Tag Archives: culture

What is the social cost of losing our religion?

If we assume that the story-myth-religious ideas and rituals is a natural adaptation, one that enabled us to bond together as groups, making survival more likely; what, if any, is the cost of today’s more secular social-cultural systems? Our myths served many roles; as explanations of natural events, as justification of actions, as records of the past and projections of the future, as a means of healing, renewal, hope and inspiration, as a proto science – as a means of crafting the image of control – the notion that “if we do this, then this predictable outcome will take place”.

With the advent of science and civics (arguably secular religion) taking a more prominent role, the accuracy and historicity of the stories we once unquestioningly embraced as fact have been put to the test. This shift in our focus from “revealed” knowledge to verified, seems to have affected our social equilibrium in ways many of us do not fully understand.

Stories are still important factors in shaping our experience but their importance may have been crowded out of our direct awareness with scientific descriptions of process. Science is a reliable tool but we may have lost our story (or buried it) and that is not without consequence. Nietzsche made a profound point when he said; “I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar.” We still operate by story even if those stories are not in focus anymore. Having them underground can make leave us vulnerable in certain critical ways.

If I understand him correctly, Jordan Peterson attributes our shifted focus toward civic religions – the fight over forms of government, for instance, as part of the fallout of this loss of equilibrium. We still look for saviors, and we still praise and defend as well as crucify them. We also still develop puritanical movements that destroy the integrity of systems that nonetheless support us. We do not recognize our voice in shaping our shared experience through story. This may be a tragic mistake.

Have we mistakenly projected the role of savior onto science as a culture, losing sight of the importance that our experience is also defined by our shared story? Has the dramatic shift in our awareness over the past few hundred years put us in a place where we need to find a new equilibrium? What would a new shared story look like? What would we need to do to nourish its adoption to fruition as a means of articulating the shared values that could bind us together and help move us together into the future?

Our Place as a Species – Where We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going

This is a take on our current place as a species – where we are, how we got here, and what our future might look like depending on how we negotiate our current situation:

We humans experience things that are geographically near to us differently than if the same incidents happen farther away. We are likely to connect with more emotional intensity to a starving hurt child on our doorstep than we would to tens of thousands suffering half a world away. Our geographic prejudice is understandable considering our biology has been optimized to function in the context of a local tribe. Our senses, including our mental processing faculties, are wired to respond to what we perceive as close to us – what parades in front of and stimulates multiple senses gets more emphasis than stimuli that affect only one or two senses. If we connect to a topic using abstractions, the effects on us are much less than if all our senses are engaged.

The necessity of survival for most of our past was heavily dependent on acting in service of the survival necessities of our local tribe. Without the benefit of the group against the elements, we would almost certainly perish. Because of the residual effects of rejection from the group, which almost certainly meant death for most of our past, to this day we tend to echo these long term embodied memories etched deeply into our biology. For instance; we fear public speaking more than death on average. Our developmental environment as a species shaped the emphasis our senses have, and by extension, the way we process the world – but the world has changed faster than our senses. This unequal progress has caused an out of sync relationship between our senses and the environment we now find ourselves in.

The senses that served us in the local tribe environment make us less equipped and more vulnerable to navigate the necessities of today’s world. As a species, we now have a technology lever that is so powerful we impact the whole Earth. Like a sailor that must get their “sea legs” to be able to walk steadily on a swaying ship, as a species we need to shift our emphasis to the necessities of existing in what is now a global tribe. Our common ground used to be the village, and in a sense it still is, but we now have an additional layer of necessity to contend with the whole Earth.

We were once more defined by the environment but we now have more capacity to also define it. When a child reaches the age of about two-and-a-half, the primary purpose of sleep changes from brain-building to brain maintenance and repair. This same type of developmental transition occurs on many scales. We are at the threshold of this kind of transition as a species. The same way there is a difference in skill sets between constructing a building and maintaining and using it; where scaffolding and tradesmen are replaced by occupants and caretakers, we need to make this transition, yet we are still hungover from the biological momentum of our heritage. Our future increasingly depends on stretching ourselves to fulfill the newly defined necessities of protecting and maintaining our new common ground, which no longer a patch of ground and perhaps a local body of water, it is the whole Earth.

As the size of our “tribes” grew from local bands that could be counted in the tens or hundreds to thousands, then millions and is now arguably the collective billions that inhabit the world, we have undergone a bewildering birthing process. In a comparatively short time (as biological development at a species level goes) the localized tribal wombs that once nourished small pockets of us have now become connected. We are now a collective body. We saturated the former small tribe womb and it can no longer contain us.

Because of our growth, we have been expelled from our former womb into a new, larger, more connected environment that demands different necessities of being. Like a newborn infant, we have to learn all the new skills to function effectively in this new dramatically expanded environment. Where we once had room to survive and grow using a greater emphasis on domination and exploitation, we now must do the harder task of cultivation and curation. We cannot look for more things to take, we must focus on strengthening the things that sustain us – things that return more value than they cost. This is not only where our opportunity exists, it is a necessary action to carry us forward.

We could once work cross purposes, competing against each other but our survival and thriving are now dependent more on the necessity to forge relationships like the organs in our body, nourishing and defending each other. This paradigm shift is because we have now saturated the environment. What got us here will not take us forward since we now swim in the same pond. Cultivating the environment we depend on to produce the necessary fruits of nourishment and as well as cultivating each other to our fullest potential is more necessary. We need specific mindsets and expertise to effectively navigate our more developed state of being. As has always been the case, we must either adapt to this new environmental reality or we will be either violently diminished back to the reduced carrying capacity of an environment or selected out for extinction.

If this analysis is correct:

What would you say we need to do differently on a personal and community scale?

Do you consider yourself a contributor to what will move us forward as a species?

What can we do better as individuals and as groups to help us get our “sea legs” to successfully navigate the necessities of current developmental place as a species?

Our Social Past and Future

Were All In This Together

 

We are biological- social creatures far more so than we are logical. Like fish that school, we humans (generally speaking) are wired to nest ourselves in the context of a group, either as a well protected internal organ, or as the skin which relates to the outside world, but acts to nourish and-or defend the coherency of the group. Our biological wiring is so dedicated to this grouping task that our perception faculties are heavily biased toward what is useful over what is accurate. Most of us will sacrifice accuracy on the alter of belonging to a group every day of the week without even thinking about or recognizing it for what it is.

If we unpack the behavioral implications of our inborn social traits at a group level, we see the ritual displays we make to demonstrate our affinity to a group need somewhere to go and somewhere to grow. We seek some identification of “group self” as well as some contrasting social ground to define our group self from group other. As a result, many of us search for the boundary between “self” and “other”, probing the social landscape and attempt to “eat” the “other” as food with our superior ideas.

Never mind the ideas we hold are tokens of belonging far more than fact – they are far more holey than they are holy, we simply shrink or expand their value as necessary to fit the narrative that our group is the only true and right one. We even sometimes call the process of ritual selfing “owning” the other side. This illustrates what the actual act is – a symbolic embodiment of our biological nature; that must eat things to live. It is a perfectly normal outcropping of our social nature deeply rooted in the necessities of being in the context of the environment coupled with the current zeitgeist of ideas.

Marketers hijack these innate tendencies toward belonging in an attempt to build emotional connections between us and logos so the goop inside the packaging has more perceived value. And it works.

Thought stopping clichés are one of the benchmarks of ideas being used as social currency, not as agents of expanding our knowledge base. We diminish or increase the value of whatever ideas we encounter so that it is bent into whatever serves the group. This is why bureaucracies or social movements, once established, tend more to their preservation as they age than they do to working out whatever was in their charter. Whether or not the ideas we hold correspond to factual reality or sensible actions devoted to our common wealth or not is secondary to their value as a bonding agent – defending the coherency of the group. We are in effect groupies. If someone comes along behaving with an affinity to accuracy that differs with what serves group affinity, they are not thanked. They are either passively marginalized, or if they become influential, actively marginalized or neutralized by whatever means necessary.

There is no doubt that overcoming the limitations and mindsets of our small tribal roots is of benefit. In fact, it is arguably a necessary component of navigating the future we are unavoidably moving into. This doesn’t mean it is easy. We swim in the same pond and what we do influences our common experience. This fact carries with it an ever greater weight today than compared to the requirements of living within the threshold of uncultivated nature, waiting for her to deliver a capricious bounty. Somewhere in the depths of history we crossed a threshold to a point where we need each other in ways that cross the former boundaries of smallish tribes. Finding our footing on these untrodden grounds may not be easy, but it’s worth it.
I could be missing something(s)

cr-fzu8ucaa-hli

 

Fish Schooling

Does life require a purpose?

Nebula Art

Does life require a purpose? I suppose how we define purpose and life is important if we are to attempt an answer that is satisfactorily supported with evidence. Here’s my sketchy take on the subject.

All coherent objects in nature must have some capacity to nourish and or defend their coherence in the context of the environmental womb in which it is situated, otherwise it would not exist over time. In our case, we are nested layers of sophisticated behavioral architectures that support this continuing coherence. The behaviors involve things of adaptive value such as breathing, drinking, eating, obtaining shelter, as well forming social bonds, mating and the like because of the adaptive (purposeful) advantage of these behaviors. This macro behavior, along with a host of micro internal relationships carry out a singular purposeful theme of nourishing and or defending coherence. This is expressed on many levels with many variations built around this unified theme of nourishing and-or defending coherence in the context of the environment. This is what defines a coherent entity, whether an idea, what is communicated by the totality of behaviors we express through our life.

The inherent purpose communicated through our nature is why we are not satisfied unless we do something significant – something of nourishing and-or protective value with respect to the common body of relationships we live in, are part of, and depend on for life. Finding that thing we can do to contribute to the nourishing and or protective value to the community of relationships that defines our common experience of life is a story written right into the fabric of life. We never meet persons who are both malignantly selfish and satisfied at the same time. This inherent purpose written into the complex dynamic coherent structures such as ourselves sets the tone for whether we will be satisfied or frustrated, whether we will do what is significant, or move on the currents in meaningless directions.

Here is a look at some “nourish and defend” activity on a molecular scale.

The Origin of Personality and Culture

The bouba/kiki effect is a non-arbitrary mapping system between speech sounds and visual shapes that we are biologically wired to do. If asked to name the objects below using the words bouba & kiki, the word kiki will most often be used to name the sharper object, and the word bouba used to name the softer object. It is because the sound kiki is sharper than the word bouba. Our subjective language is shaped by our objective environment.

If the implication of this connection between subject and object is unpacked across larger scales such as individual personalities and cultures, we can see how certain languages and customs would be sharper in tone as a result of the communication telegraphed through the social and objective environment by harsher climates. Ice ages and seasonal environments, or natural events such as volcanoes would communicate a certain perspective that would be different than a tropical island environment with steady access to food all year round and not as much need for shelter and so on. This objective communication by the environment would incline the subjective maps and behaviors developed by the people in that environmental womb to reflect that localized aspect of nature. We can see this type of bouba/kiki effect reflected linguistically (our subjective maps) as well as behaviorally (objective expressions) in our personalities and in our cultures and so on.

In other words; our identity to a large degree is based on patterns (echoes) of being repeatedly informed by, and responding to environmental cues. These cues define our form much like the rising sun would warm a rock, defining the properties of its form for a time. We are a collection of adaptive behaviors that were shaped by environmental factors over time which favored behaviors that were required to remain coherent in that context. (to survive) Harsher climates would have demanded harsher “kiki like” actions and words, and these traits would carry forward (perhaps past their shelf life) as acquired adaptations even if they became maladaptive in the context of a changing environment. This would have a self perpetuating effect, where harsh behaviors would craft a feedback loop of harsh behaviors, much like corn produces corn seeds, which produces corn and so on.

Understanding this concept may offer us the opportunity to strategically decide what to “plant” because although we cannot control every variable, our opportunity to participate in what will contribute to what we experience as our future depends in part on what behavioral seeds we cultivate.

 

From Existence To Significance

Life A limited Time Offer

My guess would be most of us either get swallowed by the circumstances we’re bathed in through the collective effects of our developmental environment, finding some reactive equilibrium with that happenstantial field of influences that define our initial form, or we wake up from that opaque mist to recognize that we also have a voice in the field of influences that defines our experience. We may discover that if we work intentionally, effectively and proportionally, that our voice might cultivate something significant rather than merely reflective – something that does more than reflect the defining qualities of the environment, but also plays a role in defining.

Cultivating something significant often requires disciplined effort and patience to shepherd nascent forms to fruition where they produce emergent properties, but the cost of doing so can render an effective player in the field of relationships that defines what we experience, and perhaps emergent properties that will pay continual constructive dividends. Nature clearly communicates that we can count the seeds in an apple, but not the apples in a seed if that seed is cultivated – nourished and protected through development to its mature state of fruition. This cultivation aspect of being might be the “why” we are here, but it is more certainly the big “if” in terms of whether or not we realize the opportunities that are presented out of the cauldron of relationships that define us.

We can make the transition from that which has been defined by circumstance, to that which also plays a role in defining circumstances, but only if we first recognize, then take the proportional actions to overcome the things that would otherwise turn our presence into a neutral mush carried on the currents of environmental whim, or worse, to become an agent of reflected destruction. Some of the common stories that emerge from the field of defining relationships that we’re both baptized in and have some measure of ability to participate in include environments that falsely convey we have no significance – that our voice is of no effect and that we are solely the victims of an authoritarian fate, or perhaps an environment that has so shocked us with a series of capricious horrors and injustices that it causes us to see reality through a distorted lens which renders an image of tragedy and misfortune that is inevitable and that total occupation with self defense and protection are of paramount importance, or perhaps our social environment coupled with our innate capacity for vision has revealed to us the tragic and arguably insane failure of the collective social economy that powerfully defines our experience to sufficiently recognize, value and express the behaviors that nourish our mature potential – a maturity which is only possible in a climate of sustained mutually nourishing and protective developmental behaviors aimed at serving each other’s common interest. The fields of opportunity that we leave fallow can make us the authors of our poverty, and in that poverty we can get stuck in a vortex of self reinforcing destruction making our circumstance worse by filtering the world through a lens of dominance. One where it appears to make sense to force compliance from each other with the aim of getting the most we can get, rather than searching for and cultivating commitment between each other to gain what is rendered by the emergent fruit of community. We can either be caught spinning in a turbulent eddy of malignant selfishness that takes us in vicious circles that go nowhere, or we can tend to the fruits that are produced through committed cooperation with and cultivation of each other, and the extended body of life we depend on.

In the light of the necessities to effectively steer with intention through the currents that define us – to participate in where the currents carry us – we would do well to search for what it takes to cultivate that which is most significant to that end – that which has the most effect to tame and intentionally direct the environmental waters that define our experience. We can only realize the strength of that steering activity by both finding and actively participating in the relationships that forge meaningful significance while also mitigating the antagonistic forces that could interfere of interrupt that process. Because we so often start with a lens that was forged in a blend of complacency and trauma, we may not be equipped to see clearly what our best way forward is. Once our lens is refined to see with enough depth to understand where our opportunities are sourced, we can then see our progress is built on a complex and nuanced vision where consequences are not immediately connected in time through a linear process, but are displaced in time, and that development to maturity requires sacrifice in order to bear the eventual fruit.

Our best way forward is not visible using a simplistic, linear and narrowly temporal lens. Although simplistic lenses that do not consider, much less prioritize, the necessities of development over time are what we begin with in our ignorance and also what we gravitate to in times of perceived stress, they are not what serves as an accurate map to our most mature state of being. The effects of past traumas etched in our collective psyche can become a self perpetuating eddy that results in why we sometimes operate on a cultural level with a simplistic lens that seems to infer that serving the self to the exclusion of the community is the obvious choice; and it is in the short run, even though it is ultimately self defeating when the more complex tapestry of relationships that develop over time and space is considered. Our traumas and the resulting myopia may also explain why many of the superficial rituals of social recognition we currently chase and build our dedicated behavioral monuments to are also less connected to significance than they are to a self referential service of themselves – to the status quo – of serving our more immediate gratifications in a bonfire of vanities, or, as William Shakespeare’s character Macbeth so eloquently put about the net result of certain lives:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

As a result of recognizing that the road we currently travel most is a recipe for complacency at best and at worst one peppered with self indulgent distractions that lead us in directionless circles, we might be compelled by that dour vision to take the road less traveled. The unbeaten path does require that we brave the dangers of the unknown and or dedicate ourselves to the disciplines that are valuable yet may be unappreciated, or even detested and actively resisted. But this is what we must undertake for the opportunities that are only harvested by way of that path to be rendered. It is only by way of this more difficult organized effort that we can have a chance to realize and get the chance to embody significance – to make our lives meaningfully matter in a sea of what would otherwise be mere existence.

As a result of seeing the stagnating effect of what is rendered by actions taken on the heels of a shallow vision that looks no deeper than serving the brief periods of satisfaction of our baser drives, we might be inclined to focus instead on the things that do not necessarily tilt toward service of these superficial passions alone, but dig deeper to see something more difficult, more significant. With a full spectrum vision we can become like the parent that is compelled by that deeper vision to act with determination on behalf of a child’s development, sometimes in the context of the myopic protests of that same child. This deeper commitment is forged by a deeper vision. A vision that sees our common child as the extended community of relationships we live in and depend on for nourishment and protection, that defines our being and our experience, and that we also derive our significance from by serving something of nourishing and or protective value in the context of that community.

I may be missing something(s)

What goes into what we perceive as perception?

A Grain of Salt. Each episode asks a useful question, shares some perspective on it, then attempts to leverage that understanding so we can navigate toward a more effective and meaningful life.

Season 01 Episode 06:

What goes into what we perceive as perception?

Lost in our own Little Words

As a species we differ widely in our the use of abstract tools in our framing of reality. There are many different narratives, but as far as I can tell, the common property is an attempt to pull the message (the subject) from reality (the object). The localized “subjects” we derive from objective reality varies considerably from culture to culture and person to person, but the “objective frame” we all derive that variable abstract framing from does has global properties that apply to all of us. These common ground messages are what the variation comes from, the same way all written words, that also can vary infinitely, come from a narrow set of symbols.

To illustrate this foundational communication: Reality demands a certain level of commitment on our part to specific activities in order to sustain us as coherent entities. Things like; stay away from cliffs unless we want to suffer the gravity of the situation, breathe appropriately to the situation – make sure to produce and distribute a sufficient amount of food to stay nourished as an individual or community and or gather enough to stay nourished – care for the young and teach them to identify and cultivate the nourishing opportunities as well as navigate and or contend with the hazards reality presents. Do these and many more things, or die out. In other words; we are governed by a common reality that requires we either negotiate the context of nourishing and antagonistic elements it presents to remain coherent, or suffer the consequence. From another point of view it could be said; we must pay homage to reality if we want to derive a satisfying experience from it. Also, our nature is reflective of the broader nature that both generates and sustains our being as well as governs it. Our state of being is composed of interdependent relationship systems that both serve, and require service to and from each other, and we are satisfied when we operate in service to establishing and maintaining equilibrium with this complex set of hungers for specific relationships on many levels.

We are also a voice in the choir so to speak. We can have a measure of influence in shaping what we experience as being. The more clearly we can tell the difference between opportunity and danger, the difference between constructive and destructive, and the more faithfully we are disciplined to contend with that mixed environment, the stronger our voice in this common choir. Nature clearly states that if we sacrifice appropriately, and cultivate sufficiently while contending effectively with antagonists, we can produce fruitful results that pay far more dividends when compared to the sacrifices they cost to cultivate.

Reality conveys that we can count the seeds in an apple, but counting the apples in a seed is not as clear or easy when those seeds are cultivated properly. With this in mind, I do think there are abstract realities within our shared field of vision that are closer to our common source – that common source being what is conveyed through objective reality. We can embrace these realities, and leverage the opportunities available to us, or we can reject or ignore them, but the result in that case is we twist in the capricious winds of circumstance without a rudder or sail.

To illustrate how we convert our perception of what is communicated through reality to words, often encapsulated in texts considered sacred, we can look at this passage in the Bible in Psalm 19:1-4, which says;

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. (NIV)

If we translate the common message communicated through reality into words more pragmatically: We live in an “almighty” reality that both created and conditionally nurtures us – that sets forth requirements (commandments) that must be met for us to minimally survive and or flourish depending on how obedient and committed we are to the proposed relationship between us and that greater power – a greater power that acts consistently and faithfully in context – from which we are born and to which we are recalled. These grander narratives we all share are commingled with the more localized aspects of stories from our environment are often caught in word form and recorded in texts as well. “don’t eat pigs in a desert because they compete for the same food you do.” or “Don’t kill the cows because of how much they give and because you will have nothing to plow the fields next year”. The grander narratives globally shared are mingled with the more localized aspects of stories, and we then see things like this woven into the fabric of stories in the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, Quran and the Tao Te Ching and so on. These various abstract nets in which we capture our perception of reality captured what we need (or once needed) to know in order to understand and navigate reality. We put reality in a story matrix, along with many other things of greater or lessor use, as a translation into words of the guide already being communicated through the structure of reality. The same way DNA encodes the information to reconstruct the proteins we need to continually nourish our cells and organs, sacred stories, which eventually became scriptures, act as cultural DNA.

As far as I can tell, there is variation in the way we tell the story, but there is also a common theme on which all stories are based. There is our local abstract lens through which we frame reality, but there is also a common theme spoken through that reality as well. It is our relationship with reality that defines our experience of life. This common womb we share is our common ground as far as I can tell.

My guess is the morals thing we obsess over is the supposition that these things are necessary navigation aids that assisted us in remaining coherent at least at some point in time. They are like the froth on the surface of a deeper need to connect abstractly with the concrete, which is paradoxically fluid.

I could be missing something(s)

The Dark Side of Simplicity


The burrow is the domain of creatures less able, or perhaps less willing to contend with the kinds of adversity that exist in the full light of day. It’s eyes become tuned to the blacks and grays of the shadows. It scurries out in reluctant circles to find food, doing only what is needed to satisfy the drives that compel it to act, all the while terrified it might become food itself. In this world, devoid of colors by way of the limited perspective through which reality is rendered in the dark, it carves out an existence beneath the threshold of possibility, in a cocoon of safety spun with fear. These creatures of the burrowed dark have, in effect, determined that the cost of contention with a full spectrum world is too high – or perhaps too frightening. Either way, it trades vision for safety, and in so doing sacrifices possibility on the altar of fear.

Each choice presented by nature is bloody – every proposition that renders benefit also comes with sacrificial costs. We sacrifice any hope progress by not taking the risks to brave the light of day. We gain safety at the expense a fuller embrace of reality, avoiding the dangers, but also the opportunities. We can form a prison of stagnation that returns the kind of clarity that only the limited vision of darkness can bring; not a clarity that forges an accurate view of the world, but the false certainty forged by a restricted field of vision.

In the shadows of a narrow mind peering through a simplistic lens we can gain a clear vision of things like “right and wrong”, not because we see an accurate representation of what is, but because the limited range of gray on black we paint our world with generates an illusion of clarity from a fraction of an otherwise full spectrum world. It is from this position of dark clarity that we can lay hold to false claims of absolute truth. From this vapor platform, we can then pronounce with certainty and clear conscience who deserves to be “in”, and who deserves to be “out” – who is worthy, and who is not. We can burrow ourselves deep in the safety of a mob that uses our selfsame brand of social currency – our repertoire of thought stopping clichés to execute our condemnation of those who dare to explore the outside the boundaries of our circle. All can be known if we hide from almost all there is. We can sacrifice the other for the sake of self when we make our pious judgment from high atop our visionary tomb.

When perched on our dark limb, the antagonist becomes anyone or anything that dares shine a light beyond the comfort of our ignorance. Fear becomes our primary currency of being. Uncertainty becomes the enemy. And through our false certainty, we fail to grasp that our life is diminished to a tale “told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” – and going nowhere. Wallowing in a high test reactionary world of responding to what happens, unable to conceive, much less take action to brave the waters required to make things happen. We live in the shadows of this womb, reacting to the currents on which our experience rides, without a voice. The womb of safety is also our tomb, because if we never emerge, we also will have only existed and never lived. This is nature’s proposition, a choice between bloody and bloodier, between bravery and the potential for doom but also for victory, or the the asphyxiating squalor of complacently and cowardice, accepting the way things are – a spectator critiquing the game played upon us.

In the same way that burrows protect the creatures of the dark in exchange for the possibility of vision and progress, simplicity is a borrow of abstraction for those of us see clearly – not because it renders an accurate image of what is, but because it renders an illusion of clarity representative of the limited extent of its field of vision. Those of us either unable, by virtue of ignorance, or unwilling by virtue of fear – give up the possibility of progress in exchange for safety and the illusion of certainty.

For those of us that discover the snare, the battle begins within us between the currents of cowardice and the promise of fruits that might come from contending – from disturbing our comforting place and stepping out into the unknown. Whether we exist in the shadows of the parasitic and predatory existence that living in fear offers, that devours our volition in a pool of acquiescence, or if we act to step out to contend with the devouring demon it is, depends on the choices we make after catching a glimpse of what could be. We stand on the cusp of order and chaos, staring at the divide between the shadow and the light. Which way we face determines whether we have things happen, or make things happen, both of which demand sacrifices, but only one of which offers the promise of progress.

A Wide Angle Lens on Life & Biology

My guess is the chief inhibitor to unlocking a clear vision of what the multivariate factors are that drive our experience of life is largely due to the linear reductionist lens we tend to apply when looking at relational systems such as ourselves. Linear reductionist lenses are like using a black and white crayon in an attempt to render a full spectrum image. While it gives us information, some of it quite useful, there is a diminishing law of returns which turns to a negative rendering value after a certain point of inflection.

Linear, fixed focal point lenses are not capable of rendering a full understanding of the workings of complex adaptive systems since, for instance, there is no inherent beginning or end to a given system, but diffuse nested fields of interrelated influences. As a consequence of using unifocal lenses, we often become enchanted with the linear images produced through it, albeit we also become blind in a sense, because much of the rendering is a function of the lens and not an accurate representation of the relational landscape it is pointed toward.

If we apply a systemic relationship lens to biology for instance, we then see a porous increasingly diffuse nested set of influences between organisms rather than distinct isolated organisms separated by fixed membranes. There is a porous interdependent set of relational bonds that lead to the same unified whole which we can detect by picking any point in a system. For instance; we can see the connections between the atoms, organelles, cells, and organs inside our body, and this inward coherency then extends outward to the microbiome, the local environment, the larger ecosystem, planet, star system galaxy etc. all the way to the whole of the cosmos. Were we to pick any other point in that nested collection we could also trace it from that focal point to the nested fields of influences which define that point, and extend again to the whole as well. In effect, linear images are useful, but have their limits. Whenever we choose a focal point, we also sacrifice the larger context.

When we use a systemic relationship lens through which to look at the whole biological economy, we can see with greater depth into the larger biological body of life in which we live, and on which we depend. What defines our local experience in terms of stability or instability in the final analysis is more like a cultivated commitment of a parliamentary nature than any kind of sovereign relational theme. Coherency is built on the strength of serving mutual needs of nourishment and defense. Our experience is cultivated on the preponderance of relationships that are sometimes necessary, sometimes laced with compromise, but always that serve purposes in relation to adaptation – that of remaining a coherent by way of sufficient nourishment and defense as an entity over time in the context of the environment. We realize this threshold of “being” by way of finding and maintaining this coherent equilibrium in the context of the larger environment. We see things like our individual identity and group sociality built on this same engine of nested influences. Understanding this is both the key to maximal growth, and a sustainable equilibrium in relationship to the carrying capacity of the environment.

I could be missing something(s)

Here is an example of the diffuse bonds of influence that conspire to shape what we experience as life and being.

Opinion: Microbial Mind Control—Truth or Scare?

Normal brain function may have evolved to depend on gut microbes and their metabolites.

https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/opinion-microbial-mind-controltruth-or-scare-36352