Monday, July 13, 2015

On "On Denoting"

Bertrand Russell -- Notes on "On Denoting."
I wanted to extract and explore everything possible from this important piece. *'s denote descriptive remarks about certain sections, vaguely in the right order, which I hope show accurately my interpretation of the text. Paragraph breaks are digressions within remarks on the text, continued at length in the latter half. I found the critique of distinguishing 'denotation' from 'meaning' to be the most revealing portion in what is meant by 'meaning' and what is denoted by 'denotation.'
Remarks on specific aspects of text:
*names are of objects, and when they appear in sentences, the sentences are about the named objects.
*names are properties of objects, which can be predicated of them: they are part of the meaning of sentences about objects. They are not separate from meaning, but are subsumed by it, involved in it, mentioned by mention of meaning. Russell's restriction on names themselves from having inherent meaning cuts us off from the possibility of stating that there is meaning over and above the meaning of a sentence based on arbitrary label changes. I believe the priciple he's working off of is this: We can't add information simply by changing the shorthand associated with it.
*Different names refer to the same object by the following general formalism:
x = A and x = B <=> A = B = x. A and B stand for definite names, and x is an ambiguous anyname. This is the typical "transitivity" property of equivalence relations in action. If this identity is known, we know P(A) and P(B) have identical meaning. Linguistically,
The (a) author was Scott = There exists precisely (at least) one x such that x was the (a) author and x was Scott.
In this case, the former 'name' can work as a name or a property, but since actual names given to objects socially is part of their hypothetical list of properties, this is no difficulty for the theory. Knowing th identity 'The author is Scott' to be true, we could succeed this with a sentence about Scott which used either 'the author' or 'Scott' or 'him' to refer to him (if we know his gender!). We can alternate sentences using different names, and there need be no confusion for any reader who knows the identity to be established (otherwise it may only be surmisabe but uncertain). The idea is that we can make any identity with new names, so long as they are not taken, and use this in later sentences to yield identical meaning. Transitivity. However he only allows for one actual object to be named by a given name. The ability to phrase descriptions differently is supposed to account for the puzzle of unknown identity by showing that the meaning of A = B depends on the meaning of a sentence involving arbitrary phrasings of A and B, not their actual identity. (For in that case, the idea is that 'A=B' would mean essentially nothing, being only a restatement of a common logic axiom - this is given that, in the language of the theory, we know there's a x such that x=A and x=B)
*No details about how names are attached to obects, except that C(x) works regarldess of the specific form of the name 'x': We are forced to interpret x 'literally' as something a sentence can be about. This only addresses the apparent interchangibility of nouns, and is not adapted to differing verbs applying to the same noun.
*one has two types of identity: A = B for one denoted thing with two denotations (names), and logical identity P(A) = P(B). These are both denoted by the words "is" and "=". Russell avoids saying that the names A and B "are" the same thing, because he can only say they are anything at all by placing them in grammatical structure.
*The theory hinges on the belief that meaning and denotation are essentially functions from the realm of objects to language, and that the former is bijective (an object maps to the class of propositions, which have unique meaning for a given object) while the latter is not: One object maps to many formally symmetric (i.e. all are of the form f(x) for some name x) propositions featuring the different names of the object. The meaning of f(x) is the same for any name x of a given object.
*I introduce some new terms to make things clear. He objects to the idea that denotation and meaning can be disjoint, because the high-order operator '*' (which operates on language * by explicitly referring to words, phrases, or sentences) and the higher-order modifier M(*) (which assigns a meaning to language) can be used to show the two are not independent. His argument appears to be: Statements S('x') which mention a name as such should be about the denotation:
M(S_d('x')) is in the category of statements about the name 'x' regardless of the statement S_d and the particular name 'x'.
Thus, M(S_m(M('x')) is in the category of statements about M('x'), the meaning of what is denoted, which may or may not exist (existence is only allowed in the case that x is the name of a bit of language) but is specific to x, the actual named thing. In other words, M(S_m(M('x'))) is in the category of statements about x (since it is a meaning involving a specific object). But since S_m(M('x') includes the higher-order name variable 'x', M(S_m(M('x'))) must be in the category of things about names. So is the meaning M(S(M('x'))) about a thing or its name? By denying that a name can be "part of" a thing, Russell must concede that all this is basically nonsense.
Essentially, this: 'C' is a denotation of C, so statements involving the meaning of 'C' should be about that denotation. But 'the meaning of 'C'' is about C, not any particular denotation 'C'. Meaning can only be said when speaking of 'C', yet using simply C yields meaningful sentence about the thing denoted by 'C' without mentioning the use of '*' explicitly, hence using C in a sentence is not simply denotation.

By predicating of one another, he shows that meaning and denotation are tangled together: "inseparable." But they are not identical, nor is one illusory. In fact, they only indistinguishable in higher-order language - 'within' language that doesn't reference one of the concepts (meaning resp. denotation), it can't be said that any sentence should be about the other (denotation resp. meaning); those meanings aren't presumed to exist. Russell's solution amounts to disallowing 'meaning' to be predicated of explicitly referenced names. But we could equally take the dual route; the topology of the logic here is symmetric, since we aren't explicitly referencing the actual differences between meaning and denotation!! (in this type of solution). So we still haven't accounted for why it seems like nouns in themselves have meaning. My name appears to be imbued with meaning historically, culturally, socially, personally. If it has no type of meaning on its own, why is my mind sparked by its sound? Its meaning may be diffuse, but its meaning is quite real. From a 3rd person point of view, an animal responds to a name without any grammatical structure given the lived structure of its life; social animals benefit by getting each others attention in specific oral ways. This is similar to the particular characters of bird calls; the meaning of the sign is understood, however diffusely, without any other spoken/shown grammatical struture.
His argument hinges on the idea that meanings of propositions go with the things they are about directly, regardless of how the object is named. We could just as well try it the other way around, however, taking the meaning of denoting phrases as given, asserting that grammatical structure has no denotation on its own, but rather acquires the ability to "point" by virtue of the specific meanings of the denotary phrases in it. This feels at least as natural, since in all discourse the meaning of sentence types changes based on the particular names in it. "I'm in your house" is different than "I'm in your wife." Since the same "category" of linguistic construct (names) can refer to different "categories" of objects, this contingency is perfectly natural. We might re-arrange a sentence from his essay as follows:
meaning is essentially part of a denotation, without which sentences make no sense. Observe how easy it is to argue: Boo is gaa unless faa Me fa soo long. u and v are w unless p q x y z. What might this sentence mean? There is no meaning to empty, skeletal structure, which waits for the flesh of reference to fill it with logos.
The validity of would-be theorems/syllogism majors "If u and v are w, then p q x y z" cannot be judged on its structure alone. It only acquires logos by putting in explicit properties, whose meanings are known to those familiar with them.
What I'm saying is that we could flip meaning and denotation in a large part of the essay (aside from the critique of Frege) and there'd be not difference. The idea is that instead of meaning created through structure of phrases, it is created from denoting particular entities.
Instead of saying things like " 'There is no bald King of France' means 'It is never true that P(f(x)) = 1,' hence it is true ", we'd be saying things like " 'King of France' denotes no entity; hence 'There is no bald King of France' is true."
I won't flesh this out in the same detail as Russell, but if you're skeptical I'd encourage you to prove me wrong.
I don't think either reductive approach is useful in this arena. We must allow the full wealth of experience to guide our thinking about the interface between grammar and knowledge. Word is given and its meaning felt; its truth is debated later. The lack of freedom in immediate perception of names should be reconciled with the relative freedom of reflection upon sentences in which they occur, at which time we find ourselves imagining would-bes, and judge the possibility or impossibility of their replacement by another name, and the logical results; these two aspects of names and their meanings are commensurate, not at odds.
*Names denote by have no meaning. Contrary to Frege, who says meanings of propositions are built from th meanings of their parts.
e.g. For Frege, f(x,y,z) has a meaning dependent on the meanings of x, y, and z, and the structure of f, but for Russell it is f which imbues x y and z with meaning, which are meaningless on their own - there are either objects such that f(x,y,z) = 1, or no objects such that f(x,y,z) = 1: in the latter case, the quantified assignment  'f(v) = 0 for all v' is made. Of course, building negation into the fundamental semantics means  that if we find contradiction, we know that 'lack of existence' of an object has been negated by explicit reference in a grammatical structure (as existing). Identifying the cases in which f is untrue and which f(v) is not satisfied by any object-vector v, we identify contradiction with the class { "truth simultaneous with non-existence", "truth simultaneous with falsity")
This is a lack of distinction between adjectives that are binary, and those that are not. For instance, suppose I tell you I am 6'5". I am actually a bit of change under that height, but it will suffice for many purposes that I tell you the approximate number. There are two different ways you can contradict me, and they have to do with order of difference. If I were 4", the height would be a lie to anyone; they would all say I have uttered something false: They will positively tell you that I am of a height, and that "6 foot 5" is a height they recognize, but that these two heights do not positively coincide: Their coincidence, from a human viewpoint (i.e. on an organismic scale), is perhaps 0.
But many people would accept my answer as "essentially" true: My perceived/felt height and my stated height coincide positively, if not perfectly.
To define height explicitly, we can use the notions of gravity, tangent surface (to the planet), perpindicular, and the 'supremum' of real analysis. If I say that a measuring stick of precisely (to whatever degree we have achieved in a particular standard-embodying system) 6'5" is the smallest that will fit over my head, I have told you something wrong, because a slightly shorter one will still bound the gravitational height of (the average highest point) of my body with respect to any linear approximation of the Earth's surface. "It is not true from every perspective."
However, using the fuzzily defined perspective of "planet Earth," we might say there is not enough difference between 4' and 6'5" to change any planetary calculations. This layering of perspectives usually means that discourse is made efficient in general by referencing a single understood context at a time, implicitly.
This is different from a situation in which we do not measure height by ordered marking on sticks, but still find need to classify the sizes of things (at least "that which I can carry/hold" will be). Picture people speaking about the difficulty of transporting insects; say they want to remove two moths from a lighted enclosure. In 'solving' the 'problem,' one inevitably uses the fact that a moth can be contained in a hand, or in some artifact which may be manipulated by hand. That something is coarsely "smaller" or "larger" doesn't change as we step back, it just becomes less certain. If it is more finely "about the same" can change as we step back, in addition to becoming less certain.
All this highlights the complications that follow when we seek to lock down meaning by making its context clear.

Back to the interpretation.

*all propositions are assumed to be decidable.
*meaning is assigned
*meaning is not assigned to individual phrases, but to structured ensembles of phrases
*phrases can be written symbolically to stand for "any phrase" (in a given domain - though of course, the necessity of stating his was not recognized)
e.g. x y. Russell places no lower bound on the phrase-length that defines a 'form', though I assume he'd agree that that 2 is natural. The 'empty phase,' he'd say, clearly means nothing because it is not said; it is no form, no assignment. As for 1.... ("x")
*phrases must be coupled to mean anything. by meaning, he means valid communication, but it's hard t make sense of exactly what criteria meaning must fulfill. It is clear that he thinks propositions that are invalid forms of denoting can be refuted on those grounds alone, and I have a feeling he felt that valid forms were somehow safeguarded from this type of dismissal. I don't think we can view this theory apart from the social ramifications of refutation in the tradition of philosophy. One can't help but supect some inherent defensiveness in the approach.
*Phrase variables are used to assess the validity of a statement, supposing implicitly a common domain X over which variables are quantified by all speakers/observers. The class of quantification determine which phrases
*In the formalism, all true propositions look like "P(x) = 1".
*No mention is made of cases in which the class X is not precisely knowable -- inherently uncertain. It would be 20 years before quantum mechanics was put on a firm mathematical basis; can't help but wonder how this theory would have changed if Bertie was born 20 years later.
*Hence, *any* P can only take values 0 and 1. It would be 60 years before the conception of generalized "fuzzy" logic.
*So we have that if any statement is true, it can be written as a proposition P(x), and there is an x (in) X such that P(x)=1. The assignment is assumed to be carried out under arbitrary conditions, out of necessity, absolutely. There is no mention of any deliberative process; there is no moment in which the value of P(x) uncertain; it is not constructed in this theory, but it appears. The assignment happens "behind" or "above" the theory.
*Because of the actual fuzziness of the class X (which, at the time of writing, existed in Russell's mind and memory. We use X to stand for our our own domains of interest, which exist in our worlds and minds), statements like "(exists) x (in) X: P(x) =1" convey relatively little, because we are only saying that at least one member of the class fits into the proposition; the only distinction is between one and all, since Russell didn't take the notion of plurality as essential, but did wish to include universality.
e.g. I can say: "I met a man, I met a man, and I met a man."
Which men do I mean, exactly? It doesn't matter, so long as there are entities that satisfy this. For this statement to satisfy P(x,y,z) = 1, it is only important that there are three, not which order I refer to them in, since I have no distinguished between them. In fact this ambiguity is completely unresolved in the theory: There is no distinction between the cases in which x =/= y and x=y, for example. Russell can only hope to decompose the statement into three separate statements:
P_1: "I met a man."
P_2: "I met a man."
P_3: "I met a man."
The commas and "and" work together to make the statement coherent as a logical "AND" of the P_i. In fact, since P_1 = P_2 = P_3, all we need is one x such that any P_i(x) = 1, and we know that P_1(x) = P_2(x) = P_3(x) = 1. When we have z =/= x =/=y =/= z, the P_i actually must be resolved in different ways, even if they still turn out to be 1: They refer to actual differences in the world, though the form doesn't show it. Again, the resolution of propositions to discrete truth or falseness happens "above" the theory.
We also have that ambiguously denoted things ("a human") satisfy P(x) = 0 or 1 regardless of whether the statement is true for exactly one human, or for some general group of humans.
*Description classes are logically determined; any x such that "x is a man" necessarily satisfies "x is mortal." There is no mention of how this logic is achieved: Particularly there is no distinction between sequential and parallel processes.
e.g. Any "biological entity" and any "human" are described by "things which are mortal." "human" is a description of a specific biological entity. According to the theory we have,
If "x is a biological entity" =1 then "x is mortal" = 1
If "x is human" =  1, then "x is a biological entity" =  1.
If "x is human" = 1, then  "x is mortal" = 1,
The sequence would no doubt appeal to Aristotle, but it is important to realize that they could just as truly be stated in another order: The theory does not judge their order. In truth, these phrases are not independent of one another. We know life perishes, and that we are alive, so we know we are mortal. There is nothing special about humans that make them mortal, but the logical assignments of "1" cannot indicate this. "Because" is impossible.
*Math is preserved as always possibly true under his secondary interpretation, with arbitrary shorthand denoting the relations between actual things if they exist (or lack thereof), or lack of actual things to which hypotheses apply. (This is linguistically handy if you don't know whether a proposition is true or untrue, probably a large part of the motivation for modern day platonists) If we finally proclaim that there's no entity possible to which an f(x) applies, we state that as our truth: 'f(x)' is never true. To say f(A) for any definite A is thus to speak falsehood: this is speaking in the primary sense. We can speak primary and truly only about actual things. So you never have to admit you were speaking nonsense if you use the right grammar. The rule is that we were only describing things if indeed there were things like that.
*There is no strict need for acquantaince (which seems to mean a sort of directness of experience) in forming descriptions. This allows basically for us to describe any entity imaginable (describable), and we are never incohernt, simply wrong, false, if it turns out we can't directly experience anything that satisfies the description. If we do experience a thing, we now have the possibility of speaking truly about actual things, not only the domain of descriptions (pure structure, essentially, which can be true logically regardless of their truth when applied to any particular noun, or if there is actually such an object.
*Primary grammar states names as literal interpreations, and can be wrong as that insofar as they suppose a literal interpretation. Secondary grammar states names as properties of things. It's easy to get confused because there's no distinction between 1st and 3rd person; there's a social 2nd person at work in the background. Properties of things appear to people, observers. Second order statements necessarily reference the people making them, so his examples can be flushed out more fully to reveal more of the higher order picture:
There are both acquainted with a book written by a human. We have both read who the author is. We have heard of a king who knows the book, but not it's author, though he suspects an acquaintance.
Actually, I've never heard of the book in the essay, nor about the king, so the statement's false. Replacing the literal us with the literal Bertie and his intended audience makes it true; it's true when they say it to each other. But such statements can never be made false by more literally interpreting them, only by highlighting the difference in experiences between possible subjects, which would form a higher-order class in the theory, too vague for us to quantify over because we can only know one person's knowledge.  However we can always speak literally of particular subjects in the 1st and 2nd person, which is why the essay works. Indeed any shared reality can be spoken of truly, because we only reference our shared memory of these experiences. I'm not Bertie's intended audience, so I can't interpret his sentences literally; I simply don't know about the king and the book. When I say the above statement to you, whoever you are, I lie. It is the relative point of view that appears to change the proposition's truth based on who says it to who. This fact can't be formalized away; it is inherent in any meaning of communication.
It is the stipulation that names be interpreted literally in order to qualify for 'truth' that dominates the development of the theory. The theory simply re-interprets all phrases as their second order 'projection,' and determines whether the speech corresponds to anything in its knowledge bank. If not, the speaker is mistaken. If so, they will be right if their observations and inferences are valid, and wrong otherwise. This last point is pure Aristotle.
*Brief mention that 'relations' between nouns can be quantified as well as nouns. The logic is the same: Relations are entities proper, so there can either be an X such that 'a X b' is true, or no such R. This is for particular a and b. If we vary them as well, we see a three dimensional description, whose structure is completly indeterminate - we'd assume there exist x,y, and z such that 'x y z' because we have said true things (about actual things) with three phrases before.
*Final remark on the text: Russell's ending note is well heeded. Extending the theory has proved far more interesting than a simple denial; indeed, though I object to the character of the theory, I have no wish to proclaim it as "essentially" wrong. He 'chose' what the theory should do, and it does it. It also should do a lot of other things he'd find strange, but none that I interpret is inherent contradiction. It is a valid theory *if* it's stated that it preserves only literally intended statements. Otherwise, it is false.
Explorations and general impressions of the text:
I have tried to show briefly in above digressions that substantial fundamental changes can be made to the theory without changing a defining quality of it. I believe can say this thus: There is a class (in the supposed universe of all language) of statements whose truth does not change under the transformations of the theory : specifically, the class of statements intended to be taken literally. Modern parlance gives the term 'invariance' for the essential meanings of language of this class. Likewise, this feature of the theory can be seen to be invariant
We can probably choose a theory that preserves any clearly enough understood textual intention. e.g., we could make a theory that would preserve the eroticism of erotic writing, the comedy of comic writing, etc. It simply appears easier to make a theory that preserves statements we believe to be objectively true, rather than subjectvely apprehended. (I say this is appearance because I'm not sure we've fully understood wholly what is meant by 'literal interpretations,' regardless of my frequent use of that phrase; perhaps it is "actually" the case that eros and laughter are easier aspects of ourselves to understand.)
The importance of tihs point can't be over-emphasized - there is no way to tell simply by looking at a sentence whether the author means it literally or not. Since I am unfamiliar with what Russell takes as fact, I cannot distinguish between his fact and his fiction. If I may go one step further, I'd venture that the situation for Bertie was essentially the same -- unless he was personally acquainted with the king and the writer, then he takes this as fact from someone else, who communicated it to him. It is in this way that all of Bertie's 'true' statements fail to be true when interpreted literally - which is certainly not what he intended. To be literally true, his statements must include the fact that he heard the information secondhand, and trusts it to be fact, and furthermore. The correct statement for me is that I read an essay which bore the name "Bertrand Russell", who related a story about a King and a writer which he mentions as if it were fact, and I believe that he thought it was fact; I do not know if he story was fact. This is not merely more explicit, but actually literally true, whereas his account is lacking in this quality - by the theory, I am forced to conclude that Russell is either psychic or speaking falsehood. (Making a statement more explicit doesn't change its logic under the theory of literal propositions - 'I read' is just as true as 'I read it on July 28th', which is just as true as 'I read it on a web browser application on an electron/semi-conductor based computer on July 28th . I do not remember exactly how long it took to read it. I reread many sections many times over.' --- the logical algebra of such phrases is identical, because they are literally true.)
Note: The theories transformations actually change what I think of as their 'meaning.' We don't merely re-write the sentence with synonyms, but we alter its effective grammar. Without any artifically adhered-to theory, sentences are interpreted by each differently; we can say their effective grammar is the structure of the statement as apprehended by the listener/reader. Adhering to the theory would mean we re-interpret every statement we see, changing its grammar appropriately as prescribed by the theory.
I can't help but feel he'd find this unsatisfying. It means that, so long as we use this literal social interpretation, different "objects" can have the same name (hence "non-identity," A =/= A), such that indeed, this can be that and not be that. Despite Bertie's repeated claim that this leads to contradiction, the extension of his theory deals with it surprisingly easy: "There are two non-identical things x and y, such that I call x 'this' and y 'that', and you call x 'that' and y 'this." It is our belief in the non-identity of x and y which makes the contradiction appear  when we speak in our 'own languages' to one another, not bothering to translate. If we translate, we both know that "this -> that" and "that -> this" is the translation mapping that preserves the literal logos, though a third party without knowledge of the correct translations will perceive contradictions (and if he's a logician, likely become quite flustered).
Of course Russell didn't want his theory to be about beliefs about things, he wanted them to be about things themselves. The assumption there should be glaring by now: 'things have one reality arbitrary of how they are perceived, defined, described, and no account of observation is necessary to speak truly of objects themselves.'
This is where I essentially can never agree with him. A century and 10 can do wonders for metaphysical insight.
Grammar can't reveal a distinction between fiction and non-fiction, if there is enough truth in the fiction. Consider any story from your memory. Now suppose you told it with the names re-arranged (going to the 'wrong' people). Have you told a lie? Russell says yes. But I say you've said far more which is true than what is false (if the story is long or detailed), though how much differs on context.  There are fascinating practical instances of this difference; the modern archetype is a false accusation in court. These are cases in which there is no doubt of victimhood, but the transgressor is unknown. A false accusation story will truly state particular details . This is extremely
The other end is "true story" television series about crimes -  names are changed and faces obscured to 'protect the innocent'. Though Bert's theory says the whole thing references no-thing, by insisting that the language of the program must be of the form "There exist x, y, ... z such that ... [logical conjunction of many true propsitions about actual people], AND that x's names are {list of false names used in program}, AND that y's names are ... ", he would almost certainly agree with me that the story is essentially true.
In both the above cases, there's a problem if we simply say that there is such thing as an 'almost-truth' which can be transformed by a class of basic substitution-transformations into actual-truths. This: unless one assumes that one will someday discover all the true identities of the people in the program, one is forced to admit that it may not necessarily be possible to ever transform (via name substitutions) the statement into a true one.
You get the idea. In fact there is no topological differences between these two falsities, and yet the consequences are judged to be very different in polite society - one good, one bad: persecution of the innocent is wrong, we say. That is not a grammatical difference between the propositions, but should certainly weight in on how worried we are that the exact-truth was stated. In the former case, we see that Bert's mock-algorithm arrives at the 'right' conclusion - the person is lying about something very important, the identity of someone who will suffer consequences for a law they haven't broken. (Again, note my implicit acknowledgement of priors' factuality: How can you tell whether a sentence is intended to be first-order or second-order? A major problem for such theories. We both understand that these are hypothetical scenarios, but we are both fairly certain that they've actually been played out; they are true fiction, hypothetical reality.
We both know what courts are, about law. The nature of common shorthand must be acknowledged, though in common situations, we will simply take it as a given, which can lead to awkward conversations. It is like stating "Scott wrote Waverley" and then proceeding to use 'Scott' and 'the author' interchangably in a piece about the book. Statements we trust as true will often be false in their 'primary' sense;
We can see in the case of the false accusation why the theory can be thought to "work"... It rightly judges an important falsehood as importantly a falsehood.
But as a generalized theory of meaning, it is useless, simply judging all that which was not known prior to sentence to be either false or true only under higher-order interpretation. In the TV program case, it judges an unimportant falsehood as importantly a falsehood (according to my judgment! Switching names doesn't change the meaning of a story about people you don't know).
It is clear that the theory fails grossly in many forms of writing because an insistence that one name stand for only one object. Multi-layered meanings of names is one of the fundamental principles of poetry (in my opinion), so all poems are simply "false," in the theory; it says nothing about their true figurative meaning.
Haikus are an interesting case. The tradition is to make these essentially non-fictional, little portraits. Yet while the theory can simply say that perhaps a haiku is true, it conveys absolutely nothing about the more profound aspects of its subject that even little windows can show. Any literary interpretation is gramatically transformed into falsity unless it is filled to the brim with second-order caveats, ruining the essence of the interpretation: It means to say something true speculatively, not with any certainty. Art is often made without perfect clarity of intent; if some subtle connection is found by a viewer, the artist may even judge this 'correct' regardless of any feeling of explicit intention.
There are certainly ways for literary critiques to be truer and falser, but it is not due to the fact that they refer to fictional characters and events as if they were literal beings.
I just used a poetic bit of speech, in fact, and for a reason. I mean to speak vaguely because my meaning is vague; if you don't understand, I advise you to read a good collection of haiku. The theory has no transformations to make "profound aspects that little windows show" into a definite, literally embodiable phrase. Haikus are *like* windows in a way that I can't describe fully, because it involves my mind and the author's; it does no good to simply say that "Haikus are windows" is false. DUH!
It is in this way, by emphasizing that literal statements are the 'ultimately true,' which tends to grow a theory which keeps their meaning invariant under its allowed grammatical transformations.

Happy logic-ing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Axiom of Choice

The story goes like this:
Any choice could be made, whether or not we actually make it. Thus we can speak as if it had been made. There should be nothing surprising about statements that a desired order can be imposed if enough choices can be made. There is an assumption we can make that would make such a thing possible if affirmed (by...?). But that doesn't mean there is such a sequence of decisions made. It should also be unsurprising that an assumption like that would seem to allow orders higher than can be undone by relatively constrained manipulations - puttings together which we have conceived of as fundamentally constrained. This is, after all, the difference we picture between a human's ability to choose, specify determine, and that which is naturally, materially given. The story goes: Nature must obey Laws. Man makes his own Law.
There is a famous paradox that arises as a natural consequence of this assumed difference, named to honor S. Banach and A. Tarski. Pretend you are a number, who, like any upstanding member of society, chooses his friends wisely (one always has the power to choose one's destiny, am I right?). As a rational being, you wish the differences between you and your friends be only rational (that's only rational, right?), and you choose them accordingly. Let's complete our society of rational friend networks by supposing every member of society can choose their friends in this way. Then no matter who you run into, you're either friends with them for rational reasons, or you're not friends with them because the differences between the two of you cannot be resolved by rational means. (What could make more sense?)
When the Senate convenes, (each person represented by a friendly senator), they always find things don't measure up. Just how many of us are there? There are more than none; why do I keep coming up with 1+1+1+1... < 3 ? And before you suggest the obvious, there are too many senators to count!
But we designed it so perfectly... everything made sense.
The divide between the rational and the irrational has been drawn for millenia as straight and narrow. If we seek to verify if a given individual is rational or not, we must find a ratio of whole numbers that is identical to them. What could be simpler? If we try but find we can only get close, we must admit that they are not rational.
But how far do we look? How long do we look for patterns until we admit defeat and declare the sequence lost to chaos? Is it truly their rationality that we have sought to question, or the patience and understanding of those who have power of them? Who exactly has defined which ellipsis means "harmonious" and which means "discordant?" How does one trail off to suggest that all is in order...?
Choice is the last chapter in the Saga of the Transcendant Individual, written in blood, oil spills, and eutrophied lakewater. God has died and with Him, the heroic demideitic status of the king, now a Mr. (master) but with no Majesty. Listen to His story.
Now he is simply another man who makes his way in the world, choosing among options as best as can rationally be done. He chooses the things that are good for himself; everyone does, otherwise bad things happen to them.
This is the right way. How else can you teach people to make good decisions, other than to punish the wrong ones?
Choice defines right and wrong. You either choose the good or choose he bad; you're good if you choose the good, bad if you choose the bad.
If something bad happens to someone, it must have been because they made a wrong choice somewhere along the way. I always make the right choices, of course; I'm just rational like that. I only do what I choose; therefore I can have no responsibility for what I didn't wholly choose. We are all presented choices in the world, and forced to choose among them. If some other man made a choice which hurt someone, who am I to stop him? Rather than denying his freedom, I should only exercise mine, to take advantage of the opportunity he has created. I didn't make America this way, I just take advantage of it and invest in its security and stability.
And if someone makes a choice based on a lie and gets burned... hey, buyer beware, right?
What do you want out of a relationship? Choose the one that best suits you, you transcendant chooser, you!
You see, it's all out of our hands. Someone else is making the big decisions, I just cope with them the best I can. And if I make the right choices, things go well. You just gotta be smart, and you can win, buddy!
We can fix the evils of the world with our choices, too! All there is to it is making different decisions. Produers produce, freighters freight, sellers sell, and choosers choose! We have complete freedom in every aspect of our lives, becase every aspect of our lives is part of the consumer network, which is governed wholly by rational choices.
If corporations hurt the land and dishonor our spirits, we should simply not buy their products. You may have to choose a job with more pay (perhaps a corporate job, I hear there's just tons of money in that), but that's your decision. It's your life, right? So you choose how righteous you want to be. And if I choose decadence over the safety of my neighbours, well, I suppose they have the right to move somewhere else, don't they?
But I must be able to choose which countries I do business in, too! We will move here and employ your people, and if they choose to move off the land instead, well that's their right! But spare me your petty pleas about "forcing you off your land," when you could have chosen to develop it yourself. Why didn't you just choose the right lawyers, who choose to say the right things, find the right loopholes?
There's big money in this, we're turning the whole place into beautiful houses, so people can choose to live here! We've chosen the most economic plan, obviously: we've decided to make the houses identical. But who cares, when you can choose which Ikea products to place in it, and which television channels to tune into! You even get to choose the color of your tooth brush! We've got blue, green, red... oh wait, we're out of red.
You can save the environment! Don't like oil? Just choose a bike! If you need to take 2 hours to get to and from your job, hey, that's your choice! (Otherwise, shut up and drive like the rest of us rational folks... Why should we be penalized for your decision? God, stop acting so stuck up and entitled, like you're saving the goddamn planet).
Don't like plastic? Choose to not use hygiene products, or electronics, or conventionally packaged food! [Actually I'm not sure you can live in a city and not use plastic.. I'm fairly certain it's impossible]
 Don't like factory farms? Just choose organic and free range. (Don't choose vegan, those people are irrational). Never mind that it's more expensive... after all, it's the farmer's choice to honor their land instead of overloading it with nutrients and disinfectants to make up for rapacious technique! We don't choose the economy, but we choose our place in it!
And after all this, you can look down your nose because you've chosen it, and they haven't! You were the stronger, you overcame your selfish desires, and hasn't that been fulfilling? Yes, they should all be grateful that you're saving their planet.
Don't like your job? Choose another! Don't have the skills? Choose education! Still dont' have the experiecne? Choose working your way up the ladder. Don't like your career? Choose another one! Don't like any occupation? Choose, um... liking an occupation!
Don't like the entertainment culture? Just choose a different channel! Don't like any of them? Just choose something else to entertain you. Can't escape the constant media, which is slowly bringing you to a state of psychosis? Choose to ignore it! Or choose to be a hermit, or suicide! Just leave me the fuck alone, I've been nothing but helpful!
Bored? Choose entertainment!
Unhappy, disrespected, feeling like the world's against you, never really listens? Hey, just choose happiness! It only takes two muscles to smile! Remember, you choose your reality, don't you? You're rational, right? Happiness makes sense, because it feels good! Always choose what feels good! Always choose what feels good!
You can always make more money if you're feeling down about consuming too much. You might need to produce a bit more for the guys upstairs, but once you can afford that vacation, it'll all be worth it, right?
Don't like the world? Just choose to ignore it! The obvious solution!
No wonder our people are so stuck up their own ass. They've got nowhere else to go.
When I exaggerate the story a little bit, in order to tease out the creaks in its hinges, you can hopefully see that it lines up perfectly with the gist of popular pseudo-spiritual notions which become the stuff of 12 step devotional algorithms. It's thus perhaps not too surprising that, like modern industrial-capitalist apologist narratives, there is never explication of such principles as "live in the moment" beyond the sentence itself. They appear like slogans in shop windows, "WORK MAKES YOU FREE," iconic and authoritative (even if written in cursive over a backdrop of flower petals and heart icons). 
It almost seems necessary then that young people following such advice tend around a bend into solipsism, which perhaps explain why there's so much doubt among the comfortable that many people actually do live a troubled existence. Their "most people"s inevitably are like them: horny yet timid, prying yet unquestioning, basically bored yet perpetually comfortable (despite the occasional breakup! "Aww girl you're the beautifullest, and he was just a lying meanie! Come, let us buy and drink!").
If our people are to stand up, and not just tweet "standing" emojis from the couch, the stability of those identities must be abolished; they must be capsized.
That's not a moral judgment, but a mechanical one. The choice is ours, of course.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Defeat

I locked eyes with the great behemoth, now looming as if over even the darkness itself. Great orange eyes full of contempt for my puny form . The flame of a thousand iron engines lashing  at my cheeks, I allowed a smirk to cross my lips.
"I know how you win, every time. You won't get me like them."
"Oh? And how is that."
"Reverse medusa. You scare them so bad they look away... and then you've got them right where you want them, haven't you?"
"Well, look at Mr. Theoretical over here." I sensed some shift in the shadows, winding back, back into the infinite gloom.
"I'm not scared of you."
And I stared at the monster, unmoving, unflinching. And he stared at me, offering no relief from the eyes of fire. "Don't bother looking for your friends. You have none here. They work for me, here."
My head grew light, soft now in the mounting heat, my stance melting. "That's... not... true... Nobody's... on... your... side... you monster!"
"No? Then why are they stoking these flames...?"
And I looked at the pile of coal upon which the serpent sat, and saw billions with shovels, in two lines, back and forth, piling load after load of coal into the gaping mouth of the monster.
"Don't look now, buddy, but what's that in your hands...?"
I tried... I promise, I tried to keep the stare... I couldn't, that heat, those eyes, accusing and knowing my impotency. I looked down and saw my own sooty hands, wielding a shovel. I held it over my head threateningly, and two thousand hands pulled it back down to the ground.
"Now get back in line, bitch."
I frowned defiantly, my gaze at the ground. "You haven't won, you monster! I'll be back!"
A sly and condescending smile crept into those enormous, pointed teeth. "Now thaaaat's what I like to see!"

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Foundations for a General Theory of System Mechanics

Wrote a thing. I meant to summarize the principles, but it ended up 45 pages.

Enjoy and comment here for clarification; alternatively e-mail me.

Friday, July 3, 2015

On Engines

It's all a-headed for naught, I hear. The singularity was a metastability. Now that the big cat's out the bag, the probability of it returning vanishes.  They thought he was a goner. The cosmic Carnot engine's efficiency has a non-positive derivative everywhere. At least globally, I hear.
Then there's the dark stuff. You wouldn't notice it, of course. But it's here. Well maybe not *here* here, but somewhere within a parsec or so.
You know. The distance traced out by (hence the par) a second's turn at a radius of a lightyear.
"Second's turn of what"..? Of like, a rod that's a lightyear long. No I haven't got one. Just picture it. Well then, pretend you can picture it.
No, no, no, it's not moving at any speed! A 'second' is a distance! An angle, really. Comes from the old sexigesimal systems that we use in clocks and planetmaps. Its a way of using numbers that fit into each other well. Babylon, I hear, but now I really shouldn't...
I was talking about death. One way or another, all the work that can be done will be done. The whole thing's relaxing down nice and easy as sure as I breathe. It all rides the time arrow right down to dispersal. It all just becomes too heavy to hold itself up anymore. Whole kit-n-caboodle. All that curvature just starts wrapping everything up.
Now there's the mystery of mysteries. The direction of time.
Ah, are you feeling all right, then? You look, hmm...
I haven't drawn any points. There are no points. What point? What do you mean, "what's the point"?
Existence! Existence is not a point! And it certainly doesn't have them. Well if does, we can't touch them. Subquantum and whatnot. Supernatural.
Well, you can always try Taoism on for size. It's a serene perspective.
Maybe all that dark stuff just cycles out from the light stuff, and all our unuseable energy becomes useable dark energy. And then there's a dark universe for a cycle, which then concentrates matter back here..
I don't know. You don't know. Sure, why not?
Ah, POINT! I see. The point is, who cares? We already knew we were gonna die our little deaths anyway! Oh, now I've upset you. I'm sorry. Yes, we're good people and we don't deserve to die. That's true.
No, no, no, you see the point is not that the cosmic engine is winding DOWN, it's that its WINDING down! If what I hear is so, then all we know and love is in... is *from* the relaxation of higher potential to lower.
But it's in the relaxations
*But it's in the relaxations*
Where all the neat stuff happens!
Look around you now, at this forest! All this neat stuff. Plants grow and are digested, give medicine, recycle back into the Earth, a positive feedback loop of fertility and health! This is the heat death, us, this! The perpetual winding of a spring which releases in all directions as bursts of color! A fire that does not go out...! Wouldn't it be much more dull if the universe were to simply fall into its death as quickly as one's feet to the ground?
They used to think this was a mystery... How could meaning arise from what would ultimately be nothing...? But any geometer would tell you that all the volume is in the "middle," not on the edges.
Of course, the old linear engineering techniques used to ignore it... 'When perturbed, the system will exhibit a restoring force proportional to the perturbation's effect, and as time goes on, it will eventually return back to normal.'
Relaxations were to be achieved as quickly as possible, the perturbations stifled, their sources identified and neutralized. Linearly extrapolating the technique indicates that the universe's history is not substantial to its final outcome... But of course lines can't go that far without curving, bending, breaking!
And the ol' chemists' equations, so neatly displaying the mad Brownian dash of molecules as tidy, straight arrows of eventual equilibrium. Time was, folks thought this was the 'normal' version of reality, and all else was 'instability.' And all kinds of other dirty words: Chaos, disorder, unpredictability, uncontrollability, irrationality, nonsense, noise. They saw it as an encroachment upon what was theirs, the life that they'd chosen. Some unbidden, malicious force that was outside of all human life, trying to get in and disorganize it... Their identities were against it: stable in the face of all odds.
But ya see, they'd defined themselves as 'good' on the basis of their control, which was only over the boring systems they'd managed to turn into machines. After modest success, they began to think of everything as a machine that could be controlled. They'd built their lives around the promise of devices designed to be stable, in the hopes that it would mean their lives, their communities, their choices would remain stable, anchored by iron and steam.
Now let me tell you, that like this, growth did not just occur.. It had to be won at length, working against the forces of security and management just to sprout a single leaf above the ground. Battles were fought on all imaginable fronts. Growers were exhausted, and managers, at least, went to sleep feeling that they had managed.
But there were still gross instabilities. Having fought this hard to keep springs wound, the clock-controllers would surely have felt a little bit silly giving up. So again and again and again they put on their grave faces and admitted that more work needed to be done before 100% stability was achieved. And the wealthful folks who mattered felt a pang of sympathy and worry, touched by the knowledge that men worked so hard to secure their achievements over the world.
In all this, "Man," (which was the way of referring to human organization -- yeah, I now, right? Those were the times, though) yes, "Man" was the worst actor. He was always getting into trouble, having too much sex, drinking too much, stealing and killing other Mans, trading goods illegally, and all that insidiously unstable stuff.
And the High Men, well, they had a dilemma. On one hand, these instabilities probably had something to do with the appalling poverty in which their workers lived. On the other hand, the upward current of aspiration and necessity that the poverty provided drove the engines of petty industry reliably and efficiently.
No, their solution wasn't to look elsewhere in the hope of goodness, but rather drive their engines harder in efforts to control Man himself. If they could force him to be stable, everything would fall into place. But it was not those who sought control for themselves who had conceived of such schemes. Rather, the thoughts grew up darkly from the minds of the learned men of Europa and America. Those who believed themselves concerned with the good of their people, you see, their intent was not malicious.... No, that would be difficult to say... The towns were divided then, between those who had, and those who had not. Those who had, in the darker corners of their minds, found it satisfying to pretend at society building. They were as children playing, with the same earnesty and focus. They considered the problem of the inherent nonstability of organic form very seriously. I suppose I must mention that they had all grown up taught that humans were essentially bad, left to themselves. Great energy had been invested into this train of thought.
But that's a long story. The playing-men wondered: How to stop man from being bad?
The obvious choice is to mechanize Man. The first consideration is labor: His position in the factory was to be replaced by machine. Much more reliable that way. The second consideration was selling the stuff made in the factory -- Mans should make the right choices, right? The third consideration is war: Conquering machines are to be made robotic when necessary, and soldiers are preferably as machine-like as possible. Plus, winked the controllers, it'd make war so much more humane -- machines destroying machines, that's all! Made in factories made by machines! And everything is linked up to the father-brain, which makes perfect decisions based on superior reasoning capabilities! Perfectly raional war. Even more reasonable than man himself. Wars that fight themselves! Maybe we should make the politicians machines, joke the scientist, laughing with a full room of good-natured reasonable people.
If you haven't noticed by now, Man had put himself in a bit of a corner. He'd long vanquished his own father, of course, who no longer had control over him. But now, what was he to do with such an efficient society, which could be started and stopped with a button? What to do with the perfect engine? He couldn't do anything but control it, of course, run it. So he kept it the same for as long as he could. And he made sure to oil it where it got sticky, clean off the oil stains when it got dirty, replace parts eroded by cleaning fluid.
Quite stable in theory. Except machines always end up breaking down. It's a little bit of a problem to try to fix that by making machines to repair the broken down machines, because they also break down. Meanwhile, Man started to forget what it was that the machines were actually doing... He didn't need to worry about it, wasn't that the point?
The body was the final enemy of Man, the engine's ultimate saboteur. He could control the skies and set fire to the world, but he couldn't stop his body from its strange and disturbing yearnings and motions. To abolish it would suit his society perfectly.
It's all true, I am sure you have heard some of it before...
These people, who were they? I have tried to imagine myself as one of them. They were scared of things they couldn't predict, because they couldn't be sure of what would happen. The moment a corner of their empire began to crumble, they screamed that the sky was falling in on them, and the positive feedback echo chamber of ecopolitical insulation drove them wild in their caves. They thought of the whole world as we think of a dark forest on a winter night. In their tiny little corner of it, they had worked to establish a tidy little bit of unchange. A rock on which they could perch when the floods came -- in must always be there in case the time arose!
But the time didn't arise, and their ordered little kingdoms grew stale and as time went by patches, new parts, a nail here, a plank there, also grew. In old age, they grew too weary to maintain these kingdom engines, hoping only that their children would have the sense to take the steersman's throne. A fleeting wish to create a machine that created order, to find the nearly forgotten but sorely missed father's image looking over again amiably... A desire to father a father.
When angels did not appear in machine form, their children did take the throne, in their exuberant and imperfect ways. Sometimes they loved their parents, sometimes they hated them. But they always kept the machines.
With the passage of generations, and machines themselves the stuff of nostalgic stability-fantasy, honestly folks were done in. They had finally completed what those silly old superstitious farmers of old had started, severed the link of their identity to that wild outside world: Nature. The World. Their picture of it had grown so dark and cold that they now enjoyed the thought of remaining separate from it; gentle insects stirred up thoughts just as unpleasant as the cruel ones did.
But now something strange had happened. With no connection to their very breathe, people had lost control of their own actions. They acted on impulses, whims, passing desires, to seek some connection they felt had somehow gone missing. They jacked themselves into the machines, as their grandparents had imagined for them, hoping a direct connection in cyberspace would bring release. Social life had become, with the machines, a buzz of disconnected noises, indistinct sentences misheard, machine fan whirs and solid state storage clicks. Unreadably vague. Fast-paced, hard to make sense of, yet ever-present, overpowering at times, always inexorably flowing. And then cyberspace murderers arose, and thieves, and all those unstable forces of Man that had so long threatened the stability of the townspeople. The machine men tried to pin it down, of course, they tried to watch every bit of it all the time. But there were so few of them, and so much cyberspace to stabilize and their daddy-brain machine was still incomplete. The old men of the machines started to get the feeling that something was crumbling beneath their feet, as if the rising tide of discontent was sand slipping through their fingers.

If you ask me, of course, they were scared of chaos because they didn't know it... Folks are always so untrusting. Worst thing is, that's a good strategy if you want to live... Was then, is now. But let me tell you that our peoples, we have a mistrust which is an illness among us. It claims young lives each day, still. Our people are travelers by nature, who have always been at odds with those who stay put. They are suspicious of us. And we of them; some of them perhaps still seek the machine-stability...
I tell you, they did not know chaos because they did not look at it. Our people live among it, we are not strangers. But they did not try to know it. Oh, there were a few who sought to contain it in letters and equations in the same way that they had controlled the steam engine and the split atom engine. They sought engines that ran on pure chaos.
Don't you see the error? THIS is the engine that runs on chaos, all around us! Chaos is just a scared person's word for the world's mysteries. Because there will always be mysteries, the word always seems to mean something. Who can tell me the difference between randomness and magic?
"Then what happened, uncle? The GreatWar?"
Well, yes, in time. But it was really much more than just the War. In seeking the perfect stability, the would be controllers had been incredibly stupid but too stuck up to realize it. Putting themselves at the center of the universe, they ignored the animals and plants of the world. The smoke from their machines made the world hot, and they had no way to cool it down. Like those old steam engines, the air of the world had became powerful with the fury of storms. The men did not heed these warnings.
The weather everywhere is different now. Before Man, plants like these didn't grow here! And all the animals were forced to migrate, simply because they were not considered important. The World cried but Man protested: "I don't care." But it didn't matter if He cared; He wrought havoc on his own plans of control.
Yes, you know, and I know, that the biofilm is our sustenance. Like I say, it was a strange time. The masters convinced those who would listen that they could all be the centers of universes, and this idea was so seductive that others also forsook their sustenance. This was a bald-faced lie, of course... Or maybe they actually believed it?
Anyway, they were all killing off the plants and animals of the world in their vanity and confusion, killing off the very land which birthed them. Wounds appeared in the ancient life systems; The biofilm simply couldn't support its infection anymore, and it succumbed to degenerative illness. Even cyberspace, that hopeful matrix of stability mechanics, rose to engulf the old men, their old hidden cameras turned back on them, exposing the completeness of their nudity. Everyone saw now that the masters were not in control. They had tried for so long to believe it, but then the world snapped. They lusted after the blood of those who had betrayed them. Panicking, the old men swallowed up cyberspace and for a second time, engulfed one another's empires in atomic flame.
Not too many bombs fell before the planes stopped flying. Their controllers were all dead, now. The machines had no fuel, and they decayed. Even the memory of fuel itself began to evaporate. All those engines, with no engineers, finally still, finally stable. Quiet.
Women and men and children grew frantic when their harvests failed year after year, or were to meager, and they ran to and fro, trying to get whatever they could however they had to. But with little cropland left, the children's bellies ate themselves instead, and bodies grew too weak to protest. Men tried to enslave the world, they told the slaves it was for their own sake, but the masters were feeble minded and decadent. The slaves revolted each time. Of course, they killed one another more than they killed their old masters. There was not much for anybody, you see, and their seeds would not germinate in the new soil. Fish did not come to lures. Bison did not roam the plains.
In the dark period, all people lived like the scavengers who now follow our people. Kings rose, but they did not have much; mainly they killed and sought to follow the errors of the old masters. The memory had not faded, but had merely twisted. Now the old men were gods to the new men. But that dream's ship had sailed and sunk. The men tried to stabilize a kingdom. And it failed. And they tried again. But there was not enough surplus to make the people feel safe in the new towns. They wandered off into deserts which used to be forests.
And the rest... well, the rest is history! Slowly we found the ways of the desert; over the centuries from our ancestors' time, new forests grew. Here we are now. And I tell you as many years have passed as there are humans who travel as our people, young one: Six sixties.

Don't believe me? But no, no, you're much too old for scary stories. But too young to see the old cities, which still stand, child! Time will prove my words to you. When I see you walk upon the head of the Old Woman, I will know you are ready. But for now the mountain must wait -- and so must you, beloved.
You will find all the old recordings in their towns, too. There are men there in places called libraries, who yet preserve memories and write about the old ways. Our people have traded with them for almost a century; they are wise, but foolish as well.
Why I tell you this now, is because you must know. Many young women and men have heard the ancient call to ancient ways... The strange, seductive, separated ways of the machine men. They have lost themselves, left our people, searching the planet for engines of old, forsaking the Grand Engine for one whose grandeur does not make a dwarf of a man's. This I tell you has been our greatest mistake: To underestimate the past's grip on us.
So now I tell you these things. But I only tell you that you may decide for yourself, when the time comes. To know our people and our ways, you must know this dark past. And then it is your decision: To move with us, or cast our family once more into the half-light, to go back and stay put.

Look around you now. Does this forest look like a machine with buttons? Who is doing the controlling? The seed finds it way to the ground through the bird, grows into a tree which the beetle eats, which the bird pecks. Who is in control of our society? We are, you and me, right here. We are society. And all of our loved ones, the near ones and the far ones. And the thieves, who sometimes come in the night, they too are in control of us. But our goods control their action as well: If you set a trap, you might just catch a thief. It's all part of the unwinding. Our people do not know war. We can not; we make no claims to land except to pass over it. This is the rock of our people, but you see that it is precisely no rock.
Of course we have machines once more. Why, you ask, after all the trouble? But there is no danger in a box of bolts! Danger is always in here. It is the hard metallic promises that corrupt minds, not mere cold metal itself! Machines are just clever ways to get things done. (Again and again and again). But is the things which get done that make all the difference!
Do not fear mechanical knowledge; do not abolish this aspect of ourselves.
It is the thought that machines can only be controlled by us, the ignorance of machine's power of Man. There is the danger.
No, our people do not think of such control. Yet we go in power with one another, steering somehow a course through the lands.
I still wonder about those old folks. How scared they were, the cost of hiding it. They were scared of The Uncontrolled, but they were far more scared of appearing scared to their people; they were scared of looking like they weren't in control.
I don't think they were quite like us. The old stories are so strange, so filled with cruelty. They thought it right to hate one another, yes, their own people! Silly, if you ask me. Bad strategy. That is the one part which I've never understood, never been able to imagine of myself. The peoples of the world bicker and disagree, but they do not hate, as they did then.
I guess we can't, anymore. All people have too much to lose now.
YAAAWWWN. Oh, young one. Your uncle has seen the sun set too long ago.
But I've been terrible, haven't I! You came to me to hear of great mysteries, not to hear what is known!
Hmm, well now, that's true. It is indeed a great mystery how those with such knowledge could forget about food. Perhaps you can ponder that, young one, and when you figure it right, you can tell me!
Bid your father due patience in the hunt tomorrow; I rise early for the lake. The fish are moving through the streams strongly enough to pull you along with them! Tomorrow we will have a feast of fish!