Symbiotism: 1). Sources of Knowing


We are part of a larger picture.


Symbiotism is the philosophy that affirms that the part exists in a dynamic, symbiotic relationship with the whole. The individual cell exists and is important but it does not exist for long in isolation. The cell is part of a tissue, the tissue part of an organ, the organ part of an organ system, and the organ systems make up an organism.

Symbiotism in Mathematics

According to fractal geometry, patterns continue to repeat outward as well as inward, with variations on a theme, yielding the surprising result that when you zoom in on any part, it resembles the whole. Thus the organism is not the end-all, be-all of the pattern, for the organism exists in an ever-expanding environment with other organisms, having their own themes, and it cannot live in isolation from them.

Symbiotism and Truth

Symbiotism as a political philosophy starts with the assertion that valid sources of truth are not limited to human reason or science, as Western philosophy often insists, but rather that all aspects of human experience contain pieces of the puzzle. No one aspect of human experience has all the puzzle pieces, but by combining the pieces, a picture emerges which is closer to truth than any one piece. As in the Buddhist story of the blind men and the elephant, while each man accurately describes the part of the elephant he can feel, and argues that the other is wrong, they actually all have part of the truth and none has all the truth. Humility is appropriate.

Sources of Truth

Aspects of human experience that are valid sources include science, reason, human universals, and history/literature/mythology/religion which I will group under art. One important source for truth about human beings is commonly, and strangely, ignored. We all live 24/7 with one human being whom we know so intimately that we even have access to their private inner life. That human being is, of course, our self.

Symbiotism and Human Nature

The argument over whether the individual or the state is most important is an empty argument. An individual human being is intrinsically and inestimably important; there never has been and never will be another person just like that individual. While we have many things in common, each human is born with a unique blend of gifts and a potential that cannot be calculated. However, no individual lives in isolation any more than a single human cell lives without the body. Humans are very social, forming associations for mutual benefit, such as families, communities and states. The word “political” comes from the Greek “polis” meaning “of the city,” a reference to the human habit of forming communities.

Pieces of the Puzzle

While this beautiful and profound truth has been demonstrated mathematically by fractal geometry, and is visible all around us, we might ask: what is the point of this-in practical terms? Symbiotism suggests that the pattern you detect in any part resembles the whole, which is too big to see from the level of one organism. If a cell had eyes, it could still not detect the beautiful body of which it is part. It is as if we inhabit a pixel in a much bigger picture. The pixel is truly part of the picture, but it is not the whole picture. We cannot get back far enough for the whole picture to come into focus, and thus see it in its entirety. Therefore we will always know a part, yet it is part of something unimaginably vast and beautiful.

Practical Application of Symbiotism

“But what does this have to with me,” you may ask? To make sound decisions, we need sound information. Flawed information leads even the most brilliant minds to flawed conclusions, which depending on one’s level of influence, can lead to hideous consequences. For example, lets generously grant that the Bush administration had flawed information, as they claimed, about weapons of mass destruction and terrorist involvement in Iraq. On the basis of that flawed information they decided to bomb, invade, and occupy Iraq, killing thousands of civilians in the first few days of Shock and Awe, wasting trillions of dollars, and turning world opinion even further against the U.S.

Symbiotism in the Real World

It actually appears that the administration manufactured the flawed information to justify aggression for hidden purposes. But the American public not only believed the original flawed information at the time, so effective was the propaganda machine, that many still believe the flawed information to be true today! Bad information=bad conclusion=bad consequences. Symbiotism would have insisted on examining more sources of information: a history of the region, the worldview of the proponents, the extreme value of one Iraqi human life, and the danger of reacting from fear and revenge, two emotions science demonstrates shut down the cognitive process. Symbiotists would have vehemently opposed the war in Iraq, not because war is never justified, but because this war definitely was not.

Flawed and Fearful American Worldview

The prevailing Western, and particularly American, worldview is so narrow, self-centered, and fear-based.  It is assumed that the world is a savage and hostile place and individual humans are solitary predators struggling for scant resources according to the “survival of the fittest” (most ruthless) paradigm. Yet in the natural world, from which this worldview is supposedly derived, cooperative groups are vastly more common than solitary predators. Therefore cooperative societies are the “fittest” for survival, and human beings are designed to cooperate, not prey on one another. Since we have invented true weapons of mass destruction, indeed weapons of total extinction, who can doubt that survival depends on cooperation instead of predation? Using the example of a body, a cell that grows rampantly at the expense of surrounding cells is a cancer cell that will ultimately destroy itself and the body in which it lives.

We seem to assume that unless we continue to grow, acquire, and dominate; economically, militarily, and ideologically, we will all die. is that true? The drive to dominate is motivated by fear of extinction, a very powerful motivator. But is it a false worldview? Can we obtain dynamic sustainability instead of aggressive domination? The corporations must show increased profit every three months or fail. But is this in any way reasonable or sustainable? Of course not. We need a new way to measure success, a way that measures soundness, human thriving, and sustainability.


2 responses to “Symbiotism: 1). Sources of Knowing

  1. Hi,
    Just wanted to say thanks for dropping by my blog “The Micks Grill”. I’m enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work.

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