The Duplicity of the Colonizer Culture
The Source of the Duplicity in the Globally Dominant Colonizer Culture
Peter D’Errico has written a clear and credible, if disturbing, account of the duplicity of the colonizer culture, that permeates U.S. ‘Federal Indian Law’ and its administration, entitled ‘American Indian Sovereignty: Now You See It, Now You Don’t’.
This following essay describes the source of this ‘duplicity’ which permeates the globally dominant Western ‘colonizer culture’, while tying it to a schism in the foundations of scientific understanding, the two divided parts of which will be named (a) absolutist-realism (AR) and (b) relationist-pragmatist-idealism (RPI). Adherents to the former understand the world in terms of ‘locally existing, material ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these things do’, equating this doer-deed worldview with ‘reality’, while the latter, while they accept the utility of thinking of the world in ‘absolutist’ terms of ‘things-in-themselves and ‘what things do’, see physical reality as being the continual transformation of the energy-charged spatial-plenum that is all inclusive, and whose dynamic forms are objects of sight and touch that we synthetically endow with absolute ‘things-in-themselves’ ‘being’.
To bring connective context to this split in worldview, ask yourself what the following may have in common;
1. The nature-nurture debate.
2. Pasteur’s deathbed concession to Antoine Béchamp; “le microbe n’est rien, le terrain est tout’.
3. Colonizer practice of establishing puppet governments.
4. Mach’s Principle; “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.
All of these topics concern the relationship of ‘visitor’ and ‘host’; i.e. ‘inhabitant’ and ‘habitat’. The first two are problematic because of an inherent ambiguity as to the relative contribution of the inhabitant and the habitat, given our AR worldview which is in terms of ‘what things do’ as if the habitat were not part of an active partnership. That is, how much of our development is shaped from inside-outward genetically determined influence sourced from the inhabitant, and how much is shaped from outside-inward ‘epigenetically’ orchestrated influence from the habitat? Similarly, how much of the proliferation of ‘pathogenic’ bacteria is due to the potency of the bacteria/inhabitant [le microbe] and how much is due to the ‘accommodating condition’ [fertility for proliferation] in the body-space of the host [le terrain].
In colonizing, the goal has been to make ‘le terrain’ more ‘accommodating’ for the feeding frenzy of the mother country and her ‘microbes’ and the puppet government is there to enhance the ‘accommodating’ of the host-space for the proliferation and productivity of outside exploiters of that space.
Ernst Mach’s ‘relationist’ view pointed out that the ambiguity here is synthetic and due to our tendency to the ‘mechanical’ or ‘AR’ worldview. For example, if the atmosphere heats up and gets a case of ‘boils’ (hurricane season), we may talk about the hurricanes as if they are ‘things-in-themselves’ and of ‘their doing of deeds’ [the mechanical view] and we may talk about ‘conditions of the habitat’ that are influencing the development of these ‘convection cells’, but our intuition informs us that the ‘inhabitant dynamic’ and the ‘habitat dynamic’ are conjugate aspects of one dynamic, namely; ‘transformation’ of spatial relations in the energy-charged flow-space/medium.
The mechanical worldview is in no small part locked in place in our mind by our noun and verb language architecture which is ideal for the ‘doer-deed’ [AR] worldview.
As Mach said in his ‘historical-critical review’ of the history of development of our notion of ‘mechanics’;
“Purely mechanical phenomena do not exist. The production of mutual accelerations in masses is, to all appearances, a purely dynamical phenomenon. But with these dynamical results are always associated thermal, magnetic, electrical, and chemical phenomena, and the former are always modified in proportion as the latter are asserted. On the other hand, thermal, magnetic, electrical and chemical conditions also can produce motions. Purely mechanical phenomena, accordingly, are abstractions, made, either intentionally or from necessity, for facilitating our comprehension of things. … The view [wherein we] explain all physical phenomena by mechanical ideas, is in our judgment a prejudice. … The mechanical theory of nature, is, undoubtedly, in an historical view, both intelligible and pardonable; and it may also, for a time, have been of much value. But, upon the whole, it is an artificial conception.” – Ernst Mach, ‘The Science of Mechanics: A Critical and Historical Account of its Development’.
Make no mistake, Mach is talking about the AR worldview which is in terms of local, independently-existing material objects/systems/organisms [‘things’] and ‘what they do’ [their actions/interactions]. The AR worldview credits all action to the doer-deed inhabitants of space/habitat and nothing to the outside-inward accommodating/orchestrating influence of space/habitat. The ‘artificial conception’ that Mach is terming the doer-deed worldview, reduces the habitat to an absolute, fixed, empty and infinite [Euclidian] space, a passive operating theatre in which notional ‘things-in-themselves’ enjoy ‘absolute motion’ as well as ‘absolute being’ [an impossibility in a continually transforming space; i.e. a world in flux].
The fact that Mach sees the ‘inhabitants’ as inclusions in a ‘web-of-life’ habitat in the manner of convection cells in a fluid medium establishes Mach as a ‘relationist’. The fact that he accepts the ‘absolutist’ view as a useful ‘artificial conception’ rather than ‘reality’ establishes him as a ‘pragmatist idealist’ [Poincaré’s terminology], hence an ‘RPI’, rather than an AR, along with Poincaré, Nietzsche, Bohm, Schrödinger and a small minority of other [see ‘Relational Theory’].
So, Mach and the relationists or RPIs understand ‘dynamics’ as deriving from two influences at the same time; i.e. from BOTH the outside-inward accommodating/orchestrating/nurturing influence of the host-body-space [the energy-charged ‘spatial-plenum’] or ‘habitat’ AND AT THE SAME TIME from the inside-outward asserting actions of the ‘inhabitants’.
There is no need to decide ‘how much of the production of the intruder or exploiter of the hostspace is due to the inside-outward asserting powers of the intruder, and how much is due to the outside-inward accommodating [or orchestrating] influence of the host-space/habitat because these two are, in physical reality, conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of ‘transformation’.
So, let’s back up and take look at ‘puppet government’ again in this light. What Mach is implying is that the world dynamic is ‘transformation’ it is not ‘doer-deed’ [mechanical] but our Western culture’s habitual worldview is the doer-deed worldview (AR) so that we are obliged, by this worldview, to give all credit for ‘productive results’, to the deed-doer and none to the accommodating/orchestrating influence of the habitat. In this way of thinking, the starving European farmer comes to the fertile virgin lands of the Americas and we credit ‘him’ with his ‘new-found productivity’ because that’s all that a mechanical model will allow. This is the same as crediting ‘streptococcus pneumoniae’ as the powerful source of its own proliferation without taking account of the fact that such bacteria ‘go viral’ in host-space habitats where there is a deficiency of vitamin C; i.e. where ‘le terrain’ is fertile and accommodating for turning an ‘average performer’ into a ‘superior performer’.
The same situation is found with the hospital infection ‘clostridium difficile’ termed a ‘virulent and lethal superbug’ [anti-biotics resistant] which is meanwhile innocuous to the average person but can ‘go postal’ in bodies that have been on courses of anti-biotics that disturb the ‘biotic balance’ and leave a deficiency analogous to the vitamin C deficiency that makes the space far more fertile and accommodating to the proliferation and production of ‘c. difficile’. Medical science attributes the proliferation of bacteria and viruses to the inside-outward assertive power of the bacteria and virus in the same manner that society attributes the superior production of the American farmer [the starving European farmer who came to America to homestead on richly fertile virgin soil in ideal growing climate] to the American farmer.
The mechanical model of the AR worldview will only allow an explanation of ‘production’ or ‘genesis’ or ‘development’ or ‘growth’ as the result of doer-deed actions. There is no place in this mechanical model for explaining ‘production’ or ‘genesis’ or ‘development’ or ‘growth’ from the outside-inward influence of an accommodating host-space/habitat.
Intuitively, we know that an accommodating habitat can make those who it is accommodating ‘look like superior performers’ and make those who it is unaccommodating to ‘look like poor performers’. Crony groups arrange this all the time, The boss’s son may be an idiot but as he ‘works his way up’, those around him [who would like to keep their jobs] will ‘prepare the ground for him’ so that he can’t NOT perform in a superlative fashion.
The duplicity comes in in these cases where we go with the pure mechanical doer-deed model of the AR worldview and ignore what our intuition is screaming out at us, that the system is rigged, the high productivity of the corporations from the mother country, rather than being due to the skills and proficiencies of these corporations, are due to the unnaturally enhanced ‘accommodating’ condition of the host-space facilitated by the installing of a ‘puppet government’. ‘Everybody knows’ [as Leonard Cohen sings; ‘Everybody knows the deal is rotten, old black Joe is still picking cotton for our ribbons and bows, and everybody knows.’] that this sort of ‘rigging’ permeates our duplicitous society.
How does Mach’s relationist worldview as embodied in his ‘Mach’s principle’ actually set the record straight on the duplicitous use of the ambiguity as to whether the productive achievements of the inhabitants are more or less due to the proficiencies of the inhabitant or to the accommodating condition of the habitat?
Mach’s view is that the world dynamic is just one relational dynamic [i.e. ‘transformation’] so that when we ask questions such as ‘Who/what is most responsible for the growth of foodcrops, the proficiencies of the inhabitant-farmer or the fertility of the habitat?’, we are ‘in the wrong mental modeling space’ since there is no such thing as ‘growth’ in the Machian world view, there is only ‘transformation’. That is, in a relational web or ecosystem, the dynamic of the web transcends the dynamic of the individual participants. As one participant/inhabitant in the web shrinks, another grows in a manner that the web/habitat itself launders; i.e.
“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
The earth’s biosphere is a space or habitat that is ‘in flux’. It persists as a thin film that cloaks the sphere of the earth. Dynamic forms are continually coming and going within this space. If the forms are interdependent as in the Machean view, then it is impossible to have ‘things-in-themselves’ and therefore ‘growth’ is only ‘appearances’. The tornado APPEARS to grow from a skinny spindly thing to a half-mile wide raging vortex, and the hurricane from a storm-cell a few tens of miles wide to a massive vortex like Igor (2010) with a diameter of 920 miles.
We speak of the ‘growth’ of the dynamic form as if it were an attribute of ‘the thing-in-itself’ but there is no ‘thing-in-itself’ here since the inhabitant/hurricane and habitat/atmospheric flow-space are nothing other than conjugate aspects of one dynamic, the dynamic of transforming space. Mach’s point is that the objects of sight and touch are not really ‘things-in-themselves’; that is an ‘artificial conception’, a short-cut representation that we make use of so as to ‘economize on thought’.
Does a human child ‘grow’ in an absolute sense as our mechanical AR worldview claims? Or is the growth of the child an ‘impression’ coming from the continuing transformation of space? Bohm, with his RPI worldview would say that the child is a ripple-structure in the continually transforming energy-charged spatial-plenum. Shrödinger would say that the child is a variation in the structure of space.
The claim here is that the ‘nature-nurture’ question ‘is the wrong question’. It makes no sense to ask; ‘which is most responsible for the growth/development of a thing-in-itself’ if there are no ‘things-in-themselves’, the ‘things’ instead being objects of sight and touch that are participants in the ‘one-dynamic’ of a continual spatial-relational evolution, in the manner of convection cells within the flow.
This is the claim.
As Howard Zinn has described in ‘A People’s History of the United States’, the historical perspectives of ‘colonizers’ [which he calls ‘executioners’] and ‘colonized indigenous peoples’ [which he calls ‘victims’] involves an innate ambiguity with respect to the degree to which the colonized constructed a wonderful new world in the Americas or destroyed a wonderful established world. As Mach would say, what we are looking at here is the transformation of the habitat that both colonizers and colonized share inclusion in. The dynamic is only a ‘doer-deed’ dynamic in a reduced sense wherein we see the world in terms of an absolute space reference frame that is the operating theatre for absolute ‘things-in-themselves’ that move about and interact in that absolute space operating theatre. This is not ‘reality’ but a world based on concretizing the objects of sight and touch as things-in-themselves, ‘representations’ of the dynamic forms as arise in the flux of the transforming spatial-plenum.
If we suspend the notion of organisms as ‘things-in-themselves’ that undergo ‘growth’, we may be able to conceive of them as participants in evolution aka ‘spatial-transformation’, in which case issues such as the nature-nurture debate dissolve [without the notion of ‘thing-in-itself’, there is no reason to inquire as to whether the development/growth of the thing-in-itself derives chiefly from ‘in itself’ or from the environment that it is situationally included in.
The hardest part is to re-conceive of ourselves and children as NOT ‘growing up’ but instead being participants in the evolutionary transforming of the spatial-plenum, which is what is demanded according to Mach’s principle.
Summary of Part I
The duplicitousness of the colonizer culture derives from interplay between the formal application of the mechanical (AR) world view and our intuitive manipulation of it. If we suspend the Machian view of the world dynamic in terms of relational spatial transformation and consider the world dynamic in terms of mechanics involving the interaction of ‘things-in-themselves’ as in an absolute space operating theatre, then doer-of-deeds aka the ‘producer-of-results’ is fully and solely responsible for the production of these results. But, intuitively we know that the accommodating/disaccommodating condition of the host-space/habitat can amplify or attenuate the production of the asserting causal agent. The establishing of a puppet government is a means of making the host-space more accommodating to certain deed-doers than to others, the associated superior performance and productivity still being attributed to the deed-doing agents since that is all the mechanical model will allow.
The Machian view of the world dynamic as relational and transformational transcends the mechanical view and suspends the synthetic representations of the objects of sight and touch as ‘things-in-themselves’. Without things-in-themselves, ‘growth’ is seen as ‘appearances’ rather than as ‘physical reality’. We can perhaps accept this in the case of a ‘hurricane’ but can we accept it in the case of ‘ourselves’ as ‘growing children’?
Clearly, our view of ‘self’ and ‘ego’ is tied into the synthetic legitimizing and making ‘credible’ the notion of a ‘thing-in-itself’ as we apply it to ‘ourselves’ and Mach does address it.
Part II: How science has cultivated the doer-deed world view for its ‘leading role’.
This split in worldview between the ‘absolutist-realist’ and the ‘relationist-pragmatist-idealist’ divided science in the early 20th century, putting Ernst Mach and Max Planck into contentious dispute over the ‘reality of atoms’. This same ‘divisiveness’ showed up as well in mathematics and the two sides were termed by Henri Poincaré; ‘Cantorian realists’ and ‘pragmatist idealists’. While the absolutist ‘Cantorian realists’ believe that ‘infinity is real’, the relationist pragmatist-idealists believe that ‘infinity is idealization’ that is accepted on the pragmatic grounds that it is a useful modeling concept.
In this philosophical-political dispute, the ‘realists’ won simply because they gathered more influential scientists to the support of their viewpoint. The views of the ‘relationist-pragmatist-idealists’ are still alive and well, but very much in minority.
As this part of the essay will show, the ‘relationist-pragmatist-idealist’ (RPI) worldview corresponds to the indigenous peoples traditional belief, while the absolutist-realist (AR) worldview incorporates duplicity which crops up in many forms, one of which is the establishment of ‘puppet governments’, which the Indian Reorganization Act was engineered to do [see the D’Errico article], and which can be explored to expose the general nature of the ‘duplicity’.
The relationist view of Ernst Mach is captured in his ‘Mach’s principle;
“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.”
This is the relationship as between convection cells [inhabitants] and the flow in which they are emergent flow-features [the habitat as transforming medium].
The ‘absolutist view of those who disagreed with Mach; i.e. the majority, including Planck, Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, Born etc. accepted the ‘reality’ of ‘local, independently-existing material, things-in-themselves; i.e. ‘bodies/systems/particles’. While these ‘things-in-themselves’ could be affected by non-local, non-visible, non-material fields of influence in the AR view, they were not seen in the same way as in the RPI view as, … ‘ripples in the energy-charged spatial-plenum’ as Bohm [a relationist like Mach] put it, or, … ‘variations in the wave-structure of space’ as Shrödinger [also a relationist] put it. The relationist view is that the non-local, non-visible, non-material energy-charged spatial plenum IS ‘physical reality’ [it is the ‘One’ dynamic and we are in it and therefore ‘can’t see it’ but we can experience it as the transformation of the dynamic living space/habitat we are included in], while the world view in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ ‘representations’ is ‘idealization’ that, while useful, should not be confused for ‘physical reality’.
Mach’s principle presents ‘dynamics’ in general as ‘transformation’ of spatial-relations, in which case the inhabitants are in a conjugate relation with the habitat; i.e. habitat and inhabitant are conjugate aspects of one dynamic, as in ‘convection cells’ and ‘flowing-medium’. This is understood as ‘physical reality’.
Now, accepting that this is true for the purpose of ‘further exploring it’, one can see that the inside-outward asserting outflux and the outside-inward accommodating influx are conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of transformation [genesis and degeneration are flip sides of the one coin of transformation of spatial relations].
However, in the accepted absolutist-realist worldview, ‘genesis’ occurs on its own, and ‘degeneration’ occurs on its own. What makes this split possible is the notion of a ‘thing-in-itself’. The thing develops [due to inside-outward asserting genesis] and later ‘IN TIME’ degenerates [due to destructive processes acting from the outside-inward]. But in the relationist view, there are no ‘things-in-themselves’ and there is no time; i.e. the spatial-plenum is undergoing continual relational transformation. Everything is in flux.
In the absolutist-realist view, the dynamics are ‘one-sided’; i.e. they are due to what ‘things-in-themselves’ do. This is the familiar ‘doer-deed’ or ‘cause-effect’ model where space is seen as ‘passive’ [i.e. as an absolute fixed, empty and infinite (Euclidian) reference-frame]
In all of this mental modeling, the point of reference for how we understand the ‘inhabitant’ and its relationship with ‘habitat’ is bound to be how we see and understand our ‘self’.
Part III: Science and Psychology.
The indigenous peoples of the world have an ally in Ernst Mach. Mach’s ‘relational’ world view [shared also by Nietzsche, Poincaré, Schrödinger and Bohm supports the understanding that the relational world is the world of ‘physical reality’, which is the world view of the indigenous people [e.g. ‘we are all strands in One relational web-of-life’]. As Mach points out, the world of ego-psyche is not the ‘real world’;
“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’.
The ‘peoples’ of the world have developed a major split, via ‘cultural beliefs’ in which their world view can either be grounded in ‘physical reality’ [e.g. the indigenous peoples and scientists such as Mach et al] or grounded in ‘pyscho-logical perspective’. This is the split that divides the ‘colonizing culture’ from the ‘indigenous culture’. As a person living within a globally dominant colonizing culture, I work very hard to try to find a way of sharing an ‘exposé’ of ‘what is going on here’ since the dishonesty, if not madness, of the colonizing culture is in deep denial [grounding in the psychological can translate into ‘coming ungrounded’ in physical reality].
Science plays a foundational role in perpetuating the ‘reign’ of this dishonest, insane culture; not the science of Mach, Nietzsche, Poincaré, Schrödinger, Bohm and Rovelli, but ‘popular mainstream science’, the science that has been endorsed by Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Born, Hawking, Weinstein etc. etc.
[N.B. As mentioned in Part I of this essay, ‘everybody knows’ the deal is rotten, which means that not everybody ‘takes the culture literally/seriously’, but it is nevertheless seriously administered through sovereigntist governance and justice systems. For example, if government policies backed by police and military lead to the host-space/habitat becoming highly disaccommodating to some of the citizens to the point that their children are starving and they steal a loaf of bread, the government and justice systems, who take the AR worldview literally and seriously, blind themselves to the outside-inward accommodating/orchestrating influence of the habitat in the animative sourcing of dynamics. Therefore, the inside-outward asserting behaviour of the citizen is all that shows up on the justice system’s radar screen.]
The former group is referred to as ‘relationists’ in Wikipedia, and Poincaré uses the term ‘pragmatist idealists’ to distinguish their philosophic-scientific thinking from the latter group which he calls ‘realists’ [‘Cantorian realists’].
The indigenous peoples are also ‘relationists’ while the duplicitous, globally dominant colonizer culture is ‘realist’.
The difference here is easy to describe, but harder to hold in mind. The relationist assumes that physical reality [‘that which is given to all in common’] is the basic ‘ground’ of the universe and that the psychical portal to the world, ‘that which is directly given only to one’, is merely a perspective gleaned from packages of sensory perception.
For example, our perspective is that ‘the tornado is coming towards us’, but the perspective of another may be; ‘thank goodness the tornado is passing us by’. We are speaking of the same physical phenomena but we each have our own unique perspective on it due to our unique situational inclusion within it. The colonizers perspective in colonizing North America was that they moved Westward to build a wonderful new world in North America, the ‘just discovered land’ named after the Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer Amerigo Vespuggi, while the indigenous peoples’ perspective was that the colonizers invaded and destroyed a wonderful established world on Turtle Island.
Physical reality, being ‘what is common to all’ [omni-perspectival, synoptic] understands dynamics as ‘transformation’ of spatial relations. That is the view of ‘relationists’ such as Mach. It corresponds with the view that ‘everything is in flux’ and that ‘physical reality is given only once’ [the universe is a continually transforming spatial-plenum].
The ‘relationists’ are ‘pragmatist idealists’ for one very simple reason; they accept the reduction of this transforming space into a view based on ‘representations’ of dynamic forms; i.e. in terms of notional local, independently-existing things-in-themselves [for example – the human perspective based view of the tornado as a thing-in-itself] as a convenient and useful IDEALIZATION that cannot, meanwhile, be confused for ‘physical reality’. Hence the ‘relationists’ are also described as ‘pragmatist idealists’ since they agree with the pragmatism of using the ‘idealization’ of dynamic forms in the transforming space, as ‘things-in-themselves’, even though they are really only ‘things considered in themselves’.
On the other hand, the dominant thinking in science, and in the scientifically-thinking colonizing culture, is that these ‘things-in-themselves’ are, in fact, ‘real’, hence their outlook that corresponds to ‘relationism’ is ‘absolutism’ and instead of being ‘pragmatist idealists’, they are ‘realists’. This was the source of the major split between Mach and the ‘relationists’ and Planck, Einstein and the ‘realists’, the latter including the majority of leading scientists, in the early 20th century, that led to political debate amongst scientists and to the result that the ‘absolutist – realist’ belief system has been the political winner, the system that Mach calls ‘the Church of Physics’.
Could it have been any other way at that time [early 20th century]? For example, the relationists put the omni-perspective view into primacy over the single-perspective, absolutist [things-in-themselves-based] view, which leads directly to stateless and non-hierarchical [relational-web-based] social organizing modes, as in the indigenous peoples tradition.
That is, if Mach’s principle holds, the actions of the inhabitants, rather than simply achieving some result as in the AR worldview, are conditioning the dynamics of the host-space/habitat which are at the same time orchestrating inhabitant behaviours. While governments and justice systems and corporate activities continue to follow, literally, the doer-deed model of dynamics which says nothing of back-reflections from the habitat-dynamic in association with inhabitant dynamics. However, the intuition of the people at large is not ‘buying into’ this blindered AR worldview, and more and more comments such as the following by Frédéric Neyrat in ‘Biopolitics of Catastrophe’ are coming to the fore;
“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.”
The usefulness of both sovereigntist government and the corporation lies in their power, amplified by numbers, to do deeds, to cause results. The back-reflecting of this power through the transformed dynamic of the habitat does not show up in the AR worldview. The sort of turbulence that it is infusing in the world is the sort that impacts each individual inhabitant in different ways, depending on their situational inclusion in the world dynamic. Such turbulence as may come from instability in the global economy, peak oil and changing climate, is spatial-relational and better handled according to local circumstance. This point is intuitive and there is a globally networked ‘transition town’ initiative underway aimed at cultivating ‘resilience’ on the local community level by restoring relational value-webs. In other words, acknowledging Mach’s principle leads to the restoration of the ‘web-of-life’ mode of organization and the realization that sovereigntist and hierarchical modes of organization are based on the ‘reality’ of the AR absolutist-realist model that is now being intuitively called into question, and which Mach calls ‘an artificial conception’.
The individual perspective absolutist-realist view which leads directly into discursive conflicts such as whether the colonizers constructed a wonderful new world in the Americas or whether they destroyed a wonderful established world is something that has been resolved by the principle of Lafontaine; “La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure”. The physical reality is that our world is continually transforming, in a spatial-relational sense. This is an omni-perspectival view which transcends the individual-perspective, absolutist view that sees dynamics in terms of local, independently-existing material bodies/systems and their actions/interactions within a fixed reference-frame space. The flawed logical inference that is a fundamental ‘enabler’ to the latter ‘absolutist’ view has been described by Nietzsche in terms of a ‘double error’ and by Poincaré as a ‘petitio principii’; i.e. both describe it as ‘circular reasoning’. Nietzsche says;
“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
Now, this allegation, that the ‘thing-in-itself — doer-deed world view of the absolutist-realists which dominates in the world today, hinges on a ‘flaw in logical inference’ has huge implications as to how we ‘see things’ as in the notion of ‘growth’ discussed earlier.
Is ‘growth’ real or is ‘growth’ ‘schaumkommen’ (appearances) as the relationists insist?
It is not hard to see that there is no condition of mutual exclusion between the body of the tornado-inhabitant and the space of the atmosphere-habitat, so that when the ‘inhabitant’ ‘grows’ it would, if it were a thing-in-itself, push the surrounding ‘habitat’ back to make room for its growth. That is, the ‘inhabitant’, in the case of the tornado, is a dynamic form within the transforming medium. The habitat and inhabitant are conjugate aspects of a common dynamic, the dynamic of transforming spatial-relations. Yes, the tornado is an object of sight and touch, but objects of sight and touch can be ‘things we consider in themselves’ without having to be ‘things in themselves’.
Ok, that holds for the ‘growth of a tornado’, but what about the growth of a child?
According to the relationist-pragmatist-idealists, it holds generally since the world we live in is continually transforming in a spatial relational sense. As Nietzsche puts it;
“And do you know what “the world” is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income …” –Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’, 1067
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ‘GROWTH’ in physical reality. ‘Growth’ is an ‘impression’ that belongs to the psychical realm, the realm of ‘ego’. When we speak of colonization as ‘European expansionism’, we come back to the contradictory perspectives as to whether the European colonizers constructed a new world in the Americas, or whether they destroyed an existing world. This apparent contradiction arises only in the ‘pyschical’ or ‘psychological realm’. In the realm of physical reality, ‘construction’ and ‘destruction’ are conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of ‘transformation’ [of spatial-relations].
THERE IS NO ‘GROWTH’ THAT IS REAL.
We are back to Nietzsche’s point about “Our judgement has us conclude that every change must have an author”
The notion of ‘growth’ implies that some ‘thing’ is growing, and this leads to the same circular reasoning, ‘double error’ and ‘petitio principii’ discussed above.
The act of measurement of growth defines the thing that is growing. When we observe the zone of turbulence in the atmosphere called the hurricane, we measure [its] physical properties, [its] extension in x, y and z dimensions, and [its] barometric pressure at the centre. This gives us the option of abandoning the notion that an increasing proportion of the fluid medium of the atmosphere , troubled by increasing solar irradiance in these hot summer months, is ‘coming to the boil’, … in favour of the notion that the boil-spot as ‘thing-in-itself’ is ‘growing’ [the mind re-jumpstarts the animative sourcing of the dynamic from the local centre of the notional ‘thing-in-itself”].
An expanding circular area on the surface of a sphere is, at the same time, two circular areas in conjugate relation, the growth of the one is simultaneously reciprocally complemented by the shrinking of the other. Neither ‘growth’ nor ‘shrinkage’ [negative growth] are ‘physically real’. There is only transformation of spatial relations.
Just as construction/genesis and destruction/degeneration are conjugate aspects of one, physically real dynamic, ‘transformation’ of spatial relations, so it is with ‘growth’ and ‘shrinkage’.
We would say that people’s bodies are continually ‘growing’ and ‘shrinking’ [in dissipation with age and with decomposition in depth] but all the while, as Nietzsche says, the space of the biosphere persists.
The notion of ‘growth’ is key to the absolutist-realist world view. The relationist-pragmatist-idealists do not deny the IMPRESSION of growth, nor do they deny its usefulness in discourse, but their basic world view insists that ‘growth’ is in the realm of the psychical or psychological, it is not in the realm of physical reality. ‘Growth’ is ‘idealization’ that is convenient because, as Mach says, it ‘economizes on thought’.
“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 [the emphasis is Mach’s].
The absolutist-realist world view based on ‘things-in-themselves’ and their ‘doer-deed’ dynamics is a case in point. It requires far less ‘thought’ than the relationist-pragmatist-idealist world view in terms of continual transformation of spatial-relations, where everything is dependent on everything else and where Mach’s principle applies;
“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.”
As Poincaré and Mach have both said, the relationist view requires more than a simple ‘reference-framing’ of absolute space and absolute time, to give ‘representation’ to our sensory impressions and to our objects of sight and touch. This is where mention of ‘four dimensional’ and ‘multidimensional’ and ‘non-euclidian’ spaces for representation come into play. As Poincaré say, our three-dimensional representation of our sensory impression is only ‘a sort of convention of language’;
“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
What separates ‘relationist-pragmatist-idealists’ and ‘absolutist-realists’ is their different views on conventions.
The ‘absolutist-realist’ view is that representations in absolute space and absolute time, which yields ‘locally existing material things-in-themselves’ and presents their movements as ‘absolute movements’, are ‘reality’. While the ‘relationist-pragmatist-idealist’ view is that such representations, while they fit well with the architecture of our language [which came first? … the concept of the ‘thing-in-itself’ or the ‘doer-deed’ architecture of the noun-and-verb language architecture?], fall into the realm of the ‘psychical’ or ‘psychological’.
The measurements ‘MAKE’ the thing-in-itself.
In the relationist world view, nothing is unchanging; i.e. ‘no-THING’ is unchanging because the world is in flux, it is continually transforming.
How do we come up with the idea that there are things that aren’t changing?
If the whole world is in flux, the only way that one could have a thing in the world that is not changing, is to interpose absolute time and space reference frames and measure the sensory impression or form [the object of sight and touch] relative to these absolute frames rather than relative to a universe in flux that it is included in.
This technique has been built into the ground floor foundations of physics, as Poincaré notes;
“Origin of Mathematical Physics. Let us go further and study more closely the conditions which have assisted the development of mathematical physics. We recognise at the outset the efforts of men of science have always tended to resolve the complex phenomenon given directly by experiment into a very large number of elementary phenomena, and that in three different ways.
First, with respect to time. Instead of embracing in its entirety the progressive development of a phenomenon, we simply try to connect each moment with the one immediately preceding. We admit that the present state of the world only depends on the immediate past, without being directly influenced, so to speak, by the recollection of a more distant past. Thanks to this postulate, instead of studying directly the whole succession of phenomena, we may confine ourselves to writing down its differential equation; for the laws of Kepler we substitute the law of Newton.”
The ‘derivative’, dx/dt, is a measurement technique that reduces ‘change’ that derives from a non-local, non-visible and ‘non-material’ influence as in energy-charged-field dynamics that is more basic than material entities, … to an absolutized form of ‘change’ which is local, visible and material. This ‘local, visible, material’ version of ‘change’ is in the realm of the psychical rather than in the realm of physical reality. If we take video film footage of the rock of Gibraltar, the dx/dt measure of change between successive frames would affirm the rock’s unchanging stasis. That is psychological. The physical reality is that the rock is falling apart and in fact the whole continent it is included in is in the process of being recycled in the convecting currents of the earth’s lithosphere. The flow is bigger than the ‘being’ of the rock and its dynamics. As Emerson would say, the flow of nature not only inhabits the rock, it creates it. The absolute space and absolute time references as implied by dx and dt are the synthetic definers of ‘absolute local movement’ and ‘absolute change’ [as contrasted with dynamics understood as the transformation of spatial relations].
Scientific measuring and representational techniques are tools for economies of thought. They produce representations that get rid of the more complex relational origins of change and synthetically re-institute the sourcing of change in local, visible, material, independently-existing-things-in-themselves.
THEY SHIFT UNDERSTANDING FROM THE REALM OF PHYSICAL REALITY TO THE PSYCHICAL REALM.
As both Mach and Schrödinger state, ‘the world is only given once’. This ‘physical reality’ can be understood ‘relationally’ but for convenience and ‘economy of thought’ we embark on understanding it through the notion of a plurality of local material beings and their ‘doing of deeds’. As Schrödinger observes;
“The only possible alternative [to the illusion of ‘plurality’] is simple to keep to the immediate experience that consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknown; that there is only one thing and that, what seems to be a plurality, is merely a series of different aspects of this one thing, produced by a deception (the Indian MAYA); the same illusion is produced in a gallery of mirrors, and in the same way Gaurisankar and Mt. Everest turned out to be the same peak, seen from different valleys.”
And as Nietzsche says in a similar vein;
“Reason” is the cause of our falsification of the testimony of the senses. Insofar as the senses show becoming, passing away, and change, they do not lie. But Heraclitus will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction. The “apparent” world is the only one: the “true” world is merely added by a lie. –Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’
There is no argument that there are these two very different ways of understanding the world; (a) the globally dominating colonizer world view that is ‘absolutist-realist’ that is supported by the political incumbents in science, and (b) the suppressed relationist-pragmatist-idealist world view of the indigenous peoples tradition that is supported by the political outcasts in science. While the latter ‘accepts’ the views of the former as a useful idealization that results in ‘economies of thought’, it describes it as ‘idealization’ that is radically reduced from the physical reality it aims to describe. Meanwhile, the former regard their world view as ‘reality’ and thus reject the notion of a ‘higher reality’ that their reality is a poorboy representation of.
As Mach says of Planck’s ‘absolutist realism’ in their disagreement over the ‘reality’ of the idealized ‘thing-it-itself’ based mechanical world dynamic;
“After exhorting the reader, with Christian charity, to respect his opponent, Planck brands me, in the well-known Biblical words, as a ‘false prophet.’ It appears that physicists are already on their way to founding a church; they are already using a church’s traditional weapons. To this I answer simply: ‘IF believe in the reality of atoms is so important to you, I cut myself off from the physicist’s mode of thinking, I do not wish to be a true physicist, I renounce all scientific respect— in short: I decline with thanks the communion of the faithful. I prefer freedom of thought.” — Ernst Mach, ‘The Guiding Principles of My Scientific Theory of Knowledge’
As mentioned, the world view of the relationists corresponds to the world view of the indigenous peoples’ tradition. The worldview of the absolutist-realists corresponds to the prevailing view of science which is ‘taken literally’ on the surface level [government, corporate action] and used duplicitously in actual practice [e.g. puppet governments].
In closing, it is worth repeating Mach’s comment that ‘the mechanical theory of nature’ is an ‘artificial conception’ based on ‘abstractions, made, either intentionally or from necessity, for facilitating our comprehension of things’. Our habit of trying to apply it to explain all manner of physical phenomena is, as Mach suggests, a prejudice that we are overdue in our need to outgrow.
The ‘new physics’ has changed the worldview of many scientists who have been innovators in the field, in a significant way. Schrödinger’s reference to the parallels between relationist physics and ancient Vedic philosophy which share the realization that the ‘real world is only given once’ while the world of ‘things-in-themselves’ representations is ‘appearances’, has been mentioned. David Bohm spent his latter years trying to share the relationist views that came to him from his scientific researches in the interests of helping the shift out of the mechanical thinking trap. F. David Peat wrote ‘Blackfoot Physics’ to show how the relationist understanding of the new physics is a layover to indigenous peoples’ traditional beliefs. Benjamin Lee Whorf’s writings, in ‘Language, Thought and Reality’, aim to show how languages such as Hopi are architected to preserve ‘relationist’ impressions while English is better suited for conveying absolutist representations.
Meanwhile, the duplicity goes on because the ‘mechanical worldview’, which brought us ‘colonization’ continues to be the worldview and ‘belief system’ of popular choice.
* * *
Footnote: See also ‘Relationism, Absolutism and Language’
This entry was posted by ted lumley on April 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm, 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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