We have numerous questions to answer in life: “What shall I do today?” “Who shall I associate with?” “What should I do in this situation?” “How will I build this thing?”

In most situations, there are many answers to the question, that will work. But we have to pick some answer, and go with it.

This is the birth of what we are calling here, “Metaphysics.”

We come up with answers to these questions, and we use them. We come to trust the answers that work reliably, a theme further explored in KnowledgeIsBasedInTrust.

Over time, we systemetize the answers to our questions, and make rough maps that make the answers clear. These maps are not the territory, but they are very useful. And, with time and application, they have a way of becoming part of the territory.

It happens that our maps are different, because, as we said at the beginning: there are many answers to the questions that will work. There are many ways of looking at the world, and making sense of it.

Examples of MetaPhysical Maps

Here are some examples of metaphysical maps:

More recently:

That these maps “are not true” (perhaps not even remotely true) is inconsequential: Contemplating the maps and thinking about our experiences with these maps seems to work.

Many people think of the Internet as a “cloud” – you stick something in the cloud, it magically comes out somewhere else. They write software based on this assumption, and it works great. Even though we all know the Internet is not a light, fluffy object floating high in the sky – it’s mostly a bunch of computers bolted to heavy earthquake-proof racks in various underground facilities, connected by tubes :-).

It is easy to see that the Zodiac (to choose a popular MetaPhysics at random) personalities refer to either archtypes or stereotypes, and that people who contemplate these archtypes may pay more attention to human interactions, to see where they fit, or do not fit. In paying such close attention to match and mismatch, these people may become quite skilled at studying people, and remembering facets of them. In becoming such careful observers, it is natural that they would notice patterns and ways between people.

Thus, the Zodiac works, even if it’s complete balogna, and there’s nothing “working” in it. Birthdays aren’t the matter, it’s the process, the life, the practice, the motivating energies that matter.

We may want to broaden the term “MetaPhysics” to refer to just about any map or explanation or collection of maps or explanations that describe the world broadly.

Metaphysics, if studied for long enough, may form the seeds of an actual science. Or, if studied closely enough by enough people, may actually cause the people to make the metaphysics turn real, by self-manipulation and social conformity enforcement to the pattern.

MetaPhysics Aids Interpretation

MetaPhysics aids interpretation.

It works like this:

So for example:

The maps are MetaPhysics. They are not science, they are not universally true. Some things work in some social situations, some will fail. Science cannot (at least, not presently, for us) plausibly keep up with the reality of the constantly sifting seas of social norms and what not.

This whole field is a sea of SoftTechnology (method,) or SoftScience? (perception,) what have you. It is real, it is material, we rely on it, but it is also: In our heads. Not studied by the scientific institutions. Constantly shifting out from under our feet.

Another example:

Again, the maps are MetaPhysics. They are not universally true. In 10 years, coding will change a lot, and it’s likely that several of these “patterns” will be obsolete, or irrelevant, (put into remote archive,) or substantially changed, by the new environment. Someday, we may forget that “nlogn” is the fastest sorting algorithm, because parallel sorting algorithms trivially operate in linear time. [1]

MetaPhysics Enforces Conformity

Note also that MetaPhysics enforces conformity.

It should be very clear that the social gathering has very strictly defined options. These strict options were created by society (us.) 1}

Manners are, largely, arbitrary. The language used is, largely, (but not totally,) arbitrary.

Note how, once pattern language is recognized and takes hold, people begin to start naming code after the patterns that have been recognized. The recognition of a pattern in the mind of the interpreter(s) then caused the pattern to be enforced outwards.

HowardBloomsGlobalBrainBook? goes to great lengths, explaining this from a myriad different perspectives and angles, and you can read it if you need convincing. But if we just look around, we can see it clearly.

Of course, seeing it and interpreting it this way is itself a normative cause. We are, quite literally, and quite verifiably, (and non-spookily, non-mystically,) upsetting our environment as we interpret it.

As we form soft technologies, metaphysical maps, and so on: It is our ethical obligation to recognize:

The shaping is by no means total. Many things cannot be reshaped. (Or perhaps, rather: firmly resist reshaping. This could be a person’s mind, this could be a chunk of granite or marble.)

Anecdote of the Colombian School Teacher

I know a man. He taught English school in Colombia. He believes strongly in Astrology.

Astrology says that X sign is very bad at teaching.

He will not teach any person with X sign to teach.

But Y sign is very good at teaching, according to the Astrology.

He makes an extra effort to bring in Y signs.

It is reasonable to suspect that, if enough employers subscribe to the “Astrologer’s Conceptual Network,” that the demographic population of teachers might sift away from X, and towards Y.

Y’s would be given preference in the job world. X’s would not be able to hold a position. Y’s would get additional hand-holding. X’s would not get time in the classroom to develop skills.

If this goes on long enough, and believed firmly enough, X’s won’t even look, and every Y will suddenly aspire.

If we see a Y that has no talent, or an X that has incredible talent, we can start looking at the moon sign, or whatever.

There is good reason to believe that this is exactly what is at work in the gendering of labor, and that this is exactly what is at work in racism, and that this is exactly why most technologists in the US are white guys, and so on. People in other countries will get computers, and they’ll start making programmers, and they’ll start typing programmers. There are several societies that are anti-normative (by our standards,) and it’s likely that it’s almost entirely due to lack of contact with people who have different established norms.

“Secretary,” in the United States, was an almost entirely male profession, up until somewhere around the 1920’s. The concept of a female secretary was almost unthinkable. It became something that liberal bankers would do- get a hot female secretary. The conservative establishments were not so dis-respectable, and clung to their male secretaries. (Well, this is what my dad told me. If the Internet cares to, I’d be happy to see proof negative or positive.)

Studying Psychology Changes the Student

Studying psychology, in whatever form of metaphysics it takes, has an element of changing the psychologist.

An understanding of the nature of humanity becomes an ideal. If that ideal can be fulfilled, it will be fulfilled, by the practitioner (at least,) in order to be self-consistent with the understanding. The psychologist will look for confirmation, and not notice what does not confirm.

This isn’t to say that psychologists and anthropologists can’t learn facts about all of humanity. There is a limit to which psychology is self-generative. It’s conceivable that that limit, though may be transcended, by imagination’s self-generative capabilities. Imagination, too, has a limit: physics. But that’s a much broader limit than the present realities of humanity. (see: TransHumanism.)

See Also


Pretty damn interesting!

I like the Zodiac analogy, I had never thought about it that way before.

And, I like this page in general, because:

  • I tend to react pretty negatively to “superstitious supernatural stuff”, because it tends to be associated with all kinds of fraud and anti-scientific nonsence.
  • Yet, I like Tarot, the four elements, archetypes, and mystic / metaphysical symbolism in general.

Those two can be pretty hard to fit together, but this page offers a new way that I like. I guess I should start studying the zodiac. Or the Chinese elements. Or all of them.

My goal is to (have scheduled to) rewrite ThePowerOfQuestions today.

At the EvolutionarySalon, I learned an idea that shocked me: The basic idea is that questions are focuses of attention (which I knew and understood,) and that major human institutions can be viewed as answers to questions (the understanding of which caused my chair to become electrified, and my eyes to pop out.)

I would like to note that there is a branch of Spiral dynamics that is not metaphysical in nature, and that is directly based off of the scientific/academic work of Clare W. Graves (see: LiteracyOfHumanNature also see: Spiraldynamics FAQ page

There is a metaphysical spin off of these theories that is called “SDi”, however.

In my comment above, I mean that Spiraldynamics theory is not based around spiirituality or quasi-science, but rather it is rooted in systems theory and developmental psychology.

Hm; I think it’s likely that we’re having a language problem.

Looking at the web page you linked, and looking at the definition I gave above, my sense of judgement says, “Spiral Dynamics is a MetaPhysical? system, as you have defined it.”

I would further add that I classify systems theory and developmental psychology, both, as metaphysical systems.

They offer both interpretive insight into situations, and also extend normative power.

Note that software design patterns are also a metaphysical system that fits in line with what I am describing here. It offers both interpretive insight (“what’s going on in this code here; how can I understand this system, for personal simulation and code manipulation?”) and normative power (that is, we start to design and name code specifically by the guidelines of the pattern lingo.)

Where things get confused, I believe, is when I talk about the mixture of older uses of the term “metaphysics,” (Caballah, Enneagram, and so on,) with my newer use of the term metaphysics (which extends to more fields than people previously would have, or even recognized as existing.)

I’ve asked people about my use of the term “MetaPhysics.” It’s the closest word I can think of, to describing what I am naming. Some people say, “Hmm, I understand why you chose it, but it is confusing.” Other say, “No, I understood right away what you meant; it makes total sense to me.”

In my book, I wrote about “Public Field Technologies.” That was several years ago. Now I would call these things Soft Technologies, which is coin to many more people. It is clear to me that I and hoards of other people in the world have been observing this emerging (thing-behind-the-term.)

The term MetaPhysics makes the most sense to me. But, I’m all ears to a better term..!

Thanks for your clarification. You know what, you are right, so far as I can see. Spiraldynamics is MetaPhysics in the way that you describe above. So, I guess I was equating “MetaPhysics” with “occult magic” thinking, when in fact, “MetaPhysics” also is used to describe philosophical oriented thinking as well.

You other examples really help clarify where you are going with this. So, I would not suggest a different word than “MetaPhysics”, now that I am no longer ignorant of what you are meaning here. You are right. It does work.

There are certain spinoffs of Spiraldynamics that are more oriented towards what I’ll call “magic thinking” (a label that I borrowed from Howard Rheingold). This is associated with a quest for “enlightenment” and spiritual guru-hood. In these spinoff interpretations, Spiraldynamics is more of a typology of labels than a real theory of human nature. I have a big aversion to these “quest for enlightenment” spinoffs, and I mistakenly thought you were talking about one of those interpretations of Spiraldynamics. And, I thought that maybe you might not have been aware of the academic-oriented work that was carried out by Clare W. Graves over many years, because that history of Spiraldynamics is more obscure and less popular overall than the “quest for enlightenment” version (which is often labeled “Spiral Dynamics integral”, and is associated with Ken Wilber’s integral theory, and his interpretation of Clare W. Graves’ work.

But anyway, I was wrong :)


1. {If we start violating social norms, we will discover who is responsible for enforcing them. It turns out that this role is distributed widely. If sub-societies start violating social rules, conformity enforcers in ‘’other’’ sectors rise to chastise the sub-group. There are a number of decisions that are made, then.

Define external redirect: SoftScience HowardBloomsGlobalBrainBook MetaPhysical