Archive for May 2011

Quora answer: Do people value Twitter or Quora followers more? Why?

Quora answer: Do people value Twitter or Quora followers more? Why?

Quora answer: Do people value Twitter or Quora followers more? Why? summary:

Posted May 28, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized conversation: Stephen Hawking tells Google ‘philosophy is dead’

Article: by Matt Warman in The Telegraph

Namesake conversation:

My comment on Namesake:

Hawking Said: “Most of us don’t worry about these [fundamental ] questions most of the time. But almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead,” he said. “Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics.” Think it is true?

Hawking says that Philosophy is Dead, but we can see that it has a pulse, or at least Continental Philosophy still does, but perhaps he is right about Analytical Philosophy. I wonder if Continental Philosophy will catch the same life threatening disease that Analytical Philosophy has?

See at


Posted May 27, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized answer Is there absolute truth

Is there Absolute Truth?

Is there Absolute Truth? answer Is there absolute truth? If there is not, then how can knowledge exist? If there is, then how is it determined? summary:

[My answers are always way too long for this format. So I have decided to do something different, which is to post my answer to my blog and direct you there, rather than cluttering up the conversation with long answers that everyone might not be interested in, and which seems to kill the conversation anyway.]

So the question is whether there is absolute truth. So first we need to know what absolute means and what truth means, and that will give us a bit of philosophical context in which to which to situation the question so we can see if it is answerable.

As my philosophy teacher Alfonso Verdu always said, there is only one absolute, that is why it is called absolute. But I add to that there is only one absolute at a time and what is absolute changes in different eras of our worldview. The absolute is the ultimate transcendent, which for Kant means God, one of the three transcendentals. The other two are transcendental subject and transcendental object or noumena. For Kant the role of the absolute transcendental, i.e. God was to maintain coherence between the T. Subject and the T. Object which we never experience but he thought had to be operating behind the scenes to keep the world functioning. The T. Subject is the source of all the a prior projections like spacetime and categories and schemas, and the T. Object or Noumena is the source of all our experience of the world in which we live. Absolute is basically a way of talking about God without mentioning God because it posits a unique ultimate which is in line with the monotheistic idea that there is really only one God, but if you think of God as absolute then that puts certain limitations on God which is what led to natural theology, i.e. it is in conflict with biblical ideas that sees God as having idiosyncratic attributes. Spinoza was the first of those who questioned this conflict between God and Reason, and decided ultimately that God had to be equivalent with nature ultimately, i.e. of the same substance. This merges God as a Transcendental with the Noumena, but then it has the problem of understanding the place of the T. subject, and so that is what the Ethics is about. Deleuze  interprets Spinoza as having the position that the subject really is pure immanence which is the opposite of the Transcendentals.

As for Truth, as I have said in some of my Quora answers, there is an unfolding of the Meta-levels of Being, and at each of these meta-levels the Aspects which are Reality, Truth, Identity, Presence are essentially different at each meta-level. [See my other works for details at or or] Thus it depends on what meta-level of Being one is on what truth means. Heidegger in Being and Time concentrates on the first two meta-levels which are Pure Being where truth is verification, and Process Being where truth is Aletheia or Uncovering ( So there are various kinds of truth that get ever deeper as we go up the meta-levels of Being, there is Pure Truth, Process Truth, Hyper Truth, Wild Truth, and Ultra Truth. And thus we see that if we ask if there is Absolute Truth, then we have to specify what kind of Truth would be absolute, i.e. unique and transcendental.

But here an idea that I have had which I call the Pleroma comes into play. Pleroma needs fullness, and is a term used in Gnosticism, but I do not mean it in that way, but it indicates the ultimate ground, and so I mean by it the ultimate ground of the worldview. It is composed of Striated and Unstriated pairs. An example is Emptiness and Void. Emptiness is striated, yet void is unstriated. And what you notice about this question is that the Absolute is unstriated yet truth, and all the other aspects of Being are striated, i.e. differentiated. So what we can say about this question is that it is pointed at the Pleroma, but in an odd way by taking two different pairs and crossing them. So we have Absolute which is Transcendent which is compared to the Immanent, and on the other hand we have the striations of the aspects each of which has an opposite like Truth and Falsehood, or Lie. The complete structure is as follows:

  • Transcendental Truth, Reality, Identity, or Presence
  • Transcendental Lie, Illusion, Difference, or Absence
  • Immanent Truth, Reality, Identity, or Presence
  • Immanent Lie, Illusion, Difference, or Absence

Notice that unlike the pairs I have identified in the Pleroma which are simple pairs that are striated and unstriated, like Being and Beyng for instance from Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy: From Ereignis, we have in this question a fourfold interaction between elements describing the Absolute Being, and one of the aspects of Being. Heidegger called this “Ontotheological Metaphysics” which he critiqued. Notice that we can identify the elements as follows

  • Transcendental Aspect = Nietzsche’s idea that truth must affirm Life, and thus have evolutionary benefit
  • Transcendental Anti-aspect = Nietzsche’s truth as lies we tell ourselves in order to support our lives in impossible situations
  • Immanent Aspect = Truth is relative and has no external criteria, and is thus socially constructed. Nietzsche’s question of the value of Values. Truth is a value that has a certain value in our lives.
  • Immanent Anti-Aspect = The fact that the truth is continuously distinguished from lies, as in the court systems, which in turn rely on our faulty memories and thus really has no foundation.

So now with this background in mind let us return to the question at hand. Is there absolute truth. Is refers to Being, the absolute refers to the ultimate being, or Supreme Being, which is singular and unique. Truth is an aspect of Being, which along with other aspects have anti-aspects which describe the various characteristics of Being within Indo-European languages. Being is an idea that is unique to Indo-European languages, and thus it is something that makes our dominant worldview unique and perhaps is the basis on which our world’s technological infrastructure is based. But what we notice is that this question is ontological not ontic because it never gets outside of Being. It asks if THERE IS, which refers to Heidegger’s dasein (there being), i.e. if there is an ecstatic projection of Being which has the characteristics of absoluteness, and truth which is an aspect. But truth as aspect brings along its anti-aspect which is falsehood or lie. So if there is absolute truth there needs to be the absolute lie, like the betrayal of Jesus by Judas (which is a betrayal of mankind), or in Gnosticism the idea that the creator god lies and tells us there is no absolute god, etc. So what we see is that this question actually has the structure of Dasein that Heidegger talks about in Being and Time. Dasein is the ecstasy of projecting the world as a priori as Kant said, but it is also being-within-the-world, and as such it has a place in its own projection. This is just like in the Mahabharata where the poet enters his own story and is the progenitor of his own characters, or in the Odyssey where Odysseus becomes a teller of his own epic tale in Scheria. In other words it points to an ultimate paradox like the idea that Jesus as the son of God, “is” God the father who created the world that Jesus became immanent within. Jesus is the avatar of the Supreme Being but also is the Supreme Being as well like Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu, i.e. comes to immanence within the dream that Vishnu is dreaming. And this of course is what makes Being the ultimate paradox (contradictory contradiction) or absurdity (paradoxical paradox). It is prior to the Supreme Being or absolute because it is ultimate substance, but it has to be given rise to by the Absolute which is outside or beyond Being. How can the Supreme Being be both inside and outside of Being?

This brings us to the realization that this question (because it has the structure of dasein) actually is questioning whether existence is paradoxical in some fundamental sense, as suggested by Ontotheology. And thus we get into the critique of Heidegger of ontotheological metaphysics (, and how it is in fact self-contradictory, even paradoxical or absurd. Worst of all it takes snapshots of the history of the epochs of Being and pretends that this is all there is of Being, when in fact there have been many absolutes in our history during different epochs, because Being itself transforms. If Being transforms then it is not unique and singular outside of spacetime but is within spacetime, and that means it cannot be absolute. See God Without Being by Jean-Luc Marion (

Now I think the answer to this question for the Western worldview is yes, but the answer in general is no. In other words the Western worldview has this unique idea of Being built into its grammar of its languages, that does not exist elsewhere in other languages. And so our worldview necessarily has to grapple with the fact that our highest concept is at least contradictory, could be paradoxical, and at worse is absurd, as Kierkegaard thought. But Being is not the only standing, there is also existence and probably others. However, for our tradition Existence is the primary other to Being. Parmenides called it Non-Being, the impossible path. Hegel called it nothing and contrasted it with Being, and thought about it as Buddhist emptiness. The fusion of the two in a synthesis gives Heraclitus’ Flux, or Becoming, i.e. Process Being. The jump to a new level beyond that flux gives us Dasein, i.e. determinate being, that Heidegger took at the basis of his use of the term dasein. Existence came into the language from the reading of the Arabic interpreters of Aristotle, who distinguished their own Wajud from what went beyond that to comprise Being which they called with a technical term Kun (to make). When this was translated into Latin there was no term for existence so a technical term was made up called Exi-stance, i.e. to stand outside of Being, which also has the meaning of ecstasy in Arabic. So Heidegger uses that to distinguish between the projection of the world which is an ecstasy as Process Being, and the presentation of the world to us from within it which is Pure Being. If you take the view that there are other standings toward the world and the self than Being then this does not have to be absurd. There is a completely different interpretation which says that existence is empty as in Buddhism which is a non-dual standing toward existence. Non-duality suggests the opposite of absurdity or paradox which is called Supra-rational way of approaching things which see them as interpenetrated without interfering with each other as in Hua Yen Buddhism of Fa Tsang. You can see in my other writings I talk about Plato’s divided line and the fact that the limit of the side of doxa is paradox, and the limit of the side of ratio as the supra-rational. These are in fact opposites that are inscribed into the structure of our worldview, but instances of supra-rationality as appears in Zen Koans are rare in our tradition, while Paradox and Absurdity are rife as being represented as the limit of what is possible to handle  within our world. So if we were to take the approach to ourselves and the world as that is supra-rational and allow for the standing toward things which describes them as existing without Being, i.e. having no value like the rock at the side of the road, or considering money to be worthless, which it actually is, it is a mere exchange token manufactured by banks that print it, then we can say that the world is not necessarily paradoxical or absurd, but only appear to be so within the ontotheological metaphysics of our Western worldview.

See also mirror at

See also

Posted May 24, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

My Twitterstream composition



Posted May 20, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized answer: Which is a touchier subject: religion or politics?

Which is a touchier subject: religion or politics

Which is a touchier subject: religion or politics

Which is a touchier subject: religion or politics? Asked by Ed Stapleton Jr on Summary: Blog: Location:

Posted May 19, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized Answer: “What is it about the world that you know is true that everyone else doesn’t understand?” Answer: "What is it about the world that you know is true that everyone else doesn't understand?" Answer: "What is it about the world that you know is true that everyone else doesn't understand?"

Peter Thiel question asked of people before he works with them,

My Response to a Namesake Conversation: Summary:

Reference: Question of Peter Thiel, article

PETER THIEL: Winning Big By Betting Against Everyone

by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry published May 17, 2011, 11:43

in Business Insider

Remarks by Kent Palmer on

Posted May 19, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Quora answer: What are some of the most mind-blowing facts?

Indo-european amazement expressed in form

For me an amazing fact is that only the Indo-Europeans have the concept of Being in their language. And that both Being and Having are the most irregular verbs in Indo-European languages, and thus artificially produced by blending together other verbs. This means that Being (Sein, Sat) is an anomaly in language with all other languages having either existence or copula or some other concept rather than Being at their core.

This coupled with the fact that the Indo-European homeland was in Turkey and that Hittite is the oldest branch of the Indo-European family judged on the basis of vocabulary rather than grammar using genetic mutation analysis techniques. That the oldest megaliths in Turkey are 27,000 years or so old, showing that the Indo-Europeans probably had the oldest civilization, much older than China, Egypt or Sumeria. That in Turkey in ancient times there was a natural breadbasket with more overlapping kinds of grains present than any where on earth and that the Indo-europeans probably invented agriculture by just foraging for these grains. There are loan words in both Sumerian and Indo-European that showed that these people interacted. That the oldest sumerian epic Gilgamesh contains a fight with a monster that is probably the representative of the Indo-Europeans in the north of Sumeria. Sumeria has a completely unique language unrelated to any other known language, and it is probably the oldest civilization after the Indo-European civilization. Cities in Sumeria went from 120 people in villages to 25,000 over night with no fortifications or palaces in them but only temples showing that Plato was right that Men were created only to serve the Gods and that all other formations of civilization came later. That the Sumerians called the Indo-Europeans the Kur which meant also Hell to them, and that they probably drove the Indo-Europeans out into the Steppes where the Indo-europeans built Kurgens (Burial mounds). The Skythians who appeared out of the Stepps during Greek times were probably the result of a foray against the nomads in China a century earlier. Various tribes displaced each other in a domino effect until the Skythians popped out the other side, showing that the whole of the Steppes were populated with Indo-Europeans. The Greeks saw the Skythians as completely opposite of themselves in every way, even though the Skythians were also Indo-european,and probably truer to that tradition than the Greeks. When the Persians tried to attack the Skythians they merely taunted the Persians and said that they could only be forced to fight if the Persians took their burial mounds because they held no permanent property. On the Steppes they Indo-european precursors to the Skytians and Greeks realized a genetic possibility of the horse being big by breeding them to be larger. And when the horses became big enough to pull chariots the Indo-Europeans started taking over the world. Chariot warfare preceded warfare on horseback because the horses were still too small to ride when they could pull a chariot. The first waves of Indo-European world colonialization began in about 6,000 BC in which they took over the known world. Now as a result of this and later colonializations by the Indo-Europeans 60% of the worlds populations speak an Indo-European language. Thus the world dominance of English and other Indo-European languages today had its beginnings about Eight thousand years ago. The Indo-Europeans have achieved world domination through the development of war horses and other technologies. That the central epic concerns one such artificial technological war “horse”. That the Epics of the Illiad and Odessey are older than but related to the Mahabharata each have chariot scenes in battle as central motifs in the stories. That most technical inventions credited to the Indo-Europeans were first invented by the Chinese a thousand years earlier.

Therefore, when you put these factoids together it appears there is a correlation between the uniqueness of Indo-European languages through the fact that it has Being, and the ascent to world domination due to technological change and the roots of this conquest began long ago. Colonialization and now Globalization had a distant precursor when the Indo-Europeans struck out and conquered the world based on the power of horses when they could not yet ride them because they were not big enough yet. And that the Indo-Europeans and every other kind of human that existed outside the Africa has Neanderthal genetic factors due to passing through the Neanderthal homeland in the Middle East on the way out of Africa. There are people with that bloodline still in the Steppes today after 70 generations who eventually came into Europe as nomadic invaders.

These factoids which I connect here are not connected elsewhere to my knowledge and has led to my believing that Ontology is important to understanding our technological superiority. My hypothesis for how this is so is that Being because it creates an imaginary substrate for connecting things, allowing stronger than usual metaphors, allows us to integrate technologies that are discovered into a functioning whole rather than their merely being forgotten and needing to be invented again in isolation later as happened with the Chinese. The ability to create synergetic and integral technological products seems to be a unique Indo-european invention. But that invention also brings with it the core feature of the Western worldview which is the problem of nihilism, and this problem was recognized and delat with at length in the Indo-european epics that have survived.

So we can construe this set of factoids to indicate that the dominance of the Indo-Europeans today was based on a series of accidents and special factors that coalesced to produce the world in which we live today. And this worldview we have today has a deep past that we do not really recognize properly. From archeological finds in Turkey we can say that the Indo-Europeans were probably the oldest civilization predating what has been considered as the oldest by more than twice its age. The Indo-Europeans just happened to live in a natural Bread basket and probably invented the agriculture that made the other later .civilizations possible. The Hittites had a god prior to Uranus in their pantheon called Ahlalu which was forgotten by the time of the Greeks. The Hittites took Mesopotamia and Egypt at certain points in history. And that the other key group also nomadic was the Semites that lived between Egypt and Mesopotamia and who are considered based on analysis of Ugritic literature to have had an original monotheism, which later came to dominate our thinking destroying the old polytheisms.

So the Western worldview which we call Judao-Christian is really a meta-worldview made up of four cultural components. Two based on sedentary Civilizations crystalized around rivers, i.e. Mesopotamia and Egypt. But there are two nomadic groups that are important, one with the uniqueness of having Being in its language, and the other that has the uniqueness of original monotheism. We completely lost access to the Mesopotamian and Egyptian portions of our tradition, but then regained them through the rosetta stone on the one hand and through clay tablets and vocabularies that linked Sumerian with other languages that were preserved on those tablets. So now we are in a much better position to see the contributions of Egypt and Sumeria to our tradition than any time before for the last several millennia. We should call our tradition Indo/Suero/Semitic/Egyptian. All this is very strange and shows the contingency of our worldview which is both very ancient and full of anomalies that became norms through successive accidents and improbabilities in that very long history.

To me the most amazing thing was when I realized that the differences between kinds of Being rediscovered in modern Continental Philosophy were there in the Vedic times as the differences between the Gods and thus between the Castes in the social structure. This idea that the Kinds of Being discovered by Continental Philosophy were really very ancient in our tradition and conserved within it despite our propensity toward rampant and powerfully transformative emergence was to me astounding, and when I realized that I wrote the book The Fragmentation of Being and the Path Beyond the Void in which I perform what I all OntoMythology, i.e. reading myths through the lens of Ontology, i.e. the meta-levels of Being. This method allows us to discover how myths convey the conservative structure of the world view that lies beneath the many deep emergent transformations that break up our heritage into given, fact, theory, paradigm, episteme, ontos, existence, and absoute changes within our history. Here we are considering mind blowing facts. But these facts, even knowing them at all are dependent on the theories, paradigms, ontos, existence and absolutes that go though periodic total revision to produce eras within our tradition. When we have a paradigm or episteme or ontos change it changes what facts are significant, the affordances offered to us in the moment, it rewrites history, it gives a new mythos, and it opens up new possibilities for the future that might be realized. G.H. Mead first describes the emergent event in his Philosophy of the Present because he took as his life’s work reconciling evolution with relativity. In the process the discontinuous changes in the tradition came to the fore as the central phenomena in our tradition. But this emergent change randomly yet persistently, especially in technology, is based on deeper persistent structures that are called the Meta-levels of Being that were really discovered by Bertrand Russell and posited in Principia Mathematica as the solution to most paradoxes. Being is of course the most paradoxical of all concepts because it is the highest in the Western worldview being both less than empty because it is worse than meaningless because it is the origin of illusions and delusions, and also too full in the sense that it means something different to everyone. Thus when we apply the only solution to extreme paradox (higher logical type theory, see Copi for a good explanation of it) and the extreme paradox of Being that is an anomaly existing only in the Indo-European tradition, together then we get a static structure that underlies all emergence. That static structure both creates nihilism as the background on which emergence is seen, but the structure of the emergent events themselves. And so this feature of our worldview strikes me as extremely improbable, based on a series of blackswan events in our history that made it so we have at the same time radical change and amazing stability to world structures based on logical structures that constrain paradox and contradiction.

To me it is truly amazing that we can live within our worldview and not understand it, even though the ancients left us clues as to its structure and how to cope with living in such a worldview of nihilistic extremes. The fact that we have to deal with continual discontinuous cultural and social events as well as technological change, but at the same time subconsciously maintain the structure that causes this to happen though the preservation of the structures that produce nihilism in our tradition is amazing. We are obsessed with false mysteries like that dramatized by Dan Brown, but do not even recognize an even deeper mystery that involves everything we do together in our daily lives that was understood by the ancients who inhabited this worldview but is no longer understood by us. Thus we are traveling blindly within our own worldview rather than being illuminated by it because we illuminate it ourselves with our comprehension of it. In effect underlying all the amazing fact is something even more amazing that allows us to appreciate amazing facts, which is the structure of our worldview that produces emergence out of nihilism and that preserves the structure of the worldview in spite of continuall radical transformations that make up the contingencies of our history, and threaten everything we know and want to hang on to at every moment of our lives. We are oriented toward the amazing, as philosophers say that philosophy comes out of wonder. But the most wondrous thing is the mechanism within our worldview that produces wonder itself. Other peoples throughout human history were not as driven as we are by wonderment. And we have wonderment because we inadvertently produce it through the structure of our worldview. We produce rampant nihilism as a background so we can recognize Emergence when it happens. Our propensity toward wonderment is part of our necessity of being on the look out for the arising of emergent events out of the nihilistic background. And what we recognize in the end is that Emergence and Nihilism are themselves nihilistic opposites so nihilism as has been said by Nietzsche and Heidegger is essential to our understanding of our worldview, and also according to Heidegger essential to our understanding of the essence of technology which is nothing technological but is in fact nihilism. This link between technological progress, especially in warfare, and the dualism between emergence and nihilism at the heart of the worldview is also quite amazing because it permeates our entire culture without our recognizing it. Summary:

On Quora:

Posted May 18, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Telescoping Text Experiment: Listen to my story!

Posted May 16, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Quora answer: What is the difference between design thinking and analytical thinking?

What is the difference between design thinking and analytical thinking?

Design as Synthetic Thinking as opposed to Reductive Analysis summary:

This is a very good question, something unusual for Quora, so it deserves an in depth answer. The reason it is a good question is that this is something that is widely misunderstood even by people for whom this is a speciality. In other answers I have talked about the relation between synthesis and analysis, between what Peirce calls analytic precision, and synthetic precission. Understanding this distinction is key to trying to answer this question about design. So let us start again from the beginning and try to place this insight of Peirce in the context of this question. Of course for me this question is close to home because it is near the topic of my dissertation, which is called Emergent Design at or and so we will probably spill over into the ideas presented there as we get into the question more deeply. And what is more to the point is that it really is like the difference between Continental Philosophy and Analytical Philosophy which is a gigantic rift left over from the Cold War. And this is one of the reasons design thinking is so poorly understood. This question is rooted deeply in our tradition and so we must explore those roots in order to understand the question properly.

So we need to do some stage setting in order to orient ourselves to this question, so that we are approaching it from the right direction. First we must ask the question, what is thinking, before we try to get into the difference between the kinds of thinking related to synthesis and analysis. Fortunately, we have Heidegger’s What is called Thinking as a jumping off point to give us some idea of where to begin. In What is called Thinking Heidegger in the relates thinking to the Old English cognate word Thanking which is related to memory and the disposing of what comes from memory. Thus for Heidegger Thinking/Memory/Thanking is receiving, not something we do from ourselves but something that is given to us as a gift. We are given gifts which we are thankful for, and we are given thoughts that we think about and ponder. Of course, for Heidegger what is the most thought provoking is that we are not yet thinking. This is the gift we are given to think about which is nearest our own essence. But also he looks at the saying of Parmenides that Thinking and Being are the Same which he translates as “Needful: the saying also thinking too: being :to be” which is normally translated “Needful: the saying (legein) and so the thinking (noein), to that being is” which finally becomes under Heidegger’s scrutiny “It is useful to let-lie-before-us (legein) and also the taking-to-hear (noein) also: beings in being” where he eventually interprets the being in being as the Presence of what is present. So this gives us a beginning point in considering the nature of thinking that we will eventually have to distinguish between synthetic and analytic. As said in my answer concerning Kant these duals are contrasted with with A Priori and A Posteriori distinction so that we get a cartesian cross of these two distinctions which is the basis of Kantian critical transcendental philosophy. So let us think along with Heidegger for a moment concerning the nature of thought as gift and related to its cognate in Old English Thanking which is related to memory.

“It is useful to let-lie-before-us (legein) and also the taking-to-hear (noein) also: beings in Being”

Saying (legein, related to logos) and Thinking (noein, nous, noesis) is are the intertwined faculties that give rise to various kinds of knowledge like Techne (knowledge of making), Episteme (knowledge proper), Phronesis (practical knowledge), and Sophia (theoretical wisdom).

I think we can safely say that thinking is what results in knowledge ultimately, and knowledge is the most stable aspect of our experience.
So this brings us to a crucial point, made over and over in my various answers, which is that Being is unique to Indo-European languages, and that in these languages the purdurence of Knowledge is displaced to the construct from fragments of different linguistic roots of Being (Sein in German, Sat in Sanscrit). So the realization of the fragmentation of Being has a profound impact on our understanding of what Being (as well as Having) is. It is these two roots that are most fragmented in the Indo-European languages which is very revealing. For instance in Object Oriented Design the key relations that objects can have with each other are ISa and HASa. One means it is the same inheritance hierarchy, and the other means that it is attached to the other object by being pointed at by its attributes or being in a Queue within the object. One means that the object is essentially the same as another with a few more attributes and methods, while the other says that one object is external to the other which owns it. This split is like the split in Spencer Brown’s Laws of Form between Crossing and Calling. For Brown Extension collapses and nesting vanishes. There is an inverse rule set for anti-form in which nesting collapses and extension collapses which is rarely discussed, because Brown did not consider the inverse of his own rules. But we can see that something being the same as something else X is Y is a collapsing of extension or nesting, while having has to do with extension where extension or nesting vanishes. In other words when something HAS something else it is either within or without what dominates the other and it causes its independence to vanish. So there is a duality between Being and Having. And the Laws of Form take one approach of this relation while the anti-laws take the other approach. Laws of form emphasizes both (as calling) extension collapses producing something and (as crossing) nesting vanishes producing nothing, but in the anti-laws extension vanishes producing nothing and nesting collapses producing something. So the laws of form produces something (a single mark) outside while the anti-laws produce something (a single mark) inside. In this process Being and Having cooperate either way to be productive either outwardly through laws or inwardly through anti-laws. Because our Western society has a hidden assumption that the reason for being of man is to produce (See the Mirror of Production by Baudrillard) then it is the laws of outward form that is emphasized by Spencer Brown, but the other direction that produces something inward can also be emphasized as it was in ancient India where it was spiritual technology that was emphasized rather than outward material technology. But in India the inward spirituality was based on SAT just as our outward technology is based on Being (Sein). Being is the key to the production of technology. Techne and Phronesis are the outward kinds of knowledge and Sophia and Episteme are the inward kinds of knowledge. Nous is the source of all of these as intelligence that is the faculty that makes them all possible. Parmenides says Being and Thinking are the Same. And Heidegger says that the Same is different from identity and means belonging together. So Being and Thinking belong together, because ultimately Being is intelligibility, and that is why Heidegger takes the meaning of Being as his ultimate question.

“It is useful (necessary) to let-lie-before-us (legein) and also the taking-to-heart (noein) also: beings in Being”.

It is therefore useful for us to let-lie-before-us (collected and organized as Present, Identical, Real, True) and what appears as gift in that should be taken-to-heart (distilled into a conceptual non-representable quintessence) as beings in Being which stand in for the knowledges (knowls) in Knowledge by stealing their persistence. The types of knowledges has to do with Techne, Phronesis, Episteme and Sophia which are approaches to different types of entities that are known. We can know how to make (techne) with excellence (arte), we can know how to do in a practical way in the world with respect to external things, or we can know how to understand theoretically, or in terms of philosophy. Note that these could correspond in some way to Plato’s divided line where sophia is knowledge of non-representable intelligibles, and episteme is knowledge of representable intelligibles, and teche is how to relate to grounded opinions and appearances, and phronesis is how to relate to ungrounded opinions.

So we can see with this that already we are in a complex nexus when we ask what thinking is in-itself as it relates to Being and Having with respect to knowledge and eventities within the world. It is a “problematic” (a field of significant inquiry) that as we explore it becomes more and more problematic for us. So when we add the question of the difference between Design and Analytical Thinking then we really are pushed over the edge into a morass of distinctions which have plagued our philosophical tradition. We take Design to be an artificial synthesis where the designer projects a plan (object of design) which is then executed to get the designed object. Analysis is a way to approach either the designer, the design, or the designed object by taking them apart and reducing things to the lowest common denominator. This analytical reduction substitutes supervenience for emergence. But with the dominance of Analytical Philosophy english language countries (UK/USA) then there is a fundamental problem thinking about design philosophically if one has an analytical prejudice. That is because due to Cold War politics we gave up on thinking about Hegelian syntheses because that way of thinking was taken over into Marxism in a very superficial and mechanical fashion. However, Sartre in Critique of Dialectical Reason treats dialectics for the first time exhaustively as essentially dialectical and thus revolutionizes our idea of dialectics.
So we need to recount the arising of this distinction between synthesis and analysis and put it into context. The fundamental text for reasoning in our tradition is Euclid’s geometry. In the geometry Euclid summarizes the findings of the school of Plato regarding mathematics. In the proofs of the Geometry Euclid is using nous with as reason to derive necessities implied in the axioms of geometry. The proofs are of necessities, that are in turn useful for other proofs and for understanding the basic mathematical a prioris that underly our experience of the singular of space seen in geometry. Descartes recognizes extension and mind. Extension is of space and the mind is something abstracted from that medium. Kant on the other hand sees the mind as something that projects a piori spacetime, categories and schemas onto the world, and the first step in that is to project not just a priori analysis of concepts, but also a priori synthesis of the singular space itself as a necessity. Synthesis must come before analysis, but that synthesis in the first instance comes from us as an ecstasy of dasein as being-in-the-world from our faculty of imagination. For Kant the transcendental subject projects the a prioris on experience from beyond experience and it cannot quite reach the heart of the transcendental object which is the noumena, but the two are kept in sync by the transcendental of God who bridges the link between the two. In the process the transcendental ego is able to analyze concepts alone as an analytical a priori. But it must also project the a priori synthesis of space, time, categories and schemas in order to avoid the critique of Hume but also as a receptivity toward experience itself, which refuses to isolate reason from experience and thus pursues understanding as the mixture of the two ends of the divided line and thus of the kinds of knowledge. The categories of Kant have a static dialectical form, and Hegel transforms this philosophy into something dynamic that sees Philosophy from the point of view of History, in Phenomenology of Mind. In that book Hegel gives a dialectical account of the development of philosophy from the master/slave dilemma. Only slaves can be self-conscious in his opinion, but of course Nietzsche tries to reverse that decision by developing a self-consciousness for the nobles as well. This brings us back to the Being verses Having distinction. The Master has the Slave. But in time this reverses so that the Slaves take control of the master, as we see with the Greek Slaves in Rome where the Greeks really took control of determining Roman culture even though the Romans won the wars and took them as slaves. Hegel under the inspiration of Heraclitus and the Skeptics like Sextus Empiricus develops a dynamic view that hearkens back to the idea of the dialectic in plato as something that moves like a conversation, by question and answer rather than a doctrinal statement. Notice that all the kinds of knowledge apply to speech. There is the Techne and Phronesis taught by the Sophists, but there is also the Episteme and Sophia that is taught by real philosophers like Socrates. Socrates uses dialectic to make stable distinctions that point to non-representables that are the source of wisdom. He wants to show that the Sophists who merely teach the practical and technical side of speech do not get to the profound core of things of relevance and significance and ultimate meaning. But what is of interest in Plato’s portrayal of Socrates is that we cannot tell him from the Sophists in many instances so the distinction between Philosophers and Sophists is a very fine line that Socrates seems to cross a times, and at other times the Sophists seem to cross in the other direction. Specifically I am thinking here of Gorgias who is the ultimate skeptic attempting to prove that nothing IS in contrast with Parmenides as portrayed by Plato as one who is saying that only Being is and everything else has non-existence. For Hegel these are Antimonies and they reduce to Heraclitus’ view that all is flux, but that the flux advances in a synthetic and dialectical fashion which is part of our logocentrism. In Hegel’s logic being and nothing produce flux that turns into dasein, i.e. determinate being, which then Heidegger adopts as the central character in his drama of the projection of Being as an ecstasy, that produces the monolith of Being that includes two modalities static like Parmenides and dynamic like Heraclitus. Heidegger says that these two modalities of being-in-the-world, i.e. ready-to-hand and present-at-hand are equi-primordial and are based on the temporality of dasein which is enveloped by equi-primordial moments of time, but the most important of which is the future, i.e. the temporality that is the most exemplary of projection. Heidegger says that the categories of Kant are all about the object of science and that we need to balance those by understanding the existentials of Dasein which are discoveredness, understanding and talk whose mutual core is Care.
“It is useful (necessary) to let-lie-before-us (legein) and also the taking-to-heart (noein) also: beings in Being”.

Talk is logos related to reason (ratio) which lays things out before us. And when what is laid out before us is necessary prior to all experience then that is the a priori. This occurs when we are dealing with the representable intelligibles in geometry which is based on the synthetic a priori of projected space. But when we take what is laid out to heart (nous) then we have a chance of approaching the non-representable intelligibles. Those are things like the Fate and Good, which is contrast to representables like Right and Order. Proofs are right or wrong, and they either exemplify the necessary order of things in space or they do not. So there are really two series that constitute the intelligibility of Being, i.e. what can be thought and spoken about, which are the aspects and the core nonduals. The aspects are Reality, Truth, Identity, and Presence (to which Heidegger alludes) that appear in the realm of doxa (appearance, opinion) and on the other hands the non-nihilistic core distinctions between Order, Right, Good and Fate that appear in the realm of the intelligibles (ratio).

Now we start to round the corner to head for home after wandering about in the metaphysical desert for some time. Without the singular synthesis of a priori projected space we cannot do the analysis using the ratio that is necessary to do proofs in geometry. Synthesis always proceeds Analysis in Kant, and Hegel goes to the heart of the issue and says how Synthesis is produced in time. Analysis is a laying out (legein) within speech or thought, while synthesis can only be understood by a taking to heart or an internalization (nous). In Husserl this difference appears as the difference between abstraction and essence perception (intuition). Analysis deals with abstractions (glosses) while when we look at objects and perceive their essences we are apprehending the internal constraints on their attributes that make them the kind (species) they are. We take to heart the object when we perceive its essence, while we lay out the object separating and reducing when we do analysis. But either way we are concerned with the necessity that gives beings their Being from which we derive our knowledges of the world.

So in Design we are using the Schemas that we project on Spacetime/Timespace which according to the S-prime hypothesis of General Schemas Theory are ten: Facet, Monad, Pattern, Form, System, OpenScape (Meta-system), Domain, World, Kosmos, Pluriverse. (as an aside we should not that the epics of our worldview, i.e. the Mythopoietic and the Metaphysical or the Heterochronic are kosmic). When we design we use the fact that the schemas organize both language and spacetime into various nesting scopes of templates of understanding or intelligibility of order. When we use the schemas we are using them in a pure way to structure our designs that we then describe using language or logos. Designs are a laying out that lays before us which points to the emergent properties of the semiotic design object that we would like to realize in the object of design that is implemented. But we need to use nous, i.e. a taking to heart to give the design the proper synthetic properties that go beyond the parts have on their own which is discovered by analysis when they are considered only supervenient. The design is a model, and as such we can relate it to the formal system that is exemplified by the aspects identity, presence and truth and the properties that come out of their relations which are completeness, consistency, and clarity (well-formedness). However, it is when we add the aspect of Reality that meaning is generated, i.e. the intelligibility by which we recognize that the design can be verified and validated and is in fact coherent. This fact that meaning is generated when we add the aspect of reality to the formal system model is like the taking to heart after the laying out of the pieces of the design. The taking to heart and the generation of synthesis are correlates of each other. The design synthesis is a projection of the Schemas on spacetime as the dwelling together of eventities but it is understood internally as it is represented by language which is also organized by the schemas. This homeomorphism between what can be represented in language which captures episteme and sophia and what can be built with our techne and phronesis is a fundamental necessity in Design. I have proposed in my dissertation that this occurs in terms of Quadralectics and Pentalectics the extension of Hegel’s dialectics and trialectics associated with work. Both General Schemas Theory and the idea of extending Dialectics and Trialectics into higher dimensional configurations is new in our tradition. But you can read about that in my dissertation.

Our point here has been to explore what Heidegger says about thinking in general in order to lay the ground work for understanding the difference between Synthetic Design thinking and Analytic Reductive thinking. And then we have developed the Analysis and Synthesis distinction out of that ground, because it takes the form of both laying out useful as a precursor to analysis and taking to heart that gives coherence to the synthesis and generates the meaning that gives intelligibility to beings which are part of the Being of the synthetic design.

As we have said in other answers it is Peirce that tries to bridge the chasm between Hegel and Kant. He takes what has been learned though the Hegelian wars back to Kant and Logic and improves on logic by introducing a phenomenology and a semiotics, and improves on logic by introducing the third order of the syllogism that gives us hypothesis which he calls abduction (as opposed to induction, and deduction). He also introduces the existential operator into symbolic logic. But in many ways his most useful contribution was emphasizing the importance of Thirds (contiua, mediation, synthesis) over Firsts (isolata) and Seconds (relata). In this vein he distinguished Analytical Precision from Synthetic Precission. As shown separately this is the difference between looking at the part in the context of the synthesis, and taking the part out and isolating it and breaking up the synthesis through reduction. Because of our extremity of avoiding synthetic thought during the Cold War, we are left without a good handle on these key ideas of Hegel and Peirce and how they related to design. Design is a funny combination of analysis precision and synthetic precission. On the one hand Design entails projecting through pictures, plans and models the synthetic whole which is unachievable through mere repetition, and on the other hand the Design is a laying out of analytical parts and showing how they interface together and play a role in the functioning of the whole that is being designed. Thus to carry out Design we need both Analysis and Synthesis. This is why in industry (cultural Physis) there are two kinds of people operating with the title Systems Engineers. There are application specialists and true systems engineers. Application specialists emphasize reduction, speciality, and analysis, while Systems Engineers emphasize the whole synthesis of the end product being designed. These groups do not understand each other very well, but they are in the best circumstances able to cooperate in teams to produce complex working designs with the anticipated emergent properties. Design is a projected hypothetical schematization that is arrived at though dialectical (discussion), trialectical (work), quadralectical (applying minimal methods to represent non-representables), and pentalectical (system/meta-system co-design) synthetic processes. Thus the abduction of Peirce is essential to understand how Design is part of Logic. Deduction is a result of an Analyitic a priori, while Induction is part of a Analytic a posterori. So Synthesis is left out of account and comes back into account only if we understand that there is not just the synthetic a posteriori of original experience as pre-existing synthesis in experience but that must be based on the synthetic a priori of singular of projected spacetime/timespace. The synthetic a priori of singular spacetime is projected as a chora or receptacle as Plato says within which synthetic a posteriori experienced things appear. They are already schematized because the synthetic a priori projection of space time is not a homogeneous plenum as is usually thought, but is instead a set of nested scopes of different organizations that provide different templates of understanding at different scopes. We project as an abduction the hypothesis onto the synthetic a posteriori of experience from our understanding that comes from the combination of reason and experience, or ratio and doxa. But that abduction is projected on the fundamental synthesis given in empirical experience itself. Only after that can we induct with the Analytical a posteriori or deduct with the Analytical a priori. In my dissertation I make the case that this work of design that takes conceptual, essential, perspectival, and design approaches to understanding experience occurs at the Hyper Being (Differance) meta-level of Being. Thus design is part of the internal coherence of the sign itself at its higher meta-levels of Being. So design is essential not an accident as it represents what Plato calls the third way of Being in the Timaeus by which the Demiurge creates the world. All our creation of things in the world reflect that same urge to pro-create the world that was experienced by the Demiurge and which was embodied though the third kind of Being that appears in design which is the slippery interface between System product and process.

Posted May 15, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Engineer as Oedipus

This is a continuation of the answer to the last question about Engineers that was not published on the Quora question.

This statement about the essence of the technologist or engineer is true but with a deeper truth than verification and validation and correctness, and even a deeper truth than aleithia, uncovering process truth, but with the kind of truth that exists at the hyper Being level. Each aspect of Being (Presence, Identity, Truth, and Reality) has a different nature at each level of Hyper Being. So Pure Truth, is different from Process Truth, which is again different from Hyper Truth and Wild Truth. Hyper truth which is at stake here is more than just the uncovering of something, like Oedipus uncovering his true ancestry. Rather hyper truth is like the truth of the answer to the riddle that the Sphinx gives Oedipus. When Oedipus gives the answer it kills her. The question was what walked on four then two then three legs in the different parts of the day. The answer was man, which was also Oedipus himself because of his wound to his feet. Very few ask why it was that the Sphinx killed herself when she was given this answer, between the killing of the father and the marrying of the mother by Oedipus, before his entry into the city as the new King. The reason is that the kind of truth that the answer had was of the nature of Hyper Being which is implicated both in creation and destruction, like Shiva, like Dionysus. The sphinx itself was a combination of a woman and a lion and eagle and a snake. Thus it is like the chimera a combination of animals. The original egyptian sphinxes had the heads of Pharaohs and were propitious guardians while for the greeks they were sinister monsters that ate those who could not answer their question. In Oedipus, Philosopher Gaux equates the Sphinx with the young girl or wife to be of the Hero that becomes in the Failed Hero, Oedipus, the Sphinx. But I think this interpretation is wrong in an otherwise very insightful book.

We can tell much by looking at the secondary myths related to the Sphinx. The alternative question was what are the two sisters that give birth to each other, whose answer is night and day. The alternative death of the Sphinx was self-devouring, rather than jumping off of a height. Now, if we go back to Egypt the model of self creation was the myth of the god Atum who self-procreates. So we have on the Egyptian side self-creation in a Male deity who is identified at the Pharaoh and on the Greek side self-destruction in a female monster. Of course, the Egyptian picture is really much more complicated than this due to the proliferation of names and attributes of this god, into many gods. Even the creator god had another manifestation which was Khepri, symbolized by the scarab but also an image of self-creation. Now if we take all these mythic facts we see an image of Hyper Being arises as that which allows the parts of the Chimera of the Sphinx to be combined, i.e. in ordinate parts are connected just like we connect the very different parts of our systems through the mediation of software. Hyper Being due to its mercurial nature allows transformations to occur within the system, and these transformations can be across time and space. So in the Chimera it is across the space of the body of the monster which though consisting of different parts of animals produces a new whole with its own unity and characteristics with their own emergent logic. For instance, the  Sphinx in egypt are guardians, but in greece they produce questions that the traveler must answer in order to gain right of way. There are two kinds of creatures that are in the questions. Either there is Man, who has different standings during his different ages, or woman who gives rise to her own second sister who gives rise in turn to the first sister. This mutual giving rise to each other is a lot like the Amicable numbers, it is other creation rather than self-creation, but which results in mediated self-creation. Balancing this self-creation is the self-destruction by devouring itself that is the other alternative ending of the myth. Now we need to contrast this scenario with the one in the standard myth where the answer is man and the sphinx jumps off of a height to her destruction. Man transforms his mode of standing throughout his life with 4, 2, 3 legs. Four legs makes him like a mammal, and two legs makes him like a bird. Three legs do not exist in nature normally. Three is the number of instability, for instance Oedipus is cursed to kill his father at a three way fork in the road. When his mother tells him not to look into his own past, he decides to pursue the issue where ever it leads, to his own eventual disgrace. Thus he takes a fork in the road in time in terms of his decision to continue to pursue the source of the plague as he has sworn to do. The father the fork is in space in the road, and in time the fork is in his decision to pursue the truth no matter what. So it is very significant that the last element not like any animal is three legs one of which is artificial. This artificial propping up of man is telling because it is man who props himself up by means of artificial creations that are designed using the laws of nature but are different from natures design. Notice that the Sphinx has the wings of an eagle or bird, and the body of a lion. Thus the first two characteristics related to 4 and 3 feet are embodied in the sphinx. The two other attributes are the head and breast of a woman and a serpent headed tail. So the two ends of the animal represent the phallic male at the hind end and head of the woman at the front end, and so basically there is a fusing of gender in the Sphinx. As I have said elsewhere gender is in category theory terms a modification, rather than a kind of a kind as Smith has said. Thus we have in the sphinx not just a transformation between earth (mammal, 4 legs) and air (bird, two legs) which is a natural transformation of species, but we have fused with that a modification of gender, in representing male and female characteristics symbolically. We can follow Lacan and say that the phallic and the artificial leg of the old man are in fact related in terms of the floating signifier called by him The Name of the Father, which is the sign of the Phallus. And this floating signifier has precisely the nature of Hyper Being as described by Deleuze in the Logic of Sense. So when we mix up the species, the modification, and the floating signifier together then we get a confluences of indicators of the mercurial nature of Hyper Being i.e. the sign of design. In this sense the question of the Sphinx is like the design, she has designs on every traveler. When the unique traveler Oedipus answers her question self-creation turns to self-destruction, its opposite. Now we come to the other issue that has been left out which is that Oedipus is lame from birth because he was exposed as a child by his father attempting to avert the curse from the Delphic oracle. Thus the sign of the Father was the wounding of the son in the foot, causing his foot to be swollen and the name of Oedipus was swollen foot. Thus his name is the sign of what the father did to him, this is what is meant by the Name of the Father. It is a floating signifier if it is a blank space in two series which can move around in the intersection of the two series like a bubble under a carpet. The registers are the literal and the metaphoric. The question of the Sphinx has to be answered metonymically because it was created metaphorically. So the two registers are metaphor and metonymy as we see in Barthes. So we get this strange configuration which is that the one who is lame, i.e. has 1.5 legs talks about the elder who has one artificial leg, i.e. 2.5  legs. This is a difference of deficiency and excess. Thus the artificiality is an excess based on the wound which represents the sign (Name) of the Father as deficiency in Oedipus himself. This excess and deficiency is added to amalgam of gender and essence as another kind of transform which is a mapping which can be either injected , surjected, (both: bijected), neither or partial. So from a categorical perspective what is missing here? It is the functor. A functor is a mapping between categories. The series in mathematical category is arrow (mapping differences), functor, natural transformation (species difference), modification (gender difference), and after that a fluctuation. So this is the gap the whole not represented in the field of difference that we are dealing with that includes both the question and the answer as well as the Sphinx and Oedipus. The functor is the mapping between categories which is missing in the field, so this is the gap that allows the floating signifier to arise structurally in this field. The functor is what allows Oedipus to answer the question because he can create a functor from metaphor to metonymy and based on this ability to understand the element missing from the field of signifiers. He supplies the signifier who is himself, a man who is both more than and less than a man because he is wounded in the foot, but then probably has to carry a staff to compensate. So this man is marked in a way that makes him different from a normal unmarked man, because he is the pharmacon. He is going to be before the end of the story both more than a normal man, a king, and less than a normal man, an outcast. The riddle and its answer is in the place of the design as Hyper Sign. It supplies the missing functor between metaphor and metonymy. It is the transformation between self-production (sisters giving rise to each other) and self-destruction (devouring of herself). All this is just to indicate that in the Oedipus myth is signified Hyper Truth. It also has Wild Truth as well in it. The myth encompasses all the kinds of truth in our worldview including the ultra truth of the Delphic Oracle itself. We use this structural analysis just to indicate that Hyper Truth of Hyper Signs has been around a long time within the worldview even though the tradition lost sight of it after Plato. In the case of Oedipus it appears as the enigma of his fate on the basis of which he knows how to solve riddles posed by the Sphinx. The Sphinx is an imaginary entity with emergent properties, it is the representation of the embodiment of the system, and the riddle and answer are the design, and Oedipus himself, the failed hero as philosopher, is the engineer. The engineer is the failed scientist, who creates artificial designs for cultural artifacts rather than pursuing the discovery of the design of nature. Oedipus uses his hands to commit his crime of killing his father, and his phallus in the crime of incest with his mother, but it is language that he uses to defeat the Sphinx by understanding that the missing element in the field was the functor between the tropes of metaphor and metonymy. The engineer deals with documents which describe the design. The engineer deals in enigmatic technical language. He cannot touch the product. But he does not do his creation as procreation as the Demiurge does which is where Hyper Being is called out in that text, and he does not use his hands. So he has to do his creation in language written in the specifications.

The engineer is crippled as is Oedipus. He does not have a Name that is assigned by the tradition as the scientist does, yet he has status over the technician, who only carries out orders and does not understand the design that the engineer has created, but that status means he cannot touch the product. So he is hampered by his anonymity and the fact that he does not own the rights to his patents of the invention he creates for the corporation, but he is also hampered by the structural opposite of not being able to touch the product during its construction except in special circumstances due to union rules. So the engineer is hemmed in in a way similar to Oedipus by nihilistic opposites.

The engineer creates a monster, i.e. an abomination, an unnatural combination of elements sewn together like a crazy quilt, just like the Sphinx itself. The Sphinx represents the design space that is articulated by the meta-levels of Being with the widest part at the level of Hyper Being. All the N-categories are crossed in a cartesian cross with the metaphysical principles of Peirce and Fuller to produce this design space. And it has the strange structure of a meta-system as represented by the semiotic field that includes the questioner and questioned. The riddle and its interpretation are like the design problem and its solution, it includes all the n-categories but it is the functor that is the key level because the mapping between different categories epitomizes the relations between various species of things that exist within the same design and need to be harmonized within the design to produce the needed performance.

Once we realize that in our culture the engineer is structurally in a similar position of Oedipus to the Sphinx then we can understand how the scientist is in a similar position as Oedipus to the plague. Oedipus is trying as King to discover the source of the plague within the community not realizing until too late that he is that source. The plague is an external phenomena of nature that has descended on and is enveloping the city. Oedipus is out to discover its cause in the nature of his community, which he intends to drive out as a pharmacon not realizing that it will be he himself that he will drive out. The plague is a sign of uncleanness of some kind and the disfavor of the gods that envelops the whole community, and this enveloping nature is a sign that it is related to Wild Being. The community is constricted by the plague, and Oedipus’s answer moves into a new realm by introducing the missing functor between metaphor and metonymy to answer the riddle. Answering the riddle transforms the Sphinx from self-creation of the two sisters of the alternative riddle to self-destruction by self-devouring of her alternative death. On the other hand the falling from a height which is the death in the standard myth is a sign of groundlessness. The whole riddle and secret answer dialectic is itself groundless as is language itself in relation to the physus, because it is emergent rather than supervenient.

Metaphor is a carrying across based on the substance of Being as a substrate. True metaphor only occurs on the basis of Being. Metonymy is rather the substitution of whole for the part. The riddle carries across from one part of the day to another with different standings in each part of the day. Man at his prime as present-at-hand at the height of the arc of his development stands on two feet. But as a child he is like an animal that crawls on one four limbs and does not have language. I his old age he needs artificial support so he has three supports instead of two. Oedipus does a mapping from day to life, and he does a mapping metonymic substitution of himself as foot wounded man for creature with differing numbers of legs. His answer is both metaphor and metonymy at the same time thus it plays with the divide between continuity and discontinuity. But it is also a functor between these two categories of trope because he is a particular marked man who is the answer to the riddle that is signified by the riddle species man, who is unique in gaining language and rising out of the state of most animals as he matures, and also the only one who extends himself artificially expanding his being in the world by artificial props that give him a different standing in his world that other things who do not project a world schema.

Anyway this should give you some idea of how we can see the Myth of Oedipus as telling us about the structure of the worldview in terms of the the meta-levels of Being and how that applies to the sign, interpreted at the hyper being level as design. And how the monstrosity of the Sphinx can be seen as the artificial emergent technical system and Oedipus himself can be seen as standing in the place of the engineer. The technological system has an essence of nihilism and the technologist has an essence of emergence, and these together are nihilistic or artificial extreme duals. Thus we have said the most general statement about the engineer.

Posted May 12, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Quora Answer: What is the best generalization statement about engineers?

What is the best generalization statement about engineers?

The essence of the Engineer summary:

As a social scientist that became and engineer by accident, I have noticed about my colleagues that:

They generally do not read articles in their field but assume that they already know the answers to questions, and do not seek outside information on problems they face.

They do not understand the scientific method and thus spend a lot of time tinkering instead of solving the problems by known methods. Design of experiments is rare.

They are generally prejudiced against higher degrees believing that a BSEE is enough education for every engineer.

They are generally against any process conditions being placed on their work, but also generally suffer from the problems that come from not having processes. They are only concerned with products not processes.

Over specialization is the rule, and people who have a broader view of the system developed are rare.

I was shocked when I realized that these attributes were shared by many engineers.

My perspective is that Scientists/Engineers/Technicians have Master/Slave relationships between these class levels. All of these levels are part of the Industrial and Technological complex and thus all suffer from equally from the problems that have been discovered in Philosophy of Science over the last half of the last century. In other words, Scientists attempt to discover the design of nature, and Engineers attempt to use that scientific knowledge to create artifacts that work and themselves have designs which are different from those of nature. Scientists wish to get their names inscribed into the history of science by having discovered something. On the other hand in our society Engineers are anonymous, corporations for the most part get the benefits of what the engineers patent. So you can see that there is a distinct duality between the scientists and engineers. Also Engineers are distinguished by a class relationship from the technicians who must do the manual work. In large companies with unions engineers are forbidden from doing any manual work as that would take work away from the technicians. Thus actually the engineer only ends up touching prototypes and his design and specification documents, and seldom get a chance to go beyond that domain into actual hands on engineering. This is very frustrating for engineers who above all else love to get their “hands dirty” working with the hardware in question, as they are breadboarding. As this frustration builds they either do their hands on work at home or create a startup eventually of some kind. Software engineers are allowed to touch their product because it is something written, like the documents and specifications that engineers deal with concerning the hardware.

Now the case that I want to make is that Scientists/Engineers/Technicians are a useless distinction from the Engineering point of view, but is extremely telling as a class distinction point of view. The difference between Science and Engineering is a reification of the distinction between Logos (Academia) and Physis (Industry) that is the key distinction at the core of our worldview. But actually scientists cannot do their experiments without engineers, and engineers cannot design working artifact without the knowledge of the design of nature. So this false dichotomy that makes the Engineer (Whose name is lost in the archives of the patent office) the slave of the Scientist (who has a name that will go down in history). Slave here just means that one is promoted and has prestige while the other is defaced and demoted by our society so that we always know who discovered what in science, but we rarely know who invented something if they worked for a corporation when they did it.

The second distinction also enforces a fundamental distinction in our worldview in as much as we can consider the philosophy of Heidegger who talks about the kinds of Being in terms of handedness. It is fascinating that engineers are not allowed to touch the actual hardware except in special circumstances due to the technicians economic right to do so. According to Heidegger there are at least two modalities, present-at-hand and ready-to-hand. Dasein is characterized by handedness, and that is because for Heidegger touching something by us is different from things touching each other. Heidegger calls this difference between types of touching the difference between modalities of Being. I call these two modalities Pure Being (Objective/Subjective, Parmenides and Process Being (Circumspective Concern, Heraclitus). Now this distinction plays a large role in engineering because it distinguishes between the presentation mode of Products, and the process by which the in technological infrastructure is created. So Engineers are constantly moving across this boundary when they try to implement their designs to satisfy requirements. But it is intriguing that society imposes a structure on touching the object of design. I make a distinction in my dissertation between the object of design and the designed object. The object of design is the product, the implemented result of design. But the designed object is the “object as designed” which is the result of the design process and is a semiotic representation of what is to be built. The class split between the technician and the engineer precisely separates these two states of the product under construction. But more importantly you can see that it is precisely the issue of the hands that separates the classes of the engineer and the technician. The engineer in large companies is not allowed to touch the product, or move it except under special circumstances, such as in trouble shooting in testing. The key issue in these class distinctions (class in terms of prestige but also in terms of pay in the case of engineers and technicians) is the touch in separating these classes of workers which is very interesting, and supports Heidegger’s contentions in Being and Time. He separates the two modes of Being into present-at-hand objectivity/subjectivity which Merleau-Ponty associates with pointing and the process of producing the product that involves touch of a different non-objective kind which Merleau-Ponty associates with grasping in the Phenomenology of Perception. The focus of the present-at-hand is unity of the product, and the focus of the ready-to-hand is the totality of the technological infrastructure that makes the product possible which is perceived though circumspective concern.  We are obsessed by the presented product in its unity and we ignore the process by which it is produced. And this ignoring of the process by which it is produced has deep quality issues, because quality only can be realized in the product if it is developed through a quality process. This is the whole focus of the Software Engineering Institute’s Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI) which is not applied to all engineering disciplines not just software anymore. Now this distinction between product system and process is key, because traditionally it was technicians that had to follow a proscribed process in handling the product in the implementation process, but now Engineers are being asked to do the same thing. Eventually even scientists may have to follow processes. I have a tutorial on processes on my website if you would like to learn more about my views of them.

But here I want to focus on how we should interpret the hierarchy of scientist/engineer/technician. The first distinction has to do with logos/physus which is one of the central dualisms within our culture from Greek times to the present. The second has to do with the difference between the engineer and technician in terms of touch which Heidegger uses at the basis for describing our being-in-the-world that is in terms of hands either present-at-hand or ready-to-hand. Two things touching each other as Heidegger said is completely different from our touching something. Our touching something constitutes the totality of the world which is realized as the technological infrastructure. So the engineer produces the technological infrastructure through creating designs, and then these designs are carried out in production by technicians and production engineers or manufacturing engineers. Not only the product is designed by the production infrastructure by which the product is produced is also designed. Thus I make the point that engineers are tied by these distinctions to Design, and so then if we are going to understand engineering then we need to understand systems design which I try to understand in my dissertation called Emergent Design.

In these class distinctions between scientist/engineer/technician we are in part defining our relation to our worldview and its internal structure. In one distinction we are connecting to the core logos/physis dichotomy, and in the other we are distinguishing the distance from the product of the design. So if we step back from the product one step we get the design of the artifact or the production line by the engineer stepping away from the touch of the design by the technician. Stepping away again we get the distinction between scientist and engineer one of which is discovering the design of nature in academia, and the other of which is designing the technological infrastructure based on the laws of nature. But these two need each other just as much as the engineer needs the technician within industry. To be implemented the product has to be touched. To designed properly the design needs to be based on a knowledge of nature learned by scientists in academia. You cannot have experiments like the Large Hadron Collider without engineers. Scientists have to have engineers, just as Engineers have to have the knowledge of scientists about nature.

Therefore, I make the case that really all these are false distinctions, and there is really only one person, who can be seen in his garage discovering, inventing, and tinkering. This Engineer who leaves his job to produce a start up combines all of these characteristics that are separated out in industry into one person. And because of this ultimate merger between these roles we have much of the creativity in technology in our economy to thank it for. But, the distinctions are useful because in them we can see part of the structure of our worldview being enforced and realized, because these various roles have economic and social impacts on those who fulfill them. In these social distinctions we can see the distinctions that are hidden when they are all collapsed in the lone engineer/scientist/technician at work in his garage. The fact that these social distinctions support some of the contentions of Heidegger in Being and Time is quite remarkable.

But in my opinion this brings home the reason why the philosophy of science concerns apply just as much to the engineer as the scientist, if not more so. Thus there is the idea of Popper that we cannot prove a theory, but can only disprove it. Design is just a theory of what will bring about certain emergent properties when implemented. Design of cultural and technological artifacts are the province of the Engineer, while the design of nature is the province of the scientist. Thus if we take Popper at his word then we can only prove a design by implementing it. And it is this fact that takes the product out of the present-at-hand of the finished product which is static and can be pointed at and thrusts it into the ready-to-hand of the process of implementation which uses the technological infrastructure to create other aspects of the technological infrastructure. This is called recently in software “eating ones own dog food”, a disgusting analogy but apropos. We reify one aspect of the technological infrastructure momentarily, freezing it, so that we can implement another aspect of the technological infrastructure. And this self-consuming quality is at the root of what Heidegger calls the ready-to-hand which where we grasp one part of the world’s infrastructure to produce another part of the world’s infrastructure. The inverse of this is what Sartre calls Nothingness which is the involution of something on itself in foundation less self-annihilation. This characteristic of Process Being comes from the fact thatdasein (being there) the focus of being-in-the-world is projecting the world in the a priori manner suggested by Kant that it finds itself thrown into. This is a lot like the quandary of Jesus as God being in the world created by God the father and communicated to via the Holy ghost which is also God. Dasein projects the world as an ecstasy which it then finds itself thrown into and falling due to its groundlessness and he is also lost in the Mitsein and thus is like a ghost who merely lives his life inauthentically immersed in the social nexus unthinkingly and without reflection. It is only death that causes a moment of authenticity.

What is not mentioned frequently enough is that Heidegger takes his terminology of dasein from Hegel, for whom it meant determinate being. The “geist” in Phenomenology of Spirit/Ghost/Mind has three meanings. I think that Heidegger read it as the phenomenology of the Ghost, rather than spirit or mind and asked himself who is this ghost that Hegel refers to and came up with the answer that it is the determinate being of the human being which can be described as being-in-the-world, only human beings have worlds, the farthest horizon of experience. Now if we take this exposition of Heidegger/Hegel seriously then we must accede to Heideggers other point which he took from his reading of Nietzsche, that the essence of Technology is nothing technological but is in fact nihilism. This point has a great deal of resonance with your question what is the most general thing we can say about Engineers which is true.

Heidegger says about human beings in general that the most profound thought is that we are not thinking yet in What is called Thinking.

We can say about human beings who are engineers that the most general profound thing we can say about engineers that they are not yet engineering.
How can it be that the essence of the engineer has nothing to do with engineering itself?

This is such a strange thought. But it also has to do with the question you also raise as to the nature of truth. Heidegger reading Aristotle as a phenomenologist noticed that truth in Greek was Aleithia which means uncovering, not verification. Thus truthing is a process of uncovering, not a static condition that never changes and  once verified always holds. We call Engineering “Engineering” which is like becoming in relation to what is engineered, i.e. the product system with its emergent qualities. The reason that engineering does not have an essence related to engineering itself, is that engineering is always becoming. It is locked into an emergent process itself as we see from the discontinuities in the development of technology with the continuous introduction of disruptive technological innovations. Engineering is a process of allowing emergence to be uncovered through itself, and thus the essence of engineering is never settled, and this leads to nihilism because of the clinging of Engineers to a static view, which does not encounter this emergent quality of existence directly and authentically. We are not yet engineering because the technological infrastructure is turning over so rapidly that there is nothing we can hold onto as a final set of tools to solve any particular problem. Engineering never stabilizes long enough to become finally identical with itself. And this little gap, this slip sliding away of engineering from its own essence is what Heidegger called Being crossed out, and Derrida called Differance and Merleau-Ponty called Hyper Being and what originally Plato called the third kind of Being in the Timaeus which is the nature of Software as a cultural artifact. And that explains why software Engineering is different than the other kinds of engineering, i.e. that it can touch its artifact and it did not need a technician to isolate theory from practice as is done with hardware. Software Engineers do not need technicians because they can touch their product, and the reason they can touch it is that it is already very etherial, and somehow cannot be touched at all. Software is static code which we write which then is made dynamic in computers but its difficulty to understand because it is dynamic is legendary. This is exacerbated by the fact that we do not think algorithmically naturally and so we have to make special effort to design software, especially realtime software that enters into the realm of relativity theory when there is no global clock.

Hyper Being is the kind of Being which is the difference that makes a difference ala G. Bateson between Pure and Process Being. It is essentially non-representable and thus is continually slip-sliding away so we cannot really grasp it or point to it, but rather we have to bear its consequences, because we cannot really control it completely. All the rigor of Software Engineering is set up to handle this Hyper Being nature of software. But we cannot avoid it because it is what makes our machines adaptable, and reprogrammable, and it confers many of the advantages that are not possible without great effort with hardware. Even hardware with ASICs and FPGAs have though the advent of software design tools has become like software in many ways, and is now re-programmable. Hyper Being has penetrated deeply in our lives as more realtime embedded software code exists in hardware with CPUs all around us.

Thus it was an emergent development when Software Engineering with its special problems differentiated itself from Hardware Engineering, just as it was when Electrical Engineering differentiated itself from Mechanical Engineering. Each opens up a new emergent layer of Engineering, which brings with it the expansion of the emergent technological infrastructure into new realms. And this continual opening of new emergent levels, the latest of which is Ontological Engineering is what makes it so the essence of Engineering is not fixed by any present-at-hand Pure Being definition, but is instead constantly changing by the advent of new kinds of engineering that open up new horizons of technology that we exploit to retain global domination. Thus our power as a civilization is directly related to the innovativeness of engineers and the discoveries of scientists. If we cannot stay a step ahead of our adversaries then we are done for in this dog eat dog world (bit of irony there, it is a dog eat dog world where we have to eat our own dog food, i.e. use our own technology to create new technology). So Engineering, like becoming is always becoming something else, something new, discontinuously and unexpectedly, and disruptively. Black swans are continuously appearing in this new world dominated by technological invention and new discoveries that change the substance of our lives in important ways.

In my dissertation I make the point that Design is the third meta-level of the sign, and this is of the nature of the sign under the constellation of Hyper Being. This has many implications for the nature of Engineering and our future. But we cannot go into that here because every question leads to another deeper question and on Quora questions only exist in isolation and they exist as a nihilistic plenum, a plane of immanence of one particular plateau to quote Deleuze and Guattari. So let us take this back to the question at hand. What is the most general statement about Engineers that is true. It is like Heidegger says, the fact that Engineers are not yet Engineering. And this is because they are engaged in opening up new discontinuous technological worlds into which the infrastructure expands unexpectedly. They are engaged in producing emergent phenomena, and emergent phenomena is the dual of nihilism itself.

So while the essence of technology is nihilism the essence of the technologist is not technological either but is emergent, and that emergence occurs through the work of the Engineer in doing Design. He bases his engineering on physics laws  (design of nature) discovered by scientists, and he hands  his design to the technician. And thus the Engineer in large companies is hemmed in to a role of anonymity. His name must be attached to the patents but the pattens are owned by the corporation, unless he is an independent engineer. Only the independent engineer can merge the roles of scientist, engineer, and technologist together and own his own patents, but this is increasingly difficult when engineering new products takes so much money and so many specialties to invent and then to produce. But of course the Software Engineer is different. He can use the technological infrastructure to discover, invent, and implement himself if he owns a computer and it is connected to the internet.

Software Engineers are by definition  more independent than earlier engineers in the sense that they can create their own products and serve them to a world population, and make a  living from giving things away to a global meta-market. I say discover, because software engineers can create virtual realities, or mirror worlds as Gellertner called augmented reality. These worlds are not bound to the laws of physics but are composed of rules that we ourselves make up. We engineer by doing architectural and detailed designs of the products we create, and then we program them ourselves and take a hand in producing our vision in reams of incomprehensible code. So the most general thing we can say about Engineers is that they are not Engineering yet, and that is because they are constantly engaged in an emergent process that they do not control and in fact envelops them and the fact that it is out of control takes us to the dual of Hyper Being which Merleau-Ponty called Wild Being. Hyper Being is where being-in-the-world of Dasein expands and the tools transform in our hands and Wild Being is where being-in-the-world of Dasein contracts again and we lose control and are enveloped by an emergent change we did not see coming. But the difference between Engineering and itself is the slip-sliding of Hyper Being which cannot be pinned down which exists at the core of the Engineering process itself as non-routine work, i.e. work that cannot be captured in any process, work that goes on in the head of the engineer as he creates a new design with hypothetical emergent properties that can only be  proven to realize  the system being implemented and those properties being verified and validated  and shown to be coherent with each other. We are not yet Engineering because the very nature of engineering is changing emergently and discontinuously and this is a core part of our worldview the latest rendition of which we see in realtime embedded software embedding itself into everything in our world.

Posted May 12, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Quora Answer: How does objectivity relate to imagination?

How does objectivity relate to imagination?

Schemas are the Key to understanding how the imagination projects objects.

For Kant Objectivity is directly based on the Imagination, because it is the Imagination as faculty that allows us to project Synthetic A Priori of Space and Time, or now Spacetime. For Kant Geometry is synthetic A Priori because it is based on the Imagined Singular of Space. What is interesting is that there are four terms.

Analytic A Priori = Concepts that do not depend on Precepts that can be analyzed in themselves without external input.

Synthetic A Priori = Space, Categories, Schemas

Analytic A Posterori = Analysis of synthetic percepts

Synthetic A Posteriori = Percept based experience

The whole purpose of Kant’s Categories is to define the Object of Newtonian Physics, go ground Science. Thus objectivity comes from the projection of Synthetic A Prioris like space, Categories, Schemas. Schemas relate the Categories to Time. The Categories are presented in a static dialectical form, Hegel too them and made them dynamic and proliferated them in his logic. Categories become disseminated as Derrida liked to say.

Schlick says something similar later in his Logical Positivism which was prior to Wittgenstein’s (He pushed Wittgenstein to the fore as the leader of the LP movement), following Hilbert he wanted to disconnect concepts from percepts, and make concepts mutually referent, and thus produce an axiomatic platform free of percepts. So we can see that the Analytic Apriori is related to the mutual definition of concepts free from any experience by Reason. On the other hand the Synthetic A Posterior is the experience as a whole of whole things in which we are flooded with percepts. Kant critiques Pure Reason saying we cannot use Reason alone due to the Antimonies and so he had to build a bridge between Reason and Experience, Concept and Percept as Schlick called them. Kant does that by taking the corner cases of Synthetic Apriori and Analytic A Posteriori and giving them meaning. We want to analyze syntheses produced by experience, but we can only do that on the basis of our own projection of the synthetic A Priori of Space, Categories and Time (Schemas). So our ability to Analyze phenomena from experience using reason, is based on our counter projection of the infrastructure that is the basis of our reasoning. So there is actually a balance here between Analysis and Synthesis in the corner cases that connect Conceptual reason and Perceptual experience.

Now if we go back to Plato we see that Kant is working within the context of the Divided Line which is composed of Non-representable and Representable Intelligibles in the Ratio half of the divided line and Grounded and Ungrounded opinion/appearance on the Doxa Side of the Divided line. Kant is trying to build a bridge between the sides of the divided line rather than merely distinguishing them as Plato is doing. Plato’s divided line gives us the basic infrastructure of our Western worldview. Kant is saying that instead of dividing these faculties from each other they should be working together because reason on its own goes astray. Plato on the other hand thought Reason on its own could see the higher forms, going from the representable intelligibles of Geometry to the unrepresentable intelligibles like the Good.

In order to connect Ratio and Doxa Kant exploited the corner cases which mixed Analysis/Syntheis with A Priori/A Posterori. And this is a similar structure to the corner cases that I talk about in my post on Gestalt/Flow//System/Process See

What I think the Analytical Philosophers forget is this balance between A Posterori Analysis and A Priori Synthesis. When Hegel was adopted by Marxism as their basis which they not only turned on its head (going from idealism to materialism) but mostly misunderstood, then it made sense that the British and Americans would adopt Analysis as their fundamental philosophical method during the cold war. Thus the rift between Analytical Philosophy and just plane old European Philosophy which is now called Continental Philosophy (Europeans just kept doing philosophy within their tradition, so we should really call it the Mainstream philosophical tradition in the West, with Analytical Philosophy being the spin off and probably a dead end). But if we go back to Kent Synthesis and Analysis are always balanced both in the sides rooted in Rato and Doxa, and in the corner cases that he uses as a bridge.

Now my own dissertation called Emergent Design attempts to explore this territory even further by realizing that the projection of Spacetime is not a homogeneous plenum as is normally thought but that different schemas are projected at different scopes. Seems this idea has not taken root previously, as far as I can find. So I posit the possible existence of a General Schemas Theory and I formulate a Hypothesis S-prime to test, that there is a very specific set of schemas that form a hierarchy of scopes, and a couple of rules that govern the relation between the schemas and various dimensions. See for more info on that (I can now self-promote more brazenly because Quora changed its policy on that.) It is fascinating to me that no one seems to have asked the question as to what is the next higher thing beyond the system, that contains all the templates for organizing Spacetime that are different from the system. That is what Schemas Theory is and it studies not just Systems but also Monad, Pattern, Form, System, Meta-System (OpenScape), Domain, World, Kosmos, and Pluriverse. And the rules are that there are two schemas per dimension and two dimensions per schema. That is Hypothesis S-prime. Couldn’t resist slipping that in, because it is my major contention as a candidate hypothesis to bootstrap Schemas Theory into a real discipline. For more about the history of Schemas see Umberto Eco’s Kant and the Platypus.

So the basic idea is that we are projecting the Schemas by which we render things in spacetime intelligible differently at different scopes. These scopes nest without any gaps (I can’t find any, can you?). The schemas underlie all objects, but especially designed artificial objects created by humans. They also underlie the structure of language. So they bridge between the Logos within us and the substrate of the Physis which is spacetime. All objects are defined in terms of these templates of understanding of objects in spacetime that we project. But interestingly all our analysis of objects given by experience, or a Priori Concepts, is in terms of the schemas and their relation to geometry via dimensionality. So you can see in this the wisdom of the balance in Kant between analysis and synthesis corner cases. Synthesis makes possible Analysis. But in two ways. A Posteriori Analysis via conventional concepts operates on A Posteriori Synthesis of precepts. For that to work the infrastructure of scopes needs to be projected for us to find it in the phenomena and thus be able to take them a part at in a hierarchical manner. But also it is the Synthetic A Priori of the Schemas inside as related to dimensionality and through that to geometry that representable intelligibles are created, so that the unrepresentable intelligibles (non-representable concepts) can be indicated, i.e. using words within the schematically organized language we use to reason with. So schemas are the interface between Analysis and Synthesis both on the A Priori side and the A Posterori side.

This is why C.S. Peirce is so important because he is a Kantian that takes Hegel seriously without any influence from Marxism. He has his philosophical principles First (isolata), Second (relata), Third (continua). And the center of his philosophy is on the Third, the mediation. He approaches traditional logic based on that principle from Hegel, and discovers things like Abduction, for instance as the third way of thinking using Hypothesis as done in science which was not recognized by the tradition which only thought about Induction and Deduction. But there are three ways to arrange the premises of a logical syllogism, but it was Peirce to first think hard about the third arrangement and give it a meaning, that was the basis for Pragmaticism (Every one is doing Science, formulating and testing hypotheses, in their daily lives continually and that is how we solve pragmatic problems.) Also Peirce made the distinction between Precison of Analysis that takes apart and reduces to rubble phenomena, and Precission (with two ss) which is looking at the part in the context of the synthetic whole. He says we have forgotten about Precission which he took from the Medieval Philosophers and brought back as the alternative to analysis that merely destroys what ever it looks at. Non-invasive MRI and PET scans are examples of modern techniques that could be said to exemplify this approach.

It certainly takes imagination to look at things through the lens of Precission rather than reductive analysis, because you cannot just take the whole synthesis apart and look at the parts in isolation. Rather you must look for the way the parts are articulated in the context of the synthetic whole of which they are a part, and thus you must look at them in situ in the living whole of which they are an integral part.

This brings me by a circuitous route to the myth of Adam and Eve. It is clear that just as the Abraham story is about why we should not do human sacrifice giving a primal scene for the end of human sacrifice which was rampant in the ancient world if we are to believe Greek mythic sources. So Adam and Eve can be seen as the primal scene for the end of the Matriarchal Society and the beginning of the Patriarchal Society. Matriarchy means the women never leave home, fertility is a resource to be preserved, so husbands come to visit briefly, and it is the brother who acts as a Father to the child. Matriarchy is not some sort of paradise where women were in control, but like the Handmaidens tale it was a society where fertility was a scarce resource and thus it was preserved and not traded away. Patriarchy is where the bride goes to live with the Husband’s family and thus women become a traded commodity in the Patriarchal Society. Be that as it may, the key is to see that in a Matriarchal Society when seen in mammals in general there is an alpha male who has a territory and a harem, and there are beta males trying to take both the territory and the harem away. This is a bi-modal population so there are also outcast males and females, as well as the pharmacon who is outcast by all. Now in this kind of social group the females are faceless. In other words they are all alike as a group to the Alpha Male, i.e. they are his possession as a group. But in Patriarchal Society the face of the female becomes important, and this is why we have the lifting of the veil for the first kiss in marriage ceremonies even today. But here is the point. Adam was alone, this is when he was an Alpha Male and his territory (the garden) and his harem as faceless was part of him, inside of him. But Adam became a husband because Eve was drawn as a rib from his side. And so he became the first patriarch in the Semitic line and presumably the human line that traced its linage for the first time through the father rather than the mother. [By the way my standard joke about this is that Matriarchy was tried for at least 25 millennia prior to Adam the first Patriarch, and it has only been about 6000 years since then. And it takes some time to work the bugs out of any new system and we have not had much of a chance yet to do that. We had Matriarchy for at least 25 millennium and during that time not even a light bulb was invented, less well a washing machine, or a dish washer. So we should give this new thing Patriarchy a chance. Also I ask for volunteers from women to stay home with their fathers as is done in Matriarchy, and I don't get many takers. When we study Matriarchy as it really was we find that Patriarchy was actually, believe it or not, a liberation of women, because for the first time they were important as individuals and their faces mattered, they did not blend into the harem so they had no individual characteristics that were recognized. But unfortunately this new individuality meant that they became according to Levi-Strauss a commodity to be traded. So we should be given more time to do that by the supporters of a return to Matriarchy.] But the key point which is normally hard to explain is why Eve was made out of a rib. But if we take the foregoing as a possible interpretation, then we can see that the rib is something inside the body that sticks out and can be counted even when it is in the body of the human being. So the rib signifies something that is inside but differentiable by Precission. When we take that thing out, and Analyze it with precision, then we get Patriarchy. Suddenly the face becomes important when the female is not just part of the male as in matriarchy but actually becomes a human in her own right standing beside her husband (she is still thought about in terms of needing husbandry). So I went though this whole story just so I could point out that in this transformation, the difference between Synthetic Precission and Analytic Precision.

Now going back to Kant we can see that the relation between Precision and Precission allows us to understand better the corner cases of Analytic A Posterori and Synthetic A Priori. Analysis in reduction strives for Precision. But Synthesis by maintaining the whole still allows Precission. And thus it is not true that reason cannot do anything with respect to the parts within the whole. Rather it can explore the mereology from the outside using non-invasive techniques as we are finding out with the brain with fMRI and PET scans. Everything from some perspective is transparent. It is just a matter of finding out what the approach is that gives us that perspective. So a more sophisticated approach is to use Precission and Precision where appropriate in our studies rather than only using Analysis and throwing up our hands saying we have no way to deal with synthesis and dialectics. We have fallen behind the curve due to the Cold War taboo. If it were possible for Adam to embody the difference between Precission and Precision, in the difference between Matriarchal and Patriarchal then surely as his inheritors we should be able to handle it as part of our mental gymnastics. The only real development was Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason which treated Dialectics Dialectically rather than like a mechanism as the Marxists always had.

So wandering back to the point of the question, we can say that as Heidegger points out Imagination was a separate faculty in the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, and that Kant down graded it in the second edition, to part of another faculty instead of its own faculty. In Difference and Repetition Deleuze talks about the strangeness of the faculties that we project on ourselves. But be that as it may, the point is that this independence of the imagination is the door Heidegger uses to insert Dasein into the Kantian Picture, as something between Subject and Object which is the source of the Synthetic A Priori and its projection just like Dasein is the source of the projection of Being by a being-in-the-world. Heidegger goes to great pains to show how being-in-the-world though ready-to-hand circumspective concern that takes in the totality of the technological infrastructure is different from the objective/subjective duality and its view of things in terms of the (Pure Being) present-at-hand modality. Thus according to Heidegger, based on the prior work of Husserl, but also Hegel and and a creative reading of Aristotle, Imagination in its projection of the Schemas prior to Analysis of experience contained in the schemas is the source of both Subjects and Objects and their present-at-hand (Pure Being) aspects. Summary:

Posted May 9, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

G+ answer: How far has artificial intelligence advanced – are any machines close to being “self-aware”?

G+ answer: How far has artificial intelligence advanced – are any machines close to being “self-aware”?

Software is Hyper Being and Artificial Intelligence Techniques are Wild Being


Answer also at

Posted May 7, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Namesake discussion: Gestalt/Flow//System/Process




Posted May 7, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Quora Answer: How can I ‘succinctly distill complicated concepts into pithy expressions’?

How can I 'succinctly distill complicated concepts into pithy expressions'?

Special Systems as Aliquot numbers is Pithy

Not known for my pithy replies, I still have something to say on this subject. And that is that it is good to simplify as much as possible but not so much that what ever you are talking about is trivialized. Therefore the list of attributes of pithiness given in the first answer are not rules but depend on the circumstances.

Let me say that I have found that one normally start with a complex mess when ever one starts to deal with any subject, but it is key to allow that complex mess to simplify itself rather than forcing it to simplify by analytically reducing it to the lowest common denominator. And what I have found is that this actually occurs, sometimes after long struggle and searching, and failure to simplify on ones own part.

Let me give a good example which is my own Special Systems theory whose discovery is recounted in Autopoietic Reflexive Special Systems Theory at That theory started out as an aside in my book The Fragmentation of Being and the Path beyond the Void. I was recounting the impact of the Primal Indo-European Scene on the advent of Western Philosophy among the Pre-socratics, and finally got to Plato. Since he has one book which is almost never read, i.e. the Laws, I decided to focus on that book in my commentary on how the Primal Scene was represented in Plato, and this led to a consideration of the relation between Aristophanes and Plato. In that work I discovered what I call the Negative Fourfold which is the opposite of the Positive Fourfold talked about by Heidegger, and taken from Socrates. The Negative Fourfold is a hidden metaphysical principle which reveals the dark side of the structure of the world and is in ancient Greece attributed to women. The negative fourfold appears in Aristophanes BIRDS and appears in his rework of the Theogony of Hesiod, in which there are four primal powers which are feminine which are Night, Chaos, Abyss, and Covering. It is interesting that covering is there, because for Heidegger Truth is discovered to be a process of uncovering. And this leads to the idea that the Positive Fourfold can be seen not just as Heaven/Earth//Mortals/Immortals but also as Light, Order, Grounding, and Uncovering (Aleithia). Once we understand the duality of the positive and negative fourfold we get a much clearer picture of the structure of the Western worldview as seen in Greek times at the beginning of the Metaphysical Era, while many are still within the Mythopoietic Era that ended with Thales.

From these negative fourfold of sources of everything arises Eros, and from Eros arises the birds and after the birds come the Gods of Greece. This is then related to the five characteristics of Aphrodite, and it is discovered that the attributes of Aphrodite form an autopoietic ring, i.e. a self-organizing, self-producing ring. The appearance of Eros out of the four negative sources reminds us of the Egyptian Memphis creation myth in which there are four-pairs of primordial gods out of which the Atun/Atum/Atom (i.e. monad) arises. It is of interest that the arising of the monad leads to a swarm of birds, i.e. a swarm of monads (In the Egyptian Myth the primal scene is the alighting of a bird on some bit of land sticking out of the flooded Nile).

With this in mind I started studying the Laws of Plato, and the commentaries I was reading on it compared it with the Republic/Ancient Athens, and Atlantis. I saw that this first Systems Theory, this first Social Theory, this first political theory, etc was organized in such a way that the emergent form was the polis in each case and that Plato was creating a caricature of cities. They all had very odd features. So I decided to study the three of them in detail and relate them to what I knew of Greek and Indo-European Myth. What i discovered is that the oddities of the Cities of Plato formed a pattern. For instance Atlantis is out at sea, the Republic/Ancient Athens is on the coast, and Magnesia of the Laws in inland sheltered from the sea. Also this is the order of increasing detail with which the cities are portrayed. I knew from J. Sallis in Being and Logos that the Republic was a journey to hell (Pyrus) and back, and Socrates was arrested on his way back from hell. So this meant that the fact that it is the only book read these days was to ignore the book where three elderly statesmen are paying a visit to the shelter of Zeus on the Isle of Crete. In other words we ignore the more detailed account of the positive journey which is the dual of the Republic.

Now we get to the interesting part, I was sifting through all these mappings of the cities to each other, and to what I knew of the primal scene of the Indo-Europeans, and the primal scene of the Egyptians, when I decided to take another tact and look for similar structures in math. Almost immediately I found similar structures in several different types of math, and I started putting those together. Eventually I realized that the math could be used to organize the data I had about Plato’s cities and connect it to the theory of Autopoiesis which I saw in the mythology. At that point Special Systems Theory was born, and then I started following the math where ever it led me, and it has been a wonderful intellectual adventure looking for the precursors of Special Systems Theory, and the physical and mathematical analogies. What I found when I came back and applied that mathematical theory to Plato is that he got his view of the Special Systems from Egypt, because they appear in the Egyptian Gods, and when ever he is being obscure he is probably giving some oblique reference to the Special Systems. For instance the speeches in the Symposium correspond to the order of the Special Systems. By having the imaginary cities of Plato as an analogy, along with the Mathematical analogies and physical analogies, one can begin to apply the theory to lots of phenomena, that are anomalous and therefore understand some things that have always appeared mysterious to normal science, but have roots in arcane traditional sciences like Acupuncture for instance, which is a perfect model of an Autopoietic system projected on the human body rather than the body of the city (Polos).

Eventually after much work I discovered a very simple way to describe the Special Systems. That is as follows:

There exist wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts = Systems

There exist wholes that are less than the sum of their parts and thus have holes in them = Meta-systems (like sponges for instance)

That means that there must be holes that are exactly equal to the sum of their parts, and it turns out that there are three such systems, which differ from each other only in their differing and deferring or DifferAnce (Derrida, what I call Hyper Being, identified by Plato, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty) from each other, and also in their ultra-efficacy measured by hyper-effectivities and hyper-efficiencies born of their roots in negative entropy.

Now in Mathematics we have in number theory numbers that are more than the sum of their parts and numbers less than the sum of their parts that correspond to the Emergent System, and the De-emergent Meta-system (OpenScape). But their are also aliquot numbers, i.e. perfect, amicable and sociable numbers, See These special and relatively rare numbers, especially the perfect numbers of which we know I believe 43 at the present time. Perfect numbers are those that are directly the sum of their divisors, i.e. the perfect sum of the numbers parts. Amicable numbers also known from antiquity, are numbers that sum to each other rather than themselves. See Sociable numbers are a ring of numbers where each adds up to the next in a ring. Such rings can be of order 4 or 5, or 6, or 8,, or 9, or 28. See

Thus we can see how the negative fourfold can be a sociable ring, or the five attributes of Aphrodite. There is numerical support in the prime numbers for this anomaly, but also in other kinds of mathematics that is more complex. We can see these rings operating in Acupuncture Theory, and in hypercylcles discovered in biology See For instance the Five Hsing in Acupuncture theory is a hypercycle.

So after years of work, the big mess that was discovered in Plato’s cities eventually became something that can be stated very simply by its most basic mathematical analogy from number theory. But getting to this fairly pithy result was not an obvious thing from the beginning, and in fact many of the connections of math to the Special Systems were discovered by serendipity, after following many futile and dead end paths until they were exhausted. But the theory, slowly simplified itself as it was better understood. Plato said we want to cut the meat at its joints not through the bone. In other words we need to make our distinctions where nature suggests they should be made, not at some arbitrary place. So I would suggest that much of the complexity of expositions and the lack of pithiness comes from a lack of full understanding of the subject matter, but that is OK, because if we do not express what we know as we know it then we cannot refine it. It is the refinement that is the art, where you strip away ones own projections to see the phenomena itself in a new light that comes from itself and reveals itself in its essential form many times after years of searching and researching.

After finishing my book on the structure of the Western Worldview called Fragmentation of Being and the Path Beyond the Void, I immediately wrote the research working papers in Reflexive Autopoietic Systems Theory, and then I summarized that in a monograph called Reflexive Autopoietic Dissipative Special Systems Theory. Each major retelling of this story usually comes with some kind of simplification that attempts to get closer to the quintessential characteristics of the Special System, and also the Emergent Meta-system which they compose along with the normal System to create an image of the Meta-system. These systems are mutually transforming, and they are the basis in my opinion of Consciousness, Life and the Social. But how we get to that conclusion is a long story. But the key to the whole set of Advanced Systems Schemas can be understood by this analogy to the Aliquot numbers, which all of us are capable of understanding once we appreciate the special nature of the Perfect Numbers. From there the theory goes on to study the analogies with more complex phenomena. But it only takes this one analogy to get across the central kernel of this meta-theory of the emergent levels that explain the oddities of things like Consciousness, Life and Sociality.

So I hope this illustration from my own intellectual adventure proves helpful in getting my central point which is that Pithiness is something we have to seek hard to find in many cases, unless we impose it artificially on our subject. And if we take the advice of Plato we will put up with complex representations of what we know, so we can understand what we don’t know by the very messiness of our exposition. Sometimes as we work through that complex representation of our knowledge we find that it leads us to things we did not know we did not know, as with the Special Systems that were forgotten in our tradition but were part of the ancient wisdom of the Egyptians and Chinese that Plato who is central to our tradition tried to pass on to us, but it got lost along the way, and now that it has been rediscovered it can serve to solve a lot of otherwise perplexing subjects that appear to be in the blindspot in the eye of modern science. All this comes from asking seriously how it is that traditional sciences like Acupuncture work, but we cannot understand how they work, and when we understand special systems theory then we see that they work because they are based on the ultra-efficacy of Special System that lift the veil of entropy locally ever so slightly. But that is enough to allow all the variety of life on earth to exist, with at its height its social consciousness. summary:

Posted May 5, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

Quora answer: What did Jean-Paul Sartre mean when he introduced the topics of existence and essence?

Sartre Essence and Existence

Meaning of Sartre's Essence and Existence

I have discussed this in other answers I have given here, so see some of my other posts. But it is an excellent question, and some answers bear repeating for the sake of clarification.

As I have said elsewhere to be briefly touched upon here. Being only exists in Indo-European languages, and existence came into our lexicon as we translated Arabic texts on Aristotle back into Latin. We had to create a technical term for wajud in Arabic and so we produced existence, which means exi-stance, to stand outside of, and also ecstasy. Wajud really means what is found. Existence is what stands outside of Being, prior to the manifestation of Being, but also manifests under the veil of illusions that are created by Being. Heidegger, used the idea of ecstasy to say that dasein is the one who projects Being as a being-in-the-world as an ecstasy, thus dasein throws Being into being as becoming yet at the same time is thrown into the world. Generally it is thought that Sartre got Heidegger wrong and his thought has been devalued recently by critics, as a bad imitation, and thus Critique of Dialectical Reason is considered his greater work in terms of originality, even though his most popular work was and probably still is Being and Nothingness. Merleau-Ponty saw nothingness as being the inverse dual of Process Being (ready-to-hand modality of Being). Thus he calls the third meta-level of Being the Hyper-dialectic between Being and Nothingness which I shorten to Hyper Being and which Derrida called Differance (differing and deferring) and which Heidegger called -B-e-i-n-g- (crossed out). However, we can see that Sartre was reconsidering Heidegger in a Hegelian context. And if we note that Heidegger begins and ends Being and Time with references to Hegel, and that Heidegger uses the term dasein, which for Hegel in his Logic was determinate being, and the German philosophical term for “existence”, then perhaps this critical view perhaps needs to be reassessed.

As I have elaborated elsewhere, the concern for existence was an undercurrent of philosophy since the Renaissance. Essence concerns Being as it manifests as kinds of things. Existence concerns what is found. Eventually existentialists realized it could be used as a way to reverse things within Western Metaphysics to say that Existence precedes Essence, rather than the other way around which is basically an idealist approach to things which is endemic to our worldview. Existence points toward the concrete manifestation of singular individuals that are found, rather than to their constituent attributes and the constraint ranges on them which determine their species or kind. For instance Maturana and Varella’s Autopoietic theory is existential biology because they concentrate on the viability of the individual organism, rather than their connection to a species as an exemplar. The move toward existence as an important concept appears in Dostoevsky Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and others following in their footsteps. Sartre played an important role in the development of Existentialism, and by his formulation of it as existence preceding essence, rather than what is normally believed which is that they are another way around. This is also seen as supporting the Marxist position that material things are important, without being quite as crass in its explication.

But in both Heidegger and Sartre, they do not achieve Existence as is mean originally by the term wajud. Neither actually escape Being, they merely manage to go up a meta-level to the next higher stage of Being. Sarte shows this in his terminology taken from Hegel of being-for-itself, being-in-itself, and being-in-and-for-itself. Heidegger shows that because the ecstasy of dasien can be seen as a form of becoming. For them Being is essentially Being taken to its limits, not beyond its limits to a new standing.

The development of Existence as a mode for critiquing Being, in terms of Process Being and which considers Pure Being to be identical with essences was a big advance in metaphysics, and it goes back to the distinction in Husserl between Abstraction (Pure Being) and essence perception (Process Being). Note essence perceptions which is a transformative operation produces representations of essences which are constraints on attributes of a thing. Those representations are presented in Pure Being. So there is a circle here of representation which is repeated. Heidegger talks about this in relation to the fact that Dasein is within the world he projected ecstatically. A fundamental contradiction of the order of the idea of Christ who is God in the world that God as Father created to whom the Holy Spirit came who is by the way also God. Heidegger does not talk about essences because he says that these belong to entities other than Dasein to which the Categories of Kant apply. But instead we need to recognize the existentalia which are the same as the categories for humans of which there are three (verstehen, rede, befindlichkeit). That is understanding, talk and discoveredness whose overlapping give us Care.

Sartre is coming to the whole issue from a Marxist perspective, and thus for him existentialism is the new way to understand the materialism of Marx from a psychological perspective. Marx himself did not question the preeminence of essence over existence, because existence was not on the radar. Material things were thought to have essences. Existentialism made materialism into a psychological state and explained some of the problems of Marxist ideology which was normally thought about in very mechanistic ways. Existentialism was the way that things looked from the point of view of the individual. And it meant a difference in the way the individual fit into the world related to its absolute freedom, because the individual made the world, he made the meaning of his world, and therefore he made himself. Existentialism of both Sartre and Heidegger was very individually oriented. An excellent book that makes this point is Existence and Love by Wm. Sadler. Sadler makes the point that phenomenology is very visually oriented and this makes it concentrate on the individuals experience, whereas if the major mode of the senses was auditory then the problem of intersubjectivity that plagued Husserl and that Heidegger set out to solve would not have existed, because sounds interpenetrate and are not seen as something distant and separate. The fact that existentialism concentrates on the individual as something perceived, something under the gaze as the other, means that it always turns out to be rather bleak, as we see in Camus, or for instance in Sarte’s waiting room where Hell is other people. By using Sadler we can get a handle on what Heidegger and Sarte have in common as a fundamental assumption. Sartre is basically reversing Heidegger and looking at Nothingness as the active groundlessness of consciousness itself. This is the inverse dual of Heidegger’s Process Being (ready-to-hand, grasping) which is a modality of the Monolith of Being just as is Pure Being (present-at-hand, pointing). Being is also groundless for Heidegger and that shows up in its endless becoming, but that becoming leads to the projection of representations that are present-at-hand, i.e. that we can point at. But for Sartre consciousness is groundless in a way that it is always involuting and thus falling into nothingness, so nothing can stand in consciousness for very long, and thus we must produce what ever meaning we can appeal to ourselves. For Heidegger Being is itself intelligibility, and as Parmenides says “Being and thinking are the same”, and thus the process of projection is itself positive in that it produces though transformations and processes the static representations as products. Sartre on the other hand recognizes something that Heidegger misses. Heidegger posits dasein as what is prior to the subject/object dichotomy. But Heidegger more or less forgets about the object, which we might call the eject, i.e. the proto-object, perhaps something like the placenta that comes into being with dasein yet is not either an object nor a subject. Sartre adopts the vocabulary of Hegel and talks about in-itself, and for-itself. Thus there are the things that are not seen as part of the ego which are in-themselves, and these are different from what the ego recognizes in the moment which is for-itself which is pure freedom and pure reflectivity. There is also being-for-others which is always a temptation. And finally there is the pure freedom of God for which man strives but which is the reflectivity of reflectivity which is being-in-and-for-itself. Thus man can get lost in material things (in-itself), in others (for-others, which Heidegger calls mitsein) and in the in-and-for-itself of the reflectivity of reflectivity of God which is an unsustainable limit. Man is only truly himself if he has the practical freedom of the in-itself which is reflective and which allows him to see himself in the world as its maker, and also as the made, by his own actions.

In Heidegger, the emphasis is not on reflectivity, but on the ecstasy of dasein pouring forth Being from the inside, which then allows him, to be-in-the-world that is spun from out of him. In Sartre the emphasis is on reflectivity, which is Hegelian self-consciousness (for-itself) and there is a limit in the Absolute of squared reflectivity which reminds us of pure Spirit that is in-and-for-itself. Sartre’s for-others (mitsein) is collapsed into Spirit in Hegel. Spirit is the Social polis pursuing is historical destiny. Since Hegel is an idealist for him the in-itself does not really exist completely, but that is exactly what makes the Marxist reversal of Hegel possible. But Marxism in its pure form causes Nausea because it means the things of the world are too much with us. When one denies one’s freedom and acts as if one is an object that is bad faith for Sartre, a lack of authenticity in which one forgets the for-itself and its freedom given through reflectivity. One can also be inauthentic by living for others, and trying to be what they want you to be instead of being yourself and exercising one’s inherent freedom. One can also think of oneself as god and believe that one can remake everything in ones own image and thus be caught in the in-and-for-itself the limit of human existence at the higher meta-level. So for Sartre the only way to be authentic is to avoid these three pitfalls and realize ones being-for-itself and realizable freedom to be authentic.

A good book that gives another take on this from another perspective is Being-In, Being-For, Being-With by Clark Moustakas.

Posted May 4, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized


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