initial sketch

I was watching me some contact juggling, and I got to thinking about how they “represent” space.  I use the term “represent” in a rap fashion rather than a cog sci fashion, as they show off their conception of space, and it is Euclidian.  The beauty of the art form lies in the absence of body-based constraint: no top-heaviness or balance issues. Space is the metric space it seems to be in the performance.

Now look at time and the body.  What I object to most strenuously is the notion that anything could be timed independently of the body.  The oscillator modellers all seem to think that the time of behavior is a Euclidian time – a raw metric space, unformed by the proclivities, inertial drag, and symmetry properties of the body.  They treat movement as if it were contact juggling.

I wish to draw out the waves in wheat fields idea somewhat more.  To me it is obvious at first glance what is meant.  But thinking the analogy through demands being explicit about a number of tricky issues, including the borders of the P-world (not a simple spatiotemporal bubble!) and the way in which the chair I meet in immediate experience is *both* collectively constituted, thus everyone’s chair, and entirely mine and mine alone.

This might be most fruitfully done within the book, when the P-world concept is first mooted, or shortly thereafter.

How to tell my story?  My febrile brain is seeing too much.  Perhaps I need a collaborator.  I am drafting a P-world/R-world sketch on Google Docs, and the opening is turgid, and becoming worse.  The reason is that I have too much to say at the start: I want to say I will do metaphysics, but I don’t want that to put anyone off.  I will not pick my way among the bones of philosophers, as Dave Vernon so aptly illustrated to me recently.  I want this to be in my language.  And I want it to be of relevance, so that conclusions follow.  Metaphysics without conclusions is (are?) sterile.

I do not have a clear audience in my head.  Sometimes I am writing a core article (which I think that sketch should remain) and sometimes a book.  Sometime I write for scientists, and sometimes for the disenchanted.  I am in a rush to get on to the importance of pop culture, the right way to approach negotiations, and sex sex sex.  I need to meter it a little.  I have promised the sketch as a central point.  It should bear reading by philosophers with daggers sheathed, and by lay people with no teeth or very many.

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!

Alternately derided and extalled, popular culture is extremely important in figuring out who we are. With the relatively recent advent of rampant commercialism, commerce is driven by our commonalities. Markets can be used as tracers to identify parts of the denominator. A collective consciousness, which might make sense if the consciousness word made sense, or ,better, pattern emergence at the collective mind level is happening. and it finds expression in pop. markets instruct us about who we collectively are. its a low pass filter for humanity.

The sampling culture, or mashup theme, fits here, as we give birth to monsters whose identity is a group identity. Thats what Docterow and crew are fighting for and what our legal instruments were never meant for. We layer content, bringing ourselves constantly to near simultaneous mulit-mini-orgasms as one source bounces off another. the author is the collective.

I’m astonished and astounded tonight. Picked up Churchland, as I had been meaning to do, and just for fun, started reading a random passage to Jack. I didn’t expect it to make sense without context like that. But wow!!! The framework I didn’t quite get at the outset is that he is talking about reductionism, and how, in principle theories might reduce, but where I jumped in was a tricky case, namely the relation between classical mechanics (CM) and the special theory of relativity (STR). And as it went on, and he described their relationship, suddenly I realized that the CM is the Pworld and STR is the Rworld. And I thought I was pushing my luck, when my jaw dropped, because he said: “it is not just the laws of CM that STR bids us throw overboard as illusory, but also the fundamental categories with which CM interprets the world”. That could just as well have come from me, with my worlds.

Let us start by assuming that physicists are doing a pretty good job of describing the fundamental nature of matter/energy in time/space. Their equations are entirely removed from the world of personal experience. The equations describe what I will choose to call the Rworld. In a sense, it is reality. It is what absolutely is. It is probably continuous in nature, but we are not entirely sure. The question of particulate vs continuous has plagued us for years, and it will raise its head here again. Its best description is as a set of equations, and it will remain forever unknowable. In contrast to the Rworld is the Pworld. This is the world we experience. It contains identifiable macroscopic objects. We can extend our senses somewhat with microscopes and telescopes, but to all intents and purposes, we live in a human-sized world, populated with the kind of thing that it makes sense for humans to see. Ants and trees will serve as examples. If we were ant sized, we would not see the world as populated with buildings and streets. At our scale, those would not be sensible categories. The categories we have evolved to see are those which by happenstance proved useful to an evolving population in a specific environmental situation. We sample the ambient energy to allow us to move in the world, but we are blind, literally and figuratively, to the patterned energy which we did not evolve sensitivities to. This is the perceptual world. Its categories have no ontological validity in the Rworld. They are probably not rigorously definable in the Rworld, for atoms fly off any body, and aggregate anew. The macroscopic objects of the Pworld have discrete identities. These may be two trees, but I can tell them apart, and there is no sense in which one can stand in for the other without a transformation of identity. The players in the Rworld are different in that each can substitute for another of the same molecular structure. Two electrons may differ in state, but not in identity. Alter the state of one (change its location and momentum) and it becomes formally identical to the other. This is a curious state of affairs. The constituents of the Rworld are unlike anything in the Pworld in a very deep way.

The Pworld is entirely contingent. Had evolution taken a different stochastic path, all would be different in detail. The objects, the categorical distinctions we draw in the world around us, the things we can name, are themselves a function of our evolutionary past. Run evolution differently, and you create a different set of needs in a different environment, and the categories which make sense to that parallel organism would differ from our own. The Pworld is thus a function of the Rworld. It arose because of the exact state and state derivative which describes the Rworld in exact detail. But we can unpack this relationship a little further. We, the macroscopic beings we call humans, are more obviously a function of the Rworld, and the form of the Pworld, as I have argued, is dictated or defined by the contingent beings we are. Thus we have P=f(human) and human = f(R), giving the satisfying claim: P=f(f(R)). We are the intermediaries in the chain. The things in our world (Pworld) relate to the things in Rworld by virtue of the kind of being we happen to be.

Now consider the things we have words for, that we talk about when we talk about things. These are akin to theories. They represent our way of understanding the world. The understanding I mean is not of propositional form, but an understanding expressed by interacting with the world, or swimming in it. Many of these theories are well-founded, and have stood the test of time. Tables are tables, ants are ants and trees are trees. But wait a sec,

… I guess I’m trying to understand the SPOV as a natural phenomenon. Understand it from the outside, because inside, it just doesn’t seem possible. What appears as intuition is, in fact, entirely misleading. That essence-sucking expression of ‘thought’ into a series of words turns it into something else. As when we retell our dreams. Perception appears to be an attempt by our systems to understand the world. I guess we need to know what understanding is. Some of it is the identification of macroscopic entities which we will then regard as discrete entities, like ants and trees. These then seem to form ‘natural categories’ to us, and we base our philosophy on them. But these categories have no ontological special hats on. They are precisely the kind of thing that it is suitable for us to see; where we are the kind of organisms, enveloped by the specific structured energy that we are. And we are entirely contingent. A puff of air at some remote spot, and the forms would be different. Evolutionary exercises. Blink, and the earth is populated by different beings. What, if anything, is the common purpose such beings could have? Can we possibly understand ‘purpose’? Perhaps (just perhaps) one way we can think of it is a ‘striving-to-being’, or indeed desire/appetite.

Jaysus, this is a lot to unpack. Don’t give up yet though. The ant/tree thing is worth it.

Consciousness, or self-awareness, is a transitional stage in a cyclical universe that needs awareness for a brief period in order to renew itself. We are part of a pattern that contains us, but is not about us. I suspect we stand shortly before a huge transition, and part of that transition will involve the elimination of us, and probably earth. As always with nature, we can see purpose in the design. The rate of relevant change is increasing. As consciousness arose, it reached a level of complexity that allowed it the means to represent itself. Whenever that happens within a system, strange things result. In this case, the universe gets sort of super powers. Our understanding is the universe becoming self-aware briefly in order to reach a stage at which it can reconfigure, reinvent, re-create, itself. Our technologies will facilitate that (so the idea of technology going mad and becoming a threat is not farfetched at all), nanotechnology is a start down a road that will give us complete control of materials. Given the rate at which technology has evolved, and the accelleration, it seems clear that the rate of change is quickening and quickening. So we may be on the cusp of a monumental event in a universe’s cycle, most of the time of the cycle being rather uneventful. Those very eventful few seconds after the big bang actually lie just ahead. That is the apolalypse.