Re: belief, faith, truth

From: Benjamin Udell <>
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 17:57:23 -0500

Brent, list,

>>[Ben] At this point I'm not talking about aspiring. I'm talking straightforwardly about being in control, making decisions -- at least for oneself. Some want more power than that. Some have more power than that and don't want it. Some have all that and want still more. Parents reasonable want control over their children. Most of us have had the opportunity to test our self-control, resist destructive temptations in life, etc. There's nothing any more or less "dualist" (I don't know what you're getting at) about self-governance than about self-awareness or any other reflexive sort of thing. Making one's own choices, being free to do that, having the backbone to do it, etc., these are everyday issues.

>[Brent] I guess I've lost the thread of this discussion. You're saying people value/want self-control - but sometimes they don't. Sometimes they have self-control - but sometimes they don't. I gather that a non-trivial decision means one between choices that evoke negative emotions, i.e. no "good" choices.

Really, I've been talking about means, ends, & other such elements, and trying to place them into familiar contexts, such as that of "wanting them" and "having them." You've been adding an unncessary conceptual layer by referring to them as "values," general ends, as if this were some substrate or genus shared by them. If something is a means, then it has value as a means, but what have you added by saying this? And it's an arbitrary choice of complication. You could say that a given thing, as a means, also:
1. is a decision point of some consequence in its role as a means
2. is used in various ways in its role as a means
3. is an end in being a means (i.e., its being a means, its manner of being a means, gives it instrumental value),
4. is a check in being a means (i.e., its being a means, its manner of being a means, makes it telling and evidentiary).

Now, if you say, "you mean it can have evidentiary _value_?", I'll respond "it can and very likely will have that, too, though it's not what I said or meant."

Then when I talk about decidings, you want to conceive of deciding as a "value" too., etc. To say that something has value, is to say that it is an end (an end to some extent, the extent varying as the value). To say that something has value as a means is to say that that thing is an end, because it is a means to some further end. It's true and important but it's distracting you. It's as if there were four ice cream cones including a chocolate one, and you added a second scoop, chocolate, to each of all four. Chocolate is cool, chocolate is deep, yet, and yet, they're not all chocolate, though they're quite capable for chocolate.

When you asked, "But is the value of logic and evidence inherent or only instrumental?" you were asking, are logic and evidence an end in themselves or are they a secondary end, an end whose achievement is mainly a means to a further end?

You had said it response to my saying, "Now, valuings and ideals are a side of the theoretical which tends to get minimized in the context of the practical-theoretical distinction, just as the difference in the practical between decision-making and performance tends to get sloughed over also in the context of practical-theoretical distinction. But there's no knowledge based on logic & evidence without valuing of logic & evidence..."

It may be that, in order to clarify my notion of 'end,' I should say "culmination," a kind of ending -- not just 'telos' but 'teleiosis,' reaching the end, actualization. The check is the confirming it, a kind of solidification and holding in completeness.

Now, when we pick or take something, sometimes it's so direct that we don't think of means as being saliently involved. But often enough there are these intermediate stages we go through, and intermediating things. If the decision is regarded as a kind of main cause, those middles appear, relative to the situation of interest, as intermediate causes, helpers, facilitating causes. Of course they're also intermediate effects. In any case we regard them as means. If the goal is achieved, effected, sometimes it's so directly obvious that we don't think of any checks as being involved. But often enough there are these collateral and at least a bit later things or events to which we look. If the goal is regarded as a kind of main effect, those things or events "on the side" or further in time appear, relative to the situation of interest, as side effects, after-effects, evidentiary effects. Just as in advance one may have desired & hoped for the end, one may have imagined and anti!
 cipated the collateral effects, the evidences. One then also will have hoped for them, but only because one hopes for them as signs of the goal's having been achieved. They aren't means to the goal, they're beyond and in addition to the goal in a rather similar sense as the means are beyond and in addition to the beginning, the deciding or governing. We depend on such checks a great deal and at least somewhat radically, anyway deeply. Our deep dependence on them is what separates us from purely instinctual animals and from vegetables, whose adjustments and adaptations in responses to conditions stop short of points beyond which we speak of design adaptations, which require evolution or intelligence. We're not quite to the point of redesigning ourselves biologically but we redesign much in our world. If a vegetable's decoding of a signal is "disconfirmed," this heightens its odds of leaving the gene pool -- the signal's 'recipient' is in a sense the evolutionary process. We !
 have not the worst brains and are sufficiently unbound to part!
 icular c
odes and systems of interpretation, sufficiently that we can test our interpretations and systems thereof, at least somehwat, rather than leaving that job mostly or entirely to biological evolution.

beginnings --> dynamics --> chaotic processes, sensitive dependence on initial conditions --> amplified differences, strengthened differences
middles --> matter --> stochastic processes, averaging dependence on intermediate-stage conditions --> averages, middles
ends --> life --> cybernetic, "feedback" processes, corrective, perfective dependence on outputs --> ends, functions
checks --> intelligent life --> intelligent, inferential processes, supportive, fortificative dependence on collateral conditions, after-conditions --> checks

And we're back at the correlations to
- variational principles
- probabilities
- information
- logic & inference

correlating (not equating) in turn to stages of a quantum particle's career in an experiment and correlating (not equating) ultimately to Tegmark Levels IV, III, II, I.

>[Brent] I think you'd find the experiments of Libet and Grey Walter interesting. They are not definitive, but they both provide evidence that decisions are made in the brain before one becomes conscious of them.

I read about something like that in the newspaper. It's interesting stuff but not relevant to anything that I've been getting at here.
>>>>>>[Ben] _/Arches kai mesa/_, beginnings/leadings, and means. It's the difference between (a) **will & character** and (b) **ability & competence**. Aristotle wrote his ethical treatises about character in a broader sense than exclusively that of morality, and character in that broader sense is what it's about. It's a shame that Aristotle didn't also write treatises about ability and competence, _/hikanoteta/_. Now, a carpenter, for instance, is not simply a means to carpentry, a means for carpented things to actualize themselves.
>>>>>[Brent] Has anyone every suggested such a thing?
>>>>[Ben] You have commited yourself to that view in dividing everything into means and ends ("instrumental value" and "inherent value"). Since you hold that view, you must say that the carpenter's decision to do a job is a means to that job or the end of that job.
>>>[Brent] No, that's not exactly my view. As I said, things can have both instrumental and inherent value. So a carpenter might decide to do a job because he needs the money and because he enjoys doing capentery. I didn't divide *everything* into "ends" and "means". I noted that *values* can be of two kinds or have two dimensions: instrumental and inherent. Some things aren't values at all - a decision is not usually a value for example.
>>[Ben] I don't see the conceptual or discussional advantage of preferring to keep framing means and ends as two instances of general ends -- values.

>[Brent] Perhaps it is because values can be negative, i.e. pain has a negative value for most and so it is never and end. However, it may be a means (pinch yourself to stay awake while driving).

These are merely terminological issues. Some results are fought against, call them negative ends, anti-ends, soever as suits taste. Now, you earlier said "I didn't refer to "means-ends", but if you value logic ;-) then "having inherent value" and "not having inherent value" must define an exhaustive dichotomy." Now in fact the dichotomy which you offered wasn't "having inherent value" versus "not having inherent value" but instad "inherent value" versus "instrumental value." It's your dichotomy because you treat it as exhaustive (since you have since made it clear that you equate "instrumental value" with "non-inherent value") and it's a dichotomy because though a thing can have both, it has them in different ways, on different accounts, even when these ways or accounts are essentially related to each other. Energy of rest and energy of potential or actual motion are a dichotomy and neatly sum to total energy, and a system certainly can have both rest energy and kinetic or p!
 otential energy. Equivalently, assuming the use of light units, m+e = E.

>>[Ben] Nevertheless, the idea that a decision is not usually also a value leads to incoherence. If a decision is not worth making, then why make it?

>[Brent] I was distinguishing "a decision" from "making a decision", the latter implies an action which is presumably of value.

I've gone over the question of painting means, ends, and related terms all as kind of ends, above.

>>[Ben] And if the decision to make a door is of value in making the door, and that value is neither the value of a means nor the value of an end, then what sort of value is it?

>[Brent] OK, I take your point. It can be regarded as of instrumental value "in making" the door. For example if I offered the carpenter a good price for a door and
that motivated him to decide to make the door, then his decision would be part of the chain that eventuates in my getting the door I wanted.

You've shifted viewpoint, reference frame. His very power to decide, and also his finally deciding something one way or another, may become means to my ends, means to the market's ends, etc. I'm not talking about that sort of thing. What's the value of decision to the decider? Don't think of it just in terms of "which decision," i.e. the goal, or as simply a mental decision. What's the value, for a decider, of being a decider? Some people want to be strong and powerful, some people want to have skills and be resourceful and productive, some people want to be moved and deeply feel and enjoy, and some people want to conceive, opine, understand, and know like it were going out of style. Some people focus on more than one of these things. What are the differences?

Or confining it to various kinds of decision-processes, conflicts, competitions, rivalries, debates, and their respective prizes, in four popular arenas --
1. political/martial/enforcement/protection 2. business & commerce 3. cultural 4. 'intellectual' (as we sometimes call it -- better just to call it popular discussion/debate)

Some want power. (Prize of conflict, the decision process about decision-making itself)
Some want wealth, means, resources. (Prize of competition & business, the decision process about means)
Some want wattage, glamour, splendor or popularity, and the nice kind of action, as we sometimes call it, that goes with it (Prize of the decision process about ends, perfections).
Some want guruhood, authoritativeness. (Prize of the decision process about checks, evidence, logical support).

>>[Ben] For me, it's first of all the value of a kind of beginning, a taking up or taking on, an empowering of oneself to risk a test. From another viewpoint, the given decision may be a means, and from another viewpoint, an end, and from another viewpoint, a confirmation. If the confirmation was sought, then the door-decision served as a confirmation which for its part was a goal achieved.
>>>>[Ben] Yet it is plain that the carpenter's decision is [correction: NOT] the carpenter's means and it is plain that the job is not a means for the carpenter to decide to do the job. This shows the inadequacy of means-ends as a dichotomy, a division of a whole into two.
>>>[Brent] It is not plain to me that the carpenter's decision is the capenter's means. If his decision is make a doorway, then his means are a series of actions. Of course making a door is not a means to decide to make a door. But what are the "means to decide"? I'd say they are consideration of the consequences of making a door and how they comport with the carpenter's values.
>>[Ben] Sorry, that was my typo. A carpenter's decision is NOT the carpenter's means. As for the rest, the carpenter's decision is not the end. If it were the end, then his decision to make the door would be the end, the goal, accoomplished by his making the door. The making of the door, and the made door itself, are not means to deciding to make the door in the first place. The carpenter's decision to make the door is, then, neither the means to the door, nor the end of the door (nor the end of making the door). Yet it has a role qua deciding in this means-end structure.
>>>>[Ben] The carpenter tries and deliberates, pursues, chooses or accepts (or rejects), and adheres to (or renounces) his/her underlying decisions even to do the work at all, throughout the process. Is all this volition a "means"?
>>>[Brent] No - I don't insist on *everything* being a means or an end. Somethings are neither, e.g. "volition". My view is that volition is a feeling that the brain attaches to decisions to mark them as internal - as opposed to, for example, perceptions which are external and not voluntary.
>>[Ben] I don't see the difference between human deciding and human volition. I don't mean the words "volition" or "will" in such a strong psychological sense. To will is just a more general term for to try, to seek, to decide or take, to adhere, or the contraries of those (to reject, etc.). Human agency is volition, humanly being affected is affectivity -- one's being affected by some of those external decisions which you mention. Cognitive perception is more a being or becoming supported than a being affected (e.g., wrenchingly). I think that the means-end dichotomy is weakened if you have these other relations constantly essentially _involved_ in it but they're just "other stuff.".And I don't think you succeed in delimiting a realm of "value" that can be divided into means and ends exhaustively,
>[Brent] You keep mischaracterizing my view. I don't insist on dividing values into means and ends. I see inherent and instrumental as two kinds of attributes a value can have. It can have them both at once; they are different but not contrary.

I've gone over this above; you regard "instrumental" & "inherent" as exhaustive of kinds of value, and I noted that they are a dichotomy for exhausitiveness and, despite what you say, mutual exclusion, since a thing can have both of them just as it can have both mass & energy, or both rest energy and non-rest energy. A thing can be both means and end, be an end on account of its being a means, etc. It's just not a means in the same sense that it is an end.

>>>>[Ben] the same problem reappears there. You have "instrumental" and "inherent" value -- mesic & telic -- and I pointed out (in different words) that there are archic values that are neither mesic per se nor telic per se. The Greek _arche_ does work better than the English "beginning."

>>[Ben] The problem is that will, deciding, etc., is always related to means and ends. So what is it, in means-ends terms? Means and ends are middles and ends, moyens et fins, medios y fines, mesa kai teloi, etc., etc. But the willing, the deciding is not, qua the kind of "beginning" which it is, either means or ends.

>[Brent] Above you argued that the carpenter's decision to build a door had instrumental value in building the door. So that would make it a means too.

As I said, that was a typo. And as I've said above and also previously, it is can also be a means, from another viewpoint or another frame of interests, etc. In fact it is very likely to be also a means -- just in a different respect, indeed in some related but different respect.

>[Brent] You seem to be concerned to carve out a special category for human decisions, a "will" or "volition" that is not determined by anything merely mechanical or calculable. That would be inconsistent with Bruno's "comp" hypothesis.

That would be inconsistent with it, not that I'd be particularly concerned about it. Anyway I'm not addressing any issues of free will or interested in anything like agreeing or disagreeing with that aspect of the comp hypothesis. I've been focusing primarily on issues like those of means and evidence and goals, where we are usually not at all concerned about what happened at or before the Big Bang, or what will happen a trillion years hence. I haven't been focusing on issues of physical and cosmological causation. That's why I keep worrying about off-topicality. I haven't been focusing on those issues even when I mention connections or parallelisms between those subjects' issues -- causes and effects, decision-making and satisfaction, etc..

>>>>>>[Ben] Somebody else's means, perhaps; the market's means perhaps, and so on. But it isn't the carpenter's means, it's the carpenter's leading, deciding, etc. which, by means, tools, resources, s/he carries out. This striving and deciding is most clearly seen as no mere means in contexts where control is truly at stake.
>>>>>[Brent] I would suppose that a carpenter has pride of workmanship and so there is inherent pleasure in doing his job well. His choice of this tool or that is partly instrumental relative to that pleasure. But he also does carpentry as a means to food, shelter, etc.
>>>>[Ben] So what? You're confusing the decision-making with the goals and values and feelings, as if, given a set of goals, the decisions were already made, or get made automatically, and as if people's decision-making were a trivial process.
>>>[Brent] I'm not sure what you mean by "trivial"? How do you know they aren't? Are you aware of the experiments of Libet and Grey Walter.
>>[Ben] No. I am extremely doubtful that some "experiments" are about to overthrow all the trouble that people take over decision-making in everyday life, in various disciplines, in various communities, in various practices and employments, and especially in various arenas -- in debate, in sports & fashion, in business & finance, and especially in politics and in war and combat.

>[Brent] I don't know what "overthrow" could mean in this context. But experiments may show that people don't make decisions the way they think they do.

I haven't even been talking about decisions as physiological phenomena or in any such context. I'm talking about decisions and getting things decided, on a continuum from a first impulse in a brain to the exertion and enforcement of that will far away, and even further than that, insofar as the _unintended consequences_ in an economic process, for instance, are also decisions and determinations reached by that process even when nobody involved wants them. How do decisions get made, even when they're not yours or mine or his or hers or theirs? That is the viewpoint which I've been taking. If I wonder how Eisenhower decided which day to go ahead with D-Day, I very much doubt the specific relevance of any such brain experiments. Likewise if I wonder about the decision process in juries, legislatures, electorates, businesspeople, labor unions, fans voting in a movie star contest, people following a debate, people trying to decide whether to buy oranges or nails, a research revie!
 wer trying to decide what to put into a report, etc., I'll expect there to be a whole lot to learn about it that has nothing special to do with brain chemistry. You keep alluding to some sort of means-end, instrumentality & pleasure calculus which would be all that one needs to know about decision-making -- that and some sort of brain phenomenon. The vying of wills among people, the vying of internal habits and "wills" within a person, don't seem to be an issue with you.

>>[Ben] The making of decisions, and the making decisions stick, is a very big part of life. We have police forces and justice systems for it, for instance. Sometimes people overemphasize process, but some respect for decision-making processes is essential in a free society.

>[Brent] A free society generally refers to one in which individuals get to make decisions for themselves - with as little help as possible from police forces and judges.

That disproportionately vague statement sounds as if you think it contradicts what I said. If you're saying that the only free society is one in which police forces and judges play no significant role, then your idea is not logically determined by reality and instead is itself the slave of your whimsy. If you don't mean that, then the statement was in fact a change of subject and sounds like you're saying that most decision-making is unimportant because it "should" be unimportant and absent in the right kind of society. What counts with you is the carpenter's calculus of pleasure, pleasurable pride, and efficient means. The idea that real people face real decisions which sometimes defeat them doesn't seem to have made an impression on you. Sometimes people, individually or collectively, make bad decisions -- not just picking the wrong door, the one with the booby prize behind it, but rather complexes of decisions such as to entangle themselves to the point of confusion, para!
 lysis, etc., and complicating and warping the decision process framework itself.

If one is thinking about things like mathematical decision theory, and thinking about its practical applications, then one is implicitly _conceding_ the importance of the decision-making process itself.

Then one will also note that it's not as if nobody ever thought about governing a decision process, dealing with or facilitating a decision process, variously and complexly valuing a decision process, or understanding a decision process before. It's not as if this second-order stuff were a new invention. To the contrary, one has to consider that in the real, human world, the second-order decision-making is _always going on_. When it's in regard to decision-making itself, it's called politics, combat, etc. I used to think that I should call this stuff "second-order," then I thought maybe I'd better call it "second-level." Now I'll fee free again to call it "second-order." Anyway, likewise there is always second-order performance, handling, application of ability. Likewise always second-order affectivity, valuings with regard to power, submission, (self-)governance (religion, morality/moralism, and many isms), and with regard to means and performance (care-how), and with rega!
 rd to feelings and gratifications, and with regard to cognition, belief, knowledge, etc. Again, we don't just, vegetable-like, decode; we test our interpretations and systems of interpretation, and we re-design and re-architect. We never stop doing that, individually and in the long run collectively, it's matter only of more or less and for better or worse.
>>[Ben] You might as well ask how I know that all thought processes represented on the everything-list aren't trivial.

>[Brent] I'm not asking you how you know (though I may get around to that). What I asked is what you mean by "trivial" or "non-trivial". My current guess is you just mean difficult in some sense, either because it is hard to forsee consequences or because all choices seem to be bad ones.

I hope I've clarified above.

>>[Ben] The selective employment of hyperbolic Cartesian doubt is not constructive.

>>>> [Ben] But goals and values and feelings sometimes conflict, in multifarious ways. Sometimes there is no clear answer and one has to decide anyway.
>>>[Brent] So what? It is usually uncertain what all the consequences of an action may be. Also people often have values that are not transitive, i.e. they prefer A to B and B to C and C to A; particularly when A, B, and C may be in different mental categories.
>>[Ben] This makes no sense. You're arguing that decision-making is still trivial

>[Brent] I didn't argue that anything was "trivial" because I don't know what you mean by it.

I hope I've clarified above. I mean it's not a calculus (or maybe an algebra or an arithmetic) of pleasures and means, such that when we know the prospective pleasures and means, we know all that we need to know about the decision-making that will be involved..

>>[Ben] even when decision-making is difficult and when the outcome is not absolutely assured.

>[Brent] You mean not absolutely predictable by a 3rd party?

That sort of question is not what I'm talking about. I mean difficulties than tend (and they will tend) to impact in second-order ways, for instance impact the decision process itself, for better, worse, or both, and, as one thing leads to another, get mixed up with all kinds of other things too. I get the feeling that there are certain kinds of situations in which you haven't been much involved, to which I would say, you may be better off.

>>[Ben] Is this supposed to be true in an individual, or among individuals in groups, or both?

>[Brent] It is certainly true in groups, c.f. Arrow's theorem. Although economists often assume that individuals have completely transitive value sets, experiments tend to show they don't.

I didn't mean to disagee that there are rocks-scissors-paper circular hierarchies in values. I mean, I don't know why you're arguing that decision-making may still be trivial even when it's complex and difficult, especially when you say you don't know what kind of triviality it is. I hope I've made its nontriviality a little clearer above.

>> [Ben]I f we care about what kind of society we live in, I don't think that we can regard decision-making, either in an individual, or among individuals, as trivial. And also you say that sometimes preferences are clear and somehow the occurrence of such cases is "good enough" -- for what? Is that supposed to be trivial or nontrivial decision-making? I'm not sure of your point there.

>[Brent] Me neither. I don't recall writing those things. I think maybe we are in violent agreement ;-)

I don't find your having written quite those things either. I think I got confused. Sorry about that.

>>>>>>[Ben] In the carpenter's sawing, hammering, etc., the exercise of skills and abilities, control is not really at stake. But in the carpenter's will and decision-making, control of the situation among various factors in the carpenter is at stake.
>>>>>[Brent] I think I understand the words, but the sentence leaves me blank.
>>>>[Ben] The carpenter may be of more than one mind on what to do. I don't mean that the carpenter has a multiple personality. I mean that the carpenter may be of more than one mind in just the sense that "more than one mind" is commnly used. Some element in the carpenter's mind will have to gain the upper hand. This will embody certain interests and efforts rather than others by the carpenter in his/her life. Or maybe the carpenter will solve diverse problems together with creative solution.
>>>[Brent] But whatever choice he makes it is his choice - his control wasn't at stake?
>>[Ben] Control within him was at stake. What are the controlling choices which he makes in life, the controlling repeated choices and habits? I'm not switching to psychology, but this is elementary psychology.

>[Brent] That goes with a modular theory of mind - which I find worth entertaining.

I don't know about modular theories of mind, but I think people can experience decisional dissonance, competential dissonance, affective dissonance, and cognitive dissonance.
The only one of those that doesn't seem obvious to me on re-reading it is competential dissonance -- I mean, for instance, when a person's dealings with some person or issue conflict with each other.

>>> And in every case you can also consider situations involving individuals in a group, and in various and overlapping groups.

>>>>>>[Ben] Now, one is free to devise an epicycle-filled "anthropo-nomy" in order to describe intelligent beings while classing volition and decision-making as mere means, but it's not particularly useful
>>>>>[Brent] It's the basis of a whole branch of mathematics called decision theory, a branch which is widely *used*.
>>>>[Ben] They can use it all they like, that won't stop the terminology from being inferior. Since we're talking about mathematicians, in whom eloquence is rarer than speech in goldfish, my safe guess is that they're just using words like "means" or "instrumentality" in sub-optimal ways. Economists talk about the inherent value which people ascribe to things but they call it "utility value." Unfortunately I can't recommend contemporary lit. depts. as any sort of remedy.
>>>[Brent] I'd recommend contemporary lit depts as sources of disease. :-)
>>[Ben] Well, we're in agreement there. I wonder why back when there used to be a "literary scene" in the USA, lit professors didn't find it strange that their depts., even the most prominent of them, had no relationship to it. On the other hand, at least in the old days lit professors very often did take some interest in literature. Anyway, I'm out of the lit loop these days.
>>>>[Ben] Anyway, I see no reason to take such terminologies seriously -- it's useless and counterproductive when the purpose is understanding.
>>>[Brent] One way of understanding the mind is to create an artificial one. People who do that find the terminology useful. See for example John McCarthy's writings on robots and self-awareness.
>>[Ben] Okay, seriously, I don't know anything about the terminology of mathematical decision theory. If I saw it, I might find it quite reasonable. The idea that they call decisions "means" bothers me, if that's what they do. I know how they'd take such objections -- they'd ask, how would meeting such objections improve decision theory? Well, I wouldn't know specifically.

>[Brent] They'd call decisions about whether to make a decision "2nd order decisions" - not "means".

Well, I consider that very reasonable, I've called it that myself in the past.

>>>>>>[Ben] Another way to see this is by a set of examples comprising an exhaustive set of a certain kind of combinations of the two.
>>>>>[Brent] What two - you seem to introduce a lot more than two things below?
>>>>[Ben] 1. Choice and decision-making. 2. Means, methods, practices. Then I combine those two things in four ways.
>>>[Brent] Oh, OK. So choice about means is economics - but isn't it also engineering?
>>[Ben] The soundbyte characterization of economic activity as choice in regard to means is from the Austrian School of economics. I would characterize engineering as a discipline, a cultivated kind of know-how. Knowledge in regard to means. Again, a soundbyte characterization. I don't mean I read book and become an engineer. If you set such practical/productive disciplines concerned with means, as engineering, set them alongside decision-making about means, the differences will stand out better and the reasons for such choices of characterization will appear more clearly. Business is competitive, businesspeople make decisions, decisions about reforming a company are also business decisions, and in competition things get decided beyond the power of individual businesspeople. It's a larger decision-making process, rife with unintended consequences. Conflict, competition, decidings. That's what it is. And it's in regard to means, resources, etc. Sure, one can pursue a discipli!
 ne of business, but that's a discipline _about_ business and applied in business. Nobody calls business, itself, "know-how." One immediately associates "know-how" to things like engineering. Business, in the
general sense, is more like "decide-how," though it's true that nobody would call it that, I think because somehow that "how" doesn't clearly evoke means in the full-fledged instrumental sense.

>>[Ben] Art has been characterized as essentially a process of selection, or selective composition, by Wordsworth for instance. But I would characterize it as a _discipline_, a cultivated kind of knowing or understanding in what effects one feels things (affectively). This combination of cognition & affectivity in its basics has, I think, something to do with why beauty (or whatever one wants to call it, the aesthetic value) is not necessarily hedonistic and seldom has been hedonistic. Artistic beauty is a spectator kind of thing, the spectator may feel moved and infused with complex precise feelings, but remains usually a spectator, though some playwrights in particular have tried to change that. Anyway, the works are embodiments of such understandings. Not a systematic, scientific knowledge or understanding. Such would be affective psychology. Psychology or any discipline of knowledge or research is a cultivated kind of learning or knowing in or on what light or basis one !
 learns or knows things.

I would add here that those characterizations are following the second-order first-order pattern in the phrase "deciding about decisions." The characterizations are simplified, "coarse-grained," though. An engineers know-how is not just his knowing a bunch of methods. There's applied scientific knowledge, among other things, in there, and the methods often have to do with researching a problem, testing, etc. In fact one doesn't have to be an engineer in order to sequence various remedies to a problem of uncertain cause in such a way as to hopefully minimize cost and in any case to yield information about the problem's cause along the way.
>>>[Brent] And don't generals choose the means the means to attack or defend? I guess "with regard to" seems very vague to me.
>>[Ben] They are some very general characterizations. I think such characterizations have more value if done systematically, such that, for instance, the linking "with regard to" varies systematically when made more specific. That's just too complicated for this discussion.

>>[Ben] A means which is a way of contesting or fighting to retain control, where control is significantly at stake, is not just a workaday means, it's a weapon, an enforcer, a decider, your decider against others. Arms, defensive & offensive, armadas, ammunition, etc. Then think of all those things which in nonviolent conflicts we call weapons and defenses -- not literal swords and shields yet serving parallel functions. Again, the overall context is important -- is it a context of struggle to gain or keep control, or is it cooperative or at least tolerant, with forces safely under control? It's the difference between fighting, and work or chores.

>>[Ben] Now, any added thing which enhances is apt to be called a means. Icing on the cake is kind of means or way to enhanced pleasure. Really it's an enhancement of the end, not a tool or resource toward an end. But still, it's one of those added things. The sword isn't you (though you're supposed to wield it as an extension of yourself), it isn't your goal or your opponent or your victory, it's in between and amid those things, so it's natural to see it as a kind of middle. But its role is really not that of mediating and facilitating, instead it's your will, or your general's will, in steel, clashing for control, whereby you empower yourself or your general, or are overcome.

>>>>>[Brent] Or maybe a lot of categories we've invented for the work.
>>>>[Ben] Politics & martial affairs; business; management & compliance; skills of labor & cooperation -- "invented categories"? That's not a serious remark.
>>>[Brent] Why not? I could also categorize the same actions as communication, calculation, and physical labor? All categories are invented. My point was that simply classifying something according to a lot attributes doesn't make that something any bigger (or smaller).
>>[Ben] Which of those activities could possibly be categorized as "calculation"? That's the most surprising thing that you've said.

>[Brent] Management is the allocation of resources, which often involves calculation.

It involves calculation? That doesn't mean you can reasonably characterize it AS calculation. There's simply nothing realistic about your view there.
Management is allocation of resources, particularly as a practice, or skilled practice, etc. Also I was talking about management and administration as well, thinking also of government regulators applying regulations, and also about compliance, what those of us do who are managed, regulated, etc. (I'm not talking about one's efforts at opposition, which can get more political, belligerent, etc. in one sense or another. Then of course there's conflict management. There really are more than two orders or levels to these things, though for broad outlines two are convenient.)

>>[Ben] If categories are all "invented," arbitrary, then there's no point in their whimsicality.

>[Brent] Invented isn't the same as arbitrary.

Sometimes they come pretty close. In any case, some categorizations have more sense &/or thought &/or history in them than others. In terms of how seriously one takes them in the first place, one can't have one's cake and eat it too..

>>[Ben] Anyway, the point of those four was to bring into clearer relief the destinctions between deciding and performance, character & competence, etc, by pondering what each of the four actually involve. One of them could be classed as calculation? That's a stretch right out of sight.

>>>>>[Brent] I'm always suspicious of schemes with "Levels". Sometimes the schemer invents the levels to put his opinions at the highest (and implicity, the best) level.

Actually, both extremes have their cachets -- one highest, one most basic.

>>>>[Ben] I was talking about Tegmark's Levels and correlations thereto, as I mentioned that I thought I should try to bring the discussion "back to the Everything," I'm not aware of high-low valuations among those Levels.
>>>[Brent] OK.
>>[Ben] Another piece of agreed clarity. But I don't know how much longer we can get away with this off-topicality.

>[Brent] No problem. You talked about Tegmark's levels. I got us back on topic by pointing out that your theory of mind is inconsistent with Bruno's "comp" - if I understand them correctly.

I hope I clarified above that I'm not offering or focusing on the kind of theory of mind such as would raise issues of consistency or inconsistency with Bruno's "comp."
As for Tegmark, I at least gestured in his direction again somewhere above.

Ben Udell
Received on Wed Feb 01 2006 - 17:59:24 PST

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