Moving Away From The Death-Centered Vision of Nature
Some environment scientists project that up to 50% of all species may be threatened with extinction in the next 100 years. Why is this happening? It is my thesis that we are following a death-centered vision of nature that is manifesting all around us.
QUESTIONING OUR MECHANICAL VIEW OF THE COSMOS
Our view of the cosmos, at least since the 17th century, has revolved around the all-cosmos-organizing use of math symbols. The most representative book of this vision is Sir Isaac Newton‘s Principia Naturalis Mathematica, which I translate The Laws of Nature as Mathematical. That view has yielded the vision of the disciplines of chemistry, physics and biotechnology, which together, we are told, most objectively fathom our world’s essence. Having this scientific perspective at our fingertips, we presumably can progress or have a commanding knowledge of all of nature.
But ecological devastation and growing health pandemics belie this claim. In truth, we are not masters even of our own bodies or spirits when in later life our health and mental integrity is often in disarray. The latter refers to such things as the growing Alzheimer’s epidemic and to the phenomenon that ever more diabetes sufferers end their lives often in near total blindness.
Thus within this essay we will revisit, with deep-seated irreverence, what I call the “soul” of modernity or the dominating modern perspective of an essentially quantitative universe. We reevaluate this quantitative view’s major applications and implications, showing that it not only involves technical or erudite science, but also has relevant influences on our daily lives, according to the principle of “as above, so below.”
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW
What this means is that our overall worldview tends to filter down from the top-rung, ivory- tower, unifying view (the dominant scheme for claiming to know something about nature’s oneness as with formulas such as E=mc2) all the way down to the lowliest of applications and finest details of everyday life. In the 17th century, the quantitative view rose to its dominant posture by more convincingly describing our solar system’s motions than the Bible. The Bible seemed to have implied that the sun rotated around the earth. At least in Genesis we were told that “the stars were made to shine upon the earth.” Did that mean we were the central focus, the apple of God’s eye, or even the center of the universe?
This sense that mechanical/mathematical insights might outpace those of the Bible was a deep shock to the soul of the medieval world. As the new worldview reversed the rotation of the outer universe (thus a “re-volutionary” view), it also turned their inner world upside down. The change in cosmic perspective then impacted other scientific explorers who wanted to emulate the genius of Sir Isaac Newton in their respective domains. One dramatic result was eventually the Industrial Revolution which brought us inventions of mechanical things like waterwheels, flying shuttles, spinning jennies and mules, water frames, power looms and cotton gins. These showcased the new-found mechanical wisdom.
The Industrial Revolution, however, was not the only outcome of this influential vision of the cosmos. Astronomers peering through telescopes (and defining all that they saw mathematically) formed a kind of ideological partnership with others peering through magnifying lenses to likewise understand microcosms. They began to look at the cells of all other living organisms, the elements within cells like nuclei, and chemicals, atoms and their sub-atomic particles all in a mechanical way. When a civilization claims to know a universal order, the principle of “as above so below” applies. Thus everyday affairs plus the microcosms of experience had to conform to the macrocosm’s mathematical essence and motions. In everyday affairs, not only mechanical inventions employed in factories but also a new science of economics now guided human interactions to best create an efficient social mechanism for progress.
Early on, however, the major inventors of machines were amateurs, working part-time at their new nuts-and-bolts inventions and wishing for mostly notoriety rather than compensation for these discoveries. Outside of impacting social changes in the Industrial Revolution, there was as yet no deep impact on our ecologies. It was not until 1833 that the term “scientist” was introduced by William Whewel, finding it necessary to designate a new professional class; and not until almost a 100 years later did that class of scientists arise significantly. By the second decade of the 20th century, there were about 10,000 scientists employed worldwide. Again the impact was largely social, as scientists created efficient killing instruments of war, being mostly employed during WWI. It is estimated that their numbers swelled to nearly a 100,000 during WWII. As Derek de Solla Price noted in his 1951 paper concerning the exponential growth of science, “Quantitative measures of the development of science,”| and published in the relatively obscure Archives Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences that 80-90 percent of all scientists who had ever lived where alive at that time.
Thereafter these same professionals sought employment in private industry and contributed to the rise of a vast array of industrial, household, agricultural, and drug-selling or pharmaceutical chemical enterprises. Their mathematizations of nature now began to penetrate also exponentially and more deeply into nature’s veils and into our surrounding environment. Scientists joined efforts with businessmen and tradesmen who had a similar orientation. It was expressed via accounting worksheets, profit-and-loss and balance-sheet statements, as well as by vendor price-tagging everything to make a profit. William Petty, sometimes considered the first ‘laissez-faire’ capitalist and also famed for his philosophy of “political arithmetic,” was a member of the Royal Society along with his friend, Sir Isaac Newton, and thus attempting to bring the Newtonian worldview down to earth, to socio-political relationships.
If the universe was math-organized, should not all our socio-ecological interactions be best organized this way too? Would not a dominantly commercial society be a best fit for living in a Newtonian “Grand-clock” cosmos? Nowadays our socio-economic relationships are organized by means of monetary ties between financial companies, employers, vendors, growers, manufacturers and service providers. The intertwining of larger-scope financial relationships used to be centered on Wall Street’s and London’s financial districts. Nowadays financial markets have evolved into much larger global webs, why booms and recessions have tended to be worldwide or globally interconnected.
Growing financial webs can thus be viewed as a further universalization of the modern quantitative worldview to which we are all accustomed to living amidst. Galaxies, social orders, ecologies, atoms, and ultimately every cell nuclei and gene expression were subdued to conform. From the moment we wake up with an alarm clock, an advance over Galileo’s simple inventions by means of Thomas Edison’s electric empowerments, we indeed wake up in this “modern world” we have created it. Throughout the average day we are further mathematizing our consciousness. We might display a social security number, credit card or bank account number; or reveal how many dollars we are willing to exchange for goods and services. We might ask a surveyor to measure a plot of land or a carpenter to fix our homes using a precision ruler, level and square. The list of ways we so structure consciousness is endless, but the degree is also unprecedented.
Given the new power of transportation and communication technologies, no part of our planet has remained untouched by our cultural footprints for very long. One of the last outposts hidden in the mountainous regions near Tibet was a previously untouched ancient civilization of the Ladakhi, and still following an ancient Tibetan Buddhist way of life. They were first discovered in the 1960’s as having no use for money. They laughed at Westerners who wanted to exchange with them their pieces of government-stamped paper called “money” for priceless heirlooms. They did not wear watches nor did they participate in our Western-style rat race. As noted in the work, Native American Mathematics, Inuit tribesmen in Alaska, like many Native Americans, lived in circular tepees (nest-like homes made of natural skins) and were reported to be astounded when they first saw European settlers living in T-squared homes.
We take our state of consciousness and our worldview for granted. We don’t allow outside and independent critiques to penetrate as we feel we are superior to primitive indigenous views, a belief that is ever reinforced by the power of our tanks, bulldozers and other technologies that we use to trample cultures. The question then arises, are we really on the “right,” let alone a superior path? Have we been well led or misled by the seminal 17th century philosophers’ worldview? A book called Ancient Futures by Helena Norberg-Hodge documents how within just one generation of the Ladakhi culture’s exposure to our Western ways, their deeply content, violence-free, highly spiritual, joyous and idyllic culture has radically degenerated.
For me a metaphor for how Western civilization has “progressed” is the predictable 20-year delay between the advent of processed sugars in a culture and the onset of Type II diabetes epidemics. Initially the sugars yield a great stimulating high. The problem is that sugar-filled products become addictive. We get hooked as no ill effects at first manifest. Later we reap illness in an insipid, unbeknownst slipping-of-consciousness way. Cell membranes throughout the body become essentially unconscious, insensitive, and not responsive to the arrival of blood glucose and insulin – so that blood sugar levels rise. In the past 20 years, the number of diabetics has risen from 30 million to 230 million worldwide.
With the trickling-down effect of the Newtonian worldview, there was also a vast and stimulating excitement with each new discovery of some mechanical means to empower us over nature, and here too we managed to get hooked. By contrast, however, the also insipid ill-effects are delayed for centuries and this makes it still harder to see through what is really going on.
Early on, very few negative major effects were noticeable from the Industrial Revolution. The skies were not yet shadowed by brown clouds as they now are over continents. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels only noted the problem of social exploitations in the 19th century. With the early 20th century crash on Wall Street we saw a further creating of social sufferings. Two reactions ensued, that of progressive capitalism under the guidance of Franklin Roosevelt and his “New Deal” (and that of some alternative approaches in socialist societies) reflecting a divide between liberal/progressive and conservative politics. The attitude was that the root problem could be fixed, one way or the other, and without impeding the advance of our industrial and commercial society and its core underlying worldview.
As a large mass of professional scientists joined together their efforts during World War II, as with the Manhattan Project, we were faced with the sudden and frightening invention of atomic weapons. The fear this invention engendered, however, was ameliorated by the promises of new progress and hope from other scientific developments – the invention of jet planes, color televisions, refrigerators, dazzling cars, ever more advanced telephone and computer technologies as means of communicating, plus even landing on the moon. There was a decade or more delay, after the newly vast dissemination of chemical products through private industry that something serious suddenly became visible. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring innovatively, poetically, and powerfully noted a growing “death specter” in nature.
Since the publication of Silent Spring in 1962, we have had reactive movements concerned with the newly threatened state of our environment, and now non-organic agriculture and nutrition. Still the essential worldview of the 17th century has largely survived unscathed. More powerful mechanical technologies thus continue to tread ever deeper into the bosom of nature, as with biopharming or the bioengineering of plants and animals and nanotechnology. More advanced atomic weapons are also on the horizon and more, not less, pesticides are now in use decades after Carson’s stirring warnings. While during Carson’s lifetime only pockets of nature and its precious species where threatened, today our ecological problems have grown to become global, as with global warming, and thereby threatening the sustainability of our entire planet, or all of its ecologies and all of its species. Carson, by the way, herself died of cancer.
DOUBTING THE MOST UNDOUBTABLE BELIEF
To reiterate again the same question, have we been put on the right course by well-meaning 17th century philosophies? I, for one, am deeply certain we have not, and that these philosophers fundamentally erred in their reasoning and deeply misunderstood the root nature of ourselves and the world we live in. It is now quite a huge task to challenge their vision head-on, to break free, and in my view to get back to seeing straight and “in the raw.” Our present educational system ever reinforces their ideology, entrenching the status quo in the subconscious of billions of children at impressionable ages, structuring the minds of future leaders of our world. It is authoritatively taught as the absolute scientific truth, and we are given icon or idolized images of superheroes like Newton and Einstein to buttress the same. If we score high on science exams, it means we have agreed with the same and thus are labeled “smart.”
Lastly, the deeply entrenched penetration of that worldview manifests itself physically. We allow math-defined, lab-created chemicals to penetrate our skins, nostrils, mouths and throughout our bodies. Synthetic chemicals are now present in what we eat, drink, touch, shower with, breathe in, and use in making clothing, medicines, make-up and personal health/hygiene aides. We may shudder that some investigative tests show huge toxic chemical traces of DDT, PCBs, and PBDEs in mothers’ breast milk and in the placenta fluids that bathe the unborn infant; or that newborns already have hundreds of toxic chemical traces in their bloodstream, chemicals which once were never found on our planet. Actually Inuit children in Alaska have some of the highest traces, as pointed out in a book called Silent Snow, The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic by Maria Cone. They also thus evidence higher statistics of mental retardation. But we are told there would be only “better living through chemistry.”
All these “wonderful” chemical elements that have now so powerfully affected our planet were, of course, first math-defined and designed. The time has been short to experience the full effect. It has been little over half a century that we’ve unleashed so many chemicals into our bodies and the surrounding environment globally, and all on the considerable faith that we are ever working with the laws of nature and not against them even as our bodies breakdown with cancers and are treated with chemotherapy to keep in step with the underlying vision). We also send out environmental scientist to threatened ecospheres to then mathematically measure what is going wrong. But maybe it is time to start doubting our most undoubted belief.
CAN AN ESSAY TAKE ON THIS ENTRENCHED VISION?
In general because ideas are subtle in form, they can penetratingly impact so many terrains, especially worldviews that are universalizing. Thus the trickle-down development of the mathematical view and its entrenchment are not unique. When ancient Chinese sages introduced a different web or “weave without a Weaver,” the yin/yang philosophy of the cosmos, it too filtered down over many centuries to guide emperors in their governing of dynasties, parents in raising their children, and doctors in treating their ill patients or preventing their ailments. What seems more unique about the mathematical vision is that it has become so globally-impacting and potent an ideational tsunami. Now we ever more reap what we have sown.
Is it then possible for us to uproot then the vastness of what we have planted and begin even a new planting of a different seed vision? Because 17th century philosophers saw their vision as doubtlessly true and thus lacked insight and foresight about its dangers, we have accumulated few, if any, tools for tilling the soils of doubt to begin a process of uprooting that vision. The mathematical view has so incredibly been allowed to proceed unhampered, thereby “metastasizing” the original misguidance. It is thus necessary to muster our own new resources for this task, namely to bring together powerfully psychological and logical or rational arguments as to why the original vision was flawed. Can then an essay and its arguments take all this on, to effectively challenge such an established vision, entrenched for centuries through unyielding justifications and now accepted as universally true? Can it question a worldview that arrogantly gives us “the” best way of looking at worldly things and how they “truly” work, and thanks to which we then can “progress?” Or do we question the Newtonian presumptions of knowing “the” universal laws or guiding principles and workings of nature, and if so how?
What then are the first steps towards this road less traveled?
WHAT IS RAW-WISDOM & ITS PSYCHOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
For me the first step is the decision not to psychologically shove “under the rug” any terrible and blatant problems tied to the mechanical worldview’s impact. We rather do the opposite. We spotlight anomalies because they are important opportunities for knowledge to make great leaps causing us to reconsider our first premises or paradigms. All is this questioning stance is made empowered by the constant guidance of what I call “raw wisdom.”
Raw wisdom is a distilled right-brain dominant view of our world. Thus the adjective “raw” refers to seeing things naked of artificial mental dressing-ups. We take off all the “costumes” or concepts through which we reach out to all our senses, without granting any special privileges to the scientific, yin/yang philosophy or any other ideological positions. Studies have shown that the right brain usually offers us the pre-conceptual view of experiences in the raw. For example, we might look at a person’s skin color as “black” when their skin color is closer to a shade of brown. Concepts in our mind can frequently impose images onto our senses that bear only a vague resemblance to “raw experience.” When there is a mental imbalance or too much of such left-brain impositions of concepts, we need the right brain’s raw way of seeing to truly bring us “back to our senses.”
Concepts are also outline images in our mind that we use to guide the focusing of awareness towards an object and then to separate out that object in our consciousness. Left-brain dominant awareness, conceptually-guided, can then expertly focus on “progressive consciousness separations,” or more simply said, ever finer separate details and each in time-sequential and spatially separate-stepped ways. Right-brain dominant awareness tends to do the exact opposite, to unfocus, to thus look at more than separate details, including overviewing and holistic perspective. A right-brain damaged person can thus fail to recognize a close relative’s face, while still being able to describe that relative’s facial details. If we have an environmental pollution problem, for example, a more left-brain dominant search for a solution is to go directly to the site, measure in detail the exact amount and degree of the presence of a chemical, put the numbers their measurements on a chart and then perhaps remove it and measure again. The only problem is that the solution is superficial if we continue to create and distribute more of the same chemicals. A right-brain posture is to look at the vastest overview of how such chemicals were first formed (here out of an ideology of nature introduced centuries ago into our culture), thus veering attention to the deeper and whole solution.
There are still larger overviews of how the consciousness of humanity evolved, taking great leaps with tool-making and the evolution of written languages. In the West, this progression of major changes included the fact that back in ancient Greek times there occurred a “cultural brain-polarity shift.” The Greeks used to read their texts from-right-to-left, indicating right-brain dominance. Over a period of a hundred and fifty years they switched to a reading from-left-to-right, after the introduction of vowels. The vowels made each separate word have a distinct meaning, which triggers the functioning of the left brain, and it was no longer necessary to know whole contexts to gather the meaning of a writer. This cultural brain-polarity shift coincided with the advent of the Golden Age of Greece, when distinctly left-brain-dominant views began to form the more exacting Western mind and established the soil in which the seed idea for an essentially mathematical universe blossomed in the 17th century. Unfortunately, and taken to extremes, this has now come to various forms of “black fruition” in our times.
What can be noted from this larger historical perspective is that while the discovery of a right/left-brain split has largely been applied in the field of psychology to a treatment of ill patients (sometimes even trying to help epileptics by cutting the neural chords between the hemispheres) here we apply this same knowledge of a brain-polarity split to entire cultures, including our own, and to later understand the root nature of consciousness itself (a wider overview still and as outlined in raw wisdom’s philosophy). Actually the distinction of left/right-brain functions can be viewed as a misnomer because in 10-15 percent of individuals, the mind’s functioning reverses or switches sides. But this also means the dominant function holds in 85-90 percent of individuals so we will retain this partly inadequate terminology. Later I will distinguish this split as representing two types of consciousness, connective and separative, to which brain cells alternatively tune in, in a polarized way, independent of any unique biological cell structures.
We have learned from modern psychology’s decades of focus on right/left-brain studies that the typical left-brain-damaged patient (due to car accidents or strokes) may lose their mathematical and verbal abilities but will still make sense or retain a kind of inner wholeness and emotional balance. However, a right-brain-damaged person is more likely to “lose it,” to exhibit violent schizophrenia, dementia or to see their inner world wholesale collapsing, falling apart and not making sense. What if the same applies to a culture as a whole? Robert Ornstein’s The Right Mind, Making Sense of the Hemispheres is one of the few books that proposes this leap in insight. It then follows that an essentially right-brain-dominant view gives a deep sense of wholeness, and an essentially left-brain-dominant view yields the opposite: a dissecting, disintegration, separating, and breaking-apart perspective that will ultimately cause us to become culturally deranged or to “lose it” collectively. Since the mathematical view is about to be depicted as the pinnacle left-brain orientation, abstracting how to separate all elements of consciousness, it becomes not surprising that we consider literally “re-volutionizing” our inner cosmic perspective, as we turn to a right-brain-dominant guidance for a different primary means to regain our footings, or to escape the entanglements of the quantitative vision. In short, we turn to raw wisdom.
Evidence is then presented that the math-bound orientation does, in fact, operate to separate all elements of consciousness, does therefore represent the left-brain view, and does thus quintessentially fail to deliver on its claims, namely that it offers the most unified and objective vision of nature. Could a culture that is extremely left-brain-dominant exhibit what a patient does with the same condition, namely a breakdown? I call this the psychological argument against the mathematical ideology as it extends to a social level what is well grounded in the field of psychology and brain research. Because I cannot see how the mathematical view can deliver other than a psychologically disintegrative posture (ultimately an ill culture with deadly consequences for its surrounding ecologies), this essay’s critique of the mathematical stance could rest its case on this psychological argument alone. The other arguments for moving away from the mathematical view may be vital or they could be considered trimmings to the core perspective that a separative cultural brain polarity never becomes connective, whole or healed. This moving away from the mathematical view is importantly followed, in a second essay, by a moving towards an opposite, right-brain-dominant orientation of raw wisdom, and to make a shift thus to a connective-consciousness and ultimately life-centered vision of nature.
LOGICAL AND RATIONAL ARGUMENTS
Among the logical and rational arguments referred to as “trimmings” are the following:
- A Gross Misdirection: Symbols that universally separate elements of consciousness, the mathematical, are used to try to gain a whole and integral view of nature. We employ the left-brain to try to arrive at a right brain view. Actually this tends to direct awareness towards surface-separative appearances, and in allopathic medicine towards what is the treatment of isolated symptoms (which does not authentically heal the body as a whole).
- A Root Contradiction: mathematical view employs the highest abstractions for separating all elements of consciousness to thereby best connect all elements or to glue vision together using the strongest, sharpest “ideational chainsaw blades.” In the extreme we build atomic weapons based on our most “unifying” formulas.
- Ignoring the Anomaly of a Non-Indivisible Atom: What in our sensory experience contradicts the mechanical ideology is generally ignored or viewed as insignificant. For example, when Newton professed to know that God created nature’s building blocks to mirror those of mathematics (“indivisible 1s” as in 1/1=1 or physically atoms) and when these indivisible atoms later it was found out to have subatomic parts or were not indivisible, the atomic view was not abandoned.
- Ignoring the Anomaly of God’s Imprecise Periodic Table of Elements: For another example, referring to the periodic table of elements, again atoms by divine design were supposed to be arranged in some pure mathematical order, yet when the atomic mass (or ma) of the isotope of hydrogen was found not to be a pure “1” but rather 1.00794 grams/mole, the anomaly was not “given weight” in questioning this vision.
- Ignoring the Anomaly of Non-Mechanical Motion: When Galileo and Newton proceeded to universally math-define all motions in nature, they blatantly ignored (or discounted as ultimately mechanical) the anomaly of living organisms routinely moving non-mechanically. There is simply no recognition of qualifiers. Newton’s first “universal” law of nature describes how a dead, unconscious something will continue to move mechanically in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force. This is the beginning of a death-focused upon or centered vision of nature – ultimately a death-delivering ideology as it was later ever more deeply forced upon nature.
- Ignoring that the Treatment of Organisms as Machines Ultimately Destroys Life – Disassemble an organism the way we do a machine and life dies. Might the same not happen to entire ecospheres and eventually our entire living planet as we everywhere mathematize, monetarize, patent life forms and mechanize?
- Seeing Vitalism as Unscientific/Unreal: This ideology also moves systematically away from recognizing life and connective-consciousness as vital or real principles in nature, often claiming these are phantoms or best left to religious,/mystical/spiritual studies or to subjective/irrational/anecdotal discussions, not scientifically objective or ”truer” real/precise discourses.
- Leaving Behind a Life-Stripped Ideology: No life or consciousness principle can be found in this philosophy of nature’s universal deadness.
- Favoring the Creation of Machines: We then follow the fatal mistake of favoring the creation of machines (made of separate math-designed parts), or universally drawing out the mechanical/death-principle from nature, rather than nurturing and eliciting of what is life and consciousness, including in and out of ourselves.
- Ignoring How Mathematization of Awareness Deeply Corrupts Consciousness: While claiming a mathematical view yields the most objective or psychologically whole view, this ignores the fact that the strongest losses of consciousness objectivity ensue (as with greed) due to the bias of separative views. To deeply separate all elements of consciousness is to focus, tunnel vision and de-objectify or corrupt the wholeness of awareness.
- Ignoring When Life Dies – If you do not believe that the math-centered vision is the death-centered and delivering, and that this is evidence-based, take a large random mix of chemicals and throw them into a compost heap. This is to test not the effect of one or another chemical (the bottom-up approach that provides little wisdom) but that of the entire underlying order, the creation of what follows math-designs. Then watch all of life in the heap very quickly die. The same happens in toxic waste dumps.
- Deepening the Illusion – The corruption of consciousness that a left-brain dominant view engenders can become ingrained because of the following: while the right brain view connects with what is heart-centered and consciously felt (and as the opposite of the separative-consciousness view that tends to connect with the body’s adrenal energy to force a view outward to the surface, and derivatively exhibiting a need for aggressive control. This deepens the primary illusion, the loss of a true grasp on raw reality.
There are some mundane and non-harming uses of math symbols in the guidance of daily life, though under strict supervision. Examples include the use of those symbols to organize separative focusing or targeting of awareness as we do with the use of phone numbers, file numbers and street addresses. But this is quite different from using those symbols to supposedly represent the master key to the essence of nature, and as being separative. To ignore, resist or diminutize the significance of anomalies, and crises that now engulf us, or to do the same with the psychological and logical arguments, in my opinion, does violence towards reason. When I worked on Wall Street, and for nearly a decade, I could daily see the corruptions-of-consciousness that a money-centered world entails, much of it never disclosed. What we don’t suspect is that the mathematical vision of nature as such entails related corruptions and with much larger, more detrimental consequences. When those corruptions of consciousness enter a partnership with the commercial world, nature is cooked.
To summarize the foregoing, and from the very beginning so as not lose the overview of the whole, in my personal life and coming from a Holocaust-surviving family, I developed a very deep concern for the larger issues facing our planet and began to look for root causes for the sufferings we endure. This overall concern brought me to focus on a critique of the modern ideology of nature that has trickled down to impact us so powerfully over centuries, and in accordance with the principle called “as above, so below.” Since we are whole living organisms our collective human psyches seem to want to have a whole, non-contradictory vision of the cosmos, and therefore such visions tend to universally bring all of experience into a single central paradigm, a “spider-web ideology of unity.” A main psychological reason is then given, plus logical or rational arguments, why this mechanical, math-based understanding was on the one hand a good choice when wanting to build machines but a poorest of choices when trying to capture nature’s essence and essential unity. The notion is presented that the mechanical view most deeply fails to understand life and consciousness, and as forming the raw/authentic root essence and unity of nature - rather than matter and energy defined mathematically as a lineage of chemists and physicists proposed.
FURTHER DOWN THE REDUCTIONIST LADDER, MAKING THE MECHANICAL UNDERSTANDING PERSONAL
As strong as the above psychological and logical arguments may be considered to be for the uprooting of the quantitative vision of nature’s essence, they can also deeply fail to touch us enough personally to be convincing. To separate an element of consciousness is to focus, tunnel and bind or addict consciousness, which is exactly why the mathematical view, the most separative, becomes intrinsically telescopic/microscopic, and like many “tunnel visions” addictively entrenched. What I have found is that as someone faces a critical health challenge like cancer, a serious personal inner “falling apart” of the integrity of their body and if it is a condition that can be traced to the impacts of our polluted world, that person is quite more likely to make the vast leap within to confront and overturn a vision that has created precisely that causal, polluted outside world. The drive to know an alternative truth then can become strong enought to “conquer mountains,” to overcome the potent momentum of the most entrenched illusion of our times.
This essay thus proceeds to take the reader on a tour that relates to this theme, namely a step-by-step ride down the “reductionist mechanical ladder.” We follow the same “as above, so below” principle though here applied in more detail, and certainly in a more penetratingly way when it relates to own intimate health and well-being. Thus in regard to our body’s structural nature, back in the 17th century William Harvey, in his Motion of The Heart and Blood in Animals, surmised, following Galileo’s lead, that our hearts were designed by our Creator in a manner similar to a mechanical pump, with pipes coming in and out to form our body’s circulatory system.
This mechanical view implied that the heart functioned in a way best measured via numerical readings of blood pressure, heartbeats, and brachial pulses per second, and so on. In modern times, such vital signs are recorded as numbers on a doctor’s chart and thereby the mechanical nature of our bodies is supposedly best revealed or diagnosed. Accordingly, we follow whatever the allopathic doctor says we should follow, as the average person is rarely trained in the intricacies of biochemistry, physics, and genetics as is the physician, bioengineer or pharmaceutical chemist is. We are told to then give over authority and responsibility to another who can better guide us, at least in our health matters. The allopathic physician may wear a white coat representing a purity of knowledge and a stethoscope to symbolize also their relating to our hearts in tandem with William Harvey’s 17th-century mechanical view. If the heart is just a pump, let us measure the flow of fluids via that pump and little more. This image of a so best knowing healing professional, and again wearing a stethoscope in white coats, has been subliminally ingrained into our sub-consciousness, why physicians tend to maintain the power of that image in image-building advertisements and often in daily practice even when in the particular practice a stethoscope is rarely use.
The tendency to apply the mechanical view to our bodies, and in an authoritative way, goes far beyond the province of knowing what is best for our hearts. The structure and functioning of our entire body is supposedly akin to the structure and function of galaxies, or where the knowledge of matter and energy moving mechanically defines things as they are. Everything is supposedly made up of the same schemata, near and far. Thus we can trace the application of this mechanical view then down “the reductionist mechanical ladder” in understanding our own living bodies.
With a simple physical touch, we learn we have a skeletal structure under the skin that holds our organs in place, and the bones themselves are held in place by our muscular tissues. The organs so encased are also interlaced with fat cells, nerves and blood or lymph vessels plus certain body fluids. We can focus on a given organ selectively, and each apparently seems made up of tissues and cells. For example, kidney tissues appear composed of specialized renal cells. Within each renal cell, we see a membrane, cytoplasm, and a nucleus. Trillions of such cells also co-exist alongside trillions more of bacteria, viruses, fungi, molds, and other intra/intercellular organisms. If we now focus on the cell membranes, we perceive they are made up of lipids, fats, or triglycerides as well as some protein. If we examine the proteins, we can acknowledge they are made up amino acids. If we further examine the amino acids, they certainly are composed of chemical compounds. These compounds, in turn, are comprised of rudimentary chemical elements as defined in the periodic table. Not stopping there, the chemical elements appear to be defined by their constituent atoms, and atoms look like they are just an organization of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons, going a step further, seem populated by quarks. Maybe still tinier entities exist or sub-quarkians on the next rung down the magnification ladder, and which are yet undiscovered.
We might wonder where all this leads us in the end or does the progression, the taking apart of what is whole, ever stop? Is the world, and ourselves made up of just what I call “math-revelatory” or material forms that reveal mathematical order? Are we nothing more than assemblies of infinitesimal quarks or quark-parts all best math-defined in a physicist’s or chemist’s notebook, and does this jive with our intuitions? How is it that we also have thoughts, joys, sufferings, tears and dreams? Are they just coming out of those quarks and their quaintly quirky dreams? Where does our inner life and consciousness really fit into this pulverized picture-puzzle, an “ever-more-dissected-into-smaller-pieces” vision of our nature? Is the whole more than the sum of its parts? With a typical machine you can take out all its parts and reassemble them so that the machine runs even better. With a living organism, plant or animal, you cannot do the same. Once desecrated by wholesale dissection, the life of the organism dies. Isn’t that true, and if so why? This essay is not the first to ask such questions. Poets and philosophers have done so repeatedly for centuries, and also have often thrown up their hands in coming up with definitive answers. There is, rather, an intuitive sense that something simply doesn’t make sense.
Could it be that a vision which ever dissects nature into components fundamentally misunderstands or is not focused on our true nature? Might that vision then grossly mislead us in the healing arts? Is it any surprise that surgery, the cutting of the body into parts, is exactly what is of central importance in allopathic/mechanically-directed medicine? I point this out because the healing arts are here proposed as the most intimate proving ground of our modern worldview for each of us. Health pandemics and ecological crises loudly hint something is indeed going wrong. Vast as our knowledge may seem, it is falling short. Until each of us, however, comes face-to-face with a dire personal health challenge and allopathic (separative consciousness/mechanical) approaches fail to rescue us, we might not ever take in the logical and psychological arguments against the modern vision with too much seriousness. This is what occurred in my own life.
MY OWN DISSILLUSIONMENT
In my childhood I grew up knowing my family had been through a terrible survival ordeal. It was unspeakable, and in fact my parents rarely opened their souls to talk about it. My step-father had been in Auschwitz, and the proof remained on his forearm, in the form of a faded tattoo number. I used to see that number daily, though I refused to memorize it as my eyes would look away. Indeed he was treated just “like a number,” a cog in a wheel of a camp run to most efficiently exterminate human beings, men, women and children. The quantifying tattoo was an intrinsic part of a de-humanizing process. Living beings were also cut apart for medical experiments, first while alive and then as corpses – again men, women and children. They were dismembered for more than medical experiments as the “ideal” Nazi society would not countenance any waste. The Nazi’s used human hair to make textile weaves, and the gold teeth to make gold bars or jewelry. The wholeness of each human being, whether Jewish, Gypsy and the like, was desecrated. There was no respect for life as such.
The Nazis were, after all, “scientific socialists” and “social scientists” engineering a new civilization, minus unwanted elements. Not to forget, even the gas chambers were well designed, made with precision by German technicians and scientists. They were engineered in accordance with a left-brain dominant worldview wherein the principle of life was not recognized as “real,” and nature was reduced to dead solids, liquids, and gases. Ultimately all things were math-defined in so many respects in the Nazi worldview as much as with the rest of the world. The West and the Nazis competed to design atomic weapons. I intuitively revolted against their vision, expressed by defining my step-dad as a number.
While such images about concentration camps were deeply ingrained in my childhood, even these images were not strong or deep enough to ultimately cause me to turn away from the “soul” of modern culture and to seek another worldview. It was rather something that hit home, again due to a personal health challenge. At the age of 17 I became very ill and seemed to have no one to turn to for guidance. I realized, shockingly, that the adult experts in white coats knew less than they paraded to know. Actually most of the allopathic approaches did considerable harm, and so I was left to search for my own way out.
COMING TO SIMILAR CONCLUSIONS
The reader may come to a similar place someday, not feeling quite right, or being seriously ill. We all age and ultimately have to face issues of how best to preserve, retain, or return to having our life force intact, or let go. When in ill states, we may go to our most trusted allopathic doctors who represent the conventional wisdom. Unadvertised as such, they represent the root quantitative worldview of our cosmos as applied very intimately to our bodies. The doctor has thus diligently studied chemistry, physics, and genetics in pre-med school and now can accurately administer recommended tests with lab precision and can give out medical charts composed of a conglomeration of raw numbers for insurance reimbursement and peer review. The physician also prescribes mostly pharmaceuticals that are likewise math-designed and arise in their creation out of the very same core way of not only seeing but reorganizing our consciousness of things.
On a superficial or symptomatic level, the doctor’s approach apparently works. The worldview seems vindicated. Taking sleeping pills may put us right to sleep. Painkillers do relieve us of pain. Anesthetics can make us numb and taking blood pressure pills will lower our blood pressure, or cholesterol pills our cholesterol levels. Taking anti-depressants even may make us feel joyous or with a positive rush inside. The approach is thus scientific and not illusionary. Right? So where is the larger problem? The changing of separate symptoms masks the real and deeper causes so that the mind/body/spirit are neither truly understood or healed. Illusions are not just composed of unrealities, but also of surface, symptomatic appearances or a disintegrated, thus corrupted consciousness view.
More likely we will be worse off due to side-effects and long-term pollution of our inner terrain engendered by ingesting synthetic chemicals. Seeing through subterfuges and outright lies, it is fairly easy to document the wholesale failures of modern medicine in terms of bringing us towards deep healing. Occasionally an allopathic-trained medical doctor from the ranks will reveal what goes on behind the scenes as in Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn’s Confessions of a Medical Heretic. If most drugs are poisons for healthy individuals, how can they ever heal the sick? Why are we manipulated or fooled to think otherwise through the amelioration of surface, symptomatic appearances for greedy purposes? Mendelsohn especially documents the wholesale failure of most heart and cardiovascular treatments, addressing the most prevalent chronic ailment of our times and why there have been no real statistical improvements in alleviating coronary heart diseases in a hundred years.
The reports of others, like Dr. Lorrain Day, author of Cancer Doesn’t Scare Me Anymore, undresses the cruel deceptions of the cancer industry, documenting the wholesale failure of chemotherapy, and where patients are deceptively told about statistics of relative survival rates that are actually negligible in absolute terms. The work of Dr. Gabriel Cousens addresses the similar deceptions of the diabetes industry, claiming the disease is incurable, when actually the cure process is simple and routine. The industry remains silent about much of the devitalization of foods in the modern diet, as it countenances the purveyors of that devitalization. So much of modern medicine misleads to make profits, and where the aim to maximize profits is a major form of the mathematization of consciousness that corrupts the very integrity of that consciousness. There are dozens of texts we recommend that document how modern medicine is more about economics than healing.
The bottom line is that many remain blind believers in the fold and fall prey to a harming medical system. It has been estimated that iatrogenic or medical-system-caused deaths are at least the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
There are several ways we can also radically turn away from this modern culture of death. We can avoid visits to allopathic physicians who view our bodies as only mechanical in nature, and prescribe mostly surgery, pharmaceuticals, chemotherapy and radiation. We then can buck the tide of the cultural programming that supposedly we need to “see a doctor whenever we are ill” (beyond when just requiring emergency surgical treatment). We can instead seek the wisest of natural health advice. When shopping to feed our families, we can avoid processed, adulterated and chemically-laced foods and instead turn to organically-grown foods (grown with elements that do not potentially poison both our bodies and our environment). If elderly, we can avoid nursing homes where docile patients are drugged into virtual zombie-like oblivion. We can instead live drug-free and with family members or loving caretakers. If we are young with an inquiring mind and wanting to learn ever more about our world’s essence, we might turn away from conventional teachings and approaches, including those found in laboratories where using scalpels and Bunsen burners to cut or burn nature’s elements apart for analysis is routine. We turn away from separative perspectives that, in extreme applications, have led us to penultimate means of tearing nature apart, as with the atom bomb as with creating roads in the middle of rainforests.
Overall I have a passion to steer the reader away from a death-centered vision of nature to a different connective-consciousness view. This is the same as a life-centered vision that can guide us, amid the worst of chronic ailments and surrounding ecological crises, more integrally back to health and wholeness of our selves and our ecologies. Can we find such an alternative path?
It is not an easy task as the scientists we typically turn to for answers rarely question their own deepest tenets, or rarely become heretics in relationship to the quantitative vision. As Thomas Kuhn pointed out in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, when anomalies, gross failures and contradictions are first discovered in regard to our favorite paradigm or to what we give greatest allegiance, the initial reaction can still be intense psychological denial and resistance. If we alternatively turn to religions, to our priests, rabbis and pastors (or doctors of the spirit) they may rely on intuition or ancient wisdom schools for guidance. But the problem is that in most of those ancient religious or wisdom traditions little directly addresses certain modern crises, such as how and why chemicals, designed under the guidance of the mathematical view of nature, now pollute our bodies and our planet. You will not find warnings about or any direct critique of the mechanical worldview in the Bible, the Dao de Jing, Koran, Upanishads, or most all other ancient wisdom texts. In short, we are very much in need of relevant and piercing new wisdom. For this purpose I have developed the philosophy of “raw wisdom.”
In that vision, nature essence is seen as alive, functioning more like that of an organism than a machine, and thus having a state of cosmic consciousness with definitive relationships within that form more essential, non-mechanical laws of nature. We, as human beings, having life and consciousness can then exhibit the same as micro-models or microcosms of our universe. And so might other living creatures. That consciousness, however, does not necessarily form a landscape of separate, atomic parts, (or of matter and energy defined mathematically). What if we could discover entirely different relationships in that consciousness than the mathematical in a paradigm shift of vision? Suppose also that some of those relationships will take us directly to our inner essence, and others away, and that mechanical view is here seen as taking us away. As a result we give allegiance to what will fails to pull us out of inner darkness, unconsciousness and will often take us deeper into the opposite direction - eliciting the unconsciousness of a machine. Progressive application of that grossly failing vision then yields a predictable eco-holocaust and a simultaneous rise in unstopped health pandemics and likewise unimpeded global chemical pollution. We may ignore all this or turn a blind eye at our own risk.
In this mix is another kind of cause of suffering that should likewise not be ignored, namely that of social isolation. The single person living alone has been for a whole the largest rising social statistic in the US and in other “developed” nations. Since 2000, the number of households with wife, husband and child has fallen below that of single- person households). On the other hand social nets on the Web try to fill the void and to counterbalance the loss of extended families and tight-knit neighborhoods. This can be seen as a further reflection of what is manifesting throughout our culture, and added the pervasive ecological and health deterioration. Some predict even our average lifespan may soon decline. This is happening even as young athletes break still more Olympic records. One might say this disguises the pandemics of health problems since most of the six major serious chronic ailments (and created by our stress-filled, fast-food culture) show up later in life, though now at younger ages than before). Thus “adult-onset diabetes” had to be renamed Type II diabetes as ever more children exhibited the same.
Insights into how a progressive civilization could start to so decline, and while its technological progress and economic globalization or expansive development were skyrocketing, might be obtained by turning away from conventional “wisdom.”