Survey of the Central Idea

This is part of the Systems Analysis of Organisation, Ego, Control and Authoritarianism.
Also see The Central Idea, Consciousness or Materialism and Gaia or the Man Machine?.
The sub sections are:
Complexity Theory - The Theory of Complex Adaptive Systems
System Science
Gaia and the Living Earth
Deep Ecology
Modern Sociology

This is just a brief survey of information on various related theories and prior scientific research and philosophical theories. It is not an analysis or history, its just a starting point from which to explore further into these subjects if you wish and to show that there is considerable theoretical background to the ideas presented in this book.

The only new thing that I am proposing here is that we take these ideas seriously in a socio-political context and use them as a tool in progressive strategies to develop competing discourses to the propagandist discourse. And to perform analyses of the various issues whilst keeping this holistic/systemic perspective in mind. Certain phrases are highlighted because they are particularly relevant to this book.

Complexity Theory - The Theory of Complex Adaptive Systems

From Wikipedia (with some wikipdeia links preserved for further reference):
"Examples of complex systems include ant-hills, ants themselves, human economies, climate, nervous systems, cells and living things, including human beings, as well as modern energy or telecommunication infrastructures. Beyond the fact that these things are all networks of some kind, and that they are complex, it may appear that they have little in common, hence that the term "complex system" is vacuous. However, all complex systems are held to have behavioural and structural features in common, which at least to some degree unites them as phenomena. They are also united theoretically, because all these systems may, in principle, be modelled with varying degrees of success by a certain kind of mathematics. It is therefore possible to state clearly what it is that these systems are supposed to have in common with each other, in relatively formal terms." [FR]

"The earliest precursor to modern complex systems theory can be found in the classical political economy of the Scottish Enlightenment, later developed by the Austrian school of economics, that order in market systems is spontaneous (or emergent) in that it is the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design. Upon this and from the 19th to the early 20th century, the Austrian school developed the economic calculation problem along with the concept of dispersed knowledge, which were to fuel debates against the then-dominant keynesian economics. This debate would notably lead economists, politicians and other parties to explore the question of computational complexity." [FR]

"Complexity theory takes its roots into Chaos theory, which has its origins more than a century ago in the work of the French physicist Henri Poincaré. Chaos is sometimes viewed as extremely complicated information, rather than as an absence of order... The point is that chaos remains deterministic. With perfect knowledge of the initial conditions and of the context of an action, the course of this action can be predicted in chaos theory... Complexity is non-deterministic, and gives no way whatsoever to predict the future. The emergence of complexity theory shows a domain between deterministic order and randomness which is complex... This is referred as the 'edge of chaos'..." [FR]

"Socio-cognitive systems are complex from their nature. They include humans, organizations and are intelligence-based systems. The study of socio-cognitive complexity is the new domain in systemics and has to cope with a meta-complexity on higher levels in the hierarchy of abstract systems." [FR]

"Complex adaptive systems are special cases of complex systems. They are complex in that they are diverse and made up of multiple interconnected elements and adaptive in that they have the capacity to change and learn from experience. The term complex adaptive systems was coined at the interdisciplinary Santa Fe Institute (SFI), by John H. Holland, Murray Gell-Mann and others. The term complex adaptive systems (or complexity science) is often used to describe the loosely organized academic field that has grown up around the study of such systems. Complexity science is not a single theory— it encompasses more than one theoretical framework and is highly interdisciplinary, seeking the answers to some fundamental questions about living, adaptable, changeable systems." [FR]

"Examples of complex adaptive systems include the stock market, social insect and ant colonies, the biosphere and the ecosystem, the brain and the immune system, the cell and the developing embryo, manufacturing businesses and any human social group-based endeavour in a cultural and social system such as political parties or communities. There are close relationships between the field of CAS and artificial life. In both areas the principles emergence and self-organization are very important." [FR]

"A Complex Adaptive System (CAS) is a dynamic network of many agents (which may represent cells, species, individuals, firms, nations) acting in parallel, constantly acting and reacting to what the other agents are doing. The control of a CAS tends to be highly dispersed and decentralized. If there is to be any coherent behavior in the system, it has to arise from competition and cooperation among the agents themselves. The overall behavior of the system is the result of a huge number of decisions made every moment by many individual agents. (source: Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos by M. Mitchell Waldrop)" [FR]

"A CAS behaves/evolves according to three key principles: order is emergent as opposed to predetermined (c.f. Neural Networks), the system's history is irreversible, and the system's future is often unpredictable. The basic building blocks of the CAS are agents. Agents scan their environment and develop schema representing interpretive and action rules. These schema are subject to change and evolution. (source: K. Dooley, AZ State University)" [FR]

"Living organisms are complex adaptive systems. Although complexity is hard to quantify in biology, evolution has produced some remarkably complex organisms. This observation has led to the common idea of evolution being progressive and leading towards what are viewed as "higher organisms". If this were generally true, evolution would possess an active trend towards complexity. As shown below, in this type of process the value of the most common amount of complexity would increase over time. Indeed, some artificial life simulations have suggested that the generation of CAS is an inescapable feature of evolution." [FR]

" "As a physician, I learned to think from a biological perspective," notes Richard Weinberg, "When I went into management, traditional organizational theory seemed artificial, foreign to my experience. So when I started studying complexity theory... I was stunned. Here was a way of thinking about organizations that compared them to living things. That makes sense to me, intuitively." Besides making sense, Weinberg finds that complexity theory is based on a more accurate model of how hospitals, and the economy in general, work. So, for example, it offers a valuable explanation of why business plans so often don’t come out the way managers expect." (Managing a Living Thing) [FR]

More Information:


From Wikipedia (with some wikipdeia links preserved for further reference):
"Cybernetics is the study of feedback and derived concepts such as communication and control in living organisms, machines and organisations. The term cybernetics stems from the Greek Κυβερνήτης (kybernetes, steersman, governor, pilot, or rudder — the same root as government). It is an earlier but still-used generic term for many of the subject matters that are increasingly subject to specialization under the headings of adaptive systems, artificial intelligence, complex systems, complexity theory, control systems, decision support systems, dynamical systems, information theory, learning organizations, mathematical systems theory, operations research, simulation, and systems engineering. A more philosophical definition, suggested in 1956 by Louis Couffignal, one of the pioneers of cybernetics, characterizes cybernetics as "the art of ensuring the efficacy of action"." [FR]

"Norbert Wiener, a mathematician, engineer and social philosopher, coined the word "cybernetics" from the Greek word meaning "steersman." He defined it as the science of control and communication in the animal and the machine... For philosopher Warren McCulloch, cybernetics was an experimental epistemology concerned with the communication within an observer and between the observer and his environment. Stafford Beer, a management consultant, defined cybernetics as the science of effective organization. Anthropologist Gregory Bateson noted that whereas previous sciences dealt with matter and energy, the new science of cybernetics focuses on form and pattern. For educational theorist Gordon Pask, cybernetics is the art of manipulating defensible metaphors, showing how they may be constructed and what can be inferred as a result of their existence.

Cybernetics takes as its domain the design or discovery and application of principles of regulation and communication. Cybernetics treats not things but ways of behaving. It does not ask "what is this thing?" but "what does it do?" and "what can it do?" Because numerous systems in the living, social and technological world may be understood in this way, cybernetics cuts across many traditional disciplinary boundaries. The concepts which cyberneticians develop thus form a metadisciplinary language by which we may better understand and modify our world.

Several traditions in cybernetics have existed side by side since its beginning. One is concerned with circular causality, manifest in technological developments--notably in the design of computers and automata--and finds its intellectual expression in theories of computation, regulation and control. Another tradition, which emerged from human and social concerns, emphasizes epistemology--how we come to know-- and explores theories of self-reference to understand such phenomena as autonomy, identity, and purpose. Some cyberneticians seek to create a more humane world, while others seek merely to understand how people and their environment have co-evolved. Some are interested in systems as we observe them, others in systems that do the observing. Some seek to develop methods for modeling the relationships among measurable variables. Others aim to understand the dialogue that occurs between models or theories and social systems. Early work sought to define and apply principles by which systems may be controlled. More recent work has attempted to understand how systems describe themselves, control themselves, and organize themselves. Despite its short history, cybernetics has developed a concern with a wide range of processes involving people as active organizers, as sharing communicators, and as autonomous, responsible individuals." (Definitions of Cybernetics)[FR]

More definitions of cybernetics, taken from Definitions of Cybernetics [FR]:

"a science concerned with the study of systems of any nature which are capable of receiving, storing, and processing information so as to use it for control"-A.N. Kolmogorov

"Cybernetique= the art of growing"--A.M. Ampere

"the science of control and communication in the animal and the machine"-Norbert Wiener

"the art of securing efficient operation"-L. Couffignal

"the art of steersmanship"; "deals with all forms of behavior in so far as they are regular, or determinate, or reproducible"; "stands to the real machine-electronic, mechanical, neural, or economic-much as geometry stands to a real object in our terrestrial space"; "offers a method for the scientific treatment of the system in which complexity is outstanding and too important to be ignored"-W. Ross Ashby

"a branch of mathematics dealing with problems of control, recursiveness, and information"-Gregory Bateson

"the science of effective organization"-Stafford Beer

"the art and science of manipulating defensible metaphors"-Gordon Pask

"Should one name one central concept, a first principle, of cybernetics, it would be circularity."-Heinz von Foerster

"a way of thinking"-Ernst von Glasersfeld

"the science and art of understanding"-Humberto Maturana

"the ability to cure all temporary truth of eternal triteness"-Herbert Brun

"a way of thinking about ways of thinking"; "offers a vocabulary for talking, and hence thinking, about the dynamics of relations and behavior"; hence the 'cybernetician': "a craftsperson in time"-Larry Richards [FR]

More information:

Psycho Cybernetics

"Psycho-Cybernetics... means, "Steering your mind to a productive, useful goal .... so you can reach the greatest port in the world ... peace of mind. With it, you're somebody. Without it, you're nothing." Dr. Maxwell Maltz [FR]

Developed in the 1960's it is the application of cybernetic principles to the domain of psychology, to help steer the mind away from the negatives that it often obsesses about and toward the positives that it often only dreams about. It helps structure the thought processes to optimise effective engagement with reality.

It has been described as "The Only Proven Way to De-hypnotize Yourself From False Beliefs, Build a Powerful Self-Image, Feel Great About Yourself and Live the Life You Really, Really WANT! Inside your forebrain is a Servo-Mechanism, a goal seeking device, that leads you toward whatever you're thinking about. If you think about success or what can help you succeed, you're led to success. If you think about failure - you're led somewhere else." [FR]

"Much of what we learn about success is based on the pain/gain idea in essence, work harder, be more persistent, and develop greater willpower. The New Psycho-Cybernetics formula is anything but painful. It will allow you to achieve all your goals, faster, easier, and with less strain than you ever thought possible." [FR] It has not been developed in the context of an academic science but as a self-help tool, see these other links [FR].

A similar approach can be applied to the global mind (human culture) to help steer it towards peace, harmony and vitality.

System Science

Our civilization seems to be suffering a second curse of Babel: Just as the human race builds a tower of knowledge that reaches to the heavens, we are stricken by a malady in which we find ourselves attempting to communicate with each other in countless tongues of scientific specialization... the only goal of science appeared to be analytical, i.e., the splitting up of reality into ever smaller units and the isolation of individual causal trains...We may state as characteristic of modern science that this scheme of isolable units acting in one-way causality has proven to be insufficient. Hence the appearance, in all fields of science, of notions like wholeness, holistic, organismic, gestalt, etc., which all signify that, in the last resort, we must think in terms of systems of elements in mutual interaction...” (Ludwig von Bertalanffy) [FR]

General Systems theory should be an important means of instigating the transfer of principles from one field to another (so that it would) no longer be necessary to duplicate the discovery of the same principles in different fields.” (Ludwig von Bertalanffy) [FR]

“There is this hope, I cannot promise you whether or when it will be realized - that the mechanistic paradigm, with all its implications in science as well as in society and our own private life, will be replaced by an organismic or systems paradigm that will offer new pathways for our presently schizophrenic and self-destructive civilization.” (Ludwig von Bertalanffy) [FR]

“The dramatic change in concepts and ideas that happened in physics during the first three decades of this century has been widely discussed by physicists and philosophers for more than fifty years...The intellectual crisis of quantum physicists in the 1920's is mirrored today by a similar but much broader cultural crisis. The major problems of our time...are all different facets of one single crisis, which is essentially a crisis of perception...Like the crisis in quantum physics, it derives from the fact that most of us and especially our large social institutions, subscribe to the concepts of an outdated world view...At the same time researchers...are developing a new vision of reality...What we are seeing today is a shift of paradigms not only within science but also in the larger social arena...The social paradigm now receding had dominated our culture for several hundred years, during which it shaped our modern Western society and has significantly influenced the rest of the world...This paradigm consists of...the view of the world as a mechanical system, the view of the body as a machine...the view of life as a competitive struggle...the belief of unlimited progress achieved through economic and technological growth and the belief that the female is subsumed under the male...During recent decades all these assumptions have been severely limited and in need of radical revision. Indeed, such a revision is mow taking place...In science, the language of systems theory. and especially the theory of living systems, seems to provide the most appropriate formulation of the new ecological paradigm. I would like to now specify what is meant by the systems approach...I shall identify five criteria of systems approach...1. Shift from the parts to the whole. The properties of the parts can be understood only from the dynamics of the whole. In fact, ultimately there are no parts at all 2. Shift from the structure to the process. In the new paradigm, every structure is seen as a manifestation of an underlying process. 3. Shift from objective to epistemic science. In the new paradigm, it is believed the epistemology - the understanding of the process of knowledge - has to be included explicitly in the description of natural phenomenon...4. A shift from building to networks as a metaphor of knowledge. In the new paradigm, the metaphor of knowledge as a building is being replaced by that of the network. 5. Shift from truth to approximate descriptions. This insight is crucial to all modern the new paradigm, it is recognized that all scientific concepts and theories are limited and approximate...One of the most important insights of the new systems theory is that life and cognition are inseparable. The process of knowledge is also the process of self-organization, that is, the process of life. Our conventional model of knowledge is one of representation or an image of independently existing facts which is the model derived from classical physics. From, the new systems point of view, knowledge is a part of the process of life, of a dialogue between subject and object. I believe that the world view implied by modern physics is inconsistent with our present society, which does not reflect the interrelatedness we observe in nature. To achieve such a state of dynamic balance, a radically different social and economic structure will be needed; a cultural revolution in the true sense of the word. The survival of our whole civilization may depend on whether we can bring about such a change. It will depend ultimately, on our ability to...experience the wholeness of nature and the art of living with it in harmony.” (Fritjof Capra, The Role of Physics in the Current Change in Paradigms) [FR]

“...that in our time, the age of information, it is systems science and cybernetics, as the general sciences of organization and communication, that can provide the basis for contemporary philosophy.” (International Society for the System Sciences Bulletin, 1994, Winter, pp52) [FR]

“We in the systems sciences should be greatly concerned that we may be in a micro-Dark Age brought on by a faulty ontological assumption. True systems thinking, if it is to include natural systems, is a radical departure from the old atomistic thinking that has brought science this far. Systemics, insofar as it would be a mirror of reality, is not just about simply organizing separate entities into something we call a whole (as if it were merely a theory of organizations.) Indeed, the most significant difference between the old and the new is that the "old" fundamental concept of separateness i.e., "things," is not a part of systemic ontology (basis of existence). The ontological basis of being, the object, is not the basis of being in systemics. Look at the black and white of this page, then look at what they are doing, that is how different the new system's thinking is from the old.” (The ISSS General System Primer) [FR]

A human being is part of the Whole...He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest...a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security” (A. Einstein, 1954, Ideas and Opinions) [FR]

“In contrast to the mechanistic Cartesian view of the world, the world-view emerging from modern physics can be characterized by words like organic, holistic, and ecological. It might also be called a systems view, in the sense of general systems theory. The universe is no longer seen as a machine, made up of a multitude of objects, but has to be pictured as one indivisible dynamic whole whose parts are essentially interrelated and can be understood only as patterns of a cosmic process” (Fritjof Capra, 1980, The Turning Point, pp. 77) [FR]

More information:

Gaia and the Living Earth

"Gaia is no mere formula--it is our own body, our flesh and our blood, the wind blowing past our ears and the hawks wheeling overhead." [FR]

"The Gaia hypothesis is an ecological hypothesis that proposes that living and nonliving parts of the earth are viewed as a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism. Named after the Greek earth goddess, this hypothesis postulates that all living things have a regulatory effect on the Earth's environment that promotes life overall." [FR]

"The Gaia hypothesis, as formulated by geochemnist James Lovelock, represents a unique moment in scientific thought: the first glimpse, from within the domain of pure and precise science, that this planet might best be described as a coherent, living entity. The hypothesis itself arose in an attempt to make sense of certain anomalous aspects of the Earth's atmosphere. It suggests that the actual stability of the atmosphere, given a chemical composition very far from equilibrium, can best be understood by assuming that the atmosphere is actively and sensitively maintained by the oceans, the soils, the plants, and the createures--indeed, by the whole of the biosphere. In Lovelock's own words, the hypothesis that "the entire range of living matter on Earth, from whales to viruses, and from oaks to algae, could be regarded as constituting a single living entity, capable of manipulating the Earth's atmosphere to suit its overall needs and endowed with faculties and powers far beyond those of its constituent parts." " [FR]

It is a "theory that the planet earth is one giant organism, and that we do not share its consciousness because of our scaling (like the idea that our individual cells might be conscious but they (nor us) are not aware of the other's consciousness). we as humans, might be the equivalent of the individual neurons of our brain, forming a network of communication for the entire planet." [FR]

"The planet has a kind of intelligence, it can actually open a channel of communication with an individual human being. The message that nature sends is, transform your language through a synergy between electronic culture and the psychedelic imagination, a synergy between dance and idea, a synergy between understanding and intuition, and dissolve the boundaries that your culture has sanctioned between you, to become part of this Gaian supermind." (Terence McKenna) [FR]

"One of the science fiction fantasies that haunts the collective unconscious is expressed in the phrase "a world run by machines"; in the 1950s this was first articulated in the notion, "perhaps the future will be a terrible place where the world is run by machines." Well now, let's think about machines for a moment. They are extremely impartial, very predictable, not subject to moral suasion, value neutral, and very long lived in their functioning. Now let's think about what machines are made of, in the light of Sheldrake's morphogenetic field theory. Machines are made of metal, glass, gold, silicon, plastic; they are made of what the earth is made of. Now wouldn't it be strange if biology is a way for earth to alchemically transform itself into a self-reflecting thing. In which case then, what we're headed for inevitably, what we are in fact creating is a world run by machines. And once these machines are in place, they can be expected to manage our economies, languages, social aspirations, and so forth, in such a way that we stop killing each other, stop starving each other, stop destroying land, and so forth. Actually the fear of being ruled by machines is the male ego's fear of relinquishing control of the planet to the maternal matrix of Gaia." (Terence McKenna) [FR]

"Philip K. Dick has memorably suggested that we may share space-time with "Zebra," a hypothetical gaian intelligence that we can't see because it disguises itself as the whole environment." (Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger III) [FR]

"A pair of coevolutionary creatures chasing each other in an escalating arms race can only seem to veer out of control. Likewise, a pair of cozy coevolutionary symbionts embracing each other can only seem to lead to stagnant solipsism. But Lovelock saw that if you had a vast network of coevolutionary impulses, such that no creatures could escape creating its own substrate and the substrate its own creatures, then the web of coevolution spread around until it closed a circuit of self-making and self-control... if Earth is reduced to the size of a bacteria, and inspected under high-powered optics, would it seem stranger than a virus? Gaia hovers there, a blue sphere under the stark light, inhaling energy, regulating its internal states, fending off disturbances, complexifying, and ready to transform another planet if given a chance." (Kevin Kelly, Out Of Control) [FR]

"I've come to the conclusion that the individual human body is no more, no less than one of the billions of skin cells we lose every day. Each of those cells was once bursting with youth and health before it lived its allotted span, shriveled and then fell as dust. Now, if a skin cell became conscious and forgot that it was only a temporary and recyclable part of a much larger living body, it too would no doubt feel the same existential trauma experienced by all living, sentient creatures. It would fear its own demise as we do, because it would have forgotten its purpose and function within a larger context and become trapped in the illusory yet painful cage of individuality."

"Like skin cells or perhaps more like immune cells, we as individuals are all part of one immense intelligent living creature which has its roots in the Cryptozoic era and its living tendrils - including us - probing forward through the untasted jelly of the 21st Century. The body of this vast and intelligent lifeform - the biota as it's known - is still in its infancy and still at the stage in its life cycle where it must consume the planet's resources like a caterpillar on a leaf. What looks like environmental destruction to us is, I believe, the natural acceleration of an impending metamorphosis; just as a caterpillar gorges itself to power its transformation into a butterfly, so too does the biota consume everything in its path, in preparation for its own imminent transformation into adult form."

"Quite soon now, possibly within ten years even, the infant creature in the body of which we are all merge cells will awaken to its true nature, the concept of individuality will vanish overnight, as the imaginary walls separating our minds collapse, we will realise there is only one mind, and our mega-maggot will metamorphose, leaving the planetary cradle and the four dimensions of spacetime to be born at last as a fully-formed adult creature designed for existence in a higher dimension fluid continuum or informational supermembrane. As immune cells inside this gigantic, living, tree-like body that's currently huffing and puffing its way towards maturity, it's our job to do everything we can to keep the larva healthy and developing normally. That's if we want to be born as adults into hyperspacetimelessness and quite frankly, I fancy the idea."

"That's my religion and it didn't come from a book and it's not based on my blind faith but on my own direct experience of and conversation with my "God." "Grant" is an immune cell in the body of "God" - the biota - does its thinking and its sensing through tiny, self-replicating cell-creatures like me and you and all the other examples of life on earth. All life is the same life. All thoughts are the same thought. No one dies at all, except in the way that a baby has to "die" for a child to be born and the child has to "die" for the adult to be born. That's all death is at every stage - scary transformation. And, although individual "bodies" seem to wither, fall away, and be lost, consciousness remains as a function of the biota." (Interview with Grant Morrisson, author of The Invisibles) [FR]

The cosmos is fundamentally and primarily living... Nothing seems to me more vital, from the point of view of human energy, than the appearance and eventually, the systematic cultivation of such a 'cosmic sense'.” (Teilhard de Chardin) [FR]

"Teilhard and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Vernadsky inspired the renegade Gaia hypothesis (later set forth by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis): the global ecosystem is a superorganism with a whole much greater than the sum of its parts. This vision is clearly theological - suddenly everything, from rocks to people, takes on a holistic importance. As a Jesuit, Teilhard felt this deeply, and a handful of cyberphilosophers are now mining this ideological source as they search for the deeper implications of the Net. As Barlow says, "Teilhard's work is about creating a consciousness so profound it will make good company for God itself." Teilhard imagined a stage of evolution characterized by a complex membrane of information enveloping the globe and fueled by human consciousness. It sounds a little off-the-wall, until you think about the Net, that vast electronic web encircling the Earth, running point to point through a nervelike constellation of wires." [FR]

"Is this not like some great body which is being born - with its limbs, its nervous system, its perceptive organs, its memory - the body in fact of that great living Thing which had to come to fulfill the ambitions aroused in the reflective being by the newly acquired consciousness?" (Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man) [FR]

"The idea is that of the earth not only becoming covered by myriads of grains of thought, but becoming enclosed in a single thinking envelope so as to form, functionally, no more than a single vast grain of thought on the sidereal scale, the plurality of individual reflections grouping themselves together and reinforcing one another in the act of a single unanimous reflection." (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) [FR]

"I would like you to come with me on a great adventure, an exploration of humanity's potential as seen through the eyes of the planet, and to share with me a vision of our evolutionary future. The journey will take us beyond this place and time, allowing us to stand back and behold humanity afresh, to consider new ways of seeing ourselves in relation to the whole evolutionary process. We shall see that something miraculous may be taking place on this planet, on this blue pearl of ours. Humanity could be on the threshold of an evolutionary leap, a leap that could occur in a flash of evolutionary time, a leap such as occurs only once in a billion years... the changes leading to this leap are taking place right before our eyes-- or rather right behind them, within our own minds." (Peter Russel) [FR]

"We accept a vast range of systems as living organisms, from bacteria to blue whales, but when it comes to the whole planet we might find this concept a bit difficult to grasp. Yet until the development of the microscope less than four hundred years ago, few people realized that there are living organisms within us and around us, so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. Today we are viewing life from the other direction, through the "macroscope" of the Earth view, and we are beginning to surmise that something as vast as our planet could also be a living organism. This hypothesis is all the more difficult to accept because the living Earth is not an organism we can observe ordinarily outside ourselves; it is an organism of which we are an intimate part. Only when we step into space can we begin to see it as a separate being... Would a cell in our own bodies, seeing only its neighboring cells for a short period, ever guess that the whole body is a living being in its own right?... This no longer seems so farfetched. On the contrary, an increasingly popular scientific hypothesis suggests that the most satisfactory way of understanding the planet's chemistry, ecology, and biology is to view the planet as a single living system. The Gaia Hypothesis." (Peter Russel) [FR]

I also propose it is the most satisfactory way of understanding all of the global social phenomenon from wars, ideologies, empires, capitalism, corporatism, resource depletion, mass poverty, pollution and so on.

Regarding "the similarities between aspects of society today and various phenomena in [the] sciences. In most cases these are not just analogies introduced to make a point clear; they illustrate a deeper, underlying pattern, what is technically called a homology. (The layout of bones in the forearm of a dog, elephant, seal, and bat, for example, are in each case similar to the layout in the human forearm. This is a homology revealing a more fundamental common pattern.) When we start finding consistent, underlying patterns running through the whole of evolution, they can give us a very strong reason for believing that society today may follow homologous developments." [FR]

"self-organization is a property of the surrounding biosphere, Gaia shifts the locus of creativity from the human intellect to the enveloping world itself. The creation of meaning, value, and purpose is no longer accomplished by a ghostly subject hovering inside the human physiology [the Cartesian dualist mind and the ego]. For these things--value, purpose, meaning-already abound in the surrounding landscape. The organic world is now [seen to be] filled with its own meanings, its own syntheses and creative transformations. The cacophony of weeds growing in an "empty" lot is now recognized for its essential, almost intelligent role in the planetary homeostasis, and now even a mudflat has its own mysteries akin to those of the human organism.(6) We begin to glimpse something of the uncanny coherence of enveloping nature, a secret meaningfulness too often obscured by our abstractions. This wild proliferation is not a random chaos but a coherent community of forms, an expressive universe that moves according to a diverse logic very different from that logic we attempt to impose." [FR]

"The consequences for our understanding of perception and the function of the human senses are important and far reaching. Traditionally perception has been taken to be a strictly one-way process whereby value-free data from the surrounding environment is collected and organized by the human organism. Just as biologists had until recently assumed, for simplicty's sake, that life adapts to an essentially random environment,(4) so psychologists have assumed that the senses are passive mechanisms adapted to an environment of random, chance events... But if, following the Gaia hypothesis, we can no longer define perceptions as the intake of disparate information from a mute and random environment, what then can we say that perception is?"

"The answer is surprisingly simple: Perception is communication. It is the constant, ongoing communication between this organism that I am and the vast organic entity of which I am apart. In more classical terms, perception is the experience of communication between the individual microcosm and the planetary macrocosm. Let us think about this for a moment. If the perceivable environment is not simply a collection of separable structures and accidental events; if, rather, the whole of this environment taken together with myself constitutes a coherent living Being "endowed with faculties and powers far beyond those of its constituent parts,"(7) then everything I see, everything I hear is bringing me information regarding the internal state of another living entity--the planet itself. Or rather about an entity that is both other and not-other, for as we have seen, I am entirely circumscribed by this entity, and am, indeed, one of its constituent parts... [Perception is] an exchange, no longer a one-way transfer of random data from an inert world into the human mind but a reciprocal interaction between two living presences--my own body and the vast body of the biosphere. Perhaps the term "communion" is more precise than "communication"... a deeper mode of communication, more corporeal than intellectual, a sort of sensuous immersion--a communication without words. Perception, then--the whole play of the senses--is a constant communion between ourselves and the living world that encompasses us." [FR]

"The concept of a living biosphere enveloping the Earth provides a condition for the resolution of numerous theoretical dilemmas... the paradox engendered by the assumption that, within the physical world, awareness is an exclusively human attribute... in fact the external world is not devoid of awareness-- that it is made up of numerous subjective experiences besides those of our single species--and furthermore that those myriad forms of biotic experience, human and non-human, may collectively constitute a coherent global experience, or life, that is not without its own creativity and sentience. If such is the case, as the evidence for Gaia attests, then perception is no longer a paradox, for there is not the total disjunction between "inside" and "outside" worlds that was previously assumed... But the reverse is also true. Just as the interior world of our psychological experience has many qualities that are ambiguous and indeterminate, so the external world now discloses its own indeterminacy and subjectivity--its own interiority, so to speak. Perception, then, is simply the communion and deep communication between our own organic intelligence and the creativity that surrounds us." [FR]

"A recognition of the perceptual ramifications of the Gaia hypothesis is, I believe, essential to any genuine appraisal of the hypothesis. Without an awareness of Gaia as this very world, which we engage not only with our scientific instruments but with our eyes, our ears, our noses and our skin--without the subjective discovery of Gaia as a sensory, perceptual, and psychological power--we are apt to understand Lovelock's discovery in exclusively bio-chemical terms, as yet another scientific abstraction, suitable for manipulating and engineering to fit our purposes. Lovelock himself, in his most recent speculations regarding the exportation of Gaia to the surface of Mars, seems oblivious to the psychological ramifications of Gaia. The idea that the living biosphere, once discovered, can be mechanically transferred, by and for humans, to another planet, overlooks the extent to which Gaia calls into question the instrumental relation which we currently maintain with our world. Recognizing Gaia from within, as a psychological presence, greatly constrains the extent to which we can consciously alter and manipulate the life of this planet for our own ends." [FR] The planet is not an inert stage upon which our egos act out their dramas, it is a living being and our lives are an aspect of its life, there is no separation as those words imply, there is only modes of integration or communion. But egos don't like to question their agendas, they primarily seek knowledge with which to pursue their agendas so these realisations will be greatly resisted until they become undeniable and even then denial will continue until the current generations die off and fresh minds approach the issues.

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Deep Ecology

"Deep ecology is a recent branch of ecological philosophy (ecosophy [FR, FR]) that considers humankind as an integral part of its environment. It places more value on other species, ecosystems and processes in nature than that in established environmental and green movements, and therefore leads to a new system of environmental ethics. The core principle of deep ecology as originally developed is Næss's doctrine of biospheric egalitarianism — the claim that all living things have the same right to live and flourish. Deep ecology describes itself as "deep" because it is concerned with fundamental philosophical questions about the role of human life as one part of the ecosphere, rather than with a narrow view of ecology as a branch of biological science, and aims to avoid merely utilitarian environmentalism." [FR]

"Ecological science, concerned with facts and logic alone, cannot answer ethical questions about how we should live. For this we need ecological wisdom. Deep ecology seeks to develop this by focusing on deep experience, deep questioning and deep commitment. These constitute an interconnected system. Each gives rise to and supports the other, whilst the entire system is, what Næss would call, an ecosophy: an evolving but consistent philosophy of being, thinking and acting in the world, that embodies ecological wisdom and harmony" [FR]

Deep ecology rejects "the idea that beings can be ranked according to their relative value. For example, judgements on whether an animal has an eternal soul, whether it uses reason or whether it has consciousness have all been used to justify the ranking of the human animal over other animals. Næss states that "the right of all forms (of life) to live is a universal right which cannot be quantified. No single species of living being has more of this particular right to live and unfold than any other species." This metaphysical idea is elucidated in Warwick Fox's claim that we and all other beings are "aspects of a single unfolding reality". As such Deep Ecology would support the view of Aldo Leopold in his book, "A Sand County Almanac" that humans are ‘plain members of the biotic community’." [FR]

"Scientific ecology directly implies the metaphysics of deep ecology, including its ideas about the self and further, that deep ecology finds scientific underpinnings in the fields of ecology and system dynamics. In their 1985 book Deep Ecology,[5] Devall and Sessions describe a series of sources of deep ecology. They include the science of ecology itself, and cite its major contribution as the rediscovery in a modern context that "everything is connected to everything else". They point out that some ecologists and natural historians, in addition to their scientific viewpoint, have developed a deep ecological consciousness, including a perspective beyond the strictly human viewpoint... A further scientific source for deep ecology adduced by Devall and Sessions is the "new physics", which they describe as shattering Descartes's and Newton's vision of the universe as a machine explainable in terms of simple linear cause and effect, and instead providing a view of Nature in constant flux with the idea that observers are separate [is] an illusion. They refer to Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics and The Turning Point for their characterisation of how the new physics leads to metaphysical and ecological views of interrelatedness which according to Capra should make deep ecology a framework for future human societies. The scientific version of the Gaia hypothesis [FR] (also surveyed below) was also an influence on the development of deep ecology." [FR]

"The central spiritual tenet of deep ecology is that the human species is a part of the Earth and not separate from it. A process of self-realisation or "re-earthing" is used for an individual to intuitively gain an ecocentric perspective. The notion is based on the idea that the more we expand the self to identify with "others" (people, animals, ecosystems), the more we realise ourselves. Transpersonal psychology has been used by Warwick Fox to support this idea. Other traditions which have influenced deep ecology include Taoism, Buddhism and Jainism primarily because they have a non-dualistic approach to subject and object. In relation to the Judeo-Christian tradition, Næss offers the following criticism: "The arrogance of stewardship [as found in the Bible] consists in the idea of superiority which underlies the thought that we exist to watch over nature like a highly respected middleman between the Creator and Creation."[6] This theme had been expounded in Lynn Townsend White, Jr.'s 1967 article "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis",[7] in which however he also offered as an alternative Christian view of man's relation to nature that of Saint Francis of Assisi, who he says spoke for the equality of all creatures, in place of the idea of man's domination over creation." [FR]

"In practice, deep ecologists support decentralization, the creation of ecoregions, the breakdown of industrialism in its current form, and an end to authoritarianism... Deep ecologists welcome the labels "Gaian" and "Green" (including the broader political implications of this term, e.g. commitment to peace). Deep ecology has had a broad general influence on the green movement by providing an independent ethical platform for Green parties, political ecologists and environmentalists. The philosophy of deep ecology helped differentiate the modern ecology movement by pointing out the anthropocentric bias of the term "environment", and rejecting the idea of humans as authoritarian guardians of the environment." [FR]

I would question the ability of deep ecologists to know the deeper interests and 'agenda' of nature. They seem to have an understanding that is based primarily on the maintenance of the pre-human status quo, however the history of life on earth has shown that it does undergo systemic leaps of higher level organisation. The transition from single cells to organisms is one such leap (see The First Cambrian Explosion) and the transition from organisms to civilisation is another (see The Second Cambrian Explosion). Humans are a natural leap of nature and our growth is in the deepest sense 'natural'. However our egoic obsession and destructive tendencies are unbalanced and it would also be natural to curb these in order to create more harmoniously, but our creative tendency is entirely natural. Any attempt to stop the current process of systemic evolution would most likely be applying narrow human understanding and going against the longer term interests of nature, which is to create systems of ever greater complexity and integration. Civilisation is in essence a flowering of evolution and not an abomination, but this flowering should be sensitive to the rest of nature and not be needlessly destructive.

Thus I accept most of what they say and their general understanding but some of their specific points I feel are based on a non-systemic understanding of the process of evolution. It is not possible to stop human development in order to preserve the pre-human world, which was just a passing phase along the way to future passing phases. When the first Cambrian explosion occurred the previous single cellular ecosystem was largely destroyed and gave rise to a multi-cellular ecosystem. We are now transforming into a multi-organism ecosystem and this too is natural, but we should also work in harmony with the prior ecosystem and not needlessly destroy it. The future evolution must build upon past evolution and not solely on egoic human delusions because that would bring the entire process into conflict with reality and billions of years of evolution would come crashing to an ignominious demise. But if the new cycle preserves as much as possible of the old cycle and extends it and augments it this could give rise to great abundance and the unleashing of latent potentials within the old cycle that have yet to be fully realised.

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The concept of "social ecology" [FR] is also closely related: "What literally defines social ecology as "social" is its recognition of the often overlooked fact that nearly all our present ecological problems arise from deep-seated social problems. Conversely, present ecological problems cannot be clearly understood, much less resolved, without resolutely dealing with problems within society... the real battleground on which the ecological future of the planet will be decided is clearly a social one... Indeed, to separate ecological problems from social problems--or even to play down or give token recognition to this crucial relationship-- would be to grossly misconstrue the sources of the growing environmental crisis. The way human beings deal with each other as social beings is crucial to addressing the ecological crisis. Unless we clearly recognize this, we will surely fail to see that the hierarchical mentality and class relationships that so thoroughly permeate society give rise to the very idea of dominating the natural world." [FR] I would further add the core of our social problems and our ecological problems lies with the unbalanced domination of the ego, both within our personal lives and throughout the civilisation.


"Ecopsychology [FR] connects psychology and ecology in a new scientific paradigm. The political and practical implications are to show humans ways of healing alienation and to build a sane society and a sustainable culture. Theodore Roszak is credited with coining the term in his 1992 book, The Voice of the Earth. This was a call for the development of a field in which Psychology would go out of the built environment to examine why people continue to behave in "crazy" ways that damage the environment, and the environmental movement would find new ways to motivate people to action, ways more positive than protest... there are a variety of other names used to describe this field: Psychoecology [FR], ecotherapy [FR], environmental psychology [FR], global therapy [FR], green therapy [FR], Earth-centered therapy [FR], reearthing [FR], nature-based psychotherapy [FR], shamanic counselling [FR], sylvan therapy [FR]." (Wikipedia) [FR]

"Writing in the early 1980s, Hillman conjectured that the environmental degradation we see around us in the external world might be studied by psychiatrists in much the same way that they examine disturbed dreams or sexual fantasies--as projections of psychopathic symptoms. He urged that "asbestos and food additives, acid rain and tampons, insecticides and pharmaceuticals, car exhausts and sweeteners, televisions and ions" be brought within the province of therapeutic analysis: "Psychology always advances its consciousness by means of pathologized revelations, through the underworld of our anxiety. Our ecological fears announce that things are where the soul now claims psychological attention." But old orthodoxies die hard. In a recent interview with John O'Neil, president of the California School of Professional Psychology, I asked what part our relations with the natural environment play in mainstream psychiatric training and practice. "That's an easy one," O'Neil answered. "None."... [However] a number of adventurous psychologists are at last seeking to create ecologically relevant forms of therapy... psychologists are (however belatedly) responding to the influence of the environmental movement... the goal is... to expand the framework of psychiatric thought to include the natural environment. The history of psychiatry might be told as just such an ongoing effort to broaden the context of analysis: from the individual to the family to the workplace to the society and culture at large. Each of these extensions has brought with it new insights for diagnosis and treatment; each has also deepened the public's understanding of human nature. Ecopsychologists believe that the time has come to define sanity within a biospheric context. (also see Implications of the Ego)

During the 1960s a growing number of psychologists came to realize that there were sources of anxiety and forms of neurotic behavior that could be treated only if the entire family were brought into analysis... Similarly, ecopsychologists suspect that there are forms of neurosis, perhaps including the most emotionally corrosive kind, that trace back to our entrenched alienation from the natural environment. The crowded industrial city, with its killing pace and compulsive habits of consumption, may disseminate an "urban madness" that exacts a heavy toll upon both the person and the planet." (Beyond the reality principle - ecological conception of sanity) [FR]

Not only does our alienation from nature and artificial lives within artificial environments result in individual psychosis but this individual psychosis results in collective psychosis that results in general destruction of the holistic system, which further alienates us and so the loop spirals into growing insanity and destruction, all arising from our first egoic separation from reality.

"A conference titled "Psychology as if the Whole World Mattered" was held in 1990 at the Harvard-based Center for Psychology and Social Change. There a gathering of ecopsychologists concluded that "if the self is expanded to include the natural world, behavior leading to destruction of the world will be experienced as self-destruction." One speaker, Walter Christie, assistant chief of psychiatry at the Maine Medical Center, observed that the illusion of separateness we create in order to utter the words "I am" is part of our problem in the modern world. We have always been far more a part of great patterns on the globe than our fearful egos can tolerate knowing .... To preserve nature is to preserve the matrix through which we can experience our souls and the soul of the planet Earth." (Beyond the reality principle - ecological conception of sanity) [FR]

It is vital for humanity to remember that human civilisation is not beyond the bounds of 'nature', that it is a naturally arising complex adaptive system and that a leaf was once a new technology much like a solar panel is now, the only difference is our obsession with human egos and our erroneous belief that egos are outside of nature, but they are not. This human civilisation is a living system much like an organism where we ourselves are the cells, hence when the field of psychoanalysis is expanded to encompass the ecosystem it should be recognised that human civilisation is an important part of the global ecosystem. In this respect this analysis converges with that of deep ecology, surveyed next. I do not define 'ecosystem' in narrow traditional terms that are based on erroneous egoic beliefs but simply as the overall living system that permeates this planet, and human civilisation is one of the most influential and by far the most destructive part of that ecosystem. It is civilisation that is most unbalanced and most in need of macro-psychoanalysis especially due to its egoic obsession which makes it vulnerable to delusion and dysfunction. But this doesn't just happen on a macro-scale, all levels are interlinked (see The Central Idea), the macro-scale is an emergent phenomenon that is determined by the micro-interactions.

Hence "we each need to change ourselves (substantially) first to be able to make fundamental and lasting changes to the system (and the world) that we have created, as these systems are reflections of the developmental stages of ourselves (see Taylor, 1991). A few commentators assert that there is a cultural crisis in Western society that requires attention, a soul sickness creeping into Western society (Hickman, 2000). This view fits with another that argues for the transformation of society, advocating systemic changes based on a different ethical worldview. Ecopsychologists, environmental philosophers, new agers and indigenous leaders describe the disease of our society, and offer a value-laden approach that they espouse as necessary to address the systemic problems of Western, modern society. Structuralism proponents theorise that we are subject to the social and institutional structures that we operate within; a structuration viewpoint counters this deterministic approach by noting that human agency also creates these structures (see Giddens, 1979). By harnessing the agency within each of us and tying it to a cause that has moral weight, structures could change as part of a cultural imperative. The worldwide ecotastrophe is becoming more severe in its dimensions of late, including a wide array of social problems evidenced by increasing numbers of people succumbing to stress, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and even suicide, while many others develop lifestyle diseases (e.g. diabetes and heart disease). The drive for sustainability is developing into a powerful global movement that cannot be ignored, but this drive still largely relies on experts and the government for doing most of the hard work for the rest of society. The personal contribution that each of us can make to sustainability is mentioned, but without a program to tap into this resource, there is little advancement in this arena." [FR] (link broken)

"The condition of modern, Western society is examined... the root causes of our society's unsustainable condition are considered through a new approach, becoming ecosynchronous... the unfolding of self (becoming) and being aware of events that are meaningfully related (synchronicity)... The limitations of a shallow ecology approach are discussed and juxtaposed with philosophical and psychological root causes of systemic failure. This includes reviews of the long-term cycles of civilizations, the decline of a sacred relationship with nature, the Western view of reality, ecopsychology, ecofeminism, sense of place and consumerism/busyness. A shift to an ecocentric position is advocated, as is an emphasis on personal development, with direction offered toward becoming more sustainable..." (Becoming ecosynchronous, Part 1: The root causes of our unsustainable way of life.) [FR]

"The cosmology of the late 20th century has come to see the universe as an evolving hierarchy of physical and biological systems that reach back to the initial conditions that followed the Big Bang. With that perception, we reverse Freud's worldview and all the psychology based upon it. In place of the inevitable heat death, we have the astonishing ordered complexity of natural systems holding out indefinitely against entropic exhaustion. In place of cosmic alienation, we have life and mind as fully at home in the universe as any of the countless systems from which they evolve. More hypothetically we have the possibility that the self-regulating biosphere continues in some sense to "speak" through the human unconscious, making its voice heard even within the framework of modern urban culture... [The book] The Voice of the Earth [FR], suggests that an "ecological unconscious" lies at the core of the psyche, there to be drawn upon as a means for restoring us to environmental harmony. The idea is speculative-but then, psychological theories never set out to prove, only to persuade. They are best seen as commitments to understanding people in certain ways. Under the influence of the environmental movement, ecopsychology commits itself to understanding people as actors on a planetary stage who shape and are shaped by the biospheric system. Even if that commitment never qualifies as more than a hypothesis, it can make a significant political difference.

[How does one effectively communicate these ideas?] "Call someone's entire way of life into question-- as environmental activists are prone to do--and what you are apt to produce is defensive rigidity... If psychology needs ecology in order to find an adequate image of human nature, ecology also needs psychology in order to find more sensitive ways to address the public it wishes to persuade. In this effort, the environmental movement has other means to draw upon besides shock and shame. Ecopsychology holds that there is a sympathetic bond between our species and the planet that is every bit as tenacious as the sexual and aggressive instincts Freud found in the depths of the psyche. The "greening of psychology" begins with matters as familiar to all of us as the empathic rapport with the natural world that is reborn in every child... the result is spontaneous loyalty. Even some militant environmental activists are coming to see the importance of integrating that instinctive "call of the wild" into the basic psychology of the movement. Dave Foreman, one of the country's most prominent "ecowarriors," reminds his colleagues that the greater goal of all they do is to "open our souls to love this glorious, luxuriant, animated planet."To forget that is "counterproductive, and . . . damaging to our personal mental health."" (Beyond the reality principle - ecological conception of sanity) [FR]

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Modern Sociology

"In the now dated lexicon of cold war ideology, the term totalitarianism symbolized the maximal authoritarianism of a politically organized state, designed to control both the outer and inner dimensions of human existence... [it] artificially divided the world into falsely fixed and immutable dichotomies - of command and market economies, of powerless masses and democracy, of state domination and the countervailing forces of civil society... Alternative conceptions... were and continue to be, dismissed by ideological fiat..."

We must "advance the discourse of hegemony beyond the epistemological limitations of (1) political conceptions of totalitarian state coercion and (2) ...class based ideological domination realized through the well-known institutions of civil society... the structural and ideological forces of globalization have transformed and weakened the institutions of both state and civil society... these constructs are fitted for an earlier era and are thus the premises of yesterday’s debate... above and beyond what Habermas would explain as the legitimation crisis of Western states - is a systemic crisis on a world scale... the critique of hegemony in the twenty-first century cannot be restricted by Western state prototypical assumptions... A new quality of mind, a new imagination, is necessary to grasp the essence of hegemonic crisis at the global/systemic level."

"In contemporary sociology, the conception of international relations and state-based geopolitics, has been transcended by the concept of a global system. The processes of globalization cannot be explained by recourse to paradigms rooted in conceptions of nations, states and societies. The fundamental process is economic/financial as exemplified in the world integrated structure of transnational corporations, banks and stock markets..."

"...Transnational media and telecommunications corporations, wire services and the explosion of the world wide web, together signal the modernization of ideological hegemony. The interrelated doctrines of growth, free trade, an international division of labor and markets, and hyperconsumption permeate national cultures and psychological consciousness... the inner world of consciousness, beliefs and values, is shaped by the global media of distraction and distortion. The development and diffusion of technology with marketing, advertising and consumption applications, is of particular concern. Such forces strike at the core of traditional cultures and alternative values, seeking in their place a new metaphorical paradise; one resembling a homogeneous, global, electronic shopping mall."

"Thus at the cultural/ideological level, the coming integration of television programming, on-line consumption and technical forms of education by means of the world wide web compel social scientists and philosophers to attempt the reconstruction of ideological hegemony... the global system is producing and reproducing a transnational managerial elite... Whatever the hemisphere or stage of development, and whatever the economic, financial or political sector, the social relations of the new global elite are founded in a shared commitment to growth based modernization..." (The New Totalitarianism: Cyber-hegemony and the Global System) [FR]

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"While each scientific theory selects out and abstracts from the world's complexity a peculiar set of relations, philosophy cannot favor any particular region of human enterprise. Through conceptual experimentation it must construct a consistency that can accommodate all dimensions of experience, whether they belong to physics, physiology, psychology, biology, ethics, etc.." (Alfred North Whitehead) [FR]

"Creativity is the principle of novelty. Creativity introduces novelty into the content of the many, which are the universe disjunctively. The creative advance is the application of this ultimate principle of creativity to each novel situation which it originates. The ultimate metaphysical principle is the advance from disjunction to conjunction, creating a novel entity other than the entities given in disjunction. The novel entity is at once the togetherness of the 'many' which it finds and also it is one among the disjunctive ' many' which it leaves; it is a novel entity, disjunctively among the many entities which it synthesises. The many become one, and are increased by one. In their natures, entities are disjunctively 'many' in process of passage into conjunctive unity... Thus the 'production of novel togetherness' is the ultimate notion embodied in the term concrescence. These ultimate notions of 'production of novelty' and 'concrete togetherness' are inexplicable either in terms of higher universals or in terms of the components participating in the concrescence. The analysis of the components abstracts from the concrescence. The sole appeal is to intuition." (Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 26) [FR]

"Alfred North Whitehead... said that history grows toward what he called a "nexus of completion." And these nexuses of completion themselves grow together into what he called the "concrescence." A concrescence exerts a kind of attraction, which can be thought of as the temporal equivalent of gravity, except all objects in the universe are drawn toward it through time, not space. As we approach the lip of this cascade into concrescence, novelty, and completion, time seems to speed up and boundaries begin to dissolve. The more boundaries that dissolve, the closer to the concrescence we are. When we finally reach it, there will be no boundaries, only eternity as we become all space and time, alive and dead, here and there, before and after. Because this singularity can simultaneously co-exist in states that are contradictory, it is something which transcends rational apprehension. But it gives the universe meaning, because all processes can be seen to be seeking and moving in an effort to approximate, connect with, and append to this transcendental object at the end of time." [FR]

"Process metaphysics, in general, seeks to elucidate the developmental nature of reality, emphasizing becoming rather than static existence or being. It also stresses the inter-relatedness of all entities. Process describes reality as ultimately made up of experiential events rather than enduring inert substances." [FR]

"The always located at 'nodal points' of specific communications circuits....No one, not even the least privileged among us, is ever entirely powerless over the messages that traverse and position him at the post of sender, addressee, or referent." (Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition) [FR]

"This sense of secret sharing helps explain the growing desire to transcode the real, as when one signal source (Web traffic, a trumpet, the rate of rainforest loss) is translated into data that mutates into another form (3D models, machine rhythms, articulations of a robot arm). What exactly happens in these events? Are the patterns and affects suggested by such processes part of the world, or simply artifacts of the criteria of translation? This ancient problem–is the form in the world or the eye?–suspends itself in the new operations of the transcoding mix, which makes the phenomena it describes. The nodes around us – the nodes that we are – are not passive switches, but grow in strength and insight through their range of materials, the nature and novelty of their connections and mutual exchanges. Cosmic eros is not exhausted, and implosion may only be a media-induced hallucination of an emerging nest of integration." (Erik Davis, Anchors Aweigh!) [FR]

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