The Tree of Knowledge

“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden as its gardener, to tend and care for it. But the Lord God gave the man this warning: You may eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the Tree of Conscience – for its fruit will open your eyes to make you aware of right and wrong, good and bad. If you eat its fruit, you will be doomed to die.”

And that warning, dear fellow workers, tolled like a giant bell across the last ten thousand years of human history, arresting in its tracks the advancement of science until the 17th century. Between any weekly issue of Science in 2014  and, let’s say, its counterpart in 1814, is a divide so vast it is scarcely measureable. What is the divide between the leading science journal of 1814 and 1614, when Sir Francis Bacon spelled out scientific empiricism?

1614! That’s it. The year Shakespeare left The Old Globe. Okay, maybe he left a year earlier.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

“Not science, but not bad! What about the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome? The Pyramids, the Sphinx, the 3,000 years of Egyptian civilization? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Or the other six of The Seven Wonders? Can’t leave out The Great Wall of China, the only man-made structure visible to the naked eye, if you happen to be standing on the moon.”

– Not bad and not science! You know what took 10,000 years to crawl out of the woodwork?

The individual.

Science begins with one creative mind. Then, as Thomas Kuhn described, a Work-Group, indispensable, explores unanticipated and uncovenanted consequences of this “new thing under the sun.” When I first read Freud, I was staggered by his originality. Without that creative mind, no psychoanalysis. Subsequently, hundreds of brilliant, intuitive therapists formed Work Groups, practicing Normal Science, that is, developing Freud’s ideas. The same with Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion. A genius at full power rises on a Day of Creation. The Work Group circles that day on the calendar.

The apple Eve gave Adam to eat came from the Tree of Conscience, (in the King James version, The Tree of Kowledge of Good and Evil). Pro-Lifers eat from the Tree of Conscience.

Before writing the next two paragraphs, I picked the finest apple from The Tree of Knowledge I could find and munched it happily. I brought each of you one, just as luscious and shiny. Munch it slowly as together we unhorse the Fifth Rider of The Apocalypse. This is the deep structure of the madness of the Pro-Lifers.

Conscience is a group phenomenon. Its entire concern is not what is true and real, but on the problem of good and evil. It splits the world in two, one bad, the other good. Objectivity goes out the window. The common sense world, the one registering on our five senses, disappears. A manufactured moral system eclipses reality.

Conscience gives rise to moral mania.  This casts a great darkness over the real world, which disappears in a Stygian blackout. Facts vanish, leaving nothing to think about. Moral mania obliterates judgment. It disregards experience. It unleashes a gang of maniacs bound together by the power of moral certitude. John Adams noted, “Power always believes itself right, and that it is doing God’s service, when it is violating all His Laws.” Wilfred described moral mania as a moral system without any morals.

The Fifth Rider of The Apocalypse eats from The Tree of Conscience, not from The Tree of Knowledge. It is he who saddles the other Four. It is he who armors Pro Lifers in righteousness, whipping their thinking disorder into full gallup to spread immeasureable suffering across the land.

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