Extra Extra Read All About It—God Exists

September 4, 2013

Yoho Park

 

Here’s something different. Think of this post as being consistent with my thesis/story, but not part of it. My thesis (Prejudice: Empirical Data Beckoning Toward A Theory Of Self, Ambivalence, And Tolerance—CMU 1997), unbeknownst to my Professors, succeeded on two levels. First, it satisfied an MA degree requirement, and second, it enhanced my argument for the existence of God, an argument that predated my studies in Sociology. In so far as the Not-Me-Self is a value assessment mechanism that critiques the inner deliberations [or] silent arguments conducted within a single self, it does so by using a voice based in self/other interdependence. In my argument below, this voice not only establishes God’s existence, it also establishes the right of the “Other’s otherness,” as it binds a person’s “self” to “others,” to society, and to the Universe at large. For me, the possibility of “right thinking” and “good behavior” necessarily follows from God/Divinity. On a more personal level, however, what also follows from Divinity (but not necessarily) are my inner deliberations that identify “right and wrong.”

[Mead’s I-self, in the God argument below, is symbolically indicated by ~bb, while Mead’s Me-self is indicated by b~b. Being What Is Not While Not Being What Is, when understood in this light, describes “the participatory moment of a conscious self in the physical event of a self-conscious being.” With this interpretation of Mead’s I-Me couplet, and by using survey research to link certain kinds of private self-conscious activity to a tolerance of ambiguity and, thus, a low level of prejudice, I was able to accumulate empirical data (scientific evidence) that not only gives the concept of the Implicative Affirmative of the Not-Me-Self credibility, it also adds indirect evidence that supports my claim that God exists.]

Lift A Stone And God Is There; Ask A Question And God Is There — My Argument For Why God Exists

In The Beginning was the paradox: How does unity coexist with multiplicity? How does oneness make room for otherness? How does the all-perfect source of everything become something less than itself? God, being up for this challenge, solved this dilemma, and She (gender is optional here, in fact, it’s probably best to think of God in terms of process, in terms of “processing divinity”) did it by liberating Her own non-being. This event had to be performed in such a way as to both be and not be God in the same phenomenon. Her solution is doable, even logically doable, in the form of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is. In this double negation, God becomes free in the phenomenon of not, not being God, (~~b) while affirming (by implication) the God that is free to not be God. In other words, the liberation of God’s non-being becomes God’s immanence while, at the same time, there exists an implied transcendent God. God’s immanence is particularly important to humans because it is what we call “reality.”

[Footnote: The idea that God is free to not be God is unusual but not unique. In the journal, Deconstruction and Theology (1982, p. 89-90), Robert P. Scharlemann, in the article The Being of God When God is Not Being God, adds some documentation to this idea when he says: “The thesis I should like to propound here is that, in the theological tradition of this picture (the concept of finite being as ens creatum) is that the world is itself a moment in the being of God; what cannot be thought is that the world is the being of God when God is not being deity, or the being of God in the time of not being.”

It follows from this view that an infinite amount of diversity is both permitted and discovered in God’s freedom to not be, a diversity that, ultimately, is at one with God. What makes this possible (and logically consistent) is the peculiar state of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is, for, in addition to characterizing God’s freedom, this divine state of being also characterizes the liberation process that evolves God’s freedom (God becomes more free as freedom evolves) and this freedom, ultimately, characterizes physical events, biological events, and psychological events, (or the divine self-consciousness of “now”).]

Pure change, or that which is release and preservation, bond and liberation, is what’s happening within the polarity of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is, i.e., the defining poles of God’s immanence. Unqualified change is simply change, but this change, over time, evolves into more complex forms of change, eventually creating the conditions that support life. But even here change is ongoing, life in its environment continues to change and evolve, bringing forth more evolved, complex forms of life. And, as life acquires more consciousness, freedom expands.

Evolution, in addition to evolving content, evolves “form.” A change in form is not necessarily a change in meaning however, e.g., two means 2, 1+1 means 2, 4-2 means 2. In the same way that the meaning of the number 2 is conserved in the subtraction of 120 from 122, so to the meaning of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is, is conserved in the decay/death cycle of life. This birth/death cycle is God’s way of conserving non-being in feeling-sensing life forms as they evolve into more complex life forms. Eventually, life forms become sentient, sentient to the point of answering to a more highly evolved “form.” One might be tempted to imagine that I am suggesting the existence of an alien creature here, one that walks among us yet is not one of us. Aliens do exist, but we walk among them because we are them. Life forms that answer to a “more evolved form” are symbol generating, problem solving, psychologically complex life forms that go by the name Homo sapiens. Being born into this select population brings with it not just self-awareness in a physical environment (the participatory moment of a conscious self), but also the potential to expand one’s freedom and horizons. To simplify: below you will find a description (an image) of the “forms” that, ultimately, culminate in Homo sapiens, the species that answers to a higher “Divine form” of God’s freedom.

Let the V image represent God’s freedom. Let the left side of the V represent the empirical world (the world of our senses) and the right side of the V represent the liberating aspect of freedom. Identify the vertex, the bottom of V, as ~~b (the purist form of unity). Somewhere above the V vertex, on the freedom side of the V, let the letter b represent life and ~b represent the negative space of life (~b on the empirical side). Life moves freedom forward and in this case upward too. Further up the V, let ~bb (discontinuity occurring in continuity) represent the next higher transformative state of freedom, i.e., the participatory moment of a conscious self, and let b~b (continuity occurring in discontinuity) represent, on the empirical side of the V, the physical event of self-consciousness, i.e., the body/brain/expressive behavior of a conscious self. With the advent of self-consciousness, freedom again moves forward. The V grows larger (and wider) as the history of human civilization unfolds.

What the above transformational states of God’s freedom are defining is God’s immanence in the phenomenal world while simultaneously implying a transcendent Divinity (the God of all religions). All we can know about transcendent God is that God exists—the space of logical implication tells us that much. On the other hand, we can know a great deal about God’s immanence because as sensing/self-conscious beings embedded in an environment, we partake in inquiry, analysis, conscience, imagination, calculation, and prediction. Now, let’s take a closer look at what is entailed in ~bb (the ~bb of b~b~bb), i.e., the freedom to think thoughts.

Discontinuity occurring in continuity (the ~bb of b-b-bb) is like a chisel splitting wood, consciousness (conscious wood in this example) experiences a self-gap or self-hole. The gap, hole (or emptiness) experienced is the result of the “higher transformative state of freedom, i.e., the participatory moment of a conscious self.” This experience (some call it psychological time) when deconstructed, has produced a litany of accomplishments. Descartes turned this experience into doubt and then proceeded to doubt everything, thus concluding that doubting implied a doubter, thus Descartes established the validity of his own existence. The psychologist and structuralist, Piaget, identified this experience as the center of functional activity, or the locus of the “constructionist self.” The philosopher, Sartre, labeled this experience the pre-reflective Cogito, thus recognizing that human consciousness is based in this experience. Of the three examples cited, only Sartre put the horse in front of the cart as opposed to (as they say) putting the cart before the horse. Non-being is the antecedent of understanding. Non-being is the antecedent of any stand alone “mental given.”

“Mental givens” are experienced front and center in consciousness (the unreflective consciousness) while not being the object of consciousness permits conscious reflection on the content of consciousness (the “mental given”). Functionally, ~bb, or the cognitive experience of discontinuity occurring in continuity, not only identifies the source of conceptual representation (symbolic meaning), it also explains why our thoughts should be able to represent the world outside our mind, especially when it comes to the application of mathematics to theories of physical phenomena. It should come as no surprise that since both the world and our ideas are coupled to the logical form of God, that, on many occasions, a necessary correspondence arises between logical form (deductive reasoning) and the physical events predicted by that form. In other words, the laws of nature correspond to the laws of mathematics reflected in our minds because both are based on a more fundamental law–the logical form of God becoming freer in the phenomenal world. Applying this supposition to the variances that crop up in comparisons of the physics of the macro world to the physics of the micro world produces some revealing insights. (Disclaimer here, I read books “about physics,” I am not physicist. The supposition I am defending, however, is that both the universe and our ideas are coupled to the logical form of God, thus the physics of the universe, on one level at least, must be describing the same phenomenon).

Determinism, locality and continuity allow for the reductionist methods of science to work only until science penetrates deep into that area where the integrity of the physical universe breaks down, where the deterministic motions of mass points no longer exist. At the depths of the material world there exists a fuzzy world that exhibits statistical behavior, behavior that only becomes determinate when we observe it. At this ground level, we find a physical reality with no uniquely determinable location, a physical reality that exists in several states at the same time, a physical reality structured by a mathematical equation. In God’s non-being, or, in this context I guess I should say, in the theory of freedom’s structural form, “two forms” stand out as a way to better understand the contradictory concepts which remain at odds with one another in the theory of relativity and quantum physics.

The same attributes (discontinuity, indeterminism and non-locality) that characterize self-consciousness, characterize also the “double negation” that serves as the ground of freedom. Both of these “forms” generate implication. At the “ground of freedom” implication remains open (until observed), while in self-consciousness, implication opens up the human world-historical-process. In other words, the negation that lies at the center of self-consciousness, the negation that permits our capacity to solve mathematical equations, lies also at the “ground that serves as the ground of freedom.” Because observation takes place in the space of continuity, determinism and locality (self-consciousness’s negative space) there is an unavoidable clash of worlds—the world of continuity, determinism and locality (relativity) clashes with the world of discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality (quantum physics). Bottom line here is that the theory of relativity accurately describes natural phenomena. Einstein’s equations, when applied to the world of physical events, provide accurate information concerning our status as participating agents in the physical universe. Likewise, quantum mechanics accurately describes natural phenomena. Only the phenomena being described are “fuzzy” because, as it is throughout freedom’s dialectic, the space that separates also embeds and connects. On the quantum level, self-consciousness confronts its own ground state in the form of the phenomenal strangeness of quantum physics.

Ultimately, from the most holistic of perspectives, what this connection—the connection that connects logical form, world, and freedom tells us—is that were it not for the negative space of determinism, continuity, and locality, the discontinuity, non-locality, and indeterminism of human consciousness (opposites are necessary to conserve wholeness)—would not be free in a world of our own experience (by degrees, experience of our own choosing)—seeking truth, justice, and religious meaning!

Summing up my worldview, the worldview of “forms” that, ultimately, culminate in Homo sapiens, the species that answers to the higher “Divine form” of God’s freedom—is: very close to what Wolfgang Pauli believed; Pauli, a Nobel Prize winner, earned a reputation for being a ruthless critic of ideas during the time when physics was birthing the principles governing sub atomic particles. His contributions were numerous, including the famous “exclusion principle” and the prediction of the existence of the neutrino. At the center of Pauli’s philosophical outlook was his “wish for a unitary understanding of the world, a unity incorporating the tension of opposites,” and he hailed the interpretation of quantum theory as a major development toward this end. (p. 173)

(The three physicists I paraphrase and quote here are described in Ken Wilber’s book: Quantum Questions, Mystical Writings of the World’s Greatest Physicists)

My worldview is also very sympathetic to the profound reverence Einstein held for rationality. Einstein believed that scientific knowledge ennobles true religion—not the religion that inspires fear in God, but rather a religion “capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself.” For Einstein, “the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence” was the highest religious attitude. (p.113)

But, even more than with Pauli and Einstein, my worldview resonates with what Arthur Eddington believed. He was possibly the first person to fully comprehend Einstein’s relativity theory. He also headed up the famous expedition that photographed the solar eclipse which offered proof of relativity theory. Eddington believed that if you want to fill a vessel you must first make it hollow. He also said, “our present conception of the physical world is hollow enough to hold almost anything,” hollow enough to hold “that which asks the question,” hollow enough to hold “the scheme of symbols connected by mathematical equations that describes the basis of all phenomena.” He also said, however, “If ever the physicist solves the problem of the living body, he should no longer be tempted to point to his result and say ‘That’s you.’ He should say rather ‘That is the aggregation of symbols which stands for you in my description and explanation of those of your properties which I can observe and measure. If you claim a deeper insight into your own nature by which you can interpret these symbols—a more intimate knowledge of the reality which I can only deal with by symbolism—you can rest assured that I have no rival interpretation to propose. The skeleton is the contribution of physics to the solution of the Problem of Experience; from the clothing of the skeleton it (physics) stands aloof.” (p. 194)

In my God argument above, without the Not-Me-Self, science, literature, ethics, all that gets called civilization, would not exist. The Not-Me-Self has an even greater significance though, for it implies the existence of the God that Is. The Implicative Affirmative of the Not-Me-Self is, in fact, the Logos image of God made whole in woman/man/humanity.

Inter-Connectivity Of Everything

November 27, 2011

 

 

 

Physics Discussion Concluded

The following is my own (possible) solution to the problems discussed in the physics discussion preceding this post. This post, by the way, will again be posted at the conclusion of my next and last physics discussion, which takes place high in the Canadian Rocky Mountains (also on this bicycle trip).

Nov. 2011

Dialectical Freedom’s Structural Form, b~b~bb, Summarized:

[From within the context of the b~b~bb structure, the “seeming contradictions” that separate Relativity physics from the physics of Quantum Mechanics become logically necessary. In fact, not only does this structure explain some of the weirdness associated with Quantum Mechanics, it also identifies the origin of logical thinking per se. Here’s a quick breakdown of the b~b~bb structure—reading from right to left this structure is describing discontinuity occurring in continuity—time of mind, (~bb). Because of this structure a person like René Descartes can express the truism “Cogito ergo sum,”– I think therefore I am. But, “time of mind” only accounts for half of the b~b~bb structure. “Time of mind” occurs within the universe at large, (b~b, continuity occurring in discontinuity) i.e., growth, decay, fission, fusion, etc.]

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained

“Relativity,” according to Laszlo (2004), “did away with space and time as the backdrop of deterministic motion of mass points, but it preserved the unambiguous description of the basic entities of the physical universe.” In my structural theory opposites are necessary in order to preserve “wholeness,” so discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality become just as essential for a description of the physical universe as determinism, continuity, and locality. Levels of negation, in this new theory, answer the question: Why do contradictory aspects separate micro universe from macro universe or, put another way, why are micro events probable and macro events deterministic? Predictions for micro and macro events are possible (micro probable, macro deterministic) because the evolution of the universe takes place in the space that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the structural space of logical implication. So now we may ask: What are the pre-conditions for this state of affairs?

Determinism, locality and continuity allow for reductionist methods of science to work; that is, until science penetrates deep into that area where the integrity of the physical universe breaks down, where the deterministic motions of mass points no longer exist. At the depths of the “material world” there exists a fuzzy world that exhibits only statistical behavior, behavior only when we observe it– when we separate ourselves from it. There we find a physical reality with no uniquely determinable location, a physical reality that exists in several states at the same time, a physical reality structured by a mathematical equation. In the theory of freedom’s structural form, two “forms” stand out as a way to better understand the contradictory concepts, which remain at odds with one another in the theory of relativity and quantum physics.

The same attributes (discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality) that characterize self-consciousness characterize also the “double negation” that serves as the ground of freedom. Both of these “forms” generate implication. At “ground” implication remains open, while in self-consciousness, implication opens up the human world-historical-process. In other words, the negation that lies at the center of self-consciousness, the negation that permits our capacity to solve mathematical equations, lies also at the “ground level” of our experience with quantum physics. Because observation takes place in the space of continuity, determinism and locality– self-consciousness’s negative space— there is an unavoidable clash of worlds—the world of continuity, determinism and locality (relativity) clashes with the world of discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality (quantum physics). Bottom line—the theory of relativity accurately describes natural phenomena. Einstein’s equations, when applied to the world of physical events, provide accurate information concerning our status as participating agents in the physical universe. Likewise, quantum mechanics accurately describes natural phenomena. Only the phenomena being described are “fuzzy” because, as it is throughout freedom’s dialectic, the space that separates also embeds and connects. In other words, on the quantum level, self-consciousness confronts its own ground condition in the form of the “phenomenal strangeness” of quantum physics.

Ultimately, from its most holistic perspective, dialectical freedom’s structural form tells us: Were it not for the negative space/condition of determinism, continuity, and locality, the human consciousness of discontinuity, non-locality, and indeterminism (opposites are necessary to conserve wholeness) would not be free in a world of our own experience (by degrees, experience of our own choosing), seeking truth, justice, and religious meaning.

The Language Of Freedom

June 11, 2011





While puzzling over how to respond to INspired Ink’s post, “The Here and Now”– A Post A Day 2011 post, I stumbled upon the following 2008 post of mine and thought it special enough to post again (my response to Ink’s post was a single paragraph response from the below post).

The Reciprocal Relationship Of Content/Form Interdependence

What’s Going On With These Posts—Are They Random, Directed, Or Something Else?

I think I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. If there’s a common theme running through these posts, it’s my quest to understand what I don’t understand. That said, in this post the suggestion is that I understand something, or, to put it more gently, what I haven’t understood so far, begins to make more sense if understood in the following way:

The subject of freedom is a major theme in my writing. Freedom, depending on its context, means many things to many people. Operationally speaking, though, we first encounter freedom as the freedom to act. Satisfying our biological needs frames this freedom. I associate Aristotle with this freedom because he was the first to recognize, as far as I can tell, the importance of the sensation/understanding connection. Freedom is not just a sensation, however. The freedom to avoid the unpleasant and pursue the pleasant has the indirect effect of creating the environment out of which all other freedoms are expressed.

On another level, a higher level, phenomenological freedom expresses the question that theoretical freedom answers (the freedom to be logically consistent). This answer, scientifically speaking, is verified through its reliable predictions as they relate to our aesthetic experience. This answer, sociologically speaking, allows for behavioral change and emotional growth. In other words, as a dynamic process, freedom (or lack there of) is continually being discovered in the “universal limiting space that defines it.” As knowledge accumulates, for instance, life’s expectations and goals may change. The value and meaning of relationships may change. What at one time was sought for pleasure and comfort may, with increased understanding, become unpleasant, and so on and so forth.

But there is another kind of freedom, one that escapes categorizations. This is Buddhist freedom– a freedom we cannot sense, a freedom that is by definition indeterminate. Even so, paradoxically, much has been said (and written) about this freedom. Fortunately, the Japanese sage, and student of Zen Buddhism, Nishida Kitaro, has discussed Buddhist freedom without venturing outside the “limiting space” framework of freedom.

Nishida went looking for “pure experience” and found it in the “absolute free will” emerging from and returning to absolute nothingness. Since Nishida wanted to communicate this realization, he created his own logic, the logic of basho, because he believed the only way to communicate ultimate reality—true selfhood, was through a rational methodology. To be fair, I think his logic referenced existence more than analysis, but when you need to communicate the reality at the center of the creative world, where “absolute free will” lives in the “eternal now,” analysis by itself just can’t do the job. Anyway, three categories distinguished Nishida’s logic: basho of being, basho of relative nothingness, and basho of absolute nothingness. (Most of my information on Nishida comes from the book, Great Thinkers Of The Eastern World, Ian P. McGreal, Editor, p. 384-5.

For me at least, basho logic seems to be describing three different levels of interconnectivity—the interconnectivity of three different “pulses of freedom.” The basho of being becomes the limiting space of existence while the basho of relative nothingness becomes the defining characteristic of that limitation. The basho of absolute nothingness, on the other hand, is the glue and ultimate reality that Nishida is trying to communicate. In this interconnectivity a dual purpose is at work. As the ground of everything, the logic of basho works to support and restrict all beings. Upon achieving a state of self-realization, however, one experiences the absolute interpenetration of nothingness with all the particular existents in the universe. According to Nishida, everything that Is, is within the interconnectivity of basho, and, at bottom, the “self as basho” identifies itself with all the existents and beings of the world. The “self as basho,” “self as absolute nothingness,’’ wakes to perfect freedom, perfect wisdom and perfect bliss.

The fact that language will not (can not) permit a description of “fully enlightened beings,” is what inspired Nishida to create his basho logic. Was he successful? I cannot say, but I’m glad he tried because the second major theme in my writing is to search out a language rich enough to express all of freedom’s ramifications. Next week’s blog, in fact, will be a good indication of just how far I’ve come in achieving that goal. Like Nishida, I believe that a sufficiently strong freedom language will incorporate logic, albeit a logic referencing existence and analysis, and the concepts of interconnectivity and interpenetration. This language will require also (for me at least) the concepts of transformation and reciprocity, more specifically, the reciprocity that exists structurally in content/form interdependence.

One of the things I’ve found intriguing is how certain conceptual forms can go through various transformations without loosing meaning, e.g. 2 means two, two also means 1+1=2, two also means 4-2= 2. In logic, in a like manner, A and ~A cannot exist at the same time (the law of non-contradiction wherein a statement and its negation cannot both be true and false at the same time), but, ~~A then A (the principle that any proposition implies and is implied by the negation of its negation) is perfectly true, e.g. it is the case that not, not A implies A.

Transformations like above are not limited to analysis. For instance, suppose that my own self-awareness was a product of mind and something else. Suppose also that this something else not only defined (formed) self-awareness, but also was responsible for the interconnectivity of my self-awareness across time, which is to say past mind events connect present mind events and present mind events connect future mind events in the same way that form interpenetrates content, i.e., the reciprocal relationship of content/form interdependence.

Self-awareness as a structured reciprocal relationship is not simply a product of my imagination; it surfaced for me after reading a book by Jean Piaget. Before I describe what I found in his book on Structuralism, here’s what the Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Vol. 6, p.306) has to say about what he studied: “Piaget examined the development of not only abstract concepts such as classes, relations, and numbers, but also physical concepts like space, time, atomism, conservation and chance, all of which he has regarded as constructed from behavioral activities.” My search for a vocabulary rich enough to describe freedom’s ramifications increased ten fold after reading Piaget.

The Psychologist, Jean Piaget, put the origin of structure and the symbolic content that it generates, in an organisms capacity for action. For Piaget then, the knowledge of our objective and subjective experience begins in the recognition and coordination of sensorimotor activity. By locating the source of cognitive structure in the sensorimotor activity of babies, Piaget opened up the possibility that “structure” was grounded in “nature”– not in “mind.” Through his investigations, he was able to show how the subject and object poles of experience are “products” of experience. In fact, what we typically call “normal cognitive skills,” for Piaget, is a product of necessary developmental stages, i.e. sensorimotor, representational, and formal operative. Only after the individual passes through theses stages does one acquire “normal cognitive skills.” The subject pole and object pole of a child’s experience remains undissociated early in the sensorimotor stage, but after passing through the stage of formal operations the child (8-12 year old), in his/her capacity to invoke reasoned judgments and deductive thought, is then able to conceptualize what is not perceived (e.g. principles of conservation, reversibility, transitivity, etc.). For Piaget then, cognitive-awareness is not something we are born with; rather it is the product of an ongoing developmental process. This is important because it tells us that logic stems from a sort of spontaneous organization of activity,– that the pre-condition for knowledge is an assimilation of a given external into the structures of the subject,– and that out of these subjective structures arise, phoenix like, the genesis of self-awareness. Thus, not only do we find the relationship of context/form interdependence in the ongoing activity of accommodation/assimilation of environment, we also find it in the relationship that binds natural structure to cognitive structure.

The mental event structure that we cognitively experience as “movement into the future” becomes (according to the way I understand Piaget) a product of the externally given context/form interdependent relationship of accommodation/assimilation. In the externally given accommodation/assimilation structure, accommodation is understood to be a change in the assimilated product of environmental interaction, i.e. acting on the past to create a present, and, likewise, assimilation is understood as an action actively reproduced in such a way as to incorporate new (accommodated) objects into one’s own assimilated experience, i.e. actualizing the potential to intelligently navigate a course through an uncertain future, thus, this externally given “structure” of accommodation/assimilation becomes (when subjectively internalized) what Piaget calls the center of functional activity, or, the context/form interdependent experience of “self” moving from past, to present, to future. However, to introduce a caveat that I believe any anthropologist would agree to, the capacity to dissociate one thing from another is itself a product of social evolution. The “self” experience of today is not the “self” experience of archaic people. Social consciousness is intimately connected with its environment, and only gradually, through the process of reification, does that environment become externalized as an object of consciousness. In other words, today what is perceived in clarity and sharpness was, for archaic people, perceived as a relatively undifferentiated whole. The evolution of mind then, in addition to evolving structurally, “in time,” also evolves linearly, “across time.”

The question that still needs to be answered is where exactly is Piaget’s “self” located? According to Piaget, “the center of functional activity is not located in the traditional ‘me space’ that we so often take for granted; nor is it located in the ‘lived space’ that is described in the works of various existentialists; nor is it located in the positivists physico-chemical brain activity,” Nietzsche’s will to power, Marx’s economic determinate, or Durkheim’s normative order etc. Rather, Piaget locates his “constructionist self,” in general terms, “somewhere midway between the nervous system and conscious behavior (because) ‘psychology is first of all a biology.”’ To be more specific, however, Piaget locates the “constructionist self” in the structure of content/form interdependence. Piaget explains:

“But what manner of existence is left, then, for the mind, if it is neither social, nor mental in the subjective sense, nor organic?

…If it is, as Levi-Strauss says, necessary to ‘reintegrate content with form,’ it is no less essential to recall that neither forms nor contents exist per se: in nature as in mathematics every form is content for ‘higher’ forms and every content form of what it ‘contains’….

This uninterrupted process of coordinating and setting in reciprocal relations is the true ‘generator’ of structures as constantly under construction and reconstruction. The subject exists because, to put it very briefly, the being of structures consists in their coming to be, that is, their being ‘under construction.”’ [Piaget, Structuralism, p. 112]

If Piaget is right, and intelligence is an extension of natural structure then intelligence arises, phoenix like, from natural structure, but, suppose intelligence (rather than arising from structure) was, just as Piaget believed, contained in the structure of content/form interdependence, and here’s where it gets somewhat tricky,
what if this content/form interdependence became self-conscious, and, this self-consciousness then became the “start up” of human intelligence, and/or what Piaget calls the center of functional activity.

This is a bit much to take in, to be sure, but that is what I will write about in next week’s blog. In closing, I want to end this blog with a modern day description of self-awareness, one that also upholds the idea that human intelligence is a product of context/form interdependence.

Identifying Jean Paul Sartre’s philosophy as structuralism is, I am aware, pushing the envelope. However, an authority on structuralism has proposed this option (without, I might add, elaborating on it.) “One might go as far as to say…that structuralism is analogous to Sartre’s view of consciousness — it is what it is not, and it is not what it is.” [Jean-Marie Benoist, A Structural Revolution, p. 1] In Sartre’s book Being And Nothingness, his chapter on Being-For-Itself is subtitled “Immediate Structures of the For-Itself.” [Jean-Paul Sartre, Being And Nothingness, p. 119] Structure is not hidden in Sartre; it’s just that on the whole Sartre’s book is a polemic against reading structure as anything more than appearance.

In the representation of Sartre’s thought as “consciousness is what it is not, and it is not what it is,” we find reciprocal movement, the same reciprocal movement encountered, in Piaget’s content/form interdependence. Specifically, Sartre defines the consciousness of the transcending For-itself (our self-space) as: “Consciousness is a being such that in its being, its being is in question in so far as this being implies a being other than itself.” (Ibid. p. 801) [As far as I am concerned this for-itself concept, and much of what is also written in Being And Nothingness, is as much a product of the thought of Simone deBeauvoir, Sartre’s life long confident, as it was the creation of Jean Paul Sartre. Throughout the writing of the book she (PhD in Philosophy) was his sounding board, and editor. Unlike Sartre, she stayed committed to this philosophy until she died.) In an extrapolation on Sartre’s definition of consciousness, Benoist describes the relationship inherent in consciousness as: “it is what it is not, and it is not what it is.” My own reading of this relationship is: being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is. In either case, however, we end up with a description of content/form interdependence.

This double movement is represented on many levels in Sartre’s exegesis on being and nothingness. This double movement becomes very specific in Sartre’s description of his pre-reflective Cogito. In so far as we find ”nothingness” at the center of Cogito, consciousness per se must be understood to be set apart from itself, therefore, Sartre’s pre-reflective Cogito will always form one pole of our conscious experience while the “objects” of consciousness will take their place at the other pole of conscious experience. This condition, where the pre-reflective Cogito becomes the preexistent structure for conscious awareness of objects, is another way of arriving at what Piaget called the center of functional activity. Depending on where “you” focus your concern, the content of consciousness is either pushed to the front of consciousness (the unreflective consciousness), or, the object of consciousness is pushed into the background, as the “negation of consciousness” is brought into the foreground (the reflected upon object of consciousness).

Together, our pre-reflective Cogito and the object of consciousness form our conscious experience of the knower-known dyad– content/form interdependence. In so far as this double movement turns on the pivot point of pure negation, the known exists for the knower, but the knower can never be fully known. As self-consciousness rises in consciousness, it is denied the possibility of becoming fully self-aware. This result, the incompleteness of self, brings us back to Sartre’s original definition of consciousness, or, “consciousness is such that in its being its being is in question in so far as this being implies a being other than itself.” This center of functional activity, this content/form interdependence that makes thinking possible, this symbol-generating movement of free thought that emancipates language, myth, science, and morality, pushes and pulls self-awareness down the road that hopefully leads to a more civilized society. In the absence of this center of functional activity, “thinking” is restricted to the manipulation of signs—mere sensual indicators, minus the symbols that carry the significance of those same indicators. In other words, in the absence of this center of functional activity, language becomes severely limited, if not impossible.

Self-consciousness emerges where the center of functional activity– begins. This experience comes with a price. As individuals, we are condemned to be free. In the words of Sartre, we must perpetually “confront the world and self as a lack,” and, because of this, we cannot escape responsibility for our choices. Irregardless of how we choose to act, we must take responsibility for our choice. For Sartre, responsibility lies in the chosen act and therefore can never be separated from the person who chooses. If, on the other hand, we happen to be living in the episteme that the postmodernist Foucault characterized as, “belonging to the questioning of that to which one belongs,” then responsibility becomes absorbed into the power/knowledge relationship of “responsible to whom for what ends.” Certainly Foucault argues this position and, I might add, it is not a coincidence that Foucault characterized the modern episteme as “man’s obsession with what eludes him.” Just as I am sure that Foucault read Sartre, I am also sure that Foucault’s description of epistemes is off the mark and here’s why:

While Sartre has delineated the not-self and the consequences that follow from not-self in our everyday world of social interaction, he stops far short of identifying the structure of his pre-reflective Cogito— the content/form interdependence that constitutes self-awareness—with what Piaget called natural structure. The short answer here is that content/form interdependence encompasses both nature and human consciousness– as the “innate structuring capacity of all structures,” and this will be the subject of next week’s blog.

Existence God Structure Logic Love

September 18, 2010

Early on I identified with agnosticism, – an escape from what I had been taught. But, I continued to study religion–aesthetic traditions, philosophy of, and Christianity. However, the religion/God that, for me, is spot on, not only affirms God’s existence, but also demonstrates a consistency and coherence with events— predictable scientific events. What follows is a brief description/explanation of the God that Is. (Inspiration for this post came from a Google search on the principle of double negation.)

Ideal Meanings

The necessary elements of every assertion are based on “ideal meanings” that fill our perceptions with meaning. This process, over time, alters both the meaning and the content of our perceptual field. But, what it comes down to is testing the deductive consequences of those “ideal meanings” against the sensual contents in the field of our perceptions. For instance, consider that space, as an ontological entity, in the theory of general relativity, doesn’t exist. The being of space has been replaced with purely methodological considerations. What space ‘is,’ or whether any definite character can be attributed to it, is no longer a concern. Rather, we must be concerned with the geometrical presuppositions, the “ideal meanings” that get used in the interpretation of the phenomena that we ascribe to nature according to law. And further, at the quantum level, as far as a person’s limited reason is concerned, there is no quantum world, just an abstract quantum physical description. In other words, over time, both knowledge and the perceived field that we find ourselves in changes.

God’s Structure

The structure of God that explains why the physical universe is comprehensible, why the mind will never stop explaining things, and why mathematics (both present and not yet invented) will continue to explore imagined possibilities, arises from God’s structure, a structure rooted in the freedom to be free.

God is structured through negation—event structuring negations which circumscribe all physical, biological, and psychological events. Human self-consciousness is a product of negation; the evolving universe is a product of negations. When it comes to understanding “why negations,” the distinguished astronomer and Pulitzer-prize winner, Carl Sagan, said it best: “We are the universe’s way of understanding itself.” Bottom line, though, is that our participation in this process and the universe’s participation in this process are rooted in “divine liberation/structure,” or the freedom to be free.

So what exactly is this structure that logically implies God’s existence, the natural world, life, self-consciousness, and liberation, the liberation that produces the ups and downs of civilization? The source of this structure may be traced to the principle of double negation! The following is cut and paste description of this principle:

[Double Negation Principle

The principle that, for any proposition P, P logically implies not-not-P, and not-not-P logically implies P.
Classical logic accepts both these halves of the principle, but intuitionist logic accepts only the first half, and not the second. This is because it accepts the law of contradiction (and so, given P, cannot allow not-P), but rejects the law of excluded middle (and so, given not-not-P, does not consider itself forced to accept P).]

In God’s structure the not-not-P that logically implies P becomes not-not-God therefore God, and this structure sustains the universe. This structure is frozen in time (synchronic), but the “awareness of the implication of P,” is both a product of synchronic and diachronic evolution (time-dependent evolution). To be sure, humans are a product of the evolution of star-stuff, but they are also a product of the isomorphic transformations of structure (transformation is the medium of synchronic movement and transformation need not be a temporal process: 1+1=2; 6 divided by 2=3; clearly, the “following and making” here meant, are not temporal processes. The law of intelligibility is the foundation of all “laws”). These changes that occur in divine structure are real, yet, at the same time, they conserve the not-not-P structure that implies God. In the structure of divinity, existence, or that which is identified as existence, remains circumscribed by the ~~P therefore “G” structure.

God, by any other name, is the “affirmative ideal,” but this is not the end of it. Star-stuff evolution moves from simple to complex over time. When existence, circumscribed by the ~~p structure achieves sufficient complexity, two significant events occur. First, the structure of ~~p reboots into a higher ~pp structure which, in turn, circumscribes more complex forms of existence, i.e., life. The ~p in this higher structure conserves the ground structure of ~~p, or, in other words, death/decay preserves the divine structure of ~~p, therefore “G.” A major liberation occurs, however, when ~~p becomes P, i.e., the implied “G” of ~~p becomes alive—and “life” continues the simple to complex movement!

The first structural liberation occurs between ~~p and ~pp, but the second structural liberation (the one that produces human consciousness) occurs, after a sufficient diachronic complexity is achieved, when ~pp reboots to p~p~pp (or when the now liberated ~pp structure experiences discontinuity in continuity, or “time of mind consciousness” occurring in the higher negative space of p~p). The higher negative space of p~p conserves the structure of God while the ~pp structure, in turn, liberates the “affirmative ideal” (God by any other name) in human self-consciousness.

The Meaning and Significance of the P~P~PP God Structure

We might ask, what does the God structure of p~p~pp mean in ordinary language? Our “time of mind steam of consciousness” is embedded in a physical event. Physical events take place within our perceptual field (sensory experience) and are identified, scrutinized, and categorized within our “time of mind” experience. F. S. Northop says it best when he says, “To be any complete thing is to be not merely an immediately experienced, aesthetically and emotionally felt thing, but also to be what hypothetically conceived and experimentally verified theory designates” (The Meeting Of East And West, p. 450). In other words, divine structure leaves us with the same “reality,” i.e., an awareness of the physical processes that constitute the material world—the same world we were “schooled in and grew up in,” or, it leaves us with what can be inferred from the structure of God described above. (I’m sure different inferences can be made from the above description, but that is what “time of mind” is all about—testing the consistency and coherence of ideas in the market place of critical thinking and debate).

What the God Structure Tells Us About Ourselves and Love

God’s logical consistency is connected necessarily to the evolution of everything that we know about the universe, i.e., connected necessarily to all the possibilities of human behavior EXCEPT the behaviors that contradict God’s self-consistency, e.g., behavior that takes life unnecessarily, behavior that causes unnecessary suffering, behavior that does harm to the environment–harm to that which preserves and perpetuates freedom, life, love, and reverence for the God that makes “all” possible.

And, speaking of love, God’s structure not only finds a place for love, LOVE, ultimately, becomes the most significant experience possible. True, love’s meaning is embedded in “time of mind,” but the experience of love enters through the negative space of “time of mind”– the space of the aesthetic continuum, which, structurally, implies the existence of God. In terms of God’s structure, “time of mind” is the source of meaningful symbol creation, which, in turn, opened the door to the creation of language, myth, religion, art, theoretical knowledge, and the rest of the civilizing processes that we call civilization. But, this ongoing self-liberation is not only embedded in civilization, it is also embedded in the aesthetic continuum where the true meaning of life can be found. The gorgeous sunset that sometimes swells our eyes to tears is not just a product of the spinning earth; it is also part of the spontaneous, pulsating, emotion that flows from the whole of the aesthetic continuum. Inspiration for the poet, painter, and musician comes not from cerebral musings, but rather from the empowering emotion that inspires life, imagination, and awe. The strength and resolve necessary to create a better world is not found in analysis and calculation, but rather in the empowering emotion that calls us to love, beauty and truth. The immediately grasped, emotionally moving ground out of which all things arise–the aesthetic component of our experience–beckons us to seek the impossible, express the unspeakable, and imagine the inconceivable.

William James held that “stream of consciousness” is comprised of both thinking and feeling elements. Feeling, for James, participates in knowledge and understanding. Echoing this sentiment, in his article, Reason and Feeling, Professor Creighton describes how feeling animates mind:

“In the development of mind, feeling does not remain a static element, constant in form and content at all levels, but…is transformed and disciplined through its interplay with other aspects of experience…Indeed, the character of the feeling in any experience may be taken as an index of the mind’s grasp of its object; at the lower levels of experience, where the mind is only partially or superficially involved, feeling appears as something isolated and opaque, as the passive accompaniment of mere bodily sensations…In the higher experiences, the feelings assume an entirely different character, just as do the sensations and other contents of mind.”
(Susanne K. Langer, Philosophy In A New Key, p. 100)

And further, F.S. Northrop, in the quote below, emphasizes the spiritual relevance of the aesthetic continuum, and the trans-formative value of feeling and emotion, when he states:

“Now it is precisely this ineffable, emotional, moving quale that constitutes what is meant by spirit and the spiritual. Thus in order to do justice to the spiritual nature of human beings and of all things it is not necessary to have recourse to idle speculations, by means of which one tries to pierce through the glass beyond which we now see darkly, to supposedly unaesthetic material substances behind, or into some unreachable and unknowable realm where mental substances are supposed to be. On the contrary, the spiritual, the ineffable, the emotionally moving, the aesthetically vivid—the stuff that dreams and sunsets and the fragrance of flowers are made of—is the immediate, purely factual portion of human nature and the nature of all things. This is the portion of human knowledge that can be known without recourse to inference and speculative hypotheses and deductive logic, and epistemic correlations and rigorously controlled experiments. This we have and are in ourselves and in all things, prior to all theory, before all speculation, with immediacy and hence with absolute certainty.” (The Meeting of East and West, p.462)

However, I think Jesus of Nazareth said it best when he said “Love God with all your heart and do on to others as you would have others do on to you.” Love animates and grows the spirit and the spiritual. Without it there would be no work ethic, no survival. Where LOVE burns brightest, that is where the Absolute Affirmation reigns supreme. It is love that must be affirmed. Liberation moves God’s structure forward, but LOVE is the real liberator. Lover and beloved become as one in love. All opposites come together in love. There is no substitute for love. Love is the greatest apperception. Freedom, beauty, and completeness are embedded there; the psychic and the cosmic are embedded there. It is the same in death as in life!

The “Time Of Mind” Concept in the Literature of Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, and Science

We have come to the end of this post—finally. And yet, I still feel the need to say one last thing about “time of mind;” in a survey of some literature, one can find support for the “time of mind” concept, albeit, support framed in terms of the consequences of “time of mind,” not it’s structure. Anyway, thanks goes out to all who have read this far, and if interested, my blog, for the most part, is a recollection of the history that has allowed me to write this blog.

Since one might not be familiar with how the “time of mind” concept (discontinuity occurring in continuity) plays out in the literature, here are a few examples from the literature of philosophy, sociology, psychology, and science. For instance, Descartes’ cogito ergo sum “I think (doubt), therefore I am,” is obviously impregnated with the experience of the “affirmative ideal” experience, impregnated with the discontinuity of doubt/negation occurring in the continuity of “the affirmation of existence in order to doubt existence). And further, in Sartre’s definition of consciousness: “Consciousness is a being such that in its being its being implies a being other than itself,” the experience of discontinuity occurring in continuity, for Sartre, becomes the defining condition of a self-conscious person. And again, in psychology, every time the subject is identified as “coming to be,” or “under construction” discontinuity occurring in continuity/the affirmative ideal is what is being discussed. In fact, Piaget’s concept of “self” is defined as “the center of functional activity.” And, again in Sociology, where Thom focuses his studies on the “the overcoming of the primitive ambivalence or opposition between the modes of difference and no difference, and, in a like manner, where Simmel focuses his studies on “man as both the fixing of boundaries and the reaching out across these boundaries—the language of discontinuity occurring in continuity is front and center in the discussion. And lastly, in the physics of the quantum particles, where the collapse of the wave function is observer generated, we are not only witnessing the language of the “affirmative ideal,” we are witnessing (with each collapse of the wave function) empirical evidence supporting the claim that God exists in the structure of human self-consciousness, i.e., GOD INCARNATED.

The Hard Problem Of Consciousness

August 29, 2010


The Hard Problem Of Consciousness

“The famous philosopher of mind, John Searle, said, “Not only do we have no idea what consciousness is, we have no idea of what it would be like to have an idea of what consciousness is.”

Saint Augustine had an idea: Consciousness is our Soul, and exists by direct connection to the Mind of God. The Catholic Church is willing to accept evolution of the human body, but not the conscious mind or soul. Descartes just posited mind, Res Cogitans in his famous dualism of Res Extensa — i.e. matter and machines including the human body, and Res Cogitans, the conscious mind.

Modern Connectionists often equate consciousness as another emergent property of sufficiently complex computational systems. I worry, since water buckets by the millions pouring water into one another above and below a bucket level threshold for 1 or 0 could be a complex computer. I just have a hard time believing they would be conscious…..” (by Stuart Kauffman, NPR blog entitled The Hard Problem: Consciousness)

These days I spend my computer time looking for appropriate subjects (blogs) to comment on. Typically, after a bit of introduction, my comments take the form of cut and pastes from my blog. I am about to enter the changing life experience of retirement, so maybe I’ll find the time to blog again—I can’t say for sure. Anyway, yesterday I posted a comment on Reijo’s blog (see below) and today I googled “consciousness blog ontology” and came across the NPR blog noted above. When I started to leave my comment on the NPR blog I discovered “comments closed.” So here I am with no place to go except my own blog. I found the comments under the NPR blog interesting, especially the one’s that protested the use of “quantum fuzziness” to suggest the consciousness/physics connection. Here’s an example:

“This discussion reminds me of the early 20th century search for the “ether” through which electromagnetic waves propagate. There was compelling reason for the search for ether, as radiation behaves much like matter waves (which propagate through matter). However there should be no reason to search for any ontological possibilities through which quantum waves “wave” as they are complex and thus have no physical meaning. Schroedinger’s equation and its solutions are only tools by which to understand physical phenomenon.

In short, I think the logic is fuzzy.”—Colin Clement

What the above comment suggests to me is that QM is describing a physical universe, albeit one different from the classical one we live in, but nevertheless one that we discover as opposed to the one that some people believe identities the consciousness/physical reality interdependent connection. But then, a few pages over in the NPR blog you find this comment by Pankaj Seth:

“We have theories about a lifeless, insentient early universe, early earth but they have been established due to inference, and obviously not direct perception… these theories rely upon the assumption of a fundamental duality between matter and mind. When we try to isolate matter apart from consciousness, we can do it from the POV of the I-self witnessing the classical world, but when we dig deeper as in QM, we cannot establish such a duality between the perceived matter and the perceiving consciousness. There is a duality at the sensory, I-self level (and hence the evolution of the early universe and life… . Similarly, it is found in Buddhist and Yogic meditation practice that at the depth of self-experience, there is a non-duality between perceiver and perceived… “Nothing perceived is independent of perception.”

What I am suggesting below is a structured universe which, at the appropriate structural level, acquires the ability to focus in on the different layers of the structured universe’s contents. In this respect, think of this ability (self-consciousness) as the lens that accounts for knowing consciousness, a consciousness that informs on the different levels of the universe, i.e., informs on the quantum, biological, and psychological levels of the universe. In this way, we come to the experience and understanding of a universe of content, a universe of structure, a universe that preserves the integrity of the Affirmative Ideal, and a universe that answers Heidegger’s question: “Why are there beings at all instead of nothing.”

So now we come to the comment that inspired this blog. Below is my response to Reijo’s comment concerning my comment on nothingness– Nothingness by calthai

Thanks for the interesting comment. Parmenides was right, “what is not, is not,” but that is definitively not the end of it.

It certainly is true that (not not) interesting implies the word interesting, but, similarly, I would like to suggest that “being what is not while not being what is” implies something akin to Parmenides’ plenitude/being. While reading Sartre’s Being And Nothingness, I wrote the following:

“Being-in-itself (Sartre’s concept of being) cannot be defined because language is ‘definition dependent,’ while Being just is (is free of dependence). I wonder if Sartre, in this respect, was influenced by Parmenides’ poem. In Parmenides’ ‘way of truth’ being was beyond description. Time, plurality and motion, all aspects of duality, were not compatible with Being. Although I don’t understand why, knowledge was considered an extension of Being in Parmenides philosophy. For Sartre, if you strip away all determinate characteristics and all those meanings which are due to human interpretation, you are left with being-in-itself.”

In today’s world, we do not give much thought to concepts that cannot be defined. That said, the notion of “wholeness” has found its way into the lexicon of scientific theories. When solving relativistic space-time problems, the geometry of the space-time continuum supersedes all notions of the physical nature of space and time. Likewise, at the quantum level of applied physics, the uncertainty relationships (Heisenberg), particle probabilities (the decoherence problem) and the non-local universe (Bell/Aspect results), when taken into account, suggest the existence of a universe-wide connectiveness. Given this turn of events, I will describe in next few paragraphs not only the “wholeness aspect of Being” that is consistent with Sartre’s philosophy (its ontological aspect), Parmenides’ Being, and the universe of connectiveness, but also how this “wholeness aspect of Being” expresses itself in the unique relationship that is up-right walking, language speaking, analytical thinking, empathy feeling, imaginative, curious, and goes by the name–human being. Thanks for the opportunity to post. (Sorry for the length, I only post when inspired—thanks for that too).

I want to begin my discussion of structured existence by revealing its shape. It looks like the letter v. The first thing to notice about the V is its openness. This openness moves the content of existence forward; in fact, one is tempted to say that “to be free” is why existence exists. Science does a good job explaining the content of existence, but it is severely challenged when it comes to explaining the “otherness of existence,” or the liberating process that structures existence. As existence and liberation move up the V, freedom expands. Freedom expands diachronically at each level of structure (think evolution here), but, over time, lower level structure becomes “content” for higher level structure (Piaget). At each “step up” freedom yields a new synchronic (frozen in time) structure, one that, although different from the lower structure, still preserves the integrity of the lower structure while structuring a whole new dimension of freedom. This process continues until it reaches the level of freedom (content) that occurs among symbol generating, language speaking life forms. Yes, that be “us.” So let’s take a look at this process that moves existence forward and expands freedom in a little more detail.

Let the V image represent the liberation of the “otherness of existence.” Let one side of the V represent the empirical world (aesthetic continuum) and the other freedom. Identify the vertex, the bottom of V, as ~~b (not, not-being is the structure of existence, not the content). The “double negative” characterizes the entire V, and implies that which exists outside the V– the Affirmative Ideal (Piaget), or, more to the point, an affirmation of the Affirmative Ideal. In other words, the V and all that it represents/manifests, via the “double negative,” connects/embeds everything to everything else, first through the empirical world and second through the Affirmative Ideal. In terms of quantum strangeness this state of affairs is revealing. But, this is only the first structural level; the second level occurs somewhere above the V vertex.

On the liberation side of the V, let the letter b represent the more liberated form of the “otherness of existence” (life is the content) and ~b, (~b on the empirical side of the V,–~bb is the structure of life), represent the conservation of the integrity of the Affirmative Ideal vis-à-vis the space that separates, embeds, and connects. The word most often used to describe this condition, however, is death. Albeit, life, now firmly established, moves freedom forward until an even more liberated form of the “otherness of existence” emerges.

Let b~b~bb represent this highly evolved form of structured existence. We are familiar with this structure because it represents the participatory moment of a conscious being where b~b (on the empirical side of the V) represents the existence of embodied self-conscious and ~bb (on the freedom side of the V represents the participatory moment of “time of mind”—the conscious content of a thinking human being). With the advent of self-consciousness, freedom moves forward and the V grows larger and wider as the story of civilization unfolds (unfortunately, sometimes the story of civilization takes two or three steps backward before forward momentum is restored).

In summation, the b~b~bb structure liberates the interplay of self-consciousness and environment. Embedded in the physical environment (b~b), human self-consciousness (~bb) creatively reaches out for the accouterments and the necessities of life while at the same time generating new (and sometimes logically precise) meanings that give content and “color” to all perceptions–a percept is product. This creativity, in our cosmopolitan world, gets identified with technological advances, beauty (art) and ethics—all of which can be measured against the significance of b~b~bb—the most potentially expressive product of freedom’s dialectic. Someday, perhaps, the day will come when people will thirst for cooperation, education and shared resources in the same way that today they thirst for power, wealth, and fame.

The Logic Divinity Connection

June 27, 2010


The Myth of Religious Neutrality

Here’s a blog from Matthewherring’s Weblog. My comment is under it.

[Many thanks to Ioana for her notes!]

Last Tuesday, Ioana and I went to a lecture at WYSOCS by Professor Roy Clouser, author of The Myth of Religious Neutrality. He’s a great speaker, who kept our attention through some pretty heavy stuff (mathematics, logic). Here’s a short summary of what he said.

Every theory we hold is based on a ‘Divinity Belief’. This includes both consciously held and unconscious beliefs. We may disagree on who is divine, but we all know what it means to be divine. Clouser defined the Divine as that reality which is self-existent and everything else that is not divine depends on it. Others have approached the same definition by speaking of ‘the Absolute’, or ‘the Ultimate Reality’, or ‘the Unconditionally Non-dependent’. Thus, such things as worship, or ethics, are not necessary for a belief to be considered religious (not all religions involve worship or ethics, e.g. Theraveda Buddhism) and certain beliefs (e.g. atheism, materialism) not normally considered to be religious beliefs can now be counted as religious beliefs (because even atheists believe that something is self-existent, usually matter, physics or the like). Hence the title: it is a myth that anyone can be religiously neutral, or, put a different way, that secular society represents the base norm and religious beliefs are an essentially unnecessary, but troublesome, add-on.

A Divinity Belief lies at the core of every theory and the outcome of their arguments. This is inescapable. One’s worldview consists of one’s answer to these three questions: 1) what is divine? 2) how does everything else relate to the divine? 3) how should human beings live in order to be in a correct relationship to the divine. The atheist is subject to this just as much as the ‘religious’ person: an atheistic materialist might answer question 1 by saying that matter and physics are that reality which ‘just exists’. Therefore everything else that exists, including us, exists because matter and physics exist. How should human beings live in the light of that? Well, for one, they should stop worrying about any notion of heaven, hell and divine judgement and just live for this life!

Clouser goes further than linking Divinity Beliefs to big, worldview-scale beliefs, but goes on to say that all beliefs are conditioned by one’s Divinity Belief, even ostensibly neutral or trivial ones. The counter argument which is presented against this is that 1+1=2 is the same, regardless of your Divinity Belief. An atheist believes that 1+1=2 just the same as an animist, or a Christian. Clouser addressed this counter argument by asking the question, ‘what is a number?’ Throughout the history of mathematics there have been various answers to this question. Pythagoras, Plato, Leibnitz and others believed that numbers existed in a higher, more perfect world – the number world theory. Thus, Leibnitz would say that 1+1 would =2 even if there were no things to count or people to count them. Numbers are the self-existent reality. The second theory of numbers was that held by Bertrand Russell, namely that there are no numbers; numbers and mathematical laws are simply shorthand for logic. Therefore, the self-existent reality is logic itself. A third theory, held by John Stuart Mill, is that numbers are just our generalisation of what we see. They are based on sensation and observation – sensation is the self-existent reality. John Dewey believed that the marks we call numbers stand for nothing. Asking whether 1+1=2 is true or not is asking the wrong question. Mathematics is a tool: one doesn’t ask if a tool is ‘true’ or not, but what job the tool does. Our beliefs are tools to help us survive and thrive; we are animals who invent tools. Then there are formalists and intuitionists – the latter reject the logical formulation which goes, “either P or Q; it’s not P so it must be Q” and thus reject a whole school of mathematics. Leibnitz believed that negative numbers don’t actually exist – we just make them up, so 4-8=-4 doesn’t have the same status in truth as 1+1=2 (if you believe that numbers derive from quantity you also have to come to this conclusion, because you can’t have -4 apples. You can owe someone 4 apples, but the owed apples don’t actually exist). Some languages don’t have words for numbers over 3. If 1+1=2 is problematic once one starts asking what a number actually ‘is’, then for higher mathematics, which Divinity Belief you hold makes a huge amount of difference.

Addressing the question of how we acquire our Divinity Beliefs, Professor Clouser stated that knowledge is not by faith. It’s the other way round: we have faith because we know who god (or God) is. Fitting it into the Christian framework of the Fall, we were created with knowledge of God. The Fall consisted in our wilfully replacing God with some other object (a cover for our real aim: putting ourselves on the throne). Romans chapter 1, in the Bible, states that mankind suppresses the knowledge of God. We are made with antennae for picking up knowledge of God. With the Fall, these became distorted and now focus on other things and can only be fixed by the intervention of the Holy Spirit. As to why some people latch onto one god and others to a different god, Professor Clouser said that this was something that one could not know (or at least he didn’t). However, he did venture that our Divinity Beliefs chose us rather than the other way round. Certain beliefs just seem self-evidently ‘right’ to us – hence the person brought up to be a devout Jew who encounters a materialistic professor at university and goes, “That’s it! That’s what I’ve always thought!” And the penny drops. To this extent, our beliefs are not under the control of our will (try making yourself believe something that is self-evidently not true).

Lastly, Professor Clouser proposed a thought-experiment for telling whether a Divinity Belief is true or not. Think about some aspect of reality (Clouser’s example was his glass of water) and strip away everything except the self-existent reality (in other words, our ‘fictions’ about that thing). Taking the example of the glass and the belief of materialism, that means stripping away notions like beauty. It also means stripping away quantity. Then shape. Then position in space. And so on. If you strip away everything but matter away from the glass, you end up with nothing, because nothing is exclusively material. (I’m not sure I understood this test – surely something has a particular shape because of the matter it is made of – but this is what he seemed to be saying. Perhaps he’s saying that, in the final analysis, shape doesn’t exist if the ultimate reality is just ‘matter’ in its generality and the particulars of this particular piece of matter are not germane to that. If you strip away everything but matter, you end up actually with nothing. I think he’s saying that nothing but God is adequate as a ground for reality).

******

After the lecture, Ioana and I cycled down into the centre of Leeds (from Horsforth, where WYSOCS is based). This was really good fun. We passed Kirkstall Abbey. Bits of Leeds reminded me of Glasgow – we passed the ends of a lot of Victorian brick tenements on streets which climbed steeply upwards from the main road. There’s something about the space of those sort of streets that I really like. You could see into the rooms of the flats on the end: people’s intimate lives separated from a busy thoroughfare by nothing but a few inches of brick. The contrast between the intimacy of the rising street, with its front steps, gardens, windows, neighborhood dogs and trees, and the anonymous rush of the main road.

bwinwnbwi’s comment

I agree Matthew–we cannot be religiously neutral (great blog by the way). Professor Clouser’s lecture pushed so many of my buttons that before this comment ends you will have a good summary concerning the significance of all of my blogs and my beliefs, and, I also agree that. my beliefs chose me and not the other way around–not because I’m an easy catch, but because the answers to questions I brought to the table of inquiry ended up painting an unmistakable picture of divinity!

1) I also agree with this: “It is a myth that anyone can be religiously neutral, or, put a different way, that secular society represents the base norm and religious beliefs are an essentially unnecessary, but troublesome, add-on.”

2) For me, God is logic and because of this our beliefs make sense to us, but they must also be held accountable to the rules of “non-contradiction” and consistency. In other words, what makes sense to us must conform to what makes logical sense. I agree with Bertrand Russell here, “namely that there are no numbers; numbers and mathematical laws are simply a shorthand for logic. Therefore, the self-existent reality is logic itself.”

3) God, again for me, is affirmation. As you have already said: “If you strip away everything but matter, you end up actually with nothing. I think he’s saying that nothing but God is adequate as a ground for reality)”. Arthur Eddington said it best when he said:

“If you want to fill a vessel you must first make it hollow. Our present conception of the physical world is hollow enough to hold almost anything, hollow enough to hold ‘that which asks the question,’ hollow enough to hold ‘the scheme of symbols connected by mathematical equations that describes the basis of all phenomena.’” He also said, however, “If ever the physicist solves the problem of the living body, he should no longer be tempted to point to his result and say ‘That’s you.’ He should say rather ‘That is the aggregation of symbols which stands for you in my description and explanation of those of your properties which I can observe and measure. If you claim a deeper insight into your own nature by which you can interpret these symbols—a more intimate knowledge of the reality which I can only deal with by symbolism—you can rest assured that I have no rival interpretation to propose. The skeleton is the contribution of physics to the solution of the Problem of Experience; from the clothing of the skeleton it (physics) stands aloof.” (Quantum Questions, Wilber, p. 194)

4) I agree that one’s worldview is based on your three questions and here they are with my brief answer to each one: 1) What is divine?….logical structure/b~b~bb, freedom/liberation, emotion/love, affirmation/wholeness. 2) How does everything else relate to the divine?….through the logical structure of b~b~bb, i.e., wholeness/affirmation, life/death, and self/consciousness/affirmed physical events. 3) How should human beings live in order to be in a correct relationship to the divine?….not an easy answer, but here’s what I have said elsewhere:

We struggle to become educated and, in the process, obtain reasonable beliefs that endure. However, when faced with blatant evidence to the contrary our beliefs may change (ought/need to change). In the absence of contradictions, though, we choose to believe emotionally fulfilling beliefs. In conclusion (and without embellishment), here is a list of reasons why I find my worldview emotionally satisfying. Oh, and by the way, this is also my reasoning for why some values are not culturally relative:

1) Religion and science are brought into harmony; that is, they may be equally reverenced without conflict. 2) Because human self-awareness, life, and the physical-chemical processes that support life, are all embedded in divine extensive connection, humans are born with the potential to right the wrongs caused by “ignorance based injustices.” 3) The values used to judge right from wrong follow from the extensive connection process; that is, values used to judge right from wrong are life affirming and freedom affirming values. In other words, in terms of a minimum quality of life, within the prevailing economic realities, no person should be denied the basic necessities of life; and further, sufficient freedoms (within the limits of reasonable expectation) should be in place to allow for meaningful self-expression (the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution are a good place to start). As long as these two conditions are satisfied market competition, within prevailing economic realities, should be permitted. Anything less than this—the minimum standard of living for all human beings, — is an “ignorance based injustice.” 4) And finally, in regards to a religious afterlife: death is not the end, but things like virgins, talks with Jesus, and eternal bliss, are spurious and misplaced expectations–therefore, ecological stewardship–preserving the quality of life for future generations–is the first and last commandment to which we must pledge our allegiance. Thanks for the opportunity to post!

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained The Problem

April 25, 2010

The Problem

Part 1 of 4 posts

Sometimes thoughts and ideas arise out of thin air and that’s what happened the other day when I got the idea to blog about Quantum Strangeness, and how it becomes less strange when viewed through the prism of what I call the structure of existence. So, welcome to my theory of everything (TOE).

Life is lived in terms of a series of events: appointments, muscle aches, down time, paychecks, road trips, shopping, phone calls, work, work, etc., etc. My TOE, however, is suggesting a more meaningful universe. You see, in the same way that the constancy of light’s velocity moved Einstein to think “outside the box,” (actually he imagined the constancy of the velocity of light since in 1905 that phenomenon had not yet been confirmed)leading him to deduce the required relationship between an observer’s reference frame and the predictability of events, so too, in my thinking about quantum phenomena, existential phenomenology, and religion’s aesthetic traditions, I was lead to think “outside the physical event.” What could possibly exist outside a physical event you ask? That something is logic, and, in my case, that something is structured in such a way as to account for our experience of temporality, rationality, and predictable events; furthermore, that structure is a lot easier to understand than Einstein’s theories. Logically speaking, the structure I am suggesting is the simplest possible structure imaginable, and yet it is flexible enough to contain the whole of the space-time continuum (Einstein, 1915). This structure exists on three levels, the two higher levels preserving the integrity of the bottom level. It’s not as if this structured existence will change the way science gets done, but, in the overall scheme of things, the reality explained by science is not as emotionally gratifying (or encompassing) as the reality suggested by this structure.

My theory, as with most structuralism, has two components, a diachronic timeline of events (think evolution here), and the frozen in time structural aspect of experience (think logic and mathematics here). Because the universe, in my theory, takes place in the space that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the “space of logical implication,” the universe is comprehensible. Whoops, I’ve put the cart before the horse, so to speak, so I now digress to a brief discussion of the strangeness of quantum phenomena.

At the quantum level, the universe looks and behaves differently from the way we typically perceive it. At the level of the very small, we loose track of independently existing things. For some physicists, it becomes difficult to think of the universe as a collection of objects because it’s more like a complicated web of relations, a web of relations existing between the various parts of a unified whole. An elementary particle, under certain conditions, is no more than a set of relationships that reach outward to other things. What’s happening in physics today is a far cry from what happened in the past, and its telling us new and exciting things about the universe, and maybe even about ourselves! This new vision of reality is inclusive, as opposed to exclusive. When humanity is brought into the mix with everything else, a whole new ballgame arises. The center of balance shifts, and overtime, possibilities open, even if in the short run, the rules remain the same. Humanity will be in for immense benefits if this new vision catches on. Here’s a little bit of the history behind this strange new science.

It all started with Max Planck’s black body radiation experiments at the turn of the century. He discovered that radiation or light propagates in discrete packets. Those packets are called the quantum of action. The energy in a quantum of action varies, but its discreteness does not, and that discreteness is known as Planck’s constant. Particles in classical physics evolve in a continuous manner, and in three dimensions of space, but in atomic physics that just doesn’t seem to be the case. With the discovery of the quantum of action, there was a merging of the dynamic state of the elements under study with their localization. The particles’ independence dissolved, as it became impossible to simultaneously determine position and momentum, an impossibility for which the uncertainty relations of Heisenberg became the precise expression. After the uncertainty principle, Cartesian space and time co-ordinates ceased to be applicable, and physicists were forced into learning new rules for a new game. In fact, all the conjugate variables of analytical mechanics–energy, time, momentum, position, had to be dealt with as approximations; they had to be dealt with in terms of statistical analysis. Ultimately, with the loss of space and time localization, physicists were forced to abandon their concept of a deterministic physical universe and, because of that, Einstein spent the rest of his life (after publishing his major accomplishments) trying to put “determinism” back into the universe.

It’s true that our knowledge, at the quantum level, is limited by statistical analysis, but it works, and it works well. That, according to Niles Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, was pretty important in itself. According to the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, the model attributed to Bohr and Heisenberg, it doesn’t matter what’s going on at the quantum level, what matters is that in all possible experimental situations we can, within certain limits, predict the outcomes. Understanding reality, according to the Copenhagen Interpretation, lies beyond the capabilities of rational thought. The laws governing individual events are, at the quantum level, completely discarded. Only mathematical laws governing aggregations apply. According to quantum mechanics, it is not possible, even in principle, to know enough about the present to make a complete prediction about the future. Even with the best possible measuring devices, it is still not possible. Overcoming all the history that’s still building in quantum mechanics is a daunting task for anyone. Einstein wasn’t the only physicist who disliked the theory. Many have tried to dislodge the Copenhagen interpretation. In every instance, however, the physical world has intervened and said, “Your questions are meaningless.” No physicist likes to hear that! When a wave behaves like a particle and a particle behaves like a wave, the concepts that used to define the physical world no longer apply. Nature now requires a marriage of ideas that in the past were designed to live apart. Neil’s Bohr just got tired of fighting the inevitable. That’s when he started seeing things in a complimentary light. He basically said that there are no waves out there. There are no particles running around, either. That strange animal that interacts with the experiments, the quantum of action, is all there is. Because Bohr believed that, he introduced the idea of complementarity. He considered the particle picture and the wave picture as two complementary descriptions of the same reality, each description being only partly correct and having a limited range of application. For Bohr, the entity “electron,”–just like the other elementary entities of physics—had two irreconcilable aspects, which must be invoked in order to explain, in turn, the properties of the entity. To give a full description of atomic reality, each picture is needed, and both descriptions are to be applied within the limitations given by the uncertainty principle. In fact, when the queen of England knighted Bohr for his work in physics, he was forced to pick a family coat of arms, and so he picked the Chinese symbol of Tai-chi. Because he believed that reality had to be visualized in both its complimentary and contradictory aspects, but not at the same time, he felt that, at least at the level of the quantum of action, the basic idea of Eastern mysticism’s yin/yang reality had been confirmed. But, there is more to quantum strangeness than yin/yang reality! There’s another level to this relationship of mutually exclusive opposites coming together in same reality and it’s called “observer-generated reality.”

The classical notions of space, time, causality,–objective reality, — break down at the quantum level. Remember there are no waves propagating. According to most physicists, the wave function is not quite a thing, it is more like an idea that occupies a strange middle ground between idea and reality, where all things are possible but none are actual. An electron is not a particle either, it is more like a process, always forming, always dissolving. It can’t be detected until it interacts with a measuring device and even if it does interact we don’t know if it interacts with the device per se, or if it interacts with the last link in the chain of events that define the experiment—the consciousness of the human observer. The physicist, Erwin Schrödinger, devised a thought experiment to illustrate that point.

You put a cat in a box with some poison gas. When the gas is released, the cat dies. The release of the gas is triggered by radiation decay that is totally random (cannot be predicted). In classical physics, the cat dies at the time of the decay, but in quantum mechanics the cat dies when the observation is made, when the last link in the chain of events that defines the experiment occurs. At the time of observation when the box is opened the wave function collapses and probability becomes actuality. Of course, common sense tells us that can’t be true, but that’s precisely the point, common sense breaks down at the quantum level, things are “different” at that level. So the question remains: Is it (or when is it) necessary to include human consciousness in our descriptions of the world? Or, put another way: What role does measurement play in an experiment? Does it provide a description of the world under study or does it actually create that world? Quantum Mechanics has a hard time answering questions like these. Maybe one day that situation will be better understood, but until that day comes, talk about “objectivity” is probably best left to the Buddhists. They don’t have a problem with “independent reality” because, for Buddhists, there isn’t any; everything is interdependent. The subjective world and the objective world are, for an enlightened Buddhist, just words referring to mutually conditioned relations woven into one fabric. Keeping the Buddha in mind, along with the strange universe described above, I want to begin my discussion of structured existence by revealing the shape of my TOE—it’s shaped like a V, yes, it looks like the letter v, but that’s just the beginning.

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained Structure of Existence

April 24, 2010

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained
The V Shape Structure of Existence

Part 2 of 4 posts

The first thing to notice about the V is its openness. This openness moves the content of existence forward; in fact, one is tempted to say that “to be free” is why existence exists. Science does a good job explaining the content of existence, but it is severely challenged when it comes to explaining the “otherness of existence,” or the liberating process that structures existence. As existence and liberation move up the V, freedom expands. Freedom expands diachronically at each level of structure (think evolution here), but, over time, lower level structure becomes “content” for higher level structure. At each “step up” freedom yields a new synchronic (frozen in time) structure, one that, although different from the lower structure, still preserves the integrity of the lower structure while structuring a whole new dimension of freedom. This process continues until it reaches the level of freedom (“content”) that occurs among symbol generating, language speaking life forms. Yes, that be “us.” So let’s take a look at this process that moves existence forward and expands freedom in a little more detail.

Let the V image represent the liberation of the “otherness of existence.” Let one side of the V represent the empirical world (aesthetic continuum) and the other freedom. Identify the vertex, the bottom of V, as ~~b (not, not-being). The “double negative” characterizes the entire V, and implies that which exists outside the V– the Affirmative Ideal, or, more to the point, an affirmation of the Affirmative Ideal. In other words, the V and all that it represents/manifests, via the “double negative,” connects/embeds everything to everything else, first through the empirical world and second through the Affirmative Ideal. In terms of quantum strangeness this state of affairs is revealing. But, this is only the first structural level; the second level occurs somewhere above the V vertex. On the liberation side of the V, let the letter b represent the more liberated form of the “otherness of existence” (life) and ~b, (~b on the empirical side of the V), represent the conservation of the integrity of the Affirmative Ideal vis-à-vis the space that separates, embeds, and connects. The word most often used to describe this condition, however, is death. Albeit, life, now firmly established, moves freedom forward until an even more liberated form of the “otherness of existence” emerges. Let b~b~bb represent this highly evolved form of structured existence. We are familiar with this structure because it represents the participatory moment of a conscious being where b~b (on the empirical side of the V) represents the existence of embodied self-conscious and ~bb (on the freedom side of the V represents the participatory moment of “time of mind.” With the advent of self-consciousness, freedom once again moves forward and the V grows larger (and wider) as the story of civilization unfolds (two steps forward one step back, or maybe more).

The Logic of Divine Necessary Opposites

We must shift gears here and think of the universe not as something that consciousness defines, but, rather, as something that defines consciousness. The idea that consciousness pervades the universe is not new. The Greek philosopher, Heraclites, believed that a non-human intelligence or the Logos ordered everything. For Heraclites, all the discrete elements of the world were organized into a coherent whole. The Stoics, using this idea, turned the Logos into God—the God that is the source of all rationality. But, those ideas were developed some 2400 years ago. Can the Logos be equated with the universe and all its elements today? When the noted logician, Alburey Castell, was confronted with a similar question, he responded:

“Suppose the sciences divided into four major groups: the mathematical, the physical, the biological, and social. Suppose the philosophical disciplines also divided into four major groups: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and aesthetics. Where among these does logic belong? Is it a fifth in either group? Or a subdivision of some one of the eight divisions? It seems to me to be neither of these, but somehow common to all divisions. The nerve of every science and every discipline is inference, or argument. In every science and every discipline two questions are always being asked and their answers sought: If these facts are granted, what follows? From what prior facts do these follow? That is If P, then what? And, Upon what does P rest?” (A College Logic, 329)

Before I begin to answer the question –Upon what does P rest? I want to give a little background information on the law of logical contradiction.

“The laws of logic,” says the Dictionary of Philosophy, “are regulative principles governing the pursuit of knowledge and the construction of scientific theories. Seen in this way, logic is the most general of all sciences… To assert a contradiction would be to depict things as being one way and yet at the same time not that way. But nothing can be p and not-p at the same time. To believe a contradiction is thus to hold as true something that is necessarily false” (Antony Flew, p.210).

What the rule of non-contradiction means in practical terms is that if a contradiction is found in a work of reasoning then that work is of little or no value. On the other hand, if a reasoned work identifies the condition for the possibility of any contradiction whatsoever, then that work would be valuable indeed!

Oh, by the way, freedom’s dialectic (the V structure) is the answer to the question –Upon what does P rest? This experience (the third level of the V structure) opened the door to meaningful symbol creation, the door that swings forward into the creation of language, myth, religion, art, and theoretical knowledge…and into the creation of the civilizing processes that we call “civilization”. But, not to forget, all of this rests on the pre-existing liberating processes of liberation that have come together in human consciousness, and, ultimately, rest on the ground condition of the Affirmation Ideal, Logos, God, albeit, an affirmed indeterminate Divinity. Freedom’s dialectic is at once bond and liberation, bond as Divine Affirmation and liberation as “the otherness of existence” progressively becomes freer!

What God’s freedom is defining here is God as Immanent (the phenomenal world) and God as Transcendent (the God of all religions). All we can know about Transcendent God is that God exists. The space of logical implication tells us that much. On the other hand, we can know a great deal about God’s Immanence because that’s what we deal with on a day-to-day basis. Everyday, as a self-conscious being, we participate in inquiry, analysis, conscience, and imagination. Now, let’s take a closer look at what the form of ~bb, of b~b~bb entails (the freedom of the human mind).

What separates this second level of existence form the third, — the human animal from other animals, is the experience of number, identity, language, etc., i.e., the potential to create and communicate through symbols. In so far as the human animal is defined by God’s non-being, humans become aware of non-being, and out of this awareness, by implication, arises a “mental given.” This “mental given” is experienced as the object pole of consciousness while “not being this mental given” allows for conscious reflection on the content of consciousness. Functionally, ~bb, or the cognitive experience of discontinuity occurring in continuity, is very close to, if not identical with, both Sartre’s pre-reflective Cogito and Piaget’s center of functional activity. Discontinuity occurring in continuity, or ~bb, not only identifies the source of conceptual representation– symbolic meaning, it also explains why our thoughts should be able to represent the world outside our mind, especially when it comes to the application of mathematics to physical theories. Since both the world and our ideas are a product of the logic that structures all existence, there is a necessary correspondence between mind and world. The laws of mathematics, physics, and nature are all grounded in the same structure, the structure that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the “space of logical implication, connects to the liberation of God in the here and now. Probably the most difficult (and uncomfortable) thing to apprehend here is that all reality/existence is the non-being of God,—the “otherness of God.” I didn’t invent this idea; there is a literature devoted to it. Unfortunately, I have not read much of it. Actually, maybe I did invent this idea, since I came upon the literature only after I had developed my argument for the structure of existence. Anyway, Robert P. Scharlemann, edited a journal devoted to this topic. Below is a quote from that journal:

The idea that God is free to not be God is unusual, but not unique. In the journal, Deconstruction and Theology (1982, p. 89-90), Robert P. Scharlemann, in the article The Being of God When God is Not Being God, adds some commentary to this idea when he says: “The thesis I should like to propound here is that, in the theological tradition of this picture (the concept of finite being as ens creatum) is that the world is itself a moment in the being of God; what cannot be thought is that the world is the being of God when God is not being deity, or the being of God in the time of not being.”

It follows from this view that an infinite amount of diversity is both permitted and discovered in God’s freedom not to be, a diversity that, ultimately, is at one with God. What makes this possible (and logically consistent) is the fact that all existence is grounded in one structure, the structure that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the “space of logical implication, connects to the liberation of God’s non-being in the here and now. Another way to state this peculiar state of affairs is that all existence exists as: being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is. This “way of being,” in addition to characterizing God’s freedom, also characterizes the liberation process that evolves God’s freedom (God becomes more free as freedom evolves) and this freedom, ultimately, characterizes physical events, biological events, and psychological events, — the divine self-consciousness of the here and now.

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained The God of Immanence

April 24, 2010

The God of Immanence

Part 3 of 4 posts

Since the divinity aspect of structured existence is wide open at this point, I’d like to say a few words concerning God, and then let a dialogue that I wrote a while back say the rest. The dialogue is something I had hoped would happen (no such luck) between Mike (an old schoolyard friend of mine) and I when we were bicycling the Canadian Maritime Provinces. The Affirmative Ideal is what allows people to believe in God; that is, they believe because they can! God certainly exists in affirmation, but God also exists in the flesh, yours, mine, and all the rest of humanity. God exists in all the rest of nature too, but God is made self-aware in self-consciousness. Think about that; the more you do the more the barriers between God and self-consciousness fall away. It’s not an unpleasant experience.

In Every Human Being God Pulses–The Depth And Center Of All There Is

“Okay,” I said, “but what I’m about to say is not exactly user friendly. It’s about a different kind of God, one that, as far as I can tell, nobody is familiar with.”

“Well, does God have foreknowledge or not?” Mike responded.

“He knows everything that is known,” I said. “It’s hard to describe, but He knows it all without foreknowledge.”

“You’ve got my attention now,” Mike replied, “How exactly does He pull that off?”

“It’s in his freedom,” I said. “In nature, life, and culture we find God’s ‘self-expression’, and that–is an affirmation of God and God’s freedom.”

“Oh, this ought to be good,” replied Mike, “what kind of image is that? Is He still the old man on high, divine worker of miracles, dispenser of rewards and punishments, or am I missing something?”

“That image is a bit outdated, wouldn’t you say?” I said.

“Well is He limited by time or not? replied Mike.”

“No,” I said.

“Is He omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient?”

“Yes to all three,” I replied.

“Well, I rest my case. It’s the same-o, same-o,” Mike responded. “We humans are bound by law and limited by death. We don’t like it, so we imagine a God without limits. We get sick, but God does not. We are caught in space and time—not God. We face horrendous hardships and suffering—not God. Both Freud, and Feuerbach before him, had it right; god is a product of our own desires because, as cripples, we need a crutch. We need god, but he remains forever out of reach. Religion was born out of that need. God is our security blanket. In reality God is based in false hopes and promises, and exists only in our dreams.”

“There’s more to the story than that,” I responded. “The theologian, Paul Tillich, had a different idea. In fact, he believed the image of a superhuman God should be replaced by a more internalized ‘depth image.’ Instead of believing in an external God, he chose to believe in a God that was the ground of all that is. God, for him, became ‘infinite center,’ a ‘presence,’ a feeling, a reality, an opening to all sacredness and divinity. That’s kind of what I’m talking about when I talk about God, but I came to that image in my own way. And, by the way, as far as gender is concerned, God doesn’t have any.”

“That sound’s a bit pantheistic to me,” Mike responded. “So who or what is this god?”

“Pantheism is part of it, but there’s more,” I said. “I have always been attracted to those images of deity that identify God with nature. Spinoza, Lao Tsu, Whitman, Black Elk, all those guys believed nature to be sacred. God is nature, but nature is also an expression of God’s freedom, and further, God’s freedom is something ‘other’ than God. It is God when God is ‘not being God’–God’s own non-being. I know that sounds strange, but I can’t help it. That’s the way it is.”

“Sure,” Mike responded, “cut to the chase why don’t you, and we’ll see just how strange that idea really is.”

“I’m getting there,” I said. “All nature is a ‘way’ of non-being. And, this non-being is peculiar in that it is not a singular thing. It is dualistic in character, and takes the form of a double negation. In this double negative we find God as affirmation. We find God as freedom, and we find God as environment. Just as a receptacle is defined by empty space, non-being defines God. God, in the form of the ‘other’, is both God and freedom, and through reasoned analysis we can derive the meaning and significance of God. In fact, both freedom and reason, on some level, are present in all non-being, all nature.”

“That’s the chase,” Mike replied. “That’s it?”

“I told you, my god is not user friendly,” I said. “Freedom exists at every level of nature. It also goes through changes, and these changes represent freedom at more complex levels. After a sufficient level of complexity, freedom becomes less restricted. When it experiences its own double-negatives in the space of higher negation, it becomes alive. In that sense, freedom is always ‘stretching itself’ and ‘reaching out’ for more freedom. At a sufficient level of complexity, inorganic nature becomes organic, and freedom becomes freer. At death, nature’s double negation must be conserved, so higher expressions of freedom dissolve into less free states, and, ultimately, into God because God is affirmed in double negation—in being non-being. This is my religion. This is what I believe. God is not separate from nature, life, and/or culture. That’s how I understand the meaning and significance of God.”

“What has culture to do with anything?” Mike said. “Its just part of life. Hell, social insects have culture!”

“True,” I replied, “but they do not bring self-consciousness to culture; consequently, they are not free to expand that culture into self-determined orders of complexity. Only humans can do that. Humans are free in a way other animals are not.”

“That’s bullshit,” Mike said. “Culture keeps us alive. It’s the same with insects. It’s a matter of degree, not kind, and the same goes for what you call freedom.”

“Suit yourself,” I replied, “but at least hear me out. According to the way I perceive God, human culture is a product of God’s freedom. In culture, God acts out the self-aware expression of freedom. This higher-level experience is two levels removed from God’s least free expression. This freedom brings with it an ‘empty box,’ a box of negation—a box attached to consciousness. Other animals are boxless. Consciousnesses–self-consciousness—uses this box to see what’s not, and ask ‘why?’ With the good comes the bad, however. This box also permits ruthless people to value greed over knowledge, violence over peace, and vengeance over beauty. Without this box, though, agreements for the purpose of securing peace and preserving beauty would not be possible. Judgments would not be possible. Self-expression would not be possible. The history of civilization would not be possible. In fact, the history of civilization is the history of this box, the history that records the struggles for liberty and the freedom to overcome that which prohibits liberty. When we seek the origin of freedom, we end up in religion.”

“You think religion can save the world!” responded Mike. You think if only people believed as you do, they would act differently? How ignorant! How pretentious! Who is shortsighted and stubborn now?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “Actually, I try not to think of it in those terms. It’s too scary. After searching all these years, it’s enough for me to have a security blanket that works for me.”

“You deserve an ‘at-a-boy’ for that,” Mike replied. “Everybody’s entitled to their beliefs; that is, as long their beliefs do not deny the beliefs of others. Even if you wanted to change the world, in my opinion, you couldn’t, not with what I just heard. The truth is I don’t understand a thing you just said. But, if it’s any consolation, I did enjoy hearing it. I don’t know why. How about another beer?”

“Sounds like a winner,” I replied, “but indulge me for just a little bit longer. I will be specific.”

“If you must,” Mike replied, “Waitress, two more beers pa’ lease.”

“First, God is the inescapable depth and center of all there is. The immanence of God is what I call freedom and this immanence is present as nature. When freedom achieves self-consciousness it is able to name and create truth and beauty. In fact, it calls us forward into life, love, and wholeness. The biblical Jesus was, most likely, so completely transformed by his awareness of the divine that his thoughts, words, and deeds were recognized as divine. Not surprisingly, the gospel writers saw him as the Son of God, and translated his story into the Passion Play that it was, — it is. My religion has nothing to do with ‘revealed truths,’ and it is not about heavenly rewards or punishments. Rather, it is simply a way to perceive and process the God experience, the experience that pulses in every human being. As far as proselytizing goes, all I want to do is open people’s minds to the idea that ‘terra firma’ is hallowed ground. I mean that both literally and figuratively. In our relationship with others we share that ground, and that ground becomes sacred or profane depending on how it is shared. That is what I believe, and that is really the end. Now I’m finished.”

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained-Question and Solution

April 23, 2010

The source of the question and the solution to the problem

Part 4 of 4 posts

It’s time to say a few words concerning where the idea of ~bb (the Implicative affirmative of the not-me-self) came from. Unfortunately, it didn’t drop out of thin air, but once I found it, I could see it lingering in many disparate places (I identified some of those places in my thesis). As it is with many discoveries, it occurred in a flash of insight after many years of muddled thinking. My muddled thinking came mostly from reading Sartre’s Being And Nothingness. Sartre is, more than anyone else, responsible for the concept of ~bb in the structure of b~b~bb, (Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre’s life-long companion is, in my opinion, every bit the equal of Sartre in matters of philosophy, so she gets equal credit here). Sartre’s Being And Nothingness and Heidegger’s Being And Time, by explaining the inseparable nature of time and consciousness, helped me conceive ~bb, as did my studies in Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Jaspers. Kierkegaard helped me connect “nothingness” with God, and Jaspers helped me connect reason and freedom with everything else. Here’s a quote from Jasper’s Reason And Existenz:

“The distinctions of empirical existence, consciousness as such, and spirit do not imply separable facts. Rather they represent three starting points through which we can come to feel that comprehensive Being which we are and in which all Being and everything scientifically investigable appears. These three modes taken individually are not yet the Encompassing as we represent it. Consciousness as such, the location of universally valid truth, is in itself nothing independent. On one side, it points to its basis in empirical existence. On the other it points to spirit, the power it must let itself be dominated by if it would attain meaning and totality. In itself, consciousness as such is an unreal articulation of the Encompassing. Through it, the
Encompassing is differentiated into those modes according to one of which the Encompassing can become individuated and knowable as empirical natural processes, and, according to the other of which it is understandable, a self-transparent, totalizing reality or Freedom. Empirical existence and spirit produce forms of reality; consciousness as such is the form in which we envisage the
Encompassing as the condition of the universally valid and communicable.” (p. 58-59)

In the following journal entry (I kept a journal while reading Being And Nothingness), Sartre directly references the ~bb (the for-itself) in the b~b~bb structure:

Knowledge is found everywhere except in the being of the for-itself. Worldliness, spatiality, quantity, temporality, instrumentality, etc. arise in consciousness as objects for the for-itself, but the for-itself can never become a conscious object—just like a knife blade cannot cut itself. Were it not for the inherent nothingness found in the being of the for-itself, there would not be a consciousness of knowledge. Sartre has described the for-itself as the “pure reflection of nonbeing,” and it is this negation of being which let’s knowledge come into the world. In this respect, the knower-known dichotomy is reduced to mere fabrication, since the knower does not exist. “For-itself nothingness” permits consciousness of reality, but the for-itself remains just outside the reach of that reality because there is no knower to be known.

Sartre also tells us that the ever-elusive present is a further consequence of this negation. Our location in time, to put it mildly, is not very precise. I am conscious of being conscious of something other than myself, and that something is my past self. What I grasp in self- consciousness is my past self—the self that has become being-in-itself. But, being-in-itself is being, so it follows that consciousness is always conscious of being. I have a body and I have a history; these are my objects of consciousness. I am never, however, conscious of the for-itself’s negation– its lack, hole, nothingness, (it makes no difference how you say it, all are equivalent), because this negativity for Sartre is the pre-condition for consciousness to be conscious. And further, it is this non-being of consciousness, which becomes the basis for my freedom.

To recap: Self-consciousness, or my relationship to consciousness, brings to consciousness the pure negative of my own nothingness. Self-consciousness denies itself a coincidence with itself. It denies itself a coincidence with the objects of consciousness–the consciousness-belief dyad. It is in consciousness, however, as presence-to-itself, but it denies itself the possibility of ever becoming fully aware of itself. Self-consciousness is its own negativity. Thus, I am conscious of it as what I am not, as what I lack, as a “hole” in my consciousness, as a “hole” in my very being. — End journal entries.

The basis for ~bb in the structure of b~b~bb was first disclosed by Sartre. Ironically, he interpreted consciousness—being for-itself– as proof of the non-existence of God. Actually, what I got out of his reasoning was that freedom (restricted by its environment) is all that we are. We are the being that is being what is not, while not being what is. We are the negating for-itself as it frees up the consciousness of anything except the for- itself. We are the lack that continually references the lacked. This condition of consciousness is written into Sartre’s definition of consciousness:

“Consciousness is a being such that in its being, its being is in question in so far as this being implies a being other than itself.”

Given the above, is it any wonder why self-help books line bookshelves; why people “who think too much,” are the most likely to suffer from angst, anomie, depression, drug abuse etc.; why life speeds down the tracks of boredom, desire, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, emptiness, desire, (repeat) leaving us with the unanswerable question why? Again, given Sartre’s for-itself (~bb), we are left with (and this is significant) 1) the source of the question and 2) the space that connects to the “space of logical implication.” (think Descartes’ “cogito ergo sum” here). In anthropomorphic jargon, at this level of freedom (b~b~bb), think of God as placing the baton of “logical implication” into to open hand of the relay team money guy, the guy expected to glorify the team by being the first to cross the finish line of the “good race.” Sometimes I wonder if God picked the right money species for the job!

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained

“Relativity,” according to Laszlo (2004), “did away with space and time as the backdrop of deterministic motion of mass points, but it preserved the unambiguous description of the basic entities of the physical universe.” In my structural theory opposites are necessary in order to preserve “wholeness,” so discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality become just as essential for a description of the physical universe as determinism, continuity, and locality. The levels of negation in my structural theory answer why contradictory aspects separate the macro world of Relativity from the micro world of quantum physics. Predictions are possible because the evolution of the universe takes place in this space that separates, embeds and connects—connects to the “space of logical implication.” So now we may ask: What are the pre-conditions for this state of affairs?

Determinism, locality and continuity allow for reductionist methods of science to work; that is, until science penetrates deep into that area where the integrity of the physical universe breaks down, where the deterministic motions of mass points no longer exist. At the depths of the “material world” there exists a fuzzy world that exhibits only statistical behavior, behavior only when we observe it– when we separate ourselves from it. There we find a physical reality with no uniquely determinable location, a physical reality that exists in several states at the same time, a physical reality structured by a mathematical equation. In God’s non-being, or, in this context I guess I should say, in the theory of freedom’s structural form, two “forms” stand out as a way to better understand the contradictory concepts, which remain at odds with one another in the theory of relativity and quantum physics.

The same attributes (discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality) that characterize self-consciousness characterize also the “double negation” that serves as the ground of freedom. Both of these “forms” generate implication. At “ground” implication remains open, while in self-consciousness, implication opens up the human world-historical-process. In other words, the negation that lies at the center of self-consciousness, the negation that permits our capacity to solve mathematical equations, lies also at the “ground level” of our experience with quantum physics. Because observation takes place in the space of continuity, determinism and locality– self-consciousness’s negative space— there is an unavoidable clash of worlds—the world of continuity, determinism and locality (relativity) clashes with the world of discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality (quantum physics). Bottom line—the theory of relativity accurately describes natural phenomena. Einstein’s equations, when applied to the world of physical events, provide accurate information concerning our status as participating agents in the physical universe. Likewise, quantum mechanics accurately describes natural phenomena. Only the phenomena being described are “fuzzy” because, as it is throughout freedom’s dialectic, the space that separates also embeds and connects. In other words, on the quantum level, self-consciousness confronts its own ground condition in the form of the “phenomenal strangeness” of quantum physics.

Ultimately, from its most holistic perspective, dialectical freedom’s structural form tells us: Were it not for the negative space/condition of determinism, continuity, and locality, the human consciousness of discontinuity, non-locality, and indeterminism (opposites are necessary to conserve wholeness) would not be free in a world of our own experience (by degrees, experience of our own choosing), seeking truth, justice, and religious meaning.


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