My purpose in this essay is to explain cognition as a biological phenomenon, and to show, in the process, how language arises and gives origin to self consciousness, revealing the ontological foundations of the physical domain of existence as a limiting cognitive domain. In order to do this I shall start from two unavoidable experiential conditions that are at the same time my problems and my explanatory instruments, namely: a) that cognition, as is apparent in the fact that any alteration of the biology of our nervous system alters our cognitive capacities, is a biological phenomenon that must be explained as such; and b) that we, as is apparent in this very same essay, exist as human beings in language using language for our explanations. These two experiential conditions are my starting point because I must be in them in any explanatory attempt; they are my problems because I choose to explain them; and they are my unavoidable instruments because I must use cognition and language in order to explain cognition and language.
In other words, I propose not to take cognition and language as given unexplainable properties, but to take them as phenomena of our human domain of experiences that arise in the praxis of our living, and that as such deserve explanation as biological phenomena. At the same time, it is my purpose to use our condition of existing in language to show how the physical domain of existence arises in language as a cognitive domain. That is, I intend to show that the observer and observing, as biological phenomena, are ontologically primary with respect to the object and the physical domain of existence.
The attempts to clarify (purify) the conceptual foundations of family therapy by means of “epistemology” have bred excitement, boredom, irritation and confusion. In the belief that at least the confusion can be alleviated, the present paper is offered as a study guide and something of a Rosetta Stone for translating the work of Gregory Bateson and Humberto R. Maturana. The paper demonstrates that Maturana’s work is highly compatible with that of Bateson. In addition, several major points of contrast are argued: (1) Maturana’s concept of structure determinism is an explicit ontological claim which directly implies an epistemology, whereas Bateson delineated an epistemology, but never clearly developed a corresponding ontology; (2) structure determinism is a more general concept than Bateson’s concept of “mind” (i.e., cybernetic epistemology); (3) structure determinism deletes the remnants of objectivity from Bateson’s theory (i.e., “the difference that makes a difference”); and (4) Maturana’s concept of instructive interaction is a more general, nonsystemic version of what Bateson meant when he used the term “epistemological error.” Finally, it is claimed that the emphasis on epistemology has distracted proponents and detractors alike from the essential message of Bateson and Maturana: social systems and all human endeavor must be understood in light of our existence as biological entities that are coupled to a medium. The biological ontology implicit in Bateson’s writings and explicitly delineated in Maturana’s may (at long last) provide a sound foundation for the social and behavioral sciences.
McMurtry’s work offers a contribution to the understanding, as well as to development of standards for the measurement, of human well-being, so that progress and regress may be interpreted in ways that mainstream economic criteria neglect or fail to ascertain, both in theory and in practice. The importance of determining novel standards and indicators is considerable, and widely acknowledged by many academics and politicians (for example, the 2008–2009 Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission created by the French Government), but above all it is important to reconceptualise economic phenomena so as to re-orient them in line with life-based criteria.
First, it has already been highlighted that the type of ‘growth’ conceptualised and pursued in today’s global market has had systemic negative effects upon life at many levels, to the point of making possible the explanation of said implications by means of a cancer-based explanatory model. ‘Real capital’ as ‘life capital’ is both unseen and harmed by standard economic thought (CSC2013, p. 12).
Second, in the wake of the current economic crisis, the same global market has been proven equally unable to attain ‘growth’ on its own life-blind terms, that is, in terms of pecuniary aggrandisement for money investors and/or managers (cf. Crotty, 2000). ‘Real capital’ as sheer ‘money’ is not there either, especially if one considers that the vast meltdowns of the last few decades have been caused by speculative bubbles in exponentially ‘leveraged’ masses of currency without any ‘grounding’ in ‘a medium of exchange and capital’ such as ‘gold, labour, or livestock’ (CSC2013, p. 12).
The system’s inherent rationality, which economics textbooks presuppose, is to be seriously questioned, and that is what McMurtry’s work does, consistent with Castoriadis’ (2005a, p. 129) poignant characterisation of the Socratic role that philosophers are expected to play in genuinely democratic societies: the possibility and the ability to call established institutions and significations into question. Whether he will be listened to, we do not know. However, responding to a cancer diagnosis by avoiding what alone can work is fatal.
Clipped from: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – YouTube
John McMurtry shows that a false economic paradigm holds the world in thrall to a global corporate death system masked as market freedom. Liberation is explained as grounded in humanity’s repressed life-value code, life capital bases and civil commons organization which unify across distances and differences.
Excerpts from: Vaughan, G. (2015). The gift in the heart of language: The maternal source of meaning. Mimesis. (pp. 40, 411, 424-429, 435-436)
“I also want to give you a typological gift. I believe that solving problems is a kind of gift-giving. The typological problem I want to solve is the one having to do with gender inclusiveness that is addressed in English at present by adding a slash to the gender pronouns he and she, as in s/he. I believe this is a disturbing slash, perhaps phallic and even violent. Including it in the feminine pronoun seems to include these masculine characteristics in the female. Instead, I propose using ‘: ‘ as a sign of nipples which both women and men have, but which directly recall the mother, as in s:he. With this I hope to show that both women and men can follow the maternal model, the model of the gift economy.” (p. 40)
Dr. Zach Bush is an internationally recognized educator and thought leader on the microbiome as it relates to health, disease, and food systems. He founded Seraphic Group and the nonprofit Farmer’s Footprint to develop root-cause solutions for human and ecological health. He sees that there is a dramatic need for a radical departure from chemical farming and pharmacy, and his ongoing efforts are providing a path for consumers, farmers, and mega-industries to work together for a healthy future for people and the planet.
So, really, there’s never been a better time to sit down with Dr. Bush — because our society and planet clearly need some help right now.
As you remember, Zach Bush MD is a physician specializing in internal medicine, endocrinology, and hospice care. He’s also an internationally recognized educator and thought leader on the microbiome as it relates to health, disease, and food systems. Our last conversation, which felt like an energy vortex of connectedness and truthfinding, episode 304, is one of my most streamed ever.
This week, he weaves at least a dozen thought patterns that might change your life forever. He is both flatly at peace with the end of all life and truthfully optimistic on our chances. You’re going to want to settle in for this one. Open your mind, and your notebook. Zach is a deep pool of mindblowing knowledge and perspective. I’m so excited to bring you this conversation.
Genevieve Vaughan has published her third book regarding the reality and transformative potential of the gift economy, a logic and matrix of practices that imply the liberation of all genders. The new theory provides solutions to the most urgent need in neoliberal capitalist societies: to overturn the civilizational crises that capitalism and patriarchy have caused with the distortion and appropriation of the Gift. The Gift in the Heart of Language provides sobering and mind-altering perspectives on the gift economy in all of its manifestations. The Gift has mostly been discussed in sociology and anthropology, and in relation to Indigenous people. Vaughan’s contribution is to have made its presence visible in many other fields, where it is taken for granted but where it, in fact, represents the pillar holding societies together. Where French feminism has invented bisexual or feminine writing, Vaughan shows that language, itself, is maternal at its root, not part of the Symbolic, or a symptom of the Law of the Father (Lacan). She shows that the Gift is a more typical matrix of values and worldview among women, but not exclusively so. References to societies still engaged in ecosocially sustainable gift practices serve to explode the taken-for-granted views claiming that patriarchy and exchange have been universal and without alternative.
A review essay of the second, revised edition of John McMurtry, Understanding the Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Cancer to Cure (London: Pluto, 2013). Published in the November 2013 issue of the CCPA Monitor, Canada.