Friday, September 30, 2011

The People's Revolution

This video at Rachel Maddow’s page highlights the stark differences in how liberals and conservatives see things. As one example she plays a tape of Elizabeth Warren’s (candidate for US Senate in MA) now infamous internet rant against the spurious conservative charge of class warfare. Progressives see her comments as accurate about shared social responsibility while conservatives see it as already stated above or worse. The interesting thing is that polls of the average American Joe or Jane are overwhelmingly on her side. For example, the recent tax the rich poll noted around 70% are for it.

It is not however what the average Joe or Jane wants that matters, at least to conservatives. What matters is who is footing the bills and that is the rich people and corporations (who are people too according to their bought Supreme Court Justices). In Elizabeth Warren’s Senate bid against incumbent Scott Brown she has so far raised $915,000 in grass roots fund raising. Brown on the other hand has about $10.9 million in his war chest. And where is that money coming from? In the entire Senate he rates #1 in receiving contributions from hedge funds and venture capitalists, and #2 from private equity and securities investment firms.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Finally the people have had enough. It's time to join the effort and make your voices heard. See the website for more info and let the top 1% know what the other 99% of us think and feel. The revolution has begun.

Here's what Noam Chomsky says:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Evolutionary Enlightenment

Andrew Cohen has a new book by the above title that has kennilinguists afroth with superlative circle jerking, as it supports their worldview and notions of spirituality. The Kennilingam fawns in typical hyperbolic fervor (fever?): “Evolutionary Enlightenment is one of the most significant books on spirituality written in the postmodern world." He is joined by Steve McIntosh: “Reflect[s] the leading edge of spiritual evolution in our society...a modern-day masterpiece.” See the more accurate cartoon depiction of Cohen here. And this IPS post by Joseph (and ensuing discussion) gives much more perspective than you can get inside the ironically narcissistic EE (and II) Bubble.

Monday, September 26, 2011

$ can't buy love but it sure can buy elections

Here’s a good article by Paul Blumenthal on the results of the Citizens United Supreme Court Case. It is astounding that those Justices in favor of this decision could believe what they said. It’s one more example of the intentional conservative strategy to head off criticism but saying the opposite of what they know to be true, in this case that allowing unlimited money to influence elections somehow reduces corruption! Excerpts from the article:

“The federal system of campaign finance is in the midst of a sea change following the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), which undid a host of regulations covering the use of corporate and union money by independent groups in elections. Those independent groups are forming a shadow campaign apparatus fueled by unlimited and often undisclosed contributions, without the same accountability required of political parties or candidates' own political action committees.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Krugman on real class warfare

With Obama's jobs package calling for modest tax increases on the wealthy the conservatives are crying "class warfare." They are right but its not as they intend. One of their main strategies in such matters is to acknowledge an actual phenomenon but twist it around to its opposite. But this is a losing battle for them, as even the dumbest of Americans is on to this bullshit projection. Paul Krugman says it best so check out his article. A few excerpts:

"As background, it helps to know what has been happening to incomes over the past three decades. Detailed estimates from the Congressional Budget that between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent....
Meanwhile, over the same period, the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent...So do the wealthy look to you like the victims of class warfare?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Alien math

Continuing the theme from the last two post, in the same referenced IPS thread infimatas said:

"I recall an interview with Daniel Dennet where he argued that mathematics has a sort of Platonic quality.  Not in the metaphysical sense, but in the way that basic mathematical principles will constantly be rediscovered because they are so useful.  So if we discovered an alien culture, it seems likely that it would have some knowledge of mathematics -- perhaps not a base-10 system, but something at least. Do you buy that argument?  What implications does it have for an embodied philosophy of mathematics?"

I replied:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Metaphoric con-fusion

Continuing from the last post, I posted the following in our ongoing IPS discussion “the observer in the observed”:

Nunez's article is a shortened version of Chapter 8 of WMCF. From the latter:

“The uniqueness of the final state of a complete process is the product of human cognition, not a fact about the external world.... The basic metaphor of infinity maps this uniqueness property...onto actual infinity.... What results from the BMI is a metaphorical creation that does not occur literally: a process that goes on and on indefinitely and yet has a final resultant state” (160).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Where mathematics comes from

The above is the title of a book by Lakoff & Nunez (Basic Books, 2000). It's come up again in recent discussions at IPS due to mathematical notions of infinity and how this reflects in notions of the absolute. The Preface is available at this link and here are some excerpts from it:

"In the course of our research, we ran up against a mythology that stood in the way of developing an adequate cognitive science of mathematics. It is a kind of “romance” of mathematics, a mythology that goes something like this.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New words

I've referred to some of my neologisms in the past, like here. In some recent IPS posts I've come up with some more. For example this from the OOO thread when we were discussing the interactivity of subject and object:

I had a few options: sobject, interject(ive), interjact(ive). But Morton doesn't like the interactive ([co]relationism) models, so he would probably from upon the latter two. Now I'm thinking "suobject." It has the "su" of subject and would be pronounced "swobject." Swob is a derivation of swab, being both a noun and a verb. As a verb it is transitive, requiring an object so a suobject requires itself as its own object, thus making it good for OOO. Amazing what rationalization can do.

I think it’s fine to introduce neologisms that at first confuse, thinking perhaps it’s a misspelling. One of my innumerable mentors coined differance which many might have mistook as a typo at first.* Such ‘mistakes’ cause one to remember the word. So while I like suobject (the fricken auto-speller corrected it!) I’m now starting to like intersobject even better. For me it exemplifies the interrelationships between all 4 quadrants rather than being confined to any one quadrant. It’s a word that represents what Edwards has been trying to get across, that every holon has 4 quadrants, and that holons aren’t in quadrants. An intersobject is such a holon, whether a person, place or thing. Plus I like the ‘sob’ part, indicative of crying, since melancholia is a door through which to perceive this realm, at least per Morton above.

* Some still make the mistake that differance = difference.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Desilet: Enter the Trace

I brought in some material from Gregory Desilet into our ongoing discussion of essence and identity.

See Desilet's "Physics and Language," which discusses physics including QM (starting on p. 348). For example:

"As both the one and the many, the continuum does not require, and in fact precludes, a thorough merging of opposites. Where there is a tendency to see unity as fundamental the continuum asserts that difference is equiprimordial with unity. Oddly enough...[this is] consistent with descriptions Derrida gives for the term differance" (349).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More on identity and essence with Rosch

Here are some more of my posts from the IPS thread referenced in the last post:

How we interpret a 'postformal' cognitive level goes to the crux of the essence issue, as I explored at length in the real and false reason thread, i.e., it depends on which perspective(s) one chooses to describe it. There is no 'level in itself' like Kennilingam might suppose, with its own objective kosmic address. As you've noted in this thread it matters who is doing the addressing. So for me it comes down to the issue of postmetaphysics, which generally has a different interpretation of levels than does a metaphysician. I pointed to how Commons et al (the gold standard) are quite metaphysical in formulating postformal levels, whereas others see it as, if anything, not a 'higher level' but one that integrates what came before and is more a move of depth than of height. And minus the metaphysical underpinnings, more intersobjective perhaps. More a-perspectival, we might even say.

From The Embodied Mind (MIT Press, 1999) by Varela et al., p. 176:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Essence and Identity

I'd like to feature today a post by infimitas at the IPS forum with the above title. For me it succinctly states the postmetaphysical approach so I'll let him speak in his words, following:

An essence refers to what something “is”.  This works by having a set of essential properties or qualities, which act as necessary and sufficient conditions for it to “be” that thing.   For example, I can say of a poodle that it “is” a dog.  This implies that the essential features of “dogness” (an abstract entity, so to speak) are instantiated in that particular (concrete) poodle.  I hope I’m not over-simplifying things here.  There’s a lot more that I could say that doesn’t seem all that relevant, so I’m leaving it out.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Feudal capitalism

I've often speculated on the relation of capitalism to feudalism, that the former is in many ways an outgrowth of the latter, more of a lateral development than a vertical one. This article offers some interesting history on their relationship. An excerpt:

"It was the increase in the standard of living of the lower strata moving in the direction of relative equalization of incomes... that for the upper strata represented the real crisis.... There was no way out of it without drastic social change. This way... was the creation of a capitalist world-system, a new form of surplus appropriation. The replacement of the feudal mode by the capitalist mode was what constituted the seigniorial reaction; it was a great sociopolitical effort by the ruling strata to retain their collective privileges, even if they had to accept a fundamental reorganization of the economy....most importantly, the principle of stratification was not merely preserved; it was to be reinforced as well."

Lakoff on Obama's Jobs Speech

I figured Lakoff would like it, as my impression was that Obama framed the situation perfectly. Lakoff knows that politics is a game of influence, and that influence is effected through rhetoric that reaches deep into our core values which reside in our bodily emotions. Too often liberals, and even Obama (no liberal), frame their values in policy-speak, technical terms that appeal onto to the more intellectual among us. But let's face it, most of the voting public is not that smart and they are the vast majority at the ballot box. So speaking in their language, in plain English with emotionally charged and motivational rhetoric, is the way to get those votes. And Obama came through in flying colors with this speech.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The two truths, still?

It seems this old, old argument is still around, just taking new forms. Here’s more from the OOO thread that starts to touch upon Buddhist themes. This led to some past references to Buddhist material as well as embodied realist material:

Recall Morton said this:

"Bohr argued that quantum phenomena don't simply concatenate themselves with their measuring devices. They're identical to it: the equipment and the phenomena form an indivisible whole (QT 139–40, 177). This 'quantum coherence' applies close to absolute zero, where particles become the 'same' thing."
I think here he is in agreement with the conflation of observer and observed, reality and consciousness, that I mentioned in the PA thread. He is also Buddhist and sees this same conflation in his interpretation of it, one that is not uncommon and which we've explored and debated many times before. (Most recently here, with other references therein.)

And yes, the monism school (of the One Same (non)Thing) accuses the "relativist" school of the performative contradiction, as we've seen recently in a quantum guise. Here's how Varela answered it (my comments in following post), and Nagarjuna before him. (You might have to download the latter from Google docs.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult

This story from truthout is most illuminating, as told by Mike Lofgren who retired on June 17 after 28 years as a Congressional staffer. He served 16 years as a professional staff member on the Republican side of both the House and Senate Budget Committees.


Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot.... But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots.... But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today....The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy....I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

OOO my word!

Some more thoughts on the previous post:

Some of Morton's language reminds me of Kennilingam's interpretation of Habermas in his critique of the philosophy of the subject. For example from Integral Spirituality, Chapter 8:

“So consciousness itself is deficient—whether personal or transpersonal, whether pure or not pure, essential or relative, high or low, big mind or small mind, vipassana, bare attention, centering prayer, contemplative awareness—none of them can see these other truths, and that is why Habermas and the postmodernists extensively criticize 'the philosophy of consciousness.'”

This is part of Morton's point about the withdrawn nature of ontological objects, in that they are inaccessible to a subjective consciousness “with privileged access to phenomena.”

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Object-oriented ontology

In my research today I came upon this interesting article, “Here comes everything: the promise of object-oriented ontology” by Timothy Morton. It is of interest not only to speculative realism but also to some recent discussions on Caputo's ontology, modes of apprehension of such, and quantum theory. The article is 27 pages of text so I've culled some excerpts, lengthy in themselves.


Speculative realism...asserts the deep mystery of a Non-Nature....object-oriented ontology (OOO)...goes further than this, rejecting essentialist Matter.... OOO is a form of realism that asserts that real things exist--these things are objects, not just amorphous “Matter”.... OOO extends Husserl's and Heidegger's arguments that things have an irreducible dark side: no matter how many times we turn over a coin, we never see the other side as the other side--it will have to flip onto “this” side for us to see it, immediately producing another underside. Harman simply extends this irreducible darkness from subject–object relationships to object–object relationships.... Causation is thus vicarious in some sense, never direct. An object is profoundly “withdrawn”--we can never see the whole of it, and nothing else can either.... We've become so used to hearing “object” in relation to “subject” that it takes some time to acclimatize to a view in which there are only objects, one of which is ourselves.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Quantum access

Continuing our IPS discussion on privileged access here are some excerpts:


This reference might also be relevant: First-Person Methodologies, particularly the first section, "Inside-Outside: The Misleading Divide."


I appreciate this paragraph from Varela and Shear:

"First, exploring first-person accounts is not the same as claiming that first-person accounts have some kind of privileged access to experience. No presumption of anything incorrigible, final, easy or apodictic about subjective phenomena needs to be made here, and to assume otherwise is to confuse the immediate character of the givenness of subjective phenomena with their mode of constitution and evaluation. Much wasted ink could have been saved by distinguishing the irreducibility of firstperson descriptions from their epistemic status."

Just a few more excerpts from Varela, touching on ground already covered here, but supportive anyway. And which still leaves for me the question of the leap from diving into the “subpersonal” to some degree and the connection with “the same unity” for every particular conscious awareness given the degree to which we cannot dive.