurate. For that arbitration, one needs an axiomatic system and the real world is not axiomatic! Hence, both fellers got a LOT wrong (but gave legs to metaphysical thinking that the Church absorbed and then used – and continues to use – in its entirety; in that way, such theology becomes a word game).

      Liked by 2 people

    2. One problem with reading is what you are reading is a past example of who the writer was at the time of writing. Most likely the writer has changed since then, and might even disagree with alot of what he or she wrote. I am talking non-fiction here.
      I can go back in my own writing and ask myself, What the hell was I thinking when I wrote that? But at the time I wrote it, that was the me that was. But someone reading only that piece will think I am still that person. They have no reason to believe I moved on, especially if I have not not written anything else along that same line of thought.
      Words, once written, are set in stone. Meanwhile, we are not set in stone, we are always changing. But few people think about that: I wonder who that writer is today?


    1. If you think about it another way, consider there are very few private thoughts at all. This is how the philologist knows when you lived and where. To be an independent thinker one would have to separate, detox from the system for a while to see more bias free.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All thoughts are private… until expressed in some way. You must mean this in a different way. If you mean thought free of all influence, then I don’t think there is a way. You seem to presume that any influence is therefore a bias, a prejudice, and I don’t see this connection because language itself (that expressed thought) must be shared to be a language. And that means a common influence. I think you’ve boxed yourself into a corner here.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You might think I’ve boxed myself into a corner, but you also seem to be admitting that you can’t escape it doing it your way. You certainly are a fan of intellect and even believe one can use a different part of their brain to think. It doesn’t matter which is “correct” but if everyone were to think exactly like any one-way, this would be an awful existence of piety.
          The most productive alternative would be to remove yourself from all influence for a time and see what happens. I think you might be surprised. No talking, no gadgets. What a novel idea. How else could you break the cycle?


          1. Again, the presumption is that you can avoid influence. You can’t. Even if your mind was completely locked away, your biology would be an influence. You would be influenced by biology’s physiology, including digestion and metabolism, your brain’s energy source, including blood composition influenced by minerals and vitamins and sugars and oxygen, your electrical field influenced by thought itself within whatever environment your brain encounters, and so on. We are influenced every second of every minute by a wide assortment of influences before we even get to talking and the use of gadgets. Even the way one thinks influences the brain neurology and chemistry itself and we can think in a variety of ways, creating plasticity and paring.

            So to assume as you do that influence equals bias is the boxing I am talking about: you’ve boxed yourself by a series of faulty premises using presumption and assumption and definition to form an explanatory model that is entirely imagined and not related in any way to what’s real.


            1. you’ve boxed yourself by a series of faulty premises using presumption and assumption and definition to form an explanatory model that is entirely imagined and not related in any way to what’s real.” This actually sounds like you following a prescription.
              Somewhere there is some phoneless fool sitting by a waterfall not knowing how afraid he is supposed to be…
              What’s amazing is I have examples if you’ll allow me. I was reading a man raised in the Toltec shaman traditions, Don Ruiz, who is also medical doctor and surgeon. It was amazing how similar his ancestral philosophies are so similar to Socrates as well as more recent philosophies. The Native American medicine wheel is also interchangeable with these traditions. The question is, how did they arrive at the same conclusions about human nature and personal transformation?
              Have you ever spent enough time alone to stop thinking in words—to stop recanting the past and living in the present in unity with your environment? If not I don’t think you’ll ever agree with me that your intellect has you bound to a certain set of rules that pigeonhole human intellect into thinking— the box is truly your master.


            2. “The question is, how did they arrive at the same conclusions about human nature and personal transformation?”

              I presume (because I don’t know what similarities you’re referring to) because they are both humans who share the same fundamental influences. Biology is a huge common influence. You cannot escape it.


            3. But you somehow think you can outsmart your own physiology, or that I can outsmart mine by applying some approved technique? When it is that very technique that inhibits you from thinking independently.
              The solutions are not hard—like the Elwa salmon, who beat their head against the dam for a hundred years. Once it was removed the fish new exactly what to do—so we build hatcheries… to help them into a diminished model of a fish and continue to wonder why they can’t flourish like a wild salmon. I just think there is a better way.


          2. While I admit there are some things I take pretty much as gospel, such as the news article that Officer Chauvin murdered George Floyd by kneeling on his neck with force for about nine minutes, most of what I read, especially on the Internet, I take with a bunch of grains of salt. Long ago I taught myself to read dispassionately, and discriminately. I believe little of what I read, and I trust very few who write. You mentioned some good questions to ask above, particularly does the writer have an agenda as he/she is writing? What is his/her ultimate goal? Are they trying to impress, or do they at least think they are being honest? And when I write, as right now, I am asking myself those same questions about me. I can only hope my intentions are true to the person I am at this time.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. You Stated — “To be an independent thinker one would have to separate, detox from the system for a while to see more bias free.”

        My Response — I think this process would work.. time to reflect is a sure way to remove bias.

        My process is a bit different, I myself flood my mind with a constant feed of contradicting perspectives. A truly massive amount of input.

        Even now while I type this I’m listening to James Obrien.

        My Bias is drowned in perspectives at this point.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. What”s up with your silence, Jim? It is a month now since you last posted. I have not posted much myself in the past month. Is there a WP burnout disease going around? I’m just starting to get over my burnout. What is happening with you?

    Liked by 1 person

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