Transformation

“Anything said is said by an observer.” This is a quote from Humberto Maturana, a Chilean biologist

The Certainty of Uncertainty Dialogues Introducing Constructivism. This is a book that introduces and articulates what is called constructivism. Constructivism like many words, can mean a variety of descriptions.

This is a book of interviews of prominent voices that talk about the discovery of the observer, an observer that since Descartes hasn’t always been involved in a so-called “objective” science.

the which deals with the origin and creation of conceptions of real- ity, deny the existence of an external world; they all deny, however, that it is possible to know that external world in a subject-independent way. Every act of cognition, it is claimed, necessarily rests on the constructions of observers – and not on the point-to-point correspondence of perception and external reality. “Anything said is said by an observer.”

This attitude represents a middle course between various forms of realism and the exaggerations of solipsism. There is no denial of an external world. It the denial that humans can possibly know the world in a subject-independent way.

What Happened To Reason?

Planet Earth is changing

Here is a quote from Bertrand Russell,

Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma.
As a rule, the materialistic dogma has not been set up by men who loved dogma, but by men who felt that
nothing less definite would enable them to fight the dogmas they disliked. They were in the position of
men who raise armies to enforce peace. Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate,
materialism more and more gives way to skepticism.

W.I. Thompson writes: “In any passionate conflict, there is a psychological exchange of characteristics.” 

Changes of Mind –Jenny Wade   A Holonomic Theory of the Evolution of Consciousness is in the library here. Her purpose is to talk about human development, the unfolding of individual consciousness. The forms and levels it encompasses.

J. Wade writes conformist consciousness is “thought to represent the mainstream consciousness in civilized cultures…revealing embedded assumptions about the nature of reality, i.e., that the perceptions permitted by this level are a true apprehension of the world…the dynamics of conformist consciousness can embrace human rights, religion, genocide, etc.- any belief that can be dogmatized…conceptualization is limited by the absolute and dualistic nature of thinking (right/wrong, good/bad, black/white)…polarization includes dividing the world into member groups and outgroups…the rules or norms of a person’s member group are not viewed as one of many alternatives; rather they are the “right” way.

Changes of Mind is an excellent summary of the stages of human development. The reason I mentioned the level of conformist because it represents the mainstream consciousness in civilized cultures.

What’s Going On

A great song by Marvin Gaye. One could ask the same question today. What’s Going On? A transition is happening for sure. Why? Crises and pathology is an answer. There are many problems.

I wrote:

“based of the myriad crises that challenge the earth and its creatures, the narratives and stories that are guiding the present worldview are based on values that are destructive.”

The goal of economic growth can no longer be the main purpose. This goal of economic growth has momentum built up in many ways that are intertwined with many institutions in our modern world.

The ways of knowing and knowledge must change to reflect different goals and purposes that are coherent with the whole. The whole represents the planetary ecology.

What is considered “the way it is” or “natural” regarding many ideas are socially constructed. I understand that “social constructed” can mean a diverse set of meanings depending on the context. A good example is the idea of human nature. Our concept of human nature changes depending on the historical period and context.

The human interpretation of whatever a human being is connected to whatever the dominant meaning is in that particular context. It becomes a self-fulfilling loop. From the moment one is born, that person is learning what is reality according to the particular paradigm one is born in.

Someone wrote “In the social realm, knowledge, or what purports to be knowledge, is entangled with the reality it represents.

The territory is changed.

Learning

I ended the last post with this thought:

What could be considered working hypotheses for what may be reality and life? When did Humans begin to ask these questions? No one really knows I would suggest.

I would suggest sustainability is a good value. If a phenomena sustains itself over time there is something good and truthful inherent in whatever it is.

Humans are conscious (aware) and each of us is imbedded in a relationship with the earth and all the myriad living creatures that exist. I appreciate the idea of holon, an entity is simultaneously a part/whole. (See Koestler Janus)

I could say that whoever is writing the words on this page is intending to do this writing through an act of intention, a conscious act. I know this. But I also can know that whoever is writing is embedded in an ecology, a context. How one defines a human being plays a pivotal role. Am I “skin-encapsulated ego” that is separate from this context?

The is a unity to reality. One could ask “where is the outside?”

Mystery is an integral quality of life. Can one really know the origin of the universe and various other questions? The map is not the territory.

Power when used by humans in any form tends to be disastrous. I am talking about coercion and power in the many forms it manifests. In the book Yuga Marty Glass writes:

“The conquest of power, the choice of power, is already self-destructive, already inconsistent with the recognition of human ends and purposes.  Human ends and purposes are not attained through the exercise of power: that’s the point…Power cannot be used ‘wisely’, only in humble recognition.” Glass talks about the work of Lewis Mumford among others

An Opening

Knowledge is a concern with this writer. I mentioned Scandalous Knowledge by Barbara Herrnstein Smith and Bernard Kastrup’s books as good books for understanding and comparing the history of ideas. I wrote,

If one gives up the idea of “there is an objective out there” then one understands that “that reality is fundamentally inseparable from our subjective mental picture of it.”

The authors above help. Kastrup writes (from Meaning in Absurdity)

“if we do not have an external strongly-objective mathematical reality to ground the truth of out statements, then we have no alternative but to ground it on ourselves.”

Kastrup is suggesting us to let go of the principle of bivalence. “that for something to be true something has to be false” His book is in some ways about how paradox is a characteristic of language.

I appreciate this paragraph:

 With respect to the idea of truth, the central implication of Fleckian and post-Fleckian constructivist epistemology is that, although something like ‘correspondence’ is involved in the situations to which we give that name, it is not a matter of an objective match between, on the one hand, statements, beliefs, descriptions or models and, on the other hand, a fixed reality, but, rather, a matter of the production and experience of an effective coordination among statements, beliefs, assumptions, observations, practices and projects, all of which are independently mutable but mutually responsive. As pragmatists have always maintained, ‘working well’ is a key test of the theories or beliefs we call true. 

Fleckian ad post-Fleckian constructivist epistemology refers to Ludwik Fleck who wrote the seminal book Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact (1935) The book was ahead its time and introduced “thought styles” and other ideas, which articulated how ideas develop in a context.

This is why the context is so important. There is a loop, a relationship between what one knows and the context.

What could be considered working hypotheses for what may be reality and life? That will the next post

Posture





One of the primary ideas that animates this writer is that there isn’t an objective world out there. I perceive the world (one could use many words to represent whatever one means by world) being a human being with all that entails. What that means is I am in a lifeworld with a context. There is a relationship between the context and the human being that lives in a particular context, what Jeffrey Kripal calls “a reality posit” is produced from the dialectical dance of consciousness and culture –always on a historical and material stage.

I am suggesting that every individual person (which I am) interprets the world through the present contextual worldview. One doesn’t see reality objectively but through a particular window and culture. Thompson writes, “what frames and defines a world is the act of participating in a context.”



Richard Tarnas writes “our best philosophy of science , like our most acute self-reflections. has taught us the radical extent to which our assumptions configure and create our world…in the inner politics of the modern mind, a “hermeneutics of suspicion” has completely overpowered and eclipsed a a “hermeneutics of trust.”

I appreciate another idea from Tarnas “from Bacon and Descartes on, the modern mind directed its suspicion at everything except its own stance of skeptical objectification.” From this writers perspective this meant that a basic goal was power, control and prediction. It was “blind to its own posture.”

This is why the challenge to what constitutes knowledge and truth is a primary endeavor of humans that are aware of these difficulties.

If one gives up the idea of “there is an objective out there” then one understands that “that reality is fundamentally inseparable from our subjective mental picture of it.”

Based of the myriad crises that challenge the earth and its creatures, the narratives and stories that are guiding the present worldview are based on values that are destructive.

Games

I feel that a good book is one way to change our notions of what reality is.  A good example would be Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse.  He writes that “there are two kinds of games.  One is “finite, the other infinite.”  We play finite games to win, we play infinite games for the purpose of continuing the play.   The book then talks about the differences between the two outlooks.  Very fascinating and there is a good chance that the reader might imagine different possibilities in life.

“like a finite game , a society is numerically, spacially, and temporally limited….   Page 51

Games is a fascinating book. 

Paradox is a primary quality of this transition period.   talks about two ways of relating to the universe.  Two types of games.  We could say that the modern world and its dominant thought systems are based on finite games.  It is my hope that we can imagine a postmodern world based on infinite games.  I can’t do this insightful book justice in a couple of paragraphs, but here are some ideas from the book:   “there are two kinds of games.  One is “finite, the other infinite.”  (P. 3)  We play finite games to win; we play infinite games for the purpose of continuing the play. 

 The essence of infinite players is they except change.  Carse mentions the  Zen image “we are not the stones over the which the stream of the world flows; we are the stream itself  As we shall see, this ceaseless change does not mean discontinuity; rather change is itself the very basis of our continuity as persons.  Only that which can change can continue: this is the principle by which infinite players live….”   P. 45

…the only purpose of the game is to prevent it from coming to an end, to keep everyone in play. 

If we imagine that the imagined world is different from the modern world we could use the ideas set forth by  Carse.  The world that is coming is characterized by being an infinite game whereas the world that is the past is a finite game.  

Human Nature

The idea of human nature is vital is comparative studies. I am a human being writing these words, so I imagine a human being that is an ideal representative of human nature. There seems a self-fulfilling prophecy dynamic involved.

If we assume we are inherently violent by nature, that can create momentum to a self-fulfilling process.

Universe and universe

There is a difference between Universe and universes.  The Universe is all.  What it is in its own right, independent of our changing opinions, we never know.  The Universe is all inclusive and includes us; we are a part or an aspect of the Universe experiencing and thinking about itself. 

The universes are our models of the Universe.  They are great schemes of intricate thought-grand cosmic pictures-that rationalize human experience..each universe is a self-consistent systems of ideas, marvelously organized, interlacing most of what is perceived and known.  A universe is a mask fitted on the face of the unknown Universe….

Our universe is in transition.  

A Human Being

“The astonishing thing about the human being is not so much his intellect and bodily structure, profoundly mysterious as they are. The astonishing and least comprehensible thing about him is his range of vision, his gaze into the infinite distance; his lonely passion for ideas and ideals, far removed from his material surroundings and animal activities, and in no way suggested by them, yet for which, such is his affection, he is willing to endure toils and privations, to sacrifice pleasures, to disdain griefs and frustrations, for which, rating them in value above his own life, he will stand till he dies, the profound conviction he entertains that if nothing be worth dying for nothing is worth living for. The inner truth is that every man is himself a creator, by birth and nature, an artist, an architect and fashioner of worlds. If this be madness—and if the universe be the machine some think it, a very ecstasy of madness it most manifestly is—none the less it is the lunacy in which consists the romance of life, in which lies our chief glory and our only hope”   

                                                       W. Macneile Dixon