It is very rare that on my reading-expeditions into the realm of thought I encounter fundamental truths. One such shocking experience happened some 25 years ago when I thought about the title of Gregory Bateson's "MIND and NATURE - A NECESSARY UNITY".
A NECESSARY UNITY: ...The underlying notion of a dividing line between the world of the living (where distinctions are drawn and difference can be a cause) and the world of nonliving billiard balls and galaxies (where forces and impacts are the causes of events). These are the two worlds that Jung following the Gnostics calls creatura (the living) and pleroma (the nonliving). (C.G. JUNG: Septem Sermones ad Mortuos)
I was asking: What is the difference between the physical world of pleroma, where forces and impacts provide sufficient basis of explanation, and the creatura, where nothing can be understood until differences and distinctions are invoked? In my life, I have put the descriptions of sticks and stones and billiard balls and galaxies in one box, the pleroma, and have left them alone. In the other box, I put living things: crabs, people, problems of beauty, and problems of difference. The contents of the second box are the subject of this book. I was griping recently about the shortcomings of occidental education. It was in a letter to my fellow regents of the University of California, and the following phrase crept into my letter: "Break the pattern which connects the items of learning and you necessarily destroy all quality. I offer you the phrase: "The pattern which connects" as a synonym, another possible title for this book.
Another discovery of a very basic idea was the keyword PERSISTENCE that I found in Steve Grand's Creation: Life and How to Make it - Phoenix 2001 - pg 42:
Everything you see around you is an example of a phenomenon that persists, at least for a reasonably extended period, and the reason the universe looks the way it does is that some things persist and others don't....
MIND and MATTER
SPIRIT and SUBSTANCE
pg 6: ....philosophical speculation about life and consciousness has been a sad, gradual process of the "explaining away" the soul. It has been turned into first a substance, then a force, and now a mechanism. Yet recognising that life and consciousness are products of material processes need not " explain them away" in the slightest. I think it calls into question the meaning of "material process" itself.
pg 7: ....the primitive, dualistic distinction between mind and matter, spirit and substance, has been replaced by a more modern one which in effect claims that there is only substance. I would prefer to claim that there is only spirit. One of the points of view this book seeks to explore can be stated as follows:
Life is not made of atoms, it is merely built out of them. What life is actually "made of" its cycles of cause and effect, loops of causal flow. These phenomena are just as real as atoms - perhaps even more real. If anything, the universe is actually made from events, of which atoms are merely some of the consequences.
pg 12: ...The natural world is composed of a hierarchy of "persistent phenomena", in which matter, life, mind and society are simply different levels or aspects of the same thing.
What life is actually "made of" its cycles of cause and effect, loops of causal flow.
(The argument of Steve Grand's Creation: pages 6-40; pages 41-70)
Cycles of cause and effect, loops of causal flow - INFORMATION !! The basic element of our universe is not MATTER - nor is it a "RES COGITANS" (without spacial extension) - it is that illusive concept of INFORMATION.
Dynamics of information: Ward Virtual Organisms pg 8: The continunm of living organisms stretches from viruses, which are little more than a stretch of DNA or RNA surrounded by a protein sheath, up to planetary ecosystems like Earth at the other. All of them use the same principles to - briefly - defy the first and second laws of thermodynamics and the attempts of the larger Universe to return them to the dust from whence they came.
Life is all about ensuring information is passed on, or transmitted, while all the time preventing entropy from corrupting the message. Life has found a way to ensure that entropy keeps increasing but not at the expense of its own survival or the integrity of the information it wants to transmit.
ALife is helping us to understand just how it does it. It is starting to show that living things do not rely on the properties of chemicals to foster another generation, they depend on information encoded in chemical form. ALife is showing just how the dynamics of information can come to dominate over the properties of the materials living things are made of. ALife research has revealed that this shift occurs when a system is acting chaotically. Not chaotically in terms of 'badly organized' but chaos in the mathematical sense.
Humberto Maturana / Bernhard Pörksen Vom Sein zum Tun Carl Auer 2002
PÖRKSEN: In Ihrem berühmt gewordenen Aufsatz Biology of Cognition findet sich bereits nach wenigen Seiten ein unschuldig wirkender Satz, der mir für Ihr gesamtes Werk zentral erscheint. "Alles, was gesagt wird", so liest man hier, "wird von einem Beobachter gesagt." Wie ist das zu verstehen?
MATURANA: Das Gesagte lässt sich unter keinen Umständen von demjenigen trennen, der etwas sagt; es gibt keine überprüfbare Möglichkeit, die eigenen Behauptungen mit einem Bezug zu einer beobachterunabhängigen Realität zu versehen, deren Vorhandensein man womöglich als gegeben voraussetzt. Niemand vermag einen privilegierten Zugang zu einer externen Wirklichkeit oder Wahrheit zu beanspruchen.
Wenn ich dagegen betone, dass alles Gesagte von einem Beobachter gesagt wird, dann rückt eine andere Schlüsselfrage ins Zentrum, die das gesamte traditionelle System der philosophischen Auseinandersetzung mit der Realität, der Wahrheit und dem Wesen des Seins verändert: Sie handelt nicht mehr von Erforschung einer äußeren Wirklichkeit, die man als extern und gegeben wahrnimmt und voraussetzt. Es ist der Beobachter, dessen Operationen ich - operierend als ein Beobachter - verstehen möchte; es ist die Sprache, die ich - in der Sprache lebend - erklären will; es ist das Sprechen, das ich - sprechend - genauer beschreiben möchte. Kurzum: Es gibt keine Außenansicht dessen, was es zu erklären gilt.
On the lookout for creative ideas I came across an Essay in a journal (Cybernetics&HumanKnowing) that that for me is often a source of a basic ideas :
Terry Marks-Tarlow: Semiotic Seams: Fractal Dynamics of Reentry
Cybernetics & Human Knowing vol 11, no1, 2004
Summary in quotes: Abstract: This essay concerns fractal geometry as a bridge between the imaginary and the real, mind and matter, conscious and unconscious.
The logic rests upon Jung's theory of number as the most primitive archetype of order for linking observers with the observed. Whereas Jung focused upon natural numbers as the foundation for order that is already conscious, I offer fractal geometry, with its endlessly recursive iteration on the complex number plane, as the underpinning for a dynamic unconscious destined never to become fully conscious. Everywhere in nature, fractal separatrices articulate a paradoxical zone of bounded infinity that both separates and connects nature's edges. By occupying the "space between" dimensions and levels of existence, fractal boundaries exemplify reentry dynamics of Varela's autonomous systems, as well as Hofstadter's ever-elusive "tangled hierarchy" where brain and mind are most entwined. At this second-order, cybernetic frontier, the horizon of observers observing the observation process remains infinitely complex and ever receding from view. I suggest that the property of self-similarity, by which the pattern of the whole permeates fractal parts at different scales, represents the semiotic sign of identity in nature.
FRACTAL GEOMETRY - COMPLEXITY - SELF-SIMILARITY - DYNAMICS - TIME - REENTRY
On the lookout for creative ideas I discovered a very basic process: Distinction
George Spencer Brown Only Two Can Play This Game Bantam Books 1974 pg 11
pg 26 In the whole science of physics there is no such thing as a thing. Hundreds of years ago we carefully forgot this fact, and now it seems astonishing even to begin to remember it again. We draw the boundaries, we shuffle the cards, we make the distinctions. In physics, yes physics, super-objective physics, solid reliable four-square dam-buster physics, clean wholesome outdoor fresh-air family-entertainment sciencefiction superman physics, they don't even exist. It's all in the mind.
creative ideas: Its the human mind that makes distinctions. Ideas are in the mind - and what is Behind our distinctions?
Die konditionierte Coproduktion von Kommunikation und Bewusstsein
Page 2: Es gibt aber auch die Möglichkeit, Verwirrungen dieser Art auf tiefer liegende Theorieprobleme zurückzuführen, die noch vor dem Splitting der Systemwelt in psychische und soziale Systeme eine eigentümlich subversive Rolle spielen, die mit dem Systembegriff selbst zu tun haben, Paradoxieprobleme, durch die ein viel massiver wirksames Skandalon bezeichnet wird.Wir nennen solche Probleme vorläufig EINS=ZWEI=EINS-Probleme.
...Kommt es aber auf diese Unabschließbarkeit an, geht es also um das, was man theoretische Grundlagenforschung nennt, bietet sich für das im Systembegriff eingezeichnete EINS=ZWEI=EINS-Problem der Ausdruck konditionierte Koproduktion an.
Behind our distinctions is Nirvana, the Void, Nothingness, what we can not differenciate, what we can not know, what we can not speak about. The old problem of how the One becomes Two, then Three and the tenthousend things
THE TAO TEH KING by Lao-Tse 42. 1.
The Tao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three; Three produced All things.
Our distinctions, that is all our philosophy, our science, our life, all we can think about. I believe that some very important new basic ideas are being created in our human world now. The process of distinction is a capacity we humans developed, it is made inside our large brains. It does not come from beyond - as theologians have been telling us.
I found such ideas in the books of many Buddhist thinkers:
Ajahn Sumedho The Way it is...
Re-reading these basic concepts, I came to realise that I forgot to mention a most important fundamental problem: How to think about myself?
Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada mas.
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar. Antonio Machado
How to think about myself? How to make my way by going?
The mindfulness/awareness student first begins by observing, in a precisely prescribed fashion, what the mind is doing, its restless, perpetual grasping, from moment to moment. This beginning enables the student to free himself from some of his habitual patterns of thought, which leads to further mindfulness. Eventually he begins to realize that there is no self in any of his actual experiences. This discovery can be disturbing. It can cause the student to lose heart and tempt him to swing to the other extreme, that of nihilism. This flight into nihilism demonstrates that the reflex to ding to a substantial self is so strong and deep-seated that we reify its absence as a sort of abyss. Francisco Varela Ethical Know-How
How to make my way by going? Franciso Varela introduced me to "groundlessness", the most basic idea of all.
I am referring to the spontaneous gestures that arise when one is not caught in the habitual patterns - when one is not performing volitional actions out of acquired habitual patterns. In other words, actions that embody and express the realization of the emptiness of self in a nondual manifestation of subject and object. It is the decentered self ideal also expressed in the ethics of psychoanalysis. When action is done without the business-deal mentality, there can be relaxation and this is called supreme (or transcendental) generosity or prajnaparamita.When discussing wisdom from the point of view of this highest ethical expertise, the Sanskrit term often used is bodhicitta, which has been variously translated as "enlightened mind," "the heart of the enlightened state of mind," or simply the "awakened heart." Francisco Varela Ethical Know-How
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