Wednesday, June 27, 2012


The individual uses, the collective creates
Production may continue to be instrumentally rational and analytic, but consumption is many-stranded and intuitive, and products are designed to encourage this: What happens when consumption overtakes production and becomes the dominant element in forming the human psyche? (p272)

Plough, Sword and Book
Ernest Gellner
U. of Chicago Press

Durkheim's Ritual

Durkheim: Ritual is for instilling concepts in individuals, from the society.

On the Division of Labor in Non-Humans

Something resembling cultural diversity may occur…The identical genetic equipment may allow some variation in conduct and organization of (say) a herd. (p273)

Very often, social change is simply far too rapid to be explicable by genetic change.

From society comes culture
Memes are in the culture, not the individual? –sure they are transmitted by the individual but the memepool is in the culture itself

Plough, Sword and Book
Ernest Gellner
U. of Chicago Press

Monday, June 25, 2012


Most men see their environment not as nature but as other people. (p267)

Plough, Sword and Book
Ernest Gellner
U. of Chicago Press

Truth, Belief and Society

Truth butters no parsnips and legitimates no social arrangements. There are at least 2 reasons for this. One is the failure of genuine knowledge to be subservient. The second is that publicly accessible truth fails to separate members of a community from non-members. (p272)

Plough, Sword and Book
Ernest Gellner
U. of Chicago Press

Zoning Laws in the Metaverse

At what point will the laws be written to limit the sound levels in public places? (geosynchronous metaversal-type public places, that is)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

You Love Right Angles

Robert Williams, Persuasion of Right Angles, 2007

You can tell me ‘til you’re blue in the face, but you brain is not designed to see things as they are.

This is an efficiency-of-vision in the way the brain sees; most would call it misperception. I wonder, however, if we can call it so, if we can see that the brain has been designed to see this way. It’s not a mistake. Trying to seeing things as they are in the first place is the mistake.



It’s funny, in a way, that there’s two sets of arrows on a keyboard. Considering what a keyboard is, there’s no way we could have avoided such a “quantum semiotics” (using quotes because I don’t know what that even means, not because that’s what it’s called).

Sometimes when I talk to people, I come to the understanding that they think I’m talking about the ‘character-arrows’(semantic), when I’m really talking about the ‘command-arrows’(syntactic)

Because, I guess, after all you can’t really talk about the command arrows; they’re made to put you somewhere else, not talk about or refer to somewhere else.

Is conversation to transfer information, or to modify cognition by the process of the transfer of information?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Suspension of Disbelief

Wikipedia excerpt 

Not all authors believe that suspension of the disbelief adequately characterizes the audience's relationship to imaginative works of art. J. R. R. Tolkien challenges this concept in his essay "On Fairy-Stories", choosing instead the paradigm of secondary belief based on inner consistency of reality. Tolkien says:

in order for the narrative to work, the reader must believe that what he reads is true within the secondary reality of the fictional world.

By focusing on creating an internally consistent fictional world, the author makes secondary belief possible. Tolkien argues that suspension of disbelief is only necessary when the work has failed to create secondary belief. From that point the spell is broken, and the reader ceases to be immersed in the story and must make a conscious effort to suspend disbelief or else give up on it entirely.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Belief Creates Fact - Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

"the influence of a prediction upon the event predicted"
-Karl Popper

The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come 'true'. This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning.

[the 24hr bank insolvency parable where for no reason a large number of people withdraw their money on a given day, which leads to people..starting rumors..which leads to the bank's actual insolvency]

The parable tells us that public definitions of a situation (prophecies or predictions) become an integral part of the situation and thus affect subsequent developments. This is peculiar to human affairs. It is not found in the world of nature, untouched by human hands.

Merton, Robert K (1968). Social Theory and Social Structure. New York: Free Press. pp. 477. ISBN 978-0-02-921130-4. OCLC 253949.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What Culture Does

"We must needs live in and with the help of some culture (even a syncretic or sliding-scale one, i.e. one taken seriously to a varying extent, according to context). No social gathering, no meal, no establishment or perpetuation of a human relationship, is conceivable without some idiom to set the scene, limit expectations, and establish rights and duties” (p207)

Do we create our culture today with any more conscious effort than societies on the cusp of culture?

Ernest Gellner
Plough, Sword and Book
U. of Chicago Press

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Autority of Concept in the Age of Durkheim

"In the Age of Durkheim, man unselfconsciously imposes the authority of concepts on itself through ritual..."
Abstractions will not inspire awe.
The ‘need’ for salvation implies that we have done something wrong.
All ‘sins’ are either genetically beneficial codifications, or actions that at one point in human history (proto-history) were permissible or usable.
They are part reaffirmation of what ‘works’ genetically, or they are guardian against natural tendencies which were once reinforced as permissible in an older society (or lack thereof).
In that the effects of natural selection have evidently worn-off, a more immediately communicable medium is necessary, thus ‘commandments’.
You don’t die if you disobey them, but you will live in hell forever: much more effective in a world of trans-genetic, free-thinking humans.

~Ernest Gellner
Plough, Sword and Book
U. of Chicago Press

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Dethronement of the Concept

 “Our convenience, or blind nature, are the only authorities which can validate our cognitive claims.” (p126)

“This theory reflects a culture which no longer accepts its own concepts as ordained from on high, but which chooses its own, and endows them with only a conditional authority. Neither ritual inclination nor Platonic meta-theory sanctifies concepts any longer…Concepts, like men, come to be valued for their efficiency rather than their honor.” (p126)

Ernest Gellner
U. of Chicago Press