DocWatts

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  1. Thanks for the share! Haven't gotten around to watching to Dave Snowden's critique just yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion between Daniel and Nora. It was interesting to see what Ken Wilber calls the 'performative contradiction' of postmodern relativism in full effect in Nora's critiques (i.e, "hierarchal qualitative distinctions are bad, except for my own view which is qualitatively better than the hierarchal views that I'm critiquing") - as Daniel (correctly) points out. While I do think that postmodernism has some substantive critiques on how stage theory can be misused, it seems like a rather severe case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Kind of like throwing out science because of scientism, or sprituality because of religious fundamentalism.
  2. I would also highly recommend his discussion with John Verveake, for two different but very interesting approaches for challenging reductionist paradigms in physical sciences.
  3. To add on to that, AI learning algorithms don't actually understand anything, as understanding involves far more than responding to input in situationally appropriate ways. In particular, understanding is grounded in a capacity for Care, which non-living entities lack - for exactly the reasons you outline. The main difference is that living beings have 'skin in the game' as far as their relationship with Reality is concerned, while non-living entities don't have survival needs to give their actions meaning and consequences.
  4. Hello again! So I thought I might share another snippet from the philosophy book I'm writing, which is a 'guided tour' to how minds acquire valid knowledge about Reality. A central focus of the book is how our minds turn Reality into a meaningful world for us to reside in through a process I'm calling world disclosure. In this section I'm articulating a phenomenological approach to ontology (ontology is the study of Being, and phenomenology is a way of scrutinizing our direct experience), and contrasting it to what I'm dubbing a 'metaphysical approach' which tends to misconstrue Being as a type of substance that things are 'made out of'. Much of this is a synthesis of insights from ontological phenomenology and embodied cognition, with a peppering of my own thoughts sprinkled in throughout. As always, thoughts and feedback are very welcome. _________________________________________________________________________ BEING : WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? As we continue onwards through this first part of our 'guided tour', what remains is to tie what we’ve learned about world disclosure to the directness of our lived experience within the world. To that end, what we’ll be piecing together over the following pages is an investigation into Being. If your eyes glazed over at the mention of such a seemingly abstract subject, I’m right there with you dear reader. But if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to make a case as to why an exploration of this subject doesn’t have to be a form of armchair navel-gazing that’s disconnected from everyday life. Rather, our own approach will be rooted in uncovering how an understanding of Being is foundational for comprehending Reality, and how this primordial form of knowledge connects to our ability to navigate daily life. What we’ll come to discover is that far from being superfluous to the concerns of daily life, Being is instead a direct consequence of our concernful absorption within a world that matters to us. To illustrate what it is that an understanding of Being actually does for us, let’s return to our guiding metaphor of how our minds create homes for us within Reality. When we think of what a home is, what sorts of feelings do we normally associate with it? Well, for those of us who are fortunate enough to have a relatively healthy living situation, a large part of what we tend to associate a home with is a sense of comfort and familiarity. Another way of stating this is that homes are a place that we can feel at ease within the world. Think of the effortlessness with which you’re able to perform hundreds of ordinary interactions in your home every single day, whether that’s turning on a light switch, brushing your teeth, or grabbing a snack from the kitchen. Actions that we’re so habituated to that they’re for all intents automatic. Well there’s a good reason for this, and much of it has to do with how world disclosure grants us access to a prereflective and nonconceptual form of understanding which makes all of this exceedingly easy for us. For what’s imparted through a world that’s disclosed to us in terms of our interests and capacities is a an understanding of Being. Being can be thought of as the most foundational type of knowledge that it’s possible to have about Reality, since it’s what allows us to make basic discernments about what we come across within the World. It’s through Being we’re able to understand a tree as a tree or a person as a person, in a direct and immediate way. As to what understanding a tree as a tree or a person as a person actually means, it’s that trees and people are disclosed to us in our lived experience as distinct entities that we can relate to in some way, whereby they can become meaningful for us. When we mention an understanding of Being, this is what we’re referring to. Importantly, when we speak of the Being of trees or people we are not referring to the particular substances these entities happen to be made of (in the way that molecules are made of atoms, for instance). This is because Being isn’t a substance. Rather, it’s far more accurate to think of Being as a form of understanding for a particular someone. Or to put it another way, Being is an aspect of how we experience Reality; and because of this, it can’t exist outside of the immediacy of our lived experience anymore than our thoughts and emotions could. The misconstrual of Being as synonymous with ‘what things are made of’ is at the heart of the metaphysical approach to ontology, which attempts to explain Being from an ‘outside-in’ vantage point. And while understanding what things are made of is of course very useful knowledge to have, this represents just a small aspect of what Being is all about. This is because our observations about what things are made of is itself derived from a far more foundational form of knowledge which allows people, places, and things to be comprehensible as distinct entities in the first place. The advantages of a world that’s disclosed to us through Being is that it allows us to understand a great deal about the world around us prior to any conscious effort or deliberation on our part. Indeed, this primordial way of relating to the world normally functions so well that it tends to be invisible to us in our daily lives, in that it forms the basis of the tacit knowledge that’s foundational for navigating daily life. For instance, assuming that you don’t suffer from prosopagnosia, or face blindness, have you ever wondered how you’re able to instantly and effortlessly recognize the faces of your friends and family? Or how, when you’re surveying the contents of an unfamiliar dining room table, the question of which objects are food and which aren’t is normally so immediately obvious that you never even think to question it? Or that interacting with doorknobs and chairs and eating utensils is normally so automatic that our interactions with these items tend to be transparent and invisible to us? If we want to understand how such a wide range of interactions are so exceedingly easy for us, recall for a moment the guiding metaphor of this chapter, that minds turn Reality into a home for us through world disclosure. Also recall that the primary function of world disclosure is to create meaningful worlds that come pre-arranged in terms of our needs and capacities. Being, then, is the means by which the things we encounter within Reality become meaningful for us. Which is to say that doorknobs and tables and cups aren’t just “neutral” things we happen to come across within a bare Reality. Rather, our understanding of the Being of these entities makes them meaningful to us. Earlier we gave a brief explanation of how our worlds contain affordances for us to interact with the things we come across in particular ways. In that chairs offer affordances for sitting, cups offer affordances for drinking, and so on. It’s precisely because we understand the Being of chairs and cups, that these entities are meaningful to us in some way, that the affordances which arise out of these entities are possible at all. For something to be meaningful to us, it must be both intelligible, or clearly identifiable as a distinct type of thing, and it must be relevant to us in some way. (For our present purposes, we can also think of ideas, processes, and events as types of ‘things’). Yet the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of things that we could conceivably encounter within Reality fulfill neither of these criteria; thus they tend to be excluded from the types of world disclosure we normally experience. Scientific knowledge tells us that we live in a Reality that’s saturated with radioactive decay, subatomic particles, and relativistic time dilation. And that’s all true enough. But in the vast majority of situations that we encounter throughout the course of daily life, these aspects of Reality are not usually connected to our interests and capacities, and may as well not even exist as far as our lived experience is concerned. This begins to make a good deal of sense when we realize that experiential worlds which are disclosed to us in terms of Being serve an important survival function. The role that Being plays within world disclosure is that it allows us to quickly and easily make basic discernments about what we come across within the world. And it’s only because world disclosure creates homes for us within Reality that come pre-arranged around our particular survival adaptations that Being can function in this way. If our ancestors didn’t have access to an understanding of Being that let them quickly and easily understand what aspects of their local Reality were relevant to their survival, we wouldn’t be here today. As wonderful as our rational faculties are, the truth is that rational deliberation is far too slow and cognitively expensive to be of much help when a predator is jumping out at you from the bushes. With this adaptive purpose in mind, we can perhaps better understand how Being is referring to something altogether different than what ‘things are made out of’. In particular, the mistake that metaphysical approaches which treat Being as a substance are making is a type of category error. Category errors occur when something is mistaken for a fundamentally different type of thing than what it truly is. Perhaps my favorite example of a category error comes from possibly apocryphal stories of audiences reacting with panic at film depictions of oncoming trains, back when the technology for motion pictures was brand new. As our phenomenological account has hopefully made more clear, Being is really just an aspect of our lived experience that arises out of our interactions with Reality. Similar in some ways to how sense perception is an aspect of our lived experience that arises from the interaction between a body-mind and its environment. Nothing more, nothing less. THE CARE THAT BINDS Having familiarized ourselves with the role that Being serves in our daily lives, we can at last delve down to the core foundation upon which Being rests, which is a capacity for Care. What Care refers to is our concernful absorption within a world whose outcomes matter to us. So far we’ve explored at length the role that residing within a meaningful world plays in our ability to navigate Reality. As we wrap up this first leg of our journey, we’ll be exploring how a capacity for Care serves as the canvas upon which all forms of meaning are painted. And along the way we’ll also uncover how this capacity is indispensable to our survival.
  5. Sex, Ecology, Spirituality is his most comprehensive book on the subject. While A Theory of Everything is a good, short introduction to Integral Theory.
  6. Here's the thing though, for someone who jumps into Stage Theory without a solid epistemological foundation, it's not obvious. For someone to even recognize that they're absolutizing a Stage Model requires a good understanding of how paradigms work, which is far from a given. I agree with you about the problematic implicit teleology of such models. For Spiral Dynamics in particular, my view is that model would be much better off without the Turquoise Stage, since there's not a cultural paradigm for it to be expressed through (like there is in modernism, postmodernism, and metamodernism)
  7. Since Ken Wilber was brought up, Stage Theories just like any other dialectical model are best thought of as 'orienting generalizations'. In that they can be quite helpful for understanding the broad strokes of a particular domain, but run into trouble when they get Absolutized into an iron law of Reality. This is of course also true of postmodernism (where critiques of Stage Theory come from), in that it's true in some important ways but is also a very partial understanding of Reality. For my own part, my experience has been that Stage Theories are useful for thier ability to contextualize some of the dynamics of a given domain, but become problematic when used as the primary lens one uses to understand Reality, in that Stage Models are especially susceptible to being used as a form of epistemic bypassing. When not used with care they can tempt us into thinking that we understand far more about Reality than we actually do; which is why it's important to cultivate epistemic humility, especially when one is using dialectical models.
  8. Might as well ask why a single perspective isn't enough to encompass every aspect of Reality.
  9. The idea that you'd even have to explain to someone with a PhD. that facts are paradigm dependent and have to be interpreted to be meaningful is so absurd that's it's amusing.
  10. @trenton @Ajax Thanks for the kind words, and for the constructive feedback.
  11. So I thought I might share a snippet or two from the philosophy book I'm working on, which I'm describing as a 'guided tour' to how minds acquire valid knowledge about Reality. The basic aim of this book is to develop a phenomenological approach to epistemology, and to introduce both topics in a way that's accessible to non-specialists who don't speak philosophical jargon as a second language. The book is entitled '7 Provisional Truths'. The work is grounded by a somatic, or embodied theory of mind, which explores how our lived experience of Reality is a consequence of the organizational structure provided by having living bodies with survival needs (whether you believe those bodies to be composed of matter-stuff or mind-stuff is irrelevant for our present purposes). My overall approach for the book is to use an orienting metaphor for each of the seven themes of the book, which are tied to an easily relatable everyday context. The section below is a snippet from the a chapter on the first of the 7 Provisional Truths, which is all about how minds turn Reality into a home for us through a process that I'm calling world disclosure. If there's any interest, I might post more snippets in future. I'd also welcome any feedback, since I'm also partly trying to gauge and adjust whether my writing style to be accessible as possible for the subject matter I'm exploring. _______________________________________________________ THE 7 PROVISIONAL TRUTHS 1.) MINDS DISCLOSE WORLDS 2.) KNOWLEDGE IS MOSTLY SITUATED COPING 3.) CATEGORIES ARE ALWAYS CONTEXTUAL 4.) ALL PERSPECTIVES ARE PARTIAL 5.) INTELLECT SERVES INTUITION 6.) MOTIVATED REASONING IS THE NORM 7.) BELIEFS SERVE US BEST WHEN HELD LIGHTLY _______________________________________________________ PROVISIONAL TRUTH #1: MINDS DISCLOSE WORLDS (Orienting Metaphor: World disclosure is the mind’s way of constructing a home for us within Reality) The orienting metaphor that we’ll be returning to throughout this section is that of a home, and our main premise is that a central part of what minds do is create homes for us within Reality. And just like a house is constructed to be compatible with the lifestyle of human beings (houses aren’t built underwater, nor are their doorways accessed from the ceiling), minds construct a version of Reality for us to live within that comes prearranged in terms of our needs and capacities. The process by which minds turn Reality into a home for us to reside within is called world disclosure. What a world refers to is a cumulative whole of meaningful boundaries, patterns, and relationships for a living Being. We can think of a world as what Reality is on an experiential level for an individual. To disclose is to reveal or uncover something. So world disclosure is the process of revealing a meaningful world within the whole of Reality. And the meaningful aspect of world disclosure is the really important part. As conscious beings that experience and understand things, we do not and could not reside within a bare Reality; what we reside within is a meaningful world. Another way of referring to this meaningful world is as our lived Reality. In our metaphor of home construction, houses of course don't build themselves, but are constructed with building materials that are actively put together through the labor of people. Likewise, minds disclose worlds in accordance with the opportunities and demands of a particular environment, through the structural organization that’s provided by a living body with survival needs. So it is only through a living body that a mind has access to a world of people, places, and things; which is to say that minds are inherently embodied. So when we speak of a mind we’re also necessarily speaking of a living body as well, because the question of how a mind functions can’t be meaningfully answered without also considering the particulars of how that mind is embodied. The term somatic is used to describe ideas and practices that deal with our direct experience of the living body. The theory of mind which grounds the themes we’ll be exploring throughout this book is a somatic theory of mind. Later on we’ll be considering some of the reasons why the importance of the living body to the mind is an area that has largely been neglected throughout Western philosophy (though with a handful of exceptions, which we’ll also be exploring). As we do so, we’ll also be articulating the challenge that this somatic view poses to disembodied conceptions of mind which stretch back to the European Enlightenment and are still influential to this day, despite how archaic these conceptions have become in the light of scientifically informed knowledge. For our present purposes, when we mention that minds are inherently embodied, what we are emphasizing is the importance of the structural organization that’s provided by a living body to what a mind is. Importantly, minds do not ‘invent’ worlds independently from the living body, nor does world disclosure take place in isolation from the totality of the shared Reality that you, I, and everyone else participates in. (In contrast, the idea that minds independently ‘create’ the whole of Reality and that nothing outside of one’s own mind exists is a philosophical hypothesis known as solipsism, which this book unambiguously rejects). And just in case the distinction between an environment and a world is still a bit unclear, when we mention an environment, what we are referring to are the physical and social spaces which exert evolutionary selection pressures on a life form. And when we refer to a world, what we're referring to are the meaningful boundaries, patterns, and relationships that a mind experiences over the course of its life. Worlds can also be thought of as what environments become through minds which are hardwired to experience meaningful things and situations. Or to return to our guiding metaphor for this chapter, the difference between an environment and a world can be likened to the difference between a house and a home. As all of us know, a home isn’t just a physical space, but a significant place which has been suffused with a rich tapestry of familiarity and meaning. The upshot of all this is that minds aren’t passive spectators that are parachuted into a preexisting world with fixed features. Rather, minds play an active role in constructing the features of the worlds they come to inhabit. However, this is not to say that minds are free to inhabit just any type of world, nor are the specifics of world disclosure a ‘choice’ that an individual makes (consciously or otherwise). Instead, the specifics of world disclosure are in large part a consequence of the organizational structure that’s provided through a body which is subject to the evolutionary selection pressures of an environment. Which is to say that both body and environment predispose minds to different forms of world disclosure, and thus to different types of lived Realities. Among the more significant aspects of human physiology for the types of world disclosure experienced by human beings are highly expressive and communicative faces, a bipedal posture that’s oriented along a front-back axis, highly dexterous hands that are used to manipulate our surroundings, and forward facing eyesight that serves as our primary navigational sense. A WORLD OF AFFORDANCES Crucially, these structurally significant aspects of our physiology (our bipedalism, our hands, and our eyesight, to name just a few) play a role in determining the types of affordances that our worlds contain. An affordance can be thought of as an invitation to interact with something in some particular way. For example, a chair offers affordances for sitting, while a hammer offers affordances for hammering. Importantly, affordances aren’t something that we’re consciously aware of most of the time; rather, they play a role in how objects show up for us in our lived experience. It’s simply obvious to us that chairs are for sitting and hammers are for hammering. Of course, that’s not to imply that objects invite us to interact with them in only one way. A hammer can be used to drive nails into wood, but it can also be used to cave in someone’s skull. The particulars of what any given affordance will be aimed at will largely depend on the demands of the situation that one is absorbed in. While this situational aspect of affordances will be covered in depth in our next chapter which is all about situated coping, for the time being what’s worth noting about affordances is that they’re first and foremost flexible. More specifically, affordances assist minds in navigating the complexity of Reality by offering a flexible means for focusing in on what’s relevant for our needs and purposes within the situation we’re involved in. It’s precisely because affordances are so flexible that an experiential world structured in terms of affordances is a world that’s ripe for improvisation. And it’s largely this disclosive improvisational framework which allows minds to adapt to the wide variety of situations that a living being encounters throughout the course of its life.
  12. Thanks! Really looking forward to writing that section in particular, since intuition's relationship with reason via heuristics is a very interesting topic to explore.
  13. I've found Wilber's holonic approach to be quite helpful for contextualizing this. In that the sociosphere is contingent on the biosphere, but the reverse is not true. By this measure we could say that biological facts are more fundamental than sociological facts, while sociology is more significant because it includes a greater depth of holons than the biosphere. Likewise gender is contingent upon biological sex, but the reverse is not true. At the same time, gender can said to be more significant for the lived experience of human beings than biological sex.
  14. Good on her. My impression is that Cenk Uyghur seems like a decent guy who's putting in a good faith effort to combat political corruption (I've been supporting his efforts to get a constitutional Amendment passed to get corporate money out of politics for years). That said, TYT doesn't get an automatic pass just because I support Cenk's other efforts, or because they're a Leftist political outlet. Since unfortunately their channel is filled with the same kind of sensationalist nonsense and ideological rigidity that I criticize other forms of profit driven media for.
  15. It's worth noting that the observation that something is a mental construct (such as gender) does not mean that it's imaginary (ie not 'real'). I see people make this mistake all of the time. If we think about what a mental construct, such as gender, actually is, it's a category or boundary that's created and sustained by our minds, which is coupled to some observation about ourselves or the world. As such, the nature of all constructs is that they are necessarily partial (since they arise from the limitations inherent to a particular perspective), and are a consequence of our interactions with Reality; which makes them 'real' (though not necessarily healthy or functional).
  16. Race based affirmative action always seemed to me like a really clumsy way of trying to address gross inequality of opportunity here in the States. I've long thought that income and location based affirmative action would make a lot more sense, if the goal of affirmative action has been to provide opportunities for social mobility to those who got dealt a shit hand in the birth lottery. Obviously it doesn't address the root causes of education inequality, but that's outside the scope of what a university admissions board can hope to remedy. My concern is that rather than reforming race based affirmative action into a system that makes more sense for the world we happen to be living in now, in many cases it will be replaced with nothing. Making a system that's already rife with inequality of opportunity even worse. And the fact that the Supreme Court decision bans race based affirmative action and leaves nepostic legacy admissions in place is the cherry on top of the shit rulings the SCOTUS has been making.
  17. The problem hasn't been Affirmative Action per se, so much as basing it on race alone rather than a person's overall socio-economic status. Race is just one dimension of how advantaged or disadvantaged a person is, a smart Yellow policy would target it towards communities that lack access to support systems for social mobility (which in the US would of course include poor inner cities that are predominantly non-white, but also rural areas that have been underserved and neglected). 'Merit' based systems are only fair when people have access to reasonably equitable opportunities to self actualize, which the US has sadly been failing at. Unfortunately in the US affirmative action for privileged people still exists, in the form of legacy admissions (ie 'your daddy went to Harvard so you get to go to Harvard', which is just a gross form of nepotism). And of course the decision that was reached by this reactionary Supreme Court doesn't touch nepotistic affirmative action for the affluent. It just hurts people from disadvantaged communities without doing anything to actually address the problems that gave rise to the well meaning but flawed Green knee-jerk reaction that is races based affirmative action.
  18. Okay, I'll bite. Good things about Trump: 1) His gross incompetence combined with his utter inability to even pretend to be a halfway decent human being cost an increasingly dangerous Republican Party big in 2020 and 2022. 2) The MAGA movement unmasked the Republican Party as a fascistic political party in a way that's plain for the rest of the country to see. 3) Trump's presidency exposed how vulnerable the institutions of American democracy are to authoritarianism. 4) The American Legal system is holding what was formerly the most powerful person in the country accountable for high crimes and treason, which shows that we're still a country that upholds the Rule of Law. 5) Authorities like the FBI, CIA, and the military are finally starting to take the threat of political violence from the far right more seriously thanks to Trump's unhinged and dangerous supporters.
  19. Might as well ask what the top 5 things about having diarrhea are while you're at it
  20. I believe that the dems at least could be bullied into it if the idea catches on enough that there's a real public push for it. Ranked choice voting does exist already in some areas of the country (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina after a quick google search). Thing is, even if ranked choice was adopted everywhere tomorrow, it's not like the Green Party or some independent is going to be a serious threat to the dems and the repubs being the two primary political parties in America. But realistically, it could allow for some independents and third parties to make baby steps, like perhaps grabbing some seats in the house of representatives, or becoming the mayor of some city.
  21. When used with the understanding that it's a broad generalization (and not an actual substitute for political/ sociological literacy), it's perfectly adequate. Not as useful as something as spiral dynamics of course, but as a quick way of getting a rough sense of someone's worldview it serves well enough. The problem, as you point out, is people using the Left / Right political axis in an uninformed and uneducated way. But that's going to be a problem for just about any model that's made it way into the public sphere, it isn't unique to the Left-Right axis.
  22. The Left/Right political axis should really just be seen as an orienting generalization. And for most ordinary people who don't pay attention to politics, thier own worldview is likely an inconsistent mishmash of the two (ie people thinking that the government spends too much on welfare while also thinking that it should do more to help poor people). That said, the differences between the two aren't just armchair theorizing, they actually do matter in the real world. If you're an LGBTQ person for instance you can be damned sure that the difference matters, since one end of that spectrum is pioneering a hate campaign against you, and the other end isn't. Both the Left and the Right end of that spectrum have their own problems, but it does no one any good to draw a false equivalency between the two. In the current political environment the far right end of that spectrum is an existential threat to democracy.
  23. For third parties to be viable in America, at a minimum we would need either a federal law or constitutional amendment that requires Ranked Choice Voting everywhere in the country. Without that, our first past the post voting system ensures that third parties running in national elections have effectively zero chance at winning. To list a historical example, if a prolific former president like Teddy Roosevelt wasn't able to win an election running for reelection as a third Party, what chance do any of these tiny third parties have? If you want more political choices, push for electoral reforms before throwing your vote away on a third party.
  24. This ^ Letting an increasingly fascistic Republican party dismantle what remains of American democracy is literally the worst case outcome of the dynamics that are at play right now. The current Republican Party is actively supporting political violence, both from paramilitary groups and lone wolf actors, while trying to destabilize the country to achieve thier political aims. Trump himself is a national security risk who put the United States in danger. The Democratic Party basically wants business as usual, but can at least be bullied into supporting policies that benefit the American people. The Republicans know that thier extremism is unpopular, and instead of moderating their platform have chosen to dismantle democracy.