Posts Tagged ‘Teleology’

Machine Lock

Hurlock‘s find has (deservedly) generated a cybernetic hum across Outer-NRx twitter, and beyond. (There’s more, which I have yet to explore.) Some samples with minimal commentary over at UF. Most immediate take-away (as with Butler): Before people got distracted by the instructions of programmable machines, they were far clearer about the problem of machine teleology, the kind of evidence it produces, and the scale of historical process at which it operates.

Compared to Butler, Garet Garrett provides a far richer socio-economic and historical context for his discussion of spontaneous order among the machines. His sense of the integrated techno-commercial system in which machine evolution is promoted is sufficiently sophisticated to approach theoretical closure. Demographics, the economic dynamics of industrial capitalism, globalization, and modern military conflict are all neatly comprehended by his model. In a nutshell; economic incentives drive mechanization, which compels the expansion of production, which pushes the commercial order beyond its limits, with the stark horror of a displaced Malthusian catastrophe digging its spurs into the human base-brain. “What is it you will fear? That you will be unable to sell away the surplus product of your machines. That industry will no longer be able to make a profit? […] No. The fear is that you will starve. Your machines have called into existence millions of people who otherwise would not have been born — at least, not there in that manner. These millions who mind machines are gathered in cities. They produce no food. They produce with their machines artificial things that are exchanged for food.” The process is driven forward by the lash.

To have sunk from this level of theoretical grandeur to confused questions about the programming of nice robots is an intellectual calamity of such magnitude that it cries out for an explanation of its own. There’s still a little time to get back on track.

October 27, 2014admin 22 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Technology
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Quote note (#116)

Towards an analysis of the Social Justice Industrial Complex:

To perceive the group dynamics at work which is the Complex is first to distinguish between those forms of cooperation which are and are not taking place. Is there some evil mastermind pulling the strings from the shadows? No. The impetus in this case is nothing but the aggregation of personal interests aligned to a collective interest. The actions taken by these individuals are spontaneous, in the sense that the actions taken by soldiers on the battlefield are spontaneous, but behind this spontaneity the order is derived of the motivation which we variously call ideology, purpose, or religion. There is less agency at work in the camp of the Social Justice Industrial Complex than might be presumed from a precursory glance, reflecting that human tendency towards over-attribution of agency. No less, though, are we able to dismiss the notion of an agenda taking place; it is no grand conspiracy, but rather, very small conspiracies united by a vision of utopia which sees all present social structures as oppressions to be destroyed, the far side of which shall inevitably emerge their egalitarian eschaton.

(The focus upon the “tendency in human nature to over-attribute agency” is an excellent starting point, building immunity against some of the most toxic inclinations to radical ideological error into its foundations. If this is aspiring to the status of an authoritative position, it certainly deserves to be nodded through so far.)

ADDED: A brief vacation into the conspiratorial mind.

ADDED: Xenosystems is tempted to propose a (non-exclusive) definition of NRx as the systematic dismantling of conspiracy theorizing — in all its richness — into the tradition of spontaneous order.

October 6, 2014admin 30 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy
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Freedoom (Prelude-1a)

Note on Teleology

Bryce, who has been thinking about teleology for quite a while, expresses his thoughts on the topic with commendable lucidity. The central argument: Characteristically modern claims to have ‘transcended’ the problem of teleology are rendered nonsensical by the continued, and indeed massively deepened, dependence upon the concept of equilibrium across all complexity-sensitive intellectual disciplines, from statistical physics, through population biology, to economics. Equilibrium is exactly a telos. To deny this is primarily the symptom of an allergy to ‘medieval’ or ‘scholastic’ (i.e. Aristotelian) modes of thought, inherited from the vulgar rebellious mechanism of early Enlightenment natural philosophy.

Where I think Bryce’s account is still deficient is most easily shown by a further specification of his principal point. Equilibrium is the telos of those particular dynamic complex systems governed by homeostasis, which is to say: by a dominating negative feedback mechanism. Such systems are, indeed, in profound accordance with classical Aristotelian physical teleology, and its tendency to a state of rest. This ancient physics, derided by the enlightenment mechanists in the name of the conservation of momentum, is redeemed through abstraction into the modern conception of equilibrium. ‘Rest’ is not immobility, but entropy maximization.

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July 5, 2014admin 50 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Philosophy
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Mechanization

Bryce Laliberte has been thinking about Capital Teleology, from the perspective of human technological augmentation. One significant feature of this approach is that it doesn’t require any kind of savage rupture from ‘humanistic’ traditionalism — the story of technology is unfolded within the history of man.

Coincidentally, Isegoria had tweeted about Butlerian Jihad a few hours before (referring back to this post from December last year). The implicit tension between these visions of techno-teleology merits sustained attention — which I’m unable to provide here and now.  What is easily offered is a quotation from Samuel Butler’s ‘Book of the Machines’ (the 23rd and 24th chapters of his novel Erewhon), a passage that might productively by pinned to the margin of Laliberte’s reflections, in order to induce productive cognitive friction. The topic is speculation upon the emergence of a higher realization of life and consciousness upon the earth, as explored by Butler’s fictional author:

The writer …  proceeded to inquire whether traces of the approach of such a new phase of life could be perceived at present; whether we could see any tenements preparing which might in a remote futurity be adapted for it; whether, in fact, the primordial cell of such a kind of life could be now detected upon earth. In the course of his work he answered this question in the affirmative and pointed to the higher machines.

“There is no security” — to quote his own words — “against the ultimate development of mechanical consciousness, in the fact of machines possessing little consciousness now. A mollusc has not much consciousness. Reflect upon the extraordinary advance which machines have made during the last few hundred years, and note how slowly the animal and vegetable kingdoms are advancing. The more highly organised machines are creatures not so much of yesterday, as of the last five minutes, so to speak, in comparison with past time. Assume for the sake of argument that conscious beings have existed for some twenty million years: see what strides machines have made in the last thousand! May not the world last twenty million years longer? If so, what will they not in the end become? Is it not safer to nip the mischief in the bud and to forbid them further progress?

“But who can say that the vapour engine has not a kind of consciousness? Where does consciousness begin, and where end? Who can draw the line? Who can draw any line? Is not everything interwoven with everything? Is not machinery linked with animal life in an infinite variety of ways? The shell of a hen’s egg is made of a delicate white ware and is a machine as much as an egg-cup is: the shell is a device for holding the egg, as much as the egg-cup for holding the shell: both are phases of the same function; the hen makes the shell in her inside, but it is pure pottery. She makes her nest outside of herself for convenience’ sake, but the nest is not more of a machine than the egg-shell is. A ‘machine’ is only a ‘device.’”

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June 4, 2014admin 19 Comments »
FILED UNDER :History , Technology
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Romantic Delusion

Among the reasons to appreciate More Right for sharing this passage from Evola is the insight it offers into a very specific and critical failure to think. Neoreaction is peculiarly afflicted by this condition, which is basically identical with romanticism, or the assertive form of the recalcitrant ape mind. It is characterized by an inability to pursue lines of subtle teleological investigation, which are instead reduced to an ideal subordination of means to already-publicized ends. As a result, means-end reversal (Modernity) is merely denounced as an aesthetic-moral affront, without any serious attempt at deep comprehension.

Capitalism — which is to say capital teleology — is entirely ignored by such romantic criticism, except insofar as it can be depicted superficially as the usurpation of certain ‘ultimate’ human ends by certain others or (as Evola among other rightly notes) by a teleological complication resulting from an insurrection of the instrumental (otherwise identifiable as robot rebellion, or shoggothic insurgency). Until it is acknowledged that capitalism tends to the realization of an end entirely innovated within itself, inherently nonlinear in nature, and roughly designated as Technological Singularity, the distraction of human interests (status, wealth, consumption, leisure …) prevents this discussion reaching first base.

Of course, the organization of society to meet human needs is a degraded perversion. That is a proposition every reactionary is probably willing to accept reflexively. Anyone who thinks this amounts to a critique of capitalism, however, has not seriously begun to ponder what capitalism is really doing. What it is in itself is only tactically connected to what it does for us — that is (in part), what it trades us for its self-escalation. Our phenomenology is its camouflage. We contemptuously mock the trash that it offers the masses, and then think we have understood something about capitalism, rather than about what capitalism has learnt to think of the apes it arose among.

If we’re going to be this thoughtless, Singularity will be very hard indeed. Extinction might then be the best thing that could happen to our stubbornly idiotic species. We will die because we preferred to assert values, rather than to investigate them. At least that is a romantic outcome, of a kind.

February 9, 2014admin 34 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction
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Pandora’s Box

Anarchopapist has triggered a twitter storm with this. It is a post that has many different threads running into it, and through it. The most relevant compliment I can pay it is to say that it is potentially disturbing, in something far more than a psychological sense. It will be interesting to see how contagious it proves to be. (As this post demonstrates, Outside in is already infected.)

Laliberte asks: “is there a difference between Prometheus’ fire and Pandora’s box?” Given everything said about the Promethean, and the very considerable ideological-theoretical work that it does, is it not strange that the Pandoran is scarcely recognized as a term, or a concept, at all? To talk about fire is mere shallow bedazzlement, in comparison to any serious examination of boxes. Boxes not only have a shape, but also an inside and an outside, which means — at least implicitly — a transcendental structure. They model worlds, and suggest ways out of them.

Pandora’s box, of course, is significant above all for its content, which is released, or gets out. Promethean flame, which is stolen, is contrasted with Pandoran plague, which escapes. Laliberte seizes the opportunity to discuss memes (and the ‘hypermeme’). An infectious being is set loose, in the shape of a Neoreactionary Basilisk. (On twitter, Michael Anissimov deplores the irresponsibility of this outbreak.)

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January 13, 2014admin 25 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Arcane , Contagion , Horror
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Right on the Money (#2)

The most direct way to carry this discussion forwards is digression. That’s what the history of capitalism suggests, and much else does, besides.

To begin with uncontroversial basics, in a sophisticated financialized economy, debt and savings are complementary concepts, creditors match debtors, assets match liabilities. At a more basic level of economic activity and analysis, however, this symmetry break down. At the most fundamental level, saving is simply deferred consumption, which — even primordially — divides into two distinct forms.

When production is not immediately consumed, it can be hoarded, which is to say, conserved for future consumption. Stored food is the most obvious example. In principle, an economy of almost open-ended financial sophistication could be built upon this pillar alone. A grain surplus might be lent out for immediate consumption by another party, creating a creditor-debtor relation, and the opportunity for financial instruments to arise. Excess production, at one node in the social network, could be translated into a monetary hoard, or some type of ‘paper’ financial asset (producing a circulating liability). The patent anachronism involved in this abstract economic model, which combines primitive production with ‘advanced’ social relations (of an implicitly liberal type) is reason enough to suspend it at this point.

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June 3, 2013admin 84 Comments »
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Teleology and Camouflage

Life appears to be saturated with purpose. That is why, prior to the Darwinian revolution in biology, it had been the primary provocation for (theological) arguments from design, and previously nourished Aristotelian appeals to final causes (teleology). Even post-Darwin, the biological sciences continue to ask what things are for, and to investigate the strategies that guide them.

This resilience of purposive intelligibility is so marked that a neologism was coined specifically for those phenomena — broadly co-extensive with the field of biological study — that simulate teleology to an extreme degree of approximation. ‘Teleonomy’ is mechanism camouflaged as teleology. The disguise is so profound, widespread, and compelling, that it legitimates the perpetuation of purpose-based descriptions, given only the formal acknowledgement that the terms of their ultimate reducibility are — in principle — understood.

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April 8, 2013admin 20 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Cosmos , Templexity
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