Cognitive Implications of Going Strategically Sessile


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Towards Comprehension of Detachment in Anticipation of Catastrophe


17 Jun 2024 – The following argument is inspired by the commentary of Venkatesh Rao (Going Sessile, RibbonFarm, 24 May 2024). That remarkably resonant commentary focuses on the increasing disinclination of the author to travel widely — as a consequence of aging, problematic environments,, and “been there, done that”. As described by Wikipedia: Sessility is the biological property of an organism describing its lack of a means of self-locomotion. Sessile organisms for which natural motility is absent are normally immobile. This is distinct from the botanical concept of sessility, which refers to an organism or biological structure attached directly by its base without a stalk. Sessile organisms can move via external forces (such as water currents), but are usually permanently attached to something.

The framing offered by that commentary (summarized below) is adapted here, both in terms of its cognitive implications and its implication for aging collectivities. The question addressed is how the decline of collective organization — especially in the case of civilizations — merits exploration in terms of radical downsizing. Whilst readily explored in terms of the rejection of “global” in favour of “local”, it is the cognitive implications of “going sessile” which would seem to merit greater attention. .

The term “sessile” is seldom applied to individuals, although many who are “sedentary” can be understood in that light. More intriguing is the manner in which the sedentary cultivate the illusion of engaging in global processes, whether through commentary on global issues, engagement in global media (especially social media), or video-gaming. Does “going sessile” suggest a form of cognitive downsizing implying a radical detachment from such possibilities?

Could this be usefully explored as a cognitive strategy for individuals, especially when it may be forced upon them by the aging process, the erosion of memory, or by future disasters? What might this imply for collectivities increasingly faced with an aging process, erosion of historical contexts — and concerns with respect to aging leaders? (Societal Learning and the Erosion of Collective Memory, 1980). Are collectivities faced with conditions analogous to the dementia and related pathologies experienced by individuals? The correspondences between a collapsing civilization, culture or group, and a dying person are discussed separately (Metaphors To Die By, 2013).

A curious aspect of “going sessile” is suggested by the familiar experience of waiting (Waiting as an Experience of Fundamental Significance, 2018). This can be understood as related to the manner in which various forms of singularity are now anticipated or awaited (Emerging Memetic Singularity in the Global Knowledge Society, 2009). Of similar relevance are the mysterious dynamics fundamental to hopeful anticipation of enduring viability (Paradoxes of Durable Peace, Heaven and a Sustainable Lifestyle, 2023).

Those indicated memes (“waiting”, “singularity” and “heaven”) could be understood as central to comprehension of the “institutional sessility” of the Catholic Church and Jerusalem, for example (Jerusalem as a Symbolic Singularity, 2017). The argument frames the sobering question, from a collective perspective, as to whether the art of governance is effectively “to do nothing” and “going nowhere” — in anticipation of a magical remedial future (Reframing the Art of Non-Decision-Making, 2017).

The following exploration makes explicit use of AI in the form of ChatGPT 4 and Claude 3 (Opus variant). The role of such AI facilities as an “aggregator” of non-numeric information, rather than as a “computer” of numeric data was previously noted. Reservations regarding such use were also noted, both with regard to the questionable verbosity and style of responses, and what could be termed an undue degree of “algorithmic enthusiasm” for the relevance of the questions posed (Eliciting integrative insight via ChatGPT, 2024). Such enthusiasm could be readily caricatured as a form of “ingratiation” detracting from the responses. Other styles of presentation could have been requested of the AI facilities. A future technical possibility is to present the questions in a single document with links to the responses in separate documents.

As previously noted, a merit of this approach is that readers can explore alternative articulations by repeating (or amending) the questions to the AI facilities to which they have access — especially as those facilities become more sophisticated and have a wider access to relevant published research. As with this experiment, this would involve uploading to other AI facility one (or more) PDF versions. As in the previous experiments, the responses of ChatGPT are distinctively presented below in grayed areas, in parallel with those of Claude 3.

As previously noted with such experiments, a particular concern is with the biases introduced in framing prompts — readily challenged to the extent that they take the form of “leading questions“. Although proposed to the editors of the journal, the opportunity of framing questions from their perspective did not evoke any response. The results presented cannot therefore be construed as reflecting their approval of the exercise in any way.


Tags: , , ,

Share this article:

DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

There are no comments so far.

Join the discussion!

We welcome debate and dissent, but personal — ad hominem — attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), abuse and defamatory language will not be tolerated. Nor will we tolerate attempts to deliberately disrupt discussions. We aim to maintain an inviting space to focus on intelligent interactions and debates.

− 6 = 4

Note: we try to save your comment in your browser when there are technical problems. Still, for long comments we recommend that you copy them somewhere else as a backup before you submit them.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.