Quora Answer: Life is totally meaningless. We live. We die. So what’s the point?

Dec 14 2016

We Live! That is the point. You skipped over that going directly to death, oh so quickly. You will get there soon enough. But in the mean time . . .

Life is meaning! for us as human beings we cannot escape our projection of meaning on the world. This is what Dasein is, the projection, the ecstasies in time.

A good book to wrestle with this question is Being and Time by Heidegger and his concept of Existential Time and Authenticity in the face of the inevitability of death.

Having just witnessed someone die, I would say that every moment of life is precious. Way better than the alternative. Especially the mundane parts where nothing particular is happening and you are just enjoying being alive with others. That is an existence proof of meaningfulness of life itself, in-itself, because life is for you and your are always reflexively self-conscious in it, not just conscious. Self-conscious means you are projecting a self who is aware so that consciousness is reflective of your life. It is in fact the other way around. Death is totally meaningless, because in death meaning disappears along with you. There is then no one, no self, to grasp the meaning of life, because you have vanished. Rather you become a memorial in the meanings of others.

But life even of suffering while it is there is in itself meaningful, even if the pain is unbearable and the meaning is “I want to die”, because we are not just in-oneself, as inert matter, but for-oneself as living conscious social matter, as Hegel says striving to be in-and-for-oneself, i.e. Spirit, eg. not just conscious, not just self-conscious, but self=other-conscious=consciousness, i.e. at the third or higher meta-level of consciousness which is perhaps the beginnings of Spirit, i.e. Hyper Being, e.g, Differance of Derrida. Beyond that is Wild Being that is discussed by Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze.

Spirit is the unalienable meaning of life. Just saying that life is meaningless is paradoxically giving it your meaning for you. And that is the point for you as you are living, as you are the existential proof of your meaning by living it.

If you are going to project meaning in life regardless of what you do, you might as well try to make it positive. As Blake says life is essentially joy in the face of suffering. The fundamental joy is being alive despite everything else as that each moment is a success, and accomplishment, a reason to keep living. Everything beyond that is suffering in one way or another as Buddhism says. Dukkha. Maya, Mara, Dunya. But Existence as Life is ecstasy and thus joy. And part of that joy is the projection of meaning even if it is meaninglessness. Something good to read in this regard is Jung’s Red Book where he struggles with the spirit of the depths and the mixture of meaning and meaninglessness in his life in the face of World War I. You think you have it bad. Try World War I trench warfare, or World War II in which millions of people died, and the myriad of ideological wars since then along with genocides. Living a normal life and appreciating it moment to moment is enough. It is something that all those who have died in the last century in ideological conflicts across the globe would have wanted to do but could not because of life cut short by overwhelming violence. Against the background of all that violence and death of millions of people. Life itself has meaning, without anything added by us except for the spirit we bring to it.

Spirit is a criteria that Hegel tries to develop to rein in the excesses of Kantian Reason like the Terror of the French Revolution.

See Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind/Ghost/Spirit (Geist) on the evolution of consciousness (sense certainty) to self-consciousness, to reason, to spirit. For the Buddhist perspective in which all life is suffering see Schopenhauer World as Will and Representation. They gave lectures at the same time in the same university and everyone went to Hegel’s lectures, and Schopenhauer gave up teaching.

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What Special Systems Theory is about . . . Life, Consciousness and the Social

Dec 05 2016

Special Systems Theory is a Mathematical Systems Theory concerning the necessary conditions for the possibility of anomalous phenomena like Life, Consciousness and Sociality which exist but are unexplained inadequately by contemporary scientific theory

The Summary of my research on Special Systems Theory is here:

See https://www.academia.edu/3795281/Special_Systems_Theory

The idea of Special Systems Theory is to set the mathematically necessary conditions for the possibility of life, consciousness and the social, three very special anomalous phenomena. The necessary conditions are set by Mathematics which structure the possibility space in which anomalous emergent processes can occur as we see in Life, Consciousness, and Sociality which we have in ourselves and other life forms existential proof of their existence even though they cannot be explained by standard theories of Science yet. The whole idea of the meta-theory is to set the external limiting conditions that mathematics gives for understanding the phenomena. And those external conditions are in the form of mathematical anomalies that make ultra-efficacious phenomena like Life, Consciousness and Sociality possible. The bridge between the existential proof which we are as living conscious social beings and the mathematical possibility based on anomalous structures in mathematics is the meta-theory Special Systems Theory itself that is part of Systems Science and an addition to General Systems Theories within Systems Science. The relation between Systems and Special Systems are explained by Schemas Theory (http://schematheory.net).

I take mathematical anomalies of different sorts that have basically the same structure and build a meta-theory that has a radically different structure than normal general systems theories. Then within the meta-theory are placed local theories that explain the phenomena of life, consciousness and the social very much along the lines of what Terrance Deacon has envisaged in Incomplete Nature, but he has not mathematics to back up his claims and he leaves out the social layer of emergence and only deals with life and consciousness. He however does the service of re-explaining basic scientific concepts in a way that makes Life and Consciousness plausible rather than the normal explanations that would render these phenomena improbable or impossible.

The concept is to use anomalies in mathematics as the basis for explaining the possible existence of anomalies in the physical world that would give us emergent features like life, consciousness, and the social. The meta-theory specifies the emergent differences between these phenomena and some of their very general properties. Then more specific theories related to each phenomena are substituted into the meta-theory to explain the phenomena in more detail in this case Prigogine’s theory of Dissipative Structures augmented by the Construal Flow theory of Bejan, a modified form of the existential theory of life of Maturana and Varella called Autopoiesis, and Reflexive Sociology to explain the social in more detail. We take the meta-theory as being fixed by mathematical anomalies that are related to each other by their general structure to specify the Special Systems Theory, then we allow the contained theories to be modified to better and better explain the link between the mathematics and the anomalous phenomena in question, be it life, consciousness or the social. The meta-theory explains the interaction between the Special Systems based on the structure of Hyper-complex algebras and other types of mathematics or some anomalous physical theories like the theory of Solitons, Breathers, and Instantatons, or Cooper pairs in super-conductivity or Bose-Einstein condensates. Thus there is a physical component to the theory based on specific physical phenomena that have the same structure as the mathematical anomalies.

Special Systems Theory has been constructed so that it as to be refutable by using different anomalies in mathematics to structure the special systems in order to give a very specific theoretical structure to the explanation offered. Unless we make our systems theories refutable there is no way to make progress. Special Systems Theory is meant to be an example of what a good theory of the phenomena might look like rather than the final answer. A good theory would be based in mathematics and testable, thus refutable.

Special Systems Theory was discovered through an analysis of the imaginary cities of Plato and then relating the anomalous structures of those cities to Anomalies in Mathematics. It was realized that these anomalous structures in mathematics which were all similar could be used to produce a general Systems Theory about these Special Systems. Then it was realized that Special Systems Theory could be used to set the limits of the necessary conditions of the possibility of anomalous phenomena like Life, Consciousness and the Social. The combination of mathematical anomalies and physical anomalies with the same basic structure makes it possible to explain things that normal Systems Theory cannot explain and thus its value in Systems Science and for other special sciences that need to explain anomalous phenomena with similar structures.

A relevant new approach to this same problematic by Jeremy England: A New Physics Theory of Life | Quanta Magazine England Group MIT Department of Physics http://www.englandlab.com/uploads/7/8/0/3/7803054/2013jcpsrep.pdf

Other works on Special Systems Theory:

https://works.bepress.com/kent_palmer/4/ Reflexive Autopoietic Dissipative Special Systems Theory

https://works.bepress.com/kent_palmer/3/ Reflexive Autopoietic Systems Theory

General Schemas Theory Research

For more see

Kent Palmer – Academia.edu


Nondual Science Institute

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System ‘Essence’ balances Features and Capabilities

Oct 26 2016

Definitely we distinguish, or should between systems features and systems capabilities.

In what I said for the Systems Schema there must be something like an essence which I call here the “nucleus”.

The nucleus is about the internal relations within the whole of the System Schema just like the schema itself is about External Relations. Among these Internal Relations are the ones relating features, which are like attributes, to capabilities which are internal infrastructural functionality of the system.

Since Russell rejected Bradley’s Hegelian Internal Relations Analytic Philosophy has only been concerned with External Relations and Internal Relations have been Taboo. And this shows up in the fact that all our modeling with UML/SysML are about binary external relations. The weakness of UML/SysML is the fact that it does not comprehend multi-relations. This causes design descriptions to be overly verbose. But what is completely missing is any notion of Internal Relations.

When you think about it Designs must be a balance of internal and external relations. So half the design representation is missing. This is another blindspot in our thinking, like the forgetting of Mass and over concentration on Sets. Or the ignoring of Meta-system and the over emphasis on Systems. Whenever we find a blindspot in our thinking then we find a resource that is relevant that we are not using. Internal Relations are a resource for thinking about designs of Systems Syntheses. Essentially the Internal Relations is what makes the synthesis and binds it together. All current modeling methods are extensional. We do not even try to produce intensional design representations which would lead to possible worlds approaches. And we have not even conceived of hyper-intensional aproaches. [n.b, https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Transparent_Intensional_Logic]. The design element must have relations with other design elements that are external relations. And other systems which are also external relations. But each of those design elements needs to have internal relations within itself that responds to where it is in the system as a whole and defines the essence of the particular design element. We might argue that this might be approximated by nested patterns (patterns within components within patterns of components) but this is still an external way of looking at essence, attempting to reduce it to external relations which is the Analytic philosophical traditions approach which only concedes that intension is necessary when reduction to extension fails, just like admitting the necessity of hyperintension is only admitted after intensional possible world approaches fail. This is a limit progression which will never reach meaning. On the contrary Husserlian Phenomenology starts with meaning as a first class object and works out from meaning to understand everything else. And at the heart of Phenomenology is essence perception, the idea that essences are fundamentally different from abstractions (general or universal) or ideas (illusory continuities based on infinity). Since we are reinventing the wheel we should at least be aware of the route that Analytical Philosophy has gone before us from extension to intension, to hyper-intension and still not being able to account for meaning. Essences are the meanings of things. Better to start with attempting to understand the meaning of designs and working out from there rather than to start with extensional approaches which will never arrive at meaning as Analytical Philosophy has done.

You will notice that patterns only talk about external relations between pattern components. Pattern components are described but their internal relations are not specified.

Pattern Languages are patterns of forms. We use these patterns of forms to give slices through a system that contains these forms. A system might be structured based on a number of patterns. Patterns are supposed to capture what has worked, what has been invented to solve specific problems in actual systems. A system might encompass a whole set of Pattern Language constructs which have worked previously to solve problems. However, this approach to defining Systems is more or less like Klir’s Architecture of Systems Problem Solving that reduces Form and System to the Structure of Patterns. It is an excellent approach but it does not tell us anything about the essences of the forms (components) of the system, nor anything about the nucleus of the system itself. In other words in a pattern which is a relation among forms, the essence of the form is described but not explained, similarly the system is built up by an aggregation of patterns but the nucleus (essence) of the system is approximated but not explained. We are taking explanation here to be a stronger specification than a description, i.e. an explanation says how something works and perhaps why it works. A description just says what something is on the outside, or superficially in terms of its appearances.

Answering the question what is a principle. Principles are powers of essences. With a principle we say what something must be. It is a command to make it so. But principles are general and have exceptions. Beyond Principles at higher powers of constraint we have Laws. Laws are universal and necessary, like Physical Laws. Design Principles are heuristics about how to use patterns of forms to make systems. They say things like simplify as much as possible. Or always consider performance. Patterns are solutions to problems that have worked well in the past and have been captured by practitioners.

In my previous post I was alluding to the fact that in Chinese there is a concept LI that combines principle and pattern with each other in an interesting way that we do not have in the Western tradition which might be relevant. One of the things that considering LI leads to in the context of Schemas Theory is that we would have to distinguish between form and essence of form with respect to each schema and thus consider the relations between what Hegel would call Internal Relations and what we all know as External Relations. It turns out that in our tradition now Internal Relations is a blindspot. We don’t talk about them and we have no way of representing them. Yet we know that everything has a What, a Kind, specified by its essence. We talk about designs as if they were composed entirely of external relations between components and minimal methods (UML profiles). This suggests that we are not capturing the essence of designs.

Let me suggest that the difference between features of a system and the capabilities of a system are controlled by its nucleus, i.e. its essence at the system schema level. We talk about features and capabilities but we do not talk about what connects them which surely is the essence of the system, its nucleus. Features are like a superstructure built on the infrastructure of capabilities. Work on a system must be split between adding features that the user sees and the capabilities that make those features possible. And both Features and Capabilities may be based on patterns, known solutions to problems that work. But what constrains all features to be based on capabilities is the essence of the system being built. Unless there are capabilities in the infrastructure we will not be able to express features in the superstructure of the application, or system. The set of constraints that makes it necessary for features to be grounded in capabilities are the essence of the system. And that is made up of a set of internal relations that govern the use of external relations among the components of the system (internally) and other systems (externally).

This should give a basis to consider the importance of Internal Relations to Design.

A book that makes these distinctions clear is Harris, Errol E. Formal, Transcendental, and Dialectical Thinking: Logic and Reality. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987


See also Schematic Nerves by Kent Palmer on Thinknet

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Schematic Nerves

Oct 24 2016

What are the “nerves” of a schema?

An inquiry into Structures of Patterns, Essences of Forms, Nuclei of Systems, and Nexuses of Meta-systems.


There is a concept in Chinese called LI. 理 Li (Neo-Confucianism) | Wikiwand

This term means both principle and pattern. The example of pattern is the exact configuration of content on the surface of a jade stone.

Notice how the content of the stone has various colors which have particular qualities that appear as dark and light veins in the substance of the jade. This is Li as specific concrete pattern. The patterns are always unique.

Li also means Principle in which case it means how the unique patterns are generated. In other words, before the pattern appears there are constraints on what sort of pattern could possibly appear in the circumstances. You will notice that the pattern that does appear could have been slightly different in many ways but overall given the circumstances in the jade formation certain types of pattern are probable and among those one gets actualized.

Patterns that do appear take time to manifest, but the Principle of generation is there prior to the actual pattern appearing and the principle is embodied by the pattern that does appear. In different circumstances different types of LI apply, and thus there are myriad Li for every type of possible pattern.

The actual development of the pattern Li based on the principle Li is brought about by Chi which is the subtle energy by which the content is moved to its final configuration through the process of development. For instance, the growth of the living tree that produces the rings in a tree due to growth patterns in different seasons over the years.

We mostly understand these ideas based on Complexity Theory and Chaos Theory, as well Dynamics of various kinds. But our view tends to be abstracted from the concreteness of the patterns and principles at work in the Chinese perspective. To us Principle and Pattern are different things. But the Chinese saw them as two aspects of the same thing.

However, it seems to me that it is useful to think of Principles as generators of instances of schemas. Principles are always concepts for us which are abstracted from particular situations given a specific perspective. But concepts are understood in terms of exemplars and prototypes as well as abstractions. Thus we can think of the principles as being concepts, abstracted from a situation given a particular perspective in a specific domain that generate exemplars and prototypes that have in their concrete realization specific patterns of content. Content is monadic, i.e. bundles of qualia in concrete configurations. Those configurations are the patterns which are myriad and specific to the circumstance of their realization. But this content tends to be seen as something that fills the form, and thus gives a pattern of content that is exposed on the surface of the form.

Amazing Wood Bowls from the North Shore of Lake Superior

The form is the overall shape of the thing, for instance a bowl made of a burl of wood. The content is determined by the substance, in this case burl maple wood that goes all the way through the bowl, but the content is exposed on the surface of the bowl to give patterns determined by the grain of the wood which exhibits the growth and force patterns that played out in the development of the tree to produce the burl that gives us its unique pattern of content. In this case the cellulose wood cells are the monads, that make up the content of the form, and produce a pattern on the surface of the form of the bowl.

Li is the specific pattern in this case that is the frozen result of the dynamics of Chi that produced the pattern during the growth of the tree.

But the underlying principle LI is what is behind the growth of the Burl on trees that produced that specific pattern.

The difference between Schemas and the Chinese concept is the level of abstraction. Schemas cover all instances of a particular dimensional configuration. There is just one pattern schema that can be either one or two dimensions. And that fits into a Form schema which is of two or three dimensions. Everything which is one or two dimensions can be seen as a pattern and everything that is two or three dimensions can be seen as a form. We see two dimensional pattern and form together in a watercolor painting for instance.

tree-watercolor-painting – Fine Art Blogger

The difference between Schemas and the Chinese concept of Li is that Pattern schemas are universals within specific dimensions covering all things within spacetime in that dimension as either one schema or another in a given dimension. Schemas are holonic in that they face two different schemas and they relate part to whole. They are templates of Understanding of spacetime configurations that are immediately intelligible. We look at the painting and we immediately see the patterning of colors within the outlines of the form of the branches. Every bit of color soaked into a particular spot on the paper are monadic qualia content, in the case of water color seen as mass effects.

Schemas are phenomenological in the sense that as you look out on the world — the schemas are the things you naturally see if you are brought up within the auspices of the Western worldview. Whether they are more general beyond our culture is an open question. But within our cultural tradition within the West they are well defined philosophically and historically within our tradition of aesthetic connoisseurship and artisan-ship.

See SchemaTheory.net

Once we realize that within our tradition there are a series of schemas … monad, pattern, form, system, … that nest and between which there are no gaps and are thus are well defined phenomenologically in practice, then it is possible to see what the term Software Pattern means, which is a pattern of forms. In other words, we can read the hierarchy of schemas in two directions. Normally we consider a pattern of monads as we have been considering. But we can also read the series in the other direction as Alexander did who created the Pattern Language in the context of his Timeless way of Building that produces a quality with no name. The quality with no name is what you are aiming for in each case if you are to build something aesthetically pleasing as a living environment for human beings. Engineers are inherently crippled in this respect as they have no idea at all concerning the quality with no name. The best they can do is sense smells. But that of course is merely a way to talk indirectly about Li. Primordial natural pattern generation by humans that give configurations that fit human beings in all possible ways as living environments that are not just aesthetically pleasing but brings the best out of the experience of life in terms of affordances within the lifeworld. Patterns Languages concern the patterns of forms that produce the quality with no name at various scales based on some amorphous undefined principles rooted in our inherent knowledge of human dwelling. [Living Spaces] Alexander specifically told the software community that their use of his idea of ‘Pattern Languages’ did not capture its essence and were not what he was talking about in his books. But this reduction from what Alexander was indicating that goes beyond words to Software Pattern languages ends up being their reduction to patterns of forms which capture configurations of forms that turn up often and seem to work well in Architectural Design of Software Systems.

But what this alerts us to is the fact that we can have monads of patterns, and forms of systems, as well as patterns of forms. The reversal of the normal series of the schemas and their pairing lead to new ways of looking at things as Alexander discovered. The monad of the pattern is very much like the Chinese concept of Li. It is an irreducible pattern generator that is unique in terms of organization and quality [Grenander, Ulf, and Michael I. Miller. Pattern Theory: From Representation to Inference. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.]. The form of a system is more or less the kind of a system. That is to say one particular systemic configuration that is different from other systemic configurations. We might think of them as something along the lines of Isomorphies in Len Troncale’s sense.

Forms have essences traditionally. The essence is the constraints on the attributes of the form. Attributes are parameters that characterize the content of the form. The equivalent of the essence of forms at the pattern level could be called the Li, i.e. the principle by which the pattern is generated. In the West we do not have a general term for it. But instead we use the term “structure” which is static rather than dynamic. We consider the structure of a pattern the underlying rules or algorithm that constrains the generated pattern. Example is Mendeleev’s periodic table of elements.

Within our tradition generally we can say Essences are to Forms what Structures are to Patterns of content, i.e. Monads.

At this point we get to Hegel’s fundamental critique of Formalism in Kant, which is that if forms do not comprehend their contents then the contents are in themselves, but if forms comprehend their contents then the contents are for the other. i.e. the form. And forms cannot be for themselves unless the others are for them. Self-knowledge only comes through the mediation of the other. This critique was the beginning of taking seriously the need for structuralism within our tradition. If forms do not care about their contents and are blind to them then they lack understanding of their content and therefore they are not truly forms but some degenerate type of comprehension that exemplifies ignorance of what is contained in the form. Basically, Hegel was saying that for form to be for itself it needs to comprehend the structure of the content within it. Everything needs take into account for self, for other, in self and in other for full comprehension that can call itself self-conscious knowledge. If content is in itself, but not for form, and form is in itself and not for content, then this is not real knowledge. Only if the content is for the other of form, and the form is for the other of content, only then can content be through its structure for itself, and form through its essence be for itself. In other words the essence of form mediates the structure of content and the structure of contents mediates the essence of form to each other. That is self-conscious knowledge as opposed to mere consciousness. Only completely self-conscious knowledge can be fully rational.

The same is true for Systems and Forms. We don’t have a term for the equivalent of the essence of a system or the structure of a pattern. But in physics the inner structure of the atom composed of different fundamental particles which is stable is called the nucleus, so we could use that term for the core of the system. This is of course an analogy. Systems are gestalts, i.e. backgrounds on which forms appear, that background can be conceived as the boundary of the system, that contains several forms within it that each can be figures on the ground of the system for our inspection. The dual of the System is the Meta-system, i.e. what lies beyond the boundary to the horizon of the environment. Systems also have a dual which is the process with its meta-process. The duality of system and process is constrained by the nucleus of the system/process. Once we have a name corresponding to essence (form) or structure (pattern) in this case “nucleus” of the system/process as well as the meta-system/meta-process then it is possible to apply Hegel’s criteria to the relation of forms to system.

Nucleus is to the System what Essence is to Form and Structure is to Pattern.

Therefore, forms within a system can be in themselves, for themselves, for others, or in others and the same thing is true of the system.

If a system does not comprehend its forms then the forms are in themselves, and the system is in itself. This state is called extension or what reigns is pure substitutability. But that means that the forms are blind to the system and the system is blind to the forms it contains. But this is a degenerate condition which lacks complete knowledge of both the forms and the system. Forms need to be understood by the system that contains them, just as systems need to comprehend the systems that contain them. Thus, the forms of the system need to be for the other (system), and the system also needs to be for the other (forms). And they do this through the essence and the nucleus. The nucleus of the system needs to comprehend the essences of the forms within them, and the essences of the form need to comprehend the nucleus of the system that contains them. If both sides do this then they are both for themselves by being for others. I.e. the System that has a nucleus that comprehends the essences of the forms in contains is for itself, i.e. self-conscious at the system level. And on the other hand, the Form needs to have an essence that comprehends the nucleus of the system that contains it in order to be for itself, i.e. self-conscious at the form level.

Notice that essence of form is a holon because it needs to comprehend the structure of its content looking down and the nucleus of its system, if it is in a system, looking up in the hierarchy of schematic containment. And it is this holonic nature of the essence that makes them like concrete universals, i.e. exhibiting internal relations between the contents it contains and the system that contains it as mediated by form through this essence.

With regard to the System level, which is a whole, then we get the internal relations between the parts of the system which is the way that the nucleus of the system manifests. Internal relations appear as negative information within the closure of the system.

But wholeness is not specific just to the System Schema as Hegel thought. Wholeness applies to every schema with regard to its closure and therefore negative information can appear at any schematic level, not just the system level as Hegel thought.

When we say that an essence is a constraint on attributes of a form, that constraint is negative information, i.e. a counterfactual. Similarly, when we talk about structure as a constraint on the characteristics of a pattern, that constraint is negative information, i.e. also a counterfactual. The same is true of the nucleus of the system that constraints the features of a system, the constraint is negative information and thus counterfactual. Counterfactuals appear at the level of hyper-intensional logics.

Essences to a certain extent are intensional in as much as they are like templates with slots for attributes that have variation, in which different elements that mean the same thing can be substituted, for instance red and green are both colors. Based on these intentional attributes and their substitutions we generate possible worlds. And thus possible worlds theory is the outgrowth of the problem of intensionality, i.e. that extensional substitution does not explain everything.

Counterfactuals are things that are not the case. We can define impossible worlds at the hyperintensional level that are totally based on counterfacturals. Worlds are schemas so in general there are counterfactual impossible schemas that need to be defined hyperintensionally. Belief is one of those hyperintensions. In hyperintensions we are substituting noesis rather than equivalent noema and thus getting differences.

[Transparent Intensional Logic | Wikiwand]

[Counterfactual Reasoning]

[The Age of Hyperintensionality]

Once we have seen that we need a concept related to a system that is equivalent but different from essence, i.e. unique to the emergent level of the system because it deals with features not attributes, that is to say the idea of the NUCLEUS of the System. Then we can recast the whole question in terms of these various types of schematic “essences” by asking what is the relation of structures of patterns, to essences of form, to nuclei of systems. The best example of a formal structural system that contains all these three schematic levels is Architecture of Systems Problem Solving by George Klir.

Klir bases his theory at the level of pattern and talks about configurations of variables, and he uses these configurations of variables to describe the level of forms and system. Thus in a sense he reduces form and system to pattern, the lowest common denominator. This makes his Systems Theory primarily structural. What if we don’t want to do this reduction but instead want each schematic level to stand by itself as well as to interrelate with the others in a nested fashion. Then we would have to complicate the picture given by Klir by introducing essences and nuclei of the system. Klir more of less assumes that variables can stand for any of these levels which is true but still this is a reductionistic account.

Structures organize all the possible characteristics within patterns. Essences organize all the possible combinations of attributes within forms. Nuclei organize all possible features of Systems. But organizing the characteristics, Structures allow all possible patterns of a certain sort to be generated. By organizing the attributes, Essences allow all possible forms to be generated. By organizing the features, nuclei allow all possible systems of a specific type to be generated.

This pretty well means that Principle, in the sense of Li can be thought of as the meta-structure of structure. And by analogy there may be a set of principles related to forms, that are quintessences, or meta-essences. And also there may be principles that are meta-nuclei of systems. These second order structures, essences or nuclei only have a name with respect to form which is quintessence, that is traditionally related to ether as opposed to the four normal Greek elements of earth, air, fire, water. In other words, it is though as a sublimation. Essentially these are meta-constraints on constraints which are rules that constrain rules that constrain characteristics, attributes or features. This sublimation at the higher degree of the structure, essence or feature has the right to be called a principle in all cases. Interestingly there is no general term for what is called here structure, essence and nucleus. But we can call them a “Nerve”. [Nerve (category theory) | Wikiwand] So a principle governs a nerve which in turn governs the wholeness of the schema. This essentially gives us then the equivalent of the Chinese Li in our Western thought structures except for the fact that the Chinese work up from the concrete case to the abstraction rather than starting from the abstraction and working down.

Notice that these powers of the sublimation could go up several levels. These specifically are articulated in the design field in my second dissertation. See General Schemas Theory Research. There is essentially a Cartesian cross of the Philosophical Principles and the Meta-levels of Being. But we can simplify this with regard to nerves by marking the level of their powers: Nerve^p. A lot of times in Science the Nerve^3 level are called Laws, as in laws of nature. Laws are necessary, and in this sense the constraints are constrained by necessity.

Our point here is that All schemas have nerves, and that the nerves have powers. Nerve^1 is the nerve itself which organizes the content of the schema giving it structure, essence or a nucleus in the cases of pattern, form, and system. Nerve^2 are nerve related constraints of constraints called principles, and Nerve^3 are constraints on constraints of constraints called Laws. All schemas have the equivalent of nerves, and the meta-levels of constraints up to the definition of contingency and necessity. A good source for this kind of model is Monod Chance and Necessity. Monod constricts a teleonomic system by interleaving layers of constraint and necessity which is how he thinks evolution works. But between contingency and necessity there is also conditionality which means that things are not random nor determined but conditional based on circumstances.

So let us extend this idea to the level of Meta-system (OpenScape). This schema is what exists from the boundary of the system to the horizon in the landscape in which the system exists. It is detotalized and disunified and a general economy rather than a restricted economy in the sense of Bataille. It is based on compementarities and is formally defined by the Universal Turing machine as opposed to the normal Turing machine. It can be described by rules just like the system, but the rules have to do with the allotment of resources and signaling using protocols between systems within the meta-system and also to the meta-system by the contained systems. Meta-systems a lot resources to Systems within their arena. Meta-systems are composed of source, horizon origin and arena. Systems and anti-systems appear from sources within the arena at origin points and they move through and interact with each other and their environment within the arena until they exit through anti-origins (sinks) and return to the source. Object Oriented programming systems are an example. The source is the object template. This object template gets instantiated and then is executed interacting with other objects within the system, until the various instances are killed off. The objects interact by calling each others methods with parameters which then allow the objects to change their state of internal data based on the interactions and call other objects. All the objects in the same application together are called a system. Our question is what is the nerve of the meta-system or open-scape. There is no name for it. In general meta-systems are invisible to us within our tradition. The only way we can see them is producing the inverse dual of the system realizing that the system is not self-dual. What is the non-self-dual dual of the System. We call it the Meta-system or OpenScape.

But the Meta-system schema’s nerve has no name, but we can call the nerve of this schema a “NEXUS” in the Meta-system or OpenScape. This is because the nexus of a meta-system is normally a constraint on complementary opposites that characterize the field of the arena within the meta-system. We will call what the nexus controls by its constraints field properties. In meta-systems these field properties are complementary like between electricity and magnetism. Once we have the name of the nexus that constrains the field properties then we can consider the relation of the meta-system to the systems that it contains in terms of Hegel’s critique. If the systems are in themselves and not for the other then we are merely conscious but not self-conscious of them. Thus we need to make the systems for the other of the meta-system and the meta-system for the other of the system. And if they are for each other then the system and the meta-system are for themselves rather than just in themselves. You can only be for yourself through the other, being either the contained or the container.

This plays out in an interesting way in relation to the system and meta-systems because either may be either emergent or de-emergent. Emergent Systems are wholes greater than the sum of their parts and they overflow supervenience, isomorphic relations between superstructure and base. De-emergent systems are taken apart by analysis and thus do not have their emergent properties that they would have if properly assembled. This is like the difference between a car taken apart or put together by the mechanic. But interestingly usually the meta-system is considered de-emergent, in other words it is the field or proto-gestalt within which the parts are arranged in relation to each other when taken apart, i.e. the floor of the garage on which the parts are strewn. To the mechanic this is a field in which the parts have dispositions to go back together to make the car work. To an ordinary person they are just junk thrown out on the floor with no implications with respect to each other. But there is a possibility of an Emergent Meta-system, i.e. a meta-systemic field with its own emergent properties. And this is produced by a combination of the special systems (that appear in the interstice between system and meta-system) along with the normal system which gives an Emergent Meta-system. We can characterize the difference between emergence and de-emergence in terms of the realization of inner relations between parts. Thus we can characterize the difference between in itself and for itself of Hegel, along with for others and in others as the means to distinguish emergence from de-emergence, or what we have known up till now as the blindness to content or the blindness of the content. So when the systems are in themselves and the meta-system is in itself then it is merely supervenitent. But if the system contents become for the other of the meta-system, and the meta-system becomes for the other of the system, then they escape supervenience. The system then becomes a whole greater than the sum of its parts, and the addition is what the system knows about its contents beyond the mere containment of them. We can use the term “knows” because the schemas are templates of intelligibility of spacetime configurations. Schemas are a kind of knowledge of things organized in spacetime. In other words the system schema, it knows and responds to the essence of its forms. And the same thing can be said of the meta-system except it is always a whole less than the sum of its parts. That means that what it knows of and responds to the nucleus of its constituent systems that is always less than the sum of its parts. But if the meta-system is emergent then it knows more despite having holes in the meta-system, i.e. niches for systems, and this appears as its own counter organization that complements the system. Now special systems are supervenient. And that means they have a special knowledge that balances for itself and for others, with in itself and in others, and this is called in-and-for-itself. Special Systems are in and for themselves. This makes them examples of Concrete Universals or in another terminology Holons.

See . . .

http://archonic.net/rastnopY.pdf https://www.academia.edu/3795281/Special_Systems_Theory

In general we can say that it is important to identify the equivalent of the “essence of the form” for all the schemas. We have identified these as the ‘structure of the pattern’, the ‘nucleus of the system’, and the ‘nexus of the meta-system’. And once we have these various nerves defined then we have the ability to think about the knowledge that each of them has about the other, in other words does the contained know about the container and does the container know about the contained in each case. They know about each other by their response to the nerve of each. And these nerves can reach deep through their various levels of sublimation.

Patterns know about the content of its monads via the nerve of the monads that it contains.

Form knows about the content of its patterns of monads via the structure of the patterns of the monads.

System knows about the content of its forms of patterns via the essence of the forms of the patterned monads.

Meta-system knows about the content of its systems of its forms via nuclei of the systems of and the essences of the forms and the structures of the patterns of monads it contains.

Likewise Pattern knows about its form container through understanding and responding to the essence of the form that contains it.

Form knows about its system container through understanding and responding to the nucleus of the system that contains it.

System knows about its meta-system container through understanding and responding to the nexus of the meta-system that contains it.

Meta-system knows about its Domain container through understanding and responding to the nerve of the Domain that contains it.

In each case the relation between the nerves of the schemas make explicit the implicit internal relations between the elements at each schematic level to the other schematic level. These internal relations appear as negative information at each level within the whole of the schema. In this way we address the criticism of Kant and all purely formal systems by Hegel. Every schema has an internal set of constraints that govern its functioning. These internal constraints may function at different levels of sublimation. As we go up these levels they become less correlations and more like causes, less like principles and more like laws. Therefore, when we ask what is a principle or what is a pattern there is a wider framework given by Schemas Theory in which these questions can be answered. We do not just have to answer these questions a vacuum where principle and pattern stand in opposition to each other without considering anything else. Rather, it is much better to consider this question in a context where it can have an answer that is not arbitrary or just conventional. We live in a philosophical and scientific community that tends to be purely formal since B. Russell attempted to kill the idea of Bradley of Internal Relations taken from Hegel. But Hegel’s critique still stands as valid in relation to all kinds of formalists. But how does this apply when we recognize more types of schemas than merely form? We have to identify the nerve of every schema. We have identified nerves for Pattern (Structure), Form (Essence), System (Nucleus) and Meta-system (Nexus). Then we see that the understanding of one schema in relation to another means to come to terms with its nerve, i.e. to recognize it and respond to it coming to know it. Unless you understand the structure generating the patterns then you will never be able to account for it as a container form. And pattern unless it understands the essence of the form will never be able to respond to it properly within its context. So the connection of nerves of each schema to each other is their proper knowledge of the other, and it is only through knowledge of the other that it can have complete knowledge of itself. So basically a given schema is only in itself unless it comprehends and reacts to the nerves of its adjacent schemas, both those it contains and those it is contained by, its containers. But this is the same as having internal relations at each schematic level where each level is treated as a whole itself that is only really known through the other adjacent levels but not purely on its own as a formalism of a given schematic level.



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Systems and OpenScapes (Meta-systems)

Oct 13 2016

Let me clarify the difference between a System and its inverse dual the Meta-system or Openscape.

Originally I had this idea when I read an article in the International Systems Science Journal of George Klir where he published my article on Design Methods. In that same issue one of George Klir’s students had undertaken a Category Theory analysis of Architecture of Systems Problem Solving. At that time all I knew of Category Theory was that if you revered the arrows then you get the dual of a given category. So I tried going through the thought process of reversing the arrows in the Categorical Description and I discovered that it was not self-dual. And that meant that there had to be some dual of the Formal Structural System as Klir defined it. I started searching for that dual.

Eventually I came upon the work of Bataille Accursed Share that distinguished a General Economy from Restricted Economies and the work of Plotnitsky in Complementarities where he talks about the relation of the General Economy to the work of Bohr and Derrida. This distinction between General and Restricted Economy is foundational to much of Continental Thought such as that of Baudrillard who wrote Critique of the Economy of the Sign for instance. But also the work of Derrida, Deleuze, Zizek etc.

But what I wanted to do was formalize the duality. Eventually I discovered that the formalization was the difference between the Universal Turing Machine and the Normal Turing Machine.

The difference is between what is inside the boundary of the system and what is outside the boundary of the system, how ever that boundary is drawn. This is assuming that a system boundary is a gestalt and thus what is outside that boundary is a proto-gestalt.

The key point is that systems and meta-systems have completely different organizations from each other. Their essences are completely different. Yet they are inverse duals of each other.

Thus in a meta-system you get the making available of resources in niches that hold systems. You get protocols enforced by which systems signal each other and also signal the meta-system.

Unlike other Schemas (SchemaTheory.net) metasystems do not have a single name in our culture. We have a blindspot toward metasystems in our culture. Thus we call it context, situation, environment, ecosystem, medium, etc. And generally it is the non-system. In my usage of the many meanings of “meta” the meaning meant here is “beyond” the meta-system is beyond the system. That means outside its boundary to the horizon. Eventually I found that the concept of Scape corresponds to the Meta-system as I conceived it as the inverse dual of the system. Inverse means reverse the arrows. Dual means that it is not self-dual but is different from the system, in the way a co-algebra is different from an algebra. But in our language Scape is always accompanied by another term like landscape, or seascape or mindscape, so in order to make it general I called the Meta-system an OpenScape. It is everything from the boundary of the system to the horizon of the landscape in which the system exists in a panormama around the system in all directions.

Meta-systems are completely different from Systems of Systems. A SoS is merely a reiteration of the system schema at a higher level of organization. Thus we have Supersystems, Systems, SubSystems. And interleaved between these is the meta-systems for each system, i.e. the environment within the Supersystem in which the system lives. Some definitions of SoS include features like meta-systems, but there is not a clear conceptualization of the difference between Meta-system in my sense and Supersystems in the sense that SoS is normally taken.

Normally, the mistake we make is to think that what ever is outside the boundary of the system is a homogeneous plenum and has no structure. Rather what ever the system needs within its niche to function which are fed to it as standing reserves of resources, and also what maintains multiple systems together and allows them to interact is the Meta-system of a given system at a given level of abstraction or construction.

A key point if you are looking for the System and Non-system in other cultures is the fact that Being only exists in Indo-european languages. Other languages have various existential but no Being. So we assume that Being is universal but it is not, rather it is an anomaly. The word system goes back to the greek. Kant was the one who said that we needed it as a hypothesis to do science. So it is Kant who raised System as a concept to the level we assign it today. However, in the Western tradition it is Form that is the central schema historically. Recently the pattern or structure schema has also become important as a way to view nature as we seen in Mendeleev’s table and the table of quarks. So there are at least three schemas that are very significant for us today, which are combined by Klir as Formal Structural Systems.

To get to the schemas all one needs to do is ask what is the next higher level of abstraction higher than the system. This would be the level that would contain all the non-systems. The point is that there are many non-systems not just one. Non-systems are all the other schemas that have been developed in our tradition. My Sprime hypothesis maintains that there are ten of them: Facet, Monad, Pattern, Form, System, Meta-system, Domain, World, Kosmos, Pluriverse. And there is a rule that says that there is two schemas per dimension and two dimensions per schema. This rule connects the schemas to a central concept in mathematics. Lately I have found the mathematical foundation of schemas in Pascal’s Triangle what Leibniz called Analysis Situs.

Thus I propose that beyond Systems Science and Systems Engineering there is a wider realm called Schemas Science and Schemas Engineering. And the fact that we do not recognize that puts blinders on us because in practice we are using all these schemas which have been developed in our tradition. A good place to see lots of these schemas called out is Philosophical Grammar by Wittgenstein. The definition of schema as I use it is given in Kant and the Platypus by Umberto Eco where they are called Mathematical and Geometrical Schemas.

Schemas as I use the term are a priori ontological structures projected on Spacetime. They are not ontic structures such as quarks, fundamental particles, atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, social groups, ecologies, gaia. Rather they are templates of understanding that give intelligiblity to organizations of entities that we just naturally project on our experience and see in nature.

So connecting these schemas to the idea of non-system the hypothesis is that there are many different types of non-system. But only one of these types is the Categorical Dual of the system, and that is the OpenScape called Meta-system in this case.

Just like Being is not universal, there is no evidence that Schemas are universal beyond the Western Worldview. Other cultures probably have other schematizations. This is an open area for anthropological research. Chinese for instance does not have a traditional word for System according to an informant who I talked to recently. This means that seeing everything in terms of systems is a form of European ethnocentrism.

But in order to understand schemas and their application to System Architectural Design we need other important terms as well such as the Philosophical Principles of C.S. Peirce and B. Fuller. The Foundaitonal Mathematical Categories, and the View/Order Epistemological Hierarchies. In other words, Schemas are not enough to understand in a fundamental way the nature of Design Synthesis. They are merely the content, i.e. the material of the Design. All Designs make use of the Schemas for the artificial content of the Design Synthesis. And this is why they are important. When we design we do not just design Systems, we design Forms, and Patterns our of Monads with facets in the context of Domains, Worlds and the Kosmos in which we live.

The other important thing about Schemas is that they are higher dimensional. This means that our designs are higher dimensional conceptualizations. Schemas are a natural way for us to organize higher dimensional elements and think about them. What ever is beyond the ninth dimension is unschematized, for instance string theory that exists in the tenth dimension. We cannot understand string theory directly and in a natural way, it is not immediately intelligible to us because we have no schemas to apply to it. We only have the mathematics that describes it.

It is said that short term memory is 7+/-2 elements. But we say independent elements. And that means we can hold in our short term memory up to nine dimensional conceptual structures that we understand directly through schematization. The fact that Design deals with higher dimensional object configurations shows why it is so difficult. But also why Flat Binary relations between entities such as we get in UML/SysML is inadequate for capturing designs. We at least need multi-way relations in order to even come close to capturing designs in ways that are coherent with our schematization of higher dimensional configurations of design entities.

This is some of the key points in Schemas Theory. For more information see the tutorial or some of the papers I have written over the years about it.

Let me end by saying that Schemas Theory was invented in order to understand the nature of the Special Systems that exist only between the System and the Meta-system. If you do not have a clear idea of the duality of system and meta-system then the special systems are invisible. The special systems are a holonomic theory of what exists in the niche in the meta-system between it and the system. There are special structures that are mathematically defined that have ultra-efficacy that exist between the system and the meta-system.

See Special Systems Theory

Part of Schemas Theory is the suggestion that Systems Science should become Mathematically based and that it should adopt Category Theory as its fundamental language as Kenneth Lloyd has also suggested. The whole key to Schemas Theory and Special Systems Theory is its connection to mathematics, and following where the mathematics leads, which is many times counterintuitive. Category Theory tells us that every category has a dual if we reverse the arrows, and sometimes those inversions of arrows lead to structures we do not expect, as when Algebra gave rise to Co-Algebra. Similarly, System give rise to its non-self-dual Co-system, which is the Meta-system or OpenScape.

We have a Western Philosophical and Scientific Tradition that over time have developed many different schemas by which things in the world can be understood. Why would we not make use of all of these Schemas, why would we limit ourselves to the System Schema and ignore all the others given to us in our rich tradition. Systems Science deserves to exist because this schema has been underrepresented in Academia. There are very few departments of Systems Science in universities. But this does not mean we should ignore all the other schemas, especially when from a pragmatic point of view we are constantly dealing with them in our practice. When we build complex artifacts we deal with all the schemas. And the reason is that they help us to comprehend higher dimensional organizations of things in configuration. Without them we could not design very complex artifacts.

Also the problem we have with defining what a system is stems from the fact that we do not know what the other schemas are, and once we know what the other schemas are that delimits the essence of the system. The constant reiteration of the problem of the definition of the system is a symptom of our ignorance of the greater context of the other schemas, of the many non-systems that exist but we are ignoring to our own peril.

For instance, As I said in an article long ago. When the terrorists attack our infrastructure they are attacking our meta-systems. Since we have no theory of meta-systems we are blind to those attacks. If nothing else we need to develop a theory of meta-systems to counter the existential threat of terrorism. And once we admit that there are other schemas besides systems, and that they all have interesting complementary relations to each other at the next higher theoretical level that Schemas Theory represents then suddenly a new horizon opens up which allows us to see that what we thought was Systems Engineering is really Schemas Engineering, which uses all the Schemas to design artifacts of high complexity that offer us new affordances in our lifeworld, thus transforming our world in ways that we would not have imagined possible not long ago. As long as we do not recognize schemas we are blind to the transformations that are overtaking us and that we are participating in creating. We basically have no foundation for our practice without schemas theory.

I talk about this relation of schemas theory to practice in detail in my dissertation on Emergent Design (General Schemas Theory Research).

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Why Is Zizek worth Reading?

Apr 27 2016

We have a reading group here in Southern California on Zizek and other Continental Philosophers and Film. See http://virtalmind.net We have been reading Sublime Object of Ideology. It is extremely useful to read philosophy with others rather than alone because of the ability to share insights and to help each other avoid falling into strange interpretations of the text.

Here I will say something about why Zizek is worth reading.

This question has been answered by others at Is Slavoj Zizek worth paying attention to?

My own take on whether Zizek is worth reading has to do with my over all theory of the crux of Continental Philosophy which is that it is an exploration of the Meta-levels of Being. There are five meta-levels of Being called Pure, Process, Hyper, Wild and Ultra by me. Pure and Process Being are the present-at-hand and ready-to-hand in Heidegger’s Being and Time.

Heidegger then discovered Hyper Being later which he called Being crossed out. Lacan started using this crossing out of the Subject and Other soon after the book was published of Heidegger’s that brought up the idea. Lacan was at ENS where Derrida was teaching, and Derrida came up with Differance (differing and deferring) as a way to talk about Hyper Being perhaps under Lacan’s influence but certainly under Heidegger’s influence. Merleau-Ponty rewrote Being and Time as the Phenomenology of Perception and seems to have independently discovered Hyper Being as the expansion of being-in-the-world toward the end of that book with the examples of the Musician and the Blindman who incorporate something from the environment into themselves which becomes part of them, part of their being-in-the-world (Dasein). Then in The Visible and the Invisible he defines Hyper Being as the Hyper dialectic between Sartre’s Nothingness and Heidegger’s concept of Being in Being and Time. Thus the name Hyper Being which he differentiates from Wild Being which is the contraction of being-in-the-world and the dual of Hyper Being. Thus we have four different kinds of Being, or meta-levels of Being prior to the fifth meta-level where there is a phase transition to Existence.

However, Existence appears as one of two nonduals, either Emptiness of Buddhism or Void of Taoism. Thus there are two nondual interpretations of Existence, i.e. Dual Nonduals. And what keeps them apart, what is the mark of the difference between these nondual interpretations of existence. It is a kind of Being called Ultra Being, Being as Singularity as seen as an externality in existence not seen from within the singularity of Being. Being only exists in Indo-European languages so it is an anomalous singularity within the languages of the world. And what I realized is that Zizek and Badiou are in different ways exploring Ultra Being seen as the Lacanian Structural and Semiotic Unconscious. Badiou is trying to approach it in terms of the arising of the ultra-one as an event from the Multiple that gives content to Set Theory seen as the realm of Ontology, which is wrong but interesting none the less. Zizek is much more interesting because he sees the Lacanian Unconscious as driving Ideology within the Big Other, i.e. the Das Mann (They) of Heidegger. Lacan sees both the Subject and the Other as crossed out, i.e. in terms of Hyper Being. But neither he nor Derrida seem to recognize Wild Being. It is Deleuze that recognizes Wild Being and tries to build a philosophy at that level. For Deleuze Ultra Being shows up as schizophrenia, i.e. madness. Which brings up the debate between Derrida and Foucault on the relation between madness and reason in Descartes which is an interesting problematic.

When ever Zizek talks about the Impossible in his books like SOI for instance then that is when he is talking about Ultra Being. This is in fact the cutting edge of the Continental Tradition as it is unfolding at the moment. Existentialists were interested in the unconscious and its connection to philosophy. Now Zizek and Badiou are Lacanian Analysts and they are applying Lacanian theory to all kinds of things attempting to understand them in terms of the action of Ultra Being on the other kinds of Being which are not impossible by necessity. Ultra Being warps the other kinds of Being and thus the Worldview, and Zizek calls these paradoxical or absurd warpages he jokes about Ideology.

Zizek is worth reading because he is bringing this understanding of Ultra Being to the rest of the world through his interesting interpretations of Films, Literature, Media, Politics and Philosophy and through the fusion of Lacan with Hegel and vice versa. Basically he is popularizing what Continental Philosophy has found out about the nature of the worldview. This is encapsulated in his talking about the Paradoxes of Zeno being descriptions of the field of Desire. Lacan brought the question of Desire back into Philosophy which has been exiled since Eros was a major issue in Plato’s philosophy. Basically all the things that have been excluded by Philosophy are included back in like children, women, evil, crime, nature beyond being seen as natural resources or the basis of physics once Lacan opens the door by his analysis of Descartes Cogito, as the Subject of The Other who desires desire. Philosophy is made so much more vibrant when it treats all human phenomena, not just casuistry for Science, and so-called Objectivity which Analytical Philosophers fantasize about.

So what Zizek is talking about is the cutting edge of Philosophy in as much as it is trying to understand the effects of the singularity of Ultra Being on the structure of the Western worldview, the warpages, discontinuities, and incoherences or opacities that it creates within the worldview, i.e. its Ideological Blindspots.

To my mind the next thing beyond that is the attempt to understand the Nondual itself which is embedded in the Western worldview, and the limit of the Supra-rational which is the opposite limit to the limit of mixture that includes contradiction, paradox, absurdity and the Impossibilities that indicate the presence of Ultra Being. It was actually Kierkegaard that introduced this idea of the interaction between the Eternal and the temporal into philosophy. Zizek is merely using the ideas of Deleuze and Derrida combined with some ideas of Lacan to get at the nature of these warpages that occur prior to experience and are seen as Traumas within experience.

These analyses are extremely pertinent given the current political climate in the US Presidential campaigns in which we see ideology in fully playing itself out in all its nihilistic glory. But in general it is a question of knowing how we are manipulated through the unconscious social mechanisms within our world through media and other cultural forms that are put to use by others for better or worse. The better we know how ideology works the better perhaps we can avoid some of its worse pitfalls.

Another reason to read Zizek is that he himself as read extremely widely, and if you read the things he refers to there is an education in Continental Philosophy just in those things he recommends as worth reading because he uses them in his arguments.

This is not to say that Zizek is a great philosopher. We have lost some of the great philosophers in the Continental Tradition recently such as Deleuze, and Derrida. He and Badiou criticize them in order to hide their debt to them, and because if you compare them to these philosophers like Deleuze and Derrida you can see that Continental Philosophy in general is going down hill. It is exploring new territory it is true beyond Wild Being of Deleuze and Hyper Being of Lacan and Derrida. But these new breed of philosophers who based themselves on Lacanian psychoanalysis are just not as great as those they criticize. They themselves are ideologues and they have political agendas that are in many respects regressive. So we have not reached a new height of genius with Zizek and Badiou, merely a new meta-level of Being which had not been explored before. But Continental Philosophy has been working itself up through these meta-levels of Being over the last hundred years and has done a good job of exploring those ever more difficult kinds of Being. And now we are at the last of these levels of Being, because we have reached the phase transition from Being to Existence. So it will be interesting to see of Continental Philosophy wanes or whether it pushes on into the new nondual realms beyond Ultra Being which are existence and manifestation and other higher nonduals related to the core of the Western worldview which we see in the Divided Line of Plato.

Bottom line is that Zizek is on the cutting edge of the Continental Philosophical Tradition and is the best representative so far as to how to apply the insights of Continental Philosophy to cultural products like films, literature, and politics, and economics, etc. But many of his insights come from the very people he denies like Deleuze and Derrida as well as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. He says he gets everything from Lacan and Hegel, but this is not true, if there had been no Deleuze or Derrida he could not have the point of view he espouses. He is a good representative of the entire Continental Tradition and its interest in interpreting political and cultural phenomena.

In France everyone was a communist. The communists were our allies during World War I and were not purged in France after the war but became the leading intellectuals. And there was a renaissance in philosophy in France that gave us what we now call Continental Philosophy. The fact that Zizek and Badiou are Marxists is just par for the course in French philosophy. And why that was good was that they were the only Marxists outside the Soviet Union and part of the reason for the fall of the Soviet Union, probably a small part, is that basically thinking in soviet countries about the nature of Marxism came to a halt as it was turned into a state religion. Sartre wrote Critique of Dialectical Reason which was the first book to try to rethink Marxism on the basis of advances in philosophy made in France, then many other books followed critiquing the mechanistic nature of Marxists dogma. Lacan supported Maoists at the time of the cultural revolution, but was smart enough not to go to China. Badiou was part of a Marxist Cell lead by Althrussar at ENS in Paris who were plotting against other French intellectuals like Derrida and Deleuze. Much of this history is starting to come out about French philosophy through intellectual biographies and studies of different subjects like Structuralism. Zizek was from a communist country, but when he went to France to study he was in good company with comrades he met there like Badiou. In France Communism is just another political party, like the socialists and many others. There is nothing special about Zizek being a communist except he is a non-dogmatic one, unlike Badiou. What is special about Zizek is that he has figured out how to take Lacanian Psychoanalytic Theory and generalize it to talk about Ideological warpages in our worldview and that gives us some insight into the action of Ultra Being, the last meta-level of being within the worldview, and this is extremely useful from a philosophical point of view and just the fact that it gives us an alternative way of thinking about cultural phenomena that would otherwise be taken for granted and not thought about at all.

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See also https://continentalphilosophy.quora.com/Why-Is-Zizek-worth-Reading

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Quora answer: In what order would Kent Palmer recommend I read ALL of his work to truly understand it?

Dec 09 2015

Interesting Question.

I guess I should just admit outright that my works are a mess. Therefore, I don’t think there is a privileged order for reading them. They cover a vast range of subjects many of which are not going to be of interest to any given reader. The other problem is that the vast majority of what I have written is unpublished so what has been given out on the internet is really the tip of the iceberg. So you are not going to be able to read ALL of my works by definition unless I get busy and try to get the rest of them edited, which probably is not going to happen soon.

I just don’t think it is feasible to read all of my works to truly understand them. And even if you read all of them there is no guarantee that you would “truly understand” what I am saying, not the least because I am a speculative philosopher and thus I try things out to see what happens, and many of my experiments fail. So truly understanding would be to confront the meaning of my many failures to understand things myself. Essentially I am saying that what you seek is impossible to obtain even for me. Do I really understand myself what I have written? Point is that over the years I have changed my opinion many times. What I understand now is more in someways than what I understood before after a lot of experience reading and writing and living in the world. But in some ways when I wrote my studies in England for my dissertation I understood more than I do now, because I was totally immersed in it, which I have not been for years. I have published some of these studies and hope to publish the rest of them, but they are almost unreadable for me. So if I have a hard time grasping what I once wrote when I was utterly absorbed in coming to terms with philosophy, then how would you understand it completely, or truly.

This brings me back to a theme you can see in my posts here and at Thinknet and in many of my writings that identifies the different aspects of Being as Truth, Reality, Identity and Presence. Because these are the aspects of Being, and because Being is not a universal, but a peculiarity of the Western worldview that are glosses over Existence in some sense which change at the different meta-levels of Being, then when you say you want to understand TRULY you are entering into these aspects. And the thing I have learned about that is that these aspects are fundamentally different at the different meta-levels of Being. And so understanding Truly at the level of Process Being is different from the what it is at the level of Pure Being, and the same goes for Hyper, Wild and Process Being. As Nietzsche said Truth is a convenient lie that we use to kid ourselves into thinking that we understand things in the world. So in some sense truly understanding is a doubtful enterprise.

But what goes for me, also goes for you. In other words can you really truly understand yourself, less well anyone else, like me for instance. I don’t claim to be able to understand myself, so how are you going to truly understand me. Anyway these are the lingering doubts I have about the project of “Truly Understanding” me and what I have written.

So what is a better path? The better path is to try to set out as I have done to understand our worldview, and go exploring yourself that vast realm which conditions everything we are and do. Understanding that is way more worth while than understanding me and my writings. This is because there are various real advantages to that project. First of all we have a philosophical tradition that stretches back a long ways to Thales and it is well commented, So you can read the originals in that tradition and then you can read many commentaries that are excellent that help you to understand those works. In other words, that is what I do. I read the works of the philosophers that interest me then I read the commentaries. And thus there is plenty of help to understand these major figures in our philosophy tradition. The point is that if you put your effort into that then you will truly be doing something worthwhile in my opinion because the more you understand our tradition the more you will understand yourself, and that is really the goal, but of course it is a goal at an infinite limit because the tradition is vast.

For myself I have taken the Continental philosophical tradition as something I wanted to understand because it gives me a better view of our worldview as far as I can see. What I write is like other commentators just my various insights I have gathered along the way concerning that tradition. One should always put the primary texts before the commentaries. So it is much better to read Husserl for instance than to read what I have to say about him. Our tradition is made up of a series of geniuses who have found new ways of looking at the worldview, and they build on each others work. So if you read say Husserl, then Heidegger, then Derrida, and others like Foucault, Deleuze, Zizek, and then go back to Kant, Hegel, Plato etc you will come to understand our tradition much better than you would if you did not spend the time reading them. I participate in a reading group that is local to me in which we have done just that, we have gone back and followed the itinerary mapped out by Lee Braver in Amazon.com: A Thing of This World: A History of Continental Anti-Realism (Topics in Historical Philosophy) (9780810123809): Lee Braver: Books and attempted to read the originals that he talks about. In my own reading of the tradition, I never really went back before and tried to re-read the things I read in England, because there was always another book to read in the tradition that fascinated me. But through this reading group I am going back and learning a lot that I missed the first time through with two other philosophers who are teaching me about analytical philosophy along the way. And one of our great interests is the split between Analytical and Continental Philosophy. And I have been reading some of the books about that split and some of the books that I never got around to reading on the Analytical side and this is giving me a new appreciation for many things I had not understood before about the tradition. Not that I like Analytical Philosophy and more, but now I at least know better what is good about it, and why I don’t find it as uplifting as I find Continental Philosophy. The difference is that Continental Philosophy gives us more insight into the nature of the Western worldview because it is much more wide ranging in its concerns. It is not a specialized discipline, but an attempt to understand everything from all angles, instead of just being a handmaiden to Western Science.

In our study we have read together Being and Time, then Basic Writings, and after that the Order of Things, and then read Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations and Krisis as a prelude to reading Derrida and we are now caught up in reading Introduction to the Origin of Geometry, Writing and Difference, Speech and Phenomena, and of Grammatology. And I am going on to read more of Derrida, for instance Archive Fever which I had not read before. In this process I have become fascinated with Genetic Phenomenology developed by Husserl and its impact on the later tradition. That is definitely something worth trying to understand. Much more significant than anything I have written. Try to understand that. Then lets talk. That is something that is really profound and has had an amazing impact on Western philosophy that I just did not appreciate before. And now there is a lot of material about it such as Derrida’s own book reviewing Genetic Phenomenology in Husserl’s Philosophy.

See The Problem of Genesis in Husserl’s Philosophy – Kindle edition by Jacques Derrida, Marian Hobson. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. See also Amazon.com: Genesis and Trace: Derrida Reading Husserl and Heidegger (Cultural Memory in the Present) (9780804739160): Paola Marrati, Simon Sparks: Books

The Other Husserl: The Horizons of Transcendental Phenomenology (Studies in Continental Thought): Donn Welton: 9780253215581: Amazon.com: Books

Key Book Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis: Lectures on Transcendental Logic (Husserliana: Edmund Husserl – Collected Works): Edmund Husserl, A.J. Steinbock: 9780792370666: Amazon.com: Books

Thus with this reading in our reading group my understanding of the tradition has changed fundamentally. By ideas about the meta-levels of Being were really just the tip of the iceberg, and that below that at a deeper level is the theme of Genetic Phenomenology. There is a thread of Genetic Phenomenology that stretches from Husserl to Heidegger to Merleau Ponty to Derrda to Deleuze and probably beyond that ties these philosophers together at a deeper level despite their exploring the different meta-levels of Being which is fascinating. And some commentators have picked up this thread and explored it.

For instance:

Deleuze and the Genesis of Representation (Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy) – Kindle edition by Joe Hughes. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

So on the one had the Continental Tradition was exploring the various meta-levels of Being (Pure, Process, Hyper, Wild and Ultra) but on the other hand there is a deeper thread tying them together which is genetic phenomenology. And if you understand that then you have a much deeper insight into the tradition than just concentrating on the differences between the meta-levels. Essentially the meta-levels of Being are what falls out when you go deeper and deeper into Genetic Phenomenology. I did not understand this before. Thus my understanding is itself transforming radically as a result of revisiting these texts I read long ago but did not completely understand before, there was much more in them than I appreciated at the time. And the only reason I am getting this benefit is that I found others who want to read these texts along with me and to discuss them. Which is a rare and wonderful thing. This secret about the tradition that is starting to come out in the commentaries on the Contentment Tradition, for instance Home and Beyond: Generative Phenomenology after Husserl (Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy): Anthony J. Steinbock: 9780810113206: Amazon.com: Books, is something quite amazing. That is something worth truly understanding because it tells us something deep about our worldview that we really did not understand before.

So I guess what I am trying to say, is that I am struggling to try to understand our worldview. The best thing you can do is to try to understand it yourself, not my meager contribution, except in passing and as a side note to a much broader attempt by others within our tradition to understand it better. The point is that much of my work because it is truly speculative, in other words I just try things out for the heck of it to see what might happen, is probably wrong. Not to mention that I am not a “real scholar” in the sense that I do not know the original languages in which much of this material is written. I take classes from someone who is local that does understand those languages and try to take guidance from him in my interpretations. There is just so much available in English that I have not been able to exhaust it and without a facility for language, it is just easier to keep reading in my native language. But everything I have written has this flaw or taint of ignorance of German, and French, and the other major languages that the originals of the tradition are written in. Truly understanding would demand that we went back to the originals in their own languages. And if that is true then I definitely don’t have True Understanding in that sense like Derrida does, for instance.

I am appreciating him more as I am reading him again these many years later. He has the capacity to completely understand who ever he happens to be studying and to say interesting things about them, for instance Husserl, or Freud, or Hegel. And as far as I can see he had not hint that Wild Being defined by Merleau-Ponty and explored by Deleuze, existed. Everything he writes is from the point of view of Hyper Being as far as I can see so far. But that is a good thing because by reading Derrida you can focus on Hyper Being, but then if you want to see things from the point of view of Wild Being you go to Deleuze, and if you want to explore Ultra Being you go to the work of Badiou and Zizek. In other words, it is a very good thing that each of these philosophers stick to the meta-level of Being that they are exploring as fully as they can. But to get an overview of what is happening in the tradition we need to understand these different meta-levels of Being and how they are related in the Western Worldview. Taken together they tell us something about our worldview, something deep about it which was always known in antiquity but which was later lost so that today we have a very flat view of the worldview, except in as much as Continental Philosophy has re-illuminated it for us.

For more on the meta-levels of Being see my recent summary Meta-levels of Being

So the upshot of all this is that the best thing you can do is not to try to understand my writings but to dive into the tradition and try to understand that for yourself with the help of reading the original works and the myriad good commentaries. My own work merely tries to give an overview of what I have learned by doing that myself. And it may help in some ways with the caveat that it is my own peculiar and idiosyncratic opinion. But the only thing really good about it is that I try to understand it as a whole, rather than just getting lost in the weeds as so many do. But of course trying to understand our philosophical tradition is a life times work and takes a very big commitment. So I don’t expect many will follow this advice. But what I can say is that it is extremely rewarding if you do make the effort, it affords you with an intellectual adventure that is difficult to match.

My works are way points on that journey. Probably the only thing worthwhile about them is that they signify the possibility of the journey toward an understanding of our tradition. But where anyone who takes that journey as so many have before us will end up is very different from anyone else who take that journey, and that is what drives the difference between the major philosophers in our tradition. They took the journey and they came to see it in fundamentally differently ways and thus shed more light on it from their different stances. Staking our your own stance toward the tradition as I have tried to do is a worth while project. But very demanding because the territory is so vast no one individual is going to encompass it all. Or at least after Hegel that has become fairly obvious. Hegel was perhaps the last philosopher who understood the whole tradition in his own way. Derrida’s works are a recognition of our limitations in that respect that have generally become recognized of late. If we cannot understand our tradition as a whole, then that means we cannot understand who we are completely, and thus we will never know ourselves truly, in reality, with any absolute identity, and we cannot bring ourselves to full presence ultimately. If that is the case then understanding each other truly is not going to be easy, and perhaps we need to recognize those limitations up front. Since my works have no intrinsic order, they just happened to be what I was interested at the time and my attempt to set down what I had gleaned from my reading, then that means that there is no order in which they should be read to gain a true understanding, if that were even possible.

However, there is an intrinsic order that you should read things in general which is to read what ever fascinates you the most first, and then after that what fascinates most now that you have a new perspective having read that. In other words, my works should be read only to the extent that I am the most fascinating thing you can read at a given time, and if I do not come up to that standard then my works should be passed over for what IS the most fascinating thing for you at the moment. To tell you the truth I don’t read my own works. That is why so many of them lie unedited. I always find something more fascinating written by someone else which I prioritize over my own editing and writing for the most part. So if I don’t read them how can I expect others to read them. But the only thing I will say is that I try to write things that do not appear in the literature, and I try to write things that I myself would like to see and read from others within the tradition. And if my works have any value it probably stems from that. I say to myself. I wish someone who actually knows something would write a book on Subject X. But then I do not find anything. So I say well perhaps I will try my hand at it and see what happens. Then I either publish the result to the internet or leave it to the side and forget about it and move on to what is most fascinating to me at a given moment. Perhaps there are others that wish there was a book on Subject X. Well they might find my attempt worth while, or at least they can see what I did wrong and try to do better, in which case I would like to read their attempt to treat the same subject which might be better than mine.

This only other thing I will say about this subject is that Order as Nomos is the nondual between Logos and Phusis, and is the first nondual. There is below that a whole series of nonduals which are Right, Good, Fate, Source and Root. Now in my writing I try to explore this hierarchy that is at the heart of the Western worldview. Thus your question deals with the Order that would allow you to truly understand my works and thought. But you might ask what is the Right thing to read within my ouvre, (which would obviously be what I have written concerning Special Systems Theory) or you might as what is the Good thing to read (The Fragmentation of Being and the Path Beyond the Void) thus the deepest thing to read. What I ask you to ask yourself is why start at the most superficial of these levels of nonduality within the tradition. Rather than my works lets talk about someone for whom this question can actually be answered, i.e. Plato. In the tradition the right thing to read is Plato’s Republic, because it has the topic of Justice and thus is about Right (Rta, Arte). If you want to read about Order then it is Plato’s Laws that should be read (this is the longest dialogue but also the least read work of Plato), which is the inland city as far away from the sea as possible. But if we want to read about Right we must go to the shore and deal with all the things that come from the outside world and thus take our decent into Hades as Socrates did (Amazon.com: Being and Logos: Reading the Platonic Dialogues (9780253210715): John Sallis: Books) where he went to witness the emergent event of the introduction of a new foreign goddess into the city. The Republic is the right thing to read if you want to know about the structure of the Western worldview which is encapsulated in the Divided Line. But what is the Good thing to Read? In Plato the good thing to read is the Symposium. That is because each speech is related to the various Special Systems which appear throughout the works of Plato. And in it he is giving us a variety of viewpoints of different speakers and thus pointing to the necessary variety that is produced by human beings. Then we might ask what is the Fated thing to read and that would be Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito concerning the death of Socrates. But then we might ask what is the thing that will allow us the deepest insight into the Sources of thing. In that case we would want to study the dialogues in which Plato talks about the source forms such as Phaedo, Republic and Phaedrus.

Then again we might want to inquire into the Root or the deepest level of nonduality in which case we would have to read the seventh letter [Seventh Letter | Wikiwand] where he says that what he has written in the Dialogues is not what interests him most but what interests him most is something that travels like a spark between companions from soul to soul, i.e. spiritual transmission.

When you ask about the Order in which someones works should be read, one is merely at the highest most superficial level of their work. But Plato is the only one I know who actually writes works at all the different levels of nonduality within the Western tradition, and that is why Whitehead says that everyone elses works are a footnote to Plato. My own work is merely a footnote to those footnotes. Better to read the original and forget about the footnotes except for clarification on fine points that aid understanding that flows from thinking deeply about the original texts of the tradition. There are puddles beside the road but it is better to swim in truly deep oceans like the works of Plato, than to spend ones time on the works that everyone will have forgotten sooner rather than later as the tradition lumbers on and our understanding of it is transformed again and again by emergent events that well up from it unexpectedly producing the Epochs of Being (Heidegger), the Episteme Changes (Foucault), the Paradigm Changes (Kuhn) and the production of myriad theories that always happens and continually changes the tradition in fundamental ways.

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Quora Answer: Where do I start with discovering Husserl?

Apr 21 2015

The normal suggestion for a place to start studying Husserl is Cartesian Meditations.

But I would suggest reading Ideas 1 instead which seems easier to read even though it is longer.

Another place to start is with his last work which is Crisis in the European Sciences.

Husserl is difficult to read. There is no getting around that. However, if you are interested in Phenomenology then it is rewarding to read about it from the source who invented the idea of this unique and interesting way of doing philosophy.

A much easier place to start with phenomenology in general is with Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. Then once you get the idea about what Phenomenology is about then one can go back and read Husserl and Heidegger to get the wider context.

The most interesting thing in Husserl is Genetic Phenomenology verses Static Phenomenology. But there is not much about that in Husserl’s main published works. For an introduction to it see The Other Husserl by Welton.

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Quora Answer: Philosophy of Mathematics: Is anyone familiar with the work of Fernando Zalamea?

Apr 20 2015

Versus Laboratory Seminar 24: Sheaf Logic & Philosophical Synthesis, with Fernando Zalamea (September 29, 2011)

Versus Laboratory Seminar 24: Sheaf Logic & Philosophical Synthesis, with Fernando Zalamea : Fernando Zalamea : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive


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Quora Answer: What are some philosophers I should read about besides Plato and Aristotle?

Apr 20 2015

I recommend reading and re-reading the entire Philosophical Cannon.

[I realize this is an ideal and a practical impossibility. The way to solve this practical problem is to read from the philosophical canon what is most fascinating at any given moment]

Western canon

Harold Bloom Creates a Massive List of Works in The “Western Canon”: Read Many of the Books Free Online

Amazon.com: The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change (9780674816473): Randall Collins: Books

History of Philosophy

A History of Eastern Philosophy

History of Philosophy without any gaps

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