DiCarlo: As you have mentioned, intuition can been regarded as an organ of perception to augment our analytical, reasoning mind-certainly that's been true in Eastern cultures where it is more highly valued. Isn't intuition unreliable?
Harman: Everything is unreliable, especially your physical senses. Of course intuition is unreliable....it's as unreliable as your eyesight. You can be fooled by optical illusions and you can be fooled by listening to something you thought was your deep intuition and it turned out to be your internalized mother or something else. And there are ways of checking. We don't believe everything we see, or think we see. We check it in various ways. Similarly, you don't believe everything that is perceived as some sort of inner vision or inner voice. You apply appropriate tests. And in that sense, intuition can be extremely reliable, but it's not necessarily so. Especially if you haven't been using it much, and all of a sudden you hear some inner voice speaking to you that may come from any source.
DiCarlo: Has intuition played a significant role in your work?
Harman: Oh it's absolutely central. I think that's probably true of leaders in almost any field though they don't always say so.
DiCarlo: In your view, what is the essence of the new paradigm that you write about? How does that contrast with the average person's view of "The way things are?"
Harman: Well, in modern society, we've all been pretty well schooled in a world view in which material goals and the insights of physics, the closest thing to ultimate reality we know, have both been considered to be quite important. It's true that we have had a lot of religious influences, but let's limit ourselves to what is put across in the public schools. Let's say that represents the world view of this society and its built upon a very mechanistic and materialistic foundation.
Onto that platform we have built an economy with a lot of assumptions which relate to that materialistic worldview. We convince ourselves that the economy won't even work unless we are being good consumers and gathering all the goodies we can.
The paradigm that's emerging-and I think it's sort of foolish trying to describe it since it's still emerging-but at the most fundamental level, it places the cause of things not out in the material world at all, but at non-measureable, spiritual levels. Therefore, the source of meaning and the source of values is out in that spiritual realm, and it's precisely in that realm that our official science doesn't know anything and can't know anything. Nevertheless, it turns out to be the most important area of our experience to know about.
So at one level, the emerging world view is almost upside down, when you compare it to the world view of positivistic science. One of the big shifts-it's obvious to everybody-is the shift from separateness as a way to understand things, to the concept of everything being connected to everything else. We really have to think of things in ecological terms, as whole systems. That's part of what the feminist movement is all about. Certainly a big part of the ecological movement is conerned with that. Even the new spirituality, and so on.
Then another shift is from authority being externally "out there"-whether it's the Pope, or the Encyclopedia Britannica or the white gowned scientist-to much more reliance on inner authority, inner knowing. At a still deeper level, the cause of the things that happen to me is not "out there" somewhere. In some very, very deep sense, the cause is inner, and subjective.