January 4, 1996 10:39AM
Human scientists must be adept with models of reality. Not just understanding them but able to hold them, promote them or attack them. They must be able to identify the constituencies of a particular model in terms of paradigm, be able to predict the alliances and conflicts that will occur between paradigms. Relativism regarding these paradigms must be replaced with a democratic approach, recognizing the necessary authority of those paradigms with more power, and insisting on that authority assuming the responsibility of protecting and nurturing less powerful paradigms. This is the organic model of society.
January 17, 1996 11:21AM
Where some would maintain that inquiry in human affairs requires different methods from those used in the natural sciences, my position is that seeing the human sciences as different is based on differences in epistemology. It is also changes in epistemological position that brings the hegemony of the natural sciences into question. However the basis for believing that the methods of natural science do not apply to human science is the misunderstanding of how science is actually done. Those who have analyzed and created nomothetic structure for science have been philosophers rather than scientists, and have created the structure of logical positivism to explain and direct the practice of science. Since logical positivism actually begs the question of philosophical bases by denying their relevance, those bases are never explicit. Yet philosophical bases for science exist, and they are not logical positivist bases.
The conflict between human science and natural science is due to the logical positivist philosophy that is incompatible with human science. However, seeing that logical positivism does not explain natural science, and that when we do explain natural science philosophically, that explanation is not incompatible with human science, then human science is no longer necessarily in conflict with natural science. A more circumspect philosophy of science, and inquiry overall, unites the traditional "scientific method" with the alternative methodologies proposed for human science.
January 21, 1996 5:39PM
Jarvie (1972) says, "people are divided from themselves: their theories or beliefs, their myths, are what so tragically separate them. And these theories, because they are acted on, themselves create and sustain the imagined divisions." I would add to that, those with the most power are most able to sustain the imagined divisions and thus implement their own realities at the expense of others.
January 23, 1996 2:47PM
If the brain is just a map of the territory, what constitutes a better map? (January 26, 1996 12:18PM) Asking whether the mind is in the brain is like asking whether blue is in the electromagnetic spectrum. The answer is both yes, and no. The frequencies we recognize as blue are in what we recognize as the spectrum, but the process that turns those frequencies into blue are irrelevant to the spectrum. Blue is something we add to frequency to identify it as unique in a system finely attuned to specific values. There is no accounting for our placing just this value on these frequencies. Likewise, the phenomenon we recognize as mind may be just as irrelevant to the physical manifestation of brain. Our recognition of mind is the result of a similar process. Mind is a prime value that has perennially been recognized but is just as impossible to account for as blue. One might say that our DNA simply has a reason, systemically, for recognizing it. This reason, like myriad other mysterious reasons, has been lost in the depths of evolution, and the net result, our perception, has been internalized and is all that remains.
January 28, 1996 4:01PM
Truth demands a congruence between reality and discourse, between the holistic and the atomistic. This congruence need not be proven in most cases. Usually isomorphism is assumed after a sufficiently rigorous effort to make them isometric. At this point we reify the truth. We must remember that reality is not actuality. Reality is still symbolic, but isomorphism insures veridicality that is substantially greater than chance. Continued substantiation results in internalization of the truth, or absolutization.
February 10, 1996 5:10PM
A modern scientist must make a critical personal decision: whether they are interested in knowledge, in which case they work within the existing scientific paradigm on matters of technological significance, or whether they are interested in wisdom, where there is no currently dominant paradigm. The question is simply whether to be, or not to be, a scientist. Because to go into the field of wisdom is not seen as a scientific endeavor.
February 22, 1996 5:17PM
The phenomenon of paradox is one of the best arguments for an idealist, over a realist, philosophy. Paradox is the possible existence of contradictory explanations for the same phenomenon. For a realist, who expects such statements to reveal a apodictic truth about the real world, only one explanation can rationally exist. The other explanation must itself be explained as an illusion. However, for the idealist, who sees such explanations, not as statements about the real world, but as necessary idealizations about a world that cannot otherwise be explained, paradox tells us not about the world but about our perception of it. The two cusps of the paradox are, for the idealist, complementary perspectives of something that cannot otherwise be known. Therefore, the realist is trying to do something difficult with half of his faculties immobilized. Plus he is mistakenly reifying a single perspective where at least two perspectives are necessary for comprehension.
February 29, 1996 5:45PM
The use of the verb "works" can be taken in two ways: the objective and the subjective. If I say an idea works, I can mean that using the idea as a model for action results in an instrumental success. I can also mean that the idea integrates easily with other ideas and serves to comprehensively explain phenomena. Let us call the latter an affective acceptance and the former an instrumental acceptance. To say an idea works is actually to imply both forms of acceptance, affective and instrumental. 6:16PM It is an empirical error to assume that all of rationality takes place on a conscious level. It is a mistake even to think that most of rationality is conscious. It is more accurate to see conscious rationality as an epiphenomenon of total rationality, almost irrelevant to the systemic nature of rational thought. That means that rationality cannot be engineered, i.e., methodology can be no guarantee to rationality. Once again, the only guarantee to rationality is workability of theory over time and space. It must be tested numerous times by individuals and by groups of individuals. When theory works, it is rational only so long as no other theory works better. Integration and comprehensiveness are the only epistemologically valid criteria.
April 19, 1996 3:21PM
People gain power through actualization of a potential for power. Actualization is a process of articulating a potential reality, producing it in discourse, and then implementing that reality. This process consolidates the power of many individuals into a single entity for the purpose of preserving as a class those individuals who share the desire for the articulated reality. Success of the process is determined by the relative strength of the consolidated entity over all competing entities.
April 23, 1996 4:25PM
The search for knowledge achieves status and privilege by virtue of its link to power. (Aronowitz, 1988, p.293) Knowledge reflects the means whereby energy is conserved, producing a marginal (and local) decrease in entropy. It is logical that the most efficacious knowledge would accrue the most privilege because otherwise entropy would, or could over time, increase. Knowledge is inscribed in either reality, or discourse. Reality is based in DNA, producing the strategic foundation for survival and development. Discourse provides the tactical foundation.
April 24, 1996 11:28AM
Lacan's dictum that the unconscious is "structured like language". . .(Aronowitz, 1988, p. 311) [This is reversed: language is structured like the unconscious. Sense perception, what we generally refer to as the consciousness, must be combined with unconscious structures, like space/time, cause/effect, number, system, etc., to produce holistic cognition or what we call reality. Discourse then is used to describe reality for the purpose of coordinating action. This occurs only if there is substantial agreement in the discourse from one place, or individual, to the next.]
April 25, 1996 7:30PM
Weakness are projected and strengths are introjected. This is the means whereby the psyche forms itself into an positive, action oriented entity. This also accounts for the making of power that is obtained incidentally into a force incarnate. The introjection of power is the primary obstacle to a systems undertanding of power.
May 6, 1996 9:00AM
When people become efficacious, they consequently assume that what they believe is real, even though this may take decades. They see everything in their own image and imagine that everyone else must see it, too. The more powerful are able to enforce this belief and force their images on others.
May 16, 1996 10:15AM
The systemic advantage of social behavior stems from the individual being an action unit but not a cognitive unit. This results in the benefits of individual action accruing to a collective purpose so that the statistical collective is preserved at the expense of the statistical individual. Sharing an evolutionarily successful cognitive model is more important than any other characteristic in survival of the collecctive and hence the statistical individual. This can easily be tested ex post facto by reviewin how insanity affects individual and collective survival rate, where insanity is not sharing an evolutionarily selected cognitive model.
May 18, 1996 11:39AM
The function of consciousness is social. It enables a flexible but mechanical connection with conspecifics, which are not necessarily human. The purpose of consciousness is strategic and tactical agreement. Notice that this is as important between "enemies" as it is between "friends." In either case, agreement establishes a common vector for action. Not the same action, but action that is either collaborative or conflicting. Without the need for agreement, consciousness would not be needed.
May 20, 1996 1:11PM
What do we know and how do we know it? These are the foundational questions for all of reality. The first is the ontological question: what exists? The second is the epistemological question: what assurance do we have? The process of development of knowledge is a dialectic between these two questions. Historically, the ontological proposition has been made first, this is the realist position. Making the epistemological proposition first is the idealist position. The realist assumes a material world the knowledge of which is problematic. The idealist assumes a symbolic world the materiality of which is problematic.
May 20, 1996 1:46PM
From an empirical perspective the existence of an actual universe can be ignored because it has no observational consequences. However, from a phenomenal perspective it must be considered because explanation of perception requires a cause for an entirely symbolic real world. Since it is not rational that our constructed reality has no relationship to anything absolute, we must deduce the existence of that absolute even if we cannot perceive it. This realm of the phenomenal we can label the ideal world, leaving the realm of the empirical to the real world. Thus, these two worlds are constructed to represent the actual world and knowledge is developed through a dialectic of empiricism and phenomenology, or of the real and ideal. The medium of the real world is consciousness; the medium of the ideal world is discourse.
In the process of developing knowledge, a dialectic between the real and ideal produces an ideal model that represents the real as a system of related elements that functions like the real. Based on this ideal model it is possible to predict events in reality and to fashion ideal models of future real events to be used to direct our expenditure of energy.
The way energy has been directed at the problem of developing knowledge, has resulted in a number of models being created, each to describe a class of empirical observations. Our understanding of this process leads us to predict that a single integrated, comprehensive model would be the most useful but this has been difficult to achieve.
May 26, 1996 2:07PM
The realist says: I have determined via a socially privileged method a construction of reality that any person who intends to exist in that society should accept, rejecting all other constructions. Here is the method and here is the evidence. The idealist says: I have determined a construction of reality based on the evidence that surrounds myself. See if this construction doesn't explain the evidence that you find around yourself.
The realist scheme is authoritarian where responsibility for reality depends on a division of function between those who produce reality and those who use it. The idealist scheme is democratic where responsibility depends on the effort of all to participate in the production of reality. Effect on reality will be relative to the power of each individual.
June 10, 1996 8:23PM
In the early 19th century, St. Louis was a trading center for the individuals who initially charted the interior of North America. However, there was quite a different type of individual for whom St. Louis was itself a source of livelihood and a more or less permanent home. A division of function existed between these two types of individuals: the traders, mountain men, and explorers were significantly different from the entrepreneurs and other civilized people who inhabited the city. This division was a symbiotic one that benefited parties of both interests. Without the city dwellers, the explorers would have had no purpose and could not have constituted a vector destined to conquer a continent. That purpose, manifest in those explorers, represents an essential aspect of human behavior then and now.
Human behavior is characterized by a symbiosis between discovery and justification. This is, for example, a simple definition of science. In understanding the efficacy of this behavior it is important to note the abyss that separates the two functions. Just as it would have been impossible to miss the distinction between the explorer and city dweller upon seeing them together in downtown St. Louis, it is easy to note the difference between those who provide discovery and those who provide justification in probably all aspects of human endeavor.
The division of function here is as marked as if there was a difference in phenotype, and the division is critical to the efficacy of human behavior.
June 16, 1996 12:22PM
Knowledge accumulates and suffers reorganization just as it would if humanity was on an island, having no evidence of an outside world except for what floated past. We know the futility of simply imagining the outside world without evidence, so we grasp at each bit and try to construct its context, linking contexts to form a whole. There is enough of what is important to us in this detritus to insure our survival, but what makes us think that what is important to us is sufficient to construct a complete model? Our perspective is inescapably island-centric and every bit of evidence can be interpreted in no other way. Yet this does not prevent us from constructing complex systemic models of the world, and it is likewise futile to strive for an "objective" position. We need to understand the purpose that knowledge plays in our lives, and the limitations on that knowledge, then endeavor to play with these capacities to live life to the fullest.
June 25, 1996 1:26PM
"The only way to avoid solipsism is pure faith in a preponderance of admittedly fictive evidence in favor of existence. The irrational and unconditional acceptance of this essential being is the seed for a new consciousness."
This is the conclusion I drew from an essay that later became part of my master's thesis. This simple statement does not reflect the psychic agony that sometimes must accompany the process of "acceptance." Not all people go through this process. My theory is that only those people who have a holistic perspective, i.e., all of their knowledge must be integrated, are driven to spiritual means to effect an integration. Others, dualists, unaware of the paradox or abyss that separates the rational from the non-rational, maintain these domains separate and distinct in their psyches. These people do not need faith; they "know." They call their knowledge of the non-rational "faith" but that term really only applies to those who must "trust" knowledge they understand to be fictive.
Awareness of the abyss can manifest itself in various illnesses that are not at all psychic. Where this is the case, the only cure is a bridge over the abyss. I believe this is the creative "construction" project that is necessary to restoration. I also believe that only those who have completed this project will be successful in the healing of others. All other "healers" are simply emulating what they see successful healers doing. The transformed, as contrasted with the educated, healer understands that his own healing was effected by a "higher power" and therefore realizes that source is the means of healing others.
I believe that belief, or trust, or faith, is essential in the actualization of the transcendental source of power. Thus belief and actuality are not an either/or condition. Belief, in the form of absolute trust, frees one from the profane and allows one to participate in the divine. Many religions articulate this in various ways, but we are currently seeking material explanations for the phenomenon. Fortunately, the seeking, or even the finding, can not destroy the possible link between psyche and actuality. That is, unless we insist, as a culture, that such a link cannot exist. In that case the agony of acceptance would certainly, eventually, be horrible.
June 25, 1996 3:05PM
Belief actualizes the transcendental thus providing the link between the real universe and the actual universe. When we believe, we give the fictive power over us, and the results are efficacious because there is some unknowable aspect of the fictive that bears the actual. If there is no belief, the fictive is not connected with the actual and can have no effect. Does the belief "cause" the effect?
July 9, 1996 12:10PM
Behavioral tactics are in three categories: determined, random, and systemic.
These can be illustrated by the attempts of a bee to find its way out of an enclosed space, like a jar. Bees do a lot of business in and out of enclosed spaces and so have routines for spaces they know. Exiting from a known space is a determined action. However, when a bee attempts to free itself from a space that is not known it will pursue random actions. Random activity is in this case more effective than determined activity. Random activity itself is based on assumptions about containers that may be false. In such cases, a tactic that does not seem to be available to the bee is systematic action. The bee is not capable of analysing the entire interior with the purpose of determining its weaknesses to the application of a variety of tools and strategies. Systematic action, as far as I know, is only possible to humans.
July 30, 1996 10:42AM
For the realist, the ultimate objective is to be free from illusion. However, the idealist's objective is to be free to have any illusion. The realists problem is to determine from evidence which illusion is real. The idealists problem is to choose based on evidence a particular illusion to reify.
July 31, 1996 1:02PM
Holism is the unconscious process that transforms a model into an image or a mechanistic image into an organic image. Models are discursive and patently ideal, where images are real. Holism is to be contrasted with atomism, the prerequisite to rationality, which involves the logical relationship of parts. Rationality consciously uses models which ultimately have to be perceived as organic wholes. This final process is here called holism.
August 17, 1996 9:42PM
Science is about agreement. This immediately establishes a distinction between natural and human science. Natural science facilitates the agreement over convergence of theory and observation because we all have the same observations as a result of genetic ability. However, human science involves the interpretation of observation through meaning. Since this interpretation is a matter of experiential conditioning rather than hereditary conditioning, interpretations can only be in agreement as a result of dogma. Thus agreement in human science is discretionary rather than of necessity. This makes it appear that "truths" may be absolute in the natural sciences where they are only relative in the human sciences. The illusion occurs simply because there is no room for differences in interpretation of observations in the natural sciences. Our integrative observation must be that neither of the sciences is absolute, but it is just easier to get agreement in the natural sciences.
September 4, 1996 7:11PM
If there is one quality that characterizes humanity to this point in time it is naivety. The only quality that mitigates naivety is spirituality. Spirituality is the willingness to incorporate into actual reality those features that are only available from intuition and cannot be substantiated by experience. Mankind has been insufferably naive about its own powers. This is of course a natural animal trait. The extent of humanity's naivety, or arrogance, is shown by its refusal to acknowledge its own kinship to the rest of the elements it experiences in reality.
September 30, 1996 2:23PM
With all systems of ideas there is a force towards dissipation and a force toward coherence. These act as two muscles in that the force toward coherence tends to dominate in the movement toward a goal. When the coherence of an ideal system is selectively overridden by the force toward dissipation, the characteristics of that system are allowed to change sufficiently to adjust the system for novel circumstances. This change is not a matter of design to circumstance but of the elements of the system proliferating that correspond to the circumstances.
October 20, 1996 3:28PM
Since Godel, we must understand the process of inquiry as one of dialectic between the antonimic poles of consistency and completeness. The drive for consistency can be found in Kuhn's "normal" science, while the drive for completeness is found in his "revolution."
December 12, 1996 11:55AM
"We shall speak of conversationalists' practices of saying-in-so-many-words-what-we-are-doing as formulating." Garfinkel, H. and Sacks, H. (1970). On formal structures of practical action. In McKinney, J.C. and Tiryakian, E.A. (Eds.). Theoretical sociology, pp.337-366. New York: Appleton -Century-Crofts. Quoted by Yearly, Steven. Interactive-orientation and argumentation in scientific texts. In Law, J. (Ed.). (1986). Power, action and belief: A new sociology of knowledge? London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, p.142.
The bases for cause/effect, space/time, self/other, quantity/quality, etc. are phenotypical and operate at a visceral (as contrasted with rational) level on the fringes of consciousess. We become abstractly conscious of these phenomena as we reflect on them being continually played out in action and discourse. As the abstraction becomes rationally articulated and a distinct part of discourse, we call it a formulation.
December 12, 1996 3:14PM
Distinctions in forms of consciousness are related to distinguishing differences in complexity. For example, we can think of people as being either simple or complex in our mundane perceptions of them as real beings. I believe that my cat is more complex than the cats that associate with other people. This is an emprical judgement. I believe that my cats (I have observed this at different times with different cats) develop more complex consciousnesses than other cats because of the specific way they interact with me, in ways that other cats do not interact with people. I am not alone in this regard. Some other people are more complex, and their cats will seem relatively more complex, if their interaction with people develops this complexity. I conclude therefore that complexity, and distinct forms of consciousness are the result of developmental conditions and this conclusion avoids completely any hint of the mysticism that sometimes accompanies the idea of forms or levels of consciousness.
December 18, 1996 1:03AM
Inquiry to this point in time has been characterized by arrogance. Western civilization especially, but not exclusively, has placed more emphasis on what is supposed to be known, contrasted with what is obviously not known. Education in the future must eschew the emphasis on answers and focus on questions. Higher education must return to questions of philosophy. This proposal still seems incredible because the modern era has still not closed.
Reflexivity is only productive when enough experience has accumulated to render old formulations of what-it-is-we-are-doing disturbingly incomplete. We are beginning to understand that our understandings of reality are necessarily and hopelessly anthropocentric.
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