Magical Discourse Contrasting Human and AI Identity

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 28 Aug 2023

Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Being a Wave or Being Apart from a Quantum Perspective

Introduction

28 Aug 2023 – Much is made of the possibility of being a “part” of community and of society more generally. Hence the many references to “participation”. The facilities of social media encourage this in many ways, as do esports. Being part of a family or group is a common aspiration. Nations may well aspire to being a part of the international community, to whatever degree its nature may be called into question (International Community as God or Sorcerer’s Apprentice? 2015)

These examples all suggest that assumptions about the process of being a part of a larger context, as currently understood, are proving adequate to the viability of an increasingly fragmented society. Arguably this is far from being the case. With “whole” as the complement to “part”, the viability of wholes of many kinds is widely challenged — even suspect as totalitarian, manipulative or otherwise. This may well translate into the problematic experience of a person, and hence the widespread concern with the extent of the mental health crisis — “recreational” drugs — and the challenge to any integrative processes and aspirations.

Rather than the elusive nature of a “whole” and the experience of participation in it, the possibility explored here is the sense of a “wave” as a better articulated complement to “part”. This follows from the fundamental distinctions between wave and particle in physics, most succinctly indicated by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Whilst identity may indeed be framed and understood through the particular, the question is how it might be more fruitfully comprehended as a wave. Is there a corresponding principle for social reality (Garrison Sposito, Does a generalized Heisenberg principle operate in the social sciences? Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy, 12, 1969, 1-4). Is jargon use of “vibes” and “magic” an indication of widespread intuitive recognition of this modality?

The argument here follows from earlier approaches to the possibility (Encountering Otherness as a Waveform — in the light of a wave theory of being, 2013; Being a Waveform of Potential as an Experiential Choice: emergent dynamic qualities of identity and integrity, 2013;  Being Neither a-Waving Nor a-Parting — considering both science and spirituality, 2013).

The possibility and urgent need for a radical transformation of perspective — a paradigm shift — is variously articulated, as featured in arguments of Alexander Wendt from an international relations perspective (Quantum Mind and Social Science: unifying physical and social ontology, 2015). Wendt argues for recognition that people may be understood as “walking wave functions”, for example (On being “walking wave functions” in terms of quantum consciousness?, 2017).

The question is whether, as widely imagined, the envisaged shift in perspective is radical enough — if only as a means of reframing individual experience. As famously argued by the physicist Niels Bohr: We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. My own feeling is that it is not crazy enough (1922).

Irrespective of inter-personal or inter-group relations, the challenge is coming rapidly “to a head” — to coin a phrase — in relation to climate change and the environment. Is that more appropriately understood as primarily a challenge of “re-cognition”? Ironically any focus on “part” evokes recognition of the challenge to “partnership” in the present times, and notably to “bipartisanship” in governance — transcending disagreement, however radical.

Humans may indeed conceive themselves to be part of the environment in which they are embedded. The question is whether this understanding addresses the need for a transformation of that relationship, as separately argued with respect to radical cognitive engagement with environmental categories and disciplines (Existential Embodiment of Externalities, 2009; “Human Intercourse”: “Intercourse with Nature” and “Intercourse with the Other”, 2007). Ironically a case can be made for revisiting the framing offered by the classic environmental categories which have been so influential in the past: Earth, Air, Fire and Water (Cognitive Navigation of the Elements as Indicative Strategic Metaphors, 2023).

Rather than being abstruse and obscure — as an intellectual abstraction — the argument here is that this shift is readily accessible, even immediately and familiarly so. Rather than understood as a radical change in a pattern of categories, it is a process of apprehending experience otherwise — whether radical or not. Enabling any framing by conventional categories may then itself be a direct inhibitor of that experience — or potentially so.

The inhibition of this experiential mode is then to be understood as a misleading consequence of dependence on systematic labelling of the environment. Its features are thereby reified through the categories labelled in this way — and not otherwise. The point has been made by Alfred Korzybski arguing that certain uses of the verb “to be”, called the “is of identity” and the “is of predication”, were faulty in structure (Selections from Science and Sanity, 2010). Even more problematic is the effort to achieve a form of closure by and within such a pattern of categories.

The argument has been developed from that of David Bohm with respect to proprioception (Steven Rosen, (Phenomenology, Self-reference, and Bohmian Dialogue (42nd Annual Conference of the Society for Phenomenology and the Human Sciences, 2003; Splitting the Atom: the paradox of Proprioceptive Dialogue, The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 2022, 43, 2022, 3).

There is however an intriguing challenge to writing about such a shift using terms (such as “proprioception”) which are paradoxically called into question by the argument itself and the perspective it endeavours to render credible. One suggestive device is the use of metaphor (Andreas Musolff, et al, Metaphor and Discourse, 2009; Raymond W. Gibbs, The Embodied and Discourse Views of Metaphor: why these are not so different and how they can be brought closer together, 2017; Metaphorizing Dialogue to Enact a Flow Culture, 2019). A contrast could then be made between “explaining” and an “explanation”. This suggests a dissociation from what is “plain” as advocated in the “plain speech” of Quakers (Joe Long, How Pompous Thou Art: Of Pronouns and ‘Plain Speech’, American Greatness, 29 March 2018).

A related device is a play on words through figures of speech, understood as fundamental to the need for powerful rhetoric in governance (Questionable Classification of Figures of Speech, 2016). This suggests a dissociation from the “plane” of experiential reality to another plane or frame — itself of questionable significance (Future Global Exodus to the Metasphere, 2022).

The insight has been expressed otherwise by the work of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi  on the somewhat elusive experience of flow (Finding Flow: the psychology of engagement with everyday life, 1996). The concern in what follows is with psychosocial analogues to the widely recognized process of “achieving lift-off” in the light of well-recognized insights from helicopter development and the subsequent explosion of interest in practicalities of quadcopters and the like (Combining Clues to ‘Ascent’ and ‘Escape’, 2002; From helicopters to quadcopters and more: psychopter implications through technomimicry, 2023).

The challenge might be framed in terms of the extent to which people and groups effectively imprison and incarcerate themselves cognitively in patterns — exemplified by administrative organization and entrapment in “project logic”. Intelligence is then held to be associated with the ability to manipulate those all-encompassing patterns — a facility now dramatically delegated to artificial intelligence. Should human intelligence itself then be explored as potentially “artificial” to a dysfunctional degree? Are humans transforming themselves into AIs — and how are they then to be distinguished from AIs?

The ironic challenge is that the very attempt to frame these questions meaningfully appears to call for a distinctive mode of discourse, as can be suggested in the light of implications of second-order cybernetics and higher-order communication possibilities (Second-order Dialogue and Higher Order Discourse for the Future, 2023). Rather than being part of the solution, the mode of discourse adopted and advocated by authorities may be as much part of the problematic trap humanity faces. As indicated by policy scientist Geoffrey Vickers: a trap is a function of the nature of the trapped (Freedom in a Rocking Boat: changing values in an unstable society, 1970).

There is however every possibility that any inherently human communication, distinct from emerging AI modalities, may depend on the indicative role of patterns of metaphor and the ability to interweave “playfully” and “magically” the insights they offer — rather than seeking to freeze them into static frameworks and models. This may be better expressed in aesthetic terms by continually “talking up” possible indications — creatively and imaginatively juxtaposing incommensurable alternatives. This is a challenge to the conventional quest for definitive closure of a fundamental dynamic through “standard models” — with their deadening incorporation of otherness, thereby preempting the potential creativity of the future (Beyond the Standard Model of Universal Awareness: Being Not Even Wrong? 2010).

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