How to Use Your Nous

How to Use Your Nous

by A. E. I. Falconar
Maughold, Isle of Man: Non-Aristolelian Publishing, 1987, 1997. Pp. ii+30.

Nous is a word borrowed from Greek, rare in American L1SC, but more common in British, where it is usually pronounced to rime with mouse, rather than with moose, as in American use. It means "intelligence" (though the British often use it to mean "gumption, common sense"), and H. P. Blavatsky used it specifically in the sense of "buddhi."

This booklet proposes and correlates several approaches to being "nousful," that is, having an intuitive, nonrational, but very practical insight into the nature of things. One of those is Krishnamurti's teachings on self-realization. Another is Alfred Korzybski's General Semantics, which offers a number of practical suggestions for coping with the world, such as remembering that the name of a thing is not the thing itself, so the word rose is not after all a rose. That may seem obvious, but every day we for, get that principle and respond to the labels we put on things rather than to the things themselves, a process called stereotyping. So we think that all Chinese are inscrutable, or all Italians are great singers, or all Indians are spiritual, or all Americans are materialistic. (Or, as H. L. Mencken remarked, an idealist is one who believes that because a rose smells better than a cabbage, it also makes better soup.)

Korzybski's techniques, called non-Aristotelian thinking, are properly supplemental rather than alternative ways of dealing with the world. Aristotle's logic (which holds that nothing is both A and nor-A, everything is either A or not-A, etc.) is not absolutely wrong; it is just not absolutely right. It: is right part of the time, for particular purposes, but it is not right all of the time for all purposes, as the Buddhist logicians knew, as well as Korzybski. Indeed, Falconar also cites Zen koans and Tibetan visual meditations as alternative ways o dealing with non-Aristotelian reality, along with poetry and mysticism.

This booklet usefully correlates a number of seemingly unrelated techniques to cope with the world, especially Korzybski's, whose approach is sometimes thought to be anti-mystical, but only when mysticism is misunderstood as opposed to empiricism or phenomenology. In fact, the mystic is radically empirical and phenomenological.


July 1997