Posts Tagged ‘Meaning’

Existence God Structure Logic Love

September 18, 2010

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

Ideal Meanings

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

God’s Structure

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

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

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

[Double Negation Principle

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the God Structure Tells Us About Ourselves and Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained The Problem

April 25, 2010

The Problem

Part 1 of 4 posts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained-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!

The Footprint–Determinism

November 26, 2009

Yes, God has a physical footprint and it’s grounded in the Logos of existence as it is described in the “the new model of the observer/observed relationship.” Accordingly, we live in a universe that, on one level, is deterministic, while, on another level, is less deterministic. However, the entire universe is comprehensible by people who can comprehend—you, me, and the scientist. Also, according to this Logos, death is not “the end;” rather, death is like the off ramp of one highway merging on to another highway—all energy far from equilibrium, eventually, must take this “off ramp.” However, information generated on the highway of life moves full speed ahead (by reproduction and natural selection, on the one hand, and by culture—language, books, libraries, etc., on the other hand). And, finally, we live in a universe where comprehensibility begins and ends in duality. Initially, this duality begins with the wave/particle duality of conjugate variables, and later, this duality is defined by human intelligence embedded in the physical events. The boundaries that shape God’s footprint then are defined by the duality that constitutes the comprehensibility of the universe, e.g., ~~b (wave/particle duality), ~bb (accommodation/assimilation of living creatures duality), and, b~b~bb (the duality of physical event/human intelligence).

One of my favorite scenes in the movie Godzilla was when Matthew Broderick found himself in a huge hole searching for Godzilla’s footprint. The craterlike hole and the footprint were one, but Godzilla’s footprint was off the scale of any footprint Matthew had ever encountered so it remained hidden from him until a military officer pointed out that he was standing in the middle it. In a like manner, we are standing in the middle of God’s footprint, the breath of which begins in the quasi-material world described by quantum physics, extends up into Einstein’s space-time continuum and is as deep as what is humanly possible to imagine. Since we know the parameters of the footprint, we can extrapolate a shape that is much more manageable. The footprint is shaped like a piece of pie! The space-time continuum exists in the mind’s eye of the physicist, but the rest of us know this continuum only through its effect on (some) physical events, so let the physical event represent one end of the piecrust and at the other end of the crust sits the observer. Both the physical event edge of the pie and the observer edge of the pie comes together at the narrow slivered end of the pie piece. Let the slivered part of the pie represent the quasi-material world of quantum phenomena.

The physical event, or that which we see, smell, taste, touch, and hear, occurs along the physical event edge of the pie piece while the comprehensibility aspect of the universe occurs along the pie piece’s observer’s edge. In other words, the physical event side represents what I (and Northrop) call the aesthetic continuum while the observer’s edge of the pie— or that which, in one form or another, senses an environment, — represents “liberation from the aesthetic continuum.” As always, from the human observer’s point of view, the aesthetic continuum is subject to an analytical account, or the hypothetical deductive method which postulates the public side of the continuum, and of course, there is the more personal, relative, experiential aspect of that continuum, one’s own individual, relative experience of it. The public side of the continuum, though, thanks to the advances of Relativity and quantum physics has changed the meaning and significance of the physical event, and that change woke me from my drunken slumber (my drunken slumber comment is a very loose paraphrase of Kant’s comment on Hume’s critique of Locke’s theory of knowledge). Of course, the implications of Relativity theory and quantum mechanics are still being debated (after ninety years and counting) and I, like so many more, am eagerly waiting to see how it turns out. Fortunately, I’m not holding my breath,—which brings me to a brief description of my upcoming posts.

While trying to comprehend the meaning of the “new physics” awhile back, I wrote some dialogue. The dialogue below deals mostly with Relativity theory. Next week’s post wanders in and out of Relativity theory and quantum mechanics. After that, well, I’m only sure of a post on the observer, or the connecting link that shapes God’s footprint. After that maybe a post on temporality etc. etc., time will tell.

Our old Professor friends, — the philosopher, Noel, the physicist, Tony, and the English Professor, Stan, — have been discussing this situation (the significance of the physical event), so perhaps they can make this idea more clear?

“Maybe Noel,” interrupted Tony, “you’re referring to a different Einstein. The one that I thought we were talking about is the one who eliminated the confusion concerning space and time. We have known for a long time that people in other cultures experience space and time differently. But that’s the beauty of Einstein’s work; now we can all agree that space-time intervals are the same for everybody, even for space aliens traveling at close to the speed of light. We now know that the length of a space-time interval between any two events is the same for everybody.”
“Okay, Tony, if you want to jump into the thick of it, than lets do it,” replied Noel. “The space-time interval, what’s it based on?”
“The speed of light, or rather the constancy of the velocity of light,” Tony responded. “You and I share the same space-time, but my space and your space, and my time and your time, are the same only when we are at rest relative to each other. We live in our own private worlds of space and time, but in the new public domain of space-time, space and time are the same for everybody. In fact, the intrinsic structure of space-time accounts for the constancy of the velocity of light for all observers.”

“Do you know why?” said Noel.
“Sure,” responded Tony, “it has to do with the implications of relativity theory. In the mathematics of space-time, Minkowski, Einstein’s mathematics professor, showed that even though the Pythagorean theorem does not work in space-time, something like the Pythagorean theorem is still at work. In Euclid’s geometry the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of its two sides. In the geometry of space-time, the distance between two events, like in the Pythagorean theorem, is equal to the time interval squared minus the space interval squared, however, that minus is the reverse of what takes place in the geometry of Euclid. Subtracting, instead of adding the two intervals, produces four-dimensional space-time. In space-time the distance between two events connected by a light ray becomes zero. Light rays coming at us from outer space take time to reach us, but in space-time no distance is traveled. That’s one of the incredible results that follow from Einstein’s theory. And that is also why the speed of light is constant for all observers. In space-time light is just there, everywhere.”

“I’m just a little confused,” said Noel, “If light doesn’t go anywhere, how can we know that the length of a space-time interval between any two events is the same for everybody?”
“Because of the constancy of light’s velocity,” Tony replied.
“So what you’re saying is that time doesn’t change, just space?” said Noel. “Is that the answer? Don’t answer that. There’s ‘no’ time to answer, right? Anyway, Einstein’s field equations dictate the space of space-time, and, as you have all ready pointed out Tony, we can agree upon the measured value of space-time. Is that about right?”
“Well, a stab in time will get you nine,” Tony muttered. “You know damn well what I’m talking about Noel. It’s just that you don’t like it. You won’t accept that in the cosmic scheme of things, you and I, and everybody else, are just world lines. That past, present, and future may, or may not, possess meaning scares the hell out of you. You hate the idea that your private frame of reference might be limited and meaningful only to you. Einstein’s universe attacks your sense of freedom, your dignity. Well I’ve got news for you. Nobody was more concerned about dignity than the old man. He didn’t bemoan the fact that he wasn’t God. It was enough for him to peer into the heart of nature, or the mind of God if you prefer to call it that, and understand what was really going on. It was enough for him to know that all human beings had this gift, but how it was used was a person’s own business. Denying it, however, was not dignified. It was just plain stupid; and anyway, what about the effects, the predictable consequences of Einstein’s theory? If they don’t occur in reality then where do they occur?”

“Right where they are predicted to occur,” Noel replied, “in the surrounding manifold of our sensual experience. Nature, or the name that we give to that manifold, takes in everything we can see, hear, feel, taste, smell, and explain. Space, as an ontological entity, in the theory of general relativity, doesn’t exist. The being of space has been replaced with purely methodological considerations. What space ‘is,’ or whether any definite character can be attributed to it, is no longer a concern. Rather, we must be concerned with the geometrical presuppositions, the ‘ideal meanings’ that get used in the interpretation of the phenomena that we ascribe to nature according to law.”
“I’m getting tired of this,” said Tony. “Science gets done and benefits follow, which, really, is all we have to worry about, right Stan? How come you’re so quiet, anyway? That’s not like you. Are you sick or something?”
“I’m fine. You know me, quiet as a mouse, but sharp as a tack,” said Stan. There’s a time for talking and time for listening. I’ve been enjoying the latter. Let me try to simplify this conversation, eh fellows; that is, after I throw another log on the fire.”
“Always the educator, eh Stan,” said Tony, “but that’s why we love ya.”

“Take nature for instance,” responded Stan, “for you Tony, its independent of the observer. It’s a bit complicated, but knowable, and it exists before one begins to experiment on it. That’s not the case for Noel. For him, nature does not exist independent from the observer. In fact, questions asked concerning nature, for Noel at least, actually brings nature into existence. And, he looks to quantum mechanics to substantiate that claim. On that level, the physical world seems to emerge from observations made on it. Any argument there fellows?”

“You’ve got the stage,” replied Noel, “go for it.”
“Now for the hard part,” said Stan, “On the one hand we have Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and on the other hand we have quantum theory. Both theories are proven successes, but when taken together they are out of joint. The equations that describe the gravitational field are completely different from the one’s that describe subatomic interactions. Moreover, space and time are intimately related in relativity theory. They are dependent on the state of motion of the observer. In quantum theory space and time are not tied to existence at all. As far as a person’s limited reason is concerned, there is no quantum world, just an abstract quantum physical description. Given this confusing state of affairs, it would be doctrinaire and dogmatic to say that one theory is better than the other, or that one is talking sense and the other is lacking in it. Right fellows?”
“Who’s patronizing now,” said Tony.
“Guilty as charged,” responded Stan, “I guess nobody’s perfect. For you Tony, the mind’s ability to discover reality’s true nature is a religious belief, just like it was for Einstein. If Einstein had a religious belief, it was that the world is comprehensible and objective.”
“I’d probably go to church, if I could sit next to Einstein,” Tony replied.

“As I was saying,” said Stan, “under the rule of cause and effect everything has its place and time, but that is not what works for you Noel. Knowledge, for Noel, constitutes what we take to be the physical world, and new knowledge may substantially alter that world. In other words, over time, both knowledge and the perceived field that we find ourselves in changes. Both Cassirer and Kant agreed on this. The function of the mind’s capacity to connect meaning to sensual contents goes beyond sensual contents and establishes an order among the connections between them. The necessary elements of every assertion—being and non-being, similarity and dissimilarity, unity and plurality, identity and opposition—cannot be represented by any content of perception, but through them ‘ideal meanings’ get created, and when applied to the perceptual field those elements fill our perceptions with meaning. That process, over time, alters both the meaning and the content of our perceptual field. But, what it comes down to in the end is testing the deductive consequences of those ‘ideal meanings’ against the sensual contents in the field of our perceptions. That was the way it worked for Einstein and, in any universe that will not change.”

Based on the above dialogue, for me at least, the physical event seems a little less obvious! But it’s still there; the foundational attribute of our knowledge of the objective world is still there. It’s just that it seems a little more open to interpretation at this point. Anyway, the physical event is only one aspect of God’s footprint. To get a better perspective on the footprint, (and I’m sure Matthew Broderick would agree here), we need to climb out of the hole in order to see the whole pie piece—errrr footprint!

Outside A Persons Protective Cocoon Self-Relevance Evaporates

November 5, 2009

I guess I forgot to post here last week so this is a two for one blog–this one and the one above.
When we come to question our own language games we are constantly thrown back upon our presuppositions, upon prior meanings, and this reflection on self-knowledge expands our self-understanding. But, before the question, before the interrogation agency of self becomes empowered with self-direction, we were/are practicing an even more vital knowledge–the knowledge of “trust” –and securing this knowledge is a lifelong pursuit.

The Perspective-Boundedness Of Acquired Meanings-The Motor That Drives Experience

We Begin To Understand How We Can Live In A World Of Shared Values, Meanings, And Expectations, While, At The Same Time, Live In A World Where Each Person Creates Her/His Own Unique Perceptions, Meanings, And Purpose, When Our Questions Are Reflexively Applied To The Collective Voices Of Generalized Others

In the application of negation it is the negative facet of the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self that charges “things” with meaning and ascribes to the “self” self-meaning. L. C. Simpson (1995: 32) illustrates negation’s role in how meaning is generated out of
experience when he describes how prereflective acquired meanings are always thought to be implicitly held to be adequate to their objects when he states:

“But through them [acquired meanings] we are unavoidably tied to a perspective. Experience involves a growing awareness of the perspective-boundedness of those claims. It is the contradiction between the implicit claim to adequacy and the perspective-boundedness of these meanings that is the motor that drives the process of experience. But this means that experience is essentially negative; the meanings that situate us, that, at least in part, define us, are constantly being problematized. Our ordinary language games come to be questioned. Here, in the notion of negativity, we have the idea of freedom thematized. Instead, then, of proceeding with a complacent satisfaction, we are constantly thrown back upon ourselves, upon those prior meanings. Such a reflective return to those presuppositions is what I mean by ‘self-reflection.’ The process of experience, then, leads to self-reflection. This reflection on my own situation furthers my self-knowledge, expanding my self-understanding.”

Negation, in the language of the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self, takes the form of that which binds an “implicit claim to adequacy” to a “particular boundedness.” When negation is revealed (applied), an awareness of “perspective-boundedness claims to adequacy” becomes more resolute and in this resolute awareness we begin to understand how we can live in a world of shared values, meanings, and expectations, while, at the same time, live in a world where each person creates her/his own unique perceptions, meanings, and purpose. In the human world of self-determination (affirmation), with all of its unique perceptions, meanings and purpose, a person generates meaning unique to the person when the person negates socially shaped values, meanings and expectations. Thus, as an indicator of biographical relevance, negation empowers the salience of our personal experience.

It is negation that allows thinking to be reflexive. It is negation that allows a person to take herself/himself as an object, in Mead’s sense of the term, and to call out to the “self” the meaning of the other’s response. The meaning of the other’s response exists prior to experience of it, in so far as it exists, first, in language, history and culture. But, in so far as this response is affirmed as relevant to the biography of the observing person, the observing person selects for (particularizes) the relevant meaning of the other’s response. When the observing person assigns meaning to the other’s response, a relevant aspect of the observing person’s not-me-self is selected for and affirmed. With the addition of new information (the response of the other) the observer is, potentially, able to synthesize on going experience with relevant biographical information, consequently, an alteration of a person’s assumptions and beliefs may occur.

This communication process is accelerated every time we ask a question. Applied negation is expressed through interrogation. Through interrogation the agency of self becomes empowered with self-direction. When we ask questions we are, essentially, selecting (negating) the way we will relate to (particularize) a situation/object. Asking questions is our most direct route to biographical relevance. When questions are reflexively applied to the collective voices of generalized others we encounter the significance of what it means to add a dialogical perspective to Mead’s social psychology. However, before I begin this discussion I want to say a few words concerning the embodied or biological aspect of the implicative affirmative of the not-me-self.

In Doing Everyday Life All Human Beings Answer The Question Of Self

During Bouts With Intense Emotional Insecurity, The Split Between Biography And Not-Me-Self (now perceptible) Avails Itself To A Person’s Ruminations Of Mixed Feelings And Self-Doubts

The Embodied Implicative Affirmative Of The Not-Me-Self

In the earliest stages of development, according to Piaget (1980), the infant encounters a resistant environment, and, it is through an action-generated vocabulary that the infant is made aware of objects, space, time, and causality.

[Footnote. According to Piaget (1970: 704), “From the most elementary sensorimotor actions (such as pulling and pushing) to the most sophisticated intellectual operations, which are interiorized actions, carried out mentally…knowledge is constantly linked with actions or operations.”]

It is at this stage, the sensorimotor stage, where the infant develops what Piaget calls a “practical intelligence.” Giddens, following Piaget’s lead, states: “A child does not learn that it ‘has’ a body, because self-consciousness emerges through bodily differentiation rather than the other way around” (Giddens, 1991: 56). The discovery of bodily properties, for example, fingers, toes, lips, hunger, thirst, irritation, etc., precedes the infant’s discoveries of objects, others, and self-consciousness. At this stage in the developmental process, according to Giddens, the infant develops a sense of “trust.”

During this crucial period, trust emerges from the relationship of caregiver (the mother) to infant. Trust gives the infant a sense of security during periods when the mother is absent. It is also this trust that allows the infant (and the adult) to orient herself/himself to others and to objects in the world. According to Giddens (1991: 40):

“The trust which the child, in normal circumstances, vests in its caretakers, I want to argue, can be seen as a sort of emotional inoculation against existential anxieties – a protection against future threats and dangers which allows the individual to sustain hope and courage in the face of whatever debilitating circumstances she or he might later confront… It is the main emotional support of a defensive carapace or protective cocoon which all normal individuals carry around with them as the means whereby they are able to get on with the affairs of day-to-day life.”

Acknowledging trust as the starting point and drawing from the perspective of existential phenomenology and Wittgensteinian philosophy, Giddens’ concept of self-identity (reflexive ordering of self-narratives) is premised on the belief that a person knows, virtually all of the time, what she/he is doing and why she/he is doing it. Reflexive awareness, on a day-to-day basis, is oriented around doing what it takes to secure this knowledge. Consequently, reflexive awareness, for the most part, is restricted to guaranteeing that day-to-day routines remain routine.

Out of what Giddens’ calls a “practical consciousness” arises the cognitive and emotive anchor that sustains feelings of ontological security. By remaining focused on the daily routines that keep us “going on,” we secure ourselves from the chaos and anxiety that exists just outside of our acquired routines. In ‘doing’ everyday life, all human beings ‘answer’ the question of self in the behavior that gets carried out. Giddens’ “practical consciousness” focuses on the day-to-dayness of what “needs to be done” and “on what’s going on.” In this way, the individual remains insulated from internal and external anxieties that could threaten ontological security.

During periods of emotional insecurity and crisis a person’s protective cocoon becomes vulnerable.

[Footnote. This cocoon also becomes vulnerable from an analytical point of view, as is testified to by an abundance of existentialist literature. For instance, the problem of self (the absence of I-ness), and its relation to existence, has been scrutinized by Kierkegaard (1855) and found to be synonymous with “the struggle of being against non-being” (Giddens, 1991: 48). Heidegger (1976/1962), in what he refers to as the person’s state of Dasein, describes the self in terms of falling (verfallen) or the deterioration of one’s self as it falls through common everydayness. Sartre (1980/1966) penetrates to the core of the matter by identifying being (self-conscious being) with the nothingness of the for-itself as it strives to complete itself, but, given the nature of its being, must fail. In a more positive light, however, the self, in Jasper’s (1969) description of the Encompassing and Existenz, gets connected with reason. “Existenz only becomes clear through reason; reason only has content through Existenz” (Jaspers, l955: 67)]

Feelings of inadequacy, the sudden loss of a loved one, a close encounter with death, all of these infrequent, but very real events, rattle our sense of ontological security and, at times, call into question our sense of purpose, meaning, and self. During bouts with intense emotional insecurity it is not unusual for a person to turn self-narrative back upon itself and inquire: “Who is the narrator?” It is at this time when the split between biography and not-me-self (now perceptible) avails itself to a person’s ruminations of mixed feelings and self-doubts.