The ‘Experiential Reality’ Beneath the ‘Language Game Illusion’
Introduction: Behaviours can be ‘situationally animated’ and they can be ‘language animated’. When we get together to try to understand ‘the world dynamic’, we do so using synthetic realities constructed with ‘words-as-subjects’ to depict the ‘animating agencies’. In the above graphic, situation animated dynamics ‘actually’ shape the boundaries of ‘states’. But once we have a ‘name’ for the state, we can use that word, as if it were a real ‘thing-in-itself’; i.e. as the fixed subject of predicative behaviour. ‘Subject animated dynamics’ are clearly not the same as ‘situation animated dynamics’. The problems that arise when we put our psycho-LOGICAL view of the former into an unnatural precedence over our experience of the latter are increasingly manifest in today’s society.
The globally dominating culture, call it ‘Western’ or ‘colonizer’ or whatever, portrays our life experience by way of a ‘language game’ wherein we substitute ‘subject animated dynamics’ for ‘situation animated dynamics’. One is not allowed to call attention to the fact that we are ‘playing this game’, and if we do, we break the rules of the game, and we are punished for it.
The policing is not by some group of control-seeking conspirators but ‘by ourselves’, by practice embodied in the fabric of culture;
“… where Chimpanzees were sprayed with ice-water [which they hate] every time they touched a distinctive red ladder placed in their cage. The chimps quickly learned to police one another so that there would be no climbing by anyone on that ladder. There was soon no longer any need to spray the ice-water since their mutual policing was so effective. When newcomers joined the group, they were quickly trained not to touch the red ladder, and when the entire group was replaced, one after the other, with new residents who had never experienced the spraying of ice-water in association with touching the red ladder, the entirely new group continued to police themselves so that they did not climb on it. Learning ‘good behaviour’ was by way of revelation of what the group held to be ‘good behaviour’.”
The ‘language game’ for which the ‘policing’ is embodied in the fabric of our culture has been described by Nietzsche as follows; We observe/experience a dynamic unfolding, a brilliant light in the sky or a violent swirling of wind and clouds, or a dynamic form that is physically like ourselves. Though our experience informs us that these dynamic forms that continually out-well and in-well, are like ‘ripples’ in the energized medium of the space we live in, a space that persists as these things come and go within it, we begin the language game by giving these things ‘names’; e.g. ‘lightning’, ‘hurricane’, ‘man’ etc. and making these words ‘subjects’ that become their own sources of action; ‘lightning flashes’, ‘hurricanes blow/destroy’, ‘man does such-and-such’. We make these ‘words’ into ‘doers of deeds’, even though our experience informs us that these forms are transient developments in the energy-charged medium that we live in.
We let our understanding slip, without excuse or justification, from ‘things considered in themselves’ [Dinge an sich selbst betrachtet] to ‘things in themselves’ [Dinge an sich]. Our subjectivity, the subjectivity of the observer/experience is what juridically/logically endows these ripples in the spatial-plenum with local objects/organisms/system ‘being’ status, which prepares them for our notionally equipping them with their own local, internal sourcing powers for developing form, behaviour and collective organizing. Thus it is our own ‘subjectivity’ that re-renders the world dynamic in ‘inside-outward asserting’ terms by means of a language game, even though every aspect of our life experience informs us that we live in a continually evolving space wherein outside-inward orchestrating influence predominates over inside-outward asserting influence; i.e. the flow predominates over the ripples that continually develop within the flow and that participate in its transformation [the ripples are the agents of transformation of the flow they are inclusions in]. As Mach’s principle of space-matter relativity says; “The dynamics of the flow condition the dynamics of ripples at the same time as the dynamics of the ripples are conditioning the dynamics of the flow.”
The language game will take a life experience such as where the occupants of a boat that springs a leak start frantically bailing out the inflowing water, a ‘situation-animated dynamic’ wherein the occupants are participants in the transformation of spatial relations, and re-cast it in language-game terms of ‘what people do’ as if their actions are entirely inside-outward asserting, sourced by knowledge, intellection and purpose. We say that the ultimate source of inside-outward asserting people-action is the ‘survival instinct’. The language game falls back on this a lot, and even ‘explains’ evolution (inside-outward genetic development) as being powered by ‘survival instinct’ [ignoring the outside-inward epigenetic influence].
Scientists who openly opine that epigenetics [outside-inward orchestrating of the formative dynamic] predominates over genetics [inside-outward asserting of the formative dynamic] break the subject-predicate rules of the language game and are ‘expelled’ from their profession, or else they learn to ‘keep their mouths shut’ and obediently observe the rules of the language game. As the psychiatrist-philosopher Ronald Laing put it;
They are playing a game. They are playing at not
playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I
shall break the rules and they will punish me.
I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.
Politicians and economists play the same language game as scientists. The Polish are a ‘proud people’, so be careful when telling ‘Polish jokes’. But who are the ‘Polish?’. If one reviews the ‘boundary game’ that goes hand in hand with the ‘language game’ we see that Poland’s borders have transformed under the epigenetic influence of the political collective in which it is included. Yet the language game treats the Poles as a ‘subject’ that one can associate predicative action to; ‘The Poles expanded their boundaries, the Poles had to pull back their boundaries. So who are the Poles? According to Wikipedia;
“The Polish people, or Poles are a nation indigenous to Poland.”
That’s interesting, ‘the Poles are circularly defined as the people who live in Poland’, …particularly in view of the oscillating borders of Poland. But Wikipedia continues;
“The preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland defines the Polish nation as comprising all the citizens of Poland.”
This second definition is a juridical/logical one. If you have your Polish citizenship papers, you are a Pole.
If the ‘authorities’ give you this name, that is what ‘you really are’! … according to the language game. The Pole who has just got his U.S. citizenship is not only going to punch you out for telling Polish jokes, he is going to kick your ass for burning an American flag.
Economists will calculate you a GDP for Poland regardless of its borders that will inform you as to whether the Poles are superior or inferior ‘producers’. They merely have to plug the new border information into their database and re-gather the economic data on that basis. They will give you the GDP for Kosovo the day after it is juridically/logically decreed an ‘independent state called Kosovo’. A week later, economic experts will sit beside the politicians and ratify the proposed economic programs to improve the Kosovan GDP as if it were an inside-outward determined result, rather than seeing the region as an inclusion within an evolutionary unfolding wherein outside-inward orchestrating influence [epigenetics] predominates over inside-outward asserting [genetic] influence.
Theologians are also members of the language-game club. They tell us that once a man has a name and is thus a ‘being’ [one of God’s ‘creations’], he has ‘his own inside-outward asserting behaviour’ and since he ‘has his own behaviour’, and is fully and solely responsible for it [in denial of the real world of our experience where human behaviours are situationally animated and where we are participants in the relational transformation of the living space we all share inclusion in], he can be judged as to the moral goodness or badness of his behaviour. But as Chuang Tzu observed;
Teaching love and duty
provides a fitting language
with which to prove that robbery
is really for the general good.
A poor man must swing,
for stealing a belt buckle,
But if a rich man steals a whole state
He is acclaimed as statesman of the year.
Of course we don’t have ‘our own behaviour’, except in the world of language games where we use the subject-predicate doer-deed constructs based on word-names as a basis for re-rendering the spatial relational dynamics of our experience, in the synthetic terms of visual form-animated dynamics wherein we picture ourselves as navigators in a dynamic space where the dynamics are due to named-forms like ourselves that act/interact sequentially [‘in time’] in an absolute, fixed, ‘operating theatre’; i.e. in a fixed reference-frame or x,y,z Euclidian space. [essentially, we use the language game to remove the spatial-relational character of the space of our real-life experience and substitute a fixed and empty operating theatre box filled with local named beings that are imagined to be the first cause source of the world dynamic]
The language game only works in Euclidian space where things can exist ‘absolutely’ as ‘local beings’. In a relational space such as the one we experience living in; i.e. in the space on the surface of the earth, there is only spatial-relational ‘becoming’ and there are no persisting ‘identities’ [in our natural, pre-lingual experience]. Our dynamics are animated by the spatial-relational situations that unfold [that we participate in unfolding]; i.e. we participate in transforming the common living space we share inclusion in.
Sure, the European colonizers can speak in language game-‘what named-things do’ terms, and claim that they are the authors of the genesis of a wonderful new world/civilization in the Americas while the colonized indigenous peoples can speak in language game-‘what named-things do’ terms, and claim that the colonizers are the authors of the degeneration and destruction of a wonderful established civilization on Turtle Island. This leads to the usual irreconcilable difference in language game world views. Of course a video-camera on Mars focused on the earth would see all earth activity as being included with a continuing spatial-relational transformation. When the colonizers said they ‘moved from ‘Europe’ to ‘America’’, … without the language game artefacts ‘Europe’ and ‘America’ to anchor the movement and present it in terms of absolute motion, it would be seen as part of a rearranging of the overall spatial relations in the space on the surface of the sphere of the earth, the only sort of motion (spatial-relational rearranging/transformation) that is possible in such a [spherical] space.
Therefore, while the reality of our experience is of the transforming spatial relations that we share inclusion in; i.e. the colonizer notion of ‘genetic authorship’, of growth and construction and the colonized peoples notion of ‘degenerative authorship’, of collapse and destruction, are flip sides of the one ‘real dynamic of our experience’; i.e. transformation of the space in which we share inclusion. As Nietzsche puts it;
“And do you know what “the world” is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income … This world is the will to power–and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power–and nothing besides!” –Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’, 1067
And as McLuhan said, it matters little what name we attach to the factory we plunk down into the town, ‘Cadillac’ or ‘Cornflakes’, what matters is how our relations with one and other and the habitat are transforming. And generation after generation of flickering picture-shows of human families rising up and collapsing ‘in place’ give history to the same place in terms of its transformation. We are that transforming place that we are living and experiencing in.
Now, another sponsor of language game play, along with Scientists, Politicians, Economists and Theologians is the ‘Romantic’. The ‘Romantic’, like the theologian, wants to ‘reconnect’ the ‘named subject’ with the real world he/she/it was synthetically split out from. The ‘Romantic’ wants to reverse the ratcheted sequence from ‘Ding an sich selbst betrachtet’ to ‘Ding an sich’, but without ‘dropping the name’. The ‘Romantic’ notionally infuses a ‘heart’ and ‘soul’ into the named subject to restore its ‘connection’ with the unfolding spatial ‘All’, so that the named entity can be seen as a channel that the universe is acting through. This is akin to an attempt to acknowledge that hurricane Katrina is a ripple in the spatial flow-plenum without abandoning the power of the word ‘Katrina’ in notionally attributing local, internal sourcing powers [first-cause creative authorship powers] to Katrina. The internal organs of ‘heart’ and ‘soul’ become notional channels through which the powers of the universe find expression through the named subject. This preserves the language game’s salient characteristic, namely, that all action in the universe is inside-outward asserting, even though every aspect of our experience screams out that outside-inward orchestrating predominates over inside-outward asserting influence [i.e. while ‘epigenetics’ and ‘genetics’ are flip sides of the one spatial-relational dynamic, ‘epigenetics’ predominates over ‘genetics’ as in any fluid, field-flow dynamic].
It is a degenerate form of understanding to say that the frantic bailing actions of the occupants of the boat derive, on a first cause basis, from their internal processes of intellection and purpose (their so-called ‘survival instinct’ mocked by Nietzsche). They may not feel their lives threatened at all. They may want to keep their clothes dry. They are evidently participants in situationally animated dynamics; … they are participants in transforming the spatial relations they are situationally included in. Like the people of the deer [Nenets] when the herd moves, they move, in order to sustain balance and harmony in their conjugate habitat-inhabitant relations. It is only the language game that allows us to re-render these spatial-relational dynamics in a manner that notionally points to the sourcing of the dynamics as originating in the interior of the named ‘form’ that we have, using the language game, ‘broken out’ of the spatial relational dynamic continuum.
The language game is totally screwing us up. The economists are looking silly and so are the politicians. They continue to stick with the language game and with the belief [based on juridical/logical declarations] that nations and corporations are subjects with predicative authoring capacities, a ‘total Fiktion’ as Nietzsche would say [a ‘useful fiction’ if not confused for reality]. The theologians continue to claim that each person is a local subject with full and sole responsibility for predicative action, and thus is governable by moral code and conscience, even though the Chuang Tzu observation has generally been on the rise; i.e. that “A poor man must swing, for stealing a belt buckle, But if a rich man steals a whole state He is acclaimed as statesman of the year.”
The Romantics, who ignore that the source of the dysfunction lies in the language game, preserve the named subject and argue that we must develop more loving hearts and more soulful souls as an antidote to the ‘self-otherness disconnect’ between the named entities and the space they share inclusion in. My take is the same as R.D. Laing’s;
They are all playing a game. They are all playing at not
playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I
shall break the rules and they will punish me.
I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.
And no, I don’t presume I’m the only one. Nietzsche said it very plainly, and so did Poincaré and it has probably occurred to most of us. Poincaré seems to have originated the term ‘language game’ and confounded his colleagues and the public by saying that the proposition ‘the earth rotates’ is nonsense. His point, first made in ‘Science and Hypothesis’ and after the confusion it caused, explained again in Science and Method’, is that ‘the earth’ is the name we give to a dynamic phenomenon within a larger dynamic phenomenon, thus it is not the first cause ‘subject/author’ of its own behaviour. His point is the same as Nietzsche’s where Nietzsche used the example ‘lightning flashes’.
“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
Wittgenstein also pointed out that our logical propositions are ‘language games’. The ‘nouns’ we use in language, as the basis for our logical propositions, enjoy ‘absolute being’, something alien to our experience, but only within the language game realm.
No-one, not Poincaré, Nietzsche or I, are saying that this language game is not useful or that it has not helped us achieve amazing things in the realm of technology. It has given us the Cadillac and Cornflake factories and much more, but as our focus has turned to ‘what things do’, treating these ‘names’ such as the Cadillac factory [or ‘Poland’ etc.] as first-cause authors of their products, we lose sight of the fact that we and the factory are included in a spatial-relationally transforming common living space. This space is the ur-author of both ourselves and the Cadillac factory, so that merely putting a name on ourselves and the factory is not sufficient to magically convert us into the first-cause creative ‘subject/authors’ of ‘our own behaviour’. But that is what we do with the ‘language game’ and then we re-render the world dynamics in terms of ‘named things’ and ‘what they do’; i.e. the Polish nation, and we report on this in the media as if it were ‘the real world’, when it is ‘maya’ [Vedics], ‘schaumkommen’ [Schroedinger], ‘Fiction’ [Nietzsche].
If we believe in the ‘independent existence’ of the Polish nation/state or any other named state or named being, we may as well believe in faeries (in good faeries and in daemons).
But who will be the first to expose ‘the Emperor’s New Clothes’ in this case? Nietzsche made a good attempt and the jury is still out. That is, his ideas are so outrageous when viewed by most of us, we-all who have been indoctrinated into belief in the language game. So that while these outrageous ideas tickle our experiential understanding, inviting it to return to its natural precedence over ‘maya’, the ‘illusion’ constituted by the language game reality, we are at the same time confounded by the fact that this requires us to go against the bulk of what is commonly understood and accepted in our culture.
The language game [not the game itself but our confusing its ‘illusion of reality’ for ‘reality’] is proving toxic to our collective health and there seems to be a natural self-correction underway. People are no longer paying as much attention to what politicians and economists have to say, and neither are they paying that much attention to theologians, who seem as confused and without answers as everyone else; i.e. the theologians advocate the same things as always. In spite of the rejection of language based advice and the desire to re-tune to situation-animated dynamics where we are participants in transforming spatial relations in our shared living space, we remain addicted to the language game through our addiction/dependence on ‘money’. ‘Money’ is the currency of the language game and its ‘what things do’ illusion. Money is the predicate of the subjective authorship of product. Money is needed to buy Cornflakes and Cadillacs and to ‘keep the global economy healthy’.
If we fly around the world, we see villages nesting in oases, in green valleys, in sheltered ports. Our video-camera on Mars would have recorded the climate induced migration of green areas and the Okies in hot pursuit, and in general, the evolution of these communities in terms of ‘situation-animated dynamics’, like the bailing of the occupants of the leaking boat, wherein ‘epigenetics’ [outside-inward orchestrating influence] predominates over ‘genetics’ [inside-outward asserting influence] though the two are flip sides of one dynamic; i.e. spatial-relational ‘in place’ transformation. Certainly, the imposing of names and the power of subject/author status the forms we ‘name’ gives us the psychological ‘traction’ to re-render these dynamics ‘one-sidedly’ in the inside-outward asserting terms of a subjectively authored ‘genesis’, so long as we can suspend or ‘temporarily forget about’ the more comprehensive understanding of these dynamics as in-place spatial-relational transformation. There is the problem that the growth and genetic constructions of thousand of generations of human inhabitants ‘just doesn’t add up’ as seen on our Mars video-camera. Apparently, all of this production and construction is ‘not real’ and what is going on is captured in Nietzsche’s description, as ‘in-place’ relational transformation;
“This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income”
To sell our services for money is to become slaves of the language game which perceives ‘production’ as ‘real’, rather than as a rearrangement of things in spatial-relational terms [as it would be understood by Mach’s principle, in the relative space, or non-euclidian space, rather than as in absolute space of the language game]. Insofar as ‘production’, ‘what things do’, or ‘what we do’, animates our social dynamic, we remove ourselves from the ‘situation animated dynamics’ of pre-technological society, the dynamics of naturally evolving communities wherein we understood ourselves as participants in spatial-relational ‘in-place’ transformation. I would like to say ‘pre-lingual’ society here, but its not a question of ‘before we played the language game’, it is a question of whether or not we put the ‘language game-reality’ in precedence over the reality of our situational experience. We didn’t do this ‘early on’ and we still wouldn’t do it if we were a group that was ‘marooned’ in the ‘wilderness’ [i.e. subject to normal life experience once again]; i.e. our language games would be secondary support while we responded to the outside-inward orchestrating influences of nature.
But of course, once we swear an oath of allegiance to the Polish nation or whatever, we are committing to putting a language-game based organizational system in precedence over the outside-inward orchestrating influences that elicit our local situational responses. In other words, our societal organizing structures embody the upside-down precedence of the language game reality over the situationally animated dynamics of our experience, and this becomes the ‘new normality’. As R.D. Laing also observed;
“What we call ‘normal’ is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjection and other forms of destructive action on experience.”
So, right now we are in the position of having made ourselves dependent on the ‘blood’ that sustains the life of the language game culture; i.e. ‘money’, the ‘currency’ of the ‘what things do’ illusion that we confuse for reality. The economists tell us that continuing growth is important for us to be able to sustain the way of living that we have become accustomed to, but the video camera on Mars is showing us that ‘growth’ is and illusion. Our actions are, in reality, participating in a continuing ‘in place’ transformation of our common living space. Thousands of generations of ‘production’ and ‘construction’ have not ‘added up’, genesis and degeneration are flip sides of a single ‘real’ dynamic, in-place [spatial-relational] transformation, like Mach and Nietzsche and Poincaré have suggested.
Evidently, we of the colonizer culture can convert to the belief system of the colonized peoples which was not afflicted by ‘language game’-zombification. The ‘decolonization’ initiatives patiently sustained by aboriginal traditionalists appear to be coming into a growth phase [‘growth’ means that more of the people ‘in this place’ are undergoing conversion]. The ‘decolonizing’ initiatives [arguably present in the ‘Arab Spring’ and ‘Occupy’ metapulse] include the globalizing of the Zapatista ‘man belongs to the land’, ‘evolutionary ethic’ [it is more evolutionary than revolutionary]. These movements, which are really in-place transformations of world view, that are supplanting the inverted ‘the land belongs to man’ ethics of the language game based colonizer culture, represent a ‘demoting’ of the ‘language-game illusion-reality’ to a support role, where it should be. Putting the land first, simply suspends the artificial ‘subject/authoring powers that come with the language game; i.e. it re-embraces as ‘primary’ the situation animated dynamics of our experience wherein we understand that we are participants in the in-place transformation of our living space.
No, we are not local, independent, material organisms/systems with our own locally originating, internal process driven and directed development of form [Darwinism/genetics] and behaviour [Neuroscience], as the subject-predicate grammar of the language game, hyped by scientists, politicians, economists, theologians and romantics have been telling us is the case. We are, as our experience has been continually informing us, spatial situation animated participants in the in-place transformation of our shared living space.
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