The exclusionary ‘nothing but’ should be replaced by ‘not only, but also’
Materialism and mentalism—the philosophies of ‘nothing but.’ How wearily familiar we have become with that ‘nothing but space, time, matter and motion,’ that ‘nothing but sex,’ that ‘nothing but economics’! And the no less intolerant ‘nothing but spirit,’ ‘nothing but consciousness,’ ‘nothing but psychology’—how boring and tiresome they also are! ‘Nothing but’ is mean as well as stupid. It lacks generosity. Enough of ‘nothing but.’ It is time to say again, with primitive common sense (but for better reasons), ‘not only, but also.’
Socrates was accused by his enemies of having affirmed, heretically, that the moon was a stone. He denied the accusation. All men, said he, know that the moon is a god, and he agreed with all men. As an answer to the materialistic philosophy of ‘nothing but’ his retort was sensible and even scientific. More sensible and scientific, for instance, than the retort invented by D. H. Lawrence in that strange book, so true in its psychological substance, so preposterous, very often, in its pseudo-scientific form, Fantasia of the Unconscious. ‘The moon,’ writes Lawrence, ‘certainly isn’t a snowy cold world, like a world of our own gone cold. Nonsense. It is a globe of dynamic substance, like radium or phosphorus, coagulated upon a vivid pole of energy.’ The defect of this statement is that it happens to be demonstrably untrue. The moon is quite certainly not made of radium or phosphorus. The moon is, materially, ‘a stone.’ Lawrence was angry (and he did well to be angry) with the nothing-but philosophers who insist that the moon is only a stone. He knew that it was something more; he had the empirical certainty of its deep significance and importance. But he tried to explain this empirically established fact of its significance in the wrong terms—in terms of matter and not of spirit. To say that the moon is made of radium is nonsense. But to say, with Socrates, that it is made of god-stuff is strictly accurate. For there is nothing, of course, to prevent the moon from being both a stone and a god. The evidence for its stoniness and against its radiuminess may be found in any children’s encyclopaedia. It carries an absolute conviction. No less convincing, however, is the evidence for the moon’s divinity. It may be extracted from our own experiences, from the writings of the poets, and, in fragments, even from certain textbooks of physiology and medicine.
Yet, certainly, the wise learn many things from their enemies; for caution preserves all things. From a friend you could not learn this, but your foe immediately obliges you to learn it. For example, the states have learned from enemies, and not from friends, to build lofty walls, and to possess ships of war. And this lesson preserves children, house, and possessions.
The present theory then must be considered to be a suggested program or framework for future research and must stand ...
It’s saying no.
That’s your first hint that something’s alive. It says no. That’s how you know a baby is starting to turn into a person. They run around saying no all day, throwing their aliveness at everything to see what it’ll stick to. You can’t say no if you don’t have desires and opinions and wants of your own. You wouldn’t even want to.
No is the heart of thinking.