Objective / Subjective

Subjective                           -                      Objective
Personal                              -                      Universal
Individual                           -                      Collective

There is something for Peirce that transcends the individual interpretation of the interpreter, and it is the transcendental idea of a community, a community as a transcendental principle. 

This principle is not transcendental in the Kantian sense, because it does not come before but after the semiosic process; it is not the structure of the human mind that produces the interpretation but the reality that the semiosis builds up. 

Anyway, from the moment in which the community is pulled to agree with a given interpretation, there is, if not an objective, at least an intersubjective meaning which acquires a privilege over any other possible interpretation spelled out without the agreement of the community. 

The thought or opinion that defines reality must therefore belong to a community of knowers, and this community must be structured and disciplined in accordance with supra-individual principles. 

The real is “the idea in which the community ultimately settles down”. “The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real”.

“The real, then, is what, sooner or later, information and reasoning would finally result in, and which is therefore independent of the vagaries of me and you ... The very origin of the conception of reality shows that this conception essentially involves the notion of a community”.

There is community because there is no intuition in the Cartesian sense. The transcendental meaning is not there and cannot be grasped by an eidetic intuition: Derrida was correct in saying that the phenomenology of Peirce does not - like Husserl's - reveal a presence. But if the sign does not reveal the thing itself, the process of semiosis produces in the long run a socially shared notion of the thing that the community is engaged to take as if it were in itself true. The transcendental meaning is not at the origins of the process but must be postulated as a possible and transitory end of every process.

In the Peircean line of thought it can be asserted that any community of interpreters, in the course of their common inquiry about what kind of object the text they are reading is, can frequently reach (even though nondefinitively and in a fallible way) an agreement about it. 

[…] to reach an agreement about the nature of a given text does not mean either (a) that the interpreters must trace back to the original intention of its author or (b) that such a text must have a unique and final meaning. There are “open” texts that support multiple interpretations, and any common agreement about them ought to concern just their open nature and the textual strategies that make them work that way.

But, even though the interpreters cannot decide which interpretation is the privileged one, they can agree on the fact that certain interpretations are not contextually legitimated. Thus, even though using a text as a playground for implementing unlimited semiosis, they can agree that at certain moments the “play of amusement” can transitorily stop by producing a consensual judgement. 

[Umberto Eco]
The Limits of Interpretation, p. 40-42

"The Struggle" against domination has therefore splintered into micro-struggles extending on so many different planes that there is no need, and in any case no way, to link them all up on a macro-systemic level.

So one cultivates "radical" subjectivity through practices that methodologically refuse the big picture ("bad" totality).

With audible relief, one relinquishes, as naiveté or will-to-power, the ambition to destroy the structures of exploitation.

Having been a student in the mid-1990s, I can vividly recall how attractive and obvious these ideas seemed. For me and for the artists I knew and worked with then, they appeared more radical and empowering than anything else on offer. It would take some more years of critical work and experience to emerge on the other side of them. Some never did.

The fact is, this reductionist soup is a vulgarization of Foucault-Deleuze-Guattari-Lyotard-Derrida-Baudrillard that represses, precisely, the commitments of these critical theorists. About the real histories and practical contexts in which they struggled, in some cases militantly, one remains sublimely uninformed. Taken out of context and run together into a concoction sloppily called "post-modernism," these distinct bodies of theory and practice are cooked down to some purported basis of post-political ironic relativism.

It follows that, obviously, the old avant-gardes are laughable relics, utterly and irredeemably passé and uncool. Predictably, this kind of thing is often transmitted, in the form of (an) attitude, to students who haven't yet learned or read enough to make minimally critical choices about it and who, as result, will never immerse themselves in avant-garde histories. (Why bother?)

Again, I'm not suggesting that students and artists should slavishly be repeating these histories. The point is that in order to receive and repurpose them, it is necessary to first go through the trouble of learning them.

[Gene Ray]
Art Schools Burning and Other Songs of Love and War, Chap. IV, para. 1-2
Full text here

In 1958 I wrote the following:

'There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.'

I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. 

As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?

[Harold Pinter]
Nobel Lecture, 'Art, Truth & Politics'

orange/GREEN replaces the certainties of BLUE truth and ORANGE tried-and-true-experience with relativism. With so many equally good possibilities, maybe none is invariably best. Perhaps everyone is right in her/his own way, one time or another.

It is this amorphous, context-sensitive aspect of GREEN which so disturbs clear-cut BLUE and impatient ORANGE - situational ethics, cultural relativism, and Outcome-Based Education (no grades, nobody fails), for example.

[Don Edward Beck & Christopher C. Cowan]
Spiral Dynamics, p.263

This conception in all its forms, Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Christian, and Oriental alike, I shall henceforth refer to for brevity simply as ‘the Tao'. 

Some of the accounts of it which I have quoted will seem, perhaps, to many of you merely quaint or even magical. But what is common to them all is something we cannot neglect. It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are. 

Those who know the Tao can hold that to call children delightful or old men venerable is not simply to record a psychological fact about our own parental or filial emotions at the moment, but to recognize a quality which demands a certain response from us whether we make it or not. 

I myself do not enjoy the society of small children: because I speak from within the Tao I recognize this as a defect in myself - just as a man may have to recognize that he is tone deaf or colour blind.

[C.S. Lewis]
‘The Abolition of Man’, Selected Books, p. 405

As long as the romantic believed that he was himself the transcendental ego, he did not have to be troubled by the question of the true cause: he was himself the creator of the world in which he lived.

[Carl Schmitt]
Political Romanticism, p. 91

Related posts:
Nobody knows, and nobody can ever know
Life Amongst the Rubble
Individual + Villager = Balance
Rights and Responsibilities
TOTP vs Popworld 
Tasteful Distance
Shades of gray
Solid Ground 
Certain / Uncertain
Infinite Doorways

Attractive Assemblages

What we see in human decision makers is a whole body of anecdotes. I tell a story, you tell a story, I like your story so I tell similar stories. On the internet that happens much faster. 

Then those stories form a trope, and it reaches a critical mass and goes through a phase shift and then the trope/assemblage/strange attractor exists independently of the story-teller. People effectively get sucked into it, they can’t escape from it. 

Then they start to filter things, because the assemblage is a cognitive activation pattern. 

[Dave Snowden]
'Naturalising Sense-making w/ Dave Snowden. September 3rd, 2020'

The influence on people's actions and on the course of events that derivations—theories, doctrines, reasoning—seem at times to have is always deceiving the surface observer. At most the derivations strengthen already existing residues—a truth well realized by skilled propagandists; for the rest, they operate only indirectly.

The seeming influence of the derivation is in reality the influence of the residue which it expresses. It is for this reason that the “logical” refutation of theories used in politics never accomplishes anything so long as the residues remain intact.

Scientists proved with the greatest ease that the Nazi racial theories were altogether false, but that had no effect at all in getting Nazis to abandon those theories, and even if they had abandoned them, they would merely have substituted some new derivation to express the same residues.

[James Burnham]
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, p.176


Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound to the crowd strive for obscurity. 

For the crowd believes that if it cannot see to the bottom of something it must be profound. It is so timid and dislikes going into the water. 

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
The Gay Science, 173

Logos / Mythos

Logos       -          Mythos
Fact          -          Fiction
Theory      -         Story
Literal      -          Metaphorical

One ought not to make ‘cause' and 'effect' into material things, as natural scientists do (and those who, like them, naturalize in their thinking - ), in accordance with the prevailing mechanistic stupidity which has the cause press and push until it ‘produces an effect'; one ought to employ 'cause' and 'effect' only as pure concepts, that is to say as conventional fictions for the purpose of designation, mutual understanding, not explanation. 

In the ‘in itself' there is nothing of 'causal connection', of 'necessity', of 'psychological unfreedom'; there ‘the effect’ does not ‘follow the cause', there no 'law' rules. It is we alone who have fabricated causes, succession, reciprocity, relativity, compulsion, number, law, freedom, motive, purpose; and when we falsely introduce this world of symbols into things and mingle it with them as though this symbol-world were an 'in itself', we once more behave as we have always behaved, namely mythologically

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 21

The normal person, says Adler, takes guiding principles and goals, metaphorically, with the sense of 'as if.' "To him they are a figure of speech," heuristic, practical constructs.

"The neurotic, however, catches at the straw of fiction, hypostasizes it, ascribes to it a real value." Finally, "in the psychoses, it is elevated to a dogma." What makes madness is literalism.

To be sane we must recognize our beliefs as fictions, and see through our hypotheses as fantasies.

[James Hillman]
Healing Fiction, p.111

Nothing hinders us from reversing the progression from Mythos to Logos and studying the chain from Logos to Mythos. Moreover, it would be even more productive to consider the logological and the mythological as two equal types of narratives, especially since in Ancient Greece both terms, λέγω и μυθέω, meant discourses of different semantic shades.

The “contemporal moment” demands that we approach the logological side of Plato seriously (even descending to the level of his “naive” idealism) and that we leave the mythological dimension aside, insofar as such simply reflects the “remnants and superstitions of the era.”

But upon establishing distance from the contemporal moment, this whole interpretive system collapses, and we can and should turn to the Mythos and Logos simultaneously, on common grounds, in search of what really interests us.

The basic paradigms of thinking (and that means the sources of philosophy) are to be placed not in the realm of the Logos, but in the realm of the Nous (νοῦς) which can be seen as the common source of both Logos and Mythos.

[Aleksandr Dugin]
The Three Logoi: An Introduction to the Triadic Methodology of NOOMAKHIA, Chap. 2

The contrast, indeed the opposition, between art and life [...] provides a way of exempting art - including narrative - from its moral tasks. And the relegation of art by modernity to the status of an essentially minority activity and interest further helps to protect us from any narrative understanding of ourselves.

Yet since such an understanding cannot be finally and completely expelled without expelling life itself, it continuously recurs within art: in the realistic novels of the nineteenth century, in the movies of the twentieth century, in the half-suppressed background plot line which lends coherence to the reading of each morning's newspaper.

Nonetheless to think of a human life as a narrative unity is to think in a way alien to the dominant individualist and bureaucratic modes of modern culture.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.264

[...] man is in his actions and practice, as well as in his fictions, essentially a story-telling animal. He is not essentially, but becomes through his history, a teller of stories that aspire to truth.

But the key question for men is not about their own authorship; I can only answer the question 'What am I to do?' if I can answer the prior question 'Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?' We enter human society, that is, with one or more imputed characters - roles into which we have been drafted - and we have to learn what they are in order to be able to understand how others respond to us and how our responses to them are apt to be construed.

It is through hearing stories about wicked stepmothers, lost children, good but misguided kings, wolves that suckle twin boys, youngest sons who receive no inheritance but must make their own way in the world and eldest sons who waste their inheritance on riotous living and go into exile to live with the swine, that children learn or mislearn both what a child and what a parent is, what the cast of characters may be in the drama into which they have been born and what the ways of the world are.

When someone complains - as do some of those who attempt or commit suicide - that his or her life is meaningless, he or she is often and perhaps characteristically complaining that the narrative of their life has become unintelligible to them, that it lacks any point, any movement towards a climax or a telos.

Hence the point of doing any one thing rather than another at crucial junctures in their lives seems to such person to have been lost.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.250, 252

Related posts:

Unintended consequences

The one thing I can guarantee about any complex adaptive system is that whatever you do there will be unintended consequences, and you are ethically responsible for them. 

The larger your intervention, the larger the unintended consequences. 

[Dave Snowden]
'AgileByExample 2017: prof. Dave Snowden - Cynefin in practice'

I’m out working with Tommy Quinn […] He’s lived here in Knockmoyle for all of his life, so his opinions [...] hold weight with me. He asks me what technology I think had the most dramatic impact on life here when he was growing up. I state what I feel are obvious: the television, the motor car and computers. Or electricity in general. Tommy smiles. The flask, he says.

I ask him to explain. When he was growing up in the 1960s, he and his family would go to the bog, along with most of the other families of the parish, to cut turf for fuel for the following winter. They would all help each other out in any way they could, even if they didn’t always fully get on. Cutting turf in the old ways, using a slean, is hard but convivial work, so each day one family would make a campfire to boil the kettle on.

But the campfire had a more significant role than just hydrating the workers. As well as keeping the midges away, it was focal point that brought folk together during important seasonal events. During the day people would have the craic around it as the tea brewed, and in the evenings food would be cooked on it. By nightfall, with the day’s work behind them, the campfire became the place where music, song and dance would spontaneously happen. Before the night was out, one of the old boys would hide one of the young lads’ wheelbarrows, providing no end of banter than following morning.

The one day, out of nowhere, the now commonplace Thermos flask arrived in Knockmoyle. Very handy, Tommy says, and everyone wanted one. Within a short space of time families began boiling up their hot water on the range in their homes, before taking it with them to the bog. After millennia of honest service, the campfire was now obsolete.

[Mark Boyle]
The Way Home, p. 84

Related posts:


[Ariel] Rubenstein refuses to claim that his knowledge of theoretical matters can be translated - by him - into anything directly practical. 

To him, economics is like a fable - a fable writer is there to stimulate ideas, indirectly inspire practice perhaps, but certainly not to direct or determine practice.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
Antifragile, p. 211

All things organic are dying in the grip of organisation. An artificial world is permeating and poisoning the natural. Civilisation has itself become a machine that does, or tries to do, everything in mechanical fashion. 

We think only in horsepower now; we cannot look at a waterfall without mentally turning it into electric power; we cannot survey a countryside full of pasturing cattle without thinking of its exploitation as a source of meat supply; we cannot look at the beautiful old handwork of a lively and primitive people without wishing to replace it by modern technical process.

[Oswald Spengler]
Man and Technics, p. 72

With the decline of metaphysics, ethics has outgrown its status as a subordinate element in abstract theory. Henceforth it is philosophy, the other divisions being absorbed into it and practical living becoming the centre of consideration. 

The passion of pure thought sinks down. Metaphysics, mistress yesterday, is handmaid now; all it is required to do is to provide a foundation for practical views. And the foundation becomes more and more superfluous. 

It becomes the custom to despise and mock at the metaphysical, the unpractical, the philosophy of “stone for bread." 

There is exactly the same difference in Classical philosophy before and after Aristotle - on the one hand, a grandly conceived Cosmos to which a formal ethic adds almost nothing, and, on the other, ethics as such, as programme, as necessity with a desultory ad hoc metaphysic for basis. 

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p.366

It is because the inner being is extinct in the modern scientist, leaving him with only gross physical perceptions and an abstract, mathematical intellect, that the relationship between the I and the not-I grows rigid and soulless, so that his detachment can only act negatively.

His science is only good for grasping and manipulating the world, not for understanding it or for enlarging his knowledge in a qualitative way.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p.142

Iain: I believe there are different levels of purpose. In one sense you can say a daily purpose might be to get food and no longer be hungry, but that is not to exhaust the purposes of an animal.

It seems unsatisfactory to say that the purpose of the animal is just to make other animals like itself. It seems more that there must be something purposeful about being a deer, that it demonstrates one of the ways in which the verb to be can be inflected.

It creates a much richer idea of what it means to be, and that seems to me close to the purpose of an animal, that the lioness is not just killing and eating, which is certainly a daily purpose, and not just producing more lioness cubs or lion cubs, but actually just being the lion is the purpose of a lion.

Jim: […] I would say that part of the being of a white-tailed deer, at least for those who appreciate them, is we find them beautiful as well or something about their form that’s really quite elegant, the coloring, the shape, athleticism and all that.

But is that a purpose? I guess a purpose from what perspective? What’s the perspective of the purpose of the deer who plays and the deer that is beautiful?

Iain: Well, obviously not a utilitarian purpose, and that’s why I begin by differentiating intrinsic purposes from manipulation that reaches a certain goal at a lower level and at a utilitarian level and as an external extrinsic purpose.

So, there seems to be something about the way evolution works, that it’s not just about creating a creature that can last longer, has better survival power, because there are, for example, actinobacteria at the bottom of the sea. Single examples of which may be a million years old. Human beings do rather poorly in this competition because we live through only 70 years old. Trees can live to be a thousand years old.

But as you get more complex, you find that actually the survival value of the individual and even its ability to propagate many examples of itself may be diminishing. So it seems to me that the idea of fitness must encourage us to think in terms of something other than mere mathematically calculable survival.

[Iain McGilchrist]
‘EP 155 Iain McGilchrist Part 2: The Matter With Things’, The Jim Rutt Show, YouTube

The interesting and significant point is that this argument against vitalism is not concerned with its truth but with its fertility. To confuse these two is a very common error and causes a great deal of damage.

A methodological principle - ‘fertility' - which is perfectly legitimate as a methodological principle is substituted for the idea of truth and expanded into a philosophy with universal claims. As Karl Stern puts it, ‘methods become mentalities'.

A statement is considered untrue not because it appears to be incompatible with experience, but because it does not serve as a guide in research and has no heuristic value; and, conversely, a theory is considered true, no matter how improbable it may be on general grounds, simply because of 'superior heuristic value'.

In the ideal case, the structure of a man's knowledge would match the structure of reality.

At the highest level, there would be ‘knowledge for understanding’ in its purest form; at the lowest, there would be ‘knowledge for manipulation’. Understanding is required to decide what to do; the help of ‘knowledge for manipulation’ is needed to act effectively in the material world.

For successful action, we need to know what will be the results or alternative courses of action, so as to be able to select the course most suitable for our purposes. At this level, therefore, it is correct to say that the goal of knowledge is prediction and control.

[E. F. Schumacher]
A Guide for the Perplexed, p.69, 127

I have thought often about the role of the tool-making instinct in the history and prehistory of our race. And I have associated this instinct with a more general characteristic of our people which I -- and others also -- have called the Faustian spirit.

That's the spirit which drives us not only to build things and to invent things but to explore and to try to understand ourselves and the world around us. It is a spirit which makes us seek power not just for the sake of mere power, but also for the sake of progress, for the sake of building new things. It leads us to conquer not merely for the sake of conquest, but also to improve and develop that which we conquer.

It leads us to value truth over and above any practical value that truth may have; to value knowledge above any monetary gain that knowledge may yield.

[William Pierce]
'The Faustian Spirit and Political Correctness'

These words help to clarify what Edwards meant by "consent and good will to Being in general" - the essence of "true virtue," as he called it in his treatise on that subject.

"Consent" implied a love of God's creation in and for itself, without regard to the ways it thwarted or seemed to encourage human designs.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.249

There was much to be said for Mailer's contention that "the life of politics and the life of myth had diverged too far" in the postwar years and that the times demanded a leader who could "engage" once again the “myth of the nation" and thus bring a new “impetus ... to the arts, to the practices, to the lives and to the imaginations of the American."

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.469

Prediction is given the highest value in the physical sciences. Indeed, it has become the crucial test of any theory; for it is not sufficient to explain a wide range of phenomena - one must also be able to predict some new effect that can then be tested.

However [thinkers] such as Paul Feyerabend and David Bohm, do not go along with this current fashion for predictability and suggest that understanding is the true criterion of science.

The current emphasis on prediction, in their opinion, has become an obsession and, by itself, does not lead to understanding. Indeed, in some cases it simply confirms what is in effect a closed system of thought.

While Native scientists have concerned themselves with prediction, this comes about within a different metaphysics. Prediction does not so much involve something new in the future but a celebration of return and renewal. What we take for prediction could, in the case of Indigenous science, be closer to an expression of the harmonies and relationships between things.

Within Mayan science, for example, great emphasis was placed upon the wheels of time and upon the exact dates of eclipses and planetary movements.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.252

In ancient Greek, 'school' is scholé, that is, leisure. Schools of higher education would thus be schools of higher leisure. Today, they are no longer places of high leisure. They have become places of production, factories of human capital.

They pursue professional training rather than formative education [Bildung]. Formative education is not a means to an end but an end in itself. Through formative education spirit relates to itself instead of subordinating itself to an external purpose.

The university of the Middle Ages was anything but a place to receive professional training. It was a place of ritual. Sceptres, seals, doctoral caps, chains of office and gowns were the accoutrements of academic ritual.

Today, universities are abandoning rituals. The modern university, understood as a business that has to serve its customers, no longer has any need for them. Rituals conflict with work and production […]

Where everything is subordinated to production, ritual disappears.

[Byung-Chul Han]
The Disappearance of Rituals, p.41-2

[…] the rise of a master-class without traditional authority or obligations; the growing distance between master and man; the transparency of the exploitation at the source of their new wealth and power; the loss of status and above all of independence for the worker, his reduction to total dependence on the master's instruments of production; the partiality of the law; the disruption of the traditional family economy; the discipline, monotony, hours and conditions of work; loss of leisure and amenities; the reduction of the man to the status of an "instrument".

[E.P. Thompson]
The Making of the English Working Class, p.221

Related posts:


In primitive societies life is a succession of stages. The needs and purposes of one stage having been fulfilled, there is no particular reluctance about passing on to the next stage.

A young man goes through the power process by becoming a hunter, hunting not for sport or for fulfillment but to get meat that is necessary for food […] This phase having been successfully passed through, the young man has no reluctance about settling down to the responsibilities of raising a family.

(In contrast, some modern people indefinitely postpone having children because they are too busy seeking some kind of “fulfillment.” We suggest that the fulfillment they need is adequate experience of the power process — with real goals instead of the artificial goals of surrogate activities.)

Again, having successfully raised his children, going through the power process by providing them with the physical necessities, the primitive man feels that his work is done and he is prepared to accept old age (if he survives that long) and death.

Many modern people, on the other hand, are disturbed by the prospect of physical deterioration and death, as is shown by the amount of effort they expend trying to maintain their physical condition, appearance and health. We argue that this is due to unfulfillment resulting from the fact that they have never put their physical powers to any practical use, have never gone through the power process using their bodies in a serious way.

It is not the primitive man, who has used his body daily for practical purposes, who fears the deterioration of age, but the modern man, who has never had a practical use for his body beyond walking from his car to his house. It is the man whose need for the power process has been satisfied during his life who is best prepared to accept the end of that life.

[Ted Kaczynski]
Industrial Society and its Future, 75