Gender and Space in the Social Dynamic (GaSS’d)
This note is designed to serve as a simple ‘thinking tool’, to remind that there are two ways of visualizing the dynamic behaviour of matter (the dynamics of form and organization) and two ways of understanding the role of space in these dynamics (participating and non-participating), yielding three different ways to contemplate the meaning of any dynamic. The choices we make impact our sense of ‘self’ and ‘society’ and shape our manner of engaging with/in the world dynamic.
1. Attraction and Repulsion (‘gender relations’ in emergent form/organization).
Imagine a local cell-like form that is bounded on all sides; e.g. an amoeba-like form, and imagine a crowded collection of these forms, each of them pushing their neighbours and being pushed by their neighbours. Their form and the form of the organization or collective movement will be due to a (four-part) combination of (1) how each individual cell pushes on its neighbours and puts a dent in their form (deforms the others as in the masculine-assertive sense) and (2) how collections of cells push on their neighbour cells and forcibly push flow channels (intrusions) within the overall collective, and (3) how each individual cell accommodates the pushing of its neighbours (deforms itself as in the female-receptive sense), and (4) how collections of cells receptively accommodate and open up flow channels within the overall collective.
The dynamic form and organization of the cells in this four-part view ‘comes to mind’ in the manner of, for example, a European war where the cell boundaries correspond to the country boundaries and where the cells have a ‘colonizing’ motivation whereby they are attracted by and seek to possess portions of their neighbours and to repulse attempts by their neighbours to possess portions of them.
2. Reciprocal Disposition (emergent form/organization as spatial transformation)
In the above visualizing of attraction and repulsion within a collection of local cells, ‘space’ is a non-participant. As Einstein and others have pointed out; “Space is a participant in physical phenomena”.
Imagine this time, that the cells are ‘tiling’ the surface of a sphere, in which case when cells ‘push out’, their pushing ‘back-reflects’ on themselves due to what Einstein calls ‘reciprocal disposition’ (e.g. see Einstein’s essay ‘Geometry and Experience’).
In the first view where space is not a participant, the pushing and accommodating is understood in terms of ‘competition’ where the pushing of the strongest will prevail and be accommodated by the rest.
In this second view where space IS a participant, the pushing and accommodating is back-reflected on the cells in a non-simple manner given by Mach’s principle of the relativity of space and matter; “The dynamics of the habitat condition the dynamics of the inhabitants at the same time as the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat.”
3. The precedence of nonlocal over local
The above and presently discussed ‘architecture’ of dynamics ‘complexifies’ our understanding of dynamics, a complexification that exposes the fact that our prior (space as a non-participant) understanding was a case of ‘choosing not that which is most true but that which is most easy’ (Kepler, speaking of how science avoids the complexity inherent in nature, in its explanations of physical phenomena, in ‘Harmonies of the World).
In the following diagram, we can see that we have a choice of observing the movement of two-dimensional cells over a surface area as in ‘continental drift’, and/or in the more ‘complex’ terms where the surface dynamics are an expression of deeper, non-superficially visible fluid undercurrents.
The topic of this discussion is ‘dynamics’ and how we ‘perceive’ dynamics.
Dynamics are fundamental to our understanding. Our life experience is ‘inherently dynamic’. ‘Stasis’ as in the notion of the local object which is stationary and unchanging is ‘idealization’ that does not exist anywhere in the natural world.
Summary: We have more ways than one to understand ‘our own dynamics’ and ‘the dynamics of others’.
1. We can imagine dynamics to be one-sided and male (with space as a non-participant) in which case the individual is deemed fully responsible for the results of his actions which ‘play out in time’. This ‘male’ view of dynamics is impossible in ‘reality’ but it is employed extensively in Western thinking. We use it to establish ‘credit’ and ‘blame’ for emergent ‘results’. This is the legacy of Aristotelian notion of ‘purpose’ (‘intrinsic final cause’) as in the ‘acorn-to-oak-tree’ dynamic where we conceive of the encoded knowledge and purpose encapsulated within the acorn, pushing out of itself (self-actualizing) to produce its final form in such a manner that it is deemed fully and solely responsible for this result. This simplistic (“not that which is most true but that which is most easy”) view of dynamics is used as the foundation for ‘genetics’ and for ‘Darwin’s theory’ and dominates in western architecture/design of organization (government and commercial enterprise)..
2. We can imagine dynamics to be two-sided and androgynous (with space as a non-participant) so that there will always be ambiguity as to the respective ‘male’ and ‘female’ combination; i.e. the dynamic is assumed to be one dynamic of an androgynous character. This understanding we use when we observe a tree moving in the wind or a flag flapping in the breeze. There is no ‘time’ separation in this view, between the re-forming of the tree-boughs and the re-forming of the airflow, since the one is simultaneously reciprocal to the other. This leads us to complexify our understanding of dynamics to the point of seeing dynamics as geometric transformation; e.g. if we start with a simple dynamic view where Lulu is leaving work and heading for the party, we have two entities; ‘Lulu’ and ‘the party’ which are converging. But the party is not the same party that Lulu was moving towards when Lulu is included in it, and work is not the same ‘work’ when Lulu has been removed from it. That is, movement of things can also be understood as the transformation of the relational geometry of space where intrusion (male) and accommodation (female) are flip sides of the same coin (the transformation of the geometry of space). This is still ‘one step short’ of including space as a participant in dynamic phenomena.
3. We can understand dynamics in terms wherein space is a participant as is characteristic of ‘flow’ – the worldview in a Heraclitean philosophy; i.e. the male-assertive fountaining-forth is in conjugate relation with the here-receptive-there-resistive accommodating of the fluid medium. There are not ‘two dynamics’ going on in this view, but one dynamic which we can interpret as two. For example, within a community, there is generally a mixture of ‘pushy’ and ‘accommodating people. The pushy ones tend to have an ‘ego’ that gives full credit to themselves for ‘the results’ that ‘they achieve’ and regards their accommodating brethren as ‘weak’ and ‘inferior performers’ as trees that are whipped about by the wind. This is the ‘social Darwinist’ view that gives zero credit to the female accommodative aspect and sees all results as if they derived from male competition. This is at the origin of the feminist complaint; ‘my grandfather was a famous engineer, my grandmother had no name’. But the big step in ‘complexification’ of our view of dynamics (bringing our understanding closer still to the reality of our experience) is when we ‘let go’ of the notion of the persisting identity of ‘local objects’ and acknowledge that they are transient ‘forms’ that gather in the flow. As Emerson says, all material objects are essentially like the cataract; i.e. there is a persisting form there even though it derives purely from flow. Material objects that gather and are re-gathered in the flow are not only ‘inhabited’ by the dynamic of the flow-medium but are created by it. The flow is a ‘holodynamic’ or ‘holoflux’ in which material objects are flow-forms that are continually being gathered and re-gathered.
The above descriptions of dynamics give alternative ‘understandings’ that we can use when and where we choose to. Which ones dominate (which we make ‘foundational’ in our common understanding) are the stuff that different ‘cultures’ are made from.
For example, our western culture, which is identified by its manner of organizing (how an individual from any culture organizes himself alone in the wilderness tends to launder out the differences in culture), opts for the simplest view of dynamics as in (1.) where the male cause-and-effect is seen to be responsible for all dynamics of form and organization (this corresponds, in a religious view, to a monotheist male God). The result is that credit is attributed to particular ‘causal agents’ for ‘good results’ and blame is attributed to particular ‘causal agents’ for ‘bad results’; i.e. ‘everything’ is seen in terms of the ‘result’ of some or other ‘causal agent action’.
In Victor Hugo’s classic ‘Les Miserables’ the over-simplicity of this view of dynamics is caricatured by Jean Valjean’s going to jail for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread (because he reached a point where he could no longer bear to hear starving children crying with hunger). Technically speaking, (‘TECHNICALLY’ in the sense of the simplest view of dynamics), Jean Valjean was the causal agent responsible for the criminal act of theft from the bakery. Since space is not a participant in this simple view of dynamics, the argument could not be used that monopoly control over the accommodating properties of space infused stress into the overall matter-space system in the manner of earthquake/avalanche phenomena, to the point where movement emerged in the service of relieving stress (in social dynamics terms, a kind of ‘Robin Hood’ effect).
Everybody knows that such a view of dynamics is far more realistic than is the simple one-sided male-cause-and-effect view which goes hand-in-hand with the notion of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ results. The ‘good’ and ‘evil’ view associates with Aristotelian ‘intrinsic final cause’ or ‘purposive systems’ (acorn-to-oak-tree); i.e. in this ‘most easy but not most true’ mental modeling, the ‘first cause’ origin of all human dynamics derives from the interior of the individual, from his ‘internal purpose’. In this view, there is no reason for looking any further once the ‘guilty’ causal agent has been identified. However, in the more complex (more realistic) view of dynamics where space is a participant, tensions can develop and build in space leading to nonlocal sourcing of material dynamics as in earthquake/avalanche/hurricane etc. dynamic phenomena.
Rejection of nonlocal originating of dynamics is the standard response from staunch members of the western culture because they have anchored their views and understanding to ‘western biology’ and ‘western psychology’ which have been developed using the (1.) view of dynamics.
Those people whose political views are described as ‘liberal’ are described as having fuzzy views because of their touchy-feely temperaments. They would let Jean Valjean off the hook OUT OF THEIR COMPASSION for him and for the children. But they would leave the justice system as it is, built on an over-simplistic understanding of dynamics. The rich liberals would still believe that they were fully, causally responsible for the achievement of affluence, but that it was ‘right’ to be generous and forgiving to others who were ‘less gifted’ or ‘less fortunate’.
In other words, ‘liberals’ are most often ‘soft-hearted’ versions of ‘conservatives’, both of these ‘temperaments’ believing in the simple model of dynamics built into the political system where governance via a central regulatory authority is based on ‘control over behaviour understood as male cause-and-effect’. Monopoly control over land (the common space that is a participant in dynamics) is protected by law and the justice system views land as ‘one of the factors of production’ along with capital, labour and entrepreneurship. The right to own land is a privilege granted by the sovereign state to individual citizens and to corporations.
The ‘earthquake/avalanche’ dynamics which are just as viable in the social dynamics realm as in any other realm in the world dynamic, while they are excluded from consideration in the western culture’s approach to organization, are in fact provoked by forms of organization committed to the monopoly acquisition and control of land, the ethic that was foundational in the colonization that was launched by European nations. The colonization dynamic is alive and well in the modern world dynamic but is no longer ‘overt’, not since Hitler’s overt ‘lebensraum’ initiative was suppressed, and is now infused into the ‘global economy’ where corporations seek monopoly control of ‘the factors of production’ including land. ‘Cornering the land’ has transitioned to ‘cornering the market’.
The western culture, by refusing to review and revise the understanding of dynamics that have been built into western systems of organization (political and commercial), is mired down trying to sort things out via a fuzzy mix of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ behaviour moderated by equally fuzzy notions of ‘compassion’ and ‘forgiveness’.
It will say that ‘Jean Valjean’ was ‘wrong’ to steal the loaf of bread, and it will say that change in the social dynamic should be accomplished through ‘democratic process’. But meanwhile, the justice system NOT ONLY entirely ignores the manipulative control of land/space that forces the hungry, ‘un-landed’ masses into sweat-shop (legitimized slave-) labour force, but supports the society in applauding, rewarding and respecting those who achieve massive manipulative control of land/space, as is the Darwinian custom, itself based on an over-simple view of dynamics.
In the unsimplified view of dynamics (3.), ‘local causal agency’ and ‘local purposive systems’ are no longer understood as the ‘first cause’ originating shapers of dynamic form and organization. Instead, the originating shaping influence of form and organization is understood as ‘nonlocal’ and the individual is understood to ‘have a dynamic’ that is inherently ‘relative’ to the dynamics of space, as in the cell-to-space relationship in the figure above.
We understand dynamics in this way when we are driving friendly in the flow of the busy freeway; i.e. like Lulu going to a party, ‘we’ and ‘where we are going’ are ‘the same place/space’ and what is happening is ‘transformation’ of the space we and they share inclusion in. That is, the transformation of space is the bigger view of dynamics, … bigger than the assertive/purposeful actions of a collection of local, independently existing material systems/organisms, notionally equipped with their own locally-originating internal purpose directed behaviours. When we move into the ‘hole’ that opens up for us (thanks to the collective we are included in who are all moving under one another’s simultaneous mutual influence), we are opening up a hole for someone else to move into. Actually, the hole is not a local thing, but rather the medium of space in which we are included. In this less simple view of dynamics, the opening of spatial possibility-to-move is conjugate to our assertive intrusion into it. And, if we observe the flow of traffic for, say, one hundred years, several generations of drivers will have come and gone even though the flow of traffic has persisted; i.e. the nonlocal shaping influence prevails over the influence of the ‘local’ flow-features.
Where does ‘the mind’ fit into all of this?
Thoughts move in our conscious pursuit of understanding. We could therefore develop an architectural understanding of the ‘dynamics of thought’ which would have to reconcile with our general understanding of dynamics. In fact, we could invoke the same architecture for the dynamics of thought as in above dynamics architecture.
1. We can imagine the dynamics of thought to be one-sided and male (with space as non-participating ‘empty silence’) in which case the individual is deemed fully responsible for the results of his thoughts which ‘play out in time’. This ‘male’ view of thought-dynamics is the popular view in our Western culture. We use it to establish ‘credit’ and ‘blame’ for emergent ‘results’; i.e. we speak about ‘positive thinking’ and ‘negative thinking’ and some consider it sinful to ‘think bad thoughts’. This is the legacy of Aristotelian notion of ‘intention/purpose’ (‘intrinsic final cause’) as in the ‘acorn-to-oak-tree’ thought-dynamic whereby the thought pushes forth out of itself. Just as our physical self was fingered as the ‘causal agent’ in the case of physical dynamics, we would look for the physical seat where ‘thought originates’ in this view of thought dynamics, and the brain would appear to be the ‘likely candidate’.
2. We can imagine the dynamics of thought, as in ‘communicating our thoughts’, to be two-sided and androgynous (with space as a non-participant). This is the transmitter-receiver view of thought, so that there will always be ambiguity as to the respective ‘male’ and ‘female’ combination (is the thought that I heard the same as the thought you intended?); i.e. the dynamic is assumed to be one dynamic of an androgynous character. This understanding we use when we dialogue. There is no ‘time’ separation between transmission and reception in this view, since one is simultaneously reciprocal to the other. ‘Thought’ in this view of thought dynamics, rather than being a thought-object that is born inside of us and communicated to others as a kind of self-contained packet of information, is born at the confluence of transmission and reception. ‘Words’ are like this; i.e. a word can have no meaning unless it is understood by at least two people at the same time. In this second level of thought-dynamics, a word heading off to join other words can be like Lulu heading for the party. The party when it is joined by Lulu is an entirely different party than it was prior to Lulu’s arrival.. The new word does not simply embellish what is already there, it entirely transforms it. That is, movement of thoughts can also be understood as the transformation of the relational geometry of thought where transmission (male) and reception (female) are flip sides of the same coin (the transformation of the relational geometry of thought). This is still ‘one step short’ of including silence as a participant in the dynamics of thought.
3. We can understand the dynamics of thought in terms wherein silence is a participant so that thought can be understood as ‘flow’. The male-assertive transmitting of thought is in conjugate relation with the female-receptive accommodating of thought, as within a fluid-dynamic. There are not ‘two thought-dynamics’ going on in this view, but one thought dynamic which we can interpret as two. For example, within the understanding of a conscious collective, there is generally a mixture of ‘talkers’ and ‘listeners’. The ‘talkers’ tend to have an ‘ego’ that gives full credit to themselves for ‘the thoughts that they are propagating’, and they regard their listening brethren as passive putty in their hands, as trees that are whipped about and given shape by their windy rhetoric. This is the ‘Darwinist’ view of thought dynamics that gives zero credit to the female receptive aspect sees all resulting ‘thought-shaping’ as if it derived from the competition amongst male thought dynamics (the ‘meme’ architecture for thought dynamics). But the big step in ‘complexification’ of our view of thought dynamics (bringing our understanding closer still to the reality of our thinking experience) is when we ‘let go’ of the notion of the persisting identity of ‘local thought objects’ and acknowledge that they are transient ‘forms’ that gather in the flow. As Vygotsky says in ‘Thought and Language’, all non-spontaneous (scientific) thought-objects (concepts) are essentially like the cataract; i.e. there is a persisting form there even though it derives purely from the thought-flow. Local thought-objects (aka ‘concepts’) that gather and are re-gathered in the flow are not only ‘inhabited’ by the dynamic thought-flow but are created by it. Thought-flow is holoflux in which local thought-objects are thought-flow-forms that are continually being gathered and re-gathered. Thought context and thought content are reciprocal to one another in the sense as given by Mach’s principle; “The dynamics of context condition the dynamics of content at the same time as the dynamics of content are conditioning the dynamics of context.”
Descartes’ ‘Cogito ergo sum’ can be seen to fall in the Aristotelian “not that which is most true but that which is most easy” architecture of thought, wherein thought pushes forth out of itself, as in the ‘acorn-to-oak-tree’ (intrinsic final cause) rendering. The physical seat of the fountainhead of thought is thus ‘looked for’ after one starts with this conclusion (cogito ergo sum) and works backwards to find the source. The ‘brain’ is thus identified as the sourcing fountainhead. This is a bit like identifying the penis and testicles as being responsible for human pregnancy/progeny. It is ‘most easy’ rather than ‘most true’ because ‘the thought-origination buck starts and stops here’ with the ‘brain’.
The further complexification of thought dynamics, as in the case of the architecture of dynamics in general, leads one to the ‘flow’ view wherein ‘elements of thought’ are flow-features that have a conjugate context-content dynamic relation. This recalls Schroedinger’s ‘one mind’ view wherein consciousness or ‘the field of thought’ is a dynamic unity (i.e. ‘consciousness is characteristic of the world-dynamic’).
This ‘Gender and Space in the Social Dynamic’ note can serve as a relatively simple ‘template’ for remembering the various ways in which physical dynamics and thought dynamics can be DIFFERENTLY understood. The acronym GaSSd could be useful in bringing the template back to mind; i.e. the ‘gender’ aspect pertains to ‘assertive’ and ‘accommodative’ dynamics and to ‘transmissive’ and ‘receptive’ thought dynamics. The gender relations can be thought of as (a) opposing and interacting in time, and (b) in simultaneous conjugate [assertive-accommodative] relation. The big step in complexification of the dynamics architecture (i.e. in backing off from ‘choosing not that which is most true but that which is most easy’), however, comes when we understand the fluid (energy) medium, ‘flow’ and ‘thought-flow’ to be in a natural precedence over the male and female object (thought-object) dynamics (asserted-and-accommodated, … transmitted-and-received).
One must take account of the fact that in our Western culture we have become addicted to the simplest of all of the architectures, the one-sided male causal agent originating view of dynamics, and to its counterpart in the domain of thought-dynamics; i.e. the one-sided male transmission of thoughts is understood as being responsible for the origination of established thought.
While this addiction is not going to go away ‘overnight’, the GaSSd template allows one to identify the origins of dysfunction in our society, as a result of our over-simplified understanding of dynamics.
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