Vincent Gaulin on Mon, 21 Oct 2019 03:07:39 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Some open questions.. some leading questions

Frederic's point certainly rings true to me:

>"A linguistic _expression_ can be an adequate approximation of reality for a specified context and a specified purpose."
especially as he points out that the scientific/Western Enlightenment episteme has been significantly hamperred by the low hanging fruit of variables that are easy to isolate. 

I think acknowledgement of context (especially retracing the limits of our own bounded knowledge) builds respect across societies AND species. However, this is mostly a one sided endeavor that isn’t the same as building political organization. Nonetheless, respect requires an ethic of accreditation sensitive to contexts that are differently located either geographically and/or approximate to specific apparatuses--be they physical (as in hardware), programmatic (as in software), or cultural (as in institutions). Looking across contextual boundaries, what we perceive as nonsense may stem from differences in local familiarity, rather than complete (epistemological) breakdown. In this sense, one man’s order is another man’s chaos, or if we follow Frederic’s tip, oftentimes localized languages don’t easily translate. 

I think the epistemological crisis that David references has to do with a resurgent poverty in the West. In terms of physical depravity? In many cases yes, but most especially in degree of systematic (dis)empowerment. Inequality is so bad that only the highest elites have the power to impact the economy on a human scale—such as “I am going to work (on the economy) today, in a way that is directly advantageous to me--much less and my society or ecosystem. The tools of economy building have become increasingly abstract. Without tools in hand to build our own resources more concretely, the contexts that define differing figures of speech become increasingly arbitrary and hollow—enter the identitariate, the punditry, and all their beloved reverse syllogisms. 

The reality of modernity is that no place, technos, or institution has been spared the heavy hand of capitalist expansion. In order for a knowledge democracy to exist it will need to do more than provide for better public information, it will also have to rally the resources needed to put economy-building in the hands of ordinary people. Outside of the commercial options, are we at a point where we can take hold of our own standards of living?

A while back, I posed a question on here:  Where does the surplus exist? Brian, I think, mistakenly thought I was asking "is surplus real?", after which he pointed to all the waste in the current retail system. What I was trying to ask is, what are the sites/locations that actually provision our societies? Can we locate the places and knowledge (new and old) that offer real "developments", aka build populace-wide standards of living increases? We should begin our political negotiating and/or occupations from there, respecting the folks that already occupy those activities and rewarding them for their protracted diligence. Without a liberated supply chain, there will be no liberation. The ingenuity that it will take to break down the state violence regimes that currently command the globe must build off the lowly places where sustenance and surplus live closely together.

Relating it to David's questioning, a knowledge democracy is useless without a deeply empowered populace. The depletion of collective provisions by privatization and the consolidation of anti-democratic corporate powers keep us from (re)working the system. A true break through (or BREAK UP!) requires both the conservative administration of "bread and butter" processes (a massive living library of beneficial tasks) as well as experiments for accelerating increased standards of living, deep and wide across the globe and with responsibility to global ecosystems. We have to redefine conservatism more positively around activities that actually impact folks' immediate circumstances (like food and shelter production). A movement such as this can be as radically modernist-futurist as it is traditionalist, but importantly, the conservative edge would gain respect from those who are already overworked.

Getting folks back on the same fact sheet means organizing a radically integrated physical network of seeing and respecting each other's work. I would go one step further to suggest that a massively publicized and massively subsidized set of worker-lead public tours, conferences, and trade shows for cross-introducing sites of productivity would probably have way more impact than more passive/mediated viewing forms such as video. 

On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 11:39 AM Frederic Janssens <> wrote:
Thanks for asking!    

I have been thinking about these topics for many years, but have not published anything yet.

As I am a very slow writer, I will start by replying just to the philosophical/epistemological questions. They provide the proper tools and perspective to answer the other questions.

"Are these problems simply (as analytic philosophers might argue) problems of language, logic or perception"

Yes and no :
They are problems of language, logic or perception.
But not as analytic philosophers argue them.

Our use of language and our perceptions have been distorted by an ill concieved use of logic.
This is a primordial, and until now constitutive, "bug" in western thought. The origin of the bug is in ancient Greece, between Thales and Aristoteles, who formalised it.
The bug is to consider that the use of language should ideally be governed by the use of binary logic. Binary logic is based on the concept of Binary Truth :
A linguistic _expression_ is either True or False, there is not third (possibility) : "Tertium non datur". (

Why is this a bug?
It is an error on the domain of validity of the concept of Binary Truth.
The emergence of the concept of Binary Truth is linked with the developpment of geometry, and the concept of proof.
In modern mathematical terms geometry is a formal system.

My point is :

Formal systems are the domain of validity of binary logic.
Reality, and Language, are not formal systems and are not legitimate parts of the domain of validity of binary logic.

Expressed in a less formal way : Language and formal systems are representational tools, "Maps", of reality.
"The map is not the territory"

But Plato introduced the Idea : the territry is an approximation of the map.
It is crazy, but that craziness has been very productive :
Modern technoscience has covered many parts of reality where the number of significant factors are few enough that a formal system provides a very good representation of reality.

But many other parts of reality do have too many significant factors to be, at least as yet, well represented by a formal system.
To manage those parts of reality we can only use language.
But the implicit idea that language is just another formal system, by refering to binary logic, leads us to think, and do, crazy things.

To cut the chase short : I propose a relatively simple alternative to binary logic in the regulation of use of language :

A linguistic _expression_ can be an adequate approximation of reality for a specified context and a specified purpose.

Imposing the notion of binary truth on an _expression_ is then seen as imposing it to either be an adequate approximation of reality for any context and any purpose, or of none.

Which is clearly nonsense if you think of it. But that is the thing : the notion of binary truth as valid in the use of language imposes on us a burden of continuously avoiding the crazy things it induces us to think.
In relatively concrete or familiar contexts we usually manage.
But in more abstract or unfamiliar contexts we often fail

And, most importantly in the context of your text, it is an obstacle to the use of language for unterstanding, and thus meaninfully communicate, with people whith whom we do not have a lot of
context overlap.

One specific example of the insiduous and perverse consequences of binary logic on the use of language :
The most frequent use of "logic" in discussions is what I call "reverse syllogistic reasoning" :
In order to disqualify an opinion you do not like, the easiest way is to treat it as the conclusion of a syllogism and then invalidate one of the premisses to your satisfaction.
It only "works" (for you) because of the reference to binary Truth : if it is not True in all contexts for all purposes, then is False. So you do not need to try to understand the opinion you do not like.

This "magic" disqualification does not work if you use my concept of "adequate approximation of reality for a specified context and a specified purpose" : if you aim to have a real discussion,  you must do the work of comparing the contexts and purposes, and the adequateness, of your and the other's opinions.

So my prescription is : for any public document make it mandatory to include the context and purpose for which validity is claimed.

I will try to answer the other questions, but they are mostly consequences of this.

On Mon, 14 Oct 2019 at 13:31, David Garcia <> wrote:
- What Would a Knowledge Democracy Look Like -
 hoping for some some thoughts to be dropped in the “bowl". 

* Are these problems simply (as analytic philosophers might argue) problems of language, logic or perception 
or has the nature of how we discover (or construct) facts and truth claims fundamentally changed ? 


David Garcia


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G. Vincent Gaulin

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