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A big round yellow Sun with a smiley face

04 February 2013, 07:07
As children, our earliest mental processing involves seeing the way in a very simple manner.   We essential project our inner world onto the outer world, and see both as one and the same. 

As such our interpretations are animistic, which is to say, because we are alive, so is everything else.  The sun, clouds, trees, flowers, a house.  At the same time, the psychology of the child sees things as artificialist, which is to say that everything is there for a reason, and the reason tends to be for the amusement, entertainment, interest or use of the child.  Both of these psychologies are necessarily narcissistic - because of course a world in which everything is alive (benignly so), and at our service, makes for a Disneyland sort of paradise.

At the most basic level of course, the sun has a face. And a happy one.  In the same way that we project our inner lives onto the world, so too did primitive people, and so too, do some modern people today. 

On the website the author writes:
A child puts a smiley face on the Sun because it is reassuring to imagine a friendly Sun who follows her about the yard. It requires rather more daring to accept a Sun that is a vast, distant sphere of fire, inanimate and indifferent.

It is only marginally more sophisticated than the psychology of a child to believe that the sun itself is God, or that a chariot draws the sun across the sky (the chariot driver being God) etc etc. 

Many people grow up to realise that there is a reality independent to our minds and our inner narratives.  This is especially evident when we travel, or move beyond our usual experience, either culturally, socially or otherwise. goes on to suggest that the best way to know of the independent world outside of ourselves (and the way not to corrupt that perception) is through science. 

Science makes three assumptions about the world:

  1. There is a reality that exists independently of our own minds.
  2. Things happen according to natural laws, not at the whim of a conscious agency.
  3. Nature's laws can be known with an ever greater degree of confidence.

In the end, the yellow smiley sun is a small step for a child.  But to become a grown up, a child realises that certain things really are alive, and some things, though they may move and transform, are not.  It is because these beliefs (in animism and artificialism) are innate, that we feel drawn to believe in the idea of a maker of everything, a purpose, a presence beyond ourselves.  But if we are able to individuate, to find ourselves, discover ourselves and our identities, we see the world the way it is.  Those who cannot, are those who fail to step out of the child.  They fail because they lack courage.  Their steps into the world remain not only small, but lost in their own silly fictions. 

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