REMEMBRANCE: War, Inspiration and Ego
The remembrance of war, … the tragedy, the suffering and sacrifice, the joy and celebration of re-establishing peace and harmony is, like all things, open to understanding in terms of either substance or process*, the material facts or the relational unfolding, … where ego swells the head over our victory as the good defeating evil, or where inspiration fills the heart as dissonance transforms into harmony. [* https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/process-philosophy/]
Remembrance of war brings out Culture-based differences in psychological interpretation that divide West and East — Christianity/Judaism/Islam and Western secular belief, …. from indigenous aboriginal, Taoist-Buddhist and Advaita Vedanta Eastern belief. The nature and ramifications of this difference between understanding reality by way of process versus substance in the case of ‘Remembrance’ is the topic of this note.
First of all, the basic psychological options that impact our perspectives on war and post-war healing and recovery, depend on whether we perceive ‘war’ in terms of process or substance; i.e. in terms of relational transformation or in terms of the dynamics of material beings and their actions.
A useful metaphor to explore the two very different ways in which our mind (psyche) ‘works’ to grasp the concept of war, and change in general, is the sand dune. This metaphor is useful because it illustrates how the same object of our visual observing can be understood as a process or a substance. In a ‘sand sea’, dunes are continually forming and re-forming as the wind-blown or water transported sand gathers and scatters. If we focus on a ‘particular dune’ (our intellectual focus is what defines ‘dune’ in the singular) we can observe ‘it’ as ‘it’ builds, widens and extends, diminishes, narrows and shortens. In our infancy, prior to our learning language that teaches us the self-other distinction, we would understand dunes ‘topologically’, as exemplary of the transforming relational continuum that we are included in.
We never lose our infant capability of understanding without the self-other split, it just gets ‘buried’ by the feistiness of our substance oriented language and grammar where we ‘name’ things to impute ‘persisting thing-in-itself being’ to them and conflate this with grammar that imputes the powers of sourcing actions and developments to the ‘name-instantiated thing-in-itself’. Thus we say; ‘the dune is growing larger and longer, … the dune is flattening and thinning, … the dune is, …er, .. where is that dune?
The dune can’t really be the ‘source’ of action and development as language and grammar allow, and neither can ‘humans’ really be the ‘source’ of action and development as language and grammar allow. As Schroedinger observes in ‘What is Life?’, we understand reality in terms of ‘substance’ rather than ‘process’. When I say ‘we’, I am referring to Western culture adherents because other cultures such as indigenous aboriginals, understand reality in terms of ‘process’, as where the continually shifting desert sands are the basic phenomenon, and there is a great loss where we ‘reduce’ our understanding to terms of ‘substance’ by what Nietzsche calls ‘the double error’ of language and grammar; i.e. where we name a relational form to impute persisting thing-in-itself existence to it (first error) and conflate this error with a second error by using grammar to impute the power of sourcing actions and development to the ‘thing-in-itself’ we just created through ‘naming’.
For example, our continuing observation (as contrasted with our snap-shot picturing) of the wind blown sand sea gives us the Heraclitean sense that ‘everything is in flux’. This is where our psyche collides with the realization of Lao Tzu (‘The Tao that can be told is not the true Tao’) and others, including Bohm, Wittgenstein and Nietzsche. This observation that a transforming relational continuum cannot be explicitly captured with language is Wittgenstein’s final proposition in ‘Tractatus’;
7.0 Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. –Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico Philosophicus
As we watch the waves made of sand in the windblown sand-sea and attempt to describe any particular wave, we realize that our description is in error as soon as we have put it into words since reality as continuing relational transformation is beyond the capability of understanding by way of substance, and requires us to shift to understanding by way of process.
What ‘vanishes’ in this shift from substance to process is the concept of ‘sourcing’ that comes from the ‘double error’ of language and grammar. ‘Sourcing’ or ‘sorcery’ as it is also known doesn’t happen in the reality of our actual relational experience of inclusion in the transforming relational continuum, ‘sorcery’ = the double error of language and grammar as shown by Nietzsche.
Modern physics affirms Nietzsche’s view. In fact, Nietzsche was himself versed in the prescient modern physics of Roger Boscovich (‘The Theory of Natural Philosophy’ (1758)) who has been described by modern physicists as being “200 years ahead of his time”. As in modern physics, the understanding is that ‘matter/substance is not physically real’, it is ‘appearance’ as in the case of ‘dunes’ within a transforming sand-sea. In this case, reality is characterized by inhabitant-habitat non-duality.
The point is made by Nietzsche (and others) that the concept of ‘sourcing’ or ‘sorcery’ IS A DOUBLE ERROR OF LANGUAGE AND GRAMMAR. This has major impact on our understanding of ‘conflict’; i.e. It is psychologically simpler to invoke the double error of ‘sorcery’ to explain war, as is the habit of Western culture, even though our pre-lingual intuition would have us understand war in non-double-error based terms; i.e. in terms of relational dissonance.
The understanding of the sand dune as a process rather than as a substance is available for understanding reality in general. If we separate ‘man’ out of the transforming relational continuum in the manner of the dune, then in order to have logical consistency, we have to invent ‘ingestion’ (influx) and ‘excretion’(outflux) to explain development and aging. Meanwhile, development and aging are automatically ‘taken care of’ in the case of the process view, as in the case of the dune which is NOT A THING-IN-ITSELF (that is just the implication of language [naming] and grammar [imputing power of sourcing growth as in expansion and decline]).
In other words, we can understand the human as a process within the flow-field dynamic in the same manner as the dune.
As Schroedinger says, we experience life as if we are a canvas on which things are deposited and taken away. What comes to mind is a collection of people who are sharing experiences with one another which is like mutual ‘identity sporing’, the implanting of one’s identity spores (personal experiences) on others as others are implanting theirs on us. This imagery is very similar to the imagery of the sand dune in the sea of sand dunes. Our development is tied up with the development of the collective in which we share inclusion.
If we assume ‘our own powers of sorcery’, then we run into the basic unsolvable difference in understanding ‘reality’ that manifests between conservatism and liberalism; i.e. in; ‘conservatism’ (we understand our behaviour as being sourced from our own individual interior; i.e. one bad apple spoils the barrel) while in ‘liberalism’ our individual sourcing comes from the collective we are included in (it takes a whole community to raise a [good/bad] child).
However, there is no ‘sorcery’ in the modern physics understanding of reality, there is only the transforming relational continuum. ‘Sorcery’ is not ‘real’, it is a double error of language and grammar. In other words, ‘sorcery’ is a Western culture psychological (mis-)conception. The fact is that ‘sorcery’ is not real [it is a ‘double error’]. The flow feature in the flow is the continuously transforming flow, and NOT a ‘thing-in-itself’ with the power of authoring ‘its own’ actions and developments.
That’s the reason for the ‘surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’ of modern physics and the ‘sharing circle’ of indigenous aboriginals and the expression ‘The Tao that can be told is not the true Tao’ of Taoism/Buddhism, and the indigenous aboriginal expression ‘mitakuye oyasin’ (we are all related, or ‘relations are all there is’).
The sand dune is a relational process and is not a substance aka ‘thing-in-itself’.
That is the ‘general case for reality and it applies for ‘humans’, ‘nations’, ‘corporations’ and all manner of name-instantiated things-in-themselves, whether ‘organic’ (humans) or ‘inorganic’ (sand dunes).
Of course, our Western culture language usage is based on ‘the double error’ (sorcery) so that we INVENT REALITY based on notional thing-in-themselves entities with powers of sourcing actions and developments (the double error). If we place measuring sticks in the sand dune and observe the dune by taking lapse photographs, we can measure its development and growth, just as we can measure the development and growth of our children. At this point, we are pretty much psychologically committed to the notion of a name-instantiated thing-in-itself with its own powers of sourcing action and development. That is, we will have the basis for talking about ‘growth’ and ‘development’ as if this is the property of the name-instantiated thing-in-itself with its notional powers of sourcing actions and development; e.g. if I say ‘the dune is growing larger and longer’, you know what I mean, … OR DO YOU?
If my understanding is in ‘process’ mode rather than ‘substance’ mode, I am understanding it as a resonance feature within the sand waves, and as a resonance feature, its development is inherently NON-LOCAL; i.e. it has no local power of sorcery as implied by ‘the dune is growing larger and longer’.
In the first place, there is no substantial thing as the name ‘dune’ seems to imply since ‘everything is in flux’ as Heraclitus affirms. In the second place, not only is there no substantial thing, there is no local power of sorcery as grammar attributes to the notional (name-instantiated) local thing.
If your rational mind is getting fatigued and you want to get out of this process based philosophical sophistry and return to the familiar intellectual refuge of the substance-based thinking, that is understandable. But take note that getting to process based understanding of reality by way of language and grammar is the hard way to get there, while intuition is immediate but intuition is not articulable in language and grammar, and that is what is putting our intellectual intelligence in a bind. As Lao Tzu observed, the Tao that can be told is not the true Tao; i.e. how can you articulate your inclusion in the transforming relational continuum in substance based terms? You can’t. If you are committed to trying to do so using substance based (thing-based) language, you have to ‘sneak up on it’ as with ‘The surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’.
Intuition works, but it is not articulable and in Western society, we like to ‘call a spade a spade’ and anything that doesn’t fit that pistol is discarded as nonsense. Wittgenstein, on the other hand, is of the opinion that ‘the surface of truth’ must be approach from the direction of “that which is obviously not true, moving in the direction of that which is not so obviously not true” which pretty much describes the ‘Surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’.
With that background in place; i.e. in having established that what we can explicitly talk about is an INVENTED REALITY based on the double error that implies ‘sorcery’, … we can address ‘war and peace’.
In a relational reality, there is no ‘sorcery’, therefore we cannot assume that some faction is causally responsible for a war; instead war is a process; it is relational dissonance. To say that war is caused (sourced) by an identifiable agency is ‘the double error’ of language and grammar. There is no such thing as sorcery or sorcerer. War is dissonance and dissonance is inherently relational. Where we want to be is in harmony and while harmony is not something an individual can ‘source’, we can co-cultivate it, as we do by the manner we move, relatively, in the flow of heavy traffic, our movements serving to co-create opening through which others can keep smoothly (harmoniously) moving. Harmony can only be co-cultivated as it is purely relational. As individuals we do not have the power to ‘source’ harmony, and, in fact, if we are in ‘sourcing’ mode, we can be sure that we are sourcing dissonance, just as when we aggressively push our way through the traffic and by so doing, transforming relational harmony into dissonance.
Finally, was there a ‘source’ to WWII? Was Hitler or Germany the source of WWII? (“Does the man make the times or do the times make the man?). What does the reality of process rather than the reality of substance say about this? What Bohm observes in the case of aggression is not in terms of ‘material substance’ but in terms of process, as follows;
“In the book ‘Causality and Chance in Modern Physics’ Bohm argued that the way science viewed causality was also much too limited. Most effects were thought of as having only one or several causes. However, Bohm felt that an effect could have an infinite number of causes. For example, if you asked someone what caused Abraham Lincoln’s death, they might answer that it was the bullet in John Wilkes Booth’s gun. But a complete list of all the causes that contributed to Lincoln’s death would have to include all of the events that led to the development of the gun, all of the factors that caused Booth to want to kill Lincoln, all of the steps in the evolution of the human race that allowed for the development of a hand capable of holding a gun, and so on, and so on. Bohm conceded that most of the time one could ignore the vast cascade of causes that had led to any given effect, but he still felt it was important for scientists to remember that no single cause-and-effect relationship was ever really separate from the universe as a whole.” –The Holographic Universe: The Revolutionary Theory of Reality: Michael Talbot:
How, then, should we understand ‘war’? Should we understand it in the double error terms of substance (sorcery), or should we understand it in terms of relational process as Bohm suggests?
Here we have to grapple with the issue termed, in nonlinear physics, ‘lock-in by high switching costs’. The Western culture tradition of INVENTING REALITY based on the ‘double error’ (sorcery) is locked in as standard Western culture practice by ‘high switching costs’. The concept of ‘sorcery’ (the ‘double error’ of language and grammar) serves as the basis for rewards and punishments in Western culture societies. The double error underpins the WESTERN CULTURE belief in ‘humans’, ‘nations’, ‘corporations’ as name-instantiated things-in-themselves with powers of sourcing actions and developments. This Western culture abstract psychological belief in the double error (name-instantiated things with powers of sorcery) underpins the cultural belief and practice of ‘rewarding’ and ‘punishing’. The social hierarchy of Western culture is based on this double error belief in sorcery. The policies of Western culture governance are based on belief in the double error reality (sorcery). That is, there is ‘lock-in’ due to the fact that those given most authority over changes to Western culture modes of perceiving and articulating ‘reality’ are those seen as high achievers in the sourcing of beneficial actions and developments.
There is a clash of interests here in that what needs to happen for Western culture to ‘break out of its dysfunctional’ belief in ‘sorcery’ (the ‘double error’) lies largely in the control of those who accrue power and influence on the basis of their perceived powers of ‘sorcery’. The decision for acting on the needed ‘debunking’ of the double error of ‘sorcery’, is most heavily influenced by those who are recognized as the ‘superior performers’ in terms of ‘sorcery’. While the prophecy may be that ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’, at this point, the decision-makers are the big-egos who are convinced of their own powers of sorcery.
So long as the Western culture collective continues to believe in their own powers of sorcery, so will they continue to cast blame upon others for their ‘negative sorcery’. Logical consistency demands it and thus Western culture has developed this aberrant system of ‘sorcery’-based ‘rewards and punishments’. As Nietzsche has pointed out, ego lies at the base of this crazy-making lock-in.
“In its origin language belongs in the age of the most rudimentary form of psychology. We enter a realm of crude fetishism when we summon before consciousness the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of language, in plain talk, the presuppositions of reason. Everywhere it sees a doer and doing; it believes in will as the cause; it believes in the ego, in the ego as being, in the ego as substance, and it projects this faith in the ego-substance upon all things — only thereby does it first create the concept of “thing.” Everywhere “being” is projected by thought, pushed underneath, as the cause; the concept of being follows, and is a derivative of, the concept of ego. In the beginning there is that great calamity of an error that the will is something which is effective, that will is a faculty. Today we know that it is only a word.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’
The final intellectual insult to our intuition is the concept of ‘forgiveness’. ‘Forgiveness’ is a sweet and devious (backhanded) way of affirming ‘sorcery’ of a negative action or development, whether or not it is sincerely offered by ‘believers’ in double error based INVENTED REALITY.
There is no authorship (sorcery) in the reality of our inclusion in the transforming relational continuum. It is a double error of language and grammar;
The Germans ‘didn’t source it’ (WWII). We can use language and grammar to cast them as the sorcerers of evil actions, but ‘they’ are not to blame because they cannot be ‘singled out’ within the world of our relational experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum. “Listening not to me but to the relational flow” … it is wise to consider that all things are one” , … we are all co-responsibles as Heralitus observed as is echoed in (mitakuye oyasin), an acknowledgement of our common inclusion within the transforming relational continuum. There is no such thing as ‘sorcery’; it is the double error of language and grammar. Bohm’s reasoning re Lincoln’s assassination makes intuitive sense. It exemplifies the process based understanding of reality.
Our linguistic self-deception can be subtle; e.g. ‘forgiveness’ is not a viable concept since ‘responsibility-for-sourcing destructive actions’ as is implied by ‘forgiveness’ simply concretizes the aberrant notion of ‘sorcery’. By contrast, inspiration wherein we give ourselves to the re-cultivating of relational harmony fills the heart does not imply ‘sorcery’. Ego that swells the head and has us celebrate ourselves as humans, and nations,… for our sourcing of actions and developments in defeating the enemy, is part of the double error aberrance.
‘Remembrance’ would seem most appropriate in the sense of remembering how dissonance can build within a relational social collective and how one’s actions can contribute to (re-) cultivating harmony. On the other hand, the pride of ‘having risen to the occasion’ to ‘defeat the enemy’ is aberrant, double error based (sorcery-based) thinking that psychologically ‘divides the undivided self’. The truth of war is, that we have met the enemy and it is us. We all have a hand in cultivating dissonance/harmony so that scapegoating and hero-promoting based on the double error (sorcery) is ego-based obscurantism. Remembrance can meanwhile stir our awareness of ‘mitakuye oyasin’ — ‘we are all related’,—and how inspiration that fills the heart can transform dissonance into harmony, a process that has no need of being reduced to structure as in the abstraction of the prevailing of ‘good’ over ‘evil’.
REFLECTIONS ON WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN ABOVE:
The distinction between reality based on ‘process‘ versus ‘structure’ is an important distinction. In psychology (Keirsey-Bates) it is the distinction between ‘perception’ and ‘judgement’ eg; between preferences such as (INFP and ESTJ). In Western culture, there is the concept of the ‘age of maturity’ at which point the developing child is expected to shift from ‘process’ to ‘structure’; i.e. from ambiguous relational inspirations to explicit determinations that support concrete actions. Not all cultures demand this ‘flip’ in configuring of ‘reality’ from the implicit/relational intuition of ‘process’ to the explicit/fixed knowledge of ‘structure’; i.e. the alternative is described by Erich Jantsch in ‘Design for Evolution’ where the implicit (process) remains primary and is supported by the explicit (structure). While the implicit can be supported by the explicit, the explicit cannot be supported by implicit.
There is a problem here in that language is built with ‘explicits’; .. ‘words that ‘name’ that impute persisting existence to the inherently fluid forms of sensory experience that language concretizes by naming. Because of this ‘limitation of language’, tactics have arisen such as the ‘sharing circle’ of indigenous aboriginals and the ‘surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’ where ancillary tactics are employed that facilitate the development of ‘relational’ understanding as in ‘process’ based reality. The ‘dune’ can remain a ‘process’ and avoid being ‘concretized’ as a ‘structure’ by language and grammar. As Zen philosophers such as Alan Watts have pointed out, and also modern physics pioneer David Bohm (with his suggestion of ‘rheomode’ language), we need a language that can convey understanding of a reality wherein ‘everything is in flux); i.e. an understanding of reality as a process. The ‘dune’ would more aptly be termed ‘the duning’ to preserve its inherent ‘process’ based reality.
Western culture does not have a language that connotes the fluid process basis of reality and thus Western culture language educes fluid process to fixed material ‘structures’ which must then be re-animated with grammar [this is the ‘double error’ pointed out by Nietzsche]. Indigenous aboriginal language-and-grammar is designed so as to preserve the fluid basis of reality; e.g. ‘dances with wolves’ is a name suggestive of a relational dynamic or ‘process’ [reflect on ‘dune’ as either structure or process; i.e. it is a process in natural relational reality but language can reduce it to structure by ‘naming’ it]. In the same fashion, the Western culture naming convention that comes up with ‘John Dunbar’ imputes persisting thing-in-itself ‘structure’ to the ‘process’ (the developing of form within flow).
While Western culture ‘allows us’ as children, some leeway in our behaviour up until the ‘age of maturity’ when we become fully responsible for our own actions, this tradition in itself carries within it, the ‘double error’ based ‘sorcery’ assumption. It is a kind of ‘declation of independent being’ akin to laying the magic sword of Excalibur on a common man’s shoulder, mumbling some magic chant culminating in ‘Arise Sir Lanceleot’, in keeping with the psychological impression that ‘naming’ has the power of conferring ‘being’.
As in the Bible, this ‘naming’ comes with the ‘burden of concreteness where the named individual, being split out on his own as an ‘independently-existing thing-in-himself’ that grammar gives ‘his own powers of sourcing actions and development, must now ‘work for a living’! That is, he is no longer a process within the flow, he is an independent structure that must ‘provide for himself’. This burden of concreteness is said, within the writings of the Bible, to be a kind of ‘curse’ on man originating from the devil’s influence on Adam and Eve, which had them partaking of ‘forbidden fruit’, banishing them from their inclusion in the flow (paradise) and obliging them to accept a new reality based on belief in ‘the double error’. By analogy, the ‘dune’ becomes the subject and source of its own actions and developments; ‘it’ grows larger and longer and ‘it’ undergoes dissipation and aging. ‘It’ inherits the ‘burden of concreteness’ in its language and grammar based move from ‘process’ to ‘structure‘.
Western culture has opted to put ‘structure’ based reality into an unnatural precedence over ‘process’ based reality.
The background to this is the difficulty (impossibility) of capturing the reality of our innately relational experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum in language, since words do not themselves change but keep broadcasting the same content over and over again. The word ‘dune’ signifies ‘a structure’ that ‘just is’ and does not ‘become’ yet our experience is that ‘duning’ is a process and it is our intellect in cohorts with our vision that ‘reduces’ process to structure incurring in this reductive process ‘the burden of concreteness’;
“In the writing of Heraclitus, to a larger degree than ever before, the images do not impose their burden of concreteness but are entirely subservient to the achievement of clarity and precision.” –(The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, Henri Frankfort et al)
This burden of concreteness associates with the reduction of ‘process’ to ‘structure’ wherein we must invent a ‘Deus ex machina’ to ‘synthetically re-animate’ the structure (e.g. the ‘dune’) that has been stripped of its naturally innate flow-based self-other undivideness. This ‘Deus-ex-machina’ is otherwise known as ‘sorcery’ and it is intellectually ‘created’ with the ‘double error’ of language and grammar.
As a result of this reduction of ‘process’ to ‘structure’, we are left with ‘static imagery’ based on name-instantiated things-in-themselves’ that it becomes our task as authors of this reduction, to compensate for. Thus, as the dune transforms as relational forms in the transforming relational continuum are wont to do, having objectified the ‘duning’, we inherit the burden of using language and grammar to ‘re-animate’ what we have ‘de-animated’ in order to appease the intellect’s demand for some logical explanation of ‘change’ and ‘how it comes about’. This is the price we have to pay for the reduction of ‘process’ to ‘structure’ i.e. the reduction of ‘duning’ and all the atmospheric, gravitational and celestial dynamic entailed therein which are as extensive as the transforming relational continuum.
In other words, reducing process to structure comes with a heavy burden, the burden of re-establishing the ‘completeness’ that our reductionist ‘double error’ is imposing on us (i.e the double error of naming to impute thing-in-itself being, conflated with grammar to impute the power of sourcing actions and developments to the name-instantiated thing-in-itself). In other words, by shifting from ‘process’ to structure’, we force ourselves to invent ‘sourcing agency’ to re-animate the passive structure such as ‘the dune’, formerly understood as the ‘duning process’ that we have reduced with language to ‘dune’ to a local ‘thing-in-itself’ structure, the changes to which, we, the author of this reduction from process to structure, must personally explain, which is the ‘burden of concreteness’ that we have imposed on ourselves by way of our first error (reduction to concreteness) by follow-up with a second compensating error (grammatical re-animating of the process we reduced to concrete structure). The grammatical animating of the concrete structures serves Western culture adherents as their operative, surrogate INVENTED REALITY.
Nietzsche uses the example PROCESS of incandescent electrical flow that we reduce to a local thing-in-itself STRUCTURE we name ‘lightning’, which forces us into ‘double error’ cognitive fix-up mode which Nietzsche describes as follows;
In a nutshell, ‘process’ is the relational reality we experience while ‘structure’ is explicit intellectual abstraction that leads us into the ‘double error’ based INVENTED REALITY that is the source of an aberrant Western culture ‘normality’
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