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Understanding Fuzziness of Knowing

Vladimir Dimitrov

University of Western Sydney

Mind as Source of Fuzziness
Desires as Source of Fuzziness
Transcendence of Fuzziness
Resonance and The Noosphere



In his book "The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory", B. Greene, a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, writes: "Although we are technologically bound to the earth and its immediate neighbors in the solar system, through the power of thought and experiment we have probed the far reaches of both inner and outer space. During the last hundred years in particular, the collective effort of numerous physicists has revealed some of nature's best-kept secrets. And once revealed, these explanatory gems have opened vistas on a world we thought we knew, but whose splendor we had not even come close to imagining."

As far as the process of revealing "nature's best secrets" never stops, what "we think we knew" yesterday inevitably changes today, and new vistas "whose splendor we had not even come close to imagining" constantly open to those who are thirsty for knowing.

The fuzziness of knowing never ceases to exist. And this is a paramount characteristic of the human knowing, which challenges humanity and constantly propels its search for truth and understanding the secrets of reality.

While exploring fuzziness, fuzziology - a study of fuzziness of human knowing,  reveals also ways of transcending it and thus expanding the field of the human inquiry.

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Mind as Source of Fuzziness

The greatest source of fuzziness is our mind. This powerful rational thinker never ceases to divide the whole of reality into fragments in order to analyze, classify and label them, and then to toss or scrap together to piece out a world, which has very little to do with the unbreakable wholeness of reality - a wholeness to which we inseparably belong.

The world we piece together from fragments made out of perceptions - sensations and thoughts, serves to provide partial and therefore distorted models of reality. These models represent a world as-perceived, a human-made world, and not a world whose natural evolution has brought us to existence and with which we are linked through an umbilical chord of vital and impossible-to-separate connections. All our models deal with parts of something that we perceive as over-there, as surroundings considered to be used for what our ego-centred minds label as meaningful.

An army of scientists, engineers, economists, politicians and philosophers are involved in adapting many distorted models for predicting and exercising power over the unfolding dynamics of reality. Although we know that complex dynamics of reality are beyond our ability to predict and control, we 'do our best' to mutilate reality so that it could by pushed into Procrustean beds of senseless reductionist models. The applications of this kind of models have made both nature and social reality vulnerable; this is clearly demonstrated by today's ecological disasters and continual worsening of socio-economical conditions for the largest and ever-increasing part of society.

Mind can never move beyond duality - it either selects something while rejecting its opposite (as in black-and-white thinking when using binary logic) or accepts both the opposites up to some degree (as in fuzzy thinking when using fuzzy or probabilistic reasoning). The dualistic nature of rational reasoning component of mind is so strong that mind alone is unable to transcend it; the best it can do is to reconcile the opposites.

Following the black-and-white approach in thinking ('ether A or not-A'), we can be easily entrapped in routines, stereotypes, prejudices and habits that become a source of fuzziness which eventually makes us incapable for authentic experience - all our 'understanding' is constantly filtered through already establish mental patterns. Fanaticism is an extreme manifestation of this kind of dense fuzziness, when human ability to move beyond an established dogma is entirely blocked.

Following the fuzzy logic-based approach in thinking ('both A and not-A' up to some degree) , we agree with everything the others say and this can easily push us towards compliance and indecisiveness. When everybody is right, the uncritical acceptance of the fuzziness accompanying other people's thoughts makes it hard for us to generate our own creative ideas. It is the polarity of opposites - contradictions and clashes of opinions, that provides human mind with dynamics (forces and energies) necessary for transcending the opposites. These dynamics manifest in mind as an urge for searching beyond the plane where the opposites clash; without such an urge, the mind can be entrapped into stasis, stuck in repetition or mesmerised by illusory thoughts and dreams.

Fortunately, in the engineering applications of fuzzy logic a procedure called 'defuzzification' is used to keep the degree of decisiveness of a soft computing system at an effective operational level - the control mechanism of the fuzzy system is ready to generate non-fuzzy actions, that is, to jump into a simple binary resolution any time when this is required.

"Do not reject anything! But do not remain with anything either! Go beyond!" is written in the Vedic scriptures. In our context these words of wisdom say: "When searching for understanding, be ready to go beyond logical rules and restrictions, no matter how soft (fuzzy, probabilistic) or hard (binary, deterministic) they are!"

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Desires as Source of Fuzziness

Another powerful source of fuzziness is rooted in our ever-emerging desires of various kind - from simple physical desires which we share with other animals to much more complicated desires specific for human nature. Every desire agitates the mind and distracts the process of concentration indispensable for an act of understanding to be productive. The stronger an emergent desire, the higher the degree of agitation it stirs up, the less the degree of concentration of mind; the less the degree of concentration, the fuzzier the process of thinking, the lower the degree of understanding.

Most of the desires self-propel their intensity - the more we try to satisfy them, the higher become their demands; the way of moderation - the 'middle way' in terms of the Buddhist thinkers, is hard to follow when the fire of desires is burning inside us and making our minds restless, turbulent, obstinate.

The restlessness and turbulence of minds are permanently intensified by the stress in which we live due to the competitiveness inherent in today's society and the helplessness of majority of us to get out of the social boxes and cages (in which we have been pushed by economic forces too strong to be withstand), even if we desperately desire to.

Although the strength of passion with which we pursue truth and understanding is a powerful stimulator and 'energizer' of thinking, understanding needs 'peace of mind' - a mind which is calm and cool, composed and collected.

Paradoxically enough, while being sources of fuzziness, mind and desires are, at the same time, key factors for overcoming (transcending) it, especially if it relates to problems deeply rooted in human experience.

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Transcendence of Fuzziness

The fuzziness of understanding problems emerging out of complexity of life (as it unfolds) cannot be resolved at the same level of knowledge that we have when these problems appear. (One can see here an analogy with the Gödelian problems in mathematics and other fields of knowing - they cannot be resolved using the same assumptions under which they have appear.)

Only when our consciousness is expanded ('raised to a higher level'), then the tension fades and the problems, being seen in a new light, are no longer problems.

When problems dissolve, we say that the fuzziness related to them has been transcended.

The qualitative jump of consciousness to a higher level results in transcending the fuzziness. As far as consciousness is a holistic characteristic of human (and maybe not just of human) nature and not only a product of mind, its growth and transformation are possible when the factors responsible for the integrity of all three inseparable constituents of human individuality - body, mind and soul, become simultaneously activated. We shall refer to this simultaneous activation ('firing') as a consciousness resonance.

The fuzziness of understanding can be transcended when the consciousness resonance occurs.

The consciousness resonance is a resonance of all factors responsible for human integrity as manifested in the holistic nature of consciousness. What are these factors? First of all, factors which contributes in keeping human body healthy and human mind capable to think and decide, no matter what kind of logic it prefers - fuzzy, binary, inductive, deductive, abductive, etc. But these factors are not enough! The consciousness resonance cannot occur when neglecting the soul factors; we can name some of them: sensitivity and responsiveness, awareness and ability to stay awake, passionate desire to get out of the 'attractor' of egocentric thoughts and desires, compassion and love, willingness to explore more subtle and spiritual dimensions of reality and to share with others skill, knowledge and wisdom.

The consciousness resonance does not eliminate fuzziness; fuzziness is an eternal companion to any process of knowing. At the same time, when the consciousness resonance helps us to transcend the fuzziness related to a problem that dissolves, it opens space for new problems to emerge bringing with them new fuzziness to puzzle our thoughts and feelings. At any level of consciousness there are infinite number of phenomena and processes challenging the 'swarm' of our perceptions, of our beliefs and hopes, views and attitudes, aspirations and dreams.

The consciousness resonance is like a spontaneous coherence occurring with a swarm of 'agents' (insects, birds, ants, neurones, thoughts, feelings, people acting under critical conditions) - all the apparent fuzziness of the swarming behaviour suddenly disappears in a magic way: the 'agents' become able to act in sync and harmony, as if they are at-one - one multi-agent entity, one multi-facet unity, one inseparable whole - a flash of understanding whose light is able to penetrate through any layer of fuzziness.

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Resonance and The Noosphere

The term resonance has a clear meaning in physics - it is a process of initiating a vibratory response in a receiver that is attuned to an emitter. The emitter is considered as a source of vibrations - they can be periodic, aperiodic or chaotic. In the process of resonance these vibrations 'fire' sympathetic vibrations in the receiver, the magnitude of which is often greater than the magnitude of the vibrations generated by the emitter.

We know about the existence of mechanical, acoustical, electromagnetic, quantum and superstring resonance. The Adaptive Resonance Theory developed by Grossberg (Grossberg, Stephen, ed. (1988) "Neural Networks and Natural Intelligence", MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.) and widely applied for modelling human cognitive processes by artificial neural networks, uses resonance between two major neuron fields to explain how these networks can learn to recognize, classify and predict patterns and events of the environment both in supervised and unsupervised (without teacher) modes of learning.

Human life crucially depends on the process of resonance: the muscle of the heart demonstrates a kind of chaotic resonance, for "the individual cells of the cardiac muscle are each independent oscillators that pulse at their own rhythm when separated from the rest of the tissue in vitro. However when connected to other cells they synchronize with each other to define a single coupled oscillator" (Harmonic Resonance Theory: an Alternative to the "Neuron Doctrine", Steven Lehar: In the quoted paper Lehar sees the whole brain as a kind of resonator, "whose natural frequency of oscillation as a whole is observed in the global oscillations detected in the electro-encephalogram. This fundamental oscillation sweeping across the whole brain establishes a reference frame or coordinate system in the form of a spatial standing wave, and the higher harmonics on this standing wave represent the spatial percepts of objects perceived in the world, with the phase of those harmonics relative to the fundamental determining the location of the percept in the perceived world".

The resonance is widely used in descriptions of dynamic interactions at interpersonal level that are unusually effective, spontaneous and complete.

"We say that we 'resonate' with an idea or another person when we share an unusually rich set of perceptions that implies to us that we are 'on the same wavelength' - another form of the metaphoric link to physical models. It is a common experience that often is striking in the strength and complexity of shared understanding, and it is associated with successful interactions in pairs and groups of people, and with universally recognized shared experiences. Productivity and creativity are evidently enhanced, and cooperative responses to emergencies and catastrophes seem to be facilitated"
(Internet article on Conscious Resonance at

The world wide web and the Internet communication, by making possible instantaneous sharing of people's thoughts, skills and feelings serve as powerful catalyzers for the conscious resonance to occur.

Consciousness resonance closely relates to the idea of noosphere - a term coined in 1944 by the Russian academic Vladimir Vernadsky (1863-1945) to describe a new emerging "sphere of intelligence, wherein humanity could employ its evolutionary gifts as a creative collaborative agent of evolution - and where the widening conflict between technosphere and biosphere could be transformed into synergy" (see Allen, J., Nelson, M., Space Biopheres, Synergestic Press, London, 1986;

The same term noosphere was used in the book "The Future of Man" of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (published after his death in 1955). He suggested that the Earth in its evolutionary unfolding is growing a new organ of consciousness, called the noosphere. The noosphere is analogous on a planetary level to the evolution of the cerebral cortex in humans. The noosphere is a "planetary thinking network" -- an interlinked system of consciousness and information, a global net of self-awareness, instantaneous feedback, and planetary communication (see

The ideas of Vernadski and Teilhard de Chardin are applied in the Global Consciousness Project (GCP) - an Internet-based international collaborative project initiated in 1998 that uses technology and methods designed to record effects of events stimulating people to integrate as a world-wide consciousness (see; the consciousness resonance has a role to play in its transformation and growth.

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©V. Dimitrov, 2000

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