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The New Dialectics
The Dialectical Phenomenology of Michael Kosok

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Dialectics of Nature

Michael Kosok



 

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 2. Revolution in the Sciences

Having established dialectical phenomenology as the basis of our conception of consciousness, we can proceed with an analysis of the revolutionary perspective required to develop a unified field theory for the sciences. Because the dialectical relation between subject and object constitutes the content of the subject as an objective person and the form of the object as a subjective environment, all similar pairs of oppositions appearing within consciousness manifest the same dialectic. For example, the subject qua universalizing thought form giving meaning and expressing “intention” is at once the reflection of objective interaction and “extension,” and vice versa, any extended objectivity encountered in the world is reflective of a meaningful world. (“The rational is real, and the real is rational” can be interpreted in this way as a phenomenological condition.) No “epistemology” is needed as a separate structure to relate mind to matter, soul to body, or mental events to physical events because — as Marx puts it in his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 — “Thinking and being are thus no doubt distinct, but at the same time they are in unity with each other... Feuerbach wants sensuous objects actually different from thought objects: but he does not comprehend human activity as objective.” Mind and matter are but two sides of a single human praxis, which cannot be compartmentalized without destroying it. Consequently, as a foundation for a universal field theory of the sciences we can note that all mental activity of universalizing forms is grounded in the physical and practical activity of its content, namely the body‑in‑the‑world, while the world with which the body is inseparably correlated is a knowable meaningful world revealing its form to be none other than the universalizing activity expressing itself mentally and theoretically.

This means that a dialectic of the cosmos — a dialectic of nature revealing the objective status of nature through its intrinsic subjectivity or form to the subjectivity of man who is objectively within nature by means of an “intersubjective dialogue” between man and nature — is not only possible but necessary. The problem remains, however, of how to transform this phenomenology of intersubjectivity and the dialectics of nature into consciously directed practice, and how to recognize it as actually manifesting itself within the present forms of scientific praxis, even though obscured by the alienated state of consciousness of modern scientific culture. The ancients used to relate to the world in terms of an elaborate mythology which some took literally, but which most regarded as a schema giving expression to the intersubjective state that exists between man and the universe. Of course, the ancient as well as the medieval mythologies and religions eventually reified these myths into deterministic patterns of superimposed authority, consequently de‑subjectifring them into alienated structures. However, the subjective content expressing itself through these myths was never far from the surface. On the other hand, science in the modern world has replaced ancient and medieval mythology with a view of the cosmos that is, at best, ambiguous, and in its more usual presentation destructive, to the intrinsically intersubjective state of the universe. Scientific technology and thought patterns together with a network of human relations among scientists productive of rituals and ideologies that tend to automatically channel all human awareness along narrowly prescribed paths, have collectively contri­buted to an overall impression that nature and the universe is an illusive object of conquest which man must confront as alien. As a result, the infinite and the infinitesimal appear more and more complex, strange, ungraspable, formidable and hyper‑formal in their mathematical description, until its immediate relevancy for human praxis as a whole indeed looks nonexistent. Except for a few creative men of genius in the sciences, the world of science “out there” appears cold and void of spirit.

However, all this “cold objective reality,” either in the form of scientific “structures” describing nature by means of impersonal “energy transformations” using abstract mathematical symbols, or ideological structures describing society in terms of impersonal movements of economic and poli­tical forces — dehumanizing both nature and society — are myths (or models, to use the deceptively neutral terms employed by the sciences), generated by abstracting elements‑of‑experience from the dynamic of experience and hypothesizing them into ideal forms. This process is the first stage of alienation, which, as such, is not destructive if one can remain aware of them as idealizations. In fact, abstraction and highlighting distinctions out of an immediate context are essential for the development of the defining and measuring processes of consciousness. However, the suppression of context necessary in order to achieve such a clarity, must continually be transcended such that all mediation and formations (e.g., mathematical principles of physical processes), appear as self‑mediations and transforma­tions of the dynamic immediacy of subject‑object interaction continually present, and so that they do not replace it with an artificial world and a pseudo life principle. Knowledge is based upon limitation and ignorance, i.e., the ignoring of context. Wisdom only comes with the recognition of the limitation of limitation, and with the recognition of pre‑limited immediacy. Wisdom only comes by experiencing the active and always on‑going dynamics of awareness within which the accumulating mythology of isolated facts and theories has meaning. Wisdom only comes through recognizing the dialectic of mutual limitation between any focused form and its codeter­mining context. If no integrated experience exists within which the immediate mutuality of subject and object is felt directly, then the alienation of subject from object hardens and the subject‑object paradox becomes a contradiction. In capitalist societies (and their variations in the form of “state-capitalism”), this hardening takes the form of the institu­tionalized separation of the subject as producer from his object of produc­tion, reducing both to commodities in an external exchange relation in which price (externalized value) replaces value (intrinsic worth) with objectified role‑playing replacing the importance of genuine subjective experience — subjectivity being regarded as a mere private counter‑position to the so‑called public domain. In philosophy, the hardening first takes the form of an opposition between objective “scientism” (positivism, behaviorism) and subjective existentialism. In both of these positions, subject and object stand as intrinsically “other” to each other. There is no dialectic interdependency manifesting itself through a transformation in which each becomes a function of the other and each a function of itself through the other as inseparable distinctions without reducing the two to each other to form an inseparable indistinction and hence inconsistency, or splitting the two from each other to form separated distinctions and, consequently, incompleteness.

Recently, a more insidious hardening of alienation has taken place. As R.D. Laing’s psychological investigations point out, today one not only suppresses, forgets, or becomes alienated from the totality or reality, but one also becomes alienated, forgets, and suppresses the alienation itself. As a result, self‑alienation, self‑forgetting, and self‑suppression set in, and once one forgets that he has forgotten, no problems seem to have existed in the first place[4]. Consequently, the so‑called normal life in stabilized societies is in reality a double‑insanity — an insanity or condition of separation and dissociation which has itself become dissociated from general awareness. The horror today consists not in the appearance of violent conflict or the expression of madness or alienation, but in the normalization of psychosis and the acceptance of mythological structure as reality without any awareness of there being any conflict or tension between myth and reality. First order alienation is the felt separation between subject and object, man and nature, mind and matter, culture and science. However, if this separation itself is not transcended, then a self‑degenerating process of further separation occurs. Thus, the very experience of an initial separation between subject and object or man and nature objectifies both into struc­tures and images, i.e., into opposing mediations and delimited opposites. This means that the genuine subjectivity experiencing the painful separa­tion between subject and object — if not successful in resolution — becomes more and more eclipsed from view. The active subject of experience, in order to escape from his unresolved predicament as a responsible agent in the alienation process, permits himself to become more and more replaced in his own awareness by the passive image of himself within his own (and society’s) experience. Thus, subjectivity either becomes but another describable structure or an object among other describable objects (resulting in various forms of “structuralisms”) and hence impotent to really effect anything, to bring about meaning, or to create, or it vanishes from sight. Either man becomes reduced to a blind being or structure of scientism and formal behaviorism, or man is reduced to the empty nothing­ness of existentialism and becomes but the lack of being. The initial conflict between scientism and existentialism is now accepted as a necessary one and hence no longer as a real conflict that can be transcended. Thus, subjectivity must either be taken as a given thing or as an empty absence. In neither case is man himself — or subjectivity — directly experienced as the becoming and creation of being, whose being “consists” of being and creating.

This situation is a condition of total madness, for it tends to express a perfect crime. There is no murder of subjectivity or man, no myth of alienation, precisely because no murderer or myth maker is present as an active, creative subject in the first place. Myth is reality, and reality is myth. Man has not only created an alienated structure, but now he has succeeded in redefining himself within it, thereby expressing himself as the alienated product of an alienated process. Frankenstein’s monster has finally recreated Frankenstein the man in the monster’s image. Man is but the image‑of‑an‑image, the negation of a negation and thus, he is totally devoid of reality, assertiveness and immediacy.

The only way to prepare for a genuine transformation of consciousness — ­a revolution in the mode of subject‑object behavior (both in man’s relation to man, giving expression to a true dialectic of society, and in man’s relation to nature, bringing about a genuine dialectics of nature) — is to both uncover the subtle ways in which objectification and alienation occur, and to allow oneself to experience the way in which alienation feeds upon itself, rigidifying simple alienation into self‑alienation and blindness. This means that the task of a revolutionary in any area (in science or society) cannot consist in merely exposing alienation, objectification, exploitation, violence and discontent in all their explicit and hidden forms. Mankind can adapt himself all too well to alienation and exploitative situations. Mankind finds security from the ambiguity of change inherent in the dynamic and transforming nature of subjectivity and immediacy by dehumanizing himself into a non‑responsive object. The revolutionary must go deeper, and this is our concern here, regarding the state of alienation in the sciences.

In any stabilized consciousness — whether in the form of ego conscious­ness or social consciousness — it is the adaptive norms projected by that consciousness which function to contain and defuse the spontaneous and unpredictable dynamics of immediate subjectivity. This is accomplished through alternating cycles of coherent suppression and incoherent explosion, neither of which produces the necessary insight needed to transform consciousness into an active state that is neither passively inactive nor blindly reactive. Normalcy functions precisely by institutionalizing the subtle dialectic between asserting the given and rejecting the given (a dialectic expressing the given as that which is always in a transitive mode of “being given” and consequently neither assertive or rejective), into a rigid pattern of alternating assertion and negation or conformity and rebellion, each being the mirror image of the other. Neither conformity nor rebellion questions the function of norms and rules which delimit the dynamic of immediacy of the universe into a pattern of given structures. Conformity means simple acceptance of the given while rebellion means simple rejection of the given; both are therefore reactive mechanisms to the given. The function of myth or abstraction — in science as well as in society — which alienates a product from the process of experience is, therefore, to delimit all actual and conceivable experience as expressions of that product. Thus, language, perspectives, and formulations of consciousness become centered around either accepting or rejecting the given, but never transforming it, never grasping the given or the product as but one element within a dynamic immediacy of events being‑given, formed, unformed, reformed, and transformed. Consequently, one becomes trapped in a double bind centered around the given system, making it impossible to transcend or transform the level of awareness present. One either functions within the system, accepting it, or one functions outside of the system, rejecting or attacking it, but the system itself remains un‑transformed, even though it appears at times to be “replaced” by other forms — these other forms being but mirror images of the original system. How many “revolutions,” “revelations,” or “insights” have either degenerated or only partially succeeded by failing to completely grasp the double‑edged sword of dialectic negation? Mere change, negation, simple dispossession and reversals of power are linear reactions to what is present and not a non‑linear transformation with what is present by expressing the mutuality and interdependency of all negation and change. The function of a myth in a thoroughly alienated consciousness is to keep consciousness tied to that myth by the very oscillations which occur between its acceptance and its rejection, its praise and condemnation, its preservation and destruction (leading to a recreation of that myth or system in a new form and its redestruction). Such a constant shift between opposites is not an expression of genuine freedom or “choice.” Freedom is not a matter of simply choosing among “alternative paths,” for all such paths are already mediated, determined and mutually conditioned.

Indeed, the highest form of normalcy functions by simultaneously permitting both acceptance and rejection, conformity and rebellion, playing one off against the other without transcending either. Thus, in the modern world of computerized commodities, the worker qua producer exists in a public world as a robot controlled by his alienated products, displaying no meaningful subjectivity or control over the production of his own products. He conforms and accepts his inhumanity as long as he does indeed produce. This is true of both material production and the production of ideas in academic institutions. Ideas and objects alike become divorced from their creators and take on an autonomous life in the public domain. On the other hand, the worker qua consumer exists or imagines himself to exist in a totally private world that is indifferent to the problem of public production. He is indeed encouraged directly or indirectly to rebel from the concerns of public interaction whenever they are involved with “bread and butter” issues concerning the various ways available to heighten the pleasures of private consumption and autistic self-expression, which includes autistic self-expression through ideas, art for art’s sake, and so-called religious gratification. (Superficial “political” concern by merely voting among choices whose most probable outcome is already determined by the myth‑making, consciousness‑controlling organs of the given power structure only adds to the alienation of individuals from society by sublimating the “public conscience” along essentially harmless channels.) It is thus not only proper but necessary for a normal consciousness to respond so completely to the given that two well‑separated compartments emerge, expressive of the statics of the given. The subject as producer sells himself and his energy to the system (and the given) without care or concern for the products which somehow have their own life, prostrating himself as a slave to their production, while the worker as consumer buys and takes the products from the system (and the given), telling the system to “go screw itself.” Alienation as self‑alienation takes the form of setting one aspect of consciousness against the other, giving rise to a dynamics of alternately using and being used, exploiting and being exploited, seeing and being seen, objectifying and being objectified.

Consequently, in a normalized consciousness (both within the ego and society) no genuine subjectivity responsible for, or to, integrated behavior exists and exploitation, violence and discontent, i.e., alienation, appear universal. Alienation becomes eclipsed from view as a condition that can be changed: alienation, contradiction and negation of subjectivity appear as the external imposition of fate. Like the “music of the spheres,” this very omnipresence turns into an omniabsence by virtue of any lack of contrast. Consciousness sinks into unconsciousness and automatic response. Subjectivity, both in its relation to nature and the sciences and in its relation to man in society, becomes dissipated into separated conflicting structures existing within an external space that nowhere reveals subjectivity in its genuine mode as a creative and active process of transfor­mation. In the normalized world of the given, there is only the “cunning” of the structures to which there is no appeal, and with which there is no dialogue (i.e., a James Bond movie). Dialogue is reduced to a mere exchange of inert information or is replaced by manipulative tactics designed to bring about positive or negative (conformist or rebellious) compliance to a mythological structure.

One can therefore formulate the task of the revolutionary as the initiation of dialogue in its most profound sense and on all possible levels. The revolutionary is one whose subjectivity as an active agent sees the necessity of giving depth and scope to genuine action through its objective condition of appearing as interaction, intersubjectivity, dialectic, dialogue. The revolutionary must always attempt to overcome one’s continual tendency to simply react passively and one‑sidedly in the static and contradictory modalities of mere acceptance versus mere rejection, or the mechanical game of either conformity or destruction, of judging either true or false. A revolutionary transcends judgment as an end in itself and is concerned with transformation, conversion, salvation and resurrection in the deepest sense seeking neither to accept masks, nor to “rip” them off, but to dissolve them — recognizing that any one‑sided action is always a passive reaction to a given and never a single active state of immediate subjectivity in which all opposition is at once mutual, transformative and revolutionary. Freedom — the life of revolution — is then not a mere “choice” of paths or possibilities, each of which is, as a particular path, mediated and mutually conditioned by all the other paths. Freedom is the “pathless path,” the transcendence of being limited to any one product or path of experience by experiencing the mutuality of all mediations and identities, through an all‑embracing, open dialogue, as a singular self‑mediated activity or immediacy. It is experiencing oneself as self‑determined through the mutuality of all determinations. Freedom is then the power of immediacy which creates and continues to create mediations and paths, and not itself any one path or choice, which by compulsive “adherence” becomes a rigid response rather than a living force. Violence, “evil,” “bad faith,” “terror,” “anxiety,” or “falsity” is not an intrinsic property of any object or ego but rather an expression of the rigidification, fetishization and ossification of relation and the creative act. Consequently, it is precisely the de‑ossification of any relation which is hence automatically an expression of freedom and genuine consciousness, i.e., consciousness not alienated into self‑separation. Man is so frightened of freedom that he confuses it with “license” — which, ironically enough, is but a negative reaction to and hence expression of conformity, law and legal license. Freedom is beyond license in any sense of the word, all license being an ossification of relation.

Furthermore, a dialogical state of genuine intersubjectivity and inter­action between and among all forms of objectivity — in society and nature — is not a means to a revolution, but the revolution or end itself, i.e., the revolution of transformation as it is taking place. The point is to expand the depth and scope of this dialogue, to make it more and more visible on more and more dimensions, both within individuals, among them, and between individuals and their objective natural state. A revolution and genuine dialogue does not and cannot mean either a mere “confrontation” in which anger, violence (both against man and against nature) or alienated reaction-­mechanisms are displayed and dissipated (only to build up again) or a mere “liberal discussion” or “abstract contemplation” in which anger, violence, unintegrated need and alienated reactions are suppresed and reinforced. Dialogue and revolution mean a transformation and liberation of energy by dissolving the contradictory frictional oppositions which are draining creative energy into dissipated energy. It means a transformation of destructive frustration and anger into constructive passion and compassion. It means the appearance of a telos that is grounded and continually re‑grounded in the dialogue taking place and not in the projections, memories and myths generated through dialogue namely, the mediations, judgments, formulations, ideals and goals continually arising in awareness, and constantly serving as a potential threat to the dialogue and the subjecti­vity from which it emerges. Man continually generates an idealism of static and quasi‑static structures, patterns and descriptions about reality. The point is to utilize these as means and not to become trapped in them, converting yourself into the means and the structures into an end. So‑called “false” and inauthentic consciousness is simply the product of “true” or authentic consciousness, instead of being the process. “Evil,” rigidification and dissociation is but the “good” localized; falsity is but truth repeated and identified, and ugliness only appears when the beautiful is possessed and owned. Gramsci, more than any other Marxist in recent times, under­stood the dynamics of intersubjectivity, dialogue (e.g., his notion of workers’ councils), and the necessity to regard the “preparation” for revolution as inseparably connected with any particular dramatic act of revolution or power take‑over. Revolution and dialogue, like subjectivity, is not an isolated event (whose opposite is “evolution”), but rather a condition of presence. Revolution — as consciousness itself — degenerates when its transforming process is reduced to a packaged product to sell.

Now, precisely because a genuine intersubjective dialogue is the “end” and not itself an objectifiable means, subjectivity as the dynamic condition or field of any objective presence arises through such a dialogue. Alienation, contradiction and violence, then, are not seen as an externally imposed fate, but as issuing out of subjectivity and awareness as its product. One experiences contradiction as self‑contradiction and consequently rediscovers his own form of subjectivity as a power for creating good and evil. No motivation for changing contradiction and alienation can appear until this contradiction and alienation is experienced as self‑contradiction. Motivation will appear only when one can literally see how it is one’s own attitude that is “screwing” himself up (when one sees how he plays one part of his awareness against another through unconscious but socially validated conditioning). Until such self‑awareness is realized an individual will merely hold “the others” or “fate” responsible for what exists and simply react to the given (conforming or rebelling), but not act‑with the given, transforming it into a dynamic reality and being responsive to and with this state of dynamic creation. Force, as an external display of unintegrated energy, and inertia as an internal withdrawal of energy appear to the unaware as reactions to alienation. However, it is only the power of creativity which can express itself as an integrated mutuality of interacting forces and opposi­tions and which can be experienced as growth. To the degree to which a person is powerless and impotent, force (or inertia) appears to an alienated consciousness as a “way out.” The revolutionary “party,” or agent, cannot be a force acting on the masses (of inertia), but must be a power of interaction, revealing authentic consciousness to be the intersubjective state of dialogue — and consequently revealing a particular subjectivity to be simultaneously both the author (i.e., the authentic creator) of his own state of subjectively‑felt alienation, and a coauthor with the intersubjective state of existing alienation and contradiction. Unfortunately, any hypothesized, and therefore idealized pattern of revolution, lifted out of the historical immediacy of dynamic process as a product, which attempts to “combat” alienation and exploitation with the products of awareness and not with awareness itself, must itself degenerate into counterrevolution merely creating more alienation and contradiction. The world of alienation is a madhouse of commodities and products run wild — this includes material products, scientific products, ideal products and revolutionary products. Life is then merely a matter of automatic production and autistic consumption, public service and private compensation, with the producer but a product of his product and the image of an image.

Turning specifically to the revolution in the sciences, and the task of giving expression to a genuine dialectics of nature, one must carefully distinguish (not separate and thus produce more alienation) between the process of man’s interaction with nature, and the products of that process. The process is the immediate state of existing interactivity, in which neither observer nor observed exists as such (as imaged products or objects), but rather the state of observing in which both appear as interdependent sides of a singular activity. In this state, not only so‑called facts are the events or objects of the process, but likewise “definitions,” theories and intuitive‑emotional responses are likewise events and objects of the process. As previously discussed, such an interaction state between man as an ego‑body and nature as his contextual environment is subjectivity as a nonlinear field‑phenomenon expressing itself intersubjectively. In the actual state of direct relation with nature, the scientist does not first regard nature as an already given and passive object to be investigated, or himself as an already localized ego ready with fixed definitions and principles to “capture” the illusive object in image‑form. In the actual situation, man and nature mutually co‑confront each other. A dialogue of simultaneous action and reaction, “sponse” and “response” and therefore “co-response” is generated, and the language of this dialogue is the appearing patterns of interaction. Thus, perception and conception in the brain‑body complex of an individual result in patterns which are neither just images of the environment, nor just images of man’s reaction to the environment, but “reflections” of the man‑environment state of interaction now localized as a product and process relative to the one inseparable aspect of a mutual process. Consequently, any perturbation either within the body‑brain complex (by means of altered metabolism, drugs, meditation exercises, operations, etc.) or within the environmental object (altering its appearance, properties, composition) will result in a different perceptual‑conceptual interaction pattern, which is as “valid” as any other pattern (the so‑called normal state patterns), for it must not be forgotten that any state of the body‑brain is always a particular state of electronic‑chemical‑biological (socially conditioned) organization and, therefore, biased relative to that particular modality. The point is not to divide perception or conception into “real” (objective, lasting, permanent) and “imaginary” or “hallucinogenic” (subjective, passing, and the result of “distortions”). All perception and conception is dynamic and in a state of transformation; that is the nature of objective action. Objectivity is not permanency. It refers to the event‑process and structure which appears within any field of presence or subjectivity. It is precisely the subjective field of interaction, however, which expresses objective patterns and rhythms that have varying degrees of “permanency’’ and are therefore capable of action as “gestalts’’ or “frames of reference” for the more temporary ones. There are, however, no ultimate objectitiable patterns which themselves are not within a transformation process. Vice versa, that which appears “imaginary” and fleeting within any one state may be but the beginning of a patterned response that will become more and more “normal” and stabilized in time‑that is, as relatively established as any normal structure.

Alienation sets its when these internalized products called “normal” patterns of interaction are used as a framework or end to which the continually on‑going process of objective interaction is subordinated. All the various conservation principles, symmetry conditions, closed systems-analyses, invariant relations — the models and myths employed by the sciences — appear as reality, while the actual dynamics appear as myth. Nature then appears as a remote, given “stage” or a “cold objective reality” against which man must pit his power in order to wrest from her her secrets. Knowledge without wisdom is rape, both man and nature appearing as alienated structures without meaning. A revolution in the sciences means that scientific theories and technical approaches must be reviewed and recognized for what they are: moments and products of an immediate dialogue continually taking place (in varying tempos and rhythms) between man and nature (and taking place, by dialectic necessity, within each). Nature can then reemerge into view as the coauthor with man of the inter­active state of subjectivity mutually defining the objective forms or events of both. What remains to be investigated now, is the nature of the language that exists in this dialogue between nature and man. Once we know the language, we can formulate through that language of intersubjectivity a “dialectics of nature.”

Tran Duc Thao has recently given an excellent account of the origin of both man and language from the state of mutual interaction between what can be called “pre-man” and nature. Language, he points out, is not an expression of consciousness or “subjectivity,” but is this consciousness itself, which in turn is nothing but the form of natural interaction taking place. Pre‑man begins to evolve into man when the objective state of interaction between pre‑man and nature gives rise to socially validated “sign” behavior, i.e., to a process of socially recognized pointing and signifying among pre‑men expressing the emergence of a new state of objective activity. Instead of directly consuming food from nature as animals do, the appearance of mediating tools causes man’s center of attention to be gradually focused upon the tools themselves as instruments for production, consumption consequently appearing as a delayed goal or ideal. As a result, an inheritable culture of activity begins to emerge, together with an ideational process of goal‑formation expressing this activity. “Natural pre‑man” begins to also be “social‑man.” However, both the physical tool‑making process and the mental ideational process of goal formation are two sides of a singular state of man‑nature interaction in which language emerges as a unifying field between man as a signifier, pointer, or “goal maker,” and any object (nature, tools from nature, other men, himself) as that which is signified and pointed to in a goal‑oriented process. Language is thus not just a sign‑sign syntactics or semiotics expressing an “internal” state of consciousness about objective or “external” interaction, but is rather an immediate sign‑object dialectics in which any “unsigned” object or event complex in its state of immediate interaction, becomes signed, focused, identified and mediated relative to a specific field of presence. The sign itself is not an object (just as subjectivity is not a localized event) but rather expresses a particular type of self‑mediated object relation between man as an ego‑body and his environ­ment. Signification is thus a complex objective process expressing a state of objective interaction which, qua interaction, is both the state of intersubjec­tivity present, and the language process itself. The dynamics of language (and not its statics as a collection of terms) is thus automatically the dynamics of object‑interaction. However, just as subjectivity can become objectified, sign‑behavior can become reified and, as a result, a particular object (gesture, activity, sound, symbol) appears singled out as the sign for another object as the signified (productive of a “semantics” of sign behavior). Should the signification process, continually producing products of activity such as sounds, words, ideas, objects of attention, etc., then become obscured by the products themselves, the active state of generative subjectivity present becomes eclipsed, and man becomes alienated from his dynamic codetermining environment of nature and other individuals. Language in turn appears mystified either as an intuitive, mysterious manifestation of a hidden subjectivity or “intention” expressing an eternal and ideal Logos world of invariant forms (e.g., a mathematical world), or as a mechanism and behaviorism of objectivied products in external space‑time relation, void of any “intersubjective meaning.”

This “either‑or” condition of language appearing divided into abstract idealized formalism on the one hand and positivistic behaviorism on the other hand — language expressing either “mathematical‑logical truth” or “empirical‑factual truth” — is precisely the state of alienation characterizing the sciences today, preventing a genuine dialectics of nature from explicitly manifesting itself. Indeed, formalism is a form of behaviorism (and vice versa) in that both are different expressions of the phenomenology of subject‑objectivity being reified into identity‑structures whose only relation is external juxtaposition: genuine emergence or becoming is lacking. In order to revolutionize scientific activity, therefore, one must become “radical,” i.e., return to the root as the basis of scientific activity and discover how in fact it does function — as a process — cutting through the accumulation of myths called “empirical facts” and “abstract theories,” discovering that it is the scientist himself who is the source of these myths and the contradictory nature of these myths. The key phenomenon in the creative process of scientific praxis is the integral activity of “model building” which in science is the practical way the phenomenology of subject‑objectivity expresses itself.

Man as a scientist cannot start to “make observations” or “take measurements” in the world he is in without approaching it with a theory of observation or measurement, i.e., without a certain pragmatics or “model of nature” which functions as a gestalt or frame of reference which allows him to discriminate between that which is relevant and significant and that which is not. Directly in contact with nature, man is in a state of immediate and total involvement — all events near or remote, clear or confused, form a singular nonlinear field of presence. In order to focus out of this fabric of presence particular data or information, some notion of what is relevant or significant must already be present, for everything in its immediate state offers itself as a possibility of significance. In measuring the temperature of a gas, not only must a certain already standardized scale and measuring instrument be available, but likewise one must have a notion as to the interpretation that one will use in utilizing the measurements taken. Thus, it takes nature to measure nature (either one’s own natural biological equipment, or artificially produced instrumentation), which in turn implies that the nature used in measuring the nature present‑for‑observation has already been judged and categorized as functioning in a certain way. Otherwise, the nature used in measuring would not function as a tool but as part of the immediate natural complex happening.

There are two necessary assumptions that the scientist needs as part of his theory of measurement in order to even take down one piece of information. Both assumptions amount to a linearization and compart­mentalization of nature. The first consists in the assumed constancy or “reliability” of the measuring instrument itself, since any object‑complex of nature, being codetermined with the immediate context it is in — and the instrument is an object complex itself — changes its nature and characteris­tics whenever there is any kind of change within the context. Thus, a measuring rod initially calibrated to be of such and such a length under one set of conditions (i.e., during its production as a measuring rod) may or may not actually exhibit the same length under a second set of conditions — namely, the very first experiment it is used in. Pressure, temperature, moisture conditions, etc., can affect the length. The second assumption lies in what the object‑complex being measured by the instru­ment consists of. Thus, measuring a length or a temperature of a steel rod placed at a certain position is strictly speaking not only a measurement of the steel rod, but of the entire objective complex within which the steel rod is but one member. One has to decide or know in advance which contextual influences are relatively “ignorable.” If one takes one measurement of temperature when the steel rod is at point X, and another when the rod is at point Y, should the location he included in the data representing temper­ature? How many environmental conditions should be noted along with any one observation? The number possible is indefinite. Our information may only appear to be about the temperature of the rod. If this temperature is to be a referable quality, having therefore a quantitative measure, then one has to be sure that what is called the temperature of the rod in case X is the same kind of temperature in case Y, if case X and Y are to be regarded as but two instances of one kind of measurement. Thus, at point X, a strong electro‑magnetic field might be present, while at point Y, a weak one, and consequently, the temperature measured at point X may not be just the temperature of the rod, but the temperature of the rod in a strong electro­magnetic field, while the temperature at point Y may be the temperature of a different complex, the rod in a weak electro‑magnetic field. Consequently, any equation containing the temperature of the rod is not only an equation about the rod as such, but about the rod in its various contextual states. If we were to generalize or abstract the context from the rod and assume that the data relations obtained speak only about the properties of a rod, then one would be assuming that the objective‑complex measured can be delimited to the rod itself, and that the environmental influences are essentially irrelevant and non‑significant. Even repeating the same measurement at the same place actually amounts to a shift of context, for new contextual influences could have intervened.

The point is simple. Any measurement is actually a measurement of the interaction between an instrument and its immediate object, and the interaction between the instrument‑object complex and the total environment it functions in. Therefore, before one can lift out any one piece of information, one has to already have a gestalt in mind as to what is relatively constant and ignorable and what is variable and significant. This, however, implies that man as an observer of nature must approach nature as already nature-conditioned, expressing empirical idealizations accumulated through his history as a natural-complex within nature. Indeed, man as a body is the primordial measure of things in nature, and any tool he is sensitive to becomes an extension of his interaction with nature. This means that man does not approach nature as an abstract subjectivity in possession of ready-made (non-natural) formal rules of manipulation (a “mathematics”) which he then utilizes to give structural expression to a barrage of isolated sense-data coming from nature. Rather, man, as an integral part of nature, becomes sensitive to objective rhythms and patterns that flow between and within the man-nature complex — patterns and rhythms which then become idealized and linearized into formal structures and principles (such as number, spacetime, the four essences of earth, water, air, and fire) — if these structures are sufficiently repeatable and hence recognizable as part of the objective state of interaction that is present, at least for a certain time. This formalization is the first primitive “model’’ of nature made by man as nature, within nature. With time, these empirical idealizations become more and more refined. Newton’s three laws of motion are a beautiful example of such a model. However, at no point can one say that these empirical idealizations are simply abstract logical idealizations or empirical facts. They represent a functioning image of man-in-nature that is reflective of a certain state of inter-communication between man and nature. According to Charles Peirce’s triadic philosophy, logical idealization (“firstnesss”) follows from simple “subjective’' deduction; empirical generalization (“secondness”) follows from simple “objective” induction; but empirical idealization (“thirdness”) comes from the integral and creative subject-object acts of abduction — abduction being a process by which men can grasp ideal and universal relations within and through concrete particulars. Only through such empirical idealizations does one learn the language of nature and the logic of its relations. However, such subject‑object communication is only possible if we recognize that any experience is both subjective and objective, i.e., reflective of a non‑localized field of presence and localizing events, making each experience universal and concrete, i.e., a concrete universal.

With growth of specialization, and the refinement of instrumentation, man makes more and more diverse measurements of the interactive man‑nature complex while at the same time accumulating a history of theoretical models. This, then, entails the development of an explicit feedback dialogue between man and nature which takes the following form. Man, in conscious possession of a particular complex of patterns and rhythms which have emerged out of a state of interaction with nature and been linearized and formalized into mathematically expressible relations, confronts nature (or rather nature as man‑in‑nature), with its own pattern as a refined gestalt or frame of reference which he then uses as a means of taking significant measurements, i.e., measurements that have relevance to the pattern that has already emerged. These measurements in turn reveal additional patterns which are fed back into the observing pattern to form a still more complex pattern — a new total pattern or gestalt within which both the previously accepted patterns and newly generated ones become moments.

Thus, a genuine dialectics of nature develops from the initial nonlinear and immediate state of pre‑reflective patterns of objective interaction. In the terminology developed to express dialectical logic, any initial immediacy or “element” such as this state is referred to as e. This initial state of totality or immediately appearing patterns and rhythms of man within nature, e, becomes self‑negated into a new gestalt of patterns or totality, e', in which the previous immediacy becomes mediated into organized observing and self‑integrated structures, +e, in opposition to or confrontation with other observed patterns or structures as yet unintegrated, ‑e, such that both become preserved but transformed as mutual moments, +‑e, of a higher order pattern which is now capable of being immediately present as a new totality, e' ready for further states of self determination, expressing the dynamics of a continual process of “e-ing”: e, e', e'', e''', or a dialectical self‑relational expansion. However, because of the nonlinear nature of the “e‑ing” process, the results or linear products of any particular stage of immediacy cannot be predicted or determined as necessarily “progressive’’ or “regressive.” A dialectical process cannot be a “progress theory” with linearized “iron laws” of necessity — any such determination being a “final judgment” standing outside the historical immediacy of existence. The objective state of man in nature is always an immediate totality of patterns such e, e', or e'' within which two submoments continually emerge and reintegrate back into that totality, transforming it — these submonents being the +e observing patterns and ‑e observed patterns. Man, in effect, is objectivity or nature qua observing pattern, interacting with nature qua observed pattern to express, finally, man as nature or objectivity in a continual state of self‑observation and self‑reflection. Thus, nature comes to know itself through man and the dialectics of nature is the dynamics of nature in a state of self‑reflection, self‑observation and self‑relation through man who is this “self-observer” as its active agent. Nature, as man, has explicated its intrinsic state of subjectivity, causing it to appear as concrete subjectivity. Thus, it is not only that man is in “dialogue” with nature, but that — just as subjectivity is objectivity in its interactive state — man is actually nature itself in a state of self‑relatedness. What you are observing as “nature” is therefore equally well you in a state of self‑relation, just as you are a form of nature in a state of self‑relation. Self‑relation, as a result, manifests itself through an elaborate dialectics of inseparable distinctions in which each distinction of objectivity (and this includes you as an ego‑body or any other event‑complex) becomes a function of itself (exhibits self‑relation) only to the degree to which it becomes a function of its contextual relatedness and vice versa. The distinctness of self‑relation or uniqueness increases with the interrelatedness or inseparability of universality, which is but a way of saying that the more “properties” or defining characteristics any distinction has, the more it expresses a complexity of relations. Thus, there is no “thing-in-itself” in any way whatsoever. The more an element is remote in its state of relation, the less that element exhibits any definable characteris­tics, such that in the “limit,” any isolated fact or state would be void of any properties whatsoever, i.e., it wouldn’t exist. Conversely, therefore, it is precisely the development or intensification of the interactive state of objectivity — its subjectivity — which illustrates the function of subjectivity and its form as consciousness in the shape of man. The greater the depths and scope of genuine interdependency and dialogue, the greater the functional integrity (self‑identity and uniqueness) of all its mutually conditioned elements. The greatest uniqueness comes only through the greatest universality and vice versa. This holds for all levels of objectivity, including the human and natural dimensions. The development of subjectivity through human awareness will only achieve richer states of integrity to the degree to which that subjectivity is capable of living as a functioning element within the whole of the universe.

 For Section 3 - click here