THE PRINCIPLE OF LIFE

ONE IN THE MANY

 

Philosophy, in all her magnificence of the five branches: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and esthetics; studies the universal nature of existence and man. Thales, considered the father of Western philosophy, opened the horizon of cognitive exploration for future lovers of wisdom with his  identification of the principle of integration -- the One in the Many.


Against the backdrop of evolution, the one in the many, is the genesis of the conceptual thinking in men.

    “Mr. Wallace, in an admirable paper before referred to, (Anthropological Review, May 1864, p. clviii.) argues that man after he had partially acquired those intellectual and moral faculties which distinguish him from the lower animals, would have been but little liable to have had his bodily structure modified through natural selection or any other means. For man is enabled through his mental faculties ‘to keep with an unchanged body in harmony with the changing universe.’ He has great power of adapting his habits to new conditions of life. He invents weapons, tools and various stratagems, by which he procures food and defends himself. When he migrates into a colder climate he uses clothes, builds sheds, and makes fires; and, by the aid of fire, cooks food otherwise indigestible.  He aids his fellow-men in many ways, and anticipates future events. Even at a remote period he practiced some subdivision of labour.

    The lower animals, on the other hand, must have their bodily structure modified in order to survive under greatly changed conditions. They must be rendered stronger, or acquire more effective teeth or claws, in order to defend themselves from new enemies; or they must be reduced in size so as to escape detection and danger. When they migrate into a colder climate they must become clothed with thicker fur, or have their constitutions altered. If they fail to be thus modified, they will cease to exist.” (Charles Darwin, 1871)


A two-year-old begins his critical period of development marked by the ability to integrate percepts into concepts. Approximately 2600 years ago, the human race began its critical period of intellectual development in Miletus, Ionia, with the formulation of the one in the many. If man fails to continue develop and use his rational faculty, he will cease to exist.


Metaphysically, integration is an universal principle, epistemologically, integration is unique to human beings. In nature hydrogen, H, integrates with oxygen, O, to form water, H2O. In life, man discovers the concept number through integrating isolated instances of measurement of entities with one another. “A number is a group whose quantity matches the quantity of some standard group.” (Ronald Pisaturo and Glenn Marcus, 1994)


Historically, philosophy has offered a misintegrated and disintegrated view of the universe, Aristotle being the exception. (Leonard Peikoff, 2004) The contradictory and sceptic nature of these views of the universe drove man to develop abnormal psychology. Today, Objectivism offers a systematically integrated and existentially valid view of the universe. The honesty and veridicality of this view drives man to develop normal psychology.


Guided by the universality of philosophy, psychology shapes the particular actions necessary for normal life on earth. Yet, psychology is far from arriving at a standard manual for life on earth.


Psychology is the study of one’s conscious and subconscious integrations of reality. A healthy person is integrated in his intellectual and emotional make up.  His volitional thoughts and actions are in harmony with his emotional reaction to life. What is good for him is good for the ones around him. He is a proud owner of his productive effort.


Abnormal psychology is the study of one’s conscious and subconscious misintegrations and disintegrations of reality. A misintegrated person is in perpetual conflict between contradictory concepts held by an anxious mind.  His volitional thoughts and actions are in conflict with his emotional reaction to life.  The conflict is manifested in the view that the good is in servitude to others and not to the self. Emotionally he is reluctant to show pride in the ownership of his productive effort.


A disintegrated person is torn apart by arbitrary dictum of whims coming and going out of his awareness without regard for life or reality. He lives in a perpetual state of psychosis driven by the inability to focus on the long-term goals of life. His thoughts and actions are involuntary and his emotional reaction to life is disoriented and chaotic.  There is no good for him or anybody else.  He has no ownership in productive effort to speak of.


Human action is the end result of all acquired values and characteristics developed and achieved in a lifespan of an individual. It is within the reach of his conscious, volitional effort to will himself in productive action and propel his life to a better future through focused mental and physical labor. It is also in his reach to fold on his potential and let his automatic systems take over his life and lose focus of the possibility for the future.


To discover the cause of man’s reactions to life, one must study his actions as motivated by his will. The impetus behind one’s volition is the inspiration to gain values that give man’s signature and sense-of-life. Man’s psychological mechanism is propelled by a constant induction, integration, and reduction cycle in learning to live. To select values man needs philosophy, to act upon his values, he needs psychology.


Dr. Leonard Peikoff lucidly examines the philosophical basis for the three types of personality in his work on the DIM Hypothesis. DIM stands for disintegration, integration and misintegration.


Applying Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, in a systematically integrated way to psychology is the right step toward understanding individual motivation. Objectivism sets the standard for the nature of a normal human being. Research in neuroscience today confirms many of the philosophical formulations arrived at by Ayn Rand. I hope to stay consistent with Ayn Rand’s ideas and present clearly the parallels between Objectivist epistemology, history of psychology and research in neurobiology concerning learning and memory, cognition and motivation, emotions and human action.


Thank you for reading.


May you have a value driven day!


Arshak Benlian

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