Against Social Policy

Venture capital available for startups is in the total of billions of dollars. Yet the average startup fails, delivering little to no profit for investors. The reason such a strategy pays off is because of the fat tail; payoff can be extraordinary. Such a startup is the exception, but its exceptional profit more than makes up for the loss represented in the failures.

The same reasoning operates in the reverse when considering potential costs. Social policy initiatives imposed by government can have only limited returns but unlimited costs. Human nature cannot be much changed, and for the most part human organizations have already converged on local maxima. Additional gains are difficult and small, while the restructuring poses the risk of totally upsetting the local order due to some unforeseen problem which the social arrangement had converged on to solve.

We are overly focused on what can be quantified, to the point that our study of society is constrained by a methodological quantificationism: if it can’t be measured with the usual tools of statistical analysis, it must be unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Initially these tools were developed merely to help measure the world around us, but then the causality was reversed and sold as snake oil to democratic entrepreneurs. GDP is most useful as a measure when society is not being reorganized to boost GDP. The same goes for every tool in the economist’s and sociologist’s backpocket. Humans desperately want the world around them to be ordered and sensible, to the point that when an order does not immediately make itself legible to our understanding, we attempt to displace the organic order with an order more familiar to our understanding. Instead of sitting back and accepting that not all structural patterns will be immediately obvious to us, the anxiety provoked by order not easily reduced to our limited means of sense leads us to destroy the order.

Even if only one in a hundred social policies will end in utter disaster, that is sufficient to oppose social policies per se. The average social policy will not end in disaster; indeed, being charitable, the average social policy under competent management [though that certainly is not the case for our own “elite”] might bring positive social gains.

The problem is that it doesn’t make sense to expose oneself to unlimited risk for limited gains. Known and measurable costs should always be preferred to unknown and immeasurable costs. Human lives are a small price to pay for continuing to use a system that has proven it is resilient to natural forces.

Neoreaction is Always to Your Right

“No enemies to the right” is a rule among rightists for a simple reason. As soon as “too conservative” becomes a legitimate objection that must be given serious consideration, leftist values immediately manifest themselves. It is only from a leftist perspective that something could ever appear “too conservative” in the first place. Neoreaction embraces the “no enemies to the right” dictum in order to create a space for the development and analysis of conservative thought from a singularly rightist perspective. Leftist values have nothing to add to the discussion. This leads to the corollary “no friends to the left,” meaning that “too liberal” is itself always a legitimate objection that must be given serious consideration. To be less than totally and absolutely right is to be less than optimal; of course one approaches rightism per se asymptotically, thus there is the incentive to develop more conservative analysis.

Why right? Because society should be arranged so as to produce the best. Leftism, which allies the rulers with the least against the middle, leads to the endless reproduction of the least in society while penalizing the reproduction of the best and subsumes the middle into the least. If this occurs during a period of unparalleled cultural acceleration, then an intense selection event triggered by Gnon shall occur. Gene-culture co-evolution entails that genes cannot get too far past culture, and culture cannot get too far past genes, without being snapped back to equilibrium. Culture is man’s environment, and a rapidly changing environment leaves many unfit. Rightists, contrary to the caricature by leftists, are not seeking only destruction; they only see that society is more expensive than can be realized by those at the bottom, who are truly beneficiaries of the best more than the best are ever benefited by the least.

The conscious and ceaseless striving towards the right is the animating principle of neoreaction. This leads to a number of conclusions.

First, neoreaction is not a movement. It cannot be identified with any individual person or group. It is a culture, with its own bywords and norms which are intended to exclude anyone who might shrink from the task of striving rightward. Individuals, groups, and organizations may persist within neoreaction, but neoreaction is always an idea beyond capture of any person, doctrine, or magisterium.

Second, neoreaction is not new. It is involved in a task which any interested in the purpose of civilization and its operation naturally find themselves pursuing. It might at this moment espouse a novel synthesis of old beliefs with new words and methods, but there have been others in the world that concerned themselves with tending towards the right.

Third, neoreaction is always to your right. It does not exist for any right-oriented group’s purpose. Rather, those on the right exist for it. Neoreaction is not even for so-called neoreactionaries. You are allowed to enter its salons and discuss ideas with other like-minded and intellectually virtuous individuals, but this not for your own purposes but the purpose of neoreaction. Neoreaction is memetically sovereign; it picks and chooses what it likes from you, and not you from it.

Fourth, neoreaction cannot ally itself with anyone, but you can ally yourself with neoreaction. It cannot be subordinated, but as it is the manifestation of an organic, rightward telos, whatever would subordinate it misunderstands neoreaction and thus fails. You simply cannot get to the right of neoreaction, because neoreaction already occupies the extreme limit of rightward thought. Or at least that is the intent, and if it has not yet gone as far as it can, it will find its way there.

Fifth, neoreaction doesn’t care what you think, whether you agree or disagree with it. Neoreaction is not about you, you may only be about neoreaction. If you cannot tolerate this asymmetry, it’s just not for you.

Neoreaction is the incarnation of no enemies to the right. This rule does not entail there can be no valid objections against a position which is to your right, only that “it is too far to the right/not far enough to the left” is always an invalid objection. The ideal of an objection to a position that happens to be to the right should be in order to improve upon it, either to produce an argument superior to the past formulation you are objecting to, or to go even further right than the previous doctrine had achieved. Likewise, to be to the left counts against a position, but it must still be soundly refuted according to the way it fails to be a tenable idea of society.

Finally, who is and who is not neoreactionary is not a matter of public knowledge or debate. Anyone can claim it, but true NRx knows itself. The boundaries are occult, and if you can perceive them, it is only because you are already inside. If for whatever reason you want to make yourself useful to neoreaction, some advice: read, write, discuss, question everything, efface yourself. If you’re meant for neoreaction, you’ll find yourself within it whether you want to be or not.

Social Justice and Slave Morality

All morality is self-serving. This isn’t intuitive or apparent, but given psychological egoism, whatever someone does, whatever they promote, they promote because they find it to somehow serve a value or intention of their own. From the perspective which evaluates an individual to always be acting on the basis of individual survival, this will be overlooked, but per game theoretic evaluations of the transmission of genes, there is a favoring of limited altruism, especially one which gives precedence to the genes invested in family members. So it might be better to say that morality arises in order to be gene-serving.

This is not to say all moralities serve this equally well, but given the influence of incentives on the subconscious and its desire for power, there will tend to be a convergence on moralities respecting this fundamental element of genetic priority. After all, were a morality meme to not be helpful even locally in the transmission of genes of those who hold that belief, it would quickly be replaced. Memeplexes which transmit mostly horizontally, from unrelated individual to unrelated individual, should be suspected of overvaluing the present, since it requires a just valuing of the future relative to the present to assist in the development of conditions that lead to the vertical transmission of a genes.

For this reason, neoreaction disbelieves in social justice much like Voltaire disbelieves in God. To the average person who even recognizes they hold some belief about social justice [though of these, vanishingly few are actually familiar with the theory and literature, as I will show], the concept of explicitly disbelieving in social justice is an inexpressible horror, so far removed from possibility that it can only be explained by serious moral or intellectual defect, and likely both. The idea that, say, a neoreactionary might both understand the liberal tradition in which social justice was developed and reject it is preposterous, simply unbelievable. If one wishes to be convinced of the priority of social justice, well, they only need educate themselves, much like anyone who will be convinced of the Christian God and His irresistible grace, assuming they are of the elect rather than the damned, need only read the Bible.

And the Saints do persevere, for otherwise they were never really a social justice advocate. It was remarked on Twitter, in response to this recently written article [hold your nose and plow through it, we’re going to make use of this turgid choir preaching], that an understanding of neoreaction cannot be gained without giving up your prog soul. A faith in social justice and the recognition of the demands laid on humanity by Gnon are mutually exclusive; as soon as you see Gnon, you cannot go back.

Social justice advocacy, more often than not, is promoted from a place of ignorance. Much like the lampooned fundamentalist Christian with a poor knowledge of Scripture, these social justice fundamentalists are equally ignorant of the intellectual tradition which esteemed social justice as the first among all values. Consider this passage from the article above:

A focus of unwavering belief is meritocracy: if you’re successful, then you deserve it because you’re superior. If you’re superior—and Redpillers are prone to deem themselves so—then you deserve to be successful. The presence of one without the other, such as success without merit or merit without success (especially in regards to oneself), is evidence of some kind of social-justice trickery.

Ignoring the blatantly uncharitable framing of views actually espoused by the loosely grouped-together “Redpillers,” the writer reveals his ignorance of the very tradition that he speaks from. The idea that merit and success, which I am assuming is defined as “obtaining a decent standard of living,” should be separated is exactly the point of social justice. These “Redpillers” as they are referred to, who maintain there is a concerted set of conspiracies to produce a world where you can be guaranteed success regardless of merit, a kind of world where each gives according to his ability and each receives according to his needs, is one of the characteristic marks of the liberal tradition going back to the Enlightenment. The charge against social justice, that it awards status and prestige to the undeserving, is only to describe the idea of social justice itself.

Though there has been much kerfuffle over cultural Marxism, this really only obfuscates a structural tendency of the liberal tradition itself. To see this, we can consult the pre-eminent social justice warrior himself, the academic “philosopher” John Rawls. Before spending too much time mired in the exotic technicalities of Continental philosophy, anyone who concerns himself with social justice should consult the blueprints as detailed in A Theory of Justice.

A set of principles is required for choosing among the various social arrangements which determine this division of advantages and for underwriting an agreement on the proper distributive shares. These principles are the principles of social justice: they provide a way of assigning rights and duties in the basic institutions of society and they define the appropriate distribution of the benefits and burdens of social cooperation.[1]

A feature of social justice as described by Rawls is specifically the institutional separation of merit and success. From the perspective of a liberal such as Rawls, this theoretic separation is not worth greatly emphasizing, as innate, genetic influences on the success of an individual are specifically discounted as having any great role in the explanation of the observed success of individuals. The success of individuals has mostly to do with their initial starting position in life, rather than any individual merit.

The basic structure is the primary subject of justice because its effects are so profound and present from the start. The intuitive notion here is that this structure contains various social positions and that men born into different positions have different expectations of life determined, in part, by the political system as well as by economic and social circumstances. In this way the institutions of society favor certain starting places over others. These are especially deep inequalities. … It is these inequalities, presumably inevitable in the basic structure of any society, to which the principles of social justice must in the first instance apply.[2]

Notice that success is considered to occur only rarely due to merit. Rather, success is determined by the “basic structure” of society, which are its institutions and the chosen means for according the distribution of wealth, opportunity, and prestige. Only later does Rawls appear to admit of the possibility of genetic, rather than merely institutional, determinants of success, describing as an element of his theory of justice as fairness that his is “a conception of justice that nullifies the accidents of natural endowment.”[3] From each according to his ability, and each according to his needs. Natural endowment, or “good genes,” are specifically discounted as a reason deserving of success. Merit and success are explicitly singled out for separation; merit is, according to social justice, not a reason for success, and a lack of merit is not a reason for a lack of success. So when “Redpillers” point to obvious cases of success without merit being evidence of “social-justice trickery,” that is because social justice is explicitly described as intending to achieve this affect.

Social justice can be aptly described as a slave morality.[4] It is a moral system designed by slaves to benefit themselves, putting restraints on powerful elites so that they will not and cannot exploit their inferiors. Social justice is self-serving, especially for the mass of the public that could not afford their success without having their lack of merit be overlooked. This is a slave morality in distinction from a theory of justice as equality, ironically, because this conception of justice maintains that so much as some are dissimilar, they ought be treated differently, and only so much as some are similar they ought be treated equally. It is slaves who would have the interest to be treated a certain way not according to any relative merit of theirs, whereas an elite has no reason to promote such a morality except for short term gains in a democracy that rewards pandering to slaves. This is especially prescient given the most fierce advocates of social justice are, coincidentally, also the most marginal, psychologically ill, and generally unmeritorious who yet demand the respect afforded to noble virtue.

The development of this slave morality, and especially its promotion through mainstream channels of opinion formation, is the inevitable result of society’s gradual democratization. It is the terminal stage of democracy, when “those who are equal in any respect […] claim to be absolutely equal.”[5] Everyone wants to believe they are special, everyone wants to have success and more importantly believe they deserve their success. This is taken as the natural state of things, and as such any deviation from this implies usurpation and subversion, laying the groundwork for the most apparently oligarchic class to be increasingly marginalized, enslaved, and finally liquidated as standing in the way of the democratic eschaton [“You can find Redpiller arguments in any sufficiently young, sufficiently white, sufficiently male internet company”].  Those who believe in social justice do not merely propose some values for arranging society, but depend essentially upon a positive and potentially empirically falsifiable hypothesis, which is that the laws of nature observed in the animal kingdom can be entirely thrown off by man’s reason; it is the myth of Prometheus, that the gods might ultimately be set outside the determination of man’s fate.

 

[1] Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. p. 4

[2] Ibid. p. 7

[3] Ibid. p. 15

[4] It is worth noting that this hardly entails an advocacy of Nietzsche’s ostensible master morality.

[5] Aristotle. Politics, Book V.

Religion, Coteleology, and the Gnonnic Eschaton, Part 3

It is worth remembering to oneself from time to time that foolishness really exists. Some people in the world are simply fools, and it is not worth withholding the application of this label to those whom truly deserve. Someone who buys lottery tickets is, in a nontrivial even if not a morally grave sense, foolish. Evaluating whether something is foolish is not so simple as universal rules, but exercises prudence within the reasonable bounds of one’s situation.

Within politics, this is doubly the case. In the way we recognize the value of humility in the care of our body, entrusting ourselves to medical doctors and licensed professionals who have uncommon knowledge and experience that will help to perform the job far more competently than we could, it only makes sense to entrust the duty of governance to an elite,  rather than a mass. There is really no other way to describe a fervent belief in democracy, other than to say it is foolish. Children are perpetually in need of an adult to exercise prudence on their behalf, and there is nothing about being an adult which guarantees the wisdom and foresight to exercise prudence on one’s own behalf. Probably most people require, and deserve, a benign slavery which affords them nearly unlimited discretion as to what they shall do but still a mastery which reserves to itself the right to direct their behavior. Nothing need be prohibited provided nothing need be subsidized, including and especially foolishness. Let fools their foolishness, and let the rest to theirs.

Antidem had a piece of spiritual depth on the allure of Elua, which preys on the foolishness of man, on his giving in to unrefined, undisciplined desire. What has been lost in losing religion has been not only some irrelevant metaphysical commitments, but specifically a whole self-contained structure that dictated a way of life, an attempt at a synthesis between the best way for the individual to live and the best way for society to impose relations between those individuals. The deconversion of Europe from Christianity to secularism did not necessitate that all that was good and necessary for life was preserved, regardless of one’s religious commitments. In addition to the loss of some seemingly unnecessary dogmas suggesting that God became embodied as a human being in order to draw only the barest outline of a way to live, tell people to eat your body and drink your blood, die, come back to life, appoint spiritual successors of your authority, and start a religion, also lost was significant information about what life could reasonably be expected to provide.

We have persuaded ourselves that with our technology, our political order, and most importantly our enlightened values, the world itself has substantially changed such that we can expect what no ancestor in our past could ever expect. This was never proven to be the case so much as we simply decided nothing our ancestors told us was good information strongly selected for propagation by the logic of evolution and thus quasi-superintelligent. Why tradition, or better, a rational traditionalism as opposed to a mere tradition of rationalism [for this idea of the absolute discounting of past ideas to be measured on the merits we have decided upon in the present according to what are really only the latest, rather than best-evidenced, theories of thesis selection]? We operate from a position of default naivety, such that we approach whatever we have not intensively studied for ourselves from what we consider to be obvious, though what is obvious so rarely is to anyone else. Like the atheist prima facie argument to otherwise naive Christians, why afford special treatment to your own views over that of the views of others? Better, what makes you think you aren’t affording special treatment to whatever you haven’t intensively studied?

Who passed down the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, which demonized the behavior of the erstwhile Sodomites? Communities which did not fall prey to their high preference inclinations, their nearest wants and desires that seemed immediately satiable and put off caring for the future. If you are reading the myth for the sense that God is a arbitrarily powerful tyrant only looking to ruin people’s good times, you are reading it wrong. The story has been passed down because the behavior it proscribes is essential to its propagation. As a meme, it instilled values, ways of being, that helped to ensure it would be passed down. What should be inferred from this is that it provided valuable information, information which was crucial to the community of Israelites being successful in maintaining their society over time. Whatever it encodes, it encodes something that produces a modification of behavior, something which has a fixed rate of both improvement in propagation of the genetic component, and the cultural component.

Religion should be understood for what it was in its host societies: a highly adaptive memeplex. Observing only its imperfections leaves a lot overlooked which is worth treasuring, if not for its agreement with our principles, at least for the internal logic of behavior it managed to incur. Think of the Hebrew Bible, which is composed not only of primordial myths of dense theological meaning, but also a Law defining terms of recompense and duties quite obviously of cladistic descent of the Law of Hammurabi. The religion of Israel was composed of both a metaphysics continuum in which response to ethical information is encoded [think of metaphysics as being the code of our OS, which then implements the “code” of memes which become another component informing our priors which ultimately is a component of how we respond to the world], and also distinguished an intersection with law, norms of the community consciously imposed by violence. This represented a genuine social development, a conscious internalization of the world that first permitted our intelligence to take a role in consciously shaping our own memetic architecture. If one wanted to submit a religious speculation, such a development represents the manifestation of a law of nature which had otherwise been outside of observation.

Jesus acted to develop a self-conscious culture, modifying the memetic architecture to capture the beneficial element of a religious myth as storing significant information worth maintaining. It adapted the idea of a non-lineage dependent priesthood, which acted to allow it to adapt the deposit of faith across cultures, providing it a horizontal memetic immunity. A body of judges that superseded but also acted to significantly constrain political governments, and would be equally adaptable in constraining non-political governments [think like anarcho-capitalism, cf. family as kingdom]. Revelation in a certain sense becomes an insight in response to Gnon, which commands a dutiful attention in the care of its transmission. It permits the development of doctrine, producing rules for its own continual adaptation into the future to shepherd man. There is a reason for the bishop’s crosier.

The end result of this self-conscious sense of doctrine for informing personal behavior and the structure of society is to begin providing traction for intelligence in our beginning to adapt to the potential for a social mastery over forces of greater magnitude and power than those immediate in our environment. The human individual and, particularly, his intelligence is highly adapted to the specific tasks facing the individual and his navigation within the world, but the potential for improving man’s control over his destiny through social coordination has scarcely been tapped; the gene component of gene-culture co-evolution, which are balanced directly against another. Culture is a real thing, a real force which humans can be adapted to, or not. Cultural evolution requires genetic investment, and we’ve been borrowing heavily against the future. Biological forms transmit energy into the world to preserve its equilibrium in a certain way, and so do social forms. Note that things in an environment cannot change without changing the environment in some way.

Religion is an animating component of society, a soul to a body. Christendom was once such a society, with the Catholic Church as its head, but now the Cathedral has established its intellectual headship as the formal priesthood of the liberal order. Of note is that it has thus far evaded conscious detection as a rival religion, but this is really only an accident of the worldview it promotes about itself; it positions itself as irreligion, but there is no reason that from a different religious perspective on what constitutes the basis of religion per se, it is not just a religion of irreligion. Indeed, another aspect of its evasion is that it is thus far an extremely virulent if mild memeplex, transmitting itself horizontally only with the help of intensive capital investment into the institutions and sacraments of its orthopraxis. This engenders a certain critique of the Cathedral, in that it is not wrong to impose some final, singular vision of the world, but only that it does so very poorly. It evolved opportunistically, but sacrificed resilient vertical transmission to increase its horizontal transmission in the short run; think of it as a memeplex which is only a less extreme form of the mind virus which leads to infertile societies that cease to exist for a shortage of new families to convert children from. It only scarcely exerts control over society, adapting more to society and the destruction of social gates, Chesterton walls built by the corpses of our ancestors, who should not be so readily disinterred.

This elite class, a priesthood consciously influencing man to achieve its destiny, are prophets of the Gnonnic eschaton, who represent an exposition of the world’s teleology, of which society is co-teleological in purpose. It is arranged into a clergy within an ecclesiological structure, concerning itself with the maintenance of social technology, a culture building culture. The Cathedral is, comparatively, the priesthood of a false god, Elua, who is not aligned with Gnon and thus the wrath of Gnon must fall.

It often happens that God shows more clearly his manner of working in the distribution of good and bad fortune. For if punishment were obviously inflicted on every wrongdoing in this life, it would be supposed that nothing was reserved for the last judgment, on the other hand, if God’s power never openly punished any sin in this world, there would be an end to belief in providence. Similarly in respect of good fortune; if God did not grant it to some petitioners with manifest generosity, we should not suppose that these temporal blessings were his concern, while if he bestowed prosperity on all just for asking we might think that God was to be served merely for the sake of those rewards, and any service of him would prove us not godly but rather greedy and covetous.

St. Augustine, City of God

Not All Reaction is Created Equal

Most entryism is unintentional. It is spontaneous, a response by a system to incentives external to it to adapt in order to gain credence and credibility according to that external system of incentives. In order to adapt and begin taking advantage of the external incentives, it must orient its purpose towards alignment with those external incentives. This takes place unintentionally, by some individuals who hold sway over the community making appeals to the larger culture less in order to preserve a healthy dynamic but to cash out internal status for power and prestige within the external system, subordinating the internal value system to its designs.

Why would any individual shirk the internal value system in favor of the external value system? Certainly he must realize that, in disavowing the internal value system of the community it will only subordinate that community to the value system of others. That individual subordinates himself to a larger body in order that, by rearranging the internal value system to be more aligned with the external value system, he can gain more status internally as well as externally, raising his position within the group relatively and in the wider culture absolutely.

What is significant is that an entryist doesn’t need to recognize his own actions as being entryist. He might think it represents an organic growth converging on the values of the external value system, which are taken as natural. This convergence on the values of the external system, in other words, is taken as just the natural progression in the maturation of the group. This is especially hidden from the individual the more he is able to ground his motivations in defining features of the in-group and its internal value system. If he already has high status according to how status is recognized by the internal value system, so the reasoning goes, he could not be an entryist because he did not enter at a later point in time but was there from the beginning.

“Entryism,” despite its name, implies not so much an entry of individuals so much as individuals allowing entry of values otherwise foreign to the in-group, but aligned with the external system, to enter. This is the entryism worth fearing, and which precipitates future individuals entering in order to further the group along its recalibration in service of the external value system, dissipating the original internal value system that initially coordinated the community and assigned status.

What would entryism within neoreaction look like? It would appear as outsiders making critiques in the sense that it fails to converge on their preconceived values. Someone forwarding this critique internally, whether or not it was done with the intent of changing the orientation of the community towards the implied external value system, would be guilty of entryism.

Neoreaction, let it be known, is sovereign. It has values and methods of its own which are intended to distinguish it from, rather than allow it to converge on, the value systems of failed rightist critiques. You are free to follow, but any calls for neoreaction to follow you will be straightforwardly denied. The way forward is not by trying what was tried and failed before, but by attempting a new critique, a new method, a new value system. Neoreaction draws on, but is not coterminous with, other rightist value systems. It transcends these, taking for itself whatever is useful but only according to its own understanding. If you are not neoreactionary, perish the thought that it should approximate your own values.

Not all reaction is created equal. If you’ve been around longer and demonstrably failed to have the influence you say is necessary to make society right, you will be studied as a model of failed rightism. You will be processed, not pursued. Join, support, or get out of the way.

Those in the know will understand my intent. Those not will just have to follow.

A Hylomorphic Theory of Everything

I would like to succinctly summarize my view of science. Some definitions [I note they draw on, but are not necessarily coterminous with, their usage by certain philosophical systems]:

Form: the what it is to be a thing. Form is potentially separable from, but not able to be instantiated without, matter.

Matter: that which constitutes the elemental parts of a thing; it is possible to replace the material of a thing yet retain its form. All matter exists as the matter of a form, there is no formless matter.

Substance: a thing which exists; it is the composition of form and matter.

Emergence: the formation of a thing via interaction between substances. It occurs as the descent by form into equilibrium.

Interaction: causally efficient action between substances.

Strata: class of substances which has some essential form of interaction.

A summary of my theory is that each substance emerges as the result of interaction within a given strata. When a form emerges, it emerges as a system which imputes a tendency of the materially constituent substrata towards its preservation. To put that less technically, a form exists as a system of parts which each influence the parts to act in such a way that the form exists over time, though every form remains subject to corruption.

This might seem a very no-nonsense approach, but it is not actually the metaphysical paradigm of modern science. Modern theory views emergence as a kind of causally efficient ascent; the parts cause the form. My theory views emergence as a causally formal descent; forms emerge because they are, metaphorically, downhill of their respective material constituents. The field of chemistry works as applied physics because chemical interaction is downhill of physical interaction. The “ascent” model gives the appearance that the mechanical operation of individual parts are the cause of substance, rather than it being that material parts in seeking equilibrium produce these forms. Chemicals emerge from physical interaction for the same reason that spheres emerge from the interaction of soapy water and gas. Form is a minima, rather than a maxima.

It is essential to note that my definition of matter is opposed to the modern usage by science. Under the modern paradigm, matter is strictly identical with the physical. Under my usage, while the physical is material, the material is not physical, in just the same way a square is rectangular while a rectangle is not square. Something is material if and only if it functions as the constituent part of a form. In this way, what we should instead say about the emergent relation between physics and chemistry is that “The physical is the material of the chemical.”

This is significant because, while it is true that the modern paradigm has effectively unified the study of chemistry and physics, it has found itself unable to unify other scientific theories by insisting on the equivalence of the material and the physical. By obviating this identification, we can go on to say that “For any given strata, it emerges as the interaction of material forms.” Given matter is not just the physical, we can say something like “Biological form emerges as the interaction of chemical forms,” where the chemical is the material of the biological.

In addition, because my theory proposes emergence as a formal descent, it is possible for something to emerge as a plurality of strata without requiring discretely temporal events. Whereas a conception of emergence which requires discrete efficient cause cannot have something emerge simultaneously as one form of interaction in addition to another form of interaction, there are some forms of interaction which emerge simultaneously and only become differentiated with material addition of the premergent form. For example, an atom possesses chemical properties, but these chemical properties become differentiated when you have more interaction between atoms. This is to say that the material always possesses characteristics of its potential composite strata, without necessarily manifesting those qualities in a way significant to the analysis of that strata. This will make more sense when I begin describing how different strata relate to each other.

All form is potential matter, while all matter is actual form. Interaction is always an interaction for the purpose of obtaining equilibrium. Equilibrium is never actually obtained, but approached asymptotically.

That is the briefest outline of my theory. I will apply it to presently understood forms of causal interaction to show why this approach is superior.

Because there is no matter per se, and further matter is not identical to physical interaction, we can begin to break down certain theory groupings. The field of physics includes, but is not exhausted by, the study of energy, temperature, mass, entropy, atoms, quarks, strings, black holes, universes, quanta, and so on. It should be noted that these examples are not examples of any one thing besides that they are grouped together into “physics.” Why should this be? What is the essential quality shared between these different phenomena? There is some aspect to the form of their interaction which unifies and makes them subject to their particular methodology.

From physical interaction, chemical interaction emerges. There is a trait of chemical interaction which serves to differentiate it from physical interaction such that the tools particularly suited to the description and explanation of the physical must at least by complemented by additional restriction on methodology. Some forms of interaction within the physical, because the chemical encapsulates this interaction and introduces a novel aspect to its strata not found in the physical, for this novel aspect manifests as physical interaction at equilibrium. This relationship between the physical and chemical can be taken as a model for how other strata relate. Emergent strata are possessed of, but not exhausted by, the traits particular to their matter.

In the way that chemical interaction emerges of physical interaction, biological interaction emerges of chemical interaction. Again, the chemical formally descends to the biological; the biological is in turn possessed of characteristics particular to the chemical, encapsulating but not exhausted by chemical interaction. The biological is differentiated from the chemical by a trait novel to chemical interaction, but this novel trait is always a formal potential quality of chemical interaction.

Now, usually by the modern scientific paradigm psychology is postulated as emergent from biology. Ontologically, this appear intuitive; if we are identifying biological form with chemical matter arranged in a particular way, then psychology appears to be biological form arranged in a particular way. This is where my doctrine of formal descendance plays a role. While the psychological is a strata which depends upon the biological and forms a part of its matter, the form of interaction is being made prior over ontological form. Biological interaction does permit the eventual emergence of the psychological, but the psychological does not immediately emerge from the biological.

I will note here that the relationship between the physical and chemical was a bit simplified in order to begin to draw the crucial analogy. The physical, it is worth noting, is not identical to one particular theory or phenomena, but references a set of related theories and phenomena. In this case, following my emergent classification, the physical itself should be further unpacked. The atomic is the immediate precursor of the chemical, however the atomic emerges of the subatomic, i.e. electrons, protons, and neutrons.

Electrons are, unlike protons and neutrons, not apparently divisible.* This suggests that protons and neutrons are not of the same strata as electrons. This is, under my theory, sensible, as it is not necessary that the matter of a form are all of the same strata. A human being, we note, is a substance formally constituted by multiple strata, such as iron [atomic], water [chemical], and mind [psychological]. But this gets ahead of ourselves.

Neutrons and protons, in turn, emerge as the interaction of simpler forms, such as quarks. These themselves may or may not emerge of even simpler forms, but it is not important to our analysis what those are. Crucial to note is that this theory is agnostic on whether there is any fundamental material level.

The strata to emerge of biological interaction is ecological interaction. Biological forms are the matter of an ecological form. Ecology is the form of relations that hold between biological forms for a given local space. Given biological forms can exist without significant ecological interaction, we say that ecology emerges of biology. Ecology depicts relations of predatory competition, while it is possible for biological forms to interact without this forming predatory competition [note that predatory competition in this case does not require actually eating prey, only the use of violence to compete for resources].

From the ecological form of interaction emerges the sociological form of interaction. Predatory competition gives way cooperation between individuals. This is not to say that predatory competition ever leaves society [society is not identical to sociological interaction; think socio-logic more than sociology the modern social science], but that cooperation involves a novel trait not found in competition, though there are also forms of competition augmented by elements of cooperation just as there are forms of atoms augmented by elements of chemistry. The sociological form of interaction is inherently potential to the ecological form of interaction which makes possible, but does not necessitate, the sociological form of interaction which involves cooperation.

Psychological interaction emerges from sociological interaction. By this account, psychology is developed in order to make better use of sociological interaction, by permitting the development of more complicated systems of relations. This is akin to the way ecological interaction is the precursor to the evolution of carnivores.

Beyond this further speculation may be made, but this is the basic outline of the theory. To be incorporated yet are certain key theories such as evolution or fields such as economics, but I am confident they could not be classified as forms of interaction rather than either descriptions of the process of strata over time or else seeing key insights be touched upon as limits on how interaction can develop. Something else could emerge from the psychological, perhaps the technological, which depends essentially upon and appears formally descendant of psychological interaction. In principle, there may be an infinite level of strata, all potential in the very lowest of strata and avoiding our observation for failing to significantly manifest themselves as a crucial element in present equilibria. Linguistic interaction, for example, might emerge of psychological interaction; it could be something even more general, such as signaling interaction, which is achieved in the sociological strata. At times, elements from a descendant form can influence the material strata in a way that material strata cannot effect on itself, such as how acidity, a chemical form of interaction, can corrode physical substances or domestication, a sociological form of interaction, can influence the evolution of biological species. Of note is the potential for a descendant strata to cause disorder in the substrata it depends upon, disordering itself in the process [such as how sociological interaction can corrupt the ecological substrata it depends upon].

I believe that evolution, which is presently applied as a theory particular to biology, might better be generalized further, of which the elimination of disorder and subsequent descent of remaining ordered systems over time is a property intrinsic to entropy. This process of evolution manifests itself through particular means in each strata, of which genes happens to be the causally efficient mechanism of encoding biological form. However, this process of the corruption of individuals such that relative disorder is selected out more rapidly than relative order and permitting the greater likelihood of the transmission of order also occurs on the level of the psychological [learning] and the sociological [culture].

There are, obviously, a number of kinks to be worked out, but I think this sufficiently illustrates the working principles of my theory to give us a start in making clearer and more certain descriptions of scientific knowledge.

Doctrines:

  • Forms act to obtain equilibrium.
  • Emergence is formal descendance.
  • A form may be constituted by multiple strata.
  • All form is potential matter.
  • All matter is actual form.

An Introduction to Behavioral Verificationism, Part 1

A good and useful idea, if formulated in bad faith, will preserve in its form rhetorical vulnerabilities which would not be present if it were not formulated in order to arbitrarily rule out some particular argument or form of argument. For instance, a bad faith formulation of the fact that humans stereotype implies that stereotyping is wrong, and humans are wrong to stereotype; this overlooks the positive, non-normative account of stereotyping, which points out that for an agent only able to access limited information as filtered through direct experience and indirectly by the compressed experience [wisdom] of others, it follows that stereotyping is a useful means of orienting oneself in the world. In fact, stereotyping is not only not wrong, but is the default mode of human understanding. Every idea of a group of things that we choose to classify together on the basis of some shared quality, e.g. biological species, proposes a stereotype, and in reference to this stereotype we implement a number of caveats so that all individuals we intend to fall under the classification will be included. Thus we understand the idea of a species of zebra through the postulate of an individual or pair of zebras [male and female, for though they are relevantly different per se in that their natures are fundamentally distinct, they are also relevantly complementary under the notion of ‘species‘], and from this starting point we go on to attribute a range of sizes, behaviors, life strategies, and so on.

Someone might say that “But the idea of a zebra per se must be a total account.” Maybe, but if this were the case, it would follow that no such idea of a zebra exists. No mind save that of God can present to itself a total account of zebra, but must recall to itself through a series of temporally linked material states a strategic recounting of data structured into a theory of zebra. “But I’m talking about ideas, not ‘temporally linked material states.” Then what exactly do you mean? We can’t take the idea of ‘idea’ for granted, whatever that means anyway.

The only thing I consider obvious about the world is that nothing is obvious. It is precisely those things which appear self-evident, true in the sense that they can be neither argued for nor against, which can impose blind spots in our understanding of the world. They are the ideas we consider everything in terms of, and being in all our ideas, are something we cannot remove from our thought to consider the world without their informing of our thought. The ‘self-evident’ can impose a blind spot in the case it informs our behavior so that we never put ourselves in a situation, practically or conceptually, to see how one might understand through, around, or without that idea. “Either the evidence agrees with me, or the evidence is irrelevant” is one of these very neat, binding tricks which leaves a person unable to doubt himself and the veracity of his idea, which so far as I am concerned is the same as simply not understanding what one thinks he understands. From a position of imperfect information and knowledge, doubt of one’s beliefs is always hypothetically possible. Even assuming the ability to implement a perfect Bayesian calculus, from a position of imperfect information that always leaves at least two entirely distinct conceptual possibilities that fits everything we know. [This does not mean both conceptual possibilities are equal on other merits we might consider relevant for choosing between them, but merely speaking in terms of strict metaphysical possibility…]

The entire analytic tradition of epistemology since Descartes might be described as the attempt to interject certainty into a system we know is always imperfect. The notion of apodictic certainty is held up as the Holy Grail even at the same time it gains its status as such because it has been thoroughly discredited as a possibility. This is as opposed to previous epistemological traditions which never took perfect knowledge as a reasonable or practical goal. This tradition of fallibility was accepted as a straightforward concession of the fact that we are not God. The objection against an epistemological system that it doesn’t “grant access to certainty” is null; it isn’t sensible as a practical goal of human ratiocination or understanding.

It was the latter absolutizing of the human self that made certain knowledge appear either necessary, possible, or even desirable; by this ‘absolutizing’ I mean the granting of the relevant metaphysical possibility of an idealism that treats the human individual as a potential atom, for all we know identical with the Parmenidean One [Kant] or God-via-solipsistic-monotheism [Berkeley]. Knowledge appeared accessible through the activity of the individual alone, rather than necessarily a product of society’s interaction with the world and itself over time developing language and particular internally consistent games within those languages. This conceptual absolutization of the human self was one of those conceptual sweeps that oriented us towards a self-aggrandizing and self-serving interpretation of Reason which has occluded our access to the causes of our knowledge, mistaking ends with means and form with matter.

Truth is a good goal of rational inquiry, but it cannot be its means; were truth required as a means, it should not be a possible goal because perfection cannot be derived from imperfection. We are not, at the same time, stranded, for we are able to say that ‘truth’ is a quality of propositions, and by extension truth is about the world insofar as propositions are a part of the world. To be true does not require that a proposition be a perfect, 1:1 representation of something out in the world, because no such thing is possible given the constraints of human reason. Rather, we may say that something is true because it points us towards something; thus it is teleological, rather than efficient. Reason is understood teleologically, even by those otherwise invested in an ateleological, mechanistic metaphysics. The activity of reasoning cannot be separated from the potential of this perfect mapping of what mentally derived propositions are about. Truth is, as it were, an arrow, and even an arrow aimed away from the ground will eventually fall back to it. The “tendency towards truth,” as it were, should be understood as an intrinsic feature of social ratiocination, expressed through behavior.

Does knowledge exist? Setting aside the modern, infallibilist interpretation, we are able to say yes even if there is no example of a proposition which is true in the sense of granting some absolute, perfect access to “what is out there.” Consider, if you will, the difference between knowledge which does inform behavior, and knowledge which does not: conceptually, the idea of knowledge which has no influence on behavior would mean that such knowledge exists and yet lacks any material embodiment. It must be immaterial, which means that unless we place that knowledge in God and/or the Heaven of Forms [meaning we understand by intuiting this/these Form/s], it doesn’t exist. And if it doesn’t exist, then, well… what are you talking about exactly? You can’t point me towards it, there’s no way for it to “hit me over the head” if I’m wrong, the universe or Gnon’s will cannot correct me, there is no means to prove that I’m lost or wrong except in your own head. If one is concerned with knowledge that does exist, our theory of knowledge must include a metaphysical accounting of the production of knowledge and its purpose. [Clearly, something which doesn’t exist doesn’t need to have a purpose to not exist; it is precisely that lack of purpose which “allows” it to not exist, as it were.] In contrast to the modernist, Platonified conception of knowledge [which is not to say all modernist conceptions are Platonic, or vice versa], I will propose an Aristotelian conception.

This conception I call behavioral verificationism. While it draws on both the practical philosophical traditions of behaviorism and verificationism, it is not strictly identical to either. It can be summarized very simply: the meaning of a sentence is identical to potential behavior.

Though simple to summarize, it suggests that knowledge exists insofar as it informs behavior. It is cohesive with a strictly non-Platonified conception of meaning and meaning transmission, in addition to a means of setting forth a paradigm of philosophical inquiry without deformulating metaphysics.

In the next part, I shall start the discussion by discussing how we determine what words and sentences mean.

Smash the Overton Window

The Overton window is a concept meant to describe the breadth of acceptable, or politically feasible, opinion. Since most of our knowledge is effectively outsourced to experts and their own motivations, whether about science or religion or politics, individual opinion is usually little more than sociopolitical predisposition plus a survey of espoused opinions, choosing those which seem to best “fit” one’s uncritiqued priors. Once the ego has been invested into a political identity, the individual sets out to find evidence to support their beliefs. This initial process should not, assuming it is individually initial, be looked down upon: we all need to start somewhere, and it is our beliefs that direct us to engaging reality. What differentiates the political philosopher from the mere political philistine is in the way the former seeks to prove himself wrong whereas the latter seeks to prove himself right.

In the most recent election, 129 million citizens voted, for a total turnout of 55% among eligible voters. [This is assuming negligible fraud, but the rate of fraud doesn’t impact my analysis.] Whatever else is to be said about this, it represents the fact that at least 129 million voters nominally agree with the legitimacy of the political order, and could find someone who sufficiently represented their views so as to cast their vote for them. Among these voters, the outcome resulted in 98% of representative positions open for election being captured by Republicans and Democrats. We can infer, then, that roughly half of eligible voters have political opinions that do not significantly differentiate them from either the Republican or Democratic platform. Whatever else an individual might say about his vote and protest loudly that he does not actually agree, at the end of the day he still believes in the legitimacy of the American federal government and that most of its policies are politically justified, even if he may disagree that they are economically or culturally justified. This means that, for a nation of 300+ million people, the range of political opinion is, from a historical perspective, extremely narrow. Even just 200 years ago, it should have been impossible for a population of 300 million to have such tightly coordinated political opinion. Opinion diversity, like so many other things in our increasingly globalized and interconnected world, is at a local historical low. [The only other times it might realistically have been lower was when there were just fewer people around anyway; and even then, considered the totality of beliefs that flow into the notion of the legitimacy of authority, these opinions varied widely by myth and purpose.]

How is such a narrow coordination of political opinion possible? It would have to be something which could be standardized and disseminated to each and every citizen; but, like advertising, it should appear unlikely that it is merely the persuasive effect of these opinions alone that generate such a high degree of political conformity, but the recognition, or at least the illusion, that everyone else thinks this way. The mass media and mass education complexes enjoy a historically unparalleled power to induce a conformity of opinion not only by, as it were, holding the conch, but because they can present these opinions as the opinions of anybody who is somebody that matters. Opinion that diverges to any non-trivial degree can be delegitimized and outright shouted down with nothing more than the suggestion that everyone believes otherwise.

The primary mechanism generating such an extremely narrow breadth of political opinion is nothing more than the appearance of conformity. You throw in the way in which the vertical dissemination of memeplexes have been systematically disrupted and undermined, leaving each individual atomized and unable to rely on a proven tradition, and the historically aberrant level of horizontal memeplex dissemination can be leveraged to induce vast shifts of opinion within a shockingly short period of time. All one needs to do is make it appear that all the cool kids are doing it, and eventually everyone will agree with them anyway, so what reason do you have to hold out?

It doesn’t need to be this way. The narrow coordination of political opinion is entirely contingent, even with the presence of globalized media that can distribute any opinion from anywhere to each and every individual, whether he seeks it out or not. This narrow coordination rests on the status and legitimacy the press has arrogated to itself.

Breaking something is always easier than building something. The status of the press is built on centuries of integration into every facet of public life, being our primary source about politics, social movements, and anything else happening in society or the world. Yet, this status is not even necessary to achieve such a dissemination of the news, and beyond this 99% of news is useless to each individual, being little affected by the events discussed and debated. If one wanted to, say, break the Overton window, to open up the range of political opinion which could be expressed and to eliminate the illusion of conformity, one would only need to delegitimize the press.

A delegitimized press simply has less power to influence the individual, who must in turn form his opinions from other sources. The scope of these sources must naturally be wider than will be found in selected media sources, and would begin to deteriorate the Overton window, giving political philosophies and opinions that otherwise have no place in democratic electoral politics fuel to compete against the opinions of the now-delegitimized press. Already the internet has given prominence to voices that never would have been heard in the ordinary American’s living room, its full potential to disrupt the present paradigm of opinion dissemination only just being reined in by manufactured controversies which direct attention away from problems endemic to our society.

How to delegitimze the press? The average American has no ideological investment in the New York Times, with the progressive values it uses to frame discussion only being adopted for lack of any appearance that opinions could be formed otherwise, along different axioms and premises. He only goes along with the progressive narrative for a lack of exposure to the way it is manufactured. Were the process to be extensively documented, the narratives refuted, the interests of the individual journalists and groups uncovered and made plain, the facade of unbiased-enough presentation could no longer be maintained. The mask of legitimacy, of interests aligned with that of every American citizen, would fall, and it would be a first step in smashing the Overton window, grounding the development of “alternative” political philosophies, axioms, and values.

Parental Involvement and Civilization

It is readily acknowledged of the animal kingdom that those species which are more K-selected have more involvement in the lives of their children. A fish will lay millions of eggs, not because it expects to have millions of offspring, but because it can be expected that most of its progeny will die before maturing. There is no way for a fish to be involved in even a slim minority of the life of its progeny, and so fish don’t know their parents, lack for guidance, and get along on pure instinct. For fish, that works fine, because they occupy an ecological niche which doesn’t call for much or any parental investment in progeny.

We begin to witness significant parental involvement in the lives of their progeny in species which demonstrate a high level of K-selection relative the animal kingdom. These species take longer to mature and would be helpless on their own without the care of their parents for at least the first few months of their lives. The progeny depend essentially upon their parents to feed them while they develop into individuals capable of caring for themselves. Further, the more involved the parents are in the lives of their children, the greater the ratio of sexual success; whereas a fish lays millions of eggs, of which perhaps several dozen will succeed in the game of evolution, polar bears have a much greater rate of success. Success in even the most K-selected species is still below .5, but that is a vast improvement to the rate of r-selected species that can go as low as .0000001.

What we should infer from this is that greater parental involvement represents greater K-selectedness. A longer period of time in which an individual can grow, mature, and learn about its environment permits the individual to develop greater intelligence and knowledge that is useful in guiding it towards resources and sexual success.

Compared to humans, even the most K-selected of species, such as the gorilla, would rate as abysmal parents. Substantial investment by parents in their children is far and away the exception, while it also always represents a greater ability of the individuals of those species to succeed. While humans are not alone in the norm of progeny being dependent on parental caretakers, humans still invest far more than any other species in the care of their young. This is a part of what distinguishes us among the animals, and even within the human species greater parental involvement is frequently associated with wealth, strong traditions, and civilization.

Civilization tends K-selected. In primitive tribes the assurance of paternity is lower, while in civilization paternity is assumed and cheating represents one of the most serious defections of womankind against men.

This leads me to a thesis: as greater parental involvement is correlated to K-selection, then it follows that social changes away from parental involvement in the significant life events of their children represents a regression. Parents, who were once intimately involved in the education of their children, now outsource this to professional agents of the state. Parents, who used to instill wisdom about the ways of the world, are afraid to contradict their children and lose their esteem. Parents, who used to exercise more influence in the selection of their child’s mate, now leave their children to figure out the rough terrain of sexuality on their own through trial and error. Present social norms of the relationships shared between parent and child have regressed to a state nearer that common to the animal kingdom; not that we have entirely regressed, certainly, but it remains that these norms are, compared to the past, relatively less K-selected.

This is not entirely parents’ fault. Many of them have been already brainwashed by the indoctrination system, and the rest have been duped into believing these professional state agents have the interest of their children, rather than their own pet agendas, at heart. Professional state agents receive a vast amount of respect by parents for turning those children against them, making those children antagonistic towards the wisdom of their parents that exceeds their own maturity and understanding, trusting only in what their state-appointed cognitive caretakers have taught them to trust. Children are increasingly sent into the world, expected to manage their way through instinct and without reference to the hard learned lessons of tradition.

Fathers have been systematically emasculated, denied the paternal authority recognized by prior, more civilized societies. The authority of fathers in legal and social norms has been entirely undermined. Daughters are taught to disrespect their fathers if he attempts to provide them with basic advice, and wives are taught to give no quarter to a man in principle.

There was a time when parental involvement in the expression of their children’s sexuality did not take place, and then there was a time when it did; this represented an advance in social technology, for clear and obvious reasons. A father who has lived at least twice as long as his own children has, on average, far more experience and wisdom than his children could possibly obtain, which he would exercise to help his children select mates they will be able to make a life with. This seems, on reflection, extremely obvious; I cannot think of a single area of life that middle-aged adults are not implicitly trusted to have more wisdom about than their children, such as finances, education, behavior, clothing, friendships, so on and so forth. Yet for all of this, sexuality has been singled out as inviolable, entirely the child’s own to determine to his own purposes and apart from any potential guidance from his elders. This is bizarre, a complete breakdown of basic social technology that was first developed millennia ago. To make a comparison to material technology, it would be like no longer being able to produce bricks.

The only way I can make sense of anyone denying that a father would likely know better than his sons and daughters of how to exercise their sexuality would be the supposition that fathers have an irrational prejudice against their daughters failing to find husbands that can provide love and stability. Or, perhaps more likely, this is an ad hoc explanation developed after the damage to paternal authority was already accomplished. At what point did the suspicion against the intention of fathers become the norm? How did we slide backwards in the way we managed the parental involvement of our children?

The level of parental involvement is increasingly becoming a norm of barbarism. Lack of paternal guarantee, likelihood of desertion, probability that the father will be castrated and forced out of his own home and family, these sound like the norm of backwards, uncivilized countries, but it’s the norm here in the “First World.”

Rules and Emergent Form

The production of complex behavior is a relatively easy endeavor. You only need a few different rules dictating how to respond to an antecedent event, and let free the end result can be a remarkably dynamic form. Now, most conjunctions of simple rules will produce nothing very meaningful, spectacular, or useful, but given time forms will emerge which are capable of maintaining their form over time in response to environmental conditions. Let us call these “organic” forms. Forms which can be generated but do not naturally tend to reproduce themselves by their own nature can be called “inorganic.”

There is a horrible, disastrous misuse of the notion of emergence in modern academic philosophy such that “emergence” is frequently treated as a “get out of metaphysical contradiction free” card rather than used as a substantial element chaining together meaningful descriptions of reality. This is especially common in the philosophy of mind, where the “hard problem” of reconciling the apparently immaterial reality of phenomenal experience with the idea that everything must be material due to a prior materialism is fudged over by saying “Well, we know the world is materialist, so whatever is going on in our minds, whatever those are anyway, it just has to emerge from simpler rules of matter.” There are laudable attempts at actually putting together those wanted rules of matter with the way the mind actually works, and I’ll note that I’m not even an idealist [I’m a kind of verificationist; I don’t think the distinction between materialism and idealism is meaningful], but this project is doomed to fail for as long as emergence is treated like time travel in Dr. Who. Other materialists, who are unwilling to give up their materialism but can see through this fudging, tend eliminativist, saying there just ain’t no such thang as a mind anyway, so there’s nothing to explain.

A wonderful natural example of the emergence of form, or rather in this case the emergence of unity [but one can make a case that it is form], are that of starling murmurations. While each part of the flock only knows a very little part of the whole, namely the other starlings immediately surrounding it and a few basic conditions of its environment, when each individual starling follows the few simple rules governing its behavior what emerges is an apparent whole.

Is an individual starling, individually, a starling? No; while in theory a single given starling can be separated from other starlings, there are elements of its nature that cannot and will never be fully manifest except for their integration into a flock. The nature of the individual starling is continuous with its flock. Take away the flock, and you have an individual starling, but you do not have a starling manifesting the nature of a starling. As such, a starling individuated is not the same as a starling dividuated; this is to say that a starling-by-itself cannot be considered as a starling-with-starlings. The theoretical separation of the individual is exactly that, a theoretical separation, but this theoretical separation does not amount to saying that a starling can be understood apart from its behavior as integrated into a murmuration of a starling. The murmuration considered as a whole can be understood to respond to its environment in a way that the individual starling theoretically separated cannot; that is, the activity of the murmuration, though composed of the behavior of many individual starlings, is not identical with the set of starlings that constitute it. The starling and its behavior is matter to the murmuration’s form. Because the murmuration emerges from parts interacting with each other so as to produce a dynamic whole theoretically separable from its parts [that is, the form of the murmuration can be maintained even while replacing each material constituent and replacing it with another], it is organic. [One might demure as to whether ‘organic’ as used in this way means it is a living being, but I must confess I strongly tend towards admitting that murmurations are living beings apart from the starling they are constituted by.]

This tendency of individual beings to only be completely themselves as immersed into a greater whole is repeated throughout nature ad infinitum. Consider an animal body: its DNA is not a blueprint which each cell individually consults in order to determine what it’s supposed to do. Rather, each individual consults its DNA in order to determine how to act based on the behavior of the cells around it. Each cell, or part, does not know what each other cell is doing, and never will, yet the form of the animal body emerges. Wholes emerge not on the basis of parts referring to the intended form, but only by responding to immediately available inputs.

The same emergence of wholes in which there is nothing “above” making sure each part is in its right place occurs throughout the natural world. Indeed, every whole per se is constituted by individual parts following a set of rules in conjunction from which the behavior of the whole emerges. This is the case not only for living beings, but any order with unity. Minds, markets, societies, these are all further examples of emergence. In each of these, individuals are following only rules they know which provide a set of responses to a given stimulus, and this produces the appearance of order. When we apply this notion of emergence to minds and societies [not in the crude way as philosophers of mind are wont to do], we can begin to make sense of how individually understood ends can contribute towards collective behaviors.

In a mind, an idea would appear as a congruence of starlings within a murmuration, or at least the effect is similar enough. The idea is composed of neurons acting towards each other in a certain way, but the idea is produced without any neuron knowing the action of all the others, but only those immediately near to it. “Understanding” in this way appears as a unity of order, a collective behavior.

Society emerges as individuals who, following a set of rules and reacting to each other, produces a unity of order that each individual likewise comes to rely upon. And like starlings, humans are a kind of being which are not completely and fully themselves apart from society. They are theoretically separable, but apart from society no human can ever fully manifest his procreative and epistemic potential. The integrated man is incomparable with the disintegrated man; the former can manifest his nature as a rational being, while the latter cannot. [Rationality is coterminous with sociality.]

Given we see how wholes are capable of emerging through the behavior of their individual parts following simple rules dictating their response to their immediate surroundings [both interaction with other parts and interaction with the environment], we can begin to distinguish between these rules and how they lead to particular forms emerging over others. As stated above, not all conjunctions of rules lead to an integrated whole; but naturally an integrated whole will emerge. And, in addition to this, over time those integrated wholes will begin to populate the environment and follow their own rules, which over time will evolve a new emergent form. As a whole becomes integrated into a greater emergent form, that emergent form will begin to place selection pressures on the original whole which has been subordinated, changing its form; assuming the greater whole places a selection pressure to the overall maintenance of the now-subordinated form, that part will remain integrated into the whole and the whole’s emergence is stable. The part, once a whole to itself, now integrated into a whole and no longer capable of being by itself [i.e. separation from the whole implies death], becomes exapted.

The modern eukaryotic cell appears as it does now because, being a part of a greater whole, that greater whole has acted on the part in order that it shall be formed a particular way rather than another. Primitive prokaryotic cells could not evolve into a eukaryotic form without having been subordinated to this whole; the subordination of the cell to the whole changed the cell, so that the cell no longer exists as itself except as integrated into that whole. [Eukaryotic cells are, from a certain perspective, postprokaryotic.]

Humans are members of society in the same way, and so society shapes them both on the level of the individual and over time, evolutionarily, selecting certain groups of humans to procreate rather than others and so to direct society to the emergence of a particular form rather than another. The notion of a social contract insidiously covers up how the individual human is fundamentally changed by being a member of society, and apart from this integration into society would not even be a person himself capable of forming any such contract. Society is always previous to any contract. It is organic, and its form is not a product of human intelligence, but rather human intelligence itself is subordinate to society. This is not to say that certain individual humans might not have more influence over the shape of society, just as certain cells in the body might have more influence over the eventual form, but the purpose of intelligence has been subordinated for the purposes of society over the purposes of the individual; indeed, it is only for this reason that humans possess intelligence.

Rules, considered as a code dictating the behavior of individuals whether themselves wholes or parts, are a necessary ingredient to form. A society without rules, then, is analytically impossible; rules are an essential element. What rules is contingent, but it must have some rules, and these rules form an essential feature in the explanation of a society’s order. Because each emergent whole follows its own rules, it becomes possible for that whole to integrate with other wholes, becoming a whole exerting its own pressures on those parts and exapting the once-whole-turned-part to its own purposes. This represents an invocation of fractals, self-similar features emerging as wholes emulate the behavior of their parts acting on each other.

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