PoeticReasoning

WordMagic is a potent brew – it has the potential to intoxicate many. When looking at creative collaboration as an interaction between DreamersAndMakers, the Makers (likely) will use the kind of reasoning commonly known and used in academia: Logic, cause and effect.

This page is about the other kind of reasoning we seem to have no word for. Let us call it poetic reasoning for the time being.

How does it work?

Association
Similar things can be used to make a point: This is beautiful and elegant, it must be good.
Wishes
Preferable conditions can be used to make a point: People are fundamentally peaceful creatures. That’s why nobody is going to vandalize our site.
Metaphors
Invoking unrelated strong imagery can be used to make a point: Like ants building their ant-hill, humans collaborate peacefully when sharing a common goal.

Why does it work?

Note that these statements are not necessarily wrong: Elegant code or an elegant scientific hypothesis is better, but it is hard to say why. Preferable conditions are preferable. Using them to justify a rational argument is hard, however. Metaphors and strong imagery is a rhetoric technique. It can be used to motivate and inspire people, so it is not necessarily a bad thing. (See HypeAndEnthusiasm.)

So poetic reasoning offers shortcuts compared to traditional logic. Sometimes this can be useful to illustrate the (holistic) context of a problem – something that might get lost by long arguments about the details. It is hard to say whether it works “better”. It works different, somehow.

A scientist (WhatIsScience) would probably say that experiments can be used to corrobate a hypothesis, so there’s an objective measure of confidence in what the hypothesis is saying. For ordinary people, however, scientific evidence is just one sort of evidence. The confidence inspired by the experiment depends on many factors: How easy are they to understand? How easy are they to explain? How convincing is the paper? How convincing is the author? Charisma, rhetorics, circumstances – they all are important factors when assessing “confidence”.

Charisma, rhetorics, circumstance, confidence – these are all influenced by using poetic reasoning. That is why for ordinary people poetic reasoning is often just as influential as logical reasoning. For some it is even more influencial.

Why not call it manipulation, demagogy, or just crazy lunatic lies? Because they are not always used with ill intent and because there is emotional intelligence. Many ordinary people find poetic reasoning just as accessible as logical reasoning.

However, the dreamers are often more logically-minded than the makers might suspect. A lot of times, they are thinking logically, they just don’t know what they’re talking about. They have an idea about how things work, but it doesn’t meet reality. Their thinking can appear magical, to the people who know what they’re talking about. It’s the “feeling of wind in your hair when taking too many shortcuts”, kinda.

Related

CategoryReasoning

Discussion

I need to learn how to detect it, and use it myself.

Hm, I think I know what you want to say, but I question some of the phrasings in the page:

  • Do we really think “logically” when we are making something work on the computer?
    • …there are fragments of logical decision making: mainly in verification. (“Would this work?”)
    • …but there’s also a lot of imagination, which works by spreading out: “What ways can we imagine to make a thing like this?” These thoughts do not follow logical constraints.
  • Are the ordinary people outsiders not thinking logically?
    • A lot of times, they are thinking logically, they just don’t know what they’re talking about. They have an idea about how things work, but it doesn’t meet reality. Their thinking can appear magical, to the people who know what they’re talking about.
  • Logical thinking can work over strange territories.
    • There is a lot of logical thinking involved in astrology, for example. There is logical verification, there are mathematical constructs, etc.,.
    • Alice in Wonderland is a good example. Surely there is logic in there.

I have met many scientists who believe that because they speak in a robotic voice, are quick to say, “yes, but, (sigh,)” that because they understand mathematics, etc., etc.,.: That their thinking was naturally logical. (And people who didn’t fit those tropes: they are illogical.)

But I think that’s mostly a self-deception.

I agree with MarkTwain?:
[en]The world makes a lot more sense when you realize that we’re all quite batty.
[de]Die Welt wird um einiges verständlicher, wenn man einsieht, dass wir alle ‘n büschen plemplem sind.

I have an idea that I call the ConservationOfRationality.

Neat page. This is my favorite (funny) sentence: “Why not call it manipulation, demagogy, or just crazy lunatic lies?”

I’ve been horsing around in the beginning of the page a bit. Revert it if you please. Interesting topic.

I think ChristopherAlexander reasons a bit about this in his TheNatureOfOrder. There seems to be a hard to understand identity of things simple, functional and beautiful. You can look at it and feel they are right. There is also OccamsRazor teaching to avoid unnecessary or arbitrary concepts. This is effectively anti-WordMagic, if there is not some string function in the words.

There is a fundamental magic in the words - people always feel that words have some corresponding reality. So when advertising talks about some product containing “Mega XR 12” then the consumer takes a deep breath and thinks “whow, this must be good”. Prehistoric people must have felt incredible power when they caught their fears and visions in words.

There is a fundamental magic in the words - people always feel that words have some corresponding reality.

yes, this is true and pretty amazing

What do you mean by, “if there is not some string function in the words.”?

You can go to DisneyLand?, and meet MickeyMouse?.

(He is quite real.)

I have three examples from Japan that cause me to wonder whether their culture is more accepting of PoeticReasoning in science & technology than we are. Not only accepting, but practicing. And if they are practicing, then it shows that logic vs. poetic are not contradictory, even at the “highest order” of logical reasoning.

  • The Cell Processor – the US IBM engineers were begging for it to have 6 mini-processors. This was to accomodate die size. There was no reason for it not to have 6; everything would work out fine. The Japanese lead, Ken Kutaragi, disagreed: This is a revolutionary chip, he argued, of profound importance to the world. (source and full quotation) (I understand that there’s an GUID system for identifying everything that can compute in this system, and neighboring systems, and it is intended to be load balanced across all computing devices that can be reached by some sort of bus. Or something like that. Very different.) Because it was so revolutionary, it must have 8 mini-processes. It must be: a power of 2. IBM engineers begged and pleaded all night in a hotel room with him. They talked it over many ways. The decision rested with the Japanese lead. And he responded: “a power of 2.” A chip of this importance must respect: the power of 2. They have to do special fab processing to get this to work? Okay, special fab processing it is. The power of 2 will be respected.
  • Square – In my college days, looking for Square, the Japanese RPG game company, I kept running across Square, some kind of robotics or computing firm. Also Japanese. I was reading their profile, where they describe how their company is set up, the kind of robotics (or whatever) that they make, all these things. “Respectable, scientific, engineers, suits,” I was thinking to myself. Untill I saw that one of their selling points was respecting the metaphysical properties of the square. I’m not sure it was just a selling point, though- they seemed very sincere. Their architecture was based around the metaphysical properties of the square. And this seemed to be okay with everyone. It did not seem to be an aesthetic quality. I think they actually believed in this.
  • Temperment theory – there’s a theory of temperment, (sort of like what we would think of as “personality,” but psychologists don’t believe in that,) and the Japanese social scientists and psychologists know of it as well. But, in their respected academic papers, it’s not just genetic and environmental concern that they treat in their paper. When speculating about the variation that does not appear to be genetic or environmental, their paper gave a serious treatment to the idea that souls were reincarnating. This is, if memory serves me correctly, something that was in a peer reviewed, respected, Japanese journal of psychological research. Reincarnation.

What I take from this is that western culture imagines that it owns science and technology. And that there is only 1 science and technology, because, after all, there is only one reality. Natural that scientists would all be in agreement, no?

But it seems that this is not the case. It seems that scientific cultures hold beliefs and heuristics and standards of respectibility that can be different.

Now, before going too far, we should fact-check those things. But, I operate based on my memory, and that’s what I remember seeing.

I’ve seen other examples, I believe, I just don’t remember them all that well. Those are the examples that stand out particularly well.

I should mention that US business culture is quite different than US scientific culture, and that it appears to me that US business culture is happy to consult mediums, magical architectures, (oh: should have mentioned skyscraper feng shui- yes- it’s real,) etc., etc.,. In particular Blavatski-style metaphysics and theories of mind seem to have been powerfuly influential, and with good cause. Some heuristics work very well. reference Napoleon Hill.

One thing that bugs me about this page, is that it suggests that there are two types of people:

  • magical thinkers
  • rational people

My belief is that we are in fact, more the same: We are just applying our discrimination in different places.

At the EvolutionarySalon, Kevin spoke with I and another, and asked (and I paraphrase:) “What do you think is missing here? I think we’re missing discernment, discrimination, being critical. We can’t go on and on, talking about spirits and metaphysical beings all day.”

What is strange to me, is that the so-called magical thinkers own houses. They own houses, they have money, they organize their business. They have cars, and, furter, they can navigate cities and islands with them. Several of these so-called magical thinkers know how to order masses of people, they have halted wars for periods of time, they have demonstrated that they can mobilize tens of thousands of people.

So perhaps they have some funny ideas about physics. Perhaps they have some funny ideas about whatever.

I think we’re just seeing the ConservationOfRationality at work here. We understand that it takes time to become an expert in something, no?

Look: We don’t even know if this world is real or not. No scientist, anywhere, has ever proven that this world is real. In fact, they cannot prove whether this world is real or not. So all this hullaballoo about the developments in this world may well just be pure fantasy mounted on top of fantasy, is that not the case?

This line of thinking will likely evoke a visceral rejection- but not a logical rejection, from several readers here.

Note that.

Visceral, but not logical.

Confronted with this, the logician-not-poetic-reasoner might start formulating logical arguments. (We know that we come up with lines of logic once we’ve decided to feel some way.) But I guarantee you: None of them will put to rest the core question; They will merely be impressive displays of logic within what is essentially a ThinkingGoo. That is, it won’t have logical integerity, because foundation assumptions will be unproven, nor provable. It’ll just look impressive.

There is no “detecting and using” PoeticReasoning, because: We are all doing it.

If you believe otherwise, it’s just because your spending all your time on a particular island. This particular island has a logical structure within itself.

But the island itself is fundamentally absurd.

It just exists.

Demonstration:

“I’m a computer programmer. I can make programs that do wonderful things. I see people bumbling with software, who can’t make anything work. But I see the way clearly, and I see what is expensive but ineffectual. I can make a computer do things that others cannot.”

This person has clearly dedicated effort towards understanding the computer, and being able to reason within its space. This person is not going to try to create an Oracle Machine, or to do any other number of absurd things with computers. They are going to cover a 2D array with two for loops, not three, not four; They are not going to stand baffled, wondering how to cover that array.

But now let’s ask ourselves: What is the person going to do with those skills? What efforts is that person going to support with those skills? Does this person have a concept of ethics? Looking at the NarrativeLevel: How does this person understand their place in the world?

Perhaps the person has the idea that people are essentially greedy and bad, and thus this person is only going to use their skills for personal gain. Does the person have a purely logical basis for this conclusion? Almost certainly not: It would be very hard to figure out a systematic approach that can even begin to yield the right answer. Even asking the questions “What is greedy?” and “What is bad?” are collosal efforts, that require entire civilizations spending many aeons to start making progress on.

Surely, this person is operating by pure MetaPhysics, enacting PoeticReasoning.

The logic applied over their small island, yes: The rationality has been spent there, and the person can do that.

But the whole narrative of their life is all confused. If the person is confident in their feeling, they are even more confused.

I am not asserting an answer to whether the person’s answer to the question is right or wrong; I am asserting that the person does not know, and is thus engaged in PoeticReasoning.

I think that this page lacks a fundamental humility that is demanded by thinking deeply about epistimology.

We are all poetic reasoners. To be otherwise is fundamentally impossible. It is intrinsic to mind. All mind. Everywhere, Logic is the exception, achieved only with hard effort, and often of value only momentarily, within a very temporary context.

It is impossible, at the theoretical level, even: To make a logical mind.

The world is sprawl. It is Evolutionary. It is nested spheres of co-creativity, but it’s even “worse” than that- even that implies hierarchy, and we know that in fact it is actually a very complex web as well, crossing artificial hierarchical boundaries continuously and with ease.

The world, our minds, everything, just tries stuff. What works, works, and is followed. What doesn’t work, doesn’t work, and is tried again later, because it might work again later.

At times, this frightens me: Ethics and Beauty, they are plausibly simply just manifestations of what Is. (Is TCP/IP the only way the Internet could have been made to work? Clealy, No.) Reality. Strange attractors, convergence zones, within the constant dynamic. Other times, I take joy in the swirl and the freedom.

But I’ve diverged.

The point is: We are all, like evolution itself, poetic reasoners. We just try stuff. That’s all we do.

If we’ve engineered a SoftTechnology that works in some situations, such as Logic, or the MetaPhysics of a development process, be it XP, be it Waterfall, be it whatever, then that’s all it is: A SoftTechnology that was tried, tested, worked, and believed, for some situation(s) with some development process(es). Some last longer, some shorter, some never worked, some usually worked, some always worked, but whatever it was: It was just a MetaPhysics that was trustworthy for some time.

It was not the product of a perfect mind that saw accurately into all things, and wisely spoke: “This is what we shall do,” with perfect harmony with the fundamentally rational world.

This is not to say that experts can’t gain insight. This is not to say that there isn’t a way that things really are. This is not to say that we should throw Logic out. This is not to say that the Scientific Method is just as good as any other method. That we should all start picking up crystals and candels. I don’t know how many people I meet at the EvolutionarySalon who told me: “Why do we need wireless cell phones, when we can just use telepathy?” Or: “I think wireless cell phones are just a shock wave from the future, where we’ll communicate without any technology.” 1 It’s just to say that these things are costly strategies that have worked in particular domains that have value in those particular domains.

But they are not, and cannot, function as foundational bases for all thought, or even personal thought on a daily basis. We cannot take the worlds greatest, most Logical, Mathematician, extract out the “Logic” like a juice, and then dynamically reapply it to all life.

What happens when you do that, is you get the mistake of the Modern era: “Houses are machines for living in.” Spoken cockily, with “Science & Logic & Rationality” as the basis. “How can you disagree with me? You must not be a logical thinker.” In this person’s head, there is a MetaPhysics map: There is Logic in the center, and then the chaos on the outside. And the person who disagrees is in the chaos, and the person who speaks is in the center: “Houses are machines for living in.”

Anyways. I’m just going off now. I hope I’ve made my point, though.

I believe this is an understanding that is coming to me through the Evolutionary Spirituality movement. I do sincerely believe that this kind of reasoning is an emergent phenomenon.

People are asking questions about these things. Opinion leaders, all over, are asking the questions, asking about basis. Even conservative Christian pastors are asking these questions, about Modernism and Post-Modernism, and so on. And while the public facing side is showing certainty, I believe the back side is asking the question, because I’ve talked with a pastor who’s telling me about thses conservative pastors asking these questions. And I see, across the network, that other pastors are asking these same questions. I wish I had a sense of contextualized numbers, but: That’s the nature of emerging things: You don’t have the numbers until afterwards.

It makes sense to me, at any rate. It nicely integrates a bunch of my own thoughts and questions.

I’m confused because it sounds as if you’re disagreeing (and I don’t understand what exactly you mean when you say “thinking deeply about epistimology”) but you’re not saying anything I’m disagreeing with.

Perhaps the page could be toned down, with some doubt and questions sprinkled in there (would that satisfy the “fundamental humility” requirement?) – but I think that’s just not how I want to write. I want to be able to use the term “poetic reasoning” on a different page. I want to add it to my LinkLanguage. If I want to do that, I need to make some positive assertions about the things I want the term, the page, to mean. Obviously it can be changed, rewriten, or refuted by others. But that’s not how it starts out.

As for the disagreement, if you think about it as a term in a LinkLanguage, and reread the introduction again, I’m not claiming that the world consists of dreamers and makers, the ones always logical thinkers, the others always poetical thinkers. Instead, “poetic reasoning” is a term that describes a particular argument at a particular point in time. People can and will use both logical and poetic reasoning, and various mixes of the two. But if I want to talk about it, I have to give it a name, give it a description, put it on a page.

I hope this way of looking at it resolves the tension in the discussion above.

It feels to me like its been ages since we talked about this last, but I look at the record, and it’s only been 4 months! Amazing!

I think I was reacting and mixing in EvolutionarySpirituality perspectives that I was thinking about at the time. (Looking back.)

But, let’s see; I’ll consider the DocumentMode in parts:

WordMagic is a potent brew – it has the potential to intoxicate many. When looking at creative collaboration as an interaction between DreamersAndMakers, the Makers (likely) will use the kind of reasoning commonly known and used in academia: Logic, cause and effect.

OK. Bringing in DreamersAndMakers makes things more complicated to me, because: On the one hand, we’re talking about rhetoric (PoeticReasoning,) persuasive technique, and so on. And on the other hand, we’re talking about: DreamersAndMakers. Software development. “How we build things.” And I feel different feelings in these two worlds, and they get confused.

The gut response is: “But makers aren’t logical, rational, beings!” The Makers are just as guilty of PoeticReasoning as the Dreamers.

Consider the “intrinsic superiority of Object Oriented programming” that people allude to. “Why?” “Because it’s most natural to think in terms of things and objects.” Well, okay: That seems like PoeticReasoning to me. That’s not exactly a fortress castle argument, insailable and insurmountable. It’s a metaphysical point (MetaPhysics,) not a purely logical point.

So I get reactive when I hear about the logical makers. ;)

With the goal being “To write a page about Poetic Reasoning that can be used as LinkLanguage,” we could harness this: We can include the anecdote of the reasoning about Object Oriented programming, to help explain PoeticReasoning. I think it does make it harder to include the DreamersAndMakers story, though.

This page is about the other kind of reasoning we seem to have no word for. Let us call it poetic reasoning for the time being.

I guess my problem is that the page paints a picture that there is “rational, logical thinking,” and then there’s this other kind of thinking that’s done, which is “poetic reasoning.”

And my thought is that: “99.999% of thinking is PoeticReasoning.”

I think there’s a major self-attribution error at work in a many of our societies. Many youth believe that they are being “rational and reasonable” if they just: A) consistently defer to mathematics, B) speak in a calm, even voice, perhaps sighing now and then, C) argue for the “side” of “Science.” (And so on.) If you have someone who does those 3 things, it’s a good indicator that you’ve got someone who thinks that “I am a rational, reasonable thinker,” and that “other people are wrong.”

They would jump at the opportunity to use the LinkLanguagePoeticReasoning” because it gives them an easy way to talk about the others, who “fundamentally think differently” than they do.

So my inclination is to write “PoeticReasoning” with an inherent sense of: “This is the vast majority of reasoning.”

Why does it work?

My immediate answer to the question, just on the face of it, is because: people have heuristics, alliances, faiths, established patterns,” and that the poetic reasoning appeals to and fits those things.

I might further add, that for most things that matter to us, there is no real alternative to poetic reasoning. I would argue that the cost of constructing a strong, ultimately convince argument is so incredibly insanely high,it’s largely the insanely high cost of construction a rational argument. Actually, I want to say something stronger: I think it’s basically impossible to construct a rational argument for anything non-trivial. (And mathematics is relatively “trivial.” Mathematics does not allow us to answer hard questions like: “Why does so-and-so prefer ice cream X to ice cream Y, or, what’s the best way to make and sell product A to people B, or how do I get people C to take action D.”)

Note that these statements are not necessarily wrong: Elegant code or an elegant scientific hypothesis is better, but it is hard to say why. Preferable conditions are preferable. Using them to justify a rational argument is hard, however. Metaphors and strong imagery is a rhetoric technique. It can be used to motivate and inspire people, so it is not necessarily a bad thing. (See HypeAndEnthusiasm.)

I like this paragraph a lot. Though, I do have a clear reason why an elegant scientific hypothesis is better: Because it gives you a lot of ground, and very little cost. You know: You have a 10 line program that accomplishes X, and also Y, vs. the 2,000 line program that can barely accomplish X.

This may be related to why poetic reasoning works so well: It builds itself on things that have worked before for us, in our minds. Those things are things that have allowed us to accomplish things before; Metaphysical principals that have “earned their pay” in our experience.

Charisma, rhetorics, circumstance, confidence – these are all influenced by using poetic reasoning. That is why for ordinary people poetic reasoning is often just as influential as logical reasoning. For some it is even more influencial.

I’m still not clear what this “logical reasoning” is, that PoeticReasoning is being contrasted with.

I see a lot of logical reasoning in the “Poetic Reasoning.”

For example, a person will say, “A → B”, “B->C”, “C->D”, and therefor “A->D.” This is a logical frame, is it not? It may be that the steps A->B B->C C->D are all magical. But there is a logical frame that they are placed in.

“Reasoning” is a part of “Poetic Reasoning,” and I’m not sure that there is such a thing as “Reasoning without any logic.”

Or maybe there is?

I think a lot of people are applying a logical reasonable heuristic when they discredit (say) the academic eggheads reasoning talk, in favor of the cool politicians PoeticReasoning. “The eggheads are really good at confusing us, and they’re overly precautious. They talk about why things can’t be done, a lot, but they never really get anything done or solve any problems for us.” (And so on, and so forth.) Regardless of how we feel, many people have life experiences that cause them to make these conclusions. It is a mixture of logical conclusions, empirical facts, and feelings.

So when they succomb to PoeticReasoning, they’re actually being quite logical, given the facts of their particular existence.

Why not call it manipulation, demagogy, or just crazy lunatic lies? Because they are not always used with ill intent and because there is emotional intelligence. Many ordinary people find poetic reasoning just as accessible as logical reasoning.

When I read this, I again feel the twinge of “I’m rational, there are these other people who are not.”

“Many ordinary people find poetic reasoning just as accessible as logical reasoning” implies to me that there are people who find only (or mainly) logical reasoning as making sense.

But what I’m arguing is that logical reasoning is almost always poetic reasoning.

Mathematics is an exception, and reasoning over very simple systems is also an exception. But beyond that, … Global politics, marketing, persuasion, psychology, and so on: We find ourselves very quickly (I strongly believe) in MetaPhysics.

Which is not to say that there aren’t people who aren’t better at it than others: There are Paper-Rock-Scissors champions, after all. (http://worldrps.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13&Itemid=28)

We can say that this skill base is built on non-PoeticReasoning. But it only works for a particular limited environment, and if you meet something different, or if you’re intentionally hacked, your logical fabric fall apart.

I want to be able to use the term “poetic reasoning” on a different page. I want to add it to my LinkLanguage.

I suppose that I am differing with the very concept of PoeticReasoning! (Because, I think most reasoning is poetic, including what is usually contrasted against Poetic Reasoning.)

Maybe it would help to ask “what situations do you want to refer to Poetic Reasoning in?”

“Where does this idea come up?” “What is it used for?” “Why was this idea made?” “What do we want to say, when we say PoeticReasoning?”

Even if it were true, and “99.999% of thinking is PoeticReasoning” I need to name it, because clearly for me that’s far from obvious. If I want to talk about it, I need a name.

“Poetic Reasoning” works for me.

Much later… I removed the following interjection from the text: “[This is a gross error : the truth of something has nothing to do with the intent in it][Please elaborate as we’re not talking about the truth, here.]” – If anybody feels like elaborating, let’s do it here.

Footnotes:

1. These people really just want an etherial technology, that’s colored blue, rather than red, that is not associated with Corporations or pollution, that instead causes them to think of nature and mountains and trees and blue skies, rather than cities and pavement and pipes and plumbing. The link, for these people, I believe, is consideration of the material of their body, which most tend to feel sympathetic about.

Define external redirect: DisneyLand MickeyMouse MarkTwain

EditNearLinks: TheNatureOfOrder DocumentMode ChristopherAlexander

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