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  1. Last 7 days
    1. Osseological culture should read ‘A digression on Miller’, a chapter from “The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism”, Nick’s textual plague whose curse is unfading

      There is something treacherous about a skull, that most intimate companion, so indifferently adapted to an inorganic regime, so untouched by the disappearance of flesh. It is the natural emblem of piracy, criminality, and cold betrayal. Perhaps everybody occasionally imagines their skull become a paperweight, or (less modestly) a museum exhibit in some distant time. Such thoughts are a little more cynical than those which capture it shortly after interment; a chamber of heaving maggots and filth. One only glimpses its calcic imperviousness by imaginatively stripping it of our rot, ageing it tastefully, polishing it. In the end one comes to feel that it merely tolerates its momentary participation in us, numbly awaiting the cessation of our tedious biological clamour.

    1. credo quia absurdum est

      Credo quia absurdum is a Latin phrase that means "I believe because it is absurd", originally misattributed to Tertullian in his De Carne Christi. It is believed to be a paraphrasing of Tertullian's "prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est" which means "It is completely credible because it is unsuitable", or "certum est, quia impossibile" which means "It is certain because it is impossible".

  2. Jan 2022
    1. Chinese censuses show a fall from 120 million to 60 million

      A Chinese legend tells that Genghis Khan once contemplated slaughtering all of China so that it can be wild again and be a better horse grazing ground.

    2. The Arrow


      In 1201, during the Battle of the Thirteen Sides, an arrow wounded Genghis Khan in the neck. His loyal subordinate, Jelme, cared for him. After winning the battle, he asked the defeated to reveal who shot his horse in the neck. This was an euphemism for his own injury in an attempt to conceal his injury or possibly to prevent false confessions. Jirqo'adai voluntarily confessed, and further added that it was Genghis Khan's choice to kill him, but if Jirqo'adai was allowed to live, he would serve Genghis Khan loyally.[6] Genghis Khan valued demonstrated skills by men and their loyalty.[7] He thus pardoned and praised Jirqo'adai in this account. He then gave Jirqo'adai a new name, Jebe, which means both "arrow" and "weapon" in Mongolian.[8]

    1. This is the key to China’s success in mathematics, and why 1.4 billion people can learn how to read and write one of the most byzantine, arcane, ludicrously complicated writing systems on earth.

      Compare with Korea, with the easiest writing system in the world, but still the same extreme authoritarianism, and a somewhat higher highschool suicide rate (due to Korean gaokao stress).

    2. As a result, everyone in China develops informal norms for subverting official rules.

      Chinese adage: 上有政策,下有对策

      "The above has policies; the below has strategic responses."

    1. Everything is slow, little happens. People barely work, they don’t do anything fun or dynamic, they just exist and get by

      This is a close analog to some of the microbes that live with as little power as possible. They do it by being very very slow and zombie like.

      The methanogens, the most stringy kind, uses just 15 zeptowatts per cell, which is just 10 times larger than the theoretical limit of 1 zeptowatt.

      ‘Zombie’ Microbes Redefine Life’s Energy Limits | Quanta Magazine

      members of the team who in 2015 tried to estimate the lowest amount of power needed for life, based on the premise that even deeply dormant cells must repair random damage to their essential molecules to survive. They found that for individual cells, this power minimum hovers around a zeptowatt, or 10−21 watts.

      this underground biome has almost no cell division: Some individual cells down there might be 100 million years old. It also means that in all that time, those cells might not have evolved or changed much at all. It’s a biosphere characterized by stasis.

      Widespread energy limitation to life in global subseafloor sediments

    2. at mid-day, everyone goes back into their huts and lies down and does… nothing


    1. Ψυχὴ θηβαίου Τειρεσίαο σκῆπτρον ἔχων

      Homer, Odyssey, Book 11, line 90.

      In Book 11, Odysseus visited the underworld where every dead goes (in Greek mythology at that time, there's no heaven or hell, only the underworld). In this book, it is shown that the dead souls have a mute and boring lifeless existence. Achilles tells Odysseus that he'd rather be a living slave than the dead king of underworld.

      Cliffnotes says

      Tiresias observes that one of the gods, the earth shaker (Poseidon), is angry with Odysseus for blinding his son (Polyphemus, the Cyclops) and will cause Odysseus and his men many problems. However, Tiresias reports, the Greeks can get home alive if they use proper judgment and control. Above all, they must not harm the cattle of Helios, the Sungod, no matter the temptation. If they do, Odysseus' men will die. Echoing the curse of the Cyclops (9.590-95), Tiresias warns that Odysseus himself might eventually arrive home, but he will be "a broken man — all shipmates lost" (11.130) and find his household in disarray. Furthermore, the prophet instructs Odysseus that he must eventually pursue yet another quest, carrying his oar inland until he meets a race of men who know so little about the sea that they think the oar is "a fan to winnow grain" (11.146). At that place, Odysseus is to make certain sacrifices to Poseidon. If he follows these and other instructions, Odysseus can live out his life and die in peace. (The journey inland, however, takes place after the events told of in The Odyssey.)

      I'll just quote one paragraph starting at line 90:

      “Then there came up the spirit of the Theban Teiresias, bearing his golden staff in his hand, and he knew me and spoke to me: `Son of Laertes, sprung from Zeus, Odysseus of many devices, what now, hapless man? Why hast thou left the light of the sun and come hither to behold the dead and a region where is no joy? Nay, give place from the pit and draw back thy sharp sword, that I may drink of the blood and tell thee sooth.’

    2. What time the persons of these ossuaries entered the famous nations of the dead,[A 114] and slept with princes and counsellors, might admit a wide solution.

      We might approximately determine when the people, to whom the ashes belonged, died.

      A reference to Job 3:13-15

      For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest, With kings and counsellers of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves; Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:

    1. Kurtz-gradient

      A Kurtz-gradient is, essentially, a reference to the kind of intensive journey "to the end of the river" undertaken by Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now and its source material, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

      That is, going back to the roots, back to a past that's more primitive, cruel, uncivilized, but also more alive.

    2. holocaust

      Greek for "complete burning". A rare and expensive ritual used by ancient Hebrew people, where they burn a livestock completely for God, who would smell its "pleasing aroma".

    3. A collective becoming-snake of human civilization would be only the first step.

      Nick Land: An Experiment in Inhumanism – Robin Mackay

      a presentation at the conference Virtual Futures in 1996: Rather than reading a paper, in this collaboration with artist collective Orphan Drift, under the name of ‘DogHead SurGeri,’and complete with jungle soundtrack, Land lay behind the stage, flat on the floor (a ‘snake-becoming’ forming the first stage of bodily destratification), croaking enigmatic invocations intercut with sections from Artaud’s asylum poems. In this delirious vocal telegraphy, meaning seemed to disintegrate into sheer phonetic matter, melting into the cut-up beats and acting directly on the subconscious. As Land began to speak in his strange, choked-off voice (perhaps that ‘absurdly high pitched ... tone ... ancient demonists described as ‘silvery,’ which he later reports being taunted by),3 the disconcerted audience begin to giggle; the demon voice wavered slightly until Land’s sense of mission overcame his momentary self-consciousness; and as the ‘performance’ continued the audience fell silent, eyeing each other uncertainly as if they had walked into a funeral by mistake. Embarrassment was regarded by Land as just one of the rudimentary inhibitions that had to be broken down in order to explore the unknown – in contrast to the forces of academic domestication, which normalised by fostering a sense of inadequacy and shame before the Masters, before the edifice of what is yet to be learnt.

    4. In his formulation of ‘neuronics’, Bodkin sought to understand the unconscious as a time-coded spinal memory

      A fictional professor in Ballard’s nover The Drowned World

      The further down the Central Nervous System you move, from the hindbrain through the medulla into the spinal cord, you descend back into the neuronic past. For example, the junction between the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae...is the great zone of transit between the gill-breathing fish and the air-breathing amphibians with their respiratory rib-cages, the very junction where we stand now on the shores of this lagoon, between the Paleozoic and the Triassic Eras. (§3:44)

    5. These two groups of processes transform the surface of the earth and shape the destiny of everything upon it. Their energy sources are, respectively, the sun, and its repressed runt sibling, the inner core of the earth.

      both powered by radioactivity

      Sun's is fusional. Earth's is fissional.

    1. stammerings, stutterings, vocal tics, extralingual phonetics, and electrodigital voice synthesis are so laden with biopolitical intensity - they threaten to bypass the anthropostructural head-smash that establishes our identity with logos, escaping in the direction of numbers.

      According to geotrauma theory, clear and articulate speech, and lawful civilization ("Logos") in general, is a way for earth to repress its Hadean Eon trauma. Sounds that are not clear or articulate threaten to destroy this repression, which is why they are so disconcerting and almost dangerous to civilization.

    2. Barker Numbering

      Worst section in the whole essay in my opinion. A clusterfuck of meaningless and boring numerology.

      Perhaps a good depiction of psychosis. Since the author, Nick Land, used a lot of meth, it is a reasonable hypothesis.

    3. Decadence

      A fictional game invented by the CCRU. It seems to be about numerology, kind of like real life poker games, and Rithmomachy.

    4. Cthelll

      From the CCRU glossary:

      Cthelll: Earth's iron ocean, comprising one third of terrestrial mass, approximately three thousand km below the surface. Intensive megamolecule.

      Cthelllectronics: Auto-engineering pragmatics of anorganic terrestrial intelligence, emergent from the ionic swirls of Cthelll, it intersects with the electromagnetic fields of the technostrata. According to the K-Goths, when the web switches to Cthelllectronics it calves-off into the Crypt.

    5. Beyond the Pleasure Principle

      1920 essay by Sigmund Freud that marks a major turning point in his theoretical approach. Previously, Freud attributed most human behavior to the sexual instinct. With this essay, Freud went "beyond" the simple pleasure principle, developing his drive theory with the addition of the death drive (Todestrieb).

      The most relevant quote from the essay is

      Such external excitations as are strong enough to break through the barrier against stimuli we call traumatic. In my opinion the concept of trauma involves such a relationship to an otherwise efficacious barrier. An occurrence such as an external trauma will undoubtedly provoke a very extensive disturbance in the workings of the energy of the organism, and will set in motion every kind of protective measure. But the pleasure-principle is to begin with put out of action here. The flooding of the psychic apparatus with large masses of stimuli can no longer be prevented: on the contrary, another task presents itself—to bring the stimulus under control, to bind in the psyche the stimulus mass that has broken its way in, so as to bring about a discharge of it.

    6. Erect posture and perpendicularization of the skull is a frozen calamity, associated with a long list of pathological consequences

      Humans have a lot of illnesses due to their bipedalism, such as back pains.

      The eye sockets on human skulls point perpendicular to the line of spine, unlike all quadrupedal vertebrates.

    7. Elaine Morgan

      Aquatic ape hypothesis - Wikipedia

      The hypothesis was initially proposed by the marine biologist Alister Hardy in 1960, who argued that a branch of apes was forced by competition over terrestrial habitats to hunt for food such as shellfish on the sea shore and sea bed, leading to adaptations that explained distinctive characteristics of modern humans such as functional hairlessness and bipedalism.

      Elaine Morgan's 1990 book on the hypothesis, Scars of Evolution, popularized it.

      Most modern paleontologists and anthropologists consider it disproven.

    8. And what is mammalian life relative to the great saurians? Above all, an innovation in mothering! Suckling as biosurvivalism. Tell me about your mother and you're travelling back to K/T, not into the personal unconscious.

      Freud's psychoanalysis states that adult psychology is based on child and infant experiences. Thus, he would sometimes start his therapy with "tell me about your mother".

      Barker pushes one step further, and asked, "What are child and infant experiences based on?". He concluded that it's based on the rise of mammals (the class of animals distinguished by the trait of milk-suckling), since we are mammals. The rise of mammals is based on the traumatic K/T geological event that wiped out the dinosaurs.

    9. all that thermic energy is sheer impersonal nonsubjective memory of the outside

      Earth's inner core is solid iron, its outer core is liquid iron mixed with other components, and its mantle is dense rock.

      Barker proposes that the earth's iron core is a kind of liquid memory (like a computer hard drive, but... not hard). The patterns of heat flow in the iron core stores the painful memories of Hadean Eon. These memories are expressed on the surface of earth by geological processes.

    10. A Brief History of Geotrauma (Robin Mackay 2011) summarizes geotrauma theory thus:

      ... psychic experience becoming an encrypted geological report, the repercussion of a primal Hadean trauma in the material unconscious of Planet Earth. Further developing Professor Challenger’s model of ‘generalised stratification’, Barker ultra-radicalises Nietzschean genealogy into a materialist cryptoscience.

      ‘Geotraumatics’ draws on everything from geology and microbial evolution to human biology and vocalisation, reinterpreting Earth-history as a series of nested traumas of which human subjectivity is the symptom.

      In other words, Barker proposed that the true meaning of our thoughts can only be understood by genealogical analysis (as Nietzsche did for morality). And since we are creatures descended from geological chemicals of the Hadean Eon, our thoughts must be understood by understanding the earth during the Hadean Eon.

      "generalised stratification" roughly means: the biosphere is just another layer of the geological strata of earth; the psycho-sphere too. Our thoughts are actually geological formations, like valleys and rivers.

      And these geological formations are in pain, much like a plateau is the result of tensions in the lithosphere, and earthquakes are massive outpourings of such tensions.

      Our thoughts are just another symptom of the pains of earth.

    11. regression

      According to Sigmund Freud,regression is an unconscious defense mechanism, which causes the temporary or long-term reversion of the ego to an earlier stage of development (instead of handling unacceptable impulses in a more adult manner).

    12. mapping the Geocosmic Unconscious as a traumatic megasystem, with life and thought dynamically quantized in terms of anorganic tension, elasticity, or machinic plexion.

      From the essay's Section 4 (emphasis mine)

      Let us imagine living organisms in their simplest possible form as an undifferentiated vesicle of irritable matter; its surface, inasmuch as it faces out towards the external world, is thus differentiated by its very position, and serves as the vesicle's receptor organ. Embryology qua recapitulation of evolution really does show, moreover, that the central nervous system develops from the ectoderm; and the grey cerebral cortex remains a derivative of the primordial outer surface, and may well have inherited some of its essential attributes. It is therefore easily conceivable that by dint of constant bombardment of the vesicle's outer surface by external stimuli, the substance of the cell becomes permanently altered down to a certain depth, with the result that excitation occurs differently in this surface layer from the way it occurs in the deeper layers. A cortex would thus form that ultimately becomes so tempered by the effect of the stimuli that it becomes perfectly adapted to their reception and becomes incapable of further modification.

      ... its outermost surface abandons the structure proper to living things, becomes to all intents and purposes inorganic, and in consequence operates as a special covering or membrane impeding the stimuli... The outer layer becomes necrotic – but by doing so it protects all the deeper-lying ones from suffering a similar fate, at any rate so long as the stimuli do not bombard it with such force that they break through the protective barrier. For the living organism, the process protecting it against stimuli is almost more important than the process whereby it receives stimuli; the protective barrier is equipped with its own store of energy, and must above all seek to defend the particular transformations of energy at work within it against the assimilative and hence destructive influence of the enormously powerful energies at work outside it. The process of receiving stimuli chiefly serves the purpose of determining the direction and nature of the external stimuli, and for that it must clearly be sufficient to take small specimens from the external world, to sample it in tiny quantities. In highly developed organisms the stimulus-receiving cortical layer of the erstwhile vesicle has long since retreated into the inner depths of the body, but parts of it have remained on the surface immediately beneath the general protective barrier. These are the sense organs, which essentially are equipped to register the effects of specific stimuli, but also include special devices to provide additional protection against excessively high levels of stimulation, and to exclude unsuitable types of stimulus. It is characteristic of them that they process only very small quantities of the external stimulus; they merely take samples of the external world. One can perhaps compare them to feelers that reach out tentatively towards the external world and then repeatedly draw back...

    13. Echidna Stillwell

      Another fictional character created by CCRU.

      The only document attributed her is Stillwell-Vysparov Letters – Miskatonic Virtual University Press.

    14. stripping out superfluous prejudices about the source and meaning of complex functional patterns

      If you are trying to break a code, you should have the right assumptions about the source of the code, otherwise you will look for the pattern you wanted to find, and either fail to find it, or find an illusion of it (as in pareidolia).

    15. associating it with oedipal reductionism

      Freud's theory was much more than Oedipus Complex, but that's what he's most famous of, and that's what most people think of when they think of Freud.

    16. At first there was just the equation, precipitated in what I still thought to be my own body, virtual tic-density = geotraumatic tension.

      When Barker first figured out how to measure those hard-to-measure things ("disorganized multiplicities"), he thought he figured it out himself. Later, he understood that there is no himself. He was merely a "virtual tic-density", a "geotraumatic tension".

      A "tic-density" is a spacetime region where there are lots of tics happening. Animals are tic-density regions. The vacuum is the opposite of tic-density regions.

      A human is a "virtual tic-density", because it is just a name given to a temporary tic-density region, that will exist for only a few decades, with matter flowing in and out every hour. Basically, the intuitive understanding of the self is an illusion.

      A "geotraumatic tension" is an analogy from structural engineering. A tension point in a slab of steel is a point of high stress. Barker stated that humans are psychological tension points of the alive-and-thinking earth's psychology.

    17. signaletics

      "Pertaining to signs or signifiers"

    18. When you strip-out all the sedimented redundancy from the side of the investigation itself - the assumption of intentionality, subjectivity, interpretability, structure, etc - what remains are assemblies of functionally interconnected microstimulus, or tic-systems

      Barker suggests that the assumption of the intentional stance is wrong. Communication doesn't require intention. It only requires information, which only requires the design stance.

      It is possible to speak without thoughts, without intention, without meaning. And in order to find speech from non-human places, it is necessary to accept this kind of meaningless speech as speech.

    19. SETI activity

      "search for extraterrestrial intelligences"

    20. Tic-Systems

      A tic is a sudden, repetitive, nonrhythmic motor movement or vocalization involving discrete muscle groups.

      Here, a "tic-system" is a system of motor impulses that simply do things without thinking about them. A system of motor reflexes. It is what humans and all other animals are, according to some philosophers like Nietzsche.

    21. Anorganic Semiotics

      The study of how non-organic matter communicate.

      For example, trying to decode the "speech" of earthquake waves.

    22. MVU, Mass.

      MVU = Miskatonic Virtual University

      Miskatonic University is a fictional university located in Arkham, a fictional town in Essex County, Massachusetts. It is named after the Miskatonic River. After first appearing in H. P. Lovecraft's 1922 story "Herbert West–Reanimator", the school appeared in numerous Cthulhu Mythos stories by Lovecraft and other writers.

    1. the Hubble Effect, the Rostov-Lysenko Syndrome and the LePage Amplification Synchronoclasmique

      Three fictional concepts from the 1964 cosmic horror short story "The Illuminated Man" by J G Ballard.

    2. Principles of Least Action

      In physics, Principles of Least Action are formulations of physical laws that have a distinct "teleological form". It is often informally stated as "Nature takes the path of least action between the beginning and the end."

    3. Kleptoplasty

      Kleptoplasty is the behavior of taking chloroplasts from a food source and incorporating them into the consumer's cells. The root word klepto- comes from the Greek word for thief.Organisms capable of kleptoplasty typically eat algae or aquatic plants and "steal" the undigested chloroplasts.

    4. Subornation

      "To induce to commit an unlawful or evil act."

    5. Teleonomic

      Teleonomy is the quality of apparent purposefulness and of goal-directedness of structures and functions in living organisms brought about by natural processes like natural selection.

    6. Replicator Usurpation

      The clay hypothesis suggests how biologically inert matter helped the evolution of early life forms: clay minerals form naturally from silicates in solution. Clay crystals, as other crystals, preserve their external formal arrangement as they grow, snap, and grow further. Clay crystal masses of a particular external form may happen to affect their environment in ways that affect their chances of further replication. For example, a "stickier" clay crystal is more likely to silt a stream bed, creating an environment conducive to further sedimentation. It is conceivable that such effects could extend to the creation of flat areas likely to be exposed to air, dry, and turn to wind-borne dust, which could fall randomly in other streams. Thus—by simple, inorganic, physical processes—a selection environment might exist for the reproduction of clay crystals of the "stickier" shape.

      There follows a process of natural selection for clay crystals that trap certain forms of molecules to their surfaces that may enhance their replication potential. Complex proto-organic molecules can be catalysed by the surface properties of silicates. When complex molecules perform a "genetic takeover" from their clay "vehicle", they become an independent locus of replication – an evolutionary moment that might be understood as the first exaptation.

    7. Nemo-Phenomenology

      "nemo" is Latin for ne hemō (“no man”)

      "Nemo-Phenomenology" is exactly what it says: "what it feels like to be no man".

    8. Bok Globules

      isolated and relatively small dark nebulae, containing dense cosmic dust and gas from which star formation may take place. Bok globules are found within H II regions, and typically have a mass of about 2 to 50 solar masses contained within a region about a light year or so across.

    9. Spinal Catastrophism

      From Barker's interview

      Spinal-Catastrophism. For humans there is the particular crisis of bipedal erect posture to be processed. I was increasingly aware that all my real problems were modalities of back-pain, or phylogenetic spinal injury, which took me back to the calamitous consequences of the precambrian explosion, roughly five hundred million years ago. The ensuing period is incrementally body-mapped by metazoan organization. Obviously there are discrete quasi-coherent neuromotor tic-flux patterns, whose incrementally rigidified stages are swimming, crawling, and (bipedal) walking. Elaine Morgan persuasively traces the origin of protohuman bipedalism to certain deleterious plate-tectonic shifts. The model is bioseismic. Crustal convulsions and animal body-plan are rigorously interconnected, and the entire Aquatic Ape Theory constitutes an exemplary geotraumatic analysis. Erect posture and perpendicularization of the skull is a frozen calamity, associated with a long list of pathological consequences, amongst which should be included most of the human psychoneuroses. Numerous trends in contemporary culture attest to an attempted recovery of the icthyophidian- or flexomotile-spine: horizontal and impulsive rather than vertical and stress-bearing.

      In short, the bipedal walking habits and the spinal anatomy of humans is causing a lot of back pain and other health problems. These are actually the symptoms of earth's traumas.

    10. Musæum Clausum

      Musaeum Clausum (Latin for Sealed Museum), also known as Bibliotheca abscondita (Secret Library in Latin), is a tract written by Sir Thomas Browne which was first published posthumously in 1684. The tract contains short sentence descriptions of supposed, rumoured or lost books, pictures, and objects. The subtitle describes the tract as an inventory of remarkable books, antiquities, pictures and rarities of several kinds, scarce or never seen by any man now living. Its date is unknown: however, an event from the year 1673 is cited.

      Like his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, Musaeum Clausum is a catalogue of doubts and queries, only this time, in a style which anticipates the 20th-century Argentinian short-story writer Jorge Luis Borges, who once declared: "To write vast books is a laborious nonsense; much better is to offer a summary as if those books actually existed."

    11. Observation Selection Effects and The Great Quietus

      Look up "observer selection effect", or the "anthropic bias".

      Look up "The Great Silence" or "The Great Filter".

    12. Shadow Biosphere

      A shadow biosphere is a hypothetical microbial biosphere of Earth that would use radically different biochemical and molecular processes from that of currently known life.

      Normally, the shadow biosphere is understood as secret microbes that happily eat rock chemicals and geothermal energy, several km deep in the crust. Weird, but not very weird.

      Here, Barker proposes a very weird kind of shadow biosphere, one that is based on "necroevolution".

      Necroevolution is a concept proposed by Stanislaw Lem in the novel The Invincible. It describes a hypothetical situation where machinic life forms evolve that outcompete normal life forms. This victorious, "invincible" machinic life form is so weird and un-lively that the people who witnessed it felt that it couldn't be truly called alive. They called it "necroevolution".

      A modern incarnation of "necroevolution" is the Grey Goo scenario.

      Perhaps Barker is proposing that, somewhere in earth's crust, the strains and inorganic chemical complexes are necroevolving, and they constitute a shadow biosphere.

    13. Heterochronic

      Heterochrony is a concept in evo-devo:

      In evolutionary developmental biology, heterochrony is any genetically controlled difference in the timing, rate, or duration of a developmental process in an organism compared to its ancestors or other organisms. This leads to changes in the size, shape, characteristics and even presence of certain organs and features.

      Here, the organic life and the inorganic non-life are considered as just developmental stages of matter. "Life is just a phase every corpse goes through."

      The Ossificans is interpreted as heterochrony. The piece of matter is so impatient to reach the rocks phase that it starts turning muscles into bones while it is still in the living phase.

      Thus "Thanatos Praecox" ("Premature Death").

    14. Plutonics

      Plutonics is the psychoanalysis of the buried trauma of earth. (Pluto is the Greek/Roman god of the underworld)

      From Barker Speaks

      Deleuze and Guattari ask: Who does the Earth think it is? It's a matter of consistency. Start with the scientific story, which goes like this: between four point five and four billion years ago - during the Hadean epoch - the earth was kept in a state of superheated molten slag, through the conversion of planetesimal and meteoritic impacts into temperature increase (kinetic to thermic energy). As the solar-system condensed the rate and magnitude of collisions steadily declined, and the terrestrial surface cooled, due to the radiation of heat into space, reinforced by the beginnings of the hydrocycle. During the ensuing - Archaen - epoch the molten core was buried within a crustal shell, producing an insulated reservoir of primal exogeneous trauma, the geocosmic motor of terrestrial transmutation. And that's it. That's plutonics, or neoplutonism. It's all there: anorganic memory, plutonic looping of external collisions into interior content, impersonal trauma as drive-mechanism. The descent into the body of the earth corresponds to a regression through geocosmic time.

    15. Ossificans Progressiva

      a disease where the victim's muscles slowly turn into bones. The victim, even if cared for, would eventually die from being unable to move the lungs to breathe.

    16. Thanatos Praecox

      "Premature death".

      It is a parody phrase of "dementia praecox" ("premature madness"), which is the 19th century name for schizophrenia.

    17. Barker Speaks: The CCRU Interview with Professor D.C. Barker

      This is the only document that actually exists. It is another piece of philoso-fiction, written by members of the CCRU.

      Read it here

    18. Genomic Recidivism and its Infernal Potentials

      "genomic recidivism" roughly means that our genome used to be "criminal", and might become criminal again.

      The article proposes that our genome bears the imprint of its origin in the Hadean Eon, when earth was "hadean" (hellish). It could suddenly revert to its Hadean nature and create hell here and now.

    19. Liberatis tutemet ex inferna

      "Save yourself from hell".

    20. Ashen Light Debate

      Ashen light is a hypothesised subtle glow that has been claimed to be seen on the night side of the planet Venus. The phenomenon has not been scientifically confirmed, but has been suggested to be associated with lightning, which there is some evidence for on Venus.

      It is believed to either be a visual illusion, or a thunderstorm-like weather phenomenon on Venus.

      Further reading: Mystery of the Ashen Light of Venus (2021)

    21. This is an example of "philoso-fiction", presenting modern mad French philosophy in the style of a fictional researcher in a world somewhat like Lovecraft's universe.

      It blends horror, occult, secret, and modern mad French philosophy together. It is somewhat similar to the SCP project.

    22. Spiritus Mundi

      "World Spirit", something Hegel (a father of modern French philosophy) talked about a lot.

    1. Work is secretly meaningless; distractions are obviously meaningless. Distractions serve to make work seem meaningful by contrast.

      In this way, work depends on distraction. If there is no distraction, work would be seen as obviously meaningless and then people would revolt.

    1. hippocampal θ-rhythm

      The hippocampus is the main structure involved in the generation of the 4- to 12-Hz theta (θ) rhythm, which is one of the most regular EEG oscillation that can be recorded from the mammalian brain.

      The theta mode appears during states of active, alert behavior (especially locomotion), and also during REM (dreaming) sleep.

      The LIA mode appears during slow-wave (non-dreaming) sleep, and also during states of waking immobility such as resting or eating.

    1. vernalization

      Latin "vernus" means "of spring".

      Induction of the flowering process of the plant by exposure to the long periods of cold winter or such conditions. Once this process takes place, plants develop the capability of flowering.

  3. Dec 2021
    1. The "Unconscious" is just an intentional stance upon the biochemical machine that is the brain. Intentionality, beliefs, desires... these are merely convenient fictions for talking about the Unconscious.

      Similarly for the Conscious.

      In the story of the bicameral mind (Julian Jaynes), the voices of gods stopped speaking about 5000 years ago. Well, what happens if the voices of consciousness also stop speaking?

    2. that perhaps we need to reserve a family plot

      "family plot" means a graveyard place where a family can be buried in.

      Bakker suggests that all the intuitive concepts about consciousness and unconscious -- things like desires, cravings, beliefs, qualias, emotions, moods -- will all be buried by neuroscience, indiscriminately.

    3. What does it mean to yield the house when you leave the walls, floor, and roof intact?–except that you think you’re cooler because your interior designer decorates in French.

      The postmodernists like to say they have given up the Cartesian subject, but they kind of haven't. They admit that the Cartesian subject is not in one piece, but made of many pieces, like... intentionality, qualia, etc.

      They dress this up with French words like "differance", but that's not radical or scientific enough. They should really deconstruct these concepts -- like intentionality -- too, guided by neuroscience and cognitive psychology.

    1. phenomenology’s method

      Husserl made some phenomenological methods, kind of like scientific methods.

    1. fiction can live it

      a patently contradictory conceit that only a humanist could believe...

    2. vade mecum

      Vade mecum is Latin for go with me (it derives from the Latin verb vadere, meaning "to go.") In English, "vade mecum" has been used (since at least 1629) of manuals or guidebooks sufficiently compact to be carried in a deep pocket.

    1. Summary

      The Mary thought experiment generates two camps, because it is a cognitive illusion with two attractor states. The thought experiment can be processed by two cognitive processes such that their outcomes are in conflict. These processes are evolved heuristics, and the thought experiment is outside their supposed area of expertise (no human in evolutionary history had to deal with Mary the Color Scientist before).

      How the brain works

      People used to assume that reason is in one piece, but it is not. We are made of cognitive modules, which themselves are made of smaller modules, and so on.

      Also, all of them are heuristic, with a supposed area of expertise. They probably won't work if they get some input outside their area.

      It's heuristics all the way down.

      A large part of what the brain does can be modelled as an inverse problem solver. Given the output, what generated the output? Given what it senses, what kind of world generated that?


      • lateral: the distal systems that the brain tracks and models. Things like cars and chairs and other people.
      • medial: the proximal mechanisms that the brain uses to track and model distal systems. Like, the eyes, ears, the spinal cord, etc.

      The brain needs to work with a tight time and energy budget, so it has to take shortcuts as much as possible. Therefore, it spends no effort on modelling its medial systems, because these medial systems don't change. We see the world, but we don't see the retina. We touch, but we don't touch the skin, etc.

      Well, almost. The brain does spend some minimal effort modeling the medial systems. That's how we get introspection.

      The medial neglect

      This is the medial neglect.

      We should expect nothing but troubles and errors when we attempt to model our medial systems using nothing but our own brain, since we are then effectively using the medial systems to model itself, which cannot be done accurately due to recursion.

      This is like the "observer effect". The brain is too close to itself to think about itself accurately. It can only think about itself with severe simplification.

      This explains why philosophical (that is, done without empirical data) phenomenology must fail. They have as much chance to succeed as one can think one's way into discovering that they have two brain hemispheres without knowing any science.

      Consider some evidences.

      Humans took such a long time to even realize that the brain, not the heart, is the thinking organ. Even Plato gave a theory of memory, but it took until 20th century for psychologists to discover that there are more than one kind of memory. It took until Freud for the "unconscious" to become a commonly recognized thing.

      The list goes on. We can't know how the brain works by introspection. The only way is by careful science, treating the brain in the third person (lateral), rather than the first person (medial).

      The whole project of a priori phenomenology/epistemology/metaphysics is about doing the first person view before doing any third person view. They got it exactly backwards. No wonder it is a sterile field.

      Mary the color scientist is a bistable illusion

      Bakker's argument goes like this:

      • Mary learns all physical facts about by reading.
      • We don't know that there are certain physical facts that cannot be learned by reading. Since we don't know of these limits, we just assume they don't exist. This is the illusion of sufficiency.
      • However, we find it impossible for Mary to see red by reading books, for the simple reason that "seeing red" is something source-insensitive, while reading books only gives source-sensitive information.

      What then? Consciousness isn't real?

      We should expect science to reveal consciousness as a useful illusion, because it's just too costly for us to know ourselves accurately by mere introspection. Conscious experience, being a kind of introspection, is then an illusion.

      In fact, even intentionality is suspicious, since it is also a heuristic made to solve the world, not the brain itself.

      How should one react to this? No comments...

    2. inverse optics problem

      It's called "vision as inverse graphics" among computer vision scientists.

    1. I would argue that it is this myopic privileging of one’s own prejudices—the baseless elevation of the parochial to the universal—that has underwritten history’s greatest atrocities and that continually threatens to give rise to any number of fresh horrors.

      This is a typical move for writers of radical claims: to make the bitter pill seem acceptable by somehow tying it to something emotionally nice.

      It is nothing more than post-hoc rationalization, like all "and the moral of the story is...".

      Indeed, I can mount an ad hominem attack against this claim: how could we know that these atrocities are atrocities? By way of skeptic thinking, all I need to do to make them no longer atrocities is to get myself into a life-world, a context, where such atrocities are not, according to communal epistemic practices (say, the local Nazi club)...

    2. we might know all sorts of things one moment, then in the next moment—after the unanswerable Matrix possibility is raised—no longer know anything

      This is a rather dramatic kind of non-monotonic logic.

    3. The Five Agrippan Modes
      1. Dissent � The uncertainty demonstrated by the differences of opinions among philosophers and people in general.
      2. Progress ad infinitum � All proof rests on matters themselves in need of proof, and so on to infinity.
      3. Relation � All things are changed as their relations become changed, or, as we look upon them from different points of view.
      4. Assumption � The truth asserted is based on an unsupported assumption.
      5. Circularity � The truth asserted involves a circularity of proofs.
    4. In other words, they construct their arguments on the basis of what other people hold to be true.

      Pyrrohnians are in a sense parasitic: they don't create new premises or argument structures. They simply expose the inherent contradictions in others' philosophies.

    5. charging the skeptic with self-refutation amounts to charging philosophico-rational thought as such with self-refutation

      The Skeptic strategy:

      1. Take usual philosophy as starting point.
      2. Derive "knowledge is impossible."
      3. Wait to be challenged as "self-refuting".
      4. Wait for the challenger to realize that, actually, it is usual philosophy that is self-refuting.
    6. by both Nietzsche and Wittgenstein


      Each word of Heraclitus expresses the pride and the majesty of truth, but of truth grasped in intuitions rather than attained by the rope ladder of logic.

      Even truthfulness is but one means to knowledge, a ladder--but not the ladder.

      Tractatus 6.54

      My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them—as steps—to climb beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)

      He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.


    7. peritropē, or self-refutation, argument; and the apraxia, or impracticability

      peritrope: if you claim to refute all knowledge, then you know that you have refuted all knowledge, which is a contradiction.

      apraxia: you can't stay alive unless you act as if you have knowledge.

    1. peritropē

      Peritrope (Greek: περιτροπή) is Socrates' argument against Protagoras ' view of relative truth, as presented in Plato's book known as Theaetetus (169-171e).

      It means "a turning back on one" and likened to the image of a snake devouring its own tail. Socrates' peritrope described Protagoras' view as a theory that no longer requires criticism because it already devours itself. Sextus Empiricus is thought to have given the name in a comment on Protagoras' view in Against the Logicians.

    2. What does ‘externalism’ come down to?  Just this: “It might very well be the case that many of our beliefs are justified even if we have no way of knowing that they are.”

      One practical problem with externalism is that it makes it difficult to program an agent such that it can know what it knows.

      Namely, because the agent can't find justification inside itself (justification is external), the agent cannot (unless it asks for help) separate its unjustified beliefs (definitely not knowledge) from its justified beliefs (not yet knowledge, but pretty close) from its pile of blind beliefs.

      And who is the agent going to ask for help from? Other agents? But all agents would have the same problem if knowledge is external in our world.

      In such a world, agents can know lots of things, but they cannot know what they know. Since humans (claim to) know plenty of what they know, human philosophers find the externalism theory of knowledge a bad fit to what they observe.

    3. Finally, some epistemologists endorse ‘externalism,’ according to which (roughly) knowledge does not require that the knowing subject know that she knows.

      This allows justified true belief:

      Belief: the person believes in it (blindly).

      True: the world makes it true.

      Justified: the world makes it justified (here is where externalism differs from the others).

    1. Eric: I will define phenomenal consciousness by examples and folk psychology!

      Phenomenal consciousness is the most folk psychologically obvious thing or feature that the positive examples possess and that the negative examples lack. I do think that there is one very obvious feature that ties together sensory experiences, imagery experiences, emotional experiences, dream experiences, and conscious thoughts and desires. They’re all conscious experiences. None of the other stuff is experienced (lipid absorption, the tactile smoothness of your desk, etc.).

      Bakker: Which part of our brains is making the "obvious" verdict? Not folk psychology, but folk philosophy!

      Typically, recognition of experience-qua-experience is thought to be an intellectual achievement of some kind, a first step toward the ‘philosophical’ or ‘reflective’ or ‘contemplative’ attitude. Shouldn’t we say, rather, that phenomenal consciousness is the most obvious thing or feature these examples share upon reflection, which is to say, philosophically?

      Eric: Also, any theory of phenomenal consciousness must explain why it is obvious, but we are struck with wonder and confusion when we stop to think about it.

      If the reduction of phenomenal consciousness to something physical or functional or “easy” is possible, it should take some work. It should not be obviously so, just on the surface of the definition. We should be able to wonder how consciousness could possibly arise from functional mechanisms and matter in motion. Call this the wonderfulness condition.

      Bakker: Yeah, I understand that. It's just like St Augustine with time

      “What, then, is time? If no one asks of me, I know; if I wish to explain to him who asks, I know not.”

      And I can explain both the same way! The reason is that we know how to use time, but not how to theorize abstractly concerning time. Similarly, we know how to use phenomenal consciousness, but not how to theorize abstractly about it.


      Evolution! We die if we don't know how to use time, but nothing bad would happen if we can't theorize time. Similarly for phenomenal consciousness.

      Why would we die if we don't know how to use phenomenal consciousness? Bakker doesn't explain, though presumably it is important for something (otherwise evolution would not have produced it).

      Why is there such a difference between using and theorizing? That brings us to two families of cognitive processes.

      Family 1: source sensitive. Such a process is evolved to deal with causal mechanisms (basically, doing science, asking "how", although in an unschooled, primitive way). Because it deals with causal mechanisms, and everything has a previous cause, the process always has "open slots" where more information can be sent in for processing.

      This family is more versatile and it is responsible for the dramatic scientific progress.

      Family 2: source insensitive. A member of this family would have "fixed input format" as an analogy. It would not request for information on "and what happened before that?" or "and what is inside this black box function?".

      This family is inflexible, and it is responsible for the endless philosophical debates.

      In fact, they are blind to these further information, and blind to their blindness. The result is that subjectively, when thinking using such source-insensitive cognition processes, the feeling is a sense of sufficiency: there's nothing lacking. No puzzling fact that requires expanding. No "and what happened before that?"

      Phenomenal consciousness seems to be made of family 2 processes. That's why it feels so complete even if it is so information-poor.

    2. The beauty of definition by example is that offering instances of the phenomenon at issue allows you to remain agnostic regarding the properties possessed by that phenomenon. It actually seems to deliver the very metaphysical and epistemological innocence Eric needs to stave off the charge of inflation. It really does allow him to ditch the baggage and travel wearing all his clothes, or so it seems

      A great metaphor here. A luggage is a box (concept) that contains a lot of clothes (instances). If the luggage is "too big" ("inflated", meaning either "metaphysically inflated" -- it adds spooky real things to the world, like ghosts and qualias and world souls -- or "epistemologically inflated" -- it adds spooky ways to gain knowledge, such as direct and accurate introspection, which is already experimentally disproved), then you can't bring it on the plane (to your philosophy). But you might try to bring all the clothes without using a luggage by simply listing all the examples without giving an abstract concept that allows you to derive the examples.

    1. between Plato’s simple aviary, the famous metaphor he offers for memory in the Theaetetus, and the imposing complexity of memory as we understand it today

      See also The Ptolemaic Restoration: Object Oriented Whatevery and Kant’s Copernican Revolution | Three Pound Brain

      Socrates invites us to think of the mind as an aviary full of birds of all sorts. The owner possesses them, in the sense that he has the ability to enter the aviary and catch them, but does not have them, unless he literally has them in his hands. The birds are pieces of knowledge, to hand them over to someone else is to teach, to stock the aviary is to learn, to catch a particular bird is to remember a thing once learned and thus potentially known. The possibility of false judgment emerges when one enters the aviary in order to catch, say, a pigeon but instead catches, say, a ring-dove.

    1. PI

      Philosophical Investigations

    2. as soon as the subject contextualizes knowledge, the subject seems to somehow determine knowledge.  likewise, as soon as norms contextualize knowledge, norms seem to somehow determine knowledge.

      Later continental philosophers would use this to politicize knowledge. Especially Foucault. He basically claimed that power determines the standard by which we judge what is knowledge and what is just heresy.

    1. game of giving and asking for lies

      A darker version of Sellar's "game of giving and asking for reasons".

    2. the conscious brain, lacking any real access to the gut brain, looks outside to generate interpretations and justifications regarding itself. And why not, when it has spent millions of years second-guessing its fellow brains?

      Hint of the introspective illusion: we don't introspect directly, but we merely apply Theory of Mind on ourselves.

    1. Bakker makes a giant list of concepts that are both low-dimensional information processes in the brain, and discontinuous from nature (and thus impossible to explain by natural science).

      Bakker then proposes that all of them are bunk and will be explained away as cognitive illusions caused by the low-dimensionality. Various philosophers like Dennett and Churchland and Brandom might throw away some and preserve others, but they are just gerrymandering. All these must be thrown away.

    1. Derrida’s famous image of the labyrinth that includes its own exits and his statement that there is nothing outside of text (or context) are not only metaphors for the LWOS, but for the theoretical structure of deconstruction itself.

      "There is nothing outside the text." is like visual anosognosia. Not only can't they see things that aren't text, they can't see that they are blind.

    2. aporia

      One example from Jacques Derrida (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

      Our most common axiom in ethical or political thought is that to be just or unjust and to exercise justice, one must be free and responsible for one’s actions and decisions. Here Derrida in effect is asking: what is freedom. On the one hand, freedom consists in following a rule; but in the case of justice, we would say that a judgment that simply followed the law was only right, not just. For a decision to be just, not only must a judge follow a rule but also he or she must “re-institute” it, in a new judgment. Thus a decision aiming at justice (a free decision) is both regulated and unregulated. The law must be conserved and also destroyed or suspended... justice is impossible.

      In short: if you follow rules, you are an amoral machine. If you don't follow the rules, you are an amoral anarchist. You're damned either way.

    3. the continuous philosophical reinterpretation of the LWOS over the centuries is no coincidence. There’s something that people are after. My suggestion is that these all represent attempts to come to discursive grips with various experiential margins, which is to say, the ways the neural information horizons of the TCS are expressed in consciousness

      Philosophers noticed the first-person effects of LWOS, and tried to derive philosophies out of them. They failed, because they didn't have the neuroscience to actually understand the first-person effects of LWOS through third-person, neuroscientific theory.

    4. specious present

      the prototype of all conceived times... the short duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible

      William James, The principles of psychology.

    1. Unable to track the neurofunctional provenance of behaviour, metacognition posits ‘choice,’ the determination of behaviour ex-nihilo.

      "Free will" is an illusion caused by the fact that the "darkness that came before" a conscious idea remains unconscious. Since we don't notice the darkness that came before, we presume the ideas pop up "freely" (that is, unbound by causality).

    2. Metacognition attributes psychological continuity, even ontological simplicity, to ‘us’ simply because it neglects the information required to cognize myriad, and many cases profound, discontinuities.

      It took such a long time for people to discover that they are not in one piece, because it is profoundly unintuitive. Intuitively, I am in one piece, because the information that can reveal the fractionate nature of me is never raised to the level of consciousness (except perhaps in some psychopathologies).

    3. We attribute subjectivity to ourselves as well as to others, not because we actually have subjectivity, but because it’s the best we can manage given the fragmentary information we got.

      In the same vein, there is the "Bayesing Qualia" paper, which posits that qualias are an explanation conjured up in the brain to explain certain features of its inference mechanism.

      Bayesing qualia: Consciousness as inference, not raw datum A Clark, K Friston, S Wilkinson - Journal of Consciousness Studies, 2019

    4. making no difference makes a difference to the functioning of complex systems attuned to those differences. This is the implicit foundational moral of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: How can shadows come to seem real? Well, simply occlude any information telling you otherwise. Next to nothing, in other words, can strike us as everything there is, short of access to anything more–such as information pertaining to the possibility that there is something more.

      "The illusion of sufficiency".

      In Caution Flag | Three Pound Brain, there is a very dramatic example of illusion sufficiency:

      Consider the following one sentence story about Johnny:

      S1: Johnny went to the corner store, grabbed some milk, then came home to watch Bill Maher.

      This is innocuous enough in isolation, until you begin packing in some modifiers:

      S2: Johnny went to the corner store, stepped over the blood running into the aisle, grabbed some milk, then came home to smoke a joint and watch that idiot Bill Maher.

      Pack in some more:

      S3: Rather than take his medication, Johnny went to the corner store, shot the guy at the till in the face, stepped over the blood running into the aisle, grabbed some milk, then came home to smoke a joint and watch that liberal scumbag idiot Bill Maher with his neighbour’s corpse.

      Oof. That Johnny’s fucking crazy, man.

    5. Our cosmological understanding has been nothing if not a process of continual systematic differentiation or ever increasing resolution in the polydimensional sense of the natural. In a peculiar sense, our ignorance is our fundamental medium, the ‘stuff’ from which the distinctions pertaining to actual cognition are hewn.

      It's an extended analogy: if we see two things and don't notice some difference in need of explaining, we assume they are the same by default, and don't even think about whether they are really the same.

      Similarly, if introspection neglects enough information, it would lead to a lot of unnoticed identifications.

      For another example, people didn't notice difference between the position of earth today and yesterday, so they assumed the earth remains in the same position by default, even though they could have noticed that if the earth goes around the sun, it would give the same observations.

    1. the humanities provided a discursive space where specialists could still intentionally theorize without fear of embarrassing themselves

      Bakker elsewhere remarks that philosophy is an academic subject where people seriously talk about literally supernatural beings like "intentionality" and "norms", and yet it purports to be prior to science.

      Kind of like using Ted Bundy’s testimony to convict Mother Theresa.

    2. Where the ancient Greeks said “Athena struck down Hector by Achilles hand,” we say, “The social a priori struck down Hector by Achilles hand,” or “The unconscious struck down Hector by Achilles hand.”

      See A Eulogy for the Unconscious (1895 – 2012) | Three Pound Brain

      And his master narrative could very well be true: that the Unconscious finds its historical origins beyond the horizon of the outer, objective world, then gradually migrates to its present locus beyond the horizon of our inner, subjective world.

      The Unconscious, in other words, is of a piece with gods and underworlds, a way of comprehending What We Are Not in terms of What We Are. It’s literally what happens when we rebuild Mount Olympus into our skull. This explains why it’s such a curious double gesture, why, in the course of disempowering us, it allows us to own our abjection. My skull, after all, remains my skull, and if What We Are Not resides inside my skull, then ‘I own it.’ We bitch about our Unconscious to be sure, but we cluck and joke about it as well, the same way we do when our children are obstinate or wilful. ‘A Freudian Slip’ is almost always an occasion for smiles, if not laughter.

    3. Human theoretical incompetence actually explains why we required the methodological and institutional apparatuses of science to so miraculously transform the world).

      In fact, before 18th century, science was mostly theoretical. Technology, obtained by tinkering and trials, with no theoretical guidance, went along without science.

      This demonstrates the depths of humanity's theoretical incompetence:

      • Philosophy, the most theoretical subject, has made almost no progress and resolved no problems.
      • Science, a rigorous and methodical theoretical project, did not substantially progress until starting around 16th century, and even then it took another 2 centuries for it to start guiding technology.
      • Technology, the most practical subject, has made plenty of progress way before science has started making steady progress.
    4. Semmelweis reflex

      The term derives from the name of Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician who discovered in 1847 that childbed fever mortality rates fell ten-fold when doctors disinfected their hands with a chlorine solution before moving from one patient to another, or, most particularly, after an autopsy. (At one of the two maternity wards at the university hospital where Semmelweis worked, physicians performed autopsies on every deceased patient.) Semmelweis's procedure saved many lives by stopping the ongoing contamination of patients (mostly pregnant women) with what he termed "cadaverous particles", twenty years before germ theory was discovered.

    5. the humanities, which are so quick to posture themselves as critical authorities, are simply of a piece with our sham culture of pseudo-empowerment and fatuous self-affirmation

      The popular understanding of Nietzsche has domesticated him into a tepid motivational speaker about "Being the best you can be."

      The humanities people tend to do the same (except in words way harder to understand).

    6. First, you need to be unaware of what we now know about human cognition and its apparent limitations. Second, you need to know next to nothing about the physiology of the human soul.

      Bakker's signature move: dissolving a philosophical position/problem by an analysis of how human brains work quite well by heuristics (in daily life, but not in philosophy) despite lack of information (Blind Brain Theory). How this heuristic creates illusions that trap philosophers into stupid positions, like continental philosophy.

    7. I met a philosophy PhD student from Mississippi who was also an avowed nihilist. Given my own heathen, positivistic past, I took it upon myself to convert the poor fool. He was just an adolescent, after all–time to set aside childish thoughts! So I launched into an account of my own sorry history and how I had been saved by Heidegger and the ontological difference.

      Very much like a born-again Christian trying to convert a lost soul.

    8. metaphysics of presence
    9. The facticity of my thrownness

      Two jargons invented by Heidegger. Roughly, it means "humans are thrown (geworfen) into the world without explanation, as a brute fact."

    10. death and fate seized and dragged him down.

      Priam (father of Hector) lamenting the death of Hector.

      You, you were their greatest glory while you lived— now death and fate have seized you, dragged you down [into the House of Death]!"

    11. struck down at Achilles’ hands by blazing-eyed Athena

      Book 22 of the Iliad.

    1. If the consensus emerging out of the new sciences of the human is that intentionality is supernatural in the pejorative sense, then the traditional domain of the humanities is in dire straits indeed. True or false, the issue of reductionism is irrelevant to this question.

      The big threat to humanities is not reductionism (which isn't necessarily what science says), but the death of intentionality (which is a necessary outcome of science as it's done since centuries ago).

    2. The question of the epistemological legitimacy of the humanities isn’t one of whether all theories can somehow be translated into the idiom of physics, but whether the idiom of the humanities can retain cognitive legitimacy in the wake of the ongoing biomechanical rennovation of the human. It’s not a question of ‘reducing’ old ways of making sense of things so much as a question of leaving them behind the way we’ve left so many other ‘old ways’ behind.

      The real problem is not whether humanities can explain its subject matter (certain human activities), but rather whether its subject matter would still exist in a few decades.

    1. we need to take cultural history, psychology and philosophy seriouslyin order to account for them.

      And how should we account for cultural history, psychology, and philosophy? Perhaps... with SCIENCE?

    2. Kurt Gödel.

      Don't quote Godel as a cheap rejection of scientism. Godel's Incompleteness Theorem can be avoided in practice by using weaker systems of arithmetics sufficient for physics.

    3. here are aspects of human culture in which the verynotion of ‘objective and ultimate truth’ is a category mistake.

      It is a category mistake in the first-person view, but not in the third-person view.

      In the first-person view, "Beethoven is better than Spears" is an aesthetic fact, not a natural fact. In the third-person view, "the author thinks "Beethoven is better than Spears"" is a natural fact.

    4. way that is operationally useful to the practicing scientist, we don’t know why somememes are successful and others not, and we have no clue as to the physical substrate

      We do have preliminary results. See for example experiments by Pascal Boyer testing which ideas are easier to transmit.

      Cognitive templates for religious concepts: Cross‐cultural evidence for recall of counter‐intuitive representations P Boyer, C Ramble - Cognitive Science, 2001

    5. They don’t know how to quantify them or how tostudy them. For explanatory purposes, they are vacuous.

      Be careful. This line of thought quite readily get you into rejecting Newtonian mechanics as vacuous, since we don't know how to quantify inertia except by further details of how to measure it, the details themselves involving assumptions on inertia.

      Or it might lead you to denounce "dark matter" or "miscellaneous causes not yet quantified".

    6. Hawking andKrauss need philosophy as a background condition for what they do.

      But philosophy needs science as a background condition for what they do even more.

    7. When was the last time a theoretical physicistsolved a problem in history?

      Radioactive dating solved many problems in history by precisely dating the time of an artifact.

      Charles A. Whitney, in the article "The Skies of Vincent Van Gogh," provides scientific evidence of astronomy as a means to explain the origins of Starry Night and other van Gogh night sky paintings.

    1. Ineliminable Inscrutability Scrutinized and Eliminated

      Brandom rejects two possible theories of normativity (rule-following).


      If a given performance conforms to some pre-existing pattern of performances, then we call that performance correct or competent. If it doesn’t so conform, then we call it incorrect or incompetent

      Brandom's objection: Regularists can't distinguish between what happens and what ought to happen. We don't say "gravity ought to work", so a Regularist must somehow explain why the Law of Gravity is not normative, while the Law of US is a normative.

      Everything in nature ‘follows’ the ‘rules of nature,’ the regularities isolated by the natural sciences. So what does the normativity that distinguishes human rule-following consist in?

      Regulism: rules are certain declarative sentences like "No smoking.", and rule-following is behavior that is described by the rules.

      Brandom's objection: rules can't be made entirely explicit. There must always some unsaid rule to avoid an infinite regress, like "the rule about following rules" and "the rule about the rule about following rules" etc.

      Wittgenstein said this about how the infinite regress is cut off by unspoken rules that are followed in practice.

      If I have exhausted the justifications I have reached bedrock, and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say: “This is simply what I do.”

      Thus, there is a necessary implicitness, or "blindness", in rule-following behavior. At some level, we simply follow rules without understanding.

      But then, a challenge! How is "implicit norm" even possible?

      How can a performance be nothing but a ‘blind’ reaction to a situation, not an attempt to act on interpretation?

      Unconscious rule-following is automatic, therefore not normative, much like a sneeze, or falling in gravity is not normative.

      Or is it? Perhaps we are forced to conclude that fundamentally, norms are based on mechanical, thoughtless behaviors. In this way, we can naturalize norms in a norm-less theory (such as neuroscience).

      Brandom refused this, and insists that we must then admit "nonconscious norms". He even proposes a kind of non-natural metaphysics, where non-natural normativity is baked into the metaphysics.

      But Bakker has a better idea: explain norms in a norm-less scientific theory

      The history of the social sciences is a history of emancipation from the intellectual propensity to intentionalize social phenomenon—this was very much part of the process that Weber called the disenchantment of the world. Brandom proposes to re-enchant the world by re-instating the belief in normative powers, which is to say, powers in some sense outside of and distinct from the forces known to science.

      Bakker's Blind Brain Theory

      Now Bakker begins his own philosophy, using Blind Brain Theory.

      Note how important is implicit/blindness in Wittgenstein's and Brandom's explanations of how norms work. But they never paused to consider it deeper than a simple "Such implicitness means implicit normativity exists." They then went on to consider normativity without studying further just what are implicit, and how they are implicit.

      This is a grave error. To explain normativity, we must study what are implicit and how they are implicit in the brain when people think normative thoughts and do normative actions. We must study the neglect structure of the brain, and that brings us to Blind Brain Theory.

      According to BBT, all cognition is heuristic and depends critically on the environment to play nice (that is, remain stable). Heuristic algorithms can skip many steps and come out right, as long as the environment rarely challenges it with difficult examples that exposes the error of the heuristic.

      Normative cognition is also heuristic -- what features of the human environment does it depend on?

      Wittgenstein again

      If I have exhausted the justifications I have reached bedrock, and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say: “This is simply what I do.”

      The "bedrock" is the stable normative behaviors of other humans I live with. In other words, Regularism is actually the right approach to explaining normativity.

      Brandom was wrong to reject Regularism, but to see why he was wrong, we must do some psycho-philosophy. We must understand why the human animal is psychologically prone to reject Regularism (just like how it is psychologically prone to think souls exist). It is, again, because of BBT.

      We think "This rule is normative." when some normativity-detection cognitive module is triggered. If the module keeps quiet, and we have the distinct feeling of "Wait, that's not normative...", no matter how much information processing the other modules do. And it just so happens that thinking about causes and statistical correlations cannot trigger this module.

      There are roughly two types of explanations: causal/natural and normative/supernatural. Causal/natural explanations are those step-by-step explanations that intrinsically allows you to break it down further ("how does this step work?"), push it forwards and backwards in time ("and what happened before/after?"). Normative/supernatural explanations are those brute assertions about what to do and not to do ("This is simply what I do."), accompanied with an anosognosia, a blindness to the blindness, a feeling that the assertions are sufficient with no further explanations possible ("What do you mean I must explain why it is what I do? I have explained myself sufficiently. There is nothing left to explain!")

      Since Regularism involves solving normative cognition using the resources of natural cognition, it simply follows that it fails to engage resources specific to normative cognition.

      Bakker is in no danger of self-contradiction, because the problem "how does normative cognition work?" is perfectly possible to be the kind of problem that causal cognition can solve. Sure, causal cognition can't solve all problems, but it can solve some... like "how to build a plane?" and "how the brain works?" Science works, and that shows the power of causal cognition. In contrast, nothing sophisticated like science has been built upon normative cognition. This shows that causal cognition can solve normative cognition, while normative cognition can't.

      What doesn’t follow is that normative cognition thus lies outside the problem ecology of natural cognition, let alone inside the problem ecology of normative cognition.

      In short, Brandom failed because he tried to solve normativity with normative cognition. Bakker may succeed, because he is trying to solve normativity with causal cognition. The feeling that "normativity can't be solved causally" misguided Brandom, and it is just an illusion generated by the fractured nature of cognition, described above.

      normative cognition seems unlikely to theoretically solve normative cognition in any satisfying manner. The very theoretical problems that plague Normativism—supernaturalism, underdetermination, and practical inapplicability—are the very problems we should expect if normative cognition were not in fact among the problems that normative cognition can solve.

      Here is Bakker's explanation of normative cognition, and how it leads to Brandom's mistake:

      normative cognition belongs to social cognition more generally, and that... has evolved to solve astronomically complicated biomechanical problems involving the prediction, understanding, and manipulation of other organisms absent detailed biomechanical information. Adapted to solve in the absence of this information, it stands to reason that the provision of that information, facts regarding biomechanical regularities, will render it ineffective...

      ... intentional cognition has evolved to overcome neglect, to solve problems in the absence of causal information. This is why philosophical reflection convinces us we somehow stand outside the causal order via choice or reason or what have you. We quite simply confuse an incapacity, our inability to intuit our biomechanicity, with a special capacity, our ability to somehow transcend or outrun the natural order.

    2. Blind Agents

      This section reviews Making-it-Explicit (Brandom, 1998), which was a serious attempt to explain how we explain. Brandom tried to reconcile the tension between mechanical implicit with the philosophical implicit.

      He argued that, though we can't find intentionality in the physical and biological laws of nature, we can find it in the conversations people make in a society. Intentionality is a myth that becomes real when enough people vocalize that myth when they talk to each other.

      Kinda like money, really. Pieces of paper or lumps of gold become exchangeable for goods when enough people take them as exchangeable for goods.

      To make his argument, Brandom reviewed the history of explaining how we explain.


      Kant argued that there are rules that are necessary for anyone to explain anything. For example, when we explain to someone about why the sky is blue, we assume that they are "rational", is going to "take us seriously", will interpret the words we say the same way we interpret them, etc. All these necessary rules are moral rules, which makes them immune to scientific understanding. Kant calls these moral rules "practical reason" to distinguish them from scientific understanding of the world ("pure reason").

      In this way, Kant separated a few objects (God, immortal soul, free will) from scientific understanding, and that allowed him to simply assert that they must be true because we need those concepts to do things.

      Bakker would criticize this as Kant trying to do behavioral psychology by purely thinking inside his own little head. Kant's approach is doomed because introspection is an unreliable hack meant to work only for talking with people in daily life, and we can't even understand what actually goes on inside our own heads without science.

      Kant: "We need God, immortality of the soul, and free will in order to do things."

      Bakker: "Well, time to check that claim with behavioral psychology. I bet Kant's wrong!"


      Frege argued that normative explanations are incompatible with causal explanations. If I explain why I helped you using behavioral neuroscience, I would have made a "modal mistake", since the right explanation must be normative rather than descriptive.

      Explication is an intrinsically normative activity. Making causal constraints explicit at most describes what systems will do, never prescribes what they should do.

      Since how we explain is constrained by normative things (as Kant argued), and normative things cannot be explained with descriptive statements (as Frege argued), any explanation for how we explain must be made of normative things.


      Wittgenstein argued that the implicit assumption behind every explanation is in the other people who hear the explanation. You can't be understood unless other people follow some shared rules. Telling others to follow a rule of understanding like "law of noncontradiction" only works if the other people agrees to that rule and agrees with you about how to use that rule.

      "Don't contradict with that statement you made before."
      "Why not? And did I really make a contradiction?"

      while rules can codify the pragmatic normative significance of claims, they do so only against a background of practices permitting the distinguishing of correct from incorrect applications of those rules

      Thus, an explanation of how people explaining must explain why people follow rules. This explanation "why you should follow rules" is itself a normative rule and requires normative explanation.

      "You can't say that! It's against rule X."
      "What's the problem?"
      "It's against the rule-rule to go against rule X!"
      "What's the problem?"
      "It's against the rule-rule-rule to go against rule-rule!"


      Kant proposes that we are blind to the "things in themselves", such as God, immortal souls, and free will. This blindness allows us to imagine those things as much as we like since science can't say we're wrong about them.

      Wittgenstein proposes that we, as a society of people talking to each other, are blind to the rules that support conversations with other people.

      With those philosophers, Bakker agrees that our severe blindness is what gives rise to the properties of consciousness, but insists that consciousness can be fully described by science, explaining away all normative statements in the process.

    3. “But of reason one cannot say that before the state in which it determines the power of choice, another state precedes in which this state itself is determined. For since reason itself is not an appearance and is not subject at all to any conditions of sensibility, no temporal sequence takes place in it even as to its causality, and thus the dynamical law of nature, which determines the temporal sequence according to rules, cannot be applied to it

      "Reason is not causal. The state of my thought now is not determined by anything before. Reason is invisible, inaudible, not measurable, completely insensible. Reason has no causality. Reason has no physics. Reason is... indeed, completely supernatural and unphysical."

    4. the natural necessity whose recognition is implicit in cognitive or theoretical activity, and the moral necessity whose recognition is implicit in practical activity, as species of one genus

      Kant proposed that we can't help but think about things in space and time, and can't help but do things for right and wrong. These two kinds of "can't help but" are the same kind: they are both caused by our biological constraints.

    5. the Pool of Shiloam

      In John 9, Jesus meets a man born blind. To show that He is indeed the “light of the world” (John 9:5), Jesus heals the man. “He spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (this word means ‘Sent’). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing”

    1. liberal democratic states have retreated from the ‘meaning game,’ 

      Liberal democracy is distinguished from all previous prevalent political systems (monarchy, dictatorship, Roman republic...) in that it attempts to stay as agnostic as possible about "What is the good life for a person?"

      Liberal democracy basically says, "You do you. Don't hurt others. Otherwise do whatever you want, or not. We don't care. We are not allowed to care. It would be intrusive of us! We are not going to tell you what's the meaning of life, or what is good, or what is valuable."

      Even the First French Republic had a state religion (although they called it "Cult of Reason"). Modern republics don't even have a state religion anymore.

    2. The breakdown of traditional solidarity under the reflective scrutiny of the Enlightenment

      The Enlightenment is the start of rational reflective criticism: people started to ask "Why do we do what we do?" and found many of their traditions stupid, unreasonable, unbelievable. They can't hold on to these traditions anymore.

      The traditions used to hold people together and make them agree on "what's the good life?" Now it can't.

    3. Despite the florid diversity of answers to the Question of Meaning, they tend to display a remarkable degree of structural convergence.

      Humans confabulate all kinds of rationalizations to their urges, but their urges are basically the same, since they are all human animals descended from a common evolutionary history.

      For example, religions have wildly different theologies (rationalization), but basically the same sanctioned behaviors (moral urges).

    1. into forms than are progressively more baroque and revisionary is something you find in pretty much all genres of artistic expression

      This has similarities with Alexander Goldenweiser's analysis of primitive art:

      involution is described as an in- herent tendency in "primitive" art towards complexity, elaboration, and repetitiousness- the "earmarks of involution".

      However, modern art involutes away from repetitiousness.

    1. Summary:

      Metaphysical philosophers who want to figure out how we know (epistemology) and what we are (ontology) are like astronomers who want to figure out what the universe is like.

      Dogmatic philosophers were like medieval astronomers who learn about the heavens strictly by reading old books.

      Kant and other continental philosophers were like astronomers with visual anosognosia.

      Bryant is like a visual anosognosiac who smashes telescopes and cyborg eyes.

      What they need is SCIENCE.

      They are both stuck. Kant and continental philosophers are stuck with "correlationalism", while the others (such as the OOO) are stuck with "anticorrelationalism". One starts with the subject, the other starts with the object.

      They are both wrong because the subject-object dichotomy is wrong. It is just a cartoon, a heuristic, a result of how the brain works. See Blind Brain Theory.

    2. the ‘out-of-play’ illusion, the sense that the earth is the motionless centre of the universe on the one hand, and the sense that transcendental activity stands outside the circuit of nature, on the other.

      Bakker invented the term "out-of-play illusion" here.

      He means the illusion that "If there is no conscious information about how something can differ over time, then that thing is automatically considered to be static, timeless, motionless, etc."

    3. the problems besetting dogmatic philosophy provided Kant the information required to attribute activity to various aspects of subjective cognition and nothing more. The reason Kant’s Copernican analogy takes the peculiar, Ptolemaic form it does has to do with the way metacognitive neglect combined with the illusion of sufficiency forces him to locate the activities he attributes beyond the circuit of nature–to characterize them as ‘transcendental.’ Thus, lacking the information required to differentially situate these activities, they seem to reside nowhere. The conceptual activity of the subject finds itself nested within the empirically occluded and therefore apparently ‘motionless’ frame of transcendental subjectivity. And this is how Kant, in the act of prosecuting his Copernican revolution, simultaneously achieves a Ptolemaic restoration.

      Dogmatic philosophy: start with metaphysical dogmas. Can't find theoretical knowledge.

      Kant: dogmatic philosophy is wrong.

      • How to explain their failure?
      • The knower can't be a passive receiver. The knower must make some "conceptual activity".
      • <del>But where is the knower doing the conceptual activity?</del> [Kant couldn't have asked the question because of the illusion of sufficiency. The question never even occurred to him.]
      • The conceptual activity is clearly not material, therefore I call it "transcendental".

      Russell: The "transcendental realm"? Sounds immovable to me! How could it move? The transcendental realm isn't even spatial!

    4. the ‘peculiar fate’ of reason, how, as Kant notes at the beginning of his first Preface to the original Critique, “it is burdened by questions which, as prescribed by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also not able to answer”

      Human reason has the peculiar fate in one species of its cognitions [metaphysics] that it is burdened with questions which it cannot dismiss, since they are given to it as problems by the nature of reason itself, but which it also cannot answer, since they transcend every capacity of human reason.

    5. the troubling nature of dissociations such as that found in ‘pain asymbolia.’

      Weird disorders like "pain asymbolia" would not be weird if we have some intuitive understanding about how our minds are made. Our intuitive understanding of our own mind says that the mind is whole and free, and such odd behaviors like pain asymbolia and tumor-induced-psychopathy are quite literally unimaginable by our intuitive theory of mind.

      If our introspection gives us some "flags" that notify us that our understanding of our own minds is incomplete, then we would be less puzzled. The utter puzzlement comes from the simultaneous conviction that our intuitive Theory of Mind is sufficient and the odd disorders demonstrating that our intuitive ToM cannot be sufficient.

      The cognitive illusion of sufficiency meets the material reality of insufficiency.

    6. some researchers now advocate dispensing with the traditional notion of memory altogether.

      I'm unable to find any prominent researcher advocating this position, but perhaps:

      Does memory encoding exist? (Tulving, 2001)

    7. the aviary Plato immortalized in the Theaetetus

      Socrates invites us to think of the mind as an aviary full of birds of all sorts. The owner possesses them, in the sense that he has the ability to enter the aviary and catch them, but does not have them, unless he literally has them in his hands. The birds are pieces of knowledge, to hand them over to someone else is to teach, to stock the aviary is to learn, to catch a particular bird is to remember a thing once learned and thus potentially known. The possibility of false judgment emerges when one enters the aviary in order to catch, say, a pigeon but instead catches, say, a ring-dove.

    8. And so Kant, lacking information regarding the insufficiency of his interpretations, information that only became available as the array of viable alternatives became ever more florid, assumed sufficiency, that is, the apodictic status of his ‘transcendental deductions.’

      Kant's philosophy seemed necessarily true because Kant had philosophical anosognosia. He was blind to the alternative ways to interpret the feelings. He was also blind to this blindness.

      Kant's philosophy is based on a rational analysis of the feelings, like sight and sound. After intense introspection, Kant believed that all feelings inherently has dimensions of space and time, therefore space and time are constructed by his subjective self, even if the objects don't have space or time.

    9. Why does ignorance of alternatives generate the illusion of univocality? Or conversely, why does the piling on of interpretations tend to undermine the plausibility of novel interpretations?

      Kant was the first critical philosopher, and that meant that when he did his work, he felt like he was doing the one true critical philosophy.

      As the years went on, more critical philosophies appeared, and now we can't take any philosophy as seriously as Kant took his own philosophy.

      The question is then, why does a philosophy, an interpretation, and similar things, feel sufficient, until someone produces some alternative interpretation and wake up from our trance of sufficiency? Why do ideas sound so great in our own mouths until someone raises questions about it?

      Bakker's theory may be compared with that of Mercier, Hugo, and Dan Sperber, The Enigma of Reason (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2017)

    10. Why is it that both the astronomical and the metaphysical tradition initially assumed the immobility of the earth and the inactivity of the subject respectively? Why should, in other words, immobility or inactivity be the default, the intuition to be overcome?

      Humans have intuitive physics: things tend to fall to the ground and stay put, unless you kick it. Motion is absolute (contradicting Newtonian physics), and some things are moving (like the sun), others aren't (like the earth).

      Humans also have intuitive meta-physics: the subject is passively a receiver of true information about the outside world.

      Both of these should be explainable by neuroscience.

    11. If it is the case that the sciences more or less monopolize theoretical cognition, then the most reasonable way for reason to critique reason is via the sciences. The problem confronting Kant, however, was nothing less than the problem confronting all inquiries into cognition until very recently: the technical and theoretical intractability of the brain. So Kant was forced to rely on theoretical reason absent the methodologies of natural science. In other words, he was forced to conceive critique as more philosophy, and this presumably, is why his project ultimately failed.

      Kant wanted to study reason, just like how scientists of his time studied the stars and the heat engines. Kant, unfortunately, had no neuroscience instruments, so he was forced to rely mainly on introspection and philosophy -- not science.

      So his study of reason was unscientific, which is why it failed.

    12. When it comes to the problems of critical philosophy, Bryant would have you focus on the ‘critical’ and to overlook the ‘philosophy.’ What precisely failed when it came to critical philosophy? Given the manner it seeks to redress the failure of dogmatic philosophy, the more obvious answer (by far one would think) is philosophy.

      Critical philosophy failed. Bryant and the OOO philosophers in general want to do dogmatic philosophy. They will fail too, because humans can't do philosophy well.

      Critical philosophy failed, not because it's critical, but because it's philosophy.

    13. let’s call ‘correlativism’ the idea according to which philosophy can only ever prioritize either subject or object and never any term other than these two. Why has correlativism so dominated philosophy since its Modern inception? I actually think I can give a naturalistic answer to this question.

      Bakker proposes a neuroscientific explanation for why human philosophers are stuck with the two positions of subject first (like Kant and Heidegger) and object first (like those before Kant, and those OOO philosophers).

    14. Since there can be no difference without the negation of some prior identity, for instance, perhaps we should choose identity–snub Heraclitus and do a few rails with Parmenides. Can counterarguments be adduced against the ontological primacy of identity? Of course they can (and Bryant helps himself to a few), just as counterarguments can be adduced against those counterarguments, and so on and so on. In other words, if critical philosophy is motivated by the failure of dogmatic philosophy to produce theoretical knowledge, and if Bryant’s neo-dogmatic philosophy is motivated by the failure of critical philosophy to produce theoretical knowledge, then perhaps we should skip the ‘and centuries passed’ part, assume the failure of neo-dogmatism to produce theoretical knowledge and, crossing our fingers, simply leap straight into neo-critical philosophy.

      This is an extended joke, just like metaphysics.

      But there is a way out of this joke, and it requires a bit of psycho-philosophy.

    15. dokein and krinein

      dokein: to think,

      krinein: to judge, decide, select

    16. As such, there can be no question of securing the grounds of knowledge in advance or prior to an actual engagement with difference. 265 To which the reader might be tempted to ask, How do you know?

      Kant: Epistemology before ontology, because we need to think right before we can know stuffs.

      Bryant: Ontology before epistemology, because we are made of stuff, and we can't think right if we aren't thinking in the way appropriate to the stuff we are made of.

      The reader: How did you know that?

    17. given the failure of three centuries of critical philosophy to produce theoretical knowledge, perhaps the time has come to embrace, as best we can, the two millennia of dogmatic failure that preceded it.

      Western philosophy went like this:

      • Before Kant, philosophy was done dogmatically, founded on unquestioned assumptions (such as "God exists" "reality remains even if we don't sense it"). This philosophy failed to produce knowledge (unlike the technologists, who produced lots of knowledge).
      • Kant critiqued all of philosophy's foundations, and built up a new foundation that (he thought) passed his harsh critique. This philosophy failed to produce knowledge (unlike the technologists, who produced lots of knowledge).
      • Now, OOO wants to do some dogmatic philosophy again, this time by devising new and exciting ontologies ("speculative realism"). Maybe everything can think. Maybe nothing can and even humans are just zombies. Maybe... Maybe this time they could produce knowledge.
    1. Is it our ‘manifest understanding of ourselves’ that ‘motivates us,’ and so makes the scientific enterprise possible?

      I have, in fact, tried to write an essay explaining how I come to write the essay without using any concept of intentionality. I failed, but perhaps Bakker can succeed.

    1. I’m so suspicious of the ongoing ‘materialist turn’ in Continental philosophy, why I see it more as a crypto-apologetic attempt to rescue traditional conceptual conceits than any genuine turn away from ‘experience.’

      This is like Kant's project: apparently he was using rational critique, but he was secretly an apologist protecting God, morality, and other traditionally valued things from rational critique.

    1. The thing is, every phenomenologist, whether they know it or not, is actually part of a vast, informal heterophenomenological experiment. The very systematicity of conscious access reports made regarding phenomenality via the phenomenological attitude is what makes them so interesting. Why do they orbit around the same sets of structures the way they do? Why do they lend themselves to reasoned argumentation? Zahavi wants you to think that his answer—because they track some kind of transcendental reality—is the only game in town, and thus the clear inference to the best explanation.

      Bakker is like an anthropologist visiting a tribe of humans who talk about ghosts. Bakker takes the tribe of Phenomenologists seriously, but not literally. Bakker is going to explain why they are spontaneously seeing ghosts in similar ways, while rejecting the Phenomenologists' own explanation: "Ghosts are real.".

    2. So if generalizing from first-person phenomena proved impossible because of third-person inaccessibility—because genuine first person data were simply too difficult to come by—why should we think those phenomena can nevertheless anchor a priori claims once phenomenologically construed

      First-person phenomena, like my seeing of an orange, cannot be recorded, reproduced, or even replicated by another person, or even replicated by myself.

      In short, first-person phenomena are extremely un-generalizable. How could we then bake phenomenology -- a general theory of consciousness -- from something so ungeneral?

    3. We are led back to these perceptions in all questions regarding origins, but they themselves exclude any further question as to origin. It is clear that the much-talked-of certainty of internal perception, the evidence of the cogito, would lose all meaning and significance if we excluded temporal extension from the sphere of self-evidence and true givenness.

      Let's play the game of "But why?"

      • The sun is hot.
      • But why?
      • Because I feel hot on my skin when it's sunny.
      • But why is it sunny?
      • Because I see a bright orange ball in the sky.

      we always end up with talks of simple perceptions. Simple perceptions are those that do not allow us to ask "But why?" further:

      • I feel hot on my skin.
      • But why?
      • I feel hot on my skin! There's no need to explain! It's self-evident and given to me, and I don't need to justify it! Nor can I possibly justify it! There is no way to justify what is given to me!

      Husserl claims that "some time passed" is also a simple perception, given to us, self-evident, and cannot be questioned further.

    1. speak of beetles

      "beetle" is a metaphor for spooky, mysterious things (like "free will") that science cannot explain, but must exist according to introspection.

    2. he flat out equivocates the concrete mechanistic threat—the way the complexities of technology are transforming the complexities of life into more technology—with the abstract philosophical problem of determinism

      Even if determinism is false, free will is still not safe, because randomness (imagine a dice-machine in the brain) is also not free will.

      Furthermore, psychological experiments and technologies that mess with the brain are here NOW, and these philosophies completely ignore these.

    3. our manifest inability to arbitrate ontological claim-making.

      The history of philosophy gave us many ontologies, from idealism to materialism to dualism to solipsism to...

      and there has not been a single one that's conclusively rejected.

    4. We are mechanically embedded in our environments in such a way that we cannot cognize ourselves as so embedded, and so are forced to cognize ourselves otherwise, acausally, relying on heuristics that theoretical reflection transforms into rules, goals, and reasons

      Robots need to consider their choices and decide which of them leads to the most favorable situation. In doing this, the robot considers a system in which its own outputs are regarded as free variables, i.e. it doesn’t consider the process by which it is deciding what to do. The perception of having choices is also what humans con- sider as free will.

      John McCarthy 2000, Concepts of Logical AI

    5. not only think that ontological claims merit serious attention in the sciences, but that the threat posed is merely ideological and not material

      Philosophically, ontology comes before neuroscience.

      But scientifically, neuroscience comes before ontology.

      Philosophers trust in the first direction, ignoring the second direction. They think that any ontological dispute is resolvable by ontological disputes (and perhaps some political and ethical disputes, just to spice things up), and no brain science is needed. They are wrong.

    6. not only should we expect theoretical reflection to be blind, we should also expect it to be blind to its own blindness.
      • "I don't know... How reliable is that?"
      • "You don't need to know."
      • "But..."
      • "Stop wasting your energy on that." [applies brain modifier]
      • "Well now I know EVERYTHING that I need to know! Everything I don't know is derivable from them!"
    7. If we don’t possess the metacognitive capacity to track the duration of suffering, why should we expect theoretical reflection to possess the access and capacity to theoretically cognize the truth of experience otherwise

      Our introspection is so bad that we can't even introspect the duration of pain. How do we expect that we can introspect other, less visceral aspects like... thinking, consciousness, and such?

      Introspection is likely radically unreliable.

    1. naturalizing the Ontological Difference, explaining what it is that Heidegger was pursuing in, believe it or not, empirical terms. Heidegger, of course, would argue that this must be yet another example of putting the ontic cart in front of the ontological horse, but I’ve long since lost faith in the ability of rank speculation to ‘ground’ anything, let alone the sum of scientific knowledge. I would much rather risk crossing my ontological wires and use the derivative to explain the fundamental than risk crossing my epistemic wires and use the dubious to ‘ground’ the reliable.

      Bakker proposes to construct the Ontological Difference (a concept in ontology) with Neuroscience (a theory of certain ontic things). This is a circular construction, since ontic things are defined using the ontology.

      But it's the best we could do, since directly constructing ontology without ontic concepts gave us unreadable crap like Heidegger's later books. Humans are just too bad at finding general truths through any route except science.

    2. the inclination to think being in terms of beings, and the faulty application of what might be called ‘thing logic’ to things that are not things at all and so require a different logic or inferential scheme altogether

      Heidegger says there is a category mistake (a type error).

      being: Ontological

      table, chair, atom: Ontic

      Therefore, reasoning about being like we reason about tables and chairs is likely wrong.

      Ontological Difference Error: 'being' is not an instance of type 'Ontic'

    3. “The question of being thus aims at an a priori condition of the possibility not only of the sciences which investigate beings of such and such a type–and are thereby already involved in an understanding of being; but it aims also at the condition of the possibility of the ontologies which precede the ontic sciences and found them. All ontology, no matter how rich and tightly knit a system of categories it has at its disposal, remains fundamentally blind and perverts its innermost intent if it has not previously clarified the meaning of being sufficiently and grasped its this clarification as its fundamental task.” (9, Stambaugh translation)

      There are two kinds of things: being and beings.

      being is an ontological entity. It is existence itself.

      beings are ontic entities. They are things like chairs and atoms and electrons.

      Any theory of beings is based on some (unspoken) theory about being itself.

    4. Waving away the skeptical challenges posed by Hume and Wittgenstein with their magic wand, they transport the reader back to the happy days when philosophers could still reason their way to ultimate reality, and call it ‘giving the object its due’–which is to say, humility.

      Hume and Wittgenstein challenged correlationalism, but some modern continental philosophers are out to save it. They call it "giving the object its due".

      R S Bakker thinks their arguments are mistaken, and even correlationalism is mistaken, merely "spooky knowledge at a distance".

    5. There’s an ancient tradition among philosophers, one as venal as it is venerable, of attributing universal discursive  significance to some specific conceptual default assumption. So in contemporary Continental philosophy, for instance, the new ‘It Concept’ is something called ‘correlation,’ the assumption that the limits posed by our particular capacities and contexts prevent knowledge of the in-itself, (or as I like to call it, spooky knowledge-at-a-distance).

      Discursive: relating to knowledge obtained by reason and argument rather than intuition.

      Many philosophers say that there is one ur-assumption, foundational assumption, upon which most of what people talk about is founded, but itself is left unreflected upon. People don't explicitly argue for it, even if they depend on it.

      For contemporary continental philosophers, that ur-assumption is correlationalism, and they are either out to challenge that assumption, or to argue that that ur-assumption is true.

    6. The brain is the being that is being.

      The brain is the ontic thing that generates ontology. Neuroscience (the study of the brain) is the necessary and sufficient foundation for ontology.

    7. Can ontology be grounded ontologically,” Heidegger writes at the end of Being and Time, “or does it also need for this an ontic foundation, and which being must take over the function of this foundation

      Can you do ontology using only words that refer to ontological things, and NOT to ontic things?

      Or is it necessary to refer to ontic things when you do ontology? If so, what ontic things must you refer to?

  4. Nov 2021
    1. The experiences themselves are, so to speak, invisible to the introspective scanner.  We come to have knowledge of them (that we have them) without ever being made aware of them.  At least we are not made aware of them, as we are of beer bottles, as objects having properties that serve to identify them.

      Bill Lycan claimed that, even if introspection is a possible kind of perception, it is still pretty weird. If I introspect "I see apple", the only perception is .

      Roughly, the reason is that, while external objects, like apples, has perceptible properties like color, reflectivity, taste... the inner objects, like "the awareness of "apple"", cannot have any property.

      To introspect, then, is like looking at the sky, and suddenly God directly sends a thought "I see God" into your head by an invisible beam.

    2. I don't see myself see an ant. The only sense in which I am aware of myself seeing an ant is in the sense of being aware that I see an ant, but this, the awareness of the fact that I see an ant, is not my way of finding out I see an ant.

      It's impossible to directly perceive "I see an ant". It is only possible to directly perceive "ant". It is also possible to directly jump to conclusion (illogically) that "I see an ant".

      In short, perceiving "I see X" by direct introspection is impossible. What we claim to be direct introspection is really just jumping from a direct perception "X" to an illogical conclusion "I see X", then pretending that this knowledge is gained by direct introspection.

      To see the weirdness, here's an analogy:

      1. a direct perception "she is dead"
      2. an illogical conclusion "I caused she to be dead"
      3. an even more illogical claim "I knew that by direct introspection"
    3. Crocks are, by (my) stipulative definition, rocks you (not just anyone, but you in particular) see, rocks that, therefore, you are (visually) aware of.

      This reminds me of Hrönir from Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.

    4. It may turn out that what we are aware of, what we feel, when we are in pain or thirsty are things of a sort that also occur in zombies.  Zombies just aren't aware of them.

      It may turn out that these "subjective" perceptions -- hallucinations, hunger, pain, itch, etc -- are secretly objective.

      Maybe a hallucination is really a veridical perception of some eye-brain-phenomenon. Then the meaning of a hallucination is just as objective as a sight of an apple. Then, the hallucination cannot allow me to deduce that I'm not a zombie.

    5. If you know you are not a zombie, the fact that you are not a zombie, the fact that you are actually conscious of things, is not how you know it.

      So, we have

      naive realism + empiricism + I am not a zombie \(\not\to\) I know I am not a zombie

    6. These sources of information about the conscious self, however, supply information about the embodied self, the vehicle of consciousness, not information about its consciousness.  Zombies, after all, have bodies too.  They move around.  They lose their balance.  A zombie's arms and legs, just like ours, occupy positions. Their muscles get fatigued (zombies are not exceptions to the laws of thermodynamics).  So the conditions we receive information about in proprioception, just like the conditions we receive information about in exteroception, do not indicate that we are not a zombie.

      Perceptions about my body is also objective:

      • My leg muscles are distended and hot from exertion.
      • My leg muscles and their states are objective.
      • I can't deduce I'm not a zombie from perception of my leg muscles.
    7. What makes us so different from zombies are not the things (objects, facts, properties) we are aware of but our awareness of them, but this, our awareness of things, is not something we are, at least not in perceptual experience, aware of.

      When we are not very introspective, and under normal perception conditions, we only perceive objective things (things that are independent of perception). In this situation, we cannot derive that someone is doing the perceiving, because:

      • Apple exists
      • Apple is objective.
      • If I am a zombie, apple still exists, because apple is objective.
      • I might be a zombie.
    8. What you see--beer in the fridge--doesn't tell you that you see it, and what you think--that there is beer in the fridge--doesn't tell you that you think it either.


      • X \(\not \to\) I think "I think X"
      • I think "X" \(\not \to\) I think "I think X"
    9. Perceptual experiences (we hope) carry information about what you are aware of but this is quite different from carrying the information that you are aware of it.

      The sight of an apple is an experience. The experience indicates that there is an apple. However, it doesn't necessarily indicate that there is someone experiencing the experience.

    10. In having perceptual experience, then, nothing distinguishes your world, the world you experience, from a zombie's.  This being so, what is it about this world that tells you that, unlike a zombie, you experience it?  What is it you are aware of that indicates you are aware of it?

      When I'm perceiving the world normally, everything I perceive is objective. They exist even if I were not perceiving them.

      So I think:

      • Apple exists.
      • If I am a zombie, then apple exists.
      • If I am not a zombie, then apple exists.
      • So I can't deduce from "Apple exists" to "I am not a zombie".
    11. Perception of your son may involve mental representations, but, if it does, the perception is not secured, as it is with objects seen on television, by awareness of these intermediate representations

      In the brain, there is a representation of "sight of son" but not a representation of "representation of "sight of son""

    1. Cynthia, the mistress of Propertius

      Sextus Propertius, (born 55–43 bce, Assisi, Umbria [Italy]—died after 16 bce, Rome), greatest elegiac poet of ancient Rome. The first of his four books of elegies, published in 29 bce, is called Cynthia after its heroine (his mistress, whose real name was Hostia).

    2. beryl

      Beryl, mineral composed of beryllium aluminum silicate, Be3Al2(SiO3)6, a commercial source of beryllium. It has long been of interest because several varieties are valued as gemstones. These are aquamarine (pale blue-green); emerald (deep green); heliodor (golden yellow); and morganite (pink).

    3. αγκων

      Ancient Greek: ἀγκών • (ankṓn)

      1. ankle
      2. nook, corner, angle of the wall
      3. bend or meander of a river
      4. headlands which form a bay
      5. ribs which support the horns of the cithara
      6. kind of vase
    4. Gammadims

      This word occurs only in (Ezekiel 27:11) A variety of explanations of the term have been offered.

      1. One class renders it "pygmies."
      2. A second treats it as a geographical or local term.
      3. A third gives a more general sense to the word "brave warriors." Hitzig suggests "deserters." After all, the rendering in the LXX. --"guards"-- furnishes the simplest explanation.
    5. conquest of Agricola

      Gnaeus Julius Agricola, (born June 13, 40 ce, Forum Julii, Gallia Narbonensis—died August 23, 93), Roman general celebrated for his conquests in Britain.

    6. Boadicea, his queen, fought the last decisive battle with Paulinus

      Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was a Roman general best known as the commander who defeated the rebellion of Boudica.

    7. Prasutagus bequeathed his kingdom unto Nero and his daughters

      Prasutagus was king of a British Celtic tribe called the Iceni, who inhabited roughly what is now Norfolk, in the 1st century AD. He is best known as the husband of Boudica.

      As an ally of Rome his tribe were allowed to remain nominally independent, and to ensure this Prasutagus named the Roman emperor as co-heir to his kingdom, along with his two daughters. Tacitus says he lived a long and prosperous life, but when he died, the Romans ignored his will and took over, depriving the nobles of their lands and plundering the kingdom. Boudica was flogged and her daughters raped.

      Because of this, Boudica led an Iceni uprising in 60.

      Nero is a Roman emperor, reigned from 54 to 68.

    8. the Roman lieutenant Ostorius

      Publius Ostorius Scapula (died 52) was a Roman statesman and general who governed Britain from 47 until his death.

      In the winter of 47 he was appointed the second governor of Roman Britain by the emperor Claudius. The Iceni, a tribe based in Norfolk who had not been conquered but allied themselves with the Romans voluntarily, led neighbouring tribes in an uprising. Ostorius defeated them by storming a hill fort in a hard-fought battle. The Iceni remained independent.

    9. the Iceni

      Iceni, in ancient Britain, a tribe that occupied the territory of present-day Norfolk and Suffolk and, under its queen Boudicca (Boadicea), revolted against Roman rule.

    10. Claudius, Vespasian, and Severus

      Roman emperors

      1. Claudius: 41 to 54
      2. Vespasian: 69 to 79
      3. Severus: 193 to 211.
    11. the Saxon invasions

      In the middle of the 5th century the Anglo-Saxons, Germanic tribes, invaded Britain. The Anglo-Saxon conquest is regarded as the beginning of medieval history in Britain. The Anglo-Saxons were the ancestors of the English. As a result of the conquest they formed the majority of the population in Britain.

    12. Dalmatian horsemen

      The equites Dalmatae were a class of cavalry in the Late Roman army. They were one of several categories of cavalry unit or vexillatio created between the 260s and 290s as part of a reorganization and expansion of Roman cavalry forces.

    13. Brancaster, set down by ancient record under the name of Branodunum

      Brancaster is a village and civil parish on the north coast of the English county of Norfolk.

      Branodunum was an ancient Roman fort to the east of the modern English village of Brancaster in Norfolk. Its Roman name derives from the local Celtic language, and may mean "fort of the raven".

      It is a part of the Saxon shore defense system.

    14. military charge of the count of the Saxon shore

      The Saxon Shore (Latin: litus Saxonicum) was a military command of the late Roman Empire, consisting of a series of fortifications on both sides of the Channel. It was established in the late 3rd century and was led by the "Count of the Saxon Shore". In the late 4th century, his functions were limited to Britain, while the fortifications in Gaul were established as separate commands. Several Saxon Shore forts survive in east and south-east England.

    15. æra


    16. manes

      Manes - Wikipedia

      In ancient Roman religion, the Manes or Di Manes are chthonic deities sometimes thought to represent souls of deceased loved ones. They belonged broadly to the category of di inferi, "those who dwell below," the undifferentiated collective of divine dead.

      The Manes were offered blood sacrifices. The gladiatorial games, originally held at funerals, may have been instituted in the honor of the Manes.

    17. ustrina

      In ancient Roman funerals, an ustrinum was the site of a cremation funeral pyre whose ashes were removed for interment elsewhere. The ancient Greek equivalent was a καύστρα. Ustrina could be used many times. A single-use cremation site that also functioned as a tomb was a bustum.

    18. Hominum infinita multitudo est, creberrimaque; ædificia ferè Gallicis consimilia

      The population is innumerable; the farm-buildings are found very close together, being very like those of the Gauls.

    19. Cæs. de Bello Gal

      Commentarii de Bello Gallico, also Bellum Gallicum, is Julius Caesar's firsthand account of the Gallic Wars, written as a third-person narrative. In it Caesar describes the battles and intrigues that took place in the nine years he spent fighting the Celtic and Germanic peoples in Gaul that opposed Roman conquest.

    20. Dr. Thomas Witherly of Walsingham

      Thomas Witherley - Wikipedia

      Sir Thomas Witherley, M.D., b.21 Aug 1618 d.23 March 1693-4, was a doctor of medicine of Cambridge of 1655, and was elected an Honorary Fellow of the College of Physicians in December, 1644 [1664]. On the 9th April, 1677, being then physician in ordinary to the king, he was admitted a Fellow, and was named an Elect 21st January, 1678-9. He was Censor in 1683; President, 1684, 1685, 1686, 1687; and Consiliarius, 1688 and 1692. Sir Thomas Witherley died 23rd March, 1693-4.

      found at Cambridge college alumni search

      Thomas WITHERLEY
      Approx. lifespan: 1616–1693
      Adm. sizar at Gonville & Caius College 1634:04:30
      s. of William WITHERLEY gent.
      b. 1618:08:21 in the parish of St Peter, Burlingham, Norfolk ,
      School, in parish of St Stephen, (? Norwich, [Norfolk], )
      Matric. 1634
      Scholar 1635-38
      B.A. 1637/8
      M.A. 1641
      M.D. 1655
      Probably Master of Sch: Holt Grammar School Holt, Norfolk , 1640-44
      Hon. Fellow, R.C.P. 1644 ; Fellow 1677 ; Censor 1683 ; President 1684-87 ; Consiliarius 1688, and 1692
      Second physician to James II.
      m. Anne GEE at Little Walsingham, [Norfolk], 1655/6:02:03
      Referred to by Sir Thomas Browne in Urn Burial as 'my worthy friend, Dr Thomas WITHERLEY of Walsingham, [Norfolk], .'
      d. 1693/4:03:23
      Will, P.C.C.
      father of Hammond WITHERLEY (1670)
      father of Thomas WITHERLEY (1672)
      ( Venn I. 312)
    21. brasen nippers

      brazen nippers: tools for nipping (aka pliers), made of brass

    22. answering

      "To correspond to; to be in harmony with; to be in agreement with."

    23. Old Walsingham

      Walsingham, area in North Norfolk district, Norfolk, England.

    1.     Many things have been said to be "given": sense contents, material objects, universals, propositions, real connections, first principles, even givenness itself. And there is, indeed, a certain way of construing the situations which philosophers analyze in these terms which can be said to be the framework of givenness. This framework has been a common feature of most of the major systems of philosophy, including, to use a Kantian turn of phrase, both "dogmatic rationalism" and "skeptical empiricism". It has, indeed, been so pervasive that few, if any, philosophers have been altogether free of it; certainly not Kant, and, I would argue, not even Hegel, that great foe of "immediacy". Often what is attacked under its name are only specific varieties of "given." Intuited first principles and synthetic necessary connections were the first to come under attack. And many who today attack "the whole idea of givenness" -- and they are an increasing number -- are really only attacking sense data. For they transfer to other items, say physical objects or relations of appearing, the characteristic features of the "given." If, however, I begin my argument with an attack on sense-datum theories, it is only as a first step in a general critique of the entire framework of givenness.
      • Many things have been said to be "given"
        • sense contents, material objects, universals, propositions, real connections, first principles, even givenness itself.
      • For any situation
        • which philosophers analyze
          • in terms of sense contents, material objects, universals, propositions, real connections...
        • you can explain it in the framework of givenness.
      • This framework of giveness has been a common feature of the major systems of philosophy,
        • including, "dogmatic rationalism" and "skeptical empiricism".
      • Few philosophers have been free of it;
        • certainly not Kant,
        • and not even Hegel, who attacked "immediacy".
      • Often when one attacks "given", one merely attacks certain kinds of things as not "given".
        • Examples of such kinds of things
          • intuited first principles
          • synthetic necessary connections
      • These attacks do not attack "given" itself.
      • Some say they attack "the whole idea of givenness", but they are really only attacking sense data.
      • They don't really attack "given", because they argue that some things are still "given".
        • For example, physical objects, or relations of appearing.
        • They don't say these things are "given", but they give them all the characteristics of "given". If it walks and quacks like a duck, it is a duck!
      • I will really attack "given" itself.
      • I begin my attack with an attack on sense-datum theories.