Navigating Between Truth and Reality
According to Nietzsche, there is no such thing as ‘truth’, or rather, ‘truth is when people lie together in a herd-like fashion’.
In this ‘post-truth’ era, the emphasis is, as in television advertising, on repeating the same statements so as to induce an ‘emotional connection’ and with it, herd behaviour.
If you have a picture of Layla naked and say ‘Layla is a slut’, the breath that utters it will dissipate in the wind, unless you put it on the internet where it will be repeated millions of times and never fade away. As the herd response forms, Layla will be alienated, she will have to change schools so her family will have to move and finally she will commit suicide, and if her manipulators are slick enough, she will do it ‘online’.
On the political scene, it may be ‘Iraq is a rogue state’ or ‘Qatar is a rogue state’. Embargoes and other forms of alienation follow, medical and food supplies are cut off, children die by the hundreds of thousands and hatred of Euro-American colonizers builds to new heights.
But this essay is not about politics. It is about the relationship between ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ which is commonly overlooked as we continue to employ kneejerk ways of sifting through a sea of ‘alleged to be true’ information. For example, it was not that the naked, sexually implicating photo of Layla was ‘photo-shopped’ or ‘untrue’, the question was whether one act, even if ‘true’, could capture ‘who she was’ within a negative iconography that justified the social ‘embargoes’ that deprived her of essential emotional nurturance and made her continued living intolerable.
Truth is one half of a binary tautology that includes as well, ‘falsehood’, its polar opposite without which ‘truth’ could have no meaning at all. ‘Reality’, meanwhile, is ‘unconditional’. It is our experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum.
In fact, cultures with relational languages rather than noun-and-verb Indo-European/scientific language-and-grammar do not have these binary concepts based on the logic of EITHER “is” OR “is not”. Neither do they have ‘science’ and ‘rationality’, since these derive from noun-and-verb language-and-grammar and the ‘things-in-themselves’ based narratives they can construct.
The mathematics that science uses can be directly related to the ‘Layla’ example, wherein a single piece of content; i.e. an alleged event (whether true or not) can be used as a source of meaning that over-rides the meaning in a whole lifetime of relational context. The meaning or value in a lifetime of abuse suffered by an abused wife will be over-ridden, in our Western values/moral judging system, by the meaning or value in her single act of putting a knife through his heart. Likewise the oppressed citizen who takes out one of his oppressors in trying to break out of the pen his oppressors have kept him in to taunt, humiliate, exploit and abuse him.
But this is just Western scientific thinking culture that manipulates meaning/values in this way, as it is built into the mathematics which impute self-standing ‘substance’ [meaning, value] to ‘difference’. It is the basis of ‘calculus’ which the philosopher George Berkeley showed was fundamentally flawed in his 1774 ‘Discourse to an Infidel Mathematician’ (Isaac Newton).
Berkeley pointed out that there were no grounds for imputing ‘stand-alone being’ to a time-based ‘difference’. This was a precursor to Derrida’s ‘différence’ argument wherein the meaning in a local event is ‘indefinitely deferred’ and must be understood in terms of a contextual deconstruction [“there is nothing outside of context”].
Indigenous aboriginals and anyone, using their experience based intuition, would keep the context of someone’s entire life in a natural primacy over a single event or item of content within that stream of context. Of course she is going to reach her limit of tolerance and stab you if you keep abusing her. The stabbing is natural justice. Such an ‘event’ must be understood in the overall context of the ongoing relational social dynamic. It has no ‘stand-alone’ meaning-in-itself or ‘objective truth-in-itself’.
Mathematical physics, meanwhile, imposes the rule that “the present depends only on the immediate past”. This gives absolute meaning to the ‘difference’ or ‘change’ between the present and the immediate past, which is the premise underpinning differential calculus which enjoys foundational status in the mathematical capture of physical phenomena. But the assumption that there is objective truth in an isolated event is a metaphysical premise that is imposed on our observational data that Western culture applies generally.
Forensic science and moral judgement and thus Western retributive Justice have employed this premise in their intellectual foundations. No matter how many years the slave has suffered (and his parents and grandparents before him) in his imprisonment by his abusive slave-masters, that interval of one minute in which he shoots the slave-master will be given OUT OF CONTEXT ‘meaning-in-itself’ by Western courts of Justice.
Is this not a bit ‘odd’? Doesn’t Berkeley have a point?
Giving more meaning to ‘events’ as ‘things-in-themselves’ implies that we should be able to reassemble or ‘integrate’ a whole succession of events and reconstruct ‘what really went on’, … aka ‘reality’. This is what Western culture teaches under the guise of ‘history’. ‘History’ is an events-based reconstruction of ‘what really went on’.
But ‘histories’ can only be from particular perspectives. The indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, if they were to use this ‘history’ technique, can show, by way of historical events, that Euro-American colonizers destroyed a wonderful established world on Turtle Island. But by using the same ‘data’, the Euro-American colonizers can show that they constructed a wonderful new world in North America. Cherry-picking so as to serve ’emotional connection’ that in turn favours one’s personal values and beliefs is inherent in our semantic reality constructions.
‘Perspectivism’ [Nietzsche] is what prevails in ‘reality’ [i.e. in the physical reality of our actual experience] since different observers bring their own uniquely, situationally included experiences to bear in their semantic constructions of ‘reality’. Indigenous aboriginal peoples not only accept ‘perspectivism’ but see in it, the essential importance of the differences in different experiential perspectives, which they respect and in no way seek to ‘average out’ in some notional ‘common objective truth based reality’. These important experiential difference are the basis, when brought together within a ‘learning circle’ where the ‘heartfelt truth’ of personal experiences are shared [brought into connective coherent confluence], for bringing forth a ‘holographic view’ of the transforming relational continuum in which we all share inclusion.
Getting back to the problem with giving meaning to ‘events’, the ‘objectifying’ of local-in-space-and-time ‘events’ sets up a situation where anyone can ‘cherry-pick’ the events they need to manipulatively construct a narrative that will make an ‘emotional connection’ with a whole lot of people. That is, a politician can start with what he believes is an emotional niche need in a lot of people, and cherry pick events that can be put together in a narrative that will fit this emotional connection niche.
When other people try to break up the coherency of this emotionally connected, cherry picked narrative, the shrewd politician will simply keep repeating the same cherry-picked points, over and over again so as to sustain the emotionally connected understanding, and since the internet and social media are an ‘echo chamber’, the emotionally connective, cherry-picked narrative can, with such persistent backing, ‘go viral’ and ‘stay viral’.
Most of this can be found in Wikipedia if one looks up ‘post-truth’.
What is missing there is the role of science, as discussed here; i.e. the problem in Western culture generally, of the imputing of foundational meaning in ‘events’ as in ‘science’ and ‘mathematics’ which permeates Western discourse as well. There should be no surprise that it does since, as Whorf has shown, science derives from noun-and-verb Indo-European language-and-grammar architecture;
“It is sometimes stated that Newtonian space, time, and matter are sensed by everyone intuitively, whereupon relativity is cited as showing how mathematical analysis can prove intuition wrong. This, besides being unfair to intuition, is an attempt to answer offhand question (1) put at the outset of this paper, to answer which this research was undertaken. Presentation of the findings now nears its end, and I think the answer is clear. The offhand answer, laying the blame upon intuition for our slowness in discovering mysteries of the Cosmos, such as relativity, is the wrong one. The right answer is: Newtonian space, time, and matter are no intuitions. They are receipts from culture and language. That is where Newton got them.” – Benjamin Whorf, ‘The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language’
We know that the noun-and-verb language-and-grammar structure sets up narratives based on notional ‘things-in-themselves’ (noun-subjects) and ‘what these things-in-themselves do’ (noun-subjects inflecting verbs) and ‘the results that are produced by what things do’ (subject-verb-predicate). These are the ‘material dynamics’ that science uses as the assumed framework of nature’s dynamics in order to study nature’s dynamics. We could expose this framework’s over-simplicity just by acknowledging field/matter nonduality which is the finding of modern physics; i.e. subjects are notional stand-alone things-in-themselves that jumpstart actions and results in noun-and-verb (scientific) language-and-grammar.
We deny the innate, natural nonduality of relational form in relational flow when we say “Katrina is growing larger and stronger” and “Katrina is ravaging New Orleans”. Such over-simplistic semantic reality constructs, as Nietzsche has pointed out, are the result of ‘double, complementary errors of grammar’; (a) the imputing of ‘being’ to a relational activity (a relational storming feature in the relational flow-plenum), and (b) imputing of innate powers of genetic agency (self-development, self-initiated actions and accomplishments) to the ‘being’ we have semantically created in (a).
But let’s go to some examples that you can imagine yourself getting trapped into, in regard to Western science and Western moral judgement based Justice’s assumption that a stand-alone event can be taken to be an ‘objectively real thing-in-itself’ as in calculus and as in general ‘rational intellection’. Imagine that you are a male and you did the politically incorrect thing of groping your date, thinking that she would like it, and it turns out that, unbeknownst to you or the court (she doesn’t like to share it with non-intimates), she had been sexually assaulted in her early life and continues to suffer PTSD from her early experience. This PTSD is triggered by the grope and she goes ballistic, screams and runs for the nearest policeman who arrests you and you go on trial for sexual assault wherein the court, according to its standard practice, will set out to find the ‘objective truth’ of events transpiring in the space and time bounded window in question.
It is important to understand what underpins the assumption that we can extract ‘objective truth’ from a differentiated local-in-space-and-time window.
What are the assumptions science makes in this regard [we can recall here that forensic science is the standard used to assess the ‘objective truth’ of testimony of what transpired within the space and time limited window]. Science, in a basic, foundational way, uses the technique of chopping up the natural reality of our physical experience into a bunch of small parts to make it easier to ‘solve’ what is going on within the chopped up proxy framework, assuming in so doing, that the solutions apply also to unchopped-up natural phenomena.
“Origin of Mathematical Physics. Let us go further and study more closely the conditions which have assisted the development of mathematical physics. We recognise at the outset the efforts of men of science have always tended to resolve the complex phenomenon given directly by experiment into a very large number of elementary phenomena, and that in three different ways.
First, with respect to time. Instead of embracing in its entirety the progressive development of a phenomenon, we simply try to connect each moment with the one immediately preceding. We admit that the present state of the world only depends on the immediate past, without being directly influenced, so to speak, by the recollection of a more distant past. Thanks to this postulate, instead of studying directly the whole succession of phenomena, we may confine ourselves to writing down its differential equation; for the laws of Kepler we substitute the law of Newton. … …
— Henri Poincaré, ‘Science and Hypothesis’, Chapter IX, Hypotheses in Physics”
As the trial continues to gather ‘facts’ and assemble them for interpretation by the prosecution and defence, it turns out that the girl was at the time wearing monitoring equipment to study a heart murmur so many of her physical properties (heart rate, respiration etc.) were recorded and these verify her claim of extreme emotional distress associated with ‘the grope’ that transpired within the space and time window in question. She experienced an avalanche of terrifying emotions that could only have been ‘caused’ by the male who sexually assaulted her.
But, … are avalanches ‘caused’ or ‘triggered’? Are avalanches just the culmination of the progressive development of a phenomenon that are ‘triggered’ rather than ‘caused’. If this is so, there should be no expectation of being able to isolate ‘objective truth’ within a restricted space and time window. This is because we violate the condition that allowed us to chop things up into local space and time windows whereby; “the present state of the world depends only on the immediate past, without being directly influenced, so to speak, by the recollection of a more distant past”
As Poincaré noted, scientists and mathematicians have made these rather large, unjustified ‘simplifying assumptions’ in order to make it easier to solve problems. Thus we must keep in mind that the ‘reality’ in which local-in-space-and-time ‘events’ can be considered to contain ‘objective truths’ is clearly NOT the reality of ‘nature’. Nature cannot be chopped up into little bits that have self-standing meaning. As Poincare has elsewhere shown, this is equivalent to chopping up infinity into local bits which implies that ‘infinity’ is something real in the present.
Nature cannot be chopped up into little bits that can be put back together to recreate what was there before we chopped it up into little bits. In other words, the ‘reality of science’ is not the ‘reality of our natural experience’; … it is a ‘semantic reality’ that makes use of simplifications built into noun and verb Indo-European/scientific language-and grammar. The more crisp and concise the semantic reality of science, the more we break our bonds with the reality of our natural experience. Or, as Einstein puts it;
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” – Einstein
Just as the event window where the slave shoots the slave-master is considered as containing ‘objective truths’, so also is the event window wherein the Middle East terrorist launches the 9/11 attack considered as containing ‘objective truths’, meaning that science and the courts will assume that “the present depends only on the immediate past”. This assumption means that the centuries of oppressive Euro-American colonizer control over the indigenous peoples of the Middle East does not enter into the events of 9/11/2001.
This assumption is very convenient for Euro-American colonizers since it forces one to assume that the source of what transpires in the narrow local-in-space-and-time window derives from the subjects (logical elements) included in the window which science models as ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves with ‘their own’ internal process sourced actions and results’. Of course, the indigenous peoples of North America look right through this transparent lie, and bluntly note that the 9/11 terrorist attack is ‘pushback’ for relentless oppression and humiliation imposed on indigenous peoples by Euro-American colonizers. The Justice courts of the Euro-American colonizers [who have been for centuries in control on a global basis, have the gall to present themselves always as ‘innocent and righteous’ and the desperate rebels rising up against them to try to break out of their colonizer oppression, as ‘evil, unprovoked offenders’.
The high courts of the Euro-American sovereign states cannot be questioned since they are the ultimate grounding reference on questions of ‘truth’ and ‘moral righteousness’; i.e. the Western ‘sovereign state’ is a ‘secularized theological concept’.
“The notion of “absolute, unlimited power held permanently in a single person or source, inalienable, indivisible, and original” is a definition of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. This “God died around the time of Machiavelli…. Sovereignty was … His earthly replacement.” Walker, R. B. J. and Mendlovitz, Saul H. “Interrogating State Sovereignty.”
All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts, not only because of their historical development … but also because of their systematic structure. Bartelson, Jens. A Genealogy of Sovereignty.
Evidently, influences are transmitted from nonlocal spacetimes into the local ‘event space-and-time’ as in the example of PTSD impacting local-in-space-and-time events, and also in the case of ‘rebel actions’ of long oppressed indigenous peoples.
However, Western science and Western Justice do not allow the understanding that people can serve as vents that transmit influences from the nonlocal to the local point on which they can act [Emerson]. E.g. long-building relational tensions can give rise to local eruptions (e.g. earthquakes, avalanches), so that it does not ‘make sense’ to constrain one’s investigation to the space and time window in which the events transpire as if that could reveal and explain the source of the events.
Thus, the common mainstream science assumption that differentiation can separate out space and time windows with stand-alone meaning, is bogus. Or, in the words of Mach, such assumptions are convenient simplifications that deliver ‘economy of thought’, but must not be confused for the physical reality of our actual relational experience.
“We … should beware lest the intellectual machinery, employed in the representation of the world on the stage of thought, be regarded as the basis of the real world.” – Ernst Mach
In Nietzsche’s view, such alleged ‘objective truth’ of local-in-space-and-time ‘events’ is an unsupportable ‘belief’ which is in a state of collapse, nihilism being one of the byproducts of this collapse.
‘Science’, or rather, … ‘the common belief in the ‘truths’ put forth by ‘science’’, has been ‘institutionalized’ in the now globally dominating Western culture. The general ‘hole’ in ‘science’ and ‘rationality’ can be seen in its assumptions that purport ‘objective truth’ to limited-in-space-and-time ‘events’. This shows up in Western medicine, Western psychiatry, Western politics and in Western social dynamics generally [though critics abound, criticism bounces off these institutionalized scientific assumptions like water off a duck’s back]
If one experiences an avalanche of microbial staphylococcus pneumoniae ‘pathogens’ terrorizing the body, this will obscure the progressive depletion of vitamic C from ‘le terrain’ that is the deficiency based source of this inverted avalanche of ‘pathogens’. Nevertheless, ‘attack of pathogens’ will be the diagnosis and the accepted ‘operative reality’ that will shape the response [the counter attack with anti-biotics]. This diagnosis is evidently an ‘anthropomorphism’ complete with moral judgement [those microbes are out to get us, let’s exterminate these evil assassins.].
Similarly, if one is situationally included in a stressful environment where anxieties build to the breaking point in sensitive people; i.e. where one’s behaviour becomes ‘psychotic’, science will see that the ‘abnormal’ behaviour can be isolated to a space-window containing only the manifest expression of the psychotic behaviour; i.e. the ‘psychotic person’, so that science can limit its search for the source of the problem to the body of the psychotic individual, and the best of the scientists in psychiatry will find ways to ‘chop it out of you’ in an even blunter and more mechanical manner than priests used to exorcise ‘evil spirits’; e.g. “the Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz is credited with inventing the lobotomy in 1935, for which he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1949”
The increasingly frenetic and anxiety-spawning relational social dynamic that inductively [epigenetically] actualizes psychotic breakdowns lies ‘outside’ of the window of objective truths that science uses to study and understand such maladies and to perform repairs that aim to excise [exorcise] them.
Western Courts of Justice, just like Western Medical Authorities, are not ready to accept that the source of ‘abnormalities’ that manifest through individuals arises from an abnormal relational social dynamic that they preside over and protect from rebellions that are seen as evil pathogens attacking it. It is so much easier to assume that the abnormality originates IN the person through whom it vents, than to have to assume that ‘it takes a whole community to raise a terrorist/psychotic’, a viewpoint that would ‘put the whole community on trial’ each time a ‘pathogen’ was apprehended [as is the natural traditional understanding in indigenous aboriginal communities, and as in ‘restorative justice’ generally].
We live in a ‘post-truth’ world which is not going to ‘go away’; i.e. it is not a case of our having recently ‘lost our grip on the truth’ because of too many effusions of noise from politicians, corporate media and other sources, so as to raise the possibility that we shall filter through the noise and get a renewed grip on ‘the objective truth’, that was temporarily obfuscated.
“There is no ‘objective truth’, there is only the truth of lived experience and everything else, such as we weave into our personalized semantic narratives, is interpretation coloured by our uniquely differing experiential perspectives, and our various values and beliefs.
The ‘cherry-picking’ of data is the general case. That’s what logical propositions are all about; i.e. they are inherently subjective and incomplete [Goedel’s theorem].
Political correctness’ is about cherry picking one ‘event’ in the utterer’s life and putting it into the echo-chamber of electronic media [internet and social media] where it inductively orchestrates an ‘emotional connection’ and rallies together a herd of people including the targeted person’s employer [who will fire, on the herd’s encouragement, the person targeted for his politically incorrect utterance.]. The targeted person’s long-time friends and supporters, similarly encouraged by the emotionally aroused herd, will break ties with the targeted person, and otherwise participate in alienating him and destroying his life.
This is the same pattern as plays out where people have manipulated teenage girls to get compromising pictures of them that will rally the herd so as to publicly crucify them in their most sensitive phase of their life. The fact that such political incorrectness could be found generally in the populace matters little. The echo-chamber, gone-viral phenomenon does not come from ‘thoughtful reflection’, it comes from this surfacing of an emotional connection, an avalanche that is ‘triggered’ by a single data point in the manner that a single grain of sand can trigger an avalanche. It cannot be understood as an ‘event in itself’ but must be understood in terms of the building of a matrix of relational tensions wherein a violent release of accumulating energy can be ‘triggered’ by a minor event [‘the butterfly effect’].
‘Truth’ is not something we are going to ‘find again’ because we have never before found it. It does not exist in the physical reality of our actual experience. ‘Truth’ is an abstraction that exists only in a logical binary tautological partnership with ‘falsehood’. It is a limit found only at infinity which is not a place that we can actually get to in our life experience.
“What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms—in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.
We still do not know where the urge for truth comes from; for as yet we have heard only of the obligation imposed by society that it should exist: to be truthful means using the customary metaphors—in moral terms: the obligation to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all. Now man of course forgets that this is the way things stand for him. Thus he lies in the manner indicated, unconsciously and in accordance with habits which are centuries’ old; and precisely by means of this unconsciousness and forgetfulness he arrives at his sense of truth.” — Nietzsche, ‘On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense’
Currently, we are ‘spinning our wheels’ in an unending debate that attempts to sift out the ‘truth’ as people and politicians continue to ‘dump’ into the commons of silence, all manner of ‘cherry-picked’ semantic reality constructions that satisfy personal emotional needs and value and belief systems.
Notice how ‘the reputable media’ has backed off their view that the difference between ‘truth’ and ‘lies’ (‘fake news’) resides in whether news reports have been fully checked and validated for ‘factual integrity’. The inference that ‘the truth’ lies in the factual integrity of reported events is being exposed as an insufficient condition since one is free to cherry-pick and string together selected ‘verified facts’ so as to construct a ‘semantic reality’ that can fill a niche-need for emotional connection across a particular social group [e.g. American labourers of non-recent-immigration origin; i.e. officially credentialed Euro-American colonizer-anointed, native-vanquishing settler-founder stock]
Just as few people are prepared to give serious consideration to Nietzsche’s prediction on the collapse of reason [which he roughly estimated to transpire in the 1880 to 2080 timeframe], few are prepared to give serious consideration to the proposition that the only solid truth is the truth of one’s own life experience. Such ‘truth’ is understandably different for each of us, giving us each a unique perspective without the prospect of finding some ‘common objective truth’ other than by the means noted in Nietzsche’s above exploration of ‘what, then, is truth?’ [“the obligation to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all.”]
Nevertheless, other cultures who embrace this view that personal experience is the sole truth, value the unique difference in personal experience based truths, because these are important differences, which have deep roots in the transforming relational dynamic, that can contribute to a ‘holographic’ understanding of the common living space dynamic, when brought together in connective confluence, as in a ‘learning circle’.
* * *
‘Semantic reality’ is where the cherry picking goes on. It is the reality of science and reason. The following footnote elaborates on the differences in understanding within and across ‘dualist semantic reality (SR)’ and ‘nondualist reality of physical experience’ (RE);
Footnote: Nonduality, Duality and Their Respective Realities.
Western society has ‘institutionalized’ ‘duality’ and made it the official way of thinking about ourselves and the world. It is the scientific, rational, or ‘reason’ based way of understanding self and world, and, as such, it is a ‘lesser’ reality than the nondual reality which comes with direct intuitive experiencing of the world.
I would describe the reality that associates with the dualist scientific, rational, reasoned mode of understanding as ‘semantic reality’ (SR) since it comes from associating words with the superficial visible forms that are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of unbounded relational complexity. For example, the local, visible, material form of a ‘storming’ in the atmosphere is the manifest aspect of unlimited relational complexity. When we put a name on it such as ‘Katrina’, and use that name as a noun-subject in semantic constructs such as “Katrina is growing larger and stronger”, … “Katrina is ravaging New Orleans”, … we are over-simplifying the physical phenomenon by imposed ‘fixed identity’ on the local, visible, material form.
‘Katrina’ is NOT the source of her own development, nor is she the jumpstart source of her own behaviour, but that is the scientific, rational, Western view of our own ‘self’ and we use it to build ‘semantic realities’ that never get back down to the relational complexity that underlies the named superficial features.
This exclusion from scientific ‘semantic reality’ (SR) of relational complexity, by imposing word-name-labels on local, visible, material forms leads to what David Bohm calls ‘incoherence’ in our social dynamic because we are employing an over-simplified ‘semantic reality’ our ‘operative reality’ that orchestrates and shapes our actions. The problem is that the physical reality of our actual experience is relationally complex. So the reality ‘in our heads’ is far too simple to use as a go-by for the relationally complex physical reality of our actual experience.
Nonduality associates with the relational complex physical reality of our actual experience and includes duality as a special, simplified case within it.
For example, Newtonian physics is dualist in that it separates ‘matter’ and ‘field’, depicting them as two separate and mutually exclusive things. However, modern physics is nondualist in that it understand matter and field as a nonduality, wherein ‘field’ [relational influence] is primary as in the atmospheric field-flow example whereby ‘Katrina’ is ‘appearances’ [Schroedinger’s ‘schaumkommen’].
Note that while the word ‘Katrina’ establishes a fixed and persisting identity for a local, visible, material ‘appearance’, the form is not a thing-in-itself as it appears, but as Emerson says in ‘The Method of Nature’, it gives us that impression, like the form of a cataract which persists even though it owes its form entirely to that which is flowing through it.
In the physical reality of our actual experience, according to modern physics, so it is with all ‘things’.
As Einstein observes in ‘The Evolution of Physics’, thanks to our understanding of field/matter nonduality and the equivalence of matter and energy, there is no longer any need to deal with ‘things-in-themselves’ since they are only ‘appearances’ that have fixed and persisting ‘existence’ thanks only to our noun-and-verb language; i.e. local, visible, material things-in-themselves exist only in ‘semantic reality’ (SR) and do not exist in the physical reality of our actual experience (RE).
If we look out into the universe and see the stars and planets, in the nondualist understanding, these are like storm-cells in that they are continually ‘taking form’ as relational features within the transforming relational continuum. It is convenient for us to give them names, but when we do, this implies a fixed and persisting identity to the star or planet as ‘things-in-themselves’ which we know is not the case. They are continually forming and being reformed as relational features in the transforming relational continuum. The ‘field’ is the soup in which stars and planets are continually gathering and being regathered as in a field/matter nonduality. New stars appear and previously appearing stars are recycled.
While nonduality characterizes the physical reality of our actual experience (RE), our Western standard ‘reality’ is the ‘semantic reality’ (SR) of science and rationality.
There are many problems that are arising by our ‘standard Western culture practice’ of employing ‘semantic reality’ (SR) aka ‘science and reason’ within the relationally complex physical reality of our actual experience (RE). These problems can be understood in the terms that, in physical reality (RE), epigenetic influence inductively actualizes genetic expression’ while in semantic reality (SR), genetic expression is seen as being actualized by ‘genetic agency’ residing within local, visible, material ‘things-in-themselves’. For example, the genetic expression manifesting in the growth and strengthening of ‘Katrina’ would, in SR, be seen as arising from ‘genetic agency’ within ‘Katrina’, whereas the same genetic expression manifesting in the growth and strengthening of ‘Katrina’, would, in RE, be inductively actualized by epigenetic influence immanent in the transforming relational continuum.
Problem #1 Causal Responsibility
In physical reality (RE), the person through whom an action manifests is not the source of the action; i.e. it is not his ‘genetic agency’ that is sourcing his action. As Emerson says in ‘The Method of Nature’, an organism is not a ‘thing-in-itself’ with its own ‘genetic agency’ that is sourcing its actions. The ecosystem includes the pear tree which produces pears. It is incomplete to say ‘the pear tree produces pears’ since the ‘pear tree’ is not a thing-in-itself but a relational form within the transforming relational continuum.
Likewise, it is incomplete to say that ‘the child-soldier’ killed the villagers since the child-soldier is included within a relationally complex social dynamic and is transmitting influences from dysfunctional relational dynamics through to the local point on which he himself can act. However the ‘semantic reality’ of science and reason (SR) reduces this nonduality to the simple dualism where the child-soldier is seen as fully and solely responsible for his actions, the semantic formulation being; “The child-soldier killed the villagers”.
Cultures with relational languages which acknowledge the natural primacy of nonduality over duality and thus the natural primacy of experience-based intuition over intellectual science and reason, … employ ‘restorative justice’ which is ‘beyond good and evil’ in the sense that it does not seek to establish causal responsibility [‘it takes a whole community to raise a child-soldier’] but instead orients to cultivating, restoring and sustaining balance and harmony the relational dynamics we all share inclusion in.]
If a person in a conflicted relational social milieu becomes a vent for relational tensions that build up in the milieu, his nasty act will, according to the semantic reality of science and reason (SR) be fully and solely attributable to that person, thus science and reason will focus on eliminating the troublesome person rather than trying to resolve the conflict and relational stress in the relational social milieu. The following example explores nonduality in the Mayan culture;
In a nondual paradigm, the spiritual [field] transcends the physical [material], meaning that it includes the physical [material] in a larger whole. So, in this nondual sense, the spiritual [field] domain is indeed superior to the physical [material]. However, a common trap that reveals a misunderstanding of this principle is to make the spiritual [field] and physical [material] mutually exclusive, two forever-separated poles like apples and oranges that cannot mingle. This was the error of dualism in Cartesian thinking, also evident in much Christian dogma, which always results in the fundamentalist attitude that seeks to annihilate the physical [material], the body, the heathens, the enemy in whatever form it takes.” – John Major Jenkins
Likewise, in the semantic reality of science and reason (SR), one says that ‘all men are born equal since the child is seen as a ‘thing-in-itself’ residing in an empty Euclidian space, … unlike in the physical reality of our actual experience where the child is a relational form within a transforming relational continuum/plenum.
“Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum as opposed to a vacuum and is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves.” — David Bohm
Since the child is a relational form included in the transforming relational plenum, it is a vent that is transmitting influences from the nonlocal to the local point on which its genius can act. Since we are each uniquely situationally included in the transforming relational continuum, it follows that we are NOT the fountainhead of our actions and accomplishments, but are vents that transmit influences from the ambient relational social milieu to the point on which our genius can act. Our experience based reason screams out this to be the case, while science and reason in our semantic reality insist that we are each fully and solely causally responsible for our own actions and accomplishments.
The general pattern should be clear, at this point; i.e. the semantic reality of science and reason (SR) removes from consciousness the ‘epigenetic influence’ of the relational milieu that is inductively actualizing genetic expression and replaces it with ‘genetic agency’ purportedly residing within the ‘thing-in-itself’ implied by the name we give to local visible forms, and then employ within subject-verb-predicate constructs. After saying “Katrina is growing larger and stronger” we have effectively banished from our consciousness, the relational milieu and it’s immanent ‘epigenetic influence’ that is inductively actualizing the form and its dynamics.
In all cases, our experience-based intuition is affirming the nondual understandings which correspond to the physical reality of our actual experience; i.e. where epigenetic influence is inductively actualizing genetic expression. Our science and reason, meanwhile, continues to insist on the ‘correctness’ of the dualist understanding which sees forms as ‘things-in-themselves’.
(a) Bacteria-‘caused’ physical illness:
– (SR) pathogenic bacteria attacking the body are causally responsible for illness and must be eliminated.
– (RE) conditions of imbalance in the relational dynamic of the physical terrain are such that epigenetic influence is inductively actualizing the proliferation of bacteria; i.e. the proliferation of bacteria is the ‘visible result’ of ‘illness’ constituted by invisible relational tensions associated with imbalance.
(b) Biochemical-‘caused’ mental illness:
– (SR) the imbalance of biochemical neurotransmitters (biochemicals) is causally responsible for psychotic moods and behaviours such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
– (RE) Invisible relational tensions (social/environmental) aka ‘epigenetic influences’ are inductively actualizing visible mood swings and psychotic behaviours, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; i.e. the psychotic behaviours are the ‘visible result’ of ‘illness’ constituted by invisible relational tensions associated with imbalance.
(c) Terrorist/extremist-caused injury, death and destruction:
– (SR) Pathogenic individuals attacking the community are causally responsible for injury, death and destruction and must be eliminated.
– (RE) Conditions of imbalance in the relational social dynamic, are such that epigenetic influence is inductively actualizing the proliferation of extremists; i.e. the proliferation of extremism is the ‘visible result’ of ‘societal illness’ constituted by invisible relational tensions associated with colonizer-colonized imbalance.
There are as many of these comparisons to make as there are physical phenomena. One of particular interest concerns a prediction that many people ‘believe’ is well-founded, but which clearly falls into the dualist realm of ‘semantic reality’ (SR);
(d) Anthropogenic global warming (AGW)
– (SR) Humans are polluting the environment and are causally responsible for irreversible long term damage such as ‘global warming’ by producing greenhouse gas emissions that are heating up the earth through the greenhouse gas effect.
– (RE) Humans are relational forms in a transforming relational continuum. We are like sailboaters that derive our power and steerage from the relational dynamics we are included in. Our powers do not come from ourselves; … they are not our own ‘genetic agency’ so we cannot have an ‘over-riding influence’ on the system we are included in. To believe so comes from human ego-inflation as associates with dualism.
AGW is a prediction specifying how much temperatures will be higher than ‘normal’ in the long term (e.g. in the year 2100), an excess that humans and our activities are allegedly causally responsible for.
In the nondual (RE) understanding, humans are not causally responsible for anything since they do not exist as ‘independent beings’ but are relational forms within the transforming relational continuum.
‘Causal responsibility’ is a semantic reality construct of science and reason (SR) which rests dependently on the dualist understanding wherein, in this case, ‘humans’ are considered to be ‘independent’ of the ‘environment’ they are influencing. In this view, humans ‘have their own powers’ aka their own ‘genetic agency’ which is viewed as causally responsible for ‘genetic expression’ such as ‘global warming’.
This impression derives from semantic constructs such as ‘the farmer produces wheat’, implying that because of the farmer’s actions, he is causally responsible for wheat production.
In the nondualist view, the farmer is included within the overall relational dynamic which is the source of both humans (farmers) and plants (wheat). Thus we have the same situation as in Emerson’s example in ‘The Method of Nature’ wherein the ecosystem included the pear-tree which produces pears. The semantic construct ‘the pear tree produces pears is logically correct but radically ‘incomplete’ as far as the physical reality of our actual experience is concerned.
In the systems science, this incompleteness is described in the terms “every system is included in a relational suprasystem”. While we can describe the ‘university’ as a ‘system’ in terms of its departments and faculties, plant, students and their processes, it is included in the larger relational suprasystem of community where it satisfies some suprasystem need; i.e. it is not that the university dynamic is driven by its own ‘genetic agency’, but that the university and its development and actions are inductively actualized by epigenetic influence immanent in the relational dynamics of the community-suprasystem.
Just as the farmer does not, really, ‘produce wheat’, humans do not, really, ‘produce pollution’. Humans are agents of transformation like the storm-cell called ‘Katrina’, but neither humans nor storm-cells are the jumpstart source of anything because both humans and storm-cells are are included participants in the one world dynamic.
There is substance to the allegation that ‘language bewitches our understanding’ [Wittgenstein] and ‘grammar is like God’ [Nietzsche] and Nietzsche explains how this comes about; i.e. we observe and experience a relational dynamic within the transforming relational continuum such as a ‘storming’ and make two complementary ‘errors of grammar’ and come up with ‘the storm is growing larger and stronger and ravaging New Orleans’; i.e. thanks to ‘errors of grammar’ we have banished the ‘epigenetic influence that inductively actualized the relational activity and its development and actions, replacing it with notional ‘genetic agency’ that now belongs to the ‘thing-in-itself’ ‘independent being’ that we created with our error of grammar.
Where did this understanding-bewitching semantic trickery come from?
Nietzsche points to exactly where it comes from; i.e. it comes from Western culture ‘ego’, our ‘sense of self’.
As ‘dualists’, we think of ourselves as ‘farmers who produce wheat’ where it is our ‘genetic agency’ that is causally responsible for the production of wheat, in the manner that the pear-tree produces pears [eclipsing the bigger picture wherein the pear-tree is included in the ecosystem, …or in this case, the human is included in the transforming relational continuum]. That is, only in ‘semantic reality’ (SR) is the human an inhabitant that is separate from the habitat.
Indigenous aboriginal peoples, as ‘non-dualists’, think of themselves as inhabitants that are included in the habitat. That is, they think in terms of an inhabitant-habitat nonduality as affirmed in the physical reality of our actual experience (RE).
These two options gives us two options for how we think of our ‘self’. Nietzsche calls the nondualist option (RE) the ‘bigger sagacity natural Self’ and the dualist option (SR), the ‘lesser sagacity ego-self’.
Western culture has institutionalized the ‘lesser sagacity ego-self’ which puts ‘semantic reality’ (SR) into an unnatural primacy over ‘experiential reality’ (RE).
Nietzsche describes how this belief in ‘ego’ has us substitute genetic agency everywhere, as the animating influence attached to noun-subjects, giving the impression that the ‘genetic expression’ that we observe, is driven by local, visible, material ‘things-in-themselves’, thus removing ‘epigenetic influence’ from the picture entirely, and thus semantically reducing the transforming relational continuum, to a thing-in-itself causal action and result driven world;
The following three Nietzsche quotes all hit on how language and grammar are bewitching our understanding;
“In its origin language belongs in the age of the most rudimentary form of psychology. We enter a realm of crude fetishism when we summon before consciousness the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of language, in plain talk, the presuppositions of reason. Everywhere it sees a doer and doing; it believes in will as the cause; it believes in the ego, in the ego as being, in the ego as substance, and it projects this faith in the ego-substance upon all things — only thereby does it first create the concept of “thing.” Everywhere “being” is projected by thought, pushed underneath, as the cause; the concept of being follows, and is a derivative of, the concept of ego. In the beginning there is that great calamity of an error that the will is something which is effective, that will is a faculty. Today we know that it is only a word.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’
“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
“That which gives the extraordinary firmness to our belief in causality …. is belief that every event is a deed, that every deed presupposes a doer, it is belief in the “subject.” Is this belief in the concept of subject and predicate not a great stupidity?” … “Indeed, nothing has yet possessed a more naive power of persuasion than the error concerning being, as it has been formulated by the Eleatics, for example. After all, every word and every sentence we say speak in its favor. Even the opponents of the Eleatics still succumbed to the seduction of their concept of being: Democritus, among others, when he invented his atom. “Reason” in language — oh, what an old deceptive witch she is! I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’
Anthropocentric Global Warming is a dualist notion that sees man as having his own genetic agency that is fully and solely causally responsible for his actions and results. Just as dualism claims that ‘the farmer produces wheat’ , the claim is that ‘man produces pollution’ just as ‘Katrina produces devastation in New Orleans’ and ‘the pear tree produces pears’. In all of these examples, what goes missing in the dualist view [which is not lost in the nondualist view] is that the jumpstart author, in each case, is included in a relational suprasystem so that while ‘it’ is presented as a notional thing-in-itself’ with its own jumpstart genetic agency, it is instead inductively actualized by the epigenetic influence that is immanent in the suprasystem it is included in. That is, the words/names we introduce as authors of ‘their own’ actions and results; ‘farmer’, ‘man’, ‘Katrina’, ‘pear tree’, while they are local, visible forms, are NOT ‘things-in-themselves with their own genetic agency as portrayed in ‘semantic reality’ but are instead epigenetically induced relational forms within the transforming relational continuum. Forms that are inductively actualized/engendered within a flow, while they can stir things up, are innately incapable of determining the future of the flow.
Science and reason construct a ‘semantic reality’ (SR) in which to build representations and theories about our ‘selves’ and the ‘world’. It is a dualist self and world in that it depicts our ‘self’ as an ‘inhabitant’ that is ‘independent’ of the ‘habitat’.
Our experience based intuition gives us a direct sense of the physical reality we are included in wherein we feel how relational influences are inductively actualizing and shaping our actions and ‘accomplishments’.
In spite of science and reason telling us we are ‘independent beings’ who are fully and solely responsible for our own actions and accomplishments, … we can feel how the matrix of relations that we are uniquely situationally included in is inductively actualizing, orchestrating and shaping our actions and accomplishments.
We can think that our actions are coming from our own genetic agency and that is great if great accomplishments come of them; i.e. it pleases our ego. However, if we think that our actions are coming from our own genetic agency but they amount to very little in the way of accomplishments, this may be discouraging to our ego. We notice that the relational matrix that individuals are included in seems to have a significant impact on actions and accomplishments but none of that ‘epigenetic influence’ shows up in science and reason where it is assumed that noun-and-verb constructs imply local genetic agency that is the full and sole source of what happens (genetic expression).
In the case of humans, dualist science and reason as in ‘semantic reality’ (SR) attribute full and sole causal responsibility for human actions to ‘genetic agency’ notionally residing within the human [epigenetic inductive influence is ‘written out of the semantic script].
In the nondualist understanding of our physical reality of our actual experience (RE), the notion of ‘genetic agency’ of humans as ‘things-in-themselves’ does not arise, and as with the storming in the flow, epigenetic influence is the inductive actualizing of relational forms, their development and their actions. The concept of causal responsibility does not arise in this nondualist (RE) view. Epigenetic influence derives from the transforming relational continuum; i.e. it is impossible to track it back and find closure as to the ‘source’ of present ‘genetic expression’. For this reason, nondualist cultures and individuals are ‘beyond good and evil’ in their justice ethics and simply seek to restore balance and harmony in the relational social dynamic.
So, just as the ego of the dualist claims that one’s grand accomplishment is fully and solely attributed to one’s own genetic agency, the nasty actions of an oppressed minority (e.g. slaves or colonized peoples) are deemed to be fully and solely attributable to the genetic agency of those holding the smoking gun [e.g. the child-soldier].
Currently, we who are the powerful one’s in the world who seem to be innately superior on the basis of our outstanding accomplishments which we presume to be due fully and solely to our own genetic agency, … are doing a lot of killing of people who we have colonized who seem very angry with us. We are justifying holding them fully and solely responsible for their violent ‘pushback’ actions on the same basis as we attribute our own superior accomplishments to our own genetic agency, … accomplishments that can be measured in terms of our monopoly control of property and wage slaves.
All of this is in accord with science and reason and semantic reality (SR), but it is not in accord with the nondualist understanding. In fact, as Nietzsche suggests, this notion of one’s own ‘genetic agency’ as the source of one’s actions and accomplishments derives from the ‘little sagacity ego-self’ which gets rid of the consciousness of the epigenetic source of genetic expression and substitutes itself and its own notional ‘genetic agency’ in place of epigenetic influence.
Thus, science and reason as in semantic reality (SR) which has us thinking in terms of ‘doers-of-deeds’ that are fully and solely responsible for their own actions and accomplishments could be a mistake. We could be blaming angry others for influence that, while venting through them, is being sourced by ourselves but hidden from our consciousness by our inflated ‘little sagacity ego-self’. Instead of managing the epigenetic fields of influence, we are mistakenly trying to manage local material things-in-themselves as if their ‘genetic agency’ was the source of their actions; e.g.
“In a nondual paradigm, the spiritual [field] transcends the physical [material], meaning that it includes the physical [material] in a larger whole. So, in this nondual sense, the spiritual domain [field] is indeed superior to the physical [material]. However, a common trap that reveals a misunderstanding of this principle is to make the spiritual [field] and physical [material] mutually exclusive, two forever-separated poles like apples and oranges that cannot mingle. This was the error of dualism in Cartesian thinking, also evident in much Christian dogma, which always results in the fundamentalist attitude that seeks to annihilate the physical [material], the body, the heathens, the enemy in whatever form it takes.” – John Major Jenkins
In modern politics and in nationalism where each nation is ‘the best in the world’, the little sagacity ego-self is having itself a field day. The growth of angry people whose violence is fully and solely attributable to their own genetic agency seems to be growing, requiring more killings.
Of course, if the animating source of dynamics turns out not to be our own ‘genetic agency’ as in science and reason’s ‘semantic reality’ (SR) but epigenetic influence that is inductively actualizing genetic expression, as the physical reality of our actual experience (RE), .. our whole social schema will have to be reassessed and we would have to switch to beyond good and evil restorative justice.
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