I am becoming terminally confused by WordPress. As they keep changing things around and do not bother to keep me informed, I find I can do less and less with the program, after all these years. As an interim measure to figuring how to approve this comment, I will post the comment from WildEarthMan, which I think is excellent, along with my responses.
Here are two things we clearly agree upon: We are living in an Old Story that is destroying the world, leaving us with an urgent need for a New Story, and; we are deep into population overshoot, and, since we are a biological species, Nature is going to deal with us just like she does with any other species that (temporarily) exceeds the Earth’s sustainable carrying capacity. I am sure we have other points of agreement, but from the way you present your belief system, I am uncertain where these are.
I am quite sure that we agree about almost everything, but we use different words and frames (I woke up in mid-night to write about frames today, now tired) to express them. That is why I am interested in our conversation. I am looking for solutions.
I think we went off to the side of the direct subject in this discussion, and for my part one of my premises is that the best and only way to understand big holistic realities is to look for commonalities in the ways that we express our perceptions of the one reality.
I like your book and I am excited that you are writing it. We all live in the same reality that we try to explain through our various paradigms, and it is important that we communicate the SIMILARITIES (especially the similarities) among these paradigms, because the more common observations we have made along the path, the more likely those common. Observations are to lead us along a path that approaches the reality. I comment on your observations not because any kind of relationship between us, but in hopes that we both can have a closer relationship with whatever that reality is. I do not think you should see what I see or write about it. I do think it is a bit of a miracle that we both see nearly the same, even though we use different words.
I must confess, Lynn, that I am made uncomfortable by the way you throw around the concept of emergence. I do not deny that emergence can be a factor in the way the world orders itself. I think of a coral reef as an excellent example of an emergent structure which serves a number of important ecological functions, but as far as we know, there is no coral director directing each individual coral to contribute its share to the architectural marvel that is a coral reef. But I see this word, emergence, used by scientists and others as a way of explaining something that we just don’t understand, but leaving the impression that there is no mystery here; emergence explains it all.
If you choose to figure out my mental system (paradigm, after your book is completed) you will probably appreciate that I don’t throw around that term (or any term). The reason it sounds odd is because – within the corpospeak paradigm – it doesn’t make sense like it does within my paradigm. The function of a system is to perpetuate itself. The corposystem today has taken control of the information, and perpetuates itself, or recreates and exaggerates itself in every generation) mostly by defining the words and paradigms that we are permitted to use and/or understand. And then it requires us to simplify and provide cutsy coropsystem stories or examples, metaphors or some other device from within the corposystem world view in order to explain our thoughts. Which of course, said thoughts, when they come from outside the corposystem world view, are hard to understand for people who live inside the corposystem paradigm. So the English teachers (not really, it’s the media mostly) give us an F and we learn to se only corpospeak.
I have given up on corpospeak. I also do not like the corposystem usage of the term emergent properties, and have spent about five years looking for a better word, but unfortunately it means what it means, and if I try a different word, then NOBODY will know what I mean. (I tried.) I am also able to switch definitions. If you have definitions I can use yours when talking to you, and in fact I think that may be the only way to bridge the information barrier that stands between the corposystem and other naturally evolved systems.
I don’t believe you can get something out of nothing. I don’t believe life can come from non-life; that intelligence can come from non-intelligence; that consciousness can come from non-consciousness. Materialists, who claim that the Universe consists of nothing more than inert matter operating according to nothing more than random chance and linear mechanics, try to “explain” life, consciousness, and intelligence using the magic wand of emergence–But I don’t buy it. What makes more sense to me is that the Universe itself is conscious, intelligent, and therefore alive, and must always have been so. To me, this is not an abstruse philosophical point, but vital to our very survival.
This could work up into another definition problem, depending on how we define life (or Life, as I refer to Lift itself to be more clear). However, I think of it more as the God question, which for me is not a problem, because I am so deeply embedded in my science that I have learned not to be bothered by things I can’t explain, except to push back at those that are harmful to the people. That is why I stress facts and non-facts so much. The facts are few, but they are incredibly important to our survival. If we know a fact, then we can evaluate the probable long-term results of our behaviors. I can also discuss non-facts, including the God question, using other people’s definitions and belief systems or my own. Karen Armstrong, not a scientist, is also good at this. I think it’s a good thing, so long as we recognize that the human paradigms can’t change nonhuman realities. This kind of question should definitely be discussed relative to human world views and behaviors and needs. It’s not my question because I am trying to explain a different and more useful (less harmful to the people) world view than the corposystem world view.
Maybe you can grant me the point that the people of our culture are living in wrong relationship to the natural world.
ABSOLUTELY. It’s all I talk about.
I trace this back thousands of years, beyond the axial age, to the beginnings of agriculture and private property, to what I call the Big Lie. If you believe that you and your people are separate from, and superior to, Mother Earth and the Community of Life, the psychological way is paved to treat the Earth as a dead storehouse of resources for human use as well as a garbage dump for all the toxic junk that remains after those resources have been exploited. If, on the other hand, you believe that the human is an integral part of the Community of Life, and that the Earth and all Life are sacred, you are likely to live in better relationship to the natural world you recognize as part of yourself—because everything is connected to everything else.
Yes, the question then becomes how to get other people to believe in a viable, fact-based reality so that we can begin to live it. These are questions about the relationships between humans and the biosystem, and the answers must be based in the facts – since we mostly now do know the facts that need to be addressed.
A corollary of the Big Lie is the narcissistic anthropocentrism that characterizes the people of our culture. We see ourselves as exceptional beings who can make our rules, while ignoring the laws of Life, including the law of reciprocity. We have given ourselves permission to take and take and never give anything back. This, too, is part of our pathological culture. And this is the root we need to dig down to.
This, in my opinion is a problem within the human social system (rather than specifically a problem in a relationship between a human social system and the Biosystem). In this case we do have a naturally evolved set of instincts that can be thought of as part of our world-views. And then we have an ocean of opinions, most of which are excuses to participate in the narcissistic anthropocentrism. That is a human/human problem and may or may not be directly related to the human/other situation. The two situations differ (partly because of the emergent properties that separate systems from each other that I am not going to talk about until I can explain in context). Yes – the Big Lie is a human God question from several points of view, the most important being we are not God
I have a lifelong interest in science, but my academic training has been as a generalist—with a major in English, but with an abiding interest in history, philosophy, anthropology, and a bunch of other disciplines, too. I find all academic departments to be far too narrow in scope to get anywhere close to the realities of life—which does not divide itself into discreet departments. I see the world in holistic terms, and favor the Big Picture and the long lens of history, believing that you best understand something if you perceive it in context.
As a society we need to acknowledge the big picture and the details. We make bad mistakes when we ignore either or argue over facts – especially those that exist at different levels.
I took a fair amount of science classes as an undergraduate, including genetics and evolution, but I was intuitively resistant to the usual dogmas that always seem to go along with the standard scientific education–and that few science majors ever get around to questioning. As I have said, I find many of these taken-for-granted doctrines to be a poor explanation of the world we live in, and this worldview is frequently used to further our wrong relationship with the natural world. For people whose paradigm is the corposystem I would say it is ALWAYS used to further our wrong relationship with the natural world. People who are living in the corposystem paradigm can’t even see the natural world, though they believe that they do.
In my would-be book I go into quite a bit of detail about this, linking scientific materialism with the Old Story that is bringing the world down around us. Nor am I confusing science with technology in this regard. Both science and technology have their own particular subcultures, and both partake of our larger deep culture, including our endemic anthropocentrism (humans above all) and our investment in the Big Lie of separation. As for what used to be called “pure science,” capitalism has made sure that almost no one can afford to study life and the world just for the joy of seeing it whole and clear.
Then the Big Lie qualifies as one of the common subjects that can be recognized from the viewpoint of nearly any paradigm and it therefore requires to be discussed in detail and from various viewpoints. I look forward to reading it. I haven’t been on line for a while so am behind.
Oh yes, I think you would like “The Information” by James Gleick if you haven’t read it. I don’t care for his style, but he brings facts and ideas together better than most. Excellent on history of science.
Filed under: Community | Leave a comment »