When Socio-Economic Relationships Clash War Erupts

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A Picture Of Self

Future Time

“So what did your ‘self’ picture look like” said MV, “the one you gave to your Professor?”

“Well, in my description I left out the self’s logical component, but my picture got the job done, at least it did for Jim,” I replied. “Also, it probably helped that I compared my concept of self with George Herbert Mead’s symbolic interactionist model of self. Mead was the ‘main man’ with some of the professors in the department, so if I compared well with him, I was home free.”

“Alright already,” said MV, “what picture?”

“I used Venn circles to describe the self. You know those three overlapping circles originally used to test for the validly of syllogisms,” I replied. “I used those circles to describe the three cognitive boundaries of freedom, the boundaries of ‘self.’ Those boundaries are 1) physical, 2) energy far from equilibrium–life, and 3) culture:

“Draw two circles, one slightly intersecting the other. Let one circle represent life (green) and the other matter (brown). Let the exterior space of the circles, the space that does not overlap, represent evolution, both physical and biological evolution. Where the circles intersect, –the space inside the two overlapping circles, let that space represent all existing life, or the survival domain of all living plants and animals (the biosphere-green). When it comes to human life, however, something more is required, and that something is something different. Let the third circle (blue) represent that difference.

“Again, draw a circle that slightly intersects the other two circles. The non-overlap portion of that circle represents the time-dependent evolution of human culture. Existing culture, the ‘now’ aspect of human culture is located (represented) within the overlap portion (blue and purple quadrants) of the circle representing human culture. Where this circle overlaps the other two circles, a curved triangular space comes into view. Let the lines defining that space represent the interface of human consciousness with the outside world.

“Extending out from that triangular space are three leaf-like structures—three quadrants (blue, green, purple). Where the circle representing human culture overlaps the circle representing matter, that is where the ‘self’s’ cognitive boundary interfaces with the natural world (pink self horizon); that is, that is where the ‘self’s’ curved triangular space interfaces with the economic well being of the individual, where commodities (mortar into bricks, iron into steel) are used to transform the environment, and where power/knowledge relationships come into play. But, all of these cultural artifacts, – tools, commodities, weapons- are inter-reliant upon the ‘self’s’ other cognitive boundary, the ‘self’ boundary that interfaces the life circle (yellow self horizon). Here the ‘self’ engages cultural meanings; here women and men develop their attitudes toward life. In this quadrant a diversity of attitudes and opinions are communicated and psychologically weighted. The culturizing of language, art, religion, ideology, and spiritual concerns develop here. These shared meanings become the “life blood” of social interaction, organization, and institutions. Consciousness gets objectified here— beliefs and paradigms originate here. The lessons of history are continually repeated here. When different “objectified consciousnesses” clash over conflicting socio-economic relationships, war erupts here.

“To sum up, ‘what we do with stuff’ defines the ‘physical cultural quadrant of self’ (pink horizon), and ‘who does what with stuff and why,’ defines the self’s other quadrant, the quadrant that adds the symbolic dimension to our physical culture (yellow horizon); but, what about the other side of the three sided triangle? What does that cognitive boundary interface with, and how does that quadrant affect the ‘self’?

“Human consciousness interfaces with the survival domain of all life (red horizon), but this interface, for humans, is different. Within this interface we experience the capacity to question our own “objectified consciousness and ask why.” We encounter our own demons and “ask why me?” Choice and decisions are made at this interface. All journeys begin here; even spiritual journeys begin here– or, perhaps not, and, if not, in moments of despair, the echoing reverberation of “why not” can always be heard in the distance. Opportunities for self-actualization, transcendence, and liberation are found at this interface—they only have to recognized and then acted upon. A man well published in the fields of religion and science, Ian Barbour, would agree with me I believe. Here’s what he has to say about the uniqueness of human consciousness:

“‘In the capacity for abstract thought and symbolic language there is a radical distinction between man and animal. Self-conscious awareness, critical self-reflection, and creative imagination are found nowhere else in nature. In memory of the past, anticipation of the future, and envisagement of ideal potentialities, he transcends his immediate environment. He is unique in his search for truth, concern for moral values, and acknowledgement of universal obligation –and above all, in his relationship to God.’” (1966, p.29)

Layered Sequencing Of Platforms—Reductionist, Life, Mind—That Constitute Self.

1 R—The reductionist, mass/energy, platform.

2 L—The life, biological/reproductive, platform.

3 M—The mind, symbol/meaning, platform.

4 S—Human self—is not an entity, rather, it is intersubjective boundary horizons.

5 The reductionist, physical/cultural, self-boundary quadrant.

6 The life, biological/emotional, self-boundary quadrant.

7 The mind, psychological, sociocultural, self-boundary quadrant of human discourse.

8 The connecting bridge that separates and connects the life platform to the mind platform.

9 The connecting bridge that separates and connects the mind platform to the life platform as well as to the life platform’s limiting condition—the reductionist platform.

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