How Informational Truths are Masking Understanding
“The learning of many things does not teach understanding” – Heraclitus
The Western World is undergoing meltdown as informational truths continue to displace and occlude experience-based understanding.
Derrida and Nietzsche have pointed out how ‘truth’ has been hijacking ‘reality’ in the Western-culture globalized modern world. It does so by having us point the finger at local presence [items of content] as the jumpstart source of cause-effect action-and-results where there is no such presence; i.e. where relational context prevails and where there is nothing outside of context [Derrida].
If we take the example of a child-soldier, the sort of information that is available to us is the social media type that shows events in the child’s life, as he develops. This information may be in the form of text, photographs-with-captions and/or narrated videos etc. It is thus ‘content-based’ and ‘can be proven true’; e.g. the child-soldier did shoot and kill the ethnic villagers.
What is missing from this content-based way of interpreting an unfolding relational social dynamic is ‘inductive influence’ associated with the individual’s situational inclusion in the overall relational social dynamic; e.g;
“Children model their behavior primarily on the behavior of their parents and other authority figures. Whether or not this behavior is effective at producing happiness doesn’t prevent the child from modeling it; the modeling is not a result of reasoning, but is due to simple observation and imitation. This mimicry is illustrated in the old saying “Like father, like son,” or now better put, “Like parent, like child.” Whether parents are happy or not doesn’t stop a child from imitating what he or she observes; children are like dry sponges ready to absorb the first water they come in contact with.”
Evidently, outside-inward situational orchestrating influence [inductive influence] draws forth and shapes inside-outward asserting actions.
The point is that relational context is everything. We can extract images from a hologram but they are hollow [no local sourcing force within them since they are just ‘appearances’ or ‘relational forms’ identified by the observer, items of content assumed to have their own meaningful ‘identity’. This is the standard assumption whether we are talking about items of content in language and/or items of content in the holodynamic of nature such as ‘humans’. Schroedinger, Bohm and Mach would agree with Derrida, that there is nothing outside of context. The persisting ‘cell’ we call [hurricane] ‘Katrina’ appears to be an ‘item of content’ within the flow of the atmosphere/oceanosphere and we use language to give it ‘its own meaningful identity’ and to impute its ‘item-of-contentness’ to possess the local power of sourcing ‘its own development and behaviour’, ... and we do this by measuring its local position, spatial extension and successive changes thereto (its operations and interactions) relative to a notional fixed frame (absolute space and absolute time).
Modern physics wherein ‘relations are all there is’ would argue that this is ‘all talk’; i.e. to break out and give meaning to a local item of content, a relational form within the holodynamic or transforming relational activity continuum, is the synthetic construction of noun-and-verb language, which imputes local ‘being’ based ‘identity to the relational form. That is, the OBSERVER uses noun-and-verb Indo-European language-and-grammar to make it over into a ‘local item of content’ which sets the stage for including it in logical propositions that can be ‘proven true’ such as ‘Katrina devastated New Orleans’. The truth of that proposition would be attested to by many witnesses who were present at the time, ... provided that the witnesses accepted the ‘existence of Katrina’ as an item of content capable of inflecting her own verbs [‘Katrina is growing larger and stronger’, ‘Katrina is moving northwest towards the Gulf Coast’, ‘Katrina is moving overland and dissipating’].
Similarly, the truth of the proposition that ‘several Mexicans were apprehended by U.S. border police, after making illegal entry into the United States’ ... could be affirmed by numerous eye witnesses, ... provided that the witnesses were not indigenous aboriginals, since, in the latter’s ‘reality’; (a) the identity-branding of people in imaginary line bounded ‘pens’, in this case ‘the Mexico pen’ makes no sense, (b) they were not guilty of ‘illegal entry’ because they were not ‘making entry’ period and the colonizing settlers and their border police had simply unilaterally declared that there was an imaginary bounding line that marked ‘entry’ and ‘exit’ into some imaginary tract.
“When we dream alone, it is only a dream, but when we dream together, it is reality’. – John and Yoko, Miguel Cervantes
In other words, ‘border police’ = ‘thought police’
“The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group . . . We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.” – Edward Sapir
The problem here, is that noun-and-verb language develops logical propositions that depend on the ‘reality’ of ‘items of content’ having ‘meaning-in-themselves’, when, in the physical reality of our natural experience, there is nothing outside of relational context. There are local relational forms in a hologram but they are purely relational in origin, even though they appear to the observer to have ‘persisting identity and meaning of their own’.
This problem, of first of all imputing meaning to a relational form [‘Katrina’] in the sense of giving it identity ‘in-itself’ as a local item-of-content, and then forgetting that we derived its meaning from relational context, ... is not only a problem with respect to how individual words fit into language, it is also a problem with respect to material bodies in nature.
“[In nature]… “the individual parts reciprocally determine one another.” … “The properties of one mass always include relations to other masses,” … “Every single body of the Universe stands in some definite relations with every other body in the Universe.” Therefore, no object can “be regarded as wholly isolated.” And even in the simplest case, “the neglecting of the rest of the world is impossible.” – Ernst Mach
“Fields of force are the primary reality, and ‘matter’ a secondary or derived phenomenon” —Michael Faraday
“What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the [relational] structure of space. Particles are just schaumkommen (appearances).”– Erwin Schroedinger
“Space is not [empty] Euclidian’ … “Space is a participant in physical phenomena” … “Space not only conditions the behaviour of inert masses, but is also conditioned in its state by them.”, … “the recognition of the fact that ‘empty space’ in its physical relation is neither homogeneous nor isotropic, compelling us to describe its state by ten functions (the gravitation potentials g(μ,ν), has, I think finally disposed of the view that space is physically empty . . . “A thrown stone is, from this point of view, a changing field, where the states of greatest field intensity travel through space with the velocity of the stone” —Albert Einstein.
“By the principle of Occam’s razor, physicists and philosophers prefer ideas that can explain the same phenomena with the fewest assumptions. In this case you can construct a perfectly valid theory by positing the existence of certain relations without additionally assuming individual things. So proponents of ontic structural realism say we might as well dispense with things and assume that the world is made of [relational-spatial] structures, or nets of relations.” – Meinard Kuhlmann, ‘What is Real’, Scientific American, August 2013
Scientists had hoped that ‘items of content’ such as ‘material objects/organisms’ would have intrinsic meaning in themselves, so that relational context would be built up from ‘what the items of content are doing’ (their own development, behaviour, operations and interactions), however, that is not the case.
In language, there was the same hope that individual words might have intrinsic meaning in themselves so that overall meaning could be constructed from words, but this is not the case;
“As Rorty contends "words have meaning only because of contrast-effects with other words...no word can acquire meaning in the way in which philosophers from Aristotle to Bertrand Russell have hoped it might—by being the unmediated expression of something non-linguistic (e.g., an emotion, a sense-datum, a physical object, an idea, a Platonic Form)". As a consequence meaning is never present, but rather is deferred to other signs. Derrida refers to the, in this view, mistaken belief that there is a self-sufficient, non-deferred meaning as metaphysics of presence. A concept then must be understood in the context of its opposite, such as being/nothingness, normal/abnormal, speech/writing,
... For example, the word "house" derives its meaning more as a function of how it differs from "shed", "mansion", "hotel", "building", etc. than how the word "house" may be tied to a certain image of a traditional house (i.e. the relationship between signifier and signified) with each term being established in reciprocal determination with the other terms rather than by an ostensive description or definition: ...”
Thus, complete meaning is always "differential" and postponed in language; there is never a moment when meaning is complete and total. A simple example would consist of looking up a given word in a dictionary, then proceeding to look up the words found in that word's definition, etc., also comparing with older dictionaries from different periods in time, and such a process would never end.
Here we have in language, the same limitation that we find in physics and in ecosystems; i.e. there are no local things-in-themselves, ... ‘relations are all there is’ [this is the physics equivalent of Derrida’s il n'y a pas de hors-texte.
‘Reality’ for us noun-and-verb language-dependent people, is something we construct by inverting the nature unfolding order of things and imputing local item-of-content ‘identity’ and ‘local jumpstart powers’ to ‘relational forms in the transforming relational activity continuum’. Thus, we would have to come up with the concept of ‘cooperation’ to explain ecosystemic dynamics since we would assume a diverse collection of ‘items of content’ rather than a relational complex wherein ‘relations are all there is’;
“[In nature]… “the individual parts reciprocally determine one another.”
But the ‘items-of-content’ foundation in our language-supported ‘operative reality’ fits well with Newtonian physics and its true-false logic, because it avoids having to deal with ‘outside-inward inductive influence’ by imposing absolute space and absolute time reference framing, an omission which Newton acknowledges in ‘Principia’, ... an omission which scientists and logicians seem to forget about.
“I wish we could derive the rest of the phaenomena of nature by the same kind of reasoning from physical principles; for I am induced by many reasons to suspect that they all may depend upon certain forces by which the particles of bodies, by some causes hitherto unknown, are either mutually impelled towards each other, and cohere in regular figures, or are repelled and recede from each other; which forces being unknown, philosophers have hitherto attempted the search of nature in vain; but I hope the principles laid down will afford some light either to this or some truer method of philosophy.” Newton, Author’s Preface in the ‘Principia’
The omission of inductive influence in logical propositions [predicative logic which is all-hitting, no-fielding based, unlike impredicative or circular logic] rules out acknowledging the natural precedence of relational context over notional ‘items of content’. In the physical reality of our natural experience, situational needs have precedence in shaping local behaviours; i.e;
“The dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants” – Mach’s principle
The circular logic of this natural dynamic which is intrinsically ‘relational’ deprives us of the logical certainty/finality/closure that we like to have in our mental modeling, which has lead us to make adjustments to our model so as to deliver that ‘local item-of-content’ based certainty.
“For the crystalline purity of logic was, of course, not a result of investigation: it was a requirement. … The preconceived idea of crystalline purity can only be removed by turning our whole examination around. (One might say: the axis of reference of our examination must be rotated, but about the fixed point of our real need.)” – Wittgenstein, ‘Philosophical Investigations’, 107-108
The adjustment of the model [constraining its animating source to local internal items-of-content] so that it will deliver the logical certainty we need is made in science as follows;
“Origin of Mathematical Physics. Let us go further and study more closely the conditions which have assisted the development of mathematical physics. We recognise at the outset the efforts of men of science have always tended to resolve the complex phenomenon given directly by experiment into a very large number of elementary phenomena, and that in three different ways.
First, with respect to time. Instead of embracing in its entirety the progressive development of a phenomenon, we simply try to connect each moment with the one immediately preceding. We admit that the present state of the world only depends on the immediate past, without being directly influenced, so to speak, by the recollection of a more distant past. Thanks to this postulate, instead of studying directly the whole succession of phenomena, we may confine ourselves to writing down its differential equation; for the laws of Kepler we substitute the law of Newton.
Next, we try to decompose the phenomena in space. What experiment gives us is a confused aggregate of facts spread over a scene of considerable extent. We must try to deduce the elementary phenomenon, which will still be localised in a very small region of space. — Henri Poincaré, ‘Science and Hypothesis’, Chapter IX, Hypotheses in Physics”
By invoking a notional model in which the animating source is constrained to local items-of-content, the ambiguity of situational inductive influence that prevents logical closure is removed; e.g. if we can count on the child-soldier as being an independent being [item of content] with internal components and processes driven and directed behaviour, we need look no farther than that individual [item of content] for the authorship of his behaviour [we can dig down into his biochemistry and biophysics if need be]. If, on the other hand, we model the form as a relational feature within a transforming relational continuum, then the certainty, finality and closure of our investigation goes out the window.
In other words, we need the purely mechanical view of dynamics in order to ensure that our investigation delivers the certainty and closure that we need. This is done in the case of social dynamics by constraining the model to purely mechanical dynamics [leaving out inductive influence] as the basis for human physiology;
“1. Purely mechanical phenomena do not exist. The production of mutual accelerations in masses is, to all appearances, a purely dynamical phenomenon. But with these dynamical results are always associated thermal, magnetic, electrical, and chemical phenomena, and the former are always modified in proportion as the latter are asserted. On the other hand, thermal, magnetic, electrical, and chemical conditions also can produce motions. Purely mechanical phenomena, accordingly, are abstractions, made, either intentionally or from necessity, for facilitating our comprehension of things. The same thing is true of the other classes of physical phenomena. Every event belongs, in a strict sense, to all the departments of physics, the latter being separated only by an artificial classification, which is partly conventional, partly physiological, and partly historical.
2. The view that makes mechanics the basis of the remaining branches of physics, and explains all physical phenomena by mechanical ideas, is in our judgment a prejudice. Knowledge which is historically first, is not necessarily the foundation of all that is subsequently gained. – Ernst Mach, ‘The Science of Mechanics: A Critical and Historical Account of Its Development’, Chapter V, ‘The Relations of Mechanics to Other Departments of Knowledge (Physiology)’
When the border police angrily jump up and down and accuse us of ‘illegal entry’, and label us ‘illegal immigrants’, insisting that we have an identity brand coming from the imaginary-line-bounded pen that we were born and raised in which is not allowed to stray into their pen and mix, without permission, with their identity branded pen occupants, ... they are coming from their own belief systems; i.e. their own ‘operative reality’, and they are claiming the right to impose their beliefs on us, using mantras like ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘God Bless America’ as they whack on us. But they are residents of a common earth just as we are, relational forms within a transforming relational activity continuum, and NOT independently-existing ‘items of content’ as they claim [as their 'dreaming together' informs them].
We are not obliged to take up their beliefs nor accept their logical proofs of our criminal offenses, which stand or fall on the basis of their intellectual worldview which, evidently, is an ‘operative reality’ that comes from their crony clique ‘dreaming together’ in terms of imaginary local items-of-content that purportedly reside, operate and interact in a habitat that is notionally ‘independent’ of the inhabitants (purportedly independently-existing local items-of-content) that reside, operate and interact within it.
Modern electronic communications including the worldwideweb and social media have made available to everyone, masses of information, in the form of text, pictures and captions, video footage with audio tracks, all of which can be verified for authenticity. Given that people, nations, corporations, groups, are ‘items of content’ in the predominating ‘operative reality’, there is a lot of stuff to ‘put together’ to make a ‘coherent unum’ from it. As Edna St. Vincent Millay already anticipated, in ‘Huntman What Quarry’, back in the middle of the 20th century;
“Upon this gifted age in its dark hour,
Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts . . . they lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun; but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric; undefiled
Proceeds pure Science, and has her say; but still
Upon this world from the collective womb
Is spewed all day the red triumphant child."
The point is that Nature is ‘one thing’, a transforming relational unum, and there is NO NEED to reduce the relational forms in the unum to ‘independently-existing items-of-content that locally author their own results’, apart from OUR NEED to satisfy our fetish for logical certainty and closure.
When we watch television reports of Hungarian border police jumping on ‘illegal immigrants’, some of whom are actually trying to deceive the border guards by hiding their identity branding that records which imaginary line bounded pen that is the true source of their brand, for fear that it will make them ineligible for passage, we can be assured by reliable authorities that these reports are legitimate and not fabricated, and that it is absolutely true that people with inappropriate identity brandings really did try to illegally enter into another imaginary line bounded pen, the exclusive reserve for a different identity branding.
Of course, in the physical reality of our natural experience, the relational forms of nature have been continually resituating in the quest for improved security and access to essential resources for nourishment, clothing and shelter. So, it is only the problem that ‘dreaming together is reality’ that is making people within some crony cliques into ‘border guards’ who are trained to see certain other people as ‘illegal immigrants’, ... and if we are not careful, we can get sucked into the same ‘dreaming together’ that becomes our ‘operative reality’; i.e. the ‘dreaming together’ that puts ‘items-of-content that author relations’ into an unnatural precedence over ‘relational influence that authors items-of-content’.