Make your own free website on Tripod.com


At this point I wish to propose a tentative table of mindprints:

1. Connectivity-Disconnectivity (Codis)

2. Open endedness-Closed endedness

3. Recursiveness (Nesting)-Singularity

4. Transformation-Invariance

5. Hierarchy-Randomness

6. Symmetry-Asymmetry

7. Negation-Affirmation (Double Negation)

8. Complementarity-Mutual Exclusiveness

9. Comparison-(No Comparison?) Imparison

10. Determinism-Indeterminism (Probability, Selection, Choice).

In order to reduce this tentative explanation of mindprints as far as possible to essentials, I shall content myself with pointing out a few of their characteristics, and dealing with only some of the mindprints. After that, I shall briefly explain how it is possible by their means to distinguish between painting and pseudo-painting.

1. The first obvious characteristic of the mindprints is that almost all of them are in a sense paradoxical concepts, or oxymorons. That is, they indicate a thing and its opposite at one and the same time. This fact makes them particularly difficult both to discover and to understand, since in the Western world we are all still enslaved by the logic of the Greeks, the fundamental law of which is the law of contradiction. It is for this reason hard for us to think in terms that are constructed upon an Eastern or Heraclitean worldview that sees the complementarity of opposites as the nature of things, and sometimes sees paradox as the earmark of non-trivial truth. It is therefore not by chance that in Western languages there are (so far as I know) no concepts such as the Chinese concept of Dao which explicitly indicates the complementary unity of opposing tendencies: Yin-Yang. Thus for example, the mindprint Connectivity- Disconnectivity is not intended to indicate two attributes but one, of which connectivity and disconnectivity are two aspects or poles. Simply put, it may be said that every connection is made against a background of a state of disconnectivity, and every separation is made against the background of some connectivity. In the absence of a suitable word, I have called this attribute Codis (‘co’: collective prefix; ‘dis’: separative prefix.). Most of those of our cognitive attributes that deal with connectivity and disconnectivity are derived from this mindprint, for example: grouping, differentiation, classification, generalization, abstraction, inclusion and exclusion, symbolization or coding-decoding, synthesis and analysis, etc. Likewise, all order, organization and regularity or lawfulness that we can comprehend are modes of connectivity-disconnectivity, and it is at the base of all our perceptions of unity and plurality, whether religious, artistic, philosophical or scientific. In order to bring out the uniqueness of Codis it is worth mentioning that Aristotle, Hume, Kant and others already stressed the unifying capacity of the mind. For Kant this is even the most important property of the understanding: "Combination does not, however, lie in the objects, and cannot be borrowed from them... On the contrary, it is an affair of the understanding alone, which itself is nothing but the faculty of combining a priori, and of bringing the manifold of given representations under the unity of apperception. The principle of apperception is the highest principle in the whole sphere of human knowledge." (Kant, 1787, pp.134-135.) But in this there is a concealed assumption, namely that there is no need for a special a priori capacity in order to understand or create the "manifold of given representations" as such, since plurality is "given". The concept of Codis evidences a different understanding of the mind, in that it does not only connect and create the awareness of unity, but is at the same time also that which separates and creates the awareness of plurality. That is to say, these two attributes of unity and non-unity or diversity, are two complements or poles of the same function of the mind or of the same mindprint. These two attributes are the two ends of the same Ouroboros - the tail-eating serpent. Indeed, Codis is perhaps the pattern that underlies every image or concept of Ouroboros. This mindprint is also the most important characteristic of every symbol system - pictorial, verbal or formal, because all symbols are different modes of Connectivity-Disconnectivity. That is, the fundamental function of all symbols of all kinds is the same: every symbol connects or groups certain entities into a certain class, but at the same time it also separates those entities from all other entities. Thus Connectivity-Disconnectivity is the foundation of all classifications. It goes without saying that Connectivity-Disconnectivity or Codis is one of the most basic mindprints of Being at all levels: material, biological, social and noetic.

2. It is not hard to see that some of the mindprints are more basic than others, in that some are primary and not derivable from others, whereas some are derivable from the integration of other mindprints. Thus, for example, Codis is undoubtedly one of the most basic of all, and cannot be derived from any combination of other mindprints. Nor is negation derived from any other mindprint, but its complement, affirmation, is generated by a recursion of negation itself. Furthermore, Open endedness-Closed endedness is not derived from other mindprints, but when it is combined with Codis and Recursiveness-Singularity and with Transformation-Invariance, attributes are generated such as creativity, metaphor, evolution, new orders, induction, extensivity, hypothetical thinking, etc., all of which involve one form or another of recycling and transformation of earlier connections, in a reorganization which is usually of a higher level. This being so, creativity is immanent to the world; evolution is the natural parallel of metaphor in human creation. This integration of mindprints generates the dynamic and evolutionary dimension of Being at all levels, for Transformation-Invariance and Open-endedness-Closed-endedness are the melody of intelligence, being and becoming, life and decay, connectivity and disconnectivity-material or other. In the dialectic of Open-endedness-Closed-endedness, the pole of Open-endedness is the stronger, in the way that in the dialectic of Connectivity-Disconnectivity the pole or tendency of Connectivity is stronger than that of Disconnectivity, and in the dialectic of Hierarchy-Randomness, the pole of Hierarchy is more dominant than that of Randomness. In other words, the negentropic pole of mindprints is always more dominant than the entropic, for otherwise this world would have come to an end long ago. (The fact that Hegel did not realize that mind is forever open-ended is in my opinion the main drawback of his conception of mind.)

Unlike mindprints such as Open-endedness-Closed-endedness, Codis, Complementarity and others, Hierarchy-Randomness is a mindprint created by the integration of other mindprints: recursion of the pole of Connectivity creates Hierarchy, whereas recursion of the pole of Disconnectivity creates a cumulative breaking of connections until at a certain stage a state of randomness or chaos is created, but only up to a certain limit of disorder, in which the tendency reverts to the other pole of the mindprint; and then new connectedness, hierarchy or order is spontaneously generated. Here there is latent perhaps one of the most extraordinary and complex properties of some mindprints which has a Daoist character. According to Daoism whenever Yin is overdeveloped to some extreme, then Yang will evolve and vice versa. Thus, in a sense, mindprints theory is expanded Daoism but in a structuralist key. And indeed extreme connectivity such as a black hole leads in the end to evaporation or dissolution. Malignant cancer, which is a form of extreme local connectivity within the organism, leads in the end to the disintegration both of the organism and of itself. Dictatorship frequently ends in anarchy, and anarchy frequently invites dictatorship, until it is learned that democracy is the most reasonable compromise. According to the big bang theory, the Universe began with the transformation into a state of radiation, of a singular point in which the entire mass of the Universe was concentrated - that is to say, a transformation from a state of total connectivity to total diffusion; at the same time levels of connectivity began to come into being which continuously developed into elementary particles, atoms and increasingly large combinations of them. Academism in art reached stagnation because it created excessively rigid connective principles for pictorial representation. According to the reasoning proposed here regarding these matters, this rigid connectivity had to lead to the splendid explosion of Impressionism, but in its wake no new and more flexible connecting principles were created, but rather the anarchy that reigns in the twentieth century, which in the end will lead to the need for the creation of a new kind of connectivity, more complex and abstract, in the art of the future.

Hierarchy and Randomness are, then, almost certainly two poles of a single phenomenon. Indeed, hierarchical structure (which always contains random aspects, except in formal systems) is the commonest ordering principle in nature at all levels. That is, Connectivity-Disconnectivity or Codis is probably the most basic mindprint, but Hierarchy-Randomness is certainly the most complex mindprint. Actually it includes most of the other mindprints: Connectivity-Disconnectivity (Codis), Open-endedness-Closed-endedness, Recursiveness (Nesting)-Singularity, Transformation-Invariance, Symmetry-Asymmetry, Complementarity-Mutual Exclusiveness, and it probably includes all of the other mindprints too. This to some extent explains a fairly common misunderstanding among great scholars such as Bateson, Koestler and other students of General System Theory who explicitly or implicitly tended to reduce mind to hierarchy or systemic structure. (However, this issue is of great complexity and will be elaborated far more thoroughly in another essay.) It can likewise be shown that Symmetry-Asymmetry is basically a product of other mindprints. Thus all symmetries and asymmetries are modes of Connectivity-Disconnectivity, but additional mindprints are also involved such as Transformation-Invariance, and Complementarity. In those cases where there is also recursion, as in figurative art or biological and other phenomena, there may also be a hierarchy of Symmetries-Asymmetries.

5. Another characteristic of mindprints is that regarding some, there may be an accumulation of the products of the operations of the mindprint, while with regard to others there is no such accumulation. Thus for example, it is clear that in Codis, Symmetry-Asymmetry and Hierarchy-Randomness, there can be an accumulation of the products of these mindprints; but there is not, and cannot be, accumulation in the cases of Negation, Comparison, Complementarity and others. That is to say, in this regard it appears that mindprints fall into two types of organizational principle. For those mindprints that have an accumulative effect there is in any case also an evolutionary dimension. It may be said a little simplistically, that the history of the world is to a great extent the evolution of Connectivity-Disconnectivity - beginning at the material level, through the biological and up to the social and noetic level. As the level of connectivity increases, so it connects more things, but by fewer means. Every word or equation has a greater potential of connectivity than that of the things it connects, even though it is constructed from only a minute number of signs. In other words, the more noetic connectivity increases, so is more manifest intelligence and less matter involved, and vice versa.

I have some doubt regarding the generalization that all mindprints are constituted from pairs of complementary attributes, especially since at least in the case of "comparison" I do not know whether it has no complement, or whether it has and I have not found it; or whether there is no necessity for every mindprint to have a complement. The mindprint of Comparison is the mechanism of comparison between entities with regard to identity and difference, which accompanies every perceptual or cognitive activity, whether conscious or unconscious, at least among human beings and animals (and it is not impossible that an analogous mechanism is also present at the level of matter), so that this is a basic mindprint and not some derived or marginal attribute. However, I do not find a completely satisfactory complement of it, unless we accept the negation of Comparison-No-comparison, or Imparison - as the complement of Comparison (I am indebted to D. Nagy and J. G. Harries for suggesting this term as a possible alternative to "no-comparison"). Moreover, there is a little nested paradox here: it is impossible to perform Imparison consciously because any such act necessarily involves Comparison, which is its opposite. Here I am still groping in the dark.

It is reasonable to assume that all of the mindprints act together, but that not all of them act to the same extent in every situation. I am inclined to think that all of the mindprints are particularizations of a single complex principle, but again, because of its totality it probably remains forever beyond our grasp and can be only partially understood. On the one hand, it is clear that in a certain sense there is a hierarchy among the mindprints, and I am therefore inclined to think that they are all subject to some meta-principle, as though the mindprints were a kind of fingerprints which are an organic part of the handprint. On the other hand, I have not found the handprint or hierarchic structure that comprises all of the mindprints. This being so, there is no necessary hierarchic significance to the order in which the mindprints are presented in the table above. It is likewise easy to see that some of the mindprints possess an internal hierarchy; thus, for example, it is clear that there are very many levels of Connectivity-Disconnectivity: material, biological, social, noetic and others, and in each of these types there are many levels of Connectivity-Disconnectivity. That is to say, the totality is an infinite system of nested hierarchies. I am sure that my understanding of mindprints is very partial, and I can only hope that in the future I may understand the idea a little better. Nevertheless, this concept has helped me to understand art (and many other things), much more than has all the literature on art and aesthetics that I have read over many years. I therefore hope that the reader too will profit from the attempt at understanding this concept by applying it to his/her field of interest, be what it may, even though at this stage it is far from being presented in a polished manner.

Having noted a number of their basic attributes, we shall see how mindprints appear in a particularly simple prehistoric picture such as, for instance, the contour drawing of an ibex, deer, ox or any other animal, to be found in every book dealing with prehistoric art. If painting and all branches of culture are indeed different embodiments of basic structures of mind, then the very appearance or non-appearance of these attributes in the products of art may serve as a criterion for the distinction between art and pseudo-art. Clearly the appearance of one or several mindprints does not suffice to distinguish between art and non-art. But if all of them appear, then it is definitely likely that we have before us a work of art. At the same time, the mere appearance of mindprints does not establish in any measure the quality of the work, but rather does it establish that it belongs or does not belong to the category of art objects. In like manner, if we say that lettuce is a food, we do not thereby commit ourselves to its degree of nutrient value, which is a completely different matter.



NEXT

VisMath HOME