Words that construct semantic realities that are not physical reality

Words construct semantic realities that are not the physical reality of our experience.


“The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group . . . We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.” – Edward Sapir



Since what Sapir is calling ‘the real world’ differs depending on the language we are using to construct it, it might better be termed ‘semantic reality’ to distinguish it from the physical reality of our actual experience which is independent of which language we are using to construct our ‘semantic reality’ that we use to share our observations and experiences.


Right now I am using words to share views [my own and citations of others] and I want to go into why my words, and words in general, are inherently inadequate for sharing physical experience.  In other words, I want to take the reader on a guided tour of why our ‘semantic realities’ must necessarily fall short of the physical reality of our actual experience.


In terms of the words that I am putting down as the guided tour narrative, these will be like this, black letters on a blank, white background, and I will put ‘supportive context’ in blue italics against the same blank, white background.  Quotes that should be read as part of the guided tour thread will be in brown.  Since the narrative aspect of the guided tour does not depend on the ‘supportive context’ in blue, the reader can skip over it unless he/she has questions about what is being contended in the narrative stream.


Start of Guided Tour showing the basic inadequacy of ‘semantic realities’


The world of the relational understanding of modern physics [Mach, Bohm, Schroedinger], which is the same sort of world as the world of indigenous aboriginals who employ a ‘timeless’ language, is purely relational; i.e. this world, experienced as physical reality [before we start talking about our experience] is a timeless, transforming relational continuum wherein ‘relations’ are in a natural precedence over ‘things’.   That is, relational influences, as in ‘field-flow’ are the basis of relational forms which we can impute ‘being’ to by associating a word-name-label with the relational form, as we do with hurricanes.  ‘Katrina’ is the word-tag we attach to the relational form.  In terms of physical reality, the relational form ‘Katrina’ must be understood in terms of the transforming relational flow and the nexus of relational influences in the flow that are continually gathering and regathering relational forms within itself.  To use language to make a relational form into a ‘local, visible, material thing-in-itself’ is to create a phantom or spook, notionally lift it [pure ‘appearance’ or ‘apparition’] out of the flux and semantically endowing it with ITS OWN POWERS of development and behaviour.


‘Katrina is growing larger and stronger’, … ‘Katrina is moving towards the Gulf Coast’, … ‘Katrina is ravaging New Orleans’, … ‘Katrina is moving overland and dissipating’.


All of this ‘talk’ is constructing a ‘semantic reality’ based on ‘appearances’ which is something very different from the physical reality of our actual experience.  The pitfall is [and Western civilization has fallen into this bigtime, as Nietzsche and others have been propounding], that we may employ this ‘thing-in-itself’ based ‘semantic reality’ as our ‘operative reality’, putting it into an unnatural precedence over the physical reality of our actual experience, in orchestrating and shaping our individual and collective behaviour.  Such an unnatural inversion is the source of ‘incoherence’ [Bohm] in our relational social dynamic since our actions that conform to the world that we are semantically constructing, are in physical reality, interventions into the transforming relational continuum.


For example, if a semantic reality is constructed in subjective and incomplete terms such as “DDT kills mosquitoes” and “Saddam Hussein is a clear and present danger that must be pre-emptively neutralized”, such ‘semantic realities’ may orchestrate and shape our individual and collective behaviours; i.e. we may employ these ‘semantic realities’ as our ‘operative reality’, but they are far too subjective and incomplete [as is the nature of all logical propositions], to capture the relationally complex physical reality.


Thus, while our actions may fulfill our subjective and incomplete logical propositions; “by spraying DDT we can eliminate mosquitoes” and “by using modern military science and technology we can eliminate the Saddam Hussein regime”, … what is going on in physical reality is something very different; i.e. it is intervention within the transforming relational continuum, the full unity.  The physically real dynamic shows up as ‘externalities’ or ‘side-effects’ that were not part of the subjective and incomplete ‘semantic reality’ we were employing as our ‘operative reality’.


As Nietzsche and Bohm have both pointed out, this is a chronic dysfunction in Western society, this elevating of ‘reason’ [subjective and incomplete logical propositions] into an unnatural precedence over the physical reality of our actual experience.  Our intuition screams out that the simplistic reasoning that we use to construct our ‘semantic realities’ is too subjective and incomplete to be used as an ‘operative reality’.


Ok, this part of the guided tour exposes the origin of these issues via the following diagram of a ‘food web’.  What we are going to look at is this ambiguity as to whether relations are the basis of things [Schroedinger, indigenous aboriginals etc.]  or whether ‘things’ are the basis of ‘relations’ [the popular ‘newtonian’ default of Western society and the ‘semantic realities’ that its politicians popularize].

relations as the basis of forms , not forms as the basis of relations

relations as the basis of forms , not forms as the basis of relations


In the picture we have a diverse multiplicity of forms which persist due to mutual support within a web of relational interdependencies.  Biologists speak of  ‘plant intelligence’ since plants and insects and animals participate in some amazingly efficient and mutually valuable ‘cooperative dynamics’.  But biologists are scratching their heads, at the same time, since, while they can position this ‘intelligence’ in the brains of animals, plants do not even have a central nervous system, so where is this ‘intelligence’ coming from?  [see for example, ‘Smarty Plants’ in David Suzuki’s ‘The Nature of Things’].


Now, it is counter to our Western education, but can you imagine that the web of relations is the source of the things in the web in the manner that the web-of-relations in a fluid-flow is the source of the cells in the flow?  If so, your ‘worldview’ will now be grounded in physical reality according to the relational understanding of modern physics [Mach, Bohm, Schroedinger] and according to the worldview of indigenous aboriginal traditionalists.  This worldview is one in which the inhabitant-habitat relation is non-dual [inhabitant is to habitat as storm-cell is to flow].  It is a timeless world [there is only ‘earlier’ and ‘later’ in a transforming relational continuum] where ‘being’, the abstract notion of ‘independent existence of a thing-in-itself’ does not arise.  ‘Being’ and ‘time’ are artefacts of noun-and-verb Indo-European/scientific language-and-grammar that we use in the construction of ‘semantic realities’; i.e. they don’t arise in the pre-literate physical reality of our actual, relational experience.


So, going back to the food web, we have an ambiguity that is entirely general here, as to whether the forms are the basis of relations, or whether the relations are the basis of forms.  Is the world a complex relational unity that is continually unfolding in-the-now?  Or, is the world a collection of independently-existing things-in-themselves that are changing, moving, interacting and evolving ‘with the passage of time’.


Again, this guided tour narrative is assuming that the former relational understanding conforms with the physical reality of our actual experience, and that the latter ‘being’ and ‘time’ based view is a convenient but over-simplified semantic reality.


Given that the world is given only once, as a transforming relational continuum, it can only be understood ‘in the now’ and ‘in toto’, which is beyond the reach of ‘being’ based semantic realities;


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 …” –Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’, 1067


This One world as transforming relational continuum which is gathering and regathering relational forms within itself is the situation that is being assumed and described in this guided tour narrative.


However, our Western society universities and our method of education, in general, divides the study of the world up into parts, and studies the parts, hoping to put the understanding of the parts back together to deliver an overall understanding of the world.  This would only be possible if the forms [objects, organisms, systems] in the world really were ‘things-in-themselves’ with internal components and processes based development and behaviour.  Then we could come to know the parts fully by their internals without having any innate dependency on relations with other things.


This notion of being able to combine the solutions for the parts to get an overall solution for the system in which all of the parts participate is called ‘linear theory’.  Nonlinear dynamics do not permit decomposition into parts and nonlinear phenomena [such as where there is mutual dependence among the parts that is giving rise to the overall collective behaviour] must be solved ‘all at once’ or ‘in toto’.  This is why scientists felt that new educational/research structures had to be set up to study nonlinear dynamics [e.g. the Santa Fe Institute].


“1. LINEAR VERSUS NONLINEAR. Mathematically, the essential difference between linear and nonlinear equations is clear. Any two solutions of a linear equation can be added together to form a new solution; this is the SUPERPOSITION PRINCIPLE. In fact, a moment of serious thought allows one to recognize that superposition is responsible for the systematic methods used to solve, independent of other complexities, essentially ANY linear problem. Fourier and Laplace transform methods, for example, depend on being able to superpose solutions. Putting it naively, one breaks the problem into many small pieces, then adds the separate solutions to get the solution to the whole problem.



n contrast, two solutions of a nonlinear equation CANNOT be added together to form another solution. Superposition fails. Thus, one must consider a nonlinear problem IN TOTO; one cannot — at least not obviously — break the problem into small subproblems and add their solutions. It is therefore not surprising that no general analytic approach exists for solving typical nonlinear equations. In fact, as we shall discuss, certain nonlinear equations describing chaotic physical motions have NO useful analytic solutions.” [Campbell, David, “An Introduction to Nonlinear Dynamics”, Lectures in the Sciences of Complexity, Vol. I, Santa Fe Institute]


So, referring back to the food web diagram again, we have relational dependencies that are fundamentally important to the incubating and sustaining of forms in the web, so much so that these forms would not exist without the relational web.  This is like the paradox of bees and flowers; i.e. they don’t make sense ‘on their own’ as ‘separate entities’; i.e. the reciprocal complementarity wherein the bee gets fed in the same fell stroke as the flower gets cross-fertilized is a simultaneous mutually supporting single package.   The same paradox arises with respect to male and female; i.e. the male does not make sense as a separate entity and neither does the female but they are mutually supportive and must arrive at the same time [unity in opposition like the low pressure system and high pressure system].  That is, in Heraclitus’ terms, they are a ‘unity-in-opposition’ like the taut string on the lyre where restoring balance is the source of harmony/music [relational tensions can source resonance, as in seismic phenomena].


In any case, such situations are commonly found in research, wherein it is impossible to explain the overall system by building it up from parts [e.g. Darwinism] because the parts are innately dependent on the relations they share inclusion in with their fellow participants, without which they could never sustain themselves as separate existences.


These sorts of commonly encountered paradoxes in biological research are referred to as ‘irreducible complexity’ and lead some people to propose ‘intelligent design’ the source of which lies ‘outside’ the individual parts or any ‘linear combination’ of attributes of the parts.  This implies an outside ‘Intelligent Designer’ [God]; i.e. it is a finding that is used to support ‘Creationism’ in place of [Darwinian] ‘evolution’.


[Note: The relational view transcends both the ‘Creationist’ and ‘Darwinian evolution’ views since both of those views address ‘the evolution of things-in-themselves’, while in the relational view, ‘things’ are ‘appearances’ (relational forms) that we abstractly reify, in noun-and-verb language-and-grammar, as ‘things-in-themselves’ that purportedly change and evolve ‘over time’]


The problem with constructing a worldview in terms of ‘local independent things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these local independent things-in-themselves are doing’ is that these depictions fail to address the questions; ‘where are these things coming from’ and Who or What is orchestrating the exquisite relational dynamics that we see them participating in, and ensuring that all is in accordance with the ‘unus mundus’ or ‘Dominion of One’; [Unus mundus, Latin for “one world”, is the concept of an underlying unified reality from which everything emerges and to which everything returns].


This ‘irreducible complexity’ in nature was underscored by Newton in both his ‘author’s prologue’ and in his summarizing ‘Scholium’ in his ’Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica;


“… and the planets and comets will constantly pursue their revolutions in orbits given in kind and position, according to the laws above explained ; but though these bodies may, indeed, persevere in their orbits by the mere laws of gravity, yet they could by no means have at first derived the regular position of the orbits themselves from those laws. . . . This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One.” — Newton, Scholium in the ‘Principia’


Of course, from the ‘grounding’ or ‘vantage point’  of this ‘Worldviews and Words’ guided tour, relational forms do not exist as things-in-themselves’, they are ‘appearances’ as in the ‘cells in atmospheric flow’ figure-and-ground non-dualities.  They are the visible tip-of-the-iceberg wherein epigenetic inductive influence in the relational medium is actualizing, orchestrating and shaping ‘genetic expression’.  The relational forms, rather than being ‘things-in-themselves’, are relational features OF THE TRANSFORMING RELATIONAL CONTINUUM.  It is our noun-and-verb language that notionally concretizes and localizes the relational form as a ‘local material thing-in-itself’.


There is no physical boundary between ‘Katrina’ the storm-cell, and the continually, relationally-transforming flow in which she is a relational feature.  Our experience-based intuition informs us of this.  Nevertheless, for convenience and ‘economy of thought’ in arranging our observations, as is what ‘science’ is all about [Mach],  we impose that boundary by measuring her visual form up to the limit where we are no longer able to distinguish her from the flow she is gathering in.  We make measurements of wind velocities and pressures etc. and specify the points beyond which these fall to a level of general ambient flow values.  The line of points based on such measurements delineates the boundary of where her existence starts and stops.   Without measurements, there is no boundary between her ‘inside’ and ‘outside’.


As in quantum phenomena, our act of measuring creates the objects from out of an ambiguous relational mist [or probability cloud].  The nebulous relational form in the flow becomes ‘Katrina’ the cell-thing-in-herself by way of our measuring her limits in space and time, setting us up for further measuring of her ‘internals’ by this same process so that we can explain her development and behaviour as if she were a ‘local, independently-existing thing-in-herself’.   Once we have constructed this depiction, we can drop from view all of the relational complexity that is impossible to capture in noun-and-verb language-and-grammar terms; i.e. ‘measurements’ made using absolute space and absolute time reference measures pre-condition our pre-lingual observational data, subjectizing it so that it can be used for constructing thing-based ‘semantic realities’.


We similarly measure the time before, and the time after which we can see no sign of Katrina, which defines the interval of time in which ‘she is said to ‘exist’’.  In this manner, we create, with measurements and words, a finite ‘local independently-existing thing-in-itself’ out of a relational form in a transforming relational continuum. Since the transforming relational continuum is infinite, this measurement process reduces the relational form which is ‘of the infinite’ to something finite, local, and material [what we can see is all that we allow ‘exists’]


This sets the stage for studying forms as things-in-themselves, as well as setting the stage to study the imputed ‘internal intelligence and purpose’ that must drive these local independently existing entities since they are [after our measurements and semantic impositions] seen to exist independently of the space that they reside, operate and interact in.  That is, if we use sprachspiele to  impose ‘independent thingness’ on relational forms, it behooves us to come up with some alternative sourcing for their development and behaviour, having notionally extracted them from the inherent epigenetic inductive influence that, in the physical reality of our actual experience, actualizes, orchestrates and shapes genetic expression [e.g. as in flow-dynamics].   In the case of notional ‘independently-existing’ biological forms, we therefore suppose that they must come loaded with intelligence and purpose; … how else could they, themselves be the full and sole authors of their own development and behaviour?


In other words, once we intellectually [with thought and language] manufacture ‘dualist’ local independent-things-and-what-these-things-do based ‘semantic realities’ from the inhabitant-habitat non-dual physical reality of our actual experience, it behooves us, for consistency’s sake, to come up with (invent) a surrogate source of drive and direction for the ‘now-independent’ forms.  As Nietzsche and others have pointed out, we implant the notions of ‘purpose’ and ‘intelligence’ into the notional ‘local independent things-in-themselves’ to provide the notional source of drive and direction, to replace the flow-based epigenetic inductive influence that actualizes genetic expression that has been cast aside in using subject-verb-predicate structures in constructing our thing-based semantic realities.


While this explains what makes things do what they do [we have now implanted the necessary equipment, notionally (semantically) inside the now ‘independent’ form], it does not explain what made things come together in relational networks like food webs.  This is the same problem that Newton was alluding to in his scholium in regard to planetary orbits.  Not only does some ‘intelligence’ have to orchestrate them into harmonious relational patterns, but it must make sure that all of the many harmonious relational patterns work together within ‘the Dominion of One’.   Kepler was also intrigued by how overall harmony prevails;


 “Now, the ‘harmony-of-the-whole of all the planets contributes more to the perfection of the world than the single harmonies by twos and the pairs of harmonies by the twos of neighbouring planets. For harmony is, so to speak, a volume of unity. A deeper unity yet is presented, when all the planets form a harmony with each another, as when just two at a time harmonize in a bivalent manner. In the interference of these harmonies deriving from the dual harmonic line-ups, which the pairs of planets form with each another, the one or the other must give way (yield), so that the harmony-of-the- whole can prevail.” – Johannes Kepler, ‘Harmonice Mundi’ (1619).


The problem here is, how do the local things know how to put ‘overall harmony’ into precedence over local harmony?  This is a clear case of what has been called ‘irreducible complexity’ where the relations in the web of forms prevail over the actions of the forms, rather than forms being the source of the relations.  This is understandable in the storm-cell and fluid-flow non-duality where the flow not only ‘inhabits the storm-cell’ but creates it’ [‘relations are all there is’], but it is not so easily understood in the case where we have semantically endowed forms with independent being and ‘their own behaviour’, … UNLESS, … we assume the same for them as in the fluid-dynamical case, which is what Mach, Bohm and Schroedinger do assume, and Julian Barbour and ‘relations theorists’ in general; e.g., as cited earlier;


“By the principle of Occam’s razor, physicists and philosophers prefer ideas that can explain the same phenomena with the fewest assumptions. In this case you can construct a perfectly valid theory by positing the existence of certain relations without additionally assuming individual things. So proponents of ontic structural realism say we might as well dispense with things and assume that the world is made of [relational-spatial] structures, or nets of relations.” – Meinard Kuhlmann, ‘What is Real’, Scientific American, August 2013



But, in spite of the complex relational nature of the physical reality of our actual experience, these thing-based semantic realities are convenient reductions [of the relational complexity of the physical reality of our actual experience] that ‘deliver economy of thought’ useful to ‘discourse’.   But, because such thing-based semantic realities are over-simplified [inherently subjective and incomplete] relative to the physical reality of our natural experience, they should neither be confused ‘for reality’ not employed as ‘operative realities’.  As Poincaré makes clear, if you are a ‘pragmatist idealist’, you will not confuse semantic reality for reality, but if you are a ‘realist’, you will confuse semantic reality [your preferred version of semantic reality] for ‘reality’.


But we do employ semantic realities as ‘operative realities’ because it makes us believe that we can bring about a desired future state?  If ‘DDT kills mosquitoes’ then why not spray DDT and kill all the mosquitoes’?   If ‘modern military science and technology kills adversaries’ then why not employ modern military science and technology to ‘rid the world of adversaries’?   One reason is because every time we employ semantic reality as operative reality, and act on such subjective and incomplete logical propositions, a whole load of ‘externalities’ or ‘side-effects’ arise from what is really going on in the physical reality of our actual experience; i.e. an intervention into the transforming relational continuum, that went unaddressed and unaccounted for in our logic-based ‘semantic reality’ that we were employing as our operative reality.


As far as this guided tour is concerned [the main scenarios of which I feel sure would be affirmed by Mach, Emerson, Nietzsche, Poincaré, Bohm and Schroedinger], the problem of ‘externalities’ [alternatively called the problem of ‘constructing twenty pound logical theorems from ten pound axioms’] arises from assuming that relational forms are ‘local things-in-themselves’ and using them as logical elements in logical propositions.  That makes our standard Western actions based on semantic reality ‘shadow boxing’.  Morally judging the child-soldier for his mass killings and holding him fully and solely responsible for ‘his actions’ while insisting that all others in the community are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, … denies the relational view wherein the relational form is a vent for transmitting influences from the non-local, non-visible, non-material field of relational influence to the local point on which the vent can act.  In other words, as pogo said; ‘we have found the terrorist and it is us’.


My guess is that at this point in the guided tour, many if not most who have followed the tour to this point will be getting ‘word-weary’.  If so, that is understandable since this tour involves a deconstruction of our standard assumptions that we no longer question but which form the underpinnings of our semantic reality constructions.  In terms of the food web diagram, this tour invites one to see the relations as being the source of the forms.  The relational influence of the ‘field’ is non-local, non-visible and non-material; i.e. it is purely relational while the local, visible, material forms are ‘appearances’.  What is physically real is ‘the field’ with its immanent inductive influence.  The local, visible, material forms, like ‘Katrina’ are secondary ‘appearances’ and not real local things-in-themselves, although noun-and-verb language-and-grammar make them seem so, thanks to the mind-work of thought and language.


If one is getting fed up with words because there are so many words in this guided tour which makes it hard to ‘keep on track’, one can go back to the food web diagram and remind oneself of the key issue; i.e. this guided tour is grounded in the understanding that ‘relations’ are the basis for ‘forms’ rather than ‘forms’ being the basis of ‘relations’.  This is a radical departure from the standard Western worldview grounding which assumes that ‘forms’ are independently-existing things-in-themselves which are the basis for relations so that the food web is attributed to the ‘intelligent interactions’ of a diverse multiplicity of independently-existing ‘things-in-themselves’ forms.  In other words, Western worldviews accept ‘semantic reality’ as ‘reality’ because it is ‘semantic constructs’ such as subject-verb-predicate constructs that notionally convert relational forms into ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves’.   The objections to this have been many, but old habits die hard, particularly when they are institutionalized in the architecture of government, commerce, justice and education.  The following five items in brown italics underscore the difficulty in this cognitive shift;


What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space. Particles are just schaumkommen (appearances).” – Erwin Schroedinger


 “Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum as opposed to a vacuum, and is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves.” — David Bohm  


 “Fields of force are the primary reality, and ‘matter’ a secondary or derived phenomenon” —Michael Faraday  


 “[In nature]… “the individual parts reciprocally determine one another.” … “The properties of one mass always include relations to other masses,” … “Every single body of the Universe stands in some definite relations with every other body in the Universe.” Therefore, no object can “be regarded as wholly isolated.” And even in the simplest case, “the neglecting of the rest of the world is impossible.” – Ernst Mach  


“By the principle of Occam’s razor, physicists and philosophers prefer ideas that can explain the same phenomena with the fewest assumptions. In this case you can construct a perfectly valid theory by positing the existence of certain relations without additionally assuming individual things. So proponents of ontic structural realism say we might as well dispense with things and assume that the world is made of [relational-spatial] structures, or nets of relations.” – Meinard Kuhlmann, ‘What is Real’, Scientific American, August 2013


In other words, there is plenty of scattered support for backing out of our habitual use of thing-based semantic realities as operative realities, since such operative realities are radical departures from the physical reality of our actual experience, and this means that following in the shadow of those semantic operative realities will be possibly severe ‘externalities’ or ‘side-effects’ which arise as a gap between ‘predicted results’ and ‘actual results’ [persisting in the use of semantic reality to reduce this gap is termed ‘incoherence’].


If we [Western society] were to ‘back out’, and I say ‘if’ since Western society, which is now dominant over the globe thanks to the success of global colonization, has deeply infused and ‘institutionalized’ the use of semantic reality as ‘operative reality’.  Societies which do not construct semantic realities with noun-and-verb Indo-European/scientific language-and-grammar, including indigenous aboriginal traditional societies and pre-literate  or ‘primitive’ societies, have no concept for ‘time’ as in; ‘past, present and future’ states of the world, as if the universe is a thing that is changing in time [rather than a transforming-in-the-now relational continuum].  They not only do not base their realities on ‘being’ and ‘time’ but do not have the same libertarian sense of an independently existing ego-self, as do users of noun-and-verb language-and-grammar.   As Nietzsche notes, language not only gives us a sense of ‘what is real’, it also shapes our sense of ‘self’, which in turn influences our view of others;


“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 the beginning there is that great calamity of an error that the will is something which is effective, that will is a faculty. Today we know that it is only a word.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’


Our belief in ‘independent being’, then, derives from our ‘ego’ sense of self which is supported and reinforced by language and repetitively so, since we are continually using our being-based noun-and-verb language-and-grammar.


On the other hand, if one sees the world as a transforming-in-the-now relational continuum, there is only an ‘earlier’ and ‘later’ in the transforming relational continuum [all relational forms are being continually gathered and regathered and are never NOT part of the flow-continuum].  ‘Time’ as in past, present and future does not arise in the worldview that is in terms of a transforming relational continuum, there is only ‘now’ and that is consistent with our actual, natural experience.  This leads to the understanding that we are all connected within a relational web-of-life, and it leads to justice that is restorative rather than moral judgement and retribution oriented.


If we stay focused on persisting relational forms such as ‘Katrina’, it is the persistence of our visual focus that lends persistence to the identity of the relational form and it is our successively repeated observations that gives rise to the notion of ‘time’, since our present and future observations of Katrina will differ from our past observations of Katrina.   Of course, while there is a succession of observations, there is no repetition in the sense that ‘one can’t step into the same river twice’ and it won’t be the same ‘observer’ nor the same ‘observed’ nor the same relational space within which the observation is transpiring.


The reader presumably has no quarrel with my use of ‘past’, ‘present’ and ‘future’ in my previous sentence because you have experience of the ‘excluded voyeur observer’ way of looking at things, perhaps through the eyes of a satellite observing the relational form ‘Katrina’ and ‘her development’, ‘her movement’ and her ‘destructive actions’.  But you will have to admit that when you are actually in a hurricane, it can be behind you and all around you at the same time as in front of you, in which case you are conditioning its behaviour at the same time as it is conditioning your behaviour.   To see this more clearly, we could scale it down and imagine a group of people gathering around a dust-devil and feel the wind that was sucking into it to fuel and sustain it whipping our clothes and flesh and making them transform in shape and ‘flap’.  The patterns of twisting of the dust-devil in front of us would necessarily reflect our movements as we moved around it to observe ‘its movement’.  And if enough of us blocked off enough of the winds that were fuelling it, we could induce convulsions in it that could strangle and suffocate it.  This ‘observer effect’ is always present but noun and verb language excludes it by making the word-label-noun-subject that we are observing, the authoring source of ‘its own’ development and actions, by having the subject inflect a verb [thus notionally locally jumpstarting the action and ignoring the epigenetic field of influence the relational form is a feature of].


So, ‘being’ and ‘time’ are artefacts of noun-and-verb Indo-European/scientific language and grammar; … they do not belong to the physical reality of our actual experience.  Meanwhile, they are used in the construction of ‘semantic realities’ that we users of noun-and-verb language employ as ‘operative realities’, giving rise to ‘incoherence’ since there is a radical gap between our ‘semantic operative reality’ and the physical reality of our actual experience, as in the dust-devil and food web examples and in general.


As linguist Benjamin Whorf observes;


“It is sometimes stated that Newtonian space, time, and matter are sensed by everyone intuitively, whereupon relativity is cited as showing how mathematical analysis can prove intuition wrong. This, besides being unfair to intuition, is an attempt to answer offhand question (1) put at the outset of this paper, to answer which this research was undertaken. Presentation of the findings now nears its end, and I think the answer is clear. The offhand answer, laying the blame upon intuition for our slowness in discovering mysteries of the Cosmos, such as relativity, is the wrong one. The right answer is: Newtonian space, time, and matter are no intuitions. They are receipts from culture and language. That is where Newton got them.” – Benjamin Whorf, ‘The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language’


At this point in the ‘Worldviews and Words’ guided tour, we could list some of the ‘incoherencies’ that arise from employing a semantic reality based on notional [phantom] ‘local independently-existing material things’ that are put into an unnatural precedence over ‘relational forms in the transforming relational continuum’, …  as our operative reality.


Spirituality is the biggie here.  In the relational view, we are all part of the One although we have a material aspect as well, so in this sense we have two ‘selves’, a greater Self and a smaller local ego-self [the self as a thing-in-itself].  The greater Self is a mind-and-body non-duality while the lesser ego-self is a body and mind duality; i.e. in the Western orthodox ‘dualist’ view, the body is seen as primary and the mind is seen as something inside the body that is directing its behaviour. This contrasts with the non-dual view in which the body is the local, visible material aspect of an inhabitant-habitat non-duality.  One might make a comparison using the storm-cell and atmospheric flow non-duality by associating the mind with the flow (the primary physical aspect) and the cell with the body (the secondary, local, visible, material aspect).  This avoids the dualist mind-body split and suggests the potential for ‘becoming one with everything’ as in the Buddhist meditation.  The same or similar ‘comparison’ is used by Schroedinger, borrowing the views of Advaita Vedanta where Brahman is the greater Self and Atman the lesser ego-self.


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Incoherences associated with employing semantic reality as ‘operative reality’;


  1. Spirituality


In the relational worldview, consciousness is one thing [Schroedinger] and it is immanent in the transforming relational continuum [the One].  In the relational worldview of indigenous aboriginals [who employ a ‘timeless’ verbal language] this immanent consciousness is ‘the great spirit’, so ‘spirituality’ is the basic substrate of the relational worldview, whether Schroedingers as implied by modern physics, or in the understandings of people who ground their worldviews in pre-literate, actual physical experience;


Richard Atleo aka Umeek, a hereditary chief of the Nuu-chah-nulth [Nootka] people, in his book, ‘Tsawalk’, uses the same relational structuring [articulated with different terminology] as Erwin Schroedinger does in modern physics, in observing;


“The material universe is like an insubstantial shadow of the actual substantial Creator. In this worldview, the highest form of cognition, of consciousness does not occur in the insubstantial shadowlike material realm, but in the realm of creation’s spiritual source’.”


“The Nuu-chah-nulth saw the material world as a manifestation of the spiritual.”


The ‘incoherence’ in this case comes from imputing ‘being’ to the local, visible, material body; i.e. the secondary aspect of the relational form in the relational Unum, and making it the jumpstart source of action.


  1. Justice


Since relations are the basis of things, criminal and terrorist actions are understood as venting of relational tensions in the relational complex.  As Emerson says, we are vents that transmit influences from the nonlocal to the local.  This is also the description of a storm-cell in the flow.  The ‘anger’ of the storm-cell derives from the tensions in the relational flow and the venting is a means of transforming or reconfiguring relations in such a manner as to subsume the relational tensions.    In other words, it is a natural process of restoring relational balance and harmony in a relational unum that is ‘falling out of balance’.


The incoherence comes in where the out-of-balance associates with a ‘have’ – ‘have-not’ split; i.e.  it has been habitual in Western civilization to regard rebellion by ‘have-nots’ [outright slaves or virtual slaves] as ‘evil’, rallying the good people who are enjoying their ‘have’ experiences to cooperative initiatives aimed at annihilating the forces of evil.


In ‘restorative justice’, relational imbalance is acknowledged as the source of venting of relational tensions, so the action elicited in the community is to reconfigure/transform relations in the community so as to subsume the relational tensions that are the source of the violence that is manifesting through the violent ‘ventings’.


The indigenous aphorism “it takes a whole community to raise a child (as criminal, terrorist or balance-and-harmony cultivating community member)” captures the circularity of relational dynamics and thus the need for justice that does not invoke the binaries of  ‘independent being’ [matter and void] and ‘good and evil’ (as things-in-themselves incarnate rather than as relational dynamics).


  1. Nationalism


As Einstein saw it; ‘Nationalism is an infantile disease’, the measles of the world’.


Sovereigntism is a ‘secularized theological concept’ [the necessary device for the expansion of European colonialism]  which comes from the thought-and-language based imputing of ‘being’ to patterns of relations and then, after reification with subject-and-verb constructs, imputing powers of internal direction of behaviour to the relational pattern based form.   If one ignores the boundaries and associated labels of the 194 ‘independent sovereign state nations’ that cover the globe, we will see an unbounded flow relational dynamics; i.e. ‘the physical reality of our actual collective experience’.


The ‘Declarations of Independence’ of sovereign states create a semantic reality that is ‘belief based’.    If the territory is divided differently tomorrow, new national entities with ‘independent being’ will be created and measured out for boundaries and local economy and all of that, and the semantic realities will use the new names of the nations as if they are real subjects [being with jumpstart powers of causal agency] that can inflect real verbs [causal agencies] and generate real predicates [results].  This is the semantic reality that European colonizer society is employing as ‘operative reality’.


In the physical reality of relational food webs, we see a global matrix of relations incorporating various flow-patterns.  We see NO independent units.  The notional ‘independent units’ are reifications of the relational patterns.   Each relational pattern is inductively shaped by the beliefs of those within it (constituting the relational webs) and when we say the US or any other nation ‘acts’, the actions of the ‘believers’ are such as to intervene in the transforming relational continuum.  The intervention of large powerful relational matrices in the transforming relational continuum impact the entire worldwide relational web in a large way, but the general case is that any relational matrix within the transforming relational continuum will impact the entire relational matrix [recall that the entities in the matrix are relational ‘vents’ rather than independent things-in-themselves].


The incoherence is in actually believing in the ‘independent being’ of these semantic creations and encouraging their independent ‘pursuit of happiness’ [self-interest optimizing drive] when they are participants within an inherently interdependent relational matrix.  This is a recipe for incoherence, dissonance and conflict.  Nations as convenient ‘pragmatic idealizations’, fine, but taken as real things-in-themselves, within a semantic reality employed as an operative reality, this is a recipe for relational social dysfunction.


  1. Education


Education has assumed that the physical world can be understood by breaking it down into parts in both space and time.  That is the basis for specialized discipline studies in education.   It is like studying each of the forms in the food web [and their internal components and processes] in trying to understand the overall functioning of the foodweb.   This is a futile undertaking given that epigenetic relational influences are the source of the forms in the food web, not the other way round.


It is the abstractions of ‘being’ and ‘time’ that allow education to fragment the study of the world into specialized studies of different aspects and expect that ‘linearly combining the results of the separate studies will furnish an understanding of the behaviour of the overall Unus mundus.   But what Western education is starting from, and presuming to be real, is ‘appearances’ rather than anything physically real.   ‘Katrina’ is a name we give to an ‘appearance’ or ‘apparition’ and so it for all relational forms that we reify with noun-and-verb language-and-grammar.   True, we can build logically consistent [although subjective and incomplete] ‘semantic realities’ using these apparitions as physically real entities, and employ these semantic realities as ‘operative realities’ but that does not justify regarding them as ‘physical reality’ [as in ‘the physical reality of our actual experience].  As Mach observes;


 “Science itself, … may be regarded as a minimization problem, consisting of the completest possible presenting of facts with the least possible expenditure of thought” … “We … should beware lest the intellectual machinery, employed in the representation of the world on the stage of thought, be regarded as the basis of the real world.” – Ernst Mach


The most efficacious device for reducing the relational complexity (nonlinearity) of the world we live in is science’s ‘reduction of the relational unum’ into parts.  This is done by measuring relational forms relative to absolute space and absolute time so is to break the relational continuing down into notional ‘independently-existing entities that change over time’.   That is, ‘change’ is not longer seen as deriving from interdependent relations as in a transforming relational continuum but is instead seen as something that happen to ‘everything in the universe’ with the ‘passage of time’.  This ‘pragmatic idealization’ but it does not jibe with the physical reality of our actual experience.


“Origin of Mathematical Physics. Let us go further and study more closely the conditions which have assisted the development of mathematical physics. We recognise at the outset the efforts of men of science have always tended to resolve the complex phenomenon given directly by experiment into a very large number of elementary phenomena, and that in three different ways.



First, with respect to time. Instead of embracing in its entirety the progressive development of a phenomenon, we simply try to connect each moment with the one immediately preceding. We admit that the present state of the world only depends on the immediate past, without being directly influenced, so to speak, by the recollection of a more distant past. Thanks to this postulate, instead of studying directly the whole succession of phenomena, we may confine ourselves to writing down its differential equation; for the laws of Kepler we substitute the law of Newton.



Next, we try to decompose the phenomena in space. What experiment gives us is a confused aggregate of facts spread over a scene of considerable extent. We must try to deduce the elementary phenomenon, which will still be localised in a very small region of space. — Henri Poincaré, ‘Science and Hypothesis’, Chapter IX, Hypotheses in Physics”


There is a problem in education then, even in the case of polymathic or transdisciplinary study programs, in that the official academic framework for not only studying but expressing study results, is in terms of ‘being’ and ‘time’.  This is too small a framework to express what is being expressed in this ‘guided tour’ of Worldviews and Words.


What is being expressed in this ‘guided tour’ would not withstand ‘peer review’ in an academic environment because it assumes, as its grounding foundation, the natural primacy of relations over things.  The biology discipline, that has been ‘in charge of formal global research into what a human “being” is and how “it” works, will not readily suspend his/her disbelief when the notion that the visible aspect of the human [relational form] is a secondary appearance in the same sense as occurs with a storm-cell in the atmospheric flow.  The fact that I have used this grounding assumption, that relations are the basis of things, in this guided tour, places it outside of what is acceptable in ‘the Church of Education’.   The “Church of Education” says nothing about the secularized theological concept of the sovereign state being confused for reality, perhaps because it is largely subsidized by the state.


Mach ran into this problem in expressing his views, a sampling of which have been included in this ‘tour’.


“After exhorting the reader, with Christian charity, to respect his opponent, Planck brands me, in the well-known Biblical words, as a ‘false prophet.’ It appears that physicists are already on their way to founding a church; they are already using a church’s traditional weapons. To this I answer simply: ‘If belief in the reality of atoms is so important to you, I cut myself off from the physicist’s mode of thinking, I do not wish to be a true physicist, I renounce all scientific respect— in short: I decline with thanks the communion of the faithful. I prefer freedom of thought.” — Ernst Mach, ‘The Guiding Principles of My Scientific Theory of Knowledge’. See also ‘Ernst Mach leaves the Church of Physics’, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Br J Philos Sci (1989) 40 (4): 519-540.))


The popular reaction to this is that Mach ‘got it wrong’ by rejecting that ‘atoms are real’ but as both himself, Poincaré and other ‘relational theorists’ would have it, there are no stand-alone ‘things’ that are ‘real’; i.e. the notion of a independent being or ‘stand-alone things’ is a ‘pragmatic idealization’, a convenient assumption that delivers ‘economy of thought’ and avoids the relational complexity in the physical reality of our actual experience.   As Julian Barbour, one of today’s leading ‘relational theorist’ comments;


 “Mach insisted that science must deal with genuinely observable things, and this made him deeply suspicious of the concepts of invisible absolute space and time. In 1883 he published a famous history of mechanics containing a trenchant and celebrated critique of these concepts.” … “Taking this further, thinking about the position and motion of one object is artificial. We are part of Mach’s All, and any motion we call our own is just part of a change in the complete universe. What is the reality of the universe? It is that in any instant the objects in it have some relative arrangement.” – Julian Barbour, ‘The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics’


Western education presents its findings in terms of ‘being’ and ‘time’, or in other words it assumes that we can accept as ‘real’, ‘invisible absolute space and time’.


This assumption is not the grounding assumption in Mach’s, Schroedinger’s, Bohm’s and Barbour’s work, so these works are ‘outliers’ or exceptions to ‘mainstream scientific semantic reality’.


We should have to have a new language to present research results in that go beyond the capabilities of ‘being’ and ‘time’.


So, this is where the incoherence lies in education.  Education grounds its research and findings in ‘being’ and ‘time’ which is innately limiting; i.e. it makes it impossible to express finding based on relations being in precedence over things, as transpires within a timeless transforming-in-the-now relational continuum, the grounding assumption, based on the intuited physical reality of our actual experience, of Mach, Bohm, Shroedinger and Barbour.


Languages that can capture the relational world view are those of indigenous aboriginals, as discussed by F. David Peat;


“Bohm did note, however, that our (Indo-European) languages tend to be highly noun-oriented and well suited to discussions of concepts and categories. By contrast, quantum theory demands a more process-oriented approach, a verb-based language perhaps that emphasizes flow, movement and constant transformation. (Bohm’s Holomovement – the movement of the whole.) — F. David Peat, ‘Language and Linguistics’


One way to look at what happens if we suspend having our language impose ‘being’ and ‘time’ on our observations/experiences, is that we can conceive of the gathering of a relational form as a ‘cosmic fetalizing’ [inhabitant-habitat non-duality] rather than by measuring its local ‘common properties’ so as to use measurement as a device to impose local being in space and time upon it.  This is what Peat is talking about in the following excerpt from ‘Blackfoot Physics’, which describes how Bohm ‘discovered’ a language that was up to the job of conveying understandings grounded in the relations-before-things understanding of modern physics.


“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’


Cree is certainly not the language of peer review in Western academia.  Furthermore, there is no suggestion of a need for another language beyond English [or other European or Indo-European languages] in education.


That is presumably because Edward Sapir’s and Benjamin Whorf’s conjecture is not generally acknowledged in Academia;


“The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group . . . We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.” – Edward Sapir


David Bohm, F David Peat, Ernst Mach, Friedrich Nietzsche and others agreed with Sapir and Whorf.


Perhaps the Academic collective fears that there may be something to lose by going off the gold standard of ‘being’ and ‘time’.  This is thought of MIT linguist, Dan (Moonhawk) Alford in speaking of the ‘Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis’;


“What are these academics so afraid of that they can’t face and contemplate and answer student’s questions about Whorf’s actual text? Why the smoke and mirrors? I suspect that they fear, and rightly so, that the entire Western worldview — logic, reason, science, philosophy, categories — the entire ‘civilization’ enterprise of which academia is a part, in fact, is at stake; or at least the superior attitude that often accompanies it. It may be a fear that what we’re culturally heir to is ‘just another worldview and its langscapes’ rather than exemplifying, as we tend to want to believe, eternal and universal human logic, which we’re simply ‘better at’ than people who speak other languages outside of the Indo-European language family. As John Lucy says, relativity “challenges assumptions which lie at the heart of much modern social and behavior research — namely its claim to be discovering general laws and to be truly scientific.” – Dan (Moonhawk) Alford, MIT


That just about brings to a finish this Worldviews and Words guided tour.   My experience has been that Western education does not open the door to inquiry grounded in ‘relationality’; the understanding that relations are the basis of things rather than things being the basis of relations.


In an ecosystem such as the food-web shown on the tour, … in order to see what is ‘really’ going on, one would have to observe/experience the overall relational transformation without being distracted by one of the forms itself.  If one can do this, one remains ‘in the continually unfolding now’ of relational transformation, but once one gets distracted by a single form, as Narcissus supposedly did, by looking in a mirror-reflection in a quiet pool, then one’s successive observations give the impression that the form is changing ‘over time’ [‘time’ is the gap between one’s past, present and future observations].   Of course, we err in imputing persisting identity to the form as a thing-in-itself, since the web of relations that the thing is included in [that ‘is’ the thing] is like a river of change that is changing in simultaneous relation with the forms gathering and regathering in the river.


“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus


Heraclitus’ statement captures the essence of relational space [the world given only once as a transforming relational continuum that is gathering and regathering relational forms within it].  That is, it portrays all forms as inhabitant-habitat non-dualities as is also the findings of modern physics as captured in Mach’s principle;


“The dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants” – Mach’s principle


To get ‘out of step’ because one is employing a semantic reality as operative reality is to generate ‘incoherence’ in Bohm’s terms, which manifests as ‘externalities’ or ‘side-effects’ that associate with ones actions that are believed to be as depicted in the semantic reality that one is employing as operative reality, but are in actuality, interventions into the transforming relational continuum.


* * *


Conclusion: You can and will draw your own conclusions [or not bother to draw any, as the case may be] but I strongly doubt that you will find anything grossly in error in what has been said here.  The major ‘issue’ is whether one can bring oneself to suspend one’s belief in ‘being’ and ‘time’ which is our Western society’s default framework for sharing our observations and experiences, and to embrace, in its place, the timeless world of transforming relations [the only world that pre-literates know], which makes us, as Emerson says, ‘vents’ that transmit influences from the vast and universal nonlocal to the local;


“Whilst a necessity so great caused the man to exist, his health and erectness consist in the fidelity with which he transmits influences from the vast and universal to the point on which his genius can act. The ends are momentary: they are vents for the current of inward life which increases as it is spent. A man’s wisdom is to know that all ends are momentary, that the best end must be superseded by a better. But there is a mischievous tendency in him to transfer his thought from the life to the ends, to quit his agency and rest in his acts: the tools run away with the workman, the human with the divine. I conceive a man as always spoken to from behind, and unable to turn his head and see the speaker. In all the millions who have heard the voice, none ever saw the face. As children in their play run behind each other, and seize one by the ears and make him walk before them, so is the spirit our unseen pilot. That well-known voice speaks in all languages, governs all men, and none ever caught a glimpse of its form. If the man will exactly obey it, it will adopt him, so that he shall not any longer separate it from himself in his thought, he shall seem to be it, he shall be it. If he listen with insatiable ears, richer and greater wisdom is taught him, the sound swells to a ravishing music, he is borne away as with a flood, he becomes careless of his food and of his house, he is the fool of ideas, and leads a heavenly life. But if his eye is set on the things to be done, and not on the truth that is still taught, and for the sake of which the things are to be done, then the voice grows faint, and at last is but a humming in his ears. His health and greatness consist in his being the channel through which heaven flows to earth, in short, in the fulness in which an ecstatical state takes place in him. It is pitiful to be an artist, when, by forbearing to be artists, we might be vessels filled with the divine overflowings, enriched by the circulations of omniscience and omnipresence. Are there not moments in the history of heaven when the human race was not counted by individuals, but was only the Influenced, was God in distribution, God rushing into multiform benefit? It is sublime to receive, sublime to love, but this lust of imparting as from _us_, this desire to be loved, the wish to be recognized as individuals, — is finite, comes of a lower strain.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The Method of Nature’