“Essay on Non-teleological Thinking”

Katharine A. Rodger

in Breaking Through

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780520247048
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932661 | DOI:
“Essay on Non-teleological Thinking”

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Edward F. Ricketts developed his “Essay on Non-teleological Thinking” during the early years of his friendship with John Steinbeck, a period also marked by collaborations with Joseph Campbell, Henry Miller, and other friends and colleagues. At the heart of Ricketts's desire to articulate non-teleological thinking is his struggle to put into language that which by its very nature eludes definition. Deeply philosophical, Ricketts's essay is at times convoluted, but the significance of non-teleological thinking is of primary importance to his unified field hypothesis. Through “his thinking,” Ricketts believes, an individual may better accept and understand the world and ultimately “break through” or transcend. Ricketts and Steinbeck's 1940 expedition to the Gulf of California was inspired in part by their desire to integrate scientific inquiry with non-teleological thinking, and Steinbeck later included a revision of the “Essay on Non-teleological Thinking” in Sea of Cortez. The seventeen-page version included in this chapter, marked “Typed by Toni, March 1941, original to John,” is likely the draft the latter worked from while writing Sea of Cortez.

Keywords: Edward F. Ricketts; John Steinbeck; Joseph Campbell; Henry Miller; non-teleological thinking; Gulf of California; Sea of Cortez; unified field hypothesis

Chapter.  6056 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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