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Cosmic Consciousness First Words - V
But as hinted previously, in order that a recept may be replaced by a concept it must be named, or, in other words, marked with a sign which stands for it- just as a check stands for a piece of baggage or a an entry in a ledger stands for a piece of goods; in other words, the race that is in possession of concepts is also, and necessarily, in possession of language. Further, it should be noted, as the possession of concepts implies the possession of language (which are in reality two aspects of the same thing) implies the possession of self consciousness. All this means that there is a moment in the evolution of mind when the receptual intellect, capable of simple conscious only, becomes almost or quite instantaneously a conceptual intellect in the possession of language and self consciousness.
When we say that an individual, whether an adult individual long ago or a child to-day does not matter, came into possession of concepts, of language and self consciousness in an instant, we, of course, mean that the individual came into possession of a whole language in a short time. In the history of the individual man the point in question is reached and passed at about the age of three years; in the history of the race it was reached and passed several hundred thousand years ago.
We have now, in our analysis, reached the point where we each individually stand, the point, namely, of the conceptual, self consiousness mind. In acquiring this new and higher form of consciousness it must not for a moment be supposed that we have dropped either our receptual inelligence or our old perceptual mind; as a matter of fact we could not live without these any more than could the animal who has no other mind than them. Our intellect, then, to-day is made up of a very complex mixture of percepts, recepts and concepts.
Let us now for a moment consider the concept. This may be considered as a large and complex recept; but larger and more complex than any recept. It is made up of one or more recepts combined with probably several percepts. This extremely complex recept is then marked by a sign; that is, it is named and in virtue of its name it becomes a concept. The concept, after being named or marked, is (as it were) laid away, just as a piece of checked baggage is market by its check and piled in the baggage room.
By means of this check we can send the trunk to any part of America without even seeing it or knowing just where it is at a given moment. So by means of their sign we can build concepts into elaborate calculations, into poems and into systems of philosophy, without knowing half the time anything about the thing represented by the individual concepts that we are using. And here a remark must be made aside from the main argument. It has been noticed thousands of times that the brain of a thinking man does not exceed in size the brain of a non-thinking wild man in anything like the proportion in which the mind of the thinker exceeds the mind of a savage.
The reason is that the brain of a Herbert Spencer has very little more work to do than has the brain of a native Australian, for this reason, that Spencer does all his characteristic mental work by signs or counters which stand for concepts, while the savage does all or nearly all his by means of cumbersome recepts. The savage is in a position comparable to that of the astronomer who makes his calculations by arithmetic, while Spencer is in the position of one who makes them by algebra. The first will fill many great sheets of paper with figures and go through immense labor; the other will make the same calculations on an envelope and with comparatively little mental work.
The next chapter in the story is the accumulation of concepts. This is a double process. From the age, we will say, of three years each one accumulates year by year a larger and larger number, while at the same time the individual concepts are becoming constantly more and more complex. Consider for instance the concept science as it exists in the mind of a boy and of a middle aged thinking man; with the former it stood for a few dozen or a few hundred facts; with the latter for many thousands. Is there to be any limit to this growth of concepts in number and complexity? Whoever will seriously consider that question will see that there must be a limit. No such process could go on to infinity. Should nature attempt such a feat the brain would have to grow until it could no longer be fed and a condition of deadlock be reached which would forbid further progress.
We have seen that the expansion of the perceptual mind had a necessary limit; and that its own continued life led it inevitably up to and into the receptual mind. That the receptual mind by its own growth was inevitably led up to and into the conceptual mind. A priori considerations make it certain that a corresponding outlet will be found for the conceptual mind. But we do not need to depend on an abstract reasoning to demonstrate that the necessary existence of the supra conceptual mind, since it exists and can be studied with no more difficulty than other natural phenomena, The supra conceptual intellect, the elements of which instead of being concepts are institutions, is already (in small numbers it is true) an established fact, and the form of consciousness that belongs to that intellect may be called and has been called-Cosmic Consciousness.
Thus we have four distinct stages of intellect, all abundantly illustrated in the animal and human worlds about us-all equally illustrated in the individual growth of the cosmic conscious mind and all four existing together in that mind as the first three exist together in the ordinary human mind. The four stages are first, the perceptual mind- the mind made up of percepts or sense impressions; second, the mind made up of these and recepts-the so called receptual mind, or in other words the mind of simple consciousness;
Third, we have the mind made up of percepts, recepts and concepts, called sometimes the conceptual mind or otherwise this self conscious mind-the mind of self consciousness; and fourth, and the last, we have the intuitional mind - the mind whose highest element is not a recept or a concept but an intuition. This is the mind in which sensation, simple consciousness and self consciousness are supplemented , and crowned with cosmic consciousness.
Reference: Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind: Richard Maurice Bucke