University of Western Sydney
As far as human society cannot exist without nature - the ecosystem that sustains life - sociology (the study of society) is inseparably linked with ecology (the study of relations between people and nature). Social Ecology is a branch of human inquiry that reflects this vital link (Light, 1988).
The disastrous effects, which the development of our 'highly technological' civilization has on nature, have brought the human kind at the edge of a global ecological catastrophe. More and more scientists understand that the eco-system on our planet has already reached the point of no return, that is, the point beyond which nature is no more capable to restore its balance and hence to support human life.
Fuzziology (Dimitrov, 2003; Dimitrov and Hodge, 2002) is a study of fuzziness of human knowing; it provides a rich theoretical and methodological basis for better understanding and dealing with fuzziness inherent in one's knowledge about oneself, society and nature.
This paper elicits applications of fuzziology to social ecology - application of crucial significance for the survival of human species on the planet.
1. Specific Character of Socio-Ecological Application
Postulates of Reclus and Jung
We are both products of and participants in the unfolding of natural dynamics. We are bearers of their capacity for self-organization, and able to demonstrate this capacity through our unique ability to be conscious of ourselves. In his monumental work "L'Homme et la Terre" (Man and Nature) published in six volumes from 1905 till 1908, the pioneer in the field of socio-ecological research, the French geographer Elisée Reclus refers to the human beings as nature achieving self-consciousness (Reclus, 1905). This profound insight is encapsulated in the following postulate.
Reclus 'Postulate (1905) Humans are nature becoming self-conscious.
Reclus' Postulate asserts that it is through human capacity for self-consciousness (self-awareness, self-exploration, self-understanding, self-knowing) that nature becomes conscious of itself, of the unbreakable wholeness of its all-pervading dynamics, of its infinite power to self-organize: create, restore, sustain, transform.
By studying, understanding and knowing ourselves, we are able to reveal the secrets of nature as they manifest through us; moreover, we can consciously attune our individual dynamics in harmony with the self-organizing dynamics of nature and thus be active participants in their endless interplay and transformations.
In regards to the study of social dynamics, the following insight of Carl Jung born out of his deep understanding of the psychological roots of human and social dynamics is of significant importance for understanding society.
Jung's Postulate (1941): Society is nothing more than the concept of symbiosis of a group of human beings.
Firstly Carl Jung explained this idea at a meeting of Swiss psychotherapists in 1941. At that meeting he made it clear that "A concept is not a carrier of life. The sole and natural carrier of life is the individual and this hold true throughout nature" (Jung, 1984). Being a carrier of life, the individual is able to change and grow on the way to wisdom; society is deprived of this ability (Dimitrov, 2003). In the whole history of the humankind, wars, bloodsheds, exploitation and oppression are the inevitable companions of the life of each society, of each civilization. No one enlightened individual has ever succeeded to make society wiser (usually, the wise people are prosecuted or killed by the custodians of the social order).
All current talks on changing society so as to make it live and evolve in a 'sustainable way' are nothing but empty intellectual exercises conducted by academics, politicians or corporate leaders - exercises without any practical effects on the social life.
Change is possible at individual level only; it requires a great amount of earnest and persistent efforts by the individual to stay awake, to constantly pursue self-knowledge and wisdom, to be responsible and in full control of what s/he thinks and speaks and how s/he acts. No one can be replaced by another person in the application of these efforts; as a rule, society creates impediments on their realizations and, while doing this, provides the individual with lessons which, if understood, become sources of powerful experiential knowledge.
ourselves as "sole and natural
carriers of life", we are capable to understand the way society
as we all are its creators and it mirrors our own nature, our behaviour
relationships with one another, with ourselves and with the universe.
also exercises strong influence on the development of our individual
less we understand and know ourselves, the stronger the effect society
society never advances in wisdom, its effect on those who pursue truth
oppressive. The freedom for realization of one's potential is a direct
of the degree up to which one knows oneself.
Theorem: By studying, understanding and knowing oneself, the individual is able to study, understand and know both nature and society.
The validity of this theorem is a direct result of the postulates of Reclus and Jung. Our knowledge about ourselves is simultaneously a knowledge about nature that has created us as species endowed with self-consciousness and about society that we have created as a web of symbiotic relationships to one another and nature. All what a countless number of generations of people have learned about themselves, their relationships with one another and with nature is imprinted in the evolving fabric of each individual's consciousness; by revealing its secrets (while practicing concentration, contemplation and meditation) one reveals not only the secrets of oneself, but also the secrets of everything that is. The opposite is not true: by studying nature and society as objects outside us, that is, disconneced from ourselves and existing as an objective reality 'overthere', we can never grasp their essence, because their essence is our own essence and we are not only the closest to it as its self-conscious bearers, but we are also the only species who can verify its truth. How? By realization of this truth in our lives, through the functioning of our bodies and minds, through the longings of our souls and the power of our spirit. Without konwing ourselves, the knowledge we try to accumulate about nature and society is inevitably partial and therefore delusive and misleading.
This theorem reflects the legacy of Socrates: "Know thyself!" - a heartfelt demand from each individual to stay awake in his and her experience, to be aware and in control of his or her thoughts and words, emotions and feelings, decisions and actions. For Socrates, this is The Way to Wisdom.
Corollary: The fuzziness of our knowledge of ourselves reflects in the fuzziness of our knowledge of nature and society.
By studying fuzziness of what we know about ourselves, its roots and nature, its dynamics and ways to deal with it, fuzziology helps us maximize the degree of our self-understanding and self-realization.
In this paper we
demonstrate application of fuzziology for:
(1) understanding and managing chnages in ourselves;
(2) understanding synchronicities occurring in our experience.
These two applications are of crucial importance for the survival of each individual; if the individual is unable to change and understand (extract lessons from) the synchronicities happening in his (her) life, she has no other alternative but to follow the suicidal rush of today's society - a destiny repeated by all the past civilizations ans societies.
Fuzziness of Change
The theory of change - a theory supported by a large number of experiential evidences - is centred in the paradox that the more one strives to change himself (herself), the less probable is for the change to happen. This paradox has its roots in human psychology: when the individual distinguishes between what s/he is and what s/he wants to become, this brings fragmentation in his or her life - a fragmentation that inevitably triggers forces which impedes the process of change. Each individual is an organic whole, not a sum of different qualities, aspects and features; the whole can never be changed when divided into separate parts.
The approach of fuzziology helps us explain this paradox.
Let I(p) be the image that the individual has about himself (herself) at the present time and I(f) is the image that the individual wants to change into. As each individual is characterized by an almost infinite number of qualities (aspects, traits, habits, peculiarities, nuances) one's knowledge of oneself is fuzzy and hence I(p) and I(s) can be described as fuzzy classes defined on a common universe of discourse, that is, on a finite set of personal and social characteristics selected so as to reveal as much as possible the nature of human individuality.
In the context of fuzzy sets, the assignment of the membership function in I(p), that is, of the weights of those individual characteristics which have been selected to describe I(p), is based on long-term statistical observations of the behaviour of the individual in a large number of experiential situations. For example, if the individual frequently consumes significant doses of alcohol, the weight of the characteristic related to this kind of habit in the description of I(p) is very high; if the individual spends most of time without movement, then the weight of the characteristic related to individual's mobility in the description of I(p) is very low, etc.
The weights of the individual characteristics in I(f) relate to the description of personality that the individual wants to change into, therefore the membership function of I(f) is not of statistical nature, that is, not based on observations of the individual's behaviour.
Definition: Two fuzzy classes defined on the same universe of discourse are comparable, if and only if the same underlying procedure has been used for the assignment of their membership functions.
Proposition: Only comparable classes
can be changed into one another.
The proof is straightforward: there is no other way to reveal the differences between two fuzzy classes (and thus to see what kind of changes one of the classes undergoes when transforming into another class), except by comparing them. If the both classes are defined on the same universe of discourse, the comparison is between the ways (procedures) used for the assignment of their membership functions.
Corollary: I(p) cannot be changed
The proof follows from the Proposition: the fuzzy classes I(p) and I(f) are not comparable. The membership function of I(p) is assigned on the basis of actual observations of the behaviour of the individual, while the assignment of the membership function of I(f) is based on mere speculations about an imaginary (unreal, ideal. desirable) image the individual constructs about himself (herself).
How many times gamblers, alcoholics, smokers or drug abusers express their willingness to change and promise that 'tomorrow' they will become other kinds of persons free from the destructive (and often fatal) attachments! The more they try to become 'other kinds of persons', the stronger their attachments; if some succeeds in 'changing' for a while, then the fatal attachment explodes again in more drastic and destructive way.
Gestalt psychologists are convinced that the change can occur if one becomes fully conscious of what s/he is at the present moment and not of what s/he is not. "Change does not take place through a coercive attempt by the individual or by another person to change him, but it does take place if one takes the time and efforts to be what he is... By rejecting the role of change agent, we make meaningful and orderly change possible... The natural state of man is a single whole being - not fragmented into two or more opposite parts. In the natural state, there is a constant change based on the dynamic transaction between the self and the environment (Beisser, 1971).
In the context of Proposition and Corollary above, the change of I(p) into I(f) can become reality, if the membership function of I(f) has been assigned using the same technique as that used for I(p), that is, on the basis of real-life experiential evidences and not on hypothetical, deliberately assigned 'desired' values. Such evidences can be obtained only if the long-term observations of the individual behaviour confirm that a genuine sustainable change has occurred in the individual's life. Is such a kind of change possible?
The amazing results demonstrated by using the approach of Alcoholic Anonymous (Drug Anonymous, etc.) confirm that change can happen when the addicted accept what they are, stop fighting against themselves but deepen and sharpen their self-awareness instead, their alertness and vigilance in relation to the situation in which they are here and now, and not in which they want to move in the future.
www.identitytheory.com/spirit/selfreliance.htmlBeing only "the concept of symbiosis of a group of people", society is incapable to be aware of itself and therefore unable to advance. Emerson once wrote: "Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration" (quoted from Emerson's essay "Self-reliance" written in 1841 and available at: www.identitytheory.com/spirit/selfreliance.html).
3. Understanding Synchronicities
The Observer Effect in quantum physics implies that human participation is fundamental in the existence of matter; it is indispensable for the transformation of the fuzzy fields of possibilities, tendencies and propensities, through which the existential dynamics manifest at the quantum core of the universe, into actual effects and materialized outcomes.
There is an essential correspondence between the process of thinking of an individual (observer, participant, actor, agent) and the spread-our fields (waves) of possibilities. "The spread out waves correspond to us before we decide what to do. Imagine that we are thinking of doing different things. In our minds we entertain possibilities, that is, the function of our understanding is to think about things before we do them. We 'entertain' or consider possibilities - so the wave pattern in physics is 'like' us when we are entertaining multiple possibilities" (Thompson, 2002).
"will (motivation, drives, inspiration) - thinking (contemplating, understanding, knowing) - experience (actions, effects, changes)"
in the individual experiential space is isomorphic to the triad
"active energy - wavers of possibilities (tendencies) - actual outcomes"
in the physical space.
The process of thinking can be mapped (modelled) through a dynamic series of fuzzy classes, the membership functions of which re-emerge and change in parallel with the deepening of one's understanding of oneself, nature and society through concentration and meditation upon the flow of one's experience. In a similar way, models based on fuzzy classes can describe the fuzzy fields of possibilities in the physical space. From quantum physics we know that the matter/energy does not exist with certainty in definite places, but rather shows possibilities (tendencies) to exist; it is the observer (participant, actor) who tries to fix the location.
The question: "How can a 'fuzzy swarm' of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, aspiration, etc. in an individual's experiential space lead to a specific action?" corresponds to the question "How can a 'fuzzy cloud' of possibilities, tendencies and propensities in the all-embracing quantum space of the universe lead to a specific outcome?"
The phenomenon of synchronicity demonstrates the way in which the link between mind and matter/energy work in the form of meaningful coincidence of two or more events which seem causally unrelated to one another (Faber, 1998).
The names of two great researchers are at the origin of the scientific study of this phenomenon: the psychologists Carl Jung and the physicist Wolfgang Pauli; they both agreed that the "meaningful coincidences are unthinkable as pure chances" (Jung) and that "there must be something else" beyond the pure chance (Pauli). We try to explain this "something else" with the help of fuzziology applied to the study of fuzzy classes, no matter what their origins are - in the 'inner' or the 'outer' world of the individual; the most important is the participation of the individual - the thinker, the observer, the actor.
The explanation we offer is simple; it resonates with Hesenberg's profound thought that "the same regulating forces that have created nature in all its forms are responsible for the structure of our psyche and also for our capacity to think" (Heisenberg, 1971). Synchronicity is associated with moments of intensive individual experience, that is, an experience underlined by saturated-with-energy activity, be it physical, emotional or mental. The individual life is full of such kind of experiences - creative work, ruptures of inspirations, bursts of emotions, focused mental efforts, deep spiritual experience, etc.
Any saturated-with-energy activity multiplies the weight of the first elements in each of the both isomorphic triads - the individual triad "will (motivation, drives, inspiration) - thinking (contemplating, understanding, knowing) - experience (actions, effects, changes)" and the universal triad "active energy - wavers of possibilities (tendencies) - actual outcomes". As Heisenberg pointed out, nature does not select one kind of energies (forces) for humans and another kind - for the rest of the universe; it is one all-pervading flow of energy capable of producing effects at different levels of existence. The increase of the weight of the energy element in the first triad immediately mirrors in a corresponding increase of the energy element in the second triad, which activates the waves of possibilities up to a degree that they become capable of producing actual outcomes. And this is exactly what the synchronicity is about: an emergent thought or choice of a person A coincides meaningfully with a specific outcome produced at the physical plane of existence by nature, society or by another person B. The word "meaningful" simply means that the produced outcome carries a specific meaning for A.
The author of this paper has innumerable experiences of synchronicities. Below are described two types of synchronicities experienced by the authors.
The first type relates to synchronicities triggered by my conscious mental efforts. For example, some time ago I wanted very much to meet a person (say A); my heart was full of deep loving feelings towards A, but I knew neither A's address not telephone number. (At that time I lived in a capital city of million inhabitants.) I left my house, walked for about 15 min. and then took a tram, without a slightest idea where A could be. My willingness (the energy element of the first triad described in the previous section) to meet A was extremely strong and hence my thinking (the second element of the triad) - saturated with energy and focused entirely on one specific thought only - to meet A. The fuzzy class underlying my thinking seemed to "collapse" in one single alternative only. After travelling by train for a while, I alighted and went to a station where many buses used to stop. I caught the first bus to come; when I entered in, I saw A there. So, the 'meaningful coincidence' of synchronicity suddenly happened. My intensive mental efforts resulted in an actual outcome in the physical reality.
The second type relates to synchronicities emerging without a special intention to trigger them. For example, once I was under enormous pressure to prepare myself for a very important exam on maths - the exam decisive for me becoming a student in a prestigious university in another country. Usually, the mathematical problems given at that kind of exams are difficult and the competition is severe. I had only a small amount of days for preparation, so I randomly selected problems from different book, but mostly from one big book containing thousands of problems (the book was written in the language of the country where I wanted to study in). One problem took me quite a long time and mental efforts to solve it, but I persisted and found the solution. What was my amazement, when I saw on the day of the exam that absolutely the same problem (word-in-word, number-in-number) was given to all the candidates! Of course, when preparing for the exam, I had absolutely no will to consciously affect the choice of the problems; my will was only to succeed, because, as i imagined at that time, this woul open for me the academic way for studying, understanding, knowing. I was thirsty for knowledge and wisdom, and not in acquisition of money or power. My intensive thinking concentrated on solving as much as possible randomly selected problems has affected the 'waves of possibilities' in the physical reality so as to bring an outcome (practically realized by people absolutely unknown to me) that I dream for. Like in the previous case, the fuzzy classes underlying my mental navigation through an almost infinite field of possibilities led me to a choice that meaningfully coincided with the choice made by the organizers of the exam.
The experiential studies show that for synchronicity to emerge, individual dynamics must be:
(a) in a critical state impregnated with a significant amount of active energy (physical, emotional, mental or/and spiritual) generated by the individual;
(b) focused (concentrated) in an issue of a particular importance for the individual life and growth;
(c) open to the infinitum of the existential dynamics, which implies also freedom from the selfish drive of the individual's ego.
If one's psyche is eaten by 'worms' of egotism and selfishness, if one's mind is locked into a narrow claustrophobic space of only personal interests, without active exchange with the existential dynamics - the dynamics of nature, society and the universe, if the flow of energy is not centred through one's own capacity for concentration, contemplation and meditation, then the synchronicities pass by unnoticed. Without seeing synchronicities and experiencing their power, without extracting lessons from them and trying to understand the meaning of these lessons, one cannot advance in wisdom. And without wisdom, one can easily be turned into a helpless victim of the social apoptosis - the programmed self-destruction of human society as a result of its inability to learn from its mistakes and to evolve.
This paper describes socio-ecological applications of fuzziology - the study of fuzziness of knowing - for understanding both the changes in human nature and the phenomenon of synchronicity. A special accent is placed on the important role this understanding plays for human suvival on the planet.