-- / --
The following Declaration is inspired by the remarkable London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism (2009) approved at the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA). That initiative has been successfully followed by the articulation of a clarification of the nature of antisemitism by the European Commission (Combating Antisemitism, 6 July 2018) explicitly noting the legally non-binding working definition of antisemitism adopted unanimously by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (May 2016). The clarification takes the form of a Resolution on Combating Antisemitism, as adopted by the European Parliament (1 June 2017).
The question is currently the focus of considerable controversy regarding antisemitism within the UK Labour Party, as variously noted (Labour MPs back antisemitism measures rejected by Corbyn, The Guardian, 10 May 2018; Labour MP labels Corbyn an 'antisemite' over party's refusal to drop code, The Guardian, 17 July 2018; Jeremy Corbyn's anti-Semitism problem, The Economist, 31 March 2018; How should antisemitism be defined? The Guardian, 27 July 2018; Yes, Jews are angry -- because Labour hasn't listened or shown any empathy, The Guardian, 27 July 2018).
The approach taken in the following proposal is to explore anti-semitism as a particularly obvious instance of other tragic forms of discriminatory dynamics within society. This follows from an earlier consideration of the need to enlarge the perspective, rather than focus narrowly on specific instances to the convenient exclusion of others -- whether more sensitive or less sensitive (Guidelines for Critical Dialogue between Worldviews: as exemplified by the need for non-antisemitic dialogue with Israelis? 2006). That notably included discussion of isomorphs of the Israeli case: challenging parallels and distinctions -- specifically with regard to: religions, academic disciplines, political ideology, nationalism and ethnic culture, aesthetics, physically characterized social groups, social status and behavioural skills, and lifestyle preferences.
The method adopted here is to use the Declaration on Combating Antisemitism as a template within which "anti-semitism" and its variants are then replaced by "anti-otherness", with minimal adjustment to the original text of some 30 articles in order to achieve generality, as with the reference to the World Conference against Racism (Durban, 2001) in Article 6.
Many forms of discrimination have been anticipated in 30 articles of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The form of the declaration focusing on anti-semitism offers the opportunity to sharpen the focus on forms of discrimination anticipated, or neglected, therein. In a previous exercise -- to sharpen that focus -- the articles of that human rights declaration were used as a form of template to generate 3 additional sets of 30 rights (Universal Declaration of the Rights of Human Organization: an experimental extension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1971). In addition to the original set, focused on the individual, the three additional sets framed the following sets of rights:
Also of relevance to the argument here, further use of the template method was made to provide a generic frame for the strategic issues implied by rights and their infringement (Towards a Generic Global Issue Statement: evoking an instructive pattern of unquestionable responses, 2009). The text used for that template was the controversial statement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran on the occasion of the UN Durban Review Conference on Racism and Racial Discrimination in 2009, as presented separately (Towards a Generic Global Issue Statement: Template, 2009).
Readily to be described as a Holocaust instigated by humanity against nature, the newly reported massive extinction of species -- termed the Holocene extinction (or the Anthropocene extinction) -- now makes it appropriate to explore more systematically a set of rights of animals using a similar methodology. Such articulations have been variously proposed in the past (Universal Declaration of Animal Rights, 1978; Universal Charter of the Rights of Other Species, 2000; Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, 2005; Declaration of Animal Rights, 2011).
With respect to the Holocene extinction of species, the new report notes:
When public mention is made of the extinction crisis, it usually focuses on a few animal species (hundreds out of millions) known to have gone extinct, and projecting many more extinctions in the future. But a glance at our maps presents a much more realistic picture: they suggest that as much as 50% of the number of animal individuals that once shared Earth with us are already gone, as are billions of populations. Furthermore, our analysis is conservative, given the increasing trajectories of the drivers of extinction and their synergistic effects. (Gerardo Ceballos, et al, Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 25 July 2017)
A commentary on that report notes:
Nearly half of the 177 mammal species surveyed lost more than 80% of their distribution between 1900 and 2015. The scientists conclude: The resulting biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences. Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe... 50% of individual animals have been lost since 1970 (Earth's sixth mass extinction event under way, scientists warn, The Guardian, 10 July 2017)
Given the extensive media interest and speculation regarding the possible arrival of extraterrestrials, a strong case can be made for anticipating the forms of discrimination that they may evoke or impose -- as variously explored in fiction and otherwise (Robert A. Freitas Jr., The Legal Rights of Extraterrestrials, Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact 97, 1977, April, pp. 54-67; Writing Guidelines for Future Occupation of Earth by Extraterrestrials, 2010). The issue has been highlighted in the controversies evoked by the science fiction movie Avatar (2009). Of some relevance, it might be provocatively asked whether many on Earth have now been effectively framed as "extras" in a terrestrial tragedy -- readily the subject of collateral damage?
Potentially less hypothetical are the issues of discrimination -- already debated -- which may be evoked by humanoid robots now anticipated to be a major feature of society in the decades to come (Robot rights violate human rights, experts warn EU, Euronews, 13 April 2018; The Rights of Robots: technology, culture and law in the 21st Century, Metafuture; Europe warned granting robots legal status would breach human rights, The Telegraph, 13 April 2018). With the increasing focus on superior forms of artificial intelligence, of some relevance it might also be provocatively asked whether it is average human intelligence which is in process of being demeaned as "artificial"?
The concern here is to avoid the attention currently given to anti-semitism being used as a device for full-specturm dominance of discrimatory discourse when other forms of discrimination can clarify the more fundamental issue of anti-otherness. The possibilities for premature conclusion are evident in concern raised by Shedlon Richman (Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism: the Invidious Conflation, CounterPunch, 4 Stpeber 2018) regarding the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act now before the Congres of the USA, This is matched by the focus of the crisis within the UK Labour Party leading to its recent formal acceptance of the working definition of anti-semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (Labour adopts IHRA antisemitism definition in full, The Guardian, 4 September 2018). These developments inhibit any focus on the more fundamental issue of anti-otherness in general.
Obvious examples are now polarizing global society to different degrees -- and often uncontrollably. The approach to their identification was through culling the index of entries in Wikipedia containing "anti"; it is to these entries that links are mainly provided below. As an articulation of forms of discrimination, note the Wikipedia checklist: List of anti-discrimination acts. The following list is merely indicative, given that others forms of "antipathy" of concern to some constituencies may be implied by terms which do not include the prefix "anti" -- for whatever reason. These are not include below. Wikipedia entries may include redirects from terms containing "anti-" to entries without that prefix.
The forms of "anti" may be tentatively clustered as follows (recognizing that more detailed articulations could offer greater insight):
The method used notably failed to identify forms of anti-otherness associated with indigenous peoples and what they hold sacred -- variously disrespected (anti-native, anti-ancestor?) (Native Burials: human rights and sacred bones, Cultural Survival, March 2000). Of similar relevance is the opposition to recognition of the sacredness of geographical features (New Zealand gives Mount Taranaki same legal rights as a person, The Guardian, 22 December 2017; Elf rock restored after its removal wreaks havoc on Icelandic town, Iceland Monitor, 1 September 2016).
However, with respect to cultural traditions, the method did identify the widespread efforts to combat facial coverage ("anti-masking") -- with its complex symbolic implications discussed separately (Facism as Superficial Intercultural Extremism: burkha, toplessness, sunglasses, beards, and flu masks, 2009). The issue is notably rendered more complex by security issues and the requirements of facial recognition technology.
An intriguig challenge to this approach to "anti-otherness" is suggested by the worldwide preoccupation with "likes" in an online environment -- pioneered by Facebook. Whether it is a new manifestation of otherness which is "liked", or the explicit deprecation of some form of otherness which is itself "liked", missing is a full appreciation of what is implicitly "disliked" -- since this option is far less frequently enabled by online applications. (As indicated above, Wikipedia redirects searches for the "dislike button" to the "like button").
The following draft could have been articulated using the term "anti-alterity", for which there is some precedent, although relatively obscure. However preference was given to "anti-otherness" given that it is readily comprehensible. The commentary which follows uses a plural form, "othernesses" which is however more cumbersome than "alterities".
We, Representatives of our respective Parliaments from across the world, convening for the founding Conference and Summit of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-otherness, draw the democratic world's attention to the resurgence of anti-otherness as a potent force in politics, international affairs and society.
We note the dramatic increase in recorded anti-otherness hate crimes and attacks targeting persons and property of the collectivities of Others, and their beliefs, educational and communal institutions.
We are alarmed at the resurrection of the old language of prejudice and its modern manifestations - in rhetoric and political action - against Others, their beliefs and practice and the Collectivity of Others.
We are alarmed by Government - backed anti-otherness in general, and state -- backed genocidal anti-otherness, in particular.
We, as Parliamentarians, affirm our commitment to a comprehensive programme of action to meet this challenge.
We call upon national governments, parliaments, international institutions, political and civic leaders, NGOs, and civil society to affirm democratic and human values, build societies based on respect and citizenship and combat any manifestations of anti-otherness and discrimination.
We today resolve that;Challenging anti-otherness
Non-legally binding working definition of anti-otherness
|Anti-otherness is a certain perception of others, which may be expressed as hatred toward others. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-otheness are directed toward other or non-other individuals and/or their property, toward other community institutions and religious facilities.|
Contemporary examples of anti-otherness in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the other spheres could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
|Unfortunately these examples do not constitute an indication of how appropriately and legitimately it may be possible to criticize whatever is perceived as otherness -- as in the case of the anti-semitism from which they were derived|
Anti-otherness: As indicated, the above set of items identified from Wikipedia is necessarily incomplete but has the advantage of framing any process of identifying additional items. In the quest for greater insight into the potential systemic meaning of "anti-otherness", several comments are appropriate:
In addition to those of Wikipedia, these databases can then be seen as identifying the sets of conditions opposing, undermining or challenging the prevailing condition of a constituency -- standing "against" that perspective in some way and therefore potentially evoking an "anti" reaction.
The situation is however more complex in that, typically, a problem for one constituency may well be perceived otherwise by another constituency. A strategy advocated or instigated by one constituency to remedy a problematic condition may itself be perceived as problematic by another constituency.
These considerations help to frame the question as to whether there are any conditions which can be universally framed as unquestionably problematic ("bad", "evil", etc), and whether there are strategies which are necessrily to be framed as universally appropriate ("good"). The question is usefully highlighted by the relation between the religions, and notably between the Abrahmic religions -- each perceiving itself to be inherently "good", with the others as inherently "evil". That dynamic is also evident within each of those religions in relation to their various "internal" schisms. It is obviously evident in the contrasting perspectives of "science" and "religion".
Which otherness is then to be considered fundamentally "unacceptable" (by whom?) given the diversity valued in a complex psychosocial ecosystem? Expressed otherwise, which "anti-otherness" is to be considered unquestionable?
Anti-alterity: Little use is generally made of "otherness", despite the challenges it evokes in being something different -- and the extreme suffering which this perception may engender. There is therefore a case for noting the framing offered by "alterity", as summarized by Wikipedia:
Alterity is a philosophical and anthropological term meaning "otherness", that is, the "other of two"... It is also increasingly being used in media to express something other than "sameness," an imitation compared to the original... Alterity is an encounter with "the other." This "other"e; is not like any other worldly object or force. The perceiving subject (I myself) sees that another human being is "like me."e; They act like I do, appear to be in control of their conscious life, just like me...The "other"e; takes me out of myself and creates new understanding, that is, alterity. Philosophically, the life of the other functions symbolically. It is in our encounter with this other life that generates the contrasts at the foundations of new consciousness... In such exchanges we are not lost, but rather the "proper self,"e; one's subjectivity, scrubbed and brightly lit, becomes stained and unsure by a renewed understanding from a nonoriginal origin. Ego is still there; we do not disappear, but boundaries are less well defined. The self is opened to new experiences, and the "affair"e; of the other is made available.
Notable authors consistent with this pespective from different extremes include Martin Buber (I and Thou, 1937), Emmanuel Levinas (Alterity and Transcendence, 1970) and Gayatari Chakravorti Spivak (Who Claims Alterity, Art Theory, 1989). The latter usefully challenges "comfortable" understandings of otherness, most notably in terms of the challenge for women and dubious post-colonialism:
[which produce] a comfortable 'other' for transnational postmodernity, 'ground-level activity,' 'emergent discourses.' The radical critic can turn her attention on this hyperreal Third World to find, in the name of an alternative history, an arrested space that reproaches postmodernity. In fact, most postcolonial areas have a class-specific access to the society of information-command telematics inscribed by microelectronic transnationalism. And indeed, the discourse of cultural specificity and difference, packaged for transnational consumption along the lines sketched above, is often deployed by this specific class. What is dissimulated by this broad-stroke picture is the tremendous complexity of postcolonial space, especially womanspace.
Seemingly it is discoure relating to colonialism that is most characteistic of commentary on anti-alterity. For Ali A. Mazrui (The Re-Invention of Africa: Edward Said, V. Y. Mudimbe, and beyond, Research in African Literatures, 36, 2005, 3, pp. 68-82):
Edward W. Said and V. Y. Mudimbe are both whistleblowers against ideologies of Otherness, which Mudimbe calls "alterity" and Said has made famous as "Orientalism".... In the final analysis, the essay reaffirms that Edward W. Said and V. Y. Mudimbe are bulwarks against the exotic "Orientalization of Africa". They have sought to contain the forces of "Otherization" in North-South relations.
Elsewhere Mazrui argues:
It is possible to accuse both Said and Mudimbe of reverse Otherness, of stereotyping the West. And just as Negritude has been defended as "anti -racist racism", Said and Mudimbc can be defended as examples of "anti-alterity Otherness" or "anti-Other Otherness". (African Thought in Comparative Perspective, 2014, p. 277)
In arguing for "alterity-dialogue", Jerome Okonkwo (Creating More Space for African Philosophy: problems and prospects, Journal of African Traditional Religion and Sustainable Development, 1. 2016)
In the first place, the concept of 'alterity' implies the language of 'the-other-ness'. Alterity in its compositionality is indicative of the facts and implicit prognosis of the phenomenology of language. Alterity compounds the wider ranges of implicit and explicit indices of philosophical surpluses that contain and cushion ready-made and institutionalized symbolic forms'. The fear of alterity means here the expositional conflicts provoked by the imposed non-dialogued contacts of 'symbolic forms' and/or epistemologies...
This issue is that of what has to be called 'the dominant language games' which make such languages to be an influential tool of violence once in contact with an 'alterity-language'. When a language dominates another, then a battle line is drawn between the different social physics. The battle lines are drawn when we recall... that language and thought (i.e. philosophy-culture) are inseparable, and a disease of language is therefore the same as a disease of thought...
Alterity-dialogue is the method of creating a 'linguistic universe' for a process philosophy that should be an ongoing and never-ending feedback and playback of representing and re-representing of the hallmarks and leitmotifs of a 'polylog-tantamount' for the proceedings of philosophy from oneself unto the other.
Latin American peoples provide a focus for vigorous arguments compiled by Peter McLaren (Red Seminars: Radical Excursions into Educational Theory, Cultural Politics and Pedagogy, January 2017)
While to its considerable credit, postmodern theory -- especially through the insights of its pantheon of progenitors such as Nietzsche, Toynbee, Heidegger, C. Wright Mills, Horkheimer, and Adorno -- has troubled the primary status of the colonizer, peeled back the horizon of culture to reveal the trace marks of the antipodal, broken the semiotic gridlock of reigning binarisms, prevented the authoritative closure that serves to re-enlist alterity into the ranks of Western imperialism, and revealed how temporal structures of dislocation constitute rather than describe our geographies of identity. It has often reconfirmed as much as contested capitalist relations of exploitation. (Peter McLaren and Ramin Farahmandpur, Marx after Post-Marxism)
Rigoberta resists "the murderous Vertretung, or substitutive representation, that Gayatri Spivak protests in elite writers".... Rigoberta's words will always cut through the ontological assumptions that produce Stoll's vindictive master trope of stinging anti-alterity. The wail, the shriek of anguish, will no longer be the poor's signature at the end of history but rather a prelude to restitution. As spokesperson for both the dead and the unborn, Rigoberta's testimonio enables witnessing to occur and hauntingly demands that her voice not only he allowed to utter its cry of horror but that it not be doomed to remain alone. It claims an audience of Western sympathizers from beyond the threshold of the North-South divide, an audience who will form a choir of voices urging action and justice. (Peter McLaren and Jill Pinkney-Pastrana, The Search for the Complicit Native: epistemic violence, historical amnesia an the anthropologist as ideologue of empire)
Further clarification is offered from one religious perspective by Michael Hardin (Mimetic Unity or Christian Unity?):
Christian unity within congregations and within denominations can easily be seen to be unity against. Like political or familial unity, church unity often depends on a scapegoat, someone extruded, discounted, marginalized and all too frequently demonized. We are not like this group or that one. It is the false unity found in random victimage. The unity created by victimage will always have as a marker an anti-alterity (an against-the-otherness). In contrast to this, the unity found in the gospel is a unity that also begins with a victim, but it is a unity that stands with the victim. (Patheos Blog, 11 September 2014)
Anti-diversity? A distinctive pattern of concern is evident with respect to "anti-diversity". This has been conveniently highlighted by the widely publicized dynamics associated with a controversial statement by a former Google engineer (James Damore, Google's Ideological Echo Chamber, July 2017; Kate Conger, Here's The Full 10-Page Anti-Diversity Screed Circulating Internally at Google, Gizmodo, 5 August 2017). The latter includes a response by Danielle Brown, Google's newly appointed Vice President of Diversity, Integrity and Governance).
The merit of the framing in terms of diversity is that the concept is central to the sustainable dynamics of ecosystems -- of current concern in terms of loss of biodiversity. This can be explored more generally through understandings of genetic diversity and the cybernetics of requisite variety. Far less evident is appropriate framing of any psychosocial analogue -- psychosocial diversity. However controversy in this regard is associated with the widespread debate on multiculturalism.
With respect to the geneal approach of this argument, the concern would then notably be with "anti-biodiversity" and "anti-multiculturalism". Whilst neither exists as such in the above checklist from Wikipedia, the latter redirects to an entry on criticism of multiculturalism (indicating a relationship to an entry on opposition to immigration, to which "anti-immigration" is redirected). Significantly, with respect to "anti-biodiversity", the "immigration" dimension is reflected in entries on "invasive species" and "introduced species".
How many distinctive "species" are required for psychosocial system variety -- especially when nations and cultures frame themselves as exclusive and exeptional? What then are the appropriate constraints on "introduced species", especially when experienced (or framed) as "invasive"?
Anti-consensus? A strange belief is cultivated that viable consensus and agreement are possible -- despite any sense of otherness, alterity or diversity. This is proving increasingly questionable and may well be an illusion (The Consensus Delusion: mysterious attractor undermining global civilization as currently imagined, 2011). The illusion may be associated with a superficial understanding of equality, perhaps reinforced by naive preoccupation with "likes" (Cultivating the Myth of Human Equality: ignoring complicity in the contradictions thereby engendered, 2016).
Promoting the possibilities of "agreeing to disagree" is increasingly in fundamental conflict with foreign policy principles variously articulated by the USA in terms of You're either with us, or against us. An example is the statement of the former US President George W. Bush: Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. Seemingly "anti-us" is no longer acceptable. "Like me or you are a threat"?
The framing extends to the cultivation of the lack of moral equivalence between, for example, the "torture" appropriately employed by "us" and its horrific forms used by "others" (Jeane Kirkpatrick, The Myth of Moral Equivalence. Imprimis, 15, 1986 1).
As many in institutions recognize, disagreement is not a good career move. Disagreement is increasingly framed as a dangerous option in global governance. The danger has long been cultivated by the Abrahamic religions. The pattern is currently a feature of the dynamics within the UK Labour Party, as noted above.
A primary characteristic of otherness or alterity is the manner in which it evokes dispute, and perhaps necessarily so. This is as much the case with regard to academic studies of otherness (under the guise of alterity) as it is in the dynamics of engagement between constituencies variously threatened, appalled or challenged by otherness of which they are aware.
Issues relating to religion offer examples characteristic of the savagely unconstrained dynamics between contrasting perspectives (and their critics):
The exceptionally problematic "irrationality" of discourse with respect to "anti" relationships has been recently illustrated in the case of colonialism. "Anti-colonialism" is considered to be unquestionably reprehensible in public debate (Bruce Gilley, The Case for Colonialism, Third World Quarterly, 2017, withdrawn); Professor's 'bring back colonialism' call sparks fury and academic freedom debate, The Independent, 12 October 2017; Third World Quarterly and the case for colonialism debate, Aidnography, 14 December 2017). Such constraint is challenged by the proportion of populations liberated from dictatorship who recall the previous regime with regret -- as in countries like Iraq and Russia.
Are the dynamics of today a sad contrast to those of the distant past, as described by A. C. Graham (Disputers of the Tao: philosophical argument in Ancient China, 1989)?
An obvious difficulty is that humanity is currently far from being able to transcend the challenges of binary thinking and the manner in which it reinforces any tendency to distinguish right-from-wrong, good-from-evil, appropriate-from-inappropriate, and the like (Destabilizing Multipolar Society through Binary Decision-making, 2016; Transcending Simplistic Binary Contractual Relationships: what is hindering their exploration? 2012).
This difficulty is fundamental to widespread use of "anti" in providing a binary framing of such distinctions. Of some relevance is the number of Wikipedia entries excluded from the above selection which identified forms of military weaponry (anti-missile, anti-tank, anti-personnel, etc), pharmaceutical "weaponry" (anti-malarial, etc), software "weaponry" (anti-virus, etc), etc.
Through their well developed tendency to frame ontrasting perspectives as "evil", religions have obviously been unable to transcend this modality (Existence of evil as authoritatively claimed to be an overriding strategic concern, 2016; Needing Evil Elewhere, 2011). Religions seemingly have little innate desire for such transcendence, despite their claims to a fundamental engagement with a unitary perspective -- reinforced to a degree by the clues offered by religiously inspired mathematicians (Mathematical Theology: Future Science of Confidence in Belief, 2011).
The discourse within science, and especially with other disciplines, is similarly handicapped in its inability to process radical disagreement (Knowledge Processes Neglected by Science: insights from the crisis of science and belief, 2012). As noted by Max Planck: A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
Negative capability? Of some relevance to clarifying the challenge of anti-otherness is the sense in which the constituency with the antipathic sentiment tends to make a fundamental and unquestionable assumption regarding its own essentially "positive" nature. Any alternative articulation is then necessarily "negative". As evident in the dynamics between religions and between ideologies, this may justify the most extreme measures for the neutralization of the other, if not its eradication (Eradication as the Strategic Final Solution of the 21st Century? 2014; Indians? Witches? Natives? Jews? Islamists? ETs? Eradication as genocide -- now and then? 2017).
The questionable nature of this overly simplistic process has been argued by Barbara Ehrenreich (Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, 2009; Smile Or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World, 2009). It can also be explored otherwise (Being Positive Avoiding Negativity: management challenge of positive vs negative, 2005).
I had not a dispute but a disquisition with Dilke, upon various subjects; several things dove-tailed in my mind, and at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously -- I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason,,, with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration (1817)
So framed, engaging with otherness calls for an ability to tolerate uncertainty, mystery, and doubt -- "without any irritable reaching after fact and reason". Unfortunately negative capability does not seem to be cultivated in relation to the challenges of interfaith dialogue and the violence to which its failure so obviously gives rise. A recent summary of its potential is provided by Paul Tritschler (Negative Capability: a Force for Change? Counterpunch, 19 July 2018).
It is nevertheless curious that although religions would seem to be significantly lacking in negative capability, there is a well-established mystical tradition related to that capacity, namely the via negativa recognized in apophatic theology. The associated practice of "unsaying" in dialogue has equivalents within all the major religions (Michael A. Sells, Mystical Languages of Unsaying, 1994).
More curious is the sense in which "unsaying" -- in a perverse form -- is probably the most common feature of the divisive discourse characteristic of anti-otherness. Notably in the case of political debate, this is evident in the tendency for politicians to neither "mean what they say" nor to "say what they mean".
The aesthetic subtleties of negative capability can be readily dismissed as obscure -- in a spirit of "anti-negativity". Against that it could be said that the emphasis on "beauty" resonates tantalizingly with the aspiration to both the elegance of "heaven" (as variously understood by the religions) and that of science (in its quest for a unifying Theory of Everything).
Such elegance contrasts with the only too evident deployment of binary logic in the ongoing crisis between Israel and Palestine. As archetypal representatives of religions known for their exploration of mathematical subtlety of the highest order, it is strange to witness their righteous reliance on a form of logic worthy of the Stone Age -- reinforced with commensurate bloody violence against the other. The comparison has been explored more generally with respect to other arenas (Nick Cullather, Bomb them Back to the Stone Age: An Etymology, History News Network, 10 May 2006).
Approaches to "oppositional logic": The argument can however be taken further through the obscurities of explorations of "oppositional logic", potentially to be understood as a form of generalization of binary logic. As described by Guoping Du, Hongguang Wang and Jie Shen (Oppositional Logic, Logic, Rationality, and Interaction, 5834, 2009, pp 319-319):
Oppositional logic is an extended system of classical propositional logic. It can be obtained from the classical propositional logic by adding an unary connective * and introducing the definitions of two unary connectives ∆ and ∇. In oppositional logic system, there are four kinds of negation: the classical negation ¬ complying with both law of contradiction and law of excluded middle, the constructive negation ∇ complying with law of contradiction but not law of excluded middle, the paraconsistent negation ∆ complying with law of excluded middle but not law of contradiction, as well as the dialectical negation * complying with neither law of contradiction nor law of excluded middle.
It is appropriate that the authors should be associated with a culture which produced the logically complex I Ching -- influential in Chinese governance over millennia. Also appropriate, an archaic form is recognized in the arguments of classical authors, as noted by Raymond A. Prier (Archaic Logic: Symbol and Structure in Heraclitus, Parmenides and Empedocles, Walter de Gruyter, 2011, pp. 20-21):
The reign of the Olympians then might be said to represent a necessary genealogical and logical synthesis of the oppositions between and within the generations preceding them. There is probably no clearer example of a tripartite, oppositional logic in Greek literature than here in the lines of Hesiod's Theogony (p. 44)
Prier relates their insights to those of Hegel:
Hegel, as I read him, has uncovered the most pertinent characteristic of Heraclitian thought: the structure of an oppositional logic divorced from, but regulating entirely, the objective world of naive sense perception. Hegel also refuses to deal with Heraclitus as an "obscure" philosopher. (p. 60)
A valuable understanding of oppositional logic is fruitfully related to the archetypal male-female relation by Mark S. Medley (Imago Trinitatis: Toward a Relational Understanding of Becoming Human, 2002) in the light of the post-patriarchal self framed by feminist theologians Catherine Keller (From a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism and Self, 1986), Margaret A. Farley (New Patterns of Relationship: beginnings of a moral revolution, Theological Studies, 36, 1975, 4), and Wendy Farley (Eros for the Other: retaining truth in a pluralistic world, 1996), For Medley:
Correlative to this idolatry of the separate self is what [Wendy] Farley names the illusion of domination. This illusion employs an oppositional logic... In the oppositional logic at work in domination, one thing is perceived to be absolutely good and real, while another is denigrated.... According to Farley this translates into a division of two opposing categories: for example, real human beings (separate self) and derivative human being (soluble self). The resulting fiction of subhunanity makes oblivious another's personhood. This obliviousness is a ubiquitous quality of the experience of oppression. (p. 90).
It could be said that religions, and especially the Abrahamic religions, have long been much challenged by male-female relationships -- and currently to an even greater degree with the changes underway under pressure from the LGBT movement. It is to be expected that their difficulties would be reflected in their recourse to the oversimplifications of binary logic. In the light of the paternalistic emphasis this can be understood as reverting to a form of monopolar logic in which only one can be right.
With obvious implication for the conlictual ("anti") challenges of governance, valuable insights into oppositional logic are provided in the various contributions to the blog on Oppositional Geometry: mathematics and philosophy) of opposition (originally titled Oppositional Logic: mathematics (and philosophy) of opposition) notably pages on active researchers and related references. This includes the following visual summary.
|Four basic "conceptual actors" of oppositional logic and stages in their elaboration|
|Reproduced from Oppositional Logic . Clarification: the term 'tetraicosahedron' only seems to occur in the logic-oriented research of Moretti, Pellissier and Luzeaux et al. Furthermore, this term has not been used entirely consistently in the literature; for example, Pellissier  and Luzeaux et al.  draw a tetrakis hexahedron, but call it a 'tetraicosahedron', while Moretti , conversely, draws a tetraicosahedron, but calls it a 'tetrahexahedron'.|
The tetrahexahedron on the right is the dual of the truncated octahedron. and is the focus of clarifying commentary. More extensive discussion of the theme is provided separately (Neglected recognition of logical patterns -- especially of opposition, 2017; Succinct mapping of multidimensional psychosocial dynamics?2016). The argument there is illustrated by the images and animations reproduced below.
"Anti-otherness"? The obvious question is how such images might relate to understandings of "anti-otherness" and the associated dynamics. Rather than seeking closure on such possibilities, given their subtlety, it is clues which are required -- somewhat in the spirit of the title of a work by Gregory Bateson and Mary Catherine Bateson (Angels Fear: toward an epistemology of the sacred, 1988). Examples include:
There are many 8-fold distinctions, seemingly framed and constrained by the insightful paper of George Miller (The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: some limits on our capacity for processing information, Psychological Review, 63, 1956, 2, pp. 81-97). These incude the UN Millennium Development Goals, scales for understanding cultures, gender identiies, the standard model of physics, the Chinese BaGua pattern, the fundamental 3x3 magic square, the coaction cardiod of species interaction, and the like.
Their interrelationships and configuration possibilities have been variously discussed separately:
The quest is however for configurations which elicit greater insight into the nature of "oppositional logic" -- the intractable dynamics of antipathy and "anti-otherness". The challenge to comprehension is evident in the degree to which a static 8-fold cubic configuration in 3D s better reframed through what is effectively a 4D configuration as rendered more explicit in the images below.
of BaGua pattern
of I Ching
The Logic Alphabet Tesseract
|Topologically faithful 4-statement Venn diagram
is the graph of edges of a 4-dimensional cube
as described by Tony Phillips
|Reproduced from Z. D. Sung, The Symbols of Yi King or the Symbols of the Chinese Logic of Changes (1934, p. 12)||Diagram by Warren Tschantz
(reproduced from the Institute of Figuring) .
|A vertex is labeled by its coordinates (0 or 1) in the A, B, C and D directions; the 4-cube is drawn as projected into 3-space; edges going off in the 4th dimension are shown in green.|
Anti-otherness and the need for enemies: The images and animations below (left and centre) are exercises in articulating the challenging dynamics of anti-otherness, especially in the light of the attractive power of any opposition as an "enemy" or "foe", as variously indicated in politics, but less freuently with respect to other domains:
Just as the USA has a fundamental need for an enemy (Russia, China, EU?), there is a case for exploring the unfortunate need of Israel and Palestine as deadly enemies vital to the sense of identity of each. More generally, beyond binary patterns, the religions of the world seemingly have a desperate need to be fundmentally opposed by one another -- with a tendency of each to frame the others as fundamentally "evil".
Dynamics of anti-otherness? Understood as a 4D tesseract, the challenge to comprehension of the images above is usefully suggested by the animation on the right below.
|Interactive virtual reality variant in 3D||Screenshots of non-interactive video renderings
(offering limited speed control)
|Virtual reality variants: vrml/wrl; x3d.||Wireframe video (.mov, 0.8mb)||by Jason Hise [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons|
The tesseract is especially helpful in suggesting the mirroring relationship with any "enemy" -- an "otherness" -- as succinctly expressed by a much-cited adage of Pogo: We have met the enemy and he is us. Seemingly missing is the mysteriously appreciative understanding cultivated in some martial arts (Engaging an Opposing Ideology via Martial Arts Philosophyr: reframing the challenge of Trump and Jihadism as worthy opponents, 2016). Such an insight calls into question the very nature of "combating", as used in the title of this document -- and as implied by use of crusade and jihad in engaging with otherness.
Should it be expected that only history will appropriately recognize the courage of jihadists in contrast with the cowardice of drone pilots? ("Cowardly murder": Ex-drone operators speak out about their jobs, AFP, 20 November 2015; Bad News: the jihadists are brave and do have a god, Herald Sun, 19 August 2017). Is terrorism necessarily an act of cowardice, given the embarrasing number of those recognized as leaders of terrorists who have subsequently be named leaders of their country? Is it only too convenient to attribute the courage of jihadists to the widely publicized use of Captagon providing "chemical courage" when the military forces they oppose also make use of psychotropic drugs (Pentagon's New Drug Weapons, Wired, 21 August 2007)?
As noted below with respect to emerging popular cultivation of traditional mythology, there is a case for recognizing the credibility now given to the superheroes of the world of fantasy. For Charles F. Tedder III (Comic Book Cosmopolis: globalization and the superhero, 2005):
Thus the cosmopolitan superhero rewrites the nationalist kind in two ways, both of which are in essential agreement with the anti-alterity of the new supervillain. The ideal of brawn is revised to intelligence and innovation: rather than needing only sheer might to counteract threats, the new superhero needs competence with global-age technologies, the resulting space-time compression, and the concurrent risks of such massive systems. The ideal of righteousness is revised to empathy: rather than simply enforce laws, the new superheroes seeks to negotiate solutions to conflict without compromising his or her own integrity. Such superheroes seem to agree that villains are not evil outsiders but rather misguided peers and potential dialogue partners, provided that sufficient contexts for such dialogue can be established. Although the fact that such ideas are espoused within a comic-book form severely undercuts their value as a how-to manual for living in the global age, it does no harm to their value as hopes and dreams.
Aperspectival "anti-social" perspective? The specialized languages cultivated by distinctive social groups -- typically held to be questionable as jargons -- relate to a long tradition of secretive sacred languages cultivated by priesthoods for communication among the initiated. In terms of the theme of this discuission, it is both curious and ironic to discover recognition of "anti-languages" (M. A. K. Halliday, Anti-Languages, American Anthropologist, 78, 1976, 3). As described by the latter:
At certain times and places we come across special forms of language generated by some kind of anti-society; these we may call "anti-languages". An anti-language serves to create and maintain social structure through conversation, just as an everyday language does; but the social structure is of a particular kind, in which certain elements are strongly foregrounded. This gives to the anti-language a special character in which metaphorical modes of expression are the norm; patterns of this kind appear at all levels, phonological, lexicogrammatical, and semantic.
With respect to the focus on the transcendence of binary "anti-otherness", it could be usefully argued that the "aperspectival perspective" required is indeed that characteristic of an "anti-society" -- paradoxically detached from the perspectives of the oppositional dynamics of society. Its nature is presumably a feature of the quest of Umberto Eco for a "philosophical language" (The Search for the Perfect Language, 1995).
In the mythology of various traditions, this has been associated with the legendary "language of the birds", as may now be explored speculatively otherwise (Re-Emergence of the Language of the Birds through Twitter? 2010), In the light of the Great Game of Castalia envisioned by Hermann Hesse, this can in turn be speculatively explored in terms of the aesthetics of improvisation in the moment (Evoking Castalia as Envisaged, Entoned and Embodied: the great game informed by the bertsolaritza cultural process? 2016).
Clues from the paradox of anti-matter? Curiously with resect to this argument it could be said that "anti-matter" is a matter of fundamental importance to the most sophisticated understandings of physical reality. It is defined as a material composed of the anti-particles (or "partners") to the corresponding particles of ordinary matter. Anti-matter particles bind with one another to form anti-matter, just as ordinary particles bind to form normal matter.
As noted by Wikipedia, there is considerable speculation as to why the observable universe seems to be composed almost entirely of ordinary matter, as opposed to an equal mixture of matter and antimatter. This asymmetry of matter and anti-matter in the visible universe is one of the great unsolved problems in physics. The process by which this inequality between matter and antimatter particles developed is called baryogenesis.
Arguably there is a strange equivalance between that asymmetric mystery of anti-matter (for physicsts) and the mysterious distribution of the "evil" inferred from any "anti-perspective" (most notably that of theologians and politicians). It could be said that understanding of physical reality is as fundamentally flawed as that of the axiological or theological reality engendeing instances of "anti-otherness". Hence the essentially inexplicable need for enemies?
Is it possible that there is a characteristic of objective observation framing itself as unquestionably "positive" -- and "anti-negative" -- that is constrained in its capacity to recognize the "negative" with which it is itself intimately associated? The latter then seeming to be a mysterious exception -- as indicated by the biblical parable: And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 6:37-42)
In response to that mystery, physicists speculate on the physics beyond the Standard Model. Given the challenge to psychosocial dynamics, there is clearly a case for engaging with an analogous quest of some kind (Beyond the Standard Model of Universal Awareness: being not even wrong? 2010; Epistemological Panic in the face of Nonduality: does nothing matter? 2010; Metaphorical Insights from the Patterns of Academic Disciplines: learning from the Standard Model of Physics? 2012),
Engendering "superordinate dimensions"? It is curious that "otherness" inviting antipathy is engendered in a "space" whose dimensionality is inadequately recognized and explored. The existence of this space has been provocatively implied by the perspective of cognitive psychology (George Lakoff and Rafael Núñez, Where Mathematics Comes From: how the embodied mind brings mathematics into being, 2001). The monotheistic religions necessarily deprecate any space in which a monopolar perspective is not dominant -- and appropriately set against the otherness implied by bipolarity or multipolarity. In its aspiration to a unified explanation of everything, this is potentially true of "science".
Clearly the existence and appeal of a multplicity of religions in reality challenges the former, just as the mutiplicity of "disciplines" challenges the second -- in the absence of interfaith and interdisciplinary capacity of any efficacy. At the same time, the political arena engenders vigorous reference to fundamental "values" on every possible occasion -- without being able to give especially credible explanations as to their number or their nature, as discussed separately (Human Values as Strange Attractors, 1993).
Most curiously, to the extent they are in any way named, such values are typically reminiscent of the qualities with which deities of past cultures have been associated. This has resulted in the specific use of such names by Specialized Agencies of the United Nations -- whose headquarters are then readily to be recognized as modern equivalents of the temples of those deities, especially those of classical Greece and Rome.
A similar process is evident in the articulation of sets of goals and strategies, readily recognized as corresponding to pantheons of the past (George A. Panichas, The New Pantheons of Our Civic Social Order, Modern Age, 44, 2002). Curiously the concept of a pantheon of gods has been widely imitated in fantasy literature and role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons; these tend to borrow heavily from historical patterns, although readily constructed ab initio.
Whether understood as values, deities or "strange attractors", the challenge of "anti-otherness" would seem to require new insight into the dimensionality of the space within which the varieties of such "othernesses" become apparent. What degree of diversity is required of a credible pantheon as a vehicle for the disparate set of values deemed essential to psychosocial dynamics -- especially in the current quest for sustainability? The UN's 8-fold set of Millennium Development Goals (2000) was transformed into a 16-fold set of Sustainable Development Goals (2015).
It is strange to note the manner in which the articulation of pantheons by cultures is seemingly constrained by the simplest mathematical progression in terms of exponential "powers". Beyond monotheism, any theory of pantheons would note that the number of deities characteristic of a given pantheon is framed by powers of prime numbers:
21 (=2).... 31 (=3).... 22 (=4).... 21x31 (=6).... 23 (=8).... 32 (=9).... 22x31 (=12).... 24 (=16).... 21x32 (=18)....
The pattern is evident across cultures and time (see List of Pantheons), as exemplified by the eight deities of Teotihuacan of ancient Mexico, potentially augmented by a ninth. This use of exponential powers is fundamental to the insights articulated by musicologist Ernest McClain (Myth of Invariance: the origins of the gods, mathematics and music from the Rg Veda to Plato, 1976; The Pythagorean Plato: prelude to the song itself, 1978; Meditations through the Quran: tonal images in an oral culture, 1981).
Curiously the articulation of sets of concepts, and notably of strategies, is similarly constrained (Representation, Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the role of number, 1978; Patterns of N-foldness Comparison of integrated multi-set concept schemes as forms of presentation, 1980). As might be expected, Hinduism is notable in inviting consideration of what can be termed "axiological physics" (David B. Zilberman and Robert S. Cohen, Hindu Systems of Thought as Epistemic Disciplines, The Birth of Meaning in Hindu Thought, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 102. 1988). The sets of othernesses and anti-othernesses, as patterns of values, therefore lend themselves to exploration as a feature of axiological systems theory (Francisco Parra-Luna, Axiological Systems Theory, Systems Science and Cybernetics/Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, 1999).
If society is indeed so mysteriously beholden to forms which elude the conventional process of definition and explication, there is then a case for according a degree of attention to the associated traditional recognition of arrays of angels and demons acknowledged by the main religions (Traditional modes of cognitive engagement with hyperreality, 2016). These are exemplary forms of otherness and purportedly an essential embodiment of values -- and a continuing focus of belief for many. These call for a new understandings of reality, exemplified by the provocative exploration by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake (The Physics of Angels: exploring the realm where science and spirit meet, 1996). This follows from the above-mentioned study, appropriately titled, by Gregory Bateson and Mary Catherine Bateson (Angels Fear: toward an epistemology of the sacred, 1988).
Much is indeed made of the sacredness of values in justifying the strategies of governance -- but with little capacity to clarify what that might mean in reality. At the same time, much is also made of the "evil" which those strategies are required to address, as noted separaely (Existence of evil as authoritatively claimed to be an overriding strategic concern, 2016). The widespread phenomenon of "demonization" is especially striking, as noted in the annual report of Amnesty International (Politics of demonization' breeding division and fear, 22 February 2017):
Today's politics of demonization shamelessly peddles a dangerous idea that some people are less human than others, stripping away the humanity of entire groups of people. This threatens to unleash the darkest aspects of human nature.
Such a framing suggests the merit of continuing speculation analogous to that characteristic of fundamental physics, as discussed separately (Reality of the demonic and the angelic by comparison with secular understanding of existence, 2016). The need for new thinking in a period of multiple crises is framed by the array of othernesses with which constitiuencies of global society consider it necessary to engage (Variety of System Failures Engendered by Negligent Distinctions: mnemonic clues to 72 modes of viable system failure from a demonic pattern language, 2016).
It is unfortunate, for example, that the study of the "physics of angels" makes so little reference to the subtler insights from physics. Whether as "values" or as "angels", such an exploration would be much enriched by the arguments relating extensively to physics of Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander (Surfaces and Essences: analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking, 2013). This notes his continuing fascination with light as a source of inspiration.The study by Fox and Sheldrake does however emphasize that angels are "musical in nature and work in harmonious relationship with one another" (p. 193). This reinforces the relevance of the mathematical approach of Ernest McClain (1976) with respect to "powers" in distinguishing their musical form.
The framing of this argument leaves unanswered the question as how to distinguish between othernesses of different degree. Specifically are there forms of otherness or anti-otherness to be considered of greater significance. The angelic metaphor offers the curious reminder of the distinction traditionally made between different angelic orders. Some angels and some demons are "greater" than others -- and more to be feared.
Anti-otherness in a quantum reality? If the current insights of physics into quantum reality have implications for the psychosocial sciences, the question is how otherness and anti-otherness might then be considered. The possibility is usefully framed in a recent study by Alexander Wendt (Quantum Mind and Social Science: unifying physical and social ontology, 2015; video; interview). He argues that quantum consciousness theory is speculative, but compared to the alternative its simplicity is hard to beat (p. 292). He concludes with a bold claim: "whatever their current force as explanatory virtues, the coherence, breadth, and simplicity of the quantum hypothesis make it too elegant not to be true". (p. 293).
As discussed separately (On being "walking wave functions" in terms of quantum consciousness? 2017), Wendt imagines a contrasting perspective, variously stressing that humans are effectively walking wave functions:
In this book I explore the possibility that this foundational assumption of social science is a mistake, by re-reading social science "through the quantum". More specifically, I argue that human beings and therefore social life exhibit quantum coherence -- in effect, that we are walking wave functions. (p. 16)
Otherness as a waveform? The challenges of engaging with otherness then merit consideration in the light of wave functions, as may be speculatively explored:
In the light of the ongoing binary dynamics between "Israel" and "Palestine", the "two-state" cognitive relation between "otherness" and "anti-otherness" then calls for exploration within a more general framework, especially in the light of the mysterious role of Jerusalem as a symbolic nexus (Jerusalem as a Symbolic Singularity: comprehending the dynamics of hyperreality as a challenge to conventional two-state reality, 2017). This notably considers the challenge of Comprehending the nature of a potentially hyperdimensional Jerusalem (2017).
Any reference to pantheons of deities is readily deprecated as characteristic of obsolete worldviews of the past. However, aside from active interest in their construction in fantasy games, their embodiment in buildings so-termed continues to be treated with respect, as noted by Wikipedia (Extension of the concept into structures and celebrities).
The argument can be further developed as an exercise in knowledge architecture -- especially in the light of continuing interest in so-called memory palaces and memory theatres (and irrespective of the knowledge deities of cultures of the past). How indeed is the set of extant values to be arrayed -- whether appreciated or deprecated?
The challenge is all the greater if rhe complexity of their relationship calls for a 4D array rather than 2D or 3D -- namely making full use of the advantages of emerging visualization technology and virtual reality displays, as can be speculatively explored (Transforming Static Websites into Mobile "Wizdomes": enabling change through intertwining dynamic and configurative metaphors, 2007; E. Fassbinder and W, Heiden, The Virtual Memory Palace, Journal of Computational Information Systems, 2, 2006, 1; Seth D. Long, Visualizing Words and Knowledge: arts of memory from the agora to the computer, Syracuse University, 2015).
The challenge is curiously reminiscent of the role of the planetarium, now ever more sophisticated, together with that of spherical display technology (Karla Vega, et al, Visualization on Spherical Displays: Challenges and Opportunities, 2014; Science on a Sphere; Virtual Globe).
Fundamental to any such possibility is any sense of the geometry or topology of the requisite hyperdimensionality which would offer a degree of coherence and memorability analogous to that appreciated in pantheons of the past, most notably that of Rome (Eveline G. Bouwers, Public Pantheons in Revolutionary Europe: comparing cultures of remembrance, 2012; Jenny Weatherup, The Panthóon as a Revolutionary Space).
Indicative possibilities are suggested by mappings (shown below) of the articles of human rights charters onto appropriate polyhedra -- reproduced from a separate discussion with other images (Dynamic Exploration of Value Configurations: polyhedral animation of conventional value framework, 2008). Why indeed should the coherence of any set of human rights not be honoured and graced by their configuration into a "cognitive pantheon"?
|Polyhedral representation of value
configurations: a challenge to integrative imagination
screen shots of stages in the transformation of the geometry of sets of values [PDF version]
using indicative features of the Stella Polyhedron Navigator software package
on Human Rights
of Human Rights
on Human Rights
|18 Articles displayed on 2 face-types
of a rhombicuboctahedron
|30 Articles displayed on 1 face-type
of a rhombicosidodecahedron
|53 Articles displayed on
of a rhombicosidodecahedron
To the extent that otherness offers an understanding of diversity, what kind of "cognitive pantheon" would adequately embody biodoversity and its psychosocial analogue?
The challenging distinction between othernesses of different order, as illustrated by the angelic metaphor, is usefully framed by G. William Barnard (Exploring Unseen Worlds: William James and the Philosophy of Mysticism, 1997):
There has been such a stress on the linguistic nature of experience in recent philosophical thought that any claims to immediacy or to a knowledge that is not structured linguistically are instantly suspect. But the battle over what range of phenomena are eligible for promotion into the cognitive pantheon is far from over, primarily because there are differing ideas about what exactly constitutes a moment of cognition. A cognitive moment is typically said to be one that is factual, or truthful, instead of illusory or false, but the criteria used to determine what actually constitutes factuality or truth are themselves highly controversial. (p. 120; emphasis added)
More intriguing, given the focus here on anti-otherness, is whether any recognized set of "anti-othernesses" could be similarly configured. Of particular interest would be whether the paradoxical nature of the dynamics between otherness and anti-otherness could be held in this way. What indeed is the form, and of what dimensionality, which could hold a comprehensible set of anti-thetical perspectives within a common framework? The tesseract mentioned above offers one useful indication -- as the simplest of a series of greater complexity (penteract, hexeract, etc).
One poorly explored indication of this possibility derives from the curious preference for 30-plus distinctions considered necessary to encompass the complexity of the challenge of this nature. This is the case with the 30 Articles of the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That of the Declaration on Combating Antisemitism has 35. Does this suggest some intuitive sense of the requisite variety for a viable system in cybernetic terms?
This question has been explored in the light of the cybernetic insights of Stafford Beer, with his focus on the icosahedron (Beyond Dispute: The Invention of Team Syntegrity, 1994). The wider implications have been discussed in relation to a comprehensive strategic report to the Club of Rome (Exhortation to We the Peoples from the Club of Rome, 2018) and with respect to the organization by the EU of a conference on Future Technology Assessment (Visualization Enabling Integrative Conference Comprehension, 2018).
Quest for a dynamically transformable pantheon? Given the manner in which Judaism/Israel and Islam/Palestine frame each other as "otherness", with themselves as victims of "anti-otherness", there is a case for exploring the relevance of forms in 3D and 4D which might constitute cognitive pantheons capable of encompassing their relationship otherwise. This was the focus of an earlier exercise (Middle East Peace Potential through Dynamics in Spherical Geometry: engendering connectivity from incommensurable 5-fold and 6-fold conceptual frameworks, 2012). The animation on the left is one illustration of some aspects of that exploration. The animation on the right is generated from a truncated icosahedron by combining of zonohedrification with polyhedral morphing to illustrate the possibility of cycling between pantheons of distinctive patterns -- namely the transformable architecture of future cognitive pantheons.
|Indicative possibilities of a cognitive pantheon of mututally challenging othernesses?|
|Animation sequence folding and unfolding between extremes
||Transformation of pantheon through morphing zonohedrification|
|Animations generated using Stella Polyhedron Navigator|
Encompassing the confusion of otherness? In its more tangible form, the confusing nature of otherness is evident in the vast array of stars, in the vast array of biological species, in the variety of chemical molecules and in the fundamental particles of physics. Various ordering devices are brought to bear on that confusion, typically in an effort to reduce the array to a comprehensible number of elements through a classification scheme of some kind.
With respect to intangibles, whether angels or deities, their number may be held to be myriad but the focus is readily placed on a relatively limited number -- perhaps archangels or a governing pantheon. Whilst a large number of values may also be recognized, that number is also readily reduced to a primary set of values. As might be expected it is the set of archangels or the pantheon which is readily considered to be their embodiment. A characteristic difficulty is that whilst the claimed number may be limited, there are many seemingly contradictory claims to that number. Curiously it could then be said that with respect to intangible othernesses like values, the situation is seemingly a total mess. The selection "anti-othernesses" from Wikipedia (presented above) is an exemplification of this.
If the religions. which so many consider vital, are unable to reconcile the angelic values they uphold, it is little wonder that the otherness for one is a provocation for another -- readily percieived as demonic.
Beyond any oversimplistic "laundry" list of angels, the framings characteristic of a higher degree of ordering are those of the Standard Model of fundamental particles, the periodic table of chemical elements, and the periodic table of polyhedra. These offer a more systematic and memorable approach to the manner in which many differences are related. They presumably constitute a vital clue to how values as intangible othernesses might be more meaningfully related. They go some way to clarifying why there is a need for a requisite variety of othernesses -- irrespective of any antagonistic relations btween them, then to be reframed as highlighting their systemic complementarity. It is of course music that takes further the comprehensible experience of higher degrees of ordering of variety -- and its memorability.
Cognitive bias and otherness? Arguably one requirement for encompassing the contrasting distinctions of otherness is in terms of cognitive bias. A helpful approach is that of W. T. Jones (The Romantic Syndrome: toward a new method in cultural anthropology and the history of ideas, 1961), although as might be expected, there are alternative approaches to the matter, as summarized separately (Systems of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases, 1993). Jones distinguishes the following axes:
A related diagrammatic approach to cognitive biases is that of the Cognitive Bias Codex. as discussed separately with animations (Global configuration of cognitive biases: towards mapping G7 susceptibility, 2018). As a pattern this can be usefully confronted with a circular configuration of I Ching hexagrams, then to be understood as a means of encoding the variety of biases as contrasting conditions.
|Cognitive Bias Codex||Screen shot of 64 hexagrams of I Ching
(formed by animation of inner circle of trigrams
relative to outer circle of trigrams)
|By Jm3 [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons|
Otherness implied by contrasting modes of expression? In addition to any axial contrast between othernesses, there is a case for recognizing how they may be systemically related through cycles in order to ensure sustainability in some form. A helpful clue in this respect is the Wu Xing cyclic pattern fundamental to Chinese culture (below left). This is comparable with a similar insight from Pythagorean times, described in terms of Hygeia, and associated with what has subsequently been understood as hygiene, as discussed separately (Memorable dynamics of living and dying: Hygeia and Wu Xing, 2014 ).
If a set of contrasting modes of expression -- as modes of othernss in their own right -- is to be distinguished and ordered coherently, one approach is to map variants of the Wu Xing pattern onto the faces of the simplest polyhedron exhiting 5-foldness, namely the dodecahedron (below right and centre). Derivation of the pattern is discussed separately (Transformation pathways in multivocal discourse, 2016).
|Experimental representations of 5-fold Wu Xing pattern of processes|
|Traditional Chinese 5-phase
Wu Xing cycle
|Mapping of Wu Xing pattern
onto dodecahedron (folded)
|Mapping of Wu Xing pattern
onoto dodecahedron (unfolded)
|Adapted from Wu Xing entry in Wikipedia
black=generating; white= overcoming
|Prepared with features of the Stella Polyhedron Navigator software package|
Although readily framed as antiquated, the Wu Xing cyclic pattern could be considered the most succinct depiction of the dynamic relationship between distinctive conditions of othernsses. It can be seen as consistent with more complex insights into governance from the dynamics of weather (Weather Metaphors as Whether Metaphors, 2015).
Periodic generation of multiplicity? The 5-foldness of the above articulation offers the helpful reminder that it too is the reflection of a bias and constitutes a particular form of otherness. It is in this sense that insights into the periodic organization of the chemical elements and of polyhedra are of interest since they endeavour to encompass a variety of alternative patterns of n-foldness. Again it is of interest to note the variety of creative depictions of such periodicity (Alternative periodic tables).
These highlight the challenge of elaborating any visual representation of the pattern of othernesses, most notably of values or assumptions regarding their angelic embodiment. The classification of crystals -- as a form of bridge between chemical elements and polyhedra -- is of some relevance, especially given the tendency to associate particular gemstones with particular archangels. Gemstones are of course readily held to be the tangible embodiment of the highest values (Patterning Archetypal Templates of Emergent Order implications of diamond faceting for enlightening dialogue, 2002).
The immense array of polyhedra, of which the 12-sided dodecahedron is an archetypal example, offers the intriguing sense that the schema by which they are distinguished -- as mnemonic and mapping devices -- are a provocative clue to a systematic distinction between othernesses (values, angels, or otherwise). Here too, it is of interest to note the multiplicity of (competing) notation systems by which these distinctions are made (Schläffli symbol, Wythoff symbol, Wenninger number, Maeder index, Kaleido index. One example from Stella Polyhedron Navigator is given below.
Of continuing interest is the effort to organize the array of polyhedra into a periodic system (Michael Burt, Periodic Table of the Polyhedral Universe, International Journal of Space Structures, 2011; Haresh Lalvani, Higher Dimensional Periodic Table of Regular and Semi-Regular Polytopes, International Journal of Space Structures, 1996). The latter notes the possibility of continuous transformations within each family of polytopes..
|Indicative symbolic notation of simplest polyhedra|
|5 Platonic polyhedra (regular)||13 Archimedean polyhedra (semi-regular)|
Presented in this way, and given the possible (geometrical) transformational pathways from one polyhedron to another, this offers a means of understanding how the number of othernesses (values, angels) distinguished may vary considerably -- from a smaller number to a larger number, and possibly from the more perfect ("regular") to the less perfect ("semi-regular"), readiy transformed between one another.
These implications can be used to identify a pattern of potential transformation pathways, as discussed separately (Changing Patterns using Transformation Pathways, 2015; Memetic Analogue to the 20 Amino Acids as vital to Psychosocial Life? Number 37 as indicative of fruitful pathways of transformation? 2015). There is then particular relevance to the indication by Joxerra Garzia of the number of rhyming words used by a bertsolaris as a resource in the improvisation of a bertsos (The Art of Bertsolaritza: improvised basque verse singing, 2001).
|Map highlighting distinctive relationships pathways between spherically symmetrical polyhedra
(regular and semi-regular)
F=faces, E=edges, V=vertices (Total of these in parenthesis)
[Total reduced to prime number, other than 2, in square brackets]
In exemplifying coherence, it is appropriate to note that the features of any given polyhedron can be used to map a specific number of distinct qualities -- othernesses variously complementary to "anti-othernesses" in geometrical terms through their axial relationships. It is also the case that the distinctive characteristic of each polyhedron may be associated with a particular otherness of particular complexity.
The set of semi-regular Archimedean polyhedra, in cuboctahedral configuration, then offers the strikingly significant characteristic of closest sphere packing around the truncated tetrahedron -- the focus of extesive comment by Buckminster Fuller, Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking, 1975/1979) and by Keith Critchlow (Order in Space: a design source book, 1969). This is then suggestive of how any 12-fold pattern of values (or angels) could be understood as dynamically related (12 sets***)
Missing from any structural perspective is the implication of "periodic" in terms of the dynamics of cylicity -- especially as highlighted from a wave perspecitve by mathematics (D. H. Rouvray and R. Bruce King, The Mathematics of the Periodic Table, 2005). Curiously this cyclicity is most readily comprehended through music and song, recalling their purported function with respect to the long debated heavenly "language of angels". As with the above-mentioned quest for a "perfect language", its exploration has been related to the long-deprecated Enochian alphabet (Aaron Leitch, The Tongue of Angels, Quest, 105.1, 2017, pp. 20-25).
Any such possibilities are a reminder that rather than a static, univocal, unaesthetic Declaration on Combating Anti-Otherness, what may be required are the spontaneous dynamics of a singable form (A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006). Through such sonification, the challenge of harmony versus discord offers a means of reframing comprehensibly and memorably the relationship between otherness and anti-otherness.
Democracy is readily to be recognized as a configuration of opposing strategies, with the challenge being the coherence of that configuration. The tendency is to seek to reduce the multiplicity to a univocal perspective as exemplifying the singular will of the people -- variously marginalizing, out-manoeuvering or eradicating any opposing voice. Some initiatives may however be framed as "bipartisan" and there may be obligations to work with "coalitions" of distinctive parties. There is however little quest for subtler insights into more fruitful configurations which might enable and ensure sustainability.
Given the nature of disagreement, it is necessarily extremely difficult to enable coherent discourse about incommensurable perspectives. The approach here is to consider that there are various clues to a way forward but these are best understood as metaphors appealing differently according to cognitive preferences and biases which may be inevitable -- and necessary. The metaphors are perhaps best understood as complementary and indicative of progressive confluence towards a cognitive nexus whose very nature is a challenge to comprehension.
This argument is developed separately, with illustrations and animations, as a concluding summary (Oppositional Logic as Comprehensible Key to Sustainable Democracy: configuring patterns of anti-otherness, 2018). It can therefore be be considered as an annex.
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