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Authors: Arthur Koestler

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The Ghost in the Machine

BOOK: The Ghost in the Machine
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Books by Arthur Koestler
Novels
THE GLADIATORS
DARKNESS AT NOON
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
THIEVES IN THE NIGHT
THE AGE OF LONGING
THE CALL-GIRLS
Autobiography
DIALOGUE WITH DEATH
SCUM OF THE EARTH
ARROW IN THE BLUE
THE INVISIBLE WRITING
THE GOD THAT FAILED (with others)
BRICKS TO BABEL
Essays
THE YOGI AND THE COMMISSAR
INSIGHT AND OUTLOOK
PROMISE AND FULFILMENT
THE TRAIL OF THE DINOSAUR
REFLECTIONS ON HANGING
THE SLEEPWALKERS
THE LOTUS AND THE ROBOT
THE ACT OF CREATION
THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE
DRINKERS OF INFINITY
THE CASE OF THE MIDWIFE TOAD
THE ROOTS OF COINCIDENCE
THE CHALLENGE OF CHANCE
(with Sir Alister Hardy and Robert Harvie)
THE HEEL OF ACHILLES
SUICIDE OF A NATION? (ed.)
BEYOND REDUCTIONISM: THE ALPBACH SYMPOSIUM
(ed. with J. R. Smythies)
THE THIRTEENTH TRIBE
LIFE AFTER DEATH
(with Arnold Toynbee and others)
JANUS -- A SUMMING UP
Theatre
TWILIGHT BAR
Arthur Koestler
THE
GHOST
IN THE
MACHINE
---
The Danube Edition
Random House New York
Copyright © 1967, 1976 by Arthur Koestler
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright
Conventions.
Published in the United States by Random House, Inc., New York.
Originally published in Great Britain by Hutchinson & Co.
(Publishers) Ltd., London.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Koestler, Arthur, 1905-
The ghost in the machine.
(The Danube edition)
Bibliography: p.
Includes index.
1. Genetic psychology. 2. Human evolution.
I. Title.
BF711.K63 1982 150'.19 81-48284
ISBN 0-394-52472-1 AACR2
Manufactured in the United States of America
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
First American Edition
To the Fellows and Staff
1964-5
at the Centre for Advanced Study
in the Behavioural Sciences
CONTENTS
Preface xi
PART ONE
ORDER
I THE POVERTY OF PSYCHOLOGY 3
The Four Pillars of Unwisdom - The Rise of
Behaviourism - The De-Humanisation of Man -
How to Manipulate Tautologies - The Philosophy of
Ratomorphism
II THE CHAIN OF WORDS AND THE TREE OF LANGUAGE 19
The Chain - The Tree - 'What Did You Say?' - The
Postman and the Dog -' What Do You Mean By
That?' - Rules, Strategies and Feedbacks
III THE HOLON 45
The Parable of the Two Watchmakers - Enter Janus -
Social Holons - The Basic Polarity
IV INDIVIDUALS AND DIVIDUALS 59
A Note about Diagrams - Inorganic Systems - The
Organism and its Spares - The Integrative Powers of
Life
V TRIGGERS AND FILTERS 71
Triggers - How to Build a Nest - Filters
VI A MEMORY FOR FORGETTING 84
Abstractive Memory - A Speculative View - Two
Types of Memory - Picture-Strip Memory - Images
and Schemata - Learning by Rote
VII THE HELMSMAN 95
Sensory-Motor Routines - Feedbacks and Homeostasis -
Loops within Loops - A Holarchy of Holons
VIII HABIT AND IMPROVISATION 104
The Origins of Originality - The Mechanisation of
Habits - One Step at a Time - The Challenge of
Environment
PART TWO
BECOMING
IX THE STRATEGY OF EMBRYOS 115
Docility and Determination - The Genetic Keyboard
X EVOLUTION: THEME AND VARIATIONS 127
Internal Selection - The Case of the Eyeless Fly - The
Puzzle of Homology - Archetypes in Biology - The
Law of Balance - The Doppelgängers - The Thirty-Six
Plots
XI EVOLUTION CTD: PROGRESS BY INITIATIVE 151
Acting Before Reacting - Once More Darwin and
Lamarck
XII EVOLUTION CTD: UNDOING AND RE-DOING 161
Blind Alleys - Escape flora Specialisation - Draw Back
to Leap
XIII THE GLORY OF MAN 172
Forms of Self-Repair - Higher Forms of Self-Repair -
Self-Repair and Self-Realisation - Science and the
Unconscious - Association and Bisociation - The AHA
Reaction - The HAHA Reaction - Laughter and
Emotion - The AH Reaction - Art and Emotion -
The Creative Trinity
XIV THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE 197
The 'Second Law' - The Swing of the Pendulum -
The Stage and the Actors - Shifts of Control - The
Serial View - The Flatworm's Ego - A Road to
Freedom - A Sort of Maxim - The Open-Ended
Hierarchy
PART THREE
DISORDER
XV THE PREDICAMENT OF MAN 225
The Three Dimensions of Emotion - The Perils of
Aggression - The Pathology of Devotion - The Ritual
of Sacrifice - The Observer from Mars - The Cheerful
Ostrich - Integration and Identification - The Perils of
Identification - Hierarchic Awareness - Induction and
Hypnosis - Sweet Caesar's Wounds - The Structure
of Belief - The Split - The Comforts of Double-Think -
The Group Mind as a Holon
XVI THE THREE BRAINS 267
Mistakes in Brain-Making - 'A Tumorous Overgrowth'
- The Physiology of Emotion - The Three Brains -
Emotion and the Ancient Brain - 'Schizophysiology' -
A Taste of the Sun - Knowing with One's Viscera -
Janus Revisited
XVII A UNIQUE SPECIES 297
The Unsolicited Gift - Looking in Utter Darkness -
The Peaceful Primate - The Harmless Hunter - The
Curse of Language - The Discovery of Death
XVIII THE AGE OF CLIMAX 313
The Hinge of History - Two Curves - The New
Calendar - 'Tampering with Human Nature' -
Prometheus Unhinged - Mutating into the Future -
A Plea to the Phantom Reader
APPENDIX I
GENERAL PROPERTIES OF OPEN HIERARCHICAL SYSTEMS (O.H.S.)
341
APPENDIX II
ON NOT FLOGGING DEAD HORSES 349
References 355
Bibliography 359
Acknowledgements 367
Index 369
PREFACE
In a previous book,
The Act of Creation
, I discussed art and
discovery, the glory of man. The present volume ends with a discussion
of the predicament of man, and thus completes a cycle. The creativity
and pathology of the human mind are, after all, two sides of the same
medal coined in the evolutionary mint. The first is responsible for
the splendour of our cathedrals, the second for the gargoyles that
decorate them to remind us that the world is full of monsters, devils
and succubi. They reflect the streak of insanity which runs through the
history of our species, and which indicates that somewhere along the
line of its ascent to prominence something has gone wrong. Evolution has
been compared to a labyrinth of blind alleys, and there is nothing very
strange or improbable in the assumption that man's native equipment,
though superior to that of any other living species, nevertheless
contains some built-in error or deficiency which predisposes him towards
self-destruction.
The search for the causes of that deficiency starts with the Book of
Genesis and has continued ever since. Every age had its own diagnosis
to offer, from the doctrine of the Fall to the hypothesis of the Death
Instinct. Though the answers were inconclusive, the questions were still
worth asking. They were formulated in the spedtic terminology of each
period and culture, and thus it is inevitable that in our time they should
be formulated in the language of science. But, paradoxical as it sounds,
in the course of the last century science has become so dizzy with its
own successes, that it has forgotten to ask the pertinent questions --
or refused to ask them under the pretext that they are meaningless,
and in any case not the scientist's concern.
This generalisation refers, of course, not to individual scientists,
but to the dominant, orthodox trend in the contemporary sciences of life,
from evolutionary genetics to experimental psychology. One cannot hope to
arrive at a diagnosis of the predicament of man so long as one's image
of man is that of a conditioned reflex-automaton produced by chance
mutations; one cannot use a stethoscope on a slot machine. One eminent
biologist, Sir Alister Hardy, wrote recently: 'I have come to believe,
and I hope to convince you, that this present-day view of evolution
is inadequate.' [1] Another eminent zoologist, W.H. Thorpe, speaks of
'an undercurrent of thought in the minds of scores, perhaps hundreds, of
biologists over the past twenty-five years', who are sceptical regarding
the current orthodox doctrine. [2] Such heretical tendencies are equally
in evidence in the other life-sciences, from the study of genetics to
the study of the nervous system, and so to the study of perception,
language and thought. However, these diverse non-conformist movements,
each with a particular axe to grind in its particular field, do not as
yet add up to a new coherent philosophy.
In the pages that follow I have attempted to pick up these loose ends,
the threads of ideas trailing on the fringes of orthodoxy, and to weave
them into a comprehensive pattern in a unified frame. This means taking
the reader on a long and sometimes devious journey before we arrive at
our destination, the problem of man's predicament. The journey leads
through Part One, mainly concerned with psychology, and Part Two, which
is concerned with evolution; and, though it must of necessity include
excursions into domains seemingly remote from the central subject,
I hope that these may be of some interest in themselves. Perhaps some
readers, firmly entrenched on the humanist side in the cold war between
the two cultures, will be dismayed by this apparent desertion into
the enemy camp. It is embarrassing to have to repeat, over and again,
that two half-truths do not make a truth, and two half-cultures do not
make a culture. Science cannot provide the ultimate answers, but it can
provide pertinent questions. And I do not believe that we can formulate
even the simplest questions, much less arrive at a diagnosis, without
the help of the sciences of life. But it must be a true science of life,
not the antiquated slot-machine model based on the naively mechanistic
world-view of the nineteenth century. We shall not be able to ask the
right questions until we have replaced that rusty idol by a new, broader
conception of the living organism.
I was much comforted to discover that other writers who try to talk
across the frontier between the two cultures find themselves in the
same quandary. In the first paragraph of his book
On Aggression
[3]
Konrad Lorenz quotes a letter from a friend whom he had asked to read
critically through the manuscript. 'This', his friend writes, 'is the
second chapter I have read with keen interest but a mounting feeling of
uncertainty. Why? Because I ca'nnot see its exact connection with the
book as a whole. You must make this easier for me.' Should the gentle
reader of these pages occasionally feel the same reaction, all I can say
is that I have tried my best to make it easier for him. I do not think
there are many passages in this volume which he will find too technical;
but wherever that is the case, he can safely skip them and pick up the
thread further down.
While writing this book, I was greatly encouraged and helped by a
Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Study in the Behavioural Sciences
in Stanford, California. This rather unique institution, more familiarly
known as the 'Think-Tank', annually assembles fifty Fellows elected from
varied academic disciplines, and provides them, on its hill-top campus,
with the facilities for a whole year's interdisciplinary discussions and
research, free from administrative and teaching duties. This proved
a most beneficial opportunity for the clarification and testing of
ideas in workshops and seminars, attended by specialists in various
fields, ranging from neurology to linguistics. I can only hope that the
stimulation -- and friction which they generously provided in the course
of our sometimes heated discussions have not been wasted.
Some of the subjects discussed in this volume are dealt with in greater
detail in
The Act of Creation
, and in my earlier books. I have had
to quote from these fairly often; where a quotation appears in the text
without mentioning the author by name, it is from these earlier books.
* * *

 

I am very grateful to Prof. Sir Alister Hardy (Oxford), Prof. James
Jenkins (Univ. of Minnesota), Prof. Alvin Liberman (Haskins Laboratories,
New York) and Dr. Paul MacLean (N.I.M.H., Bethesda) for their critical
reading of parts of the manuscript; and to Prof. Ludwig v. Bertalanffy
(Univ. of Alberta), Prof. Holger Hydèn (Univ. of Goeteborg), Prof. Karl
Pribram (Stanford Univ.), Prof. Paul Weiss (Rockefeller Institute) and
L.L. Whyte (C.A.S., Wesleyan Univ.) for many stimulating discussions on
the subject of this book.
BOOK: The Ghost in the Machine
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