Doug talks crazy talk; aka memes, reality, subjectiveness, being phildickian, information, and more...
I am going to start out by saying that there is an objective reality. I will not define the term besides to say, perhaps coyly, what's really real. I do not know it's nature. I do not know if branches based on personal decisions. I do not if it is perfectly governed by laws. I do not know if it has ghosts. I know what I think, but that's not the point of this post. It is sort of the opposite of this post's point. As you will see.
Pop-quiz time! You can just write this down (or keep them in your head), no need to turn them in. A)Do Britons receive subpar health-care? B) Are gays going to suffer for eternity based on their sexuality choice? C) Did today's horoscope just rock your world with its accuracy? D) Have you ever seen a ghost? E) Is it impossible for there to be other civilizations out there, somewhere? F) Does the theory of Evolution provide satisfactory explanations for the existence of human intellect? A-F, most of them (all of them, really) answerable by "yes" or "no" with a couple, possible, "maybe".
This whole thing, this post I mean, started with "A" because I read two things in the past two days. One of them described the absolute horrors of the British (for some reason, the Canadian system is no longer under fire quite so heavily) healthcare system and another described the veritible Heaven-on-Earth that is the British healthcare system. Presumably, the sets of facts seen by both people are slightly to greatly different, but nevertheless, two people who see two totally different worlds. That's the tricky thing about objective reality. You, and by this I mean General You, never get to see it. You get to see it's dirty little cousin: subjective reality.
SR is just like OR except one fact: SR is what's really real to you. That changes just about everything. Kant is kind of the Man when it comes to founding this way of thought, though George Berkeley essentially thought it before him. In Kant's world view, his SR, he presumed that OR was filtered by the human mind. Kantian logic, however, included a subclause that said that everyone, practically everyone, thought the same way. There was no SR, it was just the way we all thought about OR together (crazy people and non-Germans nonwithstanding). Berkeley reached a similar conclusion, except old George thought God assured that everyone's SR would be the same. The reason I said that we cannot approach OR is because we cannot approach OR. Every thought is channeled through a network of past thought. Every sense impression is a delayed (if only by milliseconds) interpretation of reality. What's more, every sense impression is a mental intepretation of a chemical interpretation of a physical phenomenon. 6400 angstroms doesn't look like anything, in a visible light sense of the term, but it looks kind of greenish to you, and that's all that matters.
Seriously, don't get hung up on the concept. Human civilization has done smashingly cobbling together SR and fleeting, flawed sense perception. We've cured things and learned to love a least a subset of other people. I think we'll be ok.
As I see it, there is an OR. Then there is us, with our chemical/mental interfaces and upbringings. These things form a meme-set about us. This MS is much like DNA, which translates proteins into our physical bodies, except the MS translates OR into SR (proteins might be said to have an equivalent in impressions). To us, the OR is much like a sea of information. How we filter and approach that information is an unconcious (if not practically aconcious) act. This is kind of a Philip K. Dick style idea, that we are able to jaunt realities by changing how we approach it, but I take it to a lesser "metaphysical" degree. I am epistemelogical in my approach.
We cannot infinitely approach OR, but we can create quite useful SRs through an appropriate MS that, in cases of sanity, are highly indicative of the actual nature of OR. In an absolutely relative world, there would be as many meme-sets as there are people, as upbringing and prejudice and sensory differences and lifestyle choices and whatnot build up to relatively unique wholes, and I guess there technically are that many MS; but in our world there is something that you could call organizational realities. Some organizations—religions, philosophical sects, sciences, politics, nationalities, et cetera—have a built in compatible meme-sets that they impart to their members. Every organization with one has both a degree of MS size and a degree of MS rigidity. It is an academic debate to find out if we join organizations that fit our MS or if our MS is sculpted by our organizations (I'm going to wager give and take) but nevertheless, we do not belong fully to certain organizations unless we accept their meme-sets as part of our own.
For those thinking that I am being dumb or whatnot, let's just say that a person who thinks that gays are going to hell and evolution has nothing to do with mankind is living in a wholly different mind-set that a person who has no problem with gays and finds evolution to be the chief law of biology. Both of these people think they are absolutely right and have absolutely captured the meaning of existence, and one of the might be right or both might be wrong, but they live in different worlds. Their entire paradigm about the meaning of things is different. That's the sort of definition I am using for world and MS here, if that helps.
A quasi-organization reality is a family unit. We try and impart key memes to our children quite literally like genes. Our children are not perfect replicators, though some of us wish they were, so the memes imparted are often changed slightly from generation to generation, though a key tenant of many religions and other organizations is to prevent this with at least particular sets of memes. Teachers also impart memes. These meme-changers all hold that children are easier to shape than adults. This may or may not be true. Friends. Lovers. Televisions commercials are an attempt to create memes about certain products. "This is the BEST car!" You can think of them, and similar things, as retro-viruses of a sort. They change the meme you have about a product and try an encourage you to spread it word of mouth. Language is a meme transformer, some languages limit or alter the memes contained by them. Politics has especially increased its attacks on meme structure, lately, using both the linguistic nature of memes and the retro-virus like concepts of commercials to change the game. There is also the concept of FUD, which can be used to crack and destroy memes without actually replacing them.
It would not be hard to extend the concept of a cancerous memes, memes that can create "pocket realities" that explode and mutate at a rapid, and literally destructive, rate. On top of this, you have the presence of paradigm shifts that could be the equivalent of rapid evolution epochs, where old memes are unable to compete with new concepts.
I think we are reaching something like a crisis point. In a lot of political debates lately (Was the Great Depression lessened by government spending?) the two MS on either side of the bell curve are absolute and unmoveable while the central curve, the majority if you notice, is muddled by facts, FUDs, cancers, retro-viruses, and offputting zealotry by the outer edges. The majority cannot reach consensus, because the options given as consensus by the very vocal minority edges require impractical absolute acceptance of a meme-set (and, often, the acceptance that the meme-set is right in other ways not central to the current dilemma) that the majority does not want, and so the majority either kow-tows to the edge or it abstains for adopting a meme-set when it comes to, say, voting or being vocal. It is like the climax of a Philip K. Dick novel, where two realities are created and the man in grey is caught between them.This creates a very lukewarm majority and a very passionately hot pair of minorities, which feeds both of the minorities organizational sense of self-righteousness. Look at the healthcare debate. Both sides considers themselves to be saving American and doing, more or less, God's work. How can you expect anything to happen in such regard? Well, you hope the real majority accepts your axioms and gives you the upperhand over the other minority. Which, eventually, it will and then the next big issue comes along and it happens again.
Part of the reason we have reached crisis is because we have now learned enough about the way we think to know how to try and manipulate it. Like that old "What if Democrats could keep Republicans off of Healthcare?" question. It never says they will. It just asks, what if the did? And, what happens, enough people at the edge of the edge, if you will, fell for it. They assumed that the question was only asked if it had a reason to be asked, and they guessed the wrong reason. Will our healtcare reform really be deficit-zero? Of course not, but when that was promised, when the numbers like 880 billion dollars over ten years came out, it was to try and make us think these numbers were absolutely decided as opposed to guesses. Medicare currently costs something like a sixth of our total economy. Do you think we could somehow insure equal numbers of people with a sixteenth of our total economy? There again, though, that's a MS. There are plenty of "game changers". We could cut defense spending, set up government hospitals that work at "no cost", and so forth.
The outcome of this crisis point? I see increased polarity in our politics (believe it not, the similar words have different etymologies) until we reach something like a full societal collapse. In Hegelian history, one pattern is followed by another pattern of opposite quality until something like a synthesizing pattern, which stabilizes and corrects the flaws, emerges. We are getting plenty of the back and forth. We need a shift, though, from heavily structured minority edges to something of a calmer, majority center. Right now, in a plurality, the more moderate pragmatists would win, but the MS of politics is trying to tell you that it's too impractical to give the center a voice.
Si Vales, Valeo