On the Soul

©2006 LaRouche Youth L.L.P.
On the Soul

On the Soul

It is often the case that Book 4 of the Harmonies of the World creates confusion among readers because of its tricky subject matter.  However, if one were to step back and look at the material presented from the standpoint which Kepler himself declares to be looking at it from in the opening chapters of the book, they would see the importance of it; particularly those engaged in organizing the population for a great change. 

Lyndon LaRouche began 2007, proclaiming that that year should be declared the year of bel canto, the method of singing which the LaRouche Youth Movement employs in creating a political mass effect on the streets.  In fact, by the conclusion of that year, the Larouche Youth Movement produced this performance of the Bach motet, Jesu Meine Freude.  But the reason why such a method of organizing should be successful is precisely the topic which Kepler attempts to address in those opening chapters of Book 4 mentioned above.  They contain a thorough summary of the epistemological thinking that allowed Kepler to proceed to greatness.

The question here, as it relates to organizing, is the following: why is it the case that this approach to organizing has the power to penetrate into the souls of the 68ers, who grew up in a culture that replaced singing with screaming?  Why would young people be interested in such singing at all? Or, why would the poor, living in a death zone, be moved by classical music?  Truthful reflection upon such questions inevitably leads one to investigate the depths of the human soul, and what it is about us that allows us to know anything at all.

We usually take it for granted that we are constantly being bombarded with sensory stimuli, whether it’s intended, as with advertisements, or merely derivative, like the noise of city traffic.  Most people develop the ability to block out these sensations.  But, when confronted by a chorus of young people singing polyphonically on the street, something stirs within them.  Suddenly, they are shocked.  There is something characteristically different in that experience.  They may not know what caused it but, generally they walk away happier.
What is it that these individuals are responding to?  It couldn’t be the sound as such, for sound is not in itself unusual. They hear various sounds all the time.  Could it be the order amongst the sounds?  If that were the case, we would be faced with the question of how the recognition of the order is even possible.  A funny thing happens when singers in a chorus are tuning to one another.  In many cases, they are looking for something, something which they may never have heard before.  But, when they find it, they know that it is right.  The passerby on the street is awestruck, although they may not know why.  In both instances there seems to be recognition of something that the individual may never have experienced before. This seems somewhat strange.  To recognize something seems to imply that we have encountered it in the past, almost as if we are remembering it.  But, if that has not occurred, where could this knowledge of the experience have come from?

We receive impressions through our sensory apparatus.  Aristotle, in his De Anima, likens the mind to a tablet that has nothing written on it, but which has the potential to receive all writing.  If this is so, the amalgam of impressions which are gathered in the soul come into the soul and are compared.  In Book Three, we saw that the harmony existing amongst sounds is associated with proportion.  For this reason, Aristotle concludes, “if concord is a proportion, it follows that hearing must also be a species of proportion.”  After citing several more examples of similar phenomenon with the other senses he states more generally,

All this implies that sense is a proportion. Hence sensibles are, it is true, pleasurable when they are brought into the range of this proportion pure and unmixed.

So, perhaps it is the proportion which we are responding to.  But then, how did this proportion get into the soul?  Did it come first from the senses?  According to Aristotle,

The mind, then, since it thinks all things, must needs, in the words of Anaxagoras, be unmixed with any, if it is to rule, that is, to know.  For by intruding its own form, it hinders and obstructs that which is alien to it; hence it has no other nature than this, that it is a capacity.  Thus, then, the part of the soul which we call intellect (and by intellect I mean that whereby the soul thinks and conceives) is nothing at all actually before it thinks.

If the mind were only empty capacity, dependent upon sensory experience for knowledge, how could it judge at all?  How could it compare?  Proportion is, indeed, a thing of reason.  We never experience a proportion directly.  It only comes about as a relationship between experiences.  It seems that it is only when these sensible things are united by proportion that we take pleasure in them.  Furthermore, the unity, or harmony, that emerges is something other than the proportion, by which the individual objects of sense are related.  For it is not any proportion, as such, which causes pleasure, but particular proportion which express this property we call harmony. Therefore, the mind could not have attained this ability to unify from the objects themselves, as though they were prior to the proportion and harmony.  That would be confusing the effects perceived with the causes of the perception.  And for that matter, the ability to unify could not have come about from empty capacity.  Such is the inconsistency of Aristotle.

Harmony, as well as proportion, must then be prior to the senses.  And if prior to the senses, it must have already been present to the mind, if the mind could recognize this proportionality in the sensations.  So, we must start again, and ask how the knowledge of these proportions came into the soul?

Plato, on the other hand, communicates an account, prior to Aristotle, that the soul itself was made in accord with the universe.  The Creator, in making manifest all that was in his Mind by creating the universe, fashioned the human soul and mind in the same manner.  The Wisdom thus employed in the composition of the universe is also the same fabric of which the soul is composed. 

Vision, in my view, is the cause of the greatest benefit to us, inasmuch as none of the accounts now given concerning the Universe would ever had been given if men had not seen the stars or the sun or the heaven.  But as it is, the vision of day and night and of months and circling years has created the art of number and has given us not only the notion of Time but also the means of research into the nature of the universe. From these we have procured Philosophy in all its range, than which no greater boon ever has come or will come, by divine bestowal, unto the race of mortals. This I affirm to be the greatest good of eyesight.  As for all the lesser goods, why should we celebrate them?  He that is no philosopher when deprived of sight thereof may utter vain lamentations!  But the cause and purpose of that best good, as we must maintain, is this,- that God devised and bestowed upon us vision to the end that we might behold the revolutions of Reason in the Heaven and use them for the revolvings of the reasoning that is within us, these being akin to those, the perturbable to the imperturbable; and that through learning and sharing in calculations which are correct by their nature, by imitation of the absolutely unvarying revolutions of the God we might stabilize the variable revolutions within ourselves.

Concerning sound also and hearing, once more we make the same declaration, that they were bestowed by the Gods with the same object and for the same reasons; for it was for these same reasons that speech was ordained, and it makes the greatest contribution thereto; and music, too, in so far as it uses audible sound, was bestowed for the sake of harmony.  And harmony, which has motions akin to the revolutions of the Soul within us, was given by the Muses to him who makes intelligent use of the Muses, not as an aid to irrational pleasure, as is now supposed, but as an auxiliary to the inner revolution of the Soul, when it has lost its harmony, to assist in restoring it to order and concord with itself.  An because of the unmodulated condition, deficient in grace, Rhythm also was bestowed upon us to be our helper by the same deities and for the same ends.

Plato, Timaeus

But, how else could this knowledge have been present to the soul before it came into contact with any  worldly manifestations?  We arrive in the universe, not with empty capacity, but full with potential.  And in the process of our interacting with that universe we come to find what that potential actually is.  We transform this hidden potential, by the creative process, into active power.  And so, by being familiar with our own minds, which are representations of the entire universe, in such a way, we are enabled to help others become more familiar with the potential that exists within them.

So, according to Plato, when presented with certain images or other sensory impressions, we are reminded of that which was within us from the beginning.  In our example above, the chorus of singers is engaging the highest faculties of the mind in that process of finding what is “right”. The competent performer of music is consciously making comparisons in their mind and, in turn, making the appropriate decisions for the performance, almost instantaneously. The awestruck passerby is engaged in a slightly different way.  They may not be so conscious of the motion occurring in their mind but, nonetheless, the effect it has on them arouses wonder.  This is the same “powerful sense of wonder” that Kepler refers to in relaying his motivations for looking into the motions of Mars. 

In the social organizing process, it must be the same.  With the idea of creating a mass effect, the goal is to arouse that same sense of passion from within the souls of the population.  And so, we can agree with Aristotle that “all men desire to know.”  However, the evidence that we cite for this is far different from his.  For he believes that this is indicated by the “delight we take in our senses,” as if to say the lewd desire to know because they desire.  Our evidence is the response that we receive from people by evoking the passion for creativity in them, that they always knew was there!