Here's to a good time, a good life, and a good death.
So, I have been advocating a gradient, largely contextual type of thinking that I have termed FAM. In short, this conceptual framework seeks to incorporate complexity theory as well as emphasize the analyzing of relational forms between variables. In order to achieve these two goals, I adhere to focusing on measurability, Why so?
When I say measurability, I am referring to the ability to distinguish different intervals or degrees of characteristics within a particular subject. Without discovering measurable properties, we are left unable to analyze the validity of an idea.
So I had mentioned before that measurements can be flawed. I want to re-emphasize this point again with a quick example. Take GDP, gross domestic output, a measure commonly used for economic growth. The measure captures all goods and services produced within a country’s borders within one year. There are six major problems to this measure, which can all be found here. But, just for brevity, I will list them here. GDP does not account for differences in distribution of income, differences in hours worked, international price differences, difficulties in assessing true values, hidden economies, and currency conversions. In short, measurements can be more or less flawed and remembering this can be quite useful.
Consider this. A little under 1,000 years ago, Plato concocted a theory of forms. Now, this theory emphasizes the importance of the metaphysical world, which is largely theoretical in nature and well can be kind of confusing. But stay with me. Plato only writes about this theory within the discussions of Aristotle, so I will talk as if Aristotle advocated this theory. Basically, the interesting point in the theory is where Aristotle points out that the circle, as an exact, geometric shape, does not ACTUALLY exist in our physical world. Why? Because it is impossible to reach the exact precision to form a perfect circle by achieving 0 margins of error.
Let’s say someone cuts a tree trunk and carves that wood into the shape of a wheel, or a circle. The object does not have to be confined to a circle, the properties of any shape hold the same attributes in regards to this argument, so squares, triangles, etc. Now that individual may use a hand saw, in which case the precision will be relatively far worse than let’s say the using of a programmed laser. However, let’s say the user selects a laser to get precision much more narrow and refined. The laser still bears a cutting edge that will cut the wood within certain parameters. While the cut may appear perfectly circular to the naked human eye, some level of errors will still exist, just on a very micro-scaled level. They will simply be microscopic to the point of where you will either need a magnifying glass to observe the imperfections of the cut or you won’t be able to observe them at all they are so minute. Essentially, we are discussing the variations between different tools and their corresponding margins of error. The baseline point here is not which instrument achieves more relative precision, but that no instrument can perform its job without bearing some margin of error. Sometimes, when discussing this concept, it can be very useful to think about infinity in dimensional spaces (like graphing spaces). In Calculus, this is basically within the concept of limits. Basically, think about how certain functions can result in an answer that is a set of values approaching infinity.
So then what is our geometric circle? With this theory, it becomes nothing more than a theoretical construct. But it is a theoretical construct that has come to bear enormously useful applications.
Now, Aristotle postulated these ideas far before the rise of industrialism, a time era which I think begins to very offer strong evidence to support his theory. Take for instance, the number of precision-metal machine shops that solely specialize in narrowing these margins of errors down to astronomically low levels. One of my good friends enjoys working at one of these particular shops, his is Imperial Machine Company. They produce parts and do things like metal shaping and gear cutting, but with a focus on extraordinarily specific detail and low margins of error. Some others I found via a simple Google Search include international Hi-Tech Manufacturing, Rable Machine Inc, and Treske.
Now this does not mean that Plato’s Theory of Forms is without criticisms. Those are definitely out there. However, the point is not that the theory is literally true, but just like any other good theory, rather how it makes us think about human concepts.
The application of Plato’s theory of forms on geometric shapes shows us that perfection is really just an illusive human concept. Basically, perfection as defined as “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects” becomes just a theoretical construct. There is no way to achieve this. However, in practical terms, perfection can be viewed as rather a very high standard or threshold that is relatively rare to achieve. Although the practical view deviates from its formal definition, perfection begins to make far more sense in this context. Through a relative comparison, we may call something “perfect,” but not necessarily mean the idealized, abstract properties of the term. So if this were accurate, it would be more correct to say “close to perfect”, although this is typically not what people generally do.
This concept ties directly into using FAM to evaluate religious and moral contexts. I want to distinguish theoretical from practical concepts in religions to demonstrate different modes of behavior. This is largely because functions provide more empirical forms of evidence, rather than spiritual/metaphysical logic. I don’t want to get tripped up in defining religious terms, such as the Holy Spirit, God, Biblical concepts in mystical terms. I prefer functional definitions of these concepts. Why? Because I’m simply more interested in what can be observed and quantified. We want to model religious behavior given measurable factors to suggest causality or at least correlation given different scenarios. I want to recognize feedback loops, lock-in effects, agent incentives, bottom-up evolution, and initial environment sensitivity. I want to be able to know how to think properly in religious environments. I am not saying that scientific analysis will answer all the questions of religion and morality, but rather that a more scientific approach will provide insights left undiscovered by relying solely on spiritual logic.
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”