Quora answer: When did everyone start calling programmers “engineers”?

Feb 20 2014

Software Engineering came in when the Software Crisis became an issue and the idea was to put more Engineering into software rather than ad hoc programming, coding or hacking. It turns out that the part of the work of writing the line of code is just a small part of the job, and the quality of the product has a lot to do with everything else that goes on around the writing of the code or programming. Also eventually degrees in computer science became the way to get into the field more and more so that people were trained like engineers are trained to produce software more and more all the time. It was also the influence of the Software Engineering Institute whose purpose was to bring more discipline to software development. They came up with the CMM and then the CMMI and started appraising organizations as to their software maturity, and you could not get a contract with the government unless you were appraised to be of maturity level Three at least. This has not spread to Systems Engineering and Hardware Engineering despite much resistance. The resistance was so great that it spawned Agile and then Lean approaches which were directly opposed to the Software Process approach espoused by Watts Humphrey based on the work of Deming. Agile and now Lean have attempted to throw off the process yoke, but many of those issues that caused Software Engineering to be founded, to make Software production more than a craft are coming back with Agile at Scale issues. In other words if you are creating web sites you just do not need to do things that a traditional engineering approach would say are necessary, like Requirements Engineering, Architectural Design, High Level Planning, Documentation, etc. But if you are creating larger systems where multiple teams have to cooperate and synchronize and collaborate then these things become necessary again in some form, so people are working out the Agile way to do these things that were first introduced under the guise of engineering. But actually Hardware Engineers never did the things that were developed in Software Engineering until they were forced to by the CMMI when it was applied to everyone. The point is no matter what you call it, creating software is a special kind of craft which is hard to raise to commercial and production standards.

The reason why, which I go into in my paper on Software Engineering Ontology that is part of my book Wild Software Meta-systems (see http://works.bepress.com/kent_palmer) is that software has a special ontological status. There are different meta-levels of Being, and these have been described in Continental Philosophy much to the chagrin of Analytical Philosophers. These are as follows:

Pure Being — Parmenides Static

Process Being — Heraclitus Dynamic

Hyper Being — Plato’s Third kind of Being in the Timaeus, DifferAnce of Derrida

Wild Being — discovered by Merleau-Ponty in The Visible and InVisible

Ultra Being — The existential core of Being

What I discovered when I finally understood how CPUs work which I learned by programming designing and programming real time systems in assembly language was that they are based on the interaction of pointers and accumulators, and thus exemplified the pointing of Pure Being and the Grasping of Process Being that Merleau-Ponty talks about in the Phenomenology of Perception where he tries to make more concrete the present-at-hand and ready-to-hand of dasein in Heidegger’s Being and Time. It turns out that hardware embodies the first two meta-levels of Being, and that means that Software is the embodiment of the third meta-level of Being, i.e. Hyper Being, e.g. Differance of Derrida which is an interval of differing and deferring, or what Paul Simon calls “slip-sliding away”. We get this analogy when code is compared to nailing jelly to a tree

Urban Dictionary: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=like%20nailing%20jello%20to%20a%20tree

[http://www.atomicshrimp.com/st/content/nailing_jelly_to_a_tree/].

Object Oriented Design

See http://ulocal.kmbc.com/_Nailing-Jello-to-a-Tree/photo/3065337/62690.html

See also http://www.flickr.com/photos/16849615@N02/3405307141/lightbox/

Code is something very malleable because it has very few physical limits and most of its limits are discrete mathematical or to do with relativistic space and time constraints, or underlying computing machinery constraints. Basically you can do almost anything, represent almost anything in code if you are clever enough. And if you cannot do it in a given language you can invent another language that allows you to do whatever it is you want to represent. If you cannot directly do something in code then most likely you can simulate it. In code because the same formalism represents both the Turing machine and the Universal Turing machine (operating system) it means that there is a degree of freedom in the production of source code representations that is normally just not there in most material things. It is interesting that the difference engine of Babbage which Lady Ada programmed at least conceptually was based on a Jacquard Loom by which patterns in fabric were mass produced. Basically any kind of pattern you want to produce can be produced by our modern difference engines that we call computers with software in them acting as little conceptual machines that control the hardware. We can think of software as basically a state machine and a stack (read tape) that manipulate pointers and execute hardware operations on operands in accumulators. We impose on this micro-dance that weaves together patterns into larger patterns many layers of conceptualization until we get up to a software design that we can understand which is doing something for us and providing some accordance in our world we would not have otherwise, like the cell phone in our hand or the world wide web, or a working ATM machine.

But when we think about software itself what comes to mind eventually is that software can rewrite software transforming it, and it is in this case where it starts to become like jelly. In some sense the nails of our design concepts have a hard time pinning it down and so we develop an object oriented approach and package the jello in boxes and use it that way.

Now the interesting thing is that software is the only object in our culture that embodies Hyper Being. And what is amazing is that no one appears to notice the emergence of a new kind of cultural object that never before existed, until Lady Ada put her pin to paper and tried to figure out how to program the difference engine. Notice that Differance (differing and deferring) runs on a difference engine. Our calling them computers after the ladies who used to do calculations by hand and whose jobs were taken over by these mechanical beasts because if there is no error in the program then the answers are far more accurate than any computationalist could manage. Difference engines are actually a better name for them than computers. They weave threads of pointer and accumulator operations together one use of which is to calculate, but this is just one very narrow use, predominately we see them as communication devices rather than calculating devices. But the uses of them are actually endless, as we find more and more uses of them to offer accordance and thus transform our lifeworld.

Now, when we realize that the nature of the computer and its code together is to push us into Hyper Being and out of the machine dominant culture that preceded the computer dominated culture, where computers are machines that can be reprogrammed and that can actually reprogram themselves, which is why I believe my Grand Mother called them “re-puters”. Once something takes on a life of its own in this way that pushes us further into Wild Being in which things take on a seeming life of their own, and we chuck those things out of Software Engineering into Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Life or Artificial Sociality. It is this ability of code to reference itself and rewrite itself that makes it like jello not only the fact that it can represent almost anything either directly or as simulations with very few restrictions. Coders are those who dealt directly with the encoding and decoding of the assembly level instructions originally via punch cards. Programmers appeared when people could first set at terminals and enter the code directly into the machine via a coded interface like ASCII characters. Programmers dealt with languages discovered by Chomsky rather than the coding and encoding of assembly instructions. Then we started building bigger and bigger systems and SEI tried to get us to put some discipline into our work and used Engineering as a paradigm for transforming programming all the other work necessary to build large systems which software engineers did, of which programming was only a small part. Eventually it was realized that development had a lifecycle and that there were certain phases that you just had to go through in order to get a product that worked in the end. And that is why the term software developer came in, as someone who does everything that is necessary to get working code out the other end and there was a dichotomy introduced between developers and testers because it was thought best to have someone else different from the developer do the testing of the code. But of course testers were also writing code to do the testing. So software engineer became the generic term. Basically you can decide if you want something that is coded, programmed, developed and tested or engineered. These are both levels of abstraction and they are also levels of rigor and discipline as currently understood. There are hackers who try all sorts of things to achieve their goals, and are not necessarily systematic about what they are doing. Coders suggest some level of systematization because you are taking a model of what you want to software to do and are encoding it into the language of the machine. Programmers have a little broader scope in as much as they are dealing with higher level languages and there is some sense that they are not just coding in a model but actually programming the system to do something that is desired by someone else. Developers on the other hand along with Testers are creating larger systems of many parts that work together, and they develop a larger scale system that works because many different things are done beyond just programming the system, like testing, like reviews, like documentation. They develop a whole system that end users will use and customers will buy, but the scale of it may not be very large and the performance aspects not the emphasis. But if you decide you need something realtime and large scale then you pretty much have to fall back into engineering practices with their extra rigor and discipline. Ironically it was software engineers who introduced this rigor and discipline which is now being absorbed by other disciplines such as Hardware engineering, or at a higher level of abstraction Systems Engineering. It is not as one might expect that these terms are random, but they developed as the discipline of software engineering developed step by step and based on the technology available at different stages and the rigor that is needed for the task at hand. However, we still use all the terms and the semantics has continued to shift as new terms are added to the mix. For instance, Software Engineering includes within it requirements engineering and architectural design as up front activities that developers might gloss over and programmers would not necessarily see as part of the work of programming software. Also the heart of Software Engineering is in my view Realtime systems that become relativistic if there is no global clock in the system. Very sophisticated architectures are necessary to make those kinds of system work. But with multicores this is becoming commonplace on desktop systems. All the new languages have tasking built in. So what were simple batch type systems, or then applications, are now very sophisticated in how they farm out the work to tasks and tasks to cores, and so something that started off as only necessary in Software Engineering has now become ubiquitous in our attempt to sustain Moores law when it becomes more and more challenging to continue increasing performance exponentially.

Software Engineering puts limits on the jello aspect of software, and excludes anything that is strange like self-rewriting code, neural networks, expert rule systems and other artificial intelligence techniques. Software engineering as it exists with computer science as its basis is a real research program that has gone through several paradigm shifts from just code it, to structural and functional models of programs, to object oriented, and now in things like Scala (read Haskell) back to a mathematically functional model of how programs should work. And also with Agile in a reaction to the CMM and CMMI from SEI there is a social ideological revolution as well that is trying to take us back to the roots of coding and programming when they were black arts that no one understood, and thus really little control could be exerted on how the work was done as we have attempted to do by introducing engineering models into software. But as we move out of that social paradigm change into Lean and Agile at Scale models then the same problems that Software Engineering was meant to deal with come back to haunt us and so some of the deprecated practices that Agile wished to throw out are slowly being realized that they are necessary in a transformed way within Agile at Scale and Second Generation Lean (Reinertsen Flow) environments. So now we see hybrids like Agile Software Engineers rather than Agile Developers being sought by larger companies. Can you get the befits of Agile and stay true to the paradigm shift of the Agile Manifesto and Agile principles as well as apply the rigor and disciple necessary for large scale software product development. All this is a trial and error process unfortunately as the pendulum swings back and forth between effectiveness (Agile) and efficiency (Lean) and between freedom from managerial control (Ashby’s law) and necessary discipline taught as a harsh lesson due to repeated failure. City codes only exist because of disasters that happened without them. Outliers can produce extraordinary results but Probabilities kick in on large scale, sometimes truly global, systems that the CMMI was designed to handle in the face of factors like learning curve, employee turnover, the fact that the system needs to last for decades, etc.

What I believe is going to happen is that Agile and Lean are going to be reabsorbed by Software Engineering and then eventually even Systems Engineering and the paradigm shift will fundamentally alter how we work. But whatever benefits we can gain in the short term will be overwhelmed by the ever increasing scale of what we are building so that rigor and discipline will have to be part of it as well, and practices like Requirements Engineering, Architectural Design, Verification and Validation will come back with a vengeance to become part of our transformed way of working. The escape from rigor and discipline as well as necessary at scale practices like Requirements Engineering, Architectural Design, High level Planning are all coming back as we can see in Leffingwell’s Agile at Scale Framework as seen in Agile Software Requirements. An excellent book where you can see this happening right before our eyes is  Lean Architecture: for Agile Software Development James O. Coplien, Gertrud Bjørnvig. Here the Use Case is reintroduced and justified piece at a time and then a new design discipline called Data Context Interaction (DCI) is introduced based on code injection that better models the actual use of the software by the users in the code. So the culture wars in Software are far from over as the new paradigm of Agile/Lean/Flow slowly takes hold. It is a social change that seems to me inevitable because it reintroduces the concepts of human scale back into software development, the model of humans as computers is slowly losing its grip on us, and we are starting to realize that we have talents not yet dreamed of by by our cyborg friends who are our creations. They have not yet started to dream of Electric Sheep. But we are dreaming of Beautiful code, teams, design etc. and actually smelling the problems in the code. I think we are entering a truly fascinating chapter of the development of software expertise whatever the title is that you associate with it. But that is a social paradigm shift were we are rediscovering our human limitations but also the creativity and the miracles we perform when we overcome the impossible in the technological infrastructure we ourselves have built, and as we continually bootstrap ourselves to keep up with and to keep reinventing the technological infrastructure based on software that is re-factoring our worldview.

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Quora answer: Does the multiverse theory clash affect evolutionary theory or can they run concurrently?

Feb 20 2014

I think this question needs to be clarified.

I think it is now pretty certain that there is a mutiverse that somehow gives rise to our universe in the Big Bang and we can consider the fact that the universe is still accelerating in its expansion due to dark energy pouring in from somewhere as the greatest evidence for that. But whatever the multiverse is it is not spacetime as we understand it in our universe, and no one knows what it might be, and the chances of ever finding out are somewhat slim.

Now the thing about the Universe that we do know is that the whole thing is entangled because it all had an origin together at the Big Bang. The fact that everything is entangled lends credence to the idea that everything interpenetrates within the universe which is held for instance by Fa Tsang in Hua Yen Buddhism where emptiness is equated with interpenetration. This interpenetration is now thought about in Physics as the Holographic principle and the idea that the universe as three dimensional may be a projection off of a domain wall and that the dimensionality of our universe may ultimately be an illusion.

What we are discovering slowly is that Quantum Mechanical phenomena is not restricted to the micro world and that there are quantum mechanical states in macro phenomena that actually affect macro outcomes. For instance it was recently seen that there is quantum moment in photosynthesis. I am fairly certain that we are going to find that Life itself is based on these quantum phase shifts at the macro level in and out of entangled and superpositioned states.

If that is true, and we find more phenomena like that where Quantum Mechanics counts as having macro effects as Penrose suggested it might for Consciousness in the brain then there is a good chance that quantum mechanical phenomena will end up being linked to evolution in some way.

According to Deutsch in The Fabric of The Universe the multiverse is actually manifest as interference in Quantum Phenomena.

And we know from Kauffman At Home in the Universe that we are dependent on Order arising from nowhere to create life via Negative Entropy.

So, given these sources and what they have said I could envisage a theory that says that the multiverse is seen in our universe as Quantum interference, and Quantum interference occurs even on the macro level, and that somehow speciation is linked to that quantum phase shifts at the macro level, because Evolution has this strange punctuation that was incorporated into the theory by Gould. We do not know how punctuation works when lots of different species are suddenly created, many of which die out, but these speciation events leave their mark on evolutionary history.

For a long time they said that snowball earth was impossible because if it ever occurred the planet could never get out of it. But now we know it has occurred twice. Before they found out that the universe was still accelerating in its expansion physicists would have thought that was impossible. Even the researchers who discovered it couldn’t believe it at first. So there are many strange and hard to believe things about our universe that we are finding. For instance it was only when we found the microwave background radiation that the Big Bang became the dominate theory. It is discovery of the unexpected that drives science. Occasionally we get something like the Higgs particle that was predicted, but the real drivers is not what is predicted by theory but what we discover exists that we would never have guessed like Super Conductivity that took twenty years to explain convincingly. So I would not rule out the idea that there may ultimately be a connection between the Multiverse and Evolution of Species. But as someone else expressed it is hard to think what that might be at this point when thoughts about the Multiverse itself are so new, and since like string theory we won’t be doing experiments any time soon where we can test the various ideas that are being developed. But the very fact that we are taking seriously the idea of the multiverse is a wonderful expansion of the reach of our imagination in science as was string theory itself.

I predict that what we will find is that there are quantum moments all over the place in life, where life takes advantage of some quirk at the quantum level to increase its efficiency and effectiveness of its negative entropy order production. And if more of those quantum shifts are found like the one recently reported in photosynthesis then macro quantum states are going to become more and  more important for explaining now inexplicable things like life, consciousness and social phenomena in species. And the more QM takes on this role in things like Biology and if it turns out that D. Deutsch is right about Quantum interference being multiverses interacting in the substrate of our universe, then the more people may talk about the role of the multiverse in shaping macro phenomena such as evolution within our universe.

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Quora answer: Why is it that so many people today are unable to see or are unfamiliar with the true nature of reality?

Feb 20 2014

As said before True nature of Reality is using Being against itself and is like saying the being nature of being, it really does not mean anything even though it sounds as if it does. What we have to do is realize that both aspects appear in relation to Being and Existence. Existence is ultimately non-dual which allows us when we grasp that to escape the illusion and the fiction of Being in relation to existence. But the Real Truth and the True Reality is only seen when we realize that existence is neither aspect nor anti-aspect, i.e. neither true nor fictitious, AND neither real nor illusory. The aspects relate to existence by their negation. Existence is nondual and thus is the subject of enlightenment under the interoperation of emptiness in Buddhism or void in Taoism. The true nature of reality or the real nature of truth only has ultimate meaning with respect to existence. In existence they mean the same thing because Existence is singular while Being is made up of Universals and Particulars.

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Quora answer: What is the (true) nature of reality?

Feb 20 2014

First of all saying True nature of Reality, is a problem because both of them are aspects of Being. Being is illusion. But Existence also has the same aspects without the illusion. So instead of using one aspect against the other we can contrast them both in terms of how they show up in existence which is different from how they show up in Being. In Being the differential between aspect and anti-aspect is emphasized. In Being we have the quintessence which is both aspect and anti-aspect at the same time. But existence is neither aspect nor anti-aspect at the same time. The nature of existence is nonduality, which shows up either under the interpretation of emptiness or void. Either way the nature of existence is interpenetration and thus that is the true nature of reality when we take away the illusion of the difference between aspect and anti-aspect.

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Quora answer: What is reality?

Feb 20 2014

Saying what reality is in isolation really does not get us anywhere, everything has meaning in context. So the context for Reality is the other aspects of Being which are Truth, Identity and Presence. It turns out that the other aspects give the grounding for formal systems, and their relations with each other give us the properties of formal system which are consistency, completeness and clarity (wellformedness). When we bring the formal system into contact with reality via testing then we get three more properties which are verifiability,  validity, and coherence because those are the relations between reality and the other aspects related to the formal system. Reality is about testing. Via testing we verify and validate a given formal system in relation to reality. The best way of talking about this is that of Robert Rosen in Life itself where he shows that causality and logical connection are both forms of entailment and thus category theory is a good way to think about the connection of the formal system to the natural world.

So Reality is just one aspect which gains its own meaning by its difference between itself and the other aspects and though its relation to them based on the properties of formal system and their properties in relation to testing against nature.

It should also be mentioned that there are meta-levels of Being: Pure, Process, Hyper, Wild and Ultra and that all the aspects transform emergently at each of those meta-levels. Thus Reality is different depending on the meta-level you are approaching it on. And this is why reality is so hard to pin down. It participates in the higher logical type theory of Russell which defines different types at different meta-levels to resolve the paradoxes and absurdity of Being. The types at each meta-levels are the emergent transformations of the aspects of Being.

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Quora answer: What is the Integral Theory?

Feb 20 2014

Integral Theory: What is wrong with Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory?

Integral Theory is a sham. It is a poor excuse for not thinking.

Now that we got the basic negative attitude toward it out of the way, we can look at the phenomena more dispassionately.

Integral Theory is the opposite of noduality. Integral Theory doubles dualism to create a four-fold category system that supposedly covers everything in the universe. It is supposed to be “integral” because it covers everything in this huge umbrella categorization. That categorization is based on the doubling of the basic mind body duality of the western tradition, the I-it, into the We-everything. Non-duality on the other hand questions exactly these kinds of distinctions and posits that there is an alternative to them that is not comprehended by that doubled distinction.

There is nothing “Integral” about Integral Theory.

If we use the B. Fuller definition of Integral which is basically Tensegrity and one step up from Synergy, then what is Integral is something that has dynamic structural resilience. Doubled dualistic distinctions just don’t have them. Dualisms are not robust because they cause the world to fall apart into realms that cannot be put together again.

We do not need a big categorical umbrella that covers everything. It is nihilistic because it levels everything to itself, and thus covers over differences that do not fit.

So what is Integral Theory, it is sophism, pure and simple and Plato warned us about sophism. But of course if you don’t know anything about our tradition then that warning is falling on deaf ears.

What is better?

Well just plain old dualism is better than the intensification of Dualism that so called Integral Theory proposes.

But what is much better than dualism is nonduality. Non-duality says Not One! Not Two! Not Many! and certainly Not Four!

What it does is that it problematizes making  any distinction at all in the first place, even a distinction that would posit “Oneness”.

An example from modern philosophy is Badiou’s idea of the Multiple in Being and Event. It is the heterogeneity prior to countability. It is based on his critique of Deleuze’s so called false heterogeneity of the rhizome in the Thousand Plateaus or Anti-Oedipus behind which is a Univocal Being. Instead Badiou substitutes Set Theory as the basis of understanding Being, but posits something before the difference between the empty set and the null set, the basic dichotomy out of which set theory produces the numbers.

But there are many nondual systems in other traditions, like for instance the idea of Emptiness in Buddhism and the idea of Void in Taoism, or even more sophisticated ideas such as those in DzogChen or Fa Tsang’s Hua Yen Buddhism.

The best work on the complexities about making distinctions is that of G. Spencer Brown in Laws of Form along with the work of Bricken and Hellerstein. Basically this is a rediscovery of Pervasion Logics of India within our tradition.

So lets talk about Sets and Masses. These are duals of each other, where Sets emphasize difference between Particulars within a neutral upper level structure called a Set. On the other hand masses emphasize the sameness of instances within an emergent mass. Both of these have their own logics. The logic of sets are syllogistic and the logic of Masses is pervasion logic. This pervasion Logic is the type of logic developed in China and India independently but is more or less unknown in the West but appears more or less as Venn Diagrams in our tradition. Interestingly higher level Venn diagrams are incommensurate and so that means that Pervasion Logic has a hidden complexity that set theory lacks.

The nondual between these I have called Ipsities in an Aggregate, where the Aggregate is an instantiation of a Multiple of Badiou. Examples of ipsities in an Aggregate are flocks of birds, schools of fish etc., where the ipsity is a Kantian singular. Anything taken as Suchness in relation to its nondual heterogeneity with respect to other things with which it has a Wittgensteinian Family Resemblance would be an Ipsity. We indicate them by saying This or That with respect to the indicated Thusness.

Now most natural things are ipsities in aggregate swarms. The way that these are understood traditionally are as Tattvas from the Shavite tradition which became the Dharmas in Buddhism.

So from this it becomes clear that nonduality does not mean that we cannot say anything, or indicate or conceptualize what it means. Rather nonduality has structure and can be talked about like we talk about dualities. We choose to talk about things in terms of duals in our tradition and that is not the only answer, with a little bit of care we can indicate the nondualities around us without falling into dualistic fallacies where we are talking about nonduals in dualistic ways.

Statements we know from the Buddha are examples of this kind of nondual talk, where it is called skillful means. The example is the Tetralemma in Buddhism which was honed into a logic by Nagarjuna.

We say X, not-X, both X and not-X, and neither X nor not-X not all at one time as Aristotle said in his Metaphysics but one statement at a time as appropriate in a conversation such as those held by the Skeptics like Sextus Empiricus. The Skeptic like the Buddha is one whose speech ultimately closes to become equivalent to silence. This silence of the Buddha on questions like what whether there was a god or not, and other antimonies showed that there was an alternative to the antimonies of Reason which leads to dualism and nihilism. Nihilism is the production of artificial extreme dualistic opposites that are in conflict and contradiction with each other, which we realize are really the same. See Rosen’s Nihilism.

Emptiness is what is beyond or prior to the distinctions of the Tetra-lemma. So it is something that cannot be touched by distinctions, and thus it problematizes all distinctions. What is indistinct is suchness, and when we indicate it then thusness, and when we distinguish it then it becomes this or that.  Emptiness is the answer to nihilism that uses nihilism against itself. Nihilism must start out with distinctions that it intensifies into nihilistic opposites. But if we do not accept the first distinctions by which the nihilistic opposites are built up then we disarm the production of nihilism and do not allow it to arise in the first place. Emptiness tries to get us to go back to that original already always lost origin prior to making distinctions in the first place. In nihilism the dualisms, or doubled dualisms when we realize that they are the same then we experience alienation and anomie, i.e. loss of meaning and loss of our position in the group that accepts the nihilistic distinctions we come to reject. if we don’t allow the nihilism to arise then we don’t experience that loss of meaning and our place in the world that nihilism leads to. Buddhism tries to help us see how that is possible, as does Taoism, DzogChen, Zen, Hua Yen Buddhism, Sufism etc. in different ways.

But we do not have to appeal to Non-dual traditions beyond our own to come to the same realization. What we have to do is to reject dualism, and the intensification of dualism like we see in so called Integral Theory, and cling to the nondual in all cases. Nonduality is in Logic as the discontinuities between the Logical Operators. Once you realize that the discontinuities between and, or, nand, nor is real and cannot be gotten rid of by any kind of argument logical or otherwise, then it is just a matter of realizing that it is emptiness that makes up those discontinuities, and the discontinuities in their essence were merely the Void before the striations of the Logical Operators arose. So there are two kinds of nondual interpretations of Existence which are Emptiness and Void, where void is prior to the arising of the differences between the logical operators and emptiness is what exists as the real distinctions between them once they have arisen. DzogChen says that this difference itself is a duality and thus moves to resolve it back to suchness.

As Badiou says the One and Plurality arise out of the Multiple via the appearance of the ultra-one (with Ultra Being). The arising of the Ultra One is an emergent event. Emergence is the dual of Nihilism and thus hyper-Nihilistic. So Ultra Being is a singularity in existence that distinguishes Emptiness and Void. The only way to get around this is to posit that there are deeper nonduals beyond Emptiness and Void which we can call Manifestation. This is the tact taken by DzogChen and Fa Tsang in Hua Yen Buddhism and by Sufism in Islam. We use Manifestation in the sense defined by Meister Eckhart, see The Essence of Manifestation by Henry. Eckhart was in our tradition and so we can appeal to him to understand deeper nonduals within our own tradition without having to appeal only to non-Western sources. But of course Eckhart was influenced by “Heathan” Sufis. But since Islam is just a nondual heresy of the Western tradition, by going to Sufic sources we are not really leaving the tradition, but only appealing to its Other, which based itself on its own Othering of dualism.

All this is to say that the way we can know what Integral Theory is, is by understanding it in relation to nondual traditions and their formulation of the nondual. And when we do that we realize that conceptually it is an intensification of dualism, and thus an intensification of nihilism, and therefore not a good route to go down from a theoretical point of view. The reason it is popular is that it takes the dualism of the Western Tradition and doubles it and then presents it back to us as if it were something new. It is nihilistic when we realize that it is merely the repetition of the dualism that got us into trouble in the first place which was the dualism between mind and body, which is the premise for the Republic of Plato as a decent into Hell. Socrates is going down to the harbor of Athens to see a new foreign goddess brought into the city for the first time. It is on his way back from this descent into Hell that he is stopped forcefully and the dialogue ensues at the home  of his host about the nature of Justice, but which basically sets up all the structures necessary to articulate the Western worldview. But all these structures are based on the primary distinction between mind and body, which is precisely what Descartes instituted as the basis for Modern Philosophy which he instituted which was taken up by Kant and has been in place ever since producing the major problematic of the Western Philosophical tradition which has worked to overcome that dualism in different ways. Integral Theory reveres this problematic and produces an category system that merely intensifies the dualism rather than trying to overcome it. So all the progress our tradition has made, for instance in the attempts of Heidegger to get beyond subject/object dichotomy with the idea of Dasein in Being and Time is lost. And what we get instead is a nihilistic classification system that really does not tell us anything we don’t already know about the world, and thus locks us in even deeper into the inherent nihilism of our tradition rather than setting us free of it to make non-nihilistic distinctions as nondual traditions attempt to do.

In effect so called Integral Theory is poison for the intellect. The fact that so many have eagerly drunk that cool aide and stopped thinking due to ignorance of their own tradition, is not surprising, but is a sad commentary on the anti-intellectualism of our age and just how lost we are as what Nietzsche called the Last Men who just stand blinking . . .  blinking . . .

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Quora answer: What is wrong with Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory?

Feb 20 2014

I think what most people don’t realize is that Wilber’s theory is an intensification of dualism. It distinguishes between subject and object (I-it), and then intensifies that by taking it to the group level of we-things (its). This is an intensification of the subject-object dualism, and thus a step back philosophically into a more intense dualism. An alternative is nondual philosophy such as is explained by David Loy in his book Nonduality. And now we have to say not just nondual but non-integral in order to avoid the intensification of dualism by taking it from the individual to the group level. For an example of a nondual philosophy see Nondual Science Institute

See also Kent Palmer’s answer to What is the Integral Theory?
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Answering the question of Corrie K. Campbell:

The first level of dualism is I-it, and does not recognize Buber’s distinction between this and I-thou.

Second level of dualism is We-things, which merely introduces unthinkingly plurality on both sides of the equation, intensifying the I-It duality stated at the first level.

Now plurality introduced this way is a quirk of English and is no way universal, and so to create a whole categorical system based on it is on fairly shaky grounds to begin with. But then to take this arbitrary pair of crossed dichotomies and somehow think it describes “reality” is somewhat ludicrous. Philosophically it is overly simplistic and untenable. But of course it is popular with new age types who do not know their own tradition and are basically ignorant of philosophy in general.

Most disturbing this step backwards into intensified duality is presented as if it were a way to understand non-duality, which is false. In this sense it is a farce. There are a lot of peddlers of non-duality out there who have no idea what they are talking about and Wilber is one of them. But what is so ironic is that while he talks occasionally about non-duality (as being all four modes together) what he is really doing is taking a step back from the progress made in the western tradition already, and not understanding the import of truly nondual philosophical systems at the same time.

So to me this whole thing is akin to snake oil. Utterly useless. Leading folks into greater ignorance, and a great example of the intensification of nihilism. It is a also an excellent example of where not thinking will get you, i.e. lost deeper in the mire of dualism, even worse than the Western tradition is on its own, all in the name of taking in everything and categorizing everything, when actually he is merely sucking the meaning out of all the system he is trying to encompass, many of which are actually meaningful in themselves, but merely become accouterments in his overarching system based more on hubris than any real insight.

It is sad that the general public that takes these ideas of intensification of dualism seriously are so ignorant of their own tradition, and the other traditions that are being exploited in this imperialistic categorization of everything that Wilber can pontificate on these issues without being laughed out of the room. This is in stark contrast to the French for instance who have contributed significantly to the understanding of our tradition over the last sixty years or so since WWII. Americans taken in by this new age rubbish just do not know how ignorant they are, not just of their own tradition which is being ignored, but of the other oriental traditions that are being exploited. Isn’t it time we put away childish toys, and actually did the hard work of coming to terms with our own tradition, and the other traditions that have genuine nonduality and tried to understand at a more profound level, which will never be captured by categorizations what is at stake?

Our dualistic tradition, cannot escape the train crash that is going to happen when it has to come to terms with actual nonduality. Intensifying nihilism and dualism will not save it but is merely denial. What is actually happening is that many significant Buddhist texts are now being translated that were preserved in Tibet. This Tibetan tradition which has been part of a living tradition since the Buddha, is a formidable opponent of the Western Dualistic view enforced throughout our history by Inquisition and  murder and genocide of all advocates of nondual positions, as well as radical dualists like Wilber.

Normally what happens is that Western scholars just do not study oriental philosophies and so it is then easy to avoid the uncomfortable ramifications of those approaches to knowledge. But in our globalized post-colonial world where we have access to primary texts the best of which are those of Mipham, eventually scholars are going to realize that Buddhism is far more sophisticated than Western philosophy, and they will have to deal with what Hinduism dealt with long ago with the advent of the Buddhist Heresy which is the fundamental significance of nonduality. And when that occurs not only dualism but all the superficial intensifications of dualism born out of denial will be wiped away, and we will have to start over to understand who we are the core of our existence beyond the illusions of Being.

At that time it will be incumbent upon us to focus on taking what I call the homeward path, which is the path of realizing the nondual kernel of the Western worldview itself as a resource for dealing with the shattering of the illusion of dualism and its intensifications. I am advocating leaving childish things like Wilber’s overweening and bloated categorical imperialism behind and to attack this problem ingrained dualism genuinely from its Western roots sooner rather than later.
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Further response to comments

I don’t think psychoanalysis of me will make Wilber’s work any more interesting or valid. If you are adherent, then I suggest you look at the ingredient of the concoction you are buying, prior to consuming it. Until you asked I was leaving it more less for people to read between the lines, but since you asked that suggested I needed to be a bit more viperous.

Snake oil it should be noted was something that Chinese workers used to sooth their work worn muscles, but it was taken up by Whites, who added all sorts of crazy ingredients. Eventually there were so many kinds of snake oil that those who prided themselves on actually doing something worthwhile put their ingredients on the bottle, and that is where the idea came for putting ingredients on products that were sold. There needs to be a little truth in advertising with respect to pseudo-philosophies of this type. SeeHow Snake Oil Got a Bad Rap (Hint: It Wasn’t The Snakes’ Fault)

They attempt to comprehend everything, as sure sign of sophism.

They intensify nihilism, in this case by doubling dualism, rather than coping with nonduality which is the key point to be contrast with dualism.

They are ignorant of their own tradition, i.e. know nothing about the progress made in Western Philosophy, which by the way dwarfs these pseudo philosophies.

They do not build on what went before but pretend to bring something new, when it is in fact just false pandering to the ignorance of the masses in the form of supposed knowledge.

They actually make things worse rather than better for those who embrace these false ideas, because they think they understand something when in fact they are made more ignorant by the idea.

Sure sign is when everyone accepts it without question that they are substantive, even though no one can say why.

Categorical systems like this with no substance is where we began with the Pre-Socratics, so it is as if they are staring all over again.

They are imperialistic like old dogmas because they intend to include everything in their category system.

They do not question where the categories come from, or what allows these distinctions to be made, other than they were made by fiat by the sophist.

They ignore all the warnings that Plato gave us about sophistry.

They are examples of the intensification of nihilism, i.e. eventually those who adhere to them will accidentally learn something about philosophy and see that they are meaningless and at that point they will produce alienation and anomie due to their inherent emptiness.

Actual philosophers are not understood in their times, cf Socrates, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, etc. They are engaged in attempting to make non-nihilistic distinctions within their traditions on the cutting edge. They assiduously to the extent any philosopher can try to avoid sophism, but occasionally engage in it ironically, and sometimes fall into it by accident after trying to avoid it. They are not running for a popularity contest, or trying to sell books by saying what others want to hear, but instead say things that others do not want to hear like Ken Wilber does not know anything about anything because he tries to talk about everything and pretends to know how to categorize everything in his ‘system’.

Philosophers start with the premise of their own ignorance as Socrates established, and they work on the problem of their ignorance exclusively. And then eventually they discover what Socrates did that they are the only ones who do know anything because at least they know what they do not know. Everyone who pretends to know, is in fact just fooling themselves and others.

Ken Wilber is an excellent example of someone who not only does not know, but in fact increases everyone’s else’s ignorance because they follow him into that unknowing, unknowingly, thinking he must know something because he says so.

When I realized that the basic point that Wilber makes was to increase dualism rather than to confront nonduality then I thought it was a good idea to point it out, especially when I realized how unpopular it would be, because he is almost universally approved. I am afraid that someone has to burst the bubble by calling a Sophist a sophist.

It is not a blind spot in myself. In fact for a long time I was totally disinterested in Wilber, because he had nothing to say of any interest. But then I discovered that he was actually taken seriously by someone who should know better, and so I decided that I should actually speak our just so the chorus of applause was not universal, because someone needs to say the simple fact that this emperor of categorization has no clothes, i.e. no ideas worth repeating. The fact that he uses nice buzzwords like Integral is all the more reason to be suspicious. And our suspicions are confirmed when we discover that this word actually has no meaning because it is used to describe everything he does.

And we know that we are on the right track when we see his marketing apparatus in action selling mentoring for a fee by himself and his adherents. If people would just read Plato, and his challenge of the Sophists of his time, then people would save lots of money, and also know that if they are to find the truth they must do it via their own thought and hard work themselves confronting their own ignorance, rather than buying snake oil (‘enlightenment’ or in this case endarkenment like core mentoring to gain sublime Integralness) from every shyster that comes to town.

If they are charging for it you should be wary. Only data and information can be sold not knowledge, nor yet wisdom. You have to work yourself for the latter. That is why we pay to go to college, because knowledge is work one does oneself. There are many small time sophists in college class rooms But there are also many more good teachers that do their best to lead their students to knowledge as they understand it, but they cannot make them drink at that fountain. Those that teach well impart information and techniques of learning, but one forges knowledge oneself, and this is also true of wisdom only that is much more rare and occurs when knowledge confronts reality in a lifetime of experience that allows one access to the non-representable intelligibles beyond the representations that we come to know.

Sophistry says instead that it can confer knowledge and wisdom for a small fee. In school just because a tea her teaches a subject they do not guarantee that the sudden will get it, but instead they devise tests to attempt to gauge how much the student has learned. The tests are about knowledge, information, skills, techniques, but nothing guarantees that all this turns into knowledge for the student, but the chances are much better if the curriculum is passed by the student successfully.If they are charging for it you should be wary. Only data and information can be sold not knowledge, nor yet wisdom. You have to work yourself for the latter. That is why we pay to go to college, because knowledge is work one does oneself. There are many small time sophists in college class rooms But there are also many more good teachers that do their best to lead their students to knowledge as they understand it, but they cannot make them drink at that fountain. Those that teach well impart information and techniques of learning, but one forges knowledge oneself, and this is also true of wisdom only that is much more rare and occurs when knowledge confronts reality in a lifetime of experience that allows one access to the non-representable intelligibles beyond the representations that we come to know.

Sophistry says instead that it can confer knowledge and wisdom for a small fee. In school just because a tea her teaches a subject they do not guarantee that the sudden will get it, but instead they devise tests to attempt to gauge how much the student has learned. The tests are about knowledge, information, skills, techniques, but nothing guarantees that all this turns into knowledge for the student, but the chances are much better if the curriculum is passed by the student successfully.

Let me give an example of a very popular book that is in fact good, which is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance [Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance]. In that book the author is struggling with understanding and he takes us along for the ride, literally. The fact that he attributes his idea of Quality to Plato rather than Pepper is a small point compared to what he teaches us about Gumption and about having the gumption to confront our own ignorance, and to learn knowledge and wisdom ourselves from that. An excellent example of someone who shows this in an outstanding way is Eric Hoffer the longshore-man philosopher who shows us that anyone from any walk of life can obtain this knowledge, wisdom, insight, realization one must forge oneself.  Hoffer had the kind of Gumption that Persig identifies. And this is an exemplary characteristic of the Pragmatic American philosophical tradition which includes Peirce, James, Dewy, and Mead but is most pure in Hoffer. See Eric Hoffer.

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Quora answer: What is the process that takes place in our brain when we dream?

Feb 20 2014

Seems like you have a lot on your mind.

For my response, a tangent –  see Dreamtime: What is the Dreamtime?

What are all these ceaseless questions saying about you?

Being in an analytic frame of mind, I think it says you are not dreaming all this!

There is a nightmare lurking here, that your question might be classified by unkind administrators.

You apologize in advance . . .

For having too many questions . . .

What question, does your questions, ask of you?

Wandering around in a nightmare world called “Quora” with just so many questions on your mind, you stop. Should I ask those questions? Will the Admins chastise me? But I must know! Yet there are so many questions that need to be asked all at once. They spill out despite the rules. Despite what others might think.

But suddenly I wake up within this dream, suddenly lucid, and realize that this nightmare “Quora” is not real, but a figment of my own imagination. There are no others to answer this question, I must research the answer myself. I must read those books and articles myself. I must learn enough to answer my own questions.

But perhaps, just perhaps there is a nice person out there who will take my questions seriously. Who will realize that these are not just any old questions about dreaming, that I dreamt up. But specific questions that need to be answered for me to sleep soundly again.

Suddenly, someone posted an answer. It did not make any sense, but seemed meaningful all the same. I wondered in my dream, could this be the answer I was looking for all along, just not able to formulate it properly. Not able to articulate the longing for a meaningful answer . . .

Such is the dream your questions lulled me into . . . a strange dream where a plethora of questions and nonsequitor answers collide . . .

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Quora answer: Dreamtime: What is the Dreamtime?

Feb 20 2014

http://www.mediafire.com/view/?iitvnjfld4npc99
{experiment in meaning}
http://kp0.me/StrVl0

See also Dreams and Dreaming: What is the process that takes place in our brain when we dream?

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Quora answer: Hegel — What are some good examples of the thesis, antithesis, synthesis process?

Feb 20 2014

This appears in Hegel’s Logic which is much more systematic than the Phenomenology of the Spirit/Ghost/Mind. The point is that there are really four moments. So at the beginning of the Logic there is Being and Nothing where “Nothing” explicitly means Buddhist Emptiness, i.e. existence. Out of that comes the synthesis of Heraclitian Flux, and then there is a jump to Dasein which is determinate being. This continues over and over up the ladder where each posited new thesis calls up an anti-thesis and then combines into a new synthesis.

The idea is that the Synthesis encompasses the Thesis and Anti-Thesis. This occurs by sublation (Aufhebung) which incorporates the conflicting opposites and rises above them but continues to include them. This method is designed to incorporate and include contradiction at each level into higher syntheses that solve the problem of the contradiction without eradicating it.

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