06 January, 2019

New logo based on El Lissitzky's Red Wedge


Welcome to SHAPE

Special Issue 62: Change

This new special issue features a single essay on the crucial subject of Changing Reality, and our general inadequacy in dealing with it.

Even in the obviously mutable structures we erect, from houses to cities and societies, we fail to notice, address and understand the change taking place. And when we look at the natural world around us, we have even greater difficulty, deferring instead to eternal gods or unchanging Laws of Nature, ignoring the incessant flux, its rhythms and its tempos...

05 January, 2019

Real Holism?

What is Holism? It isn't the usual New Age pseudoscience which unfortunately co-opts the term. 

Having commenced reading a book upon supposedly "Holistic Science", I was surprised how very differently, and with very different conclusions to my own, in the way that very idea of Holism was handled. 

The Holistic Inspiration of Physics: The Underground History of Electromagnetic Theory by Val Dusek

For, my emphasis strongly contrasted Holism with what I term Plurality as crucial-and-opposite premises, in considering the World, whereas, at least in his introduction, the writer contrasted it with what he termed "Atomism" and Reductionism (or even "Mechanism"). His emphases upon top-down-causality as distinct from bottom-up-causality seemed to primarily define his Holist Stance.

Yet, in all Causality, it has to be Properties that primarily enable explanations of phenomena: and though this does seem easier in bottom-up explanations, and therefore naturally-selective of subscribing to Reductionism, the universal resilience of Stabilities, regularly overcoming challenges from below to nevertheless persist, also invokes credit to some sort of apparently "top-down" causality too.

But, the absence of any reference whatsoever to Plurality does not bode well, and I will explain why this is so.

Plurality actually enabled Abstraction for the very first time, to be greatly and powerfully extended into wholly new areas. It happened when the ancient Greeks invented Euclidian Geometry, and thereafter, the much larger discipline of Mathematics, that it begat. It was simultaneously a Great Enabling Revolution, and yet also at the same time, a potentially-destructive "time-bomb" to possible further developments at a later and more advanced stage in Mankind's intellectual thinking.

For, Abstractions don't exist as such, physically: they are aspects of Reality that can be extracted and discussed, because they reflect something important in what they are aspects of, while also being common to a wide range of other physically existing things too.
Number is the clearest example!

NOTE: But, as we will see, the absence of even a mention of all this, and the emphasis upon "top down drivers" opens the door implicitly, without direct mention, to Principles like that of Plurality, as well as to the allocation of Cause to Form - to mathematical versions applied to physical relationships too.

Mathematics is entirely Pluralist!

But, the Greeks took Abstraction further, to include descriptors of Shape, Position and Direction. And, they soon were able to relate these into "always true" Rules: which they established into a system of relationships, between these, amounting to a kind of Spatial Reasoning.

But, only of fixed Abstractions.

Now, though quantitative features can vary, the Principle of Plurality insists that the formal Abstractions and their inter-relationships don't: they cannot change qualitatively.

And, this limits Mathematics to only those areas where such will always be the case.

But, and this is very important, the success of Mathematics caused the Greeks to extend Plurality to general Reasoning too, delivering Formal Logic, and later to Science also - and this limitation to everywhere in these contexts is most certainly NOT legitimate!

Indeed Pluralist disciplines cannot deal with qualitative developments of any kind: they can only apply if the situations are either naturally or artificially kept rigidly-unchanging in the "essential" qualities involved, and only vary quantitatively.

Clearly, not even mentioning this crucial ground in his introduction does not bode at all well for where he personally will be taking the important topic.

In addition, many other features, that are often mentioned, also need explanations.

For example, how on earth can top-down causality work?

It cannot be the same as the role in bottom-up, as instead of many-to-one causalities - simply adding-up, many-to-many cannot be so easily dealt with, for the actual containing Context is also being changed, and even multiple Recursions via a series of bottom-up caused changing Contexts, can often be unavoidable. Top-down causalities therefore often drift into one-to-many restrictions such as Principles or Iron Laws from "on high"!

NOTE:this criticism also applies, though less often, in bottom up causality, but not most of the time, though when it does occur, the established relation being assumed no longer pertains, and a partially or even a wholly different one is usually required.

We call the situation when-Plurality-pertains as the state of Stability, and, when it irretrievably fails, as that of Instability!

NOTE:That Science, as-originally-conceived-of, after the Greek Revolution, could only be relied upon, by successfully imposing the most extensive and rigid maintaining of the Context - tailor-made for a single aimed-for Law!

Nevertheless, with the rapidly increasing skills of the scientists and technologists in both achieving and maintaining those requirements, the successful application of these methods rapidly increased.

I'm afraid that up to the end of his Introduction, his stance appeared to be, so far at least, wholly inadequate! 

But, there is an excuse for the current mess that is evident in the theoretical and philosophical bases in this area. For, they consequently reflect the dire standards, both in Education, and perhaps even more so, due to those same inadequacies in the political organisations of the Working Class. 


For, though the means to avoid these errors had been finally established, first by Hegelian thinking, and then, more generally, by Marx in his Dialectical Materialism of concrete Reality too, it was never comprehensively applied to Science, despite being the forefront of philosophy from the early 19th century onwards.

The still fast-moving monolith of Science carried on exactly as before, constrained by its dominance by those committed to, and staffed by scientists exclusively from, the privileged classes.

But Marxism had been taken on by many in the Working Class Movement, and, hence, it was down to that strand to also apply it to Science.

But, to the detriment of both, that didn't happen either!

And, as indicated by Dusek's Introduction, this book will not be tackling the real problems either! Nonetheless I will be following this initial crit with further contributions in the near future...

03 January, 2019

DNA and the Social Development of the Brain?

In a CARTA video available on YouTube, by Leah Krubitzer, she delivers a remarkable alternative to the usual Genome-dominated idea of development in the brain. It clearly demonstrated that though the forms-of-development within the brain are solely determined by genetics, the actual contents of those developments are NOT so determined at all, but are primarily influenced by actual use, via behaviours in the real world - especially by behaviours caused by major crises inflicted upon the recipient.

This "seems" to return to the oldest problem of all in explaining development!

Is it wholly blue-printed within the DNA (Genome) of the living entity, which effectively determines everything that subsequently occurs, though occasionally changed by what are wholly accidental Random Damages to individual Genes, OR, can things learned during life be passed on to descendants as "Acquired Characteristics" (such as in current epigenetics and a return to Lamarckism)?

For, her contribution could also be seen in that way, but that certainly isn't, and indeed wasn't her case either. What Leah Kubitzer reveals is more a development of the former than a return to the latter as will I hope be revealed!

Indeed, various studies both of unusually sensually-equipped animals both occurring naturally, as well as in addition others having had their sensorial means artificially totally-restricted, and the effects on their brains compared over many individuals.

The results were remarkable!

Actual use, over time, had physically-changed the brains involved.

Particular areas of the brain appeared transformed in the animals artificially reduced in sensorial abilities, to enhance some of those that remained, to end up with a brain-structure similar to that of the duck-billed Platypus, whose brain-area dedicated to its super-sensory bill was relatively enormously enlarged. But, the changes noticed, in both, amounted to a great multiplicity of the connections from that part of the brain to other areas within it, and consequent increases in those particular areas too, the behaviours-possible were down to those vastly increased connections, and NOT to wholly new functional areas.

The brain was physically changed by enhanced behaviours, but then, via new connections, also enabling, in addition, wholly-new further development of such behaviours.

But, there is a great deal more in these findings than what immediately presents itself.

Notice that the duck-billed Platypus, as a species, hasn't changed much in vast periods of time, and yet the particular individual animal (a possum) deprived of its sight changed at a remarkable rate, and made all the necessary developments very early in its life - the initial period was absolutely crucial.

Nothing new was available to that animal, indeed it was a deprivation that precipitated the developments.

But, we already have a process in which the given Genome of an animal delivers all its "built-in" behaviours, with any changes being down to random chance mutations of genes. And, in addition, it is supposed to be only by such purely random damage to the genome that any changes can ever happen, and thereafter by Natural Selection, which chooses the best adaptations to predominate over succeeding generations.

Is not that single one-way causality also somewhat challenged by these findings?

For, the deprived individual animals developed not only new connections in their brains, but also enhanced, or even new, behaviours benefiting from those changes.

Yet, the developments in the brain must also be inherited! How else do modern animals including ourselves come to be as they are? And, at the same time, why do some organisms remain unchanged for millions of years?

Mankind has, in the past, clearly revealed important processes in this area, but, as usual, always conceptually simplified them in order to more easily develop them further - for simplifying Abstractions always enable such things (see all of Mathematics!).

And, there has to be more to the mostly wholly redundant and unused majority of any organism's Genome, where the genes seem to be in "rooms used as depositories of rubbish, and like those in many a Stately Home, full of no longer used cast offs".

I don't believe in 'junk' DNA! It is more likely that this represents The Past of that organism in some way, in its evolutionary development: occasionally transformed by mutations, but later bypassed either temporarily or permanently, as a repository of things that once worked but now bypassed. Could this be how prior evolutionary solutions return, in supposedly convergent evolution, such as the return of fish-like traits in sea mammals? 

Primarily, though, the dead weight of our pluralist history in Mathematics, Reasoning and even Science has imposed upon our thinking the myth of eternal Natural Laws and Reductionism, which fatally damages our ability to make sense of such Development at all, by falsely converting it into the mere Complexity of many summed-fixed-things and laws.

The consequent missing ingredient was therefore Real Qualitative Change, and hence the absolutely necessary means to ever understanding Creative Changes.

Darwin, Engels and Marx

Now, since Hegel and then Marx, the methodology of Dialectical Materialism had been devised to address such developments, culminating only in 2010 with the Theory of Emergences (by the writer of this paper), which finally tackled the trajectory of alternating Stabilities and Emergences that characterise Qualitative Development in literally all spheres.

And, echoes of it are clearly shown in the case of the deprivation of sight in a possum leading to a rush of developments in other senses - for in the Theory of Emergences the termination of seemingly permanent Stabilities can only be precipitated by crises that cannot be resolved from within them, and therefore necessarily results in both a collapse of the current Stability, and thereafter the consequent construction of a wholly new one, which is finally established via another and wholly different Stability and set of new capabilities!

02 January, 2019


  1. Is wealth the legitimate reward for hard work?
  2. Is it the necessary spur to absolutely essential innovation?
  3. Do the owners of inherited Stately Homes and Landed Estates deserve their Life of Luxury?
  4. Is all wealth actually created by the Captains of Industry?
  5. And is all War absolutely necessary to defeat those who wish the privileges of others for themselves?


The Poor can do none of these things, except, of course, they create absolutely all new value by their labour!

How else is wealth really produced?

Yet, we are supposed to live in a Democracy!

Why don't the majority just vote in a Socialist Government to redistribute wealth more fairly?

The answer is, once more, they don't have the wealth to do it!

Socialists don't have the mass media in their pockets - no daily newspapers to state their case. They don't have round-the-clock radio and television programmes on their side, nor the mainstream film industry, nor any glossy magazines.

They don't even have the resources to build their organisations, and fund their organisers, their researchers, their publicists, or their journalists and writers.

They can't pay for roadside adverts, or those every few minutes on TV!

They can't buy the votes of elected representatives, by Knighthoods, or the like, or even just a regular ticket to The Good Life.

But the Rich do have enough to do all of these things... as much as they like! Could that be how they always stay in the driving seat?

Now, the Labour Party has a committed socialist as its leader. If we had a General Election now, he would win!

What will the rich do?

What did they do in 1945?

You know, don't you?

So, how could they be stopped THIS TIME?