My Big Ideas

  1. Some presuppositions
    • We have no words for what I will be talking about [ 5-31 ]
      • And yet I want to talk and think about it. WTF!
      • But would it follow that you and I will not be able to understand what I want to say... even if e think we do?
      • We think we can talk meaningfully about anything and everything. ("We'll just make up a word!") How can we think this? How can this be true?
      • We think the universe is there for our comprehension.
      • How would I demonstrate there are things we have no words for? All we would have would be misunderstandings, or partial understanding.
      • Things our minds cannot comprehend, like a million people. We cannot sum up the incomprehendable.
      • We cannot understand our own multi-processing where we a thinking | processing many things at once, whereas our understanding is of one thing at a time.
      • Our words are highly extensible.
      • Of course we can make up new words: querressa = Things I cannot understand. And I am inventing words myself.
      • The inexpressible, Summation words
      • What does it mean to say something is inexpressible?
      Nor can we fully understand it.
      • Understanding has a large subjective and cultural component.
      • It is not simply "correct" (or correct | true) they was a math answer is "correct"
    • Talk | think
      • I will use the vertical bar ("|") so separate and join related concepts in my talking | thinking.
      • Thinking is a fuzzy word that can mean a number of things (to use a bad metaphor).
  2. >On philosophy

    • What is the world like?
      • This is foolish question
      • This is foolish question we do not find foolish at all.
      • The reasons for this are manifold.
      • It is easy to assume a questions like this has an answer, when it more properly has many possible answers
      • The "world" is a hopelessly vague and fuzzy concept
      • We need to stop thinking that many seemingly nonfoolish philosophical questions are not foolish.
      • We need to get a "better nose" for foolish philosophical questions
    • What is philosophy? and philosophical understandings?
      • Philosophy is just answering these kinds of questions
      • By philosophy I mean not only traditional philosophy, and its modifications in academic field of philosophy, but all talk of the world writ large, in religion, politics, social and even physical sciences, and the ruminations of any moderately intelligent person.
      • There are, have been, and will be a great number of these "philosophies"
      • It needs to be explained ho this is even possible.
      • As well as the fact that this is not seen as either a scandal or a sign of philosophies' fundamental meaningless. We should not assume that there is something that can or should be called a "correct" or "true" answer to these kinds of philosophic questions.
    • How do we change a philosophical point of view?
      • A philosophical point of view (or "philosophy") is a nexus of interconnected thoughts and words and understandings and assumptions.
      • The conceptual nexus has several dimensions, which will be discussed further below.
      • The reasons for its adoptions are manifold.
      • The ability to think in nexuses comes from our constant multi-processing minds.
      • To change a philosophical POV you need to redefine or rather, reassociate, all the thoughts and understandings and assumptions that make up all the versions of a POV
      • To do that is like transversing a landscape, or finding one's way around a city.
    • The landscape metaphor
      • Wittgenstein's landscape metaphor
      • Making one's way around a landscape is a fundamental metaphor for humans,
      • It is a metaphor, and as such draws us into pseudo-understandings
      • There are many soothing delights in the landscape metaphor
      • There are many metaphorical "landscapes"
      • Assumption in the landscape metaphor: we understand a city
      • Assumption in the landscape metaphor: we understand the landscape metaphor
      • Philosophical understanding NOT like a landscape in that there us no "there" there.
  3. Words are fuzzy
    • Why look at words?
      • I don't want to talk about the word "mind" ( or "_______"); I want to talk about mind (_______)
      • The animus towards Ordinary Language Philosophy is either ignorance, indifference, or fashion.
      • Words mislead us with false analogies.
      • Words mislead us with our false understanding of what words are.
    • What are abstract words?
      • There is a tendency to say that all words stands for things.
      • That is how we teach words to things.
      • But this is not how we teach language. Children learn to language as part of their largely unconscious development.
      • Some words do not stand for things... such as "language"
      • Most of the words we use in philosophical discourse do not stand for things.
      • Having said this, neither should we assume that all abstract words work in the same way.
      • How do we determine if a word is abstract?
    • Abstract words are fuzzy
      • Why do I call words "fuzzy"?
      • Fuzzy is not at all the only metaphor to be used about words: I could also use: low-resolution, multi-criterial, slippery, rainbow words.
      • Think here of a fuzzy Venn diagram, in 3-D, of varied. constantly moving shapes.
      • Think here of a fuzzy Venn diagram you cannot comprehend.
      • Fuzzy words can be made clear only through misunderstandings.
      • As you zoom in to fuzzy words you do not find greater detail. After a while you do not see the forest, but only then trees.
      • What you see is what you get.
      • This distinguishes abstract words from reality.
      • Most abstract words are fuzzy.
    • Abstract words are metaphorical, metaphorically speaking.
      • By definition, if a word is metaphorical it is like the thing to which it refers, but it is not the that thing.
      • and "like" is a very fuzzy word.
      • Abstract words are not primarily metaphorical, although some of them may indeed be metaphors, but they are metaphorical to themselves: they are "like" themselves.
      • Abstract words do not describe the world.
    • The mind is a nexus of connections, which strum, or resonate.
      • Words, thought, people and places are all nexuses of connections, here one thing leads to another.
      • These connections are not so much a connection of things as connections of nexuses.
      • We have a picture that determines a basic understanding of what that words mean. Other uses of the words are "like" that basic use.
      • We can say that each word or each thought is like a cord of words and ideas and connotations (judgments, emotions, nuances).
      Problem for this book
  4. People are multi-processors
      People are a multi-processing experience. For one thing they can turn on you. These processes are not actually processes (although the word is deeply vague).but they are "like" processes. We speak AND we listen with our multi-processing minds.
    • We a multi-processing being
      • The human being, an evolved body | mind | cultural | world being, is a multi-processing being.
      • Let us begin with the concept of multi-processing. Our brain has in indeterminate number of processes that go one all the time that affect everything we say, do, or understand. Most of our actions } reactions affect multiple-processes at once. Many are capabilities, many other are guardians, or processes of precedence.
      • We are speaking here in words of processes that have no names and which have combined and evolved to serve the needs of the human animal (the manimal). They did not evolve rationally. We actually have no words for how our minds work. They are unnecessary, ( until philosophers came along extending our linguistic usages in their demands for a fact-based "understanding" of "the universe." )
      • This theory is hardly new. My understanding is based on Marvin Minsky's aptly, if ultimately misleadingly, named book, The Society of Mind (1986). According to this view, the human mind (and other naturally evolved cognitive systems) are a built up from a "society" of individually simple processes known as agents, or resources.) These processes are the fundamental processes from which "minds" are built. But "mind" is another abstract word which we will avoid for now.
      • Processes are involved in every aspect of the human mind. They can be simple as a child stacking blocks, to an adult building a house or to an engineer designing a skyscraper. None of these take place in vacuum.
      • Let us review some points about multi-processing:
      • (1) There is no central awareness and control. There is no central viewpoint in the mind that monitors and processes input from all these processes. There is no process (consciousness) that knows what all these processes are, or are doing. What we can call consciousness is the result of a huge number of agents.
      • (2) There are vast numbers of processes going on in our minds/brain. They control everything we do, whether we are aware of them or not.
      • (3) Many processes are always at work at the same time. Not only are many things going on at the same time, many more than we are ever consciously aware. There are processes monitoring these processes ready to step in when things go wrong. Which implies there are other processes to measure when things go wrong.
      • (4) We cannot enumerate these processes. There is no way to enumerate the processes and there are no words for them. Perhaps it is not possible to enumerate them, as a process may be used or practically used in other processes as well, just like a part of a computer and some basic routines, may be called upon in many diverse programs.
      • (5) We are unaware of them at many levels.: We do not know what these are. Many of them check up on others when processes go off line. A huge number are social, involved in our relationships to other people.
      • We do not know how to conceptualize them. Scientists do not have a workable theory of how the mind works. A good guess is that in part the mind is a computer.
      • (6) The processes can be repurposed and used in an unknown, and probably unknowable, number of ways. Just as we can use words to create an unknown, and probably unknowable, number of sentences and works of art.
      • (7) We are currently unable to describe exactly what the processes are. We do not know much about how this works. There are logical aspects, chemical aspects, hormonal and developmental aspects, all working together somewhat simultaneously. But partly this follows form the very nature of multi-processing: So many things are going on at once, and being processed simultaneously. How can anything like this be described in real time?
      • (8) The processes have developed both biologically and socially over time, and this development is heavily involved in those processes. It is not like we accidentally acquired raw processing power. What we acquired (through natural selection) was the kind of processing power that first of all was useful for the existence of the proto-human social group.
      • (9) These agents work at both a micro and a macro level. At the macro level such a set of processes are behind the workings of language use. Many processes, mostly unconscious, work together to create human speech acts in their vast complexities. If language takes place against the background of both human interactions and human understandings.
      • These agents work at both a micro and a macro level. At the macro level such a set of processes are behind the workings of language use. Many processes, mostly unconscious, work together to create human speech acts in their vast complexities. If language takes place against the background of both human interactions and human understandings.
      • (10) The processes must also be involved and fully engaged in our language use. Since language seems to accompany almost everything we do.
      • Think of the human mind as a unspecifiable number of processes that are processing data (or ready to process data) at any given time. These include processes of power, danger, sexuality, tribality, herd-instincts etc. They are not just reactive agents.
      • It turns out, the unexamined life is living.
      • (11) There is no master plan here. The system grew, with redundancies and false starts. Occasionally the system is at odds with itself.
      • "Is this intelligent design?" Hardly. . . though aspects of it defines what intelligence is.
      • "Is this description of the human mind even true?" It is true that we do not seem close to creating an artificial mind based on this (or any other current) rough model. We also know that the human brain is also regulated by chemicals and probably blood flow of ways that have yet to be fully determined. But the "society of mind" outlook seems true according to what we can call descriptive psychology, and it stands in useful contrast to the traditional philosophical views, many of which treat the mind as though there is some kind of person inside the mind who "runs" the body like a complicated machine.
      We cannot understand or conceptualize multi-processing
      • There are many processes going on all the time.
      • Our conscious mind may be able to switch between a few processes at a time, but our minds themselves are processing many many processes simultaneously, some of which are our conscious processes.
      • Consequently we can never keep up with all of our simultaneously occurring processes in our somewhat linear minds.
    • Our social understanding is integral to our development as a "manimal," a social animal
    • This poses problems for this book
      • We must speak | think about fuzzy words using fuzzy words.
      • There can be no better words.
    • Our understandings are flawed
      • We do not understand understanding (many things at once)
      • Understanding is contextual and social
      • We practice an active family-resemblance to understanding
      • Ways of not understanding
    • We are ignorant
      • Conceptual ignorance
      • On looking at koi
      • There are things in front of our noses we do not understand
      • We hide our ignorance from ourselves
      • We do not understand language
      • We do not understand the world
      • We do not understand our minds: the conceptual universe
      • We do not understand understanding
      • We do not agree on fundamentals
      • We do not understand language
        • Assumption of language: concepts stand for things
        • Assumption of language: concepts can reflect reality
      The manimal
      • Why the "manimal"
        • When writing a philosophy book, it is customary to begin with the individual, to appeal (as one individual to another) to another person's soul or reason. Our individuality, our uniqueness, our personal responsibility, our "atomicity" are deeply ingrained in our intellectual culture. (Though once we think about it, our culture, as we shall see, is the counterbalance to our individuality, and is part of our herd behavior.)
        • But we are also part of a blooming species.
          I will call this species, the manimal.
        • This is a neologism, whose purpose is to shake our understanding of ourselves (as it was/is) and place more focus on the animal | unconscious | biological | instinctive parts of our human nature and selves.
        • Being a manimal is something we, the language using members of homo sapiens sapiens, all have in common. These animal parts are fundamental to actual human nature, even as most human discussions traditionally remain mostly unaware of them.
        • There is nothing all that new here. Just a refocusing on aspects of our nature that we tend to overlook and which are essential if we are to understand the social world, and our understanding of the social world. The social words underlies not only our day to day uses of language, but also is grounded in the very origin of language.
        • The next sections will focus on some of the many aspects of being a manimal, and make an easy dismissal of this part of human nature less easy.
      • Humans have a strong cross-cultural tendency to think of themselves as special, as children or creations of a god. What if we did not think of ourselves as special creation in the universe? Could we even do that? Our specialness is part of the survival instinct of our tribes. Humans are not dropped onto the earth here like an iPhone who then have to figure out all our apps and OS. (Though we do have to make sense of our nature.) We evolved here, and we share many apps with our fellow animals and manimals. Disavowal of evolution of is also a denial of who we truly are and of the complex mysteries of existence.
      • Humans Are A Kind Of Animal
        • Humans (whom humans also call "we") are animals.
        • "Of course. Humans are rational animals. Aristotle knew that." Yes — but no.
        • Most thinkers are quick to drop the "animal" essence of"our" nature to concentrate on the "reason" part: a well-loved, often sublime, if limited and misleading part of human nature.
        • But our animality, our existence as a group animal, permeates the worlds in which we live, while we, 'rational' as we may be, remain relatively unaware of it.
        • Our animality is a constant presence.
        • Humans are also animals of understanding. There is an intellectual, and not just a biological, aspect to being an animal.
        • Humans are manimals with characteristics that include:
          • an animal that lives in social groups
          • an animal that responds instinctively to the world and equally instinctively to a large variety of group dynamics. (Much of this instinctiveness goes unnoticed by the human Manilas.)
          • an animal that has all sorts of ideas about itself and its role in the world. Most of these ideas are wrong, or at least extremely limited, inconsistent and scatterdash.
          • an animal that is nowhere near as intelligent or rational as it thinks it is. It is clever at solving puzzles (like sudokus) yet weak at seeing its own nature. It is especially weak at understanding the responses of fellow manimals.
          • an animal facing a number of serious problems it is not clear it is capable of handling
          • an animal that likes to think of itself as rational, yet in most aspects of its life, and many deeply important aspects of its life (governance, religion, morality, the future) is not. (Our "reason" doesn't explain much of our behavior anyway.)
        • We shy away from our animality, as we shy away from our "bodily functions."
        • To call someone "an animal" is an insult.
      • Who We Think We Are
        • Humans have numerous ways of looking at themselves.
        • Most of them, at least in Western culture, involve seeing themselves as atomic and isolated creatures: we are first of all a soul, a person, an individual or a self. This is a creature is defined by its intellect: its understanding, its reason and its will.
        • Our biological definition echoes this: homo sapiens: the wise/intelligent man
        • Humans prefer views of themselves in which human beings are important.
        • Though occasionally aware that this may not be true, whenever we are threatened or think about ourselves in a "deep and serious" way, or human lives are in danger, we take ourselves and the existence of each and every one of us as having a supreme and self-evident importance.
        • We often think of ourselves as children of a super-powerful "god." And we depict this god as something like a human, just much much more powerful. We think of ourselves as an important part of the universe.
        • And we are important
          (to ourselves
          (to a fault.))
        • Our traditional understandings... and our traditional religions,
          are unaware that human beings evolved as an animal,
          let alone as a social animal.
        • Remarkably, we barely notice that.
      • Why Do We Not Know We Are Animals?
        • We know we are animals in a bodily sense.
          And now we know we are animals as a product of evolution.
        • We do not know, because we do not see,
          that our self-esteem, our decisions, our mind, our judgments, our feelings, our use of reason and even our individuality, are permeated by our animality.
        • Perhaps it is frightening for us to think of ourselves as animals.
          Our understanding of animals is mechanistic, simplistic and irrational.
          We define ourselves against this concept.
        • And we have achieved our current position on the planet by using and abusing other animals.
        • Admittedly we are a unique animal in some ways:
          • we use a complex language
          • we carry around with us an image (an understanding) of ourselves and the world
          • we are the dominant animal, albeit a timid one, on the planet.
          But that does not make us not an animal.
        • Our understanding of ourselves is deeply comforting. It absolves us from thinking about what we are doing.
        • We are a social animal, yet in our present manifestation, we are a a deeply fragmented one.
        • We are unclear about what society in which we exist.
        • It is no longer the simple family, though "family" is still an honored concept (even as it is permeated by dysfunctionality and fragmentation). We re-establish something we call "family" (and "friends") even as we substitute the virtual for the actual.
      • Why Do We Need to Think We Are Anything?
        • We carry around something like an image of ourselves. a picture or a narrative of ourselves, an ideal, an object of constant comparison. Perhaps it is more of a judgment or a description—or a story. Some we are proud of, some embarrassed over.
        • We have a number of these pictures, that vary with our age, mood and (most importantly) our context (or situation).
        • (How we do that is mostly unclear to us. Nor do we have words to cover this aspect of our existence.)
        • We can compare these images. With those others have of us.
          The images we have of others are important ones—often determining our actions.
        • At the same time, our image(s) are up for discussion and clarification throughout our lives.
        • We realize we could perhaps live without such an image (without an ego if you will), but it would be difficult. And this is just one more image of ourselves.
        • We use this image as one way to manipulate and manage ourselves. Some of these images are personal, some are general. It is an interesting fact that historically speaking, our general images are nearly always wrong. We still are not all that comfortable thinking of ourselves as an animal. It is formed through cultural tradition and wishful thinking. Often the image involves being a special and noble creation of the god(s).
        • It is equally interesting that the fact that the image is wrong does not diminish its efficacy.
        • So why do we need a self-image? We may not need one, but most of us have one. We are given one, or several, in the course of our lives, as we are given social roles. And the scales of judgments are given to us as well. It positions us within our society(s).
        • It is impossible for most of us to imagine living without a self-image.
      • We Are Primates
        • Everything we know about biology, zoology and palaeontology tells us we are a kind of primate. We use a distorted vocabulary here. "Prime-ate" itself is an ideologically charged term, (like the term "primitive societies.")
          Humans are just "common-ates",
          no more important than anyone other being
          except of course to ourselves.
          (And who else matters?)
        • When push comes to shove.
          When we decide between water for farmers or water for rivers to keep an endangered species alive,
          we choose water for people.
          Just like any other animal.
        • We are animals in the pejorative sense. And as a healthy antidote to our traditional image of ourselves as an exceptional being, a special friend of god,
          and instead of looking for human traits in primates,
          we need to notice the ape traits in ourselves.
        • So then, what are 'primates'? From the biological view, the defining features of primates apply more to the individual primate than to the social systems they invariably inhabit. You can see an overview of primate social systems in Wikipedia. What you cannot see is how we display similar traits in our daily contemporary lives, and the importance of these behaviors in our own social existence.
        • As a healthy antidote to our traditional image of ourselves as an exceptional being, a special friend of god, and instead of looking for human traits in primates, we need to notice the ape traits in ourselves.
        • As our continuing studies of surviving primates, and discoveries of earlier hominids, it is not clear we fully know what our fellow primates are either.
      • Manimals are tribal
        • Like other primates, we live in bands.
        • And we have all sorts of hooks built into us related to band behavior.
        • We are tribal by nature. It is instinctual. It consists of a deep, complex, and unknown series of behavioral propensities of which we are mostly unaware.
        • Awareness of our group behaviors is hidden from us in part because of our beliefs.
        • We believe we are atomic individuals who make up our own minds independently of others. We have no sense that if we lived in a different time/culture we would be completely different individuals.
        • Our awareness is not of our cultural dependence, but of the social loyalty groups within that culture, such as a nation, a cause, or a religion.
        • What we have is an ego (a self) determined by other members of a group. (Our world will be easier to comprehend if we introduce this notion.)
        • We can call this the alterego (not to be confused with older uses of that term). When I speak of the alterego, I am referring to the part of ourselves that is determined and influenced by others, usually without our conscious awareness.
        • Our group behavior comes into play anytime we deal with groups such as families, friends, bands, nations, crowds, communities, teams, armies, organizations, on-line communities, etc.
        • And as I shall talk more about later, our sense of others is vastly modified through our media.
      • Manimals have strong herd instincts
        • We humans grudgingly admit we have herd instincts.
        • Here we think of a herd of cows (or a school of fish). We think of this as a minor flaw that we need to keep in line. If it only were That simple.
        • We seldom form a physical herd. That is only the metaphor we use and have in mind. We act as though this is something that does not apply to us, the humans. We do not follow the crowd in our bodies, but in our thoughts.
        • We cannot usually lose ourselves in a crowd. We are usually aware of the individuality of the persons next to us. We are still engaged in the individuality of that possible relationship. We do not see the sociality of our experience.
        • We cannot be as a school of fish. Except perhaps in coalitional behaviors, like certain sports, or in a musical group.
        • But it goes way beyond that. We are deeply and essentially a social animal.
        • We do this through our culture.
        • Because herd behavior and pecking order come from animal realm (negative associations) tendency to see it as something to be overcome, whereas it's something to be admired: as a flock of birds or a school of fish, or a quiet herd of animals surviving in inhospitable areas.
      • We have in us programs to be alpha males even as we also have programs to be beta males. We have a desire to rule and perhaps a greater and more common desire to worship. Our ego (and our concern with our status) testify to how deeply we are attuned to the judgments of other people. We can say and think we are above animality, just ignore things but even our feelings of superiority are an animality thing of status.
      • Manimals have a pecking order
        • As group-oriented animals, with an alterego, here used in the sense of having our sense of self determined to a large part by other people, human beings have a keen sense of pecking-order, or status.
        • Partly because we live in ideological egalitarian societies, we seldom speak of this. Most recent psychology ignores this.
        • Since most of us are not at the top of a pecking-order we may find it psychologically easier NOT to be too conscious of this. After all, we are frIeNds with our favorite television characters.
        • Besides, we are members of many groups. Our order may change depending on the group. but in each group, we soon become aware of our status.
        • We join groups where we a higher in the pecking order.
          We do not remain in groups where we are low in the pecking order.
        • Pecking-order is part of our ingrained awareness of, and response to, the other humans around us, which I call groupings.
        • Our pecking-order is in play when we find ourselves using words like:
          • respect
          • power
          • strength
          • authority
          • status
          • the power of a deep resonating voice
          • ruler, king, lord, president
          • celebrity
        • We speak to those in higher-power differently than we speak to our peers, or our subordinates.
      • Our coalitional (group awareness) includes: a sense of justice, a sense of fairness. Singing demonstrates coalitional skill. The parts of music are after all the parts of different people. The power of music is in part the power of The Many.
      • Manimals understand coalitional behavior
        • We have spoken a variety of aspects of the manimal that can be called social. The list is not only incomplete, but probably essentially incomplete, as these processes are tied in with one other. If there is are a small number of processes that work together. Consider here Marivn Minsky's use of block building both a metaphor, metaphor of a prototype.
        • Tied in with our status and our otherwareness, is a keen sense of coalitional behavior. Humans are keenly aware of coalitional behavior. In many ways the, the manimal, are a coalitional animal.
        • We appreciate, or watch with interest, coalitional behavior in sports, dance, parades...
        • This is reflected in our interests in sports, dance, choral singing, warfare, marching bands and synchronized swimming.
        • It also tiea in with our status, and our other-awareness. We have a pecking-order in our coalitions. We have a pecking-order based on our coalitions. ("She's a team player.")
        • This awareness, or mind-set, plays a large and mostly hidden part in human behavior. Like herd-behavior, our coalitional behavior are only partly physical, but equally and more so mental.
        • News is another kind of coalitional behavior, and we love it!
        • Our coalitional (group awareness) includes: a sense of justice, a sense of fairness.
        • Singing demonstrates coalitional skill. The parts of music are after all the parts of different people. The power of music is the power of The Many.
        • The same faculty that makes me aware of other people, also makes me protective of the people near me. This is one cause of inter-coalitional competition and war. We are hardwired to do this. When we fell frightened and threatened. it sets off tragic chains of events.
        • Coalitional crap we have to work hard at being a marching band or a team of synchronized swimming.
        • It is not natural for us, unlike a school of fish, or a flock of birds.
      • Our sense of smallness protects us from the vastness. The world may be small, but you are much, much smaller. You are living in the small right now. (You are failing to understand the world this very second.

      • Manimals live in the small
        • We small our world.
          We live in the small.
        • We cannot but live our life in a small subset of people and friends.
          We have many techniques for doing this. We:
          • We have a limited number of friends.
          • We go through a town full of people and do not talk to anyone. And this is perfectly normal.
          • We commit to one person
          • We understand the world in regions, neighborhoods, and locations.
          • We navigate through town in a set number of stores and paths.
          • We only visit a certain number of web-sites (out of the millions that are out there)
          • We use texting to keep our world small — and preoccupied.
        • Ultimately this is because the manimal brain has only so much room for people, and has a tendency to stay with known and familiar. Our tribality demands a tribe, we recognize parents, people and those who are in our community.
        • The trouble with keeping the world small is that it is not small.
        • Part of our world we make small. We call up the phone company, our banks and our doctors. In huge stores you are a commodity. If they can hire you for less, they will, Decision made at a macro level. There is no personal involvement.
        • We don't actually exist in small bands. Yet we keep up an illusions of smallness by make our world small with friends, routines and our difficulty of meeting strangers.
        • What would it be like to know 100,000 people? We will never know.
        • In spite of the vastness of the world smallness is where we live. We have our routines and a few intense relationship to a small number of people.
      • Some things have privileged mental access
        • Our perception is skewed (and manipulated) by the fact that our minds gives privileged access to certain kinds of events.
        • If we hear that a gifted writer with a lifetime of study abused his wife, we will remember that at the expense of everything else he has accomplished. Martin Heidegger's involvement with the Nazis at the University of Freiburg in 1933-34 is a case in point.
        • If I were to tell you all about the intricate and novel philosophy of Hume, but then casually mention that he was so fat that hostesses would put away their best fragile chairs when he came to visit, you would remember that — whether it was true or not.
        • Among items we remember are
          • a person's face
          • their sex
          • their age and attractiveness
          • their ancestry
          • their job
          • their life stories
          • any scandals
          • their marriage and their children
        • These are status. safety and (social) animal kinds of things.
        • These things stick easily while other facts about a person easily drift away. ("Didn't he write a poem of something?")
      • Manimals sees the world as intentional beings
      • Manimals sees the world as animals
        • Another kind of thinking that occupies a position of privileged-access in our brains is our tendencies to think in animals.
        • One of our fundamental perception of the world is in terms of animals. As mobile agents with a minds (and not always a caring mind), intentions and wills of their own.
        • One kind of explanation for this is that of course, as we evolved among animals, as hunter and as hunted, of course we need to be aware of animals. But this explanation does not touch the depth of our preoccupation with animals.
        • We're constantly giving thoughts and intentions to animals and to babies.
        • Lemmings; we're the lemmings. We're the chickens. We're the pigs. We talk in animal.
        • Put a pair of eyes on an inanimate object, and — boom! — we're engaged.
        • We accept the intentionality of an animal as an adequate explanation.
        • What would it be to NOT think in terms of animals?
        • In a zoo you see animals. In nature you spot them.
        • We are fascinated with animals. Animals are a bit of consciousness on the fixed landscape.
        • Animals rudimentary we are animal on animal we too are an evolutionary kludge opaque not necessarily conscious in a straightforward way indifferent to humans
        • We nurture and protective our animals and then we eat them.
        • Animals were an early television set. As was fire.
        • Perhaps humans learned to love by loving animals first. Only later did they learn to love other people.
      • The manimal cannot comprehend how many of us there are
        • We are bunny rabbits in the woods: we pay attention to all noises and to all sudden movements. We are timid little bunny rabbits in the woods — with machine guns.

        Manimals are timid
        • Do you need proof?
          Go out in the woods at night, alone.
          Sit down.
          Soon you will be filled with fears, most of which are baseless.
        • We did not evolve as a courageous animals,
          like the lion, the elephant or even the porcupine.
          We evolved as frightened tree-dwellers,
          with not a lot of natural defenses like claws, powerful muscles or a thick hide.
        • Our technology is our defense,
          and now we have atomic-weapons.
        • But we are still frightened, cautious animals
          who scare very easily.
        • You can't scare a cat by showing them a gun.
        • We are most frightened of ourselves.
      • Manimals are selfish
      • Manimals have "personal" knowledge
    • Suspect Philosophical Words
      • About the word "we"
      • About the word "truth"
      • About the word "universe"
      • About the word "consciousness"
      • About the word "philosophy"
      • About the word "fact"
    • Consequences for the present
      • Virtual reality
      • Overpopulation
      • On religion
      • On nationalism
    • Consequences for the future
      • Talking | thinking tips
        • Start thinking about "{blank}" by saying with "'{blank}' is a fuzzy word"
        • Pluralize (words like "reasons," "meanings," etc.)
        • This is a way of reminding oneself that multi-processing (multi-minding) assessments are at work.
        • Think in questions. Then answer the questions.
      • We can not NOT use these abstract words. We understand them too well
      • Dangers of abstract words
    • APPENDICES
      • on Wittgenstein
      • On things "we are inclined to say."
      • On the metaphor, "society of mind"
      • Fundamental conceptual metaphors
        • things
        • animism
        • world as a situation
        • up down (but all propositions)
        • competition
        • seeing
        • knowledge and understanding as seeing
      • What is all this?
        • I tried to write aphorisms. I tried to write a book.
        • I failed.
        • My ego, which likes to think it has a sense of the objective, thinks I have something important to say.
        • I also know I do not have it all figured out yet.
        • I suspect I never will. (Who understands the world?) I suspect it is nonunderstandable,
        • Now I am writing in outline form.
        • My admiration of my thoughts gets in the way.
        • When I stop writing for a week or so I lose the thread.
        • Sidetracked by my projects, web programming and thoughts.

An ALTERNATIVE OUTLINE

He who does not hesitate... is lost.
Why hesitate?

IGNORANCE

  • We don't understand language
  • ` We don't understand humans
    • WE ARE MANIMALS, part reasoning animal, part animal
    • We are multi-processing animals
    • We can't describe our language use
  • There are many things we don't understand
  • We don't understand our understandings
  • We don't understand the nature of our abstract words
DISCUSSION OF WORDS
  • Abstract words are "fuzzy"
  • Discussions in (use of) abstract words are not true or false in the same way
  • There are things we can't understand ? there are questions we can't answer ? or ask.
IS THERE A WAY OUT?
  • How to speak | think
  • We can not NOT use these abstract words. We understand them too well
  • Dangers of abstract words
WHERE DOES THIS PUT US?

GLOSSARY

conceptual ignorance

the ignorance not an ignorance of facts, or of what is the case, but the ignorance caused by the use and understanding of our concepts

furtherings

taking a philosophical insight a step further. In philosophy there is no final understanding, as we traverse the philosophical landscape. There is only exploratory furtherings.

fuzzy word

the metaphorical (and heuristic) notion that words are fuzzy in the way pictures are fuzzy, as you zoom in you do not find greater detail. What you see is what you get. This distinguishes abstract words from reality. Most abstract words are fuzzy.

landscape metaphor

The notion, made popular by Wittgenstein, that philosophy, our conceptual understanding of the world, is something like a landscape, or a city (a human built landscape), that can be traversed in a number of ways. There is no starting point. We approach the same places from various directions. Places are tied together in a way a single journey cannot demonstrate.

nexus

an interconnection of things | words | meanings | situations. This kind of understanding cannot be expressed in a sentence, but in an interrelated net of understanding | responses | hesitations | sentences.

philosophy

thinking about the world in general terms. As I want to use the term here, philosophy includes not only some of traditional and academic philosophy, but also religion, ethics, politics and all the world-views that may seem plausible to any intelligent person.


Structure of book

  • Outline
  • Glossary
  • Drafts of chapters. Combine with drafts of essays.
  • (Quotes)

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