“Success comes in cans; failure in can’ts”

.. great quote from Wilfred Bion. Our whole purpose is to make reality out of infinite potential.  I’m struck by similarity underlying Bion’s model of reality-creation and that of Alfred North Whitehead’s view of a “prehensile” crystallisation of reality in the present moment out of infinite potential.

“The art of being yourself at your best is the art of unfolding your personality into the person you want to be.” Wilfred Bion

“We cannot think first and act afterwards. From the moment of birth we are immersed in action and can only guide it by taking thought.” Alfred North Whitehead

 

Bion has this concept of our thinking as a candle actively penetrating the dark in a quest to mate with and discover the ideas or truths already there waiting.  If I understand aright Bion’s model of how this arises:

– there is a welter of “unthought” images, emotions and other stuff floating around – his Beta elements.

– if we are able to tolerate the pain of the unknown – then we begin to assemble these into the building blocks of thoughts – his Alpha elements. (Mostly we are able to do that because we’ve had a “good enough” mother and a holding environment as a baby).

– these alpha element thoughts then abstract into – pre-concepts which are “looking for” concepts to “mate with” to allow understanding of ideas. Importantly the ideas already exist and our mind and brain is a machinery that has evolved to allow us to think them.

Compare this with Whitehead’s view of the implications for reality of  quantum mechanics (see Process and Reality). The present moment – is like a zipper – moving from a past event into a future that the observer crystallises by selecting from the infinite potential. This then, the process by which reality is created. He calls the present moment prehensile, because there is an active searching or selecting of the future.

This concept (If my understanding is correct – the book is almost impenetrable) surely has resonance with Bion’s view. There is at the heart of both schemas a vital present force which is actively seeking a “mating” with a future that it is involved in helping create or crystallise.

Can we call this free will? Are we witnesses here and eternally now of all of creation?

“The foundation of reverence is this perception, that the present holds within itself the complete sum of existence, backwards and forwards, that whole amplitude of time, which is eternity.” Alfred North Whitehead

 

And the answer is…… Pinocchio

So, I whistle. I’m often not consciously aware of it, but there it is. This evening I found myself whistling the theme tune to Pinoccio. There are no strings on me. It made me smile because it reminded me of my children’s favourite saying as teenagers – “you’re not the boss of me”.

Anyway. There I was – suddenly aware of whistling this tune. It seemed to speak to me – an answer to a question.

If the answer is Pinocchio, what is the question. What is free will?

My conscious mind is still trying to work that out, because my unconscious is so sure that Pinocchio is an important answer.

 

 

 

 

 

Free will and consciousness?

So, apparently…

Physics has found a different state of matter – “perceptronium” – that is conscious. This resonates with Tielhard de Chardin’s postulate that all matter is and has always been  conscious from the outset, and which is coalescing as evolution moves from the physical through chemical and biological to the evolution of ideas – the noosphere.

And it is observation which causes the infinity of potential to crystallise out into the concrete actual. (The collapse of schrodinger’s wave function – thereby forcing the choice between the alive and dead cat).

Who observes? What observes? Is it consciousncess. In any event since the observer causes the collapse or crystallisation it/he/she seems to exercise free will.

And for those who dispute the collapse of the wavefunction – the only way out is to create infinitely splitting universes (Everett’s theory). And this comes to the same thing in relation to free will. It is only that we get to choose which universe we are conscious in. In that case our observation is effectively the point of choice between different splitting universes.

It comes to the same thing surely? Consciousness is. It just is.  Something observes and either creates the actually experienced world through waves function collapse or steers into particular universes by choices at each potential universe fracture.

Consciousness and free will appear then to be related and pertain to the creation of reality. And what is the wellspring of consciousness?

(Thanks to nope@hotmail.com for putting me on to Max Tegmark’s series of articles at Cornell University Press. Am I talking drivel??)