January 2019


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Chance McDermott <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
tree of knowledge system discussion <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 5 Jan 2019 13:39:35 -0600
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Mark and Gregg:

 I caught the prompt about the psychological urge to unify and felt an urge to reply!  Justification Dynamics Theory would suggest that human beings have an evolved mechanism that compels us to create internal narratives and stories that can be offered externally to other people in a way that increases social influence (social influence being tethered to survival).  

The urge to unify everything could be, in part, a strategy for searching for the justification/belief system that is ultimately justifiable.  If one could achieve this, it would slake the “mental thirst” caused by the relentless scanning and synthesizing activity of the justification mechanism. 

Then, being the agent that leads the emergence of that justification system would, in theory, be a fortune of relational value.  

The McLuhan perspective is vexing because it implies yet another layer of conditioning that our individual perspectives are contained within.  I believe I understand broadly what you mean when you say that someone is a “print man,” and when Alexander writes that maybe 7 year olds might be coming to grips with what digital means.  What is the phenomenological view of a digital person?  A unified theory could help us communicate across our differing sense ratios.

From a survival perspective, it is helpful to be able to predict the weather.  It is even soothing to believe that this possible.  Similarly, those of us anxious about 8+ billion people suddenly shoulder to shoulder in a digital environment may be looking for efficient ways to personally evolve ethically (justifiably) in consideration of the changes. 

Another factor is that in order to create a consistent narrative of self, the outside environment should also be consistent.  If the ground is in flux, so will be our efforts to answer the question “who am I? And am I good or bad, justifiable or not?”  A unified theory could be something to use to navigate and interpret a shifting reality once it is recognized as such.

Lastly, there is an issue of priority.  What should “we” be focusing on?  A Wall?  Carbon emissions?  Outer space?  Jainism?  A unifying narrative would, in theory, help with that.

At the bottom of it could also be a desire to figure out what’s going on with the tools of perception we were given, and then to experience fellowship along the way.  

Thank you for the question!


Sent from my iPhone

> On Jan 5, 2019, at 12:30 PM, Mark Stahlman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Gregg:
> Hey -- it's your place, so I'm happy to comply with whatever "tone" you'd like around here (w/ Emotional Warfare and all that jazz) . . . <g>
> I'm reading Chaisson and, sorry, I don't see anything that details the *meaning* of any of these terms in it.  What is "energy" (across all these domains)?  What does erg/second/gram mean in psychological/cultural terms (i.e. why does he have to "normalize" it)?  And why doesn't he use the term "information"?  What am I missing (and what the hell is an astrophysicist doing talking about "Big History" anyway) . . . ??
> I first started working in detail on "energy rate/flux density" in the mid-70s, after some careful analysis of attempts to apply the 2nd Law to life in the early-70s (or maybe late-60s, since it was a focus of my undergraduate work in biology.) My conclusion back then was that it simply didn't work.  Mathematics without meaning.  Physics over-reach (astrologically speaking.)
> I will try to find the basis of his Figure 5 "Rising complexity, empirically based" and ascertain if anyone else thinks this makes sense.  Note that there is only one curve.  This "metric" simply cannot account for "dimensions" even if if does work for "complexity" (which I'm pretty sure it doesn't.)  That's why others seem to rely on "degrees of freedom" (which, of course, arrives with its own set of problems.)
> Thanks for my homework assignment,
> Mark
> P.S. Perhaps the psychological "urge" to try to be the one who unifies everything *and* then makes it "evolve" is more important than the actual empirics of the situation?  Since the 1970s I've been involved with dozens of people who've tried to do this and, as best I can tell, they all failed.  Why would anyone want to do that?  What causes us to pursue this path and what does Plato have to do with it (philosophically speaking)?
> P.P.S. I did find Chaisson's 2006 "Epic of Evolution" on MotW.  Unfortunately his 2004 "Energetics Agenda" article in "Complexity" isn't online but I did find his 2014 "The Natural Science Underlying Big History" (in which Fig. 5 becomes Fig.2, attached.)  Btw, there are no footnotes in this part of the article, implying that he's pretty much on his own.
> Quoting "Henriques, Gregg - henriqgx" <[log in to unmask]>:
>> Hi Mark,
>> My intent was just to set a healthy boundary so that the tone of our list is clear.
>> I think a book comparing Deacon's approach to the ToK would be great.
>>  Another key concept in my system is behavior. I am working on mapping that, as I think it is central. Attached is an emerging draft powerpoint on it. Behavior connects to both energy and information. For a good, highly quantitative conception of energy and complexity that overlaps with the ToK map, see the attached paper from Chaisson.
>> Best,
>> G
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