Know Your Place


................................................................................................................................................................................


"Yes, my friend, there is something about Orders; one prefers living in their bosom rather than out on the periphery, let alone in exile [...]"

[Hermann Hesse]
The Glass Bead Game, p. 201


................................................................................................................................................................................

Decentralization is a prerequisite for the rekindling of community in Western society.  

Mobility erodes community, but as we put down roots and feel attachment to a place, our human relationships deepen, become more secure, and - as they continue over time - more reliable.

The broader sense of self in traditional Ladakhi society contrasts with the individualism of Western culture. A Ladakhi's identity is to a great extent molded by close bonds with other people, and is reinforced by the Buddhist emphasis on interconnectedness.

People are supported in a network of relationships that spread in concentric circles around them - family, farm, neighbourhood, village. In the West we pride ourselves on our individualism, but sometimes individualism is a euphemism for isolation. We tend to believe that a person should be completely self-sufficient, that he or she should not need anybody else.

The closely knit relationships in Ladakh seem liberating rather than oppressive, and have forced me to reconsider the whole concept of freedom. This is not as surprising as it might appear. Psychological research is verifying the importance of intimate, reliable, and lasting relations with others in creating a positive self-image. We are beginning to recognize how this in turn is the foundation for healthy development.

Ladakhis score very highly in terms of self-image. It is not something conscious; it is perhaps closer to a total absence of self-doubt, a profound sense of security. This inner security breeds tolerance and an acceptance of others with all their differences.

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.186-7

................................................................................................................................................................................


The process of social ordering [of Amish society] is embodied in the Ordnung. These regulations represent the consensus of the leaders and the endorsement of the members [...]

The Ordnung clarifies what is to be considered worldly and sinful, for to be worldly is to be lost. 

Some of the rules have direct biblical support; others do not. Regulations that cannot be directly supported by biblical references are justified by reasoning that to do other would be worldly.

The old way is the better way.

A father who tried living in a newly formed Amish settlement "without the rigid traditions, where everything was figured out according to the Bible (or the understanding of the Bible)," found that "it didn't work." Following this experience he said, "I have a healthy respect for the traditions in the larger communities."

"[...] In spite of an outsider's view that Ordnung is a law, a bondage of suppression, the person who has learned to live within a respectful church Ordnung appreciates its value. It gives freedom of heart, peace of mind, and a clear conscience.

Such a person has actually more freedom, more liberty, and more privilege than those who would be bound to the outside."

[John A. Hostetler]
Amish Society, p. 82-4


................................................................................................................................................................................

I was with about fifteen Ladakhis and two students from Calcutta on the back of a truck taking us along the bumpy and dusty road from Zanskar.

As the journey went on, the students became restless and uncomfortable and began pushing at a middle-aged Ladakhi who had made a seat for himself out of a sack of vegetables.

Before long, the older man stood up so that the students - who were about twenty years younger than him - could sit down. When, after about two hours, we stopped for a rest, the students indicated to the Ladakhi that they wanted him to fetch water for them; he fetched the water. They then more or less ordered him to make a fire and boil tea for them.

He was effectively being treated as a servant - almost certainly for the first time in his life. Yet there was nothing remotely servile in his behaviour; he merely did what was asked of him as he might for a friend - without obsequiousness and with no loss of dignity. I was fuming, but he and the other Ladakhis, far from being angered or embarrassed by the way he was being treated, found it all amusing and nothing more.  

The old man was so relaxed about who he was that he had no need to prove himself.

I have never met people who seem so healthy emotionally, so secure, as the Ladakhis. The reasons are, of course, complex and spring from a whole way of life and world view. But I am sure that the most important factor is the sense that you are part of something much larger than yourself, that you are inextricably connected to others and to your surroundings.

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.84-5

................................................................................................................................................................................

Related posts:-
A Familiar Story | Carry Each Other
On the Importance of Community | Morals and Codes
Looking Out, Looking Up
Carry Each Other 
Life Support 
Rooted in blood and soil
Negative Space
Firm Foundations
Growing Down
Maturity 

Firm Foundations


................................................................................................................................................................................


Those with an insecure sense of self inhabit houses with poor foundations. They live in constant fear that their home could at any moment crack and crumble. Because the self is in constant danger of falling apart, they will not risk anything that may pose a challenge to its integrity. Harsh weather and heavy blows are avoided.

These people will often be turned inwards, constantly checking for cracks and frantically applying cement, gaffa tape, or elastoplasts to whatever wounds appear. Every blow becomes magnified.

They look for constant reassurance - yes, your house is good (so, no, it won't fall down) - but all reassurance amounts to little more than a superficial and temporary remedy. They've seen the cracks in the basement, and they know how serious things really are.

A secure sense of self rests upon firm foundations, which are, according to some thinkers, put in place during the early years of a person's life. If a healthy relationship is not established with primary care-givers (most especially the mother) then whatever is built subsequently will rest upon an infirm sense of self. A bad start can, according to some, affect everything that follows.

Inflation of the self (self aggrandisement, narcissism, etc) can be a distraction from the worrying reality that remains to be confronted, down in the basement. Make enough noise about your wallpaper and maybe nobody will notice that your house is subsiding (not even you).

If we feel insecure about our foundations, then we may be adverse to leaving our house, lest it should fall over whilst we're gone. We don't believe that it will stay standing without us there to hold it all together. A firm sense of self, on the other hand, allows us to leave home and travel to new, and perhaps unfamiliar, surroundings. We're able to sample foreign customs, and try new ways of being; safe in the knowledge that our home will still be there when we return.

When we have a firm sense of self we're more able to look outwards, and what we see becomes less coloured by our own viewpoint: we project less of ourselves onto things. We stop taking things so personally, and realise that everything isn't about us. Maybe that person spoke to you sharply because you're inherently bad - or maybe they were just having a bad day. We're more inclined to grant the benefit of the doubt. As more colours are allowed into the picture, a more balanced view emerges.


................................................................................................................................................................................


Before feeling my way into Ladakhi culture, I had thought that leaving home was part of growing up, a necessary step toward becoming an adult.

I now believe that large extended families and small intimate communities form a better foundation for the creation of mature, balanced individuals.

A healthy society is one that encourages close social ties and mutual interdepedence, granting each individual a net of unconditional emotional support. Within this nurturing framework, individuals feel secure enough to become quite free and independent.

Paradoxically, I have found the Ladakhis less emotionally dependent than we are in industrial society. There is love and friendship, but it is not intense or grasping - not a possession of one person by another.

I once saw a mother greeting her eighteen-year-old son when he returned home after being away for a year. She seemed surprisingly calm, as though she had not missed him. It took me a long time to understand this behaviour.

I thought my Ladakhi friends reacted strangely when I arrived back after being away for the winter. I had brought presents I knew they would like. I expected them to be pleased to see me and happy at the gifts. But to them it was as if I had not been gone. They thanked me for the presents, but not in the way that I was hoping. I was wanting them to look excited and confirm our special friendship. I was disappointed. Whether I had been away for six months or a day, they treated me in the same way.

I came to realize, however, that the ability to adjust to any situation, to feel happy regardless of the circumstances, was a tremendous strength.

I came to appreciate the easy, relaxed attitude of my Ladakhi friends and to like being treated as though I had never been away.

Ladakhis do not seem to be as attached to anything as we are. 

Most of them are, of course, not completely without the attachments that so affect our lives. But again, there is a difference - an all pervasive difference - in degree. One may be unhappy to see a friend leave or to lose something, but not that unhappy.

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.86-7


................................................................................................................................................................................



The infant moves slowly out from the mother, but it "can do this fully and sucessfully only to the extent that the mother is his absolutely unquestioned safe place to which he can always instantly return and be nurtured.

Only when the infant knows that the mother matrix will not abandon him can that infant move into childhood with confidence and power [...]

[...] The physical mother remains the primary matrix even though we separate from her and move into larger matrices [...]"

[Marion Woodman, quoting Joseph Chilton Pearce]
Addiction to Perfection, p. 18


................................................................................................................................................................................



Task performances sometimes are a means by which children hold onto self-esteem. This is particularly clear in the group Dweck and her colleagues term "helpless" children. These children hold performance goals (goals of demonstrating they have skill) and are experiencing failure.

They aren't able to maintain self-esteem with good performances, so they engage in self-inflating verbalizations: talking about skills in domains other than the one pertaining to this task, or boasting of wealth and possessions.

Such behaviours seem to reflect a desire to regain threatened self-esteem in domains other than the one that's responsible for the threat.

[Charles S. Carver & Michael Scheier]
On the Self-Regulation of Behavior, p. 79-80


................................................................................................................................................................................


Once adequate support is developed within the individual and/or in the environment, greater awareness and new ways of being in the world are possible.

[Herb Stevenson]
'Paradox: A Gestalt Theory of Change'


................................................................................................................................................................................


[When something anamalous occurs] how do we construe the occurence? Is it a major event, or a minor event?

And my advice would be, unless there’s strong reason, presume its a minor event and start operating at that level, because otherwise every argument becomes a catastrophe. And if that’s the case you actually can’t solve any problems - you won’t be able to discuss anything - because as soon as you bring up an anomaly - something unpleasant - the other person will assume that everything’s over and get so shorted out that you won’t be able to talk with them.

Those are the sort of people who will cry if you bring up anything negative - their value structure is so fragilely constructed that anything you toss at them - that’s a question - is enough to shake the entire structure to its foundations.

[Jordan Peterson]
2017 Maps of Meaning 7: Images of Story & MetaStory


................................................................................................................................................................................


Related posts:-
Knowing Your Place
Growing Down
Maturity 
Life Support
Lost Tribe
A Safe Space
Love Your Self 
Forget Your Self
Communal Benefits
Community Service
Alone Together
Rooted in blood and soil
Carry Each Other
What are the people saying?
One Love?

Where physics ends (and metaphysics begins)

Physics is unable to stand on its own feet, but needs a metaphysics on which to support itself, whatever fine airs it may assume towards the latter.

[...] Certainly the whole present condition of all things in the world or in nature must necessarily be capable of explanation from purely physical causes.

But such an explanation - supposing one actually succeeded so far as to be able to give it - must always just as necessarily be burdened with two essential imperfections [...]

On account of these imperfections, everything so explained would still really remain unexplained.

1. The beginning of the chain of causes and effects that explains everything, in other words, of the connected and continuous changes, can positively never be reached, but, just like the limits of the world in space and time, recedes incessantly and in infinitum.
2. [...] all the efficient causes from which everything is explained always rest on something wholly inexplicable, that is, on the original qualities of things and the natural forces that make their appearance in them.

[...] Accordingly there is not a fragment of clay, however little its value, that is not entirely composed of inexplicable qualities.

Therefore these two inevitable defects in every purely physical, i.e., causal, explanation indicate that such an explanation can be only relatively true, and that its whole method and nature cannot be the only, the ultimate and hence sufficient one,

in other words, cannot be the method that will ever be able to lead to the satisfactory solution of the difficult riddle of things, and to the true understanding of the world and of existence;

but that the physical explanation, in general and as such, still requires one that is metaphysical, which would furnish the key to all its assumptions, but for that very reason would have to follow quite a different path.

[the difference between them] rests on the Kantian distinction between phenomena and thing-in-itself.

[...] As for the motion of the projected bullet, so also for the thinking of the brain, a physical explanation in itself must ultimately be possible which would make the latter just as comprehensible as the former.

But the former, which we imagine we understand so perfectly, is at bottom just as obscure to us as the latter; for whatever the inner nature of expansion in space, of impenetrability, mobility, hardness, elasticity, and gravity may be - it remains, after all physical explanations, just as much a mystery as thinking does.

[...] physical explanation everywhere comes across what is metaphysical, and by this is reduced to nought, in other words, ceases to be explanation.

[In materialism we see] the unceasing attempt to set up a system of physics without metaphysics, in other words, a doctrine that would make the phenomenon into the thing-in-itself [...]

They endeavour to show that all phenomena are physical, even those of the mind; and rightly so, only they do not see that everything physical is, on the other hand, metaphysical also.

[...] Beginningless and endless causal series, inscrutable fundamental forces, endless space, beginningless time, infinite divisibility of matter, and all this further conditioned by a knowing brain, in which alone it exists just like a dream and without which it vanishes - all these things constitute the labyrinth in which naturalism leads us incessantly round and round.

[...] however great the advances which physics (understood in the wide sense of the ancients) may make, not the smallest step towards metaphysics will be made in this way

[...] For such advances will always supplement only knowledge of the phenomenon, whereas metaphysics strives to pass beyond the phenomenal appearance to that which appears [...]

Metaphysics [...] remains immanent, and does not become transcendent; for it never tears itself entirely from experience, but remains the mere interpretation and explanation thereof, as it never speaks of the thing-in-itself otherwise than in its relation to the phenomenon.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, Volume II, p.172-7, 183

................................................................................................................................................................................

Related posts:-
This, Not That
A Different Difference 
The Eternal Ideas 
How do you take your metaphysics?

How do you take your metaphysics?



Metaphysics: all so-called knowledge that goes beyond the possibility of experience, and so beyond nature or the given phenomenal appearance of things,

in order to give information about that which, in some sense or other, this experience or nature is conditioned [...]

[... ] that which is hidden behind nature, and renders nature possible.
................................................................................................................................................................................

But the great original difference in the powers of understanding, and also their cultivation [...] cause so great a variety among men that [...]

no one metaphysical system can suffice for all.

Therefore in the case of civilized nations we generally come across two different kinds of metaphysics, distinguished by the fact that the one has its verification and credentials in itself, the other outside itself.

1. Philosophy

[...] A system of the first kind, that is, a philosophy, makes the claim, and therefore has the obligation, to be true sensu stricto et proprio in all that it says, for it appeals to thought and conviction

[Because it requires] reflection, culture, leisure, and judgement for the recognition of their credentials, [it] can be accessible only to an extremely small number of persons [...]


2. Religion

A religion, on the other hand, has only the obligation to be true sensu allegorico, since it is destined for the innumerable multitude who, being incapable of investigating and thinking, would never grasp the profoundest and most difficult truths sensu proprio.

[Religions] are exclusively for the great majority of people who are not capable of thinking but only of believing, and are susceptible not to arguments, but only to authority.


Before the people truth cannot appear naked.

[...] Therefore, not only the contradictory but also the intelligible dogmas are really only allegories and accommodations to the human power of comprehension

[...] This allegorical nature of religions also exempts them from the proofs incumbent on philosophy, and in general from scrutiny and investigation.

[...] We therefore see that in the main, and for the great majority unable to devote themselves to thinking, religions fill very well the place of metaphysics in general, the need of which man feels to be imperative.

They do this partly for a practical purpose as the guiding star of their action, as the public standard of integrity and virtue, as Kant admirably expresses it; partly as the indispensable consolation in the deep sorrows of life.

In this they completely take the place of of an objectively true system of metaphysics, since they lift man above himself and above existence in time, as well, perhaps, as such a system ever could.

In this their great value, indeed their indispensability is quite clearly to be seen. For Plato rightly says:

"It is impossible for the crowd to be philosophically enlightened."

The controversy between supernaturalists and rationalists, carried on so incessantly in our own day, is due to the failure of both to recognize the allegorical nature of all religion.

[...] Religions are necessary for the people, and are an inestimable benefit to them.

[...] to require that even a great mind - a Shakespeare or a Goethe - should make the dogmas of any religion his implicit conviction, bona fide et sensu proprio, is like requiring a giant to put on the shoes of a dwarf.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, Volume II, p.164, 166-8

................................................................................................................................................................................

Related posts:-
Faith vs Reason
The gods are within us
Real Magic
The Pyramid 
A Higher Power
The Dangers of Dogmatism 

Abstract / Concrete


................................................................................................................................................................................


Short                          -                       Long
Concrete                    -                      Abstract
Pragmatic                   -                      Ideal
Narrow                       -                      Wide
Small                          -                      Large
Separate                      -                      Unified
Many                           -                      One
Close                           -                      Distant
Specific                       -                      General
Part                              -                      Whole
Individual                    -                     Collective
Analogue                   -                       Digital
Deduction                    -                     Induction
Differentiation             -                     Integration
Analysis                       -                     Synthesis
Destruction                  -                     Creation 
Chaos                           -                     Order
Low                              -                     High
Hot                               -                     Cold
Body                             -                     Mind


................................................................................................................................................................................


At the top of the pyramid things appear to be still, an illusion. At the bottom we can see that they are moving, changing.

Top: no change
Bottom: all change

Thus, we find god at both extremes: above, and below.


................................................................................................................................................................................


[...] the mind of limited capacity can survey the few and simple relations that lie within the range of its narrow sphere of action, and can handle the levers of these with much greater ease than the eminent mind could. Such a mind takes in an incomparably greater and richer sphere and works with long levers.

Thus the insect sees everything on its little stem and leaf with the most minute accuracy and better than we can; but it is not aware of a man who stands three yards from it.

On this rests the slyness of the dull and stupid, and this paradox: "There is a mystery in the minds of those who have none."

For practical life genius is about as useful as an astronomer's telescope is in a theatre.

[...] For the intellect is a differentiating, and consequently separating, principle. Its different gradations, much more even than those of mere culture, give everyone different concepts, in consequence of which everyone lives to a certain extent in a different world, in which he meets directly only his equals in rank, but can attempt to call to the rest and make himself intelligible to them only from a distance.

Great differences in the degree, and thus the development, of the understanding open a wide gulf between one man and another, which can be crossed only by kindness of heart. This, on the other hand, is the unifying principle that identifies everyone else with one's own self.

The connexion, however, remains a moral one; it cannot become intellectual.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, Volume II, p.145-6


................................................................................................................................................................................


Mice live all their lives next to the ground, building their nests and gathering their food among the roots of the tall grass and bushes of the prairie. Because of this, Mice never see things at a distance.

Everything they can see is right in front of them, where they can sniff at it with their noses and Touch it with their whiskers.  Their lives are spent in Touching things in this way, and in gathering seeds and berries to eat.

A Mouse Person would be one who saw everything close up, and whose vision would be limited to the immediate world around him.  

He would be a gatherer of things.  He might gather facts, information, material objects, or even ideas.  But because he could not see far enough to connect to his world with that of the great prairie of the world around him, he would never be able to use or understand all that he saw or gathered.

[Hyemeyohsts Storm]
Seven Arrows, p. 7-8


................................................................................................................................................................................


It is difficult for an adversary to see further than the dichotomy between winning and losing in the adversarial combat. Like a chess player, he is always tempted to make a tricky move, to get a quick victory.

The discipline, always to look for the best move on the board, is hard to attain and hard to maintain.

The player must have his eye always on a longer view, a larger gestalt.

[Gregory Bateson]
Mind and Nature, p. 239

................................................................................................................................................................................


Whether something is monolithic, binary, dialectical, or meaninglessly plural is a function of your distance from it.

When you're very close to something, all you can see is oneness, pure dominance by the thing of all others. For a baby, Mother's breast is the entire universe. For a fundamentalist, it's God.

When you're a bit further away, a tidy binary replaces oneness. There are men and there are women. There's East and there's West. This is the distance journalists live at. The world of journalism is always seeing small fluctuations in the relative positions of big, established binaries like these.

[Momus]
'Binary hopping' 


................................................................................................................................................................................


[...] it is clear what is the function to which Schiller attributes the highest value, divinity: it is the constancy of the idea of the ego.

The ego that abstracts itself from affectivity is for him the most important thing, consequently this is the idea he has differentiated most, as is the case with every introvert. His god, his highest value, is the abstraction and conservation of the ego.

For the extravert, on the contrary,  the god is the experience of the object, complete immersion in reality; hence a god who became man is more sympathetic to him than an eternal, immutable lawgiver.

From the abstracting attitude of consciousness, which in pursuit of its ideal makes an experience of every occurrence and from the sum of experience a law, a certain limitation and impoverishment result which are characteristic of the introvert.

[...] For the more the relation to the object is restricted by abstraction (because too many "experiences" and "laws" are made), the more insistently does a craving for the object develop in the unconscious, and this finally expresses itself in consciousness as a compulsive sensuous tie to the object.

[C. J. Jung]
Psychological Types, p. 91-3


................................................................................................................................................................................


[...] it should not be forgotten that, in the same measure as the conscious attitude may pride itself on a certain godlikeness by reason of its lofty and absolute standpoint, an unconscious attitude develops with a godlikeness oriented downwards to an archaic god whose nature is sensual and brutal.

[C. J. Jung]
Psychological Types, p.96


................................................................................................................................................................................


Human beings are capable of meta-abstraction: there’s the phenomena in and of itself - that complicated and multi-layered thing; and then there’s your representation of it - which is what you perceive, [and] is already abstracted, and limited, to a tremendous degree; and then there’s abstractions of that.

It seems to me that language is a thumbnail of images, that are a thumbnail of the reality of things. So if I say ‘cat’ to you, what the word does is produce the image of a generic cat - which is already a kind of abstraction - and then that’s attached to your understanding, so that you can generate the understanding that would go along, at least in part, with perceiving or interacting with a real cat.

So in some sense what I’m doing is compressing the information down to a tremendously low-resolution thumbnail, and then throwing that at you, and you decompress it into a low-resolution image, and then you decompress that into something that’s roughly equivalent to reality. That’s what you’re doing when you’re reading a book, for example. When you read the book you can conjure up images of the places that the author is talking about, and […] of the characters.

Intelligence in general seems to be whatever underlies the ability to generate those low-resolution representations, and to utilise them - to manipulate them in your mind [and] communicate them to others.

Your ability to abstract, and then your ability to manipulate those abstractions, seems to be at the core of whatever ‘intelligence’ is, and that’s what IQ purports to measure.

[Jordan B. Peterson]
'2015 Personality Lecture 18: Openness - Creativity & Intelligence'


................................................................................................................................................................................


Temple Grandin’s claim was that she cannot see ‘house,’ she can only see a house. So if you say to her something like ‘house’ then what comes to mind is a particular house that she’s actually experienced - she can’t take the next level of abstraction past that. [It] seems to be something like a deficit in generating a hieroglyphic image.

[Children] draw people with sticks and circles, [and it’s] unbelievably sophisticated - because those aren’t pictures, they’re hieroglyphics. The child automatically produces them, and that’s a proto-linguistic development. Some autistic kids can draw like Leonardo DaVinci, with no training whatsoever, and that’s partly because they don’t use hieroglyphics - they don’t really conceptualise the thing they’re looking at as an abstraction. They see nothing but detail.

If you’re training yourself to be a visual artist, you have to stop looking at the abstraction, and start looking at the thing. That’s very unsettling.

If you take your hand, for example, and you look at it, and you snap it out of ‘hand’ representation, it all of a sudden looks like some kind of octopus claw. And as soon as you see it that way, you can draw it. But as long as you’re seeing it like a ‘hand,’ you’re going to put a balloon, with four balloons on it, and that’s going to be the ‘hand.’

[Jordan B. Peterson]
'2015 Personality Lecture 18: Openness - Creativity & Intelligence'


................................................................................................................................................................................


In Barthes [...] criticism became what it has only rarely been, subjective and epicurean. Barthes wanted, especially in his last books, a sensuous relation to phenomena rather than an ethical discrimination of their qualities or consequences.

We can interpret pleasure as a more-or-less continuous satisfaction or, as in Barthes's writing, a momentary bliss: in his case it depends upon a savour, a glance, a phrase. In such epicurean forms it goes with the cult of the fragment, not the large-scale work but the sentence. Style appears as a flicker of eloquence; it accompanies the refusal to be great.

Judgement and discrimination are disavowed because they imply an aspiration to completeness which is distasteful to patricians. In judgement and discrimination the detail is chosen only for its representative force and never for the extractable pleasure it provides.

[Denis Donoghue]
The Arts Without Mystery, p. 125


................................................................................................................................................................................



People can identify a given action in many ways. Of particular interest is that act identifications vary in level of abstraction.

High-level identifications are abstract (e.g. becoming more cultured), lower-level identifications become more and more concrete (e.g. attending a ballet; listening to sounds and watching people move around while you sit quiet and still). Low-level identifications tend to convey a sense of "how" an activity is done; high-level ones tend to convey a sense of "why."

Although people drift upward and downward as circumstances change, there's also evidence that people differ in the levels they tend to maintain as they think about what they're doing. Some people report typically thinking of their actions in low-level terms; others typically think of their actions in high-level terms.

These differences are reflected in a variety of ways. For example, compared with high-level identifiers, low-level identifiers tend to be more impulsive and less planful or stable in their behaviour, consistent with the idea that they're especially vulnerable to cues implying different identifications.

[...] Emmons (1992) found evidence that people differ in levels of abstraction they characteristically use when reporting their personal strivings. Some people report strivings that are broad, abstract, and expansive. Others report strivings that are narrower, more concrete, and even superficial.

These tendencies are also reflected in moment-to-moment contruals of behaviours they're engaged in. When randomly paged and asked to report what they were doing, high-level strivers reported they were engaged in relatively high-level activities; low-level strivers reported they were engaged in relatively concrete actions.

[C.S. Carver & M.F. Scheier]
On the Self-Regulation of Behavior, p. 74-5, 79




A high-level identifier is akin to a frame, or a grand-narrative.

In the absence of high-level story, behaviour becomes more diverse. The story imposes sense on those things nested within it; it orders them, providing direction, or 'rules'; it erects boundaries and classes certain things as off-limits.

In its absence, anything goes.

God is the ultimate high-level identifier. For believers, everything takes place under the omniscient eye of a higher-power: no action goes unseen.


................................................................................................................................................................................


Another similarity between the Miller et al. (1960) statement and the Powers (1973a) model concerns the distinction between digital and analog processes and the idea that the two can work in concert within a system.

The Powers model is mostly analog in nature (i.e. both feedback and discrepancies are represented continuously and quantitatively). It deviates from that quality only at the program level, where behaviour is a digital process (i.e. a linear string of decisions).

In the same way, Miller et al. argued that "planning at the higher levels [equivalent to Powers's programs] looks like the sort of information-processing we see in digital computers, whereas the execution of the Plan at the lowest levels looks like the sort of process we see in analogue computers."

They went on to suggest that development of a skill is comparable to providing a digital-to-analog converter for the output of a digital machine. Thus, Miller et al. saw the two kinds of systems as compatible.

[C.S. Carver & M.F. Scheier]
On the Self-Regulation of Behavior, p. 76-7


................................................................................................................................................................................


The defining features of the human condition can all be traced to our ability to stand back from the world, from our selves and from the immediacy of experience. This enables us to plan, to think flexibly and inventively, and, in brief, to take control of the world around us rather than simply respond to it passively. This distance, this ability to rise above the world in which we live, has been made possible by the evolution of the frontal lobes.

To understand the landscape we need both to go out into the felt, lived world of experience as far as possible, along what one might think of as the horizontal axis, but also to rise above it, on the vertical axis.

To live headlong, at ground level, without being able to pause (stand outside the immediate push of time) and rise (in space) is to be like an animal; yet to float off up into the air is not to live at all - just to be a detached observing eye.

[Iain McGilchrist]
The Master and his Emissary, p. 21-2


................................................................................................................................................................................


Archaic                    -                     Being
Magic                      -                     Acting
Mythic                     -                     Images
Mental                     -                     Words


................................................................................................................................................................................


The sorites paradox (from Greek soros, a heap). Thought to have originated with Eubulides of Miletus (c. 350 BC).

If one grain of sand is not a heap, and at no stage adding one more grain of sand is going to make the difference between not being a heap and being a heap, how can it ever be that (by, for example, the time 100,000 grains are reached) a heap has come into being?

This results from believing that the whole is the sum of the parts, and can be reached by a sequential process of incrementation.

It tries to relate two things: a grain of sand and a heap, as though their relationship was transparent. It also presupposes that there must either be a heap or not be a heap at any one time: ‘either/or’ are your only alternatives. That is the left-hemisphere view, and sure enough it leads to paradox.

According to the right-hemisphere view, it is a matter of a shift in context, and the coming into being of a Gestalt, an entity which has imprecisely defined bounds, and is recognised whole: the heap comes into being gradually, and is a process, an evolving, changing ‘thing’ (this problem is related to the Growing Argument).

Failure to take into account context, inability to understand Gestalt forms, an inappropriate demand for precision where none can be found, an ignorance of process, which becomes a never-ending series of static moments: these are signs of left-hemisphere predominance.

[Iain McGilchrist]
The Master and his Emissary, p. 137-9


................................................................................................................................................................................


Related posts:-
A Higher Power
You laugh at my back and I'll laugh at yours
The Colour Spiral
Tasteful Distance 
Chinese Whispers
A Good Mix
Small Part, Large System
The Real Thing
Short term v Long term 
Addiction: the short and long of it 
Beggars and Choosers
The Principle of Polarity
How do you take your metaphysics? 
A Different Difference 
Arrows pointing at Arrows 
The Game Goes On
All is Change
Living Things and Dead Things 
The Devil is in the Details (and God is in the Generalities)
Separation
Connection
Making Connections
Life and Death (and everything in-between) 
Playing with the Pieces