Back to Vlad's Homepage

Fuzziology and Lifelong Learning
 
 

Vlad Dimitrov and Steve Wilson

School of Social Ecology and Lifelong Learning

University of Western Sydney, Richmond 2753

E-mail addresses: v.dimitrov@uws.edu.au; s.wilson@uws.edu.au





What is Fuzziness?
The Engine of Fuzziness
Need for Fuzziness
Leartning to Solve Problems
Life is not a Problem to be Solved
Holistic Experienve versus Partial Reasoning
Metabolism of 'Borrowed Knowledge'
Learning in Captivity of The System
Learning that Never Ends
    Know Thyself
    Inseparability of Existential Dynamics
    Timelessness
    Awareness Rotted in Human Experience
References
 

Lifelong learning reflects our lifelong urge to know about our personal and social worlds [1]; fuzziology [2, 3, 4] focuses on fuzziness (uncertainty, imprecision) inherent in what we consider as known. The famous paradox of knowing, formulated by Socrates nearly 2500 years ago bridges lifelong learning with fuzziology:

The less we know, the more certain are our explanations; the more we know, the more aware we are about the limitations of being certain.

Because we are aware of the limitations of what we consider as certain, we avoid categorical and precise statements and use explanations that are less certain. The acknowledgment of the fuzziness that is present in our knowledge is a stimulus for a lifelong seeking of truth and wisdom; and it is the search for truth and wisdom that makes human life meaningful.

Back to the top of the page

What is Fuzziness?

Everything that we do not know for sure, we usually think, speak or write in a fuzzy way, that is, by using words and expressions, which convey uncertainty, ambiguity and doubt. The truth contained in a fuzzy statement can neither be proved nor disproved, as fuzziness contains both 'truth' and 'non-truth' at the same time.

Fuzziness is a holistic characteristic - it does not relate to our thinking only - it permeates our feelings and emotions, dreams and aspirations, spiritual beliefs and endeavors. The fuzziness of our feelings does not need words - it 'voices' through innumerable facial expressions, movements of eyes and body, nerve signals and gestures, body position and muscle tone, voice timbre and volume.

Fuzziness is expressed in our actions - when we act without being sure about what we really do and aim for, or act with information about the goal we seek but are ignorant of how to approach it. This is usually the case when we act a complex or sensitive-to-change situations. Our life is full of such kind of situations.

Fuzziness is our companion in the processes of learning, generating hypotheses and proving theorems. In 1932 Gödel proved that in any axiomatic mathematical system (theory), there are fuzzy propositions, that is, propositions which cannot be proved or disproved within the axioms of this system.
 

Back to the top of the page
 

The Engine of Fuzziness

Fuzziness is not something that exists 'over there', as a quality of an external object; it is in our understanding of complexity in which we live and constantly create and re-create through our experience, through our thoughts, words and actions. It is in the ways complexity reflects our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual experience and thus constantly creates and re-creates us. So the source of fuzziness is in the self-referential nature of our beings: we are simultaneously creators and products of the existential complexity.

Fuzziness in our understanding of complexity of nature and society is a reflection of the fuzziness of our knowing about ourselves. According to Heisenberg - one of the greatest physicists of our time, "The same regulating forces, that have created nature in all its forms, are responsible for the structure of our psyche and also for our capacity to think" [5]. Every time when we learn how to deal with some conundrum of our 'inward' individual life, we simultaneously reveal a secret of complexity in which we live, a secret of our 'outward' social life.

Generations after generations of humans have lived, live and will continue to live together with a constantly reproducible fuzziness 'energized' by what we do not know about ourselves, about our lives, about nature and existence. And the deeper the processes of our learning and knowing go into the enigmas we live with, the broader the spectrum of manifested fuzziness. The famous message of Socrates: " the only thing we know for sure, is how little we know" relates to the never-ending renewal of the fuzziness in human knowledge.

The ignorance about the unknown and the uncertainty about the known, which ever moves, reshapes and changes, keep the engine of fuzziness going. Powerful accelerators of this engine are the self-propelling dynamics, spontaneity and the stunning variety of the life unfolding with its unpredictable rhythm of never-ending 'stretching', 'shrinking' and 'transforming'.
 

Back to the top of the page

Need for Fuzziness

Our growth in intelligence and wisdom is hardly compatible with the establishment of rigid mental and emotional patterns. Every fixed idea, prejudice, stereotype and standard in thinking, every pre-imposed emotional or spiritual restriction, every blindly followed behavioral pattern, attachment and addiction decrease our ability to fully experience the journey of life and acts as an obstacle on the way of realization of our creativity.

When consciously 'fuzzifying' the rigideness of our thoughts and beliefs, we empower our capacity to see the flow of the events of life and to learn directly from it. The development of our ability for a direct learning from the lessons of life - from the circumstances and eventualities of own experience - helps us see the limitations which fuzziness puts on our knowing and continually explore ways of transcending them.

The fuzziness inherent in human knowing is what fuzziology explores, not in order to reduce or eliminate it (this is an impossible task!), but to understand and go beyond its limitations.

The words of the ancient wisdom are always fuzzy; therefore they reach the hearts of many different people and make sense for them at different situations in different time of human history. Fuzziology is that hidden interpreter of the words of wisdom - the interpreter who make them understandable to the heart and soul, to the mind and spirit of an individual.

Very different from the approach of fuzziology are the approaches embraced by the education system of today's society.
 

Back to the top of the page

Learning to Solve Problems

In today's society, the process of learning is predominantly towards acquisition of various kinds of expert knowledge - a knowledge which can be used for solving specific problems. This kind of learning is centred in our minds (conceptual knowledge) and bodies (practical skill), and crucially depends on the development of our ability to think in a rational way, to analyze and synthesize, to extract and study cause-and-effect relationships, to generate hypotheses and test them experimentally, to draw out logical conclusions and master skills for performing certain actions.

The major goal of problem-oriented learning is to reduce or eliminate fuzziness imbedded in the process of knowing. In artificially designed systems, subjected to precise description and control, this goal can be achieved. When dealing with life and nature, this goal can never be achieved; the deeper we go in exploring ourselves, society and universe, the larger becomes the field of our inquiry, as we constantly come across phenomena and processes which we were initially unable to see. It is like zooming into infinite numbers of scales (fractal levels) nested into one another; every scale reveals more subtleties to be noticed for than the previous.
 

Back to the top of the page

Life is not a Problem to be Solved

"Life is not a problem to be solved but reality to be experienced" - these words belong to the Danish philosopher S. Kirkegaard (1813-1856). Infinite is the number of levels through which reality manifests - from the macro level of the whole universe to the micro level of a single quark. And all the levels project on human experience - not only because everything relates to everything else in the impossible-to-separate web of existential dynamics, but also because it is through our experience that we can grasp the meaning of the manifestations of these dynamics and ride on their inexhaustible power. We are endowed with a limitless potential to sense - recognize and understand - the meaning of the events of our experience. In every creative act of realization of this potential, a level of reality opens some of its secrets to us.

Unfortunately, our systems of education do not teach us how to listen to and understand the 'voice' of our experience. Often, this voice appears too subtle, too soft and too fuzzy in comparison with the loud, sharp and determinate voice of our minds when hurrying to explain 'precisely' how the surrounding world works and how to utilize this 'precise' knowledge for the purpose of control and exercising power over nature and people, systems and machines.
 

Back to the top of the page

Holistic Experience versus Partial Reasoning

Human experience emerges out of the complex interplay of the four vital constituents of our nature - body, mind, soul and spirit, while in constant dynamic interactions with the environment.

However powerful the body-mind tandem seems to be as a coordinator of our sense perceptions, it can only see a part of the holistic picture of reality; therefore the mind-body - centred models of reality - models which profoundly underpin today's systems of education, are partial.

It does not matter how precisely we can describe and formulate a partial model, the precision can never make it holistic. The effects that one's soul and spirit have on one's life and experience remain excluded from the picture of reality provided by a mind-centred model. Often this picture appears as a distorted image of reality.

Partial models are suitable for describing artificial (human-made) systems; these systems can be precisely described, dissemble into subsystems and parts, and then assemble again. Partial models do not make much sense when used to describe holistic phenomena and processes like those in nature, life and society. When applied to a description of such phenomena, a partial model (be it deterministic or probabilistic, precise or fuzzy) leads to delusion, to false views on reality - views which can be used for manipulative purposes by those with greatest influential power in society.

The 's'-components of human nature - soul and spirit - cannot be eliminated; they emit mystery and wisdom, and therefore fuzziness, into our experience, into the process of our knowing about ourselves and about the world with which we continuously interact, co-adapt and co-evolve.
 

Back to the top of the page

Metabolism of 'Borrowed' Knowledge

Our educational institutions teach learners how to metabolize so-called 'borrowed' knowledge, that is, a knowledge borrowed from outside the learners' experience and prepared by socially recognized 'gurus' and 'experts'. After pouring the borrowed knowledge into their brains, learners are asked to use it for purposes located again outside them, for example, for producing nuclear bombs and rockets, intelligent robots and self-organizing machines (who think and work obediently, unlike humans who are able to engage in unpredictable behaviour), genetic mutants (with totally distorted natural ability for the realization of their inherent potential), cosmic stations (mainly for military purposes, espionage and global surveillance), and so on. Research institutions from all over the world fervently try to increase this kind of 'applied' knowledge; the most significant part of which is directed to serve their sponsors - powerful financial and industrial corporations - and to help them multiply their profits and satisfy their growing appetite for global power.

The artificial world of human-made systems, designed for control and an insatiable use of natural and human resources, does not like fuzziness and conflicts with it wherever it occurs. The design, implementation, development and continuous innovation of human-made systems require expert-type of knowledge, so educational systems are forced to teach learners how to accumulate and apply such knowledge.

The more we immerse ourselves in the artificial world and its requirements for certainty and precision, the narrower becomes the niche of researching ourselves, the less able we are to hear and understand the holistic 'voice' of our own nature, to interpret the fuzzy messages of our conscious and subconscious experience, the fuzzy whisper of our soul and spirit.
 

Back to the top of the page

Learning in Captivity of The System

We all are pressed to learn how to fit and serve the expanding economic System of Global Corporate Control - a system based on unequal distribution of economic power and therefore ruled by those who have such power in abundance - unbelievably rich financial institutions, corporations and individuals. Education is a captive of this System and is pressed to obey it in order to survive; therefore, since our young years, we are taught how to contribute to making the System stronger. We are rarely taught how to live and grow in mind and spirit; those who control the System do not care about this at all. Moreover, they oppose such a growth as it is much easier for them to manipulate a herd of narrow-minded 'experts' and precise 'specialists' than enlightened human beings with broad understandings of social reality; the latter can be a serious threat for the System's custodians.

We have been taught how to keep propelling the engine of the System and thus to increase the richness of those who count in it. If we resist doing this, the System can easily smash us. A huge army of police, military forces and security equipped with high tech means of surveillance constantly allows the System to run so that its elite can act without troubles. (In the Western type of democracies, if we want to protest, we must inform the authorities about our intention to do this, to have their permission and then to 'protest' according to special instructions, so that the System is not disturbed).

When lifelong learning remains under support and influence of the System of Global Corporate Control, it can become a lifelong brainwash which, instead of emphasising personal growth, teaches learners how to better fit into the System's requirements, to follow its rules, and to remain constantly in captivity of dreams for consumption-centred happiness. This kind of 'happiness' is intensively preached by politicians, economic 'thinkers' and the mass media paid by the System.

By keeping individuals' consumption-oriented desires at the highest possible level, the System distracts their ability to understand and unmask its manipulations at the lowest possible level, and thus makes it easier for the mega corporations to expand their control.
 

Back to the top of the page

Learning that Never Ends

Know Thyself!

The best way to be involved in lifelong learning every single day of our conscious life is to understand the roles of creativity and spirituality in our personal growth, and through a realization of our potential to learn from the events of our experience. This potential is infinite!

"Know thyself" - this is the apotheosis of Socrates' legacy in learning. For Socrates, the way to know ourselves is also a way to know the others, and a way to know about everything else that happens in nature and society. The way to know ourselves is through learning from our own experience.

What does it mean to learn from experience? Is it only to make meaning of the flow of everyday events? Making meaning is associated mostly with our mental activity. We already discussed that the mind-centred learning is partial and therefore widely open for manipulations, delusion and control.. So, mind-centred learning is not a holistic process. Neither is spiritual learning disconnected from our ability for reasoning. Forms of learning concerned only with acquisition of knowledge about our physical health, or about our feelings and emotions, our subconscious drives and impulses are also not complete.

In J. Campbell's book "The Power of Myth" one reads: "People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that is what we are really seeking. I think what we are seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive."

Unfortunately, "the rapture of being alive" disappears every time when death decides to loudly send a painful signal of its coming closer. Neither the body nor the mind can happily live with such signals. The beliefs in some future resurrection or reincarnation or immortality is of help only if the whole body-mind-soul-spirit complex of an alive individual has a kind of an experience-rooted awareness about a possibility to avoid its full disintegration, despite the inevitable disintegration of its physical nature. Otherwise, without such awareness, a bare belief in immortality is similar to a self-imposed delusion. If one can only know how to evoke awareness of being in existence forever, then "the rapture of being alive" and the inspiration to earn and know will never end.

The exploration of the origins of fuzziness stimulates the emergence of such awareness.
 

Back to the top of the page

Inseparability of Existential Dynamics

One of the three principles of fuzziology - the principle of connectivity-in-dynamics [1], which explains why the fuzziness is inherent in human knowing, says: "No thing and no being can exist in itself or for itself but only in dynamic relationship with other things and beings". This is also a fundamental premise of complexity, and relates to the integrity of all existential dynamics - energies, forces, forms and substances, whose creative, sustaining or destructive powers are constantly demonstrated at different scales of the universe. It is through these dynamics that everything that exists, moves, changes and transforms, from an elementary particle to a gigantic ensemble of galaxies, becomes connected in a gigantic vortex-like spinning web of mutually dependent, intricately interwoven and co-evolving relationships.

Einstein was among the greatest supporters of the idea of unity. To him belongs the following quotation: "A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty" [6].

Any individual, indeed, any phenomenon of existence has the totality of existence at its own base and reflects this totality. As far as existence has ever been, one can infer that every phenomenon and especially every individual has an infinite past based on an infinity of relationships, which cannot exclude anything that existed, exists, or is liable to come into existence in future.

This stream of thoughts, which is at the base both of fuzziology and complexity science, has a strong spiritual connotation.
 

Back to the top of the page

Timelessness

What is timeless - permanent, non-temporal, eternal - in the gigantic galactic whirlpool, which holds together all the swirling dynamics of existence (in similar way as a tornado holds together all the swirling dynamics of constantly interacting streams of air), can be located only in the hollowness - the cavity, the emptiness - along the central axis of the whirlpool. Only the emptiness, that is, only what is free of any materialized dynamics can be timeless and immortal: beyond birth and death, beyond growth and decay. But it is a particular kind of emptiness - an emptiness that is impregnated with an immense creative potential (in the same way as the emptiness of the black holes studied in physics is impregnated with a monstrous sucking power). Being both voidness and plenitude, the hollowness in the centre of the existential whirlpool may be used as a mental image of the ESSENCE of the existence.

The essence supports not only the integrity of the existence, it endows the whirling complexity of existence with an ability to self-organize - expand, sustain and fold together with the material forms, in which these dynamics are embodied. All embodied-in-matter motions, dynamics and interactions, all animated forms of existence gravitate to the voidness of the essence in order to release their energy contents and die, and to its plenitude in order to be filled with energy and live.
 

Back to the top of the page

Awareness Rooted in Human Experience

In a state of deep relaxation, when not only our physical bodies are free of tension but also the minds are free of thoughts, and the emotions cease to emerge, we can experience the emptiness. After such an experience, we feel like being born anew, charged by a kind of energy that is similar to the energy of inspiration. Because of this re-vitalizing effect, the relaxation positively influences not only the body, but also the mind and soul. Why not to go a bit further and imagine one's physical death as a unique kind of relaxation that is necessary for charging anew the creative potential of those components of the body-mind-soul-spirit complex (at the Essence of one's inner nature), which do not disintegrate when the body and the brain die?

In a state of meditation, the yogis identify their inner nature with the essence of existence and its unlimited spiritual power. Here is a text used to keep the consciousness of the yoga practitioners focused at the essence of their inner nature.

"I am not only this body, not only these senses, not only this mind and not even this intellect only. No, I am none of these things in isolation! Each of them is ever changing and impermanent. Each of them has a beginning and an end. I am not bound by beginning and end. I have my roots in the Essence of Existence, which has no birth, no growth, no decay, no disease, no death. Therefore, the sword cannot cut me asunder! The spear cannot pierce me through! The wind cannot dry me! The water cannot wet me! The fire cannot burn me! The sun cannot scorch me! I am unborn, immortal, immovable, unchangeable, all pervading and infinite. I am the Totality of the Essence, which is ever by itself, one without a second!"

By exploring the sources, nature and dynamics of fuzziness that accompanies our attempts to grasp the mysterious essence of existence and its infinite unfolding through the events of life, fuzziology reveals powerful fountains of inspiration. It is entirely in our hands to use the limitless energy of these fountains while continually learning how to live in full realization of our creative potential, and thus to contribute in the growth of the human consciousness.
 

Back to the top of the page

References

1. Delors, J. 1996. The Treasure Within. UNESCO, Paris.

2. Dimitrov, V. (2001) Introduction to Fuzziology, in Fuzzy Logic: A Paradigm for the New Millennium, Eds. V. Dimitrov and V. Korotkich, Heidelberg-New York (http://www.uws.edu.au/vip/dimitrov/study-of-fuzziness.htm)

3. Dimitrov, V. et al (2001) Fuzziology and Social Complexity, in Advances in Fuzzy Systems and Evolutionary Computation, Ed. N. Mastorakis, World Scientific Engineering Society Press: New York, Athens, pp. 88-93

4. Dimitrov, V. and Stewart, B. (2001) Social Fuzziology in Action: Acquisition and Making Sense of Social Information, in Soft computing in measurement and information acquisition, Eds. L. Reznik and V. Kreinovich, Physica-Verlag, Heidelberg-New York

5. Heisenberg, W. 1999 Physics and Philosophy, Reprint edition, Prometheus Books, New York

6. Einstein, A. 1993 The World as I See It, Reissue edition, Citadel Pr.
 

Back to the top of the page
 
 

To Vlad's Home page