Cognition & Reality

Friday, 8 May 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 10:30 pm

The other day I was searching for a workshop on Ericksonian hypnosis. To my surprise and satisfaction a link from “Milton Erickson” took me to a site called “Radical Constructivism,” presenting non-dualistic ideas. Mainly, the site discussed the implications of the idea that experience is a construction emanating (?) from a closed system. 

As I read, I found myself thinking, “this applies to Piaget.” Practically in the next instant, as I shifted to another section, I read something like, “These constructs obviously connect with Piaget’s work…” More to the point, I ended up on a page dedicated to the Chilean who won a Nobel for his breakthrough work on frog’s eyes (yes, the study of frog’s eyes can get you a Nobel Prize…if you’re a fucking genius neurophysiologist.) 

A 1980 book chapter by Maturana had as much influence on my own ideas as anything I have read. I had, however, forgotten how ridiculously hard he is to read. Although he writes fluently in English, it’s not his native language; the idiom sometimes escapes him. The real problem is that his sentences leave no stone unturned in an attempt to address a legion of potential criticisms. Anyway, he long ago began extending his scientific work into the area of human interaction, but without abandoning any of the principles guiding his science. 

As Piaget understood, a dualistic ontology does not withstand scientific scrutiny and collapses when it comes to explaining consciousness (human experience?). Maturana offers a non-dualistic explication of these problems and he offers a solution…in horribly complicated but ultimately lucid sentences.

According to Maturana, experience is a function of a biological organism existing as a closed system interlocked (but not interlaced) with a “medium” (defining world). The mind is in a self-organizing entity comprising all of its possibilities, including those that appear to be “outside” the organism. An organism out of balance with its medium adapts in characteristic ways, but is in increasing danger from excessive accommodation to environmental perturbations. 

I don’t know if I have clarified how this connects with our work. In time, I hope to “translate” Maturana and Piaget, another difficult writer for a lot of the same reasons, into terms that can help us deepen our clinical understanding. There are strong connections, as well, between this “package” and the Advaita school of Vedanta (HInduism) Right now I’m tired, but I wanted to share my excitement. 

As the Governator said, “I’ll be back”…driving a great big truck.


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