DIALECTICAL SYMBOLISM

by Hugh M. Lewis

 

Symbols may stand for themselves as well as each other and for other things of relative significance in the human environment. Symbols have both a substantial, empirical basis in physical reality, by being embodied within some 'thing' or set of things which come to literally represent the symbol and its associated significances. Symbols also have a metaphysical 'essence' which phenomenologically and experientially transcends their corporeal substance and figuratively represent the things they stand for. Thus symbols and symbolisms stand between heaven and earth, the physical and the metaphysical, and mind and body--and it is their function to 'inter-integrate' and mediate these two different and otherwise separate kinds of reality. Thus symbolisms provide a sense of unity and integration to human reality in a very basic kind of way. And we can look at the separate realities of Man as but the two sides of the same symbolic coin of human reality and thus understand that while we believe our feet are planted firmly in one kind of reality and our head is obscured in the clouds of another, we are actually only in a single kind of human reality which is preeminently symbolic and usually two sided. Seeing a single, whole, un-dichotomized symbolic human reality, we no longer need to be so vexed by the dilemmas and illusions of being simultaneously in two separate realities at once.

It is the substantial human physicality of the things which stand for our symbols and the ethereal insubstantiality of the things which our symbols stand for, that lead us to such chronic confusion over symbols, ideas and things. It is sometimes difficult to fathom the ideology that regards a gigantic arsenal of nuclear warheads with their promise of total devastation as primarily of non-substantial symbolic value. They exist not so much as weapons of potential or actual destruction, but as symbols of power, control, mutually assured deterrence, strength and even perennial peace. They have been allowed into our lives primarily as symbols of the kind of political economic authority they represent and this is how their otherwise incredible and horrible presence has become fostered into our lives. They stand forever poised as both our weapons of ultimate force and as out symbols of ultimate power.

Automobiles are another example of objects of possession and control which are primarily symbolic embodiments of our personal mobility, status, success, power and freedom, and yet which we habitually even compulsively use as functional vehicles for transportation. In this case, the fossil fuel automobile has become a predominant cornerstone of our collective modern existence as symbolisms of technological and industrial dominance and success over our physical environments--inspite of the fact that they are dangerous, polluting, expensive and ecologically unaffordable. They have become the mainstay of our modern lives not so much because they are symbols of the success of progress, but because they functionally mediate our physical environments, whether we really need them or not. They have become symbolically foisted upon our collective imagination because they have become a real physical need of modern Homo automobiles.

It is the failure to understand that our realities, whether ideological or material, are primarily and ultimately symbolic, that leads us to mistakenly identify as inevitable matters of fact such things as nuclear missiles and petro-powered cars.

Dialectical symbolism is a central theory in the culture historical studies of the developmental processes of human civilization, explaining how the dynamics of social movement, cultural change and historical patterning function in a self organizing but predictable way. It is a systematic theory about mind, how it works and the ways it becomes manifest in the civilizing processes of culture history. It is a theory explaining how mindness as culture historical frames of mind, has become expressed symbolically and dialectically in the evolution and ecology of mind. It outlines this evolutionary and ecological process of development of mind as the central thesis of the study of culture history.

Dialectical symbolism stands Marx back upon his head--it converts Marxism political economy and materialistic arguments back to an Hegelian unfolding of Geist or Idea, except that it is not a theory of the progressive immanation of Spirit, but holds the notion of the dialectics of symbolism as the principle form and function of the expression of human mind--all symbolisms leaves substantively real, epi-phenomenal 'things in the world' which can become 'objects' of scientific verification and all symbolisms has pragmatic, adaptive function in the empirical world which serves to scientifically explain itself.

The gradual but increasing rapid, even explosive, emergence of global human civilization is seen as an inevitable, mathematical outcome of a long term process of the structuring of many different but interrelated processes of patterned human phenomena. Given enough time and the relatively irreversible character of many kinds of changes, the self organizing critical state made up of many local culture historical processes of change.

The unfolding of mind has been a dialectical process--its main thesis has always embodied its own contradictions which eventual leads, through environmental change, to its self transformation. As a dialectic it is always a synthesizing reality which transcends itself through the fusion of opposites--it is a never ending process of revolution and resolution about a central, common axis of directional change. The synthetic transcendence of this continuous dialectical counterpoint is never an inevitable outcome of this contrapuntal movement--it is the power of metaphor as vital symbolism to combine contradictory opposites as if a single unity, but this is always outside of the main axis of movement of the dialectic.

It is a movement from thesis to antithesis and back to a new thesis without a necessary sense of progressive fulfillment or realization. The dialectics simply describe the resultant patterning of the social movement of symbolization about directional axis of transition and change. The movement characteristically turns about a central axis and describes an undulating, to and fro, cyclical movement of change through time and across space.

Besides being essentially self organized and non-progressive, the dialectics of symbolism are also complex in being multi-modal and multi-thematic. Unlike the 'simple' dialectics of dialectical materialism in which there is a single axis of movement, dialectical symbolism involves the multiple movements about several axis of structural change simultaneously--and these multiple axis of change are interrelated one with another such that there is a net synergistic patterning of the entire process of developmental unfolding. It is this synergism which confers upon the patterning of culture historical process a 'life of its own' independent of its separable or component patterns. We cannot understand the total dialectic merely by analyzing the separate movements of each of its axis of change--the whole dialectic can only be understood by revealing how each axis is interrelated to the others and how the functioning of each is interdependent with the functioning of the others.

Dialectical symbolism substitutes for the basic materialism as the driving motto of Marx's theory the basic pan human reality of symbolism and symbolization as the focal 'prime mover' of culture historical process. The principle mode of expression of mind has been metaphorical and symbolic--and it is from the starting point of the metaphor as the basic symbol of mind that we are to understand its process, purpose and pattern of development. The pan human processes of symbolization which 'drive' this complex dialectic of culture history give to change the sense of patterned form--the regularity we associate with stability--symbolisms are the vessels and vehicles which contain and carry change. symbolization does not so much energize culture historical process, so much as channelize the available human energies and potentialities into focal directions of development. It harnesses these forces around the central axis of change. symbols carry significance which mobilizes people into action and metabolizes social systems to change. the function of symbolization is primarily organizational--it interrelates and articulates otherwise disparate elements in order to provide an overarching continuity to change and action.

Symbolism organizes not only our metaphysical sense of world view or mindness, but our physical representational worlds as well. Symbolism intermediates our two worlds--the life of mind and our experience of the environment.

Dialectical symbolism also integrates in the study of culture history the different levels of analysis and synthesis, the general and the particular, the universal and the individual. It shows how the pan human problematics of mind are expressed and mediated on an everyday level of the individual within larger contexts of relational sets. It shows that the fundamental symbolic process is identical at every level of analysis and helps to confer a sense of theoretical and philosophical unity to the whole range of realities, from experiential to the conceptual.

Dialectical symbolism thus focuses the brunt and burden of culture historical process, of change, of civilization, upon the understanding of the individual in daily interaction with other people. It shows how relative context is always generally defined in metaphorical terms and how this context always symbolically influences the attitudes, orientations and actions of the individual. It does so neither through passive constraint or predetermination--the symbolic dialectic on the level of the individual's reality is always one of continuous negotiation, compromise, transaction, give and take, and contingency with ever changing complex environments.

Dialectical symbolism is in a sense a complete theoretical orientation which qualifies it as a systematic 'science' of culture history--its symbolic referents have a real, scientifically amenable basis in empirical reality--but it is simultaneously something more than this in also being a metaphysical and metalogical philosophical orientation which informs such scientific theory--it asks ultimate questions and seeks relative answers.

 

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Dialectical symbolism is dialectical in the sense of encompassing a movement of mind from thesis to antithesis and back again through synthetic transcendence, and yet the process is non-revolutionary in the sense that there is no sense of governing necessity or purpose in its development. Mind is not immanent or emergent from the dialectic, rather it is only the result of the patterning of the dialectic. The movement of the dialectic from thesis to counterpoint and back again, and the transformations it involves, are always relative and relationally contextualized. It is the total set of universal relations of mind which is evolving in an anti-entropic, directional sense, in the process of its working out of its own possibilities and it is this evolving context which accounts for the sense of transcendent development of the dialectic within any given provenience.

Only in a universal sense is mind developing--in a local culture historical context mind is simply changing in a less than more random way. Though mind is evolving in a universal sense, we in our local frames of mindness cannot ever know in any non-relative way that general direction or how this evolution is occurring except to vaguely sense and infer its directionality and systematicity from a broader sense of history and the changes of mind in the so called structure of the long run. We can redefine our understanding of this 'evolution of mind' from the ecological changes which have come from it, but we can never conclusively prove that mind is evolving or what its ultimate direction or purpose is.

The evolution of mind is not a metaphysical phenomena--but it is a physical process of transformation which is experienced perceptively through the senses. Mind is the potential total possibility of self organized relational patterning of humankind in the physical universe. The brain and its abstract functioning, the electronic super computer, DNA and cultural transmission, exist in the world because mind exists as the expression of the patterning of mind. As self organizing principles and properties of the physical universe, its patterning is 'dumb' in a random, non-reflexive sense, and yet its evolution is based upon an inherent 'anti-entropic' tendency to maintain a weakly chaotic sense of order in the face of natural disorder and randomization. It came into being as a statistical possibility of the long run, as the epi-phenomena of a unique concatenation of 'forces' or 'events' which lead to its self sustained growth and development.

In our limited and local framework we are forced to accept the possibility of mind on the basis of a grand leap of faith, without the possibility of conclusive demonstration and yet without it we cannot achieve a coherent sense of order in the experiential universe of our collective being.

 

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Dialectical symbolism is a theoretical orientation based upon Hegelian dialectics applied to the evolution of symbolism as the principle process of human culture historical development. It is neither strictly a form of philosophical idealism nor a brand of materialism--symbols are partly ideational and always materially expressed. Symbolism cohere naturally to form 'synergism' of mind which embody contradictions of beingness and non-beingness and which transcends these contradictions in their own development.

Dialectical symbolisms is the central theoretical orientations of culture history. The human being is by definition a symbolizing creatures--it is an essential and vital part of our nature and character. Symbolizing is a 'need' just like the needs of breathing, drinking water or nutrition--without it we must perish as something less than fully human. Neither can we distance ourselves from its omnipresence in our worlds nor separate ourselves from its ultimate sense of realism. Symbolism confers upon our reality an indivisible unity, and it brings to our sense of realism the possibility for its own dichotomization.

The dialectic of symbolism is developmental, but it is non-progressive and always incomplete. It revolves and resolves itself around central directional axis of change in the unfolding of mind as an objective of time, reality of beingness in the world. This central axis is that of time, and it is irreversible in an absolute, non-relative sense. Our measure of change as time is the measure of the duration of all things which have been and will ever be. The dialectics of symbolism has as its basis the spatial mediation of time--mind is the spatialization of time in human consciousness.

The symbolic spatialization of time is expressed as beingness in the world--we know it as 'experience'. Mind thus becomes expressible in terms of and through our experience of the world. The construction of culture and the process of civilization is the expression of the realization of our experience of mind--culture and civilization become symbolically patterned in their unfolding dialectics in the form of mind. As symbolic process, the development of civilization becomes the patterning of the function of mind.

The dialectics of symbolism become experienced cyclically, as recursive patterning and revolution about the axis of time.

All symbolisms have as their ultimate referents the representation of time as the formal/functional mediators of change. its spatialized manifestations are the expression of its beingness in the world--of the human experience of the world.

Dialectical symbolisms integrates and idealist versions of reality, and through integration transcends its own inherent contradictions.

 

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Many natural communication systems contain symbolisms however mechanical or rudimentary. But it has been only humankind of all the species of nature who have developed the capacity for the spontaneous creation of symbolisms, their generalizations and metaphorical elaboration. Symbols encompass human reality complete. All things and acts which are primarily functional in the human world are also always symbolic but not all symbolisms are necessarily functional or pragmatic in any concrete sense. Sometimes they occur for a purely symbolic purposes, or spontaneously happen for no apparent reason at all.

 

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Symbols intermediate between the ideational constructs of the human mind and the many physical signs occurring in the environment--they are the synthesis of this intermediation, always having analytically an ideational component and a sign set. It may also be said that ideas are the synthesis of the dialectic between symbols as such and signs, and signs are what remains once we've removed ideas from symbols. This informs a kind of complex dialectic in which each may be a synthesis of the other two components. Mind thinks symbolically and dialectically--deduction is the inference of signs and/or symbols from the dialectic between ideas and symbols. Induction is the synthesis of ideas from the conjunction and signs and symbolisms. Symbolic abduction is the derivation of a symbol from the dialectic between ideas and signs. Another way of putting this is to refer to ideas as general metaphysical concepts and signs as particular, metonymical percepts. The intermediate level consists of metaphorical symbolisms.

Symbolic development underwent a critical shift in orientation, from extensiveness of mind to intensiveness of world view, when symbols went from being based upon primitive ideas rooted in signs of the natural environment to being based upon derivative signs based upon independently existing ideas. The environment became transformed from being one of a field of natural signs to one of a socio-cultural construction of conceptual signs as reified ideas. Symbols switched from being 'sign oriented' to being 'idea oriented'. The function of symbols shifted from a general purpose mechanicalness to a special purpose organismic orientation.

'Signs/symbols/ideas' like 'mind/language/culture' is in fact an integral, singly unified reality. The categories are useful analytical divisions which in fact describe a single complex process of mind as an unfolding stream of collective human consciousness within environmental contexts. It describes the dialectic of mind in terms of how mind creates itself--tracing the movement of 'meaning' between intensive center and extensive environment. There is no way of clearly separating exactly what a sign is from a symbol or what an idea is without reference to some symbolic sign. Signs, symbols and ideas do not have exclusively concise boundaries.

This complex dialectic describes the developmental or unfolding process of mind interacting or symbolically mediating with the environment--or rather as the process of mind as a dialectical synthesis as the mediation between environment and experiential human beingness. Symbols mediate, negotiate, transact, identify the critical boundary between self and world--symbols create a 'boundary' of identity which relates our beingness to the world.

Symbols have an 'evocative' function vital to human identity and beingness in the world. It is this which empowers symbolism as the expression of mind.

 

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A reflexive characteristic of our metalogical metalogue about the question of 'what is human reality?' is that our definitions, meanings and our information and communication are all primarily symbolic and metaphorical in construction and function, and we may refer to metaphorical symbolism or symbolic metaphors which compose the fundamental quality of human beingness.

'Metaphor' comes from the Greek word meaning 'to bear over', 'referring to a transfer of the sense of one word to another', and is defined 'a figure of speech in which one thing is likened to another, different thing by being spoken of as if it were that other; implied comparison, in which a word or phrase ordinarily and primarily used of one thing is applied to another…'

A 'symbol' is defined as '1. Something that represents something else by association, resemblance or convention. 2. A printed or written sign used to represent an operation, element, quantity, quality or relation as in mathematics or music.' It comes from the Greek 'symbolon' which means 'token for identification'. A sign, token, pledge by which one infers something, from 'symballein' or 'to throw together'. It is also defined as 'something that stands for or represents another thing, especially an object used to represent something abstract; an emblem; a written or printed mark, letter, abbreviation, etc. standing fort an object, quality, process, quantity, etc.'

The key symbol of meaning is the 'word as metaphor'. Without language, humankind would have no culture nor civilization: Language is the principle symboling system of human culture--it is the voice of mind. Meaning is principally metaphorical, phenomenological, psychological and abstracted from basic concrete percepts. Meaning is something suggesting something else or its antithesis to human rationality. The word as metaphor functions as analogy, comparison of similarities and the relationship between different or disparate things, 'affecting' a meaningful crossover, or 'identification' between previously unrelated symbols, bridging differences and creating new possibilities of relationship, patterns and integrities and imposing alternative frames of reference out of an original context of meaning, fusing together different meanings of different symbols to create new meanings and new symbols.

Metaphor is connotative, suggesting new associations and possibilities of meaning, expanding meaning qualitatively beyond mere one to one correspondences between words and their dictionary definitions, as if they were mere numbers or names or signs with the most immediate referents. It is this metaphorical quality which allows us to reference more than is immediately available to our sense, that allows us to go further in our meaning structures to posit inferences and to ask and answer questions.

 

"A metaphor, and, by extension, a trope generally, equates on conventional point of reference with another, or substitutes one for another, and obliges the interpreter to draw his or her conclusions as to the consequences. It elicits analogies, as perceptions through language, so to speak, and those analogies or perceptions become the intent and the content, of the expression.

Figurative usage, then, because it makes a kind of prism of conventional reference, cannot provide a literal field of reference. It is not formed by 'indicating' things or by referencing them, but by setting pointers or reference points into a relation with one another, by making them into a relation that is innovative upon the original order of reference. It 'conveys' a re-negotiated relation, but, not being 'literal' in any sense, cannot 'point' to it. Thus we may say that it 'embodies' or 'images' its object, figuring sympathetically by becoming itself that which it expresses. When we speak of things that do not have conventional referents, then out manner of speaking must itself become the referent. The effect of the construction is embodied in its impingement upon conventional reference; this impingement is simultaneously what it is and what it is about." (Roy Wagner; Symbols That Stand For Themselves; 1986:6)

 

To write 'metaphorical symbolism' is something akin to 'mixed metaphor' but more like 'power politics'. It is difficult to say exactly which term, 'metaphorical' or 'symbolism' is the more general and inclusive. The expression metaphorical symbolism is used to suggest more than just a category of mind or a class of symbols--but to emphasize the point that all symbols are by their intrinsic nature 'metaphorical' and thus to emphasize as well the 'something standing for something else' function of symbols. Furthermore, metaphorical symbolisms express or stand for a characteristic feature of human inter-relatedness to reality--human beings define meaning, express significance, relate to reality through the use of metaphorical symbolisms. In a sense, it is a propos to refer to human reality or to human relativity within reality, as irreducibly metaphorical and symbolic in nature, and in structure.

 

"Any symbolic metaphor provides a conceptually definitive frame of reference/inference serving to dichotomously separate and distinguish aspects of reality--internal/external, subjective/objective, figure/ground--'outer forms frame an inner meanings'. One may refer to alternative symbolic functions, like 'dominant symbol', 'master symbol', 'key symbol' or 'summarizing metaphor' or 'elaborating metaphor' but the primary function of all metaphorical symbolisms is to serve as a frame of reference for the conveyance of human meaning. In order to do so, any symbol must have a primary referent which serves as 'signifier' or a 'denotation' which is concrete and derived from the physical environment. To reiterate, all symbols are ultimately derived from and refer to nature, no matter how abstractly or indirectly. This primary referent may be simple or complex, either taken directly from empirical, perceptual reality or else composed of many diverse elements drawn directly from or abstracted indirectly from Mother Nature. This primary referent serves as significant marker in that it embodies and incorporates relatively significant meanings which are recognizable, however unconsciously or structurally or concretely by the knower. The act of recognition is a form of humanological involvement, an expression of the inter-relatedness of human reality, bringing meaning to it.

The symbolic metaphor is applied, or recognized and created within a universal reality of human meaning which is both continuous and ever changing--a dynamic continuum which forms both a relational context which is all encompassing and within which symbols are created, destroyed and recreated, and reconstituted by new meanings and new relationships. Meaning is derived from the human inter-relatedness with symbolic metaphors. The act of recognition of a symbolic metaphor as a frame of reference/inference is properly known as the function of 'identification'. The marker or primary referent serves as a cognitive, symbolic boundary which identifies meaningful differences--defining the identity of human meaning. Identification is a process of differentiation of meaning inside and outside of the boundary of the symbolic marker. Differences between relationships or 'things' or meanings outside of the boundary and inside of the boundary are emphasized as relatively significant, while the similarities are de-emphasized as relatively insignificant. Attention is focused upon the figure in the foreground, outlined by the symbolic frame of reference/inference, while the background if ignored. Furthermore, differences within the boundaries of the symbolic marker become emphasized, the similarities ignored, while the similarities outside of the boundary are emphasized to the ignorance of differences.

Humans create their meaningful reality through the process of symbolic identification. Furthermore, as frames of reference/inference, metaphorical symbols also function as symbolic mirrors of meaning, as a vehicle of both subjective reflection and of objective projection of the self. Identification within human reality is properly a process of self identification through the reflective/projective process of human interrelationship. Symbolic identification expressed as a process of interrelationship between external differences/internal similarities and between subjective reflection/objective projection, defines the secondary referents of symbols and metaphors. The primary symbolic referent serves as a metaphorical mediator, or a medium of expression, a frame of reference for the identification and recognition of the relationships of secondary reference." (Lewis; unpublished manuscript, 1986: 53-55)

 

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Symbolisms 'relate things' in an unmarked manner, and 'thing relations' in a marked manner. Symbolisms come in two basic forms--things to be related and relations between things. Unmarked things and relations imply contextual neutrality--a lack of significant emphasis which reinforces the status quo of the identity of experience. The usual or 'normal' state of being in the world is such an 'unmarked' manner of experience.

Marking significance is a matter of emphasis and may have either a positive or negative connotation and lead to either positive or negative evaluations of experience. If the 'normal' state is positively valued, the tendency would be to mark negative evaluations of difference in a covert way, i.e., unconscious symbolic context of experience and to overtly mark positively evaluative 'things'.

'Relating things' temporizes space, and 'thinging relations' spatializes time. Symbolisms of things are expressed spatially--relational symbolisms are temporal. Matter is made of 'things' and the 'thingness of relations; and mind is composed of the relations of things.

 

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Analytically, human experience may be divided into cognitive, emotive and conative or motivational categories or modalities. Like 'mind/language/culture', and 'idea/symbol/sign' it is better to consider experience wholly as a unified field of 'cognition/emotion/conation'. This unity is achieved through articulation of symbolisms in the environment and can be spoken of as being 'synthetic' in dialectical structure. There can be no clear separations between cognitive, emotive or motive components of experiential events--all ideas have an emotional and a motivational dimension and all emotions have an ideational construction and motivational implication.

It is by the 'cognitive/emotive/conative' unity of experience that we can usefully recognize the internal structure of human experience as a process of dialectical symbolization. All is experience is structured, or integrated in this way.

 

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Human consciousness is engaged in the process of fixing symbolisms in the environment to fit intentional frames of mind or ideas, and also in fitting frames of mindness in order to fix symbolisms in the environment. Fix and fit are the mediation processes of human symbolization which constitute its dialectic. This symbolic dialectic is critically related to human adaptation to environmental change. There is a human predisposition to preserve the constancy of symbols across differing contexts. But the process of change, variation in the context, disrupts the symbolic continuity of experience, so the need for fixing and fitting symbols within their contexts in order to make sense of them is continuous and never ending as a process of human consciousness. Failure to do so creates psychological incoherence which is unsettling and dysfunctionally maladaptive. The process of fixing and fitting symbolisms is referred to as 'framing' and there is a proclivity towards preserving constancy and consistency of symbolic 'frames' across different contexts.

 

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The two functions of symbolization are reference and inference. Reference is the process of relating a thing to its contextual relations with other things. Inference is the process of determining a thing by its interrelationships within its context of understanding. Symbolisms used referentially are 'names' for things. Symbolisms used inferentially describe the 'verbal' relations between things.

Reference related to the denotation of a thing--inference to connotation of relationship. Reference is deductive in deriving something logically from something else--inference is inductive in something else being derived from a thing.

Symbolic frames are simultaneously frames of reference/inference. Mind functions according to the dialectic of reference/inference frames. Any symbolism entails both an explicit reference and implicit inference functions.

 

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Symbolisms become 'fixed' by investment of certain emotive 'values' in their structure. These values are achieved by 'marking' or highlighting the symbolism in a figure/ground context. There is an emphasis upon certain significances or order of significances and of stress which leads to metaphorical salience and metaphysical importance. Emotions become encoded through symbolisms into our cognitive mappings of experience and are recalled through 'elicitation' and read by 'evaluation'. It is the cognitive evaluation of symbolisms which leads to our sense of 'understanding'--it is their emotive evaluation which leads us to their 'feeling' or 'sense of relevance'.

'Values' as organizing principles of the lifeways of people and their ways of life have a symbolic structure of 'evaluation' which is emotively fixed or fitting. Symbolisms have come to have an evaluative structure in the way in which they dialectically articulate human cognition, emotion and behavior.

Linguistic practices, through marking/unmarked, over/covert categories or relative inter-or intra-sentential code switching/mixing in our everyday usage of language, reveals the subtlety of the symbolic process.

 

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The primary human function of symbolisms is evocative (to call forth, to elicit or bring forth). This evocative function always has cognitive, emotive and perceptive elements. Symbolisms evoke meaning and reaction. Evocations are basic stimuli to complex attitudinal and behavioral responses. Specific signs or sign patterns act as triggers which actually precipitate response--symbols generalize this stimulus function of signs from their particular contexts of occurrence.

Symbols also 'fix' this evocative function in certain environmental configurations--similar symbolisms evoke similar ranges of response and experience. This 'fixing' stores latent or potential 'energy' in environmental configurations--complex symbolisms become a reservoir of pooled 'response potential' which can have a delayed release and a triggering threshold. Thus symbolisms come to have a relative value in their evocative potential. This evocative potential 'empowers' symbolisms as the mediators of transformational experiences in changing environmental contexts.

From the standpoint of the individual, an important point of this evocative function is its emotional expression. The symbolic synthesis is part of an emotional expression. The symbolic synthesis is part of an emotional dialectic which integrates psychological and physiological processes in natural and social environments. Emotional energy becomes 'stored away' in certain symbolism--evocation of these symbolisms provokes or precipitates the release of the flood of feelings--the stored potential emotionally expressed energy dammed by behind symbolic frames.

 

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Experiential isomorphism of mind and matter confers a sense of symbolic symmetry of experience--a symmetry reflected by cognitive consonance, emotive harmony and symbolic resonance within the environment. It renders human reality reflexive. Cognitive dissonance is the result of a lack of symmetry between experience and the environment. Experience and identity seeks an equilibrium between mind and matter, a sense of ecology of beingness in the world. Disequilibrium results in cognitive dissonance, and requires readjustment of mind and matter in order to reestablish symbolic symmetry.

Such a synthesis presupposes a normative conception of mind as a balanced, 'steady state system'--it is precisely this sense of the identity of experience which makes possible a normative conception of the world. It is actually a mechanism for the mediation of environmental change in the environment, allowing ecological adaptation of the individual in the world. As such, it is a mechanism of evolution. It presupposes a sense of adaptive, functional integration in the world, which may or may not exist except as a relative state.

 

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Symbols are derived from configurations of signs--all symbols are contextual in that they are derived from and conditioned by the sign context in which they occur. As such, symbols depend upon their contextual framework as an 'extrinsic' part of their 'negative definition' or connotation by association with other elements. It is this contextuality of symbolism which gives to symbols their unconscious depth of multidimensionality if meaning and which renders them the vehicles of empowerment in motivating and directing human action.

Symbols cannot stand completely isolated and separated from all relational contexts--their coherence and relevance would dissolve away into a chaotic disarray of separate signs. As such symbols are always found interconnected with other symbols and thus become grouped according to different 'principles' of patterning. Symbols have a boundary of their possible experience--an outline which distinguishes their outer contextual 'horizon' and an inner structural 'horizon' which carries it across different contextual frameworks and incorporated a range of variation of profiles. It is this boundary which is transformative, variable and malleable and yet which retains a net, overall thematic consistency in the life and function of the symbol.

Symbols are composites of signs--they are epi-phenomenal artifacts of human experience and the vehicles of human condition.

It is this contextuality of symbolism which makes them relational and relative and the by products of dialectical transformation.

 

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Unconsciousness is the internalization or introjection for the symbolic contextuality of our environments. It is always encompassing and comprehending, always relational and yet indirect. It is total and complete in its openness and all inclusiveness and yet our consciousness can only cast light on only small portions of it at any time. All symbolisms must be found or fit within a relational context in order to carry meaning--the contextual relations of symbolisms must become internalized in the unconscious as implicit, connotative, latent and over components of meaning which 'configure' the outlines of symbols upon a background.

 

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Symbols are commonly related to other symbols, normally occurring in groups or 'symbolic complexes'. People come to have sets of expectations as to the cognitive coherence and perceptual consistency of such complexes--these sets of expectations are quite cognitive and behavioral 'frames' into which experience becomes sorted and rendered significant.

Cultural environments are 'universes' composed of interconnected 'symbolic constellations' or groupings of centrally oriented or focal 'symbolic complexes'. A library is a culture historical cosmos of mind composed of many books, each a symbolic 'constellation' made up of chapters, paragraphs and sentences that represent interconnected 'symbolic complexes'. A word is a 'sign symbol' or a 'symbolic marker' made up of sets of signs and sign relations. Signs are relatively independent and arbitrary but when grouped together in different arrangements create different symbolisms.

A cultural universe provides the unconscious framework of an individual's consciousness--an individual's conscious is constrained in definite ways by the kinds of symbolic constellations which compose his culture historical contextuality. Different symbolic contexts constrain the consciousness of the individual in different, but distinctive ways. An individual's consciousness is an active, normative, energetic, evaluating, selecting, focusing, defining, decision making instru-mentality of mind which arbitrarily or customarily assigns values to various symbolisms and symbolic complexes within respective contexts--it functions symbolically, referentially reading from and inferentially reading into the environmental experiences of people.

It is by means of the dialectic between the unconscious substrate, or introjected relational context, and the symbolic consciousness that people normally manipulate the elements and relations of their environments and navigate through their collective shared worlds.

The unconscious, both individual and collective is composed of experiential, referential and inferential 'frames within frames within frames' that are drawn from the background of the culture historical context and the 'cosmos of mind'. There occurs between mind, encompassing the dialectic between consciousness and the unconscious, and the culture historical context, a cybernetic interaction of symbolization. The on going conscious experiences of people are 'fitted' into unconscious 'frames of expectation' derived from similar relational contexts as elicited by the present sets of experience.

Symbols recur and resonate in environmental contexts in regular, ritualized and expected ways which are directly or indirectly constrained by both the 'culture historical' flow of events and the past relational contexts of understanding which are brought to bear upon the present experiences.

Symbols which seem to occur 'out of place'--a poor man driving a limousine, a rich man dressed in rags, or an adjective poised behind rather than before the English noun it modifies, or a misspelled word--then its experience no longer 'fits' the expected frames of reference/inference. Frames then become disrupted and either the symbols need to be repaired or 'fixed' or else the frames need to be 'reevaluated' and reconstructed.

'Common sense' is largely composed of the expected, unconsciously 'embedded' and ritualized regularities of the culture historical universe of experience. These regularities are frequently left implicit or are taken for granted in the experience of the environment. Common sense interacts with cognition in both conceptual and perceptual ways, in the mediation of symbolic environments which are both ideal and material, cognitive and behavioral.

 

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Symbolic dependency is a cognitive predisposition to conceive or perceive symbols within expected frames of reference/inference which leads to selective preference for regularly recurring symbolisms and to the inability to 'cope' with symbolisms which occur 'out of frame' and to a cognitive 'dissonance' about the irregularity of such symbolisms. This relates to the capacity to tolerate margins of error and to the inability to manipulate symbolisms independently of their expected, 'common sense' contexts. Highlighting common symbols leads to an 'unconscious' filling of its expected framework--to its common 'configuration' by which it is rendered significant. Psychologically symbols take on a significance of their own, largely independent of the actual experiences in which they occur, but predetermined by the frames of expectation and the contextual configurations in which they 'common sensically' recur.

Symbolic dependency leads to 'fixation' of a symbolic configuration within a given framework or context of understanding--such a fixation becomes invested with an inordinate degree of cognitive, emotional and behavioral significance and importance as a centrally orienting and ordering device of one's experiences. Disruption of such 'significant symbolisms and their fixed frames' results in a great deal of symbolic disorientation and confusion, emotional turmoil and to 'behavioral maladjustment' or failure of 'coping mechanisms' to functionally adapt in appropriate or expected ways. The sense of ego identity undergoes a crises, disintegrating and breaking down. Developmentally, symbolic dependency may be linked to a 'field dependency'. Children should be expected to be relatively more symbolically dependent than adults. As adults mature, they become more symbolically independent, but symbolic dependency in adult life may lead to a failure to fully mature or develop either cognitively, emotionally or behaviorally.

Culture may come to reinforce or encourage or sanction some forms of symbolic dependency, such as those acts or values relating to paternal authority, libidinal ties to the mother, or to acts of violence or sexuality, and thus discourage the development of symbolic independence in these areas. Likewise, it may encourage development of symbolic independence in other ways and therefore discourage symbolic dependency in indirectly related ways. Again, there is a cybernetic

 

 

 

 

 

 

(WILL START FROM PAGE 335) …..interrelationship between the collective symbolisms of culture and cognitive symbolism.

Symbolic dependency leads to the development of elaborated symbolic fantasy life, both culturally and cognitively, in which the relevant symbolisms, divorced from the validation of real experience, become used in the distorted manipulation of frames of reference/inference. There is a general suspension of credibility, even though the symbolisms so divorced may carry heavy loads of cognitive, emotive and behavioral significance. Non-being is the result of such exaggeration of frames and distortion of experience in symbolic dependency.

 

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Symbolisms become 'fixed' into certain 'categories' of experience. Such symbolic categories take on an independence of relation--a distinctiveness of separate identity among commonly related things--which come to have special significance and come to be seen as pre-existent or previous to experience, as 'coming before experience' and as therefore existing 'beyond or outside of the realm of experience', even though its pre-existence must then be verified by consecutive experience. Such 'categories' come to organize experience in certain expected ways, and serve to simplify the problems of maintaining symbolic symmetry in the experience of the world. Such symbolic 'categories' confer a certain a-priori 'imperativeness' to the generic kinds of experiences which they subsume.

It is in such a way that symbolisms lose their arbitrariness of representation, their original concrete signifiers and their functional independence from the constraints of custom and culture historical context.

Such categorical symbolisms accrete into symbolic 'configurations' which frame experience in certain pre-selective ways. Configurations become 'fixed frames' which are relatively inflexible and unamenable to experience in the environment. They are different from symbolic constellations in that they organize the identity of experience intensively, working ideationally from within, while symbolic constellations are environmentally rooted and functionally derived from an extensive orientation in the world. Symbolic configurations are a special order of symbolic congregation--they carry past experience forward into the present and future. Configurations are composed of symbolisms which are marked with special categorical significance.

Symbolic categories and configurations compose 'world view' as opposed to the 'natural' symbolic conglomeration of 'mind'. They come to have a common senseness and 'givenness' which is frequently absent in the paradoxicalness of mind.

 

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Power rests in the Center. Movement toward the Center represents symbolic empowerment of non-being--controlling change or the possibility of 'non-being in the world'. Centeredness of world view defines itself in terms of the symbolic empowerment derived from the super imposition of fixed frames, symbolic categories and configurations of experience and expectation upon the world. It is this fixedness of frames, its categorical imperativeness reinforced by common sense configurations of experience and expectation, which creates the grand illusion of the Center.

 

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Symbolisms provide configurational frames by which to contextualize and make sense of our experience. We share in multiple frames of mind which confer a sense of continuity and order to our world and its experience, orienting us in relation to things in ways which are predictable and stable. We are actively reformulating our frames of mind in order to accommodate the changes we encounter in confrontation with new environments. The dialectics of symbolism are the dialectics of change. We symbolically construct our realities based on symbolisms derived from past experiences--and then we reconstruct them based upon modification to fit or fix our sense of change. Or symbolic realities are constructed, negotiated, interpreted, evaluated and configured in a world of on going change.

Frames are mostly general and generalizing in orientation--they contextually relate particular elements of reality. They are derived from and composed of these elements, but they take on a life of their own--a metaphorical and metalogical level of 'importance' which 'translates' change and difference in our realities.

'Frame disruption' occurs when events in our environments occur which demand our attention but fail to fit our frames of reference/inference or else work at their margins to undermine their relevance and significance.

'Frame elicitation' is the calling forth of frames to met or 'fix' the experience of environmental events or relational situations. Signs in the environment stimulate or trigger the elicitation of frames, often unconsciously.

'Frame fixation' is the relative inflexibility of a frame to be adjusted to fit changes in the experience of environments. Frames are carried forward and made to 'force fit' such changing contexts.

'Frame reinforcement' are conscious, ego coping mechanisms which attempt to 'force fit' frames and environmental changes in ways, cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally, which reestablish the relevance and importance of the original frames.

'Frame reevaluation' is the effort to deconstruct and reconstruct the frames in order to accommodate or assimilate the environmental changes in such a way that restores the frames adaptive significance.

'Frame replacement' or 'revolution' is the complete destruction of a frame, and its substitution by an altogether different frame which may or may not incorporate the elements and relational patternings of the old frame, but always in a new configurational arrangement.

Frames are devices of rationalization and ritualization of human consciousness and behavior. As rationalizing devices, they serve to order the experiences of the environment in a way that is purposive or fitting to the 'design' of the frame. As ritualizing process, they order behavior in prescriptive and predictable ways, controlling reaction and response in ways which behavioral reinforce or ideological legitimate the structure of the frames.

Frames become represented and are reflexive of culture historical process in the patterning of social networks and in the unfolding of social movements.

 

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Frames are generally derived from 'schemata' that exists within culture historical contexts. Schemata are the 'elements' of culture. They are like 'cliché' of speech--they are either words or several syllable phrases from which larger symbolisms are constructed. Schemata are combined into schemas or 'strips' which are like sentences or paragraphs. Strips normally describe or represent a single 'event' or a single combined instance of experience. Schemata are the elemental atoms of culture history--they might be thought of as the minimal component units of phenomenological experience. Strips become the normally combined units of phenomenological experience. Strips become the normally combined units--they are like 'molecules' which compose the substantial fabric of culture history. They have a normal sense of ordering of its component units which combine together for form the patterning of culture historical process.

It is in terms of such phenomenological atoms and experiential molecules that we construct, deconstruct and reconstruct our symbolic realities in the paradigmatic patternings of culture history. Everyday we are engaged in the manipulation of these minimal units of meaning in the configuring and reconfiguring of our sense of identity in our world. We take these units from the culture historical contexts in which the experience of our world is situated. Our culture historical contexts are internalized in the form of these units as they occur in groups and sets that form regular patternings.

It is in terms of such schemata and strips that we build our frame and deploy them in our confrontations with reality. It has bee estimated that there are natural, normal limits to our innate capacity to process such units, and that these limits of 'long term memory' define the structural sizes of various levels of groupings of such components. It is estimated that the most elements that can be dealt with in the most direct manner is around a hundred or so, and that the minimal units will be grouped in composites of no more than five or ten. These one hundred or so elements are derived indirectly from a larger context composed of no more than five hundred elements. These five hundred elements can be structurally grouped into a single taxon which contains no more than perhaps three thousand such elements. Over time he total long term capacity can be pushed upward fifty or even slightly eight thousand such 'bits and pieces'.

It is possible that these kinds of structural limits in the capacity of symbolic systems superimpose other kinds of constraints and have certain kinds of predetermining consequences in the patterning of culture history. Any given system of symbolism must have a certain optimal carrying capacity for its relative order of functioning. Any inputs overreaching this inherent limit leads to a 'supercritical' state of overload which results in 'events' or damage to the system. Such a system may then 'evolve' into a new systemic arrangement incorporating new elements and throwing off others, or it may structurally lift the whole system to a higher more general order or level of functioning.

It is also likely that the pathway taken by any given scenario would be to some predetermined extent by the larger structural relations of power in the context--such that larger more powerful systems tend to 'swallow' smaller ones, while systems which coexist on a even parity of power perhaps compete with or mutually resist one another or counterbalance each other in directive ways.

Power, in its various forms, structures relationships in definite ways.

Symbol systems and the contexts which frame them, exist in critical and dynamic states--their stability is a function of their flexibility to deal with inevitable changes which alter their composition of elements.

 

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Symbolisms accrete meaning, grow, mutate by several mechanisms or principles of symbolic change. Metaphorically, symbolisms continuously go through a process of 'extension of meaning' into other contexts incorporating other elements and relations between elements. The looseness and fuzziness of metaphor allows meaning to be extended or to be 'displaced' by other meanings in a gradual but steady manner. Euphemization and Dysphemization of language are examples of such displacement, in which 'bad meaning' tends to drive out good meaning.

Symbolisms sometimes transfer meaning or significance from one symbolic domain to another or from one context to another or from one environment to another. Metaphorical meaning is easily transferred from one symbolism to another, and this can follow a whole indirectly line or chain of such transference such that the original significance may be very remote or directly unrelated to the symbolism to which it becomes contextually related.

Symbolisms can also change from the mechanism of 'stimulus generalization' in that they signifiers of the symbolism become part of another class or group of 'stimuli' to which the symbolism becomes attached.

Symbolisms can also be modified by continuous or proximate analogical association to other symbols, such that the traits of one symbolism become associated with the traits of the other one.

 

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SIGNS, SYMBOLS AND IDEAS

 

Symbols are composed of signs. All symbols are signs, but not all signs are symbols. Signs are the minimal building blocks of symbols--they are characterized by their recursiveness, redundancy, uni-directionality, uni-dimensionality and proximity of meaning. The metanymical function of signs is mechanical and relatively non-arbitrary. Signs are context dependent, occurring in an order which is not as random as with symbols--they are 'harder', more highly constrained by their denotational significance.

Signs may be elevated to the functional level of symbol, than carrying metaphorical 'suggestiveness' of meaning, but in doing so it looses its significant determinacy. Signs carry fixed meanings--significance, which is always metonymical, referring to 'things' at a concrete level. Employed in combinations, signs become symbolic 'markers'--they loose their individual metanymical significance as vehicles for carrying the metaphorically relevant meaning of the symbol they stand for.

Whereas symbols function analogically and metalogically, signs function homologically and relationally by logical principles which disambiguate its significance. Signs have a communicational purpose which requires that they have unambiguous significance--a determinacy of value relatively invariable and inflexible.

Ideas are similar to symbols and signs--all ideas are symbolic and are composed of signs but not all signs or symbols are 'ideational'. Ideas are the basic units of metaphysical importance. Single symbols or even signs may be elevated to the status of an idea--'0' (zero) for instance--but more regularly ideas are composed of sets of symbols in typical arrangements or configurations. Ideas are abstractions--complex thoughts whose only concretized embodiments are the signs employed for their expression. Ideas are not normally constrained by any external reference or bound within a context, but are 'super contextual'. Ideas are metalogical as well as metaphysical in function, serving to 'focus' thought in given directions. Ideas are also normally polythetic and polythematic as nomothetic categories. Ideas are eidetic and 'meta-relational'--they refer to relations between things and relations of such relations, but rarely to 'things' themselves. Ideas are 'constructs'--mental images built up from experience, but indirectly separate from such experience.

A table is an idea of a sign, a symbol and an idea, as is a 'triangle'--the 'idea of table' may be symbolized by the word 'table' and be signified by an actual instance of a typical table, but is still only a mental construct of mind.

 

SIGNS AND SYMBOLS

 

It is important to emphasize the critical differences and similarities between signs and symbols, as these differences and similarities underlie the split between the sciences and the humanities---they inform an important epistemological division in our rational knowledge. All science is ultimately a study of signs as systems. The humanities are ultimately a study of symbols as conglomerations.

Signs are 'symbolic markers' which carry specific significance--as markers they function mechanically and automatically to produce a significance which is moderated by proximate or sympathetic connection with other signs. Signs do not 'carry' meaning separately as do symbols--they have separate significance which is non-arbitrary--it cannot yield up or transpose its separate significance. It is only in conjunction with other signs or when signs become promoted to the status of a symbol that they act as vehicles of metaphor. Signs function as 'markers' serving to anchor meaning to concrete, contextually determinate reality. Signs are mnemonic devices--perceptual 'markings' which trigger significance.

In a strict sense, significance is a communicational metaphor for 'information'--it is important for the significant of a sign be clear and unambiguous in order to efficiently communicate information. They tend therefore to be hard and strong. Signs denote some definite and specific--they are therefore concise. Symbols 'connote' or suggest something general and therefore vague. It is important therefore that symbols are indeterminate in order to exploit their inherent ambiguity--their relevance depends upon a 'critical indeterminacy' or 'vagueness' or 'indefiniteness' of meaning.

A sign functions--it 'does something', performing an informational, communicational service. A symbol 'means' something, integrating by suggestion. Signs are special purpose devices. Significance is always context dependent. 'General significance' refers to a classificational or taxonomic function of signs--their hierarchical design--they locate and fix a context of significant relations around a 'thing'--thereby situating and orienting a sign within a framework of significations. A symbol may act as a sign, its metaphorical function relegated to a special purpose by becoming context bound--symbols come to have a special significance in a given context. A password is a symbol relegated to the function of a sign. A dictionary is a sigh system of symbols.

Sign systems communicate knowledge, solve puzzles, reduce noise and communicate, describe, explain, predict and control. Symbols systems create understanding, asking why instead of answering how, resolve dilemmas, 'destruct' the given and determinate, and thrive on noise and indeterminacy as the groundless ground of meaning.

 

SYMBOLIC COHESION

 

Symbols readily cohere in to clusters, complexes, constellations and galaxies because they have a characteristic stickiness--an adhesive quality which allows one symbol to be readily lined to others. This is symbolic cohesion.

In order to understand how symbolic cohesion works, it is necessary to examine the structure of the symbol as a 'thing' and as a 'relation' between things. A symbol functions as a 'metaphor'--it is something, 'anything', which stands for something (anything) else. This metaphorical function is polysemic--a thing can stand for many things at once--and 'multi-vocal'--a thing can say many things at once. Symbols have, therefore, a certain metaphorical flexibility which allow them to be adjusted to fit many different kinds of contexts--they are contextually independent and generalizable--they are general purpose metaphors.

Symbols have fussy edges--their definitional boundaries are rarely clear cut but phase into a wider less determinate connotational realm of general metaphorical saliences. These fussy edges give symbols an added malleability that allows them to be fit into varying contextual schemas with relative ease and which allow two or more 'compatible' symbols to be conjoined--to be hooked together by the conflation of their edges. Words as metaphors are the archetypal symbols--compounding or modifying words into phrases is an example of the fussiness and looseness of symbols.

The fussiness of symbols is due in part to the fact that most symbols are composite sets of 'signs' which function as minimal building blocks of symbols--these signs can be added to or modified--conditioned, to alter the form and metaphorical function of a symbol. Morphological conditioning of words are an example of this sign modification of symbols.

The metaphorical 'general purposeness' and the looseness of symbols allows them to be used in several ways--symbols may stand for other symbols, for themselves, for other 'things' of significance, for relations between symbols or things, or for relations of such relations. One symbol may summarize a whole set of symbols, or a set of symbols may elaborate a single symbol. Symbols can be arranged taxonomically into a hierarchical order of determinations or can be used polythetically.

Symbolic cohesion is most often weaker than it is stronger, allowing symbols to be easily conjoined into larger sets and allowing symbols also to be lifted from one context and put into another. Symbolic cohesion accounts for the conglomeration of symbols into patterned sets, but it also accounts for the criticality of the structure of such conglomerations--symbols systems may disintegrate as easily as integrate.

 

SYSTEMS OF MIND

 

Signs, symbols and ideas form their own separate kinds of systems which operate at different functional levels of meaning. All idea systems are symbol and sigh systems and all symbol systems are sign systems as well, but sign systems are not symbolic or ideational. These systemic orders inter-function and in most instances co-function and overlap but it is useful to analytically separate them in order to understand their critical differences.

'Symbolic logic' is an example of a sign system, despite its name. Linguistics deals with language at the level of a sign system, but not as a symbolic system. In general, science does not treat symbolic systems except as these systems are also sign systems. Mathematics is an example of a 'pure' sign system. A sign system is necessarily a 'pre-determined relational system'--in this sense it is 'pre-logical'--specified or specifiable 'relational rules' which serve to order and disambiguate its patterns, and render the interconnections between signs decisive and exact or precise. These rules function as direct constraints. Natural information systems, as with chemistry, physics and micro-biology are sign systems predetermined by 'natural laws'--man made sign systems, statistics, mathematics, traffic signs, cook books, telephone books are predetermined by 'conventional rules'. Sign systems tend to be directly and explicitly constrained--its rules are amenable to direct, explicit explanation. Sign systems have a rational and an empirical order--signs cannot occur at random or out of order or sequence.

The difference between a sign system and a symbol system is the difference between a computer and the mind or natural language--a mind may function like a computer if so constrained and a natural language may be prescriptively regulated to fit a computer language, but a computer may never function like the mind or natural language. A symbol system is metaphorical--it tends to be indirectly constrained, context independent and analogical. It functions to mediate multiple levels of meaning and mythologically in the process of identification. Symbol systems are dialectical and 'dialogical'. They are also syncretistic--composing a hodgepodge or a collage of different symbolic conglomerations. Sign systems are denotational, symbol systems are connotational. Sign systems function referentially, symbol systems inferentially.

Ideational systems are metaphysical--ideas refer to other ideas or to relations between ideas. Ideational systems are ideo-logical and metalogical. They are rational systems that are tautological--ideas are justified by other ideas, and are unconstrained themselves, but are themselves constraints--ideas are 'rules' or meta-relational constructs ordering relations.

 

FRAMES OF MIND

 

Though Mind exists as a universal, all encompassing possibility, its real manifestations consist of an infinite number of possible Frames of Mind, attitudes of Beingness which inform our existence of meaning and relevance.

Frames of Mind are different points of view, or casts of light, which give to Mind its holothetic multidimensionality. Frames of Mind cohere and link together to provide the on-going articulation of the possibility of Mind.

Frames of Mind do not form a taxonomic structure on the basis of essential differences in meaning of its components--Frames of Mind are but varying combinations of ideas which are configured thematically about some central axis of transformation. Different Frames of Mind may share many similar components. Differences are not structural, but historical and contextual--each Frame of Mind is contextualized within a larger comprehensive framework of the possibilities of Mind.

Frames of Mind do share some common distinguishing features of design and content. Frames of Mind have a particular provenience of period and place which defines their cultural historical context of origination, diffusion, development. Frames of Mind shift provenience as a process of gradual steady transformation, just as language gradually changes and alters in an imperceptible way. This transformation occurs regardless of the ideological attempts to conserve the status quo of world view. Frames of Mind encompass entire contrapuntal dialectics of thesis and antithesis--at any particular point they are represented by the complete range of variation of world view manifest. Frames of Mind are constituted locally by the total relations within the complete text of their articulation. Frames of Mind flow sequentially--they are streams of consciousness which appear to be historically continuous and yet in hindsight can only be studied discontinuously--they are the opposite of the frames of a movie being projected--where as the animation of the movies is only an apparent optical illusion of the running together of a long sequence of many discrete stills, the streams of consciousness of frames of mind are not the derivative effect, but the primary experience of Mind, where as its analysis and study entails 'slowing it down' to appear as if it were a sequential series of skills. The transformational development of Frames of Mind can only be discontinuously apprehended over the long run. Frames of Mind are set of relations between things rather than sets of things--they provide formula for the ordering of relationships between things. Different Frames of Mind can describe the same set of things in essentially different ways. Every world view, every theory, every field of inquiry is made up of multiple, overlapping frames of mind--every Frame of Mind encompasses a plethora of different world views, theories, fields of inquiry. Frames of Mind have thematic unity, and provide thematic unity of understanding to diverse sets of date, things, relations. Frames of Mind are basically 'meta physical' and the relations they are based on are irreducibly 'meta logical'.

Frames of Mind are culture historical phenomena--they are like languages and cultures in that they have an historical integrity and a kind of synergism which makes them unique, and yet Mind is like language and culture in the sense that all somehow share a similar set of universal characteristics which define them across time and across the entire range of variation. Frames of Mind are like 'culture areas' or language groups which are defined on the basis of phylogenetic relationship.

Frames of Mind are our way of understanding from a historical perspective in terms of its contextual articulation. They cannot be understood of distinguished outside of the frameworks of understanding which we superimpose upon the relationships which constitute it or the language by which we interpret it--Frames of Mind are subject to the same kinds of biases and problems of interpretation which all historical phenomena are prone to--they can be constrained by the world view which predominates and dictates their reinterpretation.

The understanding of Frames of Mind provide an approach to the resolution of the paradox of history--the dilemma of rewriting the past as a reflection of the present. Relational phenomena of the past were independent of present and yet in some measure events of the present are not independent of relational phenomena of the past--transcribing Frames of Mind is by demonstration of how the present is or is not an indirect representation of the past without the surreptitious projection of ideology. It involves reconstructing the past as an 'independent event' of the present which nevertheless has its own historical sense of precursory relations. Events of a past become written in terms of a previous lost sense of the past which is independent of the sense of the present. Frames of Mind are Frames of Difference, focusing upon the relativizing differences inherent in historical processes of change. Unlike world views they are not collectivizing orientations, but detotalizing and relativizing orientations, serving to historically isolate sets of relational phenomena within their contexts of understanding and articulation. They exist culture historically as the necessary counterpoint to any collectivizing world view, assuming that all world views cannot be total or absolute in a sense of not being subject to processes of historical change. Reconstructing past frame of Mind is a hermeneutical problem of philology. It is a vital and prerequisite problem if contextualization of the past in terms of the past in a non-ideological manner is desired. At no point is the collectivity of humankind comprehended by a single world view or paradigm--each point of time is characterized by a plurality of perspectives and multiplicity of points of view which provides the chaotic tension of the times--the dramatic sense of culture historical importance. Past Frames of Mind provided the motivations and the rationalizations for historical action which are basically lost to our present world view. We cannot fully reconstruct these past frameworks of mind, but we can come to a sense of their critical differences through the ideological disinvestment of our own Frames of Mind and through seeking the unity of Mind which constitutes the principle identity of humankind. In such a search for lost difference, no stone can be left unturned, no matter how 'irrelevant' or trivial, whether in relation to our own fields of view of to those of other culture historical contexts. We can do no better than the excoriation of identity to get to the problematic core of basic, underived differences.

Frames of Mind are always heterogeneous and complex interactive phenomena encompassing the complete local context and configuring this against a general universal context of possibility. They are continuously dynamic in that they are subject to historical changes and process of transformation. And yet different Frames of Mind share similar sets of things or relations between things, recomposed differentially--the total range of which may actually be finite and limited and the relations between which may be systematically ordered in some complex manner. Different Frames of Mind are united by a common ground in the possibilities of mind--sharing a similar relational context which allow the possibility of intercommunication and mutual recognition and understanding between peoples.

 

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE AND THE EXPERIENCE OF STRESS

Symbolic disequilibrium between experience and environment induces a state of cognitive dissonance--cognitive dissonance leads to a need to assimilate new environment to one's experiential expectations or to accommodate ones expectations to new environmental problems. Cognitive dissonance is the expression of the experience of stress which is created by inexorable change. Stress becomes expressed cognitively, emotionally and motivationally. Stress is a symptom of experiential disease of the self in the environment. Overwhelming stress leads to a breakdown of the mind as an adaptive mechanism for the mediation of change in the environment--trauma may result in a 'conversion experience' which leads to a consequential experiential inflexibility--a fixation upon the stimulus of the traumatic event. Pathology of mind--disintegration of the identity of being--is the long term consequence.

 

MIND AS AN ADAPTIVE MECHANISM

 

Natural 'mind' evolved as a super organic adaptive mechanism or managing change in the environment. It evolved at the level of the individual human being, as a dual cybernetic system--an integrated natural sign system and natural symbol system focused exclusively upon perceptual images. The dialectical synthesis of a natural sign and symbol system was a primitive ideational system of mental images derived from experience--perceptual events. This ideational system may have been largely un-self-reflexive. Symbols remained 'sign oriented' and the natural environment was largely a 'sign dominated environment'.

The evolutionary ecology of 'mind' sign systems were 'mechanisms of selective perception' allowing reduction of noise and indeterminacy in complex natural environments--allowing maximization of carrying capacity of environmentally adaptive information for purposes of 'organic communication'--biological transmission.

Symbolization of signs allowed for a greatly increased order of information processing, arising as a 'learning' or 'stimulus generalizing mechanism' which enabled 'adaptive radiation' into a broad range of environments. Symbols were largely perceptual images--concepts remained 'concrete' and 'non-abstract' . symbols become general purpose tools that could be carried into different environments--tools were general purpose symbols which allowed adaptive flexibility in different environments.

The picture which emerges is one of small groups--family sized micro-bands spreading out from clan sized macro-bands. Small group survival depended upon the selective fitness of the individual. Adaptive radiations may have comprised only a small series--a wave of a few hundred or a few thousand individuals in a kind of 'outward movement'. The ability of 'mind' to function as a sign/symbol system in complex environments--not just in hunting but also in gathering adaptations, lead to 'environmental generalizations'.

Two or three such 'adaptive radiations' are apparently recorded in the hominid fossil record--the earliest is the highly successful Homo Erectus. Later the adaptive radiation of Archaic Homo Sapiens. Finally came the radiation of Modern Homo Sapiens in the upper Paleolithic 50-35,000 BP.

It is impossible that these early adaptive radiations were characterized by mechanisms of species wide 'self selection'--preferential mating of 'successful hunters/gatherers' and a gradual loss or culling of less fit members. This early selective mechanism focused upon the mother infant bond which promoted longer post partum infant dependency periods, a reduction in the rate of ontogenic development, selecting for greater cognitive growth and longer periods of 'learning'. Poor mothers would have been unsuccessful in reproduction. Crucial to infant cognitive development would have been peripatetic exploratory behavior, encouraging 'field independence'. Infant orality--putting things into the mouth might have selected for mothers who were able to keep a careful eye upon their infants and who knew the environment and yet who allowed children to explore.

Saltational episodes, early evolutionary events, were probably complex phases of rapid reproduction and population growth, perhaps stimulated by the introduction of new symbols or new 'discoveries' and perhaps preceded by a previous phase of population reduction or adaptive contraction which bottle necked a gene pool. Rapid reproductive increase and selection favored cognitive reorganization of 'mind' promoting symbolization. Successful 'cognitive' adaptation favored selective increase of the population, leading to a gradually slowing adaptive radiation, which gradually modified the 'new traits'. This process did not happen all at once, but took place in a series of 'steps'.

In this view, symbolic culture as an ideational system that is conceptually oriented and highly abstract is largely an 'epi-phenomena' of human evolution--a burgeoning development of human 'cultural evolution' (development) which emerged more recently and slowly but exponentially began to depart from the tract of human biological evolution.

Seen in this light, culture either as process or as material artifact is largely a secondary, derivative phenomena occurring long after the cognitive evolution of human 'mind' as an adaptive mechanism in complex environments.

Regulatory mechanism of 'culture' and 'cultural ecology' the bio-psychological functions of culture arose after the evolution of human mind, as secondary development and involved the development of the ideational systems component of 'mind' as a symbolic system--putting to service a symbolic system which had its own reasons in a previous evolutionary epoch.

Pre-cultural symbol systems were 'natural symbol systems'--symbols derived directly from nature. These systems served several interrelated functions--their primary function was to mediate changes in complex environments--by the framing of events by 'cognitive maps' derived from previous experiences. The empowerment offered by 'symbols' is to be found still in their evocative function to elicit modes, moods, memories and physiological and psychological responses which have their origin in 'instinct'--whether it is mass hysteria, stress response, hypnosis, exotic ritual, mass media preoccupied with sex and violence. They create the illusions of fear, of the separation of death and non-beingness, which have their symbolic source in the biological being of the primeval human being. The behavioral and physio-psychological responses symbol systems evoke are discrete and measurable. Natural symbols order an d channel such responses into appropriate patterns. The return to the communitas of 'primitive states' of being is a natural inclination.

Symbols stand intermediately between ideational and sign systems, serving to mediate and integrate these levels into a coherent 'whole'. This relates to the symbolic system function of individual identification in the dialectic between being and non-being. Symbol systems provide a 'cognitive identity of experience' of the individual which allows functional adaptation to strange environments. This begins at the perceptual level--the identity of perceptions--and becomes a cultural ideational identity of conception. With the development of culture, natural mind of the individual becomes displaced by the rational mind of the culture bearer.

With evolutionary development of mind, sign, symbol and ideational functions differentiate and become more systematically distinct.

With the development of culture history, symbol system come to have a higher, separate ideational function which is critically related to the organization structure of the social order. At this cultural order, natural symbol systems come to have a sign system function which becomes contextually bounded and conventionally non-arbitrary, tied by proximity to other symbols and come to have a 'cultural evolutionary and culture ecological' super organic purpose. In their ideological functional, abstract idea symbols cease to be arbitrary in their implicit arbitrariness--having a functional significance of their own, distinguishes from the sign function of natural mind.

 

WORLD VIEW AND CYBERNETIC SYSTEMS

 

The 'world view' of 'mind/language/culture' defines a centeredness of overlap and integrative congruence between sign systems, symbol systems and idea systems as a single cybernetic system. As sign systems, idea and symbol systems are subject to the same kinds of constraints as all sign systems but as an idea and symbol systems they become used 'both ways'--as sign systems and as symbol systems and as ideational systems--the constraints as if signs are lifted as symbols and ideas.

It is possible to cross reference sign, symbol and idea systems with analytical categories of mind, language and culture, and to investigate the relations between each of the nine combinations of the matrix.

It is also possible to speculate about the evolutionary order of development of 'world view' from signs to symbols to ideas, as a sequential unfolding of increasing sophistication. This sequence is reflected in the development of writing--from idiographic and rhebus and syllabic signs to alphabetic world symbols to modern concepts; but it is more likely that 'primitive' 'signs/symbols/ideas' co-evolved together into more complex 'signs/symbols/ideas'.

There is a sense of systems rooted in percepts--in perception based experience--and of 'primitive systems' adaptive function to process perceptual information. 'Sign systems' remain basically perceptually rooted systems, though the signs may become conceptually abstracted from root percepts. Symbols systems are anchored to sign percepts, concrete or abstracted, but float loosely upon the conceptual, completely abstracted level. Idea systems are no longer so anchored to percept based signs.

An 'etic' view of 'world view' would interpret symbol and idea patterns as 'sign systems' in the way that the natural sciences elicit from patternings of natural events basic ordering rules. An 'etic' view depends upon the 'natural ordering' of human cybernetic systems, of symbols and ideas, as if 'signs' and attempts to elicit what the rules for such a natural arrangement might be. An 'emic' view deals with symbol systems as symbols, idea systems as ideas and symbols, and tends to treat all human sign systems as if symbolic and ideational.

As sign systems the cybernetics of 'world view' has 'nothing but' significance--but as 'symbol systems' they have 'something more' importance.

 

SYMBOLIC TRAITS AND METAPHORICAL FUNCTIONS

 

The cohesive structure of symbols confers upon them other traits and other functions as metaphors which are ordering principles in the patterning of symbolic conglomerations. Symbols have depth and a multidimensionality which allow them to recur and co-occur upon several metaphorical levels of significance simultaneously. This accounts for their 'duality' of design--they function not only as signs at the level of signification and as multiple metaphors at the level of salience, but they also function metaphysically at a level of general relevance which is primarily abstract. These three levels are designated as 1) metonymical significance, 2) metaphorical relevance, 3) metaphysical importance. Each of these levels is characterized by the degree of contextual dependence/independence of function.

A limited number of symbols can be used in an almost infinite number of possible combinations to create an endless variety of combinations. Nominal symbols refer to 'things' or other symbols--'verbal symbols' refer to relations between things or symbols. Summarizing symbols refer to whole sets of symbols, elaborating symbols elucidate a single symbol. Dominant or master or key symbols are focal symbols which subsume or summarize symbolic conglomerations. Strong symbols have strong cohesive characteristics, weak symbols weak cohesiveness. Hard symbols are less fuzzy and more determinate--soft symbols have greater conglomerations and less determinacy. Peripheral symbols occur upon the margins of conglomerations, core symbols occur near the center. Dependent symbols modify independent or unbound symbols. Abstract symbols are mostly metaphysical--concrete symbols mostly metonymical. Orienting symbols and organizational symbols are used to order symbolic conglomerations--to 'center' them structurally. Independent symbols stand alone--accreting their own significance or meaning free of context, or making their own context.

Besides sharing all their design features of human language, such as semanticity, prevarication, truth value, duality, hierarchy, displacement, etc., symbols also have other characteristic functions. Symbols may be synonymous or antynonymous. Symbols function analogically and carrying meaning which is metalogical. Symbols are both reflexive and referential. They are arbitrary. Symbols must occur in arrangements which are internally non-contradictory and externally consistent with other symbols or experiential reality. Despite their fuzziness and plasticity symbols cannot be erroneous or out of order in arrangement. Despite arbitrariness, symbolic arrangements follow conventions and are constrained in an unrestricted sense.

 

SYMBOLIC CONGLOMERATIONS

 

Symbolic cohesiveness allows symbols to be aggregated into conglomerations or congregations of various sizes. A minimum number of symbols may form 'sets' or clusters--clusters may be congregated into larger sets or 'complexes' of associated clusters which may in turn be further aggregated to form entire 'constellations' which have a centeredness of gravitational attraction. Constellations are grouped to form whole cultural galaxies--what might be referred to as 'civilizations' of symbolic forms. These civilizations occur within a single integrate cultural continuum referred to as the symbolic universe. Symbol 'sets' of various orders have different integrational functions experiences--presenting themselves in a series, ordered one after another. They are read as a cultural narrative of experiences, or 'events' which are sequential in arrangement. Symbolic complexes organize domains of experience--different categories of complexes produce different categories of experience--they are 'trains of events' or separable, qualitatively distinct, 'episodes' of experience. Symbolic constellations order different symbolic complexes as 'trait complexes' which have a particular spatio-temporal locus. Symbolic constellations resemble bounded 'cultures' within a given geographical locale and historical period. They are an arrangement of a series of episodes into a particular cultural historical 'epoch'. This is the level of experience which has received the greatest attention by traditional cultural anthropology. 'Epoch' are ordered or arranged into a culture historical tradition of civilization which frequently has a specifiable boundary or set of long term growth patterns. Frequently this has been called 'culture area' and has become a way of parsing the globe in terms of cultural geography. Traditional civilizations tend to span several distinctive epochs, and may have a 'civilizing influence' extending well beyond boundaries of political control. What characterizes symbolic constellations and galaxies are not so much defining boundaries so much as 'complex centers' and the distances between such centers. Complexity 'centers' symbolic congregations--such complexity is made up of the local or regional integration of symbolic complexes--several such complexes or sets of complexes overlapping in such a way as to provide a symbolic unity of experience or of different sets of experiences in an orderly and organic manner. Within a tradition such centers go through a developmental cycle which leads to 'cultural evolution'--the branching of traditions into different directions, the coming together of other traditions, their extinction.

 

CRYSTALLYTIC STRUCTURE OF SYMBOLISM

 

Dialectical 'signs/symbols/ideas' cohere into 'symbolisms' of mind--salient focal points upon the culture historical landscape. Symbolisms are the nodal points of the symbolic networks--the points of overlap, conjunction and disjunction along symbolic pathways. They are critical points of transition or transformation of mind, from one state of beingness to another.

Symbolisms have a characteristic 'crystallytic' structure--their reiteration and conglomeration forms recognizable complex patterns which have a sense of symmetry, order and balance but which are infinitely variable in design. Symbolisms are able to refract dialectical mind through many different facets of beingness simultaneously. Similar symbolisms within larger complexes take on characteristic, characterizable forms which serve to distinguish them from other kinds of symbolisms--one symbolism will have a similar structure as a similar symbolism--however separated in space and time and though the actual symbolic markers or components may be heterogeneous and quite different from one another.

It is this crystallytic structure which allows different kinds of symbolism to integrate into organic complexes which then come to have a super organic or synergistic function. Symbolisms have definite compatibilities and complementarities with other kinds of symbolisms which allow them to become functionally integrated and specialized.

Symbolism have their original function in the individual's beingness in the world--and though they may be integrated to form complex organisms, these larger entities come to reflect and take on many of the basic characteristics of these symbolism on an independent, individual level. Complex symbolism thus become organized into patterns which resemble the organic organization of the individual. This allows us to compare levels of symbolic integration in homologous and cybernetically related ways.

The crystallytic structure of symbolism not only determines their patterns of development but sets the critical limits to the growth in complexity of symbolisms, beyond which they are subject to 'random events' which increase the likelihood of their disintegration over time.

The crystallytic structure of symbolisms makes their growth somewhat self organizing and also self limiting. It also creates symbolic 'resonances' or reverberations which tend to become 'self amplifying' and inter-integrative between different kinds of symbolisms--growth and decay in some symbolisms becomes reflected in the facets of other symbolisms.

 

BASIC SIMPLEXITY AND DERIVED COMPLICITY

 

Symbols oriented toward the natural environment have a basic simplicity about their design and function,--they are 'simplex' in the way that they network mind. Symbols which are derived from ideational constructs and which are oriented toward ideas have a fundamental complexity or 'complicity' about their design and function. Simplexity is basic and 'primitive' symbolic structure--complicity is always a 'derived' form. Symbolisms develop from simple forms and functions into complex forms and functions--they go from a general use design to one which is special purpose. Basic symbols and derived symbolisms thus organize mind in fundamentally different ways--the former being 'extensive' in orientation and the latter being 'intensive'. Growth of basic symbol is like an explosion diffusing outward from a center of origin--derived symbols 'implode' in an ever increasing complexity towards a center.

Simplex symbols form different inter-relational patterns than complex symbolisms. Simplex symbolisms interrelate with a limited number of other symbolisms in many different ways--each symbolism comes to take on an independent identity of function which cannot be easily substituted by other symbolisms in the network. Symbolism come to take on a variety of functions which gives them a versatility but which limits its capacity for any single kind of function. Symbolisms come to have an externally undifferentiated design.

Complicit symbolisms take on special purpose functions which come to define their relationship to other symbolisms--many different symbolisms perform many different, distinctive and discrete functions and these functions come to inter-integrate. One symbolism may be easily substituted for another--it is their function which remains indispensable.

With simplex symbolisms discrete functions may be lost without destroying the integrity of the whole symbolism--the symbolism remains symbol oriented in its primary purpose. Complicit symbolisms become function oriented--individual symbolisms may be lost without disturbing the functions in relation to the whole.

Simplex symbols act as symbolic ideas organizing a plethora of environmentally inscribed signs--complicit symbolisms become as symbolic signs organizing a range of ideas. Simplex symbolism tend to be highly internally differentiated but grouped on the basis of external differences and intensive focus. Simplex ideas lack a focus, but have a locus within themselves--complicit ideas have a focus, a center, but lack an internal locus.

 

EVOLTION OF SYMBOLS

 

Symbolic conglomeration 'evolved' from simplexity into complexity--individual pathways formed networks of symbolic clusters which eventually coalesced into larger and larger centers. This 'evolution' is actually a matter of fairly continuous development of the culture historical continuum. There was always some minimal symbolic network of humankind--individual pathways were never completely disconnected or non-overlapping. And this minimal network arose out of and is directly rooted in a minimal 'biological network'--the social behavior required for species survival and propagation. And it is at this original 'baseline' that the first symbolic rudiments of human culture history are to be found. The symbolic capacity which later allowed the full scale development of culture history must have evolved at this first stage in terms of the rudimentary network pattern of humankind.

 

SYMBO-LOGIC

 

Symbolisms, as systems and mechanism of mind, have a logic of its own which occurs at an unconscious level and which predetermines and preconditions conscious activity.

This unconscious symbolic logic exhibits certain distinguishing characteristics--a recurrence and resonance of motifs, multiple overlapping motifs, a consistent and symmetrical ordering or arrangement of its components. The symbo-logic is largely an aesthetic symbolism and appeals to an individual's aesthetic sensibilities and sense of design.

The unconsciousness of symbo-logic is the symbolic context which is rooted culture historically to larger symbolic context of understanding. It is an embedded and embodied 'mythology' of meaning which reiterates and reinterprets and recreates a larger culture historical context and which speaks unconsciously through the individual 'enactor' who is the vehicle or voice for bringing it to the level of conscious manifestation.

Symbo-logic is characteristically a hyperbolic mode of representation of reality--it involves a slight unconscious distortion to achieve its effect. It is this hyperbola which distinguishes symbo-logic.

The logical aspect of symbolism is its sense of syntactic configuration or arrangement which gives it relational constancy of pattern across different contexts. Symbolic syntax is a kind of complex dialectic involving a multiple number of thematic components contra poised to one another and indirectly related through another mediating component. This syntax is hypertactic, syncretistic and synthetic in that it involves conjoining components by relational linkages. Symbols have a dual function in that they may be either thing or relation or both--symbols relate other symbols. Symbological syntax has a 'shadow' effect, a translative and transformative consequence, and a reflectivity of symbolism such that one symbol is tuned into other symbols which are contextually related.

It is the systematicity of symbo-logic in their articulation and manifestation which allow symbolisms to be configured into complex, sophisticated arrangements of design and to cohere into 'cultural historical' complexes. Symbolism become 'woven' together in the worf and weft of time and space to create a tapestry of meaning which represents and reflects the reality in which it exists.

Part of the syntax of symbolism are the dialectics or the logic of opposites, of infinite reduction and the multifaceted 'profiles; of composite 'structures'.

 

 

RELATIONAL LOGIC

 

The basis of symbo-logos is relational logic--that set of principles governing relations between things and the contextuality of things. Relational logic transcribes signs into different signs and involves the translation of symbolism from spatial to temporal or temporal to spatial dimensions--relational logic is spatio-temporal. It is hyper physical in that the relations which it governs are beyond the purview of physical principles governing the relations between signs. They are relations of partial identity and relative differences between things based on ascribed values or importance assigned within a culture historical framework or 'hermeneutic circle'. This relational logic is nevertheless syntactically systematic and forms the basis of the structure of the unconscious as it is embedded and embodied in the relational context. It is based on the hypostatization of the relation between things and the reification of the attribution as if it were a 'thing' which embodies the identity and differences of the things being related. The strength of the attribution is based on the number of aspects of similarity and differences which it encompasses between things. For instance, round balls of different sizes are related on the basis of 'roundness' but distinguished on the basis of girth. If such balls were of a similar color and surface texture then they would held to be more alike even though their sizes were vastly different. Relational logic involves a balancing and a weighing of similarities and differences between things to determine the strength of weakness of the relationship.. it allows different objects to be taxonomically related on the basis of the number of shared affinities or ascribed characteristics and thus forms a taxonomy which is polythetic and non-hierarchical in structure.

These taxons tend to cross cut the physical perceptual ordering of experience even though the two sets overlap and are frequently contiguous. Principles of relational logic include: 1) Things spatio temporally proximate are more alike than things distal. 2) Things of similar shape or form or of similar sequential ordering are more alike than things of different form or sequential ordering. 3) Things which share a number of physical traits are more alike than things which have more differences between physical traits. 4) Things which are symmetrical in design are more alike than things which are asymmetrical. 5) Things which share the same set of contextual relations are more alike than things which have different sets of contexts. 6) Relations are more alike than things which have different sets of contexts. 6) Relations between things tend to be hyperbolic such that similarities or differences tend to be overemphasized or de-emphasized such that emphasis of the former leads to a conflation of identity and emphasis of the latter leads to contra distinction of differences. 7) Similarities tend to be positively values and differences tend to be negatively valued. 8) Things become relatively ranked according to their net positive and negative values. 9) Things of higher positive or negative rank tend to have more salience--the extremes tend to be emphasized and the middle ground excluded. 10) The systematic exclusion of the of the middle range of value leads to the hypostatization of absolute values of identity and difference between relational taxons. 11) These relational values become reified as substitutes for the elements of the taxons. 12) There is a systematic process of substitution, Grisham's Law, such that hyperbolic values and attributes tend to drive out or displace actual relations. 13) Previous values tend to lose their relational salience and become continuously replaced by more salient values, which in turn begin to lose their salience. 14) The greater the valence between things the greater the salience. 16) The greater the salience the faster the rate of substitution. 17) Things of balanced valence tend to have neutral value and are the slowest to substitute--the rate of substitution is more even, gradual, continuous. 18) Neutral things tend to remain in the contextual background.

 

 

 

 

SYMBOLIC PATHWAYS AND EXPERIENTIAL STREAMS

 

The function of symbolic congregations is to 'channel experience' along certain spatio temporal pathways--experience becomes channeled into continuous streams of meaning. Consciousness travels along these streams both through time and across space. Symbolic clusters constitute individual experiential pathways, arranging experience into a sequence of events--these pathways for networks at the level of symbolic complexes--symbolic networks situate individual experience into communities of relational, interpersonal experiences. Separate such symbolic networks may converge or overlap into a complex aggregation with develops a 'locative' center orienting different orders of experience in an integrated way. A set of such centers forms a regional or interregional dynamic leading to a complementary functional integration or a widening sphere of influence extending over wide areas of space or continuing through long frames of time.

At symbolic centers, networks converge and overlap and take an essentially different structural character than in simple aggregations. In such a way it can be seen how individual streams of experience become channeled into converging common streams of cultural experience, which flow 'together' in centers which constitute 'pools' or experiential reservoirs. While pathways multiply and criss-cross in ever increasing social entanglements, streams of experience steadily converge into a collective pool. In such pools, 'collective experience' takes on a 'corporate' character, such that the total range of experience extends beyond the single spans of individual experiences.

 

SYMBOLIC MAZEWAYS AND MENTAL MAPPING

 

Experiential pathways structured symbolically into congregation and networks become a labyrinth of experience--a symbolic mazeway composed of corridors of movement and change, turning points, intersections, doorways and windows, walls and fences and open areas. The mazeway becomes an expression of symbolic unconsciousness, or the unconsciousness is the expression of the symbolic mazeway of mind--as it is composed of the collective 'unknown' pathways which represent possibilities of experience. The existential problematic of the individual is to learn how to negotiate these mazeways in a successful manner, such that movement down a corridor does not lead to a dead end but to gateways through which other openings may be found. We acquire 'cognitive maps' derived from our own or other people's experience--ideational symbolisms which 'map' onto the mazeway and allow us to successfully negotiate it. Mental 'maps' are cognitive constructions of experience of environments.

 

CENTERS OF GRAVITY, CENTRIFUGALITY AND CENTRIPEDALITY

 

Symbolic galaxies and cultural groupings have a centeredness of gravity about which all symbols become oriented. People and things become defined in relation to their centeredness. This field of gravity attracts and pulls everything towards the center--it is a great constraining force preventing movement from the center or crossing over to other cultural centers. The force at the center is much stronger than at the periphery--beingness at the center is much more constrained than beingness at the periphery.

Cultural centers have a centrifugality and a centripedality--things and people are thrown off from the center, diffusing outwardly and other things are pulled into the center through gravitational attraction.

The push and pull of cultural centeredness is the result of symbolic displacement--two ideas of mind that cannot occupy the same point in time and the same place. Symbols have an inertia, mind has a beingness of its ideas. Movement of some ideas toward the center entails displacement of other ideas from the center--movement of ideas from the center creates a vacuum which draws in other ideas away from the center.

The center of gravity of a cultural grouping defines the structural integrity of that symbolic constellation, the web of relations--the culture historical fabric. The sense of integrity is greater at the center--the consistency and coherence. There is less ambiguity or uncertainty at the center. There is greater overlap between culture historical boundaries and spatio temporal boundaries. Reality at the center is much more highly 'structured'. There is greater momentousness of mind and culture historical momentum at the center. There is greater symbolic and relational 'density' at the center, hence greater inertia. The closer to the center something is drawn, the steeper the gradient for such movement, and the more difficult such movement becomes. There is hence greater degrees of displacement towards the center, with a corresponding greater centripedality.

The center of gravity leads to an accretion of symbols toward the center, a gradual aggregation of such symbols until a critical phase line is surpassed, at which point forces of randomization begin to set in leading to the disintegration or disaggregation of the center.

 

SYMBOLIC UNIVERSES AND CULTURAL CONTINUUM

 

A culture is a limited grouping of particular people in a given time or place--frequently circumscribed by a linguistic or territorial boundary--or it is the distinctive way of life of such a grouping. A culture exists in history. A culture consists of a given 'galaxy' of symbolic constellations which accrete centrifugally about some 'center of gravity'. But culture are rarely if ever completely isolated from other cultures--there is always some degree of interchange across cultural borders. 'Culture' describes the pan cultural characteristics of humankind as it occurs through all time and across all space, and the 'cultural continuum' is complete range of intercultural relations and interchanges serving to situate separate, distinguishable cultural groupings within a larger field of relations. The cultural continuum encompasses all boundaries between cultural groupings, whether of space or time or of kind, as being semi-permeable and non-absolute. The cultural continuum itself has no recognizable boundaries--it encompasses the symbolic universe of humankind as the total, but infinite, range of symbolic variations and combinations available through space and time. The symbolic universe has no edges and no beyond in an extensive sense, except the unknowables of death and non-beingness.

It is moot point to ask whether there are not multiple symbolic universes. There are as many separable symbolic universes as there have been cultural galaxies and symbolic constellation with their own center of gravity. These differences though are intensive and qualitative--there may be infinite variations upon common themes, and no definite historical boundaries but these remain many variations upon a finite number of common themes. Cultural galaxies may be internally and intensively infinite, but they remain always extensively bounded and finite in the fixed range of its variations. Intensively, there are multiple symbolic universes, but extensively there remains only one, and that is the symbolic universe of the cultural continuum--the human universe of 'culture' as a defining characteristic of humankind.

Though there are no extensive boundaries of the cultural continuum, there are definitely recognizable 'horizons' of our understanding of its universe, beyond which our knowledge gives way to the unknown. As we approach our human horizons, knowledge gives way to ignorance, and is replaced by myth and prejudice until we are no longer able to deal in a scientific world of fact but in one of fiction. And this is an approximate matter--approaching an ever receding point of absolute zero--or of absolute nothingness.

 

 

 

DIALECTICS AND DICHOTOMIES

 

The dialectical tradition reaches back to Plato and Aristotle and took the form of discursive argument between an opponent and a respondent in which the arguments were framed in a syllogistic arrangement. It was not demonstrative in the way that syllogistic logic was held to be, nor was it rhetorical or convincing as 'eristic'--the success of the dialectic was to achieve an effective and relatively objective question and answer dialogue about some central theme of discussion. This dialectic tradition formed the basis of western scholastic tradition up until the 18th century--it was the core part of the curriculum of every major European university with but minor variations. Even so, dialectics in the traditional sense has fallen by the wayside as a polemical practice, with few surviving records of its many instances, or else it has come down to us 'Hegelian Dialectics' which involves a transcendent synthesis as an intrinsic part of the counterpoint between thesis and antithesis.

The important point is that our academic tradition remains steeped in an embedded tradition of dialectical practice though it has become largely unaware the extent of its influence in the modern world. Dialectics allows for a thematic dichotomization of reality between a thesis and its opposite antithesis--an affirmation of identity and the negative denial of difference. It is this dichotomization of human reality which provides the consistent and extended tension of reason and relevance for theoretical polemic and discourse--it also opens the way for falsification and prevarication of truth.

The dichotomization of human reality is a consequence of the pervasiveness of the dialectical tradition. Such a tradition has been rooted in the importance of basic oral dialogue as a fundamental part of the socio cultural fabric of language in a public forum. Dialogue and discursive practice is at the heart of dialectics as a tradition of intellectual practice, and dialectics was principally and purposely achieved by means of such dialogical exercise. It also points up in the dichotomization of reality between thesis and antithesis the essential duality of human understanding and meaning systems as these are projected symbolically within cultural contexts. Basic terms such as identity/difference, being and non-being, means/end, rational/relative, mind/body, nature/culture, male/female, becomes the focal center point for such dialectical discourse, pursued formally and informally as an exploratory intellectual exercise in asking and answering questions.

 

SYMBOLISM OF CYCLICAL TIME

 

All time is cyclical--the circle is the only method of for the measurement of time. The circle and the center of the circle are the symbolic embodiments and spatialized representations of time (the clock).

The exact, ever diminishing perfect center of the circle is the symbol of perfect, eternal time--time which transcends changing and comprehends absolute peace. It is perfectly motionless time. Concentric circles about the center expresses relative time which is also real and incomplete time. It is the time of the cosmic which is in endless movement about the center. The circle represents infinity--as the endless movement of time in space. Distance from the center is the relative degree of change. The further from the center the greater the rate of change, the faster the movement of time. All change emanates from the center and orients itself around the center in cyclical revolutions.

Linear time is the unfolding of cyclical time projected upon a single plane. Linear time becomes spatialized time. The view from the center must see linear time as 'progressive' and purposive--as an evolution of events unfolding in a determined direction of change.

The center constitutes the greatest degree of control over change. It represents absolute control. It is the symbol of the Oculus or the pan optical eye of the cosmos--the omniscient knower or envisor of truth.

The number of revolutions counted from the baseline of time are the indexes of measurement of the degree of change from a point of origin. Time is spiraling out worldly.

Journeying closer to the center is to embody greater timelessness as the center of being. Journeying to the center is a journey to absoluteness--absolute power, truth and time. Standing at the center of the circle is to empower oneself with an omnipotency and omnipresence of spirit. It is a symbolic and ritual act of absolute control.

Spirit always exist at the motionless, changeless center--the exact center of the hub of the spokes of the turning wheel.

Emotionally, the center is the point of origin. It is the womb of the mother. The essence of the female element. Time and change become a male-female dialectic of roundness and straightness, pole and fountain, etiphallic penis and vulva.

Natural time is time ordered periodicities and sequences of events--eclipses, waxing and waning of moons, diurnal/nocturnal rhythms, biological cycles, seasonalities of plants and the growth cycles of animals, living and dying.

Calendrical time is ordered cosmologically by the counting of the cycles of the sun and the moon. There is agricultural time and historical time.

Mechanical time, clock time, machine time and developmental time of the modern era with increasing degrees of the symbolic directions of time. Time is linearized and vectorial in its symbolization of force.

Cybernetic time are the cycling of systems of information--the rate and capacity of the flow of information. Scientific time is symbolic of prediction and control of physical processes.

 

SYMBOLIC ECOTONES

 

Symbolisms and systems of symbolization evolve boundaries and borders in the regions of mind which define the limits of their adaptiveness and functioning. These boundaries might be described as symbolic ecotones which serve to separate different symbol systems and to control and constrain the interaction between outer and inner regions demarcated by the boundaries.

Different kinds of symbolisms may overlap to some extent, and thus integrate to form a large system, but symbolism of the same order or kind tend to be mutually exclusive of one another which it becomes the function of the ecotone to maintain separation and distance.

Ecotones are the edges of the adaptive radiations of symbolisms in culture history. They are the adaptive boundaries of time and space which determine where and when one style or trait ends and another takes over.

 


Blanket Copyright, Hugh M. Lewis, © 2005. Use of this text governed by fair use policy--permission to make copies of this text is granted for purposes of research and non-profit instruction only.

Last Updated: 09/21/06