With Persons in Mind: Part V of Cycles and Designs

(This is a Bite-Sized Re-Working of A Very Fulfilling View of All Things. We, Persons, can and do understand ourselves as supported by The Universe! Hey, I’m on a roll! Keeping it short and SWEET here at The Connection! I thought this was The Finale to this Post Series but it will take one more post to finish out. Please check out the previous four!)

Part IV really left our protagonists “in the lurch.” Persons had just begun to make themselves as they learned to speak, to use arithmetic, to understand time as exhibited in the cycles of day and night, the seasons, birth and death. Yes, “Persons” only exist in a world with much order, an order that supports them, in reality and in concept.

After all, a Person is itself a cycle and a Design among supporting cycles and designs. Robert Delaunay, Rythme n*1 (1938).

Persons further created themselves by establishing leaders of their communities and initiating rituals—their way of doing things— in processes like mate selection, hunting, healing, With “our way”, they began to call or think of themselves as “Us”, or “The People” or “Our Kind.” Stories (what we have come to call Myths) were then developed to explain or describe the origins of many of these practices or “things”.

The “Anishinaabe” is their Self-Name, but known better to us as Chippewa or Ojibwa. They have lived from Ontario, Canada, to Minnesota and North Dakota of the U.S. Their self-name translates to “Original People”. And The Winnebago people were saddled with that name given to them by a rival group. “Winnebago” means “filthy water.” Their self-name is Ho-Chunk, meaning “People with The Big Voice.” “Us” or “Our People” is a Representation that begins to accumulate significance for behavior. It is a new “Thing”—Ho-Chunk or Anishinaabe.

Language and Words, Arithmetic and Numbers, Communities and their Members are all Representations. In Part IV it was argued that in many situations it is hard to separate the Representation from the Thing They Represent. We said, “What is the multiplicity of things, without Arithmetic –1,2,3,4 and 2+2=4? Can we really distinguish our thoughts from the Language we use to express them? …What is Time without clocks, calendars, and even the orbiting of the earth? What is Time in itself?”

Money, especially in the form of paper currency, is another good example sited often by our guiding light, philosopher Dan Dennett. In itself, paper currency is merely printed paper –virtually worthless– but as a representation of economic activity or value, we all agree it is very real and has become an importantly different kind of thing with tremendous influence on other things.

Money and the economy Form Very Real Patterns that are discovered by the economic sciences. Again, these are patterns of activity and events as real as any in chemistry but just more closely associated with (Made with) human subjectivity and culture.

Persons are like money; they are a real thing and they exist in a vocabulary that is very different from that of physics or chemistry. In fact, the concepts of “Person” and “Money” are in the same vocabulary and significantly associated in our modern world.

What are the furthest implications of this unique vocabulary and its distinction from other vocabularies such as physics? So far, in this Post Series we have seen there is a growing accumulation of autonomy, awareness, and abilities in “objects” we have come to call “Persons” or “Person-Like”.

A great example of Real, Durable Patterns in the world, that are nonetheless clearly associated to Human Subjects: The Pyramids at Giza.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell so sweet”, said Mr. Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. But there are limits to this contention. If we describe a rose and its ‘smell’ in strictly chemical terms—we jump to a radically different vocabulary– there is no “Smell;” it is all chemicals and their reactions in the flower and in us. We have taken a term and phenomena from one vocabulary and described it in a completely different way. Sorry, photo of a perennial Poppy (by GWW), not a rose! I don’t grow Roses, and poppy don’t smell much either.

But the main point now is, there is no “money” without economic activity to back it, and there is no economic activity (at our modern, complex and advanced level) without money. The Representation and the ‘Thing’ Being Represented” are too closely connected for separation.

The same can be said for “Person”; it too is a representation! As argued in Part IV, a different way to put this close association between a ‘thing’ and ‘its representation’ is that there is little difference between Finding / Discovering an Object and the Making of an Object. Our Representational processes can be as much a Making of new objects as they are only a Naming of objects Found in the world. Making and finding tend to merge.

“Design” is the way to understand this connection of the Subjective to the Objective. All the patterns in the universe are Real, whether obviously human made or less obviously associated to humans..

“Bubbling Up!”

Bubbling Up to us: We say, “The light just came on”; “It was an inspiration”, and these occur within what we call “our mind”. Things Bubble Up within “Mind!.”

How does this happen? How do Persons Make and Find Patterns as Real as anything physics and chemistry has to offer? They “Bubble Up” to us in the form of Representations, argues Dennett! This is the way we can think of it, and do tend to think of it, in Our Ordinary World View; what has been called “Our Manifest Image” in Post IV. We say things like “I just got an idea!”

And Designs and Representations such as speech, writing, arithmetic, time were not Found or Made by any single individual. Dennett calls them “Darwinian ‘inventions'”; they are “inventions without inventors”, “designs with no particular designer”! They are not “the brainchildren of particular individual intelligent designers.” They are Nature’s “free-floating rationales” that have “bubbled up” to us as a community for some form of explicit Representation.

When an idea has come “bubbling up to Uswe are speaking the vocabulary of Persons in Our Manifest World View. Of course, we can also talk of this in the language of Neuro Science and Chemistry. But be careful, not to mix vocabulary! An “Idea”, “an Inspiration” does Not exist consistently in the world as Chemistry or Physics know it. “INSTUMENTALISM” in philosophy: there are many ways to interpret “The World” and each is an instrument for a certain purpose. (Thanks to Physics World for the image)

I have described this seeming paradox of Finding/Making as “Design” for which one side ‘faces out’ to form ‘the world’ and the other side of the design ‘faces inward’ to form the abstract rules of the Design. Persons know or experience both sides of the Design Process as makers of objects of use, and makers of themselves; and as discoverers of a world of objects given to them and unanalyzed.

In our traditional vocabulary, “Mind” is the General Term used for all this talk of Persons and their actions and Response-Abilities. Mind, we will say, CULMINATES in human joint action based on shared and communicated ways of living. That is a de-mystified characterization of the reality of “Mind”. It is a Culture; it is the way we collectively approach ‘the world’, all of us (often) thinking together and training our children to do so, too. “GET IT TOGETHER PEOPLE!” we often say. “GET ON THE SAME PAGE!”

HERE IS SOME “HUMAN JOINT ACTION”: A painter painted a painter painting, a Representation of an act of Representation. It is a mistake to model the Idea of Representation, on the notion that it is a Copy of a Prior and Independently Existing Thing. Most artists would never think of their product as a simple copy of what already existed. The toughest question seems to be, “Can the same be said for science?” John Singer Sargent’s painting of Monet painting, titled Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood (1885). The woman is Monet’s wife Alice.
J.S.Bach, he is believed to have fathered 20 children; only 4 made it to adulthood! Portrait by Elias G. Haussmann (1748)

Dennett started his discussion of the Evolution of Mind with the self-preservation of its own design by bacteria, and finishes with The Prolific Creative Design-Talent of Johann Sebastian Bach. He takes Bach as a high-point in the powers of Intelligent, Premeditated, Self-Conscious Design, a seemingly contrary case to Design with no designer. A strikingly obvious example of Making and not Finding, of Bach’s individual creative power.

Indeed, much of Bach’s success should be attributed to his own efforts and genius. He studied diligently the works of the great composers before him and all the different musical styles of his day. He became an expert in counterpoint. He wrote music incessantly. For example, he composed 5 years of ecclesiastical music for the Lutheran church, one program for each Sunday varying according to the church calendar.

But Dennett points out that maybe we should not give Bach himself all the credit. Deeper forces were working around him, in him and before him.


[A Quick Up Take: From the position of making/finding we can say, “GOD DOES NOT EXIST,” at least in any traditional form. If our argument thus far is sound, and Making/Finding are pretty much one and the same, we can come to this conclusion because too many persons no longer “see” evidence of God nor believe in the same Scriptures, or any Scripture at all. Human Agreement on a thing’s existence is as much apart of its existence as anything! Also, Human Truth has a lot to do with Consistency of Beliefs. At least in the old days, it was More Reasonable to believe in Your Traditional God because there was no “science perspective” to create tension with religion in general, and no Other Gods that you knew of (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Greek…). Today, The Old-Timey Religion is just out of step with “What We Believe and Live By! It does not fit in this world. It is “Incoherent”, we can say!]

The Final post in The Cycles and Designs Series to be published soon. “Same Time! Same Bat Channel!


Drawings by The Marvelous Marty!

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