deep thoughts by jack handy

by Sebastian Benthall

Information transfer just is the coming-into-dependence of two variables, which under the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics means the entanglement of the “worlds” of each variable (and, by extension, the networks of causally related variables of which they are a part). Information exchange collapses possibilities.
This holds up whether you take a subjectivist view of reality (and probability–Bayesian probability properly speaking) or an objectivist view. At their (dialectical?) limit, the two “irreconcilable” paradigms converge on a monist metaphysics that is absolutely physical and also ideal. (This was recognized by Hegel, who was way ahead of the game in a lot of ways.) It is the ideality of nature that allows it to be mathematized, though its important to note that mathematization does not exclude engagement with nature through other modalities, e.g. the emotional, the narrative, etc.

This means that characterizing the evolution of networks of information exchange by their physical properties (limits of information capacity of channels, etc.) is something to be embraced to better understand their impact on e.g. socially constructed reality, emic identity construction, etc. What the mathematics provide is a representation of what remains after so many diverse worlds are collapsed.

A similar result, representing a broad consensus, might be attained dialectically, specifically through actual dialog. Whereas the mathematical accounting is likely to lead to reduction to latent variables that may not coincide with the lived experience of participants, a dialectical approach is more likely to result in a synthesis of perspectives at a higher level of abstraction. (Only a confrontation with nature as the embodiment of unconscious constraints is likely to force us to confront latent mechanisms.)

Whether or not such dialectical synthesis will result in a singular convergent truth is unknown, with various ideologies taking positions on the matter as methodological assumptions. Haraway’s feminist epistemology, eschewing rational consensus in favor of interperspectival translation, rejects a convergent (scientific, and she would say masculine) truth. But does this stand up to the simple objection that Haraway’s own claims about truth and method transcend individual perspective, making he guilty of performative contradiction?

Perhaps a deeper problem with the consensus view of truth, which I heard once from David Weinberger, is that the structure of debate may have fractal complexity. The fractal pluralectic can fray into infinite and infinitesimal disagreement at its borders. I’ve come around to agreeing with this view, uncomfortable as it is. However, within the fractal pluralectic we can still locate a convergent perspective based on the network topology of information flow. Some parts of the network are more central and brighter than others.

A critical question is to what extent the darkness and confusion in the dissonant periphery can be included within the perspective of the central, convergent parts of the network. Is there necessarily a Shadow? Without the noise, can there be a signal?