Biologically Constituted Realities, Part Five – Paradigm Relativity and the Limitations of Science: Understanding Our Limitations, We Approach the Mystical

How We Might Come to Know: In Tossing Away Our Species Blinders, We Relearn That Consciousness Is Infinite, Yes … but Fantastic as Well.


In tossing away our species blinders, we approach a truth far beyond science, though not overturning science…. In doing this we see that it is the mystics and the consciousness researchers who are likely to have the most accurate angle on Reality.

Ultimately this means that now that we know that common sense materialism is simply a biological construct of the species human, we can relearn that it is Consciousness that is our only knowable Reality, but also that it is Infinite, yes, but Fantastic as well.

Summary: Our sciences have led us to learn that what we call reality is what we have found to be useful for us as a species, but that it is not necessarily what is True and is certainly not all that is true or real. So we find that the Reality of It All or the All That Is gets reduced down from what it is to the snippet of it that we have found to be biologically useful.

But if we wish to know not merely what is practical but what is actually True or Reality, we need to go way beyond the smattering of facts thrown up by our ordinary senses and the sciences that are extensions of them. There are levels of that diminution of Reality—from All That Is down through what the individual knows to be true. So to know what is True, we need to reverse those reductions in true understanding.

We find that in doing this reversal, some startling things are revealed. For example, from the perspective of each greater awareness, each more limited perspective becomes understandable and the different ones of those perspectives can be compared. For example, it is difficult for one individual to truly understand another. However, standing within a knowledge of psychology in general we have a better understanding of another and we can compare one individual’s reality with another and come up with meaningful and true conclusions, even comparisons and evaluations. That is, indeed, why we have the science of psychology in the first place.

But at the level of cultures, a similar thing happens. Anthropologists come necessarily to the conclusion that another culture cannot truly be understood by someone standing in a different culture. Just as one individual cannot exactly understand another’s reality, it is even more impossible for someone from one culture to be able to truly view the world through the lenses or worldview of those born into another culture.

However, here again, we can have a better understanding of each culture and can even compare cultures somewhat when coming from the perspective of our common human biology. For all cultures have to relate to the nature of our body and its abilities, senses, and capabilities. All cultures make constructions about, around, and from the particular biological frame that humans have, so cultures can be compared at least in relation to those commonalities of humans. This means more than just that cultures can be compared in relation to biological realities like birth and death, for it is even important and instructive to compare them to more basic realities of human biology such as pain, pleasure, happiness, liberty, and so on. All humans feel and have concepts about these things. However, we see how non-absolute these realities are as soon as we look at the realities or consciousness of life forms other than human. Can we truly say that a lizard has a concept about liberty or happiness? Can we say that an amoeba or bacteria feels freedom or the lack of it.

It follows that to understand truth beyond our biologically constituted realities … to be able to get an idea of what reality might be for entities and life in general and not just humans, we would need to stand inside a paradigm of understanding that would apply to all species—both known and unknown. We would need to take a stance on the foundation of a trans-species perspective—that is, what is true for all species, not just humans. This is what science says it is attempting to do, but it actually does not. Because we have found out that sciences can only look in areas that we as humans ahead of time have an idea that something might be. In other words, science is an extension of our senses. So to do more, we have to expand our imagination to include what might be the perspectives of other species … other planetmates. This is what we our doing with our planetmate consciousness … our Planetmate Views. It is what The Great Reveal is all about.

But, you say, how can we do that? How can we know the way another being or life form, other than human, might view Reality? We can’t. But the point is we are more likely to come up with something truer than what we already know when we at least try to do that. And trying to do that means starting with dropping the presupposition, the arrogance, that humans have a superior and more real understanding of Reality. And when we do that, simply that alone, we already find we have a much expanded understanding of what is really Real. For even what we are able to know about other species shows us some of the ways they see things differently than us. So simply by not assuming we are the pinnacle of creation and acknowledging that, for example, a dog really does have more accurate smelling ability and an eagle a greater ability to see, and imagining what that would mean for us or keeping that in mind, we come to an appreciation of ourselves as a part of Nature, not a ruler of Nature; just as in our understandings of the realities-subjectivities-feelings of other humans led us to know that we are not rulers of other people; just as our understanding of other cultures have led us to know that one culture is not better, superior to, or more dominant over another.

The conclusions from all this understanding is that our sciences are important in establishing facts and reality, but the ones they come up with are only relative to our species, not necessarily to any other species, and not necessarily do they give us a true idea of What Really Is.

You think this is irrelevant to know? Well, to give just one example, think of all our forays into space and our imaginings of other beings from other than this planet. If you take the perspective that I am encouraging here, you will notice how astoundingly naïve are our expectations and how crude the instruments we use to detect other life forms. For they all are built on an expectation of finding beings that are at least somewhat like ourselves. You say, no, our scientists aren’t assuming other beings of high consciousness would look like us. But you should know I mean that in our scientists saying what are the building blocks of life–water, and so on–they are showing a bias about “life” that it is something like what we know. Notice also that even the idea that a “higher” level of consciousness itself has its roots in this idea that a human consciousness is superior to other kinds we know of.

So these assumptions built into our science are laughable in their arrogance. Meanwhile, in understanding how limited and relative is our human perspective, we are able to imagine other possibilities for life and its variations. We begin to approach the perspectives of mystics. We begin to understand how it is not outside the realm of possibility that even what we consider non-life and inanimate to be somehow conscious or a form of consciousness, even if we cannot call it “life”—which is, we see now, itself part of our limited species interpretation.

So, in tossing away our species blinders, we approach a truth far beyond science, though not overturning science. What Is ends up not, as fundamentalists might think, opposed to science, rather inclusive of science … but including so, so much more. And in doing this we see that it is the mystics and the consciousness researchers who are likely to have the most accurate angle on Reality.

Ultimately this means that now that we know that common sense materialism is simply a biological construct of the species human, we can relearn that it is Consciousness that is our only knowable Reality, but also that it is Infinite, yes, but Fantastic as well.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” Albert Einstein

“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.” Albert Einstein (1945)

How We Might Come to Know

In light of what I said earlier concerning the underlying “biological” rationale for the “real-world” information that is the usual purview of our sciences, I emphasize this point of Huxley’s on the criterion of usefulness in determining what is normally regarded as real and true . . . and especially this usefulness as being relative to biological survival.

The Levels of Reality Construction

The point I am making is that we may profitably consider each level of reality construction—from the levels of biologically constituted realities down through the various levels of cultural constructions of reality—as levels in the diminution of reality (cf., Adzema, 1991). This focusing on the specifics to the exclusion of more wholistic perspectives may have more “biological” usefulness. But the point is that any scientific endeavor that would seek to be anything more than merely pragmatic (and actually venture after truth) must undo or reverse that diminution—must indeed be aware of the self-constructed nature of the creations with which it is normally concerned.

Paradigm Relativity

The upshot of all of this is that the elements (“particles”) operating within any particular paradigm are closed to each other, “sealed.” On the other hand, standing on the basis of a “deeper,” or more encompassing, paradigm; translation, discourse, and transfer of information can truly occur. As an example, looked at from the playing field of culture, we come to the conclusion of epistemological relativism—i.e., that cultures are sealed from one another; no genuine dialogue is possible across their boundaries. However, looking at these same cultures within the playing field of the physical or biological (i.e., standing on those “brute facts”), we see that discourse, transfer, and translation occur once again. [Footnote 4]

For this reason also, we can see why it seems that biological anthropologists and primatologists are so much less bothered by issues of epistemological relativism than are cultural anthropologists.

But then, standing on these “brute” (i.e., biological) facts, we are confronted with a new relativism—that regarding the worldviews of one species over against another. We see that species are epistemologically sealed from one another and that a trans-species reality is seen to be as impossible as a transcultural one was while standing within the playing field of culture.

Thus, though each culture is epistemologically sealed in relation to reality, it is not so in relation to other cultures (at least in a relative sense—that is, relative to our separation from Reality as Such). For all cultures of humans exist within a common biological paradigm that is concerned with all that is related to biological survivability (though not to Reality as Such). It means that cultural paradigms can be compared in relation to common species-specific factors.

Usefulness and Limitations of Science

In this way we see why investigation of this Newtonian-Cartesian universe that we perceive with our senses and that we have constructed with the aid of our sciences is important. For it can provide additional data that has the possibility of being biologically useful.

Contrary to the conclusion from the total-symbolic-heritage view, science can be seen as more than “mere ethnoscience”—that is, science as being merely one more part of a culture and with no more claim to validity than any other view.

Levels of Usefulness, Paradigm Comparisons

It seems to me that science has a greater, though not ultimate, claim to validity to the extent it includes and integrates more experiential “facts” in its reality constructions . . . the degree of scientific validity—from good ethnoscience to bad ethnoscience—being the number of experiential facts it includes and integrates. Cultural constructions can therefore be compared, although such comparisons do not render any one of them, including science, Ultimate Truth, only “righter” in relation to the others, i.e., more correct.

What follows is that whoever accepts the “larger,” more encompassing, more inclusive perspective is necessarily the one who has more “power” ultimately, in that this one’s view allows for more accurate predictive and remedial power. That is why, eventually if not immediately, more inclusive paradigms and their proponents attain dominance.

That is not to say, by the way, that new paradigms do always include all facts that old paradigms include . . . just that they often include “more” experiential—thus, “objectively” true—facts. As just one example, many Amerindians’ views included some “facts” that were excluded from the paradigms of those that superseded them.

Paradigm Clash, The Force Behind Evolution

But to continue, since persons holding more inclusive paradigms are more “powerful,” eventually if not immediately they are more likely to predominate in that they would be chosen by natural selection. If we would slide back our anthropocentric lenses for a minute and attempt to view all other species as simply other problem-solving beings who, as measured by their success, were employing either better or worse paradigms (i.e., including more or less experiential “facts”), we might say that this is one way of appreciating the force behind continual evolution for all species.

So science has a claim to validity in relation to our species’s biological survivability. But as emphasized earlier it has no claim in relation to anything other than that. Its truth is but a limited one. Its truth is relative to a biological context, a specific one, that of Homo sapiens.

A Challenge to Know More

Indeed, this fact of limitation needs to be emphasized more heartily in science today. Anthropological thinking has created a legacy where we have been made fully aware of the relativity of culture and the limitations of culturally constituted facts—those “institutional facts” referred to earlier. It seems an equal and parallel effort is warranted—from the ranks of ecosophists, consciousness researchers, tranpersonalists, and others in the know—to point out the limitations and relativity of our species’s biologically constituted facts—those (not so) “brute facts” of Anscombe and D’Andrade.

Footnote

4. It is much the same as saying that it is when we share our feelings and personal experience (no coincidence that these are to a greater extent physical and biological than “mental”) that we have the greatest chance of sharing across individual or cultural boundaries.

Continue with The Challenge to Know More: The New Evidence, Pouring Forth from Our Sciences, Has Made Our Common Sense Materialistic Assumptions About Our Reality as Obsolete as Our Flat Earth Ones

Return to The Doors of Perception: Each of Us Is Potentially Mind At Large… When Perception Is Cleansed, All Kinds of Nonordinary Things Happen

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About sillymickel

Activist, psychotherapist, pre- and perinatal psychologist, author, and environmentalist. I seek to inspire others to our deeper, more natural consciousness, to a primal, more delightful spirituality, and to taking up the cause of saving life on this planet, as motivated by love.
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