To array perception across billions of subjectivities

Bertrand Russell says, “Language sometimes conceals the complexity of a belief. We say that a person believes in God, and it might seem as if God formed the whole content of the belief. But what is really believed is that God exists, which is far from being simple. . . . In like manner all cases where the content of a belief seems simple at first sight will be found, on examination, to confirm the view that the content is always complex” (Russell, Analysis of Mind, 236). This good atheist, despite his contempt for religion, proceeds by introspection, by observation of the processes of his mind as a means of understanding the human mind, and with a delight in the workings of language he assumes his audience is bright enough to share. His rejection of religion is real and deep, but he does not justify it at the cost of failing to acknowledge the intrinsic complexity of human subjectivity, whatever its specific content. To acknowledge this is to open the archives of all that humankind has thought and done, to see how the mind describes itself, to weigh the kind of evidence supposed science tacitly disallows.

— Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind

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