Topic: Life: shapes of the ideomorphic
Member # 599
posted 22. December 2002 14:59
This is an attempt to put further flesh on the idea that life is the expression and outcome of a gnostic principle. You will not find equations and formulae in my posts (not that I am criticising such), because my mind does not work that way. I really have to bring my whole self as a thinking, intuiting being to an argument, or I cannot frame insight in such a way that it gives me confidence I am on the right track. Implicit in this point of view is my belief that while science may prove necessary in the understanding of the living world, it will not prove sufficient. I express it to you in this way: if the world is a form of gnostic presence then a science “of” consciousness will never get to the bottom of it, only a science (or a science + something else) in consciousness will be capable of doing that.
I am sensitive (as my previous post indicated) to the desire or need to attach any viewpoint with empirics. However, *if* in our habituated thought patterns we have misidentified the world or the nature of life, then the deeper down that misidentification lies, the harder it will be to discover some specific empirical test (as it is difficult to construct a litmus test on the “nature of the world”). A weaker (but still productive) point of attachment to empirics is to interpret phenomena, hopefully a broader range of phenomena, in terms of a postulated model. This I can do more easily than provide a specific test. I am not sure that a “specific test” is even possible or appropriate, as, in a sense I am talking at a deeper level of contact than any specific model or theory…about “the way the world is” (or might be, or probably is, as I see it) and the consequences of this for our formulations of life, evolution, and ourselves (to take but three).
This is grandiose territory to be sure, but if you will indulge me in the “bringing to the table” of that whole self I spoke of above, I contend that we may uncover some meaningful (or at least challenging) thoughts. However, at the end of the day, I would like you to think of these as a set of indicators, no more. A set of things that might be true and that give a flavour (when tasted with that whole-being approach) of being true. But I am not about to call it a hypothesis or a theory.
When I say that a gnostic principle underlies the world, what do I mean by gnostic? I do not just mean consciousness. Indeed, we do not have a readily available word in the language, so it is worth pausing a moment to clarify what I see as the distinction. By gnostic I mean that which is sufficiently agentic to will or embody its own purpose, whether or not it is consciously aware of that will or that purpose. Consciousness and gnosis (in my use) are not the same. Consciousness is a late-stage development of gnosis, and a late stage too in evolution, a seeing of its own light. Most of the natural world is not like this. It gropes in a proto-conscious gloom, like the sleepwalker who feels his way downstairs. He is a gnostic system, but he is not aware that he is a sleepwalker!
I will say a little her about the subject of teleology. I do not intend to say much, because actually, it can become a distraction. An aim towards a goal, then, is something that makes sense within a form of consciousness that experiences a temporal separation. But, since I would maintain that the gnostic ground does not dwell in a temporal separation, the final or deepest statement achievable with respect to this is that life has no ultimate meaning but to express itself. Again, to put this in alternative words: an organism becomes, on the part of the Gnostic Field (ground), a meaningful arrangement, a will to its own purpose, even if that purpose is only to exist or experience in a certain form.
In our temporal world, however, we can say as an approximation (ie with a certain corrosion of truth) that the “purpose” or “goal” of life is to unfold understanding and self-aware experience out of the prima materia that is this heaving, groping, unconscious mass embodying the rest of life. The depending, under-conscious corpus of life’s iceberg. Life has formed us, so to speak, to throw the light of being upon its own primal, seething darkness (darkness in the sense of un-self-aware, unknowing, not of evil or corrupt). Switching back a moment to our deeper view, this is really all the means by which the gnostic ground “knows itself”. With Plato we can then agree that Time is the “moving, unreal reflection of Eternity” (though doing so does not commit us to agreeing with everything Plato said!).
Now I come to an important issue, which I reckon to be the lead in to potentially illuminating territory. In a recent thread by Micah, he pointed out to me that David Chalmers had postulated a material and experiential component to each event or object (if I have understood this correctly). I have for some time, although most certainly with much less rigour, adopted a similar view. I am not sure whether the veering of an electron has per se an experiential component, but clearly, a view of the world supported by a gnostic ground asserts that at least a basal gnostic presence is ultimately everywhere, inhabiting all patterns and forms.
We are faced with this problematic issue of the relationship between “mind” and “matter”, or to express it again, between meaning and form. One can take the view that meaning (mind) springs from form (matter) after some fashion. I personally do not find this view to be finally satisfactory, as it does not actually explain anything about consciousness at all. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be correct, of course, but I find it very difficult to imagine how the nature of this emergence (being, ie presence, from non-being) could ever be articulated, and I am not yet (perhaps never!) prepared to make that sacrifice. Also, my instincts are inclined to whisper to me a more wholesome relationship between the ground of human experience and universal truth, a relationship reflected objectively in the fact that we are capable of understanding the world at all, and that certain of our mental abilities (eg mathematical aptitude) appear capable of establishing a connection, at least with the world of our sensory experience.
So I began to think upon the following lines, to see where it would lead. Suppose that there are two things called “mind” and “matter”, but the nature of their division, if division it be, is not quite as we have seen it. Contemplate instead that these two facts are like opposite poles of some larger or more inclusive reality, or (again)…I always like to offer at least two images if I can!…the opposite extremities emerging from a central pivot. At one end we have “matter”, at the other end “mind”, most specifically conscious, everyday, waking mind. But already we can detect that our image has delivered us into a radically different situation. “Matter” may indeed be a useful category, a worthwhile approximation for most everyday tasks and concepts (as, perhaps, Newtonian mechanics is a reasonable approximation, most of the time, to a deeper, relativistic truth about masses and motions). But we can already see here, I think, that there can be no such thing as “matter” wholly independent from the mental existence opposed to it, or counterbalancing it, and vice versa. This division, or projecting into opposites, would seem to be a function of our experience, or cognitive structure. There is no guarantee at all that it actually exists outside of the matrix of our perceptions. However, we are within our perceptions, so from there we must take our view.
We can further say then that the facts of our experience fall out more or less into one or the other of these two categories. A stone bouncing down a hill we call matter, and an inspiration or an emotion we call a mental event, and indeed, scarce connection can be found between the two. Except:-
If we are not conducting our search anywhere near the pivot, if we do not know or realise to cast our gaze in that direction, if we do not even suspect the existence of such a pivot in the first place, or if it is difficult to access because of that selfsame cognitive structure and the objects of our technology (which are prostheses to that structure), then we glean some inkling of why we cannot find the connection. To be precise, the connection is a deeper embedding of the world, where these two apparently distinct principles are in fact united, and work in concert from that centre.
Now we have arrived at a critical juncture. There is no word in our language for such an event, or such an action, so I will (reluctantly perhaps) have to invent one. But what would that be like? What would an “event” look like that moved simultaneously on a fused founding principle of meaning and matter, gnosis and form? And, to whet your appetite a little, what would it mean…for instance in terms of an evolutionary event…to say that an “idea” moves or “takes shape” at that level? I will call such an event ideomorphic, to capture some sense of this unified agency. Let me further call any system or ‘object’ or event, acting primarily from this deeper, pivotal source of behaviours and actions, an ideomorph.
Based on our discussion so far, we can make certain predictions about the likely behaviour of an ideomorph.
* We are likely to discern in them co-expression of meaning and form, gnosis and substance, mind and matter.
* They shall simultaneously be symbols and the reality those symbols refer to (a symbol is a mental form depicting a thing, but when the form is no longer ‘simply’ mental, then when the “ideational” component takes up the will to stand for something, it has the potential to become that something)
* If experienced internally to the mind, they bear a “mental charge” that can profoundly affect consciousness (they are causally potent forms, appearing to our inner experience, as it were, facing from the pivot in the direction of our mental life, as something akin to Jung’s archetypes).
* If experienced in the world, they will likely be imbued with systems of auspicious or striking meaning (again, facing from the pivot, as it were, in the direction of “material form”). Thus, their constellating force has a tendency to revolve around a certain of significance
Perceiving these properties, we are now in a stronger position to identify certain systems, objects, or events in our world (and mind) as strong candidates for ideomorphic origin.
* ORGANISMS THEMSELVES. What are these lumps of “matter with an attitude” (or , if you prefer, “attitude with a lump”) that bumble around in our world? How come it has proved so difficult to identify, let alone illuminate, the point of articulation between the mental and the material, despite having searched almost every square millimetre of the brain? What are we ourselves?
* MEANINGFUL COINCIDENCES. Due to our habituated thinking, we cannot recognise this as an “actual category”, so whenever they happen to us (and they happen to most of us at once time or another) we are forced into the defensive…either explaining them away as “coincidences” (statistically, there was a certain chance of that picture falling off the wall just as your father died, after all) or as projections of our own subjectivity (we see in them the meanings we want to be there). Notice how each of these strives to account for the anomalous event either in terms of “matter” or of “mind”.
One of my favourites in this department concerned the death of a beekeeper called Mrs Bell. Interestingly she also lived very near to a street corner, one branch of which was called “Bell Lane” and this sign was actually visible from her house. At her funeral a swarm of bees showed up (not her own). Not only that, but later, as the bemused mourners were returning home, this swarm actually settled directly beneath the street sign for Bell Lane, almost as if they were a living point to an exclamation mark.
Now I put it to you: we are challenged to understand the import of such an event aright, and what it means for the creatrix of potentials acting within our world. Let’s review this in the light of the properties we deduced as indicative of the ideomorphic. We have a centre of significance. Someone’s death. Indeed, the death of a beekeeper is actually of mythic import, though it is improbable that this was known to Mrs Bell or any at her funeral. It expresses co-ordinately in the “material” and “mental” worlds simultaneously. In other words, a “meaningful arrangement” is formed. Now what we should ask ourselves here is this: if such a meaningful arrangement can be caused “out there” in the world, then why cannot it be caused elsewhere too….such as in the physical structure of an animal or plant. And the answer is soon upcoming: there is no reason at all why it could not occur in the former and not in the latter, though, as indicated previously, the “centre of significance” is different…in the latter case, the will to exist or experience in a certain form.
There are a collection of other things that I will nominate in passing as strong candidates for the ideomorphic, without labouring the point quite so far.
* Mythological structures, and the way they can become “embodied” in historical events by inscrutable chains of seemingly unconnected incidents.
* Stigmata…the mind contemplates a form with such emotional passion, aimed at such a high centre of mythic significance (the sacrificial death of a religious saviour) that the ideomorphic is stirred and cause moves from the pivot. If the pattern disturbed to activity in the unconscious is of sufficient ontological gravity to be taken as an ideomorph, then its arousal from a dormant state may have consequences for the world’s physical description as well as for the wtiness’s perceptions.
* A whole raft of presently “unexplained” phenomena which have their roots in this realm and in these sorts of causes. Please note: the particular forms taken are (for our purposes here, at least) irrelevant. The critical point to hold on to is that an “idea”, moving from the ideomorphic pivot, can take up and express as a form, whether it be transitory, as an apparition of the Virgin, Bigfoot, whatever, or whether it be stable and more permanent, as in the unravelling of a new context of experience, a new species, a new shape of life, a new ideomorph. Again, I urge you not to focus on the forms and thus give yourself too easy an excuse for dismissal. The forms may well be absurd, even ludicrous. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the relationship between gnosis and form and a causality that emerges from a deeper fusion of the two.
I wish to mount another piece of argument by observation here, and its relation to the above concepts as they apply (as I see it) in the structure of the human organism. This is the subject of sleep.
I believe that the reason we do not understand sleep is because it is a behaviour of the ideomorphic will underlying the surface structure of form and mind, and because we do not correctly understand the nature of life’s unconscious processes. To move into this, let me first say that where we acknowledge the “unconscious” at all, we think of it as a kind of lightweight thing, a sort of mental-only thing. Or else we conceive of it as mere epiphenomena of matter (not unlike certain viewpoints on our minds themselves).
If, however, there is some worth to these ideas, we will by now recognise the following fact. If we “start” a journey in the light of waking, conscious mental forms, and start to move away into the dark, towards the benthic depths of the unconscious, then we are moving in the direction of the pivot. The deeper we travel into those mysterious purposes and forms, the less “exclusively mental” and more ideomorphic they become. Precisely the same analogy applies if we start at the visible surface of the body’s forms and move away. The pivot is not directly observable in the empirical world because our senses are not ideomorphic.
Here we arrive at another critical idea. The body and the waking mind are opposite poles of the ideomorphic unconscious supporting the living organism. That unconscious, the ideomorphic dimension of its reality, is primary, whereas the rational mind and material body are but end points or symptoms of its expression.
Now let’s pause to think about this for a moment. That unconscious is primary. But what I am going to suggest to you now is that the expression of a clear, capable, brain-enabled, sharply focused consciousness, is a project that uses up a very great portion of its living presence, or energy, or attention, or whatever we want to call it (I prefer, attention). Because it uses so much, because waking consciousness is such a high-burning halogen lamp for the gnostic principle, so to speak, there are other aspects in the total organism which suffer to some extent while it is active. In other words, attention of the ideomorphic unconscious is drawn away from the body and “leans” heavily in the direction of sustaining consciousness. Remember, by our criteria, this pivotal, underlying reality is the progenitor of both daughter states, mind and matter. They cannot survive without it. The agentic presence of the ideomorphic is what “sums over” a given collection of spurious materials to make it more or less alive; it is the source of the “meaningful arrangement” that invests it. So waking consciousness, as we know it, cannot be sustained indefinitely. The unconscious must shut it down to give attention to the body.
This it does in deep sleep, which is the first sleep to be entered. While it is in this phase, there is no conscious presence at all, not even a quasi-dream persona, for even that uses up a certain measure of attention that the unconscious has available to give. However, just as the material body has its primacy in the ideomorphic unconscious, so do the forms of consciousness, and a phase of sleep is also provided where those are processed on their own terms. But this is not a “computer-like processing”. This is processing in terms of the unconscious, where the proto-morphic and the proto-mythic flow together in protean fashion.
Moreover, in sleep there is an oscillation between deep and REM (dreaming) states. This oscillation is necessary because the two activities compete with each other for the attention of the unconscious. The one cannot be done efficiently in the context of the other. Deep sleep, then, restores the deficit to the body and dream sleep processes waking experience according to the terms of the unconscious, where (I would guess) it finds its appropriate place among the unconscious, mythic forms of the race.
You will see that I have said very little about genetic studies, natural selection, fitness landscapes et al. This is partly on purpose, because I wanted to steer the discussion down a “road less travelled”. But make no mistake: I have taken you there because I believe that on that road there are critical signposts to what is actually going on. Signposts which, if my reading is even partly correct, have potentially profound significance for our understanding of life and evolution.
A great deal more could be said…about the structure of mythological systems, about so called out of body experiences, which provide substantial empirical confirmation with respect to the above ideas about sleep. I have not done so partly to avoid the risk of moderative wrath. You should not be too surprised or upset that some of this material resides in the highly controversial or anomalous. It is quite natural that this should be the case, because that is precisely where our blind spot lies. Because we do not (yet) have the correct vocabulary of concepts for what is going on there (and for which the above is but a bare beginning) we do not even recognise such things as a valid category we should be talking about, let alone relevant to the deeper questions of life.
I should say, finally, that there are at least two top-level ways in which the relationship of this material to the Darwinian world view can be considered (provided that we are talking about a methodological Darwinism and not a philosophical materio-reductionist Darwinism, with which it is wholly incompatible). In principle, the “meaningful forms” of life might be there implicitly, and it is the business of evolution to eke them out, somewhat after the fashion in which a genetic algorithm discovers its solutions in search space. This is not the version I favour, but I put it across as one way in which a Darwinist can legitimately choose to believe in everything I have said, and remain a Darwinist, without feeling that anything fundamental has been sacrificed.
The second point of view, and the one I lean towards, is that organisms are specific outcomes of ideomorphic will; ie they do not pre-exist their incarnation or conception by such will, in some implicit or permutative sense. One can still take on board an awful lot of traditional biology without having to “burn libraries” or anything so hopelessly dramatic, although of course, some manner of adjustment would be required, I don’t pretend otherwise. It is only that in this instance an “elephant” does not pre-exist, implicitly, in a certain yet-to-be-discovered combination of genetic sequences and associated proteins. The elephant is a willed expression of the gnostic ground. The genetic sequences and associated proteins are but the vehicle for its material transmission through the world.
[ 22. December 2002, 21:30: Message edited by: Light Jaguar ]
Member # 599
posted 27. December 2002 16:51
Ok, some further comments are possible after a little reflection. I offer them to the Zen silence.
Seriously though, I recognise that no poster has a right to expect replies If, though, it was a universal opinion along the lines of “boy, is this guy a nut”, then I would probably appreciate the diagnosis…I could go off and bake cakes or something instead.
It is just that I can probably make more useful comments or observations on this material if stimulated by someone else’s thoughts. I know my own too well. Speaking of which…
I think I indicated in one of my posts that I have a little trouble, from my personal perspective, with the phrase “intelligent design”, because it tends to call forth implicitly an image or metaphor of artisan activity (potter’s wheel, sculpture etc). This is fine, and there are certainly large and legitimate areas within ID which formulate, or seem to formulate that way, but my take is a little different.
As you know, I think, it is my view that “meaningful arrangements” in the world come together as the result of agentic action by “gnostic intelligence”, an at least proto-conscious cosmic ground. I have for quite a while been fascinated by my suspicion of a relationship between cosmic creativity, if I may call it that, and human creativity, and my further suspicion that these are two branches of the same trunk.
Let’s look into that then. First of all we will defer for now (perhaps I shall comment on it later) the issue of how we are to *diagnose* a “meaningful arrangement”, where such is the constellating activity of gnostic intelligence. In other words, this is the issue of such measures as “complex specified information” and “irreducible complexity” etc. I should probably say for the record that I am a kind of agnostic on this issue. That is, I am not sure whether such an objective measure is possible or not. It depends on whether the outputs of conscious acts can be assigned to a mathematical formalism.
For my purposes here, I will simply describe the different categories by which I perceive “meaningful arrangement” to be emerging into our environment, and leave the question of diagnosis to one side. My first contention, then, will be that all forms of meaningful arrangement are really brought into being by gnostic agency. In a sense this is trivially true, as we are sure only of ourselves as beings who confer meaning upon a thing. Meaning we know to reside in ourselves, certainly, as thinking, feeling beings, wherever else we may speculate it to reside. This would not be sufficient on my terms though, as I have suggested all forms of life, including ourselves, as agents of gnostic intelligence.
The first way by which I suspect the emergence of meaningful arrangement (I would also suspect it to be the deepest and most profound way) is the direct constellation of forms and events by gnostic intelligence. In this category I would put the creation of living forms. Note that this viewpoint is not antithetic to evolution, indeed, evolution I would view as the means by which gnostic intelligence unravels these forms. Since the gnostic ground is proto-intelligent only, at least within the enclosed activities of this universe, we cannot assume that it can simply create anything “from scratch”. Its actions are groping, feeling, instinctoid. It moves forward from where it is in faltering steps, ratchet clicks.
The forms in this category are objectively meaningful, that is to say, they are outcomes or products realised by the gnostic will of the cosmos, for its own purpose.
Into this category I will also put those “meaningful coincidences” which can be so striking to us human beings. This, too, I would maintain is a direct arrangement of forms and events by the gnostic ground. However, in this case there is a twist. These events are, as it were, refracted through our human centre of meaning…at least, those we are capable of recognising. They are no longer objectively meaningful, as are life’s forms. They are still the product of a gnostic constellation…the proto-intelligent ground acting directly to create forms and events, but they are happening through us, or because of us: gnostic agency, yes, but its image within ourselves, since we are (on the map of conscious forms) an agent of it, a behaviour of it active and embodied in the world. I hope that is approximately clear at least, and has not suffered at the hands of my blunt description. I can amplify if necessary.
The second category of meaningful arrangement I propose to declare; the second most powerful but a substantial step down from the first, are the products of animal and of course especially human activity. I say “and of course especially human” only because the ability is so vastly increased in us and easier to spot. It is this activity to which we would normally attach the identifier “design”, ie generally speaking there is an artisan separated from the product. Into this category goes our works of engineering, a lot of our science, and of course out art. I will say a little bit more about art later, but for now, the important point is that humanity is the creative centre. Now I will note that what is happening here is ultimately the same thing….gnostic intelligence is finally the only source capable of meaningful arrangement. There is (in this outlook) no other. However, in this category it is really a gnostic constellation by proxy. No longer is it a direct action stirred up from the ground. Rather, we are the action stirred from the ground, and a secondary creative event, a kind of sub-creation, projects forth from us. The constellating potency of gnostic intelligence is still the one and only responsible agent, except that here its centre of action is in our scientific or artistic framing, our rational or aesthetic minds.
The third and final category of meaningful arrangement I propose to declare, and the weakest of the three, is arrangement by attribution. In this case, the object of attribution is not physically modified by any action of the constellating agent (generally a human). The classic case of this, just to give the short version, would be driving past a set of rocks or buttes in the landscape and saying “gee, that looks meaningful to me” or “gee, that looks like a work of art” (or a dog, or a face etc) and then driving on. You will notice that this is still a form of “meaningful arrangement”, but without causal impact, except for the individual.
To sum up on these three categories then:-
1) Gnostic Constellation
- Directly actioned by the universal ground
- Objectively meaningful
- the ‘art’ and ‘artisan’ are united in principle
- empirical world altered (usually, a living process emerging)
2) Creation by design
- Gnostic Constellation by proxy
- separation into ‘art’ and ‘artisan’
- much of this non-ideomorphic (clarification shortly)
- no longer objectively meaningful
- empirical world altered, but not by a “living” process
- No collective symptom outside consciousness of attributer (unless others share or are invited to share in the attribution)
- empirical world not directly altered.
I should now explain that the situation with respect to human beings has been simplified a little in the above for the purposes of clarity. Since I have stated my view that we are agents of the gnostic ground (we are, as it were, avatars or images of its potency, acting within an embodied form and with a diminished capability of actions limited by that form itself) it should not come as too much of a surprise if I say to you that our creative potentials, our gnostic constellation by proxy in reality extends over quite a range, varying among the individuals in our race. There is more than one thing going on in human beings that is being called “art”. At one extreme of this “art” there is really only arrangement by pure attribution, and thus by consensus with other attributers. However, at the other end of what is possible for human beings, the “meaningful arrangement” approaches the powers and potentials of the gnostic ground itself (there is only one ground and so, the ground of ourselves and the cosmic ground are at base the same). Since some among our (human) number insist on calling any and all music, for instance, just a “meaningful arrangement of sounds”, and since our language does not presently have the conceptual and linguistic equipment to recognise and ideomorphic form, we continue not to understand these creative potentials within ourselves. That is the very meaning of a talent; an individualised image of the gnostic field’s creative potential. It cannot be duplicated anywhere else, because that image or agency of the creative source is nowhere exactly duplicated. Music then is at source an ideomorph: it is a creative expression from a fused nexus of meaning and form. At its deepest it edges towards being objectively meaningful, for nothing that emerges directly from the gnostic intelligence of the ground is, by definition, ever anything other than objectively meaningful.
Art is almost certainly closer to ideomorphic creativity than the activities of science or engineering. This is in no sense intended to demean the latter; they are simply birds of a different feather. And of course, one can bring “art” into one’s engineering or science.
We are, I believe, close to the centre of a rather deep mystery here. And if we could only glimpse it aright, truly aright, we could probably leap forward in bounds of insight. One snag though: that ‘glimpsing’ is probably itself an ideomorphic event. Our inwardly intuitive forms are capable of ‘flashing over’, becoming outwardly meaningful or worthwhile in the empirical world, and, with that world there is a synergy, a point of articulation with our mathematical and aesthetic intuitions. As if this would be possible at all, if each did not dwell within the image of the other.
Finally, we can imagine a kind of scale for the creative activity of human beings, a scale that covers much of the sweep over the three categories we have explored above. At one end, mere attribution…I think this is meaningful, and I don’t care what you think. Next comes handiwork that emerges from some private notion, usually rational or conceptual in nature. Postmodern notions of art reside quite well here. In a similar are, or perhaps further along, reside our objects of engineering and science. A steam engine. There is an aspect of the objectively meaningful here…in the ‘scientific’ component, the behaviour of the device by ‘natural laws’, and the empirical world is changed. However, it is not ideomorphic, not really. It can be of course; I am just hinting at the rule, not the exceptions. The further along the scale we travel, the closer to art true and proper, and to the ideomorphic, we come. Music is rightly called the queen of the arts, for it is the closest thing in our empirical sensory experience to a pure ideomorphic form. But also: great painting and literature. Our only tragedy is that we are forced to realise these productions by proxy. Or are we…
Last, but perhaps not least (although admittedly with more speculation)…we could just carry on pressing that pointer to the left, further past the deepest of arts, and then what would happen? If it were possible….if it is possible….then a few exceptional human beings would be able to beget gnostic constellation of material forms directly by agency of the ground, or the ground in themselves. Surely, if telekinesis and the like exist at all, then here is what it is. Why else would seemingly spontaneous and unconscious outwellings of such phenomena appear so obsessed in the deepest fears and desires, the cosmic, religious, or sexual depths of our own psyche…the subterranean flow of our racial psyche, the very forms deep down at our own ideomorphic roots?
[ 27. December 2002, 16:56: Message edited by: Light Jaguar ]
Member # 164
posted 27. December 2002 22:18
Hello Light Jaguar -
If nothing else, you deserve some kind of response based on the thoroughness, elegance, and tone of your post. I wish other philosophical speculators were so humble, and made such an effort to be clear.
I specifically want to say that the diagnosis “boy, is this guy a nut” does not begin to occur to me in regards to your post (and I will admit that thought has crossed my mind at times about others with whom I discuss these issues.)
But beyond that, what you describe in its fundamentals (although not in all its details) comes closer to my own metaphysical leanings than most others.
I also appreciate it that you make it clear that what you are offering is not science, at least in the mainstream sense; as you say, only “science + something else” will get to the bottom of what life is all about - “while science may prove necessary in the understanding of the living world, it will not prove sufficient.” My own feeling is that much of the ID argument with evolution is motivated by a desire to put that “something else” on the same footing as science (based on the mistaken notion that science produces a better, or perhaps the only, form of knowledge that is worthwhile.) If we collectively agreed to take metaphysics seriously, give its due, and engage in truly collaborative discourse, we might be able to mend some of the huge philosophical rifts that exist among people.
But setting aside these thoughts on science, I would like to comment directly about your thoughts on gnosticism.
First, I see a lots of parallels between what you describe as gnosticism and what I understand as central ideas of Taoism. I also see influences of Jung (whom you mention and who was influenced by Taoism), and Buddhism Here are some elements of your ideas with which I agree, some phrased in Taoistic terms, some in gnostic terms, and some idiosyncratically I imagine phrased in my own terms.
1) The Tao, the ground of all being, is the source of the intelligence in the world, and all reality partakes of it This reality is everywhere: as you say, a “basal gnostic presence is ultimately everywhere, inhabiting all patterns and forms.”
2) You speculate that mind and matter, rather than being two separate things (either each independently existing or one an epiphenomena of the other,) “are like opposite poles of some larger or more inclusive reality, or …opposite extremities emerging from a central pivot.”
Taoism offers the principle of complementary duality - Yin/Yang - by which all things which come into existence from the Tao necessarily arise with their opposite. Furthermore, these opposites do not exist, as the Western world is prone to see opposites, as disjoint and dichotomous antagonists. Rather, these opposites always exist along a spectrum; and any incarnation of one quality always carries within it a potential to move back towards its other half - each gathers some of its nature and force by the existence within it of those things which it is not.
So it is not just mind and matter that partake of this property that you describe - all of reality (including being and non-being itself) partake of the qualities of yin/yang: life and death, matter and energy, matter and mind, good and evil, conscious and mechanical behavior, male and female, and so on.
3) Combining points 1) and 2) above, I strongly agree with you that underlying intelligence and will of the world is not conscious of itself, and that the intelligence of the world does not act in the world as the artisan acts upon the world (more on his later.) I agree that “consciousness is a late-stage development of gnosis, ... a seeing of its own light.” According to these ideas, we human beings are the current stage (and certainly not the final stage, I wouldn’t think) of a progressive condensation of consciousness that allows us to outpour a little bit of the intelligence (in this cosmic sense) that has been inpoured into us - as a the title to a song I know goes, we human beings “wake up to find out that [we] are the eyes of the world.”
4) On the other end of the spectrum from life, and especially conscious life, matter expresses the intelligence of the world in its adherence to laws, principles and relationships which are embedded with the power of logic and mathematics. In somewhat of a Platonic sense, mathematical order is imposed upon all material manifestations. However, unlike Platonism, these mathematical forms do not pre-exist separately from the material world in which they manifest themselves; rather, they appear concomitantly with material manifestation as an expression of the undifferentiation intelligence that is within the Tao (or gnostic ground.)
5) The key idea here, for me, is that while the Tao is beyond reality, it is not transcendently so. In respect to organisms, you write, “organisms are specific outcomes of ideomorphic will; ie they do not pre-exist their incarnation or conception by such will.” I agree with this statement about all of reality, not just about organisms. The Tao does not conceive and then create. The “conceptions” of the Tao arise precisely as they become manifest - they are not preconceived and then willed into existence.
6) I like very much your distinctions among the three kinds of “gnostic constellations” or “meaningful arrangements”: the direct products of the gnostic ground which constitute the material world (including everything from the most elementary aspects of the physical world, on the one hand, to conscious and creative organisms such as ourselves on the other); “gnostic constellation by proxy” or “creation by design” - a “secondary creative event, a kind of sub-creation, project[ing] forth from us;” and “gnostic constellation by attribution” by which we apply meaning to things that we did not directly create.
These distinctions bring me to a central point of agreement that I have with you: I, too, “have a little trouble ...with the phrase ‘intelligent design’, because it tends to call forth implicitly an image or metaphor of artisan activity”
The idea of “intelligent design” that is contained in the concept of a transcendent God such as that of Western monotheism, is, in my opinion, less persuasive than the gnostic or Taoistic ideas we are discussing here. Western ID, as we might call this, anthropomorphizes our sense of being a creative artisan and sees the universe as being a creative product of a similar but larger conscious entity: it takes “gnostic constellation by proxy” as the paradigm for the universe as a whole.
But such a view is mistaken: it is based on a misapprehension about our nature, and especially about the role that consciousness plays in our overall being.
So ID of the Western sort is excessively build upon an analogy with human design, and as such mistakenly thinks that “intelligent design” in biology arises from an artisan intervention rather than from the structure of nature itself.
Enough for now - I have run out of time, and would like to post what I’ve got. I would like to return to other topics later:
1) The unconscious, the mind and the body - how do they work together.
2) I would like to return to the subject of what can science know, and would the adoption of such a metaphysic as this change what science does.
3) The role of myth and religion - in what senses are they true and in what senses are they not?
I also would like to say that there are some things you discuss that I’m pretty sure I don’t believe in, including the cosmic coincidences, apparitions, genuine out-of-body experiences. My approach is more Western and less mystical than yours in this regard, I think. (However, I’ve recently had some personal experiences with eastern medicine that call some of my skepticism into question - but that’s another story.)
So, Light Jaguar - very interesting post, and full of things to respond to.
[ 27. December 2002, 22:40: Message edited by: Evan ]
Member # 380
posted 27. December 2002 23:56
This post will violate several rules, so the Moderator may elect to delete it. It's short and has no new content. Howsomever, I'll try.
In another thread initiated by LJ I said something about my intent to respond as, when, or if I had something coherent to say. I still don't. However, I (somewhat scarily) find myself understanding a dab of this thread, both LJ's and Evan's posts, agreeing with some of it, and wanting their conversation to continue so I can eavesdrop, or as one of my wife's students used to put it when she was teaching the deaf, eyedrop.
Member # 599
posted 28. December 2002 18:32
Thank you for your thoughtful and considered reply. Hi also to RBH—you are most welcome to eyedrop, and more.
A “philosophical speculator”; I like that, as it doesn’t paint me for what I’m not, that is, (not) a design theorist. Even though I feel a pang of guilt at being, in reality, not quite as humble as you suggest, I certainly would wish to avoid arrogance, which of course, in these topics, is universally misplaced in any case.
I am not deeply read on Taoism, although this has been said to me before, and I should probably repair the deficit. I have certainly read quite a bit of Jung, as you rightly point out, although I should say in my own defence that I can leave just as much of it as I can take.
I made a decision fairly early on not to front my curious and episodic thoughts as science, first of all because they aren’t science, of course, and also because my mind just seems to function better when I am not so restricted. Still, it would certainly be nice if anything I get to hinting at should in someways turn out to be empirically testable. It has given me an appreciation for how terribly hard that actually is, all the more so in these realms of ambiguous shadow and shifting twilight.
It is certainly my opinion that science has a special place of importance in the quest for knowledge. We are sitting here communicating in a discussion that would basically have been impossible without it. Likewise for the fire keeping me warm, the light illuminating my room etc, all of which I would not care to be without. But as with most other things, there is a risk of inflation with scientific thought. One can drink too deeply from its well and become intoxicated on its vapours. We need only think of Skinnerism, for instance.
My suspicions began to form that the kind of questions I was interested in wouldn’t be answerable by science alone, and so, I began exploring in a larger framework. This can create concepts of larger inclusion, but of course, there is some inevitable sacrifice of the kind of certainty at times achievable through science. This does not preclude the possibility that other kinds of certainty exist could they be but accessed, or, at some lesser exertion, other types of knowledge (as you say), or wider forms of speculation not entirely divorced from the truth.
I reckon ID is to some extent in danger of recapitulating an early error that psychology made: in so wishing to project itself as an embodiment of scientific thinking, and thus fend off the inevitable criticisms, it is in danger of shrink wrapping or freeze drying into anomalous forms the natural objects of its own chosen subject area. It may simply be a case of recognising that if we want “wider” answers, or answers that approach the dimensions of reality’s own incorrigible width, we may have to bring ‘wider questions’ to the effort. How do we do this? I’m darned if I really know. But I feel sure it is a foreshadowing of our future.
A few further comments at this time. You said:-
I strongly agree with you that underlying intelligence and will of the world is not conscious of itself
we human beings “wake up to find out that [we] are the eyes of the world.”
Not conscious in the sense of a ratiocinatory intellect, certainly, and probably not self aware. Nevertheless, the concept of “proto-psychoid” is distinct from that of the absolute absence of gnosis under materialism. Another thing worth mentioning here, in relation to a point you made. I agree with you that there is no division for gnostic ground or the Tao in terms of “conceiving the world” and then “doing the world”. There is no need for it to operate that way, and in any case, the absolute, undifferentiated gnostic ground could only exist outside of all time concept, unless “time concept” is somehow more fundamental than gnostic ground, which of course ushers us towards a contradiction at once. But, and it is quite a big but, I see the likelihood of a paradox here, and in it, there may well be a link to the paradoxical “nature” of Tao, of which you speak.
Things cannot possibly be “waiting around to happen” upon the gnostic ground, for if they were, then we have created some phantom timeline…somewhere, somewhen, which manages to condition the gnostic ground and thus has ontological power over it. Thus, in a sense, everything has already happened (this statement is vulgar of course…but the simplest way to express it, and the least wordy approximation, in the context of our worldly experience). This “everything that has already happened” is the fullness of existence, to be set beside the emptiness that is the gnostic ground. Thus, the total description of what IS must include these two opposites united in some abstract whole, else the bare existence of the world becomes problematic (I have never really held with the idea that the manifest exists for no purpose to be registered by the ground, and that the best we can do is surrender ourselves up to Shunyata the ultimate nirvana, or pole of universal emptiness).
You also said:-
The key idea here, for me, is that while the Tao is beyond reality, it is not transcendently so
That seems to trigger the following thought path for me. I like to think of gnostic field (itself just a metaphor of course) as being “both immanent in and transcendent of the world’s process-structure”. That is to say, we are wholly and absolutely embedded in this larger definition of reality, but it is the larger that is primary and not the smaller. I like to use the following analogy for the “ideomorphic”. Autostereograms (“magic eye pictures”) are images which conceal a “higher meaning” if observed or understood in a certain way. This synthesis is like reality’s higher description, the ideomorphic. It is really there all the time…there was never really a moment when it was not there, when we were ever really anything less than fully embedded in the autostereogram, but because of our peculiar structure within the image, the idiosyncratic set of loops and spirals that we ourselves are as structured, embodied, cognitive beings, a kind of “effort” is needed to see the autostereogram, a kind of Marty-Feldman-esque divergence of the eyes, because evolution has shaped us to program those forms suitable for survival in a particular kind of perceived and experienced environment. The stereo-separated images in the Uber-image are like our categories of mind and matter. Perhaps these two are generated at root by our cognitive structure (ie perhaps the world, in its own bare behaviour, makes no such division), or then again, perhaps this division is a real separation or spinning out from the ground of being. My point is (to bring this typical ramble to a close) that the autostereogram is both “immanent in and transcendent of” the world image in which it inheres, and this is in some ways analagous to what I perceive for our Tao-ish gnostic field.
I particularly liked the way you said:-
Western ID, as we might call this, anthropomorphizes our sense of being a creative artisan and sees the universe as being a creative product of a similar but larger conscious entity: it takes “gnostic constellation by proxy” as the paradigm for the universe as a whole.
I could not have expressed it in better words. In fact, I wish I HAD expressed it in such words.
A few brief comments about “controversial phenomena”. Yes, I understand what you are saying. I guess, really, this is more than anything else a matter of temperament. I must confess that I simply don’t have the sort of passionate resistance to considering these phenomena that I have seen demonstrated in some quarters (at times, almost to the point where you feel like extending out a reassuring hand to a furiously quaking shoulder….”sir…sir, are you ok? here, have a seat…can I get you something….some fresh air, a cup of coffee?!”). But seriously, I know what you mean. It is just that these things have become thinkable for me because of the loose collection of concepts I have set roaming inside my head. To some extent I would even say that my viewpoint draws the likelihood of them closer. I cannot see any ultimate reason why gnostic ground should not be capable of doing these things, if it is capable of shaping living forms…and if not incapable, then I would suspect probably is doing them, even now. One final comment on this. I suspect also that a person really has to have had some primary face off with the dragon itself in order to take these experiences seriously, really seriously, without which they remain a kind of abstract and amusing stuff to season the conversation at dinner parties. I suspect that this is what you are saying with your reference to eastern therapies. I have had no personal experience at all of OOBEs, apparitions, and all the rest of it. However, when it comes to the matter of anomalous coincidences, there has been something of a baptism, it has to be said. And I can vouch for the fact that it is a facer. I will not discuss the anecdotes, first of all because they are of a private nature and also, well, they are in the “reality” of public discourse simply that: anecdote. Nothing as dramatic as Mrs Bell and her bees of course, but sufficient.
You raise some fascinating areas for discussion at the end of your post, but wow! each is a continent of exploration in itself. Let us choose your favourite (although, of course, I cannot guarantee to contribute anything coherent). I should caution in advance, that of course I don’t know exactly how the mind interfaces with the body (although at least I am in good company with the rest of humanity there). All I can do is sort of gesture with my wide-end watercolour brush and say “nnnn, nnnn!” in a vaguely meaningful and striving way, like a village fool in an old rustic tale.
[ 28. December 2002, 21:52: Message edited by: Light Jaguar ]
Member # 164
posted 30. December 2002 12:23
Light Jaguar and I (and whoever else wishes to join in) are discussing some metaphysics based on our understandings of gnosticism and Taoism, and how they might be applied to the question of “intelligent design” and the source of complexity in the world.
In this post, I’d like to discuss the subject of “material manifestations” (a phrase LJ used that I like), the nature of science, and an alternative view of “intelligent design” that does not conflict with science in the ways that “Western ID” does.
Two disclaimers: first, I know that I am not an expert on Taoism, and certainly am not trying to accurately represent Taoism as it is understood by its true adherents. Rather I am using it as a way of trying to develop and express my own ideas. Any misrepresentations of what Taoism actually says are entirely my responsibility.
Secondly, I know this is fairly rambling, perhaps repetitive, and full of unsupported assertions (since it’s metaphysics, not science ) Nevertheless, it’s fun to try to express all these ideas, so I appreciate whatever readership and comments I might get.
LJ used the phrase “material manifestations” when he wrote
quote:and he also wrote, as a biological example,
However, unlike Platonism, these mathematical forms do not pre-exist separately from the material world in which they manifest themselves; rather, they appear concomitantly with material manifestation as an expression of the undifferentiated intelligence that is within the Tao (or gnostic ground.)
quote:Everything the Tao “does” in the sense of expressing itself in reality, it does through a “material manifestation.” For instance, when I think a thought, vastly complicated biological events happen in my brain.
The elephant is a willed expression of the gnostic ground. The genetic sequences and associated proteins are but the vehicle for its material transmission through the world.
The perennial debate about consciousness is which causes which. Many people object to the materialist idea that consciousness is merely an epiphenomenon of the brain’s activity. However, we continue to learn more and more about how changes in the brain do affect the conscious mind, and more and more about the effect of unconscious processes, so it is perhaps hard to maintain that there is something “immaterial” about the mind.
My view, as mentioned by LJ, is that mind and matter are opposites ends of a spectrum that always exist in Taoist duality. The things that happen in the brain are the material manifestations of what we consciously experience: mind and matter are not two different things interacting in some unknown way (causing us to ponder which causes which,) but rather two different ways in which the Tao manifests itself.
Being a relatively “highly developed” expression of the mind end of the spectrum (or of the gnostic field’s desire to “unfold understanding and self-aware experience”), we experience the world as both mind and matter. Matter is the “material manifestation” of the Tao, and accompanies all phenomena irrespective of the extent to which the “mind” part of the world is active or experienced.
Everything that happens has a “material manifestation.” At the most material level, the intelligence of the Tao expresses itself in the “laws of nature” - that is, the material world not only embodies mathematical and logical order, it also is constituted so that the interplay between various entities, properties, forces, and so on are such that interesting things happen - particles interact, elements and compounds form, galaxies of stars arise, life forms, and so on. The fact that a universe exists in which “stuff happens” in a material and orderly way is an expression of the Tao.
These “laws,” however, as LJ pointed out, do not exist Platonically in some way that precedes our world - they are not imposed upon the material world from the outside. Rather they arise simultaneously with the world - the laws exist because the world behaves the way it does; the reverse case (that the world behaves the way it does because of the laws) is not true. Our Western view (which I described yesterday as an anthropomorphism of what LJ calls “gnostic arrangement by proxy) is that of the external deity giving the laws to nature, much in the way that our government gives laws to society. The Taoistic view is that the material manifestation of all being contains order and relationship, and that the particularities of that order and those relationships are embedded in and embodied by the material world. The laws, to the extent that we can abstract and codify them as human knowledge, follow what the world does - the world does not “follow” laws which exist independently of the world’s beingness.
So my view is that whatever we will ever experience about the material world, including all that the shared enterprise of science will observe and explain, will manifest itself in ways that will exhibit “lawful” and thus explainable behavior. This does not mean that everything is mechanically and unintelligently caused (as in the Western view), but rather that everything exhibits some aspects of the intelligent nature of the Tao is a materially manifested way.
The Tao is not totally mechanical, of course. True uncaused spontaneous creation arises from the Tao continuously. Despite the fact that many physicists cringe at the way quantum mechanics is invoked by various forms of mysticism (and Taoism is a form of mysticism), I think that it is quite relevant that modern science has found that such things as quantum uncertainty, virtual particles, and probabilistic behaviors exists at the root level of the world. I think it’s reasonable to say that this quantum behavior reflects the boundary - the interface - between the unknowable and undifferentiated Tao and the knowable and differentiated world of material manifestation.
These ideas bear upon the debate about “intelligent design” and the nature of science.
First, I believe that adopting a metaphysic concerning the Tao or the gnostic field does not change the current mainstream view of what science actually does, which is to explore the material manifestations of the world. The world is such that whatever we look at, no matter how closely we look, we will see explicable behavior from the objects of our investigation (be they particles, chemicals, organisms, or whatever.) When we do science, we are looking at the intelligent nature of the material manifestations of the Tao.
This is a shared enterprise because it comes from looking outwards from our being, and thus it can develop a common body of knowledge. When we do other things (have emotions and values, make choices, create metaphysical and philosophical systems of understanding such as this one,) we engage in a more solitary pursuit because we are looking inwards towards the “mind” part of the world. While we can share this part of ourselves also, whatever common understandings we come to with others is of a different sort than science.
The ideas presented here represent a different perspective on science and intelligent design - one that does not see the two in conflict, and one that does not require that some additional components of intelligent agency be added to science to make it complete.
This is in contrast to the basic premise of what I will call Western ID, which draws a distinction between those things nature can and cannot do by itself, and which posits that the actions of an intelligence agency has been necessary for some events to have occurred as they have (perhaps a very small number of events, perhaps more.)
I would like to argue here that Western ID is a less satisfactory metaphysic than a Taoistic / gnostic metaphysic. My basic view is that Western ID is based on a two-pronged “mistake:” first that it is based on an unjustifiable anthropomorphism that elevates certain aspects of our nature to universal aspects of the world, and secondly, and more importantly, because the notions upon which the anthropomorphism is based are themselves wrong.
I would like to discuss at some further time my view of how our conscious nature (the part that is anthropomorphized into an external and periodic source of design in the world) is embedded in the physical world, and what the relationships are between the conscious, the unconscious, and the body. Explaining this (and the science upon which some of my thoughts are based) would probably make my argument much clearer. However, in the interest of time right now, I will summarize the “mistakes” that I think are in Western ID.
There are several ways to look at these mistakes. One is to think that that things which are “following” the laws of nature and subject to laws of chance are “unintelligent.” My view is that the both the laws of nature and the existence of chance (true randomness as well as serendipitous coincidence) are the vehicles by which the intelligence of the world arises and manifests itself.
Another mistake is to distinguish “design” as being the product of a pre-conception and then an implementation - again based on seeing the world as being fundamentally like us, rather than understanding that we (the conscious, thinking “we” that we are anthropomorphizing) are in fact a specific type of manifestation of the larger intelligence continually invested in the world by the Tao. The Taoistic universe has produced human beings (which are much bigger creatures than just our consciousness), and now we look back out at the world, including ourselves, through a small window of awareness. But when we think that our experience of consciousness, conception, and action is the paradigm for the universe as a whole, we are getting the cart and the horse mixed up.
The intelligence of the world doesn’t need to have a pre-conception (an idea)outside of the world and then an action in the world to implement the idea - which is the Western view. The world just unfolds itself and the conceptions arise simultaneously with the action.
From this point of view, if one defines “design,”, as Dembski does, as that which is astronomically improbable as a product of natural law and chance, then nothing is designed - the Tao never needs to contradict or override its own nature. However, if one defines “design” as meaning the product of the intelligence of the Tao, then everything is designed. The mistake is embodied in the metaphysics of the Western split between mind and matter. There is no, and needs be no, universal “mind” to conceive of things which nature can not produce on its own, and there is thus no need for such a mind to intervene in order to make the improbable happen. The “mind” of the universe (a pervasive source of orderly connectedness between events, but not a conscious and separate entity) is always present in every moment of material manifestation. The conception and the actualization of all events are simultaneoeus.
A related mistake involves the idea of teleology. The Western idea is that some pre-conceived and external goal or purpose “pulls” the present towards the future. The Taoistic idea is that certain principles (summed up by the principle of yin/yang - complementary duality) “pushes” the present into the future. There are no pre-conceived goals that reality is trying to achieve (in the sense of desired states), but there are principles (such as “unfold[ing] understanding and self-aware experience) that the Tao is “trying” to make manifest. (Except, of course, that the Tao doesn’t need to “try” in the sense of overcome a resistance - it just exercises its nature and principled manifestation happens.)
So in summary I think I could say that a “Taoistic IDist” such as I am describing here would have no quarrel with modern science in general, nor with the theory of evolution in particular. What science finds out about the evolution of life (in regards to both its history and its mechanisms) will be “true” in the limited sense that science can investigate the material manifestations of the world. No special invocation of an external intelligence is needed, and no probabilistic or ontological discontinuities are needed. We are likely to find and better understand, I think, some self-organizing aspects of complex systems, but these will be further understandings of the way the intelligence of the universe works, not evidence that somehow the material world lacks the wherewithal to do what it does at various crucial junctions.
Member # 599
posted 31. December 2002 14:08
Taowinian Evolution: the story continues
I find myself in agreement with a lot of what Evan says. Not all of it perhaps, but certainly a good measure of it. I suppose my main points of differences, or at least the areas which bear a question mark for me are the following:-
1) I am less confident than Evan that all forms expressed by the ground must have an aspect in the manifest material world, although that might be true.
2) I am not certain (as indeed I indicated previously) that “chance” is the primary means by which the gnostic ground shapes its living forms, although again I concede that this might be true (this was basically my “option number 1” included in my initial post, whereby the Darwinian worldview could more or less wholly embrace my viewpoint, or a conceptually similar viewpoint, escaping almost all intellectual violence done against it, save perhaps for the surrendering of philosophical materialism).
It may be that all “ripples” on the ground of being, partake simultaneously (or so it appears to us anyway) of gnostic and morphic realities. However, all I am really prepared to say for certain is that all specific behaviours or patterns of gnostic will have a form-signature of some kind associated with them, whether or not that signature is of a kind that would lend itself to being expressed in the cognitive construct we call the physical world. Rather, to express in that world, it would be my suspicion that it has to be perceivable to the gnostic embodiments of that world as a res extensa, ie in space, itself a particular kind of “form-idea” realised out of the gnostic ground for a particular purpose. That all form-signatures expressible by the gnostic ground are perceivable in the physical world (ie within our biologically entrained cognitive structure) strikes me as quite unlikely. Though again, I may be wrong about this.
On the issue of “ideomorphs”, this is the first indication that I would point to in support of my viewpoint. These things are not empirically observable, except in their daughter forms of mind and matter. Thus, our kind of brain partitions music as a set of sounds (material form) to which a “meaning” (mental form) has mysteriously been spirited in or superimposed. What I am saying is that with the blinkers of biological entrainment removed…ie if we were to “perceive” as the ground perceives, then Beethoven’s Sixth (or an elephant, not that I’m comparing the two!) would be disclosed as an ideomorphic form, begotten of gnostic will. The same goes for Mrs Bell and her bees. The “meaning” that we see and rudely ascribe to a psychological projection, along with the “form” that we see, and equally rudely ascribe to a “happenstance” drifting of bees into the general neighbourhood, are in reality two faces of the same ideomorphic event, which nevertheless appears “fractured” in our empirical reality into two apparently separate planes of manifestation, each incommensurate with the other. However, there is again a question in my mind as to whether all ideomorphs necessarily come to physical manifestation, or whether the existence of ideomorphs is best kept separate from whatever process by which they become “charged”, ie brought to manifestation in our empirical world. A set of circumstances brought about this event; those circumstances, and the why of them are (for the most part) readily identifiable…ie a flash was set off from the gunpowder of an already latent ideomorphic form. But then one has to ask: what form was that, exactly, prior to its manifestation in the world?
A second issue worth considering here is the nature in reality of “mathematical objects”, such as the Mandelbrot Set or Transcendental numbers. Clearly, there is not an empirical Mandelbrot Set somewhere, so I would maintain that this also comes into the categories of forms too subtle to register in the rather basic cognitive windows known as sense experience. They are indeed figures on the ground of being, and, as I would say myself, partake simultaneously of gnosis and form. But form and material form are not necessarily a one to one mapping; the latter may be a subset of the former. Anyway, enough on that.
Since I have brought up Mrs Bell and her bees again, probably against my better judgement for the sensibilities of the board, I will make use of the moment to illustrate, or further illuminate, a certain point associated with the ideomorphic. The ideomorphic resides in the world’s “unconscious”, an iceberg-like depth hanging below the perceivable empirical world, in which there is a melting together of gnosis and form. In case I should be misunderstood, I am not saying this is a “whole other world”. Rather, there is only one world, but our cognitive structure is capable of perceiving it only to a thin depth. This unconscious “thinks” differently from the way we think. It does not think rationally but mythically, or, at least, the identifier mythic tags the nature of our experience when we interface with the forms of this unconscious as cognitive beings. However, because these forms move from a creative point close to the “omnijective” (not my word) centre of being, they partake of meaning and form simultaneously. More precisely still, meaning and form radiate simultaneously out from them into different facets of our fractured experience….appearing in different windows, so to speak, and giving the illusion of separate events which are, in fact, the same event. They are a “meaning-form” signature set loose in the world. That is to say, their origin is at once proto-morphic and proto-mythic, because of their generative proximity to the ideomorphic fulcrum. We see this with the Mrs Bell instance. Not just any old event, but a death, the unravelling of a gnostic embodiment back to primacy…an archetypal moment if ever there was one…and not just any old death, but the death of a beekeeper, touching at once to the gunpowder of a mythic context rich with historical forms and tales.
How did it “know”? How did this ideomorph know to arrange this? Did some telekinetic force extend bee-wards from the faltering brain of Mrs Bell, unconsciously piloting the swarm through time and space to her graveside? Or did the bees exert casual influence upon Mrs Bell…perhaps alerting her subliminal mind to their coming by some clairvoyant psychic transmission? Both of these imaginations create what I like to call the daughter ontologies error when trying to deal with an event that is correctly diagnosed as ideomorphic in origin. That parent reality was the progenitor of this event, the depth within the world and Mrs Bell’s unconscious both. For neither consciousness, nor even the mind, are “located” inside the head. That would be a silly imagination with respect to this worldview. The mind is no more inside the brain than it is a hundred yards along the road, floating above the ground…I may come back to this later.
The problems of “telepathy” and “telekinesis” are misdescribed. I think these putative activities are not categorically distinct from what we do in our mind-body systems every hour of every day, in fully orthodox biological reality. Because science (rightly) cannot conceive any sensible way by which such influences can travel, it has no option but to deny their reality with the utmost resistance. Or else: it embarks on a misguided adventure, trying to identify “subtle energies” and the like. These words (telepathy, telekinesis) are incorrigibly stitched up in the conceptuality of our daughter ontologies. The reason they have a certain importance is because they correctly point to the fault line in our present understanding of the world, or perhaps I should say, “of world”. No influence travels, and while the more liberally minded scientist embarks on the adventure to look for one, s/he merely anticipates the day of her/his disillusionment. Deep down…deep, deep in the ideomorphic we carry the formal knowledge of the world within ourselves. If something should touch to that gunpowder, then, lo and behold, I can “see” something that I “shouldn’t” be able to see. I am reading straight from the world’s formal image by direct gnostic intelligence (think also mathematical genius; think autistic savant). The ground in me and the ground in the world is the same: same in emptiness (nature), same in fullness (knowledge). But there is not one “Tao” for me, another for you, and a third for Bob Smith the donut man who lives down the lane. Gnosis has an inhering ability to indwell upon the formal pattern of its own distributed knowledge, the limned figure of the world reflected within itself, which is, in turn, just the huge signature of its own gnostic will abroad in the connected tapestry of forms.
We believe that we see with our eyes, and that is true in a way. But seeing is really a facet of knowing, of gnowing, and we really see with gnosis, which the sensory systems filter, condition, tailor and shape in particular ways designed for a survival-coded world. In dreams we also “see”: we are reading the ideomorphic forms of the personal unconscious, reading facts that are true within the membranic boundaries of our individual self. If that dreaming should sink deeper, and become there the world’s unconscious (which is at root synonymous with the Tao’s formal image of its own distributed manifestation) then what we “see” is no longer just subjectively true, as we call it, but world-true. As soon as I made this connection (which was a long time ago now), I knew that these bitterly contested phenomena were in essence grounded in the kernel of truth, and that the violent railing against them is one day destined to end in tears.
I am aware of course that this is a forum for brainstorming with reference to “complex systems”. But I would ask the impatient not to be too hasty and to assure them that what IS being discussed here, in its larger context, is indeed the way by which living systems come to expression in the world (as I see it, of course).
I indicated a slight disagreement…or potential disagreement…with Evan on the issue of chance. In my opening post I gave two options, one with little or no adjustment necessary for the Darwinian worldview, one with some adjustment necessary. The thing about “chance” is that it is a mind-child born, really, of a mechanical conception of empirical reality. When there is no specific cause or intelligent action (a particular kind of cause, in this context), the result is chance. Things just happen to turn up in a particular (as we would say, meaningful) configuration. However, nothing can be considered to “just happen” in a gnostic universe, and this is an important issue to hold in mind. All events are, one way or another, the output of ideomorphic will. I am not saying (please note this) that all events in the world are, however, invested with the same degree or concentration of “Taoishness”, if I may put it that way. To suggest that knocking a spoon off a shelf and the coming into being of Homo sapiens are equivalent in terms of the will of the gnostic ground would be absurd. I would like to put before you a different image of “chance”, a more wholesome one tailored for the neo-Taoist or the proponent of Taowinian Evolution. Imagine a fluid, dynamically shifting topology or landscape (akin to the computer generated models of fitness landscape) of “relative meaning density”. Upon this landscape there are mounds and troughs, ridges and escarpments and grooves. As the landscape shifts with the movement of events, so the topology shifts. perhaps some incipient mountains sink away again or a trough smooths out to a glacier. Every so often upon this landscape there will appear an especially noticeable “spike” (or well). In our context, these are events towards which the meaning-focus of the gnostic ground is bent with particular ardour. Remember, gnostic will is ideomorphic: the more it leans into a particular event, the more meaning registers there, because “meaning” is inextricably bound up with the ground’s nature. These peaks and troughs we can call our “synchronicities”, as well of course as the other meaningful forms of the world. However, away from these peaks and troughs, there is a “background rippling”, a basal state flux of the world’s meaning. This residuum is that which, under mechanical conception of the world, we attached with the identifier “chance”. But this background radiation in the semantic landscape, so to speak, is really the universal minimum of the gnostic ground’s directed will. It is not something fundamentally different from the showpiece spikes and troughs, except to say that the will of the ground is in motion with greater presence or density in those latter events. So the will of the ground is a non-uniform “substance” across the empirical world….it is more like wax melting in a pot, with knots and bubbles flowing around in its midst. When gnostic will “sees” something it wishes to “pursue”, perhaps an ecological context or new texture of experience (not that it needs to “wait around” to see this) it can lean into the a-semantic background, and the world will respond after the manner of its choosing, because its urge is primally embedded in the nature of being.
In this first diagram, what I am striving to represent is the bipolar nature of any disturbance upon the gnostic ground. I think this is probably true, and also a rendition that Evan would agree with. There is a “gnostic” and a “morphic” wing to every specific pattern, movement or event upon the ground, no matter how grand or how trivial, on this image. In the context of the human brain, we can guess that if there is a disturbance in one wing of such a pattern, a corresponding effect will appear in the other wing by a necessary principle of symmetry. A movement on the ground therefore sends “ripples” outwards into morphic and gnostic ontologies (recalling that we are leaving the final source of these daughter ontologies in the air, so as not to make the error of misplaced concreteness, or of claiming to know more than we do…either they are the product of our cognitive structure, or they are a willed separation by the ground, or they are an inevitable behaviour QED).
A disturbance to the sensory system (in the morphic sub-realm) would generate a corresponding disturbance in the opposite nature…in the realm of conscious or unconscious attention. Reciprocally, an idea or image in the mind is like a finger brushing the water of form…it sends out a ripple-trace in the brain’s neural structure. Really, of course, these two kinds of behaviour are not separable in the abstract. They are ‘viewpoints’ on the one reality. Inside the mind-brain I believe that there is a highly sensitive system, whose purpose it is to “listen” to relatively small disturbances, either in the realm of gnosis or form, and amplify them through other body systems or processes (as in willing to walk down the street and actually walking down the street).
On this diagram, I am trying to express where I believe I differ with Evan on the issue of manifestation. I am of the opinion that not all forms realised by the ground are traceable in what we call the empirical world, both as a matter of threshold and (in some cases, I suspect) as a matter of nature incommensurate with the time and space extension our brains configure for us. So, a disturbance or movement on the ground, can, so to speak, be a tiny ripple, or a huge wave. I don’t think this covers it completely. My feeling is that an additional factor is involved…..a vector lying along an axis that we might call “pressure or intensity of manifestation”, itself a function of the gnostic ground, that is, ultimately, a function of Taoistic will. I think that our biological systems are equipped to register patterns in the ground of being only beyond a certain threshold of manifestation along this imaginary vector I have just spoken of. Note that this (as well as our other configured constraints) would apply to our perception of our own biology as well as to the rest of the empirical world. The faint ring in the above diagram is intended to illustrate this threshold, so that the portion of the totality outside of the ring is that portion of the world’s full nature we are capable of assimilating as biological beings. This threshold is not absolute: it will vary slightly from person to person (and more significantly in some persons); vary slightly in different circumstances (and more significantly in some circumstances); vary in the course of life’s evolution. That which is inside the ring would presumably be called “spiritual” or “nonmaterial” and includes everything which is presently labelled the “unconscious” on the gnostic wing, and the proto-morphic organisation of the body on the morphic wing. But all of this is much in the way of a nomenclature. Whether inside or outside of this ring, the expressions of the ground are not fundamentally different.
The third and last diagram illustrates the situation as I see it in the human organism. Here I have tilted the lobes, for in that representation, although less visually neat, it is clearer that the gnostic and morphic behaviours actually fuse more and more into each other the deeper we go (until, at the pivot, the gnostic ground, they are one and the same). The tip of both lobes in this diagram represents experienced human reality…the empirical body and mind. Also on this diagram, although I have not actually shown it, would appear the threshold described above. This perceptual cutoff that separates us (cognitively) from the gnostic ground can be considered a biological necessity. Without it, we would not be able to function normally as embodied, individualised beings: the formal image of the world would rise up inside us like a leviathan.
If this threshold were to rise in the gnostic side of our being, then dreams would disappear completely as well (I think) as the ability to introspect mental images. All semblance of ideomorphic capability in ourselves (eg music) would vanish. If it were to fall, forms and patterns presently in the unconscious would rise into conscious awareness. This is not necessarily good news, as to have the contents of the unconscious roaming around inside your head is a description of certain kinds of insanity.
If the threshold were to rise in the world, in the morphic aspect of our being, then so much less of reality would become available for our attention. If it were to fall, then again, aspects of the world’s “unconscious” would begin to appear in the empirical world and human-constellated ideomorphs of the “Mrs Bell” variety would increase in number. Eventually, if it fell far enough, human will (as an agency of universal will) would be able to constellate forms directly (not by proxy) in the empirical world. Now, as things presently stand, I maintain that this can occur only under extremely unusual circumstances (I do, however, maintain that it can occur).
Think of yourself sitting, alone, in your room, and in the chair opposite you, you imagine the presence of someone you know, projecting an image of that person’s presence, as it were, into the chair. I maintain (or, more cautiously, it is my strong hunch) that any mental exertion of this kind, no matter how seemingly trivial, actually enters into and alters the world-image at the ground of being, not just in the neural trace the action causes in the brain, but with respect to the form itself. However, the effect is (almost) always too weak to register in what our sensory systems read to be the empirical world.
This raises an interesting associated question. Let us say I now imagine a striking image, such as a hexagonal kite. This is clearly a form in and of itself, a figure of some kind on the ground of being. But what counterbalances this gnostic event, as it were, in the morphic wing of reality? Is it the ripple trace in the brain’s neurons (which presumably would not be configured after the fashion of a hexagonal kite)? Or is it some formic shadow of the image itself? I believe it is both. The act of thinking or imagining, using biological equipment structured for the task, excites ripples in the pond of the brain’s neural mesh. However, that which is imagined or willed, is also, in and of its own right, a legitimate form on the gnostic ground and thus will generate a bipolar image. Again, if our biological threshold were reduced right down to nought (so that we would ‘see’, essentially, as the gnostic ground sees) then even such ethereal forms as these would be glimpsed alive and well in the world image.
Although I have discussed tampering with these putative thresholds in the gnostic and morphic realms, as if these were separate, in reality we are doing the same thing, because the experienced world is a dialectic between the thresholds of consciousness and the ground of being, for which the biological form is but an emissary or intermediary.
Looking again at the third diagram and taking a slightly different tack, if we imagine different locations from which the centre of gnostic will acts, we can understand different consequences. If this will acts from a point near the top of this diagram, ie within that ‘sensitised system’ of the mind-brain set up for the empirical self, then this will ripple across into corresponding disturbances in the brain. The amplification systems set as sentinels to “watch” for these disturbances will then kick in and implement the appropriate action, depending on the nature of the disturbance (eg stand up and walk to the door). If we move further down the diagram, into the realm of the personal unconscious, where the blending of ideomorphosis is partly complete, and if the gnostic will moved from this (deeper) centre with sufficient “will to manifestation”, then the outcome would be some change, limited to that physical pattern of the empirical world that is the body of the organism in question. Thus I do guess that the mind-body system, as a whole, has the ability to heal itself, at least of certain things, but that the problem lies in “persuading” gnostic will to take action, which is no mean task. If we moved the centre down again, right down to the bottom of the diagram, the centre of will is now the Taoistic will, the universal will of being. A sufficiently powerful movement from this base could alter anything, anywhere in the world image. I have missed out certain intermediate points on this journey, where, for instance, a gnostic centre associated with a particular species (expression-form) could be identified. I leave you to speculate on the kinds of thing that would result when and if gnostic will is stirred to move from such a pivot.
[ 03. January 2003, 22:06: Message edited by: Light Jaguar ]
Member # 599
posted 03. January 2003 22:09
***DIAGRAMS ARE NOW RESET TO LINKS***
A brief cartography of (normal cycle) conscious states for the Taowinian evolutionist...
“Attention” of the unconscious is buoyant up at the extremes of both ontological lobes, especially the gnostic lobe. An “effort” is required to fixate human, rational consciousness. It is an unusual state. A state that requires a particular brain structure to stabilise it; a state that needs organic food to nourish it etc. The key point here is that there is an “attention deficit” of the unconscious to those states deeper down towards the pivot, and especially towards the deeper aspects of morphic behaviour, the unconscious processes of the body. Sleep is required to balance this deficit.
In this condition, the unconscious “leans into” the morphic pole of its total description, ie, directs its attention there, to maintain processes which have suffered attention deficit during the waking phase of the organism’s cycle. While this is happening, all conscious processing, including quasi-conscious dream processing, is suppressed, because even a dream self absorbs some of the unconscious attention (and thus directs it across towards the gnostic region of its own nature). Deep sleep restores and maintains the unconscious, morphic, living processes of the body.
Sleep oscillates across to this state from the deep state. In this condition, processing of daily experience by the gnostic dimension of the unconscious takes place. This “processing” is an intuitive processing according to the nature of the unconscious itself and its proto-mythic tendencies. While this is taking place, it is not possible to attend to the activities found in deep sleep (as the two processes are in opposition). Hence again, there is an attention deficit to the morphic behaviours of the body, although not as severe as in the full waking state.
Progressively shallower oscillations will swing between deep and REM states until the sleep cycle is complete.
Two questions can be asked at this point
1) Why isn’t there enough attention to go round in the unconscious of the organism? Why isn’t it just possible to stay awake all the time, and yet have the unconscious attend to its morphic and gnostic chores subliminally, as it were?
Well, I believe it does do that of course….ie, when you are awake, the unconscious is still sustaining the mind and body both. If it did not, we would die, as the body and the conscious mind are organs of the unconscious in this view of life and nature. However, it comes back to what I said above. Human consciousness is a “special project” if I can use that term. If your house is running on a generator, and you turn on powerful arc lights, the rest of your appliances will fade dim.
2) Why the oscillation? Why not get all the deep sleep over with in a oner, and then spend the rest of the night in REM, dreaming happily? Well, this is (remarkably enough!) more speculative, but I like to think of this as the “draining tubs” problem. Imagine two baths set to drain, each separated by some distance, ie in different rooms, so that you have to run from one to the other. As you run, you carry a big jug with you, constantly replenishable, with which you top up the tubs. Further imagine that there is a curious “observation principle” acting, such that your presence, as an observer, acts to slow down the draining of the tubs, and the longer you are away from a tub, the more its draining speeds up again. So there is the problem in miniature. If you spend all your time at tub A, then its draining slows down nicely, and you can top it right up. Unfortunately, the other tub, missing your presence, is draining faster and faster and goes critical in the interim. So you do the plate spinning thing. You watch tub A, slowing it some, filling it some, then you swing over to tub B, slowing it some, filling it some, and so on. In this way, both tubs gradually get filled without the other emptying completely. This, at any rate, is my take on what is happening.
I will ask you to notice how certain facts about sleep are implicitly “predicted” in the schema I have presented, as well as in the worldview behind it. In other words, why there are two phases of sleep in the first place. Why their activities cannot occur together. Why there is oscillation.
There is also a range of other “predictions” which, while not exclusive to this model, nevertheless find their home naturally within it, and in my view, give a more satisfying and persuasive impression of the overall picture. These include: the need for a more complex sleep cycle in organisms expressing a more elaborate consciousness. A general trend towards more sleep in animals of higher basal metabolic rate (there are exceptions). Why deprivation of deep sleep leads to physical enervation. Why deprivation of REM leads to a “rebound” of greater dreaming etc.
To view an ANIMATED GIF of the Taowinian sleep cycle, click here!
COMA / GENERAL ANAESTHETIC:-
I remember reading a criticism of a gnostic view of reality in which the reviewer claimed that anaesthetic was all that was necessary to disprove the model. If a simple chemical can snuff out “God” as he put it, or words to that effect, then how fragile the viewpoint must be! The conflation of consciousness and gnosis is an understandable mistake, as I have explained before. Consciousness is an expression of gnosis, a high level expression, like a flower is to a plant. The fall of night may cause the flower to close its petals…but that doesn’t mean that you’ve destroyed the plant. Indeed, I would maintain that the plant cannot be destroyed. However, the plant (the unconscious realms of gnosis) are still maintaining the body as a living entity, even in coma and anaesthetic. What has happened is that some trauma to the brain’s natural purpose and expression (whether the trauma be physical or chemical) has removed aware consciousness from the scene, because it is the first thing to go. Also, because you are interfering with or blocking the normal activities and cycles of the unconscious, the likelihood is that the rest of sleep will not be obtained.
The diagrams in a previous post would be of far too simplistic a nature if we are talking about a mature, developed, living organism. Such a structure would be more realistically represented by the hierarchical nesting of the following diagram, although even this remains a gross simplification.
When talking about death on this model, there is a key thing to understand. Life is not only ideomorphic, but hierarchically ideomorphic. Your cells are alive and subsumed within organ systems that are alive, which in turn are subsumed within a mind-body, a gnostic-morphic global entity, that is alive. This is different from a materialist view, not just in its spirit (of course), but in the details. There is a top down cohering principle at work, in concert with a bottom up stacking principle. Something likely to cause the organism’s death will first propagate up through the stacking levels and then cause death from the top cohering principle downwards. Here’s what I mean. Say, a particular bunch of cells in the heart become infected or diseased. This is a problem with function at a low stacking level. The problem becomes more serious until the heart as a whole starts to malfunction…moving up the stacking level. The heart arrests and the body as a whole is in jeapordy…now we are at the top of the stacking level. This global malfunction of the organism means that the unconscious will soon be unable to use the brain as the expression of a living mind. This expression is tied up with the top level ideomorphic expression of the organism. The lower levels of the organism are contained within and coordinated by this top level ideomorph. This top level cohering principle fails…ie can no longer integrate the body. The body is now a mere assemblage of the various cohering principles at the next level down. Not only is it not designed to function that way (ie without the top level…the organ systems are not designed for autonomy), but these parallel living systems will start to interfere with each other, releasing toxins etc. The next cohering levels will collapse, and so on back down the hierarchy until the empirical world registers only primary elements again. The following diagram sequence is intended to capture the essence of this process. Note that it is the composite that destroys itself, not the ideomorphs themselves.
This speculation receives encouragement from an unusual…but also unusually apposite quarter.
Sir Auckland Geddes was a well known and respected Anatomist in his day. He passed close to death with acute gastro-enteritis, and this is what transpired (excerpted):-
By ten o’clock I had developed all the symptoms of very acute poisoning, intense gastro-intestinal pain, diarrhoea, pulse and respiration becoming quite impossible to count…I suddenly realised that my consciousness was separating from another consciousness, which was also “me”. For the purpose of description we could call these the A and B consciousness, and throughout what follows the ego attached itself to the A consciousness. As my physical condition grew worse and the heart was fibrilating rather than beating properly, I realised that the B consciousness belonging to the body was beginning to show signs of becoming composite, that is, built up of consciousness from the head, the heart, the viscera etc. These components became more individual, and the B consciousness began to disintegrate, while the A consciousness, which was now me, seemed to be altogether outside of my body, which I could see.
He saw a lot more than this, by the way, but I will curtail the narrative to remain cogent to the forum. What is taking place here is the terminal fissioning of the integrand—the top level cohering expression of gnostic intelligence--from the remaining composite of the organic entity. The body cannot survive without the integrand--its separation is death--and if the situation had not reversed itself, he would indeed have died.
[ 04. January 2003, 18:45: Message edited by: Light Jaguar ]
Member # 380
posted 05. January 2003 22:18
I'm still eyedropping. One minor point: The quotation is Geddes reporting the experience of another unidentified person, according to this site. That does not invalidate the point of the account, though.
One other remark that may be pertinent. Ernest Hilgard, a reputable and productive experimental psychologist of the middle of the 20th century, did a fair amount of work on hypnosis. As I (no doubt imperfectly) remember his stuff, he reported that hypnotic subjects often reported an internal "hidden observer" in their mind/head/somewhere, a part of their consciousness, that 'watched' them as they were in a hypnotic trance and was aware of what was going on in it.
I'm still working on assimilating "Taowinism" to my cognitive field.
Member # 599
posted 06. January 2003 10:41
You are quite right about that. In the original account, Geddes related the story at a lecture to the Royal Medical Society at Edinburgh, as the experience of a "doctor-friend". I seem to have a memory of reading somewhere later...though I confess I cannot recall the source...that the nod and the wink, only just sufficiently disguised, was that the mysterious "doctor-friend" was none other than Geddes himself.
Perhaps this is a false memory, but I probably assimilated it unconsciously as it fitted in with my own suspicions. Put yourself in his position, especially at the time. It was courageous enough just to speak of it in public. But to have stood before the Royal Society and confessed it as his own, I reckon was a bridge too far. But you're right: I have no absolute proof of this
Member # 770
posted 02. June 2003 12:28
Dear Light Jaguar:
First, should I make an offering to this wrathful mediator?
Thank you for your posting. I will hone in on the first one posted. You raise some provocative and very interesting points, but I believe you have left out pertinent variables in your equation. There are several principles of Gnostic thought that have been left by the wayside and I wonder why. Sometimes it is purposefully done as in the ego constructing a paradigm to please itself and at other times it is simple lack of inclusion due to oversight or not having them packed in one’s arsenal. I would think we can exclude the first and focus on the latter in your case. Let me start with your statements and some other possibilities.
“By gnostic I mean that which is sufficiently agentic to will or embody its own purpose, whether or not it is consciously aware of that will or that purpose.”
I suggest to you that the whole notion of a “Gnostic” experience is to KNOW. Therefore, to include unconscious awareness goes against the very parameters of the word. Gnostic is beyond thinking, beyond concluding, beyond concept. Gnostic thought means that finally something IS. That this KNOWING is finally a certainty and becomes a foundation for everything else in one’s life. It becomes the puzzle piece in which to place down and use as a roadmap in filling in the unconscious and subconscious blanks and uniting as a whole.
“Consciousness is a late-stage development of gnosis, and a late stage too in evolution, a seeing of its own light. Most of the natural world is not like this. It gropes in a proto-conscious gloom, like the sleepwalker who feels his way downstairs. He is a gnostic system, but he is not aware that he is a sleepwalker!”
There can be no real consciousness until one has a gnostic experience. After one has experienced a gnosis, then one cannot be a sleepwalker. Therefore, a sleepwalker by very definition can never be a Gnostic.
“The elephant is a willed expression of the gnostic ground. The genetic sequences and associated proteins are but the vehicle for its material transmission through the world.”
Again, I believe this to be backwards. The will of the world in which we are currently caged, has nothing to do with conscious willing. Everything is on automatic pilot. It is up to the individual to discover their own will and their true consciousness. That is the test if one dares to take it. All you are seeing are points of light. The waves then fill them in. Slow down time and you slow down the pictures and you see spaces through them. This would tell you things are not as they seem.
You say you do not wish to discuss teleology, but that is the whole point. Whether things have a purpose and if so what? Otherwise we walk around the fire staring at shadows and never make it out of the cave to see what is real.
“Moreover, in sleep there is an oscillation between deep and REM (dreaming) states. This oscillation is necessary because the two activities compete with each other for the attention of the unconscious. The one cannot be done efficiently in the context of the other. Deep sleep, then, restores the deficit to the body and dream sleep processes waking experience according to the terms of the unconscious, where (I would guess) it finds its appropriate place among the unconscious, mythic forms of the race.”
I suggest to you that this definition of sleep is lacking in pertinent variables. For instance, if I were to ask you what you did during the day and what your conversation consisted of during this time period, you could probably give me an accurate summation. At least what you BELIEVED to be an accurate summation. For the truth is, for every one thought you remember, a thousand fly by in the blink of an eye. Why can this not be true in dreams? Perhaps you are dreaming or your subconscious is communicating, but it is not as rigid as conversation and, therefore, not discernible. When the thoughts slow down or congeal (as in the outcome of a Bose-Einstein condensate where light is slowed down when passed through this new medium), we have a dream that we can remember. Just as we having waking moments we remember. There are many systems and methodologies that believe both to be dreams so we again return to this notion of Gnosis. And of WAKING UP. The conscious and subconscious are flip sides of the same coin. I believe you to be correct there. Which brings me to your other point.
“But, since I would maintain that the gnostic ground does not dwell in a temporal separation, the final or deepest statement achievable with respect to this is that life has no ultimate meaning but to express itself. Again, to put this in alternative words: an organism becomes, on the part of the Gnostic Field (ground), a meaningful arrangement, a will to its own purpose, even if that purpose is only to exist or experience in a certain form.”
Nothing could be further from the truth and it is hidden in myth and mythology. And religion. And it is the single, most important concept you have excluded in your argument and in your hypothesis. It is the hallmark of Gnostic thought. And the reason for being alive. Gnostic thought would maintain that all forms seen are of matter and matter itself is evil. So anything of the earth is by its very nature corrupt and to be done away with. It is the will of a lesser God, this demiurge which is prevailing when we see these forms. The whole key is to have a communion with God and awaken, not to be put further asleep and create these wretched forms.
“One of my favourites in this department concerned the death of a beekeeper called Mrs Bell. Interestingly she also lived very near to a street corner, one branch of which was called “Bell Lane” and this sign was actually visible from her house. At her funeral a swarm of bees showed up (not her own). Not only that, but later, as the bemused mourners were returning home, this swarm actually settled directly beneath the street sign for Bell Lane, almost as if they were a living point to an exclamation mark.”
To this I ask you, why did you not think it remarkable that a bunch of mourners showed up at Mrs. Bell’s funeral? Is this not just as extraordinary as the bees? Did the mourners not form their own grandiose punctuation mark by all wearing black?
“However, just as the material body has its primacy in the ideomorphic unconscious, so do the forms of consciousness, and a phase of sleep is also provided where those are processed on their own terms. But this is not a “computer-like processing”. This is processing in terms of the unconscious, where the proto-morphic and the proto-mythic flow together in protean fashion.”
I suggest to you that everything our brain does is computer-like processing. It is binary and it is artificial intelligence. Which brings me to the final point of my reply and what is sorely lacking in your hypothesis. The cause. The purpose. What Aristotle meant when he said the brain was a secondary organ in importance. Why the Egyptians preserved the heart and not the brain. I present to you two quotes.
"…Similarly numerous passages in the later Upanishads celebrate Brahman as 'implanted in the cavity of the heart.' - Deussen, Dr. Paul, Philosophy of the Upanishads
“Sophia gave to them the gift of the Holy Spirit as a divine spark in every human heart.” … “Yet each and every descendent has this spark and the potential to recover the true Gnosis.” – Zos Imos
This is the concept that is left out of your writings and your thoughts. It is the basic, classic Gnostic concept that the real consciousness lies within the heart. This is echoed through many cultures (I have given you four), but seems to be lost. As long as you are using the artificial brain and its limited function to think and slap together ideas, it will be fun, but it will serve no real purpose. Again, is this provable in a quantifiable way? No. At least not now. Therefore, it is categorized as mysticism and not science. It is a Gnostic experience. But from this seed planted in our heart we break free and wake up. Without it you have much the same as the forms that proliferate the earth. Phantoms of our imagination and illusionary tricks of light.
Again, thank you for posting such a fascinating topic. I would love to discuss it in more depth.