All posts by anomalogue

Uniqueness, universality and the social region

What is unique to each of us is intimately connected with what is universal to all of us.

The connection is intimate but it runs a long and intricate circuit through everyday, practical life.

Let us call this intimate, intricate circuit the social region.

In good times, the social region mediates between uniqueness and universality and provides us roles and identities that do justice both to our uniqueness and to universality. Because it mediates uniqueness and universality, we find social existence tolerable and sometimes worthwhile.

In bad times, the social region imposes upon us roles and identities which suppress our uniqueness and eclipse our relation to universality. Social existence alienates us from ourselves, and from universality beyond socially given commonalities.

Cut off from our uniqueness, individuals are reducible to identity. Cut off from universality, reality is socially constructed.

Cut off from everything apart from social existence, tormented by their alienation, social activists work tirelessly deconstruct and reconstruct society, in order to win the recognition, power and resources to which those of their identity are entitled. They win and win and win. But with each victory they feel less and less victorious. And the social region, as it tries to do more and more of what it cannot do, becomes more and more alienated and alienating.

Arthur C. Clarke famously said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

The supreme example of such a technology is religion.

And ironically, another example is… magic.

We do not even know what either of these technologies exist to do.

But we go on knowing, anyway, with “the sublime confidence of the ignorant.”*

This addled age is a cargo cult of history.

Credit to Freddy DeBoer for the hilarious expression: “the sublime confidence of the ignorant.”

This article, by the way, is about the unfounded belief that a normal, intact personality lurks beneath the outward personalities of the severely autistic.

This exhibits the same disastrous mental move I have observed in vulgar understandings of the subconscious. Somehow, fully-formed but unspoken beliefs lurk beneath the surface of consciousness, forever trying to bob up, despite our frantic efforts to push them back under, away from our awareness.

Both are the result of an incapacity to think subjectivity-first.


Something incomprehensible is happening to us.

It is happening to all of us, all at once, and each of us, personally.

It is happening so rapidly, so pervasively and so totally that the change is, as yet, incomprehensible.

It is happening immanently, in every minute detail of our individual and collective lives, but it is obviously also happening transcendently: something portentous is going on elsewhere, beyond, and manifesting here, now, personally.

The whole itself is disturbed, and life is saturated with signs of the disturbance.

Some read the signs as the creaks and groans of decaying institutions, preceding total collapse. Some read them as clues of secret scheming of a malevolent totalitarian cabal, while others diagnose this reading as precisely the kind of paranoid theories concocted and propagated by totalitarian populists. Some read the signs as Gaia making final preparations to heal herself of the destructive parasite we have become. Some interpret these signs as an approaching futureshock of exponential proportion. A post-singularity artificial god will purge us from the planet. Some read the signs as the harvest of evil seeds planted centuries ago — a long overdue reckoning — a humanist ultio dei. Others see it all as prophesied trials and tribulations finally coming to pass.

Different faiths, different metaphysics, different elsewheres, different beyonds — different accounts, different explanations. But for all their differences, they all point to a common phenomenon: our shared sense that the fabric of reality is unraveling.

It manifests as uncanniness. We are all collectively and individually anxious about everything-all-at-once. Most of us fixate on one or several particular foci. But the themes and things upon which we focus our angst are just condensations of something in the air. That something defies focus. It demands something else.

The something-in-the-air that everything-all-at-once is not calling us to action.

It is calling us to a reorientation to subjectivity.

We can no longer be naively objective. Mere objectivity will no longer deliver us.

We must learn to comprehend our own subjectivity, and the supersubjectivities in which we participate.

Who are your supersubjects? Or rather, to which supersubjects do you belong?

And do your supersubjects answer to anyone higher than themselves?

Some do, some don’t.

Most don’t.

May your wanting be wiser

I was looking in Susan’s copy of The Hero With a Thousand Faces and saw that she wrote in the margin “May your wanting be wiser.” She says she learned it from Rabbi Jeff Roth.

I find it strange how everyone assumes they are, in the state they are already in, qualified to define what a better world should be. And it seems the less experienced an activist is and the more distorted their faith is, the more passionate they are about reshaping the world to match their ideals.

Unless you are wise and your wantings are wise, your vision of a better world will be unwise. If you think you must repair a broken world in order to repair your own brokenness, your vision is broken and your repairs will only make things worse.

Make yourself better, then you will be able to make the world better.

Remedial phenomenology

For the last couple of months I have been re-grounding myself in Husserl’s phenomenology. The work I am interested in doing is phenomenological, but it is not, itself, phenomenology. By returning to Husserl, I hope to arrive at the point of departure for my project. I am interested in approaching philosophy as a design discipline, both in the form of the philosophy (writing, visuals, practices designed to impart a particular faith) and in its substance (the life afforded by adoption of the faith). To make matters weirder, the faith itself is designerly. Obviously, it is a synthesis of philosophy, design and religion that profoundly scrambles the current meanings of philosophy, design and religion.

Natural as opposed to what?

I’ve used the word “natural” to four very different ways, and each is defined against a different opposite. These are each

The first two are the boring obvious ones.

  • Natural versus manmade. Is it from the wilderness, or is it from our own hands?
  • Natural versus supernatural. Does it obey the laws of nature, or does it follow the laws of something or someone beyond nature? Note: I understand there are less vulgar notions of supernatural, but for the present purposes, let’s use the vulgar sense.

The second two (to me, anyway) are more interesting.

  • Natural versus unnatural. Does something subjectively feel as though it spontaneously participates in nature or does it seem alienated from it and at odds with it? This could be subdivided into any number of categories, depending on the perceived location of the unnaturalness. For example, it could be one’s own self (“this action feels unnatural”) or in a perceived or conceived object (“that light looks unnatural”).
  • Natural versus phenomenological. Am I regarding some phenomenon in solely terms of the object given to my perception or conception, or am I understanding the phenomenon also as a subjective act of perceiving or conceiving some given object? And I will always add: and if conceived differently, will reveal a different given object.

These latter two are at the heart of my philosophical design work.

Can phenomenological freedom be used skillfully to suspend one natural way of perceiving in order to reconceive reality (or nature, if you prefer) in another way — a way that is shockingly unfamiliar, yet just as natural as the old one. A new comprehensive praxic gestalt clicks into place, replacing the old “everything” gestalt.

This is a non-supernatural account of metanoia, and it suggests that philosophies rooted in phenomenological reflective practice can be a kind of genuine religious practice. If one is willing to pay the necessary exorbitant price, one can radically reconfigure one’s own subjectivity, objectivity and subject-object relations.

For a long time I was planning to call my perpetually unwritten book on this subject Second-Natural. I was also playing with another title The Ten Thousand Everythings.

Now I am leaning toward calling it Enworldment.

Phenomenological prayer

Reality is an articulate whole we inhabit.

Reality is myriad interacting things among us.

Reality is participation with our fellow inhabitants.

We participate in realities beyond our comprehension.

Interacting things unite and divide.

The whole can rearticulate in shocking ways.

Reality is not what we think it is.

Things can be otherwise.

We are not who we think we are.

Metanoia and the triad

A problem is coming into view for me.

For the last two decades, it has seemed true to me that we have three fundamental factors that shape our being:

The first factor is intuition, and intuition’s “object”, everyday, immediate givens — those real entities we encounter and interact with in the course of our practical lives. Do we have a clear conception of these givens, that allows us to relate this particular given to other givens? Or is our intuition purely tacit recognition that lies dormant in oblivion until it spontaneously recognizes and responds to some given, and then recedes back into oblivion? All encounters with entities around us, whether conceived or merely recognized, are given to experience. Intuition is the faculty of immediate givenness.

The second factor is will — our own motivated response or nonresponse to what we experience. Do we ignore or attend? If we attend, do we merely observe or do we respond? If we respond, do we respond subjectively by adjusting our understanding or attitude, or do we try to respond objectively by changing that which we experience? Or do we do both at once, and interact — alternating fluidly between acting upon and being acted upon? All response, whether ignorant or attentive, whether observational or active, whether inward, outward, or both is will.

The third factor is metaphysical attitude — our sense of reality and our own place in it and our relationship with it, to it, within it. In fact, it might be the essence of our metaphysic what preposition we prepose when relating self to beyond-self. This metaphysical attitude is an implicit faith, which might or might not be articulated as a metaphysical doctrine, and that articulation might be a faithful expression of the implicit faith or it might be in conflict with one’s implicit faith, which means it is held in bad faith.

This is my best understanding of the great triad. The source of intuitive givens is Earth, who is Prakriti, who is Shekhinah, who is the Virgin. The source of reality within whom we exist is Heaven, who is Purusha, who is Keter, who is YHWH. Between is Man, who is the Ideal Person, the polycentered heart of the world, and the schlub who is each of us.

Rabbi Simcha Bunim taught: “Keep two pieces of paper in your pocket at all times. On one: ‘I am a speck of dust,’ and on the other : ‘The world was created for me.’”

If we manage to change our metaphysical attitude, it changes also our intuition and our will. I am talking here about metanoia.

This is not the same thing as coming to authentic articulation of a faith that was misrepresented in bad faith.

Nor is it that more common, much worse reverse case, where we adopt a bad faith that allows us to make coherent articulates sense of things, and share it with others around us — but at the cost of fidelity to our implicit faith and our intuitions. We gain the world(view) but lose our soul (our intuitive and metaphysical connection with reality). This bad faith dooms us to clearly and compellingly positing things rooted neither in our experience nor in our sense of reality.

I am talking about shift in how we tacitly situate ourselves in reality, due to a shifted tacit understanding of reality, a shifted tacit understanding of self and a shifted tacit understanding of relationship between this new self and new reality.

My problem is: In the metanoia experience of rebirth as a new person in a new reality, is it better to think of it as new conceptions — new receptive faculties affording new realities to which, before we were oblivious due to lack of receptive faculties? Or rather, is it registering novel ordered stabilities emerging from the chaos and instability of unordered experience, which we did receive but could not order?

Is metanoia more like being blind but now seeing? Or is it more like becoming able to make out murky forms we see in the shadowy fog? I’ve been inclined to see it as the former.

Wisdom trouble

(This post is notes to myself. If you read it — and you are welcome to — you are reading as an eavesdropper. Something is troubling me badly. It is the best kind of trouble, which is why I have been chasing it around it with my philosopher’s stone. Just this year I’ve chased it through at least six gnarly books and through at least six dozen excruciating conversations.)

Wisdom is practical understanding of first-person being.

Wisdom is practical understanding. The understanding manifests in practice. To convey it, it must be demonstrated. It cannot be given by explicit propositional language.

An understanding that manifests in practice is an ability to act in some intentional way. It is not knowledge content. Practical understanding, though, might use knowledge as a means or support in its practice. We sometimes call such knowledge “wisdom”, but this badly confuses matters. A wise person’s knowledge (or a wise tradition’s knowledge) is an instrument, not the wisdom ability itself. Just as possessing a guitar does not make one a guitarist, possessing a wise person’s knowledge does not make one wise. One must have an ability to do the practice — play a guitar if a guitar is available or act wisely if an occasion for wisdom arises.

The practice in question is a participatory practice — participation in first-person being.

First-person being is not nearly as simple as our everyday working notions of I and we suggest. Practical understanding of this complexity — manifested as participation in first-person in its full complexity — is essential to wisdom.

Wise participation is first-person is participation in a subjective manifold comprising one’s own first-person singular being (I), other persons’ first person singular beings (fellow-I, a.k.a. thou), within transcendent first person being plural (We).

(We is a complex and elusive kind of being about whom we know little, but about which we unwisely believe we know perfectly well. We don’t even know how to know it, because when we try to know we approach it as objective immanence, when the everse approach is required. We is essentially participatory and transcendent, not objective and immanent. This is the most radical category mistake, and it forces any believer in its grip into the unwise either-or of a relatively decent atheism or an indecent fundamentalism.)

The understanding exists as a capacity for this kind of participation, which emerges if the occasion for such participation presents itself.

Let’s return to the role of knowledge in wisdom. We have established that wisdom is not knowledge. We have also established, however that some knowledge can be instrumental to wisdom.

It is also true that we can state true propositions about wisdom. As wisdom is not knowledge, a true proposition about wisdom is not itself wisdom. But knowledge about wisdom can be instrumentally useful to wisdom. And an act of using instrumentally useful knowledge about wisdom can be wise. In this case, wisdom is manifested in the speech act, not in the content.

Philosophy, at its best, is the attempt to demonstrate wisdom by stating true propositions about wisdom that are instrumentally useful to wisdom, and its wisdom is demonstrated in its attitude toward wisdom as something inexhaustibly transcendent. We don’t possess wisdom, we love wisdom, and we love it by desiring its beyondness, wisely pursing wisdom beyond our current ability.

This is the structure of love: Love is transcendently oriented, loving past what is objectively given, toward a subject who forever eludes our possessing, comprehending grasp, a semi-mysterious person we know essentially through our shared participation in We.

To covet what is objectively given, or to value only the experience of what is given, is mere lust.

What do we call a person who acquires, collects or distributes wisdom facts and wisdom tools, while neglecting the development of wise practice?

A lot of wisdom happens without the use of knowledge.

Many wise people cannot tell you many facts about their wisdom.

They just act wisely when the occasion calls for it.

Others gravitate to forms of wisdom that involve knowledge. It is easy to automatically conflate them with knowledge fact and knowledge tool hoarders, but it is unwise to do so.

The test is the same: can these knowledge users act wisely with their knowledge when the occasion calls for it?

Some people learn some wisdom, but unwisely conclude from this that they now possess wisdom. They were ignorant in thinking they knew — but now they know that they really know. Others who resist their new knowing resist ignorantly. They too only think they know.

It would be wise to ask if perhaps one still only thinks one really knows. Or better, that knowing must be something other than we have conceived it.

But instead one becomes foolishly, arrogantly and presumptuously wise like a new religious convert, or like a university student who has learned just enough to be dangerous, or like a new initiate in a compelling new conspiracy theory, or like a fanatic drunk on a comprehensive political ideology that finally makes sense of everything.

A fool possessed by a conceit of wisdom is called sophomoric (sophos– “wisdom” + -moros “foolish”).

A fool with a head full of wise content is somehow even more foolish than an empty-headed fool.

Course outline: “What is service design?”

I’ve been taking an online course on designing online courses. If that isn’t meta enough the online course I am learning to design is on design.

My course will be an introduction to service design, meant to introduce people who are contemplating or preparing to participate in a service design project how to think about and talk about service design, so they can feel comfortable with the idea of embarking on a service design project and participating in the process.

I’m putting the tentative outline of the course here, just in case anyone is interested:

Lesson 1: What is design?

  • What we mean by design
  • What we do not not mean by design (making functional things more appealing)
  • What we also do not mean by design (planning out an engineered thing)
  • Design produces dynamic systems of parts and participants
  • Successful design motivates participants to participate
  • Design is concerned with understanding and involving participants

Lesson 2: What is a service?

  • What we mean by service
  • What we do not mean by service (service as opposed to product)
  • Service design’s much broader conception of service
  • Some services don’t look like services
  • Service generates, exchanges and distributes value of myriad forms

Lesson 3: What is the value of design?

  • Quantitative value
  • Qualitative value
  • A business that fails to deliver qualitative value will not make money
  • Experience is about qualitative value
  • Design motivates participants to participate by offering good experience

Lesson 4: Good experiences in general

  • Good experience is useful, usable and desirable
  • Human-centered design (HCD) is a method for producing good experiences
  • Overview of HCD (universal methodology for producing good experiences)
  • Altitudes and granularity of experiences
  • Beyond touchpoints

Lesson 5: Good service experiences

  • Service experiences are a complex special case
  • Service experiences have six characteristics, all of which must be addressed in a good service experience.
  • 1. Services comprise multiple experiences occurring over a span of time
  • 2. Services comprise experiences occurring across multiple delivery channels
  • 3. Services comprise experiences interacting with other people
  • 4. Services comprise experiences of aligned and misaligned interests
  • 5. Services are experienced as partly exposed and partly concealed
  • 6. Services experience is the result of how the organization operates

Lesson 6: The six dimensions of service

  • Reflection on service experiences, good and bad
  • Introduction to six dimensions of service (6DS)
  • 1. Sequential
  • 2. Omnichannel
  • 3. Polycentric
  • 4. Aligned
  • 5. Semivisible
  • 6. Operationalized
  • Sorting good and bad experiences into the 6DS

Lesson 7: A typical service design project

  • Introduction: from current to future state
  • Understand internal perspectives
  • Understand current service delivery
  • Understand the current actor experiences
  • Identify and prioritize opportunities to improve current experiences
  • Envision alternative future experiences
  • Evaluate and revise alternative future experiences
  • Blueprint future service delivery
  • Plan phased development of future service

Lesson 8: Some core tools of service design

  • Introduction: current state, future state versions
  • Current state ecosystem map
  • Current state service blueprint
  • Current state experience map
  • Opportunity statements
  • Concept sheets
  • Future state experience (“story from the future”)
  • Future state moment architecture
  • Future state service blueprint
  • Future state evolution map

Lesson 9: What it is like to participate in a service design project

  • It is participatory
  • It is collaborative
  • It is multidisciplinary
  • It is radically democratic
  • It is anthropological
  • It demands empathy
  • It demands different modes of thinking
  • It will demand different ways of working
  • It changes everything

Lesson 10: How service design can help you

  • Apply six dimensions of service to your own service
  • Define a project

Stiff-necked fuckups of God

The appropriators of Hebrew scripture and faith read all the terrible things the Jews say about themselves or relate God saying of them, and rejoice in their own superiority.

These successor religion believers could never act like those vicious patriarchs in Genesis, or the wicked persecutors of prophets, or those hypocritical Pharisees.

The secular inheritors of the Judeo-Christian morality beg to differ. All those various religious fanatics of the past did all kinds of injustice and violence in the name of God. They were clearly out for themselves, and using God as a way to delude themselves and others.

But the modern secular moralists, having rejected all the sketchy doctrines of the past, could never act like those fanatics and mistake themselves for moral when acting in their own self-interest. They’ve found ways to objectively, methodically, scientifically neutralize their deepest biases and motivated reasoning. And therefore, they alone ought to teach and administer justice, and those who oppose them should be suppressed.

To me, those people capable of recognizing and acknowledging their wisdom failures are wiser than those who still have not discovered the unwisdom in their wisdom — (not to mention the injustice in their justice, the unfairness in their fairness, the violence in their compassion, the error in their truth, and so on) — still have some collective growing up to do.

I’m sticking with the stiff-necked fuckups of God.

Wisdom and Golden Rule Prime

I am clearly in a serious perplexity. It is very painful, but the pain feels promising. It is manifesting as increasing impatience at being condescended to. Some are people who seem to me manifestly unqualified to condescend. They know something important, but they seem unaware of how much remains beyond their understanding, and how crucially important that beyond is. Others are possibly qualified. They might have important knowledge beyond mine, but I’m frustrated with our relationship — but perhaps because they are perplexing me with something as-yet inconceivable to me. The interference between the two possibilities is jamming me up. Plus I have some scary medical stuff going on, and that’s intensifying my already excessive intensity.

Here is my current attempt at resolving this perplexity…

A while back I began reflecting on the Golden Rule, and came up with the idea of Golden Rule Prime.

At its surface, the Golden Rule is a pretty terrible rule. Do to others as you would have others do to you. So you would have others serve you the disgusting food they themselves would like to eat, or have you listen to the terrible music they prefer? Who would want that?

But if we note that very fact, and run it back through the Golden Rule again, we get something much better. What would we like better? We would like others to serve us the food we ourselves like, or play the music we ourselves prefer. This iteration of the rule is Golden Rule Prime.

But even Golden Rule Prime is not quite right. Maybe we are not hungry, even for our favorite food, or maybe we are not in the mood for any music however much we normally love it. What would we like better? If we run this back through the Golden Rule again, we get something even better. We would like someone to check with us on what we want and then respond to what we tell them, or something along the lines of asking and responding to the person, instead of speculating or guessing. That would be Golden Rule Double Prime.

With each iteration the Golden Rule yields a deeper principle, approaching a moral asymptote, which I believe is absolute and not attainable. And with each iteration we presume less that we know better (or ever can know better), and put ourselves more on equal footing with others — who we must involve in our decisions if they are to be good ones

I am inclined to see wisdom as a function of this approach. How many Primes can you actively intuit in your dealings with others, how aware are you of the remaining unclosable distance between your own understanding and the intersubjective reality of the situation, and how ready are you to involve others in your effort to reduce that distance?


I’ve been reflecting on the word “philosopher” recently, and wondering why Socrates might have felt a need to coin a new word instead of just being a new variety of sophist. Why “lover of wisdom”?

This seems connected with the myth of the Oracle at Delphi identifying Socrates as the wisest man in Athens for knowing how little he really knew.

Is loving wisdom connected with awareness of the limits of one’s own thought?

I link this with the understanding that when love a person, we must not confuse that with loving our idea of who a person is.

We must love her semi-mysterious being who is forever beyond the limits of cognition, who will never stop surprising us. Yet we do know her more than our mere our cognition knows, in a directly intuitive way. And that intuitive knowing has something to do with participating in a shared being with her.

In love, our own subject subsists within another greater subject, and our being participates in this greater being.

Wisdom seems connected with this capacity to participate in reality without needing to reduce to reality to thought — to think toward a reality known to transcend thought.

Unwisdom — sophistry — is to confuse our thoughts of reality for reality itself.

We think we love a person but instead love our own idea of a person.

We think we worship God but instead we love our own mental image of God.

We think we know who we are, but we don’t know how to know the kind of being we have in order to know it. We grasp some identity — a category of object — instead of participating in our own way as our selves.

Participatory being is subjectivity, and objectivity is its product, not its substance.

As long as we must cognize everything objectively before we will know it as real, we will remain unable to know ourselves, other people, or God. We will be cursed with the Midas touch of objectivity, and be unable to nourish ourselves. We will be nihilists.

I entertain the possibility that Socrates saw that the consequence of sophistry was nihilism.

And now I am wondering if the purpose of Socratic interrogation is to get people to realize how much they are able to do perfectly well despite lacking the? ability to account for it with explicit thought?

What the actual hell is service design? Part 1

People often ask what I do for a living. I dread this question. Because I answer “service design.” To which they very reasonably ask “What is service design?” To which I find myself unable to give a succinct, clear answer.

My succinct unclear answer is “I am a sort of win-win engineer.”

While this doesn’t come close to answering the question, it does get things rolling in the right direction.

If the person seems sincerely interested I might continue with some un-succinct clarification. “I try to help organizations set conditions where anyone who deals with that organization, whether as a customer, or employee, or leader, or partner, or whatever — anyone who participates in the activities of the organization — benefits from their interactions, while also benefitting others.”

Years ago, a friend and I had big plans to start a “But what is it?” blog in order to showcase companies who explain the benefits of some offering of theirs, but who completely fail to give any sense at all of what the offering actually is. I bring this up because I am painfully aware of the fact that, so far, my explanation of service design is exactly the kind of thing that existed to ridicule.

So let’s put some nouns under the lovely benefits. What is service design?

Service design is a design discipline that focuses on improving how organizations create and deliver value, both internally and externally.

Besides committing the sin of circular definition, there are few nouns shakier than “design”. Half the world is confused by the word, and the other unconfused half misunderstand it. The matter of what design actually is will be dealt with later. For now, I will make things even worse by elaborating on the “create and deliver value” part.

The word “value” might be even shakier than “design”. It is certainly very general, and vague. But it is general and vague for the very best of reasons: value exists in myriad forms, and only a word as general and vague as “value” can cover them all.

Obviously, one form of value is money. When value takes the form of money  it becomes easy to quantify, track and manage. Service designers definitely want to help organizations make money, but in this respect, we are no different from any other vendor a company might hire.

The difference comes from the other forms of value that service design helps organizations create and deliver — the more qualitative forms of value — and how many of these forms of value service design seeks to create coordinate and deliver.

Qualitative value can be in the usefulness or desirability of a product, those qualities that motivate someone to buy it.

Qualitative value can be the convenient or timely availability of products.

Qualitative value can be a helpful act of assistance that saves time or effort or stress.

Qualitative value can be useful information, or clarity on some murky or complicated matter, or a mind-blowing epiphany that makes you rethink everything.

Qualitative value can be feeling nourished or refreshed by beauty or elegance, or charmed by humor.

Qualitative value can be reassurance, or a kind word, or a sincere smile.

Qualitative value can be combinations of these various good things all at once, adding up to a good experience.

Qualitative value can be consistently good experiences over durations of time, resulting in a deepened, warmed or strengthened relationship that is valuable in itself. It feels good to have strong loyalty to a brand who has always done you right, and that is valuable.

It also feels good to work for an organization that does its customers right. This kind of organization is often also the kind of place that does its employees and partners right — and encourages employees and partners to do each other right, while doing right for their customers.

Even though these qualitative forms of value can be harder to quantify, track and manage than money is, they are the human reality that is the very root of value. Without these qualitative values, money will not be made.

And without qualitative value money would have no value at all. What good would even the largest quantity of money be, if there were no qualitatively good things to purchase with it? This was the hard lesson King Midas learned when he discovered that his magical touch that turned every qualitative reality into a quantum of gold, was not a blessing, but a curse.

This a paradox: What feels most real, concrete and factual from a management perspective is actually an abstraction of what seems vague, squishy, intuitive and arbitrary — but which are the realest realities of any organization. The hardest facts of business are the least concretely real. The softest, vaguest, touchy-feeliest aspects of business are what drive the behaviors that help a business flourish or make them fail.

So how do you manage these unmanageable factors that make or break your business?

By now it should be clearer what service design exists to do. Service design helps organizations coordinate to produce and deliver all these various kinds of qualitative value as effectively and efficiently as possible.

But how? This brings us to design. But I’ll have to go into that later.

What I’ve written above might end up part of a course I am working on. Please give me feedback if you have any. Thanks!

First principles last

I am finally getting around to reading Husserl’s Ideas. I should have read this long, long ago. He already developed the language I’ve needed to say what I most need to say.

One important capability of phenomenology — in my opinion, the most important capability — is this: a phenomenological attitude permits us to port an enworldment across multiple differing metaphysical platforms.

The need (which is more often than not nothing less than a compulsion) to maintain compatibility with one metaphysical platform will narrow the range of ideas we are willing to entertain and develop, as well as the range of intuitions and perceptions we take seriously. Consequently we risk neglecting or rejecting regions of being crucial to our humanity.

Not every truth will play nice with an ultimate reality built with the materials of physics, or with a universe spun from divine love, or with a realm of manifested archetypal forms — but we might need those truths anyway, say, if we want to make an electronic device, or to cure a disease, or to feel healthy empathy for our neighbor, or to know viscerally that our life has purpose, or to account for mathematic’s miraculous ability to find order in the most chaotic of chaos, or to be bound to others within binding truths — all at once, all within the same life.

Maybe the first principles of metaphysics should come last in our understanding of our human — all-too-human — condition.

Anamnetic learning

What the world needs more of is teachers of what everyone already intuitively knows.

From the perspective of a learner — the most important perspective to both learner and teacher — learning what you already intuitively know is the most inspiring kind of learning. — “I always knew this but could never say it, before!” —

We feel relieved, dignified, liberated, restored, empowered when we learn this way. We feel grateful without feeling humiliated or indebted, because nobody gave us anything that was not already ours.

Everyone loves this kind of learning.

Plato called it anamnesis: unforgetting.

From the perspective of our social existence, anamnetic learning liberates private intuitions from solitary confinement within the skulls of individual persons, and brings it out into the light of shared understanding.

It socializes private knowing and allows it to participate in public knowledge.

I mean social and public in a positive sense. For many of us, the words “social” and “public” taste sour in our mouths. They imply imposition of unwanted burdens, constraints, exposure, artificiality, impersonality, de-personalization — alienation. But it has not always been this way. The ancients experienced public life very differently, and maybe in a different way that is partially recoverable.

The difference is preserved in the lonely etymology of the word “private”. Privare meant “to bereave, deprive, rob, strip”. Private means deprived of public existence.

Looking at the word “social” offers us clues into how Roman citizens may have experienced society. Socialis — “of companionship, of allies; united, living with others; of marriage, conjugal,” from socius “companion, ally.”

Is it possible that anamnetic teaching could help restore a non-alienating society, where living and working together in public affirms what we know and love most immediately?

Could we ever abide in a self-affirming, other-affirming, world-affirming common truth — a truth rooted in the soil of our souls, but growing upward as public knowledge, branching out as specialized practical expertise, efflorescing as culture, fructifying as teaching?

This is the stuff of utopian dreams, but I think it is a truth-bearing fantasy.

I imagine my younger daughter would laugh at me for being such an extreme Aquarius. But I am actually feeling it right now, and even as I see the wrecking ball of the day ahead swinging right for my  skull…

Learning to teach is helping me shed the burden of intellectual avarice. What seems deeply true to me is not mine. It’s not me. Truest truth should be everyone’s. The value of truth is actualized in the sharing of it with others.

One of the world’s most cloying day camp songs:

Love isn’t love
Until you give it away
Give it away
Give it away
Give it away
Love isn’t love
Until you give it away
You end up

I’m making myself throw up, now. Have a good day.