Thursday, December 31, 2009

More Bullshit from Sye TenB

LINK (HERE) for the historical argument

Through a twist of presupposed fate, I ran into Sye again (HERE/ Against my better judgment, and in the face of my own sanity, I chose to thrash him another time.

I'm not going to re-hash what I've said in the past, one can (if one would like) use the link above, or go to the site I linked ( and see how I summarized it there. either way I only want to lay out here what can only be described as (WHAT THE FUCK?).

I will state very briefly a few precursory things:
One should know (via the link) Sye has an argument for God that follows TAG - the Transcendental Argument for God (link to site in the link above). He has a premise, and a conclusion. His first premise which everything rests upon is that absolute truth exists. He attempts to demonstrate this by asking the bull shit question, "Does absolute truth exist". Of course you know where the question leads if answered out right. Bottom line the question presupposes absolute, and takes advantage of the fact that many other people do to.

In response to that, I refuted the legitimacy of the question and showed it to be invalid. Rather then object to the argument as it was, point out inconsistencies, fallacies etc., he proceeded to.... Ask questions, which were as follows:

A.) "where is anything that you say true, and how do you know this?"
B.) "Is what you say only true in your personal system now, or is it true everywhere at all times?"

(SPECIAL NOTE: it would behove one to play the song below as you read along with the text. I've found that it increases the experience by at least 10fold... Just a suggestion.)

A few twists and turns aside, Sye tries to accuse me of dodging his questions, apparently assuming there was some burden on me to do so in the face of the argument I already layed out quite nicely for him. So, I responded accordingly:


lets get a couple things out of the way first.

i.)I notice you dropped “B” in your response, granting what I’ve said about it.
ii.)You accuse me of “Dodging the question”, when as has been shown I have an argument that refutes yours, and rather then address it, you’re trying to address me – but we’ll get back that.

So, let’s recap, being more efficient and effective this time. You had two questions, in full.
A.) “Where is anything that you say true, and how do you know this?”
B.) “Is what you say only true in your personal system now, or is it true everywhere at all times?”

“B” was rejected as I said, because it presupposed the absolute (which I already refuted), and you dropped it accordingly within your latest response. So we have that cleared up.
(NOTE: it should be noted that the question here is a false dichotomy which says, "its' either absolute, or only true in your system now.". Of course my argument refutes the absolute and never makes any claims to being "only true in my personal system. The reality is that "B" is neither.)

Question “A” actually comes in two parts, as follows:
1.) “Where is anything that you say true…?”
2.) “…how do you know this?”

I rejected the first part of your question as it’s restated in question “B”; i.e. “is what you say true in your personal system now”,AND, “or is it true everywhere at all time”. This is the where that presupposes the absolute, which, I’ve already refuted.
(NOTE: One could say it's true via logic, or true in the aruement, or shown in the argument, but all attempts to point this out in the past have fallen upon deaf ears)

What we have then is question “2”:
“…How do you know this?”

Let me first unpack this. For those who don’t know it (and for you too, Sye, as you seem rather philosophically challanged) this is an epistemological question. i.e. The study of knowledge and how we know things, simply put, epistemology is a theory of knowledge. In the context of what you’re asking me (all questions in whole) you’re essentially saying that I owe you a justification that accounts for the epistemological certainty of my argument, and I presume that for whatever reason you feel that an argument is contingent upon this certainty (but I’ll get to that). i.e. what you’re doing (and this is why you are often called dishonest) is changing the conversation from one that’s about the validity of a logical refutation (a premise and conclusion), against your logical argument (which was shown to be fallacious based on the premise and conclusion), to a conversation about whether or not one is certain about it, as if that’s relevant to the argument.

So here’s the deal, Sye, my argument has nothing whatsoever to do with epistemological certainty (that’s not the conversation we’re having), as a matter of fact, it’s completely irrelevant. i.e. my argument does not stand or fall based upon whether or not I have a basis for knowing it and being certain about it (having epistemological certainty), as a matter of fact it doesn’t even matter whether or not I’m committed to it. I may offer up the argument simply because it’s a good refutation, and may in fact think its complete BS. On the other hand, I could have typed some nonsense into my computer, and in response it generated (completely at random) the argument that you see in the above thread; and of course, the computer that generated it can neither account for, be certain of, or say how it knows what it just displayed – after all it’s just a computer (of course, we could argue AI, but that’s another conversation entirely). That being the case, and the lack of a response from the computer regarding certainty, it doesn’t cause the argument it gave to suddenly be irrelevant, arbitrary and/or fallacious (we could of course argue that it “arbitrarily gave a response”, but this doesn’t mean that the response it gave has fallacies within it as a result). i.e. an argument stands and falls on it’s own merit, not relative to the certitude of the giver regarding it. Which is to say simply that the logic involved can be easily evaluated without a “certain” bases at it’s foundation – yet in another way, we can evaluate the premise all the way down to the conclusion and find fault in it (or not) with or without the certainty of the provider. In that way, your question is completely baseless, irrelevant, dishonest, conversation changing, and tactic for dodging the argument before you.

The point is this, Sye (AGAIN), that there IS an argument before you that refutes your claim to the absolute, and demonstrates the fallacy contained within. Without even addressing my argument and your blatant fallacy, you change the conversation from one of logic, to one of epistemology, thereby dodging (YOUSELF) answering for the inconsistencies and BS in your own argument. Even though you accuse me of it, go figure.

Bottom line, epistemological certainty is irrelevant. You have boldly stated that my argument (BY ITSELF) is a fallacy, but of course you have yet to point out where that is the case, even though I’ve already pointed out yours. I owe no burden to you to demonstrate certainty in the face of what I’ve said. That’s a claim that you make (implicit within your question and changing the conversation), even though you have offered no basis for this.

So then, Sye, quit YOUR dodging (I’ve addressed your argument). If you want to have a philosophical debate on the nature of epistemological certainty, we can certainly do that, but before we get there, there is the business of your fallacious claims to the absolute, and your bootless contention about God.


I thought that was clear enough, but Sye responds:
See that's the thing Andrew, you think that you have a point, but all you do is avoid my questions... in a vain attempt to conceal that fact"


WOW! I'm completely beside myself... Perhaps I can help him out a bit though:


Let me try and spell this out for you, Sye. As it’s almost as though you didn’t even read my second to the last post – so I’ll make this short.

You have put forth an argument to prove the existence of “X”, it looks like this:
1.) Premise
3.) Conclusion: “X” exists

In turn, I put forth an argument that looks like this:
1.) Premise
2.) …..
3.) Conclusion: Sye’s Premises is false

You have an argument, I have refuted it as it is. If you feel that the refutation fails [as it is], or that it contains a fallacy, then by all means, point that out in the argument before you. If you’re not willing to address the argument (as I have yours), then forfeit, say no, and we can be done with the conversation.


I wonder what he said in response to this?


"Andrew, just answer the questions."


Dancin' douche' bags Batman!

At this point I repeated myself, and he just kept saying, "Just answer the questions". Which I should add, I'm more then happy too. Actually, I'd quite love to have the conversation, and have nice answers to both questions, but at this point in the conversation, it isn't relevant...


So I leave with an analogy - good or bad, it is what it is.

Consider, that we are engaged in a game, which we’ll call the game of logic. This game is not unlike (let’s offer) the game of chess, in that both are governed by rules. In order to play the game, there is typically agreement amongst the players before hand as to the nature of the rules, and in both cases, we actually do have rule books at our disposal. For example, in the game of logic the rule book dictates that one cannot “beg the question”, and in the game of chess, one cannot move a Pawn like a knight (i.e. better stated, a pawn can only move forward one space or left and right one space, per turn).

Now, in the game of logic we make moves just as we do in the game of chess. In the case of chess, those moves come in the form of moving a given piece to a given place on the board. The goal of course, is to put the other player in check. In the game of logic, on the other hand, the goal is to prove, or perhaps disprove a certain thing “X”. One does this by laying out a premise (which is much like moving a chess piece/s on a board). The game of logic, however, doesn’t have a board, so one can say whatever it is one likes in an effort to prove a given thing “X”, however one has to do so according to the rules. For example: Suppose that within one’s premise one “begs the question”. This doesn’t in and of itself mean that what it is you’re trying to prove [X], is false, it simple means that one’s argument is invalid (not made according to the rules of logic) and therefore, the players of the game do not accept the argument and therefore reject the conclusion. Again, it DOES NOT “NECESSARILY” mean that the conclusion is false, it merely means that it has not been shown through the argument.

So here’s the analog:
Suppose (in the case of Sye and I), that we have our chess pieces spread throughout the board, some of mine are gone and some of his are gone (of course, consider that this doesn’t have to be the case, it could in fact be his very first move of the game, but it matters not either way). Let’s further suppose that I’m one play away from placing him in check, no matter what play he makes, and it’s his move. Consider that he takes a Bishop, and moves it as one does a night, placing it in such a strategic location that would put me in check mate. Now, relative to how the pieces currently sit on the board, I’ve lost as can clearly be seen.

However, most certainly I object to the move and quickly say, “You cannot move a Bishop as one does a night. Therefore the move is invalid and indeed you have not won the game.”. Notice again, that as with the game of logic I have not stated that he is “wrong”, “false”, etc., I’ve merely pointed out the his move (or in the case of logic with his premise) is invalid according to the rules. To demonstrate this, I pull out the rule book and show him in the appropriate section the error in the move (which in this case is analogous to the argument I gave in refutation of the absolute). At this point has has two choices; he can agree that in fact he did make a move that was not consistent with the rules, take it back and make valid move; or, on the other hand, hee can forfeit the game (as a perfect 8 year old) and walk away.

However, he does neither of those things, but rather asks the following questions.
“Where is anything you say true, and how do you know this?”
“Is what you say true only true in your personal system now, or is it true everywhere at all times.”

Now, in my argument I’m pointing out the invalid premise, and in the game of chess I’m pointing out the invalid placement of the Bishop. The analog to the first question in the case of the chess game may look something like this:
“Where is the rule you say true, and how do you know this?”

Of course, in this case the rule is true in chess. We know this because it’s stated in the rule book. Now, Sye can either accept or not accept that, take his move back or forfeit. As for my refutation of the first premise (the absolute) the same applies; he can either accept my argument as true and following the rules of logic, or not accept my argument as true and following the rules of logic. If he feel that it is incorrect, contains a fallacy, etc., then he can surely point to that. I owe no further burden to show anything, and can simply leave myself at this point and walk away.

Looking at the second question (and still following the chess analogy) he asked:
“Is the rule you state true only in your personal system now, or is it true everywhere at all time.”

Of course, this question is complete cobblers. We’ve agreed to play a game with rules, it is not my claim (and never was) that the rules were mine, nor is it relevant if rules of chess change tomorrow, or stay the same. In the case of my refutation of the absolute, the question is seen as dichotomous. i.e. in the first place the second part of the dichotomy I refuted outright, and first part of the question I do not claim. My claim is not that what I say is true in my personal system now, it is simply that the first premise does not demonstrate the validity of absolute. If he were bright enough he’d figure that one out, i.e. the answer to the question is neither.

All that being the case, however, my initial statements about him changing the conversation stand, I owe no response to the questions, and for whatever reason he can’t seem to grasp that…..

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Against the Absolute

I’m quite fond of arguing against the Platonist who holds notions of absolutes; whether those absolutes take the form of the essential character of God, or whether those absolutes take the form of logic, whose existence is natural and essential beyond and outside the normative character of the human.

What’s more, from the perspective of the atheist there’s a certain leap of faith that must be taken in order to even suggest that such a thing as absolute essence can exist. In this case the atheist will grant that, e.g. the Law of Non-Contradiction has some essential essence outside of the agreed upon contingent and/or temporal character of man. They may say that, even without mind, or for that matter without the sum total of existence itself the essence of these laws still hold. i.e. in the case of non-contradiction, nothing cannot both be nothing and not-nothing at the same time; thus this idea (thought experiment) becomes proof of some “transcendental” tautology. But then, of course, they’ve skewed the notion of tautology not simply to mean, “true for every possible interpretation”, but, “true for every possible circumstance”. This assumption being what it is, with a little Socratic questioning it always becomes apparent that no non-circular justification exists for this sort of thought, and thus the atheist is forced to admit a pre-supposition, or perhaps resort to a sort of “functional” argument”; which isn’t really proof of anything so much as it is a suggestion to grant something as true for the sake of some pragmatic functionality. That doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me.

My argument against absolutist thinking has always been to argue that truth is systematic, contingent, relative to a normative method of resolution. Further my insistence has been; there’s no reason to assume that outside human thought and cognition, that things necessarily are what we say they are. i.e. there’s no non-circular justification to suppose that Spruce trees are anything like Spruce trees outside of human cognition.

Now I’m not here to argue the things I’ve argued in the past as they can be found else where within my blog. What I’d rather like to do is highlight some interesting thoughts from Brandom’s “Making it Explicit”, that serve to bolster my previous thinking on the matter.

An interesting aspect which I’ve never bothered to argue is the whole idea that a person, or even a group of persons, can hold to certain beliefs that go completely against the laws of logic. They may be contradictory, question begging, etc.. Of course, this fly’s completely in the face of the idea that the Laws of Logic are in any way natural. If they were, then nature wouldn’t, indeed couldn’t, allow such an action to take place – one may be able to loosely see that this is analogous to suddenly, objects start falling to the sky. If we look at these, “coming to hold beliefs” from a naturalistic standpoint (and leave the rules and logic aside for a moment) we’ll see that:

(from “Making it Explicit” pg. 12)
“Such natural processes are no more true then false; they are simply processes, as an eddy in the water is a process. And if we are to speak of a right, it can only be the right of a thing to happen as they do happen. One phantasm contradicts another no more than one eddy on the water contradicts another. Contradiction, correct inference, correct judgment are all normative notions, not natural ones.”

So again, to place the Laws of Logic outside the human being as a sort of essence, is placing it in the realm of the natural. If this were true, however, it brings together two very distinct functions:
A.) The laws with which we actually draw inferences
B.) The laws of “correct” inference.
However, by bringing these two ideas together we could never, in fact, be wrong.

(from “Making it Explicit” pg. 12)
“What makes us so prone to embrace erroneous views is that we define the task of logic as the investigation of the laws of thought, whilst understanding by this expression something on the same footing as the laws of nature… So if we call them laws of thought, or, better, laws of judgment, we must not forget we are concerned here with laws which, like the principles of morals or the laws of the state, prescribe how we are to act, and do not, like the laws of nature, define the actual course of events.”

We haven’t yet sealed the deal here, but the idea is simple enough; that we should see the laws of logic, or correct inference, or leading to “right” conclusions in a normative sense. What is right, in terms of logic, is not the same as what is right with respect to causal compulsion. This distinction we should always bare in mind.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Robert Brandom "Making it Explicit"

Arriving in the mail today from was Robert Brandom's "Making it Explicit"... Upon observing the space the box took up in my mail box, I had assumed there was packaging material in the form of foam peanuts, bubble wrap (what have you) surrounding the book, acting as protection in shipment. Earlier this week (Monday) I had received two other books from Amazon, in this case Douglas Adams "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" and "The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul", both were in bubble wrap packaging.

But, well... There wasn't any bubble wrap, and there wasn't any peanuts - I had just ordered "War and Peace", except that it was curiously titled "Making it Explicit", by Robert Brandom, not Leo Tolstoy.

Preface, Page XXII:
"This is a long book. It's length is a consequence of the demands made by its governing methodological aspirations: to eschew representational primitives, to show how content is related to use, and to achieve self-referential expressive completeness."

Perhaps I'll have to put my previous enterprise of talking about the QMS on hold in order to plow through, and rummage over my thoughts on this thing.

Man over board!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Silly Fundies

I’m pretty sick and tired of the radical Christians who claim that atheism and evolution are world views. What does it even mean for something to BE a world-view, what does that entail? Sounds to me like a “theory of everything”; a system of thought that governs one’s conception of the beginning, the behavior in the middle and the prophesized end. i.e. one has conceived of the nature of everything from beginning to end, and structures their lives according to that conception. Where does Darwin say anything about how the world was created, or how it's going to end? I though he was just talking about change and random variation?

I've said about as much about this topic as I care to, but...

Not only that, these so called fundies seem to continually conflate atheism with Darwinism, they’re one in the same they seem to think; which is only to say that one cannot be a Christian and believe anything Darwin said to be in any way true. On the other hand it also assumes that if one is an atheist, it necessarily implies that one is a Darwinist, which couldn’t be further from the truth – talk about a false dichotomy.

The next assumption generally made is that Darwinian evolution assumes a belief in the big-bang, or in some cases even contains it as part of the theory. I’m not even sure where they get this crap, since when was Darwin a physicist? Not only that but…

Darwin, theory of evolution: Our buddy Charles died in 1882
Lemaitre, proposed the Big Bang: Was born in 1894

WOW, I didn't realize it, do you see the connection here!

Consider that the date you get when you change the 8 and 9 around in 1894 is 1984. This is the date that the movie Back to the Future was made (not released, but made). In that movie, Doc Brown conceived of the Flux Capacitor in 1955, which added together gives you 20, 1882 added together gives you 19, which is one less. Now consider that the time machine was made out of a DeLorean that was manufactured in 1982. Do you see it, 1882 adds up to 19, 1982. To add even more fuel to this from my previous comment, if you take the difference of one and subtract that from 19 in 1982, you get 1882 yet again. This means that Marty Mcfly, (Michael J. Fox) must have traveled back in time to tell Darwin about Lemaitre’s big bang theory. Consider that Lamaitre was born in 1894, which added together gives you 21, that’s one more than 20. This means that, even though in the movie version he was never shown going back to see Darwin, that he must have gone back “one more" time, and they just didn’t make a movie about it.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Baby Boomer"

Introduction to QMS

The idea that quality is something to be achieved, that it is a goal to strive for, is fully entrenched within the industries that manufacture things. As a matter of fact, in most cases it’s made explicit that you shall have a goal, and you shall measure and monitor quality in order to achieve that goal. In the manufacturing world, most companies won’t even consider doing business with you unless you have some formal Quality system in place; in this case that formal system may be one of the following:

AS9000, for aerospace manufacturers
ISO/TS 16949:2002, automotive
ISO 13485:2003, Medical
ISO9001, I’ll call this general manufacturing

All of these systems differ in very specific ways, but as a dogma, they all have 5 main elemental requirements in common. Those requirements I’ll spend some time digging into as I travel along this path I’ve chosen. For now, understand that every time you board a plane, hop into a motor vehicle, use a medical device, crack open a bag of chips, drink a can of pop, play a video game, type on the computer, throw a Frisbee to your dog, squat over a urinal, cook over a stove, etc. you’re are using a product that was manufactured within a Quality Management System (QMS). This QMS is an industry standard for manufacturing “things”.

My path within the next few months (I’m hoping) is to demonstrate how this QMS has divorced us as human beings from what it is we do. It is the very essence of a QMS that quality is an object to be attained. But let me take a step back here and ask a question; “What does Quality mean to the QMS?” In essence it means that we (as a given organization) have delivered a product that meets the customer’s expectations with respect to legal and regulatory requirements, operating specifications, dimensional characteristics, surface appeal, etc. Further, that it was delivered on time to their request, and at a price that fits their needs and expectations. That’s Quality to the QMS; and it should be noted that it’s a future state.

If you work in a manufacturing environment, or have ever had the opportunity to tour a facility that takes pride in their QMS, you’ll often find posters or banners on the wall that preach this mantra. I’ve even seen companies that place a mirror at the entrance to their manufacturing floor which states (with some variations) “Quality Starts Here.” How flippin’ witty is that? Hey, isn’t that me in that mirror? Let’s put mirrors outside of churches that say something like, “Jesus loves…” or, “The face of a sinner…” or, “God lives here…” Of course, the QMS doesn’t agree with your mirrored statement, and it doesn’t care about you. It only cares about achieving its goal – but more on that later.

The fundamental issue that I hope to make clear is that, as the result of the QMS being goal focused, it sees itself as trying to arrive at something, rather then simply traveling. As a further result of this focus, it can never arrive without (again) continually traveling down the path of divorcing the human. So there’s a clear distinction to be made here:

A.)The QMS “arrives” at Quality as the result of traveling down the path of human alienation. i.e. divorcing the human from the process.

B.)The human “arrives” at Quality as the result of forging and developing a relationship with the QMS, and in this way never truly arrives at anything, but always achieves.

In the post to follow, I’d like to start by talking about what the QMS is. My argument will simply be that the QMS is the institutionalization of Quality. By that (Quality) I don’t simply mean the institutionalization of “making ‘good’ widgets”, but the institutionalization of capitol “Q” Quality itself.

I’ll end (here) with an anecdote that perhaps I’ve shared here before, as I think it sets my trajectory along the right path:

We buy assemblies from a company located in India, and as of late, we’ve been experiencing a rash of quality issues with them; partly because much of what they’re doing is start up, or rather, it’s simply the first time they’ve made a given part and they don’t have the experience. The representative of the company comes to visit us every so often, and on one occasion I had been looking forward to a face to face as the result of a specific issue I had been trying to have formally addressed. Essentially I had been looking for “objective” evidence that a particular problem they were having was fixed. i.e. I wanted updated procedures and control plans. For reasons I didn’t quite fully understand at the time, he continually skirted the issue (seemingly not wanting to provide the information) and he stated, “Andy, we don’t look at Quality as you do, we look at it as peace of mind.”

I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear that. You’ll never hear a western organization speak in such ways. It’s not that they didn’t have a QMS (they actually do, and it’s the same as ours) it’s simply that their focus is not on the demands of the system, but on their relationship to it… Peace of mind.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Back to Blogging Soon!

Andy L. Bauch (Andrew Louis) Receives ASQ-Certified Quality Engineer
Milwaukee, WI, December 14, 2009 — The Certification Board of ASQ (American Society for Quality) is pleased to announce that Andy Bauch has completed the requirements to be named an ASQ-Certified Quality Engineer (ASQ CQE). As such, Andy Bauch has reached a significant level of professional recognition, indicating a proficiency in and a comprehension of quality engineering principles and practices. Individuals who earn this certification are allowed to use “ASQ CQE” on their business cards and professional correspondence.

“ASQ provides certification as a way to provide formal recognition to professionals who have demonstrated an understanding of, and a commitment to, quality techniques and practices in their job and career,” explains Peter Andres, ASQ president. “This is a great accomplishment and represents a high level of peer recognition.”

A Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) is a professional who understands the principles of product and service quality, evaluation, and control. In order to sit for the CQE examination, a candidate must have at least eight years of training and on-the-job experience in one or more areas of quality, with a minimum of three years in a decision-making position. CQEs develop and implement quality systems, plan, control and monitor product and process quality, use reliability and risk management tools, and apply a wide spectrum of quantitative analyses to resolve quality issues.

Since 1968, when the first ASQ certification examination was given, more than 163,000 individuals have taken the path to reaching their goal of becoming ASQ-Certified in their field or profession, including many of who have attained more than one designation. To learn more about ASQ’s Certified Quality Engineer program, visit

ASQ,, has been the world’s leading authority on quality for more than 60 years. With more than 85,000 individual and organizational members, the professional association advances learning, quality improvement and knowledge exchange to improve business results and to create better workplaces and communities worldwide. As champion of the quality movement, ASQ offers technologies, concepts, tools and training to quality professionals, quality practitioners and everyday consumers. ASQ has been the sole administrator of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award since 1991. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., ASQ is a founding sponsor of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Question?

A couple weeks ago a good friend of mine sent me a text message, which resulted in a healthy e-mail exchange that's been going on ever since - I'll post that later.

On the ride home from work my cell phone goes of (TEXT MESSAGE), and I get the following:
"Do you have a set of standards that you consciously live by?"

Yeah, some friend huh? Of course, he knew I'd give it some serious thought, and I have. On the face of it, it seems like a rather simple -if not obvious - question. However it soon became obvious that the catch word (perhaps not intended) which would throw me for a loop was, "consciously".

For now, I'm just going to throw this out there and let it gel.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Future of Religion

Scott Roberts mentioned this book on Stephen Law's blog the other day, so I picked it up and give it a read this morning.

I loved it - and will have to absord it and make some comments at some point.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


The Transfiguration of Voice

It seems to me a great tragedy had befallen mankind when his voice became lost amidst the beast and fowl. Somewhere, it seems, between the simple name and the mist that obscures all that is beyond the horizon, a song bird sang, and wrapped within itself was a nature that was not unlike the mans. Lacking a sense of anything good or evil, he was, at first, a distant image glimpsed ever so briefly and unassumingly upon a canvas painted for eternity. With every spoken word a brush stroke colored in the landscape, filling the trees with a warm evening wind, painting the sounds of the rain, and dotting the heavens with patterns of thought. Yet somewhere within the land, beyond and within all he could see with his eyes and hear with his ears, was a colorless figure through which everything flowed, and the light of creation could be felt and remain nameless….

Through a reflection given forth from the waters, he looks into its eyes for the first time….


It is a common notion that what we have reflected in the creation myth of Genesis is the voice of God. Furthermore that, as the voice of God brought forth creation, than creation itself must speak a certain language, one that is mans task to decipher. What I’d like to suggest is that this is a gross misinterpretation - so one begins in the middle, which is, to be sure, the beginning:

Genesis 2:19, 20:
19. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20. And Adam gave names to the cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field;

It is made implicit here that language is a creation of man, and therefore perspective and interpretation along with it (although creation is a bad word to use here). As well, within the myth, this is the first act of man, the first behavior that we see reflected; man behaving as something which makes noises and marks, something which differentiates, and has a perspective.

Considering this, it’s interesting to note that God first speaks to man prior to his first act by saying, (Genesis 2:16, 17):16.”And the Lord God commanded the man saying, “Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, though shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

It is, to be sure, a case of hopeless circularity that man would speak and be spoken to in the same voice. Surely it’s an obvious question to ask; did man understand this voice? Or is this implied metaphor for something more fundamental? His speech is prefaced with, “Lord God commanded”, however within the command itself seems to lie something more sinister than mere orders. On the other hand it must be considered that the text itself was written post hoc, and clearly the writer has granted himself some pre-suppositional freedom. He’s granted that prior to man having named everything, that he’d understood language; but, perhaps this assumption wasn’t made at all. Following the text faithfully another point comes to light; prior to eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it must be assumed (mythically/poetically) that man has no real notion of duality per se, but has a childlike view of indifference towards the world. Which is to say his view is non-discriminate (for the most part) - like a child who sees a certain beauty and curiosity contained in everything. In this way the language he uses to differentiate the world becomes less for the purposes of creating dualities (of separating good and evil), and more for the purposes behavior and interaction. In essence, we’re looking at a child’s mind.

With that in mind I’d merely invite one to consider the first thing that becomes evident to a child’s mind prior to any notion of good or evil. Without knowing any different, what lay before the mind as it views the world in this (mythological) state? I would answer, that it’s contained in the Lord God’s command. “Do not…. Or you will surely…” To do, or not to do, with no real sense of consequence. “Don’t touch the stove, or you’ll surely get burned.” What does that mean, ‘get burned’? What lay before the mind, I’d suggest, is temptation.

Genesis 3 (paraphrase):
The serpent was more crafty than any of the other animals that God had made, and he said to Eve, “Did God really say, ‘you must not eat from any tree of the garden’.”

Hold the show, wait – God never said anything to the woman, God had not yet created Eve when he spoke his command…

Nonetheless Eve responds to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will surely die.’”

The serpent responds, “You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

(insert the sound of a scratching record, and rewind)
Didn’t God see that all of his creation was Good? Of course he did, and this is key, but I’ll get back to it.

Anyway, Eve responds quite beautifully, Genesis 3:6-7 goes as follows:When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and at it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

The woman displays the first use of logic in the bible, bravo to the woman. Not to mention that, before even taking a bite or touching the tree, she saw that the tree was Good. What? Didn’t you first have to eat of the tree to have the knowledge of good and evil? Of course not; again, the tree being a metaphor for temptation, one only need yield to the temptation. Furthermore, what opened ones eyes to the knowledge of good and evil wasn’t the apple per se (the metaphor) but the use of logic. The woman went against a dogma and used logic to make a choice, and that choice was relative to her (and her husbands) needs and interests with respect to food and wisdom. That dirty dirty woman... Suddenly then, they find themselves thrust from childhood into adulthood. Temptation, Logic, then shame. Although, I think a better suited word for this occasion is not so much logic as it should be choice.

Let me take a step back to my previous point about God and the nature of his creation, because I believe something more tragic is happening here than meets the eye. It’s important to note that, contrary to the serpents suggestion that eating of the tree would make one like the Gods, the reality is that (as stated throughout creation) God saw everything as GOOD. Or more importantly, mans interpretation of God’s view of creation is one that is Good in every way shape or form, including the serpent. The knowledge of good and evil is a knowledge attributed to mankind and mankind alone; it is the event that plunges man into duality and into his first reaction to that duality, shame. Man can no longer see the good in all of creation because his vision is now forever obscured by his own needs and interests.

To the Transfiguration of Voice:

The point I’d like to make is twofold;
A.) It’s implicit that language is mans own, that it’s part of his character, his behavior.
B.) It is part of mans nature to eventually fall to logic and dualism.

Before man can say anything about God, before he can say that, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’, he must realize that these words (and meaning) are a reflection of his own character. In this way, the universe could never have been created by a God who spoke a certain language, whereby it is our duty to decipher that language such that we can know the character of God. Afteral, creation is a human word, and with all our lack of knowledge we attribute it to that which we don’t understand. God didn’t create anything (in any linguistic form) that we didn’t first create in ourselves, that we didn’t first recognize when we looked around and started naming things. To see God, to come to God, is to see past the suffering that is the tragedy of our own nature.

Somewhere along the line man’s voice became the voice of God, and people started chasing down dogmas and swatting at ‘flies’, mixing logic and dialogue with the ultimate source of wisdom. Of course it was just that vary thing that pushed man away from God in the first place.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Differentials, integrals, statistics, oh my,
Differentials, integrals, statistics, oh my….

There’s nothin’ like having to teach yourself calculus all over again. I should have majored in philosophy and got a job in construction….

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Spending all my philosophical thinking time taking a class and studying for a work related certification.
So, I'll be back in force come June....

Monday, April 06, 2009

Philosophical Isolation

I find that knowledge of philosophical concepts, argumentation, so on, are quite isolating. It’s difficult to engage people in a conversation about, say, religion, when they’re not basing they’re knowledge on anything aside from the bible or they’re fundamental camp.

For example, this happened to me today:
One of the engineers I work with says to me tangentially in a conversation,
“Did you here the latest?”
“No, what?” I respond.
“They say the trees that giraffes eat from are getting taller.”
“Sure” I said, “And thus the giraffes will get taller – evolution at work my friend.”
Then he comes back with, “Well I don’t know about that, I’m not an evolutionist.”
“You’re not one of those who believe the universe is only 6000 years old are you?” (Of course I said this quite jokingly)
He Responds, “Well there’s pretty good evidence for it.”
“Steve” I said, (which isn’t his real name), “You gotta’ be kidding me. You’re an engineer, an analytical minded individual and you seriously think the universe is only 6000 years old.”
“Why not?” He says.

At this point I’m dumbfounded. I left the conversation with, “To each his own I suppose.”

What do you say to this? Here you have an intelligent, middle class, college educated person with an engineering degree. How do you have this conversation with people? Any idea? It truely bothers me, not to mention it's quite isolating.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

"Stars of Leo"

I waited a long time for this new release from M. Ward - it oozes into the soul like hot molasses rolling off the end of a leaf...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Condoms and Quality Engineering

WARING: This is a rant, it was a long day, and, well, it was a long day. I plan on making sense of it later.

For one reason or another I’ve been unable to get the
Popes condemnation of condoms out of my mind. And since I had a shitty day, I want to rant irrationally about it.

So then, I’d like to start with an analogy from experience in my day to day work on the job. Part of my function as Quality Engineer is to perform D.O.E.’s (design of experiments), which is in short a failure mode analysis of a new product through the design of certain experiments geared towards fleshing out, as stated, particular failure modes. Another function I serve is the statistical analysis of defects, whether it be from the field or suppliers, and implementing SPC (Statistical Process Controls) within our manufacturing processes to prevent defects from occurring in the first place.

What I’d like to talk about here is the formal Corrective and Preventive Action process (CaPA), which is generally related to a specific defect that has been identified internally, from the customer, or the supplier. Later, I’d like to relate my methods and findings in this process to the issue of aids in Africa and teen pregnancy in America.

Let me begin with a simple defect mode wherein we receive a product back from a customer where a wire has come loose from a crimp. In the generic photo below you see a set of wires that have the ends crimped, which will of course be inserted into the connector. So again, the problem is simply that one of the wires has come loose from its crimp.

Upon seeing a number of issues such as these we open up a formal corrective action which contains, but is not limited to, the following elements:

Problem: In this section we state nothing more then what the problem was, “Loose Crimps”, and perhaps what product or customer was involved.

Containment Action:
This is merely a short term corrective action that’s aimed at addressing the effect of the problem – in this case, “Loose Crimps”. Since we don’t yet know the cause of the problem (and assuming we were the ones who performed the crimping), a containment action may involve inspecting inventory of already crimped wires, and verifying that in process procedures and tooling are in place. Essentially, prior to us addressing whatever the problem is - which may take up to 2 months - we need to do some short term things to make sure that no further product leaves the building. Perhaps we do something as simple as implement some short term inspections, or even put the product on hold. The key (again) is that in this process we’re addressing the effects, we don’t know the cause, but we’re going to do whatever is necessary to mitigate the problem.

Root Cause:
This should be obvious enough – what was the cause? Much work may have been done to get to this point, and once we get here it should be understood that all we know is one thing, the “Root Cause”, i.e. no solutions have been formally postulated. So we state simply what we’ve discovered as the root of the problem. Lets suppose we discover that the operator was not using the tooling properly which led to crimps that weren’t tight enough on the wire to sufficiently hold it in place - for the sake of simplicity.

Corrective Action:
Unlike the “Containment Action”, which addressed the effects of the issue, the Corrective Action addresses the “cause” of the issue. Now that we know the issue was improper tool use by the operator we may do a couple things to correct the problem; A.) Insure that the operator has been properly trained on the use of the tool, B.) insure that the operator is familiar with the instructions and is following them accordingly. Once we know these things have been satisfied, even though we still have the human element involved, we can to a certain degree say we’ve corrected the problem, but not yet prevented it.

Preventive Action:
This action is always a little more tricky, but simple for this example. Since we know we have a human being as the sole element of assurance, and we know people make mistakes, the above corrective action is highly insufficient. All we’ve said is, “We’ve addressed the issue with the operator, reviewed our process and procedures, retrained, so on, and now we’re good to go”. But the question the customer will always rightly ask is, “What’s preventing the operator from getting lazy?” So that’s where preventive action comes in. In this case, since we have a human operated process we’ll institute SPC (Statistical Process Control), where we sample wire crimps by performing pull tests. Without getting into the details of how this works, through statistical analysis we’re able to tell if problems are arising in the crimper, operator, wire, so on, by looking at the pull test data over time – it’s highly effective.

Walla! Problem fixed!

To Summarize:
Problem:Statement of the problem

Containment Action:
Address the effect.

Root Cause: Define the cause.

Corrective Action:
Address the cause

Preventive Action: Prevent and monitor the cause.

So what’s all this have to so with condom use, aids in Africa, and teen pregnancy? Well, it all has to do to with “Cause and Effect” and how we as a culture deal with both such cases. It is slowly becoming the case that secular society does less and less to address Root Cause, and simply focuses on Containment activity.

For example; In the case of Africa we have aids, which is the effect. When the Pope arrived and stated that condom use wasn’t the answer, he was merely recognizing the fact that condom use is nothing more than a containment action, a tool that addresses effects, and not the cause – not to mention the fact that sexual activity outside of marriage is a no no for the Pope anyway, which is really the real answer for him. The cause of aids – and / or its spread - while not being necessarily the Root Cause per se, is due to rampant and complete unadulterated sexual promiscuity; whether it’s premarital sex, adultery, what have you (now this is not withstanding the other causes of aids, but it has been identified that the “other causes” are not the main cause). Those who criticize the Pope for his stance are generally those who don’t recognize, or who fail to want to address the human element and consider the Containment Action as the best solution to the problem. But in the long term this is nothing more than a mitigating solution and doesn’t address the main contributing factor – which is personal responsibility.

Let me switch [quick] to teen pregnancy in America as this has been a hot topic for many years. Over the past number of years it’s been the case of the Left that the solution to all our problems is getting condoms in the hands of our children, and the right to abortions. If we can educate our children about safe sex, then we can mitigate pregnancy and lower STD rates. YEAH!. The (helping myself) idea is, kids are going to have sex whether we like it or not, so it should be our job as liberal “friend to your kids” parents, to make sure our kids are safe…. BULLSHIT.

Everyone is far to afraid in our increasingly Leftist Liberal society to address issues of morality and it has become quite fashionable to do whatever it is we can to implement as many Containment / Effect Management issues as possible such that people can simply do and choose as they please. Drawing on the video from Schwartz below, I completely agree that people in the western world have too much choice, and I believe that much of that choice has arisen out of an inability of people to want to deal with others so called rights and moral attitudes. It’s no wonder that the decline of the western moral sense has followed in tail by the decline of the western worlds appeal to religion (there I go helping myself again).

The bottom line is that condoms and abortion are containment actions, both of which I have no serious issues with in and of themselves, but certainly we have to wean ourselves off these things as the crutch for our social problems. So again the issue for me surrounds the fact that our society treats them as corrective and preventative actions, plain and simple. More and more they are both pushed out into the forefront and into our children’s faces, such that, it teaches our children [wrongly] that given these mitigating factors I can behave and act as I choose to. In effect, it gives them license to do as they choose with no real consequences.

Back to my QA example; if I was to tell my customer that I hadn’t addressed the behavior of the operator who was the cause of the problem, but simply mitigated the issue by putting tape on the crimps (which wouldn’t have nearly the pull force and may only help in certain applications), they’d have my balls in a pickle jar to be sure. In the manufacturing industry, especially in the military and aerospace environment I work in, there’s no room for unadulterated liberalism, touchy feely bullshit, and hop skipping around dealing with people. If you can’t do the job, you're river side for sure.

Clearly I’m ranting here, and I’m by no means offering any solutions or in any way advocating a call to religious fundamentalism; but for Christ’s sake, this fundy new wave Liberal environment we’re in these days which continually pokes fun at religion and it’s causes is opening the doors to problems that didn’t exist to such an extreme in years past. Granted the past was sacked with its own problems; with communities in themselves being strong, moral, but extremely racist and ethnocentric where cultures of people suffered off the backs of the so called moral. But today we’re slowly trading that system for one large fucked up culture which is spiritually and emotionally bankrupt and aims at rotting out the cores of everyone equally.

WELL FUCK YOU and all you dick flingin’ son’s a bitches. The next Liberal program will surely be “COMDOMS FOR GUNS”. Don’t kill the bitch, just fuck the crap out of her and make her feel like a dirty whore.

The Return of Religion

The Return of Religion

by Roger Scruton

This has some resonance to it…. Came accross it through Stephen Law and James F. Elliot...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Postmodern Rejection of Absolutism

This was certainly a left-fielder, but was worth the read (if only for a good laugh) - I'll update with my own comments later.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Davidson, Knowing what you believe

First a snip from Davidson's "Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective" (Pg. 26):

"Burge has suggested that there is another way in which external factors enter into the determination of the contents of speech and thought. One of his 'thought experiments' happens pretty well to fit me. Until recently I believed arthritis was an inflammation of the joints caused by calcium deposits; I did not know that any inflammation of the joints, for example gout, also counted as arthritis. So when a doctor told me (falsely as it turned out) that I had gout, I believed I had gout but I did not believe I had arthritis.

At this point Burge asks us to imagine a world in which I was physically the same but in which the word 'arthritis' happened actually to apply only to inflammation of the joints caused by calcium deposits. Then the sentence 'gout is not a form of arthritis' would have been true, not false, and the belief that I expressed by this sentence would not have been the false belief that gout is not a form of arthritis but a true belief about some disease other than arthritis. Yet in the imagined world all my physical states, my 'internal qualitative experiences', my behavior and dispositions to behave, would have been the same as they are in this world. My belief would have changed, but I would have no reason to suppose that it had, and so could not be said to know what I believed."

This sounds quite unsatisfactory to me, as it seems to follow the reasoning that the act of being right or wrong and knowing what one believes is a matter of being accurate with respect to communicating your state of affairs – or representing them properly. But that puts language use on the plane of being a medium, and knowing your beliefs a matter of using the medium correctly and representatively. It also seems to connect and perhaps conflate language with belief, and/or assumes that to hold a language is to necessarily hold beliefs, right or wrong. In another way, that our rightness and wrongness stands either in relation to correct representation, or how ones word meanings connect with the language community at large (coherence).

Without a language do we not hold beliefs? Maybe? I suppose we could say that, just as truth only exists in language, belief also only exists in language.
But then what does "knowing what we believe" stand in relation to (representation, coherence, what)? And whether or not I'm correct in accurately verbalizing my state of affairs, am I not correct in believing that my hands hurt like a bitch? Which above Davidson says, yes, that we have the same state of affairs, but in this case we don't know what we "believe". But should we seperate belief and know in this way? Hm

I'll have to read on.....

of course I'm not talking here about what I assume Davidson to believe.

Quote of the Day

Myths are public dreams,
dreams are private myths.


Why are Books better than Movies?

How about some nonesense...?

I think because, in a movie, someone else got to re-create what you once had in your imagination, and those two are never the same. Two people can like a book for the same reasons, and in a discussion talk about it in much the same way, go through the same sequence of events, quote the same lines, reiterate the same feeling of emotion; but what the setting was is alone the individuals. In many ways, then, the story is made personal and movies do nothing more then objectify and destroy it.

Works of art, I think, are completely the opposite. If you read a review of a work of art, it has a tendency of trivializing your own feelings on the matter by objectifying what it believes to be the true feeling ..

Anyway, it gets me to thinking; why do the some “men” who prefer books to movies prefer pornography to romance novels? I don’t partake in either one of course, but I was 21 once.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.

~Joseph Campbell~

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hierarchies of Thought

This is P.6 of "The Two Horns of Reaism and Non-realism"

I'd like to preface this with an exerpt from Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (I'll ultimately go another way):

Precision instruments are designed to achieve an idea, dimensional precision, whose perfection is impossible. There is no perfectly shaped part of the motorcycle and never will be, but when you come as close as these instruments take you, remarkable things happen, and you go flying across the countryside under a power that would be called magic if it were not so completely rational in every way. It's the understanding of this rational intellectual idea that's fundamental. John looks at the motorcycle and he sees steel in various shapes and has negative feelings about these steel shapes and turns off the whole thing. I look at the shapes of the steel now and I see ideas. He thinks I'm working on parts. I 'm working on concepts.

I was talking about these concepts yesterday when I said that a motorcycle can be divided according to its components and according to its functions. When I said that suddenly I created a set of boxes with the following arrangement:

And when I said the components may be subdivided into a power assembly and a running assembly, suddenly appear some more little boxes:

And you see that every time I made a further division, up came more boxes based on these divisions until I had a huge pyramid of boxes. Finally you see that while I was splitting the cycle up into finer and finer pieces, I was also building a structure.

This structure of concepts is formally called a hierarchy and since ancient times has been a basic structure for all Western knowledge. Kingdoms, empires, churches, armies have all been structured into hierarchies. Modern businesses are so structured. Tables of contents of reference material are so structured, mechanical assemblies, computer software, all scientific and technical knowledge is so much so that in some fields such as biology, the hierarchy of kingdom- phylum-class-order-family-genus-species is almost an icon.

The box "motorcycle" contains the boxes "components" and "functions." The box "components" contains the boxes "power assembly" and "running assembly," and so on. There are many other kinds of structures produced by other operators such as "causes" which produce long chain structures of the form, "A causes B which causes C which causes D," and so on. A functional description of the motorcycle uses this structure. The operator's "exists," "equals," and "implies" produce still other structures. These structures are normally interrelated in patterns and paths so complex and so enormous no one person can understand more than a small part of them in his lifetime. The overall name of these interrelated structures, the genus of which the hierarchy of containment and structure of causation are just species, is system. The motorcycle is a system. A real system.

To speak of certain government and establishment institutions as "the system" is to speak correctly, since these organizations are founded upon the same structural conceptual relationships as a motorcycle. They are sustained by structural relationships even when they have lost all other meaning and purpose. People arrive at a factory and perform a totally meaningless task from eight to five without question because the structure demands that it be that way. There's no villain, no "mean guy" who wants them to live meaningless lives, it's just that the structure, the system demands it and no one is willing to take on the formidable task of changing the structure just because it is meaningless.

But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There's so much talk about the system. And so little understanding.

That's all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel. There's no part in it, no shape in it, that is not out of someone's mind -- number three tappet is right on too. One more to go. This had better be it -- .I've noticed that people who have never worked with steel have trouble seeing this...that the motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon. They associate metal with given shapes...pipes, rods, girders, tools, parts...all of them fixed and inviolable, and think of it as primarily physical. But a person who does machining or foundry work or forge work or welding sees "steel" as having no shape at all. Steel can be any shape you want if you are skilled enough, and any shape but the one you want if you are not. Shapes, like this tappet, are what you arrive at, what you give to the steel. Steel has no more shape than this old pile of dirt on the engine here. These shapes are all out of someone's mind. That's important to see. The steel? Hell, even the steel is out of someone's mind. There's no steel in nature. Anyone from the Bronze Age could have told you that. All nature has is a potential for steel. There's nothing else there. But what's "potential"? That's also in someone's mind! -- Ghosts.


While thinking about my conundrum of representation - at least insofar as communicating it in such a way that finds some agreement - the above passage from Pirsig came to mind. The key notion to consider in dissolving the idea of philosophical representation and/or realism with respect to what Pirsig has said, is the whole idea that what we consider phenomenon, or the objective world is mostly a mental process. In other words what we see when we observe things and what we make of them stands in relation to a hierarchy or paradigm of thought in such a way that to speak of representation – whereas it may make a certain amount of sense within a given hierarchy - it falls apart outside of it, and is circular within it. Not to mention our adaptation of idea is more closely related to functionality then with accurate representation.

What I’d like to do first is recognize, as Pirsig did above, that things like government, motorcycles, map making, religion, physics, so on, are nothing more then systems of rational thought which can be seen as existing within a hierarchy. In other words, individual propositions in a language don’t stand independently in relation to the things they refer to, but rather stand within in a larger context where their truth value is relative to their logical consistency within the hierarchy. That the socialist concept of distributing the wealth is wrong or bad, is really recognition that within the hierarchy of Democratic thinking there is no such concept – which is why when one infers such a state of affairs, we all cry “SOCIALISM”, and not simply, “That sounds really shitty!”. It’s not that socialism is necessarily false, wrong or bad per se, it simply doesn’t fit into the context of our belief/value system – you could see this as a bit of dogmatic thinking, but I’ll get to that later.

That a motorcycle exhaust pipe is exactly that - and not just in statement but as represented on an engineering print – is true relative to the hierarchy of thought about motorcycles. Outside of that, or the hierarchy being unknown, there’s no telling what the piece could be and/or what it could be interpreted as. Perhaps an Australian shaman from the bush stumbles upon it and immediately proclaims it’s a religious symbol of some sort, whereupon all the people of his village bow down once a day to worship it. That sounds pretty wacky to be sure, and no doubt we’d say they were wrong about the odd piece of metal, but that’s simply because the system of thought we’re using to talk about the part is different from theirs. One might make the argument, well, it wasn’t intended to be a religious symbol from its inception and therefore on those grounds the shaman is completely cracked – he’s applying a system of thought to the part that doesn’t belong to it. But who’s to say that our current conception or system of thought about trees is the right one? The point is we’re interpreting an object relative the hierarchy of thought we’re working in, and relative to the use we find for a given object/concept.

In the case of map-making we again have a system of rational thought at work. On the one hand representation is a slick piece of rhetoric to apply to the map relative to what it’s doing – representing the terrain – however we miss the fact that what the terrain is exists within its own mental hierarchy. In this way (philosophically) we simply see the map representing (if anything at all) another hierarchy of thought. It represents, in the form of marks, scribbles, alphanumerics, etc., our very human rational thought process as it goes to work on it’s own needs and interests; it’s a concept worked out in paper, or to put it another way, it’s just more language. Again, as stated above, the map only makes sense within the context of rational thought it was conceived in; give it to the shaman above, and he might tack it up right next to his exhaust pipe and say it’s a picture of the God-head himself – on what grounds do we say he is incorrect. Once again, the idea of representation itself is nothing more then a concept which exists within a larger framework and who’s truth makes sense only within that context. Since the map is really just more language, the realist is stuck with the same problem of showing how language represents anything. Of course one could make the same argument about me, but as a pragmatist I defend my positions, well, pragmatically; if you don’t like them, or find no use for them, neither of us are any worse for ware.

Moving on, one of the road blocks that stand in the way of any two different understandings is generally one of dogma, or so I’ll argue. That a given thing is an exhaust pipe and nothing more, or that the part is a religious icon and nothing more (in statement or belief), is nothing more then a statement of dogmatic thinking. It’s an insistence that our language, along with our needs and interests surrounding the part, correlate; or more extremely (as we’re talking dogma here) that we represent reality as it is, properly. “It’s an exhaust pipe you religious wack-job!” Essentially what you end up with here is one hierarchy/system of thought claiming relevance over another hierarchy/system of thought and in some cases conflating purposes. On the one hand the westerner could assemble the part onto an actual motorcycle and demonstrate it’s use relative to his hierarchy, but on the other hand the shaman could do just the same – so long as both sides are unwilling to step out of they’re dogmatic little hierarchies, no real conclusion on the matter may be reached.

This leads me to another dogma of realism, which is the notion that scientific inquiry makes progress by finding out more and more about the same objects. But once again, this assumes (in true realist form) that we are building upon a system of thought which exists in the form of one big pyramid, as apposed to several competing pyramids, furthermore that the purposes these structures of thought serve are the same. Going back to the exhaust pipe, it’s easy to see from the outside looking in that their difference in opinion exists mainly in the purpose the object serves. Relative to this view point we cannot here make the claim that either side is incorrect, more right or more wrong; we can only say that this side or that sides purpose is meaningless to us.

In the same way we can move to an example given earlier, about where Aristotle’s ideas of motion stand relative to Newton’s. We may be tempted to consider the following statements, “Aristotle said mostly false things about motion”, or “Aristotle said mostly true things about what HE called motion, but we don’t believe there is any such thing.” Or we might want to say, “Here Aristotle goofed, even in his own terms.” Or, “here we have a statement which would be true if anything in Aristotelian physics were, but which, alas, refers to something which does not exist and thus is false.” What we’re trying to accomplish here is to distinguish between Aristotelian falsehoods which are the result of the nonexistence of what he was talking about, and those which result from his misuse of his own theoretical apparatus. However in both cases we’re making a judgment of a particular system of thought relative to the dogma of another system of thought – on the one hand, assuming we’re talking about the same things, he completely misconstrued and/or misrepresented the nature of motion. On the other hand, he was talking about ghosts and fairies that we can’t seem connect with any phenomenon by today’s standards. In both cases we neglect whatever practical purpose his dialogue about motion served at the time and instead substitute it with the practical purposes we have today – thus it is by those standards we make a call. Our current hierarchy of thought isn’t “more true”, it’s simply better suited to our current needs and interests. This is exactly the case between the westerner with the exhaust pipe, and the shaman with the religious icon – each is conceiving of a given thing within a different hierarchy of thought to serve a different need. There is no way of talking about their object that is more true then any other; it’s not more true to call it “A” instead of “B”, nor is it more true that it serves purpose “A” as apposed to purpose “B”. In the same way it isn’t more true to call motion “Aristotelian” as apposed to “Newtonian” (or visa versa), nor is it more true that motion serves an “Aristotelian” purpose as apposed to “Newtonian” purpose. Once again, it would be my argument that a shift in position is a shift in systems of thought relative to the purposes those shifts give us, not their “truthy-ness”.

Representation then, can only take place dogmatically (rhetorically) within a given hierarchy of thought. In other words if two speakers are agreeing to converse within a given context, they can make claims and/or arguments about correct representation only within that context. So you can say, relative to systemic world view “X”, it would be inaccurate to represent reality as containing a God as nowhere within the hierarchy is the logic, reason, or rational to deal with the concept. This of course doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist anymore then the exhaust pipe may or may not be an exhaust pipe or religious icon for the same reasons. The key point here is, that any idea, whether contained in what we’d call object or in dialogue, makes sense only within the context of the language it takes place within – the same is true for the idea of representation. If one would like to use it, fine, but as we cannot justify it outside of pragmatic grounds, then happy chit-chats to you.

The final matter I’d like to address is the idea of constraint, or being constrained by reality in such a way that this gives us a legitimate claim to realism. Since it’s obvious we bump into a world that seems to hold us back from doing certain things, it follows that there must be a world in itself that we have the capacity to represent. I’m not going to fully tackle this here, but say for the moment that, in much the same way the Buddhists say, “Desire is the cause of all suffering”, and Nirvana is the escape from this suffering, I will say, “Rational thought is the cause of all constraint”. It constrains us in governmental systems, religious systems, subject/object metaphysical systems, and in philosophical systems in general. Whatever our current forms of thought are that we hold dear to within any of those systems are the vary things that constrain us, they are the dogma of our lives. As Pirsig notes, through revolts within governments, scientific revolutions, or shifts in religious perspectives, we never get to the point of releasing ourselves from the real culprit of constraint and suffering, which is systematic reason itself. Our lives through these revolutions seem to have some short term gains, but we quickly fall into the same sorts of depressions that led us into the revolutions in the first place.

I’d like to paraphrase Nietzsche with the following:“When a thing becomes known to us, it ceases to be of a concern.” (he goes on to say from here, “…so what was on the mind of God when he said, ‘know thyself’,”) In other words it (the thing) becomes dogmatic, ordinary, meaningless, and so on. It becomes something that doesn’t quite get at the core of what it was we were trying to say, and as a result we build new systems of thought to deal with that new sense of emptiness we feel; which are interpreted as our new needs and interests.

Quoting Pirsig in ZMM again he states:

“When analytic thought, the knife, is applied to experience, something is always killed in the process. That is fairly well understood, at least in the arts. Mark Twain's experience comes to mind, in which, after he had mastered the analytic knowledge needed to pilot the Mississippi River, he discovered the river had lost its beauty. Something is always killed. But what is less noticed in the arts...something is always created too. And instead of just dwelling on what is killed it's important also to see what's created and to see the process as a kind of death-birth continuity that is neither good nor bad, but just is.”

Friday, March 13, 2009

Comrade Schwartz: The paradox of choice

I don't think I've ever come across commie drivel that was packaged in such a neat and amusing pile of bullshit as this – so I thought I’d post it…

Busy @ Work

Aerospace audit & conformity this week and next... Rest assured, when you hop onto an airplane, the ammount of paperwork that went into qualifying each piece that went into the contruction of it, weigh more than the plane itself - at least that's the joke.

So when a plane leaves the assembly bay, the chances of something going wrong are as close to nothing as one can imagine.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sunday, March 08, 2009


In the absence of an effective general mythology or religion, each of us has his private, unrecognized, rudimentary, yet secretly potent pantheon of dream. The latest incarnation of Oedipus, the continued romance of Beauty and the Beast, stand this afternoon on the corner of Fourty-second Street and fifth Avenue, waiting for the traffic light to change.

The Knight, the Buddha and the Dragon

Another tale from Campbell:

“…The old English tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a famous one. One day a green giant came riding on a great green horse into King Arthur's dining hall. "I challenge anyone here," he cried, "to take this great battle-ax that I carry and cut off my head, and then, one year from today, meet me at the Green Chapel, where I shall cut off his head." The only knight in the hall who had the courage to accept this incongruous invitation was Gawain. He arose from the table, the Green Knight got off his horse, handed Gawain the ax, stuck out his neck, and Gawain with a single stroke chopped off his head. The Green Knight stood up, picked up his head, took back the ax, climbed onto his horse, and as he rode away called back to the astonished Gawain, "I'll see you in a year."

That year everybody was very kind to Gawain. A fortnight or so before the term of the adventure, he rode off to search for the Green Chapel and keep faith with the giant Green Knight. As the date approached, with about three days to go, Gawain found himself before a hunter's cabin, where he asked the way to the Green Chapel. The hunter, a pleasant, genial fellow, met him at the door and replied, "Well, the Chapel is just down the way, a few hundred yards. Why not spend your next three days here with us? We'd love to have you. And when your time comes, your green friend is just down the way." So Gawain says okay. And the hunter that evening says to him, "Now, early tomorrow I'm going off hunting, but I'll be back in the evening, when we shall exchange our winnings of the day. I'll give you everything I get on the hunt, and you give me whatever will have come to you." They laugh, and that was fine with Gawain. So they all retire to bed. In the morning, early, the hunter rides off while Gawain is still asleep. Presently, in comes the hunter's extraordinarily beautiful wife, who tickles Gawain under the chin, and wakes him, and passionately invites him to a morning of love. Well, he is a knight of King Arthur's court, and to betray his host is the last thing such a knight can stoop to, so Gawain sternly resists. However, she is insistent and makes more and more of an issue of this thing, until finally she says to him, "Well then, let me give you just one kiss!" So she gives him one large smack. And that was that. That evening, the hunter arrives with a great haul of all kinds of small game, throws it on the floor, and Gawain gives him one large kiss. They laugh, and that, too, was that. The second morning, the wife again comes into the room, more passionate than ever, and the fruit of that encounter is two kisses. The hunter in the evening returns with about half as much game as before and receives two kisses, and again they laugh. On the third morning, the wife is glorious, and Gawain, a young man about to meet his death, has all he can do to keep his head and retain his knightly honor, with this last gift before him of the luxury of life. This time, he accepts three kisses. And when she has delivered these, she begs him, as a token of her love, to accept her garter. "It is charmed," she says, "and will protect you against every danger." So Gawain accepts the garter. And when the hunter returns with just one silly, smelly fox, which he tosses onto the floor, he receives in exchange three kisses from Gawain -- but no garter.” “Do we not see what the tests are of this young knight Gawain? They are the same as the first two of Buddha. One is of desire, lust. The other is of the fear of death. Gawain had proved courage enough in just keeping his faith with this adventure. However, the garter was just one temptation too many. So when Gawain is approaching the Green Chapel, he hears the Green Knight there, whetting the great ax-whiff, whiff, whiff, whiff. Gawain arrives, and the giant simply says to him, "Stretch your neck out here on this block." Gawain does so, and the Green Knight lifts the ax, but then pauses. "No, stretch it out -- a little more," he says. Gawain does so, and again the giant elevates the great ax. "A little more," he says once again. Gawain does the best he can and then whiffff -- only giving Gawain's neck one little scratch. Then the Green Knight, who is in fact the hunter himself transfigured, explains, "That's for the garter." This, they say, is the origin legend of the order of the Knights of the Garter.”

“The moral, I suppose, would be that the first requirements for a heroic career are the knightly virtues of loyalty, temperance, and courage. The loyalty in this case is of two degrees or commitments: first, to the chosen adventure, but then, also, to the ideals of the order of knighthood. Now, this second commitment seems to put Gawain's way in opposition to the way of the Buddha, who when ordered by the Lord of Duty to perform the social duties proper to his caste, simply ignored the command, and that night achieved illumination as well as release from rebirth. Gawain is a European and, like Odysseus, who remained true to the earth and returned from the Island of the Sun to his marriage with Penelope, he has accepted, as the commitment of his life, not release from but loyalty to the values of life in this world. And yet, as we have just seen, whether following the middle way of the Buddha or the middle way of Gawain, the passage to fulfillment lies between the perils of desire and fear.”

“A third position, closer than Gawain's to that of the Buddha, yet loyal still to the values of life on this earth, is that of Nietzsche, in Thus Spake Zarathustra. In a kind of parable, Nietzsche describes what he calls the three transformations of the spirit. The first is that of the camel, of childhood and youth. The camel gets down on his knees and says, "Put a load on me." This is the season for obedience, receiving instruction and the information your society requires of you in order to live a responsible life. But when the camel is well loaded, it struggles to its feet and runs out into the desert, where it is transformed into a lion -- the heavier the load that had been carried, the stronger the lion will be. Now, the task of the lion is to kill a dragon, and the name of the dragon is "Thou shalt." On every scale of this scaly beast, a "thou shalt" is imprinted: some from four thousand years ago; others from this morning's headlines. Whereas the camel, the child, had to submit to the "thou shalts," the lion, the youth, is to throw them off and come to his own realization. And so, when the dragon is thoroughly dead, with all its "thou shalts" overcome, the lion is transformed into a child moving out of its own nature, like a wheel impelled from its own hub. No more rules to obey. No more rules derived from the historical needs and tasks of the local society, but the pure impulse to living of a life in flower.”

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Saying "YES" to Life

The following is a clip from Joseph Campbell's, "The Power of Myth":

.. So Jesus says, "Judge not that you may not be judged." That is to say, put yourself back in the position of Paradise before you thought in terms of good and evil. You don't hear this much from the pulpits. But one of the great challenges of life is to say "yea" to that person or that act or that condition which in your mind is most abominable.

… There are two aspects to a thing of this kind. One is your judgment in the field of action, and the other is your judgment as a metaphysical observer. You can't say there shouldn't be poisonous serpents -- that's the way life is. But in the field of action, if you see a poisonous serpent about to bite somebody, you kill it. That's not saying no to the serpent, that's saying no to that situation.

There's a wonderful verse in the Rig Veda that says, "On the tree" -- that's the tree of life, the tree of your own life -- "there are two birds, fast friends. One eats the fruit of the tree, and the other, not eating, watches." Now, the one eating the fruit of the tree is killing the fruit. Life lives on life, that's what it's all about. A little myth from India tells the story of the great god Shiva, the lord whose dance is the universe. He had as his consort the goddess Parvathi, daughter of the mountain king. A monster came to him and said, "I want your wife as my mistress.'' Shiva was indignant, so he simply opened his third eye, and lightning bolts struck the earth, there was smoke and fire, and when the smoke cleared, there was another monster, lean, with hair like the hair of a lion flying to the four directions. The first monster saw that the lean monster was about to eat him up. Now, what do you do when you're in a situation like that? Traditional advice says to throw yourself on the mercy of the deity. So the monster said, "Shiva, I throw myself on your mercy." Now, there are rules for this god game. When someone throws himself on your mercy, then you yield mercy. So Shiva said, "I yield my mercy. Lean monster, don't eat him." "Well," said the lean monster, "what do I do? I'm hungry. You made me hungry, to eat this guy up." "Well," said Shiva, "eat yourself." So the lean monster started on his feet and came chomping up, chomping up -- this is an image of life living on life. Finally, there was nothing left of the lean monster but a face. Shiva looked at the face and said, "I've never seen a greater demonstration of what life's all about than this. I will call you Kirtimukha -- face of glory." And you will see that mask, that face of glory, at the portals to Shiva shrines and also to Buddha shrines. Shiva said to the face, "He who will not bow to you is unworthy to come to me." You've got to say yes to this miracle of life as it is, not on the condition that it follow your rules. Otherwise, you'll never get through to the metaphysical dimension.

Once in India I thought I would like to meet a major guru or teacher face to face. So I went to see a celebrated teacher named Sri Krishna Menon, and the first thing he said to me was, "Do you have a question?" The teacher in this tradition always answers questions. He doesn't tell you anything you are not yet ready to hear. So I said, "Yes, I have a question. Since in Hindu thinking everything in the universe is a manifestation of divinity itself, how should we say no to anything in the world? How should we say no to brutality, to stupidity, to vulgarity, to thoughtlessness?" And he answered, "For you and for me -- the way is to say yes." We then had a wonderful talk on this theme of the affirmation of all things. And it confirmed me in the feeling I had had that who are we to judge? It seems to me that this is one of the great teachings, also, of Jesus.