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Cellular Memory’s Challenge to Materialism and Support for Panpsychism: The Body Arises from Consciousness, Not Vice-Versa, but There Is a Legitimacy to Heuristic Inquiry Into Form

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Verifiable Memory of Events That Occurred Prior to Brain or Body Prove the Existence of “Spirit”: Biology As Metaphor and Mythology, Part Two — The Epistemology Revealed by Cellular Memory

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Biological Phases As Levels of Consciousness

My attempt here is to skeletonize a portion of such an overall endeavor to show how it can be done and what kinds of meanings can arise. I will relate stages in the ontogenetic development of the human body to the dualities (splittings) of consciousness that, according to Wilber (1977), create the spectrum of consciousness.

Specifically, I will correlate the patterns of change in both form and experience (feeling) that a human undergoes with levels of consciousness. I will do this beginning with the sperm and egg; through the fetal, newborn, child, and adolescent forms; to the adult. What I am saying is that the forms that characterize the biological history of each individual (as delineated by the science of biology) and the processes that characterize the psychological history of each individual (as reported to us in the psychological sciences of the new experiential growth modalities) reflect, and correlate with, the changes in consciousness that Wilber describes as creating the spectrum of consciousness.

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The Charge of Reductionism

Is this reductionistic? Am I saying that our ontogenetic development creates or causes the spectrum of consciousness? No. I no more mean that ontogeny creates the spectrum than that ontogeny creates phylogeny … in that, as they say, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.”

One might deduce, however, that since this ontogenetic development, that is, this human prenatal development, is prior (in time) to the spectrum of consciousness that we observe and study in the Now, a cause-and-effect relationship is the most likely connection. But I must respond that this assumes the primacy of the physical form (in its ontogenetic development) over consciousness. This presupposition is, of course, a cornerstone of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm. Nevertheless, the very existence of consciousness or experience at the earliest levels I will be discussing (specifically, sperm, egg, zygote, and fetal) disputes the primacy-of-the-physical-universe postulate. To put it bluntly, consciousness can hardly be an epiphenomenon of brain activity if it exists when the brain does not.

Conversely, the body, brain, and cells cannot create the spectrum of consciousness for consciousness exists independent of them. The body reveals itself to arise from consciousness; it is the tip of the iceberg, which cannot be the foundation for the structures prior to or “below” or existing independently of it.

So the fact of memory and consciousness existing when the physical cells or the body cannot “create” them points inevitably to the primary reality/existence of something like Consciousness, Spirit, or Mind (or at least Energy) (see Adzema, 1985). Therefore, this type of impossible-to-have-existed-as-experience-or-to-be-existing-as-memory-according-to-the-N-C-paradigm experience can hardly be called the cause of the spectrum of consciousness. Indeed, something that cannot possibly exist within a paradigm can hardly be marshaled in to explain something within that paradigm.

However, if we accept the paradigm in which Consciousness, not form, is fundamentally real (which is exactly what we must do if we are going to look at evidence which supports, if not confirms, such a paradigm), and if we still want to accept the controversial concept of cause and effect, then the most we can really say is that prior experience of consciousness contributes to its later modifications. This perspective is certainly worthy of consideration.

The Legitimacy of Heuristic Inquiry Into Form

But were it true that prior experience causes the later modifications of Consciousness (or as Wilber terms it, “Mind”), that truth is congruent with an analysis such as this one that considers form as to its metaphorical heuristic value in understanding experience and existence (or Mind, Consciousness) as it is immediately apperceived in the only Reality of Now. As Wilber (1977) makes adequately clear, from the only Real perspective of Here and Nowness, Absolute Subjectivity, or Mind, all “past” events are nonreal (i.e., illusory) reflections of the Reality that is Now; they have no existence outside of this Now, so can hardly be called “causes” of Now.

From the perspective of Now, of Mind, of Absolute Subjectivity — which is the essence of the new paradigm — there is no cause and effect; there are only patterns of relationship existing Now. Hence these “prior” events are reflections of the immediate Reality, existing simultaneously in the Now as reflections, as metaphors. It is in this sense that they can be analyzed hermeneutically for their heuristic value in understanding the spectrum of consciousness as it arises this instant in the sole Eternal Moment.

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The Legitimacy of Cellular Memory

Despite what I have just said concerning the importance of an analysis of the biological metaphors of form — especially as they exist on the cellular level surrounding conception — as reflecting something of importance to us in a hermeneutic or heuristic sense, I want to at least put out a case for the legitimacy of cellular memory as something in its own right. That is, the rest of Part Two will be based on a comparison of Wilber’s spectrum of consciousness with the observable events and forms (the behaviors of the specific biological forms) as they are known to occur through the observational aspects of the science of biology. Still, the interpretation between the philosophical system and the biological form will be aided, supported, and fed by, among other things, the direct experience of memories of these states and forms, down even to the earliest, by myself and by the reports of such experiences by others.

So while this analysis does not stand on the absolute veracity of those experiences by myself or by others, still the analysis is certainly aided and helped by a belief in their legitimacy. I will say a few words about how memory can occur of such events, and more importantly, how that memory can be related to the foundations of our consciousness. A complete explanation (as I see it) of exactly this — e.g., of how sperm and egg and zygote experience can lead to fundamental mythological, philosophical, and basic assumptions on the world, the self, and reality — can be found in two other recent works of mine (1993c, 1993d).

For our purposes here, let me just say that there are two possibilities that immediately come to mind: (1) what one might call the “prior conditions” theory and (2) Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance and morphogenetic fields. Let us take them in turn.

Continue with Morphogenetic Fields Theory Makes Genetics Obsolete and Unnecessary … and Cellular Memory Understandable: The Theories of Morphic Resonance and “Prior Conditions”

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Occupy Science … A Call for a Scientific Awakening: In Tossing Away Our Species Blinders, We Approach a Truth Far Beyond Science

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Only by Leaving Can a Fish Know It Lives in Water: Biologically Constituted Realities Summary and A Call to End Science’s Culture War

What I’m saying in this part is that basically our sciences have shown they can not determine what is real,558008_447511325288521_2045342229_n let alone measure it, because they are extensions of our senses which are themselves imperfect. So we cannot really know what is real. Further, we find that just as culture creates our reality for us, that prior to that our biology creates the reality upon which culture can build. This means that we are able to understand what is human reality at least, though not ultimate reality, by looking at the only reality that all humans share—our biological one.

We will see shortly that means that the way we come into the world—our conception, womb life, and birth—create the foundations upon which all our other perceptions are built, and these being unique to humans mean that humans will be the only species seeing the world exactly the way we do.

bwv01aFurther, while focusing on our biology as a basis for understanding what is fundamental about humanness, we are able to compare cultures in relation to that biology, though not in any other way. What we will see this means is that while we cannot compare cultures for the most part—this is called cultural relativity—we can compare them in terms of certain things all cultures share which have to do with the fact that all humans have the same kind of body and biological history: an example of that would be the way cultures deal with birth, specifically the pain of it.

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“Ultimately our physics . . . is going to demonstrate that essentially there is no such thing as matter. All there is is mind and motion.” – Armand Labbe

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You cannot convince a fish it lives in water. You can only give the fish the experience of being in air; then it will understand.

Our combined efforts in psychology, physics, biology, and anthropology have led us to an impasse. We have been led to conclude that our view of reality is symbolic. We have learned, above all, not what to know, but that we know not . . . i.e., that we are incapable of truly knowing.

So, if we can’t know, why then bother to know anything? We seek to know because it is useful to our biological survival to know. That which we “know,” in our most refined science and in our daily lives, is that which is, or has been, in some way useful to the biological existence of our species.

Each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet

When this is reversed by various methods, and the brain is itself inhibited from its task of reducing awareness so that “Mind at Large seeps past the no longer watertight valve, all kinds of biologically useless things start to happen.”

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is … infinite.” – William Blake

Our sciences have led us to learn that what we call reality is what we have found to be useful for us as a species, but that it is not necessarily what is True and is certainly not all that is true or real. So we find that the Reality of It All or the All That Is gets reduced down from what it is to the snippet of it that we have found to be biologically useful.

But if we wish to know not merely what is practical but what is actually True or Reality, we need to go way beyond the smattering of facts thrown up by our ordinary senses and the sciences that are extensions of them. There are levels of that diminution of Reality—from All That Is down through what the individual knows to be true. So to know what is True, we need to reverse those reductions in true understanding.

We find that in doing this reversal, some startling things are revealed. For example, from the perspective of each greater awareness, each more limited perspective becomes understandable and the different ones of those perspectives can be compared. For example, it is difficult for one individual to truly understand another. However, standing within a knowledge of psychology in general we have a better understanding of another and we can compare one individual’s reality with another and come up with meaningful and true conclusions, even comparisons and evaluations. That is, indeed, why we have the science of psychology in the first place.

But at the level of cultures, a similar thing happens. Anthropologists come necessarily to the conclusion that another culture cannot truly be understood by someone standing in a different culture. Just as one individual cannot exactly understand another’s reality, it is even more impossible for someone from one culture to be able to truly view the world through the lenses or worldview of those born into another culture.

However, here again, we can have a better understanding of each culture and can even compare cultures somewhat when coming from the perspective of our common human biology. For all cultures have to relate to the nature of our body and its abilities, senses, and capabilities. All cultures make constructions about, around, and from the particular biological frame that humans have, so cultures can be compared at least in relation to those commonalities of humans. This means more than just that cultures can be compared in relation to biological realities like birth and death, for it is even important and instructive to compare them to more basic realities of human biology such as pain, pleasure, happiness, liberty, and so on. All humans feel and have concepts about these things. However, we see how non-absolute these realities are as soon as we look at the realities or consciousness of life forms other than human. Can we truly say that a lizard has a concept about liberty or happiness? Can we say that an amoeba or bacteria feels freedom or the lack of it.

It follows that to understand truth beyond our biologically constituted realities … to be able to get an idea of what reality might be for entities and life in general and not just humans, we would need to stand inside a paradigm of understanding that would apply to all species—both known and unknown. We would need to take a stance on the foundation of a trans-species perspective—that is, what is true for all species, not just humans. This is what science says it is attempting to do, but it actually does not. Because we have found out that sciences can only look in areas that we as humans ahead of time have an idea that something might be. In other words, science is an extension of our senses. So to do more, we have to expand our imagination to include what might be the perspectives of other species … other planetmates. This is what we our doing with our planetmate consciousness … our Planetmate Views. It is what The Great Reveal is all about.

But, you say, how can we do that? How can we know the way another being or life form, other than human, might view Reality? We can’t. But the point is we are more likely to come up with something truer than what we already know when we at least try to do that. And trying to do that means starting with dropping the presupposition, the arrogance, that humans have a superior and more real understanding of Reality. And when we do that, simply that alone, we already find we have a much expanded understanding of what is really Real. For even what we are able to know about other species shows us some of the ways they see things differently than us. So simply by not assuming we are the pinnacle of creation and acknowledging that, for example, a dog really does have more accurate smelling ability and an eagle a greater ability to see, and imagining what that would mean for us or keeping that in mind, we come to an appreciation of ourselves as a part of Nature, not a ruler of Nature; just as in our understandings of the realities-subjectivities-feelings of other humans led us to know that we are not rulers of other people; just as our understanding of other cultures have led us to know that one culture is not better, superior to, or more dominant over another.

The conclusions from all this understanding is that our sciences are important in establishing facts and reality, but the ones they come up with are only relative to our species, not necessarily to any other species, and not necessarily do they give us a true idea of What Really Is.

You think this is irrelevant to know? Well, to give just one example, think of all our forays into space and our imaginings of other beings from other than this planet. If you take the perspective that I am encouraging here, you will notice how astoundingly naïve are our expectations and how crude the instruments we use to detect other life forms. For they all are built on an expectation of finding beings that are at least somewhat like ourselves. You say, no, our scientists aren’t assuming other beings of high consciousness would look like us. But you should know I mean that in our scientists saying what are the building blocks of life–water, and so on–they are showing a bias about “life” that it is something like what we know. Notice also that even the idea that a “higher” level of consciousness itself has its roots in this idea that a human consciousness is superior to other kinds we know of.

So these assumptions built into our science are laughable in their arrogance. Meanwhile, in understanding how limited and relative is our human perspective, we are able to imagine other possibilities for life and its variations. We begin to approach the perspectives of mystics. We begin to understand how it is not outside the realm of possibility that even what we consider non-life and inanimate to be somehow conscious or a form of consciousness, even if we cannot call it “life”—which is, we see now, itself part of our limited species interpretation.

So, in tossing away our species blinders, we approach a truth far beyond science, though not overturning science. What Is ends up not, as fundamentalists might think, opposed to science, rather inclusive of science … but including so, so much more. And in doing this we see that it is the mystics and the consciousness researchers who are likely to have the most accurate angle on Reality.

Ultimately this means that now that we know that common sense materialism is simply a biological construct of the species human, we can relearn that it is Consciousness that is our only knowable Reality, but also that it is Infinite, yes, but Fantastic as well.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” Albert Einstein

“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.” Albert Einstein (1945)

It is the so called “anomalies” of science that hold the keys to the reality that lies beyond science. Looking at them we see a pattern upon which to stand in bringing together the different viewpoints or paradigms that are not reconcilable otherwise. These different viewpoints are the different scientific ones and the different cultural ones as well as the different biological ones—that is, the perspectives or views of different species… the different planetmate views.

The anomalies that we have found to have the most potential for aiding us in this venture to a greater paradigm or framework within which to comprehend all these smaller views are those that have come out of consciousness research. This comes from scientific as well as spiritual sources. It is often experientially based, though it is hardly just anecdotal since these reports are replicatable and verifiable and they are often and can easily be collected and collated scientifically.

These scientific approaches to what were once in the realm of just the spiritual or religious are going on more now than ever before in the history of the world. Whether from fields of the new physics, the new biology, or the consciousness branches of psychology and anthropology, they are uncovering more new formerly inexplicable data of events that have heretofore been beyond the views of our sciences and beyond our common sense materialism—our world of “brute facts,” which we have found are not incontestable at all but are only solidly true in relation to the fact that we are of the species of humans.

We have found that these new facts are not as biologically irrelevant as was assumed by us, however. In fact, the survival of our species and indeed of the life on our planet probably depend upon us incorporating this information into a newer and more comprehensive understanding of reality. Fortunately the construction of this new framework is being carried out. And it and its implications are astounding, revelatory, and revolutionary in all respects imaginable. This new revolutionary model is unveiled in more detail in this article.

The crises of our time, it becomes increasingly clear, are the necessary impetus for the revolution now under way. And once we understand nature’s transformative powers, we see that it is our powerful ally, not a force to feared our subdued. —Thomas Kuhn

The political and social revolutions, which we are seeing erupt around the world from Arab Springs to American Autumns and in global Occupy movements, have been going on more quietly and for a longer time in our sciences. Indeed, it may be said that to some extent this scientific Awakening preceded and precipitated the social one.

Still—although our very survival depends on a paradigm change, or shift—it is being resisted mightily by our communities of scientific researchers. This Scientific Awakening is as much a threat to the corporate hegemony over modern culture as is the social and political Awakenings. There has been as much a battle in science over the last fifty years—a scientific culture war, if you will—as there has been the one in our societies around the world … and for the same reasons. Paradigm shift threatens the status quo; it is seen to have the potential to upset the traditional and engrained financial structures and the social stratification built upon them. That is, this scientific culture war is also class war in disguise.

But scientists and intellectuals are as much a product of an old paradigm even when they propose to not be. So often they miscategorize new developments in their fields within old outdated dualistic frames. In particular they see the findings of consciousness research and misconstrue it as being within the old science-religion debates and struggles. So they are as unable to see old paradigm influences on themselves and are as clueless in moving beyond them as are their counterparts in the social and political arenas, where not just old paradigm right wing folks are blind to the messages of the Awakening but even many traditional liberals are unable to see past their traditional ways of categorizing to understand the message and import of the new paradigm social and political movements of Occupy and Arab Spring. So they misunderstand the Occupy movement’s multi-messages and calls for complete re-visioning as being no message. And they misconstrue the new paradigm uprisings for freedom and justice throughout the world and especially in the Arab world in the tired old terminologies of economics and imperialism. They misconstrue heartfelt aspirations for a global coming together and unity of humanity in old paradigm New World Order terms. They misunderstand new paradigm seekings for consciousness change and revolution using old-paradigm, medieval even, illuminati concepts.

This is a call for sciences to allow themselves to let go of old ways and embrace new visions. In the past, it has taken centuries, at times, for these paradigm shifts to happen. Societies have had to wait, and entire generations have needed to die off before people could enjoy the freedom of being released from old bindings of thought and could realize the benefits of new revelations. We do not have that kind of time right now. This new paradigm, gestating within the scientific community for fifty or so years previous, erupted into the global consciousness fifty years ago with the social and cultural revolutions of the Sixties. They have done battle within scientific communities as well as in the society at large, and in the same way have been beaten back to the peripheries by the overwhelming power of the entrenched interests.

But entire generations have left the scene by now. New generations seeded with the new paradigm visions rained upon them by elder veterans of the culture war and enjoying fruits of wisdom plucked from an ongoing though less visible counterculture born in those times have arisen. So, the time is ripe.

The change is necessary. We can no longer afford to hesitate. The time for the Scientific Awakening is now.

It is, I think, particularly in periods of acknowledged crisis that scientists have turned to philosophical analysis as a device for unlocking the riddles of their field. Scientists have not generally needed or wanted to be philosophers. —Thomas Kuhn

The historian of science may be tempted to claim that when paradigms change, the world itself changes with them. Led by a new paradigm, scientists adopt new instruments and look in new places. even more important, during revolutions, scientists see new and different things when looking with familiar instruments in places they have looked before. It is rather as if the professional community had been suddenly transported to another planet where familiar objects are seen in a different light and are joined by unfamiliar ones as well. —Thomas Kuhn

‘Normal’ science, in Kuhn’s sense, exists. It is the activity of the non-revolutionary, or more precisely, the not-too-critical professional: of the science student who accepts the ruling dogma of the day… in my view the ‘normal’ scientist, as Kuhn describes him, is a person one ought to be sorry for… He has been taught in a dogmatic spirit: he is a victim of indoctrination… I can only say that I see a very great danger in it and in the possibility of its becoming normal… a danger to science and, indeed, to our civilization. And this shows why I regard Kuhn’s emphasis on the existence of this kind of science as so important. — Karl Raimund Popper

Well-established theories collapse under the weight of new facts and observations which cannot be explained, and then accumulate to the point where the once useful theory is clearly obsolete.
[Using Thomas S. Kuhn’s theories to frame his argument about the relationship between science and technology: as new facts continue to accumulate, a new, more accurate paradigm must replace the old one.] — Al Gore

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We Are What We’ve Experienced and The Perinatal Paradigm: Our Conception, Gestation, and Birth Create Our Windows to the World


Biologically Constituted Realities, Part Three: Going Beyond Jung … Our Prenatal and Perinatal Experiences Predispose the Nature of Our Mind

You cannot convince a fish it lives in water. You can only give the fish the experience of being in air; then it will understand.

“Our conception, gestation, and birth can be seen to form our underlying myths . . . but much more than that as well; they also create the very foundational templates upon which we build our view of reality—physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and philosophical.”

Our Perinatal Paradigm

Carl Jung is one man in particular who decades ago, in many thoroughly encompassing works, expressed similar concepts  regarding biocultural patterns as being species-specific for humans—the hereditary remnants of what are called instinct in animals, as he put it.

Beyond Jung

Without diminishing the historical importance of his contributions, I need to stress that what I am asserting goes much further than Jung’s contentions. For I believe we biologically determine our view of reality, as a species, (1) in the biological structures that comprise us and orient us in a world of space; (2) in the biochemical processes that constitute our changingness and situate us in a world of time; (3) and, most saliently, in the individual biological history that is universal for us and unique to us as a species.

By this last I mean that our conception, gestation, and birth can be seen to form our underlying myths . . . but much more than that as well; they also create the very foundational templates upon which we build our view of reality—physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and philosophical.

Our Biohistorical Experiences Determine Our World

Our Early Events Predispose the Nature of Our Mind

Elsewhere I have detailed how our universal but species-specific patterns of biological experience at conception, and throughout gestation, and at birth (and continuing from there but with immensely reduced or nonexistent universality) conditions and shapes all later experience (Adzema, 1981, 1984, 1985). [Footnote 1]

Those early, universal events predispose the very nature of our mind; both in determining the kinds of thoughts and images we will have as well as in modeling their patterns and the connections, associations, and networks among them.

Our Early Events Shape Our Social, Cultural, and Physical Worlds, Which We Create With Our Minds

Those biohistorical events consequently end up configuring our sociocultural structures, which we conceive and modify with less deeply-rooted thoughts and images emanating from idiosyncratic later events. Likewise, these foundational events shape and inform the myths by which we live, the motives that inspire us, the feelings and emotions that move us, and the attitudes that are our thickly matted screens across our windows to the world, and much else. Indeed, in my conceptualization, these biohistorical experiences delineate the very paradigms within which we live; therefore, there is very little of experiential reality that is not in some way linked, modeled, or bounded by the effects of these events. [Footnote 2]

It follows that within our societies and “cultures,” themselves modeled inside these parametric, experientially based outlines, we are also influenced concerning the very things we write about, investigate, study, and then discuss . . . and the manner in which we do so.

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Footnotes

1. baker_conceptioniconMy contentions (Adzema, 1981, 1984) are that these particular (i.e., these early, these pre- and perinatal) experience/memory templates are especially related to the following:

(1) fundamental constructions in our worldview

—e.g., sperm/egg leading to perception of duality in the universe

(2) attitudes towards life

—e.g., struggle of sperm alternating with “slothful” egg being the basis of the universally proclaimed alternating or cyclic character of personal or spiritual growth; also the predominating work/play dichotomy

—also, the fertilized egg experience: survival/achievement bought at cost of hundreds of millions of others dead leading to primordial guilt as well as prevalent attitude that accomplishment never brings expected rewards; disillusionment

also, zygote must continue working, must reproduce itself, must move and implant itself . . . each time or die, leading to attitude that there is no end to struggle, growth, achievement; nonsatisfaction (Buddhist dukkha) felt as a fundamental fact of physical existence.

(3) our concepts-feelings about the transpersonal—i.e., the religious or spiritual

—e.g., embryo and fetus grow at an incredible pace with enormous number of biological systems perfectly synchronized leading to feelings that there is meaning in all one’s actions—if in tune with the divine; also, perfect synchronicity of external and internal events in one’s world if so attuned

—also, fetus nurtured, protected, all needs met—especially through umbilical cord at navel—leading to the feeling that (1) spiritual state is one of perfect harmony, being protected, and the divine providing for all one’s needs; (2) ideas of navel as being “source” of spiritual energy or the place of connection of soul to body; (3) and, finally, leading to the

flow-in <——> flow-out feelings of proper relationship of person to society, the divine, nature, and experience.

2. There are other things, however, that are crucial in the creation of our biological worldview. These include, of course, anatomical, biochemical, and other biological shapers and formers of our reality as we generally perceive it as a species, which have to be seen as even more fundamental—representing more pervasive yet subtler determiners and modelers of all above them. Then there are the other universal determiners and/or directors of experience that fall under the rubric of transpersonal . But there is a completely different “board” for that “game” than the one on which we are working. Specifically, it amounts to “bumping” the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm that I am working off of in making this argument about biologically constituted realities and adopting instead the holonomic perspective that I discuss further on.

 

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We Can’t Know What We Can’t Know but We Cannot Unknow What We Are: Our Reality Is Species Determined and the Relativity of Science

Biologically Constituted Realities, Part Two: Our Reality Is Species Determined: Relativity of Science

Summary: What I’m saying in this part is that basically our sciences have shown they can not determine what is real,558008_447511325288521_2045342229_n let alone measure it, because they are extensions of our senses which are themselves imperfect. So we cannot really know what is real. Further, we find that just as culture creates our reality for us, that prior to that our biology creates the reality upon which culture can build. This means that we are able to understand what is human reality at least, though not ultimate reality, by looking at the only reality that all humans share—our biological one.

We will see shortly that means that the way we come into the world—our conception, womb life, and birth—create the foundations upon which all are other perceptions are built, and these being unique to humans mean that humans will be the only species seeing the world exactly the way we do.

bwv01aFurther, while focusing on our biology as a basis for understanding what is fundamental about humanness, we are able to compare cultures in relation to that biology, though not in any other way. What we will see this means is that while we cannot compare cultures for the most part—this is called cultural relativity—we can compare them in terms of certain things all cultures share which have to do with the fact that all humans have the same kind of body and biological history: an example of that would be the way cultures deal with birth, specifically the pain of it.

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“Ultimately our physics . . . is going to demonstrate that essentially there is no such thing as matter. All there is is mind and motion.” – Armand Labbe

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Relativity of Science

381068_2409354290062_410697896_nBut what of our science, one might ask, which can reputedly extend the range of our senses? Does it not provide accurate-enough “feedback” or “alternative”-enough perspectives to allow us a glimpse of what is , for truth, really real? Let us just look at what modern science tells us about the observations it makes on the world.

According to Zukav (1979), author of a widely read overview of the new physics, a major underpinning of modern physics is the realization and discovery that science cannot predict anything, as had been taken for granted, with absolute certainty. Relatedly, it informs us that there is simply no way to separate the observed event from the observer. That is to say that the observer is, her- or himself, an inexcludable variable and always affects the results of an experiment.313530_447511135288540_994262983_n In a very fundamental way, the perceiver influences what is seen in even the most “scientifically” pure observations and experiments: “The new physics . . . tells us clearly that it is not possible to observe reality without changing it” (Zukav, 1979, p. 30).

Zukav (1979) takes, as an example, that a condition is set up to perceive an event: If it is designed to find waves in light, it discovers waves; if it is designed to find particles, we get particles—in supposedly the same “outside world” . . . and regardless of the fact that logically light cannot be both a particle and a wave (pp. 30-31). That is the classic example, of course. The structure of the experiment, designed by the observer, determines what will be found.

What is this saying if not just what I have stated above: that we determine ultimately, because of our specific biology, what we sense; that we therein determine the “world” we experience.

In line with Anscombe’s (1958) terminology of “brute facts,” Searle (1969) claims a distinction between “brute facts” and “institutional facts.” D’Andrade (1984) explains,

Not all social-science variables refer to culturally created things; some variables refer to objects and events that exist prior to, and independent of, their definition: for example, a person’s age, the number of calories consumed during a meal, the number of chairs in a room, or the pain someone felt. (p. 92).

528519_447511581955162_2026388883_nFrom what I have been saying, we can admit that these “brute facts” may not be culturally constituted as D’Andrade asserts, but they certainly are biologically constituted. They are species-specific facts—”brute” only in relation to our particular species.

Thus, the new-paradigm answer to the age-old philosophical question is clear: If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Absolutely not. Sound is as much species-relative as the practice of polygamy is culturally relative. In other words, there are species for which sound does not exist. Similarly, the event that 578797_2214324854448_756151266_nwe perceive as sound-tree-and-forest-interacting may be “perceived” as something quite different with different and/or more kinds of “senses” or, one might say, from a different vantage point.

Removing our anthropocentric blinders in this way we must conclude that the world, as experienced, is created of realities that are not only culturally constituted; there are also biologically constituted realities. The “brute facts” to which D’Andrade refers are—nothing brute about them—biologically determined facts. Indeed, there are biologically determined facts, bioculturally determined facts, and culturally determined facts—all existing on a continuum.

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So do we then, indeed, create our own reality culturally, of which Sahlins (1976) writes. Yes, I believe we do. But I believe we do much more than that. I believe we create it biologically too—that our reality is species determined.

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Relativity: Cultural and Biological

So what does this say about cultural relativity, of which so much is made in anthropological circles? 255366_2258372155603_1546714044_nI agree with Sahlins’s position on the total and symbolic nature of culture and the resulting extreme cultural relativism. As D’Andrade (1987) put it, Sahlins’s view is extreme enough that it undermines even science’s claim to validity (p. 5). But I do not imply by my agreement that I believe reality is only culturally determined by any definitional stretch of the term cultural that Sahlins, even from his “total heritage” perspective, could have had in mind. I intend to go further.

10-emergence-440_thumbHow so, then, could I claim, at the outset, that I believe both positions can be true? How can reality be so thoroughly “created” (not only culturally but biologically as well) and yet there be universal commonalities on which to base analyses and cross-cultural understanding? Where I disagree with Sahlins and emphatically agree with D’Andrade is where D’Andrade (1987), in referring to a quote from Sahlins, writes

I think I agree if . . . [he] . . . means that people respond to their interpretations of events, not the raw events themselves. 1However, if this means that culture can interpret any event any way, and that therefore there is no possibility of establishing universal generalizations, I disagree. I believe that there are strong constraints on how much interpretative latitude can be given to biological and social events. While the letters “D,” “O,” “G,” can be given any interpretation, pain, death , and hunger have such powerful intrinsic negative properties that they can be interpreted as “good” things only with great effort and for short historical periods with many failed converts. ( emphases mine, p. 6)

two_thousand_ten_ver1-2010crpd_thumbWith this statement of D’Andrade, I enthusiastically agree also. I believe that there are “intrinsic” (biological) determiners of cultures, which create a basic underlying structure. Where I feel I take issue with D’Andrade is in contending that these “intrinsic” determiners are intrinsic to the species, not to the events themselves. This is as important to point out as it is important in physics to keep in mind that particles and waves only exist in relation to an observer. 224754_3983661984328_1661313711_nIn this regard, as Armand Labbe (1991) put it at a Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness conference, “Ultimately our physics . . . is going to demonstrate that essentially there is no such thing as matter. All there is is mind and motion.” At any rate, I contend that this biological “infrastructure” results in biocultural, species-specific, and hence transcultural patterns of thought and behavior. Further, these transcultural patterns create transcultural patterns of social structure, “external culture,” sociocultural behavior, and so on.

Continue with We Are What We’ve Experienced and The Perinatal Paradigm: Our Conception, Gestation, and Birth Create Our Windows to the World

Return to Biologically Constituted Realities, Part One — Creating Worlds: Our Science, Too, Is Built on a Judeo-Christian Assumption of Humans Being “God’s Chosen Species.”

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