PSI-8: Post-Stroke Impressions No. 8
Author’s Preface: The Eastern manner of conceiving of reality (eg. as in the writings of Lao Tzu) is rooted in the purely relational terms of ‘flow’ or ‘the Tau’. In this worldview, there is only an overall ‘becoming’ while ‘being’ is a cognitive abstraction. Nevertheless, as Wittgenstein points out, given that the world is flow and we are flow-features within it, it is impossible to speak about it because ‘everything is in flux’ and there are no fixed/persisting references on which to construct a linguistic representation that we could share with one another. The ‘work-around’ to this obstacle which would otherwise keep us ‘silent’, is called ‘bootstrapping’ where we use the abstraction of ‘being’ to assign ‘names’ to relational forms in the flow. The ‘name’ is something that cognitively persists even though the named form is an inherently transient relational feature in a transforming relational flow [e.g. as with a purely relational ‘whorl’ (hurricane) in the purely relational flow of the atmosphere which we impute ‘being’ to by naming it]. The ‘name’ has cognitive persistence and is not subject to continuous relational transformation as is the form it refers to. That is, a name imputes, cognitively, persisting existence otherwise known as ‘being’. ‘Being’ is cognitive abstraction which is not available to our real-life physical experience (as relational forms in a transforming relational continuum).
Nevertheless, ‘bootstrapping’ is a kind of ‘cognitive sleight-of-mind’ wherein we use language to set notional ‘things-that-be’ in relative motion with (noun-and-verb) grammar. The ultimate aim of this use of language is to get the mind to latch onto the ‘relational dynamics’ and when it does, ‘let go of’ the abstract notion of the ‘existence of things’ so as to ‘bootstrap’ a purely relational cognitive impression/understanding. The ‘being’ of name-labelled ‘things-in-themselves’ is thus an abstract expedient; … a cognitive tool (‘Wittgenstein ladder’) to ‘lift oneself up into purely relational cognitive mode.
The division between Eastern and Western cognition pivots from whether one considers ‘being’ to be ‘real’ or ‘poetic abstraction of convenience’ used in bootstrapping to facilitate language based discussion of a fluid reality that would otherwise be beyond linguistic capture/expression’.
“Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen” … “that which we are unable to capture in language, we must pass over in silence.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein
Introduction: The Difference Between ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ Cognition
The ‘stroke of insight’ sheds light on the difference between ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ modes of cognition. [Note: these ‘loose’ references are tightened up in the context of the following discussion]. Here is a brief summary of the basic difference starting from the discovery that modern physics ratifies Eastern and indigenous aboriginal modes of cognition. A more complete discussion is appended.
Western cognition was formerly ‘more poetic’ [i.e. in the ‘mythopoeic era’] in which case it was a virtual overlay to Eastern cognition and also to the findings of modern physics. What I mean by ‘poetic’ and ‘Eastern’ cognition is ‘bootstrapped cognition’. ‘Bootstrapping’ is a cognitive device used to capture the purely relational world dynamic aka ‘flow’ or ‘field’, which cannot be captured (directly) in the ‘being’ based terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’. Bootstrapping has the same properties as ‘poetry’ where one describes an essentially ‘relational’ form by way of a web of ‘thing-based’ relations wherein the ‘things’ used to develop the web of relations do not exist as things-in-themselves. For example;
‘Dances with wolves’ and;
‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day, thou art more lovely and more temperate’, — Shakespeare
The point is that in the ‘field’ view of forms such as humans, there is no assumption of ‘being’ or ‘persisting identity’, there is only the understanding of a human as a relational form in a transforming relational continuum (field/flow).
Modern physics supports the poetic view of relational forms and does not support the notion of ‘beings’ as ‘literally existing things-in-themselves’. There is no such thing as ‘being’ or ‘beings’ in a transforming relational continuum aka ‘the Tao. As already mentioned, ‘being’ can be rightly understood as an intellectual concept employed in language and grammar to induce cognition of purely relational dynamics. This device is called ‘bootstrapping’. ‘Being’ is not to be taken ‘literally’, as it unfortunately too often is, in Western society.
Poetic allusions provide a means of inducing cognition of purely relational transformation as in the physical reality of our actual experience. However, the cognitive deployment of ‘being’ in the absence of poetic allusion leads to ‘being’-based abstraction which is commonly, in Western society, accepted as ‘the operative reality’, putting it into an unnatural precedence over the relational reality of our actual experience, an error that generates cognitive ‘incoherence’ (Bohm).
For the left-brain stroke experient, relational cognition resumes its natural precedence (over being-based cognition), due to damage to the latter that had, by cultural error, been put into an unnatural precedence over relational cognition. This damage manifests in stroke-experient behaviour as difficulty in thinking of ‘names’ as ‘being-based signifiers’ (labels for notional ‘things-in-themselves’). ‘Names’ in a bootstrapping context are merely for the purpose of developing relational cognition and have no ‘absolute thing-in-itself connoting power’. To use names as signifiers of ‘thing-in-itself’ being is an ‘error of grammar pointed out by Nietzsche, Bohm and others. Nevertheless, it is the standard mode of cognition in Western society where the ‘poets’ have ceded primary cognitive influence to pre-relativity scientists (‘rationalists’) who have made ‘being’ the foundation of an articulable operative reality, displacing relational allusion (poetic inference).
Poetic inference informs us NOT by providing explicit information, but by inducing cognition of purely relational phenomena, as in ‘field’ based reality. It can do so while explicit being based cognition and its rational rhetoric cannot;
”Do not forget that a poem, although it is composed in the language of information, is not used in the language-game of giving information. “ … “Philosophy ought really to be written only as a form of poetry.”
As Bohm and others have pointed out, the social dynamics of Western society are plagued by ‘incoherence’ that comes from putting being-based rational intellection into an unnatural precedence over poetic (relational) inference as the primary cognitive orchestrator of our individual and collective dynamics.
The ‘bottom line’ ‘take-away’ here is that; ‘if it is not poetic inference, it is not referring to physical reality.’
* * * end of Summary * * *
Rumpelstiltskin as a ‘Rosetta Stone’ that translates to and from Western and Eastern cognition
The story of Rumpelstiltskin is making a strong impression on me as I continue to try to reconcile my pre-and-post stroke cognitive dynamics. An underlying ‘message’ in the story of Rumpelstiltskin is the trend in Western society to put ‘knowledge’ into an unnatural precedence over experience. If we know the name and ‘title’ of a person, do we put such understanding in precedence over our experience of relational interactions with that person? In the realm of animals, how many people who had ‘no experience with wolves’ killed them simply because people with no experience of wolves had knowledge of ‘how bad wolves are’? Understanding that derives from abstract intellection that keys to ‘names’ can ‘take over the helm’ from understanding that derives from actual relational experience.
A ‘name’ has ‘magic’ in that it can turn a pauper into a prince (‘spin straw into gold’). A ‘name’ has the ‘magic power’ to infuse ‘being’ into a relational form in the flow. A ‘being’ is cognitively understood as a ‘thing-in-itself’ that we can understand by understanding its internal components and processes that ostensibly drive and shape its asserting actions and source its accomplishments. This ‘magic’ is a kind of ‘black magic’ or language-stimulated cognitive illusion.
Western culture has been criticized for putting ‘knowledge’ into an unnatural primacy over experience. Western education has been the source of elevating abstract knowledge into precedence over relational experience.
The evident point is that knowledge of names can over-ride understanding that comes from experience. If I have the experience of meeting with princes, will that confirm the superior social status granted to princes? Or will experience with a prince expose ‘the emperor’s new clothes’ self-deception? Maybe I don’t have to ‘have the experience’ of relationally engaging with the prince to understand that my knowledge of names is lining me up for a certain kind of experience [a man may kneel and a woman curtsy before the prince but not before the pauper].
If I am always dining with princes and can report on their great generosity and benevolence and their deservingness of their elevated status, is such experience ‘real experience’? If we all met naked in the forest, without any ‘emperor’s new clothes’ to identify ‘which one of us was the prince’, would that experience be ‘more real’? Why did Lao Tzu say that one did not have to leave the house to understand the world beyond? Did he mean that we are inherently ‘included in the world’ as a relational form in a transforming relational continuum?
Names are said to be the foundation of ‘being’ and that without names, we would understand the world through our relational experience; i.e. as Wittgenstein says;
“Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen” … “that which we are unable to capture in language, we must pass over in silence.”
Is it not impossible to capture in language, the experience of inclusion within a transforming relational continuum?
One may use language to assert; … ‘I built a house’, thanks to the word-name ‘house’ which implies persisting ‘being’, but does the house ‘really exist’ as a ‘thing-in-itself’ as language implies? Or, is ‘being’ an intellectual abstraction? The ‘greater reality’, supported by our relational experience is that the world we are included in is a transforming relational continuum wherein ‘everything is in flux’ [Heraclitus]. Of course, when we use language to name things and thus impute ‘being’ to them, we end up by reconstructing a being-based pseudo-reality. It is this ‘being-based’ (language-imputed) pseudo-reality that becomes the ‘intellectual reality’ that Western culture popularly employs as the ‘operative reality’. It is the ‘level 3 cognitive construction in the Erich Jantsch description of three nested levels of cognition which are, from lowest to highest; level 3: ‘being’ or ‘nature’ (the existence of named things); level 2: ‘becoming’ or ‘nurture’ (environment-induced changes to ‘being’ (named things), and, level 1: flow or ‘field’ where what were seen as ‘things-in-themselves’ in levels 3 and 2 are understood as relational forms within a flow-field.
To ‘name something’ is to produce the cognitive impression of ‘being’ or ‘persisting thing-in-itself’ existence’. When people are attracted to a natural beauty spot and ‘build a house or hotel’ there, our experience informs us that what is really going on is not ‘construction of a new named entity’ [house or hotel] but the transforming of an all-inclusive relational space. The addition of each new house is a ‘being-based’ intellectual conceptualization cognitively triggered by language. Relational transformation is what we actually experience. An attractive or protective natural venue induces a transformative dynamic in the manner that a valley induces the coordinating of runoff into a river whereupon language conveys this relational transformation in the inverted authorship sense of the river carving out a valley/canyon.
Should we understand that; ‘there is a lot of construction going on in the valley; … or, we live in a transforming relational continuum? In our Western culture, we impute ‘being’ to a ‘named thing’ such as a ‘building lot’ and a ‘house’ and these ‘names’ carry a lot of ‘cognitive weight’ that overshadows, in the Western intellect, the experiential reality of ongoing relational transformation. Since ‘everything is in flux’ (Heraclitus), the house is a relational form in a transforming relational continuum; it is ‘not really’ a ‘thing-in-itself’.
These are issues that become more ‘immediate’ in post-stroke experience where the ‘stocks’ of ‘being’ as in ‘named things-in-themselves’ that one has invested in, take a nosedive, allowing ‘flow’ or ‘relational transformation’ to rise up and re-assume its rightful priority in cognition.
In the indigenous aboriginal and Buddhist mode of cognition, ‘names’, because they impute persisting ‘being’ which is ‘unrealistic’ (impossible) in a world of flow, provide a means of employing ‘language’ in a ‘bootstrapping’ mode, that uses ‘being’ to create a cognitive take-away that is purely relational and without hard dependency on ‘being’ (abstract ‘persisting thing-in-itself existence’). Language allows us to create an illusion wherein named things are set in motion cognitively, merely to induce the impression of relational transformation that lies beyond any dependency on ‘being’
‘Bootstrapping’ is thus a cognitive ‘sleight of mind’ that linguistically deploys ‘things-that-be’ to deliver a purely relational understanding by first using ‘names’ to invoke the notion of ‘things-in-themselves’, … then using the interactions of these ‘things-in-themselves’ to depict (induce a cognitive impression of) relational dynamics, so that the final cognitive take-away is purely relational as in ‘relational forms in a transforming relational continuum’.
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. — Wittgenstein
‘Beings’ as in ‘human beings’ and as with ‘being’ and ‘beings’ in general as induced in language inspired cognition by ‘names’, are only a temporary expedient [for use in bootstrapping] in the indigenous aboriginal and Buddhist understanding (worldview), as is consistent with modern physics as interpreted by David Bohm, Erwin Schroedinger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Friedrich Nietzsche [Nietzsche’s philosophy is informed by physics via Roger Boscovich].
Names, a linguistic device for invoking the abstract concept of ‘being’ [persisting existence] are a ‘temporary expedient’ where used to ‘bootstrap’ cognition of the purely relational reality of our experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum.
However, in a culture which holds ‘being’ to be ‘real’ rather than expedient abstraction used for bootstrapping relational cognition, … we have a problem. The Western cultural trend to move away from poetic relational cognition and put ‘being’ based cognition into an unnatural primacy began making inroads in about 500 BCE;
“Heraclitus had declared ‘being’ a perpetual ‘becoming’ and had correlated the two concepts with his ‘hidden attunement.’ Now Parmenides declared the two to be mutually exclusive, and only ‘being’ to be real.” — ‘The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man’, — ‘Frankfort et al’
Where we are today is that the non-poetic, ‘rational’ worldview of Western culture has opened the way (and kept it propped open) for the ‘assumed reality’ of the intellectual abstraction of ‘being’ to hijack the poetic understanding of our experiencing of reality as Heraclitean flow; i.e. Western language and intellection are ‘paving over’ our experience-based understanding of the world (reality) as a transforming relational continuum; … a ‘flow’ in which our experience is that of relational forms in the flow.
The hijacking (within the Western culture) of relational understanding by language wherein ‘names are equated-with-real-beings’ or ‘things-in-themselves’, …puts poetic understanding (understanding in terms of a transforming relational continuum) into a background role with respect to the mainstream mode of cognition that largely shapes the social dynamic. This is in spite of modern physics support for the ‘poetic’ (bootstrapped) interpretation of the world as a transforming relational continuum. The bootstrapping (e.g. ‘Dances with Wolves’) poetic mode of cognition of indigenous aboriginals that conveys the relational essence of the reality of our experience, has been recognized by Bohm, Peat and others as being consistent with the findings of modern physics;
“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’
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Synopsis: ‘Bootstrapping’ is a poetic means of developing the cognitive impression of a fluid universe when starting from ‘names’. ‘Names’ give the impression of persisting being which is incompatible with the goal of describing a world of relational forms within a transforming relational continuum. ‘Names’ must therefore be used in a ‘bootstrapping’ mode so that the cognitive impression of purely relational dynamics can be cultivated in such a manner that the ‘things-in-themselves’ used to cultivate the relational impression can ‘withdraw from the scene’. This approach has been described by physicists Geoffey Chew and John Wheeler in terms ‘The surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’. Bootstrapping is ‘built in’ to indigenous aboriginal language, as it is built into poetry.
In today’s ‘mainstream’ pre-relativity science, the cognitive impression of ‘being’ associated with named ‘things-in-themselves’ remains the ‘gold standard’ [Rumpelstiltskin-style]. Western ‘operative reality’ thus continues to confuse relational forms in the transforming relational continuum; e.g. ‘humans’, for ‘beings’ that are understood as independently-existing material organisms with internally sourced development and behaviour. At least that is the ‘nature’ portion of the ‘nature-nurture’ dichotomy, wherein ‘nurture’ introduces the notion of environmental influence on the development of beings. In both of these cases (level 3 and level 2 cognition), the organism is understood as a ‘thing-in-itself’, that exists independently of the environment it is included in. This leads to a notional split between a supposed ‘inanimate material world’ and the ‘animate organic world’ which resists explanation in pre-relativity science [in spite of creative notions of lightning striking a pool rich in electrolytes to jumpstart the existence of life on an otherwise ‘dead’ planet].
Footnote: The intuitive awareness of our Western culture error of letting rational knowledge supersede relational experience is common; e.g the following comment (among many) expressing concern over the Western culture habit of elevating intellectual information into an unnatural precedence over experience.
. When you were a kid growing up, I am sure you heard the saying: “Knowledge is Power.“
Our culture emphasizes knowledge. Everywhere.
Schools are extremely mind oriented. For example, knowledge and information are taught to be more important than experience. By the time our children graduate from high school, they will have spent more time acquiring facts and abstract information they will never be able to apply.