Literature review 1- Week 1

1. Soma Significance and the Activity of Meaning

Reading through Bohm’s work, Soma Significance and the Activity of Meaning, presented a perspective that there is no distinction in the objective world between two reciprocal processes, human perception and cognition, the subtle and the manifest, the soma (physical) and its significance (mental). Such soma-significance, as well as signa-somatic processes, are at the core of the formation of our meanings (or, for that matter, any human being’s meaning) and hence our reality, which affects our actions in response to it. Our perception of something is always influenced by predetermined meaning derived from our experiences and memories of that thing, which finally leads to the formation of our intentions toward that thing, which leads to a specific action. Like soma-significant and signa-somatic, meaning and intention are inextricably linked, and intentions can lead to the formation of new meanings. This means that meaning can be extended indefinitely, but in order for this to happen, new meanings must be perceived freshly from moment to moment, which Bohm believes can be accomplished through ambiguity. Ambiguity is simply a lack of well-defined meaning that drives us to engage in a continuous cycle of inward and outward activity until a satisfactory result is achieved, allowing for an unending process of learning and discovering what has never been known before, resulting in the formation of new meanings. Because each perception of a new meaning by human beings modifies the whole reality in which we exist, each change in meaning is a change in being for us. And it is at this point of perception and realisation of the new meaning in our intention that a change occurs. Our actions toward the natural worlds, the communities with which we work as designers, and the ecosystem are a result of what it means to us and there is never a precise meaning, thus there is always some ambiguity, which fosters creativity.

2. An Ecology of Mind and Metalogues

Along with the Bohm, a documentary called An Ecology of Mind and a chapter called How Much Do You Know? From Gregory Bateson’s book Metalogues expands on the topic of systems thinking. Bateson emphasizes on the concept of ongoing learning and relearning through looking at things from multiple perspectives and not becoming caught in a single line of thought. He accepts the challenge of taking a step back to see our reality in a new light, one in which all living things are interconnected. Gregory delves into epistemology to describe the arbitrariness of the kinds of separations that are generated when we define things, which limits our ability to see our interrelationships with other things and beings. But the question remains as to how our brains generate the knowledge that defines our relationships with other things and beings. Gregory and his colleague’s terms it as cybernetics. Cybernetics is a science that was developed to describe processes in complex systems and to understand how the many pieces of a system connect with one another. We are always in relation to something; in fact, knowledge about something is also a web of relationships. We live in a world that is a swirling system within systems that are constantly interacting, and these constant interactions are constantly changing, whether we see it or not. When we observe our process of thinking, we see ongoing change, and we must welcome and adapt to that change. We must continually alter our perceptions of things in order to alter our connections with them, and hence our reality. As a result, ecology of mind to what I have understood is a tangled ecology of these interconnected complicated processes that take place in a human mind, the changes that occur both internally and externally, and hence the ongoing formation and reforming of new meanings and interactions between individuals and their surroundings.  

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