Posts Tagged ‘analysis’

Newsflash Extra Extra Proof Of Gods Existence

October 9, 2009

Here’s something different. Think of this post as being consistent with my thesis/story, but not part of it. My thesis, unbeknownst to my Professors at the time, succeeded on two levels. First, it satisfied a 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 both release and preservation, bond and liberation, is what’s happening within the polarity of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is,–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 is the meaning of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-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 that evolve from simple to more complex life forms.

Some evolved 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. True, aliens do exist, but we walk among them because we are them. Life forms that answer to a “more evolved form” are the symbol producing, problem solving, psychologically complex life forms that go by the name Homo sapiens. Being born into this select population, being alive in the species that “answers to this more evolved form,” brings with it not just self-awareness in a physical environment (the participatory moment of a conscious self in the physical event of a self-conscious being), but also the immense potential to expand one’s freedom and horizons. What I am trying to communicate here is unfamiliar, so what follows is my attempt to simplify the language with a picture, a picture of the “forms” that, ultimately, culminates in the species that “answers to a higher “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 transformation state of freedom—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. With the advent of self-consciousness, freedom again moves forward. The V grows larger (and wider) as the story of the history of human civilization unfolds.

What the above transformational states of God’s freedom are defining is God in the phenomenal world as immanence 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 the ancient Greeks have told us, in Mythos and Logos is where the world lies. We, as self-conscious beings, embedded in sensual experience, 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, i.e., the freedom to think thoughts.

Discontinuity occurring in continuity (~bb) is like a chisel splitting wood, the wood (conscious wood in this example) experiences a gap, hole, or emptiness in itself. Likewise, in human consciousness, the gap, hole, or emptiness experienced is the result of discontinuity occurring in the continuity of consciousness. 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 (the “mental given”) of consciousness. 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 perspective, the connection that connects logical form, world, and freedom tells us: 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!

To sum up my spiritual worldview as it relates to modern science (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 very close to what Wolfgang Pauli believed. A Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Pauli, 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)

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, books, ethics, all that gets called civilization would not exist. The Not-Me-Self has an even greater significance, though, for in it resides the potential to liberate Divinity. The Implicative Affirmative of the Not-Me-Self is, in fact, the Logos image of God made whole in woman/man/humanity.

I want to conclude this post with a brief account of the social implications that follow from the Not-Me-Self (the “~bb” of b~b~bb). In addition to liberating human cognition, the Not-Me-Self also liberates good and bad feelings. The “or else,” that typically follows a command, is written in the blood of the rise and fall of civilizations. The civilizing process, to be sure, is not just a product of war mongering, influence peddling, and greed. Benevolence, generosity and good will move the civilizing process forward. I believe that, under the best of conditions, humans will choose kindness and consideration over uncaring and selfish behavior. In fact, for me, altruism, compassion, the “golden rule” (in all its forms) defines the Omega point of Divine liberation. This is not just wishful thinking; it is the only voice that calls forth from the Not-Me-Self. Because this voice is based in self/other interdependence, whose only claim to authority is a claim to contingency, this voice grounds individual freedoms and the emancipatory right of Others. This contingency, at the center of the Not-Me-Self, establishes the right of the Other to his/her otherness while it also establishes the basis of legitimacy from which to construct, express, and defend my own rights. Because this voice is universal, it also provides an ideal basis from which to critique the legitimatization of social and political power structures, as it also provides the ideal basis from which to evaluate justice, equality, and individual and collective freedoms.

Following from the right to my own contingency, and following from the right of the Other to her/his contingency, arises the politics of emancipation. This politics entails 1) the freeing of social life from the fixities of tradition and custom, 2) the reduction (or elimination) of exploitation, inequality and oppression (which includes the right to a living wage, universal health care, and protection from wrongful harms), and 3) the liberation of Divinity—the perpetuation of a more egalitarian social order, a social order that is based on insuring the availability of a standard of living (quality of life) sufficient for the actualization of individual freedoms. In other words, in the language of “how one ought to behave,” one should behave in a way that is consistent with Divinity’s liberation, consistent with self/other interdependence, consistent with life enhancement—righting the wrongs that perpetuate unnecessary suffering and pain.

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September 30, 2009

100_3109The Defining Condition Of Ambivalence/Self Becomes Identified With A “Neither This Nor That” Circumstance

Prospectus Continued

If the genesis of ambivalence can be located in the differentiating space [to paraphrase Thom’s (1983, p.187) description of Simmel’s concept of a person], arising between what is simultaneously social and individual, social, in the form of the product of sociological categories, and individual, as the stranger existing outside of sociological categories, then the defining condition of ambivalence/self becomes identified with a “neither this nor that” circumstance. It is for this reason that ambivalence, in its most primitive form, becomes objectified as a “flight from ambivalence.” This “flight from ambivalence,” in turn, may be understood to be a powerful contributing factor to both the closing of the mind of the bigot, and, the modern penchant for division, domination, order, and technology.

In modern society’s matter-centered universe a human being’s “so-called” value and worth is never far removed from some objective measure that claims to be able to scientifically predict and explain human behavior. In this research project I propose to challenge this idea by putting forth a theory of self that recognizes ambivalence to be the locus of self where cognitive objects acquire salience. In this way I hope to show that science, or, as F. S. Northrop defines it (1946, p. 301), “the hypothetically proposed, apriori, theoretical component indirectly confirmed through its deductive consequences,” is merely one of the many expressive possibilities of a creative self and should, therefore, be judged accordingly.

In so far as I am to identify, in this research project, the locus of convergence of three relatively unrelated research areas – prejudice, ambivalence, and self-theory, I have made a survey of the relevant literature in the various research fields. Since the scope of this project is large, my survey of the literature has been more selective than comprehensive, so, in the interest of brevity and coherence, I will describe this literature from its convergent theoretical perspective. Therefore, the next section of this prospectus combines my survey of literature with my theoretical perspective.

It Is The So-Called Democratic Personality Who Is Saddled With Painful Ambivalences

I Will Argue How Ambivalence, In Its Most Elemental Form, and Self (As Defined By a Three-Term Relationship), Are Reflections Of One Another
Prospectus Continued

Survey of Literature and Theoretical Foundation

There will be a brief overview of theories concerning prejudice. My focus will be on prejudice as way to harden cognitive boundaries. In this respect, prejudice and fear will be connected. Sartre (1965) and Held (1980) will be quoted in support of this connection. I will continue to explore prejudice by citing Aboud’s (1988, p.4) definition: “Prejudice refers to an organized predisposition to respond in an unfavorable manner toward people from an ethnic group because of their ethnic affiliation.” I will briefly discuss Allport’s (1958) reflective theory of prejudice, that is, the idea that prejudice is a product of an environment where power, status and competition are reflected in the attitudes of the people who compete for power and status; and then I will turn to Adorno’s (et al., 1950) view of prejudice as it may be understood as a result of a child’s inner conflict with his/her authoritarian parents. The cognitive developmental theory of prejudice will also be mentioned (Piaget and Weil, 1951), as will a number of studies linking prejudice, or, attitudes toward marginal groups, with ambivalence (Myrdal, 1944; Katz, 1981; Katz and Hass, 1988; Hass, Katz, Rizzo, Bailey, and Eisenstadt, 1991; and Hass, Katz, Rizzo, Bailey and Moore, 1992).

At this point I will turn my attention to the literature of ambivalence beginning with Merton’s (1976) use of Bleuler’s (1910) coinage of the word. Bleuler identified three types of ambivalence which, according to Robert Merton (1976, p.3), may be characterized as: “the emotional (or affective) type in which the same object arouses both positive and negative feelings, as in parent-child relations; the voluntary (or conative) type in which conflicting wishes make it difficult or impossible to decide how to act; and the intellectual (or cognitive) type, in which men hold contradictory ideas.” Ever since Bleuler, ambivalence has been an object for investigation by psychologists and sociologists alike.

I will briefly discuss the basis of ambivalence as it is presented by Freud (1939) and further interpreted by Thom (1983). I will then take a much closer look at how ambivalence, as a motivating factor, plays itself out in Adorno’s (et al., 1950) Authoritarian Personality. Using quotations from Billig (1982) and Gregg (1991), I will argue that an ambivalence grounded self is perpetually looking for an escape from ambivalence. Both of these authors have argued in a similar fashion and a good example of what this means for the individual is readily expressed in the following quote from Billig. Although ambivalence may generate negative as well as positive affects, this particular quote is an example of a positive affect. According to Billig’s (1982, p. 147) reading of Rosenberg and Abelson’s Congruity Model of cognitive consistency, ambivalence may be defined in the following way:

“Ambivalence refers to ‘the simultaneous presence of positive and negative affect in reaction to a cognized object’. Ambivalences are forms of inconsistency or incongruity, and as such they are ‘tension-arousing’ – ‘they set in motion processes directed toward their removal’, because ‘if the ambivalences are not removed, they continue to be unpleasant, even painful, to the subject so long as he continues to think about the concepts at issue’. Thus there is an implication that the authoritarian personality, whose basic motivation, according to the theory of Adorno et al., is an intolerance of ambiguity, is someone who has been able to remove inconsistencies; it is the so-called democratic personality who is saddled with painful ambivalences.”

Focusing on Thom’s (1984, p.xi) treatment of self as “the overcoming of the primitive ambivalence or opposition between the modes of difference and no difference….(and,) as some combination of difference and equality, dividing and making equal or identical,” I will begin to argue how ambivalence and self are intrinsically connected. Continuing this line of reasoning, I will discuss Simmel’s (Levine, 1971) concept of man as both the fixing of boundaries and the reaching out across these boundaries, and, Billig’s (1987, p.5) presentation of the categorization/particularization interdependence that characterizes the “inner deliberations [or] silent arguments conducted within a single self,” I will then proceed to argue how ambivalence, in its most elemental form, and self (as defined by a three-term relationship) are reflections of one another.

This argument will begin with a description of Descartes’ cogito (Flew, 1979), giving specific attention to the “identity” inference implied by this cogito. This inference is described by Anscombe (Ed. Cassam,1994, p152) as: “The thinking that thinks this thought–that is what is guaranteed by cogito”. I will then describe how the self, when the self is understood in terms of a triadic relationship, – “me-self,” the negation of the “me-self,” and, the “I-self,” – offers a different conceptual basis from which to derive the “identity” inference without attaching itself to Descartes’ excess baggage, or, as this baggage is described by Hermans, et al., (1993, p. 39), “the existence of a unitary, closed, highly centralized subject or self, as an entity in itself, having an existence ‘above’ or ‘outside’ the social environment.”

With the triadic self-concept in place, I will then proceed to describe why “a relativity to a basis,” according to Evans (Ed. Cassam, 1994, p. 196), “becomes a conditional attribute of the self-ascription of mental predicates,” and, why acquiring knowledge (accessing the truth or falsity of knowledge) invokes an act of self-reference where the subject is required to reflect on the credibility, or basis, of the knowledge in question.

From this model of a triadic concept of self I will be able to forcefully argue that much of what Mead (1934) and James (1890) described as the socially generated component parts of self, is, in fact, an accurate description of self. However, I will also argue that, as a consequence of the conditional attribute of the self-ascription of mental predicates, a second, inner component of self is at work. It is this inner component of self that generates the salience of cognitive objects, and, in so far as this inner-self is capable of instantiating inner directed values, e.g., numbers, sets, multi-valued logics, this inner-self makes possible the hypothetical-deductive method of scientific explanation and prediction. It is relevant that the source of these inner values can be traced to the space that differentiates the self into a “neither this” (social), “nor that” (individual), circumstance, as opposed to Descartes’ “clear and distinct ideas” that, since the time of Descartes, have been identified as the source of these values. My discussion of science as a type of self-investigation of informational states should make this idea more clear. In lieu of this discussion I will cite literature on negation as it pertains to differentiation and affirmation (Billig, 1982; Blanco, 1975, Thoms, 1962, Gale, 1976).

After citing some friendly theoretical perspectives (Angyal, 1941; Jung, 1969; Billig, 1987 & 1982; Gregg, 1991; Hermans & Kempen 1993), that I believe are sympathetically disposed to my own position, – that of an ambivalence shunning, salience generating triadic self concept, – I will turn my attention to the literature of Self-Cognizing Research and the literature of Self-Inference Process and Motivation. In this literature clarifying insights and supportive empirical data will be cited.

The Defining Condition Of Ambivalence/Self Becomes Identified With A “Neither This Nor That” Circumstance

Prospectus Continued

If the genesis of ambivalence can be located in the differentiating space [to paraphrase Thom’s (1983, p.187) description of Simmel’s concept of a person], arising between what is simultaneously social and individual, social, in the form of the product of sociological categories, and individual, as the stranger existing outside of sociological categories, then the defining condition of ambivalence/self becomes identified with a “neither this nor that” circumstance. It is for this reason that ambivalence, in its most primitive form, becomes objectified as a “flight from ambivalence.” This “flight from ambivalence,” in turn, may be understood to be a powerful contributing factor to both the closing of the mind of the bigot, and, the modern penchant for division, domination, order, and technology.

In modern society’s matter-centered universe a human being’s “so-called” value and worth is never far removed from some objective measure that claims to be able to scientifically predict and explain human behavior. In this research project I propose to challenge this idea by putting forth a theory of self that recognizes ambivalence to be the locus of self where cognitive objects acquire salience. In this way I hope to show that science, or, as F. S. Northrop defines it (1946, p. 301), “the hypothetically proposed, apriori, theoretical component indirectly confirmed through its deductive consequences,” is merely one of the many expressive possibilities of a creative self and should, therefore, be judged accordingly.

In so far as I am to identify, in this research project, the locus of convergence of three relatively unrelated research areas – prejudice, ambivalence, and self-theory, I have made a survey of the relevant literature in the various research fields. Since the scope of this project is large, my survey of the literature has been more selective than comprehensive, so, in the interest of brevity and coherence, I will describe this literature from its convergent theoretical perspective. Therefore, the next section of this prospectus combines my survey of literature with my theoretical perspective.

It Is The So-Called Democratic Personality Who Is Saddled With Painful Ambivalences

I Will Argue How Ambivalence, In Its Most Elemental Form, and Self (As Defined By a Three-Term Relationship), Are Reflections Of One Another
Prospectus Continued

Survey of Literature and Theoretical Foundation

There will be a brief overview of theories concerning prejudice. My focus will be on prejudice as way to harden cognitive boundaries. In this respect, prejudice and fear will be connected. Sartre (1965) and Held (1980) will be quoted in support of this connection. I will continue to explore prejudice by citing Aboud’s (1988, p.4) definition: “Prejudice refers to an organized predisposition to respond in an unfavorable manner toward people from an ethnic group because of their ethnic affiliation.” I will briefly discuss Allport’s (1958) reflective theory of prejudice, that is, the idea that prejudice is a product of an environment where power, status and competition are reflected in the attitudes of the people who compete for power and status; and then I will turn to Adorno’s (et al., 1950) view of prejudice as it may be understood as a result of a child’s inner conflict with his/her authoritarian parents. The cognitive developmental theory of prejudice will also be mentioned (Piaget and Weil, 1951), as will a number of studies linking prejudice, or, attitudes toward marginal groups, with ambivalence (Myrdal, 1944; Katz, 1981; Katz and Hass, 1988; Hass, Katz, Rizzo, Bailey, and Eisenstadt, 1991; and Hass, Katz, Rizzo, Bailey and Moore, 1992).

At this point I will turn my attention to the literature of ambivalence beginning with Merton’s (1976) use of Bleuler’s (1910) coinage of the word. Bleuler identified three types of ambivalence which, according to Robert Merton (1976, p.3), may be characterized as: “the emotional (or affective) type in which the same object arouses both positive and negative feelings, as in parent-child relations; the voluntary (or conative) type in which conflicting wishes make it difficult or impossible to decide how to act; and the intellectual (or cognitive) type, in which men hold contradictory ideas.” Ever since Bleuler, ambivalence has been an object for investigation by psychologists and sociologists alike.

I will briefly discuss the basis of ambivalence as it is presented by Freud (1939) and further interpreted by Thom (1983). I will then take a much closer look at how ambivalence, as a motivating factor, plays itself out in Adorno’s (et al., 1950) Authoritarian Personality. Using quotations from Billig (1982) and Gregg (1991), I will argue that an ambivalence grounded self is perpetually looking for an escape from ambivalence. Both of these authors have argued in a similar fashion and a good example of what this means for the individual is readily expressed in the following quote from Billig. Although ambivalence may generate negative as well as positive affects, this particular quote is an example of a positive affect. According to Billig’s (1982, p. 147) reading of Rosenberg and Abelson’s Congruity Model of cognitive consistency, ambivalence may be defined in the following way:

“Ambivalence refers to ‘the simultaneous presence of positive and negative affect in reaction to a cognized object’. Ambivalences are forms of inconsistency or incongruity, and as such they are ‘tension-arousing’ – ‘they set in motion processes directed toward their removal’, because ‘if the ambivalences are not removed, they continue to be unpleasant, even painful, to the subject so long as he continues to think about the concepts at issue’. Thus there is an implication that the authoritarian personality, whose basic motivation, according to the theory of Adorno et al., is an intolerance of ambiguity, is someone who has been able to remove inconsistencies; it is the so-called democratic personality who is saddled with painful ambivalences.”

Focusing on Thom’s (1984, p.xi) treatment of self as “the overcoming of the primitive ambivalence or opposition between the modes of difference and no difference….(and,) as some combination of difference and equality, dividing and making equal or identical,” I will begin to argue how ambivalence and self are intrinsically connected. Continuing this line of reasoning, I will discuss Simmel’s (Levine, 1971) concept of man as both the fixing of boundaries and the reaching out across these boundaries, and, Billig’s (1987, p.5) presentation of the categorization/particularization interdependence that characterizes the “inner deliberations [or] silent arguments conducted within a single self,” I will then proceed to argue how ambivalence, in its most elemental form, and self (as defined by a three-term relationship) are reflections of one another.

This argument will begin with a description of Descartes’ cogito (Flew, 1979), giving specific attention to the “identity” inference implied by this cogito. This inference is described by Anscombe (Ed. Cassam,1994, p152) as: “The thinking that thinks this thought–that is what is guaranteed by cogito”. I will then describe how the self, when the self is understood in terms of a triadic relationship, – “me-self,” the negation of the “me-self,” and, the “I-self,” – offers a different conceptual basis from which to derive the “identity” inference without attaching itself to Descartes’ excess baggage, or, as this baggage is described by Hermans, et al., (1993, p. 39), “the existence of a unitary, closed, highly centralized subject or self, as an entity in itself, having an existence ‘above’ or ‘outside’ the social environment.”

With the triadic self-concept in place, I will then proceed to describe why “a relativity to a basis,” according to Evans (Ed. Cassam, 1994, p. 196), “becomes a conditional attribute of the self-ascription of mental predicates,” and, why acquiring knowledge (accessing the truth or falsity of knowledge) invokes an act of self-reference where the subject is required to reflect on the credibility, or basis, of the knowledge in question.

From this model of a triadic concept of self I will be able to forcefully argue that much of what Mead (1934) and James (1890) described as the socially generated component parts of self, is, in fact, an accurate description of self. However, I will also argue that, as a consequence of the conditional attribute of the self-ascription of mental predicates, a second, inner component of self is at work. It is this inner component of self that generates the salience of cognitive objects, and, in so far as this inner-self is capable of instantiating inner directed values, e.g., numbers, sets, multi-valued logics, this inner-self makes possible the hypothetical-deductive method of scientific explanation and prediction. It is relevant that the source of these inner values can be traced to the space that differentiates the self into a “neither this” (social), “nor that” (individual), circumstance, as opposed to Descartes’ “clear and distinct ideas” that, since the time of Descartes, have been identified as the source of these values. My discussion of science as a type of self-investigation of informational states should make this idea more clear. In lieu of this discussion I will cite literature on negation as it pertains to differentiation and affirmation (Billig, 1982; Blanco, 1975, Thoms, 1962, Gale, 1976).

After citing some friendly theoretical perspectives (Angyal, 1941; Jung, 1969; Billig, 1987 & 1982; Gregg, 1991; Hermans & Kempen 1993), that I believe are sympathetically disposed to my own position, – that of an ambivalence shunning, salience generating triadic self concept, – I will turn my attention to the literature of Self-Cognizing Research and the literature of Self-Inference Process and Motivation. In this literature clarifying insights and supportive empirical data will be cited.100_3109

Lift A Stone And God Is There; Ask A Question And God Is There

August 22, 2009

jasper daveIn The Beginning was the paradox: How does unity coexist with multiplicity? How does oneness make room for otherness? How does the all- perfect source become something less than it-self? God, being up for this challenge, solved the dilemma, and She did this by (gender is optional here, in fact, it’s probably best to think of God in terms of process, in terms of “processing divinity”) the liberation of Her own non-being. This event had to be performed in such a way so as God could 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, 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 divine immanence gets called “reality.”

Bare with me here, I’m learning how to negotiate my World Press blog. I just started using tags and I tried it out on an old post but it did not work the way I had hoped, so I created this post (from some other writing of mine) and using a bit of  my old post (with the old tags) I, hopefully,  will learn how to blog better.  What follows is from the old blog:

So, to begin this imagined conversation (at a High School class reunion which I never attended): after a few beers and the friendly chit chat out of the way, and after hearing the life stories of everybody sitting at the table, it was my turn to contribute to the conversation. After verbally celebrating my wife, two children, pets, and my never ending love for music, I had run out of things to say; that is, until the conversation had turned away from health issues and the topic of religion came up. After listening to my friends religious views which ranged from non-belief to Christian belief to a belief in a kind of pantheism, I surprised everyone by giving a different point of view. I said, “I’ve been searching for God most of my life, but after about 40 years of searching I found something to believe in.” Well, as you might imagine, everyone wanted to know which God I had found. So I told them—“God, the God of all religions, even the God that is purported not to exit, is alive and well and doing just fine.” And again, as you might expect, this assertion was quickly challenged and even became the object of some ridicule. Paul, however, came to my rescue when he asked me to expand on what the God of all religions means.

“For me,” I said, “God is not only one with nature, God is also one with the learning process that both asks and answers questions, questions pertaining to God, nature, and everything else. And because of this, God has many names; in fact there is no one name that can fully express God’s divinity. The expression of ‘difference, no difference,’ since that expression encompasses all distinctions, all identities, all differences, all that ‘is’ and ‘is not,’ seems to me to be the best description of the God that I believe in. So, basically, my search for God ended when I found that I could express God, the functionality of God, in the linguistic expression ‘difference, no difference.’”

“And what pray tell is the functionality of God?” asked Paul.

“The short answer to your question,” I replied, “is that there isn’t a short answer to your question, but I’ll give it a go anyhow. We encounter the manifestation of ‘difference, no difference’ in the physical nature of ‘quantum strangeness,’ and again in the terminal state of death in the biological sciences, and yet again in the maintenance of our own ‘conscious identity,’ the identity that demonstrates a degree of permanence in the midst of constant change. All of this and more is the functionality of God. In other words, everything—our physical environment, life, identity, analysis, truth, justice, and religious meaning, are attributes of the functionality of God.”

“So how is your vision of God different from pantheism,” replied Paul.

“As functionality,” I responded, “God manifests ‘difference,’ but as Divinity, God manifests ‘no difference.’ In other words, God is both immanent in nature, while being transcendent to nature. Also, God’s functionality, as it evolves, evolves qualitative differences, differences that emerge in the human being as the quest for truth, justice, and religious meaning. Functional differences, all of them, are made whole through Divinity, but in human consciousness, the qualitative difference of free will emerges. Free will separates and divides Divinity, but even this divided Divinity is made whole in the God of transcendence, and that is why the concept of pantheism is really not adequate when it comes to expressing my vision of God.”

“Christians understand ‘judgment day,’” responded Paul, “as a balance to free will. How does this God of yours handle unnecessary suffering, rewards and punishments?”

“Even though I am expressing my own personal vision of God,” I replied, “others have expressed concepts of Divinity similar to mine. In Whitehead’s process reality, for instance, the judgmental God of Christianity does not exist, but Divinity exists, and within this Divinity judgment, rewards and punishments also exist. God is ‘eternal presence,’ for Whitehead, and as such God bears witness to all past and present occasions. The future, however, is like an unused role of film. Being exposed, it is always in the process of being developed. God works through the transition from the eternal to the actual, and from the actual back to the eternal and in this respect, the entire physical universe is processing its way back to God. God is the reason for all becoming, and nothing exists that is separate from God. So how does Whitehead deal with unnecessary pain, cruelty, and injustice? He combines freedom with feelings and that unique combination changes everything because if a retributive justice is called for here, then one has to look no farther then the first mirror to pinpoint the guilty. Insofar as occasions conform to their environment, insofar as the ‘self-aim’ conforms to its immediate past, there is determinism, but insofar as any entity modifies its response through the subjective element of feeling, there is freedom. Feeling and freedom are codependent for Whitehead, and God is in touch with all feelings. God is there, inside agonizing screams, and God is there in suffering, especially suffering caused by injustice. God is there also, however, in all hopes, joys, and happiness, in addition to fears, regrets, and sorrows. Good feelings move the world forward to a better place. It is feeling that gives subjective aim to occasions. We encounter, in good feelings, the ‘allure of realization.’ It is possible to create a more humane, peaceful, and loving world. Whitehead said as much, and Gandhi told us how to proceed, ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’—both in life and love.’ This is the Divine dynamic that shouts out for change in the world and if no action is taken to prevent unnecessary pain, cruelty and injustice then we only have ourselves to b
lame. In my vision of God, feelings and freedom are necessarily connected also. Ultimately then, all that is meant by spirit and the spiritual— all intuitive sensitivity and religiously felt compassion—is there in the whole of Divinity, embracing human nature and nature’s creatures, up through the many levels and transformations of freedom until it finally becomes manifest in the life long pursuit of love, caring, happiness and reverence. And, all of this too, represents the functionality of God.”

God—The Topic Of Conversation

April 11, 2009
Creation Of Adam

Okay, the other day I found myself mulling over whether or not I wanted to go to my next High School class reunion and almost immediately I was overcome with this feeling of dread; after all, do I, a life long janitor, really want to throw myself into that mix of story telling, story telling that on one level amounts to real communication, while, on a different level, offers up the evenings real entertainment of pinning the tail on the people who made it as opposed to the under achievers. Well, I didn’t have to think very hard before I came up with my “no answer” to that question. The problem was, though, that I couldn’t help but keep thinking about what it would be like if I did go to that class of ‘66 reunion. It was a slow Friday at work, so I proceeded to follow my imaginings until I had enough content to proceed with this writing project, which I now offer up as a light hearted “time out” from my structuralism posts. I guess I should point out that it’s been twenty years since I last attended my high school reunion. I do not feel bad about that, but I do feel a bit guilty about not attending the last scheduled reunion because a high school friend telephoned to encourage me to attend that reunion and begged off. Anyway, what follows is a bit of what I imagined I would say to my friends if indeed I ever do attend a future class reunion, but first some context details.

In high school I grouped with the smart kids (I was kind of an outlier, but my curiosity and enthusiasm for learning always garnered approval). All my friends were on the fast track to success. I came from a small school in a small town, so the kind of success I’m talking about is mostly the kind that keeps society moving along on an even keel– middle class success, but there were/are always exceptions. For instance, after I googled the name of the friend that telephoned me (let’s call him Paul), I stopped clicking the computer mouse after page seven. The list of his accomplishments continued, however.

So, to begin this imagined conversation: after a few beers and the friendly chit chat out of the way, and after hearing the life stories of everybody sitting at the table, it was my turn to contribute to the conversation. After verbally celebrating my wife, two children, pets, and my never ending love for music, I had run out of things to say; that is, until the conversation had turned away from health issues and the topic of religion came up. After listening to my friends religious views which ranged from non-belief to Christian belief to a belief in a kind of pantheism, I surprised everyone by giving a different point of view. I said, “I’ve been searching for God most of my life, but after about 40 years of searching I found something to believe in.” Well, as you might imagine, everyone wanted to know which God I had found. So I told them—“God, the God of all religions, even the God that is purported not to exit, is alive and well and doing just fine.” And again, as you might expect, this assertion was quickly challenged and even became the object of some ridicule. Paul, however, came to my rescue when he asked me to expand on what the God of all religions means.

“For me,” I said, “God is not only one with nature, God is also one with the learning process that both asks and answers questions, questions pertaining to God, nature, and everything else. And because of this, God has many names; in fact there is no one name that can fully express God’s divinity. The expression of ‘difference, no difference,’ since that expression encompasses all distinctions, all identities, all differences, all that ‘is’ and ‘is not,’ seems to me to be the best description of the God that I believe in. So, basically, my search for God ended when I found that I could express God, the functionality of God, in the linguistic expression ‘difference, no difference.’”

“And what pray tell is the functionality of God?” asked Paul.

“The short answer to your question,” I replied, “is that there isn’t a short answer to your question, but I’ll give it a go anyhow. We encounter the manifestation of ‘difference, no difference’ in the physical nature of ‘quantum strangeness,’ and again in the terminal state of death in the biological sciences, and yet again in the maintenance of our own ‘conscious identity,’ the identity that demonstrates a degree of permanence in the midst of constant change. All of this and more is the functionality of God. In other words, everything—our physical environment, life, identity, analysis, truth, justice, and religious meaning, are attributes of the functionality of God.”

“So how is your vision of God different from pantheism,” replied Paul.

“As functionality,” I responded, “God manifests ‘difference,’ but as Divinity, God manifests ‘no difference.’ In other words, God is both immanent in nature, while being transcendent to nature. Also, God’s functionality, as it evolves, evolves qualitative differences, differences that emerge in the human being as the quest for truth, justice, and religious meaning. Functional differences, all of them, are made whole through Divinity, but in human consciousness, the qualitative difference of free will emerges. Free will separates and divides Divinity, but even this divided Divinity is made whole in the God of transcendence, and that is why the concept of pantheism is really not adequate when it comes to expressing my vision of God.”

“Christians understand ‘judgment day,’” responded Paul, “as a balance to free will. How does this God of yours handle unnecessary suffering, rewards and punishments?”

“Even though I am expressing my own personal vision of God,” I replied, “others have expressed concepts of Divinity similar to mine. In Whitehead’s process reality, for instance, the judgmental God of Christianity does not exist, but Divinity exists, and within this Divinity judgment, rewards and punishments also exist. God is ‘eternal presence,’ for Whitehead, and as such God bears witness to all past and present occasions. The future, however, is like an unused role of film. Being exposed, it is always in the process of being developed. God works through the transition from the eternal to the actual, and from the actual back to the eternal and in this respect, the entire physical universe is processing its way back to God. God is the reason for all becoming, and nothing exists that is separate from God. So how does Whitehead deal with unnecessary pain, cruelty, and injustice? He combines freedom with feelings and that unique combination changes everything because if a retributive justice is called for here, then one has to look no farther then the first mirror to pinpoint the guilty. Insofar as occasions conform to their environment, insofar as the ‘self-aim’ conforms to its immediate past, there is determinism, but insofar as any entity modifies its response through the subjective element of feeling, there is freedom. Feeling and freedom are codependent for Whitehead, and God is in touch with all feelings. God is there, inside agonizing screams, and God is there in suffering, especially suffering caused by injustice. God is there also, however, in all hopes, joys, and happiness, in addition to fears, regrets, and sorrows. Good feelings move the world forward to a better place. It is feeling that gives subjective aim to occasions. We encounter, in good feelings, the ‘allure of realization.’ It is possible to create a more humane, peaceful, and loving world. Whitehead said as much, and Gandhi told us how to proceed, ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’—both in life and love.’ This is the Divine dynamic that shouts out for change in the world and if no action is taken to prevent unnecessary pain, cruelty and injustice then we only have ourselves to b
lame. In my vision of God, feelings and freedom are necessarily connected also. Ultimately then, all that is meant by spirit and the spiritual— all intuitive sensitivity and religiously felt compassion—is there in the whole of Divinity, embracing human nature and nature’s creatures, up through the many levels and transformations of freedom until it finally becomes manifest in the life long pursuit of love, caring, happiness and reverence. And, all of this too, represents the functionality of God.”