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    nmw 18:37:25 on 2015/09/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , communities, , , cultures, , , , , , , , , , societies, , sociological, , , ,   

    Delusions of Grandeur 

    Wikipedia.org has two articles that seem somewhat related — one is about “delusions of grandeur”, the other is about “grandiosity”. From the latter:

    A distinction is made between individuals exhibiting grandiosity, which includes a degree of insight into their unrealistic thoughts (they are aware that their behavior is considered unusual), in contrast to those experiencing grandiose delusions, who lack this capability for reality-testing. Some individuals may transition between these two states, with grandiose ideas initially developing as “daydreams” that the patient recognises as untrue, but which can subsequently turn into full delusions that the patient becomes convinced reflect reality.

    In this post, I hope to describe how my own world view is strongly shaped by sociological thought, rather than such psychological approaches. The way I see it, psychology tries to explain the behavior of individuals without any reference to the groups, communities, cultures or societies they are a “part” of. In my opinion such a perspective is wrong on many grounds — perhaps the most significant one is the nearly ridiculous view that the psychologist apparently considers himself/herself able to make observations regarding people that might pass muster as “scientific” or “objective”; a close second is the quite obvious observation almost anyone with even a minimal education could make, namely that people are indeed very strongly affected by other people. As psychology and psychiatry are normally considered to fall within the discipline of medicine, their focus is nearly exclusively on biological organs. This very parochial approach is not always and everywhere followed by each and every psychologist / psychiatrist (indeed, just a single exception would suffice to discredit such a hypothesis), but one can hardly deny that the more any psychologist / psychiatrist pays attention to sociological factors, the less likely they will be considered to be bona fide  medical professionals.

    Let me try to make all of this a little more concrete with an example. Sometimes people say to me: “You can only change yourself — you cannot change others”, several ideas occur to me (but most of these ideas are not exactly in my direct consciousness — I have to reflect on them in order to bring them fully into my awareness). First of all: Why does this person say this to me? If we cannot change other people, are they not wasting their breath in talking to me at all? Indeed: Following this thinking, it is completely absurd that humans developed language, that we send our children to school, that we pay people to do jobs, and so on.

    Secondly, even if this were not a completely absurd thing to say, I think: “Does this person actually consider me to be such a narcissistic idiot, that I might think I could say ‘X’ and then expect other people to simply ‘fall in line’?” What image do they have of me, to suppose that I would think this way? Although I do admit that I am happy when someone shares my opinion, I do not expect that other people will always accept my way of thinking. It is merely my opinion — and even if I strongly defend it, that certainly doesn’t mean I consider it to be an indisputable truth.

    Here is another example, perhaps even a little more extreme than the previous one: There is a so-called “Law of Attraction”, a quasi theory which wikipedia.org declares has no scientific basis — “the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life”. In other words: merely by thinking something — nothing more than a mental state — people might be able to cause such events to happen … no, indeed even it is more fantastic than that: The supposition is that there is some sort of natural law, which will force these things to come about. Apparently, there must be a lot of people who think too much about cancer, or maybe they can’t help themselves from constantly thinking about car accidents. I do admit to having thought about sunny days before, but that doesn’t mean these thoughts actually brought about sunny days, does it?

    In contrast, I feel that a large part of the world we live in is socially constructed. No one can succeed on their own. Every success is a matter that is sanctioned by some group, some community, some culture, some society, etc. People who feel they are able to succeed on their own are deluding themselves. They apparently do not wish to accept the role that other people have played in achieving their status, their privileges and/or their awesomeness.

     

     
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    nmw 08:43:05 on 2015/08/25 Permalink
    Tags: communities, , describe, description, descriptive, , , , , , , , , , , , , , specification, specifications, specify, , , , ,   

    Names vs. Words: Strings for Identity vs. Strings for Information 

    There is a long-standing tradition of distinguishing names from words — although it is not formally codified (even language itself is not “set in stone”, but rather is undergoing constant evolution — much like a living being), it can be roughly said that whereas words are in the (or a) dictionary, names are strings listed on specialized lists (e.g. baby names, trademark names, names identifying a company, product, service, etc.

    The purpose of names is to identify, and ideally a name should uniquely identify something (or someone). In an ideal world, a name would signify just one thing and exclude everything else. Try to explain that to John or to Joe or to Jane Doe and you will quickly realize we do not live in an ideal world. It seems that so-called “last” names were introduced several hundred years ago in order to more specifically exclude other Johns and other Joes … and perhaps some day soon we will again have to figure out how to make names like Jane Doe uniquely refer to this Jane and not that Jane.

    Such thinking is what leads many to think that the most perfect name is a name which is the most extremely exclusive. Rare is good, unique is best.

    Names have some similarity to words in selecting particular things, but they are also crucially different. Certainly no one would ever want to confuse eating with sleeping, and to mix up sex with rex would make many actors and tyrransauri in heaven rather “most irate”. Language does aim to specify, but it does not aim to specify uniquely. We eat many times over, we sleep many times over, we do and experience all sorts of things over and over again — more or less.

    Therefore, although rare words exist (as do common words), I do not know of a single word that could be described as unique. Likewise, I very much doubt that a universal word ever existed (though it seems as though this is alleged to be the beginning of everything, as we find in the very first book the Bible, Genesis, the statement that “in the beginning, was the word”).

    Today, we have a much more refined understanding of language. We understand that languages are not formed by decree or by other kinds over government regulation or state control. Instead they evolve according to the needs, wishes, whims and rational preferences of living people — in a sort of evolutionary process guided by principles much like “supply” and “demand” (and also the physical dexterity of the vocal apparatus, etc.). In some ways, language may perhaps be understood to evolve in symbiosis with humans, rather than being a technology devised by humans.

    There is little doubt in my mind that so-called natural language is the most basic of all information technologies, especially if you include such messages as are conveyed by intonation, gesticulation, facial expressions, body language, etc. into your notion of natural language. The importance of this fact is usually overlooked when people discuss “information technology” (IT) today.

    The main point I wish to make with this post is the following: It is very important to discern between names and words. The information technology (IT) functions referred to as “search”, and also “community”-oriented information retrieval must rely heavily on words (as only words/language can function as the basis of communication). In sharp contrast, identity is the opposite of  what is commonly referred to as “social” — it must be exclusively private, and ideally it would actually be unique.

     

     
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    nmw 15:03:40 on 2014/12/21 Permalink
    Tags: binary, , choices, , communities, , decide, decision, decisions, , , , , , , , , organization, organizations, , , ultimatum,   

    Your Money or Your Life 

    Oftentimes, when I tell people that I don’t vote for (or against) politicians or political parties, they act as though this meant I weren’t a “free person”… or as if I were giving up some of my democratic freedoms.

    Quite the contrary: I choose not to vote for people involved in these organizations. At the same time, I engage very much in promoting other organizations.

    In my opinion, when people think that their freedom is exercised by voting in political elections, then they are actually limiting their own freedom to choosing nothing more than left or right, yes or no,… — indeed: a very limited number of choices (basically, it usually boils down to an “either / or” choice — much like when being held up at gunpoint and being given these two options: “your money or or life?”).

    Since I know many words, I can compose a vast number — perhaps even an infinite amount — of choices. I am not limited to simply grunting “yea” or “nea”, to banging on the ground with a club, or anything like that.

     
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    nmw 14:10:51 on 2014/10/09 Permalink
    Tags: , Categorical Imperative, , collabortive, communities, , cooperation, cooperative, , dystopia, dystopian, economic development, , , , , , , Immanuel Kant, , , , Kant, , , , , , , , , , , utopia, utopian,   

    Kant’s Big Mistake? 

    In my previous post I referred to Kant’s “Categorical Imperative”. Here, let me entertain the following suggestion: That Kant made a big mistake.

    Kant wrote a lot. If he was consistent in his thinking, that would mean that he wanted everyone to write a lot. Now since he lived several hundred years ago, Kant never had to face the prospect of having to read dozens, hundreds, thousands or even millions of volumes of text, with rarely one of them rising above the level of completely ephemeral blather (in my opinion, this is primarily due to how the coincidence of copyright law and mass production of printed paper had not yet taken its course into its swirling destiny of mind-numbing confusion). Had Kant ever envisioned the world we live in today, he would have probably immediately had a heart attack and died on the spot right then and there.

    There is some irony to how my main goal in life is something quite similar to making this frightening, horrific vision actually come true — but to do so in a way that might satisfy the hopes and dreams of literate people everywhere. One of the main reasons why I am so focused on literacy is that I do not feel that publishing hogwash improves anything anywhere (except, perhaps, for people who “make money” that way — and in particular only insofar as it fulfills their financial obsession and their fetish for cash).

    Yet I feel optimistic enough to believe that everyone is particularly literate at something… — what’s your thing?

     
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