Life and human form


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Life and human form

  1. 1. Chapter 3- Section 2- Life And Its Human FormThis journey begins in the objectively verified world described by the most basic tenetsof science. I am taking science as my starting point since it has the widest and mostconsistent foundation in observations of the world as we find it. Its broadaccomplishments are generally unassailable. Therefore, it is assumed that the physicalworld that science has described is obviously self-evident.The first assumption that informs a proper understanding of this world is that there arethree aspects to understanding phenomena: structure, process, and pattern. I am going tobe proposing that our human form is unique because we experience narrative structurethat manifests as a pattern of identity through the meaning making process.A new concept of self is implied by this proposition in which experience is viewed as aby-product of subtle forces that interact with reality rather than a direct apprehension of apre-existing reality. What we can share with each other of our experiences makes up thenarrative world.Narrative is a universal human trait. As a practitioner of a discipline, a member of acommunity, a student of a topic, or an expert in a subject, I am fundamentally aparticipant in a shared narrative regarding the objective world that constitutes thatdiscipline, community, topic or subject. As an educator, on the other hand, I am notprimarily concerned with the objective world of the given narrative, but with thesubjective world of that narrative. My job is to help my students to create a subjectiveexperience that allows them to participate meaningfully in the narrative of whatever
  2. 2. topic, subject, community, or discipline I am sharing as a teacher. (Obviously, discerningrelevance requires participation in the narrative, therefore, an educator must have at leastminimal expertise and/or familairity with the appropriate narrative in order to do theirjob.)The objective world and the subjective narrative are interdependent within humanexperience. The objective world outside of human experience is presumably indifferent tothe narrative world and conversely subjective narratives can be indifferent to theobjective world, as well. Despite the capability of divorcing our narratives from reality,most of us, most of the time, are actively interacting with the objective world as wegenerate narratives of our experience.The river of life is the flow of experiences and those experiences all have commmonaspects of structure, process, and pattern. Understanding the river of life meansunderstanding the interactions of the different aspects and ideally being able to create amodel of those interactions that can help us make accurate predictions regarding thatexperiential world.There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy,Horatio.William Shakespeare, HamletThere has arisen in this world a group of people who claim to know the world in all itsdiversity of forms. An extreme scientistic point of view claims to know the real worldand that existence beyond that world is an illusion. There is another group of people whoclaim to have experienced the unity of all possible existence. An extreme spiritual pointof view claims knowledge of the reality of pure existence and that the world is anillusion. These groups seem to be continuously in conflict and occaisonally vie forcontrol of important social institutions.The river of life is the flow of experience. Everyone in the debate about what is real andwhat is illusion have something of value to contribute, if for no other reason than theyhave experienced a flow of events throughout their own lives. Given only a unity ofexistence there is no reason to privilege one flow of experiences over another. Thechallenge here is to have a unified method of describing that flow and its characteristictwists, turns, rapids and falls. With a unified method of description we could see whereeach flow of experiences has gone and thereby determine the validity of each of theirclaims relative to the others claims (and any other flows of experience.) This would notbe a determination of any objective truth or falsity, but rather a relative determination ofwhy one claim is consistent with a particular type of flow of experiences which is invalidfrom the perspective of a different flow of experiences.The physical world is the completely uncontroversial world that the most basic sciencesdescribe and everyone can agree upon, although I am insisting that proper understandingmust integrate all three factors of structure, process, and pattern. I have relied on Fritjof
  3. 3. Capras definition of life from his book The Web Of Life. I accept that the three factors are obviously fundamental regardless of whether the precise definitions are exactly correct. I also assume that they do not represent distinct and clearly differentiated aspects; they are, in fact, aspects of an inseparable unity that are only distinguishable due to some artifact of our abilities to observe, understand and then describe to each other our observations and understandings. The whirlpool is a non-living dissipative structure. Dissipative structures are a special kind of structure that consists of a flow of material rather than a static unchanging mass of material which we commonly think of when we discuss structure. The whirlpool is a structure that is generated by the spontaneous interaction of liquid material that has encountered certain conditions wherein the energy of a random flow becomes spontaneously organized, and thus structured, to more efficiently dissipate the energy of the flow. The system can be described as materially open, because the structure is entirely dependent on the continuous movement of material through the system, unlike the material machine system of say a bulldozer. The open system transforms energy, whereas the closed system stores it. The material machine structure relies on a static, unchanging set of material components. A living system is a particular kind of open system that transforms the flow of not only material, but information, as well. The fanciful picture of gears turning in a persons head is a metaphor for a complex process that scientists now attribte to all living things. Cognition is the ability to intelligently react and structurally adapt to changing conditions in order to preserve existence. Even the most primitive single celled organisms have this ability which entirely eludes all non-living things. The cognitive process involves interaction with the environment in order to detect and subsequently act in response to conditions that threaten the existence of the organism. The actions of living systems are not only behvioral, but also structural. This is not the traditional idea of neurological brain activity as cognition, but a broader concept that includes all intelligent behavior in response to environmental condtions. For instance, even the amoeba, which has no nervous system is able to react intelligently to changes in its environment, including making structural changes. The cognitive process guides the embodiment of the dissipative structure by way of the autopoietic pattern. Life is defined by its ability to participate in its own creation. Just like in the M.C. Escher drawing in which two hands seem to reach out from the page in order to draw each other, living organisms play an important role in maintaining their own continued existence. topPrevious The New 3Rs Book Proposal Next The New 3Rs: Respect, Responsibility, And Resourcefulness
  4. 4. Fore Word Chapter 1- Chapter 2- Chapter 4- Chapter 5-Mapping the River: The Titanic: Chapter 3- Thriving On A Life The Watercourse Understanding The Our Scientific/ Global Cartography: Boat: Way: Challenge Industrial Heritage Addressing The Making Narrative The Story Of Subjective Challenge Choices In Techno- Navigation On The Mechanical Reality River Of Life Section 2- Section 3- Section 4- Section 5- The Living World The Narrator The Self Illusions Subsection 1- The Human World Aft Word -->