11th September 2011 | Draft
Embodying the Paradoxes and Contradictions of the Pursuit of Happiness
En-joying the World through En-joying Oneself
- / -
Happiness as a verb -- en-joying as a dynamic?
Imagining through cognitive radicalization
Mirroring of self and other: enjoyment "through" the world
Dynamics of en-joying oneself
Veloping; dynamic transcendence of developing 8 enveloping
Radical unknowing: engaging with otherness through ignorance and emptiness
Special theory of cognitive relativity?
En-joying the World through En-joying Oneself (2011)
The main paper (En-joying the World through En-joying Oneself) discusses the themes Cognitive radicalism, Information and communication constraints, Constrained "deliverance" capacity of governance, Varieties of enjoyment: enjoying the world and the other, En-joying oneself otherwise, Enabling greater enjoyment through cognitive radicalization. These provide a context for the questions raised in this Annex. The main paper concludes with a discussion of Socio-political implications. It also provides a Conclusion and a set of References.
This annex explores the implications of happiness as a dynamic capable -- through "en-joying" -- of encompassing the paradoxes and contradictions characteristic of governance in all its forms, especially the self-governance required by an individual for thrival. It recognizes a degree of complexity with which it is necessary to engage, as summarized separately (Imagining the Real Challenge and Realizing the Imaginal Pathway of Sustainable Transformation, 2007).
Happiness as a verb -- en-joying as a dynamic?
Happiness as activity: The term used by Aristotle, eudaimonia, is now translated as "happiness", although for him it is understood to be a particular mode of activity rather than a state of condition. The point may well be argued more generally with respect to other values typically understood as static conditions (Freedom, Democracy, Justice: Isolated Nouns or Interwoven Verbs? 2011; Human Values as Strange Attractors, 1993).
Following Aristotle, the question here might be the ways in which happiness might be considered as an activity -- in the absence of any verb "to happy" and avoiding the limited sense of "to pleasure". The activity framed as its "pursuit" might be better understood as a simplistic projection of an inherent (higher-dimensional, complex) dynamic into a three-dimensional framework.
How might such an understanding fruitfully challenge any globally authoritative metric regarding a "subjective state of well-being", as developed from a psychological perspective (Adrian G. White, A
Global Projection of Subjective Well-being: a challenge to positive psychology? 2007)?
Making another happy / En-joying another: It is of course the case that a form of "to happy" is to be found in making another happy, or creating a "happy environment". This is well-recognized in families and communities and might be said to be the original national inspiration for Bhutan.
This might however be contrasted with another, potentially subtler, mode. This could be termed "en-joying" another through some process of "imbuing" joy -- again in contrast with "to pleasure".
Intimate mode of knowing: The commentary on the study by Y.
S. Rajan (In
Pursuit of Happiness, 2007), mentioned in the main paper, suggested exploring the dynamics of "enjoying" through certain
psychoactive symbols which directly evoke a distinctive intimate mode of knowing
of Valuing: psychodynamics of collective engagement with polyhedral value configurations,
2008). This evocative "direct" mode contrasts with the "indirect", detached
mode characteristic of the objectivity of science. This may be especially evident in certain forms
of poetry such as haiku as
described in the light of a meeting of the World Academy of Art and Science (Ensuring
Strategic Resilience through Haiku Patterns: reframing the scope of the "martial
arts" in response to strategic threats, 2006). A description
of this mode is provided in the much-cited classic taoist tale by Chuang
All I care about is the Way. If find it in my craft, that's all. When
I first butchered an ox, I saw nothing but ox meat. It took three years for
me to see the whole ox. Now I go out to meet it with my whole spirit and don't
think only about what meets the eye. Sensing and knowing stop. The spirit goes
where it will, following the natural contours, revealing large cavities, leading
the blade through openings, moving onward according to actual form -- yet
not touching the central arteries or tendons and ligaments, much less touching
Flow: This traditional understanding is presumably comparable to the notion of flow as
the mental condition in which a person is fully immersed in action
through a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the
process of the activity -- also phrased as "in the zone". This has been extensively
articulated by Mihály
Csíkszentmihályi (Creativity: flow and
the psychology of discovery and invention, 1996; Finding
Flow: the psychology of engagement with everyday life, 1998).
As a challenge, it is within such radical reframing that the conventionally promoted "pursuit of happiness" might well be caricatured as somewhat comparable to a greyhound at a racetrack pursuing a surrogate hare -- with little awareness of the circular nature of the track. Or even possibly -- and more challengingly -- to the classic situation of a dog chasing its own tail. Such pursuits are both readily recognized as futile.
Enactivism and "en-joying": Whilst the subject engagement with the environment is not questioned by those who experience it, this has in no way affected conventional framing of the environment with respect to its "development" or its "conservation". This framing has been strongly reinforced by the objectivity of the natural sciences -- irrespective of the sense of "wonder" individual scientists may claim personally to experience. This objective framing is fundamental to corporate and institutional approaches to developmental and environmental strategies. As such it is naturally reflected in legislation and the definition of property and its ownership.
The possibility of an alternative approach, yet to be considered, was discussed separately (Enveloping Development through Cognitive Enactivism: engaging with climate change by changing apprehension of climate, 2009). Enactivism, emphasizing the way that organisms and the human mind organize themselves by interacting with their environment has been notably articulated by such as Francisco Varela (Laying Down a Path in Walking, 1987).
Transforming the moment: en-joying the other: This may of course be understood in terms of "pleasuring" the other, as a notable characteristic of sexual intercourse and celebrated in Hindu tantra:
The traditional Yoga includes expansive guidelines of commands and prohibitions which neglect and control especially enjoyment and sexuality and also give strict moral demands on how to behave in life. A Yogi is thus called "the one renouncing the world". Tantric people on the contrary are often also called Bhogi, or "the one eating or enjoying the world". Tantra rebelled against the existing rules and offered a completely new attitude towards life: the devotion to the body, the senses, the sexuality, the enjoyment and the rejection of all moral value. Tantric philosophy could therefore be called amoral. A tantric is not immoral though. He is not against morality, he just does not care about morality but instead tries to be as aware and awake and conscious as possible in everything he or she is doing. [more]
The transformation is fruitfully explored in the light of Greek understanding of daimon -- the "spirit" featuring in eudaimonia -- and its problematic interpretation as "demon" (Interweaving Demonic and Daimonic Associations in Collective Memory, 2008). Perhaps to be understood as light and dark versions of the daimonic. The original sense of daimon can be traced through to its influence on the Spanish "duende" (Daimon, Djinn, Muse and Duende: variations on a timeless experience, 2007). Transforming the moment is then especially characteristic of the spirit of flamenco -- as described in a review by Stephanie Merritt of
Jason Webster's Duende: A Journey in Search of Flamenco (2002):
'Duende' is one of those words that is almost impossible to translate into
English, because its meaning relies on a wide frame of reference that even
many Spaniards would have difficulty explaining, so intimately is it rooted
in Andalusian culture, particularly the music and lifestyle of flamenco.
Perhaps the closest rendering would be 'spirit', but duende is far more than
this -- it is the essence of flamenco, a moment of transcendence, almost
possession, that is produced as the singer, dancer and guitarist merge into
each other's rhythm. But its meaning spills over from the music into a way
of life, as Jason Webster reveals in his memoir of a search for the elusive
spirit of Spain and its music....It is impossible to convey the feel of cante
jondo (the 'deep song') in any language.... [more]
As famously described by the Spanish poet, Federico
Garcia Lorca (Play and Theory of the Duende, 1933):
These dark sounds are the mystery, the roots thrusting into
the fertile loam known to all of us, ignored by all of us, but from which
we get what is real in art. . . . Thus duende is a power and not a behavior,
it is a struggle and not a concept. I have heard an old master guitarist
say: Duende is not in the throat; duende surges up from the soles of
the feet. Which means it is not a matter of ability, but of real live
form; of blood; of ancient culture; of creative action.
En-joying the other can also be understood in terms of humour and play (Humour and Play-Fullness: Essential integrative processes in governance, religion and transdisciplinarity, 2005; Enacting Transformative Integral Thinking through Playful Elegance, 2010). Provocatively it might be suggested that feminists would approve of any pejorative association of "development" with "he-done-ism".
It can be argued that the current role of play notably lends itself to possibilities in relation to governance (Playfully Changing the Prevailing Climate of Opinion: Climate change as focal metaphor of effective global governance, 2005). Of interest in the case of both is the sense of risk, potentially to be considered as a dangerous form of cognitive radicalization to which politicians may well be highly sensitive, as well as being dependent on it (Extreme Financial Risk-taking as Extremism, 2009).
Imagining through cognitive radicalization
It could readily be argued that imagining is a process of cognitive radicalization -- a dissociation from the senses and the information which they provide through conventional frames. This is the essence of the creative process. It is in this sense that artefacts engendered by such creativity via various technologies offer a vast array of products (and processes) that are the fruits of the imagination.
Especially relevant to this argument, however, is their function as "re-minders", namely mnemonic devices capable of eliciting the original process of imagination by which they were created. The products are otherwise effectively "frozen" as externalities -- obscuring any implication of the kind of cognitive engagement with any environing reality. Such an argument highlights a need to "unfreeze" categories of relevance to viable governance (Framing the Global Future by Ignoring Alternatives: unfreezing categories as a vital necessity, 2009). Each such "objectification" (typically termed "subjects" in the information sciences) obscures an implicit "subjectification".
Related issues have been variously addressed by such as the following:
- Robert D. Romanyshyn (Technology as Symptom and Dream, 1989)
- Martin Kemp (Seen / Unseen: art, science and intuition from Leondardo to the Hubble Telescope, 2006)
- Lorraine Daston (Things that Talk: object lessons from art and science, 2004) -- a compilation aiming to "escape from the opposition between positivist facts and cultural readings that bifurcate the current historiography of both art and science".
- J. R. Leibowitz (Hidden Harmony: the connected worlds of physics and art, 2008)
- John D. Barrow (Cosmic Imagery: key images in the history of science, 2000)
- Brian Arthur (The Nature of Technology: what it is and how it evolves, 2009)
- Larry Rosen (The Psychology of Technology, 2010)
- M. M. Weil, and L. D. Rosen (The Psychological Impact of Technology From a Global Perspective, Computers in Human Behavior, 1995)
- Janos Farkas (Technics as an objectification of human relations. Scientometrics, 1984, 6)
One interesting example is provided by the work of Arthur M. Young (The Geometry of Meaning, 1976) who effectively offers 12 meditations derived from physics which may be variously adapted to preoccupations of dialogue and governance (Typology of 12 complementary strategies essential to sustainable development, 1998). The dynamics of water may be used to give form to another possibility (Enabling Governance through the Dynamics of Nature -- exemplified by cognitive implication of vortices and helicoidal flow, 2010).
An even more radical cognitive possibility is to benefit from the radical nature of nuclear fusion technology -- in effect to "piggy-back" on recognition of the design challenges and solutions, as separately explored (Enactivating a Cognitive Fusion Reactor: Imaginal Transformation of Energy Resourcing (ITER-8), 2006).
Mirroring of self and other: enjoyment "through" the world
Whilst "en-joying" oneself merits continuing consideration as to its subtler and more fruitful meanings, there is a strong case for exploring more complex relationships between "en-joying oneself" and "en-joying the world". The latter, being more accessible through enjoying the "pleasures of the senses", offers a potentially instructive template through which to gain insight into possible understandings of "en-joying oneself" -- whether as suggested by the products of creative imagination or as cultivated in tantra.
Many authors have endeavoured to articulate the intimate relationship between "enjoying" and imaginatively "creating". This is notable in mathematics and with respect to understandings of insight in mathematical maturity (Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh, The Mathematical Experience, 1981; Marcus du Sautoy, Finding Moonshine: a mathematician's journey through symmetry, 2008; George Lakoff and Rafael E. Núñez, Where Mathematics Comes From: how the embodied mind brings mathematics into being, 2000). This is especially valued in the case of the most radically original forms relative to those favoured by convention. Appropriately, but curiously, there are an surprisingly extensive number of references to "mathematical joy".
Mirroring: There is a long tradition of seeing the objective "world" as a form of mirror for subjective self-understanding. This is especially developed within Buddhism. The mirroring of one in the other is commonly recognized in the case of interpersonal relationships -- or even in the relationship between owner and pet animal.
Such mirroring may also be understood between worldviews, as remarked with respect to arguments for the "moral equivalence" between opposing ideologies (Mirroring Global Moral Equivalence, 2010) -- and the efforts to deny it (Jeane Kirkpatrick , The Myth of Moral Equivalence, 1986). The situation is curiously evident over time to the extent that the blossoming of security services in democratic countries far exceeds that imagined in the much-deprecated communist regimes during the Cold War. This embodiment of the values of the other can be described in terms of enantiodromia (Psychosocial Energy from Polarization: within a cyclic pattern of enantiodromia, 2007).
Given the role of an "image", formed through perceiving "in a mirror", the role of "speculation" associated with such perception is especially interesting, notably because of the use of forms of mirroring to see into the future through divination (Engaging with the Future with Insights of the Past: Consulting the dead, sacrifice, bone-cracking and divination, 2010). As then, "speculation" is of course fundamental to risk management. Less evident is the significance of the "inversion" which results from use of a mirror -- and speculation.
Externality as a mirror of internality: In that sense, every advance in understanding of the external "world", most notably through what science is able to distinguish and order, is a potential catalyst for new internal understandings of the self. The reverse might also tend to be the case. With respect to the mnemonic arts, the external world may then be fruitfully understood as a form of "memory palace" or a "memory garden", a template for holding and interrelating insights -- given the questionable efficacy of other (collective) memory aids (John Michael Greer, Ars Memorativa: an introduction to the hermetic art of memory). This suggests a radically unconventional cognitive possibility of "turning towards" technology as a mirror, rather than "turning away" from it as some have suggested (Stephanie Mills, Turning Away from Technology: a new vision for the 21st Century, 1997).
Especially interesting is the manner in which traditional knowledge systems embed insight into nature, effectively transforming it into a a form of library, as variously noted by Darrell A. Posey ( Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity, 1999) and Jeremy Narby (Intelligence in Nature: an inquiry into knowledge, 2005; Psychotropic Mind: the world according to Ayahuasca, Iboga, and Shamanism, 2009).
The explorations of Arthur M. Young (Geometry of Meaning, 1976), in the light of his original development of the Bell helicopter (as noted above), offer one example. It is then relevant to ask what cognitive radicalization is implied by any technological innovation (as noted above with respect to the internet). What technologies are inappropriately assumed to have no cognitive implications as unconventional "ways of seeing" (****)
The argument has its implications for the issues of global governance, and their comprehensibility by the individual, as previously argued (My Reflecting Mirror World: making Joburg worthwhile, 2002). It may be extended more speculatively in relation to references to the "universe of knowledge" (Being the Universe: a metaphoric frontier, 1999). It may also be taken as a personal challenge in considering those widely presented as the most reprehensible, however they may be appreciated by some: Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Omar Ghaddafi (Looking in the Mirror -- at Josef Fritzl ? 2009).
Vision as constrained strategic metaphor: Strategies of every kind are articulated using optical metaphors, typically with reference to "vision", but also implied by use of "focus", "perspective", (world) "view", and the like -- including the importance of "image". As but one of the senses, vision has its constraints in addition to its advantages -- hence the use of the other senses for survival in nature. This suggests the need for polysensorial strategies, as currently explored in marketing (Strategic Challenge of Polysensorial Knowledge: bringing the "elephant" into "focus", 2008).
As typically used metaphorically, vision itself tends to omit recognition of the need for depth perception through stereoscopic vision, as explored by John A T Robinson (Truth is Two-eyed, 1979) and separately discussed (Transcending One-eyed Global Modelling Perspectives: incorporating under-currents into global circulation of value, 2010). A case has even be made for "poly-ocular vision" offering even greater depth (Magoroh Maruyama, Polyocular Vision or Subunderstanding. Organization Studies, 2004). These arguments point to the potential of forms of synaesthesia, perhaps as speculatively explored in relation to "grokking" (Authentic Grokking: emergence of Homo conjugens, 2003).
Imagination -- stepping into the mirror? Given the preference for simple uses of the vision metaphor, it is appropriate to ask whether more complex possibilities can be associated with it given the sophistication of modern optical systems and the understanding of them. Mirrors of course figure in such systems but often enabling the possibility of light to pass partially "through" a reflecting surface and being refracted by it. Many such possibilities are fundamental to forming an "image" -- however illusory..
Much has been made of the ways of forming an "image" and cultivating it as a key to recognizable "identity" -- processes central to promoting particular strategies and any degree of consensus on their implementation. (Kenneth E. Boulding, The Image: knowledge in life and society, 1956). The role of "imagination" has also proven to be of fundamental importance with respect to creativity -- a form of cognitive radicalization in its own right. The failure of imagination was a key conclusion of assessment of the intelligence failure of 9/11 (****). Perhaps this is also to be construed as a failure of cognitive radicalization? Arguably it is the lack of capacity to form a global "image" supportive of sustainable development and global governance that is a key to understanding of the crisis of the times (***)
Folk tales have long explored the magical possibility of stepping "into" or "through" a mirror into another reality. The question is whether the prevailing strategic optical system calls for a "stepping through" of the mirror by which reality is so successfully framed "objectively" by convention (Stepping into, or through, the Mirror: embodying alternative scenario patterns, 2008). A case can be made, for example, for recognizing a degree of "mirroring" at the global level, notably as a consequence of enantiodromia (Mirroring Global Moral Equivalence, 2010).
"Oneself" ∞ "World" -- mutual implication "through" entanglement and entrainment: Emphasis is placed here on a cognitively challenging process of "en-joying", partly suggested by enactivism, and used in the title En-joying the World through En-joying Oneself . Mirroring implies as mutuality to this process which would attach corresponding meaning to En-joying Oneself through En-joying the World.
A version of the relationship is widely recognized in arguments that it is by changing oneself that one can best change the world as variously discussed:
- Belinda Davis, et al. (Changing the World, Changing Oneself, 2010)
- Andreas Saugstad (Reflections on Russell and Wittgenstein: changing oneself and changing the world, Urban Semiotic, September 2008)
- John Gilmore (Changing the World Means Changing Oneself, SelfGrowth.com)
- United Nations Office in Belarus (Changing the World Starts from Changing Oneself, UN Bulletin, January-March 2010, pp. 8-9)
- Alison Marie Pfent (Changing Oneself and then Changing the World: the role of regulatory fit in identity change with implications for environmental activism, Ohio State University)
This recognition has informed various initiatives to "Be the Change".
However the mutuality explored here highlights a meaningful complementarity between Transforming Oneself through Transforming the World and Transforming the World through Transforming Oneself. The relationship is helpful discussed by David Owen (Maturity and Modernity: Nietzsche, Weber, Foucault and the Ambivalence of Reason, 1994, p. 12). Missing is the nature of the cognitive engagement with the context through which this complementarity is appreciated -- as with the transcendence of other binary dilemmas.
The question to be explored is the nature of the cognitive entrainment between "oneself" and "world" as well as the nature of the "action" implied by their entanglement. Such exploration could benefit from insights from physics into quantum entanglement and entrainment.
Relevant insights into entrainment may also be found from use of the concept in biomusicology (the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm), chronobiology, (the alignment of a circadian system's period and phase to the period and phase of an external rhythm), engineering (the entrapment of one substance by another substance), hydrodynamics (the movement of one fluid by another) and meteorology (as a phenomenon of the atmosphere). Some possibilities of relevance are discussed separately (Enabling Governance through the Dynamics of Nature: exemplified by cognitive implication of vortices and helicoidal flow, 2010).
Mirror test of maturity: The mirror test is widely recognized as offering an indication of self-awareness, since animals either possess or lack the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror. As an instructive exercise a hypothetical analogue can be envisaged as being applied by extraterrestrials to humans (whether individually or collectively) -- in the light of their degree of recognition of the above-mentioned mirroring between "oneself" and "world" (Self-reflective Embodiment of Transdisciplinary Integration (SETI): the universal criterion of species maturity? 2008).
Dynamics of en-joying oneself
Living in a mirrored reality: The apparent obligation to live in a mirrored reality, between the "world" and "oneself as a world", suggests the exploration of the nature of the cognitive "bridge" between those worlds (Living as an Imaginal Bridge between Worlds: Global implications of "betwixt and between" and liminality, 2011). The question in that discussion is whether the two worlds together point to a context through which to explore the possibilities of living "in between" the divisive choices by which society is currently faced -- at a time when there are many calls for new thinking and reflections on a "new Renaissance". As argued there:
The quest for integrative new thinking has variously focused on interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, on a global ethic, or on the potentials of the complexity sciences. These aspire to offer bridging explanations transcending conventional modes of understanding. However, whatever such efforts at "transcendence", they significantly fail to address the existential confusion which characterizes the lived experience of many, irrespective of the value attached to such possibilities. That experience is associated with the need in practice to live "in between" such explanations (even despite them) to the extent that they fail to address the experiential complexity of daily life. It is the cognitive quality and potential of that "in between" space which is of concern here, especially in the light of the suffering and creative stimulus which may be associated with it.
Embodiment: The concern with cognitive embodiment is variously developed by authors such as Gregory Bateson (Mind and Nature: a necessary unity, 1979), Henryk Skolimowski (The Participatory Mind: a new theory of knowledge and of the universe, 1995), George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (Philosophy in the Flesh: the embodied mind and its challenge to western thought, 1999), David Abram (The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world, 1997).
The argument is consistent with recognition of authors such as Paul Feyerabend (Conquest of Abundance: a tale of abstraction versus the richness of being, 1999), Sallie McFague (Life Abundant: rethinking theology and economy for a planet in peril, 2000), Steven M. Rosen (Topologies of the Flesh: a multidimensional exploration of the lifeworld. 2006).
In a period in which environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity is escalating uncontrollably, the question is whether there is a way of reframing such "externalities" as of vital cognitive significance to "oneself" otherwise relatively indifferent to the condition of the external "world". In a spirit of "selfishness", notably in relation to lifestyle diseases, there would seem to be unexplored psychological implications in this complementary relationship (Psychology of Sustainability: Embodying cyclic environmental processes, 2002; Cognitive Cycles Vital to Sustainable Self-Governance, 2009).
Potentially this may imply the possibility of challenging forms of cognitive radicalization (En-minding the Extended Body: Enactive engagement in conceptual shapeshifting and deep ecology, 2003; Being the Universe: a metaphoric frontier, 1999). It has implications for "security" in its more general sense (Alternative Approaches to Security: towards well-being and psychological dimensions of sustainability, 2004).
There is a tragically ironic argument in support of such an exploration in that the extinction of a number of species -- such as the rhinoceros and the tiger -- is directly threatened by the significance attached to their body parts for individual health and as aphrodisiacs in the light of the principles of sympathetic magic.
Engagement through aesthetic resonance: A speculative effort effort was made to explore the future role of aesthetics in governance (Aesthetics of Governance in the Year 2490, 1990). Of interest is the role of aesthetics in comprehension of the challenges of governance and how individuals engage with it in the light of their own sense of elegance and harmony. The point was well made by the biologist/anthropologist Gregory Bateson, in explaining why "we are our own metaphor", pointing out to a conference on the effects of conscious purpose on human adaptation that:
One reason why poetry is important for finding out about the world is because in poetry a set of relationships get mapped onto a level of diversity in us that we don't ordinarily have access to. We bring it out in poetry. We can give to each other in poetry the access to a set of relationships in the other person and in the world that we are not usually conscious of in ourselves. So we need poetry as knowledge about the world and about ourselves, because of this mapping from complexity to complexity. (Cited by Mary Catherine Bateson, pp. 288-9)
The argument was recently and regretfully echoed by Australian poet David Campbell (In a Land of Sweeping Plains, Poetry is hardly thriving, The Age, 5 September 2011):
Good poetry can be a still, small voice in a complex world, a reminder that someone has seen into the heart of an emotion or experience and translated it into words that, even if only for an instant, make us pause and think. Surely that moment is worth preserving.
In implied criticism of the rhetoric of Barack Obama, a lead editorial in the Financial Times (Accursed poetry of economic anguish, 3 September 2011) argued that:
When world markets offer nothing but depressing news, investors must turn to non-material values for solace. Poetry, for instance: what better to articulate the angst of accursed investors? As the last hopes for a sustained recovery are being crushed, market participants see an economic sky that, as Baudelaire said, "pours a day more gloomy than the nights".... The power of words is strong; there was always a risk of talking ourselves back into recession as bad news discourages activity and spawns further bad news. But positive talk, however poetic, is no help either unless it is matched by actions. Today, we have neither.
Embodying felicity: The future possibilities of cognitive radicalization in reconciling the policy issues of economic development and the environment have been well-articulated by the mystical poet Thomas Traherne (1637 - 1674). A poem to any transcendental felicity is cited by Elsa-Brita Titchenell (Thomas Traherne: his search for felicity, Sunrise magazine, August/September 1976):
You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins,
till you are clothed with the heavens,
and crowned with the stars:
and perceive yourself to be the sole heir
of the whole world,
and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you.
... young Traherne resolved to seek above all else the felicity he now knew was attainable through the affinity he sensed within himself with all divine manifestation... Traherne seized upon this vision and, excluding all self-interest, determined to pursue the path of growth toward ever more sublime apprehensions.... To love the world, just as it is, arouses an inner effervescence, a bubbling source of delight in the whole of nature's mystery, and this is abundantly expressed in his subsequent work. [writings available on The Traherne Association website]
Infinite en-joyment: The Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-European Nobel laureate, awarded the 1913 Prize for Literature, most notably for his poetry. His 150th Birth Anniversary is celebrated in 2011. The final chapter of his philosophical work, Sadhana: the realisation of life (1913), is entitled The Realisation of the Infinite. In it he cites the following lines from the Upanishads of relevance to the above argument:
Know everything that there is in the universe as enveloped by God.
Enjoy whatever is given by him and harbour not in your mind the greed for wealth which is not your own.
...that none could live or move if the energy of the all-pervading joy did not fill the sky.
Of further relevance to the argument, Tagore notes:
This makes it clear that it is really the infinite whom we seek in our pleasures....That we cannot absolutely possess the infinite being is not a mere intellectual proposition. It has to be experienced, and this experience is bliss....
There must be a complete idea that animates a poem....The progress of our soul is like a perfect poem. It has an infinite idea which once realised makes all movements full of meaning and joy. But if we detach its movements from that ultimate idea, if we do not see the infinite rest and only see the infinite motion, then existence appears to us a monstrous evil, impetuously rushing towards an unending aimlessness....
For joy is knowledge in its completeness, it is knowing by our whole being.... Such knowledge is immediate and admits no doubt. It is the same as knowing our own selves, only more so.
Missing from this articulation are the forms of terror with which such cognitive radicalization has been explicitly associated -- by others spiritually inspired by the sublime (Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1757; Kari Elise Lokke, The Role of Sublimity in the Development of Modernist Aesthetics, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1982). The terrifying consequences of engaging with the sublime might well be said to be "awefull".
Unity in creativity: The development of Tagore's reflection is to be found in his subsequent work (Creative Unity, 1922) whose introduction includes:
The quality of the infinite is not the magnitude of extension, it is in the Advaitam, the mystery of Unity. Facts occupy endless time and space; but the truth comprehending them all has no dimension; it is One.... Life's tragedies occur, not to demonstrate their own reality, but to reveal that eternal principle of joy in life, to which they gave a rude shaking....The joy of unity within ourselves, seeking expression, becomes creative; whereas our desire for the fulfilment of our needs is constructive.... It reveals in its form a unity to which all that seems various in it is so related that, in a mysterious manner, it strikes sympathetic chords to the music of unity in our own being.
It is unfortunately too readily assumed that "unity" of the most fundamental kind can be adequately indicated by words, especially nouns. This leads to overly simplistic representations of the quality of integration which may be essential to viable "globalization" -- implying forms of comprehension which are totally inadequate to its potential significance. As indicated by Tagore, there is a degree of mystery to enveloping "unity" which human evolution will presumably continue to unfold. Mathematics offers tantalizing glimpses of the implied pattern of connectivity but with little ability to give meaning of relevance to the condition of the individual in the world (Potential Psychosocial Significance of Monstrous Moonshine: an exceptional form of symmetry as a Rosetta stone for cognitive frameworks, 2007; Psycho-social Significance of the Mandelbrot Set: a sustainable boundary between chaos and order, 2005).
Tonal harmony: One approach to understanding the "lost language" of pattern-shifting in such a process reality can be obtained from insights into the 4,000 year-old chanted hymns of the Rg Veda of the Indian tradition (as discussed elsewhere). A very powerful exploration of this work by a philosopher, Antonio de Nicolas, using the non-Boolean logic of quantum mechanics, opens up valuable approaches to integration. The unique feature of the approach is that it is grounded in tone and the shifting relationships between tone. It is through the pattern of musical tones that the significance of the Rg Veda is to be found:
Therefore, from a linguistic and cultural perspective, we have to be aware that we are dealing with a language where tonal and arithmetical relations establish the epistemological invariances... Language grounded in music is grounded thereby on context dependency; any tone can have any possible relation to other tones, and the shift from one tone to another, which alone makes melody possible, is a shift in perspective which the singer himself embodies. Any perspective (tone) must be "sacrificed" for a new one to come into being; the song is a radical activity which requires innovation while maintaining continuity, and the "world" is the creation of the singer, who shares its dimensions with the song. (Antonio de Nicolas, Meditations through the Rg Veda: Four Dimensional Man, 1978, p. 57)
The centuries old mystical intuition of Traherne is suggestive of insights in the final lines cited which are potentially familiar to physicists exploring fractals:
and perceive yourself to be the sole heir
of the whole world,
and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you.
Similarly the emergent mystery of the nature of fundamental unity is appropriately suggested by the title of a collection of poems by Antonio de Nicolas (Remembering the God to Come: a book of poems, 2000). Enactive emphasis is usefully placed on "re-membering".
Veloping: dynamic transcendence of developing ∞ enveloping
"Veloping"? In an earlier discussion a speculative case was made for "veloping" as a neologism (Veloping: the art of sustaining significance, 1997). This argued that:
After many years of exposure to claims and injunctions regarding "development",
a certain weariness sets in. So many examples of "development" have become
soulless disasters -- as tourism to the most distant parts of the planet
rapidly makes evident. It could be argued that "development" has been a
prime cause of environmental degradation.... The United Nations has compromised itself
through failing to distinguish what the property "developer" does from
what some would claim to be genuine development. Why are there only "developers"
and no "developees"? Does any remaining credibility of development derive
from the cultivated ambiguity between what "developers" want (and intend
to get) and what "developees" naively assume they are going to achieve
as a result?
This included the suggestion that:
Maybe the future will clarify the art of veloping. It calls perhaps
for a new kind of social architecture. How is a space to be subdivided
to retain its coherence, allowing the parts to express themselves uniquely?
How can the organization of such a space continue to emerge through processes
of self-organization? Can it only velop by budding and exporting micro-communities?
Does it have to attempt to design the rest of the universe into its own
image? How does it learn from other initiatives? Hopefully computer graphics
and exploration of metaphors will give rise to new ways of working with,
and through, categories -- working from the whole down to the detail, without
either constraining the whole or inhibiting the expression of the detail.
But again, how to prevent any such system from losing its significance?
How should such a system velop?
Enveloping: The argument included no reference to "enveloping" as a potentially intriguing complementary process potentially consistent with the exploration of en-joying. Enveloping suggests a degree of caring. As complements, developing and enveloping suggest a sense of unwrapping and wrapping. This is potentially consistent with a cognitive understanding of one of the set of topological *** articulated by Rene Thom (Structural Stability and Morphogenesis, ***). The case originally made for "veloping", by implying qualities of enveloping, effectively obscures a fundamental distinction between veloping as a transcendent process interrelating developing and enveloping as complements.
Understanding of "environment", as the conventional complement of development, has been fruitfully challenged by J. Stan Rowe (What on Earth is Environment? The Trumpeter, 6, 1989, 4. pp. 123-126):
To see the world inside-out is to see it wrongly. Yet that is precisely the perspective that people have brought to the interpretation of their role on Earth. The new vision, from outside-in, more accurately portrays the ecological reality. It reveals people, society, human institutions, as dependent within the encompassing context of the planet. How to express this dawning comprehension? New verbal symbols are needed. Old words, carriers of old concepts and thoughts, are unequal to the task. Among the misleading ones are those that refer to human circumstances, to surroundings, to the milieu. Hence the significant question, What on Earth is environment? ....
The etymology of "environment" offers no easy path out of the morass created by hazy concepts. The word is derived from the French 'virer,' to turn, whence 'in/viron' meaning to encircle. To encircle implies a centre, suggesting that other things of greater interest lie within. Thus, nebulous "environment" surrounds more sharply defined realities, such as organisms and people, from which at second hand it derives its status. A subtle sycophant, environment used in this way reflects back to peoples' preoccupation with themselves. [emphasis added]
Complementarity: In terms of the earlier argument regarding other forms of fundamental complementarity (¡¿ Defining the objective ∞ Refining the subjective ?! Explaining reality ∞ Embodying realization, 2011), this suggests the possibility of fruitfully exploring the following:
- wrapping ∞ unwrapping
- description ∞ enscription
- computing ∞ imputing
- designing ∞ ensigning
- disembodying ∞ embodying
- externalizing ∞ internalizing
- subjectivizing ∞ objectivizing
- state ∞ action
Sexuality? The cognitive implications of these complementarities, with respect to en-joying "oneself" and en-joying an "other", are dramatically illustrated in the case of sexual intercourse. Cognitively the process can indeed be identified with either pole of any of the above. In this sense the "pursuit of happiness" can be usefully compared with the quest for ever greater sexual fulfillment -- frequently unrequited (as in the sense of the greyhound pursuing the hare around a racetrack).
Attitudes governing "developing" are then consistent with "masculine" engagement in the process, especially the sense of unwrapping and unveiling. Those governing "enveloping" are then consistent with "feminine" efforts to contain and encompass the process. The paradoxical complexity of that process, suggested above by the infinity symbol (as a substitute for the Moebius strip) points to the higher dimensionality with which "veloping" might then be appropriately associated. This also suggests that it is "en-joying" in a more fundamental sense which holds the dynamics of the relationship between "enjoying oneself" and "enjoying the world" (the title of this exploration).
"Consummation": It is presumably this mode of cognition which constitutes the embodiment of the ideals of "consummation" -- possibly framed as "not of this world", or only characteristic of the "heavenly life hereafter", and necessarily so if of higher dimensionality. This suggests various interpretations:
Aside from the metaphoric use of "heaven" in the Chinese classics, such as the Tao Te Ching, its "higher" (or "meta") cognitive dimensionality then appears to accord with:
- Islam, in the articulation offered by Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), the Muslim Sufi poetic author of The Alchemy of Happiness, a manual of spiritual instruction throughout the Muslim world and widely practiced today -- with various interpretations using the title (Marilyn Bowering, 2002; Hazrat Inayat Khan, 2004; Jabez L. Van Cleef, 2008). The alchemy has been briefly described as turning away from the world, and its constituents through four modes: Knowledge of Self, Knowledge of God, Knowledge of this World (as it really is), Knowledge of the Next World (as it really is).
- Christianity, in the understanding of felicity as "blessed happiness", as described by the 13th-century philosopher-theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) -- a Beatific Vision of God's essence in the "next life" (What is happiness, Summa Theologica, 1st part of 2nd part, question 3).
Visualization: Missing from this sexual metaphor are the cognitive implications of "through" in the title (of this exploration), namely enjoying oneself through enjoying the world (and vice versa). "Sex", and its cognitive consummation in an experientially mysterious form of "union", might then be even more fruitfully understood through a form of cognitive "plumbing" implied by the four dimensional paradoxes of the Klein bottle (Intercourse with Globality through Enacting a Klein bottle: cognitive implication in a polysensorial "lens", 2009; Engaging with Globality through Knowing Thyself, 2009).
Exploiting the sexual metaphor further, together with its fruitful outcome, there is an intriguing possibility of exploring the psychosocial implications of invagination in its relationship to globalization (Engendering Invagination and Gastrulation of Globalization: reconstructive insights from the sciences and the humanities, 2010).
In mathematics, the Klein bottle is a surface,
apparently taking the form of a "bottle" in three-dimensions, with
no distinct "inner" and "outer" sides, nor any boundary
(in contrast with the sphere). Being only a surface, it cannot act as a container.
It is related to the better known Möbius
strip which is a two dimensional surface, having only one side, but with
a single boundary. These structures need to be visualized in three dimensions
to be partially comprehended. Better still the visualization needs to be dynamic
to gain fuller comprehension -- especially in the case of the Klein bottle.
Of the many visualizations available on the web, the following were noted as
In fact, as is acknowledged, a three dimensional representation in the
case of the Klein bottle is itself completely inadequate (and misleading) -- implying an inappropriate
distortion that is nevertheless significant to what follows. The Klein bottle
is essentially a four dimensional construct -- beyond conventional representation.
Representation of transcendent globality: The argument here is that it
is precisely such paradoxical subtleties that address the widespread assumption
that the challenges of engaging with globality can be explicated with simpler
and more readily comprehensible forms. But, to the extent that such subtleties
are commonly experienced, the Klein bottle provides a surface with which they
may be experientially associated. The implications of the Klein bottle and the Moebius strip in this respect have been extensively explored from the perspective of phenomenological philosophy by Steven M. Rosen (Topologies of the Flesh: a multidimensional exploration of the lifeworld. 2006; Bridging the "Two Cultures": Merleau-Ponty and the Crisis in Modern Physics, 2008).
In the latter paper, Rosen addresses the intractable problems of uncertainty and subject-object interaction in physics, arguing that these can only be addressed by shifting its philosophical base from objectivism to phenomenology, as Maurice Merleau-Ponty suggested:
Merleau-Ponty's allusion to "topological space" in The Visible and the Invisible  provides a clue for bridging the gap between "hard science" and "soft philosophy." This lead is pursued in the present paper by employing the paradoxical topology of the Klein bottle. The hope is that, by "softening" physics and "hardening" phenomenology, the "two cultures" (cf. C. P. Snow) can be wed and a new kind of science be born.
Rosen cites the demonstration by the philosopher Maxine Sheets-Johnstone (The Roots of Thinking, 1990, p. 42) that, whereas Euclidean geometry involves practices that are largely disembodied, "topology...is rooted in the body". Rosen then argues:
One curious topological structure proves especially promising in mediating between theoretical physics and phenomenological intuition: the Klein bottle. An ordinary bottle conforms to conventional intuition regarding inside and outside. It is a container whose interior region is clearly set off from what lies outside of it. If we fill such a bottle with liquid, for instance, and seal its cap, the fluid will remain enclosed -- unless the surface is broken, in which case it will pour out. Although conventional containers are thus either open or closed, let us try to imagine a vessel that is both. I am not merely referring to a container that is partially closed (such as a bottle without its cap), but to a vessel that is completely closed and completely open at the same time. The liquid contents of such a strange vessel would be well sealed within it, and yet, paradoxically, they would freely spill out! The Klein bottle... is a container of this sort. Its paradoxical structure flagrantly defies the classical intuition of containment that compels us to think in either/or terms (closed or open, inside or outside, etc.).
The topological property of the Klein bottle that is responsible for its peculiar nature is its one-sidedness. More commonplace topological figures such as the sphere and the doughnut-shaped torus are two-sided; their opposing sides can be identified in a straightforward, unambiguous fashion. Therefore, they meet the classical expectation of being closed structures, structures whose interior regions remain interior. In the contrasting case of the Klein bottle, inside and outside are freely reversible.
Rosen's conclusion focuses on the core problem of physics of unifying all four forces of nature through a theory of quantum gravity -- then to face the prospect of probing inside the Planck-scaled "box", and thus encountering the sub-Planckian pandemonium so dreaded by objectivist ontology:
A Pandora's box would therefore be opened or -- switching metaphors, the genie would be let out of the bottle. What I am proposing is that the crisis can effectively be addressed by recognizing the "bottle" to be Kleinian. [NB: Rosen discusses quantum gravity in a related paper Quantum Gravity and Phenomenological Philosophy, Foundations of Physics, 2008, 38 (6), 556-82]
The implications of the argument are potentially evident with respect to representing effective global governance of the world and engagement with the environment. One recent example is the remarkable visualization presented by Michael Ricciardi (Who Runs the World ? - Network Analysis Reveals 'Super Entity' of Global Corporate Control, Planetsave, 28 August 2011). Are conventional efforts to understand global governance rendered naive by comparison, and perhaps deliberately so, as separately discussed (Tomorrow, Who Will Govern the World?, 2011)?
Such examples are usefully contrasted with the "transcendent order" of Edith Stein as summarized by Ernest J. McCullough (Edith Stein and Inter-Subjectivity, 2003). The argument here has been presented in terms of the comprehension of the more complex symmetry groups such as a Lie Group (Dynamics of Symmetry Group Theorizing: comprehension of psycho-social implication, 2008; Potential Psychosocial Significance of Monstrous Moonshine: an exceptional form of symmetry as a Rosetta stone for cognitive frameworks, 2007).
Any "transcendent order" presented statically through nouns invites misunderstanding -- as is the case with efforts to represent "it" dynamically as a process. Hence the merit of of the Sanskrit adage Neti Neti (not this, not that), as well as apophatic discourse in that regard and in relation to any complex identity (Being What You Want: problematic kataphatic identity vs. potential of apophatic identity? 2008).
The argument here, illustrated by the Klein bottle, is that geometry and topology offer leads into cognitive implication in subtler and more complex forms of globality that are of greater relevance to governance and the engagement with otherness, especially the environment (Reframing the Dynamics of Engaging with Otherness: Triadic correspondences between Topology, Kama Sutra and I Ching, 2011; Human Intercourse: Intercourse with Nature and Intercourse with the Other, 2007). They are effectively templates for cognitive radicalization capable of reconciling the paradoxes which undermine coherent strategic responses to current challenges -- most specifically the extent to which the "environment" is defined conventionally to be "outside" and unrelated to the "insideness" of psychological identification. This has been considered in another paper, appropriately titled, by Steven Rosen (Reinhabiting the Lifeworld: Ecology, Reversibility, and Self-Reversal, 2002).
Especially relevant are the cognitive and existential implications of the ambiguity at the interface between "insideness" and "outsideness", as discussed in relation to living in the "twilight zone" of liminality, itself variously associated with joy (Living as an Imaginal Bridge between Worlds: Global implications of "betwixt and between" and liminality, 2011).
However, as noted above, although the possibility of cognitive "intercourse" with globality is offered by the Klein bottle, it is useful to speculate on the provocative possibility that "reality" may not wish to be cognitively "harassed" in ways characteristic of the scientific method (Beyond Harassment of Reality and Grasping Future Possibilities: learnings from sexual harassment as a metaphor, 1996).
Radical unknowing: engaging with otherness through ignorance and emptiness
With respect to the comprehension constraints of the present time, the main paper highlights the extent to which current global society is best characterized as an Ignorance-based civilization, rather than a "knowledge-based civilization" as is so widely promoted. Ignorance is of course widely deprecated and its existence may well be avoided. Nevertheless it is effectively the door to the future and the potential insight that it is hoped will emerge from it.
Premature closure: The typical approach to ignorance is to elaborate enveloping explanations to ensure early closure and obscure the mystery of not-knowing and the challenging need for more appropriate questions. The closure is typically premature. The issue has been variously explored (Hilary Lawson (Closure: A Story of Everything, 2001; Orrin Klapp, Opening and Closing; strategies of information adaptation in society, 1978). The challenge may be provocatively presented (Beyond Harassment of Reality and Grasping Future Possibilities: learnings from sexual harassment as a metaphor, 1996).
"Unsaying": The challenge of engaging appropriately with fundamental "mystery", avoiding premature closure, has been most notably explored from a theological perspective through apophatic discourse -- the process of "unsaying", as separately discussed (Being What You Want: problematic kataphatic identity vs. potential of apophatic identity? 2008). The central motif of the ancient Chinese apophatic Zhuang Zi (Chuang Tzu) has been recognized as learning to embrace "not knowing".
Apophasis involves emptying the mind of its attachments to conceptual knowledge in order to experience the phenomenon "otherwise". The practice is characteristic of the Zen koan -- suspending the mind's conceptual mentation. Arguments are however required, typically in the form of metaphor and story, to assist in the process of such conceptual detachment and to transcend the tendency to "grasp" reality inappropriately, effectively "craving" for explanation.
Nescience: In commenting on the above-mentioned study by Y.
S. Rajan (In
Pursuit of Happiness, 2007), the suggestion was made that the dynamic complementarity between "happiness" and "unhappiness" could be fruitfully reframed through attention to "not-knowing" (Happiness and Unhappiness through Naysign and Nescience: comprehending the essence of sustainability? 2008). Somewhat ironically, the role of the "unknown" has acquired considerable prominence through a notorious "poem" by Donald Rumsfeld, as US Secretary of Defense, in the early phase of the global "war against terrorism" (There are known knowns, 2002). His understanding might well be framed as a form of cognitive radicalization -- even at its most dubious? The more general implications have been discussed separately (Unknown Undoing: challenge of incomprehensibility of systemic neglect, 2008). Rumsfeld exploited the theme in his memoirs (Known and Unknown: A Memoir, 2011).
Unknowability of "God": "God" is placed at the focus of individual inspiration and collective action in the previously cited argument of Rick Perry, possible future US President: I think it's time for us to just hand it over to God, and say, 'God: You're going to have to fix this'. Surely an example of incitement to cognitive radicalization, appropriately countered by those such as Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, 2006) -- offering another form of cognitive radicalization. It is the sterility of such dispute which is most regrettable, ignoring as it does a potentially larger challenge previously explored (The Consensus Delusion: mysterious attractor undermining global civilization as currently imagined, 2011).
Dysfunctional knowing: In a time of global crisis with very personal implications, there is a strong case for exploring radical modes of "not-knowing" to counter the widespread tendency to "know" what ought to be done -- systematically blaming others for not subscribing to that perspective. There is a serious possibility that global civilization, as currently framed, is essentially ungovernable (Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy ? 2011). Pretending otherwise encourages blame-games of various forms (Monkeying with Global Governance: Emergent dynamics of three wise monkeys in a knowledge-based society, 2011).
As noted above, the challenge is evident in that of representing effective governance of the world as in the remarkable visualization presented by Michael Ricciardi (Who Runs the World ? - Network Analysis Reveals 'Super Entity' of Global Corporate Control, Planetsave, 28 August 2011). Are conventional efforts to understand global governance rendered naive by comparison, and perhaps deliberately so, as separately discussed (Tomorrow, Who Will Govern the World?, 2011)?
Insights of physics: Again physics offers radical insights into "nothingness" and "emptiness" which merit exploration, as separately discussed in terms of their psychosocial implications (Import of Nothingness and Emptiness through Happening and Mattering, 2008; Where There is No Time and Nothing Matters: Cognitive Challenges at the Edge of the World, 2008). Using the Mobius strip and the Klein bottle to "hold" the "emptiness" -- an attractor around which communications circulate -- recalls the arguments of Ron Atkin (Multidimensional Man; can man live in 3-dimensional space? 1981) summarized separately (Social organization determined by incommunicability of insights, 1995).
It has even been proposed that the quest for a Theory of Everything be replaced by a quest for a Theory of Nothing (Russell K. Standish, Theory of Nothing, 2006). This could be especially appropriate in a period in which the optimistic individual quest for acquisition of "everything" is increasingly confronted by the economic reality of how to live with "nothing" -- whatever the funding levels of physics. Given the associations with terrorism, it is also appropriate to note the anarchist perspective articulated by Renzo Novatore (Toward the Creative Nothing, 1924).
"Strategic ignorance": Avoidance of central issues has been presented provocatively as a means of understanding the incapacity of global governance -- which might be assumed geometrically to be centred on inaccessibility, if not emptiness (Lipoproblems: Developing a Strategy Omitting a Key Problem the systemic challenge of climate change and resource issues, 2009). Cognitively the challenge has been usefully framed as the inability to detect the "elephant in the living room" of global discourse (Strategic Challenge of Polysensorial Knowledge: bringing the "elephant" into "focus", 2008; Climate Change and the Elephant in the Living Room: in quest of an endangered species, 2008).
Epistemological panic: The cognitive challenge of the non-duality implied by a transcendent order naturally invites a form of epistemological panic which merits consideration-- especially in the face of "nothing" (Epistemological Panic in the face of Nonduality: Does nothing matter? 2010). In the light of the strategic surprises to which authors such as Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable, 2007) have drawn attention. The question is then how to explore the cognitive radicalization appropriate to engagement with the inherently "inexplicable" (Engaging with the Inexplicable, the Incomprehensible and the Unexpected, 2010).
Special theory of cognitive relativity?
Relativism: Arguments suggesting the possibility of any form of cognitive relativism are typically abhorred as constituting inadequate explanations for experience. This is curious in that it assumes that some form of cognitive Theory of Everything is already available -- in a period in which physicists have long devoted very considerable effort in the quest for a physical Theory of Everything. The elements of the latter theory are already very complex and understandable in their entirety to only the few.
It is however the case that proposals have been made for a "theory of cognitive relativity" (Tae-Seop Lim, Mike Allen, Nancy Burrell and Sang-Yeon Kim, Differences in Cognitive Relativity Between Americans' and Koreans' Assessments of Self Differences in Cognitive Relativity Between Americans' and Koreans' Assessments of Self , Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 37, 2, 2008, pp. 105-118; Tae-Seop Lim. Mike Allen, Nancy Burrelland Sang-Yeon Kim, The Relativity and Salience of Identity Across Cultures).
Models as vehicles: It might be usefully assumed that the same condition could pertain in the case of any cognitive equivalent. It is however the case that many claim to have access to some such theory or to have elaborated one. The credibility of such "models" is typically constrained in many ways -- as with other forms of information. They may indeed provide coherence as a frame of reference for a particular audience. It is in that sense that the insights offered by Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity might prove suggestive of a healthy, realistic understanding of the relationship between such frames of reference. It might even be argued that such a theory was implicit in Einstein's own theory (Einstein's Implicit Theory of Relativity -- of Cognitive Property? Unexamined influence of patent office procedures, 2007).
This approach offers the delightful metaphor of theoretical "models" and "worldviews" as vehicles moving through the cognitive universe relative to one another -- and possibly at great distance from one another. Metaphors as explanatory vehicles may themselves be understood in that manner (Metaphors as Transdisciplinary Vehicles of the Future, 1991).
Light and comprehension: The widespread use of "light" as a metaphor for comprehension suggests that the fundamental role of light in any theory of relativity might have its equivalent with respect to some fundamental conflation, combination, complex, or configuration of understandings of the following: comprehension, connectivity, configuration, coherence, communication and confidence essential to credibility. They are usefully related by a mnemonic key as separately discussed (Primary Global Reserve Currency: the Con? Cognitive implications of a prefix for sustainable confidelity, 2011). This could give greater clarity to the nature of "enlightenment".
"Co-year"? It is however the profound implication of a "light year", with respect to any comprehension of the physical universe, that merits further consideration with respect to any "cognitive universe". The assumption is all too readily made that comprehension can be enabled -- even instantaneously -- by an explanation. However it is all too clear that the communication, comprehension and confidence in any insight may well take many years -- if not generations in the case of those "elsewhere" whose learning may need to be "brought up to speed".
It is also the case that the insights of those recipients may take a similar period to traverse the spacetime of the knowledge universe. Such communication distances are as evident with respect to theoretical physics and the intricacies of mathematics as they are with respect to the traditional knowledge systems indicated by Darrell A. Posey (Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity, 1999). Both may be understood to require many years of learning, if there is the aptitude and the willingness for that process.
This context then suggests the possible role of an equivalent to the "light year" in the form of what might be appropriately termed a "co-year", namely the time-constrained period required for communication, comprehension and confidence within the cognitive universe.
The preoccupations of astrophysicists and cosmologists with the origins of the universe 15 billion years ago, from light sources that have taken millions of light years to be detected, then suggest consideration of possible analogues in the case of the cognitive universe (Entering Alternative Realities -- Astronautics vs Noonautics: isomorphism between launching aerospace vehicles and launching vehicles of awareness, 2002).
NB: This argument is continued within the main paper (En-joying the World through En-joying Oneself) which provides a Concusion and bibliographical References.