Archive for May, 2011

Steven Pyke: “For me, photography is an investigation into the nature of being.”

May 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Steven Pyke: “For me, photography is an investigation into the nature of being.”

Photos of Philosophers

Steven Pyke

Steve Pyke



Steve Pyke - Photographer

Steve Pyke - Photographer



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Namesake – an attempt at humor gone awry: Do you exist? . . .

May 28 2011 Published by under Uncategorized


Do you exist? We must to fit highly technical, large thought process into a very small product and service. We need you to possess broad concepts of marketing, education, branding, social media, the whole modern way of communicating in one person.

Namesake link:

Now as a philosopher I have a hard time resisting a statement like “Do you exist?”. I suppose you are addressing that to some figment of your imagination, but I cannot resist thinking you might be talking to me. But then probably everyone who reads your description of the person, who can do everything, thinks that you are describing them. It is a bit of an affront to ask others whether they exist or not. But this brings us straight to Husserl’s big problem that his phenomenology could not handle, at least at the Cartesian Meditations stage, called Intersubjectivity. Once you have bracketed everything, then you have the problem of solipsism. And to me it sounds as if you have a really bad case of that. It starts when you think you have this earthshaking idea that cannot be expressed succinctly. Then the next stage is desperation because no one else is getting what seems too obvious to you. And finally the desperation becomes too much to bear and we start looking for a savior, someone who can come in and express all the things that you have not been able to express with the simplicity and grace that is so needed to get your message across.

I know exactly how you feel. I have been there myself. Like the old man that Nietzsche describes as holding his lamp in broad daylight, being laughed at by the masses that just don’t understand what he sees that they cannot see. I have been there at the edge of the chasm beyond which only crackpots lay, out beyond the barrier reef between our world and reality, seeing what no one else can see. And like the old man is Coleridge’s tale of the ancient mariner we search for just one who will listen to our crazed story, our visions, the wonders we have seen which amaze us so. I know, brother, what you have been through and what you are looking for out there on the edge of the existence, on the headland above the world. And that must be why you say, do you exist? Do any of us exist? Is there anything beyond the fullness of this void?

I have been wrong before. And I am sure I will be wrong again. But I see from your answer that we are like kindred spirits. I too have written long posts that others would like to have simplified, and searched for that one person who can simplify my vision into a simple, concise vision, that all can understand, even the last men, the blinking ones. But no, I go on, and on, and on, and on, writing these posts that no one can bear to read, not even myself. Because the vision is too strong, and the flesh is too weak, and yes, it is fun sometimes. But no I am not getting paid by the word as did Balzac or Dickens. Yet I write for the ubermench, for the ones who see the last god passing, and the own who will come that will make my vision simple and clear, like a haiku, written on the verge of the unknown, the unknown unknown, or even the unknowable . . .

What should you know about me? Only that I like you search for the one who will make my message clear. who can cut through the wilderness of my thoughts, and be the perfect one who can do everything that is needed to get the message across. We are like signals passing in the emptiness of the night, the ones who search for the bearers of their messages, the ones who can bear the signs of what is to come, the ones who are crazy as all get out with the wondrous vision of Xanadu on our lips.

. . . . . . .

In the meantime, I could not help but think of your search for someone who could simplify and state your message, as similar to the responses I get to my long and somewhat onerous books, articles and posts, and the various comments I have gotten over the years is that all I need is someone to summarize my work in a clear and concise fashion which is an impossible hope of those who have other things to do in their lives but read this kind of stuff I produce.

It is very unclear what you are looking for, and trying to do from your description. However, I might be able to make some suggestions that could be helpful because I have struggled with precisely this problem for my whole intellectual career. I have packaged my theory, which took over two thousand pages to first describe as I discovered it, into just a few sentences, but it has taken me years to distill it down to that. And those years were joyous years of fascinating discovery and intellectual adventure. However, even though I have it down to just a few sentences, that you have to think about carefully, still people don’t get it, don’t understand its import. What you are asking for is something very difficult.

Even if you get a very simple and concise formulation it may not have the impact you desire. And the process by which something is distilled down by someone else is instead usually a transformation and interpretation that many times is wrong.

However, I will point you to my dissertation, which is called Emergent Design in which I talk precisely about this problem you have raised. It is at The answer that I come up with is quite surprising; at least it was to me. Design of complex technological systems that have many interdependencies, for instance Mars Rovers, do precisely what you are talking about. Many different technological issues are fused into a very small package, by a very difficult process involving group thinking, and teamwork many times for years. Anyway, I try to get to the heart of that process in my dissertation, and you might find that interesting, if you can manage the highly technical language, and the large and visionary thought process, that is packaged into a quite small package of a few hundred pages.

The upshot of the whole thing is this, and it is a quite surprising result, I believe. You are talking about Synthesis which is achieved according to Hegel by Aufhebung (Sublation). In that process things that appear disparate and in conflict or contradiction are subsumed into something that encompasses the whole mess that appears prior to sublation.

Now what I discovered during my research is something interesting that I do not think has been fully appreciated, but is a point brought out by Deleuze in Difference and Repetition. What Deleuze says is essentially that repetition is in actually that which CANNOT be repeated which he calls Repetition with a big “R”, and is the same repetition that Kierkegaard and Freud held in common which was the key to their thought according to Zizek. The model is in mythology of the primal giant in Indo-European myth who when he is killed gives rise to the aspects of this world though the distribution of his body into the landscape. But Indo-European myth has the idea of sacrifice as the key ritual action, by which the initial harmony (RTA) is supposedly restored by the act of dismembering an animal. You see the irony in that? We are trying to restore order and cosmic harmony (RTA) by the repetition of sacrifice which actually destroys organic unity in live animals and produces death, and dismemberment, which we in turn share with the gods. All Indo-European societies have some form of this primal mythic motif.

We are constantly trying to create emergent synthesis through reductive analysis. It is doomed to failure.

The goal of Repetition (wholeness again) cannot be achieved by the repetition of acts of dismemberment and sacrifice.

It turns out that in the design process we use pictures, plans, and models to approximate the whole form, but all those things together cannot create it.

But there is another strategy which approaches the whole form in a different way. It sees the whole form as part of a super-synthesis with the pictures, plans, and models developed in the design process. Once we form the super-synthesis then we can take that gift and unwrap it to get the synthesis of the whole form. In fact a gift with its wrapping is a precise analog to what we are saying because it has one, two and three dimensional around the gift object itself which is three dimensional. In other words the Gift as we give it wrapped is in fact the super-synthesis embodiment in our culture, and it is composed of the string, the paper, and the folded wrapping topologically by the string and paper to create a three dimensional envelope around the object of desire, i.e. the gift object itself, the desire for which is enhanced by its being veiled.

Now here is an exercise I suggest to you. Your “highly technical, large thought process” is composed of slides, a path through the slides, and the message that is inside that is all wrapped up and presented to your customer as a very small product or service. The very small product or service is the pristine whole form as synthesis. But the briefing charts you want produced that distills down the large technical thought process, are two dimensional, and the path thought that storyboard is one dimensional, and the briefing as a whole is the packaging that surrounds the large ideas that you want to get across in your clear and simple message. In other words the “highly technical, large thought process” is the whole supersynthesis which is the gift as a whole with its packaging. You want the packaging defined so that the mess can be sorted out, and you can access the whole form synthesis inside, i.e. the crystal clear, and simple ideas that your audience will get immediately.

The idea here is that the synthesis is easily split from the super-synthesis, but is impossible to achieve from the other parts of the super-synthesis that are added on to the synthesis or whole form. The implication of this is that the mess of the “highly technical, large thought process” is actually the super-synthesis itself seen by an anagogic swerve, and that if you can take that perspective on it and see through it to the synthesis within, then you can easily access the synthetic object that cannot be built out of the wrappings.

I don’t know if this will help you, but it is my gift to you for your grace in putting up with my strange form of humor that perhaps you thought was at your expense, but was really at my own expense.


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Quora answer: Do people value Twitter or Quora followers more? Why?

May 28 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I think we really have to compare Namesake, Quora, and Twitter, and Facebook. Followers on Facebook are your actual friends and family, or people you used to know but lost touch with. Twitter is the general public who follows you. They are really structural opposites of each other in many ways, and through that dualism between them we can explain their popularity. Small posts not big enough to express a thought on one, so we are left with signs and pointers and quips or aphorisms, on the other more genuine posts that have meaning for others like pictures of the grandchildren, or your old boy friend’s wife.

Namesake and Quora are also opposites in many ways. Namesake is closed, and Quora now open. Quora mediates our relations with each other through free-floating questions and answers in a nihilistic plenum. Namesake is realtime chat between selected and invited conversant. You can edit your post and perfect it, taking out the errors on Quora, whereas you cannot edit your post on Namesake. I have found no limit to the length of posts on Quora, although I have tried to test that limit many times. On Namesake there is a limit to a post of so many characters, but there is just enough room to express a whole idea. Namesake and Quora are the thoughtful alternatives to Twitter and Facebook, this gives us a very different duality. Quora and Namesakes are the darlings of the social-spherical intelligentsia, and Twitter and Facebook are for the non-discerning masses for which social media was invented so that the CIA and FBI etc., can keep track of us and our associations more easily.

Now I am very concerned about my Klout rating (which is 42 right now by the way) but Quora and Namesake interactions are not included in Klout, so I must really be wasting my time here at Quora and over at Namesake. These are like unrated movies; we watch them and participate at our own risks, because our social engagement in them has not been properly measured.

So what are we doing here anyway? Why do we need mediation between us all through Q&A? Is it because we have first burned out on email lists and newsgroups, and then after that exhausted talking into the air on Blogs? We need distance from each other and the Q&A form gives us this safety of an intrinsic distance. On Quora it is irrelevant if you follow others or are followed by them, because the fundamental organization is around the questions which you decide to answer, or read answers to. And when we have grown exhausted by negotiating this distance we can turn to Namesake, feel privileged to be there. Enjoy the clarity and meaning of real questions for a change, and engage in tet a tet that is brief, and unsustainable dialog. Questions on Quora last, they accumulate answers, reviewers who know nothing really about the subject at hand can downgrade your answers with a sovereign might. While the realtime chat at Namesake is unfiltered and final when you post it mistakes and all, which can only be deleted or left showing your errors forever.

Facebook followers matter to us because they are our real friends, family and acquaintances that we have decided to give over information about to the powers that be, and may eventually be tortured like in Syria to get our passwords, so that others can be discovered who are thinking independently or some other transgression, that compromises our friends and family and fellow conspirators longing for freedom. Twitter followers do not matter, and we can see that because they are the fundamental ingredient of our Klout score. The best example is Empire Avenue where we are sold as slaves within the meta-system of the social market for a few bitcoins on the dollar. We have our fifteen minutes of fame, or 29 seconds these days, and then we vanish back into the human information filter again which we participate in in order to get recognition in an economy of spectacle.

On Quora, we try to show off our intelligence, or our humor, in answering silly questions, for the most part that float in an endless plenum without and relation to each other. Here followers do not matter, because comments are too hard to find and see, which is our only genuine means for interaction, the comment trail of the answers or the questions to which we cling. Occasionally someone writes a post to their followers, but that is not the main attraction. For instance there is the post about this question I am answering now and how silly it is, because it lacks context, it is not part of any problematic, and it lacks relations to any other question, but merely floats here in a void of meaninglessness isolated from all other questions except to the extent it has been flung into the bin of a topic.

Namesake has endorsements and thus you can be endorsed as an expert in something, whether or not you know anything about it, just because you can dazzle them with your fancy footwork. But the followers of a question matter, because the community that these people are chosen from know each other by reputation, and Namesake gives them a chance to interact in a very direct way.

So in this structural duality of dualities, it is Facebook and Namesake where followers count, while on Twitter and Quora they do not count for anything. On Twitter they do not count because they are mere metrics within the great asymmetrical information filter as I talk about in my posts on On Quora they do not matter because the mediation is through the free-floating questions and answers, which are the focus rather than the personas of the individuals involved.

These are four monuments in the field of social media and social forums that have recently become the rage. But speaking as a sociologist it is interesting that the new social moguls know nothing about sociology, social psychology, psychology, or for that matter anthropology or political science. So they are inventing this new medium out of whole cloth and the fact that they produce Question and Answer systems without understanding the very nature of Questions and Answers, is a sign of the crucial lack of homework, and negligence of these startups in taking into consideration what we already know, when they design their “social media” through which our interaction is channeled, measured, and filtered, and approved or disapproved, as is the case with Quora. They want to bring some sanity to the insanity of Twitter, and email groups, and the other forms that have been destroyed by advertisers and spammers. Namesake does the same by limiting admission rather than filtering. But my sense is that Namesake is more in tune with the nature of its medium than is Quora. In Quora we sense the distance between ourselves and those who filter our content. On Namesake we have been filtered as individuals prior to admission. But the key to both is filtering. In Facebook we create our own filters by inviting our friends but refusing to allow in our parents. But then Facebook sells us down the river to the various advertisers to whom it has sold its soul that is seen in the very complexity of the privacy measures. They are hoping that they are complex enough we will throw up our hands and just allow all our personal messages and content meant for friends to leak out into the arms of businesses waiting in the wings to find out everything about us. On twitter it is all about self-promotion, and so we have our 140 characters for a billboard we can share with the world, and our messages are lost in the stream of billions of others that are insignificant from our perspective, but by entering that flow and gaining our Klout we lose our selves in the flow of global instantaneous information.

What stands out against this background, of structurally opposite social systems that are the main pillars of the social media landscape. Well quite clearly LinkedIn which has recently made its forums public. There we know that we are engaged in serious business when we converse about the subjects that we claim expertise in within our professional lives. LinkedIn and sites like are where our Q&A banter comes into contact with reality of our professional lives. And what is interesting is that the Questions and the Answers are very good there, and who follows who really counts. But that is the business world, the reality, from which we seek an escape.

So hopefully I have answered this deprecated Question and brought some thought to bear on it, in the attempt to turn the coal of a thoughtless question into the diamonds of substantive answers, that go beyond what the Questioner asked to the heart of the matter we are all wondering about, which is Why do we follow each other at all? For the most part these are meaningless links. We are interacting with strangers that we are unlikely to ever meet. We are creating false personas, in a virtual world, and trying to earn ephemeral Klout which does not translate into any real social value at all. My own answer is that this is a sign of our alienation and anomie, and its intensity and that Zizek is mostly right in his Lacanian analysis of our society, as lost in a dream while trapped in a fading empire. In other words our klout is precisely the opposite of what it appears, it is not our reputation but the sign of how enmeshed we are in the illusory relations that this interactive media engenders. We need the mediation of Q&A to shield us from any encounter with the Other, as we find ourself in a fairly safe environment where there are not so many flame wars, spam, porn, and all the other signs of social deterioration that appear outside this gated community. At least we might actually know some of the people on Facebook, and occasionally see them face to face. But in actuality much of it is faded and forgotten relationships briefly revived. Namesake filters us rather than our “content” building a new intelligentsia of the chosen few who are creating a culture that is meaningful but still only within a bubble.

Of all of these it is Twitter that is the most interesting. The 140 character length of messages was an arbitrary technological design decision produced by phone makers and telecom providers. We in the US seem to be the only country in the world dumb enough to pay extra for text messages, to companies that lie to us about the bandwidth they are selling us, as they seek to cap it, and refuse to give us higher speeds we need to keep up with the rest of the world. But this purely technological decision is crucial because it is just not long enough to express any ideas, because there is no room for context, so the messages are reduced to signs like @monikers, #hashtags and http://shrtln.ks and a few abbreviated words, or pointerless posts that are merely aphorisms spoken out into the void of the information stream. There due to the asymmetry of follower and followed relations we act together like a free ‘mechanical turk’ filtering the information of the world and the Internet and its web of interconnections (a true rhizome in the spirit of Deleuze and Guattari). This is what we do with our surplus time, we filter the information, as we cannot get AI agents to do it for us. There the only question is how much of that chaotic stream can you handle. But if you follow the right people you encounter all kinds of things that no search engine could ever deliver to you. So for those who have the time there is a huge benefit in quality of information to be gained. With search engines like Google, and Blekko there is an inherent limitation by the sheer volume of information on any given set of search terms. You care limited to the search terms you can dream up. But if you can stand the randomness of the stream you can encounter all kinds of things you would never have searched for in the links that appear in the twitter stream, and you can also experience vicariously events happening in the world though the tweets of others that are there. But you also get to experience all the crud that is pushed at you by idiots as well but at least you can quickly unfollow them. If we take this as the standard, i.e. information filtering then we can see how Quora fits into this ecology. People type in questions all the time into Google and get no coherent answer. Quora is designed to answer those questions, because it generates both questions and answers that will come up in a Google search. However, when someone types a question into Google and gets back random pages, they are real questions that they have in the moment that are significant or relevant somehow in their lives. But here on Quora the disconnect is that the questions are not good in many cases, because people are just making them up out of thin air, very thin air. Namesake comes to the rescue by filtering the people who are allowed to enter, and thus choosing the people rather than the questions or filtering the answers. And of course Facebook gives us peaks into the lives of people we once knew, or are far away from, or our classmates and our real friends. But even this intimacy comes at a price, because facebook has sold its soul to the corporations, and is working hard to spill your data to them, after promising many times not to do so. Therefore, the inauthenticity of Facebook is in the interface to the corporate structure of the company itself and its monetization plans. The same will probably be true of Quora, Namesake, and is becoming more obvious with Twitter lately, as they strive to actually make some money off of their ventures. LinkedIn has no problem here because it is explicitly selling access, and so ultimately is the most honest about its intentions and goals as is reflected in its recent IPO which was very successful.

Following is a false social relationship and a sign of our alienation and anomie. So the valuing of followers itself is a negative sign of our enmeshment in an illusory set of “social relations” that is merely a fantasy, or for us as a group a delusion. However, teenagers can commit suicide when they are bullied on line so this delusion has some teeth. If we were to be followed on the street we would we worried. One site is honest and calls followers stalkers. And on some sites actual followers really are stalkers. It is a dangerous world out there folks. You are followed by the secret police or by criminals seeking to do you harm, or by enemies. You are not followed by “Friends” except in a cult. So the very word “follower” suggests the sinister nature of this social construct that exists only in a virtual world, on in the fantasies of fandom that worship celebrities or rock bands.

What each of us value with respect to our followers is an index into the depth of our alienation. Facebook is obviously the least alienated on any scale, because we might actually know the people who we follow on facebook, and see them face to face on occasion. Namesake is a bit more alienated because it is interacting with people you do not know in realtime conversation where your words can only be taken back as a whole, by deleting the whole comment. But you are interacting within a bubble of those who have been chosen by the founders of this amazing service. Quora is then again more alienated due to the fact that our relationships are now mediated by Q&A where the Questions and their answers are persistent, and who is following whom, or a given question is not so important as who answers and what they say in answer even to ridiculous questions. (contextless, with no driving problematic and free-floating without a position in a dialectic within which it makes sense as a movement from question & answer to answer & question). Then obviously LinkedIn is more alienated than Quora, because it is immersed in the corporate power structures, but interestingly enough both the questions and answers are more real in that business environment because there are real reputations at stake. And then there is the alienation of Twitter, which is just a blizzard of meaningless information, that we filter in order to gain Klout. Klout is the ultimate Power in the artificial social scene as Foucault says within the surveillance society. Klout is the proper Jouissance that Lacan speaks of and which Anonymous calls LUZ which is the absurd extremity of LOL. Finally the most alienated and ephemeral, anomic and anonymous is 4chan and /b/ which actually has taken a stand against corporations (imaginary persons as undying legal entities, i.e. gods), and other injustices in the world from their headland above the world called TOR. As Dreyfus says Foucault merely substituted the concept of “Power” for “Being”, and “practices” for “beings”, and constructed an ‘epistemological difference’ against the ‘ontological difference’ defined by Heidegger in Being and Time. In the extreme of our alienation we find ourselves ultimately anonymous in a radically ephemeral world. We find ourselves alienated from a corporatist global world and we experience anomie, or meaninglessness, that is the result of the production of nihilism by our worldview. This is the extreme that we can use as the limit by which to measure these “anti-social” or “non-social” media of distance, deferment (timeshifting), and differing and mediation which embed us in a web of static relations we build as a web that enmeshes us and in which we might ultimately be caught reduced to the identities that are generated in that virtual world.



Quora: A Plea For Fewer Lazy Questions

33 votes

Asking questions and getting meaningful answers is something of an art. It’s not just a matter of banging out a sentence and adding a question mark at the end.

Case in point:

Twitter Followers vs Quora Followers: Which is more significant?

I don’t point that one out to embarrass anyone, it is just the question that finally pushed me over the edge to write this post.

Post by John Morrow on


Response by Kent Palmer:

Ahhhh…… Precisely what I have been saying Quora = Bad Questions + Good Answers. There are lots of reasons for this but the Scariest is that Quora itself, i.e. the people behind the scenes here, do not understand the nature of questions and the nature of answers, and that leads to perfectly sane people sitting in front of their computer screens and saying to themselves, I have to come up with a question quick, and what invariably appears is a really bad question, because it is not a genuine question, or an authentic question, but a made up question, just to be asking a question. Now when people are in this terrible situation where they feel they must come up with a question quick, like a reporter who does not know what to say to the person they are interviewing on camera and just blurt out what ever first comes to mind, the questions are inevitably bad, and not worth the time of day, but a question like “Why do we exist? or Do I exist? for instance, I can go on all day about, because I am a philosopher, so I try to turn these poor questions into something interesting just to keep the rest of us amused. But the person, who asks this poor question, is really the victim of the system that has been created here. That is because the Quora folks who are creating this question and answer environment just don’t understand questions or answers very deeply, but especially questions. As you say, and as I have said previously, questions need context or they are meaningless. I have expressed this by saying that questions need the problematic out of which they arise to be made explicit, so that the person who is trying to answer it knows where the other person is coming from. My suggestion for solving this problem, since the Quora people don’t seem to notice the asymmetry between questions and answers here, was to suggest we use Google Knowls to express our problematic. I created a brief example here . . . This is really needed in order to show that the person asking the question actually has a standing toward the issue raised and actually interested in the result enough to have thought about the question for at least more than a second. But I have also pointed out that the traditional context of Questions & Answers is the dialectic, but here they stand in isolation, as if floating in a plenum only organized by topics without any real relation to each other. So I whole heartedly applaud your message and I hope the Quora folks take note, because this is a real problem. Philosophically yours . . .


Quora/Namesake differences on

No responses yet conversation: Stephen Hawking tells Google ‘philosophy is dead’

May 26 2011 Published by under Uncategorized


Analytical_VS_Continental Philosophy in Google Trends

Analytical_VS_Continental Philosophy Trends


Article: by Matt Warman in The Telegraph

Namesake conversation:

My comment on Quora:

Hawking Said: “Most of us don’t worry about these [fundamental ] questions most of the time. But almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead,” he said. “Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics.” Think it is true?

Hawking says that Philosophy is Dead, but we can see that it has a pulse, or at least Continental Philosophy still does, but perhaps he is right about Analytical Philosophy. I wonder if Continental Philosophy will catch the same life threatening disease that Analytical Philosophy has?


Analytical_VS_Continental_Philosophy in Google Ngram

Analytical_VS_Continental_Philosophy in Google Ngram

If we look at mentions of these two sister disciplines we can see that Analytical Philosophy is generally on the wane and Continental Philosophy is generally on the rise although it has dipped somewhat in recent years.

Philosophers in Google Ngram

Philosophers in Google Ngram

However, more to the point, mentions of Philosophers in general seems to be waning.

Thus it appears we are talking more about Continental Philosophy than we are engaging with the Philosophers of the tradition.

Core Philosophers of the Western Tradition

Core Philosophers of the Western Tradition

Even the core philosophers in the tradition are being mentioned less recently

More Recent Continental Philosophers Ngram

More Recent Continental Philosophers Ngram

And mention of more recent Continental philosophers seems to have peaked as well.

Continental Philosophy Recent Trends Ngram

Continental Philosophy Recent Trends Ngram

We can see that is true of all the most recent celebrities in this field as well so that it does look overall as if Philosophy is on the wane.

Recent Analytic Philosophers









We note that it seems there is beginning a downward trend in the mention of major Analytical Philosophers as well.


No responses yet answer: Is there absolute truth?

May 23 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Is there Absolute Truth?

Is there Absolute Truth? answer Is there absolute truth? If there is not, then how can knowledge exist? If there is, then how is it determined?


[My answers are always way too long for this format. So I have decided to do something different, which is to post my answer to my blog and direct you there, rather than cluttering up the conversation with long answers that everyone might not be interested in, and which seems to kill the conversation anyway.]

So the question is whether there is absolute truth. So first we need to know what absolute means and what truth means, and that will give us a bit of philosophical context in which to which to situation the question so we can see if it is answerable.

As my philosophy teacher Alfonso Verdu always said, there is only one absolute, that is why it is called absolute. But I add to that there is only one absolute at a time and what is absolute changes in different eras of our worldview. The absolute is the ultimate transcendent, which for Kant means God, one of the three transcendentals. The other two are transcendental subject and transcendental object or noumena. For Kant the role of the absolute transcendental, i.e. God was to maintain coherence between the T. Subject and the T. Object which we never experience but he thought had to be operating behind the scenes to keep the world functioning. The T. Subject is the source of all the a prior projections like spacetime and categories and schemas, and the T. Object or Noumena is the source of all our experience of the world in which we live. Absolute is basically a way of talking about God without mentioning God because it posits a unique ultimate which is in line with the monotheistic idea that there is really only one God, but if you think of God as absolute then that puts certain limitations on God which is what led to natural theology, i.e. it is in conflict with biblical ideas that sees God as having idiosyncratic attributes. Spinoza was the first of those who questioned this conflict between God and Reason, and decided ultimately that God had to be equivalent with nature ultimately, i.e. of the same substance. This merges God as a Transcendental with the Noumena, but then it has the problem of understanding the place of the T. subject, and so that is what the Ethics is about. Deleuze interprets Spinoza as having the position that the subject really is pure immanence which is the opposite of the Transcendentals.

As for Truth, as I have said in some of my Quora answers, there is an unfolding of the Meta-levels of Being, and at each of these meta-levels the Aspects which are Reality, Truth, Identity, Presence are essentially different at each meta-level. [See my other works for details at or or] Thus it depends on what meta-level of Being one is on what truth means. Heidegger in Being and Time concentrates on the first two meta-levels which are Pure Being where truth is verification, and Process Being where truth is Aletheia or Uncovering ( So there are various kinds of truth that get ever deeper as we go up the meta-levels of Being, there is Pure Truth, Process Truth, Hyper Truth, Wild Truth, and Ultra Truth. And thus we see that if we ask if there is Absolute Truth, then we have to specify what kind of Truth would be absolute, i.e. unique and transcendental.

But here an idea that I have had which I call the Pleroma comes into play. Pleroma needs fullness, and is a term used in Gnosticism, but I do not mean it in that way, but it indicates the ultimate ground, and so I mean by it the ultimate ground of the worldview. It is composed of Striated and Unstriated pairs. An example is Emptiness and Void. Emptiness is striated, yet void is unstriated. And what you notice about this question is that the Absolute is unstriated yet truth, and all the other aspects of Being are striated, i.e. differentiated. So what we can say about this question is that it is pointed at the Pleroma, but in an odd way by taking two different pairs and crossing them. So we have Absolute which is Transcendent which is compared to the Immanent, and on the other hand we have the striations of the aspects each of which has an opposite like Truth and Falsehood, or Lie. The complete structure is as follows:

  • Transcendental Truth, Reality, Identity, or Presence
  • Transcendental Lie, Illusion, Difference, or Absence
  • Immanent Truth, Reality, Identity, or Presence
  • Immanent Lie, Illusion, Difference, or Absence

Notice that unlike the pairs I have identified in the Pleroma which are simple pairs that are striated and unstriated, like Being and Beyng for instance from Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy: From Ereignis, we have in this question a fourfold interaction between elements describing the Absolute Being, and one of the aspects of Being. Heidegger called this “Ontotheological Metaphysics” which he critiqued. Notice that we can identify the elements as follows

  • Transcendental Aspect = Nietzsche’s idea that truth must affirm Life, and thus have evolutionary benefit
  • Transcendental Anti-aspect = Nietzsche’s truth as lies we tell ourselves in order to support our lives in impossible situations
  • Immanent Aspect = Truth is relative and has no external criteria, and is thus socially constructed. Nietzsche’s question of the value of Values. Truth is a value that has a certain value in our lives.
  • Immanent Anti-Aspect = The fact that the truth is continuously distinguished from lies, as in the court systems, which in turn rely on our faulty memories and thus really has no foundation.

So now with this background in mind let us return to the question at hand. Is there absolute truth. Is refers to Being, the absolute refers to the ultimate being, or Supreme Being, which is singular and unique. Truth is an aspect of Being, which along with other aspects have anti-aspects which describe the various characteristics of Being within Indo-European languages. Being is an idea that is unique to Indo-European languages, and thus it is something that makes our dominant worldview unique and perhaps is the basis on which our world’s technological infrastructure is based. But what we notice is that this question is ontological not ontic because it never gets outside of Being. It asks if THERE IS, which refers to Heidegger’s dasein (there being), i.e. if there is an ecstatic projection of Being which has the characteristics of absoluteness, and truth which is an aspect. But truth as aspect brings along its anti-aspect which is falsehood or lie. So if there is absolute truth there needs to be the absolute lie, like the betrayal of Jesus by Judas (which is a betrayal of mankind), or in Gnosticism the idea that the creator god lies and tells us there is no absolute god, etc. So what we see is that this question actually has the structure of Dasein that Heidegger talks about in Being and Time. Dasein is the ecstasy of projecting the world as a priori as Kant said, but it is also being-within-the-world, and as such it has a place in its own projection. This is just like in the Mahabharata where the poet enters his own story and is the progenitor of his own characters, or in the Odyssey where Odysseus becomes a teller of his own epic tale in Scheria. In other words it points to an ultimate paradox like the idea that Jesus as the son of God, “is” God the father who created the world that Jesus became immanent within. Jesus is the avatar of the Supreme Being but also is the Supreme Being as well like Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu, i.e. comes to immanence within the dream that Vishnu is dreaming. And this of course is what makes Being the ultimate paradox (contradictory contradiction) or absurdity (paradoxical paradox). It is prior to the Supreme Being or absolute because it is ultimate substance, but it has to be given rise to by the Absolute which is outside or beyond Being. How can the Supreme Being be both inside and outside of Being?

This brings us to the realization that this question (because it has the structure of dasein) actually is questioning whether existence is paradoxical in some fundamental sense, as suggested by Ontotheology. And thus we get into the critique of Heidegger of ontotheological metaphysics (, and how it is in fact self-contradictory, even paradoxical or absurd. Worst of all it takes snapshots of the history of the epochs of Being and pretends that this is all there is of Being, when in fact there have been many absolutes in our history during different epochs, because Being itself transforms. If Being transforms then it is not unique and singular outside of spacetime but is within spacetime, and that means it cannot be absolute. See God Without Being by Jean-Luc Marion (

Now I think the answer to this question for the Western worldview is yes, but the answer in general is no. In other words the Western worldview has this unique idea of Being built into its grammar of its languages, that does not exist elsewhere in other languages. And so our worldview necessarily has to grapple with the fact that our highest concept is at least contradictory, could be paradoxical, and at worse is absurd, as Kierkegaard thought. But Being is not the only standing, there is also existence and probably others. However, for our tradition Existence is the primary other to Being. Parmenides called it Non-Being, the impossible path. Hegel called it nothing and contrasted it with Being, and thought about it as Buddhist emptiness. The fusion of the two in a synthesis gives Heraclitus’ Flux, or Becoming, i.e. Process Being. The jump to a new level beyond that flux gives us Dasein, i.e. determinate being, that Heidegger took at the basis of his use of the term dasein. Existence came into the language from the reading of the Arabic interpreters of Aristotle, who distinguished their own Wajud from what went beyond that to comprise Being which they called with a technical term Kun (to make). When this was translated into Latin there was no term for existence so a technical term was made up called Exi-stance, i.e. to stand outside of Being, which also has the meaning of ecstasy in Arabic. So Heidegger uses that to distinguish between the projection of the world which is an ecstasy as Process Being, and the presentation of the world to us from within it which is Pure Being. If you take the view that there are other standings toward the world and the self than Being then this does not have to be absurd. There is a completely different interpretation which says that existence is empty as in Buddhism which is a non-dual standing toward existence. Non-duality suggests the opposite of absurdity or paradox which is called Supra-rational way of approaching things which see them as interpenetrated without interfering with each other as in Hua Yen Buddhism of Fa Tsang. You can see in my other writings I talk about Plato’s divided line and the fact that the limit of the side of doxa is paradox, and the limit of the side of ratio as the supra-rational. These are in fact opposites that are inscribed into the structure of our worldview, but instances of supra-rationality as appears in Zen Koans are rare in our tradition, while Paradox and Absurdity are rife as being represented as the limit of what is possible to handle within our world. So if we were to take the approach to ourselves and the world as that is supra-rational and allow for the standing toward things which describes them as existing without Being, i.e. having no value like the rock at the side of the road, or considering money to be worthless, which it actually is, it is a mere exchange token manufactured by banks that print it, then we can say that the world is not necessarily paradoxical or absurd, but only appear to be so within the ontotheological metaphysics of our Western worldview.

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My Twitter Stream as a composition

May 19 2011 Published by under Uncategorized


My Twitter Stream

kentpalmer twitter stream

This is a composition that relates to my twtterstream up to this point.


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Namesake answer: Which is a touchier subject: religion or politics?

May 18 2011 Published by under Uncategorized



Which is a touchier subject: religion or politics?
Which is a touchier subject: religion or politics?


Which is a touchier subject: religion or politics? Asked by Ed Stapleton Jr on Location:

Reading what has been said up till now I would like to frame this in terms of what Nietzsche saw as his greatest discovery, which is the Value of Value. For him this opened up a whole new way to look at everything. For instance he looked at the evolutionary value of truth and discovered that lies can be valuable for survival too. In both religion and politics there are values at stake. Religion is more intense than politics, but for some people both are lightning rods. And lets bring into this Plato’s divided line that contrasts Ratio with Doxa. Doxa is divided into grounded and ungrounded opinion (appearance). Religion is about invisibles that are transcendental which seem to control our lives, and Politics are about social invisibles that are about Power as Foucault would say. Power is a social commodity but it is ethereal within societies institutions. So in both religion and politics we are talking about ungrounded opinion concerning invisibles that relate to our values. But Nietzsche asks what is the value of those values? One response to that is existentialism, i.e. the value is questioned because it is about invisibles and how you feel about those invisibles from your psychological stand point, when you realize that they are your own projections and are in fact really meaningless, except for the social ramifications if your views are unpopular, and there are repercussions for that you have to deal with. So really the question comes down to two intensities of doxa.

Now notice that the most intense arguments are where the invisibles are transcendental instead of social and where there is no grounding in experience for the beliefs. We can step down from this by making the point of argumentation about invisibles about social invisibles like power, or by appealing to some grounds, like archeology in the holy land. But transcendental invisibles are much harder to deal with because there is no grounds that you can really appeal to, and so those ideas really have little to do with experience, but Nietzsche asks what the role of these extreme ideas in relation to life, and he sees them as supporting life by giving us lies to hang on to when we are uncertain about everything, and thus cannot act. Believing these lies for him was part of a fitness function because these extreme beliefs in ungrounded doxa concerning invisibles gave us a basis for action, and that was supportive of life itself. He also tries to reverse the idea of Hegel that only slaves can be self-conscious, by developing a possible grounds for the action of the Nobility, in his idea of the blond beast.

Now as we back away from the extreme of transcendental invisibles into social invisibles and into grounding then the arguments become less heated because they are no longer about ultimates and there is some attempt to justify what is said on the basis of some evidence. But the next step back is into ratio, i.e. representable intangibles that we reason about (party platforms, etc.)

But ratio also has its extreme which is when we appeal to non-representable intelligibles, like the good (human happiness, for instance), or Freedom (for whom, and who is enslaved by that freedom we claim?), or Law and Order (constitution), etc. These intangibles are almost as hard to define and deal with as the transcendental invisibles. In the realm of representable intelligibles we have the arguments in science, which can still be vehement, but in terms of non-representable values we have things which we appeal to as criteria for judging other things, like Right (Rta, Arte) one of the core values of the Indo-European worldview. It originally meant something like Cosmic Harmony in the Vedas in Sanscrit. But now its lowest common denominator means something like correctness. But we have right and left conflated with right and wrong, i.e. Right Wing and the L word (liberal). Liberals are on the sinister side in terms of the conflated distinctions related to rightness. Right wing political campaigns play on this deep seated prejudice all the time. But they are on the sinister side because the liberals were against the sovereign and they eventually displaced the sovereign and formed a republic, and we have them to thank for the fact that we have democracy today, because they resisted and overthrew the sovereign. There are just a few original democracies and ours is one of them, along with the republic in Rome and natural democracy in Athens. In this sense we are all liberals.

Religion is the touchier subject because it has no constraints on it being about invisible transcendentals that cannot really be grounded because they are completely invisible. If we go back to skepticism of Sextus Empiricus then he says that everyone agrees upon what is visible so all philosophical argumentation is about what is invisible. But he says that there are two main approaches to that invisibility which he calls Dogma or Doctrine, and the Academics that just deny everything. Skepticism of Sextus Empiricus has the goal of keeping the conversation going and avoiding these two nihilistic extremes that kill conversation. But for the skeptic it is OK to take any position that it takes to keep the conversation going, and so that is recognized as also nihilistic by the dogmatists and the so called “academics” but really he means sophists like Gorgias of Leontini. Skeptics sought a kind of calm or repose within the dialectic of the argument between themselves and dogmatists and academics like Nagarjuna or Gorgias who denied every transcendental on principle. Notice that this is precisely Hegel’s starting point in the Logic where he contrasts the Being of Parmenides and the Nothing of the Buddhists (Nagarjuna) and the synthesis of these is seen to be the becoming of Heraclitus. Out of that becoming comes determinate being, i.e. dasein as existent which Heidegger picks up and makes the core of his attempt to go beyond Subject and Object duality in Being and Time.

But Nietzsche wants us to look at why both Religion and Politics are “touchy” subjects. And that is because they are both transcendentals of different degrees, and because you can have opinions about them which are completely ungrounded in any kind of empirical evidence, not to mention the lack of reasoning associated with these subjects in most cases. They are “touchy” subjects because they are extremely valuable, these transcendentals, because they drive life in absence of any other drivers. Anyway that is what Nietzsche thought. Hopefully this will provide some interesting background for further discussion.

That is part of the point. They are different intensities of transcendental invisibles, i.e. God and Power within Society, cf. Foucault (who Dreyfus says just substitutes Power for Heidegger’s Being but has exactly the same theoretical structure). But the other point that Nietzsche makes is that there must be a reason we are driven by these transcendentals and so he looks to evolution and the affirmation of life as the source of ultimate value, rather than looking to the transcendentals themselves as most people do.

Basically he takes the contradiction that many of the things we hold as true, are in fact false, based on some criteria, like the good for instance. These beliefs are seen as inherently true, and thus unquestionable (hence dogmatism) and so Nietzsche asked how come we do that. For instance we engage in horrendous wars in the name of Manifest Destiny. As a doctrine Manifest Destiny is a tautology that says that who ever is the most advanced and has the most power was meant to win and exploit others (called civilizing them). It is manifestly false and not good, but we use it to justify colonialism. Only after all the damage is done around the world do we admit that this was a mistaken idea.

I have been trying to answer either a Quora question, or some question here at Namesake every few days. I plan to add G+ to that list, because answering questions there might actually get me a job (which I need). But I am happy to spend as much time answering questions, or creating conversations as I have time to do, because this kind of interaction is part of my “prime directive”. I believe that a lot of people mis-understand philosophy, and so I thought I would try my hand at turning that around if I can for some. Philosophy, gives you a view point on things that most people do not attain, and it allows you to see the world in different ways than are normal, and thus it allows us to escape the ritual debates and go somewhat deeper, for instance when we frame your question in relation to Nietzsche and the Skeptics like Sextus Empiricus. The tradition is valuable in this way, as it gives us some perspective. I wish I knew more of the tradition, but the little bit I know I am willing to share. If we could get people who really know parts of the Western Philosophical Tradition well then you would see that my take on things somewhat primitive in many cases. I am searching for a global view that helps to make sense of the world as we find it today.

No responses yet Answer: “What is it about the world that you know is true that everyone else doesn’t understand?”

May 18 2011 Published by under Uncategorized


"What is it about the world that you know is true that everyone else doesn't understand?"

"What is it about the world that you know is true that everyone else doesn't understand?"

Peter Thiel question asked of people before he works with them,


My Response to a Namesake Conversation: Summary:

Reference: Question of Peter Thiel, article

PETER THIEL: Winning Big By Betting Against Everyone

by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry published May 17, 2011, 11:43

in Business Insider

Remarks by Kent Palmer on

As everyone is probably aware by now I approach everything in a decidedly esoteric philosophical fashion, which is amusing at first by quickly becomes old when the posts are long and dry. Anyway, if we for a moment stood back and asked what this question meant from a philosophical viewpoint what would we see that might shed some light on this question? If someone asked me this question they would not want to stick around for the answer because each words is like a land mine to me. And the whole question is problematic from the beginning. But it is a perfect example of what I have been saying which is that not knowing philosophy can be a hindrance now and again. But what you really miss out on is the fact that it makes the world a lot more interesting place than it is normally considered to be.

The land mines in this question are “World” “True” and “Understanding”. My own orientation is phenomenological and so I am going to interpret them through Heidegger’s use of these terms. So let me explain that and then we will see if the question means anything from that perspective. Heidegger’s Being and Time is all about what he calls Dasein (being there) of the human being who is being-in-the-world. Now Dasein is the ecstatic source of the projection of the world horizon and being-in-the-world signifies that Dasein is in the world it projects itself. So we start with the paradox that Dasein is within its own projected world from the point of view of Being.


Now to quickly paraphrase Heidegger “world” is the ultimate horizon which everything appears upon, and it was actually Husserl which came up with this solution to the problem of Bracketing that produced the insoluble problem of intersubjectivity as seen in the Cartesian Meditations. However, Heidegger uses this strategy in a very thorough going critique which Husserl did not agree with so he produced his book Krisis as a response and defined the Lifeworld. So from a phenomenological standpoint world is one of the most important concepts because it solves the problem of intersubjectivity and gets rid of bracketing. Heidegger goes on to do an existentiell analysis of Dasein, which are like the Categories of Kant but applied to the human being, and discovers three faculties befindlichkeit, rede, and verstehen, which I would like to translate as discoveredness, talk, and understanding. Befindlichkeit is the world as you find it already thrown within it and falling groundlessly towards death. Rede is chatter with others in the Mitsein, the intersubjective counterpart of dasein. Verstehen is understanding that is held in common by those who speak the same language. So you can see that Understanding is prominent here but talk and befindlichkeit is missing from a Heideggarian point of view. and of course both dasein and mitsein are here because there is reference to everyone and you. The whole idea that dasein can understand something that mitsein doesn’t reminds us of authenticity.

So we got up to the point of accounting for everything but Truth. Now for Heidegger there are two kinds of truth. The truth of logic which is verification, and the truth he finds in Aristotle that goes beyond that which is a kind of Alethia or uncovering. So in Heidegger at the level of Process Being where the ready-to-hand modality appears truth itself is dynamic, a process of uncovering as we see in the Oedipus myth. Now that puts an interesting spin on the sentence above because we could interpret Truth in either way. In a sense this is a very Heideggerian question because it mentions some of his key concepts together. But I want to shift attention outside the question to the context. We are told that Thiel asks this question of people before he works with them. In other words it is suggested that it is a gate, and that if you don’t have an interesting answer to this question the consequence is that he probably is not going to work with you.

Now personally I see that as bad faith. Bad faith is a term from Sartre, who develops a framework similar to Heidegger but in French and based on Hegel. Ultimately it was decided that Sartre did not understand Heidegger, but everyone agrees that Bad Faith was one of his best ideas. It is the freedom we exercise when we fool ourselves into thinking our situation is reified and not free, when it is utterly free and we are able to choose differently at any moment. The whole way that this question is presented is a rejection of the freedom of Thiel to ask the question of someone, and the freedom of someone not to respond to a question asked over and over to everyone who wants to work with him, and that we know to expect. Now it is probably just a journalistic gimmick and Theil does not ask this question of everyone, and some people probably don’t answer it, and he probably is not the automaton that the article makes him out to be. But this brings up the question as to why we are so interested in the question if it so blatantly is based on bad faith. And I think that is because we read into the question Thiel’s success and the fact that he has asked that question of someone sometime means we feel that it is also asked of us, and somehow if we answer it intriguingly we might gain the keys to the kingdom ourselves. Because this statement is presented like the words of the Delphic oracle used to be presented in ancient Greece, which was with reverence because the gods had spoken.

So in fact it is the context of the question that gives it is real import because the context is our own bad faith and the supposed bad faith of Thiel which I am sure the journalist made up for the effect. So now let us consider how the context and the question itself might be related. The question implies that you might know something that everyone else does not understand, or perhaps you should, or if you don’t you are not worthy of working with the rich, risk taking Mr. Thiel. This scenario reminds me of Obama’s humorous comments on Trump that destroyed his candidacy. We seem to be part of an episode of the Apprentice here. Anyway the most telling thing in the article is the fact that he worked with French philosopher René Girard and he knows about Mimesis. Now I have read Girard’s work and I find it very interesting. And it is all about mimesis but it is also about sacrifice and the role that violence plays in society. But Girard’s work is based on Dumezil and that is the basis of my work, and I think ultimately much more interesting. Girard’s theories are all very strange and distorted visions of human beings and their history, and it is clear when you read them they are completely “wrong” and made up for the purposes of making an impact, but that the truth lies elsewhere beyond the spectacle of Girard’s theory. However in their exaggeration those theories point out some very interesting things about our worldview that are worth taking notice of and thinking about.

Anyway there is a rich background there to explore. But back to the question itself. If he was a protégé of Girard then he really must know some Continental Philosophy and so I want to assume he knows Heidegger, and if that is really the case then perhaps his question is truly Heideggarian. And if this was true then it would be a much deeper question than we might give it credit for otherwise. In that case then it is pretty straight forward and it is really a question about the relation between dasein and mitsein and the orientation towards process truth, i.e. uncovering of truth, which could be seen as discovery or innovation or creativity in a wider context. The straight forward Heideggarian answer to this question would be to shift from the Pure Presence level to the Process Being level and say that what I know that others do not understand is the dynamic nature of truth that goes beyond verification. In other words from Heidegger’s point of view there is only really dasein as being-in-the-world and when it is immersed in the mitsein (everyone) it is inauthentic, so to be authentic it must recognize its own death as the ultimate horizon with respect to all its actions. And of course to escape bad faith it must not reify itself turning itself into an object, which Sartre adds to the problem of being lost in the They or everybody.

Heidegger would read the question as asking what do you know about truth that everyone else does not understand, because there is no actual reference beyond dasein itself, i.e. the world is the ultimate horizon and there is nothing beyond it to point to, and thus because dasein projects the world in an ecstasy there is nothing beyond dasein, even thought there appears to be when dasein is inauthentically immersed in the other. If Thiel was asking this Heideggarian question then it would actually be the question “do you know who you are?”, implying as background that who you are is dasein as being-in-the-world who knows that truth is the uncovering of not just things in the world but the world itself and thus Being. Apollo said know thyself, and from a Heideggerian perspective the question would be Do you know yourself, or are you lost in authenticity in the mitsein. From Heideggers question it would not be about whether you know a fact that no one else knows about the world which would be an ontic answer. But instead we would read the question as embodying the structure of Dasein itself, and that is why it is strange that it does not mention befindlichkeit and rede, i.e. discoveredness and talk. There are then parallel questions like What is it you know about your-being-in-the-world that you know authentically but those lost in the They (everybody) does not understand, when viewed from the perspective of dynamic truth as uncovering.

The parallel questions would be about what you know about talk and your discoveredness, i.e. your groundlessness discovered as already thrown into the world. And the reason we need those parallel questions is that their overlapping or intersection is Care (Sorge) which Heidegger discovers as the ownmost core of Dasein. So the three together would be tantamount to asking what do you care about as dasein emerging from mitsin and knowing about the dynamic nature of truth as being-in-the-world. You are thrown into the world where you find yourself, but that is a world you have projected almost entirely by talk which is based on your implicitly or tacit understanding of the world that comes from living in it with others yet by your self if your realize the potential of your authenticity.

Now we have read a lot into Thiel’s question that would be assumed from a Heideggarian point of view. But does he mean that even if he knows Heidegger via Girard somehow. My answer would be no. He does not mean that in any technical sense. But he might have a different perspective on the world from that was generated by studying Continental Philosophy and his question might be just there to find out whether any of the people he is dealign with has a philosophically informed view of things like him and Soros, by the way Soros went to LSE and was influenced by Lakatos like I was. However, ultimately I prefer Feyerabend. My point is that he is unlikely to find many philosophically astute business men in America who might get that a question like this has deeper resonances. And of course starting from Heidegger we can read into it Girard and the whole idea of Mimesis but that would be going overboard. What I would expect is that he would ask a different question each time to see if anyone in the room was more philosophically astute than normal, and that is a way of testing the waters because his philosophically driven viewpoint is going to make him do things in a way that most people are not going to understand because they are not operating at that level of sophistication.

Anyway I will leave it there for now. Perhaps later I will give my answer to this question. It is a good question in that it is thought provoking as long as we don’t fall into bad faith or inauthenticity when we are considering it. Any reified question is bad if it is repeated senselessly. For instance I don’t recommend you ask this very question to people your plan to work with in some kind of repetition, or mimesis of this specific question. Rather I suggest you transform your viewpoint by considering philosophical questions seriously, and meant to be about you, and who you are within your world. Then like Thiel you will recognize the others who are operating at the same level fairly easily with some seemingly innocuous remark whose answer will tell you volumes about what the person knows he knows, and does not know he knows. For instance, Socrates went around Athens asking people questions because he knew he was ignorant, yet the Delphic Oracle said he was wise. In the end he figured out that he knew he did not know anything, but that others thought they did although in reality they did not because what they knew could not stand up to the simplest questioning. In a way the question if answered with an ontic answer reveals that you think you are special, and that is a warning to look out for that person. However, if you respond with an ontological answer then Thiel knows you have some self-awareness beyond the normal lack of self-awareness that seems to be rampant here.–httpreadbikknx8k

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Quora answer: What are some of the most mind-blowing facts?

May 17 2011 Published by under Uncategorized


Indo-european amazement in form


For me an amazing fact is that only the Indo-Europeans have the concept of Being in their language. And that both Being and Having are the most irregular verbs in Indo-European languages, and thus artificially produced by blending together other verbs. This means that Being (Sein, Sat) is an anomaly in language with all other languages having either existence or copula or some other concept rather than Being at their core.

This coupled with the fact that the Indo-European homeland was in Turkey and that Hittite is the oldest branch of the Indo-European family judged on the basis of vocabulary rather than grammar using genetic mutation analysis techniques. That the oldest megaliths in Turkey are 27,000 years or so old, showing that the Indo-Europeans probably had the oldest civilization, much older than China, Egypt or Sumeria. That in Turkey in ancient times there was a natural breadbasket with more overlapping kinds of grains present than any where on earth and that the Indo-europeans probably invented agriculture by just foraging for these grains. There are loan words in both Sumerian and Indo-European that showed that these people interacted. That the oldest sumerian epic Gilgamesh contains a fight with a monster that is probably the representative of the Indo-Europeans in the north of Sumeria. Sumeria has a completely unique language unrelated to any other known language, and it is probably the oldest civilization after the Indo-European civilization. Cities in Sumeria went from 120 people in villages to 25,000 over night with no fortifications or palaces in them but only temples showing that Plato was right that Men were created only to serve the Gods and that all other formations of civilization came later. That the Sumerians called the Indo-Europeans the Kur which meant also Hell to them, and that they probably drove the Indo-Europeans out into the Steppes where the Indo-europeans built Kurgens (Burial mounds). The Skythians who appeared out of the Stepps during Greek times were probably the result of a foray against the nomads in China a century earlier. Various tribes displaced each other in a domino effect until the Skythians popped out the other side, showing that the whole of the Steppes were populated with Indo-Europeans. The Greeks saw the Skythians as completely opposite of themselves in every way, even though the Skythians were also Indo-european,and probably truer to that tradition than the Greeks. When the Persians tried to attack the Skythians they merely taunted the Persians and said that they could only be forced to fight if the Persians took their burial mounds because they held no permanent property. On the Steppes they Indo-european precursors to the Skytians and Greeks realized a genetic possibility of the horse being big by breeding them to be larger. And when the horses became big enough to pull chariots the Indo-Europeans started taking over the world. Chariot warfare preceded warfare on horseback because the horses were still too small to ride when they could pull a chariot. The first waves of Indo-European world colonialization began in about 6,000 BC in which they took over the known world. Now as a result of this and later colonializations by the Indo-Europeans 60% of the worlds populations speak an Indo-European language. Thus the world dominance of English and other Indo-European languages today had its beginnings about Eight thousand years ago. The Indo-Europeans have achieved world domination through the development of war horses and other technologies. That the central epic concerns one such artificial technological war “horse”. That the Epics of the Illiad and Odessey are older than but related to the Mahabharata each have chariot scenes in battle as central motifs in the stories. That most technical inventions credited to the Indo-Europeans were first invented by the Chinese a thousand years earlier.

Therefore, when you put these factoids together it appears there is a correlation between the uniqueness of Indo-European languages through the fact that it has Being, and the ascent to world domination due to technological change and the roots of this conquest began long ago. Colonialization and now Globalization had a distant precursor when the Indo-Europeans struck out and conquered the world based on the power of horses when they could not yet ride them because they were not big enough yet. And that the Indo-Europeans and every other kind of human that existed outside the Africa has Neanderthal genetic factors due to passing through the Neanderthal homeland in the Middle East on the way out of Africa. There are people with that bloodline still in the Steppes today after 70 generations who eventually came into Europe as nomadic invaders.

These factoids which I connect here are not connected elsewhere to my knowledge and has led to my believing that Ontology is important to understanding our technological superiority. My hypothesis for how this is so is that Being because it creates an imaginary substrate for connecting things, allowing stronger than usual metaphors, allows us to integrate technologies that are discovered into a functioning whole rather than their merely being forgotten and needing to be invented again in isolation later as happened with the Chinese. The ability to create synergetic and integral technological products seems to be a unique Indo-european invention. But that invention also brings with it the core feature of the Western worldview which is the problem of nihilism, and this problem was recognized and dealt with at length in the Indo-european epics that have survived.

So we can construe this set of factoids to indicate that the dominance of the Indo-Europeans today was based on a series of accidents and special factors that coalesced to produce the world in which we live today. And this worldview we have today has a deep past that we do not really recognize properly. From archeological finds in Turkey we can say that the Indo-Europeans were probably the oldest civilization predating what has been considered as the oldest by more than twice its age. The Indo-Europeans just happened to live in a natural Bread basket and probably invented the agriculture that made the other later .civilizations possible. The Hittites had a god prior to Uranus in their pantheon called Ahlalu which was forgotten by the time of the Greeks. The Hittites took Mesopotamia and Egypt at certain points in history. And that the other key group also nomadic was the Semites that lived between Egypt and Mesopotamia and who are considered based on analysis of Ugritic literature to have had an original monotheism, which later came to dominate our thinking destroying the old polytheisms.

So the Western worldview which we call Judao-Christian is really a meta-worldview made up of four cultural components. Two based on sedentary Civilizations crystalized around rivers, i.e. Mesopotamia and Egypt. But there are two nomadic groups that are important, one with the uniqueness of having Being in its language, and the other that has the uniqueness of original monotheism. We completely lost access to the Mesopotamian and Egyptian portions of our tradition, but then regained them through the rosetta stone on the one hand and through clay tablets and vocabularies that linked Sumerian with other languages that were preserved on those tablets. So now we are in a much better position to see the contributions of Egypt and Sumeria to our tradition than any time before for the last several millennia. We should call our tradition Indo/Suero/Semitic/Egyptian. All this is very strange and shows the contingency of our worldview which is both very ancient and full of anomalies that became norms through successive accidents and improbabilities in that very long history.

To me the most amazing thing was when I realized that the differences between kinds of Being rediscovered in modern Continental Philosophy were there in the Vedic times as the differences between the Gods and thus between the Castes in the social structure. This idea that the Kinds of Being discovered by Continental Philosophy were really very ancient in our tradition and conserved within it despite our propensity toward rampant and powerfully transformative emergence was to me astounding, and when I realized that I wrote the book The Fragmentation of Being and the Path Beyond the Void in which I perform what I all OntoMythology, i.e. reading myths through the lens of Ontology, i.e. the meta-levels of Being. This method allows us to discover how myths convey the conservative structure of the world view that lies beneath the many deep emergent transformations that break up our heritage into given, fact, theory, paradigm, episteme, ontos, existence, and absolute changes within our history. Here we are considering mind blowing facts. But these facts, even knowing them at all are dependent on the theories, paradigms, ontos, existence and absolutes that go though periodic total revision to produce eras within our tradition. When we have a paradigm or episteme or ontos change it changes what facts are significant, the affordances offered to us in the moment, it rewrites history, it gives a new mythos, and it opens up new possibilities for the future that might be realized. G.H. Mead first describes the emergent event in his Philosophy of the Present because he took as his life’s work reconciling evolution with relativity. In the process the discontinuous changes in the tradition came to the fore as the central phenomena in our tradition. But this emergent change randomly yet persistently, especially in technology, is based on deeper persistent structures that are called the Meta-levels of Being that were really discovered by Bertrand Russell and posited in Principia Mathematica as the solution to most paradoxes. Being is of course the most paradoxical of all concepts because it is the highest in the Western worldview being both less than empty because it is worse than meaningless because it is the origin of illusions and delusions, and also too full in the sense that it means something different to everyone. Thus when we apply the only solution to extreme paradox (higher logical type theory, see Copi for a good explanation of it) and the extreme paradox of Being that is an anomaly existing only in the Indo-European tradition, together then we get a static structure that underlies all emergence. That static structure both creates nihilism as the background on which emergence is seen, but the structure of the emergent events themselves. And so this feature of our worldview strikes me as extremely improbable, based on a series of blackswan events in our history that made it so we have at the same time radical change and amazing stability to world structures based on logical structures that constrain paradox and contradiction.

To me it is truly amazing that we can live within our worldview and not understand it, even though the ancients left us clues as to its structure and how to cope with living in such a worldview of nihilistic extremes. The fact that we have to deal with continual discontinuous cultural and social events as well as technological change, but at the same time subconsciously maintain the structure that causes this to happen though the preservation of the structures that produce nihilism in our tradition is amazing. We are obsessed with false mysteries like that dramatized by Dan Brown, but do not even recognize an even deeper mystery that involves everything we do together in our daily lives that was understood by the ancients who inhabited this worldview but is no longer understood by us. Thus we are traveling blindly within our own worldview rather than being illuminated by it because we illuminate it ourselves with our comprehension of it. In effect underlying all the amazing fact is something even more amazing that allows us to appreciate amazing facts, which is the structure of our worldview that produces emergence out of nihilism and that preserves the structure of the worldview in spite of continual radical transformations that make up the contingencies of our history, and threaten everything we know and want to hang on to at every moment of our lives. We are oriented toward the amazing, as philosophers say that philosophy comes out of wonder. But the most wondrous thing is the mechanism within our worldview that produces wonder itself. Other Peoples throughout human history were not as driven as we are by wonderment. And we have wonderment because we inadvertently produce it through the structure of our worldview. We produce rampant nihilism as a background so we can recognize Emergence when it happens. Our propensity toward wonderment is part of our necessity of being on the look out for the arising of emergent events out of the nihilistic background. And what we recognize in the end is that Emergence and Nihilism are themselves nihilistic opposites so nihilism as has been said by Nietzsche and Heidegger is essential to our understanding of our worldview, and also according to Heidegger essential to our understanding of the essence of technology which is nothing technological but is in fact nihilism. This link between technological progress, especially in warfare, and the dualism between emergence and nihilism at the heart of the worldview is also quite amazing because it permeates our entire culture without our recognizing it.

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Mirror.Me mirrored

May 16 2011 Published by under Uncategorized for Kent Palmer for Kent Palmer is an unusual service among many unusual services related to Social Networking. It gives a like tag cloud of roles and important aspects of ones online experience. If you look at it carefully the first thing you really want to do is eliminate irrelevant words that are large like Professor in my case. It seems that they have a standard list of words and they are given different sizes depending on how it reads one’s online activities. But the interesting thing I learned how to do on the site is to search for both philosophy and philosopher in order to find the hard core people who are into philosophy. Like it treats these two versions of the same word as if they are different and thus people how overemphasize that aspect of themselves have both of  them writ large in the mirrors of their online selves.


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