New Civilization News: Shifting Domains    
 Shifting Domains20 comments
picture 2 Jan 2004 @ 13:07, by Flemming Funch

Here's a couple of patterns that might be useful for various things. First of all, you can divide life into various spheres that encompass more and more, but that each work according to different rules. You could see them as somewhat concentric circles, starting with you as an individual as the innermost circle. So, like this, for example:

Personal domain - One individual person and everything that pertains to maintaining an individual existence. This includes one's body, one's name, one's belongings, one's personal interests and preferences.

Relationship domain - The interactions between two or more individuals close to each other. That includes friendships, marriages, family, but also temporary connections and interchanges between individuals.

Group domain - Several people associating to form group activities. That can be a company or club or cause, or any other association, permanent or temporary. A group tends to take on a life of its own, beyond the dynamics of the participating individuals.

Society or Culture domain - Larger groups of people co-exist in adjacent space to form societies or cultures or movements. A society can consist of many diverse groups and interests, but something ties them together. Maybe it is shared history or traditions, or maybe it is just geographical boundaries. A country would fit in there, as would a religion, or a social movement.

Global domain - A whole planetary system is a global domain. That includes societies and whatever else exists on a planetary sphere, like other life forms. This includes concern for ecology and whatever else is needed to manage co-existence of diverse groups and species and resources within a closed system. Ours is planet Earth.

And we could continue and describe domains of a solar system, a galaxy, a universe, a multi-verse, and All-that-is. Which is interesting too, and gets a bit more meta-physical. And it could be done in various kinds of ways.

But the point I wanted to stress is that each of such domains or spheres of influence will work according to different rules. And there's a key principle there:

A problem that can't be solved in a certain domain can often be solved if we move up to a higher domain, with more degrees of freedom

It makes sense if you think about dimensions. These areas don't exactly match physical dimensions, but the principle is similar. If you live in a two-dimensional world, certain things can much better be sorted out in three dimensions. Like, two dimensional beings can't see what's inside two-dimensional constructs. But that's no problem at all for three-dimensional beings. E.g. you can easily look at a piece of paper and see everything on it, even stuff that's inside spheres or rectangles with no openings in them. Sounds elementary, but it wouldn't be for a flatlander living in the plane of the page. Same thing if you live in 3D. A 4D person who came along could very easily see and deal with things that you'd have trouble with. If you had swallowed a ballpoint pen, he could just grab it for you, without having to go through your skin. Just as easily as you could go and erase some of the contents written on the paper inside a circle, without breaching the outer rim of the circle. Elementary if you operate in a higher dimension.

OK, that was a little digression to explain that it works a little similar with the domains of life outlined above. If you add more degrees of freedom, often found in the next higher domain, things can be resolved that couldn't be resolved in the lower domain.

Take an individual. There are lots of things one might figure out all by oneself, by sitting thinking about it, by noticing what one feels like, or by putting order in one's stuff. But when one really gets stuck, one often can't. And the answer is usually to ask somebody else about it. Somebody else you know might come along, and have a very different perspective, or a skill or piece of knowledge you don't have. And you talk a little with them, or they help you, and your problem gets sorted out. Many problems that are unsolvable for an individual all by himself get easily solved by relations with other people.

There are certain mechanics that exist in any relation of two people. They can, for example, agree on something. They can listen to each other's views and wishes and then decide on a common agreement between them. And, most of the time, two reasonably sane people can work out something between them that is mutually satisfying. Even if they agree to disagree on some particular subject. These mechanics are, however, very different from the mechanics of what an individual all by himself would do. So if any of the two parties don't notice the different rules, and try to continue acting as only an individual, they might have difficulties getting along with other people.

Whereas a unit of two people will pretty much have to agree in order to get anywhere, a bigger group does not. A bigger group might have a shared agreement, but it is more like a framework and general intention, and it isn't usually required that everybody in the group agree with everybody else on everything. On the contrary, a group works in part because it has internal diversity, and different people take on different functions. Like in a company or in a family. Somebody does the dishes, somebody does the accounting, and it wouldn't really be desirable that we all do the same thing at the same time.

So, some of the problems of a two-person relationship can be sorted out with the help of a group. If I like sports and you don't, I can just go to a soccer match with my buddies and you can go to a dance class. Or, amongst the diverse abilities available in a group, we might find some that might help us out in various situations. If two people in the accounting department don't get along, one of them might go and work in another department instead.

If individuals or relationships or groups have serious problems doing the right thing or getting along, it falls upon a next higher sphere or a society or culture to sort it out. An individual will be assisted by people who know them. A couple might be assisted by people around them. If that fails, it might come to society. Legal recourse is a crude form of that. Somebody can come along and apply some general moral principles and cut through and decide matters. More generally, a higher domain offers more variety of constellations of people, some of which will transcend the problem at hand.

A group might have clear rules of how one becomes a member, and whether one belongs to the group or not. A society typically doesn't. If you're born in a certain country, you can't just be thrown out. So, the rules are different. Deciding who's in or out is no longer part of the tools of that domain.

If somebody tries to run a country like it is just a group, it won't work well. If you just try to make sure the right people are inside the country, and they all get with the program, and the bad people stay outside - it won't work well, because it is the wrong level, the wrong domain to operate in.

On the planetary domain, again, it is different rules. Quite obviously there, nobody can just be kicked out. There needs to be room for everybody, even for the people you don't like, even for the people and plants and animals that don't have economic value. And you can't just make a uniform culture that everybody must belong to. That's the wrong level. A mono-culture might work for a smallish group, but works badly for a large group or a society or a planet.

If humanity can not figure out how to operate well, somewhat harmoniously with the rest of life on the planet, the next higher domain will sort things out by itself. I.e. humankind might go extinct and life will go on without us. Because the mechanics of how life works is of a higher order than how politicians might choose to manage foreign relations and environmental policy.

So, to summarize, different domains in life work by different rules. If what is going on isn't working, it might be because somebody's applying rules from too low a level. Or it might be necessary to involve a higher level in getting things sorted out. If a problem can't be solved, you usually need more degrees of freedom, not fewer.


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20 comments

2 Jan 2004 @ 21:03 by maxtobin : Again another level could be
Cosmic civilization as the new way?  


3 Jan 2004 @ 08:58 by ming : Cosmic Civilization
Yeah, maybe we're playing too small. Maybe a bunch of things will fall into place if we recognize ourselves as citizens of a cosmic civilization.  


3 Jan 2004 @ 10:47 by Mike @138.88.65.14 : Zones
I've been using a similar concept, ripping off the 'Galactic Zones' idea from Vinge's _A Fire Upon the Deep_, turning it into an analogy, such as the numerous laws and regulations that thwart much direct exploration being like the 'Slow Zone'. One might simplify it to 'Gravity'. Both gravity and biology restrain our thoughts. Some astronauts report enhanced consciousness upon viewing the earth from orbit, perhaps it's the weightlessness, not the view?  


12 May 2011 @ 21:16 by Cocreatr @114.149.77.126 : Love the domain as dimension concept
It elegantly explains an important aspect of collective intelligence.  


12 May 2011 @ 21:38 by ming : Domain as Dimension
Thank you for reminding me of this one.  


12 May 2011 @ 22:01 by Vacilando @94.225.114.253 : Nature, not life
Lucid, well written; duly bookmarked! Only, from the standpoint of a higher domain, I guess the term "nature" would have worked better in the text than just "life".  


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