23 September 2009

Object-Reality Interdependence

Filed under: Ktismata, Psychology — ktismatics @ 1:53 am

Developmental systems theory emphasizes the interrelationships of organisms and environments. Genes aren’t regarded as predetermined trajectories that will inevitably unfold unless some environmental glitch gets in the way. Rather, genes and environments interact in complex ways, leading to any number of outcomes. The same genotype can manifest itself in very different ways phenotypically depending on variations in the local situation. Individual organisms don’t develop in isolation as autonomous entities; they must occupy a particular niche within their species, their local community, their family. Environmental variables like climate fluctuation, food scarcity, and population densities of one’s own species as well as predator/prey species can exert profound effects on the individual organism’s life course. But organisms don’t just adapt to their environments. Organisms actively shape their environments, building nests, laying down trails, pollenating plants, affecting the populations of predator/prey animals in the vicinity. While many kinds of organisms might share a common space, they don’t really share a common environment. Features of the world that afford safety and nourishment for one species might present a threat to another species while being met with complete indifference by a third species. In short, neither the organism nor the environment can be considered in isolation; they are interdependent.

The same sorts of insights hold for objects and realities. Objects aren’t hard-programmed to become that which their component parts and primal causative forces predetermine them to be. They follow idiosyncratic trajectories, based to a large degree on local differences in the texture of the reality they occupy. Each object is different from every other object. Still, objects do cluster themselves into categories that reflect real shared similarities with one another and real systematic differences from other kinds of objects. While all objects occupy the same material universe, they don’t all occupy the same reality. Some objects are affected by differentiating forces to which other objects remain invulnerable. Similarly, different kinds of objects can effect different kinds of differences in their surroundings. If an object is a “difference that makes a difference,” then a reality for that object consists of those sorts of differentiating forces in which it participates. A real object and the reality it occupies are interdependent.



  1. Great. Following Gregory Bateson, “a difference that makes a difference” is not an object: regarding to his views “a difference that makes a difference is a bit of information”. So this is to say that we can`t have access to things themselves, we can only have access to their correspondent idea, to the idea of their idea, i.e. to their proper transformations, impacts and forces, and therefore, to the differences that pass through a differential circuit of differenciation. As far as i understand Bateson`s deutero-learnship, this circuit leads to different levels of experiencing environments, as we can get adapted to them only by taking into account not objects and their problems, but their “class” or type. To this matter Bateson follows Korzybski, in the sense that all we can experience and understand is deferred from its reality as language is always indirect to its own self. The class or type of problems that it may present to our experience and that are meant to be experimented through different environments, are always “more” than the class or the type of problems that we have already learnt. This means that the differential circuit would always get into differential patterns and to differential intensities to be equalized & ionized meanwhile they are embodied through experience.

    Those were my two cents to the question :-P


    Comment by adr — 23 September 2009 @ 3:43 am

  2. […] Object-Reality Interdependence […]

    Pingback by Conversación en Ktismatics « — 23 September 2009 @ 3:52 am

  3. Thanks for the interaction, adr. Agreed: a stable and orderly pattern of matter/energy/etc. that differentiates it from its surroundings is “a difference that makes a difference.” And this pattern can be received as information by other things in the surroundings. Is it meaningful to speak of information transmittal in an environment/reality where there are no receivers? Does Bateson talk about this?

    It’s possible to receive information that’s being unintentionally transmitted; e.g., the cat recognizes the mouse as prey even though the mouse has no intention of announcing itself. And it’s possible to transmit information that’s not received, e.g., presumably, the human search for extraterrestrial intelligence. I suspect I’m falling into an intentionality trap here, though. In a sense we could speak of the sun and the earth sharing information with each other about relative mass, velocity, momentum, etc., then using this information to negotiate a specific orbit for the earth.

    Some of the more scientifically-inclined realists (Ladyman and Ross, Meillassou, Brsssier) are looking to mathematically-describable patterns as the foundation for material reality. These patterns actually exist in the universe, absent anyone or anything to decipher those patterns. In our interpretation, then, pattern isn’t just a thing or a property of a thing in and of itself, but also the differentiation between that pattern and the surrounding void or chaos or contrasting patterns. I’m sympathetic with this view, I think it’s reasonable to equate pattern/chaos with signal/noise in semiotics. The object is distinguishable only in a reality from which it is intrinsically differentiable, and this distinction can be described in terms of information transmitted, albeit unintentionally, between the object and its surrounding reality.

    Then, as you suggest, it would be possible to characterize different realities as zones or fields within the larger material universe in which particular kinds of information are the differentiators. In a gravitational reality, for example, the various kinds of things and people that populate the earth aren’t important; only mass matters.

    Humans send and receive all sorts of specialized information like language. That’s why something like a fictional character is real: the character constitutes a stable pattern of information transmitted in books and films and received by readers/viewers.

    Bateson is also the guy who came up with the double-bind theory of schizophrenia, which is a favorite concept of our mutual friend Dejan.

    Comment by john doyle — 23 September 2009 @ 7:19 am

  4. Your welcome!

    I would like just to extend what I can understand about Bateson`s views as they are very interesting to this matters, although they are still very rigidly posed regarding to theory of systems and cybernetics. First of all, i have to make the clarification that, as i remind it, when Bateson says that a difference that makes a difference is a bit of information, he is referring to a “bit” more like a particle or a minimum of data that passes through the circuit, this is, as a flow of differenciation given between systems in the middle of their assemblage. This is to say that, while it may be needed a receiver to traduce such minimum data, the impacts and the forces or events that imply the process will remain on their course (this is like saying that the systems do not have, as their primary goal, the reception of the differences that they produce, as these differences are already “happening”). The receiver would be more like the mere consequence of an effect through the process. So information is not meant to be transmitted as such, it just happens right through the interjection of systems. The fact that there may be entities to receive this information in order to codify and be qualified by their own difference and by their own given difference, is something that has less to do with the process: its just the effect of the process, as this process is simply occurring and forming, deforming, and transforming such entities as the matter of fact that animates their own materiality. So the information resulted must be seen as a part of the existence of such entities, as it is meant to in-form their existence, but not as part of the dynamics of the system that incidentally produce the process that differenciates them as such. Entities may also not be pretty aware of such transformations, as they are inserted in the environment (the system) that gives sense to their differenciations and that leads them also to “be” a part of such a system (this does not mean that the system would crash without them, as all systems are always a part of other systems that are bigger and therefore capable to contend any differenciation or pattern).

    What happens in between these dynamic-system-insertions, is what Bateson calls a “mind” or a “mentality”. Just to bring here one of his examples: he says, for instance, that a computer can be a mentality while it is inserted in the intellectual system of a biological system that is inserted in an environmental system of a climate system that is inserted in a planetary system of a solar system inserted in the cosmological system of a universal system of systems (and, all these systems are processing the differenciations of such a mentality, as they are also capable to contend, in respect to their different levels or circuits, the information that such mentality needs to exist). Of course this is very batesonian LOL. (btw, in his book Chaosmosis, Guattari refers to Bateson as one of the first deterritorialized thinkers to think the notion of deterrorialization, although his cybernetics insights were still very anthopocentric).

    So, trying to respond to your question, I think that it can only be meaningful to speak of information from the point of view of the receiver, but the receiver is fully dependent of the process where it is inserted as an entity. Information is the difference that makes a difference that happens between the systems where the entity that receives and bolds such difference is inserted. So there is no intentionality here: if an entity is up to interfere with its process, or would pretend to change the system produced by it, it will only interrupt it or block it, in the sense that its own intentionality would be against it, though without bringing any substantial change into the system, and without changing the transformations impacts and forces that give sense to what in fact the entity “really is” through the process implied by such system. What it may change is the reception and codification of the information that is traduced in respect of their own process of differenciation. I guess that this (in)differentiation is what we may call “volition”. We can say that volition and its subsequent interference always would double-bind the process of differenciation and would block the flows of the differential circuit. “This happens actually because volition and the double bind situations that it implies, are also a component of the way humans biological systems learn, or to say, of the way the have learnt to learn.

    But at the end of the his life, Bateson gave a final definition of a double bind situation, and this definition resolves what clinically is still known as a sort of schizophrenic process: he stated that the double bind situation is related to the way that human biological systems are meant to learn to unlearn what they have learnt, and this points out to take learnship into a further level of experiencie to experiencie the surrounding enviroments where they are inserted in as such. This should be taken so far as the heart of his ecological take, of his ecology of the mind. “Of course, this shall be something of interest to everyone, even to Dejan ;-)

    Comment by Naxos — 24 September 2009 @ 12:35 am

  5. […] 24 September 2009 @ 2:45 am […]

    Pingback by Conversación en Ktismatics « — 24 September 2009 @ 12:46 am

  6. I inserted the corrections in the original comment per your instructions, Naxos — hopefully I got it right. I also deleted the comments containing your corrections, so as not to confuse people looking for errors that no longer exist in the text. I’ll read and comment later.

    Comment by john doyle — 24 September 2009 @ 4:58 am

  7. I think that understanding how Bateson’s “difference that makes a difference” relates to information is central to these questions. As Naxos observed, this “difference” is really just defining a “bit” or single smallest component in the organization, pattern, arrangement, encoding or any other non-random distribution of matter or energy that is emergent from the particular differences. Just as we think of matter as being made of elementary particles, information is made of these “difference” pieces, but the individual pieces don’t have the emergent properties of information as neg-entropy. Difference exists in randomness, it only makes a information when it “makes a difference” by being a part of an arrangement, pattern or encoding. Matter and energy contain information to the extent that they are not random. This is independent of any detection, reception or perception of the information, and these processes are themselves products of information, and processing information. Hope this helps :)


    Comment by Gerald Hall — 24 September 2009 @ 8:44 am

  8. Thanks for the further clarifications, Naxos and Gerald. When information is defined in this way — as differences in the streams or arrays of bits, intrinsic to the object itself, rather than in terms of communicative intent or reception — then it’s possible to speak of information in a realist sense. Awhile back I had a discussion with Nick at Speculative Heresy about whether information, not as individual bits but as patterns of bits, could be said to exist in the object itself without the information being interpreted in some way. I was skeptical: many patterns can be extracted from a single element or matrix of data, but most of them prove spurious. Still, even if most patterns turn out to be noise, some patterns turn out to be “signal.”

    Scientists aren’t imposing structures on the data artificially; they’re separating signal from noise intrinsic to the observed phenomena. The empirical assumption is that actually observed phenomena comprise a subset of the real, such that the observed and the unobserved aren’t fundamentally different from each other. Notoriously, some phenomena are altered with the act of observation, but so far it seems that quantum phenomena are an exception and not normative.

    Naxos, from your description I wondered if Bateson is pan-psychist. I.e., even if there are no intentional transmitters and receivers of information, the universe itself is a vast communication chamber. This is the question about Deleuze and Guattari as well: is the primal multiplicity that generates differences and lines of flight, schizzes and flows, to be thought of as a kind of immanent Intelligence that permeates the universe?

    Comment by john doyle — 24 September 2009 @ 1:16 pm

    • Hi John

      I don`t like to label the thought of a thinker because for me it can only trouble the understanding of his work. It is useful for other kind of practical questions that for me are somehow unnecessary. So I will not be or pretend to be the one to say rightfully anything about that matter, as my way of appropriation is already coined with a different intention and approximation. This consideration is not something personal, it is just the way thought is meant to be deterritorialized, so labeling or trending an author is related to another kind of movement that it presents for me as a regression and therefore I am not willing to exercise. I just want to make this very clear and straight, while there is no intention to be harsh or to dismiss your worries.

      What i can say is that in the case of Bateson the problem implied was really never solved for him: he tried to give response to it using Jung`s insights regarding to the pleroma/creatura question. This question leaded him to think such problem, but he never took a concrete standpoint, so for him the problem was not solved. But this is not to say, of course, that he did not solved because of his incompetence, all the contrary: we can take for sure that if he did not solved this matters was either because we don`t have the way to solve them, or because they are not *meant* to be solved (this might be like saying that the problem is deeply related with *meant*). By non taking a standpoint Bateson is given the proper sense to the question, so far: that this problem is the hugest asylum ignorantie of all times for human intelligence, and mostly for scientists. With his non standpoint he suggested that non of the scientific realities that we know so far would solve it. So he gave a lot of anecdotal winks to think that the problem is still not well put, that we *really* don`t have the ways to put it well, and to formulate it in the proper sense.

      One of this anecdotal winks is related to his experience with LSD. He said that he experienced LSD just once but personally i find this hard to believe (that`s my very personal and intimate hunch). The important issue to this matter is that he did admitted that he used it once, and to my mind this admission needs to be taken as a complement or a wink to the unsolved problems that we are speaking here. The anecdote is that when he took LSD, while seeing a carnationand hallucinated on it -i cant remember the details, sorry- he said to the person that was with him something like: “This is trivial”. We can say that what ever he was experimenting then was just the way he thought that thought would access to objects and entities without any *real* codification, this is, the way that thought would access to their transformations, impacts and forces (so, if it is trivial is because we can access to them just as they present to our experiencie as patterns and flowing differences). Once again, there is no reason to think that he was naive to this question.

      Hope this will help.


      Comment by adr — 24 September 2009 @ 3:17 pm

  9. […] 24 September 2009 @ 5:18 am […]

    Pingback by Conversación en Ktismatics « — 24 September 2009 @ 3:19 pm

  10. Bateson sounds like a fascinating character. I understand your reluctance to label Bateson as panpsychist — being agnostic regarding the existence of an immanent Mind is an acceptable position, it seems to me. Thanks for the insights, adr.

    Comment by john doyle — 24 September 2009 @ 4:31 pm

    • Just as a final thought i would like to say that Bateson`s thought keeps on pointing out to the question that those things that are unknown could be known if we learn how to know them, or if we learn how to unlearn the things that we have already learnt about them. I don`t know if this is worth to say that he is agnostic, i guess not. To my mind, the fact that we cannot access to objects or to entities just as they are (or to their *being*) and the fact that we can only access to their transformations instead, if so, it is a condition of knowledge and not its limit. Thanks for the great conversation ;-)

      Comment by Naxos — 24 September 2009 @ 7:50 pm

  11. […] 24 September 2009 @ 9:53 pm […]

    Pingback by Conversación en Ktismatics « — 24 September 2009 @ 7:55 pm

  12. Naxos the last time I dedicated some thought to Bateson was CORALINE, the 3D animation about the little girl who lands down the rabbit hole in a parallel reality in which she experiences the double bind – image of her parents. The film was interesting because it faced you with the threat of the monstrous Mother, whose power is NETWORKED (visually repreented as a spider’s web). As a passionate bottom Deleuze understood the voraciousness of his ass, and how things tend to get out of control once you relieve the Objects of the Phallus and throw them in that diffuse web of WIMMERN POWER.

    Other than that what you describe about the communication process made me think of the PArody Center, where for a long time I experienced things coming out of accidental connections. I am not sure however that these are not directed, because I have mostly been orchestrating the show from the shadows without some participants even being aware of it, or maybe participating in my fascination consciously with the processes accidentally set in motion. In this experience I would say that the accidental connections create difference, but I am not getting a provost’s salary to work this out philosophically, so you can do it yourself or alternatively Eloise Doyle will do it for free – she’s also unemployed at the moment.

    Eloise the Narcissistic Cat is misbehaving again, not responding to questions or responding very selectively, which means I have to do something with the plot of the comic book that will wake her out of her narcissistic slumber.

    Comment by the voice of parodic reason — 29 September 2009 @ 9:08 pm

  13. Orchestrating the show? Interesting.

    I admit that I’ve become captivated by this whole object-oriented ontology phenomenon. Partly the topic grabs my own innate abstract nerdiness, but I’m sure it’s also a function of desiring the desire of the other, of getting caught up in the popular enthusiasm. Though I’m not at all well-read philosophically, I find that the subject matter is amenable both to flights of fancy and to systematic analysis, both of which I enjoy. Strip away the fancy prose and the references to unfamiliar sources, and I find I can think these things through pretty well. Still, I don’t resent not being referenced by the OOO blog consolidators guild, since it lets me preserve my amateur status.

    I must, however, begin actively resisting the allure if I’m going to resume my psychological and fictional explorations. I suppose I could investigate the psychology of inanimate objects, but that seems best left to animation.

    Regarding the misbehavior, I’m starting to catch the scent of fear…

    Comment by john doyle — 29 September 2009 @ 10:02 pm

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