virus: The Discipline of Translation

Reed Konsler (
Mon, 30 Jun 1997 11:59:11 -0400 (EDT)

>Date: Sun, 29 Jun 1997 19:48:28 -0700
>From: DJS <>

>From: Reed Konsler[]
>Sent: Saturday, June 28, 1997 3:27 PM
>>Warning! This is a long post. <snip> You would do me a great honor by
>printing it out and considering it at your leisure.
>Excellent post Reed! I did as you suggested. (I was even able to overlook
>that my definitions had been attributed to Eric :-)

Ack! I also noticed that I omitted a "u" from Foucault and allowed the
spell-checker to alter at least one word to something completely unintended
(although, in retrospect, I kind of like the result ;-) ). But, while
those are errors I can brush off, such mis-attribution really makes me want
to pluck my eyes out with a fork in frustration
with myself.

>>The T-grid represents a rationalist's approach to understanding behavior
>and thus, as shown, is solidly a "Level-2" picture. I present it, as I'm
>sure David presented the original, as a tool for understanding...not as an
>attempt to exclude other visual representations.
>This is an important point. These 2-D slices of n-dimensional metaphysical
>space can be compelling...sometimes too compelling and we start to think it
>explains everything.

Well, even an n-dimensional map of a n-dimensional space is still going to
be a "Level-2" picture. I might rephrase your comment more generally:
Every model compels us to think it explains everything. A common menemonic
(or aphorism) to use when you feel theory-hubris getting out of hand is
"The map is not the geography."

>>EVIDENCE: A weighted sum of the evaluation of all other theses with
>respect to the thesis being considered. <snip> This avoids the creation of
>some arbitrary standard of "absolute evidence" against which to evaluate
>all theses.
>Excellent! I have been uneasy with the assumption that the evidence
>existed independent of any subjective evaluation and therefore glossed it
>over. This is an elegant solution to the problem.

It isn't my idea. Hegel's "organic" conception of the ever-developing mind
implies something similar (although I'm not claiming I understand him
entirely). A lot of the really far-out "post-[wildcard]" philosophers and
literary pundits take this conception to the extreme by saying that there
isn't any underyling structure to the universe which would tend to bias our essense, that we construct our own reality.
This is interesting w/respect to the discussion of the power of "True
Faith" to manifest itself in the environment.

I take the fact that we all can communicate as strong evidence for an
underlying structure biasing us to form more or less similar meme-spheres.
I figure if each of our realities was invented independently they would
intersect so little that we would never experience one another.

Maybe that is, in fact, the case. Physicists often argue that our
existence excludes a great number of possible universes from being our
universe...those universes couldn't support us and thus, since we are here,
those universes must not be this one. Sort of a bass-ackwards
extrapolation of causes from effects, but logically sound nevertheless (for
what that's worth ;-) ). Perhaps all the meme-spheres that are very very
different from ours are simply non-existent from our perspective due to the
fact that we never intersect with them.

Hmm...aside from the mystico-astrophysical notions, that statement is
certianly true for people in common interactions.

>>This web of influence can be thought of as a
>sort of "meme-gravity" each idea influencing all the others.
>Cool. This is the first step to defining the Dynamics of meme-space. If we
>take "strength of belief" to be analogous to "mass" in the system, then we
>can represent two space dimensions on the graph of meme-space.
>For example, in the ice cream example, one axis could be "Chocolate" and
>the other "Strawberry" and each meme in a person's meme-space could be
>plotted on the graph insofar as it supports the "I like Chocolate" and "I
>like Strawberry" propositions respectively. Each meme has a "mass"
>proportional to how strongly it is believed.

That's an interesting idea. I had thought of each meme as being more or
less identically "massed". The two ways I concieved of them as having more
"gravitational" influence over the meme-sphere was either by taking an
extreme position, or by forming a conglomerate like <Objectivism> or
<chemistry>. But, you're absolutley right that an analogy to gravity is
properly (in my mind) associated to mass. I think the image in my head was
not, in retrospect, particulary well described by a strict gravitational
analogy. Let me think about it for a while.

>>It is for this reason that I would propose renaming the so-called "Reed
>>Principle" the Discipline of Translation.

>Love the idea! (not too crazy about the name though. Both words have
>multiple connotations. I can't read it without having the image of a
>sadistic French teacher pop into my head :-)
>I find that your description of the principle reminds me of Empathy --
>understanding where the other person is coming from, and Emulation --
>actually processing the other person's memes inside your own head.
>If it weren't such a butt-ugly neologism I would propose "Empulation" for
>the process you described. :-)

Whatever. Look, all I want is to change the name to something other than
my name. I think naming ideas of processes after people is a bad practice
for three reasons:

1) It isn't descriptive of the idea, even poetically, making it harder to
and difficult to teach.

2) It isn't descriptive of the idea, making it impossible for the
uninititiated to gain
any idea what is being described except from the context.

3) It conflates a person with an idea, as if a person could be defined by
an idea
or the converse. This isn't the case.

Plus, I might eventually find my self in disagreement with the concept I just
advocated. It wouldn't be the first time.

I'm particularly sensitive to this based upon my experince with "named
reactions" in organic chemistry. In the most recent issue of the Journal
of The American Chemical Society an author refers to:

"The tandem Corey-Kiwitakowski/Horner-Wadsworth-Emmons reaction..."


Reed Konsler