difference over time

3 02 2012

The late great Gregory Bateson drew attention to the simple equivalence:

What he meant was, if you close your eyes, and run your finger over a crack, you can sense the crack only because your finger is moving. If it is still, whether on the crack or not, there is no differential, and as such, there is no sense — you can’t tell whether your finger is on the crack or not.

It has made my mind go in a few explorative directions, some of which may test the reader’s ability to conceive as it may transgress certain conceptual boundaries.


That is, value is an estimation of the difference between state of mind at time t and at t+1. This subjectively derived enumeration is a measure of experience. In a crude way, it could be used to determine the learning experience, how much I have learned over a period of time.

That is, the experiences of person A and B are different, given the same time. There is something multiplicative about this. Two different experiences, or indeed as many experiences are there are people, of the same time.

Combine this with the squaring observation above, and consider a group of seven people experiencing the same “meeting”, and the reflective evaluations of each other’s experience. Things get out of hand rather quickly, and not simply in terms of the mathematical number of handshakes (7! is it?), but in terms of the psycho-dynamics. There are orders of complexity here.

Which leads to a rather intuitive leap to map it against buddhist “piles” or “heaps”, which I have considered to be emergent levels of complex organisation:

form inorganic matter .
sense ∆ form awareness of form
perception ∆ sense awareness of change of form, and yet maintenance of “form identity”
volition ∆ perception awareness of change of sense, “making sense”
consciousness ∆ volition awareness of change of perception, continuity of “perceptual identities”
“social”? ∆ consciousness awareness of change of consciousness, true acknowledgement of equivalent “other”

I’ve no idea how useful this is. And it is too linear for my liking. Bees and ants, for example, seem to suggest to me that their “perception” may be embodied at a collective level rather than at the individual. It is too easy to think of hierarchy here, of progress. The buddhists give clear warning to the illusion of our projective mind, the thought center, and seem to seat consciousness at a lower level, heart-mind. Having the simplicity of an animal, a self-aware animal, rather than an animal that runs after mental objects and thinks of themselves as something different.

This kind of thinking might enter into wise^0 territory. Just wanted to include this in order to exercise the possibility that any mathematician will tend to import math that has been applied to the world of objects, whereas there may be a different form of maths, or application of it, that is better suited for the exploration, and perhaps modelling, of consciousness and social dynamics. With this in mind, the table above suggests rates of change, eg

Which is simply reminiscent of acceleration, as d/t^2. And if you find your mind responding sceptically, simply consider your experience of music. Distinctions in time. And the different layers of complexity. It is in this are, subjective experience, that math needs to evolve a simplicity and subtlety that is lacking in its application to physical systems.

Can we allow ourselves to even think this…?




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