Category Archives: Philosophy

Let those with minds to know learn

“A moment is being, not an entity. Intuition knows being together with those entities who are being’s content at the moment.”

Content is synthesized, but being conceives and is conceived. Can you intuit the difference?

Conception means spontaneously taking-together as given. Our being must have a capacity for taking-together any particular given, or we are oblivious to its presence.

That for which we have ears to hear, eyes to see or a mind to know, — for those with the means to conceive a particular reality — a given is self-evidently present.

Conversely, that for which we lack the means to conceive is not present. It is nothing. And we can’t understand how others who claim something is present are unable to see that nothing is there.

And it does not help at all that many who see nothing claim to see something, and perhaps even manage to see what they imagine. They gush about the emperor’s new clothes, and the cynics rejoice. The emperor, however, is clothed — sometimes quite majestically.

But we all conceive some kind of content. The question is only: which content.

The content we manage to conceive we can combine in any number of ways. We make arguments. We construct theories. We build bodies of knowledge.

Some of this knowledge is only conceived at the base, but is synthesized all the way up. In order to make immediate, intuitive, experience-near sense of it all, the whole must be traced back to its simple components.

Some knowledge, however is conceived at the base and also at the crown and is conceived through and through. The edifice is reinforced throughout with immediate intuitions. We intuit not only elementary particles, the sun and moon, and whole, wide world but also such important in-between realities, like love, responsibility and inspiration.

We need much more of this latter knowledge. Physicists ought to think like physicists, but the rest of us should think like the beings we are, playing the roles we are called to play. If we all think like physicists, we will not only be second-rate physicists — we will all duplicate the kinds of mistakes physicists make, and we will not be the beings we need to be to see where the physicist’s sharp sight is most blind.

We must become wiser about how we know. We must reroot all our knowledge in what is beyond the limits of knowledge, in the immediacy of intuition. This rooting of knowledge in mystery beyond knowledge is wisdom.

Skin-to-skin intuition

Intuition relates to what is present, in its passage from who it was to who it will be. The memory and anticipation of the present moment is who that moment is.

Strange language. Why “who”? Why not “what”?

A moment is being, not an entity. Intuition knows being together with those entities who are being’s content at the moment.

A subject is beneath and beyond every object.

A subject plucks definites from the infinite.

When we learn the subject Mathematics, we are able to count, add and subtract what was merely none, some or many. When we learn the subject Literature, we are taught how to make imagination a good neighbor to actuality, because “Good fences make good neighbors.”

When we learn the subject Myself, we learn how to give and accept presents from beyond ourselves.

Intuition is not about things, but, rather, movements of being, and intuiting gives us access to participating in such movements. So it is more how things have been to how things will be. But it is not only about anticipation but influence. Anyone who has participated in craft will recognize this: Intuition is how things have been and how they ought to be next, and next again.

Later, we may reflect. We may intuit patterns in these events in which we participated, and these patterns may enhance our future participation. We may experience our participation more lucidly, remembering further back and anticipating further beyond in one bright intuition. If this happens, knowledge is glorious. And we might convey our knowledge to others and enhance their intuitions. If this happens, knowledge is great.

But if knowledge tries to substitute itself for direct intuition of reality, if knowledge tries to think or feel where it ought to intuitively be in the moving suspense of the present, then it becomes a logical usurper and a verbose kidnapper of souls.

Everything good is rooted in being’s direct skin-to-skin contact with the realities of reality.

Intuition is being’s direct skin-to-skin contact with what is beyond itself.


Our understanding of the reality is rooted in our participation in the world around us.

Some of us participate mainly by observing, which is certainly one good mode of participation, but it gives us only one type of knowledge.

Experimentation — trial and error in various domains of reality is another. We might experiment with matter, or with logical forms or with words and sounds. Or we might experiment socially, and try out different public personas. Or we might experiment interpersonally and see what kinds of interaction is possible with different people in our lives. Anywhere reality is, experiment is possible.

Some of us participate in life mainly by learning about various realities second-hand and trying to construct a clear, consistent and comprehensive theory of everything.

Years ago, I noticed Kant used the word “intuition” strangely.

I always thought of intuition as hunches — as a mysterious kind of knowing arising from the depths of the unconscious. But this was just an artifact of the distorting schema of the freudian worldview (or maybe vulgar freudianism), which thinks with words about a spoken-about world. In this world, anything that is not sayable is just a sayable thing that cannot be accessed. The content of the unconscious is suppressed, or concealed in darkness — but in principle, but once it is brought into the light of consciousness, what was dark is now lucid and articulate.

But, it turns out intuition is much simpler than all this.

Intuition is our access to reality which bypasses language.

That’s it.

But many of us have it in our heads that it is always better to think things out carefully before acting. We inventory and assess the elements of a situation. We apply our theories in order to project the likely outcomes of our actions. We look for gaps in our understanding. We look for errors, contradictions and inconsistencies in our logic. We talk it out in our own heads and with each other. Then we make a plan. Then we execute that plan.

Things get decided this way, far, far away from the situation discussed. And often these decisions are made by people with shockingly little first-hand experience of the situations. They have never observed these situations directly, let alone participated in them or experimented with them. It is all second-hand knowledge. And plans are guided by theories which are also often not informed by first-hand participation. And often, on the ground, on the front-lines, these decisions are made to work, despite being unhelpful or even harmful to the situations in question.

Intuition is spontaneous response to situations. Intuitions might be purely practical. Or they may be unsayable understanding, but which, with effort and skill, can be outfitted with words. Intuitions might be a sense of significance — a sense of “something might happen here” or “this is important” or “this is good” — or the opposite of these. Intuition might trust or mistrust. All these can and do happen — and should happen — prior to language.

Whether words are “experience-near” or “experience-far” to us is a function of whether our intuition can handle these words directly, or whether other words must assist our use. When we must think about words, using other words, before we can get them to convey a point, we are in the realm of experience-distant, and those words feel dry and awkward or even meaningless.

And sometimes the words we use are just memorized strings that seem to refer to something real, but serve other purposes. Sometimes they convey a general attitude or mood. Or they may serve as shibboleths, signaling membership in a tribe. We say things ostensibly about the world, but in actuality, are meant only to indicate who we are — or, more accurately, what we are.

Experience-near language is informed by real, intuitive experience, and this allows the words to also be used and understood intuitively.

Experience-distant language can be used with skill and force, but it always feels separated from anything recognizably real.

Ideally, we would equip ourselves with language that intuitively connects with the things closest and most important to us. The tradeoff might be an inability to explain more distant phenomena and integrate the whole into a clear, consistent, comprehensive theory of everything. But there are tradeoffs in the other direction, too. A clear, consistent, comprehensive theory of everything might, for instance, be able only to theoretically account for things such as love, pain, morality or beauty — but be unable to offer any practical guidance or insight or do justice to the experiences of these things.

Palindromic structure of service design

I am desperately trying to find much simpler ways to convey how service design works. Here is one of my recent simplifications. And it is a simplification that intentionally errs toward over-simplification. It not precisely, exactly accurate, but it is directionally true and helps illuminate the logic of the methodology. It is a helpful heuristic.

The structure of service design is palindromic. That is, it has a mirror structure. It goes 1-2-3-4, then 4-3-2-1.

The first motion is understanding what the current state of the service is.

The second, reversed motion is one of instaurating what the future state of the service ought to be.

First understand:

  • 1. Understand the current organizational capabilities.
  • 2. Understand the deployment of these capabilities in the current service delivery.
  • 3. Understand the current experience of those who receive, deliver and support the experience.
  • 4. Understand where the opportunities are: what should and can change.

Then, in reverse order:

  • 4. Prioritize the opportunities: what should and can change.
  • 3. Envision a better future experience of those who receive, deliver and support the experience.
  • 2. Design a future service delivery capable of actualizing the better service experience.
  • 1. Develop the capabilities required to support the better service.

Above, I linked to an old post, a lengthy excerpt from Bruno Laour’s An Inquiry into Modes of Existence. As apt a term as “instauration” (discovery-creation) is in any truly creative act, it is even more true in service design, where an organization providing a service is dependent on voluntary actors choosing to participate in a way that sustains the service — as opposed to refusing to participate in the service, or participating in a way that undermines the service.

…we find ourselves in a strange type of doubling or splitting during which the precise source of action is lost. This is what the French expression faire faire — to make (something) happen, to make (someone) do (something) — preserves so preciously. If you make your children do their vacation homework assignments, you do not do them yourselves…

As any leader knows, even employees must be persuaded to participate in their employment. But in service design, often much of the service is delivered by partners, many of whom are not under the control of the organization. Participating in the service must be valuable to them or they will opt out or lame out.

Service design wins participation in service systems by designing for mutual benefit. It instaurates conditions where win-win interactions spontaneously occur between service actors.

And this is the single biggest difference between service design and other experience design disciplines, for example, user experience and customer experience. Service design is like them, in that those people who receive the service (whether we call them users, or customers, or consumers or patients, etc) are supposed to find that experience a good experience. That is, the design is functionally helpful, easy to understand and interact with and, hopefully, resonates with their aesthetic and moral ideals. But service design is just as concerned with the experiences of those people on the front lines, actually delivering the service. And it is also concerned with the experiences of people behind the front lines who support that service.

Services are optimally effective when they serve everyone who participates in the service — receiving the service, delivering the service and supporting the service. And, I should add: They must also work for those sponsoring the service. That is, the service must help the sponsoring organization flourish.

In the near future I’ll be posting more and more on service design. I am taking a class on designing online courses, and my project will be to design an actual course, “What is Service Design, and What Does It Do?”

I am absolutely convinced that the praxis of service design is a path to a much better way to work, live and experience life. I would love to see service design become mainstream and become our next collective enworldment, at least for everyday life.

Jack’s bookshelf

I am buying books to read to my grandson, Jack.

If are a parent or grandparent, I recommend that you buy all these books and read them to your child, especially if your child is between the ages of 20-40.

Better and worse

I do not doubt in my heart that there is higher and lower, better and worse.

A person who, looking at the duck-rabbit optical illusion, sees only a duck or only a rabbit has a worse understanding than a person who sees an optical illusion. A person who understands others primarily as instances of categories is morally worse than someone who approaches others as subjectively real persons — as a fellow I, addressed as Thou.

There are others who share my certainty regarding higher and lower and better and worse, but whose ideas of higher and better are lower and worse than mine.

Of course, it is possible that I am wrong. And, of course, if I am wrong, I cannot know it. But it does not follow from this that I must assume skepticism toward my own beliefs. Absolutely not. I will doubt when and only when I arrive at actual doubt, and not a minute before.

Meanwhile, I will fight for what I know to be right against what I know to be wrong, and I will do do with the same fervor and ferocity of those who confuse the artificial clarity of ideology with the natural immediacy of intuitive contact with reality.

Let us not pretend to doubt

C. S. Peirce, from “Some Consequences of Four Incapacities Claimed For Man”:

We cannot begin with complete doubt. We must begin with all the prejudices which we actually have when we enter upon the study of philosophy. These prejudices are not to be dispelled by a maxim, for they are things which it does not occur to us can be questioned. …

A person may, it is true, in the course of his studies, find reason to doubt what he began by believing; but in that case he doubts because he has a positive reason for it, and not on account of the Cartesian maxim. Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts.

Sincere, genuine, authentic

sincere (adj.) — 1530s, “pure, unmixed, unadulterated;” also “free from pretense or falsehood,” from French sincere (16c.), from Latin sincerus, of things, “whole, clean, pure, uninjured, unmixed,” figuratively “sound, genuine, pure, true, candid, truthful” (unadulterated by deceit)

genuine (adj.) — “natural, not acquired,” from Latin genuinus “native, natural, innate,” from root of gignere “to beget, produce”

authentic (adj.) — “authoritative, duly authorized” (a sense now obsolete), from Old French autentique “authentic; canonical” (13c., Modern French authentique) and directly from Medieval Latin authenticus, from Greek authentikos “original, genuine, principal,” from authentes “one acting on one’s own authority,” from autos “self” (see auto-) + hentes “doer, being”


Yesterday, on my bike ride, I (re)listened to Eric Voegelin’s Autobiographical Reflections. When I heard this passage I almost fell off my bike.

James’s study on the question “Does ‘Consciousness’ Exist?” (1904) struck me at the time, and still strikes me, as one of the most important philosophical documents of the twentieth century. In developing his concept of pure experience, James put his finger on the reality of the consciousness of participation, inasmuch as what he calls pure experience is the something that can be put into the context either of the subject’s stream of consciousness or of objects in the external world. This fundamental insight of James identifies the something that lies between the subject and object of participation as the experience. Later I found that the same type of analysis had been conducted on a much vaster scale by Plato, resulting in his concept of the metaxy — the In-Between. The experience is neither in the subject nor in the world of objects but In-Between, and that means In-Between the poles of man and of the reality that he experiences.

The In-Between character of experience becomes of particular importance for the understanding of response to the movements of divine presence. For the experience of such movements is precisely not located in man’s stream of consciousness — man understood in the immanentist sense — but in the In-Between of the divine and the human. The experience is the reality of both divine and human presence, and only after it has happened can it be allocated either to man’s consciousness or to the context of divinity under the name of revelation. A good number of problems that plague the history of philosophy now became clear as hypostases of the poles of a pure experience in the sense of William James, or of the metaxy experiences in the sense of Plato. By hypostases I mean the fallacious assumption that the poles of the participatory experience are self-contained entities that form a mysterious contact on occasion of an experience. A mystery, to be sure, is there, but even a mystery can be clearly expressed by stressing the participatory reality of the experience as the site of consciousness and understanding the poles of the experience as its poles and not as self-contained entities. The problem of reality experienced thus becomes the problem of a flow of participatory reality in which reality becomes luminous to itself in the case of human consciousness. The term consciousness, therefore, could no longer mean to me a human consciousness that is conscious of a reality outside man’s consciousness, but had to mean the In-Between reality of the participatory pure experience that then analytically can be characterized through such terms as the poles of the experiential tension, and the reality of the experiential tension in the metaxy. The term luminosity of consciousness, which I am increasingly using, tries to stress this In-Between character of the experience as against the immanentizing language of a human consciousness, which, as a subject, is opposed to an object of experience.

This understanding of the In-Between character of consciousness, as well as of its luminosity — which is the luminosity not of a subjective consciousness but of the reality that enters into the experience from both sides — results furthermore in a better understanding of the problem of symbols: Symbols are the language phenomena engendered by the process of participatory experience. The language symbols expressing an experience are not inventions of an immanentist human consciousness but are engendered in the process of participation itself. Language, therefore, participates in the metaxy character of consciousness. A symbol is neither a human conventional sign signifying a reality outside consciousness nor is it, as in certain theological constructions, a word of God conveniently transmitted in the language that the recipient can understand; rather, it is engendered by the divine-human encounter and participates, therefore, as much in divine as in human reality. This seems to me, for the moment at least, the best formulation of the problem that plagues various symbolist philosophers — the problem that symbols do not simply signify a divine reality beyond consciousness but are somehow the divine reality in its presence itself.

Faithful to given truth

We start from givens, and must be faithful to those givens, but if we work to understand more than we already know, remaining faithful not only to what we know and do not know but also to where we experience perplexity, our givens can change, and we can re-start from new givens, and experience new truth.

We cannot choose those new givens, nor can we invent them. Attempts to choose or invent our new givens — to construct a truth to our liking — in the mistaken belief that with repetition and application any newly-constructed truth can become habitual, familiar and true, will result only in dishonesty, alienation, nihilism and despair. If a constructivist does manage to experience a construction as true, this is only because their sense of truth is so thoroughly lost that there is no faithfully-felt truth with which to compare it. The most hopeless alienation is one ignorant of its alienation, which regards whatever is not itself as a threat. Alienation is homophilic and heterophobic. It hates alterity.

If we wish to live faithfully in truth, all we can do is find live, felt problems and follow them where they lead us. And if we cannot live with where we arrive, we can only iterate this process until we arrive at a given truth we can live with. We must take what is given.

And once we find a given truth we love, we are not required to look for problems. Problems will arise when the time is right.

Truths deserve not only faithfulness, but also gratitude, care and love. Why should we demand unconditionality and immortality from truth?

Common sense

Most of the time, when we say “common sense”, assuming we bother meaning something precise by our words, we mean one of two things: the sense of things we all (should) have in common, or the sense of things common people (should) have. Conversely, lacking common sense is failing to understand what is self-evident to everyone else, or it is being oblivious to what is obvious to common people.

However common sense has another less common meaning. Common sense can mean that sense of things that emerges from the coordination and convergence of all our senses. We intuit that our senses are each different modes of access to a world common to all — a multi-sensory world which transcends any single sense. What we see, we can also hear, smell, taste, touch — and interact with.

If we experience life with all our senses, and account for the full experience instead of just what we see or hear, that gives us something much truer than a truth based only on reflecting on what we see or what we hear. We develop a common sense understanding triangulated, quadrangulated, sextangulated, myriadangulated, and endowed with parallactic depth.

I just read that intuition is the spiritual sense of touch, and that gnosis is the spiritual sense of hearing.

I think we can only know this is true if we can understand what is meant by this analogy.

And I think we can only know what is meant by this analogy if we exercise sensory common sense.

And with this, intuition and gnosis become intrinsic to a deeper common sense.

Ideologies prey on people whose primary experience of the world is spectatorial. Ideology is founded on hearsay and look-see, and absence of direct participation. They look out at a world of televised images seen from a distance. They hear or read reports about things that happen elsewhere and compare them to other things they have heard or read about.

Ideology projects a world of word and image that is consumed and thought about and talked about in a pre-formatted way. Repeatedly consuming these ideologically formatted images and reports, and performing the ideology’s approved actions, thoughts and feelings gradually reformats the consumer in conformity with the ideology. 

Ideologies render those caught up in their closed autonomous logics, numb and deaf to reality.

Is truth constructed?

Ideological truth is constructed.

Common sense truth, however, is instaurated in unceasing collaboration with the inexhaustible. 

WordPress, R.I.P.

WordPress has completed its long pivot and has finally fully transformed itself into a website design tool. It is no longer optimized for writing. It is designed to assemble media elements into engaging, immersive digital experiences, or something.

The upshot is I can no use it and absorb myself in my writing. The legacy text editor has been fully retired. The block editor is now non-optional, at least if you use the WordPress app. And the online editor is extremely broken. The block editor layout causes weird typos (for instance, I constantly hit underline when I mean to hit delete). When you tap on a word in a different text block, the whole thing lurches upward, and instead of the word you were trying to select, the word below it is selected. And it is now entirely impossible to cut multiple paragraphs. Everything conspires to distract and frustrate.

WordPress is no longer a tool I can use. Even right now, writing this little diatribe, I am having one problem after another. I can hardly get this out. It is depressing.

I loved WordPress.

I also loved Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

I loved MacOS, iOS and I loved Apple.

A new alienated generation of designers now dominates UX. One by one these alienated incompetents are destroying designs that I once loved and relied upon. These tools were part of me — extensions of my own being. My intuitive bond with these tools has been severed. I experience it as amputation. It is deeply personal. It is betrayal.

Alienated people cannot design intuitive systems, because alienated people do not even know what intuition is. To them intuition is just arbitrary mental habit, which can be retrained. With enough repetition and drill, just about anything can be made familiar, intuitive and true.

When one is fully alienated, this seems absolutely true, and, without any contrasting experience of intuition with which this alienation can be compared, it is impossible to know or even conceive otherwise. Where conception ends, imagination ends.

Things can be better. Things will be better. Whether we live to experience it, or die from alienation is the real question.

Intuition versus alienation

Intuition is direct response to experience, unmediated by language.

Confusingly, though, our most spontaneous utterances and immediate responses to language are also intuitive.

When we say “experience-near” this means using words that directly refer to intuited experience. We can use and understand experience-near language intuitively. We do not need to use words to help us use other words. We simply speak, and what we say means what we mean to convey.

Language becomes unintuitive when speaking or understanding requires long intermediating chains of language. We must speak to ourselves inwardly about our speech, and pick our words carefully, word by word. With each layer of meta-talk, the connection between word and experience grows more remote and attenuated. This is what is meant by “experience-distant.”

Destruction of intuition is alienation — from the world, from others, and from oneself. It begins with over-reliance on experience-distant language. Alienation is complete when the experience-distant language detaches from its alleged object and begins to refer only to itself.

In alienation, whatever one experiences is subjected to elaborate interpretive processing and explained in theoretical language. We psychoanalyze ourselves, explain our biological brain states, interrogate our power relations, theorize on how our social conditioning might be distorting our perceptions snd feelings, speculate how we might be perceived by others, and so on, before simply experiencing what we might otherwise experience. Our intuitions are diffused among many fragmentary notions, or redirected into one compulsive direction, away from one’s immediate or thinly mediated experience.

Same with actions. One no longer interacts directly and wordlessly with objects in ones environment. One no longer picks up a pen and writes, or picks up a knife and cuts. One must anticipate, set goals and plan before acting. One must recall directions and then follow them. One must ask what the next best move is, pick it, then execute it. And at each step one must document the move, to provide transparency. The more a person’s actions are of this kind, the less intuitive contact with the world one has. One’s intuitive connection is primarily with one’s own instruction set. There is no craft, just foresight and execution.

Same with speech and interactions among people. Speaking becomes a risky endeavor. People must carefully consider and select every word or gesture before using it. Words become dangerous things to be handled with thick gloves, carefully assembled and inspected unit by unit before any sentence is delivered. Beliefs are charged with extreme moral significance. Asserting the truth of some facts makes one a good person, where denying their truth, or wrongly asserting the truth of false opinions makes one a bad person. We must constantly reassure one another where we stand, and wherever possible demonstrate our true belief of true beliefs.

But personal beliefs are viewed as constructs — conventions acquired through habit, shaped by social conditioning. Beliefs should never be left to personal judgment, but rather determined by ethical experts who can calculate the effects of various beliefs upon society, and select beliefs capable of generating maximum justice for those who most need and deserve it. Bad beliefs are beliefs left to organic distortion or intuition, which, more likely than not, serve only one group or one person.

With sufficient degree and duration of alienation, a person can be made to lose all direct connection with self, with others, with reality beyond one’s alienated language.

And sadly, one cannot avoid alienation from the alienated. In alienated times, those with functioning intuitions must find one another, offer one another refuge, commune with one’s ancestors — and recommit to future generations beyond this human void.

The key is to develop experience-near language that does full justice to the wordless realities we intuit in our midst.

We intuit energies, tones, vibrations around us and emanating from others and concentrated in certain places and objects. What can we do with them, when we intuit them and speak of them in such nebulous language? Nothing. And that is why the alienated world approves of leaving them in such a wispy, flaky, woo-woo state. Belief in energies and vibes has very little pragmatic consequence.

But these realities of which we are unable to speak are the most consequential. They move mountains.

We do not know how to think and speak and share the most crucial realities of our lives. Our language is optimized to physics and technological manipulation. So we talk about our brains and hormones and social conditioning when what really concerns us are our minds, our hearts and our place in the world.

We have it all everted.

Things can and must be otherwise.

Against caremongers

Here’s the thing: Most people who care very intensely and noisily about this thing or that care much less about the object of their intense, noisy caring than 1) the activity of intensely, noisily caring, and 2) the fact they they are a good person who cares intensely about important things.

But it is possible to stop caring about caring and about being a sincere, good person.

“Oh no! Will this turn me into a cynical nihilist?” you might ask.

No, it will free you to figure out what you actually care about.

And that knowing what you actually, for real care about allows you to work for what you actually, for real care about, instead of being a loud, hyped-up, bullshit caremonger.

Of course, insincere, inauthentic people who prize sincerity and authenticity get pissed off if they suspect you can see direct through them. So, unless there is a good reason to, don’t confront them. But don’t play along, either. Armor yourself with etiquette.


Etiquette is not fake. Etiquette is formal.

Etiquette is not faking how you feel. It conceals how you feel by replacing self-expressive speech and action with proper speech and action.

Etiquette keeps the social peace by keeping our inner selves inward and our outer selves inoffensive.

Anyone who tries to pry under etiquette, demanding access to our real selves deserves to be politely rebuffed. That is impolite.

Anyone who ignores the rebuffing, and persists in prying and pushing and otherwise fucking around with our real selves and our real beliefs and our real values, deserves to be impolitely rebuffed. Because that is disrespectful.

And if that does not work — if they refuse to desist — they deserve to be resisted forcefully.


So, if you want to be good, just do the right thing, and leave your feelings out of it. Do the right thing politely until you cannot be polite, anymore.

Few people deserve intimacy, and you alone are the judge of that.

Reserve your authenticity for people who aspire to authentic authenticity.

Authenticity is for the authentic.

Mutuality is for the mutual.

Equality is for the equal.

Have a good day.