March 2007

Science is like a kid digging in the dirt.  It does find diamonds, but it is just as likely to stick them up its hole after.

So, I thought the point of social interaction was to test our theories against each other like antibodies seeking pathogens (see the ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in that story!). Recently I’ve been literally talking to myself (as here). Why would I do that? Well, if things are slightly stochastic, the two will resonate. Oscillate.  This mental exercise I’ve been enjoying seems self-sustaining (=dopamine, optimism), and it ‘feels’ like the above.  So this is a good (or amusing) description.

Watching ‘war’ [movie set in] Cechnya

We dehumanize all the time. Every group we look at as ‘not us’ is less human, and it has been commonplace that this results in decapitations, torture, etc. But think what it looks like on the other end.  Its bloody good sport and heroism and shit. Please, not the ‘war is bad’ platitude.  This is a cognitive problem. We need to learn to treat everyone as human. We can only do that if we align our concepts through interaction.

Internet is working well. Drop the definite article.

Law is an attempt to make the P-world and its words BE the R-world.  Law must be hell.

Looking at at ‘pop video’, it starts to look a lot like us: a few fairly primal urges and a weak narrative.  We only see ourselves.  Our-what? To describe something, you couch it in terms of ‘us’: nations as schoolkids, markets as hysterical.  We only see ourselves. So when we see everything else, we see ourselves? Nothing.  Every time we try, the concept turns out to be partial, flawed, without a center. We learn about ourselves by looking outward, not inward.

(a rather unpolished whiteboard)

We swim in mataphor

As the sensorimotor correspondences bring 2 dynamics together, so the thought has this character.  In a broad sense, all thought is metaphorical. As the S-M system forms a tangible universe out of 2 energy flows, so in thought we force active contents (?) together into a narrative.  Sometimes this mashup produces words (which play the parts of objects(?)), sometimes not.

In the matter of sex: it is an area that suffers greatly from the ‘locality’ effect. Like small villages in Siberia.  Each one a small insane asylum seen from the outside.

Are we watching an urbanization?

My view suggests a marketplace of ideas.  Mimetics, grounded.

My emerging philosphy is unrelentingly optimistic.  I get some nice backup from Steve Pinker in the Edge (and formerly in the New Republic) :    In it he notes the decline of violence in our daily lives and wonders where the apparent increase in empathy comes from (zero sum games?  frontal lobe exercise?).  He notes:

Then there is the scenario sketched by philosopher Peter Singer. Evolution, he suggests, bequeathed people a small kernel of empathy, which by default they apply only within a narrow circle of friends and relations. Over the millennia, people’s moral circles have expanded to encompass larger and larger polities: the clan, the tribe, the nation, both sexes, other races, and even animals. The circle may have been pushed outward by expanding networks of reciprocity, à la Wright, but it might also be inflated by the inexorable logic of the golden rule: The more one knows and thinks about other living things, the harder it is to privilege one’s own interests over theirs. The empathy escalator may also be powered by cosmopolitanism, in which journalism, memoir, and realistic fiction make the inner lives of other people, and the contingent nature of one’s own station, more palpable—the feeling that “there but for fortune go I”.

This is surely a straightforward prediction of my account: we have learned to probe each other, and have increasingly been confronted with others at some remove: with les similar P-worlds than we have.  And the rate of increase is increasing!

Listening to Merlin Bragg on Radio 4 about relativism ( is seen as a threat, a terrible thing. It is opposed to transcendentalism which apparently insists on absolute good and evil. what baloney! My relativism is much more nuanced. For starters, it is balanced by the R-world and it doesn’t object to the belief that our P-world theories are asymptotically approaching the R-world, though it doesn’t insist on that either. Also, it is deduced, not merely implied.

Key quote, from Protagoras: “Man is the measure of all things”.

The main argument against relativism is that if it were true, there would be no point in discussion or argumentation, as there is no right answer. I can counter this easily!

Catriona saw the first few pages of the P-world-R-World sketch today (as far as Strangler Figgery), and thought it interesting. She rightly points out that this will annoy everyone. That is, I am seeking to adopt a position in a crowded marketplace, where ethicists and morality folk, trancendentalists and relativists, idealists and realists all live and have positions. This is undoubtedly correct.

She thought me unclear in my introdeuction: before launching my ontological crusade, I need a fuller introduction so people are prepared for me to meddle in their waters. I will return to this when the guts of the sketch are in place.

She felt my cursory sketch of the ‘mind-body’ problem to be far too short. Clearly, from her position, the stale view of a mental and a physical parallel universe is not as hackneyed.

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