Archive for March 2011


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Posted March 27, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Quora answer: I heard that people used to believe that genes were transmitted from fathers to children, and that mothers were incubators. True? Anyone know sources?

Well this is a Greek idea. Specifically it is in the Oresteia by Aeschylus (…) in the third part called the Eumenides. Basically there is a court case over whether Orestes should have killed his mother Clytemnestra for killing his Father Agamemnon. This occurs in Athens and Apollo takes the side of the rights of the father and says that he should have been revenged by Orestes while Athena takes the side of the rights of the mother who says that she should be revenged by the Furies. The chorus are the Furies who are driving Orestes mad. At the end Apollo proposes that the mothers are only the soil into which the seed of the father is planted, and therefore the rights of the father should prevail. Athena eventually comes up with a compromise by offering the Furies at home in Athens if they will leave Orestes alone. This play recounts the myth of the establishment of courts in Athens. Interestingly there were actually five courts in ancient Athens all in different spots and all for trying different offenses.

I would like to draw your attention to the work of Page Dubois who has written several books on the role of women in Ancient Greece. And she interestingly says that there are many metaphors for women, and this one of the empty field is only one metaphor, and so the problem of the status of women in Ancient Greece is problematic and complex and not one dimensional. However this theory proposed by Aristotle was widely quoted among ancient authors despite the fact it was wrong. It shows the extremity of the distrust and the alienation of women in their own country at that time. Due to the extremes of female infanticide it is estimated that there was only one Greek woman for every ten Greek men at that time. You could only have children who were citizens if it was from parents who were both citizens. So Greek women were a very prized commodity and they were kept virtual prisoners in their own homes. See the work of Eva C. Keuls for the references.

I make reference to the work of these and other women authors concerning the Greek Classics in my work The Fragmentation of Being and the Path beyond the Void. There I study Ontomythology of the Greek City state, as an example of the ontological structure of the Indo-european worldview. And the place of women in this worldview is crucial as the radical and nihilistic Other to man. Basically the five metaphors that Page Dubois corresponds to the meta-levels of Being that are structurally coded into the pattern of the city, and the relations between the classes in the city. Apollo’s argument is an excellent example of Monism, which attempts to utterly suppress its dual. Slavery is the fundamental underlying model of human relationships. It is interesting that Hegel sees this too in his Phenomenology of Mind which harkens back to the slavery of the Greeks to the Romans in later history. Basically all of the first philosophies that Hegel treats are those of the enslaved Greeks, like skepticism, epicurianism, and stoicism. Hegel says only Slaves can be self-conscious and thus develop philosophy. Nietzsche of course tries to reverse this and come up with the morality of the slave owners. But, one way for men to dominate women is to take away from them their role in the reproductive relationship to justify the wrongs done to them. The reversal of these roles can be seen in the comedies of Aristophanes. He comes up with the idea of the liberation of women and communal property as crazy ideas have played an important part in the history of ideas within the worldview. Aristophanes and Plato shared these ideas.

Anyway this is a good example of the extreme dualism of the Western worldview which continually tries to force a monism by completely subjugating or perhaps obliterating the Other who is the nihilistic opposite. Part of that is to deny women any role in reproduction which was seen as their primary social function at that time. This is a way of producing what Kristeva calls Abjection.

Note this term appears in Shakespeare:

“I read in’s looks
Matter against me, and his eye reviled
Me as his abject object.”

Henry VIII, Act I. Scene 1 lines 125-127

The abject object is the one which has been completely drained of its life. This is what Mary Wollstonecraft called the Monstrous Woman. In Greek myth that is seen in Medusa, and perhaps in Media and other women who were wronged in the extreme. In the Greek case Apollo is essentially taking away the right to participation in reproduction by women at the beginning of the Western justice system. The Fates were placated and bribed by Athena who joins in the game of Apollo. Thus the myth portrays Justice as being founded on Injustice to women, and thus it sets the domination of a Monism over its dual at the very foundation of the Justice system.

In my book I talk about the Negative Fourfold attributed to women that is the opposite of the Positive Fourfold attributed to men. It is very interesting that this Negative Fourfold has been lost in oblivion for so long. The negative fourfold is Chaos, Night, Covering, and the Abyss. These are the Other or duals to the characteristics of the worldview attributed to men in the Greek sources which are Order, Light, Uncovering, and Grounds. This is a better definition of the Fourfold of the World than that given by Heidegger taken from Socrates which is Heaven, Earth, Mortals and Immortals. In another answer on the nature of art I talked about Heidegger’s essay on the Origin of the Work of Art where he mentions the fourfold, not just World and Earth. Thus the interaction of Men and Women is in some way a manifestation of Art, seen as Arte (excellence). The excellence of men is seen as the opposite of the flawed nature of woman. But in the interaction between these nihilistic opposites through the dominance of the men over the women there is a coming to the fore of excellence in the production of Greek citizens. But this is based on a fundamental assumption that the Artist or Man imposes form on the matter (mater, mother) of his children. In Aristotle Soul is seen as Form. Thus Soul comes from the Father that informs the matter that comes from the mother. We see this idea of dominance in Husserl’s idea that the Intentional Morphe informs the Hyle (content) of consciousness to give rise to synthesis within experience. He says that the two can never be separated and thus must be understood in terms of noesis (meaning) and noema (sensory content) but still the underlying model is subjectivist. For Husserl to understand objectivity such as in the nature of numbers or logic one must completely understand subjectivity and the operations of consicousness. So the fundamental Cartesian dualism of Mind and Res Extensia is still in place for Husserl. Heidegger tried to find a way to get beyond this duality with the idea of dasein (being-in-the-world).

Anyway, I guess that has taken us far enough afield from the original question. But your question points to the fundamental dualism of the Western worldview which attempts to obliterate not only its other but also any nondual concepts as well. For a kind of history of this theme running through our culture see Coming to Our Senses by Morris Berman.

Posted March 26, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Quora answer: What defines art?

One place where there is a Philosophical discussion of this question is in Heidegger’s The Origin of the Work of Art ( This is one of my favorite essays of Heidegger so I am glad to be able to mention it here.

Basically Heidegger connects Art to the interaction of World and Earth. He says that it is an endeavor what brings out the qualities of the Earth to make them visible in the World.

In this regard I like to make the distinction between Unhewn, Hewn, Rough Cut, Smooth Cut, and Formed objects.

Art supposedly allow the artist to impose his enforming on some content which are thereby turned into “Art”. But there is a kind of Japanese art called Suisek (waterstones) where one merely picks up an interestingly shaped rock and display it, and that is seen as a high form of art, where nothing is done to the object other than display it in an aesthetic context. These stones in the best cases are completely unhewn.

Here is a random example from

See… at http://britbonsaiblog.blogspot.c…

I don’t know whether this example is unhewn or rough hewn. Some times they slightly polish the rocks. But you can see how this found rock has been presented in an aesthetic setting.

So what Heidegger is saying is that when ever we create a clearing and then bring something into it for presentation by uncovering the earthy qualities of the thing then we are producing art, and unhewn and unpolished Suiseki is an extreme example of that. So art from Heidegger’s viewpoint is not the fact that the artist is imposing his will on the materials and thus bringing the form into being, but his point is that it is when the content is exposed by the forming process such that we see its texture, pattern, and motility then that is art. Heidegger is striving for a non-subjective and non-objective definition of art, in which the underlying substance that the artist is working with is heard speaking to us in a unique manner. Art is then a process of disclosing the vision of the earth, within the clearing of the world that we provide. Everything else that makes up art as we know it is piled upon that fundamental phenomena of disclosure of earth’s qualities within light provided by our worldmaking.

Posted March 26, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Aurora by Terje Sorgjerd


Magic number: X6BTU6SADHN3

Posted March 26, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Quayola Visualization Art

“Quayola is a visual artist based in London. His work simultaneously focuses on multiple forms exploring the space between video, audio, photography, installation, live performance and print. Quayola creates worlds where real substance, such as natural or architectural matter, constantly mutates into ephemeral objects, enabling the real and the artificial to coexist harmoniously. Integrating computer-generated material with recorded sources, he explores the ambiguity of realism in the digital realm.”

Posted March 26, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

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Quora answer: What does it mean for something to exist?

What we need to understand, which I have mentioned in the answers to other questions is that Being is a wholly Indo-european linguistic phenomena. And that the contrast between Being and Existence is a historical confrontation between languages which have and do not have Being, in particular Arabic and Greek. As the Arabs learned Greek philosophy they eventually realized this difference between ontos (being) in Greek and wajud (found) in Arabic. So the Arabic Philosophers created a term Kun (make) to represent what was in Being that was not covered by Existence, the surplus, the supplement as Derrida would say. Then when the Arab philosopher’s works were translated back into Latin there was no word in latin for wajud (found, ecstasy) and so the Latin translators of the Arabic philosophy texts made up a technical term for what the Arabs called “wajud” which was “Existence” which was given the same range of manings as wajud. Within the Western tradition this term had little relevance until it was taken up as an alternative to Being by the Existentialists. For most of the tradition Essence preceded Existence, but the Existentialists especially Sartre reversed that to say that Existence precedes Essence, which is obviously true, because only Indo-europeans have that linguistic construct. However, the fact that the Existentialists were using “Existence” did not mean they had escaped Being, but in fact they merely used the term to describe for the most part the becoming nature of Being. This fact that “Existentialists” did not escape from Being in their formulation of the meaning of “existence” is fateful for us and our tradition. In other words when we looked into the mirror of the Other of “existence” we merely saw a reflection of Being, and not existence itself. However, the whole tradition from its mythological roots is oriented toward existence in a fundamental way because, when ever we interacted with the Other we encountered other non-indoeuropean speakers over which we had to assert the superiority of Being over Existence. How each philosopher of Existence represented it is slightly different and thus we need to study the Existentialists to understand how they conceived of this alternative of Being, this anti-being. For instance Sartre called it Nothingness. Heidegger called it the ecstasy of dasein, which projects both Pure (static, present-at-hand) and Process (dynamic, ready-to-hand) Being. Existence is always represented as a Monster over which Being triumphs for instance in the image of St. George and the Dragon (Zeus/Apollo over Typhoon/Python). The defeat of Existence is the prerequisite for the setting up of the regime of the dominance Being, which underwrites the legitimacy of Indo-european domination via expansionism and colonialization. In prehistory this was carried out on the basis of the domestication of the horse which was the basis of indoeuropean expansion thorough the known world, and later it was seen in Western colonialization. This expansioinism is always based on technological superiority. So there is a problematic that Heidegger recognized of the relation between Being and Technology and Nihilism at the root of the Western worldview. He says the essence of Technology is not technological, but instead nihilistic. So the question becomes what is the relation between Indo-european Being as grounding technological innovation, and what is the relation of the dominance that this produces over Existence that shows up as Nihilism?

Since Parmenides thought and Being have been understood as the same. Thus Being means intelligibility within our tradition as a whole. Thus Heidegger says the key question concerns the meaning of Being. In nihilism there is a loss of meaning when we realize that extreme artificial nihilistic opposites (cf Stanley Rosen) are really the identical. Thus there is in the ecstasy of Dasein a projection of being-in-the-world, which produces the horizon of the world that Dasein finds him/her self in. Within that world there are two modalities which are static and dynamic that make up the monolith of Being (cf M. Henry’s critique of Heidegger’s Ontological Monism in The Essence of Manifestation). One of those modes is the ready-to-hand which underlies the circumspective concern with the whole of the technological infrastructure that underlies the presentation of static tableaus of beings within Being. This modality makes possible the production of technological wholes that are emergent and novel that lead to dominance within the world. But the dominance means that Being as a monolith suppresses the natural varieties of languages (based on existence) of the radical Other. This surpression of variety within the world leads to a monism which generates nihilistic opposites within itself due to its radical dualism, and this supplants the natural variety of other standings in the world from other cultures, and worldviews, and languages. When nihilistic opposites annihilate, cancel, or contradict each other then that produces nihilism within the Western worldview itself, so despite dominance there is a sapping of meaning within the Western worldview as a fundamental syndrome or miasma within our culture. This is called the intensification of nihilism.

So you can see that when you ask What does it mean for something to exist? you have opened up a can of worms. In our tradition meaning is seen as intrinsic to Being and Existence is seen as meaningless, or at least the babble of the BarBarian. However, seeing the other as meaningless, recoils on us until we recognize our own chatter within the plenum of Being which has achieved dominance by suppressing all other standings toward the world. Essentially, traditionally we have seen existence as meaningless, and thus asserted a duality between ourselves and the other, but then asserted our dominance over the heterogeneity seen in Existence and thus produced a Monism of Being that due to its extreme dualism ends up in a world that is meaningless as the result of claiming meaning only for itself. Without difference the result is meaninglessness. This is a fundamental bind within the Western worldview that generates nihilism within itself via the suppression of the Other of existence due to technological superiority. There is an unintended consequence of suppressing variety and claiming all meaning for oneself wich is that it saps meaning from oneself, and leads to ones own alienation and anomie. Thus in some sense Existence really is a mirror, and in it we see only distorted images of ourselves as Other.

Seeing meaning in existence is one of the fundamental steps to get out of this vicious cycle that we are trapped within philosophically. So what does it mean for something to exist? If we can see meaning through the veil of the a priori projection of Being, as a surplus, or supplement, or accursed share (Bataille) then we can get out of the illusion (Maya, Mara, Dunya) that covers over existence. Buddhism tries to do this from within the Indo-european existence by thinking it as nondual (Form is emptiness, Emptiness is form). Hegel in his logic sees “nothing” as Buddhist emptiness, not as a non-thing as does Heidegger. For Hegel “being” and “nothing” combine to give the flux of Heraclitus and that by an aufhebung produces the Dasein or determinate being. Dasein is the term for Existence in philosophical German. Meaning coming out of nonduality rather than Being is the way to escape the illusions projected by Being (‘Sat’ Sanskrit). Buddhism is a heresy of the Indo-european worldview because it tries to get back to existence from within Being via the realization of the nonduality of existence as emptiness. But existence looks different once you have been immersed in a worldview with Being. If you have not been immersed in Being previously then the nonduality looks like the Void (WU) of Taoism. Thus these two interpretations of Existence are themselves dual. And the non-nihilistic distinction between them is made by the projection of the singularity of Ultra Being at the meta-level in Being where we transition to existence, i.e. the fifth meta-level. So it turns out that Being as the projection of illusion is necessary to distinguish between the duals of non-duality of Existence (emptiness and void). This is perhaps the best answer to the meaning of existence. In Existence we are aware of natural heterogeneity both within ourselves and in nature. Being tries to steal with all meaning and appropriate it to itself and tries to suppress all meaning that comes from this natural variety by establishing the monism of Being. In Buddhist wisdom (prajna) we attempt to get back to that primordial meaning of existence. We try to get beyond the flaw in existence that illusion of a priori projection represents. If we can do that then we learn the true and real and identical and present meaning of existence which has no surplus or lack, i.e. which is perfectly nondual. See for more information on the meaning of existence.

Posted March 16, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

LinkedIn Systems Thinking World Thread: Are processes really just kinds of systems? No.

What are the synergies between Systems Thinking (ST) and Process Thinking (PT)? Are ST and PT in conflict or they can enhance each other?

Kent Palmer • I do not believe that a process is a kind of a system, but that processes are conceptually dual to systems, just as flow is perceptually dual to a gestalt. What we have to try to grasp is the points that Heidegger makes in Being and Time concerning the difference between the present-at-hand and ready-to-hand. Systems are gestalt and thus underly the present-at-hand. Processes are flows and thus underly the ready-to-hand. Merleau-Ponty translates Being and Time into psychological terms saying that Present-at-hand is Pointing and Ready-to-hand is grasping. However, with respect to gestalt and flow we are not talking about either psychological modalities or modalities of Being but rather percepts and concepts. But basically it is the same kind of difference in a different realm. Gestalts were added to Husserl’s phenomenology by Gurwitsch. So at the beginning Phenomenology only had form and content. But it was recognized in the second generation of phenomenologists that gestalts were important in phenomenology of perception. But there is a prejudice against the Heraclitian position that everything is flux, and the position of Parmenides is the fundamental approach of most of the philosophers in the Western tradition, so flows were neglected. Thus we don not see much about flows in the literature and certainly the duality between flows and gestalts is not readily apparent in the literature. So there is a duality present where we emphasize gestalts over flows in the tradition, just like we emphasize sets over masses (count over non-count). But in Systems Engineering this imbalance in the perspective of our tradition toward phenomena causes real problems because it makes our view of the phenomena lopsided. What we need is a more balanced view, and I think there is a real opportunity to bridge this gap in Systems Engineering/Software Engineering and the Social Sciences. This is because Development is probably some of the most complex social phenomena around, and it is a perfect laboratory for testing out social theories. So if Systems and Software Engineers became aware of the sophisticated theories that already exist, and started using them to think about the social aspects of their work, then we would not be constantly reinventing social science, and we could leverages off of the work already done over the last century in these other disciplines and thus make our own approach to our own discipline more sophisticated. But also we could help balance the perspectives that are imbalanced in the social sciences at the same time and thus provide a service to the social sciences not only by producing data they could use but also improving their theories.

Posted March 9, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized