Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Symbolic analysis of the corporeal world

"Symbolic analysists solve, identify, and broker problems by manipulating symbols. They simplify reality into abstract images that can be rearranged, juggled, experimented with, communicated to other specialists, and then, eventually, transformed back into reality. The manipulations are done with analytic tools, sharpened by experience. These tools may be mathematical algorithms, legal arguments, financial gimmicks, scientific principles, psychological insights about how to persuade or to amuse, systems of induction or deduction, or any other set of techniques for doing conceptual puzzles."
-The Work of Nations, Robert B. Reich, Vintage Books, New York, 1991excerpt

Binding the above to tangible reference points is a means to avoid the cultural failures that occur when metaphysics is the reference point. Metaphysics is by definition impervious to facts, thus making it a pathological course-correcting mechanism in social systems. Cultures whose symbolic analysts are entirely metaphysical ( religious or psychological shamans ) guide the culture into a black hole of lost. Binding the corporeal to symbolic analysis is the distinction of cultures capable of progress or course correction.

All cultures have the corporeal as a reference point in their language, but not all have symbolic analysts who can move massive amounts of the material world by manipulation of symbols (example: mining engineers). Cultures without this mass moving capability are in more of a peer relationship with the biological and geological. This limitation means loss of control on a planet with cultures that use letter/number symbols or electrical-networked bits to move earth, water, air, animals, and people.

The dominance of one of these types over the other type is not rigid nor enduring. Cultures can be amorphous. Symbolic analysis of the corporeal world always dominates and succeeds, and even more so when those formerly not capable of it are encouraged to integrate into the elite skill set user group.

3 comments:

The Serpent Lord said...

"Is," "is." "is" — the idiocy of the word haunts me. If it were abolished, human thought might begin to make sense. I don't know what anything "is"; I only know how it seems to me at this moment.

Metaphysics is tying the boat to the bottom of the bay instead of just dropping an anchor. When high waves come to wash everyone else out to sea or onto try land, the metaphysically anchored boat is simply inundated, rolled and dropped to the bottom.

Shamans attaching arbitrary meaning to random experiences isn't necessarily the worst strategy. Take away this tradition and our ancestors might have died from always hunting where experience indicated previous success. This is only a problem for a predator that has unusually high hunting success. It's the Pleistocene version of getting slashdotted.

The advantage of random selection over limited experience might have given an edge to the new religions of postmodern mysticism competing against the "educated guesses" (non-randomness) of the modern rational tradition.

Oracle Arion said...

"Semiotics" is the study of sign processes; signs & symbols of communication. Semantics, Syntax and Pragmatics are all branches of this discipline. -wikipedia

Although developed as a science this field is increasingly seen as an having application in anthropology. When combined with an systems-theory this approach Sociocybernetics is the study of self-regulating human social systems.

I believe that when judiciously applied sociocybernetics could be instrumental in overcoming the prognosis as set forth by Frankfurt school. Of course this technology must be utilized by the creative class before the current reality of data-mining and data-farming conjoin with artificial intelligence creating Asimov's "psychomathematics" and its corresponding dystopia. Adorno offers this challenge, "the basis on which technology acquires power over society is the power of those whose economic hold over society is greatest."

LanceMiller said...

Oracle_arion, you've kind of introduced a hint of something I want to think about more. Yes, I agree the creative class needs to lead.