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Cosmochart

January 18, 2014 Leave a comment

cosmochart

Questioning the Sufficiency of Information

January 12, 2014 2 comments
Better Than The Chinese Room

Searle’s “Chinese Room” thought experiment tends to be despised by strong AI enthusiasts, who seem to take issue with Searle personally because of it. Accusing both the allegory and the author of being stupid, the Systems Reply is the one offered most often. The man in the room may not understand Chinese, but surely the whole system, including book of translation, must be considered to understand Chinese.

Here then is simpler and more familiar example of how computation can differ from natural understanding which is not susceptible to any mereological Systems argument.

If any of you have use passwords which are based on a pattern of keystrokes rather than the letters on the keys, you know that you can enter your password every day without ever knowing what it is you are typing (something with a #r5f^ in it…?).

I think this is a good analogy for machine intelligence. By storing and copying procedures, a pseudo-semantic analysis can be performed, but it is an instrumental logic that has no way to access the letters of the ‘human keyboard’. The universal machine’s keyboard is blank and consists only of theoretical x,y coordinates where keys would be. No matter how good or sophisticated the machine is, it will still have no way to understand what the particular keystrokes “mean” to a person, only how they fit in with whatever set of fixed possibilities has been defined.

Taking the analogy further, the human keyboard only applies to public communication. Privately, we have no keys to strike, and entire paragraphs or books can be represented by a single thought. Unlike computers, we do not have to build our ideas up from syntactic digits. Instead the public-facing computation follows from the experienced sense of what is to be communicated in general, from the top down, and the inside out.

 

The Scale of Digital

How large does a digital circle have to be before the circumference seems like a straight line?

Digital information has no scale or sense of relation. Code is code. Any rendering of that code into a visual experience of lines and curves is a question of graphic formatting and human optical interaction. With a universe that assumes information as fundamental, the proximity-dependent flatness or roundness of the Earth would have to be defined programmatically. Otherwise, it is simply “the case” that a person is standing on the round surface of the round Earth. Proximity is simply a value with no inherent geometric relevance.

When we resize a circle in Photoshop, for instance, the program is not transforming a real shape, it is erasing the old digital circle and creating a new, unrelated digital circle. Like a cartoon, the relation between the before and after, between one frame and the “next” is within our own interpretation, not within the information.

MSR: Perceptual Inertial Frames

January 3, 2014 Leave a comment

msr_pifs1

Prime Spiral

November 2, 2013 Leave a comment

workman:

visualizingmath:

The Ulam Spiral

The prime spiral, also known as Ulam’s spiral, is a plot in which the positive integers are arranged in a spiral with primes indicated in some way along the spiral. Unexpected patterns of diagonal lines are apparent in such a plot. This construction was first made by Polish-American mathematician Stanislaw Ulam (1909-1986) in 1963 while doodling during a boring talk at a scientific meeting. While drawing a grid of lines, he decided to number the intersections according to a spiral pattern, and then began circling the numbers in the spiral that were primes. Surprisingly, the circled primes appeared to fall along a number of diagonal straight lines or, in Ulam’s slightly more formal prose, it “appears to exhibit a strongly nonrandom appearance”

In the above variation of the Ulam spiral, red squares represent prime numbers and white squares represent non-primesImage source.

I can’t decide if I care about prime numbers. On the one hand, the idea of indivisibility is interesting as it relates to consciousness. In some sense, I think that the universe, and each experience of it, is a one-hit-wonder. All appearances of repetition are local to some frame of reference. If someone is color blind, they may see alternating red and green dots as a repeating grey dot. If you listen to someone speaking a language that you can’t understand, it can seem, on some level, that they are saying the same kinds of sounds over and over again.

I wondered if any random constraint would appear to contain pattern when mapped as a spiral like that. This one above is yellow hex if the number spelled out contains the letter i. Writing these out I noticed how the language we use to name the numbers is isomorphic above ten. A trivial observation, I know, but I think that this logical version of onomatopoeia reveals some insights about recursive enumeration, and its foundation in an expectation of the absolutely generic.

To someone who is fascinated by prime numbers (often in a hypnotic, compulsive kind of way, as these spirals suggest), part of the appeal may be that the patterns that they seem to make defy this expectation of generic, interchangeability as the basis of counting. Three isn’t really supposed to be different from two or one, it’s just “the next one after two”. Finding these cosmic Easter eggs by poring over mathematics is, as the movie Pi dramatized, a weird kind of quasi-religious calling. Seeking to sleuth out a hidden intelligence where neither intelligence nor secrecy would seem possible. Numbers are supposed to be universal; publicly accessible. There shouldn’t be any proprietary codes lurking in there.

Maybe there aren’t? Without mapping primes into these spirals to look at with our eyes, the interesting sequences and ratios in mathematics would not be so interesting. Mathematics may provide the most neutral and bland medium possible for the projection of patterns. Like a supernatural oracle or Rorschach inkblot, an ideal medium for pareidolia and conjuring of simulacra from the subconscious.

Math is haunted alright, but by pattern recognition – sense making, rather than Platonic essences. Because math is an ideal conductor and insulator for sense, it does end up reflecting sense in a clear and concise way, however I think it is mainly a reflection. Math is not the heart of the universe, not the whole, but the hole in the whole – a divider which shaves off differences with the power of indifference.

Defining Consciousness, Life, Physics

November 2, 2013 5 comments

One of the more popular objections to any proposal for explaining consciousness is that the term consciousness is too vague, or that any explanation depends on what way the term is used. I disagree. The nature of electricity does not depend on what people think the word means, and I don’t think that consciousness does either. When someone is knocked unconscious, there is little doubt about what it means. In general terms, it means that they are not personally present. They are not personally affected by their environment, nor can they intentionally cause any effects on their environment.

Is that an agreeable place to start for everyone?

Can we agree also, in light of the physiology of the brain-stem, which consists of sensory neural pathways and motor neural pathways, that the concept of consciousness is at least closely identified with input/output?

Can we agree that it could be possible that input/output could be sufficient to describe the fundamental nature of consciousness? Does consciousness need to be something further than that?

Here is where, in my view, the whole dependency of definition comes in. The issue is that input/output can either be conceptualized from the exterior or the interior. The Western perspective, even when it tries to model the interior perspective of i/o, does so from the outside in. It assumes that the proprietary feeling of subjectivity is fundamentally inauthentic – that a system can only be built from generic conditions, laws, processes, etc, and cannot be truly original in any sense. In this way, no neuroscientific account, or cog-sci account, can really claim an inside-looking-out perspective. The Western orientation does not allow for the possibility that person as a whole could act as an irreducibly singular receiver of experience an originator of physical cause. Taking a cue from relativity, however, I suggest that perceptual integrity is identical to inertial framing, so that the frame as a whole can drive the micro-frame conditions within it, and vice versa. This is not vertical emergence from the bottom up, but parallel emergence. Multiple levels of description.

Going back to consciousness being definable in terms of its difference from unconsciousness, we can see that the difference between the two has some similarity between life and death. Can we agree that life too differs from death in that it relates to input/output for an organism and its environment?

We understand that an animal can be unconscious without being dead, but is this a difference in degree or a difference in kind? Could input/output also be sufficient to define “life”. We might say that life includes reproduction and growth, however even a single cell organism which is not reproducing or growing at any given time is considered a form of life. Does that not seem that the quality of environmental sensitivity and the ability to cause biochemical effects in response to that sensitivity are even more essential to defining life?

To sum up then, I am asking:

1) Doesn’t being conscious really just mean the ability to receive sense and project motive?

2) Doesn’t life really mean the same thing on a lower, level?

From there, I would ask

3) Isn’t sense what we really mean by a ‘field’, and motive what we mean by a ‘force’?

4) Using relativity as a intuitive guide, can’t it be said that the concept of ‘field’ or ‘force’ are really metaphors, and that the way we contribute to human society is identical to the way that any vector of sense contributes to its context? Isn’t consciousness just a form of life which is just a form of physics…which is just a form of sensory-motive interaction?

Unintentional Symbolism: * and #

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment

asterisk pound

Part of my approach to making new sense of the universe involves indulging in meditations on unintentional symbolism. Any pattern that catches my attention is a potential subject for intuition voodoo. Usually it pays off eventually, even when it seems absurd at first.

In this case, I was thinking about the # and * symbols that were inserted into our visual culture obliquely, as extra buttons on the telephone which flanked the 0. Taking this as my cue to relate this to the multisense continuum, I compared the symbols graphically, etymologically, and semantically.

The pound sign (hash, hashtag, number sign) seems to me a dead ringer for the Western-mechanistic pole of the continuum, while the asterisk (star) fits quite nicely as the Oriental-animistic pole.

Here’s how it breaks down:

# – number sign, so quantitative and generic. The symbol is one of four lines crossing each other at right angles to yield nine implicit regions of space. The slant provides a suggestion of orientation – a forward lean that disambiguates spatial bias and implies, subliminally, an arrow of time.

In the age of Twitter and Instagram, the hashtag has become an important cultural influence. It is interesting with respect to mechanism in that it refers to accessing a machine’s sorting algorithms. It is a note to the network of how this term should be handled. We have appropriated this satirically so that we recapture it for our own entertainment, but also as a kind of show of affection for and familiarity with the technology.

In direct contrast, the * is am icon which is used to interrupt one level of attention to direct the reader to another level – a footnote. Instead of relating to numbers, the * is a wildcard that can be related to any string. It stands for “all that is preceded by or follows”. Contrary to the cellular modularity of #, the * is a mandala. It implies kaliedoscopic sensibility and fractal elaboration. It is a symbol of radiance, growth, life, unity, etc.

There’s some interesting threads that connect the * with mathematical terms such as Kleene closure (more commonly known as the free monoid construction). Just the words ‘free monoid construction’ ring in my ears as an echo of what I call solitrophy – the constructive progress of teleological unity…the creation and solution of problems.

Also the use of *asterisk* for heightened emphasis links it to the significance of euphoria or magnified feeling (and the euphoria that is associated with significance or magnified prestige/importance). Wikipedia mentions the use of # by editors to represent where space should be added on galley proofs. The use of * is, by contrast associated with repetition of a particular thing – a replication. This is a tenuous but deep connection to the origins of space and time in the difference between syntactic-public sense and semantic-private sense.

The name ‘pound sign’ seems to be fairly mysterious. It does not seem to be related conclusively to either the English currency or the Avoirdupois weight. Both references, however, have very tempting subliminal associations to the Western pole of empirical domination. On the other side, the name asterisk means ‘little star’, from Greek and Latin. I can read into that a reference to ‘as above, so below’, as the twinkling point of light reproduces in miniature that which is the grand solar source of life on Earth.

A follow up post on my blog

Obstruction of Solitude: A Guide To Noise

October 15, 2013 Leave a comment

“And then…all the noise!  All the noise, noise, noise, noise!
If there’s one thing I hate…all the noise, noise, noise, noise!
And they’ll shriek, squeak, and squeal racing round on their wheels,
Then dance with jin-tinglers tied onto their heels!” – The Grinch

“Karma police, arrest this man
He talks in maths
He buzzes like a fridge
He’s like a detuned radio” – Radiohead

It might be asked, “Why should we care about noise?” Two reasons come to mind.

1) To reduce, contain, or otherwise avoid it.
2) To understand what isn’t noise, and why we prefer that.

Real Noise

The general use of the word noise refers to an unpleasant sound. Even on this most literal level, there is a sense of denial about the extent to which unpleasant qualities are subjective. The stereotypical parent, upon hearing the stereotypical teenager’s musical taste being played at high volume, may yell something like “Turn off that infernal noise!”. There is a sense that the sound demands to be labeled objectively as a terrible thing to listen to, rather than as a sound which presents itself differently according to one’s state of mind or development.

At the same time, we cannot rule out all objective, or at least pseudo-objective qualities related to signal and noise. A garage recording of a metal band or a jackhammer attacking the pavement can be uncontroversially defined as being ‘noisy’, particularly in comparison to other, more gentle sounds. ‘Real noise’, then, seems to have a range of subjective and objective qualifiers. Loud, percussive sounds are inherently noisy to us humans, and we have reason to assume the same is true for animals and even plants:

“Dorothy Retallack tried experimenting with different types of music. She played rock to one group of plants and, soothing music to another. The group that heard rock turned out to be sickly and small whereas the other group grew large and healthy. What’s more surprising is that the group of plants listening to the soothing music grew bending towards the radio just as they bend towards the sunlight.”source

Whether we enjoy loud, percussive sounds is a matter of taste and context. Even the most diehard metal fan probably does not want to hear their favorite band blasting at five o’ clock in the morning from a passing car. Being able to control what we listen to contributes to our perception of it as noise.

Obstruction, Distraction, Destruction, and Leaks

Whether a piece of music offends our personal taste, or it is simply so loud that we can’t ‘hear ourselves think’, the experience of being distracted seems central to its status as noise. In the parlance of sound engineers, and later Silicon Valley schmoozers, the ‘signal to noise ratio’ describes this feature of noise to distract or divert attention from the intended communication. Noise not only obstructs access to the signal, the disturbance that it causes also detracts from the quality of the signal itself. If the signal to noise ratio is poor enough, it may not be worth the effort for the receiver to try to interpret it, and communication is destroyed.

This sense of noise as an obstacle to communication extends beyond audio or electronic signals to any context where information is accessed, transmitted, or stored. In his influential work on telecommunications, Clause Shannon described information entropy as those features of a signal which are costly to compress.  Typically it is those patterns which cannot be easily discerned as either part of the intentional signal or part of the background noise. Despite the tremendous computational resources available for mobile communication, the signal quality on mobile devices are still generally inferior to land lines. Between microphone gating that clips off conversation instead of ambient street sounds and the loss of packets due to radio broadcast conditions or network routing conditions, it is amazing that it sounds as good as it does, but it is still a relatively leaky way to transmit voices.

Neural Noise and Withdrawal

Every sense has its own particular kind of noise. Vision has glare, blur, phosphene patterns (‘seeing stars’). Touch has non-specific tingling or itching. Olfactory and gustatory senses encounter foul odors or bad aftertastes.  Feelings like nausea and dizziness which are unrelated to food or balance conditions are a kind of noise (noise is etymologically related to nausea and noxious). Part of the effect of withdrawal from an addiction that the brain becomes overly sensitized to irritating stimuli in general. It’s almost like an allergic response in that the systems which would ordinarily protect us from threats is distracted by a false threat and turned on itself.  Our sensitivity to the environment, having been hijacked by an external supply of pleasurable signals, has built up a tolerance for those super-saturated instructions.

With any kind of addiction, even healthy ones like exercise or washing your hands, the nature of sense is to accommodate and normalize perceptions which are present regularly. Because the addiction provides positive reinforcement regularly, there is an artificially low noise ratio which invites your senses to recalibrate to listen more closely to the noise (which would be quite adaptive evolutionarily, you would want to still hear that tiger or smell that smoke even when you enjoy a lifestyle of hedonism and decadence). When the source of positive distraction is removed, the sensitivity to negative distraction is still cranked up to 11, which of course, taps into the original motivation to escape the negative distractions of life with an addiction in the first place. We want something to soothe our nerves, to numb the sensitivity and quiet the noise.

A Recipe For Noise

There seem to be general patterns which are common to many kinds of noise. Noise can either be an obstructing presence, or a conspicuous absence (like the dropouts on a phone call). It can be a public or a private condition which clouds judgment, invites impatience, frustration, and intolerance.  Noise can be that which is incoherent, irrelevant, redundant, or inappropriate. Some signals can be temporarily irrelevant or incoherent, while others are permanently so. Besides being too loud, an audio noise can also be soft, such as a hiss or other aesthetic defect that exposes leaky conditions in the recording process. The context is important, as with withdrawal from addiction, our senses are more attuned to the relativity of sensation rather than objective measurement. Grey looks darker next to black than it does next to white.

Our ability to use our attention to pivot from foreground to background is part of what defines the difference between signal and noise, or sense and nonsense. We can all relate to the Charlie Brown effect, where the words that a teacher says are reduced to unintelligible vocalizations. As you read these words now, you may be scanning over so much tedious verbiage that looks like generic wordiness more than any particular message. Any signal can be a noise if you don’t pay attention to it in the right way, and any noise can be used as a meaningful code or symbol. Perhaps there is a way to get over our addictions a little easier if we can learn to see our irritation and cravings as a sign that we are on the right path to restoring our neurological gain.

Many Cures

The destruction of information or the suppression of noise is not as simple as it may seem. Take, for example, the difference between analgesic, anesthetic, and narcotic effects. Pain can be relieved systemically, locally, or simply by being made to seem irrelevant. It can be selectively suppressed or wiped out as part of an overall deadening of sensation. There are other ways to get pain relief besides pharmaceuticals as well. Athletes or soldiers are known to perform with severe injuries, and many people have endured astonishing hardships for the sake of their family without being fully aware of the pain they were in. While there may be endogenous pharmacology going on which accounts for the specific pain suppression, it is ultimately the context which the subject is conscious of which drives the release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters.

Semiotics of Noise

Looking at noise from a Piercean perspective, it can be seen as a failure of semiosis – a broken icon, symbol, or index.  A broken index would be something like tinnitus or a phantom limb. The signal we are receiving does not correspond to the referent that we expect, and in fact corresponds only to a problem with the signaling mechanism, or some deeper problem. A signal which is broken as an index but can be understood meaningfully as a symptom of something else (maybe the tinnitus is due to a sinus infection) has reverted from a teleological index to a teleonomic* index. It coincides with a condition, but does not represent it faithfully in any way. It is noise in the sense that the expected association must be overlooked intentionally to get to the unintentional association to a symptom.

A broken index would also be one which we deem irrelevant. This type of noise, which would include the proliferation of automatic alerts, false alarms, flashing lights, spam, etc. There may be nothing wrong with what what the message is saying, but considerations of redundancy, and context inappropriateness makes it clear that what a computer thinks is important and what we think is important are very different things. This type of noise fails at the pragmatic level. It’s not that we don’t understand the message, or that its not for us, it’s that we don’t want to do anything about it.

Broken icons and symbols would similarly be made incoherent, irrelevant, or inappropriate by lacking enough syntactic integrity or semantic content to justify positive attention. Fragmented texts or degenerated signs can fail to satisfy functionally or aesthetically, either on their own, or due to intrusions from outside of the intended communication channel. The overall function of noise is to decompose. Like the odor of something that has spoiled, disorder and decay are symptoms of entropy. In the schema of cosmic metabolism, entropy is the catabolic phase of forms and functions – a kind of toll exacted by space and time which ensures that whatever rises to the threshold of existence and importance, will eventually destabilize, its differences de-tuning to indifference.

What Noise Tells Us About Signals

If we begin with the premise that signal and noise are polar opposites, then it may be useful to look at the opposite of some of the terms and concepts that have just been discussed. If noise is irrelevant, inappropriate, incoherent, and redundant, then the qualities which make something significant or important should include being relevant, appropriate, coherent, and essential. Where noise obstructs, distracts, and destroys, sense instructs, attracts, and constructs. Where noise is noxious and disgusting, signals soothe and give solace.

In the larger picture of self and consciousness, it is our solitude that is threatened by noise. Solitude, like solidity and structure are related to low entropy. It is the feeling of strong continuity and coherence, a silent background from which all moments of sound and fury are foregrounded. It is what receives all signals and insulates all noise. Integrated information? Maybe. The Philosopher’s Stone? Probably.

*teleonomy describes conditions of causality which are driven by blind statistics rather than sensible function. Evolution, for example, is a teleonomy since it does not care which species live or die, it is only those who happen to have been better suited to their ecological niche which end up reproducing most successfully.

Wittgenstein, Physics, and Free Will

October 14, 2013 1 comment

JE: My experience from talking to philosophers is that WIttgenstein’s view is certainly contentious. There seem to be two camps. There are those seduced by his writing who accept his account and there are others who, like me, feel that Wittgenstein expressed certain fairly trivial insights about perception and language that most people should have worked out for themselves and then proceeded to draw inappropriate conclusions and screw up the progress of contemporary philosophy for fifty years. This latter would be the standard view amongst philosophers working on biological problems in language as far as I can see.

Wittgenstein is right to say that words have different meanings in different situations – that should be obvious. He is right to say that contemporary philosophers waste their time using words inappropriately – any one from outside sees that straight away. But his solution – to say that the meaning of words is just how they are normally used, is no solution – it turns out to be a smoke screen to allow him to indulge his own prejudices and not engage in productive explanation of how language actually works inside brains.

The problem is a weaseling going on that, as I indicated before, leads to Wittgenstein encouraging the very crime he thought he was clever to identify. The meaning of a word may ‘lie in how it is used’ in the sense that the occurrences of words in talk is functionally connected to the roles words play in internal brain processes and relate to other brain processes but this is trivial. To say that meaning is use is, as I said, clearly a route to the W crime itself. If I ask how do you know meaning means use you will reply that a famous philosopher said so. Maybe he did but he also said that words do not have unique meanings defined by philosophers – they are used in all sorts of ways and there are all sorts of meanings of meaning that are not ‘use’, as anyone who has read Grice or Chomsky will have come to realise. Two meanings of a word may be incompatible yet it may be well nigh impossible to detect this from use – the situation I think we have here. The incompatibility only becomes clear if we rigorously explore what these meanings are. Wittgenstein is about as much help as a label on a packet of pills that says ‘to be taken as directed’.

But let’s be Wittgensteinian and play a language game of ordinary use, based on the family resemblance thesis. What does choose mean? One meaning might be to raise in the hearer the thought of having a sense of choosing. So a referent of ‘choose’ is an idea or experience that seems to be real and I think must be. But we were discussing what we think that sense of choosing relates to in terms of physics. We want to use ‘choose’ to indicate some sort of causal relation or an aspect of causation, or if we are a bit worried about physics still having causes we could frame it in terms of dynamics or maybe even just connections in a spacetime manifold. If Wheeler thinks choice is relevant to physics he must think that ‘choose’ can be used to describe something of this sort, as well as the sense of choosing.

So, as I indicated, we need to pin down what that dynamic role might be. And I identified the fact that the common presumption about this is wrong. It is commonly thought that choosing is being in a situation with several possible outcomes. However, we have no reason to think that. The brain may well not be purely deterministic in operation. Quantum indeterminacy may amplify up to the level of significant indeterminacy in such a complex system with so powerful amplification systems at work. However, this is far from established and anyway it would have nothing to do with our idea of choosing if it was just a level of random noise. So I think we should probably work on the basis that the brain is in fact as tightly deterministic as matters here. This implies that in the situation where we feel we are choosing THERE IS ONLY ONE POSSIBLE OUTCOME.

The problem, as I indicated is that there seem to be multiple possible outcomes to us because we do not know how are brain is going to respond. Because this lack of knowledge is a standard feature of our experience our idea of ‘a situation’ is better thought of as ‘an example of an ensemble of situations that are indistinguishable in terms of outcome’. If I say when I get to the main road I can turn right or left I am really saying that I predict an instance of an ensemble of situations which are indistinguishable in terms of whether I go right or left. This ensemble issue of course is central to QM and maybe we should not be so surprised about that – operationally we live in a world of ensembles, not of specific situations.

So this has nothing to do with ‘metaphysical connotations’ which is Wittgenstein’s way of blocking out any arguments that upset him – where did we bring metaphysics in here? We have two meanings of choose. 1. Being in a situation that may be reported as being one of feeling one has choice (to be purely behaviourist) and 2. A dynamic account of that situation that turns out not to agree with what 99.9% of the population assume it is when they feel they are choosing. People use choose in a discussion of dynamics as if it meant what it feels like in 1 but the reality is that this use is useless. It is a bit like making burnt offerings to the Gods. That may be a use for goats but not a very productive one. It turns out that the ‘family resemblance’ is a fake. Cousin Susan who has pitched up to claim her inheritance is an impostor. That is why I say that although to ‘feel I am choosing’ is unproblematic the word ‘choice’ has no useful meaning in physics. It is based on the same sort of error as thinking a wavefunction describes a ‘particle’ rather than an ensemble of particles. The problem with Wittgenstein is that he never thought through where his idea of use takes you if you take a careful scientific approach. Basically I think he was lazy. The common reason why philosophers get tied in knots with words is this one – that a word has several meanings that do not in fact have the ‘family relations’ we assume they have – this is true for knowledge, perceiving, self, mind, consciousness – all the big words in this field. Wittgenstein’s solution of going back to using words the way they are ‘usually’ used is nothing more than an ostrich sticking its head in the sand.

So would you not agree that in Wheeler’s experiments the experimenter does not have a choice in the sense that she probably feels she has? She is not able to perform two alternative manoeuvres on the measuring set up. She will perform a manoeuvre, and she may not yet know which, but there are no alternatives possible in this particular instance of the situation ensemble. She is no different from a computer programmed to set the experiment up a particular way before particle went through the slits, contingent on a meteorite not shaking the apparatus after it went through the slits (causality is just as much an issue of what did not happen as what did). So if we think this sort of choosing tells us something important about physics we have misunderstood physics, I beleive.

Nice response. I agree almost down the line.

As far as the meaning of words go, I think that no word can have only one meaning because meaning, like all sense, is not assembled from fragments in isolation, but rather isolated temporarily from the totality of experience. Every word is a metaphor, and metaphor can be dialed in and out of context as dictated by the preference of the interpreter. Even when we are looking at something which has been written, we can argue over whether a chapter means this or that, whether or not the author intended to mean it. We accept that some meanings arise unintentionally within metaphor, and when creating art or writing a book, it is not uncommon to glimpse and develop meanings which were not planned.

To choose has a lower limit, between the personal and the sub-personal which deals with the difference between accidents and ‘on purpose’ where accidents are assumed to demand correction, and there is an upper limit on choice between the personal and the super-personal in which we can calibrate our tolerance toward accidents, possibly choosing to let them be defined as artistic or intuitive and even pursuing them to be developed.

I think that this lensing of choice into upper and lower limits, is, like red and blue shift, a property of physics – of private physics. All experiences, feelings, words, etc can explode into associations if examined closely. All matter can appear as fluctuations of energy, and all energy can appear as changes in the behavior of matter. Reversing the figure-ground relation is a subjective preference. So too is reversing the figure-ground relation of choice and determinism a subjective preference. If we say that our choices are determined, then we must explain why there is a such thing as having a feeling that we choose. Why would there be a difference, for example, in the way that we breathe and the way that we intentionally control our breathing? Why would different areas of the brain be involved in voluntary control, and why would voluntary muscle tissue be different from smooth muscle tissue if there were no role for choice in physics? We have misunderstood physics in that we have misinterpreted the role of our involvement in that understanding.

We see physics as a collection of rules from which experiences follow, but I think that it can only be the other way around. Rules follow from experiences. Physics lags behind awareness. In the case of humans, our personal awareness lags behind our sub-personal awareness (as shown by Libet, etc) but that does not mean that our sub-personal awareness follows microphysical measurables. If you are going to look at the personal level of physics, you only have to recognize that you can intend to stand up before you stand up, or that you can create an opinion intentionally which is a compromise between select personal preferences and the expectations of a social group.

Previous Wittgenstein post here.

Many Words Interpreted: A Glossary of MSR Terms

October 1, 2013 12 comments

Many Words Interpreted: A Glossary of MSR Terms

By request, a list of neologisms and special uses of common terms within Multisense Realism.

First edition.

Absolute – In many philosophical schools and mystical traditions, there is a concept of the Absolute. Often it is associated with God or nothingness, and there are many terms such as Om, Tao, Ein Sof, Totality, Being, Brahman, Zero Point Field which function as Transcendental Signifiers. In MSR, the Absolute has a more specific definition. Since sense is supposed to be more primitive than either physics or ontology, the Absolute is understood to be the ‘largest’ (most inclusive) inertial frame, which is also the greatest (most exclusive) perceptual frame. This concept of the Absolute can be described as ‘eternity with all of the space and time sucked out’, or ‘instantaneous eternity’, as the unity of all perceptions and experiences would have no sink or eraser to separate itself into multiple ‘nows’.  The Absolute is not necessarily a ‘real’ thing, as reality itself is, under MSR, a confluence of sensory correspondences with and against the Absolute. While we are here in spacetime, bodies are real and the Absolute is make-believe. From the Absolute perspective, all phenomena, including bodies would be equally real and unreal. See also: Sole Entropy Well.

ACME-OMMM – Stands for Anything Can Mean Everything and Only Material Matters Matter. These represent the two proposed extremes of philosophical bias. In MSR, the ACME pole is always mapped on the right hand side (for Eastern or Oriental) of the continuum as the absolutist defense of naive idealism. In contemporary terms, this would include all purely spiritual conceptions of the universe in which physics is fictionalized or subsumed as thought-energy. The left hand or Western side of the continuum is the OMMM end, where all feeling and awareness is mechanized as accidental consequence of physical or mathematical law.

Aesthetic – Within MSR, the term aesthetic takes on a greater meaning than ordinary usage assumes. Just as general anesthesia is equivalent to unconsciousness and a local anesthetic is used to numb tactile sensation, and synesthesia describes the mixing of sensory modalities, the term aesthetic should be taken to mean the common quality which all direct awareness shares. All experiences are fundamentally aesthetic presentations or presences, within which anesthetic representations can be added (through symbolic logic, mathematics, intellectual modeling, etc)

Aesthetic presence or aesthetic presentation refers to a concrete experience marked by sensory qualities or qualia, such as a visible shape, tangible feel, flavor, color, sound, etc. It would not include abstract mathematical entities, forces, fields, statistics, computations, etc which could only be presumed to have an anesthetic, de-presentational influence, or else represent an aesthetic presence beyond our detection. Under MSR, only those experiences which have an aesthetic presence are genuinely ‘real’, while all other information-theoretic constructs are considered figures or representations within some aesthetic presentation. These words are only figures on a screen, and through the experience of seeing their shape, we are able to ‘hear a voice’ in our mind. If we were not present to read this text, they would have no pattern at all. The electronic states of the screen and computer would have no more significance than sand on a beach cycling through days and nights.

Aion, Psyche, Nous, Hyparxis – These are referred to in a this cosmogonic diagram in which the Classical Greek terms are paired with suggested modern equivalents. Under MSR, space is a localizing consequence of entropy (the attenuation of sense) and time is the expression of significance (limits on the saturation of sense). The combined plenum of space-entropy/time-significance can be thought of as Aion, meaning age but also the totality of self. The polar opposite of Aion in this view is Hyparxis, which has to do with being and subsistence and on the diagram is paired with mass, but it is intended here as the sense of mass as felt embodiment. Psyche and Nous correspond to qualia and quanta here, also with quanta also including a logical attitude.

Altruistic Monad – The Altruistic Monad has precedent in some mystical traditions such as Kabbalah. In MSR, the idea is that in some sense the Absolute is eternity ‘holding its breath’. Another metaphor is a clock that is so slow that after the end of forever it would still not have completed a single tick. In the mean time, the diffraction of the Monad (Totality of experience) into localized experiences within experiences continues on in a diffracting, self-diagonalizing manner. As the outermost and innermost inertial frame of all experience, the Absolute is in a sense sacrificing itself for the common good of the universe. See also Sole Entropy Well.

Anesthetic Representation – To understand the symbol grounding problem, it may be helpful to focus on the fact that computer program does not require a screen to run. In fact, a computer does not need to use graphic displays or even geometry to operate ‘as if’ those forms were present. This need not get into any esoteric philosophical discussion about consciousness, it is simply a fact that Turing emulations of geometric forms are not themselves geometric, they are shapeless configurations of binary code which can be expressed as musical notes or electrical signals just as easily as they can be screen drawings of shapes. If that were not the case, there would be no need for screens or sound cards as we could directly tap into the inherent aesthetic qualities of the data. The anesthetic property of data is, of course, the great strength  of digital computation. This universal code, under Church-Turing thesis, allows any measurable data to be computed in the same (anesthetic, generic, universal) way. This anesthetic property is also the greatest weakness of digital, as it strips out all proprietary anchoring, and we will forever be chasing more secure authentication and control over intellectual property. Because only aesthetic presence can be ‘real’, all representations must borrow from an existing aesthetic modality (like sight or sound) to be presented. Representations are, therefore, not independent entities or experiences, they figures of common sense. Binary representations are figures of Absolutely common sense.

Anomalous Symmetry – Describes the relation between the physical and experiential as being symmetric (as electric and magnetic fields) but ontologically perpendicular or orthogonal at the macroscopic level. Experiential qualities are seen as primary and fundamental in an absolute sense (reversing Locke’s model of primary and secondary qualities), but through the ingression of entropy (as spacetime through the Big Diffraction), they diverge into eigenmorphism. In MSR jargon, the meta-phoric Absolute diffracts itself endophorically and exometrically to derive exomorphic representations at the bottom of the stack,

Aperture of Consciousness – Applied to states of human consciousness, particularly with the scope of human awareness. Using a camera metaphor, increased sensitivity (as in childhood or under a similarly vulnerable psychological state) is associated with short range sensory interest. The moment expands to an arbitrarily long duration, and emotions can feed back on themselves until the point of euphoria or panic. When the proposed (metaphorical) aperture of awareness is more contracted (as a sober and serious adult), the depth of field has a longer range, making the thought process more quantitative than qualitative – circumspect, strategic, logical, etc, but relatively cold, distant, and uncreative.

Apocatastatic Gestalt or Transrational Algebra – Taken from apocatastasis, meaning “reconstitution, restitution, or restoration to the original or primordial condition” and algebra, “al-jabr “restoration”, MSR posits that the nature of subjective experience is one in which gaps in sense (entropy, spacetime) are removed or elided. This is contrary to the conventional view that experience is assembled only from the bottom up, by neurochemical processes to arrive at an illusory whole. Instead, the perceptual event is a process which restores a distant or decomposed aesthetic to a sensible whole within the local frame of experience. It is transrational as the process is not driven only by logical algebras or topological manifolds, but by semantic content which is not necessarily spatiotemporally bound. This is more of an Ur-Algebra, from which algebras and geometries are produced, but the multiplexed nature of felt significance goes far beyond localized logic.

Arithmetic supremacy – The conviction that epistemology is limited to quantitative measurement, and that such measurements are objectively and universally true. This would be considered a monosense unrealism in MSR terms; a schema which de-presents realism as an emergent property of a fundamental representational code.

Authenticity vs Automaticity – The theme of orthogonality finds yet another expression in the contrast between that which is grounded in a unique and unrepeatable history and that which is mechanically generated. A forgery or paint by numbers painting for example, are inauthentic because they are produced by imitation of an existing pattern – there is no original pattern being generated. Automation relies on copying, but has no appreciation of the difference between an original and a copy. All computation is a simulation – a figurative index of generic symbols without proprietary or iconic transfer. To automate is to reduce an experience to a skeletal abstraction, a recording of a function to be repeated unconsciously or in a deterministically regulated way. From the human personal perspective, human consciousness relies on a lot of automatic sub-personal functions, however there is no reason to assume that like our own personhood, our sub-personhood is not also rooted in a fundamental authenticity. Our personal awareness seems notoriously unique in some sense. Identity appears to gain appeal through proprietary achievement rather than automatic operation.

Big Diffraction – Thinking of the Big Bang realistically, it would not be possible for a phenomenon which gives rise to space and time to begin from a location in space or time. Having no space from which to observe it from, and no moment to experience it in, the BB cannot be considered to have occurred as an event, nor can it have an exterior view. We are therefore still within the Big Bang, and it is an event which is always happening, or never happening – more the axis in the center of a spiral of time than a terminal point along a time line. Because of this, the BB cannot be an explosion into an evacuated space (which does not yet exist), so that it is more rational to suppose a kind of shattering or falling apart into time. Because the original Monad is beyond time, it is not shattered itself, but rather the sense of separation would be added on top of the essential unity, thus producing a diffraction pattern of variations on top of variations linking Absolute unity with the promise of Absolute dissolution.

Cardinal position, ordinal disposition – Contrasting cardinality and ordinality from mathematics and pairing them with spatiotemporal terms of position and disposition, a concise description of certain aspects of private and public realism can be arrived at. Cardinality gives us a pool of a particular size, in which each member is a generic but unique part. Pairing that with position gives an idea of bodies in space. Using a chess board as an example, the number of pieces and positions on the board would be the cardinal position. The moves that any given piece can make at any time would be the ordinal position. The Cardinal disposition would be the value of a piece by virtue of its rarity – so a pawn would have a lower cardinal disposition than bishop just because of the number available. In ordinal disposition, rank is formalized intentionally rather than statistically. The king has more value than a bishop, even if there is only one bishop left. This concept comes into play in the consideration of awareness and life originating in primordial improbability rather than the anthropic principle.

Chameleon brain – (or p-Zelig instead of a p-zombie), an artificial intelligence which would impersonate behaviors of whatever environment it was placed into. Unlike a philosophical zombie, (which would have no personal qualia but seem like it does from the outside), the chameleon brain would explicitly forbid having any particular qualia, since its entire processing would be devoted to computing cross-modal generalities. It is intentionally not trying to be a person, it is only trying to mirror anything – clouds, wolves, dandelions, whatever, according to the measurements it takes using a large variety of peripheral detectors. The point of this is to expose the leaky p-vacuum which assumes qualia as a inherent within information/computation.

Cosmoscopic – To round out traditional levels of description by scale as macroscopic and microscopic, cosmoscopic refers to phenomena which seem to us as laws of physics or mathematical truths. The cosmoscopic scale is the scale at which scale does not matter, as the vast overlap between nuclear physics and astrophysics suggests.

De-Presentation – In his book “Aping Mankind”, Raymond Tallis argues that the over reaching of neuroscience and evolution (he calls Neuromania and Darwinitis) has lead to a failure to consider humanity in its own terms. Taking that concept further, and making it more literal, de-presentation is the idea that reducing human consciousness to the intersection of neurochemical and evolutionary mechanisms effectively denies any worldly presentation of human experience. All that we have ever known or will ever know is de-presented as statistical fluctuations in a void.

Depth of field – See aperture of consciousness.

Disimmediation – What optical illusions, lens flares, continuity errors, breaking character, and winking at the camera have in common. A medium is a channel of communication or sensory experience in which other, non-presented experiences are inferred and represented. Because our human psychology is highly suggestible, we can readily ‘immediate‘, or suspend disbelief of a media source, allowing us to modulate how much we want to pretend that something which pretends to be real is real. There is something more, however, than just playing along with illusions or being disillusioned with a glitch in a technology. If we pay attention to the aesthetic particulars of the glitch – the scratches on the record, the pixelation of a digitally compressed video, we can see that they contain clues as to the mechanisms behind the media. Disimmediation is a window into other PIFs, to optics or computation, analog or digital recording, screenwriting and theatrical production, etc.

Eigenmorphism – A general term to describe a set of possible ways in which a phenomena can be transposed. In particular, pansensitivity makes use of eigenmorphism to describe how physical and phenomenal properties might be isomorphic on the micro level, but contra-morphic on the macro-level, and multivalent on the absolute level. If we think of an atom as having a microphenomenal experience, we tend to assume that the experience would have to be very primitive and relate directly to the physical forces acting upon the atom. That could be part of the bias expected under perceptual relativity, but if not, that would reflect a very different psychophysical translation than we see at the macro level, where the literal activity within a human brain has little to do with the experiential content of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This dramatic difference is the basis to propose that between the macro, micro, and cosmological scales, there is an envelope of eigenstate like increments through which scale of form and content is modulated. Size can be measured not just by comparison of physical dimension, but also by the angle or gap between aesthetic depth and quantitative complexity. Simple structures have shallow experience, but deep experiences not only have complex structures but they have orders of magnitude more degrees of freedom from that structure. They have increased potential for imagination and privacy.

Emergence and Divergence – The concept of emergence and emergentism supposes that consciousness is an emergent property of physical or mathematical law. It is a popular concept, as everyone can understand how something like tool use could emerge from an opposable thumb. There are problems when applying this to consciousness however, since, unlike a hand holding a stone, there is no physical basis to expect a potential for “experience” to appear if it were not already present. Indeed, invisibility or teleportation would be a more plausible trait for an organism to evolve out of thin air. Divergence, then, is the consideration of primordial identity pansensitivity, in which the universe that we experience outside of our bodies is a subset of the totality of experience (Absolute), so that nothing can emerge ‘from nothing’ but rather it is reduced, diffracted, and divergent from everything.

Entropic frames / Holotrophic frames – The view of private and public phenomena which emphasizes layers of novelty-producing feeling juxtaposed with structured routines.

Entropy-Significance – The word entropy is used in different ways for different purposes. In MSR, entropy is used in a broad sense, encompassing thermodynamic, information, and aesthetic sensitivity. MSR posits that entropy is a consequence of significance, which also is used in a broad sense of meaning, aesthetic dynamism, and signal coherence. Loschmidt’s Paradox brings up the question of how the universe could perpetually be in a state of increasing entropy without an initial low entropy to start with. The Sole Entropy Well hypothesis offered here reverses the assumption of entropy as an increasing value so that it is significance which is absolute, and entropy which constitutes a local masking of it, The mask is what is expanding relative to the significance of the totality, but the totality is always gaining back what is lost through perception. Significance is the chunking up of experience made possible by the deprivations and isolations of spacetime diffraction. When we observe the public universe unraveling into entropy, it is our own appreciation of our position in the universe which contributes to the other side of the balance sheet. Entropy and significance are background and foreground, partners in Aion.

Everythingness – Through the hypothesis of Primodial Identity Pansensitivity and the Sole Entropy Well, the notion of a Universe From Nothing is turned on its head. All such notions arise from a leaky assumption of nothingness in which many sensible conditions are already present and taken for  granted, such as oscillation, repetition, probability, multiplicity, etc. A true nothingness could contain no sense, no possibilities, no connection to anything at all, lest the nothingness would become contaminated with not-nothing. By flipping the assumption of nothingness, PIP begins with an Absolute totality that subdivides itself into multiple channels or diffractions, giving space and time as modulations of sense capacity. This Big Diffraction cosmology coincides with pre-scientific thought in Western Mysticism and Eastern Philosophy.

Exomorphic, Exometric, Endophoric, Phoric, Solitrophic – In some diagrams, these terms are used to specify the proposed symmetry through which primordial pansenitivity, with its ‘phoric’ sensibilities (phor, as in metaphor, semaphor, and euphoria has to do with carrying, as in carrying meaning) divides itself into three variations. Endophoric is the first diffraction, using rhythmic repetition to scale and separate experiences into more ‘interior’ feelings. This is the content of perception or qualia. If the Endophoric diffraction carries the phoric inward, what is left out is polarized from the perspective of qualia, making a second diffraction to the exomorphic (thermodynamic bodies/matter-energy) and the exometric (mathematical functions/space). Solitrophic is used to describe the production of individuation.

Experiential Entropy – Related to Entropy-Significance, experiential entropy describes the effect that distance, both literal and figurative, has on significance and personal identification. The incorporation of sensation into cosmology as a physical component which recovers diffracted significance by eliding space and time metaphorically is a huge undertaking, but this at least points to one way of approaching it.

Form-function – Adapted from interpretations of the Stone duality in which topologies are dual to logical algebras, form-function is used to refer to public phenomena. All that can be measured must have either a form with a position, or a function which can be inferred from the disposition of a form. In MSR, form-functions are seen as special cases within phoric pansensitivity, so that they do not exist in isolation but rather always as experiences to be appreciated aesthetically and participated in directly.

Fourth Wall – Breaking the fourth wall is a theatrical term that refers to an instance where a performer does something to indicate the unreality of the performance, such as wink at the audience or look directly into the camera and speak to the viewers. MSR seeks to break the fourth wall of philosophy of mind by addressing subjective experience directly, bypassing the omniscient voyeur with an improved philosophical vacuum.

Genius Palette – The inexplicable aspect of a sensory palette, such as the transition from red to yellow within the spectrum. The transition from blue to indigo is readily understandable by comparison, and corresponds to what we might expect from a smooth continuum of graduated wavelengths, however, the comparatively jarring shift from red to yellow is more difficult to justify. This unjustifiable quality could become understandable, perhaps under a more complete conscious state than human beings are ordinarily privy to, or perhaps this is an example pure creativity beyond all reason. At root, every sensory palette has a genius palette which separates it from all other sensory modalities. Synesthesia is fascinating as it shows that these palettes are permeable to each other, and that human consciousness can smoothly integrate words, numbers, and concepts with flavors, colors, sounds, and images.

Gepetto complex – A term to denote a confirmation bias toward Strong AI. The prominent divide between machines and living organisms is minimized or denied as the enthusiasm for computational theory is emphasized over all potential objections.

Holographic Celebrity – The etymology of the word celebrate contains the meaning “to frequent in great numbers” as well as “to publish; sing praises of; practice often”, and “kept solemn”. Thus there is a potential basis to connect popularity, frequency and fidelity.  Whether an event is solemn of joyful, we say that the occasion is celebrated. Any event which is celebrated, or person who is a celebrity automatically implicates the ensemble of fictions and facts associated with it. Every time Martin Luther King day is celebrated, the issues of civil rights, race, and freedom, as well as the 1960s civil rights movement and his role in it, are, like a hologram, or perhaps a ceremonial candle, re-illuminated.

hypostition – A counter-logic to superstition in which a robotic, overly literal approach is applied to nature. Reductionism and pseudoskepticism combine for an overall cynical extremism in epistemology which effectively rules out all possibility but existentialism at best and nihilism at worst. Where the supersitious mind anthropomorphizes, the hypostitious mind mechanemorphizes. Everything that could be considered miraculous or special in some way is compulsively stripped of importance and dismissed as illusion, error, or trickery.

Immediation – The fusing or eliding of difference among perceptual inertial frames. Accepting a given sense channel as whole or true. This applies to our own consciousness as well, since under MSR, personal awareness is a high level sense channel (high level in that it includes or immediates many sense modalities). As a single sense modality, the cues of its disimmediation include dizziness, confusion, delirium, and ‘blacking out’. Our consciousness includes signs to represent its own absence.

Immediacracy

1. A state of idealized interaction between individuals and the culture as a whole, which utilizes continuous and ubiquitous network availability and is unburdened by barriers to usability. A completely transparent, universal, participatory, and immersive communication medium.2. A principle by which information is prioritized to favor and to demand rapidity, convenience, and heightened naturalism. The rise of reality television and social networking can be said to have displaced more traditional forms of media with its immediacratic appeal.3. A process of artificial selection wherein decisions are based solely on the criteria of expedience. A broad social condition of evolutionary outcomes driven by short-term or petty consideration.

Immereology – Mereology is the study of the relation between wholes and parts (is a handle part of a mug or is it a thing of its own?). The idea of immereology is that private experience contains not only forms and functions which can be understood in terms of parts and wholes, but they can also contain the opposite types of phenomena. Deeply subjective experiences in particular seem to be fugues of feelings and expectations which are neither part, whole, nor non-part or whole.

Imposter – Discussed in this post, there is an expectation of authenticity which is not presented in quantitative function. The uncanny valley effect is an example of how artificial or mechanical imitations compare unfavorably with originals, and what that reveals about life and death, zombies, fame, and semiotics.

Information – Used in a new way within MSR. Breaking it down as in-form-ation, the ‘in’ and the ‘form’ correspond to the phoric and morphic respectively, while ‘ation’ corresponds to the metric. The purpose is to correct the impression that information is a commodity which can exist independently of perception. The contemporary usage of ‘information’ which leaves out awareness and interiority is actually a mislabeling of ‘formation’. Data, without being grounded in an aesthetic experience, is understood within MSR to be a figurative abstraction.

IPT, EPT, IPS, EPSThis diagram attempts to map consciousness from the individual’s perspective. Here, privacy is defined in terms of Interior and Exterior facing time, and the public body is defined in spatial terms of Internal and External exposure. The purpose of the diagram is to show how time exists as multiple wheel-like contexts of varying scale according to the frequency of repeating experiences. It is proposed that part of what individual consciousness does is to fracture space from time so that they are perceptually offset – a fugue of times funnel down to a conditional ‘now’, at which point the sense of ‘here’ becomes a nexus of intersecting ‘there’s,

Istence – As “Qua” is to qualia and quanta, “Istence” is a term proposed to describe a common umbrella above existence and insistence. In MSR, existence is generally reserved to describe public existence as a body or particle in space as seen from a private perspective, while insistence is a private experience which can be influence some public effect. Both insistence and existence are understood to diverge or diffract from istence, which unites and divides the two poles through sensory discernment and Ouroboran monism.

Light – Is light made of photons, optics, or visual experiences? MSR uses the term light to describe the sensible continuum which includes all three, as well as propose a new post-particle, post-velocity model of light in which photons themselves may be figurative experiences rather than literal physical form-functions.

Likeness – Etymologically, the word ‘like’ was used in the reverse order that we now use. “That dress likes you.” would mean that the dress looks good on you – it flatters you. Herein lies a hint about the connection between euphoric feelings that we ‘like’, and similarity across patterns. Two kinds of likeness share a common sense which refers to mutual reflection; symmetry, harmony, rhyme, and reason. Sense is what makes black and white like each other in one way and maximally unlike each other in another way. Likeness also figures into philosophical primitives such as difference and repetition. Likeness can be the opposite of both difference and repetition, as well as the opposite of indifference. It is a rediscovery of the primary unity which precedes difference, yet remains undiscoverable prior to differentiation. Likeness is the echo of the unrepeatable – a copy of originality which is also original.

Literal / Figurative – Generally used to further qualify the difference between public bodies and private experiences. The word ‘literal’ implies a discrete, factual presence, while ‘figurative’ emphasizes that a leap of intuition is required to fully appreciate some loose grouping of concepts or sensations. It is worth nothing that the ‘literal’ meaning of literal refers to reading and the literal meaning for figurative refers to concrete figures or shapes. Thus, the meaning on the etymological level is reversed on the contemporary semantic level.

Logic / Sense – Logic includes all indirect modes of sense making, where representations stand in for actual experiences. Sense includes logic (as it includes everything) but logic is the particular subset of sense reserved for the unfelt and impersonal. Logic is seen as the essence of objectivity, and as such, it has inherently reductionist mechanisms which filter out all references to direct awareness. Because logic is designed to be insulated from sense, any map of the world or of consciousness is bound to place intellectual rules, forms, and functions above feelings and aesthetics.

Mechanemorphism – Conceived as the polar opposite to anthropomorphism. A common criticism from the Western view of the world is that all other views are anthropomorphic, and thus naive and backwards. With mechanemorphism, there is a recognition that the opposite of bad can also be bad. Abandoning the view of a cosmic creator should not scientifically entail embracing a view of a clockwork cosmos, but it appears that by default most people will tend toward that without considering the possibility of confirmation bias and reactive reasoning.

Mediation Boundary – Closed captioning of music is an example of the failure of any particular medium to represent every kind of experience. Another example is the inability to portray subjective states such as drunkenness. An actor can behave as if they were drunk, or the image can be blurred or drift to suggest dizziness, but these are mere suggestions of heavy intoxication. There is no way to visually portray altered states of consciousness in their full dimension, unlike public places and people which can be rendered on film with high immediation.

Monosense Unrealism – The polar opposite of MSR, in the sense that it characterizes a philosophy of reductionism to a single aesthetic type (material, ideal, or information, usually). The result is a de-presentation of naive realism, such that it can only exist in as an unacknowledged and unreal dual to the favored monosense. Of eliminative materialism, for example, we might ask what is it that is being eliminated? In spiritual conception of the world as illusion (maya), we might ask what makes it different from the non-illusion which generates it?

Motive – If sense describes a fundamental receptivity which precedes being or feeling, motive describes the antithesis: doing, responding, opposing, negating, projecting, moving, etc. If sense is affect, then motive is effect. If sense is the head, then motive is the flagellum (or tail or body). Because human experience is so convoluted with layers of molecules, cells, organs, and bodies, our motive participation can be limited to private intentions, or it can be stepped down through the body as motor activity. Were we simpler organisms, or perhaps inorganic molecules, our motive might be more isomorphic to our motion. On that more primitive level, the gap between intention and unintention may be closed, and subjectivity and objectivity becomes, at least from our perspective, indiscernible. Whether that closing of the gap is a prejudice of perceptual relativity, or an ontological reality, or a mixture of the two remains an open question under eigenmorphism.

Multisense Continuum – Initially linked to a graphic mural, the proposed continuum is a spectrum to contain every category of phenomena in a sensible order. Ideally, the mural would be projected as a sphere, as the far Eastern and far Western edges meet (called the Profound Edge), as would the top and bottom (Polar Divide).

Multisense Realism (MSR) – Not a postulate of multiple realities or even multiple senses of ‘real’, MSR proposes that realism is derived as a secondary condition of overlapping sense channels (PIFs), which have been diffracted. Like a musical chord or the continuity of the visible spectrum, the wholeness which underlies realism arises from the reuniting of locally broken absolutes into stereomorphs (solid forms) . Reuniting is accomplished by successful disimmediation, stripping out (eliding) spacetime entropy through validation aesthetics (understanding, completeness, perfection, knowledge, mutual correspondence, etc).

Myth of Primordial Objectivity – The philosophical cliche which begins “If a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody around to hear it…” probably stems from an oversimplification of George Berkeley’s idealism in which he questions the assumption for objects as we imagine them to stand on their own without our imagining. In some ways, his view presaged (or perhaps contributed to) the Copenhagen interpretation of early quantum mechanics in which the Observer Principle was defined to account for Heisenberg’s Uncertainty. Unfortunately, views which include experiential and aesthetic dynamics are often trivialized in physics and mathematics, where, it can be argued, objectivity is a fundamental assumption. In math and physics, conditions ‘simply are’ whether or not they ‘seem to be’ in any particular experience. MSR seeks to rehabilitate the full force of Berkeleyan idealism by removing the constraint of human or even biological exceptionalism and arriving at a primordial identity pansensitivity.

Negative Aleph (-ℵ) – A symbol to represent sense used in diagrams. Mathematics uses Aleph numbers represent infinite cardinality. To translate the quantifiable aspects of sense into mathematical terms, the idea of negative cardinality has some appeal. Since cardinality conceives of such a primitive function of numbers (the sense of shapeless, yet precisely ordered “size” that we afford to pure quantities), in order to accurately place sense beneath measure and numbers, we might speak in terms of sense having incardinality, i.e. infinite pre-cardinality and infinite post-cardinality. Sense bleeds through quantitative partitions, as a spectrum bleeds across a diffraction grating or a melody bleeds across individual notes. No particular note is an indispensable part of a song, and any song can have many different renditions, each carrying some sense of style, intention, and character of the musician.  In this way, the mathematically viable aspects of sense can be understood as ”the transmeasurable context of experience from which numbers (and all measurement of measurables) can arise”.

Non-Well-Founded Identity Principle – Using the theory of non-well-founded sets (groups in which the group is a member within itself), a number based concept is proposed to replace the standard A=A principle of identity. This is to reflect the extra care that is necessary to avoid assuming isolation and nothingness, which, under MSR, can only exist as a representation. See also Likeness and Sole Entropy Well.

Occam’s Catastrophe – Occam’s Razor is a popular rule of thumb in considering possible theories. The principle of parsimony – that simple explanations are most often the truest explanations would seem to be thrown out the window under MWI. It seems that Multi-Worlds Interpretations of QM would have an entire universe be conjured out of nowhere for every interaction of every crumb on a dust mite’s back…all to avoid the possibility that the universe could include intentional causes as well as probabilistic ones.

Omniscient voyeur – “The View From Nowhere” is the title of one of Thomas Nagel’s book. It references the ability of humans to view the world in a detached way, a view from ‘nowhere in particular’.  While the capacity to objectify has been crucial for human intelligence and the development of science, it is not without a cost, particularly when approaching fundamentals such as the origin of consciousness and existence. Assuming objects without subjects can be understood to constitute a leaky philosophical vacuum, which may allow qualities that belong exclusively to awareness to be smuggled in where it does not belong and become prematurely naturalized in our minds.  See also, the Myth of Primordial Objectivity.

Oriental vs Western – The accidental convention of using the right side for subjective phenomena and the left side for objective phenomena in mapping the multisense continuum turned out to have some interesting etymological and anthropological significance. The use of the term Western to relate to pragmatic, scientific, and commercial outlooks contrasts with stereotypically mysterious ‘Eastern” philosophy gives an unexpected cultural context to Philosophy of Mind. There is a cognitive connection which relates East to the sunrise and to orientation as well. By using Orient vs Western instead of Oriental vs Occidental, the intention is to amplify the split between traditional and modern. The story of modernism has been a Westward migration geographically, and metaphorically to the ‘Left”, toward objectified physics and deconstruction of the self.

Ouroboran monism – Uses the self-consuming metaphor of Ouroboros to describe how materialism, idealism, and dualism are all part of a single twisting or involuted continuum (like a Klein Bottle of Mobius loop). The result is a monism which is not only singular in its inclusiveness of all phenomena, it is also singular in its coherence on one level in spite of diffracting into multiplicities of self reflection/negation on another.

Over and under signification – Within materialism, subjectivity could be said to be under-signified. Within idealism, objectivity is treated in a similar way. Both extremes over-signify their own perspective at the expense of the other, however, this relation can be seen as just another face of perceptual relativity. Is it wrong to see the duck or is it wrong to see the rabbit? MSR attempts to bring this reconciliation within philosophy of mind by producing an ontological model based on the continuum of sense in which duck and rabbit are only two possibilities along a universal spectrum.

p-vacuum – see philosophical vacuum

p-Zelig – An alternative to philosophical zombie (p-zombie) , borrowing the name from the title of the Woody Allen about a character who takes on the physical traits of those around him. See chameleon brain.

Pansensitivity and Panmechanism – Taking a cue from panpsychism, panmechanism and pansensitivity are two new variations to represent the role of awareness in the universe. Pansensitivity specifies a primitive aspect of nature which is felt or detected in some way, but not necessarily as a ‘mental’ phenomenon or human-like experience. Panmechanism would assert the opposite primitive, that all phenomena is fundamentally unconscious. In spite of the popularity of panmechanistic views, the evidence of our own experience makes them difficult to take seriously unless some plausible link could be found to bridge the Explanatory Gap. MSR takes pansensitivity further, to Primordial Identity Pansensitivity.

Perceptual Inertia – MSR considers perception, including inner perceptions, to be the universal underpinning of physics. As such, it is proposed that experiences themselves accumulate a kind of aesthetic momentum. Local intentions, over time, acquire associations from other experiential frames. The weaving together of multiple perceptual histories is known in MSR as perceptual inertial frames, and the weaving itself is known as soltrophy.

Perceptual Inertial Frame (PIF) – In practice, this concept is similar to other philosophical concepts such as lebenswelt, umwelt, or niche in that it refers to the world as it is experienced by some subject. The perceptual inertial frame of a child is different from that of an adult, as would any age or social position have its own set of stereotypical qualities. Eigenmorphism describes how dissimilarity by scale, morphology, or history is a determining factor in how any given PIF presents every other PIF. This is roughly analogous to how optics can predict the anamorphic reflection of a reflective cylinder or the distortion of a fisheye lens. Tying in occasions of perception to the physics concept of inertial frames, the PIF model provides a framework for connecting universal and physical ontology to local experiential scope and quality, and it provides a possible scientific basis to investigate that connection further. See also eigenmorphism, solitrophy.

Perceptual Relativity – Perception is profoundly relativistic. Certain optical illusions can be used to help us understand concepts like opponent processing and multistable perception. What looks like dark grey next to white will look like light grey next to black, and indications of shadow and naturalistic form contribute also to perception. General and Special Relativity, in a very different way, assume perception-like definitions of physics.  What is relativity if not some sensible relation? The main difference between the concept of inertial frames and multistable perception is that perception is private and presumed limited to living organisms, while physical groupings are public and considered universal to all material bodies. If that is true, it would make sense that both materialism and idealism (whether spiritual or information-theoretic) would mythologize presentation into fictional terms. Both material and ideal monisms, through their absolutist de-presentation of naive realism, subscribe to unacknowledged dualisms. Materialism and idealism do not explain each other, they only label each other illusions or emergent properties. Philosophy of Mind it seems, is itself a feature of perceptual relativity.

Perceptual Stack – Refers to the stack of perceptual inertial frames (PIFs) which constitute an experience or modality of consciousness. For example, what you are reading is a stack of perceptions ranging from the sub-personal (pixels > loops and lines) to the personal (letters > words > sentences > meaning) to the super-personal (coincidence and timing, metaphorical insights). See also Entropic frames / Holotrophic frames.

Philosophical Vacuum (p-vacuum) – It is said that Descartes formulated his famous cogito ergo sum (je pense, donc je suis: I think therefore I am) by methodically questioning every bit of reality that he could. Pretending that an evil demon was supplying him with “a complete illusion of an external world, including other minds”, Descartes found that he could doubt everything with the exception of his own thought.  In modern contexts, philosophical approaches such as computationalism and eliminativism challenge the supremacy of the solipsistic approach, citing neurological or informational phenomena as underpinning conscious personal awareness. MSR seeks to empty the field of assumptions even farther, to the point of absolute incoherence – to the point at which sense itself cannot be questioned by virtue of the inherent sensibility of questions and doubt. The perfect philosophical vacuum can include only the minimum ingredient required to provide for itself. Called sense in MSR, this ingredient is suggested to be a primordial capacity to receive and appreciate affect and to participate or project effect. Information and physics are seen to require sense as a precursor, so that while Descartes may have been premature in assuming personal cognition as primordial, modern mechanism may be equally premature in assuming automation. As a cosmological foundation, sense is not limited to human experience or biological experience. To the contrary, all phenomena are deemed to extend from some experienced perspective on some level, since there can be no difference between that which can never be experienced and that which does not exist.

Post-Particle Physics, aka Quorum Mechanics – A reinterpretation of quantum mechanical phenomena as fundamental feelings through which private presentations and public representations are metabolized. By pansensitivity, measurable phenomena are presumed not to emerge from nothingness (or nothingness-like-fluctuations) but rather they diverge from everythingness through self-convoluting insensitivity. What is measured by physics is not reality, it is the body’s measurement of the interactions of other bodies and instruments, themselves already fixed and frozen as facades within a stack of perceiver-specific inertial frames. This inverts the assumptions of both materialism and computationalism, such that all realized forms and functions, all particles and waves, are, from the Absolute perspective, the expressed antithesis of the primordial identity (pansensitivity).

Presentation Problem – Since even before Descartes substance dualism, Philosophy of Mind has been preoccupied with the gap between nature and mankind. Many different thinkers have posed questions which relate to self and world, mind and body, or mind and brain. MSR posits an essential theme which runs across the most important philosophical problems in that they all are really asking how we can account for the presentation of experience as aesthetic phenomena. MSR posits a solution to this problem, which includes the Hard Problem of Consicousness, the Explanatory Gap, the Symbol Grounding Problem, and the Binding or Combination Problem whereby aesthetic sensory experience is actually the fundamental metaphysical agenda.
Totality

Primordial Identity Pansensitivity (PIP) – Asserts that pansensitivity is not only a pervasive physical force, it is the sole ontological primitive, from which all forces, fields, energies, and dimensions diverge. Under PIP, ontology itself supervenes on sense. Striving for the perfect philosophical vacuum, no premise of rationality or sanity is taken for granted, it must be constructed within a ‘bare metal operating system’ of sensory participation.

Primordial improbability – A strange idea which relates awareness to coincidence, mutation, and statistical probability. By inverting the assumption of probability as inevitable (which is really only a naive intuition as far as I can tell, and could relate to local conditions rather than Absolute conditions), improbability emerges as a kind of fixed immeasurability from which all measure and rational expectation emerges. The rational diverges from the trans-rational. In any statistical analysis, the probability that what is being analyzed is sentient is the least rational possibility. A technical analysis of a stock market, for example, could have exotic statistical causes ascribed to trading patterns, but could any proposed cause of a statistical pattern be more exotic than if the pattern itself reflects some kind of intentional awareness. Surely it would be insane to suggest that the stock market had a mind of its own and made decisions according to its mood, yet that is precisely the cause that we must accept to explain the coordination and coincidence of processes within our brain and body. Even if we go with an eliminative materialist explanation of mind, and call it an epiphenomenon, it would be no less strange and miraculous to have guessed that the stock market would be possessed of any similar epiphenomenology. The premise that order, life, and consciousness are somehow related to a vastness of improbability is intuitively appealing and scientifically supported already, but taking that to an extreme may yield an altogether revolutionary insight. Statistical relation, as the mechanism behind teleonomy (the machine of the machine, or the automation of automation) fits well as the the polar opposite against teleology. To sense and will intentionally is to initiate a proprietary and local break from the generic and universal, and this it’s manual control is the antithesis of automaticity by probability.

Private physics – Physicalism is not without its charms. Certainly the correlation of brain activity with subjective experience is strong enough to warrant a respect for physics in the realm of subjectivity. Even so, the vast differences between our private experience and what can be measured publicly combined with the undesirability of resorting to metaphysical influences provides ample justification for redefining all phenomena in the universe in terms of their privacy or publicity, while retaining the underlying concrete realism implied by the term ‘physics’. What we experience psychologically can only be physics, but physics, on some level of description, can only be psychological.

Profound Edge and Pedestrian Fold – Two conceptual meridians within the multisense continuum which are opposing midway points between subjectivity and objectivity. The pedestrian fold is what occurs ‘in front of our face’ as perceptions in a world of social human interaction. The profound fold is what might occur ‘behind our backs’ during extraordinary states of consciousness where personal experience seems fused with the Absoute, either directly as a mystical experience, or indirectly through understanding of complex mathematics. The contrast of ‘edge’ and ‘fold’ is intentional, as the former connotes a twilight or occult transition from private to public, while the latter is presented as a matter of fact.

Qua – The conceptual root of both quanta and qualia. Synonymous with the Absolute, sense, and pansensitivity, qua proposes that private feeling and public measurement diverge from a common sense, rather than emerge from a senseless process.

Quanta and qualia – Quanta is used here to mean quantum mechanical entities, numbers, and measurement in general. Qualia, means the ‘raw feels’ of sensation (i.e. the experience of the redness of red, as distinct from any information processing or biochemistry associated with producing that effect). Within MSR, qualia is distinct from sense only in that it has been diffracted one step so that it allows private intention. Quanta is the common residue of all diffraction – the public answer to the private question.

Qui – (who?) would be the hypothetical ‘other half’ of the quantum wavefunction, and can be represented (obnoxiously, but memorably) by the sideways letter psi. This signifies that aesthetic presence and qualitative appreciation (being and feeling) is orthogonal to the doing and knowing of quantum mechanics. Qui is not the measurement but the context of orientation from which measurement is experienced. It is explicitly neither wave, particle, form, or function, but neither is it non-wavelike, non-particle-like, formless, or unrelated to function. Qui is exactly what being alive is to us as human beings, except on a much more primitive level. It is the capacity to participate as an oscillating source of both animistic and mechanistic qualities.

Quorum mechanics  – See post-particle physics

Range and scope – Reminds us to use sense metaphors rather than abstractions such as ‘force’, ‘field’, and ‘law’. MSR suggests that all behaviors that we can observe are, on some level, a comparison of sensitivities and motivations. A radio receiver does not receive an electromagnetic field through its antenna, rather the radio is a device to exploit the natural harmonic affinity between all materials (which makes it easy to carry, for example, the vibrations of vocal chords, to microphones, to electric circuits, to broadcast towers, receivers, headphones, eardrums, and neurochemical circuits).

Sensorimotive Electromagnetism – The conjecture that magnetic and electric fields are felt directly through matter as sensory affect (magnetism) and motive effect (electricity). It may be more correct to correlate sense and motive to the interior dynamics of particle and wave, since quantum level effects can be more fundamental than electromagnetic effects, however with PIP and Post-Particle Physics, electromagnetism could be the last ‘real’ level of physics, before we begin sinking into a misinterpretation of the common sense of matter for material presences themselves. The main point is to draw the parallels between sensory-motive receiving-projecting and the binary vs analog sensibilities of electromagnetism. This view reasons that since electromagnetic changes in the brain are so closely associated with changes in consciousness, electromagnetism itself may be a primitive form of awareness. It is only our indirect measurement of electromagnetism which misleads us into assuming that EM is non-sensory.

Sensory-Motive – In biology, afferent and efferent are terms used to distinguish the nerves which receive sensory input from the motor neurons which effect a response from muscle cells. The human brain stem, likewise, has an upper and lower region. When the former is damaged, it produces a vegetative coma state (no sense). When the lower region is damaged, it produces paralysis of the body but no interruption to consciousness. Seeing this part of a universal pattern, sensory-motive phenomena is proposed as the most local description of sense. There are many morphological analogs within biology – head and tail, flower and stem, tree and trunk, etc as well as elementary particle analogs of charge and spin. Because animals are convoluted on many levels between the elementary and the zoological scales, we can distinguish between inner control of attention (motive effect) and outer influence over the body in the public world of bodies (motor effect).

Sole Entropy Well – The MSR alternative interpretation of the Big Bang is knows as the Big Diffraction. The Sole Entropy Well model assumes the Big Diffraction interpretation of boundaryless transmultiplicity rather than a pointillist singularity, and adds a solution to Loschmidt’s paradox. The paradox notes the contradiction of a universe in which total entropy is perpetually increasing, and an initial condition in which low entropy appears out of nowhere. Boltzmann’s entropy curve suggests a statistical fluctuation in low entropy conditions, which, like the metastable vacuum flux and Many Worlds Interpretation cosmologies, produce a kind sleight of hand. Instead of failing to explain one universe, they presume to show how the creation of this universe could simply be the consequence of the existence of many universes (which also cannot be explained). Bypassing this false satisfaction, the Sole Entropy Well model proposes that entropy can only arise from a single source of all significance, and that source is the capacity for sense itself. If we are talking in information theory terms, we can use ‘signal’ instead of sense, such that the capacity to send and receive signals is the always the maximally significant signifier. The highest entropy would be the loss of the capacity to connect with anything in any sense – which would be annihilation. The universe, therefore is a continuum of sense (significance production) which expands into its own modulated insensitivity (entropy diffraction, aka spacetime). See also altruistic monad.

Solitrope – A local attractor which represents, in some sense, the Absolute. Home would be the solitrope for a family. Profit for a business. Water for a living organism. The promise of solace, salvation, safety. Take Leibniz’ Monadology and add a dollop of Process Philosophy and we get something like an advertisement for the Supreme Monad – a local oasis, perfectly appealing in its opposition to ‘the whips and scorns of time’.

Solitrophy (Solitropy) – If solitropy is the tendency to want to ‘pass Go and collect $200′, then solitrophy is the desire to do more and have more each time the cycle is complete. Solitrophy is used in some esoteric diagrams to imply the weaver of worlds from the thread of entropy and significance. Solitrophy is the unacknowledged aesthetic aspect of evolution – the proliferation of richer simplicities which belie the purely statistical emergence of complexity.

sub-personal, super-personal – A more general approach to integrating what has been called the Subconscious or Id and Superego or Collective Unconscious. See Sub-private.

Sub-private, private, super-private – Terms designed to weave together math, physics, and phenomenology because they focus on privacy as an ontological feature. If we want to look at awareness from a functional perspective (disclaimer: don’t do this unless you already understand that function must rely on the aesthetic qualities of sense to generate significance), we find that privacy is a plausible justification for the difference between physical and phenomenal aesthetics. See private physics.

Superposition of the Absolute – While the concept of superposition has enjoyed wide acceptance on the microcosmic level of quantum physics, the idea of the Totality of the universe being a kind of multistable perception has not been considered. The superposition of a wavefunction is tolerated because it helps us justify what we have measured of particles once they have decohered, but under PIP, the entire cosmos can be understood to be perpetually in superposition, or perhaps meta-superposition in which fully half of the universe is in superposition and subject to private interpretation (perceptual relativity), while the other half is an accumulation of measurable histories (bodies in space). If this were true, it invites the possibility that all wavefunctions share the identical, nested, non-well-founded superposition, one which can be understood as sense or perceptual relativity itself.

Super-Signifier – Stems from the hypothesis that gods or archetypes are figures which represent superlative qualities. This can be derived from an evolutionary psychology perspective, in which stories circulating about the qualities of people and places are exaggerated into a successively fictionalized hyperbole hierarchy. To amplify the significance of good and bad into super-significance, composites of personalities are condensed as heroes and villains, divine and evil, and finally absolute divinity. From a teleological perspective, mythology, which reigns even in modern contexts as celebrity and commercial branding, is a guiding, mandala like fetish that permeates our local privacy from what could be called super-privacy or eternal privacy (aka Jung’s Collective Unconscious, the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime, etc).

Syzygy – The word syzygy can refer to either a literal alignment of three bodies, such as the Sun, Earth, and Moon during an eclipse, or figuratively as the yoking together of opposites, as in Jung’s animus and anima. Because the two meanings are opposites in the sense that the first is expressly physical and the second is psychological, the word syzygy is itself a syzygy in the second sense. The overlapping sense of mandala, monad, and syzygy is a strong theme in MSR, and many diagrams follow this pattern.

Transmeasurable or Transmultiplicity – The idea that measurability itself is only one sensible context among many, so that even infinite computation is dwarfed by finite experiential (aesthetic) qualities. .  Mathematically this translates into the suggestion that all infinite sets are actually smaller than the Absolute set (which is aesthetic under PIP) , which is technically finite but transmeasurable. The primary colors for example, Red, Green, and Blue (or Red. Yellow, and Blue) contain or reflect vastly more ‘values’ than could any quantitative description of wavelength/frequency, even when that description is divided infinitely (or into virtual sub-Planck units). Because each part of the visible spectrum represents its own location within the continuum literally as well as all color combinations figuratively, the sense of finite primary and secondary hues evokes more value than could computable wavelengths alone, even though they are potentially infinite.

Unlikelihood – See Primordial Improbability

UPP Hypothesis – A variety of pansensitive alternatives to PIP.

Wholes through holes (Subtractive coherence or Transrational Gestalt Algebras) – The property of perception to present a simple but rich sensation rather than a complex data set. Unlike a symbol, where representational meaning is specified artificially, raw perceptions are instead understood to cohere on their own level in a bi-directional fashion. We can see this as we project images and meanings on what we see due to our personal awareness and cultural influences. The Rorschach effect is more indicative of private physics than Bayesian processes – the bottom up selection means nothing without a top down expectation of simplicity and wholeness.

Yellow Light – Used as a metaphor in describing how free will can be compatible with determinism and incompatible at the same time. In a traffic light, the red and green signals are taken to issue an unambiguously deterministic command. The yellow light points to the driver to use their own awareness and judgment. The yellow light is really a meta-signal that relates to the status of the what the signal is going to do. In the same way, our will allows us to try to inject more freedom to reinterpret signals and create unprecedented intentional effects.

Diogenes Revenge: Cynicism, Semiotics, and the Evaporating Standard

September 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Diogenes was called Kynos — Greek for dog — for his lifestyle and contrariness. It was from this word for dog that we get the word Cynic.

Diogenes is also said to have worked minting coins with his father until he was 60, but was then exiled for debasing the coinage. – source

In comparing the semiotics of CS Pierce and Jean Baudrillard, two related themes emerge concerning the nature of signs. Pierce famously used trichotomy arrangements to describe the relations, while Baudrillard talked about four stages of simulation, each more removed from authenticity. In Pierce’s formulation, Index, Icon, and Symbol work as separate strategies for encoding meaning. An index is a direct consequence or indication of some reality. An icon is a likeness of some reality. A symbol is a code which has its meaning assigned intentionally.

Baudrillard saw sign as a succession of adulterations – first in which an original reality is copied, then when the copy masks the original in some way, third, as a denatured copy in which the debasement has been masked, and fourth as a pure simulacra; a copy with no original, composed only of signs reflecting each other.

Whether we use three categories or four stages, or some other number of partitions along a continuum, an overall pattern can be arranged which suggests a logarithmic evaporation, an evolution from the authentic and local to the generic and universal. Korzybski’s map and territory distinction fits in here too, as human efforts to automate nature result in maps, maps of maps, and maps of all possible mapping.

The history of human timekeeping reveals the earthy roots of time as a social construct based on physical norms. Timekeeping was, from the beginning linked with government and control of resources.

According to Callisthenes, the Persians were using water clocks in 328 BC to ensure a just and exact distribution of water from qanats to their shareholders for agricultural irrigation. The use of water clocks in Iran, especially in Zeebad, dates back to 500BC. Later they were also used to determine the exact holy days of pre-Islamic religions, such as the Nowruz, Chelah, or Yalda- – the shortest, longest, and equal-length days and nights of the years. The water clocks used in Iran were one of the most practical ancient tools for timing the yearly calendar.  source

Anything which burns or flows at a steady rate can be used as a clock. Oil lamps, candles, can incense have been used as clocks, as well as the more familiar sand hourglass, shadow clocks, and clepsydrae (water clocks). During the day, a simple stick in the ground can provide an index of the sun’s position. These kinds of clocks, in which the nature of physics is accessed directly would correspond to Baudrillard’s first level of simulation – they are faithful copies of the sun’s movement, or of the depletion of some material condition.

Staying within this same agricultural era of civilization, we can understand the birth of currency in the same way. Trading of everyday commodities could be indexed with concentrated physical commodities like livestock, and also other objects like shells which had intrinsic value for being attractive and uncommon, as well as secondary value for being durable and portable objects to trade. In the same way that coins came to replace shells, mechanical clocks and watches came to replace physical index clocks. The notions of time and money, while different in that time refers to a commodity beyond the scope of human control and money referring specifically to human control, both serve as regulatory standards for civilization, as well as equivalents for each other in many instances (‘man hours’, productivity).

In the next phase of simulation, coins combined the intrinsic and secondary values of things like shells with a mint mark to ensure transactional viability on the token. The icon of money, as Diogenes discovered, can be extended much further than the index, as anything that bears the official seal will be taken as money, regardless of the actual metal content of the coin. The idea of bank notes was as a promise to pay the bearer a sum of coins. In the world of time measurement, the production of clocks, clocktowers, and watches spread the clock face icon around the world, each one synchronized to a local, and eventually a coordinated universal time. Industrial workers were divided into shifts, with each crew punching a timeclock to verify their hours at work and breaks. While the nature of time makes counterfeiting a different kind of prospect, the practice of having others clock out for you or having a cab driver take the long way around to run the meter longer are ways that the iconic nature of the mechanical clock can be exploited. Being one step removed from the physical reality, iconic technologies provide an early opportunity for ‘hacking’.

physical territory > index local map > icon symbol > universal map
water clock, sand clock sundial/clock face digital timecode
trade > shells coins > check > paper plastic > digital > virtual
production > organization bonds > stock futures > derivatives
real estate mortgage, rent speculation > derivatives
genuine aesthetic imitation synthetic artificial emulation
non-verbal communication language data

The last three decades have been marked by the rise of the digital economy. Paper money and coins have largely been replaced by plastic cards connected to electronic accounts, which have in turn entered the final stage of simulacra – a pure digital encoding. The promissory note iconography and the physical indexicality of wealth have been stripped away, leaving behind a residue of immediate abstraction. The transaction is not a promise, it is instantaneous. It is not wealth, it is only a license to obtain wealth from the coordinated universal system.

Time has entered its symbolic phase as well. The first exposure to computers that consumers had in the 1970s was in the form of digital watches and calculators. Time and money. First LED, and then LCD displays became available, both in expensive and inexpensive versions. For a whole generation of kids, their first electronic devices were digital calculators and watches. There had been digital clocks before, based on turning wheels or flipping tiles, but the difference here was that the electronic numbers did not look like regular numbers. Nobody had ever seen numbers rendered as these kind of generic combinatorial figures before. Every kid quickly learned how to spell out words by turning the numbers upside down (you couldn’t make much.. 710 77345 spells ShELL OIL)…sort of like emoticons.

Beneath the surface however, something had changed. The digital readout was not even real numbers, they were icons of numbers, and icons which exposed the mechanics of their iconography. Each number was only a combinatorial pattern of binary segments – a specific fraction of the full 8.8.8.8.8.8.8.8. pattern. You could even see the faint outlines of the complete pattern of 8’s if you looked closely, both in LED and LCD. The semiotic process had moved one step closer to the technological and away from the consumer. Making sense of these patterns as numbers was now part of your job, and the language of Arabic numerals became data to be processed.

Since that time, the digital revolution has shaped the making and breaking of world markets. Each financial bubble spread out, Diogenes style, through the banking and finance industry behind a tide of abstraction. Ultra-fast trading which leverages meaningless shifts in transaction patterns has become the new standard, replacing traditional market analysis. From leveraged buyouts in the 1980s to junk bonds, tech IPOs, Credit Default Swaps, and the rest, the world economy is no longer an index or icon of wealth, it is a symbol which refers only to itself.

The advent of 3D printing marks the opposite trend. Where conventional computer printing to allow consumers to generate their own 2D icons from machines running on symbols, the new wave of micro-fabrication technology extend that beyond the icon and the index level. Parts, devices, food, even living tissue can be extruded from symbol directly into material reality. Perhaps this is a fifth level of simulation – the copy with no original which replaces the need for the original…a trophy in Diogenes’ honor.

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