(Content of Page removed by SamRose. See discussion below.)



Well, Sam, I regret having to say this, but I disagree with just about every idea on this page!

A brief sampling:

  • Wherever people disagree, they’re both right.
  • When people argue, they’re arguing for what they already believe.
  • There’s a middle position, and it tends to have the better idea.
  • The middle position rejects predrawn conclusions.
  • Gestalt switches are a good metaphor, and there’s usually one at work in disagreement.
  • There’s a gestalt switch at work in EthicsDiscussionB.

I’d argue strongly against most of these ideas.

But, as it is, the page is about the ThirdPosition, so it is the concept of the ThirdPosition that I’ll respond to.

The “ThirdPosition” that is conceptualized here recognizes that when both “sides” in a debate are assimilating certain facts and “contrasting” or rejecting others, that both sides must be partially right, and partially wrong.

My response to this idea will respond first to, “Who’s right, and who’s wrong?” Then I’ll consider the motivations and thoughts of the SilentMajority, which I think is a more accurate match than “ThirdPosition.” Finally, there is the more important question of, “How do we get KnowledgeFromDebate?”

The question of “Who’s right, and who’s wrong,” is complicated, and can’t be properly addressed in the abstract. Thus, saying things like “both sides must be partially right, and partially wrong,” is too hard for me to accept. To consider just a sampling of the situations that can arise: Both sides could be right; They’re just in HeatedAgreement. Both sides could be right, and you have a genuine gestalt switch. Or both sides could be wrong. (Totally.) I’ve seen my fair share of leper wrestling matches, both as participant, and as bemused spectator. Often there are complex situations of right and not right and oh-but-your-motives-are-wrong or your-third-order-intepretation-has-this-interesting-good-point or yes-your-right-but-thats-not-the-question and so on and so forth. Then there’s simple expertise: Person A is right, and that’s it. Yes, this mathematical question really does work out this way, and you are, quite simply wrong. You’re not even a little bit right, except in this face-saving imaginative way, that we’ll construct right here, right now, so that you can walk away in peace.

There is always the danger, in my mind, of the FalseMiddle?. The False Middle is the notion that between any two ideas, there’s a third idea, that can be divined by taking out a compass and a rule, and finding the point that lies at the mid-point between the two perspectives. Wherever people are arguing, Truth is found out by simple geometry. Or is it geomancy? This idea is so absurd, it hardly warrants answering. Yet it comes up again and again, and if I need to answer to the idea, let me know, and I’ll be happy to finally write out a page, “FalseMiddle?.” The FalseMiddle?, and the declaration that there’s always “some right and some wrong” are impediments to the PassagesOfPerspective, because to make progress and motion, we want to know what is that some right, and we want to know what is that some wrong, and we won’t figure it out unless we speak up and say things that are some right and some wrong. The FalseMiddle? is an impediment to what I think we want to look for: How do we garner KnowledgeFromDebate?

Next, instead of talking about the “who’s right and who’s wrong” of the idea, I’d like to talk about the person or people who’s holding the “ThirdPosition.”

This is a polarization away from reality. It creates two perceptions of reality, and two sets of facts in one reality (and tends to silence people in the middle). I have read many of these discussions, and have often felt like a member of the silent majority in these debates.

The idea that there exists a third position, to me, is automatically suspect. If people are silent, then they are not saying anything. Do they agree with one another, sufficient to produce a third position? If the situation is complex, then there is incredible complexity in the space of ideas. (A space of ideas, likely without a “middle.”) That incredible complexity likely breeds multitude of interpretation. Why then, would we expect that the third position is, indeed, a single position? When the non-participants open their mouths, we should expect to hear a third position, and then a fourth position, and then a fifth position, and so on. Silence, (or The Word, or The Name,) is likely God’s ultimate expression of reality, but that doesn’t mean that the silence of a fool, or a non-participant in a conversation, is just as pregnant.

The SilentMajority cannot be a ThirdPosition; Could it instead be a second role? Are “participants” the first role, and then “non-participants” the second role, that the SilentMajority fills? But I doubt that the SilentMajority is even a second role, because there is the silent person who is following along, with interest, to the general debate. And then there is the silent person who is following along, with interest, but who is partisan, to a side. And then there is the person who is silent, but finds the conversation itself distasteful, and would like other silent people to step in, to put an end to this nonsense. These all play community roles, and these roles are distinct from one another. Not only is there not a third position, but there is not even a second role.

The only thing we are finding in common, in the abstract, is a silence that can mean any of a number of things.

What I believe we are really concerned with, here, is: “How do we build knowledge from our interactions?” A subset of this is “How do we gain KnowledgeFromDebate?” There are a number of angles that we take on this, that can be found in the PageDatabase, stemming largely from EmileKroeger’s contributions.

I think we dislike debates because they can be messy, heated, and contentuous. They are often unavoidable, because there is some agreement to answer challenges. (The agreement to answer all challenges is probably a bad agreement to enter in to- I think it’s good to read the fine print, usually written between the lines, before joining a community.)

I believe the thing to do, is to find people who you have sufficient agreement and disagreement with, where you can have a fruitful conversation. You’ll know “fruitful,” if you find yourself & others feeling warm and happy, and thinking interesting new thoughts, and putting some of your older thoughts in doubt. That’s how I, at least, know “fruitful.”

Appeals to a ThirdPosition do not help me very much. If I found myself making arguments towards a ThirdPosition, I would think that this was either “not a conversation that I want to be in,” or that it is my argument, and I need to actually put my argument down, and getting into the thick of things. But appeals to a transcendental third position strike me as weak, and not helpful. I can see stating: “I have a third position, but I don’t have time to write it down.” But I would resist saying: “Some of the things you say is right, and some of the things you say is wrong,” because that is assumed knowledge, from the get-go.

So, in summary:

  • There are many more situations than “some right, some wrong,” when people are assimilating facts or rejecting others.
  • The “Third Position” is not really a third position; There are often as many positions as there are people.
  • The SilentMajority does not only share position, they don’t even necessarily share roles.
  • The Third Position, then, doesn’t really help us, as a concept. If we’re tempted to invoke it, we should ask ourselves, “Is this my conversation? If it is, what is my position?”
  • I think what we should really concern ourselves with, is understanding how debate fits in with the PassagesOfPerspective, and how to garner KnowledgeFromDebate, by practices in debating, and even deciding which debates to enter into.
  • I think we should consider debate side by side alternative conversation methods and practices, for producing knowledge, CollectiveIntelligence. There is WikiFacilitation, WikiDebateBase, original inquiry, rejection, MappingArguments, and so on, and so forth.

On the side issue of the “Gestalt Switch” – I think it’s a bad metaphor, and confuses the issue.

Often times, you have two views of the same thing, but it’s perfectly plausible to see them as fitting within a larger picture.

This is quite different than an artifact of how the brain works, that makes it possible to see only one interpretation of a picture at a time.

Kuhn is focusing on the conservative incremental growth of the system. Popper is focusing on the dramatic change that happens when an old order is overthrown by a new.

Deborah Mayo’s contribution of the “gestalt switch” is not helpful, because it’s perfectly plausible (and helpful!) to develop a picture that includes both of these things.

For instance, the page SelectivelyOpenMinded basically explains the paradox. “Gestalt” seems like “giving up” to me: “It’s impossible to see these things, fitting together at once!”

Atlanta exists!

No, Seattle exists!

No, Atlanta exists, I’m sure of it!

But I live in Seattle, how much more proof of it do I need?

Are we sure this isn’t a Gestalt switch? Maybe our brains are limited, such that we can’t see both Seattle and Atlanta at the same time?

Relax – I’ve got Google Maps right here. Both Atlanta and Seattle exist! See?

The proper thing to say, if you do believe that these are in fact just facets of a larger model, is to say, “I believe that these two ideas are just parts of a larger model X,” and then state what X is.

People may well disagree, of course. Integration guarantees neither rightness nor capitulation.

The ThirdPosition reminds me of how a position that is not popular, or maybe doesn’t seem to apply might be more highly considered by the current participants if it could be introduced in an anonymous manner. Anonymity increases competition by separating the idea from the person so every approach must be considered without prejudice.

Removed link to EthicsDiscussionB, because I am not trying to say there is a gestalt switch happening in that discussion. Link to EthicsDiscussionB was only intended to say “this is where I was talking about gestalt switch”, not “this is where this problem exists”.

Clarifying ThirdPosition in document, no point-by-point counter arguing in discussion (from me).

Here’s how I’d completely rewrite ThirdPosition.

Feel free to correct me where I’m wrong.

Third Position

The “Third Position” that is described here recognizes that there is a space beyond the “sides” in a two-positioned debate. The “Third Position” is a recognition of the ParadoxOfExpression, that no worldview about complex things is ever totally right, and that the third position is a fertile field for the emergent (but similarly flawed) positions of tomorrow.”

The argument of people in a world-view is more like the lawyer, than the scientist. That is, the lawyer has decided that their client is right, and then seeks to turn all facts and discoveries to the case that the client is right. Contrast with the scientist, who asks a question, and proceeds from there, fitting all things to the answer to the question. This is the nature of intelligence, and intelligence cannot be what it is, if it does not encompass both aspects, of the lawyer, and the scientist.

That said, even scientist depends on the lawyer. Consider the scientist who ignores the call from the guy who claims to have a cast of Big-foot’s footprint; The guy may even have it, but if the scientist heeds the call, he’s probably doing something wrong. It seems that it is the nature of intelligence, for today at least, that it must include some fundamental injustice. Progress often times depends on accident, but institutions do not run on accidents.

And even the lawyer depends on the scientist. It cannot advance its position incrementally, except by trying things out. It may reject, but it at least has to see and consider, before it rejects.

It appears that worldviews appear to be doomed to be always right about some things, and always wrong about some other things, but we should not marvel at this.

Birth from the Third Position

If warring articulated world views are insufficient, it is sometimes necessary that the space of the third position must give rise to a genuinely new material third position.

The new material third position is like an evolutionary creature, well fitted to a niche. It can solve the problems of the territory that it was made for, in ways that the first and second positions cannot.

Hiding in the Third Position

That said, some prefer not to raise voice, within the land that a third position can grow from. Any creature that is made, after all, has weaknesses, and is susceptible to targeting. If not here, perhaps elsewhere, should it stray too far from its point of origin. Or, should it happen that the ground falls out beneath its feet, the landscape changes, and the creature is doomed to irrelevance, unable to mete out any food.

Some prefer silence, then, and private spelunking within the space of the third position, but without articulation.

Inconclusive, never making decisions, or perhaps raising bugs in the mental landscape.

Some people can develop extraordinary insight, but can they communicate it?

Communication births positions, and positions are big and false.

Reality and the Third Position

There is a true reality, somewhere in the 3rd position, though the ParadoxOfExpression can sometimes make us doubt it.

Simply that we cannot observe it, or, alternatively, when we can observe it, we cannot express it.

Sometimes, people in the space of the Third Position only imagine that they see things more really. The First or Second Position may be wrong, but wrong about a trifling thing: They may be right about essential things. Or the person in the space of the Third Position may simply be deluded. They don’t know, because they haven’t spoken up, (thus creating a position,) and thus nobody’s bothered to convince them that they’re wrong.

And sometimes the person in the space of the Third Position is right, dead on, and absolutely trustworthy. Someone else may even know this for a fact. But can they communicate it? If they communicate it, does this not constitute a position? And if it constitutes a position, does it not have some flaw?

Science is a real accomplishment, though, at least until the Great Rip, or this universe is otherwise obsoleted.

Sabotage & Warfare & Defence

It sometimes happens that someone intends to kill a position. There are a number of ways of dismantling a position. Anything that can be constructed, can be deconstructed.

Because there is Sabotage, there is Defence, and hence there are Lawyers.

Marvel not, should things appear distorted.

I much prefer this telling.

  • It doesn’t express shock that positions are polarized.
  • It explains why positions are intrinsically polarized.
  • It makes clear the trade-offs of living in the ThirdSpace? – not only what you gain (the possibility of greater vision & expertise, and the ability to construct a new position,) but also what you lose by committing yourself to the Third Position – the ability to communicate your vision.

Forgive me if I’m “reading too much” into the article, but as it is originally written, I can’t help but hear a cheer for the ThirdPosition, and a loud “Boo” for the first & second positions.

What I want is clarity over the dialectic situation; I don’t want to be a cheerleader for the concept of a ninja, vs. the concept of a Samurai. I’d like to not worship platonic forms, though it may be impossible to do anything other than that. That is, I’m seeking the highest, most inclusive comprehension that this little brain can handle.

I believe that the choice of language here is bad, and that the metaphors are weak, and poorly chosen.

I believe that we can diagram the principles at work here that we care about, and explain our model succinctly, and freely.

I believe it is worth doing, since I love to explain these “meta” issues to people.

We can make the illustrated Tao Te Ching, here on CommunityWiki. :)

Provided we understand one another, of course.

This page, especially the rewrite, seems to be about Dialectics. Dialectics is something I don’t really understand yet, though I’d like to. I still haven’t made up my mind whether “Dialectics” is something deep, or a mix of common sense and bloated hollow rethoric (I once found this book in China proving that there’s water on the moon, only by using dialectics and abstract reasoning).

I agree with at least one of Lion’s criticisms: though there may be a large amount of people who disagree with the most vocal ideas opposing each other, and though they may feel united in a third position, what unites them is often pretty shallow. The same way the people who are against something may feel united, until they have to try to agree on something else.

I think if we look at opposing positions in history, we’ll find that often enough there’s one side that we’d consider the “right” one today (say, about slavery, or galileo vs. the Church, etc.) I’m sure there are also quite a few cases where we’d consider a “third position” would be the right one (maybe Protestants vs. Catholics during the wars of religion), but that doesn’t mean that position was shared by all those who didn’t clearly take sides at the time (Side note: I wouldn’t necessarily consider that our present position(s) on an issue is necessarily better than they would have had in the past).

“Dialectic,” as far as I mean here, just means “people talking.” So I can see how that can be considered both profoundly deep, and “a bunch of hot air.” I am not sure what kind of specific Dialectic model leads to water on the moon, though. :) But I can imagine that someone could create such an argument: people can argue some pretty funny things, from wildly different basis. (Sometimes legitimately! Consider mathematical arguments that wildly jump across fields, one moment in abstract algebra, the next in ellipses, then on to number theory, and ending up with some conclusion in an entirely different field.)

Did you get the stuff about the ParadoxOfExpression?

I want to argue here “for” the “1st & 2nd” positions, to make this page a little more even-handed. It’s easy to see any two people arguing like lawyers for their position, and say: “Those guys are nuts! Clearly, the truth is in a 3rd position.” But then we are doing them and ourselves a dis-service, by not understanding the reality of the situation, why things are like this, why this is a recurring reality, and what is the structure of the situation.

Then, we can progress from saying, “These guys are nuts,” to a deeper consideration of situation, appropriateness, and strategy. Instead of being fettered with “Why are these people acting so nutty?”, we can then ask deeper questions about what we want, why things are like this, how reasoning works, where to proceed from here, and so on.

I think we have to understand limits, objectives, priorities, defence, rationality, PassagesOfPerspective, SelectivelyOpenMinded, and so on.

Then we can undertake our own missions, to play are part in the fairy tale. You can’t think for 6 months to take your turn in a chess game.

Understanding these things, I think we’d be much less judgmental about positions, in the abstract. It’s like the difference between the right-winger who thinks that terrorist tactics are essentially evil, and the military expert who understands that tactics are tactics, and that same right-winger would very likely use terrorist tactics if it’s all they had available to them. (Perhaps the 1980’s USA was invaded and overtaken by Russian Communist, and people were being brainwashed with advanced Soviet Cybernetic Borg technologies, and they belonged to a tiny resistance force, that cannot raise an army, that needs to establish leverage in the public mind.)

We want to understand the “tactical” situation of conversations and positions and ideas. We don’t want to just say, “the naked guys out in the bushes are the best, because tanks are big and slow.” No strategist would ever say that. Rather, they would talk about the merits and demerits of each piece, and how they play out and interact with one another on the field. A knight moves like so, a pawn moves like so, a pawn can revive a queen, and so on. We don’t play chess by saying, “Knights are the best! Pawns suck!” or “No, pawns are better, because they can become anything!”

A ThirdPosition (a position arising from the ThirdPosition) does not necessarily aid discourse. It depends on what your aim for the discourse is, does it not? They can detract from conversation, “getting somewhere,” and so on. A ThirdPosition candidate is something that you wish on an enemy, when you are in a US election, for example. There are good arguments that the Greens, who are on the left, spoiled the election for Gore, for example. Did the Greens aid discourse? Would we have a radically different world if Gore had won the election?

note: LionKimbro put the “SamRose” tag here; there was an edit conflict, and I’m acting my best in GoodFaith to put the page back together; please excuse any mistakes I might be making.

  • “It appears that worldviews appear to be doomed to be always right about some things, and always wrong about some other things, but we should not marvel at this.”

I really am not saying we should marvel at it. I am saying we should acknowledge it, and do something about it in our discourse and methods for human problem solving and reasoning.


Because it is the nature of the human mind to want to create dichotomies, to divide understanding into two “sides”. Humans do this because it makes it easier for them to understand, and because it makes it easier to control how other people understand.

Some of us humans want to control how other people understand, so that we can convince them to do things the way that WE want them to do it. To convince them that what I is what is best for them. To convice them to subordinate themselves to ME, and to ignore or recontextualize facts that contradict the reality that I am creating for YOU. :)

  • “the trade-offs of living in the ThirdSpace? – not only what you gain (the possibility of greater vision & expertise, and the ability to construct a new position,) but also what you lose by committing yourself to the Third Position – the ability to communicate your vision.”

Actually, by taking the ThirdPosition that I am talking about in polarized debates, you lose your ability to communicate in polarized dichotomies. You must now communicate in multi-dimensional pluralities. You must consider multiple epistemologies, and you must consider the figure and ground through the minds of others. You have to start thinking about whyothers have polarized things in the way that they have. You have to start thinking about how they will respond 10 steps ahead for any argument or set of reasoning that you lay out.

But, you absolutely do not sacrifice the ability to communicate your vision. You simply communicate it in a different way.

Instead of demanding that you must come to my conclusion because it is the only possible plausible reality, you lay out why everyone has their different conclusions, and let people use that to come to their own conclusion.

btw, I really like ParadoxOfExpression.

Emile, I see what you mean, though I was not intending to create a new way to unite people who differ with both “sides”. Instead, I am trying to create more conceptual space, so that people can start to think more about thinking about things from a multiple epistemology viewpoint.

Don’t you think that there must exist sufficient control over a conversation, in order to even have a conversation?

Or is it the case that each and every conversation must admit unlimited participation, and every single assumption should be open to question?

I sense a DenialOfService attack in the making.

The structure of our problems is not in the human brain, (“let’s blame human nature,”) it’s even lower level than that– it’s in the very limitation of time & space & messaging. This is what I propose.

People hate being excluded from conversations, but it absolutely must happen if there are to be meaningful conversations at all. It’s a blessing that there is space between places in the material world. Things get more complicated when we get online, especially if we apply SoftSecurity.

Please show me wrong, know that I am committed to this conversation with you.

Abstractly, I intuit a structure here, a structure that can be elucidated.

Admitting participants to a discussion is admitting arguments to a discussion. Accepting and rejecting participants is the practice of SelectivelyOpenMinded, since Aristotle does not admit young people to talk politics with him- only those with practical knowledge.

What we are really accepting and rejecting is “what prejudices do you come with, that I do not have to waste my time arguing with?”

We all admit complexity and multi-dimensional ThirdPosition reasoning where we have faith in a stable background. But if someone tells us things that we find patently ridiculous, or otherwise not worthy of consideration, we ignore them.

They, of course, feel that this is grave injustice, and that the participants are full of it. They may then go off, and complain about the idiots, and argue in general for the ThirdPosition, as an ideal.

What they really need to do, is find people who argue at their location of understanding. (I believe. If the PassagesOfPerspective is to truly work, sans warfare.)

Libertarian Wingnuts operate in the ThirdPosition, when they argue within their own kind. Then we see the complexities, multiple dimensions, alternative theories, deep inner workings, and so on. (Incidentally: no, I’m not a Libertarian, in the USA sense of the word.) This is PassagesOfPerspective stuff, which I believe is essential background for this conversation that we are having.

I am trying to create more conceptual space, so that people can start to think more about thinking about things from a multiple epistemology viewpoint.

In many respects, this is an admission to the exercise of a control mechanism.

The critical things are: Where are you trying to create more conceptual space? Among whom? And for what purpose? Will your strategy work, or will it fail?

There are places where I (and you, though you may not know it yet) want to decrease the amount of conceptual space, and there are places where I (and clearly you) want to increase the amount of conceptual space.

A given conceptual space can be a bad thing, remember. We don’t want to distract the worlds scientists with a gigantic search for bigfoot.

It’s good that we are recognizing that there are control mechanisms behind conceptual space. But we can’t be saying, “Control mechanisms = bad.” We can’t be saying, “Always, categorically, in all situations, increasing conceptual space is what is right.” Conceptual space can only be finite, by the physical limits of conversation. Conceptual space in one place is conceptual space that could have been allocated elsewhere.

We cannot ignore these fundamental limits, the ConservationOfRationality.

I believe that we need to articulate an understanding, and I believe that your motivation + my reality will be able to produce a new realization about the larger context.

I have, so far, not seen any new understanding in the conversation so far; I’m entirely in “teaching” mode. But I think that your trajectory will enable us to find a new state of consciousness about this, and I want you to keep pushing this, so that we can discover what it is.

I intuit that the new state of consciousness exists in a new complexity, in a sort of articulation of the kinds of conversational forums that exists.

I can imagine the construction of a map of the kinds of conversational forums that exist, and a diagram of how conversations are structured: That there are assumptions, that there are open questions, that there are places where complexity is accepted, and so on.

From this map, we can start to argue for freedoms and ideal states, realizing that the ultimate goal is collective survival, the end of war, CollectiveIntelligence, the preservation of the workings of the PassagesOfPerspective, and so on. I believe that this is all articulate-able, and I believe that this is all worthy of pursuit.

We need to unlock this (or “a”) new state of consciousness. But it does not live in ignorance of limits and natural realities, though we may reject the state of things as they are now.

I need pictures of the PassagesOfPerspective, and the NooSphere.

DenialOfService Attack: Totally right, Lion. In fact, this shows something important about both polarized discourse (which I am totally not saying is the same thing as SelectivelyOpenMinded), and opening perspectives of multiple epistemologies, like I am suggesting with this ThirdPosition idea. What is shows is that any way of operating can become over-extended, and flip into something else totally. (see Tetrads Concept, that we talked about on the phone). So, if we go to an extreme of being totally open minded, we probably likely create the conditions for an inevitable DenialOfService Attack upon us. Yet, if we misapply or get over-zealous with being close-minded, or SelectivelyOpenMinded, it can flip into a state of polarization, and multiple distortions of reality for various reasons.So, conversely, in some cases, when the general discourse of a large culture becomes too polarized, it may need a period of DenialOfService Attacks, and other cultural-hacking drastic measures (think of when students decided to test the civil rights laws that were on the books in the south in the 1960’s, igniting the national civil rights movement). Sometimes when masses of people are locked into deeply polarized realities for too long, they need a wave of multiple epistemologies to create critical mass and tipping points for change (in my opinion only, of course).

A friend of mine from Australia, named Dr. Joe Voros, proposed what he called a “cross level analysis”. I’ll just call it WorldViewTransparency?. Basically it is communication that up front makes equally explicit your motivations and perceptual filters, and mine. (Voros also devised a system of notation that made it easy to create quick symbology to do this.) This is also related to LiteracyOfHumanNature EcosystemOfNetworks, too, at least in terms of having an easy way to say “I am talking about this type of network, or this way of solving problems”.

So, right up front, if there is a relatively easy way to make our world views and perceptual filters transparent, then, not only is it easier to be SelectivelyOpenMinded, but it is also potentially easier to communicate when you have in fact decided to engage someone. This can be the SocialNorm? of a group, and part of the transparency/trust “process”. Of course, people need a really good framework of worldviews for reference for reference. Also, one thing that I have neglected to incorporate here is how CausalLayeredAnalysis gives a framework for thinking about how people carry out conversations/communications. And, if we created a symbolic way to represent these layers, it could also inform communication. I think that it seems too hard at first to think about how to incorporate many epistemologies like this into discourse. The problem that I see is that we need frameworks and Theory that people can understand, and we need to actively employ those frameworks. Actively employing frameworks and theories is something that our human societies already do. Yet, we don’t do it all that well when it comes to being explicit about our fundamental assumptions about the world, our motivations, and thinking about the types of communication that we are talking about.

In wiki communities like CommunityWiki and Meatball, you can see one of the few places where people at least semi-regularly experiment with new social norms. So, this might be something worth experimenting with in some wiki community. Not necassarily saying that people should start running around and jumping into arguments declaring a “ThirdPosition”. But, rather, it might be interesting to experiment with creating frameworks around epistemologies/world views, social networks, and ways of communicating, and then creating social norms that allow people to make them more explicit in easy to understand ways.

Also in your example above: “A ThirdPosition candidate is something that you wish on an enemy, when you are in a US election, for example. There are good arguments that the Greens, who are on the left, spoiled the election for Gore, for example. Did the Greens aid discourse? Would we have a radically different world if Gore had won the election?”

I think you demonstrate that when there isn’t even room for a ThirdPosition, that the system itself is broken. So, in the example you gave above, a better option for all of us could have been Instant Runoff Voting, which would have allowed more room for more positions.

Similarly, as I am talking about above, the system might be “broken” when we don’t have a way that affords transparency about our worldviews and motivations (not to mention other signals of trust, such as if someone is just an outright troll, etc)

OK, but like Graves says, there are realities of environments, and like Robert Anton Wilson (I believe it was) says, we need to respect gestations, and so on.

There are also missions, and so on. When you’re on a mission, it’s not your job to talk to strangers. (And so on.) It’s a very complex equation.

I want to talk specifically about myself and CommunityWiki for a moment here: We are in our right to ignore anybody that we want to ignore, and to cease conversations with anybody that we don’t want to talk with. I can exercise my RightToLeave, and carry a dependable number of people off with me, at any point that I want to. At the level of the globe, there are things that can force themselves into my attention. That we use SoftSecurity here is presently a gift to the world; Sadly, the world views it as an invitation to be trounced on, and then disdained (perhaps even sarcastically, by way of obsequious behavior,) if we decide to exclude. I am seriously considering that SoftSecurity is a mistake, and that it is an open invitation into a circle, and that it does hurt people; That it is impossible to let some people in without hurting others. If this is true, then we have a clear explanation for why HardSecurity is a moral good and a must for communities that have sufficiently formed.

The idea that it is OK to exclude people with physical laws and people-to-phone lists, but not OK to exclude people by lists on a wiki page, is absurd to me, but I can see that there may be deeper reasons why the situation works like this. Whether this is a system that will adapt to the world, or the world will adapt to this reality, is not clear to me presently.

It would not be unreasonable to consider that perspectives operate similarly like the acceptance of people. That is, that there are similar walls in thinking, that are necessary for the proper functioning of thinking.

I think that we need to unify these systems: perspectives, ideas, and people, since we are considering TheHumanAsaMedium – how amending the constitution requires the same vote weight as admitting a new voter, how discriminating a person to a conversation is the same as discriminating the kinds of ideas you are willing to entertain, and the kinds of ideas that you are not willing to entertain.

This is true regardless of whether we talk of articulated “exclusion lists” or not; If I am uninterested in a person, I just don’t become their friend. I have no interest in hearing someone talk about baseball for long periods of time, and I simply do not become friends with people who perform that behavior, ThirdPosition be damned. Nor does it matter if they’re in my general line of thought: I love stars, I do not consider Astrologers. Forced to attend Astrology conferences, I would become angry, subversive, perhaps even physically violent, or worst: die inside, or even worse: give in, and become an astrology nut. (This is the death and end of the PassagesOfPerspective.)

I can imagine a global cybernetic system that forces things into my (and others’) attention, justly, against my preference. But it would have to be well thought out, and I have never seen such a system detailed that is clearly fair.

Whatever we make on this page, I want to be assured that it is not made into a weapon that is used to force viewpoints into perspectives, viewpoints that are unwanted, because they are flat-out idiocy, or immature, or advertisement (spam,) or not relevant to the agenda, and so on. Not unless it’s part of a super-advanced line of thinking that can decide when and when not it is okay to force a line of thought, in a way that is unambiguously just. In the near-time-frame of, say, 10-20 years, I have difficulty imagining such a development being completed. I am not presently aware of any theories that even attempt to perform such a thing.

So this page simply must be balanced, and it cannot exist as it does now, way out of balance, speaking glowingly of the ThirdPosition, for all things, and not even mentioning the dark side of the ThirdPosition. It’s as if it didn’t even have one, as it’s written right now.

Part of what you’re saying, (that we strongly agree on,) I’m going to work into a page on OpenTheory.

(You’ll see what I mean.)

This is a very complicated. I don’t like the term “third position”. I wrote about a similar idea: and use the picture of a “bridge” which connects positions A and B to move between them, in attempts to mediate e. g. between two conflicting perspectives, to seek common ground, an overlapping field of interests or a basis for common activities. I think that such goals are often valid, even necessary, in unproductive discussions or conflicts. But this doesn’t mean that a third, better perspective can be built mechanically by seeking some “middle” position. It’s more of an attitude, in inclination to peace or comprimise, or a wish to improve commnuication. There may be general strategies, e. g. to attack the perceived “truth” of both positions (to look at the quality or status of the views, truths or knowledge involved), or to look for perspectives of position A that may be acceptable to B but have not been looked at (to grow sympathies between the parties), or discuss methods or tests for the parties to agree upon (when they are unable to agree on facts or results).

I very much like Popper’s view of science, although over the years I think it is too strict. I do not know Kuhn’s view, so I can’t comment on the conflict. I think that Alexander offers an alternative scientific method which is somewhat conflicting with Popper and it may well be that Kuhn’s arguments are overlapping with Alexander. But I don’t think that the duck-rabbit picture does tell us anything, it is not even a good example of a gestalt-issue, because there is no sepcific detail-whole misunderstanding that their different perception is based on. It’s not clear that Popper and Kuhn look at the same scientific process detail and just don’t find the language to understand that they are in agreement.

I think a better example for such a conflict is the Christian-Islamic “clash of cultures”. It seems quite clear that bridging is necessary. It is also clear that there is no “third religious position” which can fill to role to provide an aceptable consensual view. The ThirdPosition can, in this case at least but probably in most cases, only be a position of mediation.

Lion, you should not be subjected to a tyranny of any type, from any position. Nor should you be forced to endure people, or change your thinking because of social norms like SoftSecurity.

Cooperation, Collaboration, group discourse and group discussion is and should be voluntary from all sides.

I should not be able to use SoftSecurity, ThirdPosition, SelectivelyOpenMinded, or any other concept as a weapon, or a way to create a tyranny over you or anyone else, and bend you to my will.

That being said, I think that it’s not that important to me to keep ThirdPosition as a page in CommunityWiki. The whole page could dissappear and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings. I am personally more engaged with the conversation and thinking that has emerged in the discussion about it, than the actual page itself.

I think we should maybe ultiamtely kill this ThirdPosition page, and think about taking some insights from it, and plugging them into existing pages that they are related to, or some other page that could not be potentially weaponized in the future.

Maybe we can leave some kind of Wiki Epitaph here that points to those pages? The actual content of the page itself can be removed, though. Or, maybe something can exist that gives a quick idea of what the page was about, perhaps.

I think those are all good ideas and suggestions.

I am now asking myself: “What now?”

We… talked about so much on this page, it’s hard to say what, really, we want to have come out of it.

Maybe it’ll just float like so much CommunityLore, and then we’ll build the fruit into other pages, as they come?

Or maybe we should actually concretely airlift something, (or somethings,) out of here? Reworked, or expanded on, or integrated into something else, or, ..?

Lion, maybe we can leave it up only long enough to move what we want out of it. Although, when I read people’s reactions to this page, it becomes important for me to understand why people are reacting the way that they are to the idea.

Helmut, I chose the name “ThirdPosition” based upon the theory of CausalLayeredAnalysis.

The dialogue in highly polarized debates tends to be at the “litany” level in CausalLayeredAnalysis terms. The name “ThirdPosition” is speaking from this litany position.

The thing about dialogue is that it often does not start out very highly polarized. Instead, what often happens is that it builds up over time. In group setting (where the dialogue is not just individual-to-individual), small biases in individuals lead to almost total polarization over time. This can be displayed in agent based models, similar to Schelling's segregation model, but with dimensions for a few agents who are “champions” of a certain viewpoint, and a bias towards viewpoints instead of similar color.

It is amazing, when discourse is primarily at the “litany level”, in CausalLayeredAnalysis terms, how similar dynamics can be to these simple agent based models like the one I describe above. Of course, humans have the ability to create much deeper dialogue. But, when the dialogue is at the litany level, and when people become highly entrenched in polarized views over time, I have found that you must use litany language to change the frame, or people thinking and talking at the litany layer will not hear what you say.

Changing the frame literally means removing the hegemonic assertion that this is even a debate at all, by deconstructung the framing that made it seen by so many people as a “debate” with two sides. This also means simultaneosly giving some kind of “space” that allows dialogue and discuourse at deeper “layers” (namely, the second, third, and fourth layer in CausalLayeredAnalysis).

It is relatively easy to create dialogue horizontally in the first and second layers of CausalLayeredAnalysis. It is more difficult to get it to span across layers 1-4.

This is why I pretty much totally disagree with Lion that what I have here is “cheerleading” the ThirdPosition. I do not see how what I wrote is cheerleading, or saying that a ThirdPosition is always better. But, it is always better in cases where there is an impasse that is caused by polarization.

Nowhere in the page above does it say anything like “Control mechanism= bad”. Instead, it says that when one control mechanism is not working (polarized debate at the litany level), that you can reframe and re-order knowledge. it should be a given that it is not always the “best way”. But many of your arguments against ThirdPosition are not arguments against what I am talking about, Lion. They are arguments against what you think people will distort what I am talking about into. They are arguments against “weaponization of…” (in this case ThirdPostion?).

Lion writes:

People hate being excluded from conversations, but it absolutely must happen if there are to be meaningful conversations at all. It’s a blessing that there is space between places in the material world. Things get more complicated when we get online, especially if we apply SoftSecurity.

Please show me wrong, know that I am committed to this conversation with you.

Lion, you are not wrong.

But, you may be in the wrong environment for creating and sustaining the stable ground that you have talked about in this discussion and elsewhere.

For instance, take a look at

There are years and years of fascinating conversations there, carried on by thousands of people from a massive diversity of backgrounds, all over the world.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? It IS great! So, check it out! Oh, but wait, you can’t check it out, because there is space between you and it.

This space allows people to have some remarkable and extremely rich conversations, to build up trust widespread trust, to carry on multi-dimensional dialogue, to be MORE THAN SelectivelyOpenMinded, because the issue of people coming along with “flat-out idiocy, or immature, or advertisement (spam,) or not relevant to the agenda” content is reduced. I have been in that space for close to five years now. It also has very occasional and rare conflicts, but it has ways of resolving them, too.

The CommunityWiki space is open. So, therefore it is on comparitively unstable ground. You need to be able to “embrace chaos” to make it work. I can see, based on what you are writing here and elsewhere, that for your intenttions, it’ll be hard for you to embrace chaos in a potentially destabilized environment, Lion.

It is my recommendation for you, Lion, after reading about the issues that you’ve described here, and elsewhere in CommunityWiki, that an open wiki is not the best virtual community collaboration tool choice for your mission and agenda. I recommend instead a closed wiki or other ProjectSpace, that is only editable, and maybe even only accessible, with a password. The output could be published publicly on a periodical basis for feedback from the greater world. But, the day-to-day should be password-only, and access perhaps invitation-only.

Well, I’m seriously considering that, and so is (or at least, “has,”) Sunir, on MeatballWiki, and so has AlexSchroeder, and so have a lot of us.

It may mean that SoftSecurity means that you will have to be mean to people, systematically, to get them to go away. If that is true, then we have made a serious (either) discovery (or choice) about SoftSecurity.

I have not made a choice yet, but it’s very interesting to hear your perspective on this.


This conversation is now about a community issue.

Nrr… But the more I think about this, the more complexity I see.

It can also be a distraction from pulling some threads out of the main part of this conversation.

For example, I now see “the legitimacy of making assumptions, and refusing to hear questions about them from the untrusted,” as a thread that could use elaboration in a separate page. ValueOfUnquestionableAssumptions?, for example. It would shed some light into the paradox of: “Well, it’s valuable to be questionable over all, around the world, but not necessarily valuable within a particular operation, or conversation, or simultation, or…

I definitely do not see the value in making the wiki not accessible. We aren’t talking about things that need to be private, here, and I’m not harmed very much by making a fool of myself here. (To date, at least!) The benefits of being accessible have faaar outweighed the value of being inaccessible: I point to these pages from all over the Internet. And this has been super-valuable.

If we locked edits, I hope that we would only do so partially: “Thank you for your edit! Someone will be approving it, shortly. Please provide your email address here, if you’d like an email if your edit was rejected, explaining why.” (“We rejected your edit, because it’s spamming on subject X. Remove the spam, recommit your edit, and we’ll reconsider.” There is ideological or project spam, that is not like viagra spam…) I don’t see why we would need to go even firmer than that, if we even went that firm.

ValueOfUnquestionableAssumptions? is a good thread to take away from this. Because, of course, there is definitely a type of order that will probably work better for different dialogue/conveersation in different contexts, etc. And, the what you’ve been proposing in CommunityWiki is totally reasonable, but may not be scaleable in some contexts. (Although, then again, we haven’t even had a chance to test it out, or to test out the open environment with CommunityWikiGovernment.)

About the second thread Community issue thread: I actually would keep the content open and readable. You’re right, there is pretty much nothing here that needs non-disclosure. And, you could make a kind of community gatekeeping system that basically asks people to apply for the ability to freely join the conversation and thus receive a password. Or, to make their edit, and wait or approval from the community, or editors, or whomever fills that role.

Thought that just popped into my head about the Community issue thread: What if there are open and closed environments for the same community?

The third layer of CausalLayeredAnalysis is more concerned with modern socratic dialogue (MSD), which is concerned with rational understanding. This is where I see Lion coming from. Or, at least one fo the roots of where I see you coming from. MSD is probably going to be far more fruitful in closed and/or controlled/moderated environment. Although, it has been a damned interesting experiment to see people try to do it in totally open environments :).

Perhaps an chaotic Open space is better for something like Wikipedia:Bohm_Dialogue ? Which actually is close to level 4 communication in CausalLayeredAnalysis, the MythMetaphor level. Bohmian dialogue is more concerned with attention than understanding. It is a better suited dialogue for open environments. It lends itself better to a collective group meditative excercise, to a collective understanding. Because, it draws out from the area before we get to understanding, from the mythic, the collective archetypes, and the unconscious. This is a space for understanding, but with a different frame around communication. It doesn’t matter if this space is open. It is because this space, this 4th layer in CausalLayeredAnalysis, is a “RadicalHermeneutic?” perspective. Nothing at this level of dialogue is regarded as “truth or untruth”. Because, it is all myth/metaphor/unconscious.

Helmut, sorry that I slipped by you. I think you are right about the diagram above. It really only explains the particular Kuhn vs. Popper debate, and only if you know the whole backstory behind it.

I wonder if Kuhn’s work has any connection to Christopher Alexander? I didn’t realize that Alexander was the origin of the whole “Pattern Language” meme that you find in different wiki realms. But, now I’ve found all of the pages about him on Meatball and WardsWiki.

I am very intrigued about Alexander, but have not yet got a chance to really dig into his work and build an understanding about it.

I can tell you about Kuhn. He wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and wrote in general about the philosophy and history of science.

Kuhn’s biggest idea was found in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, where he explained that science does not progress in a linear way, but rather that it undergoes periodic revolutions, or what he called “paradigm shifts”. Kuhn is the origin of the word “paradigm”, and he used it to talk about the evolution of science. Kuhn also explained that these paradigm frameworks in science tend to be “incommensurable”, meaning that you can’t understand one paradigm through the conceptual framework of another paradigm. This clashed with Popper’s view of rational science reality, because Kuhn’s assertion was basically saying that there was no way to rationally compare rival theories and decide which one was better. There was a famous debate between the two a long time ago. Kuhn also said that, although Popper was logically right about falsifiability in science, there was little evidence in their day that scientists were actual following a “falsificationist methodology”.

Kuhn also coined the term “Normal Science”, which he used to refer to the normal puzzle solving, theory extending, and articulating of existing theories. Kuhn saw that the main area of growth in science was in the “Normal Science” work. Popper asserted that the main area of growth in science was in the overthrow and replacement of existing theories.

I see this as basically very similar to the growth of conversations, and so on.

You need periods where the conversation can progress smoothly, come to fruition, without overthrow and replacement, and then you need periods where older assumptions are put into doubt. This new conversation, of course, has many things which are not put into doubt: There is no conversation, where everything is put into (equal) doubt.

“Conversation” can be 3 people talking for 10 minutes, “conversation” can be 10 people talking for 5 years, “conversation” can be 100 people talking for 20 years, and so on.

(And, I suspect you already see things this way, and already agree.)

Actually, I hadn’t really thought about it in the context “Conversations”. But it definitely makes sense.

People have “Paradigms” in conversation, kind of like Kuhn’s “scientific paradigms”. I agree that conversation can have many temporal spans.

It seems like in some more loose conversation, these paradigms can really run up against each other right away at times, though. At least until the people conversing can find some common framework of reference (theory) to communicate through.


Define external redirect: ThirdSpace SocialNorm WorldViewTransparency FalseMiddle ValueOfUnquestionableAssumptions ThirdPostion RadicalHermeneutic

EditNearLinks: RightToLeave DenialOfService WardsWiki HardSecurity PageDatabase MeatballWiki GoodFaith HeatedAgreement SilentMajority