My agenda for 2019

January 6, 2019

A new year seems always full of promise, and often filled with promises. Here I’d like to focus on promise – pro-mise, forth-put, forward-sent Promise singular carries overtones of budding, boding, burgeoning, blooming, blossoming (have just discovered burjon means bud Promises plural often carries undertones of burdens, burdening myself with commitments, obligations, expectations to be managed if not fulfilled.

So with my focus on burgeoning promise rather than burdening promises, I would like to review insights from recent immersion in self-understanding literature, including Stoic and Buddhist mindfulness, resilience and inquiry, value and virtue ethics, epistemology, developmental self-profiling and ACT.

Understanding my experiences – all of them literally embodied in me as me, as my metabolism, via my ingestion and activities, as my meta-metabolism of emotion and empathy, via my feeling and thinking – and understanding also ‘my’ explanations of them, also literally embedded in me as me, as my principles and precepts, my proscriptions and prescriptions, my ‘never do’s and ‘always do’s – frees realisation of how my experiences and explanations might provide explications as expressions of my values, and expediences as my virtues, as my contributions to eudaemonia, people’s flourishing.

So a variety of environmental primings, promptings and precipitants over recent months have helped me recognise that encounters that produce discomfort, disturbance or distress indicate issues requiring resolution to which I would like to contribute, without presently seeing how to do this.

One issue is identifying viable local and national solutions to rough-sleeping and homelessness, that would enable people both to be and be known to be able to sleep dry, warm and safe each night, also to stay dry, warm and safe each day (so not required to stay out of night shelters, hostels and B&Bs each morning). Going along with this is enabling people to earn something every day, by providing opportunities for paid work, whether cleaning the hostel and its facilities, growing, preparing, serving food for residents, and cleaning up afterwards, or fund-raising, perhaps with community work.

Another issue is imprisonment: prisons and prisoners, reparation and rehabilitation. Old forms of prison entrain deprivation of liberty, dignity and humanity with punitive retribution, suspicion and surveillance. How can lack of liberty, dignity and humanity develop acceptance of constraints and contentment in community required by rehabilitation for community life? Surely deprivation of liberty in a prison community is useful only if a containing community enables experience of contentment in community.

A third issue is provision of social care for any- and everyone who needs it: elderly people frail through insult, illness or injury, mental and physical, including neuropsychophysical diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, and depression and loneliness; people with mental or physical constraints, children, youth and adults with learning difficulties, people recovering from illness, surgery, or cancer treatment; people with life-shortening or terminal illnesses; carers needing respite. Current care provision seems to see carees, carers and the care situation as somehow peripheral, not central to social life, although societies around the world recognise an increasing need for a model of a seamless care service that integrates provision of care for people with various support needs in various situations and settings by people with various needs in various relationship situations and domiciliary settings – which all of us will need.

A fourth issue is education in effective epistemology and affective empathy, as recognition of what elements in any authoritative or authorial account might at first seem or feel authentic or true to me, and how, and why, in distinction from what elements on reflection really are and are not true for me, as realisation of how and by what I experience authenticity or lack of it. A consistent, coherent integration of information and experience requires a hermeneutic fabric and a heuristic rubric for recognising and reviewing how an experience reverberates or resonates with me, in terms of its truth to and for me, and of my trust in that truth. People can be enabled to realise that assertedly authoritative accounts may be neither actually authentic nor factually true, so not in fact authoritative, and authorial accounts similarly. Then the issue becomes, what about it invited or impelled my initial assent, what changed on reflection, and what can I learn about trusting my truth?

A fifth and for now final issue is the place of governance and governments. What on earth is governance for? What in the world do governments do? Mostly governance sets social courses to desired destinations for national and supra-national entities, then governments set out to steer those entities toward those destinations as speedily as possible, usually avoiding or averting collisions with other entities, but sometimes attempting collision courses or asserting collisions. Given one earth to govern and one world around which governments are setting course for and steering to a small set of desirable destinations, crowded courses and consequent collisions seem inevitable – unless the desired destinations, or the social goods to be found there are attainable via another course. So what exactly is desirable about the social destinations set by governance? Mostly, it’s the promise of ‘the good life’ for everyone: good births, good deaths, and good everything in between, in a good environment for a good life for all life on earth. How can a good life for all life on earth be achieved? The sun provides enough energy to sustain all earth’s life cycles, so the single social issue is attaining desirable distribution of desired components of a good life for all earth life.

Ecology indicates required components for a good life are clean air, water, shelter, food, activity, in ecosystems consisting of accidental assemblages functioning as communities, common service, in mutualism, co-operation, competition, symbiosis, parasitism, obligate, opportunistic or facultative. Emergent community life in ecosystem assemblages resembles human life: homes and homelessness, liberty and lack of liberty, communal coexistence, social management of young, old, ill, incapacitated. So the issue is simply, how could all life on earth enjoy a good life, birth to death, cradle to grave?

Around the world, people undertaking several sorts of social management are reconsidering models of care of the people for the people by the people. This is the issue in front of us all: how shall we care for the people we love in ways that will enable the people who love us to be able to care for us? The desired destination is ultimately the means to ensure good lives for all, no matter what accident of assemblage or insult, injury or illness may have incapacitated anyone, since ensuring a good life for all is the simplest and best way to ensure earthwide worldwide community safety and security, care of all for all by all. This is the promise of new insights this new year.

What is understanding?

December 11, 2018

Listening to BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning, heard Prof. Vivienne Ming discussing machine learning algorithms.  At one point someone remarked ‘Machines can learn, but they’ll never understand’.

Looking up the Royal Society’s current lecture series ‘You and AI’, found a similar remark about machines learning but never understanding.  So I wondered whether there is any agreed definition of understanding that clarifies what in or about understanding is posited as a solely human property (or perhaps there is some extension to biotics?)

Further applications of a similar position, perspective and prospect on understanding – leaving aside for now the specifics of what that might be – include the remark in Radio 4’s Start the Week programme yesterday as someone was explaining means of what was called tree ‘communication’, then someone else drew some parallel (at present can’t remember what) with some form of animal communication, and someone else warned against anthropomorphism.

Another application is in Gregory Chaitin’s theories of algorithmic learning.  Mathematical rules and their reliability within mathematics and in science and other rigorous studies are seen as indicating some independent truth implicit and explicable in mathematics – almost like the idea of Logos.

Two issues arise in and with these assertions: on the one hand human exemptionalism and on the other an inverse anthropomorphism rooted in anthropocentrism that implicitly and explicitly diminishes other species by failing to recognise and understand that all entities respond in similar or identical ways to the currently recognised range of energies and elements.

Thus communication can be posited as stimulus and response in separation, with the transmutation of hormonal metabolic-neurochemical substances into other similar substances within and between separate entities seen as communication.  The recognition of similar shared standard mechanisms of sensory reception and response to commonly shared hormones, activated by and mediated in and through standard means of metabolic reception, ‘recognition’ and response  – as in ‘animals smell fear’ – somehow seems to slip into its own transmutation into symbolic rather than metabolic form, that takes it from straightforward physical impingement to symbolically mediated implications.

Thus hormones produced by snail-rasped seaweed or deer-nibbled trees, conveyed by water or air to sensory reception (physical and metabolical) by other metabolisms in the vicinity which produce some ‘response’ hormone, that in turn impinge on and influence other species, seem to be seen both as physical-physiological elicited behaviour, and as signal-symbol-mediated communication, but without any attempt at integration to indicate that all supposedly symbol-mediated effects are regular hormone-metabolic effects that in turn effect recognisably regularities of reception and response in plants, animals and humans, and that recognitions of regularities by plants, animals and humans are hormonal-neurochemical-metabolic regularities.   Previous attempts to describe and demonstrate these subtle and slippery issues clearly and convincingly have been laboured, but here goes again.

Human exemptionalism and anthropocentric anti-anthropomorphism go together in somewhat odd ways with this transmutation of metabolic regularities into meta-metabolic symbolism. On the one hand humans see themselves as uniquely intelligent, evolved/created by god or the universe to be able to read into the universe its real meanings and motives (rather than human projections of human meanings).  Humans see themselves as exceptions to hormone-effected metabolically mediated animal behaviour. On the other hand attempts to indicate similarities between human, animal and plant behaviour, especially if hormone-mediated responses are shown to be similar to supposedly symbol-mediated human responses, precipitates cries of ‘beware anthropomorphism’, as a scientific pseudo-sinful failure of rigour, as though humans were projecting human meanings and motives onto animals and plants.  This seems both schizophrenic and paranoid.

Human exemptionalism: postulating maths as an inadvertent (Chaitin says random) pre-existing (ie pre-human-discovery-existing) repository of some kind of propositional-relational truth that represents or reflects some kind of universal reality regularity, in, of and as itself and/as a symbol system, that humans happened to discover then to recognise as internally rigorous, leaves two questions hanging: if maths is pre-existing so independent of humans, what is maths without human explication; and if it took humans (ie human perceptual and conceptual apparatus) both to discover maths and to recognise its universal reality as immanence and transcendence, how is human discovery and recognition different from human invention? 

Anthropcentric anti-anthropomorphism defends traditional differentials between humans and other species, on the grounds that uniquely among biota humans transcend metabolically-mediated effects – even while recognising precizely these effects in some cases, yet without integrating these positions, perspectives and prospects.

Understanding is the issue at issue, and its relationship to the conception of human intelligence, as the adaptation for evolutionary human selection (the current continuation of human dominance promoted as ordained in most scriptures).  Intelligence confers understanding.  Intelligence – which as previously noted on this blog means ‘reading into’ and ‘choosing among’ (from ‘inter’ and ‘legere’) is not what machines have.  Artificial intelligence – better described as ‘augmented intelligence’ according to Prof Ming – does rote mass data processing using human criteria much faster than humans.  While this is seen as intelligence, literal ‘reading into’ and ‘choosing among’, it is not seen as understanding. How should understanding be understood to obviate human exemptionalist anthropocentric anti-anthropomorphism?

Radio reflecting (on) epistemic issues

November 1, 2018

My long-suffering haircutter yesterday endured (not for the first time) my enthusiastic explications of links among several recent radio interviews, articles and/or programmes that seem to go straight to the heart of epistemic issues in regard to true and false, right and wrong, experients and expedients.

First a list of the programmes with brief synopses:

Programme: Edward Stourton (sp? check later) presented a programme on assassination, with particular reference to Israel’s recent authoritised account of its use of assassination, identifying problems with unintended and unanticipated consequences of assassination, attempted and/or achieved.

Interview: (in R4 Today on Tuesday or Wednesday I think) Prince Zaik, recently resigned UN ? officer for human rights, who very humanely and temperately discussed various issues in regard to Hashoggi’s murder, Saudi, Yemen, hate speech, arms sales, alliances and influence, Brazil’s new president elect, and related issues (can’t remember whether he specifically also addressed US pipe bombs and synagogue killings).

David Milliband (also in Today?) in similar vein, with a particular focus on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Both raised the role of ‘hate speech’ in political and popularist divisiveness.  Governance arguably entails uniting national populations in shared inheritance and interest, but popularism seems to do the opposite, positing them and us or let’s you and him and her fight. Or maybe oppositional positioning is a main means of differential media portrayal.

Bridget Kendall (sp? check) on the current seeming breakdown of post-war consensus on national-international governance.  Someone’s analysis (in Bridget Kendall’s programme) that the arguably voluntary peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Empire was responded to by US defence secretary James Baker’s failure or refusal to recognise moral magnanimity, with arrogant assertion that the Warsaw pact should immediately be dismantled and tried to recruit its former members to NATO; Tony Blair’s thoughts about whether more or other could and should have been done to welcome Russia to the West. Echoes of Versaille (and the wholesale US-Europe default or rather renege on the WW1 surrender agreement that arguably led to fascism, Hitler and WW2).

One of these stated that arms sales were subect to the principle that they are used only for national defence, never for internal oppression or external aggression, which clearly isn’t the case for Saudi…

Another item – on Woman’s Hour I think – noted that if girls saw themselves as puppies they might be less critical of themselves, and someone else noted that comments often represented critical self-talk turned out onto others, so if everyone had puppies for their avatars, hate speech in comments would be harder, because no-one would criticise or be cruel to a puppy.  (Although some raise puppies by ‘rub their noses in their naughties’).

Collecting these is a first step to explicating the links among them that taken together, outline issues in getting from experients to expedients, in principles for governance that make explicit underlying values and make transparent all factors in policies, internalised and externalised, to do away with conspiracy theories (large and small) on the one hand and cock-ups (especially where any conspiracy is taken as true) on the other.  This leaves and leads to kindness as the only valid viable value.

More about kindness

October 11, 2018

Brief notes as time for writing now somewhat limited.


Kindness is turning out to be a very interesting word.  Kindness means recognising ourselves and each other as of a kind, of one kind, like, alike, akin, of one ilk.  In terms of justified true belief, OOO’s model of real and sensual obects and their real and sensual qualities posits metaphor as unjustified but true belief, and knowledge – understood as a kind of expertise – as justified but untrue belief.  This will need further unpacking later. Modelling seems more accurate an account than knowledge.

If epistemology is always empathy with one’s previous experiences, the experiencing of resemblance, likeness, identity, similarity, and familiarity of one encountered experience with another, that likeness may be sufficient to entail and entrain kindness, recognition of shared features, like metaphor, so unjustified but true belief.  Knowledge as expertise also evokes experience to produce experimental or other empirical evidence for models, requiring reference to and reconciliation of experiences – via empathy – for justification.

Reflective consideration reveals empathic re-encountering of experiences as what epistemology does.  Remembering is re-membering of experiences; recall, recollection, reflection, review, revision of accumulated experiences develops experience as expertise.

Blake said it first best

October 10, 2018

There is no new thing under the sun… of the making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10, 12:12)**

Intended to write about epistemology for governance, with a view to addressing the question of what should guide governance as applied epistemology, given:

a) the arguable impossibility of real knowledge (as knowledge of reality) (cf fi Harman 2017), leaving only ‘true’ opinion (Plato attributes this view to Socrates in Meno);

b) the recognition that the notion of knowledge as ‘justified true belief’ (attributed by Gettier to Plato/Socrates in Meno > ) has itself been shown (by Gettier) to be untrue, insofar as beliefs to be accepted as knowledge need be neither justified (since the reasons for holding a belief may not be evidently or eminently reasonable nor actually true in any or every case, except by accident or luck [cf Harman 2018, OOO]) (and perhaps need not even be beliefs in either ‘take to be the case’ or ‘would have be the case’ senses (cf Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen);

c) the realisation that extracting and extrapolating from and explaining and explicating experiences may seem to entail and/or entrain expedients (with retrospection inviting prospective prediction) that foster an experienced expedience (of the heuristic ‘hand on a hot stove’ type and/or of the hermeneutic ‘hand of history’ historiographic type).

It is clear from this simple exposition that what effectively informs, when experiences/ce seem to entrain or entail expedients/ce, is empathy: it helps, so it should be done; it hurts, so it should not be done; it heals, so it should be done; it helps heal hurts, so is expedient, according to my previous experience of this current encountered experience, evoked or elicited by this encounter, in which my previous experience is evoked and elicited for re-encounter and re-experience, which I experience as empathy, as ‘feeling in and/or with’, although often I may not clarify whether my re-experience is self-empathy or projected empathy as sympathy (so [imagining that my] feeling [is] similar without being able to ensure it), and in neither case implying or entailing that any empathic feeling will or must entrain helpful and/or healing rather than hurtful actions (as if my re-encountered experience was hurtful, I may inadvertently find myself resenting its re-experience, and so may respond by actions that are not helpful or healing, even may be hurtful, if I hurt). The guidance principle, kindess now, must include an epistemological underpinning of and so by the categorical imperative – so that it is experienced as an expedient emerging from internal existence so true to ourselves, not imposed by external authority (cf Meno,  everyone wishes for good).

This would be or become governance of, by, for kindness now.  As ‘kindness’ means ‘of a kind’ – that is, kin, kine, akin to, like, ilk – and any form of human governance is always of the people by the people for the people (even if some people claim some extra-human entitlement) a principle of kindness meets epistemological criteria for knowledge, true opinion, justified true belief, and thus of practical epistemology, and ethical criteria for categorical imperatives, deonotological duties, consequentialist-utilitarian and virtue-vertue in Buddhist, Stoic, Kantian and other golden rule universal law formulations.

How this guiding principle of kindness as and in governance could be applied in cases of seeming help-heal conflicts requires clarification.  Epistemologies underlying and underpinning the explication and extrapolation of experiences* into expediences need a heuristic as well as a hermenuetic explication to enable kindess to be the truth principle for understanding how to reconcile (NB cf ‘justify’) experients* to expedients in kindness.

(*The word ‘experient’ might help to distinguish a single experience from accumulated experiences collectively termed experience [although its plural ‘experients’ sounds like ‘experience’, just as expedients sounds like expedience, and its plural experiences seems to revert to multiple singular ‘experiences’ as ‘experients’ unless clearly seen as instances of multiple claims to ‘experience’ (epistemic and/or expedient authority acquired from and through accumulated experients – aka expediences).  Ho hum and heigh ho, back to the etymological neology drawing board.

As in this post’s title, and so often, a poet philosopher, in this case Blake, said it first best.

Auguries of Innocence

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage
A Dove house filld with Doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thr’ all its regions
A dog starvd at his Masters Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State
A Horse misusd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear
A Skylark wounded in the wing
A Cherubim does cease to sing
The Game Cock clipd & armd for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright
Every Wolfs & Lions howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul
The wild deer, wandring here & there
Keeps the Human Soul from Care
The Lamb misusd breeds Public Strife
And yet forgives the Butchers knife
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that wont Believe
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbelievers fright
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belovd by Men
He who the Ox to wrath has movd
Shall never be by Woman lovd
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spiders enmity
He who torments the Chafers Sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night
The Catterpiller on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mothers grief
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly
For the Last Judgment draweth nigh
He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar
The Beggars Dog & Widows Cat
Feed them & thou wilt grow fat
The Gnat that sings his Summers Song
Poison gets from Slanders tongue
The poison of the Snake & Newt
Is the sweat of Envys Foot
The poison of the Honey Bee
Is the Artists Jealousy
The Princes Robes & Beggars Rags
Are Toadstools on the Misers Bags
A Truth thats told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent
It is right it should be so
Man was made for Joy & Woe
And when this we rightly know
Thro the World we safely go
Joy & Woe are woven fine
A Clothing for the soul divine
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine
The Babe is more than swadling Bands
Throughout all these Human Lands
Tools were made & Born were hands
Every Farmer Understands
Every Tear from Every Eye
Becomes a Babe in Eternity
This is caught by Females bright
And returnd to its own delight
The Bleat the Bark Bellow & Roar
Are Waves that Beat on Heavens Shore
The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath
Writes Revenge in realms of Death
The Beggars Rags fluttering in Air
Does to Rags the Heavens tear
The Soldier armd with Sword & Gun
Palsied strikes the Summers Sun
The poor Mans Farthing is worth more
Than all the Gold on Africs Shore
One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands
Shall buy & sell the Misers Lands
Or if protected from on high
Does that whole Nation sell & buy
He who mocks the Infants Faith
Shall be mockd in Age & Death
He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
The rotting Grave shall neer get out
He who respects the Infants faith
Triumphs over Hell & Death
The Childs Toys & the Old Mans Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two seasons
The Questioner who sits so sly
Shall never know how to Reply
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put the Light of Knowledge out
The Strongest Poison ever known
Came from Caesars Laurel Crown
Nought can Deform the Human Race
Like to the Armours iron brace
When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow
To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow
A Riddle or the Crickets Cry
Is to Doubt a fit Reply
The Emmets Inch & Eagles Mile
Make Lame Philosophy to smile
He who Doubts from what he sees
Will neer Believe do what you Please
If the Sun & Moon should Doubt
Theyd immediately Go out
To be in a Passion you Good may Do
But no Good if a Passion is in you
The Whore & Gambler by the State
Licencd build that Nations Fate
The Harlots cry from Street to Street
Shall weave Old Englands winding Sheet
The Winners Shout the Losers Curse
Dance before dead Englands Hearse
Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to Endless Night
We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day
Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950)
**[The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.]

Perhaps this should be leafwittering…

October 4, 2018

Listening to items on the radio – the news, about the news, press, programmes –  wonder whether there’s any value – or interest – in naive non-partisan reaction and reflection on assertions, investigations and implications that seem to promote partial understandings.

For example, would a second referendum or people’s vote necessarily be undemocratic, and/or undermine the first, whichever way people now voted?  If so, exactly how so?  What mandate if any does any party or government actually have to implement Brexit – rather than simply explore the options given the referendum vote wording ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’

Discussions of the referendum question’s asserted flawedness in relation to voting theory question-framing principles indicate that a binary choice while seemingly efficient is actually ineffective or even counterproductive for decision-making at electoral and governance levels (fi

Leaving this discussion for later, other current issues are not being dicussed in adequate depth of implications.  Allegations about the US Supreme Court nominee in relation to his youthful (and perhaps later) attitudes and actions when in drink, especially towards women, have seemed to fail to engage with the elephant that must be in the room for Christian Republicans, at least for evangelicals and catholics:  repentance.

If a young man buys into and practices part of the conventional attitudinal and cultural drinking and sexual behaviour of his time (however arguably appalling in retrospect), does this imply or establish that in having done this he is inherently flawed and tainted, beyond the pale and beyond redemption? Or could that behaviour ever be amenable to redemption if acknowledged, admitted, and apologised for, with reparative amendment?

Three possibilities: nope: drink, violence, sex, terrible even for young men, so not redeemable; yup: drink, violence, sex, normal for young men, so nothing to excuse; or, maybe: depends if it’s recognised as something recognisably bad both then and now, and honestly and humbly admitted, with apologies and amends made – and the apologies need to be coherent accounts of how that young man came to believe that that behaviour was okay, and how his belief and its vicissitudes will have subsequently affected his behaviour and his judgements of others who behave similarly, and how that would affect his attitude to a woman’s right to abortion if resulting from such behaviour, and so on.

Leaving that aside, a R4 programme on institutional incarceration of people with mental issues, especially extended periods of 5 months to 5 years isolation in ATUS (Assessment and Treatment Units) when professionally judged to be treated more appropriately, economically, effectively, efficiently and humanely in community settings, showed that spurious often private financial interests are precluding personal and national solutions.

Finally for tonight, this evening’s R4 Briefing Room programme discussed air pollution impacts mostly from cars, including engine-exhaust emissions and also brake and tyre erosion (alas! applying also to electric cars) and small-scale and more radical solutions.

Seems some European cities are making their streets more friendly to human-powered movement by taking motor vehicles out of circulation, in radical redesign of city life.

All these issues seem to call for radical rethink of conventional principles and practices and conventional responses to problems arising from conventional value-judgements.

In other words, what’s required is honesty and integrity in disclosing and discovering how things are or at least seem to be, and how they came to be or seem that way, and what is now indicated and desired, and how it might actually be achieved and attained.

How can vested interests in institutions and conventions be challenged effectively?  Can we tell ourselves and each other our lost truths, and acknowledge truths with kindness, and recognise ourselves, each other, and our common underlying hopes and wishes, and work together in kindness to realise them?

Productivity and/as profit – factors in and costs of externalised energy expenditure

November 26, 2017

The debate on productivity and profit could benefit from application of first and second laws of thermodynamics to recognition of metabolic, muscular and mental energy expended in labour and effecting entropies, of efficiency of means and modes of production, and of attempted externalisation of various terms and costs relating to metabolic, muscular and mental maintenance of labour modes and nodes, ie workers.  Wikipedia’s entry notes that both first and second laws indicate that perpetual motion is impossible and so are perpetual machines of the first kind (that produce work without energy input) and of the second kind (that spontaneously convert thermal energy into mechanical work) are impossible.

This morning’s BBC R4 Broadcasting House ‘slow radio’ sound was cider fermenting, bubble by intemittent bubble… bubble… bubble… Then it ran an item on increasing productivity by speeding production (through reducing distraction by ‘social media’).  How ironic – slow radio on unspeeded and potentially unspeedable production, with apples and yeasts as the unspeedable time-unsqueezable middle, then fast radio on speeding production, with labour as the assertedly squeezable so speedable middle.

The example work discussed was roofing, which it turns out apparently can’t be rushed.

The header hopefully indicates an invalid inference about energy creation rather than transformation in the idea that increasing productivity by increasing surplus production over production costs equals profit, with productivity increase through production-cost-cutting in production means and mode.

If energy can’t be created, then the only scope for increasing productivity is not workers working longer harder, given fixed metabolic, muscular and mental costs, but increasing efficiency, as effective application of energy as effort, in means and mode of production equipment (techniques and technologies) and improving ecologies and environments to increase energetic (metabolic, muscular and mental) worker support.

In other words, to calculate real costs, follow energy flows entailed in workers working, including energy calibrated as required for self-maintenance, and include those costs in calculating fixed variable costs of production, capable of transformation into production, but not able to be created or destroyed (fi by incentives or threats).

The asserted problem is seen as ‘relative productivity reflects time on/time out during production, thus increasing productivity entails increasing time on during production’.   The asserted solution seems to be ‘externalising energy/effort labour maintenance costs equals/should equal/is equivalent to increasing production equals increased profit’.

Out of sight = out of mind.  As are worker measures of metabolic, muscular and mental strength, health and fitness, illness, stress, and and.

‘Low’ productivity’s asserted impact on production thus on profit represents the sum of recognised intrinsic and unrecognised externalised production costs from inherent productivity costs.  How?  If energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed, then unrecognised externalised labour energy costs of metabolic, muscular and mental energy-as-effort expended in the (culturally current) means of production transform local mode of production costs of inefficient equipment and consequent effortful but ineffective labour, plus fixed and variable energy/effort costs into productivity costs, which inevitably impact profit simply because they actually are actual production costs.

Fixed costs of labour, in metabolism, musculature, and mind, are usually externalised so often invisible.  Not so with cider fermenting – it’s a recognised and indeed celebrated fixed cost of labour from apples and yeasts.  Speeded-up cider = different product.

Explanation below in case of interest.

Production is transformative conversion of raw materials (aka energy in various forms) into added-value forms.

Productivity is calculation of rates of conversion and identification of redundancies.

Energy itself can’t be created or destroyed, only transformed, as for raw materials> product and in labour/work >productivity.

Labour or work involves energy (basic metabolism [metabolic efficiency, etc]) plus effort [environmental temperature, physical efficiency of means and modes of applied energy/effort, etc) over time [muscle/metabolic/mental requirements, etc]).

Increasing productivity entails increasing effectiveness and efficiency in applying energy as physical effort.

Means and external modes of production belong to employers. Employers calculate terms and costs.

Increasing efficiency entails factoring in fixed term times and costs (fi time for paint-drying, concrete setting, computer lag, kettle-boiling) and calculating capital costs of increasing equipment efficient (ie quicker computers and kettles, quickcrete and paint-dryers) against time-cost-saving.

Bodies belong to bodies. Bodies calibrate available energy against immediate imperative effort.

As Marxist theory has long noted, the servicing of bodies (and the minds and other environmentals and ecologicals that go with them) is an externalised aka invisible so uncounted cost in capitalism.

Increasing body (metabolic, muscle, mental) efforts entails meeting additional but externalised costs.

Increasing body effort potential entails increasing body effort capacity (metabolism, musculature, mind).

People accessing social media during work hours are attempting to increase mental effort capacity – or at least may seem to themselves to be attempting this, in stimulating desired and/or subduing undesired mental activity.

That is, they are attempting to increase productivity efficiency, by short-term diversion of effort into increasing potential for medium and long-term effort.

Increasing productivity entails recognition and resolution of a balance among known fixed and/or fixed-term productivity> energy/effort/efficiency costs, fi equipment efficiency, and unknown because externalised mutable costs of bodies engaged in calibrating available metabolic, muscular and mental energy and expenditures (also externalised so invisible).

An effectively integrated model of reality (NB not to reality itself, only to a consistent and comprehensive joined-up working model of human perceptions and conceptions  [‘join the dots’]) is to calculate all engaged-entailed energy elements, including inherent-imperative expenditure calibrations in bodies (metabolisms, musculatures, minds).

Posted without pretensions that this is anything other than a snapshot of first thoughts.

After a good while…

January 24, 2014

Haven’t looked to see how long it is since my last post.  Stopped to recover from inflamed wrist tendons and other joints.  Managing this difficulty by diet and attitude changes – almost no grains or other carbs, less sugar and fructose from all sources, more nuts, plenty more dark green leafy veg, mostly raw (bringing their own issues of iodine and other mineral binding).

Time to start blogging again. Thanks for effective inspiration to Matt at

It is time to start seriously writing my book.  Every morning I think, there are things that need to be said, that could effectively prevent people from hurting each other, by addressing and alleviating their own hurt.  In this context many writers share similar insights and outlooks, often alongside religions especially of inward heart-hearth – outward heal(th) orientation.

Inner Bonding explains much emotional pain.  Of especial benefit to me are Grace Bell at and Byron Katie’s The Work  All these are modern versions of ancient insights into the nature of reality – basically, reality is what is, or at least what appears to us to be (cf earlier posts on the necessary often omitted first part of the is/ought dilemma, that appears to be/is dilemma [this would make it a sort of trilemma, cf

Enough for now.

In response to mixed-up monsters

March 10, 2011

In response to Tim Morton’s post on chimerical monsters, some thoughts. 

One way to rework ecologists and others at ‘evolutionary purpose speak’ when they come out with some version of ‘x is to/for a’, is to change the ‘to/for’ into ‘that’, and the infinitive to third person present. So ‘one way to rework’ becomes ‘one way that reworks’.  The focus is then on one aspect of what x seems to us to do relative to a, without presuming any prior purposiveness.

Don’t know whether this can work with Aristotle, but it works with Attenborough at least for domestic consumption. Whatever he comments on does whatever it does that has whatever effects it has without doing it to have those effects. The kids shout ‘not to, that’. 

‘In Our Time’ this morning was a discussion about determinism with some quite eminent philosophers > . The discussion rather skirted quantum entanglement.

One thing not explicitly addressed was the fare/fate of the anthropic principle, strong or weak, in a determinist but not teleological cosmos (actually determinism seems quite compatible with tautology).  The anthropic principle, weak or strong, acknowledged or not, seems to me to underlie and underpin all classical/conventional ecological and philosophical observation, so normalising anthropocentrism.  Anthropocentrism is inevitable, but it need neither be privileged as a perspectiveless perspective, nor disparaged as a species-culture-specific prejudice.  Instead we need a theory and model of experience and empathy in terms of quantum entanglement.

Strawson came really quite close to something somewhat similar to OOO (as did his father), in recognising the idea of free will as an entity of experience. Some development of this (like OOO) may potentially resolve the teleology of the strong version, in a sort of tautology that may enable quantum entanglement to mediate Munchausen’s trilemma.

NB Monster derives from monstrum portent or monster, from monere to warn.  Apparently it isn’t related to monstrance, from monstrare to show. 

Trying speech recognition

March 1, 2011

Now am using voice recognition to dictate my post. This is frustrating.  Not using headphones so picks up every sound and tries to make it into a word-very sweet, very obliging, not very effective.  It’s hard to know what to do.  It saves my wrists and fingers, but it’s so hard to use it.  There must be a solution.  I’m having to correct constantly, using my hands to cancel its responses to commands I didn’t make. I despair.