From "Helio-Centric" to "Helio-Eccentric"

November 30, 1996

Shaken to its foundations by twentieth century scientific discoveries; i.e. relativity, quantum mechanics, chaos and complexity, science is in the midst of a paradigm shift whose shock wave will likely register higher, on the psycho-social Richter scale, than did the Copernican revolution. The redesign imperative will be nothing like a snake shedding its skin and growing a new one, it will be more akin to changing the nature and role of cellular schemata.

As Thomas Kuhn [1] said of the Copernican Revolution; "Fundamental astronomical concepts had become strands in a far larger fabric of thought, and the nonastronomical strands could be as important as the astronomical in binding the imagination of astronomers. The story of the Copernican Revolution is not, therefore, simply a story of astronomers and the skies."

Kuhn's remarks apply to scientific models in general. Not only are these models woven into the fabric of business, education and religious thinking, we come to accept them, not through a direct understanding, but by a socialization (indoctrination) process imposed upon us when we are very young. As Kuhn points out, the idea that the earth moves seems initially absurd. "Our senses tell us all we know of motion and they indicate no motion for the earth." Rocks, trees, cows and men would be hurled from the earth by the rotational motion and air, clouds and unattached objects would be left behind by the orbital motion. When we jumped straight up in the air, we would land in a different place as the earth moved under our feet. Our observations and our reason work together to prove to us that the earth must be at rest.

These are the natural thoughts of western children, before they are persuaded to abandon their reliance on everyday experience and listen to their educators. Their pedagogic authorities derive "their" teachings from the wisdom of the high priests of science who are capable of unravelling levels of complexity which most of us will never deal directly with in our lifetimes. And so it goes ... the socialization process we all undergo has us abandoning our everyday reasoning and sensibilities in favor of the greater wisdom of our culture. Culture then becomes the base for our view of reality, and we are hard pressed to modify our view of reality out of phase with our culture, since we have built it up without really understanding the detailed argument (the complex astronomical details supporting the helio-centric model is a case in point). While the cultural models more often align with our intuition than not, otherwise they would be unacceptable to the masses, there is always some question as to the limits of their accuracy and completeness.

For the last 2500 years or so in the west, we have used a particular type of model-building based on analytical thought. That is, the models are based on detailed logical reduction of observations and theory, a methodology which was much influenced by Aristotle. But as Wittgenstein and other philosophers have pointed out, logic adds nothing new, it is just a way of organizing the observational and model data. Wittgenstein says [2]; "The propositions of logic are tautologies." "Therefore the propositions of logic say nothing. (They are the analytic propositions)." "All theories that make a proposition of logic appear to have content are false."

Wittgenstein goes on to point out that logic and mathematics are just a "netting" or "grid" to organize the observations of natural science in a convenient way, to give form and inference to natural phenomena in a "behavioral" sense, though the intrinsic nature of the latencies, potentialities or "experience" from whence these observed behaviors springs remains beyond our ken. That is, we use logic and mathematics to develop an informative descriptive grid of the behavior of, for example, matter in a gravitational field. Such logic adds no content on the intrinsic nature of gravity. Likewise, we can build complex logical structure around the "fact" that the sun rises each morning, but this again is all content-free description, it does not "prove" that the sun will rise again tomorrow morning. It is our "experience" gained through our sensibilities and interactions with nature that allow us to validate the rationality of the promised sunrise.

Rationality, as David Bohm [3] has pointed out, goes well beyond logic, and deals with our ability to comprehend the complex order in nature; meaningful, ordered "signal" in nature, going well beyond material-causal transactions, which our mind extracts from the disorder or "noise". Bohm says; "... more generally, a rational law takes the form 'As things are related in a certain idea or concept, so they are related in fact.'" What this does, is open up our full conscious capabilities for the reality modelling exercise.

In summary, in our early socialization process, we are indoctrinated to abandon our everyday experiential view of things in favor of counter-intuitive logical models which, we are assured, have been thoroughly checked and validated by the high priests of science. Some niggling doubts come to mind, however, as we read our history books and note, not only how often science has had to go back to the basic drawing boards as fundamental logical flaws or "incompletenesses" were discovered, but also that there is a competitive and more natural way of modelling reality, which does not get us bogged down in so much detailed "analysis" (an increasingly important point as we go deeper into the information age "flooded with information while thirsting for knowledge").

Part of the problem with analytical modelling methods relates to language and symbology. Wittgenstein focused in on the inadequacy of language and notation in conceptual model-building. Apparently, the power of conscious thought goes well beyond any logical notation we have developed so far. For example, we recognize "order" in an impressionist painting, or in the process of riding a bicycle which we cannot describe in the form of logical language. In the case of the bicycle ride, this is a higher dimensional order (i.e. 10+ dimensions) which is "nonlinear" in nature. That is, it cannot be built up through the addition of many logical statements because it is "far from equilibrium" and no fixed rules will describe it. It is a "non-logical" phenomenon emerging from the creative interference of several variables which demands high dimensional order and continuous "learning" if we are to successfully engage with it.

Logic, as Wittgenstein pointed out, is tautology, and is content-free. If one is going to keep the bicycle upright and on course, one needs to continuously create new content to contend with new reality (from creative interference of the variables) at each moment of time. To restate this for emphasis, --- bicycle-riding, while a real and rational part of our "everyday experience", is non-logical.

While our everyday experience may have gotten us into trouble with respect to astronomical models (it initially suggested the earth didn't move), it seems to explain some phenomena which analytical models can't get to. Henri Poincare suggested that there was no magic in one modelling technique or another, that models were mental abstractions or conveniences for perceiving and dealing with the natural reality around us, and that we were prone to confuse the models with reality. Wittgenstein and Bohm argued the same way. Are we currently investing too much in "logical models" in particular ... and if so, what harm might this be doing?

Before exploring this question, lets discuss an alternative modelling approach to the logical-analytical approach we have been so thoroughly indoctrinated in; i.e., the "bootstrapping" approach. The bootstrap approach sees reality as being a "whole" rather than being built up from parts, as is implicit in the analytical modelling approach. In the "top-down" bootstrap approach, one develops the model by building a web of self-consistencies between different phenomena or "subsystems". Once one has built the web, one can consider any "proposition" and mentally ask if it fits the web or not. If it doesn't harmonize with the web, then it doesn't "make sense". The more complete and extensive the web, the more detailed can be the "validation" process. Thus, bootstrapping never says "this is so", it simply allows one to "plug-in" one's proposition and get either a "reject" response if the proposition is non consistent with the web, or an "accept", if the proposition is consistent.

Now if the web is coarse and limited, many propositions which are correct in overall form but erroneous in their detail may slip through and get a "green light" acceptance indication. As the web becomes larger, it becomes more discriminating and even very subtle inconsistencies in a proposition will be detected and get a "red light and buzzer" of "rejection". That is, bootstrapping builds discriminating power in much the same manner as a hologram builds resolution, and has the appealing feature of holograms that it can still give a generally sound answer in spite of any local flaws or missing pieces in the web. That is, it is resilient to error in its own formulation and it builds discriminating power from the highest system level down (i.e. it focuses its discriminating power on the big issues and where it has to let something go, it lets go on the detail end). This is in contrast to analytical models which are exposed to delivering disastrously erroneous results if just one tiny logical element is in error, out-of-place or missing. A logical error is akin to having a single bit error in a computer program; on the one hand, it may have no noticeable implications whatsoever, on the other hand, it could lead to the collapse of a building or an inadvertent missile launch.

The bootstrapping approach is the method of choice (i.e. the background operating system) of our consciousness. Meanwhile, we in the west have subordinated the bootstrapping approach to analytical modelling for the past 2500 years or so. As Kuhn, Bohm and others have pointed out, once we find success with a modelling approach, a "band-wagon" effect can develop in the realm of scientific ideas which is hard to break. So the Greek "golden age of rationality" ("rationality" seems to be popularly used in the more limited connotation of analytical logic, than its etymology would suggest is warranted) which began with Aristotle in 350 BC heralded an enormous band-wagon effect in scientific thinking. This band wagon saw the subordination if not abandonment of bootstrapping and the embracing of analytical modelling which uses only a subset of our mental capabilities.

In the no-man's land between bootstrapping and analytical modelling, many major problems were left in the lurch, including "upper-end" aspects of astronomy and lower-end aspects of "particle physics". In 1960, however, Geoffrey Chew, to develop a comprehensive theory of strongly interacting particles, (re-) introduced the concept of bootstrapping [4]. Capra explains; "According to this bootstrap philosophy, nature cannot be reduced to fundamental entities, like fundamental building blocks of matter, but has to be understood entirely through self-consistency." " is the culmination of the conception of the material world as an interconnected web of relations that emerged from quantum theory. The bootstrap philosophy not only abandons the idea of fundamental building blocks of matter, but accepts no fundamental entities whatsoever --- no fundamental constants, laws or equations. The universe is seen as a dynamic web of interrelated events. None of the properties of any part of this web is fundamental; they all follow from the properties of the other parts, and the overall consistency of their interrelations determines the structure of the entire web."

Examples of bootstrapping in psychology (e.g. consciousness itself) in pictographic communications, in science (e.g. the Galileo mission to examine Jupiter and its moons) are explored elsewhere on this web page.

It is clear that analytical modelling is all about going from the specific to the general, while bootstrapping goes from the general to the specific. As a lazy person, bootstrapping has much appeal to me, since one does not have to track the exponential growth of knowledge and informational detail in the world to get at the "truth". Not only that, but as one builds up one's "web", it is re-usable and can be continuously extended without a re-build. In the case of analytical models, they are like buildings whose foundations will only support so much weight, and then you have to knock them down and rebuild them with more robust designs. Bootstrapping is like a consciousness which continues to grow in its capability to resolve natural "truth". Analytical models are like clockworks whose precision cannot be improved in an ad hoc, incremental manner.

There appears to be a natural complementarty between problem and modelling approach which relates general-to-specific bootstrapping methods to one class of problem and specific-to-general analytical modelling methods to another class of problem. While the former appears to be particularly well-suited to problems involving patterns of interaction, the latter appears most well-suited to problems involving material-causal transactions.

Thus if I am the tawa-mongwi or Sun Chief in a Hopi Indian tribe, and am asked when is the best day to plant corn, I am going to consider the interplay of many systems (i.e. to "bootstrap") including such systems as the flight of birds, the behavior of ground animals, the budding of perennial plants, the behavior of the sun and moon and so on. For example, I will count the number of moons from the festival of Soyal, when the setting of the sun, as seen from my Kiva, is at the most northerly position on the horizon that it ever reaches (winter solstice), and wait for the day on which historical plantings have met with best results.

Thus, the harmonizing of many interacting systems seems to provide a measure of "timing" which is in the original etymological context of "time" in the sense of "season" and "bringing to fruition". So bootstrapping appears to approve or reject a proposition on the basis of its appropriate (consistent) "timing" or "harmonizing" of various natural lifecycles. For example, the discovery of the cause of malaria (a parasite transported by the Anopheles mosquito), received the bootstrap "green light" because it passed all the "timing" consistency traps of the bootstrapping approach. Once this interference based source of malaria was discovered, analysis could proceed on each of its subsystems fronts. Bootstrapping encourages one to try to interrelate anything to anything else, and a lot of bootstrap breakthoughs appear to come from dreams in which we become legally and creatively "mad" each night.

Analytical modelling, on the other hand, tends to work best on material-causal transactions within a given subsystem. That is, analytical (tautological) modelling could not have come up with the answer to the malaria question by digging deeper into the nature of malaria in the human victim. The root of the problem was inherently associated with creative interference across systems rather than material-causal issues. In the case of the corn planting, as the Copernican revolution illustrates, it will take a lot of analytical-astronomical modelling to come up with the answer to the sowing time question. Once all the lookup tables are in place, this may be largely transparent. Within one system, however; to understand needs and fabricate subsystems for irrigating the crops, harvesting and distribution, analytical models work very well.

In sum, the bootstrapping and analytical modelling approaches can be complementary. There has been a problem, however, in that the analytical approach has been popularly conceived to be fully adequate for the "scientific" solution of all problems. So, while the construction of a super-conducting super-collider may provide us with respectable answers on when to plant corn, bootstrapping may be easier and quicker. And, while bootstrapping may be used to link planetary cycles and human lifecycles so as to predict material-causal transaction, such as winning the lotto or or being run over by a truck, Newtonian analytics may lay such questions to rest with more ease and certainty.

Before we totally blow off astrology, however, it is worthwhile to consider how differently the bootstrapping and analytic modelling approaches have us perceive "time". As Wittgenstein has pointed out, logic is always about generalities and never about specifics. While bootstrapping leads us to the perfectly harmonious "moment" of interaction for the bringing of something to maturity, analytics sees time simply as a generic duration without even so much of a distinguishing qualification as directionality. The analytical adage "time is money" encourages us to view time as a generic currency, an expedient which allows material-causal transactions to occur. Each hour is like any other hour, it can be used for whatever you like and that result can be traded for something else. This is the model for regional commerce which gave birth to the analytical phonetic language we currently use. It broke with the ancient tradition of the specialness or natural lifecycle/harmony of time, a tradition which linked pictographic events with propitious "times" to form pictographic calendars. This tradition was captured in the old testament of the Bible;

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;1

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

Ecclesiastes; or, The Preacher 3:1-8

("Ecclaisiastes", while transcribed in the 3rd century BC is attributed to Solomon, circa 972 BC)

In summary, our western socialization (i.e. "indoctrination") persuades us to take leave of our senses and have "faith" in the models worked out by the high priests of science (with which we are unlikely to become fully fluent in our lifetimes). Since Aristotle, these "scientifically approved" models have been predominantly analytical models. We have been taught that analytical models are ultimately capable of resolving all of the problems of our reality. The "check is in the mail", so to speak.

Today, however, we are finding that logic only goes so far (e.g. Goedel's theorem, 1931) and that another, older modelling approach, "bootstrapping" may refresh our solution-making capabilities in regions which analytical models cannot reach. The trouble is, that analytical thinking is woven into the fabric of our everyday cultural existence, in business, education and religion. Since it took several hundred years for the Copernican Helio-Centric model to supersede (in popular usage) the Ptolemaic model, how long will it take for "bootstrapping" + analytics to supersede our "analytics-only" reality modelling approach? It seems that we have built a great deal of the Christian-Judaic religious tradition on top of this latter modelling. While the Copernican revolution and Darwin's evolutionary theory forced interpretive adjustments to religious and social doctrines, the overall impact appears small relative to the redesign implications on this reality modelling front.

For example, the notions of "good" and "evil", it appears, may have to revert to their pre 500 BC natures of "strange attractors" rather than equilibrium systems, and "God" and "Satan" may have to revert to metamorphosing influences (akin to the Celtic, Egyptian, Amerindian etc. Gods) rather than being viewed as fixed personifications. Fixed rules, such as the ten commandments, will have to be discarded (and not just by other fixed rules; i.e. governmental decree during wartime), or such rules may have to be relegated to "guideline" usage. That is, bootstrapping gives one a view and model beyond the analytic logic of rules and laws. In the case of the former Jugoslavia, bootstrapping would give a very different answer than the analytic models which support dividing the system (i.e. socio-geographic system) into smaller subsystems, endowing each with a rule to "shoot all trespassers".

All of this implied change because of the neglect of a little "helio-eccentricity", a little sun-wobble which suggests that the Sun is NOT the center of our planetary system. The center of our solar system is collaboration --- collaboration between the sun and planets (and the universe beyond) which is a manifestation of a higher dimensional order than can be described with logic. You can't get an analytic model which neglects sun-wobble past the "red reject light" and buzz filter of a good bootstrapping web. Instead, you will hear an ego-less, culture-less web-voice from beyond good-and-evil saying; come back when you've put an arrowhead on your logical time constructs, --- when there's seasonal arrows in your quiver for each specific model you're trying to explain --- come back when you've shed your anal-retentive propensity to trash nature's "imperfections" or eccentricities because they "clutter" your sterile-analytic models --- come back when you can see Me in the "shit" as did Heraclitus when he covered himself with cowdung, Cuchulainn when his face was pushed in the dung by Curoi, Blake when he read Milton, and Carl Jung when he saw Me drop a steeple-crushing turd on his local cathedral. Come back when you understand the meaning of all this and have it incorporated in your models.

Meanwhile, ..... vive l'Helio-Eccentricitees and damn the high priests of science!

...but, lest the echoes of Brennus' laughter once again rattle our eardrums, let's make clear that the "high priests of science" are not real people, ... they are not targets for projecting our aspirations and inadequacies so that we might give them material-causal substance in alien form. The priests are "strange attractors", virtual vortices emerging out of the interconnecting web of culture-modulated ecologies we call "reality".

[1] Kuhn, Thomas S., "The Copernican Revolution", 1957

[2] Wittgenstein, Ludwig, "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus", 1921, 6.1,

[3] Bohm, David, "Wholeness and The Implicate Order", 1980

[4] Capra, Fritjof, "The Turning Point", 1982