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« A New Human Society - Part 5 | Main | Some Thoughts on the Winter Solstice 2016 »

November 20, 2016


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Our “systemness” and “sapience” is only one of the tools of our evolution. The aspect that is the animal side of survival on the ground and living with the Ecos must be respected in regards to the influence “systemness” and “sapience” play in survival. What are we going to leave an “Avatar” people who may result as the bottleneck people of our future? Living with ourselves we need a degree of sapience and systemness but where is the balance between the animal and wisdom? Where do the two separate? That then opens the Pandora’s Box of dualism and separateness which is man’s blessing and his curse.

It is apparent we are not meant to be in large groups of billions or even millions. Once the Ecos has been altered by human impact to the point where stable agriculture is no longer possible then we will by default revert to our original humanness of small groups eking out a precarious existence near niches of survivability. I like to look back to the Native American Tribes for examples. They had developed complex societies of small bands of hunter gathers. For a brief period between the advent of horses to their cultures and the consumption of these culture into the relentless progress of modern man they achieved a remarkable relationship among themselves and to the “Ecos”. Is that a good starting point?

We must ask ourselves then what is the very nature of wisdom in relation to humans and the Ecos. We must be very careful not to promote wisdom that is skewed towards a human centric viewpoint that may just be the same “out of balance” we live today. I see a continuity and connectivity to life so there is really no duality to wisdom and the Ecos. Wisdom is duality but at a higher level connected and necessary. A better understanding of this thought is that for reasons beyond wisdom it is meant to be dualistic and thereby natural. My point is if we are going to be the monasteries of wisdom to a future bottleneck population then we should take extreme caution to avoid leaving them a virus that will sow the seeds of their demise. A bottleneck population will by definition be extremely fragile and in a completely unrecognizable world from today. Climate and the ecosystem will require a new man to be much different from today. What is coming is likely worse than any other challenge man has faced since we develop into the kind of man that became us.

We modern humans are clearly a failure in regards to ourselves although we are likely just a part of the natural cycle of extinction and evolution where there is no failure or success just “Isness”. Our dualism reflects exceptionally on ourselves and fails to see we are a part of nature not separate from it. In that regards we did what we were meant to have done per natural forces. What can we leave to these people to tell them about our failures when at a higher level it is not a failure? I say this in regards to the unanswered question of if we should even leave them anything. Is sapience and systemness really potentially “Godly” as in a reflection of the Universe or is it just another trick we are playing on ourselves? The Anastasi are a good example of a complex culture that disbanded and dispersed into less complex bands in reaction to a long term drought and destructive development. Should we disband and as part of this disbanding allow for our sapience and systemness to be absorbed into the “Ecos” like any dead end species trait?

This statement “not just ordinary knowledge, but wisdom as well - the knowledge of what ordinary knowledge to gain and how to use it.” Is profoundly important. Yet, do we even know what universal knowledge to leave them. Should we tell them to avoid complexity beyond some point? Or is there a complexity that is harmonious with the Ecos? Can any type of man now or in the future become something that is a higher level to the Ecos? Was this first failed step in our advancement a necessary step per the nature of nature’s evolution? A part of me wants to think the answer was perfected by traditional cultures already and we moderns are the dead end. Their wisdom is quite different from systemness we are talking today. Maybe there can be an evolved man who has the best of both worlds of our complex systemness and traditional harmony seen in native cultures. This may not be possible because it may just be that complexity found in a species like ours is eventually its undoing. In our case the spectacular undoing of an amazing richness of complexity of a particular Epoch that is soon to be no more. It may be the case that systemness and sapience is just another type of life force of extinction little different from cyanobacteria that left life a snowball earth. Is the dualism found within our sapience and systemness just another tool of extinction and evolution?

In any case humans we must be true to ourselves and must follow human nature. Currently our nature is to peruse sapience and systemness. In that regard then we must try to find proper sapience that is also harmonious and transcends as best as it can the destructive dualism that has proven to be our current failure. I feel it is our duty to follow our nature and that nature is sapience and systemness regardless if we are a tool of extinction in a greater game of nature. Maybe we should find the humility to lower our goals of sapience and systemness to the level of art. Let’s leave them clues they can use to evolve within their own special circumstances yet to be known. Let’s be a muse not a teacher. Maybe then this discussion and task is just about ourselves and the responsibility of what kind of contamination we should leave a new man instead of a comprehensive guide to survival.



Congratulations on all the developments!

Good to hear you are working on the things you always wanted to work on.

hope you are taking care of your health so you can continue for some years to come.


Edward Morbius

George: It's always good to see you post, and your absences are missed. I've also been looking up your bibliography and other publications, though that's on top of a very large reading list already as I pursue my own inquiry.

I'm frequently asked "why bother" by those who care about my sanity (despite all signs of its having long since departed), and can answer only with difficulty. Among those:

  • I can't not. I've got a fundamental need to understand things, and to find the thread of narrative and rationality running through observations. The lack of this thread, particularly in economic thought, was among my chief initial inspirations.
  • Because a fundamental failure seems to be one of our models. The systems of understanding -- that is, science -- we create for understanding the world provide both explanatory and predictive power. Bad models provide bad explanations and predictions. At the very least, testing and improving our models should help.
  • As members of the community who do recognise the problem and its dimensions. It's a small crowd, but there are those among us, and finding and comparing notes with those who've also recognised the problem serves as a sanity check. When I'd first really launched into my own exploration, a chief concern was my own sanity. Self-deprecation above notwithstanding, that's less a concern now, and you're part of the reason why.
  • To serve witness. Even if this run of Humanity doesn't grasp, understand, or implement our vision, what we observe, document, and reveal may help those who follow. As bad as things appear headed, I've got some hope that there will be some successor civilisation. In this regard I find your systems work invaluable.

In my first explorations, I thought this was a resources or efficiency problem -- find an abundant source of energy, or make processes more efficient, and we'll be able to skirt past the crisis. I'm now convinced that it's an acceptence problem -- that humans must embrace the idea of limits, or suffer the consequences.

As such, the salient elements are not energy, resources, efficiency, and technology, but psychology, sociology, and polity -- how humans individually and collectively respond to this endogenous existential threat. As the past electoral season in the U.S. suggests, political responses don't appear healthy. Looking elsewhere within the G-20 nations, the trend toward nationalism and authoritarianism seems marked: UK (May, Brexit, UKIP, and Farage), France (le Pen rising), India (Modi), Australia (Abbott and Turnbull), Japan (Abe), Israel (Netanyahu), Turkey (Erdogan), and Brazil (Temer). And these are the advanced nations.

Another element I'm looking at is the specific dyanamics of that majick wand that's supposed to save us: technology. In particular, I'm looking at an ontology of technological mechanisms, that is, the specific modes in which any given technology can increase efficiency or capacity. It was prompted by both the hand-waving of many (particularly economists, politicians, and business boosters), and by a long-ago observation that there were two ways I'd noted of increasing output: by making a process more efficient and by providing it more energy. These seemed fundamentally distinct.

I've come of up with a list of nine mechanisms, though I'm still thinking through this. Each has both capabilities and limitations.

  1. Fuels and prime movers: food, firewood, plant and animal oils, charcoal, coal, petroleum, natural gas, uranium/plutonium fission, hydrogen fusion, as applied in firepits, stoves, kilns, lamps, steam engines, internal combustion engines, and reactors.
  2. Materials: defined by their properties and abundance, including wood, stone, fibers, ceramics, metals, glass, fluids and hydraulics, synthetics, electrolytes, adhesives, etc.
  3. Power transmission and transformation: thrown rocks, clubs, spears, arrows, shafts, belts, cogs, electricity & magnetism, conversion to and from light, sound, vibration, electricity, microwave, etc.
  4. Systematic knowledge: generally the fields of science. I add to these history and geography, which are systematic knowledge of people in time and space, though that might be a loose fit.
  5. Process knowledge: generally what's considered technology itself. The art or method of achieving some desired outcome.
  6. Organisation: social structures, politics, business management, military organisation, possibly religion, laws, and automated systems controls.
  7. Dendritic and network structures: Urbanisations (towns, cities), transport networks, communications networks, market networks, integrated circuits, knowledge-as-web itself. These share compounding network effects (e.g., Metcalfe's Law, Tilly-Odlyzko's Law), but also some cost factor.
  8. Information and sensing: human senses, artificial senses, language, speech, writing, storage, processing, logic, maths, programming, genetic engineering, AI.
  9. Mitigations of sinks, effluents, and systemic disruptions. A set of mechanisms which works to address the consequences (forseen or unintended) of other human actions. Ranging from wastes (solid, liquid, sewage) to emergent issues (epidemics consequent of large urbanisations), global or climatic effects. The role of information and media systems on changing social behaviour is another I'm increasingly considering, even before the "fake-news" concerns of current political events.

I'm openly soliciting feedback on these ideas, including any similar suggestions elsewhere (I'm not aware of any). There's more discussion here:

George Mobus

Thanks all for your comments. The funny thing about retiring from full time teaching is that my so-called spare time has evaporated with these new duties. It is getting hard to spend the time needed to read these comments and provide an adequate response. May I suggest that if you have a thesis you want to share with the other readers, then feel free to use the commenting facilities here. If you would like me to read something please send me an e-mail with a summary of points you think I should take a look at and I will respond either to the e-mail or to the comment if I have any substantive things to say.

For readers who have started reading lately I would recommend taking a look at the archives for older articles that might contain some useful morsels re: what I have already covered - topics that occasionally show up in comments. For those interested in the background on Sapience you could look at the working papers that are available through this blog site. If you are really interested in the topic you can e-mail me with a request for access to the whole book draft, available on-line in pdf format. There is a lot of information in that book re: explanations of mind, consciousness, language, and much more re: the evolution of human beings.

Thanks to all.

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