The Science Of Superstitions
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science."
Albert Einstein, The World as I See It, 1931
The debate between realism and anti-realism is, at least, a century old. Does Science describe the real world - or are its theories true only within a certain conceptual framework? Is science only instrumental or empirically adequate or is there more to it than that?
The current - mythological - image of scientific enquiry is as follows:
Without resorting to reality, one can, given infinite time and resources, produce all conceivable theories. One of these theories is bound to be the "truth". To decide among them, scientists conduct experiments and compare their results to predictions yielded by the theories. A theory is falsified when one or more of its predictions fails. No amount of positive results - i.e., outcomes that confirm the theory's predictions - can "prove right" a theory. Theories can only be proven false by that great arbiter, reality.
Jose Ortega y Gasset said (in an unrelated exchange) that all ideas stem from pre-rational beliefs. William James concurred by saying that accepting a truth often requires an act of will which goes beyond facts and into the realm of feelings. Maybe so, but there is little doubt today that beliefs are somehow involved in the formation of many scientific ideas, if not of the very endeavor of Science. After all, Science is a human activity and humans always believe that things exist (=are true) or could be true.
A distinction is traditionally made between believing in something's existence, truth, value of appropriateness (this is the way that it ought to be) - and believing that something. The latter is a propositional attitude: we think that something, we wish that something, we feel that something and we believe that something. Believing in A and believing that A - are different.
It is reasonable to assume that belief is a limited affair. Few of us would tend to believe in contradictions and falsehoods. Catholic theologians talk about explicit belief (in something which is known to the believer to be true) versus implicit one (in the known consequences of something whose truth cannot be known). Truly, we believe in the probability of something (we, thus, express an opinion) - or in its certain existence (truth).
All humans believe in the existence of connections or relationships between things. This is not something which can be proven or proven false (to use Popper's test). That things consistently follow each other does not prove they are related in any objective, "real", manner - except in our minds. This belief in some order (if we define order as permanent relations between separate physical or abstract entities) permeates both Science and Superstition. They both believe that there must be - and is - a connection between things out there.
Science limits itself and believes that only certain entities inter-relate within well defined conceptual frames (called theories). Not everything has the potential to connect to everything else. Entities are discriminated, differentiated, classified and assimilated in worldviews in accordance with the types of connections that they forge with each other.
Moreover, Science believes that it has a set of very effective tools to diagnose, distinguish, observe and describe these relationships. It proves its point by issuing highly accurate predictions based on the relationships discerned through the use of said tools. Science (mostly) claims that these connections are "true" in the sense that they are certain - not probable.
The cycle of formulation, prediction and falsification (or proof) is the core of the human scientific activity. Alleged connections that cannot be captured in these nets of reasoning are cast out either as "hypothetical" or as "false". In other words: Science defines "relations between entities" as "relations between entities which have been established and tested using the scientific apparatus and arsenal of tools". This, admittedly, is a very cyclical argument, as close to tautology as it gets.
Superstition is a much simpler matter: everything is connected to everything in ways unbeknown to us. We can only witness the results of these subterranean currents and deduce the existence of such currents from the observable flotsam. The planets influence our lives, dry coffee sediments contain information about the future, black cats portend disasters, certain dates are propitious, certain numbers are to be avoided. The world is unsafe because it can never be fathomed. But the fact that we - limited as we are - cannot learn about a hidden connection - should not imply that it does not exist.
Science believes in two categories of relationships between entities (physical and abstract alike). The one is the category of direct links - the other that of links through a third entity. In the first case, A and B are seen to be directly related. In the second case, there is no apparent link between A and B, but a third entity, C could well provide such a connection (for instance, if A and B are parts of C or are separately, but concurrently somehow influenced by it).
Each of these two categories is divided to three subcategories: causal relationships, functional relationships and correlative relationship.
A and B will be said to be causally related if A precedes B, B never occurs if A does not precede it and always occurs after A occurs. To the discerning eye, this would seem to be a relationship of correlation ("whenever A happens B happens") and this is true. Causation is subsumed by a the 1.0 correlation relationship category. In other words: it is a private case of the more general case of correlation.
A and B are functionally related if B can be predicted by assuming A but we have no way of establishing the truth value of A. The latter is a postulate or axiom. The time dependent Schr
Philosophy As A Science
Philosophy is considered a science but it is difficult to say, when one has to compare with an ordinary science, for example biology, or chemistry. This is a question that turns into a burning problem among the scientists and linguists all over the world. Can philosophy be a science? What does philosophy operate with? It operates with categories, which can be as wide and as interchangeable as one can only imagine. Ordinary science operates with definitions, which are quite limited in their field of research. Ordinary science uses terms and laws of that very science to continue the research, uniting with the others in very rare cases. Philosophy gets into the sense of every science trying to achieve results.
We also can not call philosophy a supra-science, for it also uses hypothesis and arguments to state the opinion. But there is the obvious thing: there are now laws in philosophy and never will be, for the science changes with the age, the needs, beliefs and requirements of the citizens. To prove your opinion, you can write the definition essay and state all the facts and arguments you know to prove one way or another. This is also a nice way to research the problem and see what the solution is. But you have to research it carefully; otherwise definition essays will not be fruitful. As all sciences philosophy has gone through its stages of development. Some scientists believe that the crib of philosophy was mythology and religion. If to see the principles of life and some primitive morals stated in some myths we may see that the statement is quite true and philosophy still continues to develop out of social beliefs and ideas. Philosophy is a science which is obligatory learned by every college student in order for him to establish his own philosophy of life. It is quite exciting to find answers to ever existing questions: who am I? What do I know? What can I know? What am I destined to do? Here is one more interesting observation. You can see that all famous philosophers were researching other science fields also. For example, Freud, Yung, Kafka and others were doing research in linguistics and social sciences. Their numerous creations are the pride of human history for they revealed some secrets that remained undiscovered for a long time before their great contributions.
There are so many currents and branches, so many schools of philosophy that it is hard to decide, which one do you prefer and agree with. This much depends on the country, family, society you live in. This is one more difference between philosophy and other natural sciences. The law is stable for any country; gravity exists in India, same as in Brazil. Philosophy is a hard science, for it is very difficult to understand the sense of the dogma reading it only once. It is of course, not easy, but gives credit for you if you get interested and somewhere, being at the social event you quote one of the famous doctors of philosophy and make a great impression of an educated and intelligent personality.
On Being Human
Are we human because of unique traits and attributes not shared with either animal or machine? The definition of "human" is circular: we are human by virtue of the properties that make us human (i.e., distinct from animal and machine). It is a definition by negation: that which separates us from animal and machine is our "human-ness".
We are human because we are not animal, nor machine. But such thinking has been rendered progressively less tenable by the advent of evolutionary and neo-evolutionary theories which postulate a continuum in nature between animals and Man.
Our uniqueness is partly quantitative and partly qualitative. Many animals are capable of cognitively manipulating symbols and using tools. Few are as adept at it as we are. These are easily quantifiable differences - two of many.
Qualitative differences are a lot more difficult to substantiate. In the absence of privileged access to the animal mind, we cannot and don't know if animals feel guilt, for instance. Do animals love? Do they have a concept of sin? What about object permanence, meaning, reasoning, self-awareness, critical thinking? Individuality? Emotions? Empathy? Is artificial intelligence (AI) an oxymoron? A machine that passes the Turing Test may well be described as "human". But is it really? And if it is not - why isn't it?
Literature is full of stories of monsters - Frankenstein, the Golem - and androids or anthropoids. Their behaviour is more "humane" than the humans around them. This, perhaps, is what really sets humans apart: their behavioural unpredictability. It is yielded by the interaction between Mankind's underlying immutable genetically-determined nature - and Man's kaleidoscopically changing environments.
The Constructivists even claim that Human Nature is a mere cultural artefact. Sociobiologists, on the other hand, are determinists. They believe that human nature - being the inevitable and inexorable outcome of our bestial ancestry - cannot be the subject of moral judgment.
An improved Turing Test would look for baffling and erratic patterns of misbehaviour to identify humans. Pico della Mirandola wrote in "Oration on the Dignity of Man" that Man was born without a form and can mould and transform - actually, create - himself at will. Existence precedes essence, said the Existentialists centuries later.
The one defining human characteristic may be our awareness of our mortality. The automatically triggered, "fight or flight", battle for survival is common to all living things (and to appropriately programmed machines). Not so the catalytic effects of imminent death. These are uniquely human. The appreciation of the fleeting translates into aesthetics, the uniqueness of our ephemeral life breeds morality, and the scarcity of time gives rise to ambition and creativity.
In an infinite life, everything materializes at one time or another, so the concept of choice is spurious. The realization of our finiteness forces us to choose among alternatives. This act of selection is predicated upon the existence of "free will". Animals and machines are thought to be devoid of choice, slaves to their genetic or human programming.
Yet, all these answers to the question: "What does it mean to be human" - are lacking.
The set of attributes we designate as human is subject to profound alteration. Drugs, neuroscience, introspection, and experience all cause irreversible changes in these traits and characteristics. The accumulation of these changes can lead, in principle, to the emergence of new properties, or to the abolition of old ones.
Animals and machines are not supposed to possess free will or exercise it. What, then, about fusions of machines and humans (bionics)? At which point does a human turn into a machine? And why should we assume that free will ceases to exist at that - rather arbitrary - point?
Introspection - the ability to construct self-referential and recursive models of the world - is supposed to be a uniquely human quality. What about introspective machines? Surely, say the critics, such machines are PROGRAMMED to introspect, as opposed to humans. To qualify as introspection, it must be WILLED, they continue. Yet, if introspection is willed - WHO wills it? Self-willed introspection leads to infinite regression and formal logical paradoxes.
Moreover, the notion - if not the formal concept - of "human" rests on many hidden assumptions and conventions.
Political correctness notwithstanding - why presume that men and women (or different races) are identically human? Aristotle thought they were not. A lot separates males from females - genetically (both genotype and phenotype) and environmentally (culturally). What is common to these two sub-species that makes them both "human"?
Can we conceive of a human without body (i.e., a Platonian Form, or soul)? Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas think not. A soul has no existence separate from the body. A machine-supported energy field with mental states similar to ours today - would it be considered human? What about someone in a state of coma - is he or she (or it) fully human?
Is a new born baby human - or, at least, fully human - and, if so, in which sense? What about a future human race - whose features would be unrecognizable to us? Machine-based intelligence - would it be thought of as human? If yes, when would it be considered human?
In all these deliberations, we may be confusing "human" with "person". The former is a private case of the latter. Locke's person is a moral agent, a being responsible for its actions. It is constituted by the continuity of its mental states accessible to introspection.
Locke's is a functional definition. It readily accommodates non-human persons (machines, energy matrices) if the functional conditions are satisfied. Thus, an android which meets the prescribed requirements is more human than a brain dead person.
Descartes' objection that one cannot specify conditions of singularity and identity over time for disembodied souls is right only if we assume that such "souls" possess no energy. A bodiless intelligent energy matrix which maintains its form and identity over time is conceivable. Certain AI and genetic software programs already do it.
Strawson is Cartesian and Kantian in his definition of a "person" as a "primitive". Both the corporeal predicates and those pertaining to mental states apply equally, simultaneously, and inseparably to all the individuals of that type of entity. Human beings are one such entity. Some, like Wiggins, limit the list of possible persons to animals - but this is far from rigorously necessary and is unduly restrictive.
The truth is probably in a synthesis:
A person is any type of fundamental and irreducible entity whose typical physical individuals (i.e., members) are capable of continuously experiencing a range of states of consciousness and permanently having a list of psychological attributes.
This definition allows for non-animal persons and recognizes the personhood of a brain damaged human ("capable of experiencing"). It also incorporates Locke's view of humans as possessing an ontological status similar to "clubs" or "nations" - their personal identity consists of a variety of interconnected psychological continuities.
Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
I was always somebody who felt quite sorry for myself, what I had not got compared to my friends, how much of a struggle my life seemed to be compared to others. I was caught up in a web of negativity and needed someone or something to help me to escape.
During an afternoon at work one day, aged around twenty one, a colleague I was working with started to talk to me. What he said was quite upsetting and disturbing, however would have a profound effect on my future. He said to me:
"Your quite a depressive person, aren't you?"
I said in a shocked voice as I believed I was no different to anybody else. He continued:
"Yes you are. You very rarely smile, you are negative about most issues and you always seem to be carrying the world on your shoulders".
This man was aged around fifty three and continued:
"I used to be like you and then I was given some advice, of which I am now going to relay to you. When you feel down, depressed or sorry for yourself, read the newspapers or watch the news on the television. You may then realise that you are in fact one of the lucky ones."
I listened and thought about what he had said. I had never been a big reader or watcher of the news, but decided to start. The advice was totally correct, the news from around the world and even my own country was quite shocking. I realised that the worries I had were actually quite trivial and that I needed to cherish everyday and start to look on the bright side of life.
Vampires The Romantic Ideology Behind Them
The French Revolution constituted for the conscience of the dominant aristocratic class a fall from innocence, and upturning of the natural chain of events that resounded all over Europe; the old regime became, in their imaginary, a paradise lost. This explains why some romantic poets born in the higher classes were keen on seeing themselves as faded aristocrats, expelled from their comfortable milieu by a reverse of fortune or a design of destiny. Byron and Shelley are the prime instances of this vital pose. In The Giaour he writes on a vampiric character: "The common crowd but see the gloom/ Of wayward deeds and fitting doom;/ The close observer can espy/A noble soul, and lineage high."
Byron departed from England leaving a trail of scandal over his marital conduct and since then saw himself as an exiled expatriate. Shelley was expelled from Oxford and he fell in disgrace by marrying an in-keeper's daughter; he always struggled to reconcile his origin with his political ideas: "Shelley could find no way of resolving his own contradictory opinions" (Cronin, 2000).
This icon of the fallen aristocrat is rooted on another character revered by romantic poets: the fallen angel. As Mario Praz proves, miltonic Satan became the rebel figure of choice among romantic poets. Milton reversed the medieval idea of a hideous Satan and wrapped its figure with the epic grandeur of an angel fallen in disgrace. Many of the byronic heros share with Milton's Satan this fallen-from-grace condition, such as Lara: "There was in him a vital scorn of all:/
As if the worst had fall'n which could befall,/ stood a stranger in this breathing world,/An erring spirit from another hurl'd" ( Lara XVIII 315-16)
There is another social factor that is behind the formation of the romantic myth of the vampire. In the early nineteen century, the foundations of what would later become a mass society were laid; the expansion of the press and of the reading public produced an increased diffusion for literary works and fostered movements such as the gothic and the sensation novel. Byron himself experienced the event of being turned into a proto-bestseller. The unification of literary taste and preferences that was a correlate to this social changes could not be more alien to the romantic notion of individual gusto and original sensibility. In order to combat this unifying forces, romantic poets revered the individual who stands outside society and is free from common concerns. Many of Byron's heros look down on the masses from above, even though they walk among them and do not lean towards wordsworthian escapades into nature; they achieve to remain untainted by the masses in a sort of exile within the world akin to that of a ghost or a dammed spirit. This self-definition of Manfred is revelatory:
From my youth upwards
My spirit walk'd not with the souls of men,
Nor look'd upon the earth with human eyes;
The thirst of their ambition was not mine,
The aim of their existence was not mine;
My joys, my griefs, my passions, and my powers
Made me a stranger; though I wore the form,
I had no sympathy with breathing flesh, (Manfred II, ii, 50-58)
Not only Byron's works contrived to produce the modern image of the vampire in relation to the Male Seducer archetype, but also some odd events in his life and the life of those surrounding him exercised a decisive influence. A critical study bundled with an anthology of vampire tales (Conde de Siruela, 2001) attributes to the short story The Vampire (1819) by John William Polidori the fixation of the "classical images of the literary vampire as a villanious, cold and enigmatic aristocrat; but, above all, perverse and fascinating for women". Mario Praz, in the same line, also states that Byron was "largely responsible for the vogue of vampirism". Polidori was the unfortunate doctor and personal assistant of Lord Byron who died half-crazy at 25. The idea for the tale published in 1819 came from the famous meetings at Villa Diodati on June 1816 between Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley and Polidori, in what was probably the most influential gathering for fantastic fiction in the history of modern literature. In order to pass the stormy and ether-fuelled nights, they agreed to write each one a ghost story. Mary Shelley (who was then 17 years old) got during these nights the idea of what later became Frankenstein and Polidori wrote the tale The Vampire that he would publish three years later. The story appeared in the New Monthly Magazine falsely attributed by the editor to Lord Byron (taking advantages of the aura of Satanism that surrounded the poet in the popular view to promote the sales of the magazine). A misguided Goethe hailed the story as the best that Lord Byron had ever written. The tale was, actually, a covert portrait of Lord Byron disguised as the vampire Lord Ruthven, a cruel gambler and killer of innocent girls. Polidori had introduced in the story fragments from an autobiographical and revengeful novel called Glenarvon written by Caroline Lamb, an ex-lover of Byron. The Lord
Peace On Earth A Wonderful Wish But No Way
When asked, "If you could wish for one thing only, what would that wish be?" almost everyone; from beauty pagent contestants, to politicians, to religious leaders, to children, to the average person on the street states, "Peace On Earth" or "An end to all wars". Those wishes, while exemplary, are meaningless. As long as humans exist there will never be peace on earth.
Throughout the history of humankind there has never been peace on earth. Cavemen fought other cavemen over territory, food and even women. Cain killed Abel over God's respect. Gabriel blew down the walls of Jericho. America fought the Revolutionary War for freedom and brother fought against brother in our Civil War for more freedom. There have always been wars and there will always be wars.
As long as humans can think, there will be wars. Wars over such concepts as freedom, honor, dignity, etc.. Wars over territory, greed, power, prejudice, etc.. War is a part of human nature. For example, every human being is prejudiced. If they don't like some race, nationality or religion, they don't like short or tall or fat or skinny or smart or not smart or loud or quiet people. Some people don't like children, some people don't like old people, some people don't like people with pets, or people that play their music too loud, or bad drivers, or people that believe in God or people that don't believe in God. What is right and proper to some people can be wrong or even enraging to other people.
Religion can not stop wars, in fact many wars are fought over religion (Note: I believe that religion is used as an excuse for war not the real reason for war.). Christians fought against Muslims during the Crusades, Many Muslims want death for all non believers. The Catholic Church killed heretics during the Inquisition. The Nazis killed millions of Jews and then started killing Catholics. The Russians under Stalin killed anyone even remotly religious. Protestants killed other Protestants for being the wrong type of Protestant. Muslims killed Muslims for being the wrong type of Muslim. Don't forget about Atheists (I believe that Atheism is also a religion, it is a religion of non belief.), Stalin was an Atheist and wanted to get rid of all religion. Most of China's leaders are Atheists and have jailed and killed huge numbers of religious people. History is rife with various types of religious battles.
The main reason for war, however, is the lust for power. The power to make others do and believe as you do and believe, the power to make other people render unto you what you believe is rightfully yours, the power to make other people treat you as you believe you should be treated, the power to gain what you want (ie: money, love, respect, etc.), the power to punish others for doing things that you don't believe they should do, the power to keep other from having things or thoughts that you don't have. In other words, the power to be, in some ways God, to make everyone else in your image with you as their ruler.
As long as people have the ability to think, there will be greed, envy, prejudice and anger. As long as those things exist, there will be wars. Most people believe, either religiously or secularly, in the rules set down in the Ten Commandments, but very few people can follow those rules all of the time because our ability to think causes us to want. Wanting causes us to break some or all of the rules. Humans are not perfect. If they were they would not be human.
The Idea Of God Is Not Henceforth Relevant
Well educated, intellectual people, especially scientists at all times demonstrate considerably smaller adherence to religiosity than others. However, there are still believers of the idea of the God in science. If we exclude from their number those who feel a painful requirement for external protection and support by virtue of their poor living circumstances, there are those who come to idea of the God as a result of amazement at a world that has many unsolved problems. The surprising diversification of subjects and entities can be scientifically formulated in principle as it can sustain the quasi-stable condition and demonstrates development.
Common sense suggests, that for an explanation of the observable diversification in life, it is necessary to admit that each separate subject, each organism, each social unit, and even each computer program should contain a special internal causative engine, a local determinism, which maintains an autonomous internal life in it.
The conventional concept of determinism does not suppose the existence of such sources. This represents a scandalous weakness in the concept. Not finding the required causative source within the framework of philosophy, people are compelled to address the always-available, exotic, exciting fantasies of the irrational sources that are available in religion and mysticism.
Today the situation can be considerably rectified. The recently published concept of Ring Determinism identifies the required internal causative source by way of a closed plot of the customary causal chain. This is a self-contained circuit which, it turns out, is contained in the entrails of each separate natural formation. This circuit is just that ontological base in which each separate natural formation finds and displays its exclusive individuality and asserts itself in the capacity of "causa sui " - the cause of itself.
Internal local causative action, continuously circulating inside a separate body, is transmitted from element to element. It ensures its systemic, synergetic wholeness in the operation of its elements and subsystems in the phenomena of "emergence", special internal policy, resistance to external actions, aggression directed externally, egotism, egocentricity, self-preservation, self-organization and finally, self-development.
One of the conclusions of ring determinism is, that under the supervisory control of the internal cause continuously circulating in a body, and under the continuous effects of external factors, there is the miracle of self-development. This results in an observable diversification of surprising properties of subjects, organisms, social units, human products and other things.
The local causative circuit can randomly or by design, become closed. Then finding an ability towards long-lived quasi-stable self-maintenance, self-resumption, or, in the case of dynamically developing systems, the determining vortex, it becomes the high-power engine which creates, saves and induces a flock of living and nonliving natural formations in development.
Educated people can now sigh with relief since a rather weighty rational argument against the idea of creationism has appeared and the necessity to appeal to irrational theories has vanished.
A Brief History Of Creation
What is the loop of Creation? How is there something from nothing?
In spite of the fact that it is impossible to prove that anything exists beyond one's perception since any such proof would involve one's perception (I observed it, I heard it, I thought about it, I calculated it, and etc.), science deals with a so-called objective reality "out there," beyond one's perception professing to describe Nature objectively (as if there was a Nature or reality external to one's perception). The shocking impact of Matrix was precisely the valid possibility that what we believed to be reality was but our perception; however, this was presented through showing a real reality wherein the perceived reality was a computer simulation. Many who toy with the idea that perhaps, indeed, we are computer simulations, deviate towards questions, such as, who could create such software and what kind of hardware would be needed for such a feat. Although such questions assume that reality is our perception, they also axiomatically presuppose the existence of an objective deterministic world "out there" that nevertheless must be responsible for how we perceive our reality. This is a major mistake emphasizing technology and algorithms instead of trying to discover the nature of reality and the structure of creation. As will be shown in the following, the required paradigm shift from "perception is our reality fixed within an objective world," to "perception is reality without the need of an objective world 'out there,'" is provided by a dynamic logical structure. The Holophanic loop logic is responsible for a consistent and complete worldview that not only describes, but also creates whatever can be perceived or experienced.
Stating that it is impossible to prove the existence of anything beyond one's perception is not saying there is nothing beyond perception, only that if there is anything, then whatever that is, is indefinite. It could be argued that the existence of physical laws, the universal perception that the apple falls to the ground is proof of an objective reality. However, this universal agreement is also our perception. It could be argued that if we cannot decide what to perceive, and everybody perceives the same physical reality, then there must be some lawfulness that dictates how we perceive and therefore, this lawfulness could be external to our perception. However, this lawfulness, as we shall see later on, is the precise lawfulness that creates perception, the process of definition, which is not external to perception (this process creates the perceived and the perceiver, which then gives meaning to this process - a loop - but about that, later). It could be argued, that hitting our knee on the table - whether we believe in the table or not - will hurt. The table is external to our body, but not to our perception. What then is perception? It is relating, a process of definition, defining and thereby rendering meaningful what has been perceived.
What then is this process of definition? It is creating borders within which one's perception gains meaning. The word "definition" comes from the Latin de finire, meaning, making finite or limited. In Hebrew, definition is HAGDARA (הגדרה), meaning, to border. Any definition necessarily implies what the definition is not, or stated differently, to have meaning, whatever is defined explicitly includes the meaning by implicitly excluding everything else. Consequently, to define means to place the defined object within borders that by default create something beyond the borders of the definition. What is this something beyond the defined? The implicitly excluded everything else, or in other words, the indefinite. The paramount importance of incorporating the indefinite within a consistent logical structure cannot be overemphasized. The indefinite itself is a paradox, and incorporating it within the Holophanic logical structure engenders the loop of Creation where the dynamic structure of paradoxes is both the creative force of existence, and also the proof of the necessity of existence.
To better grasp the impetus of Creation, let's look at the indefinite and paradoxes. What does "indefinite" mean? Anything as long as it is not specified (not defined); anything that appears both within and beyond the borders of the definition and thereby rendering the border superfluous, which means, no border, no definition. If nevertheless we would attempt to define the notion "indefinite," then that's a paradox because if we succeed, then it is defined, which contradicts its meaning - its indefiniteness - and the word "indefinite" means that it cannot be defined. This is an example of a paradox, that in essence means, if it is what it is, then it is not what it is, yet if it is not what it is, then it is what it is. A paradox is a creature that consists of a structure (how it is defined, the dynamic process on its way to stabilization) that contradicts its significance (what it is, the stabilized entity). What characterizes a paradox is the motion between its structure and significance, where the structure implies that its significance contradicts its structure, and vice versa.
Another example of a paradox would be "wholeness." Wholeness (totality, infinite, boundless) can only be wholeness if we can find a way to define it so that it includes everything and there is nothing beyond it. However, if we define wholeness, then to have meaning, it must be bordered within the walls of the definition, which implies that there is something beyond this border, in which case it is not wholeness. Or in more formal language, wholeness is only wholeness if it is not wholeness, which is an inconsistency. If we are satisfied with that, then we have completed the definition of wholeness. However, if we try to include the beyond created by our earlier definition within the borders of our next attempt at defining wholeness, then we gain a new definition of wholeness, which by the sheer structure of the process of defining creates a new beyond. In this case, the process of defining wholeness will be consistent but incomplete, and wholeness will remain indefinite.
Contemplating the paradox of Creation, the ancient Egyptian myth of Creation springs to mind, the myth of the self-creating god, Amun (or Amon). Amun masturbated and swallowed his semen, after which he spit it out in the form of a ball, thereby impregnating his mother, the sky. And only then, was he born. Thus Amun was his own father. Those pious who discovered the illustrated version of this myth in Karnak covered up the erect phallus of Amun, and with it, this story of Creation was laid into obscurity. The Holophanic model of Creation could regard this Egyptian myth as Amun retromorphously creating himself. I have coined the word retromorphous to mean, defining in retrospect, turning non-being into the potential of whatever the observation is made from, or in other words, creating the past from the present, creating the source from its outcome, which is the basis of complexity in the context of the loop logic. That is, only after Amun was born can he give meaning to his mother, the potential from which he emanated and to the process that created him (as represented by masturbation and incest) whereby he was born. Of course, neither the sky nor the masturbating Amun have meaning until Creation takes place de facto and Amun emerges. I find this an enticing illustration of the basic paradox of existence.
So how can there be something from nothing? What is "nothing?" Nothing is what didn't turn into the potential of something. If there was something from nothing, then that nothing would have turned into the potential of something, because when we ask, how is there something from nothing, we ask this question from something, when something already exists. If we take a deeper look at "nothing," we'll discover that "nothing" is a paradox. Any definition is something, so if we defined "nothing," then it would become something, which contradicts its essence of being "nothing." Another way of looking at "nothing" would be by means of it being something that is meaningless. That is, "nothing" could be something that does not relate and that no thing or no one relates to. That is, if there was something totally alone in the universe, then that would be nothing, but it would be meaningless. If such existed, its existence would be external to our perception, and as such, this "nothing" would be indefinite.
We said that the indefinite could be anything, as long as it is not specified (not defined). However, if we nevertheless tried to define "nothing" (the indefinite), what would we get then? Since "nothing" is non-definable, it is transparent as the object of our inquiry. So when we attempt to define it, all we have is what we put into it, which is the process of definition. "Nothing" stayed nothing, we didn't define it, only made the process of definition explicit. "Nothing" gains meaning when we fail to define it; but having tried, we are left with a bonus, a something, which is our process of defining "nothing." Creation of something from nothing is not a function of defining something, but a function of attempting to define "nothing." And then, if that process of definition - which already is an existence - looks back at its origins, if this process of defining investigates into its own genesis, then what does it see? It sees itself. It sees the process of definition - self-reference.
If there is nothing external to perception, then this process of definition is the overall wholeness, the creator of meaning when it can relate to itself. However, to have meaning, the process of definition has to be defined; this definition would be a self-referential quasi-infinite and continuous process of establishing borders that create the indefinite beyond that establishes borders creating the indefinite beyond that establishes borders… which means, wholeness would continuously and forever fail to define itself while succeeding to define something - anything but itself.
Of course, both the totally defined and the totally indefinite are idealized notions that would be inconsistent with the Holophanic loop logic, nor can they be found in nature. The totally indefinite would be the total meaningless nothing, the kind of non-being that cannot be fathomed because if we would think about it, it would already be something. On the other hand, there can be no total definition either. I have used the term uncertainty of sameness to describe the logical impossibility of total definition. A defined entity can be said to have reached sameness
Althusser Competing Interpellations And The Third Text
With the exception of Nietzsche, no other madman has contributed so much to human sanity as has Louis Althusser. He is mentioned twice in the Encyclopaedia Britannica as someone's teacher. There could be no greater lapse: for two important decades (the 60s and the 70s), Althusser was at the eye of all the important cultural storms. He fathered quite a few of them.
This newly-found obscurity forces me to summarize his work before suggesting a few (minor) modifications to it.
(1) Society consists of practices: economic, political and ideological.
Althusser defines a practice as:
"Any process of transformation of a determinate product, affected
by a determinate human labour, using determinate means (of production)"
The economic practice (the historically specific mode of production) transforms raw materials to finished products using human labour and other means of production, all organized within defined webs of inter-relations. The political practice does the same with social relations as the raw materials. Finally, ideology is the transformation of the way that a subject relates to his real life conditions of existence.
This is a rejection of the mechanistic worldview (replete with bases and superstructures). It is a rejection of the Marxist theorization of ideology. It is a rejection of the Hegelian fascist "social totality". It is a dynamic, revealing, modern day model.
In it, the very existence and reproduction of the social base (not merely its expression) is dependent upon the social superstructure. The superstructure is "relatively autonomous" and ideology has a central part in it - see entry about Marx and Engels and entry concerning Hegel.
The economic structure is determinant but another structure could be dominant, depending on the historical conjuncture. Determination (now called over-determination - see Note) specifies the form of economic production upon which the dominant practice depends. Put otherwise: the economic is determinant not because the practices of the social formation (political and ideological) are the social formation's expressive epiphenomena - but because it determines WHICH of them is dominant.
(2) People relate to the conditions of existence through the practice of ideology. Contradictions are smoothed over and (real) problems are offered false (though seemingly true) solutions. Thus, ideology has a realistic dimension - and a dimension of representations (myths, concepts, ideas, images). There is (harsh, conflicting) reality - and the way that we represent it both to ourselves and to others.
(3) To achieve the above, ideology must not be seen to err or, worse, remain speechless. It, therefore, confronts and poses (to itself) only answerable questions. This way, it remains confined to a fabulous, legendary, contradiction-free domain. It ignores other questions altogether.
(4) Althusser introduced the concept of "The Problematic":
"The objective internal reference ... the system of questions
commanding the answers given"
It determines which problems, questions and answers are part of the game - and which should be blacklisted and never as much as mentioned. It is a structure of theory (ideology), a framework and the repertoire of discourses which - ultimately - yield a text or a practice. All the rest is excluded.
It, therefore, becomes clear that what is omitted is of no less importance than what is included in a text. The problematic of a text relates to its historical context ("moment") by incorporating both: inclusions as well as omissions, presences as much as absences. The problematic of the text fosters the generation of answers to posed questions - and of defective answers to excluded questions.
(5) The task of "scientific" (e.g., Marxist) discourse, of Althusserian critical practice is to deconstruct the problematic, to read through ideology and evidence the real conditions of existence. This is a "symptomatic reading" of TWO TEXTS:
"It divulges the undivulged event in the text that it reads and, in the
same movement, relates to it a different text, present, as a necessary
absence, in the first ... (Marx's reading of Adam Smith) presupposes
the existence of two texts and the measurement of the first against
the second. But what distinguishes this new reading from the old,
is the fact that in the new one, the second text is articulated with the
lapses in the first text ... (Marx measures) the problematic contained
in the paradox of an answer which does not correspond to any questions posed."
Althusser is contrasting the manifest text with a latent text which is the result of the lapses, distortions, silences and absences in the manifest text. The latent text is the "diary of the struggle" of the unposed question to be posed and answered.
(6) Ideology is a practice with lived and material dimensions. It has costumes, rituals, behaviour patterns, ways of thinking. The State employs Ideological Apparatuses (ISAs) to reproduce ideology through practices and productions: (organized) religion, the education system, the family, (organized) politics, the media, the industries of culture.
"All ideology has the function (which defines it) of 'constructing'
concrete individuals as subjects"
Subjects to what? The answer: to the material practices of the ideology. This (the creation of subjects) is done by the acts of "hailing" or "interpellation". These are acts of attracting attention (hailing) , forcing the individuals to generate meaning (interpretation) and making them participate in the practice.
These theoretical tools were widely used to analyze the Advertising and the film industries.
The ideology of consumption (which is, undeniably, the most material of all practices) uses advertising to transform individuals to subjects (=to consumers). It uses advertising to interpellate them. The advertisements attract attention, force people to introduce meaning to them and, as a result, to consume. The most famous example is the use of "People like you (buy this or do that)" in ads. The reader / viewer is interpellated both as an individual ("you") and as a member of a group ("people like..."). He occupies the empty (imaginary) space of the "you" in the ad. This is ideological "misrecognition". First, many others misrecognize themselves as that "you" (an impossibility in the real world). Secondly, the misrecognized "you" exists only in the ad because it was created by it, it has no real world correlate.
The reader or viewer of the ad is transformed into the subject of (and subject to) the material practice of the ideology (consumption, in this case).
Althusser was a Marxist. The dominant mode of production in his days (and even more so today) was capitalism. His implied criticism of the material dimensions of ideological practices should be taken with more than a grain of salt. Interpellated by the ideology of Marxism himself, he generalized on his personal experience and described ideologies as infallible, omnipotent, ever successful. Ideologies, to him, were impeccably functioning machines which can always be relied upon to reproduce subjects with all the habits and thought patterns required by the dominant mode of production.
And this is where Althusser fails, trapped by dogmatism and more than a touch of paranoia. He neglects to treat two all-important questions (his problematic may have not allowed it):
(a) What do ideologies look for? Why do they engage in their practice? What is the ultimate goal?
(b) What happens in a pluralistic environment rich in competing ideologies?
Althusser stipulates the existence of two texts, manifest and hidden. The latter co-exists with the former, very much as a black figure defines its white background. The background is also a figure and it is only arbitrarily - the result of historical conditioning - that we bestow a preferred status upon the one. The latent text can be extracted from the manifest one by listening to the absences, the lapses and the silences in the manifest text.
But: what dictates the laws of extraction? how do we know that the latent text thus exposed is THE right one? Surely, there must exist a procedure of comparison, authentication and verification of the latent text?
A comparison of the resulting latent text to the manifest text from which it was extracted would be futile because it would be recursive. This is not even a process of iteration. It is teutological. There must exist a THIRD, "master-text", a privileged text, historically invariant, reliable, unequivocal (indifferent to interpretation-frameworks), universally accessible, atemporal and non-spatial. This third text is COMPLETE in the sense that it includes both the manifest and the latent. Actually, it should include all the possible texts (a LIBRARY function). The historical moment will determine which of them will be manifest and which latent, according to the needs of the mode of production and the various practices. Not all these texts will be conscious and accessible to the individual but such a text would embody and dictate the rules of comparison between the manifest text and ITSELF (the Third Text) , being the COMPLETE text.
Only through a comparison between a partial text and a complete text can the deficiencies of the partial text be exposed. A comparison between partial texts will yield no certain results and a comparison between the text and itself (as Althusser suggests) is absolutely meaningless.
This Third Text is the human psyche. We constantly compare texts that we read to this Third Text, a copy of which we all carry with us. We are unaware of most of the texts incorporated in this master text of ours. When faced with a manifest text which is new to us, we first "download" the "rules of comparison (engagement)". We sift through the manifest text. We compare it to our COMPLETE master text and see which parts are missing. These constitute the latent text. The manifest text serves as a trigger which brings to our consciousness appropriate and relevant portions of the Third Text. It also generates the latent text in us.
If this sounds familiar it is because this pattern of confronting (the manifest text), comparing (with our master text) and storing the results (the latent text and the manifest text are brought to consciousness) - is used by mother nature itself. The DNA is such a "Master Text, Third Text". It includes all the genetic-biological texts some manifest, some latent. Only stimuli in its environment (=a manifest text) can provoke it to generate its own (hitherto latent) "text". The same would apply to computer applications.
The Third Text, therefore, has an invariant nature (it includes all possible texts) - and, yet, is changeable by interacting with manifest texts. This contradiction is only apparent. The Third Text does not change - only different parts of it are brought to our awareness as a result of the interaction with the manifest text. We can also safely say that one does not need to be an Althusserian critic or engage in "scientific" discourse to deconstruct the problematic. Every reader of text immediately and always deconstructs it. The very act of reading involves comparison with the Third Text which inevitably leads to the generation of a latent text.
And this precisely is why some interpellations fail. The subject deconstructs every message even if he is not trained in critical practice. He is interpellated or fails to be interpellated depending on what latent message was generated through the comparison with the Third Text. And because the Third Text includes ALL possible texts, the subject is given to numerous competing interpellations offered by many ideologies, mostly at odds with each other. The subject is in an environment of COMPETING INTERPELLATIONS (especially in this day and age of information glut). The failure of one interpellation - normally means the success of another (whose interpellation is based on the latent text generated in the comparison process or on a manifest text of its own, or on a latent text generated by another text).
There are competing ideologies even in the most severe of authoritarian regimes. Sometimes, IASs within the same social formation offer competing ideologies: the political Party, the Church, the Family, the Army, the Media, the Civilian Regime, the Bureaucracy. To assume that interpellations are offered to the potential subjects successively (and not in parallel) defies experience (though it does simplify the thought-system).
Clarifying the HOW, though, does not shed light on the WHY.
Advertising leads to the interpellation of the subject to effect the material practice of consumption. Put more simply: there is money involved. Other ideologies - propagated through organized religions, for instance - lead to prayer. Could this be the material practice that they are looking for? No way. Money, prayer, the very ability to interpellate - they are all representations of power over other human beings. The business concern, the church, the political party, the family, the media, the culture industries - are all looking for the same thing: influence, power, might. Absurdly, interpellation is used to secure one paramount thing: the ability to interpellate. Behind every material practice stands a psychological practice (very much as the Third Text - the psyche - stands behind every text, latent or manifest).
The media could be different: money, spiritual prowess, physical brutality, subtle messages. But everyone (even individuals in their private life) is looking to hail and interpellate others and thus manipulate them to succumb to their material practices. A short sighted view would say that the businessman interpellates in order to make money. But the important question is: what ever for? What drives ideologies to establish material practices and to interpellate people to participate in them and become subjects? The will to power. the wish to be able to interpellate. It is this cyclical nature of Althusser's teachings (ideologies interpellate in order to be able to interpellate) and his dogmatic approach (ideologies never fail) which doomed his otherwise brilliant observations to oblivion.
In Althusser's writings the Marxist determination remains as Over-determination. This is a structured articulation of a number of contradictions and determinations (between the practices). This is very reminiscent of Freud's Dream Theory and of the concept of Superposition in Quantum Mechanics.
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