Home > consciousness, cosmology, information, metaphysics, Perception, philosophy > Our Universe of Nested Contrast and Criticality

Our Universe of Nested Contrast and Criticality

From my blog

Life is almost infinitely cruel and almost infinitely generous.
The night sky presents a view of the universe which is defined by two striking extremities. There is not merely dark and light, or yin and yang, but twinkling brilliance scattered across a pitiless black void. The stars are spread out in a way that presents another set of qualitative extremes – pattern and patternlessness.

The condition of being poised precisely between order and chaos is sometimes known as criticality. It is also, uncoincidentally, the way that brain activity looks to us from the outside. When we look at the world, the degree to which it makes sense is calibrated by our own sensitivity to patterns. That sensitivity, in turn, changes dynamically according to our physiological states and our psychological participation. We can look at the night sky we can see patterns that other people can see also, if they look at them in the same or similar way. Astrology is an example of practices that explore this shared criticality of perception and participation. To see constellations in the stars, and to see in their shapes reflections of your own shared experience and culture is not only the beginning of astrology and astronomy, it is the beginning of religion and science as collective activities around which civilization has been built.

All formal attempts at divination seem to exploit the criticality between discovery and invention. People use cards, coins, tea leaves, dice, etc as a way to access the general probability stream of the moment, and then to intentionally interrupt that stream and freeze it. It is a way of teasing uncoincidence out of coincidence.

When we look at the sky, do we choose to see a ‘bright blessed day’ and the ‘dark sacred night’, or do we prefer to see through such fanciful illusions to a starker, but possibly more accurate truth? Feeling and seeing have their own polarity in thinking and knowing. Using the concept of anthropcentrism, we can reframe the appearance of contrasting qualities as inevitable rather than miraculous. We can look at all dualities as simply the natural consequence of detection methods being employed by body systems. Hot and cold are sensations that signal some proximity to the upper and lower bounds of our body’s biochemical-thermodynamic range. As we acclimate to artificially controlled environments, our body adapts these signals to straddle a much narrower range of ‘comfort’. Even a single degree of deviation in temperature can become uncomfortable for one person, but comfortable to another, even as they live in the same house and relax on the same couch.

Should I try to tie these themes together, and sum them up in some kind of clear point, or is it better to let this stand in criticality? Are questions better than answers? Are meta-questions invitations to criticality or meta-criticalities?

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