Required Reading: the Philosophy Generator
At the top of the generator is Paradigm. This is divided into two possible sources: eXperiential and Social, the differences of these must be fully understood before we can continue. An experience is something that only you can have. That is not to say that only you can have one but rather that only you can have yours. An experience, essentially, is data recognition. Information goes into your nervous system through your five senses and is processed into an experience. There are no experiences to be had without information. Even two experiencers processing “the same data” will do so differently. What is information? It’s easier to answer than you might think. Everything is information. Granted, this three word sentence deserves probably an entire tome to itself. We don’t need to examine how everything is information to gain the insight we seek. We also needn’t concern ourselves with a computers’ ability to process information to understand that there is a difference between it and what we are capable of. Truth be known, a coffee table is having the experience of a being a coffee table. It is chock full of “coffee table information,” right down to the molecular level. We can see, feel, smell and even taste the table if we require some data from it. We cannot be the table any more than we can ask the computer what being a table is like.
These are the conundrums of philosophy and they can be pushed to the utmost. (What is a thing anyway? An object? Anything? There are things. Things exist. There are not things that don’t exist. Is “love” a thing as much as a “table” is? It seems ridiculous to even want to contemplate such statements, yet here we are...) If you find yourself inclined to wonder about such things it is entirely possible that you have already asked yourself whether or not I am referring to paradigms themselves, or the ideas that the paradigms represent? This ages old question was named by Immanuel Kant as “The phenomenon of the thing vs. the thing itself.” Kant explained that we can’t get to know the thing itself because we “get in the things’ way” by sensing it. The “thing,” in actuality is a product of the “thing” and our perception of it. For our purposes, despite the apparent importance, this question is irrelevant. We can consider both the ideas of our paradigms, (the associations,) and the paradigms themselves, (the combination of associations,) separately or together. For instance, it’s likely that no one would waste any time arguing that knowing fire spreads and destroys was problematic, but they might argue against the merits of arson. The difference being that a piece of your “fire” paradigm, while actually attached in some way to your “arson” paradigm, it is not representative of your complete thoughts on either subject.
Bertrand Russell commented on Plato’s thoughts on this subject as well. Using the terms I have chosen, Russell says that any association is a “Particular” and any paradigm is a “Universal” built out of “particulars.” He goes on to differentiate these as “the characteristics of” and just “of.” For example: “A just act” or “a red thing” versus “Justice” or “Redness.” Physicists too talk about the phenomenon of observational interference right down to the subatomic level. Suffice to say, I don’t think we’ll be breaking any new ground here today. Just know that, in terms of paradigm, the thing is the idea and vice versa.
So let us end our questions of experience with the following: “An experience is YOU, processing data. That is all.” We, unlike a coffee table, are able to think about that process but that doesn’t make the coffee table experience any less real. The philosophy generator doesn’t concern itself with coffee tables or computers because their paradigms are unilateral. We want to wonder about ourselves, as choosers.
Experiential Norms, that is, paradigm that are set by your experiences, are what I refer to as being X in the philosophy generator. These are the norms of existence. They are both the naturally occurring and observed lessons of life that you can know, left to your own devices. X is the essence of existentialism. Of all the possible thoughts and experiences, free of influence, everyone can only have their own. They may or may not lay claim to their experiential norms, depending on their awareness of them, but they still have no choice but to have them, short of some vegetative state.
They cannot also have someone else’s experiences, (these must be shared.) One can have experiences similar to someone else, as for most of us love is, wholly or in part, similarly reciprocated. One can see the same movie as one’s date and while still having quite similar experiences, it certainly cannot be called the same experience, in the strictest sense.
Experiential norm is to experience as social norm is to influence. Experiential norms are the associations made up independent of influence of someone else’s paradigms. Social norms are, in the most general terms, the opposite: Paradigms that you have made directly from the influence of others. These are the products of interactions with others. You may or may not be having an experience to build such a social paradigm, the condition being met for it being S and not X is that you couldn’t have had this experience alone. For instance: love is an experience that you sense, have, feel and definitely can properly define as being a paradigm built from X, yet, it simply cannot be without S. You require someone to love. The same could be said for the love of nation or pumpkin pie. It turns out it doesn’t matter: unless you are a nation of one or invented pie these are examples of social norms. Love is an abstract paradigm that can be made up of many associations from both sides of the philosophy generator. An example of a more concrete variety, such as “fire hurts” while possibly built from experience, (burning one’s self,) could also be Social (having been instructed.) We are not yet ready to define what “love” is, nor do we need to in order to make our point: Whether the paradigm being considered is seemingly as complicated as “love” or as apparently simple as “fire burns” it can and often will be built from both S and X.
It could be that you’ve learned of fire from benign associations such as those previously mentioned or you could have watched your parents burn to death when you were four, sometimes it’s not what we learn but how we learn it that speaks to the power of the paradigm. There are also, as in the case of the child who watches his parents die in a fire, possibilities for influence to build paradigm, despite the intention of the parents themselves. Whether or not influence is intentional and regardless of it being subliminal we only care to be aware of it, controlling any power it might have over us. It is to be expected that certain extreme paradigms are more influential than others, there is no reason to suffer from indefinite interference unless you lead the unexamined life. We must continue to ponder the two essentials: Influence and experience.
Our next term in the generator is L, for learned. To learn something is to absorb, develop and remember a paradigm. It is the processing of new data. There are many different ways to learn things and two very different L’s in our generator. In the simplest sense, you can either learn something, with or without the influence of others. Every Social norm, every S paradigm is a Learned paradigm. So where you may have learned from first hand experience that fire is hot and what a burn is, it is unlikely that you would develop the idea that an offering to the God(s) should be a burnt sacrifice, without having some sort of Social influence. (Yet, at some point, obviously, someone must have ultimate authorship of the idea.) An area where the definition of a social norm is such as this, becomes easy to recognize as being social. If, for instance, you were taught by someone else that iron could be heated to the point where as, when pressed against an open wound, cauterization could occur, this too would seem to be an SL paradigm. It can be, but there are multiple levels of associations possible for this “Cauterization” paradigm: You could have just “heard about it,” and had no direct experience with it, IE: you never saw it work, never had it happen to you. You could have required it to save your life and very painfully experienced it directly. Either way, it is a Learned paradigm.
The difference is Social norms that can be experienced fall into the L that resides in the middle, connected to both S and X, experience and influence. Social norms that cannot be experienced must go into the L on the right side of the philosophy generator, dangling by themselves, products of only ideas. At some point in time, one individual came to understand the utility of cauterization, how is irrelevant, but for him, that was a learned experiential paradigm. When he shared that information with someone else and so from then on to unknown numbers of others, it became an SL.
Compare the discovery of cauterization with the realization that someone at some time developed the idea that burning a living creature alive might, in some way, influence unknowable yet feared forces for the better. It could very well be that the initiator of this “Sacrifice” paradigm did experience the idea as some sort of epiphany. Perhaps it was even a religious experience in the convincing sensory format of booming voice, burning bush. This, for that person, would be no less of an eXperiential norm. That is not what we are contesting, but rather that because the experiencer cannot share the direct experience that it must be defined as a Social norm. One cannot, at least as far as we are yet aware, deliver said booming voice or burning bush for others to assign as XL in the same way one can demonstrate cauterization. Therefore, we must take the bearer's word on the matter which, by definition, is what makes it and keeps it SL and furthermore, un-experienceable. It is, at the least, possible for cauterization to be XL. It can be said that the direct link to the source is what determines whether or not a learned social norm can be experienced directly and thus be more easily authenticated and evaluated.
Before we move on to the next symbol “N” let’s take just a moment to be clear on the difference between learned social norms and learned experiential norms. We will, as per the standards of a doing philosophy, plumb the depths of each of our definitions soon enough. Having no proper understanding of words such as “experience” or even what it means to “know” something, one might think that there must be learned paradigms that are picked up by groups of individuals, simultaneously. For example, if we imagine a tribe of island dwellers, cut off from any other peoples, viewing, for the first time in their tradition, a solar eclipse. All of the tribe is seeing it at once and for the group, the eclipse is an learned social paradigm that they cannot recreate, but they each, individually had the experience as an XL. Contrast this with asking Bob if he loves Sally and vice versa. A recounting of love is as abstract as tale of a solar eclipse, yet because we are able to go to the source we can experientially learn the reality of what love means to the lovers. We cannot ask the moon what it means by passing in front of our sunlight, nor can we make it do so. If we live in a time or place where no one can rightly explain what an eclipse is, we have no hope of understanding the reality of the phenomenon.
Even if we can fathom the scientific nature of an eclipse, in our times and positions, we still must define our understanding of it as a Social norm, unless we have experienced one ourselves. Now imagine that you are that primitive island dweller and you are being told by your elders that you must sacrifice a virgin to the volcano so that it doesn’t swallow the sun again. The relevance is revealed in the trust you have for the source and when you have experiential doubts as to someone else’s social norm, evaluation is all you have. One can only know something through experience, otherwise it is essentially a belief. This distinction, as it will turn out, creates the opportunity for Anti-Social Engineering. All belief must be evaluated.
What is it we mean when we say an association, idea or piece of an idea is natural? By the requirement of the Philosophy Generator it must be, at least, be exclusive of something learned. We already know, or are expected to know that which is natural. We are all creatures of instinct. There are certain things that we are “hardwired” to know, to accept, to use. While it can properly be argued that there are natural paradigms that can be learned, it must not be that this is the case for the philosophy generator, as it already has a category for learning, both with and without influence. It could be that you consider learning baseball as natural as learning to love, it isn’t. Nature provides what we need inherently, the needs we create are unique, special and extraneous. As these provisions are separated in life, so are they in the Generator.
So let’s now examine the far left of the Philosophy Generator’s footing, where Paradigm is proven eXperiential and finally determined to be Naturally occurring. (Synonyms for which we can accept autoNomic or Necessary.) This category, by its associative ties, cannot have any social aspect to it. The types of paradigms that fall into this category are the things that without, we would not be possible, or if you prefer, the “Intrinsic Essentials” of a species. For eg: 1.) Pain hurts. (Pain has a purpose, it is a warning system to protect from harm.) 2.) Many species offspring are loved. (So they are cared for and protected. 3.) Lion’s roars are intimidating. (So you avoid them.) 4. You must hold your breath under water. On and on the list goes...
It does seem somewhat of a misrepresentation to suggest that all natural systems, or even species have any particular necessity that remains inherent in all members. So I’ll remind you that we are particularly interested in the human psyche and the social interactions that stem from it as I gently prove to you otherwise, none the less. For, despite there being life forms on this planet that surely couldn’t care less about one or more of the four above proposed necessities, I submit that, for all those beings and more, there will always be a set of rules that existence will either insist upon or will come to accept. (For instance, a fish isn’t going to care too much about holding his breath underwater but it has its own set of problems when the net pulls it up.) Thus when sourcing paradigm to be a naturally occurring experiential norm, one can confidently claim that to class as such, the association must be, if not necessary, then universally adopted or exemplary.
So that while the bio-mechanics of life tell us that “fire hurts,” it is also no less instinctual or reasonable for us to behave exemplary, such as we care for our young and generally don’t eat our spouses. Naturally occurring experiential norms develop necessary paradigms, because we have determined this in our definitions we may now all but completely disregard them, for what reason could we find to make evaluating them valuable?
It should be coming clear that we only really need to take a good look at our learned paradigms. Before we can continue it is of the utmost importance that we can appreciate the value in knowing the difference between the two types of learning illustrated by the philosophy generator. We must understand that no one can be teaching us these paradigms for them to be experientially learned. (For if someone was teaching us, while this would be an experience we were having, it must be considered in the S column, as it is not self-sourced, it is influence.) This might seem clear now but it is easy to forget later that these learned experiential norms are not the same things as learned social norms. Keep in mind the root letters of these concepts and what those letters symbolize. A learned experience is done on your own without Social interaction. Learned experiential norms are the lessons that experience has taught us, the things we’ve come to understand, alone. Remember, just because it’s learned doesn’t mean it’s taught and just because you believe it doesn’t mean you know it to be true.
Learned experiential paradigms are secondary to our Naturally occurring norms because all humans have N, they are necessary! The development of experiential paradigms, by the limitation of not being N means that each individual person is going to have unique results. So while N tells you pain hurts, L tells you that fire is hot. Where X and N say offspring are loved L teaches that you can love a spouse, a nation, a God. Where experience and nature say Lion roars are scary, a learned understanding can explain that where there are lions, there is meat. Finally, having to hold your breath underwater could lead to learning that said lion won’t chase you into said water. We will shortly come to find that all paradigm can be connected in some way, with only the limitation of a Social norm that can’t be experienced.
The philosophy generators’ ability to classify paradigm and source provides a valid method to help evaluate the worth of a particular opinion, moral or position. Even from within our strict definitions and encompassing scope, the device is not an “answer machine.” The mechanics of the PG will not always provide you with definitives. So, in our philosophy as in our lives, we must exercise our Assignee’s Prerogative. Once we begin examining the rules our definitions create the generators’ utility becomes expanded somewhat. Let’s look at the chart again as we begin to discover the byproducts of the rules of our definitions.
I must point out that we are, at this time, dismissing defining the final term in the generator: U, save to say that it, through a complexity requiring its own definition, for now will be put as “that which is good, right or true” and specifically not the opposite. If you prefer you may think of U, for now, as being generally positive and ~U as being generally negative. U stands for eudaemonia which is a Greek word and idea, first commented upon by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics