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PersonalityTechnical Thought

This is a summary of technical thought from an unusual perspective. I recently had a conversation with some Fundamentalist Baptists. I have read previously about what they teach and practice, but this conversation helped me to understand their underlying motivation. In brief, it appears that the fundamentalist Baptist is using the same kind of technical thinking that is emphasized by mathematics and analytic philosophy. Whenever one discovers that the same kind of thought is being used by vastly different groups, then this is very helpful for clarifying how the mind functions.

Mental symmetry suggests that the mind can function in one of three manners: technical thought, normal thought, and mental networks. Mental networks are collections of emotional memories that function as integrated units, using emotional pressure to impose their structure upon the mind when they are triggered. Personal identity, culture, and motivation are rooted in mental networks. Mental networks are described in another essay. Normal thought uses analogies and similarities to look for patterns as well as build connections between one context and another. It is called normal thought because it is the type of semi-rigorous, semi-rational thinking that one normally uses throughout the day.

Technical thought is a form of thinking that emerges when Contributor thought takes control of the mind and limits thinking to some specific context. Technical thought has the following characteristics:

1) It restricts thinking to some specific context. Contributor thought has the ability to concentrate upon a context, ignoring whatever lies outside of this context. It is typical for the Contributor person to be an expert within chosen areas of expertise while remaining ignorant in other areas.

2) It uses a combination of Perceiver facts and Server sequences. Contributor combines Perceiver and Server. Concrete technical thought becomes possible when Server actions are added to Perceiver facts. This combination leads to a sense of cause-and-effect, in which Perceiver thought builds connections between Mercy experiences that are connected through time by Server sequences. Abstract technical thought becomes possible when Perceiver meanings are added to Server sequences of words. Concrete technical thought cannot exist without connections of cause-and-effect, and abstract technical thought cannot exist without precise meanings.

3) It works with specific connections, and not general observations. Contributor thought builds connections between specific Perceiver facts and specific Server sequences. For instance, if a Contributor person is told something in general terms, then the response will often be, “Give me a specific example.” This is not like Exhorter thought, which builds vague relationships between Mercy experiences and Teacher theories.

4) It uses Perceiver facts and Server sequences that are sufficiently well known, and treats them as if they can be known with total certainty. Perceiver thought and Server thought work with partial certainty, and Perceiver confidence in facts, as well as Server confidence in sequences, grows gradually as facts and sequences are repeated. Contributor thought, in contrast, accesses Perceiver facts and Server sequences from ‘next door’. Information will only be accepted by technical thought after it is tested, and once it passes the test, then it will be accepted as completely true.

5) It likes to measure. That is because a measurement is a form of precise definition, and measuring some quantity turns it into a fact or sequence that is known with certainty. For instance, a ‘pinch of salt’ is a vague term that is unclear. Technical thought will replace this vague definition with the more precise ‘1/16 of a teaspoon’.

6) It is guided by a limited set of Perceiver facts and Server sequences that define ‘the rules of the game’. Technical thought manipulates information guided by a set of fundamental principles. The connection with game rules is more than an analogy, because a game is an example of technical thought, and every game has a set of clearly defined rules that indicate what is or is not permitted.

7) It uses chains of reasoning to reach conclusions that can be known with total certainty. Because technical thought works with ‘building blocks’ that are assumed to be totally solid, technical thought can also reach conclusions with total certainty by manipulating these building blocks according to the rules. Thus, abstract technical thought will prove conclusions by following chains of reasoning, and concrete technical thought will construct plans by assembling chains of cause-and-effect. Once a conclusion has been proven, then abstract technical thought will know with certainty that this conclusion is valid. Similarly, once a plan has been formed and all of the various chains of possible cause-and-effect have been considered, then concrete technical thought will know with certainty that this plan is valid.

8) It is based upon a set of assumed axioms. Every system of technical thought is based upon a set of initial assumptions that cannot be proven by using technical thought. Thus, technical thought, by its very nature, is built upon a foundation that is provided by other forms of thought.

9) It is driven by an emotional bottom line to be the best. For abstract technical thought, the emotional bottom line is provided by the TMN of some general theory or paradigm. For concrete technical thought, the emotional bottom line comes from some MMN which acts as the goal. Thus, technical thought excels at bringing improvements to some specific context.

10) It uses emotional belittling to ignore that which lies outside of or questions the area of expertise. Technical thought by its very nature works within some limited context, and the knowledge of the technical expert is usually limited to the realm of this area of expertise. But technical thought is also emotionally motivated to be the best. Therefore, even though technical thought is highly rational when working within an area of expertise, and even though technical thought gives the impression that it is always highly rational, the natural tendency is for technical thought to turn emotional when encountering information outside of the area of expertise, and to treat it as worthless and meaningless. Similarly, the technical expert often uses personal status as a recognized expert within an area of expertise to make pronouncements outside of this area of expertise.

The characteristics that have been mentioned so far describe how technical thought functions within the mind of an individual. The remaining characteristics describe what naturally occurs when a group of people who use technical thought get together.

11) Technical thought is policed by a group of experts, usually Contributor persons, who ensure that everything that happens within this context meets accepted standards of technical expertise. This policing applies to both information and people. Information will only be accepted after it has been tested, and people will only be accepted as experts within the field after they have been accredited in some official manner.

12) A group of people that is using technical thought within some field will naturally reject normal thought, or attempt to treat it as technical thought. That is because technical thought begins by tightening the semi-rigorous thinking of normal thought. As technical thought continues to be used in some field, the characteristics of technical thought itself will naturally become regarded as fundamental ‘rules of the game’ that must be followed. Therefore, technical thought will become guided by the basic rule that one must use technical thought, and normal thought will become rejected as inherently invalid because it is not technical thought, and those who use normal thought will then be rejected as inherently worthless because they do not use technical thought. If technical thought is forced to include normal thought, then it will try to define normal thought in a manner that meets the standards of technical thought, which will end up turning normal thought into technical thought, because technical thought begins by limiting and clarifying the thinking of normal thought. And because there is a natural tendency for the expert within some technical field to make pronouncements outside of this field, technical thought will naturally try to squeeze all of existence into some limited subset of technical thought. Using an analogy, there will be a natural tendency for the expert in the game of hockey to treat all of life as if it is a game of hockey.

While technical thought often officially disparages normal thought, in practice, technical thought is forced to coexist with normal thought. First, normal thought is used to expand technical thought. Normal thought looks for patterns and similarities. A technical theory can be expanded by noticing that something else behaves in a similar manner. For instance, Isaac Newton noticed that an object thrown through the air on earth behaves the same way as a moon traveling around a planet or a planet orbiting a sun. The same technical equations can be used to describe situations that, at first glance, appear to be quite different. Second, normal thought provides the context for technical thought. Reality is too complicated to be squeezed within the box of some technical theory. Therefore, most normal activity is guided by the partial knowledge and partial certainty of normal thought. In order to use technical thought, one must first restrict attention to some limited aspect of reality and then analyze a simplified version of some limited aspect of reality. This limiting and simplifying occurs, for instance, whenever solving a problem in physics.

13) People who are using technical thought will naturally acknowledge the emotions of mental networks. That is because technical thought is motivated by mental networks. The emotions that are generated by mental networks provide the fuel that drives the mental vehicle of technical thought; without this fuel, the vehicle will not go anywhere. This need for emotional fuel leads to a paradox for technical thought, because emotions are typically regarded as irrational while technical thought epitomizes rational thought. Therefore, technical thought will usually avoid discussing emotions explicitly while implicitly assuming that everyone is motivated by emotions. (The long-term solution is to be emotionally guided by a set of mental networks that encapsulate the thinking of rational thought. Mental networks then become a shortcut to rational thought that usually works, as illustrated by the thinking of the expert.)

For instance, the bottom line of economics is the emotion of personal desire: Economics is based in supply and demand. A product or service is in demand because people want this product or service, but want is rooted in emotion. However, emotions cannot be measured. Therefore, economics focuses upon some objective form of rational bottom line such as money.

Another example of the juxtaposition of emotions and rational thought can be found in mysticism. It is common for the Contributor or Facilitator person to have a mystical experience and then be motivated by the resulting mental network to use technical thought to attempt to analyze this mystical experience. This leads to an explicit paradox, because a mystical experience requires words with vague meanings while technical thought requires words with precise meanings. The end result is that technical thought will be emotionally motivated to write many words with precise meanings about mystical experiences while emphasizing that these words are only like fingers pointing at the moon, and that one must go ‘beyond logic’ to have a mystical experience.

14) A field that uses technical thought will naturally regard technical thought as a superior form of thinking. Technical thought is naturally driven to improve and optimize. Therefore, once the characteristics of technical thought become established as the basic rules of the game, then technical thought will view technical thought as an improved and optimized version of human intelligence. And because the expert naturally makes pronouncements outside of the field, technical thought will feel that it is its mission to bring all of human existence up to the standards of technical thought. Technical experts will broadcast to the normal population the impression that only technical thought is valuable and that all other forms of thought need to become valuable by becoming more like technical thought, and technical experts will use their societal status as experts within a field as a basis for declaring technical thought to be a superior form of human intelligence.

The final point looks at the mental foundation for technical thought and returns us to the original topic of the Fundamentalist Baptist.

15) Technical thought can work equally well with information acquired through careful observation or information acquired through blind faith. Contributor combines Perceiver and Server. A fact describes a set of connections, and Perceiver thought gains confidence in some fact when it notices these connections being repeated. Similarly, Server thought gains confidence in a sequence when it notices this sequence being repeated. As confidence grows, the ability to handle emotional pressure without losing confidence in facts or sequences also grows. However, both Perceiver thought and Server thought can also be overwhelmed by emotional pressure. Because we live in a physical world of emotional experiences, it is common for Perceiver thought to be overwhelmed by emotional pressure from MMNs (Mercy mental networks). When Perceiver thought is overwhelmed by the strong emotions of a MMN that represents some important person, then this leads to blind faith, and Perceiver thought will believe that facts which come from this esteemed source are true. For instance, “ Doctor Reverend Smith says that the moon is made of green cheese. This must be true because Doctor Reverend Smith is a very important and learned person.” Using an analogy, blind faith looks at the address on an envelope rather than opening up the envelope and reading the letter inside. Similarly, Server thought can also be overwhelmed by the strong emotions associated with some person, leading to blind obedience. Instead of believing some fact because it comes from an esteemed source, some action will be done because of instructions given by an esteemed source.

Technical thought acquires its facts and sequences indirectly from Perceiver and Server thought. Technical thought will combine Perceiver facts and Server sequences through chains of reasoning, but this reasoning assumes that the facts and sequences that were acquired from Perceiver and Server thought are sufficiently solid. What matters to technical thought is that information is solid, and not how this information became solid. Careful observation acquires solid Perceiver facts and Server sequences by looking for connections and sequences that are repeated. Blind faith acquires solid Perceiver facts by believing truth that comes from an esteemed expert, and blind obedience acquires solid Server sequences by following instructions that come from an esteemed expert. Both work equally well as building blocks for technical thought.

Saying this another way, technical thought can only guarantee that one is manipulating information in a rigorous manner. It cannot make any guarantees about whether this information is valid or how this information will be applied. For instance, the fundamentalist Christian believer acquires Perceiver facts through blind faith in the Bible, but may then use technical thought to manipulate these blind facts. Similarly, the postmodern analytic philosopher uses technical thought to discuss systems of morality and philosophy, but treats these as isolated systems that have nothing to do with reality or personal ethics.

For the Fundamentalist Baptist, the set of facts is acquired through blind faith in the Bible. The biblical text provides the set of foundational Perceiver facts and Server sequences that guide the thinking and behavior of the Fundamentalist Baptist. Anything that is not based upon the biblical text is regarded as an inferior form of thought. The Bible was originally written in Greek and Hebrew. However, translating from the original languages into English (or some other language) provides an ambiguity in meaning, and technical thought requires meanings they are sufficiently precise. When Perceiver facts and Server sequences are acquired through repetition, then confidence in information can be increased by looking for more occurrences of these facts or sequences. However, when Perceiver belief is based in emotional status, then multiple sources decrease certainty rather than increasing it, because one is not certain which source to follow. Therefore, blind faith will increase certainty by looking toward one source rather than multiple sources. For the Fundamentalist Baptist, the King James Version is viewed as the authoritative source of biblical truth, even though it is a translation of the original source which was written in Greek (and Hebrew). That is because having a single accepted English text of the Bible provides the certainty that technical thought demands. If it is pointed out that the King James Version is a translation and not the original, the Fundamentalist Baptist will state as a basic principle of faith that the King James Version was established by God as an official version, and that every language has its own official translation that can also be regarded as authoritatively established by God. This demonstrates how the total certainty of technical thought is built upon an assumed foundation.

Technical thought leads to a set of well-defined rules that guide thought and behavior. Similarly, the Fundamentalist Baptist is guided by a set of well-defined rules and regulations. These rules and regulations are policed by experts in the field. Similarly, one of the fundamental principles in a Fundamentalist Baptist congregation is accountability and church discipline, in which the rules of the church are enforced by experts of the church through church discipline. Technical thought likes to measure, because measuring brings certainty. Thus, the rules of the church will tend to be stated in measurable terms so that one can know for certain whether one is following a rule or violating it.

Technical thought spends its time manipulating, rearranging, and improving information within some specific context. Similarly, the Fundamentalist Baptist is continually going to ‘Bible studies’ and ‘Bible conferences’ where the biblical text is discussed and preached. Technical thought rejects anything that lies outside of the realm of expertise as inferior and worthless. Similarly, the Fundamentalist Baptist believes that the Christian church is only composed of churches that practice the fundamentalist version form of technical thought. The primary reason given for rejecting other churches is their ambiguity: “How can one attend a church where so many people in the church disagree on so many doctrines?” Cognitively speaking, Fundamentalist Baptists reject other churches because other churches practice normal thought and not technical thought.

The totality of this conclusion needs to be emphasized. Fundamentalist Baptists do not just regard non-fundamentalist Baptist churches as inferior. Instead, other denominations are regarded as invalid and fake versions of church. This is like the analytic philosopher who does not just regard non-technical thought as inferior but rather rejects it as an invalid and fake form of human intelligence. (Not all analytic philosophers are this adamant. However, logical positivism is quite blatant in its rejection of non-technical thought as inherently invalid.)

The Fundamentalist Baptist emphasizes the clarity and emotion that comes from working together with a group of people who know with total certainty the same facts about God and salvation. The current secular world is guided by a desire to make normal thought more like technical thought, by defining, policing, and improving standards of specialization. In more and more areas, one can only practice within a field after attending and passing courses that are officially accredited by the experts of this field, and when one practices within a field then one’s behavior is continually policed to make sure that it meets accepted professional standards. Similarly, the Fundamentalist Baptist is driven by a desire to share the ‘superior’ technical version of fundamentalist Christianity with the rest of the world in order to gain, disciple, and police converts.

While technical thought is naturally suspicious of normal thought, it is driven by emotions. Fundamentalist Baptists emphasize Christian fervor and devotion. The goal is not just to follow the rules of the church but rather to follow them with great devotion. One should not just preach a sermon but instead one should preach with fervor. One does not just attend church, but rather one enthusiastically attends church many times a week, even if one has to drive several hours to find a ‘legitimate’ church.

Male thought tends to use technical thought while female thought naturally focuses upon mental networks. This is a general bias that is modified by cognitive style, education, and upbringing. As a result, emphasizing technical thought will naturally lead to a male-dominated culture. Thus, Fundamentalist Baptists place a major emphasis upon Ephesians 5:22, which says “Wives, be subject to your own husbands”, as well as 1 Corinthians 14:34-35: “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” However, Fundamentalist Baptists also emphasize practicing technical thought with emotional fervor, which means that a wife will be expected to fulfill the role of supporting her husband with enthusiasm.

These two passages are typically regarded in most Christian circles as either a principle that applied historically to the time of Paul, or as a quaint relic of the past. However, I suggest that they make sense when applied to male and female thought rather than male and female people. Viewed this way, Ephesians 5:22 says that it is important for the mental networks of female thought to submit to the rational thinking of male thought. This is an important principle because the childish mind is naturally driven by mental networks that are not rational, and these childish mental networks need to be transformed by rational understanding. Similarly, as Ephesians 5:25-26 states, the goal of rational thought should be to construct mental networks that are expressions of rational thought. The end result, as mentioned earlier, is that mental networks become shortcuts to rational thinking. (This relates to dual process theory, but I suggest that dual process theory only describes how technical thought and mental networks naturally interact rather than how they can interact in the transformed mind.) Similarly, 1 Corinthians 14 says that church should not be primarily an expression of mental networks, but rather that mental networks should be placed within a framework of rational thought. This leads to a concept of church that is somewhat different than how is typically viewed today, because religion is popularly defined as behavior motivated by irrational mental networks. (And in current society women are naturally more religious than men.) This interpretation is consistent with the previous verses (26-33), which describe church as a place of order and structure in which people build each other up.

While technical thought is officially guided by the goal of ‘expanding the body of knowledge’ or ‘improving personal life’, it actually spends most of its time hammering out technical details. Using the language of Thomas Kuhn, the average scientist spends most of his career ‘solving puzzles’ and not coming up with general hypotheses. Similarly, the Fundamentalist Baptist may be officially guided by the goal of ‘learning more about God’ or ‘bringing salvation to people’, but a massive amount of time will be taken hammering out the technical details of doctrinal beliefs and moral rules. Going further, when a focus upon technical details is combined with a need to enforce technical standards and exclude those who do not live up to these standards, then technical thought will naturally subdivide into many distinct specializations that regard each other with suspicion, based upon differences that the layman would regard as insignificant. Similarly, the Fundamentalist Baptist world is subdivided into many fiercely independent congregations that often regard each other with suspicion, based upon differences that the layman would regard as insignificant.

Official accreditation is important to technical thought, because it is a way of applying technical thought to those who use technical thought. Technical thought wants clearly defined rules that lead to clearly defined conclusions. Similarly, official accreditation establishes clearly defined procedures for determining with certainty who is and is not permitted to practice technical thought within some field. For the Fundamentalist Baptist, baptism and communion are used to officially accredit someone as a legitimate Christian. In order to be eligible as a believer, a person must experience adult baptism by immersion. And the right to partake of communion is strictly limited to those who are officially members of an officially recognized legitimate church.

Technical thought, by its very nature, leads to expertise within some limited area combined with ignorance outside of that area. Similarly, the average Fundamentalist Baptist does not read widely. There is extensive knowledge about officially accepted authors and topics. But the Fundamentalist Baptist does not feel that it is either necessary or possible to learn religious truth from experts outside of the officially recognized church.

I am quite certain that both the academic and the Fundamentalist Baptist would be quite offended at being compared with one another. If one compares the content being used by the scientist with the content of the Fundamentalist Baptist, then there is a major difference. Science is officially based upon empirical evidence, while Fundamentalist Baptists are officially based upon faith in the Bible as interpreted by accepted experts. However, while science may initially acquire its facts through careful observation of natural processes, the next generation of scientists will be taught primarily through faith in official textbooks and obedience to academic procedure, as interpreted by accepted scientific experts. The scientist can transcend this mindset by going beyond the textbook, the institution, and the expert to direct observation of the natural world. But postmodern questioning increasingly doubts the very existence of natural law and universal natural processes. The end result is that academia becomes increasingly a version of fundamentalist religious belief, as typified by the Fundamentalist Baptist, because it no longer has a way of testing or questioning the fundamentalist dogma of officially accepted scientific belief.

If one compares the mindset being used by the scientist with the mindset of the Fundamentalist Baptist, then one notices many similarities, because both appear to be using the same kind of mental processing. The rules of the game may be quite different, but both are using technical thought to regard fundamental issues as a form of game played on a limited field with clearly defined rules.

This is a significant statement because one typically views science as secular and church as religious. However, I suggest that this is not the most fundamental division. One of the core problems of modern Western thought is that technical thought is regarded as the only valid form of acquiring knowledge and expertise. One sees this evident within the secular realm of academia and professional life. But one also sees the same core problem in the thinking of Fundamentalist Baptists, which the average academic would utterly reject as failing to meet the technical standards demanded by academic thought. Similarly, the Fundamentalist Baptist thinks the same way as the typical academic, even though the Fundamentalist Baptist is highly suspicious of ‘secular humanism’ and would regard the typical academic as destined for hell and eternal damnation.

This leads to the following basic question: Is God functioning at the level of religious versus secular, or is God functioning at a deeper level of technical thought versus mental wholeness. I recently discovered that the book of Revelation makes sense as a single connected sequence at the deeper level of reaching mental wholeness. A mental concept of incarnation forms when abstract technical thought is integrated with concrete technical thought. (This is analyzed in detail elsewhere.) In Revelation 5, no one is regarded as worthy of opening the book except for incarnation as expressed through the Lamb. Revelation 6 – 9 describes how society progresses when Contributor-controlled technical thought is regarded as the only valid form of knowledge. Academia is a secular expression of this fixation upon technical thought, while Fundamentalist Baptists follow a religious expression of this same fixation. These are by no means the only expressions, but they are blatant expressions, and they are expressions of technical thought that would regard each other as worthy of excommunication. Revelation 6 – 9 does not succeed in fully transforming society, but it lays the foundation for Revelation 10, in which a general theory is developed that bridges the ‘sea’ of subjective experience with the ‘earth’ of rational thought, and Revelation 13 – 19 describes the successful process of imposing this universal understanding upon society. In other words, it appears that God is functioning at the deeper level of going beyond technical knowledge to mental wholeness, and society will only be transformed when of human thought goes beyond technical knowledge to mental wholeness.

Mental wholeness does not negate technical knowledge but rather places the specializations of technical thought and the emotional fixations of mental networks within a larger structure of life and wholeness. Similarly, it is possible to place both Christianity and scientific thought within an integrated, rational understanding of life and wholeness. This is described in Natural Cognitive Theology. This does not mean that the Bible which the Fundamentalist Baptist worships is wrong. Instead, it means that the Bible is not just a collection of technical rules but rather an accurate description of universal principles of life and wholeness. Revelation 20 appears to describe the transition to basing personal existence upon universal principles of life, because in this chapter, the ‘book of life’ becomes the ultimate standard by which everyone is judged.

Saying this more simply, it appears that God is not trying to save secular scientists by turning them into Fundamentalist Baptists. Instead, God is trying to transform both secular scientists and Fundamentalist Baptists into mentally whole individuals. Instead of being ruled by some book of technical specialization, one’s name needs to be written in the book of life (Rev. 20:15). A name extends beyond rules to personal character, and the book of life goes beyond technical doctrines to mental wholeness—life.