Relations and Things: When the first becomes last and the last, first
Modern physics wants to make ‘relations first’ and ‘things last’, … inverting the importance established by classical physics, radically changing the world view, and thus the individual and collective social behaviours that are orchestrated and shaped by world view.
One might say, as F. David Peat does in ‘Blackfoot Physics’, that the ‘relations first, things last’ view is foundational to the ‘yin/yang’ culture of indigenous aboriginals while the ‘things first, relations last’ view is foundational to the ‘all-yang-no-yin’ Western culture.
Classical Physics: God in the Beginning form’d Matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, moveable Particles. – Isaac Newton
Modern Physics: What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space. Particles are just schaumkommen (appearances). – Erwin Schroedinger
Which arrangement ‘we go with’ leads to profound differences in our social dynamics, and how this shows up is the core issue treated in this mini-essay.
Philosophers have argued that our psycho-physical experience supports the ‘relations first, things last’ view. Nietzsche relates this ‘polarity’ to ‘Being’ and ‘reason’ in his chapter ‘Reason in Philosophy’ in ‘Twilight of the Gods’;
4. The other idiosyncrasy of philosophers is no less dangerous; it consists in confusing the last and first things. They place that which makes its appearance last – unfortunately! for it ought not to appear at all! – the ‘highest concept’, that is to say, the most general, the emptiest, the last cloudy streak of evaporating reality, at the beginning as the beginning. This again is only their manner of expressing their veneration: the highest thing must not have grown out of the lowest, it must not have grown at all. . . . Moral: everything of the first rank must be causa sui. To have been derived from something else, is as good as an objection, it sets the value of a thing in question. All superior values are of the first rank, all the highest concepts – that of Being, of the Absolute, of Goodness, of Truth, and of Perfection; all these things cannot have been evolved, they must therefore be causa sui. All these things cannot however be unlike one another, they cannot be opposed to one another. Thus they attain to their stupendous concept ‘God’. The last, most attenuated and emptiest thing is postulated as the first thing, as the absolute cause, as ens realissimus. Fancy humanity having to take the brain diseases of morbid cobweb-spinners seriously! – And it has paid dearly for having done so.
To put ‘Being’ first is to put ‘things’ before ‘relations’, and to see ‘dynamics’ in the all-yang-no-yin terms of ‘what independently-existing things [Beings] do, as if in a notional absolute space and absolute time ‘operating theatre’.
That is, putting ‘things’ before ‘relations’ forces dynamics to be interpreted in terms of ‘what material things do’ and splits apart the ‘inhabitants’ from the ‘habitat’.
To put ‘relations’ before ‘things’ obliges dynamics to be interpreted only in terms of ‘transformation’; i.e. in terms of a continually transforming relational spatial plenum.
“Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum as opposed to a vacuum, and is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves.” — David Bohm
The ‘relations before things’ view gives a non-dualist yin/yang worldview wherein ‘inhabitants’ are relational forms and ‘habitat’ is a continually transforming relational space and the inhabitant-habitat relation is given by Mach’s principle;
“The dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants.” – Ernst Mach
This yin/yang world of ‘relations-before-things’ looks very different from the yang world of ‘things-before-relations’ world, and will, of course, elicit very different individual and collective social dynamics.
“The new world conception. —The world exists; it is not something that becomes, not something that passes away. Or rather: it becomes, it passes away, but it has never begun to become and never ceased from passing away — it maintains itself in both. —It lives on itself: its excrements are its food.” —Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power, 1066’
So, how do these world viewing ‘choices’ which are inverted relative to one another ‘play out’ in shaping the field of our psycho-physical sensory experience and our social dynamics?
The ‘things-before-relations’ view leads directly to ‘reason’ and ‘morality’. Because it is based on ‘what things do’, it leads to ‘optimizing what things do’ in both a moral and productive sense. In other words, it leads to the moralist anthropocentrism of ‘rational Beings’; i.e. to the Enlightenment European view of man as ‘an independent reason-driven system’ that operates in a notional ‘absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’’.
Problems have been noted with this anthropocentrism or ‘humanism’ that characterizes the ‘yang’ ‘things-first-relations-last’ Western worldview;
As Emerson says in ‘The Method of Nature’;
“But nature seems further to reply, `I have ventured so great a stake as my success, in no single creature. I have not yet arrived at any end. The gardener aims to produce a fine peach or pear, but my aim is the health of the whole tree, — root, stem, leaf, flower, and seed, — and by no means the pampering of a monstrous pericarp at the expense of all the other functions.’” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ernest Becker comments on this anthropocentrism/humanism in his Pulitzer Prize winning ‘Denial of Death’ [denial of the ‘yin’ aspect of the yin/yang dynamics of nature]
“The great perplexity of our time, the churning of our age, is that the youth have sensed — for better or for worse — a great social-historical truth: that just as there are useless self-sacrifices in unjust wars, so too is there an ignoble heroics of whole societies: it can be the viciously destructive heroics of Hitler’s Germany or the plain debasing and silly heroics of the acquisition and display of consumer goods, the piling up of money and privileges that now characterizes whole ways of life, capitalist and Soviet.” – Ernest Becker, ‘Denial of Death’
And Frédéric Neyrat makes a similar comment in ‘Biopolitics of Catastrophe’;
“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, ‘Biopolitics of Catastrophe’
‘Reason’ is foundational to this dysfunction termed ‘anthropocentrism’ and ‘humanism’ since the concept of ‘reason’ derives from the concept of ‘Being’, as that which directs the behaviour of the living ‘Being’. In other words, ‘reason’ is a necessary invention of the all-yang-no-yin, death-denying, ‘things-first-relations-last’ choice of worldview.
As far as our common sensory experience goes, we know that ‘constructing a house’, at the same time, is ‘destroying forest and meadow’. That is, our experience informs us that the only possible dynamic is ‘transformation’ of the relational space we are included in. ‘CONSTRUCTION’ and ‘DESTRUCTION’ are conjugate aspects of the ONE dynamic of [spatial-relational] ‘TRANSFORMATION’.
The postulating of ‘construction’ as a ‘what things do’ process-in-itself is a ‘denial of death’, a denial of the ‘yin’ aspect in the yin/yang relational dynamics of nature. In a relational spatial PLENUM, there must be dying to accommodate birthing; trees have to fall in order for the house to rise in the forest. And no, the construction is not ‘made possible’ [except in our head] by imposing an ‘absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-operating-theatre’. That is abstract idealization that comes to us by way of noun-and-verb European/scientific language and grammar as part of the process of ‘putting things first and relations last’.
‘REASON’ is what we substitute for ‘YIN’ in going from the yin/yang world of ‘relations-first-things-last’ to the yang world ‘things-first-relations last’. This is the ‘denial of death’; i.e. the denial of the ‘accommodating’ as in the forest trees ‘giving themselves up’ for the rising house construction. The construction is seen instead as being the product of reason; i.e. of an independent reason-driven system called ‘man’.
If we are navigating passage in the relational spatial ‘crowd dynamic’, it is the opening of relational-spatial holes that orchestrates and shapes individual and collective behaviour. That is, the animating source of the crowd dynamic is ‘yin’, but it manifests as ‘yang’; i.e. as ‘what things do’. The outside observer can impose a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’ so as to ‘split out’ an individual and RE-present his movement relative to the fixed coordinate system of a GPS system. Once framed like this, the individual’s movement can be portrayed separately and in-its-own-right relative to the framing grid [x,y,z,t], making him APPEAR TO BE AN INDEPENDENT REASON-DRIVEN SYSTEM.
But the physical reality was that the continuously opening spatial relational holes were orchestrating and shaping individual and collective assertive action in the crowd dynamic. If one removes from the mind the acknowledging of ‘yin’ accommodating influence;
[NB. relational forms in a continually transforming relational space are the coniunctio of outside-inward accommodating, many-to-one converging ‘yin’ ‘sink’ and inside-outward asserting, one-to-many diverging ‘yang’ ‘source’. This is the ‘relations-first-things-last’ view of dynamics]
… then one is forced to explain the movements of the individuals and collective as if it is coming from their own interiors. This is the only option once one imposes a notional inert absolute space and absolute space ‘operating-theatre’. The now-internal behaviour animating source is conceptualized as ‘reason’. This is a ‘psychological’ fit with the model of man as an ‘independently-existing material thing-in-itself with its own internal process driven and directed behaviour that moves about and interacts with other such things-in-themselves within a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’’.
Note that this ‘notional reference grid’ was never there when one was ‘navigating passage in the relational spatial crowd dynamic’, it is something mentally imposed by an ‘outside observer’ that allows the observer to split out individuals and interpret their behaviour as relative to the fixed grid. This is where ‘reason’ is psychologically ‘moved in’ to explain the sourcing of the behaviour as ‘yin’, the accommodating influence in a transforming relational spatial plenum, is psychologically ‘moved out’.
This is the denial of death, the denial that trees fall to give way for the rising of the house in the forest. In order to preserve ‘construction’ out of the context of conjugate relation with ‘destruction’, there is a psychological shift that credits ‘independent reason-driven systems’ aka ‘men’ as the source of the ‘construction’, allowing ‘construction’ to, notionally, proceed without ‘destruction’. Of course, the ‘operating space’ is not longer the transforming relational spatial plenum of yin/yang nature, it is now ‘absolute space and absolute time reference frame’.
‘Reason’ PSYCHOLOGICALLY liberates man from the transforming relational spatial plenum of yin/yang nature and relocates him into a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’’. In this far simpler non-relational space, ‘reasoning man’ can solve his problems far more simply. For example, in this space, pesky insects are themselves seen as independent-reason-driven-things/systems-in-themselves, so that reason that has an objective to achieve a pesky-insect-free habitat shows the path to this reasoned objective as ‘killing pesky insects’. This act, in this yang space populated by independently-existing things-in-themselves, involves nothing other than the killer and the killed, the doer and the done-deed. Of course, in the transforming relational spatial world of yin/yang nature, where everything is interdependently related to everything else, these insect killing actions will have deeply complex transformative influence. But ‘reason’ does not operate in the continually transforming relational spatial plenum of yin/yang nature [the relations-first-things-last space], ‘reason’ only operates in spaces populated by independently-existing thing-in-themselves ‘Beings’; i.e. ‘reason’ is what is believed to jumpstart drive and direct the behaviours of independently-existing things that operate in a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’’.
‘Reason’ is a substitute for ‘yin’ as one makes the psychological flip from a ‘relations-first-things-last’, continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum of yin/yang nature, to a ‘things-first-relations-last’ absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’ populated by independently-existing things-in-themselves with their own internal process driven and [reason-]directed behaviour.
If we put ‘relations’ over ‘things’ instead of ‘things’ over ‘relations’, space becomes a relational-spatial plenum [as in schroedinger and mach’s view]
“What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space. Particles are just schaumkommen (appearances).” – Erwin Schroedinger
Next, ‘things’ are reinterpreted as ‘relational forms’ or ‘relational structures’ [As in modern physics, as captured by Meinard Kuhlmann in his August 2013 ‘What is Real?’ Scientific American article]
“So proponents of ontic structural realism say we might as well dispense with things and assume that the world is made of [relational-spatial] structures, or nets of relations.” – Meinard Kuhlmann
In which case, transformation of relational space is the only possible dynamic, this is ‘beyond good-and-evil’. for example, the ‘winners’ [colonizers] believe they are creating something new and good, the ‘losers’ [colonized] believe that something established and good is being destroyed. where ‘relations’ are put first and things last, there is only transformation [construction and destruction do not exist as separate actions, there is only transformation of the relational spatial plenum]. The topology of this space is yin/yang; i.e. it is that of a continually transforming-in-the-now, energy-charged relational spatial plenum wherein outside-inward orchestrating influence [giving oneself up to nurture replenishment/renewal = ying qi] and inside-outward asserting action [construction and putting something new in place = wei qi], are conjugate aspects of the one yin/yang dynamic of transformation.
Next, the relational form in the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum is an ‘agent of transformation’ [the means by which the plenum transforms]. in Schroedinger’s terms the relational form is both the included relational feature and at the same time the transforming relational spatial plenum in which it is itself included;
“From the early great Upanishads the recognition ATMAN = BRAHMAN (the personal self equals the omnipresent, all-comprehending eternal self) was in Indian thought considered, far from being blasphemous, to represent the quintessence of deepest insight into the happenings of the world.” – Erwin Schroedinger
The ‘Being’ in the ‘things-first-relations-last’ yang worldview derives from ‘ego’. As Nietzsche observes;
“Being is thought into and insinuated into everything as ‘cause’; from the concept ‘ego,’ alone, can the concept ‘Being’ proceed.” — Nietzsche
The first step, of assuming ‘things-first-relations-last’ imposes on the ‘chooser’, the psychological obligation of re-constituting the animative sourcing of the ‘Being’ in his own internal processes [the denial of ‘yin’]. This reconstituting of animative sourcing not only requires the invention of ‘reason’, but also ‘instincts’ and other ‘psychic energies’, … all of which are inside-outward behaviour shaping influences, … which substitute for ‘yin’.
[NB. in the relations-first-things-last yin/yang view, there is no such thing as a ‘Being’ so there is no need to psychologically pack the ‘Being’ full of animative sourcing devices to explain his behaviour in an inside-outward asserting sense, as if he were an independently-existing ‘Being’ residing in a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-operating-theatre.]
For example, ‘depth psychology’ proposes that the behaviour of the ‘Being’ derives from ‘psychic energies’, some of which show up as ‘instincts’.
“C.G. Jung ‘On Psychic Energy’ (1948). Jung postulated a number of different ‘instincts’ or fundamental strivings in man, of which the sexual instinct is just one. The hunger instinct, the instinct for activity, the drive for reflection and, above all, the creative instinct are other forms of expression of mental energy which are at least as crucial, if not more crucial, to man.” – Suzanne Gieser, The Innermost Kernal: Depth Psychology and Quantum Physics. Wolfgang Pauli’s Dialogue with C.G. Jung
In the ‘relations-first-things-last’ view, there is no need for ‘instincts’ because there is no imposing of the notion of ‘Being’ on the relational forms in the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum. As Nietzsche says in the above quote from aphorism 1066 in ‘Will to Power’;
“The new world-conception. — The world exists; it is not something that becomes, not something that passes away. Or rather: it becomes, it passes away, but it has never begun to become and never ceased from passing away — it maintains itself in both. It lives on itself; its excrements are its food.” — Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power’ 1066
In this yin/yang view, the gathering relational forms ‘live on themselves’; i.e. what appears to be ‘Beings’ are instead ‘relational forms’ and relational forms are the ‘coniunctio’ of outside-inward accommodating, many-to-one converging ‘yin’ ‘sink’ and inside-outward asserting one-to-many diverging ‘yang’ ‘source’. A familiar exemplar is the convection cell; i.e. the hurricane or tornado. Its ‘hunger/ingestion instinct’ and its ‘excreting instinct’ are, in the ‘relations-first-things-last’ view, conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of relational spatial transformation. The tornado’s ‘instinct to ingest’ is the reciprocal complement of its ‘instinct to excrete’. Only when we split the tornado out of the continually transforming relational spatial atmosphere-flow and ‘frame it’ with a notional ‘absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’, do we bestow ‘subjecthood’ or ‘Being’ on it, at which point we are obliged to explain its behaviour as if fully and solely from out of its own interior, using the secularized theological concepts of ‘reason’ and ‘instinct’ [whether ‘psychic energy’-based or genetically hard-wired or whatever]
In Jungian psychology, Jung starts from the assumption of ‘the reality of the psyche’; i.e. that reality comes to us through conscious and unconscious psychic activity;
I define the unconscious as the totality of all psychic phenomena that lack the quality of consciousness. — Jung
The instincts and the archetypes together form the “collective unconscious”. — Jung
Thus Jung’s model starts from the assumption that we are ‘psychic-energy-directed individuals’. This sounds a lot like the opposite of the materialist opposite, the material, ‘physical-energy-directed individual’. This pendulum swing in symmetry from a ‘physical energy-driven material Being’ to a psychic-energy driven psychical Being’ was critiqued by Pauli in his dialogues with Jung.
“Pauli had criticized Jung for extending the concept of the psyche beyond its permitted boundaries. By doing so, Jung risked falling into the old trap of idealism and creating a one-sided ‘psychistic’ worldview which takes no account of material [physical] reality. This would nullify what Pauli originally found revolutionary and forward-looking in Jung’s psychology: a model where the opposing pairs are treated in a symmetrical manner and a design for a psychophysically unified view of the universe.” – Suzanne Gieser, The Innermost Kernal: Depth Psychology and Quantum Physics. Wolfgang Pauli’s Dialogue with C.G. Jung
This process, of moving from the ‘relations-first-things-last’ option of yin/yang nature to the ‘things-first-relations-last’ option of the yang world of ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves [Beings] with their own internal process driven and directed behaviours that interact in a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’’, … involves the swapping out of ‘yin’ with ‘reason’, ‘instinct’, ‘psychic energies’ etc. due to the imposing of an inert space as the habitat, in place of the continually transforming relational spatial plenum.
This psychological swapping is achieved through the device of ‘noun-and-verb European/scientific language-and-grammar’, as described by Nietzsche, Whorf, Sapir, Poincaré, Alan Watts and others. Nietzsche describes it as follows, as a synthetic [psychological] process of imputing ‘Being’ to relational forms and imputing ‘authoring intent’ and ‘doer-deed results-determining action’ to ‘Beings’ (‘Beings’ proceeding from the concept ‘ego’). The various aspects of how the animative sourcing of behaviour is re-constituted from out of the interior of ‘Being’ [once the absolute space and absolute time reference-framing is imposed, as it must be to give residence to an ‘independently-existing Being’, the sourcing of behaviour can no longer derive from the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum the relational form is uniquely situationally included in by way of the yin in the yin/yang dynamic]. Nietzsche makes the point that ‘grammar’ is what makes relational forms into Gods-that-Be, by imputing to them the absolute jumpstart powers of animating their own behaviour.
“In Reason’ in language! … Being is thought into and insinuated into everything as ‘cause’; from the concept ‘ego,’ alone, can the concept ‘Being’ proceed. … – oh what a deceptive old witch it has been! I fear we shall never be rid of God, so long as we still believe in grammar.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’
“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
“[Descartes’ ‘I think therefore I am’ reflects] … our grammatical custom that adds a doer to every deed. In short, this is not merely the substantiation of a fact but a logical-metaphysical postulate” … “That which gives the extraordinary firmness to our belief in causality is not the great habit of seeing one occurrence following another but our inability to interpret events otherwise than as events caused by intentions. It is belief in the living and thinking as the only effective force–in will, in intention–it is belief that every event is a deed, that every deed presupposes a doer, it is belief in the “subject.” Is this belief in the concept of subject and attribute not a great stupidity?” – Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power’ 484
In the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum of the ‘relations-first-things-last’ option, ‘things’ must remain ‘verbs’ and never become ‘nouns’ representing absolute ‘Being’. The flow-based languages of indigenous aboriginals preserve this verbal [relational forms in a continually transforming relational space] essence of the forms in nature. Benjamin Whorf, Alan Watts, Edward Sapir, F. David Peat and David Bohm all speak to this; e.g;
“In the Hopi language, ‘lightning, wave, flame, meteor, puff of smoke, pulsation’ are verbs — events of necessarily brief duration cannot be anything but verbs. ‘Cloud’ and ‘storm’ are at about the lower limit of duration for nouns. Hopi, you see, actually has a classification of events (or linguistic isolates) by duration type, something strange to our modes of thought. On the other hand, in Nootka, a language of Vancouver Island, all words seem to us to be verbs, but really there are no classes 1 and 2; we have, as it were, a monistic view of nature that gives us only one class of word for all kinds of events. ‘A house occurs’ or ‘it houses’ is the way of saying ‘house,’ exactly like ‘a flame occurs’ or ‘it burns.’ These terms seem to us like verbs because they are inflected for durational and temporal nuances, so that the suffixes of the word for house event make it mean longlasting house, temporary house, future house, house that used to be, what started out to be a house, and so on.” – Benjamin Whorf
The understanding is that these structures derive from the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum they are situationally included in; i.e. from the purely relational yin aspect of the yin/yang dynamics [the purely relational yin aspect is non-local, non-visible, non-material as in ‘wavefield dynamics’ or ‘gravitational influence’]. That is, in the ‘relations-first-things-last’ choice of modern physics, ‘everything is in flux’ [Heraclitus]. For example;
“In Newtonian and special relativistic physics, if we take away the dynamical entities – particles and fields – what remains is space and time. In general relativistic physics, if we take away the dynamical entities, nothing remains. The space and time of Newton and Minkowski are reinterpreted as a configuration of one of the fields, the gravitational field. This implies that physical entities – particles and fields – are not all immersed in space, and moving in time. They do not live on spacetime. They live, so to say, on one another. It is as if we had observed in the ocean many animals living on an island: animals ‘on’ the island. Then we discover that the island itself is in fact a great whale. Not anymore animals on the island, just animals on animals. Similarly, the universe is not made by fields on spacetime; it is made by fields on fields.” — Carlo Rovelli, in ‘Quantum Gravity’
“By the principle of Occam’s razor, physicists and philosophers prefer ideas that can explain the same phenomena with the fewest assumptions. In this case you can construct a perfectly valid theory by positing the existence of certain relations without additionally assuming individual things. So proponents of ontic structural realism say we might as well dispense with things and assume that the world is made of [relational-spatial] structures, or nets of relations.” – Meinard Kuhlmann, ‘What is Real’, Scientific American, August 2013
‘Reason’ is a psychological device for explaining what shapes ‘the behaviour of things’ [inhabitants of the habitat] once we impose an absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’ to split out ‘relational forms’ in the continually-transforming relational spatial plenum of yin/yang nature, so as to present them as absolute, independently-existing ‘Beings’. ‘Reason’ thus replaces ‘yin’, the non-local, non-visible, non-material, purely relational aspect of the yin/yang dynamics of nature.
‘Reason’ is played out using the device of ‘noun-and-verb European/scientific language-and-grammar. For example, the construction of a house is attributed to the ‘reason-based doer-deed actions’ of ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ called ‘humans’. However, our intuition [relational understanding] informs us that the world is one thing, a continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum, … and in this ‘relations-first-things-last’ view, ‘man’ is not a ‘Being’ but an activity, a relational form, a ‘manning’ (a verb rather than a noun, as in the indigenous aboriginal flow-based languages). Only by imposing absolute space and absolute time reference-framing which reducing the ‘manning’ as a verb into ‘man’ as a noun signifying ‘Being’ do we set up the psychological scenario for attributing jumpstart authorship of the house to the ‘independent reason-driven Being’ called ‘man’. In other words, the imputing of ‘Being’ to the ‘manning’, interposed a synthetic, fixed local starting point into the circularity of a purely relational spatial dynamic. Instead of the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial dynamic being understood as the source of everything including mannings and housings, a new and absolute God-like jumpstart force is interposed; i.e. ‘reason-driven Being’ which is claimed to be the orchestrating and organization source of the social dynamic, in place of the outside-inward ‘yin’ influence that orchestrates and shapes individual and collective behaviours in the ‘relations-first-things-last’ view.
‘Reason’ and ‘Being’ and their derivative ‘reason-driven Doers-of deeds’ are not only ‘secularized theological concepts’ and ‘psychological tools’ [fingers pointing to the moon, ‘economies of thought’] that are running away with the workman’ [Emerson], they are the psychological source of anthropocentrism and humanism and moral judgement that blind us to the real physical, transformational influence of our notional ‘reason-driven doer-deed’ actions. The ‘positive advances’ and ‘progress’ that Western civilization see as the fruits of the labours of ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ known as humans, are ‘results’ that only exist in the synthetic world where ‘construction’ is seen as something in its own right, out of the context of its conjugate, ‘destruction’. ‘Progress’ can thus be seen as a ‘moral judgement’ that implies a ‘denial of death’ [the constructed house somehow arises without the destruction of forest and meadow].
Indigenous aboriginal cultures, with the help of their flow-based languages did not take ‘manning’ out of the flow and give the mannings ‘Being’ within a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’ populated by independently-existing reason-driven man-Beings. In the ‘relations-first-things-last’ view of the indigenous aboriginal culture, the ‘learning circle’ is a place where one switches from ‘head voice’ [rationality, things-first-relations-last] to ‘heart voice’ [relationality, relations-first-things-last], … so that one can listen to the actual relational experiences of all of the members of the community, and bring them into coherent connective relational confluence. The circle process captures the ‘beyond reason’, ‘beyond morality’ yin/yang view of dynamics wherein;
“The dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants at the same time as the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat” – Mach’s principle
This would be the view that McLuhan talks about where he says that the [relationally transforming] ‘medium is the message’, where he notes that the notional ‘construction of a factory as a ‘thing that does stuff’ is not the physical reality;
“Many people would be disposed to say that it was not the machine, but what one did with the machine, that was its meaning or message. In terms of the ways in which the machine altered our relations to one another and ourselves, it mattered not in the least whether it turned out cornflakes or Cadillacs.” — Marshall McLuhan, ‘Understanding Media’ [the transforming relational ‘medium is the message’]
The physical reality is the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum. It is beyond ‘what reason-driven Beings do’ as if in an absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’. In the ‘relations-first-things-last’ worldview, we are agents of transformation rather than ‘doers-of-deeds’ as it appears in an absolute space populated by independently-existing Beings-in-themselves. The transforming spatial relations we are included in not only orchestrate our individual and collective behaviours, they engender our individual and collective selves [relational forms].
The indigenous aboriginal participants that come together in the ‘council circle process’ are not there to each answer a JFK type doer-deed question;
“ask not what your community can do for you—ask what you can do for your community”
… where each person commits to constructing this or that, since, in the ‘relations-first-things-last’ indigenous aboriginal culture, it is recognized that the over-arching dynamic is the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum and that is what all must attune to, and let it orchestrate their individual and collective actions. They know that they do not live in an absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’ populated by notional ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ with their own internal process driven and-directed behaviours.
In many cases, people learn ‘wu-wei’ or ‘non-action’ from the circle process, to back off as one does in the relational spatial crowd dynamic, so as to cultivate and sustain harmonious spatial-relational flow. Sustaining harmony in the transforming-in-the-now relational spatial medium is the message, in the circle process. It is NOT about morally judging the doer-deeds of ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ that purportedly transpire within a notional ‘absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’.
‘Reason’ is the psychological liberator of man from the yin/yang relational spatial dynamics of nature. ‘Reason’ arises as the replacement for ‘yin’ necessitated when yin/yang relational space is replaced by non-relational absolute space and absolute time. The moral judgements of ‘positive doer-deed achievement’ and ‘progress’ that are attributed to ‘independent reason-driven Beings that populate a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-operating-theatre’ do not ‘register’ in the physical reality of the continually-transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum. They ‘live’ only in noun-and-verb European/scientific language-and-grammar ‘histories’ which are inherently subjective and captured very differently by different observers. Without the God of Grammar to sustain them, they disperse like purely relational forms in a continually transforming relational spatial plenum.
The yin/yang world of nature, a world of relational forms in a continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum, a world of ‘relations-first-things-last’, is a world in which the purely relational [non-local, non-visible, non-material] aspect [which could be called the ‘spiritual aspect’] is only indirectly implied through its conjugate yang [local, visible, material] manifest aspect. In this yin/yang worldview, the material aspect is simply the shadow of ‘spiritual-development’ that sources the continuing transformation of the unus mundus, a world of ‘relations first, things last’.
* * *
Appendix I: The Core Thesis of this Essay
In the yin/yang dynamic of the continually transforming relational spatial plenum in which we are relational forms [the agencies of transformation], the world continually dies to accommodate its continuing living. The universe is the fuel that fires its own burning and we are the flickering embers.
Yin is non-local, non-visible, non-material, purely relational influence that, in accommodating (dying), orchestrates and shapes the emergence of yang asserting action structures. [living and dying are conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of relational spatial transformation]
But noun-and-verb European/Scientific language-and-grammar has created Western civilization whose belief in the God-of-Grammar introduces ‘Being’ as the notional jumpstart source of all local, visible, material, manifest ‘yang’ action, psychologically denying the yin source of yang.
Western civilization re-presents the world dynamic ‘minus’ yin, using Being, including ‘human beings’ as the notional sourcer[or]s of the manifest ‘yang’ material dynamics. Instead of the accommodating ‘yin’, the relational spatial dying, the conjugate partner of ‘yang’ that feeds the continually emerging, material ‘yang’ dynamics that we know as the manifest world, [‘yin’ is the nurturing endosmosis that energizes the hungrily asserting ‘yang’ exosmosis in the manner that an elastic-space-as-loading-and-unloading springiness, is, in the process of unloading, energizing its own reloading], … we allow the God of Grammar to interpose ‘Being’ as the notional ‘causal source’ of the manifest yang action and reduce the yin/yang dynamic to all-yang-no-yin dynamics.
‘Being’ becomes the home of idealized ‘intention’, a jumpstarting point-of-incidence within the transforming activity continuum of yin/yang nature, that is seen as jumpstarting its own activity, and in our psychological assimilating of this picture, inducing us to forget about the primary role of ‘yin’. The yang actions of the manifest world, the world of appearances can then be [MIS-]understood by being portrayed in terms of ‘independently-existing thing-in-themselves ‘Beings’ and what they do’ as if in an absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-operating-theatre. The empty space-and-time reference frame satisfies the psychological need for an ‘operating theatre’ for the world dynamic while the notional ‘independently-existing thing-in-themselves Beings’ provide the jumpstart sourcing units that ‘produce’ the world dynamic. The inhabitants and habitat thus split apart in our mental viewing screen and the understanding of inhabitants and habitat as conjugate partners, relational forms in a continually transforming relational spatial plenum, is purged from our ‘consciousness’.
‘Reason’ is the calculus whereby the actions of ‘Beings’ are mapped into the notionally ‘resulting’ yang dynamics, implying a ‘causal relation’ between the actions of ‘Beings’ and the manifest ‘yang’ world dynamic.
‘Reason’ psychologically liberates man from his inclusion the yin/yang dynamics of nature. ‘Reason’ is a denial of death, a denial of the world as a continually transforming relational spatial plenum whose ‘excrement is its food’ [Nietzsche], whose output is its input, whose living is its dying [the ‘coniunctio’ that is the inherent nature of transformation]. The world of ‘reason’ is a pure yang world which kicks off from the notion of ‘Beings’ as constituting the animating source of yang world dynamic.
No more yin/yang relational spatial transformation of unum/plenum, … but instead, an empty and infinite absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’ populated locally, by ‘material Beings’ a vast multiplicity of local, visible, material ‘things-in-themselves’, the notional jumpstart sourcer[or]s of the manifest ‘yang’ world dynamic.
Western man sees himself as a Being in this world as ‘big box store’, as a jumpstart source ‘yang’ production. Farmer John produces wheat, so he says, using his noun-and-verb European/Scientific language-and-grammar which imputes ‘Being’ and ‘intention’ to relational forms in the continually transforming relational-spatial plenum, relocating the animative sourcing of the world dynamic from the activity continuum; i.e. the transforming relational spatial plenum, and putting it into the now language-and-grammar fragmented replacement world of notional independently-existing material object-beings-in-themselves that causally produce results in a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’.
But farmer John is included in the world dynamic as a relational form amongst other relational forms such as the wheat plant. The world’s excrement is its food or the world’s production/output is its food. The world is a continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum, a yin/yang relational spatial activity continuum.
When farmer John constructs a farmhouse, grain silos and a barn, forest and meadow has to die to accommodate his yang action. The diverse multiplicity of plants in the natural soil have to be ripped out and killed in order to accommodate a field full of his favourite plants, his anthropocentrist/humanist preferred plants.
How many trees had to die to accommodate the construction of his farmhouse, silos and barn? What if he was on a lunar landscape or in a desert space, that could not accommodate him in so many way that ‘make him look good’. That is, the relational space he is situated in, by the manner in which it accommodates his asserting actions, can make him ‘look good’. When the mediocre ‘hitter’ in baseball shifts from hitting into fielding group A to fielding group C, his ‘batting average’ may rise or fall depending on how accommodating the different fielding groups are. It is impossible to separate out the hitter’s yang asserting contribution and the fielders’ yin accommodating contribution because what actually, physically, manifests is the combination of both; i.e. the dynamic is ONE yin/yang dynamic where asserting/hitting and accommodating/fielding are conjugate aspects of this one yin/yang dynamic. If the ‘hitting results’ (batting averages) rise, we can never know for sure if it isn’t due to a decline in the disaccommodating contribution of the fielding.
If farmer John’s ‘production’ rises, is it due his ‘hitting’ competency rising, or is it due to variations in the accommodating contribution of the relational space he is situationally included in. We know that in Oklahoma, the production of normally competent farmer-hitters went into decline in the dustbowl era as the relational space became less accommodating. Our intuition is that the decline in the relational spatial accommodating was the leading influence in the decline in the ‘farmer’s production’, even if the revised circumstances orchestrated and shaped revised actions on the part of the farmer [in the end, it is impossible to isolate the explicit contributions of ‘asserting inhabitant’ and ‘accommodating habitat’ since they are conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of relational spatial transformation; i.e. the asserting inhabitant is a relational form in the accommodating habitat = continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum].
So why does our noun-and-verb European/Scientific language-and-grammar capture this dynamic in the subject-being-jumpstarted terms ‘farmer John’s wheat production’? The continually transforming relational spatial plenum is continually ‘dying’ to accommodate newly asserting relational forms, such as ‘farmers’ and ‘plants’. As in Taoist and indigenous aboriginal understanding and as in flow-based languages, the yin-accommodating valley is the leader of the yin/yang dance that is manifest as asserting yang action. The manifest yang action, the local, visible material assertive dynamic is the ‘shadow’ of the leader of the conjugate dance partnership, the non-local, non-visible, non-material yin-accommodating. Try farming on the moon or in the middle of the Sahara and then move to California and try farming there. Will your production go up? Why do we even ask the question in that subject-being-jumpstarting form which implies that ‘you have the power of producing’ crops? That is a pure yang concept that notionally attributes the production to you as if you are an independent reason-driven organism that interacts with other independent things, within an absolute space and absolute time reference frame-come-‘operating theatre’. Trees and meadow grasses must die to accommodate the asserting rise of the farmhouse. In physical reality [absolute space and absolute time are NOT physical reality], there is just one relational space and one cannot ‘create’ something new in it without something already in place ‘dying’ or giving-itself up to accommodate the new creation [creation and annihilation are conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of relational spatial transformation].
What we call ‘your production’ is ultimately determined by the accommodating properties of the relational space you are situationally included in. How many trees had to fall and die for the raising of your house?
This psychological manipulating called ‘reason’ would have it that the raising of your house derives fully and solely from the assertive actions of an independent reason-driven Being called ‘farmer John’.
What happened to the ‘fielding’ in the ‘hitting-fielding’? What happened to the ‘accommodating’ in the ‘asserting-accommodating’? What happened to the ‘yin’ in the ‘yin/yang’ dynamics of nature?
Oh, human Beings claim that ‘reason’ replaced ‘yin/accommodating/fielding’ so that ‘man’s reason’ was the creative engine responsible for the construction of the farmhouse. Of course, ‘reason’ also does away with yin/yang relational space and substitutes a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’ for reason’s ‘independent reason-driven being’-sourced all-yang-no-yin dynamics to transpire within.
Isn’t it great what the God of Grammar can do with its toy set of nouns and verbs? The noun can take a relational form in a transforming relational spatial activity continuum, and endow it with ‘Being’ and ‘intention’ and let it ‘inflect a verb’ so that the relational form abstractly concretized as a ‘purposeful Being’ appears to be the local source of ‘its own assertive yang action’. Instead of acknowledging the inhabitant-habitat relation as an activity within the activity continuum [like a convection cell within a relational spatial flow-continuum], as in an indigenous aboriginal language where all nouns are verbs; e.g. what they call a ‘manning’ in the activity continuum of nature, we call a ‘man’, , … we reduce the relational form [= activity deserving a verb] to a ‘noun’ a ‘Being’ that we load with ‘its own intention’ and with its own ‘reason’ so that it can be its own jumpstart source of causally determined … ‘production’ …
And when we see a farmhouse where once forest and meadow stood, how should we explain that? in the indigenous aboriginal language, a house is a verb;
“in Nootka, a language of Vancouver Island, all words seem to us to be verbs, but really there are no classes 1 and 2; we have, as it were, a monistic view of nature that gives us only one class of word for all kinds of events. ‘A house occurs’ or ‘it houses’ is the way of saying ‘house,’ exactly like ‘a flame occurs’ or ‘it burns.’ These terms seem to us like verbs because they are inflected for durational and temporal nuances, so that the suffixes of the word for house event make it mean longlasting house, temporary house, future house, house that used to be, what started out to be a house, and so on.” – Benjamin Whorf, ‘Science and Linguistics’
Thus, the farmhouse is a dynamic within the yin/yang relational activity continuum [it is an activity within the activity continuum of nature], and trees are dying to accommodate its asserting emergence, the mediating agents in this being the mannings which are also relational forms within the continually transforming relational spatial activity continuum [plenum].
But Western civilization with its noun-and-verb European/Scientific language-and-grammar understands ‘mannings’ as ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ aka ‘human beings’ aka ‘man’ that are jumpstart authors of constructions such as the farmhouse, and such language-and-grammar has us, when we spot a ‘farmhouse’, REASON that it must have been produced by one or more of these ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ like ourselves. We might even recall how ‘we once produced a farmhouse like that’.
Of course, in our noun-and-verb European/Scientific language-and-grammar where we envisage dynamics in such terms as what ‘independent reason-driven Beings produce’, the working space or ‘operating theatre’ has now become an ‘absolute space and absolute time reference-frame’. No more of this yin/yang continually transforming relational spatial plenum with its relational forms stuff, … now we have a diverse multitude of independently-existing object Beings, some dead and some living that move about and interact in that absolute fixed and empty x,y,z,t box-frame, constituting the only possible authoring sources of yang change in this dualist operating where ‘habitat’ and ‘inhabitant’ are mutually excluding.
“From the form-plus-substance dichotomy the philosophical views most traditionally characteristic of the “Western world” have derived huge support. Here belong materialism, psychophysical parallelism, physics–at least in its traditional Newtonian form–and dualistic views of the universe in general. Indeed here belongs almost everything that is “hard, practical common sense.” Monistic, holistic, and relativistic views of reality appeal to philosophers and some scientists, but they are badly handicapped in appealing to the “common sense” of the Western average man–not because nature herself refutes them (if she did, philosophers could have discovered this much), but because they must be talked about in what amounts to a new language. “Common sense,” as its name shows, and “practicality” as its name does not show, are largely matters of talking so that one is readily understood. It is sometimes stated that Newtonian space, time, and matter are sensed by everyone intuitively, whereupon relativity is cited as showing how mathematical analysis can prove intuition wrong. This, besides being unfair to intuition, is an attempt to answer offhand question (1) put at the outset of this paper, to answer which this research was undertaken. Presentation of the findings now nears its end, and I think the answer is clear. The offhand answer, laying the blame upon intuition for our slowness in discovering mysteries of the Cosmos, such as relativity, is the wrong one. The right answer is: Newtonian space, time, and matter are no intuitions. They are receipts from culture and language. That is where Newton got them.” – Benjamin Whorf, ‘The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language.
“Our yang performance”; i.e. that which “independent intelligent reason-driven Beings produce by their own hand” … DOES NOT EXIST. It is idealization, the contrivance of the God of Grammar. The world is one dynamic, it is the yin/yang dynamic of a continually transforming relational spatial plenum which transforms by way of relational forms serving as agents of transformation.
‘Beings’ do not physically exist. They exist only as ideas in the idealized conceptual world of absolute space and absolute time.
‘Reason’ is a secularized theological concept that obfuscates and occludes from conscious awareness, the outside-inward accommodating ‘yin’ aspect of yin/yang relational spatial dynamics.
The world of ‘independently-existing reason-driven ‘human Beings’ that cause/produce results ’ DOES NOT PHYSICALLY EXIST. IT IS NOT PART OF OUR PHYSICAL SENSORY EXPERIENCE OF SITUATIONAL INCLUSION IN A RELATIONAL ACTIVITY CONTINUUM , … IT IS ‘IDEALIZATION’. It is a ‘make believe world’ that Western civilization imposes as ‘the real world’ by institutionalizing it in its systems of government, commerce and justice.
The globally dominating Western civilization ‘runs on delusion in which the yin/yang dynamics of nature are synthetically reduced to one-sided yang dynamics jumpstarted by notional ‘independently-existing material beings’. ‘Reason’ is an imagined process that is invented to explain ‘construction’ in pure all-yang-no-yin terms; i.e. ‘construction’ out of the context of its conjugate partner ‘destruction’. ‘Reason’ is ‘the denial of death’. ‘Reason’ explains the emergence of the ‘farmhouse’ without acknowledging the death of trees and plants, attributing it to the ‘reason-driven’ actions of ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ called man [and not called ‘mannings’ as would imply relational forms in a relational activity continuum]. ‘Reason’ holds that the farmhouse is fully and solely produced by ‘independent reason-driven Beings’. The reason that ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ do not construct as many farmhouses in the Sahara Desert is because ‘they choose not to’. Western European/Scientific language-and-grammar would never admit that the accommodating aspect of the habitat orchestrates and shapes his individual and collective behaviour. It is the nature of ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ to jumpstart-author their own yang behaviours, fully and solely from their own internal intellection and purpose. If they were ‘mannings’, relational forms in a relational activity continuum, the accommodating influence of the relational space they were in would orchestrate and shape their individual and collective behaviours and make them ‘look good’, as is possible in any conjugate yin/yang ‘hitting-fielding’ ‘asserting-accommodating’ relation. But no, ‘reason’ would have it that ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ are the jumpstart sourcer[or]s of ‘their own productive results’, the ‘farmhouse’ being a case in point.
Right now, the world is dominated and controlled by ‘reasoning’ people who see themselves as ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ capable of jumpstart sourcing of ‘productive results’ such as ‘constructing farmhouses’ and ‘producing wheat crops’, the source of all of these causally-determined ‘productive results’ being traceable [by reasoning people] back to the internal processes within ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ such as biochemical and biophysical processes which provide a neuronal etc. substrate that supports intellection and purpose directed actions [reason-driven actions].
For Western people with their noun-and-verb European/Scientific language-and-grammar, inquiry into ‘how the farmhouse got there’ can be traced backwards in space and time to the causally determining actions of independent reason-driven Beings called ‘man’. There is in this, ‘a denial of death’, a denial of the lead role of the accommodating ‘yin’ influence in the yin/yang physical dynamics of nature. The orchestrating influence of a relational spatial habitat on its included inhabitants disappears with its notional replacement by a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’. Once the world has been split into two separate components, habitat and inhabitants, it is no longer possible to acknowledge Mach’s principle which understands the conjugate relation of habitat and inhabitants [as with relational forms in a continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum].
“The dynamics of the habitat/fielders are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants/hitters at the same time as the dynamics of the inhabitants/hitters are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat/fielders.” – Mach’s principle
‘Being’ and ‘reason’ are both imposters, and a ‘reasoning Being’ is doubly so;
Go, wiser thou! and, in thy scale of sense
Weigh thy opinion against Providence;
Call imperfection what thou fanciest such,
Say, here he gives too little, there too much:
Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust,
Yet cry, if man’s unhappy, God’s unjust;
If man alone engross not Heav’n’s high care,
Alone made perfect here, immortal there:
Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,
Rejudge his justice, be the God of God.
In pride, in reas’ning pride, our error lies;
— Alexander Pope, ‘An Essay on Man: Epistle I’
FootNote to Appendix I: — While the critique of ‘Being’ and ‘reason’ [repeated as follows] may seem ‘shocking’ to Western culture-acculturated viewers;
‘Beings’ do not physically exist. They exist only as ideas in the idealized conceptual world of absolute space and absolute time.
‘Reason’ is a secularized theological concept that obfuscates and occludes from conscious awareness, the outside-inward accommodating ‘yin’ aspect of yin/yang relational spatial dynamics.
The ‘all-yang-no-yin’ [things-first-relations-last] world of ‘independently-existing reason-driven ‘human Beings’ that cause/produce results ’ DOES NOT PHYSICALLY EXIST. IT IS NOT PART OF OUR PHYSICAL SENSORY EXPERIENCE OF SITUATIONAL INCLUSION IN A RELATIONAL ACTIVITY CONTINUUM , … IT IS ‘IDEALIZATION’. It is a ‘make-believe world’ that Western civilization imposes as ‘the real world’ by institutionalizing it in its systems of government, commerce and justice.
… this critique is not shocking to many philosophers of modern physics, nor to the philosophies of indigenous aboriginal, Taoist and Zen Buddhist cultures.
For example, François Lurçat (1927-2012), Physics professor emeritus at the University of Paris, author of ‘La Science suicidaire’ and ‘De la Science a l’Ignorance’ points out that our Western ‘scientific culture’ does not distinguish between models or ‘technological applications’ ‘that work’ and make a lot of money, … and ‘science’, in the sense of theory oriented to an ‘understanding of nature’.
This public perception of science, organised by the media with the active or passive complicity of scientists, no longer allows even an educated public truly to distinguish between real and bogus discoveries, nor between real and bogus science. It heads doggedly onwards in the same direction, blurring the distinction between science and magic.” — François Lurçat, ‘De la Science à l’Ignorance’.
Reductionist models of science based on ‘things-first-relations-last’ [= all-yang-no-yin] in terms of ‘what notionally independently-existing things-in-themselves do’ as if in a notional ‘absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’ provide an effective design basis for developing efficient systems for cause-effect killing of insects or ‘you name it’ [systems achieving some cause-and-effect results as predicted by these ‘all-yang-no-yin’ scientific models]. Meanwhile, such models, because they assume an ‘absolute space and absolute time ‘operating theatre’, say nothing about how such successful applications are transforming the habitat in which their successful application is being undertaken. The science for getting the 100,001st satellite into orbit is the same science as for satellite number 1, but what about the orbiting space junk that progressively clutters the earth’s exosphere and ultimately falls to earth, threatening populated areas?
‘Standard’ [mainstream] science inevitably assumes absolute fixed empty and infinite Euclidian space, a ‘things-first-relations-last’ [yang] space, and NOT a ‘relations-first-things-last’ relational [non-Euclidian, yin/yang] space wherein Mach’s principle applies.
Relational space requires a different language, a relational language like Nootka rather than a noun-and-verb European/Scientific language-and-grammar. As Poincaré observes;
“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
That is, if one wants to assume a relational space wherein ‘relations are first, things are last’, this requires a different language, a more complex language like that of the Nootka where ‘all nouns are verbs’. As Poincaré points out, if we use a ‘things-first, relations-last’ paradigm, these allows us simple noun-and-verb language constructs such as ‘the earth rotates’. This implies ‘absolute space’ which drops out mention of the spatial relations that are sourcing the earth’s rotation. In other words, it is more convenient to assume absolute space in that it simplifies our language architecture.
“And just as our Copernicus said to us : It is more convenient to suppose the earth turns round, since thus the laws of astronomy are expressible in a much simpler language ; this one would say: It is more convenient to suppose the earth turns round, since thus the laws of mechanics are expressible in a much simpler language. . This does not preclude maintaining that absolute space, that is to say the mark to which it would be necessary to refer the earth to know whether it really moves, has no objective existence. Hence, this affirmation; ‘the earth turns round’ has no meaning, since it can be verified by no experiment; since such an experiment, not only could not be either realized or dreamed by the boldest Jules Verne, but can not be conceived of without contradiction; or rather these two propositions; ‘the earth turns round,’ and, ‘it is more convenient to suppose the earth turns round’ have the same meaning; there is nothing more in the one than in the other. “ — Henri Poincaré, ‘Science and Hypothesis’, Ch. VII Relative Motion and Absolute Motion
Ernst Mach similarly pointed out that science seeks to simplify, to generalize or ‘departicularize’; i.e. the value in scientific models is in their ability to use the one model for many different situations.
“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
Selecting theoretical architectures or paradigms on the basis of which will generate the simplest language leads us back to the use of absolute Euclidian space and absolute time, a ‘yang’ paradigm or ‘things-first-relations-last paradigm’ where dynamics are in the simple terms of ‘what independently-existing things-in-themselves-are-doing’.
However, the space of our physical sensory experience is relational, ‘relations-first-things-last’ [everything is in flux]. It is a yin/yang space or ‘non-Euclidian space’ which is less simple in the manner in which a polynomial of degree two is less simple than a polynomial of degree one [Poincaré], which, as Einstein pointed out in his speech/essay, ‘Geometry and Experience’, involves the property of ‘reciprocal disposition’. That is, non-Euclidian space or ‘relations-first-things-last space’ has a kind of springiness in it that involves outside-inward push-back at the same time as inside-outward push-out. It is convenient for us to describe dynamics in the simple ‘yang’ language of ‘what things do’, but the reality is that ‘outside-inward orchestrating influence is the conjugate partner of inside-outward asserting action. We can see the talcum powder moving about in a Kundt’s tube and settling in little piles due to the acoustic energy stimulation [e.g. from a speaker on one end that is infusing a tone], but we cannot see the outside-inward orchestrating influence or ‘yin’ influence since it is non-local, non-visible and non-material. This is the general case for a wave-dynamical or ‘relations-first-things-last’ space.
And here is where using simple yang language leads us into making a mistaken attribution wherein ‘results’ that derive from the non-local, non-visible, non-material orchestrating influence of ‘yin’ in a ‘relations-first-things-last’ [yin/yang] space are accredited to the ‘reason’ based actions of a ‘yang causal agent’, the familiar exemplar being ‘man’ seen as ‘an independent reason-driven Being’.
In our Western scientific culture, it is common to psychologically mis-attribute ‘yin orchestrating influence’ to the ‘reasoning’ or ‘intelligence’ of a notional ‘independently-existing yang doer-deed capable Being’. This mis-attribution derives from over-simplifying relational dynamics using ‘things-first-relations-last’ noun-and-verb European/Scientific language-and-grammar.
The following picture shows, side-by-side, three different cases in which ‘expanding spheres’ are transformed into ‘hexagonal cells’ by the reciprocal backpressure of the relational space they form in; i.e. the cells of honeybees, a cluster of expanding soap bubbles, and convection cells [Bénard cells that form when a horizontal layer of water is heated from below]
In debates prior to 1901 [see Maurice Maeterlinck’s ‘Life of the Bee’] many inquirers into the precision of honeycomb cells credited the bee with the amazing engineering intelligence of designing the most highly optimized storage cell mathematically possible, the hexagonal cell. However, the theory of Buffon opted for ‘relations-first-things-last’ [yin/yang] rather than ‘things-first-relations-last’ [yang], as follows;
“There is a theory, originally propounded by Buffon and now revived, which assumes that the bees have not the least intention of constructing hexagons with a pyramidal base, but that their desire is merely to contrive round cells in the wax; only, that as their neighbours, and those at work on the opposite side of the comb, are digging at the same moment and with the same intentions, the points where the cells meet must of necessity become hexagonal. Besides, it is said, this is precisely what happens to crystals, the scales of certain kinds of fish, soap-bubbles, etc., as it happens in the following experiment that Buffon suggested. “If,” he said, “you fill a dish with peas or any other cylindrical bean, pour as much water into it as the space between the beans will allow, close it carefully and then boil the water, you will find that all these cylinders have become six-sided columns. And the reason is evident, being indeed purely mechanical; each of the cylindrical beans tends, as it swells, to occupy the utmost possible space within a given space; wherefore it follows that the reciprocal compression compels them all to become hexagonal. Similarly each bee seeks to occupy the utmost possible space within a given space, with the necessary result that, its body being cylindrical, the cells become hexagonal for the same reason as before, viz., the working of reciprocal obstacles.” – Maurice Maeterlinck, ‘The Life of the Bee’ (1901).
Buffon’s notion that ‘reciprocal compression compels them all to become hexagonal’ is ‘relations-first-things-last’ [yin/yang].
The alternative theory was and is that the intelligence of the bees is responsible for the mathematically precise optimization implicit in the hexagonal cell structure. The following quotes are from a modern article on the same enigmatic issue, by Robert Krulwich entitled ‘What is it About Bees and Hexagons?’ which, as François Lurçat ‘complains’, continues to confuse yang models for ‘reality’; i.e. in the ‘things-first-relations-last’ yang models of science, one is forced to attribute the ‘result’ to a yang causal agent, making him look very intelligent indeed [crediting ‘his reason/intelligence’ for a complex and elegant result, rather than the non-local, non-visible, non-material ‘yin’ influence, as in Buffon’s ‘relations-first-things-last’ yin/yang theory.
Compactness matters. The more compact your structure, the less wax you need to construct the honeycomb. Wax is expensive. A bee must consume about eight ounces of honey to produce a single ounce of wax. So if you are watching your wax bill, you want the most compact building plan you can find.
“[The honeycomb is] absolutely perfect in economizing labor and wax.” – Charles Darwin
Two thousand thirty-five years after Marcus Terentius Varro proposed his conjecture, a mathematician at the University of Michigan, Thomas Hales, solved the riddle. It turns out, Varro was right. A hexagonal structure is indeed more compact. In 1999, that said so.
As the ancient Greeks suspected, as Varro claimed, as bee lovers have always thought, as Charles Darwin himself once wrote, the honeycomb is a masterpiece of engineering. It is “absolutely perfect in economizing labor and wax.
Meanwhile, Buffon’s ‘relations-first-things-last’ solution to the hexagonal cell problem, attributing it to the outside-inward [yin] shaping influence [reciprocal compression] is supported by the soap bubble and convection cell phenomena. It is what one gets when one goes with ‘relations-first-things-second’, non-euclidian relational space of modern physics, rather than going with ‘things-first-relations-second’ [the euclidian absolute, non-relational space of newtonian physics that derives from noun-and-verb language-and-grammar].
The relational space of modern physics is a dynamic unum/plenum; i.e. it is ‘the whole thing’ in which the inhabitants [man, organisms, objects] are NOT ‘independent thing-in-themselves ‘Beings’ but relational forms in a continually transforming relational spatial plenum. In other words, humans and organisms are not really ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ who jumpstart engineer results, they are relational forms in the relational flow-continuum. The convection cell is not an independently-existing thing-in-itself Being that has its own ‘yang’ behaviour. The convection cell is a resonance feature in the flow; … a relational form in the continually transforming relational spatial plenum; … it is a region in the flow-plenum where ‘outside-inward accommodating, many-to-one converging ‘yin’ ‘sink’ influence and inside-outward asserting, one-to-many diverging ‘yang’ ‘source’ actions are in conjugate relation [resonant relation]. The convection cell is NOT an independent intelligent being that is engineering its hexagonal form, the outside-inward reciprocal compression or ‘yin’ influence conjugate to its yang asserting is where its form and behaviour come from.
As François Lurçat charges, our Western ‘scientific culture’ increasingly confuses its simple yang models for God-like truths. In our science’s typical all-yang-no-yin, ‘things-first-relations-last’ models, there is no possibility of outside-inward orchestrating and shaping ‘yin’ influence as in a yin/yang relational [non-euclidian] space, therefore, in order to ‘jumpstart’ the authorship of structures like the ‘hexagonal cells’, there is no other option but to impute the authorship of the precision structure to the work of an ‘intelligent Being’.
Buffon’s ‘yin/yang’, ‘relations-first-things-last’ solution is ‘off-limits’ for reductionist thinkers, and as Lurçat points out, this adjective is an apt general description of our modern ‘scientific culture’, including Stephen Hawkings and the Big Bangers. The world view is ‘all-yang-no-yin’, ‘things-first-relations-last’.
This mis-attributes non-local, non-visible, non-material [wave dynamical] ‘yin’ influence to the ‘reason’ that resides within the yang causal agent, doer-of-deeds, that sources and shapes the ‘result’ from the inside-outwards [there is no other option but inside-outward influence in the local, visible, material view of dynamics in the ‘things-first-relations-last’ worldview].
When we assume absolute space and absolute time and thus constrain our understanding of dynamics to ‘things-first-relations-last’ yang dynamics, all results, all forms and all structures can only be due to yang authoring sources.
This attributes all complexity in nature to ‘reason’ and ‘intelligence’, whether the ‘intelligent designer in the sky’ or in the ‘intelligent Beings’ on earth.
Why ‘intelligence’? Why ‘reason’? That is, this concept of reason or intelligence to explain the source of complex structures and results is forced on us by having first assumed that ‘inhabitants’ are independent of the ‘habitat’ as in the ‘things-first-relations-second’ worldview. In the ‘relations-first-things-second’ optional view, the orchestrating and shaping of structures and complex dynamics derives from the continually transforming relational spatial plenum [e.g. as in the ‘pantheism’ of indigenous aboriginal understanding].
Now that the technology of observation has become so refined, it has been possible to bring to light amazing cooperative behaviour across interdependent matrices of plants in complex ecosystems. Were one to consider these plants as ‘relational forms in a continually transforming relational spatial plenum’, there would be no need to attribute the authoring source of the complex cooperative behaviours to ‘independent things in themselves’ and thus to postulate ‘their intelligence’ as the yang source of their ‘complex cooperative behaviour’, but that is the scientific community is doing ad absurdum!
Current scientific investigations is turning up what is being called ‘the amazing intelligence of plants’ as is manifest in complex coordination of behaviours across different species of plants and also across the plant, insect, bird, bear divisions [i.e. across the language-based divisions we have imposed on nature]. The David Suzuki ‘Nature of Things’ video called ‘Smarty Plants’ documents the efforts by scientist in trying to figure out where this ‘plant intelligence’ is coming from, since plants don’t even have a nucleus or central nervous system into which we can impute a centre-of-intelligence. This investigation does not question the ‘things-first-relations last’ assumption that each plant is an independently-existing thing-in-itself.
Had the scientists opted for the ‘relations-first-things-last’ view wherein the plant was seen as a relational form in the continually transforming relational spatial plenum, there would be no need to search for the ‘centre-of-intelligence’ in the plants that is notionally ‘responsible’ for the complex and elegant cooperative behaviours.
In a similar current era example, scientists are, as with the case of the honey-bee that is credited with an amazing rational engineering effort in coming up with the mathematically precision optimized hexagonal cell design, attributing another incredible engineering feat to plasmodia/slime mold.
The scientists are led, by the limiting of their own thoughts to the all-yang-no-yin space of the ‘things-first-relations-last’ option, to impute ‘complex decision-making intelligence’ to the ‘slime-mold’ and to make, in a Nova documentary entitled ‘Slime Mold Smarts’, the following absurd statement;
“The slime mold Physarum polycephalum is a single cell without a brain, yet it can make surprisingly complicated decisions. In this animated video short, watch as a slime mold navigates through a maze and solves a civil engineering problem.” — Nova, ‘Slime Mold Smarts’
The same issues arise as in ‘watching the bees construct their hexagonal cells’. Do we go with Buffon’s ‘relations-first-things-last’ option where ‘reciprocal compression’ is in conjugate relation with ‘asserting action’ as in a non-euclidian yin/yang relational space? Or do we stick with our usual all-yang-no-yin non-relational absolute, fixed, empty and infinite euclidian space where we are forced to explain the evolution of complex structures and behaviours solely in terms of yang causal agency? As François Lurçat charges, our scientific community believes in the metaphysics of absolute space and absolute time like its religious predecessors believed in an ‘intelligent designer in the sky’, and out of such belief comes the Enlightenment European view of man, organism and organization as ‘independent reason-driven Beings’ that operate in a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’.
In spite of the allusions to the yin/yang nature of the dynamics of our physical sensory experience via metaphors of ‘hitting-and-fielding’ in baseball and Lamarck and Nietzsche’s ‘endosmosis orchestrates exosmosis’ evolutionary model, our use of noun-and-verb European/Scientific language-and-grammar has us creating Beings using ‘nouns’ and ‘doer-deed behaviour’ using the grammar of nouns inflecting verbs, and out of this, as Whorf shows, comes absolute space and absolute time as the ‘operative space’ for dynamics, … dynamics that are thus compelled to be ‘things-first-relations-last’, all-yang-no-yin dynamics. So, instead of the convection cell being informed by the continually transforming relational spatial plenum it is included in to assume its hexagonal form, it is easier to attribute the development of this form to the convection cell as if it were an ‘independently-existing cell-in-itself’, like we think of Katrina, the one that was the subject of her own development, growth, intensification, movements, vicious attack where she ravaged New Orleans….’the convection cells are forming, they are intensifying, they are developing into hexagonal cells’.
Those convection cells seem to ‘know what they are doing’, right? The nouns in our language make them into ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves’ aka ‘Beings’ and our grammar that gives them the ability to inflect verbs which imputes reasoned intention to them. Who or what else would be responsible for them turning into hexagonal cells? If we ‘took back’ the purpose/intention and intelligence that noun-and-verb European/Scientific language-and-grammar impute to them, to what or whom would we attribute the sourcing of these geometrico-dynamically elegant structures? What’s that you say? … to the continually transforming relational spatial plenum in which they are relational forms? Backing out of our language-forced imputing of jumpstart authorship of intelligent behaviour in the relational forms, would mean that it originates instead in the web of relations in a ‘relations-first-things-last’ space, which smells a lot like pantheism, or like Emerson’s worldview where ‘the organizing influence in nature not only inhabits the organism but creates it’, … or like modern physics;
“By the principle of Occam’s razor, physicists and philosophers prefer ideas that can explain the same phenomena with the fewest assumptions. In this case you can construct a perfectly valid theory by positing the existence of certain relations without additionally assuming individual things. So proponents of ontic structural realism say we might as well dispense with things and assume that the world is made of [relational-spatial] structures, or nets of relations.” – Meinard Kuhlmann, ‘What is Real’, Scientific American, August 2013
It is not that we have to change our view of humans or plants as intelligent agents, it is just that we have to suspend imposing ‘independent existence on them’ and suspend imposing absoluteness on their habitat, so that we can instead see them as ‘relational forms in a continually transforming relational spatial plenum, wherein their ‘intelligence’ derives from the relational spatial dynamics they are situationally included in. In this case, they are like the ‘sailboater’ that derives its dynamic behaviour and its steerage from the dynamic relational space it is included in, … rather than like the ‘powerboater’ that jumpstarts his own dynamic behaviour and direction, notionally from his own onboard equipment. The former orients to the cultivating and sustaining of balance and harmony in the continuing-in-the-now voyage while the latter lets his intelligence/reason-defined, desired-future destination or ‘ends’ exploit his in-the-continuing-present behaviour as the subservient ‘means’.
‘Reason’ or ‘intelligence’ is thus a psychological liberator of man from the relational dynamics of nature of his physical sensory experiencing. It is at the same time the individual’s own ‘hijacker’, … a secularized theological influence that enslaves his continuing present experience by making it the subservient means to reason’s idealized desired-future goals and objectives based ‘ends’. This puts into context, the indigenous aboriginal ‘learning circle’ where one shifts from ‘head-voice’ to ‘heart-voice’, and Zen meditation as well, which seek to ‘quiet the reasoning mind’ so that one can re-attune to one’s inclusion, as relational form, in the continually transforming relational spatial plenum.
Appendix II: Evolution in terms of ‘relations-first-things-last’ versus ‘things-first-relations-last’
Darwinian evolution, criticized by Nietzsche, is clearly shaped by the ‘things-first-relations-last’ choice. ‘Evolution’ in the Darwinian model is conceived of as a transformation undergone by a notional ‘independently-existing Being’ that lives in a notional ‘absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating theatre’’. Evolution is thus seen as a purely ‘yang’ dynamic that parallels the ‘energizing of a Being’ mode of sourcing of ‘behaviour’ in the above discussion in the body of the essay.
What is missing here, as it was in the case of behaviour, … is ‘coupling’ with outside-inward orchestrating ‘yin’ energy associated with the continually transforming relational spatial plenum of yin/yang nature. That is, these inside-outward energizing ‘yang’ processes are all ‘rational’ schemes that smell of the ‘intelligent design’ of Creationism. No attribution is given to outside-inward orchestrating/shaping ‘yin’ influence of the continually transforming relational spatial plenum.
Both Lamarck and Nietzsche saw ‘evolution’ in yin/yang terms, as the conjugate relation of outside-inward orchestrating ‘yin’ influence and inside-outward asserting ‘yang’ actions. Since that outside-inward orchestrating ‘yin’ influence associates with the overall, continually transforming relational spatial plenum, … ‘evolution’ is understood as applying to the universe [making no distinction between inorganic and organic realms as the ‘things-first-relations-last’ Darwinist evolution does].
“In developing this aspect of the will to power, Nietzsche drew heavily on the ideas of an obscure Anglo-German zoologist, William Rolph (‘Biologische Probleme’). … Rolph denies the existence of an instinct for self-preservation – or at the very least rejects the notion that such a drive represents the principle motivation of animal behaviour. Rather, life seeks primarily to expand itself. This elementary proposition is expressed as a law of assimilation, a law operative in both the organic and inorganic world. Growth, Rolph argues, is determined by a process of diffusion, in which endosmosis predominates over exosmosis. All organic functions, from nutrition and reproduction right up to evolution, can be explained by, and reduced to, this fundamental activity; they are not, as most contemporary biologists assumed, a manifestation of the instinct of self-preservation.” – Gregory Moore, ‘Nietzsche, Biology and Metaphor’.
In Lamarck’s case, his view of evolution was that it is orchestrated outside-inwardly, by ‘field’ dynamics that excite inside-outward asserting action in fluids. This is summarized by Lamarck in his ‘Recherches sur l’Organisation des Corps Vivants’, as follows;
« Dans une pareille masse de matières, les fluides subtils et expansifs répandus et toujours en mouvement dans les milieux qui l’environnent, pénétrant sans cesse et s’en dissipant de même, régularisent en traversant cette masse, la disposition intérieure de ses parties, et la rendent propre alors à absorber et à exhaler continuellement les autres fluides environnans qui peuvent pénétrer dans son intérieur et qui sont susceptibles
Ces autres fluides, qui sont l’eau chargée de gaz dissous ou d’autres matières ténues, l’air atmosphérique que contient l’eau, etc.. je les appellerai fluides contenables, pour les distinguer des fluides subtils, tels que le calorique, la matière électrique, etc.. qu’aucun corps connu ne sauroit contenir.
Les fluides contenables, absorbés par la petite masse gélatineuse dont il vient d’être question, ne restent point sans mouvement dans ses parties, parce que les fluides subtils non contenables qui y pénètrent toujours ne le permettent pas.
Ainsi les fluides incontenables tracent d’abord les premiers traits de la plus simple organisation, et ensuite les fluides contenables, par leurs mouvemens et leurs autres influences la développent, et avec le temps et toutes les circonstances favorables la compliquent et la perfectionnent. »
Translation into English;
In such a mass of materials [gelatinous fluid mixture], the fields [les fluides subtils] are always reaching out and permeating the materials around them, constantly penetrating and dissipating at the same time, conditioning in its permeating, the disposition of the interior parts, rendering them capable of absorbing and exhaling other fluids in the surrounding environs which are capable of being retained.
These other fluids, which are water charged with dissolved gases or other substantive materials, the atmospheric air which contains water etc., I call them ‘containable fluids’ [fluides contenables] to distinguish them from the subtle fluids [Lamarck’s calls ‘fields’ les fluides subtils], such as heat flow, electrified materials etc. that no material bodies know how to contain [i.e. the fluids that contain but which cannot themselves, be contained].
The containable fluids which are absorbed by the small gelatinous mass that has just been discussed, do not stop their movement into the parts, because the field flow [les fluides subtils non contenables] which are all the while penetrating, won’t allow it.
Thus the ‘fields’ trace out the first designs of the most simple organization, and then the containable fluids, by their movements and their other influences develop it, and with time and where all the circumstances are favourable, complexify it and perfect it.”
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The choice of ‘relations-first-things-last’ opens the door to an understanding of ‘dynamics’ which does not have to split apart, as the ‘yang’ evolution theory of Darwin does, the ‘engendering of relational forms’ and the ‘behaviour of relational forms’. As with the convection cell in the continually transforming relational spatial atmosphere plenum, there is only ONE dynamic which comprehends both engenderment of relational forms and their evolution. Occam’s razor would suggest that this simpler ‘relations-first-things-last’ model should take precedence over the Darwinian ‘yang’ evolutionary model based on ‘things-first-relations-last’ which requires two different models for dynamics [one for engenderment of the form and another for the behaviour of the form] and also two different models for ‘living things’ and ‘dead things’ [organic and inorganic realms].
However, the lock-in appears, once more, to associate with the God of Grammar since after we used noun-and-verb European/scientific language-and-grammar to split the relational forms out of their relational space, and resituate them within a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-‘operating-theatre’, we leave ourselves no choice but to use inside-outward ‘yang’ energies to ‘pump up and fleshout’ the development of the ‘independently-existing thing-in-itself, formerly seen as a ‘relational form in a continually transforming relational spatial plenum.
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