Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Process, Picture, Practice, Privilege, Power - II

In the first part I introduced some primitive notions - Picture and Process. A picture is our primitive notion of sensing or holding in our mind an impression of a whole frozen down into a moment. A picture can be visual, but it can also be the schematic of what is going on, or a map of the intellectual territory. A process is the concept of what is happening, reduced to a sequence in time.

The post introduces the idea that a picture has at least two notional, that is, not necessarily real, processes attached to it. One is the process that the picture is a picture of, for example, a man we see on the movie screen walking. The other is the process that makes the picture. This creates five relationships, how each process and the picture relate to each other, and how the two processes relate to each other.

A sophisticated philosophical reading will, of course, drill down into these relationships in order to have a theoretical understanding of the cognitive bias and properties of each. But this has been done at length, and the criticism of it is that unsuprisingly, the analysis seems to result from a very naif sociology that the problems of society are a linear scaling of the problems with some particular set of relationships. People who think the world is language find the root of the problems in language, e.g. post-structuralists, people who think the problem is epistemological find the problem in the priority of structure, e.g. Kant, and so on.

That's a hole, and much of philosophy ends up going down it.

Instead, rather than accepting these primitive notions as they are, or by attempting to overload them with properties that cannot be demonstrated without appealing to them, the long strange trips of Thomas Hobbes, Sigmund Freud, and Daniel Dennett, these notions are more useful as ways of connecting types of practice to their underlying pictures of the world. So if there are pictures, and there is a process that makes them, the way of relating picture to process is, in itself, a picture of the world, and it has to be carried out by some process. If you believe that a deity created the world, and that to participate fully in that creation you have to engage in devotion, then that is a picture of the world, and a process that you need to take part in. So a model is in itself a picture, it has a process, and this picture <->process relationship rests, in its turn, on a picture to prove it. This is a circle, and the sophistication is merely how long a circle it takes to confuse a mind into forgetting that nothing, in fact, has been proven. There are ways out of this, and this essay takes one: as of yet, none of this is grounded in the provable, it is merely a notion that is useful for reducing observation, a mental tool or game.

It is also a trap to try and create a chronology of the succession of world models, since there's no proof yet that any given on is anything but a reconstruction of what people thought they though they were up to. Clearly, the people who painted on cave walls, and created oral traditions, perhaps as long ago as 100,000 years ago, were creating pictures and engaging in process, and had a view of the world that caused them to bury their dead, paint on walls, and speak. But saying that these are the agents of cause of the next step, and the next step, is in itself a picture of how human society changes.