Torus, Time-Space, and Themes of History: A Doughnutology?

Which immediately reminded me of this:

"The re-appearance of cyclical theories in contemporary thought is pregnant with meaning. Incompetent as we are to pass judgment upon their validity, we shall confine ourselves to observing that the formulation, in modern times, of an archaic myth betrays at least the desire to find a meaning and a transhistorical justification for historical events. (p. 147)…
“It is not our part to decide whether such motives were puerile or not, or whether such a refusal of history always proved efficacious. In our opinion, only one fact counts: by virtue of this [transhistorical or ‘origin-time’] view, tens of millions of men [humans] were able, for century after century, to endure great historical pressures without despairing, without committing suicide or falling into that spiritual aridity that always brings with it a relativistic or nihilistic view of history.” (p. 152)
(In the unlikely event anyone here has not come across Mircea Eliade, his short and interesting Cosmos and History (1954/1959) is available as a pdf.)

The paradox of pattern recognition in the inherently unrepeatable flow of events is of course the long-standing problem in the philosophy of history. As Eliade points out here, at the level of the culture/civilization (and probably the family and individual as well) neither a refusal to use patterns nor a rejection of ‘past-in-motion’ (i.e., the opening the mythical circle) works as a foundation of meaning without significant drawbacks. Geoffrey Edwards’ point above about our physical and psychological need on this scale for “objects” is related to this. There are indeed consequences for seeing our world as “infinitely manipulable” when we ourselves (species) will not be here that long. The trick is incorporating the paradox into our plans for what can be manipulated.

And then if each singularity, in its own way, brings forth an eternal return… :thinking:

The notion that I have successfully been snuck up on crossed my mind yesterday. But I’ll wait until after Globes to admit it or not. (LOL!)


Just a quick question that struck me while reading this:

Is a one-time event a singularity? Or, is it simply an event that occurred once as far as the observers (perhaps also experiencers) are concerned?

Maybe because it is a most often, or generally, think of a singularity in contrast to multiplicity (the one-and-the-many problematic).


:rofl: Yeah, back at you:

I’m aware the term “Singularity” originally refers to a hypothetical point when artificial intelligence “takes over” by becoming for all intents and purposes self-improving if not actually self-aware.
For this discussion, since in one sense events seem to be unrepeatable in spacetime - hence “everything” could be seen as a singularity - but in another sense it would literally take forever to prove that history doesn’t or hasn’t or isn’t “now” :exploding_head: repeating itself… I dunno…

(Aw dang! Hey, Marco, is there a way to fix that title to “-ology” ?! Sigh… Never have an epiphany and try to write intelligibly at the same time, folks! :grin:)


Hmm … I kinda like “doughnutolgy” … it’s something I can definitely relate to. For the longest time, I thought that was how the suffix was actually spelled. :wink:

Now, I hope you don’t think I was just rattling your chain, but “singularity” is one of those words that has been popping up just enough lately to make aware of the fact that it was popping up a lot. You weren’t using it so, but in some contexts I’m getting the impression that it is encroaching upon the notion “unique”, which has sort of been blathered out of the way. I mean once we found out that we’re all unique, just like everybody else, it lost some of its glamor, and, let’s face it, “singularity” has a much sexier ring to it.

There are, of course, potentials for singularities in different domains. AI is the technological singularity, as you point out. Black holes are astronomical singularities. A mathematical singularity is when a given mathematical object is not defined, or a point of an exceptional set where it fails to be well-behaved in some particular way. I suppose it is not unreasonable to suspect that there might be such a thing as an historical singularity, as well, though seeing how so much of what happens in history falls under the heading of not-being-very-well-behaved, we probably need to tighten up the criteria there.

The most general definition I’ve noted is a situation or condition in which some property suddenly goes infinite. Good ol’ D45 could push the button, at that would most likely be seen as a one-time event, unless of course there was some left around to prove that his ignorance or stupidity suddenly went infinite … then we could consider it a singularity, I guess. Not that it would be of any real value to know there was box we could have put the event in.

The Big Bang, if you believe in that sort of thing – @Geoffreyjen_Edwards pointed out that there are different hypotheses on the market in regard to this event that would disagree with me here – could qualify, don’t you think? In some quarters, G-d is considered a singularity, which certainly has more far-reaching consequences than, say, Mr. Sloterdijk’s ruminations on the Trinity or whatever.

OK, I’m seeing now that I had my too-focused blinders on again. There are obviously more types of singularity than I was perceiving, which made this a good exercise in horizon-expansion. Thanks for the nudge.

As for the technological singularity that some are hypothsizing: well, I think I’ll not hold my breath on that one. Machines becoming conscious? I dunno. Seems a bit far-fetched. What I find even more fascinating though is that our mainstream materialist science considers consciousness a freak of nature; something that never should have happened, but did; a kind of miracle, which is all the more surprising coming from folks who deny miracles; and now a whole bunch of them are hypothesizing that this miracle is going to happen again. I guess the lesson here is to never underestimate the power of belief, eh?

But thanks for keeping me sweating the details. It’s the best way I know to avoid the big stuff, which generally just makes my brain ache. :upside_down_face:

1 Like

Thanks, Ed, for clarification on the use of a word that has puzzled me for a long time. I have grown very fond of this word, Idiosyncratic, which I use a lot to describe the process of self-modeling. Idiosyncratic is something peculiar to an individual: The best minds are idiosyncratic and unpredictable, and perhaps deviant is an even better right word. I consider deviant, given it’s complex history, needs to be recycled. Psychiatry has used the word with contempt to label and dismiss what they are most clueless about, only to reverse themselves, when the people they label rebel.

When I read in my early twenties how consciousness was epiphenomena, like steam coming off a kettle, I was seriously stressed. After decades of reading this drivel I have given up entirely on Theory of Mind. I just cant take these zombie guys seriously. It is a big snooze.

Look forward to creating conditions for a poly-phasic culture which would be driven not by stabilizing norms but by celebrating the odd and uncanny. Underneath the surface of each person, if you are patient and ask the right questions, just like watching a wild animal in a forest, finding the right distance, becoming attentive, I have consistently discovered everyone is wonderfully weird


of or relating to idiosyncrasy; peculiar or individual:
“she emerged as one of the great idiosyncratic talents of the Nineties”
synonyms: distinctive · individual · individualistic · characteristic · peculiar · typical · special · specific · unique · one-of-a-kind · personal · eccentric · unconventional · irregular · anomalous · odd · [more]


Young arrived a few hours ago (in the guise of a 300 page paperback of course). After Huston Smith’s Introduction and the author’s Preface… oh boy! I cannot imagine how well this went over with ultrarationalists when it came out…


Yes, the term “singularity” is over-used, as you discovered, @achronon, in two contexts - in the context of meaning uniqueness (where the term “singular” is preferred, not so much “singularity”) and in the context of the so-called Technological Singularity (TS), which I will come back to in a moment. Neither of these I find all that interesting in the way they are usually discussed. My interest in the term has to do with the other meanings it has, and you laid out some of them, Ed. Mathematical singularities, physical ones such black holes and the start and potentially end points of the universe. Historical singularities is one I hadn’t thought about, but I do find interesting.

But the other area I find them interesting is as “singularities of being”, such as arise in philosophy and are discussed by philosophers. Only a few of the latter, though. Deleuze has an extended discussion of singularities of “being” or, perhaps more of “becoming”, since it is Deleuze, in his book “Logic of Sense”. Derrida discusses “singularities of becoming” in his amazing little book called “A Taste for the Secret”. Derrida grew on me as a result of that book. Whitehead barely mentions them…but in a way his whole book “Process and Reality” is about them, in the sense that his idea of an “event” is fundamentally creative, and creativity is about the coming into being of unpredictables.

So I have jumped ahead in my argument, the common thread that seems to run through all these other kinds of singularity is that our ability to predict breaks down. That is true when variables become undefined (e.g. by dividing by zero), but it is also true about inflexion points in a curve (the point where the curvature changes), caustic cusps (where optical waves line up to form intense regions), mathematical catastrophes (as in Rene Thom’s work), and so forth. Deleuze carried over these ideas about singularity into the realm of becoming. But Deleuze is careful to note that one cannot call a human being a “singularity” per se; instead, he suggests that Being is shot through with many singularities of different types.

What I find interesting about this idea is that human creativity is what throws the spanner in the works for AI type models of human behaviour, and for any attempt at representation. Human beings, I am convinced, cannot be formally modelled in their entirety. That is one of the problems with so-called Strong AI. The Technological Singularity is supposed to be a result of computers “thinking like humans”, and outpacing us. The reason these people are wrong, I believe, is because thinking, human thinking, harnesses singularities, (we call this creativity, but it influences almost every action that we take) and there is no “formal way” by definition, for computers to be able to do this. However, I do think a form of TS may be possible, but I view it as a special case of your idea of a “historical singularity”. Not because computers outpace humans, but rather because we become overwhelmed with the speed of technological innovation, and history takes a sharp turn into unpredictable outcomes…


On another note, I am not sure I can do Young. “The Reflexive Universe”, I mean. I have read the Introduction and the Appendices. I find his argument “untenable”, and I am being kind. I would love to understand better why you think this is an important book, because at first meeting, it seems everything but, to me.

Here are, in a nutshell, some of my issues. First, the guy has an attitude. He accuses scientists of having them, but I could cut his with a butter knife. He is critical of science, and scientists, but seems to have no understanding of what these are, nor does he seem to want to understand. He has formed his ideas long ago, and that is that.

I may be critical of certain aspects of science, but I am a working scientist and there is a great deal of science that I value. I am critical as an insider, not as an outsider. And science is not a single enterprise, as Young appears to believe. For example, I function within a growing collection of scientists who are trying to unravel cartesian duality within science, but the majority of current scientists, although they would claim a similar sensitivity, have yet to work out the consequences of doing so on their own scientific practice. This will take time, however, and in the meanwhile, several sometimes contradictory stances are operative simultaneously. This is science as it is practiced.

Second, he seems to have latched onto this idea of “seven” and then arranged the “data” to fit. So, for example, he picks up on phylum theory from evolutionary biology, one particular treatise that discusses eight phyla, throws out one of them and says, “see, seven is a universal truth”. His list of seven domains appears highly arbitrary, and although I am sensitive of the need to bridge the different realms of human experience, I do not think such arbitrary categorization process is going to help. The approaches that interest me question the categorization process itself.

I have seen this kind of “theory” before, and it does very little for me. In fact, the person I thought had the most to say about this was Teilhard de Chardin (see his “Phenomenon of Man”), the originator of the notion of the “noosphere”. Chardin’s ideas involve process more than categorization per se, and his book was exceptionally interesting when I read it as a young man, and still is (I dipped into it again recently).

Current science is bringing in alternative ideas about experience based on work on the autonomic and parasympathetic systems (think vagal nerve theory, but it is more complex than that). These are novel approaches nonetheless well grounded in existing scientific practice, and they present opportunities for understanding how meditation practices function, for example. What I like about what happens when science gets a handle on things, is that new understandings emerge - we can do more, or other, things than we originally thought we could. The mystics will say we’ve know this for millenia, but I find it curious that their language concerning what they know changes once the science begins to offer more specifics. So although there are problems with scientific practices, these practices are changing (slowly) and new ideas are percolating out of the mix. Let us not give up on science too quickly!

I know I should read more of Young before judging his work, but his attitude demotivates me before I even make the attempt. But I am open to being convinced otherwise, if you can make a case for his writing. Or at least debating the question :slight_smile: .


Well, I’ll just say that I definitely used the term “singularity” in a loose, “strategically vague” (but not indefinite) sense—which might be part techonlogical, part historical, and part, let’s call it, ontological (not a great word), in accord with Geoffrey’s contribution of the notion of a “singularity of being,” which I find more than intriguing,

Corey deVos over at IntegralLife wrote a piece on the Integral Singularity, which as a recovering quadrant-head I somewhat resist, but can still appreciate for the inclusive gesture.

The quality of novelty I think is what is essential to a “singularity” in a cubistic sense of it. Here echoing Whitehead, this would be the moment when consciousness (/information) escapes a generalized habitual patterning of its energy to open a new possibility of being. This may have a mythological aspect to it, as well, insofar as we think of a singularity as something that ‘did happen’ or ‘will happen,’ rather than something that is.

It’s also conceivable that we’re already living within the event horizon of a singularity. This could be part of what it means to be in the world (with an emphasis on the in). A theory of singularity, then, would be more reconstructive than predictive.

@patanswer: I made that correction! :doughnut: :doughnut: :doughnut: :doughnut: :doughnut:


I made it to Chapter IV before I had to turn out the light (to avoid the bodily harm the Mrs threatened me with).
In fairness to Young, I don’t think his central motive is denigration of science, the discoveries of which he seems to respect, and even require for his overall thesis. He does make the explicit claim that “science as usually interpreted” [italics mine] cannot be used to explain certain elements of his thesis. He may be right in this or he may be conflating strict materialism with “science”, an assumption that could be out of date these 41 years later. The opinion of an actual scientist carries weight on this, and your points about “contradictory stances… operative simultaneously” are well taken. On the other hand, he seems ultimately to be after ‘consciousness’, and can there ever be airtight arguments for that one?

Better yet, let’s not “give up” on the scientific method at all, even as we recognize the differences between the measurable and l’indicible. :wink:

Given his premise, the seven stages are interesting so far, of course more as a conceptual tool than an “actual” explanation of the evolutionary process. I mentioned Carroll Quigley above (without proper citation :blush:) [The Evolution of Civilizations (1961/1979: p. 146)]. His seven stages would form an upside-down V (like in chaos to chaos), which may be ironic commentary on man’s “attained freedom” described by Young. (LOL)


@madrush: Thanks!


Now, I have forgotten who said it, but the gist of it is: If I agreed with everything you say, I’d be you, and we certainly wouldn’t want that. I’m all for difference and diversity and varying points of view. There’s a lot to be gained from the mix, to be sure. I should hope, and this forum is a good example of the fact that we can have very different perspectives on the same issues, but when presented in a reasonable way they become horizon expanding instead of merely cause for rejection. And, so, the sentiments:

First of all, before too many misunderstandings arise, let me make perfectly clear that I am anything but anti-science, nor do I doubt the efficacy of the scientific method. By the same token, and just like everyone else here, I have very clear reservations of how both of these are practiced. As @Geoffreyjen_Edwards has aptly pointed out, things are changing in science because a growing number of scientists are expanding their horizons beyond the strict materialism which is still the current orthodoxy and this change will occur painfully slowly, or as Kuhn made clear (and I think he was correct in his analysis), simply painfully, for it will only change when it absolutely has to. That’s just how things are, and we have to operate within those constraints.

What is more, it has been long known those practicing science are not beyond falsifying data if it suits their purposes, whereby external pressures, such as the granting or denying of a degree or obtaining funding, may be driving their actions. One study I read about 20 years ago (unfortunately I can’t remember the bibliographic details) showed that this figure could be as high as 25%. I know enough about human nature to know that we will do really weird stuff if we think (better: believe) we have no way out of a dilemma. Still, it never crossed my mind to reject science, but instead only to reject those who weren’t playing the game according to the accepted rules. What it all meant for me – and I haven’t changed my mind on this one – is that we, the recipients of what they are producing have to be ever more critical and questioning in our reception of what’s being said. Deal with what you have before you and stay alert and mindful, period. As my friend Julius used to say, “abusus, non tollit usus”. We always need to keep our wits about us.

For me, though, the real point we need to keep in mind and consider is that we all make assumptions going in that we hardly ever question. Even Quigley (whose The Evolution of Civilization, by the way, I just opened and), who is very clear about method, makes odd statements about what we would call paranormal phenomena and why we needed study them. There are such phenomena and there are report of such phenomena, and if we are going to be truly scientific about our dealings with them, we cannot just dismiss them out of hand because they don’t match our own unquestioned assumptions. And for me, this is essential, for not being clear on this leads to endless meaningless quibbles that prevent us from developing our knowledge and understanding of the world in which we find ourselves.

Quigley, for example, is obviously – like most mainstream scientists at the time of his writing and now – a materialist and so whatever falls outside the scope of my materialist assumptions may be ignored. I can see how you get to that point, but it is just wrong and inconsistent with the image of scientist you are trying to develop. But – and this is most important – just because I see he is blinded by his assumptions, it certainly doesn’t mean that he has nothing meaningful, if not important, to say and something that can help me along in my own researches and investigations, regardless of how formal or informal these may be. Hence, a big thumbs-up to Quigley for letting everyone know where he’s coming from. I now know that my assumptions (beliefs) are different and I need to keep this in mind going in, and it helps me determine which of his statements are mere consequences of his beliefs and which rejections of mine might be a mere consequence of my own.

Why do I bring this up? Well, because my own academic training and experience turned me into a radical hermeneuticist (whereby here, “radical” has to do only with the original meaning of “going to the root” (from the Lat. radix = “root”), just like Dwight Macdonald’s meaning in his epochal The Root is Man in his rejection of Marxist doctrine). For me, meaning is primary, and in the Gutenberg galaxy in which we find ourselves, texts (of all types, in various media) are the primary source of input for statements about the world. The post-structuralists and post-modernists, and, of course, post-humanists (or “posties”, as I like to think of them) want to believe they have debunked that hermeneutic “crap”(as I’m fairly sure they would put it) since they all like to think they somehow got over that. (It was where the older ones at any rate got started.) But just like poor folk shouldn’t forget where they came from once they get rich, but as I read most of them – from Barthes to Focault to Derrida – they simply threw the baby out with the bathwater and made life miserable for the rest of us who had found a reasonable, insightful, and powerful method of finding meaning. Some of them, like Latour, finally realized that, but probably to late to have any real impact on the rest of them and their disciples.

Once you drink the kool-aid, though, any wannabe “postie” can simply dismiss you as being out-of-touch, out-of-date, out-of-fasion, and other wannabes think that is sound argumentation (this is the identify-and-dismiss that @johnnydavis54 so often refers to), but it doesn’t. And just like the dyed-in-the-wool materialist can simply ignore what doesn’t fit into their world (e.g., Quigley), they can simply dismiss or ignore whatever doesn’t fit into theirs. Knowledge, wisdom, and especially something as elusive as “truth”, have never been democratically determined goods (in the sense of, say, the early Greek philosophers notion of the Good (capital G).) My experience, however, has shown me that Shakespeare got it write when he had Hamlet inform (all of us) Horatio(s) that there is more in Heaven and Earth than we can even dream of, so I’m still open … for the different, the unusual, the perhaps cantankerously odd (which is why I gave Sloterdijk a chance), and especially the creative … as long as it makes sense and appears (to my mind, first; hopefully to others’ later) meaningful.

Which brings me to the real point: not every argument is a good one, and not everything that is asserted to be an argument is really even an argument at all. (And this is, as I have stated elsewhere one of my problems with Sloterdijk: he makes too many assertions with too little support; he doesn’t adequately cite his sources so that, should I so desire, go off and double-check what he is saying for accuracy and validity. And this is why, for me, he fits so well into the postie camp.) After all, if there really is no meaning in anything anyway, why should I be making such a big deal about it? I suppose I should just take what he (or any of those others) has to say and deal with it. But if nothing means anything anymore then nothing really matters and I wonder why I should give two hoots about any of it at all. Well, the reason I do is because I don’t agree with their underlying assumptions and beliefs and the reason I don’t is they are too restrictive and unyielding, so I need to go off and find others who are making some kind of positive contribution to whatever discussion I think has at least potential meaning.

But, I think I have a pretty good handle on what I believe (and why) and I can (and I try to) make this clear when I’m engaging in any discussion or argument (in the scientific/philosophical meaning of the term). Because it is part of my belief system, I have an interest in others knowing that in order that they don’t reject my arguments or statements for the wrong reasons. There are plenty of good and right reasons for rejecting them, and I’m always grateful when these are pointed out to me.

What we have seen, and what we should not close our eyes to is the fact that “science” often appears in a light these days that make it appear less than noble, less than the idealized notion of which @patanswer and @Geoffreyjen_Edwards, and I am speaking. In many regards, in many quarters, it has become a religion and that is no less dangerous than any other religion has the potential to be. The Western (perhaps better, Abrahamic) religions are best known, unfortunately, for their intolerance, but intolerance, it seems to me, grows out of too-quick rejection based on the violation of some unspoken (or at least rarely so articulated) assumption that is being made (this is what all fundamentalisms, as far as I can determine, fall prey to).

Please excuse the long-windedness (again), but I thought this needed saying (again). Science: yes; scientism: no; and I would like to think that we are always distinguishing between the two.


Fair enough, but please take nothing I say as a “defense” or “apology” (in the philosophical-theological sense of the word) of Young (he can speak for himself and stand on his own). This is specifically a response to your kind request. (The interspersed quotes are there to help structure the flow.)

Although I’ve torn that mercilessly out of context, my initial reaction to this was: heh, heh, heh … I am not alone. :grin: I can, and do, sympathize with aversions to authorial attitude. Why do you think I had such difficulty with Sloterdijk who has even outdone my unbeloved French posties in this regard. But, as @patanswer already noted, it looks at first blush a lot less harsh than it really is. Young was and a scientist but he did not have much left over for scientism nor was he willing to acquiesce merely because his positions were not mainstream.

While there is no doubting on the one hand that the number 7 occurs often and poignantly in many unexpected places, we need to also recognize that there has been a long history of dismissing anything that even hinted at meaning in numbers, even though this was a large part of human culture and history for a a period of time that was orders of magnitude longer than the one in which we’ve been dismissive. He gives his reason for why 7, but I also know that he was very supportive of a young scholar who “borrowed” his model and for very different reasons claimed that 9 was the operative number. As it turns out, for what Young was doing, 7 worked better; for what the other guy was doing, 9 worked better, but neither of them ever claimed it-is-this-and-none-other. I believe the sevenness needs to be contextualized and not absolutized, that is all. In Ch XV he comes back to the idea of process in myth, providing us with, I find, a very different, yet insightful perspective on by-gone mentation, which in 1976 was considered hardly any more than primitive, childish, unenlightenment. (Campbell hadn’t made it on the scene yet to make myth respectable again.)

And, finally, in regard to your specific reactions:

Which is always your call whether you want to or not. Again, let’s face it, the attitude is the primary thing, and I have more than full appreciation for that. I braved out Sloterdijk to the end of volume I, but that is not something that I would ever expect anyone else to do.

But, having said all that, let me also say why I said and why I think Young is a must-read. It is not only because of what he says.

When the book first appeared in 1976, you didn’t write stuff like this without repercussions. Young is a scientist, a physicist by training, and one who realized that there were simply certain things you can’t do at certain points in history. His goal was to develop a theory of consciousness evolution (as the subtitle of his book asserts), and he purposely chose to solve an engineering problem (how to make helicopters fly) because he believed that if he succeeded, he’d have the wherewithal to pursue his real goal without having to depend upon the largess of those who otherwise wouldn’t give him the time of day. The scientific orthodoxy then was even more rabidly materialist than it is now. He succeeded and thereby avoided the otherwise certain censure that would follow, for science, for all its advantages, is not as open and generous as our idealized conceptions of it are.

Around that time, there were other physicists who were also risking and some of whom were experiencing marginalization, from Fritjof Capra to Jack Sarfatti to Fred Alan Wolfe, who were just too interested in consciousness for their own academic good. Capra and Wolfe found ways to work within the system, if you will, Sarfatti felt comfortable enough staying outside, and Young founded his own Foundation, then Institute for the Study of Consciousness to provide a forum for those who were interested in stretching the confinements of the then current scientific orthodoxy. He found a number of scholars and scientists who were willing to risk at least that much to work on ideas that are just now starting to find the respect and interest that they deserve … not because they are right, but because they are for the most part creative, open, and well-thought-through, providing runways, if you will, for others who are willing to put their own devices together for flying further. In other words, it was a very courageous book in its time.

Second, this was one of the first serious attempts to bring together science and consciousness studies. In 1976 consciousness was considered purely epiphenomenal, but it was nevertheless a phenomenon that science should have been studying, yet refused to. Most importantly, his book was a first attempt to bring together a hard science (in fact, the queen of sciences, physics) and a soft science together. This is precisely the kind of creativity that wish there were more of.

Third, the rather fantastic notion that light may be conscious is something I believe is worth thinking about, debating, and most importantly, discussing the implications of … across various domains. I doubt that it is provable one way or the other, but there is a lot of material here to talk about, to explore, and to relate to other things that we have experienced, learned, read, or may even believe.

Fourth, irrespective of its seven-fold nature, I think his process model itself is worth reflecting on and thinking about. It is a useful tool, or at least it has been for me, and there are others who have taken the model – abstracted from its initial purpose to describe consciousness evolution – and applied it to other domains. In other words, it is a way of talking and thinking about the important notion of process which is rarely explicitly but often implicitly presupposed in much modern thinking (Whitehead, de Chardin, etc.), hence it provides a more structured opportunity to talk about something that can get terribly abstract (and hence, vague) very quickly in more concrete terms.

And finally, given the age of the text and given all that has transpired since it first appeared – in science, philosophy, cultural history, psychology, and the current (I believe misguided) neuromania – there are many other issues that follow on from or are tangential to his approach … especially its open-endedness, the meaning of the trajectory he laid out, the nature and role of consciousness itself, or @patanswer’s own reaction of perhaps comparing and contrasting Young’s and Quigley’s seven-staged approachs … that would be worth exploring, which why I first suggested a kind of so-what seminar. I think Young would be very good candidate-text for precisely that kind of discussion.

But that’s just how I see him.


I don’t think we disagree, Ed (@achronon), at least, not about that distinction (science vs scientism). And I do want to make it clear that I am not rejecting so-called paranormal phenomena as “invalid”. However, I do want to say that what you call “scientific materialism”, and what I call an uncritical acceptance of “cartesian mindset” with its over-emphasis on representation, dualities of various sorts starting with mind vs. body but not finishing there, and its arrogant tendency to proclaim unequivocally what is truth and what isn’t, which I am presuming is related to what you call materialistic (although I am not quite sure), have caused untold difficulties, some of which you or @johnnydavis54 have alluded to in our diverse discussions, among others. Nonetheless, I do not regard this as the source of the inability of scientists to “accept” or construct robust theories about so-called paranormal phenomena.

I may be wrong, but I believe the difficulty arises because science, indeed, scientific method (or methods, since there are many of these), are not, in general, equipped to address such questions, at least not yet, although that may be changing, as the polyvagal theory might suggest. You need good method, testable hypotheses, and problem areas that are within reach of the existing knowledge base. It is the jump from, “there is no good evidence to suggest that…” to “such ideas are ridiculous” that is problematic, but no self-respecting scientist would make the latter as a claim without acknowledging that it is a personal judgement. Indeed, the popular press talks about “scientific proof”, but scientists do not use that term, only mathematicians do so formally.

Regarding posties, as you call them, I am not a purist as you seem to be, Ed (no criticism implied, yours is a perfectly valid position, it’s just not my own), I read their work with great interest, and pull from it what I find useful for my own research.

And you are right, perhaps I judged Young a bit too quickly and harshly. I shall give him another chance. But I will also look into Bucky :slight_smile:


What I have always seen in what you post and in your contributions to our online discussions is anything but materialistic reductionism, or any reductionism for that matter. We are certainly on the open-but-let’s-be-honest wavelength. That’s what I think good science is about, and I am very delighted that there are more and more people in both the hard and soft sciences coming to realize that using precise methods, honestly evaluating data (without imposing unquestioned and unarticulated assumptions and presuppositions on them), forming and testing hyptheses, are all important. We will, of course, probably need different, and perhaps more creative, methods to approach a lot of the non-physical phenomena that need to be explored, but what I’m sure both of us also agree on is what I would call scientific rigor when it comes to developing such methods.

Science to me – and it strikes me that it is also to you – about making things clear: what I’m investigating, how I’m doing it, what is influencing my thinking on the subject, you know, those kinds of things. And I realize that this is perhaps a bit more demanding when it comes to, say, philosophy, but it is not impossible, and it is this lack of transparency that gets my goat when it comes to most “theorists”. I personally don’t think expecting a writer to be clear is too much to expect, but apparently it is, so I end up putting up with a lot of nonsense that I think is otherwise avoidable. :roll_eyes:

While I’ve always felt pressed for time, I really hate it these days when I feel my time is being wasted because it is next to impossible to determine just what point a writer is making, if they are making a point at all. I realize that the concept “posties” is a gross oversimplification and overgeneralization, but I’m also making clear that it is a word that results from my own frustration with the lack of clarity and too-often meaninglessness of what they are trying to say. Again, Sloterdijk is a great example for me: he has his lucid moments, no doubt about it, but they are too few and too far between for me to want to spend all the time it takes to maybe figure out what it is he could be saying. It’s probably because I’m just a simple guy with the simple (if not simplistic) desire to make some sense of the world before I leave it. :grin:

So, I would have to say, Geoffrey, I agree; I don’t think we really disagree. :smiley:

On the other hand:

And I’m sure that in the circles in which you circulate that is the case. But it is not what I see in, say, Richard Dawkins or the TED-Talk people who will not allow certain people to even appear (as has been the case with Rupert Sheldrake, (for some reason one of Dawkins’s favorite targets) or Russel Targ who had his talk on psychic abilities pulled from the channel … whereby both of them are respectable and self-respecting scientists by all standards). Whether we like it or not, there are still Inquisitors amongst us, and I think it’s a good idea to at least acknowledge this is the case and perhaps avoid them if at all possible. It is people and situations like that which give science a bad name, and when we look at the current political and societal debates that are taking place these days, science is fighting an uphill battle for acceptance as it is.


A Clean Start. And .when does the observer become a participant? I’m not sure where we are where we are going.

You mentioned, Ed, a seminar leading with SO WHAT? You traced the history of Young and where he was coming from. You claim that you are a simple guy with the simple desire to make some sense of the world before you leave it. I hear you.

Geoffrey expressed doubts about Young but is interested in Bucky. He has pointed out the difficulties of scientific practice when dealing with the paranormal. He agrees that scientism vs science is an issue that needs to be addressed. He also has found Chardin interesting, and expressed interest in the Future rather than the Past in the last video. He also has an interest in writing fiction.

I get the impression that both Ed and Geoffrey are interested in developing certain themes and motifs, some are related and overlap, some are perhaps more distant.

TJ has mentioned Quigley and his 7 stages. I know nothing about Quigley. Is this another writer you want to study? You have an interest in the philosophy of history. Would you like to develop this further in the seminar? I’m very curious, TJ, about what you are up to. I get the feeling you are up to something BIG!

I would ask each of you, and all of you, for this proposed seminar to be of use to you, this seminar will be like what?

And what support do you need from the group for that to happen?

About methodology. I’m not a scientist but I am a lover of science. I consider myself to be an amateur, an advanced beginner. I’ m engaged in qualitative research methods and I want to gain experience in developing a transformative research project. I have already conducted some interviews with members of this community. I love beautiful language and am fascinated by communication theory.I do have many interests as do most of you and so in the effort to bring forward a more transparent agenda I would offer some clean questions to our panel of experts or who ever wants to show up. My passion is to co-create compelling futures. Specifically I’m drawn to developing generative metaphors.

I am a great believer in the cross fertilization that occurs between writing and speech. Verbal and non verbal are registered more easily on video as we did with the Bubbles event. Writing I believe compliments those video participations.

May we use all of our knowledge and use all of it well.



A meta- communique. My main interest in this seminar proposal is not necesserily about developing a consensus about our reading different authors. I’m more interested in exploring bifurcation points. Communicating with writing, the writer is always alone. On the video different kinds of feedback are involved. It is interesting to oscillate between the two and notice how we do that.There is always silence but you don’t get very far with silence.

I was going to say “no, not really”, but instead I went for a walk. I watched some of the news commentary surrounding today’s rally in Boston. I read Gebser’s take on Heidegger and the “end” of the Western philosopheme [EPO, pp. 402-405]. I read some more of Young, ate a late lunch.
To tell the truth I don’t know if I’m up to something or if something is up to me - something that has picked me but knows it needs more help than I in my profound lack of qualifications can give it. (LOL) My peripheral vision glimpses an integral city - a spacetime robust enough for a world and gentle enough for a child. My frontal focus tells me it is all very well and good for a vision to pull toward the future from the future, but that pull must be exerted on the “here and now”, where the past can be both a weight and fuel in both positive and negative ways.
Scientism isn’t it. Neither is historical theorizing which effectively leaves out the human “probability fog”, by the way. But even the blind spots can tell us something, especially with a donut in each hand. :wink:

So to answer the seminar-interest question I would like to (1) make sure I understand Young with input from those who have read him in agreement, disagreement, or “meh”; (2) look at process, perhaps with a glance at Quigley among other examples; and (3) unabashedly continue to pick brains.

John, I deeply appreciate the provocation of thought. I’m sure glad you hit me with this on a Saturday, though; I would have been useless at work. :smile:


I love this. I, too, feel more like something has picked me up, and, as @johnnydavis54 said, “something big”. I mean, I didn’t start writing a 2500 page science fiction opus about a future tugging at us, that would have been crazy, but it chose me and here I am. In my research, I am working on some of the tech and science that gushed forth in my scifi project, so it is all interconnected, I’m afraid.

I’m with Johnny on this. I’m happy to read anyone who others think contribute to the discussion, but I think it is the discussion itself that pulls me in. The dance, to use my analogy from the Sloterdijk thread.

Let us “co-create a compelling future” together. Using our different source materials as fuel for the fire (I am mixing my metaphors!). And let it be “generative”. And by that, I mean, let it spill over into other modes of action/expression. I do not know what, exactly, this might look like, but let’s be open to this and see what emerges.

For references, Ed @achronon, could you give the precise name etc for the Bucky text, and TJ @patanswer , the same for Quigley?


Found the Quigley - The Evolution of Civilizations. Found a pdf of this. Still haven’t found the reference for Bucky though…

1 Like

Synergetics by Bucky Fuller has been on my shelf for years, which Ed recommended. I also have Critical Path. I like Bucky’s writing style, his spoken communication is curious. This video is extremely odd and fascinating, he is an interesting character. I have very little experience with him but I would love to discuss. He was a visionary and Sloterdijk considers him a genius. He is very interested in emergence.

I think we can go forward and backward in a zig zag fashion, bringing forward with us into the Now what the visionaries of the past dreamed about. We are such stuff as dreams are made of…

1 Like