This ‘afterthought’ arises from reviewing my Post-Stroke-Impression (PSI-2) comment. I will keep such ‘Afterthoughts’ short, and use them to add perspective to core concepts that I have tried to capture within the ‘body’ of the ‘Post-Stroke-Impression’ commentary.
From my own post-stroke experience, it has become clear to me that what has become the Western cultural standard for an ‘operative reality’ corresponds to Erich Jantsch’s ‘third (simplest) level of reality’. This reality corresponds to the Western scientific view (pre-relativity/’Newtonian’) wherein ‘things-in-themselves’ are considered ‘real’ and are seen as the authors of action as in grammatical noun-and-verb constructs that build mental pictures in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’. Of course, there are no ‘things-in-themselves’ in the world understood as a transforming relational dynamic such as in Jantsch’s level 1 (experience-based physical) reality. So, there are bound to be problems arising from the gap between the Western ‘standard ‘thing-based’ reality’ and the ‘physically experienced (transforming relational) reality’ wherever we put the former into an unnatural precedence over the latter, which is, in Western society, almost everywhere in our formal articulations of ‘what is going on in the world’. Anything from ‘John is building a new house’ to ‘The Syrians are killing people with poison gas’ is delivering an impression of ‘reality’ in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves are doing’.
The rhetorical ‘reality’ implied by subject and verb causal actions-and-networks thereof is a convenient (but highly reductive) ‘representation’ of a relational physical reality that is far more complex (as in ‘the transforming relational continuum’). At the core of its ‘convenience’ is the fact that it identifies a ‘point source’ of cause-effect authoring that is FULLY AND SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR a stated action and its associated ‘result’. Western law and jurisprudence is built upon this ‘simplified, rhetorical, ‘what-things-in-themselves-do’ (linguistic) portrayal of reality, which also plays a foundational role in the beliefs of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Since this way of viewing dynamics identifies (notional) ‘full and sole authors’ of good and bad ects, it has become the basis for ‘rewards’ and ‘punishments’ in Western society. The simple idea is that by rewarding ‘good acts’ and by punishing ‘bad acts’, the social dynamic will augment the relative frequency of ‘good acts’ and diminish the relative frequency of ‘bad acts’; i.e. societies that think in this manner can embrace the goal of improving the ratio of good to bad acts, so as to move it ‘in the direction’ of the ultimate target of ‘all good’, ‘no bad’.
The ‘fly in the ointment’ is that there are no such things as ‘independent causal agents’. Neither plants nor animals nor humans qualify for ‘independent causal agent status’ since ‘things-in-themselves’ are rational fictions akin to the ‘independent’ variable ‘x’ in a mathematical expression. In the physical reality of the transforming relational continuum of our actual experience, there are no ‘things-in-themselves’ with their own powers of jumpstart sourcing of ’cause-and-effect actions’. Belief in such abstract linguistic constructs (i.e. ‘things-in-themselves’), applied to oneself, is the unrealistic work of human ego, as Nietzsche has clearly pointed out.
“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.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’.
What is referred to as the ‘insight’ in a stroke, is this realization that Nietzsche is talking about; i.e. that pulls the rug out from under (the metaphysics of) noun-and-verb language that constructs our ‘being-based’ doer-deed mental models of a world dynamic that is, instead, intrinsically relational.
Let me share with you the view from ‘inside the stroke’. The concept of people as ‘things-in-themselves’ triggered by a name-label falls away’ in the wake of the stroke. That is, when you start to talk about an experience you have had which involves a daughter, son, cousin, nephew or friend, you may not recall their name. But you remember them (and things in general) in a relational context, in which case they are no longer understood as ‘things-in-themselves’ but as relational features in the transforming relational continuum that you/we/they share inclusion in. I have not forgotten my children, sisters, nephew, grand-daughers and grandson etc because the relational mode of knowing has not been erased by the stroke, but the thing-in-itself based way of knowing has been erased, or at least seriously weakened. Instead of knowing people in the guise of things-in-themselves-with-their-own-jumpstart behaviours, we know them, post-stroke, in the manner they are known in the aboriginal culture, in a relational sense such as ‘Dances with wolves’, or ‘drinks espresso and plays guitar’ and a thousand other relational cues that allow you to understand a person via their relational interactions, without taking the route of Bitzer in Dickens’ ‘Hard Times’ and knowing things in terms of their local physical thing-in-themselves components/attributes.
These thing-in-themselves identities tagged by name-labels is what ‘goes missing’ in a stroke, but not so the relational mode of understanding. It is fully possible to recall a complex story about a friend or relative without being able to recall their name and/or impute to them ‘thing-in-themselves (being) status’. No, it is not that ‘we forget names’ (per se) in a stroke, … it is instead that we no longer ‘see things’ in our mind’s eye in terms of ‘things-in-themselves and what things-in-themselves do’. Our visual sensing informs us of the transforming relational world we share inclusion in (without having to reduce our perception to language-based terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’. This understanding is … the ‘stroke of insight’ that Jill Bolte Taylor refers to in ‘My stroke of Insight’. As David Bohm might put it; … the world is given only once as a transforming relational continuum in which we (all relational forms) are included.
The stroke associates with a ‘loss’, to be sure, but some losses can, at the same time, be gains. The loss can be described in terms of Erich Jantsch’s ‘three levels of perception’. Not only is level 1, which includes (implicitly) within it levels 2 and 3, ‘not lost’ in the stroke, it resumes it’s natural precedence over levels 2 and 3. This is the source of the ‘insight’ that comes with the stroke; i.e. Western culture and language have elevated level 3 [perception that is in ‘mechanistic’ terms of ‘things-in-themselves-and-what-things-in-themselves-do] to an unnatural primacy. One might say that such unnatural elevating ‘blocks our cognitive access’ to level 1 (relational) cognition. The ‘stroke of insight’ comes in our getting back in touch with our level 1 cognition which was ‘obscured/eclipsed’ by Western culture’s unnatural elevating of level 3 ‘thing-in-itself’ based reality to ‘primary status.
The fact that the stroke ‘drops out’ the notional ‘things-in-themselves’ of level 3 serves to ‘correct’ the Western culture error of putting level 3 into an unnatural precedence over level 1 In other words, a stroke of the Jill Bolte Taylor type ‘restores’ the natural precedence of level 1 (relational) perception which has, in Western culture social dynamics, been obscured by the cultural practice of elevating level 3 perception [in terms of what notional-things-in-themselves do] into an unnatural primacy that obscures the relational mode of perception. The stroke has the effect of breaking the ‘stranglehold’ that level 3 (‘thing-in-itself-based) perception achieves through Western noun-and-verb language based ‘cultural conditioning’ of communications.
How does one ‘experience’ this stroke-induced ‘loss’ ‘that is really a gain’? The relational (NOT ‘rational’) view that remains in the wake of the drop-out of ‘thing-in-itself’ based rhetoric contains everything. It is Jantsch’s level 1 view (mode of perceiving/understanding); and it is not a ‘view’ but the experiencing of the ‘experiencing’ of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum.
This ‘restoration’ of level 1 relational perception to its natural primacy is the source of the ‘insight’ in ‘My Stroke of Insight’.
The ‘stroke of insight’ undermines the ‘powerful role’ of the abstract notion of the ‘thing-in-itself’ as cultivated and habitually employed in Western ways of thinking. In the type of stroke described in ‘My Stroke of Insight’, belief in the ‘existence’ of ‘things-in-themselves’ as the jumpstart source of action and results falls away like the ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ in the insightful parable that goes by that name. The loss of ‘knowing’ that is structured in terms of named ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these things-in-themselves do’ is what is so striking about a ‘stroke’ to friends and family of the ‘stroke experient’. How can it be that ‘he cannot remember [the names of] his own children?’ What is going on is that his basic remembrance is ‘experiential’ and ‘relational’ as differentiated from noun-and-verb grammar that is ‘intellectual’ and ‘mechanistic’ as in ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’. His remembrance of experience remains intact, NOT in the abstract mechanistic-linguistic form of name-labelled ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these things do’ a la Thomas Gradgrind’s way of rhetorically constructing ‘reality’, which happens to accord, also, with the simplistic material dynamics of Newtonian physics, … but in the form of relational dynamics within a transforming relational continuum. Instead of a reality understood in Jantsch’s level three conceptualization, we have a reality understood in level one relational conceptualization.
Can we then say that the stroke represents a net loss of cognitive functionality? Why not an increase, since it involves a restoring to its natural precedence of [experience that is described by] Jantsch’s level 1 cognition, whereas Western cultural influence has (dysfunctionally) installed level 3 cognition as the socially accepted standard for understanding the dynamics of self and world.
The ‘repairs’ that the stroke-experient is faced with implementing are largely defined by the culture-in-place that seeks to re-establish in the stroke experient, the unnatural primacy of the level 3 over level 1 mode of understanding. The challenge for the stroke experient is to hold on to his/her cognitive gains (stroke of insight) while redeveloping facility with the level 3 mode of representation with its thing-in-itself based articulation that is the ‘obligatory’ Western cultural standard.