Sunday, May 08, 2016

Recent Reading

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I've recently started Adventures of Ideas by Alfred North Whitehead.  I hadn't realize the arc he traces revolves around slavery and its abolition, the movement towards freedom for all people.  He equates this trend with the advance of civilization itself, and our moral tensions, described as "emotions" as having to do with cognitive dissonance.

The philosophers were advocating freedom, yet common sense was saying we had no way to run a large enterprise without slaves.

Given my 21st century sensibilities, putting an "e" in front, for "electronic", as in "email" and "eCommerce", puts a spin on "emotion" as "electronic motion", which is accurate.  Alfred as uses "nerving" as a verb, which I find interesting:
At any moment the smouldering unhappiness of mankind may seize on some such program and initiate a period of rapid change guided by the light of its doctrines.  In this way, the conception of the dignity of human nature was quietly energizing in the minds of Roman officials, producing somewhat better government and nerving men like Marcus Aurelius to rise to the height of their appointed task.  It was was worthy moral force, but the society had been inoculated against its revolutionary application. [emphasis added, from pg. 15 of First Free Press soft cover edition, 1967]
Philosophers these days are called "programmers" but more in terms of theater / TV, converging with "programmers" of computers.  The computer, like the TV, is a mirror.  The TV is a window into the computer (e.g. Netflix) which reflects back the collective psyche of the various cults (subcultures).

Philosophers consciously re-vector various word-meanings, putting them on arcs or trajectories.  We do this by applying "spin", hence the term "spin doctor".

Slavery is always sneaking back into the picture though.  England may have abolished the institution throughout its global empire, but then that empire decayed.  Automation because the capitalist industrialists answer to human labor.  Machines do not unionize or protest ill-treatment (they simply break down for lack of proper care).

Ending slavery as a global institution is concomitant with increasing automation, but then comes the new problem of what humans are supposed to do with their powers.

Some subcultures have been more successful than others in channeling the power or Real Intelligence (versus Artificial Intelligence), serving as a model for others.

With the rise of the TV-computer as a kind of shared collective consciousness, we have the ability to nerve ourselves to continue with the advance of civilization.  Spin doctors i.e. programmers may be found on both sides.  Some want to bring slavery back, or increase its staying power, whereas others expose their agenda and apply counter-intelligence, taking us further towards freedom.

I don't know to what extent Alfred will be mentioning Quakers by name.  They've been at the forefront of wanting freedom for all people, having abolished slavery among themselves and helping with the Underground Railroad.

Slave-owning North Americans were uncomfortable with the cognitive dissonance these Quakers engendered, considered them terrifying.  Even if Quakers preached non-violence themselves, they might trigger revolutionary movements such as mentioned above.  Quakers were pressured to quit the scene and move west, the standard solution for relieving tensions in North America.  Their values spread across the mid-west, bringing the seeds of civilization to new settlements.

So what will Quaker TV look like?  Stay tuned.