for Sake

And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life [psyche] will lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life [psyche] for my sake [ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ], he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

Luke 9:23-5 (RSV)

Is his sake like your sake, or my sake, or God’s sake? What is a sake anyway? Are there any synonyms for that word? Where did it come from?

It came into English originally “for God’s sake,” according to the online etymological dictionary (consulted 25 March 2018):
{sake (n.1): “purpose,” Old English sacu “a cause at law, crime, dispute, guilt,” from Proto-Germanic *sako “affair, thing, charge, accusation” (source also of Old Norse sök “charge, lawsuit, effect, cause,” Old Frisian seke “strife, dispute, matter, thing,” Dutch zaak “lawsuit, cause, sake, thing,” German Sache “thing, matter, affair, cause”), from PIE root *sag- “to investigate, seek out” (source also of Old English secan, Gothic sokjan “to seek;” see seek).
Much of the word’s original meaning has been taken over by case (n.1), cause (n.), and it survives largely in phrases for the sake of (early 13c.) and for _______’s sake (c. 1300, originally for God’s sake), both probably are from Norse, as these forms have not been found in Old English.}
So we trace it back to a Proto-Indo-European root *sag- (which, as the asterisk signifies, is our best guess at what the original prehistoric form would have been, working back from the actually attested forms).

Who is the one ‘for whose sake heaven and earth came into being’? Was or is the primal person a seeker for his sake? Is there a primal cause, or purpose, or crime? Who is trying this case?

The answer is always there, but people need the question to bring it out.

— Thomas Cleary (1995, 164)

Selfies

Some spiritual traditions regard the ultimate reality as the Self. Others regard the Self as an illusion. The correctness of each view is self-evident.

This sentence contradicts itself—or rather—well, no, actually it doesn’t!

— Douglas Hofstadter (1985, 7)

Homage to Uexküll

We owe the concept of Umwelt to Jakob von Uexküll. In a 1934 paper he introduced it to the reader as follows:

This little monograph does not claim to point the way to a new science. Perhaps it should be called a stroll into unfamiliar worlds; worlds strange to us but known to other creatures, manifold and varied as the animals themselves. The best time to set out on such an adventure is on a sunny day. The place, a flower-strewn meadow, humming with insects, fluttering with butterflies. Here we may glimpse the worlds of the lowly dwellers of the meadow. To do so, we must first blow, in fancy, a soap bubble around each creature to represent its own world, filled with the perceptions which it alone knows. When we ourselves then step into one of these bubbles, the familiar meadow is transformed. Many of its colorful features disappear, others no longer belong together but appear in new relationships. A new world comes into being. Through the bubble we see the world of the burrowing worm, of the butterfly, or of the field mouse; the world as it appears to the animals themselves, not as it appears to us. This we may call the phenomenal world or the self-world of the animal.

We thus unlock the gates that lead to other realms, for all that a subject perceives becomes his perceptual world and all that he does, his effector world. Perceptual and effector worlds together form a closed unit, the Umwelt.

— Uexküll, in Favareau 2009, 90-91 (translated by Barry Stone and Herbert Weiner)

Uexküll’s ‘soap bubble’ is a precursor of the perceptual or ‘cognitive bubble’ introduced in Chapter 6 of Turning Signs. The closure of ‘perceptual’ and ‘effector worlds’ is a version of the meaning cycle concept.

Watch yourself

A trustworthy guidance system must include some self-monitoring as part of its reality and source monitoring. This is necessary not only for consciousness but also for creativity, in order to prevent getting into endless loops or mindless ruts (Hofstadter 1995, 311; Sloman and Chrisley in Holland 2003, 157). ‘Jumping out of the loop’ is an aspect of resurrection, arising, revelation, recreation out of dead routine. Continue reading Watch yourself