Hidden Order

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Re: Hidden Order

Postby YGodler » Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:18 am

Troy,

As far as I can tell our main disagreement is about whether there can exist things which are in principle inaccessible to us. I think there are good reasons to believe that there are such things. I believe this to be the case because we are biological organisms with scope and limits and because there is evidence that, vis-a-vis some phenomena, human science has made essentialy no progress (e.g. choice). In contrast, and as far as I understand your position, you reject the existence of things which are inaccessible in principle.
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Re: Hidden Order

Postby Jonathan Nitzan » Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:24 am

Perhaps the discussion could be sharpened by focusing on "society" only:

Can humans create social institutions and organizations that are inaccessible, in principle, to human understanding?
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Re: Hidden Order

Postby YGodler » Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:27 am

Because institutions and organizations posit certain relations between humans and between humans and the non-human world, institutions and organizations essentially are social theories waiting to be discovered. A good social scientist tries to correctly identify these relations. In this sense, institutions are accessible to human understanding.

But institutions also presuppose a great deal (as does the social scientist who seeks to uncover the institutions' algorithm). Among other things, institutions must presuppose choice/creativity, even if they seek to control or limit them. Choice and creativity are existing things which seem inaccessible to human understanding in principle.

So all kinds of things exist, but only some can be theorized/understood.This seems to resonate with the familiar post-Newtonian distinction between the intelligibility of theories (which is possible) and the intelligibility of the world (which is impossible).
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Re: Hidden Order

Postby DT Cochrane » Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:20 pm

YGodler wrote:Institutions must presuppose choice/creativity, even if they seek to control or limit them. Choice and creativity are existing things which seem inaccessible to human understanding in principle.


Yigal,
Our discussion has been about hidden order. Can there be an ordering mechanism that remains necessarily beyond our access? If a decision is dictated by an ordering mechanism, then it is not choice. If, however, it is truly a creative choice, then it is not ordered. Castoriadis would argue that acts of creative genius are ex nihilo. They are from nowhere. That is a decidedly different conception than claiming they emerge from some hidden order.

YGodler wrote:So all kinds of things exist, but only some can be theorized/understood.This seems to resonate with the familiar post-Newtonian distinction between the intelligibility of theories (which is possible) and the intelligibility of the world (which is impossible).


Could the world be known in its entirety, a la the dream of Laplace? No. It is a creative venture. There are ex nihilo emergences. But, that doesn't mean the world is unintelligible. Our understanding requires, as Barad would say, meeting the Universe halfway. Our theories can only emerge through dialog not only among ourselves, but also with unfolding existence.
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Re: Hidden Order

Postby YGodler » Fri Sep 16, 2016 12:17 am

DT Cochrane wrote:
If a decision is dictated by an ordering mechanism, then it is not choice. If, however, it is truly a creative choice, then it is not ordered.


Troy,
I'm not sure I accept either proposition (see some thoughts below*), but I'm also unclear about the consequences of their acceptance/rejection for our discussion. The important fact, it seems to me, is that our lives are uncontroversially ordered by choices (either our own or those of the rulers), and yet we apparently have no conceivable way of accounting for the phenomenon of choice. Instead, creators of institutions and social scientists simply take this phenomenon for granted.

DT Cochrane wrote:Could the world be known in its entirety, a la the dream of Laplace? No. It is a creative venture. There are ex nihilo emergences. But, that doesn't mean the world is unintelligible.



I am not arguing that the world is unintelligible because it cannot be known in its entirety. I am arguing that even those parts of the world that have been successfully theorized are in crucial respects unintelligible. Here are Newton's telling words:

It is inconceivable that inanimate Matter should, without the Mediation of something else, which is not material, operate upon, and affect other matter without mutual Contact…That Gravity should be innate, inherent and essential to Matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance thro' a Vacuum, without the Mediation of any thing else, by and through which their Action and Force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an Absurdity that I believe no Man who has in philosophical Matters a competent Faculty of thinking can ever fall into it...


Do you dispute that what Newton calls "action at a distance" creates order? - And yet it's "inconceivable".

*Even when I do something at gunpoint, I still have a choice (although I am perhaps "incited and inclined" to make a particular choice). It just happens to be a difficult choice. As to whether choice is ordered, that I do not know. For one, it's certainly not random, but maybe you're referring to its genesis. If that's the case, it seems to me that we must be somehow wired to have choice. We just have no conception of how this is the case. That's also why I am willing to accept the "ex nihilo" claim with respect to choice only as a metaphor. We simply do not know where it comes from.
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Re: Hidden Order

Postby DT Cochrane » Mon Sep 19, 2016 5:40 am

Yigal,
While reading Ulf Martin's notes for his scheduled presentation at York, I'm reminded that the distinction I made between order and creation comes from Castoriadis.

Castoriadis makes a distinction between the 'ensidic' and the 'magmatic' aspects of reality. The ensidic is the component capable of being separated and assembled into identities. The magmatic is the part defying classification. The ensidic is suitable for ordering, while the magmatic defies it. It is, in principle, outside order.

I also don't share in the same inconceivabilities as Newton had. There are other things that are inconceivable to me, but that is an epistemological failing, rather than an ontological fact. We denude humanity of its incredible ability to engage with existence, transform our knowledge of that existence and then augment that existence when we mistake our epistemological limitations for ontological barriers, which is precisely what Newton does in this passage. It is the same with Hegel, when he declares that we are at the End of History because thought has now captured reality, i.e. Absolute Knowledge.

We shouldn't confuse ordering mechanisms that may be currently inconceivable - owing to the principles limiting our thought - with ordering mechanisms that are forever necessarily beyond us. I think this distinction between the epistemological and the ontological may be at the root of our disagreement, and may be causing us to debate at cross purposes.
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Re: Hidden Order

Postby YGodler » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:25 pm

The ensidic is the component capable of being separated and assembled into identities. The magmatic is the part defying classification.


Troy,
This seems to be a reference to conceptual order or lack thereof, not to something that "orders our lives". But I could be misunderstanding you. On a common sense view, even a form of social organization which arises out of the autonomous energies which underly the "magma" of humanity, like some hypothetical anarchist community, would still have some kind of order. This order wouldn't be heteronomously imposed, but there seems to be nothing contradictory in the idea of order based on voluntary action.

I also don't share in the same inconceivabilities as Newton had.


I'm not sure what this means. Locke and Hume certainly shared in his inconceivabilities and I don't think modern science has overcome them. Modern science simply lowered its objectives to the intelligibility of theories (including Newton's theory), and gave up on the intelligibility of the world in the sense hoped for in the context of mechanical philosophy. Mechanical philosophy is essentially an expression of how we cannot help but see the world. We cannot conceive of such things as action at a distance, folding spacetime and quantum entanglement, even though humans can surely theorize them.



There are other things that are inconceivable to me, but that is an epistemological failing, rather than an ontological fact. We denude humanity of its incredible ability to engage with existence, transform our knowledge of that existence and then augment that existence when we mistake our epistemological limitations for ontological barriers, which is precisely what Newton does in this passage. It is the same with Hegel, when he declares that we are at the End of History because thought has now captured reality, i.e. Absolute Knowledge.

We shouldn't confuse ordering mechanisms that may be currently inconceivable - owing to the principles limiting our thought - with ordering mechanisms that are forever necessarily beyond us. I think this distinction between the epistemological and the ontological may be at the root of our disagreement, and may be causing us to debate at cross purposes.


I disagree. The limits of our cognitive capacity are no more an "epistemological failing", than it is an epistemological failing of rats that they cannot learn prime number mazes. This is simply the kind of creatures they are. Just as our particular genetic endowment allows for some things and disallows others. What we know about the world is the result of an interaction of whatever the world is like and our interpretive mechanisms. But those interpretive mechanisms, with their scope and limits, are also existing things. Thus, qua biological facts, our interpretive mechanisms are a part of ontology, even though they are preconditions to epistemology.
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Re: Hidden Order

Postby Jonathan Nitzan » Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:55 am

Putting the deeper philosophical questions aside for a moment, can you give examples of actual social institutions, organizations and processes that are inaccessible, in principle, to human understanding?

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Re: Hidden Order

Postby YGodler » Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:39 am

Jonathan,

This is a point I have conceded above. It seems to me that insofar as institutions posit certain relations between humans and between humans and the non-human world, they essentially are social theories or social algorithms. And there is no dispute that theories and algorithms are accessible.

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