The curious case of ideological belief is evidence enough that information systems and conceptual abstractions seek continuity and self-propagation through the human beings that adhere to these conceptual abstractions. Not only this, but beyond some improbably convoluted and confusing circumstance in which all systems of belief are in some peculiar macroscopic superposition and are all simultaneously correct, the One and Only Truth remains eternally elusive.
Instances of amygdala hijack are notorious. Having been exposed to (or enculturated by) strong appeals to emotion and visceral instinct, the human brain just can’t help itself and finds that enthusiastic replication of thought pattern, cognitive method and narrative is utterly irresistible. The abstractions of information that manifest as cultural, political and (variegated other) ideological belief systems have spent many thousands of years being refined and selected-for in an evolutionary sense. A symbiotic interdependence is particularly strong for a narrative creature that both defines itself and structures its reality around a delicate linear thread of information and procedural logic. Having been spirited away by the hypnotic narcosis and essential reflexive narcissism of narrative fascination, we are all so readily eager to surrender to a Stockholm Syndrome of adoration for our (very abstract) captors.
All human cognition, communication and community manifests through (and as) these complex tapestries of cognitive grammar and narrative meaning. We are so deeply intertwined and interdependent with (and defined by) our stories that in some cases people are willing to sacrifice their own lives for these symbolic abstractions. What a strange world this is where immaterial abstractions of symbolic meaning can lead people to all manner of terminal, illogical belief or irrational commitment. Such actions are behavioural assertions of identity and belief – it must be said – that provide continuity to the logic and cultural or cognitive information patterns at the cost of only a single node in their transmission mechanism; it is not difficult to discern that it is the patterned abstraction that wins here but it is the individual that feels empowered to act – an enigma!
Returning to the topic of there being no sense in which superpositions of abstract states of belief can reflect a scenario in which multiple contradictory truths are simultaneously verifiable, it seems very much that dissonance and aggressive disagreement as to the nature of truth is another method by which abstractions of patterned information successfully self-propagate. Rather than think of this as any kind of situation where conflicting ideological beliefs and conceptual abstractions will eventually resolve to a single indisputable truth, it is more useful to consider this an autonomous method by which emergent complexity self-propagates most efficiently through dissonance. Being that information and energy-processing systems have an autonomously-emergent orientation towards seeking algorithmically-optimal efficiencies of pattern encoding and encryption (and, perhaps, obfuscation), and further – it being a fact that the progressive metamorphosis of patterned concepts, cultures and technologies is rarely as rapid as when they are threatened (i.e. insecure) or in direct adversarial conflict, it is very likely an emergent and optimal solution for systems of thought, belief and faith to remain intractably dissonant with one another.
Not only does such dissonance provide a method for the exploratory and recombinatory development of new patterns and logical encodings, but it provides the entire (gestalt, holistic) orchestration of belief systems a method of global self-replication and accelerated development. A little like a sporting tournament in which the crucial factor is not the winning or losing of games so much as it is the persistent continuity and validation of a logic and grammatical rules-set of difference and competition. It is as though the individuation of a belief system, a person, a tribe or pretty much any discrete information and energy pattern as manifest at human scales can only continue to generate self-validation and continuity (of increasing complexity) when it is actively defining itself in contradistinction to something, or someone, else. Encountering external difference as entropy and novelty, each system of symbolic abstractions receives a boost to internal complexity and the whole rich, rippling interplay of resonance and dissonance generates the change and metamorphosis that allows the gestalt system of ideological abstractions to self-propagate.
This is a Gordian Knot. It is also completely autonomous to the extent that I am beginning to wonder what role or substantive effect our own decisions and free will can ever have. The moving world, having spawned ideological abstractions, moves on and this particular state of affairs may also find itself subject to the mischievously recursive logic of an Entscheidungsproblem.