Recovery of Western Culture from the Problem of the Double Error
The ‘Double Error Problem’ is Western culture’s use of language and grammar to reduce purely relational experiential reality to the abstract combination of ‘beings’ (things-in-themselves’) with the power of ‘sourcing action and development’, in an ‘Invented Reality’ that ‘occludes’ and ‘takes the place of’ the natural reality of our relational experience.
“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 commentary I would like to make the ‘double error problem’ and its psychological effect, overtly obvious. The ‘double error problem’ is perhaps best described by Nietzsche, who ties it to ‘ego’. It is the problem of ‘sorcery’, i.e. of linguistically pushing a notional ‘being’ underneath an action so as to suggest that the action is ‘sourced’ by a ‘sourcing agent rather than being purely relational as in the transforming relational continuum we share inclusion in.
Nietzsche used the example of ‘lightning flashes’ where the lightning ‘is’ the flashing but in using Western language and grammar to articulate what is going on, we split the relational action into two parts; i.e. the ‘source’ and the ‘action’, as if the source is the author of the ‘action’;
The metaphor of the ‘boil’ and the ‘flow’ may be better in bringing forth fluid impressions which tie to ‘field’ in modern physics and to ‘the Tao’ in Taoism/Buddhism.
That is, there is ‘flow’ as a relational continuum and we use language and grammar to break it apart into the ‘boil’ and the ‘flow’ which gives rise to the ‘ambiguous dichotomy’ of the ‘nature’ versus ‘nurture’ genre; i.e. does the boil source the flow or does the flow source the boil?
This ambiguity (termed the ‘nature’ – ‘nurture’ dichotomy), only arises because of language and the language-based endowing of two different names to different aspects of the one flow, the ‘boil’ standing out as if it were a ‘thing-in-itself’ even though it is ‘appearance’ or an ‘apparition’. That is, the boil in the bend in the river may boil or whirl ceaseless, encouraging us to think of it as a ‘thing-in-itself’ that is the source of its own action, and language allows us to ‘name it’ and use grammar to impute to it the power of sourcing its own action. Once we have named it and used language and grammar to impute to it powers of sourcing its own actions and developments, we enter into an ‘Invented Reality’ based on ‘impressions’ (apparitions)’ that take on a reality of their own thanks to language and grammar.
What may be harder for us to grasp, is that we do the same with ‘humans’ and with all manner of ‘relational forms’, crediting them with the powers of sourcing ‘their own’ behaviour (remember, these are just appearances in the flow) and thus sourcing the developments arising from ‘their own behaviour’. This is where ‘ego’ comes in, when we start using language and grammar to speak of ourselves as if we are the ‘sorcerers’ of our own actions and developments. But we, too, are, in reality, included in the transforming relational continuum in the same relational manner as the boil in flow..
Here is where the split in self-perception comes between Western culture, as contrasted with indigenous aboriginal and Buddhist cultures. For example, the indigenous aboriginal culture, consistent with modern physics, does not understand ‘reality’ by using language and grammar to cognitively split-out relational forms in the flow (apparitions) apart from the flow so as to create two notional realities; i.e. the ‘habitat’ and ‘the ‘inhabitant’. This language and grammar based ‘liberating’ of the relational flow-form (apparition) and reifying it as a ‘thing-in-itsel’, notionally with its own powers of sourcing actions and developments, is ‘Invented Reality’ which could be a useful ‘Wittgenstein ladder’ for sharing our conceptualizing of ‘reality’, a conceptualizing which cannot possibly ‘capture’ our purely relational experience of inclusion as relational forms in a transforming relational continuum.
What such language and grammar constructions can do is ‘conjure up’ in the intellectual mind, an ‘Invented Reality’ that can serve the inquiring mind in the manner of a ‘springboard’ (‘Wittgenstein’s ladder’) that can bring to the imagination an ‘impression’ of the reality of our actual relational experience. Our actual experience of inclusion in the transforming relational continuum cannot be carved into stand-alone representations that can by ‘played back’ as if still valid when taken out of the context of the transforming relational continuum. That it, the ability of the intellectualizing mind to go into a kind of dreamworld or ‘Invented Reality’ stimulated by language and pictures is an interesting and potentially useful (but nevertheless crude and incomplete) approach to experience-sharing.
There is a danger, however, that manifests in Western culture, whereby the language and grammar based ‘Invented Reality’ may be employed NOT SIMPLY AS A ROUGH GO-BY to induce understanding of the ‘transforming relational continuum we share experiential inclusion in’, … but as our ‘operative reality’!
Whether a particular individual has traded away the natural primacy of relational experience over intellectual (language and grammar based) ‘Invented Reality’, can be determined by a simple test;
_1_ Do they believe in the ‘independence’ that is imputed by ‘naming’, as in the naming of relational forms in the transforming relational continuum such as ‘humans’, ‘nations’, ‘corporations’?
-2- Do they believe that ‘named forms’ have the power of sourcing actions and developments?
If the person embraces both of these beliefs, their understanding of ‘reality’ has departed radically from the understanding of reality of indigenous aboriginals, ‘Buddhists’, and modern physics. That is, these two beliefs are the defining characteristics of Western culture and its ‘Invented Reality’.
The ‘reality’ of our actual experience of inclusion within a transforming relational continuum cannot be captured in this type of perspective-limited ‘Invented Realities’ based on the intellectual abstractions of ‘independent beings’ [human beings, nations, corporations] notionally with the powers of sourcing actions and developments that act and interact within an abstract ‘space’ that is separate from the abstract ‘things-in-themselves’ which notionally ‘inhabit’ it. There is no such ‘sorcery’ in the transforming relational continuum of our actual relational experience.
This ‘tool’ of the ‘Invented Reality’ has, in Western culture, ‘run away with the workman’. That is, as relational form in the transforming relational continuum, we are the embodiment of transformation, not ‘being’s (error #1) with the powers of sourcing [error #2) transformation. But when we start believing in ‘our own independent being’ as equipped with powers of sourcing actions and developments, we are making a ‘double error’.
That is, ‘relational transformation’ has no need of ‘local authors’. To insert a notional ‘local author’ as the notional ‘source’ of actions and developments is a ‘double error’, the error of the imputing of the existence of ‘beings’ (error #1) and the error of imputing the powers of sourcing actions and developments to the beings (error #2). As in Nietzsche’s above-cited ‘double error obseration’.
Nietzsche’s insight is complemented by Emerson’s observation that man as a relational form has been ‘pulled into form’ by the transforming relational continuum he is included in, as part of the process of sustaining relational resonance within the evolutionary unfolding, however, Western man’s weakness in succumbing to self-consciousness and ego, has made him forgetful of his being ‘one with everything’ (as the medium of relational balancing) , so that he has falling into the language-based trap that, for experience of communications, recasts him as a ‘being’ with ‘powers of sourcing actions and developments’;.
“Whilst a necessity so great caused the man to exist, his health and erectness consist in the fidelity with which he transmits influences from the vast and universal to the point on which his genius can act. The ends are momentary: they are vents for the current of inward life which increases as it is spent. A man’s wisdom is to know that all ends are momentary, that the best end must be superseded by a better. But there is a mischievous tendency in him to transfer his thought from the life to the ends, to quit his agency and rest in his acts: the tools run away with the workman, the human with the divine. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The Method of Nature’
In other words, as far as our experience informs us, we are NOT ‘things-in-ourselves’ with powers of sourcing actions and developments, we are relational forms in the transforming relational continuum, who are ‘born to move’ in compliance with natural forces so as to sustain relational harmony, that’s how we ‘evolved’, … the relational ‘Harmonies of the World’ (Kepler) inductively shape ongoing development. That’s as modern physics would also understand it.
The cultivating of ‘order’ among ‘humans’ as if humans were independent ‘beings’, out of the context of the transforming relational continuum, is ‘suboptimization’ that is a recipe for ‘psychosis’ and dysfunction.
The Name of the Devil is Suboptimization’
“The above aphorism, attributed to Kenneth Boulding, points to the inherent weakness characterizing the mindset and socio‐economic, political, educational and managerial practices of Western Industrial society as it developed over the past 300 years. It has its basis in the analytic‐reductionistic scientific paradigm, which, despite the remarkable technological applications it spawned, is inappropriate, conflict‐generating and dysfunctional in a world characterized by global interconnectedness and mutual interdependence …” — György Jaros and Martine Dodds-Taljaard
It is language and grammar and the ‘Invented Realities’ we construct with it that encourages us to adopt ‘suboptimization’ as our common mode of intellect-driven operation, even though it; is inappropriate, conflict‐generating and dysfunctional in a world characterized by global interconnectedness and mutual interdependence.
This Western culture-wide condition of dysfunction is where we are led by the ‘double error’ (of using the abstractions of ‘beings with the powers of sourcing actions and developments to construct an ‘Invented Reality’ the we employ as our ‘operative reality’).
How do we ‘get out of it?
The answer to this question will have to play itself out, however, it is clear that we are held back from it through the nonlinear dynamic of ‘lock-in-due-to-high-switching-costs’.
We have elevated in power and influence over changing our mode of operation, those who are benefactors of the dysfunctional system ‘as it is’. That is, the Western culture belief in the ‘producer-product’ model of reality, because it is built into our language and because language has hijacked experience as the primary informer of reality, ‘eclipses’ our experiential understanding of reality in relational terms. Thus;
We’ who explore such topics, cannot easily share them because (a) they do not fit into the typical dinner conversation format of our present culture, since to express them takes a lot of relational connections that can’t fit into a rapid-fire repartee, and (b) because the humanism implicit in trying to share them is not seen as “a humanism of real worth” since it undermines, besmirches or topples the esteemed icons, pillars of society, founding fathers, and celebrities of the culture-in-place.
– Henri Laborit, ‘La Nouvelle Grille’
Laborit is bringing to our attention two powerful forms of ‘lock-in’ that put ‘high switching costs’ in the path of shifting from modern Western culture (with its belief in ‘Invented Realities’ based on notional ‘beings with powers of sourcing actions and developments’ (‘human beings’, ‘nations’ and ‘corporations’), … to a relational experience grounded reality as associates with modern physics, indigenous aboriginal and Buddhist culture.
THE WESTERN CULTURE PATH TO RECOVERY
There would be little point in going head-to-head with the big egos that are the keepers of the ‘lock-in’; i.e. instead of trying to remove the huge ‘weeds’ that have grown in the garden, it would make more sense to re-cultivate the needed diversity. Recuperating those most unfairly devalued by the current system could be a fruitful path.
I would compare this to the problem of dealing with a ‘clostridium difficile (c. difficile) infection (microbial imbalance, really) from which many people continue to die, “because” of its “antibiotics resisting” nature. One might say, instead, because of the shortfall in the allopathic model of illness. As with Western culture, ‘clostridium difficile” achieves ‘lock-in’ with high switching costs’, yet there is a way to deal with it based on understanding health in terms of a sustaining of relational balance within a system (in fact, a natural system is made of relational balancing). Thus the ‘cure’ for a ‘c. difficile infection, rather than going ‘head-to-head’ with it in the good versus evil allopathic style combat, lies in understanding ‘health’ as ‘relational balance’ and therefore working on restoring relational balance in the microbial flora.
On first pass, the rebalancing might be seen in terms of a Robin Hood program of ‘taking from the rich and giving to the poor’, as has been attempted in ‘socialist/communist takeovers, however, that has demonstrably not ‘reached deep enough; i.e. it is based on the mistaken premise; “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs” – Karl Marx.
The reality implied in this quote is, once again, a reality that portrays humans as having the powers of ‘sourcing’ actions and developments; i.e. as ‘producers of products’. This talk of ‘productive forces’ is abstraction that is not supported by our real-life experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum. Man is not really possessed of ‘productive forces’ (sorcery) in the experience-based reality of our inclusion in a transforming relational continuum.
‘From each according to his ability’ … is a subtle psychological anchor that obliquely establishes the concept of man’s power of sourcing actions and developments. It is the same type of distraction as in ‘forgiveness’, where, if one accepts it, anchors in the psyche implicit agreement of ‘authorship’ or ‘sorcery’. That is, ‘forgiveness’ anchors in place the understanding of authorship of an offensive act, while ‘from each according to his ability’ anchors in place the model of a ‘being’ with powers of sourcing actions and developments. Such understandings, implanted like Cuckoos eggs, eclipse/occlude the understanding of reality in terms of relational transformation; i.e. there is no such abstraction as ‘sourcing’ (‘producing’) in the reality of our actual relational experience.
Once again, language and grammar, as used in Western culture, have the power to ‘Invent Reality’ wherein ‘man’, ‘nation’, ‘corporation’ are imputed to have the powers of sourcing actions and developments. This is the source of endemic psychosis in Western culture.
The path to recovery for Western culture as a whole may therefore lie in the hands of those who have suffered from the endemic psychosis that comes from a Western culture imposed belief in ‘beings [humans, nations, corporations] with the notional powers of sourcing actions and developments.
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There is a basic difficulty with vision based understanding in that we do not see ourselves in the ‘perspectival view’ of ‘what is going on out there. Yet, our experience is relational and is informing us in the manner of a relational form in a transforming relational plenum. We thus have two ways of understanding ourselves and the world we live in; i.e. (a) that offered by visual perspective informing us of ‘what is going on out there’, and, (b) that offered by our experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum. As has been pointed out by Heraclitus, Lao Tzu, Wittgenstein, in the reality of our actual relational experience, ‘everything is in flux’ and thus primary reality is not based on ‘things-with-persisting existence’ (aka ‘beings’), and therefore cannot be based on a language and grammar based ‘Invented Reality’ based on notional ‘beings with the powers of sourcing actions and developments’. However, language, grammar and the intellect allows us to Invent Realities’ by ‘naming’ relational forms, imputing to these intrinsically transient, relational flow-forms (the intellectual impression of) persisting ‘thing-in-itself’ existence. Grammar further allows us to ‘animate’ these name-instantiated ‘things-in-themselves’ so as to ‘reconstruct’ the perspectival visual view of ‘what is out there in front of us, in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘the actions and developments sourced by these things-in-themselves’. By this linguistic-abstraction based intellectual manipulation, we are able to construct and deliver to ourselves an ‘Invented Reality based on name-instantiated-things-in-themselves-notionally with powers of sourcing actions and developments.
This ‘Invented Reality’ based on visual perspectives captured in language and grammar has, in Western culture, hijacked the natural primacy of the reality of our relational experience of inclusion in the transforming relational continuum. The use of ‘Invented Realities’ as the ‘operative realities’ of Western culture adherents is the source of aberrant social-relational dynamics; e.g. the believer in Western culture ‘Invented Realities’ believes that relational forms such as humans are endowed with the powers of sourcing actions and developments. This notion is commonly applied to ‘named forms’, so that ‘naming’ becomes an important even ‘sacred’ ritual aspect (‘baptizing’, ‘christening’, ‘incorporating’) of the ‘Invented Reality’. Gatherings of relational forms as in a ‘community’ can be ceremoniously given a name that signifies the coming into existence of an ‘independently-existing nation’, notionally in possession of its own powers of sourcing actions and developments. Such popular language-based games of ‘sorcery’ have been mocked but this practice is ‘locked-in’ to the Western culture acculturated mindset. Critiques include Einstein’s remark; “Nationalism in is an infantile disease; it is the measles of mankind’. One could make the same complaint about ‘ego’ which inserts the sense of an ‘local internal source’ of behavioural animation, that ‘occludes’ the relational understanding of humans, nations, organizations. Nietzsche has pointed out that this problem arises from ‘the Double Error’ of using language and grammar to (a) impute ‘being’ to a relational form in the flow, and (b) to impute being-based powers of sourcing actions and developments.
The intellectual paradox of ‘nature-or-nurture’ is keeping the blinders on Western cultural adherents; e.g. is it the rotten apple that sources the rotting of the barrel of apples, or is it the rotten barrel of apples that sources the rotting of the pristine new entrant? The paradox here arises from the perspectival view; i.e. ‘sourcing’ or ‘sorcery’ is a Western culture abstraction that comes from the perspectival view; there is no ‘sorcery’ in one’s relational experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum.
Western culture has created so much ‘lock-in’ to ego-based belief in ‘beings’ with the powers of ‘sorcery’ of actions and developments that the ‘switching costs’ have become huge. As suggested in the body of this essay, the path to recovery may be through the energies of those who have been ‘bitten’ but not ‘broken’ by the dysfunction built into Western culture, and who are working on recovery that does not simply seek (or is pushed into) a return to the aberrant ‘normality’ of Western culture but opens the way to realization that Western culture ‘normality’ is the illness we need to recover from.
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