An excerpt from Conversation: A New Theory of Language by Carl H. Flygt
“We have found Goethe depicting conversation as the art of arts. If it is indeed such, and we aspire to it, what does its practice require of us? Surely no amount of inspired groping will suffice. Techniques of a very special order must be cultivated.”
The present theory of conversation, which is politically and morally Kantian, was inspired by Marjorie Spock’s beautiful anthroposophical essay, The Art of Goethean Conversation (1983). Miss Spock’s intuition is, moreover, an explicit tribute to the work and legacy of the anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner, whose clairvoyant vision took practical shape in a large number of fields including education, medicine, architecture, agriculture, speech, drama and social science. Anthroposophy, meaning wisdom of the human being, is a term coined by the Kantian philosopher and idealist Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814), and holds in one form or another that all of the forces and dispositions of the cosmos itself are arrayed for the apparent purpose of producing human experience and the human form. On this view, human consciousness is a necessary consequence of the way the cosmos, most of which lies outside the range of the human sensorium, is put together.
Generally speaking, Steinerian anthroposophists possess all the intellectual and spiritual concepts necessary to implement my theory of conversation, and in a way the theory was written for them. But I think the theory has relevance outside explicit anthroposphical circles, and can be applied in any New Age community committed on the one hand to meditation or some systematic holotropic practice and on the other hand to some degree of social organization and communicative action. In short, my theory can and must, if I am correct in my basic assumptions, be used by any social group trying to establish a causal link between a spiritually active life in the astral body and a cosmically harmonious and beautiful spiritual condition in the outer world.
The current theory also aspires to the standards of logic, rigor and formal reasoning set by modern analytic philosophy, which in the catastrophic political wake of Hegel and Marx has been narrowly concerned with problems of language and mathematics, especially with the problems of linquistic meaning, logical inference, and material reference. Particularly germane is the logical materialism of John R. Searle (b. 1932), who appears intent on pushing biologism as far into consciousness and language as it will go. This will, I think, turn out to be very far indeed, because according to my best guess, both logical materialism and biologism are true theories. I am as committed as Searle is to discovering a material basis for consciousness and, I think it follows, for the astral body.
It needs to be recorded, however, that I find the social and aesthetic implications of Searle’s textbook positions on science and consciousness abhorrent, basically because they lack encouragement and hope for the spark of individual cosmic divinity. Searle is a materialist, a positivist who thinks human spirituality, if the term represents anything real at all, is just a systematic illusion of the brain, and will be understood in terms of biological processes and ultimately the atomic theory of matter. But such an illusion, however necessary from a practical point of view, would on Searle’s view lack the dignity, respect and legitimacy due either a natural or a supernatural phenomenon. Unlike lightening and thunder for example, which command the respect of everyone witnessing them because they are actual cosmic events, spiritual consciousness, including incarnation, spiritual experience and excarnation, would turn out to be a mere human construction, and contrary to all appearances and efforts to believe otherwise, not cosmic at all.
Fortunately, thanks to the structure of human freedom, it would appear to be a matter of simple preference whether we are to accept and to build a world like Searle’s, which is essentially dead, earthbound and ruled exclusively with mere chains of mechanical (albeit intelligent) causes, or whether we opt for an environment filled exclusively with the cosmic surprise, power and magic of spiritual causes. The present theory, if it withstands the scrutiny of contemporary culture, including the scrutiny of modern materialism, is intended to parlay that preference into an actual choice. One’s choice of conversational style, and the company one keeps as a result, will disclose to everyone who cares to investigate which choice one has made.
The pragmatic position I hold therefore has serious institutional consequences, and great responsibility must be exercised in pursuing these consequences. Western society is currently immersed in a tidal wave of unreflective technological and material success, much of which is demoralizing and stupifying to the spiritual and holotropic impulses of the ordinary individual. The leveling of individual consciousness and aspiration through the market economy, the equalization of the sexes by means of technology and cultural politics, and the suppression of individual genius through the advent of improved methods of communication and information processing are pointing us toward a technocratic, godless and highly engineered future in which spiritual functions are adapted to lifestyle preferences, and not vice versa. I wish to hold modern institutions, and particularly our use of language, accountable for this backward and unappealing trajectory.
What Western society needs more than anything, I think, is a meta-university. We need to fund individuals of talent and commitment who are able clairvoyantly to study the research, the attitudes and the politics of the modern university, from which much of this unreflective success devolves, and to make insightful judgments about them. In that way, society can always remain free of the creations, television programming for example, which may threaten to deaden it or lead it to spiritually stultifying background practices, the mindset of private property for example, from which there is no easy escape. The conversational model I am proposing here, which is a model for a rigorous science of free, clairvoyant and socially adjusted individuals, can serve as the basis for the language spoken in this meta-university.
Be that as it may, the current iteration of this theory (there will undoubtedly be future iterations), in addition to its Kantian spirit, follows the philosophy of John Searle substantially in outline. From the basic theory of speech acts, to the general theory of action, to the theory of intentionality and intentional states, to mind-brain identity, to rationality and rational action, to the general theory of institutional reality, to the collective acceptance of institutional power, the theory is basically Searle’s. It is intended to be a fair, if simplified restatement of Searle’s commonsense and materialist views on these crucial topics. Suffice it to say that this, the first naturalistic theory of conversation ever proposed, is a Searlean-Kantian analysis of human communication, both materially and formally conceived, with the added condition, for whatever it is worth, of literal spiritual or occult enlightenment.