v Experience, what use is it to me?
Steering energies; hormones and other given capacities
Differences in the contexts surrounding us
Controling myself, reflection 1
Surrendering myself, reflection 2
How to continue
| v The
axes of extending knowledge and of personal participation in the whole
The synthetic capacities of a system in operation
Balance, play and control when goals get entangled
Story: "Important Task, More Important Man?"
Changing contexts; alteration of roles when goals change
Story: "Contracted out"
Natural law and natural rights
|v Dynamics, tracing the limits of truth and freedom|
Experience, what use is it to me?
The material of experience that both groups of dynamic capacities have brought in can
give cause for the person for reflection and inquiry. That purpose is served by the third
group of dynamic capacities. Here again this is to do with two axes each with their poles
of physical and mental aspects which stand at odds with one another in their being
directed either at the outer world, or at one's own inner world. That leads to different
sorts of questions. On both axes the vision of the person as a single person stands over
against the questions about the other, or about the others, or about that which, or the
other who, steers the actions of the other or the group, about the framework in which
Steering energies; hormones and other given capacities
Both men and women can have more or less than the usual amount of testosterone in their
bodies. That hormone strengthens the properties generally considered masculine, such as
(hyper)activity or competitiveness, also in women. That seems to often take place at the
cost of the intuitive and empathic properties [ note ]. I do not consider this a physical
problem but more a self-control or developmental question. There are several arguments for
The actual environment exerts great influence on a human being but the personal
character is strongly determinative; he himself selects, interprets, saves and draws,
often in an elusive way, upon his experiences out of what the contexts offer and thus
decides on his own learning process. As vague as the spirit of the time seems to be, as
underhand as the ways of the 'profit society' and the demagogue, as out of a remote
background as the legislator sets protective bounds, as confining as the teacher who hides
behind the authority of handbook and canon, or as irresponsible as politics which
discriminates education and care tasks against economic spearheads, as concrete as one's
friends and the media's presence, in so many ways and incessantly exchange of energy takes
place. And so there are also parents and neighbours, sports instructors and librarians who
all want their penny's worth. Although we may be so good in controlling ourselves and
handling our environment, we do not have the circumstances in hand. Ultimately we are and
remain unbreakably connected with it and there is no other way than to accept those limits
and to learn to take the responsibility for ourselves within these limits, to become an
adult, autonomous fellow-citizen who does not run away from dependency and uncertainties.
After all, isn't it ultimately all about this in education and in someone's development?
First of all I need facts, as many facts as possible about and around the event. I picture to myself the situation that I would be, as parent or educator, responsible for a child that has met with some such thing. I would go and talk with the parents of her school friends and with her class teacher, soeur Paula, and if possible with others who had been present at the speech in question. Apart from the possible use of my questions for the people involved, it would for me be important to collect as much information as possible. After 62 years, I can no longer fill the lacuna in this case. I have to work with the given facts. The next step, in contrast, will always still be practicable afterwards.
I am going to look now at the thinking behind the behaviour of the people involved, at the leadership under which this took place, at the background of the nun. My intention is to understand what led to this behaviour, what powers were at play in the event. This is for the greater part common knowledge, information which lays firm historically, with the advantage that I can look at it from a distance. The facts surrounding the school for girls, the small convent and the parish are clear. Children from the members of a parish went to the schools of that parish. The schools were directed by nuns or brothers, who lived in small cloister communities. The communities used vows which all members had to take. The most important vows were: obedience, poverty and chastity. The community as a whole had entered into the obligation to offer education, in this case to the girls of this parish, roughly between 5 and 12 years of age. In this way she provided, presumably, for her sustenance. The community, in that way, had two groups of obligations: as a community of nuns and as a teaching institution.
Within convent communities the authority of the highest leadership could weigh very heavily. It could well happen that the leadership applied the rule of obedience to the hierarchy of the organisation and demanded absolute compliance. The question is whether this was a proper interpretation of that rule, of the notion of obedience in this context? I base my interpretation on Bento de Spinoza's abstract of the first purpose of a belief or theology: "obey the law which says 'Love your fellow-creature as yourself'" [ note ]. Then obedience is essentially an ideal at which you work together, as a community. I suspect that the superior of this small community had become strangulated morally between the necessity to support the continued existence of the teaching service and her interpretation of her vow or promise of obedience over against the interpretation of obedience which her superiors (implicitly or explicit) used. That she acted as she did from a situation of extreme powerlessness and after a year of misery in which she had to try to justify an injustice. Poor Mother Superior, confused by double morals, by corruption of morality.
This was the first piece of the synthesis of this event with its facts and backgrounds.
I have noticed that I always get confused when I cannot understand the background of an
experience and when I cannot free myself from from it. It looks as though - for me - there
is more needed to be able to deal with entangling experiences than the simple
understanding of an event with her factual backgrounds. An explanation does not suffice, I
look for the solution of a problem.
It must be a deep need of human beings to feel useful, to know that we are helpful and
that (there is someone for whom) we have value. A small child likes to help at the work of
his father or mother, it does not just like to copy them, it does not need to play only
for playing or for winning. The benefit of parental corrections is clear for a child in
such a context of cooperation. Seeing the use of a confusing event requires that one
acquires insight in, or starts a search for one's own usefulness. Looking at the
benefit for yourself of that event is part of that search. In contributing performances
with which we want to prove our value, for which we want to be praised and want to be
fêted, we, human beings, express that need to be helpful. Continually searching for
affirmation however is either a signal of incidental incertainty and lack of
self-confidence or a signal of immature, childish dependency, of the tendency to escape
responsibilities, of narcissism.
With this I am back to human dependency which explains our desire for a footing and the need to learn to play with values, which bring, in turn, experiences that challenge us to reflect and understand. Acquiring insight into our goal and into our place in the world is possible, although we must realize that it passes according to totally different lines than just the collection and the reconsideration of facts. We are dependent on our various contexts because we are part of them and incessantly in interaction with them - in various ways. That relation is real and unbreakable; she offers inner freedom via the way of consciously admitting our dependency or powerlesness, whereas we, if we cannot accept that consequence of our oneness with the community of people and with the whole of nature, cause ourselves a feeling of constraint. Confrontation with the limits of our power is useful in that it presents us with a realistic view of the freedom we do have.
As a parent I would certainly, preferably together with other parents who had been
shocked at the lack of respect that Mother Superior had shown towards a child entrusted to
her school and under her care, enter into a conversation with the school and with the
parish to express our concern and to point out their obligations as educator and as
pastor. And of course I would try to prepare my child, during the time dat she would still
live at home, for the occupation of her own place in a world in which things go as they
go. But in reality the fulfilment of such plans must wait till an ensuing process. This
zine is only about the synthetic steps in which is being thought and solutions are being
looked for; the implementation takes place in the hypothethic moves.
The axes of extending knowledge and of personal participation in the whole
The system indicates how we can look at both our experiences as our selves from
different viewpoints. We can, in our own manner, distance ourselves and take different
positions in order to get a wider view of what is going on around us, which backgrounds
with their specific values and interests could play a part for us and which for others.
That is de specialty of the two axes in which, this time too, the individual can let
himself be helped and be completed by the contexts as he conceives and experiences them.
|The environment supplies us with the supplements we need, in the form of help and
resistance. The context of the |3|-|9| axis contains information about values, interests
and frames of thought and other frames in the form of books, films, TV, internet, lessons,
methods, experiences, laws, fashion, media, faiths and the like, by which man himself
still has to carry out the interpretation of the values which are dealt with in these
frames, has to rethink and, if necessary, put them in perspective. All this can direct one
into by-ways or extremes, but in all cases it will contribute to one's own final purpose.
One could have been born to become a disciple of Immanuel Kant or your coach's, to become
your mother's or your neighbour's servant.
The personal relation with the world as a whole, the intimate experience of the world, of the private God (God, that is Nature as Spinoza said who perceived himself as being a part of One Extensive Body, just as the parts of his own body relate to his entire body), on the contrary, is both repairing and processing and proceeds via rest, sleep, prayer or meditation and dreams by which, apart from our experiences, also spiritual or intuitive knowledge can be used and become part of conscious self-knowledge. The physicist Fritjof Capra [ note ] defends the proposition that the human is not just an observer, but that he and his instruments really participate in his research and in other events. He couples this with the idea of the existence of a universal consciousness in which all parts and particles participate. In the most recent part of the structure line I have reached a comparable insight when describing the elementary relations: in phase 12 a process makes use of a memory that, of necessity, must be situated outside of the actual process. That is possible via the relation of coordination with such a universal memory.
The results of the intellectual digestion and the interpretation of collected facts about the values of the environment with the results of the intuitive analysis of the values of one's own existence, of the usefulness of our 'built-in capacities' and of our function for the whole, need to be joined by ourselves.
With the help of the dynamic apparatus we can express the self-knowledge of our own values consciously in self-governed activity and in behaviour that accounts for our goal. On that basis we can make a choice and follow our own way.
The synthetic parts of a process are:
The natural relations between synthetic phases, colourings and functions yield the
following image (see the figure on the right). The combination of the two axes crossing
each other in a right angle of counterparts is the result of the square angle aspects
between their poles.
The questions which I want to ask this time are: How strong is in this process the need
to reflect on experiences? In which areas does this play a role? How broad and/or how deep
does that go? Is there a relation with searching and challenging, with the balancing of
values? How important is security, that is, how fearful or rather reckless is this person?
I focus first on the dynamic 90 degree connections. There are, in this case, four synthetic/hypothetic and four hypothetic/antithetic relations. They show the given possibilities in the functions which they connect, with their areas of work and the methods which they apply there and, of course, in relations with other functions. Square aspects usually connect the inner world with the matters of the environment.
This last, the 3rd very extensive and strong group of the synthetic/hypothetic
relations is connected with the 1st group of Mercury and the Ascendent. The connection is
made by an outgoing triangle aspect between Mars and Venus.
Balance, play and control when goals get entangled
Indeed, the authentic purpose of a certain context can be blurred by a secondary or
supplementary goal and be corrupted. Another possibility is that a new owner alters the
context, and thus the purpose, without the people concerned knowing it. Mother Superior
got, as we saw, enveloped in a situation where interests were in conflict. Something was
demanded of her that was neither compatible with the responsibility of her function as
Mother Superior (facing the co-sisters) nor with the responsibility of her function as
educator (facing the parents and the pupils of the school). She found herself in fact in
two contexts with different goals and with, consequently, entangled interests in which she
had to defend two conflicting values. A disturbing situation. The nun ran up against the
dilemma that, whatever she chose to do it would always be wrong in respect to the other
context. And on this occasion I, the schoolgirl, was assigned the totally new role of
"Important Task, More Important Man?"
'At the time, in 1940, when Breda was in the way of that part of the German army that
wanted to cut off the French, on their way to the north to help the Dutch, the mayor gave
the order that all citizens should leave the city. When everything had been arranged for
the escape the mayor had his secretary call Antoon Vriens to order a taxi-cab to bring him
and his family to the south of France. The garage proprietor, a good friend of father's,
kindly refused and left the city. With his own family.
Changing of contexts; change of roles when goals change
Let me start with some impressions of the most simple contexts, of the most elementary sources of (learning)experiences, of a human being in its inconstant environment.
A. A baby in an environment without other people. He/she plays with what is available: with toes and other play-things.
B. A person in an environment together with another person. He/she plays (is in interaction) with the environment and with one person as a part of this context. The other person finds him/herself in a similar situation, except that now the first person is part of his/her context. The roles are different because the contexts differ. The two environments (or rather: contexts) have spatially a different content. They are two processes, each with its own purpose.
|The number of people present can be more than 2, as in the situation around Mother
Superior and myself. Within a common environment everything present has its own function,
role, use, effect, need, interest or value, therefore its own purpose for that context.
Everything present is a process with its own context.
A context is a kind of webbing that changes with the arrival or the departure of people. That results in a change of the context of each of the then present things or people, and their purpose or role therein is no longer the same. When the purposes of the contexts have been changed, then with that also the values, the rules of these processes have changed.
C. The number of possible contexts and roles or functions therein is enormous: a child is alone in a room with the cat and mother comes in, a child enters the room where one of his brothers is doing his homework, a child in a classroom with the teacher and class mates with a new pupil, a child that is assigned another place in the team when a new-comer has been given his place.
|Wherever and whenever more people come together there are rules, mostly unwritten and
implicit ones. When groups, that is communities, meet functions are constantly
redistributed, everyone's positive or negative use, importance or value is assessed each
time by each of the people present.
Every human being is dependent on the quality of his environment. People need to get acquainted with their environment, to know their function therein, and so forth in order to, usually together with others, share the care for their own security and for their family and neighbours, to improve their comfort, civilization and development, health, recreational and cultural facilities.
D. Groups of people have of old created communities by commissioning and entrusting the implementation of their concerns to specialists such as contractors, security officers, leaders and representatives.
|Communities of people, a city, a state, the inhabitants, clubs, churches and feasts are contexts. Each of those present partakes in the determination of the quality of the context and, by extension, of the spirit of the time as it is a larger process. In such a way individuals developed into civilians.|
E. Communities draw up general rules and laws which apply to all members of the
community, the rules reflect the conventions and values of that community. The authority
of the administration of the state is founded on a statute which represents the principles
of the community and on laws in as far as they are a concrete and widely supported
materialization of the principles.
|The legislator adapts rules and laws if there is an acceptable reason to do so.|
F. Laws need to be changed when they have lost public support; when they have
become implausible the judge no longer can enforce them. The sense of justice of the
civilian is the measure of law and justice.
|Some signs and causes of confusion:|
G 1. The context around the mayor (see above), the mixture of authority and
'A while ago I returned home with fully loaden cycle-bags. The bags were not filled
with purchases but still filled with the empty glass pots and bottles which I had intended
to bring to the bottle bank. The containers were no longer at the place where I used to
find them and so I called the city's department of waste disposal. At my question of where
I could bring my waste glass I was told that he did not know that: 'The collection of
waste glass is contracted out'. When I had received the name of the official at my request
I told him that in my opinion, with the contracting out of tasks, the responsibility of
the municipality has not ended and I repeated my question of where I would find the bottle
bank. After some internal consultation I got the information I needed.'
Other ways of entanglement of goals within contexts:
H 1. The goal of teachers (see above: Mother Superior) at all levels, of leaders
of clubs and associations, of workers in health care, et cetera. can nonverbally or
concealed get mingled with commercial interests, for instance of sponsors,
|What is really the first purpose of a community, of politics?|
I. The concern for all civilians to be able to maintain their being unique and to find their own way within the community of equivalent fellow citizens.
|A short history of guided dependency|
J 1. The first political goal can be pushed aside by the economic goal, in
extreme by plunder of sorts, like stealing land. This has led to very cheap labour and
even slavery. It does not lead to more consumption,
|Every civilised community takes an interest in critical, well-educated and involved
civilians and has no use for individualists who, like serfs, are only focussed at the
delusion of the day and, antisocially, claim their rights.
The authorities have
neglected their responsibility, they scarcely treat me as a citizen,
but as a consumer addressing me as client! The legislator should reflect on his charge and the
representative of the people on the interest of critical civilians. The citizens let
themselves be overwhelmed by populistic talk, miss the instrument of facultative
referendum, the possibility for the community to express themselves, to let themselves be
heard directly if necessary [ note ].
Cohesion is furthered by unambiguous truths, not by populistic games which, by creating
confusion and increasing insecurity, splinter a community [ note ].
Natural law and natural rights
Natural right is the right that exists by nature, without human intervention,
independent of time and place. This right ought to underlie all valid positive right and
is the unvarying substance of it. This starting-point has been interpreted - according to
my Larousse encyclopedia - in the course of (western) history rather differently. Since
Plato and Aristotle (with their 'human measurement') we have, via the appeal of the
churches at a (human-like) God, at reasonableness and the divine revelation, and via the
Enlightenment's appeal at the autonomy of human reason, finally arrived at Kant's
conclusion that it ought to be determined, detached from the moral basis, exclusively by
the authority of the state (led by reason). Since the barbarities committed by
totalitarian regimes during the Second World War it has become clear that the right no
longer can depend on state-authority. The fundamental (human)rights draw their meaning and
validity no longer from recognition or authority, they are in force also there where they
are not acknowledged.
I may well stand central within my uniqueness, as a human being facing others I am always in the first place fellow-creature, a fellow-citizen. That holds true for every context, whether I act as a governor, a soldier, a scholar, a football player, as dealer or as librarian, I am and remain within any context with others in the first place a fellow human and only then an official [ note ]. Before my dog I am in the first place a human animal, towards a teacup-thing I am a human thing. I always stand as a singular process before another singular process. From that basis it is clear to me now that everything is equivalent to anything else, that I have the right to be respected because I know that I rightly owe respect to my environment of different and varying things, animals and people.
Dynamics, tracing the limits of truth and freedom
It would have been very difficult if I, as a child, had been forced to choose between
what is 'good' and 'nice' for me. I am grateful that life has given me time to gather more
experience with power and dynamics that raised questions, to learn more about freedom and
restraints which are conditions for finding solutions. I am indebted to mother Superior
because, by having to act in this way, she helped me identify this common problem, and
understand that her situation was very troublesome.