The three overlapping fields of human uncertainty

The human stands at the overlapping centre of three circles of confusion.

These are time, perception and mind.

1.      Humans can not successfully render time in the substrate of their imaginative consciousness.

2.      Their consciousness is contingent and non-neutral; and is folded into time fundamentally, since it has been produced through a chronal action. Mind is therefore inherently unknowable by itself, because of the paradox of a subjective computational process attempting to conceive of a subjective computational process; this process forever sputtering in its inefficacy towards mania.

3.      Perception is similarly contingently constructed, because evolution has created it for certain discrete purposes connected to the forward projection through time of the species.

As explained previously, these inefficiencies therefore do not allow the human to successfully locate itself in space or time appropriately, and mean that efforts to successfully improve its position will fail or be suboptimal.

This is the a priori realisation necessary for a systematic consideration of politics.

Images of the past – II

Two great contingencies keep watch over the river of human history, great pillars of stone between which the stream of our interwoven consciousness flows. First, the contingency associated with the emergence of the Neolithic and thence human script; second the looming, imminent diffusion of our thought into the shared collective cloud, underpinned or augmented by artificial minds. It is at this second waypoint which the human now finds itself. The human holds in one hand the stone axe, and in the other cradles the neuralink. The potential of the human’s proclivity for technology is fully realised, perhaps, as the node is inserted. Do mind-body dichotomies and ideological concerns dissipate in its computational force? Most importantly, will historical anguish and political alignments dissolve as human commonality prevails?

As the human casts its eyes backwards along the already navigated river, what does it see? How does the imminent metamorphosis affects its historical gaze? And more, how will the cloud-dwelling human then see time and history?

One explanation is that a relentless melting away of the narrative structures of the human past will begin. As the human mind accelerates away, the pitiful epochs, empires, intellectual trends, economic shifts and cultural movements will recede and dwindle, falling away to nothing, the periodisation and stories upon which its historical knowledge is poised collapsing into meaninglessness. We have seen this process before, on a more limited scale. Crucial past ideological or religious differences now seem petty. The great shifts in population and even ancient wars seem trivial, inconsequential, or predictable and recurrent. They did not seem so at the time; and similarly, as the entirety of human history decays and withers, we will wonder, as our minds are released upon a limitless landscape of thought, what all the fuss was about. We were there; and now we are here.

Alternatively, the human mind in the cloud will retain its reverence and curiosity regarding the past. It may do so as an intellectual indulgence, or categorise even recent historical traumas in the detached way we view ancient warfare and culture. Or it may find its care for the past sharpening. Why would we feel less pain in relation to an ancient crime, compared to one sixty years ago? Something more fundamental may also occur. Western linear views of time may falter; radical recompartmentalisations of time may thrive. Across human intellectual imagination, many conceptions of time recur; although the cloud will spring from the technological and philosophical conditions of the West, the neural conditions of the cloud might mean other traditions prosper. A fitness function may emerge, by which the heuristic most closely applicable to the human’s condition is favoured: which model for time and the human past will win out? Radial cosmological and chronal models may be appropriate. These, neatly, correspond with ancient, neolithic, and some Eastern and traditional models. We’re here, and we were here, and we will be here again. Same shit, different epoch.

And as the human stands, hands upturned in bewilderment, faced by the great monolith of our past, it is confused. This confusion has a new urgency, so imminent is its technological transfiguration. It senses this, as it wallows in its consumption and in its social hypochondria. All answers evaporate, and all questions hover brightly. Time and the human’s story have lost all meaning; and the human is numb.

Images of the past – part 1

Several iterations of an epistemological notion concerning representation cause us to reconsider the past and history. If we are only able to perceive the world representationally and inaccurately, and, more, if even spacetime is a misleading construct, the implication for our conception of the past is concerning. One argument holds that veridical interpretations of reality hinder species’ progress. In other words, their understanding of the present is inaccurate. They are rewarded evolutionarily by emphasising, ignoring, or exaggerating features of the environment or other organisms. Similarly, the very substance of our universe, spacetime, might be a secondary, ancillary effect of a deeper reality. We observe and inhabit a holographic projection of something more fundamental. Concerningly, the profound relational truths surrounding cause and effect, baked in to billions of years of evolution and driving organisms’ day-to-day attempts to manipulate their surroundings, break down in certain physical models, and seemingly arcane notions of entanglement and complementarity depart from our common-sense understanding of the fabric of reality. Thus, the software produced for our consciousnesses by evolution seems unable without the rarefied assistance of advanced mathematics to grasp reality at its most basic. If we inhabit a quantum hologram but do not know it, what in fact can we truly know?

The same is true for our understanding of time. Attempts to conceive of time stopping, ‘flowing’ backwards or operating differently at all are counter-intuitive and often unsuccessful. This is because minds have evolved to hunt and gather efficiently, to make simple tools and assist in the survival of our peers – and therefore have required a firm, robust and automatic conception of time and causality which suits its operating environment. Of entanglement and complementarity, Neolithic man (nor the Pleistocene Glyptodon) knew little – neither did they stop to ponder the nature of time and its irresistible unidirectional moment. As philosophers split hairs ever more finely when explaining the present and eternity, their failure to conclude the matter simply points to humanity’s deficit with such chronal perspectives. We do not know whether all moments have always existed, whether simply the present exists, whether the past exists in way the future does not – ad infinitum. A similar level of confusion relating to spatial location would be risible. Time is therefore especially unknowable, and we do not know whether we perdure, exdure or endure.

Similarly, a claim that we interpret our human present unclearly should find little disagreement. From political processes, major existential concerns (man made or natural), economic choices to warfare and corruption, it is clear that we rarely conceive of our primary challenges with clarity. Polling, election choices, private financial decisions, policy priorities – the experience shows that we do not understand the world nor our place in it. Extended to human biology and our wellbeing, our poor choices are daily manifest. We seem trapped in an iron prison of our genetic history, imperfect minds ill-adapted to their fleshly hosts. This is not to mention our even poorer record when initiating programmes to meet these challenges – theories, recommendations and legislation reverberate manically, failing in each iteration to save our selves.

We therefore are unable to lucidly decipher our human world, physical space and the nature of reality, and most pertinently time itself.

But what of the human past? If humans misinterpret reality in these concrete and theoretical ways, then why would we expect them to comprehend their past successfully? History and historians abound. As a profession, subject or ‘genre’ for popular culture, History is healthy, though it suffers a wide-range of contested explanations for its meaning, purpose, scope, content, level of moral responsibility, mode of practice, use, relative politicisation and mooted role in abetting oppression. Assessing the relative weight given to actors’ testimony in exploring historical events and processes is a well-trodden path, granted. Indeed, judging the merit or otherwise of every piece of historical evidence utlisied or discarded in the production of anaylses is the Historian’s assumed fundamental competence. But, more deeply, if our brothers and sisters through the ages also suffered from our maladroit earthly perception, how worthwhile is the historical project? Can we do more with our past than allow it to slip tragically through our fingers?

Perhaps historians understand this intuitively. Medieval chroniclers describe meteors, great storms and worse when narrating the causality of plagues. Hyper-real spiritual experiences become matter-of-fact events beside crop failures or wars. Recency bias, proximity to great events, trauma or habituation can seem the main factor in determining the content of witnesses’ accounts. To be a peasant in 19th century Russia would be to take on a host of spiritual, social, economic and moral assumptions relating to the nature of their reality. Trauma can be contextual. Historians understand these and other caveats associated with the use of such evidence. If it is their aim, reconstructing the past wie es eigentlich gewesen ist, is attempted with the appropriate care. Their practice includes many successes, most notably attempts to confront criminals in the recent past with appropriate justice. Nevertheless, the suspicion of futility and indulgence lingers.

More, tropes such as ‘victors writing the history’ obscure deeper truths. The unwritten histories of oppressed or defeated peoples receive attention from time to time, although bold conceptual leaps arguing defence of nefarious actors or promoting dead-end civilisations are rare. But there are also vast, unheralded, shadowy chronicles of our past which will remain forever silent. Given the frustratingly scanty evidence for even certain European medieval histories, our relative lack of information for the deep histories of the global south yields greater frustration. Perhaps microscale echoes of the everyday from past centuries tantalise precisely because truly comprehending our ancestors’ lives seems incredible. In the murk, any candle casts a brilliant glare. Instead of perfect facsimile, we construct an imperfect image of the past from what evidence we have, with varying resolution and fidelity. History seems a hologram of spent reality, distilled from the interference patterns of our own interpretative dysfunction.

Historians and anthropologists plough their furrows keenly, despite this regrettable evidential deficit. They can offer well-reasoned guesses when interpreting cave-art, refer to current tribal practices and, as sensibly as possible, graft our assumptions onto their subjects’ psyches. But, though fascinating, the limits of their practice are clear. Even if we imagine modes of thinking to modulate only slowly over the eons, interpreting the imagination of our stone age or bronze age ancestors seems a stretch. Perhaps, more than we, they perceived the nebulous quality of time more keenly. Were their cave-wrought artforms security against impermanence?

To extrapolate, have sociability and civilisation inured us to chronal complementation? The rise in fretting about existence as a correlate for the unfolding of modernity is fitting: as civilisation became less and less human, the humans worried more and more about their place. Their representational imagery underwent a transformation to the impression and thence the abstraction. The vector was toward greater and greater interpretation; perhaps, haunted by their great unanswered questions about Time, they sought greater diffraction of meaning amidst our riches of information. Perhaps Neolithic man had a clearer innate understanding of the unknowability of time and space, and worried about existence less. For the modern human, failed attempts to replace natural order proliferate, and therefore dissonance rules. But we pretend to know it all.

Complementarity, consciousness and the political field

What are the tensors of the political field? What are the vectors and scalars?

  1. The political field is always present, since and beyond the Neolithic contingency.
  2. The political field exists in four dimensions, and expands as a correlate to the territorial and temporal expansion of human consciousness.
  3. The political field ultimately governs the interaction between the human individual and the world.
  4. The political field transcends and includes other fields of interaction.
  5. To a varying extent, the political field scaffolds human interaction and achievement, but its influence in the moment at small scale can seem negligible.
  6. Dereification of superfluous political objects can increase the clarity with which the political field is conceived, leading to greater efficacy of outcomes.
  7. The political field is associated with the falsidical human perception of reality; it is a manifestation of our attempt to reconcile reality with our perception.
  8. Representation in the political field exists at a range of scales. Ideas, events, controversies, individuals, ideologies and processes are misrepresented in cyclical or iterative generation.
  9. Dichotomies, subjected to recession and perspectics, resolve.
  10. Tensors might be national boundaries, class identities, in the fourth dimension elections, assassinations, wars, policy proposals, announcements and legislation, elsewhere gender identities or similar, location.
  11. Scalars might be weight of feeling, degree of popularity, spend of policy proposal, breadth of coverage.
  12. Vectors might be positive or negative trend of popularity, growth in impact of proposal, range of influence.
  13. Political objects may prove efficacious, useless, important, facile, ethical, unethical or similar dependent on the perspective of the observer, impacted group in question, ‘distance’ of the observation in time, space and emotion. Polar, valid assessments of the same object are not only possible but necessary.
  14. Reflection on the permanence and relativity of the political field can lead to superior outcomes for the species.
  15. Improved capacity to manage an individual human’s consciousness can include clearer interaction within the political field as dereification begins; greater contentment within the political field can improve management of an individual human’s consciousness.

A hierarchy of reasons for including a discussion of the Political Philosophy of Time in the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of time.

The Oxford Handbook of Philsophy of Time does not include a discussion of the interconnectedness of politics, history and time. It should discuss:

  1. Prosaically, the hard-wired chronal aspects of constitutions, which are the concrete rulebooks and superstructures of our politics, namely term-limits, campaigning windows, periods of appointments to public offices. The history of such aspects, the reasoning and assumptions underpinning them.
  2. The use of time as a descriptor or limiting factor to decisions, legislation and policies, or to manifesto / platform goals.
  3. More importantly, the psychological influence on politics and human experience of our fluctuating understanding of the likely ‘deadlines’ for the impact or arrival of important existential factors, such as irreversible and harmful climate change, emergence of artificial general intelligence, growth into economic maturity of rival countries, depletion of certain natural resources, probable significant decline of natural resources; hauntingly, the notional frequencies of recurrence of cataclysmic natural disasters.
  4. The social and psychological grounding for our treatment of time in our economic decision-making, which is the intellectual groundwork for much of point 3. The range of scales with which this is viewed, from high-frequency trading to the accumulation of sovereign wealth funds, and the impact on human economic experience of the culturally varying conceptions of time. The intrinsic effect of assumptions about time in human experience, for example the war for our attention / time waged by tech firms, the suffering associated with the use of human time. The utilitarian justification for the undignified abuse of human time.
  5. Philosophical conceptions of time and historical periodisation which provides the context for point 4. Namely, the relations between hard cosmological near-constants and human interpretations of the same.
  6. The relation between commonplace misconceptions of time, humanity’s role or purpose, and philosophies of the past and the future. The use of time in teleological or grand narrative philosophies, materialistic, dialectic, liberal, traditional / religious.
  7. The link, therefore, between philosophical considerations of the present, human action and experience and political processes, which is fundamental.

The Human Path: 8 – Minimal necessary coherence and symbols

The possibility remains that Human achievement necessitates belief. A convincing historical heuristic presents itself in evaluating the Humans’ past via their perennial search for meaning; emerging from the shell like the infant dinosaur, they blindly claw at the void in hope of spiritual satiety; whence war, faith, science, art. Whether the Human’s objects of belief are ancient, mythical, modern or rational, it is certain that attempts to predetermine the same will falter. Artificial constraints on belief or centralised promotion of belief systems normally fail; those that succeed rely on the rare utility and adaptability of their tenets and the assent of their devotees. A framework for the Humans’ future must allow belief within its dynamics, therefore, without being tempted by prescription. To do so, it is necessary to consider the minimal necessary coherence the Humans require for productive permanence. Further, careful thought must be given to the relative prevalence of belief symbols and political objects in the Humans’ world. Again, rather than the licensing of symbols or belief by some central authority, it is the rational evaluation of the functional utility of belief which is important: such an evaluation might then reveal the gaping deficiency in provision of these necessities to groups, and indeed their concentrated superabundance elsewhere.

The Human Path: 12 – Distraction and dichotomy resolution

For the well-sheltered Humans, whose existence is fundamentally unreal, the priorities and imperatives of existence are disconnected from their real concerns. Their distraction and confusion are their original cognitive sins, from which further echoing mistakes radiate. Human existence is therefore fundamentally dysfunctional, and ill-suited to providing for Human achievement or productive permanence. Its dysfunction also increases, as mistake upon mistake accumulate, with the reverberations of falsity and misdiagnosis self-replicating and reflexive, so that decisions and instincts are determined amid a cacophony of error.

Some Humans’ primary needs are catered for, but their endless toil and anxiety seems incidental to their lives; greater numbers of humans serve in abstract, imaginary occupations, their effort merged seamlessly with the encompassing superstructure of finance, entertainment, complaint, administration and arbitration whose complexity overwhelms. Real toil is undertaken by many, but few see a satisfying reward for the labour, and serve ghostly masters, making products for far-away customers. Meanwhile, the Humans’ entertainment is ever-more appropriately fine-tuned to their tastes, marketing ever-more accurate in its segmentation of their preferences, and their attention ever-more shamelessly leveraged by the benign-seeming platforms they use to record their lives. Upon these platforms, and throughout their other media, the Humans lie and lie, a dishonest crescendo, bands of rabid primates screaming. More, the instinct to cleave themselves and to establish and re-establish groups of reassurance burgeons and sharpens, centered around incidental characteristics, opinion or prejudice. Fed by the platforms which absorb ever-greater portions of their time and attention, their own economic alienation, and opportunistic manipulators of their emotion and direction, the Humans are distracted, and exist in newstime further and further from their brothers and sisters. Dichotomies rule: of opinion, wealth, between groups, within organisations. Political objects are unclear and ill-defined; because of the problems of distraction, the resolution of these dichotomies is elusive.

The Human Path: 10 – Politics at Vanishing Point

Perspectics, delineation and contexts

A catalyst for freedom of thought is recession; as we recede from political polarities, their contingency emerges; disagreement is clarified. Two rotating and coherent political objects remain. Recede further and the perimeter of contention is perfectly illuminated. With further distance still, the two independent points, viewed on a complex field of alternative contentions, seem close. Relative to the surrounding mass of unconnected political objects, the pair of entangled views have chiefly their similarities in common, for example the topic of their disagreement. At infinite political distance, their real nature is apparent and a coextensive single entity discovered. This is the opposite of a dialectical analysis; there is no hypothesis or antithesis spawning a synthesis. Instead, unity is arrived at with an analytical distance. The political object is real within a local context when analysed within a proximate space and time. When measured with sufficient allowance for the contingencies of time and space, its meaning dissolves, and is solidified only upon comparison with its partners. The use of political perspectics rarefies consideration of ‘issues’, encourages rational discourse, and galvanises contemporary discourse against future corrosive evaluation by the detached analysts of the Human Future. As we recede from an issue, unfettered critique geminates.

The Human Path: 15 – Programmatic Endogeny

A serious evaluation of the Humans’ predicament will not ignore the relationship between human achievement and human misery. Tract upon tract of human territory exists in suboptimal condition; underdeveloped and rotten. Similarly, for each human individual living in at least relative comfort, there are perhaps two who do not. Capital has created shining beacons of achievement, but their very scarcity points to a fundamental dysfunction. Arguments about relative levels of regulation or taxation within the global free market belie a more concrete necessary discourse. The permanent leverage advanced national economies exert over the tenant economies of the poorer territories will not simply even out, too powerful is their current advantage; convergence is unlikely. Conversely, blame and agency must not be apportioned to the firms, individuals and governments of the richer countries. The complex economic relationships between the poor world and the rich are now intrinsic and inextricable. Poor relative economic conditions exist in pockets of the rich countries, and great wealth coheres in the capitals and boardrooms of the poor. As economic flows broaden and equilibria becomes rarer, categorising nations by relative wealth will lose meaning. Economic self-determination is desirable but any endogeny is sporadic and exception rather than rule. A tyranny of monopoly emerges, whether by state, region or corporation. Great resistance, fueled by resentment at material superiority, overspills into fear and intolerance. Internal or external inequalities are both damaging to social coherence and even inherent to unregulated capitalist economies. Piecemeal legislative attempts to ameliorate the excesses of prevailing disequilibria will fail, since capital suborns unenlightened political processes. Lastly, no serious rational alternatives to the prevalent accidental modes of economic relations have been systematically attempted – there is then no practical evidential base to justify the Humans’ economic system. Locally real, programmatic endogeny is therefore necessary as a precondition of productive permanence, in order to secure lasting capacity and avoid distracting conflict en route. ‘Programmatic’ means coordinated, democratic and phased; ‘endogeny’ refers to a chiefly internal and self-ordered economic dynamic. A priority is given to longer-term investment and the temporal consequences of economic activity. Societal aims and intentions are explicit; economic activity serves these aims. Resources and the benefits of local resources are chiefly locally held and invested, and capital flows are transparent. Since global interconnectedness is real, no islands of economic uncertainty can exist; there can be no leakage or waste. This shift is chiefly a psychological and political one; the human planet realm of human activity is no longer a broad space for exploitation and acquisition but rather a narrow venue and limited vehicle for achievement.