Home > Uncategorized > bringing forth of worlds ii

bringing forth of worlds ii

from James Lawly’s Constructivism is Only a Construct:

No representation, No information (p.263-265)
According to the Santiago theory, cognition is not a representation of an independent, pregiven world, but rather a bringing forth of a world. What is brought forth by a particular organism in the process of living is not the world but a world, one that is always depending upon the organism’s structure. Since individual organisms within a species have more or less the same structure, they bring forth similar worlds. We humans, moreover, share an abstract world of language and thought through which we bring forth our world together.

Maturana and Varela do not maintain that there is a void out there, out of which we create matter. There is a material world, but it does not have any predetermined features. The authors of the Santiago theory do not assert that ‘nothing exists’; they assert that ‘no things exist’ independent of the process of cognition. There are no objectively existing structures; there is no pregiven territory of which we can make a map – the map-making itself brings forth the features of the territory.

Together with the idea of mental representations of an independent world, the Santiago theory also rejects the idea of information as some objective feature of that independently existing world. To understand this seemingly puzzling assertion, we must remember that for human beings cognition involves language, abstract thinking and symbolic concepts that are not available to other species.

The ability to abstract is a key characteristic of human consciousness, and because of that ability we can and do use mental representations, symbols, and information. However, these are not characteristics of the general process of cognition that is common to all living systems. Although human beings frequently use mental representations and information, our cognitive process is not based on them.

The rejection of representation and of information as being relevant to the process of knowing are both difficult to accept, because we use both concepts constantly. To gain a proper perspective on these idea, it is very instructive to take a closer look at what is meant by ‘information’. The conventional view is that information is somehow ‘lying out there’ to be picked up by the brain. However, such a piece of information is a quality, name, or short statement that we have abstracted from the whole network of relationships, a context, in which it is embedded and which gives it meaning. Whenever such a ‘fact’ is embedded in a stable context that we encounter with great regularity, we can abstract it from that context, associate it with the meaning inherent in the context, and call it ‘information’.

We are so used to these abstractions that we tend to believe that meaning resides in the piece of information rather than in the context from which it has been abstracted. For example, there is nothing ‘informative’ in the color red, except that, when embedded in a cultural network of conventions and in the technological network of city traffic, it is associated with stopping at an intersection.

from Urs Boeschenstein’s page on Fritjof Capra’s Hidden Connections

As humans, we exist in language and we continually weave the linguistic web in which we are embedded. We coordinate our behaviour in language, and together in language we bring forth our world.

“The world everyone sees is not the world but a world, which we bring forth with others”. Maturana/Varela

This human world centrally includes our inner world of abstract thought, concepts, beliefs, mental images, intentions and self-awareness. In a human conversation, how concepts and ideas, emotions and body movements become tightly linked in a complex choreography of behavioural coordination.

from Anthony Enns’ A Media Theory of Consciousness (page 2):

As in Galatea 2.2, Tabbi notes that many works of Cognitive Fictions transform the realist novel into a journal, or a “system of notations,” where the correlation between “collaborating minds . . . is accomplished by a jump between levels within a single mind”

A journal is therefore a “remediated narrative” whose power rests “in a materiality that appears at the changing boundaries between print and its medial environment” (97). In other words, shifting between media enables the jump to another conceptual level, because “meanings emerge that are different from what any one medium could produce in isolation” (97-98).

from the next page of the same:

Tabbi suggests that Oulipian writing strategies provide a more useful context for hypertext because they similarly put the “composing mind . . . into contact with formal and procedural conditions that are always present, always constraining, supporting, tweaking, and unconsciously controlling the creative process” (130). By forcing writers and readers to become aware of these constraints, hypertext (like cognitive fiction) functions as “an autopoietic writing system,” which “draws a distinction with its environment and then folds that distinction back within itself” (134).

and from Florian Cramer’s “Text” and “Network”, Reconsidered:

But there seems a more important lesson to be learned from text theory, its initial trouble to understand text syntactically, its later excesses of applying text to anything and a computer-literate understanding of text as data. The political issue is how terms become magic bullets, getting mapped onto other phenomena, and out of hand in that process. If the linguistic turn led into a trap – a “prisonhouse of language”, as Jameson calls it -, the same could be said about media theory, especially where it follows cybernetic paradigms without being aware of it.

Feedback is not interaction, computation is not cognition, storage is not memory, data is not knowledge, telecommunication switches are not social networking. The cybernetic mapping is not the cultural territory. But this mapping is blatantly political and ideological in itself. We need a new network theory indeed: one that takes apart those identifications. Rather than taking all phenomena that get marketed as “networks” for face value, it would have to analyze and criticize the terminological webs and networks that are spun in between them.

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