has similarities with minimal music
Philosophy and meditation like theory and practice
has similarities with minimal music
Philosophy and meditation like theory and practice
Four Cultural Sectors
We can regard religion, art, humanities and natural sciences as the four most important subjects in which the transition from the physical nature to our influenceable life is reflected in form of so-called culture.
Today, we have come to a point where we seem to know and understand better what these four realms contain than we can say about the concepts of nature, life and culture. But to outline these latter ones, it is certainly not sufficient to refer separately to any of these four domains, but we need to look at them together, and the same is true for the interdependencies and interactions between them. Therefore this can not be a subject-specific task, which certainly gives a justification for again giving interdisciplinary philosophy a greater role, after it had been set back mainly by the natural sciences, above all because of the seemingly inherent lack of experiments.
But since each of the four sectors contain a multitude of aspects, it seemed unrealistic to find a common denominator in philosophy. Additional difficulties were caused by the fact that the kind of philosophy we are used to was mostly limited to a purely rational endeavor, whereas in those four sectors this was originally not the case. But in today's sciences it was more and more was enforced, for example, by skepticism towards intuition and strict condemnation of speculation. Thus, not only the relationship between nature, life and culture should again be questioned, but, if possible, also the essence of philosophy itself possibly leading us to a better understanding of what man actually is.
During several years of life in Thailand it has become very evident how much we as Europeans limit ourselves to the rational part of life. Thinking logically has so much more appeal and importance for us, that we often unconsciously shy away from holistic conceptions and thus, according to own impression, avoid important experiences, which could indeed have the character of experiments. At the same time, one can come across philosophical questions in Far Eastern countries at many points, but it might be astonishing to discover that there is no simple translation for philosophy and for culture in those languages in our sense. Instead, they often restrict themselves to talking about temple ministry. Should we just take note of such an observation or better challenge our own position?
The decision in favor of the latter choice led me to see in philosophy not only the love of wisdom according to the European tradition, but also to ask if something else could be done to penetrate new areas. To produce something else,- is that not exactly the meaning of the word "alternative"? Thus, an alternative philosophy had been stimulated, which should encompass all parts of life more fully than traditional philosophy, but avoiding esotericism, fixed creeds or fantasies.
In each of the four kinds of culture cited above, there is a predominantly emphasized human aspect. Religiousness underlines morality, that is, the conflict between righteousness and enforcement. Art, above all, seeks balance (harmony) between authenticity and fake. Humanities are confronted in particular with the interpretation of the material world between being (ontology) and development, while natural sciences increasingly meet complexity in the conflict between logical search for truth and statistical fuzzy holism.
Four prominent categories can thus be stated, where the question arises as to whether all other categories can be derived from these four, which certainly are selected with some degree of arbitrariness. In natural sciences, especially in mechanics, the description by four dimensions is well known, namely with imaginary time and three spatial dimensions. Man, however, is part of nature and thus in principle should also be describable in four dimensions.
The four domains mentioned above, which roughly outline what we can understand by culture, all have the task of establishing relationships between nature, originally understood as negligibly changing (static), and our strongly changing (dynamic) human life. However, this separation between static nature and dynamically interpreted life is relativized by our better understanding of the meaning of complexity nowadays.
Low complexity is the prerequisite for logic. Logic, on the other hand, is closely linked to rationality and the main interactions can be reduced to four operators. High complexity, on the other hand, is practically synonymous with life processes. However, by the term life is understood not only human life, or maybe even that of higher animals, but it encompasses a much wider and probably unlimited range. Today we can also speak of life far away from the human realm, for example, in molecular or stellar processes, which also continue regeneratively. This more urgently than before raises the moving question of what is specifically human.
Myths seen by humanitie
s primarily refer to the early human conflict between material and spiritual worlds. In the last past centuries, it finally culminated in dialectics between materialism and idealism. In scientific terms, these can essentially be understood as a description of what is called life without immediately being able to define what is meant by the term. The confrontation or interaction between outer and inner world (nature and psyche), which Homer called the Janus-headedness of divine wisdom, can nowadays be named duality. In these expressions, duality and dialectic, one can discover a correspondence when one either says that interaction takes place between dual states, or as well that a conflict between dialectical positions occurs.
Classical philosophy is mostly limited to the rational dispute (interaction) between perception (cognition) and processing, which could either be understood dialectically or as dual. Rationality, thereby, could be understood as a child of the myths, and without causing much doubt, be assigned to the head.
The other parts of the human body, which are the upper body, the lower abdomen and the extremities, could respectively be associated with the conceptional pairs of feeling and vitality, of sex and power, and finally, of movements and activity. In rational philosophy, the parts of life that are perceived as animalistic are usually omitted. The associated taboo provides a clear separability into a static and a dynamic part, or at least making
subdivision easier or even possible (state and process).
Duality can therefore be stated twice in succession, which together can be conceived as four-dimensionality. Since only three dimensions can be real, Plato came to the sensation of the imaginary as a shadow world. Axiomatics for the description of nature is nowadays used to rationalize this sensation.
Axiomatic description of nature formalizes dual interaction between operators (quantifiers and links) and can consequently be understood as a child of such alternative philosophy, if initially no limitation to only rational thinking and perception takes place. When limited to logic, four quantifiers (measurable values) and four logical operations are required. Again, since only three can be real (e.g., three spatial dimensions), the fourth operator has to be considered as being imaginary. Logically, with low complexity, only the succession of generations is available as imaginary quantifier, while holistically,with high complexity being provided, this could be either time or emergence or development. However, the only imaginary operators are logically the negation and holistically the second law of thermodynamics.
Alternatively, it can be said that being (ontology) develops, or instead that development is (has an ontological being). The relationship between being and development at first appears as a dual myth. In modern terms, this can be understood as the interaction between matter and fields, ie mass and energy (Einstein formula).
Between logic and holism, in principle, there must be a transition, which can be continuous. At higher complexity, the logic collapses, resulting in uncertainty. Consequently, one is forced to use a gradual approach to boundary values at the margin of the range, which could be something unknown, such as e.g. a higher (not yet defined) dimension. The simplest case implicates leaving linear systems. If the earth is no longer understood as a flat disk, quadratic terms must be added, meaning first of all circles.
Recursion as a cyclical approach does not only have to turn in a circle, thereby following a common misunderstanding, but can approach the unknown either as a wandering ellipse (like planets and comets). as a spiral (like planets to a star). Perturbations, however, can only be possible, if the system is incomplete (at least partially open). Recursion thus reaches beyond logic, which has necessarily to be an open system. As its exterior area, holism can be seen. Therefore, logic and holism can be understood as a dual pair. In alternative philosophy, but alas not logically justifiable, wisdom can be understood as a generic term for logic and holism taken together.
Human understanding, as well in extroverted as in introverted form including the question what being human means, thus ultimately produces or needs four dimensions or categories. In order for duality not simply to restore duality, but to introduce development as a new element, asymmetry must come into play. As simplest assumption for the occurence of a recursion, presumably based on considerations of consistency, a first dimension can still be assumed without the property of duality. This one must therefore be irreversible (called imaginary) and is logically interpreted as the negation, but holistically as the second law of thermodynamics, which being based purely on experience has not been proven. The other three dimensions or categories with duality as first property must therefore necessarily be reversible (called real).
Four-dimensionality contains in classical mathematical description, especially the physics of mechanics, imaginary time (describes arising and decaying), and three real spatial coordinates (extending between the dual “poles” which are positive and negative infinity). In nature, time hints at imaginary energy, but the real part could be understood as three different forms of mass (matter, antimatter, and dark energy resp. matter), which are not yet completely certain. In life the imaginary part, instead of the physical time, might be the counting of generations (birth and death), and for the real part, instead of the physical space, three areas of life (daily life, external world, and psyche resp. soul) could be taken. In culture, as the imaginary part assertiveness could be subsumed, and in real terms, the three domains of activities, which might be business (economy), life (ecology) and control (rationality).
Initially meant as an illustration, it is also possible to identify an imaginary and three real areas in essential basic components of our lives. Water shows superfluidity and the three phases solid, liquid and gaseous. The human body includes the imaginary area in the abdomen (love or attraction and sex or multiplication) and three real areas, namely the extremities (movement and activities), the head (perception and processing) and the upper body (feeling and fitness). This may seem unscientific, but could contain with realistic likelihood thoughtful and thought provoking ideas.
Interaction and recursion
(Truth and poetry)
time flies away,
death is needed,
need belongs to life.
generally seems to be a widely underestimated method not only in some mathematical apps, but also in order to gain deeper understanding of commonly taken for granted terms such as life. This is getting to be clearer when we ask whether we can talk about life in the macro world (worldwide on Earth or in the solar system or throughout a galaxy) or in the micro world (within mobile molecules, oscillating atoms or elementary particles, which quantum mechanically can already be understood as interaction between particles and fields describable as a cloud). This is also expressed in historical controversies, whether "the" life was created or developed. Thus, ontology can be opposed to philosophy of development, which de facto gives to the concept of recursion a central meaning. Emergence and development could thus also be understood as mutually dual terms. This may similarly apply for other such terms often accepted without much thought such as e.g. freedom.
Effect and paradigm shift
In classical science theory, it is said that an action causes a reaction taken as the effect. As essential deficiency of the classical formulation, very inadequate definitions of the terms used nowadays appear. In particular, through the new theory of fractals, a formulation consistent with classical mathematics has shown up by the work of Mandelbrot (1975), saying that a state in a generation n + 1 is a function of a state in a generation n. This results in a seemingly simple functional connection of processes with states, but which necessarily contains a singularity (eg birth and death) and thus goes beyond the classical functional mathematics:
f (n + 1) = a + b * f (n)
Thus, the concept of effect necessarily includes the transition from one generation to the next, howsoever such a generation is understood. In the simplest and everyday case, it is based on time, what falsely could suggest continuity.
Because of said singularity, the transition from description by static state to description by dynamic process is necessarily mind-expanding as, for instance, the transition from the image of a flat earth to the idea of the earth as a sphere. More generally, the quadrature of the circle and the like, e.g. also the question of whether the chicken or the egg first arose, can only be solved by the assumption of an outer area, ie. in an open system allowing external disturbances.
Such singularities and hitherto unconscious influences from outside are in principle captured by the term paradigm shift coined by Thomas S. Kuhn (1962).
is at first glance very primitive and has nothing to offer for learning. There is a danger that university philosophers will starve to death. In this respect, and not by chance, it resembles minimal music. Maybe they do not like it, although it does not mean contempt for any kind of so-called classical music, including Gregorian chant, which is even used creatively. The same applies to alternative philosophy, which could also be called a mini-philosophy. But then it will be even more difficult to show its tremendous beauty to people like those of the peer review sometimes questionably accepted to a great extent.
For its part, the new beloved child likes Homer as much as minimal music is fond of Gregorius. Both were somehow monks, but both only about fifty percent, because they followed the then already secretly accepted Middle Way not foreseen in their faith doctrine..
But let us try not to overlook an essential point mentioned above. You can not, or rather, it's probably not possible to learn mini-philosophy at all. The reason is perfectly clear to regular listeners of minimal music. You may have noticed that in these creations seemingly little happens. But in a second run the listener can get aware that in such music of recognized good quality there are almost never two equal beats.
Continuous variation makes learning virtually impossible. Here, learning takes on a different meaning, which involves much more than just rational perception and processing. It is like music that is made by the whole body and for the whole body, which is at least well suited for dancing and certainly also for making love, where thought, digestion, exercise and even work are not excluded. Attention! Such work could be fun and joy. Important in any case is the slow but admittedly never completely possible approach to something unknown with just that recursion.
Philosophy and meditation
This other meaning of learning is obviously more captured by meditation than by philosophy, which in turn seeks to understand. This again poses the unresolved question of the possibility of universal definitions for these two terms, which are very dependent on local cultures. The emphasized rationality of Western philosophies and, on the other hand, the prevalent lack of rationality in the meditations, which are mostly from Eastern cultures, make this immediately clear. But it is equally apparent in critical analysis that there is a considerable but clearly limited number of philosophies as well as of meditations.
In the previous sections, the four-dimensional structure and the duality of the individual dimensions or the supposedly necessary and sufficient four categories were highlighted with their own dialectic. This means a total of eight domains. This indeed is valid for both the different types of philosophy as well as of meditation.
The crucial difference between philosophy and meditation almost coincides with the difference between theory and practice, which, in effect, deliver much simpler definitions of these terms, upon which one can agree quite independently of individual cultures. Remarkable is the fact that already the historical Buddhism with its eightfold way pointed this out.
Thus, it can be listed that one can conceive largely separate kinds of philosophy and also of meditation for similarly dual and dialectically understandable pairs of perception (cognition) and process thinking (processing), for feeling and body energy (fitness), for sex (Tantra) and morality (power), and finally for activities (occupation etc.) and locomotion (research and travel). These eight species correspond on the one hand to essential cultural domains and on the other hand to the human body parts.
Philosophy and meditation can accordingly be seen as a dual or dialectically understandable pair, providing completely new possibilities for insight. Theory and practice can likewise be understood as a dual pair or cum granu salis also as a dialectical pair. Not controversy over the definitions of these terms seems to be important, but above all the assertion involved, which even has the character of a hardly rebuttable statement that it generally does not depend on one-sided extreme positions, but the intermediate domain must be explored. This means that neither exclusive philosophy nor exclusive meditation should continue to lead us, but rather a Middle Way between the two that is always to be redefined and in this sense understood as dynamic and modern. Because of its obvious importance, both for philosophy and meditation as well as for theory and practice, despite the aversion to fundamentalist emphasis, writing this term in capital letters should be justified.
Problem and conflict resolution
Accordingly, problems can generally be solved not only by philosophy or exclusively by meditation. They, loosely stated, require a mixture of both of them. Likewise, one-sided theory as well as exclusive practice do not bring about conflict resolution. Rather, such imbalances are likely to be the cause of violence, including military conflicts. We have to learn to orient ourselves in the intermediate domains. This can not be the classical philosophy alone, but only a more advanced modern alternative philosophy, which means not simply a vague new form of philosophy, but the mentioned intermediate domains being fully integrated into life.
Again and again, classical philosophy was accused of lack of experimentation, especially by the scientific community. Meditation actually has the character of such experiments. Reproducibility, however, is only approximately possible given the high complexity that exists in life. But even the natural sciences themselves now have to come to terms with the occurrence of blurring. Only closed systems with a limited number of components show strict logic and therefore total reproducibility. This does not rule out that also statistical results can be reproducible, but not in a strict manner. Even the smallest perturbations can already initiate new development.
Corresponding considerations also apply to the relationship between theory and practice, except that here in general it is not simply about task-like problems in human life, but in addition about potentially dangerous social conflicts. Instead of limited personal problems, this is about massive power and violence. The avoidance and prevention of any life-threatening violence is the core concern of all modern and therefore here also dynamically understood societies. Ideologies are pure theory and dictatorship is pure practice. Both do not lead to the goal, but only such a balanced Middle Way. However, the repetition of this term, sounding like a mantra at first, should not discourage, but emphasize the importance of your own weighing of a balance between theory and practice, from which ultimately the ability to compromise of an entire society emerges. Above all, we need to foster these domains between theory and practice. There are large deficits practically everywhere, both in one's own personal life and in any kind of social conflict. Investing here is likely to be the best possible means of preventing awful violence and thus the best way to foster conflict resolution. Balancing and finding compromises may essentially mean the same thing.
Ontology and development
Well-known keywords of classical philosophy can be taken as one-sided positions in the proposed alternative philosophy, between which we also wish to take a position. With these basic philosophical concepts, attempts are made to grasp both situations and knowledge as simply and generally as possible.
We can understand situations largely as a colloquial expression for being. Initially, they primarily affect the practice, which tends to be synthetically oriented. Knowledge describes colloquially to a greater extent development. Accordingly, these can initially be predominantly assigned to theory and tend to be analytically oriented.
In all the above-mentioned areas, structure is probably the most commonly used general or general term for relationships. The term can be used both for situations and for knowledge and thus in a philosophically extended way of speaking for being and development. It can be used for both practical synthesis and theoretical analysis, but has an extra dimension in addition to the definable terms situation and knowledge. It seems obvious to understand situation and knowledge as real and three-dimensiional, and to classify said additional dimension of structures as imaginary. Situations are represented three-dimensionally by Euclidean (vector) geometry, and knowledge is classically described by functional (algebraic) dependencies. Structures - think of natural structures like faces, clouds or rivers -, however, comprise more and can only be approximated or partially understood through situations or knowledge. The additional fourth dimension thus characterizes structures and makes them indefinable. Structures can only be comprehended recursively in a general form, they are inevitably dynamic in nature and can be understood as modern in this sense.
Military and business strategists have been interested in structures, and John A. Warden in particular has divided this term into five parts - Leadership, Process, Infrastructure, Elements, and Impact, which, in the language used here, are to be understood as five dimensions (or categories) .
However, general four-dimensionality has been made very probable in two completely different ways, both by attribution to the human body parts following from biological evolution and to the cultural domains following from mental evolution. Therefore, it is equally probable that the term structure should also be four-dimensional. However, the number of shares can easily be reduced to four by adopting a lead process, that is, by not segregating leadership and process. This avoids statements about a god or leader.
Structures are based on both cultic and innovative concepts, so equally many very different areas such as u.a. about religion, philosophy, business or even fight. There is a separate assignment for each area, which is understood in the relevant current case as the process, infrastructure, elements and effects. This can not and should not be done here in detail. In particular, cult-like concepts have a static character and reflect a state of mind, whereas innovative concepts mean dynamics and process thinking. It seems important, however, that said thinking refers not only to linear, but also to network-like processes and, moreover, to processes which go beyond exclusive thinking in the strict sense, that is to say influences from emotional, animal and activity-related areas. Only really purely theoretical systems can be assumed to be closed, for all others this can not be shown. Dynamic processes (and thus all innovative processes) are continuous in simple cases and still come close to static descriptions, but may also include possible cracks (discontinuities, singularities, interruptions), which can have immense significance in politics.
Specialization and versatility
Static situations are by their very nature fixed on a guiding process and thus have a cultic character. In principle, this determination can be made to almost anything, both in nature and in human areas (sometimes already in higher animals). In the case of nature, spatial as well as territorial claims derive from it in both humans and animals. In the human areas, corresponding claims can be made in all parts, which can be assigned to the four different parts of the body as well as the different cultural areas.
Territorial claims can be better enforced through mergers, which leads to herding or social formation. The associated specialization, however, refers to the initial natural conditions and can not adapt to changes under static conditions. In the latter, however, unbound animals, which include predators, hunters, and even modern notebook nomads, have greater opportunities. These instinctively or through insight have a greater or even almost complete dynamic share, but in group or social cohesion they are rather of questionable value. In particular, extreme cases, ie purely static or purely dynamically understandable cases, seem questionable. Such individuals are on the one hand fixed or unfree and essentially subordinated to a single goal and on the other hand completely free and hence irresponsible. At this point, is it again appropriate to demand a modern middle way, which requires constant own small course corrections and readiness for compromises?
In dynamic conditions, however, always possible singularities are the critical point. In static conditions nobody is plagued by such problems because they can not be foreseen there. But what can individuals in dynamic circumstances do to cope with it?
Singularities are constantly occurring in life in the form of birth and death, of new foundations and bankruptcies, of newly emerging territories, and others that are disappearing. We have to learn to work around this, which, admittedly, will never be completely possible. But may the reluctant word recursion be mentioned again?
© Copyright Hans J. Unsoeld, Berlin 2ß¹8
Updated Febr.12, 2018