Engaging with Insight of a Higher Order
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 15 Dec 2014
Reconciling Complexity and Simplexity through Memorable Metaphor
This is an exploration of the process of encountering insight of a higher order — or seemingly so. Understood in its most general terms, this could be an insight which explains everything (a Theory of Everything), a strategy which solves all problems (the Ultimate Panacea), an exemplar understood as embodying a higher order (a Leader, a Genius, a Master, a Guru, a Professor), or a totally transformative aesthetic experience (perhaps a Revelation). Also to be considered are the implications of possible higher orders of artificial intelligence from supercomputers, as well as contact with superintelligent extraterrestrials.
The assumption here is that the sense of higher order implies an extraordinary sense of perfection — relative to one’s current ordinary experience. How then to engage with the experience of perfection? How to “handle” it in practice? The challenge is of course charmingly illustrated by the encounter with an unusually attractive person — an encounter which may mysteriously conflate all the above (as when falling in love).
The exploration is of current relevance to the extent that there is a degree of hope, if not anticipation, with respect to the emergence of an Ultimate Plan, perhaps articulated by an extraordinarily charismatic individual, perhaps in the light of some ultimate Theory of Everything. Any anticipation of a Messiah of some kind may however be mitigated by the possibility that the complexity of the proposal, and the simple terms in which it is presented, may obscure the degree to which it is fundamentally exploitative — meriting alternative suspicions of the “Satanic”.
The approach taken here is not to presume on the nature of any higher order insight. Rather the effort is to consider how it might be recognized as a “strange attractor” and the implications for how one might engage with it — whether as an individual or as a group.
The specific concern is not with ideal strategies for world peace, persistent territorial or border disputes, divided nations, or controversial issues like climate change. Rather the concern is the characteristics of an ideal strategic plan, its sustaining philosophy, or the exemplars who might articulate it — but particularly whether or how these could be recognized, and how one might then engage with them.
This is an exercise in exploring the limits of what can be said about greater insight — but without presuming to say anything from such a perspective. The value of doing so can be variously indicated (Gyorgy Doczi, The Power of Limits: proportional harmonies in nature, art, and architecture, 2005; Michael A. Sells, Mystical Languages of Unsaying, 1994).
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 15 Dec 2014.
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