- Oct 2022
i want you to imagine two other sentient beings seeing that rose and again this uh reflects an analogy that john gave us earlier in the day imagine that there's a bee looking at that rose 00:38:03 bees see um colors in the infrared and the ultraviolet spectrum they see all kinds of colors in that rose that we can't even see it probably looks speckled and striped to them in all kinds of really cool ways and they see it through 00:38:16 compound eyes my dog has got far less color sensitivity than we do and he probably sees the rose in a shade of gray now if we were to ask the question which of the three of us the bee 00:38:29 the dog or me sees the rose correctly sees it as it is does we understand immediately that that's a stupid question the only thing we can talk about is the 00:38:42 rose as it shows up for a human being the rose as it shows up for a bee the rose as it shows up for a dog but if you were to ask oh yeah yeah yeah but what does the rose look like in itself what does the rose itself look like 00:38:56 that is a really stupid question and that's what ultimate naturelessness is there is no way that things just are there are only ways that things show up for different kinds of sensory and 00:39:10 cognitive consciousness and that is ultimate naturelessness
L- definition : third naturelessness - the ultimate naturelessness - very aligned to umwelt - any object appears a specific way relative to a specific living being
the reason is that a perception 00:10:38 is kind of perceptual in structure and the buddhist world encodes this by arguing that the internal um sense the the manus venana is a sense faculty just like external faculties 00:10:52 and so just as our external faculties present us with a world that just seems to us even though we know it's not to be just as it is that we see it just as it is 00:11:03 it's tempting to think that we've got this apparent object distinct from our sensory apprehension of it but is but an object that's presented by a completely veritable process 00:11:15 because as i say perception just feels like it presents the world to us as it is i look at a red apple and i think damn i know exactly what that apple smells like looks like tastes like and 00:11:27 feels like forgetting that all i have is the apple as it's mediated by the peculiar perceptual system that i have and by all of the conceptual resources through which i filtered my perception 00:11:41 so in the same way a perception or introspective awareness just feels like it presents our own cognitive affective and perceptual states to us just as they are 00:11:53 independent of that appreceptive system and those conceptual categories so just as external perception gives us the illusion that we're just detectors of the world as it is inner perception can give us the illusion that we are just 00:12:06 detectors of our inner um our inner world just as it is so even when we remind ourselves as i'm reminding you right now of this 00:12:18 extremely complex mediation of our perceptual encounter with external objects we find ourselves in constantly experiencing our own experience as though 00:12:31 we've got the world just as it is and then we sometimes say okay maybe we're not getting the world just as it is but at least i'm getting my sensory experiences just as they are the apple might not be red but the redness i 00:12:42 experience is exactly the redness that i think i experience the sweetness that i introspect must be the sweetness just as it is and so forth so even if we give up for a moment and it's hard to give it up 00:12:54 for more than that the notion of immediacy with regard to external perception we often retreat to thinking that that's mediated but my awareness of my own inner episodes is the immediate 00:13:06 awareness that mediates my knowledge of the external world and i think that in the sense of that perception that sense of immediacy is even greater it's really hard for us to be convinced that our inner experience 00:13:20 could possibly be deceptive we seem to think that if i think that i believe something i must believe it if i think that i'm feeling something i must be feeling it and that feeling and that believing grab my inner 00:13:33 reality just as it is and so part of the problem that arises is that the mediation of our introspective awareness by our introspective faculty becomes 00:13:46 cognitively invisible to us just as what i'm seeing the world my visual faculty is invisible and it just delivers a visible world to me and i have to really think to to understand 00:13:58 what my own visual faculty visual organ and visual consciousness are contributing i think i experience my introspective faculty as just giving me inner objects and i have to think and remind myself 00:14:11 that actually my inner sense faculty is also a fallible instrument and that i may be misusing that instrument or that instrument might be intrinsically deceptive and that's a hard thing to get one's mind around 00:14:25 as a consequence we've become seduced by this idea that even if our knowledge of some things is mediated that mediation can't go all the way down we get seduced by the idea that there's got to be a 00:14:38 basic foundational level of experience to which we can have some kind of immediate access and to which when we know it we know it absolutely veritically in the theory of knowledge that leads us to foundationalism in the 00:14:51 philosophy of mind it leads us to sense datum theory um and i find that in a lot of buddhist situations a lot of buddhist practitioners take it to be this idea of an infallibility of an immediate kind of 00:15:03 experience if i'm sitting on the cushion just right so with all of that in play um i want to move to exercising that myth of the given that i've been characterizing 00:15:16 and to show that buddhist philosophy offers us powerful ways of doing that and i'm going to begin by talking about first person knowledge through the lens of the madhyamaka tradition
Jay emphasizes the compelling sense of this allure of immediacy. We believe that our perceptual and our introspective faculties give us an infallible representation of reality, and never question that it could be fallible.
This is very much aligned with the research on Umwelt by Jakob Von Uexkull.
Aperception, the introspection and awareness of our inner space is just as alluring.
So in summary: perception gives us the feeling that we are sensing the way the external world actually is and aperception gives us the feeling that we are aware of the inner world as it is. However, both are relative, the first to our peculiar sense faculties and the second to our linguistic and conceptual modeling of reality. Both are specific filters that create the specific situated interpretation of reality as a human being.
- Jul 2022
i was particularly struck by the fact that barry didn't say the mind is this this and that okay barry said well the mind is many things 01:19:18 uh look there's this and this this and this and there's a sort of layers also in some sense in which we can talk about it or or have some understanding partial media 01:19:30 understanding about it some wisdom about it and this layering i find it it's uh absolutely brilliant from my perspective 01:19:43 uh because it it dissolves the wrong question which is what is the mind period what is the thing which is the mind here is the thing which is mine uh let's just 01:19:55 define it characterize it and understand what it is that's a wrong that's a wrong way of thinking about it it's when we say when we think about our mind of course we think something you you unite somehow 01:20:09 it's the set of processes that happen into me and it's about my thinking my emotions but it's not one thing it's a complicated layer there's many layers of discussion possible about 01:20:21 that i don't want to enter into the specific but i found this fascinating and let me go to time immediately because uh it's it's deeply related i got the book of time which is a um 01:20:34 the audio of time in which i carlo this carlo is very timely because we're also kind of running low on time absolutely absolutely 01:20:46 and and and in the book i sort of uh try to collect everything we have learned about time from science from special activity from generative statistical mechanics from other pieces and and what we 01:21:00 tentatively uh learn about time with quantum gravity which is my uh specific field once again you have to sort of uh put your hands on the notion of time and the main message of the book 01:21:12 in fact the single message of the book is that the question of what is time is a wrong question because when we think about time we think about the single thing okay we think we have a totally clear idea about time time is a single thing 01:21:25 that flows from the past to the future and the past influence the president the president of the future in the present this is how things are the reality of the present entire universe is a real state in that and we learn from science that this way 01:21:37 of viewing times is wrong it's factually wrong okay it's not true that uh we all proceed in in in together from 01:21:48 moment a to moment b and the amount lapse amount of time lapses between a and b is the same for everybody and so on and forth because we learned from from experiences especially activity generativity statistical mechanics and 01:22:01 other things so the way to think about time is that it's a very layered thing but with this thing we call time is made by layers um conceptually and when we look at larger 01:22:14 domain the one of our usual experience some layers are lost so uh some aspects some some properties of what we call time are only good 01:22:25 uh are only appropriate for describing the temporal experience we have if we don't move too fast it doesn't look too uh to to to too far away if you don't look at the atoms too in detail as a single 01:22:38 degrees of freedom and so on so forth so the notion of time opens up in a in a in a set of layers which are become increasingly 01:22:53 uh general only if you go down to the bottom level um some aspect of time like the universality of time uh uh only makes sense if if we don't go too 01:23:06 fast velocities for instance um so this is a similarity and that's why the the opening up of what the mind is into layers seems to be uh 01:23:19 the right direction to go right when if if i ask uh does a cat has a mind or does a fly has a mind it seems to me that the only answer is uh to get out of the idea that the 01:23:31 answer is either yes or no i mean i i suppose that certainly a cat has a certain you know a sleepy feeling in the morning and the moment of 01:23:43 joy when he sees his fellow cats but i suppose a cat doesn't go through a complicated intellectual game of trying to understanding what is reality and debating about that so there is some aspect in common uh either not break up 01:23:56 this this notion in in pieces once again uh i mean the the topic is what is real uh 01:24:08 if we start by saying time is real it's a beautiful chapter why you cannot say that time is an intrinsic existence uh we just get it wrong if we think well then atoms are real or the mind is real 01:24:21 all these answers we got it wrong we can say that things are real in a uh in a conventional sense within a context within a within a um 01:24:37 and and then we when we try to realize what you mean by uh something is real this is certainly real in a conventional sense but we realize that um reality the reality of this object 01:24:49 itself it gets sort of broken up into interdependence between this object and else and its different layers 01:25:02 and and that's the reality that as a scientist i can deal with not the ultimate reality the the conventional reality of course conventional reality is real as uh perry 01:25:15 was saying this is not a negation of reality uh it's a it's a it it's a freedom from the idea of the ultimate reality uh 01:25:27 the ultimate uh sort of intrinsic inherent reality being there on which in terms of which building progress
Carlo resonates with Barry's layered explanation of mind from the Buddhist perspective. The mind is not some simplistic entity. Carlo wrote a book on time and he applied this same layered thinking. Time is different in different circumstances. It acts one way at the quantum level, another at the microscopic, another at our human level, and another at the galactic level.
In a sense, we tend to make the same type of category errors whether it is our experience of time, space or experience in general. We overgeneralize from an anthropomorphic perspective. A large part of Jay L. Garfield's argument of cognitive illusions and immediacy of experience rests on this fact.
Opaque mechanisms operate in both our sense organs and our mental machinery to give us this illusory feeling of immediacy of the sensed or cognized object.
Uexkull's umwelt experiments on the snail as explained by Cummins are consistent with Carlo's perspective on time.
for example i'm talking so my primary mind now is going 01:14:37 to be an auditory mind okay and then there's going to be a whole constellation of next secondary ones which are basically positive and negative or harmful uh positive non-harmful and harmful uh 01:14:51 qualities or attributes or emotions or thoughts or attitudes and then the next moment i'm looking at my screen so i have a visual mind and the constellation will change you know some of those 01:15:04 positive and negative qualities like i'm feeling a little sleepy or i'm very alert or i'm feeling jealous or i'm feeling very happy and connected you know with this 01:15:16 conversation those would be part of the secondary minds and then you know you have this infinite continuum everyone every living being every as you rightfully said sentient beings a living 01:15:26 being with a mind carlo um has um its own mental continuum um so it involves it's a big picture of mind it involves you know our 01:15:40 our thinking it involves our intellect it involves our heart feelings emotions uh and it involves those deeper levels in that sixth primary mind mental consciousness such as intuition and 01:15:53 deeper minds
Barry's explanation surfaces an association in my own mind - the Stop Reset Go / Deep Humanity definition of sensory, affective and cognitive bubbles as sensory, affective and cognitive constraints of consciousness. It also brings up the association with Jakob Von Uexkull's Umwelt concept, which defines the sensory environment of an individual belonging to a species.
and Jay L. Garfield's talk on cognitive illusions and Buddhist philosophical concept of immediacy of experience
e's trying to begin to find the vocabulary to elaborate how we can speak of meaningful 00:17:53 being in the world without a subject there is no meaning his notion of the umvelt or the world as it arises for a specifically embodied organism 00:18:07 is not the same thing as environment he tries to make this distinction clear it's not entirely successful but here you can see he distinguishes on the left between what we might think of the environment of a honeybee which is a 00:18:20 field of flowers and on the right he's tried to draw the umvelt of the the field of flowers from i'm going to use this word from the point of view of the bee now it's unfortunate to have to use 00:18:33 visual metaphors there that's our language that's the way we talk about these things the processes are much more generic but we will inevitably use the language of vision when we're talking about such 00:18:44 things so he's tried fancifully to draw a meaningful umvelt as it might appear to a be we keep falling into this visual metaphor when we're when we talk about um subjectivities 00:18:59 we keep coming back to the notion of seeing which is most unfortunate when we discuss the umwelt you shouldn't think of something which the b see
With the umwelt, Uexkull surfaces that meaning for an organism is depending on the embodiment, the perceptual and cognitive machinery of the organism.
Each species of organisms experiences meaning in a way unique to that species.
As a digression, each individual of a species experiences meaning uniquely as a function of the species it is a part of, as well as the unique lifeworld of events.
read just a little quote from him now we might assume that an animal is nothing but a collection of perceptual and effector tools connected by an integrating apparatus 00:17:02 which though still a mechanism is yet fit to carry on life functions he's saying that you can build up a mechanistic picture of the functioning of the body in in that world 00:17:15 but he said this is indeed the position of all mechanistic theories whether their analogies are in terms of rigid mechanics or more plastic dynamics and one might mention pretty much all contemporary psychological theories 00:17:28 they brand animals as mere objects the proponents of such theories forget that from the first they have overlooked the most important thing the subject which uses the tools perceives and functions with their age
A quote from Uexkull on how a subject is critical to the entire enterprise of knowing the world.
if we've looked at the synthetic a priori of time he also addresses the synthetic a priori of 00:15:46 space and one very interesting distinction he draws is between animals who have semi-circular canals in their heads somewhere and animals which don't now we do fishes do 00:15:58 limpets don't for an animal with semicircular canals the word this the nature of space is to have right left up down forward backwards it's to be suspended or the 00:16:11 head to move through a volumetric space that we is so familiar with us we think of that as space as simply existing an animal not so endowed with no 00:16:24 semicircular canals encounters space in an entirely different way and he discusses how space arises for something like a limpet or a paramecium so he has taken the synthetic a prioris 00:16:36 of time and space and reconsidered them in a manner appropriate to the 1920s and 30s paying keen attention to the structures and processes of the body 00:16:48 this is work that we still need to do
Uexkull also studies how animals synthetic apriori sense of space differ between species. Humans and other animals have semi-circular canals in the ear and this helps then determine forward/backwards, up/down and left/right of volumetric space. Limpets and paramecium do not have such a semi-circular canal and therefore do not sense "3 dimensional space" the way that we do.
he's built a little toy he's built a treadmill for a snail isn't that wonderful he's a genuine scientist he's doing lots and lots of experiments with 00:11:27 animals they're very creative experiments in this case he's built a treadmill for a snail so the snail is held by a vice on a rotating ball and the snail is then um approached by 00:11:40 the investigator who chucks it under the chin like this and if you chuck the snail under the chin like this the snail will recoil not surprising i 00:11:52 would recall it as well but as you speed up the frequency of these chucks under the chin at about five hertz once you pass a frequency of about five chucks per second 00:12:05 the snail's behavior changes remarkably instead of being perturbed and trying to withdraw it tries to crawl onto onto something the qualitative nature of what's happening 00:12:18 to the snail has changed for the snail and its response or it's it's um sense making is altered and it's tried it perceives seems to perceive now a constant surface onto which it might 00:12:32 crawl now that might seem strange to you but i'll remind you that if we flash a light for you five times a second you'll see a light flashing and if we speed up the interval 00:12:44 then we shorten the interval between flashes to make them faster there comes a critical point at about 20 site flashes per second where you no longer perceive individual flashes but you 00:12:54 perceive a continuous light something like this underlies the magic that happens with moving pictures as well where you know that the action you see in the cinema is a bunch of projected still pictures 00:13:09 but they um have this character of continuous movement for you likewise in sound if we play that for you you hear a bunch of disconnected claps but if we shorten the 00:13:22 interval between the claps and speed it up there comes a point at which it changes into a continuous low pitch and that happens again about 20 hertz at about 20 cycles per second now for this snail 00:13:35 that border is at a different place it's at about five cycles per second what this shows is quite profound remember kant's synthetic a prioris 00:13:46 time for this snail is different than time for you the time that arises as a function of the body of the snail has this border at about five hertz where you have one at about 20 hertz 00:14:01 his basic insight is that worlds arise for snails that are not commensurable with worlds that arise for humans with which are not commensurable with worlds that arise for earthworms 00:14:15 the notion of an umvelt we get to determine a minute is used to describe this bodily specific arising of a world together with time and space 00:14:28 now i said it's rather weird to think of time being fundamentally different for an animal of a different constitution but i'll remind you that we can use our cinematic tricks to make ourselves aware of our own 00:14:41 limitations on the left there through high-speed photography we managed to make perceptible an event which we cannot otherwise see the event that you see there with the splash is 00:14:53 perfectly real but we can only make it manifest through high-speed photography similarly whoops there are processes going on around us 00:15:05 that we do not perceive and we can use time-lapse photography to make those to speed them up so that they become perceptible to us something like the blooming of a flower or the battles intricate battles fought 00:15:16 between brambles and hedges these make us aware that we perceive time as unfolding at a rate dictated by our own metabolism and bodily processes so this idea that time and space 00:15:32 are considered very different from count but very much tied now to the body this is quite radical
Here, the speaker, Fred Cummins, introduces us tto the synthetic apriori concepts of time explored by Uexkull.in his clever snail experiment.
By holding the snail in place on a rotating vertical wheel and stimulating the neck of the snail by touch, by speeding up the frequency of touching the snail to about 5 Hz, Uexkull was able to produce a different behavior in the snail. The snail was no longer withdrawing its neck into its shell, but tries to walk instead.
Cummins compares this unique sensing of time unique to the snail with that of humans. We perceive individual sounds and individual images as distinct as long as they occur at a frequency below approximately 20 Hz. When the frequency rises above this, we perceive it as continuous. This is how we digitize audio (moving sounds) as well as video (moving pictures), creating the illusion of continuous motion.
So we, in effect CONSTRUCT the sense of time and motion. Jay Garfield talks about how we also construct aspects of reality such as color: https://hyp.is/go?url=http%3A%2F%2Fdocdrop.org%2Fvideo%2FHRuOEfnqV6g%2F&group=world
Color and time are constructed based on the organisms specific perceptual structures. The snail constructs time differently than a human does.
now we go back to jakub von ogskul and we find him critiquing exactly the 00:09:20 same thing for exactly the same reasons 30 years after john dewey there on the left he has picked out the reflex arc pointing out that it is a linear throughput which leaves no room 00:09:34 for subjectivity no room for intentional action no room for meaning to arise if you if the middle is only animated by inputs then it's a puppet 00:09:47 he replaces this with a model on the right that will whose terms will not be entirely clear to you as you read the article but i want you to notice one thing about it it's circular it's not a linear 00:09:59 throughput it's circular he starts by noting the embeddedness of the body in the world and the fact that the activity of the 00:10:13 body is meaningful at all times and not separable into inputs and outputs his replacement of the linear throughput with this circular model that he elaborates in various ways 00:10:25 is remarkably prescient of the basic cybernetic insight that will arise after the second world war in which it's all feedback systems positive feedback systems negative feedback systems 00:10:37 homeostatic systems um reciprocity is always involved the fact that you do something and something is done to you at the same time that that we dance in the world 00:10:50 rather than standing apart from it and recording a movie of it so his um uncovery of this basic cybernetic principle with which one might approach the body and its being in the world is 00:11:02 remarkably prescient but these profound ideas of vulnerable are often hidden because he's well frankly so charming well he's a problematic character as we'll see lately 00:11:14 but he tells a good story and he does cool experiments
30 years after Dewey's paper, Uexkull affirms the same finding as Dewey in his article: A Stroll Though the Worlds of Animals and Men (1934).
In his article, Uexkull compares two diagrams, a linear input/output and a circular with subjectivity in the middle. Uekull anticipates the fundamental cybernetic concept of positive and negative feedbacks - you do something to the world and the world does something back to you.
the task of biology consists in expanding in two directions the results of cancer investigations by considering the part played by our body and especially by our sense organs 00:04:47 and central nervous system you can see the basic parameters of what we now call cognitive science are coming into being here and by studying the relation of other subjects to objects 00:04:59 it's the subject that kant wants to take seriously that notion is still very undefined and notice here the term animal other subjects so the 00:05:10 animal is a subject here he's trying to take a stance that is not that doesn't traffic in human exceptionalism that takes the embodied being seriously and for him that means something that's 00:05:23 straightforwardly an animal a dog a cat a scientist a limpet and he's going to consider them all with much the same theoretical vocabulary he's pitching in here in 1926
Uexkull expands Kant's agenda and takes it in the direction of the body, and especially the animal body as playing a major role in knowing about the world. He downplays human exceptionalism by referring to the animal body, not the human body.
we need to understand what the tradition is that he is feeding from and how what his orientation is he is 00:01:21 taking his own work to be an extension of the work of immanuel kant now if you have not noticed anything in the history of philosophy of mind please 00:01:33 notice descartes and kant those are the two principal landmarks so many others but kant had died at the very start of the 19th century kant was working within a 00:01:46 physical framework that was newtonian in which space and time are simply blocks containers within which things unfold mechanistically that was the metaphysics available to 00:02:00 kant was asking with that metaphysics how do we come to know anything now he had the cogito of descartes very much on his mind but also the the empiricists 00:02:14 concerns with the role of the senses following the tradition of hume and kant attempted to resolve this by noting that there were some things that could not be learned from the world that had 00:02:27 to be in place before any knowledge of the world can happen at all he called these the synthetic a prioris those things that well nothing forces the manas but we can't begin to make 00:02:38 sense of the notion of knowledge without prior notions of time and space and causality this is a difficult position to occupy and can't argumentation was developed in very many ways and gave rise to very many 00:02:53 different kinds of science thereafter for the thing in itself this shell is not knowable rather i encountered a phenomenon of the shell the phenomenon of the shell 00:03:11 through mediated through the senses and the body and i can never thus get to the shell itself this is of course the paradox underlying all representational theories 00:03:22 of perception which is that they seem to leave you estranged from the world and not in contact with the world all knowledge seem to be mediated through the sensors so it need you need 00:03:34 to bootstrap knowledge with these synthetic api ras for accounts this is immanuel kant dies at the start of the 19th century and then about 00:03:45 1870 something like scientific psychology starts to emerge and there's a wide variety of approaches they're drawing among other things from kant but they're not following one 00:03:58 unified agenda funux comes in here and he sees himself as taking kant seriously and he's going to develop in his context in the 1920s and 1930s 00:04:10 the notion of a synthetic a priori changes now instead of the physicalist model of time and space and as containers that we have with kant the body is the ultimate synthetic a 00:04:22 priori for von neux cool epistemology or how a being comes to know the world will only be ever understood through careful attention to the structures of and processes of the body
Uexkull's work, and formulation of the Umwelt must be contextualized in his predecessor Kant's ontological framing to be understood.
Based on the Newtonian mechanistic view of the world, Kant postulated that there must be some knowledge that must be known about the world prior to a (human) being being born into the world and called this synthetic apriori knowledge.....namely time, space and causality, the things that a Newtonian, mechanistic worldview assumes at the outset.
Since any object of the world can only be known through the 5 senses, we are estranged from reality, and there must be some knowledge we must have prior to sensing the world that helps us make sense of it.
you are probably somewhat unfamiliar with the term biosemiotics is not in widespread use um and but it represents a very very 00:00:17 important reference point when we come to theories of embodied cognition the founder of biosemiotics is typically held to be jacob von xcool 00:00:29 biosemiotics is a field within the broader domain of semiotics which considers the manner in which meaning arises through various forms of mediation such as signs indices indexes 00:00:42 symbols and the like
Title: Introduction to Umwelt theory and Biosemiotics Author
- Deep Humanity
- animal body
- semi-circular canals
- constructed reality
- synthetic apriori time
- Jakob Von Uexkull
- limpet experiment
- snail experiment
- constructed time
- Stop Reset Go
- A Stroll through the worlds of animals and men
- Newtonian framework
- mechanistic universe
- synthetic prioris
- John Dewey
- Synthetic Apriori
- synthetic apriori space
- Jun 2022
There's no inherent meaning in information. It's what we do with that information that matters.
This is a profound statement that needs to be fully explored. This touches upon the theory of Charles Saunders Peirce and his Semiotics, as well as Jakob Von Uexkull and his Umwelt theory. Information becomes meaningful within an evolutionary framing of fitness.
- May 2022
The hyperthreat’s center of gravity (COG), the key characteristic that provides its power, is its freedom of movement, which is enabled by its hyperobject-like invisibility and unknowability and by human hesitancy to respond. Human activity that fuels the hyperthreat is often legal, has social license, and is understood as legitimate business or security activity; its contribution to slow violence is often obscured
Invisibility is a key characteristic of hyperthreats: we can't fight the enemy we don't perceive. We have not evolved the human sensory apparatus to make it visible. Our uuwelt (Uexkull) is not tuned to pick up and physiologically warn us about hyperthreats such as the tiny, invisible molecules of carbon dioxide or methane that we are spewing out everywhere. We are also not armed with default cognitive tools to make undeniable sense of it.
The "hyperthreat" is a useful meta-level construct because it allows us to tie together many fragments and make sense of it as symptoms of a higher level causal agent. Use of the word "intentional" seem to give hyperthreats a superorganism-like living quality.
- Nov 2021
Fundamental features of human psychology can constrain the perceived personal relevance and importance of climate change, limiting both action and internalization of the problem. Cognitive shortcuts developed over millennia make us ill-suited in many ways to perceiving and responding to climate change (152), including a tendency to place less emphasis on time-delayed and physically remote risks and to selectively downplay information that is at odds with our identity or worldview (153). Risk perception relies on intuition and direct perceptual signals (e.g., an immediate, tangible threat), whereas for most high-emitting households in the Global North, climate change does not present itself in these terms, except in the case of local experiences of extreme weather events. Where strong concern does exist, this tends to be linked to care for others (154) combined with knowledge about the causes and possible consequences of climate change (155).
This is indeed a problematic feature of human evolution. It has given rise to what Timothy Morton refers to as "hyperobjects", objects of such vastness in space and time that it defeats human mechanisms of perception at local scale: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/hyperobjects https://hyp.is/xROjpD_jEey4a6-Urbh4_Q/www.newyorker.com/culture/persons-of-interest/timothy-mortons-hyper-pandemic
This psychological constraint is worth demonstrating to individuals to illustrate how we construct our values and responses. These constraints can be demonstrated in a vivid way within the context of Deep Humanity open source praxis BEing journeys.
As in the New Yorker interview with Morton, we can take Deep Humanity participants on BEing journeys, walkabouts to identify hyperobjects.
Hyperobjects are also cognitive and highly abstract in nature. This is a clue to another idea that could be enlightening to understanding the problematic context of appreciating hyperobjects such as climate change, and that is the idea of Jakob Von Uexkull's Umwelt:
"Uexküll was particularly interested in how living beings perceive their environment(s). He argued that organisms experience life in terms of species-specific, spatio-temporal, 'self-in-world' subjective reference frames that he called Umwelt (translated as surrounding-world, phenomenal world, self-world, environment - lit. German environment). These Umwelten (plural of Umwelt) are distinctive from what Uexküll termed the "Umgebung" which would be the living being's surroundings as seen from the likewise peculiar perspective or Umwelt of the human observer. Umwelt may thus be defined as the perceptual world in which an organism exists and acts as a subject. By studying how the senses of various organisms like ticks, sea urchins, amoebae, jellyfish and sea worms work, he was able to build theories of how they experience the world. Because all organisms perceive and react to sensory data as signs, Uexküll argued that they were to be considered as living subjects. This argument was the basis for his biological theory in which the characteristics of biological existence ("life") could not simply be described as a sum of its non-organic parts, but had to be described as subject and a part of a sign system.
The biosemiotic turn in Jakob von Uexküll's analysis occurs in his discussion of the animal's relationship with its environment. The Umwelt is for him an environment-world which is (according to Giorgio Agamben), "constituted by a more or less broad series of elements [called] "carriers of significance" or "marks" which are the only things that interest the animal". Agamben goes on to paraphrase one example from Uexküll's discussion of a tick, saying,
"...this eyeless animal finds the way to her watchpoint [at the top of a tall blade of grass] with the help of only its skin’s general sensitivity to light. The approach of her prey becomes apparent to this blind and deaf bandit only through her sense of smell. The odor of butyric acid, which emanates from the sebaceous follicles of all mammals, works on the tick as a signal that causes her to abandon her post (on top of the blade of grass/bush) and fall blindly downward toward her prey. If she is fortunate enough to fall on something warm (which she perceives by means of an organ sensible to a precise temperature) then she has attained her prey, the warm-blooded animal, and thereafter needs only the help of her sense of touch to find the least hairy spot possible and embed herself up to her head in the cutaneous tissue of her prey. She can now slowly suck up a stream of warm blood."
Thus, for the tick, the Umwelt is reduced to only three (biosemiotic) carriers of significance: (1) The odor of butyric acid, which emanates from the sebaceous follicles of all mammals, (2) The temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (corresponding to the blood of all mammals), (3) The hairiness of mammals." ( From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jakob_Johann_von_Uexk%C3%BCll)
The human umwelt limits us to a relatively small range of sensed signs. CO2 particles is not one of them. We rely on scientific narratives but these are far removed from direct sensing, into the field of conceptualization and abstraction. We have evolved to respond to danger that is sensed, less so to danger that is conceptualized.