Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Epistemology / Abstractions /
@ K. 2005 08 15
The practical man, the sensible woman, may agree that they are materialistic even if they bridle at hints of “crass materialism.” But if you monitor their speech (if you could tap their thoughts), were you to chart word frequencies, you’d likely find their thoughts to be almost entirely abstract. I generalize from actual counts that I’ve seen reported. “Time” is one of the most common referents: is time material? Space, the familiar dimensions, solid things, may pervade Time, but Time itself is non-spatial. It weights nothing, has no location. Even the atheist references God, but despite images with beards, believers insist that God is pure spirit.
Abstractions easily come in pure form, realities don’t.
Now we all talk about cyberspace. Where is that, pray tell?
When I devoted decades of my writing to abstractions — God, Christ, intensionality, evolution, homeostasis … — nothing came back to me that I could recognize as recognition. I interpret my experience as a symptom that what’s wrong with us cannot be fixed: at least not by talking. Gregory Bateson distinguished Hard Learning from Soft Learning. Humans have learning0, hard-wired knowledge, in common with insects, with bacteria. Insects do not normally display learning1, learning new things, solving a puzzle, which humans do. Learning2, learning to learn, is occasionally exhibited by complex-large-brained creatures: and by abstractions: sea shores, forests, genera. Learning3 we can’t even imagine examples of, not even if we invoke God. That’s out of reach.
But I believe that if we don’t do a little bit better with learning2, particularly with regard to abstractions (and the existential class of things), that we won’t be doing much more learning1 in the world we’re making, and learning0 will be unable to help us.
I gather a few modules where I find abstraction a significant issue into this sub-folder of my Society section.Some aspects of nearly any pk module belong here.