Spectra

Knatz.com / Teaching / Thinking Tools /
@ K. 2000 12 08

Spectra: The Topological Irresponsibility of Common Metaphors
(Relates to Edges, Boundaries … Whole/Part …)
Mission: to aid us in considering things as spectra, diapasons

Simple logic categorized Yes/No, True or False for many things. Alternately we view some things as ranging over a series of values. Things we measure carefully often turn out to have values measurable as decimal fractions: the average family has N.n children. Something we look at very carefully, like the number π upon examination brings us up short. Why, it’s irrational: the decimal fraction seems to be infinite.

I believe that many of the things we tend to look at as True/False would be better looked at as decimal fractions. Take a concept such as sentience for example: or consciousness.

Is a rock sentient? No. It’s false that a rock is sentient. How about a bacterium? No: false. But shouldn’t our knowledge perhaps be absolute before we make that judgment with certainly? Ilya Prigogine suggests that we forget about certainty and stick with what we can know.

Are human beings sentient? Yes. That one’s true: human beings are sentient. OK. Now: now sentient are we? Absolutely? How about the human being kept in a box in a “school” for retards? How about the human being in a coma in the hospital? How about the human being watching TV? What about the kid receiving communion for the first time? How about the adult receiving communion for the Nth time? don’t decimal fractions apply: even though (I find) it obvious that we can’t determine exactly what that decimal fraction is?

One last thought for the moment: Estimate a range of values for human sentience. Now estimate a range of values for possible sentience: zero to what?

Finally: how do they compare? Do you believe humans are 98.7% sentient? Or 0.00029 sentient?

I believe human society would benefit if these questions were asked routinely of institutions as well as concepts. Is justice uniformly served by Justice Departments? What decimal fraction of the time is “Science” scientific? How routinely do universities serve “the pursuit of truth”? How much of Democracy silences the voices of critics? What portion of the time does this or that church serve “God”? All? Half? Zero?

I trust the reader recognizes that we tend to accord assumptions of uniformity to institutions that we’d never dream of assuming for individuals. Little Billy lies 0.10 of the time; the government never: the government’s truthfulness is 00.0n.


Once I start to do more with this section, make sure I devote some space to “order” as a direction along a spectrum, not a “thing.”

Order: a reduction of choices

Information, especially as it includes my theory of Macroinformation, is among my most important Thinking Tools. I was developing some important thoughts about Spectra at Macroinformation.org when my work got interrupted, crippled, sabotages, censored … by my arrest and the subsequent destruction of my five internet domains. I was trying to reestablish the work at my Macroinformation blog: then at BlogSpot.com, now here, at pKnatz blog.

Thinking Tools

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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