Rediscovering Holodynamic Living: The Revaluation of Values
I don’t know anyone who does not appreciate the values captured in Paula Underwood’s story [told in her capacity as keeper of the Native American oral tradition], ‘My Father and the Lima Beans’. It is a very simple story, taking less than three minutes to read. Meanwhile, the values implicit in this story are virtually opposite to the values in our modern Western society, suggesting to me that Nietzsche was right, there must be a ‘revaluation of all values’.
The rediscovering of holodynamic living implies such a ‘revaluation of values’. ‘Holodynamic living is the view that comes to us in a ‘relational understanding’ of the world we live in.
Another Native American [Kiowa] author, Scott Momaday, seems to go just as directly to heart of the matter as this excerpt from the life experience of Abel in ‘House Made of Dawn’ captures;
“… and you just looked around at all the new and beautiful things. And after a while, the trader put some things out on the counter, sacks of flour and sugar, a slab of salt pork, some canned goods, and a little bag full of the hard red candy. And your grandfather took off one of his rings and gave it to the trader. It was a small green stone, set carelessly in thin silver. It was new and it wasn’t worth very much, not all the trader gave for it, anyway. And the trader opened one of the cans, a big can of whole tomatoes, and your grandfather sprinkled sugar on the tomatoes and the two of you ate them right there and drank bottles of sweet red soda pop. And it was getting late and you rode home in the sunset and the whole land was cold and white. And that night your grandfather hammered the strips of silver and told you stories in the firelight. And you were little and right there in the center of everything, the sacred mountains, the snow-covered mountains and the hills, the gullies and the flats, the sundown and the night, everything — where you were little, where you were and had to be.”
What do these two stories have in common?
[see also the five-minute overview of this essay]
There is in both the sense that the individual is ‘in the centre of everything, where we are and have to be’. We are included in an unfolding web of relations that is greater than us, that inspires us continually to ‘rise to the occasion’, to let our potentialities creatively assert in intimate coniunctio with the unfolding world that we are uniquely situationally included in.
Our modern society, the now globally dominating ‘Western civilization’ has inverted this implicit ‘value’. It has shifted the centre of everything to the interior of the individual and sees the individual as a ‘thing-in-itself’ and values the individual on the basis of ‘what this thing-in-itself does’, re-rendering the world view in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’. The ‘community’ is then seen as a ‘Frankenstein’ deliberately constructed from its parts, rather than as a web of relations inspired/induced/orchestrated by the web of relations it is situationally included in. In this view of community, we must select, reward and respect ‘the best parts’ and make sure that the ‘defective parts’ do not disturb the good work of the superior performers, the ‘pillars’ of our community. In other words, we must take a purificationist approach to the world we live in. Our values and sense of ‘justice’ must orient to punishing bad/sinful deeds and rewarding good/God-like deeds, … all in an effort to ‘construct a faultless/perfect community’ which, like the Virgin Mary’s child will be conceived by a divine force coming through her centre without interference from natural worldly desires.
In the Native American myth, this continuously unfolding spatial web-of-relations that each of us is uniquely, situationally in the centre of, ‘where she is and has to be’, is the sensory source of inspiration, orchestration, rising to the occasion, epigenetic development of body and character, and shaper of behaviour. It is this outside-inward inspiration in coniunctio with inside-outward blossoming of assertive potentialities that constitutes the world as a dynamic unity. How could a flower ‘grow’ without being teased into its beautiful becoming by sun, rain, fresh air and nurturing soil? How much value do we discard/ignore by saying that the flower ‘grows’ in the sense that something in its interior is the source of its ‘growth’?
Our scientific viewing lenses reduce dynamics in the world to ‘what things-in-themselves do’ as if from their internal components and processes.
But, our experience suggests that we live in a continually transforming relational space where the ‘spatial-relations’ are in a natural precedence over the ‘material things’ which are continually gathering and being re-gathered in the relational flow. Johannes Kepler, in ‘Harmonies of the World’ (1619) claimed that the most profound/divine aspect of the celestial dynamic was in the overall harmony of the web of relations, which the ‘local harmonies’ of planets by twos [e.g. earth and sun] deferred to. His model that the planets ‘moved in elliptical orbits around the sun’ [a two-body view of dynamics], being an obvious flatspace or Euclidian planar-geometry view of dynamics, was merely a descriptive expedient not to be confused with the ineffable harmony of the whole, the ‘holodynamic’ ‘harmonies of the world’ which lay innately beyond his three ‘laws of motion’.
Rediscovering relational living involves a revaluation of values.
The community harmony in the ‘Lima Beans’ story transcends the behaviours of the participants; i.e. the community dynamic in relational terms pulls and teases their behaviours out of them, pulling on them to ‘rise to the occasion’ and allow potentialities to blossom forth that they didn’t know could arise within them and which never would have but for the orchestrating pull of the relational space they were uniquely, situationally included in. Of course, if the implicit need in the relational dynamic could have been better matched by the action of an individual with six arms instead of two, that is not going to happen, but the orchestration of three people with two arms each is a possibility, and when three people rise to the occasion and pitch in together to meet some need in the unfolding spatial dynamics they share inclusion in, a sense of camaraderie and brotherhood arise with it that warms the heart, that is something to be ‘valued’.
The invention of money and wages and the concept of ‘paid labour’ have ‘inverted’ the natural order of things by modeling dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’. The ‘corporation’ is a ‘Frankenstein community’ constructed from notional ‘things-in-themselves’ or ‘commodity parts’ and ‘what they do’. We are raising our children to become ‘commodity parts’ that will ‘slot in’ to ‘Frankenstein communities’ called corporations, which are slowly but surely replacing natural community. In fact, communities are now ‘incorporating’ so as to view and manage themselves in a centre-driven manner. This is the inverse of the community in the Lima Beans story, and the corporation does not have the same values; i.e. the corporation sees the community dynamic as intentionally managed from its own centre, driven and directed by its own internal intellect and purpose like the biological sciences ‘machine’ view of an organism/flower.
The biological sciences ‘flower’ is a ‘Frankenstein flower’, that notionally develops and behaves as determined by its internal components and processes, directed out of an implied ‘internal centre’. That is all that is possible in science since science views all dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’. When science talks about flowers pushing forth from the soil and sunflowers in a field full of sunflowers all turning to orient to the changing position of the sun, do you think that science is going to credit the relational space we live in as the orchestrating influence? No way, science will without exception explain such phenomena AVOIDING all outside-inward influence and notionally attributing the source of the behaviour to the internal components and processes of the notional ‘thing-in-itself’; e.g. the concept of heliotropism sticks firmly with the ‘what things-in-themselves do’ model and resists the notion that space is relational [i.e. that the continually transforming dynamics of relational space are in a natural precedence over the development and behaviour of those things that gather and are regathered with in it.]
“Tracking the sun is properly known as heliotropism. It is a temporary change in the orientation of plant parts in relation to the position of the sun (or other light source). Heliotropism is accomplished by differential swelling and contraction of cells and can be reversed by changing the position of the lightsource.”
The view is expressed in the ‘what things-in-themselves do’ terms that ‘the sun moves and then the flower follows’, ‘the sun warms and then the seed sprouts’ etc. Machean physics, like the Native American worldview see these dynamics as ‘one’; i.e. in the very different terms of the transformation of spatial-relations rather than in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ as measured within a notional absolute space and absolute time reference frame. That is, to say ‘the sun shines’ or ‘the sun warms’ is the ‘double error’ that Nietzsche speaks of. This warming or shining is the sun, it is the sensation [a basic element or ‘sensa’ in Mach’s terms]. Sure there is a bright body in the sky that we associate with the warming we feel, but by the same toke, there is an eye and a rotating pinwheel in the sky [the eye of the hurricane] that we associate with the rains and wind we feel, but that doesn’t mean that the warmth and or the wind ‘jumpstarts’ from out of the centre of these local features in the sky.
These VISUALLY ‘local’ features are themselves included in a larger spatial-relational dynamic and it is this larger dynamic that we too are not only included in, but are gathered into who we are in. We have no justification in our natural experience to make this arbitrary splitting out of visible features and declaring them to be ‘things-in-themselves’ with their own local internal jumpstart-authored development and behaviour. These features that we notionally split out from the continuing transforming relational space and which we declare to be ‘things-in-themselves’ with ‘their own internal component and process jumpstart authoring of their development and behaviour’, insofar as their ‘thing-in-itselfness’, are artefacts of the unrestricted activity of the mind. While we impose these artefacts on our ‘what things do’ mental modeling of dynamics, which otherwise could not exist, they are not imposed on Nature.
The ‘values-nostalgia’ that is aroused in us in reading Paula Underwood’s ‘My Father and the Lima Beans’ is for our lost valuing of the sacred harmonies of the relational space we live in, the orphic force of the evolving universe that calls to us individually and collectively to rise to the occasion and become what we can become, to participate in singing and dancing the world into existence, to take our place in the unfolding natural scheme of things.
But no, our civilized values have been realigned to this view of dynamics as always coming out of some material centre, be it on the scale of the notional ‘Big Bang’, or on the scale of the human organism, the flower even, the people as cogs in the Frankenstein machinery of modern community. We have invested our values in ‘what things-in-themselves do’, how much ‘knowledge’ and/or ‘know-how’ they have acquired and deploy. We are replacing communities with ‘corporations’ and our values are such that we encourage and educate our children to acquire such knowledge as can give them a high ‘thing-in-itself’ performance rating which is the value that our society judges, rewards and pays respect to. These values stem from what people as ‘things-in-themselves’ are now. This is what we see behind the daughter’s initial choosing of the members of her community in the Lima Bean story. But her father reminds her that ‘what we are’ as seen when we scrutinize others or ourselves with a crow-like gaze, as if we can be assessed as ‘things-in-ourselves’, does not inform us of that other view of who we are as participants in a collective ‘rising to the occasion’, where the opening of possibilities in the unfolding web of relations that unites us inspires and orchestrates the blossoming of our unseen potentialities, ‘unseen’ because they do not exist ‘in us’ as ‘things-in-ourselves’ out of the context of the relationally defined orchestrating receptacle that pulls them into being. The situation engenders the heroism whether of the individual or the collective. It is our distorted worldview that sees all dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ that inverts the attribution and re-situates the animative sourcing back in the interior of the ‘things-in-themselves’.
When we see heroism we tend to point to a person and say; ‘you are a hero’, as if ‘heroism’ were an animative sourcing that resides within the individual and wakes up and goes to work every once in a while. Many accused of ‘being a hero’ will reject this saying that ‘the orchestrating influence of the web of spatial relations I was situated in animated by behaviour. The situation was the primary author of ‘heroism’, not me. Anyone would have done the same had they found themselves in this situation.’
As Nietzsche observes, what we experience as stimulus, we commonly confuse for ‘will’. The stimulus arises within us to stop the enfant being swept down the raging river and we let our behaviour be orchestrated by this stimulus. But afterwards, people will say that it was our ‘desire’ to save the child that was the animating author of our behaviour, and ‘desire’ is something we commonly translate as ‘intellectual intention/will’. In this same manner, sexual stimulus thus becomes translated into ‘sexual desire’ and from there into a ‘will’ to have sexual intercourse. From this line of thinking, a natural stimulus becomes seen as something sinful since civilized people as ‘things-in-themselves’ operate out of their own internal intellection and purpose.
The Virgin Mary could not still be a Christian religious icon if her conceiving of Jesus had flowed from natural stimulus. In Christian belief, natural stimulus must be rejected and replaced by centre-of-self initiated spiritual-informed intellectual intention/will. This is not only a devaluing of the influence of natural stimulus, it is the assigning of negative value to it. Our civilized values instead go to our intellectually jumpstarted and theologically approved ‘will’, and it is from such a value system that the development of community becomes deliberate and mechanical and our reward become attached to ‘superior performance/achievement’ in this modeling of community as a ‘thing-in-itself’ driven and directed from out of its own internal components and processes.
Nature calls to us, its web of spatial-relations open up stimulating possibilities that we sense. As Mach says, the ‘sensa’ are neither wholly ours nor wholly ‘out there’; i.e. the ‘sensa’ are the basic elements of physical reality. They signal our outer-inner, habitat-inhabitant ‘conjugate relation’ as in Mach’s principle: “The dynamics of the habitat are conditioning [stimulating] the dynamics of the inhabitants at the same time as the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning [stimulating] the dynamics of the habitat”. The sensa are both psychical and physical at the same time.
In a relational space, the orchestrating influence that would have us ‘rise to the situation’ is the ‘physical reality’ but once we accept that we are ‘things-in-ourselves’, we must relegate ‘the call of nature’ to something ‘psychical’, something ‘in our heads.
One can imagine the confusion that arises in people indoctrinated to regard the real physical pulls on them as ‘in their heads’. The man that felt the direct stimulus from his inclusion in a relational space, to pull the infant from the raging river, doesn’t have that much of a problem when people tell him that his action was sourced in his head, from a latent heroic will that was awakened. But what if the direct stimulus led to sexual intercourse with an underage girl? This time, the confusing of stimulus with ‘will’ is going to create social problems for him. The problem I am referring to is not to do with the potential problem of girls having sex too young. Many do, and in many cases there is no problem. It is instead with the belief that his actions were driven and directed by his internal will, as is our habitual scientific/Western cultural interpretation of dynamics; i.e. always in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’.
There is a reason why it strikes our funny-bone when we hear of the man who was asked how he pleaded when he comes before the judge for having sex with underage girls and he responds: ‘I plead insanity, your honour, I’m just crazy about that stuff’.
Is the ‘stimulus’ real/physical as Machean physics says, or is it ‘in our heads’?
Psychology imputes these stimuli to be ‘in our heads’ rather than ‘real/physical’. Thus we get a whole new schema to try to explain things, in the wake of having assumed the local, independent existence of ‘things-in-themselves’ with their own internal process [intellect and purpose] driven and directed behaviours. That is, we can no longer treat sexual stimulus as real/physical after we have ‘set up’ dynamic forms such as ourselves as machines that ‘sense, interpret, decide and act’. This scientific model of ourselves conjures up concepts such as ‘temptation’; e.g. the ‘idea’ of having sex with a young girl, a desire or will that is ‘acted upon’ by the individual understood as a sensing-responding machine whose actions are mediated by intellect and purpose.
Make no mistake, this is the same inversion of mental model that occurs in the notion of ‘community’ in the Lima Beans story. The orchestrating pull of the relational-spatial situation the people collective are included in, that inspires them to ‘rise to the situation’ is ‘real/physical’ in Machean physics, it is not ‘in-their-heads’. If they set up their community as a corporation, choosing each of the parts and having a central authority instruct them as to what they should do, we are not just throwing cold water on some ‘team spirit’ they might otherwise have had, we are preventing them from engaging with the real/physical world they are situationally included in, and instead encouraging them to drive their own behaviours out of their heads, as directed by their own intellect and purpose. The stimulus is real/physical and unfolding from the dynamics of a relational space and not ‘psychological’ as in ‘desire’ as a ‘will’ as ‘psychologists’ would seem to make it.
Carl Jung chose to put everything into the psychological realm rather than accept Mach’s view that space is relational and thus that sensa are physical and psychical at the same time. To top this off, he chose to see the ‘psychological’ as ‘reality’. As Suzanne Gieser says in ‘The Innermost Kernal: Depth Psychology and Quantum Physics. Wolfgang Pauli’s dialogue with C.G. Jung’.
“A statement is ‘psychologically true’ in the sense that even it if is clearly not true in an objective sense it tells us about the way the mind functions. This assumption was not primarily a philosophical viewpoint to Jung but the basis of his way of working with his patients; it was for him the direct route to an insight into their minds. In his effort to understand and help his patients Jung’s first, and in fact only, concern was to take people’s statements and experience seriously, even if they were contrary to so-called ‘common sense’. He had this in mind when he elaborated his constructive, or synthetics, method, a method opposed to reductionism and to classic scientific causality.
With the ‘reality of the psyche’ as starting point Jung believed that it was possible to proceed beyond the old conflict between idealism and materialism. Existence does not have to be reduced to the one or the other if it is realized that reality is, to us, ultimately psychic. The psyche is the medium, which combines physiological and spiritual information in a psychic fact. Spirit and matter are only names for the perceived source or place of origin of the mental content. … The mistake that many philosophers have made, says Jung, is that they have identified the human psyche with the spirit, thus made spirit the subject, and matter the object. Such a one-sided and erroneous division must, like all distortions, eventually be reversed. Jung therefore saw it as symptomatic that we live in a time when the metaphysics of the spirit is being replaced by the metaphysics of matter. It is a remarkable state of affairs when psychology is trying to reduce the soul to biochemical processes and movements of electrons, while physics is trying to explain the lack of regularity in the interior of the atom as evidence of spiritual life.
What is special about the position of modern [i.e. Jung’s] psychology, according to Jung, is that it can no longer allow itself to reduce the spiritual to the physical or vice versa. It has instead to find a new viewpoint, a viewpoint characterized by both-and. A third viewpoint is needed which can unite the physical and the spiritual explanatory perspective. This third viewpoint is the reality of the psyche. Like Kant and James, Jung argues that we cannot know anything about the thing in itself. The only reality about which we can speak, therefore, is psychic reality and psychological truths. We cannot reach beyond the psyche.” — Suzanne Gieser, ‘The Innermost Kernal: Depth Psychology and Quantum Physics. Wolfgang Pauli’s dialogue with C.G. Jung’.
It is, first of all, by accepting this notion of a ‘thing-in-itself’ that we create the ‘split’ between ‘self’ and ‘other’ and/or the world of ideas and the world of matter. As Mach points out, this split is unnecessary and, therefore, resolving the complications that come with it is unnecessary.
While Mach saw stimuli as a quality of the relational space that we are included flow-features within, psychologists, including Jung, went along with the view of ‘self’ as a ‘thing-in-itself’. Starting from there, “Jung argues that we cannot know anything about the thing in itself. The only reality about which we can speak, therefore, is psychic reality and psychological truths. We cannot reach beyond the psyche.”
The influence that induces the people collective in the Lima Bean story to jointly ‘rise to the occasion’, in Machean physics, is a real physical force [recall that the animating influence associating with the continually transforming relational space is the same animating influence that is gathering/organizing dynamics forms of all types, including humans]. Once one imputes the notion of a ‘thing-in-itself’, however, the behaviour of the thing-in-itself is seen as jumpstarting from out of the centre of the thing-in-itself; i.e. as coming from its instinctive/subconscious intellect and purpose or its conscious intellect and purpose. This view takes the animating influence out of physical reality and puts it into the realm of ‘spirit’; e.g. ‘team spirit’. It therefore becomes a ‘problem’ that Jung sets out to resolve; i.e. the ‘spirit’ – ‘matter’ split.
This ‘problem’ does not even exist in the Machean relational space worldview. Furthermore, psychology, by accepting the notion of ‘thing-in-itselfness’ or ‘being’ or ‘identity’ as part of its ‘reality’, is itself the author of the ‘spirit’ – ‘matter’ split that it then must struggle with and try to resolve.
All these non-local, non-visible, non-material [purely relational] influences that are ‘real/physical’ in Machean physics and in the aboriginal worldview, are swept into the realm of ‘spirit’ and/or ‘psyche’ in the Western view and in Western psychology and thus as forces that derive from the interior of the individual seen as a ‘thing-in-itself’.
In aboriginal justice, as is being re-introduced in general in our society as ‘restorative justice’ and more generally ‘restorative practice’ [e.g. ‘peace-making circles’], the response by the community is to ‘conflict arising’ within the community and no blame is assigned, not even for murder [who is going to blame child soldiers as independently acting ‘things-in-themselves’ apart from the Western justice system or as it is called in restorative justice circles ‘institutionalized vengeance’]? The influences/stimuli as arise in the relational space we live in are assumed, in the aboriginal worldview, to be ‘real’. Attractive females walking around half-naked who claim a right to ‘dress as they please’ does not detract from the physical reality of the stimuli that arises in the relational space they share inclusion with men in. In restorative justice, the community would work together so as to restore, cultivate and sustain balance and harmony in the relational dynamics. But in Western society, as Nietzsche points out, ‘stimulus’ rather than being accepted as ‘real/physical’ is translated into ‘desire’ and then ‘will’ because that’s the only way one can model behaviour after one has cast the individual as a ‘thing-in-itself’.
In the Western belief system and justice system, therefore, the sexual ‘offences’ are traced back to their notional ‘source’ in the centre of the ‘thing-in-itself’ where ‘the mind’ and its intellect and purpose are purported to be jumpstart animating source of the sexual action [or community-spirited action]. The trail does not lead back any farther than into the ‘psyche’ of the individual. For example, it does not lead back into the relational dynamics which the participants of the community are included in, as it does in Machean physics and aboriginal restorative justice. The sexual offender is seen as acting out of his undisciplined-by-moral-values psyche, as a breaker of moral law. The young girls with skirts up to their labia and nipples poking seductively through transparent blouses have nothing to do with the intellectual decisions of independently-existing things-in-themselves or ‘machines made of meat’ as the biological sciences describe organisms [unless one lives in a Muslim country where the girls may instead be stoned for moral law violations].
In Western justice, sexual offences are dealt with out of the context of the relational dynamics they arise in. The fox put in with the chickens, if he takes a chicken, is acting out of his own ‘thing-in-itself’ volition/will/psyche. That is all the scientific model of the organism as ‘thing-in-itself’ allows. Its true we wouldn’t leave our 13 year-old boys and girls naked in a swimming pool unattended because we know we would have a lot of pregnancies resulting. That is why we designate a ‘legal age’ where prosecutions can commence for ‘having sex with minors’. The idea is not that we are acknowledging that sexual stimulus is physically real influence that arises in the dynamics of relational space. No, we continue to maintain that the organism is a ‘thing-in-itself’ whose behaviour jumpstarts from his own internal organs and processes, so that if we track back ‘what he does’, the animative sourcing of it cul-de-sacs in his own interior or ‘psyche’. We say instead that ‘young people don’t know what they are doing’. They don’t know ‘the consequences of their actions’. This makes it appear as if sexual interplay is a random action, rather than being an outside-inward orchestrated action in conjugate relation with inside-outward asserting action as in the relational space of Machian physics.
Then, at the age of 14 or so, these children, if they live in Western civilization, are supposed to cross over the line where they should have received sufficient indoctrination to know ‘good’ from ‘bad’ and to conduct their behaviour accordingly. At this point, if they exprience a powerful stimulus and cross over some socially specified boundary of behaviour, they are ‘guilty’ of WILLFULLY breaking a moral law.
The thing-in-itself can only operate out of its own internal organs and processes and this we purport it does from infancy throughout its life. That is our scientific definition of an ‘organism’. The difference between an ‘animal’ and ‘civilized person’ is a difference that supposedly resides in the ‘internal processes’ of the ‘thing-in-itself’; e.g. in the knowledge, intellection and purpose of the thing-in-itself. Thus, the child is born an animal and then becomes a civilized person by a process of indoctrination.
Not so in the aboriginal culture. The person is never a ‘thing-in-itself’ and is born and remains an animal. It is not seen as acting from out of its own interior but its behaviour is seen as arising from the relational dynamics it is situationally included in, the same relational dynamics as are continually gathering and regathering ‘persons’. Therefore, the concept of ‘blame’ is alien to ‘aboriginal justice’ and the ‘problem’ is only superficially seen as an ‘offender-victim’ problem. It is dealt with as a ‘conflict’ that arises in the relational dynamics of community that requires ‘healing’ as in ‘restoring, cultivating and sustaining balance and harmony in those relational dynamics.’
Society, which is globally dominated by the worldview of Western civilization which sees dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’, is in the process of working this ‘inversion of values’ into the general social dynamic, converting communities into corporations, and transforming its youth into ‘highly performant contributors’ within community-as-productive-machine. The outside-inward orchestrating influence of the fertile valley and pioneering settlers is no longer needed since the direction of the dynamic and the values have been inverted. At the same time, Western civilization’s moral law based system of justice is relentless in attributing the source of conflict to individual behaviour; i.e. to the internal ‘psyche’ of the person-as-thing-in-itself. This justice system is creating a split between good morally irreproachable rich and powerful people people, on the one hand, and evil morally reproachable poor and impotent people on the other hand, and unlike the aboriginal justice system, not seeing the source of conflict as arising from the relational space dynamics, since the institutionalized model of dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ does not allow such an interpretation.
Today, if a community experiences a rape or a shooting massacre, it looks for answers in the ‘troubled psyche’ of the ‘offending causal agent’. That is, our tracing back of the animative sourcing of the event that we interpret as an ‘offensive behaviour’ on the part of an ‘offender, cul-de-sacs in the ‘psyche’ of the person involved. This lets the community dynamic ‘off the hook’ and is thus a recipe for further degeneration in the social dynamic. On the other hand, the aboriginal view is that the conflict can only arise in the relational dynamics of community since this notional ‘thing-in-itself’ that Western belief systems interpose in their portrait of the world dynamic makes no sense if one acknowledges that one lives within a world of flux; i.e. in a continually transforming relational space, as is the Machean view.
Jung’s claim will be that “We cannot reach beyond the psyche” and that we must therefore ‘heal the psyche’, but Mach’s claim is that we are denying the physical reality of ‘sensa’ and that we are obscuring our real physical experience by confusing the ‘physical’ for the ‘psychical’ and vice versa.
Jung appears to have a problem with Christianity and the moral law approach, and within the [already bogus] model of the ‘thing-in-itself’ that splits the individual into matter and spirit, has intellectually resolved the split using the ‘third viewpoint’; i.e. the both/and reality of the psyche. The split is resolved but the psyche is not yet healed, and the problem then eludes the pursuer like a snake beneath a rug, where it’s next refuge is ‘the collective unconscious’.
If we could suspend our imposing of ‘being’ as Nietzsche and Mach and others argue we must, we suspend the notion of the individual as a ‘thing-in-itself’ which dissolves the notion of the spirit and matter split, and allows us to acknowledge once again, as aboriginal cultures have never stopped acknowledging, the ‘physical reality’ of ‘sensa’ and the relational nature of space and the forms that gather and are regathered within it. As with restorative justice and restorative practice, we can understand conflict in the relational dynamics of community as ‘just that’, without having to impose an ‘offender-victim’ interpretation on the conflict, or, if we do, acknowledging that (a) the animating source of the conflict-called-offence does NOT cul-de-sac in the internal psyche of the visually-identified ‘causal agent’, and that (b) the community dynamic is a relational dynamic and is the source of conflict that arises within it; i.e. the community dynamic is NOT constituted by ‘thing-in-themselves’ and ‘what things do’ but is a relational-spatial continuum, obviating the notion that the conflict could be traced to one of these notional ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what they did’.
The child-soldier’s murder of people in his community is an unfolding that does not cul-de-sac in the psyche of the child-murderer. Such a notion rests dependently on the ‘thing-in-itself’ model of the individual. The child-soldier and those murdered by the child-soldier are dynamic forms within a continually transforming relational space. They are among the forms that are continually gathering and regathering in the transforming relational space. There can be no separation of ‘offender’ and ‘victim’ from the community dynamic they are included in. The visual schaumkommen (appearances) is to see the ‘offender’ as the animative source of the offensive behaviour just as we see hurricane Katrina as the ‘offender’ that wreaks destruction on New Orleans.
The ‘real/physical’ dynamic is relational; i.e. the continuing transformation of relational space. If we want to understand the dynamics of conflict that we visually observe as dynamic forms in conflict, we must understand the relational dynamics from which they derive which are non-local, non-visible and non-material but PHYSICAL/REAL. The dynamic forms are made of the transforming relational dynamics they are included in. To insist on directing our inquiry in through the dynamic form seen as notional ‘thing-in-itself’ and its notional internal ‘psychological’ processes is to ‘lose the trail’ and to end up ‘blaming’ the notional ‘thing-in-itself’ for ‘the murder’ and/or ‘excusing him’ because of ‘his troubled spirit’ or ‘his troubled psyche’. The work then becomes, after institutionalized vengeance has had its go; (a) resolve his troubled spirit as in ‘redemption’ [‘Dead Man Walking’] or (b) through a process of psychotherapy, heal his damaged psyche by facilitation the sacred marriage of anima and animus. Meanwhile, the community is not involved as in aboriginal justice and values, so that the community must be healed one person at a time.
Anarchists and other ‘revolutionaries’ may not have the right model, but they are not prepared to wait for that process to play itself out. They know that the outbreaks of offensive behaviours in the community do not have an animative source that cul-de-sacs in the psyche of the local, visible, material ‘offender’. They are prone to simply dividing up the social collective into ‘offenders’ and ‘victims’ in the opposite sense that the justice system does because they too, have stuck themselves with the ‘what things-in-themselves do’ model.
To close the loop with ‘My Father’s Lima Beans’, the ‘values-nostalgia’ that we feel, is in my view, deriving from the loss of our belief in the reality of the outside-inward orchestrating pull that pulls our assertive potentialities into blossom. We want ourselves and everyone to be able to experience this pull and we feel bad because we, as a culture/civilization, have chosen to ‘pooh-pooh it’ and claim that whatever we feel as ‘things-in-ourselves’ must derive from our interior, from nano-processes within our ‘thing-in-itself-sense’, or from our ‘psyche’. Thus has our society inverted our values and our view of dynamics, and this leads to a deconstruction of community into a collective of things-in-themselves and a reconstruction of community dynamics by way of the intentional dynamics of a collection of things-in-themselves [an authoritarian hierarchy such as a corporation]. When we see individuals who have not had sufficient exposure to the outside-inward orchestrating force that pulls the bejeezus out of their assertive potentialities and blossoms them out, … being ‘judged’ as they are excluded because of the machine model we now apply to everything, wherein we must make use of the most performant and most perfect things-in-themselves to optimize our community’s production and provide for everyone, we intuit the ‘loss’ in this and have nostalgia for the values of childhood where we were allowed to run about in the natural suction chamber that pulls our assertive potentialities into blossom, and we are not yet being judged and segregated in the purificationist processes of a mechanistic, mechanizing society.
I can understand why we stopped believing in the outside-inward orchestrating pull when it was called ‘spirit’. It clashed with the scientific model of man wherein every force must derive from material cause. But the concept of ‘spirit’ was only needed because of our having, in the first place, imposed the concept of ‘thing-in-itself’ on ourselves. This is what Mach is saying and Nietzsche too and this notion arises naturally in me as well. The ‘thing-in-itself’ model forces us to think that all of our behaviours have to come in to us through the interior of our thing-in-itself, through our ‘psyche’. The relational space world view of Mach acknowledges the physical reality of direct outside-inward orchestrating influence [simultaneous with inside-outward asserting action]. This makes sense to me. It has us suspend judgement in the ‘offender-victim’ topology and see conflict as something which arises in the relational space dynamic which not only sources the behaviour of the inhabitants of the relational space but gathers them in the first place. Thus, our dealing with conflicts as they arise must attend to the relational dynamic and not simply stop at the superficial ‘offender-victim’ level. It also allows us to accept as ‘real’ the orchestrating influence that asks us to take our place in the continuously unfolding scheme of things so that our ‘becoming’ can continue to be pulled into us by this influence, and so we don’t give up on it and start thinking that our development has to be forcibly imposed from our centre outwards, ‘willfully’, ‘purposefully’.
As Mach said, the root of this self-inflicting of a ‘thing-in-itself’ model on ourselves can be seen as the ‘figure and ground’ problem. Instead of understanding the ‘figure’ and the ‘ground’ as two separate things, we can understand them as a conjugate relation in the dynamics of a relational space, as with the hurricane as a dimple in the relational flow of the atmosphere.
To explore what’s involved in this, we need to get into what might be called ‘relational understanding’.
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PART II A Reading Guide to Relational Understanding
What is ‘relational understanding’?
My writing, for example, is couched in ‘relational understanding’ which differs from ‘rational understanding’ in a manner discussed by Ernst Mach using the metaphor of ‘figure and ground’. Rational understanding is in terms of the dynamics of figures; i.e. it is in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’. Relational understanding acknowledges that figure and ground [matter and space, inhabitant and habitat] are in conjugate relation, as in the case of a hurricane [figure] and the atmospheric flow-space it gathers in [ground]. Mach points out that PHYSICAL REALITY is where “the dynamics of the habitat/ground are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants/figures at the same time as the dynamics of the inhabitants/figures are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat/ground.” [‘Mach’s principle’].
Our standard way of discussing/understanding dynamics IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION [i.e. not in aboriginal and buddhist and vedic approaches to understanding] is to reduce dynamics to ‘what figures do’ where ‘figures’ are understood as ‘things-in-themselves’. For example, we know that a hurricane is a figure that is in conjugate relation with the atmospheric flow space [ground] that it gathers in [the figure is a ‘dimple in the flow’], but for convenience we impute all of the authorship of the dynamic to the ‘figure’ and we say that; ‘Katrina is intensifying and growing larger; … Katrina is moving north towards the Gulf Coast; … Katrina is wreaking destruction on New Orleans;… Katrina is dissipating.’.
Essentially, our habit or ‘convention’ of convenience is to mentally superimpose an absolute space and time reference frame over the ‘figure’ and describe what the figure does relative to an absolute frame, rather than dealing with the complexity of its being a dynamic ‘dimple’ in the dynamic ground, rather than a ‘thing-in-itself’ in empty space with ‘its own internal process driven and directed development and behaviour.
Since we reduce ourselves and biological organisms in general in this manner, this reduction we build into our language/discourse has a profound influence on how we see ourselves and the world; i.e. it has a profound influence on ‘what is reality’ to us. [This is discussed by Sapir and Whorf and is termed ‘the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis’].
That’s the gist of difference between ‘relational understanding’ which acknowledges the conjugate figure/ground relation, and ‘rational understanding’ which reduces dynamics to ‘what things-in-themselves do’.
What may be ‘detected’ in this writing [in the APN website] is that the comments are in terms of ‘relational understanding’ instead of the usual ‘rational understanding’.
One of the ramifications here is that ‘hierarchy’ follows from ‘rational understanding’ or ‘thing-in-itself based understanding’ but not from ‘relational understanding. For example, as soon as one imposes ‘thing-in-itself’ status on ‘figure’ one must assume that its behaviour derives from its own internal processes; i.e. it must have its own ‘internal direction’ or ‘internal management’ of its behaviour. It must have an internal centre of control [management] as well as operational components to achieve behaviour [workers].
In the relational view, for example, the fertile valley [‘land of opportunity’] beckons and someone starts tilling the soil and someone else joins in and starts planting and someone builds some tools for the harvesting and someone else builds a grindstone to make some flour from the grain and a community farming operation ‘gathers’ RELATIONALLY in the general flow of life. The evolutionary drive is a combination of ‘epigenesis’ [outside-inward ground-to-figure orchestration by the opening of spatial possibility] and ‘genesis’ [inside-outward figure-to-ground blossoming of assertive potentialities].
NOW, if we lift out all the little wriggling creatures in this ‘community farming operation’ and hold them up in the air against a blank background we can apply ‘analytical inquiry’ and monitor what each participant is doing and how the multiple participants coordinate their activities to produce farm products. With this ‘description’ in hand, and thanks to the invention of money and wages and the concept of ‘paid labour’, we can install a ‘manager’ to ‘give voice’ to the description of activities, along with a bunch of workers that he can assign to the various tasks and, voila, a factory-farm based on the dynamics of figures, out of the context of the dynamics of ground. We can plunk this factory farm operation down anywhere we like. All that’s needed is a bag of money to purchase a manager and some workers. Of course we did cheat the people out of their own free association and their building of a relation with the land and with one another.
What’s the point? The point is that analytical inquiry or rational intellection orients solely to ‘figures’ out of the context of ‘ground’ and gives a view of dynamics in the one-sided terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’. From the point of view of analytical inquiry or ‘rational understanding’, the ‘community farming operation’ and the ‘factory farm operation’ are identical and produce the same results. But from the point of view of relational understanding, what has gone missing is the relationship between the ‘system’ of the farm operation and the ‘suprasystem’ of fertile valley, seasons, climate etc. the ‘system’ is included in [the ‘systems sciences/Ackoff’ call this ‘synthetical inquiry’]. Furthermore, this relation between suprasystem and system or between dynamic ground and dynamic figures provided the orchestrating/organizing force which, in the factory farming operation is replaced by a ‘manager-worker’ organizing force. There was no ‘boss’ in the community farming operation [there was shared leadership] and everyone was there on their own volition rather than because they were following a trail of money/wages.
Hierarchy and the leader-follower split follows from reduction of relational understanding of dynamics in terms of the conjugate figure-ground relation [physical reality] to rational understanding of dynamics in the convenient but over-simplified one-sided terms of the dynamics of figures.
That’s the story on the ‘two realities’ and the difference between them. Now for the ‘reading list’, but first, a ‘heads-up’ on ‘how to read’ the reading list.
Our approach to understanding when we read discussions on ‘relational space’ by Mach et al is something we don’t usually question, but the fact of the matter is, we normally interpret what we read through ‘rational lenses’, but ‘rational lenses’ are unable to see ‘relational dynamics’ so unless we suspend our rational viewing habit, we won’t even see the relational understanding that is being shared in these writings. My experience is that many people read this stuff but few ‘get it’. For example Bertrand Russell read Poincaré’s ‘Science and Hypothesis’ which is all about ‘relational understanding’ and he didn’t ‘get it’ and they had a public debate which never settled anything and they ‘agreed to disagree’. Poincaré said, for example, that absolute space and absolute time, geometry [that which we use to isolate ‘the dynamics of figures’] are language conventions that we use to simplify our modeling of physical phenomena;
“Finally, our Euclidean geometry is itself only a sort of convention of language; mechanical facts might be enunciated with reference to a non-Euclidean space which would be a guide less convenient than, but just as legitimate as, our ordinary space ; the enunciation would thus become much more complicated, but it would remain possible. Thus absolute space, absolute time, geometry itself, are not conditions which impose themselves on mechanics ; all these things are no more antecedent to mechanics than the French language is logically antecedent to the verities one expresses in French.” – Henri Poincare, Science and Hypothesis
The reading list cited below is in English [or German or French] but these are the worst [least competent] languages for discussing relational understanding. As Benjamin Whorf says;
“English compared to Hopi is like a bludgeon compared to a rapier.” – Benjamin Whorf
A few points to bear in mind if/as one reads the works listed below to keep oneself ‘on track’, taken from the works, are as follows;
(1.) “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
(in other words, we formulate laws in terms of the dynamics of figures and ignore the conjugate figure-ground relation because it allows us to generalize broadly and to predict future states. note that prediction only applies to ‘what things-in-themselves do’ and not to how the space that these things are included in is relationally transformed; i.e. it predicts what happens inside of the nuclear bomb but not how the space the bomb is included in is going to be transformed)
(2.) “That which is given to all in common we call the ‘physical’; that which is directly given only to one we call the ‘psychical’. That which is given only to one can also be called the ‘ego’ [ich].” – Ernst Mach, ‘The Guiding Principles of My Scientific Theory of Knowledge’
(what is ‘given to all in common’ is the transformation of space, and what is ‘in our heads’ is our personal perspective; e.g. if we are a colonizer our perspective is that we are constructing a wonderful new world in America and if we are an aboriginal our perspective is that the colonizer is destroying a wonder forested space on Turtle Island. What is given to all in common is the transforming relational space they are both/all included in).
(3.) “… what we call empty space contains an immense background of energy, and that matter as we know it is a small, ‘quantized’ wavelike excitation on top of this background, rather like a tiny ripple on a vast sea. In current physical theories, one avoids the explicit consideration of this background by calculating only the difference between the energy of empty space and that of space with matter in it. This difference is all that counts in the determination of the general properties of matter as they are presently accessible to observation. However, further developments in physics may make it possible to probe the above-described background in a more direct way. Moreover, even at present, this vast sea of energy may play a key part in the understanding of the cosmos as a whole. In this connection it may be said that space, which has so much energy, is full rather than empty…It is being suggested here, then, that what we perceive through the senses as empty space is actually the plenum, which is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves. The things that appear to our senses are derivative forms and their true meaning can be seen only when we consider the plenum, in which they are generated and sustained, and into which they must ultimately vanish.” — David Bohm
(the ‘true meaning’ of figures can only be understood in the context of the ‘ground’ in which they continually gather and are regathered).
(3.) “Continual transition does not allow us to speak of “individuals,” etc; the “number” of beings is itself in flux. We would say nothing of time and know nothing of motion if we did not, in a coarse fashion, believe we see stationary forms beside transitory flow. The same applies to cause and effect, and without the erroneous conception of “empty space” we should certainly not have acquired the conception of space. The principle of identity has behind it the “appearance” that it refers to the same things. A world in a state of becoming could not, in a strict sense, be “comprehended” or “known”; only to the extent that the “comprehending” and “knowing” intellect encounters a coarse, already-created world, fabricated out of nothing but appearances but become firm to the extent that this kind of appearance has preserved life–only to this extent is there anything like “knowledge”; i. e., a matching of earlier and more recent errors with one another.” – Nietzsche, Will to Power, 520 (1885)
(the dynamic ground, while the primary physical reality, while it can be experienced, cannot be ‘known’ and ‘discussed’ without building the discussion on top of ‘figures’ which are nothing more than ‘appearances’ in a physical sense, like the hurricane in the flow of the atmosphere).
(4.) “Reason” is the cause of our falsification of the testimony of the senses. Insofar as the senses show becoming, passing away, and change, they do not lie. But Heraclitus will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction. The “apparent” world is the only one: the “true” world is merely added by a lie.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’
(‘being’ is what we impute to the transient dynamic forms that gather in the flow. ‘being’ is an ‘empty fiction’ but as in Nietzsche’s previous statement, it is the basis of ‘knowing’. But as Heraclitus also says; “the knowledge of many things does not teach understanding”.)
(5.) “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 order to reduce the flow or ‘dynamic ground’ to a view that is solely in terms of dynamic figures and what they do; i.e. the view of dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’, we take a dimple in the flow and give it a name, like ‘Katrina’ and having imputed ‘being’ to this transient feature in the flow, we impute it to be the author of its own dynamic so that the development of the feature in the flow appears to be jumpstarted by this ‘named being’ called ‘Katrina’ as in ‘Katrina is growing and intensifying’, ‘wreaking destruction’ etc. etc. We thus artificially CREATE a local author of an action when that action was coming from a larger action (a whorl within a flow) and was not locally sourced. Our visual observation oriented us to the visible aspect of the feature which was in fact a purely relational ‘resonance structure’ [vapour going round and round LOOKS LIKE a ‘local thing-in-itself’ so why not, for simplicity’s sake, define it as a thing-in-itself and make ‘it’ the author of ‘its own action’?]. As John Stuart Mill observed in this regard; “every definition implies an axiom, that in which we affirm the existence of the object defined”)
(6.) “And do you know what “the world” is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income …” –Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’, 1067
(Nietzsche is saying what Mach has said and what Bohm says in a calmer/cooler way, that the universe is a continually transforming relational [flow-] space but that we get to ‘know it’ by the dynamic forms that emerge within it. The earth’s biosphere persists while a whole diverse succession of ‘forms’ continuously gather and regather within it. Things like human population do not ‘grow’ since the only dynamic in a relational space is transformation [the notion of ‘growth of a thing’ or ‘growth in numbers’ implies an fixed reference frame]. In order for ‘growth’ to occur, the thing ‘growing’ must have a persisting identity of its own. We say that a zone of turbulence on the surface of the earth [a hurricane] ‘grows’ but the calm area around it simultaneously shrinks, which is to say that the physical dynamic is the transforming flow and the ‘growth’ is merely ‘appearance’. The growth of the Emperor’s empire can be defined by the length of the wall around the periphery of the empire that fences out the ‘wilderness’ beyond the wall, but as the empire continues to grow, the wall starts to shrink [after it goes beyond one hemisphere] until the wall may only be a hundred metres long and the wilderness reduced to a small park in the emperor’s ‘back yard’).
(7.) “What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space. Particles are just schaumkommen (appearances). …” “… The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have broken down as a result of recent experience in the physical sciences, for this barrier does not exist. …” “Let me say at the outset, that in this discourse, I am opposing not a few special statements of quantum physics held today (1950s), I am opposing as it were the whole of it, I am opposing its basic views that have been shaped 25 years ago, when Max Born put forward his probability interpretation, which was accepted by almost everybody.” —Erwin Schroedinger
(Schroedinger is on a rant because scientists wanted to preserve the ‘being’ of the ‘particle’ or ‘figure’ instead of accepting that it is a resonance feature in the dynamics of the ground or ‘energy-charged flow’. They did this by using a probability interpretation of quantum dynamics so as to imply that the particle-as-‘being’ or ‘thing-in-itself’ is there somewhere, we just don’t know ‘where’ until we ‘measure it’ [impose an absolute space and time reference frame] and THEN it is there. Mach’s earlier rant on those same scientists refusal to accept relational space, he expressed thus; “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.))
(8.) “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
(Tasic, like Poincaré, is saying that the standard assumption of ‘identity’ used in Aristotelian logic and in geometry is just a ‘prejudice’ that we impose on the observational data. If the ‘figure’ and ‘ground’ is a fluid [relational] system, as contended by Mach and Bohm etc. then such axioms as underlie the notion of ‘the invariable solids of geometry’ are meaningless, and as Poincaré elaborates on, the serve only as a kind of ‘language game’ that synthetically turns ‘appearances’ into pseudo-reality; “Finally, our Euclidean geometry is itself only a sort of convention of language; mechanical facts might be enunciated with reference to a non-Euclidean space which would be a guide less convenient than, but just as legitimate as, our ordinary space ; the enunciation would thus become much more complicated, but it would remain possible. Thus absolute space, absolute time, geometry itself, are not conditions which impose themselves on mechanics ; all these things are no more antecedent to mechanics than the French language is logically antecedent to the verities one expresses in French.” – Henri Poincare, Science and Hypothesis)
(9.) “In extending his living space in a manner that destroys the space of others, he destroys his own space. Not initially his inside space, his ‘self’, but his outside space, this real outside-of-self which nourishes his ‘inside-of-self’. The protection of this outside space now becomes the condition without which he is unable to pursue the growth of his own powers of being.” – Frédéric Neyrat
(This is one example citation of many where people are picking up on the relational geometry of space and Mach’s principle [figure and ground are in conjugate relation] as is understood in the aboriginal culture, as articulated in the following citation)
(10.) “You must teach the children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. … This we know, the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” Script writer using nom-de-plume ‘Chief Seattle’, capturing Northwest Amerindian ‘relational understanding’ aka ‘Mach’s principle’
(As mentioned above, people are generally coming around to the understanding that mainstream science only deals in ‘what things-in-themselves do’ which ignores the conjugate inhabitant-habitat or figure-ground relation. In the relational space we live in, everything that we push out bounces back in some way. The way the habitat-dynamic bounces back on us launders out the particular inhabitant actions that are pushing out; e.g. the storm cells are pushing out into the flow of the atmosphere at the same time as the flow of the atmosphere is pushing into the storm-cells. Space serves as a ‘mediating medium’. If more and more farmers use ‘roundup’ on their ‘round-up ready’ crops then the concentration of ‘roundup’ will continue to build in the habitat and will inevitably influence more change than that which is planned in the simple ‘what things-in-themselves do’ dynamics of figures only view of mainstream science.)
(11.) “What are these academics so afraid of that they can’t face and contemplate and answer student’s questions about Whorf’s actual text? Why the smoke and mirrors? I suspect that they fear, and rightly so, that the entire Western worldview — logic, reason, science, philosophy, categories — the entire ‘civilization’ enterprise of which academia is a part, in fact, is at stake; or at least the superior attitude that often accompanies it. It may be a fear that what we’re culturally heir to is ‘just another worldview and its langscapes’ rather than exemplifying, as we tend to want to believe, eternal and universal human logic, which we’re simply ‘better at’ than people who speak other languages outside of the Indo-European language family. As John Lucy says, relativity “challenges assumptions which lie at the heart of much modern social and behavior research — namely its claim to be discovering general laws and to be truly scientific.” – Dan Moonhawk Alford (MIT linguistics researcher)
(Dan Alford supports the view of Benjamin Whorf that our language influences our ‘reality’ and the view that ‘relational’ languages such as Hopi which do not reduce the conjugate figure/ground relation to the one-sided view solely in terms of the dynamics of figures [‘what things-in-themselves do’] deliver a more physically real ‘reality’ to the user of these languages. )
(12.) “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
(McLuhan is implying that everything starts from the medium, from the continually transforming medium or ‘dynamic ground’. This is where we start to build the Cadillac factory, in the continually transforming relational space we all live in. We do not start to build it on a blank sheet of paper or in a blank empty space, the ‘design space’ where all we have to deal with is ‘the dynamics of figures’ or ‘what things-in-themselves do’. The starting point is the continually transforming relational space which is ‘the full package’, ‘all she wrote’. What we are physically doing is modifying the relations in this continually transforming relational space so as to accommodate within it, the factory concept. Meanwhile, the transformation of relations with one another and the habitat is THE REAL PHYSICAL DYNAMIC, as Mach also says. The notion of the factory as a ‘thing-in-itself’ is an empty Fiktion).
(13.) “ The photographic plate preserves for us a picture of a fleeting moment, which perhaps we may make use of over a long time period for measurements, or it transforms a wave-field of heat rays, X rays, or electron rays to a visible image. And yet, important information about the object is missing in a photographic image. This is a problem which has been a key one for Dennis Gabor during his work on information theory. Because the image reproduces only the effect of the intensity of the incident wave-field, not its nature. The other characteristic quantity of the waves, phase, is lost and thereby the three dimensional geometry. The phase depends upon from which direction the wave is coming and how far it has travelled from the object to be imaged. Gabor found the solution to the problem of how one can retain a wave-field with its phase on a photographic plate.” – Erik Ingelstam, in presenting Gabor with his Nobel Prize in Physics in 1971
(Gabor’s theory of communications opened the way for understanding ‘the dynamics of content’ in conjunction with ‘the dynamics of context’; i.e. by way of the conjugate content-context relation. Classical communications theory constrains ‘signal’ to ‘the dynamics of content’ [items of content seen as ‘things-in-themselves’] and is a purificationist scheme that seeks to extract the ‘signal content’ from the ‘noise’ [defined as undesired signal]. Gabor’s theory assumes all signal is good signal and extracts the message from the dynamic field of context by way of spatial relational coherence. There is no dependency in this case on the items of content as ‘things-in-themselves’. In visual applications, this leads to ‘holography’ where the transforming relational wavefield supplies the imagery by way of coherency in phase interference, and there is no dependency on ‘the dynamics of things-in-themselves’. The three dimensional light field [dynamic ground] includes within it the changing/moving forms [dynamic figures]. There is a direct comparison to the communications technique of the aboriginal ‘learning circles’ which deliver their understanding by way of coherency in the relational interference of a diverse multiplicity of observations and experiences, and to classical communications theory where the individual particulars line up and present their accounts one by one to reviewers which use a purificationist process to decide who’s account is most true).
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Ok, as I say, its important, when reading the following, to suspend our usual ‘reduction’ of the data to terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ or ‘all dynamic figures and no dynamic ground’ which is what mainstream science and ‘rational inquiry’ does. If we fall into that trap, which is hard to avoid because of the noun-verb architecture of our European languages ( “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)
The above citations are ‘reminders’ that we have this ‘other choice’ that we are not in the habit of using, to understand the same physical phenomena in ‘relational space’ terms wherein the ‘figures’ and ‘ground’ are in ‘conjugate relation’; i.e. ‘reminders’ that we do not have to reduce our observations and experience to pure and sole terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’.
As I mentioned above, the hierarchical organization structure follows directly from the assumption of ‘things-in-themselves’ since if a local system is presented as a ‘thing-in-itself’ then it must have within it its own source of direction (management) and its own operative organs and limbs (workers). Meanwhile, if the ‘local system’ is instead presented as an organ within its ‘suprasystem’, its development and behaviour is then orchestrated by the dynamic ground it is included in, and there is no need for a local ‘supreme central authority’ to jumpstart the local agency of the notional ‘thing-in-itself’. For example, if the U.S. thought of itself as a ‘cell’ or ‘gathering’ within a global flow, its conjugate cell-flow relation would orchestrate its organization as in the nature’s dynamics as in the example of the community farming operation as contrasted with the factory farming operation. However, once the figure in the ground ‘declares itself to be a local, independently existing thing-in-itself with its own internal jumpstarting behaviour’,… then the hierarchical split into ‘leaders and followers’ or ‘management class’ and ‘working class’ follows from there.
Alfred, Taiaiake, ‘Peace, Power and Righteousness’
Bohm, David, ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’
Gabor, Dennis, ‘Theory of Communications’ (1946) (incorporating Pauli’s frequency-time formulation of the uncertainty principle)
Gieser, Suzanne, ‘The Innermost Kernal: Depth Psychology and Quantum Physics. Wolfgang Pauli’s dialogue with C.G. Jung’.
Kepler, Johannes, ‘Harmonies of the World’
Mach, Ernst, ‘Analysis of Sensations’, ‘The Science of Mechanics’ (Die Mechanik in ihre Entwicklung Historisch — Kritisch Darstellt), ‘The Guiding Principles of My Scientific Theory of Knowledge’, ‘Ernst Mach leaves the Church of Physics’, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Br J Philos Sci (1989) 40 (4): 519-540.
McLuhan, Marshall, ‘Understanding Media’, Global Village
Momaday, Scott, ‘House Made of Dawn’
Neyrat, Frédéric, ‘Biopolitics of Catastrophe
Nietzsche, Friedrich, ‘Twilight of the Idols’, Will to Power, Beyond Good & Evil
Peat, F. David, ‘Blackfoot Physics’
Poincaré, Henri, ‘Science and Hypothesis’, ‘Science and Method’ [Especially ‘The Relativity of Space’], ‘The Value of Science’, ‘Dernières Pensées’
Schroedinger, Erwin, ‘What is Life’
Seattle, Chief, ‘Letter to President Pearce’
Tasic, Vladimir, ‘Poststructuralism and Deconstruction: A Mathematical History’ (2001)
Underwood, Paula, ‘My Father and the Lima Beans
Whorf, Benjamin, ‘Thought and Reality: Selected Readings’
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