A ‘Logic of Life’?

This text is part of the text “Rebooting Humanity”

(The German Version can be found HERE)

Author No. 1 (Gerd Doeben-Henisch)

Contact: info@uffmm.org

(Start: June 25, 2024, Last change: June 28, 2024)

Starting Point

The excerpt discusses the concept of ‘collective human intelligence (CHI)’ and reflects on the foundational schema of all life : reproduction of Generation 1, birth of Generation 2, growth of Generation 2, followed by the onset of Generation 2’s behaviors accompanied by learning processes, and then reproduction of Generation 2, etc. It highlights how genetic predispositions and ‘free adapting’, commonly referred to as ‘learning’, alternate in phases. While genetic guidelines enable structures with typical functionalities that open up ‘possible action spaces’, filling these spaces is not genetically determined. This makes sense because the real ‘biological carrier system’ is not isolated but exists in an ‘open environment’ whose specific configuration and dynamics constantly change. From a ‘sustainable survival’ perspective, it is crucial that the biological carrier system has the ability to not only grasp the nuances of the environment at specific moments but also to represent, combine, and test them in the context of space and time. These simple words point to a highly complex process that has become known as ‘learning’, but the simplicity of this term may overlook the fact that we are dealing with an ‘evolutionary miracle of the highest order’. The common concept of ‘evolution’ is too limited in this perspective; it only describes a fragment.

A ‘Logic of Life’?

Basic Pattern of All Life

The ‘basic pattern of all life’ provokes many considerations. It is striking how phases of genetic change, which imply new structures and functionality, ultimately transform the ‘initial space’ of genetic changes into new, significantly more complex spaces, not just once, but repeatedly, and the more often, the more complexity comes within reach.

The life form of ‘Homo sapiens’—us, who call ourselves ‘humans’—represents a provisional peak of complexity in the temporal view of history so far, but already suggests from within itself a possible ‘next evolutionary stage’.

Even viewed closely, the individual human—with his structured cell galaxy, with the possible functions here, with his individual learning—represents an extraordinary event—relative to the entire known universe—, but this ‘individual’ human in his current state is already fully designed for a ‘plurality of people’, for ‘collective behavior’, for ‘collective learning’, and certainly also for ‘collective achievements’.

[1] The world of ‘molecules’ is transformed into the world of ‘individual cells’; the world of ‘individual cells’ is transformed into the world of ‘many cells (cellular complexes)’; the world of ‘cell complexes’ is transformed into the world of ‘structured cell complexes’, …, the world of structured ‘cell galaxies’ is transformed into the world of ‘cooperating structured cell galaxies with individual and collective learning’, …

Temporal Classification

Not only have the last few millennia shown what many people can achieve together, but particularly the ‘modern engineering achievements’ involving the collaboration of many thousands, if not tens of thousands of experts, distributed globally, over extended periods (months, year, many years), simultaneously in many different languages, dealing with highly complex materials and production processes—processes in which meta-reflection and feedback loops are taken for granted –… These processes, which have been globally initiated since the great war in the mid-20th century, have since become more and more the everyday standard worldwide. [2] The invention of programmable machines, information networks, highly complex storage systems, and the provision of ever more ‘human-compatible interfaces’ (visual, acoustic, tactile, …), up to those formats that make it appear to the human user as if ‘behind the interface’ there is another living person (even if it is ‘just’ a machine), have all occurred within just about 70 years.

While it took a considerable amount of time from the first evidences of biological life on planet Earth (around -3.4 billion years ago) to the first proven appearance of Homo sapiens in North Africa (around -300,000 years ago), the development of the complex ‘mental’ and ‘communicative’ abilities of Homo sapiens starting around -300,000 years ago, was initially slow (invention of writing around -6000), but the development then accelerated significantly over the last approximately 150 years: the complex events are almost overwhelming. However, considering the entire time since the presumed formation of the entire universe about 13.7 billion years ago, there is a rough time schema:

After about 75% of the total time of the existence of the universe, the first signs of biological life.

After about 99.998% of the total time of the existence of the universe, the first signs of Homo sapiens.

After about 99.999998% of the total time of the existence of the universe, the first signs of complex collective human-technical intelligence achievements.

This means that, in relation to the total time, the periods for the ‘latest’ leaps in complexity are so ‘short’ that they can no longer be distinguished on a large scale. This can also be interpreted as ‘acceleration’. It raises the question of whether this ‘acceleration’ in the creation of increasingly complex collective intelligence achievements reveals a ‘logic of process’ that would enable further considerations?

[2] Here began the career of the modern form of ‘Systems Engineering’, a quasi-standard of problem solving, at least in the English-speaking world.

Complexity Level: Biological Cell

With the description of a ‘basic pattern of all life’, a pattern emerges that is describable at least onwards from the complexity level of a biological cell.

The complexity level preceding the biological cell is that of ‘molecules’, which can be involved in different process chains.

In the case of the biological cell, we have, among other things, the case where molecules of type 1 are used by molecules of type 2 as if the type 1 molecules were ‘strings’ that ‘represent’ molecules of type 3, which are then ‘produced’ through certain chemical processes. Put differently, there are material structures that interpret other material structures as ‘strings’, possessing a ‘meaning assignment’ that leads to the creation of new material structures.

Thus, biological cells demonstrate the use of ‘meaning assignment’, as we know structurally in the case of symbolic languages from complex cell galaxies. This is extremely astonishing: how can ‘ordinary molecules’ of type 2 have a ‘meaning assignment’ that allows them to interpret other molecules of type 1 as ‘strings’ in such a way that they—according to the meaning assignment—lead to the organization of other molecules of type 3, which ultimately form a structure with functional properties that cannot be derived ‘purely materially’ from the type 1 molecules.

… !! New text in preparation !!..

[3] In this context, the term ‘information’ (or ‘biological information’) is commonly used in the literature. If this usage refers to the terminology of Claude Shannon, then it would be difficult to apply, as in the specific case it is not about the transmission of ‘signal elements’ through a signal channel to ‘received signal elements’ (a structural 1-to-1 mapping), but about an assignment of ‘signs (= signal elements)’ to something ‘completely different’ than the original signal elements.

A ‘Logic’?

When the main title tentatively (‘hypothetically’) mentions a ‘Logic of Life’, it is important to clarify what specifically is meant by the term ‘logic’ as a possible concept.

The term ‘logic’ dates back to Aristotle, who introduced it around 2400 years ago in Greece. It was then translated back into the Latin of the Christian Middle Ages via the Islamic culture around 1000 AD, profoundly influencing the intellectual life of Europe until the late Middle Ages. In contrast to ‘modern formal logic’—from the late 19th century onwards—the ‘Aristotelian logic’ is also referred to as ‘classical logic’.

If one disregards many details, classical and modern logic differ fundamentally in one aspect: in classical logic, the ‘linguistic meaning’ of the expressions used plays an important role, whereas in modern logic, linguistic meaning is completely excluded. ‘Mutilated remnants’ of meaning can still be found in the concept of an ‘abstract truth’, which is reflected in ‘abstract truth values’, but their ‘meaning content’ is completely empty.

The concept of both classical and modern logic—despite all differences—is united by the concept of ‘logical reasoning’: Suppose one has a set of expressions that are deemed ‘somehow true’ by the users of logic, then there are ‘rules of application’ on how to generate other expressions from the set of ‘assumed true expressions’, which can then also be considered ‘true expressions’. This ‘generation’ of new expressions from existing ones is called ‘reasoning’ or ‘inference’, and the ‘result’ of the reasoning is then a ‘conclusion’ or ‘inference’.

A more modern—formulaically abbreviated—notation for this matter would be:

A ⊢Tr B

Here, the symbol ‘A’ represents a set of expressions assumed to be true, ‘Tr’ stands for a set of transformation instructions (usually called ‘rules of inference or inference rules’), ‘B’ stands for a generated (derived) expression, and ‘⊢’ refers to an ‘action context’ within which users of logic use transformation rules to ‘generate B based on A’.

A ‘normal’ logician, in the case of the symbol ‘⊢’, does not speak of an ‘action context’ but usually just of a ‘concept of inference’ or—with an eye to the widespread use of computers—of an ‘inference mechanism’; however, this way of speaking should not obscure the fact that ‘what actually exists’ are once concrete ‘objects’ in the form of expressions ‘A’ and ‘B’, and also in the form of expressions ‘Tr’. These expressions as such have neither any ‘meaning’ nor can these expressions ‘generate anything by themselves’. For the concrete expressions ‘B’ to be classified as ‘inference’ from the expressions ‘A’, which are ‘really generated’ by means of ‘Tr’, a real ‘process’ must take place in which ‘B’ is ‘really generated’ from ‘A’ ‘in the sense of Tr’.

A process is a real event ‘in time’, in which there is a real state that contains the object ‘A’, and a real logic user who has a ‘concept = model’ of ‘logical reasoning’ in his head, in which the ‘expressions’ of the generation rules Tr are linked with concrete process steps (the meaning of the expressions Tr), so that the logic user can identify the expressions belonging to A as part of the generation rules in a way that the generation rules can assign a new expression B to the expressions A. If this assignment ‘in the mind of the logic user’ (commonly referred to as ‘thinking’) is successful, he can then write down a new expression B referring to the concrete expressions Tr in a ‘subsequent situation’. Another logic user will only accept this new expression ‘B’ if he also has a ‘concept = model’ of logical reasoning in his head that leads to the same result ‘B’ in his mind. If the other logic user comes to a different result than ‘B’, he will object.

–!! Not finished yet! —

Collective Human Intelligence (CHI)

This text is part of the text “Rebooting Humanity”

(The German Version can be found HERE)

Author No. 1 (Gerd Doeben-Henisch)

Contact: info@uffmm.org

(Start: June 22, 2024, Last change: June 22, 2024)

Starting Point

The main theme of this section is ‘collective human intelligence (CHI)’. However, it does not occur in isolation, detached from everything else. Rather, life on Planet Earth creates a complex network of processes which — upon closer examination — reveal structures that are consistent across all forms of life in their basic parameters, yet differ in parts. It must also be considered that these basic structures, in their process form, always intertwine with other processes, interacting and influencing each other. Therefore, a description of these basic structures will initially be rather sketchy here, as the enormous variety of details can otherwise lead one quickly into the ‘thicket of particulars’.

Important Factors

Basic Life-Pattern

Starting from the individual cell up to the most powerful cell galaxies [1] that life has produced so far, every identifiable form of life exhibits a ‘basic pattern’ of the life process that threads like a ‘red thread’ through all forms of life: as long as there is more than a single life system (a ‘population’), there exists throughout the entire lifespan the basic cycle (i) reproduction of Generation 1 – birth of Generation 2 – growth of Generation 2 – onset of behavior of Generation 2 accompanied by learning processes – reproduction of Generation 2 – ….

Genetic Determinism

This basic pattern, in the phases of ‘reproduction’ and ‘birth’, is largely ‘genetically determined’. [2] The growth process itself—the development of the cell galaxy—is also fundamentally strongly genetically determined, but increasingly factors from the environment of the growth process come into play, which can modify the growth process to varying degrees. Thus, the outcomes of reproduction and growth can vary more or less significantly.


As growth transforms the cell galaxy into a ‘mature’ state, the entire system can enable different ‘functions’ that increasingly facilitate ‘learning’.

A minimal concept of learning related to acting systems identifies the ‘learning of a system’ by the fact that the ‘behavior’ of a system changes in relation to a specific environmental stimulus over a longer period of time, and this change is ‘more than random’. [3]

‘Learning’ ranges on a scale from ‘relatively determined’ to ‘largely open’. ‘Open’ here means that the control by genetic presets decreases and the system can have individually different experiences within a spectrum of possible actions.


Experiences gain their ‘format’ within the following coordinates:

(i) (sensory) perception,

(ii) abstractions of sensory perceptions which are generated internally and which

(iii) are retrievable inside the system. The totality of such conditionally retrievable (recallable) abstractions is also called memory content. [4]

(iv) the possibility of arbitrary abstractions from abstractions, the

(v) storage of sequential events as well as

(vi) abstractions of sequentially occurring events, and the

(vii) free combination of abstractions into new integrated units.


(viii) the ‘perception of internal bodily events’ (also called ‘proprioceptive’ perception) [5], which can ‘link (associate)’ with all other perceptions and abstractions. [6] It is also important to note that it is a characteristic of perception that

(ix) events usually never occur in isolation but appear as ‘part of a spatial structure’. Although ‘subspaces can be distinguished (visually, acoustically, tactilely, etc.), these subspaces can be integrated into a ‘total space’ that has the format of a ‘three-dimensional body space’, with one’s own body as part of it. ‘In thought’, we can consider individual objects ‘by themselves’, detached from a body space, but as soon as we turn to the ‘sensual space of experience’, the three-dimensional spatial structure becomes active.

Individual – Collective

In the individual experience of everyday situations, this ‘inner world of experience’ largely forms in a multitude of ways, largely unconsciously.

However, as soon as ‘human systems’—in short, people—are not alone in a situation but together with others, these people can perceive and remember the same environment ‘similarly’ or ‘differently’. In their individual experiences, different elements can combine into specific patterns.

Coordination of Behavior

It becomes interesting when different people try to coordinate their behavior, even if it is just to make ‘contact’ with each other. And, although this can also be achieved in various ways without explicit symbolic language [7], sophisticated, complex collective action involving many participants over long periods with demanding tasks, according to current knowledge, is only possible with the inclusion of symbolic language.

The ability of humans to use languages seems to be fundamentally genetically conditioned. [8] ‘How’ language is used, ‘when’, ‘with which memory contents language is linked’, is not genetically conditioned. People must learn this ‘from the particular situation’ both individually and collectively, in coordination with others, since language only makes sense as a ‘common means of communication’ that should enable sophisticated coordination.

Linguistic Meaning

The system of sounds (and later symbols) used in a language is ultimately decided by those who initially use the language together. [9] Given the fact that there are many thousands of languages [10], one can conclude that there is considerable freedom in the specific design of a language. [11]

This ‘freedom in the specific design’ is most evident in the association between language elements and potential meanings. The same ‘object’, ‘event’, or ‘fact’ can be expressed completely differently by people using different languages. [12] And this ‘difference’ refers not only to the naming of individual properties or objects but occurs within a ‘larger context’ of ‘perspectives’ on how the everyday world is perceived, classified, and enacted within a specific language community. These differences also occur ‘within a language community’ in the form of ‘milieus’/’social strata’, where the ‘practice of life’ differs.

The most important aspect of the relationship between the language system (sounds, symbols, the arrangement of sounds and symbols) and possible ‘meaning content’ is that any type of ‘content’ is located within the person (inside the ‘system’).[13]

As the brief sketch above on the space of experience suggests, the elements that can constitute an experiential space are so layered and dynamic that an assignment between language elements and elements of experience is fundamentally incomplete. Additionally, two different systems (people) can only agree on elements of experience as ‘linguistic meaning’ if they have ‘common reference points’ in their individual experiential spaces. Due to the structure of the system, there exist only the following ‘types of reference points’:

(i) There are sensory perceptions of circumstances in a commonly shared environment that can be perceived ‘sufficiently’ similarly by all participants (and are automatically (unconsciously!) transformed into more abstract units in the experiential space).

(ii) There are internal body perceptions that normally occur similarly in each person due to a genetically determined structural similarity.[14]

(iii) There are internal perceptions of internal processes that also normally occur similarly in each person due to a genetically determined structural similarity. [15]

The more ‘similar’ such internal structures are and the more ‘constant’ they occur, the greater the likelihood that different language participants can form ‘internal working hypotheses’ about what the other means when using certain linguistic expressions. The more the content of experience deviates from types (i) – (iii), the more difficult or impossible it becomes to reach an agreement.

The question of ‘true statements’ and ‘verifiable predictions’ is a specific subset of the problem of meaning, which is treated separately.

Complex Language Forms

Even the assignment and determination of meaning in relatively ‘simple’ linguistic expressions is not straightforward, and it becomes quickly ‘blurred’ and ‘vague’ in ‘more complex language forms’. The discussions and research on this topic are incredibly extensive.[16]

I would like to briefly remind you of the example of Ludwig Wittgenstein, who first experimentally played through the very simple meaning concept of modern formal logic in his early work, ‘Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus’ (1921), but then, many years later (1936 – 1946), reexamined the problem of meaning using everyday language and many concrete examples. He discovered — not surprisingly — that ‘normal language’ functions differently and is significantly more complex than the simple meaning model of formal logic assumed. [17] What Wittgenstein discovered in his ‘everyday’ analyses was so multi-layered and complex that he found himself unable to transform it into a systematic presentation.[18]

Generally, it can be said that to this day there is not even a rudimentary comprehensive and accurate ‘theory of the meaning of normal language’. [19]

The emergence and proliferation of ‘generative artificial intelligence’ (Generative AI) in recent years [20] may offer an unexpected opportunity to revisit this problem entirely anew. Here, modern engineering demonstrates that simple algorithms, which possess no inherent meaning knowledge of their own, are capable of producing linguistic output by using only language material in linguistic interaction with humans. [21] This output is substantial, structured, and arranged in such a way that humans perceive it as if it were generated by a human, which is ultimately true. [22] What a person admires in this linguistic output is essentially ‘himself’, though not in his individual language performances, which are often worse than those generated by the algorithms. What the individual user encounters in such generated texts is essentially the ‘collective language knowledge’ of millions of people, which would not be accessible to us without these algorithms in this extracted form.

These generative algorithms [23] can be compared to the invention of the microscope, the telescope, or modern mathematics: all these inventions have enabled humans to recognize facts and structures that would have remained invisible without these tools. The true extent of collective linguistic performances would remain ‘invisible’ without modern technology, simply because humans without these technologies could not comprehend the scope and scale, along with all the details.

Preliminary Interim Result

The considerations so far only give a first outline of what collective intelligence can be or is.

[1] Reminder: If we assume that the number of stars in our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is estimated at 100 – 400 billion stars and we take 200 billion as our estimate, then our body system would correspond to the scope of 700 galaxies the size of the Milky Way, one cell for one star… a single body!

[2] We know today that genes can change in different ways or be altered during various phases.

[3] Simplifying, we can say that ‘randomness’ in a ‘distribution-free form’ means that each of the known possible continuations is ‘equally likely’; none of the possible continuations shows a ‘higher frequency’ over time than any of the others. Randomness with an ‘implicit distribution’ is noticeable because, although the possible continuations are random, certain continuations show a different frequency over time than others. All these particular individual frequencies together reveal a ‘pattern’ by which they can be characterized. An example of ‘randomness with a distribution’ is the ‘natural (or Gaussian) distribution’.

[4] The concept of ‘memory’ is a theoretical notion, the empirical and functional description of which has not yet been fully completed. Literature distinguishes many different ‘forms of memory’ such as ‘short-term memory’, ‘long-term memory’, ‘sensory memory’, ‘episodic memory’, and many more.

[5] For example, ‘joint positioning’, ‘pain’, ‘feeling of fullness’, ‘discomfort’, ‘hunger’, ‘thirst’, various ’emotions’, etc.

[6] One then perceives not just a ‘blue sky’ and feels a ‘light breeze on the skin’ at the same time, but also experiences a sense of ‘malaise’, ‘fever’, perhaps even a ‘feeling of dejection’ and the like.

[7] In biological behavioral research, there are countless examples of life forms showing impressive coordination achievements, such as during collective hunting, organizing the upbringing of offspring, within the ‘family unit’, learning the ‘dialects’ of their respective languages, handling tools, etc.

[8] Every child can learn any known human language anywhere, provided there is an environment in which a language is practiced. Many thousands of different languages are known.

[9] The exact mechanism by which a language first arises among a group of people remains unclear to this day. However, there are increasingly more computer simulations of language learning (language evolution) that attempt to shed light on this. Given the enormous number of factors involved in real language use, these simulations still appear ‘rather simple’.

[10] As we know from many records, there were many other languages in previous times that eventually died out (‘dead languages’), and only written records of them exist. It is also interesting to consider cases in which a language has ‘evolved’, where older forms continue to exist in texts.

[11] Language research (many different disciplines work together here) suggests the working hypothesis that (i) the type and scope of sounds used in a language, due to the human speech apparatus, represent a finite set that is more or less similar across all languages, although there are still different sets of sounds between the major language families. Furthermore, (ii) many analyses of the structure of spoken and then written language suggest that there are ‘basic structures’ (‘syntax’) that can be found—with variations—in all languages.

[12] Anyone who comes into contact with people who speak a different language can experience this up close and concretely.

[13] In light of modern brain research and general physiology, the ‘location’ here would be assumed to be the brain. However, this location is of little use, as the research into the material brain in the body, along with its interactions with the surrounding body, has hardly been able to grasp the exact mechanisms of ‘meaning assignments’ (just as one cannot identify the algorithm being executed based on the physical signals of computer chips alone from those signals).

[14] For example, ‘hunger’, ‘thirst’, ‘toothache’…

[15] The ‘remembering’ of something that has happened before; the ‘recognition’ of something sensually concrete that one can ‘remember’; the ‘combining’ of memorable things into new ‘constellations’, and much more.

[16] Parts of this discussion can be found in the context of ‘text analyses’, ‘text interpretations’, ‘hermeneutics’, ‘Bible interpretation’, etc.

[17] Which is not surprising at all, since modern formal logic could only arise because it had programmatically radically departed from what has to do with everyday linguistic meaning. What was left were only ‘stubs of an abstract truth’ in the form of abstract ‘truth values’ that were devoid of any meaning.

[18] His posthumously published ‘Philosophical Investigations’ (1953) therefore offer ‘only’ a collection of individual insights, but these were influential enough to impact reflections on linguistic meaning worldwide.

[19] The list of publications titled around the ‘meaning of language’ is exceedingly long. However, this does not change the fact that none of these publications satisfactorily solve the problem comprehensively. It is currently not foreseeable how a solution could emerge, as this would require the cooperation of many disciplines, which in current university operations are well distributed and separated into ‘existences of their own’.

[20] With chatGPT as an example.

[21] Millions of texts produced by humans for the purpose of ‘communicating content’.

[22] Which ultimately is true, because the algorithms themselves do not ‘invent’ text, but use ‘actually used’ linguistic expressions from existing texts to generate ‘highly probable’ combinations of expressions that humans would likely use.

[23] These cannot be seen in isolation: without extremely powerful computing centers along with corresponding global networks and social structures that make widespread use possible, these algorithms would be worthless. Here, indirectly, what has become possible and functions in everyday life due to collective human intelligence also shines through.

Blind’s World One (1995!)

This text is part of the text “Rebooting Humanity”

(The German Version can be found HERE)

Author No. 1 (Gerd Doeben-Henisch)

Contact: info@uffmm.org

(Last modified: June 14, 2024)

Starting Point

How can one philosophically conceive of artificial intelligence (AI) interacting with real people, an AI that learns real language with real meaning on its own? Prompted by an offer from Ars Electronica ’95 to introduce a philosophically inspired art project, I spent intense months with an ad hoc software team (the team was wonderful!) designing (and implemented by the software team) the interactive network version of a small artificial world based on philosophical considerations. In this world lived ‘blind Knowbots’ that could communicate with the outside world, using their other sensory experiences and basic bodily states as the basis for assigning meanings to their respective languages. Whatever language the users (mostly children!) used, they could link this language with their real-world experiences. This experiment has shaped me for many years, actually up to today.

Blind’s World One

(The text was copied from the Ars Electronica ’95 book since the text is no longer accessible)

Humans and machines that can generate sound

This text is part of the text “Rebooting Humanity”

(The German Version can be found HERE)

Author No. 1 (Gerd Doeben-Henisch)

Contact: info@uffmm.org

(Start: June 14, 2024, Last Modification: June 14, 2024)

Starting Point

Since September 2015, I have been repeatedly trying—both theoretically and practically—to understand what sound art really is; what is sound? What does it do to us? One consideration led to another; between them were real experiments and live performances. There were also long periods of ‘standstill’…. At a sound art concert on June 11, 2024, at Mousonturm in Frankfurt, something clicked in my mind regarding a fundamental question, and suddenly the uniqueness of ‘collective human intelligence’ in confrontation with so-called ‘intelligent machines’ became somehow newly clearer to me.


This post on an associated blog is about people and machines that can generate sound.

The trigger was a sound art event at the Mousonturm in Frankfurt am Main on June 11, 2024.

Here comes the translation:

A Hint from a Friend

Following a tip from Tobias (PiC, Xerox Exotique, …), I made a trip yesterday to the sound art event #090, organized by Xerox Exotique at the Mousonturm in Frankfurt am Main.


SKETCH: Mousonturm, a small event area to the right of the entrance with a small stage. Some participants are highlighted. Detailed information about the event can be found on the XEROX EXOTIQUE website (xeroxex.de).

What to Talk About?

A sound art event like this offers numerous starting points for discussion…

Since the beginning of Philosophy in Concert (PiC), I have been driven by the question of how to situate soundscapes in the life world of people so that they do not seem like ‘foreign bodies,’ somehow ‘detached’ from the process of humans on this planet, but as a ‘living part’ of this very real-dynamic process made visible.

At concerts based on written music (scores…), it all revolves around the sets of symbols that someone has produced, which others convert into sounds, and perhaps about the person who holds the ‘office of the interpreter’ and tells other implementers how they should convert. The ‘typically human’ aspect may then be recognized in the ‘background of the notation’, in the way of ‘converting’ or ‘interpreting’, and then the effect of the sound cloud in the room on the people who sit, listen, and experience various emotions…

How much of the human process is revealed in such a form of event?

There is almost never any talking, and if there is, what is there to talk about? About one’s own feelings? About the technical intricacies of the written? About the skill of the converters? About the beauty of a voice? Yes, it’s not easy to integrate the sound event into the life process… and yet, it affects somehow, one remembers, talks about it later, may rave or complain…

The Hidden Human

Let’s briefly change the context and dive directly into the current global euphoria many people have over the new chatbots, which increasingly fascinate more people in everyday life, products of ‘generative Artificial Intelligence’ (chatGPT & Co).

The algorithms behind the interface are comparatively simple (although the global deployment is due to impressive engineering). What fascinates people in front of the interface is ‘how human the algorithms appear in the interface’. They use everyday language just as ‘we humans’ do, ultimately even better than most of those who sit in front of it. And — almost irresistibly — many see, because of this language and the accessible knowledge ‘behind the interface’, not a simple machine but something ‘profoundly human’. What is ‘human’ about this appearance, however, are the words, sentences, and texts that the simple algorithm has compiled from millions of documents, all of which come from humans. On its own, this algorithm cannot generate a single sentence! It lacks fundamental prerequisites. The ‘actual’ wonder sits in front of the ‘apparent’ wonder: it is we humans, who have, are, and represent something that we are barely aware of ourselves (we are ‘blind through ourselves’), and we marvel when simple algorithms show us what we are… ultimately like a mirror of humanity, but most do not notice; we get excited about simple algorithms and forget that we ourselves are exactly this wonder that has produced all this, continues to produce… we become blind to the real wonder that we ourselves are, each of us, all together.

Collective Intelligence – Collective ‘Spirit’…

In the case of algorithms, the term ‘artificial intelligence (AI)’ has been used for a long time, and more moderately, ‘machine learning (ML)’. However, the concept of intelligence has not yet been truly standardized, even though psychology has developed and experimentally researched interesting concepts of ‘intelligence’ (e.g., the ‘Intelligence Quotient (IQ)’) for humans for about 120 years. The communication between psychology and computer science, however, has never been very systematic; rather, everyone does ‘their own thing’. Thus, precisely determining the relationship between ‘human intelligence (HI)’ and ‘artificial intelligence (AI)’ has so far been quite difficult; the terms are too vague, not standardized. Moreover, it is complicated by the fact that the ‘actually impressive achievements’ of humans are not their ‘individual achievements’ (although these are important), but everything that ‘many people together over a long time’ have accomplished or are accomplishing. The term ‘Collective Human Intelligence (CHI)’ is in this direction but is probably too narrow, as it’s not just about ‘intellect’ but also about ‘communication’, ’emotions’, and ‘goals’. Unfortunately, research on the topic of Collective Human Intelligence is still far behind. The focus on the individual runs deep, and then in times of artificial intelligence, where individual machines achieve remarkable feats (under the premise of the collective achievements of humans!), even the study of individual human intelligence has fallen into the shadow of attention.

How do we get out of this impasse?

Sound Art as a Case Study?

I hadn’t attended a sound art concert in many years. But there were still memories, various aspects swirling through my mind.

The tip from Tobias catapulted me out of my usual daily routines into such a sound art event at the Mousonturm on June 11, 2024, at 8:00 pm.

As I said, there is a lot to talk about here. For a long time, I have been preoccupied with the question of the ‘collective’ dimension in human interaction. The ‘synchronization’ of people by algorithms is nothing unusual. In a way, humans have always been ‘standardized’ and ‘aligned’ by the prevailing ‘narratives,’ and the rapid spread of modern ‘narratives’ and the speed with which millions of people worldwide join a narrative is a fact. Most people (despite education) are apparently defenseless against the emergence of ‘narratives’ at first, and then very soon so strongly ‘locked-in’ that they reproduce the narratives like marionettes.

What role can ‘sound art’ play against such a backdrop? Sound art, where there is nothing ‘written’, no ‘central interpreter’, no ‘converters of the written’, but, yes, what?

That evening, the first group, ‘Art Ensemble Neurotica’, seemed to me to most broadly illustrate the profound characteristics of sound art. In the two following solo acts, where the individual performer interacted with sound they themselves produced, the special dimension of sound art was also present, in my view, but more concealed due to the arrangement.

In the case of Neurotica: Four people generated sound, live, each individually: Dirk Hülstrunk (narrator) – Michael Junck (digital devices) – Johannes Aeppli (percussion) – Guido Braun (strings & conductor). Each person on stage was a ’cause’, equipped with instruments that allowed all sorts of sound effects. There were no written notes; there hadn’t been a real rehearsal beforehand, but some arrangements (according to Guido).

Anyone who knows how diversely each individual can generate sound under these conditions can imagine that this seemingly infinite space can give rise to tension about what will happen next?

Describing the totality of sound that emanated from the four performers upfront for 45 minutes is nearly impossible in detail. At no stage did it seem (I exchanged views immediately afterwards with Roland (incorrectly identified as Robert in the sketch) next to me—we didn’t know each other, it was a coincidence we sat next to each other), that one sound source drowned out or overwhelmed another; everything appeared side by side and intertwined in a somehow ‘fitting form’, appealing and stimulating. Patterns from all four individual sources could be recognized interacting with each other over extended phases, yet they were supple, changing shape. Effects like volume shifts, echo, reverb, distortion, etc., did not feel out of place but seemed ‘harmonic’… giving each source a ‘character’ that combined with the others to form an overall impression…

Can such an arrangement of sounds be taken ‘purely abstractly’, detached from their creators? Could software generate such a complex sound event?

While the listener initially hears only the produced sound and might not immediately decide from this perspective whether it matters who and how this sound is produced, from the perspective of creation it quickly becomes clear that these sounds cannot be isolated from the producer, from the ‘inner states’ of the producer. Ultimately, the sound is created in the moment, in the interaction of many moments inside each individual actor (human), and this individual is not ‘alone’, but through his perception and many jointly experienced sound processes, each possesses a ‘sound knowledge’ that he more or less ‘shares internally’ with others, and thus each can bring his current inner states into a ‘dialogue’ with this ‘shared sound knowledge’. It is precisely this inner dialogue (largely unconscious) that provides opportunities for complex synchronizations, which an individual alone, without a shared history of sound, could not have. The resulting complex sounds are therefore not just ‘sound’ but are more manifestations of the internal structures and processes of the creators, which as internal meaning are linked with the external sound: Sound art sound is therefore not just sound one hears, it is also fully a kind of ‘communication’ of ‘inner human states’, spread over various collaborating individuals, thus a true collective event that presupposes the individual but extends far beyond in the happening. In this form of distributed sound art, the individual can experience themselves as a ‘WE’ that would otherwise be invisible.


So, I now have this strange feeling that participating in this sound art event has led me deeper into the great mystery of us humans, who we are, that we have a special dimension of our existence in our ability to ‘collectively feel, think, and act,’ which somewhat liberates us from ‘individuality’ towards a very special ‘We’.

While a soundscape is ‘authentic’ and as such not ‘underminable’, ‘narrative spaces’—the use of language with an assumed, but not easily controllable potential meaning—are extremely ‘dangerous’ spaces: assumed meanings can be false and—as we can see today on a global scale—are predominantly wrong with correspondingly devastating consequences. Moving in distributed sound spaces has its ‘meaning’ ‘within itself’; the ‘Self in sound together’ is not underminable; it is mercilessly direct. Perhaps we need more of this…


This text is part of the text “Rebooting Humanity”

(The German Version can be found HERE)

Author No. 1 (Gerd Doeben-Henisch)

Contact: info@uffmm.org

(Start: June 14, 2024, Last Modification: June 14, 2024)

Starting Point

In both the section “Talking about the World” and the section “Verifiable Statements,” the theme of ‘change’ continuously emerges: our everyday world is characterized by everything we know being capable of ‘changing,’ including ourselves, constantly, often unconsciously; it just happens. In the context of people trying to collectively create an understanding of the world, perhaps also attempting to ‘plan’ what should be done together to achieve the best possible living situation for as many as possible in the future, the phenomenon of ‘change’ presents an ambivalent challenge: if there were no change, there would be no future, only ‘present’; but with change occurring, it becomes difficult to ‘look into the future’. How can we know into what future state all these changes will lead us? Do we even have a chance?



In the current scenario, we assume a context of people trying to collectively form a picture of the world, who may also be attempting to ‘plan’ joint actions. It’s essential to recognize that the ‘relevant’ topics of interest are influenced by ‘which people’ one is working with, as each group within a society can and often does have its ‘own perspectives’. It is not only in ‘autocratic’ societal systems that citizens’ perspectives can be easily overlooked; there are plenty of examples in officially ‘democratic’ systems where citizens’ concerns are also overlooked, warranting closer analysis.

This discussion initially focuses on the fundamental mechanisms of ‘change’, specifically the ‘collective description’ of changes. The motivation for this emphasis stems from the fact that different people can only ‘coordinate (align) their actions’ if they first manage to ‘communicate and agree’ on the ‘contents of their actions’ through ‘communication processes’.

While simple situations or small groups may manage with verbal communication alone, most scenarios require ‘written texts’ (documents). However, written text has a disadvantage compared to direct speech: a ‘text’ can be ‘read’ in a situation where the ‘reader’ is not currently in the situation being described. In terms of ‘verifiability of statements’, this presents a real challenge: every text, due to ‘learned meaning relationships’, automatically has a ‘meaning’ that is activated ‘in the mind of the reader’, but it is crucial to verify whether there is a ‘real verifiable correspondence’ to the situation ‘described’ in the text.

If we assume that a group of people seriously contemplates a ‘future’ that they believe is ‘more likely to occur than not’—not just ‘theoretically’ but ‘actually’—then there must be a way to design the description of a ‘starting situation’ such that all participants have a chance to verify its accuracy in their shared everyday life.

Verifiable Statements

This text is part of the text “Rebooting Humanity”

(The German Version can be found HERE)

Author No. 1 (Gerd Doeben-Henisch)

Contact: info@uffmm.org

(Start: June 7, 2024, Last change: June 9, 2024)

Starting Point

Speaking in everyday life entails that through our manner of speaking, we organize the perceptions of our environment, solely through our speech. This organization occurs through thinking, which manifests in speaking. As previously described, while the ability to speak is innate to us humans, the way we use our speech is not. In speaking, we automatically create an order, but whether this order actually corresponds to the realities of our everyday world requires additional verification. This verification, however, does not happen automatically; we must explicitly desire it and carry it out concretely.

Verifiable Statements

If one accepts the starting point that linguistic expressions, which enable our thinking, are initially ‘only thought’ and require additional ‘verification in everyday life’ to earn a minimal ‘claim to validity in practice’, then this basic idea can be used as a starting point for the concept of ’empirical verifiability’, which is seen here as one of several ‘building blocks’ for the more comprehensive concept of an ’empirical theory (ET)’.

Language Without Number Words

Here are some everyday examples that can illustrate some aspects of the concept of ’empirical verifiability’:

Case 1: There is an object with certain properties that the involved persons can perceive sensorily. Then one person, A, can say: ‘There is an object X with properties Y.’ And another person, B, can say: ‘Yes, I agree.’

Case 2: A specific object X with properties Y cannot be sensorily perceived by the involved persons. Then person A can say: ‘The object X with properties Y is not here.’ And another person, B, can say: ‘Yes, I agree.’

Case 3: There is an object with certain properties that the involved persons can sensorily perceive, which they have never seen before. Then person A can say: ‘There is an object with properties that I do not recognize. This is new to me.’ And another person, B, can then say: ‘Yes, I agree.’

The common basic structure of all three cases is that there are at least two people who ‘speak the same language’ and are in a ‘shared situation’ in everyday life. One person—let’s call him A—initiates a conversation with a ‘statement about an object with properties,’ where the statement varies depending on the situation. In all cases, the person addressed—let’s call him B—can ‘agree’ to A’s statements.

The three cases differ, for example, in how the object ‘appears’: In case 1, an object is ‘simply there,’ one can ‘perceive’ it, and the object appears as ‘familiar.’ In case 2, the object is known, but not present. In case 3, there is also an object, it can be perceived, but it is ‘not known.’

For the constructive success of determining an agreement that finds approval among several people, the following elements are assumed based on the three cases:

The participants possess:

  • ‘Sensory perception’, which makes events in the environment recognizable to the perceiver.
  • ‘Memory’, which can store what is perceived.
  • ‘Decision-making ability’ to decide whether (i) the perceived has been perceived before, (ii) the perceived is something ‘new,’ or (iii) an object ‘is no longer there,’ which ‘was there before.’
  • A sufficiently similar ‘meaning relationship’, which enables people to activate an active relationship between the elements of spoken language and the elements of both perception and memory, whereby language elements can refer to contents and vice versa.

Only if all these four components [2] are present in each person involved in the situation can one convey something linguistically about their perception of the world in a way that the other can agree or disagree. If one of the mentioned components (perception, memory, decision-making ability, meaning relationship) is missing, the procedure of determining an agreement using a linguistic expression is not possible.

[1] There are many different cases!

[2] These four concepts (perception, memory, decision-making ability, meaning relationship) are ‘incomprehensible on their own.’ They must be explained in a suitable context later on. They are used here in the current concept of ‘verifiable statements’ in a functional context, which characterizes the concept of ‘verifiable statement’.

Language with Numerals

Typically, everyday languages today include numerals (e.g., one, two, 33, 4400, …, 1/2, 1/4), although they vary in scope.

Such numerals usually refer to some ‘objects’ (e.g., three eggs, 5 roses, 33 potatoes, 4400 inhabitants, … 1/2 pound of flour, 44 liters of rainfall in an hour, …) located in a specific area.

A comprehensible verification then depends on the following factors:

  • Can the specified number or quantity be directly determined in this area (a clear number must come out)?
  • If the number or amount is too large to estimate directly in the area, is there a comprehensible procedure by which this is possible?
  • What is the time required to make the determination in the area (e.g., minutes, hours, days, weeks, …)? If the necessary time always increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to make the statement for a specific time (e.g., the number of residents in a city).

These examples show that the question of verification quickly encompasses more and more aspects that must be met for the verifiability of a statement to be understood and accepted by all involved.

Language with Abstractions

Another pervasive feature of everyday languages is the phenomenon that, in the context of perception and memory (storing and recalling), abstract structures automatically form, which are also reflected in the language. Here are some simple examples:

IMAGE: Four types of objects, each seen as concrete examples of an abstract type (class).

In everyday life, we have a word for the perceived objects of types 1-4, even though the concrete variety makes each object look different: In the case of objects of group 1, we can speak of a ‘clock,’ for group 2 of a ‘cup,’ for 3 of ‘pens,’ and in the case 4 of ‘computer mice,’ or simply ‘mice,’ where everyone knows from the context that ‘mouse’ here does not mean a biological mouse but a technical device related to computers. Although we ‘sensorily’ see something ‘different’ each time, we use the ‘same word.’ The ‘one word’ then stands for potentially ‘many concrete objects,’ with the peculiarity that we ‘implicitly know’ which concrete object is to be linked with which word. If we were not able to name many different concrete objects with ‘one word,’ we would not only be unable to invent as many different words as we would need, but coordination among ourselves would completely break down: how could two different people agree on what they ‘perceive in the same way’ if every detail of perception counted? The same object can look very different depending on the angle and lighting.

The secret of this assignment of one word to many sensually different objects lies not in the assignment of words to elements of knowledge, but rather the secret lies one level deeper, where the events of perception are transformed into events of memory. Simplifying, one can say that the multitude of sensory events (visual, auditory, gustatory (taste), tactile, …) after their conversion into chemical-physical states of nerve cells become parts of neuronal signal flows, which undergo multiple ‘processings’. As a result, the ‘diversity of signals’ is condensed into ‘abstract structures’ that function as a kind of ‘prototype’ connected to many concrete ‘variants.’ There are thus something like ‘core properties’ that are ‘common’ to different perception events like ‘cup,’ and then many ‘secondary properties’ that can also occur, but not always, the core properties do. In the case of the ‘clock,’ for example, the two hands along with the circular arrangement of marks could be such ‘core properties.’ Everything else can vary greatly. Moreover, the ‘patterns of core and secondary properties’ are not formed once, but as part of processes with diverse aspects e.g., possible changes, possible simultaneous events, etc., which can function as ‘contexts’ (e.g., the difference between ‘technical’ and ‘biological’ in the case of the term ‘mouse’).

Thus, the use of a word like ‘clock’ or ‘cup’ involves— as previously discussed—once the reference to memory contents, to perceptual contents, to learned meaning relationships, as well as the ability to ‘decide’ which of the concrete perception patterns belong to which learned ‘prototype.’ Depending on how this decision turns out, we then say ‘clock’ or ‘cup’ or something else accordingly. This ability of our brain to ‘abstract,’ by automatically generating prototypical ‘patterns’ that can exemplify many sensorially different individual objects, is fundamental for our thinking and speaking in everyday life. Only because of this ability to abstract can our language work.

It is no less impressive that this basic ‘ability to abstract’ of our brain is not limited to the relationship between the two levels ‘sensory perception’ and ‘storage in memory,’ but works everywhere in memory between any levels. Thus, we have no problem grouping various individual clocks based on properties into ‘wristwatches’ and ‘wall clocks.’ We know that cups can be seen as part of ‘drinking vessels’ or as part of ‘kitchenware.’ Pens are classified as ‘writing instruments,’ and ‘computer mice’ are part of ‘computer accessories,’ etc.

Often, such abstraction achievements are also referred to as ‘categorizations’ or ‘class formation,’ and the objects that are assigned to such class designations then form the ‘class content,’ where the ‘scope’ of a class is ‘fluid.’ New objects can constantly appear that the brain assigns to one class or another.

Given this diversity of ‘abstractions,’ it is not surprising that the assignment of individual objects to one of these classes is ‘fluid,’ ‘fuzzy.’ With the hundreds or more different shapes of chairs or tables that now exist, it is sometimes difficult to decide, is this still a ‘chair’ or a ‘table’ in the ‘original sense’ [2] or rather a ‘design product’ in search of a new form.

For the guiding question of the verifiability of linguistic expressions that contain abstractions (and these are almost all), it follows from the preceding considerations that the ‘meaning of a word’ or then also the ‘meaning of a linguistic expression’ can never be determined by the words alone, but almost always only by the ‘context’ in which the linguistic expression takes place. Just as the examples with the ‘numerical words’ suggest, so must one know in a request like “Can you pass me my cup” which of the various cups was the ‘speaker’s cup.’ This presupposes the situation and ‘knowledge of the past of this situation’: which of the possible objects had he used as his cup?[3]

Or, when people try to describe a street, a neighborhood, a single house, and the like with language. Based on the general structures of meaning, each reader can form a ‘reasonably clear picture’ ‘in his head’ while reading, but almost all details that were not explicitly described (which is normally almost impossible) are then also not present in the reconstructed ‘picture in the head’ of the reader. Based on the ‘experience knowledge’ of the language participants, of course, everyone can additionally ‘color in’ his ‘picture in the head.'[4]

If a group of people wants to be sure that a description is ‘sufficiently clear,’ one must provide additional information for all important elements of the report that are ‘ambiguous.’ One can, for example, jointly inspect, investigate the described objects and/ or create additional special descriptions, possibly supplemented by pictures, sound recordings, or other hints.

When it comes to details, everyday language alone is not enough. Additional special measures are required.[5]

[1] A problem that machine image recognition has struggled with from the beginning and continues to struggle with to this day.

[2] The ‘original’ sense, i.e., the principle underlying the abstraction performance, is to be found in those neuronal mechanisms responsible for this prototype formation. The ‘inner logic’ of these neuronal processes has not yet been fully researched, but their ‘effect’ can be observed and analyzed. Psychology has been trying to approximate this behavior with many model formations since the 1960s, with considerable success.

[3] Algorithms of generative artificial intelligence (like chatGPT), which have no real context and which have no ‘body-based knowledge,’ attempt to solve the problem by analyzing extremely large amounts of words by breaking down documents into their word components along with possible contexts of each word so that they can deduce possible ‘formal contexts,’ which then function as ‘quasi-meaning contexts.’ To a certain extent, this works meanwhile quite well, but only in a closed word space (closed world).

[4] A well-known example from everyday life here is the difference that can arise when someone reads a novel, forms ideas in their head, and eventually someone produced a movie about the novel: to what extent do the ideas one has made of individual people correspond with those in the movie?

[5] Some may still know texts from so-called ‘holy scriptures’ of a religion (e.g., the ‘Bible’). The fundamental problem of the ‘ambiguity’ of language is of course intensified in the case of historical texts. With the passage of time, the knowledge of the everyday world in which a text was created is lost. Then, with older texts, there is often a language problem: the original texts, such as those of the Bible, were written in an old Hebrew (‘Old Testament’) or an old Greek (‘New Testament’), whose language use is often no longer known. In addition, these texts were written in different text forms, in the case of the Old Testament also at different times, whereby the text has also been repeatedly revised (which is often also connected with the fact that it is not clear who exactly the authors were). Under these conditions, deducing an ‘exact’ meaning is more or less restricted or impossible. This may explain why interpretations in the approximately 2000 years of ‘Bible interpretation’ have been very different at all times.

Talking about the world

This text is part of the text “Rebooting Humanity”

(The German Version can be found HERE)

Author No. 1 (Gerd Doeben-Henisch)

Contact: info@uffmm.org

(Start: June 5, 2024, Last change: June 7, 2024)

Starting Point

A ‘text’ shall be written that speaks about the world, including all living beings, with ‘humans’ as the authors in the first instance. So far, we know of no cases where animals or plants write texts themselves: their view of life. We only know of humans who write from ‘their human perspective’ about life, animals, and plants. Much can be criticized about this approach. Upon further reflection, one might even realize that ‘humans writing about other humans and themselves’ is not so trivial either. Even humans writing ‘about themselves’ is prone to errors, can go completely ‘awry,’ can be entirely ‘wrong,’ which raises the question of what is ‘true’ or ‘false.’ Therefore, we should spend some thoughts on how we humans can talk about the world and ourselves in a way that gives us a chance not just to ‘fantasize,’ but to grasp something that is ‘real,’ something that describes what truly characterizes us as humans, as living beings, as inhabitants of this planet… but then the question pops up again, what is ‘real’? Are we caught in a cycle of questions with answers, where the answers themselves are again questions upon closer inspection?

First Steps

Life on Planet Earth

At the start of writing, we assume that there is a ‘Planet Earth’ and on this planet there is something we call ‘life,’ and we humans—belonging to the species Homo sapiens—are part of it.


We also assume that we humans have the ability to communicate with each other using sounds. These sounds, which we use for communication, we call here ‘speech sounds’ to indicate that the totality of sounds for communication forms a ‘system’ which we ultimately call ‘language.’


Since we humans on this planet can use completely different sounds for the ‘same objects’ in the same situation, it suggests that the ‘meaning’ of speech sounds is not firmly tied to the speech sounds themselves, but somehow has to do with what happens ‘in our minds.’ Unfortunately, we cannot look ‘into our minds.’ It seems a lot happens there, but this happening in the mind is ‘invisible.’ Nevertheless, in ‘everyday life,’ we experience that we can ‘agree’ with others whether it is currently ‘raining’ or if it smells ‘bad’ or if there is a trash bin on the sidewalk blocking the way, etc. So somehow, the ‘happenings in the mind’ seem to have certain ‘agreements’ among different people, so that not only I see something specific, but the other person does too, and we can even use the same speech sounds for it. And since a program like chatGPT can translate my German speech sounds, e.g., into English speech sounds, I can see that another person who does not speak German, instead of my word ‘Mülltonne,’ uses the word ‘trash bin’ and then nods in agreement: ‘Yes, there is a trash bin.’ Would that be a case for a ‘true statement’?

Changes and Memories

Since we experience daily how everyday life constantly ‘changes,’ we know that something that just found agreement may no longer find it the next moment because the trash bin is no longer there. We can only notice these changes because we have something called ‘memory’: we can remember that just now at a specific place there was a trash bin, but now it’s not. Or is this memory just an illusion? Can I trust my memory? If now everyone else says there was no trash bin, but I remember there was, what does that mean?

Concrete Body

Yes, and then my body: time and again I need to drink something, eat something, I’m not arbitrarily fast, I need some space, … my body is something very concrete, with all sorts of ‘sensations,’ ‘needs,’ a specific ‘shape,’ … and it changes over time: it grows, it ages, it can become sick, … is it like a ‘machine’?

Galaxies of Cells

Today we know that our human body resembles less a ‘machine’ and more a ‘galaxy of cells.’ Our body has about 37 trillion (10¹²) body cells with another 100 trillion cells in the gut that are vital for our digestive system, and these cells together form the ‘body system.’ The truly incomprehensible thing is that these approximately 140 trillion cells are each completely autonomous living beings, with everything needed for life. And if you know how difficult it is for us as humans to maintain cooperation among just five people over a long period, then you can at least begin to appreciate what it means that 140 trillion beings manage to communicate and coordinate actions every second—over many years, even decades—so that the masterpiece ‘human body’ exists and functions.

Origin as a Question

And since there is no ‘commander’ who constantly tells all the cells what to do, this ‘miracle of the human system’ expands further into the dimension of where the concept comes from that enables this ‘super-galaxy of cells’ to be as they are. How does this work? How did it arise?

Looking Behind Phenomena

In the further course, it will be important to gradually penetrate the ‘surface of everyday phenomena’ starting from everyday life, to make visible those structures that are ‘behind the phenomena,’ those structures that hold everything together and at the same time constantly move, change everything.

Fundamental Dimension of Time

All this implies the phenomenon ‘time’ as a basic category of all reality. Without time, there is also no ‘truth’…

[1] Specialists in brain research will of course raise their hand right away, and will want to say that they can indeed ‘look into the head’ by now, but let’s wait and see what this ‘looking into the head’ entails.

[2] If we assume for the number of stars in our home galaxy, the Milky Way, with an estimated 100 – 400 billion stars that there are 200 billion, then our body system would correspond to the scope of 700 galaxies in the format of the Milky Way, one cell for one star.

[3] Various disciplines of natural sciences, especially certainly evolutionary biology, have illuminated many aspects of this mega-wonder partially over the last approx. 150 years. One can marvel at the physical view of our universe, but compared to the super-galaxies of life on Planet Earth, the physical universe seems downright ‘boring’… Don’t worry: ultimately, both are interconnected: one explains the other…”

Telling Stories

Fragments of Everyday Life—Without Context

We constantly talk about something: the food, the weather, the traffic, shopping prices, daily news, politics, the boss, colleagues, sports events, music, … mostly, these are ‘fragments’ from the larger whole that we call ‘everyday life’. People in one of the many crisis regions on this planet, especially those in natural disasters or even in war…, live concretely in a completely different world, a world of survival and death.

These fragments in the midst of life are concrete, concern us, but they do not tell a story by themselves about where they come from (bombs, rain, heat,…), why they occur, how they are connected with other fragments. The rain that pours down is a single event at a specific place at a specific time. The bridge that must be closed because it is too old does not reveal from itself why this particular bridge, why now, why couldn’t this be ‘foreseen’? The people who are ‘too many’ in a country or also ‘too few’: Why is that? Could this have been foreseen? What can we do? What should we do?

The stream of individual events hits us, more or less powerfully, perhaps even simply as ‘noise’: we are so accustomed to it that we no longer even perceive certain events. But these events as such do not tell a ‘story about themselves’; they just happen, seemingly irresistibly; some say ‘It’s fate’.

Need for Meaning

It is notable that we humans still try to give the whole a ‘meaning’, to seek an ‘explanation’ for why things are the way they are. And everyday life shows that we have a lot of ‘imagination’ concerning possible ‘connections’ or ’causes’. Looking back into the past, we often smile at the various attempts at explanation by our ancestors: as long as nothing was known about the details of our bodies and about life in general, any story was possible. In our time, with science established for about 150 years, there are still many millions of people (possibly billions?) who know nothing about science and are willing to believe almost any story just because another person tells this story convincingly.

Liberation from the Moment through Words

Because of this ability, with the ‘power of imagination’ to pack things one experiences into a ‘story’ that suggests ‘possible connections’, through which events gain a ‘conceptual sense’, a person can try to ‘liberate’ themselves from the apparent ‘absoluteness of the moment’ in a certain way: an event that can be placed into a ‘context’ loses its ‘absoluteness’. Just by this kind of narrative, the experiencing person gains a bit of ‘power’: in narrating a connection, the narrator can make the experience ‘a matter’ over which they can ‘dispose’ as they see fit. This ‘power through the word’ can alleviate the ‘fear’ that an event can trigger. This has permeated the history of humanity from the beginning, as far as archaeological evidence allows.

Perhaps it is not wrong to first identify humans not as ‘hunters and gatherers’ or as ‘farmers’ but as ‘those who tell stories’.

[1] Such a magic word in Greek philosophy was the concept of ‘breath’ (Greek “pneuma”). The breath not only characterized the individually living but was also generalized to a life principle of everything that connected both body, soul, and spirit as well as permeated the entire universe. In the light of today’s knowledge, this ‘explanation’ could no longer be told, but about 2300 years ago, this belief was a certain ‘intellectual standard’ among all intellectuals, the prevailing ‘worldview’; it was ‘believed’. Anyone who thought differently was outside this ‘language game’.

Organization of an Order

Thinking Creates Relationships

As soon as one can ‘name’ individual events, things, processes, properties of things, and more through ‘language’, it is evident that humans have the ability to not only ‘name’ using language but to embed the ‘named’ through ‘arrangement of words in linguistic expression’ into ‘conceived relationships’, thereby connecting the individually named items not in isolation but in thought with others. This fundamental human ability to ‘think relationships in one’s mind’, which cannot be ‘seen’ but can indeed be ‘thought’ [1], is of course not limited to single events or a single relationship. Ultimately, we humans can make ‘everything’ a subject, and we can ‘think’ any ‘possible relationship’ in our minds; there are no fundamental restrictions here.

Stories as a Natural Force

Not only history is full of examples, but also our present day. Today, despite the incredible successes of modern science, almost universally, the wildest stories with ‘purely thought relationships’ are being told and immediately believed through all channels worldwide, which should give us pause. Our fundamental characteristic, that we can tell stories to break the absoluteness of the moment, obviously has the character of a ‘natural force’, deeply rooted within us, that we cannot ‘eradicate’; we might be able to ‘tame’ it, perhaps ‘cultivate’ it, but we cannot stop it. It is an ‘elemental characteristic’ of our thinking, that is: of our brain in the body.

Thought and Verified

The experience that we, the storytellers, can name events and arrange them into relationships—and ultimately without limit—may indeed lead to chaos if the narrated network of relationships is ultimately ‘purely thought’, without any real reference to the ‘real world around us’, but it is also our greatest asset. With it, humans can not only fundamentally free themselves from the apparent absoluteness of the present, but we can also create starting points with the telling of stories, ‘initially just thought relationships’, which we can then concretely ‘verify’ in our everyday lives.

A System of Order

When someone randomly sees another person who looks very different from what they are used to, all sorts of ‘assumptions’ automatically form in each person about what kind of person this might be. If one stops at these assumptions, these wild guesses can ‘populate the head’ and the ‘world in the head’ gets populated with ‘potentially evil people’; eventually, they might simply become ‘evil’. However, if one makes contact with the other, they might find that the person is actually nice, interesting, funny, or the like. The ‘assumptions in the head’ then transform into ‘concrete experiences’ that differ from what was initially thought. ‘Assumptions’ combined with ‘verification’ can thus lead to the formation of ‘reality-near ideas of relationships’. This gives a person the chance to transform their ‘spontaneous network of thought relationships’, which can be wrong—and usually are—into a ‘verified network of relationships’. Since ultimately the thought relationships as a network provide us with a ‘system of order’ in which everyday things are embedded, it appears desirable to work with as many ‘verified thought relationships’ as possible.

[1] The breath of the person opposite me, which for the Greeks connected my counterpart with the life force of the universe, which in turn is also connected with the spirit and the soul…

Hypotheses and Science

Challenge: Methodically Organized Guessing

The ability to think of possible relationships, and to articulate them through language, is innate [1], but the ‘use’ of this ability in everyday life, for example, to match thought relationships with the reality of everyday life, this ‘matching’/’verifying’ is not innate. We can do it, but we don’t have to. Therefore, it is interesting to realize that since the first appearance of Homo sapiens on this planet [2], 99.95% of the time has passed until the establishment of organized modern science about 150 years ago. This can be seen as an indication that the transition from ‘free guessing’ to ‘methodically organized systematic guessing’ must have been anything but easy. And if today still a large part of people—despite schooling and even higher education—[3] tend to lean towards ‘free guessing’ and struggle with organized verification, then there seems to be a not easy threshold that a person must overcome—and must continually overcome—to transition from ‘free’ to ‘methodically organized’ guessing.[4]

Starting Point for Science

The transition from everyday thinking to ‘scientific thinking’ is fluid. The generation of ‘thought relationships’ in conjunction with language, due to our ability of creativity/imagination, is ultimately also the starting point of science. While in everyday thinking we tend to spontaneously and pragmatically ‘verify’ ‘spontaneously thought relationships’, ‘science’ attempts to organize such verifications ‘systematically’ to then accept such ‘positively verified guesses’ as ’empirically verified guesses’ until proven otherwise as ‘conditionally true’. Instead of ‘guesses’, science likes to speak of ‘hypotheses’ or ‘working hypotheses’, but they remain ‘guesses’ through the power of our thinking and through the power of our imagination.[5]

[1] This means that the genetic information underlying the development of our bodies is designed so that our body with its brain is constructed during the growth phase in such a way that we have precisely this ability to ‘think of relationships’. It is interesting again to ask how it is possible that from a single cell about 13 trillion body cells (the approximately 100 trillion bacteria in the gut come ‘from outside’) can develop in such a way that they create the ‘impression of a human’ that we know.

[2] According to current knowledge, about 300,000 years ago in East Africa and North Africa, from where Homo sapiens then explored and conquered the entire world (there were still remnants of other human forms that had been there longer).

[3] I am not aware of representative empirical studies on how many people in a population tend to do this.

[4] Considering that we humans as the life form Homo sapiens only appeared on this planet after about 3.8 billion years, the 300,000 years of Homo sapiens make up roughly 0.008% of the total time since there has been life on planet Earth. Thus, not only are we as Homo sapiens a very late ‘product’ of the life process, but the ability to ‘systematically verify hypotheses’ also appears ‘very late’ in our Homo sapiens life process. Viewed across the entire life span, this ability seems to be extremely valuable, which is indeed true considering the incredible insights we as Homo sapiens have been able to gain with this form of thinking. The question is how we deal with this knowledge. This behavior of using systematically verified knowledge is not innate too.

[5] The ability of ‘imagination’ is not the opposite of ‘knowledge’, but is something completely different. ‘Imagination’ is a trait that ‘shows’ itself the moment we start to think, perhaps even in the fact ‘that’ we think at all. Since we can in principle think about ‘everything’ that is ‘accessible’ to our thinking, imagination is a factor that helps to ‘select’ what we think. In this respect, imagination is pre-posed to thinking.