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:
- Weight: What has weight in a person's life? What is a weighty argument?
- Force: Much is made of strong and weak social forces. A presentation may
be forceful, as can the presenter. Again an argument can also be forceful.
- Attractor: The biological sciences make much of attractants. Some people
are attracted to each other. But what is an attractor -- and an emergent attractor?
How to understand the way in which people are attracted to belief systems
or charismatic personalities?
Falling in love: How to comprehend the experiences of falling in love?
What is moving and in what direction? What is being attracted to what?
- Coming home: How is one's own place or home sensed? What is associated
with this special sense of being in the right place -- of being in one's own
place? What draws people home?
- Orbit: Some people orbit around others, and may have others who orbit around
them. Children may orbit around parents like in a binary star system. Leaders
and guru-figures have people in orbit around them. What is involved in being
in orbit? What are the constraining forces that make this movement stable?
- Escaping from orbit: People can also escape from an orbit. Children escape
from the family environment. Pupils escape from the influence of their teachers.
Disciples escape from their masters. A special degree of some kind of energy
is required to achieve this. Some make the attempt but are drawn back. Some
escape from one orbit to be drawn into another.
- Light of comprehension: Why the many comparisons between light and comprehension?
As with light, there is a concern with speed of comprehension. Some things
may take a person many years to understand. Does speed of comprehension have
some fundamental status like the speed of light? Are some people and groups
in society usefully understood as light years of comprehension apart?
Mass and weight: People speak of a massive body of knowledge. Massive
significance? What impinges on awareness? Does such a body of significance
distort the perceptual environment in special ways -- through forces equivalent
to gravity? If one cannot maintain some detachment, approaching and leaving
it tangentially (or going into orbit), is one irreversibly attracted into
it? Is there an "escape velocity" associated with every mass of
- Event horizon: Comprehension is drawn towards any mass of significance.
If this significance lies beyond a critical mass, is it possible to escape
from it? Is one drawn in, as into a blackhole? Does it effectively create
an event horizon? Not only is it invisible from a distance, but any perception
from within it would then be unable to detect anything outside it. The more
extreme groups and belief systems would seem to evoke behaviour of this kind.
- Movement: How do people "move" within social systems and within
bodies of knowledge and belief? What is a voyage of discovery? What is a
psychological journey? What is the context or framework within which people
move? What is a shift of awareness?
- Relativity: For people and groups following particular trajectories, how
are they to understand their relationship to those on other trajectories?
Is speed of comprhension a major constraint to any meaningful communication?
Is much of what is perceptible as new knowledge from any perspective the product
of initiatives long superseded by those who engendered them?
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.