LIFE, UNITY, MEANING

ANIL MITRA PHD, Copyright Anil Mitra 1986, REVISED May 2010

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Document status: May 12, 2010

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CONTENTS

1        INTRODUCTION

1.1        ORIGINS AND PURPOSES OF THIS ARTICLE

1.2        BASIC POSTULATES

1.3        VALUE OF UNITY AND INTEGRATION

1.4        OUTLINE OF THIS ARTICLE

2        SYSTEM LEVELS IN LIFE AND THE UNIVERSE: DETAILS

3        SYSTEMS: OUTLINE & SYNTHESIS IN FOR HUMANKIND

3.1        AN OUTLINE FOR THE LIFE OF A PERSON

3.2        DIMENSIONS OF HUMAN PROBLEMS

4        PROCESSES IN THE LIFE OF PERSONS - AND SOCIETY

5        UNITY AND INTEGRATION OF SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES IN THE LIFE OF HUMANKIND

5.1        EVOLUTION AND HUMANKIND

5.2        DESIGN

5.3        KNOWLEDGE AND DESIGN

5.4        VALUES AND KNOWLEDGE

5.5        THOUGHT AND ACTION

5.6        VISION AND ACTION

5.7        EVALUATION AND LEARNING

6        FINAL CONCLUSIONS AND INTEGRATION

 


1           INTRODUCTION

1.1         ORIGINS AND PURPOSES OF THIS ARTICLE

This essay is a statement of the fact and basis of unity in the universe and the value of balancing all aspects of this unity in a conscious approach to living. The ideas expressed here grew in connection with my reflections and readings on nature, evolution, knowledge, and design. Culture and life-style have also had an input. The synthesis came together as it appears here, in August 1986, as I was preparing an article on the conscious use of design by the individual in him own life

The article on Design of a Life was intended to include, but not over- emphasize, material considerations, status, and methods of design and planning. For, it is not everyone’s natural style to make meticulous plans. Some prefer to “be”. And, no amount of planning is a guarantee of success. I wanted the approach to be a balanced one. That is what I want to have in my own life. The origin of this work was in my wish to provide a basis for a full and balanced approach

I felt that it is not sufficient for an individual who wanted to be fully alive to consider only him own needs and immediate sphere of experience. It is essential for him to consider certain dimensions beyond the pressing ones of day-to-day living for, not only do these dimensions affect him - they are part of him. The categories of him existence - physical, biological, human, social, secular and universal have a connected evolution. Each level builds on the earlier ones until a whole circle is completed, for the physical begins in the universal. The structures and processes of the universe are, ultimately, not decomposable - not compartmentalized - and our knowledge can, and should, reflect the unity before it becomes speciated

The individual has free choice in determining which realms she wants to identify with and to assign reality status. I felt it worthwhile to offer him the insight that him Design of a Life for life should include designs, as far as him power permits, for him wider system; and information, as far as him knowledge permits, of that wider system. I also felt it valuable to offer for him consideration the idea of search for the broadest and highest of all possible views. I offer only a search for the view in this essay is not a detailed one of the universal but an abstract of it

1.2         BASIC POSTULATES

The universe is a web of interconnections; over longer periods of interaction the effects of the interconnections become more manifest and, so, more apparent. We do have, empirically and naturally, an essential concern with these long-term manifestations - with the future of our home, the universe. The elements of our immediate biology are among the elements of the universe, and the further back we go, down the biological and material levels of evolution, the closer are our constituents to the original elements of creation

If our immediate biology does not reflect all of the elements of being our powers of vision and cognition can close the gap. Here is an open invitation to persons to be their deepest being

Knowledge and design are a part of the web and reflect it; they are part of a system of mutual processes, of evolution, and are not an aspect of an absolute entity, “mind”, studying and plotting in alien, external, or inert universe. And if evolution and our powers of perception and cognition do “go out on a limb” there is a promise of return

1.3         VALUE OF UNITY AND INTEGRATION

A unity in our understanding of life and the cosmos will reduce alienation among the elements of life and give an authentic wholeness. It will open us up with joy where we were, before, closed down with fear. For human life there seem to be four problem areas. These reflect him essential relationships: they are the relationships of humankind with nature, of human with human, of human with self, and of humankind with the universe. These four areas represent the components of the human environment: the natural, the human or social, the inner or psychic, and the cosmic or universal; and the order of presentation is the natural order of progression in life. Resolution of these relationships needs [1] recognition that each level integrates the previous and also provides liberation from their tyrannical aspects, and [2] unity of vision, whether conscious or organismic, to perform the integration and balance needed for full life... This fullness reduces consumptive use of one level of resource to fulfill other levels of need

Another value of unity will be a reduction in alienation among the divisions of knowledge. The actual division of knowledge into disciplines in any culture reflects, among other factors, a balance between the needs of specificity and accuracy and the needs of communication and wholeness of vision. Authentic unity shifts the balance toward fewer disciplines without loss of specific application. Knowledge becomes a more effective structure and this translates into more effective learning, more effective application, and more effective use of academic and educational resources. Integrated into culture, it will translate into a fuller life for the individual and a balanced synthesis of humankind and environment - natural, human and universal

1.4         OUTLINE OF THIS ARTICLE

As stated, the objective is to display unity in the elements and processes of life and the universe. This is to include the institutions of society. The structures and processes are presented in Sections 2, 3 and 4. The presentation of the structures is in terms of their evolution, and the presentation of the processes in terms of the adaptive interactions of these structures. Since evolution is the process of transition of one structure into a new one or of one level of structure into another, this presentation shows the inter- connections. So, in Section 5, the unity is ready to be made explicit. The discussion draws upon the earlier Sections and, for detailed insight, upon cognitive psychology

Finally, in Section 6, the basis and the fact of unity are restated in summary form and the basis for a full approach to life is made more secure by including, in its scope, an acceptance of “imperfection” or dissipation and the value of play

2           SYSTEM LEVELS IN LIFE AND THE UNIVERSE: DETAILS

We can identify a number of levels of being and corresponding levels of interaction with the environment. The purposes are [1] to show that although the gulf between humankind and the physical or between the universal and the physical may seem too wide . to bridge naturally, reduction of the gulf to a series of small evolutionary steps shows the intimate connection. A detailed study of evolution would then be a compelling argument for unity. A useful observation is that when we have a problem understanding nature’s way the difficulty is of our own understanding and not one of nature...and [2] to explicitly show the systemic integrations in the life of human individuals.

LEVEL

DESCRIPTION, COMMENTS

INTERACTIONS

Physical

No special distinction from the environment

Physical function

Molecular, pre-organic

Not self replicating

Chemical function

Organic

Replicating molecules, environmentally dependent

Metabolic, genetic transfer of information

Molecular, interactive

Cells: adaptive

Creates own inner environment, origins of cells, interacts with environment to locate nutrients and energy and avoid detrimental chemicals

Light and chemical sensitivity and responsiveness

Includes other types of sensitivity and responsiveness

Interactive-cellular; cell colony

Creates own inter-cellular environment and sensitivity, origin of efficient information processing: energy content of information much smaller than net organismic requirements

Similar to above plus sensitivity and responsiveness to other organisms as sources of nutrients and danger
Stimulus --> Response

Speciation and differentiation of function

Specialized adaptation of metabolic, physical [motor], and coordinating [neural] activity: rudimentary organs. Origin of symbolic information processing by the organism: structured or differentiated information

Stimulus --> Perception --> Instruction --> Action

Interaction between organisms

Perceptual and responsive capability especially sensitive to members of own group

Coordinated activity: Stimulus --> Perception Hierarchic coding --> Instruction --> Action

Emotion

Origin of rapid [emotional] response and powerful drive; Emotional environment includes outer and inner; heightened perceptual capability

Stimulus --> Perception --> Emotional Response --> Motivational Response or Drive --> Action

Cognition

Heightened perceptual capability & differentiation; enhanced symbolic processing and memory; value of delay in coordination and coding; response delayed giving organism time to integrate, symbolize and review. Needs emotion [for immediate response situations] and cognition [for plasticity to multifold situations and environments

Stimulus --> Perception --> Thought --> Command --> Action

Social- cognitive- emotive

External representation of symbol: symbolic communication and later permanent, external symbolic memory; the cognitive functions have become formalized and are the basis of organizing the internal symbolic and emotional life of the individual; emotional functions become ritually, symbolically and artistically formalized; group and institution function

Social-cognitive:
Stimulus --> Information Gathering --> Knowledge --> Design and Planning --> Evaluation and Decision --> Implement and Control --> Evaluate and Learning4
Social-emotive:
Stimulus --> Ritual or Artistic Response and Transition --> Action and Creation
Social-cognitive-emotive:
Integrates the processes shown above

Universal5 or Sacred in Human Life

Persons integrate and relate to creation; this does not remove anxiety [according to psychoanalysis] but provides the seeker - the symbolic human - with meaning and purpose; according to Hindu and Buddhist psychology anxiety can transcended

 

Comments:

Each level of evolution includes and integrates a number [usually most] of the previous levels

The integration is not always complete - there may be conflict between the levels. The prominent example is the cognitive-affective integration. Emotion calls for immediate response while cognition calls for reflection. There must be some intrinsic mechanisms in a cognitive-emotive being that address this conflict. Perhaps laughing and crying are such mechanisms. A large part of the task of integration is cognitive. Cognition itself uses delay and symbolic review and so must be potentially integrated and not intrinsically integrated. Hence learning. In this lies the ability of thinking the person to integrate herself: not to suppress thought, for then she would not be human, and not to suppress emotion for then she would not be alive, but to integrate thought and emotion

For integration of the levels there must be communication among them. A partial model of this communication for a physical-organic-hierarchic-emotive- cognitive being is shown below:

Function

Environment -->

 

F -->

 

 

 

Environment -->

Adaptation

S -->

R -->

 

 

 

Differentiation

S -->

P -->

 

 

A -->

Emotion

S -->

P -->

E -->

M -->

A -->

Cognition

S -->

P -->

T -->

C -->

A -->

Table 1 Integration of Evolutionary Levels

Code: A = act, C = command, E = emote, F = function at physical or chemical levels, M = motivate [internal drive], P = perceive, R = respond, S = stimulus, environmental or internal, T = thought [all aspects of processing of symbolic information; see also Section 5.6], continuous lines represent flows of action and/or information within an evolutionary level or to a more complex level and dotted lines are flows to prior, or less complex, evolutionary levels

3           SYSTEMS: OUTLINE & SYNTHESIS IN FOR HUMANKIND

3.1         AN OUTLINE FOR THE LIFE OF A PERSON

Corresponding to the interactions for humankind, we can recognize the following levels of relationship:

Universal-Sacred [Humankind and Cosmos]

 

Vision

World [Person and Person; Humankind and Nature]

Values

Social [and psychological]

Technical [Technology]

Environment

Individual [... and Him Self]...[Needs and wants]

Material, Biological, Psychological

By values, I mean needs and wants at the world level. By vision I mean needs wants, and values at the universal level - which includes the unknown. This unknown should not cause needless fear: pain and joy are necessary, adaptive mechanisms introduced through evolution for adaptive purposes...boundless suffering on an eternal scale can have no adaptive value and, so, no meaning and purpose

Each level integrates the less inclusive: the world includes human, and the universal includes the world and human

By psychology, I mean the integration and development of information, symbolic, value, visionary, and meaning processes in emotion and cognition. This meaning is not incomplete since, [1] these levels integrate the biological and physical, [2] emotion is meant to include motivation just as cognition is meant to include command and control, [3] the psychology of personality is not excluded [but is not emphasized], and [4] cognition is not meant to exclude intuition, insight, or mystic and other types of awareness and knowledge-processes including instinct, species and race consciousness and so on,

I have not distinguished between needs and wants because needs are organismic wants according to one valid viewpoint and are essentials [to some somewhat arbitrarily chosen objective] according to another, equally valid, view. In view of what I see as the open-ended nature of evolution, and the purposes of individual life, there is no absolute distinction between needs and wants

3.2         DIMENSIONS OF HUMAN PROBLEMS

I recognize as the fundamental human problems in being and feeling fully alive, him relationships with the important levels of being in him life:

Humankind-Nature [Environment and organism]

Human-Human [Social and secular]

Human-Self [Inner]

Human-Universe [Sacred]

The relation of an individual with him self mirrors him relationships with the external levels of being. Him evolution and potential include these external levels and, so, when she integrates the external dimensions of being she integrates herself

I do not recognize in the death of an individual’s being on earth, him permanent death. I am open to all possibilities. Of course, nothing is certain, but that applies, equally, to the dimensions of life on earth. I know of no compelling [or mild] reason to believe in complete and permanent death. Additionally, I know of no satisfactory explanation of consciousness and awareness save to make some general readings of directions that can be plainly seen in biological evolution. Early evolution is hardly distinguishable from material process. Then a process of differentiation and elaboration begins. Life begins to make its own environment. In this there is a trend to independence from the environment and from the compulsions of life’s own evolutionary past. This is adaptive because it permits life to make use of new opportunities previously inaccessible and unavailable. As the process continues, consciousness evolves as the necessary agent of this trend to independence. This point of view, based in lower levels of evolution, points to the development of consciousness as an intrinsic property of the universe. If I “die” completely now, I may be born once more. Nor can I rule out some distant, but adaptive, evolution into a more complete awareness and being...I have given, in Section 5.3, some further understanding of possibilities for the universal, and these apply independently of the facts death and birth on earth. In fact, I ask myself the question: does my birth on earth seem an at all understandable proposition from the vantage point of five billion years of earth’s existence?

These considerations add to the value of the sacred in a trans-temporal sense and are not intended to, and should not, subtract from the value of earth- existence but add to it [see Sections 1.2 and 1.3]

4           PROCESSES IN THE LIFE OF PERSONS - AND SOCIETY

In Section 3, I considered the levels of existence in an individual’s life. There are processes at a number of levels. Here, I want to consider those processes pertinent to an individual’s personal, social and universal realms of experience. In outline form, and based on the considerations of Section 3, those processes are:

Formation of Vision --> Formation of Values --> Awareness of Wants and Needs --> Knowledge [processes] Control --> Evaluation --> and Learning --> Design and Planning --> Implementation or Action -->

The role of evaluation is a recognition that knowledge and design are approximate, not absolute. Control is not to be interpreted as suppression or repression of instinct, insight, intuition, and emotion, but as including balance. Control requires knowledge [awareness] of what is happening during phases of implementation. Corrections can be applied, but if they do not work something may require fundamental change and that is one of the roles of evaluation

When cognition and explicitness are not appropriate we can write:

Vision --> Action --> Learning

And when I am confident, or must of necessity proceed with confidence, at least explicitly, I can specify the process:

Vision --> Knowledge --> Action

These are variations of the general process. In this way, the “sub- process” appropriate to other specific situations and levels can be described

The general process describes cycles of activity in the life of an individual or of society. By appropriate interpretation or specialization it describes the continuation of tradition or of gradual change or of rapid/revolutionary transition. I understand it to be a continuation and an adaptation of evolutionary process. It is not the process of evolutionary biology, but is an outcome of it and merges with it

5           UNITY AND INTEGRATION OF SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES IN THE LIFE OF HUMANKIND

The purpose of this Section is to demonstrate the unity and synthesis indicated earlier. I understand the unity as existing, and so any integration in the sense of a performance refers to a description of life. The synthesis of Sections 5.1 through 5.8 is stepwise: in each Section, one element, or at most a few, will be added to the synthesized elements of the earlier Sections

5.1         EVOLUTION AND HUMANKIND

A scheme of evolutionary levels of being and awareness, and interactions with the environment is given in Section 3. That outline shows the unity and integration of the various levels of bio-chemical, organic and human evolution. Humankind occupies a place in evolution by integrating the appropriate levels - and not by being identical to any of the contained levels. In the context of this scheme as a bridge between the physical or material and the universal, I find general accounts of evolution compelling. Of course, there is a sense in which nothing is certain. And there is also a sense in which the notion of certainty is absurd - at least absolute certainty. To me, the notion of certainty, of some thing being certain is as much an element of psychology as it is of reality. And so I continue to maintain a feeling of doubt and an occasional sense of the absurd. But there are occasions when decisions need to be made - for practical purposes

My practical purpose is life itself - the highest of purposes. I have read the arguments on both sides. And I have come to a conclusion. The observable facts of cosmology, physics, geology, and biology are equally well described and explained b! generalized notions of creation and of evolution. At this level the choice must be more one of temperament. But when it comes to specifics, the available standard accounts of evolution and Special Creation in the Western world diverge. For purposes of understanding and description I find the accounts of evolutionary biology superior - though imperfect and incomplete. Every fact that is explained by evolutionary biology could be explained by a notion of creation in some ideal religion, but - even though explaining material facts does not fit my idea of ideal religion - Special Creation fails to do this to my satisfaction

Of the fact of evolution I have little doubt. We do know that the theoretical mechanisms of evolutionary biology are incomplete. Serious scholars in science and religion are in agreement on this. But, as an outline of the history and mechanisms of evolution, theoretical biology provides an excellent foundation. I recognize that this is a majority - and not unanimous - opinion. I also recognize that there are no truly unanimous opinions and so all personal and consciously considered views must involve choice. My choice is that the ideas of theoretical biology do provide an excellent understanding, in outline, : of what is real in the common history of humankind and life on earth. And, since the full history is infinitely detailed and significantly circumstantial the provision of science in understanding evolution will remain an outline

The specifics of the physical, biological and social theories of evolution do, and must, remain open to revision and it seems, to me, time for leaders in religion to arise who will abandon those ideas of the traditional systems which we can clearly see as archaic. If the institutions of religion do not do this they hold us back from our true potential. Just as science now proceeds through the realm of the specific and physical to understand life from “below”, religion can approach the same understanding through the universal and the sacred. I emphasize at this point, that I do not present humankind’s approach to the universal as a material fact but as a potential fact of symbolic value and, as indicated Sections 1.3 and 3.2, an endeavor of worth

However, I have little doubt of humankind’s unity with the elements of creation through the processes of physical, cosmological, biological and human evolution. Humankind can see this unity and attempt the advance. And, if she fails I think it likely that there other species or form of life - perhaps on some other planet engaged to some other sun in another space-time epoch of the universe - will succeed. Social evolution provides an extra step in the processes of life and awareness, and ideal religion and the sacred point to a path to a further journey

5.2         DESIGN

Since design [defined in Section 5.3] at an inclusive level is for an interconnected set of systems the different classes of design must be interactive. Since the universe is a web, humankind’s designs must form a web. True design is a unity. I believe that this is a psychological need for humankind. To be fully alive an individual must aim at him highest potential. Ernest Becker wrote that full health consisted in living at all levels and Abraham Maslow held that an individual needs to live at all levels; in particular she has certain meta-needs, which involve self-transcendence. These meta-needs correspond to my “approach to the universal”. Maslow felt that these meta-needs were biologically based

5.3 DESIGN AND EVOLUTION

Design is a problem solving process or approach app- lied to directed change. Given a state of affairs [A] and a more desired state [B], the problem of coming up with a plan to effect the change is design. The idea of a “state of affairs” is interpreted in a very general sense...Formal design is usually understood as requiring the plan to be a specific set of executable instructions. Of course, unless an instruction has been routinely executed we cannot know it to be executable and, so, not every design can be implemented; when this happens, an evaluation is appropriate. Even when the design steps can be implemented, we do not know that the final state will be the desired state - because of imperfections in knowledge and the problem solving process. Mistakes can be made. The first model of a motor car or the first experiment in a new political ideology will have many imperfections that may be remedied by trial and error - naive or sophisticated: evaluation and learning. In any case, the process of trial and error by which designs may improve, but some fail, is a process of evolution. Evolution is a part of design!

Is design a part of evolution? Yes, it is part of technological and social evolution, but what of the origins of human evolution: the physical, chemical and biological processes? We can play with biological evolution through genetic engineering, but is this a real example of biological evolution? I think that, in a small way, it is. Life has become aware of itself [incompletely] and can alter itself [imperfectly but consciously] - at the biogenetic level! Whatever the moral value we assign to genetic science and technology we do have an inescapable fact: life can consciously play a hand in its own evolution. I am not arguing that this is the time for it, or that we can extrapolate backwards and argue that design is a part of all universal, physical, chemical, and biological evolution, but it is apparent that life can change itself in a conscious and de- signed way - even though the success to date is small, and, according to our values, potentially harmful to life on earth...and, of course, design is a part of social transition. Even those who see folly in much of an individual’s endeavors would be de- signers, they would have us do otherwise, perhaps cease from too much design - and the appropriate level of design is a question in design. The appropriate level depends on our values, our intelligence and on the nature and complexity of the problem

Is there design in biological evolution? There is significant serious evidence that much of life on earth can be explained by mechanisms of evolution that do not involve seeing into the future - at least in any significant way. But the evidence is not complete. And the system has evolved a creature that can see into the future. And we do know, even discounting the conscious interaction involving genetic engineering, that there are natural interactions among the species, individual, and genetic levels - but these are “blind” interactions. What to make of that is open...Except; that we can say that until recently these interactions do seem to have been blind and that until there existed more than one level of bio- logical evolution there could not have been an interaction. There is no convincing evidence that early biological evolution has seen into the future. And, perhaps because our self-consciousness and our tendency to set ourselves apart, we will have difficulties evaluating genetic experiments - whether in concept or in practice - as examples of evolutionary foresight

What of the larger scale? Is there a planned, perhaps guided, destiny for an individual or any other part of the universe? I do not know the answer to these questions. But, we may validly say that design is a part of evolution in as much as:

A. There are potential futures [most humans behave as though there are], and

B. We can “see” and affect these futures [most humans think we can.]

So, the question is not one of possibility but is one scale and degree of perfection. I cannot address the question of perfection except to note that any interpretation of perfection other than “nature’s way” seems, to me, to be a contrived and not an intrinsic concept - why should an individual want to impose him ideals on the universe?

On the question of scale, let us look at the direction of evolution. Despite its apparently blind origins, biological evolution has produced a creature that is not blind. Even those who criticize an individual’s blindness must use their vision to make this criticism. For intelligence to have evolved - this, for me, is much more miraculous than to have been placed here by an alien god. It is also makes me feel good about my self - everywhere is where I belong. The phenomena of the earth are the phenomena of the universe. All that we need for universal design and evolution is an expansion in scales of time and space of what we know to be true - a new concept is not necessary. While we may not know of such a design - at least I do not - it is entirely possible. Of probabilities I cannot yet make an estimate, but to say that is not possible would seem to me to be a breach of reason, religion and imagination

One of my views of the sacred is that it represents an openness to this dimension and a search for it, We are of the elements of creation, our atoms forged in ancient fires. We are children of the universe. If we do not neglect earth and its citizens, we may rightfully seek our greater home

5.3         KNOWLEDGE AND DESIGN

Since the universe is a web of interconnections, true knowledge is also a web. Any response or action that involves anticipation to improve the adaptivity of the outcome involves knowledge. Knowledge began early in evolution. The zero of knowledge does not begin with science or with any scientific methodology. To hold that rationality or science is the true foundations of knowledge is to discretize what is an essential unity. It is true that logic and science are concerned with certainty and have had much success in providing and evaluating certainties. But the true break with organismic knowledge is cognition. And the true liberations of cognition are openness, acceptance and broadening of interest. It is true that good science does involve features of openness and breadth, but these features do not begin with science. Buddha and Socrates had these qualities more than two thousand years ago. And the intolerant proponents of dogmatic science would consider no view other than the perfectly rational, fully testable to be of value. Science is rooted in cognition, and cognitive processes are an aspect of organismic knowledge. True knowledge - scientific, cognitive and organismic - forms a web of interconnections. This is the view from “above”

I have discussed details of the unity of knowledge in other essays. Some of the issues I have considered are category or system levels in nature, the nature of quantity and quality, and the unity of symbolic systems. These discussions have provided a detailed basis of the unity of the discretized concepts and subject matters of the symbolic disciplines. This is achieved, in outline, by showing the evolution of the disciplines and hence their interrelationships. A large fraction of the special disciplines have origins in administrative needs of institutions and in status need of individuals and hence this demonstration should necessarily be in outline

In the discussion of system levels I have given a detailed description of the physical, biological, human, social, and secular levels. This scheme shows that whereas the gulf between the physical and the universal levels of descriptions may be so large as to render the disciplines discrete, the discretization is not essential. There is in fact a hierarchy spanning the gulf. That this hierarchy is a unifying one is demonstrated by structure: each level can be explained in outline by the concepts of the previous ones. This is analogous to the argument applied to the natural systems in Section 3.1

In Quantity and Quality I have shown that, drawing from the psychology of an individual, quantity is a species of quality. It is the extreme development of quantity, and it is its elevation to the realm of the absolute that makes it seem to be distinct from quality. Quality has many dimensions of which one dimension is the quantitative. The unity of quantity and quality is shown [1] by demonstrating that cognition is a species of affect and so quantity is a species of quality, and [2] by demonstrating the existence of a continuum of levels of quantity from pure number to a qualitative level. This unification is to be supplemented through a consideration of natural system levels - a continuum is formed by treating each level according to its appropriate degree of quantification and demonstrating the mesh

In the Science of Symbolic Systems I have discussed the nature of symbols and shown the emergence of symbolic activity in evolution. This indicates the unity of symbolic and other organismic modes of knowing. I have also shown, in outline, the integration of all dimensions of symbolic knowledge - by displaying four basic areas of symbolic activity and how these areas can be combined in a science or logic of symbolic systems

Finally, there is a unity between deduction and induction that are traditionally regarded as distinct. The problem of deduction is not the proof itself the orderly progression through the steps of proof - but the process of coming up with and verifying the proof; and the problem of deductive theory is not only of proving but also of discovering and creating its structure. And these processes are inductive. The fact that mathematical structures are incomplete and open to new standards of proof, open to generalization, variation and possible loss of foundation is hidden from view by the careful pages of deduction printed beautifully in indelible ink. Mathematics, the essence of deductive science, is inductive at its core…and the same applies to logic

The arguments considered are for unity among the sciences and other modes of knowing and integrating the facts of nature. What of the humanities? I will consider these in Section 5.5

Knowledge and Design are also a unity. They originally build up as part of the same overall process of survival and problem solving. The processes of know- ledge and of design are similar: search - search for concepts to synthesize the data [knowledge], and search for design-concepts to synthesize the design-data and requirements. A similar point of view is provided by the definition of design given in Section 5.3 - the problem of transition from a state [A] to a state [B] is a problem in design. It is also a problem in creating/discovering knowledge if [A] and [B] are states of knowledge. A detailed consideration of these problems is given in the literature of artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology

Since unity does not mean identity the integrations do not eliminate need for separate institutions.[knowledge and design] or separate disciplines [science and humanities.]

5.4         VALUES AND KNOWLEDGE

It is often held that science says nothing about morality, ethics and values...This is partly because of the antiquity of the origins of values and partly because of the psychology of value-systems. It is necessary for society that people should have values. But rationally held values are too much open to question for stability. Some deeper hold on the individual is necessary. The value-system of a society is absorbed by a child before she is capable of analysis and him identity and stability depend on him belief in the system. For most individuals there remains a deep structure of cultural identity which is the basis of identity and reality. These values are felt as absolute and so not in the realm of science or analysis

But we can see that values relate to improving a social system or to maintaining a good social system. So, values must relate to the properties of human social systems. And a true value is one that will actually improve or maintain society and, so, is a true fact. An objection may be that we do not fully know the true facts. But, as long as this is so it is a fact and the related true value, “diversity is adaptive”, is also a true fact. As Maslow said: being-values or B-values are B-facts. Also, Herbert Simon has shown how the logic of design [of imperatives - or “shoulds”] can be reduced to the traditional logic of facts [the propositional calculus] in a formal way - by showing the symbolic unity. Now I have shown how Simon’s formal unity has a foundation in an organic one

And, by the same type of reasoning, the sciences and humanities are integrated. Example: Art is concerned, among other things, with creation and communication of esthetic experience. But, far from being esoteric, the esthetic value is highly functional and practical - it is a true value. When an artist puts something on a canvas it involves a form of knowledge. It need not be, and often is not, symbolic knowledge. The artist has some special experience of the world and how the world could be experienced - this knowledge could be organismic. It is this knowledge that she translates to the canvas. Example: philosophy is knowledge of the reality of nature, of the nature and validity of science, values, art, and knowledge itself. And since these component disciplines are a unity so, by the same arguments, is philosophy - in itself, and with the whole of knowledge

5.5         THOUGHT AND ACTION

Thought means: valuation, knowledge, design and planning; action means: implementation and control. Of course, thought and action are part of the same organic process...going down to earlier levels of the evolutionary pathway [Section 3.1] we find a level where thought and action are identical

From a functional point of view the intent behind the distinction in the problem of thought and action does not refer to thought flowing into action. The intended distinction is between blocked or neurotic thought and free or unblocked action. So the true distinction is not between thought and action but between blocked and free activity - whether the activity is thought or action. Thought is more in the private sphere and action in the public. And since being public induces many of the blocks of even healthy individuals the distinction free/blocked tends to coincide with thought/action

However the fundamental distinction also applies to thought. Unblocked thought is adaptive delay; blocked thought is procrastination

So, the distinction between thought and action is one of degree and description and not one of nature

5.6         VISION AND ACTION

Vision means: seeing the reality, truth. Vision is clearly very close to value and is so integrated with value and knowledge. Vision and action are integrated by arguments similar to those in Section 5.6

When a free individual sees the reality of life she can live it and when she sees the reality of death she can accept and prepare for it. If she does not believe in the continuation and cycling, and ultimate unity of awareness she can transcend him organismic anxieties by rejecting the cultural messages and learning on death and “reality”. If she does believe in these continuities she can prepare for death and luxuriate in him ability to anticipate pleasure and transcend anxiety. Hence true vision must be true knowledge and must be integrated with action

5.7         EVALUATION AND LEARNING

Evaluation and learning is an extension of the processes of knowledge and design applied to the question of success of the total process - success in terms of values, the processes of personal and social transition. Hence it is integrated. It is rational because it expresses the acceptance of limitations and is immersed in the natural processes of evolution, especially when the evaluation is applied to trends of change

6           FINAL CONCLUSIONS AND INTEGRATION

The processes of humankind, society and creation have been integrated by showing the interrelations of the evolutionary structure and their adaptive processes. Although the original context of this essay was Design of a Life, it applies equally to the social sphere

The motive behind an approach based on unity must include a lack of unity. Dissipation, or maladaptive behavior, must also occur for synthesis to have meaning. So, as individuals and as societies, we may accept the dissipative elements of ourselves without being too harsh on them. As individuals, we cannot control all and as part of the universe we have no choice but to be, finally, a part of the creative and destructive rhythms of being

Neutral behavior and play is also adaptive, for its presence indicates realism. We cannot control all aspects of our lives and play is, among other things, an acceptance of this. Play is also a source of creation, and this is its beauty, for, by accepting the lack of full control and balancing conscious design and play accordingly, we obtain a truer design as elements in the rhythms of ebb and flow


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PHILOSOPHY OF MIND