Mantra: The Stoics were Right Hemisphere Thinkers

This is just a fragment posted to Stoics mailing list:
Mantra
A mantra usually refers to a verbal repetitive chant.  This is particularly therapeutic for the left hemisphere of the brain. The left hemisphere is the side that characterises modern Western thinking and the sciences. This is where you find the angst.  It specialises in abstract, symbolic, analytical thinking. The angst comes from the alienation of the abstract to anything substantial.  The right hemisphere specialises in the creative, dominated by context,  concerning itself with the whole.

Apparently, at any particular time, one hemisphere will be dominant. Empirical studies have shown that, in humans, the hemispheres switch from being dominant every ninety minutes.  Repetitive reciting of a mantra is a good way to switch over to the right side. The left hemisphere is comforted by the mantra, gets bored, and falls asleep, leaving the right side, in a mild meditative state to contemplate the whole.
In Hellenistic times there was a dichotomy is philosophical outlook: The Epicureans on one side faced off against the Stoics on the other. The Epicureans were left side thinkers and precursors to the analytical, atomistic, amoral, dualism that characterises Western thought today. The Stoics were right brained thinkers, monist, rationalist moralist and holistic. They also sketched out the framework for a unique, unifying science. Over two thousand years later, it is up to us to complete their long neglected project.
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Mantra: The Stoics were Right Hemisphere Thinkers

This is just a fragment posted to Stoics mailing list:
Mantra
A mantra usually refers to a verbal repetitive chant.  This is particularly therapeutic for the left hemisphere of the brain. The left hemisphere is the side that characterises modern Western thinking and the sciences. This is where you find the angst.  It specialises in abstract, symbolic, analytical thinking. The angst comes from the alienation of the abstract to anything substantial.  The right hemisphere specialises in the creative, dominated by context,  concerning itself with the whole.

Apparently, at any particular time, one hemisphere will be dominant. Empirical studies have shown that, in humans, the hemispheres switch from being dominant every ninety minutes.  Repetitive reciting of a mantra is a good way to switch over to the right side. The left hemisphere is comforted by the mantra, gets bored, and falls asleep, leaving the right side, in a mild meditative state to contemplate the whole.
In Hellenistic times there was a dichotomy is philosophical outlook: The Epicureans on one side faced off against the Stoics on the other. The Epicureans were left side thinkers and precursors to the analytical, atomistic, amoral, dualism that characterises Western thought today. The Stoics were right brained thinkers, monist, rationalist moralist and holistic. They also sketched out the framework for a unique, unifying science. Over two thousand years later, it is up to us to complete their long neglected project.

Semiotic Square and the Shape of Mind

The farmyard hen’s left-brain is connected to its right eye, the right brain to the left. There is no partial sharing of retina connections across the hemispheres as in humans. When foraging for that allusive grain of wheat, the hen will use its left brained right eye to focus in and seek it out. For awareness of its environment, it relies on its right brained left eye. The hen will check out possible threats, menaces and escape routes with the right brained eye, even if this requires cocking the head right around to the other side. The opposite applies for finding the noodle in the haystack, in which case it will use its left brained right eye. The farmyard hen carries around two worldviews, one in each side of its cranium, two worlds and one hen reality. The two worldviews are interchangeable by just a cock of the head. Is this farmyard chook more epistemologically aware than present day science?
For the author, the subject matter towards the end of this section provokes a personal feeling of profound wonder. However, if we are not careful, this wonder can be lost in the technical detail. This can particularly be the case if the reader focuses in with left side analytic reasoning where so often, the finger points to the stars and the narrowed mind merely stares incredulously at the finger. The subject matter can only be fully understood from a right side perspective, the awareness side of consciousness. Without awareness, there can be no wonder and no deep comprehension, the sharpness of focus can be a distraction.

To bring this subject onto centre stage, as a full-blown science requires a certain kind of mathematics, this will be covered elsewhere. In the meantime, we can make do with some elementary apparatus accessible to any mind curious enough to go along with the flow. The kind of reasoning is not traditional reductionist, analytic reasoning of the ordinary sciences. Such reasoning is an “open loop” form of thinking that necessarily involves labels and meaningless symbols. Allocating arbitrary names and symbols to things is a shaky start in the search for the deeper truths.

We have been referring to this kind of thinking as left side. What interests us is right side thinking. Right side reasoning is closed loop thinking where concepts are expressed in the form of oppositions and oppositions between oppositions. Some call this dialectical reasoning but no one has yet succeeded in formalising such reasoning. This is one of our objectives. The basic ideal of such reasoning is that everything is determined and understood in reference to something else, something that it clearly and absolutely is not. The opposition, the dichotomy, express such references. The semantics of object is lost without a present subject and so this leads to the fundamental opposition between subject and object, each giving meaning to each other.

We paint the picture with broad brushstrokes. However, even before the brushstrokes there comes the canvas. The canvas has four corners and is sufficient for an artist to paint a whole picture. So far, we have looked at a number of wholes and found that, as a whole, they can be painted on a four-cornered canvas. In previous sections, we saw that the “rich dad” Kiyosaki painted his cashflow quadrant on his four-cornered canvas. We saw that Freud accomplishes the same thing for the architecture of the psyche. We discussed the functioning of Freud’s mechanism by talking about another semiotic canvas, parliamentary democracy; to demonstrate that by talking about one thing you can be really talking about another, a favourite pastime of artistic expression. As an attempt at some dangerous semiological acrobatics, we talked obliquely about the personal psyche in terms of the political psyche with a dose of Buddhist philosophical semiotics thrown in. It appears that we have stumbled on the universal language of the artist, a language that can talk across the board. Rather than just describe the scene, we can describe the canvas, the common ground for any painting. It also provides the elements for a common universal language that can operate across the board.

The canvas can be understood in the form of a semiotic square that encapsulates the two kinds of subject with the two corresponding worlds of objects. This semiotic structure is based on the opposition of two oppositions. The first opposition, termed the left right opposition, was seen as that between the impersonal subject on the right and the impersonalised objects on the left. Empirical scientists dreams of this dichotomy where a pure, dispassionate, non-entangled subject surveys a non-disturbed world of object-ve objects. Such a subject has the highly sought after “view from nowhere”, the God’s eye view, the holy grail of empirical science, the unachievable dream. This was the first understanding of what constitutes a whole, an amorphous mass of objects together with the necessary but totally undetermined impersonal subject.

In order not to be stranded in the domain of the unachievable dream, a second kind of subject must enter the scene, the real world, determined subject, the personal subject. This leads to a second opposition that we referred to as the second dichotomous cut across the canvas, the front back opposition. In the frontal lobes resides the epistemological domain of the personal subject. The rear is the epistemological domain of the other side of the whole, all that is not personal subject. This is the personalised object domain. The result is a canvas cut up into four regions. These regions are not spatial divisions. One could say that they represent epistemological regions describing the four aspects of a whole, any whole. This is ground zero. We have considered a number of examples already that share ground zero. The content has changed but the ground has been constant throughout.

A natural question is to ascertain where ground zero is located. It all depends on where the personal subject is located, and that can be literally anywhere. Everyone possesses his own ground zero. It is usually located somewhere in the region between the ears and behind the eyes. This is your own personal canvas for picturing the universe. Functioning correctly, it will be aligned with the impersonal version. It is split into left and right sides that in turn are split into front and back. This, in itself can be an immense source of wonder. However, we have not yet finished with the technicalities.

The generic ground for any entity taken as a whole can be understood in terms of the semiotic square. The square is generated from an opposition applied to itself. We have already interpreted this opposition in a number of ways. There was the opposition between subject and object. Another version was the opposition between the One and the Multiple. The most fundamental version of the opposition is that conveyed by ontological gender, the opposition between the masculine and the feminine. Gender will be revisited in more detail and precision later. Here we simply consider the masculine feminine opposition as involving a more generic opposition than the cardinality opposition between the determined One and undetermined Many. Gender is not limited to cardinality and goes right across the board from the quantitative to the qualitative. In all cases, the masculine appears as the determined singularity, that which is determined as singularity. The masculine is the only certainty in the equation. The feminine, on the other hand, is a totally unknown quantity. The best way to understand the feminine, albeit from the masculine viewpoint, is that it is a total wildcard. And this is the key. There is nothing wrong about knowing nothing about something as long as that is certitude. Here we find the Socratic confession of ignorance as the lynchpin of a whole algebra of the Cosmos! The ignorance is encapsulated in the feminine wildcard. The absolute certitude of knowledge that this wild card is a wild card is encapsulated in the masculine. The singularity of absolute certitude meets absolute uncertainty. This is the ultimate Principle of Uncertainty. What ‘s more, it provides the two letters capable of coding the whole Cosmos, any Cosmos.

We still have not come to the author’s object of wonder, but we are slowly moving in that direction.

The Four Letters of Antiquity

The above material will be revisited at a more leisurely pace in later sections. What we wish to retain here is the notion of a two-lettered generic alphabet. Intuitively we can say that these letters are M for masculine and F for feminine. These letters have semantic implications. The two letters have meaning as has been explained above. For example, the feminine F is the wildcard and is totally devoid of determined meaning, which, when you think about it, is really loaded in meaning. In a recent seminar given by the author, apparently a woman in the audience was taking notes and wrote down the letter F and then the word “wildcard” followed by a string of exclamation marks. So F seems to have meaning of some kind!!!

The physics of pre-Socratic times and later the physics of the Stoics were founded on the theory of the four elements, sometimes called the four letters. According to the Stoics, two of the four elements were masculine and two feminine. The Stoics were not innovators in this domain and seemed to have just adopted the older versions of the science from previous generations with little modification. In addition to the masculine feminine opposition, the Stoics also include a second opposition based on the Active and the Passive principles. The way we interpret it, the gender opposition is the primary impersonal opposition and fits the left-right polarity convention. The Active Passive opposition can be interpreted also as a gender opposition like the first. However, this time it involves the personal version, the one corresponding to the front-back polarity convention. The Active corresponds to the personal masculine (the personal singular subject) and the Passive to the personal feminine (the personal non-singular). The four ancient elements, similar to those mentioned in other cultures such as those on the Indian subcontinent, were water, earth, air and fire.
Figure 11 shows the four elements together with the Stoic qualia and the pure gender versions. Heraclitus associated Fire, the doubly singular MM element, with Zeus. Note that Earth, the doubly non-qualified element is a kind of “double wildcard.” As a substance, Earth would have to be interpreted as devoid of any specificity whatsoever. It is pure “stuff”. In this F and M algebra, the F can be replaced with a question mark. The other three elements do possess specificity, but only relative to subject. Water with the specificity FM has for its only specificity the singularity of the personal subject. Air with the specificity MF has for its only specificity the singularity of the impersonal subject. Fire, on the other hand, being MM enjoys both the specificity of both personal and impersonal subject.
In the light of the above, it does not take too much imagination to realise that this ancient way of reasoning about the substantiality of reality is non-trivial and, in fact, very profound. Keep in mind that this is not abstract thinking that is involved here; it is thinking of a different kind, what we call generic thinking. For several millennia, this brand of thinking made up the dominant scientific view. This generic kind of science has been totally eclipsed by the dominance of the abstract sciences of the last few centuries. The generic science perspective has fallen in such disarray that it has become a source of ridicule. “Four elements! Everyone knows nowadays that there are at least 96 elements.” The thinking of thousands of years of the greatest minds of the times has become an object of scorn and derision. It is time to reverse the tables.
Figure 11 Table showing the four ancient elements, the Stoic qualia for the elements and the pure generic gender algebra version.

The Generic Square

The physics of the ancient world was not based on empirical left side thinking but rather an intuitive version of an embryonic right side science. In later sections, we will endeavour to reconstruct the ancient science and move it to a more rigorous and potentially formal footing. Of fundamental importance is the concept of gender, the most fundamental of any ontological principle. At present, we are content with an intuitive understanding of the concept. Figure 12 shows how gender coding can be used to provide the elementary algebraic expression of the ancient four elements. The table includes an additional column that describes how the same gender coding codes the genetic code. It is a relatively simple exercise to actually determine the exact match between the genetic code and the gender coding. Suffice to say that there are so many constraints to the puzzle that only one combination stands out. We do not go into these details here.

Figure 12 The ancient four-letter code can be understood in terms of the gender code. So can the generic code.

The Genetic Code viewed Left and Right Side

The gender code mapping to the four bases C,A,U, and G of the genetic code as shown in Figure 12, is incomprehensible from a left side science perspective. Implicit in the gender coding is a right side science of language. Before going down that track, it is worthwhile considering the genetic code as seen in the optic of traditional left side science. The left side linguistic theory of the genetic code is quite elementary and predictable. Basically, the genetic code is seen as a simple transcription language. This is in accordance with standard left side concept of the binary relationship between the signified and the signifier. The sign and the signifier are assumed to be the one and the same. Language thus presents in the standard way outlined by Ferdinand de Saussure. First as a sequence of signifiers and secondly as a sequence of entities signified. The relationship between the signifier and the signified is considered as completely arbitrary. In human everyday languages, this means that the actual sounds, the phonemes, are devoid of any meaning. For example, the three phonemes making up the words C-A-T are considered arbitrary and have no meaning. It is only the morpheme CAT that signifies something. Three arbitrary markers, taken together have come to signify a cat.

The left side view of the genetic code is along the same lines. The signifiers in this case are the four bases A,U,G, and C. True to the left side paradigm, these bases are considered to have no meaning, they are just markers. The equivalent to a morpheme in the case of the genetic code is the codon. A codon is a triplet of any combination of the four bases, three signifiers per morpheme. The codon is considered to have meaning because it signifies something. As we know, in most cases it signifies one of the twenty basic amino acids that make up proteins. Three of them, the “stop” codons act as punctuation marks signifying the end of a genetic sequence. One of them, the AUG “start” codon, also acts as a punctuation mark, signifying the start of a genetic sequence. If situated in the middle of a genetic sequence, it signifies an amino acid, methionine in this case.

We pause for a moment and give left side science its due. To arrive at the present day understanding of the genetic code is an incredible achievement and well worthy of a Nobel Prize or two. However, after the dust has settled, there comes a time when deeper questions come to the surface. Some of these questions are quite simple. Why do all creatures, ranging from the smallest microbe, the smallest streak of slime, right up to humans, all use the very same code and the very same coding? Even very specifically, why do they all use the very same start codon? If all life were a product of evolution, then surely the genetic code would also be a product of evolution. However, the evidence points to it as never changing and never have being in a state of change. Right at the beginning of life, there was the Code. Why didn’t the genetic code evolve? Where is the survival of the fittest code? Where does the genetic code come from? Why this particular code and this particular coding? Does this code precede life?
Even more importantly, we ask the question as to whether the genetic code can be reverse engineered. This is the problem taken in this book: Determine how to reverse engineer the genetic code. Our approach will be to attempt the reverse engineer a generic code which is capable of coding, not just the visibly animate, but anything whatsoever in a rational reality.
Asking the above questions, posing them to the left side dominant scientific thinker, inevitably results in being confronted by incredulity or shear blankness. From the left side perspective, the situation is in hand. The genetic code has been “cracked.” How the genetic coding transcribes the building planks of life has been revealed. All of these ontological questions of where it came from and why it works the way it does, lies outside the scope of science. The role of science is to describe, not to explain.

The Full and the Half Paradigm

There are two takes on reality. One is a full take and the other a half take. Left side science is based on the half take. It appears that the biological brain is similarly inclined. Thus, before investigating the scientific ramifications and avoiding any abstract musings, we look at the personality traits and competencies of the human brain when operating on a single hemisphere. What is the difference between the take of the left brain operating alone from the take of the right brain acting alone?

When only the left hemisphere is effectively operational, the subject suffers from “hemi-neglect”, as McGilchrist explains.

Because the concern of the left hemisphere is with the right half of the world only, the left half of the body, and everything lying in the left part of the visual field, fails to materialise … So extreme can this phenomenon be that the sufferer may fail to acknowledge the existence of anyone standing to his left, the left half of the face of a clock, or the left page of a newspaper or book, and will even neglect to wash, shave or dress the left half of the body, sometimes going so far as to deny that it exists at all. This is despite the fact that there is nothing at all wrong with the primary visual system: the problem is not due to blindness as ordinarily understood. If one temporarily disables the left hemisphere of such an individual through transcranial magnetic stimulation, the neglect improves, suggesting that the problem following right-hemisphere stroke is due to release of the unopposed action of the left hemisphere. But you do not get the mirror-image of the neglect phenomenon after a left-hemisphere stroke, because in that case the still-functioning right hemisphere supplies a whole body, and a whole world, to the sufferer. (McGilchrist, 2009)

Hemi-neglect is a characteristic of left side thinking, whether it be the biological brain or the scientific mind. The left side is aware of only one half of reality, whereas the right side must be aware of its domain of specialisation and the other side as well. After all, its specialisation is in terms of whole wholes, not half wholes.

Hemi-neglect runs right across the left side sciences. It always manifests itself in a binary way of thinking. We have already seen this in logic where left side reasoning is based on the Law of the Excluded Middle. Something is either true or false. Analytic Philosophy is full of it. The Mind Body, the imaginary and the real dualities are pet pre-occupations. When it comes down to linguistics and semiotics there will usually be two versions. One will be the left side version and is always dualistic. For example, the left side perspective on the nature of the sign is expressed by Ferdinand de Saussure as a dyadic opposition between signifier and signified as illustrated in Figure 13. Right side thinking employs a second opposition leading to a semiotic square with one “real” component determined by a triad.

Figure 13 Left side semiotics is dyadic; right side (Peirce) is triadic.

The Tower of Babel

And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. (Genesis)
This is where we come to our point of wonder. The first wondrous aspect of the reality we live in is that it can be understood in terms of a single unique language formed from four letters. This was the dominant concept running through ancient civilisations, right into medieval times. The concept gains new impetus with the discovery of the genetic code. The concept will return to central stage with the development of our understanding of the generic code, the unique code underlying all reality, not just the animate. This four-lettered code, describes every cell in our bodies. Every cell has a copy of the same code.

The central theme of this book is that this genetic code, this generic code is the language of wholes. As such, it is the natural language of Mind, the mind conscious of itself as a whole.

However, it appears only one half of mind, the right side, is based on the thinking in wholes and the corresponding 4-letter generic code. Here we come to the second theme of the book. We assert that the left side is not based on this four-letter alphabet. Rather than four letters, it only uses two, the two letters on the left as illustrated in Figure 14.

The right side thinks in terms of wholes and needs the full four letters of the generic code. However, the letters C and G relate to the Singular and the Universal. They express the requirement that the One must be One and the Multiple must be One. These are regulatory requirements. Such a mechanism can be restrictive. Like the free market economist who abhors legislation and regulation of the marketplace, left side reasoning dispenses with such travesties against individual freedoms. It becomes open loop and tries to go it alone. It doesn’t need any Cosmic Reason to figure out what should be done. It just needs a notepad of rules and a belief in Providence. Totally unaware of the guiding hand of the right side, an incomprehensible entity at best, the left side thinks that it is master of the world.

Figure 14 The generic mind: The right side is conscious of the whole. The left side has dispensed with the regulating machinery of the right side and has become open loop, relying on learnt rules. It has dispensed with the generic code and speaks the local patois. Faster, agile, and focused, the left side is unaware (Genesis) that the right side even exists, sometimes to its own peril.

 

 

All Rights Reserved. @copyright Douglas J. H. Moore 2011 Phrases: Semiotic square, genetic code, generic code, DNA, start codon, left right hemispheres, the divided brain, epistemology, anti-mathematics, masculine, feminine, gender differentiation, Generic Science, Semiotic structure

Kiyosaki and the Semiotic Square

Kiyosaki’s books, mentioned in the previous semiotic post, illustrate the difference in thinking between his highly educated, abstract thinking poor dad and his uneducated, but smart, rich dad. The author’s favourite way of summing up the situation is with the observation:

Most people who successfully complete university studies end up working for someone that didn’t.

The author is being deliberately provocative. However, the present state of world affairs demands some sorely needed provocation. Left side, abstract thinking increasingly dominates university education, even in the humanities. However, such a way of thinking leads to high rate of failure in the real world, and particularly in the business world. Apparently Kiyosaki’s clever, university educated dad was a dedicated left side thinker and so had all the ingredients for becoming a flop in the world of business. His other dad, had learnt business acumen by avoiding abstraction, shunning opinion, calling a spade a spade, and relied more on right side thinking.In an attempt to overcome this problem, and cash in on business demand, many universities have set up their own version of the famed MBA, the Master of Business Administration. Other university degrees are oriented to produce future employees for the universities themselves, government, and corporations. In contrast, the MBA provides some kind of remedial epistemological therapy for graduates that aspire to run these enterprises. To some extent, the MBA can be successful. An important part of the MBA is real world experience in a wide number of case studies, rather than offering abstract theories of real world experience. Often these case studies involve the student moving to another country to carry out the work. One can also detect some attempt to experiment in other modes of thinking than the abstract and analytical modes. The MBA can dabble in the synthetic and the lateral. The author is unaware of MBAs that do drills in semiotic analysis, thus taking a leaf out of Kiyosaki’s book, but would not be surprised to see such cases.

In the next section, we take a deeper look at the difference between left and right side rationality.

Left Side Versus Right Side Reasoning

The mantra being repeated many times here is that there are two takes on reality.  From an epistemological viewpoint, this can be seen as two kinds of knowledge, conditional and unconditional knowledge. Conditional knowledge corresponds to all of our traditional sciences, including axiomatic mathematics. The big question lies on the unconditional side of knowledge where any corresponding science is lacking. The kinds of thinking involved in these two forms of knowledge, we refer to as left side and right side knowledge, the inference being that the fundamental epistemological dichotomy is mirrored in the architecture of mind, and correspondingly of its implementation as brain.
One popular approach to a dichotomy is to interpret in the thesis-antithesis format leading to some kind of synthesis, which is supposed to resolve the inherent opposition. Some might even claim that this constitutes dialectics. Semiotics offers an alternative approach. Rather than attempt to explain how Nature or Mind might function synchronically as a temporal or logical process, the emphasis is placed on the diachronic structure. We concentrate on the shape of knowledge and the corresponding shape of Mind.  Appealing to poetic license, we interpret the corresponding structure as the epistemological mind. We may employ other terms that help understand the notion such as the semiotic brain, and sometimes the metaphorical brain.
Initially, this metaphorical brain architecture is characterised by a split right down the middle, dividing it into a left and a right hemisphere.  As a structure carving up scientific knowledge, traditional scientific knowledge and its characteristic way of thinking goes into the left hemisphere, and the mysterious, yet to be understood, holistic, unifying science and its way of thinking goes belong to the right hemisphere.

In addition, the left-right split there is the front-back split based on the dichotomy between subject in the front and object in the back. In this case, knowledge is divided into knowledge of self and knowledge of object. Combining the two dichotomies together leads to the semiotic square shown in Figure 2. When interpreted from an epistemological perspective, the resulting semiotic square, it illustrates the four fundamental kinds of scientific knowledge. On the left side, the traditional sciences of object correspond to the physical sciences. Axiomatic mathematics, which has the study of axiomatically defined abstract objects as its vocation would also belong here. The traditional left side science of subject would correspond to the social sciences and would include empirical, behaviourist psychology. In passing, one could consider the possibility of an axiomatic mathematics of subject. Perhaps mathematical Category Theory would fit into this slot, as it is an attempt to provide an abstract overview of all mathematics. It is the closest that the axiomatic can come to the notion of mathematical subjects rather than mathematical objects. However, we will not labour over that point.

There are a myriad of different traditional sciences and the number keeps on growing. This is a characteristic of left side science: there are many of them. There is an explosion of knowledge into an ever-increasing number of specialisations. Each science is fundamentally atomist in its philosophy and the overall epistemology ends up as an atomism of sciences. We then come to the question of what kind of sciences should occupy the right side slots of the semiotic square.  The first thing to note is that the monism of the right replaces the atomism that dominates the left side. There is only one right side science. Right side science has for its vocation, the unifying of knowledge. There can only be one such science. Right side science, as the science with the role of unifying reality science, is the science of unified reality.  The one right side science must still answer two questions and provide a science of object and a science of subject, but in a different manner to the left side science.  On the left side, knowledge splits irrevocably into the sciences and the humanities. On the right side of the epistemological divide, object and subject presents itself as two sides of the one coin.  As a preliminary attempt, the epistemological square shown in the diagram below has knowledge of Self in the frontal lobe and knowledge of Object in the rear.

 Right side knowledge of self can be interpreted in many ways. It can include knowledge of the personal self and knowledge of the impersonal, generic self. It includes knowledge of the personal god and knowledge of the impersonal, transcendental god. Unlike the left side knowledge obsession with labelling everything, right side knowledge dispenses with labels. Instead of trying to put this and that into individually labelled, cardboard boxes, right side knowledge is always relative: it knows this relative to that. As such, right side knowledge can accomplish something to which the left side mode of thinking is totally oblivious: the right side can know the cardboard box as well as what it has come to contain. Right side knowledge works as a doubled edged sword. Even what is container and what is contained becomes relative.

Epistemological Semiotic Square

Figure 2. Superimposing the two fundamental dichotomies of knowledge leads to an epistemological square. Only right side science is aware of the full significance of such structure of oppositions and so has the potential for knowledge of Self.

Left Side Obsession with Truth Value

Left side reasoning can be formalised in terms of the various kinds of logic; propositional calculus, predicate calculus, modal logic and so on. All of these different species of logic come under the common genus of symbolic logic. Here we see the first obsession of left side reasoning, the obsession with symbols and the manipulation of symbols. Symbols form the basic atomic material of logic: Take away the symbols and there can be no symbolic logic. Sequences of symbols lead to logical expressions: reasoning takes on a linguistic character. At this point, the second obsession of left side reasoning comes into the fray; attaching truth values to logical expressions. A logical expression is either true or false. Of course the expression must be meaningful (be a well-formed-formula, wff). Thus, the meta-logical expression “the expression X is a wff”, can itself be true or false. Left side reasoning embraces the law of the excluded middle, and so militantly ignores any possible truth-value other than true or false: the logic is systemically binary valued.

Left side reasoning, as mirrored in axiomatic formulations, involves non-constructionist formalisms. As is well known, constructionist formalisms require reasoning that breaks with the law of the excluded middle. A third truth-value of “unknown” is required. To cater for this situation, three valued, and even unlimited multi valued logics have been introduced into formal left side reasoning. However, this is just a smokescreen. Ultimately, at a lower level than the three-valued proposition P, there can be another proposition Q that ultimately states, “P has the truth value of undefined” where, once again, Q is either true or false. This inbuilt, systemic obsession with truth-value of symbolic expressions and the ultimate binary valued nature of truth is a primary characteristic of left side reasoning.


Left side thinking relies on sequential, deductive forms of reasoning dominated by a binary valued truth system. Pioneered by George Boole in the mid-nineteenth century, the symbolic logic mode of reasoning became increasingly formalised to end up underpinning all present day sciences and left side schools of philosophy such as Analytic Philosophy.  In The West, it has become the dominant mode of reasoning in our time. However, this apparent victory may be short lived.

Left and Right Reasoning in the Biological Brain

Symbolic logic is an example of abstract reasoning, the speciality of left side thinking. A prime consideration of this book is to attempt to avoid the fatal attraction of abstract thought, a primary characteristic of left side thinking. This can be difficult at times, due to the profound questions that we have to confront. The book (McGilchrist, 2009) by psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist shows has been a source of inspiration for the author in drawing parallels between the philosophy and the biological brain. Consider what he has to say concerning the difference in reasoning between the two hemispheres of the biological brain.

First, there is his basic thesis, namely:

My thesis is that the hemispheres have complementary but conflicting tasks to fulfil, and need to maintain a high degree of mutual ignorance. At the same time they need to co-operate. How is this achieved, and what is their working relationship like?

Here, McGilchrist is talking about the biological brain. He is also implicitly talking about what we have been calling, the epistemological brain.In his chapter entitled The Triumph of the Left Hemisphere, ponders over what the world would look like, if the left hemisphere of the biological brain were dominant.
… the world would change into something quite different. And we can say fairly clearly what that would be like: it would be relatively mechanical, an assemblage of more or less disconnected ‘parts’; it would be relatively abstract and disembodied; relatively distanced from fellow-feeling; given to explicitness; utilitarian in ethic; over-confident of its own take on reality, and lacking insight into its problems — the neuropsychological evidence is that these are all aspects of the left hemisphere world as compared with the right.

Once again, McGilchrist is talking about the biological brain, however, by attending a seminar in any one of the sciences there is a good chance you could come out feeling the same impressions and sentiments. It looks as if the left hemisphere has taken over in the scientific world.

The two biological hemispheres harbour two different ways of thinking. McGilchrist describes repeatable experiments carried out by Deglin and Kinsbourne that clearly show this difference. How does each hemisphere process a syllogism?
Take the following example of a syllogism with a false premise:
  1. Major premise: all monkeys climb trees;
  2. Minor premise: the porcupine is a monkey;
  3.  Implied conclusion: the porcupine climbs trees.
Subjects with one or other of their hemispheres disabled, or both intact were asked, “Do porcupines climb tree?”

As Deglin and Kinsbourne demonstrated, each hemisphere has its own way of approaching this question. At the outset of their experiment, when the intact individual is asked ‘Does the porcupine climb trees?’ she replies (using, of course, both hemispheres): ‘It does not  climb, the porcupine runs on the ground; it’s prickly, it’s not a monkey.’ (Annoyingly, there are in fact porcupines that do climb trees, but it seems that the Russian subjects, and their investigators, were unaware of this, and therefore for the purposes of the experiment it must be assumed that porcupines are not arboreal.) During experimental temporary hemisphere in activations, the left hemisphere of the very same individual (with the right hemisphere inactivated) replies that the conclusion is true: ‘the porcupine climbs trees since it is a monkey.’ When the experimenter asks, ‘But is the porcupine a monkey?’, she replies that she knows it is not. When the syllogism is presented again, however, she is a little nonplussed, but replies in the affirmative, since ‘That’s what is written on the card.’ When the right hemisphere of the same individual (with the left hemisphere inactivated) is asked if the syllogism is true, she replies: ‘How can it climb trees — it’s not a monkey, it’s wrong here!’ If the experimenter points out that the conclusion must follow from the premises stated, she replies indignantly: ‘But the porcupine is not a monkey!’  
Deglin and Kinsbourne’s experiment can be repeated with syllogisms ranging across many different subjects and the result will be the same. The experiment clearly illustrates the fragilities of left side reasoning based on what is essentially a simple form of symbolic logic.
Symbolic logic is very easy to teach and master, even though the resulting apparatus has only the most tenuous grounding in reality, if at all. However, despite many philosophical objections, it has to be granted that left side forms of reasoning underpin the most successful scientific venture to date. Left side reasoning underpins science, as we know it.  This raises the question: What is the corresponding organon for right side rationality?

Right side forms of thinking were much more dominant in ancient times. In pre-Socratic times we find Heraclitus who exclaimed that reality could only be understood in terms of oppositions. To every proposition there was an equally valid second proposition in total contradiction with the first. Heraclitus’s picture of reality consisted of a ferment of oppositions. His philosophy lacked discipline and gave a picture of reality dominated by irrational anarchy. Even with Kant, several thousand years later, the picture had not progressed significantly. One way Kant treated the oppositions was in the form of his four antinomies. There might be many oppositions in metaphysics, but he claimed his four antinomies were the most important. Kant put the spotlight on the possibility of a new, noble science and that somehow it would be fundamentally involved with rationality based on oppositions. a form of dialectical reasoning in some way. However, he provided little guidance to how such a science of oppositions could be organised. He also presented his versions of the Categories (hastily prepared, according to Hegel). The categories were arranged in a four by four structure, vaguely indicating that deep reality could be understood in terms of organised square like structures.

The purpose of this book is to show how Heraclitus’s Cosmos of apparently confusing oppositions can be presented in a rational manner. The first step towards understanding the science is to achieve an elementary familiarity with handling oppositions. This involves practical exercises in semiotic analysis where the basic tool is the semiotic square. We have already considered one practical example, Kiyosaki’s semiotic cashflow quadrant. A number of other examples follow below.

Teaching semiotic analysis should be an essential part of the curriculum. The approach is simple, simplifying, but can reach into the most profound areas. This elementary training in right side thinking can help to counteract the excesses of left side rationality emphasised in present day education. To be successful, students must work across many problem domains. Unlike left side thinking, specialisation is not a characteristic of right side thinking.
Fundamentally, reality can only be understood in terms of oppositions. Semiotic analysis introduces such an understanding. At the basic level, two oppositions, themselves opposed to each other, form the semiotic square. The next task is to start to understand the semiotic square in more detail. The next example of semiotic analysis will illustrate how left side thinking, obsessed as it is by truth-values, is based on belief. On the other hand, we will come face to face with right side thinking with the startling realisation that it doesn’t believe in anything. In the process we discover that the right side belief free zone, nourishes a much more reliable form of truth.
Key Phrases: Semiotic square, genetic code, generic code, DNA, start codon, left right hemispheres, the divided brain, epistemology, anti-mathematics, masculine, feminine, gender differentiation,  Generic Science.

Semiotics: Dyads or Triads?

Before understanding our reconstruction of the Chrysippus semiotic square, we need to know a bit about semiotics , or at least, our version of it.

The author’s first acquaintance with the semiotic square came from following the courses of Greimas back in Paris, many years ago. The term “semiotic square” is nowadays generally associated with his name. The big weakness in the Greimas approach was his failure to come to terms with the subject. His semiotics is sans sujet. We will sketch out here a more fundamental approach to semiotics and the semiotic square that does include the subject.
To begin with, there are two kinds of semiotics , one associated with Ferdinand de Saussure (dyadic, arbitrariness of the sign etc.) and one associated with Charles Sanders Peirce (triadic). In our view, the approach of de Saussure is not semiotics
, but General Linguistics. Like Greimas, the approach of de Saussure is sans sujet. If there is a subject, it is part of the Spectacle, not the Spectator. It is merely what Hegel referred to as the empirical ego. In this perspective, the de Saussure approach is like that of the traditional sciences and mathematics. All of these sciences are sans sujet. We call all of these traditional science left side sciences. Left side sciences claim to be objective, which is another way of saying that they only concerned with a reality of objects where any reference to the subject has been excluded. They are all sans sujet. As such these sciences look at the world from a very specific point of view. This point of view has been described as the “view from nowhere” or the “God’s eye view”. This is a general characteristic of science sans sujet. It is a general characteristic of all the sciences and mathematics of today.

The other possible scientific paradigm goes in the opposite direction. It demands that the subject is always present. In other words, if there is a spectacle there must also be an accompanying spectator. You can’t have one without the other. We call the science based on this paradigm, right side science. The right side science becomes, in fact, the dialectic of the Spectator and the Spectacle, the Subject and its kingdom.

Unlike the many left side sciences, there is only one right side science. This is because its focus is on the science of the subject and this is quite different to the science of objects. It is the science of the Self. For a Stoic logician like Chrysippus, it is the science of the Logos. This generic entity, the Self, the Logos, the Ego, has a generic form. This form can be worked out from pure reason.

Now Charles Sanders Peirce was more inclined to the right side paradigm, but he didn’t make much headway. He also despised the Stoics, which didn’t help. Thus we have to start from scratch. Starting from scratch means that we start with a subject and its kingdom. Alternatively we start with a kingdom and its subject, the same thing. Both spectator and spectacle must be present in the same moment.

This is where we have to put our thinking caps on. The relationship between the Subject and its Other is a very particular kind of relationship. They each determine one another. The Hindus sometimes see this as a coital relationship. The subject corresponds to the masculine and the mysterious other is feminine where gender gets interpreted as sex, poetic licence oblige. The Stoics saw the relationship as that between the Active Principle and the Passive Principle. Vedanta philosophy often refers to the Active principle as the Principle of Individualization, the Spiritual Principle, or simply the masculine principle. We have here the building block for right side science. It’s getting a bit steamy so here is one way to arrive at a dispassionate view. It involves the gender construct.

The main role of the subject in this right side science, is that it does provide a determined point of view. As such it is a pure singularity. What is non-subject is non-singularity. This can be formalised with the concept of gender. The gender concept is very ancient, both in the West and the East. First there is the unqualified substance totally devoid of any determined specificity. Such an entity is typed as the pure feminine. One might say that the pure feminine is devoid of specificity and so has no attribute. This is not the case. It is only devoid of a determined specificity. It has an undetermined specificity. That is its attribute. This attribute, using the argument of First Classness, must be an entity in its own right. (Note that the Stoics always claimed that the property of an entity is an entity in its own right). This attribute entity will be said to be of masculine gender. Two entities, one has an attribute, the other is the attribute. The first entity corresponds to the feminine, the second to the masculine. These two entities provide the building blocks for the right side science paradigm.

The first thing to construct is the semiotic square. One way of understanding this square is as the architecture of a whole. Totality can only be understood from a determining point of view of the subject. Instead of comprehending the totality in any moment, which is impossible, it is understood as a whole. A whole is totality looked at from a particular point view. There are as many wholes as there are points of view. This requires that the subject must be present in the whole. Right side science always understands things in terms of wholes.

Thus the semiotic square, as a generic understanding of a whole, is a map of the subjects conscious understanding of the whole, any whole. The first moment of understanding is “Wow, here I am, this is me and the rest is not me.” We thus draw a square, cut it down the middle and adopt the convention that the right side corresponds to subject and the left side to what is not subject. The right side is masculine typed and the left side is feminine typed.

However, the subject in this particular configuration is not you or I. It represents the impersonal subject. In fact, it is this subject that corresponds to the “view from nowhere”, the “God’s eyes view” of the traditional sciences. These sciences, in their quest for objectivity, remove all reference to subject from consideration. They even remove this impersonal subject from consideration as they have no need for it. They demand a godless science, a pure science sans sujet. Thus the semiotic square for the left side sciences is the same as for the right side science, except that the right side is blacked out. Left side sciences thus suffer from a symptom well known to the psychiatrist. It is called hemi-neglect. Right side science knows about the left side, left side science wings it alone, content with half a brain, so to speak. Curiously, in passing, the human brain exhibits exactly this same bi-lateral specialisation. The right hemisphere does not exhibit hemi-neglect and sees a whole world. Only the left side exhibits hemi-neglect.

This is now where left side and right side science part company. Not content with just the presence of the impersonal subject, right side science must find a way of introducing a more determined subject, the personal subject. This is constructed by applying the first feminine masculine opposition to itself, an opposition of two oppositions. It might sound complicated but is easily visualised with the semiotic square. The second opposition is orthogonal to the first and so instead of a left right dichotomy, the dichotomy is front back. We use the convention of masculine in front, feminine at the back. It appears that we am not the only ones to adopt this polarity convention..

The end result is that we end up with a square shaped kind of placeholder for dealing with knowledge. The first kind of knowledge involves an elementary consciousness of self, a knowledge of what is and what is not. This is expressed logically in our reconstruction of the Chrysippus square. For the moment, note that the four parts of the semiotic square have been binary typed with gender. For example, the left front part is typed as MF. This reads that, from the impersonal subject perspective, it is typed as feminine. From the personal subject perspective it is typed as masculine. Thus the first letter in the binary gender typing is that of the personal subject, the second letter is that of the impersonal.

Figure 1 The generic semiotic square is constructed from the feminine masculine opposition applied to itself.

The semiotic square is a place-holder, the architecture of the generic mind, so to speak. The semiotic square is static and unique, for the purposes of the science. You only need one brain, it can be said.
In addition to the placeholder, there are values relative to it. These values are mobile. There are the four kinds of elementary substance that can be binary typed by the four binary gender types. The binary typed substance correspond to MF, FF, FM and MM. The ancients called them air, earth, water and fire respectively.
Stoic Qualia
Pure Gender Algebra
Element
masculine active
MM
Fire
masculine passive
MF
Air
feminine active
FM
Water
feminine passive
FF
Earth
Figure 2 The ancient four elements can be can be understood in terms of gender.

We now come to the semiotic square constructed with four of the Chrysippus undemonstratables. Note that one diagonal is constructed from the conjunctive syllogisms. These are known to logicians as Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens. The other diagonal is constructed from the two forms of the disjunctive. The diagram can be gender typed by matching the is copula with the masculine and the is not with the feminine, as shown. This matches perfectly with the semiotic square gendering shown above.
What is interesting, is that the logic of Chrysippus has introduced yet another dimension into the semiotics
, a vertical axis. The square becomes the “Chrysippus cube”! We have used the convention of the implication arrows in the diagram going left to right to signal the upwards direction, and the downwards for the right to left. Talking intuitively, this indicates that the top two entities have an “upward flow” and the bottom two entries have a “downward flow”.

Chrysyppus Logical Semiotic Square
One should note that the gender coding of the top two elements correspond to the “elements” of air and fire. These are the “light” elements, being predominantly masculine and less substantial than the feminine bottom two elements of earth and water. Such reasoning is not very rigorous as we are not talking about the same kind of elements as in the left side, traditional science. The logic of Chrysippus however adds a different complexion to the matter.These principles must have been part of core Stoic teaching, as Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations.
Your aerial part and all the fiery parts which are mingled in you, though by nature they have an upward tendency, still in obedience to the disposition of the universe they are overpowered here in the compound mass. And also the whole of the earthy part in you and the watery, though their tendency is downward,

The Stoics claimed that theirs was a unifying science that integrated logic, physics, and morality. Some people are attracted to Stoic values whilst thinking that their science has been completely eclipsed by the modern day sciences. However, how antiquated is the science of antiquity? Consider the following.
In our diagram we have added in the four letters CAUG matching up with the gender typings MM, MF, FF and FM respectively. This is part of another story in this book. These are the four letters of what we call the generic code. We’ve taken them from the RNA version of the genetic code. The genetic code is a standard code which codes all living beings, without exception. This is a known fact. The generic code is impervious to evolution and has remained unchanged since the year dot. By extending the notion of the living to that of the universe, itself considered as living by the Stoics, this same code takes on a generic vocation. In this book we explore its application to understanding elementary particle physics from a new angle (see Appendix). We use the generic code to code quarks and leptons. These claims may test our short term credibility. However, in the longer term that is the way it will pan out once we have properly digested this new science, a science with such ancient roots.