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Meta-metaphor as illustrated by Fibonacci spiral construction


Adaptive Hypercycle of Sustainable Psychosocial Self-organization (Part #7)


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Of special relevance to any preoccupation with comprehension and governance of complex psychosocial system dynamics is the way in which construction of the Fibonacci spiral is itself an illustrative exercise about:

  • isomorphism: namely the structural relationship between a system understood at one stage or level and as understood at another. In this sense it illustrates a central preoccupation of general systems theory -- if only as it determines human capacity to comprehend systems and impose an order on them (see also recent aguments of Jean Chaline, Laurent Nottale and Pierre Grou (Des fleurs pour Schrödinger : la relativité d'échelle et ses applications, 2009; Laurent Nottale and Charles Auffray. Scale relativity theory and integrative systems biology: 2 Macroscopic quantum-type mechanics, 2008)
  • scaling of systems: as implied by the pattern of isomorphism and the common use of the conch shell to illustrate the Fibonacci pattern and its ubiquity in nature
  • metaphoric relation between tenor and vehicle -- as a succession evident at any stage in the sequence of construction (discussed below)

It might be argued that the Fibonacci pattern is an archetypal metaphor -- a metaphor about metaphor, or better still about metaphor development from what has previously been developed as a cultural or cognitive artefact, namely metaphors building on constructs transformed into metaphors.

Given the widespread use of the conch shell as an illustration of the Fibonacci pattern, human understanding might then be understood as developing in "conch-shell mode". Appropriately Saroj Kumar Rath and P. C. Naik explore this from the perspective of its use as a musical instrument, notably used by priesthoods down the centuries (Fibonacci Structure in Conch Shell, Current Science, 2005). It is appropriate to note that Fibonacci numbers were first recognized in the work of the Sanskrit grammarian Pingala on the Art of Prosody. Prosody is the metre or basic rhythmic structure of verse in poetry, or the manner in which a composer assigns syllables to notes in the melody to which the text is sung -- both being important in ancient Indian ritual because of the emphasis on purity of utterance.


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