Intuition and Frequency

As may have become clear, the Peircean idea of intuition is central for my doctoral thesis. Now, check out these books: Intuition and Frequency. It may look like I found these books by Googling the terms ‘Peirce’ and ‘intuition’. Well, I didn’t, nor do they have anything to do with my doctoral thesis, at least not directly. However, it is somewhat ironic that a Penney Peirce would write a book on intuition and another on personal vibrations and target them for a more esoteric audience. It is ironic because, as most of my loyal readers know, Peirce (the Charles) was one of the few philosophers who tried to incorporate the idea of intuition into a systematic and somewhat analytically oriented philosophy. For Charles intuition is a property of the mind by its virtue of being akin to the truth, but not something that an individual would have rational power upon. I have not read Penney’s books but from what I can tell from the table of contents of her The Intuitive Way, she sees intuition as an innate human quality, yet as something we can choose to deploy. Despite its clear inconsistencies, this seems to be a common line of thinking in New Age theories. People are loaded with innate skills that only await our realization of them.

In The Intuitive Way Penney writes that:

Intuition isn’t separate from life. To find it, you must fully enter life and move as life moves. You’ve been using intuition every day, but you probably aren’t aware just how and when.

After the idea of subconscious was introduced in the 19th century it has been widely used in New Age literature, yet in a somewhat rationalist fashion. What many authors maintain is that the subconscious is filled with things we can identify and learn to use. In this sense the Peirces’ view of intuition differ from each other totally. Penney’s is a Cartesian view and Charles’ an anti-cartesian one.

Another ironic point is that in his later writings Charles Peirce went toward a somewhat eccentric philosophy and came up with the idea of evolutionary love. When you read Charles’ Evolutionary Love, you realize that it is not far from what these New Age authors often propose. This is what Charles writes in Evolutionary Love (CP 6.301–302):

Remembering that all matter is really mind, remembering, too, the continuity of mind, let us ask what aspect Lamarckian evolution takes on within the domain of consciousness. Direct endeavor can achieve almost nothing. It is as easy by taking thought to add a cubit to one’s stature as it is to produce an idea acceptable to any of the Muses by merely straining for it before it is ready to come. We haunt in vain the sacred well and throne of Mnemosyne; the deeper workings of the spirit take place in their own slow way, without our connivance. Let but their bugle sound, and we may then make our effort, sure of an oblation for the altar of whatsoever divinity its savour gratifies. Besides this inward process, there is the operation of the environment, which goes to break up habits destined to be broken up and so to render the mind lively. Everybody knows that the long continuance of a routine of habit makes us lethargic, while a succession of surprises wonderfully brightens the ideas. Where there is a motion, where history is a-making, there is the focus of mental activity, and it has been said that the arts and sciences reside within the temple of Janus, waking when that is open, but slumbering when it is closed. Few psychologists have perceived how fundamental a fact this is. A portion of mind, abundantly commissured to other portions, works almost mechanically. It sinks to a condition of a railway junction. But a portion of mind almost isolated, a spiritual peninsula, or cul-de-sac, is like a railway terminus. Now mental commissures are habits. Where they abound, originality is not needed and is not found; but where they are in defect spontaneity is set free. Thus, the first step in the Lamarckian evolution of mind is the putting of sundry thoughts into situations in which they are free to play.

Three modes of evolution have thus been brought before us: evolution by fortuitous variation, evolution by mechanical necessity, and evolution by creative love. We may term them tychastic evolution, or tychasm,anancastic evolution, or anancasm, andagapastic evolution, or agapasm. The doctrines which represent these as severally of principal importance we may term tychasticism,anancasticism, and agapasticism. On the other hand the mere propositions that absolute chance, mechanical necessity, and the law of love are severally operative in the cosmos may receive the names of tychism, anancism, and agapism.

Furthermore, in Immortality in the Light of Synechism (synechism referring to the idea of continuity) Peirce (CP 7.575–578) writes that:

synechism recognizes that the carnal consciousness is but a small part of the man. There is, in the second place, the social consciousness, by which a man’s spirit is embodied in others, and which continues to live and breathe and have its being very much longer than superficial observers think. Our readers need not be told how superbly this is set forth in Freytag’s Lost Manuscript.

Nor is this, by any means, all. A man is capable of a spiritual consciousness, which constitutes him one of the eternal verities, which is embodied in the universe as a whole. This as an archetypal idea can never fail; and in the world to come is destined to a special spiritual embodiment.

A friend of mine, in consequence of a fever, totally lost his sense of hearing. He had been very fond of music before his calamity; and, strange to say, even afterwards would love to stand by the piano when a good performer played. So then, I said to him, after all you can hear a little. Absolutely not at all, he replied; but I can feel the music all over my body. Why, I exclaimed, how is it possible for a new sense to be developed in a few months! It is not a new sense, he answered. Now that my hearing is gone I can recognize that I always possessed this mode of consciousness, which I formerly, with other people, mistook for hearing. In the same manner, when the carnal consciousness passes away in death, we shall at once perceive that we have had all along a lively spiritual consciousness which we have been confusing with something different.

I have said enough, I think, to show that, though synechism is not religion, but, on the contrary, is a purely scientific philosophy, yet should it become generally accepted, as I confidently anticipate, it may play a part in the onement of religion and Science.

Penney’s (not so original but delightfully evolutionary) idea of people ultimately consisting of energy and personal vibrations as signs of it is not far from what Charles proposed in evolutionary love. This concluding citation is from the web site for Penney’s book Frequency:

In Frequency, Peirce explores the dynamics of energy, personal resonance, and our accelerating evolution into a totally new reality she calls The Intuition Age. You will learn to free yourself from negative or low vibrations (like suffering, depression, and victim consciousness), to feel your own unique “personal vibration,” and attune it, just as you would a radio station, to the naturally high frequency of your best, innermost self — your soul. By learning to live skillfully in an energy world, you will literally change yourself into a new kind of human being — and experience what is is to become “transparent” or enlightened.

One comment

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