Archive for the ‘Other ways of knowing: are there?’ Category

Darwin in Chile

February 20, 2010

Mr Charles Darwin spent considerable time in Chile (1835) where he experienced a 8.5 earthqueake in Concepcion, a chain of formidable volcanic eruptions and crossed the Andes walking  to Argentina, and back, at Santiago latitude (~35 S)!!. The only other person I know walked the Andes is Dr John Rombold, a professor at Northwest Indian College, my former employer (sic). He used to be, Mr Rombold, a good friend. I watched a decent docudrama narrating -Mr Darwins- adventures in Chile  in the international Chilean TVN signal (dishnetwork) lead by Dr Purto, a respected mountaineer of Everest fame. Many events were reported by Mr Darwin while in Chile. He did 1/3 0r 1/4 of Chile by land. My favourite report  is his narrative of the astonishing rate of growth of the chilean giant barnacle: austromegabalanus psittacus (in Coquimbo, which you can find, if I am not mistaken in his cirripedia compendium)

When we opened our eyes, did we know we were, and were here?? always and never

January 17, 2010

I’m asking those questions because  I’m considering “consciousness”-as the seat of humankind- but will take the poetic detour, which is convenient and by the way, “consciousness” still being a “mistery”-scientifically- it can be claimed beyond a reasonable doubt that poetry can solve-or dissolve- the science of consciousness and make the idea more amenable, or interesting. Nor that we have a Cultural neuroscience field of study, my days as my own private subjective self are numbered.

Lets start somewhere: Vicente Huidobro, a chilean poet, published, in 1916  “Adan“-spanish for Adam:-)”, (ADAN reads NADA in reverse: Nothing, what a bummer) where he pushes with  his “creationist’ agenda-made explicit in “Non serviam”, a manifesto where he proclaimed humans’ independence-at least the poet’s independence- from mother nature.  Adan is  in essence a dramatization of the book of Genesis as a-scientific-myth-according to Jose Quiroga from Georgetown, but it  has NOTHING to do with God , nor with ‘creationism” in its neodarwinian sense.  Huidobro places as a decisive turn in Creation the moment Adan wakes up  from his primeval dream. Before he wakes up there is nothing to consider.  As he wakes up, mother nature: outside from the start, becomes severed from inside: “self, conciousness”. Hence, existencial angst forever. An collectively we never went back.

“”……….Y en medio de los dos grandes silencios                            Between the two cosmic silences
……….de la tierra y el cielo,                                                                  of heavens and earth
……….eternamente cara a cara,                                                          face to face, eternally
……….Adán enorme y solo se elevaba                                             Raises Adan, enormous and alone
215…..mudo como una estatua,                                                         mute as a statue””

This,  is becoming conscious; we severe ourselves, trough consciousness from the outside, through a powerful independence movement: “Non serviam….you mother…. nature”. Mutely. It should be pointed out that it is suggested that language is not a precondition to be conscious (Cristoff & Tononi, among others have written extensively about the physical underpinnings). Which Im not sure if it will stand the test of further work: in my rationale it is hard to imagine consciousness as I experience it without language. It is interesting to consider that speech->language emerged from selves networking. When Adan emerges from the clay,  everything resolves unto itself, blessing him, later,  with the meaning of the words that quicken his independence from the landscape. No longer humans are part of it. When Eve wakes up he tells her. A very unpopular event with feminists.

Later I quoted;  “Original man, shouting his consonants, did so in yells of awe and anger at his tragic state, at his own self-awareness and at his own helplessness before the void…” Barnett Newman, 1947, The first man was an artist. The Tigers’ Eye. N.8. So, here we have the first H. sapiens waking up. And the convergence with Huidobros’ take is remarkable. It begs the question: could H.sapiens ancestors do the same manouver, that is, know they are and dont know where? I doubt it. Could H. habilis, erectus, heidelbergensis have sapiens consciousness? Probably not. The idea that self-awareness and consciousness are a quantum leap in human history, that is emerged with sapiens,  is appealing to me. I cant imagine a lower-in height, not in quality_ consciousness “level” asking and feeling the same way. Although there is some conflicting  reserch about this, it seems that you are conscious or not, which sounds kind of funky.

Luisa Damiano: Unita in Dialogo

January 13, 2010

i have been re-reading the italian edition-the only one I am aware- of Luisas’ surprising book. The reason I do say ‘surprising’ is because her book weaves across impossible biological scales nurturing a better-newer-understanding of living systems acting on their behalf on this universe and a revised way of looking at cognition-a general biological phenomenon -not circumscribed to frontal lobes, but circumscribed to a distinction between inside/outside by a membrane. ..the hand that draws the line. More to follow. I promise

After a hiatus, a propos ways of knowing.

October 3, 2009

Been pondering and catching up, several are mad at me for my unwavering service to the true meaning of words: case in point “prediction”, but cranky old scientists argue: it is just semantics!! to what I answer: precisely!! old crank, the rest is commentary. Been reading all the excitement about the “human”: Ardi,  well at least, hominin, who has been the center of gravity, or levity, and mistery for 14 years. Most blogs and publications, sad to witness spew so much vitriol regarding the publications, 11 in science, a TV show this sunday and front pages in most of the world. Are scientists a nasty subset or are we all the same?

C.G.Jung, DeLoria Jr., and the Sioux traditions a propos a posting by Dr. Coyne Sept 8 in his blog

September 11, 2009

Sept 8, JC posted the question : “How many “ways of knowing” are there? alluding to a talk by E  Scott from the National Center for Science Education.  Here is the first paragraph: “ I’ve become rather ambivalent about Eugenie Scott — and, indeed, about some of the policies of the organization she heads, the National Center for Science Education.  On the one hand…Scott is a really nice person (I and, more important, she and the NCSE have done absolutely terrific — and award-winning — work battling creeping creationism in America.  The NCSE’s intercession in the Dover intelligent-design trial, for example, was critical in the victory (sic). But Scott also travels around giving strongly accommodationist talks, reflecting the NCSE’s policy that science and religion, when properly conceived, are harmonious.  This is, of course, the NOMA stance. (THIS IS WRONG). “The NCSE has made a tactical decision that selling evolution is most efficacious if you proclaim — never mind what you really think — that religion and science are compatible, occupying their own magisteria”. The “NOMA” stance is SJ Gould non-overlapping magisteria, a perfectly sensible idea AND by definition NOT harmonious: there is nothing to harmonize;  everybody makes the same mistake in the US. The following is via Metamagician and the Hellfire Club, Russell Blackfor, a particular strong kind of acid: “In any event, it was the first part of the speech that worried me. This emphasised the claim that science (Scott said “science”, not “reason”) is only one way of knowing. The others that she mentioned were personal insight and authority (I don’t think she was saying that these three are the only “ways of knowing”)….. She counted revelation, including the words of holy books, as a sub-set of authority, and explained that the problem is when empirical claims are based on revelation. Scott also said that science is a limited way of knowing because it can only investigate natural phenomena and can only offer natural explanations for them, and so cannot deal with supernatural claims” end of quote. This gentleman launches a blitzkrieg against the Catholic church in this issue.
Back to JC: “This is what i suggest is important: It’s perfectly clear by now that neither Scott nor the NCSE will ever deal with the ideas that 1) the other “ways of knowing” don’t produce truth, 2) science can indeed address the supernatural, at least some aspects of it, and 3) a lot of people DO NOT find science and faith compatible”

I wont quote the whole haggis, but i would like to consider a few “angles” ( like j. turturro playing scumbag asking: whats your angle? there is no angle! etc).  So in summary, according to E. Scott: science is a-one-way of kowing, personal insight and authority, other forms of knowing. Authority as in the case of written bibles, talmuds, oriental texts, codices so forth. I suggest this whole discussion is set on wrong “theorems” and confusion about NOMA. This is the link to SJ Gould original delightful posting of the NOMA:   In key paragraphs SJG writes: “…..Evolution has encountered no intellectual trouble; no new arguments have been offered. Creationism is a homegrown phenomenon of American sociocultural history—a splinter movement (unfortunately rather more of a beam these days) of Protestant fundamentalists who believe that every word of the Bible must be literally true, whatever such a claim might mean” AND  “The text of Humani Generis focuses on the magisterium (or teaching authority) of the Church—a word derived not from any concept of majesty or awe but from the different notion of teaching, for magister is Latin for “teacher.” We may, I think, adopt this word and concept to express the central point of this essay and the principled resolution of supposed “conflict” or “warfare” between science and religion. No such conflict should exist because each subject has a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority—and these magisteria do not overlap (the principle that I would like to designate as NOMA, or “nonoverlapping magisteria”). The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for starters, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty). To cite the arch cliches, we get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven”.  The no-spin zone. How many arguments would be dead  in 2 seconds if people only read the original sources?  

In p. 83 of Vine Deloria Jr., posthumous book : C.GJung and the Sioux Traditions that was published this past summer, he quotes CG Jung: “The native primitive-American indians, but Jung means innocent-doesnt believe, he knows”, because the inner experience rightly means as much to him-her-as outer..[experience]”. So..there. This  is  the moment in history in which belief and knoweldge are identical. This is what Indians call Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge-TEK and more . All is ecology for tribes, thence and now, everywhere in the world. This is a way of knowing. Lets leave it here.

Piet Hut, Princeton, has been asking for a long time ” What else is True?” and also about Others way of knowing: although i dont agree with all what Piet suggests, his deep insight becomes a handle to intiate an exploration inside and outside from sources of knowledge, not necessarily bound by experimental confirmation. But this IS not knowledge-belief-from revelation.  It is first and third person coming to know.  To end:  Dr. George F.R. Ellis from South Afrika has published some beautiful work regarding aspects of others ways of knowing. Will comment later