Relational Versus Rational Understanding: Pathway to Dimensionlessness

“English compared to Hopi is like a bludgeon compared to a rapier.” – Benjamin Whorf

There is a way of ‘homing in on understanding’ that recalls modern physics and “the surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’, … that is very different from the Western ‘rational’ approach to understanding.

One might call it the ‘holographic’ approach to understanding.

In the ‘sharing circle’ approach to understanding that is characteristic of the indigenous aboriginal tradition, there is never a point where there can be an explicit articulation of the ‘sharing circle understanding’.  Nietzsche points to this same mode of understanding in ‘A genealogy of Morality’;

There is only a perspectival seeing, only a perspectival ‘knowing’; the more affects we are able to put into words about a thing, the more eyes, various eyes we are able to use for the same thing, the more complete will be our ‘concept’ of the thing, our ‘objectivity’.– Nietzsche

Having participated in ‘sharing circles’ where the ‘talking stick’ is passed, and this can happen (but is more rare) within Western culture discussion groups, understanding is by way of bringing a multiplicity of perspectives into a coherent connective (relational) confluence.  In fact, the ‘coherence’ is not something imposed on the confluence by the observer, but which is extracted by the experient in the same sort of manner as a 3D image is extracted from a stereogram, like the ‘horse’ stereogram below (let your ocular focus kind of ‘go free’ until the stereo image appears)



Image result for easy to see stereograms



The point is that there is no amount of focused analytical scrutiny that will deliver this image to the observer/inquirer.

If you are charged with recording the findings of a ‘sharing circle’, there will be no amount of analytical inquiry that can capture the essential ‘understandings’ that one extracts from the sharing circle because the ‘extraction’ is not ‘explicit’ but relational-interference based.

‘The holographic universe’ is not a ‘title’ that came out of the blue.  Holography was defined in 1946 in an Electrical Engineering (IEEE) paper by Dennis Gabor while working in the U.K. (he continued his research at Imperial College U.K. in 1948).  His discovery was ‘ahead of its time’ (lasers that could demonstrate it were not developed until 1960 and he received a Nobel prize for his work on holography in 1971).

As Kepler and others have pointed out, the way the world works is nothing like the mechanical way we give representation to dynamics, in terms of notional ‘things-in-themselves’ with notional powers to ‘source’ actions and developments (‘sorcery’ powers).  No such powers of local sourcing are recognized in modern physics wherein ‘relations’ are basic, as in the understanding of the world as a transforming relational continuum.

Such an understanding of the world implies a purely relational basis for the unfolding world dynamic; i.e. there is no need to reduce the unfolding world dynamics to the awkward and discrete terms of the dynamics of notional ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these things in themselves’ ‘source’ through their actions and interactions. It is a very clumsy basis for ‘constructing reality’ that stems from the inventing of language and grammar with their awkward cognitive constructs that involve adding different name-created bits and fitting them all together mechanistically as in a lego set.

Kepler realized that while ‘discursive intellection’ was very useful in ‘describing reality’, purely relational intuition was more direct.  In his summarizing in ‘The Harmonies of the World’, Kepler points out that while the Earth is well positioned (because it has an outsider’s perspective) to describe ‘discursively’ and ‘rationally’ the movement of the planets, the sun would understand these relational harmonies as being immanent in the relational system of sun-and-planets.  In other words, the sun would have to ‘bootstrap’ its understanding of the ‘harmonies of the world’ in the manner described by modern physicist Geoffrey Chew;

[Geoffrey Chew]: “when you formulate a question, you have to have some basic concepts that you are accepting in order to formulate the question. But in the bootstrap approach, where the whole system represents a network of relationships without any firm foundation, the description of our subject can be begun at a great variety of different places. There isn’t any clear starting point. And the way our theory has developed in the last few years, we quite typically don’t know what questions to ask. We use consistency as the guide, and each increase in the consistency suggests something that is incomplete, but it rarely takes the form of a well-defined question. We are going beyond the whole question­and­answer framework.”

Evidently, Kepler makes the same point about having to ‘bootstrap’ an understanding of the ‘Harmonies of the World’ where one has no overall outside-inward viewing perspective which lends itself to the construction of an abstract reference frame (Cartesian space frame).  As we know from driving in traffic in a ‘swarm’ of cars, without access to a fixed reference frame, our movements are relative and cannot be construed as ‘fully and solely sourced’ by ourselves [in the absence of a reference frame, the notion of self-sourcing of movements disappears].

Under these circumstances, it will not have been surprising if anyone who has been thoroughly warmed by taking a fairly liberal draft from that bowl of Pythagoras which Proclus gives to drink from in the very first verse of the hymn, and who has been made drowsy by the very sweet harmony of the dance of the planets begins to dream (by telling a story he may imitate Plato’s Atlantis and, by dreaming, Cicero’s Scipio): throughout the remaining globes, which follow after from place to place, there have been disseminated discursive or ratiocinative faculties, whereof that one ought assuredly to be judged the most excellent and absolute which is in the middle position among those globes, viz., in man’s earth, while there dwells in the sun simple intellect, πῦρ νοερὸν, or νοῦς, the source, whatsoever it may be, of every harmony.” – Johannes Kepler, ‘Harmonies of the World’ 

 [ διανοὶα or ‘dianoia’ = discursive intellection],  νοῦς or ‘nous’ = intuitive intellection],

I am trying to make the point here, as it has been made by others, that in the real world of relational experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum, there are neither ‘fixed-identity’ ‘things-in-themselves’ nor fixed reference points or reference frames.  We can ‘kluge’ the lack of fixed identity of relational flow-forms, cognitively, by ‘naming them to impute to them ‘persisting thing-in-itself existence’, and we can contrive the notion of ‘absolute motion’ by managing to find some basis to construct a notional ‘fixed reference frame’ (a few distant stars that seem to be in ‘fixed’ positions so long as they are not exploding or moving to make way for the newborns).

The persistence of this absolutist, language-and-grammar based Newtonian cosmology is due to cognitive ‘lock-in’ and ‘high switching costs’ found not only in established Western religions but also in Western Newtonian science and in Western business; e.g. the abstract concept of local powers of sourcing action and development implied by language and grammar is what Western culture ‘economies’ are based on; i.e. the imputing of ‘sourcing powers’ (authorship) to humans (relational forms in the transforming relational continuum) notionally reified and animated by the abstracting powers of language and grammar, set up an Invented Reality’ wherein we give these ‘named relational forms’ the notional powers of sorcery of actions and developments.

‘Bootstrapping’ is a means of developing understanding of reality in terms of relational forms in a transforming relatonal continuum and thus avoiding this ‘beings-that-source-actions-and-developments’ Invented Reality’.  It is implicit in the ‘sharing circles’ of indigenous aboriginal cultures and in modern physics ‘surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’.

‘Bootstrapping’ is the relational understanding-developing approach I am using in this series of ‘POST-STROKE IMPRESSION essays.

The statement; “English compared to Hopi is like a bludgeon compared to a rapier.” – Benjamin Whorf

… might be better phrased “English (in its usual ‘rational’, non-bootstrapping mode of employment) compared to Hopi (which is always used in a bootstrapping mode) or to English when used in a bootstrapping mode,  is like a bludgeon compared to a rapier.

Since our experience informs us that when relational tensions build, the most sensitive forms in the relational complex are the ones to ‘cave in’ and ‘go ballistic’, why is it that we identify the form that channels relational energies as the ‘source’ of the disturbance?  Surely the ‘source’ of the disturbance is the relational tension which simply ‘manifest’ as ‘the source’.  That is, the ‘whorl’ is not the ‘source’ of swirling flow in which it is ‘included’.

Yet, neither is the flow the source of the whorl.  Why not?  Because the notional concept of ‘two things’ (whorl and flow) is the abstract artifact of language and grammar.  The whorl is an ‘appearance’ or ‘apparition’ that language and grammar re-cast as a notional ‘thing-in-itself’ by ‘naming’ it (e.g. Hurricane Katrina) and imputing ‘sourcing’ powers to the notional ‘thing-in-itself’ cognitively created by ‘naming’ it (e.g. Hurricane Katrina) and imputing ‘sourcing’ powers to the notional ‘thing-in-itself’ cognitively created by ‘naming’ … ‘Katrina is growing larger and stronger, … Katrina is devastating New Orleans’. 

Let’s get ‘real’! There is no such thing (in the reality of our actual ‘real-life’ experience) as a ‘thing-in-itself’ with powers of ‘sourcing’ actions and developments,  It is intellectual ‘hype’; i.e. … it is an ‘INVENTED REALITY’.

The situation is no different for ‘humans’ who we recast as ‘independent beings’ by the ‘magic’ of ‘naming’ (with or without tapping the individual on the shoulder with the magic sword Excalibur and administering some ritualistic word-potion aka “SORCERY” that is said to transform the newly-named relational form into a ‘being’ … ‘ARISE SIR GALAHAD’ who will henceforth be seen as the SOURCE of many heroic actions and developments.

This inventing of the SOURCE of an action or development even through the development is intrinsically RELATIONAL, by the ‘sorcery’ of ‘naming’ the notional ‘source’ figures in the Western culture designating ‘psychosis’ as something that erupts from out of the interior of a human ‘being’ (by contrast to the ‘miner’s canary’ understanding where the dysfunction is seen as being induced by aberrance arising within the relational dynamics the ‘miner’s canary’ is situationally included in.

This leads to the IDENTIFIED PATIENT syndrome, where the ‘weakest’ (most sensitive) participant within a tensioned/stressed social relational dynamic is the first to succumb to a buildup of relational tensions


The term emerged from the work of the Bateson Project on family homeostasis, as a way of identifying a largely unconscious pattern of behavior whereby an excess of painful feelings in a family lead to one member being identified as the cause of all the difficulties – a scapegoating of the IP.[3

The identified patient – also called the “symptom-bearer” or “presenting problem” – may display unexplainable emotional or physical symptoms, and is often the first person to seek help, perhaps at the request of the family.[4] However, while family members will typically express concern over the IP’s problems, they may instinctively react to any improvement on the identified patient’s part by attempting to reinstate the status quo.

In Western culture, the ‘reinstating the status quo’ is the ‘reinstating’ of the problematic Western culture itself, with its socially endorsed belief in ‘independent beings with persisting existence’ created (psychologically) by ‘naming’ relational forms in the transforming relational continuum, notionally gifted with their own powers of ‘sourcing’ of actions and developments.  Again, the abstraction of ‘sourcing’ has no place in our natural experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum.  ‘Sorcery’ is sleight-of-hand (sleight of language and grammar and therefore purely intellectual contrivance) that is not supported by our sentient experience of inclusion as relational forms in a transforming relational continuum.

Western culture has invested long and hard in building this psychosis-inducing cognitive mode into all who are born within and embrace it.  For Western culture adherents, then, the ‘switching costs’ are huge and thus ‘lock-in’ to the culture as it is, is huge.

As for the ‘miner’s canaries’ or ‘identified patients’ who are caught up in this ‘double bind’, the only way out is to reject Western culture and to ‘re-acculturate’ in a culture whose adherents understand the world ‘relationally’ (e.g. implied by mitakuye oyasin) and thus do not believe that they have their own powers of jumpstart ‘sourcing’ of actions and developments (aka the powers of ‘sorcery’) as is foundational to Western culture belief.

In other words;

The challenge of escaping from the Western culture in-built exposure to psychosis entails the dissolution of the ‘ego’ in the sense of ‘ego’ that associates with (language-and-grammar-induced) belief in the ‘self’ as an ‘independent being’ invested with its own innate powers of ‘sourcing’ actions and developments.  The modern-physics, contra-Western-culture understanding is that the ‘inhabitant’ does not have the power of assertively transforming the ‘habitat’ and neither does the habitat have the power of inductively transforming the inhabitant since the ‘inhabitant’ and ‘habitat’ are NOT ‘two things’ but one (the Tao’).  In other words, the relational forms in the flow, including those we call ‘humans’, are relational features aka ‘appearances’. 

Thus, they have no inbuilt powers of sourcing and the ceremonial laying on of the the sword of Excalibur or some other Western culture ‘symbolic social elevating device’, while it may give the designee a ‘name’ or ‘title’ that induces others to bow down before them and submit to their will, does not alter the reality that there is no power of ‘sourcing’ aka ‘sorcery’ in the real world of our relational experience. Relational transformation is the only dynamic and tales of ‘Great Men’ and ‘Great Nations’ with their own local inside-outward asserting, superior ‘sourcing powers’  are part of an ‘Invented Reality’.  Whether we are observing hurricane Katrina or Nazi Germany and understanding these inherently relational dynamics (thanks to our having ‘named’ them) in the ‘INVENTED REALITY’ terms of ‘name-instantiated, independent ‘things-in-themselves’ with their own powers of sourcing actions and developments, the physical reality of our actual relational experience (supported by modern physics) will only support relational transformation; i.e. SORCERY as in the notional ‘being-based’ locally instantiated authoring of actions and developments aka ‘WESTERN CULTURE INVENTED REALITY’ is psychological contrivance.


The challenge to those of us born and raised in Western culture and who are suffering ‘breakdowns’ of the ‘miner’s canary’ or ‘identified patient’ variety cannot rely on the healing practices of the Western culture to save us, since such healing practices aim to restore the individual to the aberrant cultural ‘normality’ that is the source of psychosis.  As cited above;

“while family members will typically express concern over the Identified Patient’s problems, they may instinctively react to any improvement on the identified patient’s part by attempting to reinstate the status quo.”

What is therefore needed is to cultivate a web of social-relational dynamics to include oneself in, that is characteristic of indigenous aboriginal or Taoist cultures om that they have not ‘made the mistake’ of giving foundational roles to the abstract concepts of ‘beings’ (independently-existing things-in-themselves psychologically ‘created’ by ‘naming’), notionally endowed with their own ‘action and development sourcing’ powers. This may be challenging to achieve while at the same time maintaining harmonious relations with one’s Western culture family and friends, as well as with the predominating Western culture social infrastructure with its emphasis on ‘sorcery’ based rewards and recognition, and of course, its default practice of isolating and medicating (chemically lobotomizing) those who are not otherwise looked out for and cared for in vulnerable times.


Personal perspectives on the matter frequently differ.  Western culture assumes that ‘reality’ is something that we all have access to, and that our different perspectives arise from biases or perceptual incompleteness on the part of the observer.  From this point of view, it ‘makes sense’ to acquire ‘many views’ and to assume that each view deviates from ‘reality’ due to either error or incompleteness in the individual perspectives.  For this reason, Western culture seeks to establish which of the differing views is ‘most accurate’, a quest that gives rise to the adage ‘La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure’.

In the indigenous aboriginal culture, as in modern physics, there is the very different understanding that individual perspectives are innately ‘incomplete’; e.g. ‘Who shall speak for wolf.  Niezsche captures this sense that the individual perspective is fundamentally incomplete and that we need to bring many different perspectives into connective confluence to harvest the coherencies therein [the ‘holographic’ view] to get closer to an understanding of the transforming relational continuum we are included in;

There is only a perspectival seeing, only a perspectival ‘knowing’; the more affects we are able to put into words about a thing, the more eyes, various eyes we are able to use for the same thing, the more complete will be our ‘concept’ of the thing, our ‘objectivity’.– Nietzsche

The language-and-grammar based ‘Invented Reality’ that is the Western culture ‘standard reality’ based on the abstract concepts of ‘beings’ with notional action and development ‘sourcing’ powers is constrained to the lower dimensionalty of the single perspective.  In the indigenous aboriginal culture, as in modern physics, a higher dimensional ‘reality’ is accessed through the ‘sharing circle’ which brings into connective confluence a multiplicity of differing, valid perspectives as suggested by ‘mitakuye oyasin’.  It is impossible to ‘articulate’ the understanding that arises as one brings this multitude of perspectives into connective confluence; i.e. the understanding is the ‘coherency’ that we extract in bringing them into connective confluence.  This corresponds to the highest level (level 1 of 3) of understanding ‘reality’ in Jantsch’s 3-levels of reality based ‘Design for Evolution’.

As is evident, each of these perceived ‘realities’, since they shape the behaviours of their respective adherents, divide the dynamics of the social collective; i.e. there are the ‘nature’ (level 3 reality) adherents, the nurture (level 2 reality adherents) and the relational (level 1 reality) adherents.  Of these three realities, the level 3 and level 2 realities both assume the ‘existence of independent beings’ with their powers of sourcing actions and developments.  Level 1 reality (embraced by indigneous aboriginals, Taoists and Advaita Vedanta), is a relational reality wherein the ‘forms’ we perceive are understood as relational features within a transforming relational continuum.  In the relational view (supported by modern physics), there are no ‘beings’ with persisting thing-in-itself existence [a psychological impression triggered by naming] and thus no platforms for ‘things-in-themselves’ notionally equipped with their own powers of ‘sourcing’ actions and developments (‘sorcery’), as is the foundational belief in Western culture.

Western culture has achieved ‘lock-in’ sustained by ‘high switching costs’ in the same sort of manner as an inferior computing platform (in this case an inferior, but popularly supported Western culture cognitive platform) because of many people building their influence, social status and ego dependently upon it.  The ‘lock-in’ is reinforced by the system of giving those that support it more than ordinary influence on the processes by which it could be changed.  As Henri Laborit noted on this topic in his book ‘La Novelle Grille’ (the new [relational] framework);

‘We’ who explore such topics, cannot easily share them because (a) they do not fit into the typical dinner conversation format of our present culture, since to express them takes a lot of relational connections that can’t fit into a rapid-fire repartee, and (b) because the humanism  implicit in trying to share them is not seen as “a humanism of real worth” since it undermines, besmirches or topples the esteemed icons, pillars of society, founding fathers, and celebrities of the culture-in-place.

  – Henri Laborit, ‘La Nouvelle Grille’


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‘Bootstrapping’ is an approach to general inquiry into the behaviour of a purely relational world dynamic (the world of our actual experience).  It is very different to analytical inquiry which breaks a ‘system’ down into notional ‘component parts’ which are assumed to be the source of actions and developments which, taken together, explain the ‘behaviour’ of the ‘system’.  This system of analytical inquiry assumes that (a) a ‘system’ exists as a ‘thing-in-itself’, and (b) the system internally sources its own actions and developments [e.g. the ‘system’ known as ‘the human’.

In modern physics, such notions (of independently existing and independently operating systems) are unsupported and the world dynamic is understood as a transforming relational continuum that manifests within it, relational forms whose movements and transformations are NOT ‘separate’ from the transforming relational continuum.  While the cognitive impression of the ‘independent existence of ‘systems’ and ‘subsystems’ (e.g. nations and citizens) is triggered by language and grammar, such abstractions are not supported by our natural experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum.

However, the abstractions unleashed by language and grammar (e.g. ‘naming’ that imputes persisting existence or ‘being’ to relational forms, and ‘sourcing’ which imputes the power of ‘sourcing’ actions and development to the notional ‘beings’. [This is the ‘double error’ that Nietzsche speaks about, an error of logic known as ‘petitio principl’ or ‘circular reference’.  For example, the whorl and the flow are one and the same activity but treating them as two separate activities is a common double error (built into the foundations of Western conceptualizing of reality) to portray the ‘whorl’ as the ‘source’ of the ‘flow’ and likewise, to portray the ‘flow’ as the ‘source’ of the ‘whorl’.

“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

This ‘inserting’ of the cognitive notion of a jumpstart sourcing agency (sorcery) by way of language-and-grammar.  This is an ‘error of grammar’.  The grammar may be correct but the cognitive inference (sorcery) is in error the reality of our actual experience is relational and not ‘sorcery’ based.

Relational reality cannot be invoked through any local sourcing based cognitive impressions.  This is where ‘bootstrapping’ comes into play aka ‘the surprise version of the gama of Twenty Questions’ aka ‘the sharing circle’ aka ‘Wittgenstein ladders’.  These are techniques for understanding reality as a transforming relational continuum in which we are included relational features.  Language and grammar are used here only as initial expedients (throw-aways) to set up relational dynamics where the ‘take-away’ is purely in terms of relational understanding as in ‘the Tao’.

Bootstrapping is an way of understanding reality wherein relations are in an innate, natural primacy over the abstract concepts of ‘things-in-themselves’ notionally equipped with their own powers of ‘sourcing’ actions and developments.

The understanding of nature/reality in relational terms has been ‘waiting in the wings’ in Western science for a long while.  For example, since the time of Pasteur, ‘epigenetic’ understanding of basic physical dynamics has been a rival to ‘genetic’ theory.  In ‘epigenetics’, biological forms are as much pulled into shape inductively as pushed into shape from the inside-outward; i.e. in the concept of ‘genesis’.  The following discussion is included to show that the relative interplay of ‘epigenetics’ (outside-inward induced development) and ‘genetics’ (inside-outward asserting development) may be the greater reality rather than regarding the TWO contrary processes as separately existing;

An acknowledgement of ‘epigenetics’ along with pleomorphism will together remove dependency on the simplistic time-based ‘reproductive’ lineages of evolution that come from denial of epigenetics and the imposing of the convention of monomorphism wherein biotic forms must come from similar looking forms

In the views of Antoine Béchamp and others, ‘microzymes’ are in operation at a lower level and through differing relational associations can ‘produce’ both bacteria and body cells.  As in relational interpretations generally, ‘microzymes’ do not have to be considered to be ‘real things’ or biological ‘atomic building blocks’ but can be understood as influential relations [‘relations’ are in a natural primacy over ‘things’]. The main point is that relational forms that develop within a transforming relational continuum have no dependence on a linear-in-time reproductive lineage.  The proliferation of bacteria within a body can be in place of the proliferation of body cells [these do not need to be two separate antagonistic processes].  The idea of ‘germ theory’ or ‘the attack of pathogens’ is an anthropomorphism.

A related example of moving away from anthropomorphisms is found in Jamie Cunliffe’s redefining of ‘the immune system’ [a foreign–organism hunting and killing system] in terms of morphostasis, the tendency of a cellular process to sustain a structurally stable form.  One of the main functions of the cell-sustaining process is the clean-up of debris from degenerating cells.  Cell debris is food for other organisms to feed on and proliferate [‘pathogens’] and these organisms also contribute to the debris.  Since there are many other ‘foreign’ microorganisms in the body that ‘the immune system’ does not hunt down and kill, the illness may relate to a lag in debris clean up and recovery may associate with the removal of all ‘stuff’ (debris and other microorganisms) that ambiguate the basic cleaned-up cell symmetry/structure.

In this case (morphostasis), there is no identification of a ‘foreign organism’ and no ‘hunting down and killing them’.  This view seems to edge towards an overall process where ‘relations’ are in a natural primacy over ‘identified ‘things’ and ‘what things do’.  E.g. the amazingly ‘crisp’ ‘morphostasis of hexagonal bee cells arises from an epigenetic-genetic nondual dynamic, as also with soap bubbles, Bénard (convection) cells etc.  The architecture and stability of these cell forms does not derive from any cell blueprint, there is none since the cell does not derive from a one-sided genetic development process but from a nondual epigenetic-genetic confluence. —

This example is one of many wherein a minority of scientists have sought to argue in favour of a ‘relational’ view of reality but have lost, arguably because of the ‘lock-in’ and ‘high switching costs’ associated with trading up from an ‘allopathic medical reality based on ‘being’ and ‘sourcing’ to a relational medical reality.  To repeat Giordano Bruno’s observation; ‘The majority has no monopoly on the truth’, however, as pointed out by La Fontaine, the majority does have a monopoly on the ‘operative truth’ promulgated through the strong-arming of the majority; i.e. ‘La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure’.

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