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A website for the book by Ian J Thompson:

"Rational Scientific Theories from Theism"


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22.4 Order of production vs order of growth

We have talked of multiple generative levels in the mind. Table 22.2 shows that there is a process where the higher rational acts to produce (as a derivative disposition) the scientific rational, and it in turn acts to produce (as a derivative disposition) the external mind. This is the order of production and should be that operating in mature adults. But this is not the order we see during human growth. From childhood into adolescence we see exactly the opposite order. The order of growth starts with the final effects within this mental degree and works back towards the source, towards the most prior degree. The order of growth is the order of cognitive and emotional development in our lives, from birth to maturity.

There is a good reason within scientific theism for this: for why human development starts at the outermost effect and works back towards the source, coming via thoughts up toward mature loves. That is because, as argued by means of Postulate 9, it is our actions which are most specifically our own. If we are to build our own lives, or at least a life that retains the loves which we think of as our own, then, according to our scientific theism, we need to build up a history of actions. God cannot do this for us--not even God can invent or change history--so we need to begin our lives by mental activities which are directly involved with actions and physical effects. Being born in the physical world is the way God requires us to start, if we are to one day attain and retain the spiritual life of loves that God wants to give to us.

This same pattern, of growth beginning with outermost actions, applies at every level and at every degree and sub-degree. Before more mature loves or deeper thoughts can be retained we have to develop an ‘external structure’ or framework of actions at an outer degree in order to be able to keep those desired loves and thoughts. We may simplistically think of it as us needing to make ourself be a good container before it can be filled with life.

The process of mental growth here appears to be a kind of emergence. It appears that we begin with sensorimotor thoughts in the external mind, and then, after we become proficient with these, there somehow emerges the next-higher sub-degree of the scientific rational, and so on.22.4This might be the case if the scientific rational could be constructed from configurations in the external mind, and if, say, it could then develop a self-sustaining life of its own. However, this cannot be the case in our scientific theism. That is because it is the scientific rational which is the disposition that can derivatively produce the external mind, not the other way around. This same argument applies with any adjacent pair of degrees: from external to internal, we only ever have constraints and selections.

We might wonder how the scientific rational can begin, since it is not already existing or implicit within the developmentally-prior external mind. The answer is that we do have some initial mentality to start the process of learning a new sub-degree and therefore a ready supply of new ideas and feelings on new levels. This initial mentality and supply of new content is always with God and from God, and later with other intermediate minds. In either case, the problem with learning a new sub-degree is not the supply of new thought, but the ability of the newly-developed mental degree to retain any of these new thoughts. This is a general law for all growth into new degrees: God is always and everywhere present in fullness, and it is only our ability to receive and retain which varies.

This means that growth into new sub-degrees is a patchwork to start with. It depends on specific knowledge, skills and patterns of actions being already established in any one of many cognitive domains. It is only rarely that the transition to a new sub-degree will be simultaneous across all cognitive domains.

Previous: 22.3 Whole-person mentality Up: 22. Discrete Degrees in the Mind Next: 22.5 Substructures

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