- On Debate
I. PRIOR TO THE SELF
The need for human beings to take actions in a complex and kaleidic universe in which we have fragmentary knowledge and limited mental ability, in order to take actions to alter the course of events and capture or consume the difference in that change for our use, in order to accumulate more energy than we expend, and therefore maintain our ability to live. With that ability to live, we then move up the hierarchy of needs to fulfillment. But the process remains the same: to determine the actions we must take, even if those actions are inactions. 1
The brain is an organ. A very expensive organ. The unique property of that organ is the thin layer of memory that covers the exterior of it. That layer is divided into layers that assemble stimuli into objects, then relations, then super-relations and then echo that information back down through the layers, where it is combined with new stimuli from the senses, whereby the process is repeated indefinitely.
II. THE SELF
Mind is the experience that is produced by sense-perception exciting our memories in real time, thereby assembling objects, and creating new memories.2
Emotions are reactions to perceived changes in the state of our bodies, our concepts, our relationships, our social status, our real property, and to the opportunities we count upon for our future due to possessing the mechanism of memory.
Emotions identify ‘goods and bads’. Good feelings are caused by the accumulation of inventory of these things and relations and bad feelings are caused by the need to recalculate a future wherein the individual’s inventory has been reduced through loss. We evolved natural accounting systems. We are accountants. As annoying as that may seem to the average person, that is what we are. Each of us can gain pleasure from a spectrum of actions that vary from self sacrifice in battle, to care-taking of others, to cooperation with others, to individual achievement and invention, to the ostracization of others from the group as punishment for wrongdoing. And because testosterone and oxytocin production govern the pleasure we receive from different actions, and because those hormones vary in density between individuals, and in particular in density of distribution between the genders, then our accounting systems may have different priorities, but we are accountants none the less. And under scrutiny, it makes no sense for us to be otherwise.
Consciousness is produced by our ability to focus on different aspects of the results of the combination of mind and emotion, and by doing so influence the next iteration of results, and then compare the newer results against the old, choose the most favorable, and then recursively repeat.
Calculation describes a spectrum from vague heuristics to complex uncertain continuously variable plans.
Identity is the most simplistic concept: Identify an object and then act on it.(ie: eat it / avoid it)
Comparison is the next most complicated concept: Compare one object from another and act on one of them.
Forecasting is the next most complicated concept: Compare the trajectory of one or more objects in time.
Planning is the next most complicated concept: assembling forecasts in order in order.
Production is the next most complicated concept: assembling plans and resources in oder to produce an outcome.
Cooperation is the next most complicated concept: assembling plans through compromise with the plans of others.
Self Organization is the next most complicated concept: Using simple rules to produce complex outcomes: property and prices for example.
EXTENSION OF PERCEPTION
1) Narratives, numbers, symbols and formulae improve our memory. Without these devices, we would not be able to label objects and make comparisons, and perform all the antecedent calculations (from the heuristic to the computational) we desire to, in furtherance of our actions. Symbols allow us create categories wich can be used for comparison, and without categories we cannot create aggregates – and each object is perpetually unique.
2) Measurements extend our perceptions in three directions: i) down to the very small, and ii) up to the very large. and iii) In time: the commensurability of Events is the most difficult perhaps to perceive without the measuring device of time and clocks.
3) Algorithms, like complex double-entry accounting, let us make use of numeric aggregates by creating a network of ‘scales’ that ensure that despite that complexity, we can tell whether or not the outputs produced were more valuable than the inputs consumed. But this complex system is limited to objects whose commensurability has been obtained through the combination of money and prices. Not all concepts are possible to render commensurable: tastes for example. But algorithms allow us to extend our perceptions.
4) We can conduct calculation within the limits of our perception and memory. We produce symbolic technologies that allow us to extend our perception and augment our memories. But these calculations are products of our minds, not external to them. The universe obeys mathematical laws because it equilibrates infinitely. Mathematics is the process of maintaining ratios. This process imitates the physical universe.
The actions ofHuman beings are not limited by this constraint. They are diametrically opposed to it. The entire purpose of human action is disequilibrating: we act to alter the course of events in the universe so that we may capture some aspect of it at a discount.
5)We can eventually ‘empathize’ with abstractions if we have enough experience with them, therefore permanently internalizing our formulae into sensations, and turning a formulae or process itself into a generalization that can be used to compare complex events in time. This property appears to be unique to humans.
THE PLASTICITY OF OBJECTS
Objects consist of three sets of properties:
a) material properties that remain constant during any given state of the object.
b) perceptual properties that are specific to any given state of the object
c) the utility of the object in whatever state it exists.
Objects are inseparable from the construct of the mind, and the use to which the object is put.
1) The Lump of Iron
If we find a lump of primitive iron, we can heat it and change it into many shapes. If we need a plow, or a sword, we can change the iron from one to the other. If others desire plows or swords, we can create them for them. In different states, the iron has different uses, and across those states the iron has consistent properties.
2) Bag Of Flour
If I have a one hundred bags of flour in storage for the winter, the first bag consume has less value to me than the 90th, 95th, and 100th bag. While these bags are equal in their properties they are not equal in their value to the individual.
3) Descarte’s Ball Of Wax
If we have a ball of wax, and we put it before a fire, and melt it, it’s form has changed from a solid to a liquid, but it is still wax. From this statement, we are supposed to learn, that “bodies are not strictly perceived by the senses or the faculty of imagination but by the intellect alone, and that this perception derives not from their being touched or seen but from their being understood” The universe consists of matter in different states and in motion, but our concept of objects is dependent upon our concept of the utility of these objects independent of our perceptions, while the matter itself is dependent upon its properties in a given state.
THE LIMITS OF PERCEPTION
Because of the plasticity of objects due to their properties, the plasticity of objects due to their utility, the changing preferences of human beings in real time, the geographic distribution of objects and people, and the fragmentary knowledge each individual possess, the choice between paying the costs of communicating versus to acting, and the variety of preferences among different people, we are forever forbidden from intentionally coordinating our actions. Even if it is beneficial if we coordinate our deprivations: by forgoing certain experiences, consumption, or action, such as the case for property, manners, ethics, and morals.
1) “I PENCIL”
In the parable I Pencil by Leonard Read, we learn that while a pencil is quite simple, no single human being knows how to create it alone. A complex device like a computer collects knowledge through trade and exchange that could never by held by a single individual no matter how hard he tried, because the time necessary to possess that knowledge is greater than his lifetime will allow.
2) PRODUCTIVITY IN A DIVISION OF KNOWLEDGE AND LABOR
In Adam Smith’s parable, of the pins, a man can make just a few pins in day, say one to twenty per man. But if a handful of men each specialize in one aspect of pin-making, then they can make thousands of pins a day. This specialization eliminates the cost of task switching. This is very different from ‘many hands make light work’, in which all men carry a bucket of water. There is no net gain from that, only less energy expended by each. but in a division of labor the gains are in orders of magnitude.
3) INTER-TEMPORAL DIVISIONS OF KNOWLEDGE AND LABOR
Some concepts are easier to learn for some people than others. (UNDONE)
Empathy is the process of experiencing an analogy to another’s experience. Because human motives are bounded, empathy allows, within some margins, the transfer first of the experience, and then second, the consequential value judgements. Upon the transfer of value judgements, cooperative actions can then be chosen.
Empathy can also be used as a means of coercion. (And frequently is so.) It can be asymmetric coercion when one person demands empathy of another, but refuses exchange by experiencing the other’s request for empathy.3
Imitation is the process of replicating the actions of others. Utility can result from that imitation. Empathy can result from that imitation. Learning can result from that imitation.
All language is an allegory to experience, from the most basic name given to a simple object or action to the most complex narrative that weaves together the aesthetic, personal, interpersonal, political, the physical universes, with abstract theoretical concepts. The purpose of communication is to transfer (often crudely) one’s experience to others in order to produce an empathic reaction: shared experience.
Symbolic language such as mathematics is simply another form of language that can be used to transfer an experience between individuals.
V. THE METAPHYSICAL PROBLEM
Humans have to act, and they must act in the material world. The only test of this theory is to remain immobile and see what occurs, or the inverse, to put a loaded gun to your head, pull the trigger, and see what occurs. If you are unwilling to perform either of those actions in order to test whether humans act in an objective reality, then any argument you posit to the contrary is simply a self deception. There are multiple rasons for your self deception. Most all of which are psychological. But none of which are incomprehensible: to avoid intellectual effort required of creatures living in a kaleidic universe.
- Inaction is an action: in a room full of seated people, if we ask “everyone who wants to die today please stand up”, we demonstrate action and preference by inaction. Inaction is an action. [↩]
- Having been through the process of losing consciousness and regaining it many times, there is a point where you become aware of the fact that you’re LACKING ‘stimuli’ and ‘presentation’, prior to accumulating enough stimuli to produce enough presentation to compose an understanding/model/concept of your surroundings. It is a very primitive state, but you’re still ‘you’ in the sense that your emotional systems express displeasure at the experience, and actively seek to gain stimulation in order to exit it. I am keenly aware that my emotional ‘clock’ is present in its entirety in that state. As you accumulate stimulation you begin to develop a presentation, and then from disordered presentation emerge objects, and from objects emerge relations to those objects, then emerges environmental context, and then memories of how you value those objects, and next the plans into which those objects fit, and lastly of the actions you must take to fulfill those plans. Because, after all, our purpose as acting beings is action. While this process probably happens pretty fast, and its subtlety is arguably lost when recovering from sedation, when it happens often, and one becomes acclimated to it, the process seems to take forever, as you fitfully try to assemble consciousness in order to escape the ‘darkness’. note: there is a nerve near your heart that during coughing can make you dizzy. Mine is particularly sensitive when I’m dehydrated or ill. There hare been periods of stress when I lost consciousness daily for any number of months. Like newton and his needle, I eventually found the process an opportunity to learn something. [↩]
- This is analogous to how females coerce groups of males into acting as proxies against other groups of males: by creating a market for approval and affection. [↩]
Seattle, WA, United States
I am an independent theorist of Political Economy in the Conservative Libertarian tradition. And as a methodological Propertarian I attempt to complete the work of Rothbard and Hoppe by suggesting post-democratic political solutions for heterogeneous polities.
"De Philosophia Aristocratia"
Anglo Conservatism is the remnant of the European Aristocratic Manorial system and the Classical Liberal philosophy of the Enlightenment, combined with our ancient tribal instincts for group persistence and land-holding. It currently consists as a set of sentiments rather than as an articulated rational philosophy. And without that rational articulation, conservatives lack the ability to create and promote a plan that is a positive and rhetorically defensible alternative to the hazards of accidental bureaucracy and purposeful socialism.
This lack of an articulated philosophy leaves conservatives vulnerable in the public debate with Schumpeterian public intellectuals whose advantage in both volume of production, and simplicity of argument poses a nearly insurmountable challenge.
Libertarianism by contrast, is a rational philosophy of an articulate but permanent minority. It is based upon a solid, rational and critical methodology, even if it is flawed in its initial assumption: the principle of non-violence.
Unfortunately the Rothbardian Anarchist movement has appropriated the term "Libertarian", and left Classical Liberals and Conservatives alienated from the only system of thought with which they need to articulate their political sentiments in rational and empirical rather than moralistic and sentimental form.
By repairing the flaws in Libertarian philosophy we can use its methodology to provide a rhetorical solution for conservatives - a language which in turn may become an articulated philosophical body of argument and advocacy for the frustrated conservative majority.
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