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Exploring the edge.
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The Global Brain
"It is not guilty pride but the ceaselessly reawakened instinct of the game which calls forth new worlds." (Heraclitus Reloaded)
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    Mind – The need for a new model (part 3)
    Project: Polytopia
    Yet another augmented prologue

    It took me a while to figure how to continue from here. There are many potential threads waiting to be unfolded and many ideas to weave. I thought however to dedicate another short post to reiterate what is it all about. The goal of writing about the mind, in itself being the subject of an intensive, quasi chaotic, process of iterative clarification, is not a philosophical investigation per se. It is not even a goal but rather a response to an inner call of sorts; an emerging yet not entirely formed imperative, private in nature and of intimate, unmediated, clarity.

    Mind is a great puzzle but it also may become a key. We, the conscious reflecting animals that we are - we are born, we live and we die in our minds. The mind is certainly the nexus of our humanity, and still in an almost mystical way it encompasses much more than our humanity; as if it enwombs the vastness of our potential humanity and not only the humanity that is.

    In this very sense, being quite removed (but not alien) from the noble endeavor to merely understand, mind is perhaps to be appreciated as a very potent metaphorical vehicle - a metaphor for an open-ended humanism. To know the mind becomes synonymous to knowledge that evolves, to image that transforms, to concept as a process of ever extracting its own context while bringing forth its transitory (persistent momentary) instances. You might sense the vacuum’s throbbing pulse underneath the words – a remote echo not entirely unfamiliar.

    Birth of a Thought 2- Susan Aldworth (2007)

    In modern philosophical discourse, post-humanism comes to explore what possibly might come after the human. But the human is but an image in its own mind and this mind is but an image within an image… There is no way to dodge this inevitable circularity so we have to look into it and surf it without falling into the vortex of infinite recurs. That is why I prefer open-ended humanism upon post humanism.

    Open-ended humanism carries no implicit trace of temporality (it is not ‘post’ to something else). More importantly, open-ended humanism involves no covert act of (so called) semantic aggression in delimiting the concept ‘human’ in hope of conquering a new conceptual territory. Open-ended humanism can be considered as a conceptual sibling to Wildcat’s Polytopia. Both are conceived with the same understanding of non-aggressive open-endedness. Yet, I do not want to see any of them reach the status of fully developed mature concepts (an elaborate invention anyway). Why? Because both explore a novel kind of distinctiveness which is inherently a-territorial and incomplete.

    Therefore I will not make open-ended humanism the subject of a discourse or investigation here; at least not explicitly. I would rather explore the unknown shores of a worthy metaphor, an archipelago of emergent meaning. In doing so, the ‘humanity’ in ‘open ended humanity’ will never take too deep roots in this or that image, this or that idea, this or that sentiment or emotional disposition; not even in what we might realize emotions, ideas and images to be at any given stage of our evolution. After all, realization in itself is an open ended process. Eventually, this h word (or h+ or h++) will fade out, leaving us, whatever we might become, open-ended _, incomplete, yet with absolutely no sense of loss.

    We will become free from our humanity, which paradoxically is the deepest sense of fulfilling it.

    To be continued...

    Sat, Jul 18, 2009  Permanent link
    Categories: Open-ended humanism
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    wonder_ly     Mon, Jul 27, 2009  Permanent link
    Thank you Spaceweaver for this fascinating post. The whole idea of mind as an image within an image, that evolves by knowing itself, requires more than a moment to ponder about.

    Would like to ask about a certain point:
    Spaceweaver: "Because both (polytopia and open-ended humanism) explore a novel kind of distinctiveness which is inherently a-territorial and incomplete."

    thinking about what territory can be in the mind
    - context may be considered a territory of mind, but as i understand it, the model of open-ended humanism is not devoid of contexts, but defines a different manner of emergence of contexts (as described by Spaceweaver):
    concept as a process of ever extracting its own context while bringing forth its transitory (persistent momentary) instances.

    - i (myself) treat myself as a defined territory within a wider happening, which resides in the center of everything i experience. i have borders, and those borders defines what is in me and outside of me. does a-territorial mean a different kind of self?

    What is the meaning of "a-territorial" in this context, and why is it inherent within an open-ended humanism?
    Spaceweaver     Fri, Jul 31, 2009  Permanent link
    wonder-ly: I am glad for the opportunity to further explore a-territorialism.

    Territory is a concept that belongs to humanity's Neolithic heritage, where it began as a highly effective method of relating and managing survival supporting limited resources. In the evolution of culture and the modern mind, territorialism was transported by means of our metaphor machine to virtually every domain of human experience and human thought. By that, the majority of these domains are described and conceptualized using a territorial style of minding. Creating definitive and rigid borders, emotional attachment through ownership, zero sum interactivity, are examples of such a style. Remarkably, the primary patterns underlying human individuality, the so called 'self' entity you mention and the patterns guiding the bonding of individuals into social organizations, are all strongly deriving from territorial metaphors. Furthermore, the very way we form abstract concepts is basically by consolidating territories within mental spaces.

    Indeed all of these only reflect on the immense utility and effectiveness of territorialism across many dimensions and contexts. It can be said that it is one of those concepts that profoundly guided the evolution of human thought and the image of being human (through the construct of self) in particular, for millennia.

    The proposition of an a-territorial model of mind is an aspect of an evolutionary path which departs and eventually leaves behind territoriality as a primary organizing principle of our mental spaces. This is indeed very futuristic and seems almost inconceivable. Nevertheless, I believe that if we aim at an open ended evolutionary path for humanity, it is also inevitable. The reality of progressive hyper-connectivity combined with accelerating diversification exerts increasing pressures on our territorially derived imagery and mental-emotional organization. See for example the dissolution of gender identity, family structure, the definitions of life and death, the dissolution of cultural, societal and political borders through the internet, increasing moral ambiguity, the convergence of man and machine and many more symptoms.

    A paradigm shift towards an a-territorial existential narrative for the future human is a top down conscious reflective process starting with the way we form concepts and images. As I already remarked above, it is a component of a new kind of model of mind, a new kind of humanism and of course a new kind of self (and self description) as being the organizing pattern of an individuated emotional-cognitive gestalt which is not necessarily anchored anymore to a distinct biological organism.

    Developing the idea is of course a work in progress. It is still in its embryonic mostly undifferentiated phase. But there are some clues: as I mentioned in the post, one of the potentially interesting directions is searching for a-territorial distinctiveness. Making distinctions and drawing borders are very basic operations in the way we form ideas and descriptions and in the very way we generally construct representations. If we could just change our image of this abstract process, for example, to realize borders (between ideas, between concepts, between images, between emotions, between individuals etc) not as delimiting a territory for one thing to be distinct from all others, but rather as permeable selective membranes of interactivity, our whole model of mind will spontaneously undergo a profound transformation from territorial organization to a-territorial open-ended distinctiveness. Ownership will disappear, emotional clinging will disappear, rigid absolutes will disappear and, most important of all, our understanding of identity and otherness will become fluid at all dimensions. Distinctiveness will become a matter of self-organized aesthetics.

    Hope it makes some sense.

    to be continued...