A couple of days ago on twitter I dropped the tweet “Imagine the writings of a 150 IQ mind, interpreted by a 125 IQ mind, and written for 100 IQ minds, retold by a 100 IQ mind to another.” This tweet was inspired by an internal debate I’ve been having as a result of observing the reactions to some of the recent additions to sphere knowledge and philosophy. When one writes a text one does so in part based on ones own subjective knowledge base, understanding and perspectives, which means that even when writing based on empiricism or by constructing a theoretical framework based on the work of others, one inevitably fuses the mind-independent facets of the work with the subjective aspects of the work.
For instance, when I write an article based on the concepts of supply and demand, part of the article will be based on the accepted academic concepts of supply and demand, however the article will also, in part reflect my understanding of the concepts, interpretation of the concepts and the strictness with which I apply them. Gendernomics draws on accepted concepts and theoretical frameworks from economics, yet in order to apply them I do need to abstract these concepts to a level or two above their application in economics in order to then re-apply them to intersexual dynamics. In doing so the degree of objectivity declines, and subjectivity increases, however I always make it a goal when writing such essays to minimize the level of subjective liberty I grant myself. This is done in order to ensure that a reader who elects to read economic theory after reading Gendernomics will not have been overly influenced by my subjective mind, and thus find that the concepts he then learns are alien to him.
A second motivation is that many people never get around to reading the primary sources, they rely on secondary and tertiary sources, at which point the original idea has been infused with additional data through multiple interpretations, perspectives, biases and levels of understanding. For instance, when I read Nietzsche, I do so in English, however it was originally written in German, thus the interpretation of meaning by the translator will have affected the text. To see this effect, look no further than the many different versions of the Bible that exist on the market, all share the same outline for the most part, but individual sentences and verses differ.
Your Theoretical Framework
As we are educated and educate ourselves, we all construct lattices of knowledge within our mind. This lattice is unique to each human and represents the totality of all their internalized knowledge, conscious and sub-conscious, devoid of meaning and infused with meaning. Whenever we obtain new data regardless of the source, this affects the total structure of the lattice, yet at the same time this lattice is what enables us to interpret, understand and then internalize or reject the new data. Such a framework is exemplified in construction whenever someone does academic research, and conducts a literature study. The framework they construct however, is much more tidy than the one within our minds. After all, the academic researcher in the field of particle physics will not have his meticulously constructed framework include memories from childhood, or events where he observed the concepts in practice (unless part of an experiment).
Exemplified, whenever I read a text dealing with economics, my framework is influenced by the fact that the first book I ever read on economics was Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”, as this is the foundation for my framework on economics. If I had read Marx initially my framework would be different as I would have used knowledge I gained from Marx to interpret Smith, not the other way around. This exact effect is why I’ve made an effort over the past 15 years to seek out the “first source” within those fields of knowledge on which I endeavor to educate myself. For instance, when I decided to learn philosophy, I began with the Greeks, for most of modern philosophy rests on Greek foundations.
“Bernard of Chartres used to say that we [the Moderns] are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants [the Ancients], and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter. And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants.” Isaac Newton
I always enjoyed that Newton quote, however it’s important to know on which giant’s shoulders you stand, the mind that made the discovery or a different man, for you can get a sense of a man’s blind-spots, preferred frameworks, concepts, ideas and rational mind, however you are dependent on identifying the man and develop a familiarity with him. Systems of knowledge are constantly adjusting feedback mechanisms, where what we think tends to change but how we think has a more static quality to it. Many of the opinions, views and conclusions I’ve reached in the past 5 years are different from the ones I held and made in the 5 years preceding them, as it should be, however how my mind works has not changed notably.
This stems from the fact that one is constantly taking in information that is added to the framework, whether this is from reading, videos, or merely making your own observations, the framework expands, changes, adjusts and adapts. However, while the mind that analyzes the framework is also malleable, I would argue that it is less so unless conscious effort is made in order to alter it. If one is prone to impulsive decisions, one can train to become less impulsive, if one is prone to over-analyzing, one can train to become more fluid.
In my theoretical framework, the concept of “foundation systems” are those collections of concepts that a person will use as their default for interpreting other frameworks and the world. This system of thought usually represents the strongest part of our framework, that which we have the most ego-investment in and that which is most central to our world-view. For a mathematician this is likely to be math, for a philosopher his epistemology of choice, for the religious man, it’s normally his religion. This is the system that if challenged they will immediately defend and where you will see the workings of their mind change. This is how one sees men who bring the full force of their cold-blooded reasoning and logical ability to every other topic, but somehow when one questions their views on this topic they succumb to a style of reasoning unfamiliar to them. Newton, for all his great work in science was enamored by alchemy, and history is full of great men of science and truth with blind-spots when it came to their foundation systems.
To people, their foundation systems take a form similar to “Psychohistory” in the foundation series by Isaac Asimov, a system that to them can explain and predict everything. In some cases, if applied with restraint and a cool head, this is not a great problem. The trouble comes when a person shoe-horns reality to fit their system, in effect their system of choice becomes an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. The present use of the tabula rasa and associated theories in an attempt to explain all differences that exist within humankind is just as misguided as those in the late 19th and early 20th century who attempted to explain the same differences as stemming purely from biological factors.
As I outlined initially, the trouble with secondary and tertiary sources is that one translates the idea through multiple layers of interpretation and miscommunication resulting in a great level of distortion. When the idea arrives at our doorstep, it is then already mangled, and if we are suffering from the foundation system problem, or seeking a foundation system we continue the abuse of the initial idea. Thus, from shaky data we construct a model that we view as representing reality and give us a frame through which to interpret the events we observe.
For instance, the blue pill man constructs a view of how romantic relationships are supposed to work, based on information he is given by the world around him. When he is young, this information comes from Disney movies, fairy tales and various other sources that paint a picture where a man and a woman are destined to end up together against all odds, usually a variant on the Romeo & Juliet model. The two prospective lovers catch each other’s eyes across a crowded room and the man falls for her instantly. The remainder of the story represents the man earning her affection by supplication, and through completing a difficult task. Whether this be attaining treasure, slaying the dragon, or something else is inconsequential.
As the boy grows up, he is then given the play by play by men who are the previous generation of blue pill, buy her drinks, compliment her, give her what she wants, be nice, be polite, be Prince Charming, get a steady job, get a college degree and build a house. From this he builds a cause and effect model, “If I do what I’ve been told then I can attain what I want”. However, as with most times practice disagrees with theory, or rather the applied version of the model does not create the result that the man would expect, in other words it’s not an accurate predictive model. In lieu of a better model he may continue to do the same thing, expecting a different result, not out of ill intent but out of lack of information and a flawed model.
Summary and Conclusions
The difference between primary sources and other sources is that the primary source is a steak, while sources afterwards have been processed to an increasingly unrecognizable degree until they are hot dogs. Not only has the quality decreased, but you are unable to tell the difference between meat, and the various other parts that have been added or subtracted throughout the process. The problem is that if models are based only off our own ingestion of poorly processed products, this inevitably leads to trouble down the line. Our internal framework of ideas becomes one based off hear-say, and instead of searching for ways to improve them, we find ourselves mindlessly defending flawed models, because our mind cannot comprehend being without them.
This is perhaps why so many men cling to old models and fall head-over-heels in love with those who would offer them what appears to be cogent arguments and lovely narratives for why their model is the correct one. Were they to read the original authors of the ideas on which their model is based, they may find that the original idea differs much from the interpretations of the idea on which they built their model.