Humanity is on a journey. There may be no answer to the question of why we embarked on this journey to self awareness, but we do know to some extent what came before. Man before technology, like our pre-human cousins share a lot with each other and to different degrees with all related organisms. This observation can be made detailed in the biological sciences. Genetically we share a lot with yeast as compared with simpler micro-organisms. The central questions of this book revolve around the fact that we only recently come to know all of this in any deep way and that the accumulated practical effects of this knowledge place us at a certain crossroads of history. Wisdom is in the title not because the book makes any claim to contain great wisdom but to call into question the value of qualities like intelligence and knowledge vs. wisdom, whatever that might be. Wisdom must be more than simply anticipatory. There is a great abyss between what we can have knowledge of and what is possible. The limits of human knowledge and understanding does not limit the behavior of nature and natural systems. Wisdom is to be found beyond the horizons of discovered truths, reguardless of how extensive.

Living systems and even complex automatons can be shown to be beyond analysis in important ways, and therefore they can exhibit powers that are magical in the sense of being beyond analysis, but not in the sense that require the intervention of gods or spirits in the normal causal flow of events.  It is a critical observation that the hypothesis of God is unnecessary and even unwelcome in scientific work. Although methodologically excluded, the question of God's existance is in no way prejudiced, it just isn't part of science. The hypothesis that God does not exist is not even valid for science; it is outside of its scope because it cannot be decided in any way besides assuming the conclusion. The arrogant stance that results in extreme forms of idealism and logical positivism involves a triumphant view of man's early discoveries. The "Oh what a good boy am I!" effect. The rule to always question your results, get peer review since we are bad at finding flaws in our out thoughts. When religious or scientific authority becomes ancored by tradition and can no longer be questioned because it is enforced by the excercise of power, then wisdom is out the window.

We will leave the debates about science vs. religion behind while steering clear of both scientism and religious beliefs. These debates are always asking the wrong questions and confusing important distictions. Take religion without dogmatic beliefs and understood as social processes the bind social communities. There is evidence that religion helps people life better lives within engaged communities, but unfortunately in the modern world it becomes political, binding people into competing communities when the great global social need is to find common ground and effectively bind the many communities into a global whole.

We need a ground for discovering the open future in which wisdom can fully flower. Securing the future is much more than knowing what is coming; more importantly it is being able to make good collective decisions. Plato suggested we should have philosopher kings running the show, which might be a good idea if you could come up with a workable selection process that could guarantee the necessary qualities of experience and wisdom in sufficient quantity. If wisdom is something like being able to make the decision that you would make based on being able to know the outcome we would need to know the outcomes for all the paths not followed, and knowing the outcomes, how do we even compare? Is wisdom being concerned about other species becoming extinct and the environment threatened based solely on self-interest, must it also include compassion for all of our fellow living beings? How could it be otherwise?

When a culture is healthy, the religious practices will integrate with the social processes that organize all aspects of daily life. There are still many healthy indiginous cultures that have evolved what can only be called wisdom practices that maintain both the natural environment and its productive capacities, and also the social cohesion of the culture. Unfortunately, these integrated social systems are under threat from outside forces often driven be evangelistic religion the aims to supplant what they define as savagery or devil worship. This is where we say, there is no wisdom in these processes. Wisdom is in respect for diversity and otherness.

There are further difficulties. For instance, if we are only recently self-aware, our emergence can be little more than a cosmic accident. Can there be a wisdom of Gaia that guides the long-term development of the living Earth that knew that the age of the dinosaurs had to end in order for mammals and eventually humans to emerge? Wisdom is realizing that even though such questions can never be answered definitively, that the ways we have answered it throughout history and in oral traditions dating back from pre-history are not wrong for having used magical explanations for the parts they could not understand. It is just that the modern analytic tradition often chooses to ignore the bits of their theories that amount to little more than hand-waving. Is the best explanation regarding some deep theory of the emergence of intelligence and maybe even wisdom a variation of intelligent design or anthropic principle? I'm inclined to look for wisdom in the origin stories and epistemic traditions of all ages and peoples; to respect the insight of artists and mystics as deeply as we respect the insights provided by math and science. The only deep requirement it to question all of it, to never rest satisfied with only the ready answer.

One of the broad arcs that will develop concerns the history of ideas. It starts with the Greeks and Plato's idealism and it continues in the clockwork universe models inspired by Descarte and later the logical positivists. Although we owe a great many debts to Plato and the Greeks for making some of the most important early steps on the journey, there are some deep problems with philosophies descended from them. There is a kind of fundamentalism in maintaining that ideas and geometric forms are more basic to reality than experience. It is ironic that science only really takes off when working scientists are able to go beyond what is conventional and given by a pre-existing understanding and to trust only experience and measurement. The worst of logical positivism becomes a kind of fundamentalism that cannot stand and leads to errors of logic at the deepest levels. to say that the given is beyond formalism is not to invoke a god of the gaps or other magical explaination. By definition, any hypothesis invoking god is not science. Further, just because we don't need any gods to explain any regularity of the world doesn't mean that all forms of spiritualism are false.

We'll need to take a pragmatic view of the real in order to interpret this. For a pragmatist, things are real by virtue of being the subject of knowledge, and knowledge is pragmatic in the sense of being for the sake of action. If everyone in your community believes in God, then God is real for them. I don't know that your experience of green, its quality of experience, is the same as mine, but it points to a shared experience. There are experiences that we might call mysterious or spiritual, and to the extent these experiences can be shared give us a conceptual foundation for these subjects. This gives them a reality even if that reality is provisional on the unreliability of the important qualia used to relate the experiences. They can vary quite a bit between cultures over both time and space.

Even if we resist all such provisional attempts as ultimately devoid of any real knowledge or truth; that we find the concepts to be empty of content, we still have to find a way to ground a system of value. We need to define the good in universal terms, but there always be an element that is ultimately grounded more in the particulars of a cultural aesthetic or spiritual experience than anything that can be said to be fundamentally universal.

Pragmatists starting with Pierce and give a much better account than simple idealism. Idealists right down to the logical positivists are always overly optimistic about the potential applicability and effectiveness of their methods. Solve some simple math problems and you can calculate the world equation that will exactly map the future faithfully and fatefully. The pragmatists don't make the mistake of confusing their models with the world as given. Ideas and formalisms are important because they are important to our minds, to our ways of knowing and interpreting the world. That the formalisms (maths) we discover turn out to be useful in understanding and predicting the world, and gaining fine control over the material conditions of our lives follows from its pragmatic methods. The effectiveness of formal methods in working out  practical consequences is undeniable, but just as undeniable is that the abyss beyond the knowable is itself unknowable and vast.

Technology considered historically is the subject of material culture in the field of anthropology. We can be characterized by this as the technological animal. You could point to our language as the unique characteristic, but it is clear that technology and language are linked capacities even if you consider them distinct as language could be seen as our first technology. In this book, we will trace the path of parts of the journey, often in ways that are more poetic and synthetic than scientific and analytic. The most interesting and crucial parts of the journey involve questions of how we know about the world. We notice that we are at a point in this journey where we are just discovering most of what we know.

The analytic approach to knowing that is so successful in both expanding the frontier of what we know. All the technological wonders and a rapidly changing material culture is accelerating with now apparent end in sight . Further, this kind of change is recent in a way that is independent of scale. Whether we look at decades, centuries, millinnia, we see the same thing; look back one or two units at a given scale and you will see that now is really different than before. This could be an illusion of perspective obliquely related to some form of anthropic principle, but we can test that. If we go back 1000 years, we see a lot of change, even catastrophic change over years and decades, but the material culture was not changing like it is now. My grandfather told us stories of the first car coming to town, and commercial jet travel evolved from having no technology for flight at all in his lifetime.

The authors of Genesis capture this pretty well in the story about the garden. Man, in a state of nature, like his great ape cousins and other close relatives found in the fossil record is in the garden in ecstatic union with his environment. Prior to the fall from grace so conveniently blamed on Eve, what came before is animal intelligence built on genetic intelligence. These are the grounds for all the presumably uniquely human forms of knowing, awareness and even wisdom. This foundation is deep and wide, and the reality of what we can observe is simply awe inspiring. Clearly the living systems of the earth got on for billions of years without this feature of mankind, so it isn't completely clear what we are needed for. 

Now that we have left the Garden, we have the responsibility to partner with God (in Judeo Christian language) to find wisdom practices that maybe restore the Garden. Though we can never restore the innocence we had before starting on the paths of knowledge, we can contemplatively re-enter that state of bliss of being fully part of the natural world. We now know what we are doing to the natural world and need to find ways to re-enchant the world. We need wisdom more than knowledge.

Several arcs will wind their way through this book as most of it will be about human language, culture and technology in order to focus on the opportunities and risks posed by the development of a technological species.

When did we start telling creation stories?

Arcs, knowledge/wisdom

Limits of knowledge, from Plato to Logical Positivism: Failure (general) and success (limited)

Beyond the limits: not all schools of wisdom are thus limited, what else can we know and how do we know it?

The past and the future: On being pragmatic: How should one evaluate consequences

Natural Wisdom

This chapter needs to build a foundation for human knowledge. Anthropology can date the emergence of tools more so than language.  Physical evolution of the larynx, etc is one thing, the social patterns of any species is in not in the fossil record to any great extent. These are the first steps on the journey as we most certainly needed language to begin to build the complex tools of the Neolithic period. 

Situate human being in the natural world, with language and its uses having key roles in survival and flourishing as a biological species. It functioned this way from the early Neolithic where we see the emergence of cave painting, burial rights, iconic objects and other echos of an emerging intellectual life. One that clearly connected humans and the natural world.

When humans start taming the forces of nature and settling down into larger diverse communities, this facility for language is put to new practical uses and the emergence of an historical record. In this chapter we need to advance the arcs of discussion through the Bronze Age to the time of the ancient Greek philosophers and the foundations of western philosophy.

Story and Art

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms


Provide the connection between pre-historical thinking and today. Our capacity for telling and hearing story are no doubt the underlying capacity that is harnessed in the development of advanced methods of thinking. 

Look at what can be said about this capacity and its depth and breadth.

Some of the pragmatists move towards aesthetics as an ethical stance. In the end the theorist is selecting models pragmatically, but when theory is to early or speculative the aesthetic choices of individual scientists will be a guide. In Lewis' terms, the given is not responsive to our choices, but the a priori, and hence the real are so dependent.

Our thesis is that the story is fundamental to thinking. Language itself emerges from proto-languages that are functional, but don't have modern grammar and phonetics before the laryinx evolved to its modern form. We began to tell our stories, to show each other how to use fire and thereby invent the hearth, and we continued to tell and invent out story around a dying fire deep into the evening and night.

Kant's synthetic a priori shouldn't be some abstract geometry invented by the greeks, it is the capacity to invent and tell stories. From primitive observations and arguments we invent fantastical explainations and only much later do we develop any capacity to critically review any of it because we haven't invented writing yet. Story is enough to transmit rudimentary knowledge in the form or story, myth and religion. Some researchers think that language and tool making might be related capacities, that the left brain areas that are specialized in speech related centers also function in many sequential tasks and functions. Perhaps we also have some right brain functions related to spacial reasoning and what inspired Kant as connected to the insights of Galileo and Newton.

It turns out the the geometric intuition we posess is perfectly wonderful at the human scale, but when we extend our senses with finer or more sophisticated instraments and develop physics based on more and more abstract mathematics where physical intuition is more misleading than natural. Even so, our ability to develop these abstractions in response the perceptions of our extended senses. Using our innate capacity for sense making, we have gone so far beyond what is immediately present to the senses that we are confident that if we do meet self-aware aliens we will have discovered similar math and physical science insights even if our home worlds, life processes and sensory modes are extremely different. This may be somewhat tangential to current topic, but I think we might also suggest that our alien friends will have built their capacity to understand the world on something like stories that are the precursers to reason and self-consciousness.

A story is a sequential, causal description of events that is well suited to a bipedal primate trying to survive. It also makes possible something else, self-reflection, and from that seed all of philosophy grows. To be sure, it is a slow process at first, but even then, it is lightning fast compared to other evolutionary changes. This is because it introduces the possibility of a new level of consciousness, collective (self-)consciousness.

Idealism to Logical Positivism

It is not that the deepest assumptions of Plato's idealism that pervade much of western philosophy are wrong, they are misplaced. Maybe we should take a couple of steps back before we move forward. He is assuming his conclusion. He is making a metaphysical assertion that the existence of ideas is both prior and more fundamental than the world of appearances, what we see and sense. In the end this sort of metaphysical question may not have a definitive answer, but in the spirit of abductive reasoning we can explore all of the practical consequences of our hypothesis. Stated in the positive a modern idealist's first hypothesis would be more like the physicist Max Tegmark who suggests that the math (basic physics == simple math => complex emergent phenomina) implies existence.

I want to follow the pragmatists who offer some ways out of pure idealism to more of a stance where ideas are real, but external reality is something else again. They place ideas properly in the space of cognition, in the space of what humans can be analytically aware of. Or maybe in a larger space of what any aware being could know, and to consider whether omniscient awareness is even meaningful. I am more comfortable stating a different set of basic metaphysical hypothesis than saying the other side is wrong. We could both be right in the same way that particles and waves are both right in there own contexts.

The idea is that there is something else that is necessary on a basic level to explain everything we see. Basic physics plus emergence is a handwave to some magic math that connects different levels of description. It is not a handwave to suggest that all that randomness at the fundamental level and confused interpretations of information and a systems theory that is very incomplete might be necessary for emergence. If we call the something else consciousness, then we have Basic physics and basic consiousness plus emergence => a foundational theory of everything. We may even find good mathematical descriptions of these ideas and be able to confirm them, but in the end that doesn't matter.  I don't have to postulate any magic math to suggest that what actually happens in the world isn't being guided by our mathematics but must be spontaneously generated from the metaphysical substances. I'm not actually arguing for something more than physics, but for a physics with consciousness. I understand that this model has a fundamental observer problem, and so does physics.

Religion and philosophy can speculate with equal authority on the nature of the expanded spaces thus created and debate them to the end of time. What the mathematicians and physicists have invented to describe the universe is far more awesome than anything in the religious books. The faith that the scientist has that these relations hold for all time and space has to be stronger any religious faith. I'm not just talking about the measurements that cannot be made because of fundamental limitations, but also about the potentially knowable measurements not made because we just don't know how (yet). There is some fascinating work about a 'fourth phase of water', where experiments can be done that suggest there is a lot of hidden information in water and the ways it relates to other molecules in solution. Stuff that cells need to know in order to function.

Chomsky, referring to Newton having destroyed any hope of the kind of mechanistic world that if fully comprehensible. Mentions the idea (from?) that the difference between a problem and a mistery is the limits of understanding imposed by actual cognitive capacity, not just on some measure of intelligence but the capacity to understand in practice. This could fully explain the Dunning–Kruger effect if you simply posit that for a given level of intelligence, some minimum level of depth/complexity is required to understand a situation, the phenomena will be a mystery.  Religious and scientific explainations are equally mysterious and the former may be more aesthetically pleasing. We'll return to this idea when we consider the political phillosophy of open democracy and the ethical use of religious sentiments in political rhetoric.

In the current context, we could call this the arrogance of the lesser genious. The real geniuses like Newton instinctively know there are problems beyond the reach of human intelligence. For the lesser genius who by Dunning-Kruger is further from Newton than he thinks, but imagining his powers greater than they are he also imagines difficult problems are all expected to fall before the legions of geniuses as science marches on to victory. The real genius knows there are a great many problems that are difficult to formulate much less solve. Even with all the staggering progress since Newton there are still problems that are barely cracked. Nobody has any idea if they will be solved much less how.

I don't need a deity to explain levels of intelligence beyond our reach, or even that human levels of cognition will remain beyond artificial intelligence for quite some time. This is not to say that we won't continue to augment and extend human intelligence, collective and individual even as the qualitative limit remains beyond our horizon. For the true genius, the intelligence scale extends well beyond herself and any other human. If you don't want intelligent beings from a higher dimensional world, then aliens or artificial super-intelligences will do for the thought experiment.

One durable result of modern physics is the idea that if it can happen, it will. Life and intelligent life can be explained with this principle, but then so can any of them. We just don't have any reliable information about any of them, although we have many reasons to think one or all of them might turn out to be real in our collective future.

(we may need a foundation here to be detailed in one of the chapters about artificial wisdom. The foundation is about our concepts for knowing: information, knowing, wisdom and such.)

Something and Nothing

This chapter is about how we ask and answer the deepest questions posed by existence. If wisdom is about anything it relates to the inheritence of wisdom we come about just by being who we are in space, time and history. This Debate about Nothing is interesting because of what it includes and excludes and more. Existentially, the somethingness of existence is undeniable, but it is hard to get away from the idea that something must be related to nothing.

Something ≠ Nothing,

Something Exists (Descartes in cognito is asserting his own existence as a thinker, and by implication the thinker exists. This is about all that is reliable in Descartes, he may demonstrate that thinking exists, but knows nothing about what it is or where it takes place) This is another link in the arc that critiques pure idealism and dualistic philosophies, we need the cognitivists integrated with three category semiotics to ground process/systems biology and process/social theory as well. A modern pragmatism is critical to understanding.

∴ The Universe ≠ Nothing

A lot of the difficulty that these panelists have is related to this incomplete project of modern pragmatism that incorporates logic and idealism not so much as the a priori of Lewis, but following Quine obliterates the analytic/synthetic divide. It is clear that Logical Positivism fails along these lines. What is taken to be the eternal Ideal is nothing more than an artifact of the inquiry of a particular kind of mind with particular habits of action inherited by virtue of being a certain kind of animal living (autopoetically) in a web of other living beings in a particular finite environment. It is remarkable that we have discovered some key relationships that are not limited to any particular experience, but that can give us knowledge of regularities of experience and contribute to survival by guiding action to pragmatically significant outcomes. Because they are beyond any particular use, they have a sort of universality, but they are also necessarily incomplete. The a priori might be just as true for any being who discovers some part of it, but what parts will it find? We expect that other intelligent being would learn to count and to do Boolean arithmatic and basic logic, but would they discover quantum field theory?

If your philosophy includes the creation of the universe from nothing, I think you show whether creation Ex Nihilo is a necessary axiom of all theories, and if necessary, then we must explain why most of the time, somethimg comes from something.

Nothing -> Something

This is a transition from an eternal perfect symetry to something else.

If Something can be Anything, the we have something like a super version of the many worlds interpretation of super-symetry. Worlds with any set of consistent rules are possible, and some of them are interesting in the sense that something complex like life and consciousness can occur within it.

Could all of the branches of this be real? The only thing we can know for sure is that ours exists.

If you want to believe in God, that's fine, because if God is what created everything, then God == Nothing. And if God is equated to the whole thing, Nothing + Multiverse, you have an awefully extravagant theory that can't be decided anyhow. I agree with Sean Carol that this sort of God is essentially rhetorical and possibly empty.

Pragmatically, on the other hand, we can look at religion it its role of shaping and guiding the development of public morality. In other chapters of this book we will show that good religion will be essential to ataining a sustainable future. Whether future generations keep it and evolve religios practice to support a mindful and sustainable material culture. I care less about whether you believe in God or not than about how you might try to impose that belief on me.

If you trace the foundations of pragmatism through Peirce to both Kant and Hegel, you will realize the importance of the necessary conditions for knowing that we cannot effectively question because it is necessary to even ask questions. All of these philosophers predate the important scientific discoveries of relativity and quantum mechanics and so they can be forgiven for coming to a more absolutist position than current science finds empirically. If the Absolute is contained a the Universe defined as all that any knower can possibly know, then I think we can accept a certain sense of absolute because it is really the same one we find in the philosophy of mathematics. In physics as with Peircian semiotic, the final interpretation is more of an asymtotic attractor in the infinite (potentially) future.

It is frustrating that so many important fields of inquiry that a deeply tied to human behavior and evolved social structures are in no way approaching any concensus on the truth. Economists, political scientists and philosophers are all over the map and if there is a global understanding, something like the standard model of physics, nobody can tell you what it is. Or more to the point, the truth is ideologically contested. The funamentalist atheists have little more to offer here than the religious proponents because there is nothing to be known a priori, or at least not in current terms.

Our thesis is that Kantian synthetic a priori isn't really a priori be emerges in a particular kind of emergent, embodied mind. It is one thing to point out that we understand spacial-temporal coordination of solid bodies because that's what we are at some level of emergence. All of our biological cousins also solve practical problems of coodinating in time and space in order to eat, sleep, reproduce. Species whose individuals hunt and/or are hunted will have a vast array of evolved behaviors, some active and direct and others perceptual and regulatory. That sort of thing is so deep in our beings that it is hardly surprising that it appears as a kind of transcendant knowledge as Kant describes. I note that Kant's picture is only wrong in the same way that Newton is wrong, it isn't a complete picture but it is the best that can be expected in the historical context, that is, given what they knew then.

Kant and later the pragmatists already have a bead on the reductionists. It isn't actually that clear whether Plato was a reductionist but later Platonists certainly took it that way. Pythagorous inspired more of a mystical reverence for what the math meant, and combined with the views of the early atomists we already have the ingredients of quantum mechanics. If you ask me what I have faith in, it is that the reason that math works so well in modelling the world is that at some deep level there is nothing but a mathematical description. Kant is already able to show in his time that reductionism is fatally flawed because it anticipates an exact and complete description of the world as scientific law. For that law to be law it has to be held up by some framework that is beyond anything we can possibly experience. There can be no Laplace's daemon that iterates the world equation, the Universe is such that it just exists and we are just in some part of that vastness.

In particular we are in a part where the conditions for self awareness are present and it actually has developed. We can guess that our part is not unique in this and we may or may not be able to contact any other minds. What certainly is clear is that if God exists, (S)He expects us to read H(er)is mind, and that any claim of direct contact is suspect unless it is personal. It is a deep and interesting question to ask whether other minds, that may have even developed where physics is different (locally, say inside a neutron star as an example) and intuitions of space and time also different. My conjecture is that they might have different intuitions based on distinct phenomenology, but that mathematics itself is more basic. An alien intelligence might start in a different place with different intuitions and tools, but must converge on the same insights in some way. If we encountered such aliens and learned to communicate well enough to debate math, physics and philosophy, we might have different insights but we could confirm each others unique work in explicite isomorphisms or by extending the science on one or both sides.


Pragmatics and Politics

Let us look at the structure of the social revolution required to save our cultures and thereby our planet and its living diversity. How have we organized throughout history and what has worked or worked better? Can we be ruthlessly pragmatic in pursuing wisdom? That is in making a world of abundance for all and heading off post-industrial ecologicaly and social destruction.

Artificial Wisdom

In this chapter we will attempt to build a theory of knowledge and wisdom. This is a first poke at the arrogance of AI research and the next chapter's topic, but more importantly we have to give an epistemology of knowledge.

This will be a fundamentally pragmatic aproach grounded in animal cognition and phenomenology. I want to point to a possible future theory that identifies how meaning emerges at the very base of the tree of life in the three category semiotics at the level of celular mechanism. This connects back through autopoetic theory to explain how functional/regulatory networks are reproduced through chemical information codes and signals in a self-regulated network of production and reproduction. Multi-cellular systems involve more layers of process that are produced and reproduced though more networks of signals. Internal signals like nerve impulses and hormone (enzyme) signals in the bloodstream or cell to cell. More three category signs and signals, including sensory signals via eyes, ears, skin, muscles, etc.

Our brains organize our experience and make it comprehensible. With humans, we need a lot of post-natal nurturing and experience for a mature human being with human phenomenology emerges. The first thing to notice is that all that post-natal training also represents a cultural inheritance. Presumably there is some ancient wisdom both in our traditions and natural wisdom inherited genetically.

This chapter also points to Simon's "The sciences of the artificial" to refer to anything that is, in some sense, "human designed" vs. from nature. Language itself is deeply a genetic inheritance that gives us the physical ability to produce and interpret speach sounds and to learn a grammar. Written language is possible, but not predicted directly by spoken language. What about the art of the cave? The story and of the fire/hearth? At some point a creative inventiveness emerges strongly in human culture.

The artificial is the sum total of this invention. We have a lot of knowledge, but can we produce collective wisdom? This is the challenge of our age. To go beyond intelligence and knowledge towards wisdom that is good for all. It is necessary to avoid the distopias of the singularity.



Lots of people talking about the AI singularity and worrying about Terminator, Person of Interest and other possible distopias.

What is wisdom WRT this question?

In my lifetime and a thirty-plus year career in software technology, we have had 1000s of times improvement in hardware, software and networking and we really haven't gotten that much closer. Some specific problems have become solveable, but general intelligence, much less wisdom is seemingly well beyond our reach.

Perhaps we should try to figure out what wisdom is for us here and now and through what we can know from history.

From Democracy to Process Architecture

The main arc of cultural/political history. Organizational development stages. Democracy and political justice as an ideal. As a movement. Artifacts of historical development and the emergence of process architecture.

The philosophers shouldn't be the kings, but should guide the development of artificial wisdom through the designed evolution of open social processes. The possibility of peer to peer democracy.

Practical Wisdom

What we want is to evolve quickly to a sustainable material culture. To have a revolution without the violence they often involve. Already our technology and detailed scientific and engineering knowledge make us masters of this material culture. We can build anything we can conceive if we can construct the public will to do it. So the question for those of us deeply interested in spreading the practice of wisdom as far and wide as possible, is how to construct this public will.

Following the political philosophy of Rawles, we have to construct a global public good that is compatible with, but independent of any religious belief. The public intellectuals who take a position of militant atheism will be challenged to soften some of their positions. To be sure, most of their critics come from a fundamentalist religious angle, and in those debates I find myself in total agreement against such critics.

The challenge here is that even if they are correct that the concept of god in not necessary, even to constructing the concept of good, a morality and ethics independent of God, that doesn't mean it is politically wise to be hard line about it. Peoples and cultures of our present day world are in many states of maturation and it is just plain unreasonable to publicly criticize them any more than we can expect the greek philosophers to have a good physical model of motion. Nobody had one then, or they didn't tell us about it, and all of the worlds religions are based in cultures older than that.

All humans are practical people, only the practical people suceed and prosper, but we have all prospered too much and are in danger of totally destroying the planet. For sure we have a human made climate and extinction event on our hands. Whatever our stage of cultural development, we are capable of understanding the stakes and acting to avert disaster. Ironically, it is the so-called advanced nations who have created the crisis and they seem unable to construct the political will to change.

We want to prove them wrong. Grass roots political movements can change the world, they are the only things that ever really have made lasting change. We need also to understand the foundations of religious culture in the history of bottom-up change.

Moving on from pragmatics to simple practicality. What happened to the utopias, is the future all distopia? I suppose it must be one or the other after the singularity either we get wise and find a sustainable utopia that we can implement practically. First, we'll need to accomplish some amazing feats of social change. Using the levers of poplular political power in liberal democracies, we have to steer a course clear of all the jingoistic fear-baiting and towards solidarity. No-one is served by industries the corrupt the political system to server their bottom line. The market can't work if money can be wealded as a political weapon to control markets by excercise of power and not by making a better widget at a better price.


(Find the right home for this (if any)) If the world were a simulation, it would have crashed by now. Where is the machine, how does it work and who started it?

Pragmatists conclude abductively, not that we have an ideal world implemented as a simulation on some universal magic simulator because there is no consistent theory where the given is anything but what it seems to be, or something isomorphic to what it seems. Information must have practical consequences to be transformable into knowledge, and neither information nor knowledge are often complete.

The world model that the proponents of the simulation theory propose has to be some form of quantum gravity theory not as yet discovered as a complete theory. We'd probably need a quantum computer to run it on, but where is the universe that the simulation runs? Frankly, the only reasonable hypothesis from which the rest of this might follow is that the simulation represents the operation of the mind of God. I would think God would bore quickly of the tedium and would be intelligent enough to create a sort of stuff that behaves like a simulation. Something that is granular, where information based rules are central to understanding what happens, where consciousness and awareness are related to the third category in semiotics made real in physical energetic relationships.

Then what is a reasonable ground of being is real substance that posesses informational properties at the most basic level. These informational properties are such to reliabably produce the world as given. This world is not magical, it is comprehensible with a logically consistent understanding to a high degree of accuracy. If we perform an experiment now or at a time and place separated by millions of years in time or light years of space, we expect the same results. We expect that the universe will be observed to evolve and have a different perspective as described by the appropriate transforms, but it is in our universe, past, present, future and at great distances, we expect that the rules of physics do not change. If they do, we say the theory is incomplete because it takes to be constant some relationships that are not. To be sure, we don't know that reality is not a multiverse where all possible values of some set of fundamental, seemingly constant relationships actually happen in some part of the universe that is beyond our horizon permanently.

The multiverse hypothesis has the power to explain pretty much anything, which is its biggest weakness. If the universe is some kind of universal simulator that is in effect simulating any and all possible universes, then our work is done and nothing else needs to be explained. Except why would all this extravagance really be necessary for our lonely species without any neighbors except our co-residents on Earth.