Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tao non-objectivity

The loss of distinction between observer and observed, already evident at physical level 0 and argument of 2nd cybernetics, generally extends to all levels of description/interaction:

Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson in Bajoeng Gedé (photograph by Walter Spies)


All experience is subjective. This is only a simple corollary of a point ... that our brains make the images that we think we "perceive."
It is significant that all perception – all conscious perception – has image characteristics. A pain is localize somewhere. It has a beginning and an end and a location and stands out against a background. These are the elementary components of an image. When somebody steps on my toe, what I experience is, not his stepping on my toe, but my image of his stepping on my toe reconstructed from neural reports reaching my brain somewhat after his foot has landed on mine. Experience of the exterior is always mediated by particular sense organs and neural pathways. To that extent, objects are creation, and my experience of them is subjective, not objective.
It is, however, not a trivial assertion to note that very few persons, at least in occidental culture, doubt the objectivity of such sense data as pain or their visual images of the external world. Our civilization is deeply based on this illusion.

the Teh of Tao

- 10 -

Can you coax your mind from its wandering
and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become
supple as a newborn child's?
Can you cleanse your inner vision
until you see nothing but the light?
Can you love people and lead them
without imposing your will?
Can you deal with the most vital matters
by letting events take their course?
Can you step back from you own mind
and thus understand all things?

Giving birth and nourishing,
having without possessing,
acting with no expectations,
leading and not trying to control:
this is the supreme virtue.

appearance and substance of Tao


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"Got you. You're mine now. For the rest of the day, week, month, year, life. Have you guessed who I am? Sometimes I think you have. Sometimes when you're standing in a crowd I feel those sultry, dark eyes of yours stop on me. Are you too afraid to come up to me and let me know how you feel? I want to moan and writhe with you and I want to go up to you and kiss your mouth and pull you to me and say "I love you I love you I love you" while stripping. I want you so bad it stings. I want to kill the ugly girls that you're always with. Do you really like those boring, naive, coy, calculating girls or is it just for sex? The seeds of love have taken hold, and if we won't burn together, I'll burn alone."

"Took a charter flight on a DC-10 to London. Landed at Heathrow. Took a cab to the city center. Don't let people lie to you: hostels are for the ugly. I'm staying in Home House, the most beautiful hotel in the world. Called a friend from school who was selling hash, but she wasn't in. Met a couple of Brits who take me to, of all places, Camden Street. I flirt a bit at the Virgin Megastore, buy some CDs, then follow some girls with pink hair. I wandered around trying to get laid, until it started to rain, then went back to Home House. Ministry of Sound is dead, so I go to Remform - but it's Gay Night. I find the one hetero girl in the place and we dry hump on the dance floor. We cab it back to Home House. I strip her clothes off, suck her toes, and we fuck. I hung out for four or five days. Met the world's biggest DJ, Paul Oakenfold. Kept missing the Changing of the Guards. Wrote my mom a postcard I never sent. Bought some speed from an Italian junkie who was trying to sell me a stolen bike. Smoked a lot of hash that had too much tobacco in it. Saw the Tate. Saw Big Ben. Ate a lot of weird English food. It rained a lot, it was expensive, and I'm jonesing... So, I split for Amsterdam. The Dutch all know English, so I didn't have to speak any Dutch - which was a relief. I cruise the Red Light District. Visit a sex show. Visit a sex museum. Smoke a lot of hash. I meet a Dutch TV actress and we drink absinthe at a bar called Absinthe. The museums were cool, I guess. Lots of Van Goghs and the Vermeers were intense. Wandered around. Bought a lot of pastries. Ate some intense waffles. We bought some coke and I cruised the Red Light District, until I found some blonde with big tits that reminds me of Lara. I gave her a hundred guilders. In the end, she pulls me out, and I cum between her tits, even though I'm wearing a rubber. Afterward we made small-talk about AIDS, her Moroccan pimp, and herself. I wake to the sound of a wino singing. It's 8 AM and hot as blazes. I pretend to ice-skate around Central Station, while someone plays the sax. Trade songs with a Kiwi girl... Then split for Paris by train. Wander the Champs-Elysees. Climb the Eiffel Tower for only seven francs, because the ticket machine was broken. Got the hang of the Metro, took it everywhere. Went to a Ford model party and hooked up with a Romanian model named Karina. She chugs my cock at the Mariott Champs-Elysees, which is good. We played billiards, went shopping. I think she gave me mono. Drove a Ferrari that belonged to a member of the Saudi royal family. Made out with a Dutch model in front of the Louvre. Saw the Arc de Triomphe and almost became road-kill crossing the street... "Oakie" invites me to Dublin, so I catch an Aer Lingus flight and stay at the Morrison. Dublin rocks like you can't imagine. Oakenfold lets me spin some discs with him. Irish girls are as small as leprechauns. I swap hickeys with a drunk woman. After groping my abs and calling me "Mr. L.A.", she strips for me in the bath room of the club. Sneak into the Guinness factory and steal some stout so good my dick goes hard... I fly to Barcelona, which was a low-rent bust. Too many fat American students. Too many lame meat markets. I dropped acid at the Sagrada Familia, which was a trip to say the least. Cruise up the coast to the Museo Gala Dali, but had no more acid, which sucked. Some girl from Camden calls me on my cell, so I let her listen to the church bells in Cadaques. Canta Cruz is beautiful, but there are no girls here, just old hippies... So, I went to Switzerland where I, ironically, couldn't find anyone who had the time. Took the Glacier Express up the Schilthorn, which is beautiful in a way I can't describe... Euro Pass into Italy and ended up in Venice, where I met a hot girl who looks like Rachael Leigh Cook and speaks better English than I do. She's living for a year on only five dollars a day. We gondola around, buy some masks. She think's I'm a capitalist, because my hotel room costs more for one night than she's spending her entire trip. But she doesn't mind it so much when I pay the bills... I ditch her and hook up with a couple who obviously want a 3-some. Too much tension there, but the doofus offers to drive me to Rome, an offer I jump at. Traffic is bad and we're stopped for hours without moving. The wife turns out to be a freak. The guy starts to wig out on me. It's like a Polanski film... We stop for a while in Florence, where I see some big dome. A bomb goes off and I lose the weird couple, which is probably for the best... Ended up in Rome, which is big and hot and dirty. It was just like L.A., but with ruins. I went to the Vatican, which was ridiculously opulent. Stood for two hours to get into the Sistine Chapel, which - now that it's been cleaned - looks fake. I meet two under-age Italian girls who I try to talk into fucking each other while I jack off onto them. Bored, I buy them some ice cream instead. My hotel has a gym, so I work out. I bump into some guy from Camden who says he knows me, but I'm sure that he's a fag, so I lose him. I try to fart and instead shit my pants. Back in my hotel room, I masturbate and have a pain in my groin. That night, I dream about a beautiful girl, half in water, stretching her lean body. She asks me if I like it and I tell her she can clean fish with it. I don't know what it means, but I wake well-rested, masturbate in the shower, and check out... I make my way back to London and hang out in Piccadilly Circus. Hmm. Palakon. I swap shirts with some upper-crusty Cambridge chick. Hers was an Agnes B., mine a Costume Nationale. She acts stuffy and prudish, but is really wild underneath it all. She barely looks at my abs, though she wants to. The next day, I drop some acid and get lost in the subway for a full day and can't find my way out. I meet a cute girl who lets me jack off onto her as long as no cum gets onto her Paul Smith coat. We get stoned while listening to Michael Jackson records and the next morning I wake up talking to myself. I have a big bump on my head from flailing in my sleep. I get my stuff and barely make my plane back to the United States... I no longer know who I am and I feel like the ghost of a total stranger."

not prove but probe the Tao


Science sometimes improves hypothesis and sometimes disproves them. But proof would be another matter and perhaps never occurs except in the realms of totally abstract tautology. We can sometimes say that if such and such abstract suppositions or postulates are given, then such and such abstract suppositions or postulates are given, then such and such must follow absolutely. But the truth about what can be perceived or arrived at by induction from perception is something else again.
Let us say that truth would mean a precise correspondence between out description and what we describe or between our total network of abstractions and deductions and some total understanding of the outside world. Truth in this sense is not obtainable. And even if we ignore the barriers of coding, the circumstance that our description will be in words or figures or pictures but that what we describe is going to be in flesh and blood and action – even disregarding that hurdle of translation, we shall never be able to claim final knowledge of anything whatsoever.
A conventional way of arguing this matter is somewhat as follows: Let us say that I offer you a series – perhaps of number, perhaps of other indications – and that I provide the presupposition that the series is ordered. For the sake of simplicity, let it be a series of numbers:
2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12
Then I ask you, "What is the next number in this series?" You will probably say, "14."
But if you do, I will say, "Oh, no. The next number is 27." In other words, the generalization to which you jumped from the data given in the first instance – that the series was the series of even numbers – was proved to be wrong or only approximate by the next event.
Let us pursue the matter further. Let me continue my statement by creating a series as follows:
2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 27, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 27, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 27, …
Now if I ask you to guess the next number, you will probably say, "2." After all, you have been given tree repetitions of the sequence from 2 to 27; and if you are a good scientist, you will be influenced by the presupposition called Occam’s razor, or the rule of parsimony: that is, a preference for the simplest assumption that will fit the facts. On the basis of simplicity you will make the next prediction. But those facts – what are they? They are not, after all, available to you beyond the end of the (possibly incomplete) sequence that has been given.
You assume that you can predict, and indeed I suggested this presupposition to you. But the only basis you have is your (trained) preference for the simpler answer and your trust that my challenge indeed meant that the sequence was incomplete and ordered.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), it is so that the next fact is never available. All you have is the hope of simplicity, and the next fact may always drive you to the next level of complexity.
Or let us say that for any sequence of numbers I can offer, there will always be a few ways of describing that sequence which will be simple, but there will be an infinite number of alternative ways not limited by the criterion of simplicity.
Suppose the numbers are represented by letters:
x, w, p, n
and so on. Such letters could stand for any numbers whatsoever, even fractions. I have only to repeat the series three or four times in some verbal or visual or other sensory form, even in the forms of pain or kinesthesia, and you will begin to perceive pattern in what I offer you. It will become in your mind – and in mine – a theme, and it will have aesthetic value. To that extent, it will be familiar and understandable.
But the pattern may be changed or broken by addition, by repetition, by anything that will force you to a new perception of it, and these changes can never be predicted with absolute certainty because they have not yet happened.
We do not know enough about how the present will lead into the future. We shall never be able to say, "Ha! My perception, my accounting for that series, will indeed cover its next and future components," or " Next time I meet with these phenomena, I shall be able to predict their total course."
Prediction can never be absolutely valid and therefore science can never prove some generalization or even test a single descriptive statement and in that way arrive at final truth.
There are other ways of arguing this impossibility. The argument of this book – which again, surely, can only convince you insofar as what I say fits with what you know and which may be collapsed or totally changed in a few years – presupposes that science is a way of perceiving and making what we may call "sense" of our percepts. But perception operates only upon difference. All receipt of information is necessarily the receipt of news of difference, and all perception of difference is limited by threshold. Differences that are too slight or too slowly presented are not perceivable. They are not food for perception.
It follows that what we, as scientists, can perceive is always limited by threshold. That is, what is subliminal will not be grist for our mill. Knowledge at any given moment will be a function of the thresholds of our available means of perception. The invention of the microscope or the telescope or of means of measuring time to the faction of a nanosecond or weighing quantities of matter to millionths of a gram – all such improved devices of
perception will disclose what was utterly unpredictable from the levels of perception that we could achieve before that discovery.
Not only can we not predict into the next instant of future, but, more profoundly, we cannot predict into the next dimension of the microscopic, the astronomically distant, or the geologically ancient. As a method of perception – and that is all science can claim to be – science, like all other methods of perception, is limited in its ability to collect the outward and visible signs of whatever may be truth.
Science probes; it does not prove.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Immortal Dialogues of Tao: but how do you speak??! Words are importaaant!

Reporter: I do not know, but certainly she has experienced a broken marriage ...
Michele: What do you say?? 
Reporter: Maybe I touched a topic that does ... 
Michele: No. .. no ... is the expression. It is not the issue, not the argument, not the subject ... is the expression.Wedding in pieces But as she speaks ...!?!?! 
Reporter: Prefers "relationship in crisis? but it's so kitsch ...
Michele: Kitsch! Where do you go to take these expressions, where picked up ...??!??!( touching his heart) 
Reporter: I'm not a beginner ... 
Michele: a beginner ... but as she speaks?
Reporter: ... even though my environment is very "cheap"... 
Michele: Your environment is very ...?
Reporter: It is very "cheap" 
Michele: Your environment is very ...?
Reporter: It is very "cheap" 
Michele: But how is this? [Slap sound] 
Reporter: Listen, you're crazy! 
Michele: And two. How to talk! How to talk! Words are important. How you speakkkkkk!

Red Wood Pigeon

Every schoolboy knows about Tao

In the first chapter of Mind and Nature Bateson outlines a series of evidence (ironically titled "Every schoolboy knows..." (or should know...) which explicitly express a basis for an epistemology of living systems:

"By education most have been misled;
So they believe because they were so bred.
The priest continues what the nurse began,
And thus the child imposes on the man".

John Dryden, "The Hind and the Panther".

"Science, like art, religion, commerce, warfare, and even sleep, is based on presuppositions. It differs, however, from most other branches of human activity in that not only are the pathways of scientific thought determined by the presuppositions of the scientists but their goals are the testing and revision of old presuppositions and the creation of new."

Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tao variations

the map of Tao is not the Tao

The treatment of logical levels in the Russell hierarchy leads to several epistemological implications, in particular to the diversity of the logical level of description and described:

This principle, made famous by Alfred Korzybski, strikes at many levels. It reminds us in a general way that when we think of coconuts or pigs, there are no coconuts or pigs in the brain. But in a more abstract way, Korzybski’s statement asserts that in all thought or perception or communication about perception, there is a transformation, a coding, between the report and the thing reported, the Ding an sich. Above all, the relation between the report and that mysterious thing reported tends to have the nature of a classification, an assignment of the thing to a class. Naming is always classifying, and mapping is essentially the same as naming.
Korzybski was, on the whole, speaking as a philosopher, attempting to persuade people to discipline their manner of thinking. But he could not win. When we come to apply his dictum to the natural history of human mental process, the matter is not quite so simple. The distinction between the name and the thing named or the map and the territory is perhaps really made only by the dominant hemisphere of the brain. The symbolic and affective hemisphere, normally on the right-hand side, is probably unable to distinguish name from thing named. It is certainly not concerned with this sort of distinction. It therefore happens that certain nonrational types of behavior are necessarily present in human life. We do, in fact, have two hemispheres; and we cannot operate somewhat differently from the other, and we cannot get away from the tangles that that difference proposes.
For example, with the dominant hemisphere, we can regard such a thing as a flag as a sort of name of the country or organization that it represents. But the right hemisphere does not draw this distinction and regards the flag as sacramentally identical with what it represents. So "Old Glory" is the United States. If somebody steps on it, the response may be rage. And this rage will not be diminished by an explanation of map-territory relations. (After all, the man who tramples the flag is equally identify it with that for which it stands.) There is always and necessarily be a large number of situations in which the response is not guided by the logical distinction between the name and the thing named.

fanfare for a common Tao

Cremated, Ashes scattered scattered in a bower at the Tanglewood Music Center in Berkshire County, Massachusetts

Undecidable Tao

Proposition VI: To every ω-consistent recursive class c of formulae there correspond
recursive class-signs r, such that neither v Gen r nor Neg(v Gen r) belongs to Flg (c) (where v is the free variable of r).
All coherent axiomatizations of arithmetic contains undecidable propositions.

In one of the most important works of logic of all time Kurt Gödel in 1931 proved two theorems limiting based on Principia Mathematica, but in fact valid (...and related systems) for every formal system powerful enough.

The first incompleteness theorem states that:
In every mathematical theory T expressive enough to contain arithmetic, there is a formula φ such that if T is consistent, then neither φ nor its negation Neg(φ) are provable in T.
with some simplification:
In any consistent formalization of mathematics that is sufficiently powerful to axiomatize the elementary theory of natural numbers - that is, powerful enough to define the structure of natural numbers with the operations of sum and product - it is possible to construct a proposition that is syntactically correct which can be neither proved nor disproved within the system itself.

The second incompleteness theorem of Gödel, already quoted, obtained, essentially, by formalizing the proof of the first incompleteness theorem within the theory itself, states:
For any formal effectively generated theory T including basic arithmetical truths and also certain truths about formal provability, T includes a statement of its own consistency if and only if T is inconsistent.
with some simplification:
No consistent system can be used to prove its own consistency.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

the Decalogue of Tao

The foreword to Kieslowski & Piesiewicz, Decalogue: The Ten Commandments, London: Faber & Faber, 1991

I am always reluctant to single out some particular feature of the work of a major filmmaker because it tends inevitably to simplify and reduce the work. But in this book of screenplays by Krzysztof Kieslowski and his co-author, Krzysztof Piesiewicz, it should not be out of place to observe that they have the very rare ability to dramatize their ideas rather than just talking about them. By making their points through the dramatic action of the story they gain the added power of allowing the audience to discover what's really going on rather than being told. They do this with such dazzling skill, you never see the ideas coming and don't realize until much later how profoundly they have reached your heart.

Stanley Kubrick, January 1991

K.K. was in France and was doing an audition to an actress who told him this story: years before he was ill, was destroyed on the verge of suicide ... one morning she was coming out of the house, in Paris, and she realizes that as he walks across the street is Marcel Marceau, the greatest mime ever, which is going about his business ... all of a sudden Marceau's glance, only a very brief look, just a moment ... she said at Kieslowski that look who saved her life, she no longer killed herself just for that look ... a look of Marceau clearly that's not really any one look, but this is not the point ...

the point is what Kieslowski says, with whom she is well along, that maybe the meaning of all  the life of Marceau, his birth, because he came to the world, was just to make that look, that one moment to save her life ..

Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw

Tao limits

In any type of system (artificial, conceptual, mental, living, natural) given a state variable or process, or the input-output relationship, its variation will always be limited in terms of another variable on which it depends. In other words, no system variable or process may tend to infinity indefinitely.A typical example is the output/input relation of the type:

In Part I it was assumed that the system is linear, if not you can always return to a linear graph by transforming the output axis, for example if the variable is exponential returns to the logarithm of the variable. At the beginning of Part II the output variable goes into a situation of saturation, where it loses linearity and becomes sub-linear. In Part III, for high values of input, the output undergoes oscillations until the destruction of the system.
In the words of Bateson:

A monotone value is one that either only increases or only decreases. Its curves has no kinks; that is, its curve never changes from increase to decrease or vice versa. Desired substances, things, patterns, or sequences of experience that are in some sense "good" for the organism - items of diet, conditions of life, temperature, entertainment, sex, and so forth - are never such that more of the something is always better than less of the something. Rather, for all objects and experiences, there is a quantity that has optimum value. Above that quantity, the variable becomes toxic. To fall below that value is to be deprived.
This characteristic of biological value does not hold for money. Money is always transitively valued. More money is supposedly always better than less money. Fore example, $1001 is to be preferred to $1000. But this is not so for biological values. More calcium is not always better than less calcium. There is an optimum quantity of calcium that a given organism may need in its diet. Beyond this, calcium becomes toxic. Similarly, for oxygen that we breathe or food or components of diet and probably all components of relationship, enough is better than a feast. We can even have too much
psychotherapy. A relationship with no combat in it is dull, and a relationship with too much combat in it is toxic. What is desirable is a relationship with a certain optimum of conflict. It is even possible that when we consider money, not by itself, but as acting on human beings who own it, we may find that money, too, becomes toxic beyond a certain point. In any case, the philosophy of money, the set of presuppositions by which money is supposedly better and better the more you have of it, is totally antibiological. It seems, nevertheless, that this philosophy can be taught to living things.

Places of Tao

Machapuchare or Machhaphuchhare (माछापुछ्रे) "Fish Tail" in English, is a mountain in the Annapurna Himal of north central Nepal, 6993 m. high. It is revered by the local population as particularly sacred to the god Shiva, and hence is off limits to climbing.
Machapuchare has never been climbed to its summit. The only attempt was in 1957 by a British team led by Jimmy Roberts. Climbers Wilfrid Noyce and A. D. M. Cox climbed to within 50 m of the summit via the north ridge, but did not complete the ascent; they had promised not to set foot on the actual summit. Since then, the mountain has been declared sacred, and it is now forbidden to climbers.

duality and complementarity of Tao

A painting by Jim Thompson  

In the process description is useful, having made a distinction of description, to move from a dualistic logic of opposites or the type or/or (good/bad, beautiful/ugly, black/white ...) to a logic of the type and/and, taking into account the recursion between form and process.

In 1976 Francisco Varela proposed to describe the recursive complementarity between process and form as:

the thing / the process that leads to the thing

as examples:

context/ordinary action
cybernetics II/cybernetics I
learning II/learning I

F. Varela, "Not one, not two", CoEvolution Quaterly, 1976

the Teh of Tao

- 9 -

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

(Antennae galaxies - Hubble image- ESA)


Tao meta-learning

The application of theory of logical types by Russell and Whitehead was developed by Bateson in the description of learning, with following recursion orders leading to meta-logical levels of learning:

Zero learning is characterized by specificity of response, which—right or wrong—is not subject to correction.
Learning I is change in specificity of response by correc­tion of errors of choice within a set of alternatives.
Learning II is change in the process of Learning I, e.g., a corrective change in the set of alternatives from which choice is made, or it is a change in how the sequence of experience is punctuated.
Learning III is change in the process of Learning II, e.g., a corrective change in the system of sets of alternatives from which choice is made. (We shall see later that to demand this level of performance of some men and some mammals is sometimes pathogenic.)
Learning IV would be change in Learning III, but prob­ably does not occur in any adult living organism on this earth. Evolutionary process has, however, created organisms whose ontogeny brings them to Level III. The combination of phylogenesis with ontogenesis, in fact, achieves Level IV.

(The logical categories of  learning and communication)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Integration (Temperance) - XIV Major

The image of integration is the unio mystica, the fusion of opposites. This is a time of communication between the previously experienced dualities of life. Rather than night opposing day, dark suppressing light, they work together to create a unified whole, turning endlessly one into the other, each containing in its deepest core the seed of the opposite.

The eagle and the swan are both beings of flight and majesty. The eagle is the embodiment of power and aloneness. The swan is the embodiment of space and purity, gently floating and diving, upon and within the element of the emotions, entirely content and complete within her perfection and beauty.

We are the union of eagle and swan: male and female, fire and water, life and death. The card of integration is the symbol of self-creation, new life, and mystical union; otherwise known as alchemy.

The conflict is in man. Unless it is resolved there, it cannot be resolved anywhere else. The politics is within you; it is between the two parts of the mind. A very small bridge exists. If that bridge is broken through some accident, through some physiological defect or something else, the person becomes split, the person becomes two persons and the phenomenon of schizophrenia or split personality happens.

If the bridge is broken - and the bridge is very fragile - then you become two, you behave like two persons. In the morning you are very loving, very beautiful; in the evening you are very angry, absolutely different. You don't remember your morning...how can you remember? Another mind was functioning - and the person becomes two persons. If this bridge is strengthened so much that the two minds disappear as two and become one, then integration, then crystallization, arises.

What George Gurdjieff used to call the crystallization of being is nothing but these two minds becoming one, the meeting of the male and the female within, the meeting of yin and yang, the meeting of the left and right, the meeting of logic and illogic, the meeting of Plato and Aristotle.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

forever in our Tao

There must be some kind of way out of here
Said the joker to the theif
There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief
Business men they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
No one will level on the line
Nobody of it is worth

No reason to get exited
The thief he kindly spoke
There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I we've been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us stop talking falsely now
The hour's getting late

All along the watchtower
The princess kept the view
While all the women came
And went bare feet servants too
Outside in the cold distance
A wild cat did growl
Two riders were aproaching
And the wind began to howl

All along the watchtower
Hear you sing around the watch
Gotta beware gotta beware I will
Yeah, Oh baby
All along the watchtower
(Bob Dylan)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tao level 3 and higher: Epistemology of Tao

In the observation and description of complex systems, which make up all living systems and the interactions between them and the environment, above the level 3 - biology - the beliefs and the "world view" of the subject observer/descriptor start to become important and must be explicit in the observation/description that it does. In particular, the movement cybernetics-second-cybernetics-post-cybernetics is essential to specify their own Epistemology, giving rise to an epistemology of complexity. Traditionally, epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with conditions under which you can have scientific knowledge and methods to achieve this knowledge, as suggested by the term, which is a contraction of the Greek words episteme ("knowledge, science") and logos (speech). In general, as such, is included as a part, if not completely identified with thephilosophy of science, which concern with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. In the Anglo-Saxon culture the concept of epistemology is used as a synonym for gnoseology or theory of knowledge, the discipline that deals with the study of knowledge in general.
In the definition of Bateson:
EPISTEMOLOGY: A combination of a branch of science with a branch of philosophy. As a science, epistemology studies how particular organisms or aggregates of organisms "know, think and decide." As philosophy, epistemology studies the limits required, and other characteristics of the processes of knowledge, thought and decision.

and in his words:

"Warren McCulloch used to say that those who claim to have direct knowledge, that is not to have an epistemology, is actually a bad epistemology [...]"

"So I call the epistemology as the science that studies the process of knowing, the interaction between the capacity to respond to differences on the one hand and, secondly, the material world in which these differences have their origin in some way.
There is a more traditional definition, under which the epistemology is simply the philosophical study of how to learn. I prefer my definition - as in fact you know - because the creature fits into the larger whole, ... and because by my definition Epistemology is definitely identified with the study of phenomena that occur on an interface and a branch of natural history. [...]"
The need to make explicit its epistemology - that is our own assumptions about the world - depends on the level of observation. If a microbiologist observes the development of a nutrient broth does not seem necessary, but already at the level of an entomologist observing an ant colony or at the level of etology, the study of animal behavior in its natural environment, it becomes necessary, not to mention interactions with fellow human beings, as in the setting of psychotherapy. 

"The vision of the world - that is latent and epistemology in the "unconscious" - generated by all of these ideas is exceeded by three different perspectives: a) From the pragmatic point of view it is clear that these assumptions and their corollaries lead to 'greed, a monstrous excess growth, war, tyranny and pollution. In this sense, "our" assumptions prove false every day, and what the students make some account.
b) In terms of "intellectual", these premises are obsolete as systems theory, cybernetics, holistic medicine, ecology and psychology of "Gestalt" manifestly best offer ways of understanding the world of biology and behavior.
c) As a basis for the "religion" became the premise that I mentioned
"Clearly unacceptable and therefore obsolete" about a century ago. After the advent of Darwinian evolution, it was expressed quite clearly by thinkers such as Samuel Butler and Prince Kropotkin. But already in the eighteenth century William Blake understood that the philosophy of Locke and Newton could only generate "dark satanic mills."

The Platonic thesis of the book is precisely that epistemology is an indivisible and integrated metascienza the object of which is the world's evolution of thought, adaptation, embryology and genetics: the science of the mind in the broadest sense of term.
Compare these phenomena (compare thought with the evolution and epigenesis with both) is the "search mode" epistemology of science that

It began to seem outdated and that the ideas are still rooted on epistemology, especially on the human, were a reflection of a physical fight and outdated in a curious way with the little we know, or so it seems, on living things. It was as if we thought that the members of the species 'man' materials were totally unique and totally against the backdrop of a living universe generic (instead, only) and spiritual (rather than, material).

In what is presented in this book, the place of the hierarchical structure of the Great Chain of Being will be taken from the hierarchical structure of thought, which Bertrand Russell called "hierarchy of logical types, and seek to propose a sacred unity of the biosphere it contains fewer errors epistemological versions of it that have been submitted by the various historical religions. The important thing is that, right or wrong, this epistemology is "explicit". This will criticize it just as explicit."

"First, I would like you to join me in a little experiment. Let me ask you for a show of hands. How many of you will agree that you see me? I see a number of hands—so I guess insanity loves company. Of course, you don’t “really” see me. What you “see” is a bunch of pieces of information about me, which you synthesize into a picture image of me. You make that image. It’s that simple.
The proposition “I see you” or “You see me” is a proposition which contains within it what I am calling “epistemology.” It contains within it assumptions about how we get in-formation, what sort of stuff information is, and so forth. When you say you “see” me and put up your hand in an innocent way, you are, in fact, agreeing to certain propositions about the nature of knowing and the nature of the universe in which we live and how we know about it.
I shall argue that many of these propositions happen to be false, even though we all share them. In the case of such epistemological propositions, error is not easily detected and is not very quickly punished. You and I are able to get along in the world and fly to Hawaii and read papers on psychiatry and find our places around these tables and in general function reasonably like human beings in spite of very deep error. The erroneous premises, in fact, work.
On the other hand, the premises work only up to a certain limit, and, at some stage or under certain circumstances, if you are carrying serious epistemological errors, you will find that they do not work any more. At this point you discover to your horror that it is exceedingly difficult to get rid of the error, that it’s sticky. It is as if you had touched honey. As with honey, the falsification gets around; and each thing you try to wipe it off on gets sticky, and your hands still remain sticky."

(Pathologies of Epistemology) 

Bateson states that the fundamental unit of evolution is not the organism or species, but the organism-plus-environment (ie, mind). He calls this theory cybernetic epistemology:
«the individual mind is immanent but not only in body, it is also immanent in channels and messages outside the body, and there is a larger mind of which the individual mind is only a subsystem. This larger mind is comparable to God, and is perhaps what some people mean by 'God', but it is still immanent in the total interconnected social system and planetary ecology».

 (Form, substance and difference)

The term epistemology was used by Bateson in many ways: 

1 epistemology as a theory of knowledge.
2. epistemology as a paradigm.
3. epistemology as a biological cosmology. 
4. epistemology as a science.
5. epistemology as a structure of the character.

from: P. F. Dell Understanding Bateson and Maturana: Toward a biological foun- dation for the social sciences
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Vol. 11, n. 1,1985.

«In the natural history of the human being, ontology and epistemology can not be separated. His convictions (usually unconscious) about the world around him (ie, its ontological premises) will determine the way he see it (ie, his epistemological premises) and acting, and this way of perceiving and acting (ie its epistemological premises) will determine his beliefs about the nature of the world (ie, its ontological assumptions). The living man is thus trapped in a web of ontological and epistemological premises. It is awkward to always refer to epistemology and ontology together, but is wrong to think that they can be separated in the natural history ... Therefore in this paper I will employ the single term "epistemology" to describe both aspects of the plot of assumptions that govern the adaptation (and maladaptation) to the human and physical environment ».