A restoring of extrinsic attuning over intrinsic asserting?

A restoring of extrinsic attuning over intrinsic asserting?

The Mayan prophecy that a 5,125 year cycle will give way to a new cycle on December 21, 2012 has been stirring increasing interest as the date approaches.  It excites us to think that we could experience both sides of a ‘turning point’ where our globally pervasive beliefs undergo a radical shift.  What was it like to have straddled the flip from the belief that the earth was the centre of the universe to the belief that the earth was one of several planets that circled the sun?  What was it like to have straddled Newton’s ‘discovery’ of ‘laws of motion’ that opened a door into a new industrial age?

There are many pressures on our current ‘belief’ system, but as Thomas Kuhn points out in the ‘Structure of Scientific Revolutions’, finding fault with the prevailing belief system is not enough.  There will be no general ‘radical shift’ (paradigm shift) until an alternative belief system is available that is judged credible.  If not, the established conceptual framework will continue to be adhered to.

The ‘pressure’ on our current belief system deals with the ‘spiritlessness’ of our material, self-interest-seeking social ethic.   ‘Environmentalism’, which emphasizes connectedness and mutual interdependence is on the rise.  Aboriginal traditional thinking, with its belief in man as a strand-in-the-web-of-life is on the rebound. In politics, there is increasing disenchantment with the established order of ‘free market capitalism’, with the dominance of huge transnational corporations, the colossal rise in executive compensation and with the continued enlarging of the have/have-not gap.

The Mayan prophecy is interpreted by many, not as ‘end days’ but in terms that ‘we are the wave’ of change; i.e. that every one of us contributes to the whole of life (the spatial dynamic) and that we will be living the rising cycle of renewal which will be in terms of “conscious harmonious connectedness”.

So, there is an abundance of ‘breakdowns’ in our ‘established way of doing things’ that is leading to widespread questioning of our current beliefs, but where might the ‘credible alternative’ come from that will allow a ‘new paradigm’ to gather a viable foothold?

In the shift from the Ptolemy’s geocentricity to Copernican helio-centricity, one of the most convincing pieces of evidence, to astronomers, was how Kepler’s elliptical orbits of planets around the sun explained the ‘retrograde motion’ of Mars and the other planets.  Why would Mars appear to move in the earth’s sky in one direction but every couple of (earth) years, do a ‘loop-the-loop in the sky?  (modern telescope image or the retrograde movement of Mars immediately below is followed by Kepler’s plot for the years 1580 to 1597)


Retrograde motion of mars as seen in the earth's sky

Kepler's plotted position of mars in the earth's sky 1580-1597

Kepler's plotted position of mars in the earth's sky 1580-1597

The apparent retrograde motion arises from attributing all of the movement to mars when it instead derives from the combined movement of earth and mars.  If  both the earth and mars were runners on an oval track with mars running in an outside track that was roughly twice the circumference of the inside track that the earth was running, if they started off together, they would be running in the same direction but the earth would come to the end of his smaller oval first and would turn the corner and be running in the opposite direction of mars until mars reached the end of its oval and turned the corner, at which time they would once again be running in the same direction.

Similar retrograde motions in the orbits of the other planets as seen from earth were observed and explained in this same straight-forward manner which helped to make the new helio-centric theory a ‘credible alternative’.

Today, in every science, and in the economy and in politics, there is the same type of ‘pressure’ to make way for ‘extrinsic shaping influence’ in the established paradigm which allows only ‘intrinsic shaping influence’;

1. In medicine, it is the argument of Pasteur and Béchamp that ‘le microbe n’est rien, le terrain est tout’ (the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything).  The established view is that the microbes do the proliferating as in the (intrinsic) purposive system view of ‘acorn-to-oak-tree’.  But the alternative view that keeps putting pressure on the belief system to ‘let it in’ is the notion that the spatial dynamics or condition of the body can open up commodious conditions fertile to the proliferation of a bacteria or virus (as in a ‘niche’ in ecosystems).  That is, ‘extrinsic shaping influence’ wants to be ‘accepted’ but this is being resisted by the medical establishment.

2. In biology, it is an argument in stem cell research, in studies of rejuvenative tissue and limbs and in the evolution of microbial communities, that the spatial/environmental dynamic has a shaping influence on the organization of the ‘local cells’.  The established theory is that the cells ‘know what they are doing’ in the ‘purposive systems’ model of acorn-to-oak-tree.  Yet there are more and more examples which are being referred to as ‘irreducible complexity’ wherein the development of cells appears to be orchestrated ‘from the outside’ (extrinsically) by the spatial dynamics they are included in.

3. In politics and law, there is an argument that says that relational tensions/pressures from inequalities (e.g. Bourgeoisie, Proletariat) as led to the French Revolution reach thresholds within individuals (analogous to earthquake/avalanche physics) that result in their violent stress-relieving release of the accumulating tensional energy.  The extrinsic shaping influence is not accepted since the models are limited to intrinsic sourcing (If someone ‘goes postal’, in the acorn-to-oak-tree model, the established ‘paradigm’, such behaviour must arise from within the individual that ‘goes postal’.

4. In psychology, there is the argument that the individual judged ‘abnormal’ is the sane person since society which serves to define ‘normal’ is ‘abnatural’.  Trying to return the ‘abnormal’ person to normality is thus dysfunctional.  But as in law, the established paradigm does not admit extrinsic shaping influence; i.e. there is no way to hold society (the spatial dynamic the individual is included in) responsible, in any way, for the ‘abnormality’.  That is, extrinsic shaping influence is putting pressure on the established theory, but to avail as yet.

5. In physics, we already know that nonlocal extrinsic shaping influences prevail in nature (we call them ‘fields’).  The non-uniform distribution of thermal energy in a thermal energy field is the nonlocal influence that engenders convection cells in the atmosphere/ocean and orchestrates their movements.  We know, also, that pressure and thermal fields have a ‘deformational’ (re-shaping) influence on spatially extended matter that seeks to re-organize the spatial relations of ‘part(icle)s’ in an overall sense.   We tend to think of this in the simplified pointwise (local)  terms of ‘local differences in shrinkage or expansion’, but ‘fields’ are ‘everywhere at the same time’ thus the individual and collective movements of electrons in an ‘eddy current’ are orchestrated by the ‘shape’ of the field which is coordinating their behaviour and having them move in a circular or vortical manner, similar to a convection cell.  This sort of field-induced circular movement cannot be explained in terms of the movement of the individual part(icle)s BUT IT CAN BE(, AND MOST OFTEN IS, )DESCRIBED, MATHEMATICALLY, BY THE NOTION OF A ‘LOCALLY APPLIED FORCE’ THAT THE INDIVIDUAL PARTICLE.EXPERIENCES.  IN THIS CASE, THE EXTRINSIC SHAPING INFLUENCE OF (everywhere-at-the-same-time) ‘FIELD’ IS ARTIFICIALLY REDUCED TO LOCAL/INTRINSIC SHAPING INFLUENCE. THAT ACTS SEQUENTIALLY-IN-TIME.


The individual and collective movement of kayaks in a large bay, if their occupants suspended paddling, would nevertheless be orchestrated by the everywhere at the same time tide-induced (gravity field induced) convecting current in the bay.  If their spatial relations were not overtaken by their respective paddling efforts, they might, over time, be drawn by the tidal vortex into the centre of the bay.  The individual kayaker may nevertheless be thinking in terms of Newtonian physics wherein the movement of the kayak is determined by the resultant applied force.  This has the effect of having the kayaker think of himself as determining his own movement and in this thought he reduces the external shaping influence to a local force vector understood merely as a troublesome resistance that he must work harder to overcome.  That is, he tends to assume that his own ‘purposive’ motion is primary and that the forces of nature are mere ‘interferences’ (that he is in a ‘struggle with nature’).

But the truth is that he is inextricably included in the circular current which is the primary orchestrator of individual and collective behaviours so that his own ‘purposeful-effort-based movement’ is secondary rather than primary.

There is a general alternative way of thinking of things here, according to whether he accepts the natural primacy of the extrinsic shaping influence or whether he assumes the primacy of his own purposeful-effort-based movements.  The choice of outlook is captured in the familiar following alternatives;

(a)    “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” — John Lennon

(b) “You can create the future of your dreams. This may seem far fetched for most people, but what they do not seem to realize is that their present is the future they created by their past actions or inaction. You are where you are today because of the decisions and actions you took yesterday.”

Clearly, the continually unfolding spatial dynamic we are each and all inextricably included in, like the circular current in the bay, is primary.  That is, the worldview formulate in ‘a’, above, is the realistic worldview.  The worldview formulated in ‘b’ becomes less and less credible as the extrinsic shaping influences we find ourselves situation become more and more powerful.  When the tsunami engulfs us, the ‘b’ worldview is exposed as complete and utter nonsense.

Intuitively, we all understand this, but because we live in a western culture dominated world, we (most of us, much of the time) continue to behave as if we humans were the masters of destiny.  As a culture we have this ‘alpha male’ ego that was articulated by Machiavelli in ‘The Prince’;

“Fortune is a woman and it is necessary if you wish to master her, to conquer her by force.” —  Machiavelli

Meanwhile, the circulating current in the bay is ‘outside of us’ (it is an extrinsic individual-and-collective behaviour-shaping influence) and we cannot get outside of it to ‘run herd on it’.

It is for ease and convenience that we reduce our view of dynamics to the dynamics of local material systems whose behaviour, we assume, is shaped locally (intrinsically) by a combination of local, externally applied forces and internally-arising forces (internal biochemical processes, internal knowledge that supports internal purpose etc.).

This intrinsic ‘local sourcing’ of dynamics which eclipses the natural primacy of nonlocal extrinsic sourcing of dynamics goes back to the argument between Plato and Aristotle which Aristotle won by ‘default’ (i.e. the masses bought into the simplicity of it so that it was the understanding that achieved popular belief and which has been foundational in our western-acculturated world view).

This over-simplified world view, in terms of local objects with their own local agency, is under stress, growing stress, and this gives rise to an intuition of an imminent collapse of the world as we currently know it; i.e. an intution of an imminent ‘paradigm shift’.

In reflecting on ‘how we got into this stressed’ situation where our too-simple worldview is butting heads with the reality of our experience and losing credibility daily, it is not difficult to ‘research’ the origins of how, in physics, our option has been ‘choosing not that which is most true by that which is most easy’ (as Kepler observed is often our habit in science).

Newton, in formulating his ‘natural philosophy principles’ ran into the problem that gravity appeared to be ‘everywhere in the universe at the same time’, a situation that implied that all massy bodies attracted all other massy bodies at the same time.  In other words, the implication was that the innumerable material bodies in the universe moved under one another’s simultaneous mutual influence.   As Newton developed the basic principles of motion, he ‘got stuck’ at principles 65 and 66 in ‘Principia’ because he could not figure out a way, mathematically, to go from ‘two bodies moving under one another’s simultaneous mutual influence ‘ to ‘three or more bodies moving under one another’s simultaneous mutual influence.  He made two remarks in correspondence with his friend Bentley in this regard;

“An exact solution to the problem of three bodies exceeds, if I am not mistaken, the force of any human mind.”

“It is inconceivable, that inanimate brute matter should, without the mediation of something else, which is not material, operate upon, and affect other matter without mutual contact; as it must do, if gravitation, in the sense of Epicurus, be essential and inherent in it. And this is one reason, why I desired you would not ascribe innate gravity to me. That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential to matter, so that one body may act upon another, at a distance through a vacuum, without the mediation of anything else, by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an absurdity, that I believe no man who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it.”

The ‘three-body problem’ as it has been called, implies that three or more bodies set up an ‘extrinsic behaviour-shaping influence’ that operates on themselves, the included participants.   The ‘new physics’ of relativity can now explain this in terms of matter energy equivalence wherein the ‘energy field’ may have a spatial shape that is responsible for both the gather of energy into matter and shaping the individual and collective dynamics of the apparently ‘local’ material bodies.

But what Newton did to ‘get around’ the ‘three body problem’ was to invent the mathematical ‘device’ of a ‘vector field’; i.e. given a knowledge of the distribution of mass, one could calculate and any local spatial coordinate (‘point’) the magnitude and direction of force that would act on a unit of mass if were situated at the point (ignoring the fact that placing a mass there would then change the calculation unless the mass were infinitesimally small).  The movement of the mass at that point could then be calculated by the laws of motion (Force equals mass times acceleration).  The motion would then change the spatial configuration of mass, but it could be recalculated sequentially, in small time steps (where it had not had time to move very much and thus not to change the spatial configuration of mass, nor the associated force vectors too much).

But here’s where ‘the plot thickens’, as Nietzsche has pointed out, there are implications here as to how we ‘see ourselves’, in the same context as with the kayak example.  That is, if we describe our movement as being ‘locally forced’ either from locally applied force and/or internally produced force, limiting the motivation to ‘intrinsic’ influence, we would have to associate a positive force with ‘expanding’ or ‘proliferating’ and  negative force in terms of ‘shrinking’ or ‘making ourselves scarce’.  Alternatively, this can be thought of in the ‘predator-prey’ context of ‘attacking’ or ‘fleeing’.  Our state in between ‘attacking’ and ‘fleeing’ corresponds to the suspension of motion (paralysis) as with the behaviour of a mouse that is aware of an owl in the sky above.

In ‘L’eloge de la fuite’ (‘In Praise of Fleeing’) Henri Laborit observes that our biology and biochemistry is such that it does not support being in a stressful situation for a long time and that it is naturally advantageous for us to move in such a manner as to reduce the stress field.  Insofar as the ‘stress field’ is spatially extended, it is therefore capable of orchestrating our individual and collective behaviour.  For example, a thermal field may orchestrate the movement of people from hotter to cooler regions.  This could induce convergence of the people (towards a cool oasis if they were hot) or divergence of the people (away from a hot clearing into the surrounding cool forest.

The point is that the thermal field is an extrinsic behaviour shaping influence that we tend to deny, re-casting the behaviour in terms of ‘free will’ and our being driven by our own locally originating ‘internal purpose’.  So long as we limit ourselves to ‘intrinsic behaviour shaping influence’, we notionally limit our ‘drive’ to either positive or negative net force; i.e. of being attracted to something or being repulsed by something.  As Nietzsche says, we plug these constrained notions (of the origin of our behaviour as deriving from purpose (fight or flight, attraction or repulsion) into our physics theory, so that physics/science is essentially ‘anthropomorphism’;

““Attraction” and “repulsion” in a purely mechanistic sense are complete fictions: a word.  We cannot think of an attraction divorced from an ‘intention.’ — The will to take possession of a thing or defend oneself against it and repel it—that, we “understand”: that would be an interpretation of which we could make use.

In short: the psychological necessity for a belief in causality lies in the inconceivability of an event divorced from intent; by which naturally nothing is said concerning truth or untruth (the justification of such a belief)!  The belief in ‘causae’ falls with the belief in ‘télè’ (against Spinoza and his causalism).” – Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’

‘Causality’ is thus the mechanical counterpart to ‘purpose’ which in turn derives from our ‘ego’ which conceives of our self as a local organism with its own locally originating, internal purpose driven behaviour.   This view egotistically ‘forgets’ that our individual and collective movement is orchestrated ON A PRIMARY BASIS by the spatial dynamics we are included in.

All of the above ‘boils down’ to the fact that extrinsic shaping of dynamic behaviour RULES and the intrinsic shaping of behaviour, as in the notion of ourselves as ‘purposive systems’ is abstraction that comes to us by our notional reducing of our overall experience of being included in and influenced by nonlocal spatially extended ‘stress fields’, to the pseudo-experience of being the perpetrator of local-sourced dynamics.

If we return to the example of the kayakers, the ‘mental trick’ we play on our mind is to notionally impose a fixed absolute space frame over the kayakers so that we can ‘lift each kayak’ out of the overall dynamic by thinking of each of them as moving relative to the fixed reference frame (i.e. as having their own x,y,z,t trajectory).  This ‘works’ fine as a descriptive tool that can disassemble and re-assemble a picture of what is going on, but it loses track of the extrinsic shaping influence that orchestrates individual and collective behaviour.   Sure, we have a description of the coordinates of each kayak at every moment and the net local forces on them at each moment so that we can calculate their individual motion at each moment, but while we can calculate their individual movements, they do not move ‘individually’, the vortex in which they are included orchestrates their individual and collective movement in a manner that they cannot escape from..  We are included in life’s dynamic and have no choice in the matter.  Reality is thus like (a) while (b) represents our ‘ego taking over’

(a)    “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” — John Lennon

(b) “You can create the future of your dreams. This may seem far fetched for most people, but what they do not seem to realize is that their present is the future they created by their past actions or inaction. You are where you are today because of the decisions and actions you took yesterday.”

In the western culture, we understand ‘organization’ as being ‘intrinsic’, shaped from locally sourced behaviour of the acorn-to-oak-tree purposive type as in (b), even though ‘organization’ as we experience it is primarily ‘extrinsic’ and shaped from the outside-in by nonlocal influences (fields).   This is equivalent to ‘the ego taking over’ and this is the stress (the gap between our ego-shaped worldview and the reality of our experience) that we are feeling that we intuit is going to reach a limit and snap out of it (like a compressed or stretched spring). The intuition is a feeling that doesn’t come with all the details comprehended, but simply portends some kind of overall transformation, perhaps in an earthquake type violent release (the collision of planet earth and planet nibiru on December 21, 2012).

What stands to ‘fall’ are ideas like ‘Darwinian evolution’, a ‘credibility-stretching’ intrinsically shaped organization theory which has increasingly given us a sense of ‘who we are since 1859 and Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species’, the full title of which is; ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.’

The ‘credibility’ stretching is not with respect to evolution per se since the idea has been around at least since Anaximander (600 B.C.) but instead of Anaximander’s ‘boundless’ origin of things, Darwin opted for  ‘local origination’ as in Aristotle’s acorn-to-oak-tree theory.  Instead of innovation emerging ‘ecosystem-like’ (mutually interedependent fields of influence); i.e.  from spatial-relational balancing as in ‘field’ dynamics, the innovation is by way of ‘lower forms’ progressing into ‘higher forms’.    His avoidance, like Newton’s, of the ‘three body problem’ wherein innovation could be understood as deriving from three or more entities (flows, fields, objects) moving under one another’s simultaneous mutual influence, put boxed his model in and forced him to come up with a local sourcing of innovation.  Newton’s solution had been the ‘vector field’ and the notion of a locally applied directional force.  Darwin’s was ‘random variation’ accompanied by ‘natural selection’.  Thus ‘wings’ are said to be a random variance that nature has selected so that winged species have persisted.   To many, ‘wings’ do not seem very ‘random’ and the notion of extrinsic organizational shaping influence comes strongly to mind.   The implicit outside-inward (extrinsic/Platonic) shaping of an embryo as it morphs into its adult form is another credibility-stretching requirement for sustaining belief in Darwinian evolution.   The ‘gene’ has been modeled after Aristotle’s acorn-to-oak-tree intrinsic package, but this does not explain how regenerative organisms can rebuild lost parts or how lost parts can regenerate the entire organism.   It is not understood how stem-cells can be introduced into the body and magically turn themselves into whatever types of cells the body seems to need (the process is termed ‘epigenetics’, the changes from which can be transgenerational implying support for Lamarckism).  The ideal forms of the extrinsic organizational shaping influence of Plato, and the notion of outside-in-shaping influence, as in the environmental ‘niches’ of ecosystems scream out to give the answers, but the stubborn Aristotelian acorn-pushing-itself-out-to-become-the-oak-tree (with the outside world as passive resource rather than extrinsic organization shaping influence) continues to resist such a paradigm shift.

Darwinian evolution carries with it a lot of templates for how we ‘egotistically’ see ourselves, as being ‘local material systems with our own locally originating (purposive) agency’, and as being those ‘higher forms’ that have ‘progressed from’ inferior forms.    These ego-based views, which ignore the ecosystem (mutually influencing) view have been incorporated in our western social dynamic prior to Darwin’s theory and it has been argued, not surprisingly, that Darwin’s theory borrowed from the racial supremacism of the times.

Just as our human ego resisted the paradigm shift from the earth-centric worldview to the sun-centred worldview, our ego will resist opening the door to ‘extrinsic organization shaping forces as in Plato’s worldview.  Darwin’s theory concretizes and uses as an ego-supported anchor, the intrinsic acorn-to-oak-tree organization-shaping theory of Aristotle.

Again, the message of Kuhn is that there will be no general ‘radical shift’ (paradigm shift) until an alternative belief system is available that is judged credible.  If not, the established conceptual framework will continue to be adhered to.

Our belief in the (b) worldview; i.e. the credibility of the (b) worldview, is coming directly from our ego, while our belief in the (a) worldview requires a good measure of humility.  The ‘paradigm’ shift, then, would be constituted by a relinquishing of the helm of our ‘self’ by the ego on a collective basis, so that instead of our ‘purposive system steering’ being unnaturally dominant (in our heads only since it cannot dominate in our experienced reality), we can once again attune to the orchestrating influence of Nature’s extrinsic behaviour-shaping influences that we have been stone-walling (i.e. trying to stone-wall since THEY WILL BE HEARD! since ignoring them is not the same as having control over them).

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