hypostition/substitutious – The dichotomy of superstition versus what I am calling substitution (or hypostition) is an important concept within MSR. The superstitious mind sees through the text of the world to see the face of God or the Devil behind every mundane coincidence. The psyche is overly animated and profuse so that all of nature is read as supernatural and the low end is lost all together. Logic becomes confused and self-fulfilling. Fear and joy dominate reason. Every publicly extended signal becomes a privately intended message and the credibility of the source of the message collapses into naive acceptance or reactionary denial. Pathological denial and acceptance plays into the opposite mental extreme as well. The substitutious mind reduces all message content to the mere functioning of messaging devices. The mind which is attuned to this sub-natural level sees in all experience only the logical expression of simple facts. Even consciousness itself is deconstructed as an entanglement of semaphores. From this view, the poetic and aesthetic truths of the universe are unavailable, and a rigid formalism of reason dominates personal feelings.
Substitution is the 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. The term Substitution Level is used in detailed conversation about AI to refer to an assumed level at which a simulation is functionally indistinguishable from the original. This ties in to the idea that consciousness is anti-mechanism by virtue of its connection to unrepeatable novelty.
Mechanism is about repetition and automation. It is about substituting unconscious activity for personal effort and manual control. Being “substitutious” then, would be to superstitious what the compulsion to reduce everything extraordinary into something ordinary would be to the compulsion to inflate ordinary coincidence to the will of a God.
It would seem that these two poles are evenly matched – the substitutious semaphore and the superstitious metaphor could be equally valuable and costly. Further consideration reveals that they are not completely symmetric, however. The difference between the poetic and the digital are only visible from the poetic facing side. The digital is effective because it can substitute – it emulates from the bottom of a particular substitution level of granularity. Even Planck scale is a scale that bottoms out with the minimum bit depth for measurement of public physics, rather than experiential privacy which cannot be measured reliably. I submit that it cannot be measured reliably because experience cannot be substituted. Like the top-down metaphor (which I now use as meta-metaphor), consciousness extends from the absolute in a way which is unrepeatable and unprecedented, even as it repeats over and over again.
Between the bookends of sub-phor and super-phor is the phoric range of ordinary experience. Many people do not spend much time contemplating the mysteries of information science or phenomenology, and so live in the more down-to-earth realm of the ordinary. Ironically, rather than cancelling out the mythic and mathematical extremes, the mid-range of awareness is perhaps the more fertile range. Games and sports take on fantastic import, and ordinary communications become soap opera-dramatic. The wide open marketplace of diurnal experience is spiced with both art and science, but the main products are significant in a completely different way. Rather than seeking the infinitessimal/instantaneous or the ultimate/eternal, the presentation of ordinary life seeks fortune and fulfillment personal choice. It contains vast opportunity and vast limitation which make us feel our lives to be both incredibly important and a complete waste of time all at once.