Discussing memories, identities, and perspectives
is verbally handling words, notions, and implicit assumptions,
most of which are, at the same time, assumptions as to how human
information processing, learning, and knowledge work.
Since I happen to believe that many of the assumptions as
to how everyday thinking and knowledge work - that are dominant
in the Western tradition of thought - are apt to seriously mislead
our thinking, I shall - following Prof. Panikkars example - sketch
some of my own assumptions and develop some related notions in
nine points. At the end I shall try and apply some of it to the
development of shared perspectives.
1. One must distinguish between two sorts of investigations
In systematically investigating both our experience of the
world and our memories thereof, which play a dominant role in
influencing our behaviour at any given moment, I suggest that
we have to distinguish two types of investigations.
First, we can investigate what we observe and experience
(in the world) and second, we can investigate and reflect how
we deal with what we observe and experience.
If one does not make that distinction these two types of investigation
are carried out as one and the same investigation. In that case
attention jumps back and forth between phenomena observed in
the outside world and phenomena in the world of thinking.
Investigations are, however, supposed to be systematic. If
that is so, the question arises: Is it not that systematic thinking
implies that the focus of attention remains the same, i.e. that
the field one is studying consists of phenomena that are similar
and/or interrelated ? If one's attention jumps back and forth
from one field of observation to another, one does not remain
in the same field of observation. Such investigations cannot
be considered as systematic.
I shall, therefore, concentrate my attention on the second
type of investigation, i.e. on thinking.
2. How we deal with what we observe and experience
implies more than verbal and conscious thinking
In investigating how we deal with what we observe
and experience the field of investigation must not be artificially
restricted to verbal thinking and conscious thinking.
Conscious thinking can be likened to the tip of an iceberg.
But the tip of the iceberg is no different from the rest of the
iceberg because it is visible by us. What becomes the tip of
the iceberg - when it brakes off from the main ice - is not due
to a different structure of the ice or of different relations
among its constituent components but is a consequence of where
the fault developed - which is a result of the historical development
of the main body of ice.
Conscious thinking and verbal thinking are two overlapping
subfields of the wider field of dealing mentally with the world
- subfields which are not separated from the rest of the field
- just like the tip of the iceberg is not separated from the
rest of the iceberg.
For want of a shorter term I have labelled the wider field
>mentally dealing with the world and with one-self<.
As I use the expression, it includes all forms of processing
both of incoming inputs and of accumulated traces of our earlier
experiences of thinking, of feeling, and of acting. Thus, this
wider field includes all conscious and non-conscious (including
unconscious) sequences that constitute human information processing
and the resulting changes in the human being.
Regarding our topic all three memory, identity,
and perspectives are part of that wider field.
3. The singular is a fiction - we only have ensembles
Memory, identity, and change - whether
of individuals or of societies - cannot be thought of in the
singular without at the same time distorting the issues we intend
to deal with.
If we investigate how we deal with our experiences,
the fundamental issue regarding notions in the singular and their
use is a much wider one: the singular - while being one of the
most important structural forms of human languages - is a fiction
and extremely misleading.
It is a fiction since we must take into account that we experience
through all of our senses, that what we call a sense usually
consists of many receptors, that what we call an experience usually
involves a plurality of processes. These structural facts would
suffice to compel us to think in terms of plurality rather than
of the singular.
But over and above that it is a fiction because the synapses,
a mechanism of the brain involved in all information processing,
work by plurifurcation2, i.e. any individual
item of input we receive from our environment via a receptor
cell is being passed to more than one other cell, is at the same
time processed in various centres and subcentres of the cortex
on the basis of a combination of parallel, convergent or divergent
connections, the centres being distributed all over the brain
and often at relatively long distances.3
Neurons receive inputs from many other neurons, integrate these
into a single pattern of action potentials and pass that pattern
on to many other neurons.
As far as our mind is concerned - there are, thus, no wholes,
no parts, no elements of an atomic nature, no entities
- there are only ensembles.
So much for the synchronous aspect. But we also have to look
at the diachronous aspect.
The ensembles that I suggest to be the building modules of
our thinking are built by adding trace to trace. Over time such
ensembles develop by cumulative addition of newly received
information onto already existing traces of earlier experiences.
If present in our conscious mind they are activated traces of
memory in interaction with the ongoing processing of incoming
My notion >cumulative addition< should not be
mistaken for the notion >addition< as used in mathematics.
Cumulative addition does not produce a sum total; rather it produces
a plurality of similar or complementary traces of experience,
traces that are interconnected, interwoven, and overlapping.
Even in cases in which we rightly consider a person or an
object as >an individual<, any word used to name it which
is used in the singular represents in reality a plural - an ensemble
of a multitude of mutually overlapping and intertwining traces
of experiences we gained in relation with such individuals -
since experiencing is a process taking place in time.
Thus, there can be no words that are not polysemic, and no
concepts that remain (exactly) the same from one use to the next
as the notion of >definition< implies.
The results of cumulative addition allow us to understand
a word as it relates to specific contexts, since mental access
to these ensembles is possible and takes place by activation
of any of their component traces due to the plurifurcation of
For the result of such processes Wittgenstein has introduced
the metaphor of a thread:
»The strength of the thread does not reside in the fact
that some one fibre runs through its whole length, but in the
overlapping of many fibres«.4
Wittgenstein's thread is also a good metaphor for the ensembles
thus constituted. Not only is the strength of ensembles of that
kind - so is their fabric: there is no fibre nor anything else
that runs through all of it.
As far as the working of our mind is concerned - which we
have to take into account if we are considering how we
deal mentally with the world - there is nothing that is based
on or that produces a singular.
Thus, both a synchronous and a diachronous approach lead to
the same result: there are only ensembles.
4. There is nothing that human beings have in common
These ensembles are the result of the processes of living
and learning of each individual.
Life is processes5
Living involves inputs, the processing of these inputs and
the changes in the organism that result from that processing,
and outputs. Living - of individuals and societies - can only
be thought of as a plurality of processes at any one time - as
a host of parallel, separate or mutually influencing, as plurifurcating,
recombining, intertwining, and interactive processes. It is evident
that such interactive processes produce changes - micro or macro.
The results are necessarily historic processes - both in individuals
and in societies.
As far as the how of dealing mentally with the world and ourselves
is concerned living, experiencing and learning
are but different words refering to the same processes - processes
that never end as long as one lives. Each and every process of
living, experiencing, learning produces change. In other words:
>As long as we live, we can't help learning<. All this
implies - contrary to widely shared assumptions - that learning
is not limited to learning something new.
There is nothing that individual human beings have
Living, experiencing and learning are active processes.
By saying this I challenge the widely held view that there is
such a process as passive learning. According to that
view what is learned is learned >tel quel<, i.e. after
anything was learned it is only the learner who has changed,
what has been learned has remained the same as that which was
This is quite implausible. Take a situation with two people
watching the same scene trying to understand what is going on
and talking to each other about it. What they get are - at least
slightly - different visual inputs. These visual inputs activate
some traces from past experience. Not only the inputs are different,
so are the traces from the past. Thus, there is no way in which
the results of the transformation processes in the two persons
concerned could possibly be the same.
Formulated in a more general way: Given that no two persons
have lived through exactly the same situations in the course
of their lives; given that, therefore, the traces of past experiences
available in any person are necessarily different from each and
every other person; given that no two persons who are present
in one and the same situation ever receive exactly the same inputs;
and given the processes in our brain, in the course of which
every incoming information is being transformed in various ways
in interaction with what is already there, it is impossible that
two persons could ever experience exactly the same (even if in
the same situation).
The fact that two people cannot possibly have exactly the
same experiences entails that there is nothing that individual
human beings have in common in any strict sense of the
5. Communication works on the basis not of >identical<
but of >different and similar<
>Identical< is a dangerously misleading notion
There is another side to the same coin. In investigating the
how of mentally dealing with the world and with ourselves there
is nothing that can either rightly or usefully be labelled >identical<.
Consider the two core notions of its propositional use: Being
identical with oneself is an absolutely useless notion.
Being identical with something else is a nonsensical notion
or, if considered to make sense, a false notion.
Take, e.g., words and their meanings: How the notion that
words have the same meaning for everybody could ever survive
philosophical reflection or scientific scrutiny remains a riddle.
Assume for a moment that the meaning of a word - as learned and
used - would really be identical for all human beings. Would
that not have as one of its consequences that the meaning of
a word would have to stay the same forever, that it could never
change. But it is a well established fact that this happens.
How would it be possible, next, to use long established words
to talk about things which never existed before? Are we supposed
to believe that these new contents have already been there as
part of the meaning of those words even before what they refer
to in such usage has existed?
Communication and knowledge operate on the basis of >different
All that is well known. But it has always been argued that
we need the fiction >identity< in the sense of >identical<
for all sorts of purposes. But do we really need that fiction
The fact that human beings and other organisms survive shows
that similarity - functioning as it does on the basis of >different
and similar< - is enough to make recognition work.
Therefore, I suggest that for all practical purposes - maybe
with the exception of an exaggerated quest for purity - it is
enough that we consider the items in question as >different,
but similar enough for the intended purpose<.
6. Not intersubjectivity but plurisubjectivity
is the basis of communication and knowledge
If there is nothing that can be labelled identical, if there
is nothing that can rightly be said to be common to two human
minds, if both knowledge about the world and knowledge about
the meaning of words are specific to individuals, a phenomenon
that could rightly be labelled intersubjective knowledge
There is nothing >inter< about knowledge. Knowledge
can be spread, it can be recreated. But spreading in the mode
of recreating involves at least slight modifications. Each and
every bit of knowledge must be separately constituted anew in
individual human beings. Such knowledge that has been recreated
and embodied in different human beings can only be labelled plurisubjective
What then would the word intersubjectivity refer to?
Take two persons each owning a car - same company, same model,
same production year, same appliances, etc. and assume that the
two owners use their respective cars in similar ways. Does that
leads us to construe something called intersubjectivity
between the owners? We would be considered to be crazy if we
would. Why then do we construe intersubjectivity if two people
know the same words and use them in similar ways?
Knowledge - whenever it is not confined to a single person
- is plurisubjective knowledge. The word suggests that
the people concerned have come to know, to learn, to hear, to
discover, in short to experience, processes in the natural and
social world and in themselves - but each and everyone for herself
or himself - and have developed mental ensembles called knowledge
which are at the same time different from those
of their fellow beings and similar to them, the
latter to the extent that the people have been exposed to similar
situations, similar social behaviour, etc., in short:
to similar information of various sorts.
What allows successful communication and mutual understanding
among people to take place on the basis of their respective plurisubjective
knowledge can, then, be called plurisubjectivity . And
it is plurisubjectivity that makes the establishment of
a body of accepted knowledge possible via the plurisubjective
critique of statements claiming to be true.
7. On some processes involved in mentally dealing with
the world and with oneself
Here, I shall restrict my comments to three groups of processes,
which seem to play a central role in how we mentally deal with
the world and with ourselves and which I label calibrating,
grouping, and pluriangulation. Following that I
shall turn to the problem of what is individual and what is social
The metaphor >calibrating< is taken from the processes
of fitting bullets to the barrels of a gun. Calibrating produces
a special kind of fit - a fit in which the bullet must necessarily
have some latitude vis-à-vis the barrel, but where the
latitude allowed is necessarily small.
The answer to the question why firearms work is that there
is both fit and latitude. If there
were exact fit the gun would explode, with too much latitude
the bullet would not fly far enough.
The learning of words and of their use6
is a good example of a process of calibration, which is at the
same time an individual and a social process.
One learns to recognize a sound sequence and tries to imitate
it by creating similar sounds oneself. Following imitation, the
processes of calibration take the form of agreement (expressed
by some sign of acceptance), of correction (taking place via
intervention of someone present expressing rejection either of
some aspect of the sound sequence or of the use of the word,
which implies withdrawal of agreement, of acknowledgement, leads
to experiences of non-acceptance, sometimes accompanied by stronger
forms of sanctions), or of non-intervention.
Processes of learning take place as processing of inputs from
outside one's body, from within one's body being activated in
that process as well as from information resulting from one's
own actions. Calibrating can be conceived of as the mediating
operation - whether conscious or non-conscious.
It works with the help of self-generated individual processes
which are largely the result of reactions to experiences of consonance
or dissonance based on fit - where fit
may be based mainly on similarity, complementarity, or compatibility
with traces of earlier experience - and with the help of socially
generated processes which are largely the result of reactions
to experiences of acceptance or rejection
Let me add that in cases where the results of individual and
social calibration contradict each other the experience of acceptance
or rejection by others often turns out to be stronger than individual
experiences of consonance or dissonance based on fit.
Thus, calibrating by consonance and dissonance, which - in
a wider sense - includes both the processes based on fit and
the processes based on acceptance or rejection, is - mostly but
not exclusively - based on our memory of interactions with nature
and fellow human beings, if memory is taken in the sense of the
wider field of mentally dealing with the world and with oneself.
Essential to most processes of calibrating is grouping.
What we call a word, say the word >tree<, is not to
be thought of as a singular. What we have learned is to identify
any one among a number of allophones (different but similar
sound sequences) as the word >tree<.
Neither is what a word refers to a singular. We have learned
to use such sound sequences of language in relation to any one
among a number of allomorphs (specific configurations
of visual, kinesthetic or other origin, some of which may be
very similar to one another, while others may differ widely as
to how they are experienced), which implies that we have learned
to identify any one among those allomorphs as being or relating
to a tree.
Thus, we have learned to group a variety of sound sequences
and to take anyone of them as the word >tree<,
to interpret them as the word >tree<. We
have also learned to group anyone among a large number of visual
appearances (often of a rather wide variety) and to take
anyone of them as a tree.
Grouping takes place as an integral part of the processing
of incoming stimulus configurations in interaction with already
available traces and results in cumulative addition by producing
- or further developing already available - mental ensembles.
Grouping works by a wide variety of processes. It does not
presuppose an >intention to group<.
The core group of such processes seems to be >grouping
due to similarity of inputs< (of larger or smaller input configurations)
to one of our senses which could be labelled >primary grouping<.
There is another main group of processes that lead to what
could be labelled >derived grouping<. What happens
here is >grouping of dissimilar experiences due to similarity
of other simultaneous7 processes<.
This latter group has a subgroup we can call >grouping
by labelling<, which is what happens as a consequence
of labelling various experiences with one and the same word.
It is the processes of this subgroup that establish the ensembles
that we use to call >the meaning of a word<.
Let me add in parenthesis (without even sketching it) that
there is another dimension of grouping which can be labelled
>sequencing<, which is, inter alia, involved not
only in adapting bodily movements but also in the establishment
What notions and assumptions anyone of us has grouped into
complex ensembles and handles in his thinking and speaking is
due to a mixture of these and other processes of grouping.
There are important differences between grouping and classifying,
on which our epistemological tradition has put so much stress.
Grouping reflects some of the processes by which our notions
and some of their linkages develop and change, classifying
refers to a conscious and intentional process (of trying to follow
a set of rules) by which we sort notions which have already developed.
But there is also intentional grouping. Intentional
grouping does not lead to many of the nefarious consequences
that following the rules of classifying has. It works by addition,
does not apply preconceived criteria, does not differentiate
between essential and non-essential characteristics, in short:
it does not necessarily entail reduction.
When we are grouping intentionally we still have at least
a faint idea that the items we group are not identical, not even
the same, as well as a faint idea that the characteristics according
to which we group are not identical either.
If we lose those faint ideas, as we are bound to do when we
classify, we are in trouble - as has happened time and again
- not only in the history of thought but also of polity - in
the Western world.
Calibration is multidimensional. By observation one develops
assumptions about what a word is used for, by listening and imitating
one learns to use the word (as sound sequence), by social calibration
one learns about the success or failure of the imitation and
judgements as to the correct margins of manoeuvre for their use.
All this goes on simultaneously within the short durée.
Within our mind there are no finalized products, nothing is
ever fully established, there is no >once and for all<.
Thus, there can be no situations in which only one component
is to be added or finetuned while everything else is or remains
fixed as it was before. Whenever something is added - and this
happens all the time - the total configuration changes: at least
some slight - if unnoticeable - change (based on the plurifurcative
processes that are involved) takes place in the related ensembles
or in their connections.
The aspects of these processes which are due to the fact that
calibration is multidimensional I have provisionally labelled
The metaphor >pluriangulation< is adapted from
the method of triangulation used in geodesy. Pluriangulation
suggests that whenever relations are established not only between
two but between more than two phenomena, what you get is a relatively
stable structure. The relative stability of multidimensional
structures allows to make serious assumptions about missing facts.
Pluriangulation serves at least two extremely important purposes.
First, pluriangulation allows us to develop what we consider
to be coherent notions involving a variety of multifacetted phenomena
even without going into consciously elaborating any missing facts.
Second, pluriangulation serves as a mechanism which increases
the strength of mental ensembles and allows them to endure -
with only slight changes - despite the uninterrupted influences
of the forces of change at work.
8. What we call thinking are socially informed processes
Assuming that mentally dealing with the world and with oneself
is only an individual process - as is often done - is a big mistake,
since it necessarily involves both individual and
social processes and/or their results.
But I venture to suggest that efforts to dissect mental processes
into what is individual and what is social is a futile exercise:
First, because it is extremely difficult, since almost all thinking
has an individual and a social dimension, secondly, because all
schooling, all communication, and all reading is directly or
indirectly a social process and, finally, because I find it highly
improbable that there is anything to be gained by undertaking
that impossible task - there is practically no value-added as
result in sight.
Dichotomizing between the individual and social processes
at work does not make sense also for a number of other reasons.
All processes involved when individuals deal with the world
and with themselves are, of course, also involved in the processes
of social calibration since it is individuals who are the social
carriers of these social processes.
In a very large number of cases it is the interaction among
human beings that is the central motor of learning and of processes
Insofar as verbal thinking or communication with the help
of writing or of speech is concerned it is evident that the words
we use are of social origin: we did not invent them ourselves,
we learned the words by listening to others, we learned their
use - and that entails: their meaning - by social calibration.
But it is also evident that we use them as individuals - as speakers,
as writers, as listeners, and as readers.
It is also evident that the ways in which we break up the
world into components and the ways in which we relink what we
have first broken into pieces, in short: that most processes
of grouping and regrouping experiences and notions that are part
of our individual mental dealing with the world and with ourselves
are either of social origin or influenced by social processes
in use in our respective cultures.
Thus, thinking should be considered to be both an individual
and social process. But given that one can easily think
of exceptions to that dominant picture and that, therefore, it
will be considered an overstatement or a false generalisation,
I suggest that thinking is a socially informed process in
individuals, i.e. that mentally dealing with the world and
with oneself includes only few - if any - processes that are
not directly or indirectly influenced by social interaction among
fellow human beings. - There simply is no case for a dichotomy
9. Memories and identities
Here it seems important to note, first, that there is no position
from which we could look at our memory or identity from outside
Following another approach it simply does not make sense to
generalize about memories or identities - since memories and
identities are all we have, they are our world, they are
a large part of what we are, and most of what we think and feel
But when we think about memories and identities we make assumptions.
The core cluster among everyday assumptions about memories
seems to be that one has a memory, that items are added
to it as life passes, that one can forget certain items, but
that - apart from those changes - the bits and pieces of memory
stay the same.
Contrary to those assumptions memory is neither an object,
nor does it consist of other smaller objects like a puzzle. Whatever
memory may be - its components do not fit together in a complementary
fashion such that there are no gaps or overlaps, such that it
forms a unitary whole.
Memories are bunches of larger and smaller ensembles of traces
from various pasts. In conscious memory there are bunches that
have all the detail of real scenes we look at and others that
are hazy and vague. Some events we remember we can visualize,
others we can only think of.
Contrary to the assumption that the bits and pieces of memory
stay the same over time, memories are constantly rewritten. Rewriting
of memories involves addition of new experiences and changes.
Much of the change is partial change of a rearticulatory type.
Available bits and pieces are repositioned, reordered, things
unlinked hitherto may get linked, existing links may disappear
in the background, what was considered to be important in a given
situation may become less so, and relatively unimportant aspects
may become dominant.
We should also not forget that many experiences are ambigous,
are already ambiguous when they are made. Very often there is
a positively valued side to something which is, on balance, considered
to be negative, and vice versa. Ambiguity may also come about
by grouping similar experiences which are valued differently
at different moments or in different phases of history. It would
be a grave mistake to assume that all the traces that do not
form a part of the judgement that has won the day have totally
disappeared from memory.
Like life, memory - when it comes into play - is processes.
Like life, memory has been constituted in the past - but it is
not in the past, it is in the present.
The most widely spread core cluster of notions about identities
includes the assumption that human beings have an identity,
that they have to have an identity, and that identity
has to be coherent.
In the how of our dealings with the world and with ourselves
memories and identities have the same base. But while in the
dominant notion of memory both the singular and the plural are
available options (both of which are often used), in the dominant
notion of identity the plural has disappeared. Identity is construed
as unitary and stable - anybody deviating from that is considered
Despite the wide acceptance of that construction identities
of individuals have to be thought of as being a plural, as plural
identities, as both fragmented and linked, as undergoing
change, as being constantly rewritten. Like the meaning of words
identities change with the context, with the active or activated
dominant relations with people (present or absent) and with the
Should I really follow the dominant construction and convince
myself that I have the same identity when I am praying and avowing
my sins and when I am trying to successfully manage an enterprise
taking all the decisions that may be necessary for that purpose?
when I read a poem, when I read a technical journal, or when
I read a newspaper? when listening to a Vivaldi sonata or listening
and dancing to disco music? - I regret: That simply does not
make sense to me.
Clearly, in all those cases I am the actor. And I am the same
person in all the cases.
But it is different parts of me that are involved, different
links that are created, different memories that are activated,
different cords that are swinging. In this or that one among
these situations I may savour aspects which I would disregard
or even reject in others. In each one of these situations I have
different longings and different belongings.
Each one of these situations constitutes a different culture,
a different world, of which I form a part. These cultures, these
worlds, are overlapping cultures, are overlapping worlds. They
overlap in many aspects (one of which is my participation in
them). But does that overlap make them one culture, one world?
- It does not. - Does the overlapping of what goes on within
me in one of these situations with what goes on within me in
some other of these situations make me feel the same in all of
these situations, does it lead to presenting myself to others
in the same way, does it lead to one identity? - No! It does
To me all that suggests that I have - and everybody else has
- plural identities which are both similar and different but
which are not one and the same - let alone a coherent - identity.
Processes of change
Change is, as I tried to show, implicit in and constitutive
of all three, memories, identities, and perspectives.
It seems strange that this needs explicit mentioning, that
we have to remind ourselves that this is so. The reason is that
our Western tradition of thought has established those notions
as implying permanence. Within those three notions, change
has been deleted or relegated far into the background. The result
is that it does not immediately come to mind but may still be
drawn out of the magician's hat when needed to prevent the concept
from being judged as inadequate for conveying what it refers
There is no >once and for all< for memory nor for rewriting
it. Neither is there a >once and for all< for identity
or perspectives nor for rewriting them.
Everything is in transition - not in transition from state
to state but from process to process.
An application in place of a summary
Calibrating visions, values, perspectives
In my nine points I have tried to sketch what is involved
in how meanings, notions and perspectives spread.
Calibrating experiences, visions, and perspectives produces
transition. To see how to move needs looking at what is going
Some of today's perspectives
We are witnessing that more and more people have lost the
vision of a world in which each and every person can live in
We are witnessing a withdrawal of a growing number of people
into individual well-being or success combined with a loss of
a feeling of co-responsibility for shaping our common plurisubjective
We are witnessing the reappearing of mental constructs and
the linking of notions that we had thought had disappeared from
the earth after the end of the World War II.
These are but a few among the dominant aspects of our >Zeitgeist<,
of the mood and mental processes, of the plurisubjective perspectives
widely shared at this moment.
What lessons to draw ?
What lessons are we to draw? What follows from all that for
shaping our perspectives, the visions of right or wrong, the
visions of the future of our societies, and the visions of how
to get there? What follows for the ways in which we ought to
Together my nine points suggest that Zeitgeist is nothing
that appears out of the blue. Together they suggest that Zeitgeist
is constantly reshaped, is constantly created anew. And together
they suggest how that works.
If memories, identities, and perspectives are constantly rewritten,
if learning is not limited to learning something new,
and if it is the multitude of everyday interactions of people
that decide about what becomes dominant, then it is each and
everyone of these experiences that matters.
Memory does not concern only the past, it also concerns
As learning can strengthen available traces and reorder them,
relegated parts of ensembles with ambiguous aspects and traces
pushed into the background by the dominant social judgement of
earlier periods can surface again. This is one of the mechanism
at work in the reappearance of the dangerous forms of nationalist
Given those mechanisms it is not enough to know that something
is wrong. Sitting back in the comfortable feeling to know better
will not do.
It is important to remember - and to remind oneself and others
- what happened in history, what was good and bad about it.
It is important to remind ourselves and others, what went
wrong, why it went wrong, and what was wrong about our own role
- even if we found out only in hindsight: after all, what we
found out in hindsight is something we know now.
Given the power of acceptance and rejection by others in calibrating,
it is important to remind others of what we remember, of what
happened after we saw some vague signs of developments which
gave us a feeling that they might lead to problems or even to
disaster, of what happened after we did something or after we
let something happen, to remind others of the lessons we learned.
It is all important to remember and to remind others, if we
do not want to let it happen again.
Calibrating the visions of right and wrong
Given the power of acceptance and rejection by others in calibrating
the visions of right and wrong it is all important to speak up
so that right remains right and wrong remains wrong.
It is important to object where raising objections is necessary
to make people aware that values are in danger of being broken.
Whosoever is confronted with rejection of views or values
will no longer be able to consider those views or values as being
shared by all, as constituting consensus. Even if one remains
in the minority or remains the only one to object the voicing
of that view is important.
If we care about our future and the future of others we have
to participate actively in shaping the Zeitgeist, in the
shaping of plurisubjective knowledge, in the shaping of socially
spread values, in the shaping of shared perspectives.
The resulting perspectives are in the hands of each and everyone.
© Arne Haselbach 1995
Arne (1997)  »On dealing with memory, identity, and
perspectives« in: >Memorie e identità: prospettive
nei percorsi del mutamento<, Quaderni della Fondazione 4,
Fondazione Courmayeur, December 1997, pp. 132-144
2 I prefer
>plurifurcation< to the established term >bifurcation<.
The latter creates an image of separating into two or of branching
off, which is a wrong image of the biostructure of the brain
and may create misleading notions as to what processes are taking
place. Given that an enormously large number of neurons have
many, many axons connecting them via synapses with other neurons
a term that suggests flows via a large number of divergent connections
seems to be better suited.
Roth, »Neuronale Grundlagen des Lernens und des Gedächtnisses«,
in: Siegfried J. SCHMIDT »Gedächtnis«, Frankfurt/M
Wittgenstein, »Philosophische Untersuchungen«, Para.
combination of the verb >is< in the singular and of >processes<
in the plural is intentional. The rules of our grammar that ought
to be applied here reflect the >thinking in singulars<
that I challenged above. That a collective singular - and life
consisting as it does of a multitude of processes at any one
time can be likened to a collective singular even if it is more
often seen in a holistic fashion - cannot be equated with a plural
is a rule of grammar which disregards the reality to be depicted.
If >process< were put in the singular, the sentence would
have a different and a non-intended meaning. In my view correct
description of reality must be allowed priority over misleading
rules of grammar.
reasons of space I am restricting my remarks to spoken words.
must be here be taken to mean more or less simultaneous,
i.e. going on within the short period, in which some of the plurifurcated
neural processes are still active, a period for which I use the
label >the short durée<.