I've edited my previous post, added some corrections & notes, and pared down a
lot of the stuff from previous posts. At this point I'm sending it on a "for
what it's worth" basis -- I'm a little tired of it myself!
I've also thought to try to put this back in its original context but there
isn't much, it's become something of a longueur. The context had been a
discussion of theory & practice, and how it is that we can't wait in practical
matters for the kind of theoretical near-certainty which theoretical
researchers seek multi-generationally, and must occasionally even act with
total conviction despite significant uncertainty, so let's not get scornful of
all practical action on sole account of the excesses of a portion of it. I had,
in a complicated way, said that all of us, just like the religious among us,
care and have values regarding the principles, strengths, powers, starting
points, etc., by which we move, act, and live, and that Bruno was right to
point to things which stand out in religious people but which are in all of us.
(I disagree for various reasons with Bruno that we're all "religious" but I do
think that most of us have views that can fairly be called metaphysical.)!
I pointed out that we could not have an applicational knowledge of such
things ('ruling arts' or 'governing arts') without valuing of such things, any
more than we can have know-how without care-how, or affective art without
gratificational valuings, or maths & sciences without valuings of knowledge,
evidence, logic, etc.,, which, as abstract as it sounds, ultimately conjures up
an earthly picture of a common systematic set of fields which we're variously
tilling. think I knocked Rorty somewhere there. Anyway, there, as in other
places I seem to discern echoes of Tegmark's four Levels, though not so much as
in divisions of research fields into families.
Brent asked, "But is the value of logic and evidence inherent or only
instrumental?" and it took off from there. It's pretty much like asking whether
the value of truth is inherent or only instrumental. Now, I don't know how to
read it except as, is the value of logic and evidence an end value or only a
means value -- is it something at which we are satisfied, culmination and
climax, an end or ending, or is it a way of getting there? Is truth's value
that it's pleasing or that it's useful? My answer is that the value of logic &
evidence (& truth) is neither one nor the other per se, though they can and
inevitably do take on such values as means and ends (as ends especially in
research disciplines!), and that the means-end dichotomy is kind of starved,
looks & sounds starved, and a little knowledge of the ideas & the words tends
to corroborate that. The basic value of evidence & logic is not in production
or consumption but in assimiliation, rumination, integration; not in fa!
cilitation or satisfaction, but grounding & support and making us know, and is
the value of the holding in completeness after a culmination; and their most
elementary relationship with means and ends is as checks in their supporting
and legitimizing or confirming an end or result as having been attained as
first seems, as the splashed headline claims, etc. You can see this in the
Helmholz-Poincare picture of the creative process: saturation is the beginning;
incubation the means; illumination the culminative end; and verification the
check. In fact, we don't need to ask whether something has "value" as a means,
"value" as an end, etc.; we could just as well ask whether it has "legitimacy"
or "soundness" as a means, "legitimacy" or "soundness" as an end, "legitimacy"
or "soundness" as a check. That extra layer of "value," "legitimacy," or
whatever, consists of essentially the same set of conceptions, merely with
different words, as in the first layer. It occurs to me that I !
don't know why Brent asked about intrinsic value versus instru!
alue of logic & evidence in the first place.
Anyway, FWIW at this point, here's my previous post with some corrections &
notes, and paring down of stuff from earlier posts.
>>[Ben] At this point I'm not talking about aspiring. I'm talking
>>straightforwardly about being in control, making decisions -- at least for
>>oneself. Some want more power than that. Some have more power than that and
>>don't want it. Some have all that and want still more. Parents reasonable
>>want control over their children. Most of us have had the opportunity to test
>>our self-control, resist destructive temptations in life, etc. There's
>>nothing any more or less "dualist" (I don't know what you're getting at)
>>about self-governance than about self-awareness or any other reflexive sort
>>of thing. Making one's own choices, being free to do that, having the
>>backbone to do it, etc., these are everyday issues.
>[Brent] I guess I've lost the thread of this discussion. You're saying people
>value/want self-control - but sometimes they don't. Sometimes they have
>self-control - but sometimes they don't. I gather that a non-trivial decision
>means one between choices that evoke negative emotions, i.e. no "good" choices.
Really, I've been talking about means, ends, & other such elements, and trying
to place them into familiar contexts, such as that of "wanting them" and
"having them." You've been adding an unncessary conceptual layer by referring
to them as "values," general ends, as if this were some substrate or genus
shared by them. If something is a means, then it has value as a means, but what
have you added by saying this? And it's an arbitrary choice of complication.
You could say that a given thing, as a means, also:
1. is a decision point of some consequence in its role as a means
2. is used in various ways in its role as a means
3. is an end in being a means (i.e., its being a means, its manner of being a
means, gives it instrumental value),
4. is a check in being a means (i.e., its being a means, its manner of being a
means, makes it telling and evidentiary).
To be systematic, I should say (though it stretches the usual meaning of the
word "check") that a given thing, as a means, also:
4. is a check in being a means (i.e., its being a means, its manner of being a
means, gives it instrumental legitimacy)
In other words, a given thing, as a means, also has legitimacy or soundness as
a means partly to the extent that it's a real, honest means and partly as
reflecting the legitimacy or soundness of other elements and the overall
This is likewise as it has value as a means partly to the extent that it's a
good means and partly as reflecting the value of other elements and the overall
(Legitimativeness is to legitimacy more or less as value-additiveness or
beneficialness is to value.).
Now, if you say, "you mean it can have evidentiary _value_?", I'll respond "it
can and very likely will have that, too, though it's not what I said or meant."
Then when I talk about decidings, you want to conceive of deciding as a "value"
too., etc. To say that something has value, is to say that it is an end (an end
to some extent, the extent varying as the value). To say that something has
value as a means is to say that that thing is an end, because it is a means to
some further end. It's true and important but it's distracting you. It's as if
there were four ice cream cones including a chocolate one, and you added a
second scoop, chocolate, to each of all four. Chocolate is cool, chocolate is
deep, yet, and yet, they're not all chocolate, though they're quite capable for
When you asked, "But is the value of logic and evidence inherent or only
instrumental?" you were asking, are logic and evidence an end in themselves or
are they a secondary end, an end whose achievement is mainly a means to a
You had said it response to my saying, "Now, valuings and ideals are a side of
the theoretical which tends to get minimized in the context of the
practical-theoretical distinction, just as the difference in the practical
between decision-making and performance tends to get sloughed over also in the
context of practical-theoretical distinction. But there's no knowledge based on
logic & evidence without valuing of logic & evidence..."
It may be that, in order to clarify my notion of 'end,' I should say
"culmination," a kind of ending -- not just 'telos' but 'teleiosis,' reaching
the end, actualization. The check is the confirming it, a kind of
solidification and holding in completeness.
Now, when we pick or take something, sometimes it's so direct that we don't
think of means as being saliently involved. But often enough there are these
intermediate stages we go through, and intermediating things. If the decision
is regarded as a kind of main cause, those middles appear, relative to the
situation of interest, as intermediate causes, helpers, facilitating causes. Of
course they're also intermediate effects. In any case we regard them as means.
If the goal is achieved, effected, sometimes it's so directly obvious that we
don't think of any checks as being involved. But often enough there are these
collateral and at least a bit later things or events to which we look. If the
goal is regarded as a kind of main effect, those things or events "on the side"
or further in time appear, relative to the situation of interest, as side
effects, after-effects, evidentiary effects. Just as in advance one may have
desired & hoped for the end, one may have imagined and anti!
cipated the collateral effects, the evidences. One then also will have hoped
for them, but only because one hopes for them as signs of the goal's having
been achieved. They aren't means to the goal, they're beyond and in addition to
the goal in a rather similar sense as the means are beyond and in addition to
the beginning, the deciding or governing. We depend on such checks a great deal
and at least somewhat radically, anyway deeply. Our deep dependence on them is
what separates us from purely instinctual animals and from vegetables, whose
adjustments and adaptations in responses to conditions stop short of points
beyond which we speak of design adaptations, which require evolution or
intelligence. We're not quite to the point of redesigning ourselves
biologically but we redesign much in our world. If a vegetable's decoding of a
signal is "disconfirmed," this heightens its odds of leaving the gene pool --
the signal's 'recipient' is in a sense the evolutionary process. We !
have not the worst brains and are sufficiently unbound to part!
odes and systems of interpretation, sufficiently that we can test [and CHECK]
our interpretations and systems thereof, at least somewhat, rather than leaving
that job mostly or entirely to biological evolution.
beginnings --> dynamics --> chaotic processes, sensitive dependence on initial
conditions --> amplified differences, strengthened differences
middles --> matter --> stochastic processes, averaging dependence on
intermediate-stage conditions --> averages, middles
ends --> life --> cybernetic, "feedback" processes, corrective, perfective
dependence on outputs --> ends, functions
checks --> intelligent life --> intelligent, inferential processes, supportive,
fortificative dependence on collateral conditions, after-conditions --> checks
And we're back at the correlations to
- variational principles
- logic & inference
correlating (not equating) in turn to stages of a quantum particle's career in
an experiment and correlating (not equating) ultimately to Tegmark Levels IV,
III, II, I.
>[Brent] I think you'd find the experiments of Libet and Grey Walter
>interesting. They are not definitive, but they both provide evidence that
>decisions are made in the brain before one becomes conscious of them.
I read about something like that in the newspaper. It's interesting stuff but
not relevant to anything that I've been getting at here.
>>[Ben] I don't see the conceptual or discussional advantage of preferring to
>>keep framing means and ends as two instances of general ends -- values.
>[Brent] Perhaps it is because values can be negative, i.e. pain has a negative
>value for most and so it is never and end. However, it may be a means (pinch
>yourself to stay awake while driving).
These are merely terminological issues. Some results are fought against, call
them negative ends, anti-ends, soever as suits taste. Now, you earlier said "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."
Now in fact the dichotomy which you offered wasn't "having inherent value"
versus "not having inherent value" but instead "inherent value" versus
"instrumental value." It's [a] dichotomy because you treat it as exhaustive
(since you have since made it clear that you equate "instrumental value" with
"non-inherent value") and it's a dichotomy because though a thing can have
both, it has them in different ways, on different accounts, even when these
ways or accounts are essentially related to each other. Energy of rest and
energy of potential or actual motion are a dichotomy and neatly sum to total
energy, and a system certainly can have both rest energy and kinetic or p!
otential energy. Equivalently, assuming the use of light units, m+e = E.
>>[Ben] Nevertheless, the idea that a decision is not usually also a value
>>leads to incoherence. If a decision is not worth making, then why make it?
>[Brent] I was distinguishing "a decision" from "making a decision", the latter
>implies an action which is presumably of value.
I've gone over the question of painting means, ends, and related terms all as
kind of ends, above.
>>[Ben] And if the decision to make a door is of value in making the door, and
>>that value is neither the value of a means nor the value of an end, then what
>>sort of value is it?
>[Brent] OK, I take your point. It can be regarded as of instrumental value
>"in making" the door. For example if I offered the carpenter a good price for
>a door and
that motivated him to decide to make the door, then his decision would be part
of the chain that eventuates in my getting the door I wanted.
You've shifted viewpoint, reference frame. His very power to decide, and also
his finally deciding something one way or another, may become means to my ends,
means to the market's ends, etc. I'm not talking about that sort of thing.
What's the value of decision to the decider? Don't think of it just in terms of
"which decision," i.e. the goal, or as simply a mental decision. What's the
value, for a decider, of being a decider? Some people want to be strong and
powerful, some people want to have skills and be resourceful and productive,
some people want to be moved and deeply feel and enjoy, and some people want to
conceive, opine, understand, and know like it were going out of style. Some
people focus on more than one of these things. What are the differences?
[NOTE: I talked earlier about trying to conceive all these things simply as
themselves rather than as all being ends & values on some level -- then, later,
I seem to turn around later and slip into talking about them all as values.
That later part was written earlier. I'm not sure how I would revise all that
except to say, "well, on the other hand, let's try it your way." I mean, it's
not as if means lacked instrumental value etc., it's just that it's helpful
conceptually to try to look at them without a habitual conceptual "overlay" of
values. Well, yes, it's not just an "overlay," but I don't know quite how to
say it, it's like another layer of roles, those second scoops of ice cream.]
Or confining it to various kinds of decision-processes, conflicts,
competitions, rivalries, debates, and their respective prizes, in four popular
1. political/martial/enforcement/protection 2. business & commerce 3. cultural
4. 'intellectual' (as we sometimes call it -- better just to call it popular
Some want power. (Prize of conflict, the decision process about decision-making
Some want wealth, means, resources. (Prize of competition & business, the
decision process about means)
Some want wattage, glamour, splendor or popularity, and the nice kind of
action, as we sometimes call it, that goes with it (Prize of the decision
process about ends, perfections).
Some want guruhood, authoritativeness. (Prize of the decision process about
checks, evidence, logical support).
[NOTE: "prize of the decision process about ends, perfections" may seem murky.
Remember it may be a large-scale decision-process. It's about who, or what,
gets to be the end, the goal, the inherent or quasi-inherent value, the
consumption good (in one sense or another) etc. A baseball player, making a
superb play, becomes the delight/pride/etc. of himself and of all or many folks
around. There's an "energy," but I think the idea of power as in horsepower,
candlepower, etc., is better -- but it conflicts with the word "power" already
used in another sense above -- the "mana" of political/martial affairs is
already called "power," a more traditional sense of the word. It's a kind of
accident of linguistic history. Power in a political or military sense is
rather a force-like idea, an idea of potency, agent potency, dynamis, rather
than a wattage-power idea. In particular, force is a distance quantity
associated with a direction. You can readily consider forces as being in oppo!
sition and all that. This makes it much more suitable than mechanical power as
a metaphor for political/martial/etc. might, not to mention the consideration
of complex political forces opposed stably in intentionally designed structures
of supports, checks, & balances.]
>[Brent] You keep mischaracterizing my view. I don't insist on dividing values
>into means and ends. I see inherent and instrumental as two kinds of
>attributes a value can have. It can have them both at once; they are different
>but not contrary.
I've gone over this above; you regard "instrumental" & "inherent" as exhaustive
of kinds of value, and I noted that they are a dichotomy for exhausitiveness
and, despite what you say, mutual exclusion, since a thing can have both of
them just as it can have both mass & energy, or both rest energy and non-rest
energy. A thing can be both means and end, be an end on account of its being a
means, etc. It's just not a means in the same sense that it is an end.
>>[Ben] The problem is that will, deciding, etc., is always related to means
>>and ends. So what is it, in means-ends terms? Means and ends are middles and
>>ends, moyens et fins, medios y fines, mesa kai teloi, etc., etc. But the
>>willing, the deciding is not, qua the kind of "beginning" which it is, either
>>means or ends.
>[Brent] Above you argued that the carpenter's decision to build a door had
>instrumental value in building the door. So that would make it a means too.
As I said, that was a typo. And as I've said above and also previously, it is
can also be a means, from another viewpoint or another frame of interests, etc.
In fact it is very likely to be also a means -- just in a different respect,
indeed in some related but different respect.
>[Brent] You seem to be concerned to carve out a special category for human
>decisions, a "will" or "volition" that is not determined by anything merely
>mechanical or calculable. That would be inconsistent with Bruno's "comp"
That would be inconsistent with it, not that I'd be particularly concerned
about it. Anyway I'm not addressing any issues of free will or interested in
anything like agreeing or disagreeing with that aspect of the comp hypothesis.
I've been focusing primarily on issues like those of means and evidence and
goals, where we are usually not at all concerned about what happened at or
before the Big Bang, or what will happen a trillion years hence. I haven't been
focusing on issues of physical and cosmological causation. That's why I keep
worrying about off-topicality. I haven't been focusing on those issues even
when I mention connections or parallelisms between those subjects' issues --
causes and effects, decision-making and satisfaction, etc..
>>>>>>[Ben] 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 at stake.
>>>>>[Brent] 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.
>>>>[Ben] So what? You're confusing the decision-making with the goals and
>>>>values and feelings, as if, given a set of goals, the decisions were
>>>>already made, or get made automatically, and as if people's decision-making
>>>>were a trivial process.
>>>[Brent] I'm not sure what you mean by "trivial"? How do you know they
>>>aren't? Are you aware of the experiments of Libet and Grey Walter.
>>[Ben] No. I am extremely doubtful that some "experiments" are about to
>>overthrow all the trouble that people take over decision-making in everyday
>>life, in various disciplines, in various communities, in various practices
>>and employments, and especially in various arenas -- in debate, in sports &
>>fashion, in business & finance, and especially in politics and in war and
>[Brent] I don't know what "overthrow" could mean in this context. But
>experiments may show that people don't make decisions the way they think they
I haven't even been talking about decisions as physiological phenomena or in
any such context. I'm talking about decisions and getting things decided, on a
continuum from a first impulse in a brain to the exertion and enforcement of
that will far away, and even further than that, insofar as the _unintended
consequences_ in an economic process, for instance, are also decisions and
determinations reached by that process even when nobody involved wants them.
How do decisions get made, even when they're not yours or mine or his or hers
or theirs? That is the viewpoint which I've been taking. If I wonder how
Eisenhower decided which day to go ahead with D-Day, I very much doubt the
specific relevance of any such brain experiments. Likewise if I wonder about
the decision process in juries, legislatures, electorates, businesspeople,
labor unions, fans voting in a movie star contest, people following a debate,
people trying to decide whether to buy oranges or nails, a research revie!
wer trying to decide what to put into a report, etc., I'll expect there to be
a whole lot to learn about it that has nothing special to do with brain
chemistry. You keep alluding to some sort of means-end, instrumentality &
pleasure calculus which would be all that one needs to know about
decision-making -- that and some sort of brain phenomenon. The vying of wills
among people, the vying of internal habits and "wills" within a person, don't
seem to be an issue with you.
>>[Ben] The making of decisions, and the making decisions stick, is a very big
>>part of life. We have police forces and justice systems for it, for instance.
>>Sometimes people overemphasize process, but some respect for decision-making
>>processes is essential in a free society.
>[Brent] A free society generally refers to one in which individuals get to
>make decisions for themselves - with as little help as possible from police
>forces and judges.
That disproportionately vague statement [CORRECTION: actually it's a precise
statement and I agree with it. But as a response it seemed really vague in its
relation to what I said, and seemed, in that relation, to suggest that I was
making an awful lot of room for judges and police forces] sounds as if you
think it contradicts what I said. If you're saying that the only free society
is one in which police forces and judges play no significant role, then your
idea is not logically determined by reality and instead is itself the slave of
your whimsy. If you don't mean that, then the statement was in fact a change of
subject and sounds like you're saying that most decision-making is unimportant
because it "should" be unimportant and absent in the right kind of society.
What counts with you is the carpenter's calculus of pleasure, pleasurable
pride, and efficient means. The idea that real people face real decisions which
sometimes defeat them doesn't seem to have made an impress!
ion on you. Sometimes people, individually or collectively, make bad decisions
-- not just picking the wrong door, the one with the booby prize behind it, but
rather complexes of decisions such as to entangle themselves to the point of
confusion, paralysis, etc., and complicating and warping the decision process
If one is thinking about things like mathematical decision theory, and thinking
about its practical applications, then one is implicitly _conceding_ the
importance of the decision-making process itself.
Then one will also note that it's not as if nobody ever thought about governing
a decision process, dealing with or facilitating a decision process, variously
and complexly valuing a decision process, or understanding a decision process
before. It's not as if this second-order stuff were a new invention. To the
contrary, one has to consider that in the real, human world, the second-order
decision-making is _always going on_. When it's in regard to decision-making
itself, it's called politics, combat, etc. I used to think that I should call
this stuff "second-order," then I thought maybe I'd better call it
"second-level." Now I'll fee free again to call it "second-order." Anyway,
likewise there is always second-order performance, handling, application of
ability. Likewise always second-order affectivity, valuings with regard to
power, submission, (self-)governance (religion, morality/moralism, and many
isms), and with regard to means and performance (care-how), and with rega!
rd to feelings and gratifications, and with regard to cognition, belief,
knowledge, etc. Again, we don't just, vegetable-like, decode; we test our
interpretations and systems of interpretation, and we re-design and
re-architect. We never stop doing that, individually and in the long run
collectively, it's matter only of more or less and for better or worse.
>>[Ben] You might as well ask how I know that all thought processes represented
>>on the everything-list aren't trivial.
>[Brent] I'm not asking you how you know (though I may get around to that).
>What I asked is what you mean by "trivial" or "non-trivial". My current guess
>is you just mean difficult in some sense, either because it is hard to forsee
>consequences or because all choices seem to be bad ones.
I hope I've clarified above.
>>[Ben] The selective employment of hyperbolic Cartesian doubt is not
>>>> [Ben] But goals and values and feelings sometimes conflict, in
>>>> multifarious ways. Sometimes there is no clear answer and one has to
>>>> decide anyway.
>>>[Brent] So what? It is usually uncertain what all the consequences of an
>>>action may be. Also people often have values that are not transitive, i.e.
>>>they prefer A to B and B to C and C to A; particularly when A, B, and C may
>>>be in different mental categories.
>>[Ben] This makes no sense. You're arguing that decision-making is still
>[Brent] I didn't argue that anything was "trivial" because I don't know what
>you mean by it.
I hope I've clarified above. I mean it's not a calculus (or maybe an algebra or
an arithmetic) of pleasures and means, such that when we know the prospective
pleasures and means, we know all that we need to know about the decision-making
that will be involved..
>>[Ben] even when decision-making is difficult and when the outcome is not
>[Brent] You mean not absolutely predictable by a 3rd party?
That sort of question is not what I'm talking about. I mean difficulties than
tend (and they will tend) to impact in second-order ways, for instance impact
the decision process itself, for better, worse, or both, and, as one thing
leads to another, get mixed up with all kinds of other things too. I get the
feeling that there are certain kinds of situations in which you haven't been
much involved, to which I would say, you may be better off.
>>[Ben] Is this supposed to be true in an individual, or among individuals in
>>groups, or both?
>[Brent] It is certainly true in groups, c.f. Arrow's theorem. Although
>economists often assume that individuals have completely transitive value
>sets, experiments tend to show they don't.
I didn't mean to disagee that there are rocks-scissors-paper circular
hierarchies in values. I mean, I don't know why you're arguing that
decision-making may still be trivial even when it's complex and difficult,
especially when you say you don't know what kind of triviality it is. I hope
I've made its nontriviality a little clearer above.
>> [Ben]I f we care about what kind of society we live in, I don't think that
>> we can regard decision-making, either in an individual, or among
>> individuals, as trivial. And also you say that sometimes preferences are
>> clear and somehow the occurrence of such cases is "good enough" -- for what?
>> Is that supposed to be trivial or nontrivial decision-making? I'm not sure
>> of your point there.
>[Brent] Me neither. I don't recall writing those things. I think maybe we
>are in violent agreement ;-)
I don't find your having written quite those things either. I think I got
confused. Sorry about that.
>>[Ben] Control within him was at stake. What are the controlling choices which
>>he makes in life, the controlling repeated choices and habits? I'm not
>>switching to psychology, but this is elementary psychology.
>[Brent] That goes with a modular theory of mind - which I find worth
I don't know about modular theories of mind, but I think people can experience
decisional dissonance, competential dissonance, affective dissonance, and
The only one of those that doesn't seem obvious to me on re-reading it is
competential dissonance -- I mean, for instance, when a person's dealings with
some person or issue conflict with each other.
>[Brent (re mathematical decision theory)] They'd call decisions about whether
>to make a decision "2nd order decisions" - not "means".
Well, I consider that very reasonable, I've called it that myself in the past.
>>>[Brent] Oh, OK. So choice about means is economics - but isn't it also
>>[Ben] The soundbyte characterization of economic activity as choice in regard
>>to means is from the Austrian School of economics. I would characterize
>>engineering as a discipline, a cultivated kind of know-how. Knowledge in
>>regard to means. Again, a soundbyte characterization. .... Art has been
>>characterized as essentially a process of selection, or selective
>>composition, by Wordsworth for instance. But I would characterize it as a
>>_discipline_, a cultivated kind of knowing or understanding in what effects
>>one feels things (affectively). ...the works are embodiments of such
>>understandings. Not a systematic, scientific knowledge or understanding. Such
>>would be affective psychology. Psychology or any discipline of knowledge or
>>research is a cultivated kind of learning or knowing in or on what light or
>>basis one learns or knows things.
I would add here that those characterizations are following the second-order
first-order pattern in the phrase "deciding about decisions." The
characterizations are simplified, "coarse-grained," though. An engineers
know-how is not just his knowing a bunch of methods. There's applied scientific
knowledge, among other things, in there, and the methods often have to do with
researching a problem, testing, etc. In fact one doesn't have to be an engineer
in order to sequence various remedies to a problem of uncertain cause in such a
way as to hopefully minimize cost and in any case to yield information about
the problem's cause along the way.
>>>>>[Brent] Or maybe a lot of categories we've invented for the work.
>>>>[Ben] Politics & martial affairs; business; management & compliance; skills
>>>>of labor & cooperation -- "invented categories"? That's not a serious
>>>[Brent] Why not? I could also categorize the same actions as communication,
>>>calculation, and physical labor? All categories are invented. My point was
>>>that simply classifying something according to a lot attributes doesn't make
>>>that something any bigger (or smaller).
>>[Ben] Which of those activities could possibly be categorized as
>>"calculation"? That's the most surprising thing that you've said.
>[Brent] Management is the allocation of resources, which often involves
It involves calculation? That doesn't mean you can reasonably characterize it
AS calculation. There's simply nothing realistic about your view there.
Management is allocation of resources, particularly as a practice, or skilled
practice, etc. Also I was talking about management and administration as well,
thinking also of government regulators applying regulations, and also about
compliance, what those of us do who are managed, regulated, etc. (I'm not
talking about one's efforts at opposition, which can get more political,
belligerent, etc. in one sense or another. Then of course there's conflict
management. There really are more than two orders or levels to these things,
though for broad outlines two are convenient.)
>>[Ben] If categories are all "invented," arbitrary, then there's no point in
>[Brent] Invented isn't the same as arbitrary.
Sometimes they come pretty close. In any case, some categorizations have more
sense &/or thought &/or history in them than others. In terms of how seriously
one takes them in the first place, one can't have one's cake and eat it too..
>>>>>[Brent] 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.
Actually, both extremes have their cachets -- one highest, one most basic.
>>[Ben] Another piece of agreed clarity. But I don't know how much longer we
>>can get away with this off-topicality.
>[Brent] No problem. You talked about Tegmark's levels. I got us back on
>topic by pointing out that your theory of mind is inconsistent with Bruno's
>"comp" - if I understand them correctly.
I hope I clarified above that I'm not offering or focusing on the kind of
theory of mind such as would raise issues of consistency or inconsistency with
As for Tegmark, I at least gestured in his direction again somewhere above.