Space cannot be cut: why self-identity naturally includes neighbourhood

Alan D Rayner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (SciVal)
314 Downloads (Pure)


Psychology is not alone in its struggle with conceptualizing the dynamic relationship between space and individual or collective identity. This general epistemological issue haunts biology where it has a specific focus in evolutionary arguments. It arises because of the incompatibility between definitive logical systems of 'contradiction or unity', which can only apply to inert material systems, and natural evolutionary processes of cumulative energetic transformation. This incompatibility makes any attempt to apply definitive logic to evolutionary change unrealistic and paradoxical. It is important to recognise, because discrete perceptions of self and group, based on the supposition that any distinguishable identity can be completely cut free, as an 'independent singleness', from the space it inescapably includes and is included in, are a profound but unnecessary source of psychological, social and environmental conflict. These perceptions underlie Darwin's definition of 'natural selection' as 'the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life'. They result in precedence being given to striving for homogeneous supremacy, through the competitive suppression of others, instead of seeking sustainable, co-creative evolutionary relationship in spatially and temporally heterogeneous communities. Here, I show how 'natural inclusion', a new, post-dialectic understanding of evolutionary process, becomes possible through recognising space as a limitless, indivisible, receptive (non-resistive) 'intangible presence' vital for movement and communication, not as empty distance between one tangible thing and another. The fluid boundary logic of natural inclusion as the co-creative, fluid dynamic transformation of all through all in receptive spatial context, allows all form to be understood as flow-form, distinctive but dynamically continuous, not singularly discrete. This simple move from regarding space and boundaries as sources of discontinuity and discrete definition to sources of continuity and dynamic distinction correspondingly enables self-identity to be understood as a dynamic inclusion of neighbourhood, through the inclusion of space throughout and beyond all natural figural forms as configurations of energy. Fully to appreciate and communicate the significance of this move, it is necessary to widen the linguistic, mathematical and imaginative remit of conventional scientific argument and explication so as to include more poetic, fluid and artistic forms of expression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-184
Number of pages24
JournalIntegrative Psychological and Behavioral Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • intangibility
  • energy flow
  • abstract logic
  • natural inclusion
  • inclusionality
  • boundaries
  • space
  • natural logic
  • self-identity
  • rationality
  • neighbourhood


Dive into the research topics of 'Space cannot be cut: why self-identity naturally includes neighbourhood'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this