Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

☞ A WordPress article, from which the following extract is taken, touches on an issue that was presented on my blogpost on Philip Zack’s “Narrative as scaffolding” (references and links are given below). It argues that not only is our perception of reality mediated through narrative, but goes a step further, by claiming that the mind itself is narrative. As I see it, the mind has a natural predisposition towards arranging any information it receives in terms of narrative, and our perception is thus influenced by this. The term “homo narrans” also appears in another blogpost on this site: Robert Bidinotto’ s “Are We “Homo Narrans”?”

“My first proclivity towards theories about the narrative mind came from writer Anne Forest in her book, God in The Machine. It was that book’s first chapter, ‘re-creating ourselves’ where I originally came across the term, “Homo Narrans,” which definably serves to classify our species as the evolutionary story-teller. I had originally purchased and read the book based on the assumption that it would describe “what robots teach us about humanity and god,” and instead came out with an entirely new outlook on humanity and its narrative mind. Prior to Anne Forest, I had read some Jung (Man and His Symbols), and Campbell (Hero With a Thousand Faces), but it was not until Anne Forest’s book, where the issue of robotics served more metaphorically for me then topically, that I began to pursue this new found discourse for spirituality: the narrative mind.

The narrative mind is defined solely by realizing that the mind as a constructed space is in actuality a man made narrative. In agreeing with Matthew Alper in his book, The ‘God’ Part of the Brain (one that I have renamed “The ‘Narrative’ Part of the Brain”), I would offer the same as him in saying there is a dichotomy between the brain, as an organ, and the mind as a perceived space. However, to say that the mind is a narrative is not necessarily to claim that it is illusionary or that its narrative is fiction, but rather the construction of the mind becomes described as a narrative within the realms of its allegorical function. For the mind really only is a metaphor to describe the dimensions of our “felt” metaphysical selves. To disregard the mind as fantasy, or to deny its truthfulness, is to disregard the fact that the “god/narrative” part of our brain not only exists as a proven neurological function, but also that it serves it purposes evolutionarily as well. For the purpose of remaining concise, I will forward Matthew Alper to describe what exactly this purpose is. For my more inclined viewership I would also forward you to Carl Jung.

To discover the narrative mind is to also accept that the ability of perception is also part of this narrative. The narrative I am referring to is of course the acceptance that any of our senses (not just the big 5) is not an immediate perception, but rather a process as dictated by our brains and realized within our minds.”

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☞ Narrative is not only confined to literature and mythology. It is a very important means through which we perceive reality. Indeed, arguably, reality itself is not only perceived through, but created with, narrative. Narrative is certainly important in politics, as we have seen earlier on this site, in the case of Obama, who understood the importance of narrative and storytelling better than his Presidential opponent, Mitt Romney. With a view towards explaining the importance of narrative in politics, Philip Zack argues, as seen in the series of quotations below, that it is something that we cannot escape from. The perception of raw sensory data is meaningless to us, unless it is mediated by narrative. In this light, narrative plays an active and domineering role in perception, and in the construction or reconstruction of perceptions in the realm of politics.

Change happens in any field because someone offers a different story of how and why things are or could be. We’ve achieved change by stepping into the world of a different narrative and making it real through our words and deeds.❞

Vase

Photo credit: Sunil Photos

✽ ❝Everything we know begins as raw sensory data, a pattern of light and color, perhaps. We make sense of that data by fitting it into a story — that the pattern depicts an object, in this case a vase. What happens next is important: we remember the vase, and discard the pattern.❞

✽ ❝There are all sorts of stories: static ones such as what that vase looks like from different directions, dynamic ones such as imagining pouring water from the vase, and complex ones such as having our medical bills paid for by insurance provided by the company that paid us to make a thousand of those vases. Some of these stories are our own creation, but most of them come from other people in the form of memes, or contagious ideas. The world as we know it is a dynamic ecosystem of interlocking stories, some of which are built on top of other stories. And like the animals and plants in biological ecosystems, some kinds of stories can only survive by dominating others, while other kinds of stories are able to coexist and even support one another.❞

✽ ❝Thinking of stories as living things — which is a meta-story you may not have encountered before — gives us a way to evaluate the relative merits of competing stories such as these. Set them down in front of you and see how they behave, how they interact with other storiesin the narrative ecosystem. Stories such as those with arcs about gaining dynastic power at the expense of others thrive by destroying competing stories that are not of benefit to them. Their objective is to be the last story standing, as it were. They do not make good neighbors. In contrast, stories such as those in which people benefit through collaboration are strengthened by building larger stories in which our personal stories have a stake.❞

✽ ❝Politics in the US has become a contest between competing stories describing what our nation is about, what the role of its government ought to be, and what is important in life. Thesestories, however, do not exist in a vacuum, because the narratives have been manipulated, and the raw data that we attempt to fit into these stories has been intentionally filtered and curated to appeal to our desire to associate it with a particular story so we can forget the data itself and go about our business.❞

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