The word "pattern", or rather the concept, has a massive scope and significance to humanity.
In some way it is comparable to gravity. It is everywhere all the time and is fundamentally a characteristic of everything.
As part of the way we operate we see similarities in different things. We also detect differences in similar things. This is a pattern recognition function. Patterns are repeating similarities. For example if you have a lot of balls and cubes and some are blue and some are pink you can split them into two groups easily. And you can do it in two different ways. You can have one group of pink things and another group of blue things. You could split them by shape and have balls and cubes as the two groups.
Part of what is going on is that we are abstracting certain aspects or characteristics from the "things" and connecting those that have similar characteristics. So "blue" becomes an idea as well as a quality.
Sometimes we recognise patterns and only think of the pattern that we can see. What we are not thinking about is the subjective aspect of our experience. Below is a picture of a grid of shapes. There are circles and squares and there are pink ones and blue ones. As it stands in daylight we "see" the word GOOD clearly in blue on pink. But if we were more sensitive to shape than colour we would see something else. If the circles are highly reflective of ultraviolet light and the squares are not then if we illuminate the grid with ultraviolet light and take away the daylight we will see the relationship between the shapes rather than the colours. You can click the button to change the lighting.
There are several things to note about this illustration. Obviously there is the issue of the differences and similarities in the objects. Then there is the environment in which the objects exist. Depending upon the lighting different features are highlighted. Then there is the observer. Now we think of ourselves as observing reality as if it exists out there. Arguably there is some reality out there but it is not likely to be one that we can know. All we can do is detect the reality as it appears to us or as it is relevant to us. To a flea the objects might be a maze to navigate and the relationship between the circles is meaningless to them. A bat might be far more sensitive to the sonic resonance of squares than circles and may detect no difference in colour. They would be totally unaware of the "good" and only perceive "evil". Then there is the metaphor of this illustration
that without light there is only evil. And that brings me to another point. The only significance in the patterns we detect is their "meaning" and significance to us. The squares and circles and pink and blue objects are simply randomly placed unless we make some sense of it. In this instance we are using language to illustrate some "recognition" on our part. More regular and repetitive patterns would have illustrated the concept this far but there is a reason I have chosen words. We don't normally think of them as patterns but that is largely because they are complex patterns and they have a cultural and learnt significance. As Hermann Hesse pointed out, a primitive man would make entirely different sense of the shapes on the printed page. So the illustration above is complex and multi-layered. The patterns we are perceiving are words and those words are imbued with meaning, nuance, significance and relevance to us. It is no accident
that the word "good" is displayed in pretty pink and blue and the word "evil" in dark monochrome. This
illustrates even more culturally relevant meaning.
One of the things scientists do when they try to make sense of the world is to try to discern "patterns" in events that seem otherwise unrelated. As humans we are in a sea of events and circumstances and we constantly internalise our experience and try to overlay and combine the inner response and effects. We are constantly finding "patterns" in the outside world. Dropping a cup results in it falling down. This is obvious even if we have never dropped a cup. What we have done is dropped enough things to realise there is a consistent pattern. But for a baby there is no such pattern. It would not surprise a very young baby if the cup went off at an arbitrary angle. What would happen for the baby though is that it would be mapping and comparing all experiences and trying to form generalisations for operating in the world.
With the illustration above the observer can see the obvious change because the words which they recognise neatly change from a one thing to another and interestingly the essential concept portrayed changes radically too. If a simple zigzag or regularly placed flower shapes had been used this would have illustrated the issue of patterns but with the words it also touches on the significance of patterns to us and the way we interpret them unconsciously. It is well researched and acknowledged that 90% of communication is through body language. Given that we are mostly paying attention to what someone is saying it is almost unbelievable that the majority of communication is non-verbal. The illustration above goes some way to illustrate that whilst talking about patterns and circles and squares and words and lighting the observer was also engaged in interpreting the meaning of the words good and evil. Interacting with other people is like this in some way. We are talking about the squares and circles but the body language is conjuring responses dependent entirely upon deep and unconscious stuff. I
say stuff because in this world of patterns I wouldn't know what else to call the tumultuous environment in which we exist.
Within a culture there are many collective patterns circulating. In some way these are like the internal pattern matching that we do in order to try to make consistent sense of the world. They are models or maps of the world and we subscribe to them (or not). Ownership, for example, is a collective interpretation. There is unconscious compliance with and acceptance of the metaphorical notion of "ownership". So long as there is little argument we continue to behave between each other as if "ownership" is real in the real world. People who question the concept and its relationship to reality are generally regarded as daft or a nuisance. If they act in the world as if ownership is unreal they will soon find themselves under attack from other members of the community. Theft, for example, is seen as a transgression. It is no defence to say that you did not steal the item but you simply took it.
When our maps correspond accurately with our environment it is called reality. We "make real" or "real-ize" our experience and relationship to our surroundings. We are in harmony with existence. We are as one with the world and part of the universe. When our maps have errors we do not interact successfully with the soup in which we exist. There is disharmony and an experience of pain. When we have models of reality which do not correspond to reality we constantly bump into things. We are not successful. Broadly speaking if our map corresponds entirely with reality one could argue that it is reality and not a map.
In the world of psychology and counselling the idea of patterns is often used. In Re-evaluation Counselling patterns are the result of unprocessed experience. In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) inappropriate learnt behaviours are seen as patterns to be discerned and triggers for those patterns are analysed and the attempt is made to avoid the triggers rather than deal with the erroneous patterns. In Freudian Analysis the pattern is probably synonymous with "complex". Freudian complexes are complex behaviour patterns which can be observed in many patients. The Oedipus complex, for example, is essentially the dynamic of the attention going towards the object that is interfering with the subjects control of another object. So, for example someone with an Oedipus complex walking down the road might see a suitcase in the way and will move it to one side and proceed. A person without such a complex might simply walk around it.
So patterns are not quite as simple as they seem. Patterns have three significant components. There is the real world (the grid with shapes and colours above), there is the observer's world of meaning and interpretation (the words that can be interpreted in the example above), and there is the template or medium through which the relationship exists (the changing light in the illustration). All these things are part and parcel of the experience of that thing we call reality. The "REAL" world is not quite simply "out there". The real reality is the whole experience. This is why we can never objectively "know" the real world. We are the real world. We are in the process of real-izing it.