Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Emergent Behavior: the fount not only of intelligence but of the very idea that God exists

CC Jean Stimmell: 8/1/14
The impetus for this blog came from an intriguing quote from a recent piece about eastern religion in the NYT that resonated with my Jungian worldview:

[S]ome Hindu philosophers have concluded that mind and the mental must be embodied. If so, reincarnation requires that mental states must be able to be “multiply realized” in different physical states. This led to the idea, much later popular among analytic philosophers of mind, that the mental is a set of functions that operate through the body. Such an approach supports the idea that there is a place for the self within nature, that a self — even one that exists over time in different bodies — need be not a supernatural phenomenon.⁠1
Graffiti Image Emerging at Sewell Falls: 8/2/14
CC Jean Stimmell
This idea that mind and body can be “multiply realized” is akin to quantum physics which postulates that light can exist in different states at different point in time, sometimes as a particle, sometimes as a wave. 

What many people don’t know is that Carl Jung was highly influenced by this “new physics,” keeping abreast with the  discoveries of both David Bohm and Albert Einstein.

Then yesterday, in a kind of synchronicity,  I read a transcript for a course I am taking of an interview by Joseph Cambray, Ph.D, who expounded on this very subject. 

[Jung] didn’t think that mind and matter were two fundamentally separate things…If you follow the psyche down, …you get to the psychosomatic realm of experience fairly quickly…the mind body relationship shows up in illness all the time, so already you can see that psyche is influencing soma and soma is probably influencing psyche. He’s looking to get to the point where those two things blur and blend into one another, so that matter starts to have some psychological-like properties, and the psyche seems to have a kind of substance in the world. That was the fundamental idea.”⁠2

If, indeed, mind and matter are not fundamentally separate things but different states of the same entity – in the same manner as light can be both a particle and a wave – then that brings up interesting questions: like what exactly is intelligence and where does it come from?

Cambray talks about how scientists at the Santa Fe Institute, using simulations and modeling, showed how when particles interact with one another, whatever they are, whether people or atoms, and if they interact in a competitive environment, they have the capacity to self organize, and once they start to self organize, you get new properties that are completely unexpected, that’s what emergence is. 

The world  unfolds unscripted, moment by moment, through emergent behavior. Mind manifesting itself through matter.  No need for humans to set themselves up as the “intelligent ones.” No need to postulate the existence of God as first mover.

Jung intuitively tapped into this idea 75 years ago before science could back it up. He connected this notion of unscripted oneness back to the classical worlds of antiquity, quoting the Greek physician Hippocrates: 

“There is one common flow. One common breathing. All things are in sympathy. The whole organism and each one of it’s parts are working in conjunction for the same purpose. The great principle extends to the extremist part, and from the extremist part it returns the great principle to the one nature; being and not being.”⁠3 

This concept of “one common flow” is the essence of the eastern  philosophy, particularly the Tao, the force that flows through every living and sentient object, as well as through the entire universe.  

Of course, the very thought of surrendering our individual selves and our ego to one common flow, The Tao, is entirely foreign to western ears, both alien and mysterious.

Cambray gives one amazing example of emergent behavior – about intelligent behavior emerging out of the group without it being coded in any one individual – that is, at least to me and David Van Nuys who is interviewing Cambray, more than mysterious, it is absolutely mind blowing!  

Here is his story about beetle larvae:
This was something I picked up in some scientific publications, it had nothing to do with psychology. These are beetle larvae from the Mojave desert. They tend to clump, a number of them all get on to a little branch, and… they make a kind of lumpy shape that apparently looks enough like a female bee, and gives off the right pheromone, that male bees try to come and mate with this clump. In the process, these beetle larvae, which are parasitic, attach themselves to some of the chest hairs of the male bee, and then when the male bee leaves, he carries them around to an actual mating event with a female, they transfer on her back, they’re carried by her to the hive, where they then eat the pollen. If they don’t do this, this is what’s remarkable, if they don’t do this, they can’t complete their life cycle. So that the creation of this bee-like structure is an emergent form. There’s no image inside these creatures to build a bee, and there’s nobody telling them how to do this, it’s a spontaneous self-organization into that form.⁠4 

I am obviously indebted to Joseph Cambry Ph.D. for many of the ideas in this blog and look forward to finish reading his book Synchronicity and the Interconnected Universe. I wholeheartedly endorse what he says in the introduction to this work:

[Jungian] analytic explorations have the potential to activate, energize, and focus unconscious processes, which often lead to experiences that are perceived as extraordinary from the perspective of ego consciousness.⁠5


1 What Would Krishna Do? Or Shiva? Or Vishnu? by Gary Gutting  NYT8/3/14
2 Transcribed from www.ShrinkRapRadio.com : Shrink Rap Radio #311: Synchronicity and the Interconnected Universe Page 9 of 23
3 Shrink Rap Radio #311: Synchronicity and the Interconnected Universe David Van Nuys Ph.D. Interviews Dr. Joseph Cambray (transcribed from www.ShrinkRapRadio.com by Jeremy Devens)
4 Shrink Rap Radio #311: Synchronicity and the Interconnected Universe Page 15 of 23. Transcribed from www.ShrinkRapRadio.com
Dr. Joseph Cambray PhD. Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe (Kindle Locations 84-85).
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