Notes from Anthropology for social activists, 10 Feb 2018

On Saturday, February 10 2018 Michael Chumakin held the second lecture on Anthropology for Social Activists. Due to software malfunction he re-recorded his message a week later.

Notes for February 10-19, 2018

We are not in the business of finding better ways to explain the world;
but rather we are in the business of changing it.

1. Science.
We looked into science only to find the best possible sample of science, its thinking patterns.
It is classical mechanics and optics as done by G. Galilei, Newton, Kepler, Leibniz, and many others.
Other forms of knowledge: Mahabharata, the Vedas, the Bible, Russian fairy tales, the Iliad/Odyssey.

2. Science as hidden knowledge.
In ancient times that kind of knowledge was disclosed only to specifically chosen people. Pythagoras was one of them. The result was a much slower rate of social progress: the number of social changes was very low.
Socrat, Aristotle and stoics declared they can teach anyone for money.
Lyceum, other schools, universities opened floodgates for philosophy which was the original form of science. Hence the infamous ‘philosopher’s stone’ was a stone made according to science-philosophy, and now this science is known to everyone: beton, concrete.

Philosopher’s stone.
The water should weigh roughly half of that of the cement added. A concrete mix of 1 part cement : 2 parts sand : 4 parts coarse aggregate (by volume) should be used for footings. Concrete must be placed within half an hour of mixing.

Davidovits, Joseph; Margie Morris (1988). The Pyramids: An Enigma Solved. New York: Dorset Press.

Science and common sense today. Why go deeper? There is some hidden knowledge today.

3. The crucial points to check for are:

Classical mechanics
Matter is made of atoms; no God
Two major types of matter: dead and alive
Laws of nature
Light/gravity speed is instanteneuos
Two sets of laws; evolution; various kinds of eradiation
Laws of a concrete discipline
Newton laws, Kepler laws
Model of the object
Eternal, stable, tangible
Depends on the environment and other living orgs, life-death cycles, ever-changing; Hegel: the genus resides while individuals are transient;
autopoiesis (Objective Idea)
Specific intellectual implements (ii)
Formal logic,
Formal logic plus
Duality of live objects

4. Major scientific ii:
— formal logic;
— Math, formulae
— observation, collecting facts (data);
— hypothesis-theory; theory falsifiability-testability-refutability (Karl Popper)
— experiment;
— model is used to predict properties of the object in focus;
— continuity (it is based on previous research, develops former ideas), related to ajacent fields of knowledge (fizics-chemistry)

5. Aufheben or Aufhebung is a German word with several seemingly contradictory meanings, including “to lift up”, “to abolish”, “cancel” or “suspend”, or “to sublate”. The term has also been defined as “abolish”, “preserve”, and “transcend”. Refers mostly to social phenomena, like ‘socialism sublates capitalism’.
Samples of sublating:
a) egg –> larva –> caterpillar –> chrysalis –> butterfly
b) capitalism –> socialism. Capital, money, production for the sake of production are characteristic both for capitalism and socialism.
c) dead matter –> live matter. Hegel: “Individuum is mortal and the genus prevails for ever”.

6. The term autopoiesis (from Greek αὐτo- (auto-), meaning ‘self’, and ποίησις (poiesis), meaning ‘creation, production’) refers to a system capable of reproducing and maintaining itself. Humberto Maturana, constructivism.

Maturana, «AUTOPOIESIS, STRUCTURAL COUPLING AND COGNITION» : „living systems … existed … as autonomous totalities in a molecular medium with which they were in recursive molecular interchange. Through this understanding my claim became that a living system is a dynamic composite entity, realized as a unity as a closed network of productions of components such that through their interactions in composition and decomposition the components.“

7. Creaters of laser weapons who made a laser so powerful it could burn through a tank’s amour-plating could not harm a human body.
Splitting a dead matter molecule requires energy, and creating a new molecule (e.g.: making water) emits energy; vice versa for a bio-molecule: splitting a live matter molecule emits energy while creating a new one by combining two requires energy.

8. Progress from dead matter to live matter as sublating.

Origin of mind

1. life emergence: no clue.
There are two major hypotheses:
— it just happened so; it is a kind of a coincidence (Maturana, constructivism, coupling).
— there is a super Mind in the Universe who acts to his(her) own will; that very Mind conceived life on Earth.

2. The first signal system for feed back:
— nerves,
— nerves’ clusters;
— a specific nerves’ center.
Types of senses: light, sound, tactile, taste, gravity, acceleration, magnetic field, balance (up to 20 various senses).
There is one unversal frequency range for processing data in any earthly organism: 0.5 milliseconds.
The only way to get any advantage is to go deeper with data processing. Reasoning is nonphysiological: we cannot feel (experience) reasoning.

3. New step:
— consciousness monitor (screen);
— memory;
— processing pure data in that nervous center. Thinking, reasoning. Abstracting.
There are two major types of action in brain:
— senses, and
— abstract (virtual world center).
They differ in:
— speed,
— energy/ power consumption. Brain consumes up to 20% of all body energy.

4. Consciousness-unconsciousness, sleep.

5. Evaluation process: good/bad, comfortable, dangerous/threatening, vital/non-vital.

6. Huge leaps in increasing complexity through evolution.

Big number of factors multiplied by numerous links and effects on a number of levels. Singularity.

Technological singularity, a hypothetical moment in time when any physically conceivable level of technological advancement is attained instantaneously – up until physical limits are reached – usually as a consequence of artificial intelligence having progressed to the point where increasingly more efficient self-improvement is viable. Fictional examples – of robots brought about by per- and post-singularity technology – include Data from Star Trek and Marvin from The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.

7. Speech consciousness
Speech as the second sygnal system (I. Pavlov).
Sema as the minimum unit of meaning.
A sema serves as Lego pieces to construct words, word combinations, and sentences; thus people can make millions of words out of a limited number of basic units.
Estimated number of semas for one widely spread language: between 3 and 10 thousands depending on the usage area (there are thousands of technical terms that are used very rarely).
Words can be presented as semas combinations.
semas for the word ‘table’:
— a horizontal surface (walls are vertical)
— a flat surface
— a piece of furniture
— a place to eat at,
— a place to set stuff on,
— a flat surface with legs,
— stylistically neutral,
— and more.

Emotions/senses and modality serve as the markers for the semantic core. Cf.: barcode.

Neurophilosophy (the Churchlands) studies hardware instead of software.
Neurophilosophy treats Mind as an analogue device; thus they crack open human skulls and look into brain trying to locate words and thoughts.
If we see our Mind as a digital device we cannot locate exactly any part of code within body cells; it is the totality of our body (not only the brain) that bears reasoning.
We need to distinguish between the code/programme (Mind) and its material carrier as they are organized differently, they are made of different stuff.

Home work.
Please, think of these to get ready for the next lecture:
— Complexity, its examples in various walks of life.
— Moral values worth of striving for.