Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Brain activity pre-awareness proves NOTHING....


Dear Dr. Oakley,

You state in your article, 

"There is a strong link between the conscious experience of intending to move a limb and experiencing the movement. But being aware that you intend to move your limb is not the same as saying that your awareness made your limb move – especially when the intention to move precedes awareness of that intention. However, our unconscious thought systems generate the belief that it was the self’s awareness of the intention that brought about the movement." 

It’s intention that hones awareness as anyone who has gone grocery shopping, practiced playing the piano, prepared to be in an acting role, played a sport, can attest. And the joy of mastering a skill is that one can less awkwardly achieve one's objective without having to laboriously concentrate on every little twitch of a knuckle. After much practice, chess experts are somewhat paradoxically able to pre-screen out irrelevant possible moves from consciousness, mostly to their advantage, sometimes not, as I’m sure you know. 

Some intentions are deliberate, others not, of course, but not all that is deliberate is always conscious, as the purpose of deliberate practice is to make effortless the more tedious details of practice. So I don’t think you can really base your theories (which might be correct for other reasons) on the shaky edifice that it’s a mistake to think awareness makes our limbs move. I drive home or type this without much awareness of the details of how my hands move the wheel or my fingers on the keyboard. These movements are not in response to a deliberate desire on my part to keep in the lanes every inch of the way, or press t with my left index finger, but to get home safely or to write this note.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Instrumentalism and Essentialism

Rationalism and essentialism are targeted in much of postmodern social theory today because they are believed to have been the epistemological and ontological doctrines most responsible for legitimating oppressive hierarchies and stifling  diversity.  Social theorists argue that these positions create a tiered reality where historical contingencies are recast as natural necessities founded in a transcendent world of eternal ideas.  
Gilles Deleuze's position is especially interesting inasmuch as it seems in every respect an effort to fully invert the ontic priorities attributed to rationalism and essentialism.  Deleuze's position is clearly articulated by Manuel DeLanda who assesses rationalism and essentialism as totalitarian in their tendency to exhaust possibility, close horizons, and emphasize unity and uniformity.  DeLanda sustains Deleuze's emphasis on flux, spontaneity and heterogeneity.  This effort to advance a position congenial to pluralism, however, should not be taken to mean that Deleuze and DeLanda are relativists or social constructivists.
It is certainly important to reconsider, as DeLanda does, the kind of Ptolemaic attitude that has characterized social theory for a number of years.  To reduce reality to what can be socially constructed is anthropocentric and disregards the eons during which life and matter existed prior to our emerging in the universe. Deleuze rejects both social constructivism and “a realism based on a correspondence theory of truth,” because, according to DeLanda, it is “a realism deeply committed to essentialism and rationalism.”1  At the heart of this rejection is his criticism of the view that matter is an inert receptacle for the impression of forms, either as social constructs or eternal essences.  In much of contemporary social theory, it is believed that elitism, the denigration of physical labour and the political imposition of externally imposed ideals of existence are  insidiously supported by this “rationalist” view of matter.
I join those hoping to advance pluralism and counter reductivism and its pernicious social and ecological effects.  Yet I question whether rationalism and essentialism are appropriate targets in this battle and will argue that this focus merely diverts attention from the forces that now telescope horizons. This is definitely not to say that I am a proponent of rationalism or essentialism as they are usually characterized. A pantheon of forms or atemporal idea-entities such as “zebrahood ” are notions that hardly warrant attention.  Rather, I will argue that possibilities of conceptual and material expression are reduced and compromised by instrumentalism, and that, while instrumentalism is a framing, it is not an idealism but its inversion.

Uniformity and empiricism
DeLanda states that “the complexity and variability of behaviour of materials has always been the concern of empirically oriented craftsmen or engineers, not of philosophers or scientists.”2   He adds that philosophy tended to “despise the senses” while science atomized its subject and at best could only talk about matter as “mass.”  In other words, rationalism and essentialism are accused of ignoring the complexity that Deleuze highlights so successfully with an unconventional empirical orientation.
DeLanda discusses Deleuze's concept of the “machinic phylum,” which is described as “matter-energy in flux” to which all expressions of materiality are subject.  The machinic phylum is characterized as dynamic and in continuous variation. “Unlike essentialism, where matter is viewed as an inert receptacle for forms that come from the outside (transcendental essences), here matter is seen as possessing its own immanent, intensive resources for the generation of form from within.”3  As an illustration, DeLanda describes the blacksmith, who “treats metals as active materials, pregnant with morphogenetic capabilities, and his role is that of teasing a form out of them, of guiding, through a series of processes (heating, annealing, quenching, hammering), the emergence of a form, a form in which the materials themselves have a say. His task is less that of realizing previously defined possibilities than actualizing virtualities along divergent lines.”
It is this context in which DeLanda discusses industrial production and notes that “industrial metals have undergone in the last two hundred years an intense process of uniformation and homogenization in both their chemical composition and their physical structure. The rationale behind this process was partly based on questions of reliability and quality control, but it had also a social component: both human workers and the materials they used needed to be disciplined and their behaviour made predictable. Only then the full efficiencies and economies of scale of mass production techniques could be realized.” 

The anti-teleological teleology of efficiency
It is interesting that DeLanda cites the quest for efficiency as the factor that homogenizes matter and behaviour.  An overriding concern with method has led to the “disciplining” of human workers and their materials. This has obscured or even removed the motivation for those involved in the process to determine and assess the intended purposes of production.  The exclusive focus on methods grinds other horizons under foot as “ the ends of our activities … become sedimented beneath an all-encompassing concern with the means.”4 
The overriding concern with method is reflected in “technological thinking” that conceals an “anti-teleological” teleology; one which posits the  “norms of a purely instrumental rationality, such as punctuality, efficiency, productivity and the like” as ends in themselves.  Therefore, it should be apparent there is nothing intrinsic to craftwork that prevents an instrumentalist attitude toward it.  In fact, it is when the material possibilities of technical production determine the form of what is produced that the homogeneity so despised by critics of rationalism and essentialism is engendered.

Empiricism is a methodology, not an ontology
It is plain that Deleuze's empirical orientation is not exemplified by orthodox empirical methodology and his orientation to the world of sense, in this context, may perhaps be better labeled an aesthetic orientation.  Yet by examining empiricism in its in its more orthodox aspects, it becomes clear that an empiricist methodology is what drives the machine of efficiency.
One area where there had until recently been a great emphasis on an empirical orientation is the so called “soft sciences.”  This “cult of empiricism” has had laughable results in the area of empirical psychology which, according to psychologist Jack F. Martin, “has typically placed its methodological cart in front of its ontological horse.”  He explains that “psychologists' conceptualizations of complex phenomena ... often are impoverished to the point where they are equated ... with sets of responses to rating scales on which individuals indicate the extent to which they attribute their actions to a small number of predetermined factors.”  Here, it is not only the case that methodology determined and reduced its object, but that it did so by impoverishing conceptualization; i.e., by limiting meaning to responses that could be managed technically.

Technical framing
As a methodology, it begs the question to say that empiricism serves to justify or discredit any kind of ontology.  However, empiricism frequently does worse than place its “methodological cart in front of its ontological horse.” While it reduces both material and conceptual complexity , it conceals its own operation in a cult of facts, information and “clear communication.”  Thus it exemplifies an extreme form of reductivism.  This “technical framing” is the source of the empty teleology of efficiency.  It produces a tautology that culminates in a nihilistic form of pragmatism:
The outcome is justified because / therefore the process that produced it was effective.
Pragmatism tends to reframe ends as “outcomes” of pre-established processes rather than the goals for which the processes were established.  It is as if one were to justify the existence of public institutions exclusively in terms of their capacity for fiscal responsibility, which is a means, not a goal.  A method of production is chosen for its efficiency, while choice of product (or a concern with environmental and social by-products) is precluded by the exigencies of production. For me, this aptly defines alienation.

The Technical Reduction of Matter
To paraphrase one theorist, the issue of whether technical framing itself can subsume ontological totality through its own strictly instrumental logic -- or whether its own project parasitically remains dependent upon what can never be understood within the parameters of technical framing -- defines the social and historical crisis of our lives today.5
What can never be understood primarily in terms of technical framing?  What always exceeds a methodological grasp? 
It is becoming increasingly difficult for human beings to face the reality Deleuze describes here:  “The non-organic life of things, a frightful life, which is oblivious to the wisdom and limits of the organism.  It is the vital as potent pre-organic germinality, common to the animate and the inanimate, to a matter which raises itself to the point of life, and to a life which spreads itself through all matter.” Deleuze's “matter” is clearly not the technically reduced version insisted upon by methodological empiricism.  But does that mean that we must accept the modernist cliché that the real is the material revealed by the senses, so “despised by philosophers”?
I would like to suggest, rather, that whatever in human life and experience has escaped technical control is thus despised because of its startling uncanniness.  Uncanniness is not restricted to effects of materiality.  In fact, one could say the uncanny is just that because it is not amenable to technical control and and manipulation, whether it is affective, aesthetic, numinous or noumenal.  Wherever possible, it is active manipulation and management that we look to, not archetypal images of zebrahood, in order to reconnect with the "reality principle" and dispel anxiety.  (This explains our fascination with technology and its near identification with science.)
Continuing to deny what exceeds the capacity of technical framing means that this excess will return in a destructive aspect: hence an anti-ecology of waste-driven production and the compulsive manufacture and distribution of weapons capable of unconscionable devastation.  In the failure to face the uncanniness of life itself as an ungraspable horizon or open place, life and nature are reduced to technically manipulable quantities in the world of kitsch and "products" - and the excess is left to explode in violence or anorexically consume itself.
The shadowy excess to technical framing both causes (by deterring awareness) and results from denial of the uncanny.  We can learn to face unstructured possibility as an open horizon, as DeLanda has pointed out, or objectify it in a cycle of oppression and destruction.  Courage is needed to break the cycle.  How can we turn to an open horizon that we expect will face us as primal material chaos?  We should ask about the conditions under which the ungraspable hovers darkly on the horizon as an evil sea-monster, like Tiamat before her body was split into heaven and earth by Marduk, the city god of Babylon, and when it emerges rather as an open horizon generative of possibility.
The complex, aesthetic and affective dimensions of experience are just those intrinsically valuable (“useless”) elements of life that open the horizon of becoming because they cannot be exhausted in any action or thing.  It is these creative, intrinsically sustaining, self-defining normative and aesthetic dimensions that have been divested of energy, reduced to tastes and values, commercialized and ultimately pounded out of consciousness, only to re-emerge, as oppressive instrumentalities.  Nihilistic pragmatism leeches meaning, reduces ends to outcomes, and deprives human beings of the capacity to freely choose and evaluate their own ends both in thought and action.  The legacy of instrumentalism is that we are left with no horizon, with no place to stand.  This very effectively subjects us to marketing strategies and creates a climate of political apathy.

Mathematics and the imposition of form
The old "essentialism" is characterized as positing a set of discrete forms and abiding, eternal "natures" and of course, such a view is belied by the reality of dynamical, intensive processes emphasized by DeLanda.  The inspiration for that essentialism was not technological reduction, however, but the question of the relation between the intelligible and the real.  DeLanda reminds us that in the Deleuzian framework, “The achievements of theoretical physics are seen not as linguistically interpreted general laws, but as correctly posed problems, that is, as the posing of the distribution of what is singular and ordinary (i.e., what is important and not).  DeLanda's reconstruction thus stresses that Deleuzian ontology discloses not a closed world capturable by sentences, but an open world to be explored.”6
So ingrained is the association of reason with a static and atemporal ontology, it is necessary to consider whether intelligibility really does require “a closed world capturable by sentences” and whether the stress on dynamism thereby releases the real from potentially homogenizing constraints.
In “Virtual Enviroments And The Emergence Of Synthetic Reason,”7 DeLanda provides an account of stability produced by the diversity of its material components in a variable, dynamical state.  He explains that “these ... forms of stability have received the name of "attractors", and the transitions which transform one type of attractor into another have been named "bifurcations".” Emphasizing that “The 'key' concept ... is emergent behavior” he asserts that “Natural life emerges out of the organized interactions of a great number of nonliving molecules, with no global controller responsible for the behavior of every part.”  For example, “Each of the particular adaptive traits which we observe in real zebras developed along different ancestral lineages, accumulated in the population under the action of different selection pressures, in a process that was completely dependent on specific (and contingent) historical details.”  I think that DeLanda's concluding that there is “no such thing as a preexistent collection of traits defining "zebrahood"” is a bit of a dénouement.  He goes on to say, however, that emergent properties do not arise in “an unstructured space of possibilities, but a space "pre-organized" by attractors and bifurcations.”8  
The salient point is that order is not programmed or imposed from without, but that it emerges from within.  Still it is possible to ask whether the complex patterns or ratio that can be discerned in (rather than imposed upon) the behaviour of chaotic systems are emergent properties, “pre-organizing” fields, or heuristic constructs.  
What is an attractor, or even a dimension?  Dimension appears both real and ideal, infinite and finite, sensible and intellectual.  It is neither a thing nor a property of things, nor a discrete idea-entity.  
It is quite consistent with DeLanda's position to conceive that the noumenon is actually and immanently here with us, not as a formal entity but as place or “chora”, a dynamic field of complex and richly structured possibility.  Since mathematics is not daunted by possibility, there is nothing in this account to distinguish  intensive materialism from what might be called a dynamic rationalism.  Nor is there  anything here that protects diversity from reductive instrumentalism.  In fact, industry even now is exploring new ways of obtaining “effective maintenance goals” (i.e., efficiencies) from chaotic systems.9, 10  Maybe this is why we should leave open the door to a discussion of ideals.

 5“The issue of whether capital itself can capitalize social totality and time itself through its own logic of value and production - both within Western societies and the global as a whole - or whether its own logic parasitically remains dependent upon what is, and can never be understood primarily in terms of capital value and management, defines the social and historical struggles of our lives today.”  
6 A caricature that suggests physicists mistake principles for generalizations.  “As regards the present state of the world, such as the existence of the earth on which we live and on which Galileo's experiments were performed, the existence of the sun and of all our surroundings, the laws of nature are entirely silent. ”
10  In emphasizing sensitivity to initial conditions, bifurcations, self-organization, autopoiesis, autocatalytic networks, etc., complexity discourse has opened up a space where possibilities proliferate, but now accompanied by models and control points to which 'means' of monitoring and choosing other possibilities might be attached."

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Current schools of thought on the sources of objectivity

  1. Literalist Fundamentalism: Hybrid of empiricism and scripturalism. Serves capitalism and/or tribalism.
  2. New Ageism: Hybrid of tropes of modern science, superstition and common but uncanny experiences, which remain scientifically unexplored due to # 5).
  3. Post Modernism: Ever changing truth lies between the lines in the ceaseless revolution against narratives of power.
  4. Basic Science: Carries on halfway between rigour and rigor-mortis owing to emphasis on economic benefits, rigid schools of thought, and being a trope of legitimacy unto itself.
  5. Reductionist Science: Puts the methodological cart before the ontological horse, confuses the intellectual filing cabinet for reality, hung up on "building blocks", misses context, life, imagines operational definitions to be exhaustive.
  6. Promethean Science: A hubristic triumphalism of technology that, like dominionist religions, celebrates our conquest/dominion of nature.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The 11 Cynical Laws of Crank (Parr's Laws)

1. If you have an axe to grind and you grind it, you will eventually be seen as a crank*.
2. If you demonstrate enthusiasm in any intellectual cause other than some self or immediate practical community interest, you risk being seen as a crank*.
3. If you are learned but don't sufficiently cite or defer to the canonical script for your discipline when expressing your novel ideas, you will be labelled as a crank*.
4. If a researcher has some good ideas amongst those which render him labelled a crank, you will be seen as a crank if you quote him (even the very good bits.)
5. If you admire someone who is insightful and who has cited the better ideas of someone who is otherwise considered a crank, you mustn't quote him except to disparage him and dissociate yourself or you too will be tainted as a crank.
6. It does not count as an informal fallacy to criticize the ideas of a crank by alluding to his character.
7. Pejoratives suffice as critiques when it comes to the writings of those who are rightly or wrongly considered cranks.
8. If you quote someone who works from a rival interpretation of your discipline, you will come to be distrusted.
9. If you quote from outside your discipline, you will be seen as a crank* **
10. If you earnestly try to change anything for the better, you will be labelled as a crank (but beaten down as an upstart)*.
11. If any of your questions cast doubt on the latest iteration of the myth of the divine right of kings (narratives that sustain various types of social authority), you will be swiftly marginalized, one way or another.

*unless you have at least 2 or more of the following:

A. A personal gravity that comes from an astounding sense of entitlement
B. Brilliant PR skills (i.e., the makings of a good con artist)
C. A wealthy and powerful backer

** unless you are an established pulp news pundit, in which case you can quote or misquote anyone you like to support your position

Monday, October 21, 2013

What the future might hold?

My inner futurist (a dilettante, really) is whispering to me...

  • 3D printers will evolve fast and soon will be able to combine an optimal set of elementary materials depending on the properties required (e.g., bendable, shiny, a combination, etc.). 
  • Evolutionary theory will come to emphasize complex triggers of gene expression and development and retire the theory of the "selfish gene". Discoveries in this line will open the space for more of an understanding of drive and intention. 
  • One day people who have contrasted randomness and causality will realize that nowhere within this opposition can anyone find the clue to understanding what "free will" is. The new understanding will instead turn on an epistemic insight into complexity. As a better understanding of randomness and causality will be a byproduct.
  • Much better batteries will revolutionize cars. 
  • I'm not sure about self-flying one-person planes or even self-driving cars. Maybe commercially run commuter pods or something.
  • Sooner or later, people will have a big groan moment when they realize how easily and cleanly energy can be (and could have been) produced.
  • It will come to be understood that the phrases one utters in one's head are not one's thoughts but the articulation (or obscuring) of  a coursing stream of intentions, desires, fears and related associations. The intentions can come to be expressed as phrases, actions, impulses, even mythical stories, rituals or magical forces, depending on how aware of one's awareness one is. Intentions and instincts are not unrelated. 
  • Much of what were formerly called "psychic phenomena" will be called nonsense while the remainder of them will be accepted and understood as animal instincts (which will turn out to be rather more complicated and less blind kinds of thing than is currently thought and, in humans, be seen to include mythology, ritual etc.)
  • Reductionism, methodolatry, and much of mechanistic linear thinking will fade into the background. 
  • The new pitfall of thinking will be an over-reliance on laissez-faire self-organization without concomitant strategies for things such as inter-system clashes and the "Dark Corners" where information doesn't flow. Depending on how stupid the heavyweights have remained, we could just devolve even further into tribalism or sell out to the Borg. 
  • Hierarchy and patriarchy will probably hang around as irksome dregs until a complete environmental paradigm shift occurs (decades off) but they should become less pernicious, I hope, as more girls come to have greater access to education.
  • An understanding of the relationship between time and entanglement might allow for an integration of relativity and QM. Strings will go the way of the ptolemaic model. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

There's no Accounting for It: Areas where the quest for the true story leads us to falsehood

We have confidence in numbers, not the evidence of our senses, as is often claimed. Everything we consider to be accurately observed is, in fact, accurately defined - i.e., defined in a way that makes the phenomenon of interest measurable, countable. Not until we establish the numeric lens of accuracy, or the illusion thereof, do we consider phenomena to exist beyond our thinking, our interestedness. Pause and ponder that.

You see, our confidence is misplaced. We mistake the indicator for reality. The relevance of data resides in the definition (a.k.a. "operational definition") of what is counted, and rarely are such definitions exclusive and exhaustive of phenomena, outside of some narrow scientific disciplines. 

Speaking from his experience in the area of Psychology, Jack Martin of Simon Fraser University explains that, whereas operational definitions provide investigators with initial cues to the identification and more thorough understanding of phenomena, psychologists frequently treat such definitions as if they were conclusive and exhaustive. Complex phenomena, such as human motivation and confidence, are narrowly understood in terms of a small set of predetermined factors. Understanding becomes reduced to some kind of criteriology, a labelling game. The purposes of investigation, learning and discovery, making new and deeper interconnections, are left out of this paint-by-numbers story.

From the psychology lab to the office, the situation becomes culturally entrenched. Those who report, from students to office workers, spend their days manipulating and their nights worrying about institutionalized performance measures, standardized tests, and a daily barrage of transactional data, all narrowly defined and often rather arbitrary, devoid of much concrete relevance. These measures are meant to provide insight into trends, and evidence of this or that performance, but in fact they mostly just
  • eliminate context, 
  • block connections, common sense and insight
  • erode our capacity for reasoning 
  • keep us too preoccupied to examine our purposes
  • and ultimately put us on the self-sustaining hamster wheel of empty bureaucratic process
The focus on numbers may give us the secure sense that we're getting precise information, but it's a false sense of security.

See also The Logic of Quantophrenia and possibly Amy Lemay on assessing impact as reported by Asha Law at

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Some random hypotheses and tests - testing the waters

1. Myths about the cosmic order are instinctive and reflect the geographic milieu, serve the economic and technical demands of the age and legitimate the the social order - community norms, mores, ethic and hierarchy. These instincts are experienced as compelling numinous images or symbols or enacted as rituals. They are either an emergent communal expression or left to shamans, chiefs or kings, or religious leaders to articulate and disseminate. In modern times, culturally significant artists may take the role of shamans. The myths change with historically significant changes in technology and trade.

TEST If this is true, disruptions in the mythic consciousness would cause psychological disturbances because the capacity for mythic instinct has ceased to be rooted in a social economy - powerful but pointless or counterproductive numinous symbols and rituals. This would imply that when there is any geographic or technical upheaval (positive or negative) that uproots people from their traditional (social and economic) ways and narratives, there will be increases in psychological malaise or social or cultural pathologies (e.g., fanaticism or collective cultural dispiritedness).

Also, if true, themes experienced in dreams of psychologically healthy people or explored in literature would symbolize key socio-cultural trends or turning points where adaptations were needed. Who has the interpretive key would, however, be a difficult question to answer. (Think of Ondaatje's English Patient as a story about the need for changes in the narrative around national (tribal) identities at a time of massive technical change, when production is becoming global, not local, and it makes sense. As you can tell, I consider the EP as a culturally significant work.)

2. Embedded in our myths is a vestigial primate-ness and an alpha-male motif.

TEST Ethological studies of hominid communication suggests hierarchy predominates in the "vocabulary" of our cousins (see Kenneally, The First Word). Robert Bellah, a sociologist of religion, explains the transformation of mythic consciousness over pre-history and history (Religion in Human Evolution). A study might focus on the parallels between hominid communication and human language, (e.g., consider the unquestioning subscription to the narrative of the "divine right of kings" and similar scripts, which is just not explainable by any individual's will to power, Ian Morris.)  This might go some way to explaining modern gender imbalance (now eroding, thanks to mass clothing production, vacs and dishwashers, finally - quite a lag, though - right, Betty?)

3. Attempts at the scientific rendition of mythic terms should be abandoned (are you listening, Rupert Sheldrake?). However, the phenomena that such terms wrongly label may have yet some scientific explanation. For example, phenomena labelled "psychic" may indicate something very different from witchy receptivity to mysterious "energies".  Lacking appropriate explanatory models, these phenomena are packaged in pseudo-scientific terms and are thus rapidly dismissed by the majority of self-respecting scientifically literate folks.  I'm sure nevertheless there are many (if not all) people who experience correctly knowing or understanding something without being able to explain exactly how they do. Not all of these people would say they were "psychic".  Imprecise forebodings and mysterious anticipations may be no more paranormal than bird navigation, snakes detecting earthquakes or the suddenly conscious conclusions drawn by our unconscious processes of assimilating vast amounts of past and present perceptual cues.

Once the epithet, "psychic" is dispensed with, scientifically inclined people should have little trouble finding evidence of people who have drawn correct conclusions on the basis of unconsciously gathering and assimilating information. (My suspicion would be that the instincts mentioned in 1 inflect this process and, when it goes awry, the person suffers from a psychological malaise. On the other hand,  when the narrative sustaining the social order is no longer credible, a collective reaction formation (a.k.a. fanaticism) or a dispirited culture will be the result.)

4. In the same vein as 3, consider ghosts. Instead of thinking of a ghostly experience as evidence of displaced spirits, maybe time is multidimensional and can be layered. Vivid experiences that people mistakenly explain as ghosts may be hints of something occuring in a prior layer of time, a temporal echo. (Pure speculation, admittedly - spectral speculation.)

TEST "Ghost sightings" would be more likely when spatial arrangements have changed very little over the years/centuries; e.g., a "sighting" of a ghost (a temporal echo) on a stairway or coming through a door would be unlikely in a modern building because a modern and ancient building on the same property would not likely have had architectural features occupying the same space.

None of these tests would prove anything conclusively, of course. The two themes I have covered are human instinct and scientific reification. The latter covers all 4, the former, the first 3. I'm interested in having these themes pursued in more depth.