Sunday, October 16, 2011
7. On the nature of reality & our perception of it.
This is Chapter Seven of Anti-Social Engineering the Hyper-Manipulated Self.
It's long and complicated, but it will serve you well to understand this... It is an integral part of anti-social engineering.
So here we are, in the twenty first century and the search for the self is still the most important philosophical pursuit of the day. At least so says John Searle, who is probably most famous for his work on Intentionality.
Any thought that is directed is an intention. This might sound strange at first, but “directed-ness” will be become clearer later. (Then it will become muddy again, then clear, and finally, if you survive, we will have some idea of how the “who we are” works in the “what there is.”) Intentionality provides us the terms necessary to appreciate the nature of reality and our perception of it.
Intentions form from within a network of other intentions and if fruitful, these intentions may grow into new intentions. (Similar to networks of associations making up paradigm in the Philosophy Generator.) Like the Linguists, Searle considers there to be no fundamental difference between the language used to express the idea and the idea itself, in formulaic terms. The idea has to be expressed in some way and while it's unlikely that everyone thinks in “word pictures” the ideas have to be formed, named, organized and correlated, if they aren't, we didn't have them in the first place.
Intentionality is our mental relation to the world. Intentionality consists of those states of the mind, conscious and unconscious, which in some sense are directed at, about or of, the contents of our minds. Intention does not mean just the desire to do something, as in “I intend to go to the movies tonight.” It does mean this too, but not only this. Intentionality also includes every conception formed in the mind, perceptions, feeling, desiring, almost every thought. (There are unintentional thoughts, but it gets more complicated than mere “accidents.”)
For Searle, and so it seems for us, there's only two ways for intention to go: in or out. In linguistics these two possible intentional directions are called the “word to world fit” and the “world to word fit.” These “directions of fit” tie into language and what we mean when we say anything. We either try to match our words to the world or vice versa. As there is very little difference in what we think and how we communicate what we think, let us call these directions of mind, as Searle does too, in their philosophical version of “mind to world and world to mind.” We either try to match our minds to the world or vice versa.
Imagine that I have given my wife a shopping list. My wife has the intention of getting the world to match the list, this is world to mind direction of fit. This might seem backwards. Perhaps you think that it should be mind to world. We are, after all, trying to get the contents of my mind (the list,) to match the reality we seek, (the world.) The key word is “to.” If it helps, think of it this way, (I am trying to get the) WORLD TO (match my) MIND. We are not trying to get my mind to match the world. The shopping list came from my mind and now my wife will attempt to make the world match the list, thus, world to mind.
Let's pretend that, in my wife's absence, I am now free to wrap the anniversary present I have bought her. So it wasn't my intention to get the items on the shopping list, or at least, this wasn't my primary intention. I just gave my wife the shopping list to get her out of the house, so that I could wrap her present, keeping it a secret. Let's not fail to notice that although I might have an overall intention in this scenario, intentions (like paradigms,) are also an interweaving mess of connections, which can get confusing. We will attempt to clear this up, as Searle does. (He credits British Philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe for the shopping list story. I have made changes to it for my own purposes.)
A world to mind direction of fit, such as a shopping list, is an order. It must be either obeyed or not. Let's take a moment to think about this before continuing. Can we imagine a scenario where this rule is false? A world to mind intention is something that we think, which then becomes a reality, if it is obeyed. Well, I can think of building a bicycle made of cooked spaghetti, but I wouldn't want to take it for a ride. This is true, but the intention itself is not in question, just the direction it travels. The spaghetti bike didn't roll by and inspire the idea in my head, it came from my head and I can either obey the intention, (try to build the bike,) or not. My wife, can make the world match the shopping list I have given her, or not. Thus her intention is the shopping list, which must be obeyed or not. The intention has what is called a “condition of satisfaction.” In order for the intention to be satisfied, the condition of “getting the things on the list” must be achieved. For me, my intention was to get my wife out of the house, which can either be obeyed or not. My condition of satisfaction would be the condition of “my wife leaving the house long enough for me to wrap her present in secret.”
If we reverse the direction of fit to a “mind to world” scenario intentionality no longer becomes a question of obey or not obey, but rather of true versus false. Let's assume, for illustrative purposes, that when my wife arrives at the grocery store, she is immediately followed by the store Detective. (We don't have to imagine why, let's just say he's practising.) As my wife shops, her intention is to find the items on the list and put them in the cart. She wants the world to match the list. As the Detective follows her around, he too makes a list of the items she puts in her cart. His list is mind to world direction of fit because it is the world that is providing the content of his thoughts. (He is changing his “mind” to match “the world.”) As my wife shops he jots down, Butter, Beans, Bacon... Finally, when the shopping is done and my wife is at the checkout, she and the Detective have exactly the same list. What demonstrates the difference between the list is what constitutes a mistake in the two directions of fit.
If the Detective gets home, looks at the list and says, “Oh, I'm getting sloppy, she didn't buy bacon, she bought pork chops,” he may change his list. It would be a mistake, but his list, a belief, could be changed, just by changing his mind. Thus the true/false dichotomy of the mind to world direction of fit. If my wife came home having made the mistake of buying pork chops instead of bacon, she could not correct it by just changing the list. Thus the world to mind direction of fit must either be obeyed or not obeyed. This is an important distinction for our overall understanding of intentionality, language and life: The world to mind direction of fit is a statement, it is a shopping list to be obeyed or not. The mind to world direction of fit is a belief, it is an observation about that list, which can be either true or false. Some might find it easier to think of it in terms of arrows going either into or out of our heads; Beliefs go in, desire comes out.
There are also “null directions of fit.” Just as with the W to M and M to W directions of fit, the null direction of fit takes into account the proposition posed by the idea, only because it is null, we take the proposition for granted. So if we think/say “Congratulations on winning,” it is assumed that you have won. We are not attempting to change the world, nor are we being changed by it. We are not making a case, we are not representing a state of affairs. There is still content to our utterance, just no intentional direction of fit. There is no “change to be made.” Nothing to obey and the belief (that the person has won) is included in the statement. (We don't say, “I believe you have won, so Congratulations.”) However, by this inclusion, these null states of fit contain or point to beliefs and desires. All statements, (or ideas, remember,) that have null direction of fit are also either beliefs or desires, or a product of those beliefs or desires. For example, if you're ashamed of your big nose, you have to believe that you've got a big nose, it has to be your desire to not have such a big nose, you got to believe that others think your nose is big and you can desire to attempt to conceal it, etc. The opposite is true as well, if you were proud of your big nose. So null states contain states that are not null. (Or, there is always some intentionality attached, even to the so-called unintentional.)
The basic forms of intentionality are belief/perception, where we represent things to ourselves (arrows going in) and the desires/intentions where we try to change the world to match our mind's contents, (arrows going out.) Some feeling and effects are outside the basic forms. What goes for shame and pride goes too for love, hate and admiration, etc. This represents the holism of intentionality. Holism, which should really have a W in front of it, is the recognition that intentional statements are often arranged in networks of intentions. There are parts to the whole, connected in any number of combinations.
Another facet of intentionality that helps to illustrate the definition of the word as something that goes beyond “meaning to do something” is the fact that even when unconscious, we are being intentional. This will also help you understand how “unintentionality” may not actually exist. For instance, you know that the sky is blue, even when your asleep. You're not thinking about the blue sky, or how the sky is blue, you're in a sound sleep, not thinking of anything. Yet if I woke you up and asked what colour the sky was, you would know. We understand that unconscious mental states are intentional if they are the type of thought that can be brought into consciousness, (it's hard to imagine a thought that you couldn't do this for. The possible absurdities!) We needn't consciously contemplate that we should drive on the right side of the road (in my country, anyway.) We also don't need to think about stopping at red lights, signalling to turn, pushing the clutch in before shifting gears, etc. This is because all of these things have become what Searle calls intentional “Background.”
Searle asks us to imagine that we have the intention of becoming President. One has to believe in and obey a whole series of intentions to run for President, but most of this is taken for granted. One doesn't have to think about how the voting process is going to require voters, or that these votes will have to be counted, or that you will run in the country in which you live, or that it will happen in the future, not the past, these things are “the Background.” The background also includes things that we do not take for granted, sort of the negative side of what we do take for granted, such as, one does not get elected president by hiding in a cave or committing suicide. This would be absurd, which is why I call this the “absurd background.” We don't take the absurd for granted except to not think about it because it is absurd. Why would we waste time thinking of all the things something wasn't just to know what something was? Only the opposite is helpful in ordinary life, when we can recognize that someone is feeding us an absurd idea, we can reject it.
At this point, we understand the intentionality of the mind as a representation of the conditions of satisfaction in one or the other directions of fit. Now we must discuss the “how” of the matter. What is it that satisfies the conditions? If the intention has the mind to world fit it is our perception of the world's intention that satisfies the conditions. If it is a world to mind direction of fit, we must “act” to satisfy our conditions. In other words, if the world throws a thunderstorm at us while we are camping, we feel the wind and rain, we see the dark clouds and lightning, we hear the thunder, etc. We have sensed the storm and by doing so we meet the world's conditions of satisfaction. (The M to W direction of fit means the storm is perceived by us, we must then determine it to be true or false. In the case of a storm, it is an easy decision. One can see the problem, however, if there was a clear blue sky and a fellow camper said, “A storm is coming, you'd better prepare.”) If we react to the storm, we simply do anything, perhaps we speak, “Get the food in the tent!” We physically move to gather up our belongings and put them away, we get into the tent ourselves to stay dry and warm, etc. The world will not change unless we act, and the world itself, just is.
Ultimately, we will find that action is what matters, for if everything remained an inactive intention, no conditions would ever be satisfied. There would be no intended changes to the world. There could be statements, definitions, beliefs, mind to world qualia that could be determined true or false. (“Qualia” means feeling or interpretation of thought, sort of “mental sensation.”) There could not be a rule to obey, a recipe to follow or any other world to mind phenomena that would require action. Action, after all, is what changes the world, whether it comes intentionally or not.
If this seems a little incomplete, that's because it is. You are very astute. Things are going to get a little more complicated now and it is important that you understand where we are, in order to see where we are going. I'll sum up, as simply as I can: Intentions are the mind directed. Put into the simplest format, intentions are information shared between the world and a mind. We have mentioned in previous chapters that, loosely defined, everything is information. This sounds silly, you might ask yourself, “how is a boulder, information?” The answer is simply, “it's boulder information.” You, (and your mind,) have to experience that boulder in some way, you can do so by realizing it is a boulder via your senses. What your senses are detecting, the intention of the boulder, is the “boulder information.” (Hold that thought.)
This “information” can only be directed in two possible ways, either from the world to you or the other way around. In one case, “mind to world” you change your mind to match the world, in the case of “world to mind” you change the world to match your mind. These are the two “directions of fit.” There is also a “null direction of fit” where you are not changing the world, nor are you changing your mind. Sometimes things we intend are just statements, information passed that doesn't really amount to anything, other than the information itself. For instance, if we say, “Congratulations on winning the race,” or “I'm sorry” we are not changing anything. We are able to take null directional fit propositions for granted. We assume that you are, in fact sorry, or that you do wish to congratulate the winner of the race. Because it bleeds into the background, (that which we can or must take for granted,) this information should now be background.
Let us now move on to perception and action. The two “acts” of mind that we, as bearers of mind in reality, must utilize to exercise our intentionality, or if you prefer, to simply be and do. Perception, is simply intention going into our minds, to be perceived. Action is intention going out of our minds, by our deeds out into the world. Again, let's not get immediately lost in the daily definitions of these words. We can easily interchange “perception” with “belief” and “action” with “intention” in our philosopher-speak. So imagine the following scenario and pay specific attention to the language: We believe the boulder we perceive lying in the middle of the road is true, (a condition of the satisfaction for the intention of the world) and we intend to act by swerving the car around it safely, which we can either do successfully or not, (a condition of satisfaction for our intention.) If this sounds again like the world is “thinking,” remember, the world's condition of satisfaction is met by either being true or false, either being or not being. We do the world's thinking for it. The intentionality the world offers us is for nought if we don't notice it. We are going to presume, as an Intentionalist does, that the world and all of reality exists. (However, while it is true the world is not thinking, if it helps you to keep intentionality straight in your head, please continue believing it is. It can't hurt.) Reality, I'll say again, just is. For us, the what (information) and the how (?) of reality are not our concern. We are working on and with what we have, the mind in the world.
Our condition of satisfaction, in our world to mind fit, the position of the bearer of mind working from within reality, is a question of act or do not act. So if I perceive a boulder in the road, I can swerve or not, I can also succeed or fail in my attempt. So I have what Searle calls a Prior Intention, (the desire to swerve around the boulder) and an Intention in Action, (the attempt) which is done with Bodily Movement, (which is either successful or not,) which determines if the conditions of satisfaction have been met. (I may abbreviate these terms: PI, IA, BM, and COS.) Let's assume I want to swerve around the boulder, this is my Prior Intention, called prior because it comes before the act. My brain says, “Let's swerve around that boulder!” And I respond to myself, “Obey!” The obey command is my Intention in Action because it causes my Bodily Movement. Then, for the sake of argument, let's say I am successful in my attempt, then my Prior Intention's Conditions of Satisfaction have been met. My PI was to swerve around the boulder, I decided to put that Intention into Action, I did so because my Body Moved, (followed by a whole heap of other causations: I tapped the breaks, I turned the wheel, I did all of these things having the “background” that I do.) So that, in the end, I swerved well around the dangerous boulder.
Now let's assume that I am not successful in my attempt to drive around the boulder. I hit it and crash my car. I perceived the boulder, I had the Prior Intention of swerving around it but for some reason, perhaps I was sleepy, I couldn't respond quickly enough. My body did nothing. There was no Intention in Action and therefore no Bodily Movement. Ergo, I crashed and the Conditions of Satisfaction for my PI have not been met. I have failed to obey. However, if I had attempted the swerve, tried but failed, had Intention in Action and Bodily Movement, I would have still failed to satisfy my Prior Intention of missing the boulder. The only difference being that, this time, I had gotten further along in my processing. The intention in action had given my body movement, but perhaps I just couldn't do the required driving and I hit the stupid boulder. So it seems that the world doesn't care why I fail to navigate my vehicle around the boulder. Which, I guess is true, the boulder just is, the rest is up to me.
So far in our boulder dodging example, we have discussed options for examining PI>IA>BM>COS and we understand the importance of the order of these terms. We have also assumed that I did perceive the boulder. With no perception of the boulder, no intention is possible and the world's intention would be, as of yet, unknown. Missing the boulder leaves us with two new considerations, either you are not noticing the boulder on the road or it's not there. If it is just that you are not noticing the boulder, you are about to discover the power of the world's intention in one mighty crunch. The boulder is real, in this case, so the world's C.O.S. is true. If the boulder was not real, was not on the road in your way, then the world's C.O.S. would not have been met. Boulder=false=no boulder. (At least, in our story.) We could say that everything that is, is a false “everything it isn't,” but who wants to? This is the background absurdity of the world again. If there is no boulder then you have no need to react. With no intention there is nothing for you to define conditions of satisfaction for.
Now suppose that it's not a boulder, it's a mud puddle that you confuse for a boulder. Your prior intention is still “Miss that boulder!” Your intention in action is still to obey, which you do with bodily movement. In one case, the first case of failure, you splash through the puddle, braced for impact one second and breathing a sigh of relief the next. “Thank goodness that wasn't a boulder!” The world has proven your perception false. In the second case of failure, you swerve around the puddle too sharply and your car rolls off the road, flipping several times in atypical Hollywood style. In this case you have failed to meet the COS of your prior intention of missing the boulder because, it is assumed, you meant that you intend to do so successfully, that is to say, without doing all the things you wouldn't intend, like crashing, dying, etc. (Again, it's easy to be absurd at this level of understanding. Stay focused on the positives.)
In all cases of our own failure to satisfy the conditions of our intentions, it is the world that proves us wrong. But what if it was a puddle but you thought it was a boulder and you navigated your way around it easily. You might continue on your merry way believing that the puddle was a boulder. Who's satisfying what now? There are two realizations that can helps us here, firstly, if you think there's a boulder there, there is a boulder there, until it's proven otherwise. (Not in a court of law, not word of mouth, not anything I'm going to have to just believe, we want proof, we want perception. “Show me the boulder!”) If it is proven otherwise, it never was a boulder. If, for instance, there was a witness to you swerving madly around a puddle, said witness could attest to there being a puddle there and specifically not a boulder. It might seem silly to say it in this example, but you've seen the exploration of misinterpreting the intentions of the world, in art and in life, constantly. (“No I never!” “Yes you did!”) You, by the way, are perfectly within your rights to denounce the witnesses' observation on the grounds that you can't speak for the world, just for your perception of it and you perceived a boulder in the road. (Yet the argument will not work, because perception is, at least partially, unreliable. The world just is, or is not.)
In all of these boulder/puddle examples, one simple rule stands above all, unwavering, “If the conditions of satisfaction of any particular intention are going to be met, they must be met as the intention dictated or they have not been met at all.” The intention in action is required for any conditions to be satisfied, but it must be for the prior intention.
Let's look at one more, much shorter example that Searle himself uses. Suppose you hate Bill and you decide you're going to kill him. You load bullets into your pistol, drink a fifth of scotch and get in your car. Your intention is to drive over to Bill's house and shoot him dead. (Philosophers love extreme examples.) Along the way you accidentally run over a pedestrian. You pull over to check on the guy, who turns out to be Bill and he's dead. You have not satisfied the conditions of your prior intention, despite the fact that you desired to kill him and you did kill him. The COS of your PI hasn't been met. You meant to shoot him. If you hadn't stopped to see if you could help whoever the poor bastard you hit was, you wouldn't even know it was Bill. Even if completely honest in court, you probably wouldn't be charged with first degree murder, because your lawyer would correctly argue that, despite your intentions, killing Bill, as you did, was an accident.
Now that we have a basic understanding of intention, information, direction and satisfaction, let's look a causality and how the background plays into it. You remember that our background is that which we needn't contemplate. This background is going to be different from person to person. (If we eliminate, as we have, the idea of the “absurd background.”) For instance, I'm terrible at golf. I've played only a handful of rounds and I'm not at all interested in getting better. For the sake of argument, imagine that I'm out on the green again, for another round of torture and I'm playing with my friend Peter, who's pretty good at the game. Peter has played since he could swing a club and in those thirty odd years, he's got his “game on.” When I'm at the tee, ready to whack the ball, God knows where, I'm intending, “Okay. Breath normal, head down, don't grip the club too tight, keep the left elbow straight, don't smack the ball, just swing, don't lift your shoulders, follow through, etc, etc, etc, etc. (Man, I hate golf!)” Peter, on the other hand, walks up to the tee and thinks, “Okay. I need this ball to go about three hundred yards, slightly to the right.” Whack! Peter's background is very different than mine, as determined by our golf intentions. My list of conditions of satisfaction is much longer than his. This is because he has hit about a million more golf balls than I have. He doesn't have to list all these separate intentions because they have fallen into his background. This illustrates how your background is going to determine differences in your intentions, relative to your experience. (Also, this helps define the overall goal of this book: Imagine how good at “thinking” one could be if the information presented could be transformed into background. Instead of having your golf game “on,” lets get your contemplation “on.”)
The direction of fit, also has a counterpart that, up until now, we have ignored. This is what Searle calls the “direction of causation.” Before we talk about the philosophical vortex that is created by looking at your watch, let's try some simpler examples. These examples, it is hoped, will illustrate John Searle's powerful statement, “Cognition and volition are parallel.” In addition, I wish to make clear the following: We represent how the world is in our perception and memory only by virtue of the fact that the world causing to be that way makes it possible. Our intention in action, our changing of the world, is the opposite; the world represents our efforts to change it only by virtue of the fact that we were successful in our efforts. What this means is, if we attempt to change the world, the change only occurs if we are successful and we only perceive success if the change occurs. At this point in our examinations, if your brain hasn't yet exploded, one of two things has happened, firstly, you think this sounds redundant or self-evident, which it is, so you are likely a very bright human being and we are halfway there. Now remember that secondly, we are looking at how it is that this relationship between the mind and reality is true. We want proof! Just because you know something to be real, doesn't necessarily mean you know anything about what “knowing something to be real” means. Ultimately, the truth of intentionality is, “We create much of the world in our minds.”
Perception and memory take place in the mind, but they are a product of the world. They are mind to world fit. (We change our minds to match the world.) The aim of perception and memory, the reason it seems they exist, is to represent the world to us, as it is and was. (Which we define as information to believe or not, to act on or not.) Perception and memory, while mind to world direction of fit, are world to mind direction of causation. The world, (reality,) causes our perception of it by virtue of the fact that we are here to perceive it. We are able to change it if we like. Action is the key difference, it is what makes the directions of fit and causation switch with each other.
Such is the power of the mind able to change the reality it perceives, inwardly by belief and outwardly by action. Yes, believing or intending is an action. It does not count as Bodily Movement though. Speaking does, not only because you move, but because it is through sending the intention out into the world that the world has the opportunity to change. (And also know that you think thusly.) You can have a mental intention, but it would never be known if you don't move. It is kind of a weird thought isn't it? We are all very lucky Stephen Hawking is alive now and not in some less technically able age.
So, we change our minds to be like the world and we change the world to be like our minds. We make these changes, however, because of the “influence” of the opposite end of our direction of intentional fit. If we change our minds to match the world, it is because the world has caused the possibility of the intention, (it's only because we can.) Thus world to mind causation makes mind to world intention in action. Action exposes the very core of reality, we have a meeting of all known possible transaction: The mind, the intention and the world. (The direction of causation is direct, if we say “World to mind” causation we mean, “the world caused my mind to...” If we say “mind to world” causation we mean, “I caused the world to...”)
Contemplate the following story from within the paradigm of intentionality as we now understand it. Try to keep in mind the apparent directions of intention and causation. I'm driving down the road. (IA) the world put the boulder in the road, I notice it as I'm driving, (world to mind causation.) I then create the Intention to swerve around the boulder (PI), I do (BM)(mind to world direction of fit.) Having passed the boulder successfully, I reach onto the passenger seat and pick up my pistol. I check that it's loaded. I'm going to shoot and kill Bill (PI) because he stole my Gordie Howe autograph collection. “What the hell?” SMUNK! (I just accidentally ran over someone...) I pull over and get out to check on the person I hit. It's Bill. “Wow.” I think. “I better put this gun away and call the cops.” Can you see the directions of fit and causation. Anytime you do anything you are changing what reality is. Anytime you do something it is due to something else being done. If you were to list how it is we know the directions, it might look like this:
“What is we want to do?” = PI = Kill Bill = MtoW Direction of Fit.
“Why?” = “He stole our autograph collection.” = Direction of Causation = WtoM
“What is it you're doing?” = IA = I'm driving to Bill's to shoot him = MtoW DofF due to WtoM DofC.
“Look out there's a boulder!” = WtoMDofC/MtoWDofF
“Swerve around it!” = WtoMDofC and MtoWDofF. In this instance, the PI+IA+BM= the conditions of satisfaction being met. (We're successful in swerving.)
“Look out there's a man!”= WtoMDofC and MtoWDofF. In this instance there is no IA or BM, so no C.O.S.
SMUNK (The sound of a body being run over.)
“Oh! It's Bill. I've killed Bill, but not the way I intended.” Excuse your odd indifference and think about this last sentence. If this is the conclusion of all these intentions, what caused Bill's death? Was it your intention, or the worlds? What conditions were satisfied, if any?
Finally, let's examine the idea of intention and causation being what is called “causally self referential.” Here we can examine the “Smunk” sound that was created when we ran over Bill. Who's intention was it to create this sound? (We are referring to the act that created the sound.) It wasn't my intention to hit Bill with my car. Let's assume it wasn't Bill's intention to be hit by a car. (But it was the world's intention to put Bill in front of my car, because it did, after all, happen. Remember, the world just is. Its intentions either are or are not, true or false.) What caused Bill to get hit by the car? Well, two things, Bill and me driving my car. Thus, this is causally self referential. Bill wouldn't have been killed by my car if both he and the moving car hadn't come together, creating the SMUNK. The smunk is what refers two parties, (the two selves, Bill and I,) to the causation. No me, no intention, no cause, no car, no Bill, no intention, no cause, then no event and Bill lives another day, (or at least, until I get to his house and shoot him.)
Let's examine the example of looking at our watch to help solidify the idea of the causally self referential. This is one of my favourite aspects of intentionality because of the feedback loop that is created by doing this act. I imagine this act with arrows of intention, coming from my mind, going out my eyes, into the watch. Then my watch sends its intention, in arrows, out of itself into my eyes, into my mind, which then goes back out, into the watch, ad infinitum, thus the loop. (Here, we can ignore the further maddening aspect of there being no actual “now” to speak of. Time never “holds still.”) When we want to know “what time it is,” we look at our watch. However, we can only look at our watch because we know it's there. It's only there because we want to measure and mark time. We only want to measure and mark time because the phenomenon of time is there to be measured and marked. Time is only to be measured and marked by our desire to do so. We need a watch to do so and we need to look at it as well. Thus, the circularity. To put it in intentional terms, time is world to mind causation and mind to world direction of fit because time is a factual product of reality that we must wrap our minds around. Time is also mind to world causation and world to mind direction of fit because we define all of time's parameters, then send those definitions out into the world. There are many other, simpler examples of that which is causally self referential: a stop sign makes you stop, but it does so because we've all agreed, that is what it's supposed to do. This self referential causation is sometimes known as “mind to world to mind.”
This ends our study of the individual's intentionality and moves us on to Collective Intentionality. Consider how it is that, when I come to a stop sign, it is not some mystery to be solved. It is a symbol that I recognize as intentional and I direct my intention toward it accordingly. The recognition is part of the process, (the perception part,) but the real power lies in the symbol's ability to cause me to act. Acting, as we know, is what changes the world. If you don't believe that a stop sign should be recognized as such, perhaps you will learn why it should be, that in some cases, collective humans create their own objective reality and do so properly. If this is a lesson you need to learn, I hope you have your seat belt on. This does not mean that we always act perfectly: war, law, money, government, these are the Institutional realities we may begin to now ponder. We will begin to see the importance of understanding what we have learned thus far; How people think about what they are doing is crucial to what they are doing and in some cases it's essential.
Collective Intentionality is necessary for Institutional Reality. We can define institutional reality as any paradigm that is entirely social. It is pure social engineering, something we must all agree on. Money is an institutional reality because we can never actually experience money without assigning belief to it. We can experience a piece of paper that has the markings we recognize as being indicative of money, but this is not the same thing. We can experience or discuss the idea of money in the same way we can experience or discuss the idea of a perfect circle. We cannot experience an actual perfect circle anymore than actual money. These things are only true in their ideal state, which only exists in our minds. However, there are institutional realities everywhere, in ordinary life.
Where individual intentions are “I believe, I desire” collective intentions are “We believe, we desire.” Searle reminds us that “We intend” is just, “I intend and I believe you intend.” Just like in cases of individual intention, we have the considerations of Prior Intention, Intention in Action, Bodily Movement and Conditions of Satisfaction. The difference being that now perhaps there is metaphysical distance between the prior intention of a group and my individual intention in action. For instance, the orchestra has decided to play a specific piece and I'm aware of my part in it. The prior intention of the group is to perform Beethoven's ninth, my intention in action is to play my part correctly. The individual's IA is derived from the groups PI.
One of the most obvious methodologies to establishing (and maintaining) institutional realities is to impose functions on objects. A shopping list and a dollar bill are not the same thing only because we accept what they represent differently. Function is at the discretion of the observer. The assignment of function is what differentiates the dollar from the list. These items we hold are both paper with ink on them, but when we look at them we see two distinct things, with two distinct functions. Consider even, just one type of thing, such as a collection of stones. If we were building a wall of mortar and stone, we would look for stones that would stack well. We have then assigned a function to the stones and have defined our conditions of satisfaction that have to be met, the stones must be shaped such that they are “stack-able.” We don't talk about “better or worse” stones, unless we assign a function to the stones. That function then has to be accepted.
Searle says we can define this assignation of function by either his Regulative Rule, which simply regulates the function (such as we drive on the right side of the road,) or by his Constitutive Rule which defines what the “thing” is, by declaring, “X counts as Y if C.” (A piece of paper counts as money if it has such and such markings and what not.) Here you may notice the difference of these rules, the regulative rule is like a suggestion that everyone follows. At some point, someone decided it just made sense for everyone to travel on one side of the road, and we do. However, the constitutive rule changes what something is, into something else. These rules are everywhere. If you take the Queen off of a chess board, she becomes just a small statue. Change the red-yellow-green paradigm of a traffic light into a spinning blue laser and watch the accidents pile up. Take all the letters of a sentence and jfdij fjdioiej djisodj. A constitutive rule says X counts as Y if C. Anytime you see it you are not dealing with a real thing, you are dealing with an idea, which can only be a representation of a real thing. All of institutional reality can be understood by contemplating collective intentionality, assignment of function and the constitutive rule. Much of reality is institutional. Thus, the value of our discussions.
Now let's examine how it is possible to assign function to that which doesn't even exist. Then we'll look at how we go even further in our daily lives to honour things that are just representations of functions that don't exist. (Which is another way of saying, there are things in this world that don't exist, that we honour as if they did and these things are even based entirely upon things that never existed in the first place.) If we had built that aforementioned wall, out of stack-able stones and mortar, perhaps we did so as a method of separating our village from the next. So to, would we have a stack-able series of intentions: We need a whole host of series to achieve any complicated task, particularly if cooperation is required, but here let's focus on how we have assigned function to the stones that make up the wall that also has a function assigned, as do we for building it, honouring it, etc, ad nauseam. (It doesn't really matter why it is that we need the wall, but we can assume that “they” are supposed to stay on their side and “we” are supposed to stay on ours.) Our wall is grand and very well crafted, it lasts for years and years. Over time it degrades, perhaps a generation goes by, maybe two or three. Finally the wall is gone, reduced to an odd section of stacked rock, here or there. Through the years the villagers from both sides have honoured the regulative rule of the wall and stayed on their side. Yet now that the wall is no longer there the villagers continue to stay on their sides. The odd stack of rocks, and/or just the idea of the wall, will now constitute the wall.
The wall, as an object, had an object function that we defined by the regulative rule. Our intentions are clear, “Here is a wall. It is here to keep our two villages separate.” All objects have object functions if we assign the function solely on the grounds of its ability to perform that function. For instance a knife is not a knife if it has no edge, a chair is not a chair if you can't sit in it. The wall starts out as an object function, but after deteriorating to near non-existence, it becomes a status function. The wall is no longer “an object” and can't fulfil its function. The wall's intention then becomes a “stand-in” for the real thing. Our acceptance of the wall constitutes the intention of the wall, but not the wall itself. If we honour the intention, the wall's being there is irrelevant. Searle reminds us to keep object functions separate from status functions at all times. The wall being there means that we don't know if the wall not being there will keep the villagers following the rule. Thus, status functions cannot be known if object functions are still present.
Money is doubly institutional, if there is such a thing, because the money is assigned its value, in the first place as a symbol and in the second place as a valueless fiat. Money, at least in America, is doubly false, doubly unreal, doubly useless. If you follow the evolution of money there are three basic types of currency evaluation: Commodity, things such as gold and silver. Then there's Promissory or Contract, where there are notes given “in lieu of Commodity.” (Which makes “notes” as valuable as commodity.) Then there is Fiat, which is arbitrary. Now when I first came to this discovery of Fiat currency, I went looking for more answers. I wondered if there could be such a thing as “meaningless money.” Unfortunately, it is a reality that governments, should they so choose, can just say, “this dollar is worth X” and we play along. I'm not an economist and frankly, I don't want to be, so I'm not going to explore this amazing farce anymore than to illustrate: Fiat money is a status function of a status function. The money itself, doesn't exist and it's based on a value that doesn't exist. Money is not there except in our belief. What does it say about us that we know this to be true, yet we still play along?
For John Searle, things are either brute facts or institutional reality. Institutional Reality works because we impose functions that define power. We're not assigning rules to frivolous things that don't matter, we are not constituting intentions willy-nilly, at least, this is my hope. So it seems that the things that we are asked to believe must be important. If they are, then surely they are worth mulling over. We are not asking about God here, nor even any grand scheme of society, we wonder about ourselves. By realizing when someone or something “asks” us to believe in it, in its intention, to create some reality out of an idea, we can begin to wonder about the value of following the rule. Institutional reality gives power to ideas through intention. It empowers either the X term or the bearers of X. “This note is legal tender” doesn't describe the note, it makes it what it is. It is one of the things created in our reality, yet only if we participate.
What are you creating in your reality?
at 9:17 AM