Creativity · Reality

Life On Earth.

Life is everywhere, it is the metaphor for our earth. It is there that things might live. I want to take a generalized look at the various kinds of life that exist on earth, and take a rational look at what this implies about these forms of life.

In the world around us, the simplest class of life that we can see is the plant. I will leave aside the microscopic organisms as we cannot see them; indeed, I have dealt with these on my private blog, for the misunderstandings about them are legion and it takes some seriously clear thinking to wade through the various illusions.

The plant is an organism that grows. It doesn’t do much else than just get bigger. It does so by growing leaves, and balancing this are its roots. The normal pattern of roots is a chaotic spreading mass; the unusual root is one that has form. The plant we see has, in the first part of its life, leaves and a stem. Once it has attained a certain maturity, it flowers and sets seed. Most plants die after they have done so; some plants live through the winter before they attain this maturity. Whatever, the plant will remain in the same place that it grew as a seed. That is, unless something unnatural happens in the meantime, like me transplanting the poor innocent thing!

Plants do not move: once they are rooted, that’s it. Either they survive or they do not. All they need do is grow, and they will do so if the conditions they find themselves in support them. There is nothing the plant can do about this, and there is no need for a plant to do anything else. There are seeds enough for the right plant to grow in the right place.

The animal is distinct from the plant in that it has muscles and legs that mean it can run around. Animals share plant like activities in that they too grow; however there is more to the way in which an animal grows in that they need to eat. An animal has a digestive system in their abdomen, a plant does not. What many scientists disregard is the fact that animals are driven by their instincts. Many honest scientists think that animals are conscious; however it’s relatively easy to disprove this. Just try being a cat for fifteen minutes and see what it’s like. Lick yourself, limit yourself to miaouwing and give yourself the odd scratch. Your hands are only feet and can be used only as such; you can only walk on four feet and you will only be able to eat with your mouth and your tongue. Then do a pee in the cat litter in front of the family.

Oh, and if you want anything, all you can do is miaouw. You could hiss and wag your tail in disapproval, but there really is very little else that a cat can do to converse in the way a human will.

Every possible consideration in the life of a cat is covered by its instincts. Eating comes first, and a wild cat doesn’t get the kind of sleep we expect. It’s tiring and it’s tough – and often very hungry. There’s nothing the cat can do about it! It’s how they’re made, as it were. Cats don’t get choices in their lives: if there’s a mouse, it’s food. If there’s a female on heat, there’s nothing the male cat can do but deal with the situation that overwhelms its senses.

And yes, animals have senses. They can only react to these senses in the way their instincts allow them, though.

If a cat meets another, it will become territorial and it will establish its authority over the other animal through brute strength. It either wins or loses; there is no half way with an animal, there is no need.

There is and can be no premediation in the world of the animal, they simply aren’t made that way.

They have no need for premeditation in the way a plant has no need for the ability to sense the world around it. Everything the animal does is laid out for it in the way its body works; everything the plant does by way of growth lies within it.

The human being grows, and the human has senses; these unite the human with the two other living realms. Yet, as discussed in my post “The Unthinking Biochemist,” humans are more than just the product of their metabolism in the way an animal is. I cited the example of two biochemists, one of whom was turned on by a blonde and the other not. In the world of the animal, there would be no such choice. If the female was on heat, well, we know the rest, don’t we? … kittens.

Humans get to choose, where animals do not. Indeed, the greatest thing a human can do is to choose to listen. This is impossible in the world of the animal, where all stimuli lead to a reaction of some sort. The human can sit down and listen to someone else and consider what they have to say. The person speaking might be right or wrong, that is of no consequence; the fact is that a human can sit down and listen.

Animals can be told to sit down and wait; that is very different from actively listening, actively considering what the other has to say.

Indeed, it’s true that if a human cannot sit down and listen to what others say, then the part of that person that cannot is acting in the way an animal will. There are no two ways about this: the highest thing a human can strive for is to listen to others.

Why?

Because the animals cannot. Humans who demand superiority over others for no reason other than the power of their muscles has renounced their ability to think and have, instead, enrobed themselves in the skin of an animal. One might state that such behaviour is actually an illness, for all illnesses leave a human incapable of acting in a healthy manner.

The most healthy of which is the ability to listen and discern.

And yes, there are more things that a human can do; the point is that all of these are dependent on the human ability to listen and consider what has been said in all equanimity.

Anything else is to fall away from this. Anything else will be the result of having turned away from what a human should be doing – and having done so, will have taken the path to illness in some form or other. No wonder that we have so many Alzheimer’s patients today.

Those who are seriously ill will find that they are no longer able to move, and must stay in bed. For all their ability to act as a human might, they are rooted to the spot in the way a plant is. As health returns, so does their more animal ability to walk around. If through this, they have maintained their ability to listen and consider, they will have shown that the illness was temporary.

It is possible in this way to determine the level of consciousness in the human. If they can sit and listen, they have the seed for full consciousness. If all they can do is speak without listening, then a critical part of their consciousness lies in the unconscious realm that we share with the animals. If they lie in their bed asleep, then they are like plants for there is no sense and no reaction.

And yes, I go to sleep too. These are things that are part of our lives; that is not the point. We all have to eat, digest and go to the toilet – that we share with the animals.

The point is that humans can do a great deal more than the animals. Only humans can’t do this if they simply sit down and do as they please: we have to strive to attain true humanhood.

The problem is that you can’t prove this…

… the problem with proof is that you don’t have to strive to attain it, do you?

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12 thoughts on “Life On Earth.

  1. ‘The human can sit down and listen to someone else and consider what they have to say. The person speaking might be right or wrong, that is of no consequence; the fact is that a human can sit down and listen.’
    Simone Weil thought that one of the greatest gifts one can give to those who are suffering is one’s complete and undivided attention. Chad Varah found this out in a practical way when he founded the Samaritans. Some people imagine that The Samaritans is a suicide prevention service, but that is a complete misunderstanding. Over the years The Samaritans gained two important insights.
    1. It is impossible, without actual physical restraint, to prevent someone who is determined to kill themselves from achieving it.
    2. Many people who are suicidal and/or despairing find they can continue in life after someone has given them their undivided and non-judgemental attention, after someone has listened to them. Chad Varah’s great achievement was that he saw how that could be done by volunteers using a telephone service.
    From my own experience I know that compassionate listening is a great blessing.

    I find your last comment puzzling. I would have thought that, for example, Einstein strove greatly to prove his theory of relativity.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thankyou for your comment. Your quote from Simone Weil would be as true for anyone. Mind you, it’s as likely that only someone who was suffering would be open enough to appreciate what it is to be listened to!

      In point of fact, one of my regular commenters died recently; it was a very interesting experience to speak with him. The emphasis on ‘with’ 😉

      Now you say, “Einstein strove greatly to prove his theory of relativity” There is an element to striving which seeks the unknown. The problem for Einstein was that he was working entirely within the material world, indeed he worked within that gossamer thin sliver of the material world that can be confined by number – that is to say, that which is dead. Whilst Einstein was determined, hard working and resourceful, what he did not do was to question the fundamental issues that underpinned his initial concepts. To do this is to strive in the fullest sense of the word.

      I have an upcoming and as yet unwritten post about Bertrand Russel’s ‘Principia Mathematica’ which looks at his statement (which, if memory serves me correctly, is on page 256) that 1+1=2. I am sure that in your long years as a teacher you will have taught this in one way or another to many children – even if your specialty is not mathematics. One of the questions I raise in my series ‘Beyond Newton’ is to put the question: when does 1+1=2?

      … And when does it not.

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  2. When I taught Maths it was always in the context of what can be seen and experienced. “5 little ducks went swimming one day, over the hill and far away, Mother Duck said,’quack,quack,quack,quack,** but only 4 little ducks came back”. Then 4 went and 3 came back, then 3 went and 2 came back. etc.
    Starting with the whole, in this case the family of 5 little ducks and subtracting 1 each time.
    Of course one can do this with one’s fingers. At the end they all come back and everyone was happy, and we could wiggle all our fingers joyfully.
    We would always use the same or comparable units when counting, i.e, ‘Show me 1 finger, show me two fingers,… one pebble, two pebbles,… 1 boy, two boys,.. 1 child, two children, etc. And this is an important feature for the context in which we use maths. We don’t usually add pins and clouds together. This brings us to the meaning of the plus sign.
    Most people don’t reflect on this aspect, that the context in which the ‘+’, or ‘plus’ , or ‘add’ takes place gives meaning to it. One can ask, ‘what does “add” mean?’ Some mathematicians refer to adding as ‘totalising’.
    Off hand the only case I can think of that 1+1 does not equal 2 would be something like adding one drop of water to another one. The consequence of ‘adding’ one drop of water to another will be one.

    I have come to think that number only has meaning in the sense perceptible world, specifically in the context of human activity. There are no archetypes of numbers, whereas there are archetypes of geometric forms and living beings.

    “…that gossamer thin sliver of the material world that can be confined by number – that is to say, that which is dead.”

    Are crystals dead? They have a kind of mathematical precision not found in other realms of nature.

    “Whilst Einstein was determined, hard working and resourceful, what he did not do was to question the fundamental issues that underpinned his initial concepts.”
    I find this surprising. My understanding has always been that that is where Einstein’s greatness lay, – that he questioned fundamental assumptions about the nature of time, space, gravity, light and energy. I am wondering what it is you are referring to.

    ** It has to be four quacks to fit the rhythm.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Firstly to thank you for the lovely rhyme, it really made my evening. And the thought about water, which is one aspect I’d not considered.

      Now, I have to contend with what you say here, “There are no archetypes of numbers, whereas there are archetypes of geometric forms and living beings”. Whilst you are correct that there are no archetypes for a number, there is an archetype for ‘twoness’ or ‘threeness’. Dualities have qualities that trinities do not, and vice versa. The two of them are as distinct as a trout is from a salmon.

      As to crystals, something that is alive will have the ability to reproduce itself in some way. A crystal is dead because it has no life; that was partly what this post was all about. What is life and what makes something alive. The other area that so many people stumble on is the nature of consciousness and sentience… it’s not hard to reason through but the implications are usually too great for most people to accept.

      The most important thing to note with Einstein, incomparably bright as he might have been – and I know someone who is easily as bright as he was – he couldn’t distinguish between the living and the dead. You know that no two snowflakes are ever the same… how then can you say there are two snowflakes?

      It’s more of a philosophical question, really, but the point still remains. Number in this respect is an abstraction because in the reality of living nature that surrounds us and that we are both part of and dependent on, nothing EVER happens twice.

      When Einstein came up with his e=mc2 the energy is measurable, the mass is measurable and the speed of light is measurable. All these things are measurable in numerical terms. Yet in nature, number only ever exists in its archetypal form, dualities, trinities. Every animal has four legs (or at least, should have); yet no two of those animals are ever identical. Einstein could have two metres, because metres are something that only exist in the mind of man (c, being the speed of light, is measured in metres per second). In short, he, as so many other scientists have painted a veil over the realities of what they were trying to explain.

      The qualities of the forces he was trying to describe have been put to one side; yet it is those very qualities that they exhibit on earth. These forces in nature are not constrained in the way they are in the scientist’s laboratory. They are untamed and wild, and should be treated with respect – nay, veneration. When you have penetrated the veil that obscures them, you too will be repelled at the horrors Einstein never witnessed. Never even came close to dreaming of.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “… the problem with proof is that you don’t have to strive to attain it, do you?”

    I’ve thought about this remark for several days, and still can’t understand it. Does “attaining” a proof mean constructing one, that really explains, or floods with light, what you are trying to prove? My experience is that proving things, even by hook or crook or brute-force, involves a lot of strife. (With yourself: very often you are trying to prove something false.) A short, simple, beautiful proof, with a correctly stated theorem) that floods light is incredibly difficult, strenuous, and frustrating. (But when you see one, you think: “why didn’t I think of that?”)

    I have to wonder whether you know what you are talking about. A hint?

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    1. Thankyou for your comment. Firstly, you seem attached to the concept of proof. You mention how difficult it can be to prove things, and on account of the difficulty it involves to prove something, you assume that this involves striving. Think of it this way: striving in this way is to walk along the same path up the hill that you always have done, only each time you ascend the hill, the weather is different so you see different things. Ascending the hill is hard work, and therefore it is striving.

      Indeed you go on to say, “A short, simple, beautiful proof, with a correctly stated theorem” – and all you are saying is that you are able to conceive of the theorem.

      To someone who hasn’t really understood my posts on the subconscious, it’s understandable that you should question my abilities to think. After all, you haven’t been able to follow my reasoning, and because it confuses you, I have to be wrong. This is a hint to you that you brush up on your own abilities to think: that is to say, you strive in more ways than just walking up the same hill path that you have always trodden.

      So let’s have some fun, shall we? Can you prove the colour blue?

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      1. Thank you for your reply. You’re quite right I’m very interested in the concept of proof — perhaps I’m “attached” to it. I’m most familiar it in mathematics, where it has two aspects. One is formal, in the sense that a computer can check that the thing is properly constructed, with respect to some rules; the other has to do with what use this properly constructed thing can be reliably put, as in a computation. Otherwise it may as well be a pattern for wallpaper, or something one contemplates rather than uses.

        Proofs outside mathematics (in science, or philosophy) are very mysterious. Sometimes an idea seems conclusive, or blindingly obvious, and the next day unintelligible. I’m pretty sure proof-conditions (maybe refutation-condition too) and intelligibility are closely connected.

        I’ve never seen, knowingly, your posts on the subconscious. I’d be very grateful if you’d reply with some pointers to a few.

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      2. Thankyou for your response, I’ve been waiting for it with interest. I want to say that I am a trained mathematician and scientist and my father was a professor (geology and geophysics – indeed, his PhD in the early 50s kicked off geophysics). Now, your “computer proof” is more of a “proof by exhaustion” – which, rather than being proof is more of a “I can’t think of anything else to try.” The algebraic proofs are by their nature limited to things one can measure. It is noteworthy that algebra came through the Arabs, as the Crusaders returned from the Holy Land. They brought the idea of the mattress too, so it wasn’t a wasted journey. Algebra, however requires thinking that is material – I discussed this in my post “Beyond Length times Breadth.” (Click here)

        Geometrical proofs are rather different, especially if you look back to the kind of thinking Euclid and his pals used in order to establish the essential geometrical proofs like all the corners of a triangle are always a straight line. Note that in this proof, which is entirely conceptual, there is no mention of number. We know that a triangle has three sides and three corners, but the proof relies on thinking that steps puts the concept of the number three to one side.

        Are you following me?

        The kind of proof that Euclid used was entirely imaginative, yet worked on the foundations of material reality. That is to say, he didn’t dally with fantasies. His proofs are simple, they are elegant and they are obvious. The one thing they are not is to be unintelligible the next day! A circle is a circle and always will be, and both you and I know that, whatever else it might be, it is perfectly round. Don’t get distracted with the material argument that we can never make a perfect circle, the concept of the circle is perfect.

        As to the business of the subconscious, had you taken a moment’s time to look at the menu at the top of the page, there is a heading entitled ‘Our Subconscious’. I could say a few things about the kind of people who like proof, but I will hold my tongue and instead, give you a link to what is perhaps my entry post to the subject: “Coming Clean On The Subconscious.” The notes to this link to posts relevant to my thinking.

        I will state that there is and can be no proof for the subconscious. Proof implies we are conscious of something, and acceptance of that proof implies that the people who accept that proof agree about the assumptions that it rests on. We cannot be conscious of our subconscious, ergo we cannot prove it. That does not mean we cannot reason it through, which is what I have attempted to do in the post linked to.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Which begs the question as how and why in today’s world, despite all the technological progress it has become harder for there to be persons who go “inwards” in the deep seas within, and come out with gems of self Realization. Worthier than gold. That which can’t die…

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      2. Technology has arisen because people do not want to deal with their inner selves. Everything to do with technology is external, entertaining and is there to do something for the user – which means the user doesn’t have to do it.

        If you are to go inside yourself, that implies that you are ready and willing to do this, and technology as such can be forgotten as it serves no purpose in this task.

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