Reading Ihde’s Expanding Hermeneutics took a while

philosophy

But this is what I think…

First let me talk about technology and the body. I have been thinking a lot about technology, tools, and instruments. There is an analysis Ihde does around technology and the body. Analytic philosophers make the body flexible, but continental philosophers are more firm about embodiment.

This made me think about what is the relationship between technology and the body. There are two movements the first is (I+technology)-> world. The i is bound up with technology like a telescope – the body is expanded by technology. Then there is the I-> (technology+world) where the world is created by the technology – such as with digital imaging or computer modeling.

But what is technology and how does it become core to thinking to metaphysics and ontology? What has changed with technology?

So here is my thought for the day. Technology creates bodies. Exercise technology or cooking or yoga or eye glasses. This is not that bodies are cyborgs (that may or may not be the case), but technologies shape bodies. Bodies become embodied through technology. That is how technology is world building.

We have the original mythos of metamorphosis – that bodies change. However in mythologies of metamorphosis, bodies do not change through praxis. They change through luck or magic. The truth of this myth is that bodies change through technology which is not necessarily technological but praxis and methodological. This begs the question – what is technology – but another time.

So this is the world building function of technology.It builds the world because it builds the body. Depending on what technologies build the body we are able to then build and use other technologies. So technologies are conditions of the bodies, but bodies are conditions of technologies and it is this bodily constructed technologies that create worlds. Bodily constructed technologies do not so much create worlds as reframe worlds. They are tools of metaphysical (or perhaps ontological) transformation.

There is a discussion at the end of the book which touches upon one of my long standing interests: translation. Once we construct a new world, or reframe the existing world, how do we map our findings back on to another world? Can we even do this? Why do we want to do this? What are the world invariants? Are there world invariants? Is the job of yet another technology to create mapping (I have called this transductions) between technologically constructed worlds.

Then there is the concept of construction – which is less interesting to me – this is that we can study the models of science itself – to me this is akin to Barfield’s notion of idols. Rather than saving the appearances of a phenomena we are studying the results of the measurements of the phenomena. But what is the relationship between the worldviews built by technology and worlds (ie models) built by technologies. Are models worthy of investigation and phenomenology? I would say no – but I have to think about it.

Finally in a different section there is a discussion of calibration. This is perhaps the sister to translation (or what I call transduction), but it is also the starting stage of model building. What makes different iterations of a model different are its calibration, a way to change measurements or observations is to calibrate the instrument. Bound up with calibration is the notion of truth, that there is right starting point. How do we determine what this truth is? How does calibration fit into the world building of technology and tools.

A few weeks ago I sent a newsletter out about creation. A first draft privileged vision. But I rewrote it because I did not like this perspective. In reading Ihde’s book I understood why I privileged vision. That is was actually all of western science that has done this. That we turn everything into something that is read, for example our creation of charts and graphs. Vision is privileged. The way out of idol worshipping in the barfield sense, for Idhe (in my interpretation) is to honor all ways of sensing and create a more phenomenologically complete instruments.
privileged

More Binge Reading of Theory of Lockdown

philosophy

I continue my binge reading and binge commentary on identities journal. I have discovered something interesting – I really am only interested in reading an article 1500 words or less unless it is amazing. Otherwise TLDR.

Lockdown Theory by Jonathan Fardy clocks in at around 675 worlds – refreshingly short! All these essays are called lockdown theory,  and this is just called Lockdown #13 so I really don’t know what I am going to read – but it looks short and my internet is out so I persist. 

One of the interesting things about binge reading all these essays is that many of the authors feel the need to justify the practice that they are engaging in. I wonder if people in most professions are now doing this.

But, here I am reading this stuff, and then commenting on it, when. These are not all necessarily essays, because its hard to write an essay in such as short period of time with the covid19 cognitive load, and the myriad of distractions like  watching a celebrity live feed on instagram.

So while I call these works, essays, the authors call them something else. Fardy calls this work spit-up. What does it mean to “lockdown”? Fardy says it means to fix in place to “lock down”. That coincidentally, is also the purpose of theory, to lock things down. We can fix them to a grid of intelligibility (a philosophical system), or if they dont fit, spit them up as literature. 

But what else is interesting about lockdown is the notion of place. That in order to be on lock down or to lockdown you need to be locked down to something to a particular location.  I am reading a text on the Nakshatra, the houses of the moon in Indian astrologer.  Not necessarily because I am an astrologer, but because I am interested in different systems of meaning making -in different worlds.

In any case, various astrological systems have this notion of house or location. The locations are static, the locations themselves are in primary lockdown. Which house an object (planet, moon, etc) lives has an impact on location. In the tech circles I run in, people are nomadic, there is a disconnection from place. They have lived their life in the opposite of lockdown, whatever that may be. 

But locations have an impact on the thing. Where you lock it down, is just as important as what you are locking down, or that you are locking it down in the first place.  To spit something up as fiction, or to bundle it neatly as a system is to create a place for it. And perhaps as the the idea is released from lockdown, to roam, it will move through other houses. What other houses are there other than traditional philosophy and theory fiction for the manifestation of ideas? What is the celestial wheel that undergirds the entire endeavor? What is the wheel that undergirds that? Turtles all the way down.

CovId19 perhaps operates outside the lunar mansions, it cannot be locked down yet, because it is operating in different orbit and not cross over the terrain that theory crosses over. We can lock down the theory, but perhaps a different set of tools are necessary to lock down the pandemic. 

 

Fardy does not really describe theory fiction but has some excellent quotes that I suggest you read if you are interested. 

OOF - Behar

Object Oriented Feminism – Objects and Subjects

philosophy

About 10 years ago Object Oriented Ontology and Speculative Realism exploded on to the philosophy scene. At a high level this thought machine is about removing the anthropocentric bias in post kantian philosophy (perhaps all philosophy) and treating all things as objects. Then there are a bunch of questions like how do objects relate to one another, how do objects learn about other objects and so forth.

Behar responded to this with Object Oriented Feminism, a queering of this mode of thought. When I think about subjects and objects and feminism I think of Simone de Beauvoir, and the idea that historically woman is defined in relation to man. Man is normative and everything not man, including woman is not normative. Man is the subject and woman is the object.

Men are, and have always been subjects in the kantian/post-kantian (and prior) thought. Women are objects. Perhaps it is radical for a man to say that he is an object like everyone else, but that is not the same for a woman. To be an object is a degradation in this context let’s all be subjects! A subject oriented ontology, or subject oriented feminism. Perhaps it is not catchy enough.

There is a portion of Behar’s introduction of OOF that responds to the stylistic quality of OOF.   This is the picture at the top of the blog post. And indeed SR and OOO has a style -theory fiction, the blog-o-sphere, and urbanomic.  There is a marketing or designed aspect to OOO and OOF.  Aesthetics matter – they are a consideration of how to connect with a possible audience.

Is Behar making fun of the white maleness behind OOO, she says no, but perhaps the design says yes. Would it be so bad to do? OOF is a reaction to OOO. Like oof- I cant believe you did that. The presentation problem of OOO is from one perspective the homogeneity of its proponents. But from another perspective it is about the rejection of the political dimension. 

OOO is the philosophy of people who have the luxury of metaphysical speculation. Objects do not have that luxury. They first need to become subjects, or as OOF wold say everything should be considered as an object. The F in OOF is a political dimension. It notices that there is a power displacement or reorganization in making all things equal (objects or subjects). We could call it OOP (object oriented politics) or perhaps OOE (object oriented ethics).

But OOF is not just political, it is also gendered and embodied. Perhaps we could call this aesthetic, that objects have bodies and that bodies have genders. Behar references Sarah Ahmed and Queer Phenomenology.  Objects have orientations,  that is the embodied part – we can only call something left or right if we are isomorphic.  Is ontology primary to bodies? Does beings come before bodies?  OOF puts action and physicality at the center of orientation rather than pure beings. Objects just dont exist – they exist as political objects in reaching for power to become other than objects – perhaps subjects. 

Technology and Technique

philosophy

I am taking a break from reading about the corona virus, taking my temperature, checking on friends and what not, to write this meditation on technology and technique that arose last week after a discussion with a bunch of Marxists on why we are are talking about technology NOW. Or why technology is something people only started really thinking about 150 years ago (I am not even sure if this assumption is correct, but I am going to go with it). 

Last week I taught a workshop on modern development tools and modern development practices. I think about this workshop in terms of modules. There is the technology training: Docker, Git, K8, CI/CD (Gitlab CI/CD), even GitLab the platform. Then there are the technique training: Modern Ways of Working (Agile), Instrumentation (metrics such as cycle time), Value Stream Mapping, User Story Generation.  One famous example between the intersection of technology and technique is the modern assembly plant. We have the Ford production line (technique) and modern machinery / the engine (technology) together optimizing the production of the car. 

The Interface Fallacy 

In Capital Vol 1, there is a great quote that I am not going to look for now, that talks about how the worker is transformed by technology, just as technology is transformed by the worker.   I always read this in terms of alienation, or modification. That in being forced to conform to the interface of technology. This is sort of my experience today when I fill out a linked in profile and all of a sudden I am turned into a sort of linked in commodity the same as everyone else, with a list of experience, education, certifications, recommendations. It is what happens when everything becomes input (an interface) for a database. (Read Hiroki Azuma’s Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals).  

This is one aspect of how a worker is transformed by a technology. It has to conform to the interface of the technology. How the technology works, how fast the technology works, how the technology integrates with other technology, how to fix the technology, and so forth.  And I do teach that, when I do a module on how to use a particular platform, what buttons to press, how to format a yaml file and so forth.  This however is an intra-personal skill. The worker changes her self in order to work with a technology.  However, there is a second aspect of worker transformation that I am focused on here: technique. 

Technique and the Reorganization of Society

Technique takes place on the network level, on the interpersonal or person-machine level. Lewis Mumford interprets this as a group of people becoming a ‘megamachine’  And this is it is possible to build things like the pyramids. I will discuss this later in  more detail. But I think it is more accurate to think of the interpersonal or person-machine, or organization of society as not a machine, but something you do in order to optimize the use of technology.   Ford’s assembly line is a technique. Agile or Kanban, is a technique.   How you merging Pull Requests on GitHub us a technique.

Optimization

You can have technology without technique and technique without technology. The marriage of both is in service of optimization.  Optimization is a relatively new concept. According to Manuel Delanda in the Age of Intelligent Machines it started with Napoleon and logistics and morphed  into academic discipline Operations Research. Where you look at particular operations and trying to improve some sort of metrics. 

Optimization Epistemology

Here we have a new sort of epistemology.  There is no longer the subject-object distinction of transcendental philosophy, or form-content of Aristotelian hylomorphism, but function-metric (perhaps this will change). You are optimizing a process in response to a particular variable. 

Optative Epistemology

The optative is an ancient Greek verb mood – like the subjunctive. The subjunctive: I would like to go to the park today.  The optative is for things that don’t exist, sometimes this is interpreted as a wish but I like to interpret it as a counterfactual. Like: I would like to go to ride a unicorn today, but unicorns don’t exist, so we cant. We can then expand this to Matrix Epistemology or Machine Learning Epistemology, where we optimize an entire process in response to a number of variables, according to a set of historical or prepared data rather than real world experience. But I digress.

Intermission

This is really just an introduction to these ideas I have been thinking about. I should probably call these things metaphysics instead of epistemologies. Since epistemology is more about how we know things, not what is knowable in the first place. 

But let me tie this back to COV19 – because its really on my mind.  We could perhaps think of the virus as technology, or purel as technology, an social distancing as  technique, for our goal (optimization function) – to flatten the curve.