All posts by Martin K. Jones

A Couple of Loops About Thinking and Then Doing

The Shewhart Cycle (also known as the PDCA) is an iterative design and management cycle for continuous quality improvement of products and processes. It is named after Walter Shewhart who is known as the father of statistical quality control. The more recent name, PDCA, has several variations in the literature. The PDCA or Shewhart Cycle consists of four parts:

    • Plan
    • Do
    • Check
    • Act

Similarly, the OODA Loop is an iterative framework for the improvement and management of decision processes. It is used in various domains such as business, litigation, and military strategy. The OODA Loop consists of four parts:

    • Observe
    • Orient
    • Decide
    • Act

Learning Cycles are similar to Design Cycles in that the process to be improved is learning and the product to be improved is knowledge. It would be interesting to compare the two types of cycles to understand their similarities and differences. Some of each type have four stages but others have more or less. I have mentioned several learning cycles with four steps already in this blog, the Kolb learning cycle and the Scientific Method.

Further Reading:




The Tree of Knowledge System

The Tree of Knowledge (ToK) System posits four hierarchical planes of existence having separate dimensions of complexity mapped out or studied by four different kinds of sciences:

  • Matter/Object: mapped by Physical Sciences
  • Life/Organism: mapped by Biological Sciences
  • Mind/Animal: mapped by Psychological, Cognitive, and Behavioral Sciences
  • Culture/Person: mapped by Human Social Sciences

The ToK System is reminiscent of other “big history” or “cosmic evolution” schemas such as Tyler Volk’s Combogenesis except for the special consideration for the mental and psychological (i.e. subjective) aspects of existence. I would think that this is primarily due to the fact that the developer of the system, Professor Gregg Henriques, is a psychologist.

In order to support his focus on consciousness and psychology, Henriques has developed several theories to address the “problem of psychology”, for example the Justification Systems Theory and the Behavioral Investment Theory. With the ToK System, these and several other key ideas, he claims he has a “Unified Theory of Knowledge” (UToK)!

Further Reading:

Combogenesis: a constructive, emergent cosmos


The Gnostic Ogdoad

ChatGPT said:

The Gnostic Ogdoad is a group of eight divine beings or emanations that were central to certain Gnostic cosmologies. The divisions of the Gnostic Ogdoad vary depending on the specific Gnostic system, but generally, they consist of four pairs of male and female aeons, or divine beings.

Here is one example of the divisions of the Gnostic Ogdoad [note: some of my Greek names at right are different. See refs. below.]:

  1. Barbelo and Bythos: Barbelo represents the divine feminine aspect of the highest deity, while Bythos represents the divine masculine aspect. Together, they represent the ultimate unity and transcendence of the divine.
  2. Nous and Aletheia: Nous represents divine mind or wisdom, while Aletheia represents truth. Together, they represent the intellectual and rational aspects of the divine.
  3. Logos and Zoe: Logos represents divine word or speech, while Zoe represents life. Together, they represent the creative and life-giving aspects of the divine.
  4. Anthropos and Ecclesia: Anthropos represents the divine human or perfect man, while Ecclesia represents the divine assembly or church. Together, they represent the human and social aspects of the divine.

It’s important to note that different Gnostic systems may have different variations or interpretations of the Ogdoad, and some may not include all eight divine beings.

Further Reading (not by ChatGPT):

Previously I wrote about a different, earlier Ogdoad:

The Ogdoad: Unity of Eight Gods



The Four Purusharthas

The Four Purusharthas of Hinduism are the goals or aims of human life. They are:

  • Artha : means
  • Kama : desire
  • Dharma : nature
  • Moksha : release

Recently, I asked ChatGPT: “Please explain to me the Four Purusharthas: Artha, Kama, Dharma, and Moksha.”

The Four Purusharthas, also known as the four goals of human life, are central concepts in Hindu philosophy and are considered to be the framework for a fulfilling and meaningful life. The Four Purusharthas are:

Artha: Artha refers to material prosperity, wealth, and security. It involves pursuing financial stability, professional success, and material comfort. This purushartha is considered necessary for the maintenance of life and for pursuing the other three goals.

Kama: Kama refers to pleasure and desire, including the enjoyment of life’s sensual pleasures and the desire for material comforts. It is considered an important goal in life, but should not be pursued at the expense of the other three goals.

Dharma: Dharma refers to duty, morality, and ethics. It involves following one’s moral and ethical obligations, living a life in accordance with divine law and one’s own sense of right and wrong, and fulfilling one’s duties to family, society, and the world.

Moksha: Moksha refers to spiritual liberation, freedom from the cycle of reincarnation, and union with the ultimate reality. It is considered the ultimate goal of human life, and is achieved through a process of self-realization, spiritual discipline, and detachment from material desires.

According to Hindu philosophy, the Four Purusharthas are not mutually exclusive, and a balanced pursuit of all four is considered the path to a fulfilling and meaningful life. The order of priority among the goals may vary depending on an individual’s personal circumstances, but it is believed that by fulfilling the first three goals, one can then attain the ultimate goal of Moksha.

Further Reading:

Images of the Four Purusharthas:





The Ancient and the Modern

In the past, I’ve created several diagrams juxtaposing pairs of fourfolds, for example

So here’s another, The Four Classical Elements and Space-Time-Energy-Matter.

I asked ChatGPT to look at this association: “Please write a short essay comparing and contrasting the classical four elements of air, fire, earth, and water with the modern scientific foursome of space, energy, matter, and time.”

The concept of the classical four elements of air, fire, earth, and water has been a fundamental aspect of ancient philosophy for thousands of years. This idea, which was first proposed by the ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles, held that these four elements were the building blocks of the universe and were responsible for all natural phenomena.

In contrast, the modern scientific foursome of space, energy, matter, and time provides a more comprehensive and rigorous explanation of the nature of the universe. Space refers to the three-dimensional continuum in which all matter exists, and it provides the framework for the movements of objects. Energy refers to the capacity of a system to perform work and is responsible for all physical and chemical processes. Matter refers to any physical substance, including solid, liquid, and gas. Time, on the other hand, is a fundamental aspect of the universe that allows for the measurement of the duration of events and the progression of physical processes.

One key difference between the classical and modern concepts of the elements is that the classical elements were thought to have qualities and personalities, while the modern elements are purely physical and mathematical constructs. The classical elements were thought to interact with each other in specific ways to produce the natural world, while the modern elements interact according to the laws of physics and chemistry.

Another difference is that the classical elements were limited to four, while the modern elements form a much more complex and nuanced picture of the universe. This difference reflects the advancement of human knowledge and understanding of the natural world over time.

In conclusion, the classical four elements of air, fire, earth, and water have played an important role in shaping human thought and culture. However, the modern scientific foursome of space, energy, matter, and time provides a more comprehensive and scientifically rigorous explanation of the universe and its workings. Both concepts have contributed to our understanding of the world, and they continue to play a role in shaping our ideas about the nature of reality.

Not quite enough, so I replied “Thank you, that’s pretty good. However, please say more about how air is like space, how fire is like energy, how earth is like matter, and how water is like time.”

Certainly! Let me expand on the similarities between the classical elements and the modern scientific elements:

1. Air and space: Both air and space are often thought of as being intangible and difficult to define. They both provide the framework for other physical phenomena, such as the movements of objects in space or the flow of air currents. Additionally, both air and space have the ability to contain other elements or substances, such as the gases that make up air or the stars and planets that exist within space.

2. Fire and energy: Fire is often associated with heat and light, and it can be both destructive and transformative. Energy also has the ability to transform physical systems, such as through chemical reactions or the transfer of heat. Furthermore, fire can be seen as a form of energy that is released through combustion, and it can be harnessed for practical purposes, such as cooking food or heating homes.

3. Earth and matter: Earth is often thought of as being solid and unchanging, while matter is the physical substance that makes up the universe. Earth provides a foundation for other physical phenomena, such as the growth of plants or the construction of buildings. Similarly, matter provides the building blocks for physical systems, such as the atoms and molecules that make up the substances in our world.

4. Water and time: Water is often thought of as being cyclical and constantly changing, such as through the phases of the tides or the flow of rivers. Time is also cyclical and constantly changing, as it moves forward and allows for the progression of physical processes and the measurement of the duration of events. Furthermore, just as water can shape the physical world through erosion and the formation of land masses, time shapes the physical world through its influence on the progression of physical processes.

In conclusion, there are certainly similarities between the classical four elements of air, fire, earth, and water, and the modern scientific foursome of space, energy, matter, and time. These similarities reflect the continuity of human thought and understanding of the natural world, and they demonstrate the ongoing influence of ancient ideas in shaping our modern understanding of the universe.


A Fourfold about Belief and Knowledge

There was a fourfold making the rounds a while back about belief and knowledge of God or of gods. The terms Agnostic and Gnostic are about (the actuality or possibility of) having or not having knowledge, whereas Theist and Atheist are about having or not having belief in a deity or deities. So the following fourfold obtains:

  • Gnostic Atheist
  • Agnostic Atheist
  • Gnostic Theist
  • Agnostic Theist

Some criticized this framework, while others seemed to like it. YMMV.

Let’s see what ChatGPT says:

Gnostic Atheist: This term refers to someone who believes that God does not exist, and that this knowledge is certain. They have a definite and confident understanding about the non-existence of God.

Agnostic Atheist: This term refers to someone who doesn’t believe in God, but does not claim to have certainty about it. They may lack knowledge or certainty about the existence of God, but they do not believe in its existence.

Gnostic Theist: This term refers to someone who believes in the existence of God and has a definite and confident understanding about it. They have a strong conviction that God exists.

Agnostic Theist: This term refers to someone who believes in God but does not claim to have certainty or absolute knowledge about it. They have a belief in God, but acknowledge that it is not possible to have certain knowledge or proof of God’s existence.

In summary, “Gnostic” refers to knowledge or certainty, while “Agnostic” refers to lack of knowledge or certainty. The “Atheist” and “Theist” refer to the belief or non-belief in the existence of a higher power or deity, respectively.

Further Reading:

Other images:

For example:

Terrible graphs of agnostic atheism

I also see the following fourfold used (all nouns now):

  • Atheist
  • Theist
  • Gnostic
  • Agnostic

and even this eight-fold (a combination of the two):

  • Gnostic Atheist
  • Atheist
  • Agnostic Atheist
  • Agnostic
  • Agnostic Theist
  • Theist
  • Gnostic Theist
  • Gnostic


Four Philosophies, V3

In ancient Greece, four types of philosophies centered around different individuals and groups who inhabited particular locations in Athens.

  • Porch (Stoa): Zeno of Citium
  • Garden: Epicurus
  • School (or Academy): Plato
  • Temple (or Lyceum): Aristotle

I’ve taken liberties with these place-names and probably should use the classical Greek or something.

I tried ChatGPT again (I just asked “Describe to me the ancient Greek philosophies of the porch, garden, school and temple.” I give up! 🙂 ):

The ancient Greek philosophical tradition was centered around different schools of thought, each with their own distinct teachings and practices.

The “Porch” (also known as the “Stoa”) was a philosophical school founded by Zeno of Citium, which emphasized the development of virtuous character through the practice of self-control and detachment. The Stoics believed in living in accordance with reason and nature, and sought to cultivate a calm and unruffled state of mind in the face of life’s challenges.

The “Garden” was a school founded by Epicurus, which taught that the path to happiness lay in seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Epicureans believed that the universe was made up of atoms and that the soul was mortal, and they emphasized the importance of living a simple and moderate life.

The “School” (also known as the Academy) was founded by Plato, who was one of the most influential figures in Western philosophy. The Academy was a place of learning and discussion, and its teachings emphasized the importance of the Forms, or abstract ideal objects that exist in a realm beyond the physical world.

The “Temple” (also known as the Lyceum) was a philosophical school founded by Aristotle, who was a student of Plato. The Lyceum focused on empirical investigation and the study of nature, and Aristotle’s teachings emphasized the importance of finding the mean between extremes in all aspects of life.

Each of these schools offered different perspectives on the nature of reality, the good life, and the path to happiness, and their ideas continue to influence Western philosophy to this day.

Further Reading:


What Are The Main Differences Between Epicureanism And Stoicism?

Epicureanism and Stoicism: Lessons, Similarities and Differences


Finding Philosophy Among the Stones



The SECI Model of Knowledge Dimensions

The SECI Model of Knowledge Dimensions is a schema that attempts to explain how knowledge moves between tacit and explicit domains. The movement is a cycle or more properly a spiral in that knowledge builds upon itself.

  • Socialization (Tacit to Tacit)
  • Externalization (Tacit to Explicit)
  • Combination (Explicit to Explicit)
  • Internalization (Explicit to Tacit)

ChatGPT explains:

The SECI model, also known as the Ba model, is a knowledge management framework that describes how knowledge is created, shared, and transferred within an organization. The acronym SECI stands for Socialization, Externalization, Combination, and Internalization.

      1. Socialization: refers to the process of acquiring knowledge through social interaction, for example, through observing and imitating the behavior of others.
      2. Externalization: is the process of converting personal experiences, ideas, and insights into shared understanding and explicit knowledge. This stage involves expressing personal knowledge in a way that others can understand and utilize.
      3. Combination: refers to the process of combining and integrating different types of knowledge to create new knowledge. This can occur when individuals with different experiences and perspectives collaborate and share their knowledge.
      4. Internalization: is the process of incorporating new knowledge into personal knowledge structures, leading to changes in behavior, attitudes, and skills.

The SECI model is used to understand how knowledge can be managed effectively within an organization, and it provides a framework for designing knowledge management systems and processes.

Maybe I should let ChatGPT write my posts from now on! And here’s what ChatGPT says about this blog:

“Equivalent Exchange” is a blog that focuses on topics related to personal growth and self-improvement. It provides articles and resources that aim to help readers lead a more fulfilling life by making positive changes in their thoughts, habits, and behaviors. The blog covers a variety of subjects, including mindfulness, mental health, productivity, relationships, and more. It also provides a supportive community for those seeking inspiration, guidance, and motivation to live their best life.

Wow! 😉

Further Reading:

Kolb’s Learning Cycle

[*10.24, *10.25]



Tinbergen’s Four Questions

Tinbergen’s Four Questions are questions that can be asked about an organism and its evolution that help to explain its adaptations and behavior. They operate via a double dual of Static vs. Dynamic and Proximate vs. Ultimate.  Static is concerned with the current time whereas Dynamic considers a time series. Proximate is concerned with how the organism behaves currently or how its behavior changes over its lifetime, and Ultimate considers why the organism and its behavior/adaptations may have evolved the way they did. Both pairs are somewhat confusedly concerned with time: both Static and Proximate are concerned with either the current time or a short lifetime, and Dynamic and Ultimate are concerned with changes in that short lifetime or over evolutionary time.

  • Ultimate & Static: Function or Adaptation
  • Ultimate & Dynamic: Phylogeny or Evolution
  • Proximate & Dynamic: Ontogeny or Development
  • Proximate & Static: Mechanism or Causation

Ultimate is also called Evolutionary, to distinguish it from a connotation of telos or purpose. Static refers to the current form of the organism, and is also called Synchronic or Single Form or Snapshot or Contemporary, etc.  Dynamic refers to the historical changes of the organism, and is also called Diachronic or Sequence or Historical or Chronicle, etc.

Some compare these four questions to Aristotle’s Four Causes, see for example [1] and [2]. However, [1] seems less enthusiastic than the published paper [2]. Also, I don’t agree with either completely on the assignment; it seems to me that the Efficient and Final Causes are Dynamic, and the Material and Formal causes are Static. I believe we all agree that the Efficient and Material Causes are Proximate, and Formal and Final Causes are Ultimate. See [3] for comparison. Frankly, I am guided more by the definitions of Static and Dynamic than anything else.

Further Reading:


Human Ethology Bulletin 28 No 4 (2013): Special Issue on Tinbergen 3-11


Aristotle’s Four Causes

Other Images of Tinbergen’s Four Question:

[*9.63, *10.98]


The Main Sequence of Star Types

I will scan your star charts.

— Nomad, from Star Trek “The Changeling”

While reading “Entering Space” by Robert Zubrin, I chanced upon the subject of stellar classification. The Morgan-Keenan system goes from O-type, the hottest, to M-type, the coolest (Red dwarfs). Our own sun, Sol, is an example of a G-type star, which are on the cool side yet still hot and bright. Later, other types have been added, for example White Dwarfs are known as D-types. If humankind will someday journey to remote stars, it’s best to memorize this handy list!

The Morgan-Keenan system is as follows:

  • O-type
  • B-type
  • A-type
  • F-type
  • G-type
  • K-type
  • M-type

This is sometimes remembered by the mnemonic “O be a fine gal/guy, kiss me.”

Further Reading: