Cognitive Embodiment of Patterns of Governance of Higher Order
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 19 Sep 2022
Memorable Navigation of Viable Global Pathways from 4-Fold to 64-Fold and Beyond
Produced, coincidentally, on the occasion of the 7th World Congress on the Square of Opposition (Leuven, September 2022).
19 Sep 2022 – Little needs to be said of the chaotic state of global governance and the crises with which it is faced at this time. It therefore continues to be useful to question the methods advocated and deployed to address the challenges as they are currently framed. It is necessarily perceived as presumptuous to assert the merit of alternatives, however vigorously their merits are described. The arguments against any alternatives are themselves vigorously articulated — with little ability to transcend the dysfunctional consequences of this dynamic.
The challenges of the times are curiously exemplified by a strangely unquestioned relation to numbers (Comprehension of Numbers Challenging Global Civilization, 2014). History may see it as bizarre that a global civilization should be so preoccupied with 1.5 — being, however coincidentally, both the key to the response to the pandemic through social distancing, and as the target cap on global warming (Humanity’s Magic Number as 1.5? Dimensionless constant governing civilization and its potential collapse, 2020). Claire Lemercieris and Claire Zalc ask whether history is a matter of individual agency and action, or of finding and quantifying underpinning structures and patterns (History by Numbers, Aeon/Psyche, 2 September 2022). That argument cites the curious historical focus of economists on the productivity engendered in slave populations in the USA by an average of 0.7 whippings per hand per year.
With respect to assumptions of the vital need for economic growth, a limited set of statistics are a preoccupation for governance, including interest rates, inflation rates, tax rates, exchange rates — and rates of growth, as indicated by GDP. The tendency is an invitation to satire, given the neglect of other indicators — especially in the light of the current proxy war with Russia (Evaluating the Grossness of Gross Domestic Product: Refugees Per Kiloton (RPK) as a missing indicator? 2016). As illustrated by past military activity in the Afghanistan arena, the focus is indeed on performance with little attention to remedial capacity (Remedial Capacity Indicators versus Performance Indicators, 1981; Transforming the Unsustainable Cost of General Education: strategic insights from Afghanistan, 2009). There is general resignation to the extraordinary level of national debt of many leading countries, and its continuing increase — a “black hole” of astronomical proportions.
Many global statistical reports are indeed produced offering insight into performance, but with little insight into remedial capacity over time (Dynamic Transformation of Static Reporting of Global Processes, 2013). The foreseeable consequences of increasing population growth are assiduously avoided — incommunicable as a fundamentally inconvenient truth (Institutionalized Shunning of Overpopulation Challenge, 2008). Curiously there is a strange global dependence on obscure metrics of proven fallibility (Uncritical Strategic Dependence on Little-known Metrics: the Gaussian Copula, the Kaya Identity, and what else? 2009).
Potentially even more curious for the future is what might otherwise be framed as simple superstition, namely an unquestioned global preference for strategies articulated by particular numbers: 7, 8, 10, 14, 20 or 30, exemplified by the 12-fold (Checklist of 12-fold Principles, Plans, Symbols and Concepts, 2011). There is no systemic explanation for the 17-fold articulation of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (Systemic Coherence of the UN’s 17 SDGs as a Global Dream, 2021).
In this context there is therefore a case for continuing to speculate on distinctive ways of ordering information about the current global condition. The aim in what follows is to elicit imaginative responses from a perspective which contrasts with the conventional articulation of proposals in bullet-pointed text. The weakness of such articulations is evident from the lack of relationship between the points made in any such checklist — undermining any systemic implications and relevance. That pattern of connectivity is of a very low order. This ensures that the memorability of such a checklist is itself of a very low order and is effectively a guarantee that any acclaimed institutional “oversight” is associated with “blindspots” — as ironically implied by the alternative understanding of “oversight”.
For example, who is able to recall all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (let alone its 169 tasks)? Who has any sense of the manner in which they interact with each other together to ensure their systemic viability? Is this equally true of the rights articulated in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
In a world in which great emphasis is placed on the attractiveness and interest of visual representations and music — with which people are indeed happy to engage — why is so much reliance placed on text in the processes of governance? This occurs in a period in which governance is increasingly experienced as alienating, opaque, and untrustworthy — and only too evidently incompetent. The contrast with engagement with song is remarkable, as has been appreciated by some autocrats (A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006).
What follows is a speculative exercise in quest of distinctive patterns of order which have a possibility of eliciting imaginative responses — at least for some. It follows from a case previously made (Time for Provocative Mnemonic Aids to Systemic Connectivity? 2018). The challenge is especially evident in the case of the problematic articulation of the core values of a civilization aspiring to democracy — and faced with its obvious inadequacies (Values, Virtues and Sins of a Viable Democratic Civilization, 2022). The focus is on the related patterns of numbers which are widely upheld as of fundamental significance to the organization of memory, especially computer memory, following their earlier consideration (Cognitive organization by polyhedra of 16, 32 and 64 vertices, 2017; Polyhedral Pattern Language, 2008)
The approach explored is notably inspired by the visual representation by Keith Critchlow (Order in Space: a design source book, 1969). This offered a coherent visual insight into the closest packing of the 13 disparate, semi-regular Archimedean polyhedral forms — in contrast with the 5 more familiar Platonic forms recognized for their spherical regularity, and widely valued for symbolic purposes. Critchlow later adapted this geometrical insight into the organization of flowers (The Hidden Geometry of Flowers: living rhythms form and number, 2011). Such insights focus the question of the “closest packing” of disparate information essential to its memorability.
The Archimedean forms have acquired particular significance in oppositional logic, namely the discipline which focuses on the organization of logical relations as they feature in discourse and in computerized search algorithms. Unfortunately the coherent representation of these logical operations with polyhedra has as yet translated only to the most limited degree into relevance to the challenges of governance, as indicated separately (Oppositional Logic as Comprehensible Key to Sustainable Democracy, 2018). Ironically, opposition to wider application of those insights has not evoked any form of self-reflective inquiry by that discipline.
The exploration in what follows is a quest for the unusual and the extraordinary in the configuration of information. It is not envisaged as a specific explanation or proposal but rather as a challenge to the imagination — to the possibility and sense of “what if”. It can be argued that we unconsciously inhabit what amounts to “cognitive glass houses”. The question is the degree to which these are usefully recognized as “conceptual cages” within which we are effectively “incarcerated” — whether as greenhouses or with glass ceilings. The edges of polyhedra are usefully suggestive of the bars of such cages, irrespective of their more valuable connotations.
Is there a case for “cages” of previously unimagined design — as might well be easily enabled for intelligent primates in zoos (Primate Environmental Enrichment: automated reconfiguration of zoo enclosures, 2011). Changing metaphor, the argument is illustrated by the widespread familiarity with gear change mechanisms on bicycles and in automobile transmission systems. Under what circumstances do we need to “change gear” conceptually — and how many gears might be appropriate to experience a higher degree of freedom? This frames the question of the need for conceptual “cage changing mechanisms” in 3D and 4D — and their possibility in practice.
Symbolically it might be asked what relationship this might bear to Jacob’s ladder as a linear inspiration for the Abrahamic religions. This suggests the possibility of a non-linear “cognitive ladder”, as with the inspiration offered by the coiling of DNA, namely the pattern so fundamental to biological life (Climbing Elven Stairways: DNA as a macroscopic metaphor of polarized psychodynamics, 2007). To the extent that it is widely appreciated that the house of divinity “has many mansions”, this invites recognition of the possibility that it has many “stairwells”. The dynamic can be explored as the quest for alternative and more integrative paradigms (Navigating Alternative Conceptual Realities, 2002; Combining Clues to ‘Ascent’ and ‘Escape’, 2002).
The argument concludes with a presentation of the relationship between the hypercube (of significance to oppositional logic) and the 64-edged drilled truncated cube. The role of this polyhedron can be understood as a form of Rosetta Stone offering a means of reconciling a range of patterns variously upheld as of strategic significance: 4-fold, 6-fold, 7-fold, 8-fold, 9-fold, 12-fold, 14-fold, 16-fold, 20-fold, 32-fold and 64-fold. The argument is extended to a 72-fold pattern of traditional significance.
For a civilization faced with an unprecedented global migration crisis, this process could be understood as disguising the degree to which there is effectively a mass migration of humanity to a new cognitive frontier — meriting a degree of recognition, as separately argued (Future Global Exodus to the Metasphere, 2022).
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