Posts Tagged ‘justice’

Inter-Connectivity Of Everything

November 27, 2011

 

 

 

Physics Discussion Concluded

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

Nov. 2011

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

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

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained

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

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

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

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

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Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained-Question and Solution

April 23, 2010

The source of the question and the solution to the problem

Part 4 of 4 posts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained

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

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

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

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

Whole Universe Of Necessary Opposites End Of Life Story Chapter 4

January 9, 2010

The back and forth banter between the devil and I continues as our conversation moves into, via examples of aesthetic religious traditions, a discussion of the universe and the necessary opposites that frame the universe. Without these opposites there would be no bumble bees, frogs, whales, polar bears…; no music, cell phones, hospitals, universities…; no coliseums, museums, markets, billionaires…; no planets, sunshine, galaxies, black holes…Big Bang.

We Do Not Become Conscious Of The Universe The Universe Becomes Conscious Of Consciousness

The Sectarian Nature Of Brahman Is Not The Ultimate Expression Of Religion

Future Time Nine Continued

“We must shift gears here,” said MV, “and think of the universe not as something that consciousness defines, but, rather, as something that defines consciousness, and yes, I think this premise does include Whitehead’s philosophy, but taking a structural approach to this idea is a bit of a stretch, hence your inability to communicate it.”

“You don’t have to tell me what I already know,” I replied. ‘However, in the aesthetic religions of Buddhism, the Upanishad philosophy in Hinduism, and the Chinese Tao Te Ching, you also see the principle of ‘divine necessary opposites.’”

“How so,” responded MV.

“Take, for instance, the atman/Brahman distinction in the Upanishads; the ancient sages of India perceived no chasm between nature, humanity, and divinity. As the source of being, Brahman was the manifestation of all existence. But, for the wise sage, Brahman and atman are one, atman been the “seed of individuality,” or what we call in the West “self.” This unity follows because at the source of being lies double negation and after the appropriate transformations this same double negation ends up in the more complex structure of b~b~bb, the structure that grounds human individuality. In the Brahman/atman/self distinction double negation implies the affirmation of nature, humanity, and divinity, and,—as above as below—this affirmation is embedded in the necessary opposites of divinity. In the language of my synchronic description of the universe, double negation turns into the ‘self-content’ of self-consciousness, or the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self. And again, in the language of Christian mysticism, the double negative turns into what the Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, called the ‘purest form of unity.’ A word of caution here, though, just because the Upanishads and Christian mysticism may celebrate the same source, they remain products of different religious traditions; this follows from the b~b~bb structure that grounds human individuality. In other words, the sectarian nature of any religion speaks only through its own tradition because all religions are a product of the individuality that speaks through the form of b~b~bb, which, in turn, lies embedded in nature, humanity, and divinity. The Buddhist tradition comes as close as any tradition in expressing this idea. Here’s how one of my old Professors expressed divinity from a Buddhist perspective:

[“There is a cloud here in this piece of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either.

The cloud and the paper inter-are. Perhaps the word ‘interbeing’ should be in the dictionary.

If we look deeply, we see that in the paper there is also the sun; nothing can grow without sunshine. The paper and the sun inter-are.

We can see the logger. The mill (and its effluent). We see the wheat from fields that fed the logger. For there is no paper without the logger, and the logger cannot log without daily bread. Likewise, the logger’s father and mother are also in this paper.

Looking deeply, we see ourselves in the paper. When we look at the paper, it is our perception; your mind and my mind meet in this paper, and we are both there.

What is NOT here in the sheet of paper? Time, space, the earth, rain, minerals, the sun, cloud, river, heat—everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains the universe in it. How can it fit?

The paper entirely depends upon non-paper elements, things that are not in themselves paper, such as carbon, and the sun, and the logger’s mother. And yet without them, there is no paper.

To be is to inter-be with every things, non—us things. Like the paper, we are inevitably vast; we include all that is other than ourselves.

As one Civil War nurse (Walt Whitman) said, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” When we pay close attention to who we really are, there is no one else, no one who is left out.

Acting from this understanding, service is not a strained sacrifice, but a natural activity. Within this mind, helpful care is not exactly compassion for another, but more like a reflex, a spontaneous gesture.

The right hand does not congratulate the left hand on having given to the poor.

No credit, no blame. No Trace. This is Buddha.”]

Adapted by Guy Newland from “Interbeing” in “Peace is Every Step” (Bantam, 1992) by Thich Nhat Hanh

Future Time Nine Continued

“Yes,” said MV, “but necessary opposites encompass so much more than what your so-called sages have revealed, and excuse me if your examples do not impress. All Saintly beings, not to mention sinners, exist because I exist. Without me existence blinks out of existence, and yet in your celebration of clever geniuses I do not recall hearing praise for me! I am the source, sustainer, and slayer of everything and my shadow is long and feared, as it should be. Oblivion is only an instant away, if you catch my drift. Enough said!”

“Do as you please,” I replied, “but there’s more. In the Chinese symbol, Tai Chi, or what is commonly recognized as the yin/yang symbol, the black and white complementary parts of embedded circles, there is, from my point of view, all the divine necessary opposites represented. The divided nature of the circle expresses freedom’s form, ~~b, and, the back and white contrasts in the circle, denote the different levels of consciousness, ~bb and b~b~bb.

“Again, in the self-awakening philosophy of the Japanese Mahayana Buddhist, Nishida, freedom is discussed in terms of the logic of basho, or the interconnectivity of three different pulses of freedom. Freedom, for Nishida, is not a manifestation of being; rather, being is a manifestation of freedom. Everything that is, is within the interconnectivity of basho. The logic of basho works to support and restrict all beings. The logic consists of (1) ground–absolute nothingness, which, in turn, connects with (2) the basho of relative nothingness, which, in turn, exists only in relation to (3) it’s opposite, the notion of being. Interconnected with all of these bashos –relative nothingness, being, and absolute nothingness—is the pulsing, creative nothingness that emerges from and returns to the basho of absolute nothingness. What I am hearing in Nishida’s philosophy is my description of freedom’s liberation. The ground state, or absolute nothingness/absolute affirmation, (~~b), connects to the higher levels of freedom through the medium of the conservation of necessary opposites. It is Liberation throughout, but freedom, at each level, exists within its own unique restrictive environment—physical/duality, life/death, individual/factual events. Everything that is then exists within the interconnectivity of the logic of necessary opposites, which, in turn, liberates, supports, and restricts the aesthetic continuum, life, and the “knowing” of self-conscious beings. Ultimately, in Nishida’s awakened state, there is no distinction between inside/outside, whole/part, or, for that matter, there is no distinction between transcendence, immanence, and freedom. Does any of this sound familiar?

Well, from my point of view,” responded MV, “I could care less! Academic comparisons mean shit to me! Show me the Devil in any of that and I will salute, but until then you’re just killing time, and, I might add, the time of killing is what delivered you over to me in the first place. Do I make myself clear?”

“Fine,” I said, “then show me God. That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?”

“I’ll show you God in due time,” replied MV, “but first you have to get clear on the necessary opposites of divinity. Your not there yet, or you can’t remember, which is it? You’re slipping into reverse. Too bad about that! You don’t want to listen to me, so how about listening to yourself. It’s important to stay physical here. Guess what, it’s time to go back to the future! “

“Okay, let’s go back,” I replied, “back to where you are much more comfortable. First we’ll look at the divine necessary opposites and then we’ll see how all that plays out in terms of Relativity and Quantum physics.

Door Into Language, Myth, Religion, Art, And Knowledge Creation

The Logic Of Divine Necessary Opposites—The Logos Incarnated

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

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

Before I begin to answer the question –Upon what does P rest? I want to talk, a little bit about the law of logical contradiction and the meaning of negation.

“The laws of logic,” says the Dictionary of Philosophy, “are regulative principles governing the pursuit of knowledge and the construction of scientific theories (and, for me at least, are grounded in the nature of the reality that we seek to know). Seen in this way, logic is the most general of all sciences… To assert a contradiction would be to depict things as being one way and yet at the same time not that way. But nothing can be p and not-p at the same time. To believe a contradiction is thus to hold as true something that is necessarily false” (Antony Flew, 1979, p.210). What the rule of non-contradiction means in practical terms is that if a contradiction is found in a work of reasoning then that work is of little or no value. On the other hand, if a reasoned work identifies the condition for the possibility of any contradiction whatsoever, then that work would be valuable indeed!

As regards negation: It is true that the meaning of negation is a product of language and the laws of logic cannot be totally separated from the socially instituted conventions of language, but the conventions for the use and meaning of negation are not arbitrary. The capacity to know what can and cannot be asserted in any language will rest upon negation and the law of non-contradiction—the minimum condition for speaking sensibly. What follows is the logical form that births language, and, for me, answers the question– Can the Logos be equated with the universe and all its elements?

Let one side of the V represent the empirical world (aesthetic continuum) and the other consciousness. Identify the vertex, the V bottom, as ~~b (not, not-being). Not, not-being then, characterizes the entire V as it also implies that which lies outside the V—the indeterminacy of God, or, more to the point, an affirmation of the indeterminacy of God. Somewhere above the V vertex, on the consciousness 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-Sartre’s structured for-itself) represent the next stage of freedom—the participatory moment of a conscious self, and let b~b (continuity occurring in discontinuity-the negative condition of self-consciousness) represent (on the empirical side of the V) the embodied physical event of human consciousness. Freedom again moves forward, only now in the form of embodied human consciousness. The V grows larger (and wider) as the story of civilization unfolds.

Well, that’s it, the logical model of freedom’s dialectic! Oh, by the way, freedom’s dialectic is the answer to the question –Upon what does P rest? More specifically, however, P rests on the experience of ~bb (discontinuity occurring in continuity). This experience opened the door to meaningful symbol creation, and that door swung forward into the creation of language, myth, religion, art, theoretical knowledge, and the civilizing processes that we call “civilization”. But, not to forget, all of this rests on the pre-existing liberating processes of liberation that come together in human consciousness, and, ultimately, on the “ground condition” of affirmed Divinity. Freedom’s dialectic is at once bond and liberation, bond as Divine affirmation and liberation as consciousness progressively becomes freer!

Self-Aware Consciousness In Physics Remains A Unifying Occurrence

The Hole In Self-Consciousness, The Hole That Denies The Possibility Of My Ever Becoming Fully Self-Aware, The Hole That Condemns Me To Freedom, That Hole Truly Becomes A Unifying Occurrence Of The First Order

Freed consciousness is self-aware, but, in the broadest sense, self-aware consciousness remains a unifying occurrence. One of the interesting consequences of both Relativity and quantum physics is that both imply wholeness. David Bohm writes:

“Relativity and quantum physics agree in suggesting unbroken wholeness, although they disagree on everything else. That is, relativity requires strict continuity, strict determinism, and strict locality, while quantum mechanics requires just the opposite—discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality. The two basic theories of physics have entirely contradictory concepts which have not been brought together; this is one of the problems that remains. They both agree, however, on the unbroken wholeness of the universe, although in different ways.” (The Reenchantment of Science, p, 65)

As Bohm points out, quantum mechanics and Relativity seem to be describing the same reality with contradictory concepts. These contradictions disappear in freedom’s dialectic. Self-consciousness is embedded in its own negative space—continuity, determinism, and locality. This negative space becomes the necessary condition for a physical event to occur. Thus, determinism, locality and continuity allow for the reductionist methods of science to work; that is, until science penetrates deep into that area where the integrity of the physical universe breaks down, where the deterministic motions of mass points no longer exist!

At the depths of the “material world” there exists a fuzzy world that exhibits behavior only when we observe it– when we separate ourselves from it. There we find a physical reality with no uniquely determinable location, a physical reality that exists in several states at the same time, and a physical reality structured by a mathematical equation. Do we find there also the “ground negation” that connects all subsequent levels of negation and affirmation—the affirmation that connects everything to everything? If we do then the connectivity problems found at the quantum level of our experience begin to make sense!

In freedom’s structural form, two forms stand out. The same attributes that arise from the structure of self-consciousness– discontinuity, indeterminism, and non-locality—also arise from the ground structure. Both of these structured forms generate implication. At “ground,” implication simply affirms. On the level of self-consciousness, implication opens up the possibility of the world-historical-process. In other words, the negation that lies at the center of self-consciousness, the same one that births logic, language, creativity, inquiry, analysis, conscience, and imagination, also fuzzies up the world at the quantum level of physics. Because observation (and affirmation) takes place in the space of continuity, determinism and locality– self-consciousness’s embedded physical condition— there is an unavoidable clash of worlds—the world of Relativity clashes with the world of quantum physics. Bottom line—Relativity accurately describes natural phenomena. Einstein’s equations, when applied to physical events, accurately describe our relationship, as participating agents, in a physical universe. Likewise, the physics of quantum mechanics accurately describes natural phenomena. Only the phenomena being described are “fuzzy” because, as it is throughout freedom’s dialectic, the space that separates also embeds and connects. In other words, on the quantum level, self-consciousness confronts its own ground condition in the form of the “quantum strangeness” that gets experienced at that level of experience.

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

God Cares End Of Life Story Redemption Chapter 3

January 1, 2010

This post continues with a brief conversation between the devil and myself, and then switches over to an earlier conversation which is itself a continuation of the God’s Footprint–Determinism conversation of several posts back. That dialogue was set high in the Canadian Rockies where Stan, the English professor, Noel, the Philosophy professor, and Tony, the Physics professor, were trying to figure out the significance, if any, of the conceptual differences underlying the physics of the macro world, Relativity, and the micro world, quantum mechanics; however, in this post the dialogue moves away from physics and picks up with Stan’s interpretation of Whitehead’s process philosophy.

With The Courage To Face The Mystery The Possibility Of Communion Arises

Future Time Nine Continued

“You do realize,” said MV, “that growing closer to God is kind of a ‘coming of age journey’ and the first step in that journey is the one where you leave behind your parent’s home.”

“Tell me more,” I replied.

“Think of your parent’s house as whatever makes you comfortable,” responded MV, “upon leaving home, all preconceived notions about the world, — security and expectations, — all must go. And, as you have already pointed out, with the arrival of quantum physics, even some physicists have found themselves ‘coming of age,’ so to speak; when the concepts of causality and localization no longer apply, when the ordered world of space and time turns into a topology puzzle, there’s no going home again. Leaving solid ground behind is a scary thought, don’t you agree?”

“Yes, it’s scary, but it’s also an opportunity.”

“That’s my boy,” responded MV. “You had a good teacher eh! When an observer’s reference frame determines the veracity of measurement, and the ground under foot dissolves, that’s when the opportunity for a new kind of communion and comfort zone arises, albeit one that requires the courage to face the mystery head on and imagine new possibilities.”

“What you are saying won’t make sense to a person tucked away in their self-made protective cocoon,” I responded. “You’d be wasting your breath there! It’s too bad it took me so long to learn that lesson. I could have avoided a lot of grief if I had been just a little bit smarter.”

“Yes, you were slow,” replied MV, “but don’t be too hard on yourself. Life’s an investment you know, and everybody wants their monies worth. Even if all the evidence is against you, it’s very difficult to cast your fate to the wind and start over. It’s impossible for some people to give up their cocoon. That’s why leaving solid ground is such a scary thought—and it should be! But, getting back to the point; after a struggle, you succeeded in making sense out of those freedom and consciousness issues. It’s just too bad you couldn’t communicate that success to others. But, look on the bright side, you’ve still got me! And since I’m the ‘enabler’ here, you don’t need anybody else. Enjoy your success, and besides, it’s only a matter of time before others figure it out. Actually, your work is not that hard to comprehend. Your two term approach to reality, as opposed to Locke’s three term approach, certainly was a good start.”

“Yes, that was the beginning for me,” I replied. “When I gave that presentation back in 1981 I knew I was onto something, but I didn’t know where those ideas would eventually take me. Maybe that’s par for the course, though; after all, here I am asking the Devil to tell me about God.”

“You might say I’m helping you to remember your own work,” responded MV, “it’s a good thing too because you need all the help you can get. And, as far as giving credit where credits due is concerned, I’m the best one for the job!”

“Your reputation for humility precedes you,” I replied. “I’ll just ignore that last comment if you don’t mind. Anyway, let’s review Whitehead’s process reality; not only did Whitehead create a philosophy around the freedom-consciousness connection, he also articulated a unique understanding of divinity.

“As you wish,” replied MV.

Whitehead’s Occasions Imparted A Kind Of Sentience To Nature

Alfred Lifted The “Process” Out Of The Philosopher (Kant) And Put It Squarely Back Into Nature Where It Belonged

Consciousness All The Way Down

As I was saying in a previous post, my theory of knowledge, or the consciousness/aesthetic continuum theory of knowledge, replaces Locke’s consciousness/appearance/material world theory of knowledge. Immanuel Kant was, however, the first to eliminate the necessity of Locke’s appearance concept from knowledge. Sense experience, for Kant, was filtered through twelve categories of understanding, categories that mentally “structured” our experience of the so-called material world. In other worlds, Kant’s categories permitted knowledge of our “experienced world.” For both Kant and Locke, however, consciousness and knowledge were considered a unique human experience. Whitehead’s process philosophy changed all that.

The role of consciousness in Whitehead’s philosophy was not restricted to human awareness. For Whitehead, consciousness was not a secondary attribute of the world; rather, it became the primary attribute. His process philosophy was developed after Kant, Einstein, and the revolutionary advances of quantum physics had totally deconstructed the worldview of the 18th and 19th centuries. What follows is a three-way conversation set in the Canadian Rockies between university professors; a rendering of an actual event which took place back when Peter (my backpacking partner) and I met up with these three professors while backcountry hiking in Jasper National Park. The conversation below, however, is fictionalized. The dialogue represents my efforts to come to terms with my reading of Whitehead’s philosophy.

The Conversation Continued

“Wouldn’t you know it,” said Stan, “I’ve lost my train of thought. But I do have a few more observations, albeit a little off topic.”

“Go for it,” said Noel, “it’s time to move on anyway.”

“Well, it’s not totally new,” Stan replied, “it’s just that when I was listening to your bantering, I felt like I had heard it all before. In my youth I studied Alfred North Whitehead. In fact, he inspired my desire to attend Harvard. He ended his career teaching there. Did you read him Tony?”

“No, I shy away from metaphysics,” responded Tony. “But I know about
him. You can’t go to Harvard without becoming familiar with prestigious alumnae.”

“Whitehead spent the first half of his academic career as a Professor of Mathematics,” Stan continued, ” he and Bertrand Russell attempted to prove that the axioms of number theory could be deduced from the premises of formal logic. Their book on that subject, Principia Mathematica, is quite famous. Whitehead also published another book on mathematics in which he formalized a set of rules and theorems, from which the theorems of Euclidean geometry are derivable. All this was done, for the most part, before Einstein published his famous theories. Whitehead, not surprisingly, took a keen interest in Einstein’s published works. And, like Cassirer, he
wrote a book on relativity theory; only in his book he disagreed with Einstein. As I recall he didn’t like the elevation of the velocity of light to a law of nature and he was critical of the flexible nature of space. Whitehead’s formalism was based on the premise of uniform space, or more precisely on the ‘non-contingent uniformity in spatial relations.’ As might be expected, in the scientific community, his ideas fell out of favor, but they played a
major role in the metaphysics that he developed latter in life. In that metaphysics, Whitehead lifted the ’process’ out of the philosopher (Kant) and put it squarely back into nature where he felt it belonged. Man, the symbol-generating animal, became instead, the product of process reality.”

“I guess this is as good a time as any to bid you fine fellows ado,” interrupted Peter, “It’s past my bedtime. But thanks for making my sleeping bag look so delicious. See you in the morning.”

“Sleep tight,” Stan replied, and then throwing another log on the campfire, he continued, “what you were saying about ‘organic unities of time’ constituting our inner sense of being really made me think about Whitehead. He too believed that ‘whole movements’ or ‘epochs’ constituted individual unities of experience. He called those unities of experience occasions and then he went on to base his metaphysics on those occasions. For him, occasions came all at once or not at all and ultimately provided nature with a kind of sentience. What’s interesting is that, at their most elementary level, where occasions are overlapping events, they still possessed a kind of sentience. Is anybody familiar with what I am talking about?”

“Yeah, it’s called animism,” replied Noel, “Eh, I’m only joking.”

Whitehead Understood Occasions To Be Processes Of Self-Development, Self-Creation

Elementary Events Overlap And Become Part Of The Actual World, Develop Into A Biosphere Full Of Sentient Qualities, Which In Turn, Develop Into The Very Words We Are Speaking Now

Conversation Continued

“Sure I’ve heard of Whitehead’s metaphysics,” said Noel, “but I haven’t studied it in any depth. As I recall he turned nature into a kind of sentient being, and thus sidestepped all the epistemological problems that arise in subject-object opposition and in the self-world dichotomy. But, in his philosophy, didn’t he understand occasions as processes of self-development, or even self-creation?”

“Yes, that’s exactly right,” Stan responded. “The idea was that an
occasion was a ‘prehending entity’ in active interaction with its whole environment. Whitehead thought of these ‘prehending entities’ as processes of self-formation with ‘subjective aim.’ They began as simple overlapping events, evolved, and, as they say, the rest is history. Right?”

“Of course,” said Noel, “I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, you
are aware that teleological explanations of the world are not just history, they’re ancient history! Isn’t that why we call it meta-physics, eh Stan?”

“Don’t forget about the problematic areas of science,” Stan responded. “Whitehead’s metaphysics speaks directly to those issues, especially the ones at the quantum level. Just hear me out.”

“I’m all ears,” replied Noel.

“Just as in quantum theory,” Stan continued, “where physical reality is at best, quasi-continuous, where successive leaps or vibrations of energy fuse together to form physical objects perceived by us as continuous, so too in Whitehead’s occasions we see physical experience taking place in leaps of becoming. His ‘process reality’ moves from becoming to being. For him, potentiality is rendered specific with the becoming of each event. What this all means is that the whole system that we take to be space and time literally
grows out of the way that events are systematically related to one another in nature.

“Again, in quantum mechanics, where the discontinuous existence of
fundamental particles forms the continuous existence of larger physical bodies, in Whitehead’s occasions there is a parallel state of affairs going on. First, elementary events overlap and become part of the actual world. Then these enduring occasions develop into a biosphere full of sentient qualities, which, in turn, develops into this–our present state of affairs, specifically, into the words we are speaking right now. But that is not the end of it. In fact, it doesn’t end. The ‘subjective aim’ of the occasion presses in upon the environing realities of all physical, biological, and psychological phenomena, and in combination with these realities, continues to create a more fully developed reality. Species evolve, and so it goes, one occasion after another, unfolding, pushing this ‘now’ into the past while receiving ‘what is’ and ‘will be,’ again and again. Novelty arises as new forms of self-expression and new vistas of self-fulfillment unfold. Ultimately, what is going on in Whitehead’s metaphysics—in addition to eliminating the subjective /objective split that occurs in the philosophies of Descartes, Locke, and Kant, is a ‘bootstrapping’ of self-development, a bringing into existence a more self-fulfilling, self- expressive, sentient nature.”

“This is getting too ethereal for me,” said Tony. “What’s next,
God?”

“Well, yes, that’s exactly right,” responded Stan, “But apart from the God thing, I believe Whitehead’s thought speaks directly to the concerns brought up in this conversation.”

“If you say so, “Noel replied,” but what about God? How did
Whitehead perceive God, anyway?”

If The Call Is For Retributive Justice The First Mirror Will Pinpoint The Guilty

In So Far As Self-Aim Conforms To Its Immediate Past, There Is Determinism, But In So Far As Any Entity Modifies Its Response Through The Subjective Element Of Feeling, There Is Freedom

Some Freedom Is Not Divine—God Cares

“If you say so, “Noel replied,” but what about God? How did Whitehead perceive God, anyway?”

“Same o, same o,” replied Tony, “as a redeeming father figure.”

“That’s not true,” said Stan, “Well, maybe it’s a little true, but it’s more complicated than that. Whitehead would be the first to admit that if religion didn’t exist, it would have to be invented. From a sociological point of view, it does too many things for too many people for it not to exist. Religion is necessary for another reason, though. It deals with permanence amid change, and for Whitehead that meant connecting the idea of permanence up with the idea of ‘extensive connection’, or the general ordering that takes place in process reality. In other words, God is co-continuous with all the ‘happenings’ of the world.”

“Go tell that to Dostoyevsky,” replied Tony, “As far as he was concerned God was a mass murderer of innocent children.”

“Okay, Tony, for the sake of Dostoyevsky, lets hold God accountable for all the world’s sins,” responded Stan, “but first lets look to see on whose behalf God exists. Remember, occasions are environing events with a self-aim; they represent the creation of novelty and change—and, as such, the entire physical universe is processing its way back to God–the conceptual, eternal, side of God. God is ‘eternal presence’ and 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. The untimely deaths of innocents are part of that process, part of the internal constitution of God, as God works through the transition from the eternal to the actual, and from the actual back to the eternal. God is the reason for all becoming, and nothing exists that is separate from God. All ‘passing’ is absorbed back into the eternal witness of God.”

“That’s not good enough,” Tony replied, “whose pain or whose suffering is not the issue. The fact that there is way too much pain and suffering is the issue. With all the pain, cruelty, and injustice in the world, we just can’t let God off the hook, even if, as Whitehead believes, God shares in all of it. Believe me, God would be convicted by a jury of his peers.”

“Tony’s right,” Noel replied, “God has to go.”

“I’m not finished yet,” Stan responded, “there’s more than just witnessing what’s going on here. In fact, there’s a dynamic that shouts out for change; if indeed a retributive justice is called for here, then one has to look no farther then the first mirror to pinpoint the guilty.”

“Hold on! Who’s getting huffy now,” replied Tony, “I didn’t start this. I didn’t ask to be born. I’m just here, doing what I can to stay alive. How the hell can I be held responsible for God’s handiwork?”

“Do you feel sad when you see dying children,” said Stan.

“What’s that supposed to mean; of course I feel sad,” shot back
Tony, “but I can’t change it. I block it out of my mind.”

“Well that’s what brands you as guilty,” Stan replied. “It’s the playing out of those self-expressive, self-fulfilling feelings that you can’t avoid that gets you into trouble. 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. He is there, inside agonizing screams, and He is there in all suffering, especially suffering caused by injustice. He is also there, however, in all hopes, joy, 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 taught us how to proceed, ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’—both in life and love.”

“I must say, that’s an interesting brand of pantheism,” responded
Tony.

“It’s not pantheism,” replied Stan, “it’s a divinely anchored
process reality.”

“You can call it anything you like,” said Tony, “its still
pantheism.”

“Not according to Whitehead,” replied Stan, “The future is empty, and in that emptiness resides the freedom to create a better world– the freedom to replace emptiness with ‘goodness.'”

“Or the freedom to create a worse one,” interrupted Noel, “if change
is pervasive, it doesn’t have to be good.”

”True enough,” replied Stan, “accept the same God who is there inside another’s suffering and pain will not be there in the masochistic and sadistic cravings of those individuals who pleasure themselves by inflicting pain and suffering upon others. Nor will God be found in the laws of a society that refuse to recognize the destitute, oppressed, and persecuted—God’s children.”

“Do tell,” exclaimed Noel, “How can God be in touch with all feelings—your words not mine, yet be inside some feelings and not inside other feelings?”

“Feelings that preserve, perpetuate, and expand consciousness,” replied Stan, “always trump feelings that dehumanize, degrade, and destroy consciousness; the former is a product of divinity, the latter a product of neglect. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not proposing the impossible here; that is, the elimination of all negative feelings, but striving for that goal is divine. Everything else is just plain human.”

“I don’t know,’ said Noel, “Whitehead’s got himself a hard sell there. The God thing aside, nobody has ever been successful in merging feelings with reason, if indeed that’s what he’s trying to do. I’m afraid I just don’t buy it. It’s not doable. Go ask Plato if you don’t believe me.”

“Not doable because you don’t buy it,” said Stan, “or not doable
because it can’t be done?”

“Both,” replied Noel.

“That’s ditto from the scientific point of view,” chimed in
Tony.

The Voice Of The We Of Humanity

November 11, 2009

This post, essentially, brings to a close the theoretical side of my thesis. Future posts (five I think) speak to fleshing out the empirical side of the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self. Below, I use the concept of the not-me-self as a tool to critique the symbolic interactionist school of thought. This critiquing voice—the voice of contingency which binds “self” to society and to “others,” is then used, in the second part of this post, to argue for the legitimization of social and political institutions that practice the politics of emancipation, or the politics that sustain and promote justice, equality, and individual and collective freedoms.

The Symbolic Interactionist School Of Thought Does Not Address Macrosocietal Issues

In Translating Mead’s Generalized Other As A Collective Voice, The Next Step Is To Pose The Question: What Stories Are Told By A Collective Voice And, More Specifically, To What Extent Do Collective Stories Reflect And Even Sustain Existing Power Differences In Macrosocial Structures?

The Implicative Affirmative of the Not-Me-Self as a Value-Assessment Mechanism

According to Ritzer’s (1992) account of symbolic interactionism, although Mead’s theoretical perspective on mind and self is centered in the accumulated social relations that constitute society, Mead has very little to say about society. For Mead, society represents the ongoing social process that precedes self and mind. Self and mind are formed and shaped by society but they play little or no role in shaping social structure and institutions. Mead’s me-self is, after all, the depository of the shared sets of values that are common to the social system thus contributing to social unity. Because Mead’s theoretical system, and the symbolic interactionist school of thought that is based on, Mead’s theoretical system lacks a macrosocietal orientation and thus it opens itself up to critique. According to Reynolds, the symbolic interactionist school of thought does not address macrosocietal issues. He (1993: 137) states:

“Interactionism truly lacks a decent appreciation and adequate understanding of social structure and social organization. All of this is to say that symbolic interactionism manifests a marked astructural, or microscopic, bias, and any framework with such a bias is bound to be both ahistorical and noneconomic; with respect to power politics, it is also destined to be profoundly apolitical.”

When the concept of collective voices of generalized others is added to the theoretical orientation of Mead’s thinking, a focus on society at the macro-level becomes possible within the framework of Mead’s theory. Collective voices tell collective stories and collective stories may be analyzed from the point of view of the many different attributes of the collectivity. For instance, according to Hermans and Kempen (1993: 117): “In translating Mead’s generalized other as a collective voice, the next step is to pose the question: What stories are told by a collective voice? And more specifically, to what extent do collective stories reflect and even sustain existing power differences in macrosocial structures?”

Society is textured with many influential collective stories; stories that preserve and perpetuate social stratification and institutional hierarchy. The biblical story, as Hermans and Kempen point out (1993: 118), of a sinful and seductive Eve, tells a story that has an ongoing history of influencing relationships between men and women. Also, among persons who have a stake in maintaining social and economic inequality, the Horatio Alger story of the destitute, but brave lad who succeeds after overcoming travail and hardship, bares constant repeating in the face of the excessive wherewithal of the “haves” as opposed to the “have-nots.”

As a product of the socialization process, we are never far removed from some collective story that either consciously or unconsciously we take for granted. Indeed, it is only after we have held our practical consciousness up against the light of analysis (negation/selection) that we come to realize collective voices of generalized others speak through us, as we, in turn, speak through them. A person almost always (as we recall Gidden’s premise) knows what she/he is doing and why she/he is doing it. I would only add to this insightful assertion that people not only know what they are doing, but that they know also that they are doing what they are doing for all the “right reasons.”

The Critiquing Voice Must Speak Through The Self/Other Interdependent Relationship

In So Far As This Micro-Level Collective Voice Is Both Human And Universal, It Provides The Ideal Basis From Which To Critique The Legitimization Of Macro-Level Social And Political Power Structures, As It Provides The Ideal Basis From Which To Evaluate Justice, Equality, And Individual And Collective Freedoms

The Implicative Affirmative of the Not-Me-Self as a Value-Assessment Mechanism

If we are to analyze and interpret macrosocietal collective stories in terms of how they reinforce and institutionalize existing power structures then it is not enough to identify the stories per se. The collective voices used to legitimate these stories must also be identified. It is significant that the collective stories and voices, for example, the divine right of kings, race superiority, self-evident truths (self-evident truths that have been proven wrong-Euclid’s postulate that parallel lines never meet, the notions of absolute space and time, etc.), used to legitimate macro-level power structures are themselves macro-level collective stories; whereas, the collective voice used to critique these macro-level collective stories (for example, Simmel’s concept of stranger/sociological category, Thom’s ontologically primary opposition of difference/no-difference, and, the researcher’s own concept of the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self), articulates a different kind of voice, a voice that speaks through the interdependent relationship of self/other. Developing the implications of this micro-level voice (a voice based in self/other interdependence) reveals not only a voice upon which to critique existing social and political power structures but also a voice upon which to ground individual freedoms and the emancipatory rights of “others”.

In Modernity and Ambivalence , Bauman (1991), analyses the emancipatory experience of the human being and concludes that contingency is the necessary element common to all emancipatory experience. According to Bauman (1991: 235):

“The preference for one’s own, communally shared form of life must therefore, be immune to the temptation of cultural crusade. Emancipation means, such acceptance of one’s own contingency as is grounded in recognition of contingency as the sufficient reason to live and to be allowed to live. It signals the end to the horror of alterity and to the abhorrence of ambivalence.”

For Bauman, contingency applies equally to the otherness of the individual self and to the “other’s otherness”. This relationship is not unlike the interdependent relationship of self/other as it is characterized by the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self.

“Otherness”, when understood from within the context of the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self’s self/other relationship, manifests multi-layers of “otherness”. “Otherness”, in this sense, does not stand alone. “Otherness” is always embedded in a whirl of “otherness” and unravels in layers.

[Footnote. The implicative affirmative of the not-me-self occasions “otherness” first in the form of the common values, meanings, viewpoints, definitions and expectations of the group, that is, the products of symbolic interaction. A second layer of “otherness” is encountered when the self engages the novelty, impulsiveness and spontaneity — the creative potentials of self-determination — in the self’s option to affirm, reject, and/or qualify the common values, meanings, viewpoints, definitions and expectations of the group. A third layer of “otherness” occurs in the “thickness of description” used to validate intersubjective positions concerning values, meanings, viewpoints, definitions and expectations of the group. And, a forth layer of “otherness” is occasioned when the “ought” (as in non-relative ethics and morality) is applied to intersubjective positions concerning values, meanings, viewpoints, definitions and expectations of the group.]

However, this “otherness” is grounded in the contingency of the self’s affirmation of “otherness”. Emancipatory experience follows from this contingency in that the self and “other selves” must affirm their not-me-selves (their otherness). Recognizing that contingency resides at the center of the self’s emancipatory experience Bauman states (1991: 236): “The right of the Other to his strangerhood is the only way in which my own right may express, establish and defend itself. It is from the right of the Other that my right is put together.”

It is this contingency–the contingency which binds a person’s “self” to society and to “others”–which manifests the micro-level voice of the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self, a voice whose only claim to authority is a claim to contingency, a contingency without which it could not exist. Simpson (1995: 127) in response to the question: “Are we playing the right game?” (acting on the “right” collective voice), gives voice to the “meaning of contingency” when he states: “(It is)…the virtual ‘we’ of a humanity that is a negotiated, unfinished project functioning as an ideal community, a notion that makes a virtue both of being open to and willing to take seriously the conjecture that there is a disjunction between one’s own standpoint and the regulative ideal of the ‘good life,’ and of being critically respectful of the other.”

In so far as this micro-level collective voice is both human and universal it provides the ideal basis from which to critique the legitimization of macro-level social and political power structures, as it 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 their own contingency, arises the politics of
emancipation which articulates the rights of Government and socioeconomic institutions to procure both the collective and the individual right to contingency.

[Footnote. Giddens (1991: 215), in summary form, tells us what emancipatory politics entails when he states:

1 The freeing of social life from the fixities of tradition and custom.

2 The reduction or elimination of exploitation, inequality or oppression. (It is) concerned with divisive distribution of power/ resources.

3 Obeys imperatives suggested by the ethics of justice, equality and participation]

When Mead’s theory and the symbolic interactionist school of thought is considered from the fundamental ground upon which both macro-level and micro-level collective voices are founded (the other as contingency), then symbolic interactionist thought may be applied to macrosocietal issues. By appealing to the “rights of others,” — the right to a more egalitarian social order that is based on insuring the availability of a standard of living sufficient for the actualization of individual freedoms, that is, the right to a living wage, political liberty, and protection from wrongful harms, — a symbolic interactionist would find herself/himself in a powerful position to defend against criticisms such as Lichtman’s when he (1970: 77) states: [Symbolic interactionism] “… is overly subjective and voluntaristic, lacks an awareness of historical concreteness, is naive in its account of mutual typification and ultimately abandons the sense of human beings in a struggle against an alien reality which they both master and to which they are subordinate.”

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.

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.”