I promised I would talk about practical applications for science based on observing the world in its own language. (This is commonly called phenomenological science, but I’m trying to find a simpler expression for that.) Better just to jump right in! OK, so here’s my wasp and her grub.
There are a bunch of different ways of thinking about her.
1. We could talk about the wasp laying her eggs in the living grub, so it can incubate her eggs and then provide food for her larvae. This is an evolutionary strategy. Discussions of this kind of science have so far lead to methods of using wasps for pest control.
2. We could talk about how the wasp is doing on a multicellular level what cancer does on a cellular level. This is an ecological strategy. It means a couple things. First, that the wasp has randomly found a successful approach that allows it to survive across generations by using surrogates. Second, that it is even possible to consider higher orders of life operating as cancers. Discussions of the latter kind of science will lead to technologies that use living hosts to transmit genetic material across boundaries that would otherwise destroy it. For the wasp it is winter. For humans, it is what we can imagine. Travel to Mars, perhaps. Deep sea travel. Who knows. Currently, such technology is most prevalent in cancer treatment and in computer virus transmission. Pretty aggressive military stuff. Note that the wasp does not have a military strategy. There are alternate technologies within that.
3. We could talk about the wasp as a wasp. It lifts this grub, with intent, and moves it through gargantuan expenditures of energy. To the wasp, this is not a grub. It is a reproductive chamber. It is its self and all its future. A human mother might look at a house in much the same way. The existence of a creature with this degree of intent, with, as well, a tiny nervous system and brain, should be enough to challenge human notions of identity and superiority. If the wasp can do all this with a tiny nervous system, what is our huge nervous system for? Variability? Potentiality? Is each of us all the wasps in the world?
And here I should stop, because it’s obvious what’s going on: in each case, technological application are easily applicable, yet they are always on the order of observing a behaviour, abstracting principles from it, and applying them to new circumstances, in machine-type ways. However, the wasp is just a wasp. The technology should be applicable in a wasp-fashion, or even in a human fashion, without resorting to technology. That’s just a language (and a powerful one at that.) What if there were a different language? What if we stopped thinking about the wasp and evolution and all that jazz? What if we looked at where she lives?
The forest boundary berry of the Northwest. (Here, it’s growing on a lakeshore.)
Now we have three players: wasp, grub and kinnikinnic. Might as well throw in the stump, too. And the carpenter ants (no doubt) within it. And the grubs tunnelling (no doubt) under its bark. And the bear who comes by every few years, maybe, to shred the stump looking for them. If we think of them all together, then there is no evolutionary strategy, on behalf of the wasp, but, rather, a balance strategy. There are threads of energy in this environment. Evolutionary science reads them as competitive pressures, leading to temporary balances. What if they were balances, which led to temporary competitive pressures? Such an approach to science would lead to different medical technologies, one which included the artistry of its practioners. What if there were no individual species present here, but, rather, a constellation of species, that might be differently constituted elsewhere? Would not balance provide the stories, then, rather than evolution? Might it not lead to technologies which included points of balance? Usually, such technologies are called religions, but what if devices could be made that, in accordance with human input, could deliver individual results, depending on what a person needed? Would this technology be a kind of amulet? Yes, I think so, and I think this would, again, commonly be defined as a religion. Might it, not, however, be a form of psychology? Might the way forward for psychological science be not ESP and other measurable (or not) effects on matter, but on its ability to change the observer, so that he or she observed different material and thus had before himself or herself a different set of possibilities? Why not. Just a metre away from our wasp and her grub are the tiny fish among these stones, and the algae growing on them.
Yes, there are fish. Look again, if you missed them.
Lake and shore. Two different environments… or is that just a human bias? What if they are one, and the force that creates the wasp creates these young trout? What is their balance point? What is their surrogate, if they have one? The technology that comes out of such questions will lead to a healthy planet. We really do have to choose. Technology can be a set of mechanical tools. It can also be a set of energies. Those energies are not limited to the exchange of electrons to transfer electrical signals to effect certain results. What if the earth were your brain? What if its most important work were to stop action rather than to create it? That’s not a suggestion to stop action, by the way, but to transfer it into balance. This is why the scientist-poet Goethe said we should stop listening to Newton. That was 200 years ago. I think it’s about time. What are the technologies? I don’t know, but I promise, they are as large as the set created by Newtonian science. Some already exist. I’ll walk about some of those in my next post. Thanks for swimming with the fish with me!