Practice Makes Perfect
...but can be dangerous. So it is
betterr to have a "dry run" -in the form of a simulation, or a game
-where essential skills can be practiced, or complex situations can be
investigated without the danger of anything disasterous happening.
Doing Something "not for real"
...is much safer, but in a sense, divorces the original process from its original (or normal) function.
The "not for real" aspect shifts the focus away from the
efectiveness of the result (because the final result is excluded from
the process -for saftyreasons) thus shifting the focus of attention
towards the nature of the process itself.
This tends to create a meta-process (partly because one is also forced to study the process in order to emulate it).
The intention behind the creation of a Meta-System is not to change the
state of an existing system (as one would normally do in practical
situations) -but to create a new "system/process" (time/space machine)
which is a (non-functioning) emulation of an existing functional
system: Or, to be precice -if thinking in system terms -one
creates a new process, which needs to be embedded in a system
which forms its (defining) environment.
Generally speaking: Kids play games and intellectuals create Meta-Systems..... but the process is probably the same....
"Playing the Game" is not about winning:
In the days before sport became commercialised -it was sometimes said that British wars were won on the playing fields of Eton.
Presumably, this is a reference to the way, historically, Britain has
often managed to turn both success and defeat on the battlefield into
long-term diplomatic victory. Britain also had a tradition of "playing
for the sake of the game" and not for the sake of winning. A tradition
that was apparently encouraged at Eton -an expensicve (boarding) school
where many important people sent their children.
Perhaps as a result, for example: The Anglo-American (guerrilla) War of
Independance, was lost by the British -and yet still managed to produce
a close politcal. cultural and economic relationship (perhaps
unfortunately, some might say) which has lasted many years.
Physical and Conceptual:
Of course, the same process that
creates "Games"and "Meta-Systems" also creates "models" -which can be
seen (in practical terms) as
being "concrete" Meta-Systems....
In practice this
view becomes complicated by the fact that it is perhaps easier to
physical model as being a kind of practical (and physical) Meta-system
-but less easy to maintain the same viewpoint in reverse -when
a non-physical (conceptual) "Meta-System" as a conceptualisation of a
physical model. This is probably because western
cultural traditions conditioned us to equate "practical" with
"physical" and so it can become difficult to see the parallels between
conceptual and practical systems, Perhaps an unfortunate example of
this is the way modern digital theory seems to view "digitization" in
terms of "dematerialisation" -which, it then appears to assume, implies
that there are no restraints at all any more: Apparently failing to see
that although all physical restraints may have been removed -this does
not imply that all conceptual restraints can, or should, also disappear.
If one can equate "models"with Meta-systems -then one can also relate the concept of "language" to the concept of "model".
It then apears that a "language"is a set of procedures that allow the
generation of models (all of which have the shared characterisitics
that are the consequences of the syntax of the system).
Of course, fundamental to the acceptance of this position is the
acceptance of "language" as a "syntactic" system -which then has
an additional "semantic" layer -so that the concept of "language" does
not automatically imply a related "meaning".
Within a semantic based philosophical tradition (such as we are used to
in the west) this is probably a difficult step to take.... Howeve, it
is probably essential -or we shall be looking for "meaning" at a stage
where it does not yet exist -and our understanding of the linguistic
process will automatiocally become distorted.
Perfection knows no Improvement:
On a practical level -this all boils down to the simple question:
How do things work -and how can they be made to work better?
Unfortunately, this simple question
also leads to a whole maze of very complicated answers -almost all of
which end up by asking even more questions than they ever get around to
Questions like: How do we know that we have got the answer right?
-and how do we know there isn't an even better answer?
Simultaniously Bigger and Smaller:
Basically, on the meta-level, one is studying the process and not the
meaning of the process.....
.....unless of course the
situation is made even more complicated because we are studying a
process in which the implications and
meaning of the process is an essential part of the process itself.
This would imply that the term "abstraction" is bsically concerned with
This may sound a little confusing -because one might
associate a meta-process with something that operates on a "higher"
level -while "abstraction" tends to suggest that much has been removed
(or lost) and so the 'abstraction" is (in some way) smaller than the
I guess the solution to this is that the "meta-system"
"encompasses" the original -but does so by ignoring all non-essential
aspects of the original...... Perhaps it is only our conditioning with
regard to thinking in terms of the physical universe (perhaps even when thinking abstractly) that prevents us from imagining
something that encompasses something else which is larger than
However, in an "abstract" world of
thought -we must sometimes learn to
think in terms of the actual qualities that we have invented (with all
the possibilities and restraints that this implies) -without
trying to imagine possible counterparts in the real world.
Perhaps this explains why "religious" thinkers have sometimes made
such important philosophical contributions -because they are used to
contemplating the non-physical. In fact, their logic of trying to
understand the non-physical in terms of the pysical is probably the
reverse of the way most people (with the possible exception of artists)
-as most people seem to think from the non-physical (example) to
physical and practical (implementation).....
The Apple and the Snake:
Indeed, the complexity and dangers of the Meta/Model process -have for
a long time suggested to me that these dangers may well represent the "message" hidden in the
biblical myth of Adam and the apple:
Literally, once one has eaten from
the tree of knowledge -then the simple joys of innocence are gone
The price of attemting to "beat the
system" in order to transcend the
limitations of one's own existance -can be very high indeed. Not only
is there a big chance of failure -and getting lost along the
way -but, in many cases, the dangers of success can be greater than
Knowledge is Power:
If knowlege gives power -and power corrupts -then, presumably, knowledge corrupts too!
Perhaps this is why many traditional
knowledge systems appear to have built in "defense" systems that
attempt to exclude those who would abuse the knowledge -as indeed
perhaps there ars systems of knowledge (perhaps increasingly our own
western educational system) which is actually intent on abusing
knowlege by using the resulting power for selfish ends....
If Time/Space is primarily concerned with "Process" -then Language is (Time/Space related system) primarily concerned with "understanding" .
Either the search for understanding (syntax) -or the expression of understanding (semantics).....
While Grammar articulates space:
Interpretation defines and "understands" the implications (meaning) of space....
Manila, September 18 2006