Category Archives: Future projects

A change to the scientific agenda

Many practitioners of science have uncritically sought to provide the view from nowhere. This, it is widely agreed, is not something that can be delivered.

An alternative and more attractive overarching ambition is to be the voice from no one.

Logos gives us the notion of an impersonal order, but never as far from us as the elements of the Grand Unified Theory sought in physics. Logos is word of law, both conventional and natural. Positivist science has failed to recognise our own involvement in its being.

Rhema is uttering. In the act, the subject arises, and the goal is to move from disjoint, local agents who bicker, towards the facilitation of joint uttering, jointly bringing into being. Rhema is an act of creation, as the appearance from nowhere of a positron and an electron. Being necessarily has a complementary character. It is not the insistence of one being over another.

And in speaking together, all the beauty of music lies before us as models.

Is the Pharisee Theist, or Athiest?

If you say you’ve got a church, people will quickly ask about your God. Most of my friends would describe themselves as Atheists. All of them grew up in a consensus that matter moves by mechanical force, and agency is something rather mysterious, but surely individuated, residing in (primarily human) individuals. If you assume all this, then you probably have an opinion about the God question.
If you can get away from the assumptions about mechanisms and volition, then the question of God or Not becomes meaningless.
So what if we recognise that it is impossible to adopt an unaccented, culture-free, standpoint.  From where I’m standing, I see some variation in how things are and how things are understood.  What are the kind of things that co-vary with Abrahamic faiths, and with those other things that we might (with due awareness of our biases) describe as faiths, in full awareness that we see this as Christians, from a Christian culture?

  • Creation: where does anything come from? Go to?
  • Death: meaning of
  • The relevance and dominion of scientific objectivity
  • Sin, Karma, Ethics, Oughts, and Lust, Desire, Intoxication
  • The mechanics of intentionality
  • Relation to direct ancestors
  • Division of responsibility between clerics, legislators, soldiers, and others
  • Embedding of the present in a historical narrative
  • Authority, in the most general sense
  • Revelation
  • Tolerance for the simple, the odd, and the eccentric
  • The relation of good to evil
  • Availability of altered states of consciousness
  • Manner in which pain is borne
  • The definition of “us”
  • Aesthetics, and the sensorimotor embedding of daily life (and of ritual)
  • Prevalence and status of monastic-like communities

The Pharisee is interested in all of these.

The pharisee has colleagues . . .

. . . of course. The Anthropologists (culture), the Linguists (language) and the Geneticists (nature) are all trying to provide detail to the word ‘we’. But they don’t talk much to each other.

One prominent characteristic of Wikipedia and the crowd-sourced self-description of the world, is that it allows disparate communities to engage in some kind of cross-disciplinary chatter, albeit at a fairly superficial level. Usually, each discipline takes itself far too seriously to even try to make sense to the unwashed.

The ascription of agency varies across the global population too. I don’t think too many people have pointed out that the psychological solipsist model has profound implications for spiritual doctrine too. Animists differ, and could not sign up to psychology. But this is not divvying us up by language, culture, or genetic inheritance. The way in which we construe the relation between experience and the world provides an orthogonal direction, putting economists apart from shamen, and phonologists apart from historians. And we can map this, not by the genome, but by analysis of the language of intentionality.

 The P-world doctrine allows us to accord the experiential realm of a single organism a position in our ontology, without committing ourselves spiritually in one way or another.  That has to be a useful thing.

Non-specific variables

The idea seems to recur to me that good dynamical modeling needs to not only define its systems with care, and their dynamics, but it also needs to pick its variables with care. They should be as meaningless as possible. This is why we can see something interesting in the blinking of the eye, the twitching of the thumps on the video controller, the synchronization of eye movements in/as film… Being entirely non-specific, they might appear the same to everyone.

Don Norman had the notion of weak general interfaces. The keyboard and the video game controller are good examples. But so are the eyeballs. Are the hands acting as sensory devices as they play GTA? Why yes! Looking at it like this makes it clear that there is no ‘perception’ that is differentiable from action.

Susan Hurley said that the ecological approach was instrumental, and the dynamic approach was constitutive. Perhaps these two approaches see the same relation from different sides, as it were. The ecological approach points out the lawfulness inherent in the P/A relation. Lawfulness is boring. No information, because it behaves as expected. That is one view. Like looking at the single cell from the outside, knowing all about its metabolism, the glucose and the gradient. It looks mechanical.  It is too, given some very important presuppositions.  One of which is that there is something it is like to be the cell.

Dynamics ought to allow one to keep that in mind, while simultaneously acknowledging the view from the inside. Hence it allows the constitutive to appear.

 How might one investigate more specific instances, such as dance, in which there is more feeling, and sensory-motor skill is required?  We have meaningless ones of these too, in sport.

The Koan and the Pharisee

From The Full Story:

The cell, and the world encountered by the cell, form a unity. The encounter between them is described by the perception/action relation. In that encounter, they are not separable. They are one.

and earlier, the Koan:

The wind was flapping a temple flag, and two monks were arguing about the flag. One said, “The flag is moving.” The other said, “the wind is moving.” They could not agree, no matter how hard they debated. The sixth patriarch, Eno, happened to come by and said, “Not the wind, not the flag. It is the mind that is moving!” The two monks were struck with awe.

This notion of a unity, that comprises subject and object, unifies the CSP view with that of Maturana. I think.

Synchronous Speech

I just retraced some rather faded handwriting on the white board. To do so, I had to entrain my movement (and all is movement, when we look at it), to a past series, as I thought those thoughts and wrote them on the board.

This is just like synchronous speech, where two people try to match their motor control. Remember, all we see is that brains move muscles. So when we ask about shared experience, that must mean shared movement. Is movement all muscle? Is it just shared dynamic?

Can you find a few people to do exercises in shared movement with? It’s not quite dance, but it is also. But its not about expression, but resonance. Neither alone nor together, but resonance.

Bring on armageddon!

The Church of the Stone Pharisee demands belief in the rationality of the lunatic.  The ‘delusions’ are none such, but result from a specific relationship between the P-world of an individual and those around him.  They often are being controlled by the ideas.  In hearing voices, they are merely being aware of some of the stuff going on in nervous systems (that annoying repetitive tune: do you own it?).  No wonder its confusing, and the stories come out peculiarly.  Therein lies the lack of the self: the P-world has lost some of its autonomy.

In this regard, I am highly amused to see that that gloriously batty compser, Alexander Scriabin, described Stravinsky as “Apostle” to the “Latin reactionaries”.  I have no ideas who these Latin reactionaries are, and I suspect that they do not constitute a natural kind. Scriabin was entirely incoherent, and that is interesting, because he was standing at an interesting point. He was immersed in a sea of cultural currents, and he dreamed of multimedia performance (Scriabin was a VJ long before there were VJs).  He was probably also a synaesthetic. He had tics as a child and was known for not sitting still (Children, pay heed!).

Before he died, runour has it that he was working on a big light and music job, to be played in the Himalays.  Once played, in the right setting, it would bring on Armageddon.  Anybody fancying having a go?  I’d love to try it out.