analog (adj); analogue (noun) Analog, analog reality, analog domain, or the analog refers to the real continuum which is measured or interpreted, as opposed to the digital, which refers to the grid or scale or system of thought that measures and interprets it. An analogue is an analogy: something which stands in a homologous relationship to something else
artifice, artificial, artifact An artifact is anything made, a product of intention rather than of nature, accident, or causal process. This includes artifacts of thought-- ideas, concepts, which are the inspiration or blueprint for technological artifacts. Artificial, even in common usage, often suggests fake, or at least a simulated version of the natural thing. The implicit faith of the mechanist philosophy is that simulation can be indefinitely accurate, and therefore that there is no essential difference between artifice and reality. My argument, however, is that artifice and nature (or 'reality' or 'analog reality') are fundamentally disjunct categories.
ascensionism: the cultural belief that up is better—whether in architecture (cathedrals and skyscrapers), religion (male sky god versus earth goddess), or psychology (head versus body, mind over matter)
autopoiesis This term was introduced by Maturana and Varela (in Autopoiesis and Cognition) to underline the nature of the organism as a self-contained system, independent of the human observer's definitions, meanings, intentions, and biases. As the process of self-defining or self-producing, I hold that it underlies the essential quality of mind as well as of organism. An artificial intelligence, in order to be a genuine mind, would have to be self-defining.
awareness (or: 'simple awareness') The distinction between awareness and sentience, on the one hand, or self-consciousness, on the other, goes right to the heart of the MBP and more specifically to what I call the problem of cognitive domains. For human beings, awareness is inescapably couched in the context of self-consciousness, for the very existence of the concept implies awareness of awareness. This does not mean that we are always in an explicitly self-conscious state. I use the term awareness to indicate registration of sensory input in such a way that it is subject to recall, regardless of the degree of self-awareness at the time. "Unconscious awareness" is not a contradiction in my usage (human experience is full of examples, such as "driving on automatic"). Sentience designates sensitivity and reactivity, but not necessarily awareness if the sensory input is not available to recall (and hence further processing). There is considerable evidence for unconscious or subliminal perception. I have suggested (in The Rise and Fall of Reality) that the utility of conscious registration of events is that it serves recall; awareness means that information entering the system is tagged by also registering concurrently the fact that the information is entering. The system keeps track of its contents by being "aware" of them at entry.
Awareness must be distinguished from subjective consciousness or self-consciousness, which is the awareness of being aware. Consciousness is used loosely (following common usage) to mean either simple awareness or subjective consciousness, depending on context. I generally use experience to indicate the phenomenal continuum, meaning the flow of the contents of awareness. The realm or domain of experience implies the self-conscious recognition of that continuum as a subjective construction, a product of mind.
axiomatic system (see: formal system)
category (of mind): loosely following Kant, a cognitive schema, or perceptual hypothesis (Helmholtz), or unconscious theory; a general principle which organizes phenomenal experience into an experience of the external world. Related to Plato's Forms, the gist is that the qualities of the world given in experience (such as space and time, "objectness", colour, etc) are supplied by the mind, while referring to properties of the inaccessible world-in-itself. In particular, I hold that "realness" and "externality" are such categories, which in general are an inheritance of evolutionary history. They are part, one might say, of the "operating system" of the mind.
cause, causality I use cause in fundamental contrast to intention; causality and intentionality are complementary. The relationship of cause and effect is observed to happen rather than intended to happen. The distinction is relative to point of view: intention indicates a first-person point of view, while cause indicates a third-person description. The behavior of objects (or causal systems) among themselves is appropriately described in causal terms. The behavior of minds (intentional systems) appears to be describable in causal terms because a mind is necessarily bound to a causal system which serves as its infrastructure (eg, the brain and body), and this infrastructure can be regarded from a third-person point of view. However, the meaning of an object's behaviour may elude causal description when the observed (like the observer) is a mind with its own meanings and intentions. Meaning is a function of intention and intentional systems, not of cause or causal systems. Because of the denial of intentionality implied in the third-person perspective, the temptation is to ascribe or transfer to the observed mind the categories, intentions, and meanings of the observer.
cognitive domain (see: domain)
consciousness I use consciousness, self-consciousness, and subjective consciousness interchangeably to mean either the state of being self-aware in the moment or the general capacity. Subjectivity may refer to subjective consciousness or (sometimes pejoratively) to the state of being less than objective. Likewise, objectivity may sometimes be pejorative. Generally I consider objectivity to be a positive and adaptive value and consciousness the means to it, through a dialectical cycle. The function of subjective consciousness is to skeptically qualify the reifying or objectifying tendency of mind, whose excesses ironically may place it in a dangerously subjective state of overconfidence. Consciousness bracketis the contents of experience as subjective, relegating them to an inner domain belonging implicitly to the mind rather than to the external world. But this process can lead ultimately to greater objectivity (or, at least, to cognitive adequacy).
culture is the human world, which I hold to be fundamentally distinct from the natural world. It is artifice by definition, the human-made world of society, its customs, lore, institutions, artifacts and constructed environments. Under patriarchy, it is literally the man-made world. Culture is the product and realm of intention rather than natural cause, and specifically the intention to remove from nature.
determinism is traditionally contrasted with free will. Will and freedom are functions of autopoietic (self-defining) systems, and I would point out that only artifacts (defined or designed by another agent) can be truly deterministic. This is the converse of the fact that no machine can generate truly random behavior. The closed causal systems of deterministic science are artificial constructs which are the products intentional acts. A deterministic system is, in effect, a machine. Determinism is a way of looking, and to view nature as a deterministic system is a projection of human thought. Free will belongs to systems which define and produce themselves, not to their non-autopoietic creations.
dialectic, dialectical cycle: following Hegel, the principle of change whereby every thesis generates and is opposed by its antithesis. These do not cancel each other out but result in a synthesis, which is different from both and which may constitute a new thesis, etc. I sometimes refer to the antithesis as the shadow of thought, and to the thesis as a proposition.
digital (see: analog)
domain I use domain more or less in the mathematical sense: a set of elements upon which a mapping operation is to be performed. By extension, it refers to a realm with its own proper definitions. A cognitive domain may therefore be a level of processing within the nervous system or some intentional or computational process, or a level of definition in some logical process.
embodiment is the fact of having or being a body. In my (materialist) view, minds are necessarily embodied; the notion of disembodied mind is a contradiction in terms. Mind is a product and aspect of the physical organism; it evolved under the same evolutionary constraints as did the body. Participation with other organisms in a contest of survival is the origin of the intentionality, meaning, and sentience which characterize autopoietic systems. Embodiment is therefore the only possible basis for mind. The intentional systems which people create (simulations and computer programs, for instance) resemble minds because they project aspects of their creators' intentionality. But unless a system manifests its own intentionality (ie, unless it is first an autopoietic system, an organism, a body), it cannot be a mind.
environment is a relative term, denoting whatever lies outside a specified system (eg an organism). It is also a reversible term: if A constitutes the environment of B, then B may also constitute the environment of A. This is clear enough when we are thinking of the material world; even organisms can be environment for each other. Troubles arise, however, when metaphors are mixed: is my body the environment of my mind? The environment usually refers to the biosphere, which is the common milieu of organisms.
Equation of Experience I coined this term to codify the fact that phenomenal experience is a function of both the self and the world: E=f(s,w). That is, what we experience is determined both by input from the external world and by our mental processing of it. The position of idealism is typically rather that experience (and that part of experience that is taken to be the external world) depend on the self alone: (E,w)=f(s). The corresponding position of materialism is that experience (and that part of it that is taken to be the self) depend on the physical world alone: (E,s)=f(w). The Problem of Cognitive Domains (and the diverging positions of idealism and materialism) stem from the fact that there is only one equation but two variables. The equation cannot be "solved" except by arbitrarily holding one variable constant. Idealism holds the "world" variable constant to see how experience varies with the input of mind; materialism does the opposite, to see how experience varies with the input of the external world.
ethical, ethics (see: moral)
experience (see: phenomenal experience)
extended phenotype Dawkins coined this term to refer to the ways that behaviors and artifacts of creatures-- not just their somatic characteristics (the extended genotype)-- express genetically transmittable traits.
external world (see: world)
feminine At face value, of course feminine must refer to characteristics of women (and to some extent females of other species). Both femininity and masculinity are normative as well as descriptive terms in our society, ie ideals. It is essential to my argument that the feminine (or the feminine principle) be recognized as a mode of psychic organization accessible to both men and women. From an intentional and normative point of view, the feminine is an attitude and ideal independent of gender or of reference to actual females.
formal, formal system, formalization I use these terms in the mathematical sense, but non-rigorously. Formal refers to form as opposed to content, or imposed upon it. Plato called his Ideas (ideals) forms; formal may therefore be used interchangeably with the descriptive sense of ideal. Formal system is interchangeable with axiomatic system: A formal (axiomatic) system is like a board game. It has playing pieces and rules defining possible moves, as well as a game space within which the action takes place. It consists of four sorts of things: symbols, formation rules, initial conditions or expressions, and transformation rules. To these elements are added theorems (conclusions). Formation rules are the basic rules or assumptions determining how the symbols may and may not be strung together to form "expressions". Initial expressions are also called axioms or postulates-- the input of the system. Transformation rules are the algorithms by which expressions may be handled in order to derive theorems. Theorems are the output of the system. Unlike the elements of a causal system, those of a formal system are intentional and unambiguous. They exist exactly and only as what they have been declared to be. Like the rules of a game, they are well-defined and true because we agree to them. This gives formal systems a self-contained, tautological or "digital" character. Empirical facts do not have the formal validity which makes the truths of logic seem irresistibly necessary. On the other hand, logically necessary truths are devoid of information for this very reason. There is no news in them about the world, because they concern what is changeless. A formal system hangs together purely on the threads of logical necessity until it is "interpreted" as a mapping of some portion of the real world-- as plane geometry can be interpreted to map the physical properties of the earth's surface. Then its premises may appear as truths about the world, its logical structure to mirror the organization of reality. But a formal system can also be viewed as a self-contained game played according to arbitrary rules. The gist of formalization (axiomatization) is that a procedure is codified for arriving at conclusions on the basis of prior specified assumptions and agreed-upon rules of reasoning. That is, a method of proof is defined. This precludes "just knowing" the truth, and also allows us to distinguish truth from either belief or provability. But formalization also serves to substitute a purely intentional, defined system (an artifact) for the reality it formalizes.
gender Following Illich, gender indicates a system of culturally-constructed social arrangements and identities-- as opposed to biological identity, indicated by sex, which is also used to indicate the sexual system of reproduction, in which two distinct gametes supply genetic material to offspring.
genotype contrasts with phenotype, which means the body, or mortal somatic line of cells that compose the organism; the genotype is the immortal germ line that continues into the next generation.
globalism, economic globalism: the modern economic policy that capital, markets, and labor supplies should be global, without local, national, regional (or ecological) bounds or impediments. In practice, it is the means by which the West colonizes the rest of the world, economically and culturally.
human, humanity (see: Man)
idea, ideal, idealism, ideality In the philosophical sense, an idea is an element of the cognitive domain of mind (experience); referring not only to concepts but perception, feeling, imagination, dream, hallucination, etc; in contrast to elements of the cognitive domain of the world (external reality). Ideal (adj) has both a descriptive sense, refering to ideas as above, and a normative sense, referring to human preferences. These dual meanings provide a clue to the motivation for (philosophical) idealism, which is the belief that the essence of the flux of phenomenal experience is mental (the physical is but another mental construct). It may be contrasted with realism (the belief that there actually exists a material external world, independent of experience but to which experience refers) or with materialism (the belief that the external world is physical in the ways described by science, and is the ultimate determinant of experience, which must somehow be accounted for in scientific terms). The non-philosophical use of idealism is generally normative (as in the "idealism of adolescence", and in most cases is not what I intend. Ideality is the counterpart of reality; the mental, interior, subjective, imaginal realm, the inner domain of experience (which includes thought), as opposed to the external world. These two types of being are apparently utterly different, which is another way to state the MBP. In the more ordinary sense, of course, an idea is simply a concept, notion or thought.
As adjective, ideal can refer either to the descriptive philosophical sense above, or can have the normative meaning of perfect or preferred, what ought to be. As noun, an ideal is such a norm, whereas the Ideal refers to all of ideality in both the descriptive and normative sense.
All mental processes (e.g. perception and thought) necessarily idealize, since they constitute inherently reductive mappings of the external world, which is presumed to be denser and more complex than can be represented by the resources of any given mental or computational process. For this reason I say the world is essentially analog, infinite, and transcendent, while mind is essentially digital, intentional, its contents finite and immanent. Any representation (idea) is by nature an intentional construct. It selects key features of something real to posit in its stead as stylized symbol, reflecting the purposes of the organism as much as the structure of the external world. In this sense, all ideas are abstractions, symbols, blueprints, schematics, stick figures. They facilitate the ergonomics of the brain, which must "chunk" information. But the symbol must effectively bear the significance to the organism of what it represents. While information about the world may be irrelevant or expendable, it also may be essential to the organism’s survival. Thus the symbol must be invested with the authority of the reality symbolized. This is what makes idealism possible. The sense of reality is normally involuntary, compulsory, and attached to real things as a form of significance, but the mind has gained semi-conscious control over this sense so that it can imbue its own idealizations with the weight and quality of realness. This is how Plato could come to regard the Forms as more real than the external realities they idealize. The payoff for this inversion is that, while reality is largely not within human control, ideality is—in spite of being defined independently of human thought or will.
It is important to note that while an artifact is a re-materialization of an idea originally taken from reality through some process of idealization, the artifact continues to belong essentially to the mental realm. It has the characteristics and limitations of ideality: simple, finite, digital, intentional, symbolic, etc. It bears the same relationship to reality that a word does to a real thing it denotes, in spite of the fact that it is instantiated in matter. The problem of making a perfect embodiment is the inverse of the problem of making a perfect simulation. Both processes are limited by the same fact: the ideal and the real are of totally incongruous natures. This is where the MBP becomes a practical issue in technology.
identification is the act or state of associating one’s sense of self or identity with anything external to the epistemic ego. One could identify, for example, with one’s nation, body, gender, social class, thoughts, perceptions, etc.
information in most cases refers to the central concept of Shannon's quantitative theory of communication: essentially, the number of binary decisions required to encode a message. It is to be distinguished primarily from meaning, which is the content of significance to a mind as opposed to the form of the message. Confusion can arise around the distinction between a real entity and its supposed "informational content" when one loses sight of the fact that the entity in question may not be a message. That is, only intentional constructs (messages) have a definite encoding and therefore carry a definite amount of information.
instinct The notion of instinct is implicitly framed from a 3rd-person point of view (expressed literally, for example in Freud's id). The 1st-person equivalent is will.
intention The ordinary notion of intention, as a conscious purpose, is expanded to include any internal connection made within a "self-organizing adaptive system". Intentionality can be defined as the ability to make such connections. In this sense, intentionality is a complement to causality, both involving attributions of connection. For, cause involves an observed connection between external events, which is believed to exist independent of the observer, while intention involves an agent making internal connections in response to events.
A causal description of an organism's behavior appears as a sequence in time, beginning with the "initial condition" of a stimulus and moving through connections that are to be understood as electrochemical processes in the body. An intentional description, by contrast, appears as a logical sequence independent of time, commencing with the initial condition of (sensory) input and moving through logical connections toward a conclusion (perhaps with motor output). One has physical laws and events as rules and operations, in a domain of physical causes; the other consists of logical operations within a domain of values or intentions. An intentional connection is one made or adopted by an intentional agent (mind), just as a mathematician creates or adopts the rules of a formal system, or performs operations within it. This is in contrast to causal connection, which is an observed property of the world.
An "intentional system" can be understood as a formal system which is "interpreted" as referring to the real world. Intentional connections are "real" to the degree they consist also of physical connections which instantiate them and which may be described causally. Then the mental is the physical. Intentional connections (representations) are "true" when they correspond to actual causal connections. Intentionality must also be distinguished from intensionality, which refers to the directedness of mental states toward objects and events in the extensional world, a meaning closely bound to assertions, in language and logic, about the world.
intentional system I use this term in two senses, according to context. First, an intentional system is a creation of mind, an artifact. But second, an intentional system is the creator of artifacts, a mind.
investment economy: an economic system based on interest earned on lending rather than production through labor expended.
machine, mechanism, mechanistic A machine is the embodiment of a formalizable or axiomatic system, an algorithm, a game, a closed reversible system. It has an input, an output, and some defined procedures or operations to correlate the two. As an artifact, it is intentional and ideal. Mechanism may refer to a given machine, but also to the philosophy of mechanism, which is the belief that all of nature can be understood as a machine.
Man I use Man (capitalized) interchangeably with humanity and mankind. In spite of my feminist sympathies, I find this appropriate to emphasize the fact (regrettable or not) that the world as we know it is largely a male creation. For the same reason, I sometimes use the conventional masculine pronoun to refer both genders. (A good deal more than politically correct language is required to rectify the gender imbalance. I look forward to changing my language when society has changed to a sufficient degree that using a feminine pronoun no longer seems "unnatural", and when using Man to represent humankind is simply an embarrassment.)
mapping (in the mathematical sense): a transformation from one domain to another (the "field"); or in the cartographic sense, which follows mathematics.
masculine (like feminine) refers to attributes and attitudes independent of particular individuals. I use these terms in normative as well as descriptive ways. If I sometimes use masculine pejoratively, I do nevertheless believe in a positive masculine ideal, and applaud the many examples of it that may be found among men.
materialism (see: idea) Philosophical and economic materialism align in our civilization. Both embrace the ideology of mechanism, since the World Machine is created through economics and technology both. Spiritual materialism (cf. Chogyam Trungpa) is the greed for spiritual attainment. In America at least, the greed for material goods goes hand in hand with the greed for personal salvation.
meaning: a significance to a mind. Meaning can be intersubjective, but not absolute or detached from any mind, since it is created through intentionality and is necessarily relative to some mind(s).
mental I use this to as the adjective form of mind, including cognitive and affective states, in contrast to intellectual.
mind A mind is an intentional system; a brain is a causal system. In an organism, they coincide, since intentional processes must ride on a substrate of causal processes (as when a logic gate is a physical switch). Mind as a general abstraction is contrasted with body (meaning matter) as a general abstraction. The defining characteristic of mind is intention, that of body (matter) is extension in space and time. Mind has (is) a point of view, while body is what is viewed in the world external to the senses. The point of view of the conscious mind is the epistemic ego, which looks out not only upon the world outside the skin but also upon the body as external to its locus and identity. Mind refers variously to all mental (intentional) phenomena, to the whole field of phenomenal experience, and to the structure of intentional connections of an organism.
Mind-Body Problem The Mind-Body Problem is actually a complex of inter-related ones, which fall roughly into three types. The first concerns the classical incompatibility of mind and matter; secondly, the problem of reliable knowledge for subjective beings; finally, the difficulties posed by dealing with other minds and bodies. All stem ultimately from the fact of self-consciousness, whose subjective frame cleaves the experiential field into two regions: the world and the self, which are disjunct categories. (Not apples and oranges, but apples and ideas of apples.) The MBP is elusive and confusing because we ourselves are at the center of it. It is a function of our way of looking, wherever we turn our gaze. Subjective consciousness has opened a second perspective to us, besides the fundamental one of looking out upon the external world. But when the contents of this subjective viewpoint are regarded implicitly through the objectifying eyes of the latter, mind appears as a subtle kind of matter. Mind and matter are then seen as two complementary, but incompatible, kinds of "stuff"-- the classic MBP. In a more general sense, the MBP attempts formulate the epistemic situation of embodied minds, which entrains three limitative or skeptical consequences. These are that the world cannot be known: (1) as it is "in itself", independent of knowing minds; (2) in its absolute entirety; (3) impartially, apart from biases and interests originating in embodiment and cultivated through learning.
model A model is an analogue of something, a simulation, an idealization and simplification. It is an artifact, an algorithm, "nomological machine" (after Nancy Cartwright). Following the computational metaphor, a cognitive model (or schema or representation) is a template for analyzing an input according to given parameters. For instance, a program for pattern recognition searches for "edges", "angles", etc, in an optical input, in order to identify geometrical solids. The program contains a non-graphic model of the cube, sphere, etc, very close to Plato's form.
moral, morality: the perception of right and wrong (or more generally, of values) from an engaged (naive) first-person point of view, in contrast to ethical or ethics, which is the subjectified counterpart. The key difference is that ethics claims self-conscious responsibility for its moral propositions (or values), whereas morality does not question itself and thereby may unconsciously adopt socially or genetically determined precepts.
nature (following Webster's New World Dictionary) is: "the sum total of all things in time and space; the entire physical universe." Nature is thus the physical environment that happened to be the setting for man’s arising; the cosmos with its particular forces and constants. However, since time and space, and our concepts of the physical universe are all human constructs as well as natural entities, nature must also refer ultimately to the world-in-itself, the Unknown, the Other, as the complement of self or mind (the not-self): that which exists in its own right independent of any epistemic subject. Such a definition does not specify any relationship, which by definition should be kept open. The problem, of course, is that nature in this sense really cannot be an object of knowledge. Science pretends that nature in this sense is the object of its study, while its object is really an idealized construction. System of nature refers to natural reality, according to current ideas, as the specific organic context in which man evolved, the evolutionary "game" of survival or selection that determines animal mentality. Natural means the opposite of artifice.
object, objective, objectivity, objective consciousness, objectivism The essential qualities of "objectness" are realness, integrity, substantiality, distance, otherness, etc, implying that the object can be held in thought, if not in the hand, as a finite thing outside which the epistemic subject can stand. An object is thus intersubjectively knowable through the senses (in contrast to the Unknown, the Cosmos as a whole, the epistemic self, or subjective qualities of experience, for instance). Objectivity has a normative as well as descriptive sense in our culture; it is a value, implying true or valid knowledge or perception. Alternatively (and paradoxically), it also has the connotation of mind-independence (world-in-itself). My position is that objectivity is desirable, but relative and dialectical: mind increases its objective grasp through the skepticism of subjective consciousness. Objective consciousness has a special meaning (following Gurdjieff) as a concern for human and cosmic reality beyond ego motivations. Objectivism is the belief that reality or truth can be perceived through an external focus alone. See also: subject.
organism normally refers to natural living things; the definition of organism becomes significant when we consider whether an artificial organism is a real possibility or a contradiction in terms. The key concept behind organism is autopoiesis or self-definition. The organism refers to living things in the abstract, though sometimes intending the human organism in order to emphasize generality.
otherness, The Other: the not-self, not-‘I’. Modeled on language structure, this includes the “objects” of the second- and third-person points of view—‘thou’ and ‘it’. Otherness is the primary characteristic of the world, as an object of consciousness, after which is realness, externality, spatial location, phenomenal “qualities”, etc.
pain is the experience of the organism of rejecting a particular stimulus that it unself-consciously regards as harmful to its well-being. Suffering is the self-conscious experience of pain; in particular, of rejecting the general condition, in which the self-conscious organism finds itself, of being vulnerable to decay and destruction and hence subjected to its own response of pain. Suffering is meta-pain, so to speak. Implicitly, pain is a natural process necessary to life, reflecting the interests of the organism in participating in the natural contest of survival. But suffering is an effect of rebelling against that participation, against the body and nature, against the necessity of pain as a built-in condition of embodiment. Thus, I may have a physical sensation of pain or irritation in the body that is caused by some objective condition I attempt to alleviate. When I become fed up with the experience itself of pain, then the pain has become suffering, being no longer merely a rejection of the stimulus but also of the response. Suffering is an inevitable consequence of self-consciousness, just as pain is an inevitable consequence of embodiment. The ability to experience pain is a precondition for existence as organic life; perhaps it is fair to say that the ability to suffer is a precondition for self-conscious existence. The human self is not only able to remember a pain-free state (as an animal would), but is able to conceive an ideal condition of freedom from pain, to which it feels entitled simply because it can imagine it. One could say, then, that suffering is a consequence of idealization.
patriarchy is rule by men. The very existence of the term patriarchy, in contrast with matriarchy, is interesting given that there probably exist no societies which do not involve rule by men. Matriarchy does not necessarliy imply rule by women, since rule as we know it may be a male institution. Patriliny is tracing descent through the male line.
perception, cognition, sensation These terms imply the subjective frame (ie, 3rd- person perspective applied to 1st-person perspective), which acknowledges experience as a function of self or mind rather than simply a transparent window on the world. Perception usually means sensory perception that is inseparable from its cognitive function; whereas cognition is a broader category including thought and emotion whose function is, as it were, to answer the question "what is this an experience of?" Science, therefore is a mode of cognition. Sensation, on the other hand, implies an uncognizing registration of sensory input. But as a concept and verbal term, it is necessarily a result of conscious attention and bracketing. Confusion arises in considering sensation a distinct level of processing with the nervous system (as though there is first a separable sensation and then cognition); this confusion is reflected in the notion of sense datum or quality (qualia) as a kind of phenomenological atom of experience.
person is a basic ontological category of being, distinct from object. In this sense, a person is not a body, but a subject, a conscious point of view. In the linguistic sense, person refers to "point of view": first-person refers to the subject speaking; second-person, to the subject spoken to; third-person, to the object spoken of. The word literally refers to speaking: the Greek persona means "through sound" (or "sound through"-- refering to the identifying masks worn in staged dramas).
phenomenon, phenomenal, phenomenal experience In the scientific sense, a phenomenon is an observable occurence, pattern, or relationship between events. In the philosophical sense, phenomenon refers to the bracketed subjective domain of experience, or its contents, in contrast to noumenon, which refers to the world-in itself (Kant's terms). Phenomenal experience (perhaps somewhat redundantly) is the continuum of consciousness as subjectively experienced—more simply experience, the co-product of self and world in the Equation of Experience.
(The) phenotype is the body, the somatic cells, which constitute the organism in contrast to the genotype, the cells of the immortal gene-line.
point of view: the difference between subject and object. In language, the “person” of a declension or conjugation (for example: third-person plural, “we”). By extension, in particular, a distinction must be made between the first-person point of view (‘I’) and the third-person point of view (‘it’).
pollution does not exist in nature. Why? Because nature consists of complex interpenetrating systems that exist in equilibrium, so that by-products of one system are raw materials for another. Pollution is whatever cannot be assimilated within this scheme.
(The) problem of cognitive domains is the dilemma that arises whenever a supposedly objective domain is conceptually abstracted from the domain of experience, but then recycled as the domain from which experience is held to arise. It may seem quite reasonable to think that the universe simply is the way it looks to us, and that (apart from changes over time) it appeared much the same before the arising of life and conscious observers. But there is an error involved in this assumption. We need only ask: appeared to whom? What does it mean, in other words, for there to be an object appearing without reference to a subject, or whose appearance is universally the same to any subject? This question cannot arise for the pre-subjective mind, but as conscious subjects we are stuck with it. It's Berkeley's famous quandary of the tree falling in the forest. We can know or imagine the territory only as it is portrayed to us in our map. Unwittingly, and circularly, we take this image on the map to be the territory which the map portrays, and from which it was presumably drawn. We are simply aware of the world as presented in our normal cognitive domain, which includes the objects encountered in daily life, but not the microscopic events of physics or neurology, for example. To begin with the world of physics as the point of departure for explanations of mental processing must be done with circumspection. For the whole biological enterprise of cognition leads up to and includes the physicist's constructed version of reality, which is then recycled as the starting point! Schopenhauer likened this bootstrap operation to the Baron von Munchausen, who-- in order to cross the river without drowning-- grabbed his own hair to pull himself and his horse above the water!
profit (following Webster's) is: "financial or monetary gain obtained from the use of capital". Using money (or other people's labour) to gain wealth must be distinguished, both economically and morally, from using one's own labour. A self-employed artisan or farmer does not make profit, but only whatever wage can be negotiated. According to the labor theory of value, wealth is generated by productive effort. Therefore, the effect (and purpose) of profit is not to contribute to the increase of general wealth, but to leverage a larger share for oneself of existing wealth. In other words, to get something for nothing-- or, if not nothing, then for a different kind or level of effort than that of production.
proof (see: truth)
quality, qualia These terms refer to the bracketed sense of the (irreducible) properties of phenomenal experience. For instance, the redness of the colour red itself as opposed to the red appearance of a ripe apple.
random(ness) is an inherently problematic idea, since there is no general way to identify (prove) random sequences before the fact. The idea of the intrinsically (objectively) random process is a metaphysical assumption, extrapolated from patterns observed (after the fact) to follow a Gaussian curve.
real, reality, realism, realizing faculty Real means not ideal, in both the descriptive and normative senses (an admittedly circular definition). It is a fundamental category of dualistic experience, corresponding to the subject/object dichotomy. The notion of realness or reality is used in common parlance in several distinct, and not necessarily consistent ways:
1. The true and independent existence and nature of the external world, pre-dating the presence of minds. This is the world-in-itself, the noumenon, mind-independent external reality.
2. The experience of that world in the consciousness of a mind-- particularly as it reflects "truly or "accurately" the existence and nature of the external world.
3. An experiential quality with which mind imbues that part of its contents it intends to credit with the attributes of realness, viz: independence of mind, inherent self-existence, solidity and tangibility (literally or metaphorically), causal efficacy, etc.
4. The continuum of experience; phenomena considered as the totality of all (of a mind’s) objects of experience; the context or inner environment or "world" within which the subjective self has its life.
I specifically exclude sense #4, for which I substitute the term experience, when I wish to emphasize the phenomenal aspect; I sometimes use a world or one's world when I wish to emphasize the aspect of a coherent whole that is a mind's environment, and to which the it attributes varying degrees and levels of realness. This precludes "my reality" or "your reality" as legitimate expressions, the New Age notwithstanding. I hold that there is one reality common to all, if not directly accessible to any.
Sense #1 is the primary, transcendent, or absolute meaning of ‘reality’ for me. By this definition reality cannot enter into experience. That is, we cannot experience the world as it is in itself, independent of mind, because experience takes place in mind. The fact that reality constitutes a separate domain from its representations in consciousness is one formulation of the Mind-Body Problem. In Kant’s terms, reality is transcendent; we know or perceive only phenomena, never noumena; anything that enters consciousness (and hence knowledge) does so as phenomenon, as "experience"-- the mind’s image of reality.
But obviously we do distinguish real and unreal things within phenomenal experience. We acknowledge the reality of the external world, as given in experience, as somehow accurately (or at least adequately) representing that world as it is in its own right. The tricky part is to understand that the image, in consciousness, of the world cannot be said to resemble the world itself in the way that an optical image resembles the scene from which it is formed. While the optical image and the representation in consciousness are both mappings in a mathematical sense, the optical mapping is a transformation strictly within the domain of physical reality, while the mental mapping crosses ontological categories, unless we consider it strictly as transforms within the brain. These can be construed, ambivalently, as either causal or logical operations. Then the mental is the physical.
In sense #3, reality or The Real is what has power of life and death over the organism, and "realness" expresses the organism's recognition or "cognitive belief" to that effect. While reality, in this sense, is an attribute of the world, emphasis is on the ability of the organism to attribute it as a quality. Ironically, this appears to contradict sense #1, in that it is a function of the nature and needs of the organism (or self,or mind) more than a property of the environment. But what is expressed here is the relationship between the two. Realness is not solely a function of the world-in-itself but also (like all experience) a function of the organism's needs and structure as well.
Realism is the belief that the external world actually exists and is knowable. Naïve realism is the unself-conscious perception of the world, the belief that reality is presented (literally and correctly) in everyday experience, or that perception of the world is unmediated by mind. The realizing faculty is my term for the mental function that imposes the quality of realness upon some experience. It is the projective, reifying tendency of mind to perceive something (and, in general, the world) as external, objective, and above all "real", ie holding sway of life or death over the epistemic ego.
reify, reification means to make some element of experience into an object, a thing—especially when that element might more felicitously be thought of as a relationship, process, quality, etc. The subjective power to reify is the foundation of the human realm as a construction independent of nature. It is the origin and basis of metaphysics as well as physics, of technology as well as religion.
representation, symbolic representation is selective mapping from one domain to another, preserving or highlighting characteristics which are of significance to the agent in question. The organism's bridge between its own domain and that of its environment is its intentional mappings between these domains. Through representation, experience informs the creature of the world in terms of its relationship to the world. This process is more like divining or auguring from signs, such as patterns of tea leaves, than it is like photography. The appropriate metaphor is more of that of a key that fits a lock than the view through a window or lens. Adaptation unlocks patterns of perceptual behavior favoring survival. Phylogenetically speaking, we see what we need to see in order to exist. The functions involved in perceiving visual space, for example, have to do with navigation and manipulation, so that the reality of an object refers to its possible physical interactions with the subject. In particular, the properties of solidity and mass, movement and location refer to possible (dangerous) contact with the organism. The sense of realness per se refers to the general or potential power of the object, or of the entire environment, over the organism.
(My own) representation theory of consciousness is that cognition is like an interpreted formal system, one pressed into the service of mapping the external world. Other interpretations could be possible for a given system, and other systems could map the same territory. The subjectively experienced suchness and realness of experience derives from accepting the premises of one's cognitive system (the map), in much the way that logical conclusions derive from accepted axioms. This expresses the mind's irreducible intentionality-- its "animal faith" in its own cognitive axioms. This faith is underwritten by, and ultimately refers to, the fact that organisms in possession of such a system survive to reproduce. We are here because what we are has allowed us to be here, and the world is represented just as it is in our experience for the same reason.
schema, schemata (see: model)
self may refer to: (1) the epistemic subject or ego, the point of view on phenomenal experience, one of the two constituting "variables" of the Equation of Experience, in contrast to the other variable, the (external) world; (2) the conscous subject in contrast to the body in particular; (3) the organism in contrast to its environment, especially other organisms; (4) one's own person in contrast to other persons. Sense #4 is the common usage, as in self-seeking; sense #3 is used in evolutionary contexts, as in selfish gene; sense #2 occurs in spiritual contexts, as in higher self; sense #1 is the primary philosophical use, as in self-conscious.
self-consciousness is the reflexive state or act of being aware of being aware
sexual selection is the preference by one sex of certain traits in the other when it comes to choosing mates-- as distinguished from natural selection, which is more generally the preponderance of certain traits over others in the sexual system of reproduction by virtue of the fitness they confer. The concept of "fitness", however, is circular to the degree it means little more than the ability to produce offspring-- that is, to find mates. Likewise, sexual selection is redundant to the degree that the traits chosen do not necessarily refer to any general superiority of the organism (though they may).
(The) sexual system of reproduction (or sexual reproduction) is the arrangement whereby offspring are the product of two germ lines, in contrast to asexual reproduction, which is essentially cloning of one germ line. Current understanding is that the mixing of genetic material produces combinations useful in the "arms race" against parasites.
somatic referent: the particular, localized sensation in the body which is associated with a feeling, emotion, concept, or cognitive judgment, and which constitutes the physical "evidence" justifying that judgment. It is something like the notion of "sense data", except that it is a genuine and irreducible phenomenal occurence, and does not imply the paradoxical existence of unconscious levels (cognitive domains) of pre-processing, which are supposed to be the starting points for cognitive processing. Rather than a starting point, it is rather the result of a conscious manipulation or bracketing whereby one may identify and attend to sensations in the body that one suspects to be the basis of cognitive beliefs. This bracketing is the gist of certain practices of meditation, as I understand them, eg Vipassana.
soul, spirit These terms are used variously to mean either a quality or an entity. The latter, by my account, is a product of reification, an unjustifiable objectification of the epistemic subject. Mind and consciousness are often similarly reified in idealist traditions.
subject, subjective, subjectivity, subjective consciousness, subjectivism The subject is the epistemic ego, the first-person point of view, in contrast to the object, which is what is experienced from that point of view (see also: self, in sense #1). Subjective as a normative term is often pejorative, especially in the common parlance of our externally-oriented culture. Descriptively, however, it refers to the inner realm, the contents of experience when bracketed as such. Subjectivity can refer either to the (pejorative) condition of being limited to subjective perceptions and responses, or to subjective consciousness, which is interchangeable with self-consciousness. Subjectivism is the belief that only the subjective realm is real or true (ie, there is no external reality). Language parallels mind in that subject and object have both grammatical as well as epistemic functions.
subjective frame: the act or effect of bracketing (an) experience as subjective. The subjective frame is (metaphorically) like the frame around a picture, which establishes the context of its content on a different logical level than the surroundings.
system of nature (see: nature)
technology While culture might be understood as the extended phenotype of a self-conscious organism, technology is more specifically how such an organism manipulates the physical environment to its advantage. Many foundational technologies (eg weaving) are "soft" in their impact upon environments. The Greek techne simply means art or artifice, hence any transformation of materials. This does not in itself imply the express intention to create an artificial environment, or what we consider "hard" technology (machines), only to use ingenuity to advantage in the game of survival. Modern technology, dominated by the mechanist metaphor, is a product of the expressly masculine intention to displace nature by artifice.
transcendence is a fundamental ability of self-conscious mind, the capacity of consciousness to step outside of any structure, system, or limit, merely by identifying it as such—the act of “going meta”. It is dialectically related to the capacity to reify or “identify”. It is sometimes contrasted with ‘immanence’, which means ‘dwelling within’. In theology, transcendent divinity (the male Godhead) is above and outside nature, rather than immanent within it.
truth (in contrast to proof) implies a state of affairs that exists in itself absolutely; but a fundamental corollary of self-consciousness is that any proposition or belief requires a mind to formulate it and a method to establish it. If proof is held to be merely an inconvenient detour to a truth that exists prior to and independent of any methods of proof, then reasoning and provability are dispensable, since the mind can justify its leaps by direct appeal to "intuition". Certainly the mind can conceive a theorem or proposition as true or false before a proof has been undertaken, just as it conceives that objects continue to exist when out of sight. Theorems may be intuited as true, even though unprovable in any known system, just as some physical entities may be suspected to exist, though yet unobserved.
In contrast, provability is always relative to some particular formal system. By definition, it is decidable for all mathematically complete systems. Since proof means derivability from axioms, no system can prove its own axioms, but can only justify itself either as convention or by appeal to some outside reality. Truth refers to such a reality beyond the pale of a given system or its methods. Proof is always proof-within-a-system, relying on an intentional acceptance of the premises and methods of the given system. Truth is absolute, in that it refuses to specify its premises-- to be axiomatized, in other words-- since that would imply having to appeal to a domain beyond itself for justification.
Turing Test: a thought experiment devised by mathematician Alan Turing in the 1930's to demonstrate heuristically the central proposition that artificial intelligence is not different in principle from natural intelligence. Two inputs, from unseen sources, are supplied to a subject, one from a human being and the other from a computer. By asking questions and setting tasks, the subject tries to determine which is which. Turing's heuristic point is that, if you can't tell the difference then there isn't any.
Unknown The Unknown can mean that which is currently unknown, but potentially knowable; or that which cannot be known in principle. In any case, it refers to what lies beyond a horizon or limit to knowledge. As a concept, it inherently paradoxical, since it can only be conceived or discussed as an object lying within this horizon. Hence, it is particularly vulnerable to projection, as in imagining things in the dark. It is the ontological crux of the duality of attitudes: surrender/control.
world: the ensemble of objects; the fundamental complement of self in the Equation of Experience; the external world; the natural physical cosmos. A world is rather the self-contained milieu of a mind or game (eg: the world of Monopoly, the business world, the world of James Joyce).
world-in-itself (cf Kant's Dinge an sich): reality before mind gets its hands on it; the Unknown; the world variable in the Equation of Experience. Inescapably a paradoxical notion, it arises from the fact of self-consciousness, which brackets an element of experience as both mind-dependent and mind-independent.
World Machine: the cosmos understood in terms of the metaphor of mechanism, purely as an object of the third-person point of view. In particular, Newton’s “system of the world.’ The great, and unrecognized, achievement of globalization is to redefine the human world virtually as an economic machine.
zombie In philosophy, a zombie is a creature displaying all the apparent signs of consciousness, but without actual consciousness. The assumption is that consciousness plays no causally effective role in the behavior of a (conscious) organism.
© Copyright Dan Bruiger 2008. All rights reserved.