Re: Memetic/Ontological *understanding*

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Fri, 2 Jul 1999 16:31:12 EDT

From: <>
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 1999 16:31:12 EDT
Subject: Re: Memetic/Ontological *understanding*

In a message dated 7/2/99 11:24:34 AM Central Daylight Time,

> While some correspondence to reality
> is necessary to exercising control, exercising control over reality and
> corresponding to reality are not entirely compatible goals.

>>Surely, as the old saying goes, knowledge is power, not impotence!<<

It's still a good saying as far as it goes. But in terms of any function --
efficiency is important as well as power. We don't need a nuclear warhead
for a small demolition job. In any given context there is a point of
diminishing returns. We don't need absolute correspondence with this reality
stuff what-ever-it-may-be to exercise effective control -- and seeking
absolute correspondence could in fact prove a paralyzing goal. At some point
we have to stop trying to define truth and knowledge strictly in terms of
correspondence, and grant that *understanding* plays as much a role in our
use of the terms "truth" and "knowledge" as actual correspondence does. All
of the correspondence in the universe does us no good without understanding
attached to it. Indeed we don't need absolute correspondence, because we
already have the universe -- it already corresponds to itself absolutely. No
need for duplication, and due to self-reference problems, duplication is not
even really possible.

> What emerges are correspondences (recognizing them as matters of degree
> rather than necessarily dichotomous true/false status) that are mutually
> coherent and consistent, and those that are not, fail to be favored and tend
> to be selected out. Incoherent and inconsistent correspondences are of
> little use to an embodied conceptual system regardless of their degree of
> correspondence, and so we naturally favor rationality.

>>And so, hypothetically, if and in so far the Universe incoherent and
inconsistent, reality might elude the observer. That sounds rather silly,
doesn't it?<<

It might if you believed that I said or thought that the universe is
fundamentally inconsistent or incoherent. Here I am talking about
representational correspondences of that reality, not that reality itself.

>> In fact, sometimes real data gets mistakenly filtered out as
static, because it doesn't seem to fit. And we can disbelieve what does not
tend to fit.<<

Mostly we just tend to forget it.

>> And it might be crucial.<<

Some of it might. But a lot of it isn't.

>> That is a classic motif in detective novels.<<

It does make for good fiction, and occasionally real life imitates art. But
most of the time it doesn't. Art frequently tells us more about ourselves
than about the rest of reality.

>> Still, the survival goal searches, rationally, to build a simulation that
corresponds to reality, in order to better function and survive. Okay, it
ain't Pure Research. But what of it?<<

A simulation not only corresponds, but it is at least coherent, if not
consistent as well.

> Likewise, as a result, our conceptual system will be as much metaphorical as
> it is definitional. That's good, because it is one indication that our
> conceptual system is functioning more or less ideally -- using
> in the pursuit of control, not just pursuing correspondence to the detriment
> of exercising control. It's much more simple and yet profound than a mere
> neurological itch.

>>Sounds like good Methodology to me. Is there a problem?<<

Sounds like we have returned to the same page -- a sort of philosophical



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