Book projects – Intuitive Technology: Appendix A: Glossary of terms

This is not a formal glossary of definitions: more a list of useful descriptions. One of the key concepts of this book is that attempts to define terms in any absolute sense are more often a hindrance than a help in understanding skills. Terms necessarily change their meaning according to personal experience: definitions change as the level of skill changes. At the same time, we do need to have some kind of handle on the concepts we use to describe things: hence the following summaries of various terms used throughout this book.

Words shown in italics are cross-references to terms described elsewhere in the glossary.

analysis, analytic mode
The mode of reasoning and interpretation that uses formal concepts of definition and logic — “this is true, therefore that is also true” — to determine truth in given circumstances. It uses a model which assumes that the whole can be always defined objectively in terms of its parts — cut into ever smaller segments — and that all events are linked repeatably by definable and predictable cause/effect chains; it emphasises the explicit content of events rather than their context. (This mode is often, if erroneously, considered to be the only mode of scientific investigation).
In the discussion of the skills-learning process, the personal or subjective factors underlying the choice of a method for resolving a task. The inner-world component of skills, as opposed to the outer-world components made up by the objective mechanics of the skill. (The approaches can also be understood as the mechanics of the mind — though not in the behaviourist sense used by scientism).
cause/effect chain
A recurring pattern of events in time is often described in terms of chains of cause and effect: events earlier in the chain are considered to be causes, those later are considered to be effects. This concept assumes that time and all other factors are linear and predictable (but see infinite regress).
Apparent disorder; more accurately, a state of unpredictability of events. The term also applies to a specific branch of mathematics relating to non-linear systems and other infinitely complex relationships — in other words dealing with the total field rather than arbitrarily selected sub-systems.
Here used to mean an event of any kind, and especially its content, isolated out from the total field by the act of perception: in other words ‘coincidence’ in its literal or scientific sense (‘co-incidence’) rather than the colloquial abuse of the term. The meaning we derive from a coincidence depends on our interpretation of both its content and its context: this is strongly biased by our choice of analytic or intuitive mode for interpretation.
content (of event)
That which is perceived as happening in an event — usually considered to be the objective component of the event.
context (of event)
The apparent segment, subjectively selected, of the total field immediately surrounding an event.
Certainty over the performance of events, usually considered as being derived from total analytic knowledge of the context of events. Unattainable in practice, due to the paradox of infinite regress of cause/effect chains.
Means of achieving a degree of certainty over the performance of events by using both intuitive and analytic knowledge of the total field to direct the choice of methods applied to tasks. Reliability necessarily varies according to subjective factors — hence the term ‘mastery’.
Process of ‘out-leading’ performance of tasks from a person, through encouraging them to arrive at their own methods by resolving the mechanics of the task with their own personal approaches to it. The educator’s own methods for resolving the task are used as a starting-point for personal discovery, rather than the pseudo-objective mimicry used in training.
Something we perceive as happening.
A belief about probable performance of events, it differs from theory or law in that it is known to be tentative rather than certain. No logical interpretation of events can be drawn without some type of hypothesis; some kind of model must be used to provide the hypothesis with its initial base of assumptions.
Used here in its literal sense of ‘image-inary’, or to indicate something existing in personal or subjective reality and not yet carried through into objective reality (or cannot be expressed in terms of ordinary reality, as in ‘imaginary numbers’ in mathematics).
infinite regress
In the total field, all cause/effect chains extend to infinity, with every cause being at the effect of other causes within the total network. No absolute analytic proof is possible, as all events are infinitely sensitive to initial conditions; ‘ultimate forces’ (magnetism and gravitation) and ‘absolute constants’ (Avogadro’s Number, pi) are defined by circular self-reference on the lines of “they are what they are”. For practical purposes we attempt to circumvent infinite regress by placing arbitrary subjectively-chosen restrictions on which cause/effect chains are to be considered relevant to a given event; the impact of invalid choices leads to the paradox we call Murphy’s Law.
intuition, intuitive mode
(Like magic, intuition is deliberately undefined, and has many different meanings, varying according to context. In general, where the context is not given explicitly in the text, the sense is roughly as follows:) The mode of interpretation that uses non-logical pattern-matching to select out useful information subjectively from the total field without necessity for explicit cause/effect chains. It assumes that all parts of the whole are inextricably interlinked, and that no actual definitions are possible: segments of the field can at best be circumscribed or loosely bounded by descriptions. Its tendency is towards an inclusive holistic view. Meaning is perceived directly, rather than indirectly through logical relationships, and is dependent on the implicit context of events as much as on their content.
A term normally used in technology for an extreme form of theory that claims absolute predictability of cause and effect, as presented in formal scientific statements such as Newton’s Laws of Gravitation. Practical experience indicates that the only true law is that there are no absolute laws, since all events are infinitely interlinked in the total field, and all cause/effect chains are subject to infinite regress. In practice, ‘laws’ are best understood as useful guidelines, describing probable performance to a high, but never absolute, degree of certainty.
literal meaning (of a word)
The meaning of a word or phrase ‘by letter’, as opposed to colloquial usage. This is the meaning derived by breaking a word down into its component parts from the source language (usually Latin) and reconstructing the word using the common meaning of the root and its prefixes and suffixes. In colloquial usage ‘education’, for example, is the formalised taking-in of information; whereas the literal meaning of education, from ‘ex-ducare’, is ‘out-leading’ — entirely the opposite process.
A term that, intentionally, is left undefined, allowing its use as a ‘place-holder’ whose meaning depends on context rather than definition. If in doubt, try substituting any of the following: insight, illusion, joy, surprise, wisdom, the unexplainable, creating something from nothing — or choose your own meaning according to the context.
In the discussion of the skills-learning process, the common or objective factors underlying the choice of a method for resolving a task. The outer-world component of skills, as opposed to the inner-world components made up by the subjective approaches to the skill. In scientism, the mechanics affecting a task are often ignored, as they are considered to be implicit in the method.
A means of acting on the world; in the discussion of the skills-learning process, a method is a sequence or pattern of actions used to perform a task. The choice of method, and its efficiency, are both necessarily influenced by subjective factors — the personal approaches to the skill — as well as by the objective factors or mechanics of the task at hand. (See also training and education).
A framework or generalised schema used to direct intuitive interpretation of the performance of events into a specific area of the total field. This is the intuitive mode’s equivalent of hypothesis, without which it cannot usefully interpret events. All analytic concepts of theory and law are ultimately dependent on intuitively-selected models of reality.
Murphy’s Law
Defined as “If something can go wrong, it probably will”, it is used to remind us that all interactions of events, being part of the total field, necessarily include an element of uncertainty, thus negating any ultimate form of control. It is important to understand this as a statement of paradox — especially in the self-reflecting version, “If Murphy’s Law can go wrong it probably will” — rather than the conventional sense of law as used in scientism.
Excessive dependence on the intuitive mode in interpreting and operating in reality; the intuitive counterpart to scientism.
objective (component of events)
Short-hand term for context-free content of events, in other words that which would be perceived identically by all observers if freed from subjective bias. In materialist worldviews such as scientism, objective is equated with ‘material’ or ‘physical’: but any attempt to prove that this ‘objectivity’ is absolute moves rapidly into infinite regress.
State of (apparent) predictability of events; also specifically applied to a state of logical consistency in the performance of events.
A contradictory statement in logic, typically including two or more mutually exclusive elements; also used here to indicate a situation not resolvable by logic, such as theinfinite regress of the total field. Paradoxes can only be resolved by subjective choices according to context, using the intuitive mode; the logic-dependent scientism of ‘applied science’ can only resolve paradoxes by denying that they exist, with results that are often unfortunate.
real, reality
The colloquial usage equates ‘real’ with ‘common’ or ‘concrete’ (or, as in scientism, ‘material’): this is objective reality, as opposed to the equally-valid though more elusive — and, by definition, undefinable — subjective reality of the imaginary world. Both types of reality are considered ‘real’ — often interchangeably — in this book.
reason, reasonable, reasoning
Another confusing term whose meaning tends to vary according to context: ‘reason’ tends to be equated with the rigid, restricted and restrictive formal logic of scientism; ‘reasonable’ relates more to a loose (though generally acceptable) value judgement used as the basis for an hypothesis; whilst ‘reasoning’ is vaguely synonymous with balanced use of intuitive and analytic modes — true science rather than scientism.
Literally ‘knowledge’, science is the synthesis of the systematic study of every aspect of our experience of reality, especially objective reality, usually with the aim of reducing it to a logically-consistent system of order (though modern science accepts many paradoxes, if often with evident discomfort). The public image of science’s worldview is generally, though incorrectly, that of scientism; in practice, the development of science depends extensively on the intuitive mode as well as analysis.
Excessive dependence on the analytic mode in interpreting and operating in reality; the analytic counterpart to newage. The worldview most often associated with ‘applied science’, it contends that reality can only be defined in terms of a consistent ordering of physically-describable causal connections: theory, it assumes, must precede practice, with the intuitive mode to be rigorously excluded. Apparently common sense, but in practice erroneous, its claim of absolute proof of its worldview is based on a largely outdated materialistic concept of science, and founders on paradoxes such as infinite regress.
The ability to create and use appropriate methods to resolve tasks, it requires personal integration and knowledge of both objective and subjective components of the situation in order to produce results reliably and efficiently.
statistics, statistical proof
Estimates of probability of performance, based on studies of previous events, used to suggest an hypothesis for a course of action to take in a given apparently similar event. Statistical statements are routinely mistaken for statements of certainty (statistical ‘proof’): high probability is equated with absolute repeatability, low probability with zero. For reliability, statistical studies must be based on ‘sets’ of large numbers of repeatable events; but because of infinite regress, no events ever repeat exactly. In reality we are therefore always dealing with a ‘set’ of one, for which statistical estimates of probability may often be more of a hindrance than a help.
subjective (component of events)
The arbitrary selection by the observer of a segment of the total field surrounding an event; or, in some contexts, simply an awareness of the all-inclusiveness of the total field. All interpretation is partly subjective: in the analytic mode, for example, the theory used to interpret a given pattern of events is chosen subjectively by the observer according to their previous experience and other factors.
Literally, ‘the study of methods‘; equally, the study of skills. Often misdescribed as ‘applied science‘ (and thus assumed to be dependent on science for its theories), technology in practice develops empirically, frequently resolving tasks and dealing with exceptions and paradoxes via methods that are known to work without knowing, scientifically, just how they work. In this sense, much of science is better understood as ‘codified technology’, the summation of skills in practice: it can be worked consistently, but we still cannot reduce it to a consistent system of order.
Predetermined template used in the analytic mode to predict and interpret patterns of events according to formal logic.
Process of preparing a person (or machine) to perform a series of tasks by listing methods to be used in each circumstance, generally through exact mimicry of a teacher’s performance. In scientism’s view of technology and training, the mechanics of each task are implicit in the method, and approaches are either ignored or considered to be a hindrance to the learning process. In principle this provides quick and easy results, in comparison with the slower process of education, but in practice is can be reliable only if a method could be provided for every possible circumstance: the infinite complexity of the interactions of the total field makes this an impossibility.
total field
Short-hand term for ‘every possible interaction of events’ — or, to use Douglas Adams’ phrase, “life, the universe and everything”. A single system or network of infinitely complex relationships, the process of selecting a sub-section to isolate out for analysis involves an arbitrary and subjective choice as to which chains in the net shall be included or excluded.

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