Order: Phantasm

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@ K. 2001 12 22

Order as Kleptocratic Camouflage

Mission: to challenge kleptocratic societies’ abuse of the concept of order

Concepts are like taffy: they stick together, and then pull each other: this way and that. The concept “order” relates to other sticky concepts: the “random,” “entropy” …

Today I want to make only one simple point about “order”: then leave it till I can come back and do it better justice. If I take a number series — “1, 3, 1, 3, 1, 3, 1, 3 …” and lose one of the characters: “1, 3, 3, 1, 3, 1, 3 …,” those who see the repetition of the “1, 3” pattern might say that “order” has been lost or diminished. Sure: a particular order. But how can a human being say that Order has been diminished (or its corollary: disorder increased)? Wouldn’t we have to know the whole picture? How do we know what order the second string makes without seeing the whole of it and then also seeing all possible contexts, settings? Even if we could “see” “all,” what would justify our believing that we penetrated all patterns of what we saw?

In other words, a sentient creature like man has some nerve imagining that his sense of order is anything but subjective.

More follows below.

Some will immediately fall back on a position like “Well, God would know …” How could God know either? How could God see all? Doesn’t vision require an apparatus? retina, optic nerve … visual cortex? The visual cortex can hardly see itself: therefore, it necessarily isn’t seeing all?

Doesn’t perception, understanding … take even more apparatus than the visual cortex? However much we understand, there has to be even more left over that we don’t even perceive let alone understand.

The universe is make up both of the patterns that we see and the patterns that we don’t see. I don’t want to hold my breath until we see them. I say it will be never.

What I hate is inefficiency masquerading as Order.
Terry Gilliam, Commentary on Brazil

Brief expansion of the latter theology: Some would say, Well God is a spirit: God don’t need no apparatus. Let’s concede that we don’t know what’s possible, are reluctant to rule anything out. OK, I don’t know what God could or couldn’t do. What advantage does the believer have over the skeptic? We still have the problem of what man can know about wholes. If we can’t know the whole universe, we certainly can’t know any whole God either. Oh, but God told me. It doesn’t matter what God told you: our understanding is simply unreliable. And belief doesn’t change that problem.

The Rubik Cube came with the assumption that sides where all nine sub-squares were of the same color were “right”: that was the “solved” position, that the position where all six sides were solidly colored was wholly “solved.” With a deck of cards dealt four ways as in a bridge hand, each player receiving all one suit is regarded as having a “perfect” hand. Note that any other possible combination is equally probable, equally improbable. If the rules demanded that any other specific distribution were valuable, that distribution would come (or fail to arrive) with equal probability. I once failed to make this point to my bridge playing mother who took the given rules as sacrosanct and could see other distributions only as “garbage.”


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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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