Saturday, May 28, 2011

Korzybski on 'Cause and Effect'

The following quotes (mixed with some commentary in red) come from pages 216-218 (Chapter XV) of Science and Sanity by Alfred Korzybski (I have also highlighted information I personally wanted to put emphasis on and bracketed commentary within the text).  It is not in the order it was written:

"The clearing up of the problems of 'cause' and 'effect' is of serious importance, because powerful semantic reactions are connected with it.  To begin with, we must differentiate between the terms 'cause' and 'effect', which, linked together, imply a two-term relation nowhere to be found in this world, and thus represent a language and a two-valued 'logic' of a structure not similar to the structure of the world, and the general (infinite)-valued notion of causality.  This last notion is the psycho-logical foundation of all explanations leading toward infinite valued determinism, and is an exclusive test for structure; and so of extreme semantic importance."

This is the first time I have been conscious of the fact that cause and effect belong to the dual-throng vocabulary.  Without cause there can be no effect and thus is not similar to the structure of the world as Korzybski says.  Obviously concessions must be made when we are still identified with objectivity or our consciousness has not risen to the 'higher' dimensions.  I know personally, I based a lot of my studies on what I learned about cause and effect, so I believe it is essential to gaining better understanding.  But it seems that we should be aware that we are using Aristotelian language even when we speak of cause and effect. 

"The old absolute and objectified semantic attitude toward 'cause-effect' was and often is a serious hindrance in observing impartially the sequence of events (order) and relations.  Preconceived notions and old semantic reactions played havoc, for it is well known that we usually find what we want to find.  If we approach a problem with definite unconcious 'emotional'  wants, and cannot satisfy these semantic reactions, we become bewildered, down-hearted, and perhaps utter some such non-sense as the 'finite mind', or the like.  Under such semantic pressure, our power of observation and analysis is reduced by a kind of 'emotional stupor'.  Such an occurrence is harmful in science and in life.  'Human knowledge' depends on human ingenuity, power of observation, power of abstraction, etc.  It is an activity of the human nervous system inside of our skin and can never be the events themselves."

 "Four our purpose, the most fundamental semantic application of what has been said above is in the vast field embraced by the old structural notions of 'cause' and 'effect'.  These terms are of great antiquity, of a distinctly pre-scientific one-, two-valued semantic epoch.  They originated in the rough experience of our race, and are firmly rooted in the habits of 'thought' and the structure of our old two-valued 'logic' and language, and because of that are even now unduly baffling.  These terms, in the two-valued sense, were and are the structural assumptions of our 'private' and 'official' 'philosophies' [This sounds like what Vitvan refers to as one's 'private world'].  The unenlightened use of these terms has done much to prevent the formulation of a science of man and to build up vicious anti-scientific metaphysics of various sorts involving pathological semantic reactions.  With the new quantum mechanics [1933], a better understanding of these notions, based on the infinite-valued semantics of probability, becomes a paramount issue for all science.  In daily life, the indiscriminate use of two-valued 'cause' and 'effect' leads structurally to a great deal of absolutism, dogmatism, and other harmful semantic disturbances, which I call confusion of orders of abstraction.

We usually follow the 'philosophers' and ascribe-or, rather feel, as conscious ascribing would not stand criticism-some mysterious structural continuity, some mysterious overlapping of 'cause' and effect'.  We 'feel', and try to 'think', about 'cause and effect' as contiguous in 'time'.  But 'contiguous in time' involves the impossible 'infinitesimal' of some unit of 'time'. But, since we have seen that there is no such thing, we must accept that the interval between 'cause' and 'effect' is finite.  This structural fact changes the whole situation.  If the interval between 'cause' and 'effect' is finite, then always something might happen between, no matter how small the interval may be.  The 'same cause' would not produce the 'same effect'.  The expected result would not follow.  This means only that in this world, to be sure of some expected effect, requires that there must be nothing in the environment which can interfere with the process of passing from the conditions labeled 'cause' to the conditions labeled 'effect.  In this world, with the structure which it has, we can never suppose that a 'cause', as we know it, is alone sufficient to produce the supposed 'effect'.  When we consider the ever-changing environment, the number of possibilities increases enormously.  If it were possible to take into account the whole of the environment, the probability that some event would be repeated, in all details, thus exhibiting the assumed two-valued relations of 'cause' and 'effect', which we took for granted in the old days, would practically be nil.  The principle of non-elementalism, as we see, requires an infinite-valued semantics of probability."

Vitvan in his teachings has provided the perfect example to get Korzybski's point across.  When we stand at a certain point on a circle we can look back and we can look forward.  Just as we do in our day to day lives, we find ourselves in one moment and can "view" moments from the past and "look" toward moments in the future that we hope will happen.  Or we work in this moment to create a moment in the future.

Now what happens when one steps off of that circle?  What is the past and what is the future?  Where is the cause and where is the effect?  It just is. One cannot distinguish any event from another.  And so Vitvan says where one sees clearly or finds his dharma, he comes in line with Will, there is no free-will. Look at the cycle which we call birth/death.  In our current state, we say that when we are conceived by our objective mother that we are "born" and when we exit this world, we "die".  We don't know what happens when we die as long as we see only this half.  Now imagine you have full awareness of the complete cycle.  Now which one is birth and which one is death?  They are interchanging one into the other.  You cannot out-rightly say that one is birth and one is death.  A lot of spiritualists will say that to die is to enter the "material" world and to be born is to leave the 'material body'.  That takes a negative connotation, yet all is purposeful.  That was a little parenthetical, but I think one can say that when one is outside of a sphere or WHOLLY 'within' it that there is no past/future, good/bad, that each point must be given the same value or weight.

Korzybski used his model which he called the Structural Differential (see right).  This model details the orders of abstractions, and also accounts for frequencies or factors that we do not register.  The event is represented by E at the top and you can see the strands labeled B2.  These represent those frequencies we do not register as we abstract.  So we crystallize the event into an object, but along the way we must account for the factors not known to us 'consciously'.  When we use the subject-predicate language structure we put stress on the nervous system because we are not representing the configuration (thing) as it is in life facts.  So when you say something like, "my mom ruined my life", you are leaving out many factors and completely go against the structure of the world, i.e. the value you give is what reacts upon you.  Instead you could say, "Because my mom indulged in alcohol and neglected me, I BELIEVE she has impacted my life negatively."  By saying that something seems to be or that you personally believe something, you are leaving extensions, acknowledging that you could be wrong or that there could be other factors that you are not currently aware.  When we leave those extensions, we do not have those emotional outbursts because we did not get what we expected as Korzybski notes in one of the paragraphs above.  We left the door open, acknowledging that a situation could turn out 'negative' or 'positive' but we have the ability to react unemotionally towards it and deal with it objectively.  If we remain open minded then we can expand the awareness of the situation.  If we become dogmatic and identify labels as the object, we cannot grow. If I can parenthetically say, I think we shy so much away from pain that we often cannot experience true love and fulfillment.  I think there is a semantic blockage that we have developed toward pain and I want to go into this more in the future for sure.

So we if we are open minded, we can look at many factors.  Instead of simply giving in because something happened in our past, we can find the quality within us and alter the quality, not holding on, identifying with an event that happened a long time ago.  A seemingly negative experience might get us to look within and change certain qualities that eventuated and when we are able to alter those qualities, we gain strength, confidence, etc.  Without those events we would float through life and never lose anything but never gain anything more than they brought with them, and some do.  And some will look at certain patterns that run in their families, identify them as hereditary, i.e. an 'effect' abstracted from a so called 'cause' (family disease or disorder) and so they believe they are helpless.  Instead of looking at the semantic pattern that has been passed down, the physiological organism is all that is observed.  "My doctor told me I have high cholesterol, it runs in my family, I'll get on medicine."  So as has been said again and again, it's not the events that affect you, but the value you give to them.  It's easier to look at the world as chaotic, then we don't have to take responsibility.  "When I do good, nothing comes of it anyway" one might say.  The problem usually is that one is conditioned to objectivity.  What he wants are 'things'.  Most of the time people are willing to go deep within, we only want to change the outside, make outside of the pretty and proper.  But when we go inside and are willing to fight, great outcomes can happen.

We often hear about those who are stricken with cancer who do not undergo the standard treatments like chemotherapy yet their cancer "miraculously" disappears.  What happens?  Between the 'cause' and the 'effect' that person changed the state of their consciousness that initially created the cancer.  If one changes the environment that cultivated the cancer through changing their consciousness then the cancer can no longer thrive in the environment.  And that is the same concept as raising one's forces to the "higher levels".  One's "house" might have been a great nesting spot for imps, devils, elementals, etc. but when that one rose his respective forces on up above the root and solar centers to the heart center and above, the elemental could not stand the light radiating out from those centers and scurries away like a cockroach.

So there is always the interval between the so called 'cause' and the 'effect'.  Otherwise there would be no order and we would all be automatons.  We left the Father's House for a reason, we are on the circle in our current state of consciousness.  But when when we step off the circle, stop giving value, stop letting environmental factors lead us astray from our path, then we re-enter the Father's House.  When the Logos becomes flesh then that interval would seemingly be gone  or at least we could see both the ebb and flow.  Whatever the Will desired to create would be done.  Thy Will be done, not mine.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Science and Sanity

This comes from page 176 of Science and Sanity:

"It seems evident that the extroverted and introverted tendencies have some connection with extensional and intensional types of reaction; but, of course, they are not identical.  They influence the individual in the selection of a profession, and in the preference for some special trend of activity.  Thus, mathematicians, generally, have an inclination toward extension, 'philosophers' toward intension.  Now it is interesting to note that mathematicians have a record of continuous constructive progress, and at each epoch have produced the highest kind of language known.  Also, the most important achievements in the fields which traditionally belonged to 'philosophers' have actually been produced by mathematicians.  The 'philosophers', in the main, have a record of failure.

The reason for this difference, which is too remarkable to be a mere coincidence, may be found by application of the term 'order' in our analysis.  The extensional method is the only method which is in accordance with the structure of our nervous system as established by survival.  Reversed intensional methods disorganize this normal mode of activity of the nervous system, and so lead toward nervous and 'mental' illnesses."

So I want to stop there.  If you read my earlier post I was talking about some Youtube videos I was watching and how these guys seemed to abstract way out into grounds where there seemed to be no point and no referents established for many of the words.  I will not post the link, as I do not want to knock them, they are trying to find their way just like anyone else and who is to say is right for another.  It is only observation for learning purposes, it is not meant to look down upon.  I'm sure you can find many representations if you go searching.  But these particular videos I was watching happened to be created by philosophy students.  And it was interesting how they were reading books about initiation and seemed to have all the pertinent information at their disposal but they didn't condense any of it, there was no seeming synthesis into a functional philosophy or "way of life", no purpose.

So what did they lack?  They lacked order, no road map.  Many are seeking enlightenment or expanded awareness but at some point all of this information (it is not knowledge) becomes a nemesis.  We become bogged down by the sheer volume.  We cannot synthesize it and make it functional, well because we mistake the mental squirrel caging for realization.  But the mathematician or scientist he has the structure and so with this I think he many times mistakenly find his way into the 'higher levels'.  As Korzybski says, for one to be well adjusted he should be an extroverted-introvert or introverted-extrovert.  So the philosopher starts out as intensional, but to make his information functional he must become extensional.  This is just like saying that we first must involve before we evolve.  Nature has a periodicity to it, there are no exceptions that I can see.  Or we can say that balance must always be achieved.

And so I will continue with more the text because I just think it is brilliant stuff:

"As explained before, the structure of our nervous system was established with 'senses' first, and 'mind' next.  In neurological terms, the nervous impulses should be received first in the lower centres and pass on through the sub-cortical layers to the cortex, be influenced there and be transformed in the cortex by the effect of past experiences.  In this transformed state they should then proceed to different destinations, as predetermined by the structure established by survival values.  We know, and let us remember this, that the reversed order in semantic manifestation-namely, the projection into 'senses' of memory traces or doctrinal impulses-is against the survival structure, and hallucinations, delusions, illusions, and confusion of orders of abstractions are to be considered pathological.  In a 'normal' human nervous system with survival value, the nervous impulses should not be lost in the sub-cortical layers.  In such a case, the activity of our human nervous system would correspond to the activity of the less-developed nervous systems of animals which have no cortex at all.  It must be remembered, also, that the sub-cortical layers which have a cortex, as in man, are quite different from corresponding layers of those animals which have never developed a cortex.  It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that survival values are sharply characterized by adequacy, and that animals without cortex have nervous systems adequate for their needs under their special conditions; otherwise, they would not have survived.  This applies, also, to those animals who have a cortex.  Their activities for survival depend on this cortex; and when the cortex is removed, their activities become inadequate.  Their sub-cortical layers alone are not adequate to insure survival.  For survival, such animals must use not only their lower centres and their sub-cortical layers, but also their cortices."

So I will stop there and comment.  So what Dr. Korzybski is inferring is that we humans are not using our cortex as it was meant to function and thus we on the majority are functioning like animals.  This has been cultivated in the race psyche and so this is now "normal", normal in the sense that it is average.  A new standard has been set.  But in reality it is not "normal", we are not functioning up to the level of our capabilities.  Our nervous reactions mirror those of animals.  If we continue to not function correctly then we will begin to not survive.  And so when I think of survival, I do not think in objective terms as in, "I'll lose my body."  The average person is having his fun and drinking and being merry and does not have time to stop and analyze the situation.  He can easily stop and say that there is nothing after I'm dead without further inquiry and be done with it and go on functioning like the animals.  Personally, I think about the qualities I am building into my psyche.  What qualities or aptitudes can I take out with me and bring back with me.  And then we must remember that the world is not going to slow down or lower itself to level we decide to function on.  It is non-survival.

What happens to those species in the past who lost the ability to survive?  Well, they aren't around anymore.  Vitvan in his book "The Deva Line of Evolution" talks about the period when the sea creatures began to evolve and leave the water and develop lungs.  There was quite the struggle and many could not adjust to the new conditions.  He says that those 'individual spirits' were shifted to the deva line of development, meaning that they no longer incarnated into a 'material' configuration (body).  The lowest level of their development was the etheric world.  They weren't extinguished, but in terms of development, being able to incarnate into these levels is a great boon to the individual.  It can take 10,000 years to accomplish in the deva world what it takes 1000 years to accomplish on the configurational level, Vitvan says.  That is just a practical example as to the struggle for survival and how nature does not give any slack.  So this might sound like fear mongering (I hope not), but hopefully to one on the fence it might give them the motivation to seek to read Science and Sanity (among other books) and change the patterns that have been bestowed upon us due to our integration within this race psyche. 

It isn't easy and in fact its probably the hardest process one could undertake, but what does anyone have to lose except maybe some pride and an ego and maybe some friends?  Sure sounds like a lot to gain though.  And as I've said previously, it seems as though the separation is occurring, there is societal dichotomy taking shape, so this seems to be the time to make the push forward and make sure one stays on the positive, creative side.

If you want to continue reading this section, you can pick it up on page 177.

Thanks for reading.

Edit:  The more I thought about this subject, the more I felt like I missed the mark.  I guess the point is that the autonomous field is the Ultimate Cause and that cause/effect is the play within that field.  There is validity in tracing the causes of certain effects, but we also must account for unknown factors that we are unable to register.  And once one removes himself from the rolling wheel, cause cannot be seen as happening before effect and vice versa, as the nature of reality is a spiral and not linear.

Friday, May 6, 2011


And this one comes from the last lesson in "Practices in Individual Development" -

"It is the state in which the Power-to-be-conscious is conscious that sets up the impulse in the substance that we call the wave and frequency.  When the Power-to-be-conscious is conscious of Light, then the waves and frequencies of Light become the objective representation or the manifest representation of the state.  That is so immediate in Light's Regions, so immediate, that the state on the part of the Power-to-be-conscious and the wave-frequencies and its manifestation becomes a simultaneous process in Light's Regions.  When we reach even the edge of Light's Regions, to become conscious of an idea (not mental concept), to become conscious of a state that is qualified (that means idea), qualified, instantaneously it is manifest.  The state, the idea, the waves-frequency-the manifestation is faster than light.

As the substance becomes gross, that is, the interstices between the units of energy or the units of light become wider and wider, i.e., grosser, coarser, it is less instantaneous.  There is a lag between the state and the manifest evidence or manifestation of the state.  When we come to living matter we have to dwell with an idea, that is, we dwell with the quality of feeling, the quality of desire or thought.  We have to entertain it over what we call time before it begins to configurate and manifest in living matter.  So the higher, the finer the substance, the higher the state, the more instantaneous it is, until it is simultaneous with the state."

A Treatise on Faith

Ending quote from the booklet "A Treatise on Faith" containing rich teachings from Vitvan:

"Whatever the immediate trials and seeming failures of your life may be, keep forever in your mind the happy consciousness that the trials, temptations, hardships, sorrows and disappointments through which your pathway leads are but the recurrences of evanescent and fleeting shadows of your past, appearing again for corrective purposes, and of themselves have no substance you need to fear.  Meet them serenely and without flinching and, one by one, learn the lesson that each has come to teach, then they will vanish as the mist and the fog vanish before the dispelling power of God's beneficent sunlight.

Build you a temple in your consciousness upon the rock of faith, and by your works make your life a monument of beauty, whether the world knows and enjoys it or knows it not.  This, in effect, represents the eternal as well as the universal significance of faith."