Archives for posts with tag: Maturana

We learn about what we call reality by
analyzing the information we acquire through our senses.

We.
We, the human people.
We, the conscious human people.
We, because nobody has ever been able to become conscious – as in aware of their own self, by their own. Alone…

Learn.
We are not the only ones who are able to learn.
Our dogs learn our ways. And we continuously learn about more and more living organisms being able to learn. And to remember what they have learned. To fine tune their behavior according to the circumstances into which they happen to live.

What we call reality.
First and fore-most, reality is a concept. We call it ‘reality’. And many other names…
Believers call it ‘god’, scientists call it ‘physical world’ and the scientists who happen to believe are convinced that by studying the reality they will eventually divine the will of the Lord.
The believers being convinced that whatever exists, is here because the Lord wished it into existence.
So, basically, the main difference between the believers and the nonbelievers is the fact that the believers are convinced that the ‘out-there’, the ‘source of it all’, has a conscience of it’s own. A will of it’s own…

By analyzing.
We have been able to build our conscience – our ability to ‘observe ourselves while observing other phenomena’ (Maturana, 2005), because we have a big enough brain, the ability to share complex and meaningful information using language and the ability to put in practice some of our wishes/thoughts through the use of our hands.
At a certain point in its evolution, human conscience has become sophisticated enough to need explanations. It was no longer satisfied with mere ‘connections’ – If… then…, it had started to wonder about why-s. ‘Why does this happen as it does?’ ‘Will it happen again tomorrow?’
Using our by then already established ability to speak up their minds, our ancestors shared among themselves these ‘anxieties’. Discussed them around the fire-place. Started to analyze. The reality. What they perceived to be real. The ‘thing’ which continuously generates the circumstances in which we – all of us, have to make do.

Information.
In order to analyze, the analyst – each and everyone of us, has to separate the meaningful information from the surrounding noise. In order to do that, we have started by coining the very concept of (useful/meaningful) information. As being different from ‘noise’. The difference consisting, obviously, in us being able to find its use and/or pinpoint its meaning.

We acquire.
Information is acquired on an individual basis. For an ‘event’ to become information, it has to be ‘noticed’ by an individual. It has not only to be sensed but also identified as useful/meaningful. Different from ‘noise’.
Which process of identification implying methods which had been agreed upon by the members of the community. Music would be a good example of how various groups of people make the difference between sublime/abhorrent and white-noise. While ‘use of language’ is a very poignant example of how people can both share information and mislead one-another.

Senses.
Everything that we know, had entered our mind through our senses.
Before setting it aside as information or discard it as noise, we have to get in contact with it as a sensation.
Or as a thought. A conjecture. A few pieces of information which put together have given birth, inside our individual mind, to new information. To ‘something else’ which passes the threshold into being information. At least according to our own mind…

Which transforms our minds into our famous sixth sense.
In the sense that our individual minds are capable of building ‘sensations’ on their own. Starting from information that has already been stashed in our memory.
Which brings us to the third reality.

We have – in the sense that we have agreed upon its existence, the surrounding reality. The things we – as in most of us, consider to be real. The mountains we climb, the air we breathe, the pebbles which happen to sneak into our shoes. The reality which is being studied by science. The reality to which we have access through our senses. Our minds and our sense enhancers – scientific instruments, included.

We also have the ‘out-there’. The things we know we’ll never be able to grasp. During our lives! The things our followers might be able to figure out…

And each of us has their own reality.
Individually built even if ‘carved’ from the same (type of) material as the reality shared by the rest of us.
Individually built even if using more or less the same (culturally accrued) methods.
Individually built even if neither of us is alone.

H.M. Romesin, 2005, The origin and conservation of self‐consciousness: Reflections on four questions by Heinz von Foerster

A planned after-thought.
Rumsfeld is both wrong and right. There are unknown unknowns but they are no longer unknown since we speak about them…
Which actually proofs the limits of our languaging.
The imprecision of the manner in which we gather, share and analyze information.

We know that smoking is bad for us yet we continue to smoke.

Because too many of us are convinced that each of us, in particular, will be fine.
That things are not that bad. Well, maybe for those who had bad luck. Or something…

You see, I’ve reached the conclusion that an individual’s conscience is more preoccupied with it’s own survival than with the ‘well being’ of it’s “host”. The conscience itself comes first, in its own ‘eyes’.

“What?!?”

Do you have a better explanation for why so many of us continue to smoke? To do drugs? To drink/eat too much? To… – feel free to fill in your favorite aberration! Your own method of self-destruction.

Please don’t quote any study about how powerful addictions are. For each of those there are many studies proving how powerful our minds are when they become determined enough.

How fast things happen after our knowledge about something becomes a belief. A belief in something…

Let me put it the other way around.

Did you get the anti-Covid jab? Why?
You haven’t made up your mind yet? Because you are not yet convinced?
You’re not going to? No matter what? Because you don’t believe in vaccines?

See what I mean?

The world is awash in information. All of us are exposed to more or less the same knowledge.
All of us know that a considerable number of people – the vast majority, actually, are convinced about the roundness of the Earth. Yet there still is a very vocal group of Flat-Earthers. Of people acting as if they actually believe that the Earth is Flat.
All of us have been told that smoking can cause cancer. And other diseases. Yet some of us continue to act as if they actually believe that nothing of that sort might happen to them.

Mind you, there is nothing inherently bad in this! On the contrary.
If people would have believed everything they had ever been told… at one time… the Earth would have remained flat, all witches would have been burned – or drowned, all ‘Jews’ would have been killed – many centuries ago…

The point of this post is to underscore the importance of self.
The huge responsibility placed upon our individual shoulders by the fact that we are the ones called to choose what to believe.

Yes, we are indeed inundated with ‘data’. From the day we are born to the day when our conscience goes dark.
Yes, some minds are sharper than others. Some of us are better at spinning thoughts than the rest of us. Some of us are indeed better at making sense of the information which happens to cross their paths.
And some of us are better at influencing others. At shining ‘light’ on ‘things’ in a manner which makes the message they want to convey more palatable for their intended targets.

Yet all this ‘trivia’ doesn’t change the reality.
We are the ones who make decisions. We are the ones who choose what to believe. We are the ones who shape our fate.

By choosing our faith!
By convincing ourselves that some things are worth doing and that some should be left undone.

https://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/pub/hvf/papers/maturana05selfconsciousness.html

LE
If this is of any help, for any of you, I still smoke a few cigarettes each week.
And continue to drink. Alcohol.
I’m not perfect either!

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Your contribution will be appreciated!

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
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Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
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‘Survival instinct’ compels us to eat, avoid being eaten and fornicate.

To keep us on the straight and narrow, Mother Nature has invented the ‘stick and carrot principle’.

Forget to eat – or eat something ‘unbecoming’, to you or to your species, you’ll soon be in pain.
After a nice meal, you’ll feel good.

Somebody else takes a bite of you? From a tiger to a mosquito? You’ll be in pain.
Slap the mosquito, con the tiger into a trap or, the creme de la creme, gain the upper hand in a bare knuckles encounter and you’ll certainly feel good.

Orgasm? Does it ring a bell? OK.

‘Stick and carrot’ worked fine.
After all, it has been the engine of evolution.
Demise of the unfit’ made it so that only those who were able to survive in a certain environment passed their ‘comme il faut’ to the next generations.

Until consciousness came around, that is.
Consciousness as we understand it…. long discussion. Soon.

“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil”

And what did we do with all this knowledge?

Transformed our need to eat into gluttony? Because ‘it tastes so good that I can’t stop eating it’?
Transformed our need for safety into the habit of exploiting others? From harnessing beasts to our plows to using child labor to mine the coal used during the Industrial Revolution? Simply because we could? Some of us, anyway…
Demeaned love making to prostitution? Because orgasm, like money, is fungible? Feels the same, no matter how it was obtained?

Why?
What drove us to reach such horrible pinnacles?
What made us steer in this direction after we’ve developed the ability to ‘observe ourselves observing‘?!?

What’s going on here?

“God Arraigns Adam and Eve

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The Punishment of Mankind

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.”

Let me rephrase what you’ve just read.

God, the father, learns that his creation – the man he had created in his own image, has become “one of us”.
When Adam hides his nakedness from his creator, God understands man has become aware.

Was he proud? Like most parents are when their children ‘grow up’?

OK, let’s forget about God for a minute. Let’s see what our forefather, Adam, had done when confronted with the consequences of his acts.
Does he own up? Behaves like a man? Or blames his woman?
What about Eve? Is she the real man in the house? or passes the blame along the food chain?
Good thing the serpent wasn’t asked to explain himself…

How about God? The omnipotent and omniscient God… does he own up? Omniscient as he was, he must have been fully aware of what was going to happen in the given circumstances… After all, who doesn’t know what will happen if you point something out to a ‘child’ and then tell them that something is off limits…
God – the one we wrote about in the Bible, solved the situation by blaming all involved. The serpent for doing what he was supposed to do, Eve for choosing to listen to the serpent and Adam for trusting his woman. Then, to avoid things becoming even worse, he banished Adam and Eve from Paradise.

and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

‘Is there a meaning to all this?’

Yep!
All three, God, Adam and Eve – as described by those who had written the Bible, do whatever they can to protect their conscience.
Each of them had made decisions, which had proven to be… well, detrimental to their own well being, and now they need to go on. To survive their own decisions!

In this type of situation, the grown-ups take stock, maturely, then take responsibility for their acts. As the first step of the long march out of the dangerous situation into each they had led themselves. By making bad – or inappropriate, choices.

But this is possible only after the individuals have conquered fear.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Frank Herbert, Dune

Fear cannot be conquered alone.
That was the Bible written for. As a walking stock.
And it served us right. By stating that ‘man had been created in the image of God’ it tells us that we are equal. And each of us is endowed with a divine spark. Hence worthy of respect!

But as any other walking stock, the Bible can take us only this far. From now on we must walk on our own.
We must assume our individual – read ‘limited’, nature, shed our fears and find our own ways.
Bearing in mind, of course, that only those who fit are meant to survive.

Our go round in circles, knocking at gates which have never been open. Or going to.

What Evolution Is, Ernst Mayr, https://www.amazon.com/What-Evolution-Science-Masters-Ernst-ebook/dp/B008724J1E
Children working in coal mines, BBC, https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/clips/z73b4wx
The origin and conservation of self-consciousness, Humberto Maturana, https://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/pub/hvf/papers/maturana05selfconsciousness.html
King James Bible, https://biblehub.com/kjv/genesis/3.htm
Dune, Frank Herbert, https://www.amazon.com/Dune-Frank-Herbert/dp/0441172717

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As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
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Your contribution will be appreciated!

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
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If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
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Weapons are nothing but repurposed tools. Sometimes ‘enhanced’ to fit the new goal.

Clubs had started as fruit harvesting utensils, then used for hunting purposes and eventually for bashing in the heads of those who had slept with the missus when the wielders weren’t looking. And so on…

As a tool, an implement is used to ‘put things together’. As a weapon, the same (kind of) implement is used to ‘set things apart’. An axe can be used to split wood in order to build a fire or to ‘split’ furniture during a fit of rage.
Generally speaking, a tool is used towards the ultimate goal of adding to/fine tuning a structure while a weapon is used to destroy/disable something which is meant to remain so.

Our ability to communicate was ‘the’ tool which actually transformed us into what we are today. Humans.
At least according to Humberto Maturana. His theory maintains that we’ve become self-aware social individuals through what he calls languaging.
In a nut-shell, he says that we’ve become humans – self conscious apes, by continuously expressing our thoughts towards the other members of the community. Hence simultaneously building an ‘agora’ and ‘walling in’ individual private spaces.

Yet the same ability to communicate can be used also as a weapon.
Instead of being used by individuals to mutually groom themselves, and ultimately adding to the overall resilience of the community, ‘weaponized’ communication is used to ‘downgrade’ susceptible individuals.
To lower the ability of certain individuals to contribute to the community to which they belong, to lower the ability of entire communities to hold together… or both at the same time.

History suggests that, in the longer run, democracy – as a manner of decision making, increases the survivability of the communities which use it. Simply by pooling the decision making resources of the entire community instead of relying on the mental prowess – and good will, of a single authoritarian leader.
Only for democracy to be fully functional, the individual members of the community have to be able to share, in earnest, their thoughts.
This is why Freedom of Speech has been enshrined in the First Amendment.
That’s why whenever the public discourse becomes increasingly dominated by ‘fake-news’ things start to go south.

That is why whenever people allow themselves to be split into warring parties – with no real communication between the sides except for the misinformation hurled across the divide, both sides eventually end up wondering at the destruction they had allowed the ‘communication warriors’ to inflict upon them.

Albert Einstein, a physicist, had noticed that observations are relative to the “frame of reference” where the observer happens to make his observations.

Humberto Maturana, a biologist, has reached the conclusion that consciousness – or ‘self awareness’, as he prefers to call it, is a personal trait which is developed by individuals living in concert.

Blending Einstein’s and Maturana’s ideas, it is easy to ‘see’ that observations made by human individuals depend, simultaneously, on two referential systems. Or frames of reference, in Einstein’s terms.

On the actual, ‘geographic’, ‘place’ where the individual makes their observations.
And on the ‘cultural place’ where the conscience – inner referential system, of the observing individual had been ‘shaped’.

Otherwise put, nobody can see things which are not there. Nor ‘see’ – a.k.a. understand, things which are too ‘distant’ from what that person already ‘knows’. Accepts as being ‘normal’. Feels like being ‘right’.

To make things just a tad ‘clearer’ – ‘nature versus nurture’, we must consider the vagaries of individual ‘biology’. Some people see/hear/smell/feel differently than others. And even ‘think’ differently.

And my point is?

Maturana made it before me. The ‘other’ – the more different, the better, is a source of richness. IF we treat each-other the right way. If we help each-other by ‘concerting’ our observations about what we have in common.
The ‘place’ we observe. Einstein’s referential frame. Where we ‘happen to stand’. Together.

And there’s something else I’d like you to read.

“J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues”
https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues

Messages which are knowingly incomplete, false or both at the same time.

Why?

Because they have no alternative, want to achieve something or need to survive.

As soon as a person achieves a certain level of self-awareness – read consciousness, they realize that no ‘communication event’ will ever be complete. That nobody will ever be able to communicate everything they know, about the most insignificant subject, to anybody else.

Then what? Stop talking?
Or assume personal responsibility for everything that leaves your lips?

As soon as a person achieves a certain level of self-awareness, they realize there’s more in life than mere survival.
As soon as their consciences bloom – in concert with the accrued influence exercised by the ‘environment’, individuals set goals for themselves. Which goals become integral part of the ‘ongoing project’. Of the self-actualizing conscience. Achieving, or failing, each of those goals leaves an indelible mark on the conscience itself. On the manner in which each individual relates to their environment.
Since achieving is far more ‘satisfying’ than failing, conscience is naturally biased towards ‘achieving’. If the ‘environment’ ‘allows’ it, the bias becomes more and more ‘slanted’.
The messages used by the individuals – by their conscience, to be more precise, will increasingly serve the purpose of achieving goals rather than the purpose of ‘honest communication’.

As soon as a person achieves a certain level of self-awareness, that conscience wants to survive.
Mind you, not the person but the conscience.

‘?!?
Conscience cannot exist without the mind/body which supports it….’

OK, tell that to people who believe their souls are going places after their mortal bodies expire. Then try to demonstrate to yourself, honestly, that those people are wrong. That there’s no chance for their belief to be ‘true’.

But metaphysics are hard.
Let me give you a far lighter example.
Smoking. Or drinking. Driving fast. Eating that extra piece of chocolate…
Don’t tell me you never did anything ‘foolish’. That you never lied to yourself: ‘This cannot happen to me. Chances are so small that … Only this time….’

‘But otherwise nobody would ever be able to ‘leave their houses’. We’d be all completely paralyzed with fear…’

Yeap! That’s exactly what I mean. Conscience needs to lie to herself in order to remain functional. Otherwise she would not allow the physical body who sustains her to assume any risk.
They would both suffocate.

A symbol is a very powerful thing. Because it can ‘hide’ a lot of meaning. As much meaning as we can store/recognize inside it.

And the stronger the symbol, the more we can hide/store/recognize behind it.

“Why do you insist the universe is not a conscious intelligence, when it gives birth to conscious intelligences?”

This quote is attributed by Robert Lanza to Cicero. A Roman who used to think, and write, some 2000 years ago.
I have no idea who Robert Lanza is yet I’m sure most of you have already heard about Cicero.
But we now have Internet. And Google search…

Going back to Cicero’s Universe, I, for one, have never said the universe wasn’t conscious. For all I know, it may very well be.
But I’m sure it isn’t fully conscious. As God is supposed to be. Omniscient and Omnipotent.
Precisely because of the kind of ‘conscious intelligences’ it has given birth to.
Or is being born by?

Let’s assume the Universe is conscious. As in aware of its own awareness – the only kind of consciousness we’re aware of.

As far as we know – ‘know’ as opposed to ‘presume’, consciousness cannot ‘arise’ on its own. Each of our individual consciousnesses have been groomed by those around us. Children who happen to grow up outside ‘normal’ human intercourse never morph into ‘fully’ conscious human beings.
Hence Cicero’s Universe might have become conscious only along one of the following paths:

As a member of the Multi Verse club.
As an AI designed by some entity residing outside the Universe. This situation being the mother of all Oxymorons…
As a meta-consciousness. A web of individual consciousnesses who had evolved/coalesced into a wider, and ‘deeper’, range of awareness. Still limited, of course, but of a somehow different nature than that of the individual awarenesses composing it.

Which brings us back to the symbol I started with.
The Universe digesting itself repeatedly as a continuous attempt to reach its own essence.
Humankind reconsidering recurrent ideas until they actually make sense…

‘Hey, you forgot about two of your own hypotheses … the first and the second…!’

Thanks for the observation.
They slipped off my mind because both are particular cases of the third.
A Multi Verse is nothing but a bigger Universe.
And a combination between an Universe and an Outside Agent is nothing but a Duo Verse. A ‘smaller’ Multi Verse.

Tada!

Universal Grammar (UG) is intended to specify the most general principles of human language. It must provide an explanation for the extraordinary fact that a Japanese child raised in Paris will acquire French, but not Japanese, and a French child raised in Tokyo, Japanese, but not French. Either child may acquire both French and Japanese, of course, but neither will fail to acquire French or Japanese. Linguists and philosophers may have known this in antiquity; they did not say so with any great conviction, and they may not have said so at all. It was left to Chomsky to remark with the full force of his genius that every human language can be acquired by any human being. Universal Grammar, Chomsky concluded, must be a species-specific characteristic of the human race, biologically encoded, genetically transmitted.

The quote comes right out of an article written by David Berlinski and Juan Uriagereka. Never heard of any of them.

Reading that article, I remembered the reason for which I tend to avoid modern philosophers. Or linguists. Hard to discern which is which, anyway…

Let me return to the quote itself.
“An explanation for the extraordinary fact that a Japanese child raised in Paris will acquire French, but not Japanese, and a French child raised in Tokyo, Japanese”.
Read this to anybody who isn’t familiar with the notion of ‘Chomsky’. You’ll get a laugh and a troubled look. ‘What’s so extraordinary here?!? People will always learn whatever language is spoken around them… but only if they come in contact with the ‘exterior’ world!’

Home-school those Japanese/French children in Paris/Tokyo while preventing them from getting in touch with anybody else but their immediate family/trainers and they’ll learn only whatever language(s) their trainers/family will have chosen for them.

As an aside, what does Chomsky mean by ‘French’ and or ‘Japanese’?
‘Genetically’ French/Japanese? What if one parent is French/Japanese and the other German/Korean? What will the child be? Like the father or like the mother?
‘Culturally’ Japanese/French? According to their ‘mother’ tongue?!?
Forget it…

“Universal Grammar, Chomsky concluded, must be a species-specific characteristic of the human race, biologically encoded, genetically transmitted”.

‘Species specific characteristic of the human race’… told you these guys have a lot of humor… or, maybe, they cannot make up their minds…
What are we, humans?!? A species or a race?

OK, let me move forward.
Hidden underneath all this ado, there is a piece/gem of ‘harsh’ reality.
The simple fact that if/when we want to, we are able to understand each-other. To communicate with each-other. To exchange ideas. To trade meaning.
And there is indeed something species-specific about this ability of ours. Nobody else has it… according to our present knowledge about the world, anyway.

‘Nobody else has it’… yeah, right… as if you hadn’t watched, time and time again, two dogs ‘greeting’ each-other in the park.
OK, those dogs were interacting in highly unnatural circumstances. Walked by people, in a people infested environment …
Fact is that all animals have ‘procedures’ for interacting with other animals. Belonging to the same species or belonging to other species. Some of the procedures being inbred while others had been acquired trough learning or training.
Cats, for instance, have an inbred ‘procedure’ for chasing anything which might become a prey but need to be taught by their mothers how to finish the chase. How to kill that prey.
And yes, cats do have a species-specific, biologically encoded and genetically transmitted characteristic which allows them to kill and eat their prey. Or to play with the people who take care of them. They kill and eat using their claws and teeth while they play using their brain. OK, the brain also contributes during the chase… don’t be a nit-pick.

Let me summarize.
So cats have a specific set of tools, teeth and claws, which are ‘coordinated’ by a brain which needs to be taught in order to become fully functional.
And the overall ‘functioning’ of any given cat depends simultaneously on how well their organism works AND the quality of the learning they have been able to amass.

Then where’s the difference between humans and cats?
What is so species-specific in our ability to interact with the world?

I’m exaggerating, of course. We are able to understand each-other far deeper than the other great-apes, our cousins. There is something species-specific in all this.
But only in ‘depth’, not in ‘nature’.
We’ve been able to teach chimps to write. And cats to play with strings instead of catching mice. All three of us ‘share’ the more or less same kind of brain and surprisingly similar anatomies.

What really sets us apart is our learned ability to watch ourselves while doing something. To observe ourselves observing, as Maturana puts it.
And our ability, learned again, to formulate information in a transmittable form. To ‘build’ highly specific messages using rather ‘fungible’ building blocks and in such a manner that those messages might be transmitted from one individual to another. From one generation to another, even.
To make good use of the Universal Grammar noticed by Chomsky.

Can any of this be construed as species-specific? Of course. Without the huge brain we’ve got – or without the ability to articulate sounds, we most likely wouldn’t have been able to reach this stage of our evolution.
But to reduce everything to mere biology … I’m afraid that would be too simplistic.

Consciousness – or self-awareness, opens up huge evolutionary venues. Powered by our very ability to communicate so intensely. To use ‘Universal Grammar’, even without being aware of its existence.
But since both self-awareness and talking depends upon learning them from/with the others… biology is not enough. Necessary, indeed, but not enough.

Not by a long shot.

I’ve been asked this – who wasn’t?, for so many times that I’ve lost count…
Only the last instance was different.

The context was a lot more serious than usual. We were discussing ideas!
Individual, social, freedom… and we were doing it in English – my ‘second’ language. Hence I was a tad more alert than when chatting away in Romanian.

Have you noticed that in English ‘you’ has three meanings?
A singular ‘you’, a plural ‘you’ and a formal ‘You’ which covers both singular and plural.
In French we have ‘tu’ for singular and ‘vous’/’Vous’ for both plural and formal.
In German ‘du’, ‘inhen’ and ‘Sie’. Only ‘sie’ – starting with small s, as opposed to capital S, means ‘they’…
In Romanian, ‘tu’, ‘voi’ and ‘Dumneavoastra’/’Domniile Voastre’. Literally, ‘Your Lordship’/’Your Lordships’.

I’m not going to delve into Humboldt’s linguistic relativity hypothesis at this point. It would be very interesting but I have something else in my mind.
I’m going to answer the question ‘personally’. Influenced, indeed, by Maturana’s opinion that human consciousness (self awareness) has blossomed at the intersection between our brain power, our ability to communicate verbally with each other and our emotionally driven memory.

So, who am I?
Just one of you…

Neither of us could have existed independently.
None of us could have given birth to themselves… obviously. But also none of us would have been what we are today without having been raised by and educated in our respective communities. By the ‘you’-s to which each of us belong.

On the other hand, none of these communities would have ever existed without the individuals who compose them AND without those individuals being self aware enough to notice their existence. ‘Their existence’ meaning both the existence of the individual personalities which compose the communities and that of the communities themselves.

To simplify matters a little bit, we – as individuals, depend on the well being of the communities to which we belong while we – as communities, depend on the self-awareness of the individuals who animate each of the communities.

If we add the piled up consequences of all the decisions we – as a species, have ever made we end up with ‘culture’ and the present state of the environment which surrounds us – also known as ‘civilization’.
I’ll leave these for another time.

Homo had become sapiens when he had started to learn.
To actively discover information and to discuss the findings with their peers.

This was how our ancestors had developed both consciousness and language.

The next stage was reached when people were no longer satisfied with mere survival. And attempted to glimpse into the future.

” “But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
    or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
    or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
    and the breath of all mankind. ” (Job 12:7-10)

Until that moment, the deal was simple.
People followed the rules – which had already been set in ‘stone’ and passed over from ‘the beginning of time’, and things continued unabated. Hence no need for further inquiry.

From that moment on, everything had changed.
People still had a set of rules to guide them. But they had also been endowed with ‘free will’:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians, 5:13) and
“Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (John, 7:17)

So, there were rules, there was freedom and there was the Will of God – which had to be determined if it was to be followed.
How to determine it? Nothing simpler. ‘Ask the animals and they will teach you.’.
Meaning that the answer of any question our ancestors might have had about the Will of God was accessible to them. And that they had the liberty – the obligation even, to look for that answer. By studying the nature.
Because understanding the nature – which was the incarnation of God’s Will, was considered by our grandfathers to be the key to understanding the Will of God. And, implicitly, a keyhole through which they could glimpse into the future. Their future, of course.

It was a very recent development that more and more people had become convinced that science had killed God. By producing ‘scientific evidence’ for more and more things which used to be considered ‘acts of God’.
Franklin’s lightning rod and Georges Lemaitre’s Big Bang are but two small examples.
Benjamin Franklin was convinced that ‘God governs by his Providence and that the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children‘ while Lemaitre was an ordained Catholic priest. Yet many of our contemporaries construe their endeavors as scientific proofs that there is no such thing as a Creator God.

And what about ‘science’?
What is it, after all?
An attempt to understand God’s Will or a method to prove that God does not exist?

How about science as an attitude?
Which maintains Man can, and should, learn about things. Regardless of the name each of us chooses to call them: ‘Nature’ or ‘the Will of God’.
Which also maintains that Man, in their quest for knowledge, must preserve its modesty. Nature and/or the Will of God might be ‘accessible’ but it would be actually presumptuous, for each and for all of us, to consider that we’ll ever be able to know/explore every nook and cranny of the World.
To learn, and express, all the Truth there is.

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