IMMEDIATE PERCEPTUAL REALITY
In theory, our sensory cells interact with intensity/temporal patterns of energy from our environment. This may include pressure on your hands as you hold a telescope and the light stimulating your retinal cells that (in theory) were emitted many millions of years ago and have been focused by the instrument you hold. It may also include the cool breeze you feel, the pleasant smell of wood smoke from your campfire, and the music from your children sitting around the fire. Some hours later the pressure on your hands are from the steering wheel of your car, and your visual field is intent on the moving traffic and scenery rushing by; and the singing continues from the back seat. Your experiential field may also contain “thoughts”.
Each human has a linear string of such immediate experiences, which in metaphor we view as our timeline on a “world scene”. However, this “world scene” is never part of any of our immediate experiences. Yet, we have a belief background experience that we are discrete beings living on a common objective planet. If you live within a scientifically advanced culture you believe that your immediate experiences are “subjective” – not really real, only in your mind. You are probably also aware of others whose strange behavior implies that their “subjective” world is warped and distorted leading to erroneous perception of the same objective world you live in.
This belief arises from the fact that for most of our lives, and for all of our evolution, all we lived in was immediate perceptual reality. Others we respected and trusted shared those immediate realities. By gesture and collaborative actions we learned that we shared a common immediate reality. When differences arose they could be easily resolved. When language emerged it was descriptive of immediate realities. Stories told of immediate perceptual realities by others on their travels were comprehended in terms of a local reality. Today, some indigenous peoples continue to automatically verbally describe what they see and hear as they move about. Remembered stories often serve as maps when others attempt the same journey.
Shared immediate realities included so-called natural features (mountains, beaches, rivers, forests, sky) and natural things (plants, animals, snow, stones). They also included human things (other persons, clothes, artwork, houses, manuscripts). Since our human brains are specialized in different regions for perceiving “natural” and “human” perceptions, we know that this distinction must have functionality. Interacting with other humans was distinct from interacting with nature, and goes back to earlier days when humans were as social as prairie dogs.
Probably extended natural setting emerged as a tribe would move its immediate reality to different locations, some which were returned to and what was unchanged and what was changed recognized. That much remained unchanged gave rise to the concept of an external world which existes even when we are not present. Young human infants quickly develop to expect hidden things to exist even when no long perceived, implying that “existence beyond perception” is long wired in. With advancements in recorded language and drawings we could refer to other locations, as we did earlier with stories of journeys.
Other peoples and cultures were encountered, observed, and the subject of many stories. There was as yet no humankind, only discrete distributions of human tribes – with similarities and differences, friendly and hostile. Members of your tribe would converge on stories about other tribes encountered, as they earlier would converge on a common story about their shared physical location with features. Many recognized similarities and something “common” about other humans, especially as those captured in battle became slaves and later integrated. Tribes with common heritage became “nations” and would learn of other “nations”.
Was there discussion, or even descriptions of what today we might call their economic, political, educational, military, etc. systems? When did the idea of a social world with societal institutions emerge in human experientials and discourse? Significantly different behaviors between tribes would be noted, and when they violated a taboo it might lead to conflict. I hypothesize that much of the human cultural detail in tribes was holistic/subconscious and learned by growing up within that culture; much of it never being a part of discourse or even in explicit attention. Tribal discipline was usually implicit.
It appears there were specific persons in tribes who had special perceptual sensitivities. In English we call them shamans. They trained their perceptions to greater decrement for both natural and human phenomena. Shamans were usually not leaders (as tribes seldom had leaders), but were essential in many critical ways for the survival of the tribe. Read David Abrams: The Spirit of the Sensuous & Becoming Animal.
Our explicit conception of an extended objective social world arose with the advent of Civilization and written language.
EXTENDED SOCIAL REALITY
This is a difficult conceptual scheme to keep hold of – we quickly and automatically slip back to viewing the World, our Planet and all on/in it , in the same way we view our immediate perceptual reality. This is most evident today when we can watch TV news and view videos of happenings all over the world. We have many windows to many immediate perceptual realities. Just as the moon and stars are part of our immediate perceptual realities, so are what we observe on our video screens. This is also backed up by written and verbal reports – and histories and video documentaries.
What we never perceive are: cities, countries, governments, economies, institutions, corporations, congress, wars, populations, THE people, THE truth, “the fact of the matter is …”, “everyone knows ….”, continue adding more to this list.
- This crystallized for me during my years working on anti-Vietnam War projects. I wasn’t THERE. I didn’t experience WAR, as those in combat KNEW war. Military personnel experience their immediate perceptual realities within “war”, as do the generals. None experience WAR. My reading of vast and varied literature about the origins and progress of the war and its interwoven implications throughout humankind gave me insights quite different from what the military experienced. But, I never experience WAR either.
- Looking over the valley from Windy Point above the Arizona city of Tucson (see the pic in http://nuet.us ) we are not perceiving the City of Tucson. Inside every home and every car is part of Tucson. There are no places where all can be seen – simultaneously. But, we could approach the physical structures of Tucson as an extended locality which if lived in long enough and traveled through enough one would feel it familiar enough to be “known”. But, we couldn’t say the same thing about the human population of Tucson and the varied social systems that occupy the persons. Once I was told that the population of Tucson was to be comprehended as pieces of paper blocked up at a wire fence in a wind storm. Some stuck for a while, but there was a considerable flux.
In the USA today, pundits and persons representing or seeking power pontificate on the news about their highly discordant and contradictory views of our extended social reality – that they treat in the same way as they may treat their dinner table and the food they are eating. None have any sense as to what they jabber about. In that this is, and has been a global phenomenon, there are those who are quite concerned about the future.
- It is as if everyone had virtual reality goggles on and the realities playing are wildly different – but each believes THEIR REALITY IS THE TRUE REALITY, and the others are either deluded, stupid, conspiratorial, criminal, evil or having other demented ambitions – but all living and commenting on the very same, REALLY REAL government, congress, presidency, corporations, nations, world challenges. And, there is nothing in the wind to change this situation; although we expect it to get worse.
When there is significant disagreement as to what happened in extended social reality it is impossible to do an empirical test – as the phenomenon no longer exists nor can be repeated. All that exists are sems, of questionable accuracy. An analysis of all sems can lay out a set of alternative scenarios, but there is no objective reality on which to test out alternatives.
On the other hand, at times one scenario will show a much stronger consistency than all others (which are each seriously flawed – according to an agreed upon criteria). Exploring the semiotic contexts for each scenario we can discover patterns of human interaction that leads to such distortion.
I believe that computer systems can be created to compare and sort sems simply in terms of their digital patterns, without any assigned meaning. This comparison raw sem data can then be further searched by criteria related to “meaning” given by humans.
My personal approach/belief is that every human, no matter what their behavior, LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE THEIR BEHAVIOR IS PROPER, RIGHT, AND GOOD.
- They may be well aware that they are perceived by others as criminal, bad, and even evil – but that IN THEIR WORLD, what they do is justified.
- OTOH, there are some who have no consistent thinking and thus no coherent world as we think of the world we live in. Some humans function as mere mammals.