Monday 18 May 2009

Mere ideas

I got into an argument over the weekend about whether humans are 'evolving'. I got quite heated about it, which was interesting to me... it was probably because I felt my identity challenged (and so did they). My challenge to the 'evolutionary' idea is that it is merely one way (a rather western post-Descartes way) of making distinctions, which glosses over individual human experience.

The sensuality of human life is, it strikes me, a constant dimension, not an evolving one (indeed, we may be less attuned to our senses, including 'common sense', than we used to be). Sensual lives are played out against a continually changing context, reproduced and transformed by individual lives (technology, social change, etc). Ideas, including evolutionary ideas, can be dangerous because they risk disconnecting our senses, and become over-reliant on rational abstraction. This is where fundamentalism begins.

This all started me thinking about the role of ideas in forming our identities. We get attached to ideas, or ways of making distinctions, because they help us navigate our experience. Getting too attached is dangerous - it's quite easy to become 'fundamentalist': that means when the idea outweighs basic conscience, human decency or 'common sense'.

I love ideas, and they form part of my identity (particularly certain philosophical ones, or cybernetic ones). I play with distinctions as a way of probing my conscience. Some distinctions I find useful. And everyone is a bit like this: we all have ideas, some of them silly, some of them well-grounded... and they can affect the way we act. At best, however, they are regulated (and if necessary over-ruled) by our senses: our sense of others' ideas and feelings being different from our own; our sense of ways to organise ourselves; our sense of fairness; our sense of right and wrong... and (basically) love.

Related to this, this is my attempt to explain creativity using the distinctions of the Viable System Model...

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