PSI-3 Post-Stroke Impressions: No. 3. (PSI-3)
Cognition by ‘Scatter and gather’ (simultaneous scatter-gather) a la Heraclitus
‘Field’ is relational and the scattering and gathering implies local centres as in vortices (e.g. water spouts and whirlpools or outwellings-and-inwellings )
Western thinking imputes sourcing agency in a flow to the vortex understood as a thing-in-itself [e.g. waterspout or whirlpool] rather than imputing the sourcing to the flowfield that the waterspout-whirlpool (conjugate) develops within. Noun-and-verb language ‘reifies’ the eye-catching flow-field-features [that which manifests most obviously] so that they serve as, at least in language-based cognition, … the notional ‘thing-in-itself’ that is the purported ‘source’ (sourcerer) of its own behaviour. Within a flow, gathering and scattering are flip sides of the same coin; i.e. the waterspout that is scattering water is inseparable from its water-gathering vortex-source.
Linguistic constructions formed from noun-and-verb grammar serve to both ‘reify’ and ‘animate’ the relational feature in the relational flow so that, at least in language-and-grammar based cognition, there is ‘concealment’ of the inherent ‘nonlocality’ of ‘identity’ as associates with a relational feature within a transforming relational flow-continuum.
The notion of self-sourcing arises from the noun-and-verb grammar of Western languages. The vortex is thus portrayed by language as a ‘thing’ that has ‘causal powers’ when, in the relational reality of our actual experience, the power-sourcing belongs to the relational field influence and not to the ‘form’ that is ‘forming’ within the flow-field; i.e. the forms arising in nature are never ‘independent’ of the energy-flow in which they are transient relational developments. Their portrayal as, and our coming to cognitively regard them as ‘things-in-themselves’, is the synthetic product of intellection based on the objects of language and grammar. There are no ‘things-in-themselves’ in the relational understanding of the ‘right brain’, there are only ‘relations’ as in ‘relational features’ in the flow-continuum.
Jantsch’s ‘three levels of cognition’ illustrate how the understanding of the sourcing of ‘dynamics’ in the world of our experience shifts from local-jumpstart source to relational sourcing over three levels.
Our Western culture habit is to construct an ‘agreed reality’ linguistically, using level 3 constructions consisting of notional (intellect-based) local things-in-themselves. How this is done is easily seen in the case of our ‘reifying’ of inherently relational vortices (waterspouts and whirlpools) which are ‘relational features within a relational flow-field’ and in no way ‘things-in-themselves with their own incipient powers of action and causal accomplishment’ as they are ‘personified’ in Western noun-and-verb based linguistic discourse. ‘Agreement’ on such ‘reality constructions’ as impute causal authorship to notional ‘things-in-themselves’ is typically troubled by innate ambiguities in viewing perspective. Such ambiguities are inherent in a relational world dynamic and are not indicative of ‘error’ relative to ‘the notional existence of a “true” perspective’. The mistake of assuming the existence of a ‘true perspective’ is pointed out by Nietzsche as captured in the following note by Alexis Papazoglou;
“As Nietzsche saw it, once we realise that the idea of an absolute, objective truth is a philosophical hoax, the only alternative is a position called “perspectivism” – the idea there is no one objective way the world is, only perspectives on what the world is like. … according to perspectivism, we agree on … things not because these propositions are “objectively true,” but by virtue of sharing the same perspective. When it comes to basic matters, sharing a perspective on the truth is easy – but when it comes to issues such as morality, religion and politics, agreement is much harder to achieve. People occupy different perspectives, seeing the world and themselves in radically different ways. These perspectives are each shaped by the biases, the desires and the interests of those who hold them; they can vary wildly, and therefore so can the way people see the world.”
“For Nietzsche, each perspective on the world will have certain things it assumes are non-negotiable – “facts” or “truths” if you like. Pointing to them won’t have much of an effect in changing the opinion of someone who occupies a different perspective.”
“A core tenet of Enlightenment thought was that our shared humanity, or a shared faculty called reason, could serve as an antidote to differences of opinion, a common ground that can function as the arbiter of different perspectives. Of course people disagree, but, the idea goes, through reason and argument they can come to see the truth. Nietzsche’s philosophy, however, claims such ideals are philosophical illusions, wishful thinking, or at worst a covert way of imposing one’s own view on everyone else under the pretense of rationality and truth”.
Even if he was right that all we have to go by are our different perspectives on the world, he didn’t mean to imply we are doomed to live within the limits of our own biases. In fact, Nietzsche suggests that the more perspectives we are aware of, the better we can be at reaching a watered-down objective view of things.
At the end of his 1887 book On the Genealogy of Morality, he writes:
“The more eyes, different eyes, we know how to bring to bear on one and the same matter, that much more complete will our ‘concept’ of this matter, our ‘objectivity’ be.”
– Alexis Papazoglou, Royal Holloway University of London
Nietzsche’s grounding in modern physics through the writings of Roger Boscovich led him to this ‘relational’ world view; e.g; as referenced in a November 9, 2017 (pre-stroke) essay; http://goodshare.org/wp/update-on-my-philosophical-investigations/
Although Nietzsche never made the connection with ‘learning circles’ in his writing, as far as I know [I haven’t read his total works], … his general inquiry develops the need for such activity.
But this is not just a ‘coincidence’ since Nietzsche is unique among philosophers in having intuited, with the help of ‘The Theory of Natural Philosophy’ (1758) of Roger Boscovich, who has been described by modern physicists as being “200 years ahead of his time”, the understanding that ‘matter is not physically real’, it is ‘appearance’. The acknowledgement of the primacy of the relational influence of ‘field’ over ‘matter’ [understanding that ‘matter’ is a secondary phenomenon] establishes an ‘inhabitant-habitat nonduality’; a symmetry that crops up everywhere in this inquiry, as a very basic symmetry of nature; not matter, not field, but field-matter nonduality. One might say that field produces matter to give it traction for transforming itself.
What Nietzsche is referring to can be understood in terms of the relational mode of cognition which is the ‘most complete’ level which is designated ‘level 1’ in the model of Erich Jantsch. Level 1 corresponds to understanding the world as ‘flow’; i.e. the ‘relational mode of cognition’. Our Western standard mode of cognition is, meanwhile, level 3 which deals with a pseudo-reality modeled in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’.
Level 3 cognition is supported by language which reduces ‘relational forms-in-the-flow’ to ‘things-in-themselves’ within an implied Cartesian frame, depicting these ‘things-in-themselves’ as having ‘actions of their own’, and in the case of ‘living things-in-themselves’, as having the built-in capability to source their own actions. Ego builds on this model by attributing the authorship of ‘actions’ and the ‘results of actions’ to ‘things-in-themselves’ [the linguistically reified/objectified and name-labelled, relational forms]. When a flat land surface subsides in a continuing geomorphological dynamic and inductively orchestrates the convergence of runoff waters which develop into a powerful river, the raging river is credited with scouring out a deep canyon so that the ‘credit’ for sculpting the land is never passed back to the land whose subsidence induced the collecting of runoff waters constituting the ‘raging river’. Ignoring the overall relational origins of transformation and attributing the scouring of the canyon to the ‘raging river’ exemplifies level 3 cognition and its noun-and-verb linguistic origin, which is cognitively anchored to man’s ego and his Western belief in his own jumpstart powers of authorship of actions and results.
Our natural experience informs us relationally while the reduction to level 3 noun and verb language reconstructs relational reality in the reduced/objectified terms of notional ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’ (within an implied Cartesian space; i.e. an intellectual abstraction that in no way accords with the transforming relational continuum of our actual experience).
In the wake of a left-brain stroke, this mechanistic reconstruction no longer dominates cognition, or, the mechanistic construction is at least ‘undercut’ to the point that our level 1 relational cognition ‘resurfaces’ with its natural relational-experience based primacy while the language-constructed pseudo-reality in terms of name-labelled ‘things-in-themselves’ animated ‘grammatically’ in noun-and-verb renderings of ‘what things-in-themselves do’, ‘falls away’.
The Western culture practice of (notionally) shifting the sourcing of actions from ‘relational (field) dynamics’ to the ‘mechanics’ of notional ‘things-in-themselves’ (artefacts of noun-and-verb language) to which we impute jumpstart action powers is language-based sleight-of-mind. As Nietzsche puts it;
“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’.
This is how ‘level 3 cognition (Jantsch’s model) gets to be put into an unnatural precedence over level 1 cognition; i.e. it rides on the back of human ego.
The stroke ‘removes’ the elevating to unnatural precedence of level 3 cognition since such unnatural elevating is based on ‘non-relational’ things-in-themselves as in noun-and-verb language-and-grammar (reifying the relational form such as the ‘vortex’ and imputing to it its own self-sourcing powers of action). That is, we use noun-and-verb language architecture to notionally reify the vortex in the flow-field, giving the impression that the vortex is stirring up the flow, instead of acknowledging that the vortex is a visual feature ‘stirred up within the flow’; i.e. a relational feature that is ‘in-and-of-the-flow’. In physics, one conceptualizes dynamics starting from notional ‘material things/objects’ and ‘forces’ acting upon the objects either from external sources or which derive from the interior of objects, as in the special case of ‘organisms’ [notional ‘independent-existing systems, notionally with their own internal sourcing of animation].
In the reductive intellectual reconstruction of an essentially relational world dynamic, the relational influence of ‘field’ loses its primary role [i.e. we no longer acknowledge its primary role] as the source of influence underlying the world dynamic. The relational nature of this instantiating ‘power’ is linguistically (and erroneously) ‘passed over’ to notional ‘material things-in-themselves’ which are the products/artefacts of Western noun-and-verb language. That is, level 3 cognition is secured by ‘grammar’, as Nietzsche also points out;
“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’
PSI-3 Observations and Conclusions
A stroke that injures ‘left brain cognitive capability’ could be likened to a bomb blast that not only does injury to us, but ‘takes out’ the prison guard who has been constraining our range of operations. It is true that we have suffered injury from the left brain stroke but what has come with it is liberation from captivity by language-based cognitive conditioning that has kept level 3 cognition in an unnatural primacy, blocking our access to level 1 (relational) cognition. Philosophers have recognized the ‘dumbing-down’ exposure that comes when we put language-based understanding in precedence over experiential-informing.
“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our understanding by the medium of language” (“Die Philosophie ist ein Kampf gegen die Verhexung unsres Verstandnes durch die Mittel unserer Sprache” P.U. 109)
“A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.” (“Ein Bild hielt uns gefangen. Und heraus konnten wir nicht, denn es lag in unsrer Sprache, und sie scheint es uns nur unerbittlich zu wiederholen” P.U. 115)
– Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
The picture of a tornado, a dust-devil, a genie that seems to convey an ‘independence’ from the world-space that ‘thing’ develops within, …. a picture that is created. aided and abetted by noun-and-verb language, soon takes on, in our language-primed intellect, an ‘appearance’ of independence (‘thing-in-itself being’) that we have difficulty ‘letting go of’. After employing noun-and-verb language constructs over and over again, whereby we re-present the relational form in the flow as a named thing-in-itself, imputing to it, its own ‘being’ and locally incipient power of action and causal accomplishment, the level 1 reality of relational forms in a transforming relational continuum drops out of our cognitive thought-field and only the linguistically supported ‘cut-outs’ of notional ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these notional things-in-themselves are doing’ remain. Such is the impression that comes to us in our Western culturally induced unnatural elevating to primacy of what Jantsch refers to as ‘level 3 cognition’.
The ego-appeal of using language to portray ourselves as the jumpstart authors of actions and outcomes is what holds this unnatural system of cognition in place within the Western culture. To repeat, for emphasis, Nietzsche’s observation on this;
“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 post-stroke cognition, things-in-themselves, the basic foundations of level 3 cognition ‘drop out’. Name-label identities no longer come spontaneously to mind, not even the name-labels of one’s own children, and deliberate ‘memorization’ must be employed to bring them back. So it is generally with the name-labels that connote ‘things-in-themselves’. Everyone is still known, nevertheless, in a relational sense within a relational panorama, …. which is deeper and richer in understanding-giving context than the thing-in-itself mode of description (as in the Sissy Jupe relational mode of understanding of a horse versus the Bitzer ‘quadruped’ mode). The relational mode of understanding may be considered too ‘artistic’ and fuzzy for ‘scientific’, ‘rational’, thinkers like Bitzer and Gradgrind in Dickens’ ‘Hard Times’ but it is more ‘complete’ from the point of view of modern physics and Erich Jantsch’s three-level model of reality wherein ‘completeness’ increases in going from level 3 ‘things-in-themselves’ to level 1 relational forms in the flow.
The goal of therapy that is set before left-brain stroke experients, in my experience, is to restore level 3 cognitive capability which is clearly the most heavily hit in the left-brain type of stroke. There seems to be no recognition, within medical therapy, that the relational understanding that survives the stroke is a higher level mode of cognition that implicitly includes the level 3 cognitive mode that has ‘gone missing’. That is, it is possible to understand, by way of relational experience, being included in a hurricane without having to objectify the hurricane and personify it as a ‘thing-in-itself’ that ‘is coming’ and then ‘going’ as if ‘it’ is a ‘thing-in-itself’ that moves along ‘its own trajectory’.
Relational understanding informs us via our experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum. This ‘level 1 understanding’ includes level 2 and level 3 cognitive formulations which have been described as follows; level 3; a man walking independently of the space he is in; level 2; a man in a boat whose movements are relative to the flow he is included in, and level 1; a man who ‘is’ (a relational) form in the flow he is moving within.
It is not hard to acknowledge the innate primacy of level 1 cognition from a modern physics point of view wherein ‘energy’ is the basis of all the forms and figures. That language enables us to name-label forms that we can ‘visually discriminate’ and ‘intellectually separate’ from the flow continuum is a useful ‘device’ that becomes less useful when we let our intellectual faculty [which reduces relational forms to notional ‘things-in-themselves’] ‘take over’ from our relational experience and hijack the primary level of cognition.
Western culture belief systems have tended to do just that and have thus installed level 3 cognition in terms of linguistically reified ‘things-in-themselves and what things-in-themselves do’ in an unnatural primacy over level 1 (relational) cognition.
Ok, here is the ‘bottom line’ on ‘loss of cognitive capability’ from my perspective as a stroke experient, which I can clearly see differs from the perspective of those in the Western medical profession who are helping me to ‘recover’ ‘what I have lost’.
My spontaneous cognition has shifted from level 3 back to level 1. Level 1 implicitly ‘includes’ level 3, as described in Jantsch’s three levels of cognition. However, level 1 is ‘relational’ and is not easily reduced to noun-and-verb; i.e. The Tao that can be told is not the true Tao’. Supposing I was raised in an aboriginal culture where the language was relational rather than noun-and-verb (thing-in-itself and what things-in-themselves do) based. My understanding would be by way of ‘relational dynamics’ and I would see ‘things’ by way of relational context (‘Dances with Wolves’) rather than by name-labelled ‘things-in-themselves’ that jumpstart ‘their own’ actions and deeds. Level 3 cognition ‘drops out’ the common substrate of the ‘relational continuum’ that is ‘home’ to relational forms that we ‘reify’ and use noun-and-verb language-and-grammar to re-animate ‘intellectually’. That is, level 3 cognition is ‘intellectual contrivance’ that is like shorthand and thus ‘useful’ but not basic to our relational experience. In the ‘stroke of insight’, our cognition drops the superficial level 3 cognitive capability with its ‘things-in-themselves’ based rendering of dynamics’, leaving the level 1 ‘relational’ cognitive capability as the operative cognitive reality.
What happens in a ‘stroke of insight’ is the ‘dropout’ of thing-in-itself based cognition so that level 1 relational cognition resurfaces [it has been ‘pushed under’ by Western culture practice of elevating level 3 thing-in-itself based cognition to unnatural primacy’]. Although the stroke experient continues to employ ‘English’ (or whatever noun-and-verb language), he is not using it in a manner wherein there is a hard dependency on ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’. In other words, it is possible to use English in a relational manner in which case grammatical constructions that depend on ‘name-labelled things-in-themselves’ drop out or are ignored so that the communication becomes grounded in relations with word labels playing a secondary role. A stroke experient has no problem in recounting a relational experience in which his child is playing a central role within some relational matrix of activity, even though he is unable to remember the ‘thing-in-itself’ name of his child as employed in solitary ‘what a ‘thing-in-itself is’ and ‘what a thing-in-itself does’ formulations. Relational cognition can ‘back in’ on what a thing or person is based on the relational dynamics they are included in; e.g; this overview from an 2014 essay; http://goodshare.org/wp/credo/.
This relational build that does not depend on ‘what things do’ has been described by physicist John Wheeler in terms of ‘the surprise version of the game Twenty Questions’ which is a way of describing ‘how quantum physics works’. No-one knows the answer to the game [no object is secretly picked in the beginning] but people answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to questions in the manner that progressively moves towards resolving what it is, without there being ‘anything there’; i.e. the progressive resolving is purely relational [relations-first, things-last]. The ‘learning circle’ builds imagery in this manner; i.e. in a purely relational-interferential manner [as in wavefield imaging]. What is resolved is kind of like ‘ball-lightning’ or a ‘plasma ball’ or ‘convection cell’ which is not asserting itself out of its own centre but is a purely relational feature in the continually forming relational spatial plenum.
So, in the relational approach, the theory is never explicit; i.e. to say that ‘relations’ are in precedence over ‘things’ means that we are not modeling in terms of ‘what things are doing’ and ‘what they are going to do’, but are instead developing a sense of how the transforming relational space is ‘unfolding’ and how we might serve as ‘agents of transformation’ in such ‘unfolding’.
The relations-based allusion of the stroke experient to designate his wife; ‘she who must be obeyed’ captures ‘identity’ in terms of relational context. Such relational experience based cognition can persist in post-stroke experience even where cognition in terms of the actions of notional ‘things-in-themselves’ has ‘dropped out’ or become elusive.
The following comment by F. David Peat concerning the experience of David Bohm in his inquiry into the relational cognition of indigenous aboriginals sheds light on how the relational mode of cognition ‘surfaces’ where it is not ‘covered over’ by thing-in-itself based language;
“The problem with English is that when it tries to grapple with abstractions and categories it tends to trap the mind into believing that such categories have an equal status with tangible objects. Algonquin languages, being for the ear, deal in vibrations [waves] in which each word is related directly, not only to process of thought, but also to the animating energies of the universe.
… in modern physics… It is impossible to separate a phenomenon from the context in which it is observed. Categories no longer exist in the absence of contexts.
Within Indigenous science, context is always important. Nothing is abstract since all things happen within a landscape and by virtue of a web of interrelationships. The tendency to collect things into categories does not exist within the thought and language of, for example, Algonquin speakers.
This leads to a profoundly different way of approaching and thinking about the world. For, in the absence of categories, each thing is mentally experienced on its own merits, and for what it actually is. Rather than indulging in comparison or judgment, Indigenous speakers attempt to enter into relationship with them.
What is needed, Bohm argued in his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, is a new sort of language, one based on processes and activity, transformation and change, rather than on the interactions of stable objects. Bohm called this hypothetical language the “rheomode.” It is based primarily on verbs and on grammatical structures deriving from verbs. Such a language, Bohm argued, is perfectly adapted to a reality of enfolding and unfolding matter and thought.
David Bohm had not known when he wrote of that concept that such a language is not just a physicist’s hypothesis. It actually exists. The language of the Algonquin peoples was developed by the ancestors specifically to deal with subtle matters of reality, society, thought, and spirituality.
A few months before his death, Bohm met with a number of Algonkian speakers and was struck by the perfect bridge between their language and worldview and his own exploratory philosophy. What to Bohm had been major breakthroughs in human thought — quantum theory, relativity, his implicate order and rheomode – were part of the everyday life and speech of the Blackfoot, Mic Maq, Cree and Ojibwaj.” – F. David Peat, ‘Blackfoot Physics’
My stroke experience leads me to understand this; … my ‘level 3 cognitive ability’, which is ‘the norm’ in Western culture has taken the brunt of the ‘hit’ in the stroke, while my level 1 relational understanding has survived more or less ‘intact’. One might compare me in my post-stroke mode to an indigenous aboriginal ‘coming out of the forest’ into a European community where the shortfall in cognitive ability is laid on the aboriginal so that the burden of ‘coming up to speed’ in terms of understanding and communicating what is going on the world falls to the indigenous aboriginal while no corresponding ‘learning requirement’ falls upon those conversant with the Western culture since the latter is considered ‘more advanced’ than the former.
In my ‘post-stroke’ situation, things feel pretty much the same. While I can relate to the ‘stroke of insight’ wherein there is an ‘uncovering’ of level 1 cognition which has been unnaturally (by Western cultural convention) covered over by level 3 cognition, Western medical therapy acknowledges only a simple ‘net loss’ that needs ‘correction’. Stroke therapies are designed to restore the stroke experient to ‘normal’ which means ‘unnatural’ primacy of level 3 cognition over level 1 (relational) cognition.