Everything is Four

August 22, 2019

Is everything four? Some try to prove it with a numerological trick. Take a word. Count its letters. Convert the number to words. Count letters. Repeat. Every English word seems to end up on four or 4, with nowhere else to go! Voila!

Since I’ve searched for this topic, a musician has released an album with this title. Cool!

But what do I mean by it? Everything can be divided into four parts, or has four aspects, or four sides, or what? I’m not sure, exactly.

But let’s test it against Alfred Whitehead’s Criteria for Metaphysical Theories!

  • Is it consistent? Yes! That is, nothing in the theory contradicts other parts of the theory, because there are no other parts. And if something is part of a foursome, that something can also be a foursome (even if an arbitrary one).
  • Is it coherent? Yes! That is, the theory is logically whole, such as it is. A bit boring? Perhaps…
  • Is it applicable? Yes! That is, we can apply our method to reduce something to four parts to everything, as long as we don’t care what the parts are. Plus we can combine anything with three other things, ad nauseum!
  • Is it adequate? No, not really. It does little to explain itself or the rest of the world.

So, we must continue our search for our ultimate metaphysical theory. It must be everything is four, plus something else… plus two more somethings…

Further Reading:










Grid-Group Cultural Theory, V2

August 19, 2019

The Grid-Group Cultural Theory (also known as the Cultural Theory of Risk) originated from the studies of anthropologist Mary Douglas and political scientist Aaron Wildavsky. Grid and Group are two dimensions of sociality, each with a low and high value: Grid measures the differentiation between people (so low grid means people are similar), and Group measures the cohesion or social bonds between people (so low group means people do not have strong bonds).

From Wikipedia:

A “high group” way of life exhibits a high degree of collective control, whereas a “low group” one exhibits a much lower one and a resulting emphasis on individual self-sufficiency. A “high grid” way of life is characterized by conspicuous and durable forms of stratification in roles and authority, whereas a “low grid” one reflects a more egalitarian ordering.

And so:

  • Individualist: Low group and low grid, Nature is robust
  • Fatalist: Low group and high grid, Nature is capricious
  • Hierarchist: High group and high grid, Nature is tolerant
  • Egalitarian: High group and low grid, Nature is fragile

Further Reading:




[*4.86, *8.112, *11.4, *11.5]



Humankind’s Main Feature

August 17, 2019

What is the most distinctive attribute of the human species? What will be our legacy? Is it…

Further Reading:






I kind of like Homo Occisor for “Man the Killer”, but Homo Necans is already out there.

[*8.135, *11.139]


Writing the Book of the World

August 10, 2019

If one was writing a book that described the entire world or universe as it is, how should that book present the world to us? It is not enough to speak truly, itemizing “all that is the case”, one must also use the right notions while doing so.

Philosopher Theodore Sider wants us to accept structure as the all important fundamental notion of how to talk about the world. His idea of structure is that it reveals where the joints or articulations of the world can be carved, and that the structure of the world is real and it is objective. Structure is the right and proper way to find these joints, and go about this carving.

(Of course the structure that Sider promotes is not to be confused with the structuralism of linguistics and anthropology that was so popular before deconstruction and post-modernism critiqued it nearly to death. This post is not about structuralism because its structure is a reflection of language and the mind itself, not an attribute of the actual world.)

Chapters 1-8 are titled: Structure, Primitivism, Connections, Substantivity, Metametaphysics, Beyond the Predicate, Questions, and Rivals. Chapters 9-12 are devoted to ontology, logic, time, and modality (because I guess these are favorite topics in metaphysics) and what structure tells us about them. I don’t think Sider is saying that reality is carved naturally into these four domains, but I think it makes a rather nice fourfold.

In Metaphysics, Ontology is another word for Being, but it can also mean a classification system for the different kinds of things that exist (but I guess that’s not metaphysical). Modality is the Metaphysical or Epistemic study of necessity and possibility, so it is certainly related to time. There are also modal logics which have quantifiers for modalities such as necessity and possibility.

I closing I must say that once you carve up some structure by its joints, then you are left with parts, which may be structures in their own right. And as I’ve posited elsewhere, functions and actions are the structures and parts of time. I also wonder if there is a comparison of Sider’s structure to the metaphysics of E. J. Lowe, but perhaps I should just read each of their work.

Further Reading:

Theodore Sider / Writing the Book of the World


Some reviews:





Review that needs registration to read:

[*9.8, *11.112]



The Four Types of Knowledge

August 3, 2019

What types of knowledge are there?

In his Nicomachean Ethics (Book VI), Aristotle famously describes several intellectual virtues. There is Techne, or Art; Episteme, or Knowledge, Phronesis, or Prudence, Sophia, or Wisdom, and Nous, or Intellect. He considered Sophia a combination of Nous and Episteme, but some others think it stands alone. Nous also seems to be more subjective, as well as supplying Phronesis with its aims, but is complicated. So are there three types, or five? I would like there to be four, thank you very much.

In Venharanta and Markopoulos’s paper, Phronesis seems to be the balance or sum of Techne, Episteme, and Sophia. In Carsten Pedersen’s web article, Techne, Episteme, Sophia, and Phronesis form a fourfold, with Nous in the center. Jon Alan Schmidt, a member of Virtuous Engineers, distinguishes between kinds of knowledge (Techne, Episteme, and Phronesis) and forms of human activity associated with them (Poiesis, Theoria, and Praxis). I like this distinction. What is the activity associated with Sophia?

Not knowing any Greek puts me at a disadvantage. Nous is linked to Noesis as a type of knowledge and Noein which seems to be the activity. I will present the following table and see how I like it!

Forms of
Human Activity
Types of
Theoria Episteme Science
Praxis Phronesis Prudence
Poiesis Techne Craft
Noein Sophia Wisdom

Further Reading:







It’s all Greek to me: The terms ‘praxis’ and ‘phronesis’ in environmental philosophy

Knowledge for Aristotle & Plato

Kurt von Fritz / ΝΟΥΣ, Noein, and Their Derivatives in Pre-Socratic Philosophy (Excluding Anaxagoras):
Part I. From the Beginnings to Parmenides, Classical Philology, Vol. 40, No. 4 (Oct., 1945), pp. 223-242 https://www.jstor.org/stable/265805

Kurt von Fritz / ΝΟΥΣ, Noein, and Their Derivatives in Pre-Socratic Philosophy (Excluding Anaxagoras):
Part II. The Post-Parmenidean Period, Classical Philology, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Jan., 1946), pp. 12-34

Vanharanta H., Markopoulos E. / Visualization of the Wisdom Cube Scientific Knowledge Space for Management and Leadership. In: Kantola J., Nazir S. (eds) Advances in Human Factors, Business Management and Leadership. AHFE 2019. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 961. Springer https://doi.org/10.1007

In Danish (English via Chrome translation):

Bent Flyvjerg / Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How it Can Succeed Again

Interesting Anime:

[*3.34, *11.130]


Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution

July 19, 2019

There seems to be rather a lot written about Conflict Management (CM) and Conflict Resolution (CR). CM is a key activity in the business world, as conflict arises both within a business between the individuals that comprise it and without a business when they compete with each other.

CM realizes the grim reality that conflict will always be with us, whereas CR at least hopes for an end of the particular disagreement. CM tries to investigate and detail how one can learn from conflict, and reduce its disruptive forces or use it to advantage. As we know, capitalism is chock-full of aggressive metaphors and ideologies.

There are several models of conflict but they mostly have two measures: assertiveness or “concern for self”, and cooperativeness or “concern for others”. The models usually place a fifth term in the middle, labeled “compromising”.

  • Low assertiveness, low cooperativeness: Avoiding
  • High assertiveness, low cooperativeness: Dominating
  • Low assertiveness, high cooperativeness: Obliging
  • High assertiveness, high cooperativeness: Integrating

It would be interesting at this time to say how this subject matter relates to the fourfold Means and Ends, since they are obviously connected and even share several of the same terms. However, I just can’t seem to inspire myself to investigate and say anything worthwhile right now.

I haven’t disentangled the history of the subject, so I’m not going to name originators or contributors just yet. I guess I really don’t like conflict and it just makes me generally tired to contemplate it, even in the abstract. I guess you can just put me in the “avoiding” pigeonhole.

Avoiding this subject has lead me to another one, that of Gregory Bateson and his schismogenesis. Perhaps the opposite of combogenesis (mentioned previously), this concept seems to be helpful in understanding conflict escalation. Would this idea help in thinking about division of cultural groups (discussed here)?

Further Reading:











The Known Knowns of Donald Rumsfeld

July 9, 2019

The stars madden, and satellites hum silently
Where no sound can awaken a sleeper. She dreams
A language which cannot trouble her, a vocabulary

Without voice. She has forgotten the ugly grammar,
The deformed sentences. She has forgotten
The irregularities of memory, the unknown knowns,

The can-no-longer-remembers, the slow impeachment
Of experience. She rises, stunned and serene,
Toward the promise of nothing.

— From Sad-faced Men, by William Logan

  • Known Knowns: what we know we know
  • Known Unknowns: what we know we don’t know
  • Unknown Unknowns: what we don’t know we don’t know
  • Unknown Knowns: what we don’t know that we know

Further Reading:




The Known Unknowns Matrix



Also see:

The Johari Window

The Quadralectics of Marten Kuilman




The Arcane Arts of Ramon Llull : the Dignities

July 7, 2019

Oh, Ramon Llull, where have you been all my life? I’m sure he’s been there all along, death now over seven hundred years in the past, just like always. His legacy seems at first glance to be quite the essence of medieval religion and scholastic philosophy, but still significantly and obscurely different to be enticing to this one. And on further examination, much more.

My schema above has little to do with his grand elaborate figures, except for listing the sixteen attributes he called “dignities”. Llull’s diagrams are full of clock-like wheels within wheels, complicated tableau, and combinatorial patterns. He wished to create a universal model to understand reality, and who wouldn’t want to discover the same? It is said that his methods are akin to an early computer science, and I’m just now starting to understand why.

The magister based the substance of his methods on his Christian faith, although he converted in midlife from Islam. Living in Barcelona, it was probably a good place to make such a change, but felt his calling was to convert others as well, so traveling he went. The methods he developed to convince others of their errors in belief were quite remarkable, as were the volume of his writing.

Like Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who lived four hundred years later and was influenced by him, Llull wished to automate reasoning. But instead of building mechanical devices, Llull built computers from paper and ink, rulers and drawing compasses, scissors and glue. And instead of numbers as the smallest tokens of his computer, he used abstractions (i.e. words) that he felt would be understood by everyone in exactly the same way.

For example, he enumerated these sixteen dignities or aspects of his Christian diety, although sometimes he used the first nine. His constructions allowed one to pose questions and then obtain answers mechanistically that would be convincing to all observers of the correctness of the result. Too bad he was ultimately stoned to death while on his missionary work, although he lived to be eighty two.

Llull’s devices remind me of some of my pitiful charts and diagrams, and make me wonder if I may either adapt some of his techniques to my own use, or be inspired to develop others. I suspect I have locked myself into limitations by my approach, or are these constraints to my advantage? It might be hard to have spinning elements, but I can envision sliding elements like Napier’s Bones, origami-style folding and pleating, and even physical constructions like linkages and abacuses.

Now a martyr within the Franciscan Order, Llull’s feast day is June 30, which I’ve now missed. I hope to remember him to repost or improve on this by next year.

Further Reading:






“Let us Calculate!”: Leibniz, Llull, and the Computational Imagination



The memory wheel




Tanabata, V2

July 3, 2019

Soon it will be Tanabata (七夕) in Japan on July 7th.

Make a wish!

  • Orihime : Vega
  • Hikoboshi : Altair
  • Bridge of Birds : Deneb
  • Silver River : Milky Way

Further Reading:




[*10.48, *11.114]


Richard McKeon’s Aspects of Knowing, Part 3

July 1, 2019

Previously on this blog:

Each method can be associated with a discursive process: operational with debate, dialectical with dialogue, logistic with proof, and problematic with inquiry. Each method is also associated with a mode of thought which in turn has two moments and one dependency or assumption: the operational method is debate by discrimination and postulation dependent on chosen theses, the dialectical method is dialogue by assimilation and exemplification dependent on changeless models, the logistic method is proof by construction and decomposition dependent on indivisible constituents, and the problematic method is inquiry by resolution and question dependent on discoverable causes.

For this diagram, the four dependencies or assumptions are in the center, and the associated methods are adjacent to them. Filling out the outer edge are the four pairs of moments. Listed, these facets are:

  • Methods (associated discursive process): Operational (Debate), Dialectical (Dialogue), Logistic (Proof), Problematic (Inquiry)
  • Assumptions: Chosen Theses, Changeless Models, Indivisible Constituents, Discoverable Causes
  • Modes of Thought: discrimination and postulation, assimilation and exemplification, construction and decomposition, resolution and question

The second diagram comes from a chart in McKeon’s “Philosophic Semantics and Philosophic Inquiry”. Here, the four methods are in the upper left corner (Universal) and lower right corner (Particular), and four principles are in the lower left corner (Meroscopic) and upper right corner (Holoscopic). Four interpretations are in the center (the vertical pair is Ontic, and the horizontal pair is Phenomenal), and four selections are adjacent to them. Listed, these facets are:

  • Methods: Operational, Dialectical, Logistic, Problematic
  • Principles: Simple, Actional, Comprehensive, Reflexive
  • Interpretations: Existentialist, Entitative, Ontological, Essentialist
  • Selections: Knower (Types), Knowable (Matters), Knowledge (Hierarchies), Known (Kinds)

Note that the Archic Matrix of Watson and Dilworth is essentially derived from this, and even has many of the same terms. However and obviously, the sixteen-fold arrangements of the two diagrams are different.

Further Reading:





[*5.184, *5.185, *6.20, *11.102, *11.106]




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