January 2019


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Mark Stahlman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
tree of knowledge system discussion <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 5 Jan 2019 09:30:48 -0700
text/plain (108 lines)

Wow!  That's not "pushback," it's in-your-face-back . . . <g>

Language is inherently equivocal.  That is why some people prefer  
mathematics, in the hopes of avoiding that problem.  Since mathematics  
doesn't describe actual reality, they inevitably fail in that effort.

When I make a statement that is *deliberately* unclear (i.e. I'm  
"coining" new terms and relationships, such as those you've cited), I  
fully expect anyone who is engaged to ask me what I mean (or just  
ignore it, saving us both the time.)  That's the whole point.  It's an  
invitation to a deeper discussion.  And I've had hundreds of them as a  

The problem comes in when people use language that they *don't* expect  
anyone to question!  Instead of a deep conversation about fundamentals  
-- which is my goal -- this leads to superficial chatter in which the  
underlying issues are left under-the-rug, on purpose, since no one  
seems to know what they mean so why embarrass themselves.

"Information" is one of those terms.  So are "energy" and "complexity"  
and "emergence" &c.  They are all highly freighted with complicated  
histories -- often involving basic disagreements (which the  
participants often don't understand themselves.)  At some point anyone  
using them in a non-casual way will have to clarify what they mean, as  
I'm sure you'd agree.

These are your terms and this is your forum.  So, take a shot at it  
(and if I wasn't serious, why would I waste mine own time) . . . !!


P.S. Of course you aren't a philosopher (no need for quotes, which  
imply ambiguity, not "scary.") Based on what you've said hereabouts,  
you don't seem to have even studied the topic in any depth.  Have you  
carefully read any philosophers?  What do you have on your bookshelf?   
Please correct me if I'm wrong!

Professionally and by academic training you are a Clinical  
Psychologist.  You have implicitly criticized that profession and  
training for not having a coherent "theory" and have undertaken to  
address that problem.  I have repeatedly described you as "brave" for  
doing this.

This is a very difficult task.  As you know, when Freud, Jung &al  
attempted to do this, they had to use what they imagined to be  
"scientific" results to justify their speculations.  Little Hans.   
Little Anna.  They failed.  No one today seriously believes that they  
"proved" anything.

Being a "philosopher" (or anything else of this sort), involves being  
able to have detailed conversations with professionals in that field.   
Too be taken seriously by others who claim to be serious (or at least  
get paid for doing it.)  I've been doing that with psychologists --  
specifically in terms of "consciousness studies," "perception,"  
"psycho-pharmacology," "evolution of mind" for decades -- so you will  
have to ask them if I qualify or not . . . <g>

P.P.S.  Terrence Deacon isn't a philosopher either but he seems to  
have had some success talking to them (or maybe not.)  Since he's got  
the "best-seller" in terms of "levels of complexity," I'm hoping that  
someone -- preferably not you, since you have your own "justification"  
to worry about -- will compare the ToK to what he presents in his  
"Incomplete Nature" &c.  I'm sure many ambiguous terms will be  
involved and that might be an opportunity to try to sort them out.

Quoting "Henriques, Gregg - henriqgx" <[log in to unmask]>:

> Mark,
>   Happy New Year to you also.
>   I am sorry but I need to push back a little here. Back in 2018,  
> you said very directly on this list that I was "no philosopher." Now  
> you are claiming that you are a "psychologist"? Let's just say I am  
> glad you put scare quotes around that term.  In addition, since you  
> often adopt an approach that my friend Edward Kroger would call an  
> "Inflated A" position (i.e., a dominant, competitive,  
> I-know-more-than-you approach), prior to proceeding, I need to make  
> clear that I have seen the language game that you use. All the time,  
> you make claims such as "Digital is Memory"..."Television is  
> Fantasy" and so forth. If memory serves, you at one point said on  
> your list that "story telling is Electric" and thus humans did not  
> start telling stories until the 1850s. My point here is that your  
> critique/questioning of these concepts is framed in a way seems to  
> imply that you have a language system that is free from ambiguity.  
> And, of course, both of us know nothing could be further from the  
> truth.
>   With that said, if you are still seriously interested in how I  
> conceptualize information and energy and other foundational terms, I  
> am happy to discuss it with you. However, I am not going to enter  
> into a "debate" with an implicit set up that you already know the  
> answers.  Since we are both "psychologists," I am sure you can  
> appreciate the need and utility for calling the relational influence  
> field for what it is.
> Cheers,
> Gregg


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