Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Life Is A Machine For Creating Freedom
- "Life is a machine for creating freedom."
- Who said that? You?
- In the course of conversation.
- How can machines, which are our image of lack of freedom, of determined outcome, produce freedom?
- In the use of language there are an infinite number of statements possible composed of a finite number of words. This is because we pile them on top of each other, hierarchically, a single word about all the rest being a new never before spoken statement. As the world acts on us, we respond by attempting to maintain our form and functioning.
- And that is Varela,* his definition of life.
- Yes. You see the machine: clear, logical, repetitive. But in how it operates in each moment there is as it were a new word spoken about all that has preceded.
- Because the world, being responded to, is perceived, is known, becomes part of us as living things.
- I understand this is some sort of metaphor. But doesn't the plant that is doing the talking, keeping up its daily functioning, need to remember for the new response to be new and free?
- Do plants remember?
- Why not?
- We know we remember because we make use of our memories to make changes in how we live. Plants don't do that.
- They do.** But even if they didn't, isn't the best part of your home life with the people, and also the animals and plants, you live with, just on this basis? Things happen, you adapt, with no change in basic way of life, in fact striving to avoid change as everything is loved as it is.
- We create a certain feeling out of the machine of life? Who is 'we' here? It can't be the life as machine used to create the feeling.
- Don't you know?
- But it's not life?
- And not a machine?
- What else is there? Alright, I know the answer to my question. Spirit. The soul. Soul operates - not the body - but life? The difference between the two views being that operating life means running a relation between body and the world, not just managing the body.
- And the spirit, the soul, is not life?
- What is it?
- I don't know.
- Asking this question using language, that machine, am I creating freedom?
- Yes. The soul in a way is what we see, what we add on top of our experience, when we make these kind of statements about life.
- We don't see the soul when we don't make these statements?
- No. Do you disagree?
- No. When I don't ask the question I'm aware of life, not anything else.
- But soul or spirit is there, whether you ask the question or not?
- There where?
- In your relation to the world.
- The world, responding to us, is talking about soul, its soul, even when we are silent. Maybe in the there, nowhere, where our soul is, the world's soul keeps ours going? Or maybe it remembers our soul so we can find it again when we want to return to speaking?
- We can't really say anything about that there, nowhere.
- Why not?
- There is no word for it. There is no world we see to respond to. Life we see. Life is a machine for creating freedom. We have freedom to see that there, nowhere, but not to talk about it. We can see a relation between the world and life, and call it soul, but we can't see a relation between soul and the world, between freedom and the world, a place where soul meets soul. That relation is not a machine. There is nothing fixed to be said, no word to be added to what is already there.
* See: Francisco Varela (with Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch), The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. 1991, MIT Press
** Plant Talk