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“Why have we become like gods as technologists and like devils as moral beings, supermen in science and idiots in aesthetics – idiots above all in the Greek sense of absolutely isolated individuals, incapable of communicating among themselves or understanding one another?” Lewis Mumford
If you grow up, as we do, with a worship of the quantitative aspect and a minimal attention to the qualitative aspect, I believe you inevitably land yourself in the dilemmas of our civilization.
But I get back to the fact that the way we are going about things with this enormous emphasis upon the quantitative view and the minimal emphasis upon the patterned
view is, I believe, the easiest way of the descent into hell. The surest...
Gregory Bateson (1981)
- “The judgment of the intellect is, at best, only the half of truth, and must, if it be honest, also come to an understanding of its inadequacy. The dynamic principle of fantasy is play, a characteristic also of the child, and as such it appears inconsistent with the principle of serious work. But without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable. It is therefore short-sighted to treat fantasy, on account of its risky or unacceptable nature, as a thing of little worth.” The Psychology of Individuation, CG Jung
- Eno On Cybernetics and Music Making
- Penetrating Sensings I.
- The Flux of Serendipity
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- Discovering Novel Approaches
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- "It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious." - Alfred North Whitehead
- More email newsletters July 2, 2014
- new language annotation software June 25, 2014
- Software, Culture, and Political Economy in New Media Capitalism June 25, 2014
- ye olde net… June 25, 2014
- re the big data explosion June 10, 2014
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
- If, during the long course of ages and under varying conditions of life, organic beings vary at all in the several parts of their organization, and I think this cannot be disputed; if there be, owing to the high geometric powers of increase of each species, at some age, season or year, a severe struggle for life, and this certainly cannot be disputed; then, considering the infinite complexity of the relations of all organic beings to each other and to their conditions of existence, causing an infinite variety in structure, constitution, and habits, to be advantageous to them, I think it would be a most extraordinary fact if no variation ever had occurred useful to each being’s own welfare, in the same way as so many variations have occurred useful to man. But if variations useful to any organic being do occur, assuredly individuals thus characterized will have the best chance of being preserved in the struggle for life; and from the strong principle of inheritance they will tend to produce offspring similarly characterized. This principle of preservation, I have called, for the sake of brevity, Natural Selection. [Charles Darwin (1859) On the Origin of Species]
- “It is essential to such a government, that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.” James Madison
- All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it. -Benjamin Franklin
Thinking Outside the Agora
- Sure, Revenge Of The Sith Is The Best Star Wars Prequel, But Is It Actually Any Good? November 25, 2015Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the quintessential Star Wars prequel. Finally, after stalling for two movies, George Lucas delivers on all his promises. However, in true prequel fashion, he does it in a wildly uneven way. Welcome to our Star Wars movie rewatch!Read more...
- Deadspin The Patriots Are Sketchy And Deserve Scrutiny | Jezebel Male Film Critic Savagely Mauled By November 25, 2015Deadspin The Patriots Are Sketchy And Deserve Scrutiny | Jezebel Male Film Critic Savagely Mauled By ‘P.C. Twitter Goons’ | Jalopnik Here Are Five Performance Mods That Are Utterly Useless | Lifehacker Procrastination Is Mostly About Fear Read more...
- Victor Frankenstein Is Like Watching Your Cute Friend Get High and Blowtorch Their Own Face November 25, 2015Seriously. Did you ever have a ridiculously good-looking friend who was also brilliant and talented, but they made some really bad choices and threw it all away? Victor Frankenstein is like that. This movie has so much going for it, and just fritters it away, like a goddamn frittering machine.Read more...
- Scream Queens Actually Made a Pretty Good Point About Thanksgiving November 25, 2015For people who don’t have families, live far away from their families, or have families they’d rather not see, Friendsgiving is the best option this time of year. Scream Queens illustrated this point in an episode that also killed one character, brought another back from the dead, and deployed some A+ guest stars.Read more...
- The Problem With The Post-Bungie Halo Campaigns November 25, 2015Halo used to mean quality. Its campaigns were all heroic military sci-fi, full of brilliantly-designed levels and enemies . The multiplayer was some of gaming’s best, supplying pulse-pounding firefights and thrilling victories. There was a time when a new Halo game was a guarantee of greatness. Since developer Bungie moved on and custom Halo house […]
- Sure, Revenge Of The Sith Is The Best Star Wars Prequel, But Is It Actually Any Good? November 25, 2015
- Marie Claire Pairs Stylized PCB Designs with Luxury Jewelry November 25, 2015
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- Amazing Laptop Steel Guitar Made from Skateboard Deck November 25, 2015
- Black Friday Cheat Sheet: The Best Tool Deals for Makers November 25, 2015
- Why You Should Pay Attention to DARPA’s New Robotics Award November 25, 2015
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Category Archives: my research
This video is new to me and it provided a big wallop.
In my framing of fortuity, contingency and fragility, I have only roughed out some of the implications for music making. B.E. helps move this forward during a really essential 15 minutes.
He mentions Stafford Beer. (He, along with Ralph Stacey, Gordon Pask, and Gregory Bateson, probably did the most to extend cybernetics to human domains in the first wave of cybernetic thinking. Largely from Beer and Stacey we gain the concept of soft systems, and from Beer we gain the Viable Systems Model (Trevor Hilder’s presentation – pdf).)
What Is Cybernetics?
Leonod Ototsky’s fond archive and research on Mr. Beer is a terrific old style web site.
“Hey, Holly remember when I put you and Judith in a trance for a couple of days?”
(Indeed I did so, by mistake, via a soundtrack I created for a workshop presented by Judith Buerkel in March 1994.)
Holly has been my friend longer than anyone else among the group of people I became acquainted with when I returned to Cleveland in 1992. She and I met at a holiday party in late 1993, although the party itself is most notable for my encounter and subsequent mind meld with eventual squareONE co-founder Judith Buerkel.
Because I am oriented so strongly to doing the experiment of deep relationship, and because it is true for this that some are called, but fewer actually take the dive, Holly’s eager sustenance of our relationship over more than two decades simply is a gift that keeps on giving.
There is much I might say about my friend, yet, after a brief visit this week, the significant elements of her zesty and daring approach to being who she is were exemplified in her willingness to participate in my creative process, then, reshape this process into her own process, and go on to to experiment without guidance in my backyard studio.
I call this: going for it.
A hallmark of sincere and authentic and audacious post-conventionality could be: daring.
This would go along with understanding that the call beyond conventions promotes radical, storming kinds of engagements with one’s own self, with the world, and with other people.
But, the “could be” is my hedging as against the conventions of the theorization of the post-conventional. Affirmative Post-Conventional themes are, in the main, elementally meta-cognitive predicates, and these themes also reflect a kind of instrumental positivism. Some lip service is paid to the varieties of deconstruction, although, there is no deconstructive literature to be found in the field’s small, (and revealingly tidy,) body of work.
The post-conventional move into epiphanic knowledge–which is somewhat covered under the fuzzy rubric given by Ken Wilber’s causal level, the so-called path of sages–is also the move into post Post-Conventional being. The other move is not found in Post-Conventional theory , (or Wilberian theory.) There are no lively treatments of anything functionally equivalent to ecstatic intuition, or equivalent to its applications.
Ecstatic Intuition is: spontaneous development due to spontaneous insight. Its most well-known application is given by the conception of synchronicity in the Analytic Psychology. squareONE’s applications similarly provide concrete enactive engagements with procedures which elevate novel data into the learner’s field for the purpose, instrumentally viewed, of spontaneous decodification and “instant self-discovery”
What I termed twenty years ago, ecstatic organization, shadows and inflects the problem of daring. Another feature of this problem (of daring,) is recovered by extracting the direct polarity: competency <—> ecstatic intuition from the array.
My sense is that the scientism implicit in the meta-cognitive bracket helps secure the means, and the developmental applications, which all aim to build practical post-conventional capabilities. Whereas, what I term the meta-enactive bracket, (or what might be viewed as the interface, dissolves scientism, is spontaneous and oft spontaneously messy, and is altogether forcefully disposed toward post developmental, or non developmental, modes of being and being-in-response. Ecstatic organization and ecstatic intuition is impractical, (and may even be anti-fragile per Nassim.)
If you, reader, are able to sense this bracket’s dynamic quotients of: the irrational, of eros, of soulmaking, of Bateson’s conception of mindedness, and, sense also its more direct route away from the neocortex and intentionality, you’ll also recognize I really meant it when I first spoke of daring.
Lastly, the scope of unlearning, of learning to unlearn, is discoverable in the daring foray to be made through the Coincidentia Oppositorum, into the Oppositorum. This means going in the direction away from what you know, how you know it, and, as dear Desse put it many years ago, also means going in the direction away from how you know it is that you know.
The cubes of the Cube-O-Probe are color coded to make it easy to constitute different aggregates from the several sets.
The following is one cube set of dichotomies taken from what I term the Covert Pairs of the experiential learning theory of David A. Kolb.
Tomorrow I’ll use the set to address a situation for learning.
Toward the end of Formal, Transcendental, & Dialectical Thinking Errol E. Harris, writes:
(2) The ultimate character of the universal whole
Development of the last topic would naturally lead into reflection upon the second question raised for discussion. Is the universal totality merely a logical schema? Is it a spatiotemporal or a taxonomic structure? Or is it at once all these things and more besides – a living, self-conscious, special being? Of course the first two descriptions must be readily admitted, but they cannot be exhaustive. No dialectical system such as I’ve posited can be limited to a mere logical schema, or even to an evolutionary series extended in space and time. The dialectical relations require that the prior phases be retained sublated in their successors, even though they are superseded by them. Equally, the only complete, the only full reality which the prior phases enjoy is the realized actuality of their potentialities in the higher forms. (Harris, 1987)
Harris identifies at least two pairs in this paragraph. His intention is not to pair the aspects, rather he is working toward the inherent self-specification of the universal reality. Yet, the pairs are specified once the cutter operates on the conception.
There are two ‘matrical’ operations that enable two four-fold relationships.
How would you characterize the crucial differences, or otherwise differentiate the effects, of the two forms?
Also see: The Quadralectic Archtecture, The Theory of Quadralectic Architecture Marten Kuilman, 2013
The “squaring of the circle” is one of the many archetypal motifs which form the basic patterns of our dreams and fantasies. But it is distinguished by the fact that it is one of the most important of them from the functional point of view. Indeed, it could even be called the archetype of wholeness. (C. G. Jung. Mandalas, 1955)
Once again my generous colleagues in the Experiential Learning Community of Practice
(LinkedIn news and discussion feed) have invited me to present to members and anybody else who can find their way to quarterly virtual meeting. It takes place on March 12, 2015 at 4:00pm EST, but I don’t yet know the link that will provide access.
Here is the précis.
Generating Paradox. Overt and Covert Polarities in Kolb’s Learning Cycle
Given the theoretical-conceptual architecture of Kolb’s Learning Cycle, fascinating yet obscured conceptual relations subsist within the dynamic move from the organic systematic theory and its application as a theory-in-use and as an applied model. This presentation teases some of those relations out by leveraging both the explicit dialectical relations in the model-proper, and co-existing, yet tacit, polar relations.
In this peeling away of layer’s of the conceptual ‘onion,’ two gains are anticipated: one, the learner will experience reasons for de-reifying aspects of learning style, and, two, the learner may be inspired to expand the model’s practical reach.
This presentation is programmed to be experiential and interactive. Participants may maximize the experience by having at hand five pieces of blank paper, scissors, and a fine marker or bold pen.
My presentations to this particular group, and this will be my second one, are designed to be experiential, and in turn are by-design, applications for experiential learning both in the moment of the presentation and afterward.
Although I suppose I could just layout a bunch of philosophizing about the matters this program will be focused on, I prefer to do the philosophizing before the program. What I will layout is a process that results in an application participants can then use/re-use to explore the fascinating dichotomies hidden within the dynamics of the learning theory and model of David A. Kolb et al.
Concealed within the above summary is the promise of the application: the learner will have the means to de-reify aspects of learning style, and, have the means to expand the model’s practical reach. However, my goal is to point the participants in the direction of doing so, and, then giving them a tool to help them do so.
I like to lead people to where he or she might drink the water.
[Background] This schema depicts one of the versions of a human systems stack. This is a heuristic tool I use to get a handle of the dependencies in an environmental situation of learning. Its classes are general and presumed to be global, discoverable as layers in all situations of learning.
(Socio-psyche is my shorthand for the particularized social psychological and cultural context.)
From this I next contemplate the critical aspects which may require a two-fold differential description, or what I term a critical pair. The schema itself marks and makes explicit many such pairs: learner/environment, leaner/context, learner/opportunity, and, in this set also fall more subtle pairs, such as: environment/opportunity.
The stack reflects that the dependencies are inclusive from above and below.
The gist of my interest in these discoverable pairs, is inflected with a very ironic aspect. I use Kolb’s model procedurally, whereas almost all the practitioners I know use the model instrumentally–as the anchor to assessment (of learning style) and development of management of style. So, going into my exploration, I already know, for example, where there is assessment, there are paradoxes of assessment!
Plus: there is much more of great interest to me. After all, I’m using my procedural model, drawn directly from the Kolbian Cycle, to enactively–by virtue of my first person contemplation–interrogate the normative developmental model as a matter of how it the model is used!
Of great interest to me is the processing of the individual assessment between the practitioner and their assessed subject. My interest here is in how experience is shaped in the encounter with the practitioner and her theory/model-in-use with the assessed subject and his own folk psychological theories/models-in-use.
In this, for example, I’ve long wondered about the practical mediation of attribution at the point at which an assessment in a direct sense delivers a description and warrants (for its attribution,) to an assessed subject. Even if the delivery is naive, nevertheless, behind the mediation are the practitioner’s choices, and, in front of the mediation, are lots of embodied features of the assessed subject, including the aforementioned personally-grasped theories and models.
The encounter between practitioner and subject is complicated. Our of this typical flux spill out all kinds of pairs, dichotomies, polarities, dialectics, and paradoxes.
In my musing about the practical use of Kolb’s model, for the sake of smoking out compelling pairs, I made four circumambulations; first was about the above problem of assessment.
(1) Problem of the Theory-In-Use – the paradox of the difference between the infinite theory and the truncated applied theory. (By infinite theory I mean the unending theory applicable to all future situations of experiential learning; following here the suggestion of C.S. Peirce, or Von Foerster, that this prospect is illimitable and so the organismic theory is itself subject to, in effect, unlearning and relearning its own theoretical ‘self.’ )
(2) Problem of Assessment – the assessed subject, and the operation and mediation between the practicing system and the learner-system.
qnd #2 is coupled to:
(3) Problem of Reification – reflexive determinations linked to the subject’s sense of identity, self-attribution, and aspiration given the developmental context of the KLSI (Kolb Experiential Learning Style Inventory)
and #3 is coupled to:
(4) Problem of Actual Dynamics – how are explicit conflicts, synergistic transactions, adaptations, knowledge creation, implicit knowledge destruction, actual dialectical operations, given to the the learner’s phenomenological knowing and self-sensemaking?
I left alone a fifth move, that of the particular context-for-learning. In contemplating the above fields, my goal was to first deepen my understanding of their instance in the system of (Kolbian) experiential learning, and, second to figure out what were the pairs right ‘at hand.’
The program does not get into any of this in any significant way at all! The program is designed to reveal some of the pairs, pairs which are the distillate of my wandering around these five fields of interest.
Confusions about probability cause probable errors. A possible conjunction supposes a chance of eventuation and has a chance of happening, yet after it has happened its chances of happening collapse to unity by virtue of the happening having occurred.
When Jesus is Lord of your life, there are no coincidences. Dick Luchtenberg, Journey to Freedom
“There are no coincidences in life.” Glenn Beck
“It is my purpose to show that it is logically impossible to ascribe any power to chance whatever… If chance exists in its frailest possible form, God is finished… If chance exists in any size, shape or form, God cannot exist.” R.C. Sproul. 1994. Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology
“If one likes one could ascribe this randomness to God, but it would be a very strange kind of intervention: there is no evidence that it was directed toward any purpose. Indeed if it were, it would, by definition not be random.” Stephen Hawking
Time to consult the Cube-O-Probe. Probe, in what direction might fruitful territory be discovered for further investigation of the aspects of coincidence and a priori requisite in the quiddity of eventuation?
Comment: The Probe suggests an obvious investigatory dialectical vector between the practical consideration of the marriage of the apparently opposite chance and foreordained, with the completely knotty problem of seeking essential morality within this same interplay. Here also is the ping-ponging between theological and Newtonian determinism, and maybe this could give into finding dual forms for morality. Once again the Cube-O-Probe charts the way!
Doxastic commitment, or “soul in the game”: You can only believe predictions and opinions by those who committed themselves to a certain belief, and had something to lose, in a way to pay a cost in being wrong. Nassim Taleb (from the Anti-Fragile Glossary)
“The general principle of antifragility, it is much better to do things you cannot explain than explain things you cannot do.” – Nassim Taleb
[a. F. coïncidence, L. type *coincidentia: see coincident and -ence.]
1. a.1.a The fact or condition of being coincident; the occupation of the same place or part of space.
1626 Bacon Sylva (1677) §224 There can be no Coincidence in the eye, or Visual Point. 1715 Cheyne Philos. Prin. Relig. (J.), The coincidence of the planes of this rotation with one another, and with the plane of the ecliptick. 1831 Brewster Newton I. x. 222 The singleness of the picture arises from the coincidence of the two pictures. 1870 R. M. Ferguson Electr. 33 This want of coincidence of the points of vertical dip and of maximum intensity.
fig. or transf. 1650 Fuller Pisgah v ii. §5 By a casuall coincidence some straggling words of the Athenians may meet in the mouths of the veriest Barbarians. 1847 Emerson Repr. Men, Plato Wks. I. 304 The rare coincidence, in one ugly body, of the droll and the martyr.
b.1.b (with pl.) A case of coincidence.
1837 Whewell Hist. Induc. Sci. (1857) I. 153 The method of making visual coincidences. 1880 Adams in Times 28 Dec. 10/2 The new line-spectra, the real basic lines of those substances which show coincidences.
2.2 Occurrence or existence at the same time; simultaneous occurrence or existence.
1650 Fuller Pisgah iii. iii. §8 There might be a casuall coincidence of this feast and his presence at Jerusalem. 1681 More Expos. Daniel 257 There is a Coincidence, at least of time. 1722 Susanna Wesley in Eliza Clarke Life (1886) 130 There hardly ever was a greater coincidence of unprosperous events in one family. 1837 H. Martineau Soc. Amer. III. 297 A happy coincidence of outward plenty with liberal institutions. 1878 Huxley Physiogr. xx. 342 The coincidence of twelve by the clock with noon by the sun-dial?is exact only four times in the year.
3. a.3.a Exact agreement or correspondence in substance, nature, character, etc.
1605 Bacon Adv. Learn. ii. v. §3 Is there not a true coincidence between commutative and distributive justice, and arithmetical and geometrical proportion? a?1716 South Serm. VII. v. (R.), Those who discourse metaphysically of the nature of truth?affirm a perfect coincidence between truth and goodness. 1831 Brewster Newton (1855) II. xxiv. 352 The coincidence of the religious views of Sir Isaac Newton with those of John Locke. 1876 Grote Eth. Fragm. iii. 58 These two ends of action are sometimes found in conflict, but more frequently in coincidence.
b.3.b (with pl.) An instance of such agreement or correspondence.
a?1661 Fuller Worthies (1840) I. 201 A local coincidence, which?cannot be paralleled. 1736 Butler Anal. ii. vii. 356 Evidence arising from various coincidences. 1790 Paley Horæ Paul. Rom. ii. 13 Such coincidences may fairly be stated as undesigned. 1867 Freeman Norm. Conq. (1876) I. App. 724 A remarkable series of undesigned coincidences in favour of the belief.
4.4 A notable concurrence of events or circumstances having no apparent causal connexion.
a?1682 Sir T. Browne Let. to Friend (Camelot ed.) 185 That he should also take King Francis prisoner upon that day [of his nativity], was an unexpected coincidence. 1821 De Quincey Confess. Wks. 1863 I. 96, I felt it at the time?as a singular coincidence, that twice, etc. 1823 Byron Juan vi. lxxviii, A ‘strange coincidence,’ to use a phrase By which such things are settled now-a-days. 1829 Scott Guy M. Introd., The fact, if truly reported, is one of those singular coincidences which occasionally appear. 1865 Livingstone Zambesi xix. 378 It might be only a coincidence.
5.5 Of persons: Agreement or concurrence (in opinion or sentiment).
1795 Hull Advertiser 28 Nov. 3/1 Mr. Sturt?expressed his co-incidence with the sentiments of [the Petition]. 1800 Wellington in Owen Disp. 647 You are already apprized of my entire coincidence in your opinion. 1800 Syd. Smith Six Serm. 60 A modest coincidence with received opinions above our faculties.
†6.6 Falling together, conjunction blending. Obs.
c?1645 Howell Lett. (1650) II. 88 The Latine tongue, with the coincidence of the Goths language and other northern peeple.
7. a.7.a Physics. The indication of the occurrence of ionizing particles in two or more detectors simultaneously (see quot. 1958). Also attrib. Cf. anti-coincidence.
1930 Physical Rev. XXXV. 651/2 Enormously increased resolving power can be obtained by the requirement of multiple instead of paired coincidences. The attainment of very great freedom from accidental coincidences is of greatest importance [etc.]. Ibid. 652/1 Automatic recording of the amount of the penetrating radiation coming from particular areas of the sky, using two tube-counters and a special ‘coincidence circuit’. 1938 R. W. Lawson tr. Hevesy & Paneth’s Man. Radioactivity (ed. 2) xxv. 280 Insertion of sheets of lead between the counters only slightly diminishes the number of simultaneous discharges (coincidences), and this proves that we are here confronted?with cosmic rays. 1940, etc. [see anti-coincidence]. 1958 Van Nostrand’s Sci. Encycl. (ed. 3) 369/1 A true coincidence is one that is due to the detection of a single particle or of several genetically related particles. An accidental, chance, or random coincidence is one that is due to the fortuitous occurrence of unrelated counts in the separate detectors.
b.7.b Computers. Equivalent signals received simultaneously in an electronic circuit; the reception of such signals. Also attrib.
1947 Rev. Sci. Instruments XVIII. 907/1 In order to reduce chance coincidences to a minimum, it is necessary to use a coincidence circuit. 1948 Ibid. XIX. 565/2 Methods can be found for modulating one of the E.M.T.’s?so that the E.M.T.’s themselves form a coincidence or anticoincidence system. 1950 C. B. Tompkins et al. High-Speed Computing Devices iv. 37 An electronic gate is a circuit with a single output and two (or more) inputs so designed that an output signal is produced when, and only when, input signals are received on both (or on a particular set of) input leads. Such circuits are variously known as gates, coincidence circuits, Rossi circuits, or logical and circuits. 1953 A. D. & K. H. V. Booth Automatic Digital Calculators xi. 111 Coincidence sensers. In computing machine design it is frequently necessary to have available means for ascertaining the identity of two quantities. 1964 M. J. Pedelty in Tou & Wilcox Computer Sci. x. 248 The essence of the system?is that signals are ‘broadcast’ on a ‘to-whom-it-may-concern’ basis. Coincidence gates and delays can then be used to detect certain pulse patterns from the ‘broadcast alphabet’.
My essay, Liberating the Stars From Space & Time, when completed. will complete the narrative concerned with how I came to necessarily etch a limit to my philosophical ability, and, in doing so, squish thousands of years of astrology into tools able to exist in my flatland.
These tools do not either make predictions or anchor person and possibility to a priori requisites. On the other hand, in future experimental philosophical research, I will attempt to show to some greater degree how these flatlander’s astro-psychological tools connect up with other over-arching concerns of mine, serendipity in adult development, the praxis of polarity and paradox, and the ‘action’ pragmatics given in the third order human/social cybernetics.
Until this essay is ready-to-roll, there’s a new page here that skates over the surface of my promethean poke, Cybernetic Liberation of Astrology.
The fate of public libraries is unknown. However, perhaps a random delivery from the Cube-O-Probe set to the Heaven & Hell four square format could induce compelling intuitions and predictive abductions.
This capture might benefit from facilitation.
[Above: random Cube-O-Probe “roll” nailed to the Heaven & Hell Mandala. In this form for interpretation, the Heavenly opportunities are betwixt the cubes in the upper right quadrant, and the Hellish obstacles are between the cubes in the lower left quadrant. These two conventions are explicit conceptual anchors given to the heuristic means of the tool. Less explicit would be what Ken and I call the flickering aspects in the other two quadrants.]
I invented, with assistance from Kenneth Warren, two new squareONE tools over the last several months. Both have applications in discovery-based self-knowledge. Additionally, the Cube-O-Probe has already been given a trial run as a method for adducing insight about organizational development. As it turns out, the Cube-O-Probe is organically integrated with the earlier tool, Calhoun/Warren Heaven & Hell Archetypal Assessment Mandala because the form of the Mandala provides a very sharp interpretive format for the roll of the cubes.
The ‘Archetypal Assessment Mandala,’ as this is being written, is being beta tested by intrepid volunteers. It was rolled out to participants at Ken and my program Repairing the Opposites, Doubling Stars, Turning Swine Into Pears, that we presented at the Analytical Psychology Society of Western New York December 12th.
I am working on a post to explain how I came to liberate astrology from the confines of space and time, and also free astrology from its deterministic meta-theories. In doing so, I could add on additional cubes to the new tool the Cube-O-Probe. Those add-on cubes increase the original set of cubes based in masculine, feminine, mythological archetypes, and psychodynamic polarities (or dichotomies,) and, the explicit so-called oppositions of the typological constructs taken from Dr. Jung and variously identified by John Beebe and John Giannini.
These new cubes, based in a matrix devised from the basic developmental psychological positions given by the twelve houses and twelve signs–think of the signs as a Y axis, and the houses as a X axis–implicate those positions and also the polarities given in the astro-psychology to be food for reflection/exploration/self-discovery.
The Cube-O-Probe is anchored to my theoretical wondering about the role of generative inducements for praxis using polarities in personal meaning-making. In turn, this has to do with freeing practical means for self-knowledge from linear and stage-based regimens of self-seeking. Both these ‘second orders’ of experiential learning aim at providing spontaneous ‘third order’ methods for self-recognition and self-development, or, alternately, for synchronic (insight-based,) individuation.
For three years I have been creatively launching visual experiments at a rapid pace. Although my sense of what this is about is theorized to a lesser degree than it would be if I was working a great or robust theory, nevertheless, I do comprehend what is a creative impulse when this impulse is about the artistic intention being overwhelmed by generative routine and stochastic disruptions.
Especially this summer my experiments have been gripped by the procedures for mirroring photographs and the work of Peter Brueghel and Tibetan Tangkas. (See public artworks: symmetry-hypotheses@tumblr)
The question I pose to myself about this weird form of channeling of the fragile random into a moment in which I finally decide to capture and etch a selection is: why has this been compelling me?
My creative preoccupations are in some relation with my investigations into serendipity in adult development, and I have been exploring day in and day out, as against becoming sunk again into the thin, question-less titanisms of the workaday world. Ken and I have been working on a folk neuroscientific, phenomenographic form for self-evaluation that captures its data in the mandala of a four quradrant matrix, (or Johari Window.) My production of symmetry oriented kitsch is related to that too.
- Contemporary Western consciousness may not be able to experience the mythic world as the ancients did, but simply to engage with it may be the beginning of that remembering which the undying deities demand. The intellect may be drawn not to ego’s greedy colonizing—”gods and goddesses in everyone” as both description of and justification for known states—but to a meeting with the symbolic. Those old tales, with their impossible metamorphoses, their incomprehensible plotlines, their evocations of terror and of bliss, can act as a series of Rorschach tests. Which is the moment in the tale, which is the image, that seizes me? Who is the character with whom I identify, whom would I hiss off the stage? At which moment do I burst out “But it’s not fair!”’ and have to remem- ber once more that in these just-so stories, that’s simply the way it is? Thus I learn again about myself, and in doing so may also learn about others, as I am recalled to that dream image, this fantasy, that unexpected affect, which has entered the consulting room from an ancient place.As Jung (1968) emphasized, this is far from being a parlor game: “When archetypal contents assume grotesque and horrible forms and lead to fears of madness, it is absolutely necessary to supply these fantastic images that rise up so strange and threatening before the mind’s eye with some kind of context, so as to make them more intelligible. Experience has shown that the best way to do this is by means of comparative mythological material” (para. 38). And as well as “calm- ing and clarifying a consciousness that is all at sea” (ibid.), attention to the myth- ical may help both therapists and those with whom they work to reach a deeper understanding of what it is to be human. Donald Kalsched (1995) expresses this eloquently in writing of his own approach to psychotherapy:
We must remember that mythology is where the psyche “was” before psychology made it an object of scientific investigation. By drawing attention to the parallels between the findings of clinical psycho- analysis and ancient religious ideation we demonstrate how the psychological struggle of contemporary patients (and those of us trying to help them) runs rather deeper into the symbolic phe- nomenology of the human soul than recent psychoanalytic dis- cussions of trauma or the “dissociative disorders” are inclined to acknowledge. Not everyone is helped by an understanding of these parallels, but some people are, and for them, this “binocu- lar” way of viewing, simultaneously, the psychological and reli- gious phenomena is equivalent to finding a deeper meaning to their suffering, and this in itself can be healing. (p. 6, his italics)
On the Making of Myths:Mythology in Training
Ann Shearer -Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice V6 NO. 2 2004
Brueghel: The Alchemist
This piece is part of a large series that will likely be presented in a short film. The film is intended to show the interplay of manipulations and recursions involved in generating different pieces.
I dedicate this new series to Ms. Uidhi. (I may be one of a handful of artists, or pseudo-artists, focusing on creative luckiness in the context of a post-academic post-scholarly focus on the situation of serendipity in adult development. This could include meandering into philosophical swamps.
IP LAF Forum: Christy Mag Uidhi on Artistic Serendipity vs. Artistic Luck, 25 Sept
INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY
Thurs 25 September 2014, 4.00pm
IP London Aesthetics Forum: Room G34, Senate House, WC1
Artistic Serendipity vs. Artistic Luck
Christy Mag Uidhi (Houston)
Supported by the British Society of Aesthetics
It is standardly thought that artworks may gain and lose art-relevant properties over time (and thereby may also admit of similar gains and losses in artistic value). From this it follows that insofar as such gains and losses may be well outside the control of the artist, we ought to expect any minimally adequate theory of art and its value as such to come with (or at least be amenable to) some minimal notion of artistic luck and artistic achievement (such that ascriptions of the one undermine ascriptions of the other). In this talk, I’ll sketch what I take to be uncontroversial minimal accounts of both artistic luck and artistic achievement. From these I show it to follow that if artworks must be products of intentional action, then there can be no such thing as artistic luck (either descriptively or evaluatively). I claim the only formative role luck might play in our understanding of art and its value as such is to provide the means by which we may productively carve out an informative sub-class of artistic achievement: specifically that of artistic serendipity.
[My bold.] Intention, serendipity. Intentional serendipity is pseudo-serendipity. It is a kind of search routine. I don’t subscribe to the idea that intentionality is properly monolithic or exclusionary. But, I concede that psychologizing the artist’s creative process may take my own considerations and sensemaking out of and away from a proper philosophy of aesthetics.
Nor do I know what Ms. Mag Uidhi has in mind to flesh out the intriguing precis.
For my own part, there is so much in my creative process that permits creative intention-up-to-the-point of pulling the curtains away, and, thus includes less discrete combinations of intention and, fundamentally, hope about the unknown!
My music making alter ego is: Kamelmauz. He does sonic experiments and lets me produce and issue them on Duty Free Records. Finally, these records are issued on Bandcamp, in one of two locations.
Got it? There today exist fourteen different audio productions. Each can be downloaded or auditioned at Bandcamp.
The vein of music I create is variously reduced to categories–experimental/avant-agarde/ambient/industrial/dark ambient–which miss the personal point of my efforts. Oh well. ‘we’ make music for the sake of my enjoyment of the process of making music, and, to actively support my enthusiasm for learning, novelty, and experience.
As you should know by now, my musical activities and interests are documented on the blog of noguts noglory studios.
There’s a video for the new ep, Apparently There’s More.
Totem For Lakewood; 2010 S.Calhoun
II. Roots of (My) Urbanology (part two of three parts)
In 1972, my mother suggested that I might find Lewis Mumford interesting. Although I was mostly concerned with–in 1972–squeezing through various doors of perception, I managed to wander through Mumford’s The Conduct of Life, along with Huxley and Laing and Watts. The Conduct of Life was written in 1951. (I suppose hardly anybody reads Mumford anymore.) A few years after returning to Cleveland in 1992, I remember revisiting Mumford in a series of conversations with my mother about Cleveland, cities, the de-industrialization of the Mid West, and, the curse of Ronald Reagan. She insisted I read The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. (1961!) I did so. I re-read Mumford’s The City in History. I explained to my dear mother what I meant when I described Mumford to be a constructionist mystic.
In the fall of 2005, again due to the result of a remarkable fortuity, I met the Director of the Lakewood Public Library, Kenneth Warren; (to myself I noted: heck, a constructionist mystic!) I learned of the Visionary Alignment, the Lakewood Observer Project, and soon enough–even though I was a wash-a-shore–was in the thick of it. At the outset, among the suggestions I introduced to the Observer crew was a ripe and dangerous speculative question:
What would it be like to live in a city devoted to knowing itself better than any other city ever has known itself?
I didn’t really get at the time that I was both implying a name for the practical learning process of the project being unfolded by a handful of intrepid Lakewoodites and Observers, and, idealizing a highly charged constellation of conflicting fantasies about what is the very stuff of civic knowledge-seeking and civic knowing. The name/process is simple: civic self-knowledge, but the charging of the civic constellation is altogether complex, entangled, and, as we soon enough came to understand, is plain difficult.
Community, know thyself? Really? Plug into the circuit and call forth shadow, and every variety of impossible dream, and quixotic obstacle?
Lakewood Prism (demographic analysis schema)
(from a presentation by Kenneth Warren, – Lakewood Future Tools – Understanding Lakewood: Communities and Memes; March 2005) See also the pdf, Community Capacity.
(Lakewood Ohio) Place-Making with Good Neighbors on the Lake
· Flow =Quality of Life
· Increase the flow states in the community.
· Refresh the conventional sense of local living in Lakewood by engaging good neighbors.
· Cultivate the habit of good neighbors listening to one another.
· Activate through the Lake a sense of the liminal among good neighbors, that is, the threshold of physiological or psychological response to the unique energy that permeates the people and place.
· Make Lakewood permeable to new experience, ideas, mechanisms and structures among good neighbors
who are joining society to economy, conscience to knowledge.
· Obtain commitments from good neighbors to act on projects that will stretch beyond circular, selfjustified egocentric gated communities.
· Know there is a beginning point and ending point to each good neighborhood.
· Realize that a commitment to sustainability is shift in consciousness; it is not about constructing a pretty
· Understand that places and institutions can get high-jacked by interests that lie outside the particular community, i.e. absentee landlords, absentee corporations and absentee public employees.
· Construct IEDs – Improvised Economic Devises
Ken Warren, Lakewood Visionary Alignment
During the summer of 2006 I happened upon my current research focus, serendipity in adult development. Under the auspices of The Lakewood Observer and Lakewood Public Library, I devised a small project. I would quickly teach street anthropologists to conduct a survey, and then from their gathering of this data set, build out with them a very constrained ethnography focused on a single question, What brought you, [the subject,] to live in Lakewood?
For two weekends a dozen or so of us fanned out through Lakewood and conducted this survey. We then spent an afternoon debriefing the results. We never assembled the final work product, but, in reviewing the surveys on my own time, I realized an amazing quality threaded itself through many of the survey results.
I can capture this quality in one of the answers to the signal question.
My husband and I came to live in Lakewood because he had just taken a job at the hospital in Fairview Park and we were in a very temporary sublet in Rocky River. One day, at the grocery store there, I asked the gal at the cash register if she knew of any good resources for tracking down nice rentals in Rocky River. Before she could answer a woman standing behind me in the checkout line tapped me on the shoulder and told me that her sister had a first floor, two bedroom apartment available in her Lakewood house. I jotted her sister’s number down and we moved in the very next month.
Not only were the surveys littered with similar narratives, but having my nose pushed close to such stories compelled me to consider my own.
So: I had to reckon with the robber in 1974 who made it all possible by trying to kill me.
In other words, I discovered my interest in the problem of serendipity in adult development by reflecting on my apparently fortuitous encounter with a robber in 1974. This reflection itself was inspired by asking residents of Lakewood what was it that brought them to Lakewood to live.
Keynote: communities collect the results of serendipity.
(Technically speaking: communities aggregate the product of intricate conjunctions of agentic, environmental, and temporal fortuities.)
I. Home Coming (part one of three parts)
I dig Cleveland Heights; I’m from Cleveland Heights. My wife digs Cleveland Heights too, and we count ourselves blessed that after the challenging circumstances of my mother’s illness and passing, we moved from the apartment in her home in Shaker Heights we rented from her for almost five years to our new home in Cleveland Heights.
This new home is almost exactly one mile from my first family home on Ormond Road, and a tad more than a mile from the succeeding family home on East Overlook Road. It is the first home Susan and I have owned together and comes after twenty years of our being renters, most of the time in various neighborhoods of, yup, Cleveland Heights.
Personally, as an independent researcher recently concerned with the role of constructive fortuity, or serendipity, in adult development, it is worth noting three of many fortuitous events that staked me to my home town. The first was a family emergency that brought me back from Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1992, and the second was the teamwork of two realtors, and the intuition of one of them, to show us our current beloved house on the great Cleveland Heights street of Coleridge Road. Our house here is five blocks from where I went to elementary school between 1959-1961. The third lucky event is bookended by the aforementioned two: meeting my future wife and partner Susan as the result of a fix-me-up sponsored by a mutual friend. This first meeting unfolded at a September party on Grandview Road in 1993, in, sure, Cleveland Heights.
For Susan and I Cleveland Heights is congenial ‘to-the-max.’ Yet, a final fortuitous event was primarily instrumental in both my leaving Cleveland Heights, and, eighteen years later, returning. On a Thursday afternoon in June 1974, a guy walks into the record store I was assistant manager of, Music Madness. It was located next to the old CH Post Office on lee Road. He found me alone and more than willing, at gun point, to give him the contents of the cash register, and walk with him to the back room office, and give him the rest of the day’s cash. Then, after a frustrating for-us-both few minutes during which I tried to–by myself–tie up my hands, he beckoned me to lay down on the floor and once prostrated, he next shot me in the back at point blank range.
(Good ol’ Cleveland Heights; Lee Road could be a bit like the wild west in the mid seventies.)
I got the hell out of my home town, and took the bus to Vermont by the end of July.
Nevertheless, the way the very long chains of contingency, necessity, and fortuity operate to constitute the foundation of future events, the leave-taking is as necessary as the homecoming–is, in actuality, its required precedent.
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Kizzy. Looking over the wash of posts oriented to the recently past political season, and the interjections of Freeplay Softball reports and a few postings of my art, I see right away the points of emphasis will soon be shifting. I don’t plan much out, still, I’ve been collecting teaching cartoons, and interesting captures from the web tubes, and, other stuff, while I neglect packing up for the big move into the new house–except I’m remaining behind in important respects until the current house is sold!
People who know me well might find it amusing to learn my preoccupations aren’t throwing me all about as they usually do. Ironically, the research project into Strategic Serendipity is on hold just as the whole field blows up on the breath of several best-selling, albeit non-technical, treatments of the subject.
Not sure the exact date of this clip from an old issue of Science; (early twenties?)
The most robust concept of serendipity is found in the field of sociology of science. My opinion is that this provides, right now, the only robust treatment of serendipity.
[…] Feynman visualized the world with pictures rather than with equations. Other physicists in the past and present describe the laws of nature with equations and then solve the equations to find out what happens. Feynman skipped the equations and wrote down the solutions directly, using his pictures as a guide. Skipping the equations was his greatest contribution to science. By skipping the equations, he created the language that a majority of modern physicists speak. Incidentally, he created a language that ordinary people without mathematical training can understand. To use the language to do quantitative calculations requires training, but untrained people can use it to describe qualitatively how nature behaves.
Feynman’s picture of the world starts from the idea that the world has two layers, a classical layer and a quantum layer. Classical means that things are ordinary. Quantum means that things are weird. We live in the classical layer. All the things that we can see and touch and measure, such as bricks and people and energies, are classical. We see them with classical devices such as eyes and cameras, and we measure them with classical instruments such as thermometers and clocks. The pictures that Feynman invented to describe the world are classical pictures of objects moving in the classical layer. Each picture represents a possible history of the classical layer. But the real world of atoms and particles is not classical. Atoms and particles appear in Feynman’s pictures as classical objects, but they actually obey quite different laws. They obey the quantum laws that Feynman showed us how to describe by using his pictures. The world of atoms belongs to the quantum layer, which we cannot touch directly.
The primary difference between the classical layer and the quantum layer is that the classical layer deals with facts and the quantum layer deals with probabilities. In situations where classical laws are valid, we can predict the future by observing the past. In situations where quantum laws are valid, we can observe the past but we cannot predict the future. In the quantum layer, events are unpredictable. The Feynman pictures only allow us to calculate the probabilities that various alternative futures may happen.
The quantum layer is related to the classical layer in two ways. First, the state of the quantum layer is what is called “a sum-over-histories,” that is, a combination of every possible history of the classical layer leading up to that state. Each possible classical history is given a quantum amplitude. The quantum amplitude, otherwise known as a wave function, is a number defining the contribution of that classical history to that quantum state. Second, the quantum amplitude is obtained from the picture of that classical history by following a simple set of rules. The rules are pictorial, translating the picture directly into a number. The difficult part of the calculation is to add up the sum-over-histories correctly. The great achievement of Feynman was to show that this sum-over-histories view of the quantum world reproduces all the known results of quantum theory, and allows an exact description of quantum processes in situations where earlier versions of quantum theory had broken down. The ‘Dramatic Picture’ of Richard Feynman New York Review of Books July 14, 2011 Freeman Dyson (reviewing Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science by Lawrence M. Krauss; Feynmana graphical biography by Jim Ottaviani
You see, when you ask why something happens, how does a person answer why something happens?
For example, Aunt Minnie is in the hospital. Why? Because she went out on the ice and slipped and broke her hip. That satisfies people. But it wouldn’t satisfy someone who came from another planet and knew nothing about things… When you explain a why, you have to be in some framework that you’ve allowed something to be true. Otherwise you’re perpetually asking why… You go deeper and deeper in various directions.
Why did she slip on the ice? Well, ice is slippery. Everybody knows that-no problem. But you ask why the ice is slippery… And then you’re involved with something, because there aren’t many things slippery as ice… A solid that’s so slippery?
Because it is in the case of ice that when you stand on it, they say, momentarily the pressure melts the ice a little bit so that you’ve got an instantaneous water surface on which you’re slipping. Why on ice and not on other things? Because water expands when it freezes. So the pressure tries to undo the expansion and melts it…
I’m not answering your question, but I’m telling you how difficult a why question is. You have to know what it is permitted to understand… and what it is you’re not.
You’ll notice in this example that the more I ask why, it gets interesting after a while. That’s my idea, that the deeper a thing is, the more interesting…(Richard Feynman. src: Kallos)
Why was she on the ice in the first place?
Eventually, in my consideration of the analytical frame for constitutive fortuity–eg. transformative anthropology–I’ll be fitting taxonomy to the richer, higher order conceptualization for eventuation. Eventuation means for this purpose the conjunction of events necessary to prime a fortuity. One of the intriguing and hard difficulties in wandering around the current mixture of term and operation is that the informal language used to denote folk conceptions about serendipity, fortuity, inter alia, are weighed down by all sorts of divergent connotations.
For example, Paul Lester describes in his book The Spiral Web a restaurant’s assembly of strangers being there all by coincidence.
OED travels from definition of coincidence, 1 to 4, like this:
1. a.1.a The fact or condition of being coincident; the occupation of the same place or part of space.
4.4 A notable concurrence of events or circumstances having no apparent causal connexion.
The strong connotation in every day use does attach notability, or, the exceptional, or another similar sense, and attaches also an underlying sense of there being no causal connection between two isolate and discretely caused events. This leads the meaning enough so that normal use in English-speaking cultures–for example: what a coincidence!–distinguished between the happenstance circumstance of being in a room full of strangers, and, encountering in this room a stranger, only to find enough of a commonality for the happenstance, to morph into notable coincidence.
However, as much as this leads to semantic, conceptual, and terminological conundrums, it is becoming increasingly clear that the causality that differently situates strangers so him or her come to occupy the same part of space may come to collapse together, as-it-were, in the conjunction given by a fortuitous event.
In which case, the folk phrase what a coincidence stands in for: these disparate events come to eventuate together in a single conjunctive event
This got me to thinking of both the metaphoric semblance, or, analogous collapse of histories. And of Dr. Feynman! With a kind of rubric, or top level category, constitutive fortuity, in hand, the sketching of a structural framework nears.
Something about the Feynman diagram compels me to play around with how elements of such a framework could be depicted.
In my continuing research into what I term transformative anthropology, or, into developmental serendipity in the human life cycle, every question or speculation is worth investigation. This includes questions considered ridiculous:
“What if your parents had never met?”
To which I respond: Indeed. (So, I gently pull it into my mental lab.)
I had an opportunity this fall to pose clinical-like questions to one of my softball associates, a pediatrician, Dr. Art. What I was wondering about was whether or not it would be equally correct, given the what if you’re parents never met query, to pose a similar question: “What if your, (or my own, or anybody’s,) parents had instantiated the fertilization at some other timely point, say seconds, minutes, hours, the next day, later, other than at the time at which point you, me, anybody came to be?”
Here’s the encapsulation of my questioning of Dr. Art.
Given the chanciness of what comes together at point of fertilization, is it correct to state that the fertilization that produced me, you, anybody, exactingly reflects the outcome of a single and unique outcome of sperm meeting egg? (In other words, fertilization is not able to be comprehensively duplicated in anyway.)
Okay, so, the nature of fertilization is a spectacular instance of something, a human he or she, in its generative case, created and necessarily from this, completely unique.
Dr. Art’s answer was,
“As far as anybody can know, human fertilization causes a unique person.”
Its instance comes down to a singular event and a rapid unfolding of unique configuration. This is entirely given by the nature of the mechanics involved. A different instantiation would unfold under the slightly different conditions given by these same mechanics.
Several aspects of this (class of) instance figure into how one thinks about it–as a matter of these mechanics. Fertilization’s uniqueness is not repeatable. Nor is this like shuffling a deck of cards or rolling the dice. The unique result is singularly so. There are many many possible outcomes when the deck is shuffled. Yet, over time, and with enough shuffles, the outcomes aren’t singularly unique. Likewise if we pose such an instance as a roll of the dice. I don’t know what a rigorous mathematically-minded appreciation of the consequential uniqueness of fertilization would be, yet I suspect the analogous two dice have to have an odd, not finite, configuration.
The scale of the temporal condition is something like: instantaneous, yet this also reflects the physical conditions through which fertilization happens as a result of one sperm actor, so-to-speak, being successful against all the other actors. It’s a measurable amount of time too, this instant.
A consequence of this set-up is that the instantiation of one’s own self hangs on the slender thread of these conditions. If Marvin Gaye comes on the CD player, and one of the parties to conception gasps, “Hold On!” then the internal process will be configured differently. Yet, consider how even this kind of adjustment occurs at an almost ridiculously huge scale given how the outcome of fertilization is itself contingent on the tiny scale at which the jockeying of sperm happens.
Perhaps, say you, “So what?”
As I mentioned, I take this seriously because I’m researching the element of fortuity as it plays a part in the resolution of human development at any scale of condition or time. I’m tracking back here to what I term the primordial biological dependent contingency. This is where any map of fortuitous contingency tracks back to. However, at the same time, there is also the implicit regress, ‘what if your parents’ parents had never met?’ And, the circumstances for consequential conjoinment, and for relationship, are entangled in vast, requisite ‘narratives’ for which all the necessary human players, and time-and-space, features necessarily are in some exacting way configured by long chains of, well, fertilization!
Backing up from this, we can sift through other consequences (of primordial biological dependent contingency) at much larger scales of relationship and agency. The evolutionary perspective warrants consideration of where this all can be said to commence and how the two, at least, most primal actors came to make something like the first instance, and how the original hims and hers were instantiated in kind.
Also recognized are other perspectives and the explanations or suppositions each invokes. The idea that a unique soul animates the physical instance of fertilization is, obviously, a very ancient idea. This same idea is deeply embedded in many varieties of how persons culturally grappled with the presumably self-evident unique outcome of procreation. Actually, is there a good reason to presume even this was so? I’m willing to wager without knowing–yet–conceptions about the soul finding its physical incarnation predate ideas about every born human constituting an utterly unique instance of human being.
Obviously, fortuitous dependencies track backward from biological scales ‘down and further’ back through material and temporal scales. My main research interest lies in the other direction, long after the presumptive collapse of enjoined human wave functions (!) granted in fertilization have occurred. Still, it would remain true enough that the serendipity decisive in later human development all are in the light of the strange and implicit fragility of fertilization, and, the: “I might never have come to be!”
Except for this crucial feature: successful fertilization and thus the biological evocation of a him or her sets up this new person as a unique in stance of human being, but is not the whole story by any means.
So much for the notion that DNA determines what an organism is like; it doesn’t. There is, in principle, no one-to-one relationship, no “mapping,” from DNA sequences to characters. (Of course, we can map differences of character– like albinism or Parkinson’s disease–to species differences in DNA.) The whole process of development, from ovary- making egg to mother-making ovary, holds itself together. Each bit of information context, like the egg mechanisms, is necessary and specific for each bit of information content, like the DNA. What makes the fly, or you, is the complete process of development. All of it. Can you blame your DNA for your funny squiggly handwriting, your passion for Fats Waller and
Burmese cats, your blue eyes! Well, perhaps the last, but certainly not the others. You can’t blame the DNA for what you’ve made of yourself. You, the process, are responsible for what you are, what you do. And for what you become. (biologist Jack Cohen)