Looking at Daniel Dennett’s Book (2017) “From Bacteria To Bach and Back” (Part 8 of 20)

0067 The year, 1935 AD, stands in the interim between the “First World War” and the “Second World War”.

Remember, these terms are modern labels for two brief historical periods.

Jacques Maritain publishes his book in the interim.  He lives in France, where Christendom faces an apparently mortal enemy: Modernity.

0068 Modernity has modern science in its arsenal.  Christendom has… um… a newly revived Thomism, apparently ill-suited for the intellectual fashions coming from allegedly “scientific” movements, such as Darwinism, Marxism, Saussure’s linguistics, Husserl’s phenomenology, quantum physics, and so on.  Catholic intellectuals in Paris, a former epicenter of medieval scholasticism, ask, “What is the nature of science?”

Maritain’s answer may be diagrammed according to the triadic structure of judgment.  A judgment contains three interlocking elements: relationwhat is and what ought to be.  A judgment is a relation between what is and what ought to be.  When each element is assigned one of Peirce’s categories, then the judgment becomes actionable.  Actionable judgments unfold into category-based nested forms.

0069 Here is a picture of the Positivist’s judgment.

0070 A positivist intellect (relation) brings a noumenon […and…] its phenomena (what is) into relation with an empirio-schematic judgment (what ought to be).

0071 Note that two judgments are entangled.  The empirio-schematic judgment is embedded within the Positivist’s judgment.  The empirio-schematic judgment is what ought to be.  It is also imbued with the category of secondness, the realm of actuality.  To the scientist, a model is more real than its supporting observations and measurements.  How so?  One may make predictions about future observations and measurements based on the model.

0072 Also note that what is has a hylomorphic structure, even though it belongs to the category of firstness, the realm of possibility.  Aristotle presents an exemplary hylomorphe: matter [substantiates] form.  This hylomorphe fits Peirce’s category of secondness.  Secondness consists in two real contiguous elements.  For Aristotle’s hylomorphe, the real elements are matter and form.  The contiguity is labeled “substance”.  For clear nomenclature, I place the contiguity in brackets.

In the above figure, the substance labeled “…and…” is far more complicated than it appears.  The full hylomorphe is a noumenon [cannot be objectified as] its phenomena.  […And…] is short for […cannot be objectified as…].

Perhaps, it will be no surprise that the noumenon associates to Dennett’s term, “manifest image”.

0073 Dennett’s scientific image is located in what ought to be for the Positivist’s judgment.  Here is a picture of the empirio-schematic judgment.

0074 How do diagrams of the Positivist’s and empirio-schematic judgment illuminate Dennett’s subliminal… or is it sublime?… defense of the Positivist’s judgment?

To start, I wonder, “What elements associate to the manifest image and to the scientific image?”

Well, obviously, the manifest image and the noumenon go together.

The scientific image matches mathematical and mechanical models.

0075 Here is a result of the substitutions.

0076 Ah, the manifest image is already proscribed by the rule of the positivist intellect.  The manifest image is not the thing itself.  It is a sensation2a, a phantasm2b or a judgment2c concerning the thing itself.  The manifest image calls to mind the actualities within the scholastic interscope about what is going on in an individual’s mind.

Plus, the scientific image is constructed from observations of phenomena that cannot fully objectify the manifest image… er… our mind’s response to a noumenon, a thing itself.

0077 Here is a comparison of what is for the standard version and for the adjusted version of the Positivist’s judgment.

0078 What does this imply?

Dennett’s defense of the Positivist’s judgment is neither subliminal nor sublime.  It is subtle, in precisely the way that philosophers employ subtlety.  The fact that the phenomena of neural synapses and (I will get to this later) cultural memessupport the manifest image as a multifaceted evolutionary adaptation (that may be modeled using neuronal and cultural Darwinian paradigms) implies that the manifest image may be dispensed with, because it is an user-illusion of the scientific image.

Does this tell me that the noumenon, the thing itself, is what humans are conscious of?

Or is the noumenon what humans adapt to according to neuronal and cultural Darwinian paradigms?

0079 My user-illusion is an adaptation, as substantial as a dog’s fierce jaws and a cat’s sharp claws.  It cannot be dispensed with, lest I die.

In the face of subtle distinctions between the noumenon and the manifest image and between the manifest image and the scientific image, the betting man would place his money on the manifest image, as that which will endure… er… survive, rather than the scientific image.  Dennett argues against this bet, but he cannot speak directly, because his scientific discussion supports the betting man’s conclusion.

0080 If our consciousness of species impressa2a and species expressa2b is an adaptation, then how is the proposed scientific accounting of our impressions2a and perceptions2b supposed to make them more adaptive?  And if Dennett’s argument succeeds, and a scientific image based on Darwin’s paradigm overlays our feelings2a and phantasms2b, then what about what humans think?

0081 The long-debated scholastic picture of the way humans think cannot be lightly discarded.

Only a subtle argument will suffice. 


Looking at Daniel Dennett’s Book (2017) “From Bacteria To Bach and Back” (Part 17 of 20)

0174 When Dennett says that words are great examples of memes, he considers only spoken words.  He does not suspect that language (that is, grammar) evolves in the milieu of hand talk.  He knows that, today, all civilizations practice speech-alone talk.  Plus, his reading audience is civilized.

Consequently, Dennett’s claim that words play a role in cultural evolution carries an ironic overtone.  His assertion is much larger that he supposes.  In southern Mesopotamia, speech-alone is first realized by the Ubaid culture.

(This is discussed in The First Singularity and Its Fairy Tale Trace, as well as An Archaeology of the Fall, by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.)

Outside of southern Mesopotamia, early civilizations are potentiated by the adoption of speech-alone talk.  After exposure to a speech-alone talking culture, hand-speech talking cultures drop the hand-component of their hand-speech talk. Mimesis is key.  Speech-alone talks spreads from a single site to the entire world.

0175 The different semiotic qualities of hand talk and speech-alone talk play a key role in human evolutionHuman evolution comes with a twist.  I label that twist, “the first singularity”.

The first singularity illustrates Dennett’s key point.  Speech-alone talk offers affordances that hand-talk lacks.  The consequences are obvious.  Cultures practicing speech-alone talk exhibit greater wealth and power than cultures practicing hand-speech talk.

Yes, the advantages are obvious.

The dangers are hidden.

0176 I wonder.

Is one of the main tasks of postmodern philosophers, such as Dennett, to reveal the dangers inherent to speech-alone talk?  Or, is their main task to conceal them?

Indeed, Dennett’s postmodern philosophical approach distracts me from the manifest image of the scholastic interscope of how humans think and substitutes a scientific image of memes replicating and being selected through cultural evolution.

This is very similar to how I got the dead cat out of Daisy’s mouth, by offering one of her favorite treats as a substitute.

0177 Has the author come to a judgment2c?

0178 The species impressa intelligibilis2c, the universal aspect a content-level species impressa2a, corresponds to what is2c.

According to Dennett, the meme is a basic unit of culture, a word-like being, carrying semantic information, and offering ‘something’ that makes a difference.  The meme is the source of behavioral phenomena observed and measured by social scientists, who then build models, using the specialized languages of psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics and so on.

0179 The species expressa intelligibilis2c, the intelligible aspect of a situation-level species expressa2b, corresponds to what ought to be.

The meme offers models neglected by social scientists.  The meme offers models couched in the disciplinary language of the biological sciences.  Can a meme be accounted for by way of a Darwinian model of descent with modification, in the normal context of cultural selection?  Yes, a meme is a replicator that survives only because it replicates.  Therefore, the differential replication of memes offers a scientific image for cultural evolution.

0180 The relation between what is and what ought to be passes from biological evolution (“Bacteria”) to the pinnacle of human creative engineering (“Bach”) and back to cultural evolution (“and Back”).

0146 Here is a picture.

0181 If this judgment serves as a sign-vehicle for an interventional sign, then the resulting sign-object is a scientific account of the evolution of human brains (SOi).

Part III of Dennett’s book is titled, “Turning Our Minds Inside Out”.

Inside is the noumenon, the thing itself, the human mind.

Outside is a scientific model of a brain, the observable and measurable conjurer of the thing itself.

Or do I have that backwards?

Does the mind conjure the brain?

Or does the brain conjure the mind?

0182 Here is a picture of Dennett’s work as a meme.


Looking at Daniel Dennett’s Book (2017) “From Bacteria To Bach and Back” (Part 20 of 20)

0196 Razie Mah offers three masterworks on human evolution.

The Human Niche concerns the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

An Archaeology of the Fall dramatizes the first singularity, the transition from the Lebenswelt that we evolved in to our current Lebenswelt.

How To Define The Word “Religion” concerns our current Lebenswelt.

These works sustain this examination of Dennett’s book.

0197 In these blogs, the term, “meme”, is technically defined using the scholastic interscope for how humans think.  This interscope is also in play in Razie Mah’s blog for October 2023, Looking at John Deely’s Book (2010) “Semiotic Animal”.  A “meme” corresponds to a species impressa2a with a hylomorphic structure whereby the sign-object of an interventional sign substantiates a sign-vehicle for a specificative sign.

0198 According to Dennett, a spoken word is a good example of a meme.

Notably, our current Lebenswelt must face the question, asking, “What is the nature of spoken words?”


Spoken words facilitate explicit abstraction, while hand-talk words allow only implicit abstraction.  We innately expect that spoken words image and point to their referents.  But, they do not.  Symbols are natural signs whose sign-objects are defined by convention, habit, law, tradition and so on.  Yet, no hand-talk language has words that can picture or indicate these terms.  “Convention”, “habit”, “law” and “tradition” label explicit abstractions that cannot be articulated using hand talk.  They may exist, but cannot be named, while using hand talk.

0199 Recall that actualities2 are encountered.

Such actualities2 are understood by ascertaining an appropriate normal context3 and potential1.

0200 How To Define The Word “Religion” applies these lessons to a familiar and contentious term.  This examination of Dennett’s book applies these lessons to the word, “meme”.

Here is a picture.

0201 The message?  The meme exemplifies cultural evolution.

The presence?  The meme embodies neural selection.

The meaning?  A scientific image of the word, “meme”, should overlay what is going on in my mind, that is, the manifest image.  My consciousness is an user-end illusion produced by the message and the presence of cultural and neural selection.

0202 My thanks to the author.  This well-documented work conveys that impression that inquiry into memes may account for the evolution of the human mind.  Whether this impression is productive or unproductive depends on how one defines the word, “meme”.


Information on the Series: Phenomenology and the Positivist Intellect

In the Fall of 2021, the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly publishes three essays on phenomenology.  Each author asks, “Why does phenomenology exclude other philosophical traditions, such as Thomism, when they share similar concerns?”  The essays are not only remarkable for what they say, they are also remarkable for what they do not say.  None mention natural science.

Of course, this lacunae demands exploration.  Edmund Husserl (1856-1938 AD) lives in the heyday of modern science.  He calls for a “return to the noumenon”.  He names his method, “phenomenological reduction”.  So, phenomenology concerns the noumenon and its phenomena.

The series on empirio-schematics serves as a resource.  The noumenon and its phenomena appear in the Positivist’s judgment, initially derived in Comments on Jacques Maritain’s Book (1935) Natural Philosophy.

Contributions to this series are listed below, in order of production.  Most are available at smashwords and other electronic book vendors.  Those that appear on the blog at www.raziemah.com are noted, along with dates.

Reverie on Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenological Reductions”    (e-article, note on blog September 2021)

Comments on Joseph Trabbic’s Essay (2021) “Jean-Luc Marion and … First Philosophy”   (e-article, note on blog October 2021 

Comments on Richard Colledge’s Essay (2021) “Thomism and Contemporary Phenomenology”   (e-article, note on blog October 2021)

Comments on Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science”.    (e-article, note on blog March 2022)

Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research”      (blog only, www.raziemah.com, April 2022)


Looking at Daniel Estulin’s Book (2021) “2045 Global Projects at War” (Part 1 of 5)

0001 Daniel Estulin holds a notable resume.  He is a doctor of conceptual intelligence and a foreign policy advisor to sovereign states in Latin America and Eurasia.  He has authored many books, and hosted a Spanish language TV show on RT (formerly, Russia Today).  The subtitle of the book is “Tectonic Processes of Global Transformation”.

This look is a teaser for a more extensive examination, Comments on Daniel Estulin’s Book (2021) “2045 Global Projects At War”, by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

0002 Estulin formulates the concept of global project and applies it to a number of civilizations, nations and international cabals.  His approach is intuitive and relies on his considerable experience and knowledge.  Estulin’s book is not structured in a manner that the reader learns a particular technique.  Consequently, the above-mentioned comments add value.  Perhaps, there is a method to Estulin’s approach.

0003 Certainly, the concept of global project is valuable, especially when applied, by Estulin, to the world in the present day.  Estulin is so well informed that he exercises the concept without trouble.  Does he want the rest of us to wield this tool without his years of experience, trials and reflection?

I don’t know.

0003 All I know is that humans tend to think in the ways of purely relational structures, often without realizing that fact.  So, I read Estulin’s text with two purely relational structures in mind, the Greimas square and the category-based nested form.

I start with a Greimas square and focus on the key word of “capitalism”.  A quick introduction to the Greimas square may be found in the other blog for this month (at www.raziemah.com for January 2023).

0004 Here is the result.

Figure 01

0005 The four elements are clarified by the following statements.

A is the focal term.  A is also the social head.  A goes with economics.

B contrasts with A.  B is also the social body.  B goes with politics.

C contradicts B and complements A.  C is capital.  Capital goes with information, intelligence and conspiracy system.  Anyone who gets an investment newsletter appreciates this.  The stuff of investment letters scale up when considering prices, markets and monetary policies.  C is what the social head fixates on.  C functions as a mind-independent being.  C is what the social head thinks about.

D contrasts with C, contradicts A and complements B.  D is communion.  Communion (D) is the object that brings us together.  Communion (D) is not a mind-independent being, even though it appears to be.  It (D) is mind-dependent, in the same way that a stomach and lungs are mind dependent.  We don’t just want to eat or breath.  We want to eat and breathe well.  Communion (D) is aesthetic, while economics (A), politics (B) and conspiracy system (C) are calculating.


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 1 of 18)

0001 Three faculty at the Universidad Santo Tomas, Columbia, publish an article with the title, “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in Human and Social Sciences Research”, in the journal, Civilizar: Cienceas Sociales y Humanas(volume 20(38), 2020, 137 to 146, DOI: https//doi.org/10.22518/jour.ccsh./2020.1a10).  I thank the authors for presenting in English.

0002 In this series of blogs, the above article serves as a testing ground for four commentaries on phenomenology, contemporary Thomism and science.  The commentaries, available at smashwords and other electronic e-book vendors, follow.

Reverie on Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenological Reductions”

Comments on Joseph Trabbic’s Essay (2021) “Jean-Luc Marion and … First Philosophy”

Comments on Richard Colledge’s Essay (2021) “Thomism and Contemporary Phenomenology”

Comments on Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science”

0003 Testing ground?

These commentaries contain particular category-based nested forms, interscopes and judgments, constructed from (or in reverie to) the essay and book under consideration.  These synthetic structures are abductions, constructed on Peircean frames.

So, what to do with a guess?

Test it.


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 2 of 18)

0004 My aim is to test the diagrams and arguments developed in four commentaries on phenomenology.

Perez Vargas, Nieto Bravo and Santamaria Rodriguez offer a suitable work.  Their article is composed of five sections, starting with an introduction (Part 1) and ending with a conclusion (Part 5).  The three central parts address three questions.

How are phenomenology and hermeneutics used in research (Part 2)?

How does phenomenology provide an epistemological setting for research (Part 3)?

How does hermeneutics provide an epistemological setting for research (Part 4)?

0005 Yes, here is a testing ground for the commentaries listed in the previous blog.


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 3 of 18)

0006 Test one.

In the conclusion (Part 5), the unspoken agenda of the authors becomes apparent.

Why are hermeneutics neglected in phenomenological inquiry?

0007 The authors offer several good reasons for why hermeneutics should be employed.

First, in history, Husserl’s project differentiates out of nineteenth century hermeneutic traditions.  Both refuse to accept the triumph of positivism.  So, if these two traditions have common ancestry, then why are they apparently not compatible?

Second, hermeneutics situates texts, in the same way that a reader situates an author’s writing.  So, hermeneutics situate the same phenomena as phenomenology.

Third, hermeneutic practices arise out of the potential of interpretation.  Phenomenological reductions arise out of the potential of identifying what the noumenon must be.  Why are these not complementary processes?

0008 An answer starts with the Positivist’s judgment, initially diagrammed in Comments on Jacques Maritain’s Book (1935) Natural Philosophy.  Judgment has a triadic structure consisting of three elements: relationwhat is and what ought to be.  When these elements are assigned to Peirce’s categories, the judgment becomes actionable.

0009 The relation is a positivist intellect, who has a rule, saying, “Metaphysics is not allowed.”  This relation belongs to thirdness, the realm of normal contexts.

What ought to be is an empirio-schematic judgment, consisting of a disciplinary language (relation), mathematical and mechanical models (what ought to be) and observations and measurements (what is).  What ought to be belongs to secondness, the realm of actuality.

What is is a dyad, consisting of two contiguous elements.  The elements are a noumenon, the thing itself, and its phenomena, its observable and measurable facets.  The contiguity expresses a logical necessity.  In natural science, a noumenon cannot be reduced to its phenomena.  No arrangements of phenomena fully objectify their noumenon.  I place the contiguity in brackets.  A noumenon [cannot be objectified as] its phenomena.

0010 Here is a picture of the Positivist’s judgment.

Figure 01

This figure does not answer test one completely.  But, it is a start.


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 4 of 18)

0011 The first test posed by the authors concerns the apparent lack of compatibility between hermeneutics and phenomenology.

The lack is explained by the rule of the positivist intellect, saying, “No metaphysics.”

0012 Both phenomenology and hermeneutics are capable of situating the Positivist’s judgment.

However, hermeneutics arises from interpretation, which is necessarily metaphysical.  Interpretation is not physics.

0013 Can the same be said for phenomenology?

Phenomenological reduction self-identifies as not metaphysical, even as it elucidates what the noumenon ought to be.

0014 The positivist intellect’s rule gives permission to phenomenology, but not to hermeneutics.

Phenomenology, not hermeneutics, situates the Positivist’s judgment.

This answer is portrayed in Reverie on Mark Spencer’s Essay (2021) “The Many Phenomenological Reductions”.


Looking at John Perez Vargas, Johan Nieto Bravo and Juan Santamaria Rodriguez’s Essay (2020) “Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in… Social Sciences Research” (Part 5 of 18)

0015 Test two.

What is the latent dilemma between phenomenology and hermeneutics?

Both phenomenology and hermeneutics are able to situate the Positivist’s judgment.  However, since the rule of the positivist intellect disallows metaphysics, only phenomenology is allowed to situate scientific discourse.  Hermeneutics is programmatically excluded.

0016 How am I to diagram this answer?

First, the Positivist’s judgment unfolds into a content-level nested form, according to the categorical assignments of the elements.  Here is a picture.

Figure 02

0017 According to Comments on Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science”, another latent problem stands between science and phenomenology.  Practicing scientists are perfectly happy to work within this content level, as the mechanical philosophers of the 17th century intend.  Hands-on natural scientists3a build models2a of observations2a of phenomena1a.  They take the noumenon1a for granted.

But, by the 20th century, visionary scientists lobby to situate the Positivist’s judgment with a glorified unfolding of the empirio-schematic judgment.

Edward Husserl (1859-1938) counters visionary scientists with phenomenology.  Husserl’s project3b brings the actuality of phenomenological reduction2b into relation of the possibilities inherent in a return to the noumenon1b.

0018 Here is a diagram of the resulting two-level interscope.  The situation-level nested form virtually situates (and emerges from) the content-level nested form.

Figure 03