Yet history teaches us-or has tried to teach us-that the human mind always has an idiosyncratic, local, and temporal character, and that beliefs are rooted in and reflect the silly quirks of our environment and heredity.
By analyzing certain beliefs with the utmost tare, ideonomy can provide universal and enduring models for understanding beliefs in general.
It can take note of the recurring fallacies, limitations, and other defects of beliefs; of the ignorance, stupidity, presumption, oversights excesses, oversimplifications, perseverations, abuses, reifications, fantasies, excuses, ambiguities, obscurities, exclusivity, automorphisms, pathologies, arrogances rigidities, reactionariness, and-emotionality that tends to characterize beliefs; and of the natural origins, sources, determinants, dynamics, interactions, and fates of beliefs.
It can encyclopedically survey and systematize the multidimensional- a unidimensional ranges of beliefs that have come and gone historically, that coexist in the present, or that are possible-and the permutations and combinations thereof. It can diagram historical chains of beliefs.
From such things it can begin to construct a universal science of beliefs (pistology).
ldeonomy can distinguish beliefs that are apt to be arbitrary from those that are probably valid. It can suggest critical tests and experiments.
It can retrieve or make explicit the : organic or virtual : axiomatic and empirical structure of beliefs.
It can identify thresholds for the appearance and disappearance of beliefs, and for their intertransformation and substitution.
It can give insights into beliefs by ridiculing and satirizing them.
It can help justify or argue beliefs.
It can discover at once unexpected similarities, analogies, commonlities, correspondences, tautologies, interconnections, interdependences, correlations, plexures, coherences, reconciliations, syntheses, unities, complementarities, homologies, continuities, convergences,- and counterpoint of beliefs-and surprising differences, divergences, antitheses, conflicts, contradictions, incommensurabilities, and orthogonaiities.
ldeonomy can suggest how novel or arbitrary beliefs could materials in fanciful situations or as the product of particular environments, circumstances, or events; and the-spectrum of beliefs given facts might.
It can suggest where or when extant or orthodox beliefs are apt to or be abandoned, and the beliefs-that are then apt to supersede them.
It can illuminate the comparative roles of chance and necessity in t@
generation of beliefs, and their subtle interplay.
What is liable to happen if the people of a nation believe that war is impossible?
What are the consequences of believing that one's prayers are answered by a god?
What might be entrained by a belief in: nothing (nihilism), the natural superiority of women to men, the omnipotence of chance in human affairs, the relativity of truth, life's cosmic universality, the equivalence of the universe to a binary or serial computer, or the illusoriness of ball lightning (e.g. its reducibility to an optical hallucination or a myth)? Or that God doesn't (or daren't?) play dice with the universe, that everything one believes is false, that the universe was created one week in BC4004 (or 12 orders of magnitude faster, and 6 orders of magnitude later, than it was in reality), that the universe should be closed in space and time ("for aesthetic reasons"), that the-universe must have sprung into being 8-20 eons ago ex nihilo, that e contra the universe should be time-invariant on the largest scale (manifest a "steady state"). that nothing can travel faster than light, that gravitation must be the most basic force of all, that if one should venture too far eastward one shall drop off the edge of the world, or that something as patently absurd as ideonomy might actually be possible?
To what extent do one's beliefs dictate what one sees, thinks, does, or is able to do-and the reverse? To what relative degree do they limit and empower one? Are they major or minor factors in life? Are the distinctions that the total set of human beliefs make less fundamental, and more superficial, than ordinarily assumed (in the portraits of reality they compose, and equip the human race with)?
To what extent does the value of beliefs lie, not in their discrete or relative veracity or prima facie meaning, but in other and possibly subtler properties they may have: say of a pragmatic, psychically reassuring, ideogenic, heuristic, excitatory, symbolic. mentally simplifying, social, or surrogate nature?(Religions-their rituals and doctrines-might, for example, have nothing whatever to do with truth, and yet still be valuable, perhaps by analogy to the potential value of night dreams.)
The sorry fact is that, in a neurological sense, we still do not know what "belief" is, fundamentally or operationally; or what the natural causes, functions, effects, and importance of the phenomenon are. We do not know whether it would be possible to operate without any beliefs at all, say in a purely probabilistic, empirical, pragmatic, mechanical, recursive, stoichiometric, or formal manner, or via a set of transcendental axioms (or what that would mean).
Are man's- professed beliefs actually underlain by a very or entirely different set of real beliefs, that operate anonymously, unconsciously, unsuspectedly, and yet magisterially in all of human-affairs?
Other questions that we have to ask and must ultimately answer are: How esemplastic is the human imagination, how able to integrate disparate facts, or various empirical discordances produced by a range of different beliefs? How flexible are facts, theories, and beliefs themselves; what is the ability of experience to accommodate alternative perspectives, interpretations, and life practices?
Conflicting beliefs-or heterodoxies-are a severe test of the ambiguity of nature, demonstratedness or demonstrability of scientific knowledge, and hidden complexity of the mind.
ldeonomy could help generate, implement, and evaluate such tests'-or a systematic program of experiments to at last ascertain and quantify the actual validity, accuracy, value, meaning, relationships, effects, and completeness of human beliefs.
Not knowing what belief in general is, we are in no position to know or even vaguely compute the total number-or total variety-of the collective beliefs of the human family, or even the sum beliefs of a single individual, or that play some role in the life of the latter at any random instant of time or in given situations. Thousands? Trillions? We have no right to say anything.
Yet ideonomy gives us the ability to automatically generate alternative beliefs in astronomical numbers-canonical ranges of beliefs of every possible scale, type, and reference. By means of it we could conjure up and inspect what would progressively approximate to the abstract space of all possible beliefs. ldeonomy would also enable such inspection to be done efficiently ' or in a surprisingly knowing and expeditious way.
From within this rigorous, exhaustive, and transcendent space we could look back out upon the far simpler space of the actual human mind, and see at last the particular things that are there-the finite identity, behavior, and consequences of the miniature set of human beliefs. For after all, beliefs are little more than patterns in a chess game whose ultimate meaning is simply the process that they define or the drama they enable.
In a certain sense, in other words, we take them too seriously; for we let them run our lives. Instead of using them. we let them use us. It is time for a proletarian revolution, however, and the enslaved masters should take over. Enough of pistocracy (government by beliefs)!
Again, how much do we actually know? How much of what we assume to be knowledge is simply unlettered belief, belief ignorant of its own insubstantiality, arrogance, circularity, and mischievousness?
A clue may be gotten from a known illusion: that of the solidity, continuity, determinacy, simplicity, and sovereignty of the macroscopic world. Modern science has staggered us with the revelation of the quite opposite character of the universe on either progressively smaller or progressively larger scales. At these scales, for example. nature is almost altogether empty-mere constellations of points, perhaps, or a chaotic, seething foam. And alien. Anthropomorphism is impossible. There is not a trace of surburban sprawl.
Why then the anomalous oasis in the middle, the impossible ordinariness
of the intermediate scale?
The answer may be an echo of the quasi-teleological Anthropic Cosmologic Principle of Branden Carter. It is not that the macroscopic landscape that we think of as home is intrinsically special, necessarily, it may simply be that we have so long grown accustomed to it-having in fact been evolved from, by, and as an organic part of it over billions of years-that we have lost the ability to see it for what it is in and of itself, or in its pristine bizarreness.
What we see as we look out upon our made-to-order Middle Earth, in other words, may not be the raw, unprocessed influx of elementary sensory facts-or the image of a delomorphous, familiar, and comfortable realm that they seem to import-but rather the accumulated, archetypal memories streaming through our phylogenetic tree and projecting an idyllic scene: much as a film projector throws old movies upon a blank screen.
Imagine a telegraphic message coming to us in Morse code from an unknown sender in an unknown place. As we gradually decipher what seems to be an endless message we find that it contains an encyclopedic description of our world. The sender speaks of the house he occupies and the street outside, of the people rushing back and forth and how they are dressed, of the countryside and its plants and animals, and so on from A to Z. Somehow a complete image of the world-a cosmography-is gotten across through the austere medium of dots and dashes (..._._.__). it is not that the mysterious sender tells us everything or reports the world's every detail, but that the concatenation of what he does say elicits an evolution of images in our mind whose effect is implicitly cosmopoietic.
Whoever the daft sender is" however, he must be a poet, for his reportage is so eloquent, spirited, and evocative that we find ourselves captive listeners. Hours roll by but we do not care, for what does life have to offer that could surpass in interest the humanity, majesty,, and gaiety of this narrative?
Finally the tale marches to an end, but the message Itself concludes with a stupefying surprise:
Entities in another universe where space is googol-dimensional and time ordinarily runs backwards but sometimes runs forward, who are constructed of fractals and octonions and who communicate among their negatively-many selves by means of cosmic strings modulated by essential singularities and a p-adic language, have recently (in the near future) built an intercosmic transmitter out of the local equivalent of the Dirac quantum-mechanical vacuum in order to send across the friendly message just received.
To solve the semantic problem of communicating between two such
phenomenologically disparate cosmoses as ours and theirs, these entities have also constructed a machine to translate the story of their world into English and the things it symbolizes for us.
It was this machine, then, that was the unknown sender of the message we received, which represented a vivid description by the entities of their fantastically alien universe, translated however into familiar human referents and relationships of an optimally equivalent nature.
The point of the above fantasy is that our objective picture of the external world could easily be an artificial and synthetic image-a worldlike belief-constructed from minimal actual information in a largely arbitrary way, or as a 'useful slice from a continuum of alternative -equivalent and nonequivatent-possibilities'.
The apparent "solidity, continuity, determinacy, simplicity, and sovereignty" of the macroscopic world may in fact be an illusion created by: averaging, sampling, integration, abstraction, expedience, ancient representational relaxation,, biological codification (say in the course of evolution), sociogenesis, neurological figuration or condensation, stupidity, laziness, mental exclusion, mental minimalism or stoichiometry ... or a hundred other things.
So what we actually know may be little indeed, and most of human knowledge may consist of circular references to human beliefs, or of multitudinous diffractions of a few bits of infinitely complex knowledge.
The consequences of beliefs may be vast beyond imagining. For this reason
beliefs and their effects should be regarded by science as complex and
difficult phenomena that are all-important to understand.
The claim that the total possibilities of things are canonically limited, or characteristic and finite, does of course make many obvious, and infinitely many inobvious, assumptions. Such assumptions in turn involve a welter of problems, and both the assumptions and their problems will have to be systematically, rigorously, progressively, and exhaustively explored-both theoretically and empirically-in the future. For the most part, however, these are simply opportunities for novel and valuable discoveries, and the partiality or tentativeness of the truth or form of the canonical limitations that are known or that are bound to be discovered will undeniably have utility beforehand or in some limited way.
Even if a given thing is not, or proves not to be, canonically limited in one, or one assumed, way, it may nevertheless be so limited in any of infinitely many other ways. The realities and possibilities are, in any case, important to investigate, and in many instances failures of canonical -whether general or exceptional-will have profound significance in their negative or surprising way.
Often things will prove to be quasi-canonically limited, or else canonically
Some examples of the kinds of things that are apt to prove canonically limited, in either a strict or such relaxed ways, are: forms, motions, causes , effects, appearances, and types.
In crystallography, or for three-dimensional crystals, there are various canonical and quasi-canonical sets of things: e.g. lattice constants, 7 crystal systems, 14 Bravais space lattices, 42 Niggli space lattices, 24 Delaunay space lattices, 32 crystal classes, 320 Fedorov space groups, and generators. These describe all possible 'pure' crystallographic forms and types and crystallogenic motions. Of course other, related and unrelated, possibilities emerge when one complicates the system: goes to some other dimensionality, explores non-Euclidean dimensions or manifolds, considers different physical constituents or the various physical qualities they produce or involve, introduces temporal (genetic-) perturbations, recognizes hybridal crystals, etc.
To date our knowledge of canonical sets and systems of causes or effect
is, by comparison, limited, but eventually such things will be sought and
found everywhere, and it is worth considering in advance what in a general
way such things will mean, require, and allow, what should be sought or
is apt to be discovered first, what methods may be needed to find and exploit
such things, etc.
Where one would expect canonical causes and effects to be discovered first is, of course, on the subatomic, atomic, molecular, and "ultraparticle" scales, or on the scales of quantum-mechanical phenomena. Hierarchies, series, networks, clusters, rings, radiations, trees, surfaces, lattices, vergences "soils"", and other meta-structures of canonical possibilities will be found that are of a progressively larger, more complex, and more powerful and embracive (canonical) character.
In particular, canonical events, phenomena, laws, transformations, processes, paradoxes, etc. will be discovered of a truly or tendentially universal or pandisciplinary kind.
But how many possible configurations of internal and external combustion engine are there? This is a macroscopic canonical question that has already been investigated by a number of workers, such as Robert U. Ayres.
Similarly Carl Sagan has pondered the quasi-canonical set of possible morphological and dynamical genera of planetary systems that stars in the universe could-have, for the help this might be in estimating the total number of inhabited or inhabitable planets.
But one might also wish to know the canonically possible number of: character types, molecular species in a family, elementary particles of a class-or even classes of elementary particles, musical forms, genomic structures (on a given level or of a given type), phenotypes defined by sets of polymorphisms, types of tastes or smells, solitons, manufacturable textiles, defects of materials, computer errors of a given class, computer architectures, weather events, auroras, thoughts, systems of government, or dance steps in choreography.
As ideonomy progressively assembles more and more diverse types of canonical
things in ever more fields and in connection with ever more phenomena and
problems, comparisons between these cases and things will be possible,
and this will lead to the working out of general laws of canonicality that
have the power to describe and predict canonical possibilities in arbitrary
Specifically it can assist research into the capacity of things to g row, develop, change, interact with other things, overcome problems, adapt, absorb or process things, change their capacities, specialize or generalize, tolerate some insult or interference, hide, produce a specific effect, facilitate a process, reproduce, move about, pass through a barrier, resist change, compete with other things, etc.
It is important to know a great number of things about such capacities, including their capacitive: limits, defects, boundaries, constraints, causes, effects, origins, histories, courses, variations, couplings, interferences, tradeoffs, analogies and equivalences, differences, senses, corollaries and -implications.,-elements, rates, intensities, dynamics, ambiguities, problems, values, uses, intertransformations, incidences. synergisms, processes, laws, needs. matrixes, and meta-structures.
ldeonomy might show a given type of capacity to be more widespread than it has traditionally been thought to be, or on the contrary to be rarer than assumed or than one would have thought.
It can be used to suggest odd or anomalous capacities of things: of the bios to tolerate fairly substantial fluctuations of the so-called solar constant, of cancer to withstand a chemotherapeutic dosage, of the mind to learn to use geometric as opposed to arithmetic mantissae of logarithms of the mind to master the doing of many different tasks simultaneously, of a molecule to tolerate a level of perturbation that one would have thought disruptive, of a chess player to nullify the harm done when he makes a serious error, of a seemingly obsolete mathematical technique to be adapted for new purposes, or of bacteria for processing a novel or unnatural pollutant.
One could use ideonomy to enlarge, maximize, or modify a thing's capacity
or to give the thing new capacities. It might be employed to give the human
body the capacity to digest cellulose or an added capacity to fight contagions.
Taxological schemes and systems that have been constructed to classify the various possible types of causes of one phenomenon, or of the phenomena and entities of one science, can be adapted-or else combined and synthesized with the totality of such schemes and systems-to suggest the causes of things for which they were not originally designed; or, in connection with such causes, to suggest general or particular aspects or circumstances thereof-such as effects, implications, interrelationships, processes, or diagnostic features of the causes.
It is only when one knows the causes of things that one really begins
to understand the things themselves.
To treat such chains one must be aware of the types of things and even that can form, be involved in, or result from the chains, of the ways in and means by-which events can chain or things can be connected in chains of the peculiar phenomena that chains have a tendency to give rise to, of the difference that the existence of such chains in nature makes, and of the extent of man's present knowledge and ignorance of the chains.
What are the biggest chains? What are the smallest? What are the circularities, counterflows, and reciprocities of chains of events? What are the bundlings, interweavings, branchings, and anastomosings of different, all actual, or all possible chains and chainings of events?
Which chains of events are accidental and which are necessary? Which chains of events are entrained by one another? Which chains of events are unique and which are cyclic, or possessed of a tendency to occur over and over again?
Which chains of events lead on to other chains of events? What are both
the abstract and concrete hierarchies, networks, circuitries, and other
archetypal structures and systems of chains of events?
ldeonomy can clarify which chains of events, or types thereof, are likely to exist or operate in a given situation, or are apt in such a situation to have a particular role or effect. It can suggest tests to discriminate, or experiments to explore, the possibilities.
Where chains of events are vast, as in those represented by biological lineages over the history of the Earth, it can assist with the endless analysis, intercorrelation, ordering, filling in, synthesis, and restructuring of such chains.
It can discover those chains of events that lead to identical, and to different, conclusions.
It can use chains of events that have been operating in the past to
predict the future or analyze the present.
No one knows what the relative and absolute contribution of chance is, or its power to create, alter, and regulate events, phenomena, or reality as a whole.
It is not known what chance really is, nor what it really is not.
No one knows the possible diversity of chance, or of its types, causes, processes, elements, laws, effects, and phenomena.
No one knows how different elements, types, chains, levels, spheres, laws, forces, or evolutions of chance interact-or how they interfere with, cancel, reinforce, control, or ignore one another.
No one knows how good or bad chance is, or the world is because of chance.
No one knows all the things that chance may affect, or all the channels it may have in nature.
We lack knowledge of how to influence, counteract, and harness chance.
We know little about the possible or actual contribution of chance to processes and phenomena on the micro, macro, or cosmic scale, much less to the dynamic continuum thereof.
Yet already we see indications that the same set of aleatory phenomena reappear, and the same set of stochastic processes operate, throughout the universe and at every level in nature.
Ideonomy can be used to construct a scheme that will generate, define, interrelate, and explain every possible type and manifestation of chance, or that as it evolves will do so progressively.
It can be used to compare, distinguish, describe, measure, and judge different forms and instances of chance.
It can nourish discussion of chance and guide theoretical and experimental
inquiry into its nature and possibilities.
What has been thought to be increate and infinitely old is discovered to have had an origin at a finite time in the past; what has been thought to be inert and static is found to be active, dynamic, and moving; what has been thought to be immortal, ageless, and immutable is shown to be worn and aged, to be plastic and unstable, to decay and have a finite future; what has been thought to be fixed is shown to be evolving, retrogressing, or transforming into something else; what has been thought to be absolute, singular, objective], and self-existent is realized to be but a mirror or indissociable function of its infinitely complex and protean environment, itself inspecific, or a proces at heart; what has been thought to exhibit but a single, simple, or--fixed type of change is demonstrated -to have or undergo many, complex, or protean forms and types of change; and what has been thought to be part of but a single system of change is seen to participate in many or innumerable systems of change.
To fully characterize change one must describe its roots, measure its rate and direction, define its goals or limits, specify its processes, learn about the conditions in which it occurs, look at it from the point of view of other possible forms of change, isolate its nuances, identify its dimensions, indicate its effects and corollaries, refer to or formulate its laws, ascertain the breadth of its exemplification, etc.
ldeonomy can indicate how a given thing is changing, has changed, will change, could be changed, or does not change-and the reasons, extent, implications, etc. thereof.
Some change is purely relative. ldeonomy can be used to describe the
infinity of relative changes of a thing, or the ways in which the thing
changes relative to other things, reciprocally, or as a function of the
changes of other things.
An indirect reason is that contact with scientific discipline and wisdom can always, in principle, enrich character, morality, and the spirit. Even mathematics can have this effect. Moreover, science and technology-as is increasingly clear-are the primary source of mankind' material power, and the ultimate cause of civilization's greatest advances and catastrophes. It is manifest at the moment that they ate remaking the world. Because of them questions are being asked, challenges are being faced, opportunities are being created, and decisions are being required that are staggering and even a bit terrifying.
Ideonomy itself promises to revolutionize the human order. It may also be a singular help in dealing with the general problems of the future, in part because it could enlarge the scope, vigor, and fundament of thought-and the foresight and wisdom-of the entire human race.