Cybernetics, Autopoiesis, and Social Systems Theory

Cybernetics, Autopoiesis, and Social Systems Theory

Key Developments:

  • Cybernetics to Second Order Cybernetics
  • Social Systems (Talcot Parsons) to Autopoietic Social Systems (Niklas Luhmann)
  • Semiotics to Cyber Semiotics
  • Systems Theory to Networks Theory
  • Communication Theory
  • Conversation Theory
  • Culture Theory

Key Terms and People

  • Niklas Luhmann
  • Dirk Baecker
  • F Varela
  • H Maturana
  • Heinz Von Foerster
  • George Spencer Brown
  • Charles Sanders Pierce
  • Soren Brier
  • Louis Kauffman
  • Gordon Pask
  • Second Order Cybernetics
  • Socio Cybernetics
  • Second Order Systems Theory
  • Social Systems Theory
  • Cybernetics of Cybernetics
  • Semiotics
  • Cyber Semiotics
  • Autopoiesis
  • Emergence, Embodiment, Enactment
  • Organizations in Networks

From Second Order Cybernetics

Second order Cybernetics (also known as the Cybernetics of Cybernetics, and the New Cybernetics) was developed between 1968 and 1975 in recognition of the power and consequences of cybernetic examinations of circularity. It is Cybernetics, when Cybernetics is subjected to the critique and the understandings of Cybernetics. It is the Cybernetics in which the role of the observer is appreciated and acknowledged rather than disguised, as had become traditional in western science: and is thus the Cybernetics that considers observing, rather than observed systems.

In this article, the rationale from and through the application of which, second order Cybernetics was developed is explored, together with the contributions of the main precursors and protagonists. This is developed from an examination of the nature of feedback and the Black Box—both seen as circular systems, where the circularity is taken seriously. The necessary presence of the observer doing the observing is established. The primacy of, for example, conversation over coding as a means of communication is argued-—one example of circularity and interactivity in second order cybernetic systems. Thus second order Cybernetics, understood as proposing an epistemology and (through autopoietic systems) an ontogenesis, is seen as connected to the philosophical position of Constructivism.

Examples are given of the application of second order Cybernetics concepts in practice in studies of, and applications in, communication, society, learning and cognition, math and computation, management, and design. It is asserted that the relationship between theory and practice is not essentially one of application: rather they strengthen each other by building on each other in a circularity of their own: the presentation of one before the other results from the process of explanation rather than a necessary, structural dependency.

Finally, the future of second order Cybernetics (and of Cybernetics in general) is considered. The possibility of escalation from second to third and further orders is considered, as is the notion that second order Cybernetics is, effectively, a conscience for Cybernetics. And the popular use of “cyber-” as a prefix is discussed.

 Please see my related posts:

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

Socio-Cybernetics and Constructivist Approaches

Autocatalysis, Autopoiesis and Relational Biology

Cyber-Semiotics: Why Information is not enough

Systems and Organizational Cybernetics

Ratio Club: A Brief History of British Cyberneticians

Key Sources of Research:

SOCIAL SYSTEMS

Niklas Luhmann

TRANSLATED BY John Bednarz, Jr., with Dirk Baecker

FOREWORD BY Eva M. Knodt

STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA

Click to access Niklas_Luhmann_Social_Systems.pdf

Form of the Firm

Dirk Baecker

https://www.academia.edu/11784199/The_Form_of_the_Firm

Why Systems

Dirk Baecker

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1867406

Systems, Networks and Culture

Dirk Baecker

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1867444&download=yes

SECOND ORDER CYBERNETICS

Ranulph Glanville,

Click to access Glanville-SECOND_ORDER_CYBERNETICS.pdf

Observing Networks: A Note on Asymmetrical Social Forms

Dirk Baecker

https://www.academia.edu/24649161/Observing_Networks_A_Note_on_Asymmetrical_Social_Forms

Systemic Theories of Communication

Dirk Baecker

https://www.academia.edu/24649171/Systemic_Theories_of_Communication

Reintroducing Communication into Cybernetics

Dirk Baecker

https://www.academia.edu/24649181/Reintroducing_Communication_into_Cybernetics

Managing Corporations in Networks

Dirk Baecker

Click to access 5795f05a08ae33e89fad5f96.pdf

Niklas Luhman and Cybernetics

https://papiro.unizar.es/ojs/index.php/rc51-jos/article/download/790/721

Cybernetics and Human Knowing

Click to access Peirce%20and%20Spencer%20Brown.pdf

Systems in Context
On the outcome of the Habermas/Luhmann‐debate

Poul Kjaer

Click to access ancilla2006_66_kjaer.pdf

The myth of the system: On the development, purpose and context of Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory

Stefan Rossbach
University of Kent at Canterbury

Click to access 30ae4fa5-2413-4e4d-a837-37c5df56f4c7.pdf

Niklas Luhmann and Organization Studies

Click to access 9788763003049.pdf

Network Society

Dirk Baecker

https://www.academia.edu/11784198/Network_Society

Shape of things to come: From the ‘laws of form’ to management in the post-growth economy

André Reichel

Click to access 17-1reichel.pdf

Luhmann’s theory of autopoietic social systems

David Seidl

Click to access paper2004_2.pdf

Systems, Network, and Culture

Dirk Baecker

Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen, Germany baecker@mac.com

Click to access baecker2.pdf

Niklas Luhmann neosystemic theory and the notion of communicative autopoiesis in organizational studies

Click to access 2b127064006ab5fedb0746faa395f9d3a5b1.pdf

A Calculus for Autopoiesis

in: Dirk Baecker und Birger P. Priddat (eds.), Ökonomie der Werte: Festschrift zum 65. Geburtstag von Michael Hutter, Marburg: Metropolis, 2013, 249-267

15 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2012 Last revised: 1 Jun 2013

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2073362

The N-Closure of the Observer

Dirk Baecker

https://www.academia.edu/24649177/The_N-Closure_of_the_Observer

Working the Form: George Spencer-Brown and the Mark of Distinction

Cyber-Semiotics: Why Information is not enough

Cyber-Semiotics: Why Information is not enough

 

CyberSemiotics is a framework developed by Prof. Soren Brier.  He is from Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.

 

 

From Cybersemiotics: a semiotic-systemic transdisciplinary approach

Since the critique of the logical positivists’ unity of science for being too reductionist to be transdisciplinary, most scientists have abandoned this model. But other candidates have emerged. The first was evolutionary system science and cybernetics, which was instrumental in producing the new information science supporting the development of cognitive science, with computation as the central process. But the new info-computational transdisciplinary framework still lacks a phenomenological and hermeneutical foundation just as system science and cybernetics did. Peircean semiotics has this foundation and includes a theory of information and has a transdisciplinary scope, but lacks the self-organization theory developed in autopoiesis theory, which Luhmann uses in his new communicatively based system theory. Cybersemiotics integrates Peirce and Luhmann’s paradigms into a new transdisciplinary framework encompassing the theory of mind as embodied, extended, enacted and embedded.

 

From Can Cybersemiotics Solve the Problem of Informational Transdisciplinarity?

A transdisciplinary theory for cognition and communication has at least been described from the following paradigms

  • An objective information processing view or info-mechanicism;
  • A social constructivist view;
  • A systemic cybernetic view of self-organization;
  • Semiotic paradigms of experience and interpretation (phenomenological and hermeneutical aspects) including biosemiotic going into animal, plant, bacterial and cellular living systems. They all have their transdisciplinary shortcomings.

A transdisciplinary framework called Cybersemiotics that
integrate phenomenological and hermeneutical aspect in Peircean semiotic logic with cybernetic and systemic autopoietic emergentist process-informational view, is suggested.

 

From Cybersemiotics: A New Foundation for Transdisciplinary Theory of Information, Cognition, Meaningful Communication and the Interaction Between Nature and Culture

Cybersemiotics constructs a non-reductionist framework in order to integrate third person knowledge from the exact sciences and the life sciences with first person knowledge described as the qualities of feeling in humanities and second person intersubjective knowledge of the partly linguistic communicative interactions, on which the social and cultural aspects of reality are based. The modern view of the universe as made through evolution in irreversible time, forces us to view man as a product of evolution and therefore an observer from inside the universe. This changes the way we conceptualize the problem and the role of consciousness in nature and culture. The theory of evolution forces us to conceive the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities together in one theoretical framework of unrestricted or absolute naturalism, where consciousness as well as culture is part of nature. But the theories of the phenomenological life world and the hermeneutics of the meaning of communication seem to defy classical scientific explanations. The humanities therefore send another insight the opposite way down the evolutionary ladder, with questions like: What is the role of consciousness, signs and meaning in the development of our knowledge about evolution?

Phenomenology and hermeneutics show the sciences that their prerequisites are embodied living conscious beings imbued with meaningful language and with a culture. One can see the world view that emerges from the work of the sciences as a reconstruction back into time of our present ecological and evolutionary self understanding as semiotic intersubjective conscious cultural and historical creatures, but unable to handle the aspects of meaning and conscious awareness and therefore leaving it out of the story. Cybersemiotics proposes to solve the dualistic paradox by starting in the middle with semiotic cognition and communication as a basic sort of reality in which all our knowledge is created and then suggests that knowledge develops into four aspects of human reality: Our surrounding nature described by the physical and chemical natural sciences, our corporality described by the life sciences such as biology and medicine, our inner world of subjective experience described by phenomenologically based investigations and our social world described by the social sciences. I call this alternative model to the positivistic hierarchy the cybersemiotic star. The article explains the new understanding of Wissenschaft that emerges from Peirce’s and Luhmann’s conceptions.

 

 

 

Please see my related posts:

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Socio-Cybernetics and Constructivist Approaches

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Semiotics, Bio-Semiotics and Cyber Semiotics

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

Autocatalysis, Autopoiesis and Relational Biology

Systems View of Life: A Synthesis by Fritjof Capra

Systems and Organizational Cybernetics

 

 

 

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

 

Soren Brier

http://cybersemiotics.com/content/søren-brier

 

 

Cybersemiotics:
A New Foundation for Transdisciplinary Theory of Information, Cognition, Meaningful Communication and the Interaction Between Nature and Culture

Søren Brier

 

Click to access cf50ffc5edbc110ccd08279d6d8b513bfbe2.pdf

A transdisciplinary and evolutionary framework encompassing information with meaningful cognition and communication through second order cybernetics and Peircean semiotics

Soren Brier

 

 

 

 

Cybersemiotics
Why information is not enough!

A Trans-Disciplinary Approach to Information, Cognition and Communication Studies, Through an Integration of Niklas Luhmann’s Communication Theory with C. S. Peirce’s Semiotics.

 

Click to access luhmann02.pdf

 

 

FROM FIRST TO THIRD VIA CYBERSEMIOTICS –

A Festschrift honoring Professor Søren Brier on the Occasion of his 60th Birthday

 

Click to access 9788770719964.pdf

 

 

 

Cybersemiotics: a semiotic-systemic transdisciplinary approach

Studia Kulturoznawcze nr 1 (7), 247-265 2015

 

Click to access Studia_Kulturoznawcze-r2015-t-n1_(7)-s247-265.pdf

 

 

 

 

The Paradigm of Peircean Biosemiotics

Soren Brier

https://tidsskrift.dk/signs/article/viewFile/26836/23600

Click to access Brier_2008_peircean_biosemiotics.pdf

 

 

 

Levels of Cybersemiotics: Possible ontologies of signification

Soren Brier

Click to access 2_Brier_v1_2.pdf

 

 

 

Cybersemiotics: An Evolutionary World View Going Beyond Entropy and Information into the Question of Meaning

Søren Brier

https://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/12/8/1902/pdf

 

 

 

CYBERSEMIOTICS: MERGING THE SEMIOTIC AND CYBERNETIC EVOLUTIONARY VIEW OF REALITY AND CONSCIOUSNESS TO A TRANSDISCIPLINARY VISION OF REALITY

Soren Brier

 

Click to access Brier%20P26.pdf

 

 

 

Cybersemiotics: A New Foundation for Transdisciplinary Theory of Information, Cognition, Meaning, Communication and Consciousness

Soren Brier

Click to access 798.pdf

 

 

Cybersemiotics: A Semiotic-systemic Transdisciplinary Approach

 

Søren Brier

2015

Click to access s_ren_brier_cybersemiotics_a_semiotic_systemic_publishersversion.pdf

 

 

The riddle of the Sphinx answered: On how C. S. Peirce’s transdisciplinary semiotic philosophy of knowing links science and spirituality

 

Søren Brier

 

Click to access Brier_Peirce.pdf

 

Cybersemiotics and the Question of Knowledge

 

Soren Brier

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242583114_1_Cybersemiotics_and_the_Question_of_Knowledge_1

 

Habit as a Connecting Nature, Mind and Culture in
C.S. Peirce’s Semiotic Pragmaticism †

Søren Brier

http://www.mdpi.com/2504-3900/1/3/226

How Peircean semiotic philosophy connects Western science with Eastern emptiness ontology

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079610717301293

Cybersemiotics and the reasoning powers of the universe: philosophy of information in a semiotic-systemic transdisciplinary approach

Soren Brier

 

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14688417.2015.1070684

Cybersemiotics: An Evolutionary World View Going Beyond Entropy and Information into the Question of Meaning

Søren Brier

 

http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/12/8/1902/htm

 Cybersemiotic Pragmaticism and Constructivism

Søren Brier

 

Click to access 3b1ab5c1eda273c1d4a5f4974c63df847ede.pdf

Cognitive Semiotics

 

Click to access Zlatev2012-Paris1.pdf

 

Integral Philosophy of the Rg Veda: Four Dimensional Man

Integral Philosophy of the Rg Veda: Four Dimensional Man

 

Meditations Through the Rg veda:  Four Dimensional man was published in 1976.  In 1999, Antonio de Nicholas published a review of his work.  See below.

 

From Forward to the book.

rgvedargveda2

From Infinity Foundations website

Meditations Through The Rg Veda: A Retrospective
(Philosophy East and West. Vol.49. Number 2. April 1999)
by Antonio T. de Nicolas, PhD

Paradigm, Theory, Ritual

It is now twenty five years since Meditations Through the Rg Veda: Four-Dimensional Man was first published in the United States. My earlier work on the Rg Veda was published in 1971 in Bangalore, India. Though the structures of the book were born during my twelve years of consecutive living in India, these structures did not become a paradigm until later. The structures I refer to are the word things and the order of their arrangement I was embodying as I lived there, a context at a time. It was the way the sun rose or the dawn arrived, the slow-motion for the sun to set and the sudden night; the lines of movement, of people, animals, wind or rain; the sudden appearance of forms, by the river, a well, in the sky; the dissolution of familiar and unfamiliar names, in the rhythm of language, Gujarati, Sanskrit, even English or Spanish names; but above all, the new habit of listening with my eyes to the movements in the sky, the forest, the streets, the homes; for the world, and my body, were a musical string plucked at every turn, in every silence , in every sight, sound, smell, touch and movement. Hidden geometries became human flesh, unnoticed. It was a silent world longing to become language, but can a multiplicity of embodied languages be expressed as one? After a while it was life in the twilight; which was the shadow, which the real object? One has to gain distance, and none farthest than an American Ph.D. Nonetheless, dispite the distance, and dispite the academic language, a new paradigm was born, in the Bronx, of all places. The structures I embodied gave way to an experienced, embodied geometry, sustaining all the structures, texts and statements I silently learned in India. Of course, when I set down this paradigm in writing, be it the Rg Veda or the Gita, the actual written text was already a theory, no longer a paradigm, though perhaps the most accurate translation of the paradigm. Those who disagreed kept silent and those who agreed, the majority, repeated my theory as participants in a ritual. In short, the acts by which the paradigm was born in me, or is born in any one giving birth to an original text like the Rg Veda, is not the written text. The act of creation is silent. The text of the Rg Veda, however, as written down is only a theory of itself, an invitation to a ritual. It is not even one text, or one language, but several and can only be expressed in plural linguistic wholes. Paradigms may be tested; they leave invariant epistemologies, but they can never be taught; they are sheer creation. Theories, as short hand of possible paradigms, on the other hand, we learn in the classroom. They are the easy ones to repeat. Those who follow the path of creation, of embodied-vision, follow the path of the gods. The others follow the path of the fathers, the path of pro-creation, the path of ritual, as the Rg Veda indicates. One leads to immortality, the other to rebirth. On which of these two paths stands the author of the text, rsi, commentator, priest or scholar? Besides, the Rg Veda is the sruti (revelation) tradition of India. As such, it is earlier than any other claim of revelation from any of the canonical texts, from the East, Middle East or West. The paradigm of the interpreter, if it coincides with that of the Rg Veda, should also give birth to those gods that gave humans sensation, inspiration and immortality, not just life to a priesthood that changes ritual as the mood strikes, bent on the act of pro-creation for, after all, the immortality of the ritual is more important than the immortality of the soul. Nor is it legitimate while interpreting to disband these earlier gods in the name of a later one, nor the heart-ethics of these original people for the head-ethics of those who came later, and if done it should be made evident. And this is how the “written” Rg Veda began. The priests wrote it down thousands of years later (depending on which initial date you choose). Ideographic language gave way to alphabetic writing, criteria of sound to those of sight, the path of the gods to that of the fathers, the structures of immortality to those of reincarnation, paradigm to theory repeated in ritual. Which Rg Vedic text are we talking about? What is recoverable from such a text? In the end, all we are left with are the technologies by which we recreate either text. Which path do they open for us? Now, once this is said, however, the modern interpreter cannot be blamed for not being a rsi. Let the reader be free to decide between the two paths, and let the interpreter be aware of both.

The Myth of Invariance

The first scholar to find my 1971 edition of the Rg Vedic world “captivating” was Ernest McClain. His interest was my claim that every statement in the oral/aural Rg Veda was tied to a language grounded on musical criteria. Music was once, at the origin of human language, the epistemology of oral cultures. This was all Ernest McClain needed to make a life and a project of his training as a musicologist. We started collaborating, getting together for brunch at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, in 1974. His first book appeared in 1976, The Myth of Invariance: The Origin of the Gods, Mathematics and Music from the Rg Veda to Plato (Nicolas-Hays, N.Y.) In 1978 he brought out with the same publisher, The Pythagorean Plato: Prelude to the Song Itself, and in 1981 Meditations Through the Quran: Tonal Images in an Oral Culture. When we last spoke he had already found confirmation of his work and mine, not only in Greece, but also in Chinese and Biblical texts. In his words: The Rg Veda is the original epistemology upon which humans built knowledge and also immortality. And thus by the hand of music the Rg Veda re-entered human consciousness.

The Artful Universe

At first glance this book is a most welcome addition to Vedic studies. It covers a territory in Indian Studies few dare to tread, and in doing so the author brings to the discussion almost everyone, ancient or modern, who has written anything on the Vedas. The writing style is beautiful and the translations from the Sanskrit have a modern ring that makes the original less intimidating. There is a definitive purpose by the author in the writing and interpreting of these texts! On the one hand, and this is the thesis of the book, the Vedas are the product of the imagination, and on the other this imagination expresses itself as ritual, as the religious imagination of the Vedic religion. Professor William K. Mahoney takes six chapters to develop this thesis. The first two are a preparation to understanding the religious imagination, the third and fourth chapters cover the Rg Veda and the last two the Upanishads. The book, however, does not end here. The Notes that follow these six chapters are yet another book within the book which allow the reader to follow the inner footsteps of Prof. Mahoney in the composition of his book. It is easy here to admire his delicate scholarship and his flare for the happy phrase in translating or interpreting the work of others. While my intention in writing this essay is a celebration of the human effort carried out in getting to the origins of our species, I wish also to sharpen the debate in the hope that “embodied structures” take over where simple or simplistic statements become the origin of the dialogue.

The modern scholar dealing with the Vedic period has several options: Translations of individual hymns under arbitrary categories, as it has been done and can be found in the Bibliography of The Artful Universe; or corrections, very important, as to the date of the Vedas, as In Search of the Cradle of Civilization, as G. Feuerstein, S. Kak and D. Frawley have successfully done, or he/she may try to uncover for us the paradigm and mental faculty through which the Vedic seers “composed” the original hymns. This is what Prof. Mahoney promises us:

“To Vedic visionary poets, the world is – or could be – an integrated whole, a unified structure and process of being in which there are no unbridgeable distances separating the divine, natural, and human worlds” (p.2).

And this world is held together by ” mental abilities or processes associated with what I will call the imagination” (p.5), ” the divine imagination… and the human imagination – especially the poetic, sacerdotal, and contemplative imagination… (and) whether divine or human, it is precisely the imagination that fashions and recognizes the universe as meaningful, abiding, and valuable, that is to say, real” (p. 7).

Here are my first questions. When we take, say the Rg Veda, for examination or commentary, which “text” are we recreating? The oral text the rsis chanted, the written text the priests codified in ten mandalas and became a ritual, or a new mongrel text that repeats a lot of names and quotes but can be used, at most, as the weekend comfort of New Age Evangelicals? And if so, where are the priests in the Upanishads when the Ksatriya instruct them? But above all, if the imagination is the faculty used by the seers in the composition (creation) of the oral, original hymns, which is the faculty that the priests use when they write down the text and when they repeat the same written text in ritual after ritual? But above all, if the imagination is a faculty, how does it work, which are its movements besides naming it, which are its structures, and are these structures the same or different from our own, and if the same why, and if different, how can we understand the Vedic imagination? How many priests does the author know with imagination? Isn’t their job to repeat a ritual imagined by others, deadening thus not only their senses but their faculties too? An imaginative priest is known as a heretic!

These remarks are not to be answered by Prof. Mahoney. He has written his beautiful text. But is this text the Rg Veda, or is it the case that any attempt at writing down one Rg Veda will give us of necessity several texts? It is obvious that this study fluctuates between the “creation” text of the original rsis and the “pro-creation” text of the later, codifying priests. Where once we had sheer power of creation, through an active imagination, giving birth to gods, powers and continuities, very soon we descend to the repetitive ritual of procreation through human semen, and the danger is that this becomes the ritual we celebrate today:

O holy drop!
You are the master of ecstasies!
You are the immortal god’s favorite drink!
Show us the way to success,
as a friend to a friend. (p. 85)

But it is the Rg Veda itself which admonishes us a few hymns later than the one quoted above by Prof. Mahoney (R.V.9.112) to be weary of one single text, be it rituals or anything else:

l. Our thoughts wander in all directions
And various are the ways of men:
The cartwright looks for accidents,
The physician for the sick,
And the brahman for a rich patron.
For the sake of Indra,
Flow, Indra, flow.

4. The horse draws a swift carriage,
The generous host an easy laugh and play.
The penis seeks a hairy slot
And the frog (brahman) hankers for a flood.
For the sake of Indra,
Flow, Indra, flow.

(My translation in Meditations through the Rg Veda).

How does this effort in all of us at producing “one single” text fail when dealing with Indian classical texts, particularly the Rg Veda?

As regards the Notes of this book I have only admiration. It is almost heroic the effort of Prof. Mahoney to footnote his conclusions. It is as if footnoting he were building a path for others to follow. The way he does it, however, may raise serious questions. Is not this the “path of the fathers” leading to the re-incarnation of all ritual, including the ritual of scholarship? Take, for example, part of the footnote he dedicates to my book Meditations through the Rg Veda:

” …The “four dimensions” of the Vedic intentional life outlined by de Nicolas are similar in some ways to the poetic and ritual aspects of the Vedic World I discuss in Chapters Three and Four, below. We overlap most in regards to what de Nicolas calls the “language of embodied vision.” My approach is different from his, however, in that, whereas he concentrates on the linguistic nature of visionary knowledge, I focus my intention on the visionary background of linguistic expression.” (Emphasis mine) (p.238). Does Prof. Mahoney understand that no matter how he “overlaps” me, (ritualizes my writing?) my work antedates his by twenty five years, and supplies him not only with the pertinent Rg Vedic hymns he quotes but also with the secondary sources he needs to gather the community of scholars that will testify to his thesis? Furthermore, was not my book the one to establish not only the “imagination” as a rational intelligence of oral cultures, but also the “moves” it must make to be an imagination in movement, able to keep a diverse society in continuity within the discontinuity of sensation? If this is my thesis where is his? In the ritual of repetition of the original text? I would most probably let this point go were it not for the fact that this “tracing” over other people’s work seems to count these days as scholarship. It seems to be a mind-set of the times. But is this the “text” that gave birth to the Rg Veda? Scholarship is not a ritual, and more so, a thesis is not a ritual. Where is the imagination to get out of other people’s rituals, to rise to ” the path of the gods”? Let’s go on with our conversation. Prof. Mahoney will rejoin us later in the dialogue.

The New Theogony And The Heresy Of Oedipus

” Let us with tuneful skill
Proclaim the origin of the gods,
So that in future generations these origins
May be seen, when these songs are sung.” (R.V. l0.72.1)

Dr. Colavito, in The New Theogony, perhaps the best book on myth written in English, universalizes the “languages” of the Rg Veda, Asat, Sat, Yajna and Rta, to cover the study of all myth.

“What we call “myth”,” she writes “is a fourfold cluster of actions and mental properties that individually and together account for the necessary and sufficient conditions of the mythopoetic worldview, of the nature and workings of the cosmos, and of the individuals and groups of individuals within this cosmos.” For the sake of clarity she summarizes these languages thus: ” These four fundamental acts defining myth are: maia, mythos, mimesis and logos. Each act is a single focus or mental habit; together the four account for the totality of human and divine acts, or mental habits, that have guided the human species to the present shores. Though strictly speaking myth is merely one of the (four) acts in myth making, even this act is incomprehensible unless the other three mental operations are included in the narratives of myth…” She then goes on outline the four “languages”:

“Maia (Gr. midwife) is the term used to signify the bringing forth of action from inaction, cosmos out of chaos, the initial spark that kindles the mind to transform from nothig to something. It is the midwife between the divine realm of immortality and potentiality and the human realm of temporality and human existence. The aspect of maia in the human sphere is represented by the human faculty of imagining. It is the expression of the creative experience; it cannot be described,, it has no form, its proper abode is the midregion between the human and the immortal. Once an individual begins to interpret or reflect upon the experience, maia disappears and the experience receives an existence of its own, outside the real of potentiality, and it is given a form, name, boundary. In short, the reflective act heralds in the aspect of mythos. And with mythos the world moves from chaos to cosmos.

Mythos (from the Gr. delivered by word of mouth) primarily describes the initial reflection of the creative experience. It is the oral transmission of the experience… The first “scream of individuation,” to quote Nietzsche… Mythos, also, represents the original fall from grace, the first act that breaks from the unity of the beginning, from the glory of immortality; for the telling of the experience now has another element, an experiencer, a self, through whom the experience flowed. Thus… the telling of the experience is not the experience… and only those who have had the same experience may truly understand the full import of the teller’s tale…so that communities of experiencers can share common revelations.

Mimesis (Gr. to make a copy) is the aspect that describes the mythopoetic action of re-membering or re-creating… In this manner the story is told with an intent, a moral… What becomes important now is the story not so much as it relates to the original creative experience of individuals, but as it relates to the desire to make a point… The mimetic phase is … the first frozen form: the pictographic mode… geared toward establishing the social mores of the collective group.

Finally, logos, (Gr. the word by which the inward thought is expressed), taking as its origins these mores, completely eradicates the level of personal experience and uses the rules derived from the mimetic to create theories about human action. These mores are founded on human experience, but only on hypothetically universal experience – in other words, experience filtered through the sieve of a collective interpretation. As such, then , no origin in logos has the certainty of an origin in maia… Logos ceases to be a pictographic representation; it transforms into a symbolic or alphabetic system that has only its own correlatives within its own framework, with no derivative capacity from the experiential realm of the individual… Logos has always been the shadow of maia in the mythopoetic world.

This fourfold division is neither a convenient devise for classification, nor an arbitrary tool for interpretation; it is the fabric itself of myth… an abstraction, that, though distinguishable, is inseparable from myth. From a biological perspective this fourfold division is the neurophysiological equipment of the species, its mental habits accumulated through the repetition of the past: imagining, fantasizing, narrating, following the discursive path of logic… )(Thus) while maia stands for an original experience… mythos, mimesis and logos stand for different ways (languages) of making this experience public, either through narrative (mythos), visual forms (mimesis), or… theory…alphabetic substitutions, or conceptual analyses (logos)… Finally, this fourfold system of acts corresponds to the scientific operations functioning within the oral/aural worldview, which has as its verification the ancient science of acoustics.” (pp.6-8)

Using the model of the one dismembering itself or the model of the zero as an addition of objects, Dr. Colavito makes evident the model through which dialogue and understand of myth is possible, and this not in just a few cases, Classical India, Rg Veda, Upanishads, but also the Greek gods and goddesses ending with the education of Pythagoras as imparted on his students, and the acoustic verification in Plato. A breathless trip that ends in the frustrating realization that while simple acts may lead to overwhelming “oceanic” experiences, the unity of maia, once broken, can never be recovered in one single language, but we must learn to move with of plurality of at least four irreconcilable and irreducible languages. Or is this a frustration or a temptation, the temptation to be the shadow of a god, if not god him/her self?

These are very strong claims. If true they may lead to the mobility of the Rta to perform the good act (sukrta), the original act of creation. Can they also lead to reconstructing the original Rg Veda? Where do we find the verification? Dr. Colavito took it upon herself to get to the bottom of the issue. Equipped with two Ph.Ds – one in Comparative Literature and the other in Psychology, her next book, The Heresy of Oedipus and the Mind/Mind Split, introduces us to her “Biocultural Paradigm.” She starts with the Nature/nurture controversy raging in the biological sciences to conclude that neither one nor the other works in isolation, but that nurture opens Nature, and Nature is not activated without nurture. In other words, the neural passages of the brains are open or forever shut if there is not a mutual fecundation. This interaction is limited, and almost chronologically developed in every child from conception to the age of l2; after that, what nurture has not activated in the right hemisphere of the neocortex is forever destroyed, though the left hemisphere, the seat of logic and discourse and the place of the “interpreter module,” keep developing abstract substitutions based on information received by these other brains or by its own conceptual loops, forever. What in her first book was called maia, in the second is the reptilian brain; mythos becomes the limbic brain; mimesis she divides into two: the visual, right hemisphere and the conceptual left hemisphere; and logos is the interpreter module located in the left hemisphere of the neocortex. In this she follows MacLean and Gazzaniga and the latest discoveries in neurobiology. But for the purpose of our discussion, in what way is this relevant to the Vedas and Prof. Mahoney’s or McClain’s books?

Revelation, individual experience, is an affair of the right side of the brains. The left hemisphere can only interpret, translate what the right hemisphere presents as sensation. Thus, while we have five different brains, (not one as Descartes thought and we presume,) only the three of the right hemisphere deal with original experience. And this in different ways. While maia ( the Asat) is the origin, maia is also wired with a geometry capable of letting forms appear, while mythos, the place of gods and heroes, is already a world of forms. However, and this is the point of our discussion, when these two original and originating brains are translated by the right hemisphere of the neocortex they are translated as “visual images;” they are seen as images even if originally they were waves and movement and tactility. In other words, by the time the ritual priests take on the “visual images” to the sacrifice and the ritual, these visual images, originally, were neither images nor visual. Thus by constituting these images as the original text, the followers are removed from the origin, from the source of sensation and are led into a repetition of acts that may crystallize either in a crisis of faith or in a crisis of dogma. The believers may either end up losing faith,( also sensation) or becoming dogmatic preachers in a game of endless logomachy. And the same with any other “text” bound by single language-games, like Western Theology. Thus, according to the Rg Veda it is precisely because of this tendency that the culture calls for cyclical returns to the Asat: to lose all forms, verbal, audial, or visual and break the dragon Vrta open, again. And that excerise, in the Rg Veda, is the true meaning of sacrifice (yajna). The sacrifice is necessary because these languages are invariant biological epistemologies, irreducible to one another.

Dr. Colavito follows up her neurobiocultural bases with studies on myth, Rg Vedic and principally the Oedipus cycle and the whole history of the House of Cadmus, after the mind/mind split took place in the species with the repetition of the technologies developed to introduce alphabetic writing in our mental habits. The paradigm is so explosive that Time magazine (Feb. 1997) could not avoid making a full use of it to describe the early development of the different brains in children, the contrary pole of Dr. Colavito’s thesis as she verified it through earlier cultures, in the infancy of the species. Of special interest in our discussion is her Appendix 2.3 making visible the hidden geometries of the Asat and the two ways of reading those texts: as from the “path of the fathers” or as from the “path of the gods.” How can we overcome the temptation of one single language, and how do we learn to be open to a plurality of four?

The Human Potential

“We can’t put it together; it is together.”

“What we need to understand may only be expressible in a language that we do not know.”

The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, is a mammoth ongoing enterprise to cover all human problems ( l2,000 profiles with 120,000 hyperlinks), strategies and solutions (29,500 profiles with 91,000 hyperlinks), human development (4,400 profiles with l5,000 hyperlinks) and human values (1,900 profiles with 23.000 hyperlinks). The Encyclopedia hypertexts are currently edited at the Union of International Associations (UIA) by Nadia McLaren. It is now in its fourth hardback edition, first CD-ROM edition, and is available in demo version on the Web (http://www.uiaorg/homeency.htm/), although all texts have been accessible since l998. Profiles on the Web can be translated through Alta Vista into a variety of major languages.

It is in this global environment that the paradigm of “languages” in the Rg Veda has found a home. The Director of the Union of International Associations, Dr. Anthony J.N. Judge, in article after article, profile after profile, conference after conference has articulated, and compiled in the Encyclopedia, the modern consequences of academic attempts at synthesis when these attempts are expressed in one common language, namely the one engendering the problems in the first place. Dr. Judge’s point of departure is the need to start from the experiential human origins as described in the Rg Veda and then articulate the ensuing insights in the plurality of languages available for their manifestation in the Rg Vedic model. Thus, the model or paradigm, is part of the “answer” proposed by the Editors of the Encyclopedia. Contrary to the position academics take of locating themselves within the “web” of a discipline, research, culture, department or, at times, a simple desk, Dr. Judge travels with ease the “lines of the webs” linking the totality of squares, within which the rest of us seem to be trapped, to a knowledge that seems to come only to those who are able to travel in his manner. He is at home in the East and in the West, in music and in science, in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or the Tao, and he seems to know a “knowledge” that comes only to those who travel the “lines” of the “web,” never squeezed by the particular generalizations of the cubicles within each “web’s square.” His summary of the “languages” of the Rg Veda for contemporary guidance to those looking to solve the problems, individual, communal or global, or contemporary life is appealing to him because it takes into account: ” The interrelated formal languages based on tone; (they lead ) toward reintegrating the individual in action; (make ) this integration embodied: re-imagining man; (take care) of the pluralism through an integration of community dialogue; (guarantee) this integrative renewal through sacrifice (of perspectives); (account) for an integrative vision that is encountered in the movement.” ( ” Liberation of Integration, Universality and Concord through pattern, oscillation, harmony and embodiment.” Originally delivered for the 5th Network Meeting of the United Nations University, project of Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (Montreal) as a contribution to the discussion on integration of the findings of the Project.) And he includes in his remarks the fact that:

” Integration modelled on sound may be inherently more comprehensible to more people than integration modelled on sight.” (Ibid.) In view of Dr. Colavito’s previous discussed work, this conclusion is not so far fetched since the structures of the Rg Veda are the original embodied structures of the humanity that gave us birth, and as such they are embodied structures, bio-culturally invariant, not only in each of us but also in the earlier cultures that preceeded us.

Conclusion: Regathering The Fragments

The Artful Universe provided the occasion for a round discussion of the earliest structures of human “languages” we carry in our genes.

Any one particular language joining the discussion does not only show us the empirical grounding of their speech, experience, academic construction, but also the imperialistic tendency of such mono-linguistic speech universalizing itself. Contemporary discoveries in neurobiology and the paradigm based on them of Dr. Colavito make it clear that life, that is, human life, is life in community. This community is formed through interaction or dismemberment of a sensorium that is plural by its very bio-culture base and becomes integrated through dialogue. All dialogue, all language carries with it the possibility of sharing in the embodied vision of a paradigm that has been with us from the beginning, since through it we had to break through the “experience of separating earth and sky.” In this manner there is no need, as Prof. Mahoney does in one of his initial footnotes with a humility rarely present in Sanskrit scholars, to apologize for not being ethnically Indian while interpreting the Vedas. Interpretation, like everything else, is biocultural not ethnical. We are dealing with neural equipment, genes, receptors and transmitters, not the color of one’s skin, or the geography of one’s birth. And finally, if there is any hope in preserving the integrity of the University or returning it to its original call, especially in the humanities, this hope resides in the work of scholars like Profs. Mahony, Colavito and Judge who through their work in the classical myths were able to avoid the “empiricist languages” of the present Academic fashion and return to us the memories of our distant progenitors with the structures that made them live in innovation and continuity in the company of the gods. If we form the communities to carry these traditions forward, we might be able to share in the glory and celebration of life that once was ours. I am glad and grateful that Meditations Through the Rg Veda was an inspiration to them. But even more so the reiteration that our human makeup is larger, deeper and more full of sensation in the plurality we are than in the oppression of one single language-community-creed.

This is what William Irwin Thompson called, commenting on my work: “the planetization of the esoteric.”

References:

The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination.
by William K. Mahoney , Ph.D.
SUNY Press, Albany N.Y. l998

The New Theogony: Mythology for the Real World.
by Maria M. Colavito, PhD
SUNY Press, Albany, N.Y. l992

The Heresy of Oedipus and The Mind/Mind Split: A Study of the Biocultural Origins of Civilization.
by Maria M. Colavito, PhD
The Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston,N.Y. l995

Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential.
Edited by The Union of International Associations
4th. Edition, K.G. Saur Verlag, Munchen, New Providence,
London, Paris l994-95

The Myth of Invariance: The Origin of the Gods, Mathematics and Music from the Rg Veda to Plato.
by Ernest McClain, Ph.D.
Nicolas-Hays Ltd. N.Y. 1976

The Pythagorean Plato: Prelude to the Song Itself.
by Ernest McClain
Nicolas-Hays Ltd. N.Y. 1978

Meditations Through the Quran: Tonal Images in an Oral Culture.
by Ernest McClain
Nicolas-Hays Ltd. N.Y. 1981

Coming Into Being: Artifacs and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness
by William Irwin Thompson
St. Martin’s Press, New York , 1996. (p.187)


Antonio T. de Nicolas was educated in Spain, India and the United States, and received his Ph.D. in philosophy at Fordham University in New York. He is Professor Emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Dr. de Nicolas is the author of some twenty- seven books, including Avatara: The Humanization of Philosophy through the Bhagavad Gita,a classic in the field of Indic studies; and Habits of Mind, a criticism of higher education, whose framework has recently been adopted as the educational system for the new Russia. He is also known for his acclaimed translations of the poetry of the Nobel Prize-winning author,Juan Ramon Jimenez, and of the mystical writings of St. Ignatius de Loyola and St. John of the Cross.

A philosopher by profession, Dr. de Nicolas confesses that his most abiding philosophical concern is the act of imagining, which he has pursued in his studies of the Spanish mystics, Eastern classical texts, and most recently, in his own poetry.

His books of poetry: Remembering the God to Come, The Sea Tug Elegies, Of Angels and Women, Mostly, and Moksha Smith: Agni’s Warrior-Sage. An Epic of the Immortal Fire, have received wide acclaim. Critical reviewers of these works have offered the following insights:

from, Choice: “…these poems could not have been produced by a mainstream American. They are illuminated from within by a gift, a skill, a mission…unlike the critico-prosaic American norm…”

from The Baltimore Sun: “Steeped as they are in mythology and philosophy these are not easy poems. Nor is de Nicolas an easy poet. He confronts us with the necessity to remake our lives…his poems …show us that we are not bound by rules. Nor are we bound by mysteries. We are bound by love. And therefore, we are boundless”

from William Packard, editor of the New York Quarterly: ” This is the kind of poetry that Plato was describing in his dialogues, and the kind of poetry that Nietzsche was calling for in Zarathustra.”

Professor de Nicolas is presently a Director of the Biocultural Research Institute, located in Florida.

 

Please see my related posts:

 

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Myth of Invariance: Sound, Music, and Recurrent Events and Structures

Sounds True: Speech, Language, and Communication

Mind, Consciousness and Quantum Entanglement

Semiotics, Bio-Semiotics and Cyber Semiotics

Systems and Organizational Cybernetics

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

 

Key sources of Research:

 

 

Meditations Through The Rg Veda: A Retrospective

(Philosophy East and West. Vol.49. Number 2. April 1999)

by Antonio T. de Nicolas, PhD

https://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/i_es/i_es_denic_retrospective_frameset.htm

 

 

 

https://o-meditation.com/2009/11/01/the-four-dimensions-of-man-osho/

 

 

 

Antonio de  Nicolás

http://www.svabhinava.org/hinduchrist/AntonioDeNicolas/index.php