Introduction to vertical thinking
In this somewhat difficult article, I will justify the need for a new dimension of thinking, called vertical as opposed to horizontal or flattened current thinking. The hierarchy of thought is already known and widely used. It is, however, a classification made by horizontal thinking and not an authentic vertical thinking. Prioritization is unique to the mind that uses it. Some place God at the top; others the universe, or the quantum vacuum. For still others it is simply their irreplaceable relatives. The hierarchy can be upset depending on the mood, overthrown by a love impulse. True vertical thinking is formalized regardless of the mind that harbors it. Above all, it is realistic,that is to say, it marries the very structure of reality, producing a much more faithful representation of it, and without expelling from it this spirit that conceives it. Vertical thinking is an integration of the mind into reality that does not make the particular experience of being on board disappear.
1) Suspect that academicism blocks the recognition of this particular dimension of thought. 2) Explain the success of the omnipresent horizontal thinking. 3) Why does the philosopher also fall into this trap? 4) Ontological foundation of vertical thinking, in the complex dimension. 5) Both directions, from the ends (double gaze). 6) Immediate applications to famous controversies. 7) Beware of confusion with the vertical thought of Edward de Bono (personal development technique unrelated to the verticality described here).
Academic research pitfalls
1) The hidden flaws in the reference studies are permanently buried. You may have heard about this error in an old statistical analysis protocol that, in medicine, has potentially distorted for 20 years a third of the studies published in the best professional journals?
2) The majority of studies are of little interest. How many angels can dance on a pinhead? They provide no intellectual stimulus or noticeable change in practice, only mobilizing our information monitoring routines.
3) A less quiet idea, especially from a foreign discipline, disturbs academicism and its evaluation will be late, while its potentialities are better. See Lorenz’s chaos theory that shook physics only ten years later.
Finally, academic prepotency has a protectionist rather than an intellectual motivation. For example, within a medical discipline, it is mandatory to go through a hospital service to publish. No matter the exclusive work done by the author. He will be drowned in a list of institutional names. Publishing is a coveted and watched market.
Has an intellectual sport as old as philosophy eliminated all its pitfalls?
Has it explored ways of thinking enough to be sure there isn’t a philosophical flaw like that statistical flaw that troubled medicine, or worse, an even more fundamental trap like universal time before Einstein? I believe that yes, this flaw exists. Some have hinted at it in their writings, but this recognition has never been systematized.
Our awareness of things is horizontal…
as Nick Chater unwittingly showed by flattening his own consciousness in ‘The mind is flat’. While the way it is built is vertical. There is one dimension missing from our thinking: the recognition of one’s own ontology. Only this recognition allows it to be superimposed effectively on the rest of reality, including the mental universes of our fellow human beings.
Horizontal thinking sorts things like pieces of a puzzle
Their appearance makes it possible to bring together those who belong to the same domain. Then, having gathered them, we see those that are joined. We connect them with the principle of causality and a theory. Glue and applicator brush. Theories are stored in a case called a paradigm. Different paradigms are used to understand the many areas of reality.
Although efforts are made to connect them, we generally do not understand why this paradigm is adapted to this area. It must be said that the two are locked together in a discipline of knowledge. We ourselves are willingly cloistered in the same citadel, by our profession, our affiliations, our readings. The lack of transdisciplinarity does not bother us much. We are even able to use contradictory paradigms in areas of reality that seem disconnected to us. A physicist never uses the relativity of time on his agenda. A neuroscientist does not treat his children’s emotions as synchronous neural excitations. A determinist uses a free will on a daily basis that he considers objectively non-existent.
The philosopher uses a wide variety of paradigms
This profusion of applicators in its case allows it to manage in every corner of the puzzle. But perhaps this makes him even more blind to the fact that it is not… than a puzzle, and not reality per se?
Certainly the philosopher recognizes better than anyone the separation between his mental representation and the real in itself. But he makes his representation a mask. Treating the mask as a puzzle is already presupposing that the real is one. What if reality had dimensions that the mind has not yet grasped?
An essential answer still escapes the philosopher. He accepts that his mind, although not accessing reality in itself, be integrated into it by his constitution. Its only analysis tool is both inside and out. How is that possible? Missing a convincing theory of mind. Faced with this shortcoming, the philosopher remains fundamentally dualistic. His vision is a puzzle superimposed on reality in itself. The space between them is both small and unknown.
The heavy legacy of dualism
The crossing of this space being impossible, the philosopher should impute to himself not a knowledge but a total ignorance of reality. Didn’t he entirely self-fabricate his reality, on his side of separation? We have never really measured the cost of dualism assumed. The majority of us stand on one side or the other of separation, materialistic or existentialist, classified by dualism but not practicing it. Palliative treatment of this schizophrenic fracture of the mind.
Vertical thinking erases the fracture
It does not immediately establish a continuity between the mind and reality in itself. It simply says: since one is derived from the other, there is a development of reality in itself that profoundly transforms it, to the point that the new appearance no longer recognizes its progenitor. It is the dimension of development that escapes us. Vertical thinking is the recognition of a self-organization of reality that creates emergences. An emergence is a plan of reality alien to its constitution. Not independent. The causality of micromechanisms is not denigrated. What is foreign is a quality,not present in the constitution, at least invisible with the quantitative tools used to measure the constitution. The real is a stack of reality levels and not a puzzle.
Complexity is not just an appearance
Complexity is a recognized characteristic of reality. But it is considered as an appearance and not as a dimension in the same way as spatio-temporal varieties. Philosophers and scientists alike make complexity by default a projection of the mind onto reality. It has no equations, no founding principle. Taking it into account does not contribute anything to the paradigms already effectively installed in their disciplines. We do very well without the complex dimension. Just position your mind in the right place of the puzzle and know the theory that applies there. The assembly of the parts then presents no difficulty. Horizontal thinking is rarely taken into default. As well as universal time, or free will…
Vertical thinking is indispensable only if we wish to construct a wholist representation of reality, where our mind is finally included, without being reduced by materialism. Not only does it keep its fullness, but it occupies the top of the complex dimension (waiting to be dethroned by an even more complex entity). This belvedere makes it possible to affirm the realism of the mind’s gaze on the matter. Our mental representations are no longer virtual, illusory say the behaviorists; they are as concrete in their plane of reality as the atoms in theirs. This concretization brings an unprecedented solidity to existentialism.
Complexity as a physical dimension
In 4D space one thing can relate to another, located on other coordinates. Bidirectional relationship. The concretization of the complex dimension brings this upheaval: a plan of complexity is in relation with the others, bidirectionally. This faculty is not reserved for the human mind. An organism without a brain establishes a representation of its environment, as a synthesis of its functions, a level of information higher than its constitution. The other direction is its dependence on this constitution.
Complex dimension and vertical thinking are not rabbits taken from the hat. In Surimposium,I demonstrate the ontological reality of emerging levels of reality, from well-identified mechanisms: quantum entanglement, topological defect, phase transition, symmetry break, thermodynamics.
Then also materializes the double look,precious to avoid the effronteries proclaimed from one of the edges of the precipice between matter and mind. The double look affirms the two directions in the complex dimension irreducible to each other. The representation of a thing is complete only by associating the two images.
Application to the body/mind problem
Too abstract? Let’s see a practical application. John Horgan, a philosopher of science who blogs for Scientific American, tackled the mind-body problem. He argues that Integrated Information Theory (Tononi’s ITI) is a tautology, because its founding concept, information, presupposes consciousness. Tautology exists only by isolating itself on one side of the precipice,here the mind side that denigrates to reality in itself the ownership of information. Others do the same thing as Horgan on the opposite side, for example Tegmark with his hypothesis of a mathematical universe, which denigrates in mind any ownership of information. The two men are isolated by a gap that does not exist. Vertical thinking would easily allow them to reconcile their points of view.
Application to the experiment/theory controversy
Second historical example: Boyle vs Hobbes, experience or theory? Robert Boyle is one of the founders of the experimental method. In 1659 he designed the first air pump, intended to vacuum. Does emptiness really exist? This remains a metaphysical problem. For Boyle, knowledge can only come from the results of measurements, and from the witnesses of experience. Thomas Hobbes, a philosopher of science, thinks exactly the opposite. Truly objective experimental facts do not exist. They proceed from a certain interpretation of nature. The reliability of the instruments is fickle, leading to approximate knowledge, unlike abstract thinking. It is therefore necessary, for Hobbes, to build theories by the use of reason, on the model of mathematics.
Boyle and Hobbes each use a look, starting from one end of the complex dimension, in the opposite direction of the other. Hobbes’ look descends and starts from conscious abstraction to reality in itself. Boyle’s is ascending and starts from reality to his consciousness. Boyle lets reality per se express itself, gives it ownership of the experimental event. While Hobbes lets his conscious reality express itself, gives his theoretical prediction ownership of the event. Intuitively we guess that these two directions are necessary. That’s the way it is. Neither can replace the other. Isolating oneself in one is a reduction. If they knew the double look, boyles and Hobbes would both have recognized the relevance of each other’s opinion.
Looking for references on vertical thinking
…you come across Edward de Bono, who differentiates it from “lateral” thinking. Nothing in common with the vertical thinking of the Surimposium described here. Edward de Bono is interested in methods of personal development and not in the relationship of the mind to reality. It is rather his lateral thinking that evokes the complex vertical, with the consideration of the different solutions to a problem, while his vertical thinking is the complex horizontal, resulting in the unique solution woven by the induction/deduction couple. Edward de Bono tends to oppose the relevance of his two thinkings. In Surimposium I make them two indissoluble components, with systematic errors if one tries to separate them. This symbiosis is indeed a mimic of the very structure of reality, with its intricate levels of organization. Horizontal thinking allows you to move on the different metastabilities of a level (different organizational solutions) while the vertical allows you to contemplate the assembled solutions and the currently preferred one.
Verticality, a new dimension essential to your thinking.