How.We associate

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We associate

In much of life, we habitually project boundaries onto the world and our lives in it and stuff objects and our experience with them into these containers. Similarities and identities then become what matters. These take on various auras of valence and significance. It all serves as an economical way to respond to the complexities of experience. Economical, but not necessarily conducive to clear thinking and judging.

Actually cognition relies on extensive networks of interconnected nodes with the connections for many rather sparse and for some quite concentrated. Cognitive researchers have made some progress in describing the operation of these networks at the cellular level, but the means of observation do not penetrate with sufficient precision and dynamism to inventory operations at the molecular and atomic levels to chart what, if anything, is taking place there. Where do these observations leave us?

I think it is fair to say that associative think emerges in the processes of study in a productive, meaningful sense. Yet, we do not, and cannot within the foreseeable future, initiate or control that emergence predictably. Instead we need to hold ourselves in active readiness to note and follow up its emergence. For this purpose, we do well to attend closely to wise observers stating conviction fully aware of its uncertainty—what they believe, via reflection or intuition, must be the case despite the grounds for it being beyond the scope of what they recognize as securely knowable. Life is ripe with evident matters that must be, or have been, or will be, despite our inability to know them. It is neither irrational nor unwarranted to take them into account, cautiously as best we can.

  • -- to be concluded soon. . . .