Gulf of Significance Dissymmetry

David Hume sets a standard for skeptical empiricism that not only creates a metaphysical dead-end but also makes pragmatism, probability, and process control the best approach to knowledge. As Bertrand Russell later elucidates, even Hume was unable to fully hold to the logic implied by his skepticism in certain places. We may more easily explain this by Hume’s stylistic effort to maintain a semblance of legibility (which Kant and Hegel totally abandoned). Though centuries of technology and scientific progress elaborated most hypotheses given by Hume, much of the underlying logic, and methodological skepticism, remains relevant. The primary element with which we are interested, the inference of causality from constant conjunction, paves the way in the short-run for Kant; in the long-run, the theory reaches is full conclusion in Deleuze and Guattari, who take to constant disjunction with philosophical zeal. Therefore, to develop an uncertainty principle of Epistenomics, we will need a superposition of conjunction, disjunction, conjunction-disjunction, and nonconjunction-nondisjunction.

To update his arguments for our analysis, Hume argues that we cannot possess knowledge of causation because we never perceive causation. Instead we infer probability of sequence out of habitually related events. In the perpetual flux of perceptual experience, we attain a recognition of patterns of assemblage, treating them particularized as objects (i.e. an apple) and then ascribe to it a constant conjunction with an additional spatiotemporal or qualitative pattern, in terms of additional qualities or causality. Hume provides the example that we would now take for granted, as Pavlov’s dog begins the many psychology textbooks: the visual recognition of an apple causes an expectation of the probable taste of the apple. Hume says we do not believe this out of logical necessity, but out of habit. This will not shock the contemporary reader. Conditioned response is not as rational and conscious as Hume or Russell might have wished.

Hume’s skepticism when taken to further application, could include a sudden loss of gravity or whether the sun will still be safely in its place tomorrow. The key innovation over the ancient Greeks is the capacity for hypothesis and probability. Hume finds it unlikely that anyone will change their expectation of constant conjunction suddenly, because the habit is so strong. Likewise, we are not irrational to assume the sun will not instantly change without someone noticing. Although we cannot logically say that the apple causes the taste of the apple, we grow into a habit of correlating events the more frequently they occur. When we add our optimism bias, anchoring, and confirmation bias, it is easy to explain the widespread ability to trust information that we do not test beyond a reasonable doubt. Philosophically, Hume says we can only conclude that our experiences cause us to infer the causal relationship.

Russell points out the apparent inconsistency of inferred causality, rightfully separating the objective skepticism and subjective psychology implicit in Hume’s treatise. However, writing while cognitive and social science were much younger, he takes incredulously what we in the digital age would not; namely, that repetition conditions and programs our expectations, we learn probability inference as much this inference anchors the application of inference to constant conjunction. It would be odd to claim the next time we see apple that we will suddenly believe it will taste like roast beef instead, or that we will wake up and assume the sun is gone when everything else fits our typical experience of life in the solar system.

We also know that we can program inferences and the belief in causality itself. Just as we trust the subsequent of two events out of repetition, we trust the weight of the evidence upon which this psychology likewise proved true. Thus, while we may not trust that every apple will taste the way our decaying information tells us it will, and we may not trust that an identical apple from the same tree will taste the same tomorrow, and we may even distrust that any isolated sensory pattern shall subsequently conjoin with an expected sensory pattern, the body of evidence that some next moment will occur, and that it will have some coherent consistency with the preceding moment becomes too strong to ignore. We may distrust anything specific, but our distrust of additional impressions remains counter to experience until death. Those who argue against this total relativity of belief for aesthetic purposes undermine the possibility that we will remain functionally sane without interaction with other individuals of our species. There are 7 billion of us, so the marketplace of truth-value is quite large. If all but one person died, they would have much greater problems than philosophical doubt. Post-structuralism to the contrary, there must be balance of opposing views to ensure both individual and population realism. The tyranny of the majority from Rousseau’s era loses relevance when every universe of thought becomes so specialized that multidisciplinary correction requires diligent orchestration.

Subjectivity privileges personal infallibility, but we should not abandon all normative boundaries in society precisely because we are fully aware that psychological programming can be so powerful when an ideological system exploits isolation and misinformation. For someone with a cheese addiction, the opioid effect of melted cheese provides an expectation of neurological payoff when we smell pizza in addition to the salivary response that the smell constantly conjoins with eating food. However, information like this suffers from exponential decay. Three weeks as a vegan, and cheese pizza begins to smell like rotten cattle pus.

Similarly, treatment for heroin or alcohol addiction begins with an effort to remove the repetition of constant conjunction, relying on the immense body of evidence that neurological information enjoys exponential decay. Reprogramming requires opportunities, time, and discipline, but we cannot agree with Russell’s argument that doubt of future expectation of conjunction is irrational. That is, we simply attain more trust that a next moment will occur than we attain regarding that the next moment will follow according to the prediction of the present moment.

Speculative metaphysics of uncertain causality relies on relativity of trust both in cause and effect. The gravity of a truth-idea develops with the aggregated matter of particle-ideas. We have no body of subjective evidence more massive than that of perpetual flux, so we trust this most. All other matter orbits this. Pattern recognition anchor us to emotional and physical exchange from infancy, so the relevance and significance of patterns becomes next most massive body of trust, orbiting perpetual flux. Surrounding this we find massive bodies of trustworthy conjunctions, and expectation of conjunction itself. Again, this programming makes immense foundational collapses during infancy, prior to language development, and is essential to the calibration of all other sensory development – vestibular, ocular, proprioceptive, pain, pressure, and touch all impress upon us increasing evidence that the actions of our body-pattern has consequences on other body-patterns.

Language development codifies programmed responses into systems of subjects and objects extended by predicates. Eventually, the gravity of universals like “Justice” in subjective sentimental significance outpaces the rational gravity of empirical evidence of patterns of particularized justice so significantly that we begin to doubt; justice is here an example, and this might begin with some other universal. Through doubt, to take e=mc^2 as metaphor, we consistently find that energy of belief equals the mass of evidence multiplied by the rate of repeated opportunities. The greatest consistency of all, therefore, is that of matter possessing gravity, while the space-time between ideas exist in relation to this anchor.

Russell’s analysis of Hume’s constant conjunction has the benefit of realizing that universalization of causation learned through physical volition is reliant on physiological causality at another level, the biological, neurological, and chemical; but this again has higher and lower levels of observation, that is, gravitation and quantum mechanics, each of which undermine the possibility of causality-in-itself due to nonlocality and space-time relativity. Russell concludes that rationalizing expectation of conjunction, “should therefore be a principle of probability. But all probable arguments assume this principle, and therefore it cannot itself be proved by any probable argument, or even rendered probable by any such argument.” He thought this dangerous, precisely due to the loss of moral responsibility it implies, but this is not a proof of its invalidity.

If specific consequences gain probability relative to specific events, and those events gain probability relative to the experience of time, and this gains probability as part of consciousness itself, the system is logically coherent, no matter how subjective this becomes. This is precisely why the romantic movement becomes communism or fascism, an attempt to free the subject to total self-enslavement to the social body. We find a confusion of levels between the subject-systems optimizing payoffs and its organ-systems likewise undergoing continuous experimentation. There are many answers that memory answers more quickly than a pragmatist logical test, but there are also many hypotheses undertaken automatically by the brain for the organism. To abstract these forms of payoff optimization clouds what is meant by morality and reality, speculative as our probability may be intellectually.

While Russell is incorrect about the confidence we can possess through probability, quantum physics has provided repeated evidence that the ability of purely deductive logic to infer possible empirical tests then allow probability to become its own proof. While this leaves us believing we are in a simulation, that we are alone, or that we are zombies experiencing material determinism passively, 3msec behind reality, these three conclusions, like Hume’s and Russell’s counter, become matters of taste. Taste we must judge by its unintended consequences, both individually and systemically, judging the distance between the two: this is precisely why we not respect or take seriously anyone who argues that, “Hitler did the Jews a favor in the long-run based on the strength of today’s Israeli nation.” Hitler’s individually intended and unintended consequences, juxtaposed with the systemic and historic intended and unintended consequences leave an enormous gulf or moral disconnection.

In this gulf of moral dissymmetry emerges our process of re-valuation for the burden of responsibility. The wave function diffuses in real values as follows:

– intended short-run individual consequences juxtaposed against systemic long-run intended consequences

– intended short-run individual consequences juxtaposed against systemic long-run unintended consequences

– intended short-run individual consequences juxtaposed against systemic long-run intended consequences

– intended short-run individual consequences juxtaposed against systemic long-run unintended consequences

Obviously, this arborescent fractal enfolds rhizomatic narratives of short-run non-intention or purely short-run and long-run consequences. Moreover, there is value in the refrain of short-run resolution that results in long-run unintended disharmony. Aesthetically, moral responsibility orchestrates beautifully when order becomes challenge that becomes a fractal of self-similar order; moral responsibility orchestrates worthlessness when a ferocious start gives into an arrhythmia of out-of-tune cacophony, not only far from the intentions of a good system builder, but also obviously far from the path of any system building the conductor might have followed.

Therefore, we may praise Mother Theresa for both espousing and pursuing short-run intended consequences that we certainly hope to have only consistent and harmonic long-run consequences, even those that were unintended. When intended consequences appear altruistic, we simply mean that the unresolved tension between individual and population, both short-run and long-run, as well as intended and unintended, all harmonize into a sensible refrain. The opposite, of course, may we find in Hitler. His short-run and long-run stated goals do not match actualization in practice, we find an immense gulf between his short-run intended consequences and his long-run unintended consequences, so much so that we believe him not only ugly, but defeated. Thus, morality is not only aesthetic, but logical. It is a logic that may outlast agency, but these unintended consequences, and their harmony with the system builder, is a critical aspect of morality.

Likewise, this provides insight into what morality, in terms of methodological naturalism, requires in practical process control. Without the ability to forecast multiple potential series of probability consequences, we thereby limit the moral responsibility held. We do not excuse a human child merely because of age or “maturity” in a vague sense, but we mean precisely the capacity to consider multiple path-dependent probable outcomes in a decision. Also, we excuse moments of virile action when the cost of delaying a decision warrants a restriction of deliberation, such as killing for self-defense when our child is in immediate danger. We do not excuse a “wild” animal because it is their instinct or “nature” to kill for food to eat, this is not sufficient. We excuse them because while they attain intelligent consciousness of consequences, it is quite limited in scope. If we thought them capable of deliberation of alternatives, we would find their “instinct” rather unacceptable.

Morality, however, is not merely the capacity to rationally forecast multiple potential series of probability consequences, in both the short-run and long-run, but in the irrational, that feeds the extension of the rational; it is not only short-run personal or social payoff, nor long-run personal or social payoff, it is the extraordinary anxiety of the uncertain, the expectation of unintended consequences. The extrinsic risk of alienation tends to be simple to mitigate, but the intrinsic alienation in feeling the risk one’s narrative, role, identity, relationships, future, personal gain, social progress, and long-run unintended consequences; this is the complex function of morality. The burden of responsibility is the anxiety of the gulf of alienation. Therefore, even if programmed into a machine, engineered in an animal, or upon meeting an alien assemblage, morality is the self-induced anxiety of long-run uncertain consequences that must gain resolution through a significant action.

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