Benjamin Udell wrote:
Tom, Brent, Bruno, list,
Bruno wrote & Brent agreed,
> I think everyone has religious faith...
I don't think that I could go along with that, at least not in the
strict sense of "religion" -- true enough, religion has, at its core,
valuings with regard to power and submission, ruling and being ruled,
and also self-governance. But in the strict sense of "religion," there's
usually, at the core, some beliefs, some claims, of miracles, magical
events, etc. Not everybody believes in that sort of thing. Then in
another sense, but a less strict one, a "religion" can be a set of
life-shaping beliefs immune to nontrivial revision despite all contrary
experience. I don't think that absolutely everybody has a life-shaping
set of such beliefs. Or maybe they all do, but it doesn't seem
hands-down obvious that they all do.
Most people, however, do have some sort of views, which are or have been
significant in their lives, about what are traditionally called
metaphysical questions -- God, freedom, immortality, psycho-physical
relationships, etc. Many have one or another kind of metaphysical faith.
It seems increasingly clear to me that Bruno is doing a machine
metaphysics, or a computer metaphysics, or a metaphysics of, by, and for
computers or machines (I can't remember why Bruno opts for "machines"
instead of "computers."). It's a shame that the word "metaphysics" is
ruled out by (if I remember correctly, it was in a post a while back)
reaction of intellectuals in Belgium. Moreover, "machine metaphysics" is
kind of catchy in its alliterative way. Metaphysics is not religion but
instead a philosophical study of questions which are among the important
ones in religion. Philosoophy, however, can be applied in living, so the
distinction is not a barrier impenetrable in practice (or, therefore, in
As to universals, as Brent says they're "ruled out" way too often. it's
that old Saul Steinberg "View of the World From Ninth Avenue" thing
again. Intellectual foreshortening.
Some look at decision-making (& related "ruling arts" aka "governing
arts") about lives & living, and see the custom-tailored, the singular,
as the goal and object(ive). This is true in the same sense as it is
true that "know-how," practical/productive arts, strive not for the
singular and one-time but the reliable & repeatable, though still the
somewhat specialized -- not the universal, theoretical, etc. -- and it
is true in the same sense that affective arts tend to strive for
totalities, universes, worlds in terms of which certain qualities take
on special and vibrant values -- and it is true in the same sense that
universals are the object of maths & sciences. It's true in those
senses, as far as they go, which is not unlimited.
Instead, those senses are limited, and, for instance, it is patently
obvious that, in _/subject matters/_, the research disciplines vary
every which way in typical scope -- physical, chemical, and life
sciences have concrete singulars in their unreduced, unabstracted-away
idiosyncrasies as their _/subject/_, howsoever universal the _/object/_
of such sciences is. And what's more, the disciplines of research vary
even in the scopes of their elementary objectives.
- The goal of empirical research is to learn more particulars -- _/is/_
there a tenth planet, _/is/_ there an earth quake in store for some
island, _/are/_ there more fossils of intermediates stage between whales
and land mammals, etc. -- and on a kind of higher level, to learn about
universals as specially applicable to them. Those universals are no more
interesting to such empirical research than the concreta which they help
explain and predict, so economically.
- The goal of statistical theory is to draw inductive conclusions from
samples to _/total populations/_, not universals -- yet, on a kind of
higher level, to learn about the _/universals/_ which apply to them.,
across them, etc., in statistical study.
I'm not sure how best to distinguish these "levels" and they don't seem
divided by impenetrable barriers -- last I heard, there's evidence that
lightspeed has changed relative to other fundamental quantities, and so
lightspeed, though a universal, is seen as a big, developing event -- a
kind of universal event (which in a sense it always was).
It's just a piece of intellectually unjustified but intellectually
practiced foreshortening, to hold that all this diversity of typical
scopes is unique to the disciplines of research. Much less are
disciplines of research concerned only with universals, which is just a
silly idea. In decision-makings and leadings, in performance and means,
in ends and satisfactions, and in checks and knowledge, and in the
respective disciplines of those things, there are or at least can be the
full variety of scopes involved some way or other in terms of subject
matter, or some kind of objective, even though each general area has its
general, "higher-level" (I'm not sure I even want to call it "higher"
but I just don't know what to call it) tendency to one or another scope
I'll also reply to Brent here.
>The serious researcher strains to test his theory, to give it the best
chance to fail.
Yes, s/he does that too, most definitely.
> I would say "always"; information always falls short of providing
That's true. But sometimes it falls a lot shorter than at other times,
and still we must act, or refrain, decisively, some of those times.
> I agree. That's why political leaders like to invoke religion and why
the professional military are often very religious. "Jumping to
conclusions" and "having convictions" are just two sides of the same
coin. Scientists tend to make poor political leaders.
"No atheists in foxholes." I think that I would have a desperate time of
it trying to maintain my agnosticism in such a situation, and little
time or energy to put into such a maintenance. "Metaphysically," I'm
just not particularly committed, but I'm old enough that I'm not about
to jump onto any particular bandwagon.
> But is the value of logic and evidence inherent or only instrumental?
Here you ask some questions which go deep, very deep, so I can only
ramble. Now, as far as I know, I'm the only person who thinks as I do on
The value of logic and evidence is neither "inherent" (i.e., an end in
itself, satisfying, delightful, contenting, pain-alleviating, felicific,
eudaemonic, etc., etc.) nor instrumental. It's neither means nor end.
The _/valuation/_, the socially institutionalized valuings of logic,
evidence, standards of rigor, evidence, standards of what's worth
knowing, etc., etc., are embodied in the disciplines of maths &
sciences, but they are broader in society, as any innocent defendant on
trial will hope, despite Richard Rorty's vicious nonsense about the
sciences' supposedly have nothing to offer to philosophy (originally
love of knowledge) about truth, inquiry, etc. Don't ask me to look it up
right now, but I'm sure he said it. Anyway, the basic value of logic and
evidence should be understood in terms of their basic role, which is
that of neither means nor end (which is not to deny that they have added
value because they can be means &/or ends, just as ends have because
they can also be means, and so on).
Instead it's a matter of checks, confirmations, supports, etc. With
respect to the checked end the check is not a means, it is not a means
to that end, it may be a means to some other end but, _/to that end/_,
it is the check, the confirmation or corroboration, etc., the
expectation-fullfilling side-effect or sign etc. which help to
evidence the achievement of the sought end. It's simply another
category, another flavor, than means and end, and is on a par with means
and end. One might try to get out of this by saying that it's a means to
pleasure-sensations dependent on external outcomes, the
pleasure-sensations being our "real" ends, our ends per se to the
exclusion of anything else, rather than being our often besought
intelligent appreciation of ends, but these sorts of "anthropo-nomy"
epicycles cause more conceptual problems than they're worth, unless one
prefers to view humanity as an elaborate puppet show with the puppeteers
emerging clearly only in our latest greatest theoretical conceptions.
The means-end dichotomy is inexhaustive and inadequate both in
conception and application.
I didn't refer to "means-ends", but if you value logic ;-) then "having inherent
value" and "not having inherent value" must define an exhaustive dichotomy.
It's vaguely like conceiving of matter and
energy while ignoring motions and structures. It's more exactly like
talking about middles and endings without considering beginnings and
checkings (as a middle or continuation is like a staying-begun, a
checking is like a staying-ended, an entelechy but with the emphasis on
the heldness, the firmness, of the "perfection" rather than, as
Aristotle did it, on the perfection itself. What holds up and is
supported, firm, is confirmed; vegetables have ends, intelligent animals
have checks and learn). In typical human affairs such that happiness or
satisfaction (I don't mean the pure sensations thereof) is generally the
end and rational work the means, what is the beginning?
Your explication seems to turn on a pun. "End" as something of value doesn't
imply a beginning.
Why wouldn't there be a general aspect of beginning in the same sense as
there is of ends or means? (I think that the beginning would be
deliberation and trying.)
Now, this is the sort of angle about which only philosophically minded
people can care: In applying since at least the Ancient Greeks the
comparison of means and goals with middles/continuations and haltings
("ends," culminations), which seems to occur throughout European
languages (I don't know about others but I'd bet the comparison or
analogy is pretty frequent there too), one has to stop and ask whether
"everything exists" and whether the comparison or analogy is to be
extended systematically to the other two terms or "turns" of becoming.
It's certainly strange for such a comparison to work so well for two
steps and then just be absent for the other two steps. In fact, if it
doesn't persist through all four, there must be something radically
wrong with it. After these thousands of years, and that seems unlikely.
But only the philosophically minded will care about this angle. I'll get
more into examples.
> I'm not sure I undestand what you mean by, "valuings and carings in
regard to the sources, powers, principles whereby one moves and acts."
Every one has values (things they care about). They include things like
security, companionship, stimulation, children, sex. But I don't know
in what sense they care about "source, powers, and principles" except
They care about the powers in their lives and the ethical, political,
and other principles whereby they act. They care about their virtues,
strengths, and fortes. They care about their rights and freedoms and
others' rights and freedoms.
Sure, people care about (value) all kinds of things; even the words used to
describe things - see recent debate over "theology" vs "metaphysics" - some
inherently, some instrumentally, and some mixed. But I'm not sure I'd call
those "powers" - I guess you mean something like "motivations".
They care about their relationship, such as
they believe it to be, their relationship to the power of the universe
"The power of the universe itself"? What would that be? Are you going all
mystical on me?
These are sources, beginnings, leaderships, principles, (Greek)
_/arches/_. This is not mere instrumentality. Deciding and determining
is not a mere means, the decider employs means to ends. The decider in
that sense is the beginning, the leader.
Not if no one follows.
_/Arches kai mesa/_, beginnings/leadings, and means. It's the difference
between (a) **will & character** and (b) **ability & competence**.
Aristotle wrote his ethical treatises about character in a broader sense
than exclusively that of morality, and character in that broader sense
is what it's about. It's a shame that Aristotle didn't also write
treatises about ability and competence, _/hikanoteta/_. Now, a
carpenter, for instance, is not simply a means to carpentry, a means for
carpented things to actualize themselves.
Has anyone every suggested such a thing?
The carpenter tries and
deliberates, pursues, chooses or accepts (or rejects), and adheres to
(or renounces) his/her underlying decisions even to do the work at all,
throughout the process. Is all this volition a "means"? Somebody else's
means, perhaps; the market's means perhaps, and so on. But it isn't the
carpenter's means, it's the carpenter's leading, deciding, etc. which,
by means, tools, resources, s/he carries out. This striving and deciding
is most clearly seen as no mere means in contexts where control is truly
I would suppose that a carpenter has pride of workmanship and so there is
inherent pleasure in doing his job well. His choice of this tool or that is
partly instrumental relative to that pleasure. But he also does carpentry as a
means to food, shelter, etc.
In the carpenter's sawing, hammering, etc., the exercise of
skills and abilities, control is not really at stake. But in the
carpenter's will and decision-making, control of the situation among
various factors in the carpenter is at stake.
I think I understand the words, but the sentence leaves me blank.
Now, one is free to devise
an epicycle-filled "anthropo-nomy" in order to describe intelligent
beings while classing volition and decision-making as mere means, but
it's not particularly useful.
It's the basis of a whole branch of mathematics called decision theory, a branch
which is widely *used*.
Another way to see this is by a set of
examples comprising an exhaustive set of a certain kind of combinations
of the two.
What two - you seem to introduce a lot more than two things below?
Choice and decision-making with regard to means is the _/economic/_ field.
Choice and decision-making with regard to choice and decision-making
(deciding who or what gets to decide, etc.) comprise the _/political and
martial/_ field, also sometimes vis-a-vis nature, e.g., firefighting,
hunting (where it's not purely sport and not safely under control
(animal husbandry)), etc.
Means, methods, practices with regard to choice and
decision-making, comprise the field of _/management, administration, and
Means, methods, practices with regard to means, methods,
practices, comprise the field of _/skilled labor, crafts, cooperation,
Sometimes you'll see a renovator having to be the businessman, the
manager, and the co-worker, all at once in various ways, and sometimes
having to be the fighter or politician too. A lot of work!
Or maybe a lot of categories we've invented for the work.
Examples of the differences in terms just of disciplines. Table produced
directly in markup (Outlook Express is good for that), no tedious junk code:
(& arts of being ruled,
governed; arts of self-governance)
Disciplines of deciding and character
Disciplines of means, competencies
Affective arts (lit., music, dance, painting, sculpt., stage, screen,
Disciplines of ends, satisfactions, sensibilities
Maths & sciences
Disciplines of checks and intelligence, knowledge
Discipline, cultivated cognition regarding _________: beginnings,
(decision-making, will, character) middles, means, _/mesa/_
(ability, competence) ends, culminations, _/teloi/_
(affectivity, sensibility, but again not just the feelings in
themselves, divorced from the actual; electrode implants would
suffice for that.) checks, _/ichnoi/_, _/entelecheiai/_
(cognition, intelligence, etc.)
Scope of "higher" object of said discipline: singulars among more
singulars non-universal generals totalities, universes, gamuts universals
Level associated with such scope:
(A bit off-off-topic, in order to get back on-topic -- I have to bring
this back to the Everything _/somehow/_!)
I do think that biggest pictures should fit together.
Level I Level II Level III Level IV
Best, Ben Udell
I'm always suspicious of schemes with "Levels". Sometimes the schemer invents
the levels to put his opinions at the highest (and implicity, the best) level.
"Pushpin's as good as poetry."
--- Jeremy Bentham