Mechanization Paradigms

The original mechanization paradigm developed during early modern philosophy, hoping to justify Protestantism, revolution, slavery, colonialism, and industrialism. Initially, this marks an externalization of the permanent schism inherent in Christianity; stoicism toward the world and its bodies, ascetic investment in the realm of the spirit. However, the separation of the pure mind-soul from the impure matter-body creates an Oedipalization of moral valuation-signification. By placing the system of values permanently out of reach, away from any human objectivity, the death of Platonic idealism results in a mechanization increasingly toward nihilism.

Rene Descartes begins the modern era of philosophy with the justification of systems of machines and their intrinsic moral inequalities built in:

“[Witness] the variety of movements performed by the different automata, or moving machines fabricated by human industry, and that with help of but few pieces compared with the great multitude of bones, muscles, nerves, arteries, veins, and other parts that are found in the body of each animal.”

These machines fabricated by human industry are twofold. On the one hand, the mechanization of economic production and on the other, its machination into specialists capable of secular innovation, including dissection and live vivisection, both animal and human. After this we see an increasing prevalence of philosophers who redefine the mind/body dualism in subtle ways based on the discoveries of science and the advances of technology, until today quantum mechanics, general relativity, super-intelligent computers, and network theory all become incorporated. To say that the materialism of Democritus, or the Idealism of Orphic Plato, represents receives vindication and victory in contemporary science, from the holographic to the simulation hypothesis, this belies a nonsensical attribution to past thought.

The inherent praise of complexity and intention throughout all systems of inequality, which may have some pragmatic merit when desperate for human species population growth, loses much of its objectivity once we feel we risk over-population. Religious systems have frequently dogmatized the best advice for health, sanitation, and political stability available to them, but their dedication to outdated information constantly puts them at odds with the needs of the time. In either case, we will find very few philosophers admitting that their system of inequalities is strategic rather than evident.

However, we find a hard delineation rather than admission of a continuous gradation in philosophers like Descartes and Kant. Saying that a human is an organized system makes it a machine designed with a soul. If soul, from the Greek psyche, were simply “the virtualization of speculative reality by the brain” we might return to a more gradual spectrum between the highly intelligent and the lowest intelligence. Instead, this frequently becomes combined with mysticism, bigotry, and religious violence. In resistance to the religious implications, others described this self-determination as nature, privileging the “natural” superiority of civilized man over the machines, animals, brutes, savages, etc. Again, if nature meant “the genetic code inherited to build the minimum viable reproduction of an organism” we might treat dogs, cats, and pigs very differently, as their stewards; the long-running prevalence of claims that God or Nature justify rape, castration, vivisection, enslavement, imprisonment, colonialism, and murder shows how the Cartesian invasive ideology brings us to disgrace.

Soul is the favored word of weakness and bureaucracy, always losing itself in dogmatic foolishness, while Nature is  the confused word that implies fatalist destiny. In either case, the words conceal moral uncertainty and every utopian sentiment results in unintended consequences.

“Such persons will look upon this body as a machine made by the hands of God, which is incomparably better arranged, and adequate to movements more admirable than is any machine of human invention”

– Rene DeCartes

Descartes is content to ascribe the superiority of the European man to his Cristian God, blessing these inequalities with divine designation. After centuries of anti-Semitism and crusades against Islamic territories, which left Western civilization in a dull superstitious stupor, it took many more centuries for philosophy to recover fully from Christianity’s influence. The machines as they rose certainly help this progression.

Thomas Hobbes, for his part, believed that the State needed the same level of stability as the human body, but his belief in centralization reflected premature notions of the mind’s physiological control of the body. In our own era of democratic nationalism, we might draw a better analogy by saying that consciousness presides over the execution of some elements of the body’s political economy, but we frequently change this president without changing the character of the role. Since Hobbes was afraid of democratic overthrow of his monarchy, he wrote against this systemization. The history of democracy was not promising for political stability, in his defense. More importantly, Hobbes was searching for a moral refutation of the capacity for moral indictment of monarchical injustice. This is a crucial step in the separation of justice, morality, and religious ideology in philosophy.

Hobbes argues a nation-state could only maintain its order against the chaos of natural anarchy with the agency of a monarch. Without a state we will suffer through continuous civil war, a war of all against all. This conception of egoism will arise repeatedly. The body politic, to end this continuous civil war, establishes the social machine. Individuals give away their power to the social machine and enclose themselves within its protection. The body politic is the product of the social machine in Leviathan, analogous to an organism. Hobbes treats all men as equal in their natural state, because death equalizes the danger represented by others:

Nature hath made men so equall, in the faculties of body, and mind; […] as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination, or by confederacy with others, that are in the same danger with himselfe.

The secret machination justifies the mechanization of any armed force necessary to protect the stability of the State. Rather than any emphasis on machines, Hobbes concerns himself only with imagination, and the inventions of men. While these arguments come after the enlightenment, the industrial revolution has not begun the slow evolution of conceptualization we will see in reaction to the rise of machines.

Rousseau, in defense of his theory of democracy and individualism, allows the lines of traditional society to blur, giving us the literary archetype of the “noble savage” and a more optimistic view of the state of nature, but he again privileges the freedom of intelligent human dominion over others:

“I see nothing in any animal but an ingenious machine, to which nature hath given senses to wind itself up, and to guard itself, to a certain degree, against anything that might tend to disorder or destroy it. I perceive exactly the same things in the human machine, with this difference, that in the operations of the brute, nature is the sole agent, whereas man has some share in his own operations, in his character as a free agent.”

– Jean Jacque Rousseau, On the origin of inequality

With Rousseau, the justification of differences of rights lies in the capacity of the machine to resist its rules. Again, we see there is an immense gulf between the concept of a designed machine and a free will; only centuries of technological progress provide us with evidence that order can arise from chaos and chaos can arise from local rule-based order. It is an important theme throughout morality however, and Rousseau give it succinct expression for the first time. Morality is the capacity to ignore the rules of short-run patterns of behavior in favor of long-run accomplishment. Extrinsic payoff does not drive this exclusively, like objectivism’s rational self-interest, because compassion and holistic sentiment belies our self-narrative.

In contemporary retrospective, when we built more complex machines, especially computers, we finally saw how overly simplistic we were in the supposition of simple determinism by nature versus free will of consciousness to directly override nature. To anyone knowledgeable of contemporary science, the last century has continued to remove fatalism from nature, destroying the grounds for materialism and racism simultaneously. Education, environment, motivation, nutrition, and some genetic traits all contribute to the superior virtuosity of a charismatic leader, cello player, or physicist. Language, expectation, and privilege play a vital role. Complexity of ideas and the security felt toward uncertainty are issues of nurture, not nature. Stability, language, complexity, and specialization in political economy allow these “higher” elements to arise today. Wealth was the only sign of security in early modern political philosophy.

Consider for instance what an “invention” it was in Hobbes’ conception of the political body, and the recognition that specialization allows the nation-state to divide labor, increase efficiency, and manage trade. The invention of machines is central to the progress of division of labor, which becomes later articulated by Adam Smith at the beginning of the industrial revolution:

“The invention of all those machines by which labour is so much facilitated and abridged, seems to have been originally owing to the division of labour.”

The Wealth of Nations

The social contract philosophers lay the groundwork for a comprehensive mechanization paradigm. Rousseau held a superficial view of intelligence, but criticizes Hobbes for holding the strict egoist view of human motivation. It is in the elucidation of compassion as a moral virtue, that we find it in more than one species, that begins our look outward to children, foreigners, and other mammals for guidance on the injustice of tyrannical government. It is striking that he took the steps of equalizing all mammals in death, mourning, anxiety, and empathy, but leaves this mammalian morality secondary to the self-conscious intelligence that allows humans the machination against their own short-run interests.

“There is another principle which has escaped Hobbes; which, […] tempers the ardour with which he pursues his own welfare, by an innate repugnance at seeing a fellow-creature suffer. […] One animal never passes by the dead body of another of its species: there are even some which give their fellows a sort of burial; while the mournful lowings of the cattle when they enter the slaughter-house show the impressions made on them by the horrible spectacle which meets them.”

On the origin of inequality…

However, Rousseau’s analysis never extends beyond equality among European men, because he only wants moral justification of democratic revolution and the legitimacy of warfare and murder to secure equality. We should note that the text has inspired two lines of thought that remains in contemporary political criticism. On the one hand, Rousseau’s arguments for the capacity of citizens to apply rational morality in judgement against the state’s system of justice gave inspiration to the evolution of classical liberalism that followed. On the other hand, his sentiments combine with Marxism in France in a more anarchist manner that we will find significant in post-structuralism.

“All the inequality which now prevails owes its strength and growth to the development of our faculties and the advance of the human mind, and becomes at last permanent and legitimate by the establishment of property and laws. […] it is plainly contrary to the law of nature, however defined, that children should command old men, fools wise men, and that the privileged few should gorge themselves with superfluities, while the starving multitude are in want of the bare necessities of life.” Ibid

We see a continuation of support for inequality of aliens, animals, and slaves in John Locke. Women likewise, while receiving natural rights, do so secondary to the rights of men. The treatment or moral inequalities in Second Treatise of Government remains in contemporary governance, as the 15th amendment leaves involuntary servitude permissible in our current system of incarceration. This is a triumph over the rampant hereditary servitude perpetuated in Western history for more than 10,000 years.

However, in the context of a rampant African slave trade and colonialism, Locke’s arguments aided the arguments for enslavement based on race for centuries to come. He later expresses in Some Thoughts Concerning Education that animals possess emotional awareness but he makes certain that avoidance of cruelty on behalf of animals, but only indirectly. Harming property harms the owner’s pursuit of happiness.

                It is in the works of Hume that we finally see the machine taking hold of philosophical conceptualization. Hume possesses an extreme skepticism, but between the lines we find his honesty toward uncertainty and pragmatism for what to do about uncertainty itself. Likewise, the ramifications of methodological naturalism, early modern science, and the predominance of the machine in industrialized society come to fruition. Unfortunately, Hume was too polarizing for most to embrace then and gained notoriety primarily through Kant.

The ramifications of a machine that behaves according the rules of deterministic physical reality at one “level” but somehow produces self-conscious reflection and free choice at another remains difficult to grasp. To do so, we end up in the qubit code in which space-time has no bearing. However, each escape we allow, any denial and simplification, prevents understanding machinic virtualization and agency. This in turn produces a morally repugnant allowance of inequalities under false pretenses. The dogmatic separation of animal, machine, and human intelligence in science and philosophy is meaningless sophistry to Hume.

Hume attempts to give us as the highest good the libertarian stoic, who is a creative scientist, free thinker, and system builder. Rational citizens democratically and rightfully follow the critical leadership of the System Builder, becoming machines for the mechanization of the system. So long as the followers complete their subjection to a leader base on the merit and vision of the person and the system, Hume feels satisfied that the inequality of conduct has justification. Virtuosity should be the justification of inequalities, rather than money, religion, or lineage:

“Like many subordinate artists, employed to form the several wheels and springs of a machine: Such are those who excel in all the particular arts of life. He is the master workman who puts those several parts together; moves them according to just harmony and proportion; and produces true felicity as the result of their conspiring order.”

– The Stoic 6, Mil 149

This leaves open the larger problem of how far a system builder ought to feel privileged in mechanizing, though he handles this elsewhere. The functional harmony of specialized, divided, organized machines has its own beauty to Hume. In this conceptualization of leadership, Hume becomes the perfect model of arborescence in every topic he touches. Describing the ability of the emotions to distort the clarity of understanding in the mind:

“The least exterior hindrance to such small springs, or the least internal disorder, disturbs their motion, and confounds the operation of the whole machine.”

– Of the Standard of Taste

Order is beauty, while disorder is disruptive. Freedom of representational democracy must have in its means and ends a level of social stability, or else society has no justification. Skepticism toward metaphysical ideals of injustice, combined with scientific approach to a logically ordered system, lead him to speak frequently of the “political machine” that receives orderly conduct through continuous self-maintenance against mysticism, corruption, and despotism:

“Rust may grow to the springs of the most accurate political machine, and disorder its motions.”

– Idea of a perfect commonwealth

Hume makes a clear distinction between the systems of representation and the machines that display order. This is both materially and politically self-similar for him. In general, he considers anything behaving in accordance with apparent causality and physicality, a machine. He considers any disorder a breakdown of the machine. Loss of functionalism becomes thereby our criterion for judgement of patterns of behavior.

The perpetual flux of perception contains objects that we sense in an uninterrupted succession. Why this virtualization feels so complete remains unknowable; “the power or force, which actuates the whole machine” is one we will never perceive, because lies outside the boundaries of perception. Hume’s statement expresses hard agnosticism that does not fit with the rest of his optimistic methodological naturalism.

When tackling this metaphysical element of cosmology, Hume again returns to probability and emergence, as the cosmos is a machine of machines of machines behaving according to rules:

“You will find [the cosmos] to be nothing but one great machine, subdivided into an infinite number of lesser machines, which again admit of subdivisions, to a degree beyond what human senses and faculties can trace and explain.”

– Hume Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

In general, Hume’s employment of the machine as a metaphor gives it a glorified status, whereby events that interrelate predictably and with high probability are mechanical, and therefore beautiful. We may paraphrase and elaborate his expression. The cosmic machine emerges from galaxy machines, which emerge from astronomical machines, which emerge from molecular machines, which emerge from atomic machines, which emerge from quantum machines. This is the contemporary suspension of disbelief we maintain in methodological naturalism. Humanity is a complex biological machine at both individual and species level, witnessing the perpetual flux between the molar and molecular. The axiomatization of machinic theory is therefore essential to the sciences. Through purposeful uncertainty of conclusions, we have in the past two centuries taken immense steps forward in predictions of probability, at levels of observation Hume might barely have imagined.

As a system of inequalities, Hume best summarizes the ethics of moral machines unintentionally, in a footnote: “That the lighter machine yield to the heavier, and, in machines of the same kind, that the empty yield to the loaded; this rule is founded on convenience.” Convenience of machinic size and weight, rules that produce yielding to superior gravity, energy, and complexity to produce flow, this becomes the first honest analysis of hierarchy; because, “societies of men are absolutely requisite for the subsistence of the species; and the public convenience, which regulates morals, is inviolably established in the nature of man and of the world, in which he lives.”

Found in An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, these statements provide a groundwork for a morality of acceleration, expansion, and growth. This is the height of Mechanization paradigm an idealistic statement, but the logic underlying it was too far-fetched without the scientific discoveries that have since vindicated it. Combined with scientific advances, capitalism, and the digital age, this prioritization of flow feels comfortable to a contemporary technologist. The question that remains, if we accept the preservation of the human species through the ordering of Earth, we must develop the ethics by which we judge the unintended consequences of mechanization. A true science of ethical ideal is necessary, not based on consensus, but based on vision for a better future for all life. When technology alienates, and production destroys, we must analyze the boundary at which short-run mechanization re-territorializes into long-run machination. Miraculating the symbolic, capital, is not the answer.

For now, we may continue the philosophical evolution of the moral machines produced by the social machines. Based on our distinction, consciousness recognizing itself as causal agent results in the moral creativity of the System Builder. The System Builder is feel the system of representations leave consciousness liberated to machinic agency in the development of new systems of representation. In contrast, consciousness recognizing itself as machinic effect of another system of representation entraps itself. The System Builder employs the symbolic order to gain Quantum Liberty, even without proof of freedom. Those who are subjected, even when free of dominated objectification, are machines who self-enslave without proof of power over them. The system that liberates itself to build new systems of values places the power of purpose intrinsic to its own system, the machine enslaves itself through belief in its enslavement to other machines producing it; social, ideological, biological, and metaphysical.

This distinction provides a new addition to the definition of morality; the essence of morality is the will to adhere to a symbolic rule that prioritize long-run realization of the system of values over the short-run desires of the machines. We will find that the problem remains discursive. When John Locke and Adam Smith combine the System Builder with utilitarianism, this anchors a moral justification for the inequalities of economic liberalism and constitutional democracy. When Nietzsche combines the System Builder with aristocratic egoism and evolutionary racism, this anchors a moral justification for the inequalities of fascism and nationalistic socialism. When Marx combines the System Builder with the virtuosity of fraternal craftsmanship, this anchors a moral justification for the inequalities of dictatorial communism. In a Theocracy, God is the only System Builder, nominally. From Xenofeminism, we find prophecy of total upheaval by an artificial superintelligence aligned the feminine mystique. In each of these cases, we see that, while political economic, ethics, and science are part of a feedback loop with personal morality, the moral systems of individuals anchor new feedback loops for the evolution of the social machine.

Agency Dilemma, Bureaucracy, and Dictatorship

 

Agency Dilemma occurs when the person with the power to take action is distinct from the two parties with a stake in the exchange. While contemporary Behavioral Economics provides a more realistic understanding of these parties, this reality is nevertheless a level playing field if individuals remain unrestricted their natural freedom of voluntary exchange. We may add to the classical theory of economics that the real individuals in the market are habit-driven, quasi-rational, and normatively bounded in their self-interested exchanges. What remains true, however, is that better outcomes occur when the least amount of Agency Dilemma is present. What also remains true is that Agency Dilemma is multiplicative, developing a bureaucracy that spreads like a cancer in the social body, removing its will to live.

America is losing its objectivity, not due to subjectivity or pluralism, but due to the invasive ideology of the egalitarian-bureaucratic machine. The agency dilemma multiplies geometrically, creating unnecessary complexity and total slowdown of action, even when movement is high.

The depravity of agency dilemma degrades three critical sources of objectivity:

  1. Causal Agency – the belief that actions determine consequences.
  2. Moral Agency – the belief that values require action.
  3. Economic Agency – the belief that value-actions determine payoffs.

Causal Agency simply disintegrates in any system of metaphysical dualism or transcendence of consciousness. To separate at a cosmic scale the “free” mind from the “determined” body leads to impossible conclusions. If we take the freedom of the mind to its radical conclusions, we are entirely alone in our private universe of thoughts, unable to trust the reality of material objects, causality, existence of other agents, or the significance of memories. If we take the determination of material reality to its radical conclusions, we all have a passive experience of the objects around us; we float in a great ocean of helpless predetermination, unable to trust any sentimental mechanism that tells us otherwise.

Neither of these two directions away from common sense can become a foundation for a moral system. There is no positive system of values based on either set of extremes. One option sets us free but removes all objectivity and significance, the other option gives us causality but removes all choice and intention. Not one of these extreme options is in accordance with normal human actions, in which objectivity and consequences may be speculative but true of reality. We only find this dualism important in denial of our own death. Without this psychological escapism, the most rational paradigm is both the most obvious and the least comforting: limited causal agency because of cognitive selections is “free” despite emerging as a property from layers of “determined” complex adaptive systems.

Without causal agency, whether due to a lack of freedom or a lack of consequence, moral agency is impossible. The great irony, which humans avoid recognizing at all costs, is that the only path to a positive moral system is the absence of distinction between the material and immaterial. To make any action special, we must not presume we come into the event with any privilege. To make any event significant, we must not presume it is transcendentally justified or forbidden. Causal Agency is a pre-requisite for Moral Agency, while Moral Agency is a pre-requisite for value, meaning, and significance.

Moral Agency requires an authentic understanding of responsibility for our actions. These actions aggregate in every passing moment of life until death. The inability to undo decisions or drastically switch to a different life that requires a path of objectivity and dedication is a source of anxiety. The authentic life requires the courageous embrace of this anxiety. The world is real. Time is short. Death limits the time we have available. We cannot reverse time. We are responsible for our decisions.

This objectivity toward life, death, pain, and pleasure is the only way to build a moral system, dedicate our time to its significance, and gain certainty that our life held meaning. Morality is an internal decision to externalize our vision, whatever that vision entails. Morality is typically the delay of gratification or the bold tolerance short-term pain for the sake of a long-run value. Self-discipline and self-responsibility pursues not one value, but a system of values. Causal, moral, and economic agency is the pursuit, with clarity of responsibility, of a single lifetime that cannot replace or exchange itself for different world, life, or system, rather spatiotemporal or transcendent.

The destroyers of this objectivity do not argue directly against our freedom, agency, morality, or rationality – there is no need. Any bureaucratic machine only needs to inspire general doubt that certainty is possible. Dualism, in its materialist, subjectivist, and transcendental forms, becomes an immense propaganda campaign that leaves every socialized, indoctrinated cog saying, “I’m not sure if…” and, “I don’t know if we can…” such that the only morality is the valuation of governmental control. This is not skepticism for the sake of learning, exploration, or debate; it is the fundamental destruction of belief in opinion, action, and identity.

Once a population has lost Economic Agency in the valuation of their moral and causal significance, the bureaucratic machine pumps a sludge of propaganda, spectacle, and terror into the social body. Generalized slowdown, mediocrity, layering, committees, taxation, and redistribution all develop the same form of governance: centralization, security, and deterrence. Honest morally significant debate becomes impossible, as does representative democracy; both Republican socialists and Democratic socialists slowly pass laws that place the power of legislation outside the legislature and into programs, departments, and special interests. When the power of legislation no longer resides in the representatives, democratic accountability slowly dies.

The increased role of bureaucratic, arbitrary, amoral diffusion of responsibility spreads into every government-sanctioned oligarchy and monopoly, protected by tariffs, bailouts, grants, and regulatory oversight. The bloated publicly traded corporations created through government interventions survive by mimicking the parasitism that created them, only able to survive by duplicating the rationalization and socialization of institutional mediocrity.

We have already seen where this slow decline of civilized value creation leads. Democratic socialism loses its pretense of personal liberty once the entire nation is dependent on government or corporate bureaucracy. The impossibility of creative energy, freedom of thought, and responsibility for actions gradually drives out anyone with morality or ability. The economy, devoid of life, becomes increasingly nationalistic, preparing and fighting in endless wars, continuing to increase centralization of control over natural and human resources. The society incarcerates or institutionalizes a steady group of rebellious discontents and the marginalized precarious as one normalization boundary while an elaborate system of fantasy provides other. The indoctrinated society believes they are free in reality, but only in contrast with Guantanamo Bay and Disneyland.

The population that remains in the socialist machine, fully trained and conditioned for nationalism, collectivism, militarism, and subjection, finally trade their remaining liberty for a dictator. Unable to rely on the energy of new ideas, ambition, and goals, the nation looks for a scapegoat. Realizing that the freedom, value, and significance of an earlier era, parasitically destroyed by socialism and corporatism, leave the social body in total exhaustion. The guards posted at the nation’s borders turn inward, and the bureaucratic machine takes the final step into to fascism or communism; the enslaved society finally has its mediocre masters.

Each of these three forms of Agency Dilemma result in diffusion of responsibility. Agency Dilemma is the disconnection of power from consequences. When decisions become increasingly distributed across a hierarchy of narrow-minded bureaucratic interests, the ability for to parties to make a rational exchange diminishes. Frequently we find a mysterious “They” preventing actions. Between the shareholder and the customer stand thousands of employees with agency dilemma, no economic accountability, and moral diffusion of responsibility. Between the individual and the factory farms, sex slaves, and child trafficking stand thousands of bureaucrats with agency dilemma, no economic accountability, and moral diffusion of responsibility. Between the product developer and the end user, between the citizen and the law, between the teacher and the student, between the entrepreneur and international trade; agency dilemma, no economic accountability, and moral diffusion of responsibility.

Without causal agency, no action is possible, only motion, movement, perpetual flux, and meaningless assemblages. Without moral agency, no value is possible, only doubt, diffusion, sentiment, and distraction. Without economic agency, no freedom is possible, only mismanagement, accidents, and bureaucracy.

We built America on a single premise – my moral code and yours need not agree. We need only agree on our mutual but individual rights of liberty and value. Each President and legislature moves us closer to a Hitler or Lenin, then the steady decline of American importance on the world stage. As the only country from its inception a constitutional democratic republic, the world is watching our fall to mediocrity.

We must reclaim our liberty, creativity, and objectivity.

Fractal Probability Truth-Value

We may analyze the essence of superposition truth-value aggregates first by tracing the arborescent divisions of concretized particles, then by tracing the rhizomes of social waves. Our goal is not universalization and miraculated positivism, but renormalization of valuation-signification assemblages at each strata of understanding.

The amplitude of truth-value spreads wavelike across moral, logical, and functional patterns of assemblage. Moral patterns of assemblage develop a probability density of opportunities to actualize a self-referential narrative identity through the manipulation of intentionality, consequences, and unintended consequences. Due to the ease with which these slip into sentimental and emotional reality through guilt, anxiety, longing, hope, or attachment, we will find that fetishism, symbol, signs, and ceremony can become epistenomically through contextual repetition. Logical truth-value patterns of assemblage develop either in formal or predicate form, allowing systems of axioms to become true through agreement and predictive functionalism. This remains veridical outside active application, without requiring correspondence to any other reference of veridical claims. As examples, we see Euclidean geometry or basic symbolic logic. Functional patterns of assemblage reflect actionable and veridical coherence in our approach and avoidance of patterns of consequences related to forecasts of patterns of behavior.

Intelligent conscious beings must become, defined by the socioeconomic and politic interactions that develop their personal and public paradigms of complexity, emergences, and pragmatic plurality. Together, the moral, formal, and logical patterns of assemblage remain wavelike until concretized. Collapsing the wave function of truth-value occurs upon observation, whether this occurs virtually, socially, or in action. The evolution of truth-value begins with correspondence of a claim to a verifiable state of a system, coherence of the claim with other trusted systems, reproducibility in discrete pluralities of systems (even with these systems end in contradictory coherent claims), convergence of verification by a long-run community of inquirers, and ends in acceptance in a complex truth-value system as a framework underpinning new explorations (even if through rejection and rebellion).

Arguments not only signify their direct referent, but an exponential acceleration of references to the point of noise, as shown by Derrida. Compound-complex truth-value claims are not signs of pluralistic reality, but refer to phases of being and phases of becoming that are indivisible in the perpetual flux except by means of the semiotic system developing the patterns of probability density. Therefore, we may branch truth-value into pattern-recognition of past concretized energy-event assemblages, prediction of immediately subsequent patterns of normative machinic operability as an approach or avoidance based on the assemblage of flux in a current “now” or present state, or prediction of long-run patterns of consequences based on probability density.

Concretized truth-value emerges from the significance of meaning, reflection, hypothesis, and desirable next action. Although attaining flow requires habituated virtuosity, developing a system of values requires deliberation. Moreover, truth-value not only represents value and significance of an idea for subsequent action, but also reveals that some dynamic processes we require an imaginative leap, even an irrational one, to verify the validity of an idea. William James gives the example of running from a wild animal and coming to a cliff; if you do not jump, the utility of jumping become true because its significance must concretize in a single decision. Before you take the jump, it is illogical to claim that jumping will or will not save your life. If you do not jump, you will die, eaten alive. Thus, you must jump irrationally due to a lack of a valid inference.

Representation, coherence, verifiability, credibility, emergence, pragmatic utility, the development of truth-value in its trustworthiness for social action continuously experiments to expand and evolve for complexity and minimum viable resilience. We must combine the morality and utility optimization as a complex adaptive system that requires progressive investment. Every moment is an investment in our becoming, the method of epistenomics is not reducible to substrata, but occurs in self-similar rule-generating searches for intelligibility and exchange, appropriate to each stratum.

The phases of truth-value occur at multiple strata and cyclical space-time scale, requiring evolutionary semiotic re-valuation. This is not a synthesis of opposing views, but a tension of opposing possibilities, emerging as a suspension from fundamentally incommensurable universes of thought, while incorporating histories of concretized agreement and disagreement. Dewey showed the intimate interconnectedness of evidence, inference, argument, analysis, creativity, and emergence. Not only do ideas become true, often through a courageous leap in the dark, but we must produce our system of values to make this leap. The process of knowledge production, scientifically, socio-politically, and psychologically, requires an expansion of inclusion and creative unity. Growth of the range and meaning of experiences for all intelligent conscious beings is the standard by which continuous experimentation must maximize its validity, utility, and morality.

When we trace the rhizomes, we see a suspension rather than synthesis, emergent rather than reductive. Russell and Whitehead found that their positivist reduction of complex arguments to symbolic logic cannot fully succeed; even the simplest methods of analyzing mathematical arguments, crucial to probability, despite their pragmatic success, can reduce into paradox. Wittgenstein then showed that logic is form, not content, and has no meaning of its own, but is only the structure of valid expression. Structuralism then sought out Chomskian trees across language and literature, only to find that universals and sets are not only relative to the observer, but substantively empty of pragmatic utility. Thus, in math and logic, the medium is the message, but in metaphysics we find that the message is nonsensical because it invalidates the medium.

As Russell quipped regarding Schopenhauer, “This is all very sad.” After a century of Weber’s rationalization giving us sociopolitical identity alienation, Freud’s Oedipalization giving us instinctual alienation, Marx’s reified exploitation giving us surplus labor alienation, we must reconsider what our technology, language, and society will work toward. Considering this rhizomatic path of alienation in our truth-value, we must agree with Nietzsche, that all the modern philosophers chasing after the goddess Truth deserved her refusals. Instead, we should raise our truth; the philosopher must nurture and protect Aletheia as a daughter.

Speculative Naturalism

Through the moral relativity of semiotic space-time, causality-in-itself reveals its essence as an Abstract Machine, continuously axiomatizing universalization of agency; we must treat this with some suspicion, in addition to the skepticism of methodological naturalism. Mechanical determinism and spiritual dualism insert themselves throughout early modern philosophy because the political and religious motives of the philosopher. Every invocation of pure causality accompanies a re-territorialization and an attempt to isolate, control, or absorb. The debate over consciousness, space-time, and knowledge is a political, social, and ecological debate.

Causality and space-time relativity imply intelligent consciousness and testing its freedom through the consequences of actions, thereby inducing a presupposition of a certain system of morality implicit in its own exploration. This is the clear paradox of Quantum Liberty. On the one hand, if we take seriously William James’ hypothesis of pure mechanical determinism in Essays in Radical Empiricism, and believe that choice and volition are passive experiences 3msec after the body has completed the physical work in the brain, probability lies in favor that we carry on with our current narrative, feeling of choices and freedom, as well as habits, patterns, and actions. While extreme mechanical determinism may give rise to serious pessimism, we already see that neuroscientist who take determinism seriously go about their days, working and living as if freedom and causality make trivial difference in the absence of religious prejudices. While James gives some flawed arguments in terms of logic and syntax, his ultimate proposition has grown increasingly clear now that we take both mind and matter out of the equation.

The cosmos encodes itself in information that is neither material nor mental, but a superposition of what we once meant by the two. Everything is code, though we have not fully explored that regime of signs in which this quantum sub-stratum interacts. Through particularized collapse of wave-like probabilities, some of this information concretizes into material events, giving way to stratifications of power-law dynamics. These power-law stratifications, like the interference pattern of the unobserved wave, provides for “thickenings” of probability densities at which we may find continuous irreducibility with great certainty; molecular, protein, molar, galactic.

Observation collapses the quantum wave function, but this is not human-visual observation, which would still be a material interaction, it is the quantum observation of a material apparatuses that collapses the wavefunction. Even in the delayed choice quantum eraser, observation is an object-object event. These are only “objects” in human linguistics, however; the speculative naturalism places the interaction of assemblages at this strata at the level of energy events, information re-territorializing and exchanging codes of truth-value.

Observer collapse does not imply privilege for human consciousness. To say a human observer collapses the quantum event is confusion of levels, an application of molar signification upon universalization of molecular consequences. Like the choice of what word to type next in a sentence, there is a finite but immense number of words to select from d assemblages at many levels of stratification present clear mechanical rules in the chain of events we summarize with “typing” at the semiotic level. We have so little discomfort with the probability density of constant conjunction at the galactic strata and the biochemical strata that our discomfort at the semiotic level becomes illogical.

We can extend the principles of quantum mechanics more easily to linguistics than we can apply semiotic “laws” of encoding. While they present a diligently alien criticism, Deleuze and Guattari remain an extensive suite of tools. The abstruse manner of their writing conceals at times their brilliance, but this is either intentional or due to their political goals. Let it suffice that in valuation-signification, continuous irreducibility of semiotic regimes will emerge as power-laws from highly chaotic systems. Guattari finally provides clear articulation in Machinic Unconscious, wherein we see that the official language of the State, the old language of the law, the monetary language of capitalism, and the micro-political dialects of the social systems they re-territorialize; these all emerge into power-laws that backpropagate systems of inequalities. Regimes of signs undertake social engineering in an emergent semiotic selection. This is the social unconscious, necessitating comprehensive re-valuation of the moralities implied by enforced linguistics.

The influence of Observer semiotics in Machinic Epistenomics likewise emerges from an encoding process that collapses the wavelike open possibilities of energy events into concretized meaning. At the strata of semiotic process control, the rhizomatic flows become particularized material for social, legal, scientific, capitalistic exchanges. In their arborescence, semiotic systems appear deterministic. However, this is neither the chaos of rhizomes nor the determinism of linguistic syntax trees, Quantum Liberty is a line of flight in superposition between the mutagenic dialect exchange of free thought and speech at its quantum level and the emergent power-law constructs that provide normative rational boundaries for their operation at-scale. We should take seriously the implications of Guattari’s arguments, though we find his conclusions extreme. Between the quanta of communism and the concretized material of fascism, we must continuously re-territorialize a liberated capitalism aimed at long-run ecological viability. It is not that normative boundaries are immoral subjection, but that our current justice system may place international, domestic, and environmental stability at risk.

All of this points to the critical leadership necessary for the future of machinic virtualization of morality. To claim that all cosmic action set in motion follows permanent mechanical laws and we passively experience them as a meaningless perpetual flux is not only a premature conclusion, but one that leads to moral bankruptcy. To claim that all cosmic action is a simulation displayed holographically by an intentional designer is an escape mechanism, likewise a premature conclusion, but one that leads to collective refusal to face the full alienation and anxiety of our moral responsibility, diffusion of which leads to systemic insolvency. The rise of information theory and machine intelligence instructs us in retrospect and will continue to provide additional insight. Virtualization relies on code that is utterly foreign to the ultimate display and the user. The machines that process, apply rules, validate, compile, and finally display to us a sensory experience, whether computer or biological, lie at different strata. All this virtualization emerges from systems of information events. When rationalism and determinism result in insolvent systems, we must displace uncertainty and act based on weighted probability logic.

Returning to speculative naturalism and the nature of metaphysics after Bell Burnell, Einstein, Bohr, Bohm, De Broglie; we remain uncertain whether we reject relativity, constants, or dimensional prejudices. The importance of nonlocality, wave functions, orchestration, and stratified determinism must not become mystic escapisms. The conclusions of speculative naturalism, including moral and ecological ramifications, lie within the limits of intelligent responsibility based on science and logic. There are very few who consider determinism or causal agency out of purely theoretical consideration. Both past and present, these were typically bourgeois academicians. Some look to quantum mechanics and neurobiology for an answer to what ethic, if any, may receive justification. Anyone claiming to already have this answer invokes an abstract machine, miraculated as a false universalized backpropogation, to attain expansion of control.

To develop an uncertainty principle of Epistenomics, we will need a superposition of conjunction, disjunction, conjunction-disjunction, and non-conjunction-non-disjunction. This is not an easy task. Conjunction as a vector emerges from perpetual flux as it coagulates into patterns of meaning. Disjunction as a vector emerges from signification of assemblages, patterns of meaning separated from the perpetual flux by superimposition of value. Conjunction-Disjunction provides probability density, as conjunction of patterns of meaning and disjunction of signification of becoming produce space-time conception and arborescent normalization, objectification, and dichotomies. Non-conjunction-non-disjunction traces the rhizomatic relations between the assemblages as flux rather than machine. The superposition principle of Epistenomics folds into becoming causality-freedom, an orchestrated co-determinant positive reduction of will-to-power into concretized assemblages, relativity of massive information densities generates probability gravity. The swerve of will-to-power through consciousness gives Epistenomics its quantum liberty through machinic virtualization.

The main shortcoming of academic philosophy is the ongoing binary classification of idealism, rationalism, mysticism systems juxtaposed against analytical, realism, determinism systems. There is a third dimension that traces its way through Hume, Nietzsche, Schelling, Russell, and William James, Gare, and Whitehead, among others, in which the pragmatists definition of truth-value allows speculative naturalism to fold trust into possibility. Speculative naturalism relies on the technological capacity of conscious intelligence to make object-object relations visual to subject-object phenomena. Doubt of some single element of the perpetual flux becomes increasingly difficult when infrared, sonar, radiology, MRI, thermal imaging, sonograms, microscopes, digital cameras, and computers overlay in numerous ways some significance to the object-object relationship pragmatically trustworthy at our level of observation.

This resolution of doubts through the empirical confirmation of rational deductions combined with multiple “leap of faith” competing hypotheses leaves three major camps. First, naïve realism leaves no room for doubt and mechanical determinism precedes our passive experience of perpetual flux. Second, simulation idealism continues the Orphic hope for a metasystem that processes and justifies total freedom, the search for but eternity and time travel. The third approach, speculative naturalism, pursues improved elucidation of the consequences of our questions, imagines creative solutions, but tests several hypotheses instead of partisan warfare. In this sense it appears “dialectical” in retrospect, but in continuous experimentation and becoming, it is not a synthesis, but a suspension.

A science of logic and a science of ethics is possible. The first step is the removal of human privilege. Truth, justice, and moral responsibility must maintain consistency and coherence across conscious subjects, human, animal, machine, virtual, alien, or an amalgamation of any combination. It is unlikely we will remain alone in the universe, by one means or another. The optimistic faith of rationalism centers the universe upon each solipsistic subject. The pessimistic laws of realism leave it out subjects and morals altogether, a belief only held temporarily by a handful as an excuse for any action they desire. Speculative Naturalism denies both premature conclusions and respects the orchestration of intelligent consciousness without privileging to a point of insanity. Thus, Machinic Virtualization must explore a morality, ethic, and logic that will not leave us the primitive barbarians of the cosmos.

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.

Symbolic Virtualization

We come to a branch in our arborescent analysis of machinic virtualization, wherein systems and machines require disambiguation. We will treat systems as representation networks that continuously reproduce their identity. The long-run resilience of the system emerges from continuous experimentation. The particles, objects, signs, or components have continuous irreducibility. We will treat machines as fetishized systems incapable of reproduction. By fetishism, we mean that an assigned identity introduces a narrative feedback loop for the machine. Thus, the fetishism of the idol Baal meant something different than the fetishism of the bull on Wall Street, despite the symbol referencing a similar system (an aesthetic generalization of the strong, masculine, virile bovine male). In each case, the name provides more meaning to the system of reference than the physical system itself. For Moses, the bull was a return to the worship of the god of his people’s oppression, while the bull of Wall Street represents capitalistic optimism toward financial expansion.

This distinction is not trivial. The moment we name a system we enclose within it an identity. While that identity remains extrinsic, the system remains a machine. Humans have undergone a lengthy process of evolution that we now enforce quickly on children in a matter of a few years. First the child is a system, then a named machine, then the named identity begins to question and direct its own narrative, and finally some sense of ownership over its own symbolic machine and representational system gains strategic focus. This gradation is the basis of every system of inequality that has standardized subjective morality into logically arborescent ethics. Throughout philosophy, we find shaky groundwork for the justification in treating some nominally significant systems like mechanizations, others as machinations, and only a special few praiseworthy as “civilized Men”; meanwhile, the lesser statuses assigned embeds itself in language, distinguishing prejudicially between events based on ethical privileges, as Foucault shows in our selective us of words – murder, slaughter, butcher, death, casualty, killing, etc.

More generally, if a system is an assemblage that gains higher value in its arrangement than it would as a sum of its components, then a machine has its reproduction and identity extrinsically controlled. Again, the historic significance lies in our justification of excusing “machines” in their lack of moral capacity while indicting “humans” and providing some humans more privilege than others. Enslavement and domestication occur through domination and violence, then solidify in a system of inequalities. Slaves, children, and livestock are not free to follow their intrinsic values of sexuality, so philosophical treatises written out of fear for societal collapse select arbitrary gradations in the rights and responsibilities of machines. As Bertrand Russell artfully reveals through A History of Western Philosophy, this has always been due to the tension and oscillation of individualism and collectivism, while classical liberalism hopes for a stabilized harmony of the two. Russell focuses on the ongoing role of the philosopher in mitigating the grey area between science and religion; in which the dogmatic assertions that ascribe hegemonic truth, the reality of political context, and the current body of knowledge proven through experimentation deserve analysis for consistency, coherence, and balance.

If we trace the concept of the machine, we can see the echo of the evolution of technology and its role in morality. We The identification of the dominated in society, whether women, children, slaves, or animals, has consistently pointed to a lack of “self-control” and an emphasis on the machine-like predictability of their need for extrinsic maintenance. Yet, this is a feedback loop from generation to generation, in which the “self-controlled” systems engineer externally controlled machines. War, colonialism, sexism, oppression, carnism, and terrorism each anchor their justification in the line drawn between man and machine; those with subjected self-control, leaving all others for objectification. Our analysis here will be selective, but tracing the rhizomes has merit even without a full analysis.

Every machine, even if autonomous, relies on another system for its reproduction. Thus, if we imagine an automated factory, full of robotics and artificial superintelligence, that builds its own reproduction, including minor errors and experiments, this series of machines will form a system. Already our primate intelligence scratches its head, searching for the desire, intention, and designer of such a series of self-similarly reproductive machines!

Therein lies the distinction that we must elucidate. Each machine is an assemblage of objects concatenated according to rules, the purpose of which remains outside the assemblage. In contrast, each system is an assemblage of objects concatenated according rules, but we attribute teleonomic purpose within the assemblage. The machine begs the question of an inventor, an actor, inventor, builder, user, and machinists that patch its decay. The system begs the question of its intrinsic intentions, patterns, and teleonomic interactions. While this may seem arbitrary, this distinction has defined the course of Western morality and history for millennia, because modern science and technological innovation shaped each subsequent revolution of thought.

Cultivating Machinic Agency

Causal Agency and Moral Agency have a congested interrelationship throughout philosophy, one that now plays out heavily in postmodernism-inspired film. The Matrix and its sequels explore the inability to distinguish between the simulation and the real, Blade Runner and its sequels explore the inability to draw a clear line between replicant humanity and legacy humanity, Inception explores the inability to base judgement of value upon the possibility of a higher or lower plane of consciousness, Westworld (tv) explores the line between artificial and human self-reflective conscious, and the reborn Planet of the Apes franchise explores the line between animal and human intelligence and rights.

When we study the vegetation in our desert of the real, when at last we admit how arbitrarily humanity draws up the lines of moral agency and political rights, an entire history and an immense contemporary system of inequality and injustice crash upon us. This is our hyperreality. At one time, as Nietzsche pleaded, we might have drawn up new lines of virtue and meaning, but this can only succeed when local, physically present, development of meaning is more prevalent than virtual, simulated meaning.

Melancholia, nihilism, hypocrisy, denial; these are all sources of complacency. Supposing we want to build a better understanding of the machines of our systems, we must begin from an assumption of power. The partisan nature of meaning emerges entangled with the only trait that remains, for now, distinctly human: the long memory of symbols of death, and the denial that death of Other implies death of Observer.

First, we should look with some honesty at the inequalities we believe we left behind. We will find that the line drawn in philosophy between human freedom versus the automated machines of physics and nature justified, repeatedly, enslavement, domination, inequality, torture, rape, and domestication. A brief review of the ideological between the lines of Western philosophical statements on intelligence, freedom, equality, and political economy will reveal the evolution of moral exceptions granted to the systemically privileged. At each phase, the exception moves but takes the same form, privilege provides itself exceptional claims to power based on the relegation to animal nature and machine determinism for the unprivileged.

To reclaim our capacity to anchor moral responsibility, we must embrace the loss of distinction between animal, machine, and human. This holds sweeping ramifications in judgment of past and present. Even if, out of privileged weakness, someone remains dedicated to the current regime, they should at least give honest admission of the arbitrary lines that this will draw.

The question, if we are to look it in the eyes, unflinchingly and courageously, desires to understand what morality we ought to pursue when we are not special in the universe, when we are inseparable from our physicality and ecology. It is an immense re-valuation of all values that even openly fascist modernity could not begin to mobilize. To remove the center is to open us to relativity: divinity has not blessed us with superiority, we did not evolve for carnism like proper carnivores, we are different from animals only because we develop and internalize language, we are distinct from hypothetical superintelligence only because we fear and deny our own death. We must establish a new set values based on the unlimited interconnection of will-to-power. To limit this artificially, as Western traditional oppression has, to one form-of-life, judged territorially according to intelligence, social class, ethnic appearances, gender, religion, or geography; this is the height of all ignorance.

Machinic Agency is post-nihilistic. We can only understand morally effective action, in which an entity is the steward of the efficient cause, by answering what it would take for an automaton, either super-intelligent biological or technical machine, to gain the status of moral agency. Just as Quantum Liberty removes the distinction between free will and determinism, our understanding of moral virtualization must reset our valuation-signification without distinguishing between animal, machine, and human. Nietzsche asserts that nihilism takes place when we find, “That the highest values are devaluing themselves” (WTP Aph. 2). This is the case today, when the religious privilege of stewardship results in massive environmental destruction, when political freedom results in mass incarceration, and capitalist modes of ensuring security of food and medicine leaves ghettos and nations dying from meats that slowly poison the “disposable” class.

Machinic Agency then requires a Turing test for morality. We are simply asking, “At what point does an assemblage of parts, biological or mechanical, become identified as making decisions based on value-judgements?” This test defines the artificial limits we establish for morally significant actions.

While we will later show the progression of privilege based on machination, its first major entrant also provides our starting point for the Machinic Agency test. By doubting everything except rational certainty, Descartes begins from his own existence then sets up two criteria for recognizing the consciousness of others. First, an assemblage will need the ability to respond with original expressions of normal language, not only through direct interaction (like the Turing test), but in spontaneous group dialogue that understands the context and signification of conversation among humans. If an assemblage cannot overhear a conversation, relate its implications to its historical and political context, judge it based on a value system, and defend the rationalization spontaneously, then it must not be equally human. Second, while Descartes supposed someone might build machines that could perform extraordinary tasks, and we may teach animals to perform tricks, the ability to attain virtuosity of action, including skillful improvisation rather than mere rule-based execution, was a human capacity.

We immediately the problem of privilege in this test, because it is relative to the intelligence and values of the observer. Descartes generates a test that assures anyone who cannot directly participate through displays of intelligence, language, education, and skill are lesser beings, unworthy of the privileges of the bourgeois intellectual European male. This method easily becomes a justification for sexism, colonialism, despotism, sexual repression, forced poverty, carnism, and slavery. He believes, that if we cannot recognize someone’s intelligence and virtuosity, we have no moral obligation to treat them as an equal.

Again, by means of these two tests we may likewise know the difference between men and brutes. For it is highly deserving of remark, that there are no men so dull and stupid, not even idiots, as to be incapable of joining together different words, and thereby constructing a declaration by which to make their thoughts understood; and that on the other hand, there is no other animal, however perfect or happily circumstanced, which can do the like.

– Descartes

We can juxtapose this with Hume’s empiricism, which through methodological naturalism recognizes the exceptions we ought to build into our theory of justice based on the development of moral understanding, providing the example that, if a young bachelor makes politically inflammatory statements the government should excuse for a time his youthful rebelliousness, while a father who engages in plans to take up arms to depose the king bears a greater guilt of treason; the guilt of the crime for Hume must match the burden of responsibility the agent bears through experience and understanding.

The arguments explored through our time in the desert revealed that the debate of metaphysics was always the foundation for the moral systems of inequalities established afterward. Nihilism removes this justification of privilege. We have already seen that changing the prevalent ideological system changes the outcomes that early modern philosophers allowed to taint their objectivity. The “masses” have may have subtle natural differences in cognitive ability, but even these remain suspect. Education, health, economic, and social factors produce the differentiated performance abilities. Early modern philosophers and European political systems in general treated these differences static and hereditary, based on gender or ethnic group, and we continue to recover from the consequences.

We may further confound this problem by recognizing how fluid our conception of which actions in our children are part of a “phase” and at what point the “know better” – though it seems more likely this is because they learn inconsistency of beliefs, contradictory assertions, and genuine hypocrisy from parents more than anything else. Thus, the twofold test from Descartes will certainly not help us. As Heidegger shows, Nietzsche did not establish nihilism, he revealed as an “always already” existent socio-historical process.

Philosophy often works better in science fictional scenarios. If we imagine developing a breed of intelligent chimpanzees, as what point would we believe their actions have moral significance? We would need them to have the capacity to articulate signification of non-present concepts using language. They would need to recognize patterns of intelligence in one another that make dialogue worthwhile for survival and coordination. We would need them to possess memories of past events and express them to their offspring. They would need to understand from the death of another intelligent chimpanzee that they will also die. They would need to recognize that every member of their species bears equal risk of death. They would need to value development of a social system over the hedonistic egoism in the face of this existential crisis.

Now we have evolutionary utility for morality. Realization of death, memory of what is absent, abstraction of concepts, internalization of parental vocalization, externalization through typography, these are all developments we see in our own children. Machinic Morality is the tension of short-run and long-run consequences, both in external ramifications, and in self-conscious understanding, compared against our system of values. We are capable of Machinic Agency when we have sufficient narrative and identity that our choices may either destroy, refine, or strengthen. We do this in the context of predicted outcomes for personal, interpersonal, social, and environmental preservation-enhancement.

Machinic Morality admits that distinguishing between sensory virtualization and the biological machine that produces this virtualization is a false dichotomy. Privilege of one form-of-life over another is no longer justifiable. Our special place in our socioeconomic, technological, and biological ecologies is that of paternalism: cultivation, protection, and stewardship. Any distinction between human rights and animal rights under supersensory is false. Adult humans should not possess any privilege against animals that they would not enjoy against another human. When we better understand dolphins, dogs, or trees as children of our environment, we may again act as stewards, attain to wisdom, guaranteeing the ecologies for which we have a duty of care.

Our Time in the Desert

Spending “our time in the desert” carries a long-running history in Western religious and philosophical literature. The desert provides clarity of analysis to the Observer by escaping the subjectivity of densely-populated areas. Whether prophet or philologist, escaping the world of privileged life to find an alien world without our feelings, fears, and troubles; this has long been a clarifying moment. However, as we will find, even the “desert of the real” no longer holds the same significance. We have experienced to many living deserts, too many virtualizations of false lifelessness, smiling at us and walking around out of habit.

In Western philosophy, the desert represents a partial answer to what the world might be when it is absent of life. Many of the problems of philosophy emerge out of linguistic or stylistic flaws, existential particularized instances that thought transforms into generalization prematurely, or abstractions that take on a “life of their own” and run amok in the civilized mind. The spectacle of human society is too full of symbols and signs, leaving the philosopher in search of “bare life” in the wilderness, to at last secure a hold on the sublime. There is immediately a textual question, were one to note it: why the desert? Nietzsche, like his own retreat to Switzerland, has Zarathustra retire to the mountains. Henry David Thoreau escapes to Walden pond, painting a scene of a small cabin among American pines, praising self-sufficiency. In similar fashion, we may try our own hermitage to mountains or forests to escape the confused misrepresentations of society and fashion. The desert, in contrast, represents an alien reality, one that does not welcome us or praise us, a physicality that humbles the consciousness that believes reality manifests for life.

In the process of enduring the desert, we see an escape of the noise, light, and concerns of Others. Yet this escape requires there be something to escape into as well. The desert holds the appeal of an absence of signs, representation, and symbolic exchange. The comforts of the mountain or the forest still let us believe we can make a home, then construct a metaphysics that justifies our selfish human privilege. The alien forms of the desert, self-sufficient without the presence of human mechanization and machination, reveals the Observer’s alienation. The unintended consequences of society become clear in the desert of the real. The alien landscape of human lifelessness reveals the alienation of human society. Then we see that enclosure within the social machine encroaches upon individual moral systems of valuation and signification.

For this, we must strip representation down to bare life, then even forget life itself. At the extremes, the cosmos is a lush paradise, phenomenon created by the human mind and for the human mind; else it is an enormous desert, a system of objects that entraps us, an enormous machine in which matter is more real than our lives ever might be.

The inescapable social machine creates the need to distance thought from its comfortable privilege, opening the individual value system to the experiments of alien reality. The long-running contemplation of inhuman reality as a desert represents a stance on metaphysics. The weight of our decisions in the desert are the moral responsibility of bare life; every metaphysics carries extreme implications for moral systems.

Plato told us that there is a perfect and sublime realm of pure forms, triangles, circles, concepts, and virtues, all complete and wholesome in the full light of the sun. Meanwhile human existence is a sad misrepresentation of the true reality, like shadows cast on the wall of cave, create by puppets and trifles in a flickering fire. The allegory of the cave inspires a long lineage of mathematicians, astronomers, and rationalists, all trying to wake up from the dream of this world so that they may see the true world in all its sublime glory. This effort to deny the significance of bodily life makes its way to the Rationalists, like Descartes and Spinoza. The rationalists insisted that a perfect reality lay outside the material reach of humanity, except through total conceptualization and pure reason.

Aristotle takes a more encyclopedic approach (an apt description of the method by William James). Describing the attributes of human experience, cataloging the ideas found in agreement, and attempting to summarize the most probable and consistent explanation for the full sum of human belief, Aristotle established the framework for the division of our major sciences. The lineage of Aristotle, ending with the British Empiricists, insist that the material perception of humanity is the only reality upon which we can base our judgements. Anything abstract is either self-evident, as the result of a system of abstract machines like 1+1=2, or they are generalizations of experience, hypotheses that must undergo continuous experimentation for validity.

Insisting on exclusively a priori grounds, Descartes builds out a moral system based on the perfection of axiomatization, aspiring to find God-given precepts as pure as mathematics. Descartes wants an ontologically self-evident deity, with a moral code as self-contained – in the absence of any believer – as Euclidean geometry. Insisting on exclusively a posteriori grounds, Hume insists that human nature and justice must arise from probability, experiments, and patterns.

As good literary critics, we must look to the context of these arguments and read between the lines. The foundations of metaphysics and physics, its implications for ontology and epistemology, these were the formal concerns of their arguments. Between the lines, the first modern philosophers were finding that the “pagans” of Rome and Greece were not so different from Europeans and that the divine right of kings ought not trump the sovereignty of individuals. On the one side, the rationalist denial of the validity of human life and the Christian attitude toward worldly pain and desire, whatever the intended consequences, had resulted in abuses of despotism, outlandish inequality, disposability of slaves and peasants, as well as a long series of wars, killing and torturing lives in the name of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Hume’s skepticism laid out a groundwork for methodical naturalism that had terrible implications for personal beliefs about the burden of moral responsibility humanity bears. By what means do we justify enslavement, castration, starvation, domestication, or carnism – there is no grounds for any of these injustices without a social machine producing it. Empirical logic dictated that the ontological argument for a deity only gave the cosmos itself the name of God. All the injustices of human life, and many abuses against nature, originate in human prejudices, perpetuated by justifications provided by organized religion.

Hume awoke Kant from his “dogmatic slumber” and likewise startled into action all Western philosophy that followed. Hume stated, “All knowledge degenerates into probability.” Indeed, centuries of improvement in stochastic econometrics proves above all that the average human keeps economics and statistics as far away from their domesticated habits as they can. Probability of two united representations of the senses provide us with increasing certainty, but generalization of correlation into causality can only be an optimism bias imposed by the mind itself. Necessity, power, force, causal agency are thus projections of the mind superimposed on the consistent union of representations in the constant conjunction. Like heat, color, weight, sound, taste, and smell gain signification relative to the context of the Observer, Hume closes the book on generalization from certainty of probability. There is no cause and effect, nor causality and causal agency at all, only a probability we forecast and trust based on consistency of experience; “Anything may produce anything,” and by implication, any king, master, government, or religion who tells your otherwise are deluding you for the purposes of undeserved access to resources, labor, and moral hypocrisy.

Kant takes the extremes of the two approaches and attempts a “Copernican Revolution” by embracing both sides wholesale. Kant argues that the mind produces causality, not as a forecasted probability, but as a category of the mind itself. The representations of the senses, cause and effect, are all produced by the mind, as are space and time, but the mechanical determinism we see outside the mind tells us nothing about the freedom of the will “inside” the mind. The machine may look predetermined and predictable from the outside, reactive within a chain of causes and effects, but the ghost within this shell is free and moral. While causality is consistent beyond a reasonable doubt, the feeling of freedom of the will and moral valuation is likewise consistent beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, he argues, it must be the mind itself that adds everything other than freedom of will and pure reason to our representations of space, time, appearance, and causality. This lensing applies to the perception of other rational agents, and any of our interactions among intelligent beings, so their determinism and our freedom cannot contradict one another.

Based on this approach to bridging the gap between free will and determinism, Kant builds causal agency upon the synthesis of internally true freedom and externally apparent determinism. Without insisting on the rationalist freedom necessary for moral choices or insisting on the naturalist determinism necessary for moral consequences, Kant breaks the world in two. On one side of life we find the phenomena that the mind generates, but on the other side the mind builds this upon the numen of metaphysics, the thing-in-itself about which we can reach no conclusions. This separation is essential to the moral agency we take for granted anyway, because in a purely deterministic world we would have no ability to make choices, and therefore bear no burden of responsibility; while in a purely free world we would have no control over the outcome of our choices, and therefore bear no burden of responsibility. When we begin with the axiomatics of Western philosophy, it is only if we are both free to make choices and the world contains enough determinism to link our choices to consequences that we bear any moral responsibility for actions.

Kant short-circuits the arguments for either extreme by separating human reality from actual reality. This allows for the belief that each choice is its own causa prima without undermining our responsibility for the consequences in deterministic perception. However, this separation, and the postulated numen as a thing-in-itself devoid of human perceptions, built a wall between humanity and the metaphysical realm. The intended consequences of this mechanization lay in finding a logically necessary system of morals. The unintended consequences of this machination are precisely where philosophy finds its desert: a world of numen in which mind refuses to live.

While Kant placed a wall in the individual mind, separating the senses and intellect from the metaphysical reality of the thing-in-itself, Hegel takes this license into senseless material abstraction, under the premise that any narrow view of the material whole may find through its self-reflection the complete understanding of the whole.

Schopenhauer criticizes the entirety of Kant’s approach, saying that it is recycled Platonism. Ironically, it was only Kant’s popularity that drew so much attention to Hume’s methodological naturalist skepticism. Schopenhauer surveyed the full history available from multiple cultures for the first time since the fall of Rome, finding new insights in Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucius, and Taoism. In practice, Kant’s method was too convenient for the morality that submits to the prevailing ideology. If the creation of phenomena occurs in the mind of every self-conscious rational observer, and moral imperatives only apply to self-conscious intelligence, Kant’s prioritization of human valuation over the will expressed in all forms-of-life violated the principle of sufficient reason; instead, Schopenhauer argued our physical experience itself alienates us, the world of representation separates itself from the metaphysical will as a lonely expression of selfish altruism among the collective desire for consciousness.

The will was Schopenhauer’s thing-in-itself, and the will-to-live was far more coextensive than humans or civilization. In the world of will and representation, we experience thorough determinism of signs and even the choices we believe we make are representative interpretations of the movement of the one will; as generator of the forces driving all representational things. Finally, we arrive at the desert of Western philosophy. Stripping away the layers of representation, removing the system of values, both in concept and precept, and anything specific to the strategic goals of the human species, he lands upon the will by wandering into the desert, realizing the will cannot stop willing. Simply, being cannot stop becoming even throughout infinite revolutions and recurrence:

But let us suppose such a scene, stripped also of vegetation, and showing only naked rocks; then from the entire absence of that organic life which is necessary for existence, the will at once becomes uneasy, the desert assumes a terrible aspect, our mood becomes more tragic; the elevation to the sphere of pure knowing takes place with a more decided tearing of ourselves away from the interests of the will; and because we persist in continuing in the state of pure knowing, the sense of the sublime distinctly appears.

Schopenhauer, World as Will and Idea Vol. 1

The inescapable desert of pure knowing led him to immense pessimism, and he believed even the honesty of systems like Stoicism and Buddhism were insufficient for this desert. At one point he articulates this as a conversation among two friends, one wishing to be certain of the eternity of the soul, the other explaining the foolishness of wanting such assurance. In the end, the two call each other childish and part ways with no resolution; this may have been the underlying insight of all his philosophy, that all representation is childish non-sense. The will-to-live expressed in any one life was helplessly biased, and only self-conscious intelligent humanity was fully aware of the terrible burden of moral responsibility implicit in the recurrence.

Supposing anyone agrees to the groundwork of the pessimistic view reacts in the negative, treating its conclusions with any level of anger, indignation, and indolence, where might such a warrior take his passion? For this we find Friedrich Nietzsche, ready to reject the asceticism of any collective religion. He paves the way for a new method of nihilist existentialism that requires individualist positivism. While religious systems had long founded their origins on the ideas of prophets spending their time in the desert, seeking the truth-in-itself, Nietzsche rejected the notion that anyone may meaningfully appropriate these insights from another.

Going even further than Feuerbach or Schopenhauer, Nietzsche deploys his powers of literary criticism to show how the organization of religions around the insights of prophets provides us with the opposite guidance exemplified by their embrace of the desert. We ought to echo these as free spirits, creating our own system of values, not follow blindly the dogma institutionalized complacency. Within the mechanization of an ideological, dogmatic, axiomatized belief system, built in the shadow of these warrior-philosophers, we find the machination of the priests and clerics who, too weak to spend their own time in the desert, prevent all others as well.

The only answer for Nietzsche is to run into the desert, like a camel that has escaped with its burden, shrug it off, become a lion, and battle the enormous dragon “Thou Shalt” so that one may become a child, making new games and values:

“In that the NEW psychologist is about to put an end to the superstitions which have hitherto flourished with almost tropical luxuriance around the idea of the soul, he is really, as it were, thrusting himself into a new desert and a new distrust […] he finds that precisely thereby he is also condemned to INVENT—and, who knows? perhaps to DISCOVER the new.”

– Nietzsche, Beyond Good & Evil

Nietzsche sets the tone for the personal responsibility to become our own prophet in the desert, a warrior-philosopher far removed from the falsehoods of entrapment in the social machine. Albert Camus, who fought as a rebel during the Nazi occupation of France in WWII, took this moral responsibility as the essential meaning of human existence.

In the face of immense human suffering and depravity, surrounded by casualties of war and hopelessness actualized through countless suicides, Camus likewise found a desert in which we must fight for meaning and purpose. He called this desert the “absurd” – the self-consciousness speculative reality we experience, that is neither the material objects nor pure representation of mind. Representation distances us from the simple possibility that consciousness can distrust itself for some strategic reason; or that humanity repeatedly utilizes abstractions to justify murder. Therefore, we must revolt against the absurd and continuously fight for meaning.

It is here that the full history of philosophers rejecting naïve realism, with comprehensive skepticism that we may ever attain objectivity, finally reaches its absurd conclusion from the phenomenologists, that nothing is certain, “evoking after many others those waterless deserts where thought reaches its confines. After many others, yes indeed, but how eager they were to get out of them!” The desert of the real is the end of the power of thought, a limitation few philosophers were willing to accept.

This inability to find justification in knowledge of reality forces the burden of responsibility for our actions on our own shoulders. Thought will not attain certainty of material determinism or spiritual unity. We can only look to other humans for the depravity of the absurd. The mechanization of institutionalized values, which machinate unintended consequences, should not become our complacent acceptance.

“At that last crossroad where thought hesitates, many men have arrived and even some of the humblest. They then abdicated what was most precious to them, their life. Others, princes of the mind, abdicated likewise, but they initiated the suicide of their thought in its purest revolt. The real effort is to stay there […] to examine closely the odd vegetation of those distant regions. Tenacity and acumen are privileged spectators of this inhuman show in which absurdity, hope, and death carry on their dialogue. The mind can then analyze the figures of that elementary yet subtle dance before illustrating them and reliving them itself.”

– Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

When we reach this realization, that nothing human can be certain, that nothing behind or under perception justifies our life, pleasure, suffering, or death; this is where all the interesting and dramatic intricacies of systems of living representations occur.

The absurd is a desert of the mind, the distance or distortion that lies between what the material of the cosmos might be without representation in consciousness and signification by intelligence. The absurd is everything that painfully fails to make sense, such that we reject the validity of our senses, or even put an end to sensory experience. The revolt against this denial and delusion described by Camus, as well as the reality of our moral systems within the social machine, reflects the prophetic independence of Nietzsche’s warrior-philosopher.

Camus concludes that if the absurd is the quintessential defining attribute of human life, he must maintain the discipline of methodological naturalism in his authentic appraisal of the system: “I must sacrifice everything to these certainties and I must see them squarely to be able to maintain them. Above all, I must adapt my behavior to them and pursue them in all their consequences” (Ibid).

He likewise takes stock of the problem of re-valuation of all values and the cowardice to do so. While Nietzsche treats this fear with disgust, Camus treats it with empathy. The desert of the real, the fact that we and all those we love will die, that the world will forget us and everything we ever hoped or desired; to fear the reality of this supposition is only natural:

“But I want to know beforehand if thought can live in those deserts. I already know that thought has at least entered those deserts. There it found its bread. There it realized that it had previously been feeding on phantoms. It justified some of the most urgent themes of human reflection.” Ibid.

For Camus, there is no doubt of how difficult and terrifying it may be to reconsider everything once held valuable, meaningful, and true. An individual re-valuation of all values must proceed when we finally strip away the mechanization and machination that filter our reality. Our time in the desert reveals the alienation and denial that it has brought us, that we are party to the machine, and it prevents us from prioritizing with any lucidity or acumen.

Bertrand Russell summarizes the long-running battle for objectivity similarly in Some Problems of Philosophy, and the alienation it represents, saying, “If we cannot be sure of the independent existence of objects, we shall be left alone in a desert — it may be that the whole outer world is nothing but a dream, and that we alone exist.”

Unfortunately, we have a new problem today. The same mechanization of general intellect implicit in capitalism is a machination that undermines virtuosity and moral responsibility. The interlinked supercomputers in our pockets free us to access more information than ever, but too much information too fast leaves us unable to find any significance in it. This is the decisive step in the process of alienation humanity pursued with the successive objects placed between us: tools, weapons, religion, governments, enclosure, property, currency, contracts, machinery, corporations, computers, the spectacle. The “war of all against all” described by Hobbes, the social machine can finally reduce our natural state of civil war to isolated individuals, so long as they carry their own chains of self-enslavement in their pocket.

We no longer find enclosure in the social machine mechanization of labor, we enclose the machination alienation within our personal machine. The spectacle and virtualization prevent us from reaching any desert of thought and any authentic life. In Simulacra & Simulation, Jean Baudrillard calls this problem hyperreality: “Abstraction today is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.” When social engineering precedes our understanding of rational normative valuation, when the full globalization of economic Oedipalization leaves us with no unaltered experience, we are only able to recognize patterns that Others created ahead of time for us to recognize.

Hyperreality is the universally unauthenticated life. It represents a loss of significance by managing all mystery ahead of time. We do not experience any event authentically because the genuine physicality experience is not the anchor, a virtual experience anchors us ahead of time. If we go camping, virtualization anchors us to what camping is and who campers are through movies, commercials, and social media. To be certain, this is not a new and unexpected result of technology, it is the very essence of technology. Where we once spent time in the desert to escape the representations of the social machine, now we recognize its total inescapability.

Philosophers once inspected the distinction between the world of the mind and the world the mind perceives, some claiming everything was virtual, others claiming everything was machines. Repeatedly, some dualism became established, such that our virtualization, though developed and enclosed by machines, we could feel confident we could escape them. Today our understanding of either loses its innocence, precisely because we finally know how to engineer the patterns. It is no longer a few power-hungry men and the herd instinct of the masses that develops the unintended consequences of our morality, we can no longer claim ignorance or escape. Today we are all party to the data, the algorithms are intentional, and intelligent people fight to manage or mismanage the collateral damage.

“The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory — precession of simulacra — it is the map that engenders the territory […] It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges subsist here and there, in the deserts which are no longer those of the Empire, but our own. The desert of the real itself. – Baudrillard

Just as the chains of hyperreality prevent us from knowing the distinction between the real and the virtual, between our mechanization and our machination, the desert of the real is no longer a problem between us and material physicality, nor between us and the social machine. Now the absurd reality is within us. As we trace this lineage of the desert, we come full circle to the machines and automata from which self-consciousness attempted to distance us. The remainder of our philosophy will face the ethical and political dilemma in which we awake, to understand the moral weight of decisions, even if these we pursue in a dream within a dream, even if our awakening is only to another dream. We must establish what moral values ought to carry significance regardless of how deep in Plato’s cave we might be. Any mechanization that prevents this personal responsibility to life and existence is a machination.

Regardless of its original evolution, the intended consequence of formalization in written language was to bring humanity together. Abstraction became a powerful tool, trading on the currency of truth-values. Generalization allowed anchored, consistent existential instances to become probable patterns that we could exchange and test against reality. Once language became typography, the rules of grammar formalized and analyzed, and the lexicon of significations network into a matrix of signs, we realized the tool meant to bring us together resulted in our separation. The signs of language are simulacra, words that have definitions prior to our experience of an object. Together, full literacy creates a simulation of the world that we project upon it, distorting its significance. The signs of images in media do the same, so that instead of recognizing an object as a particularized word, we have experiences the name, the image, and the normative reactions of others in advance. Finally, we take all these simulations and place them on our own body, first in the pocket, then as wearable, with a goal to achieve further integration. Virtualization consumes us prior to any experience of reality.

Our time in the desert of the real means that we cannot look to a higher or lower plane of existence, or base our morality on the significance of rules outside ourselves. Now there are no rules outside us, only the axiomatization of our simulations, rules which we either manage or mismanage. For Schopenhauer, the desert was our capacity to resist the will and engage in pure simulation. For Nietzsche, the desert was the struggle to create new systems of significance and new patterns of understanding. For Camus, the desert was the absurd distance that alienates us from objectivity. In Baudrillard, we finally face our desert of the real, that the loss of any objectivity leaves everyone equally speculative, in a simulation we create and cannot escape. We are party to all the unintended consequences of the system and must build a better machine.

Mechanization & Machination

Marx, Deleuze & Guattari, and more recently, Raunig go to immense lengths to elucidate the predicate logic implied by the etymology of machina. Raunig shows kindness to the English-speaking audience by likening this importance to the double signification of invention. Invention may signify: a) mechanization, that is, the solution to a problem, inefficiency, or risk, by enclosing within a complex object the knowledge that typically requires practice and virtuosity; b) machination, that is, the fiction, misleading, plotting, or scheme that convinces an audience of a “false cause” as described by Schopenhauer, a manipulation known to magicians, storytellers, filmmakers, and warfighting.

We will take each meaning within our wave-particle duality as we describe the rhizomatic paths. The strict capitalist treats invention as an object of commerce, systems of analysis are well-maintained regarding assets, depreciation, and procurement. Under arborescence, the invention represents clear intention and value, behaving particle-like in its singular existential instantiation. A more skeptical view, generalizing invention to understand its unintended consequences, shows the wave-like behavior of invention generalized as a system of objects. This wave function is complex because it must trace the path of its rhizomes. The complex function of invention represents holistic probabilities. The wave combines all its real, positive, non-imaginary instantiations, filling in gaps with probability densities. In this way, it reveals the impact on the population of opportunities over time.

Invention, as both mechanization and machination, is the foundation of human socioeconomic progress. Our analysis here will develop a reusable pattern. On the one hand, as empiricists like Hume, Locke, and William James might pursue, the arborescent collection of inventions that allow for the progressive mechanization of human labor. On the other hand, as rationalists like Descartes might pursue, and as Raunig attempts to show in social terms, the abstract machine belies power that humans experience incompletely; the sum of all inventions remains less than the total of all inventions when we include those we have not yet invented. Machination occurs in the abstraction of mechanization, both positive and negative. Mechanization treated positively in arborescence reaches one series of conclusions, while machination treated negatively in rhizomatic moral judgement reaches a different series of conclusions. The full truth-value of semiotic inventions requires a quantum superposition of each and all.

Pure arborescence cares for the strict articulation of aggregated instances exclusively. No accounting for the number and distributions of machines provides for its generalization. The semiotic leap to a generalization occurs prior to the conclusions this abstraction will claim. Mechanization is the collapse of so many truth-value particles. From simple machines like pulleys, levers, and fulcrums, to the machines of the industrial revolution, arborescence accounts for them, in the professional sense of the term, rather than criticizing in the social sense. This generalization through incomplete aggregation tends to treatment of mechanization as an implicit good. The probable semiotic universal becomes tied up with two forms of trust, one of probability and one of morality.

The concept, however, does not remain in the realm of positive particle instantiation. Generalizing suspends disbelief of the sign, bridging the moral valuation-signification along with the semiotic, both molar and molecular. If the moral value held true to the semiotic value, if the wave-particle relationship of generalization remained trustworthy, we would give little thought to the rhizomes. In this case, with Marx, we find a machination born of generalized mechanization. The intended particle consequences of each invention and the actual particle consequences of each invention produce unintended consequences in aggregation.

Simply, we come to a moment when the generalization of the promises of signs, machines, and commodities reveals itself to signify something else, something more, something wrong. Tracing the machinations of generalized mechanization has been the ongoing method of the Postmodernists. The divorce between the semiotic trust and our moral trust, such as the faith that one machine makes labor easier, smoother, and more consistent, but a thousand machines entrap us, enslave us, and turn us all into janitors rather than craftsmen – this we call alienation.

                The school of suspicion in the late 1800’s recognized that the arguments of philosophy had ignored the relationship of trust necessary for the generalization of concepts. Marx explored the alienation of the laborer to the machination of capitalist mechanization. Nietzsche explored the alienation of morality from the instincts that preserve the vitality, ingenuity, and resilience of the species. Sigmund Freud explored the alienation of psyche from its libidinal forces. Everywhere that the particle may accept its singularity of mechanization, suspicion suggests we look for a wave function – not simply to predict with increasing probability the appearance of new concretized opportunities, but to also find emergent anti-patterns in the decentralized wave. Feuerbach, who Engels cites as influential, reveals the alienation of organized religion through (as we are calling it) the backpropogation of the abstraction of deity:

“RELIGION is the relation of man to his own nature, – therein lies its truth and its power of moral amelioration; – but to his nature not recognized as his own, but regarded as another nature, separate, nay, contra-distinguished from his own: herein lies its untruth, its limitation, its contradiction to reason and morality; herein lies the noxious source of religious fanaticism, the chief metaphysical principle of human sacrifices, in a word, the prima materia of all the atrocities, all the horrible scenes, in the tragedy of religious history.”

– Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity

Through the backpropogation of the personal capacity to create particle-gods, concretized to the virtues necessary for a single Lifework, the semiotic abstraction gradually appropriates the morality of the observers into the power of the sign. Then backpropogation of the abstract, in the absence of the trust of mothers and fathers teaching their children the process of god-formation, the semiotic and moral unite to enslave the entire population. Hobbes wants us to tread lightly, as seen in Leviathan, when challenging the moral system in despotic control, fearful that entire system falls apart. Nietzsche blinks in disbelief as he applies the ideas of liberty in British political philosophy onto the recently emancipated serf of Eastern Germany. Writing in isolation in Switzerland, the ideas of utilitarianism and the childhood memories of workers in Leipzig left him nauseated, if you believe his account. The dissonance drove the passionate pro-aristocratic sentiment he expressed through praise of the “master morality” of Greek and Roman virtue ethics and the “slave morality” of institutionalized monotheistic religion in the Judeo-Islamic-Christian tradition.

For the 21st century reader, two glaring sources of ignorant thought occur throughout the skepticism of the empiricists and the virality – flipping the rhizomes up toward a new arborescent analysis – of the school of suspicion. First is the absence of developmental psychology, only later established by Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, and others. The influence Jean-Jacque Rousseau and responses from Mary Wollstonecraft drove this improved suspicion, that parental influence, socialization, and education may play a much greater role in creating inequality of abilities than any genetic inheritance. Second is the insights of Behavioral Economics, in the proof that what many Europeans attributed to hereditary predisposition emerges from climate, population density, agricultural practices, distribution of wealth, and availability of resources.

Returning to Raunig and the invention of abstract machines, we now face a question of whether we treat society as a system of signs, social machinations, or as the enslavement of machine enclosure, social mechanization. The digital age compounds the need for a superposition principle of meaning and significance. The moral, political, economic, and mechanical have networked into an inescapable matrix, more now than even Rousseau once described.

The line between mechanization and machination blurs the moment acceleration becomes virtualization. Baudrillard shows how the question of absurd morality and the authentic life as described by Camus becomes inaccessible when the system of signs becomes indistinguishable from the machines of reality. We must toil on this question, else it drives us to despair. Having established our hermeneutics and heuristic of meta-suspicion, we must endure our time in the desert.

Forests of Observation

Philosophy is an inferential act of observation that builds a system of values from experience, abstraction, and discourse. We collect and reflect on arguments regarding the nature of being and becoming (ontology) and the nature of knowledge and understanding (epistemology). Unsurprisingly, an initial analysis of will-to-power likewise particularizes expansion into an arborescent network of truth-values. Every tree of knowledge we plant and nurture takes on a life of its own, in a singular pursuit of the sun. The philosopher is never content with the shade of a single tree and thus becomes an arborist, studying and cultivating entire forests of observation. The trees of knowledge become a matrix of superimposed and entangled, grafting observations of observations and observers. Pruning these abstractions and derivations must become logocentric to bundle itself into a cohesive package. Arborescence commoditizes these conclusion-options.

The role of the philosopher is to comprehend the health of the forest, caring for its streams and soil. While W James’ The Meaning of Truth begins the journey microeconomic information, his final work, Some Problems of Philosophy, scratches the surface of the macroeconomics of ideas though it lay prior to the forest of knowledge we possess. Taking the challenge of an economics of ideas, we can apply unusual fields of enquiry back upon ontology and epistemology. The first problem is that of generalization, in which we collect differentiated singularities in a way that allows homogenous treatment. We may learn from mortgage-backed securities in this regard, along with the hazards implicit in abstraction. The second problem is that of derivation, in which we backpropagate pattern recognition into action that shapes new patterns. Again, semiotics may learn from finance and the rise of algorithmic trading. The third problem is that of systems resilience, in which contemporary computer science, chaos theory, and ecology may assist in the development of better knowledge process control. The fourth problem is that of purpose, in which evolutionary theory, corporate strategy, and principles of warfighting converge upon what genetic “wealth” humankind amasses in its labor of language and reflection.

Even with such a large forest of observation, we must stop enjoy the holistic environment developed else the labor lack meaning. We will thus surf along rhizomatic value-tendrils, following little deer paths, wandering but not lost. However, when we find a new place for knowledge, the horizontal transfer always plants a new tree. The shooting-upward in our analysis of observations, striving toward the sun against the force of gravity, will be helplessly arborescent. To the extent we are conscious of the non-observed, recalling the paths not taken and their legitimacy for other wanderers, we will attempt to highlight non-conformities against the hegemonic system we produce.