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The Space of Representation in the Non Violent Revolution Psychology of New Humanism Silvia Swinden. Presentation based on a chapter of my book From Monkey Sapiens to Homo Intentional, The Phenomenology of the Non Violent Revolution. London Oct-06. Introduction.

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the space of representation in the non violent revolution psychology of new humanism silvia swinden

The Space of Representation in the Non Violent RevolutionPsychology of New HumanismSilvia Swinden


Presentation based on a chapter of my book From Monkey Sapiens to Homo Intentional, The Phenomenology of the Non Violent Revolution




The development of the concept of Space of Representation is one of the most original and revolutionary contributions that Silo has made in the field of Psychology
  • It can help us understand the fallacy of trying to produce social changes without producing deep changes in ourselves (and vice versa)
  • E.g.: Both the French as the Bolshevik Revolutions tried to alter the social order but the scheme of power already imprinted in people reproduced itself in the new order. Some went as far as to declare such order “natural” (Adam Smith and others)
  • In our days many still speak of a supposed “Human Nature”, fixed and unchangeable (aggression, greed, selfishness, hierarchies), denying that the only natural thing in the Human being is the capacity to choose and to change
description of the space of representation
Description of the space of representation
  • With eyes closed :
  • We perceive a three-dimensional space,
  • we can represent our hand moving in all directions
  • we can represent images that originate in anyone of the external or internal senses.
When we open our eyes, it looks as if this space disappears and that we see the “real” world
  • but it is still possible to imagine that there is “something” behind a door, so real that it can produce fear

We can also “see” in others intentions, moods, etc. that are just in our imagination

and although in theory this space ends where our body ends, we can represent in it the whole universe

the s of r is not an empty container
The S of R is not an empty container
  • Rather it is the representation of the space associated to the contents of our consciousness
  • In our habitual state of wakefulness we perceive mainly the space that surrounds us
  • This gives the “form” to the S of R
  • For that reason we register different sensations when we are sitting inside an igloo or in a cathedral
neither is it a passive container
Neither is it a passive container
  • It is the ambit where the consciousness carries out many of its operations, all those related to images
  • Husserl (phenomenological school), had already stated that our consciousness, always consciousness of something, is not a simple container of psychic “facts”, neither is it a mirror that passively reflects, or deforms, the external reality; our consciousness is intentional, active, and it possesses its own way of structuring sensations and of building “realities” (Intentionality)
  • Silo: “Human Beings are historical beings whose form of social action changes their own nature”: Intentionality is seen in this way as the means to go from determinism towards freedom
the space of representation s contents
The Space of Representation’s contents

1. Translation of impulses from the inner-body

  • Stomach acidity can appear represented in a dream as fire,
  • and when we feel thirsty the image of a bottle of water appears
2. Our psychological world and the times of the consciousness
  • Memories from the past, present sensations
  • and images of the future, aspirations, fears, values, etc.
3. The physical world
  • The space of representation appears illuminated “at the top” and darker “at the bottom”.
  • When navigating in it we find images of the high, medium and low spaces that are translations of sensations,
  • allegorised and positioned according to data from memory, that correspond to our experiences of the “real” physical world
4. The social world

The class system

social values,

our heroes and villains,

the power structures, etc.

5. The spiritual world
  • God(s), angels, guides, the Light, “above.”
  • Malicious spirits, devils, hell, “below.”
ancient china
Ancient China
  • Here is a “map” related to the circulation of energy used in the Tao and Qigong
  • They called it “internal landscape”
the inner look in the social world
“…because all representations of the “heights” extend from eye level upward, above the normal line of sight.

And the “higher-ups” are those who “possess” kindness, wisdom, and strength.

There, in the “heights” above, we also find the hierarchies, the powers that be, and the flags of State.

And we, ordinary mortals, must at all costs “ascend” the social ladder in order to draw closer to power.

What a sorry state we are in, still governed by these mechanisms, which coincide with our internal representation

in which our heads are in the “heights” and our feet stuck on the ground.

What an un­happy state we are in, when we believe in these things, and believe in them because they have their own “reality” in our internal representation.

What a sorry state we are in, when our external look is nothing but an un-acknowledged projection of the internal.

Humanise the Earth, Silo

The inner look in the social world
the inhabitants of one area lend each other attributes

Gods, angels, kings, movie “stars”, pop “ídols”, the aristocracy, etc.

Demons, “dark motives”, the “id”, deshumanización

The inhabitants of one area “lend” each other attributes
  • This very British game of Snakes and Ladders reminds us of the biblical allegory of Man’s “fall” due to the snake
images in the s of r
Images in the S of R
  • Substratum of the representation, which may come from anyone of the external or internal senses
  • Sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell
  • Coenaesthesia, kinaesthesia, etc
  • Images connect the internal and external spaces (Perception/Representation) and transfer energy charges. Without images there is no action (*)
  • They produce tensions, relaxations and adjustments, both related to changes in the images (conversion of images), and to changes in their position in the space of representation (e.g myths and fairy tales: Beauty & the Beast, the Frog/Prince and Cinderella)
  • (See Psychology of the image, Contributions to Thought, by Silo)
without images there is no action
Hunger: there is no movement

Image: sandwich in the fridge

The body, moved by the image, goes toward the sandwich

Resolved need

Something similar happens with the social world

Violence, dehumanisation, injustice, non-meaning

Image of a better world (Ideals, Utopias, Dreams)

The impulse of wanting to escape suffering is not enough, we need an image of something better to go towards.

On the other hand Pragmatism goes with what is already given

Working for change

(a little slower and more and complicated than the thing with the sandwich)

A Humanised world

(*) Without images there is no action
mobility of images in the s of r e g cyrano of bergerac
Mobility of images in the S of R. E.g.: Cyrano of Bergerac
  • He wrote science fiction in the XVII century
  • In his trip to the moon he finds that its inhabitants measure their intelligence by the length of their noses
  • They also point them to the sun and look at the time on their teeth
  • Cyrano improves de value of his (ugly) nose by placing it in the high plane of his S of R and connecting it to the sun and intelligence
and the conversion of images
and the conversion of images
  • The students of magic are made to face the Boggart, a being capable of embodying their worst fears
  • They are taught to transform those images by ridiculing them
  • For example, a huge spider gets rolling skates added to all its legs so it becomes completely destabilised
  • A threatening looking male teacher is dressed as a woman
  • See: Conversion of images, Relaxation Course, Self liberation, by Luis Amann
the s of r and language
All human activity:

religion and morality,

one’s career, psychology,

politics, the social classes,

the economy, trade unions,

art, education, etc.

have their correlate in the Space of Representation

Change is not possible without an internal, intentional, change of the images that move us

To get to the “top”

Movie “stars”

The “upper” Class

The “gurus” of the “free” market economy

The rock “idols”

“Elevated” aspirations

The “decadence”

The “fallen” woman

Those “base” instincts

The “depths” of depression

The “lowers” Class

The “bottom” of the mind

The S of R and language
money as the central value in the free market economy
Money as the central value in the “Free” Market Economy
  • “I know that the money can't buy me happiness but I like the way it manages to imitate it”
  • (Manolito, character of “Mafalda”, by Quino)
  • “I only ask for the opportunity to prove that money cannot make me happy”
  • (Spike Milligan, British comedian)
  • According to the Neoliberal dogma wealth accumulates “at the top”: concentration in the hands of the more “capable” (social Darwinism, zoological vision of the Human Being) and from there it should “trickle down” for everybody else’s benefit
in reality
In Reality
  • Wealth remains “at the top” through speculation, concentration, “vulture funds” (*), investment in objects that confer status and access to “famous” or “important” people's company
  • For those waiting in vain “for the trickle down” wealth must appear as the first element capable of defying gravity! ; -)
  • * Vultures Funds from “developed” countries buy the debts that poor countries cannot repay, e.g., to the IMF, and sue them in courts in the USA, the United Kingdom and France (with specialised lawyers that earn millions), the payments come out of loans for development

Geographically “up” and “down” also correspond approximately to the situation of the countries of the G8 and the poor countries of the southern hemisphere

  • Mafalda turns the World upside down
  • So that Argentina, in the southern hemisphere, does not appear “down”
  • Which she identifies with being “underdeveloped”
  • This is an interesting exercise of Mobility of Images for change in social and political schemes
religions and the s of r
Patriarchal and Hierarchical Religions, Middle Ages view

Cult of Mother Earth and Nature

Religions and the S of R




Flatter hierarchies and a more friendly attitude towards sex and the body





images and levels of consciousness

Maximum suggestibility

Impulses are translated to protect the level

Eg: tingling in an arm due to bad position is translated as an image of insects that make us change the position of the arm without waking up


High sugestibilidad

Compensatory dreams

Those without a home fantasise about palaces, and the hungry dream of banquets

Ideal level for sexual activity


Level for work or study

Low suggestibility

Attention to the object

Consciousness of self

Maximum attention and intentional level

Attention both to the object

and to the mechanisms of consciousness in action

I realise I am observing this or that object and that I react in this or that way, which allows me to carry out intentional changes in the way I look

Images and Levels of Consciousness


Vote for me, I shall make your dreams come true

  • Advertising tries to bring us into semi-sleep with sexual images or what will make the announcement more “sexy” (power, pleasure, freedom, wealth, youth, even spiritual objects of consumption!) to increase its sugestibilidad
  • This is now also the case for politics since parties hire for their campaigns advertising agencies and “spin doctors” that build an image of what we should believe to be reality (like in the film “The Matrix”)
  • To differentiate Information from Propaganda we should elevate our level of consciousness
reality and belief
The brain reacts more to what it believes to be reality

than to the stimuli presented to the senses.

If, for instance, a black and white image is presented to the eyes

and the subject is hypnotised, so that he/she believes that it is an image in colour,

the part of the brain that is "illuminated” (the area that perceives the sensation) in a very sensitive scan

is the one related to the perception of colour

“Reality” and Belief
  • The placebo effect can be very powerful, it can even produce side effects
  • It has to do with the cultural meaning of the treatment (Beliefs = the more information, the smaller the effect!).
  • Four placebo pills are more effective than two to eradicate gastric ulcers
  • The injection of a saline solution is more effective in treating pain than sugar pills, due to being a more dramatic intervention.
  • The most powerful placebos are:
  • the tiniest pill (which suggests a very potent drug)
  • or the biggest (suggests a large quantity of drug)
  • The colour of the pill also changes the power of the placebo and the type of action, according to the illness
self image believes about oneself
Self Image (Believes about oneself)
  • A lack of self-esteem appears consistently in psychological studies among the roots of violent behaviour
  • Jane Elliot, a teacher in USA, demonstrated with her experiment “Blue eyes and brown eyes” that discrimination leads to a low self-esteem and that this affects the students' capacity and performance
  • She destroyed in this way the racist myth of differences in IQ among different ethnic groups (she was inspired by ML King)
  • And confirmed that encouragement is better than criticism both at schools and at home
the belief that the oppressor s destruction produces social change resentment and vengeance
The belief that the oppressor's destruction produces social change (resentment and vengeance)…
  • E.g.: The Spanish Civil War song: “When will the day come that the omelette turns upside down, that poor people eat bread and the rich eat shit”
  • E.g.: The French revolution (again)

…generates more violence, dehumanisation (civilian’s deaths referred to as “collateral damage”) and the powerful becoming stronger

the renaissance a revolution almost without violence
The RenaissanceA revolution (almost) without violence
  • Changes in the Human Being's position in relation to God, Nature, the Universe, political and religious power, science and knowledge, etc,
  • Together with changes in the relative position of the sun, the earth and the planets, even for some, the shape of the planet
  • allowed a deeper renovation than anyone achieved through acts of violence
  • The Renaissance created a "human" look, by means of the arts (Leonardo, Michelangelo) a new religiosity (Erasmus, Bruno), the study of the humanities (Petrarca) and sciences (Bacon, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler) emerging from the human being's medieval concept of being-for-God. (Pico de la Mirandola)
the space of representation in the non violent revolution



The space of representation in the non-violent revolution
  • A change in the relative location in our minds, in education, in TV and at home, to make the Human being, and not money, or power, the central value

“Nothing above the Human being, and no Human being above (or bellow) another”. Silo

the other
The “Other”
  • In Charity and NGOs work the “donor” is often positioned above the “recipient”
  • The image of those in need can be dehumanising (e.g., extreme poverty, malnutrition, AIDS), and this also puts them in a different positioning in the S of R
  • Recognising the Intentionality of the Other puts us in the same plane, in a relationship of co-operation and reciprocity
the psychology of new humanism
The Psychology of New Humanism
  • Contributes to the non-violent revolution by making us more aware of the register of other people's pain created in us by the image in our S of R of what is happening to them, which is acting on our own body
  • The Human being of the future will rebel against violence not just as “an idea” but rather they will feel physical revulsion in front of it
  • Exactly the opposite of violence as entertainment (dehumanisation), from the Roman Circus to the video game
  • It doesn't require that anybody puts him/herself above or below another (as when we ask for forgiveness (*)
  • It contemplates the “enemy” as a being with hopes and frustrations, just like us
  • It opens the future toward non-violent conflict resolution and toward a society for all, without resentment or justification of violence for the sake of revenge
  • We have the tools effect this reconciliation by means of the work with images in the S of R, with education for Non-violence and promoting social justice

* Reconciliation as a profound spiritual experience, Silo, Punta de Vacas 5/5/07


You are here

The Human being was left in a peripheral position, minuscule in the cosmos and observed as any other research “object”
the post postmodern re renaissance
The Post-Postmodern Re-Renaissance
  • What is new at this time (as new images of the world led to the Renaissance) that allows us to believe that this is the moment of the Non Violent Revolution, when Human Beings leave their violent Pre-history and enter their fully human History?
  • The way we understand the physical world is changing again, and with it, our look
  • New paradigms of Time and Space, Matter and Energy:

Relativity and Quantum Mechanics

the structural interconnection of everything

  • A new view of non lineal processes

Chaos Theory (the end of the determinism)

4. The Anthropic Principle

This Universe is so unbelievably improbable that:

If it were any other way and

if it didn't have an “intention” toward the development of consciousness,

we would not be here to observe it

5. The Observer as part of the Observation


The quantum investigations

We centre ourselves again on the Human Being

6. The Women's Paradox:

The fight for equality to earn the right to contribute what’s different

From a male vision to a male/female one (similar to binocular vision, that allows to have depth)

7. The New Spirituality

Open to believers and non believers, based on experience

8. Technology: Internet, air travel, TV, telecommunications

9. Planetarisation: different from Globalization

convergence of diversity: First planetary civilization

Threats to the whole: The environment and nuclear weapons

10. An Evolutionary Psychology of Non Violence:

Homo Intentional

in sum
In Sum
  • The Non-Violent Revolution, first proposed by Gandhi, includes social and personal changes. Non violence is at the same time objective and methodology, therefore it is of great coherence
  • The necessary psycho-social work to change our images is not just for the specialists, we all have the capacity to observe ourselves and to make intentional changes.
  • There is no “before” or “after” in social change in relation to the existential/spiritual one but rather they are both part of the same process of structural transformation (Like in a Moebius strip)