Does it even make sense to cross over between tactile-based sensations and conceptual transmissions? We’ve heard variations of that muddle — of how a thought brings warmth to one’s body; meaning, thereby, that there is a causal connection between a thought and a subsequent sensation, as in, “I was sitting there one evening thinking about my childhood, sitting on my grandfather’s lap when a secure feeling of warmth overcame me”.
In such an instance, we realize the cause-and-effect consequences at play — of a thought that leads to a sensation, where mind-to-body interaction is “proven” by the symbiotic relationships and coherence of and between the two.
David Hume, ever the doubter and cynic, would likely have argued (beyond a mere declaration of dismissiveness in saying, “Bosh!” with a distinctive Scottish accent) that no necessary connection between the thought and the sensation has occurred, any more than the sequence of one following upon another. Yet, we all believe that there is some sort of a connection, whether directly causal or otherwise.
Thus do we accept the descriptive custom when a mystery write speaks about the “cold chill” that ran up the victim’s spine just before the killer put his hands around the woman’s throat — a clear indication that observation following upon a thought resulted in a tactile sensation. But the subtle distinction made here — not of a thought that brings about a sensation, but the “warmth of a thought”, is a somewhat slight variation of the causal connection. Not that the thought itself links to a consequential sensation, or that there is a causal linkage between thought and tactile phenomena, but that the two are one and the same — of the very sensation within, of and encasing and encapsulating the thought itself.
In other words, the thought itself is the warmth, and the warmth is the thought, such that the “of” is not a causal consequence brought about by a sequence of X-following-upon-Y, but the space between concept and sensation doesn’t even exist. It is somewhat like the difference between the following 2 sentences: “The discontent in winter” and “The winter of discontent”. Is there a distinction with a difference?
Linguistic subtleties abound only within the ivory towers of academicians; for the rest of us, such separateness of meanings rarely impact with significance or relevance (ah, now that is the rub, isn’t it — to argue over the difference between “significance” and “relevance”?). The warmth of a thought — can the tactile sensation be separated from the conceptual construct?
It is like the medical condition that a Federal or Postal employee suffers from — the one (or many such ones) that begin to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job. Can the medical condition itself ever be separated from the life that one lives?
Others talk about “it” as if the “it” (the medical condition) is some other entity or stranger, but for the suffering Federal or Postal employee, the “it” is part and parcel of the life itself. That is why, for a Federal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is important to be clear, elucidating and coherent in writing up one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A when making one’s “case” for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to approve a Federal Disability Retirement Application — for, when the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from a medical condition and is in need of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the warmth of a thought is the same as the suffering felt and the anxiety one is left with for a future yet uncertain.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire