Civilization: The Hijacking of Sentience by Reason
As Ralph Waldo Emerson says in ‘The Method of Nature’, “The tool [of reason] has run away with the workman.”
And as Friedrich Nietzsche says in ‘Twilight of the Idols’;
“Reason” is the cause of our falsification of the testimony of the senses. Insofar as the senses show becoming, passing away, and change, they do not lie. But Heraclitus will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction. The “apparent” world is the only one: the “true” world is merely added by a lie.”
We have all seen ‘cold hard reason’ as in ‘the ends justify the means’ overpower the testimony of our senses so that some reasoned principle has us drop napalm into a village of men women and children who are simply trying to live their lives in harmony with nature. We have heard utterances from respected public icons known for their well-reasoned world views, advocating the supremacy of those with the most well-developed powers of reason, such as this statement from Winston Churchill in giving testimony in 1937 on the issue of Palestine;
“I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race, has come in and taken their place.” — Churchill’s testimony to the Peel Commission (1937) on a Jewish Homeland in Palestine
Many times in our lives within our globally dominant ‘Western’ reason-driven civilization we have run up against the problem as to ‘whose reason’ shall direct the behaviour of our social collective, and we have been [often painfully and despairingly] reminded of the answer given by LaFontaine in his fable of the wolf and lamb; “La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure” (“the reasoning of the most powerful is always the best”). This is how the citizens of central authority driven sovereign states and corporations find themselves part of social machinery (essentially ‘war machinery’) that directs them to ride roughshod over their sentient experience as it informs them how to stay in balance and harmony with the living space dynamic they are situationally included in, so that they find themselves having become part of the blade or battering ram of a giant remotely piloted [drone] bulldozer, involuntarily pushing around their own families/friends, sometimes to the point of humiliating and/or crushing them.
No wonder, then, that there are ‘anti-civilization’ and ‘neo-Luddite’ movements cropping up in response to where ‘civilization’ continues to take us, such as John Zerzan’s ‘anarcho-primitivist’ movement which supports the views [if not the tactics] of unabomber Ted Kaczynski; i.e.
“Kacynski argued that his bombings were extreme but necessary to attract attention to the erosion of human freedom necessitated by modern technologies requiring large-scale organization.”
But wait a minute, isn’t Kacynski’s ends-justifies-means violence yet another example of how cold hard ‘reason’ trumps sentient experience?
I would say so. One doesn’t stay in balance with the living space dynamic one is included in by blowing up one’s neighbours. ‘Technology and technology pushers’ are not what is taking our freedom away, reason is. That is to say, the unnatural elevating of reason over our feeling experience of inclusion in the unfolding evolutionary dynamic; i.e. ‘The Hijacking of Sentience by Reason’, is the recipe for the rising dysfunction that global ‘civilization’ is currently experiencing.
* * * Part II * * *
When the Nenet tribesmen wake up and find that the reindeer have ‘moved on’, they pack up their tents and rejoin them. Their sentient experience of situational inclusion predominates over their ‘reason’; i.e. their inside-outward movement is orchestrated from the outside-inward. They are chasing moonbeams, or rather, ‘sunrays’. The reindeer always go to where lichen are exposed and the lichen always expose where the favourable climatic conditions orchestrate their going and the lichens consume sunrays and convert them into substance; i.e. sunray-preserves and the reindeer eat the sunray preserves and repackage them and the Nenets follow suit and the whole food web is a sunray based ecosystem.
The ‘learning circles’ of these, and many other ‘primitive’ peoples, were processes within which information flowed from the periphery of the circle (as each person spoke of their experience ‘from the heart’) to connective confluence in the centre at the same time it was moving from the centre to the periphery (as each participant on the periphery absorbed the connective confluence forming from the web of relationships connecting the diverse experiences, mirrored-back-from-the-centre). This ‘geometry’ of communication (sharing of experience) is one in which a ‘many-to-one sink’ flowing from the periphery is in conjugate relation with a ‘one-to-many source’ flowing from the centre. A moment’s reflection suggests that this is also the ‘geometry’ of behavioural dynamics of the ‘primitives’; i.e. the outside-inward orchestrating in-flow-ence of the dynamic space they are situationally included in, and their inside-outward asserting out-flow-ing behaviour are dual aspects of one spatial-relational dynamic [‘evolution’ in the sense of the transforming of spatial relations].
The conjugate ‘source-sink’ archetype for these ‘communications’ and ‘behavioural’ dynamics is the spiralling torus, a convection cell-like relational dynamic that the new physics says pervades, in a fractal sense, across all scales, the universe. The sun itself is motion-within-motion described by the spiral torus and this motion is otherwise known as ‘evolution’.
One might therefore say that the ‘primitives’, by themselves orienting their behaviour to this conjugate source-sink toroidal flow, are staying attuned with or grounded in the evolutionary dynamic. [this source-sink pattern is the same for black holes, galaxies and imputedly for the flow of the universe]
Surprisingly, since relativity and quantum physics had not yet been formally formulated, Nietzsche and the evolutionary theorist of the early to mid-19th century, such as Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, William Rolph, Wilhelm Roux, and Ludwig Rütimeyer all came up with a close to common concept of ‘evolution’ and their concept echoed this same conjugate source-sink relational flow.
“ In developing this aspect of the will to power, Nietzsche drew heavily on the ideas of an obscure Anglo-German zoologist, William Rolph (‘Biologische Probleme’). … Rolph denies the existence of an instinct for self-preservation – or at the very least rejects the notion that such a drive represents the principle motivation of animal behaviour. Rather, life seeks primarily to expand itself. This elementary proposition is expressed as a law of assimilation, a law operative in both the organic and inorganic world. Growth, Rolph argues, is determined by a process of diffusion, in which endosmosis predominates over exosmosis. All organic functions, from nutrition and reproduction right up to evolution, can be explained by, and reduced to, this fundamental activity; they are not, as most contemporary biologists assumed, a manifestation of the instinct of self-preservation.” – Gregory Moore, ‘Nietzsche, Biology and Metaphor’.
Given that ‘endosmosis’ has the spatial-relational pattern of a many-to-one, periphery-to-centre ‘sink’ while ‘exosmosis’ has the spatial-relational pattern of a one-to-many centre-to-periphery ‘source’, and given that the two are in simultaneous conjugate relation, this view of ‘growth’ is very close to the view of the ‘evolutionary force’ archetype of the universe as in quantum physics.
And in spite of how Gregory Moore captures this ‘growth archetype’ (more from the side of Rolph than the side of Nietzsche), Nietzsche’s anti-Darwinist writings chide the ‘mediocre truths’ of thinkers such as Darwin, Spencer and Mill, for subjectizing what is essentially ‘flux’ and re-rendering dynamics in terms of the dynamic forms within the evolving world unity by using language to concretize their subjectification; e.g;
“Our judgement has us conclude that] every change must have an author”;–but this conclusion is already mythology: it separates that which effects from the effecting. If I say “lightning flashes,” I have posited the flash once as an activity and a second time as a subject, and thus added to the event a being that is not one with the event but is rather fixed, “is” and does not “become.”–To regard an event as an “effecting,” and this as being, that is the double error, or interpretation, of which we are guilty.” – Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power’, 531
What I am suggesting is that Nietzsche would not see the conjugate endosmosis – exosmosis relational dynamic as ‘growth’ [he would not have the one ‘predominate’ over the other] since he did not believe that ‘growth’ was ‘real’; i.e. he believed that what appeared to be ‘growth’ was ‘transformation’ of spatial relations; i.e.;
“And do you know what “the world” is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income … This world is the will to power–and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power–and nothing besides!” –Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’, 1067
The point here is that ‘growth’ does not exist in this Nietzschean viewpoint, there is only transformation of what’s ‘in-place’. Thus, this notion of ‘will-to-power’ cannot be interpreted in terms of ‘will to individual growth’ in the sense of an individual’s will to ‘growth’ of property, wealth, power to control the behaviours of others etc. it is instead intended in the sense of continual ‘self-transcendence’, continually evolving so that the next ‘Übermensch’ precipitates out of the outside-inward flowing aura of the inside-outward outflowing matter, and so on and so forth for the next, and the next, ….in a continual flow of ‘Übermensching’, making nonsense of the apparent ‘material’ aspect in the centre of the toroidal flow.
In a space where transformation is the prevailing dynamic, transformation subsumes the language-anchored Fiktion of ‘being’. It then makes no sense to impute evolutionary force or any other locally-jumpstarting ‘inborn’ force to individual ‘beings’, such as an inborn ‘instinct for self-preservation’, since the notion of ‘a being’ is synthetic, based on visual appearance concretized with language, and it cannot therefore serve as an absolute fountainhead for anything; not for the development of form, not for the development of behaviour and not for the cause of a result.
Nietzsche and quantum physics are thus in close accord, and this may not be as coincidental as it may at first seem since Nietzsche was also greatly influenced [according to his sister and his letters and library] by Ernst Mach whose was the mentor of Poincaré, Einstein and others who developed into formal theory, Mach’s early ideas on relativity. Meanwhile, his findings on sensory experience [Analyse der Empfindungen] seemed to ‘get lost in the shuffle;
“The sensations are not “symbols of things”. On the contrary the “thing” is a mental symbol for a sensation-complex of relative stability. Not the things, the bodies, but colours, sounds, pressures, times (what we usually call sensations) are the true elements of the world.” – Ernst Mach
Nietzsche, like Mach, rejected the subjectification, by language, of the forms that come to us through our sensory experience and it is this problem with ‘subjectification’ [reducing the world-in-flux to material beings] that is behind Nietzsche’s labeling of Darwin et al’s ideas as ‘mediocre truth’.
What Nietzsche means by this can be described using the example of a convection cell or ‘storm-cell’ in the atmosphere, recalling his point about ‘lightning flashes’ cited earlier. Does a tropical storm ‘evolve’? We certainly talk about it as if it does. We say that it ‘is developing’ that ‘it is strengthening or intensifying’, that ‘it has developed into a class 5 hurricane’ etc. etc.
Is this ‘true’? Does the storm grow?
Nietzsche would call this a ‘mediocre truth’ since by subjectifying the convection cell using words and definitions [reducing a ‘thing-considered-it-itself’ to a ‘thing-in-itself’], we move on from there to impute its own locally originating behaviour to it, and by making a habit out of this, we create a doer-deed based world view in which our backwards-in-time inquiry into the source of dynamic behaviour ‘truncates’ or ‘cul-de-sacs’ in the interior of the subjectified flow-feature.
Does the storm grow? Yes, but does the flow of the atmosphere transform as solar irradiance silhouetted by cloud cover cultivates within it a heterogeneous thermal field and associated pressure imbalances that induce rebalancing movement? Yes, also.
Apparently, the truth that ‘storms grow’ is a ‘more mediocre truth’ than the truth that ‘the atmospheric flow transforms’ since the former is a visually sensed feature in the other; i.e. it is not ‘real’ but made of motion within motion. As Emerson says, the cascade appears to be a ‘thing’ because of its persisting form, though this is just ‘appearances’ since it is ‘made of motion’.
In Nietzsche’s world view, then, there is no such thing as ‘growth’, other than as the ‘mediocre truth’ that comes from visual ‘appearances’, there is only ‘transformation’ of spatial relations, therefore an animal does not ‘evolve’ but is instead a feature within the overall universe-wide transformation of spatial relations. As he also says, the subjectification of visual flow-features is ‘useful’ and perhaps ‘necessary’.
* * * Part III * * *
The above discussion sets the stage for describing how ‘mediocre truth’ is setting us against ourselves. In the following dialogue from the ‘anarchistnews.org’ discussion forum, I try to make the point that John Zerzan’s ‘anarcho-primitivism’ derives from ‘mediocre truth’. I am given some ‘leverage’ to make this point by John having ‘joined forces’ with Amerindian ‘de-colonizer’ activists and his opining of the common-ness of the goals of the ‘de-colonizers’ and his ‘anti-civilization’ anarcho-primitives.
That is, in my view, John Zerzan continues to let ‘reason’ dominate in his communications and in his advocated behaviours, while the Amerindian activist groups, or rather the followers of Amerindian traditionalist beliefs (activists are not necessarily traditionalists), are in the mode where sentient experience naturally predominates over reason, with ‘reason’ playing a ‘support’ rather than a ‘lead’ role.
The person I am dialoguing with is reluctant to accept my claim that Zerzan is mistaken to confuse the removing of technology [technology that, by requiring large-scale organization, enslaves us.] with re-establishing an unmediated relationship with the land, in the manner of the Amerindian traditions. That is, Zerzan continues to put ‘reason’ into an unnatural primacy over sentient experience, it is this unnatural inversion wherein we put visual appearance and language-concretized subjectification-based reason into primacy over our full-blown sensory experience of inclusion in a transforming web of spatial relations, that is the deeper problem, since it leads to one-sided centre-to-periphery flow of communications and to one-sided centre-to-periphery flow of actions, and technology is then secondarily brought to bear to serve the requirements of centre-driven thinking and action.
What Zerzan (and our society) has to come to grips with is the need to restore our sentient experience to the helm and to demote ‘reason’ based on subjectification concretized by language, to a support role, and to resist having the ‘tool [of reason] running away with the workman’.
The dialogue follows and I have highlighted the key portions of it to allow a ‘quick read’.
john zerzan appears to be
emile – Wed, 2012-01-04 16:02
john zerzan appears to be deceiving himself with his own reasoning. the problem starts from understanding ‘community’ in terms of it being constructed by its participants. the indigenous people understand, instead, that people are emanations of the land, thus ‘community’ starts with the land and is constituted by resonance in the conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation. in the logical understanding mode of a ‘western thinker’, the community dynamic is determined by the participating people, and the distinction that zerzan makes is between ‘people with advanced technologies’ and ‘people without advantaged technologies’ because he is constrained by his own modeling framework, which does not allow that people are emanations of the land and thus all dynamics are sourced out of the land (out of the energy-charged spatial-plenum) including the people-making dynamic. as nietzsche says, we subjectize people or lightning even though these forms are included within a larger dynamic and by circular reasoning, we attribute them the sourcing of their own dynamics, as in ‘lightning flashes’, ‘people construct community’, giving the ‘Fiktion’ or ‘illusion’ that the sourcing of the community dynamic starts from the action of people.
if one asked john zerzan whether convection cells created atmospheric flow or whether the atmospheric flow created the convection cells, john might attempt to solve that ‘nature versus nurture’ problem by way of reason. but in the real world of our experience, we notice that there seems to be more of these ‘cells’ about when it is hot and humid, suggesting that there is a deeper non-local, non-visible, non-material influence that predominates over both; i.e. that ‘space is a participant’ in physical phenomena, as einstein observed and as lamarck/nietzsche propose in their views on ‘evolution’. zerzan’s differentiating of the evolution of man and community with or without advancing technologies does not touch on the question of whether evolution is predominantly by transformation of spatial relations influenced by non-local, non-visible, non-material energy-field as in relativity/nietzsche [see ‘quantum nietzsche’ by william plank], or predominantly by local, visible, material inside-outward-asserting mechanics as in darwinism.
Zerzan writes in the posted
anon – Thu, 2012-01-05 12:04
Zerzan writes in the posted text that “In truth, there is no community” and that “Only by abandoning what is passed off in its name can we move on to redeem a vision of communion and vibrant connectedness in a world that bears no resemblance to this one.”
It seems here that he actually wants to define “real” community by way of the indigenous relationship that you are talking about.
views such as john zerzan’s
emile – Fri, 2012-01-06 00:15
views such as john zerzan’s anti-technology views are not to be found in presentations of indigenous peoples’ philosophy, and there is a good reason for this. western thinking, as nietzsche has pointed out, re-conceived dynamics/behaviour from conjugate outside-inward accommodating – inside-outward asserting relational form, reducing them, with the help of the ‘subjectizing powers of noun and verb language, to ‘subject animated dynamics’ or ‘doer-deed’ dynamics. dynamic behaviour such as ‘lightning’ or ‘manning’ is reduced by imposing ‘subjecthood’ or ‘being-ness’ on these dynamics so that when we add a verb and predicate, we reverse engineer the source of the dynamic, attributing it to a notional ‘being with the first cause buck-starts-here powers of sourcing its own dynamics. thus ‘lightning flashes’ and ‘man does his manly deeds’.
now that ‘man’ has been subjectized, his behaviour no longer starts from the dynamic habitat he is born into, the sun-fed plants, phyto-plankton and outside-inward flow of nutrient, that he lives his life within and is regathered into. his behaviour is seen, by the western mind, to ‘jumpstart from inside of him’. he is a God or a deputy of God in a garden that he is supposed to proliferate in and take control of;
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” – Genesis 1:28
we needn’t kid ourselves that this idea is just for the religious right and it has otherwise faded away, it is built into modern mainstream science. just ask a neuroscientist or a biologist or a biochemist and apart from a few rebels (who are unable to get their rebel ideas published in ‘respectable’ scientific journals) you will hear from the best experts, that, yep, human behaviour jumpstarts from within the material organism that that biologists call a ‘machine made of meat’; a notional ‘local system’ with its own ‘locally originating internal process driven behaviour’. they don’t mind saying that relativity and all of that stuff that denies the possiblity of a ‘local independently existing system’ is abstract bullshit that doesn’t apply to their theories of organic life (powered by an internal spark called ‘life’ that was lit when lightning hit a mess of nearly-organic inorganic soup back a few billion years) and started from there to ‘infect small parts of the dead universe’.
once you believe that man’s behaviour jumpstarts from within him, and that ‘flashes’ jumpstart from within something called ‘lightning’, language has hijacked most of your marbles. the implication is that if there’s going to be ‘community’ then its going to have to be deliberately constructed by man, since this subjectized conception of man does away with outside-inward organizing influence of nature, and so if we see many people moving out of the dustbowl conditions of oklahoma into green valleys that beckon to them, we have to explain this ant-like reorganization in terms of ‘great minds think alike’. that is, our subjectized western doer-deed models don’t allow for any outside-inward organizing influences such as climate influence geomorphological dynamics where nature teases us by first putting green valleys over here, then shifting them ‘over there’ with the result that the human hordes chase after them like crowds of lizards chasing the mole on elizabeth taylor’s face on the screen of an outdoor movie cinema in a jungle town. sure they know what they’re doing. sure their organized behaviour is driven from out of their interiors. sure, that is indeed true. it’s what nietzsche calls a ‘mediocre truth’ since its clear that the ‘epigenetic geo-morphological dynamic predominates over internal genetics in the development of this sort of organized collective behaviour.
so, zerzan is stuck with this western model where we have subjectized man’s behaviour in which case the dynamics of land are no longer (short of relativity and quantum theory) understood as being shaped by outside-inward spatial nurturing influences [in conjugate relation with one’s inside-outward asserting actions].
in western man’s view; i.e. in zerzan’s view, the land can’t possibly orchestrate the behaviour of individuals and collectives. in the western view [i am referring to the globally dominating culture’s view, whatever whether we want to call it 'western' or whatever], organization can only have an local centre sourced inside-outward asserting genesis.
therefore, the problem of technology arises in man’s perceived act of constructing his community in a subject-animated-dynamic, doer-deed fashion. as zerzan says in an interview just after the death of steve jobs;
“People like Jobs who devise this Brave New World type stuff are choosing, and there’s a moral dimension to those choices. I remember Stewart Brand of the Whole Earth Catalog saying at one time that “in the sixties some of us realized the question was ‘technology, yes or no?’ and we basically answered yes.” That includes people like Leary and Kesey and others who thought there was this great promise to technology, that we could achieve all of these things through the magic of computers. That was a conscious choice by some of these people, and it was the wrong choice. And so you have to ask, critically, how has it worked out? It’s not just a question for theory, it’s an empirical question: What does a society look like that embraces that, and goes full tilt for that way of living?”
zerzan is talking about ‘constructing community’ rationally, deliberately, deterministically, and it is IN THAT CONTEXT… that his remarks on technology are pivoting from. otherwise, he would not be harping at those who made the wrong choices [re technology] in constructing community, but would instead be harping about how we are assuming ‘the land belongs to man’ instead of ‘man belongs to the land’ as the native traditionalists are. constructing community [and then making 'the right decisions' about technology in that context] is not the way zapatistas and native traditionalists understand the development of the community; i.e. community development is outside-inwardly orchestrated by the dynamics of the land, by entering into a resonant conjugate outside-inward accommodating – inside-outward asserting relation with/in the sacred, parenting living space.
i’m sure that native groups appreciate there is ‘overlap’ in the respective aims and appreciate that zerzan endorses ‘de-colonizing’, even if he sees ‘community’ in the ‘traditional western’, doer-deed, constructivist terms.
zerzan is right about technology enslaving us, but that is because of our centre-of-power driven constructivist views of community. if one doesn’t let the land orchestrate community from the outside-inward, and we instead seek to deliberately construct it, then technology will inevitably be used to amplify the inside-outward asserting powers of man, growing ever-larger centres of economic/productive power at the expense of ‘the will of local community’ and the mom-and-pop enterprises that form within the local community as it tries to cultivate and sustain a resonant conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation within the shared living space.
as ivan illich observed, once one introduced the PA system to amplify one man’s voice (the voice of whomever had primary access to the microphone), centres-of-power driven construction of opinion was bound to happen in cultures that didn’t embrace the EMPTY-CENTRE [mirroring-back] learning circle approach to developing one’s world-view. technology has been amplifying a dysfunctional centre-driven communications model and the result is ever more powerful centre-driven opinion-shaping media voice projection. don’t blame the technology, blame the centre-driving, inside-outward asserting western culture’s model of dynamics in general.
the progressive technology-fertilized-and-amplified growth of centres of economic power continue to deepen our enslavement. the native traditionalist will attribute this to western man’s ‘constructivist’ view of community wherein he inverts the understanding that ‘man belongs to the land’ [rejects space as a participant in physical phenomena] and assumes instead that ‘the land belongs to man’, while john zerzan blames technology for enslaving us because he continues to hold on to the subjectivized, doer-deed, constructivist view of men and community. in fact, he subjectivizes ‘technology’ itself, by his ‘anti-technology’ stance.
with a view of ourselves as the biological and social sciences would have it, as a ‘machine made of meat’, we are bound to try to apply technology to ‘turbo-charge ourselves’ to get the job of ‘constructing community’ done ‘the way we want it done’, according to our inside-outward asserting deterministic plan. the enslavement that results is enslavement precipitated by the inverted western viewpoint [wherein organizing is conceived of as being determined by inhabitants, and NOT orchestrated by the dynamics of habitat]. it is because of, and starting from this inverted viewpoint that we then use technology in a purely inside-outward asserting approach that is hijacking peer-level relational webs by progressively aggregating control over subject-animated-dynamics [what things do] in ever-larger centres of economic power.
Again: if we read the text
anon – Fri, 2012-01-06 10:44
Again: if we read the text there is a distinction between Community(1) and Community(2), the latter being a concept that aims for unmediated presence (no technology, whatever that means)–generally, a world that is “nothing like” the one we inhabit as socially constructed-technologized beings. Yet somehow you want to say this concept (community(2)) is defined by the first, and in a nontrivial way, indeed in a problematic way.
I admit that I do not find this second concept to be very helpful. Indeed, I think that it fails to signify anything non-vacuous. So, I have a hard time understanding your contention that it is at sixes and sevens with a land based ethic, a view that sees all meat machines as nourished by Mom. Perhaps you want to say that this view MUST be at odds with technology; but I have always read this Zerzan-term as meaning insofar as it presupposes experts, the state, and everything else that takes away from the right that we have to live our lives. So, I think you have conflated what Zerzan means with what say, David Watson means. So, I think that if we accept Zerzan’s words, we do not have any reason to pit them against a land-based way of life.
zerzan sees ‘community’ as
emile – Fri, 2012-01-06 18:03
zerzan sees ‘community’ as being ‘determined’ by the people ‘who make up the community’. zerzan’s musings on community focus on the manner in which people relate to one another [anthropocentrism]. zerzan defines the desired people-determined community in terms of the negation of the current people-determined [non-]community;
“Only a negative “community,” based explicitly on contempt for the categories of existent community, is legitimate and appropriate to our aims.”
zerzan’s view on climate change is that it is determined by people (AGW).
in all of these views the dynamic is understood in a one-sided, inside-outward asserting, people-determined manner.
that is, john zerzan sees two possible versions of community; ‘people-determined Community (1)’ the established community in which ‘we’ opted for technology [who makes these conscious decisions?] and ‘people-determined Community (2)’ which as you say “being a concept that aims for unmediated presence (no technology, whatever that means)– generally, a world that is “nothing like” the one we inhabit as socially constructed-technologized beings.”
i am saying that the root problem is the attempt to ‘determine’ community. how we use technology follows from our colonizer culture’s addiction to ‘determining everything’ in an inside-outward asserting manner. the colonized indigenous peoples cultural tradition is to acknowledge the role of outside-inward orchestration of the living space we share inclusion in.
this cultural difference in our behaviour-animating world views can be visualized in terms of the relation space of a circle and the flow between the centre and periphery;
—I.a amerindian learning circle, the flow of shared experience/information is from the periphery to the centre; i.e. an image forms in the centre from the connective confluence of the sharing of experiences. the flow is from the periphery to the centre and at the same time from the centre to the periphery [conjugate outside-inward feeding --- inside-outward asserting relational flow, a 'toroidal flow'].
—I.b colonizer-culture instruction circle, the flow of information is from the centre to the periphery; i.e. the biggest, toughest guy hijacks the centre of the circle and with a bullhorn, barks out his perspective on ‘the way it is’ to those on the periphery [in the case of the individual, this is a model of the ego-at-the-centre of the self]. the flow is unidirectional from the centre to the periphery.
(II) sourcing of behavioural dynamics
—II.a amerindians let their individual and collective behaviours be orchestrated from the outside inwards in such a manner as to cultivate and sustain resonance-based organization via their conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation [conjugate outside-inward nurturing/orchestrating--- inside-outward asserting/producing relational dynamic]. the flow is from the periphery to the centre and at the same time from the centre to the periphery [toroidal flow]
—II.b colonizer culture uses knowledge, intellection/reasoning and purpose as the inside-outward driver of their individual and collective behaviour; i.e. the behavioural dynamics and organization of the individual and collective is one-sidedly, inside-outward assertively driven. the thrust is unidirectional from the centre to the periphery.[linear, unidirectional flow]
* * *
of course we all know what the problem is in ‘reason-driven’ and ‘purpose-driven’ community, … it becomes a question of ‘whose reason’ and ‘whose purpose’ will coordinate the deterministic construction of community? … and the answer is, … as written into the fables of LaFontaine; “La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure” (the reasoning of the most powerful is always the best).
what is lost in the colonizer culture’s deterministic, reason-driven approach to community? everyone downstream of the centre has to betray/ignore/demean the sensory information coming outside-inwardly from their particular situational inclusion in the world dynamic and give precedence to the flow of centre-to-periphery driving reason [whether from our own colonizer ego-centre or from the self-similar centre-driven socio-political organizational structures that come from replicating our ego-structure in the dynamics of the social collective].
as nietzsche observes, reason is based on subjectification, the imputing of ‘being’ to dynamic forms which are inclusions in a larger dynamic [e.g. as storm-cells in atmospheric flow]and then being in a position to impute first-cause sourcing of behaviour to the ‘being’. out of the inherent transience of behaviour, we create the illusion of a ‘true’ world based on ‘being’;
“Reason” is the cause of our falsification of the testimony of the senses. Insofar as the senses show becoming, passing away, and change, they do not lie. But Heraclitus will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction. The “apparent” world is the only one: the “true” world is merely added by a lie. –Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’
as our real life experience informs us, ‘community behaviour’ is often of the general type where two people are carrying a heavy object that is about to topple and we rush in to ‘fill the gap’ and restore balance and stability. it is a ‘mediocre truth’ to say that ‘I reasoned that this would be a good thing to do’. the greater truth is that the dynamic we found ourselves situationally included in exerted an outside-inward orchestrating influence on us that we responded to with our inside-outwards asserting behaviour. [the flow in natural community is 'toroidal flow']
the colonizer society is one in which we confuse mediocre truths for ‘reality’ when they are nothing more than ‘appearances’ [‘schaumkommen’ – Schroedinger] and then we go around constructing one-sided deterministic organizations.
conclusion. colonizer society has been using technology in support of I.b and II.b where communications and actions are one-sided and flow linearly and deterministically from the centre to the periphery.
john zerzan says we are using technology to enslave ourselves.
no, we are using the centre-to-periphery models of communications and behavioural dynamics to enslave ourselves, and technology is being brought to bear in support of those models; i.e. john zerzan’s truth is a mediocre truth.
* * * Part IV: Conclusions * * *
Modern physics presents the view that the universe is essentially ‘energy-in-[transform-]motion’ while matter is, as Schroedinger has said ‘schaumkommen’ (‘appearance’).
Space does not have static ‘points’ in it since it is everywhere energy-in-motion, movement-within-movement and the form of this movement is like a convection cell where source and sink are in conjugate relation; [as in fluid-dynamics, wave-dynamics]
In such a world, if we want to ground ourselves or couple ourselves to the continually unfolding evolutionary dynamic, we would be wise to communicate and behave in the style of the Amerindian tradition (where the outside-inward orchestrating and our inside-outward asserting is sustained in resonant conjugate relation).
However, our current ‘problem’ is that the globally dominating ‘colonizer culture’, using subjectification concretized by language, has created a ‘doer-deed’ pseudo-reality that we are confusing for ‘reality’. That is, we are grounding ourselves or coupling ourselves to nothing other than ‘appearances’, the objects we declare to have ‘independent being’ that are in reality evanescent forms made of motion-within-motion. Our perspectives that we base on these subjectified forms we share and animate using the same ‘subjectifying’ archetype by communications that are centre-to-periphery flowing [the opinionated strong man with the bullhorn blasting out his perspective on ‘the way the world really is’ to everyone around him], and by actions that are centre-to-periphery driving [the ‘reason’ and ‘purpose’ driven organization where the ‘reason’ and ‘purpose’ at the centre dictate individual and collective behaviours out into the periphery, over-riding the outside-inward orchestrating influences sentiently experienced by the individuals subject to the centre-to-periphery directorship].
Widespread reaction to the failings of the [subjectification based mediocre truth] centre-to-periphery driving communicating and animating archetype are currently on the rise. But so long as the ‘centre-to-periphery’ mode of understanding remains in place, inquiry into the failings will be in a doer-deed sense, searching for ‘those responsible’ who sit at the centre of the circle whose self-interested dynamics are transmitting dysfunction out into the peripheral world around them. That is, so long as this one-sided centre-to-periphery archetype for understanding the world dynamic is the popular choice, where there is rising dysfunction, we will be looking for ‘locally centred sources of dysfunction’. Meanwhile, the dysfunction is deriving from the ‘mediocre truths’ from which we are constituting our popular ‘archetype’ for understanding dynamics.
Colonizer civilization has arisen from the hijacking of sentient experience by visual form-subjectifying reason.
* * * * * *
Footnote 1. : The atomic foundations of scientific thinking. Is science human-dependent or is it not?
Ernst Mach, Erwin Schroedinger, Henri Poincaré believed that the objects of science, such as atoms and particles, are ‘appearances’ that form in our minds, rather than being ‘real-in-themselves’. They are ‘the minority that lost out’ to the ‘atomists’ or ‘materialists’ in the ‘official’ discipline of science. The essay above assumes that space is ‘relational’ in keeping with the views of Mach, Schroedinger and Poincaré, even though that I did not ‘start my inquiry’ on such an assumption. In fact, I started it from the standard materialist view but was led there my observations and experiences and by bringing a multitude of observations and experiences into connective confluence (into a web of relations). While Poincaré just at the time the science community was ‘coming down hard’ in support of ‘atoms’, Mach’s rejection remained strong till his death and Schroedinger’s as well.
The following abstract provides the gist of Mach’s anti-atomist views; i.e. his support for ‘relational theory’.
Ernst Mach Leaves ‘The Church of Physics’
by John Blackmore
[The British Journal of the Philosophy of Science, Br J Philos Sci (1989) 40 (4): 519-540.]
A study of the published and unpublished parts of Ernst Mach’s last notebook (1910–14) suggests that Max Planck’s attack (1908–11) provoked Mach into opposing ‘The Church of Physics’ more strongly than previously realized. Shortly after Mach threatened to leave the discipline if belief in atoms were required. Albert Einstein tried to persuade him to accept atomism (September 1910). Mach declined to mention Einstein again in his publications and increasingly criticized ‘The Church of Physics’.
Evidence that Mach opposed relativity theory and the absence of evidence that he favored it is pointed out. It is suggested that Mach’s alleged ‘friendly interest’ in Einstein’s work in early 1914 may have been stimulated by the hope that the young genius might develop a continuum or field theory to refute Planck’s discontinuity physics.
The paper concludes with suggestions on how philosophers who defend Mach’s non-realism such as Gereon Wolters and Paul Feyerabend might be better off switching to a realist epistemology more compatible with rationally-held science, religion, and common sense.
* * *
An ‘interesting connection’;
There is a connection between Ernst Mach, Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung which is interesting with respect to questions in regard to grounding our ‘reality’ in transformation or matter.
Ernst Mach’s family and Wolfgang Pauli’s family lived in Prague Czechoslovakia. Pauli’s grandfather Jacob W. Pascheles was the proprietor of a bookshop in the Old Town Square in Prague [As elder of the congregation of the well-known ‘Gipsy’s Synagogue’, he had presided over the “confirmation” (bar mitzwah) of Franz Kafka whose family also lived on the Old Town Square] and his son (Wolfgang Pauli’s father) Wolfgang Joseph, studied medicine at Charles University in Prague, together with Ernst Mach’s son Ludwig, receiving his doctor’s degree there in 1893. Ernst Mach was at that time a professor of experimental physics at Charles University, until 1895, when he moved to the University of Vienna. Wolfgang Joseph Pascheles also moved to Vienna in the medical faculty where he converted to catholicism and chose the surname Pauli. His son, Wolfgang Ernst Friedrich Pauli was given his second name, Ernst, in honour of Ernst Mach who had agreed to be the godfather.
In Wolfgang Pauli’s writings on physics, there is close attention to questions of ‘reality’ that associate with the deepening understanding of physical processes through the continuing development of theories in physics. Pauli writes in ‘Writings on Physics and Philosophy’;
“Matter has always been and will always be one of the main objects of physics. By speaking on “matter as an aspect of the nature of things,” I intend therefore to give you an impression of how laws of nature concerning matter and belonging to physics can be found and how they gradually develop. It is true that these laws and our ideas of reality which the presuppose are getting more and more abstract. But also, for a professional, it is useful to be reminded that behind the technical and mathematical form of the thoughts underlying the laws of nature, there remains always the layer of everyday life with its ordinary language. Science is a systematic refinement of the concepts of everyday life revealing a deeper and, as we shall see, not directly visible reality behind the everyday reality of colored, noisy things. But it should not be forgotten either that this deeper reality would cease to be an object of physics, different from the objects of pure mathematics and pure speculation, if its links with the realities of everyday life were entirely disconnected.”
Whether Pauli saw space as ‘relational’ as Mach did is not clear, but he would certainly have carried such ideas into his discussions with Jung, in the wake of his ‘breakdown’. Thus these foundational questions of reality tied up with scientific thinking and psychology have undergone an interesting bifurcation at which time the ‘hidden’ realm beneath the material facade ‘went underground’ [the material appearances were chosen as the foundation of reality in science]. Meanwhile, the dispute has not gone away as the following wikipedia comment on ‘relational theory’ makes clear.
[Wikipedia on ‘Relational Theory’: - In physics and philosophy, a relational theory is a framework to understand reality or a physical system in such a way that the positions and other properties of objects are only meaningful relative to other objects. In a relational spacetime theory, space does not exist unless there are objects in it; nor does time exist without events. The relational view proposes that space is contained in objects and that an object represents within itself relationships to other objects. Space can be defined through the relations among the objects that it contains considering their variations through time. The alternative spatial theory is an absolute theory in which the space exists independently of any objects that can be immersed in it.
Someone who has constructed or a relational theory or promotes relational theorising is called a relationist.
The relational point of view was advocated by in physics by Gottfried von Leibniz, Ernst Mach (in his Mach's principle), and it was rejected by Isaac Newton in his successful description of classical physics. Although Albert Einstein was impressed by Mach's principle, he did not fully incorporate it into his theory of general relativity. Several attempts have been made to formulate a full Machian theory, but most physicists think that none have so far succeeded. For example, see Brans-Dicke theory
A Relational approach to quantum physics has been developed, in analogy with Einstein's special relativity of space and time.
Relationist physicists such as John Baez and Carlo Rovelli have criticised the leading unified theory of gravity and quantum mechanics, string theory, as retaining absolute space. Some prefer a developing theory of gravity, loop quantum gravity for its 'backgroundlessness'.]
* * *
Mach’s ‘anti-atomism” cited in The Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy
Mach’s opposition to atomism has become one of his best known legacies, with Mach seen as an anti-realist about unobservable entities. While anti-realist arguments can indeed be found in Mach, their origins lie not in philosophical skepticism but in his bio-psychological view of science. Furthermore, his concerns about atoms were often specific to the various competing theories of the time. It should be noted that the issue of atomism was a central scientific controversy of this period; there were a variety of theories of atoms being put forward as well as varieties of alternatives. In his Principles of the Theory of Heat, Mach aligned himself with a phenomenological approach to thermodynamics—a temporarily fruitful research program that avoided the problems of positing theoretical causal entities. Mach’s experimental research was not in this area, but at stake was not just the reality of atoms but an understanding of science. Mach’s attitude toward atoms was an outgrowth of a view of science.
He became embroiled in a long-standing dispute with Boltzmann, propounder of the kinetic theory of gasses. Boltzmann and Mach ended up agreeing in essence: if atomic theory was fruitful it should be used, but adopted what today might be considered an anti-metaphysical stance toward a theory that was still largely unsubstantiated. It is generally agreed that it was not until 1905 with Einstein’s study of Brownian motion that the kinetic theory of molecules found full verification.
Mach’s views on atomism are most clearly presented in an exchange with Planck. In 1909 Planck wrote an essay “The Unity of the Physical World-Picture”, which contained a severe criticism of Mach’s philosophy. Mach replied in 1910, with “The Guiding Principles of My Scientific Theory of Knowledge and Its Reception by My Contemporaries.” Planck responded in 1910 with “On Mach’s Theory of Physical Knowledge: A Reply.”
At issue were differences on how to make science free of human subjectivity, and how to achieve a unified science. Planck  argues that while we once defined heat according to sensations, the study of heat has gone beyond this, now being under the purview of electrodynamics and kinetic theory; similarly, tones and color are now understood as frequencies or wavelengths. Although physics had its beginnings in the analysis of sense impressions, its current success is due to removing these anthropomorphic elements. Planck formulates a vision of a human-independent science in reaction to Mach’s claim that science is human-dependent.
Planck thought that physics can go beyond psychological dependency by basing itself on psychologically independent universal constants: “the constants appearing in the laws of heat radiation in free ether, like the constants of gravity, have a universal character and involve no reference to any special substance or any special body” . They are human-independent in a way that a unit like a centimeter is not. These constants can be used to “establish units of length, time, volume and temperature, which must of necessity retain their meaning for all time and for all cultures, even extra-terrestrial and extra-human ones” .
Mach’s response is one of his last statements of position:
I have no doubt that if, somewhere in the universe a creature organized like ourselves could make observations … it would perceive a universe working similarly to that we ourselves describe …. As for the reality of atoms: I have no doubt that if atomic theory corresponds to the reality given by the senses, the conclusions drawn from it will also bear some relation to the facts — though what relation remains unclear. The distance from the glass of the first dark ring in reflected light corresponds to one-half of the period of Newton’s ‘fits’, but to one quarter of Young and Fresnel’s ‘wavelength’. The findings of atomic theory, likewise, can undergo a variety of convenient reinterpretations, even if we are in no great hurry to take them for realities. [Mach 1910: 36-37]