Clues.Our lingo

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Our lingo

The perceived possibilities for use that an agent recognizes in an object or situation.
Agent, Agency, Agenda
Act (verb)
Capabilities are modes of exercising control that persons and groups can exercise in seeking self-maintenance in life. Capabilities are both physical and cultural. They are numerous and diverse. Nearly every verb of agency describes a capability.
A capacity is an actualized capability. A capability becomes an actual capacity when control of it has emerged and use of it takes place as a person or group interacts with circumstances.
The physical and cultural resources built up through the sum of human efforts at self-maintenance that have taken place through historical time. The commons is prior to and inclusive of all enclosures. It may be thought of as the unbounded plane of human interaction, with respect to which there are no externalities. The commons is the net of human activity.
Complexity arises because the scope, density, and variety of reciprocal interactions making accounting for each specific action taking place impossible. Hence, complex phenomena appear in experience as aggregates. Vital significance emerges from the complexity of innumerable reciprocal interactions taking place among countless centers of control over sustained periods. This complexity defies clearcut causal analysis. It is important to understand it as the existential field out of which education and all of human experience emerges.
The effort by a living form to use positive and negative feedback to modulate reciprocal interactions of significance for its self-maintenance. The possibility of control arises as a living form postulates a telos, relative to which it judges negative and positive feedback. Control takes place. An agent seeks to exercise it. Its success or failure is contingent on the capacities of the agent and the particulars of the circumstances impinging on the effort.
Digital pedagogy
Existing educational institutions use a pedagogy deeply conditioned by the mechanical techniques of organization and communication developed through the modern era. The constraints and possibilities of digital techniques differ markedly from the mechanical. Most educational uses of digital technologies employ them to improve mechanistic educational systems marginally. To initiate and develop a digital pedagogy, we start by setting aside familiar educational forms and begin to develop a different set of educational principles to serve enduring human purposes.
Disclosing the commons
As enclosure has privatized more and more vital resources and distributed their benefits more inequitably, pressure increases to disclose the commons, to reassert the prerogatives of humanity, in common, over its accumulated achievements. As enclosing private property has been the driving endeavor in the modern era, disclosing the commons is becoming the essential concern in the postmodern era. Disclosing the commons is taking place in large part as communal activities emerge through self-organizing interactions over information networks and prove far more useful relative to their enclosed counterparts, quickly displacing them. Thus, Wikipedia has wrenched the encyclopedia out of the privatized realm and put it into the commons, disclosing anew the status of accumulated knowledge as an essential component of the human commons.
Emergence indicates a new or different state taking place through a critical transition, or change of phase, evident in a pattern of complex reciprocal interactions. Numerous forms of emergence take place in the material world as changes of phase occur in the ways reciprocal interactions take place in response to ambient conditions, as when a liquid freezes solid as the surrounding temperature drops. Emergence in life, in the vital cosmos, includes an aspect of control that the agent of the emergence exercises. As a result, the vital changes of phase take place relative to a self-maintaining intentionality, as when a bike rider shifts his direction of fall by steering against the one he senses taking place. And in a universe capable of endless recursion, intentionality, itself, manifests its multifarious forms as successive states of an elemental indeterminacy take place through emergence.
Enclosure is the operational principle defining the modern era. It results when people privilege the category of causality. All statistical thinking requires and act of enclosure that establishes boundaries and then applies various operations to things within the bounded set. Conceptualizing networks constitutes the alternative to statistical reasoning, for the dynamics of interaction conceptually extend to infinity. Enclosure involves projecting postulated boundaries on selected portions of the material and cultural world, differentiating what is inside from what is outside, which makes it easier to simplify and normalize random complexities within the enclosed area, reducing them to a simplified, causal action of one matter on another through a temporal sequence within the enclosed space. As a mode of thinking and acting, enclosure has proved enormously productive (think internal combustion engine, etc.). It has limits, however, especially as it produces potentially disruptive side-effects by ignoring externalities left out of account in attending only through an exclusive reduction to selected elements of what has been enclosed.
Enough is the balance of negative and positive feedback relative to the purposes that a living form postulates in the quest for self-maintenance. All forms of control exercised in living life require the judgment of what is enough—neither too much nor too little. Enough is never precisely evident; it is approximated through continuous use of positive and negative feedback. Inability to judge rightly what is enough complicates or overwhelms a living form's capacity for self-maintenance.
Externalities are matters not taken into account as a result of the simplifications introduced in thinking and acting on what has been enclosed. Externalities are side-effects not taken into account within enclosure. As a result of leaving externalities out of account, the apparent costs and benefits arising from enclosed activities may differ greatly from those that would be evident were the externalities (e.g., air pollution, resource depletion, climate change, etc.) taken into account.
In the exercise of control, through feedback, an agent recursively senses what is taking place within reciprocal interactions relative to its postulated goal and uses what it senses to amplify or modulate what is taking place in order to more closely approximate realization of its goal. Feedback enables living forms to engage in self-maintenance, to conduct their lives purposively. And again, the universe being infinitely recursive, feedback serves living forms, not only in their efforts to approximate their purposes, but also to evince new, more suitable, sustainable purposes, as complications with established ones become evident.
Freeloading is the proper name for profit, which arises from economic exchanges in which the calculation of costs and benefits does not accurately account for significant externalities.
Persons and publics pursue fulfillment, seeking to self-maintain the greatest meaning and significance possible in their lived experience. Fulfillment is never an attained condition; it is always a sought objective. Persons and publics seek it as the goal or telos, something not presently secured, of their living effort. Seeking fulfillment, they maintain themselves by postulating objectives and using their inner senses of control to attain those in the flux of their lived experience. Fulfillment denotes a utilitarian norm for living in which attainment of the goal can never be simply measured. Fulfillment is the present pursuit of future possibilities, which continues until death. Throughout life, persons and publics must continually interpret and adapt their pursuit of fulfillment in the midst of the ever-changing experience taking place. Fulfillment is always a dynamic prospect.
Intend, intending
** This states the intention of APTS, not the idea of intention active through the place.** What we call the reflective side, accessed through the left navigation column, concerns the intention, rationale, and procedures of A Place to Study. The site exists for a purpose, to facilitate self-formation and liberal learning in the digital commons. This page routes users to discussions of that intention, generally, and under two headings, Reasons to study and With a digital pedagogy. People go to most websites for something, to get something. Here they come to do something, to act with and through the site, engaging in their own self-formation and liberal learning.

Interaction takes place between things, states, ideas, and the like that co-exist in time and space in some way. Co-existence means that it is not possible to confine the action of one thing on another with a direction defined by a temporal sequence (time’s arrow), for the coexistence entails simultaneity and reciprocity. With co-existence, action dissolves into interaction. Rather than a state appearing as the caused outcome of something prior, with attention to interactions, it becomes evident simply as something that has taken place in the course of complex interactions through processes of emergence.
Formative Media
We work with an expansive understanding of media, including in it all the different conduits through which we interact with our life circumstances. As McLuhan said[1]—"The medium is the message."—for the affordances, biases, and limitations of media exert great formative influence on our potentials, aspirations, and actions. We seek to understand those workings in order to exert some control and shape our lives as well as we can. In discussing Formative Media here, we aim at such understanding, partly by sharing insight into how and why different media have formative power in our lives, and partly by reflecting on ways, public and personal, to act with and on them to more effectively form and realize our purposes. let's try to couch those reflections in the form of brief narratives, vignettes that exemplify an idea in action.
Yes! Leisure is the basis of culture, especially self-culture. But leisure is protean; it takes many forms; and we all assert it in our life experience. We let our minds wander; we wait, follow routines, passively go along with whatever comes up. Much of the time we find ourselves in circumstances in which the resources for making spontaneous leisure intentionally meaningful in shaping our lives are out of reach. Hence, only the favored few enjoy leisure in a full sense, and many who have it let it slip by unused.
    • Develop some—leisure as interstices in constrained time that we intentionally use to shape our life capacities and world.**
To live;
Living is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do. Do you see the enormous paradox that is wrapped up in this? A being which consists not so much in what it is as in what it is going to be: therefore in what it has not yet become!

José Ortega y Gasset, 1928[2]

To live—the ground of everything. Without living, nothing can be said. To live has few synonyms, but the verb lends itself to further precision through many adverbs—to live wisely, to live well, to live desperately, to live dangerously, to live securely. . . . See further /What lives?

To live:
  • To be alive; to possess life, either as an animal or as a plant; to be capable of vital functions.
  • To sustain oneself in life, esp. with food; to feed, subsist; to support oneself by means of a source of income.
  • To procure the means of subsistence, esp. habitually; to obtain a livelihood, make a living.
  • To pass one's life in a specified fashion.

To speak about living life active verbs work best. The verb "to be" is best used as an auxiliary verb or as a copula to tell us what a named thing is.

That's us! The list of active participants draws together to community working to create the worksite. It enables participants to know each other and interact more effectively. Their doing so may clarify the changing character of scholarly work as it shifts more and more fully into a digital ethos. Extrinsic incentives to digital scholarship are low and will probably decrease as the digital commons by intention generates little cash flow. What are the satisfactions of digital scholarship, the impediments to it, the constraints on it? Working with few extrinsic constraints and incentives, how does a person want to present their work, for what reasons? Does all this have effects on what a scholar chooses to do and what he seeks to accomplish through in doing it?
To recurse
To perform the same sequence of operations on successive results. To repeat a process whose output at each stage is applied as input in the succeeding stage.

Actions that verbs indicate recurse, they work recurrently, repeatedly, continuously for a time through successive instances of themselves, shaping their outcome in the light of prior results. Hence "it ain't over 'till it's over." Verbs denote a process, a sequence that unfolds or recurs in time, comprising the recursive reiteration of its constituent operations. People often examine recursion in a rather abstract ways by studying how recursion works in special domains like language, mathematics, computer science, as well as art and music.

I think recursion operates fundamentally as a biological phenomenon, a key to embodying cognition, something close to the essential process of life through the cycles of death and reproduction. The world of matter and energy has numerous repetitive phenomena, but they are not recursive. In the physical world some processes maintain themselves for a time. Under the right conditions, they form, then sustain themselves as long as the conditions last, and then they expire. Perhaps life began when some natural cycle of repetition became recursive. Life, living processes, seem to have been self-sustaining physico-chemical process that acquired recursive capability, the power to call forth a new instance of itself before expiring. However the living origins of life came about, life has continued, life continues, and life will continue despite the mortality of its constituent members, and even more, by virtue of it. It has continued to maintain itself through cellular division and eventually through sexual reproduction. Despite the mortality of every instance of life, life itself defies mortality.

An interesting literature on recursion has developed, although I think work on various forms of recursion such as computer-based artificial life generally proceed by relying on recursion but saying little about what must take place in the recursive cycles to properly say that the process lives. How should observers distinguish between actions that maintain a process and those indicate the self-maintenance of the process? Douglas Hofstadter's large but impressionistic work, Gödel, Escher, and Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (20 Anniversary edition, 1999) did a great deal to bring thinking about recursion beyond the confines of computer science, mathematics, and linguistics. The Recursive Mind: The Origins of Human Language, Thought, and Civilization by Michael C. Corballis (Updated ed., 2014) provides an excellent recent survey emphasizing the development and importance of the recursive power of language.

In a highly speculative mood, I wonder whether time itself constitutes an encompassing recursive function by which the universe, natural and vital, continually calls up a new instance of itself? But only time will tell.

Self-maintaining is the essential activity of all living forms. For a living form, death occurs when self-maintaining activity stops. To live is to maintain oneself against the entropic forces of the mechanistic universe by projecting goals that seem conducive to the maintenance of self and by exerting control in an effort to approximate the purpose. As objective phenomena, capacities for self-maintaining must emerge from some constitutive indeterminacy of the universe, and all of life’s vast and complicated purposive efforts emerge from innumerable, recursive, and specific activities of self-maintenance that have been taking place over eons through the lives of living forms.
Self-organizing takes place in the process of emergence. Self-organization properly takes place with living forms, for they have a self capable of organizing. But the term often loosely indicates a mechanical transition in the organization of matter and energy taking place in a phase change determined by external causes. Self-organization often refers to the over-all outcome of an emergent process—the self-organization of a flock in flight. Phase change often refers to the specific transformations undergone as some emergent state self-organizes. Thus, an emergent whole self-organizes as its components each go through a change of phase.
Here's something to study. Go ahead. Look at it closely. Think about each word. It's what students do, not in and for school, but in and for life.

If you were a athlete, what would you add? An artist? Cook? Parent? Cop? Doctor? Gardner? Carpenter? If you cut hair, designed clothes, built roads, nursed patients, filed documents, directed a company, taught school, or wrote books, what verbs would you think important? We learn by doing, and there are many modes of doing, many verbs, and they merit our thinking about them. Why do persons do this? What does it take for them to do this well? Who does this involve? What does doing this well lead to? How can we do this better? When is this particularly important?
  1. See Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1964, 1994) passim, esp. pp. 7-21.
  2. José Ortega y Gasset, What Is Philosophy? (Mildred Adams, trans., New York: W. W. Norton, 1960) p. 223.