Dallas, August 9, 1999
Zeus: Emile, ... 'Auto-lobotomizing Domination' has a cynical ring to it. I don't see how such a harsh critique of our culture can flow off the tongues of 'warriors for transformation', individuals who will need to be coming from 'honesty', 'caring', 'sharing' and 'strength', ... from the cultivation of harmonic accord.
Emile: It's not intended to be cynical. It was chosen for clarity and bluntness to convey the geometry of a particularly troublesome societal dysfunction. Youth, as warriors for transformation, ... must not draw back from words and metaphors because of 'political correctness', .... those unwritten cultural rules which protect and perpetuate dysfunction. To become the leaders our society needs, to allow our culture to thaw and evolve, .... "the thickness of their skin shall be seven spans nine, which is to say that they shall be proof against anger, offensive action and criticism. Their hearts shall be full of peace and good will, and their minds filled with a yearning for the welfare of their people. ... Their firmness shall be tempered with a tenderness for their people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodging in their minds and all their words and actions shall be marked by calm deliberation." (Kaienerokowa).
Zeus: I agree that it is time for us to face up firmly to those destructive practices we are inflicting on ourselves, as an aboriginal chief 'in modern clothing' might face up to things, ... our society seems to continually complain but do nothing. Nevertheless, I am not sure what you are implying with the words 'auto-lobotomizing domination', ... it sounds very negative, and it seems to me that if we say that our culture is perpetrating such things, it is important to make it understood.
Emile: I agree, ... but we both know that one needs to have the desire to understand the complexity we are immersed in, in order to understand it. Many feel that the complexity we are immersed in is impossible to understand, and thus, they close their ears to all attempts to share understanding and continue on, lemming-like, on a blind trip to wherever the 'complex system' takes them.
Zeus: ... That's no reason to abandon attempts to share with each other whatever beginnings to understanding we think we have. It seems to me that the 'warrior for transformation' will do his best to share his thoughts with others. So, ... tell me as bluntly as you can what you mean by 'auto-lobotimizing domination'.
Emile: Very well. We know that the world is not mechanical but we continue to utilize rational models to 'explain' it which are essentially mechanical. In mechanical models, we explain system behaviors in terms of the behaviors of the parts. But we also know from evolutionary theory, and from relativity and quantum physics, that our reality is not mechanical, ... that the environmental container engages with its own contents in a continual co-evolutionary process, ... the space-time container is a participant in physical phenomena, as Einstein says. In other words, there is no way to understand our reality from the behavior of the contents on their own. This barrier to understanding is in fact how we define complex systems and we know that nature is innately complex in this way. In other words, 'complex systems' equate to everyday 'reality'.
Meanwhile our culture believes in 'causal' regulation through imposed rules and control hierarchies and we attack undesired behaviors by regulating 'contents', ... the 'unilateral' regulation of parts within the container, rather than inquiring into and dealing with system behaviors in terms of the relational interference between container and contents. In other words, we associate 'problems' with the contents or parts of the system and ignore the co-evolutionary role of the containing environment. So we 'treat' the parts, most often, out of the context of the container.
If an individual, a 'part' with the container of community, has a mental breakdown, we unilaterally focus on them, 'diagnosing' them as having some kind of defect and we ignore the properties of the container which induced the breakdown, ... 'rationalizing' this one-sided inquiry by referencing their behavior to a statistical norm; i.e. we say that they should have been able to withstand the pressures of the containing community since the majority seems to be able to. After we isolate the 'defective individuals' ('contents' or 'parts'), we then neutralize or emasculate the offensive behaviors by treating these individuals with drugs.
This process of using the container as accepted ground upon which to stand as we unilaterally 'fix the parts' is not confined to 'mental health'. In the workplace, we ensure compliant behaviors using the same general geometry, but in this case, the neutralization or emasculation of offensive behaviors is achieved with money rather than drugs. The important point to note is that in following these approaches, we do not eliminate or alleviate the inductive pressure emanating from the container, which engenders mental breakdowns or conflict in the workplace, ... instead, we simply reduce the 'content's interest in the 'container', ... we reduce the mental patient's interest in the world around him, and we reduce the worker's interest in his containing environment. This is the 'lobotomy effect', where "patients don't lose their symptoms, they lose 'interest' in them. Essentially, unilateral 'parts-oriented' approach to management 'solves the problem' by selectively neutralizing or emasculating the coevolutionary relationship between 'container' and 'content'. Implicit in this approach is the non-relativistic acceptance of the container as being the 'normal' or 'desired' state, ... an acceptance which suspends our purposive input into the evolution of the container and allows its evolution to be driven, instead, by backlash from our 'parts-management' programs.
Where an ecological system such as 'community' is regulated by imposing controls, conflict is bound to emerge between the container of 'community' and its 'content'. If we simply 'lobotomize' the resistance, ... by treating conflictive behavior with drugs or money, we are effectively dissolving the coevolutionary container-content relationship. This suspends the evolution of the container and clears the way for its 'domination' over its own contents, hence the term 'auto-lobotomizing domination'.
Zeus: You present your position firmly and without anger. I can see clearly what you say here, ... that the mechanical systems view runs afoul of ecological systems such as community, by accepting without question, the assumptions and inductive influences of the container, ... and by holding that problems and solutions are solely a function of 'contents', rather than container, ... putting the container beyond question and adopting the attitude; 'my container, right or wrong', ... my country, right or wrong, ... my culture, right or wrong, ... my subjectivity, right or wrong. But we find no lasting answers by looking for problems and solutions solely within the contents of these containers and leaving the containers themselves to be determined, not by our deliberate purpose, but by unanticipated reaction to the controls which the container imposes on its contents.
Since we simply do not deal with the trajectory of the container in this parts-oriented approach, ... and since the container continues to 'go somewhere', we find ourselves like people on a train which is going somewhere we don't want it to go, ... people who anxiously debate the issues of content and argue with the conductor about it, ... but the container/train continues to increase its speed towards unwanted destinies. Against this backdrop, it becomes clear why Laing uses the term 'frenetic passivity', ... as our concerns and our debates, being focused solely on content, have no 'traction' with respect to where the container 'is taking us'.
Emile: Yes, the complexity researchers call this 'runaway' feedback. It's an aspect of evolution wherein a species 'makes too much of a good thing', ... and gets too big and self-conscious for its own shoes, so to speak, ... 'shoes' meaning the containing environment it is immersed in. In the single-minded exploitation of successful traits, one is easily mesmerized by one's dominatory powers, turning one's back on the immersing container where one is 'coming from', and as a consequence, 'co-evolution' of container with content weakens or dies.
Zeus: Now that you mention it, I remember the sequence of fitness curves for 'runaway feedback' in a recent issue of *Complexity*, showing the little fitness peak right on the top of the overall fitness profile for all the species in the containing environment. At first, it looked like a nipple on the top of a breast, ... but as time went by and the system evolved, the nipple moved forward and down the flank of the 'breast', as if the 'fitness' had developed a micro-world of its own to live in, and had disengaged from overall fitness relative to its container. When I think of this idea of a micro-world disengaged from its container, Y2K comes immediately to my mind. It seems to be a warning of this runaway feedback, ... a reminder of how dependent we're getting on our own rational structures, ... contents which have become increasingly oblivious to their containing environment. We can't get away from the fact that we live in a system of nested containers, individuals contained in community, community contained in nation, nation contained in global society, global society contained in Earth ecology, and Earth ecology contained in cosmic ecology. An open and permeable system whose harmony derives from simultaneous co-evolution on multiple scale levels, a fractal process. Runaway feedback is the twisting off and disengaging from this coevolutionary system.
Emile: 'Rational structures' hits the nail on the head exactly. The discovery, by the Greek philosophers, of the power and elegance of rationality has enabled the cultural strains who have put the rational in a primacy over the relational (coevolutional) to come to dominate the earth in a homocentric sense, ... but the 'container' is not 'happy' with this state of affairs and neither are its human contents.
Zeus: But, 'rationality' is a method of reasoning, ... a method based on logic, and material-causal interpretations of reality which allows us to figure out what's going on around us. How can you overdo a method of reasoning and get detached from what's going on around us? It seems to me that our reasoning should keep us in a harmonious relationship with our overall environmental container.
Emile: Kepler put his finger on why this is not so back in the seventeenth century, ... explaining that the harmony within each part is secondary to the harmony 'of the parts' which is simultaneous, and that 'ratiocinative intellection' cannot comprehend the simultaneous harmony of multiple parts (whole-and-part harmony) which seems to emanate from the container. Even though he emphasizes this point by repeating it and putting it in emphatic script, it seems we still 'do not get it'. He speaks of the whole-and-part (holographic and self-standing) nature of his findings and their presentation in 'The Epitome of Copernican Astronomy'; "For even without the epilogue, the following thesis is upheld by incontrovertible demonstrations: THAT IN THE FARTHEST MOVEMENTS OF ANY TWO PLANETS, THE UNIVERSE WAS STAMPED WITH THE ADORNMENT OF OF HARMONIC PROPORTIONS; AND, ACCORDINGLY, IN ORDER THAT THIS ADORNMENT MIGHT BE BROUGHT INTO CONCORD WITH THE MOVEMENTS, THE ECCENTRICITIES WHICH FELL TO THE LOT OF EACH PLANET HAD TO BE BROUGHT INTO CONCORD. The most wise Prince [his boss, Emperor Rudolph II] will easily reckon how great an addition this makes in illlustrating the glory of the fabric of the world and of God the Architect [God, to Kepler, was the 'geometrical order' in nature]
In this statement, Kepler points out that the harmony of three or more bodies (sun plus two planets) stands in a primacy over any other two-body harmonies (individual planetary orbit around the sun) and in Harmonia Mundi, he demonstrates how perception of this simultaneous and harmony is beyond the capability of 'ratiocinative intellection' [it depends on 'inclusionary reason' and violates the law of exclusion, wherein two things which are said to have distinct identities; e.g. the identities of 'A' _and_ 'B' cannot have overlap, ... we must think only in terms of 'A' _or_ 'B'. ]. This same problem emerges in 'quantum connectedness' and the Einstein-Podalsky-Rosen effect.
Zeus: This is interesting, but I don't see how it answers my question; ..."It seems to me that our reasoning should keep us in a harmonious relationship with our overall environmental container."
Emile: But Zeus, ... what Kepler was pointing out was that the 'order' which is being induced by the container cannot be deduced by rationally working with the 'contents' or 'parts' of the container. There is a basic limitation to 'rationality' which makes it unable, in itself, to 'visualize' harmony and relationships. Pure rationality is what is in computers, ... when the computer triggers actions on the basis of its rational program, it cannot know how that action impacts its own environment, ... rationality is not 'self-referential', ... it cannot 'stand on its own shoulders and observe itself' in the current flow of evolving 'history'.
Pure rationality cannot see the 'story' within which it lives, and unless moderated by relational understanding, this can lead to unnatural, dissonant behavior. For example, the Nazi doctors who performed lethal experiments on prisoners in the 1940's were 'following rational orders' 'in their own right'. They put a purely 'voyeur' view of their patients into the primacy, ... seeing them as detached logical objects 'in their own right'. Pure rationality does not include the 'story' which enfolds, connects and makes sense out of an ensemble of rational structures. The 'story' is an 'inclusionary reasoning' based thing which is the container for our rational structures. As Einstein says, ... (scientific) rationality can only ascertain 'what is', but not 'what should be'. Nietzsche says the same thing in terms of 'cause' and 'purpose'; i.e. rationality is all about 'cause' and we cannot think of 'purpose' at the same time, ... 'purpose' comes with the immersing 'story' in which our rational thoughts are enfolded. When we are in rational mode, we cannot be 'immersed' in our story at the same moment. As Feynman says, 'we cannot build equipment which determines alternatives without destroying the interference patterns.' The interference patterns which exist when we're not thinking in terms of rational alternatives are the containing medium of 'story'.
Zeus: ... It seems to me that you are giving me a rational explanation of the limits of rational explanation, ... is that not a 'voyeur view' in itself? Can you not give me an immersed view that I can associate with experimentally?
Emile: Let's try this then. ... Rational statements are always focused on 'content' without taking care of 'container'. Consider the following statement which I think you will agree that our culture accepts as being 'true', ... "Progress in learning comes faster when people are taught to understand systems in terms of simplified approximations". That is, because the notion of relativistic curved space-time continuum is seen as being more difficult to teach, we stick with our teaching of euclidian space and linear time. We do this because we can progress more quickly in our understanding of nature, if we use euclidian space and linear time concepts, right?
Zeus: I can already see where you are going. The term 'progress in learning' is a trap because it is focused on content and ignores the container. The container of 'community' is currently impeded in its learning because of the expedient of teaching approximations which make initial learning progress more quickly. This means that the initial rational proposition, ... "Progress in learning comes faster when people are taught to understand systems in terms of simplified approximations", is both 'true' and 'false' at the same time, ... which violates the law of exclusion.
Emile: Precisely, ... Kepler had assimilated this incompleteness aspect of rationality well before he wrote Harmonia Mundi and spoke to it in the context of education, as follows; "As regards the academies, they are established in order to regulate the studies of the pupils and are concerned not to have the program of teaching change very often: in such places, because it is a question of the progress of the students, it frequently happens that the things which have to be chosen are not those which are most true but those which are most easy. And by that division in things which makes different people form different judgements, it so happens that certain people are in error contrary to their own opinion." That is, what one advocates for the contents can come into conflict with what wishes for the container, as we have discovered so belatedly in the context of technology and environment.
Zeus: Our society seems not to have gotten the point yet, ... we seem to hold to the idea that "We can progress faster if we make fewer mistakes" and so we have drug-sniffing dogs and machines, Xray devices for weapon detection, photo-radar for automated enforcement of speed limits, and a continuing barrage of technology-assisted controls aimed at 'preventing mistakes', ... but this is, once again, a voyeur view of 'contents' out of the context of container, ... and thus it both 'true' and 'false' at the same time since content and container are aspects of the same system, and the container can only 'refine' but cannot 'evolve' (progress) if it makes no mistakes.
So I hear what you say, that rationality answers questions about 'what is' but not questions about 'what should be', since one must be in 'immersed mode' (one must assume the 'container mindset' which is 'whole-and-part' relationship oriented) to answer 'should be' or 'purposive' questions and this requires 'inclusionary reasoning' which violates the rational law of exclusion. ... but now my mind goes back to the film 'Bladerunner' where the replicants were programmed with 'story', the 'history' of someone else's family, given in great detail. So it seems to me that rationality has the potential capability to 'carry story' in rational structure form without having to invoke our inclusionary reasoning capability. And therefore, if we continue to build 'rational story', this will provide answers to the question of purpose, ... it will provide a story to contain itself, ... so to speak.
Emile: You are right sir, ... but it will only 'catch up with itself' given an infinitely detailed rational structure, and this ties back to the issues of container-and-content, inclusion-and-exclusion which we were just talking about. Consider the statement "This statement is not true", ... let's call this statement 'S'. If 'S' is true, then it is false. But it cannot be true AND false at the same time, right?, ... because that would break 'the law of non-contradiction' (exclusion) which, as mentioned, is a basic property of rational thought, but a constraint which does not apply to relational thought. The problem here for rationality is that when we get issues of 'self-referentiality' and 'truth' bundled together as in the statement 'S' (which both refers to itself and speaks of 'truth'), rationality runs out of gas. This incompleteness of rationality was proven by Kurt Goedel in 1930. The point is that 'truth' is not definable in finite rational terms. When we make explicit statements such as 'this is a hurricane', there is no innate truth within the statement, ... the truth would have to come from the 'containing story' which includes the evolutionary history of we who are dealing in such statements, ... from the story of man and the development of language and the implicitly accepted rules of rationality and all that. Thus when we plan our lives on the basis of rational statements whose 'truth' is inherently 'incomplete', we are effectively getting on a train which can take us to unintended destinations. Gregory Chaitin puts this in the terms of rationality giving us an exposure to 'building twenty pound theorems from ten pound axioms', the results of which are captured in the words of the Robbie Burns, ... "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men, Gang aft a-gley,"
Zeus: Against this backdrop, I can better visualize this difference between the 'voyeur' nature of rationality which you are always talking about. When we are locked into rationally discussing issues about 'what is', we are always talking about some 'content' which is 'out there' and we cannot at the same time experience the 'immersed story' which accounts for who we are and what our purpose is in discussing this content issue, ...whether the issue is worth discussing or not, and if it is, why it is. From the voyeur perspective, we could rationally debate how many fairies could fit on the head of the pin, and there is nothing in the rational discussion itself which tells us whether or not its worthwhile, but in practice we wouldn't bother with such a discussion, because it wouldn't make sense in the context of our 'story' which enfolds and gives meaning to our rational exercises.
Emile: Exactly, ... without our 'story', in which both we and our rational dialogues are immersed, ... a story which gives meaning and purpose to rational thinking, ... the rational thought just 'sits there' in its own right. What did Shakespeare say?, ... "... 'tis but a tale told by an idiot, fully of sound and fury, signifying nothing.", and John Lennon?, ... "Life is something which happens to us as we are busy making other [rational] plans." In this sense, our rational thought represents 'content' within the 'story-container' (ordering patterns of the space-time container) which must be given meaning by the story-container. This 'geometry', or 'topology' if you like, comes up all over in nature and in thought. The environment gives meaning and purpose to its contents, ... the minerals, plants and animals which are pulled into the evolving future by the environmental container.
Zeus: Of course, when you say 'the environment pulls' the contents into its future forms, you are already out of the domain of the rational, ... because the rational is 'causal' and therefore determined by the past, ... by the cause-and-effect actions of material entities in the past.
Emile: And here you put your finger on a key point of thought and reasoning. The environment offers 'opportunity' to its contents, ... opportunity which pulls and shapes the contents, whether this be terms of electrons and opportunities in molecular orbits or in terms of male-female relationships. But of course, we are not forced to look at container and content in terms of 'opportunity' for the content, we can equally look at container and content in terms of 'causality', ... where the contents determine the changes in their environmental container, ... Which is the 'right' view?
Zeus: If things could be shown to be 'true' in themselves, ... that is, if the 'what is' could be proven true, then I would say that the causal view is the right view. But that seems somehow 'non-relativistic', ... as if we are starting from a base of 'absolute things' and 'true axioms', and we have just agreed that this 'rational' approach exposes us to 'building twenty pound theorems from ten pound axioms', truths whose weightiness cannot be supported by their axiomatic underpinnings. Besides, I have this impression, from common-sense observations of nature, that the container and the contents 'co-evolve' and this receives further validation from quantum physics, as you say. So if one 'believes' in container-content-coevolution, one does not have to choose whether the container 'pulls' OR the contents 'push', but one can instead visualize the container and contents as a unity, which co-evolve.
Emile: Exactly, and this fits with the notion of matter (contents) being a secondary thing, ... 'precipitates' of their immersing field, as Faraday and Einstein both said. Here we can see one of the Goedellian incompletenesses of rationality, the 20/10 pound problem. We are now saying that 'what is' can be both container and content at the same time, and this is clearly true in such simple instances in nature as a magnet and a magnetic field which co-occupy the same space, or the harmony of whole and part in the system of sun and planets. This violates the law of exclusion and thus, if we believe this, we are outside of the domain of rationality. Of course, Einstein never maintained that life was rational, ... he ascribed the domain of 'what is' to science and the domain of 'what should be' (purpose) to 'religious tradition', in the manner of the Jewish-Christian tradition. Others, like Niels Bohr, Shroedinger, and Max Born, not to mention Kepler, believed that there was innate purpose in nature (in the sense of container-content attractor-pulled flows), and this meant seeing rationality and the 'law of exclusion' as limited ways of looking at the world. When Niels Bohr was knighted for his scientific achievements, he chose the yin/yang symbol, an open declaration of nature transcending rational, exclusionary, causal logic, as his family crest.
Zeus: Ok, I can buy into the yin/yang, true AND false, inclusionary view of the world, which sees container and contents as a co-evolving unity but now this obsoletes my whole view of space as euclidian and infinite, and things being 'absolute' and out of the context of time, so that time had to be an 'ad hoc' notion which had to be 'added in after the fact', so to speak, as a separate dimension. If one accepts inclusionary yin/yang reasoning, and visualizes space-time as co-evolving container and content, ... one now needs to be able to visualize the spatial container in a 'finite' context. In the euclidian sense, it is just void and goes on forever in all three rectangular dimensions, ... length, breadth and depth.
Emile: Yes, that's right, ... as soon as we stop 'hanging our hat' on absolute 'things', which is a non-relativistic thing to do, ... we have to begin to visualize space in a finite sense, since space and its contents 'coevolve'; i.e. they mutually transform into one another on the local level. Of course, this is what natural life does all the time, and does not suffer from the flatspace delusions that man does, when he confuses the abstract and rational with nature itself. We co-evolve with our immediate container. This is the biological life model of Henri Laborit and others, wherein the internal system (the contents of the container) seek to sustain an equilibrium within itself and at the same time, with its immersing environmental container. The effects of this co-evolutional dance propagate outward and permeate the whole of space, as do the effects from all other co-evolutional dances and this is what constitutes 'evolutionary flow'.
If you think about it in this way, there is no beginning and no end to it, .... space-time is a continuum, but certainly not a pre-determined or pre-determinable one. If we think of ourselves in terms analagous to a single-celled marine organism, the particulars of what constitutes our 'internal system' are unique (genetically and circumstantially) and since the container and content are a unity (the marine ecology and the organism are a unity), this means that our 'external container' (ecology), being the coevolutionary reciprocal of our 'internal system' (organism), will also be unique. That is, the 'marine ecology container' does not constitute a place to 'hang our hat' in this fully relativistic viewing of the system (it is the logic of exclusion and independent things which suggests to us that the containing environment can serve as a fixed reference base, and this is one of those twenty pound theorem, ten pound axiom self-deceptions.). In other words, the notions of euclidian space and absolute 'things in themselves', ... a setup that must be manipulated with exclusionary logic or 'rationality' provided AN ARTIFICIAL MEANS of giving us a 'starting place' to build up from, ... a non-relativistic starting place.
Zeus: I see the problem here, of container-content-coevolution, seen in an inclusionary or unified system sense, as being purely relativistic, and I can see the advantage of rationality which gives us a seemingly solid, thought abstract, base for reasoning about our reality, ... but I can't yet see how we 'fix rationality' so that it can deal with the relativism of the container-content-coevolution view of reality. Isn't this the problem of the so-called post-modernist philosophy of 'relativism'?
Emile: Philosophers over the centuries have shown themselves very able of tying themselves up in all kinds of rational knots. It is a rational view which says that relativism is undefinable thus 'anything goes'; i.e. it is rationalism declaring itself hopelessly inadequate, we might call this rationo-centrism and it is rationo-centric arrogance to assume that the limitations in rationality cannot be otherwise satisfied. As we have been saying, our rational thinking and philosophizing is given meaning by something greater, ... a containing story inside of which we sit and rationalize. Some would say that the 'container' is 'religious tradition', and others would say it is evolution itself, ... our 'evolutionary story' which gives meaning to our rational thoughts. This is where religion plays a role, and religion is very much related to our view of space-time; for example, do we want to build our view on 'absolutes' or not, ... the absolutes of 'what is' (things in their own right) which leads to 'exclusionary logic' and linear time, ... to the notion of being able to determine 'right' and 'wrong' (truth and falsehood) and 'good' and 'evil' in their own right, immediately when we see them.
Zeus: I see what you are saying, ... I remember Einstein speaking about the three inclusionary stages of religious thinking, the first being based on 'fear', the second on 'morality' and, as he said, "But there is a third stage of religious experience which belongs to all of them, even though it is rarely found in a pure form: I shall call it cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it."
Emile: Yes, remember how Kepler believed, as Proclus and Heraclitus before him had, that 'geometry' WAS God, ... the natural order in nature and things, "the way all things are steered through all" as Heraclitus said. Kepler was a Lutheran and thus, like Einstein, did not see his other two spheres of religious experience, the fear and morality spheres, as being 'exclusionary' with respect to his belief in a divine cosmic order. He was ultimately excommunicated for this 'pantheist' belief which put 'God' inside of nature, instead of outside of it, ... as its 'creator'. For Kepler, as for the Celtic, aboriginal, oriental and mythopoeic cultural traditions, ... nature was divine. The problem was that the Church, and the protestant Church as well, incorporated Aristotelian (exclusionary and absolute) logic into their doctrine. They still do, as Pope John Paul II's current encyclical 'Fides et Ratio' shows. Just as the rational way of thinking depends upon the law of non-contradiction (exclusion), on the impossibility of things being 'true' AND 'false' at the same time, ... the western religious traditions are built upon the same law of exclusion, ... on the impossibility of things being 'good' AND 'evil' at the same time.
In the container-content-coevolution way of looking at reality, 'things' do not exist 'in their own right' but are given meaning by the evolutionary 'story' which they are immersed in, and derive from, something which comes from our relational reasoning. Taoist 'stories', contrary to the western religious tradition, tell about how something which can be seen in the moment as 'evil', can over time spawn 'good'. This view avoids the absoluteness of 'things' (e.g. 'evil') detached from any relationship to their container and seen out of the context of time, and instead brings time and the connection between container-and-content back into the 'equation'. In other words, the 'evil' of the 'content' is seen in an inclusionary sense relative to its space-time container, ... it therefore loses its stand-alone tangibility and is seen instead in relational terms, as an 'emergent behavior', ... an upwelling in the 'container-and-content' stew. From this point of view, ... 'evil' is like an intense 'dissonance' which disrupts the harmony of whole-and-part, something which is taken care of in nature by the process of 'coevolution' between container and content. As Goethe also pointed out in the background to Faust, ... God and Mephistopheles are like brothers who induce transformation by their opposition, and there can be no transformation without this opposition (no music without high and low notes), thus it is not purification which is needed by harmonic balance.
Zeus: This would explain how, in Paula Underwood's indigenous traditions story of 'My father and the lima beans', there is an open inclusionary acceptance in the community for what we would call 'bad' types. It seems that we in the west work on the principle of immediate, absolute judgement and purification (purging of bad things) whereas the aboriginals use judgement as a Wittgensteinian ladder and while they may intervene with firmness to protect the harmony of their container (e.g. their community), they do not proceed to 'purify' it by attempting to purge all which is judged to be 'bad'. For example, in the 'great law of peace' (Kanienerekowa) of the Iroquois, it is said that 'You shall be a good person, and, you shall be kind to all of the people, not differentiating among them, the people who are wealthy, and the poor ones, and the good natured ones, and the evil ones who sin readily; all of them you shall treat kindly and you shall not differentiate among them." To this western mind, this is a very radical proposition.
Emile: Clearly, there are huge ramifications arising from the choice as to whether a culture puts the meaning which comes from the 'containing story' in which they are immersed in a primacy over the meaning which they see as being innate in their rational judgements. While the former is fully relativistic, the latter is non-relativistic since it uses its own abstract and arbitrary axioms as a base for regulation and planning, ... hence the exposure to twenty pound theorems based on ten pound axioms. And as you pointed out, if we don't start from axioms about things existing in their own right (detached from any co-evolutionary relationship with their container), we can't use the euclidian notion of space being an infinite void, and we need to visualize it, instead, in a finite, relativistic sense. This brings us back to the theory of relativity and to the notion of a finite, unbounded 'curved space'. "The human faculty of visualization is by no means bound to capitulate to non-Euclidean geometry" as Einstein says, and I think you will see, from his discussion on how to visualize finite curved space, ... how we substitute the absolute concepts (infinity) of euclidian space and the 'voyeur' viewing of space, ... for a view which is, in effect, a story in which we ourselves are immersed. Here's what he said about visualizing finite, curved space in his essay 'Geometry and Experience';
"Can we picture to ourselves a three-dimensional universe which is finite, yet unbounded?
The usual answer to this question is 'No,' but that is not the right answer. The purpose of the following remarks is to show that the answer should be 'Yes.' I want to show that without any extraordinary difficulty we can illustrate the theory of a finite universe by means of a mental image to which, with some practice, we shall soon grow accustomed.
First of all, an observation of epistemological nature. A geometrical-physical theory as such is incapable of being directly pictured, being merely a system of concepts. But these concepts serve the purpose of bringing a multiplicity of real or imaginary sensory experiences into connection in the mind. To 'visualise' a theory, or bring it home to one's mind, therefore means to give a representation to that abundance of experiences for which the theory supplies the schematic arrangement. In the present case we have to ask ourselves how we can represent that relation of solid bodies with respect to their reciprocal disposition (contact) which corresponds to the theory of a finite universe. There is really nothing new in what I have to say about this; but innumerable questions addressed to me prove that the requirements of those who thirst for knowledge of these matters have not yet been completely satisfied. So, will the initiated please pardon me, if part of what I shall bring forward has long been known?"
Zeus: What you are implying, with this quote from Einstein, is that another name for 'bringing a multiplicity of real or imaginary sensory experiences into connection in the mind" in an order-giving manner is to 'form a story', that the geometrical-physical theory which we are talking about, is in other words, a self-consistent, meaningful 'story'.
Emile: Yes, the 'relativistic' base for reason, an inclusionary base for reason which transcends exclusionary rationalism, must include the observer, because as soon as the observer extracts himself from what he is viewing, he takes his own subjectivity 'out of the game' and freezes it, since if we focus our debate on what he sees 'out there', we cannot at the same time debate the subjectivity he is coming from. Here we come upon the same container-content-coevolution geometry between the story-container and 'rational-content' which we have been discussing.
To avoid excluding our subjectivity from consideration within the inquiry, we must expose to our reasoning, both what we are looking out at, and what our purpose is, as well, and since our life story is what engenders our subjectivity, we must reason on the basis of our 'story', and since our 'story' is bound up in the story of our cultural traditions and our ancestors, we come back around to a relational-over-rational reasoning such as that employed by the aboriginal cultures. The alternative to reasoning in the rational terms of an infinite space and absolute 'things in their own right' is to visualize things (content) in terms of their relationship (reciprocal disposition etc.) with their finite containing space (container). This visualization emanates from the bringing together of our experiences in a self-consistent manner, ... i.e. into a story which gives simultaneous meaning to both the container and its contents, ... a story of container-content-coevolution.
Zeus: I think we are making some progress here, ... or at least, I think I am making some progress. I can now see the tradeoffs rather clearly between the absolutist 'rational' way of thinking and our visualization of space-time or 'story' way of thinking, and the reasoning in support of why we must put the relativistic or relational 'immersed story' view in the primacy over the 'voyeur' rational view, since the rational view is limited to the 'what is' and embodies no sense at all of the 'should be' or 'purpose'. But it's not as clear to me, in terms of practical examples, how 'things gang awry', ... how the 'twenty pound theorem built upon ten pound axioms' gets us into trouble in our society.
Emile: The picture is really quite simple. By sticking to the non-relativistic, rational, 'voyeur' inquiry into reality, which in turn keeps our own subjectivity 'out of the play' of the inquiry, we protect the 'container' side of things from having to figure in the inquiry, or to participate in 'repairs', and force explanations to come solely in terms of the 'contents', ... from the 'things out there' and their properties and their behaviors. In this non-relativistic mode of inquiry, only the 'contents' can evolve, and the relativistic notion of container-content-coevolution collapses; ... as Nietzsche says, 'the belief in purpose collapses with the belief in cause'. Had Einstein wordsmithed this, he might have said, 'the belief in 'what is' (scientific rationality) collapses with the belief in 'what should be' (cosmic religious experience). In more general terms, 'purpose' emerges from the 'story' within which the rational-causal view is immersed. The story view is an inclusionary view of the coevolutionary history of the container and contents, and since the rational view sees the contents as standalone 'things in their own right', the two views are incompatible, ... the story view being able to contain the rational view, but the rational view being too low-dimensional to contain the story view. In terms of inclusionary logic, exclusionary logic is the special case where there is no overlap between the container and its contents (i.e. no coevolutionary inductance).
Since our culture persists in putting the rational (non-relativistic) in a primacy over the relational (relavistic) we can run into the 'twenty pound theorem based on ten pound axiom' problem both in terms of philosophical conflict and in actual practice. Philosophically, as Taiaiake Alfred's 'indigenous manifesto' makes clear, the aboriginal culture cannot 'become an item of content' within the western cultural 'container' since the euclidian space, judgemental view of the west is a special, limited case of the curved space, inclusionary view of the aboriginals, and, in both a topological and practical sense,one cannot fit the whole family into one of its particular members.
This issue does not have to do with going back to primitive ways, nor to the particular ills of the old or present aboriginal culture; ... it has most to do with shifting to traditions which are not prone to the 'twenty-pound theorem built on ten pound axioms' exposures.
We can look at an 'archetypal' exposure of the 'twenty pound theorem from ten pound axiom' type in the domain of 'mental health', and this is where the geometric notion of 'auto-lobotomizing domination' comes in, which seems, in different renderings, to pervade business and politics as well.
If we start from the container-content-coevolution view and approach to inquiry and regulation, we would say that 'behavior problems' emerge from the relational interplay between the culture and the individual. This relativistic, coevolutional view would lead to the need to navigate in such a way as to induce greater harmonic interplay between the container and its content; i.e. to amplify the whole-and-part harmony between the community and the individual, or bring them out of their dissonant relationship back into 'co-resonance'.
If we start from the voyeur view which looks for the 'cause' of the problem 'out there' and keeps the subjectivity of the observer (who represents the container; i.e. the community) out of play in the inquiry, ... we effectively accept and 'freeze' the implicit 'normality' of the non-relativistic reference plane from which we look out at the problem. In other words, we mentally 'detach' the contents and suppress the evolution of the container by this voyeur viewing.
In practice, we do this by examining the properties and behaviors of the 'contents' with respect to statistical 'norms'. If everyone was doing crazy things and dancing nude in the streets etc., this would constitute the norm and those who did not indulge would be deemed, by this statistical norm approach, to be 'abnormal'. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the 'DSM'), lists several hundred 'abnormalities' which are 'abnormal' with respect to statistical norms. The process of 'making a diagnosis' in the field of behavior, then, constitutes the viewing of the individual as being a thing in its own right, and forgetting or 'discarding' of the co-evolutionary 'interference patterns' between container and content, ... that is, between the community and its constituents (which are, in reality, a unity).
Zeus: ... Wait a minute Emile, ... psychologists almost always take into account the historical and environmental circumstances which may have provoked the emergence of the abnormal behavior.
Emile: True, but there is an important choice of assumptions being made here. As soon as we say that the 'patient has a problem' we have opted for the rational-over-relational approach. The next step is to ask 'why does the patient have the problem?' and this is clearly the voyeur view where the observer, as the 'subjective eyes' of the 'normal' container, does not throw the behaviors of the container into the inquiry pot as well. The mission is no longer to consider how the dissonance is co-sourced by container and content, but simply to discover how the content 'broke' and became defective. Except in rare instances, the curing of the behavioral problem will be dealt with in terms of treatment prescribed solely for the patient and not for the community. This means that conditions in the container which have played a role in inducing the abnormal behavior will likely persist. The situation in the container may even deteriorate as a result of this approach. For example, if persons are given drugs for anxiety due to stress coming from their work environment, and are forced to leave work or deliver degraded performance due to being treated with drugs, an intensified stress may be passed on to others, so that further abnormal behaviors are induced by the container. In response to your question, then, ... the involvement of the 'container' is considered only in determining the diagnosis and appropriate treatment for the patient, and treatment is rarely prescribed for the 'container' at the same time.
Zeus: I see what you mean. This one-sided view puts all the onus on the 'contents' for a solution, so that means more chlorpromazine, more prozac, more ritalin, and a container which gets progressively more demanding on its contents, since its proclivity for inducing abnormality is catered to, instead of being dealt with. And at the same time, the statistical assessment of behavioral normality will hide the fact that many 'test normal' only because they are drugged to the point that they can ignore the pressure fields from the container. This tends to keep the pressure on those who 'break' until the whole population is on drugs.
Emile: Exactly, ... examples of this 'twenty pound theorem from ten pound axioms' dysfunction, of non-relativistic inquiry, are given in books such as Peter Breggin's 'Toxic Psychiatry' and in he and his wife's book 'The War Against Children of Color'. These books speak about what happens as the notion that 'contents' are the sole source of problem behaviors, rather than coevolutionary effects which include the inducing fields in the container, are taken to the extreme. For example;
"In 1992, Dr. Peter Breggin and Ginger Ross Breggin inspired a national campaign against the proposed federal "Violence Initiative," which was aimed at identifying inner-city children with alleged defects that were said to make them more violent when they reach adulthood. Many of the research plans, which are still in operation, involve searching for a "violence gene," finding "biochemical imbalances," and intervening in the lives of schoolchildren with psychiatric drugs. The Breggins describe this broad network of private and public programs--funded by the pharmaceutical industry as well as tax dollars. They include ongoing studies requiring young subjects to undergo frightening and dangerous spinal taps in the single-minded quest for a genetic or biological answer to the rising crime rate. "
If the container takes itself out of the inquiry (i.e. if the observer as the 'subjective eyes' of the container takes himself out of the inquiry), the effort expended on 'purifying the contents' puts intensifying pressure on the 'contents'. Since it is a minority of the contents which are being identified as 'defective', (rationality, being exclusionary, cannot deal with the notion of 'co-defectiveness') out of the context of any inductive pressures coming from the container, this approach is a 'shoot first, ask questions later approach' (identify the 'defect' first, and then ask about container complicity). This type of inquiry may lead to rising conflict between container and contents and since the container is consistently exempted from problem inquiry, a vicious cycle may ensue.
Zeus: Yes, I can see how a culture can suppress its own evolution by splitting apart container and contents and regarding all problems as being 'caused' by its contents, rather than emerging from coevolutionary effects between container and contents, ... the notion of 'auto-lobotomizing domination' is becoming more clear all the time. While the system of mechanical control hierarchies already dominate in the world, ... it seems as if the lobotomization process is continuing to deepen. The one-sided mergers, acquisitions and downsizings in business, where the workforce is being monetarily 'lobotomized' as a collective, by giving those in 'hatchet' jobs bonuses to make them lose interest in their anxieties and those being eliminated being given 'packages' to make them lose interest in complaining about how they were treated by the system, is effectively dissolving the co-evolutionary relationship between workforce 'content' and organizational 'container'. This clears the way for the domination of the current 'imperialist' container culture, which is conceding almost nothing to worker preferences for how the containing environment should work.
Emile: This focus on manipulating the 'contents' and ignoring the 'container' emanates directly from the non-coevolving 'sum-of-parts' mechanical assumptions embraced by our western culture; i.e. the assumption that space is euclidian and time is linear, ... that 'things' are 'things' in their own right, and that rationality based on exclusionary logic can be put in a primacy over relational understanding. Our culture has not yet reacted to the message of relativity, or quantum physics which tell us that our 'container-story' must give meaning to 'contents' and that rational intelligence must be subordinated to relational intelligence, or 'story-forming'. In other words, we continue to ignore the Goedel's theorem exposure of being guided by twenty pound theorems based on ten pound axioms.
Zeus: What I hear you saying is that, because of our western tradition of believing in the absolute knowledge of 'good' and 'evil' and of 'true' and 'false', we continue to play the 'mechanical game' and ignore the role of our container in emergent dysfunction, a container which persists in employing mechanical perception and inquiry which we now know to be 'incomplete' ... which holds the contents to be fully and solely responsible for dissonant behaviors, ... we continue to allow our business systems to dissolve coevolutionary relationships with their workers, seeing workers 'in their own right' out of context of inductive stress from the containing organization, and manipulating employees alone to resolve business problems and achieve business objectives (using people as means, seeing wealth as ends), ... we continue to allow our global financial systems to dissolve coevolutionary relationships with developing nations, seeing developing nations 'in their own right' and manipulating them alone to resolve global financial problems and achieve global financial objectives.
Emile: Yes, we look for answers to what is not working well in our society, to the contents of the society, and we cease to question the complicity of the societal container. This dissolves the natural container-content-coevolution, and leads to a program of 'purification' of the contents, ... purification which is largely by lobotomization, since we are 'civilized' people. Not only are we seeking to isolate the 'violence gene' in its own right so that we might eliminate it, ... and the mentally ill in their own right so that we might chemically lobotomize them with drugs (an increasingly busy task since more and more lobotomies are required as the container tightens its squeeze), .... and the 'anti-westerners' in their own right, so that we might financially lobotize them. In this setting, programs of purification of content, out of the context of container-content-coevolution, are becoming increasingly popular.
Zeus: I know what you mean. There is much rumbling about purification programs on the web, and about programs for purifying the purificationists. Each side seems to paint an extremist picture of the other, but its hard to avoid the feeling that the notion of 'purification' of the contents of our society, by some means or other, is enjoying a rising popularity. For example, new ager Barbara Marx-Hubbard, gets a lot of press on her statements about population control, and continues to be a keynote speaker at international conferences on social transformation, such as the '2000 International Conference on Science and Consciousness', in Albuquerque in April 28 - May 3, 2000, ... where she is billed as 'futurist, visionary, author, US Vice Presidential nominee, founder of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution.
Hubbard's purificationist detractors note that she was also a keynote speaker at Mikhail Gorbachev's State of the World forum in San Francisco, in 1996, where she had called for "substantial reductions in the population." Society, she said at the Gorbachev forum, "cannot afford ... from an environmental standpoint, or from the standpoint of tearing apart of the social fabric -- the economic growth that would be necessary to promote jobs for all in the conventional sense, and the inequalities which have come to accompany that growth." In her book, "The Book of Co-Creation," she writes "out of the full spectrum of human personality, one- fourth is elected to transcend. ... One -fourth is destructive (and) they are destructive seeds. In the past they were permitted to die a 'natural death.' ... Now, as we approach the quantum shift from the creature-human to the co-creative human -- the human who is an inheritor of God-like powers -- the destructive one-fourth must be eliminated from the social body. ... Fortunately, you are not responsible for this act. We are. We are in charge of God's selection process for Planet Earth. He selects, we destroy. We are riders of the pale horse, Death." (Revelation 6:8)
Emile: As Vygotsky said, we can know her words and the thought she is expressing, but we cannot know the intent behind her uttering them. One hopes that it is not as rationalist-supremacist as it sounds. Her membership in the Bilderberg and various 'brain trusts' does give cause for reflection, since there is a popular view in our culture that we must cultivate rational intelligence and put those with the greatest rational minds into societal positions of power and control, irrespective of their relational intelligence, and their ability to cultivate harmonic co-evolution amongst diverse types of people (the social container) and the environmental container. Of course, this would amount to 'more of the same', ... an intensification of the 'twenty-pound-theorem- from-ten-pound-axiom' dysfunction-producing 'rational-over-relational' perception and inquiry approach.
Zeus: Like you, I hope that we can move away from this rational, homocentric notion that WE KNOW what must be done, whether it be to finish consuming the earth and colonize other planets or selectively seek out the 'defective seeds' in our population and proceed to decimate our population, or whatever, ... this twenty-pound confidence gives me a right creepy and unnatural feeling. It seems hard to avoid the conclusion that the most serious of our current problems have been engendered by a rationality which has looked solely at content, ... at 'things' in their own right, out of the context of their co-evolution with their container. Those in power, ... the 'subjective eyes' of the social container, if you will, can no longer afford to leave their own subjectivity, their own 'story', out of the issues 'out there' in front of them which they have traditionally perceived in voyeur mode.
Emile: It's not going to be easy, ... many of those calling for social transformation claim to know explicitly what is 'good' and what is 'bad' in our society and are anxious to garner the power to impose new control structures to selectively cultivate the 'good' and suppress the 'bad'. This is still a 'contents in their own right', judgemental point of view. At the same time, many religious traditionalists, seeing fingers pointing at them, are identifying the agents of social transformation as the embodiment of evil, ... the Mephistophelian agents of chaos and darkness. This is also a 'contents in their own right', judgemental point of view. To top that off, our educational system continues to cultivate the rational-over-relational, and to breed new leaders in business and politics who may be gifted rationalists but who are more frequently than ever being seen as 'humilityless twits', whose voyeur eyes can see only their content-based goals, the rational 'what is', and who have little time for the evolutionary stories which immerse those contents and give them purpose and meaning.
It seems that almost everyone is feeling uncomfortable with the directions that our business and political control hierarchies are taking, as the 'haves' and 'have-nots' gap, ... or the 'users' and 'used' gap as some call it, ... continues to grow. In phase with the growth of this gap, those who find themselves rising in the hierarchies which sustain these rational-over-relational directions are distracted from their anxieties over what is going on, by the rising incomes they receive and the recreations this affords them. In many cases, they are determining their own distractional income 'treatment'. Meanwhile, those who run afoul of the system and are cast aside have little power to change things.
Zeus: It seems that fewer and fewer people have 'traction' with respect to reviving 'container-content-coevolution', and that 'auto-lobotomizing domination' of our techno-rational containing structures is indeed a reality which we are going to have to come to grips with or suffer the consequences, ... consequences which appear particularly dark for our forward generations.
Emile: It seems also, that this will not be a job for the faint of heart, and that we are truly in need of new leadership of the 'warriors for transformation' type, who put natural purpose and meaningful 'story' into the primacy over issues of 'what is'.
Zeus: It has become apparent that what the white man has done to the red, he is also doing to himself, and that we also need a 'manifesto' for societal transformation; ... to actively undermine the intellectual premises of this 'auto-lobotomizing cultural domination', ..., to cease cooperating with it, and to resist the injustice which it is delivering.
Emile: Whatever happens, it's going to be 'our story', written in, or with, our blood.
* * *
Dallas, August 11, 1999
Letter to the Editor
John L. Casti,
Executive Editor Complexity,
1399 Hyde Park Road,
Santa Fe, NM, 87501
August 11, 1999
Is Evolutionary Computing Evolving?
In the essay 'Notes on the Origin of Evolutionary Computing' by Moshe Sipper (Complexity, Vol 4, No. 5, May/June, 1999), Sipper avers his surprise at the continuing relevance of Darwin's 140 year old 'Origin of the Species', yet notes the pragmatic goals of evolutionary computing which allow it to settle on a 'simplified simulacrum'. The issue of how we see the role of 'purpose' in evolution would seem, once again, to raise its ugly head.
As 'a prominent offshoot of Darwinian evolution', evolutionary computing seems to be capturing an essential trait of our modern scientific culture, ... the attempt to understand life from the outside, as a homocentric voyeur or 'parasite of the visible', detached from one's own continuing 'story'. In the homo-centric voyeur mode of inquiry, the innate 'self-referentiality' of evolution is either lost in the linear time-based 'evolutionary trees' or invoked as a circle on a screen in front of you, making it hard for you to catch the 'scent' of your ancestors running ahead of you, in the air you are breathing. In the alternative 'immersed' or 'eco-centric' visualizing of evolution, however, we 'are' the biospheric community (container) which we (the contents) are reaching out to embrace.
This 'immersed' mode of perception and inquiry, where one 'rides' the expanding wavefront of time (rides a photon) provides a relativistic view. It is a mode of perceiving which Einstein claims was key to his discovery of relativity, and without which he would have been unable to discover relativity. When one 'sits' on time itself, one goes inside of one's own story, and one's inquiry shifts from questions of 'how do things evolve' to questions of 'how do I see things evolving?' as in the case of Einstein's people on rocketships, watching and comparing fore-and-aft clocks.
On the basis of Darwin's statements such as "There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers , having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one;", one can surmise that Darwin's inquiry was in the 'immersed perspective' as opposed to the 'voyeur' mode employed by 'evolutionary computing'. In fact, Goedel's theorem would seem to be a barrier to achieving 'self-referential' simulations which 'look in on themselves', suggesting that the evolutionary computing community may be 'defaulting' their own perceptual viewing of evolution to comply with the limited (limiting) 'perspective' of the computer, rather than using the computer as a tool to support their natural and evolved 'immersed' perceptual capability which is innately self-referential. Sipper's 'recasting' of passages from Darwin 'within the modern evolutionary computation framework', might therefore involve the infusing of unseen (because not looked for) 'non-relativistic' distortions in the translation.
Relativity comes into play here in the sense that while Darwin's 'how are we evolving?' inquiry is relative to itself (self-referential) and not dependent on any 'outside' fixed reference or measuring base, evolutionary computing's 'how do things evolve?' inquiry seems to be opting for dependency on the (limiting) nature of the inquiry tools, which sit 'outside' of the inquiry itself, by first approximating the problem (of evolution) so that it will 'fit' the measuring tool. This non-relativistic habitude of first approximating our sensate experience so that it will fit into our limited tools (e.g. logic and causality) seems to plague the whole cultural family as well as individual members such as evolutionary computing. The crisp non-self-referential answers we get from our inquiry into the approximated problem, however, are in no way equivalent to the fuzzy self-referential understanding we glean from our inquiry into the unapproximated problem. As Ian Stewart ('Does God Play Dice?') is wont to say in this regard, "... no Virginia, ... mathematics has no Santa Claus."
A case in point is Darwin's observation in his chapter on 'Instinct', that; "... selection may be applied to the family, as well as to the individual, ...".
If we view this statement of Darwin's, as Sipper seems to, in terms of 'which levels' or 'how many levels' of selection are appropriate, we are going directly to a linear model and quietly jumping over the critical questions of 'relativity' and 'self-referentiality'. On the other hand, if we stick to our real life experience as we view this statement of Darwin's, we would see the individual and family as having a 'coevolutionary' relationship, ... a situation which requires 'inclusive' or 'fuzzy' logic since the individual 'IS' the family (as a water molecule is to its river, as the quantum physicist Erich Jantsch is wont to say) and the family 'IS' the individual (as the river is to its ensemble of water molecules).
Since this real-life geometry (topology) contravenes the 'law of contradiction', and takes us outside of the 'rational' domain of logic and causality, into the domain of non-rational 'curved space' and self-referentiality, ... it is incompatible with the 'voyeur' proclivities of evolutionary computing. Conversely, the non-relativistic ground of evolutionary computing, as described by Sipper, would seem to be 'toxic' (non-nurturing or sterile) to the 'container-content-coevolutional' realities of lived evolution. In this sense, we could say that the evolutionary computing approach reduces the essential underpinnings of evolution to machinery, and simulates 'high level accounts' of evolution upon a mechanical base, a robo-evolutionary approach lacking the natural and aesthetic 'grandeur' inherent in the self-referential view of life, ... in fact, the selfsame aesthetics-excising approach which our western culture is accused of elevating to default status.
So one observation which can be made, relative to the evolution of evolutionary computing seen as "a prominent offshoot of Darwinian evolution", is that its continuing evolution will be shaped by the 'pull of purpose' which 'selects' either on the basis of (a) tool tractability and results patronage, or (b) the meaningfulness of results endowed by our continuing evolutionary 'story'.
In other words, in considering the evolution of evolutionary computing (and our society in general), there is a question as to the degree to which the pull of purpose emanates from (a) the 'voyeur inquirer' and his homo-centric judgements with respect to tools and patronage, ....or from (b) 'immersed inquiry' and its eco-centric, self-referential mission in which the 'contents' seek to deepen their understanding of the 'container' in, and of which, they are both constituents and change agents. While (a) is referenced to the subjectivity of the 'inquirer' and therefore non-relativistic, ... (b) avoids a fixed subjective reference by employing the self-referential approach which simultaneously redefines both the subject and object of inquiry.
If we choose to go with (a) and its subjective judgement of the appropriateness of 'tools' and patronage, we apparently do not have to worry about the type of situation which Darwin described as an 'insuperable difficulty' in models which apply selection only to the individual and not to the family. The ignoring of this difficulty is indicated by Sipper's observation; "This issue [of multiple sources of selection] has been given little attention within the evolutionary- computation domain, with selection performed predominantly at the individual level." In the real life situations described by Darwin in this context, where species produce both fertile and sterile offspring which are distinctive in their behaviors and corporeal properties, both of which clearly 'evolve', ... selection operating exclusively on the offspring of the individual cannot be used as the 'mechanism' for evolution. Or, at least, any attempt to explain the evolution of lineages which produce no offspring, using a model wherein selection operates solely on the individual's offspring, would fall into the Goedellian category of 'building twenty pound theorems from ten pound axioms'.
This is one of those observational 'details' which may not make any difference to the purchasers of evolutionary computing results, ... but which makes a huge difference to the understanding of evolution. In fact, it brings to mind one of Einstein's three rules of scientific inquiry, "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity".
Homing in a little deeper on this 'difficulty', ... while the sterile phenotypes cannot 'complete the circuit' of evolutionary influence via offspring, ... and since behaviors (instincts etc.) also evolve, the behavioral 'circuit' continues to provide an avenue of influence at the level of the individual. The participation of the sterile phenotypes in the family and the family behavior anomalies which this induces, will also impact the evolutionary prospects of the family (and the lineage of sterile offspring within the family). As Darwin pointed out, behavioral modifications quickly translate, over evolutionary time, into corporeal modifications, ... the bird who discovers how to open shellfish opens up a lineage of birds with beaks most appropriate to opening shellfish (as was the case when interior-mainland birds got marooned on the Galapagos archipelago).
The issue which emerges here is not simply one of 'which levels' selection operates at, ... it is an issue of space-time perception and topological-relational dynamics. The notion of 'levels' (Darwin did not use the term 'level') tends to be a 'flatspace' or 'Euclidian' (voyeur) notion which detaches the observer from the observed and places him outside of the system he is observing. An alternative space-time view, is the 'photon-riding', relativistic, or 'immersed' view in which the 'family' is seen as the 'container' for the individual, in the same geometric-topologic way that the 'atmosphere' is the 'container' for the oceanosphere. If 'I' (as the observer) am riding an ocean wave, ... I cannot neglect the co-evolutionary relationship between wind and sea, ... container and content. They are really just different aspects of the same system and for convenience we detach them by labelling them with explicit names; i.e. 'atmosphere' and 'oceanosphere' ('family' and 'individual'). Their apparent independence, granted them by the Euclidian abstraction of 'things exist or they do not, and all else is empty and void', crowned by the thing-labelling conventions of language, does not go so far as to free them from container-content-coevolution influences.
This brings us back around to the 'tractability' of mathematical models and their influence on scientific thought and the influence of scientific thought on human evolution and the influence of human evolution on biospheric evolution etc. If we opt for linear models which ignore 'container-content-coevolution' effects then this influences our understanding of evolution, and our understanding of evolution influences our human evolution (e.g. via such oxymoronic practices as 'genetic engineering') and our human evolution influences the evolution of our biosphere (e.g. the properties of the atmosphere) and the evolution of the biosphere influences human evolution, and so on.
Henri Poincare, in speaking to this issue of space-time 'models', observes that "Space is another framework we impose on the world". It is imposed neither by logic nor by experience, but by convention ("... the space revealed to us by our senses is absolutely different from the space of geometry."), ... "One geometry cannot be more true than another; it can only be more convenient. Now, Euclidian geometry is, and will remain, the most convenient: 1st, because it is the simplest, and it not so only because of our mental habits or because of the kind of direct intuition that we have of Euclidian space; it is the simplest in itself, just as a polynomial of the first degree is simpler than a polylnomial of the second degree; 2nd, because it sufficiently agrees with the properties of natural solids, those bodies which we can compare and measure by means of our senses." That 'sufficient agreement' and 'simplicity in itself' are not a sufficient basis for arguing the correctness of the results of our models, is also clearly spoken to by Poincare; ... "For here the mind may affirm because it lays down its own laws; but let us clearly understand that while these laws are imposed on 'our' science, which otherwise could not exist, they are not imposed on Nature."
Arbitrarily imposing discrete boundaries between 'things' (e.g. between 'family' and 'individual', 'atmosphere' and 'lithosphere'), is one of those system-approximating acts which is necessitated by our wish to exploit the conveniences of the Euclidian, 'thing-and-void' model. However, when we build upon these abstractly manufabricated foundations, we are violating relativity and exposing ourselves to the Goedellian 'building twenty pound theorems from ten pound axioms'. This would seem to be the predicament we put ourselves in with the interpretation of Darwin's remark, "... selection may be applied to the family, as well as to the individual" in the Euclidian terms of 'levels' ('things which exist in their own right', and comply with the law of non-contradiction).
There are other notions of space which may be 'less convenient' in some respects, but which have less exposure to Goedellian pitfalls. For example, the game of pool involves this same 'container-content-coevolution' as in evolution but implicitly involves a non-euclidian notion of space. Here one can think in terms of the evolution of a game of pool with its two families (high balls and low balls) seen as ensembles of individuals. The behaviors of the individuals give rise to changes in their own 'opportunities' (i.e. how they change the ball configuration in moving towards their purpose (getting themselves and their family into the pockets) changes their forward opportunity AND, simultaneously, the opportunity of their family (they can 'open up' the game for their family or they can 'close down' or 'snooker' the game for their family). 'We make our own opportunities', ..."There's no use in running if you're on the wrong road.", ... "Masturbation ('beating yourself' by sinking the eight ball out of sequence')" are all self-referential phrases used in the game of pool, which imply 'container-content-coevolution' (family-individual-coevolution).
The notion of 'container-content-coevolution' is innately self-referential and relativistic. It invokes a notion of space which has no 'outside' for the observer to sit in and use as a reference base for measuring dimensions and the passage of time. When you play the game of pool, you ARE the ball you play and your purpose is to lead your family of balls to the promised land. You are conscious that each move you make involves the simultaneous altering of 'reciprocal disposition' which will effect your evolutionary 'opportunity'. In other words, each move you make simultaneously alters the opportunities of the individuals, including yourself, and the families, ... regardless of their pre-move state of 'fitness' relative to the other individuals. The fact that you are interfering with yourself is exemplified by your ability, for example, to shoot a four-bank shot come up from behind yourself going in the same direction as you started off. This is the same type of self-interference which is exemplified when living on the earth and being able to sail around the earth and bump into the same garbage that you jettisoned a while ago (or breathing in the pollutants you exhaled a while back).
The implied space of a game of pool resembles non-euclidian 'spherical space'. For example, in the four-bank shot, you can shoot into the side of one of the corners at 45 degrees and then hit the other side of the same corner at 45 degrees and then come out and across to the opposite corner and do the same thing, passing through the point you originally started out from, going in the same direction. If one views this in terms of mirror image 'virtual tables' which allow the ball to continue on in a straight line (into the mirror image), with each virtual table allowing a shift of 90 degrees, then the four bank shot goes through 360 degrees as if the ball were rolling on a spherical surface, ... a finite, unbounded surface, which satisfies the notion of 'relativity' where there is no dependency on fixed frames of reference, and things and configurations can only be referenced to themselves (self-referentiality at the basic level of space-time).
Thus, the implied space in the game of pool provides an 'appropriate', ... or should we say 'convenient' model, ... for phenomena which involve 'container-content-coevolution' wherein newly evolved states have been relativistically 'bootstrapped' off of themselves. And since we choose our notions of space 'for convenience', there is no reason not to choose those notions which fit "the space revealed to us by our senses" in our experiencing of particular phenomena. Clearly, Euclidian space, and its corollary of 'linear time' (forced by defining the contents out of the context of time), while convenient for mechanical modelling, blinds us with 'twenty pound theorems from ten pound axioms' when applied to self-referential phenomena which abound in our sensory perceiving of life. The indigenous peoples of North America recognized this model-induced blindspot in the western white man in the early days of his colonizing of America, ... invoking relativistic, spherical space based metaphors such as;
"So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood that unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself."
The powerful appeal of the Euclidian space model and its convenience for mechanical modes of understanding, design and regulation (control hierarchies),... its convenience for exploiting the 'what is' out of the context of the 'what should be', ... which overrode the evolutionary story based values of the indigenous peoples, has clearly played a key role in the evolution of human behaviors which has also been effecting corporeal properties (health) and future evolutionary opportunity (quality of living space). This 'runaway feedback' centering on 'rational intelligence' (in a primacy over 'relational intelligence') has kept us busy manufabricating twenty pound non-relativistic theorems from ten pound Euclidian axioms. Evolutionary computing applications are presumably continuing to help fill the substantial market demand for these items.
The way out of the homocentric death-spiral, would seem to be to heighten our awareness of the role of purpose in evolution, and the fact that in order to be in accord with relativity, we must tune-in to the purpose which is implicit in our evolutionary history, ... the story of who we are and who we might become --- in a 'whole-and-part' harmony sense, ... and let it give meaning and purpose to the 'what is', rather than have that meaning and purpose come from detached 'voyeur' views of reality wherein we are prone to becoming 'parasites of the visible' and devourers of our own children and their future. The above remarks in this regard, attributed to the indians of the Pacific Northwest in their negotations with the US government, represent a philosophy which indigenous leaders such as Taiaiake Alfred ('Peace, Power, Righteousness: an indigenous manifesto) are trying to rekindle, though the Euclidian underpinning has garnered a strong foothold amongst the indigenous people as well.
The simplification (linearization) of Darwin's formulations, such as the practice in evolutionary computing, of applying selection solely at the individual level, seems to allow one to 'see farther rather than deeper'. As Newton said, 'Standing on the shoulders of giants', ... allows one to see 'farther', ... to see different things, ... convenient things, ... but not to see things differently as the 'giants' clearly were able to do. Kepler's formulations, such as his suggestion that the simultaneous harmony of the 'family' of planets was in a primacy over the harmony of the individual planets, a proposition with profound, relativistic implications, was never touched by the linear methods of Newton, which operated well 'inside' of Kepler's story. Kepler's proposition involved, in fact, the same geometry issue of 'container-content-coevolution' which we have been discussing in the context of 'family and individual'.
In other words, ... most of science operates well 'within' the stories of discovery of 'relational' scientists such as Kepler and Darwin and Einstein, ... whose theories, rather than emanating from reasoning based on the behaviors of the parts, ... derived from 'geometrical-physical theorizing', as it was termed by Einstein, ... a relativistic way of looking at things without which Einstein claims it would have been impossible for him to discover relativity; i.e. "First of all, an observation of epistemological nature. A geometrical-physical theory as such is incapable of being directly pictured, being merely a system of concepts. But these concepts serve the purpose of bringing a multiplicity of real or imaginary sensory experiences into connection in the mind. To 'visualise' a theory, or bring it home to one's mind, therefore means to give a representation to that abundance of experiences for which the theory supplies the schematic arrangement. In the present case we have to ask ourselves how we can represent that relation of solid bodies with respect to their reciprocal disposition (contact) which corresponds to the theory of a finite universe."
Clearly, this 'relational' reasoning goes beyond the 'behavior of things' and takes into consideration (i.e. does not discard) relational interplay between the 'container' and its 'contents' (things). The absoluteness of the notion of 'things' and their sole, determinatory role in physical phenomena, artificially borrowed from the notion of Euclidian space with its binary states of 'thing' and 'void', begins to blur here, as both the material contents (things) and their reciprocal disposition (ordering in finite space) impact the evolution of the system. As Einstein says, "space is endowed with physical qualities"... and ... "space is a participant in physical phenomena".
"Space is a participant in physical phenomena", seen in the context of evolution and relativistic curved space, suggests a folding back of an individual's behavior, through the medium of his finite container and the opportunity he does or does not cultivate, which bears on his future physical welfare and evolution and on his family's. "You make your own opportunities, as they say" and your future prospects change SIMULTANEOUSLY with your current behavior, ... just as 'reciprocal disposition' changes simultaneously with individual disposition; i.e. the water molecule and river topology, the individual and family topology, the atmosphere and oceanosphere topology, (which contravenes the law of contradiction of the Euclidian view) seems to be a general feature of evolution; or, better stated in light of Poincare's warning, ... it is convenient to use the finite, unbounded, spherical space assumption, which enables the notion of 'container-content-coevolution' in visualizing the process of evolution from the inside (eco-centrically) and deepening our understanding of our own 'becoming'.
The importance of the simultaneity observable in the motion of family and individual was highlighted by Kepler in Harmonia Mundi, "Furthermore, a great distinction exists between the consonances of the single planets [two body problem, including the sun] which have been unfolded [from the overall harmony] and the consonances of the planets in pairs [three body problem]. For the former cannot exist at the same moment of time, while the latter absolutely can;"
Kepler's point at that time (1618) was that the simultaneous harmony or harmony of 'whole and part' seems to emanate from the 'container' rather the 'content', or any linear combination of the behaviors of the 'parts'. The Einstein-Podalsky-Rosen, 'nonlocal behavior' effect brings this same kind of imagery to us. And just as Kepler put this 'container'-based polyphonic harmony into the primacy over that of the harmony of the parts, the same suggestion is woven into Darwin's 'heavy breathing' ending to 'On the Origin of Species, ...', i.e. "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been initially breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed laws of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
The primacy of the container derives from the fact that while the contents (parts) are explicitly bounded and defined out of the context of time, and thus become enslaved by sequential time, the reciprocal disposition they present, by their existence, becomes an open (unbounded) simultaneously available 'gift' of the container which the container offers back to its contents, or, ... 'breathes back into its contents'. Relativity seems to be another way of saying that the space-time container is the only place 'where the buck stops' on issues of 'where are we coming from' (which deals with the question of 'being' or 'who are we?') and 'where are we going' (which deals with the question of 'becoming'). Since there is no 'outside' to the system, ... we ARE the container, ... though as individuals, only a small part of it, ... it would seem that our embracing of our 'container-content-coevolution responsibility' could bring us back into consistency with our own perceptions.
At any rate, evolution is a continuing story with no beginning and no end, and the deepening of understanding of homo sapiens of this story is not the sole influence on how the story plays out (e.g. the rocks have a voice in this as well, ... just ask a dinosaur about meteors). Nevertheless, I have no desire, rational or/and intuitive, to emulate my own tool, as the evolutionary computer community and our western community seem to be well along the road to doing. And if, instead, I lean on my own 'story' insofar as I have (imperfectly) formed it from my experience, ... it seems 'right' to let it give meaning and purpose to my ongoing story in its continuing encounter with its container. I visualize this in the terms of an expanding sphere-englobing-sphere 'geological layering' of thought (as in Vygotsky, Schacter), the various vintages of subjectivity and objectivity of my experience being accessed simultaneously to inform my behaviors (i.e. 'bootstrapping my way into the future'). I am well aware of the inductive behavioral field coming from my 'container' of culture and community (and its unavoidable 'container-content-coevolution' effect), which is ever competing for primacy in informing my behaviors. I don't know about you, but I have no desire to go 'head on' against this cultural inductance or to just 'turn off' to it. In fact, to do this would be too Euclidian and flatspacey (i.e. too 'rational') and is reminiscent of what happens when you collapse an electromagnetic field too abruptly; i.e. your windings melt down. On the other hand, I have no desire to accede to the pressures of cultural expectation. Perhaps that's why I am letting my story inform me, intuitively, as to how to finish off this note, in spite of the fact that I started it off in a conventional manner, as a rational commentary on a scientific article. It seems now that I was simply using that as a premise to get into what I really wanted to talk about, ... my own 'story', so to speak. Using our non-rational story-container to inform our behavior seems to be the way things work, even if we are not always overt about it, or are unaware of it, or we deny it (our purpose must come from somewhere and rational (scientific) discussion is simply 'what is' stuff which has no purpose of its own).
So when I 'bring the multitude of geological layers of real and imaginary experience into connection in my mind', ... the notions that I 'breathe in' which precipitate into 'story', are, at this particular moment in 'mystory', something like as follows;
"So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood that unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself."
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