The Conscious [personal] and the Unconscious [collective]
Part I Graphical Aids for Exploring the Relation of Conscious [personal] to Unconscious [collective]
The first part of this essay consists of a suite of ‘thought experiments’ supported by graphical ‘thinking-tools’, to ‘set the stage’ for an integrating discussion as to the nature and origins of ‘the conscious’ [personal] and ‘the unconscious’ [collective]. Part II is a written discussion based on dialogue and reflections on how we come to our view of world and self and the relation between two [or, alternatively, how we distinguish the conjugate aspects of ‘self/inhabitant’ and other/habitat’ from the unidynamical world we are included in].
The basic suggestion is that as infants, we have access to an unpartitioned world of transforming spatial-relations; the physical reality of our unconditioned experience. But as we grow up, we partition the world into local, closed geometric forms or ‘things-in-themselves’ that we ‘know’, and thus we gradually build a ‘known world’ of ‘things-in-themselves’ and a view of the world dynamic in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ and superimpose it OVER TOP of our infant-accessed world of continual spatial-relational transformation [a world of undifferentiated ‘self’ and ‘other’]. Our aware ‘conscious’ attaches to our knowledgeable, language-supported ‘what things-in-themselves do’ mode of understanding while our original newborn access to the thingless-connectedness of continuing spatial-relational transformation falls away out of our aware ‘conscious’ and into ‘unconsciousness’. ‘The unconscious’, being purely relational and associated with our ‘undifferentiated self’ is a ‘collective unconscious’ while our personal knowledge-based awareness is ‘conscious’ that is personal. Insofar as we develop a ‘knowledge of self’, early on, we allow self-other conflict to be the fuel of its transformation/evolution. However, as we spend more time reflecting on who we are and getting to know our ‘self’ better and better, we are exposed to a narcissism wherein we try to hold ‘our self’ constant in the face of self-other conflict [the natural fuel of relational transformation] and then to force ‘others’ to be reciprocally (mis)shaped by the one-way broadcasting of our now rigidly fixed persona.
That is, we encounter problems in our ability to ‘hold back our knowing’, after we have learned so many things, and return to our undifferentiated self’s access to the common transforming relational space we share inclusion in.
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
– – – Lao Tzu
For example, once we learn how to differentiate things, we start seeing conflict where there was only harmony; i.e. the conflict was the source of the harmony by way of relational transformation. Conflict elicits transformation that restores harmony.
“They do not understand that what conflicts with itself agrees with itself: there is a harmonia of opposite tensions, as in the bow and lyre.” —Heraclitus
In the absence of any fixed reference points or reference frames, dynamics become purely relational or topological and the concept of ‘being’ or ‘local existence’ is unable to precipitate from the flow. The ‘boundaries’ that delineate ‘local beings’ are formed from absolute points that cannot exist without an absolute reference frame, implicit or explicit, to give them their absolute sense of ‘location’, as in an ‘x,y,z coordinate’ which implies a reference frame composed of three orthogonal ‘directions’, an absolute three dimensional space of infinite extent.
The object of this first sequence of graphics is to illustrate how ‘our minds’ make the leap from the purely relational ‘becoming’ to absolute ‘being’.
Graphic 1. — the relationally transforming lithosphere.
The main point to note is that the transforming sphere is a purely relational dynamic. We could imagine that it is included within a transforming universe or ‘celestial dynamic’ in the manner of a ‘whorl-in-the-flow’.
We are going to go [mentally] from here to ‘continental drift’ [plate tectonics] and the next step we will take is to notionally add a layer of water over top of this transforming earth-lithosphere.
The combination of transforming lithosphere and transforming hydrosphere is a combination as in a lava lamp; i.e. it consists of two immiscible fluids participating in one dynamic. That is, the fluids are distinct and separate but not their dynamics. Like wind and flag, the dynamics of the fluid lithosphere and the dynamics of the oceanic fluid are in simultaneous conjugate relation.
In the case of the lithosphere, oceanosphere combination, however, the portions the transforming lithosphere that rise up through the oceanosphere appear to be closed forms or ‘island-continents’. This is where ‘geometry’ comes in as we can use geometric closed forms to impute ‘local being’ to the island continents. If the thickness of the oceanosphere goes to zero, all we see is the lithosphere and there is just one continent, ‘the lithosphere’. If the oceanosphere is very thick, we get the world-in-a-drop-of-water effect. For an oceanosphere thickness that is in the middle , we get a plurality of closed geometric forms or ‘island-continents’ which appear to move as the lithosphere transforms. The convecting currents in the lithosphere give rise to the ‘appearance’ that some continents are moving away from one another and some continents are moving towards one another.
It is important to remember that these closed geometric forms we are calling continents are not ‘real things’ [the real physical dynamic is the relationally transforming lithosphere], they are the products of how we mentally process our observations and/or pictorial thoughts.
What is a unidynamic [the transforming relational space of the lithosphere] is converted in our mind, to the dynamics of a plurality of notional local entities that move and interact within a notional absolute, fixed empty and infinite space. That is, the points and lines of the geometric closed forms depend for their ‘existence’ on an absolute fixed, empty and infinite absolute space reference frame, and their movement in time implies an absolute time frame.
This ‘conversion’ from the topological [spatial-relational] to the mainstream science depiction of dynamics in terms of ‘what-things-in-themselves-do’ is ‘psychological’ and is based on ‘visual appearances’.
As we look at the movement of the closed geometric form island-continents and see them separating and colliding, our thoughts are in the mainstream scientific/rational realm of ‘what-things-in-themselves do’. This is the common realm of the ‘knowledge of things’, which this essay will associate with ‘the conscious’ [personal]. What has ‘gone missing’ in this view in terms of a plurality of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these things are doing’ is the ‘unidynamic’ of the transforming relational space. This ‘unidynamic’ of ‘thingless-connectedness’, we are losing sight of, or rather ‘losing conscious awareness of’, and for this reason, it will be herein terms ‘the unconscious’.
Heraclitus’ following thought takes on evident meaning here;
“They do not understand that what conflicts with itself agrees with itself: there is a harmonia of opposite tensions, as in the bow and lyre.”
“combinations: wholes and not wholes, being like and being different, in tune and out of tune, and from all things one, and from one all things.”
“Unseen harmonia is stronger / better than seen.”
Johannes Kepler makes the same point in ‘Harmonies of the World’ (1619) in regard to celestial dynamics, that although we see things by ‘appearances’ in terms of ‘what a plurality of things-in-themselves do’, a ‘harmony-of-the-whole’ is implicit.
“Now, the ‘harmony-of-the-whole of all the planets contributes more to the perfection of the world than the single harmonies by twos and the pairs of harmonies by the twos of neighbouring planets. For harmony is, so to speak, a volume of unification. A deeper unity yet is presented, when all the planets form a harmony with each another, as when just two at a time harmonize in a bivalent manner. In the interference of these harmonies deriving from the dual harmonic line-ups, which the pairs of planets form with each another, the one or the other must give way (yield), so that the harmony-of-the- whole can prevail.” — Johannes Kepler, Harmonies of the World
The point to be made here is that our visual observation is incomplete and we tend to use ‘geometry’ rather than pure spatial-relational [topology] to mentally construct ‘representations’ in terms of local ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things do’. This gives us ‘knowledge’ in these ‘solid terms’ of ‘what things-in-themselves do’. But as Heraclitus says; ‘the knowledge of many things does not teach understanding’, and our intuition is suggesting an underlying ‘unidynamic’ or underlying ‘harmony’ that makes sense of all the opposition and collision we see in the world.
That is, the ‘drifting continents’ are something we can talk about in a solid fashion. They are the topics of our conscious awareness.
The implied ‘thingless connectedness’ that underlies and implies continual resolution of the apparent plurality and conflict/opposition, lies below our conscious awareness; i.e. in our ‘unconscious’.
Language plays an important role in bringing the foreground figures out of the dynamic ground and burning them into our conscious awareness by naming and defining them so that they become automatically recognizable to us. As John Stuart Mill observed;
“every definition implies an axiom, that in which we affirm the existence of the object defined.”
We can imagine that, as a child growing up, each new word we learn to ‘float’ a new local object, the thingless-connectedness of the purely spatial-relational sinks deeper into ‘the unconscious’, and the more convincing becomes the discreteness of ‘being’ of apparently local forms, and more seriously or ‘absolutely’ is ‘collision/conflict’ and ‘abandonment/separation’ taken.
What comes to mind here is the aboriginal view of justice which sees ‘conflict’ NOT in the absolute judgemental terms of ‘offender-victim’, but instead in the relational terms wherein ‘the community is conflicted’ and where the result to restore balance and harmony in the community dynamic. Absolute judgements in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ is suspended since the transforming relational space of community is seen as the deeper source of the conflict, and not the ‘individual-as-thing-in-itself’; i.e. the child soldier who murders people in his village is not the jumpstart animative sourcing of his murderous behaviour, the continually transforming relational space he is included in is the deeper sourcing.
It is therefore IN RELATIONAL TRANSFORMATION that the conflict will be resolved, rather than in purificationist elimination of those judged to be offenders that are creating victims.
We are not ‘islands unto ourselves’ but instead each one of us is in the service of transformation of the relational web we share inclusion in. Our conflicts with others is necessary experience essential for us to participate in the continuing transformation of the world and the society of humans that resides within it. Humans are like the continents in this respect, ‘apparitions’ that appear to exist locally and independently but which are forms we are conscious of, rising up and out of the ground of the ‘unconscious’ [the purely relational continuum].
What we are ‘conscious’ of, is our personal perspective. For example, if everyone around us grows weak and accommodating relative to us, we grow relatively strong and we expand into the space that opens up around us. This is purely relative so that we can never split out and measure how much of our gaining of size and strength is ours and how much is due to the accommodating reception of those around us. Nevertheless, we like to give causal attribution to ourselves for gains and losses that we realize.
In the following graphic, we speak of ‘Poland’ as a ‘thing-in-itself’ when it is instead the confluence of many influences at the same time; i.e. a discrete self-other separation is impossible;
Poland as a ‘thing-in-itself’ or relational confluence?
We associate the word ‘Poland’ with a geometric form and we speak about ‘Poland’s changing boundaries’ even though the other states on the ‘other side’ of the boundaries are co-determining the boundary changes. In fact, in ’tiling’ the space on the surface of a sphere, every tile is simultaneously pushing on every other tile. How then can we attribute the changing shape of that which arises out of this global confluence of tensions, to the authorial powers of the notional local entity inside of the boundaries? How can we say that ‘Poland’s borders are changing’?
We can say and think what we want, but in this case, we are losing the global connectedness of the dynamic that we are describing, as we reduce the dynamic to the notion of ‘what a thing-in-itself does’.
In other words, if we think of our self in the same sense as we think of Poland, as the author of our own ‘thing-in-our-self’ dynamics, we lose our sense of global connectedness.
The conflict that we feel, included as we are within a relational web of influence, is what makes us a force for transformation, of ourselves and others. Relational conflict is the fuel of transformation. To hold on to our personal identity and to try to impose it on the world would make conflict the source of dissonance and destruction rather than the fuel of relational transformation.
In this view of ‘Poland’s changing borders we can see this general alternative for viewing development and behaviour; (a) in our standard terms of some thing-in-itself with its own locally originating, internal constituents and processes driven behaviour, and (b), as a relational feature that emerges within a transforming web of spatial-relations. The same choices present themselves for a storm-cell in the relational flow of the atmosphere. In the (a) sense of self mode, narcissism that freezes the sense of self could be compared to monotheism which does not ‘negotiate’ but expects all to yield to its instructions.
The view in (b) is common to all participants and corresponds with physical reality, while the view in (a) is the personal view and is ‘idealization’ [it is the notional ‘figure’ that has come seemingly ‘come alive’ as if its development and behaviour arises in itself]. As Mach says;
“That which is given to all in common we call the ‘physical’; that which is directly given only to one we call the ‘psychical’. That which is given only to one can also be called the ‘ego’ [ich].” – Ernst Mach, ‘The Guiding Principles of My Scientific Theory of Knowledge’
As Emerson says in ‘The Method of Nature’, Nature’s agency and thus our agency is ‘continuing transformation’;
Nature can only be conceived as existing to a universal and not to a particular end, to a universe of ends, and not to one, — a work of _ecstasy_, to be represented by a circular movement, as intention might be signified by a straight line of definite length. Each effect strengthens every other. There is no revolt in all the kingdoms from the commonweal: no detachment of an individual. Hence the catholic character which makes every leaf an exponent of the world. When we behold the landscape in a poetic spirit, we do not reckon individuals. Nature knows neither palm nor oak, but only vegetable life, which sprouts into forests, and festoons the globe with a garland of grasses and vines. That no single end may be selected, and nature judged thereby, appears from this, that if man himself be considered as the end, and it be assumed that the final cause of the world is to make holy or wise or beautiful men, we see that it has not succeeded.
Whilst a necessity so great caused the man to exist, his health and erectness consist in the fidelity with which he transmits influences from the vast and universal to the point on which his genius can act. The ends are momentary: they are vents for the current of inward life which increases as it is spent. A man’s wisdom is to know that all ends are momentary, that the best end must be superseded by a better. But there is a mischievous tendency in him to transfer his thought from the life to the ends, to quit his agency and rest in his acts: the tools run away with the workman, the human with the divine.
Part I Summary;
Our visual observing and our language orient to explicitly knowable closed forms. The more we know and name and define, the more our sense of ‘dynamics’ shifts to these ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these things-in-themselves do’, … and the deeper that the purely spatial-relational or topological sinks beneath the surface of our geometro-dynamical conscious awareness.
Since our personal perspective inverts the direction of our own growth and presents it in an inside-outward driven fashion, we lose our awareness of our inclusion in a common relational web-of-life and imagine instead that we are moving on our own private trajectory relative to some absolute reference frame.
” One must follow what is common; but although the logos is common most people live as if they had a private understanding of their own.” – Heraclitus
Part II: The Conscious [personal] and the Unconscious [collective]
Continuing dialogues and reflections bring me to the following understandings as to how people in our globally dominating ‘Western’ culture ‘commonly think’ about self-and-world in a ‘over-simplified’ way, along with some ideas on how they/we ‘get stuck’ inside a worldview based on ‘appearances’ [subjective perspectives] that are confused for ‘physical reality’. What is implied in this distinction between the world of ‘appearances’ and the world of ‘physical experience’ is the relation between ‘conscious’ [personal] and ‘the unconscious’ [collective].
Language, topology and geometry.
This topic was researched and written up rather well by Henri Poincaré , but I haven’t found many people who have explored-and-reflected on his findings vis a vis the issues that are arising in our global social dynamic.
What he said was that we build ‘language games’ based on absolute space and absolute time measures and geometric closed forms [invariable solids of geometry], that are a kind of stand-in for our observations/experiencing of the continuous relationally transforming world we live in. As ‘realists’ we equate the geometric worldview [falsely] to ‘reality’. As ‘pragmatist-idealists’ we accept the utility of the geometric worldview but keep in mind that it is ‘idealization’ that should not be confused for ‘physical reality’. Our predicament is that in our globally dominant Western cultural mode, we have been ‘institutionalizing’ the ‘realist’ view.
1. From topology to geometry.
For example, geology informs us that the earth behaves as a fluid sphere or spherical fluid, where lithic material is continually inwelling towards the interior of the sphere [subduction] at the same time as it is outwelling towards the exterior of the sphere [extrusion]. The net effect is that the sphere as a whole is ‘relationally transforming’. A relational view such as this is a ‘topological’ view which ‘trumps’ a ‘geometrical’ view since it does not depend on any of the ‘invariable solids’ of geometry.
The way we mentally handle visual observations now comes into play here since, if we add a layer of ocean water that obscures the lower regions of the transforming lithic sphere, we can then only ‘see’ the emergent portions of the lithosphere which have, in our lifetimes, persisting geometric forms that we define as ‘continents’. We would only SEE ‘one continent’ if there were no ocean waters at all, and if there were be no continents [only hydrosphere] if there was sufficient ocean waters to cover the highest points on the lithosphere. The ocean waters level determines the number and shape of the continents.
Our reasoning acknowledges that if the ocean waters were not obscuring our view, we would see the dynamic unity of ONE spatial-relationally transforming fluid lithosphere. On the other hand, once we mentally ‘fit’ geometric forms to the visible plurality of continents, we interpret this same dynamic in terms of the ‘movement of continents’ [‘continental drift’ or ‘plate tectonics’].
So, while we acknowledge that the real, physical dynamic is in terms of transforming spatial relations, we have this ‘other option’ of representing this motion to ourselves in terms of the movement of fixed geometric forms or, in other words, in terms of ‘what things do’.
Conclusion # 1. We can reduce ‘relational-spatial’ dynamics to ‘geometric form based dynamics’ [as when we reduce the relational transforming of the lithosphere to the ‘drifting of continents’]. Our CONSCIOUS awareness orients to ‘the movement of things’ [geometric forms] while we let go of our consciousness of the relationally transforming ‘unidynamic’ and thus we could say that our view of dynamics in terms of ‘thingless-connectedness’ sublimates into our UNCONSCIOUS. In other words, we let go of our consciousness as to how the foreground FIGURES are included in the GROUND and go with a reduced consciousness oriented to the FIGURES as NOTIONAL things-in-themselves, NOTIONALLY with ‘their own dynamics’.
The relationship between the conscious and unconscious as given here favours Wolfgang Pauli’s view over C.G. Jung’s. i.e;
“Another important issue was the nature of the relationship between conscious and unconscious. Should they be regarded as mutually exclusive and complementary units, or should consciousness be regarded as a borderline area adjoining the unconscious? Pauli preferred the first alternative. A big concern to Pauli was Jung’s tendency to ascribe to the unconscious a sort of consciousness of its own and an almost deterministic developmental ‘program’ that runs its course irrespective of consciousness.” — Suzanne Gieser, ‘The Innermost Kernel: Depth Psychology and Quantum Physics. Wolfgang Pauli’s Dialogue with C.G. Jung’
That is, the topological [spatial relational] and geometric [thing-in-itself based] views are two different ways of looking at the same thing which are complementary. In other words, as Schroedinger [author of quantum wave dynamics] argued with Bohr and others, the ‘wave’ view is in a natural primacy over the ‘particle’ view; they are not peer-alternatives but complementary alternatives.
And as Nietzsche argues, the particle-based representation is ‘total Fiktion’ although a useful Fiktion;
“Continual transition does not allow us to speak of “individuals,” etc; the “number” of beings is itself in flux. We would say nothing of time and know nothing of motion if we did not, in a coarse fashion, believe we see stationary forms beside transitory flow. The same applies to cause and effect, and without the erroneous conception of “empty space” we should certainly not have acquired the conception of space. The principle of identity has behind it the “appearance” that it refers to the same things. A world in a state of becoming could not, in a strict sense, be “comprehended” or “known”; only to the extent that the “comprehending” and “knowing” intellect encounters a coarse, already-created world, fabricated out of nothing but appearances but become firm to the extent that this kind of appearance has preserved life–only to this extent is there anything like “knowledge”; i. e., a matching of earlier and more recent errors with one another.” – Nietzsche, Will to Power, 520 (1885)
Nietzsche’s preservation of the conjugate relation of figure with ground is consistent with Mach’s principle of the conjugate relation of space and matter;
“The dynamics of the inhabitants [figures] are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat [ground] at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat [ground] are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants [figures].
[N.B. -‘thingless-connectedness’ is implied when we do printer-plots of images; i.e. it doesn’t matter if we use asterisks, periods, letter ‘o’s or whatever, for the basic things we fashion the forms in the images from, the spatial-relations are the over-riding influence in determining the shape of the forms].
2. From geometry to language.
Our language [and European languages in general] have a noun-verb grammatical architecture that lends itself to understanding dynamics in terms of ‘things’ [geometric forms] and ‘what things do’ [cause-effect dynamics]. When there is continuous aggregating and dispersing within a fluid flow, the quasi-persisting geometric form of ‘an aggregation’ encourages us to impute ‘thing-in-itselfness’ to them. For example, a crowd may persist for some hours at a particular location within an exhibition ground as people are continually moving on in to view an exhibit and at the same time moving on out to see other exhibits. Visually, if we ‘don’t look’ at the individuals that constitute the pattern, we see the ‘crowd’ as an ‘interference feature’ within the flow of people [could be trans-generational even]. But if we ‘look’ at the movement of the individuals as ‘things-in-themselves’ as they head in and like a collection of atoms, materially ‘construct’ the crowd, we see the crowd as a ‘thing-in-itself’.
This is very close to the paradoxical, classic ‘quantum behaviour’ experiment where electrons are sent through two closely spaced slits and strike a target screen. The pattern on the target screen is physically different depending on whether ‘we look’ at which electrons in the flow go through which slit, or ‘we don’t look’ and merely examine what sort of pattern the flow of electrons makes on the target screen. In this case, the pattern on the screen that associates with the ‘don’t look’ option includes the ‘interference effects’ [wave interference view] while the pattern on the screen that associates with the ‘look’ option reflects a barrage of particles hitting the target screen and does not manifest ‘interference effects’ [particle collision view].
This threatens to confound the mind, but we can see it also in the ‘systems sciences’ view of Russell Ackoff in his example of a university, which we can view either as a ‘local system in itself’ or as a resonance feature within the nonlocal suprasystem of the community dynamic that it is included in. As he points out, in-and-back-out-again analytical inquiry is what gives us an understanding in terms of the university as a system in itself whose development and behaviour derives from its internal components and processes. But the physical reality is the overall ‘suprasystem dynamic’ in which the university is an included ‘subsystem’ and ‘out-and-back-in-again’ ‘synthetical inquiry’ provides the larger context to ‘ground’ our analytical view of the university as a local system in. Now, if we look at the particular identities of the participants in the university, we see the university as a thing-in-itself rather than as an ‘interference effect’, but if we are looking at the flow of community, we see an interference effect or resonance feature within the flow that is the university.
What’s at play here is whether we choose to put ‘spatial-relations’ [topology] in a primacy over ‘geometry’, … or, … ‘geometry’ in a primacy over ‘spatial-relations’ [topology].
If our observations are orienting to spatial-relational dynamics, we see the university as an ‘interference effect’ or ‘resonance-feature’ in the spatial-relational flow, … and if our observations are orienting to geometric structures, we see the university as a local ‘system-in-itself’ or ‘machine’.
The noun-verb architectural style of European languages lends itself to geometric constructions in terms of ‘things’ and ‘what things do’, so that we start with the components of the university and the processes they engage in and explain the university in these terms [from the inside-outward]. As in (1.) above;
“Our CONSCIOUS awareness orients to ‘the movement of things’ [geometric forms] while we let go of our consciousness of the all-including relationally transforming ‘unidynamic’ and thus we could say that our view of dynamics in terms of ‘thingless-connectedness’ sublimates into our UNCONSCIOUS.”
philosophers such as Alan Watts and linguists such as Benjamin Whorf have explained, Native American languages are far more oriented to ‘spatial-relations’. One may therefore anticipate that the aspect of our experience that, in the European mind falls away into the ‘unconscious’ so that conscious awareness is dealing only in the ‘what-things-in-themselves do’ representation of dynamics, is continually accessible to the Native American mind and that the two modes of representation can be used to complement one another. This is strongly suggested by the very different philosophical representations articulated by Native Americans which portray humans as ‘strands in the web-of-life’; i.e. as secondary features within a spatial-relational dynamic that derive from the dynamic rather than being jumpstart producers of the dynamic.
3. From geometry back to topology.
In (1.) and (2.) the discussion was with respect to how we ‘descended’ from topological impression [dynamics understood as spatial-relational transformation/flow] to geometrical representation [dynamics understood as ‘what things-in-themselves-do’], … and how this corresponded to a sublimating of topological understanding in the ‘unconscious’ along with the retention in conscious awareness of a reduced representation of dynamics, this become an effective ‘consciousness’.
This sublimation of topological awareness is discussed by F. David Peat, whose views on the implications of quantum physics findings on our worldview paralleled those of colleague and co-author David Bohm. His suggestion is that this sublimation of topological understanding into the ‘unconscious’ is associated with ‘learning’ or ‘acculturation’; i.e. it associates with ‘becoming an adult’ and learning the logic of numbers and geometry as the basis of becoming ‘knowledgeable’ about the world. As a result, our more sophisticated topological mode of awareness/perception is ‘left behind’ in our ‘primal self’ or ‘child persona’. This has not ‘gone’ but is still inside us but suppressed by our ‘adult’ persona which is more serious and explicit in its representations.
The history of geometry demonstrates the discovery of deeper and more general levels, Euclidian geometry gives way to non-Euclidian, beneath geometry is topology, and topology itself is founded on even more general and beautiful mathematics. The longer a particular topic has been studied, the deeper mathematicians are able to move towards its foundations. But Piaget, pointed out, this historical evolution is a direct reversal of the actual development of concepts of space in the infant. To the young child, the distinction between intersecting and non-intersecting figures is more immediate than between, say, a triangle, square and circle. To the infant’s developing mind, topology comes before geometry. In general, deeper and more fundamental logical operations are developed earlier than more specific rules and applications. The history of mathematics, which is generally taken as a process of moving towards deeper and more general levels of thought, could also be thought of as a process of excavation which attempts to uncover the earliest operations of thought in infancy.” – F. David Peat, ‘Mathematics and the Language of Nature’
We can reconcile this process with Nietzsche’s remarks on the necessity to construct a reality based on ‘appearances’; “A world in a state of becoming could not, in a strict sense, be “comprehended” or “known”; only to the extent that the “comprehending” and “knowing” intellect encounters a coarse, already-created world, fabricated out of nothing but appearances…”
That is, the infant’s awareness is in terms of inclusion in a continually transforming relational spatial flow [in pure topological terms] which transcends ‘knowledge’ in the sense that ‘knowledge’ is ‘knowledge of things’. The infants ‘consciousness’ is what is destined, in European language based acculturation, to fall into the ‘unconscious’ and in the Native American language based acculturation, to become one of two consciously employed complementary modes of understanding the world dynamic, the ‘dynamic ground’ view coming from the topological [spatial-relational] view of dynamics and the ‘dynamic figures’ view coming from the geometric [what-things-in-themselves do] view of dynamics.
The globally dominating European ‘consciousness’ has constructed a popular [commonly accepted] pseudo-reality that strips out the dynamic figures from the dynamic ground and casts aside [into the unconscious] the dynamic ground. This is becoming an ‘environmental disaster’ since this represents an inversion of the ‘direction’ of sourcing of dynamics. As with the ‘hurricane’, the sourcing of development and behaviour of the dynamic form derives from the spatial-relational suprasystem dynamic the ‘apparent local form’ is included in. Once the dynamic form is isolated and imputed to be a local, independent material system, one must come up with a local, internal animative sourcing of its development and behaviour. The one-sided notion of ‘genesis’ [notional local, self-jumpstarting agents of genesis called ‘genes’ are called into mental service] and ‘central nervous system’ [notional intellectual processing equipment directed by internal purpose] are concepts that we invent to achieve this inversion of the direction of animative sourcing [to make development and behaviour appear to ‘jumpstart’ from out of the interior of the notional flow-features reduced to [fixed in place as] ‘things-in-themselves’.
Once this pseudo-reality has been mentally constructed in terms of the isolated dynamic figures as ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these dynamic figures do’, the real physical animative sourcing; i.e. the continually transforming relational space, … falls away into the ‘unconscious’.
4. Equipping the ‘things-in-themselves with ‘free will’.
One of the most ‘mentally convincing’ [to the Western civilization-acculturated mind] ‘locks’ that holds in primacy the notion of self as a ‘thing-in-itself’, notionally with its own locally originating internally jumpstarted animative sourcing of behaviour, … is the psychical notion of ‘free will’ and the ability to ‘jumpstart author’ our own choices as to how we behave. This has resonances of God and his Creation in it, since in the monotheist creation myth, nothing was ‘in place’ prior to the Creation so that God didn’t have to ask anybody else about what he was about to do, nor was there any problem about his new creations fitting into what was already in place since nothing at all was in place at the time of the Creation; i.e. space was absolutely empty, like the mathematical notion of absolute Euclidian space.
Of course, in the case of humans living in a relational space such as the space of the earth’s biosphere on the surface of the sphere of the earth, there can be no ‘creation’ of something new without the destruction of something already established. That is just another way of saying that ‘dynamics’ in a relational space equate to ‘transformation’ of spatial relations. For example, if one disperses ants or humans over the surface of a sphere, since the surface of a sphere has no absolute fixed reference points on it, the ‘location’ and/or ‘motion’ of any of those ants or humans can only be assessed relative to the spatial-relational configuration it is included in. There is no such thing as ‘absolute motion’ [the ‘motion of a thing’] in such a space, there is only relational ‘transform-motion’ or ‘transformation’.
When European colonizers moved from east to west to the Americas, this could be seen as transforming the spatial relations in the biosphere. But the European mind would see this as Europeans moving within an absolute fixed space reference frame from point A in Europe to point B in the Americas. The notion of free-will associates with this view. If they had acknowledged that the world was a spatial-relational dynamic that was continually transforming [and saw themselves as flow-features within that continual transformation] then they would instead see themselves as ‘strands-in-the-relational web’ or ‘co-participants in the transformation of the spatial-relational dynamics they were included in’, as in the Native American world view.
In this spatial-relational inclusional worldview, there is no animative sourcing that jumpstarts from the interior of the self because one is already a flow-feature in the spatial-relational flow, and as such, has an option more like a sailboater than a powerboater; i.e. to derive one’s drive-power and steerage from the flow one is included in, but not to derive one’s drive-power and steerage from one’s own onboard equipment [internal components and processes].
Furthermore, philosophers have noted that the European colonizers believed they were ‘constructing a wonderful new world’ in the Americas while the indigenous aboriginals argued that the colonizers were destroying a wonderful established world in the Americas. The physical reality was neither of these ‘individual perspectives’, rather that both colonizers and indigenous aboriginals shared inclusion in a transforming relational space. The aboriginals could easily get to this view as well as to the view in terms of the colonizers destroying what was ‘in place’ with their ‘constructions’. On the other hand, it appears to have been more difficult for the European colonizers to get to the ‘transformational view’, as evidenced by their impression, written into history books, of ‘progress’ as if their ‘civilized’ way of living represented a linear, forward progression from more ‘primitive’ ways of living in the past. In this progression-over-time [rather than spatial-relational transformation] way of thinking, the new constructions ‘replaced’ the old established structures. This view is in spite of the experience that all new structures age and collapse, only to be replaced by more new constructions,… this being more like ‘treading water’ ‘in place’ [i.e. in-place relational transformation within the biosphere-space] than ‘making progress by marching forward in a time-based succession of continual improvements on the past’.
The fact is that the European colonizers’ notion that they/we ‘moved from Europe westward to the Americas’, amounts to a denial that we are all included in a continually transforming relational space. The colonizers’ view is a group ‘perspective’ based on a ‘sense of self’ as a local, independently existing ‘thing-in-itself’, notionally with its own locally originating, internal process driven and directed behaviour that moves about and interacts within an absolute fixed, empty and infinite space. It is a God-like ‘sense of self’ in that it isolates the dynamic figure from the dynamic ground and resituates the ‘figure’ of ‘self’ in an absolute space wherein what it does is purely and solely its own self-jumpstarting, self-creative action/accomplishment. It is a denial that one is included in a relational-spatial dynamic that is common to all; i.e. it is a psyche based rendering of the world and self rather than a grounding in physical reality;
“That which is given to all in common we call the ‘physical’; that which is directly given only to one we call the ‘psychical’. That which is given only to one can also be called the ‘ego’ [ich].” – Ernst Mach, ‘The Guiding Principles of My Scientific Theory of Knowledge’
While the powerboater-style independent agent with ‘free-will’ is a lock-in to the geometric world view in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’, the sailboater-style relational agent of relational transformation allows a ‘sense of self’ compatible with the topological world view in terms of inclusion in a continually transforming relational space [the energy-charged spatial-plenum];
It is this notion of ‘free-will’ that supports the ‘powerboater’ sense of self that mentally isolates the dynamic figures from the dynamic ground. Pre-relativity/pre-quantum physics science also lends this ‘free-will’ to its definition of ‘organism’ and/or ‘cell’, so as to split out the foreground ‘inhabitant’ from its dynamic ground aka ‘habitat’;
“… what we call empty space contains an immense background of energy, and that matter as we know it is a small, ‘quantized’ wavelike excitation on top of this background, rather like a tiny ripple on a vast sea. In current physical theories, one avoids the explicit consideration of this background by calculating only the difference between the energy of empty space and that of space with matter in it. This difference is all that counts in the determination of the general properties of matter as they are presently accessible to observation. However, further developments in physics may make it possible to probe the above-described background in a more direct way. Moreover, even at present, this vast sea of energy may play a key part in the understanding of the cosmos as a whole. In this connection it may be said that space, which has so much energy, is full rather than empty…It is being suggested here, then, that what we perceive through the senses as empty space is actually the plenum, which is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves. The things that appear to our senses are derivative forms and their true meaning can be seen only when we consider the plenum, in which they are generated and sustained, and into which they must ultimately vanish.” — David Bohm, ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’
The above essay gives an account as to how our globally dominating Western culture sublimates into the ‘unconscious’ its ‘topological’ understanding of world and self in terms of a transforming relational spatial-plenum [all-including spacetime continuum] and elevates to an unnatural singular-primacy in conscious awareness, the ‘geometrical’ understanding of world and self in terms of ‘what-things-in-themselves-do’.
The acculturation or ‘education’ one receives in Western society is one in which ‘knowledge’ is built up to slowly take over or ‘hijack’ natural relational ‘understanding’, rather than simply being developed as a complementary tool. As Emerson observes in ‘The Method of Nature’; ‘the tool [of knowledge] has run away with the workman.’.
Our sense of ‘free-will’ plays a ‘lock-in’ role that keeps the view of dynamics in the geometric terms of ‘what things-in-themselves-do’ in its unnatural singular-precedence over the topological view in terms of the continuing transformation of relational space. As Mach notes, ‘free-will’ is a contrivance of the psyche which equates, in his terms, to ‘ego’. If one is able to suspend the ego, which is tied to individual ‘thing-in-itself’ perspective, and accept that other perspectives are equally possibly [as in the ‘learning circle’ of the aboriginal tradition], then one can allow the topological view to resurface from its banishment in the ‘unconscious’.
* * *
 “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
 “For an oceanosphere thickness that is in the middle”. If one looks at the yin/yang symbol at the top of the essay, one is reminded here that we have two views going on at the same time, the inside-outward view of the asserting material form and the outside-inward view of the world in a drop of water. Kepler brought up this ‘mix’ of two views in regard to the position of the earth in the solar system and used it as the basis for modeling our psyche;
“But if it is permissible, using the thread of analogy as a guide, to traverse the labyrinths of the mysteries of nature, not ineptly, I think, will someone have argued as follows: The relation of the six spheres to their common centre, thereby the centre of the whole world, is also the same as that of διανοὶα [discussive intellection] to νοῦς [intuitive intellection], according as these faculties are distinguished by Aristotle, Plato, Proclus, and the rest; and the relation of the single planets’ revolutions in place around the sun to the ἀμετᾴθεδον [unvarying] rotation of the sun in the central space of the whole system (concerning which the sun-spots are evidence; this has been demonstrated in the Commentaries on the Movement of Mars) is the same as the relation of τὸ διανοητικὸν to τὸ νοερὸν, that of the manifold discourses of ratiocination to the most simple intellection of the mind. For as the sun rotating into itself moves all the planets by means of the form emitted from itself, so too—as the philosophers teach—mind, by understanding itself and in itself all things, stirs up ratiocinations, and by dispersing and unrolling its simplicity into them, makes everything to be understood. And the movements of the planets around the sun at their centre and the discourses of ratiocinations are so interwoven and bound together that, unless the Earth, our domicile, measured out the annual circle, midway between the other spheres—changing from place to place, from station to station—never would human ratiocination have worked its way to the true intervals of the planets and to the other things dependent from them, never would it have constituted astronomy. (See the Optical Part of Astronomy, Chapter 9.)
On the other hand, in a beautiful correspondence, simplicity of intellection follows upon the stillness of the sun at the centre of the world, in that hitherto we have always worked under the assumption that those solar harmonies of movements are defined neither by the diversity of regions nor by the amplitude of the expanses of the world. As a matter of fact, if any mind observes from the sun those harmonies, that mind is without the assistance afforded by the movement and diverse stations of his abode, by means of which it may string together ratiocinations and discourse necessary for measuring out the planetary intervals. Accordingly, it compares the diurnal movements of each planet, not as they are in their own orbits but as they pass through the angles at the centre of the sun. And so if it has knowledge of the magnitude of the spheres, this knowledge must be present in it a priori, without any toil of ratiocination: but to what extent that is true of human minds and of sublunary nature has been made clear above, from Plato and Proclus.
Under these circumstances, it will not have been surprising if anyone who has been thoroughly warmed by taking a fairly liberal draft from that bowl of Pythagoras which Proclus gives to drink from in the very first verse of the hymn, and who has been made drowsy by the very sweet harmony of the dance of the planets begins to dream (by telling a story he may imitate Plato’s Atlantis and, by dreaming, Cicero’s Scipio): throughout the remaining globes, which follow after from place to place, there have been disseminated discursive or ratiocinative faculties, whereof that one ought assuredly to be judged the most excellent and absolute which is in the middle position among those globes, viz., in man’s earth, while there dwells in the sun simple intellect, πῦρ νοερὸν, or νοῦς, the source, whatsoever it may be, of every harmony.” – Johannes Kepler, ‘Harmonies of the World’
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This entry was posted by ted lumley on September 29, 2012 at 5:32 am, and is filed under APN. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.
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