FRACTAL LOGIC

The 'Scale' of the Fractal: human cognition, the environment, the universe

The existence of the unconscious in dreams, provides us with evidence of cognitive processes which 'have a quite different character from those of waking life' (Dreams: Difficulties and First Approaches, p.8, 1900).

'We experience [dreams] predominantly in visual images, feelings maybe
present too, and thoughts interwoven in it as well ... but nonetheless
predominantly through images.'
(p. 9)

It could be argued that these images are constructed by discourse - as Lacan suggests the unconscious functions as a language. However, the supremacy of these unconscious 8 'visual discourses' actualises cognitive processes that are not so readily experienced in the dichotomous confinement of conscious discourse. The potential fractality of this thought can be seen in the paradox of 'reality' in a dream. For example, whilst questioning a friend about his dream experiences, he said, "When the giant cat jumped on me, I couldn't move. I was too scared. But that was the last thing I wanted to do!" The dreamer has a finite degree of 'reality association' (his inability to move due to shock) in which the infinities of 'non-reality' (the size of the cat) can take place. The dream seems to have created a becoming or asymmetrical linkage between the subject's territorial coupling of sense/nonsense. He concluded, "My memory recalls sense, though thinking about it now, the dream was absurd!", illustrating the reterritorialization of this dichotomy in waking life. This at least shows the potential of a fractal sensibility, not necessarily suppressed by an ego, but unable to express itself through the dichotomous discourse of consciousness. I believe that to accommodate for such nonlinear complexity, neither the dialectic or post-structuralist corpora are useful, alone.

But surely to apply fractal logic, a mathematical law, to worldly artifacts is a return to Newtonian determinism? The difference is fractal logic allows us to understand worldly systems, in the knowledge that we cannot predict or exert control over their processes. Kant argued:

'It is our perception itself which structures reality, that is, only
that which is reflected as reality in our minds obeys mathematical
rules; we know nothing about the world outside.'
(Critique of Pure Reason, p.63, 1781) '

This statement is remarkably similar, although less linguistic, to the twentieth century dicta of Wittgenstein and Derrida. However, such thought does not account for the theory of evolutionary cognition, propounded by Konrad Lorenz, and summarized by Briggs in Fractals: Patterns of Chaos (1992). It asserts that the process of evolution has impressed mathematical logic into our genes, thus into our psyches. For example, a lioness has an exceptionally accurate conception of the forces of gravity, in order to pounce on its speedy prey. The successful kill by millions of animals implies a mathematical concept actually existing in the world of the object. Similarly, bird has acquired an idea of the geometry of space actually existing, in its ability to perch on fine branches. To assert a fractal logic (the mathematics found in nature's systems) is to place human cognition into a holistic view of the universe. And in doing so it attempts to erode the simulacra of dichotomous philosophical discourses.

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