How language architecture shapes reality
1. In the big picture of the universe, it seems as if ‘everything is mutually dependent’ as in an ‘ecosystem’;
“[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
2. My ‘sense of self’, in my heart, is all about ‘caring’ for my self, my children, parents, friends, cats, dogs, the trees and terrain, the whales and fish etc. to the point that I don’t really know ‘who I am’ in a singular sense. In this, I am like a relationally-dependent member of an ecosystem whose ‘self’ has no definition ‘on its own’ (I have gathered within this mutual relational interdependency and this seems to be the way things are; i.e. with our ‘caring self’ being a nexus of relational entanglements). An example of a poetic definition of an ecosystem is;
I, you, she, we. In the garden of mystic lovers these are not true distinctions. —Jelaluddin Rumi
In this case, where peoples’ selves (our heartfelt caring selves) are the ‘nexa’ of relational entanglements (as in wave space where every ‘cell’ is transmitting/giving at the same time as it is receiving/taking, as in the inhabitant-habitat interdependent relational activity continuum [ref. Mach’s principle]), … concepts such as one individual or one group being ‘inferior’ or ‘superior’ to another makes no sense since each of the individuals incorporates influences of others and others incorporate influences of it [as in quantum entanglement].
It has been popular to pose a question involving a ‘moral dilemma’ such as ‘who would you rescue if you could rescue only one of the following from a sinking ship’ : –A teacher, A Priest, A Leader of a country, A Mother, An unemployed person, A child, A pregnant woman, A Huge stock holder, A Scientist, A baby, A single man, A learning disabled person, A mentally disabled person, A physically disabled person, A newly married couple, A dog, The Captain, A drunk, A muslim, A Christian, More food, The gay couple, A beautiful girl/man. If one cares to answer such a question, it will involve intellectual reflection that seeks to assign different values to the different people, rather than coming from spontaneous caring (one might see in their eyes that some are ‘prepared to go’ while others are ‘not ready to go’).
The relationship between ‘caring’ and ‘intellection’ could be compared to the formless wind in the sails relative to the ‘rudder’ of ‘intellection’. One can visualize this as one’s ‘caring self’ being the ‘big you’ that is carrying-from-behind your ‘little you’ intellectual self [e.g. by holding you under your arms and pushing you forward with your feet stretching forward and heels digging in to resist]. All your ‘little intellectual self’ can do is to differentially ‘dig your left or right heels in’ so as to steer or ‘give direction to’ your ‘caring driving-force’, giving ‘form’ to the ‘formless wind-in-your-sails of caring’. For example, as a young male, you may ‘care a lot’ for some girl and your formless drive would need to be ‘moderated/shaped’ by your intellect, and by scouting the situation, you would discover those actions on your part that elicited favourable, neutral or unfavourable responses on her part, and you would let the inside-outward asserting aspect of your relational behaviour be outside-inwardly shaped by the relative ‘receptive/resistive’ accommodating of the girl’s ‘fielding’ of your ‘hitting’ on her. Without caring (and only intellectual calculating), your inside-outward asserting actions would be fully and solely deriving from your intellection and purpose. With caring, your inside-outward-asserting aspect of your behaviour would be shaped by the outside-inward orchestrating influence of her variably receptive/resisting accommodating.
Of course, our intellectual adventures tend to have us think of ourselves as ‘independent beings’; i.e. as ‘this’, ‘that’, or ‘the other’, according to our intellectual powers of RE-presentation, … but that is a matter of thought and language (intellection) whereas ‘caring’ is a formless influence or ‘pre-lingual’ force that seems to be innate in nature’s relational forms (e.g. the evident mutual interdependence of stars and planets, Kepler describes as ‘caring’ in ‘Harmonies of the World’).
3. Emerson describes ‘the genius of nature’ in these same mutually dependent ecosystemic terms, pointing out that a pear-tree is part of an ecosystem of sun, soil, water, minerals, flow, and while we can use noun-and-verb language-and-grammar to say that ‘the pear-tree produces pears’, this does not eclipse the more complete ecosystem-relational view in which the pear tree owes ‘what it is’ to mutual relational interdependence; i.e. to the purely relational niche that opens up an accommodating and nurturing space for the development and sustaining of the pear-tree.
4. Adam Smith, in describing the ‘Wealth of Nations’, on the other hand, spoke NOT of a ‘relations-first’ world, but of a ‘things-first’ world constituted by competition amongst various individuals as ‘they worked to produce the stuff they need to survive. Smith described nature’s way of preserving the ‘fittest’ individuals in this ‘competition’ and starving out the ‘less fit’, without mentioning any ecosystemic interdependency. This self-interest driven competition is the assumption underlying the globally prevailing ‘free market economy’ so these ideas, adopted a century later by Darwin, continue to prevail in modern society. Smith says;
“Every species of animals naturally multiplies in proportion to the means of their subsistence, and no species can ever multiply beyond it. But in civilized society it is only among the inferior ranks of people that the scantiness of subsistence can set limits to the further multiplication of the human species; and it can do so in no other way than by destroying a great part of the children which their fruitful marriages produce.” —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
‘Darwinism’ continues to be the prevailing scientific theory in modern biology and it is fiercely defended by the scientific orthodoxy who brand anyone opposing it as a ‘religious Creationist’.
Darwinism started with an assumption of the existence of ‘independent beings’ and what made them tick (out of the context of relational interdependence), so that the testing of alternative theories never goes so deep as to question the built-in assumption of the ‘independent being’. In other words, biological science incorporates dualism, binary logic that notionally splits apart inhabitant from habitat, ‘self’ from ‘other’ etc. The following word usage chart is based on the full text of Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species’ and indicates the non-exploring of innately relational/ecosystemic structures in nature.
5. People who assume that mutual interdependence is natural do not base their relational social dynamics on ‘competition’ amongst self-interest driven human ‘beings’ (there is only ‘becoming’ in an ecosystem, since it is a purely relational dynamic, as affirmed in modern physics).
That is, people who have had a ‘relational’ or ‘flow-based’ language architecture which preserves the interdependence of things, developed communities which accept mutual support as natural and as defining ‘who they are’;
“To Engels, Morgan’s description of the Iroquois [in Lewis Henry Morgan’s Ancient Society and The League of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois] was important because “it gives us the opportunity of studying the organization of a society which, as yet, knows no state.” Jefferson had also been interested in the Iroquois’ ability to maintain social consensus without a large state apparatus, as had Franklin. Engels described the Iroquoian state in much the same way that American revolutionaries had a century earlier: “Everything runs smoothly without soldiers, gendarmes, or police, without nobles, kings, governors, prefects or judges; without prisons, without trials. All quarrels and disputes are settled by the whole body of those concerned. . . . The household is run communistically by a number of families; the land is tribal property, only the small gardens being temporarily assigned to the households — still, not a bit of our extensive and complicated machinery of administration is required. . . . There are no poor and needy. The communistic household and the gens know their responsibility toward the aged, the sick and the disabled in war. All are free and equal — including the women.” — Bruce E. Johansen, Forgotten Founders
6. As Emerson, pointed out, while we can use our noun-and-verb Indo-European/Scientific language-and-grammar, to say things like ‘the farmer produces wheat’ or ‘the pear-tree produces pears’, … the more complete view is in terms of the ecosystemic mutual relations, and the pear-tree would not orient his life to maximize pear production, but would accept that it is first of all an agent of transformation within a purely relational (mutual interdependence-based) ecosystem.
“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’
The architecture of language influences our understanding of ‘what is real’ and ‘who we are’. As Whorf says;
“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’
If we are to understand the world in terms that ‘relations’ are most basic (as in ‘fields-of-influence’) then since purely relational influence is non-local, non-visible and non-material, we must acknowledge that the sourcing of dynamics will not be directly picturable. The appearance of ‘things’ and ‘what things do’, captured intellectually, using noun-and-verb language-and-grammar, are ‘secondary; i.e. ‘the pear-tree produces pears’ is secondary to the ecosystemic ‘suprasystem’ in which the pear-tree ‘system’ is included as an interdependent member.
“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
It is possible to combine the modern physics ‘relational’ field-based worldview with the Newtonian ‘independent things’ view via Emerson’s ‘pear-tree’ analogy. The ecosystem dynamic, being purely relational, is innately non-visible. The pear-tree is directly visible and tangible to the human observer/experient. The tornado is also directly visible and tangible to the human observer/experient, and while we can use noun-and-verb language-and-grammar to personify the tornado as a jumpstart doer-of-deeds [the tornado ravaged Joplin], the tornado is more than that.
In fact the tornado is a feature of the transforming relational activity continuum which includes all relational forms, including ourselves. So, ‘what we are looking out at’ includes ‘we who are looking out at it’. The ‘caring’ we have for others, given that we are ‘transmitters of influence from the vast and universal to the point on which our genius can act’, … opens up a channel into the transforming relational activity which includes ourselves and everything. Caring is thus a sniff of ‘the eternal’ that we can smell in the cared for ‘others’, … as Schroedinger observes, Brahman = Atman, … this ‘caring’ is God/Brahman. In caring, we have the promise of become one with everything, with our eternal aspect, Brahman.
The life/love I am reaching out to grasp is the me that is reaching out to grasp it. – R.D. Laing
The topology that is implicit in Laing’s view of ‘self’ is like Jallaludin Rumi’s howling love dog. As also in Laing’s representation, ‘in caring’, we connect with our self.
“… This longing you express IS the return message.’ The grief you cry out from draws you toward union. Your pure sadness that wants help is the secret cup. Listen to the moan of a dog for its master. That whining is the connection. There are love dogs no one knows the names of. Give your life to be one of them.” —Jelaluddin Rumi
Intellection cannot be the ‘driver’. It can only be the ‘director’ in the sense that it is a braking system that holds back and variably unleashes our ‘caring drive’, shaping our inside-outward asserting behaviour in a manner that matches the variably receptive/resistive outside-inward accommodating of the relational space we are situationally included in. Our caring associates with our natural relational experiencing.
“The moralism of the Greek philosophers from Plato on is pathologically conditioned; so is their reverence for logical argument. Reason equals virtue and happiness, that means merely that one must imitate Socrates and counter the dark appetites with a permanent daylight — the daylight of reason. One must be clever, clear, bright at any price: any concession to the instincts, to the unconscious, leads downward.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’
“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
* * * * *
There are two realities that vie for our embrace; (a) an intellectual reality associated with linguistic representation, and (b) an experience-based intuitive reality that does not depend on intellectual constructs.
The WESTERN institutions of government, commerce and justice, the major movers and shakers in establishing the order/disorder in the global social relational dynamic, are increasingly based on the unnatural elevating of ‘intellection’ into precedence over our experience-based intuition (our pre-lingual understanding).
If one brought together a group of people, each one from a different language group and none understanding any of the language of the others, the evolving of the social relational group dynamic would have to revert to experiential intuiting of non-discursive body language etc. in a manner similar to lion trainers and those who have lived with gorillas or grizzly bears. Since non-discursive signals are the better part of interpersonal/inter-organism communications, the lack of intellectual plugging-in to one another need not be a major impediment to the cultivating and sustaining of more or less in-balance and harmonious social relational dynamics.
However, intellectual discourse has the power to trump experience-based intuition, and while informal social relational dynamics within a family or close-knit community may operate on an intuitive basis, using intellectual discourse in a support role, an ‘inversion’ occurs in formalized political structures which puts intellectual discourse into an unnatural primacy over experience-based intuition.
For example, if a mafia type reads off the names of the children of those in the audience, along with the addresses of the schools they attend, … and then make the threat that ‘accidents could happen’ if the listeners are not attentive to, and compliant with the directives that they are about to issue, … this is a powerful use of intellectual, discursive communications. It seems evident that intellectual discourse can push the social relational dynamic far, far away from where it might otherwise have gone via non-discursive (pre-lingual) communications. For example, politicians, since they are the stewards of protective forces ‘paid for’ by the people, have a trump card to play to manipulate the social dynamic and bend it to their own self-interest, the power of which will rise in proportion to a perceived (perhaps politically stage-managed) ‘threat’ to continuing public security and welfare.
As suggested in the above essay, ‘Darwinism’, with its absolute ignore-ance and denial of the natural primacy of ‘relations’ as in ecosystemic interdependency, is the foundational theory of the ‘free market economy’. Thus, to accept one’s ‘self’ as a ‘self-interest pursuing independent competitor’ in a ‘free market economy’ is to reduce one’s sense of ‘self’ to an intellectual automaton or ‘machine part’; i.e. it puts ‘intellection’ into an unnatural precedence over ‘relational experience-based intuition’.
Adam Curtis in his (BBC-2) three-part series ‘The Trap’ (freely available on the internet) at http://thoughtmaybe.com/the-trap/ describes the global political-economic trend that is turning us into ‘machine parts’ as in the economic theory of Adam Smith, the evolutionary theory of Darwinism, and political theory that embraces moral judgement based retributive justice. Curtis’ latest film, ‘Bitter Lake’, also freely accessible at http://thoughtmaybe.com/bitter-lake/ delves further into the global social dysfunction that is deriving from our move towards the Darwinist model of self as an independent-self-interest driven intellectual automaton.
Curtis’ view affirms the view of Andrei Tarkovsky in ‘Solaris’ (reference to which Curtis incorporates in ‘Bitter Lake’) that our betrayals of the past come around and confront us head on, like garbage that we jettison from the stern of our boat, thinking that we are leaving it behind for good, and later see it coming over the horizon ahead of us, approaching our advancing bow.
This is what ‘moral judgement’ does for us. It ‘cleanses us’ of all complicity in what we see confronting us; e.g. the ‘angry slave’, the ‘terrorist’, those who we have shafted in the past who are now appearing before us and threatening us (unless we can acknowledge them and embrace them).
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, on September 11, 2002, the first anniversary of 9/11 saw the ‘terrorists’ as the progeny of our past betrayals, as in the ‘visitors’ in the science fiction film ‘Solaris’.
In a CBC nationally televised interview with Peter Mansbridge, Chrétien acknowledged that the colonial powers or G8, had been betraying and humiliating third world peoples. His controversial comments were widely replicated around the world under the title ‘Power to Humiliate’. Here is the core of what he had to say;
[CBC’s Peter Mansbridge] “By the end of the day [9/11], what were you thinking about in terms of how the world had changed?”
[Prime Minister Jean Chrétien] “… it is a division in the world that is building up. And I knew that it was the inspiration of it. For me, I think that the rest of the world a bit too selfish, and that there is a lot of resentment…. You know, the poor, relatively, get poorer all the time. And the rich are getting richer all the time. … You know, you cannot exercise your powers to the point of humiliation for the others. And that is what the Western world, not only the Americans, the Western world has to realize, because they are human beings too, and there are long-term consequences if you don’t look hard at the reality in 10 or 20 or 30 years from now.”
“I do think that the Western world is getting too rich in relations to the poor world,” he said.
“And necessarily, we’re looked upon as being arrogant, self-satisfied, greedy and with no limits. And the 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize it even more.”
As Senator Douglas Roche commented in the huge ‘Don’t make excuses for terrorists’ stir that followed Jean Chrétien’s Mansbridge interview on the first anniversary of 9/11;
“This was a very perceptive comment [Jean Chrétien’s]. It was waiting to be said–needed to be said. It was something that many of us have been saying for a long time. Any anti-terrorism policy has to be seen within the totality of economic and social conditions that are the obvious spawning ground of this desperate activity.”
* * *
In Tarkovsky’s film ‘Solaris’ and in Curtis’ film ‘Bitter Lake’, there is this same sense of earlier betrayals giving rise to ‘disturbing visitors’. Are these visitors really from our past? In the film Solaris, the disturbing visitors are people who we have betrayed in the past, that the strange Solarian sea that seems to be conscious, that the Russian space station is hovering over, … is ‘creating’ by extracting memories of these betrayals from the astronauts as they sleep. The astronauts are there to see if they can discover any ‘human-like life’ in ‘outer space’, … but what they are discovering is their own negative behaviours that they thought they had jettisoned off the stern of their life’s forward moving barque, that would recede from them, forever, into the past. The most science-disciplined members of the space station stand resolute in ignoring the ‘disturbing visitors’ that ‘appear’ on the space station. But one of the astronauts feels love and compassion for the ‘visitor’, which science says ‘does not exist’ and therefore ‘should be ignored’. His colleagues reproach him for caving in to believing in her existence, and he too, knows that she is not ‘mortal’ since she can regenerate even if exposed to accidents that would terminate ‘normal humans’.
It is hard NOT to make the association with ‘terrorism’ and its connection with the betrayals of so many colonized peoples by the colonizing powers. They are like the ghouls in horror movies, … the more one does to exterminate them, … the stronger they come back. The denial that they are coming from our own past betrayal is supported by ‘science’. Like the astronauts on the Solaris space station, we must retain our scientific discipline and rigidly ignore the existence of the disturbing visitors that claim to be out of our own past and/or exterminate them.
Science decrees that these ‘disturbing visitors’ that purport to come from our past, have nothing to do with us, since the present has no connection with the remote past. This, of course, does not accord with the physical reality of our natural experience. The betrayal of those peoples who were enslaved in colonization has not been erased, in spite of the assumptions we make about such things in ‘science’;
“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 ‘clash of realities’ is well captured in ‘Solaris’ and in ‘Bitter Lake’ although in an esoteric or ‘poetic’ metaphor.
The dilemma is that, while the binary logic of moral judgement (good versus evil) and science (EITHER ‘true’ OR ‘false’) insists that the ‘disturbing visitors’ that confront us in the present cannot possibly ‘relate’ (by quantum entanglement or whatever) to our own behaviour in the remote past, … modern physics insists that the world is a transforming relational activity continuum, so that it is entirely possible for our own behaviours in the remote past to spawn disturbing visitors that confront us in the present.
If we hold firm to the understandings of science, we must deny this, since the biological sciences see the human organism as an independent, material system with its own internal process driven and directed behaviour that resides, operates and interacts in a habitat that is independent of the inhabitants that reside, operate and interact within it. This scientific setting is a setting in which moral judgement ‘makes sense’ since it supports the proposition that an individual (a notional independent, reason-driven system) is FULLY AND SOLELY RESPONSIBLE for the ‘results’ of his own actions’. It is therefore nonsense to suppose that the actions of ‘disturbing visitors’ in the present are in any way derived from our own actions in the past. Of course, if the world were ‘really’ given only once, as a transforming relational activity continuum as presented by Bohm, Schroedinger, Barbour et al, …. then we would have to acknowledge the ‘linkage’ between our own actions in the remote past with that of the disturbing visitors in the present; i.e. we could not, as our moral judgement based retributive justice system does, use the ‘science’ ploy that;
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.
Bottom Line: The modern world (modern society) is, as Adam Curtis’ films ‘The Trap (trilogy)’ and ‘Bitter Lake’ expose, heading for an intellectual ‘pseudo-reality’ coming from ‘game theory’ and a ‘free market economy’ that sees the individual human in Darwinian terms, as a self-interest pursuing, independent reason-driven system. Inverting the natural precedence of experience-based intuition over language-based intellection. The dysfunctional shift towards interpreting conflict in the simplistic terms of ‘good’ versus ‘evil’ is a manifestation of this unnatural inversion.
The relational theory of modern physics affirms the indigenous aboriginal understanding of ‘mitakuye oyasin’ (we are all related within a mutually interdependent relational web-of-life); e.g. see ‘Blackfoot Physics’ by F. David Peat. Given this understanding, moral judgement of individuals seen as ‘independent reason-driven systems’ is insane, and there is every reason to accept that ‘disturbing visitors’ in our present derive from our own actions in the remote past.. [this is where ‘restorative justice’ comes from].
Science would instead impute insanity to those who see ‘disturbing visitors’ that terrorize us in the present, as being the spawn of our own betrayals, in the remote past. Moral judgement based retributive justice; i.e. the Western justice system and its law enforcement and judicial/court systems, enjoy common ‘binary logic’ based foundations with science.
‘Don’t make excuses for terrorists’ is the scientific chant, supported by simple ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (binary, scientifically true-or-false) judgement that parallels the denial of the existence of ‘visitors’ from our past, which are meanwhile affirmed by Chrétien and Roche who are coming from their caring centres of self, and denied by George W. Bush, coming from his scientific/intellectual reasoning, that flatly rejects embracing in its entirety, the progressive development of a phenomenon.
If we want to avoid descending into a vicious spiral of moral judgement (‘good’ versus ‘evil’) guided devastation/dysfunction, then we shall have to, in our approach to understanding, resume embracing in its entirety, the progressive development of a phenomenon.
* * *
Appendix I: Incoherence:
Incoherence is where an actual result departs from an expected result due to the fact that the actual ‘reality’ differs from the ‘assumed reality’. For example, if a member of an ecosystem (in which relational influences are primary and the members form from relational confluences or nexa) intellectually conceives of ‘reality’ as a collection of independently-existing ‘beings’ that reside, operate and interact in a habitat that is independent of the inhabitants that reside, operate and interact within it, … the intellectually anticipated results of his actions and/or the results of the actions of others in this being-based (mechanical) ‘reality’ are going to differ from the ‘actual results’ (the results as actually ‘experienced’).
Incoherence, then, arises as a clash between our intellection and our experience.
Scientific intellection generates incoherence in that the ‘reality’ assumed by science is a being-based reality wherein the mechanical actions of independent part[icipant]s are seen as determining the resulting ‘state’ of this being-based world, while the physical reality of our natural experience is one of inclusion within a transforming relational activity continuum, a world given only once (Mach, Bohm, Schroedinger) in which material forms are secondary to the relational dynamics [they are variations in the relational structure of space].
Modern society deals with ‘incoherence’ in an upside-down manner; i.e. the difference between the actual and the expected result is anchored to the ‘intellectual reality’ rather than to the experiential reality, so that the ‘science-predicted result’ is accepted as ‘primary’ while the differing ‘actual result’ is explained in terms that ‘while the theory held true’, there were ancillary/secondary ‘side-effects’. For example, if the intellectual plan was to ‘remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power’ (to eliminate a trouble-maker), the actually experienced result may have been a transformation of relations rather than a ‘hole’ in the space where the Saddam Hussein ‘used to be’ which can now be filled with a new, deliberately chosen regime.
The ‘incoherence’ here derives from assuming a ‘being-based’ reality for activity that is transpiring within a ‘relational reality’; i.e. the ‘Saddam Hussein regime’ is NOT a thing that does stuff, as our noun-and-verb language-and-grammar constructs make it out to be, it is an ‘activity’ that is inherently ‘relational’ (it is a nexus of relational influences which can persist even while the participants that we erroneously attribute it to are continually coming and going).
McLuhan describes this in terms of ‘the [relational] medium is the message’ not the items of content and the meaning we give to them; e.g.
“Many people would be disposed to say that it was not the machine, but what one did with the machine, that was its meaning or message. In terms of the ways in which the machine altered our relations to one another and ourselves, it mattered not in the least whether it turned out cornflakes or Cadillacs.” — Marshall McLuhan, ‘Understanding Media’ [the transforming relational ‘medium is the message’]
There is an empty field in which there will be an operating factory when the construction project is completed. The operating factory will arise from the assertive actions of people assigned to the project.
But, in the physical reality of our natural experience, the world is only given once, as a transforming relational activity continuum, so that the primary ‘fabric’ of the community which is soon to have a new factory is one of interdependent [ecosystemic] relations undergoing continual transformation. It takes a whole community to raise a new factory (the flow of people and goods will transform, the routing of the highway will change and the old mom&pop coffee shops and service stations will be left to wither on the vine of the abandoned old highway. The sons of farmers will leave the farms to learn a specialty and get a high paid job in the factory, and agricultural production in the region will decline. The fish in the river will die from factory pollutants finding their way through the sewer systems into the river etc. etc. etc.).
Scientific thinking will call these developments ‘side-effects’. The science of economics now has the term ‘externalities’ (Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize in Economics 2003).
The science of biology takes the same approach in describing the effects of pharmaceutical medications designed, for example, to ‘cure depression’, insisting on the ‘truth’ of their cause-effect claim, and reciting a long list of ‘side-effects’ that are deemed ‘secondary’ to the primary fact, the elimination of the depression, as predicted.
This ‘reality’, in effect, has ‘theory correcting experience’ rather than vice-versa.
How we get things ‘upside-down’ in our ‘scientific/intellectual reality’ can be understood by reviewing some of the underpinnings of ‘scientific thinking’.
1. The concept of ‘cause-and-effect’ is based on CORRELATING before and after quantitative measurements of some form;
“The laws of nature are equations between the measurable elements α,β,γ,δ . . . . ω of phenomena. As nature is variable, the number of these equations is always less than the number of the elements. If we know all the values of α,β,γ,δ . . . . by which, for example, the values of λ,μ,ν . . . are given, we may call the group α,β,γ,δ . . . . the cause and the group λ,μ,ν . . . the effect. In this sense we may say that the effect is uniquely determined by the cause. The principle of sufficient reason, in the form, for instance, in which Archimedes employed it in the development of the laws of the lever, consequently asserts nothing more than that the effect cannot by any given set of circumstances be at once determined and undetermined. If two circumstances α and λ are connected, then, supposing all others are constant, a change of λ will be accompanied by a change of α, and as a general rule a change of α by a change of λ.” – Ernst Mach, ‘The Science of Mechanics: A Critical and Historical Account of its Development’
These measured variables are never sufficient to fully capture the dynamics of nature (nature is a transforming relational activity continuum, a world given only once). If scientists measure the concentration of DDT in the valley and measure the population of mosquitoes, a CORRELATION may be found suggesting that the population of mosquitoes is inversely proportional to the concentration of DDT (high DDT, few mosquitoes, low DDT, many mosquitoes). From such ‘correlations’, the concept of ‘cause-and-effect’ emerges; i.e. if we raise the concentration of DDT, we will CAUSE the result or EFFECT of a lowering of the population of mosquitoes.
This is a ‘logical truth’ within the being-based intellectual reality of science that does NOT correspond with the physical reality of our natural experience of inclusion in the transforming relational activity continuum.
Intellectual noun-and-verb constructs such as ‘drones kill rebel leaders and rogue regimes’ (such as Saddam Hussein’s) are true only in a logical sense given by a notional being-based reality in which the inhabitants are independently-existing material bodies that reside, operate, and interact in a habitat that is notionally independent of the inhabitants that reside, operate and interact within it. This INTELLECTUAL REALITY is NOT the physical reality of our natural experience of situational inclusion (as relational forms) within a transforming relational activity continuum. In the physical reality of our natural experience, Saddam Hussein’s regime is A RELATIONAL ACTIVITY which can persist even as the participants come and go, including the leader. The relational activity constituting the regime can persist as Kim Jong-il goes and Kim Jong-un comes; i.e. the regime is not a ‘thing’ that can be eliminated, leaving an empty crater where it formerly stood. It is only in being-based intellectual reality where noun-and-verb constructs such as ‘the regime caused such and such an effect’ have meaning.
In the physical reality of our natural experience, the regime is an activity within the transforming relational activity continuum. In this physical reality, it is impossible to ‘eliminate things’; i.e. the only possibility is relational transformation. One cannot construct a house in the forest without destroying some forest; i.e. ‘construction’ (creation) and ‘destruction’ are equally available ways for an observer to perceive the one dynamic of transformation. As Howard Zinn points out in ‘A People’s History of the United States’, one is free to write history so that the view of the colonizer dominates (we constructed a wonderful new world in America) or the view of the colonized indigenous peoples dominates (they destroyed a wonderful established world on Turtle Island).
This ‘choice’ is available in the being-based intellectual reality where there can only be ‘assertive actions’ on the part of ‘beings’ that notionally reside, operate and interact within a habitat that is notionally ‘independent’ of the inhabitants that reside, operate and interact within it. If space were understood to be ‘relational’ rather than ‘absolute’, the ‘choice’ would disappear as ‘creation’ and ‘destruction’ would be subsumed within ‘transformation’, and ‘independent things’ would give way to ‘relational forms in a transforming relational activity continuum’. However, the intellectual imposing of absolute space and absolute time, which is the necessary intellectual action for creating a being-based reality, … greatly simplifies the intellectual articulation of physical phenomena (by reducing them from mutually interdependent relational phenomena to local being-based cause-effect actions and results).
How ‘real’ are ‘independent beings’, or, how ‘real’ is the ‘absolute space’ that the notion of ‘independent being’ rests dependently upon?
“Space is another framework we impose upon the world” . . . ” . . . here the mind may affirm because it lays down its own laws; but let us clearly understand that while these laws are imposed on our science, which otherwise could not exist, they are not imposed on Nature.” . . . “Euclidian geometry is . . . the simplest, . . . just as the polynomial of the first degree is simpler than a polynomial of the second degree.” . . . “the space revealed to us by our senses is absolutely different from the space of geometry.” . . . “Finally, our Euclidean geometry is itself only a sort of convention of language; mechanical facts might be enunciated with reference to a [relational] non-Euclidean space which would be a guide less convenient than, but just as legitimate as, our ordinary space ; the enunciation would thus become much more complicated, but it would remain possible. Thus absolute space, absolute time, geometry itself, are not conditions which impose themselves on mechanics ; all these things are no more antecedent to mechanics than the French language is logically antecedent to the verities one expresses in French.” – Henri Poincare, Science and Hypothesis
While representations are arbitrary in ‘intellectual reality’, that does not mean that we cannot ‘ground’ our individual and collective operations in ‘the physical reality of our natural experience of situational inclusion in the transforming relational activity continuum’. As Poincaré observes elsewhere, systems of logic (scientific theory) would be barren without being fertilized by experience-based intuition; i.e. the systems of logic (scientific theory) must have some psycho-physical parallelism with the physics of our natural experience, as attested to by our experience-based intuition. Our experience based intuition affirms that ‘DDT kills mosquitoes’ and ‘drones kill rogue regimes’ are true, but in a very simplistic being-based intellectual reality. That is, our intuition screams out to us;
“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 ‘real world’ or the ‘physical reality of our natural experience’ is a transforming relational activity continuum that is beyond the simple noun-and-verb constructs the give assertive (what independent things do) representations within a being-based intellectual reality.
Returning to the question of why we put the scientific/logical views of intellectual reality into precedence over physical reality of our natural experience, … this which is the source of ‘incoherence’ in the world, … we have to examine the utility of generalization and prediction, as in; How We Use Theory to ‘Correct’ the Physical Reality of Experience
It is impossible to predict what is going to unfold in the physical reality of our natural experience of inclusion in a transforming relational activity continuum;
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
However, it is possible to generalize what may unfold, on the basis of similar configurations (as we spray more DDT, the mosquito population declines proportionately). Of course, as we know in the case of microbes which evolve quickly relative to humans, because one microbial generation/life-cycle may be only minutes or hours, … the anti-biotic aka pesticide may be more or less the same but the biota we are spraying with it may be transformed by it, into even more bothersome-to-humans biota.
So long as we stay in ‘being-based intellectual reality’, we are in effect, making logical truths, however incomplete, ‘primary’, and using these to ‘correct our experience’. Thus, rather than acknowledging the natural primacy of the incredibly complex physical reality of our experience (in the transforming relational activity continuum), we continue to elevate to unnatural primacy the representation of dynamics in terms of ‘independent things’ that notionally reside, operate and interact within a habitat that is notionally ‘independent’ of the inhabitants that reside, operate and interact within it.
It is our persistence in this, via the activities of our institutions of government, commerce and justice, that gives rise to persisting ‘incoherence’, the practice of correcting the gap that arises between intellectually predicted results and actually experienced results, using the same intellectual prediction scheme that was responsible for the gap. The name of the intellectual prediction scheme is ‘science’ and we are using ‘science’ to ‘correct our experience’ rather than vice versa.
* * *
Appendix II: How We Use Theory to ‘Correct’ the Physical Reality of Experience
(excerpt from ‘Science and Hypothesis’ by Henri Poincaré)
“A pupil has read a certain number on his thermometer; he has taken no precaution; no matter, he has read it, and if it is only the fact that counts, here is a reality of the same rank as the peregrinations of King John Lackland. Why is the fact that this pupil has made this reading of no interest, while the fact that a skilled physicist had made another reading might be on the contrary very important! It is because from the first reading we could not infer anything. What then is a good experiment? It is that which informs us of something besides an isolated fact ; it is that which enables us to foresee, that is, that which enables us to generalize.
For without generalization foreknowledge is impossible. The circumstances under which one has worked will never reproduce themselves all at once. The observed action then will never recur ; the only thing that can be affirmed is that under analogous circumstances an analogous action will be produced. In order to foresee, then, it is necessary to invoke at least analogy, that is to say, already then to generalize.
No matter how timid one may be, still it is necessary to interpolate. Experiment gives us only a certain number of isolated points. We must unite these by a continuous line. This is a veritable generalization. But we do more ; the curve that we shall trace will pass between the observed points and near these points ; it will not pass through these points themselves. Thus one does not restrict himself to generalizing the experiments, but corrects them ; and the physicist who should try to abstain from these corrections and really be content with the bare experiment, would be forced to enunciate some very strange laws.
The bare facts, then, would not be enough for us; and that is why we must have science ordered, or rather organized.
It is often said experiments must be made without a preconceived idea. That is impossible. Not only would it make all experiment barren, but that would be attempted which could not be done. Every one carries in his mind his own conception of the world, of which he can not so easily rid himself. We must, for instance, use language ; and our language is made up only of preconceived ideas and can not be otherwise. Only these are unconscious preconceived ideas, a thousand times more dangerous than the others.
Shall we say that if we introduce others, of which we are fully conscious, we shall only aggravate the evil? I think not. I believe rather that they will serve as counterbalances to each other — I was going to say as antidotes ; they will in general accord ill with one another — they will come into conflict with one another, and thereby force us to regard things under different aspects. This is enough to emancipate us. He is no longer a slave who can choose his master.
Thus, thanks to generalization, each fact observed enables us to foresee a great many others ; only we must not forget that the first alone is certain, that all others are merely probable. No matter how solidly founded a prediction may appear to us, we are never absolutely sure that experiment will not contradict it, if we undertake to verify it. The probability, however, is often so great that practically we may be content with it. It is far better to foresee even without certainty than not to foresee at all.
One must, then, never disdain to make a verification when opportunity offers. But all experiment is long and difficult ; the workers are few ; and the number of facts that we need to foresee is immense. Compared with this mass the number of direct verifications that we can make will never be anything but a negligible quantity.
Of this few that we can directly attain, we must make the best use ; it is very necessary to get from every experiment the greatest possible number of predictions, and with the highest possible degree of probability. The problem is, so to speak, to increase the yield of the scientific machine.”
— Henri Poincaré, ‘Science and Hypothesis’