circumcised nose-pickers and other members (my entangled qualia)

Here's a little meme-game anyone can play: List the different sets of which you are a member.

I'm a member of the set of all vertebrates. And a member of the set of all bipeds, the set of all humans, capitalist wage slaves, tenants, pantheists, nose-pickers, fathers, sons, husbands, sentient entities (hopefully), people with circumcised genitalia, people who were born on a Tuesday, and many more.

I'm also a member of the set of all green-eyed earthlings. Which contains the members of the set of things with green-eyes, as well as all the members of the set of all earthlings.

Venn Diagrams provide a neat way to illustrate nested gestalts, overlapping sets of members with multiple overlapping qualities. Think matryoshka (Russian dolls). Nested gestalts: the more you look for them the more you see. They're everywhere! In fact, the whole of reality is just one big set of nested gestalts.

Particularly compelling is Ken Wilbur's analysis of the ancient concept of the the Great Chain of Being (scala naturæ) as the context for "holons", units of reality, links in the great chain.

Intuition suggests (at least to me) that nothing has only one attribute. Or to put it another way: everything has at least two attributes. For starters, every thing exists: so existence is a default attribute of every thing. Then there's the attribute associated with the number of attributes. (A big red box has one more attribute than a green bag. Ceteris paribus the former has three -- bigness, redness and boxiness -- while the latter has only two: greenness and bagginess. So for any thing and every thing, that's two attributes right there: 1) existence/non-existence, and 2) number of attributes.

If no thing has only one attribute, then every thing is a member of multiple sets. And one of the "benefits" of being a member of multiple sets is the inescapable opportunity for members to "partake" in a gestaltish sense in all the attributes of all the members of all the sets. For instance, I am a man, and a member of the set of men. My partner is a woman, and a member of the set of women. She and I are members of the set of everything that is, and so too is the gestalt, Everything That Is (was, will be, could be).

I am not a member of the set of women, and therefore do not partake directly in the attribute of being-a-woman. However, I am a member of many sets containing members that are men and members that are women. "Human beings" is one such set. "Living creatures" is another. "Things" is another. "The Universe" is another. "Material objects" is another. "Everything that is" is another. I am part of that which has woman-ness as a part. I share in woman-ness, even though I am not directly a woman, by virtue of the gestalt of teamwork!

Entanglement, a term from quantum physics, describes a state in which items or objects are so closely related (entangled with each other) that changing an attribute in one causes an instantaneous corresponding change in the other, irrespective of the spatio-temporal distance between the objects. It's not controversial to say that every thing is member of the set, Everything. But taking it one step further, I venture to say that every thing is entangled with every thing and partakes in one sense or another of all the attributes of all the members of the set, Everything. Or, to put it another way, every thing is part of the same thing, the one thing that contains all. As the Buddhist said to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything!"

Gestalts. Lots of 'em. They're everywhere. Gestalts of knowledge, of biology, of chemistry, of physics, of species, of families (their members), nations (their citizens), material things, immaterial things, colours, qualities, and yes, even qualia. Gestalts. They're here. They're there. They're everywhere. They're nested. And they're showing at a cinema near you. Human beings have an amazing ability to identify and create gestalts. Some people call it a problem, "the binding problem", but what a great problem to have: the ability to bind things together into an integrated whole; the ability to create experience; the ability to live, to be alive.


[What's the biggest set of all? What set has the largest number of elements? The set of every thing that exists. And before you start flinging infinities at me, remember that the biggest infinity there is (yes they do come in different sizes) contains things that exist. The largest number possible (LNP) is the number of things that exist. It's true that LNP x 2 is a larger number than LNP, but let's not go there now. It's too complicated.]


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