Spinoza’s reason takes up this perception of the sun in a parallel fashion, without annulling the impression furnished by the imagination, and associates it to the understanding proposed by astronomers.20 Reason creates verbal and mathematical representations that can be combined in logical fashion. As far as an experience created in the nervous system, this second layer of information and reflection is of a different nature than those produced by the impact of the sun on the retina. Thoughts can distinguish between these two types of information, which explains why they do not match up. To the extent that information taught to people is often unreliable, it is probably useful that the human mind spontaneously distinguishes between information that comes from qualitatively different sources and uses different procedures to assimilate them That is how Spinoza explains the fact that even astronomers like him love to look at the setting sun as it seems to slip below the horizon.
We therefore notice a parallel functioning of the mind that is made explicit by philosophers and some psychologists. Once this point is recognized by an individual, there are two different ethical positions that can be developed:
1. A fatalistic option. This is how our spirit is made, and our consciousness has nothing else to do but to suffer the storms that our physiology and environment impose.
2. A constructivist21 option. This analysis is enlightening because it allows us to find new ways of coordinating these two dynamics of the mind.
These are the types of issues that daily arise during a psychotherapeutic practice. We know that asking too much from oneself can bring about anxiety and depression (it is often one of the main causes of depression), whereas on the other hand, having too few expectations hinders the mobilization of a person’s resources or those of his environment. This way of distinguishing the relatively independent layers of the mind is useful for getting a handle on a delicate point for the psychotherapeutic profession: how to measure out personal authenticity and professionalism To be able to experience the poetry of a sunset without forgetting one’s astronomy is to be on the road to becoming a therapist.