Phase 2 Case Study into “Fake News”
Day 3: The Conditioning Level of the Standing Wave


There is a difference between bodies and things. Bodies belong to the common sense realm of meaning as objects external to us that can be perceived and interacted with. Things are no less real despite the fact that they cannot be seen or sensed in any manner. Things are intellectual forms acquired through an insight that relates in a single image both concepts and relationships. They can be verified as being true in a virtually unconditioned judgment as long as the criteria set by the thing itself are met. This is an important distinction to keep in mind, since the idea of a “standing wave” of matter/energy as a recurring scheme of operations with associated probabilities of emergences and sustainability are things, not bodies.


The first point to keep in mind is that we are shifting out of the common sense world of objects and into the theoretical world of intelligibly things that exist in relationship to each other and not to human interests and concerns. In doing this, we leave the familiar world of common sense meaning and proverbial truths, so important at the core level of institutional life, and enter the strange world of the empirical sciences with its canons of selection, operations, relevance, parsimony, complete explanation, and statistical residues[1] In this empirical world view of emergent probability there is no place for God, for the very acknowledgement of a Divine Mystery operative in the universe plays havoc with the idea that there are natural laws that can be uncovered through the exercise of human intelligence. It is a reductive world that strips away any concept of “ought” or “should”, that is any ethical or moral considerations, in favor of finding out what is.

The second point is that our strategy is what is known is computer programming as “top down” programming, which is to say the first task is to lay out the broad strokes of what is to be accomplished. Once that is done, important subtasks can be identified and structured, and so on down the line until the complete program is in place. While we are not working on a computer program per se, we are working on putting into place a high level scheme of operations that in turn structure lower level activities when it comes to fundamental institutional change and “fake news.” In this way, we are attempting to model Lonergan’s own approach to understanding human understanding, a strategy that led to the high level operations of an “unrestricted desire to know” and a structure of cognitive operations that ground his transcendental method. In V.U.C.A. terminology,[2] this broad contextual setting constitutes the way to cope with the ambiguity—the “fog of war”—in human affairs.

The third point is that specialists of any type are bound to find flaws with details, adding complexity and nuance to the subject. These comments are to be included in our study, but even so what we are doing is setting a perhaps more appropriate context for understanding the institutional life of a civilization. Once such a context is in place, and we are far from that now, it becomes easier to carry out a firm evaluation and diagnosis of any time-and-space-specific socio-political situation that can be used to call in the appropriate specialist to take up the slack.

Our first task is to identify the fundamental institutional changes that are taking place, for such changes will affect all lower level changes that you yourself are working. The reason is that an appropriate allocation of your resources—time, money, talents, etc.—depend in part on the stability of your situation. The problem is that it is easy to focus on a limited problem at hand when looming out of sight is a massive change that will negate anything that you attempt to do. It may be important to put out a kitchen fire, but that pales when compared to the possibility that the building itself is about to be destroyed by a flood. What then should you be doing?

[1] Insight, Chapter 3: “The Canons of Empirical Method”
[2] V.U.C.A.: volatile, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.


Full notes provided below

Educational Projects: Introductory Course: Phase 2, Day 3

What happens when people are no longer in the loop.

An Emergent Cosmopolis