PSI 21: Post Stroke Impressions No. 21
Western Society Nuttiness ‘In a Nutshell’
The basics of understanding the nuttiness in Western culture based ‘social dynamics’ can be captured in point form as follows;
-1- The world of our natural experience is of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum; i.e. a ‘flow’ (Tao) inhabited by relational forms.
-2- There is no such thing as ‘being’. It is pure intellectual abstraction signaled by a ‘name’ or ‘noun’ in language
-3- There are no such things as ‘beings with action-authoring powers’. This is pure intellectual abstraction contrived by conjoining a ‘verb’ and a ‘noun’.
-4- ‘Ego’ derives from attributing ‘authoring powers’ to ‘oneself’ perceived abstractly as an ‘independent being’ defined [given imputed persisting stand-alone existence] by a ‘name’.]
-5- ‘Lock-in’ due to ‘high switching costs’ is a phenomenon affecting the social relational dynamic; e.g. once one has attributed ‘authoring powers’ to beings’ (as in the Western culture psychology), the inflating of the ego (sense of being-based self-authorship), gives rise to notional ‘high achievers and low achievers’. ‘High achiever’ and ‘low achiever’ are abstract concepts depending on the abstract concept of ‘being-based-authoring’ that have no ‘reality’ in the relational world of our actual experience (since there is no such thing in relational-experiential reality as being-based authorship).
The above 5 points capture the basic psychologically aberrant underpinnings of Western culture.
‘Lock-in’ to popular belief in ‘being’ and ‘being-based authoring’ which sources ‘ego’ follows through the establishing of a social status hierarchy based on notional ‘authoring achievements’. This notion of ‘authoring achievements’ can be imputed to notional ‘things that exist’ (beings) created simply by ‘naming’, thus it is possible to create a ‘nation’ by naming it, creating a psychological base for assigning authoring achievements to the notional ‘nation’ (thing-in-itself) that is psychologically associated with the ‘name’. The fallacy in this language and grammar based ‘so(u)rcery’ is captured in the adage;
The logic of the most powerful is always the best (La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure. )– Jean de la Fontaine
The physical reality of our actual experience in a transforming relational continuum is beyond capture in the abstract terms of ‘being’ and ‘beings with authoring powers’ since it is purely ‘relational’ as in ‘the Tao’ or ‘Heraclitean flow’. In this case, we must use language that does not ‘bottom out in being’ and in notional ‘being-based authoring’ but which preserves the inherently relational nature of the world of our experience. For us to capture this in language, requires the use of ‘metaphor’ and techniques that avoid dependence on absolutes like ‘being’ and ‘being-based authoring’; i.e. that preserve the innately relational basis of the reality of our actual experience.
This avoidance of hard dependency on the notions of ‘being’ and ‘authoring’ can be accomplished by the use of metaphor and poetic reference which develops understanding of a relational form such as a ‘human’ by alluding to its relations with other ‘named things’ so that, in the end, one develops understanding in terms of a matrix of relations wherein the relations deliver understanding of the relational form [NOT thing-in-itself as naming imputes], removing the psychological sense of ‘thing-in-itself being’ of the form that is the subject of our interest.
Poetic metaphor and the ‘surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’ can induce cognition of a ‘relational reality’, as modern physicists Geoffrey Chew and John Wheeler have pointed out. Poetic expression and ‘the surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’ furnishes a means of using language to invoke cognition of forms and actions in purely relational terms.
Wittgenstein describes this approach in his final two propositions in ‘Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus;
6.54 My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)
He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.
7. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Since our experience is innately relational, explicit representations can only be abstractions of convenience to allude to the relational reality of our actual experience. We can say ‘Katrina is ravaging New Orleans’ even though what is unfolding can only be relational transformation. Language allows us to psychologically combine the abstract concept of ‘being’ with the purported power of ‘authoring’, giving us oral and written means of communicating a reduced representation of the dynamics of relational experience in the abstracts terms of ‘being’ and ‘being-based authoring’. This is psychological reduction of the inherently relational phenomena of our actual experience (Katrina, the ‘hurricane’, is a relational form in the transforming relational continuum and not a ‘thing-in-itself item of ‘content’ that is separate from the notional ‘container’ i.e. all forms in nature are ‘appearances’ and not ‘things’ that ‘exist in their own right’. There is no separately existing ‘container’ and ‘content’ aka ‘habitat’ and ‘inhabitant’.).
The introduction of a psychological reduction of the purely relational phenomena of our experience as relational forms in the transforming relational continuum [of modern physics] is accommodated in language and grammar in two ways, as can be illustrated by the ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’ topology of ‘whorl-in-flow’. As Wittgenstein points out, we can’t speak of the primary experience because it is purely relational and thus does not lend itself to thing-based (language-based) articulation. We thus have available to us beyond the level 3 and 2 pseudo-realities we refer to as ‘nature’ and ‘nature’, a HIGHER ‘THIRD LEVEL OF REALITY’ (i.e. ‘higher as in ‘more comprehensive’) which is a PURELY RELATIONAL REALITY as captured by Erich Jantsch in his treatise on nature’s ‘Design for Evolution’.
‘Nature’ (level 3) and ‘nurture’ (level 2) are the lowest levels of conceiving of ‘reality’, both of which are ‘being’-‘based’. Meanwhile, level 1, the highest level of reality is purely relational and is the level of reality understood as the ‘operative reality’ in modern physics, indigenous aboriginal cultures, Taoism and Advaita Vedanta.
These three levels can be described as follows from lowest (level 3) to highest (level 1);
Level 3: is commonly termed ‘nature’ as in the ‘nature’ –‘nurture’ dichotomy. In this level of reality, one assumes that ‘beings’ ‘author’ actions and results, therefore, ‘bad actions and results’ can be ‘blamed’ on the ‘bad beings’ who ‘authored’ such actions [likewise ‘good actions and results’ are attributed to ‘good beings’. This is a popular belief among Christians and also (pre-modern) ‘scientists’ such as Newton.
Level 2: is commonly termed ‘nurture’ as in the ‘nature’ – ‘nurture’ dichotomy. In this level of reality, one assumes that actions and results that a ‘being’ ‘authors’ are induced by the situational dynamics the ‘being’ is included in. This is the ‘New Age’ view wherein ‘forgiveness’ and ‘non-intervention’ are important since this is seen as a natural evolutionary process.
Level 1: corresponds to the ‘relational’ findings of modern physics, indigenous aboriginal culture, Taoism and Advaita Vedanta. In this understanding of reality, there are no ‘beings’ and there is no ‘authoring’, both of these being the abstract artifacts of Western language and grammar. In this ‘relational world view’ (mitakuye oyasin), there is no basis for ‘blame’ and no need for ‘forgiveness’; i.e. what we experience as reality is our inclusion as relational forms in a transforming relational continuum, thus there is no basis for authoring and hence no basis for either ‘blame’ or ‘forgiveness’, but there is the need to conduct ourselves so as to sustain harmony (resonant relations) in the transforming relational continuum.
The ethic of the Bodhisattva in the Buddhist worldview and the ‘peacemaker’ in the indigenous aboriginal worldview is to let one’s movements be shaped in the service of cultivating/sustaining relational harmony. This is consistent with modern physics which understands the world in purely relational terms wherein there are no such abstractions as ‘beings’ with ‘action authoring powers’.
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The above are three understandings of ‘reality’ that lead to very different social dynamics.
Reality level 3; – being or ‘Old age’ being (to contrast it with ‘new age’) belief is that humans are ‘beings’ with the powers of authoring actions and results (as in ‘nature’) which can be either ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Reality level 2; – being or ‘New age’ being is the belief that humans are beings whose authorship of action is ‘channeling’ through them from the darkness that envelopes them (as in ‘nurture’).
One can visualize these first two understandings of ‘being’ designated as ‘nature’ and ‘nature’ via the imagery of the ‘whorl’ in the ‘flow’ where one group (the ‘old age’ religions/beliefs) will argue that the whorl is the author of the flow while the other group (the new age religions/beliefs) will argue that the flow is the author of the whorl. The whorl-as-source is bright and centre-stage and animates by assertive actualizing while the flow-as-source extends way out there into the unbounded darkness and obscurity and animates by inductive actualizing.
Reality # 1 is purely relational and without the concept of either ‘being’ or ‘authoring’ so that ‘blame’ and ‘forgiveness’ do not even arise since there are no ‘sources’ of ‘actions’ and ‘results’ in a transforming relational continuum. However, how we engage as relational forms can source harmony or dissonance even though it can’t be attributed to (either blamed or credited to) individual authoring sources, so that cultivating harmony is a collective ethic, as in the Bodhisattva concept of Buddhism and as in the ‘Peacemaker’ concept of indigenous aboriginals. As we know from our own life experience, our relative actions, even where they are not the causal source of developments, can be relationally constituted so as to quell rising relational dissonance and cultivate the emergence of relational harmonies.
Summary: Western Society Nuttiness ‘In a Nutshell’
The above discussion in point form captures the source of the ‘Western Society Nuttiness’; i.e. the belief in LITERAL or EXPLICIT concepts of ‘being’ and ‘being-based authoring’; a belief that over-rides and obscures, within Western culture, the inherently unbounded relational reality of our actual experience.
‘Being’ and ‘authoring’ are abstract concepts that manifest in Western thinking in the ‘producer-product’ model, … a ‘local authoring’ concept that ‘obscures’ or ‘occludes’ our relational experience based understanding wherein there is no such thing as ‘local authoring’. The abstract ‘producer-product’ local authoring concept allows us the cognitive flexibility to say that the ‘the sun produces energy’, the energy from the sun produces the crop of green grass, the green grass feeds and fattens the cattle, the cow’s milk produces dairy products. Producer-product logic is exemplary of error in logic termed ‘petitio-principii’ or circular logic [Poincare].
Producer-product logical error feeds the ‘ego’. The ‘ego’ and ‘producer-product’ circular logic are the source of cultural ‘lock-in’ and ‘high switching costs’ as associate with the continuing prevalence of the psychologically aberrant Western worldview; e.g. The psychological conception of the ‘high achiever’, whether person, country or organization [based on the abstract notion of ‘being-based powers of authoring], leads to social structure wherein the notional ‘high achiever’ is given disproportionate ‘power’ and ‘status’ in Western society.
-4- ‘Ego’ derives from attributing ‘authoring powers’ to ‘oneself’ perceived abstractly as an ‘independent being’ defined [given imputed persisting stand-alone existence] by a ‘name’.
This ‘ego-based’ social structure in Western culture leads to ‘lock-in’ and ‘high switching costs’ which is why transitioning to a more realistic relational understanding (worldview) as suggested by modern physics, indigenous aboriginal culture, Taoism and Advaita Vedanta continues to be ‘locked out’
There is a basic problem with communicating this understanding in language so long as the language is interpreted in a straight forward (rather than poetic or relational) sense. This problem has been described by Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Bohm and others. Rational statements can be used to ‘trigger’ relational understanding but in this case, the listener cannot get ‘hung up’ on the literal meaning conveyed by words that reduce understanding to terms of local thing-in-themselves imputed to possess ‘powers of authorship’.
Robert Denham expresses this problem of psychological reductionism by way of ‘being-based language’ in an essay which closes with the following thought;
We’ll let William Blake have the final word. At the end of A Vision of the Last Judgment, Blake writes: “What it will be Questioned When the Sun rises do you not see a round Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea. O no no I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” Blake is really talking about imaginative power here. He is calling attention to the difference between those who see the sun only in terms of the simile, likening its fiery disk to a guinea (a gold coin), and those who see it metaphorically as a hallelujah chorus of the heavenly host. Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a metaphor? Our grasp can certainly take in the simile: we recognize the similarity between the bright, shiny sun and the shiny gold coin: it takes very little imaginative effort to see the guinea‑sun. Seeing the hallelujah chorus, however, requires a greater imaginative reach, a reach beyond what we can grasp. Would that we will continue to challenge those who might want to limit our imagination’s stopping at what we can grasp.
— From: Robert D. Denham, ‘What’s a Meta For?’ Reynolds Lecture, Emory & Henry College, 28 March 2012
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NOTA BENE! Western Culture ‘Normality’ is ‘Schizophrenic’; i.e. It Divides the Relational Self into ‘Self’ and ‘Other’
“What we call ‘normal’ is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjection and other forms of destructive action on experience.” – R. D. Laing
The Western medical condition termed ‘schizophrenia’ or ‘bipolar disorder’ is a psychological reaction that occurs in a minority of Western culture adherents. In order to avoid confusion, we can speak of ‘stage 1 schizophrenia’ which is the Western ‘normal’ psychological impression of the (non-existing) division of ‘self’ and ‘other’. That is, in the understanding of modern physics, indigenous aboriginal cultures, Advaita Vedanta, there is no division, in the reality of our actual relational experience of self and other. This division is ‘appearances’ (Schroedinger); e.g. the whorl in the flow is an ‘apparition’ as there is no ‘splitting apart’ of whorl and flow [inhabitant and habitat].
The medical condition termed ‘schizophrenia’ refers to the psychological complication that arises in a minority of Western culture conditioned individuals as a result of their psychological effort to ‘heal’ the FALSE IMPRESSION of the ‘divided self’ that derives from the Western culture ‘normal’. This healing of a split that is merely ‘imagined’; i.e. that is not a split but the artifact of Western culture ‘normality’ that abstractly, through language and grammar, divides self and other, gives rise to the ‘stage 2’ medical condition termed ‘schizophrenia’. This ‘stage 2 schizophrenia’ entails the psychological fabrication of an ‘alternative-self’ to ‘resolve’ the Western culture instigated impression of the ‘divided self” [i.e. to repair Western ‘normality’s illusion of the self-other split].
This ‘stage 2 schizophrenia’ thus arises as an attempt to heal a NON-EXISTENT SELF-OTHER SPLIT (stage 1 schizophrenia) that comes from the abstractions of ‘the ‘self’ as an ‘independently-existing being’ with ‘authoring powers’ that ‘inhabits’ a ‘habitat’ that is mutually exclusive of its ‘inhabitants’. Such reality-splitting abstractions of Western culture language and grammar serve the psychic construction of an ‘invented reality’ [stage 1 schizophrenia]. The Western culture infused impression of a ‘divided self’, in the pursuit of self-other reunification (not needed since the split is an illusion; the artificial product of language and grammar), invents an imaginary alter-self to accommodate the union of the divided self so as to ‘heal the troublesome split (which is, in fact, non-existent). This attempt to heal a split that is not there is ‘stage 2 schizophrenia’ which involves the inventing of alternative ‘imaginary’ selves to facilitate ‘re-union’ of the divided self [the split being a ‘mirage’, the psychological artifact of Western acculturation].
In other words, what is commonly termed ‘schizophrenia’ or ‘bipolar disorder’ in Western medical terms is a ‘stage 2’ condition that is induced in a minority group as a result of their attempt to ‘heal’ the ‘divided self’ that is not really ‘divided’ but is cognitively perceived as such through the psychological imprinting of self-other splitting that comes from Western language and grammar. Western rational use of language is the source of the problem while poetic use of language does not fall into this trap since it preserves the primacy of purely relational understanding, acknowledging that ‘beings-that-author-actions-and-developments’ based cognition are not to be ‘taken literally’ but are to be understood as poetic impressions or ‘Wittgenstein ladders’ (matrices of relations) as in ‘The surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’ coined by modern physicists Geoffrey Chew and John Wheeler.
The rational ‘invented reality’ is the breeder of stage 1 schizophrenia and the ‘divided self’ [aka Western culture ‘normality’] while stage 2 schizophrenia arises in a minority of Western culture adherents through their attempt to heal a splitting that does not exist but is a psychological artifact of the literal/rational cognition of Western language and grammar constructions.