We start from the Cell
It's funny how we overlook our multicellular status.
Two teenagers are in the library and one says to the other "do you smoke?", the younger one, replies, in a deepened and effortlessly deliberate voice,
"yeah....why?". I sit there, stunned as to what this mind is doing to it's cellular community.
I ask that you close your eyes and imagine your body without all the products that cells secrete. That is, without all the proteins that connect cells
together and the liquids that flow through us. Imagine, simply, the 50 trillion cells that make up our body (plus the 100 trillion or so bacteria that
occupy our digestive tract). Imagine what this would look like. It would be visible, some cells smaller and appearing dust like, others as large as a
grain of salt. But there would be a space in between them.
Cells live and act and perform the activities that give us our sense of life. But when you shrink the scale and look inside of us, the body is a
universe unto itself. Cells send messengers back and forth to one another in a dazzling and dizzying dance of chemical complexity; this sugar having
this effect on this amino acid which causes this nucleic reaction; and this happens in thousands of ways within one cell at any moment. Cells are
communicating and connecting, but their entire logic is no longer simply cellular. The body they create at the macro scale possesses an intelligence
and will that is independent of the focal interest of the cell.
The Body As Creation of The Cells
Through what we call habit, the consciousness of the cells impel feelings in the organism. Which causes which? Although the cells work and breathe in
a world of chemical reactions, the organism encounters worlds from which a menu of responses can become activated. The responses are epigenetically
plastic within the neuron system of the animals brain. The genes of the neurons "read" the meanings the organism encounters. Here, the world of
external events, a mating call, a dance, a sound, elicits cellular responses that tune to the animals lived reality. Second by second, the dynamics of
the cells synchronize themselves with the worlds outside them. Inside connecting without outside.
Society As Creation of Organisms
I wont stick to the animal model, though I use the word "organism" to point out the generality of my point. The cells in connecting with one another
end up creating "body's". This is what we mean by the word 'evolution'. The secreted products are the "links" that draw cells into closer contact with
one another. They possess positive or negative charge. All of life is held together by a force of opposite energies.
As human beings, we are born into a world that structures us before we realize who and what we are. Were "filled up" by experiences we didn't ask for,
and strangleheld by perceptions we can't disengage from. The experiences of life create a "substance" we call a self. A strong sense that there is an
"I" behind my actions. But in trying to locate this self, we come up empty handed.
The self is a 'necessary' illusion, akin to the protein products secreted by cells to keep the multitude of the cells in contact with one another. In
the case of the self, something is 'there', but what it is seems limited to what it does. And what the self does
is keep us in contact with the
world around us.
The self "comes out" whenever it is gripped by a perception; thus, the self is made up of the images, sensations and perceptions we have, and how
we apply it in directed action.
The self is the sense of being aroused
by the world about us, and in being aroused, we become 'structured'
by it, because the cells within us have built a 'model' of the object 'out there' that produces this (pleasurable, prodigious) sort of experience "in
Obviously, I can't account for the substance of mind that the self unfurls within. Consciousness is a mystery that boggles everyone who has ever
thought about it. How can the physical object, the cell, its molecular machinery - other chemicals which are 'used' by the cell to sustain itself -
give rise to the type of creature - and being - we experience ourselves as being? Is consciousness different from matter? Is the relationship between
the two literally a sort of yin-yang, positive world of matter which "posits" a world, a negative world of mind which 'negates' a world? What is the
nature of the relationship between the two? Is life only that point where the two points intersect? Or, as it appears to be, if the physical can seem
to exist apart from the mental, can the mental also seem to exist apart from the physical? Is there a vantage point from another side that somehow can
be contained by a non-linear system?
Society is made up of individual minds who come together from symmetrical organizational beginnings. Our parents and early relations all shape us, so
we all develop ways of dealing with our experience without knowing how we do it.
We each live in a cognitive 'bubble' that eludes the emotional language that governs our reactions towards one another. Where I see desire to act,
there is also a fear of not acting. When others respond negatively to my assertions of self, I feel shame. This positive/negative dynamic mirrors the
dynamics at the molecular level. My positive attempt at connecting with another person, if rebuffed, can generate a 'negative disposition' to the
other who 'denies' my selfhood: my positive expression of self. Shame experienced slowly morphs into a counter-affect: anger. Anger and a desire for
power, those emotions which link up with ways of being in the world - culture - underlies almost all narcissistic emotion. Whenever a kid at school
teases another kid about some apparent vulnerability (short, fat) they do it partly - and as an organizing dynamic, totally - to disavow their
experience of weakness and vulnerability in other contexts, when they, and not the kid they're bullying, were the ones shamed and humiliated by their
Just as an internal logic governs the activity of cells - the properties which essentially "create" out consciousness of selfhood - an internal
psychological logic creates our selfhood. But just as cells are 'moved' by processes occurring elsewhere in the dynamic 'world' of the organism, so to
does the activity of any human mind become 'structured' by the activities of other peoples behaviors.
If we connect just as cells do, what is the organism that we make up? Does its invisibility mean it doesn't exist? Yet, when my internal experience is
logically predicated on a non-linear system of other minds, I'm left with no "thing" to speak of. Yet, am I not a "thing' made up of the cells which
generate my consciousness?
Is God such a thing? Others give it a different name, Buddha, Tao, Universe, Energy. Point is, people have a tendency - an emotional predilection - to
relate with those 'things' - those concepts - in an ontological, and substantial, way.
I think its ok and totally natural to think there is a 'self', beyond our individual self. And given our unique situation in the universe, I do not
consider it too optimistic to think that life implies a God, because there truly is, something, at root, fundamentally meaningful about the human
edit on 15-5-2015 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)