Posts Tagged cultural relativity
Occupy Science … A Call for a Scientific Awakening: In Tossing Away Our Species Blinders, We Approach a Truth Far Beyond Science
Only by Leaving Can a Fish Know It Lives in Water: Biologically Constituted Realities Summary and A Call to End Science’s Culture War
What I’m saying in this part is that basically our sciences have shown they can not determine what is real, let alone measure it, because they are extensions of our senses which are themselves imperfect. So we cannot really know what is real. Further, we find that just as culture creates our reality for us, that prior to that our biology creates the reality upon which culture can build. This means that we are able to understand what is human reality at least, though not ultimate reality, by looking at the only reality that all humans share—our biological one.
We will see shortly that means that the way we come into the world—our conception, womb life, and birth—create the foundations upon which all our other perceptions are built, and these being unique to humans mean that humans will be the only species seeing the world exactly the way we do.
Further, while focusing on our biology as a basis for understanding what is fundamental about humanness, we are able to compare cultures in relation to that biology, though not in any other way. What we will see this means is that while we cannot compare cultures for the most part—this is called cultural relativity—we can compare them in terms of certain things all cultures share which have to do with the fact that all humans have the same kind of body and biological history: an example of that would be the way cultures deal with birth, specifically the pain of it.
“Ultimately our physics . . . is going to demonstrate that essentially there is no such thing as matter. All there is is mind and motion.” – Armand Labbe
You cannot convince a fish it lives in water. You can only give the fish the experience of being in air; then it will understand.
Our combined efforts in psychology, physics, biology, and anthropology have led us to an impasse. We have been led to conclude that our view of reality is symbolic. We have learned, above all, not what to know, but that we know not . . . i.e., that we are incapable of truly knowing.
So, if we can’t know, why then bother to know anything? We seek to know because it is useful to our biological survival to know. That which we “know,” in our most refined science and in our daily lives, is that which is, or has been, in some way useful to the biological existence of our species.
Each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet
When this is reversed by various methods, and the brain is itself inhibited from its task of reducing awareness so that “Mind at Large seeps past the no longer watertight valve, all kinds of biologically useless things start to happen.”
“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is … infinite.” – William Blake
Our sciences have led us to learn that what we call reality is what we have found to be useful for us as a species, but that it is not necessarily what is True and is certainly not all that is true or real. So we find that the Reality of It All or the All That Is gets reduced down from what it is to the snippet of it that we have found to be biologically useful.
But if we wish to know not merely what is practical but what is actually True or Reality, we need to go way beyond the smattering of facts thrown up by our ordinary senses and the sciences that are extensions of them. There are levels of that diminution of Reality—from All That Is down through what the individual knows to be true. So to know what is True, we need to reverse those reductions in true understanding.
We find that in doing this reversal, some startling things are revealed. For example, from the perspective of each greater awareness, each more limited perspective becomes understandable and the different ones of those perspectives can be compared. For example, it is difficult for one individual to truly understand another. However, standing within a knowledge of psychology in general we have a better understanding of another and we can compare one individual’s reality with another and come up with meaningful and true conclusions, even comparisons and evaluations. That is, indeed, why we have the science of psychology in the first place.
But at the level of cultures, a similar thing happens. Anthropologists come necessarily to the conclusion that another culture cannot truly be understood by someone standing in a different culture. Just as one individual cannot exactly understand another’s reality, it is even more impossible for someone from one culture to be able to truly view the world through the lenses or worldview of those born into another culture.
However, here again, we can have a better understanding of each culture and can even compare cultures somewhat when coming from the perspective of our common human biology. For all cultures have to relate to the nature of our body and its abilities, senses, and capabilities. All cultures make constructions about, around, and from the particular biological frame that humans have, so cultures can be compared at least in relation to those commonalities of humans. This means more than just that cultures can be compared in relation to biological realities like birth and death, for it is even important and instructive to compare them to more basic realities of human biology such as pain, pleasure, happiness, liberty, and so on. All humans feel and have concepts about these things. However, we see how non-absolute these realities are as soon as we look at the realities or consciousness of life forms other than human. Can we truly say that a lizard has a concept about liberty or happiness? Can we say that an amoeba or bacteria feels freedom or the lack of it.
It follows that to understand truth beyond our biologically constituted realities … to be able to get an idea of what reality might be for entities and life in general and not just humans, we would need to stand inside a paradigm of understanding that would apply to all species—both known and unknown. We would need to take a stance on the foundation of a trans-species perspective—that is, what is true for all species, not just humans. This is what science says it is attempting to do, but it actually does not. Because we have found out that sciences can only look in areas that we as humans ahead of time have an idea that something might be. In other words, science is an extension of our senses. So to do more, we have to expand our imagination to include what might be the perspectives of other species … other planetmates. This is what we our doing with our planetmate consciousness … our Planetmate Views. It is what The Great Reveal is all about.
But, you say, how can we do that? How can we know the way another being or life form, other than human, might view Reality? We can’t. But the point is we are more likely to come up with something truer than what we already know when we at least try to do that. And trying to do that means starting with dropping the presupposition, the arrogance, that humans have a superior and more real understanding of Reality. And when we do that, simply that alone, we already find we have a much expanded understanding of what is really Real. For even what we are able to know about other species shows us some of the ways they see things differently than us. So simply by not assuming we are the pinnacle of creation and acknowledging that, for example, a dog really does have more accurate smelling ability and an eagle a greater ability to see, and imagining what that would mean for us or keeping that in mind, we come to an appreciation of ourselves as a part of Nature, not a ruler of Nature; just as in our understandings of the realities-subjectivities-feelings of other humans led us to know that we are not rulers of other people; just as our understanding of other cultures have led us to know that one culture is not better, superior to, or more dominant over another.
The conclusions from all this understanding is that our sciences are important in establishing facts and reality, but the ones they come up with are only relative to our species, not necessarily to any other species, and not necessarily do they give us a true idea of What Really Is.
You think this is irrelevant to know? Well, to give just one example, think of all our forays into space and our imaginings of other beings from other than this planet. If you take the perspective that I am encouraging here, you will notice how astoundingly naïve are our expectations and how crude the instruments we use to detect other life forms. For they all are built on an expectation of finding beings that are at least somewhat like ourselves. You say, no, our scientists aren’t assuming other beings of high consciousness would look like us. But you should know I mean that in our scientists saying what are the building blocks of life–water, and so on–they are showing a bias about “life” that it is something like what we know. Notice also that even the idea that a “higher” level of consciousness itself has its roots in this idea that a human consciousness is superior to other kinds we know of.
So these assumptions built into our science are laughable in their arrogance. Meanwhile, in understanding how limited and relative is our human perspective, we are able to imagine other possibilities for life and its variations. We begin to approach the perspectives of mystics. We begin to understand how it is not outside the realm of possibility that even what we consider non-life and inanimate to be somehow conscious or a form of consciousness, even if we cannot call it “life”—which is, we see now, itself part of our limited species interpretation.
So, in tossing away our species blinders, we approach a truth far beyond science, though not overturning science. What Is ends up not, as fundamentalists might think, opposed to science, rather inclusive of science … but including so, so much more. And in doing this we see that it is the mystics and the consciousness researchers who are likely to have the most accurate angle on Reality.
Ultimately this means that now that we know that common sense materialism is simply a biological construct of the species human, we can relearn that it is Consciousness that is our only knowable Reality, but also that it is Infinite, yes, but Fantastic as well.
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” Albert Einstein
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.” Albert Einstein (1945)
It is the so called “anomalies” of science that hold the keys to the reality that lies beyond science. Looking at them we see a pattern upon which to stand in bringing together the different viewpoints or paradigms that are not reconcilable otherwise. These different viewpoints are the different scientific ones and the different cultural ones as well as the different biological ones—that is, the perspectives or views of different species… the different planetmate views.
The anomalies that we have found to have the most potential for aiding us in this venture to a greater paradigm or framework within which to comprehend all these smaller views are those that have come out of consciousness research. This comes from scientific as well as spiritual sources. It is often experientially based, though it is hardly just anecdotal since these reports are replicatable and verifiable and they are often and can easily be collected and collated scientifically.
These scientific approaches to what were once in the realm of just the spiritual or religious are going on more now than ever before in the history of the world. Whether from fields of the new physics, the new biology, or the consciousness branches of psychology and anthropology, they are uncovering more new formerly inexplicable data of events that have heretofore been beyond the views of our sciences and beyond our common sense materialism—our world of “brute facts,” which we have found are not incontestable at all but are only solidly true in relation to the fact that we are of the species of humans.
We have found that these new facts are not as biologically irrelevant as was assumed by us, however. In fact, the survival of our species and indeed of the life on our planet probably depend upon us incorporating this information into a newer and more comprehensive understanding of reality. Fortunately the construction of this new framework is being carried out. And it and its implications are astounding, revelatory, and revolutionary in all respects imaginable. This new revolutionary model is unveiled in more detail in this article.
The crises of our time, it becomes increasingly clear, are the necessary impetus for the revolution now under way. And once we understand nature’s transformative powers, we see that it is our powerful ally, not a force to feared our subdued. —Thomas Kuhn
The political and social revolutions, which we are seeing erupt around the world from Arab Springs to American Autumns and in global Occupy movements, have been going on more quietly and for a longer time in our sciences. Indeed, it may be said that to some extent this scientific Awakening preceded and precipitated the social one.
Still—although our very survival depends on a paradigm change, or shift—it is being resisted mightily by our communities of scientific researchers. This Scientific Awakening is as much a threat to the corporate hegemony over modern culture as is the social and political Awakenings. There has been as much a battle in science over the last fifty years—a scientific culture war, if you will—as there has been the one in our societies around the world … and for the same reasons. Paradigm shift threatens the status quo; it is seen to have the potential to upset the traditional and engrained financial structures and the social stratification built upon them. That is, this scientific culture war is also class war in disguise.
But scientists and intellectuals are as much a product of an old paradigm even when they propose to not be. So often they miscategorize new developments in their fields within old outdated dualistic frames. In particular they see the findings of consciousness research and misconstrue it as being within the old science-religion debates and struggles. So they are as unable to see old paradigm influences on themselves and are as clueless in moving beyond them as are their counterparts in the social and political arenas, where not just old paradigm right wing folks are blind to the messages of the Awakening but even many traditional liberals are unable to see past their traditional ways of categorizing to understand the message and import of the new paradigm social and political movements of Occupy and Arab Spring. So they misunderstand the Occupy movement’s multi-messages and calls for complete re-visioning as being no message. And they misconstrue the new paradigm uprisings for freedom and justice throughout the world and especially in the Arab world in the tired old terminologies of economics and imperialism. They misconstrue heartfelt aspirations for a global coming together and unity of humanity in old paradigm New World Order terms. They misunderstand new paradigm seekings for consciousness change and revolution using old-paradigm, medieval even, illuminati concepts.
This is a call for sciences to allow themselves to let go of old ways and embrace new visions. In the past, it has taken centuries, at times, for these paradigm shifts to happen. Societies have had to wait, and entire generations have needed to die off before people could enjoy the freedom of being released from old bindings of thought and could realize the benefits of new revelations. We do not have that kind of time right now. This new paradigm, gestating within the scientific community for fifty or so years previous, erupted into the global consciousness fifty years ago with the social and cultural revolutions of the Sixties. They have done battle within scientific communities as well as in the society at large, and in the same way have been beaten back to the peripheries by the overwhelming power of the entrenched interests.
But entire generations have left the scene by now. New generations seeded with the new paradigm visions rained upon them by elder veterans of the culture war and enjoying fruits of wisdom plucked from an ongoing though less visible counterculture born in those times have arisen. So, the time is ripe.
The change is necessary. We can no longer afford to hesitate. The time for the Scientific Awakening is now.
It is, I think, particularly in periods of acknowledged crisis that scientists have turned to philosophical analysis as a device for unlocking the riddles of their field. Scientists have not generally needed or wanted to be philosophers. —Thomas Kuhn
The historian of science may be tempted to claim that when paradigms change, the world itself changes with them. Led by a new paradigm, scientists adopt new instruments and look in new places. even more important, during revolutions, scientists see new and different things when looking with familiar instruments in places they have looked before. It is rather as if the professional community had been suddenly transported to another planet where familiar objects are seen in a different light and are joined by unfamiliar ones as well. —Thomas Kuhn
‘Normal’ science, in Kuhn’s sense, exists. It is the activity of the non-revolutionary, or more precisely, the not-too-critical professional: of the science student who accepts the ruling dogma of the day… in my view the ‘normal’ scientist, as Kuhn describes him, is a person one ought to be sorry for… He has been taught in a dogmatic spirit: he is a victim of indoctrination… I can only say that I see a very great danger in it and in the possibility of its becoming normal… a danger to science and, indeed, to our civilization. And this shows why I regard Kuhn’s emphasis on the existence of this kind of science as so important. — Karl Raimund Popper
Well-established theories collapse under the weight of new facts and observations which cannot be explained, and then accumulate to the point where the once useful theory is clearly obsolete.
[Using Thomas S. Kuhn’s theories to frame his argument about the relationship between science and technology: as new facts continue to accumulate, a new, more accurate paradigm must replace the old one.] — Al Gore
Continue with “Consciousness Is the Source of the Cosmos” … Physical Reality Is Metaphor: The Era of “Rational” Man Is Over, A Primal Return Has Begun
Return to Why We Know Not and A Call to Know Instead: Beyond “Flat Earth” Materialism—Scientific Awakening Is as Crucial for Paradigm Shift as is the Social and Political Awakenings
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