The digital environment enacts a global phase transition. A change in the conditions of change. This blog explores figures over the digital ground.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Some Wandering Thoughts on the Metaphor of the Stage
The metaphor of the stage is an interesting one. There is a theory of the mind/consciousness "the theater of consciousness the workspace of the mind" http://vesicle.nsi.edu/users/baars/other/BaarsJCS1997.pdf that talks of the brain (and the minds extension) creates consciousness through the construction of a 'stage'. This is much the same as Nicholas Humphrey in his lovely short easy to grasp book "Seeing Red" posits as the 'platform' of consciousness. That 'consciousness is not 'sensing' nor 'sensing what is sensed' (though this is closer). He suggests that there is a necessary social component to the arise of consciousness - that it requires that an 'other' also sense that we sense what we sense. In this way 'other' is the implicit stage (because there is no stage without audience)for the arise of consciousness.
Maybe this is way the ant hill is more intelligent than the ants which compose it, that the slime-mold can become a single organism with differentiated functions even though each cell remains 'autonomous' (except those who surrender themselves to become the procreative 'part' of the collective).
I really like the position that Quentin Meillassoux suggests, that - 'Humans are the ancestors of God'. While I don't believe in a pre-given teleology for evolution Meillassoux could be understood that what emerges in the collective is a higher intelligence - a collective intelligence - that can also interact with it components to make them more intelligent (thus increasing its own intelligence - and on and on).
McLuhan (among others) noted that humans shape tools and tools shape humans. Kevin Kelly suggests that technology is the 7th kingdom of life (ants farm aphids to harvest mold, birds build nests, evolutions uses a 'selection mechanism'). Perhaps matter is the stage for the technology of evolution to manifest life - life creating the conditions for its own becoming.
When humans invented the technologies of language and culture they became the most accomplished - self-programming life form, an acceleration of the 'old technologies of evolution' and the birth of an emergent 'stage' for evolving.
Language does not live in our genes (there is no gene for English, Chinese, etc. Language does not arise in a 'single brain' (although each brain requires processing capacity). Language can only arise in complex social interaction, becoming as McLuhan said an environment in which we live (not something that lives in us) - a new stage for consciousness.
What I see the digital environment becoming is a stage of a new emergent form of consciousness - one not trapped in the small xenophobic worlds of clan, tribe, village, state. The xenophobia of 'others' becomes the conscious awareness of a whole that enables/necessitate differentiated parts (not a class system) - an ecology - that is not simply self-organizing, but become self-programmable, co-creating the conscious conditions of its own becoming.
The 'we' are not simply an aggregation of 'I's' but a co-creating/constructing mutualism - a conscious I-that-is-We simultaneously in a global theatre of mind. :)
The digital environment represent a new nervous system and what we care about represents the hormonal ecologies that provide the value (emotional meanings) to the cognitive abstracted differentiated 'whats' produced by the nervous system/sensorium. In this way the collective human social intelligence integrates the rational-emotional systems into an integrated complete 'reasoning' intelligence.
OK - I better stop here, because this is writing itself and may be way to abstract to make sense.