Thomas S. Kuhn in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions describes the way that science textbooks are written that results in the destruction of student abilities to understand how science evolves. Textbooks are written from the perspective of the current paradigm. The history of a discipline is told as if all discoveries unfolded along a path leading to contemporary insights. Left out of textbooks are the unique world views retained by the succession of paradigms. Past unresolved, nonintegrated anomalies get discarded as the story of the current paradigm is told. Anomalies are the doorways to revolutions. With old, unintegrated anomalies ignored, science students are inducted into a society with secrets. Disciplines become amnesiac. Individuals within a discipline don’t know what they don’t know.
A very peculiar thing is happening to time and space. We are experiencing an elimination of time and space in societal relations. As individuals, we are experiencing a shift in identity.
Several hundred years ago, we had no watches. In Western society, a vague sense of linear time accompanied those with access to resources. They could tell the time. For the rest, church bells bonged out the hour.
Fifty years ago, we all had analog watches that told time within a couple of minutes. Periodic synchronization was required. Digital watches emerged popularly in the 60s. Synchronization was still often periodically required. Nevertheless, time had become more linearalized, digitalized, refined.
With cell phones, time has become exact. Everyone is on the same time. In addition, space is collapsing. We call each other while approaching rendezvous, experiencing each other’s presence before sensory confirmation. Being on time at a particular place becomes a relative concept because we can communicate from any place as we seek to share the same physical space. An exact meeting place is not required when both have phones. We just talk as we get closer.
We are moving back toward an aboriginal condition characterized by relative time and place as technology breaks down the barriers of identification with a physical form. Not only have our senses been expanded by technology, but so has our experience of time and space.
Marshall McLuhan describes the effects on individuals and societies when media encourage seamless communication. A result is the breaking down of barriers and a shift in personal identity. It becomes more difficult to experience life as isolated and alone.
Thesis: Aboriginal experience of time and space as nonlinear, relative and socially centered. Antithesis: Modern experience of time and space as linear, exact and individually centered. Thesis: Emerging experience of time and space as nonlinear, relative and trans-socially centered, mediated by technology.
Tracing changes in sense of time and space and shifts in personal identity are difficult to do when the current paradigm mostly chooses to exclude consciousness from discussions. Consciousness is not measurable, so we will not include it in equations. Consciousness, defined as identity shifts in space and time, goes unremarked as consciousness transforms.
In perhaps every way that matters, the future and the present are also the past. Unknown patterns become understandable when we trace their history. Shifts in consciousness begin to make sense when we return from explorations of the past. An adult is informed by childhood, technology by aboriginal relations, a science discipline by a study of its roots.
When Kuhn described how the transformation of science disciplines are inhibited by textbooks and teaching protocols that hide seemingly unrelated anomalies transcended by current paradigms, he also described how we hide from ourselves features or patterns in the evolution of biology and society. Whereas biology textbooks don’t note many of the several competing biological evolution paradigms of the nineteenth century, making invisible alternative ways to view the world, in society we don’t note changes in consciousness or identity because these changes do not seem to have social or economic repercussions.
Milton H. Erickson, the hypnotherapy innovator and theorist, observed that it was often far easier to achieve a targeted change for a client coming to him with a specific distressing symptom if the change was made without the client being aware that the symptom had been addressed. Erickson would work out a contract with the client’s unconscious and make a deal that the client’s conscious would not be aware of, which would result in the presenting problem going away.
Erickson was intimately aware of levels of identity and the robust power that a model of consciousness could afford. Presupposing unconscious awareness and intention, Erickson was able to negotiate transformation. Erickson communicated with a person’s unconscious, using the rules that the unconscious was fully engaged in, primary process, with one time, one place, no opposites. This was Freud’s discovery regarding how very young children, animals and the unconscious experience the world. This is also the ancient human aboriginal’s world. One time, one place, no opposites.
It seems that changes in science and society are accompanied by an Ericksonian-like amnesia. Transformations occur but they seem to be characterized by an almost deliberate choice to not note what has been left behind. Perhaps it’s time we become our own hypnotherapist and contract with the past to not only reveal connections to the present, but to find out what is necessary to make it possible to be aware of what has been left behind. No more secrets. Let the anomalies be revealed and discussed along with the discarded paradigms. Let society’s changing relationship with itself, its evolving sense of time and space, be the subject of conversation.
Our identity is shifting. We have the opportunity to be aware of that shift. There is structure to the personal, societal and biological shift we are in the middle of. It begins with discovering they are all the same.