Unconscious Culture

    [David] Bohm proposed that there are two fundamental aspects to the holomovement: the explicate order and the implicate order. Now why -- after we've just said it's a single wholeness -- are we introducing two aspects to it? Does this mean we are creating a duality in what is actually a unity? No, because the explicate and implicate order only appear as distinct -- although convincingly so -- because of our perceptual limitations.
    Human beings have five fundamental senses plus the thinking mind, and the subset of the wholeness that is directly perceived by these human faculties constitutes what Bohm calls the explicate order. Everything else -- that which we don't directly see, hear, taste, feel, touch, or think -- constitutes the implicate order. Human perception is limited and so there needs to be this distinction between what is directly perceptible and what isn't.
    ... So the idea here is that the invisibles of life -- purpose, yearning, intention, love, despair, all of the intangibles of life -- are no less real for being intangible. They are just as real, but they cannot be measured in the scientific laboratory.
    -- Will Keepin (1)
The mind that has no fixed aim loses itself, for, as they say, to be everywhere is to be nowhere.
    -- Montaigne
Study the self to forget the self; forget the self to become one with the ten thousand things.
    -- Dogen (2)

In 8a31jo, Jeff writes:
In our community i keep encountering the following unconscious beliefs:
  1. happiness - people strive for happiness but have trouble defining it. At the same time their actions says happiness is money, power, possessions, and relationships.
  2. future - Science fiction and our current relationship to science is what everyone projects into the future. It is their model of a future world. This controls culture to some extent and is mostly fantasy. Projecting current science into the future is a disaster.
  3. limits - culture assumes there are no limits to growth of the culture and spreading the culture to other areas is a good idea.
We talk about no limitations, but how often is this taken to mean a 'culture' might consist of two (2) people? In fact, right off the bat, there is a deeper assumption: that culture requires a bunch of people, in which (to take it a little further) one can be 'anonymous'; that is, that culture is not a matter of individual responsibility.

I will now, single handledly, derive your first two points from here, and make a couple more in return:

I have found, as yet, no evidence that any relations between two people are different in kind for being expressed in company; of course my especial interest is in 'communication' -- those acts we perform to refer to the 'invisibles' -- things not immediately evident (and, reciprocally, to acknowledge the existence of those things, of which happiness and power and science and culture are very fine examples). So, rather than start with an intricately complicated situation consisting of innumerable persons, or even a 'cell' of a half dozen, I take the particular case of A speaking with B (with perhaps an observer C standing by) as the paradigm of social relations, and if necessary -- if there are any amendments to be made, build up the rest from there.

Now, if A wishes to refer to something which is not evident to B, how does she do it? She might lead B to it (if it is tangible), but this is to deny the antecedent condition. Or they might already share a frame of reference that contains only one item which is not evident, in which case any word without a referent would necessarily refer to that item -- but this, even if logically possible, is not likely -- or interesting. No, sooner or later, A has to find a thing which is evident that will stand for that which is missing; that is, which does not already stand exclusively for itself, and she -- Homo fabricatrix that she is -- proceeds to make just such a thing: a name. Names, and words generally, are tools, built for this one particular purpose (although, like any tool, they can be misused). That is, they are not ends, but means.

Unfortunately, Homo spp. is a lazy sod, and it isn't long before we're picking up just any old word lying around to serve our needs of the moment, rather than carefully whittling out a new one. Thus, at a rough estimate, about 4/5 of the words you and I are likely to encounter are not going to refer to what we might think they do. There has grown up at least one layer, and maybe more, of words whose referents are absent meanings, which let us talk about words themselves: what they 'should' mean, what you or I 'meant' at some other time (that is, in some other one-to-one culture), and especially what so-and-so thinks is an 'adequate' or 'appropriate' or 'necessary and sufficient' thing for a particular word to refer to.

The 'means' of the first layer becomes the 'ends' of the second layer -- so, re your first point, it's no wonder the language seems a bit muddled. Second, if people don't accept that they have to 'reinvent' their own language, on a one-to-one basis, to rediscover (fundamentally) what understanding and being understood means, is it any surprise that in their other social encounters they behave as if in a fantasy world?

Do you mean *best* or most *convenient*? Would it be possible to create a language and culture which separated absolutes from non- absolutes.
Every bunch of folks who ever got together has staked a claim to the absolute, I think: from all the aboriginal tribal names which mean 'The People' to the industrial putsch called 'Globalization.'
It may be that we are trying to change a viewpoint by communication. Another possibility is that we are trying to define our words or communicate an idea. It is possible that we are talking about the same thing but viewing it with different mind sets. Concluding that this leads to tension and conflict is an absolute statement and i would question it. But, why pick on two words when the whole paragraph is full of absolutes just like this one. Ignoring the language construction, your point that two people invent culture as they go with language as a medium sounds good to me.
I protest. Please, do not ignore the language construction! I put a lot of effort into it, trying to sound really dogmatic. First: I didnt ask, what do we think we're doing -- that is a second stage, a different logical level; second; almost always, if the conversation is interesting in the least, we are indeed talking about the 'same thing.' But if we take the words as 'visibles' ('as any fool can plainly see,' a friend of mine was fond of saying), then the temptation to use them as bludgeons is almost irresistable: that's conflict. The feeling of 'not knowing what else to do' -- because no one sat them down to learn to understand, because modernity (individualism) assumes that each person is born with some 'innate' ability to understand -- is tension.


Now, I just said we learn to understand on a one-to-one basis -- but the way we learn anything at all is by watching and imitating; that is, by direct experience of 'visibility.' A trying to teach B, or vice versa, goes nowhere, because they are already visible to one another. It is C, who has been sitting down quietly all this time, who learns from A and B (not) understanding one another! When, together (as a 'dyad,' if you insist on reserving 'community' or 'culture' for something else), they work out what their particular words refer to, they are making the relationship of understanding visible, and C picks up on it right away. It's worth noting that demonstrating not-understanding is just as valuable an experience for C. Tragedy occurs only if the A-B relation is taken for granted (by A and or B); it then collapses, as does any figure-and-ground image, into invisibility.

But why am I now saying there are three parties to culture? Why have I introduced a trinity where once was a duality? Because "the explicate and implicate order only appear as distinct." A two-person culture never exists in isolation; we are always in (and part of) an 'environment' or 'context'. The 'irreducible' unit of culture, in human personal terms, is the AB dyad and C, and the human ethical challenge is to be able to shift perspective from the unitary (explicit) individual to the relative (implicit) 'contextual' for the sake of another. Culture is indeed our sole responsibility. See QED. (4)

"Information is a difference that makes a difference," Gregory Bateson wrote.

Hummm, OK except for the statement "most of the world's problems turn on failures of communication". Things like population growth and war do not fit. Many recent wars had economics at their core. In some cases it was science that caused the problem. We assumed the side effects of DDT, nuclear weapons, etc. would mot be a problem.
Doing anything without knowing what the effect will be is ignorance. Making an assumption in human affairs is a failure of communication -- and economics is its epitome, based as it is on an assumption of knowledge; that is, that ignorance can be ignored. You say progress depends on intelligent guesswork? That's fine; all I ask is that you get everybody who will bear the consequences together to talk it over. Let them understand your intelligent relation to their environment, and how far out on a limb you propose to send them -- isn't that fair? Nothing in Hoyle's Book of Rules says the game of Science must be played blindfolded.


(1) Keepin, W, "Science and Spirit" in [Timeline], #41
(2) quoted by Keepin, ibid.
(3) Muddlement, of course, is another way to say the power of language. See for instance, Requisat; Eyes; Lost in Cyberspace.
If there is an amendment to be made in scaling from 2 to n-person society, it is that the role of C is so easily displaced into another body. That is, to comprehend 2-soc, given the 'conventional perspective provided by n-soc, one needs to move from spacial to temporal dimensions: C is oneself, 'looking back' in time, able to 'distance' this self from that one -- i.e., as if she were someone else -- in order to see the difference.
    Joe Flower, [Change Happens]:
Most of us live - and think - as if the world were static, or as if it should be. As individuals, as professionals, and as members or leaders of organizations, too often the way we act, plan, and react betrays the assumption that tomorrow will be much like today, that we'll slide by all right if we just get a little better, a little smarter, at doing what we are already doing.

    The fundamental error of this static p.o.v., I believe, lies in holding the self constant. (I also think there is a connection between this attitude and the tendency to use 'we' in place of 'I': if we are all constants, then I can eliminate references to myself -- which might have to be clarified as to which self -- by burying it under the plural pronoun.) 9417

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