Manifesto

PSYBERTRON’S MANIFESTO

This page retains links to the origins of this blogging project back in 2001, and is organized in three parts:

  • Who is Psybertron?
  • What is Psybertron’s Worldview generally?
  • What is Psybertron’s Agenda specifically?

WHO?

Ian Glendinning (Psybertron)’s profile and contact details here.
(2001 vintage page, with only Resume content updated.)

[Personal “Thought Journey” related to Biographical Outline – based on Pirsig conference paper.]

WORLDVIEW?

Generally, what is Psybertron’s personal worldview:

From a Christian / Anglican cultural tradition, even Sunday-school as a young boy, but have always been an atheist – never seen a god as anything other than metaphorical. As a household we’ve never had any religious connections, to the point that our younger son noted when picking up on biblical parables as a teenager at school, we didn’t even have a bible in the house. In these days of “new-atheism” I’ve had to refine what I mean by being an atheist.

  • I’m not agnostic.
    Too important a question.
  • I’m not anti-theist.
    Theology is an important aspect of metaphysics, and anyway, theists are human too.
  • I’m a non-theist.
    The world as I see it doesn’t need a personal, omniscient, omnipotent, causal agent of a god to explain how it works, even though it does need a sound basis for ethical decisions and moral living; the Why? and How? aspects of this blogging project.

Educated in science & technology, I’m an engineer – so scientific principles founded in physics are pretty fundamental to that. But engineering (using ingenuity to make things happen) is about people and human nature too, and applies all the way from individual decision-making, through all levels of human group activity up to the highest levels of governance.  I’ve consciously been a humanist since about 1980, when a (humanist) mentor at work pointed out that a humanist was what I was. I had a humanist wedding in 1981, at which that mentor was a guest and a few years later I went to his humanist funeral. I’ve consider myself a humanist ever since I became aware, but it never needed to be a public issue until the 21st century rise of the new-atheism vs religious-fundamentalism wars. I don’t define myself by what I’m against, I define myself by what I’m for.

  • I’m a Rationalist, Humanist, Atheist.
    Beyond that I don’t see science having a monopoly on rationality, that would be scientism or scientific fundamentalism, disingenuous lip-service to an objectivist fetish that pervades not only science itself but also social, political and economic pseudosciences.

So, more specific than mere “tolerance” is respect for fellow humans and the cosmos around us. Mockery and insults are not a general human right, other than by exception, from a self-evident starting position of respect and mutual understanding or a self-evident role as court-jester. Critical thinking doesn’t mean all debate and argument should be based on disagreement. Science demands that error is discovered and communicated without bias, but not all human activity is scientific. Totally free communication may be considered a right, but is not always best, and war, even rhetorical metaphorical verbal warfare, is rarely the whole answer.

Balanced concensus building is at least as important as undermining or winning any argument.

AGENDA?

Specifically, what is the Psybertron Agenda?

The Psybertron blogging project carries my own evolving agenda independent of any shared agendas with other interest groups.

[Current membership of Intellectual / Political / Rationalist / Atheist / Humanist groups.]

(Note the words immediately below from the original 2001 Psybertron Manifesto are pretty dense & pompous and simply preserved for interest. An alternative version exists in my profile on the Global Circle – Bringing Wisdom to Life pages, also quoted below.)

2001 “Manifesto”

In summary: Real human enterprises succeed or fail through subjective, chaotic and seemingly irrational behaviour. Management gurus have been emphasising this whilst proclaiming revolution, paradigm shifts and the like, ever since management mistook itself for a science. Enterprise information models, which continue to rely solely on positivist objective rationale and logic of mis-applied science, conspire to misinform – “cut their own throats with the Catch-22 of Occam’s razor”. What pragmatic models can accommodate the evolutionary psychology needed to recognise the true value of knowledge in organisations and society generally, without succumbing to the traps of deterministic causation or the dubious traits of “evopsych” ?

(See also footnote on every page. Sadly now defunct due to several changes of blog theme.)

2012 Global Circle Introduction:

I am a Mechanical Engineer and Manager of over 35 years experience starting in aerospace and more recently in energy process and systems industries around the world. My interest in Wisdom has evolved from studying governance and organisational behaviour in my Masters Degree some 25 years ago and has been an active on-line passion for almost 15 now.

My original blog www.psybertron.org “What, why and how do we know?” is wide-ranging across not only philosophical and historical reading, but my own topical interests across current affairs and politics, even sport and music. Because of the wide-ranging, dis-organised and evolving content, the common thread of knowledge modelling and decision making is not necessarily apparent to the casual reader.

In an attempt to marshal my agenda into concerted action in the last few years, I started a collaborative blog-cum-forum “Joining Dots and Weaving Threads” linking up common issues with those of many other wisdom practitioners with whom I had been fortunate to cross paths. In many ways The Global Circle, initiated by one of those practitioners, Nick Maxwell, evolved from his earlier “Friends of Wisdom” campaign to promote active wisdom, fulfils exactly the same agenda, so I am more than happy to throw in my lot with The Global Circle – Bringing Wisdom to Life.

My own position and agenda are as follows:

Applied wisdom is more than objective knowledge.

Humanity and the planet (and the cosmos) represent the most complex system imaginable, and the processes deciding the course of events in that system (governance, or literally “cybernetics”) are not reducible to objective causal networks, since “values” (moral, ethical and aesthetic) must be applied in practice at any number of emergent levels in that system. Globalisation of activities in that world system in general, and in particular in ubiquitous, instant communications, exaggerates the illusion that we know more about the whole system, and that knowing more, we are in control of more, and in a better position to justify and validate behaviour and decisions based on that knowledge.

This “scientistic” delusion, that we simply need to take a totally objective, scientifically rational view of the whole world is compounded by the fact the even in science itself, this delusion is practically neurotic. The denial of values, and the insistence that even justification of science policy (and budgets) are themselves science. This defensive denial of non-scientific values is nowhere more obvious than in recent Science vs Religion wars, but this is simply the latest symptom of the neurosis.

I am an Atheist and Humanist, but argue against misguided new-atheist humanists and overly scientistic scientists and science media.

I am a Rationalist, Empiricist and a Pragmatist, more specifically a Radical Empiricist, recognising an important distinction between pure experience, and experience interpreted by our cultural, intellectual and linguistic context. The objective, repeatable, falsifiable empiricism of science is but one important component of the latter context.

Our Values are manifest in our Aims, and our Aims cannot be reduced to a mere component of the system, but apply at any level where the Value emerges. Aim Oriented Empiricism is a good extension to the philosophy of science itself, but it is good that neither I nor The Global Circle pins its colours to the mast of any one specific “ism”.

I love the ironic allusion to The Vienna Circle in the name, in the same way that Wittgenstein is my favourite comedian !

7 thoughts on “Manifesto”

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  4. You’re falling for the big lie of duality. The grand delusion of western culture is that it invented realistic ethics. Scientism is a straw-man, the fear of which drives people like you into paralyzed bemusement.

    The ills of humanity are NOT a cosmic-sized complexity. They can all be at least partially and provisionally solved, if only people with knowledge like yours would stop making excuses about “wisdom”, put your hands on the wheels of society, and make some changes!!!

  5. I’m not falling for the “lie of duality” – quite the contrary. I’m highlighting that there are important alternatives.

    Hopefully not “making excuses” about Wisdom – trying to point out it’s more than any kind of materialist, objective, duality – and in doing so find opportunities to influence actual political decisions and action. Encouraging comment. Thanks.

    Worth some dialogue if you’re interested. Those things (climate change, hunger, pestilence, war) are not constructs – OUR MODELS OF THEM are constructs. There are better models.

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