Section IV.2C of II.1 (“The Problem of Scale (Part 1)”)

Milton’s Areopagitica, Loncar’s Kuhn, Ebert’s “Saturation,” and Galileo’s Negentropic Mentidivergence for “Open(ing) Systems”

O.G. Rose
34 min readJan 24, 2024

On how knowledge and thinking advance through Rhetoric, “total saturation,” and neurodiversity.

According to Rauch, “free speech” is necessary for knowledge acquisition in a society, which is to say that giving it up will cause social regression. All of this fits into the context of Belonging Again exploring why it is so easy to opposes “social processes” that the society requires to function. Indeed, all values feel like they should just “be,” and debate is a “process” which values will naturally oppose in their very being. And yet without “processing,” we cannot know which values we should exercise and which are actually just “good intentions” which will cause a vast and dangerous “fall.” In the name of values, in opposing expression, we can destroy the possibility of living them in an order that doesn’t disorder the good.

Poets can make us feel, and it is not always merely seeing that an argument is “internally consistent” that makes us start believing it; rather, we also have to feel the argument. John Milton is thus uniquely positioned to make us appreciate the necessary role of “free speech” in society, for it is through the poet that we can hear the music of “free speech.” John Milton is also an authority on how the good goes wrong for good intention, as must be the birth of evil in his mind, for in Christianity evil has no substance: if it arises, it must be a “disordered good” (to allude to Augustine). Evil has to arise out of freedom, but in a purely good creation, from where does evil arise? There’s only one possibility: the free “disorder” of the good. Evil is a disordered good, and in his famous Paradise Lost, Milton depicts and highlights countless ways that angels and perfect people can end up “fallen.” In considering this context, we can better understand Milton’s arguments defending free speech, points which point further to the rightness of Rauch, which point to McCloskey. The following will speak mostly within Christianity and Islam, but I believe the logic explored has wider-implications.

Again, all values feel like they should just “be,” which is to say they do not feel like they should have to be “processed” or “discussed.” The very act of talking about “the need for freedom” or “the need for justice” can feel off and even immoral: as we “discuss” freedom, it is not being defended or participated in; as we “discuss” justice, justice is being delayed. In this way, “discussion” can always feel “disgusting” to someone, and so it goes with expression in general. Expressing views on something can always feel like “delaying the good” or even “risking the good,” for what if people express and discuss evil? Indeed, that is a risk, but Milton would have us realize that God chose to integrate risk with freedom into the very nature of the cosmos. If we try to avoid that risk, we avoid God’s design, and since everything that exists is “God’s design,” that means what we cause must be “toward” nonexistence. And in Christianity, nonexistence is evil.

In Islam, Iblis falls because he refuses to serve man, for angels are made of fire while man is made of mud. Some Sufis describe Iblis as the greatest “monotheist,” for Iblis refused to serve anyone but Allah to the point where Iblis was even willing to suffer for his views. Now, Iblis is not the same as Milton’s Lucifer, but the Sufi narrative can prove helpful to understand how evil can come into existence, for arguably if one does not do what Allah says, then once is not worshiping Allah, even if the reason one does not worship Allah is precisely in order to worship Allah well. This is arguably why Iblis ends up “fallen,” for he worshiped “what he thought was good” (serving Allah alone) over what Allah said to do, and in this way we see an ironic example of how “good intention” can come in conflict with “the good.” Similarly, we see ideas of “what is best” causing Adam and Eve to fall, as we see Lucifer’s idea of “what is best” causing him to end up in Pandemonium. The lesson here is that “evil intention” is not what causes evil to enter the world, but “good intention,” and Milton argues that “good intentions” of restricting free speech for good reason cause society to end up like Lucifer and Iblis.

There is always good reason to censor “free speech,” one because it always feels like “values should just be,” second because free speech must only possibly be bad if “our values” are the ones in power (for why does anyone need to speak about anything else?), and third because people can truly use free speech to hurt others. There is no avoiding these risks, in the same way that existence of “social processes” risks delaying objectively good values from being implemented in the society. And yet this tragedy cannot be avoided without “good intention” risking “the good” and causing a great “fall.” “Falls” are rarely stupidly carried out, precisely because the complexity and depth of a “fall” versus a “mistake” requires radical conviction and effort. For a society to truly “fall,” the effort must be great, and that requires “true belief,” hence why “falls” seem to always require “ethical certainty” and “good intention.” Only angels can be demons. A defender of community can destroy communion.


The “Areopagitica” is Milton’s famous defense of the free press, opposing the 1643 “Order of Parliament,” and it is an example where we can see that issues we might believe are new today are perennial: censorship has been a matter of passionate debate for centuries. Milton notes that those favoring censorship claim to act out of a ‘love of truth,’ suggesting the main problem: when free speech is attacked, it is in the name of the very truth which free speech also claims to love.¹¹⁵ Here, I think we see a parallel with Iblis and stories of “The Fall”: in the name of “a greater good” (than God or Eden), “good intention” is entertained which conflicts with “the good.” There is no way to avoid that one side or the other is acting “out of good intention” in a manner that undermines that very goodness, but the question is who exactly? This is not easy to determine, because what is the process by which “goodness” versus mere “good intention” can be understood? Well, this is exactly the point of defenders of “free speech”: without its process, we cannot meaningfully discuss “defending the good,” for we have no idea what even is good (as Rauch suggests). Likewise, if “God is goodness,” then doing anything different from what God says is to leave behind the standard according to which goodness can be determined. Is it possible that God could say something He doesn’t mean or hide something God doesn’t make clear? If so, then anything is possible, and the universe itself cannot be trusted, which is to say we cannot trust our conclusion that the universe cannot be trusted. Up might be down and left might be right, but we cannot say up is down, for that would give us a place to stand.

When free speech is effaced, we cannot talk about free speech being gone. Its erasure is an effacement that takes with it its trace, suggesting why its loss is so great. Likewise, when God is abandoned, so too is gone the certainty that God was abandoned, for we can no longer be in His presence (like in Eden) without being destroyed. And so we must wander, and our question is this: How can we wander best? Experimentation, but this experimentation must be tragic, for if we must “talk about the good,” that means we are not doing the good and at risk of distorting it. Values, in their inherent desire to just “be,” will oppose this, like Iblis opposing the Allah he hoped to serve in that opposition.

Milton claims that ‘books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that [of a] soul,’ which is to say that we have no right to “damn” a book into censorship any more than we can “damn” a person (only God can judge).¹¹⁶ Books are products of interpretation and change with time, and a book we judge today as evil tomorrow could be like Christ, only “seemingly” a heretic and denier of God. Milton suggests that though we know we should be slow to judge people, we do not see judging books as equivalent, and yet if “books are alive,” then indeed the error is similar. Milton also warns that the one ‘[w]ho kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself.’¹¹⁷ To kill books is to kill God: it is an act of repeating the crucifixion, an example of religious leaders killing God “for good reason” (according to Jewish law and tradition). ‘[A] good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life’ — though we believe censoring books is not the same as executing people, Milton would have us see the murder as a murder of spirit itself.¹¹⁸

Milton recounts the history of censorship and all “the good reasons” for it, and he suggests that ‘bad [and] good books were silenced,’ and suggests the tragedy that so many writings were lost that the world would never know about.¹¹⁹ Lost ideas are ideas we cannot even know are lost, and so tragically the loss of free speech can never “tell us” what we lost in that loss. We are forever stuck in what we are in, and what we cut off from ourselves is what we cannot identify ourselves against. How can we be so sure then that we think and live well? Milton suggests God did not give us “a closed universe,” for God gave us freedom — why then should we think “a closed society” is best (to allude to Popper)?

Imagine that the works of Plato were lost with the Library of Alexander or burned because they might make us Gnostic and not concerned about this world, favoring instead some Platonic realm — would this really be best? Sure, we might not have fallen into Gnosticism and Idealist philosophy, but are we really so sure that avoiding those mistakes would be best? I am no popular Platonist, but I am also not sure that thus removing Plato from Western Thought would have benefited Western Thought: the supposed mistakes of Plato were easily necessary for getting us to where we are now. Perhaps not, but we should consider this possibility before being sure that removing ideas from the world makes the world a better place. How can we know either way?

‘[A] book, in worse condition than a peccant soul, should be to stand before a jury’ openly, Milton argues, recalling historic examples where people were tried in shadows and in secret, and all the trouble and evil this caused.¹²⁰ “Secret trials” are indeed historically evil, and yet censorship basically must be a secret trial: for books to undergo an “open trial,” there is only one option: the jury must be the hearts of free people, in the open. Only a library can be an “open jury” for ideas; all other juries must be “secret,” and was not Jesus convicted through secret meetings? Not even Satan accused Job outside the heavenly court, and yet we would dare remove books from the courts of hearts.

Milton acknowledges the strong points on why there should be ‘decree[s] forbidding Christians the study of heathen learning,’ but if these arguments were indeed best, why didn’t God make the universe full of robots?¹²¹ If the arguments are indeed reflections of wisdom versus just “internally consistent,” why do we not see them in the fabric of creation itself? The Christian might reply that it is because the universe is “fallen” and things are different now, but to this Milton makes an interesting argument using Acts 10:14, where God informs Peter that is no longer restricted to the same diet as found in Judaism; Milton writes:

‘For books are as meats and viands are; some of good, some of evil substance; and yet God, in that unapocryphal vision, said without exception, Rise, Peter, kill and eat, leaving the choice to each man’s description.’¹²²

Many Christians follow a liberal diet, citing Acts 10:14, and for Milton Christians should feel similarly with their “intellectual diet.” Milton notes that ‘knowledge cannot defile, nor consequently the books, if the will and conscience be not defiled,’ and so censoring book is inherently reactive, whereas our focus should be on training people to hold sanctified wills and conscience.¹²³ God himself seems to have intended something like “developmentalism” when it comes to people, for God does not submit humanity to ‘a perpetual childhood of prescription, but trusts him with the gift of reason to be his own chooser’ — if society is not the same, it will not match “the image and likeness” of God’s intention, and how then can it see itself as serving God (and not just be like the Sufi Iblis).¹²⁴

Where there are books, there must be interpretation, and so not even completely true books entail no risk of falsity. Protestants cherish the spread and wide-reading of the Bible, but the Bible can be misinterpreted and used for falsity, as Christians can think of other Christians who follow a different demonization. Can interpretation be censored out? If not, then risk is unavoidable with reading, and if we are to censor at all, it is simply a question of where we draw the line and decide the risk is worth the reward. But why when it comes to interpreting the Bible but not reading “heathen books?” Why doesn’t censorship just take Christians back to a world where they restrict the distribution of the Bible, just to make sure that bad interpretations are not spread? Protestants particularly might argue that this just leads us to the problem of having to trust the authorities of the text again, which Protestants believe the Church exploited, but to this Milton suggests that problems simply arise again with censors. ‘How shall the licensers themselves be confided in,’ Milton asks, ‘unless we can confer upon them […] the grace of infallibility and uncorruptedness?’¹²⁵ Unless we view the people censoring as infallible, there will always be doubts in them (the Catholics were not unwise to believe infallibility was necessary), and this for Milton would suggest a recipe for totalitarianism and tyranny. Now, this doesn’t mean Milton doesn’t understand the risks of “heathen texts,” for indeed they can mislead people, but this risk to Milton is akin to God’s choice to give humanity freedom. Where there is choice, there can be sin, but the alternative is a world God did not create (assumably for a good reason).

Milton raises a point that I found particularly interesting, suggesting that censorship empties wisdom of its point. He writes that ‘there is no reason that we should deprive [emphasis added] a wise man of any advantage to his wisdom,’ which suggests that censorship destroys the meaning of wisdom.¹²⁶ We learn to be able to tell truth from falsity, and if we are not allowed exposure to all books, then learning loses its meaning, in the same way ethics and love lose meaning without choice (hence why God seems to have given humanity free will). If we are not allowed exposure to the full range of ideas in the world, then wisdom is deprived of its power (which is perhaps another reason why free Rhetoric is so powerful, as McCloskey suggests). We cannot say we value it, for we remove from it the condition needed for it to matter.

‘If every action […] were to be under pittance and prescription and compulsion, whatever virtue but a name, what praise could be then due to well-doing’ — what value is ethics if there is no choice?¹²⁷ None, Milton suggests, which also means that goodness loses its spirit. If God ‘esteems the growth and completing of one virtuous person more than the restraint of ten vicious,’ then God’s joy is found in our growing into goodness more than our “being good,” and Milton suggests the same logic applies to wisdom.¹²⁸ It is better for people to come to discern truth from falsity versus not engage in falsity, but for this, freedom will be required.¹²⁹ And in writing Milton seems to see a unique area in which people can learn to exercise the best they are capable of, and so anything which would threaten engagement in writing, like censorship, should be avoided. Milton argues:

‘When a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him; he searches, meditates, is industrious, and likely consults and confers with his judicious friends; after all which done he takes himself to be informed in what he writes, as well as any that writ before him.’¹³⁰

Writing is hard, and the one who engages in it will have to demand something of his or her self that is not required in daily life. It cultivates virtue and wisdom, Milton suggests, and yet censorship would send signals to people that writing should be avoided. For this reason, we should be careful in doing anything that might suggest to the world that “writing can get you in trouble,” for this is precisely what might cause there to be more trouble in the world. Milton also suggests that if people cannot think themselves to their view because of censorship, or because they are simply directly told the truth so that there is no risk they “fall away” in reading heretical books, then this might guarantee people are heretics. He writes:

‘A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only because his Pastor says so, or the Assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be truth, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy.’¹³¹

There is no denying people freedom and avoiding heresy in the same action: the removal of freedom guarantees we relate to falsity instead of truth, for we will relate to truth in a false way. If we have the truth but cannot recognize it or feel that it is true, then we live in a lie. If part of the truth is that it is true God intended freedom, then we cannot live the truth without that freedom, and ultimately “knowing” the truth is only the case to the degree with live it. The means for knowing the truth cannot betray it.

To close our thoughts on Milton, I will draw attention a one last quote:

‘We boast our light; but if we look not wisely on the Sun itself, it smites us into darkness. Who can discern those planets that are oft combust, and those stars of brightest magnitude that rise and set with the Sun, until the opposite motion of their orbs bring them to such a place in the firmament, where they may be seen evening or morning? The light which we have gained was given us, not to be ever staring on, but by it to discover onward things more remote from our knowledge.’¹³²

Every motion of the planets is needed for the planets to find their place, even the motions which seem like they take planets away from where they “ought” to go. Similarly, we must approach the sun at the right time and not look at it carelessly, or else we will lose the ability to see at all. Again, perhaps we believe Plato leads us astray in philosophy, but I am not ready to say the world would be a better place if Plato’s thought was lost with some Library of Alexander. Even paths that do not seem to guide us to the summit of a mountain might guide us around the base to where we find a better path, but if we do not allow ourselves to take that path because “it doesn’t go the right way,” we might forever deprive ourselves of that option, hence the messiness and “error” of searching for truth is part of what is needed for truth to be found and we prove ready to handle and sustain it.¹³³

To review, as hopefully we can see between Rauch and Milton, free speech isn’t simply a matter of limiting government but of social responsibility between fellow Americans. To live under the Bill of Rights is to live under a vision to disagree and yet respect those with whom we disagree. It isn’t a vision to be enforced by law, but a vision realized by our desire to be the best people we can be. It is easy to be a “good person” to those we like, but a noble accomplishment to treat those we dislike with adoration. Why do people fail to do this? Again, for the best of reasons: to spread justice, to stop Communism, to end bigotry, and so on. People often fail to be their best selves in the name of the good. If the collapse of common humanity was due to evil, restoring it could be much easier; the great challenge is that we can’t restore it without, in the eyes of people like us, benefiting those unlike us who are (seemingly) guilty of grave injustice. Restoring love for the saint can be easier than restoring love for the sinner.

As described in “Equality and Its Immoral Limits” by O.G. Rose, as SMFS drops, an existential tension and uncertainty will grow that threatens the bounds between people. If there is the ready possibility in people’s minds that saying certain things can have grave and permeant social consequences, people will be nervous around one another, especially people who hold different worldviews. This anxiety will impede the development of relationships, and if relationships cannot readily formulate between diverse groups of people, Pluralism will be a disaster. Furthermore, if diversity contributes to creativity, then we can see why Rhetoric helped generate “The Great Enrichment.” Furthermore, anxiety will lead to self-segregation, and even though there is no law demanding “separate but equal,” people could segregate themselves into groups of people like themselves. Indeed, this has always happened to some degree (in New York, for example, a China town, an Italian town, and so on formulated), but self-segregation today seems to often be happening to avoid anxiety, rather than to create a network of social, communal, and family capital. And when self-segregation is occurring out of anxiety in a world where it is increasingly impossible to avoid diversity, conflict of some kind might prove inevitable. Indeed, this is the concern of Belonging Again (Part I) and why the question of “spreading Childhood” is so central.

To conclude our overall consideration of “free speech” and its importance for Rhetoric (for, again, where “free speech” is limited, it is always Discourse which seems to benefit), we will consider the work of Thomas Kuhn, who Samuel Loncar at Becoming Human has done tremendous work expounding on and explaining. Why? “The logic of scientific discovery” parallels “the logic of Rhetorical advancement,” which suggests that “scientific process” and “free speech” also align. Samuel brings to our attention the problem of “novelty in science,” which is a problem because science is seemingly threatened by novelty: if something new is discovered, it would suggest past science was wrong, so why should we ever trust it again? For Kuhn, the key is that we consider the whole “situation” of science (alluding to Leibniz), not just individual scientists, and that we see the authority of reliability of science precisely in its character as “a self-correcting community.” There are indeed great scientists who make great advancements in the field, but “the glory of science” is ultimately found in considering science as a “communal whole. Likewise, though there are great orators and great examples of human expression, “the glory of free speech” is ultimately found in considering speaking as “a communal whole.” “Free speech” is not so much about “individual expression” as it is “communal learning.”

Things Ancient and New: The Logic of Scientific Discovery in Thomas Kuhn

Science works precisely because nobody is trying to be novel (novelty must “just happen”); if everyone was so trying, science would likely prove impossible. Science works because everyone is doing their best to show “fidelity to the truth” and to defend whatever it is they (believe and) think is true. They could be wrong though, so doesn’t that mean there is a competition between everyone where only one winner will prevail? Isn’t science a “zero-sum game?” No, Loncar stresses with Kuhn: it is a communal activity, where everyone who is proven incorrect is just as important to the process as those defending a theory which is true. In the end, likely everyone will turn out to be wrong at some point in history, and yet that day where “the truth emerges” is only possible because of this process of mistakes. This in mind, we can grasp the wisdom in Hegel telling us that a fear of error is ultimately a fear of truth, and in fact we need to see error as necessary for realizing truth. The process of finding “all the errors” and fully thinking them through (which please note is only possible if we genuinely believe they aren’t errors, for otherwise we will likely stop investigating too early, suggesting a motivational problem in gaining and amassing knowledge) is necessary for learning the truth, both because what we don’t explore (and instead outright dismiss) is what we can always wonder about (and return to), and also because “ideas are not experiences” (as discussed in The Conflict of Mind), meaning we really don’t “get” what is false until we experience its shortcomings, and furthermore we don’t really “get” that what we’ve come to think is truth “is” true until we (regularly) experience it. “Certainty” and “transcendental grounding” are not possible in this life (again, as discussed in The Conflict of Mind), but that doesn’t mean we cannot set ourselves up to experience this or that as “more likely to be true” or “more likely to be false” then others. This is an “experiential basis” for believing what we do, but that means we need to create a condition in which such experiences are possible, which seems to require a “communal effort,” because no one can intentionally seek to fully believe something that they at the same time try themselves to disprove. This isn’t to say that people are trying to be self-deceived or to avoid criticism, but to instead say it is so difficult for a single mind to think through fully (“to a point of exhaustion”) all the possible angels of a single idea, that it’s just not possible for one person to “think everything that needs to be thought from every possible angle.” We need others, and those others can likely only think what they can think “while standing on the shoulders” of the ones they critique, question, and try to disprove, hence again why knowledge is a communal effort.

To disprove others, we can need those we seek to disprove, as those we critique need us to critique them so that they can gain an experience of their ideas being rigorous and “more likely to be true” than not. This is the best we can hope for in this world where “certainty” and “a transcendental grounding” are impossible: we require a “relational and horizontal justification” where “autonomous and vertical justifications” don’t exist. Furthermore, the raw experience of having an idea we strongly believed in and worked hard to defend suddenly being overturned, and us being forced to acknowledge this overturning, all function as an experiential basis by which knowledge can advance. I simply don’t want to have to change my mind, but a communal setting can force me to do so, an experience which in of itself which provides “strong reason to think” that the idea I’m being forced out of is in fact false (even though “certainty” about such can never be achieved).

Paradigms must be exhausted more than overturned, which is to say every possible angle of a notion needs to be explored until the paradigm proves incapable of bearing the weight of new empirical studies and evidence. This brings to mind Alex Ebert’s “Fre(Q) Theory” and his idea of “total saturation,” at which point a “threshold is crossed” and a new “equilibrium” is achieved. Where no such “exhaustion” is experienced, there is always space for “plausible deniability” that the ideas or theory have indeed been overturned, but that means we need lots of people to explore all possibilities so that “full saturation” can be gained, at which point there would be “good reason to think” a shift in thinking is needed, even though “certainty” would not be achieved. This is the power of “total saturation” and “complete exhaustion” (which again require us to genuinely and diligently consider errors), which is to say they make it possible for knowledge to advance (and for us to genuinely feel like knowledge has meaningfully advanced), even though we can never know for sure (“objectively”).

Everyone who contributes to this described “total saturation” is critical to the process, for otherwise “the threshold” likely couldn’t be crossed and science couldn’t advance. This is to say “the whole scientific community” is needed, not because individuals don’t matter, but because the community is the only way a “horizontal justification” for knowledge and progress might prove possible. So it goes for thinking and ideas in general: we require “free speech” and all the bad ideas people might speak precisely so that we can “exhaust” all possibilities and achieve a feeling of “horizontal justification” for the ideas we do advance. Without this, Rhetoric is particularly in jeopardy, precisely because “high order Rhetoric” is so unnatural to consider compared to “low order Discourse”: it is only a matter of time before our natural bias against Rhetoric has us stop “speaking it” (which is when the “subject” will be structured according to Discourse and Childhood lost). Also, “new ideas” and “novelty” are key characteristics of Rhetoric, which are unnatural and what Kuhn and Loncar make clear are a problem for thinking. Novelty will probably come across as ridiculous at the time of its emergence, and if people aren’t allowed to discuss that novelty freely until “all possibilities are exhausted” regarding it, then no “horizontal justification” will prove possible. Knowledge will not advance, as won’t we.

But at this point, an important concern might arise: Are we saying “the community” is more important than “the individual?” Not all, and such a division is ultimately impossible (just like “the subject/object divide”). Though we will discuss more of his work later, Paul Feyerabend in Against Method makes it very clear that science doesn’t simply advance and operate thanks to some “great consensus,” but instead requires people like Galileo who basically no one approves of: it is not just religion which opposed him, but also the scientists of his day. The key is to understand that Galileo functions as a “neurodivergence” or “mentidivergence” (as we discussed when we considered Simon Weil) in the scientific process, without who science could fall into “suboptimal results” and Nash Equilibria. Critically, this means Galileo helps science not so much by being “more scientific” than everyone else or “more scientifically brilliant,” but by thinking differently in a deep and essential sense. Galileo thinks differently in kind (B) from the consensus (A), not just degree, which is a central reason why people like Galileo are able to help “scientific knowledge” advance: it’s because Galileo can help knowledge and science avoid “Rational Impasses” (Nash Equilibria), which is to say places where “being rational” is not enough to advance into new possibility and creativity. Eventually, “autonomous rationality” (without “mentidivergence,” “nonrationality”) can no longer advance (and so descends into Discourse from Rhetoric).

There is a theory of “great people of history,” which is to say history is made by “remarkable individuals” without whom history would be radically difficult. This is a controversial idea, but at the same time it seems difficult to dismiss. Here though, we are suggesting that “the great men of history” are more so such because they are “the mentidivergent of history,” which might help add a humility and nuance to the theory. As Lorenzo teaches (Ep #10, and see also our talk on “Neurodiversity and Literature”), it is the neurodivergent who are often able to operate against the group and consensus (like the jester in the king’s court), helping the group avoid “suboptimal results,” but this is not really because the mentidivergent are the most rational, the most courageous, the most moral, etc., but because the mentidivergent might actually lack the same emotional sensitivity as others (which is why they aren’t paralyzed), be prone to getting distracted by a hundred different projects off the main focus (take Newtown’s alchemy and theology), be more obsessive, and so on. “The Great People of History” theory has a very different ring to it when we discuss “The Great Mentidivergence of History,” and that in my view is much closer to the case (hence why our focus is on “spreading Childhood,” which is fundamentally “mentidivergent” and so perhaps able to handle the “existential anxiety” of less mediated spaces, outside say markets where actual Democracy might arise).

Galileo was more mentidivergent than the others of his day, versus say more scientific than the other scientists. Yes, once Galileo helped change the scientific paradigm thanks to his mentidivergence, then it seems right to say that “Galileo was one of ‘the greatest scientists’ of all time,” which in a way is true, but it also can create a problematic impression that “Galileo was just better at science than everyone else,” which is to say Galileo was “better in degree” versus somehow “different in kind” (a key distinction helpful for understanding the primacy of creativity over say just intelligence). It’s not false, but it can also be misleading and contribute to use dismissing the points of Paul Feyerabend (and “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment” in general). That all said, please note that to place an emphasis on “mentidivergence” versus say “greatness” (which problematically doesn’t designate the “kind” of greatness we are discussing, leaving that open to be “assumed,” often in favor of “autonomous rationality”), can help us reach a middle ground between emphasizing “the community” over “the individual” or vice-versa. This is because mentidivergence only helps us avoid “Rational Impasses” in relationship and with others who are not (so) mentidivergent (in the same way or to the same degree, though an overarching argument of Belonging Again (Part II) is that we need to become more collectively mentidivergent then not, at least in the sense that we become more “open” and accepting of it versus try to conform it into some “autonomous rationality”). Galileo needed “the scientific community” so that there was a consensus and “developing rationality” to which Galileo could add mentidivergence; without that, no “Nash Equilibria” could be overcome, precisely because no “Rational Impasse” would be reached (not enough “rational manpower” would be employed to “fully saturate” a paradigm). Galileo couldn’t on his own learn or investigate every angle of Aristotelian science, but he could on his own add “mentidivergence” which enabled the scientific community to “sublate” and “(non)rationally advance” into a new paradigm. Galileo also couldn’t consider every possible objection to his own ideas (it took enough just to originate them), critiques which are required for “plausible deniability” to be removed that Galileo was wrong, which must occur for “paradigm shifts” (which are negentropic). So something similar applies to “free speech” and systems in general: we require “open environments” in which the mentidivergent can be heard, or else our systems, programs, and the like will inevitably become “closed” and so entropic. Only something more mentidivergent and neurodivergent can bring about “open systems,” for only “nonrationality” (truth) can avoid “Rational Impasses” (which the inability of a system to avoid “practically guarantees” it will eventually be “closed” versus “open”). Where “free speech” is reduced, it tends to be the mentidivergent who can suffer most, which ultimately means we suffer as well in becoming “(rationally) closed” and so entropic. To avoid what we don’t like to hear is to begin the process of losing the capacity to hear at all.

As discussed throughout O.G. Rose, the reason irony, “total despair,” A/A in general, and the like are so problematic is that we eventually end up in some “closed system” which is necessarily entropic, and a reason we are so vulnerable to this mistake is precisely because the mistake is rational (neurotypical) while avoiding it is nonrational (more neurodiverse). Avoiding it is not typical to think, as isn’t “lack,” and please note that the mentidivergent are like a “lack” for the more neurotypical, for the neurotypical are “lacking” mentidivergence, which is to say they need “lack” so that they might add an “opening” to their “(closed) system” and so avoid entropy. But this also means the mentidivergent cannot “be an opening” without the neurotypical, as “nonrationality” requires “rationality” to help us overcome Nash Equilibria (A requires B for A/B). This poises a problem though, for collectives and groups naturally resist and oppose difference, which means collectives will naturally oppose the mentidivergence that collectives need in order to avoid entropy and prove negentropic (as the mentidivergent might avoid the collectives they require to generate negentropy, precisely to avoid hurt and rejection). This suggests why a “spread of Childhood” is needed, precisely so that we can all become more able to handle mentidivergence and understand its role, as the mentidivergence might be more Childlike and able to stand against collective rejection. No, not everyone will be mentidivergent to the same degree or in the same way (as not everyone will be equally Artifexian or creative, which is mentidivergent), and indeed we require the more neurotypical to form collectives and systems (more “rationally”), but we do need everyone to be more aware of “the entropic problem of closed systems” (A/A) and able to handle the diversity required so that systems are “open” and negentropic (A/B). It needs to become normal for the neurotypical to accept the neurodivergent, as the neurodivergent need to resist diverting away from the typical: negentropy and avoiding “Rational Impasses” is possible no other way.

As we need “free science” precisely so that there is a process by which paradigms can be “totally saturated” and “novelty” arise (without us trying to be novel, critically, which is precisely a reason the “novelty” can be trusted), so we need “free speech” precisely so that there is a process by which worldviews can be “totally saturated” and “creativity” arise — a process which is what arises in the “communal relating” of the neurodiverse and neurotypical (A/B), which is a testament to Childhood and “Absolute Community.” Novelty is by definition “surprising” (which considering Leibniz means we need a certain “situation” for its possibility, mainly “the situation of the neurotypical relating to neurodivergence”), which means it cannot be predicted ahead of time, but so too is creativity, invention, and the like. Rhetoric ultimately suggests a “situation” in which “novelty” (of all types) is possible, which suggests Discourse is in the business of effacing that “situation” and making us “toward” a different destination. What destination is that? Well, answering that inquiry requires us to turn to Kafka (as we will soon), but the point is that both science and “free speech” (thinking in general) advance communally (between the diverse and typical), and though there might be individuals who can uniquely and quickly help advance human knowledge, they would be powerless to generate science “on their own,” without the communal dimension. Likewise, though some people might be particularly good at generating ideas they can communicate with others, these speakers and thinkers could only do but so much without communities and other people with whom they could speak: it would only be a matter of time before an idea occurred to them that they could justify “coherently” and yet it still would not “correspond,” at which point they would be “entrapped” (a danger discussed throughout The Map Is Indestructible). And once so “captured,” in the name of advancing truth, we would accelerate in the opposite direction.

We are looking far ahead in Belonging Again (Part II) to when we particularly focus on political-economy, but here we can note (with little elaboration) that unmediated spaces outside hierarchy, Capital, etc. are not spaces which humans can naturally thrive in or handle (it requires “mentidivergence”): this is why when we are “thrown” into Democracy we tend to turn to hierarchies of commerce and business to experience one another through “social hierarchies” by which we all become more intelligible. Something like this was understood by Louis Dumont in Homo Hierarchicus, which showed how humans seem to naturally form “hierarchies” so that they can understood one another and so that the world is more intelligible to them (which is to say we are “naturally” prone to Discourse, even if to some degree “social intelligibility” is necessary through some means of mediation — though that is what we must determine). Girard similarly seems to show that humans turn to “mimetic desire” when they are free to desire anything, precisely because the choice of what to desire is to “abyssal” for most to handle it; hence, people naturally look for a way to mediate the choice (making it less “abyssal”) and tend to do so through others, which then leads to conflict that Girard saw a “scapegoat” as often needed to address. Dumont, Girard, Tocqueville, and Marx all show ways humans try to “mediate” relations because facing one another “abyssally” is simply too difficult (except perhaps for the mentidivergent, and if today we must face “the abyssal” to avoid entropy and some “Great Stagnation,” then accepting mentidivergence is profoundly necessarily). In this way, we could say that Dumont, Girard, Tocqueville, and Marx all describe ways that a society comes to define what is “neurotypical,” as needed for social intelligibility, but in that arguably necessary act, societies set themselves up for entropy. To survive, societies must work against “what is necessary” to accept mentidivergence and hence negentropy, a situation that seems paradoxical and impossible — but this is why Kuhn and Loncar are so important: “the logic of scientific discover” is also “the logic of neurotypical and neurodivergent community” (A/B). As “novelty in science” is a problem, so “neurodivergence in neurotypicality” is a problem, but fortunately “the address” is similar.

For more on “the logic of institutions,” Mary Douglas, Nick Land…

Dumont, Girard, Tocqueville, and Marx — everything just described follows from the problems of “social intelligence” identified by Marx Douglas, all of which seems to suggest that what we require is some kind of “open hierarchy” or structure of social intelligibility that we “hold” not with a “clutched hand” or a “hand turned-upside down,” but an “open hand” in which a bird might sit, fly away, and then later return (to allude to Michelle’s wonderful image). Neurodivergence and mentidivergence are what make an “open hierarchy” or “open system” possible, without which a Nash Equilibrium and “suboptimal result” seem inevitable. And critically this is possible not because people in the system “try” to be original, creative, or novel, but because everyone in the system in fact just does what they are best at, and then someone who is mentidivergence comes along and adds a profound diversity and dynamism to the process which makes possible novelty, sublation, and paradigm shifts — a process which will prove more effective if the neurotypical know they need and are ready for the neurodiverse. In this way, the hope of this section is to help us understood how and why “paradigm shifts” occur and work, precisely so that they might happen more often, with less experiences of entropy along the way (the hope is more consistent negentropy, the presence of which is contingent on us.)

It is exactly like what Kuhn and Loncar describe: as science that tries to be “novel” undermines itself, so too a society of people who try to be “diverse” versus say just “be mentidivergent” (which will naturally arise to diversity and various degrees of mentidivergence), “accepting mentidivergence,” “able to handle it,” etc., will prove incapable of reaching points of “total saturation” by which novelty and creativity can arise “naturally” and in a sustainable way, precisely because “plausible deniability” favoring alternatives dwindles. Through this “communal process” and “horizontal justification,” deep and essential change can occur, and here we can also note why it’s the case that kings seem to have needed jesters, why societies seem to need comedians, why societies need to include “outsiders,” why “diversity” is utterly necessary — all of this suggests that systems and processes (which are necessarily “rational” according to their own notions) need “mentidivergence” so that they don’t fall into “suboptimal results” at “Rational Impasses” (and “lack” is a critical source of possible “mentidivergence,” for it is always “outside (typical) being,” hence why it is central in our consideration). How though we create conditions in which people just “are” more mentidivergent will get us into us spreading more “medium conditions” that might deconstruct “trivia(l) education” — but now I am ahead of myself.

“Free speech” works against “closed social mediation,” which is to say works to help society and meditation from becoming “autonomous” and self-enclosing (A/A). We cannot stay entirely “open” all the time (for that is “nothingness”), but to “close in on” anything risks us slipping into “closing off” (which is to say we need “totality” to understand, but that threatens “infinity,” as Levinas discusses). An art must be learned, or else entropy will dominate over negentropy and stagnation ensue. Mentidivergence keeps systems “open,” and the loss of “free speech” almost must hurt mentidivergence, for it is “typical” that those in power who can limit “free speech” are more neurotypical and hence likely to limit speech which isn’t neurotypical (favoring Discourse over Rhetoric). In the name of helping society, for “good and rational reason,” entropy is hence worsened.

The mentidivergent are those who at a point of “total saturation” can make us realize we are seeing something entirely new versus “nothingness” or “the end of thought,” while the neurotypical are those as a whole who we require to reach that point of “totally saturation” which the mentidivergent can then study and “see differently” (“opening it up”). In other words, the neurotypical are who exhaust a paradigm and explore all possible angels of it, which at the time is not “exhausting a paradigm” but “exhausting the whole of thought itself” (“paradigms” are never mere “paradigms” at the time, but descriptions of “is-ness”), while the mentidivergent are those who see the exhaustion and “total saturation” as evidence of “something more” beyond it (they locate “the staircase, as I discussed with Peter Robinson, Ep #149, as possible with the more rational and neurotypical). This is a community of thought in which we can find how Galileo can have a unique role, while at the same time not ascribing to a problematic “Great People of History” theory (though there is truth to such). “Nonrational and Absolute Community” is how knowledge advances, for it is a place in which wisdom has a role (alluding to Milton), and if knowledge doesn’t advance, negentropy falls into entropy.

Hegel teaches us that progress is contingent, and perhaps the fact that “the social meaning of free speech” is contingent is why, for that means (negentropic) Rhetoric is contingent (which means the same of our capacity for avoiding “entrapment” and Discourse) The contingent rise and fall of nations then is perhaps the contingent rise and fall of Rhetoric. The spread of Rhetoric is the spread of prosperity qualitatively — even past the point where “quantity” ceases to improve quality, which is evidence not of making a mistaken choice in the past, but evidence of a need for a “negation/sublation” in our historic moment, just as Hegel teaches. Having focused on material quality, now perhaps we must consider a different kind of quality that far more involves the subject. Otherwise, as discussed by Samuel Barnes and Raymod K. Hessel, we might fall into a “Rat Utopia Experiment” of John Calhoun.





¹¹⁵Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 383.

¹¹⁶Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 384.

¹¹⁷Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 384.

¹¹⁸Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 384.

¹¹⁹Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 386.

¹²⁰Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 388.

¹²¹Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 388.

¹²²Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 389.

¹²³Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 389.

¹²⁴Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 390.

¹²⁵Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 392.

¹²⁶Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 392.

¹²⁷Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 394.

¹²⁸Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 395.

¹²⁹This leaves open the question of “drag or not drag” I often discuss regarding Plato’s Cave, but that will have to be elaborated on at another time.

¹³⁰Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 397.

¹³¹Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 402.

¹³²Milton, John. “Areopagitica.” The Great Books, Volume 32. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1989: 404.

¹³³Yet no matter how much we might agree with Milton and nod with approval, when it comes to letting people speak and express something opposed to what we believe, our eagerness for “free speech” can quickly wane. Again, this because all values naturally seek to “be,” without process or discussion, and yet if values were granted what they naturally wished, they would undermine the processes required for people to ascend to them without those values becoming autonomous and totalitarian. Milton put it well in suggesting we are heretics if we ascribe to the truth without freedom; similarly, our values lose their power if they are lived out “un-processed.” Process is evidence we believe in our values, for we are willing to submit them to challenge and process in confidence that they will prevail. And yet, at the same time, the very fact it takes time to process them suggests that we shouldn’t suppose those processes or deliberations: after all, don’t we want justice now? Don’t we want freedom today?




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