Time, Co-Emergency, Field, and Consciousness

I have suffered a bit of an injury. It isn’t life-threatening, but it’s distracting. It has belayed my plans to launch into a series on the significance of co-emergence.

But today I want, at least, to perform the overture and highlight what I believe will be four key features of the next era currently in its incipience, as well as provide a brief explanation why I think these themes will be defining of this era that we can call (for lack of better terms at present) “transmodern” or “transhumanist”. (You will recall from The Dark Age Blog, that in using the term “transhumanist” I mean only what Nietzsche intended by the German term “übermensch” — wrongly translated into English as “superman”. And by “transhumanist” I certainly do not endorse the more recent tendency to use “transhuman” as a synonym for man-machine hybrid entities or cyborgism).

I’ve already given the game away in the title of this post, of course: time, co-emergency, field, and consciousness. Now I have to explain why these four in particular are key features of the new era.

Time and Space: The Modern Era

The Modern Era, now passing away, was space-obsessed. The discovery of deep space approximately 500 years ago in the Late Medieval or Early Renaissance period established the spatially-accentuated orientation and bias of the Modern Era and the Modern Mind. This is the significance of Petrarch’s account of his ascent of Mount Ventoux in southern France, famous in its time, for which his account has been rightly regarded as one of the first self-conscious expressions of the early spirit of Renaissance humanism. In his book, Ever-Present Origin, cultural historian Jean Gebser also interpreted the significance of Petrarch’s experience (which Petrarch called his “confession”) as a crucial episode in the historical emergence of the structure of consciousness peculiar to the Modern Age — the mental-rational (equally, the logico-mathematical) or “perspectival” consciousness structure.

(That Petrarch described his record of the ascent and experience at the summit as a “confession”, demonstrates his sense that what he felt in surveying the vastness of deep space from the mountain summit was a crime or a sin. He specifically refers to it as such. It illustrates the fact, though, that all new eras are established through just such an act of primordial “sin” or through a “crime”. This conception of the creative “crime” or “sin” we also find explored in Nietzsche’s philosophy. And as Goethe once put it equally, “Im Anfang war die Tat“– “In the beginning was the deed” or act).

Also significant in terms of the spatially-oriented theme and bias of the Modern Era was the invention of perspective representation itself, beginning with the earliest and most crude attempts at the perspectival mastery of space by Giotto (1267 – 1337)  in the 13th century, passing thereafter (amongst others) through Brunelleschi (1377 – 1446),  Leon Battista Alberti (1404 – 1472), Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528), and perfected in the art and perspective theory of Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519): the quintessential “Renaissance Man” and “universal genius” (as he is regarded). The discovery of the perspective representation of deep space in art (which was the discovery of “depth” itself) preceded by a century Copernicus’s de Revolutionibus where Copernicus (1473 – 1543) introduced (post-mortem) the helio-centric theory of the cosmos launching “the Scientific Revolution”. The well-known and well-regarded historian of science Thomas Kuhn wrote in his study of Copernicus and the Scientific Revolution, that he felt that Copernicus must have had some knowledge of perspective in order to conceive of his helio-centric order of the cosmos at all.

Put another way, perspective perception and the dominance of the eye as the organ of knowing — all of which is characteristic of spatially-oriented consciousness — was becoming the “common sense” of the Era which we have shared until lately.

From this time onward to the present day, space and the domineering (even imperialistic) organisation of (subjective and objective) space and spaces (Nature and Psyche mastered via “Universal Reason” now realised as “Global Economy”) has been the overwhelming obsession of the Modern Era. But this has occurred at the expense of our consciousness of time and life-time. Today, this neglect and ignore-ance of time is manifesting as the essential deficiency and defect in the mental-rational structure of consciousness, expressed in such problems (and contemporary crises) as the desperate attempt to “find time”, “pass time”, “waste time”, “kill time”, and in social problems pertaining to time as life-time in such difficult social issues symptomatically expressed as the quest for “work-life balance”.

We will have more to say about this fatal defect and deficiency in the mental-rational structure of consciousness, as it pertains to the neglect of time, in later posts. We will only remind that dichotomistic terms like “individual” and “the mass”, or “private” and “public”, or “idealist” and “materialist” are categories organised around the (faulty) Newtonian-Cartesian (Rene Descartes, 1596 – 1650) conception of space in terms of atoms and molecules, or as the subject and object spaces of Cartesian metaphysical dualism (the so-called “mind-body problem”)

Time and Space: The Transmodern Era

In the now emerging Transmodern Era, time, and not space, is becoming the central focus. This is being forced upon us whether we like it or not. It has, in any event, become the overwhelming issue in formal thought (and practical life) since Darwin, Freud, and Einstein at the turn of the 20th century — (or, the evolutionary, the primitivistic, and the relativistic respectively). I would insist, however, that these representatives of the budding time-oriented consciousness do not represent full and mature developments of time-consciousness so much as early and very often fumbling, inadequate, and defective attempts to grasp the emergent phenomena of time and temporality as these were becoming dimly perceived. In some ways, it makes sense to say that the crisis of the age occurs where time- and space-consciousness have come into conflict and radical contradiction. As we say, “time is of the essence”, and this is certainly the case in the emerging Transmodern Era.

(Darwin, Freud, and Einstein were correct. Only, the weren’t correct enough).

Presently, however, our spatially-oriented static consciousness is being discombobulated and disoriented by the “irruption” of the ignored and neglected dimension of time, and is desperately trying to salvage the older situation (the status quo ante) by forcing time to act as the “fourth” dimension of space. This manoeuvre is characteristic of a consciousness still inflexibly adhering to outmoded models. Here “duration” (or the lack of duration, which is the true meaning of “eternity”) is compelled almost imperialistically to act, in terms of the defective logico-mathematical consciousness, like spatial “expansion” or “contraction”, or inflation and dilation. The entrenched habits of a spatially-oriented and biased consciousness structure attempt to compel time in its dynamics to behave like space in its dynamics. But the real difference between these is as between “quality” and “quantity”, or “intensity” and “extensity”. Time, as such, is a quality and not a quantity. This is the consciousness of the more advanced thinkers about time, such as we find often in Chaos Theory in chemistry (the late Ilya Prigagone), in social theory (the late Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy), or in history (the late Jean Gebser). To the purely spatially-oriented and spatially-biased consciousness, so characteristic of the now declining Modern Era, these “time-thinkers” seem like absurd mystics (that is to say, “irrational”), whereas in terms of the consciousness of these new time-thinkers, it is the spatially-biased perspectivist consciousness (the mental-rational) that is become decadent, irrational, and absurd.

I happen to agree. If the relation of the finite to the infinite was characteristic of the Modern Era, and which dialectic conditioned the perspectival consciousness, in the Transmodern Era it will be the relation of time to eternity (inevitably, therefore, the problem of the relationship of the secular to the spiritual) that will principally guide the perceptions and ruminations of the transhuman era.

Co-Emergence versus Cartesian Metaphysical Dualism.

The principle of the new era that will supplant the Age of Reason, (narrowly conceived as it was in terms of Cartesian metaphysical dualism and of man narrowly conceived as “rational man”) is the principle of co-emergence, which is the negation of dualism. Metaphysical dualism established an absolute and inviolable difference and contestual, agonstic relation between ego and world, mind and body, self and society, individual and mass, private and public, subject and object, man and nature, or idealist and materialist. This dualism is untenable and finally unsustainable. There was no bridge formable or possible between these exclusive and exclusionary subject and object spaces each ensconced within their own private horizons of significance.

Co-emergency, however, negates metaphysical dualism. It is the principle behind Jung’s “synchronicty” and which informs David Bohm’s “implicate order“. Moreover, unlike Cartesian metaphysical dualism, it is not a “metaphysical” principle or merely an assumption. Co-emergency means that cosmos and psyche (world and soul, or object and subject) co-evolve, co-originate, or co-arise in an intimate relationship of interdependency or inter-connectivity. This is not even a matter of speculation. It is the established evidence of quantum mechanics as well as of our more consciously aware biologists and evolutionary ecologists. Buddhism calls this “dependent co-origination” or “co-arising”. In other terms, co-emergence is described by Jung’s “synchroncity”, by Bell’s non-locality theorem, the “implicate order” of David Bohm, and in terms of “observor created reality” in quantum mechanics. (The spatially-oriented, and now deficient mental-rational structure of consciousness, still does not know how to handle these subjects, and can only describe them — from its perspectivist logic — as being “mystical”).

Co-emergence (or co-origination, co-arising, co-evolution, etc) is the final negation of the absurdities of Cartesian metaphysical dualism which permitted of no real communion or vital connection between consciousness and reality, or any intimate relationship between Man and Nature, or psyche and cosmos.

All this is changing today.

Field versus Point of View (POV).

Since the beginning of quantum mechanics and of Picasso’s art too, the all-inclusive “field” has been displacing the Newtonian-inspired, atomistic, egoistic, and perspectival “point of view”. The point of view locates consciousness in space, not in time. The quantum field theory represents the rejection of the primacy of atomism and particularism. It corresponds in physics to the interconnectedness of entities in evolutionary ecology. The anxiety and difficulty that some people have today with the concept of “field” is a residuum of the Newtonian Era of space-consciousness and the deficiency of the principle of “self-interest”. “Field” includes time and space as a continuum. What we call “past” and “future”, or “inner” and “outer” co-exist or co-arise as a continuum within one field of reality. There are not two separate realities of subject and object, or mind and body, where one constitutes a “beyond” or “other world” and the other, a “this world”. In effect, the “field” constitutes the meaning of “omnipresence”. With that, also, the principle of “self-interest” that arises from the perspectival point of view is challenged. The human ego, being a socialised construction of “point of view” and “rational self-interest”, naturally feels threatened in its existence by the implications of field theory. “Field” awareness is what is presently understood as “holistic” or “integralist” as opposed to the merely perspectivist “nook and corner pespectivism” (Nietzsche) of the excessively and exclusively self-interested or ego-centric point of view.

Consciousness versus Intellect.

In consequence of all the above considerations, consciousness is now understood as being different from “mind” or “intellect”, and especially from ideology. The principle of the Modern Era, established by Descartes in the formula cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) made existence (and awareness) and thinking identical in meaning. Being and thinking are made one and the same. In consequence, animals were not considered to have a “soul” (as an example) because they lacked a rational faculty, (conveniently excusing the practice of animal vivisection). One of the most decisive and defining features of the emerging transmodern or transhumanist era is the rejection of the equivalence of thinking with consciousness or being. Consciousness is not ideology, nor is it merely mentation, ratiocination, and intellection.

Consciousness precedes logic. How could it be otherwise? One must be conscious before one can learn to think properly at all. But our contemporary Artificial Intelligence fanatics believe the inverse of the truth — that a machine can become conscious by being made to logify and logificate first (to form a couple of neo-logisms). True intelligence has nothing to do with thinking directly. Thinking is only the overt and manifesting expression of an innate intelligence that can never be synthesised in a machine or even completely objectified and quantified.

Consciousness is the nexus — the bridge — that relates all the other factors: it is field, it is co-emergence, and it is the originator of time as we experience it in its fluidity and mutability.

In subsequent posts, I will want to explore individually each of these four pillars of the new era in more detail.

3 responses to “Time, Co-Emergency, Field, and Consciousness”

  1. Kevin D. Keck says :

    A friend just recommended to me Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity, by Roy A. Rappaport. I’ve only taken a peek at it online so far, but there appears to be much in it that is resonant with what this blog and it’s predecessor have been addressing, from repeated quotations of Heraclitus to successive chapters on time and eternity. But what I found particularly interesting was the final chapter: “Post-modern science and natural religion”.

    “Post-modern science”, though, is not what he is really reaching for—the ridiculously confused epistemology of QM, and the fictions of “dark matter” and “dark energy”, already fully constitute that, and are nothing to be proud of. What he is really struggling to conceive is a trans-modern science, a post-nihilistic science, a science which is not only recognized but actually celebrated as co-creative—not merely discovering natural laws but actually constructing an evolving reality, because that is the power of our collective enlightenment.

  2. Scott says :

    That sounds like a very interesting book, and the description you give of the final chapter close to what I am reaching for in trying to articulate “co-emergence”. I’ll have to check that one out.

    I was doing a lot of cyber-surfing today, and realised that, within the last 6 or 7 years since I started The Dark Age Blog, there is a lot more fantastic stuff. I started TDAB because I was discouraged by the complete lack of insight I found on the internet into the real problems of Late Modernity. That’s now changed completely and in a very short period of time.

    Today I also learned that Sweden has now elected a hung parliament (along with Britain, Canada, India, Australia). This is an evident trend of the times which, on the one hand, reflects the weakness of the system of governance selection in Late Modernity (we call it here in Canada, “constitutional ciris”), but at the same time is the rallying of large parts of the electorate to prevent the full take-over of government by reactionaries. So, while this fracturing of the polity resulting in minority governments is discouraging in one way, it is very encouraging in another way. In many of these cases (such as in Canada) the rapid rise of the Green Party is altering the political landscape in profound ways.

    So, events are moving very quickly — a lot more quickly than I anticipated. (Example, I just read Paul Hawken’s Commencement Address given at the University of Portland. Not something I would have expected to happen so soon.

  3. InfiniteWarrior says :

    I just read Paul Hawken’s Commencement Address given at the University of Portland. Not something I would have expected to happen so soon.

    What a great way to start the morning. ^.^

    By coincidence, very active Chief Editor of WiserEarth, Bowo was kind enough to share a link to another speech by Hawken [vid] about the unprecedented, too-large-to-comprehend, non-ideological, “movement” that’s been sweeping the globe for years.

    It is my belief that we are part of a movement that is greater, deeper and broader than we ourselves know or can know. It flies under the radar of the media by and large. It is nonviolent. It is grassroots. It has no cluster bombs, no armies and no helicopters. It has no central ideology. A male vertebrate is not in charge. This unnamed movement is the most diverse movement the world has ever seen.

    And “the world to come” looks mighty refreshing.

    Hawken’s book is titled Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. Definitely one I’ll be adding to my reading list.

    PS As much as alex is frustrated by the manner in which truth-seekers are dismissed by the MSM, I am determined to reclaim from it the original meaning of the word “naïve”. Used in the Amazon book review (not surprisingly by Reed Business Information) to describe Mr. Hawken’s perspective on the 1999 Seattle WTO meeting, the word is invariably (cynically) used to imply “unsophisticated”, “ingenuous”, “artless”, “quileless”, etc. — very different from its Latin root, nativus aka Indestructible Innocence.

    Personally, I’m loving the “nativity scene” spread out before us.

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