We are the heirs of ‘Logical Positivism’, a philosophical endeavor that seeks to impose scientific thinking into every aspect of our lives by suggesting that all forms of human knowledge should aspire to the same sort of rigorous rationality as science. According to the canons of logical positivism a statement is meaningful only if it can be determined, through sensory observations or scientific experimentation, to be either true or false: anything that cannot be analyzed in this simple manner is considered meaningless, unworthy of the concern of serious people. Thus do we attempt to reject all the wonder and mystery of life, which means, on the one hand, that we are lying to ourselves (under the guise of being rational and intellectually sophisticated), and on the other hand, that our constricted minds have seceded from our emotions and intuitions, shattering the soul into fragments.
This viewpoint separates the visible world of matter (which we can supposedly analyze objectively and which therefore is considered exclusively ‘real’), from the invisible world of mind (which cannot be analyzed objectively and is therefore considered ‘not real’). The ‘real world’ portrayed by this positivist science has quantities but no qualities, and is without significance. Quantities are objective characteristics which can be measured, weighed, or counted. These are not matters of opinion. But qualities can be debated: a person coming in from a snowstorm into a sixty degree room might say ‘it feels warm’, while a person coming out of a sauna into the very same room might say ‘it feels cold’. These and other subjective qualities impart meaning and color and significance to our experience, but meaning disintegrates in a world where everything * even our thoughts, emotions, inspirations, etc. * are believed to be nothing more than measurable quantities.
Of course, none of us live in such a world, dense with numerical calculations but devoid of meaning. Our arms do not rise up due to mere laws of mechanics: we raise them deliberately because we desire to take hold of something. Even a lost dog seeking its home is not moving its four limbs aimlessly. A sharp division between consciousness and the physical world is annulled by these fundamental observations, and a rigid obsession with such distinctions only serves to distort the truth of our actual experience.