KARL JASPERS FORUM
TA 108 (Green)
Commentary 6 (to C5, McCard)
REVOLUTION FOR SURVIVAL
by Joseph S. Johnson
21 June 2008, posted 28 June 2008
[JMc] “At my comment at TA107, I situated consciousness within the action of energy. You seem to assume consciousness is fundamental. How do you distinguish consciousness and energy?”
<JJ> The materialist view is to insist that what is objective, measurable, is fundamental; that anything else, including consciousness is an epiphenomenon of energy. But objective science has no explanation for creativity; why energy exists rather than not, while our subjectivity, our consciousness, appears to be the source of our creativity, where creativity is defined as phenomena that have no objective explanation. In other words, while consciousness resists objective definition it is more fundamental than energy which consciousness ‘uses’ to sustain itself in endlessly creative ways. Thus, energy as a quantifiable phenomenon, and its constructs, are the epiphenomena of consciousness, not the other way around. That is the revolution to be recognized. As to defining consciousness, it can only be said that no finite definition is possible. We might try “that which is creative,” but however we define it, new experience will always introduce ambiguity, conflict and/or paradox, requiring redefinition, including occasional revolution in our thinking, essential to our species long-term survival. The objectivist view seeks to define Truth and Reality, with survival presumed nothing more than a matter of technology, while the subjectivist view seeks survival through choices coherent with the structure of natural order.
Why is it important to recognize that subjectivity/consciousness is more fundamental than objective experience ? It is because it implies that the process structure of natural order is deeper than the content of natural laws. Our evolved neural faculties for perceiving “similar differences and different similarities” (Bohm) give us access to the hierarchic structuring of both natural law (objective experience) and natural order (subjective experience); complements of a unitary and coherent hierarchic structure defined by the rules of abstraction theory (AT). At the interface between objective and subjective theory found in the’ big bang’ metaphor, we find that the entire body of conservation laws that constrain the expression of all natural forces are particulars of ‘symmetry.’ AT tells us that if symmetry is an abstract of conservation law, it must also be a particular of still higher, more inclusive abstracts of natural order such as aesthetics. It is no coincidence that the evolved neural faculties of the dominant species include the above capacities for analysis and synthesis as well as aesthetic sensibilities and relevant emotions that tend to direct our more constructive choices for reasons we call love. Of course this was an early intuition resulting in the monotheistic religions.
Here is another example of the same conditioned response of materialism. The July issue of “Scientific American” (p.98) reviews a new book by S. A. Kauffman: “Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion”. He writes: “. . . Is it, then, more amazing to think that an Abrahamic transcendent, omnipotent, omniscient God created everything around us . . .in six days, or that it all arose with no transcendent Creator God, all on its own? I believe the latter is so stunning, so overwhelming, so worthy of awe, gratitude, and respect, that it is God enough for many of us. God a fully natural God, is the very creativity in the universe. . . .”
<JJ: Here, he introduces a ‘natural God,’ a term he uses to take away the sense of subjectivity implied by creativity and reduce the notion to the objective realm even though objective theory has no explanation for creativity. He continues - >
“It is this view that I hope can be shared across all our religious traditions, embracing those like myself who do not believe in a creator God, as well as those who do. . . This view is not as great a departure from Abrahamic thought as we might suppose. Some Jesuit cosmologists look out into the vast universe and reason that God cannot know, from multiple possibilities, where life will arise . . . Such a God is a generator God who does not know or control what thereafter occurs in the universe. Such a view is not utterly different from one in which God is our honored name for the creativity in the natural universe itself.”
Again, Kauffman seems to fault the concept of God as a subjective entity, complaining that God could not know where or when life and its creativity would emerge as though ‘where or when’ would matter. Is that a flaw ? In other words, why create a creative universe and a creative agency if one (God) is pleased with eternal sameness and predictability ? Creation, the cosmic creative imperative, would seem to imply nothing less than a deliberate flight from eternal sameness, i.e. predictability, into eternal novelty. Imagine consciousness trying to survive eternal sameness or utter predictability. Most people think of that proposition as the feared condition of death. What God planned on is that life would arise and evolve somewhere; it mattered not where (in a nonlocal reality, after all), or as Green puts it, consciousness is a universal. God established the rules of the game such that the role of chance was essentially the final assembly process, simply realizing the inherent probabilities until such time as the subject agent emerged and took local creativity to a whole new level of novelty; novel systems with virtually limitless emergent properties to sustain and spread the diversity of the creative subject agency.
In spite of the fact that neither Kauffman nor anyone else can explain creation, he takes the created world to be more fundamental than its creation. This is the irrational conditioned response of the materialist. Again, energy and its constructs are the epiphenomena of consciousness, not the other way around. That is the revolution. As to defining consciousness, it can only be said that no finite definition is possible. However we define it, new experience will always introduce ambiguity, conflict and/or paradox, requiring redefinition, a broader definition to include more general experience.
Today, we face just such a need for revolution in recognition of the fact that survival of the species is now less an objective problem than a subjective one of achieving coherence and consensus on subjective values throughout the species. To this end, it is essential to recognize the deeper subjective structure of natural order relating the abstracts of symmetry with our aesthetic sensibilities of coherence, balance, harmony, etc. and their constructive emotions such as love, the Golden Rule, etc., that define survivable choices. What materialism with its guns and bombs cannot accomplish, love can. Shock and awe do not define a survivable path. Again, survival of the species is now less an objective problem than one of achieving coherence and consensus on subjective values throughout our species. Recognition and study of natural order will support the effort.
Joseph S. Johnson
e-mail <jsjnson (at) comcast.net>