A consciousness that is too horizontal

Abstract: The hierarchy works poorly because it is represented too horizontally in our minds. Defect inherent in the synthesis carried out in the conscious space. At this level of the neural network, the model flattens a social universe that is actually endowed with vertical complexity.

Two mental dimensions

In this chapter I use a notion that you will find detailed in the appendix in the presentation of a Universal Philosophy. This is the notion of a complex double dimension of the mind. This dimension combines complex verticality for the neural support, which builds levels of meaning up to consciousness, with complex horizontality for the representations conceived in each of these levels. Let’s take a moment to understand this unusual notion.

My example is an apple, an inspiring fruit even when it doesn’t fall on your head. Behind the word ‘apple’, my mind harbors several exact representations of the fruit. I can see it as a universe of atoms / collection of water molecules trapped by polysaccharides / tasty food / childhood memory where I collected crates of them from my aunt / fruit currently in my fridge, etc. All these representations are accurate and yet they have little connection with each other. They are complementary and not competitive. The reductionists that I call “flatists” tend to squeeze them into a single category, that of “aspects”. But as the flatists obliterate who or what these aspects are defined for, they relapse into an obsolete dualism, the mind evacuated into limbo. I want to remain monist, or multidualist, by speaking of ‘levels of complexity’ for these different representations of the apple, merged in the complex dimension.

A vertical stack of horizontal representations

I myself am included in this vertical dimension of complexity. Let’s put aside my level of atomic information, quite similar to that of the apple, and let’s focus on those formed by my neural networks. Each of my representations of the apple is a layering of concepts formed by these networks. The image of the apple is formed in the visual areas, the layering going from the points stimulated on the retina to the synthesis of lines, texture and color characteristic of the fruit. Other representations come from school and book knowledge. And biographical memory connects the apple to my family history.

The final image of the apple that I have in consciousness is, in its constitution, a conceptual pyramid. Like the apple itself, the complex structure of my mental image is a layering of information. The apple and its representation have a vertical dimension in complexity. What about their horizontal dimension? It is the organization specific to each of the levels, each information system self-determined by the elements present. For the apple there is a horizontal dimension of interacting quantons in its atoms, interacting atoms in its molecules, etc. For the mind there is a horizontal dimension of the neural network which assembles the retinal points into lines, another lines into a sphere, the sphere and its color into fruit, etc. The horizontal floors stack up and form the vertical dimension of complexity.

Consciousness is naturally flat

The conscious space is one of these levels with horizontal functioning, where the most evolved concepts and mature representations interact. In consciousness these representations are juxtaposed and not entangled in the complex verticality like the reality it describes. My mental image of the apple is attached to that of its atoms and molecules, without realizing the integration. My image does have a complex verticality in itself, but it is that of my neural structure, not that of the apple. To see the apple as atoms or molecules, I juxtapose my knowledge of physics to its visual image. I flatten in my conscious space the real complex verticality of the apple. The very nature of the mental processing process tends to make me ignore this complex dimension in the objects around me. I can represent their complexity but not experience it. The only one I experience is that of my own storied neural edifice.

We are therefore naturally led to practice flatness, to neglect the vertical hierarchy of things, to transform the levels into ‘aspects’ without priority over one another. While hierarchy is essential in the complexity of things. Molecules have no existence without atoms, atoms without quantons. My final image of the apple would be different without my succulent tastings and without the crates I took to my aunt’s house.

Where flatness truncates the progress of society

Flatness also distorts our social perspective. We think of social circles as different ‘aspects’ of our relationships with others, when in reality society is a hierarchical structure, with its vertical arrow. As an example, let’s replace the apple here with the social concept of “helping someone”. It does not have the same meaning, the same scope, depending on the circle in which it is used. A major imperative in couples, with children and close friends, it becomes diluted as the social circle widens. People help each other more easily inside a cultural community than outside. Nationals prefer that their taxes remain in the country rather than become foreign aid.

These priorities felt by everyone cannot be explained correctly in a horizontal vision. Reduced to its solidarity “aspect”, the aid should have an approximately similar intensity, while moving from one target to another, children, friends, fellow citizens. This is also how people whose egalitarian ideal overwhelms their personal social hierarchy operate. When the ideal dictates “All humans are equal”, aid must be distributed without criteria of proximity. These people will prefer to make donations to international organizations rather than to the parish or neighborhood association. More embarrassing, the same ideal theoretically leads to saving the lives of two strangers rather than that of one’s own child, since from an egalitarian perspective these strangers are twice as important as the child…

Sharing vs synergy of power

The ideal can be overwhelming, as we have seen, and encourage behavior that is both utilitarian and inhumane. An ecological ideal such as saving Gaia can give rise to hope for a world war capable of wiping out 7 of the 8 billion inhabitants, because indeed this number is the primary cause of the climate catastrophe to come. The ideal crushes the vertical perspective and makes thinking simplistic, busy squeezing all the criteria into a single puree, without worrying about the hierarchy they may have established. At the end of this laminated thought emerges the representation of society which occupies most minds today: The world would be a juxtaposition of social clans; their difference in fame is arbitrary — since all humans are equal —; it would be natural to reestablish the balance of power between them. In this horizontal vision, power is capital to be shared between clans.

In the other vision, the vertical, power increases everywhere when it is managed effectively by the hierarchy. It increases synergistically at the base and at the top. This vision, however, requires seeing society with its hierarchical dimension, the higher level as a Whole imposing itself on its parts. This is generally the case for people clearly embedded in the hierarchy, endowed with authority by their function. This is no longer the case, however, for the mass de-hierarchized by citizen equality. This crowd, being kept outside the official hierarchy, only retains its constraints and flows back into the horizontal vision, which is the juxtaposition of social actors that is easiest for the consciousness to manage. The crowd has no idea of the priorities associated with hierarchical functions and is content to turn them into power rivalries. In which it is not entirely wrong when the hierarchy abuses power and clings to its privileges.

Hierarchical dysfunctions…

Rising in the hierarchy does not necessarily make think better about society. The best managers are not necessarily the greatest solidarity, the most committed to their mission in the collective. It is actually not necessary to be a champion of empathy. The only obligation of the manager is to be fully aware of the soliDarity importance of her task, so that her soliTary desires do not take undue advantage.

Who is capable of it? Which decision-maker uses her power exclusively for the benefit of the collective, without ever favoring her loved ones or herself? They are very rare, and it is a defect inherent in the nature of our horizontal conscious functioning. Even if we are aware of the priority of the collective over the individual, the desires attached to the collective and to oneself compete at the same mental level. It is extremely difficult to make them independent. The best way to achieve this is to make the collective task a habit, that is to say, to bring it down to unconscious propositions rarely discussed at the conscious level. There is less competition between different levels of the psyche. It is by making a right act sediment into habits that we reduce its questioning.

…are linked to the persistence of horizontal vision

It is the dysfunctions of the hierarchy that make it intolerable. And it is dysfunctional because certain decision-makers do not respect its principle, the independence of the hierarchical function. They exceed its limits, in particular by attributing to themselves advantages which are not attached to the function. Because they carry around scraps of horizontal thinking, naturally renewed with each generation. It shows hierarchy as a rivalry of powers and not an integration. It is hardly practiced otherwise.

Competition is a necessity, of course, but operates within a hierarchical level and does not harm cooperation. It must benefit the entire circle. Competition between levels makes the competition anarchic, indicates that certain people are not in the right place, or that it is necessary to increase the number of intermediaries.

Voluntary anonymous…

This is indeed the problem of the crowd, an organism that has today become gargantuan, planetary, and above all intraconnected. The competition becomes increasingly anarchic. A hierarchy is trying to put itself back in place, that of influencers, but they are not subject to any feedback other than their number of likes. Followers remain anonymous behind their comments and are not evaluated either. A huge crowd anarchy developed under the cover of anonymity. In the absence of identification within networks, hierarchical levels are incapable of multiplying and integrating into other circles.

The web is a gigantic D with very few perfectly identified T(s). No structure because no elements. If individuals feel reinforced in their T by the personalization of the choices offered, this is artificial individuation. The society does not care, does not use this information except to keep the crowd as a herd. It does not make it a management hierarchy as is the case for its administrative and economic services. The crowd is an undifferentiated set of numbered souls, nothing else.

…by the desire to hide one’s privacy

The worst is undoubtedly that by wanting to protect our privacy, our individual specificity, we prevent the social administration from extending the hierarchy to the crowd. We keep ourselves in the shadows of a solipsistic personal world. Perverse side effect, which makes us unadapted to the whole. By preventing our individuation from becoming public, it has no chance of emerging. No hope of climbing the hierarchy, or of seeing it come down to us. The vast majority of our fellow human beings do not see any rung of the ladder coming within their reach. And remains in the limbo of anonymity, hatred and hidden resentments.

Because it is this, almost always, that we want to hide by protecting our privacy at all costs: the unspeakable thoughts, the hatred of what seems unfair to us, and which we would like to translate into actions. If concealment is recommended in regimes where it is forbidden to express oneself, this is not the case in the Western democracies that I am discussing here.

What is inalienable privacy

Only one place must be protected at all costs, a place where any thought is acceptable: the privacy of our own mind. The world of fantasies is that part of the virtual which is not realized and is not intended to become so. The place to channel unsatisfied instincts, desires impossible to eradicate. The world of fantasies is our inner prison, the cage presenting bad solutions to escape from them. Minds devoid of fantasies do not understand the world and make stupid mistakes because they do not already have these errors in their minds.

Decision-makers must not be mistaken in installing a thought police. The white line is there. A bad thought materialized in action is punished, not a fantasized thought. Justice and its laws are already slipping in this regard; however, the excesses are the consequence of the anonymization of crowds and their disastrous lack of hierarchy. It is impossible to personalize the judgment of an anonymous person, and it is not the occasional intervention of a psychiatrist that will enlighten us sufficiently. Personalization can only come from local social circles, that is to say from a re-hierarchization of judgment including the crowd in its entirety.

The solipsist is ignorant

The temptation to penalize thoughts comes from the fact that we do not know how to evaluate their hierarchical status in the mind concerned. The dangerous inner worlds are the solipsistic ones, the least interfaced with the entire social reality. Paradoxically, networks, as attractors, isolate. They disconnect, confine to a narrow circle, a gang, impervious to larger circles. The solipsistic personal world is by definition the most ignorant because it believes it contains everything even though it is immersed in the unknown.

The interfacing of a mind with others can only be assessed by those who interact with it. The lack of integration of the crowd into the hierarchy allows vast areas of so-called “lawlessness” to develop, which we should rather call “non-inclusion”, where these solipsistic minds develop. The solution is of course not to expand the number of police officers, located at too high a level in the hierarchy, and costly because they are dedicated to this task. The solution is to re-hierarchize these non-inclusive areas and re-establish integration with wider circles, a continuity of representation, which allows a smart guy born in a difficult neighborhood to become president if he has the capabilities.

Successfully integrate the Societarium

An off-topic word to accompany my last sentence. It does not mean that we must judge the small-time neighborhood criminal with kindness, as some judges do, by considering the conditions in which he grew up. What these officials are doing is judging society and not the individual. They too exceed their limits, attributing to themselves powers that are not dedicated to them. Corruption by horizontal thinking, always…

Justice does not have the means to sort out the motivations of a huge crowd operating anarchically, but is not there to give it a blank check either. We do not need more civil servants but to revalorize parental, educational, associative and religious authority when religion is recognized as a source of power, to replace the disappeared hierarchical levels of broken families and clans, to add new ones, mediators, writers and public speakers, to bring every citizen out of anonymity, allow them to express their T within the D, in order to extract them from their solipsism.

Succeeding in social integration is not about saying we are equal to others but about re-hierarchizing oneself personally and ourselves socially.


1 thought on “A consciousness that is too horizontal”

  1. I do not find the notion unusual at all. We and the world we inhabit are multi-dimensional. Without that aspect seated within our conscious mind/being/awareness, we quite literally could not keep up with everything. My characterization of a healthy, fully-engaged human is that he or she remains responsively conscious. I use the modifier because the complexity of the modern world is such that many lapse into a coma of ignorance, severely disabling responsiveness. The disability is tragic. It’s ever-present threat is one compelling reason people turn to various stripes of self-help advice. As the old comic panel once proclaimed:,”we have seen the enemy, and he is us”.


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