Context for the Discussion on Civilisation (#1279)
The First Cambrian Explosion
The Second Cambrian Explosion
(#1215) Higher Level Evolution - Second Cambrian Explosion
(#1221) Growth and Decay of Civilisation
(#1228) Informal/Formal Structures and Organic/Mechanistic Perspectives
(#1229) Transitional Phases are Unbalanced - with awareness we may participate
(#1250) Civilizational cycles and the direction of the process
(#1258) Approaching the future
(#1318) Sustainability and Balance of Power
Also see other excerpts from my discussions with the Society for Scientific Exploration.
This is a description of some aspects of the context that underlies the discussion on global change. There are countless ways of conceiving and describing such things - this is just one attempt to provide a little food for thought and perhaps ground the discussion a little so that it doesn't float off too much into mental abstractions and intricate particulars with uncertain connections to the underlying reality of the situation. I will continue on to the promised meta-analysis in a few days when I am not so busy.
For now forget all high level concepts such as politics, religion, economics, nations, people, etc. We will gradually work towards these. I shall begin from simple principles and work toward more complex high level principles, hence at first many concepts shall be undefined and cannot be used. However for the sake of being able to discuss anything at all words shall be used hence concepts shall be used - but here lies a subtlety. In any approach toward cognising reality there is first an underlying reality (which cannot be truly defined), then there is an experience of that reality which presents itself to consciousness (such as the raw `objects' of sensory experience), then there is a mental representation associated with that experience (an idea) and associated with these there is also an objective referent (a word or symbol of some form). Generally people blur all these together; the word, the idea, the object of knowledge and the underlying reality. This is called judicial reasoning and is a form of cognitive sloppiness that blurs the nature of reality and makes it seem that `reality' is directly cognisable to the mind. However only the abstractions are known to the mind and there are many examples of perceptual illusions that teach us the fallibility of our experience, knowledge, concepts and words, but still people blur these things instinctively. Judicial reasoning can keep one locked into a single paradigm and prevent one from realising the deeper subtleties that underlying all experiences, concepts and words.
However initially in this discussion we begin from a very simple set of concept and the experiencer has yet to be defined so there can be no experience, hence also no concepts or words which can be associated with the underlying reality. But in order to talk about this underlying reality I shall still borrow some of our high level words to indirectly refer to the underlying reality but remember to only use these as vague referents and don't blur the words, ideas and experiences with the reality itself that is being hinted at.
First imagine an abstract information process, this is a non-local quantum computational context. Here there is only a field of potentialities and no actualities; at this level probability is the real `substance' of reality. The waves of probability are not localised and bound by concepts of space and time, however they do have associations with such concepts that will arise later. These quantum `calculations' underlie all dynamics - and each calculation is a computation involving the whole of the quantum computational space of potentialities. Thus at this level there is no separation, no isolation, no distance and no actualities whatsoever, there are simply no classical `entities' or objects in space and time with distinct location and duration. However these waveforms abstractly define the potential for such classical entities. Within the field of potential there are peaks and troughs of probability, these waves interfere and thereby, from some perspectives, the yet to-be- actualised entities can be thought of as interacting. These wave dynamics result in reinforcement of some probabilities and diminution of others and this results in a phenomenon that is later conceived of as the `collapse' of the wavefunction, and which gives rise to the experience of distinct actual existence that includes the concepts of space and time. Within this resulting spatio-temporal context the underlying wavefunction dynamics lead to change and coherent dynamics, which can be thought of as the `flow' of existential stuff; this can be conceived of via the concept of `energy'.
Now we have a time-space field of energy. Imagine a pattern of energy, it is a complex, dynamically fluctuating pattern. There are many levels of patterns within patterns, within patterns and so on. There are patterns merging with other patterns, patterns arising out of patterns, patterns combine and evolve and bifurcate. This dance of energy has no intrinsic meaning but by semantic self-reference distinctions arise within their own contexts. It is not random but coherently self-organised - with respect to the time scales that will be considered later it has been going on a long time and is quite stabilised. Not static but also not random or erratic.
Now lets call a moderately persistent pattern a `system', these arise out of underlying pattern dynamics and dissipate into the underlying pattern dynamics. Patterns flow into the system, these are input signals (perception), these input patterns merge with the internal patterns within the system (interpretation), the system changes state (experience), these evolving internal patterns may then result in some output signal or out going patterns (response).
In this way systems can pass patterns between themselves thereby communicating and interacting. As the systems interact they form networks of dependencies, these arise spontaneously and dissipate, some lasting longer than others, some more robust than others. Systems are bound by these networks of interactions and they form higher level systems; higher-level patterns. These patterns within patterns self-organise and build toward more complexity. Eventually there arise high-level systems with very complex and evolved perceptual / interpretive / experiential / responsive apparatus. These systems I will call organisms. Some of these develop intricate internal feedback loops so that they not only richly perceive and experience the incident energy patterns or sensory signals, they also experience their own experiencing and furthermore they experience the experience of experiencing. This leads to self-experience. These organisms I will call sentient beings.
Many organisms to varying degrees can represent their experiences to themselves, which underlies the phenomenon of knowing and knowledge. But the sentient beings possess this capacity to a considerable degree. They represent themselves to themselves as `I' or `me' and they therefore divide the world into `I' and `other' (everything that is not `I'). They take their internal complexity for granted because their senses give no direct access to this context. They focus outward through their senses, taking it for granted that sensory experience is their reality. They experience the objects of the senses and wrap these in concepts, which are formed into mythologies or systems of relations, which are gradually refined. This process of self-representation is the formation of ego and the stories that are woven about the `I' character forms the self-image, the life story and the experience of being-in-the-world. When these beings look upon each other they tend to interpret via their conceptual frameworks and they thereby resonate on the level of personality to personality. But if they really stopped and looked with an open mind they would see the cosmos in action, the universe itself looking back at them, and they are also the cosmos in action.
As they come to communicate their subjective experiences and concepts they associate the ideas with words, i.e. they learn the technology of vibrating parts of themselves to elicit vibrations in other parts of the other. They also later associate these vibrational experiences with visual symbolic experiences. In this way subjective sensory experiences are conceptualised and communicated and give rise to a collective objective mythology of a "world out there" that has separate existence and persistence that is independent of any ones experience of that world.
When patterns encounter patterns they don't pass right through each other, they interact. When a high level system interacts with another system it ultimately does so via the lowest level systems, but these are beyond the experiential range of the high level system so the experience is generalised and experienced as `solid' or `squishy' or so on. The `stuff' of these experiences is conceptualised as `matter', which is a mythological solid `stuff' out of which all things are supposedly `made'.
Thus the mythology of the "world out there" proposes that all things are made of matter and that matter is simply existent and its behaviour is a priori a part of its existence. There can be no deeper questioning than this, it is the foundation of the mythology. This is traditional materialism, a simplistic mythological belief system that contains many unquestioned superstitions about the origins, properties and nature of that mythological substance `matter'. All kinds of mythological entities are conceptualised to explain the experiences and knowledge of the various patterns of energy. Concepts such as particle, atom, molecule, grain, chunk, piece, ball, disc, cell, wave, medium (such as water), sound, light, organ, organism, species, group, community, organisation, company, society, nation, continent, culture, civilisation, humanity, planet, and on and on. Underlying all of these concepts there is usually some form of energy pattern or energy phenomenon, but the concepts are usually simplistic objectivisations of subtle subjective experiences which are themselves just sensory perceptions interpreted via instinctive belief systems.
All these mythologies are structured using a cognitive tool called rationality. These beings are intrinsically irrational - they are products of evolutionary refinement not logic. However they learn to use aspects of their inner energy dynamics (thoughts) to follow through with logical computations of the relations between concepts. Thus within particular narrow contexts they are capable of being rational. This is analogous to the use of arithmetic. However many of them then irrationally come to the belief that they are rational beings and this belief is for many, not a belief but a self evident fact, although it goes unquestioned by such people. Are we also arithmetic beings because we can do arithmetic? No, we are not irrationally attached to arithmetic whereas many are irrationally attached to the idea of rationality.
Now we have high-level sentient beings, which experience and interpret their experience of existence via a collectively and sensorially reinforced mythology of materialism and rationality. They dwell entirely within a "mind made world" - here I define `world' as an "experiential context". They conceive of themselves as objects in space and engage in physical power based relations with other objects in space.
This is the nature of their belief system, it defines their organising principle, which is that central transformation matrix that maps perception into experience and then into response. In principle this is just like the DNA within a cell, an input signal generates a cascade of internal cellular processes all guided by the DNA and ultimately causing the cell to interpret and respond to the signal. This mapping determines every aspect of the system's programmable behaviour, some behavioural traits are `hardwired', e.g. cells operate on an electro-chemical level, ears operate on vibrations, etc. But much of behaviour is programmable by the internal interpretive and responsive transformation matrix, or "belief system". If the DNA of every cell in an organism changed, the organism would become a different species of being. This phenomenon over time is central to the process of evolution and adaptation, and this process is not driven by random mutation (which has been shown to be inadequate). Just as belief systems migrate along paths of viability and tend to settle into regions of stability, so too with DNA. In this manner organisms and organisations change from the level of individuals through to the emergent properties of the collective.
Remember that underlying all these words, ideas and objects of experience are patterns within patterns that themselves rest upon a totally non-local non-classical sea of probability waves. These patterns are fully self-referential - the patterns are systems and signals as well as collectively forming the medium through which the signals propagate and in which the systems exist. There are only systems but in different contexts these systems take on seemingly different roles and forms depending on how the information is being perceived and interpreted, by which systems and in which context. Now consider the concept of memes. We have many sentient minds with complex conceptual frameworks, these are linked into cultural networks (like computers forming the global cyber-space) they give rise to a mind-space. This is a medium within which memes can arise; they are persistent, propagating modifications of the mind or cognitive viruses. These form an ecosystem within the mind space, they move from mind to mind, they form systems of dependencies and they manifest dynamically evolving patterns of concepts. As certain meme complexes come to dominance within a mind this is experienced as a belief system or a worldview. The sentient being comes to interpret their perceptions via the memetic lens and thereby experience their world in a manner that is defined by the memetic lens. These worldviews propagate between minds and whole networks of minds become hosts to various memetic cultures. Often these memetic cultures are hostile to each other and our own minds and cultures become the battleground for memetic struggles.
One strong symbiotic relationship in the modern world is between high- level collectives of cells that are called individual humans, high- level collectives of humans that are called nations and memetic complexes that are called cultures. Many of these humans conceive of the world solely through these cultural memetic lenses and think only in terms of individual humans and nations. The memetic ecosystems are built up from many sub-memes associated with concepts of money, economics, politics, power, legislation, propaganda and so on. These high level abstract materialist concepts constitute the main content of most discourses between humans.
But we are made of many levels of sub-systems or patterns of energy, we are systems, we are host to ecosystems of systems, we form into collective systems which are themselves sub-systems within larger collectives. These complex many layered systems have incredibly complex and subtle dynamics but senses present a highly simplified view to the sentient being's consciousness. The I-thought believes in this simplistic view and thinks "I am" and "I am in control". This I- thought arises most strongly in organisms such as individual humans but also increasingly in organisations such as nations. But from within and without there is no egoic control, everything is a complex dance of coherent energy, only the cosmos as a whole controls the dance, at the quantum level there isn't even the possibility of individual entities, let alone individual isolated control. Belief in "free will" is an egoic superstition, a rationalisation after the action has taken place. Just as the ego seeks to own the perceived entity it also seeks to own the actions of that entity, but the entity is a mirage resolved out of the underlying cosmic dynamics via a perceptual process.
These sentient beings are vast collectives of sub-systems and they collectively form into vast super-systems. Some call the manner in which ensembles of individual systems form into higher-level systems a meta-system-transition. It is the system interactions that bind systems together into collectives - not just proximity - it is the interaction `bandwidth', which is closely related to energy. Thus a particular system becomes a sub-system of a collective by interacting within that collective milieu. In some systems the interactions are based on physical proximity so physical `clumping' arises, but for sentient beings in a civilisation the interactions may be complex and dynamic. They may be based on proximity, mutual interest or dependency, available communication lines and so on. Civilisations may overlap - a being may partake in several milieus to varying degrees. Civilisations are very complex and fluid high-level beings within a very fluid environment. Some are localised around geography or ideologies, etc and some are polymorphic and constantly changing shape and organisational structure.
These sentient beings are mind oriented phenomena (I-thought or ego) but they have bodies (which is how they experience and conceptualise their underlying energy pattern). These bodies give rise to `biological' appetites and needs, these are conceptualisations of the underlying dependencies in the pattern dynamics. These needs are also adapted and re-contextualised to give rise to mind originated appetites and needs. These lead to agendas, expectations, hopes and so on. These agendas give rise to concepts of good and bad, right and wrong, and so on. At the level of fluctuating patterns of energy there is no right or wrong but to these beings their whole experience of reality is overlaid with `values'. Right and wrong seem real and tangible to them because that is how they interpret and thereby experience their reality.
This overlay of good and bad permeates all their conceptual frameworks. In one particular example, these beings perceive the changes in their experienced world and they project these into an imagined future. They say this direction is good or bad depending on how they perceive and interpret the situation, how they extrapolate it and what their hopes, expectations and various attachments and dependencies are. They generally operate within their own narrow experiential context. Within these narrow contexts they attempt to be rational, but narrow rationality, when considered from a wider context is invariably irrational because the context is limited by assumptions and preconceptions that conceal unquestioned irrationalities.
Hence many discourses arise about the state of the world, the direction of change, the future and so on. These are permeated with the I-thought induced concepts of individual control and mechanistic intervention. They cannot conceive of the idea that the cosmic energy pattern is performing its own holistic dance. They think "I own this", "I control that" and so on. They think they must "do something", but that idea only arises within the materialist objective mythology. Within the underlying reality of non-local wavefunctions and patterns of energy the best thing that can be done is to tune into and align with the holistic dance, i.e. to reach for harmony. It is the naïve mistaken materialist objective mythology that has caused beings to lose track of the subtle rhythm and flow of the cosmic dance and to produce disharmony. To bring a return to health the must first tune in on a personal scale and then as more people do this it naturally leads to harmony on collective scales.
Along side the development of empiricist materialist approaches based on acceptance of the senses - there are also a small number of sentient beings that are not as outwardly focused. They turn within - not into the mind made world of objective simplified concepts and mechanistic materialist mythologies. They engage with subjective inner experience and explore the vast complexities of sub-systems - the inner civilisation of trillions of sub-beings, the many layers of worlds within worlds. These are spaces of subtle, unspeakable experiences and states of being that cannot be objectified, hence the objective world mythology cannot comprehend them. From these subtle experiences other mythologies have arisen; spiritual mythologies, shamanic and mystic mythologies. Often analogies were borrowed from the objective mythologies but these often led to confusion amongst those who had only passing exposure to them, no deep interest, and who were not inwardly prepared for the subtle understanding required to comprehend them. This led to a growing culture of demonisation of the subjective realm and increasingly many minds became closed to this aspect of existence due to preconceptions and misunderstandings. These analogies were also deliberately corrupted to form political `religions', which may have been founded with good intentions but were based on fundamental misunderstandings. They gave rise to entirely materialist objectivist interpretations of the spiritualist subjectivist mythologies. Hence corrupted spirituality has done double damage by obscuring the truth of the inner mythologies and by spreading delusional mythologies through the world.
However true spirituality is a sincere and open relationship with one's self. A return to the source of one's being and through that recognising the common source of all beings and the cosmos as a whole. This leads to understanding that is far subtler than objective concepts can comprehend. One can comprehend with one's whole being rather than just the language making, calculating intellect. One can experience with one's whole inner being rather than just one's senses and mind, which are often dominated by the materialist interpretive lens.
In this way one can penetrate through the mind made world and engage fully with the underlying reality. One can then dance as a pattern of energy amidst the cosmic dance of energy, rather than play with sense based intellectual concepts and thereby remain just an isolated object in space. As this realisation dawns, all perceived separation evaporates and all motives, tactics, agendas, desires, etc that arise from the egoic illusion of separation become outmoded and irrelevant.
As a child I once had a pet puppy that thought its tail was another dog following it. It would whirl about snarling and biting at the other dog until it was exhausted. When it bit the other dog the other dog would instantly bight it back inflicting pain and it would yelp and snarl and whirl even harder. It savaged its tail, giving itself blood poisoning and eventually gangrene - it did not last long in the world. If it realised that the `other' was a vital part of it's self there would be no struggle and conflict. Cooperation needn't be legislated, it arises naturally of its own accord. Only then can there be deep and abiding harmony and health.