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.

Fractal Cascade Ontology

To say that the Observer is at the crossroads between wave and particle would be only partially correct. We have no indication that there is any distinction between wave or particle without the act of observation. In other words, the Observer is not only standing at the crossroads, but also supplies the road and the intersection as well. This is a probabilistic derivative inferred from an axiomatized truth-value. We should thus ensure, however elegant a fractal might make our ontological theory, we treat it as a hypothesis with an open suspension of disbelief; we never embed it into a closed system and work on faith.

Confusion of levels occurs in pure arborescence. Over-identification with the superposition observer-in-itself, leads analytical philosophy to the observer as an abstract totality. Due to this, the Platonists and Rationalists abstracted categorical traits of observer superposition and miraculated them into the metaphysical realm. This abstraction prunes the category of the context of its subordinate probability waves – gender, race, class, religion, era, creed. By removing what is not contextual, the starting point of most dualism is inherently flawed. Whether splitting Spirit into Mind/Body, or a superfluid into wave/particle, these dualities miraculate the Observer by removing the coordinating system for the system of coordinates. The observation removes itself from the observed. Anywhere a deity becomes named as causa prima, as if engaged in Oedipalization of an intrinsically dualistic cosmos, we should suspect the text’s intentions. The Observer is right there, subjective, lensing while triangulating, overcoding while projecting, whether a single statistician or a thousand mathematicians.

Wave-Particle Semiotic Generalization

Schopenhauer showed that the problems of semiotic representation does not occur in the act of conceptual generalization or the development of rationalist systems; rather, the problems arise in taking the derivative inferences of abstraction and applying them directly to perceptual reality. Moreover, while many semiotic representations show nothing that the mastery of practice already knew, conceptual generalization is essential for communication across space-time, like the reliance of an architect on the axiomatics of math and physics when building a house.

We have progressed significantly from communication of plans to the prediction of probability densities. The advances of calculus, statistics, and quantum mechanics give renewed hope in rational us of the outcomes of abstraction applied upon our perceptual flux. Throughout this book we will attempt to overcome the problems of the law of non-contradiction through wave-particle logical dualism in semiotic systems. Although we cannot expect the isolated objects of perceptual experience can ever break the law of non-contradiction, the path to logical universalization requires conceptual generalization. We do not build generalization from one existential instantiation to a full categorical relation, but attain semiotic force through probability density.

This means that objects in being will consistently act particle-like, in fixed definiteness of identity, coherence, and space-time. To generalize our abstractions, semiotic representation requires the assumption of large numbers, opportunities of becoming, giving wave-like behavior to our conceptual understanding. This again matters exclusively for our capacity of prediction and communication, making wave-particle semiotic generalization in principle useful to us only through applicability in practice.

When we discuss pure arborescence, we mean the practice of continuous reification that humankind completes in semiotic generalization. Arborescence develops objects of existential instantiation into generalized systems under perceptual analysis. The law of non-contradiction we apply throughout to gain certainty of truth-value, as well as derivative methods of predicate logic and capitalism. This process forces the semiotic representations to behave particle-like. It is particle-like because the concept has continuous irreducibility and equilibrium-stable signification. However, this certainty is fleeting, because the conceptual validity is an emergent power-law dynamic that decays without maintenance. The particle-like representation is only relevant while it expands, accelerates, and predicts the outcomes of perceptual flux.

When we discuss rhizomatic networking, we may imagine the wandering of trails in a forest without looking at our smartphone map for a long while, content to become temporarily lost in our hope for a new discovery. This method was the essential art of Deleuze & Guattari in Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus and their philosophical lineage. A more recent example is in Gerald Raunig’s A Thousand Machines, a name in homage to its predecessor. A similar approach may be seen in this book, in which we are content to meander in the flux of uncertainty, tracing lines of thought, exploring histories of representation, and behaving wavelike in our certainties.

Our Arborescent Conscious and Rhizomatic Unconscious are two strategies of semiotic networking. They deal in the free play of the same nodes, but arborescence intends certainty, order, and consistency emerge while rhizomism desires completion of connectedness, never leaving behind a node. The switch between a centralizing network to tangling network we will call virality.

When arborescence forces itself into contradiction, it asks “What have we forgotten?” It then traces the work completed, the assumptions and generalizations, the moral character of this tree of knowledge. Then, finding a new and better soil, a new generation of tree springs up, an attempt at a better series of branches. This horizontal transfer, like a bird carrying the seeds of fruit tree far from its parent, we call virality.

When rhizomism spreads so thoroughly that patterns begin to emerge that represent either opportunity or risk, we suddenly have incentive to take these wavelike nodes and coordinate them toward some goal, through analysis, logic, and consistency. We may liken this to the landscaper who plan out an elaborate maze of surprises in the garden, taking the rhizomatic Bluegrass and standardizing its presence as part of an overarching system of meaning. This horizontal transfer of species across the palette of cultivated Earth we again call virality.

To the plants, if they were democratic humans, this gardener engages in totalitarian despotism, fascist paternalism of the most dangerous kind. Yet, as Hobbes might say, this says more about the belief system of the plants than the legitimacy of the gardener’s efforts to create beauty. Nietzsche might beg us to question, why does intention change the moral character of identical consequences? Darwin would answer that whether birds, squirrels, weather, or humans complete the work of shuffling the seeds of plants in horizontal transfer over the Earth, rotation, diversity, and new opportunities expand and accelerate the resilience of the system. The Intention of arborescence becomes fascism when it breaks the essential principle of nature, the minimum viable residence of genetic capitalism. The Desire of rhizomism becomes anarchy when its communal spirit forgets the superior force of combined will-to-power.

Rhizomatic Unconscious

Rhizomes behind our selfish, despotic, machinic, consistent, conscious analysis; we should explore what good such an idea does for us in practice. If we are hard agnostics of metaphysics, we must assess what we gain if we assume the abstract potential presence of other alien observers, applying logic and connections within. Even methodical naturalism gains creativity if we add, to our stubborn certainty of objective focus, a suspicion of what may loom outside our frame of reference.

Vitalism interprets the individual person according to the continuous irreducibility of Machinic Agency that bears a name. Each vitality plays on the stage, costumed as member of a socioeconomic ecopolitical system, masked observations of this homogenous collection of woman-particles and man-particles. From a distance, as a population, how uniform it all appears in abstraction, how easy for the simplistic to reduce billions of particularized lives into no less than two engendered masks!

Conceptual abstraction could be left to the morons and bigots, were it not for their tendency to backpropagate bad conclusions as causa prima. These power-law dynamic vectors of identification appear, under observation, to follow their causal becoming under unwavering mechanical determination. Becoming-woman, becoming-man, reproduction, death. So also the Spectacle thrives on the Circus of Values when simpletons debate their palettes of predeterminism; gender, race, orientation, class, sanity… often in that order, according to mass media.

Stochastic analysis provides pragmatic predictions in terms of probability densities, answering only where one ought to look; one is already certain the probability is possible. The opposite, to treat an emergent normal standard distribution as a caste system, has been the justification of every cruelty imagined by collections of political economy.

Appearance as particle is deceptive when we cease observation of the totality of the population or experience it from the inside – the experience that is most intimate to us! Only then do we find that free will experiences itself as a continuum of power, of many forces in dynamic relation and opposition. Causal Agency is an uncollapsed wave of indeterminate probabilities. Observation collapses these, with an accompanying sentiment of mental empowerment, as teleonomic leadership of the body or conducting the dynamics of thought, memory, emotion, and drive like an orchestra. If we rush the orchestra, the music becomes disjointed; if we stop conducting many well-practiced melodies might be played without additional effort.

Applying logic to an entire system of truth-ideas is an effort in projecting consistency and unity to our understanding. First, we must forecast many particularized hypotheses and assert their abstraction as a universal value. Next, and most fundamental to the entire history of philosophy, we force upon the systems of abstract signs a single axiomatic of all logic, the law of non-contradiction. The law of non-contradiction first espoused by Aristotle states that a proposition and negation cannot be simultaneous true. If I say, “The cat is black; the cat not-black,” the good logician immediately clarifies if I am being poetic, lack logical intelligence, or need to provide more details. For instance, “The cat seemed perfectly and consistently black from afar, but now that it is in my arms I see white and grey hairs spread about sporadically. Thus, even a black cat may be imperfectly black-haired.” In every philosophical debate, sifting through the technical and formal meanings of statement and applying the law of non-contradiction accounts for most of the leg work.

This law of non-contradiction, however, is precisely the a priori argument we must now question. The Uncertainty Principle provides a complex function that may at last span the wave-like properties of the rhizomes. This is the purpose of Quantum Liberty, to find Machinic Agency in the rhizomes. The remainder of our exploration applies quantum physics as an improved tool where we once applied the emergent power-law of non-contradiction.

Logic, capitalism, paternalism, these all thrive on forced non-contradiction. Deleuze & Guattari went to great lengths exposing that, while many philosophers and scientists take care to apply the law of non-contradiction with as little prejudice as they can manage, society has no patience for unanswered questions, doubt, minority values, or “deviant” opinions. We will thus take up a more strategic approach built upon their work exposing the rhizomes, admitting the two flaws in the system in an effort of critical leadership. First, as shown by Stiglitz and others in Behavioral Economics, that being watched, money, contracts, and cuing social role, can shift individuals toward rational self-interest, logical positivism, and objectification. Then, that the system as a whole acts upon truncated data, leaving without record any content that cannot be expressed according to currency, typography, mathematics, and the law of non-contradiction.

The exceptions to the rules, the amount of unexplained complications and complexities do begin to pile up! No wonder so many knowledge workers prefer the safety of specialization, hoping that enough trees of knowledge, branching selfishly, somehow forces the environment into a healthy ecological system. Equally true of forests and our own mind, pure arborescence as a categorical imperative leaves the health of the system unmanaged, and certain to degrade and collapse.

Our physicists look beneath the superficial flux of perception only to find a socioeconomic and ecopolitical system of molecules made of atoms. Particles seem to follow rules. Then we look deeper, subterranean as it were, and then we lose ourselves in quantum uncertainty. We ought to applaud the virility, obstinance, and confidence it took to produce the first Higgs boson after a century of elaboration. The role of the Observer throughout makes the cosmos participatory, capitalistic, though we mean two kinds of observation. This begs the question if we can logically treat the two as one. Machinic Agency would treat false the faith that human observation and material observation deserve any distinction.

Social systems throughout universal history, with effects of space-time projected onto each point, make human vitalism mere particles in the cosmic body-system, co-determinant with all possible subjective universes. We should conclude there is mind and free will, not only all the way up, but all the way down as well. That is to say, there is no difference between these perceptual machines in operative fact, only in our strategic commitment to one form over all others.

In the post-Marxist methods of Deleuze and Foucault, they should loudly to us that exceptions and deviations will expand our axiomatization; that rebellion and social progress keep us all locked in place as part of the machine. They call this subjectivation, because the subject-object relationship is given to the winners and losers as if implicitly true. We are made cogs in a machine that produces terrible unintended moral consequences. How much more, as Schopenhauer felt, the cosmos or the body! Metaphysical agnosticism leaves no escape. Each of us bear the burden of moral responsibility, although not at fault and without confidence in our wisdom.

We are in need of an uncertainty principle in philosophy. Anything we perceive as an individual, as a vitalism, a component in the system, a particle; they imply with elaborate efficiency an entire class of particularized objects, behaving on a long enough time scale to have 50/50 uncorrelated probability for any binary outcome. The stochastic philosopher may then play a game, treating all such particles as free agents that act to exchange at their level. Not only do we not know if their freedom or randomness is intrinsically different from what we feel, it also seems to make trivial difference in practice.

Another way to express the tendencies of our Rhizomatic Unconscious by contrast against statistics themselves – the pinnacle of arborescent consciousness. The “law of large numbers” that we apply to population dynamics, predicated upon a simple trait, the dichotomy manifests itself as axiomatically true. This only works when we define the population we wish to observe in advance. Observation is first a teleonomic prejudice of constraints. Science succeeds best when it is double blind and relies upon uncertainty to produce probability! To succeed, we need a memoryless queue of opportunities, and an agent that acts with uncorrelated probability at each opportunity. With enough opportunities, we find the risk of error diffuses into obsolescence. If we want to predict with confidence, we must first break assertions into tiny homogenous slices for which our incorrectness about one does not affect the outcome of the next.

The arborescent conscious builds a hegemony of the majority around which all exceptions are related, within the logic of the observer, as normalized standard deviations from the average. The law of non-contradiction is not a priori knowledge, it is strategic axiomatization.

In contrast, the rhizomatic unconscious is the cumulative deviation that grows in a series of observations within a universe of thought. While uncorrelated probability allows us to wait until enough opportunities pass, waiting for the long-run probability to minimize risk of tiny components secured within the huge system, cumulative deviation is like placing a bet on that same coin toss repeatedly – we can predict with the same certainty what the probability of the next conscious event will be, but we cannot predict how many opportunities we would need to restore our winnings or our debt to zero. This restoration is the realm of morality, the critical leadership in pursuit the cultivated universe.

The unconscious of our social systems, easily expressed in narrative form, is every opinion and method of living that privileged agents leave unrecorded and untold; liberalism pursues the shouting of uniqueness and the failure of false conformity. The impact of a personal unconscious, of the feelings, impulses, ideas, and memories left for later, uncategorized, outside our narrow focus, we will return to later.

Arborescent Consciousness

Although we can properly say little about what consciousness is, we can begin like Kant by describing its modes of operation. We may hold thought as a strategic trait, then elucidate what it gains in practice. Machinic Agency sustains the tension between feeling free and observing determinism, feeling optimistic when surrounded by entropy. Just as quantum physics relies on the assumption of uncertainty to produce probability, the assumption of freedom within a system of rules itself produces liberty. In each case, the Observer plays an active role in framing and anchoring the system of values. Wherever there is observation, the combination of intelligence and consciousness, there is arborescence.

Arborescence is the branching of representations that occurs under the generalization and abstraction of semiotic analysis. Analysis splits perceptions repeatedly, creating dichotomies even where there is no perceptible opposite. This long series of breaks when drawn begin to look tree-like. The Observer creates many trees of knowledge. Philosophers are interested in cultivating these forests.

That which appears as power-law and arborescent when we focus on a trait of a population disappears into chaos and nonsense when we are not looking. That is not to say that there is no existence when we are not the Observer, but that our mind filters, prioritizes, and obscures experience like the lens of a camera, and it narrows perception through framing as well. We overlay representation in the act of analysis, and do so with increasing selfishness and optimism unless some other tree of knowledge competes for the light of the sun.

It should not surprise us that we find fractals and branches everywhere we focus, recording causality and determination along the plane of observation; these are the operative processes of the human recording of production. Moreover, we can fully expect that consciousness will succeed in making sense of what is under observation at the expense of what is not under observation. Patterns suddenly come into focus. Melodies suddenly fall into proper rhythm, shutting out contentious noises. Analysis gives us a normal distribution, spreading, branching upward from the trunk of paternalism. It is the stubbornness of the Observer to remain at the trunk once so many branches have spread that drives the role of paternalism and centralization.

It is metaphor to say that the conscious mind is arborescent, even more to speak of an unconscious at all. These are expressions. When we apply observation, gather data, select a plane of significance, truncate outliers, cancel noise, homogenize particles and investment vehicles, we as the Observer are generating the Fractal Ontology we find, creating but also projecting logic where we have no evidence of design. Just outside the peripheral vision of the mind is everything that does not need observation for The Moment. Concentration, consistency, coherency, abstraction, derivation – these are paternalistic controls over representation. The more we develop our semiotic system, the more repressive it becomes in the service of the Observer.

This implies two basic universes of thought become possible. First, we can imagine consciousness like an astronaut recording a video, floating, spiraling in space; if we keep turning we get a 360-degree image of what surrounds us (consciousness) but understand only derivations of the role or substance of the camera itself or the person recording the images. This places the intelligent observer at the center of a personal universe of representation. Second, we can imagine walking in a circle around a fixed center until we observe the entire 360-degrees available by looking at or beyond the central axis point. In this case unconscious remains in the feeling we can never attain full confidence that behind us, beyond the limits of our peripheral vision, there may not be something we are missing. In either case, Observation is the strategic outcome of the thought-drive, operating like the drive for hunger or sex. We continuously record, focus, frame, anchor, and bias our experiences (consciousness) until the moment our thought-drive must recuse itself and ask “What have I missed? What lurks in the shadows? What if there is something just behind me? What if I am dreaming and great danger awaits my body in the real world?” We can see the immediate value to the Observer of this continuous experimentation with uncertainty, lest he get so lost in his forests of knowledge as to be eaten by a cougar or bear!

The “trunk” of these two conceptions digs into something, remaining unseen but that our observable universe of thought convinces us must exist. It is the prerequisite for sense-making, this assumption that either the world “behind” our representations has substance or spirit, or that the world “within” has equivalent constituents or a ghost. We are never content, except with enormous discipline of practice, to believe that either there is no soul in our machine; or that there might be many forces working in concert, like a well-formed orchestra no longer in need of a conductor; or that this identity itself is the great lie, that we have no soul to lose or preserve at all.

This is the Rhizomatic Unconscious in which we never fully understand our own camera or relate it perfectly to the film, and can never fully incorporate into the image all the elements not captured in each shot. In this way, we observe logic and perfection in the universe not because it is there, though it might be the case. We only know that we observe an apparent logic, but wonder if we ourselves create it. We try to overcome the uncertainty principle, a mathematical solipsism of sorts, through combined will-to-power. We say, “If several observers stand in the center together, looking outward, while even more observers stand in a circle around them, looking at them and beyond them; then we can get a perfect and complete view! Then we can be sure there is not threat or uncertainty!” This very combined effort makes the feeling of liberated will at odds with the determinism of collective observation.

This has always been the goal of our institutions, from the nomadic tribe or primitive commune to our most advanced scientific laboratories and most complete mathematical models. If we work as individuals, we can take greater risks with potentially greater rewards, but if we work collectively we can attain more complete information regarding potential risks and opportunities. We tend to oscillate between extremes, both in single lifetimes and as a species.

In the meanwhile, wherever we focus, we axiomatize. The only method we have found as a collective to help the individual with their unconscious is to shout at them from across the circle, hoping they will believe us if we describe the bear behind them with enough intensity. Unfortunately, many never turn around in time. Death has already come for them in their ignorant distraction.