A Nietzschean View on Climate Change
Nietzsche’s view is that there is no objective truth or objective reality ‘out there’. The physical reality of our actual experience is the sole source of truth, and that is why we need to share our experiences with one another, as is the indigenous aboriginal tradition of the ‘learning circle’, in order to holistically ‘image’ the world dynamic [in which everything is in flux (panta rhei) as in a transforming relational continuum] that we all share inclusion in.
In general, field and matter are a nonduality wherein epigenetic influence inductively actualizes genetic expression. This is our ‘physically experienced intuitive reality’ (PEIR).
In order to get some talking traction, we use noun-and-verb language to synthetically break this relational continuum down into pieces based on observed relational forms. This gives us a ‘semantically constructed scientific reality’ (SCSR).
Because it was a ‘being’-based (noun-and-verb) language that was popularized in Western culture, this put the Apollonian cart before the Dionysian horse and made us a scientific, reasoning culture that put emotions and intuition second.
“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’
In the SCSR scientific reality, we take sets of measurements which we impute ‘being’ and ‘genetic agency’ to so that we can do an alternative construction of genetic expression that is notionally sourced by independent things-in-themselves with their own genetic agency, thus ‘getting rid of’ epigenetic influence as the real source, since that doesn’t agree with our Western religious traditions and our ego-based view of our ourselves as ‘independent things-in-ourselves with free will and our own genetic agency who are fully and solely causally responsible for our own actions and deeds.
‘Climate’ is a set of measurements. It is not a ‘real thing-in-itself’ with ‘causal agency to change the planet, although it is depicted this way in ‘semantically constructed scientific reality’. ‘Climate’ is a spook. Sure, we experience transformation in environmental/epigenetic influences, but as Nietzsche says, there is no need to presume causal authorship, … not in a transforming relational continuum. It’s like rebellion, there’s no need to invent ‘rebels’ as the source of rebellion. Rebellion is inductively actualized by tensions in the relational dynamics of community. It is, as Heraclitus says, a unity in opposition with itself, like the tensioned lyre and the bow, … whose tensions can be resolved by restoring balance and cultivating harmonies [a form of restorative justice].
Scientific culture is always looking for causal agents to explain things inside of ‘semantically constructed scientific reality’ (SCSR). ‘Climate’ is a word-name-identity just like ‘Katrina’ or ‘hurricane’ is a word-name-identity. These can be backed up with a set of measurements which we can continually redo and plot and graph but which in no way proves the existence of a local independent thing-in-itself with causal (genetic) agency. But as Ernst Mach says, using language this way is convenient and it delivers economy of thought which is what scientific reality construction is all about [See Mach’s ‘Science of Mechanics’, Ch. IV ‘The Economy of Science’].
What we are dealing with here is a general ‘language game’ approach that we call ‘science’. Our experience is of our inclusion in relational transformation but we use language to reduce this to dualist, being-based terms of ‘things’ and ‘what things do’. What are the rebels going to do next? If we stop suspected rebels and interview them often enough, … we may get more rebels and our feared ‘dire warnings and predictions’ that there are a lot of them among us may come true. It’s almost as if they are coming out of the woodwork! [They are. Relational tensions as give rise to rebellion manifest through people, they do not originate from people].
‘Climate’ can grow ‘warmer’ just like ‘Katrina’ can grow stronger. There is no-thing there that is doing the growing or warming, other than a set of measurements that can be taken repeatedly and plotted and graphed repeatedly. In the case of Katrina, we have a persisting form, but there are persisting forms like whirlpools in the bend of a river that seem to ‘grow larger and stronger’, then ‘smaller and weaker’, … but everything is in flux and nothing is stationary or persisting, except the form.
While we can back up the pattern of changing measurements that is Katrina with a persisting form that oscillates between larger-and-stronger and smaller-and-weaker, there is no directly visible form associated with ‘climate’ since it is a statistical average of ‘weather’ and thus ‘solar irradiance’, ‘precipitation’ and ‘winds’ are merely implied in the long term ‘temperature’ averages used as a proxy for ‘climate change’.
This is what semantic construction can do for us. We create an author of influence, of genetic agency, so as to causally explain some result such as the damage arising in rebellion. Once the rebel is invented and this name and identity associated with a particular human form, science declares that this newly named form is causally responsible for the deaths, injuries and destruction associated with a rebellion. This is the power of language in shaping reality, as in semantically constructed scientific reality (SCSR).
A similar incongruity appears in biological science’s approach of trying to explain the growth of plants, depicted by science as independent things-in-themselves with their own rational purpose driven actions and deeds. In the case of humans, science could point to the brain and central nervous system as the fountainhead of drive and direction that is shaping actions and deeds. [Science does not acknowledge epigenetic influence. Lamarck proposed it but Darwinism trumped the Lamarckian view].
So, even though science can’t say where the seat of rational purpose lies within plants, it continues to infuse into the heads of children and university students, the idea that plants are independent things (biological systems) –in-themselves that are fully and solely causally responsible for their own actions and accomplishments. The following are points made by biological scientists in a David Suzuki ‘Nature of Things’ presentation entitled ‘Smarty Plants’;
“• Did you know that all plants forage for food in much the same way as a bear or a squirrel?
- Did you know that plants, like animals, can sense when they’re under attack and can actually defend themselves?
- Did you know that some plants can “tag” insects for predation?
- Did you know that the roots of an Eastern European invader called Spotted Knapweed can capture and hold territory by waging chemical war on other plants?
- Did you know that a plant that grows on the shores of the Great Lakes can identify its relatives and even help them out?
- Did you know that some plants can tell which insect is eating it by the chemicals in the insect’s saliva?
- Did you know that plants emit a chemical scream for help when they’re under stress, and that other plants can listen in on their SOS messages?
- Did you know that “mother” trees can actually nurture their young?
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The pattern is, once again, as with storms, humans, and now plants, that phenomena that could be explained in a manner consistent with modern physics field-matter nonduality, whereby “epigenetic influence is inductively actualizing genetic expression”, are instead explained within a semantically constructed scientific reality (SCSR), a synthetic reality wherein scientists must identify ‘causal agents’ with ‘their own genetic agency’ as being responsible for ‘genetic expression’.
Consider the development of an ecosystem. The symmetry of field-matter nonduality of modern physics suggests ‘relations’ are in a natural primacy over ‘material things’. By starting with material things such as individual plants seen as independent things-in-themselves, we are forced to impute to them ‘intelligence’ to explain the very complex mutually supporting behaviours in an ecosystem. It would be so much simpler to understand ecosystems in terms of ‘relations’ being in a natural primacy over ‘things’. In this way, confluences of relational influences would form niches that inductively actualized the emergence, orchestration and shaping of ecosystem members. Why not put ‘relations’ before ‘things’ as Lamarck did? Modern physics ‘affirms it’;
“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
Again, … if science were to accept epigenetic influence as the inductive actualizing source of genetic expression [as in Lamarckism], then it would follow, that the ‘relational influences’ come first in the development of an ecosystem and the local, visible, tangible forms [the genetic expression] are inductively actualized by the ecosystemic influences. This is consistent with field-matter nonduality.
Lamarckism answers a lot of questions that are unanswered in Darwinism; e.g. when environmental conditions change and an ecosystem member disappears, a new ‘ecological equivalent’ member may form within the ‘vacated niche’. In many insect families, there are sterile forms that persist and continue to evolve in a useful way, although they, themselves, do not reproduce, suggesting that the epigenetic inductive influence (field) is the primary animator of evolution and genetic expression via reproduction is secondary. Evidence is mounting in support of this symmetry in nature generally. Here are three examples;
1. Cell research shows that ‘genes’ do not have their own ‘genetic agency’ as formerly assumed;
“As is described by Nijhout, genes are “not self-emergent,” that is genes can not turn themselves on or off. If genes can’t control their own expression, how can they control the behavior of the cell? Nijhout further emphasizes that genes are regulated by “environmental signals.” Consequently, it is the environment that controls gene expression. Rather than endorsing the Primacy of DNA, we must acknowledge the Primacy of the Environment!” —Bruce Lipton, ‘The New Biology’
2. Experiments in research into the evolution of microbial communities points to ‘epigenetic influence’ as the primary evolutionary influence with ‘genetic expression’ being a secondary phenomenon.
“It is normally assumed that the recombination of genes generates innovation and that this innovation is then judged as useful or not through natural selection. Genetic information presumably serves as a blueprint that controls the features of organisms and their communities. However, studies of bacterial associations in continuous culture suggest that innovation also flows in the reverse direction, from the structure of the community to the structure of the nucleic acid. In this situation, it may be the structure and architecture of the community that serves the initial blueprint.” — ‘Cultivation of Microbial Consortia and Communities by Douglas E. Caldwell, Gideon M. Wolfaardt, Darren R. Korber, Subramanian Karthikeyan, John R. Lawrence, and Daniel K. Brannan, Manual of Environmental Microbiology
3. Bootstrapping comes from physics as new form of ‘science’ for understanding the world “which does away with all foundations and conceives of things in terms of a relational web or network, in which no part is more fundamental than any other part”.
“The whole idea of science is, in a sense, in conflict with the bootstrap approach, because science wants questions which are clearly stated and which can have unambiguous experimental verification. Part of the bootstrap scheme, however, is that no concepts are regarded as absolute and you are always expecting to find weaknesses in your old concepts. We are constantly downgrading concepts that in the recent past would have been considered fundamental and would have been used as the language for questions.
[Geoffrey Chew]: “when you formulate a question, you have to have some basic concepts that you are accepting in order to formulate the question. But in the bootstrap approach, where the whole system represents a network of relationships without any firm foundation, the description of our subject can be begun at a great variety of different places. There isn’t any clear starting point. And the way our theory has developed in the last few years, we quite typically don’t know what questions to ask. We use consistency as the guide, and each increase in the consistency suggests something that is incomplete, but it rarely takes the form of a wel-ldefined question. We are going beyond the whole questionandanswer framework.”
This essay is derived from the bootstrap approach.
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Epigenetics a la ‘Lamarckism’ (field-matter nonduality) is ‘coming on’. It is implicit in the Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings such as the essay ‘The Method of Nature’. A recent study of Emerson’s ‘English Traits’ and the role of metaphor in language by David LaRocca [Emerson’s English Traits and the Natural History of Metaphor] is relevant to ‘problems with Darwinism’ and ‘answers in Lamarckism’. The following excerpt suggests to me that the relation between the French and English, and also Lamarckism and Darwinism, are akin to the relation between Dionysian and the Apollonian; i.e. it begs to be understood as a nonduality.
This excerpt is a bit long to put in the body of this essay but hopefully not so long that it breaks the train of thought, or better, the building of coherence and consistency. The excerpt concerns the ‘heretical’ nature of epigenetics. This is a problem for biological science (as it is) since it concerns foundational structure and symmetry as I have been discussing it above; i.e. whether the animating influence is primarily epigenetic or genetic.
This question has already been answered in modern physics [epigenetic influence is primary and genetic agency is ‘appearance’] but it has not been assimilated in the science of biology since Darwinism is like ‘the Gospel’ of biology, and in that Gospel, genetic agency within the form seen as an independent biological system-in-itself, is the deemed the animating source of the system’s development and evolution. The excerpt starts with the modern finding that heritable traits can be acquired within an individual’s lifetime;
Hence a genetic bestowal can be revealed differently depending on the conditions and actions of the inheritor – and in turn those circumstances and behaviours may become coded in the genes. This is remarkable and Lamarckian.
Yet, two centuries after Lamarck’s lectures drew crowds, and in the wake of the long dominance of Darwinian theory that eclipsed Lamarck’s popularity, aspects of Lamarck’s notions – as featured in epigenetic research – have become ‘deeply heretical’ for some evolutionary scientists. Or one might say, more generously, but also more warily, ‘this is not the part of Lamarckism that most scientists subscribe to’. But does this rogue part of Lamarckism – when the metaphorical becomes literalized, this when the genotype has been affected in the lifespan of a single specimen and achieves heritable transmission to offspring – tempt us to believe in, or to seek scientific proof for, these moments of evolutionary impact?
To what extent does epigenetics intimate and invite – if not yet, or perhaps ever prove definitively – our conceptual shift from image and trope to chemical and physical property? That is, when the meme and the gene are truly empirical siblings, when the genome and the epigenome are part of an undeniable continuum?
The dawning impact of epigenetics may also stimulate interest in the environmental conditions in which science is formulated. Could it be that in Darwin we find an English approach to genetics and inheritance, and in Lamarck a French way?
… One could not, for example, extrapolate from differences between Darwin and Lamarck to differences in the respective genomes of the English and French. If the data would suggest it, then perhaps one could discern contrasts in English and French modes of global colonization: where the English separate and quarantine within their sites of conquest (bringing England with them to jungle and desert), the French integrate and blend into their conquered territories. Emerson writes of the ‘unaccommodating manners’ of the English, and their ‘puissant nationality which makes their existence incompatible with all that is not English’. But even setting aside these unempirical, heretical hunches, the science of epigenetics is poised to radically reorient our inherited notions of evolutionary theory. If we are not forced to choose between Darwinism and Lamarckism, but rather encouraged to find in the union of their distinctive – yet complementary – theoretical traits, we may possess a dialectically enriched view of genetic characteristics, both acquired in the blood and re-made through intentions, actions and the unseen bonds of culture. If it comes to term, this theory might be called their offspring.”
This ‘offspring’ between Lamarckism and Darwinism or epigenetics and genetics is something that appeared in my studies of ‘exceptionally performing teams’. Initially the team was ‘normal’ and the members of the team were like ‘genes’ in that they were causally responsible for the actions and accomplishments of the team. When they went into exceptional mode, they discarded all hierarchical position designations and let their identity float so that their internal activities were inductively actualized by the matrix of ‘teams’ (families, host community, customers, suppliers, service support) in which they were included.
If we want to use the French and English metaphor here, it would be that the animating influence was ‘seduction’ of the team members by opportunities to fill needs in the relational matrix of teams in which they were included. But of course it is still possible to consider the team members to be ‘doing their duty’ to God and the Queen (aka ‘upper management). When I shared the relational structure of this team which had demonstrated amazing performance results with management, they wanted to know which team members were most responsible for the performance surge. They made their own guesses and promoted their favourites and that was the end of the exceptionally performing team because the new teams they tried to clone returned to the old ‘doing their duty to God and the Queen’ mode of teamwork. That many people ‘don’t get it’ is because many people undertake ‘work’ in an Apollonian [Darwinian] rather than Dionysian [Lamarckian] way.
The point is that one could ‘measure the team’s performance’ by measuring each member’s actions and accomplishments and adding up their contributions which will indeed ‘explain everything that physically transpired’. In order to see the ‘revolutionary difference’ in the team, one has to look at the matrix of teams that the ‘exceptionally performing’ team is included in, and tune in to the epigenetic-genetic nonduality or what might be termed an adaptive reshaping of the niche from both sides at once [the fluidizing of self-other relations in the matrix of teams]. The approach of the exceptionally performing team is very different from the ‘survival of the fittest’ approach suggested by Darwinian evolution. Instead of first creating a new version of the organism and seeing how well adapted it is in its environment, it lets itself be inductively reshaped by its environment to create a better niche-fit.
In the rebel example, what if we were measuring the accomplishments of a band of rebels; i.e. we could measure each rebel’s actions and accomplishments and adding up their contributions which will indeed ‘explain everything that physically transpired’, yet without any sign of epigenetic influence that inductively actualized the rebel actions.
Science is about measurements and it opts to measure ‘what things do’ as if in a fixed absolute space and absolute time measuring/reference frame. Relational tensions inductively actualize the actions of people referred to as ‘rebels’ but the tensions are potential energy build-ups that are, like all relational influences, non-local, non-visible and non-material; … kind of like a build-up of electrical charges creating high tensions that can discharge through your finger as you reach out to another person. The violent energy is venting through your finger but measurement-wise, your finger and the rebel are the authors of the damaging actions and results.
It is an accounting error akin to the one in baseball where the mafia pays off a top-of-the-league [baseball team so that its fielders will be very accommodating to the opposing [longshot, bottom of the league] team’s hitters. Since science can’t directly, separately, measure the accommodating influence of the fielding, it is intuition that must intervene, but intuition is too loosey-goosey for science, and science needs measurements or ‘facts’. Intuition says that monopolization of property and access to essential resources induces rebellion, but that would imply that the whole community should take responsibility rather than just going after the ‘rebels’. No Western court of law is going to put the whole community on trial together with the ‘rebel’ but that is what is done in the indigenous aboriginal restorative justice approach.
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IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER
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it is hard to keep relational understanding in one’s ‘head’ after being conditioned from birth to think in analytical terms of breaking things down into separate ‘systems-in-themselves’, notionally with their own genetic agency.
The world is only given once, as a transforming relational continuum wherein everything is evolving under the influence of everything [fields, such as gravity and electromagnetism are ‘everywhere at the same time’, and this plays out in terms of ‘things’ as follows;
“[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
The notion of the ‘causal agent’; i.e. the separate and independent ‘thing/system-in-itself with its own local genetic agency such as ‘the storm’ or ‘the rebel’ is a ‘convenient’, ‘economy of thought’ that departs radically from the physical reality of our actual relational experience.
In physically experienced intuitive reality (PEIR), the sailboater in the storm draws his power and steerage from the storm and the storm draws its power and steerage from the entire atmosphere, oceanosphere, solar system and beyond in an inclusionally nesting transforming relational continuum [“every system is included in a relational suprasystem” (– systems sciences pioneer, Russell Ackoff)], whereas in semantically constructed scientific reality (SCSR), we break things up notionally (semantically), for convenience and economy of thought, into independent ‘things’ and ‘forces’ as with ‘storms’ and ‘rebels’, making them appear to have their own powers of ‘genetic agency’. This is where ‘epigenetic influence ‘disappears’ and is replaced by ‘genetic agency’, all by by semantic contrivance. In other words, there is where nonduality disappears and is replaced by being-based duality]
THE IMPORTANT POINT TO REMEMBER is that our physically experienced intuitive reality (PEIR) is constituted by the world given as one thing, as a transforming-in-the-now relational continuum in which we are included; i.e. as an inhabitant-habitat nonduality. On the other hand, our semantically constructed scientific reality (SCSR) uses noun-and-verb constructs to RE-present the world in terms of local causal agents, notional things/systems-in-themselves with their with their own genetic agency as with ‘storms’ and ‘rebels’.
- inventing the word ‘climate’ to serve as a notional ‘thing-in-itself’ with its own ‘genetic agency’ that is deemed the source of time-based variations in measurement sets such as global average surface temperatures. The mistake is not in inventing this simplifying ‘go-by’, but in confusing it for ‘the real deal’ and employing it as our ‘operative reality’ to guide and shape our ‘actions’.
- inventing the word ‘humanity’ to serve as a notional ‘thing-in-itself’ with its own ‘genetic agency’ that is the source of another ‘thing-in-itself’, the ‘industrial revolution’ which is purported to be the causal agency that is inflicting destructive action on the habitat by ‘pollution’, depletion of non-renewable resources etc. The mistake is not in inventing this simplifying narrative but in confusing it for ‘reality’ and employing it as our ‘operative reality’ to guide and shape our ‘actions’. [The physical reality of our actual experience is inclusion within the transforming relational continuum].
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END OF (those) IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER
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Ok, where are we now? We are saying that the world is given only once as a transforming relational continuum but that we have found it convenient to ‘blame’ the sourcing of dynamics on local ‘causal agents’ and this technique goes by the name ‘science’ or ‘reason’. The landscape is rapidly changing and in order to explain ‘why’, we come up with explanations like ‘humans are changing it’. This is dualism which uses semantic contrivance [language operating on thought] to depict ‘humans’ as ‘things-in themselves’, splitting them out of the habitat and endowing them with ‘their own causal agency’, as was Western religious tradition and continues on in Western science;
“Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts.
1731 Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.
1732 As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach.” – Vatican Archives, The Catholic Catechism.
Instead of acknowledging inhabitant-habitat nonduality as in the modern physics view [and as in Eastern and indigenous aboriginal belief traditions], dualist Western religion and dualist Western science split humans out of the habitat and endow them with their own God-like powers of local genetic agency, the power of jumpstart sourcing of actions [as in Newton’s force and mass based laws of motion].
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If it hasn’t sunk in, …yes, I really am saying that ‘climate’ and ‘humanity’ depicted as ‘things-in-themselves’, causal agents with ‘their own’ ‘genetic agency’ are a scam, … a semantic contrivance, .. as has been pointed out by Nietzsche;
“That which gives the extraordinary firmness to our belief in causality …. is belief that every event is a deed, that every deed presupposes a doer, it is belief in the “subject.” Is this belief in the concept of subject and predicate not a great stupidity?” … “Indeed, nothing has yet possessed a more naive power of persuasion than the error concerning being, as it has been formulated by the Eleatics, for example. After all, every word and every sentence we say speak in its favor. Even the opponents of the Eleatics still succumbed to the seduction of their concept of being: Democritus, among others, when he invented his atom. “Reason” in language — oh, what an old deceptive witch she is! I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’
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TRUTH AND REALITY
Moving along in this ‘Nietzschean View of Climate Change, … we enter into the topic of ‘truth’ and reality as pertains to the division of views on the anthropogenic influence on ‘climate change’ aka ‘anthropogenic global warming’ (AGW).
If one agrees that the human observer is included in the world system that one is observing, it follows that there can be no ‘objective reality out there’ that is common to all since we are all bound into the transforming relational continuum in a unique, situationally included manner. Our individual experience can be expected to differ from anyone else’s and this becomes the sole source of ‘truth’ as in the indigenous aboriginal tradition, which leads to the ‘learning circle’ wherein individual experience-based truth is respected and shared in an important ritual practice (‘circles’)and there is no attempt to boil everything down into one semantically constructed ‘objective reality’.
As you can likely see, since I am saying that ‘climate’ and ‘humanity’ are just ‘words’ and not really ‘things-in-themselves with their own genetic agency’, I am not likely to be supporting the ‘truth’ of such claims as ‘human-caused climate change’. But it would be useful and possibly insightful to follow through and better understand how such popular beliefs develop.
Nietzsche, and other modern philosophers are of the opinion that;
‘Objective truth’ does not mean ‘in touch with reality’, but instead means ‘in consensus with other inquirers’.
So, when we see a majority of scientists agreeing with a particular hypothesis, this does not affirm the truth of the hypothesis but simply affirms that the people who agree have the same way of thinking about things. Alexis Papazoglou nicely summarizes Nietzsche’s clear-thinking on this topic in an article entitled ‘The post-truth era of Trump is just what Nietzsche predicted’, an excerpt from which is as follows;
“As Nietzsche saw it, once we realise that the idea of an absolute, objective truth is a philosophical hoax, the only alternative is a position called “perspectivism” – the idea there is no one objective way the world is, only perspectives on what the world is like. … according to perspectivism, we agree on … things not because these propositions are “objectively true,” but by virtue of sharing the same perspective. When it comes to basic matters, sharing a perspective on the truth is easy – but when it comes to issues such as morality, religion and politics, agreement is much harder to achieve. People occupy different perspectives, seeing the world and themselves in radically different ways. These perspectives are each shaped by the biases, the desires and the interests of those who hold them; they can vary wildly, and therefore so can the way people see the world.”
“For Nietzsche, each perspective on the world will have certain things it assumes are non-negotiable – “facts” or “truths” if you like. Pointing to them won’t have much of an effect in changing the opinion of someone who occupies a different perspective.”
“A core tenet of Enlightenment thought was that our shared humanity, or a shared faculty called reason, could serve as an antidote to differences of opinion, a common ground that can function as the arbiter of different perspectives. Of course people disagree, but, the idea goes, through reason and argument they can come to see the truth. Nietzsche’s philosophy, however, claims such ideals are philosophical illusions, wishful thinking, or at worst a covert way of imposing one’s own view on everyone else under the pretense of rationality and truth”.
Even if he was right that all we have to go by are our different perspectives on the world, he didn’t mean to imply we are doomed to live within the limits of our own biases. In fact, Nietzsche suggests that the more perspectives we are aware of, the better we can be at reaching a watered-down objective view of things.
At the end of his 1887 book On the Genealogy of Morality, he writes:
“The more eyes, different eyes, we know how to bring to bear on one and the same matter, that much more complete will our ‘concept’ of this matter, our ‘objectivity’ be.”
– Alexis Papazoglou, Royal Holloway University of London
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IMPORTANT POINT TO REMEMBER
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it is difficult to keep in mind that ‘there is no objective truth’ ;i.e. it is difficult for us who have been educated from infancy with the belief there is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and ‘true’ and ‘false’ and that these are for certain.
So, when it comes to the debates over ‘climate change’, and two opposing factions emerge, one of which says; ‘humans are responsible for this current ‘accelerated’ climatic warming, and the other that says, ‘no, it is just nature doing its thing’, … one tends to overlook what is really a ‘third’ opinion, and that is that it is impossible to split out the contribution of humanity to the changing climate in view of inhabitant-habitat nonduality.
“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
The impossibility of splitting out the contribution of ‘humanity’ [don’t forget, humanity is just a word that already implies a splitting out] is also given by the finding that weather is subject to ‘chaos theory’ which means that it is impossible to predict because of the ‘butterfly effect’. Notice that ‘nonlinear dynamics’ or ‘chaos theory’ is set apart from mainstream ‘linear’ science’ since it addresses very different, relationally complex phenomena such as avalanches and earthquakes and self-organized criticality. Even in simple cases such as the movement of a double pendulum [with a lower pendulum hanging from the bottom of an upper pendulum], it is impossible to predict this simple, yet relationally complex motion. The study of long term averages of weather does not manage to get by this. Statistics is just an averaging tool, it does not have magic powers. The following objection to predicting ‘humanity’s’ contribution to climate change ‘makes sense’ but it did not become popular.
In addition to natural climate variability, Rossby himself was well aware of the possible impact of anthropogenic doubling of CO2 on climate. However, Rossby treated simple estimates of global warming with caution, precisely because the atmosphere behaves nonlinearly. He said, “Quite recently, G. N. Plass calculated that . . . a doubling of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to a mean air temperature increase of about 3.6°C. . . . It is almost certain that these figures will be subjected to many strong revisions, depending mainly on the fact that those complicated processes which finally determine the mean temperature of the atmosphere cannot be dealt with as independent additive phenomena” (Rossby 1959).
Rossby is saying that this problem of identifying ‘causal agents’ that contribute to climate change is not the linear sum of multiple contributors. How could it be if given the ‘butterfly effect’ of ‘chaos theory’ aka ‘sensitive dependence on initial conditions’.
Recall the scientific models trying to predict the movement of hurricane Irma on its approach to Florida in September, 2017. The European weather simulator [ECMWF] is evidently more accurate than its American counterpart (GFS) and is said to include more middle and upper atmosphere data. Here we have two rival scientific prediction systems putting out predictions in terms of notional ‘things-in-themselves’ [storms] and ‘what they are going to do’, based on ‘initial conditions’ which can never be fully complete since we cannot possibly measure everything everywhere.
BUT WAIT A MINUTE. This disagreement between rival groups of scientists and their different ‘predictions’ is a red herring because what is really going on is ‘relational transformation’. Recall how all things influence all in the world given as a transforming relational continuum?
SCIENCE WORKS INSIDE OF A SEMANTICALLY CONSTRUCTED SCIENTIFIC REALITY featuring the works of ‘causal agents’, … notional ‘independently-existing things/systems-in-themselves that are deemed fully and solely causally responsible for their own actions and accomplishments.
SCIENTISTS TRYING TO ANTICIPATE THE MOVEMENTS OF REBEL GROUPS MAY COME UP WITH CONFLICTING PREDICTIONS but this is a red herring because the bigger picture of rebellion is in terms of a unity-pulling-against itself where epigenetic influence associated with relational tensions is inductively actualizing ‘genetic expression’ (rebellion in this case). “It takes a whole community to raise a rebel”. Relational transformational phenomena cannot be reduced to terms of independent causal agents and their genetic agency driven actions and results.
Colonizers will use scientific thinking to reason that they employed their own causal agency to construct a wonderful new world in North America while colonized indigenous people will argue that colonizers destroyed a wonderful established world on Turtle Island. Traditionalist native elders would say both of these are wrong since ‘construction’ and ‘destruction’ are ‘being’-based concepts which don’t exist in the physical reality of our actual experience. It is impossible to construct something without destroying what is already there. Relational transformation is the physically experienced intuitive reality (PEIR).
SCIENCE ONLY SOLVES PROBLEMS INSIDE OF A SEMANTICALLY CONSTRUCTED SCIENTIFIC REALITY (SCSR). The semantically contrived ‘reality’ of science is nothing like the physically experienced intuitive reality (PEIR) of the transforming relational continuum.
What are some of the differences between intuitive reality and scientific reality? For one thing, intuitive reality informs us that when people are pushed around and humiliated, marginalized and denied a natural life by colonizers who are controlling the common living space, tensions will build over time that may give rise to violent energy releases accompanied by ‘reconfiguration’ to a new relational configuration that will be less tensioned. This is characteristic of nature’s dynamic and is seen in earthquake and avalanche and other ‘self-organized criticality’ phenomena.
Science and reason do not ‘intuit’ that rebellion is inductively actualized because science models phenomena in terms of implied ‘causal agents’ notionally with their own ‘genetic agency’ that are responsible for ‘genetic expression’. Science semantically (conceptually) reduces nature’s dynamics to locally originating events and makes the (unjustified) assumption that ‘the present depends only on the immediate past’. Therefore, science looks at those individuals involved in ‘rebellion’ [whose behaviours are inductively actualized] as local causal agents who are locally authoring, by their own genetic agency, destructive actions and deeds. This assumption removes from scientific inquiry, ‘epigenetic influence’ and substitutes notional ‘causal agents’, notionally with their own locally incipient ‘genetic agency’ giving an inverted non-epigenetic view of the sourcing of ‘genetic expression’. As Poincaré describes this reduction to locally incipient causal responsibility;
“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”
The semantically constructed world of things that are causal agents with their own genetic agency that are responsible for unfolding ‘genetic expression’ is a SYNTHETIC REALITY, that divides mathematicians and scientists on the question of its ‘reality’. Poincaré refers to those [logicians] who take this semantically constructed scientific reality (SCSR) to be ‘real’ as ‘Cantorian realists’ [these issues crop up in logic and set theory] and the ‘intuitives’ who regard scientific reality as ‘pragmatic idealization’ [not to be confused with the physical reality of our actual experience] as ‘pragmatist idealists’.
Poincaré has the following to say about this ‘divide’ in his ‘Dernières Pensées’, Ch. V, ‘Les Mathematiques et la Logique’;
“At all times, there have been opposite tendencies in philosophy and it does not seem that these tendencies are on the verge of being reconciled. It is no doubt because there are different souls and that we cannot change anything in these souls. There is therefore no hope of seeing harmony established between the pragmatists and the Cantorians. Men do not agree because they do not speak the same language, and there are, Languages which cannot be learned.
And yet in mathematics men ordinarily understand one another; but it is due precisely to what I have called proofs. These proofs pass judgment without appeal and before them the entire world bows. But wherever these proofs are lacking, mathematicians are no better off than simple philosophers. When it is necessary to know if a theorem can have meaning without being capable of proof, who can judge, since by definition we forbid ourselves to prove it ?
There would be no other resource but to corner one’s adversary with a contradiction. But the experiment has been attempted and it has not succeeded. Many antinomies have been pointed out, and the discord has remained; no one has been convinced. It is always possible to extricate oneself from a contradiction by a change of arguments ; I mean by a distinguo.” — Henri Poincaré
The point is that it is not possible for science to ‘prove’ that epigenetic influence inductively actualizes genetic expression, … because science can only prove what it can measure. As mentioned earlier, if the mafia gets into major league baseball and pays off a top team so that their fielding will be very accommodating to the hitters of a long-shot bottom of the league team, then that latter’s hitting results will soar and they will do the unexpected and the bookies will have to pay out long odds to those who bet on the long shot. Since it is not possible to separate out the influence of ‘fielding’ on ‘hitting’ (they are dual aspects of a single physical dynamic). Those wanting to prove fraud will need to do some wire-tapping or find some ‘stool pigeons’.
Forensic science has no problem in ‘proving’ that ‘the rebel shot the policeman’ and in Western moral judgement based retributive justice, such witness testimony is ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. This is what Tolstoy reacted to in the case of peasant revolts against land monopolizing elites who were starving the peasants and extracting slave-labours from them; i.e. the revolt was the ‘genetic expression’ that was inductively actualized by epigenetic influence, however, ‘science’ and ‘reason’ makes use of a semantically constructed scientific reality (SCSR) which interprets genetic expression as resulting from ‘causal agents with their own genetic agency’ which are fully and solely responsible for their own actions and deeds. Case closed. The rebelling peasants are the full and sole causal source of the rebellion. That’s what ‘makes sense’ in semantically constructed scientific reality (SCSR).
SCIENTIFIC REALITY CANNOT SEE EPIGENETIC INFLUENCE AS THE SOURCE OF GENETIC EXPRESSION. In an indigenous aboriginal community, the understanding is that the community is an interdependent relational matrix so that “it takes a whole community to raise a rebel” so the community takes responsible for outbreaks of rebellion and the solution is not to blame and punish the person through whom the relational tensions are ‘venting’ but to restore relational balance and harmony in the community by transforming relations in the relational social matrix (web-of-life), particularly around those most impacted, which in English and SCSR would be called ‘offender’ and ‘victim’. Such terms are inappropriate in PEIR since intuition says that dysfunction in the relational dynamics of the community is the source of disturbance. The actions of an alienated youth who goes on a killing spree are not driven by his own internal genetic agency; alienation and marginalization are epigenetic influences that inductively actual violent outbursts.
SCIENCE SOLVES PROBLEMS WITHIN SCIENTIFIC REALITY which is very different from PHYSICALLY EXPERIENCED INTUITIVE REALITY; e.g. in the former the ‘rebel’ is the genetic agency-driven source of rebellion and in the latter, ‘relational tensions’ in the community are the inductive actualizing source of rebellion.
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SOME IMPORTANT CLARIFYING POINTS
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1. According to modern physics and to indigenous aboriginal understanding, which Western society seems to have ‘set aside’ in favour of ‘scientific reality’, we are all included in a transforming relational continuum. 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 …” –Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’, 1067
2. Humans, according to 1., are relational forms in the flowing unum/plenum. They are ‘inhabitants’ in the sense of an inhabitant-habitat nonduality like the storm-in-flow nonduality. As such we humans are ‘agents of transformation’ and not, as science insists, ‘doers of deeds’. Emerson captures this dualist pitfall as follows;
“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. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The Method of Nature’
By ‘the divine’, Emerson is referring to the fact that ‘field’ which is like the invisible ‘spiritual world’ underlies the material world and tends to be ignored as our science and reason has us focusing exclusively on material dynamics as captured in semantically constructed scientific narratives.
3. Our sense of ‘independence’ and ‘free will’ is synthetically enhanced by our semantic constructions which portray us as being causal agents with our own genetic agency who ‘produce wheat’ and the like. Of course, we are more like sailboaters who derive our drive and direction from the relational dynamics we are included in. Our ‘intelligence’ is, in this case, more like ‘brakes’ we put on our movements once our canoe is in the current or our sails are filled with wind. Thinking of our intelligence in terms of rational purpose that directs our actions as if from out of the centre of ourselves is what science gives us by imposing an absolute space and absolute time measuring/reference frame over us to serve as a substitute for the relational dynamics we actually experience inclusion in. If we are on the Titanic, predicting what we are going to achieve next year, when we feel the whole reference frame we are in ‘lurch’ as the vessel hits a berg, we are reminded that ‘every system is included in a relational suprasystem’ that it is not in control of, and this suprasystem nests inclusionally within a greater suprasystem, ultimately in the transforming relational continuum.
4.Yes, humans have the power to foul things up, just like the storming does. While I am using ‘humans’ and ‘storms’ as ‘subjects’ and ‘authors’, that is just ‘pragmatic idealization’ since I am referring to inhabitant-habitat nondualities which, like storms, are ‘agents of transformation. The ‘fouling up’ as authored by inhabitant-habitat nondualities is by way of 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
If we contaminate an aquifer that many other people, animals birds and ecosystems depend upon, who knows where the affects will stop [butterflies flapping their wings can trigger thunderstorms]. Our fouling things up is like stirring cream into coffee, … unstirring is not an option. We are not in control.
Mach’s principle expresses man’s inclusion in nature [inhabitant-habitat nonduality] and thus establishes a natural need to care for nature in order to care for ourselves;
“You must teach the children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. … This we know, the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” —Native Belief Tradition
5. Although we speak of scientific truths, there are none. There are only perspectives that can form consensus groups that support them.
What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms—in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.
We still do not know where the urge for truth comes from; for as yet we have heard only of the obligation imposed by society that it should exist: to be truthful means using the customary metaphors—in moral terms: the obligation to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all. Now man of course forgets that this is the way things stand for him. Thus he lies in the manner indicated, unconsciously and in accordance with habits which are centuries’ old; and precisely by means of this unconsciousness and forgetfulness he arrives at his sense of truth.” — Nietzsche, ‘On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense’
Our scientific truths are based in semantic reduction of the transforming relational continuum wherein epigenetic influence is inductively actualizing genetic expression, to a notional space wherein local causal agents with their own genetic agency that are fully and solely responsible for their own actions and deeds are producing the ‘genetic expression’ that is visible to us. While this (can be) a useful tool, such as in the predicting of where hurricane Irma is going to travel to over the next week, it takes our mind away from our physically experienced intuitive reality wherein we experience inclusion in a transforming relational continuum.
6. If Science only works in its own semantically constructed scientific reality (SCSR), how is it that science has achieved such amazing, life-improving results?
Science-in-society most often improves things in the sense of giving us ‘more control’ over other even though we don’t ‘really’ have ‘control’ over other. Or better, because scientific reality is being-based, our science and reason based operations develop control over beings, but not over the physical reality of our actual experience which is of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum. Science gives us drones to spy on and eliminate ‘evil beings’ such as ‘rebels’ but in ‘eliminating rebels’ we may at the same time be increasing relational tensions that are the root source of rebellion. Science gives us control over the climate in our homes and cars. Science gives us control over natural borders and through surveillance, over peoples movements and actions. Science gives us antibiotics and pharmaceuticals to eliminate ‘symptoms’. Meanwhile ‘science’ does not go where, for example, ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine’ goes, which is to deal with the human in the context of its nonduality within the relational suprasystem of ‘world’ that it is included in. As a result, activities directed by science and reason engender ‘externalities’ that are continually influencing humans by way of inhabitant-habitat nonduality [Mach’s principle]; e.g. as Frédéric Neyrat observes;
“In extending his living space in a manner that destroys the space of others, he destroys his own space. Not initially his inside space, his ‘self’, but his outside space, this real outside-of-self which nourishes his ‘inside-of-self’. The protection of this outside space now becomes the condition without which he is unable to pursue the growth of his own powers of being.” — Frédéric Neyrat, ‘Biopolitics of Catastrophe’
As Mach points out, science has chosen to model dynamics in a purely mechanical manner which fails to address inductively actualized affects.
“Purely mechanical phenomena do not exist. The production of mutual accelerations in masses is, to all appearances, a purely dynamical phenomenon. But with these dynamical results are always associated thermal, magnetic, electrical, and chemical phenomena, and the former are always modified in proportion as the latter are asserted. On the other hand, thermal, magnetic, electrical, and chemical conditions also can produce motions. Purely mechanical phenomena, accordingly, are abstractions, made, either intentionally or from necessity, for facilitating our comprehension of things”. … “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 Science of Mechanics, Ch. V.
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CONCLUSIONS to ‘A Nietzschean View of Climate Change’
I would like to try to say this in a very few words since there is a lot of back-up in the body of this essay.
1. It is impossible to measure man’s effect on nature since man is included in the relational dynamics of nature and, like a storm in the atmosphere, can transmit influences from the nonlocal and vent them on the local. Where all these influences came from and how their venting will ultimately affect the transforming relational continuum is not calculable.
2. The impression of man being able to improve on nature and/or to be coming from his own genetic agency comes from semantically constructed scientific reality (SCSR), so it is only when one’s mind has set up this SCSR reality as the ‘operative reality’ does one get these impressions of man as a God-like force. This impression is not realistic in physically experience intuitive reality (PEIR). Among Western men, there are ‘realists’ who actually believe that scientific reality (SCSR) really is the ‘real reality’ or the ‘objective truth’. This is a mistake; i.e.
‘Objective truth’ does not mean ‘in touch with reality’, but instead means ‘in consensus with other inquirers’.
One can see this play out in modern ‘populism’ where many people rally around the same ‘objective truth’ believing that ‘they are in touch with reality’ when instead, they are rallying around their own biases.
People occupy different perspectives, seeing the world and themselves in radically different ways. These perspectives are each shaped by the biases, the desires and the interests of those who hold them; they can vary wildly, and therefore so can the way people see the world.”
‘Pragmatist idealists’, on the other hand, see scientific reality (SCSR) and its solutions [which drop out the guidance of emotions as intuitive reality (PEIR) does not] as just that; ‘pragmatic idealization’. This is a useful tool but one which we need to be wary about since every time we physically use it, we engender unanticipated ‘externalities’. This happens because our scientific models use notional ‘causal agents’ and ‘genetic agency’ as authors of ‘genetic expression’, when the physical source is, instead, epigenetic influence which inductively actualizes the forms being imputed to be ‘causal agents’ and their actions and deeds [think of Katrina who is accused of being the causal agent whose genetic agency is blamed for causing destruction along the Gulf Coast; i.e. in the physical reality of our actual experience, what is going on is relational transformation].
3. We can make up all the stories we want about ‘anthropogenic global warming’ or ‘anthropogenic climate change’ and none of them will be ‘true’ but many of them will gather people together who ‘think the same way’ as in the above-mentioned case of populism.
We do not understand ‘climate’. It is a word for a lot of measurements that we keep making, but never enough because there are many things we can’t measure like the influence of fielding on hitting. What is going on in AGW speculation takes me back to an email exchange with Marina Leibman, Chief Scientist in Russia’s Earth Cryosphere Institute;
“There is no global warming caused by human activity, first because greenhouse gases do not affect climate. They do not affect climate. That is a physical theory, it is an invented horror – it does not exist.” … “While politicians and public … compare “today” with “yesterday”, geologists (science community which I belong to) always think in terms of geological time, [cyclic] events lasting thousands and millions of years. Such a viewpoint takes a lot of imagination in addition to knowledge. Not that effective as something Global and Hazardous, we call it in Russian “Strashilka” (a spook).” (2010) —Marina Leibman, Russian Academy of Sciences, Chief Scientist, Earth Cryosphere Institute, Siberian Branch.
Finally, Western society has for a long time been in the grip of ‘realism’ [confusing scientific reality for reality], believing that ‘objective truth’ DOES MEAN ‘in touch with reality’ when it instead means IN CONCENSUS WITH OTHER SIMILARLY BIASED INQUIRERS.
The ‘climate change’ discussion is a good example for bringing out what ails Western society, and in particular, the unsupportable belief in science as delivering to us ‘objective truths’ that we can employ as our ‘operative reality’. These truths are nothing more than a consolidation of popular biases. We may all agree that it’s a good idea to build a dam on a river and generate electricity [few of us will be reflecting on how such a ‘construction project’, which is not really a ‘construction project but an intervention within the transforming relational continuum’, will incur transformation too-complex to fully comprehend, ecosystemic relations] and we may agree on many other ‘basic matters’, but;
When it comes to basic matters, sharing a perspective on the truth is easy – but when it comes to issues such as morality, religion and politics, agreement is much harder to achieve. People occupy different perspectives, seeing the world and themselves in radically different ways. These perspectives are each shaped by the biases, the desires and the interests of those who hold them; they can vary wildly, and therefore so can the way people see the world.”
So, groups continue to form on a consensus basis, interpreting this as closing in on the objective truth, missing the fact that this is just gathering together a group on the basis of the members’ common biases, desires and interests. There is no ‘objective truth’.
Bring on the ‘learning circles’ where we share with one another the unique and importantly differing truths of our actual experience! [the source of holographic imagery that puts relations into a natural primacy over ‘forms’]
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