Archives for posts with tag: Self awareness

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 individual conscience is more preoccupied with it’s own survival than with the ‘well being’ of it’s “host”.

“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!

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 at 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

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‘Exploring what?!?
We don’t know yet how conscience came to be, nor how it works, and you want to explore its limits?
What are you talking about?’

First of all, Humberto Maturana has proposed a very astute explanation about how our conscience has evolved into what it is today. After our brains had happened to ‘accrue’ enough computing power, our ability to speak among ourselves had created the condition for us to cooperate towards the development of ‘self-awareness’. Towards our learned ability to ‘observe ourselves in the act of observing‘.

‘OK, I can accept that.
But we still don’t know exactly how it works. How the brain ‘exsudes’ consciousness!’

Well… do you know exactly how a computer works? Or how your car transforms fuel into energy and transports you to work and back?
Does your lack of detailed understanding prevent you from using a computer? Or from driving a car?

Does your lack of detailed knowledge about how things work prevent you from understanding – and accepting, the fact that the things you use have limits? That you cannot ‘overstretch’ any of them?

‘?!?… It’s my mind you’re talking about, dude!
What do you want to say? That my ability to understand things and to act as a rational human being is limited?!?’

Yep!
You got it perfectly.
In one go…

If you want to read some more about your limits, please help me to overcome mine:

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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.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

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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.

We need to remain ‘consistent’.
Each of our individual consciences needs to remain in ‘one piece’.
To preserve its self-esteem.

Hence our tendency to rationalize away our mistakes.
Our past decisions which had been proven to be less than optimal.

Hence our tendency to uphold our already ‘adopted’ beliefs.
To discard any new information which contradicts our past conclusions.

The process of ‘selection and discarding’ followed by a robust ‘defensive’ rationalization is almost instinctive. In no way completely conscious.

No one in their right mind can pretend that someone defending their smoking habit is fully aware of what’s going on inside their heads.
That rationalizing away the higher probability of a smoker to develop a cancer is behaving in a fully reasonable manner.

Unfortunately, rationalizing away bad habits is the smallest manifestation of bias.
A more important, and malignant one, is the tendency to impose upon others our own conclusions.
To force others to give up smoking because we’ve reached the conclusion that smoking is bad for us.
To interpret other people smoking – wherever nobody else is affected by the smoke, as a slap in our faces. As an insult to our intelligence.
How does that guy dare to act contrary to what I believe to be proper behavior?

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

Everything which has a temporal dimension – movement, transformation or both, incurs costs and produces consequences.

From a rock sliding down a slope to me writing this.

The difference between these two being the simple fact that no rock has ever had any goal.

You see, the rock looses some energy and mass while sliding down. It accelerates at first but since no rock has ever slidden for ever.
Only rocks never do anything on their own. Something has to happen to them first.
They do bear the costs – they wear down, break, etc., yet they don’t mind. For they are not, at all, aware of what’s going on. And, anyway, completely unable to do anything about it. Hence not at all ‘responsible’ about any of the consequences produced by whatever they had been involved in. Happened to them, actually.

Fast forward to me. I’m not only alive – hence reactive to whatever happens to me, but also aware. Aware of my own awareness even.
I notice the costs I have to pay. Hence I try to minimize them.

And here’s the gist of the matter.
My awareness drives me to minimize the costs I incur during my life AND to be very careful about the consequences of my endeavors.

Theoretically, at least…

There are a lot of people who prod us to ‘think out of the box’.
And a few who dare to warn us about the perils of pushing it too far…

I’m gonna invite you to the next level.
Instead of sending your imagination to think outside the box – while the rest of you remains comfortably inside, let’s step outside ‘in person’.

Classic thinking outside the box does nothing but enlarges the box. Brings inside a portion of the outside. Moves the walls.
Bringing in a lot of additional clutter in the process.

By stepping outside, physically, you have the opportunity to actually see the problem as an ‘independent’ box. Separated from you and separated from the environment.

How about this for a change in perspective?

This way it will be easier for you to notice, and carefully examine, the links which exist between you and the problem. Between ‘the’ problem and the rest of the problems. Between the problems and the environment. The place where you have to cope with the problems.

The place where you live.

And that, my friend, is your biggest problem.
How to step out of your own life.
In order to make it better.

Humberto Maturana teaches us that human consciousness can be understood as our ability to ‘observe ourselves observing‘.
In other words, consciousness might be reduced to self-awareness.

I’m afraid it’s not enough.
While no individual can be described as conscious if not commanding a certain degree of self-awareness, being able to observe their own observations doesn’t elevate an observer to fully conscious status.

How many of us have ‘enjoyed’ messing up ants or other insects just for the fun of it? When we were teenagers, of course.
OK, we continue to squish the cockroaches we happen to see and to spray our gardens against mosquitoes and other pests.
Only we no longer do it for fun. We employ a ‘healthy’ rationale to justify our actions – cockroaches/mosquitoes are ‘bad for us’.
And we try to do it in a reasonable manner. We don’t soak the entire garden with the most potent insecticide available. Simply because we’ve understood, the hard way, that bees are also important for us.

Otherwise put, it’s not enough for us to be able to keep tabs on what we do, we must also take responsibility for our actions.

After all, we’ve been able to notice that bison ‘engineer’ their own environment.

“Herds of bison milling through Yellowstone National Park may seem aimless to the average visitor, but a new study reveals the animals are hard at work engineering their ecosystem. By rigorously mowing and fertilizing their own patches of grassland, the big herbivores essentially delay spring until late summer.”

Maybe the time is ripe for us to understand that we, humans, have done the very same thing for quite a while now.
The world we live in is, to a certain – but rapidly growing – extent, the consequence of our own decision making.

The faster we learn to accept that, the higher the chances we won’t repeat past mistakes.

Any attempt to learn something, to increase your knowledge about a certain subject, is nothing more and nothing less than an attempt to become intimate with it.

Students have two open roads ahead of them.

One which implies a lot of wooing, patience and a certain degree of self appeasement.
The other asks for a direct, almost blunt, approach.
While the first is more like the student dancing around the subject, the second is akin to a hands on combat.

The results are, obviously, different.
Not exactly different. Only fundamentally.

The difference is very much like the difference between courtship and rape.
The end result might be a child. But…

Same thing with art and science.

It is true that in order to have sex, both partners need to be, at least somewhat, naked.
But there is all the difference in the world between having sex and making love!

The end result is only apparently the same!

A transformation so drastic that somebody needs to have been at both ends of the process in order to accept that what came out was the same thing as what went in.

The Universe has already went through Metamorphosis 0.1 and 1.0.
The ‘Big Bang’ and the apparition of life.

We’re witnessing Metamorphosis 2.0.
Awareness’ coming of age.

Individuals becoming aware not only of their own awareness but also of their place in the order of things.
Communities becoming aware that each of their individuals are paramount. That ‘no one left behind’ is the only thing that keeps the community together.
Individuals understanding that each of them is equally important yet none of them indispensable.

Individuals and communities alike opening their minds to the fact that none of them might exist without the other.