Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
University of Earth Alternative view of segmented documents via Kairos

1997

Paradigm Leaps

Intrinsic Determination of Conceptual Patterning

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It is assumed that people are completely free to articulate new conceptual frameworks. The only constraint on this freedom is any sensitivity they may have to their understanding of reality and the weight they attach to associated facts. This understanding will of course necessarily be constrained by cultural and educational background. But this does not affect that basic assumption.

It is worth questioning this assumption. Supposing that the human mind is only capable of conceiving of, and understanding, patterns that are intrinsic to the organization of natural phenomena. Any new paradigmatic discoveries and frameworks would then need to be understood as comprehension of structures and processes already prefigured in the organization of matter and, as such, patterned into the human psyche. This would apply as much to understanding from nuclear physics as from cosmology and galaxy formation. Conceptual "breakthroughs" would then be breakthroughs into understanding patterns that are already effectively encoded and embedded in some way in bodily processes and behaviours. Truly a case of "knowing thyself".

The argument would then be that the millions of years of cosmic and biological evolution have established and reinforced certain patterns -- most of which may as yet be unknown to the conscious mind. It is through this meme pool of patterns that conceptualization presently occurs. Only when this meme pool is exhausted, whatever that might mean, would new pattern formation be possible. Explanation of new phenomena would always tend to default to extant patterns.

In practice this would then mean that conceptualization by relevant disciplines with regard to "distant" phenomena, such as galaxy formation or nuclear physics, can be "mined" for patterns which may apply in other arenas. It should not be forgotten that a succession of patterns has been "applied" to such phenomena in endeavouring to understand them. Although held to be incorrect, the earlier and simpler patterns continue to be used in communicating some understanding of the atom, for example, as part of successive stages in any educational process. Atoms continue to be explained using "solar system" models with electrons as "planets". For astronomers, the sun still "rises" over the horizon. Natural phenomena are viewed "through" such patterns. The history of science is one of introducing more complex patterns which seem to be increasingly unrelated to obvious sensations -- the material of a table being made up of largely "empty" space, for example.

Taking account of this assumption means that it is then possible to use patterns "discovered", articulated and given form through testing against natural phenomena. It raises the question, given the ability to conceive of an astronomical blackhole, for example, to what other phenomena might this pattern be usefully applied.

In the case of a blackhole, it can only be imagined and described (according to this argument) because it is inherent in our experience. As to why it seems so improbable and beyond anyone's immediate experience, this would then be more a question relating to the normal, or recognized, focus of attention in daily life. This focus concentrates on immediately tangible "external" phenomena. Almost everything on which people choose to focus in everyday life can be perceived through patterns that are considered more accessible and tangible -- and strongly reinforced by the mechanics and biology of living. It is only when people are challenged by, often unwelcome, circumstances that the inadequacy of such ordinary patterns becomes apparent. It is then that other patterns acquire credibility and meaning. In effect the patterns common to daily life necessarily relate to local phenomena, but are less capable of containing phenomena which imply non-local structures and processes.

It is somewhat ironic that explanations and understandings relating to daily life are seemingly trapped in mechanistic and "unimaginative" patterns of a relatively simple nature. In contrast those patterns accepted by the relevant disciplines relating to the atoms of which people are constituted, and the galactic context which they inhabit, are highly unusual, if not totally fantastic. Science even prides itself on the need for ever more fantastic explanations to encompass the complexity they encounter. Their credibility derives from long chains of complex reasoning and research which are often extremely difficult (and costly) to replicate. By strange contrast, there is extremely strong resistance to application of unusual patterns of understanding to the challenges of daily living -- however inadequate the conventional explanations are experienced to be. Efforts by people to break away from "scientific" explanations of their daily lives, through use of "non-scientific" insights, are deplored by the sciences.

Despite such resistance, there have been strange metaphorical borrowings to enable people to communicate insights which are often vital to their life strategy. Consider the following examples:

These examples suggest that it is worthwhile exploring insights hidden in concepts that have seemingly been articulated for other purposes -- and which may be the treasured monopoly of particular disciplines.

Through their support for the assumption noted above, disciplines have effectively legitimated a "copyright" on insights for their own exclusive use. As with corporate patenting, this proprietory approach to concepts has become a means to inhibit free use of insights which are the shared heritage of humankind. Disciplines require a form of license fee, implying involvement of one of their qualified practitioners, before the concepts can be used -- a pattern articulated by priesthoods before them.

The challenge is discovering how to mine the product of disciplined thought for insights intrinsic to our pattern of behaviour.

Clues are perhaps to be found in ways of understanding through simple versus complex models. The simplest patterns of thought tend to reflect the inorganic structure of atoms, molecules and particles. The simplest non-linear, "organic" structures reflect properties of amoeba and other single celled organisms. The range of species then constitute a veritable library of patterns of behaviour and environmental response.

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