Book Reviews & Praise

For The Sacred Network 
(Inner Traditions, 2011)

“Few among us are willing to follow our thoughts and intuitions until they bloom with discovery. Chris Hardy has devoted her life to finding out what lies beyond the veil and bringing it back to us so that we might share in her vision. The Sacred Network is nothing less than fascinating.”

Linda Dennard, Ph.D., associate professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Auburn University and author of Complexity and Policy Analysis

“Chris Hardy is one of the most intrepid explorers of the frontiers of consciousness. The Sacred Network provides its readers with a blueprint for their development both as individuals and as members of the human species.”

Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., professor of psychology, Saybrook University, and coauthor of Personal Mythology

“Chris Hardy has been exploring the complex relationship between mind and matter over her entire career as a researcher and consciousness explorer. Now, with The Sacred Network, she’s provided the definitive work on ley lines and other physical locations of power and their relationship to the psyche.”

Robin Robertson, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, associate professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and author of Mining the Soul

“A scientist mind meets a visionary sage in author Chris Hardy. She foresees our individual souls weaving networks that will connect all over the world. One of the most creative and original books of our times.”

Allan Combs, professor of transformative studies, California Institute of Integral Studies, and coeditor of Thomas Berry, Dreamer of the Earth

“It’s a true art to travel beyond the veil and bring back coherent information for the rest of us to learn from and that will help us in our personal search for higher states of consciousness”

Rhasya Poe, Lotus Guide, July 2011

(Praeger, 1998)

Prof. Brian D. JOSEPHSON, Nobel laureate

Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 16:24:22 +0100
From: "Brian Josephson"
Subject: Re: semantic fields

Dear Christine,

I guess I've just managed to make your deadline, and fortunately I don't have any vast suggestions for changes!  As I was getting ready a MS for a conference (which you can read via my home page indicated below) when I got yours I thought I would avoid looking at yours till I'd finished my own, and read it on the journey to the US.  I've been too busy to write on my return till now.

Anyway, I liked the ideas in it and it seems to fit a lot of things nicely together into one framework.  It is also much easier to follow than what von Loucadou writes and is possibly more valid. 

I only put down a few comments, which I will try to locate now. (...)
At the Complex Systems conference itself I mentioned in a discussion that the concept of meaning could be relevant to complex systems and mentioned David Bohm's name, but got a poor reaction from the speaker.  Some other people were more sympathetic in discussions afterwards, however, and a group of people felt that complex systems were being treated in too rigid a manner.

With best wishes, and many thanks for sending me the book to look at,

 * * * * * * *      Prof. Brian D. Josephson
* Mind-Matter *   Cavendish Lab., Madingley Rd, Cambridge CB3 0HE, U.K.

Prof. Karl PRIBRAM

Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 15:19:03 -0400
From: "Karl H. Pribram"
Subject: Your Book

Dear Christine:

I liked your book very much.  You articulate the ideas therein in a clear and well-organized fashion.  I do have some comments that might be worth thinking about. 
First, a minor point. (...) Originally, when Gibson came up with the idea of affordances, it was the organism which was to afford the pattern.
Typically, Gibson shifted this emphasis to the environment, neglecting the ecological approach to what goes on within the organism to complete the story as you have done.

Second, you talk about a low-level connection dynamic.  I call this a deep structure taking place in the dendritic arborizations of the cortex in a quantum holographic or holonomic fashion.  I am sending along a paper on deep and surface structure of memory in case you don't have it already. 

Third, your SeCos and Eco-fields -- especially the latter -- correspond, it seems to me somewhat to the CNOS that Yasue, Jibu and I put forth in the Appendices to Brain and Perception.  Do you see any similarity?

Fourth, one of the problems I have with chaos theory is that with a positive Liaponov exponent, bifurcations unlimited lead to utter chaos.  I have argued this out with Prigogine on many occasions.  The solution, of course, is to have not only initial conditions but constraints operating throughout the process.  These constraints could be provided by our CNOS or your Eco-fields. 

Sixth, your notion of events as eventualities resonated with my own conceptions, as did so much of your book.  I am sending along another paper on this.  In addition, I will send along a few other such papers, for instance, on your idea of SeCos as healthy and unhealthy, etc.  This is enough for now.

Warmest best wishes,
Karl Pribram
Karl H. Pribram
Professor Emeritus, Stanford University.
James P. and Anna King Distinguished Professor
and Eminent Scholar, Commonwealth of Virginia.
Radford University: Center for Brain Research.
Date: Fri, 22 May 1998 14:23:13 -0400
From: "Karl H. Pribram"
Subject: Re: re-Your Book

Am sending another paper called "The Enigma of Reinforcement."  Events comes from ex-venire = out-come.  Thus events are "constructed" by our behavior in the world -- as you indicate.

Karl Pribram


Date: Sat, 16 Aug 1997 09:21:51 -0700
From: "F. E. Robertson"    Subject: semantic fields

Dear Chris,

In exploring Psi-Explorer, I came upon your semantic fields concept, which I found fascinating. Would you mind sending me your World Futures article on this (and anything else in English if there is more)?

Robin Robertson

Date: Fri, 05 Sep 1997 14:06:26 -0700
From: "F. E. Robertson"    Subject: semantic fields

Dear Chris,

I've read your two papers on semantic fields now and wish I had the whole book. I'm very impressed; I think this is an important new model of reality that has a lot of recommend it.

Like all good models, it both explains a great deal of unusual circumstances that don't fit well into existing models, and it brings up a great deal of possibilities for further investigation. Lots of ideas are occuring to me, but are still in the inchoate stage.

The model itself is quite simple to grasp, which is a mark of a good model. It's a field model, which is good, for which you use a lattice as an approximation. Though you present two types of semantic fields, (1) noo (I'm dense; where does that come from?) and (2) eco. Wouldn't you imagine that those are actually the two limit points and there is a whole continuum of fields in between with more or less self-organization? I know Teilhard de Chardin seems pretty ancient these days, but a spectrum of consciousness still seems a valuable starting point for me, and it fits well with your model.
I really do think the semantic field model is a very important one that deserves a wide audience.

Date: Mon, 27 Jul 1998
From: "F. E. Robertson"

Chris Hardy wrote:
> Robin,
> I'm glad you liked the chapters I sent you. Synchronicity was an easy win-over given your predilection for the subject.
They really are excellent. I hate to suggest more work for you, but after you get through with the publication of this book for a more technical audience, I would really consider going back through the same material and writing it at the level I normally do, for a general audience. I think it deserves both the technical respect and a wider audience. Of course, that means a whole lot of rewriting and you may not be willing to do that. But I think the material is that good and you write really well.

Professor of Psychology, Saybrook Institute

Date: Mon, 22 Sep 1997 04:49:52 -0700 (PDT)
From: Stanley Krippner
Subject: book

I read your new book on the way back from Russia and Lithuania. I made several notes, and found the work impressive! It is also very original, with many new and provocative ideas. I have 400 emails to answer and tons of work to do, but will give you more feedback when I can.
Stan Krippner.

Date: Sun, 28 Sep 1997 11:41:56 -0700 (PDT)
From: Stanley Krippner Subject: your book

I finally got around to writing down some of my reactions to your book.  I am sending them airmail.
I found your model refreshing and challenging. I look forward to citing it after the books gets published.
(Yes, I have made a few pre-publication suggestions so hope it is not too late for you to consider them.) Stan.
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 20:36:43 -0800 (PST)
From: Stanley Krippner
Subject: Re:  answer to your feedback

I want to use your work in a short article on myth that Chris Ryan and I are writing, so you may hear from him (he is in Barcelona).
I am just back from Brazil so have 299 more emails to answer. But I enjoyed your stimulating response. Warmly, Stan.


Date: Sat, 25 Oct 1997 10:54:26 -0400 (EDT)
From: Allan L Combs Subject: your book

Hi Christine,

I found the latter chapters of your book particularly fascinating, as it puts your thinking to work in some surprising and powerfully descriptive (and theoretic) directions in a larger field of reality. The whole area of parapsychology, for example, has been desperate for anything like a global theory, and you may just have created one. I especially enjoyed your treatment of synchronicity. I believe you could do an excellent paper on this alone.



From: "Emilios Bouratinos" Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998
Subject: Re: Networks of meaning

Dear Christine,

I feel really honoured to have received the new materials you sent me from your book.  I remember how fascinating your ideas had appeared when you talked about them at some length during the summer of 1997. 
However, the end product exceeds my wildest expectations!  This is not only a first class piece of scholarship.  It embodys a tour-de-force on the level of thought and epistemology.  I cannot congratulate you enough for your achievement.  I follow the consciousness scene pretty closely.
Nothing has appeared that is quite as profound, novel, thought-provoking and comprehensive as your text.


Allan Combs, PhD.   Book Review for the Journal: Nonlinear Dynamics in Psychology and Life Sciences,
Accepted for publication by Steve Guastello, Editor in chief.
(already published in SCTPLS Newsletter)

Networks of Meaning, By Christine Hardy, PhD 

While a few prominent linguists such as Alfred Korzybski and Benjamin Whorf have deeply influenced our understanding of meaning and language, surprisingly few psychologists have taken the study of meaning (semantics) as the foundation on which to build a working theory of the mind. It is possible that Edward Tolman might have done so were he born into a less pragmatic age, and certainly many contemporary theories of thought and memory rely heavily on various conceptions of word meaning. But an entire theory of mind! That is something different. This omission is surprising when one thinks about the fact that language and the thought process which it informs is steeped in meaning, and indeed would be vacuous without it.
And yet, there it is¾no theory of the mind based squarely on an examination of meaning itself. Christine Hardy's book is a welcome corrective to this situation. In it she gives us a rich and broad semantic psychology that unfolds into a penetrating examination of consciousness itself. The result bridges the gap between traditional cognitive psychology with its schemas and semantic networks, and the modern process-oriented approach of the sciences of complexity. The book may well be the first step to an entirely new and deeply human understanding of the mind.

The cornerstone of Hardy's approach is an application of dynamical systems thinking to semantics. The result leaves no doubt as to the utility of chaos theory and dynamical systems thinking beyond the traditionally technical fields in psychology and the brain sciences. Moreover, the parallels between many of the ideas in this book and those found in other recent chaos theory informed works inspire confidence that an entire new understanding of the mind is in the making.

Hardy starts very simply, introducing basic concepts one at a time, then she sets them in motion to create an entire system. She begins with the basic notion of a concept, which she identifies as a complex semantic entity comprised of a dynamic constellation of meanings.
In the classical cognitive approach, concepts have been first equated with definitions, later described through a “family resemblance” model, and finally associated with propositional networks. The latter approach has been useful for explaining such phenomena as priming, and contextual effects on verbal behavior; but within this framework concepts themselves tend to remain frozen, in terms of their meaning.
Hardy, on the other hand, while affirming the importance of connections between concepts, emphasizes their dynamic transformation over time, commenting for example that they “are subject to modifications¾merging, splitting, expansions, distortions, drastic mutations,” and so on. This fluid view of concepts gives rise to Hardy's definition of thinking as the process of modifying concepts.
The identity of a concept depends upon its significations, while its linkages with other concepts and mental events (perception, emotions, memories, etc.) are subject to constant change and evolution. The fluid complexity of this situation leads to the most central idea in Hardy's thinking, the semantic constellation. This is an entire ensemble of linked semantic elements organized around a core meaning¾a knot of related concepts, internal images, sensations, gestures, moods, behaviors, and so on. The semantic constellation is a self-organizing dynamical system that is, in fact, the most basic unit of our mental lives. Hardy proposes that these semantic constellations are unique to the individual, but are influenced by culture. Holistically speaking, an individual's cognitive structure is comprised of an entire matrix of major semantic constellations, which Hardy terms the semantic lattice. This lattice normally evolves and complexifies, though in some instances certain semantic constellations may become closed and frozen. Hardy observes that “we find ourselves in a multidimensional universe where every entity is enveloped and enveloping, influencing and being influenced.”

All of the above is introduced in the first chapter of the book. From there Hardy moves to a review of the major contemporary views of the brain  and the mind with an eye to gaining a better understanding of the latter. She concludes, along with many others today, that the subjective sense of a unified self is largely illusory. She notes that the flow of the mental life is complex, nonlinear, and organized through synergistic dynamics between semantic constellations. Thought involves not only the conscious flow of mental events, but pre- and non-conscious processes that play important roles in cognitive outcomes.
Reminiscent of Goertzel and Combs' work, Hardy develops the notion of a state of consciousness as a specific cluster of psychological processes and content, making reference to Charles Tart's (1975) classic formulation of a state of consciousness as a system involving a particular pattern of psychological functions such as memory, reasoning, sense of self, body sense, sense of time, etc.

Hardy continues to explore these ideas of a modular achitecture in Chapter 3 on the Mind's Architecture. She first examines Bernard Baars' (1997) global workspace hypothesis in some detail. She finds it to be useful but essentially “data driven,” by which she means that it does not well accommodate mental control processes or generativity. Here she also argues that traditional algorithmic symbol-manipulation models are also inadequate for explaining the evolving and creative complexity of the living human mind. She then proposes a nested-networks architecture based on semantic constellations which exhibit the self-organizing properties of dynamical systems.

Chapter 4, dedicated to the mind's dynamics, proposes that the mind's basic, underlying functioning is a connective process, embodied in the semantic constellations' network architecture. There are thus two interlaced levels of mental functioning: a high-level logical and rational thinking process, and a low-level connective architecture and dynamics, instantiated in the semantic constellations.
The concept of a transversal mental-neural network is introduced here¾whereby semantic networks branch into neuronal networks in a distributed, parallel and dynamical fashion. Hardy develops the idea that semantic linkages (forming the connective process) are based upon a wide variety of connections such as contiguity, metaphor, analogy, contradiction, differentiation, sets and subsets, and more. Such linkages are made spontaneously during ongoing experience, and activated by perceptual input or by intention. Some are largely unconscious. Conscious events can set off cascades of unconscious associations which return, changed, as consciousness events again. One example of this is the incubation period often associated with creative intuition; but simple priming effects in the laboratory are less exotic examples.

In the next chapter, Hardy applies her theory to learning, which she views as essentially a connective process giving birth to new semantic constellations. Learning, she suggests, is the creation of structured links between various elements; these range from higher level processes to low level ones, whereby sensations, gestures, feelings, words, concepts and propositions are tied together in unique ways.

In chapter 6, Hardy begins to disclose the larger richness of her thinking. She introduces the idea that semantic constellations can be understood as attractors. These begin to form whenever an initial concept “is able to generate or pull in new links, coherent with itself.” Such attractors are dynamic forces in the psyche. For example, two attractors can compete with each other, resulting in cognitive dissonance. The outcome may be the merging of two attractors, the absorption of one into the other, or even a continued separate consolidation of each of them. In all of this, Hardy emphasizes the dynamic character of semantic constellation attractors, subject to evolutionary growth, bifurcations, and complexification.

Here I feel compelled to comment on the similarity of thinking of Hardy's work with that of Ben Geortzel (1994), George Kampis (1991), and myself (Combs, 1996), none of which she had contact with, or were available to her in France at the time she developed her theory. Geortzel uses a computational approach, conceptualizing the mind in terms of attractor dynamics, and emphasizing the competitive nature of attractors, that very much resembles Hardy's semantic constellations. Combs' uses a stream of consciousness approach, modeled after William James' descriptions of the mind and stressing the role of attractors as process patterns comprised of mental elements such as memory, thought, and emotion. Both were influenced by Kampis' profound theoretical exploration of the creative events that occur in the interactions of separate elements in complex systems in process.

Proceeding to Chapter 7, we enter the second part of the book, dedicated to the relationship of the mind with its physical, and then social, environment.  Hardy reviews several prominent approaches to perception, including the classic computational approach with its emphasis on internal representations, and the opposite Gibsonian view with its emphasis on affordances. Hardy tends to favor¾and rightly according to the present reviewer¾Francisco Varela's enaction theory (Varela, Thompson, & Rosch, 1991), according to which mind comes into being in the very interaction of the organism with its environment. This approach is both process oriented and emphasizes the dynamical interaction of the organism with its world. Hardy concludes, however, that while this approach is very effective at the sensory-motor level, it does not seem adequate to higher mental capacities. Nor does it sufficiently take into account cultural influences. Instead, she shows that the generation of meaning stems from the continuous interplay between an endo-context (the semantic constellations), and an exo-context (meaningful environment).

The next chapter presents quantum theory concepts relevant to her theory, such as nonlocality and the role of the observer, as well as recent quantum models of cognition. Here again she finds that the theories, though fascinating in their own right, do not provide a working model adequate to the understanding of a complex cognitive agent functioning in a social environment.
In Chapters nine and ten Hardy attempts to overcome the drawbacks of the above approaches by launching a more thoroughly semantic attack on the understanding of the mind as it functions in the social and objective world.
She does so by viewing the external objects that are experienced by an individual in terms of their meaning to that person. Each of these objects¾which can be anything, from another individual to a work of art¾forms a network of meaning, which she terms the eco-semantic field. The individual injects meaning into this field, which in turn returns (“retrojects”) its meaningful aspects back to the individual, interacting with his or her semantic constellations. A complete system of meaning comes into being through semantic exchanges between the individual and his or her personal environment. This view is in line with Varela's insights, above, but highlights the semantic environment of the human being, rather than the sensori-motor one. It is through the exchanges between the inside semantic constellations and the outside eco-semantic fields that meaning arises and evolves, and that social influences come into existence.
The above interaction is viewed as active and dynamic in nature, the individual influencing the (semantic) environment in many ways, and the environment influencing the individual in turn.
Expanding this, Hardy proceeds to view events as semantic constellations; she suggests that the mental conceptualization of an event may be the first small but significant step in setting it into motion.
Mutual interactions of individuals with the environment are the bases for the creation of culture. Hardy's concept of eco-fields is not limited to material objects, however, but also includes Poppers World 3, which includes cultural knowledge such as the story of the Odyssey (beyond the ink and the paper upon which it is written) and mathematical truths that are “discovered” (not invented) by the human mind.

Chapter eleven explores possibilities of Hardy's theory beyond the limits of ordinary material science, ranging into areas typically treated only in psi research. I enjoin the reader to stay with her here. She has an excellent background as a researcher into unusual states of consciousness and psi, and her partner, Mario Varvoglis, is one of the leading psi researchers in the world. Her discussion is well informed and supported at every step by empirical observation. Here Hardy explores the nature of synchronicity as proposed by Carl Jung, which emphasizes the confluence of inner and outer events of connected meaning, but beyond ordinary notions of causality. Her ideas concerning the eco-semantic field in interaction with conscious and unconscious aspects of the individual's semantic constellations make impressive sense out of this enigmatic phenomena, not entirely clear even in Jung's own writings.
Finally, Hardy considers the possibility of shared or collective consciousness. Here her thought follows along similar lines with that of Rupert Sheldrake (1988) and Ervin Laszlo (1996), suggesting that individuals can share elements of a common experience at a distance. Like those authors, she invokes the example of scientists working  independently in different parts of the world on related projects, but benefiting from a certain mutual but unconscious participation¾such that ideas developed by any one of them become more accessible to the others. As Laszlo has pointed out previously, the possibility of such subtle connections between individuals places increased responsibility on all of us, not only for our actions but for the very content of our private inner lives.

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