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The quote below is taken from David Chapman. I’m not implying he endorses Integral Post-Metaphysics. I just like the quote:
For Bayesian methods to even apply, you have to have already defined the space of possible evidence-events and possible hypotheses and (in a decision theoretic framework) possible actions. The universe doesn’t come pre-parsed with those. Choosing the vocabulary in which to formulate evidence, hypotheses, and actions is most of the work of understanding something. Bayesianism gives you no help with that. Thus, I expect it predisposes you take someone else’s wrong vocabulary as given.
The quote above still stands, even taking into account the ideas in Einstein’s Arrogance, which is one of my most favorite posts on Less Wrong:
(Yes, machine learning, yes, self-organizing maps, yes, automated feature extraction. Yes AIXI and Godel machines. Yes, Building Phenomenological Bridges. Still.)
(Something something computability theory and consciousness and naturalism.)
A favorite Less Wrong comment:
[…Y]ou have to enter into the formalism while retaining awareness of the ontological context it supposedly represents: you have to reach the heart of the conceptual labyrinth where the reifier of abstractions is located, and then lead them out, so they can see directly again the roots in reality of their favorite constructs, and thereby also see the aspects of reality that aren’t represented in the formalism, but which are just as real as those which are.
The remainder of the quotes below are from one of the appendices in Ken Wilber’s Integral Spirituality (IS). IS was supposedly written in about two weeks, so the appendix could have been written in hours. It’s rushed and filled with jargon and some of the “equations” and figures are missing. The inferential distance between it and most readers on this blog will be large. I hope you’ll wade through it, anyway. If you understand it, you understand a big chunk of my personal inner operating system. I have additional comments after the quotes.
Before entering the Wilber quotes, I would summarize my position thusly: “If you think, say, ‘Santa Claus’ is meaningless, then you still have work to do on your signifiers, signifieds, and referents!”
(Some of the quotes below are a little bit out of order to increase pick-and-choose coherence.)
(There is a lot of outdated jargon going on down there, and the pdf assumes you read the entire book, so a lot of what you need isn’t there in the actual document. It’s still worth a shot.)
[…] If we claim that our epistemologies are basically representational maps (or mirrors of nature), then just as we of today will invalidate what was taken as knowledge 1,000 years ago, so tomorrow will invalidate our knowledge of today. So nobody ever has any truth, just various degrees of falsehood.
[…] Let’s take four referents, indicated by the signifiers dog, Santa Claus, the square root of a negative one, and Emptiness.
Where do the referents of those signifiers exist? Or, if they exist, where can they be found? Does Santa Claus exist; if so, where? Does the square root of a negative one exist; if so, where can it be found? And so on….
The point is that by doing a type of “mega-phenomenology” of all the phenomena known to be arising in the major levels and worldspaces (of which our short list above is a very crude example), we create a type of super dictionary (or GigaGlossary) of the location of the referents of most of the major signifiers capable of being uttered by humans (up to this time in evolution) and capable of being understood by humans who possess the adequate corresponding consciousness to bring forth the corresponding signified.
Thus, using our simple list as an example GigaGloss, we can answer some otherwise outlandishly impossible questions very easily. Here are a few examples:
The square root of a negative one is a signifier whose referent exists in the orange worldspace and can be accurately cognized or seen by trained mathematicians who call to mind the correct signifieds via various mathematical injunctions at that altitude and in 3rd-person perspective.
A global eco-system is a signifier whose referent is a very complex multidimensional holarchy existing in a turquoise worldspace; this actual referent can be directly cognized and seen by subjects at a turquoise altitude, in 3rd-person perspective, who study ecological sciences.
Santa Claus is a signifier whose referent exists in a magenta worldspace and can be seen or cognized by subjects at magenta altitude (provided, of course, that their LL-quadrant loads their intersubjective background with the necessary surface structures; this is true for all of these examples, so I will only occasionally mention it).
As for “pure physical objects” (or “sensorimotor objects”), they don’t exist. The “physical world” is not a perception but an interpretation (or, we might say, the physical world is not a perception but a conceptual perception or “conperception,” which of course also involves perspectives). There is no pregiven world, but simply a series of worlds that come into being (or co-emerge, or are tetra-enacted) with different orders of consciousness. Thus:
A dog as a vital animal spirit exists in a magenta worldspace. A dog as a biological organism exists in an amber worldspace. A dog as a biological organism that is the product of evolution exists in an orange worldspace. A dog as a molecular biological system that is an expression of DNA/RNA sequencing operating through evolving planetary eco-systems exists in a turquoise worldspace.
There simply is no such thing as “the dog” that is the one, true, pregiven dog to which our conceptions give varying representations, but rather different dogs that come into being or are enacted with our evolving concepts and consciousness.
We saw that if we cannot specify the Kosmic address of the perceiver and perceived, we have assertions without evidence, or metaphysics. And we can now see that this also means that we must be able to specify the injunctions necessary for the subject to be able to enact the Kosmic address of the object. The meaning of any assertion is therefore, among other things, the injunctions or means or exemplars for enacting the worldspace in which the referent exists or is said to exist (and where its existence can, in fact, be confirmed or refuted by a community of the adequate).
In particular, the idea that there are levels of being and knowing beyond the physical (i.e., literally meta-physical) is badly in need of reconstruction. This is not to say that there are no trans-physical realities whatsoever; only that most of the items taken to be trans- or meta-physical by the ancients (e.g., feelings, thoughts, ideas) actually have, at the very least, physical correlates. When modernity discovered this fact, it rejected the great wisdom traditions almost in their entirety. Of course, modernity has its own hidden metaphysics (as does postmodernity), but when the great, amber, mythic-metaphysical systems came down, spirituality received a hit from which it has never recovered. What is required is to reconstruct the enduring truths of the great wisdom traditions but without their metaphysics.
Given what an AQAL post-metaphysics discloses, it becomes apparent how well-meaning but still meaningless virtually everything being written about spirituality is. Spiritual treatises are mostly an endless series of ontic assertions about spiritual realities—and assertions with no injunctions, no enactions, no altitude, no perspectives, no Kosmic address of either the perceiver or the perceived. They are, in every sense, meaningless metaphysics, not only plagued with extensively elaborate myths of the given, but riddled with staggering numbers of ontic and assertic claims devoid of justification.
I’m poking fun at straw Less Wrongers and I’m poking fun at straw Ken Wilber, but I’m also deadly serious. I really, really care about this stuff, and I want other people to care about it, too.
I’m not saying the average Less Wronger doesn’t get this.
Of course, say, not-average-Less-Wronger Yudkowsky does get this and then some.
I’m not saying Yudkowsky would agree with stuff here.
I’m not saying I would agree with everything, here (universal love, Kosmic habits…).
(And, dated Ken Wilber is dated, a la General Semantics. He’d write a different book, now.)
Arguably I’m just poking at straw valley of bad rationality, straw vulcanism.
“Rationality,” narrowly defined, is about having reasons. Post-metaphysics is about having referents and instructions on how to access those referents. If someone wants to use logic on me, if someone is having a conversation with me, I pay attention to both the signifieds enacted in my head and my guess as to the signifieds enacted in the other person’s head.
Anyway, I want to go more into this eventually, but one of the reasons I care about all this so much is understanding and consent.
In actual-human-value-land, not pragmatic-operationalized-land, under what conditions can we be said to understand each other? Under what conditions can meaningful consent occur? Under what conditions is ethical coordination happening? Under what conditions will I feel like we’re actually hanging out in the same worldspace together, whether we’re both in the same world? Really seeing each other?
Really interacting with each other as adults doing adult things? This, I long for.