Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Philosophy Generator.

Imagine, in your brain, there is a complicated network of associations. Every single thought you have comes from some combination of these associations. It is these associations that are the concern of the Philosophy Generator, (the chart,) and this is what we must now address.
P is for paradigm. A paradigm is a grouping of associations you have on any subject. Associations are any thought, memory, feeling, or idea and a grouping of them creates a mental model or conceptualization. No matter how many associations from which you construct a subjects' paradigm there is only one paradigm per subject. With P at the top of the Philosophy Generator it is the culmination of our concern and everything underneath it must be a constituent of that paradigm. For illustrative purposes, we will consider your “Fire Paradigm.” I have chosen “fire” because it is a universal paradigm that everyone can relate to, have experiences with and comprehend. Any and all associations you might have about “fire” are included, whether you're aware of them or not. (“Fire” is a concrete example, but all ideas, even abstract ideas like “love” or “the colour red” are arranged in paradigm.) I'm sure you can think of a long list of “fire” associations. Typical examples might include: fire is hot, fire burns, fire hurts, fire is useful (for heat, light, warmth, cooking,) fire can kill, fire can cleanse my spirit, fire is portable, fire is symbolic, fire can destroy, fire can cauterize, fire can power my steam engine, fire can propel us into space, fire will appease the Gods...

X is for experiential norm. An experiential norm is an association you have constructed through your own experience. Obviously, every association one makes is a personal experience and my associations, on even the same subjects, will be different from yours. Such sentences must be considered in their entirety as not just statements, but complete and total ideas, as per the rules of Philosophy. So when it is said that, “An experiential norm is an association you have constructed through your own experience,” it is meant that it is only this and cannot be anything else. In other words, an experiential norm is an association that you have made without the influences of other peoples' associations. It is what you have come up with, when left to your own devices. 
Looking at our list of associations for our “Fire Paradigm” we can now pick out the ones that are experiential norms: fire is hot, fire burns, fire hurts, fire can destroy, etc... It should be noted that any of these associations could have been taught to you, such as your mother may have taught you that the “oven” is “hot” and “mustn't be touched.” (Thus, three associations join to create the Paradigm, “Hot ovens mustn't be touched.”) If this was the case, then in fairness to our definitions, these examples would not qualify as experiential, until you had actually experienced the pain caused by touching a hot oven. Thus, these examples are common, and fair use, as sooner or later in this life, despite being taught, everyone burns themselves and sees something destroyed by fire.

In philosophical terms, experiential norms are knowledge by acquaintance. Knowledge by acquaintance is empirical, (verifiable by observation or experience, not reliant on theory or pure logic.) You know something to be factual because you've had personal experience with it. You are acquainted with a paradigm when it is determined by sense data, (information received by the five senses.) Such is it that a human may easily, through X, learn that fire burns.

S is for Social Norm. “Social norm” is a term borrowed from Sociology and in our context, it changes very little. A social norm is an association that you have constructed entirely from influence(s) or are the paradigm of an individual or group, other than you. These are the associations you have not made for yourself, they are not “your own devices.” In philosophical terms a social norm is knowledge by description. This means that you have learned of this association from sources outside your own experiences via their “description.” (Which could be a lesson, demonstration, story, the point is you are not directly sensing the associative data yourself, it is “second hand.”) It is possible for a social norm to become an experiential norm via “acquaintance” or having been personally experienced. This is why the Philosophy Generator has a line under P connecting S to X. It is a completely reasonable thing to say both that that an experience can be taught and a lesson can be experienced. (Such as your Mother taught you the oven is hot, but odds are, you're going to burn yourself at some point.) Later we will examine what it means when a social norm cannot be experienced. These types of associations, the kind that can't be directly experienced, we will refer to as “strict.” Looking at our list of “fire associations,” we can now pick out those that strictly fall into the category of social norms: “Fire will appease the Gods.” “Fire can cleanse my spirit.”

There is no rule that states that any particular Paradigm has to be either X or S. It must be at least one, but it can be built from associations that come from both experiential and social norms. Such is the case with certain aspects of our “fire” paradigm. Let's examine the practice of cauterization with a hot iron. At some point in history an ancestor of ours, already having carried fire into the iron age, learning from elders who have passed down “the knowledge” of fire's utility, somehow discovered that holding a red hot iron to flesh would “melt it together,” closing a wound. For that person, this realization was an experiential norm developed from previous social norms and one experience. (Some individual would have to have “done it first,” possibly thousands of years previous, with a burning ember, held in moss. This matters not for we are discussing the paradigm of cauterization with a hot iron.) Thus, the paradigm has associations of lesson: Fire, heat, iron work, and finally, perhaps by accident, the experience of cauterization was discovered. For everyone that he taught this to and then for everyone they taught this to, cauterization would be a social norm. For you, it would stay “S” until you “X'd” it. (Again, you don't have to be the one being cauterized to have this experience, you could just as readily see it happen.) If the associations of a particular paradigm come from both sides of the Philosophy Generator they are said to have a “mixed constituency.”

So far, we have examined what constitutes a particular paradigm, “fire,” and where those constituents originated, either X and/or S. Now we must look at how we first experienced these associations. Did we learn them? Were they the product of instinct and common sense or expectation due to existence?

L is for Learned. These are the associations that had to have been created anew. There are three types of learned associations and each of this has a place in the Philosophy Generator.
What? There aren't three L positions in the PG!
In the philosophy generator, and in life, there are strict social norms that must be learned, shared, passed between people. Remember, because it is strict it cannot be X, cannot be experienced. Call them SL. This may mean that you were instructed by another, for instance, in the task of burning an effigy. It could even be that you have no particular feelings toward the target of your symbolic sacrifice. You have simply been told who to hate and believed it. It has not been your experience that the effigy deserves to be a target, nor do you feel appropriately hostile. You are a product of only influence. So is the strictness defined.

The second L position belongs to X, attached to S. Call it SXL. These are learned social norms that can be experienced. It could mean that you were taught something like cauterization or just observed people walk on hot coals without hurting their feet. In this instance you are not being taught, but you are still learning from another, therefore either of these learned association is a social norm.

Anything you have learned, independent of others' paradigm, completely on your own is a strict learned experiential norm. This third and final L in the philosophy generator defines the lessons we learn on our own. Often these are the lessons we remember the best, having lived the experience.

N is for a Naturally occurring experiential norms. These are the associations we find necessary, unavoidable and inevitable. We are born with these paradigm, or they become exemplary, (required) . These are the types of things that we don't even think about, they just are. We don't have to be instructed to hold our breath underwater, we come equipped to understand that fire will hurt us if we let it, we experience love for our children, all without needing to be instructed how.

Perhaps, by now, you have calculated why it is that there is no N under S. If an association is a social norm it is because it has come from influence. A naturally occurring experiential norm, by definition, must be universally experienced. Strict social norms, (those that can't be experienced,) can never be considered Natural. It is possible for a social norm to become N if it can be X'd, Then, as a product of experiential norms, the association can no longer be S. This can get confusing and we will go into greater detail later. For now, consider the easiest example, “love.” Love is a powerful emotion that is a experience you must feel personally. However, you must have someone or something to love, so it seems like it should be a social norm. This is because you are confusing what it is the Philosophy Generator measures. We are not determining what is required for you to feel love, (you, someone else and a connection, presumably.) We are seeking what you think about love, how you think about love and from where did these ideas originate. Don't let the universality of the Generator muddy the waters, we are only concerned with the constituents of paradigm.

The final term in the chart above is U. U stands for Eudaemonia. (I've chosen U over E, because E is used elsewhere and the word is pronounced, “You-de-mon-ee-ah.”) Eudaemonia is an ancient Greek word that was developed into a philosophy of “happiness” by Aristotle. This, like all of the concepts being introduced here, will be examined to their ends, soon enough. All you need to understand at this point is that there are associations you will determine to be usefull or appropriate, in addition to the ones you feel are counterproductive. Eudaemonics will be what we use to determine this qualification. The definition of eudaemonia has wandered over the last 2400 years but in the shortest terms and the lowest common denominators, it is some combination of altruism and selfishness. Aristotle's happiness was not only a product of his desires, but also the promotion of what he determined to be good, so it is that he could feel content in his person, social network, city, nation, species and world, knowing he has done well by his turn at existence.

Anti-Social Engineering seeks the philosophical self both in definition from Social Psychologists and in reality from the Engineers who have, for the most part clandestinely, controlled it. Not to be confused with the seldom used business connotation, Anti-Social Engineering doesn't refer to the coaxing out of information you otherwise might not divulge, but rather as a personal resistance to any social engineering to which you may have succumbed. It is not (anti-social) (engineering) it is (anti) (social engineering.) Social engineers come in various forms and do their work in many disciplines. From the beer commercial that entices you to believe you will be deemed sexy by drinking a particular name brand, to the politician who wins your vote with promises he won't keep, social engineering is as old as language itself. We will concern ourselves primarily with the clandestine engineering that modernity finds itself bombarded with. We seek to expose the agendas of powerful manipulators that have pulled great wools over amassed eyes.

Where the Philosophy Generator is the means, Assignee's Prerogative is the ends. This is the discerning of your “Authentic Self.” Assignee's prerogative states that you give the paradigms you have their weight, worth, value, power and strength. It is the Atheists' prerogative to assign little power to his “God paradigm.” It is the Preachers' prerogative to do the opposite. Those of us who waltz through life unaware of the amazing intricacies of the human psyche will have no use for understanding Assignee's Prerogative. These people will still be assigning worth to their paradigms but without contemplating them will have no means to achieve any sort of awareness. Conversely, once we have been made aware of Assignee's Prerogative we must accept responsibility and be accountable to our consciousness. Thus, enlightenment is not a frivolous pursuit. 
To learn more about the philosophy generator and what can be done with it, read Brian's book: Anti-Social Engineering the Hyper-Manipulated Self

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