“Perhaps last traces of human existence will be radio waves beamed into space, travelling distances before they dissolve into noise.”
Curtis Roads in Micro-Sound

“From Sound to Waves to Territories” is Jan Hendrik Brueggemeier’s creative PhD project (2010 -2014) at La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Biology of love (Maturana & Verden-Zoeller)

related posts:
From Sound to Waves to Territories, Introduction
Human perception and virtual realities (H. Maturana)

from:  Biology of Love (paper), By Humberto Maturana Romesin and Gerda Verden-Zoller, Opp, G.: Peterander, F. (Hrsg.): Focus Heilpadagogik, Ernst Reinhardt, Muenchen/Basel 1996. [pdf]

In their book with the same title Humberto Maturana Romesin and Gerda Verden-Zoller pose the following question:
Are we genetically aggressive animals that love occassionally, or are we loving animals that cultivate aggression culturally?

As the for Maturana the all-important concept of theliving systems both authors look closer at theevolutionary process and its deeper implications for us as species:

The authors state:

Language and Evolution

Indeed, our human indentity is a systemic phenomenon, and in our opinion it arose in the primate evolutionary history to which we belong some three million years ago when languaging as a manner of living began to be systemically conserved geneation after generation in the learning of the children of some small ancestral family.

As human beings we exist in a multidimensional interactional and relational space in which most dimensions remain outside our awareness. So we humans exist in a partially conscious and partially unconscious interactional and relational space in which most dimensions are unconscious. We (the authors) call this conscious and unconscious interactional and relational space our psychic domain of existence. Everything that we do takes place in us through our operation in our psychic domain of existence, or better, in our psychic existence, and as we change in the course of our living, our psychic domain of existence changes.

Language is a manner of living together in recursive consensual coordinations of consensual coordinations of behaviors, and must have arisen in the spontaneous coordinations of behavior that takes place when living together; sharing space and food in intimacy occurs.

Or, in other words, as living in language, and particularly in oral languaging, began to be conserved generation after generation in our ancestors, our human lineage began in a process of change that shaped our whole body (nervous system, face, larynx, manner of relation, the world lived) around living in oral language.

Finally, language is not a domain of abstractions or symbols, it is a concrete domain of coordinations of coordinations of concrete doings, and symbols and abstractions are secondary to language. In these circumstances, we humans are not only languaging animals, but we exist in languaging, and we disappear as humans if language disappears. That is, it happens that we are in language not that we use language, that our being in language is our manner of existence as the kind of animals that we are as humans, and that our psychic existence includes the relational dimensions of our languaging being.

Language and Emotions

As a result, different emotions can be fully characterized as different domains of relational behaviors or as dynamic body dispositions for relational behaviors.

For example, love is the domain of those behaviours or dynamic body dispositions through which another arises as a legitimate other in coexistence with oneself, aggression is the domain of those behaviors or dynamic body dispositions through which another is denied as a legitimate other in coexistence with oneself, and fear is the domain of those behaviors or dynamic body dispositions through which one moves away from the cicumstances in which one finds oneself.

In these circumstances, love is not a virtue, or something special, it simply is a biological phenomenon as the domain of those behaviors through which social life arises and is conserved; it is simply the biological dynamics that constitutes trust and mutual acceptance in body and spiritual relations of nearness and intimacy.

The way a child lives, the experiences to which he or she is exposed, determines what kind of an adult he or she becomes as he or she will have the structure as an adult that only permits him or her to reenact the emotioning that he or she has lived.

We humans are languaging animals, that is, we live in language as a manner of flowing in coexistence in consensual cordinations of consensual coordinations of behaviors. This manner of living must have arisen in the history that gave origin to us some three million years ago. This we said already.

At the same time, we are loving animals.


In fact, what must have begun then, must have been living in the braiding of languaging and emotioning that we call conversations, and with that what began then was human living as a living in networks of conversations, so that everything human takes place in conversations as a flow in consensual coordinations of consensual coordinations of behaviors and emotions.

As such our evolutionary history is a history of expansion of the capacities for consensuality, and, hence, of expansion of intelligence. Intelligence has to do with consensuality, intelligence is not primarily the capacity to solve problems, but it is the capacity to participate in the generation, expansion, and operation in consensual domains as domains of coordinations of behaviors through living together.

Languaging, indeed, living in conversations as we humans do requires such an enormous capacity for consensuality, that we humans are all essentially equally intelligent, and the differences in intelligence that seem to exist between humans are not due to differences in their capacity for consensuality, but in their emotioning.

To live in love, in the biology of love, in the conservation of collaboration, in the acceptance of the other and in the acceptance of the conditions of existence as a source and not as an opposition, restriction or limitation, has been the fundament for the evolutionary trend of conservation of the continuous expansion of intelligence in our lineage. We humans are the present result of these four basic processes. But there is more to our human condition than what is apparent in these
reflections, both in the richness and range of being animals that live in conversations.

The Culture of Negation of the other

But at the same time, as languaging animals that live in conversations, we humans can reflect on our circumstances, and we can invent, and have invented, rational systems in the form of religious, political, philosophical, and economic theories, that we have used to justify our doings and the negation of our emotions. As we have done that during the last ten thousand years, particularly in our occidental culture, we humans have become alienated from our basic condition of loving animals, and we have begun to live through those theories the rational justification of the systematic and systemic negation of the other (love) through the defense of transcendental values, and rational or revealed universal truths. In the blindness that the negation of love creates in our living, we stop seeing ourselves as part of the harmonious interconnectedness of all existence in the unending dynamics of life and death, and we begin to live guided by ambition, greediness and the desire for control and continuous relational difficulties that open ended population growth and misapplied technology, in the belief that it is the solution to all our problems have brought to us, and we are not happy. Indeed we suffer, because we become denied by the very same world and psychic existence that we are bringing about, as this is a world and psychic existence that denies the fundaments of our existence as loving animals. We humans are loving animals, or we still are. This means that love is the grounding of our human existence.

We want to arise in our relations with others as legitimate beings that do not need to justify their existence with respect to them;

The only emotion that expands intelligence is love, and this is so because intelligence has to do with the acceptance of the legitimacy of the other and the expansion of the possibility for consensuality that such acceptance entails. Love is visionary. We think that other lineages of the human kind may have become extinguished through the negation of love in mutual destruction or ecological blindness in their domain of existence.

We are not talking about love as a virtue or as something good from a moral, religious, or philosophical perspective. We are talking biology, we are talking about our animal constitution as the particular kind of primates that we are as members of an evolutionary trend centered around the conservation of the biology of love and the expansion of intelligence.

It is as loving languaging beings that we can still become aware of what it is to be a human being, and it is only as loving animals that we can still create the conditions for the upbringing of our children in the mother*/child relation and, later, in the schools and during their growth into adulthood, in a way that they grow and conserve themselves as self respecting socially conscious loving and caring adults by living with them in the biology of love.

* mother can mean both male and female as it is understood as a caring function.

Humberto Maturana Romesin and Gerden Verden-Zoeller, The Origin of the Humanness in the Biology of Love, Imprint Academic, Exceter, 2008

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Basic assumption groups (W. R. Bion)

related post: From Sound to Waves to Territories, Introduction
from: The fifth basic assumption by W. Gordon Lawrence, Alastair Bain, and Laurence Gould (Free Associations (1996) Volume 6, Part 1 (No. 37): 2855) [pdf]

The authors state:

Experiences in Groups

There are many renditions of [Wilfried R.] Bion’s formulation about groups but none can replicate the richness of the original. Like his Brazilian and …, for example, Experiences in Groups requires close and repeated attention. Bion’s major hypothesis was that when any group of people meet to do something, i.e., a task, there are in actuality two groups, or two configurations of mental activity, present, at one and the same time. There is the sophisticated work group (referred to as the W group) but this group is ‘constantly perturbed by influences that come from other group mental phenomena’ * which are primarily what Bion called the basic assumption groups (referred to as the ba groups).

What is the experience of being in a W group?

It is to be in a group in which all the participants are engaged with the primary task because they have taken full cognizance of its purpose. They cooperate because it is their will. … Essentially, the W group mobilises sophisticated mental activity on the part of its members which they demonstrate through their maturity. They manage the psychic boundary between their inner and outer worlds. They strive to manage themselves in their roles as members of the W group. … The participants use their skills to understand the inner world of the group, as a system, in relation to the external reality of the environment. In a W group the participants can comprehend the psychic, political, and spiritual relatedness in which they are participating and are co-creating. … In actuality the behaviour of the people in the group is often on another dimension. This is ba behaviour. The genius of Bion was to recognise that people in groups behave at times collectively in a psychotic fashion or, rather, the group mentality drives the process in a manner akin to temporary psychosis.

The term ‘psychotic’ is being used in this context to mean a ‘diminution of effective contact with reality’, to borrow Menzies Lyth’s phrase.

Bion’s three basic assumptions groups

Bion adumbrated three ba groups. The members of the group behave ‘as if’ they were sharing the same tacit, unconscious assumption. Life in a ba group is oriented towards inner phantasy, not external reality. To identify a ba is to give meaning to the behaviour of the group and elucidate on what basis it is not operating as a W group. The three ba groups of Bion are:

Tourquet’s basic assumption group “One-ness”

Lawrence / Bain / Gould’s fifth basic assumption group “Me-ness”

As the opposite of One-ness the authors are proposing another basic assumption group that emphasises separateness; that hates the idea of ‘we‘:

“A major difference between baM and other ba groups is that in the former it is the group which is invisible and unknowable whereas in the latter cultures it is the individual who is invisible and unknowable. In the cultures of baD, baF/F, baP, and baO the individual becomes lost in them. In baM culture the overriding anxiety is that the individual will be lost in the group if it ever emerges.”

The authors further state:
“Hence, the emergence of baM which is a resistance to both ba and W behaviour. The paradox is that while the architectonic belief is that only the individual can come to know anything, this belief causes the individuals to co-create and co-act in a ba group. So they enter a ba group in spite of their efforts to avoid this experience. …

In baM it is as if each individual was a self-contained group acting in its own right. A baM culture can never tolerate the collective activities of a W group because a baM culture has only individualistic preoccupations. A baM culture is more likely to pay attention to private troubles than ever it would to public issues, to use C. Wright Mills’s classic distinction, because they have no relevance for the individuals. … Our working hypothesis, now, is that there is a new phenomenon in that particular individuals can get caught up in a mental activity that does not allow them to enter the ‘I’/singleton state and holds them in what, we are to call, the ‘me’/singleton state because they never want to experience membership of a group. …

Any social figuration such as the group, society, thus comes to represent the damaged and damaging object. The group is construed as an antagonistic object because it is deemed to be phobic.

Consequently, the ‘me’ who feels impotent and vulnerable, with real anxieties about obliteration, takes up a counterdependent position to the group which is succeeded by a denial of its very existence; only ‘me’ has reality. This seems to be of the essence of baM. Part of the experience of being in baM is of being present in a room with a set of other people who must never form a group because it is by unconscious definition a nongroup; must never achieve a language that can make use of ‘we’. It is to be in a scientific posture of observing an object. The object is always potentially threatening and damaging. It can never carry hope. It is disappointing and always frustrating. In such a situation there is no space for concern for the mood is fatalistic-whatever happens, happens! All that one can do in such a situation is survive by keeping the goodness in and the dirty, messy, contaminating, reality of the other out. There is no place for emotions because the concern of the participants is that feelings be not experienced and that they be not expressed. Hence, life in a baM culture is ordered, calm, polite, and androgynous. …

Bion makes reference to Freud’s idea that particular specialized work groups make use of the activities of particular basic assumptions. Bion goes on to say that the Church or an Army has to hold on to basic assumption mentality and work group activity at one and the same time. …

Here we are puzzling out the relationship between baM activity and Work group activity recognising that ‘basic assumption mentality does not lend itself into action’ . **** …

Bion’s hypotheses derive from a psychoanalytic knowing of groups. This has enabled us to see connections between basic assumption behaviour and the interpretation of what reality might be. Basic assumption behaviour is psychotic, albeit temporarily. The more permanent it becomes, however, the more that mature, healthy individuals capable of social contribution, because they have a capacity for rush, are swamped in the basic assumption cultures of groups, organizations, or society. …

The more that we can identify through experience and come to know basic assumption behaviour, the greater our chances of interpreting the realities in which we live and transforming them so that human beings can become more mature through the quality of their contact with realities.”

* Bion, W.R. (1961) Experiences in Groups. London: Tavistock Publications, p. 129
** Turquet, P.M. (1974) “Leadership: The individual and the group.” In gibbard, G.S. et al., eds. The Large Group: Therapy and Dynamics. San Francisco and London: JosseyBass, p. 357
*** D.M. Winnicott, Human Nature. New York: Schocken Books, 1988, p. 68
**** Bion, W.R. (1961) Experiences in Groups. London: Tavistock Publications, p. 157

/ / /

The authors state:

What is the emotional experience of being in baD, in a culture of dependency?

The aim of the members of the group, and the assumption on which they work, is that they are met to have a feeling of security and protection from one of their members. This leader is invested with qualities of omnipotence and omniscience. He or she is idealised and made into a kind of god. The feeling is that only the leader knows anything and only the leader can solve the reality problems of the group. Such a leader is a magical person who does not need information-he or she can divine it. In such a group the mentality and culture are such that the individual members become more and more deskilled as information on realities becomes less and less available. There is an air of timelessness about the group which results in the feeling that it will never end. One phenomenon associated with this kind of group culture is that one person is made into the really stupid one, the ‘dummy’, who has to be taught everything by the others, the collective ‘mummy’. A similar process is to set up one member as being the object of care which other members proceed to deliver. A variation on this is to create a ‘casually’, i.e., someone who is made inadequate, even to the point of temporary breakdown.

What is the emotional experience of being in baF/F, in a culture of fight/flight?

The third basic assumption group of Bion is that of fight/flight (baF/F) which he sees as two sides of the same coin. What is the experience of being in such a culture? The unconscious assumption of the group is that they are met for action which is to preserve itself by fighting someone or something or by taking night from these. The individual is less important than the preservation of the group. Understandably this ba culture is profoundly anti-intellectual and will decry as introspective any behaviour which attempts to reach self-knowledge through self-study.

What is the emotional experience of being in baP, in a culture of pairing?

The experience of being in a basic assumption pairing (baP) culture is to be in a group enthused by the idea of supporting two members who will produce a new leader-figure who will assume full responsibility for the group’s security. The wish, in unconscious phantasy, is that the pair will produce a Messiah, a Saviour, either in the form of a person or an organising idea round which they can cohere. The gender of the two people constituting the pair is immaterial. The ethos of the group is one of hopefulness and expectation. The crux, however, is not a future event but the feeling of hope in the immediate present. The group lives in the hope of a new creation-a Utopia; a utopian thought that will solve all their problems of existence. There will be no feelings of destructiveness, despair, or hatred. But nothing must be created in actuality; otherwise the hopefulness will vanish.

What is the emotional experience of being in baO, in a culture of One-ness?

ba Oneness: is a mental activity in which ‘members seek to join in a powerful union with an omnipotente force, unobtainably high, to surrender for passive participations, and thereby feel existence, well-being, and wholeness’ **

** Turquet, P.M. (1974) “Leadership: The individual and the group.” In gibbard, G.S. et al., eds. The Large Group: Therapy and Dynamics. San Francisco and London: JosseyBass, p. 357

What is the emotional experience of being in baM, in a culture of Me-ness?

“Our working hypothesis is that baM occurs when people-located in a space and time with a primary task, i.e., meet to do something in a group-work on the tacit, unconscious assumption that the group is to be a non-group.”

“The pronoun ‘me’ is the accusative and dative form of the pronoun of the first person. This fits the meaning we want to give to baM because the ‘I’ becomes an object to itself-a ‘me’, governed by the prepositions ‘to’ or ‘for’. … In using the idea of’Me-ness’ we are harking back to the time when an infant becomes a unit able to distinguish between the inside and the outside. Winnicott with his usual perceptiveness writes:

“The idea of a limiting membrane appears, and from this follows the idea of an inside and an outside. Then there develops the theme of a ME and a notME. There are now ME contents that develop partly on instinctual experience. ***

For the authors within a baM culture the ‘like links with like’ turns into the relationship of ‘me with me’. “A baM group becomes a world of selfcontained, autodidacts selecting what they want to know from whom they choose.”

*** D.M. Winnicott, Human Nature. New York: Schocken Books, 1988, p. 68

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