Berkeley: How Science Is Displacing Spirituality



This is one of those stories like Copernicus told; a simple suggestion as to how we are missing something that is with us everyday; another way of seeing the same things we are seeing; another way that ‘makes more sense’ than our current established way of seeing it.


I would call this story; ‘How spirituality is displaced by science’, and increasingly so, as scientific thinking infuses ever deeper into the fabric of everday life.


This story ‘feels’ something like ‘The Da Vinci Code’.  There is the suggestion that something historical is being hidden, that what we have come to believe about the rise of science is concealing the true story.  There is also a murder in this story, the murder of spirituality.


In order to follow and assimilate this story, one must open the door to one’s own spiritual capacities.


I’m not sure where to start this story, which threads its way through twenty years of psycho-philosophical investigation, …  so I’ll start with a chronology of personal investigations leading up to the current state of illumination.  My intuition says that I should just present the plain facts since the spiritual aspect, to me, is like ‘the Tao’, … something that we can feel and experience but which is beyond being directly articulable.   Understandings that are spiritual, in essence, are something that is to be awakened in the reader.


In about 1993, I maneuvered my way, in my work, to undertake a study of ‘exceptionally performing teams’.  I had been asked to develop a workshop for producing managers [within a petroleum exploration and production operational setting] on ‘how better to invest in ‘information technology’.   My idea was to explore exceptional team operations, to see how they were ‘drawing in technology’ into their operations, so that the investigation didn’t have to start from the various current strains of technology and specify ‘how these should be used’.


A lot of things fell out of this investigation, and a successful workshop was developed, which was run two or three times prior to truncation by a major company re-organization.  But there was an important ‘philosophical finding’ that I was left ‘holding in my hands’, that needed to ‘go somewhere’, to be communicated and then more deeply understood,  but I did not know where to take it, or exactly how to share it, since it was very subtle.


My early ‘retirement’ in March 1, 1996, was strongly influenced by my desire to ‘work on’ a continuing investigation into this ‘philosophical finding’ and developing ways to generally share it.  One place I took it was to ‘Complexity’, the Journal of the Santa Fe Institute which was a new ‘university’ orienting to the ‘sciences of complexity’.   This institute was created by scientists-philosophers who felt that universities were pre-occupied with ‘linear theory’ and that ‘nonlinear dynamics’ was being largely ignored.


This seemed like a very appropriate ‘home’ for my ‘orphaned’ philosophical finding and I tried to capture it in an essay entitled  ‘Complexity and the ‘Learning Organization‘:  Addressing team performance in new science terms’.  The ‘new science’ referred to modern physics, relativity and quantum physics, which opened the door to ‘re-connecting’ the ‘team’ and the ‘environment’ that it was situationally included in, in the manner of [and this came to my attention later] 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.”


That is, the ‘orphaned philosophical finding’ I was left ‘holding in my hands’ was that the ‘identity’ of the exceptionally performing team ‘blurred’ by virtue of its building resonance into its interfacing with the world [with its host community; its suppliers, customers, service contractors, employee families etc.].


The orthodox ‘best practice teams’ were more like precision engines, ‘things-in-themselves’ with clear stand-alone identities and well defined component parts [employee roles] while the three teams that were identified as ‘exceptionally performing’ that we [myself and a colleague] ended up ‘investigating’ were distinguished by BREAKING ALL THE RULES, having thrown away their business cards [abandoned their defined credentials and position descriptions] and put the organization chart in the blender [The largest of the three teams, ‘team X’, was comprised of 150 members and used an unused aircraft hanger to have their ‘general assemblies’] .   They had also blurred the interfacing between their ‘self’ and the ‘others’ they were engaging with, dragging portions of the activities of the others inside of their team operations and letting part of their own activities be drawn into the operations of the others.  This was an operation in which everyone’s spirits soared.  In fact, one of the hourly union workers who was made a full member of the team like everyone, extolled the process saying how happy he was to work in this team-X environment since it had ‘put his head back on his shoulders’.

[To put this person’s comment into context, hourly workers in typical operating situations are simply ‘told what to do’ and are not privy to what the operations are all about much less the business, and in team-X’s reinventing of itself, everyone was given instruction in all aspects of the operation, including the financial/business aspects, and union workers found themselves sitting beside engineers after hours, on their own hook, watching the vital statistics of the operation on computer monitors and using their on-site knowledge to kibitz on how to solve performance problems and devise performance improvements].


So the philosophical problem was at the same time a quasi-mathematical problem.  As always, headquarters management scrutinized the production of all of the teams, giving rise to a ‘system performance’ curve as a function of ‘time’.   This curve was outstanding in the case of the team under study, and seemed to be almost doubling the performance of the best ‘normal’ teams.  Headquarters management, far from the teams themselves, were ecstatic and naturally wanted to promote the members of the team most responsible for this remarkably high production, and clone the team.


The members of the exceptional team realized that HQ management was ‘getting it wrong’, the high performance was not coming from them, the team components/members in the sense of the team as a ‘thing-in-itself’ with its own locally originating, internal process driven and directed ‘production’, … the exceptional performance was coming from the team’s deliberate attempt to be defined more from the outside-inward, by the needs of those they were engaging with.  They were moving away from being locally defined; i.e. they were moving towards letting the defining of the team = ‘the universe expressing itself’, in the sense that the web of relational engaging they were included in was influencing them outside-inwardly at the same time they were influencing the relational web inside-outwardly [Mach’s principle].


What ‘the numbers said’ was clear in a historical graph of production.  The production of ‘team X’ had climbed up to where it was doubling the performance.  Even after describing the ‘complex source’ of this rising production, headquarters management regressed to the view that the rise in production had to be attributed to ‘improvements in the team’; i.e. improved skills and commitment of the team members, improved cooperation, teamwork, synergy within the team, improved leadership in the team.  In other words, the increase in production, they attributed to the team seen as a ‘thing-in-itself’ with its own locally originating, internal components and processes driven and directed productive behaviour.


Headquarters’ management selected those team members who most impressed them, promoted them and transferred them to other operations so as to ‘clone’ this high performing ‘team X’.   But it didn’t happen.   It turned out that it had been a rare exception in team X’s middle management having let team X ‘break all the rules’ and blur their positional role plays within the team and blur the boundaries where the team operations ended and the supplier, customer, service contractor operations began.  The middle management in the case of team-X not only provided this umbrella protection beneath which team X was breaking all the rules of engagement, but in their [middle management’s] interfacing with headquarters management, they translated everything arising in the new mode of team play into the orthodox format thus presenting a continuous picture of what was going [in the usual numbers based format].  Team X could not be cloned because such umbrella protection and translation was a rare item and it had been a necessary prerequisite to what had been the spontaneous emergence of the exceptionally performing ‘team X’.


The philosophical problem I was left holding on to was;

‘how does one explain that the source of ‘local’, ‘visible’, ‘material’ physical results derives from purely relational dynamics; i.e. from influences that are ‘non-local’, ‘non-visible’ and ‘non-material’ as seemed to be the case with ‘team X’?


The associated mathematical problem was;

‘how does one show that the bending in the curve [team X’s production as a function of time] comes NOT from the ‘point’ that is describing the trajectory, that little fiery spark, the moving point-source genie that determines the direction of each new increment, according to the calculus?


Of course, my 1997 essay, ‘Complexity and the ‘Learning Organization’’ was an attempt, as if by a man who had no tongue for it, to share the questions and formulate some sort of explanation.


Over the next sixteen years from 1997 to 2013, I worked every day, almost, putting in well over 40 hours per week almost without exception, to try to get to the bottom of these questions, which as I say, were only in implicit form in my mind, and not as clearly articulated as I have just formulated them above.


A whole series of essays began back then which I posted on my website  For a glimpse at what my investigations into these questions led me to write in the three year 1998 to 2000 time frame, click ‘here’.  This pace has pretty much been sustained into the present.  There were also presentations, one jointly with Martine Dodds Taljaard (Stellenbosch University, SA) at the International Society of the Systems Sciences in Toronto (2000);



There was another presentation, jointly with Jacques Rainville (Montréal Abenaki-French artist/musician/actor – pool-partner/friend) at the Subtle Technologies conference in Toronto in 2001;


 In the year 2000 I also ‘connected’ with Douglas E. Caldwell, a biologist (University of Toronto, later U. Saskatchewan) whose research into the evolution of multi-species microbial communities yielded important ‘non-Darwinian’ results, and A.D.M. (Alan) Rayner, a biologist at the University of Bath, U.K. and former President of the British Mycological Society whose research also yielded fascinating ‘non-Darwinian’ results.  Together, and with Nigerian mathematician Lere Shakunle (Berlin) whose ‘transfigural’ mathematics led to the same ‘non-Darwinian’ evolutionary implications, we began an internet based ‘research circle’ into the topic which we called ‘inclusionality’.  Also ‘plugged in’ directly or indirectly were Howard Ward (LA Blues musician) and Nicholas French (Dallas based Jungian psychologist).


Many others, in spite of our line of investigation being rare, were linked into this initiative (particularly aboriginal acquaintances in addition to Jacques Rainville who brought in their knowledge of the medicine wheel and the ‘circle process’, and these mentions are not an attempt to provide an investigative history but are simply to give a flavour of where the pursuit of these questions was leading and what sort of ideas/understandings were feeding into it.


To continue this narrative to the ‘point of epiphany’;


Martine Dodds-Taljaard (Martine died of cancer in June, 2001 in South Africa) had been an enthusiast of Friedrich Nietzsche, and her studies had centred on his philosophical works.  My continuing investigation of these questions included exploring the thoughts of Nietzsche and in particular, the very basic thought that our belief in language and grammar was like a belief in God.   Here again was the idea that the headquarters’ management were unable to ‘get beyond’, the idea that the ‘productive results’ of the team jumpstarted from nowhere else but from the team as a local, independently-existing thing-in-itself’;


“Our judgement has us conclude that every change must have an author”;–but this conclusion is already mythology: it separates that which effects from the effecting. If I say “lightning flashes,” I have posited the flash once as an activity and a second time as a subject, and thus added to the event a being that is not one with the event but is rather fixed, “is” and does not “become.”–To regard an event as an “effecting,” and this as being, that is the double error, or interpretation, of which we are guilty.” – Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power’, 531


In this statement of ‘double error’, the story of the productive results of ‘team X’ re-emerges, and indeed, the general concept wherein we think of events as ‘results’ that must have a ‘causal author’.  Why so!?


Before we leave it to investigate more foundational assumptions wherein this ‘double error’ crops up, the double error can be elaborated on as it was by Alan Watts, who points to implications of ‘the occult’ and to ‘superstition’;


“As soon as one sees that separate things are fictitious, it becomes obvious that nonexistent things cannot “perform” actions. The difficulty is that most languages are arranged so that actions (verbs) have to be set in motion by things (nouns), and we forget that rules of grammar are not necessarily rules, or patterns, of nature. This, which is nothing more than a convention of grammar, is also responsible for (or, better, “goeswith”) absurd puzzles as to how spirit governs matter, or mind moves body. How can a noun, which is by definition not action, lead to action?” —Alan Watts, ‘Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are’


What Watts is implying is that, in order for us to believe that ‘actions’ springs forth from ‘being’, we have to be superstitious and suppose that there is a God-like power of ‘jumpstart creation’ in this local, independently-existing thing-in-itself ‘being’.


What he is pointing to here is something that lies in the foundations of the difference between the Western worldview and the aboriginal and Eastern worldview; i.e. the difference between understanding the world-space as an energy-charged, relational-spatial ‘Plenum’ expressing itself through dynamic forms that are like storm-cells in the flow of the atmosphere, the ‘nexa’ of influences in the flow.  This view sees ‘things’ as being a manifestation of ‘the universe expressing itself’, and this is indeed Erwin Schrödinger’s world view where the human self is a ‘variation in the structure of relational space’, setting up the relationship as in Vedantic belief [also where Watts was coming from] where Atman [personal self] = Brahman [eternal self, the living continuum].


The Western worldview, on the other hand, is one in which ‘things’ are understood as local, independently-existing material systems, and ‘organisms’ such as ‘humans’ are understood by science as ‘local, visible, material, independently-existing systems with their own locally originating, internal components and processes driven and directed dynamics [including ‘their development’ and ‘their behaviour’] which run about and interact within a ‘void space’; i.e. an absolute space and absolute time reference-measuring-frame-come-operating theatre.


To Nietzsche, the first part of the ‘double error’ was to conceive of a dynamic feature in the flow as having arisen from some ‘intention’ and the second part was to impute to the dynamic human storm-cell in the dynamic flow, on the basis of the static appearance of the persisting human form in our viewing-frame of observation, as a ‘thing-in-itself’, a ‘local, visible, material being’ that would then serve as the author of its own purportedly intended, action-determined results.


The error is not only in ‘inventing being’ where there is no justification in physical experience for so doing since our physical experience informs us that πάντα ῥει [panta rhei, everything is in flux, constantly changing], but also in imputing an ‘intention’ explaining emerging events.   As Nietzsche further says;


“[Descartes’ ‘I think therefore I am’ reflects] … our grammatical custom that adds a doer to every deed. In short, this is not merely the substantiation of a fact but a logical-metaphysical postulate” … “That which gives the extraordinary firmness to our belief in causality is not the great habit of seeing one occurrence following another but our inability to interpret events otherwise than as events caused by intentions. It is belief in the living and thinking as the only effective force–in will, in intention–it 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 attribute not a great stupidity?” – Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power’ 484


So, in Nietzsche’s and Watt’s terms, and consistent with Mach and Bohm and Schrödinger and others, … it is superstition to believe in an ‘occult force’ that inhabits local absolute ‘material beings’, giving them a ‘will’ that jumpstarts their development and behaviour so that emergent events, are re-cast as the ‘results’ of their ‘intention’ -driven actions.  Nietzsche sums this up with;

“I am afraid we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’

What language-and-grammar based notional ‘occult force’ that provides local in-situ jumpstarting powers to explain how the world is animated, is something that science has built into itself, by way of the assumption that ‘the present depends only on the immediate past’.  As Poincaré recounts;

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.

In other words, we have built this ‘superstition’ that occult forces inhabit our notional ‘beings’ so as to animate the world,… into mainstream science.   That is, we have built artificial Gods into the language and grammar of science.


But what have we lost in the process?   As in the ‘team X’ example, we have lost the understanding of the local dynamics that we characterize as the local team and its internal components and processes driven and directed behaviour, as being ‘the universe expressing itself’.  We have lost track of ‘Mach’s principle’ whereby; “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.”


That is, by inventing ‘beings’ and infusing occult like powers into them, we have lost touch with the physical reality of our experience wherein we are the universe expressing itself; i.e. like storm-cells in the flowing relational Plenum, we are the agents of sensory perception of the relational-spatial Plenum we are included in.  Our Atman = our Brahman.


This idea of internal central authority and direction, which we have built into our science is coming to the point of collapse.  We infused there in the concept of the biological cell and while our encyclopedias continue to insist that the cell’s behaviour is directed by an internal central authority called ‘the nucleus’, this concept has been over-taken by the view that the cell, rather than being a ‘unit of being’ is instead a ‘unit of perceiving’.


If you look up ‘cell nucleus’ on wikipedia, you get;


“The function of the nucleus is to maintain the integrity of these genes and to control the activities of the cell by regulating gene expression — the nucleus is, therefore, the control center of the cell.”


Whereas, in Bruce Lipton’s essay ‘The New Biology’  one reads;

“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 ‘bottom’ line for Lipton is that our conception of a biological cell is shifting from a ‘thing-in-itself’ or ‘unit of being’ to a ‘unit of perception’, the sensing/experiencing ‘eyes’ of an environment expressing itself thus;


“Receptor IMPs [Integral Membrane Proteins]  “see” or are “aware” of their environment and effector IMPs create physical responses that translate environmental signals into an appropriate biological behavior. The IMP complex controls behavior, and through its affect upon regulatory proteins, these IMPs also control gene expression… The IMP complexes provide the cell with “awareness of the environment through physical sensation,” which by dictionary definition represents perception. Each receptor-effector protein complex collectively constitutes a “unit of perception.” –Bruce Lipton


A very similar ‘topology’ of ‘becoming’ starting from the earth as habitat, has been expressed by Peter Westbroek in ‘Civilizing Earth’;


“A growing chorus of philosophers and opinion makers is claiming that, since the ideologies of the twentieth century melted away, we are in need of a new ‘big story’. This is exactly what the fundamental sciences provide. The vision inspired by Earth System Science may seem scary at first; but it is a liberating experience to leave our cocoons, become aware of the immeasurable depth our our roots, and orient our lives in agreement with the real world. We should not forget that, when the Apollo 8 astronauts observed the Earth from deep space, it was the Earth seeing herself for the first time in 4.6 billion years – through our eyes.” —Peter Westbroek


Hurricane Katrina is engendered by the earth to engage with the earth, itself, so as to transform the earth and itself at the same time.  The ‘storm-cells’ like Katrina have a dynamical behaviour that is NOT directed out of the interior of their ‘self’, as if they ‘really were’ local, material ‘beings’ as language and grammar pretends, but is instead the habitat expressing itself as in Mach’s principle; “The dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants.”


Could it be that we have infused this superstition of occult powers inhabitant notional ‘beings’ as an alternative view of the animating source of the world dynamic, … into the foundations of science, so that as our trust in science as the explainer of dynamics, both social dynamic and the dynamics of nature in general, has grown, superstition has hijacked our the understanding of our natural experience?


If so, where would we have infused this superstition and belief in the occult power of ‘being’?

Berkeley: science's hijacking of spirituality




Berkeley’s critique of Newton’s fluxions (calculus) in 1734, I had known about for some time in terms of Berkeley’s famous quote;


“And what are these Fluxions? The Velocities of evanescent Increments? And what are these same evanescent Increments? They are neither finite Quantities nor Quantities infinitely small, nor yet nothing. May we not call them the Ghosts of departed Quantities?”


But this quote touches very close to the philosophical and mathematical ‘orphaned finding/questions’ that I was carrying around; i.e.


The philosophical problem I was left holding on to was;

‘how does one explain that the source of ‘local’, ‘visible’, ‘material’ physical results derives from purely relational dynamics; i.e. from influences that are ‘non-local’, ‘non-visible’ and ‘non-material’ as seemed to be the case with ‘team X’?


The associated mathematical problem was;

‘how does one show that the bending in the curve [team X’s production as a function of time] come NOT from the ‘point’ that is describing the trajectory, that little fiery spark, the moving point-source genii that determines the direction of each new increment, according to the calculus?


So I naturally sought to deepen my understanding of Berkeley’s critique of the foundations of calculus [the foundations of science, really, since science depends on concepts developed in mathematical physics, which, as Poincaré explains in the earlier quote, built into itself a dependency on the notion that ‘the present depends only on the immediate past’; i.e. in order to understand the unfolding ‘future’, according to this simplification built into science,  it is not necessary to understand the entire unfolding of phenomena, only the immediately previous state of the system of the world.  [the contributions of the ancestors have no lingering value, so says science].


I didn’t trust this one at all since my experience as a pool player [pool, to me, mirrors a lot of real-life symmetries] told me that as one acted, ostensibly to achieve some particular result, one was at the same time transforming the relational configuration of things.   More than this, it was always good strategy to sacrifice the achievement of particular results to the ‘conditioning’ of the relational configuration so that it would by-and-by become more fruitful in its results-giving.  In pool, the saying is “It’s not what you make, it’s what you leave”, meaning, its not the results you produce in your turn, its how the relational configuration has been transformed since that determines what results it will continue to give.

In the same vein, as Marshall McLuhan had observed;

“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’]

That is, our view of dynamics always gives us these two alternatives, to see dynamics in terms of ‘what things do’, or to see them in the more comprehensive sense of the continually transforming relational spatial Plenum.  Space is not empty.  The space we act in is continually transforming.  It doesn’t stop for us to build a factory and insert it into the continually transforming space.  Our actions are like those of the sailboater in unending turbulence where we derive our power and steerage from the flow we are included in.  This flow does not take instruction from us and accommodate our powerboater moves.  As Emerson says, the flow not only inhabits us, it creates us.  And as Nietzsche says, it is our ego that wants to invert this natural order of things.

These same relations as in the game of pool etc. show up in the social dynamic.  Parents create a nurturing space for their children that transcends their direct interactions with their children.  The mother keeps the cookie jar stocked with cookies, the linen closet stocked with freshly cleaned towels, the clothes freshly washed, the floors cleaned, and the father brings supplies into the family living space and removes rubbish etc.   The space becomes nurturing to the children and their friends and guests.  The dynamic is one in which the dynamics of the parents-as-inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat/living-space at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat/living-space are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants [not only the parents but also children and friends].  Mach’s principle applies, and it is not possible to understand this dynamic in terms of ‘the present depends only on the immediate past’.  It might well be that the now deceased grandfather put in the vegetable garden that continues to help re-stock the pantry.


So the more general case is that people condition the relational space we share inclusion in at the same time as ‘people deliberately do things’.  As in the game of pool, both of these views are available to us at once.  The same is true as we move in the flow of the freeway, where the relational spaces that open up to us elicit our movement into them, and ‘our movements’, understood as contributing to the transforming of the relational configuration we share inclusion in, are, at the same time, furnishing us with spatial-relational openings that elicit and orchestrate our individual movements.  We are aware that our movements relative to others can either trap or liberate others.  We can keep another driver trapped in behind a truck in the slow lane, or we can back off to open up space to liberate him.  If we are in a heavily loaded truck going up a steep mountain grade on a two-lane-each way freeway, by creeping up the slope side-by-side with another heavily loaded truck, we can close down any openings and trap many others behind us.  The point is that, as in pool, our actions can not only be seen in the simple sense of ‘producing results’, our actions can be seen as conditioning the common relational space we share inclusion in, which is [due to its relational-spatial character], at the same time conditioning our actions.


Some people put the results orientation first which screws up the conditioning of the relational space for others, while some people suspend any results orientation and commit their efforts to cultivating a nurturing space.  This different orientation has been noted by feminists in the phrase; ‘My grandfather was a famous engineer; my grandmother had no name.’


All of this hangs in the back of my mind in coming back to Berkeley’s critique of Newton’s fluxions.  Like, why did Berkeley address the critique to an ‘infidel mathematician’?


Was he not speaking of this reduction of dynamics due to the assumption that ‘the present depends only on the immediate past’, an assumption that science builds into its models that says that the contributing of our ancestors died with our ancestors?  But is it no so that the ice that was deposited thousands of years ago continues to moderate air temperatures today?


We have already seen that the world dynamic seen as a continually transforming relational space is like an ‘energy bank’ that we invest in and ‘charge up’ and that we ‘make withdrawals from’ for kinetic activity?  Didn’t the plants and animals of the ecosphere contribute during the passage of eons in the continuing evolution of our earthly commons to the reserves of petroleum that we now draw from?


That is, as the farmer drives his fossil-fuel powered harvester, is it fair to understand what is going on in the double error terms of — ‘the farmer farms’ — or,  ‘the farming team produces results’, and ‘the pear tree produces pears’?  What about the sun and the soil and atmosphere and the rainfall?   Does the pear author its own development on the branch?  As Emerson says in ‘The Method of Nature’, ‘the genius of nature not only inhabits the organism, it creates the organism’.  In other words, in spite of the fact that science imputes development and behaviour to jumpstart out of notional [linguistically idealized] ‘things-in-themselves’, the influences that are purely relational; i.e. ‘non-local’, ‘non-visible’ and ‘non-material’ are the ur-source of dynamics that manifest to us as ‘local’, ‘visible’, ‘material’.   It is not that the pool player ‘doesn’t know’ that he is charging and discharging the potentials in the spatial-relational configuration as he takes his turn, it is just that, like headquarters managers, all we can MEASURE is the local, visible, material ‘results’ which are the ‘smaller story’ of dynamics in general.


Without being a religious person myself, but as one who deeply appreciates how living forms can infuse nurturance into our common living forms-engendering relational space, as understood in the aboriginal belief tradition, I can understand why Berkeley, the Bishop of Cloyne, might use the adjective ‘infidel’ to describe the development of a system of mathematics for modeling/describing the dynamics of nature, in which the notion ‘the present depends only on the immediate past’ is infused into its most basic foundations.


A few days ago, in delving more deeply into Berkeley’s critique of calculus, I discovered that Berkeley had come across the same ‘double error’ pattern in the reasoning that forms the foundations of calculus, that Nietzsche had discovered in the ‘psychology of language and grammar’ and that was also in evidence in the investigation of exceptionally-performing teams.


The two ‘mutually compensatory’ errors, again, are;


1.  The capture of unfolding events in the sense of their being the ‘result’ of some wilful ‘intention’, and,


2. The invention of a notional ‘being’ to provide a logical, local, jumpstart ‘intentional authoring source’ for the ‘results’.


In terms of reconstituting a mathematical curve/trajectory with differential calculus, any particular point on the curve could be deemed the launch pad for the succeeding increment to the trajectory.  The succeeding increment, which one could make as small as you like, can be found by finding the slope to the curve in a small interval about the point.  This implies the notion that each point of the curve is inhabited by the intention of incrementing itself (error 1.).  The point can then be imputed to have local ‘being’ inhabited by the intention to produce the next result (error 2.).   The curve as seen by calculus undergoes a kind of Darwinian, rather than Nietzschean/Lamarckian evolution which is purely inside-outwardly progressing and assumes no outside-inward influence from the space it is included in.  This is mathematically correct, but science is about using mathematics to model physical phenomena.

The trajectory of a vehicle in the flow of the freeway can certainly be understood and reproduced as a series of differential increments, but as drives, we understand that the relational spatial openings orchestrated and shaped our assertive trajectory, and while the trajectory can be measured and recorded, the outside-inward non-local, non-visible, non-material relational openings vanish as soon as we look at the trajectory.   This is because the trajectory renders the movement of an individual entity relative to absolute space and absolute time, whereas the movement of the included experient in the flow is orchestrated and shaped outside-inwardly by the transforming relational-spatial openings of possibility-to-move.  The included experient’s intention is to rise to the occasion as space opens up for him, the trajectory he happens to lay down (e.g. if he had paint on his tires) is a degenerate account of his experience; i.e. we can say that ‘he did it’ but as in our sailboater lives, what we do is relative to the relational possibilities that open up for us.   Team-X flipped from the ‘standard’ powerboater mode in which the team determines it’s trajectory [or so it makes believe] to the sailboater mode in which it accepts the ‘call of the habitat’ to take its place in the scheme of things, to let its individual and collective behaviours be orchestrated and shaped by opening of possibilities in the relational space it is included in.  Yes, it still left a trajectory as its production results attested to and it was an impressive trajectory, but it was not inside-outwardly forced by the team as a local thing-in-itself machine.

Calculus similarly understands a curve/trajectory in terms of increments that push off successively from the immediate past.    As Poincaré says in describing ‘the origin of mathematical physics’, the time derivative IS the assumption that ‘the present depends only on the immediate past’.  This simplifies things very nicely, but it bears no resemblance to the physical reality of our experience, wherein the remote past continues to directly influence the present [e.g. as in the development of an embryo].


Berkeley showed how Newton had erred in his calculation of the differential increment, but by an amount that was exactly compensated for in the error in defining the contribution of the ‘being’ responsible for the increment.  [see ‘Casting out Beams: Berkeley’s Criticism of the Calculus‘ by Eugene C. Boman]

There are simplifications here that don’t map into our physical world experience.  E.g. in moving in the flow of the freeway, an incremental movement could be seen to be due either to the opening of a relational-spatial corridor [‘negative causality’] or to the assertive action of the driver [‘positive causality’].  By determining the increment by way of the assumption that ‘the present depends only on the immediate past’, we are always looking back to the terminus of the last increment to attach our current increment to and so build the curve.   In reality, the increment may be induced by the opening of a relational-spatial corridor propitious to a forward increment.   By the same token, Pasteur, on his deathbed conceded that Antoine Béchamp had been right, that the proliferation of germs was the RESULT of illness rather than the CAUSE; i.e. that the causality was negative rather than positive.  His words were ‘le microbe n’est rien, le terrain est tout’ (the microbe is nothing, the [balance] of the terrain is everything).  Diseases that were clearly deficiency induced waited decades if not centuries to be acknowledged;

“The evidence from disease would have led sooner to a conception of these food constituents and their functions but for a not unnatural bias in thought.  It is difficult to implant the idea of disease as due to deficiency.  Disease is so generally associated with positive agents — the parasite, the toxin, the materies morbi— that the thought of the pathologist turns naturally to such positive associations and seems to believe with difficulty in causation prefixed by a minus sign.” — Medical Research Committee, Report on the present state of knowledge concerning accessory food factors (vitamines), Special Report No. 38, London, H.M.S.O, 1919.  Cited in ‘The Germ Theory, Beriberi, and the Deficiency Theory of Disease’ by K. Codell Carter 

Calculus is an embodiment of the assumption, in no way physically justified, that ‘the present depends only on the immediate past’.  If the relational matrix developed by team-X opens up the floodgates of opportunity for the team, the natural flow will source the accelerated animation of the team activity.  The accelerated activity of the team corresponds to the ‘productivity numbers’.  The headquarters management will see the accelerated activity of the team members and excellent ‘team production numbers’.   Like calculus, they will be right for the wrong reasons;

The two ‘mutually compensatory’ errors, again, are;


1.  The capture of unfolding events in the sense of their being the ‘result’ of some wilful ‘intention’, and,


2. The invention of a notional ‘being’ to provide a logical, local, jumpstart ‘intentional authoring source’ for the ‘results’.

In all of this, we have the exact overlay of what happened in the different ways of understanding the nature of ‘team X’.  The members of the team whose spirits were lifted by this mode of operation in which the team ‘became one with the world around them’ understood the dynamic of the team as being the environmental dynamic expressing itself.  The headquarters management understood the team by its ‘productive results’ and when they saw those ‘results’ rise, there was no other place for them to go, in their mind, to explain those results, but to the team as a ‘thing-in-itself’ with its own locally originating, internal components and processes driven and directed behaviour.  And this was of course ‘true’ so long as one held the ‘identity’ of the team to be a concrete thing.  But the identity of a storm-cell in the flow of the atmosphere is not a ‘concrete thing’.  In fact, in a fluid-dynamical world, ‘identity’ is nonsense.

“So [since the problem of certainty in identity such as A=A is handled, in Euclidian geometry, by invoking the notion of invariable solids] “objects” are implicitly assumed to be invariable bodies. Therefore the axioms of geometry already contain an irreducible assumption which does not follow from the axioms themselves. Axiomatic systems provide us with “faulty definitions” of objects, definitions that are grounded not in formal logic but in a hypothesis — a “prejudice” as Hans-Georg Gadamer might say — that is prior to logic. As a corollary, our logic of identity cannot be said to be necessary and universally valid. “Such axioms,” says Poincaré, “would be utterly meaningless to a being living in a world in which there are only fluids.” — Vladimir Tasic


If, as Mach, Poincaré, Bohm, Peat, Schrödinger, Rovelli maintain, that space is a continually transforming relational spatial Plenum, then ‘identity’ is nonsense, every form is being continually reinvented as the nexus of influences within the flow.  True, the visual form seems to persist and we can ‘slap a name on it’ to give it a kind of pseudo-identity, but there are no ‘identities’ in a physically real sense, only in a ‘schaumkommen’ (appearances) sense.


Returning to the realm of social dynamics, … headquarters’ management made two mutually compensatory errors, the same one’s as laid out by Nietzsche; i.e. their first error was in assuming that the numbers they saw, that were associated with ‘team-X’ which was in the physical reality of their experience like a storm-cell in the flow of the environment in which it was included, were the ‘results’ of the actions of the team.   Their second error, was in defining the team as the jumpstart author of ‘productive results’.   This two-fold, mutually compensating error meant that nothing stood in the way of interpreting the numbers as being the ‘results’ of the ‘team-X’ intentional actions.  By this double error, the primary influence that was animating the dynamic which was purely relational and thus ‘non-local’, ‘non-visible’ and ‘non-material’ had been purged from the understanding, and all that remained was the superstitious Fiktion in terms of dynamics that were ‘local’, ‘visible’ and ‘material’ and which were locally jumpstart animated by an occult force inhabiting the notional ‘local beings’ that were purported to be the intention-infused ‘authors’ of the notionally ‘causally determined’ ‘results’.


This heuristic, intuitive treatment of Berkeley’s critique of the mathematical foundations of calculus, could eventually be supplemented by a more in-depth mathematical treatment.  In all likelihood, such formulation will involve ‘complex numbers’, the real component of which is delivering the quantities we are measuring and mistaking for ‘reality’ when, in fact, the physical reality of our experience is ‘complex’.

[[Technical Note: The work of Gabor is recalled here in his quantum physics compliant ‘Theory of Communications’ wherein the communications signal becomes ‘complex’ as the transmitting and receiving become conjugate aspects of one dynamic.  The production of team-X might similarly be seen as a ‘transmission’ that is ‘received’ by the web of relations in which team-X is included.  As the relations become more ‘team-X – relational matrix’ engaging becomes more integrated, the two dynamics of transmission and reception become conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of relational resonance.  Distinguishing separate ‘identities’ of the ‘inhabitant’ and ‘habitat’ in this web of relations then becomes impossible.   Gabor gives the analogy of the crossed pairs of poles on a dynamic for this resonance based ‘complex’ dynamic, which involves a rotating element  and conjugate rotating field that is ninety degrees phase shifted [= multiplication by the imaginary unit ‘i’] with the former, ‘real’ as in ‘visible’, ‘material’ dynamic element.  This recalls the ‘complex’ relationship in the game of pool, between the ‘charging’ and ‘discharging’ of the spatial-relational configurations, though what we can measure is limited to what is discharged as ‘results’.  This, in turn, recalls the conservation of energy which is continually transforming from ‘potential’ or purely relational [energy of relational situation] and kinetic energy, the energy associated with what we can measure, the local, visible and material aspect of dynamics.  The headquarters management insisted on a view of dynamics that was not ‘complex’ but was constrained to what could be measured; i.e. the local, visible, material aspect of dynamics.  The members of team-X who experienced this mode of operation understood the ‘complex’ nature of the dynamic in which their local individual inhabitant-identity [Atman] blurred with their nonlocal, collective habitat-identity [Brahman].]]


To push the ‘complex’ [real + imaginary] analogy further, the purely relational component of dynamics corresponds to the ‘non-local’, ‘non-visible’, ‘non-material’ or aspect that we can only ‘imagine’, as in the possibility-charging and discharging of the relational-spatial configuration of billiard balls, that meanwhile ‘delivers results’ via explicit local, visible, material actions that we say are ‘real’ because we can measure them.


Berkeley’s original 1734 Analyst write-up can be found by clicking on ‘THE ANALYST; OR, A DISCOURSE Addressed to an Infidel MATHEMATICIAN WHEREIN, It is examined whether the Object, Principles, and Inferences of the modern analysis are more distinctly conceived, or more evidently deduced, than Religious Mysterie and Points of Faith.


Given the foregoing discussion, it is perhaps unnecessary to explicitly state it again, but my own view is on the same page with Berkeley’s, that the reduction of the world dynamic to notional beings inhabited by occult, locally jumpstarting powers of launching inside-outward asserting action, is ‘superstition’ that goes also by the name ‘science’ [mainstream science].  I agree with Nietzsche and Poincaré, Mach et al, that ‘science’ is ‘nütliche Fiktion’ (useful fiction).  It is far less useful when its models of local beings inhabited by occult powers are confused for physical reality.



“Science itself, … may be regarded as a minimization problem, consisting of the completest possible presenting of facts with the least possible expenditure of thought” —Ernst Mach


Nevertheless, as Nietzsche pointed out, and as has been underscored by Edward Sapir, Benjamin Whorf, Alan Watts and others [F. David Peat, Moonhawk Alford], it is the language we use that delivers the concepts we use that condition our interpretation of the data of our experience;


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



“As soon as one sees that separate things are fictitious, it becomes obvious that nonexistent things cannot “perform” actions. The difficulty is that most languages are arranged so that actions (verbs) have to be set in motion by things (nouns), and we forget that rules of grammar are not necessarily rules, or patterns, of nature. This, which is nothing more than a convention of grammar, is also responsible for (or, better, “goeswith”) absurd puzzles as to how spirit governs matter, or mind moves body. How can a noun, which is by definition not action, lead to action?” —Alan Watts, ‘Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are’


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


“I am afraid we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’


* * *


Conclusion:  Some data has been assembled here for sharing, that is for you to form your own understandings/conclusions regarding.  For my own part, the evidence clearly points to science,  however useful it has been in informing us in the realm of the material and mechanical [the ‘real component’ which does not equate to the complex physical reality] has been the abnegator of the spirituality that is immanent in the world since it denies the primary influence of the non-local, non-visible, non-material.


Berkeley’s view, like Mach’s, Schrödinger’s et al, was that space is relational and that persisting forms are secondary, in the manner of storm-cells in the relational-spatial flow of the atmosphere.  That is, his view was that non-local, non-visible, non-material influence was in a natural precedence over local, visible, material influence.  Like Nietzsche, he viewed the imputing of being via subject/attribute in language to be idealism not to be confused with physical reality;


George Berkeley (12 March 1685 – 14 January 1753), also known as Bishop Berkeley (Bishop of Cloyne), was an Anglo-Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called “immaterialism” (later referred to as “subjective idealism” by others). This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that familiar objects like tables and chairs are only ideas in the minds of perceivers, and as a result cannot exist without being perceived. Thus, as Berkeley famously put it, for physical objects “esse est percipi” (“to be is to be perceived”). Berkeley is also known for his critique of abstraction, an important premise in his argument for immaterialism.” — Wikipedia


This view is held also by Mach and Poincaré [‘pragmatic idealism’] and is what one arrives at if one inverts the understanding of space as ‘void’ or ‘nothingness’ to ‘fullness’; space as a continually transforming relational spatial-plenum whose dynamical forms are resonance features identified by the observer.  This is also the ‘Eastern’ and aboriginal view;

“As will become apparent in the following pages, the `nothingness’ of which Eastern scholars are fond of alluding to is not a nothingness relative to the fullness of being, but a positive, fecund and pro-generative emptiness in which something and nothing, subject and object emerges. This is entirely different from the `negative’ form of nothingness, a nihilistic mood, that would result from the insistence on remaining silent or a refusal to engage. Heidegger’s `conversations’ with a Japanese friend revealingly shows the metaphysical `gulf’ separating Eastern and Western attitudes towards emptiness and nothingness when the Japanese expressed amazement at Western reactions to Heidegger’s work. `We marvel to this day how the Europeans could lapse into interpreting as nihilistic the nothingness of which you speak. To us, emptiness is the loftiest name’. Yet, this state of `absolute nothingness’ [what Nishitani calls ‘sunyata’] cannot be reached through premature abandonment. Instead it is attainable only through the long and endless struggles and `companionship’ with both language and silence. Neither language nor silence can express the full richness of the real. We are therefore pushed beyond both language and silence. Words are taken lightly and only as `surface pointers which must not be thought to exhaust the depths of the actual experiences encountered. At best, they lead to beneath the surface “hows” to the deeper causes and regularities of things and events, which only the keenest and most experienced observer will have noticed… .it probes beneath the surface of appearances’. It is this relentless and unceasing emphasis on encountering and engaging with an unseen and unseeable `other’ which marks the Eastern mode of thought from the West.” —Robert Chia


Berkeley put his finger directly on the problem of science expunging spirituality, early on, even as the superstitions of notional occult forces inhabiting ‘being’ were being built into the foundations of the mathematics of physics, by Newton.   Not that Newton necessarily intended that his ‘Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy’ (1687) be mistaken for ‘physical reality’; i.e. he made the following comments concerning the shortfalls of his ‘principia’ in the ‘Author’s Prologue’ and in his summarizing ‘Scholium’;


“I wish we could derive the rest of the phaenomena of nature by the same kind of reasoning from physical principles; for I am induced by many reasons to suspect that they all may depend upon certain forces by which the particles of bodies, by some causes hitherto unknown, are either mutually impelled towards each other, and cohere in regular figures, or are repelled and recede from each other; which forces being unknown, philosophers have hitherto attempted the search of nature in vain; but I hope the principles laid down will afford some light either to this or some truer method of philosophy.”  Newton, Author’s Preface in the ‘Principia’.



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

What stands out as a residual point of interest here is how Berkeley managed to reconcile his philosophy with his ‘monotheist’ theology since his views appear decidedly ‘aboriginal’ or ‘Eastern’ rather than ‘monotheist’.  My currently, mostly uninformed view, is that he held Church doctrine to be not-absolute and in a state of flux, … perhaps to the point that it needed to catch up with ‘relational philosophy’ which imputes the animating source of the world dynamic to reside within the world dynamic; i.e. within the transforming relational spatial Plenum aka ‘holodynamic’ aka ‘Great Mystery’ [Wakan Tanka] aka ‘ALL’.

It appears that the ‘pendulum is swinging back’ from this deep displacement of spirituality by science, and indeed there are indications of this, in the resurgence of aboriginal belief based practices such as the ‘circle process’, which is currently making inroads through, for example, the global ‘restorative justice’ movement.  As Kay Pranis (‘Peace-Making Circles’) observes, there is something like a ‘restorative impulse’ that is underway globally;


“I believe that the restorative justice movement is a manifestation of something much larger than itself: a fundamental shift in how Western culture understands the nature of our species and the nature of the universe.  Assumptions about human nature and the universe underlie all our social institutions and all of our relationships—with self, with others, with the natural world.  These assumptions shape the actions we take each day in the context of institutions such as our families, faith communities, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, social services, and justice systems.” –Kay Pranis


This ‘restorative impulse’ is rallying us to retreat from a centuries long trend to superstitious/occult scientific subjectifying and related moral judging, that is opening up the societal web of relational context to a re-entrant primal flow of the non-local, non-visible and non-material; i.e. a re-entrant flow of the spiritual;

* * *








Over the past twenty years, I have wrestled with the above-described psycho-philosophical-physical issues, which pop up in every/any context imaginable.


What does it matter to me?


My experience has informed me that, as a social collective, the differences in how we understand the world can themselves lead to conflict.   It seems natural, to me, to seek ways to help us ‘get on the same page’, and in lieu of that, to understand the different ways in which different people understand the world and to jointly find ways to deal with the reality that those differences do exist.  Conflict arises from the combination of believing that one’s view of the world is ‘the truth’ and concluding on that basis, that there is no need to further consider the ‘false’ views of others.


As a thinking tool to aid talking about alternative world views, I like this picture of Bénard cells because it facilitates an understanding into how one can read into it three different options of understanding ‘the one and the many’ and their relationship.

benard convection cells in thin bottom-warmed fluid layer




The upper portion of the figure is a time-exposure [photograph] of the convection cells in plan view from above, … while the schematic diagram in the lower part of the figures shows a front elevation of the thin fluid layer, where currents of water warmed from below rise and cool on the cool surface above and dive again to the bottom where they are again heated and rise to the top.  As these currents push against one another laterally, this ‘reciprocal disposition’ sets up the convection cells and gives them this hexagonal shape [the shape that packed spheres bend into as they push against one another; i.e. experience reciprocal back-pressure, in a finite space]


Note that this is a relational spatial plenum; i.e. there are no ‘things’ in it, the hair-like lines that give form to the cells are ‘flow lines’ made visible by putting tracers into the fluid so that the direction of flow movement will show up in a time exposure.


This could be the earth’s atmosphere, if the earth’s surface was as smooth as a ball bearing’s.  The convection cells in the earth’s atmosphere are not so regular because the earth’s surface is not smooth, but the same processes are there and the tendency to hexagonal form.


[hexagonal form arises when the expansion of spherical cells is confronted by reciprocal back-pressure arising from the cells’ own expansion into a space that is limited, or where backpressure arises from relative inertia within the cluster of expanding cells].


In any case, this view starts from a relational spatial plenum, so we can start from the most general case of the topological relationships between ‘the one and the many’ [whether ‘atoms’ or ‘organism’s] and work our way down.


3. Most General: —Space is erupting in a rash of pimples/cells.  There is no separation between space and inhabitants because there is only space and it is a fullness that engenders dynamic forms within itself.  The dynamic form aka ‘cell’ is a ‘sensum’ [Mach]; a conjugate receptor-effector relation within the continually transforming relational space.  As human sensa, our experience is psycho-physical.


2. Less General: —The cells are understood as independent of the space they share inclusion in but their development and behaviour are shaped by a combination of internal genetic forces and by mutual influence. [leads to the classic ‘nature-nurture paradox’].  Example, trees in a grove grow tall and straight, trees on their own, grow gnarly and twisted from the influence of wind.


1. Least General: —Each cell is understood as an independent system, independent of the space it is in, whose behaviour is driven and directed fully and solely from out of its internal nucleus.  It’s development and behaviour is influenced by what lies outside of it, only through its central direction [e.g. by sensing and responding].  [Headquarters management view of team-X]


Note that in 1. and 2. the cells have internal centres of intelligence, whereas in 3., since the cells are ‘the plenum expressing itself through the ‘sensa’ that the plenum engenders within itself, the ‘intelligence’ is sourced from the plenum.   As Emerson says in ‘The Method of Nature’; ‘the genius of nature not only inhabits the organism, it creates it’.  He also notes that the genius of nature gives the pear tree the ‘talent’ to make pears, but the ‘know-how’ or ‘intelligence’ to make pears does not jumpstart from the ‘tree’ as a local cell-in-itself, the talent of the pear tree is an aspect of the genius of nature.  The genius of nature that not only inhabits the pear tree but creates it, as in 3.  Or, the relational dynamics of the flowing plenum not only inhabit the cells but create them.


Even though [hurricane] ‘Katrina’ is (3.), the atmospheric plenum expressing itself by engendering dynamic forms within itself, we, with the facilitation of language and grammar, impute to her (as in 2. and 1.)  the jumpstart powers to drive and direct ‘her own’ development and behaviour, just as we impute to the pear tree is own jumpstart powers to produce pears.  Language and grammar make this very easy to do; e.g. ‘Katrina is growing larger and stronger’, … ‘Katrina is moving north’, … ‘Katrina is ravaging New Orleans’, … ‘Katrina is dissipating’.   These statements ‘sound’ very real but are just ‘useful fiction’; a language and grammar based mental model that we create by imposing a notional ‘subjecthood’ on a visible pattern within a flow (3.).


Where did we get this archetype of a ‘thing-in-itself’ that has the local internal powers of jumpstart sourcing its own development and behaviour.  This archetype is our ‘ego’.  That’s how we tend to think of ourselves.  It is also the ‘God’ archetype since we portray God as having the local internal powers of jumpstart sourcing its own Creations.


This archetype is an idealization that cannot be found in physical reality.  It is at odds with our experience of being included in a continually transforming relational space where παντα ρει, ‘everything is in flux’ as in the convecting fluid.


Our choice of these optional views of habitat and inhabitant and their associated relations is not just academic.  For example, Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA chooses option 1., the independent cell that is fully and solely internally driven and directed.


“Crick suggests that a person’s mental activities are entirely due to the behavior of nerve cells, glial cells, and the atoms, ions, and molecules that make them up and influence them. He argued that traditional conceptualizations of the soul as a non-material being must be replaced by a materialistic understanding of how the brain produces mind; that religions can be wrong about scientific matters, and that part of what science does is to confront the errors that exist within religious traditions.”


I have called this option (1.) the ‘least general’.  It is like the headquarters management view of team-X.   It sees the performance of the team as deriving fully and solely from the internal components and processes of the team.  If performance improves or deteriorates, the source has to be internal.


If one STARTS from this thinking, there is no way to get back up to (3.)  However, if one starts from (3.), the view of the individuals as features in the flow, it is possible to ‘hold onto that’ as one’s physical experience, and to acknowledge the convenience, for discourse, of using language and grammar to reduce that to an idealized mental model that is in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what they do’.  Science does indeed do this reduction, as Mach notes;

“Science itself, … may be regarded as a minimization problem, consisting of the completest possible presenting of facts with the least possible expenditure of thought” –Ernst Mach


But Crick is a hard-liner in his starting from (1.), just like headquarters management was with respect to team-X. and it follows from this (1,) view, for example, that ‘mental disorders’ must derive from the interior of the individual and not, for example, from the anxiety of one’s situational inclusion in a stressful social dynamic.  This means that the search is on for genetic sources and/or viral/pathogen sources of mental disorder and, as well, it means that the treatment focuses on the individual and not at all on the dysfunctional social dynamic that is stressing the sensitive ‘miner’s canaries’, as in 2. or 3.  What I am saying is that the choice of the relational topology of the one and the many of (1.) leads to a major difference in how we treat each other.  For example;


  “The prevalence of insanity, which was once considerably less than one case per 1,000 total population, has risen beyond five cases in 1,000. Why has mental illness reached epidemic proportions? What are the causes of severe mental illness? Why do we continue to deny the rising numbers, and how does this denial affect our ability to help those who are afflicted?

In The Invisible Plague, E. Fuller Torrey and Judy Miller examine the records on insanity in England, Ireland, Canada, and the United States over a 250-year period, concluding, through both qualitative and quantitative evidence, that disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar illness are an unrecognized, modern-day plague. This book is a unique and major contribution to medical history [!!!]. Until now, insanity, and its apparent rise over the centuries, has been interpreted as a socially and economically driven phenomenon [this is a strawman that was never firmly in place, cited here to set up Torrey and Miller’s superstitious conjecture]. Torrey and Miller insist upon the biological reality of psychiatric disease and examine the reasons why its contemporary prevalence has been so profoundly misunderstood.”
“Dr. Torrey has conducted numerous research studies, particularly on possible infectious causes of schizophrenia. He has become well known as an advocate of the idea that severe mental illness is due to biological factors and not social factors. He has appeared on national radio and television outlets and written for many newspapers. He has received two Commendation Medals by the U.S. Public Health Service and numerous other awards and tributes. He has been criticized … for… his support for forced medication as a method of treatment ” — Wikipedia


On the other hand, much has been written about the stress of the society leading to differences in the incidence of mental breakdowns, as cited in works such as ‘Misogyny or Madness’?  In general, it appears that anxiety can trigger mental disorder and stress can give rise to anxiety and social-relational disorder can produce stress (e.g. 9/11)


In the view in 1., the focus will be on repairing or controlling the individual seen as a stand-alone system.  The view in 2. would see mental disorders as being influenced by both internals and the societal dynamics.  3. would understand it according to Mach’s principle, and thus acknowledge outside-inward habitat-inhabitant sourcing of mental disorder.  That is, both 2. and 3. views would understand that the individual’s mental disorder could be suspended by either moving them out of stressful environment or transforming the environment so that it will be less stressful.  If people who feel alienated go postal, then measures that resolve the feelings of alienation can resolve the mental disorder


The Reagan Administration championed the trend to over-reliance on drugs to do the work of society and therapy [e.g. health-restoring clinics].  That is, in the (1.) view, one does not see the source of mental disorder as originating in the relational social dynamics the individual is included in, but instead, as jumpstarting from in the interior of the individual.  Many people with mental disorders who were in therapy of some type which involved taking them out of stressful circumstances were given a supply of meds and found themselves on the street or in prison.  The solution was seen in the (1.) level view as operating on their internals which were seen as where the mental disorder originates.


Again, if one starts on the (3.) level, one can acknowledge several ways to work on mental disorder; i.e. one can work on both removing the person from the stressful environment and/or transforming the environment [as is the suggestion in books such as ‘misogyny or madness’] AT THE SAME TIME AS tending to the individual’s internal biochemistry and biophysics.   However, if one STARTS FROM LEVEL (1.), then one will not just administer psychotropic drugs while getting the person out of the stressful environment and/or transforming the stressful environment, one will ignore the environment (e.g. ignore its myogynistic or alienating social dynamic and not bother to try to transform them) and focus on the symptoms; i.e. the biochemical imbalances that are provoked by stress.  This could mean that the individual is medicated for his/her entire life and that the stress of the dysfunction environment endures for his/her life.


The same choices and impacts associate with retributive justice (implying the 1. level view) and restorative justice (implying the 3. level view).


In other words, the popular choice of (1.) in the culture I live in, has already had a major impact on myself and those close to me, and this is an incentive to continue to work on communicating the issues surrounding our alternative reality choices and how these impact our lives and our general social dynamic.


* * *


Ayn Randism also represents a hardline choice of (1.) as the preferred reality.   In Rand’s view, the indigenous aboriginals [who understood the world in (3.) terms], who were ‘treading lightly’ in their habitat-inhabitant relation, were seen as lazy and ignorant because they were not ‘productive’.  In Ayn Rand’s view, the space we live in is not a plenum that expresses itself in its engendering of us, as in the (3.) view, the consciousness of the plenum being our Brahman [eternal self] and our plenum-engendered form our Atman [personal self].   Instead, Rand’s philosophy splits apart the inhabitant from the habitat, as in (1.) and sees the habitat as something to be owned and controlled by the inhabitants; i.e. by those that ‘know what to do with it’.


“They [the indians] had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages. The white man did not conquer this country. And you are a racist if you object, because it means you believe that certain men are entitled to something because of their race. You believe that if someone is born in a magnificent country and doesn’t know what to do with it, he still has a property right to it. He does not. . . .Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it’s great that some of them did.” — Ayn Rand


Since this philosophy of Ayn Rand’s, which is essentially the ‘colonizer’ worldview,  is alive and well and is the basis for a good part of the political views in the United States, if not in the world, it is having a major impact on our/everyone’s lives.


The values of the colonizer culture put ‘construction’ into precedence over ‘destruction’.  That is, it is ok to destroy a forest to develop a shopping mall.  This is called ‘improvements to the land’.  The indigenous aboriginals of Turtle Island, who were coming from (3.) [there is no such thing as ‘construction/creation’ and ‘destruction’ as things-in-themselves, there is only relational-spatial transformation]  protested at this practice of the colonizers (1.) of mentally splitting themselves out of the land and focusing on construction while ignored ‘destruction’ of the forests, ecosystems etc. but the values of (1.) are institutionalized in Western governance, justice and commerce.


The values of (1.) are clearly effecting all of us because, the reality is, that we are all included in a common living space, and as Mach’s principle (3.) observes; “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.”   While Ayn Randism encourages people to exploit the land, exploiting the land does not do direct offence others, but it does do indirect [perpetrator-laundered] offense by way of Mach’s principle.


These ‘Ayn Randian’ political views that are grounded in (1.) are also having an affect on myself and everyone in our common living space.


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Our use of language and grammar to subjective the forms-in-the-flow and to impute them to have internal jumpstart powers of self-development and behaviour, as in (1.) is, again, nützliche Fiktion (useful fiction) but it is also holding us back from deepening our understanding, since in many cases, especially in science, people are confusing it for physical reality.


As already mentioned, our concept of a biological cell in the (1.) terms of a unit of ‘being’ is being superseded by the notion of a biological cell as a unit of perception, due to its conjugate receptor-effector relational dynamic.


In the case of plants, another major challenge to our (1.) level concepts because of what is being called ‘the amazing intelligence of plants’ as is manifest in complex coordination of behaviours across different species of plants and also across the plant, insect, bird, bear divisions [of course these are language-based divisions we have imposed on nature].  The David Suzuki ‘Nature of Things’ video called ‘Smarty Plants



The difficulty expressed by scientists, in trying to figure out where this ‘plant intelligence’ is coming from, since plants don’t even have a nucleus or central nervous system into which we can impute a centre-of-intelligence, is arising from the (1.) based definition of a plant as a ‘thing-in-itself’.  In the (3.) level view, there is no problem because we recognize that nature is a transforming relational-spatial plenum that engenders many different forms within itself.  To use language and grammar to re-locate the animative sourcing of dynamics from the plenum, notionally into the interior of the flow-form is ‘nützliche Fiktion’ that facilitates discursive sharing.  This we can understand if we start from acknowledging the more comprehensive view of dynamics in terms of (3.).  However, our current custom is to start from (1.) in which case we hold to the notion that a plant is an ‘organism’ which in level (1.) terms is “a local, independently-existing material system with its own locally originating, internal components and processes driven and directed development and behaviour.


This level (1.) science is, as Mach and Nietzsche agree ‘anthropomorphism’; i.e. we are taking the simple [Fiktional] ego-view of self as ‘real’ and imposing it into cells and organisms and organizations/institutions because it is a ‘simple way of thinking about things’; i.e. in the language and grammar facilitated terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’.


This ego-archetype we have infused into level (1.) science is giving us a lot of problems; i.e. it denies that we are all children of a common plenum; it sees us each as absolutely independent with our own locally jumpstarting behaviour, and it therefore leads to retributive justice and retributive justice leads to punitive wars amongst ourselves.  If we start our understanding from level (3.), then we understand that the source of all dynamics, including dynamic forms, is the relational spatial plenum, the dynamic Unum, the ‘ALL’.  This leads to an understanding individual behaviour is firstly ‘the universe/community expressing itself’ so that the community must acknowledge responsibility for dissonance that manifests through individuals.  This dissonance is like a short-circuit in a connected relational network.  This level (3.) understanding leads to restorative justice and healing of dissonance by way of relational transforming.


I find this fact that we can have different ways of understanding the same dynamics, not just interesting, but having had, and continuing to have, impact on my life, the lives of those close to me, and ‘our lives’ in general.


I believe that it is something we need to talk about.  If we continually start off from level (1), we are not, in effect, ‘talking about it’.  I know that headquarters management insisted in staying with the level (1.) view because that was ‘their job’, what they were being paid to do, because ‘the corporation’ is a level (1.) concept and because ‘the sovereign state’ is a level (1.) concept.  Evidently, we need to get this conversation about these levels, going in a space where people are thinking of how to achieve balance and harmony in our relational space on an overall ‘inclusional’ basis, that goes beyond ‘the health of the corporation’, ‘the health of the nation’ and ‘the health of humanity’, and accepts that our ‘web-of-life’ captures all things within an interdependent connectedness [the relational spatial plenum].

The bottom line in all of this, in my view, is that the level (1.) view constrains our understanding of ourselves and our world to a collection of local, visible, material ‘things-in-themselves’ [essentially ‘machines’] and ‘what they do’.  This is Crick’s view; i.e. that that’s all there is.  And therefore our inspiration or ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’, if there is such a thing, must come from internal biochemistry and biophysics.   In the level (3.) view of the aboriginal belief tradition and Machean physics, our ‘spirit’ is the non-local, non-visible, non-material influence that is engendering us and others; it is Brahman, our eternal self, the continually transforming relational spatial Plenum, that harbours within it our Atman, our uniquely, situationally included flow-feature self.

Crick can have his ‘soul’ made of internal biochemistry and biophysics per his level (1.) worldview.


“You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules:” — Sir Frances Crick, ‘Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul‘.

Such intellectual disconnection from our experience of inclusion in the natural world would elevate one’s own ego to a seat of supreme authority over oneself, to give direct one’s behaviour on the basis of the best intellectual rationales one can come up with [and shutting off our attuning to the orchestrating influence of the transforming relational space we are uniquely situationally included in, that implores us continually, to rise to the occasion rather to simply drive and direct ourselves by our internal processes such as knowledge and intellection informed purpose.

If Crick’s poor choice were all that was involved, that would be one thing, but there is much more to it than that.  The worldview that is built into our institutions of governance, justice and commerce are all at stake, and Crick is one of the staunch gatekeepers of using the level (1.) reality as the foundation for those institutions.  Since level (1.) derives from the ego and is all about ‘central control’, this unnatural elevation of the ethic of control impacts all of us.

As it did with Ernst Mach, level (3.) reality makes far more sense to me.  But like Mach, my belief in level (3.) reality makes me a ‘false prophet’ in the eyes of the Crick’s and in the eyes the majority of science’s gatekeepers who help to keep level (1.) reality in its unnatural primacy, and as the foundation for our institutions.  As Mach said about his ‘excommunication’ from science that had opted for the level (1.) reality;

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

And as Julian Barbour, one of the modern day relational space theorists observes;

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

That ‘relative arrangement’ and how it is continually changing is something a long-time pool player can appreciate.  That is not to trivialize this discussion at all.  It is just to observe that nature is filled with symmetries that inform us in many simple, everyday ways that the changing arrangements of things are the ‘real dynamics’ as we actually experience them.  We don’t experience, and can’t possible experience the movement of a thing-in-itself.  Such a movement would have to be in an absolutely fixed space; i.e. such a movement depends on abstract idealization.  What we experience physically is movement relative to other moving things; i.e. what we physically experience is our inclusion in a transforming relational configuration of things, as Barbour mentions.  And the transforming relational configuration persists well beyond the lifetimes of dynamic forms that gather and regather within it.

The level (3.) reality understands that πάντα ῥει [panta rhei, everything is in flux, constantly changing],

“[The smoothness we admire in the order of the world] is the smoothness of the pitch of the cataract. Its permanence is a perpetual inchoation. Every natural fact is an emanation, and that from which it emanates is an emanation also, and from every emanation is a new emanation. If anything could stand still, it would be crushed and dissipated by the torrent it resisted” – Emerson, ‘The Method of Nature‘

As Nietzsche suggested, the time has come for a re-valuation of all values.  Implicitly, this must come from restoring level (3.) reality, and thus ‘spirituality’, to its natural primacy over the linguistic idealized, double-error contaminated level (1.) reality that has been institutionalized in ‘science’ and society.


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