Archive for June, 2009

Knowledge Encapsulates Freedom, Foucault Relationships Encapsulates Knowledge

June 25, 2009

maniteesThe Physics Of A New Episteme-A New Relationship With Nature

In so far as liberation occurs, power arrangements occur. And, in so far as power arrangements occur, they begin to dictate the terms of the liberation process. According to Foucault, these power arrangements become the defining force in the environment. As has already been pointed out, the liberation movement of freedom eventually liberated the “implied knowledge of the environment.”  From that point on, knowledge became the most encapsulating vehicle of freedom and freedom became manifest in power relationships.

Social organization and social structure are born out of the power arrangements which best reflect the prevailing episteme. According to Foucault, man (as a conceptual entity) and scientific knowledge are also born out of these power arrangements. Blanchot describes the theme that surfaces “above the analysis” in Foucault’s books:

“Thus, already in The Archaeology of Knowledge,  where we seem to indulge in the illusion of an autonomous discourse (an illusion with which literature and art perhaps bewitch themselves), there are announced the multiple connections between knowledge and power, and the obligation to recognize the political effects that are produced, at any given moment in history, by the ancient desire to disentangle the true from the false. Knowledge, power, truth? Reason, exclusion, repression?” [Foucault, Blanchot, 1987, p. 80]

These power/knowledge relationships, when considered in the context of the liberation process, become just another obstacle that stands in the way of liberation. These “pockets of power,” in the form of social structure and social organization, may be thought of as static elements in the liberation process; that is, from the point of view of the people who tend to benefit from these “pockets of power” they are static, but, from the point of view of the people who are “locked out” of these “pockets of power” they are oppressive. In other words, although power/knowledge relationships dictate the options available in terms of accessing one’s environment, ultimately, there is no preferred state of privilege and control; it all becomes an obstacle in the liberation process.

Of course, in the real world, I realize I have just described the stratification of the “haves” and “have-nots;” and, I suppose, Foucault would be content to leave it at that. One cannot deny that built into the power structure of social organization is the secured status and privilege of the groups that possess the most power. And further, this security, more often than not, becomes secured by denying power (access to the environment) to an “underprivileged” class of people. This said, it should also be noted that the power/knowledge consequence of the liberation process, as it becomes manifest in the highly differentiated attributes of society (Durkheim) contributes positively to the individuals well being, health, growth, and freedom–the freedom that satisfies needs, permits access, provides security, encourages aesthetic appreciation, provides moral examples, and, promotes justice, attests to this fact. At the very least, in so far as change is inherent in the liberation process, this change may be for the better. In order to

understand how this change for the better can come about, a whole new way of thinking must incorporate itself into the social fabric. A new episteme, in Foucault’s language, must arise. This episteme has already taken root, I believe, in the logical implications generated by the new physics.

The new physics speaks of strange and exciting phenomena. Where this physics will take us is presently unclear but, with evidence accumulating everyday, what is becoming clearer is that it is incorrect to think of our relationship to nature in terms of the three-term relationship of Locke’s mental substance, appearance and material particles. Berkeley, Hume and Kant addressed the inadequacy of this three-term relationship. In brief, John Locke did not have to choose this three-term relationship to explain Newton’s particles. He could have said that mathematical space and time is the vehicle which allows for an analytical account of the aesthetic continuum and that the observer and what appears for the observer are determinations of this aesthetic continuum.

[Footnote. This and the next couple of paragraphs are meant to be a very brief summary of a theme developed in F.S. Northrop’s book The Meeting of East and West, 1946, see chapter entitled The Solution of the Basic Problem, p.436]

He could have said this but he did not because it would have been extremely difficult, given the interpretation of Newtonian physics at the time.

Now we know that it is more accurate if we describe our relationship to nature in the form of a two-term relationship. The first term of the two-term relationship is the theoretically postulated, hypothetically designated, component of experience while the second term is the immediately sensed determinate portion of the aesthetic continuum. This aesthetic component of experience is relative to every individual while the theoretic component occurs in a public space characterized by repeatable experiences. Confirmation of the theoretical component of our experience becomes the key word here and this confirmation may be formal, as in a scientific result, or it may be informal, as in the best that pragmatism has to offer – if it works, use it.


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June 20, 2009

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The Embedded Logic Of Reciprocal Movement’s Synchronic Axis

June 20, 2009
Hampback whale cralf.

With Access To The Environment, Power, Wealth, Fame—Adventure, Exploration And Even Love Become Possible

The individual takes his or her place along the synchronic axis of freedom as an aspirant seeking liberation from the restrictive nature of his/her environment. Accordingly, the individual has certain needs that must be satisfied. The problem with many political and psychological interpretations of the individual is that these ideas are based, not upon the “liberation ideal” as such, but rather, on specific aspects of the liberation process. People have economic needs of course, but material gain is only one form of gratification; nevertheless, a person first encounters needs, which, in turn, become wants, which, in turn, necessitate access to one’s environment in order to satisfy theses desires. With the right kind of access to one’s environment, power, wealth, and fame, or, if you prefer, adventure, exploration, and love etc. become obtainable—but, all this entails a liberation process that extends all the way back to the birth of time —the diachronic movement of content occurring in the synchronic structure of form.

Typically, human nature/material world concepts are described in physical, biological, and psychological terminology. Replacing these concepts with structural terminology—a structural interpretation of the material world—is what this blog is about and if successful, a different, more comprehensive, explanation of phenomena will be revealed.

The synchronic axis, in the context of freedom, may be understood as the process of liberation from a restrictive environment. This synchronic liberation process takes place in whole steps, steps of liberation that produce more freedom, freedom composed of two poles–the freedom pole and the environment pole. Here’s how it works: Content, at the first synchronic level, consists of “negations negating negations.” On this level (the level substituting for the concept physical) both the freedom pole and the environment pole of the synchronic axis consist of negations,–negations negating negations, however, when negation, at a higher level of freedom (the level substituting for the concept biological), is free to stand alone, then content takes precedence over form. The liberated content that stands apart from negation, on this higher level of structure, becomes alive. Life, or the being of continuity, forms one pole of the newly elevated synchronic axis while death (the negation of life) constitutes the other pole of the axis. Freedom flowers in this world of biological evolution (evolution being the reciprocal movement occurring between life and death); however, freedom increases at an almost exponential rate once liberation from this biological level has been achieved.

Because synchronic structure rises on the back of negation, the liberation process is not limited to biological evolution. At the next synchronic level (the level substituting for the psychological/mind concept), a more evolved species of life is the result. On this higher structural level, when the continuity of negation becomes free to stand alone, content and form merge at each synchronic pole, thus at one pole (the empirical side) continuity occurs in discontinuity and, at the other pole (the freedom side) discontinuity occurs in continuity. Diachronically speaking, the content embedded in this structure is the human experience of self-consciousness occurring in a physical event. Discovered in this structure is the potential to produce a great deal of content, but the actualization of this potential, it must be remembered, takes place along the liberation path in the form of the objectification of self-nature and culture, or the reciprocal movement occurring between mind and event. At this level of synchronic structure (the physical event of a thinking person), the story of civilization unfolds and, from the point of view of liberation, this story becomes the history of the human struggle to survive, overcome poverty, ignorance, injustice,–to overcome all the physical and psychological afflictions that subvert the actualization of human potential.

Pictures always help simplify what is difficult to comprehend, so with simplification in mind, I present the following pictured attempt at describing the changes that occur in synchronic structure, the changes resulting in increased freedom. To begin: Let the V shape represent the image of freedom’s synchronic axis. Let the left side of the V represent the empirical world (the negative pole of synchronic structure) and the right side represent the freedom pole, or the indeterminacy that opens up the process of liberation, the process that Whitehead and Piaget would not object to, the process where Piaget tells us that “any content is form relative to some inferior content and any form the content for some higher form.” (Piaget, 1970, p. 140) It is also here where the empirical and freedom sides of the V meet, where the two negative poles meet. This, to be sure, is a very constrained state of existence, but still, it is open enough to allow for the expansion freedom. Now label the vertex, the V bottom, as ~~b (not, not being). “Negations negating negations,” on this level, define the entire V structure, (as they also imply that which lies outside the V structure, or the logical space of affirmation); that is, “negations negating negations” define the V structure until, on the back of negation, a new level of freedom becomes liberated.

On the next freedom level, somewhere above the V vertex, on the empirical side, let ~b represent the physical event of life. This is a temporary condition, interrupted, eventually, by death and decay. Across from ~b, let b, the reciprocal counterpart to ~b, on the freedom side of the V, represent life’s journey toward more evolved life forms, i.e., life forms of greater complexity. Life, through adaptation and diversity, expands and becomes more highly evolved. Freedom, on two levels now, persists until further up the V, but still within the V structure, another level of freedom is liberated.

On this higher liberated state of freedom, let b~b (continuity occurring in discontinuity), on the empirical side of the V, represent the physical event of self-consciousness, and, directly across from b~b, on the freedom side of the V, let ~bb, discontinuity occurring in continuity, represent consciousness participating in the self-consciousness moment/experience. On this structural level, a new freedom is produced, the freedom to freely participate in freedom. In other words, out of the embedded experience of discontinuity occurring in continuity emerges the subjective aim of a conscious self (on this level, ~bb becomes the source of all identities—becomes the source of symbolic representation). Freedom not only expands at the level of the physical event of self-consciousness, the level where the story of civilization unfolds, it mushrooms–and the V shape grows larger (and wider). This new freedom erupts into the historical/cultural environment of social interaction and social organization, which, over time, produces modernity (and the negative effects of modernity). The Enlightenment, the hypothetical-deductive method resulting in scientific and technological advances, etc. – all of the best of civilization, is now, in part, working against the continued expansion of freedom; that is, the sustaining Earth resources of freedom are being eliminated, polluted, and/or unjustly horded. All this too, is part of the liberation process as self-consciousness continually seeks more freedom, more liberation.

There you have it; my pictured description of the V shape/structure. What follows now, is my commentary on the significance of this structural interpretation of nature.

Freedom and logical form demonstrate a co-dependent relationship; that is, freedom and logical form develop togeth
er. When freedom and logical form merge in the participatory moment of a conscious self, identity is the result, and in the wake of identity imagination follows. More specifically, the possibilities contained in the participatory moment of a conscious self are immense, but the immediate consequence is that identity is preserved in the midst of constant change. This becomes clear when you consider that in discontinuity occurring in continuity (~bb) an awareness of not-being exists and, by implication, something must be before it can not-be (Descartes’ cogito ergo sum is another example of this consequence). This is not the end of it, however, for awareness of implied identity occurs in the presence of factual events and with the identity of events, freedom moves forward in the form of an implied knowledge of one’s environment. In itself, this “passage of time” does not produce a great deal of knowledge, but because we bring the logical relationships implicit in synchronic structure—and, or, and implies– to bear on the experience of an event, we may form judgments concerning the significance and the probable cause of an event. These judgments are determined valid across a continuum which ranges from sensation divorced from theory at one end, to, at the other end, sensation reinforced by the most advance and respected scientific theories available.

I am not suggesting that physical events occur only for humans. As the V structure indicates, there is an empirical side to everything. Life accommodates and assimilates an empirical environment in order to survive, and to liberate more freedom. Survival and the forward movement of freedom, procreation, adaptation and evolution, are not different from freedom; even on the level of negations negating negations,–the uplifting of complexity, the evolution of star stuff, the liberation of the necessary conditions that support life and the participatory moment of a conscious self,–all entail the empirical side of the V structure. Absent an empirical side, the freedom side of the V structure could not exist. Freedom, no matter how free, always remains stuck in the empirical. For humans, however, the physical event extends well beyond the sum of the conditions that come together to insure survival.

Life is embedded in its negation and self-consciousness is embedded in its negation. These empirical conditions, in both cases, represent the opposite of the liberated phenomenon, i.e., life/death and self- consciousness/material facts. However, the material world (the physical event) is open to scientific investigations (life simply being explained as the material world far from equilibrium). But, we may ask, what, specifically, is entailed in self-consciousness’s negation, or, put differently, what exactly is the opposite of ~bb besides b~b?

The opposite of self-consciousness has nothing to do with cultural content because cultural content is a product of the liberation process, a product of self-consciousness which, in turn, is a product of the liberation process. Therefore, the opposite of self-consciousness will be found in that which does not change, in the space-time content of continuity, determinism, and locality, i.e., in the physical properties Einstein so staunchly defended when faced with the strangeness of quantum reality. But, all physical events are cloaked in cultural meanings, meanings acquired along the “life lines” of participatory conscious selves, so we must ask: Can we really trust these identities of physical properties that do not change? The answer to this question is that we have no recourse other than to trust that which makes logical sense and occurs in a predictable manner. But, once again, what differentiates human events from these types of empirical events is that these particular events negate (as the V structure indicates) the very liberated structure that constitutes human consciousness. These kinds of physical events negate the structure that knowingly participates in physical events. So, once again, we ask, what exactly does the physical event negate?

There is no room in the physical event for a consciousness that questions, there is only room for the electro-chemical firing of synapses occurring in squishy grey matter that gets labeled brain, a brain that upon manipulation can induce and create predictable conscious activity. There is no room in the physical event for the ~bb structure that is the source of the symbol-generating movement of free thought, — the movement that makes thinking possible, that makes “time of mind” possible. Physical time or revolutions around the sun, vibrations of an atom, decay in terms of biological clocks, etc., and the measured time of the empirical events, exists as a product of “time of mind.” “Time of mind” is embedded in space-time and all identities and cultural contents, including the descriptions of the changes that occur in empirical events, are secondary effects of time of mind liberation. But, that does not mean that Einstein is/was wrong.

Everyday we participate in physical events via our five senses, inquiry, analysis, conscience, and imagination. We participate in a material world that from the scientific point of view is defined as determinate, continuous, and local. But, according to the V structure, this determinate, continuous, and local world is a necessary consequence of “time of mind,”—a necessary product (“time of mind” being characterized by non-locality, indeterminateness, and discontinuity) in the liberation process because it preserves the integrity, “wholeness,” of the V structure. Thus, freedom and its opposite exist in the form of a co-dependent relationship in order to preserve “wholeness.” The precondition of our self-consciousness environment then is the condition that separates and permits its opposite to occur, or, put another way, a determinate, continuous, and local world exists because self-consciousness exists outside of the physical event environment in a discontinuous, indeterminate, and non-local way. From a materialist point of view determinism, locality, and continuity allow for the reductionist methods of science to work; that is, as long as science keeps its investigations focused on the material world, as long as science doesn’t penetrate deep into that area where the integrity of the physical universe breaks down, where the deterministic motions of mass points no longer exist!

But, at the depths of the “material world” there exists a fuzzy world that exhibits behavior only when we observe it– when we separate ourselves from it. There we find a physical reality with no uniquely definable location, a physical reality that exists in several states at the same time, a physical reality structured by a mathematical equation, a physical reality described by form as opposed to content. Freedom’s synchronic axis of “wholeness” not only predicts this phenomena, it explains it. This phenomenon occurs because all “higher negations and affirmations” are embedded in the “ground negation” that makes possible the liberation process, the ground negation that represents the condition that separates and permits its opposite to occur, the ground negation that defines the entire V structure, the ground negation that not only preserves “wholeness,” but also implies the Great Affirmation existing outside the V structure.

Discontinuity occurring in continuity (~bb in the V structure) not only permits the fruits of civilization to manifest, it also allows individuals to actualize their own personal potentials, the actualization of which give pleasure and meaning to life. But, “time of mind” is not recognized by science. Time, for science has nothing to do with actualizing potential; time is merely an objectified measure of scale. However, there is an anomaly that might shed some light on this subject. Science, to my knowledge at least, has no answer to a very common phenomenon that speaks directly to the existence of “time of mind.” “Time flies!” or “Where d
id the time go?” are not mere expressions, rather, they are actual descriptions of the “time of mind.” “Time of mind” really does go faster as we get older. Here’s why: Discontinuity occurring in continuity implies the mind-space where identity/affirmation occurs. What this means is that while we are alive, we accumulate, process, and store information. Accumulated meaningful associations, over time, speed up this processing because our brain stores more information as we age. In other words, all other things being held equal, the mind of the forty-year-old processes more information and (hopefully) uses that information more efficiently than a thirty-year-old. Quantitatively and quantitatively time flies as we grow old. Or, even more to the point, think of how long it took to get through summer vacation between your third and forth grade school year and compare that memory with the way you experience time today!

As we attend to psychological “mind stuff” time speeds up. Nature’s meaningful and cyclic events can be measured, time as change is, typically, how we think of time, but that kind of time is not the time encountered in inquires concerning the meaning and significance of embodied physical events. If we are ever going to appropriately respond to the big questions, “time of mind” must be included, in one form or another, in the response. The physicist Edward Harrison, in his discussion of Relativity, tells us that this second nature of time (he calls it the time of becoming) is precisely what is needed if we are to put a “human face” on science. He says:

“In one sense we are aware of time as a state of being throughout which things are diversified. From this point of view the now embraces all time—the past, present, and future—in a state of being. This is the aspect of time that has been spatialized and woven into the fabric of space-time. But in another sense we are also aware of time as an act of becoming, of one state of being flowing and wheeling into another state of being…The now of today with its past, present, and future is different from the now of yesterday with its past, present, and future. The tapestry of being in each act of becoming is rewoven. This aspect of time defies spatial representation. It has been omitted from the physical universe because we have so far not learned how to express it either linguistically or mathematically. To condemn the act of becoming as an illusion oversimplifies the world in which we live….If we cannot put the now with its act of becoming into the physical universe, then it seems safe to say that we cannot put consciousness and its awareness of free will into it either. We have failed to represent in the physical universe even the rudest aspects of ourselves as experiencing individuals. Possibly the next major step in the design of universe will be the discovery of a more sophisticated way of representing time.” (Masks Of The Universe, 1985, p. 155-56)

In the time of becoming, civilizations are born, endure, and are sometimes destroyed. Anthropologically speaking, at the time when animals refused to passively accept their environment and instead worked to actively transform that environment, that was also the time when animals acquired the rudimentary beginnings of time of mind (the implicative-affirmative’s symbol-generating capacity)—the birthright of inquiry, analysis, conscience and imagination. So, we might ask, is it possible to reconcile this new concept of “time” with the time-concepts of science? Or, put it another way, maybe this new concept of time can help us to better understand why relativity theory and quantum mechanics are irreconcilable scientific theories.

Because observations occur in the space of continuity, determinism and locality 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-Relativity accurately describes natural phenomena. Einstein’s equations, when applied to the world of physical events, provide accurate information concerning our status as participating self-conscious agents in the physical universe. Likewise, quantum mechanics accurately describes natural phenomena. The phenomena being described are “fuzzy” because, as it is throughout the synchronic axis of freedom, the space that separates also embeds and connects, or, at 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, the synchronic axis of freedom tells us: Were it not for the negative space/condition of determinism, continuity, and locality, human self-consciousness, with its attributes 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!

There Is Something Deficient In Our Idea Of Time

June 13, 2009

Time, As Such, Doesn’t Exist, But As A Utilitarian Experience, What We Do With Time, Ends Up In That Familiar Experience We Call Temporality

Off hand, I can think of two real world areas of relevance that the synchronic axis of freedom speaks directly too. One is far removed from normal experience, i.e., quantum effects, and the other is so close to experience that we ignore it most of the time. It is to the latter that I will briefly direct my comments. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe it was St. Augustine who said, “When I do not think about time I know exactly what it is, but when I am asked to describe it, I find that I know nothing about what it is.” Temporality, as most of us are aware, is a very peculiar phenomenon.

Time may be described on three levels. Theoretical physics (both quantum mechanics and relativity theory) measures time in its physical aspect, that is, “the t-coordinate is an undifferentiated continuum, and, if this coordinate is ‘taken for real’ as has been the tendency among many scientists and philosophers, the familiar distinction between past, present and future, so important in human affairs, comes to be regarded as a mere peculiarity of consciousness.” [Kenneth G. Denbigh, Three Concepts of Time, 1981, p. 4.] We also encounter the concept of non-reversible time in the physical sciences. In thermodynamics and in the biological sciences the arrow of time becomes unidirectional. According to the second law of thermodynamics energy dissipates while entropy (disorder) increases. In our consciousness of the everyday succession of events we also experience a unidirectional arrow of time. We cannot unsee, unhear, unknow, etc. our experience of the processes of perception and cognition. So, we might ask, which time is real time? Conceivably there is something deficient in our idea of time. Now let’s look at time from the perspective of freedom’s synchronic dimension.

Freedom effectively replaces temporality as an operational concept. Freedom, in the sense of a logical proposition — not, not being, —here represents difference, but implies sameness. From the synchronic point of view, on a fundamental level, difference and sameness may be understood as two sides to the same coin (temporality is reversible). But, this symmetry is lost when freedom moves from its base level to a higher level of freedom, from not-life to life. Reciprocal movement, on this higher level moves in one direction only, — no assimilation, no life, however, since nothing gets out of life alive, mortality conserves reciprocal movement. Freedom, now in this higher liberated state, is free to evolve into higher life forms.

But what about human time, the time that so perplexed Parmenides, Augustine and Kant? What about the time that left the French mathematician Laplace no other option other than to declare that the existence of God was an unnecessary hypothesis? As I have already pointed out, human time comes to us by way of our senses and by way of constructed, logically consistent, scientific models used to measure time. Humans, like all the other animals, assimilate information from their environment as they adjust
schemes-of-assimilation to better accommodate their environment. What makes humans unique in this process is their capacity to create symbolic models that help them to better accommodate and assimilate their environment, which, at least in part, is a utilitarian experience.

Time, as we normally think of it, doesn’t exist, but as a utilitarian experience, what we do with time, ends up in that familiar experience we call temporality. Operationally speaking, the time of being (implied being) arises in the experience of discontinuity occurring in continuity, and we call this being “time.” When we use implication to construct temporal modals we are using “time” to understand time, — to understand the how-to-processes that help us to accommodate/assimilate our environment. On this operational level, human time is merely a by-product of discontinuity occurring in continuity, but then so too is language, number, logic, and self. The human temporal moment then, carries within itself not one account of temporality i.e., the video time of sequential physical events; it also carries within itself “the center of action,” as Piaget calls it. Mind and identity are discovered in this “center of action,” (personal identity being that degree of permanence that we experience in the midst of constant flux). And, more importantly, the forward movement of knowledge is also discovered in this liberated and liberating space that gets called “time.”

Sartre’s Reciprocal Movement Is Also A Description Of The Innate Structuring Of All structures

June 6, 2009

The Innate Structuring Capacity Of All Structures—Reciprocal Movement

Reciprocal Movement, –The Carrier Of Free Thought, The Same Free Thought That Brings Into Being Language, Myth, Science, Ethics, And Civilization

Identifying 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, 1975, 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, 1966, 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 one form or another, in all the structuralists I have discussed hitherto in this paper. 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] In an extrapolation from Sartre’s definition of the consciousness, Benoist describes that relationship as: “it is what it is not, and it is not what it is,” while I describe it as: being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is. In both cases, however, we end up with a definition for reciprocal movement.

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. In this way, Sartre is able to dispense with Descartes’ Cogito on the grounds that consciousness cannot be separated from its object. This condition, where the pre-reflective Cogito becomes a preexistent condition for the conscious awareness of objects, establishes the double movement of conscious reflection — the object of consciousness less the pre-reflective Cogito, and the pre-reflective Cogito less the object of consciousness. 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. 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 movement, the symbol-generating movement of free thought, the movement that makes thinking possible, emancipates language, myth, science, and morality. In the absence of this movement, “thinking” is restricted to the manipulation of signs—mere sensual indicators, minus the symbols that carry the significance of those same indicators.

Natural Selection (Biological Evolution) Is Itself Embedded In An Even More Fundamental Evolutionary Process, The One That Cannot Be Separated From Reciprocal Movement

In a world of context-dependent relationships, self-consciousness emerges. 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, however, when we confront social norms and rules of law, we are forced to act responsibly. In the face of societal rules, regulations, and injustice a person is forced to act responsibly. Of course, a person may also choose to act irresponsibly (civil disobedience is another choice), but for Sartre, responsibility lies in the chosen act and therefore cannot be separated from the person who chooses. If, on the other hand, we happen to be living in the episteme that Foucault characterizes 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.” Man “must traverse, duplicate and reactivate in an explicit form the articulation of thought on everything within it, around it, and beneath it which is not thought…a constantly renewed interrogation” (Order of Things, p. 324). Just as I am sure that Foucault read Sartre, I am also sure that Foucault’s description of epistemes is off the mark. I will now turn to why this is the case.

While Sartre has delineated the not-self and the consequences that follow from not-self in our everyday world of social interaction (Being And Nothingness), he stops far short of identifying the synchronic dimension encompassing both nature and human consciousness as a double movement. Since Sartre’s description of not-self, being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is, is also a description of the pure form of this double movement, we can now confidently place this reciprocal movement in the empty box that Lane described as the “innate structuring capacity of all structures.” In so far as this structure characterizes the synchronic axis of all experience, it may be thought of as unconstructed, but in so far as its form circumscribes all experience, all experience (content) may be thought of as being a product of construction (the diachronic axis of experience).

[Footnote. The diagram I will present shortly depicts this synchronic axis, nature’s synchronic axis. In the context of freedom, this axis may be understood in terms of liberation. The fact that I am writing about this subject is itself a product of the third tier of this liberation process. More specifically, discontinuity occurring in continuity (self-consciousness) while simultaneously occurring in continuity occurring in discontinuity (factual events) gets liberated from continuity occurring in discontinuity (life), which, in turn, gets liberated from pure discontinuity (non-life). In more familiar language, I am suggesting here that natural selection (biological evolution) is itself embedded in an even more fundamental evolutionary process, the one that cannot be separated from reciprocal movement, movement, which, ultimately, takes the shape of Sartre’s object pole of consciousness embedded in it’s own negation.]

Knowledge of
what’s free and what’s not free is made possible only after freedom becomes realized in its own negative space i.e., when consciousness becomes self-conscious in its own physical environment. In this sense, my diagram represents the limiting conditions of freedom. What’s free and what’s not free are context dependent and occur along the diachronic axis of experience. Multiple directions open at this juncture. Once you see the world through the “eyes” of the synchronic nature of freedom, the “center” of everything shifts. How far the “center” shifts is left basically up to you. I, however, will try to hold my discussion of freedom’s synchronic axis to a reinterpretation of the ideas that I have already considered in this paper. Before I begin, though, I want to answer a criticism that may be applied to the structuralism of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is just like it is applied to the structural movement in general, that is, that structuralism is simply a mental exercise with no “real world” relevance.

Liberation Sociology—My Own Mental Construction

June 2, 2009

A Look Into The Difference Between Deep and Surface Structure

It is shown that both in relativity theory and quantum theory, notions implying the undivided wholeness of the universe would provide a much more orderly way of considering the general nature of reality. –David Bohm, Wholeness And The Implicate Order

Liberation Sociology’s Structure

In his introductory chapter on structuralism Michael Lane informs us:

“Probably the most distinctive feature of the structuralist method is the emphasis it gives to wholes, to totalities. Traditionally, in Anglo-American social science, structure has been used as an analytical concept to break down sets into their constituent elements, an essentially atomistic exercise. As structuralists understand and employ the term, a new importance has been given to the logical priority of the whole over its parts. They insist that the whole and the parts can be properly explained only in terms of the relations that exist between the parts. The essential quality of the structuralist method, and its fundamental tenet, lies in its attempt to study not the elements of a whole, but the complex network of relationships that link and unite those elements.” [Michael Lane, Introduction To Structuralism, 1970, p. 14-15]

On the page following the above quote, Lane provides a diagram, which relates the observable effects of structure to non-observable structure, i.e., the structure, talked about in this paper (the structure in parentheses). In the diagram below, let the + sign represent Lane’s boxes. The top four +’s represent deep structure while the bottom three +’s represent surface structure. In Lane’s diagram lines connect the boxes.


Deep Innate structuring capacity

+ + +
Structure of Structure Structure of
language myth (liberation) kinship (myth/binary opposition)

+ + +
Speech, Myths Patterns of
discourse (culture) marriage and family relations

Saussure (language context), Chomsky (linguistic units), Cassirer (liberation), and Levi-Strauss (binary opposition) have provided considerable content, each in their own field of inquiry, on the deep structure that fills in the empty space of the deep structure boxes. The empty space in the very top box, however, for all practical purposes, remains empty. I would now like to provide the “filler” for this box. But, before I describe this “filler” I want to extend the diagram to include three more boxes, one for Foucault, with his deep structure, his power/knowledge relationship, and in the surface box, let stand his episteme vocabulary. Next we add a box for logical and mathematical thought. In the deep structure box put Godel’s Incompleteness proof, the primitive logical operators of and, or, not, and implication, and a few basic laws like contradiction and identity. In the surface level box you will find various axiomatic systems, –Peano’s axioms, multiple geometries, the logician’s truth functional propositions etc. And finally, we must add a box for Jean-Paul Sartre’s description of consciousness (being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is). Most of my description of the top box will come from Sartre’s philosophy. But, Sartre’s thought in general, cannot be included in the top box.

Sartre describes human consciousness in such a way as to allow for the “objects of consciousness” to fill in the surface level box while his deep structure, or Sartre’s for-itself structure (being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is) takes its place in the deep structure box. However, in the top box, the box that Lane calls the “innate structuring capacity” of all structures also contains the structure of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is. I need to digress a bit and talk about Sartre’s ontology to make this clearer.