The Incredible Incompleteness of Being

Watsonville-Elkhorn California, June 27, 1999

My waking thoughts, here in a trailer on a flower-farm outside of Watsonville California, en route to the ISSS Meeting (International Society of Systems Scientists) at Asilomar, Monterey, ... come in the form of a question, .... in the event that I get into a conversation with participants such as Humberto Maturana, Ralph Abraham, Jamshid Gharajedaghi, Riane Eisler, ... how do I, in fact, convey my 'implicit' view of 'community as complex system'? ... how do I articulate the implicit difference in outlook which leads me to this strange 'minority perspective' on 'Evolution and Complexity', the leitmotif of this year's meeting?

This same implicit perspective, I am convinced, permeated the thoughts of Kepler, Vygotsky, Wittgenstein, Laborit, Laing, Jules Henry, Poincare and Jantsch, not to mention Heraclitus, and they had the credibility-augmenting advantage, in discoursing with others, of being recognized for brilliant achievements in their fields of reasoning, ... yet they were notably unsuccessful in sharing the implicit containing field which gave birth to and constituted a living container for their explicit statements, the most essential aspect of their 'minority view', with their disciplinary and lay contemporaries. And, indeed, this 'implicit-over-explicit' inclusionary, englobing hierarchy view, or 'manner of viewing', is not learned man's abstract fabrication but the gift of nature received by all of nature's children, our access to which seems somehow to be disabled by the imposed, structural-hierarchical reasoning of our western culture.

The essential notion is very simple and very basic, ... it is that all 'explicit things' (tangible structures) whether these be material structures or idea structures ('explicit knowledge'), exist by the grace of their implicit container within which they are engendered and inside of which they 'live' and are ultimately recycled. The explicit is the 'precipitate' of the implicit containing field or space-time energy dynamic. This is not mysticism but the findings of physics and psychology. As Vygotsky has pointed out, our explicit knowledge is the child of the implicit 'geological layering' of our thought-experience, and as Faraday pointed out in the field of electro-magnetics, and Einstein further validated, material structure (of particles, molecules, cells etc.) is the child of its containing evolutionary space-time history.

In order to 'experience' and understand the world we live in, we use 'inclusionary reasoning', envisionable in terms of spheres-englobing-spheres, like the geological layers of the earth and atmosphere, ... the 'bringing into connection in our mind a multitude of real and imaginary experiences' (thought experiments) as Einstein put it. In this same inclusionary sense, ... the receptors in our physiology, which make experiential emotions possible, have been shown by biochemistry, as articulated by, for example, Candace Pert ('Molecules of Emotion'), to be identical in structure to the 'tetrahymena', one of the earliest forms of life. Our evolution, instead of linearly subsuming its prior forms in an exclusionary manner, has instead englobed them in an inclusionary manner. In quantum physics, David Bohm, speaks of the view of matter as material structure in its own right as being fundamentally incomplete, because this view discards the 'thing's associated quantum potential, the evolutionary history of the material 'thing' which gives it meaning relative to the 'unity' aspect of nature, a continuing 'unity' which we tend to take for granted, as a fish takes water for granted.

Thus, one cannot speak 'factually' or share 'explicit knowledge' out of the context of its containing 'implicit field' which gives it meaning with respect to the natural whole, and expect such speaking or sharing of knowledge to be 'complete in itself'. Facts and material structures simply mark the point, established by our attitudes and values, where our investigations cease. In other words, it is our cultural value judgement which allows us to ignore the 'containing field' of evolutionary history, experience, tradition, which gives meaning to all explicit 'things' and 'facts'.

If someone therefore says, 'this meeting or this discussion is for the purpose of understanding complexity', this is already an incomplete and misleading premise, because it is dealing with explicit facts out of the context of their evolutionary history, out of the context of the implicit containing field to which such explicit facts owe their existence. And if we say that so-and-so is an 'expert' in complexity, we compound the error by assigning value to explicit knowledge in itself, out of the context of 'life' and 'experience', and by inference, discounting the value of the knowledge of the complex which is resident in 'lived experience', such as the wisdom of an illiterate populace.

A culture which does not reason in terms of 'inclusion' and the implicit, wherein we bring to bear, simultaneously, ancestral and current experience, accumulated as in the geological layering of the earth, ... but which instead reasons in terms of 'exclusion' and the 'explicit', ... values things in a hierarchical structural sense, ... allows Phi Beta Kappa membership to 'trump' the value of human race membership.

Thinking in terms of structural hierarchies is what the Western acculturated mind SUPPLANTS in exchange for our natural childhood capacity for INCLUSIONAL reasoning (common-sense reasoning). This is why we are experiencing increasing difficulty in accessing our inclusional or 'bootstrapping' reasoning function, which sees all knowledge as 'implicit resources' available for the purposive, creative synthesis of new understandings. This difficulty arises because we westerners, true to our exclusionary, euclidian reasoning tradition, have REPLACED our inclusional reasoning with EXCLUSIONARY reasoning, the basic underpinning of structural hierarchies including the structural control hierarchies which we have made the underpinning of our formal, political, economic and educational organizations, including our research organizations and professional disciplines.

But there is 'another way' and this is to esteem the 'implicit-over-explicit', the 'quantum potential' over the material structure, ... the 'human harmony-inducing tradition' over the 'human structural-fabrication achievement', ... the implicit 'parenting space-time container' over its explicit 'children-contents'. This is the message which comes from exceptional teams, relationships, families, ... this is the message of the Celtic myth of King Arthur and Camelot, ... of 'community' as something which contains and transcends the transient explicitness of its citizens, but re-enfolds their 'implicitness', ... their ontogenetic imprint within the implicit 'field' of community. The process whereby we enrich the implicitness which constitutes our evolutional container is referred to by aboriginals as 'soulmaking', ... a word which is mocked by reductionist science, ... but not by those exceptional scientists whose vision is not constrained to the explicit, but who see, in an inclusionary manner, the primacy of the implicit-over-explicit. Richard Feynman speaks to this fundamental primacy of implicit-over-explicit in nature, as follows;

"A poet once said, "The whole universe is in a glass of wine." We will probably never know in what sense he meant that, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflections in the glass, and our imagination adds the atoms. The glass is a distillation of the earth's rocks, and in its composition we see the secrets of the universe's age, and the evolution of stars. What strange array of chemicals are in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization: all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts--physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on--remember that nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let it give us one more final pleasure: drink it and forget it all! (Richard P. Feynman in "The Feynman Lectures on Physics")

The explicit is the domain of 'being', and most of western inquiry ceases its inquiry right there, focusing on the structural 'contents' of the parenting space-time container and ignoring the larger issue, emanating from Feynman's pregnant question; 'How did they come to be?' ... and his Heraclitean answer, 'all life is fermentation'. This view which restricts understanding to an understanding of 'explicit being' out of the context of its becoming is an incredibly incomplete view. As Feynman says in the above eulogy to the implicit, it is the smallness of our minds which would have as stop at explicit understanding, an understanding which is in terms of exclusionary parts, ignoring the relational harmonies, and he reminds us that in seeking to 'understand' life, we must not 'forget what it is for' .... i.e. to be lived and experienced.

And so it is with the notion of any piece of life, .... such as the pursuit of understanding of complexity. We can go to meetings and take complexity apart and impose our hierarchically structured organizational principles on it, and call this explicit description 'understanding', and call those who are most proficient in taking complexity apart and re-assembling it in this explicit structured manner, 'experts', but this does not speak to the question of purpose, which constitutes the implicit containing 'need-field' which gives meaning to such knowledge. Removed from the context of purpose-given meaning, such knowledge detaches from lived experience.

Here we see the difference between being grounded in 'community' and 'evolution' where such explicit knowledge is no more than a supportive tool to facilitate a more aware navigation of complexity, ... and where the record of a more aware navigation becomes an implicit ontogenetic imprinting on our englobing, parenting space-time flow, ... nurturing the harmonies of the containing whole rather than contributing to dissonances through an unaware navigation.

When we speak about 'evolution and complexity', then, we have the same option to regard our statements in the exclusionary, explicit terms analogous to the 'chemical contents' in a glass of wine, or to regard them in the inclusionary, implicit terms analogous to living purpose. A view which values only the explicit content, the chemical structure of our verbal offering is innately incomplete. As Vygotsky says, in his summarizing of his work on 'Thought and Language';

"We come now to the last step in our analysis of inner planes of verbal thought. Thought is not the superior authority in this process. Thought is not begotten by thought; it is engendered by motivation, i.e., by our desires and needs, our interests and emotions. Behind every thought there is an affective-volitional tendency, which holds the answer to the last 'why' in the analysis of thinking." ... "The word is a direct expression of the historical nature of human consciousness. Consciousness is reflected in a word as the sun in a drop of water. A word relates to consciousness as a living cell relates to a whole organism, as an atom relates to the universe. A word is a microcosm of human consciousness."

This issue of the 'implicit-over-explicit' is crucial to our understanding of 'community as complex system', ... while the implicit is inclusionary and contains the explicit as a special-case child, ... the explicit is the child which ignores or denies its own parentage. This is the feeling I so often get when discussing 'complexity', ... that the discussion seeks to establish 'the truth' in the sense of 'explicit contents', out of the context of evolutionary history which contains not only the issue we are inquiring into, but ourselves as well.

How can there be 'final answers' about the complex issues of life which stand alone and apart from life itself, the implicit container in which we live and die? How can an understanding of life exist 'out there', down the barrel of a biologist's microscope as hypothesized by Edward O. Wilson. Do his Harvard-biologist expert credentials and Pulitzer prizes for scientific writing add validity to his 'explicit-over-implicit' hypothesis, or do they signify, instead, that he has found a way to tickle our Western acculturated sensibilities, our 'herd' instinct which responds to the neatness of explicit hierarchical knowledge structures, .so as to bring on intellectual orgasms out of the context of ontogenetic becoming?

Come to think of it, the notion of looking to 'scientists' or to a scientific conference for an understanding of complexity seems innately exclusionary. An understanding of 'community as complex system' must come through an immersed 'experiencing', ... through feeling oneself to be permeated by the implicit purposive flow of community, ... by quantum field potentials which co-occupy 'thing-space', like the magnetic field co-occupies the space occupied by the magnet, ... field potentials which permeate all explicit structures and tell of their evolutional history. When I take the glass of wine, it's only in an explicit sense that I consume and process it, ... in an implicit sense, it invites me into its 'story', ... 'our story', ... a story of man and matter in which we both have evolutionary roles as constituent-partipants, as our ancestors did earlier on in our ontogenetic 'becoming'-flow, and there, inside the shared space-time of this story we dance together in the unique wholeness of the ever-evolving space-time continuum, discovering new, explicit dance-steps which inclusionarily enrich the containing harmonies of our never-ending story.

This is why, to me, it is of fundamental importance to be coming from 'community', from our purposive story, rather than from science in its own right, in seeking an understanding of complexity. Western science, and its valuing of the 'explicit-over-implicit' has 'colonized' us, as Taiaiake Alfred suggests, with its imperialist structural hierarchies and its multi-scaled notions of 'sovereignty' based on abstract contracts and backed up by force, and we as community must find a way to de-colonize ourselves, ... this must come from a sense of community and a valuing of evolutional history and purpose which sees the explicit in the implicit terms of how it might serve evolutionary purpose.

The ISSS Conference on 'Evolution and Complexity', emanating from western organizational concepts, can be regarded, by its constituent-participants, solely in terms of explicit understanding wherein competing theories will be 'handed off', as a runner in a relay race hands off a baton to his teammate, ... the 'goal' being to promote 'optimizing' debate and refinement. But it can also be regarded in terms of implicit understanding wherein experiences are shared, in the manner of an aboriginal 'healing circle', recognizing that implicit understanding cannot be imposed via structured instruction, as is the cultural practice and ethos of the west, but must emerge experientially, from within. These two 'communications' processes, the western and aboriginal strains, can only co-exist if the implicit is in primacy over the explicit, ... if open sharing and experiential assimilation is in primacy over imposed structural transfers.

Science has, first and foremost for me, been the glass of wine appreciated for the dreams it gives, ... for the stories it draws one into which engender implicit understanding contributory to a more harmonious 'navigation' of complexity. But science, out of the context of natural ontogenetic and community purpose, can be exploited in its own right. And as the adage goes, 'the way you keep the score defines the game', ... so what is it to be? .... do we score our search for an understanding of 'Evolution and Complexity' on the basis of its explicit consistency, out of the context of community aspirations for the growth of harmony (with respect to inclusionary, englobing ontogenies of nature, community and the individual) or do we score such understanding in its own right?

Science in its own right has historically been a loose cannon in the community, ... its evolution has been pulled more by the exploitability of its findings and its individual need-based patronage, than by the context of community purpose of harmonious evolution. Science has taught us that we need not consider the 'implicit container', the community which has engendered science, ... science has instead risen up like a rogue child which would put its own parents into bondage.

What we are missing is a purposive 'container' for science, and what I am looking for from scientific research into 'Evolution and Complexity' is that very admission. We have been colonized and put into bondage by our own abstract child whose hubris, which we have proxied to it, has become such that it asserts that it is in itself more powerful than the natural space-time dynamic which has engendered it. We have become slaves to science who obediently build the hierarchical control structures in which we would have it emprison us.

Taiaiake Alfred's 'Peace, Power, Righteousness: an indigenous manifesto' is all about this story of scientific colonization, and the imperative for decolonization. This, to me, is the geometrical message which must emerge from an understanding of 'Evolution and Complexity', ... a message which speaks to the incredible incompleteness of explicit 'being', when it is taken out of the context of implicit, purposive 'becoming'. The understanding which the scientific community is reaching out to grasp with respect to 'community as complex system' must re-awaken the natural sense of community and being 'part of the whole' in the scientific community itself, ... a sense of community in which one sees oneself as a constituent-participant in an englobing, evolutionary space-time dynamic. This is the theme which I hope to engage in at the ISSS Conference at Asilomar.

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