Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Considering Frameworks, Contexts, and the Naked Hokey-poky

Please forgive my absence from my own blog here. I've been involved with a rather intense season of thinking lately. Some of my thinking has been carried out over at the 13.7 blog's commentary section. While I like that blog as a whole, I especially like the work Stuart Kauffman is doing. Perhaps the one thing I relate most to in his work, is the sense that there's something more to reality than our current frameworks can give voice or vision to. He's sensing this problem of an insufficient framework, predominantly from his context of science, while I'm seeing it predominantly, from a context of religion. For reasons I'll explain later, you could enlarge our respective contexts and describe his as one of Physics, and mine as one of Meaning. In the meantime, I want to address the ideas of frameworks and contexts.

So what am I meaning by frameworks- or contexts? Well, I think we've come to see that reality is not only made of parts, it's also made of wholes that parts make up. Our organs for instance, combine along with other parts to make a whole that is our body: within the context/framework of biology, the heart pumps blood, while in the context/framework of romance, the heart pumps luuuuv.... Simply put, context/frameworks are the overarching "logic" of a whole that organize the meaning of its underlying parts. For instance, seeing someone off in the distance standing and moving their body in random and distorted ways doesn't make sense to us- at least until we get closer and hear the music.... What changed in our ability to make sense of this randomly moving person? Context, right? Because you have a framework about dancing, you were able to involve music in your assessment of the situation and call it normal. (Still, your framework might not allow for our once-randomly -moving-figure-now- dancer, to be naked in public, but at least the dancing part fits:-)

Our Frameworks are important because of this: As human being, we don't see with our eyes, we see with our ideas. What our bio-eyes and brain do, is process the stuff which light illuminates. What our mind's eyes and thinking does on the other hand, is make sense of what is seen by either set of eyes, and to do this, we need ideas. What you're able to see depends on the ideas by which you choose to see with, and- you don't really see something until you experience the sensation of "ah- now I see." Do you see what I'm saying? In other words, your bio-eyes pick up photons illuminating a moving thing on the horizon. Your ideas saw a naked person doing the hokey-poky to a song you remember from your youth when you were roller skating with your friends at the roller rink, and the d.j. got everybody to shift from their personal random boogies to a group event where each in unison dipped their body parts in and out and....

So this is what I'm trying to get at by talking about a context of Physics and one of Meaning: More than a branch of science, Physics is an over-all framework from which to approach the world; Physics at heart is looking at the world in terms of cause and effect. In this sense, even though other branches of science differ from the branch called physics in scope and content and the like, science, I would say is always looking through a primary lens of cause and effect- or Physics. As does our culture at large.

Yet as I'm pointing out here, ideas are central to our seeing; a seeing that doesn't entail from light and optics, but entail from thinking within Meaning: we rely on a different illumination to move about our environments than any other species. Meaning is very different than Physics. So while Physics can make sense of animals acting in their environment, it's an insufficient framework from which to fully understand the human animal living in world. Without a sufficient framework to consider Meaning, we can't sufficiently grasp our Humanness.

And as one who comes from a context we've called religion, I would note that a lot of our religious thinking is at heart Physics based, and lacks a sophisticated vision of Meaning.

Also of note is this: Stuart Kauffman and I, while not knowing one another, each have been dealing with the insufficiency of our beginning frameworks when it comes to their ability to see the reality at large; and as we worked for better solution, we both were drawn into the idea of Creativity: I love his idea that sees the Universe existing as Ceaseless Creativity. I would offer that the GoD Jesus points to is this Ceaseless Creativity; so we're mistaken to think as we typically do, that GoD's ultimate concern is obedience. To me, our mistaken idea is embodied in the parable of The Three Talents where the person Jesus confronts is the one who merely buries his alloted talent; while the ones who create with theirs are admired....

But that's a post for the future.