Interlude II: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel: Let down your hair!”
Curious readers may wonder why we don’t come out and define Value here or offer a catalog of Values at the outset, which would seemingly be useful if the object of Cultural Criticism (CC) is indeed the very same. Such an approach would really be to place the Cart before the Horse in our view, however; so, with our Interlude here we will strive to review somewhat the terrain gone before and reflect for a few moments upon why treating Value as such would be potentially self-defeating for CC as a presumptive science.
One can imagine what dead-ends other applications of science in other fields would have, and actually have, floundered into from too confident and over-zealous forays into Definition of the very objects of their study before proving the many applications that the objects of their study may actually, as distinct from theoretically, possess; not the least misstep would be for Cultural Criticism to mistake Value as related to objects to be obtained from the Existential Field (EF), as something exterior to Agency itself. We could easily get ahead of ourselves here and lend a false impression of what Value principally involves and thereby confuse common knowledge with our analysis of the grounds upon which Agency rests and the modes through which Agency is expressed, still skirting their disparate causality as Instinctual and Rational (not necessarily contradictory, but seen or taken to be so in terms of intrinsic and extrinsic purpose and the effects these have upon Perception and the EF; vitality, abundance and flourishing vs scarcity and deprivation, for instance, lending consequence to humane and inhumane instantiations of Value for CC).
As the EF includes both an internal and external state, an affective and effective dynamic, and an intensive as well as extensive purposes of Agency, such an approach would likely only lead to a confusing jumble of ill-distinct definitions of particular Values, rather at odds with our aims at first to distinguish the modes through which Agency is perceived and actualized, quite apart from the terms of Value that often possess a two directional momentum in the EF: a condition of Agency in themselves with instinctual grounds, but also functioning as means to other Values in the EF rationally determined, being both Personally and Institutionally value-able; Intelligence being one such Value.
We take up the Value of Intelligence here and evaluate somewhat the distinction between the categories of Personal and Institutional Agency as it relates to Intelligence as a Value that actually constitutes the EF (among others), looking also for a way in which this Value can be said to possess a two directional momentum with intensive and extensive qualities that come to define Agency in certain contexts. Our attempt here is to begin a clarification process for the analysis of Value going forward in certain particulars, and to ponder whether and to what degree we may be looking at a distinction among Values that are at once Ontological for Agency (how it comes to be what it variously is), equating to the Personal category of the EF on the one hand, and Epistemological for Agency on the other (how Agency can be reasonably construed for our two categories (in practice)) in the sense that certain Values act to orient Agency within the EF and are afforded or otherwise assume existential validity (integrity) depending upon the context of the EF in which they are realized. This is a terrain not very well tamped down by those who have come before, so we acknowledge the fluid boundaries of our reflections here while being confident that much of this same terrain will be revisited, the discursive paths amended and some of what we may tentatively assert as decisive to be later discarded as mistaken identifications of our quandary, if not clarified.
The science of Physics first emerged from Academy joined hip to leg with its speculative counterpart: meta-physics, to proceed merrily on its way, more or less confidently aware of the parameters of its ‘science’ to develop enormously influential explanatory models that went on to shape the consciousness, perspectives and historical narrative of Progress for modern civilization and extent institutions across the whole gamut of Society. Further questions emerged from the content of these models, more data discovered and implications that indicated the incomplete or insufficiency of the given explanatory models, in some respect, to account for certain properties of or related to Matter as the object of this science. Voila, though not “all of a sudden” but more like a form of awareness that grows brighter with the realization of once unforeseen developments in the course of discovery, Physics had begun to reintroduce what once would have been recognized as metaphysical properties of Matter that, at the outset of the science would have been cruelly ridiculed as wholly outside the proper scope of the empirical discipline and methods first introduced. The science of Physics may well take a quantum leap forward in understanding its objects, their genesis and properties, all the while Society at large remaining fairly ignorant in what way certain tenants, upon which popular assumptions of the Real rests (what ‘matters’), are misapplied as a result of conceptions in Physics over 200 yrs antiquated; albeit the unqualified veracity of such assumptions in the popular imagination being more at fault than the explanatory models of the science itself, though neither exempt. So tricky, and potentially damaging for the Value of Intelligence, is the integration and translation of, really any, science (or candle-wick theology) to the status of public, and presumably common, knowledge. We will, however, not be playing the New Age quantum mechanics guru here.
And yet, the largely silent revolutions within the science holds vastly more profound implications for the going ontological and epistemological assumptions still informing the extent institutions of Society, of Education, of other sciences and what passes for heightened Intelligence in those societies where the narrative of the former Progress still holds primacy. What a cutting-edge, modern physicist understands of their science may then become largely divorced from the popular imagination about what Matter and its associated, materialistic theories means to their status of now atomized organisms; ie, individuals in a social context. Oops.
Problem being, given the current state of civilization built upon the scientific models of the last 200 yrs, inculcated in the popular imagination through Education and the materialistic ideals of Society we now live under, the cutting-edge Intelligence of the modern physicist might just as well be as incomprehensible to the average members of Society at large as any extra terrestrial Intelligence would be to the physicist of 200 yrs ago. They have so little in common, except those things which everyone takes for granted in the EF, to draw upon from their respective disciplines (metaphysics vs common knowledge), as to make their degrees of Intelligence utterly incommunicable. Of course, we’re describing a very rarefied field of Physics today; nonetheless, as an extension directly arising from the foregoing parameters of physics 200 yrs realized, modern developments can be said to squarely rest in direct line of all the previous without too unreasonable of leaps forward. Theoretical physicists, after all, are still physicists; and physics is still a rigorously defined branch of science; and the scientific mind goes largely to define the conceits of modern civilization and its Institutions. Enough said.
Probably the only sector of Society capable of grasping the implications of modern physics is the very sector most interested in utilizing the insight to its own advantage over all other competing interests; namely, Corporatism in league with the branches of National Governments of any importance the world over, and being the primary stakeholders in the scientific methods evolving today, will so soon have a grasp on the utility of the new discoveries as to make all bystanders virtually enthralled, and not in a positive way, before they know what hit them. At that point, there will be two operational modes of Intelligence on the planet; and one of them will be truly alien to the other for all intents and purposes.
Given the Institutional Values prevailing in the West today, it would be no mere guess as to who will be, or even now are, the Masters of the globe and whom the Serfs, once this transition makes its way into the light of day and is outed by the exigencies of emergency survival preparation looming on the horizon. So long as the status quo is arguably sustainable, one can expect more of the same socio-economic trajectory for civilization of at least the last few decades; while, more than likely it will not be until such time as the revolutionary implications for the going ontological and epistemological assumptions of the last 200 yrs actually gives way to the new science and its technological applications that Society is actually allowed to collapse (by the Masters), barring earlier environmental catastrophe (natural or man made) that simply makes life on earth untenable.
For our second diagnosis of Intelligence in the modern era and under the aegis of science, we turn to the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) about which more and more is being openly discussed in public; just about as weird as the quantum field and multiple dimensions to the common knowledge and experience of mankind. It’s a good example in modern times of the exclusionary dangers of too hastily arriving at Definition for our objects of study, as equally in physics as in psychiatry (ODD equals Psychological, Emotional, Political or Religious Dissent to authoritarian powers and the imposition of their Institutional Values) or the presumptive science of Cultural Criticism.
Few phrases conjure up the specter of Anthropocentric conceits better than this one alone, the model for which is, of course, human intelligence with very little awareness of the prejudices and bias involved in such a project; a concept of Intelligence summarily and best analogized in the operations of empiricism with all the mechanical rules of formal, mathematical logic esteemed under the guise of modern scientific methods. Well and good, if that’s all we intend to mean by AI, which would make Intelligence under such a model truly and literally quite ‘artificial’, having absolutely no correlate in the Real, let alone Natural, world, except the computer, for which there seems to be an inordinate zeal for comparison to the human brain among some neurologists and cognitive scientists of a materialistic and positivist bent.
Such a model must prove to be a pretty shoddy and poor attempt at organic intelligence observed across the whole spectrum of the EF and light years apart from the actual dynamic of Intelligence to be found across species even of very heterogeneous types, among which mankind is but one relatively (not at all absolutely) differentiated part from the whole constituting organic intelligence. This is true in no small part due to the very subtly nuanced material and energetic influences that go to Perception, at least half of which are not rational or rise to the level of cognition for the orienting Agency of any individual of any species; but also because some of the influences as experienced by other species are not material at all, as understood within the traditional framework of empirical studies, while such influences must be assumed to be relevant to humans in their capacities for Intelligence as extensions of the organic, evolutionary history of life on our planet. Just because one branch of human science does not allow for the influences coming from or even constituting the effective spacio-temporal milieu in which humanity moves about and has its being, in no way actually dissembles what occurs with Perception at the nexus of the human instrument with the total environment (EF). Why someone clever hasn’t cataloged the extensive history of erstwhile inexplicable but meaningfully punctuated coincidences between the inner and outer realms that the experience of generations of mankind can relate, remains a baffling question (one which the Jungian should be zealous to explore); but that’s understandable, given the empirical demands of the official iconography of science to date. The prospect of such lies outside the province of materialism, obviously; and anecdotal evidence is not an admissible standard of proof for any such nexus. It would, however, make excellent speculative fodder for ontology and emergent epistemology.
As for AI: if mankind is on the verge of duplicating some aspect of its own intelligence, it can only be in respect of a model of its practical rationality, which we have surely only begun to comprehend under guidance of empirical methods, certain determinative influences from, or of, the environment (EF) and organic heredity being mostly excluded from such a model (doubtless because of limited purposes designed for AI), resulting in a mere simulacrum of man’s logical functions derived from this same rational model, having next to nothing to do with organic intelligence realized across a broad spectrum of life on our planet.
The cognitive functions and dynamics of learning across species may well help to elaborate a rational model for such AI (cognitive functions are not purely rational functions, and cognition does not equate to methodical reflection understood as Reason for the human species); which would only be to admit that mankind participates in a learning dynamic that has an organic heredity, the rationalized process of which offers a human example of organic intelligence while merely verbalized by humanity’s idiosyncratic language. Other animals are evidently endued with a very similar learning process instinctively (non rationally), which mankind takes as its own specialized providence. It’s an anthropocentric conceit unworthy of a species that dubs itself Homo Sapiens, claiming for itself what is actually quite common for life on this planet, without all the verbal claptrap.
Such a rationalized model of learning is perhaps best exemplified by human intelligence, principally because we’re too narcissistic to condescend to how other species perform as effectively but lack the appendages requisite for fullest exploitation, (meanwhile, a popular conceit holds currency in the imagination of mankind that we don’t possess instincts (which is utterly preposterous)); but cannot be taken to be definitive for Intelligence as there are most certainly other aspects to organic intelligence that are not subject to empirical scrutiny: the sub-rational dynamics of Instinct that go to orient Perception for any animal in the EF and concomitant intuitions inexplicable to Reason but perfectly natural to Instinct among animals (which much of humanity has squelched in favor of a presumably objective Perception of a limited and limiting scope in the EF); the role of bio-electromagnetism and the interface of these with terrestrial electromagnetic influences (migratory behavior; social constructions among insects; herding behavior among fish and mammals; sheltering and flight responses in the face of pending weather and dangerous terrestrial events); photon and pheromonal affects that convect internal vitality, homeostasis and the sense of well being and expression of alert awareness, curiosity, tranquility (and others), beside the whole relatively unexplained role of aesthetic sensibility in the development (learning) and expression of Intelligence including creative and ritualized behavior in the courting process and other forms of spontaneous play that directly flow from and into the evolutionary imperative of adaptation and species survival.
From an evolutionary perspective (and what could be more evolutionary than organic intelligence?), all of these behaviors constitute Intelligence, which are manifestations of an internal dynamic having instinctual cause and the purpose of survival, beside cognitive determinations; and not just for survival but thriving life that includes pleasure as both means and ends (immediate reward, rest and rejuvenation), which human reason is ill equipped to fully comprehend or exploit.
Empirical methods of investigation of these matters will probably never be sophisticated enough to disclose the breadth and depth, or either the internal or external dynamics, of relationships existing for the subject with its environment that these manifest examples of Intelligence demonstrate. Consequently, AI must strictly be ‘artificial’, a fabrication, an imposture and pipe dream to date, unless what mankind is after is the automated reproduction of its own monstrous and inhumane values. Good luck with that!