Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

The Free Will Theorem

November 4, 2019

The Free Will Theorem of Conway and Kochen is an interesting argument that tries to suggest free will goes “all the way down”. If experimenters can make their choices freely on how to measure certain experiments then the elementary particles being measured can make “free choices” as well. But the contrapositive of this result seems more interesting to me: if some elementary particles are not free, then the experimenters aren’t either!

I’ve cheated some here because it is really based on three axioms or assumptions, and not four. All for the sake of science (and philosophy)!

  • Fin : Information transmission has a maximal (finite) speed, and obtains from causality
  • Twin : For two elementary particles, it is possible to quantum “entangle” them, separate them significantly, and measure the square of their spin in parallel directions (but “full entanglement” is not required)
  • Spin : For certain elementary particles of spin one (the vector or gauge bosons: gluons, photons, Z and W), the squared spin component (taken in three orthogonal directions) will be a permutation of (1,1,0)
  • Min : Instead of Fin, the weaker assumption Min states that the spin measurers need only be “space-like” separated and make choices independently of each other
  • Lin : Instead of Fin or Min, Lin is an even weaker assumption that rests on experimentally testable “Lorentz Covariance”

If nothing else, trying to understand this theorem teaches you a bit about elementary particles and quantum physics!

Further Reading:



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:






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

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

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]


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



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]




The Fourth Way

April 20, 2019

“The Fourth Way” is the title of a 1957 book by Russian esotericist P. D. Ouspensky that is supposed to be about the self-development methods of the mystic/philosopher/teacher G. I. Gurdjieff. Ouspensky was a student of Gurdjieff for a significant part of his life until there was a parting of the ways. This book was published after Ouspensky died in 1947. A substantial amount of it is constructed in questions and answers, as a teacher might answer their student’s questions.

Ouspensky’s first book in 1909 was about the fourth dimension, which was much in the public consciousness in the first few years after Einstein published his theory of special relativity. His second book was titled “Tertium Organum”, or the third canon of thought, after Aristotle’s first and Francis Bacon’s second. Ouspensky’s third book “A New Model of the Universe” continued in this way, linking science with spirituality, or at least consciousness.

What is a person or what are the aspects of a person? Is a person a machine? A physicalist thinks that a person is their body, and the mind is what the brain does. A dualist thinks that a person has a body as well as a separate mind, but we know that the mind is dependent on the body for operation and it can be diminished by injury, neglect, or abuse. There are other aspects of the person, such as the emotions or “heart”, which are somewhere between the body and the mind.

And if you search on the web, “soul” or “spirit” are often shown in images along side body, mind, and mood, but these terms are imprecise. Sometimes soul is defined as spirit, sometimes spirit as soul. It is difficult to determine what is meant by them, but they are usually of a higher-order nature than the physical or mental or emotional. It is usually what remains the same for a person, the still point of a changing self, regardless if that endures after death.

  • Body
  • Mind
  • Mood (Heart or Emotions)
  • and Spirit?
  • or Soul?
  • or Balance?

Various schools of spiritual people concentrate on the control and discipline of different aspects of the self: the physical for the Fakir, the mental for the Yogi, and emotions for the Monk. These are the first three historical ways for self-development, but they require separation from the normal social world, and neglect the other aspects of the self. The Fourth Way was said to require no extreme separation, and to develop body, mind, and mood in a balanced way.

Gurdjieff thought that most if not all people were machines because they were “asleep at the wheel” (my metaphor), the wheel being the control of their own consciousness. Similar to the practice of lucid dreaming, these teachings (also called “the work” or “the system”) purported to develop the conscious self into something much more than ordinary awareness. This aware self would have access to all sorts of abilities that remain hidden or dormant in most of us.

The Fourth Way is also said to be the way of the “sly man”, but to be sly is to be crafty, cunning, and tricky. If you are sly you are deceitful or a charlatan, dishonest and evasive, a “rogue”. You take advantage of people, or you game the social system. Are there any truth to these teachings, or were they merely a way that Gurdjieff found to make an easy living? If not, why call it the way of the “sly man”? On the other hand, who doesn’t want to develop their best selves in the most efficient and clever way?

  • Fakir: Physical
  • Yogi: Mental
  • Monk: Emotions
  • Rogue: Balance or ?

I also read that “sly man” is a translation of the French “le ruse”. The idea behind this name is for a person that takes advantage of opportunities in their normal life to development their awareness, rather than just their attitude towards others. And so it’s a posture towards the broader world, not just towards people. If I had a short word to substitute for “rogue” in the above diagram, I might do so, to prevent the negative impression I might be giving. But the term “rogue” is probably less offensive that it used to be, so I’ll keep it for now.

Yet people do love to be deceived. They love to be entertained, and they love a good story with charismatic characters. They also love to hear what they want to hear. Perhaps that’s all these teachings really were and are. And yet, many artists, writers, and thinkers have embraced the ideas of this fourth way. Certainly to enhance one’s consciousness is a positive thing to do, or to eliminate erroneous or harmful thought, or to “know thyself”. Socrates taught that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Perhaps there is some worth to these teachings after all, but a person may have to determine this for themselves.

Further Reading:

Tertium Organum online:

Some videos to entertain found by searching for “fourth way” and “sly man”:

[*10.168, *11.48]



Noether-Pauli-Jung, V2

April 10, 2019

What happens when the fourfold of Noether’s Theorem is spliced together with the fourfold of Pauli-Jung? Both have Space-Time and Matter-Energy. The former has Conservation and Symmetry, and the latter has Causality and Synchronicity. And if Space-Time and Matter-Energy are both divided into Space and Time and Matter and Energy, one obtains this eight-fold.

Causality means that some action or cause in time (say a process) of things in space can have an effect (another process, say) on different things in space, and Synchronicity means that different events (say processes) separated in space can have non-causal relationships between them.  Conservation means the consistency of a quantity of matter or energy or matter-energy through time, and Symmetry means the consistency of a measure of a structure or form through space.

I am reminded of my fourfold Four Bindings, consisting of Chains, Grids, Blocks, and Cycles. Causality and Synchronicity are Chains (or non-chains for the latter) Space and Time are Grids (or flexible meshes), Matter and Energy are Blocks (or chunks of stuff), and Symmetry or Conservation are Cycles (of the group-theoretic kind or the equivalence class kind or just loops).

Further Reading:

This is a reworking of a previous six-fold diagram that I believe is served better as an eight-fold.

[*10.68, *10.155, *11.55]


An Eightfold Metaphysics

February 1, 2019

If one juxtaposes the fourfold Space-Time-Matter-Energy with the fourfold Structure-Function-Part-Action, one sees that there are several relations between them. These are simple common-sense relations, not modern-physics types of relations. Below they are listed by Space-type relations and Time-type relations.

Space is required for the extension of Structures.
Matter constitutes Structures.
Parts in an arrangement make up Structures.

Structures extend and are organized in Space.
Matter is located in Space.
Parts occupy Space.

Time allows the expression of Functions.
Energy is required for the operation of Functions.
Actions in a sequence constitute Functions.

Functions have duration and reoccur in Time.
Energy requires and is dependent on Time.
Actions take place within Time.

Several analogies are also evident in this diagram.

  1. Space : Structures :: Time : Functions
  2. Space : Parts :: Time : Actions
  3. Space : Matter :: Time : Energy
  4. Structures : Parts :: Functions : Actions
  5. Structures : Matter :: Functions : Energy
  6. Parts : Matter :: Actions : Energy

Notice that analogies 1.-3. are “contains” relations, and 4.-6. are “part of” relations. One obtains the nesting of entities:

Space > Structures > Parts > Matter
Time > Functions > Actions > Energy

I suppose that any analogy could be shown in a figure like the one on the right (or even written as A / B // C / D) or with the two squares side by side, and that sets of four or six analogies that overlap could be nicely shown as above. If so, I wonder what can be gained by such representations? Probably individually not so much but with overlaps I think it would be interesting.

Further Reading:

The study of parts and wholes relations is called Mereology.

[*10.157, *11.26, *11.34]



The Rosetta Stone of Arthur M. Young

January 27, 2019

In his book “The Geometry of Meaning”, Arthur M. Young developed a system which he called his “Rosetta Stone” because he claimed that it associated mental attributes to some physical measurements, giving a kind of map to mind-body dualism. In the above diagram the expressions and names of these twelve objective values or physical units are shown. Examine the list below to see the twelve subjective values or mental attributes (shown in parentheses) that Young ascribed to them.

I’ve rearranged the sequence of these somewhat because I don’t quite understand the reasons for the organization Young gave them. I’ve also relabeled the units using the more standard derivative notation L’ = dL/dT, L” = d^2 L/ dT^2, etc. His notation is given at the end of each line below in parentheses for comparison (essentially he removes the d’s from the derivatives, writing dL/dT as L/T, which seems confusing to me when then multiplied by L).

Given the measurement Position or Length (L), Moment is Mass (M) times Position giving ML, and Moment of Inertia is Moment (ML) times Position giving ML^2. Velocity (L’), Acceleration (L”), and Control (L”’) have similarly related pairs of values by multiplying each by M and by ML. This gives four sets of similar expressions differing by their common derivative. I should have probably named the 1st set to be 0th, 2nd set to be 1st, 3rd set to be 2nd, and 4th set to be 3rd after the order of the common derivative.

  • Position (Observation): L
  • Moment (Significance): ML
  • Moment of Inertia (Faith): ML^2
  • Velocity (Change): L′ (L/T)
  • Momentum (Transformation): ML′ (ML/T)
  • Action (Impulse): MLL′ (ML^2/T)
  • Acceleration (Spontaneous act): L” (L/T^2)
  • Force (Being): ML” (ML/T^2)
  • Work (Fact): MLL” (ML^2/T^2)
  • Control (Control): L′′′ (L/T^3)
  • Mass Control (Establishment): ML′′′ (ML/T^3)
  • Power (Knowledge): MLL′′′ (ML^2/T^3)

How does Young justify associating, for example, the mental attribute “Faith” with the physical unit “Moment of Inertia”? It seems to have something to do with his original cyclic order of these twelve measurements and the associations he gives them to the Astrological Signs of the Zodiac. This mapping is not shown but can easily be found in the links below.

Further Reading:

Arthur M. Young / The Geometry of Meaning

The only early entry in my blog without a leading figure (and poor tables as well):

[*7.78, *7.79, *8.2, *11.38]


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