What Phaedrus saw was that the Metaphysics of Quality avoided this attack by making it clear that the good to which truth is subordinate is intellectual and Dynamic Quality, not practicality. The misunderstanding of James occurred because there was no clear intellectual framework for distinguishing social quality from intellectual and Dynamic Quality, and in his Victorian lifetime they were monstrously confused. But the Metaphysics of Quality states that practicality is a social pattern of good. It is immoral for truth to be subordinated to social values since that is a lower form of evolution devouring a higher one.
The idea that satisfaction alone is the test of anything is very dangerous, according to the Metaphysics of Quality. There are different kinds of satisfaction and some of them are moral nightmares. The Holocaust produced a satisfaction among Nazis. That was quality for them. They considered it to be practical. But it was a quality dictated by low-level static social and biological patterns whose overall purpose was to retard the evolution of truth and Dynamic Quality. James would probably have been horrified to find that Nazis could use his pragmatism just as freely as anyone else, but Phaedrus didn't see anything that would prevent it. But he thought that the Metaphysics of Quality's classification of static patterns of good prevents this kind of debasement.
The second of James' two main systems of philosophy, which he said was independent of pragmatism, was his radical empiricism. By this he meant that subjects and objects are not the starting points of experience. Subjects and objects are secondary. They are concepts derived from something more fundamental which he described as 'the immediate flux of life which furnishes the material to our later reflection with its conceptual categories.' In this basic flux of experience, the distinctions of reflective thought, such as those between consciousness and content, subject and object, mind and matter, have not yet emerged in the forms which we make them. Pure experience cannot be called either physical or psychical: it logically precedes this distinction.
In his last unfinished work, Some Problems of Philosophy, James had condensed this description to a single sentence: 'There must always be a discrepancy between concepts and reality, because the former are static and discontinuous while the latter is dynamic and flowing.' Here James had chosen exactly the same words Phaedrus had used for the basic subdivision of the Metaphysics of Quality.
What the Metaphysics of Quality adds to James' pragmatism and his radical empiricism is the idea that the primal reality from which subjects and objects spring is value. By doing so it seems to unite pragmatism and radical empiricism into a single fabric. Value, the pragmatic test of truth, is also the primary empirical experience. The Metaphysics of Quality says pure experience is value. Experience which is not valued is not experienced. The two are the same. This is where value fits. Value is not at the tail-end of a series of superficial scientific deductions that puts it somewhere in a mysterious undetermined location in the cortex of the brain. Value is at the very front of the empirical procession.
In the past empiricists have tried to keep science free from values. Values have been considered a pollution of the rational scientific process. But the Metaphysics of Quality makes it clear that the pollution is from threats to science by static lower levels of evolution: static biological values such as the biological fear that threatened Jenner's small-pox experiment; static social values such as the religious censorship that threatened Galileo with the rack. The Metaphysics of Quality says that science's empirical rejection of biological and social values is not only rationally correct, it is also morally correct because the intellectual patterns of science are of a higher evolutionary order than the old biological and social patterns.
But the Metaphysics of Quality also says that Dynamic Quality - the value-force that chooses an elegant mathematical solution to a laborious one, or a brilliant experiment over a confusing, inconclusive one - is another matter altogether. Dynamic Quality is a higher moral order than static scientific truth, and it is as immoral for philosophers of science to try to suppress Dynamic Quality as it is for church authorities to suppress scientific method. Dynamic value is an integral part of science. It is the cutting edge of scientific progress itself.
Anyway, all this certainly answered the question of whether the Metaphysics of Quality was a foreign, cultish, deviant way of looking at things. The Metaphysics of Quality is a continuation of the mainstream of twentieth-century American philosophy. It is a form of pragmatism, of instrumentalism, which says the test of the true is the good. It adds that this good is not a social code or some intellectualized Hegelian Absolute. It is direct everyday experience. Through this identification of pure value with pure experience, the Metaphysics of Quality paves the way for an enlarged way of looking at experience which can resolve all sorts of anomalies that traditional empiricism has not been able to cope with.
Phaedrus supposed he could read on into all this James material but he doubted that he would find anything different from what he had already found. There is a time for investigation and there is a time for conclusion and he had a feeling that that latter time had come. His watch showed it was only nine-thirty but he was glad the day was done. He turned down the wick on the kerosene lamp, blew it out, placed it in its wall-holder and then settled down into the sleeping bag.
Good old sleep.
He awoke to a tugging motion. There was a low sound of wind and a lapping of water. The wind must have changed direction. He hadn't heard that for a long time. The boat was tugging a little to port, then after a time tugging back to starboard . . . and then after another long time another tug to port again . . . On and on. The portlights showed an overcast sky.
Loneliness was what he always associated with these sounds and motions of the boat. A boat out on anchor exposed to a steady wind is almost always in some lonely place, a place only boats can get to.
It was a relaxing sound. Gray skies and wind mean a kind of day when it's pleasant not to go anywhere, just putter around the cabin fixing up things that you've been putting off, studying charts and harbor guides and planning where you will be going.
Then he remembered that today he was going to go into town and try to get some food.
Then he remembered Lila. Maybe today he'd find out if she was any better.
He got out of the sleeping bag. When he put his feet down on the cabin sole he didn't get the usual shock. The cabin thermometer showed 55 degrees. Not bad.
The ocean was doing that. The lakes and canals back inland would start icing up in a month or so, but he doubted whether this water would freeze at all. The tides and currents would keep it moving. Certainly on the other side of this hook the ocean never froze, so he had escaped that danger. He could always get out. The ice couldn't get him any more.
He stepped up the ladder, pushed open the hatch and put his head out.
It was beautiful. Gray skies. South wind. Warm wind with an ocean smell in it. The other two boats that had been at anchor were gone.
The curve of the hook concealed Manhattan and Brooklyn. All he could see across the bay to the west was a barge at anchor and a high-rise apartment from another world miles away.
He suddenly felt a wild freedom.
The change in the wind had placed his boat a little closer to shore now and he noticed something he hadn't paid much attention to yesterday. The shore was piled with debris. There were plastic bottles, an old tire and, farther off, what looked like old creosoted telephone poles half buried in the sand next to a boat hull with its transom knocked out. Sandy Hook seemed like some final resting place for all the junk of civilization that had come down the Hudson River.
He looked at his watch. Nine o'clock. He'd really slept. He went back below, rolled up the sleeping bag and put away the books and slips from last night's reading. He built a new fire, noting there were only about two days of charcoal left. When the fire was going he went to the chart table and opened the second drawer down. He pulled out all the Hudson River charts, gathered them into a pile and carried them to a bin above the settee berth where he stored them. He wouldn't be needing those again. To take their place he brought out a roll of charts from Sandy Hook to Cape May and the Delaware River. At the chart table he unrolled them and studied each one.
The coast had many little criss-cross marks showing wrecks. Rigel had warned him not to get caught off the New Jersey shore in a northeaster. But it looked like an easy three days to Cape May if the weather was good, with an easy run to Manasquan Inlet and a longer one to Atlantic City.
Phffidrus folded the charts and placed them in the chart table drawer. He prepared a simple breakfast for himself, ate it, and then made one for Lila.
When he brought it in she was awake. The swelling of her face didn't seem to have gone down much but she was looking at him again, really looking at him now: making contact.
'Why is the boat swinging?' she said.
'It's all right,' he said.
'It's making me dizzy,' she said. 'Stop the boat from swinging.'
She's not only talking, he thought, she's complaining. That's real progress. 'How does that eye feel?' he asked.
'We can put hot rags on it or something.'
'Well, here's breakfast, anyway.'
'Are we at the island?'
'We're at Sandy Hook, New Jersey.'
'Where is everybody?'
'On the island,' she said.
He didn't know what she was talking about, but something told him not to ask.
'It's not an island, it's a spit of land. There's nobody here, at least on this part. Just a lot of junk lying around.'
'You know what I mean,' she said.
He sensed there was a problem coming up. If he rejected what she was telling him then she'd reject him. He didn't want that. She was trying to reach out to him now. He should try to meet her halfway.
'Well, it's almost an island,' he said.
'Richard is coming.'
She didn't say anything. He supposed she must mean Rigel. There weren't any other Richards.
'Rigel said he was going to Connecticut to sell his boat,' Phaedrus said. This is New Jersey now, so he won't be coming this way.'
'Well, I'm ready,' Lila said.
That's good,' he said. That's very good. I'm going down the road to try to find some groceries. Do you want to come along?'
'OK. You can rest here as long as you feel like,' he said. He stepped back and closed the door.
Ready for what, he wondered, as he entered the main cabin. They want to superimpose their movie on you. It's like talking to some religious nut. You can't argue with her, you've just got to find some common ground. She was sure a lot better but there was a long way to go.
He wondered if it was safe to leave her here alone. There wasn't much else he could do. It was a lot safer than at a dock where she might start to interact with people on other boats. God knows what would happen then.
The chart showed a road right next to shore here where he could hike or hitchhike about three miles south to a place called the Highlands of Navesink that might have a grocery store.
He got his billfold from a small drawer, filled it with twenties and from the wet locker by the chart table got out two canvas tote bags to carry the groceries. He said goodbye to Lila, and from the deck got down into the dinghy again and rowed ashore.
The beach seemed to be grayish fine sand. He stepped out onto the sand and pulled the dinghy way up on the beach, then tied it off to an iron spike sticking out from the end of a large driftwood pole. The junk he'd noticed from the boat was everywhere and he studied it as he walked to the road - some glass bottles, a lot of small bleached driftwood pieces worn round at the corners and ends, an innersole of a shoe, a box with a faded Budweiser label, some old cushions, a wooden toy locomotive.
He wondered if he would come across a doll like Lila's, but he didn't see any.
Farther on was a Styrofoam coffee cup, a tire, another coffee cup, some more big burned timbers with rusted steel spikes that he had to step over. It all looked worn and bleached and seemed to have drifted in from the bay, not brought by any tourists who were here. It looked too trashy here for tourists. Strange how you could be so close to Manhattan yet in such a remote rural place. It wasn't rural exactly. It wasn't anything exactly except abandoned. It was a ruins of something. The vegetation was ruins vegetation.
Back of the debris were some evergreens that looked like yews or junipers. Other bushes had only a few red leaves left. Still farther back were marsh grasses of various species, mostly gold but still a little green. They looked as pure and delicate as prehistoric plants.
Off on the far side of marsh by an abandoned day beacon stood a white egret.
Phaedrus found the road where the chart said it would be, nice asphalt, clean, deserted. He enjoyed the stretch of his legs.
The sumac here was just turning red.
Another road. How many had he hiked like this?
October was a good month for hiking.
He walked down the tree and shrub-lined road feeling sort of marvelous about the fact that somehow he was right here. Dynamic.
Lila was talking. That was an accomplishment. It showed he was on the right track.
She wasn't making much sense yet with all that talk about the island and Rigel, but that would come in time. The thing was not to force it, not to set up a confrontation. It was an intriguing idea to send someone like Lila to Samoa for a cure but it wouldn't work. What's wrong with insanity is that she's outside any culture. She's a culture of one. She has her own reality which no other culture is able to see. That's what had to be reconciled. It could be that if he just didn't give her any problems for the next few days her culture of one might just clear the whole thing up by itself.
He wasn't going to send her to any hospital. He knew that now. At a hospital they'd just start shooting her full of drugs and tell her to adjust. What they wouldn't see is that she is adjusting. That's what the insanity is. She's adjusting to something. The insanity is the adjustment. Insanity isn't necessarily a step in the wrong direction, it can be an intermediate step in a right direction. It wasn't necessarily a disease. It could be part of a cure.
He was no expert on the subject but it seemed to him that the problem of 'curing' an insane person is like the problem of 'curing' a Moslem or 'curing' a communist or 'curing' a Republican or Democrat. You're not going to make much progress by telling them how wrong they are. If you can convince a mullah that everything will be of higher value if he changes his beliefs to those of Christianity, then a change is not only possible but likely. But if you can't, forget it. And if you can convince Lila that it's more valuable to consider her 'baby' to be a doll than it is to consider her doll to be a baby, then her condition of 'insanity' will be alleviated. But not before.
That doll thing was a solution to something, some child thing, but he didn't know what it was. The important thing was to support her delusions and then slowly wean her away from them rather than fight them.
The catch here, which almost any philosopher would spot, is the word, 'delusion.' It's always the other person who's 'deluded.' Or ourselves in the past. Ourselves in the present are never 'deluded.' Delusions can be held by whole groups of people, as long as we're not a part of that group. If we're a member then the delusion becomes a 'minority opinion.'
An insane delusion can't be held by a group at all. A person isn't considered insane if there are a number of people who believe the same way. Insanity isn't supposed to be a communicable disease. If one other person starts to believe him, or maybe two or three, then it's a religion.
Thus, when sane grown men in Italy and Spain carry statues of Christ through the streets, that's not an insane delusion. That's a meaningful religious activity because there are so many of them. But if Lila carries a rubber statue of a child with her wherever she goes, that's an insane delusion because there's only one of her.
If you ask a Catholic priest if the wafer he holds at Mass is really the flesh of Jesus Christ, he will say yes. If you ask, 'Do you mean symbolically?' he will answer, 'No, I mean actually.' Similarly if you ask Lila whether the doll she holds is a dead baby she will say yes. If you ask, 'Do you mean symbolically?' she would also answer, 'No, I mean actually."
It is considered correct to say that until you understand that the wafer is really the body of Christ you will not understand the Mass. With equal force it is possible to say that until you understand that this doll is really a baby you will never understand Lila. She's a culture of one. She's a religion of one. The main difference is that the Christian, since the time of Constantine, has been supported by huge social patterns of authority. Lila isn't. Lila's religion of one doesn't have a chance.
That isn't a completely fair comparison, though. If the major religions of the world consisted of nothing but statues and wafers and other such paraphernalia they would have disappeared long ago in the face of scientific knowledge and cultural change, Phaedrus thought. What keeps them going is something else.
It sounds quite blasphemous to put religion and insanity on an equal footing for comparison, but his point was not to undercut religion, only to illuminate insanity. He thought the intellectual separation of the topic of 'sanity' from the topic of 'religion' has weakened our understanding of both.
The current subject-object point of view of religion, conventionally muted so as not to stir up the fanatics, is that religious mysticism and insanity are the same. Religious mysticism is intellectual garbage. It's a vestige of the old superstitious Dark Ages when nobody knew anything and the whole world was sinking deeper and deeper into filth and disease and poverty and ignorance. It is one of those delusions that isn't called insane only because there are so many people involved.
Until quite recently Oriental religions and Oriental cultures have been similarly grouped as 'backward,' suffering from disease and poverty and ignorance because they were sunk into a demented mysticism. If it were not for the phenomenon of Japan suddenly leaving the subject-object cultures looking a little backward, the cultural immune system surrounding this view would be impregnable.
The Metaphysics of Quality identifies religious mysticism with Dynamic Quality. It says the subject-object people are almost right when they identify religious mysticism with insanity. The two are almost the same. Both lunatics and mystics have freed themselves from the conventional static intellectual patterns of their culture. The only difference is that the lunatic has shifted over to a private static pattern of his own, whereas the mystic has abandoned all static patterns in favor of pure Dynamic Quality.
The Metaphysics of Quality says that as long as the psychiatric approach is encased within a subject-object metaphysical understanding it will always seek a patterned solution to insanity, never a mystic one. For exactly the same reasons that Choctaw Indians don't distinguish blue from green and Hindi-speaking people don't distinguish ice from snow, modern psychology cannot distinguish between a patterned reality and an unpatterned reality and thus cannot distinguish lunatics from mystics. They seem to be the same.
When Socrates says in one of his dialogues, 'Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness provided the madness is given us by divine gift,' the psychiatric profession doesn't know what in the world he is talking about. Or when traces of this identification are found in the expression 'touched in the head' meaning touched by God, the roots of this expression are ignored as ignorant and superstitious.
It's another case of the Cleveland Harbor Effect, where you don't see what you don't look for, because when one looks through the record of our culture for connections between insane understanding and religious understanding one soon finds them everywhere. Even the idea of insanity as 'possession by the Devil' can be explained by the Metaphysics of Quality as a lower biological pattern, 'the Devil,' trying to overcome a higher pattern of conformity to cultural belief.
The Metaphysics of Quality suggests that in addition to the customary solutions to insanity - conform to cultural patterns or stay locked up - there is another one. This solution is to dissolve all static patterns, both sane and insane, and find the base of reality, Dynamic Quality, that is independent of all of them. The Metaphysics of Quality says that it is immoral for sane people to force cultural conformity by suppressing the Dynamic drives that produce insanity. Such suppression is a lower form of evolution trying to devour a higher one. Static social and intellectual patterns are only an intermediate level of evolution. They are good servants of the process of life but if allowed to turn into masters they destroy it.
Once this theoretical structure is available, it offers solutions to some mysteries in the present treatment of the insane. For example, doctors know that shock treatment 'works,' but are fond of saying that no one knows why.
The Metaphysics of Quality offers an explanation. The value of shock treatment is not that it returns a lunatic to normal cultural patterns. It certainly does not do that. Its value is that it destroys all patterns, both cultural and private, and leaves the patient temporarily in a Dynamic state. All the shock does is duplicate the effects of hitting the patient over the head with a baseball bat. It simply knocks him senseless. In fact it was to imitate the effect of hitting someone over the head with a baseball bat without the risk of skull injury that Ugo Cerletti developed shock treatment in the first place.
But what goes unrecognized in a subject-object theoretical structure is the fact that this senseless unpatterned state is a valuable state of existence. Once the patient is in this state the psychiatrists of course don't know what to do with it, and so the patient often slips back into lunacy and has to be knocked senseless again and again. But sometimes the patient, in a moment of Zen wisdom, sees the superficiality of both his own contrary patterns and the cultural patterns, sees that the one gets him electrically clubbed day after day and the other sets him free from the institution, and thereupon makes a wise mystic decision to get the hell out of there by whatever avenue is available.
Another mystery in the treatment of the insane explained by a value-centered metaphysics is the value of peace and quiet and isolation. For centuries that has been the primary treatment of the insane. Leave them alone. Ironically the one thing the mental hospitals and doctors do best is the one thing they never take credit for. Maybe they're afraid some crusading journalist or other reformer will come along and say, 'Look at all those poor crazies in there with nothing to do. Inhuman treatment,' so they don't play that part of it up. They know it works, but there's no way of justifying that because the whole cultural set they have to operate in says that doing nothing is the same as doing something wrong.