A psychological explanation

Let us suppose that all living structure happens to be a structure which is related to certain (presently unknown) deep structures in human cognition. These cognitive structures, when they occur in the outer world, might easily somehow convey the sense of “self”. In this interpretation, the structure of all living matter would be related to a fundamental part of human cognition. Living structure therefore seems “self-like” when it appears in things.

This would be consistent, too, with the dynamic view. Indeed, the unfolded character of living structure, and the way it always appears as a product of smooth unfolding, could also be a reason it appears in cognition.

According to such a psychological explanation everything with lifeworld appear to be made of ten thousand beings simply because of the coincidence between the structure of every living system (in nature or in architecture), and the structure of self as experienced cognitively. What I have been calling “I” would then be no more than a name for the structural universal, common to the cognitive self, and common to all living centers. We would see it, potentially, in bridges, walls, columns, roofs, buttresses, and streets whenever they have living structure. The fact that living centers appear self-like or being-like would then merely be a coincidence — but a very useful one which gives us a natural way to judge the depth of living structures in the world around us.

I can’t quite follow why he seems to attach less worth to an explanation that is rooted in cognition by saying that it is “merely coincidence”? If we are hardwired to perceive this kind of structure that doesn’t seem like coincidence at all — perhaps it is exactly this ability that makes living organisms (in the biological sense) intelligent?

More vital than that, it does not explain how, or why, we have the sense that this I is beckoning us, leading us on, pulling us towards it, trying to help us reach it, trying to help us infuse the lesser works of our own hands, with this same living substance.

Yes, it doesn’t come with an explanation, but that could be eventually constructed, just as a theory that is based on life being part of matter.

(Page 148)

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