Being Patient With Machines
Patience is a great thing, but we can’t be expecting patience from a machine! Machines always exemplify the exact opposite principle – machines always ‘want’ the next thing that is programmed to happen (or the next thing that their structure requires to happen) to actually go ahead and happen. That’s all that a machine ‘cares about’ – that the thing which is supposed to happen goes ahead as planned and happens. From the machine-like point of view, there is never a good reason for things not to happen the way they are supposed to happen. There is never a good reason for the specified outcome not to happen, and there is always a very good reason for it to happen. If we understand this then we understand machines…
This is really just a way of saying that the machine is a kind of rule therefore – rules are abstract things it is true, but in a machine rules find their concrete expression. A machine is a ‘physical codification’ of one or more rules and there is never any more to a machine than this; if there was more to a machine than this then it would no longer be a machine. We can therefore say that ‘rules are inpatient’ or that ‘rules embody the exact opposite principle to patience’ but this is so laughably obvious as to be hardly worth saying. Rules require a specific outcome to be obtained (or for a specific thing to happen) and there is never any ‘excuse’ (as far as the rule is concerned) for this not happening.
Rules are the very essence of what we might call extrinsic meaning – i.e. ‘meaning that is imposed from without’. The ‘meaning’ of a rule is that we should do what it says we should do; the ‘meaning’ that motivates our behaviour where we are living within the context of a ‘world’ that is made up of rules is the meaning of fulfilling whatever the law operating on a says we should be doing! To be able to obey the rule, and to actually go right ahead and do this, is what we see as being meaningful when we are adapted to the machine-like world. We call this ‘attaining our goals’. Mechanical worlds are entirely made up of structure – they are made up of structure and nothing else (as not even a trace of anything else) and the sense of meaning that we experience when we inhabit one of these deterministic realms is the ‘meaning’ of being able to enact this structure.
‘Enacting the structure’ means being the structure and so instead of saying that ‘the rule-based world requires us to act out the structure or the rules that are inherent in it’ we could simply say that the determinate world ‘requires us to be it’. This is a very straightforward thing to understand therefore – the machine world (the world that is based entirely upon the principle of extrinsic order, which is the type of order that is imposed from without) has only one requirement of us and that is that we should do whatever the rules say we should do (and not do whenever they say we shouldn’t do). We are required to enact the rules making up the determinate world and the world in question is its rules – there’s nothing else to it, as we have just said. ‘Enacting the rules’ means that we conform exactly to the extrinsic order that is being imposed on us such that there is no aspect of us that hasn’t been so determined. We become the structure, we become the determinate world (or machine) therefore.
That’s the first thing we can say about this process and the second thing we can say about it is that we never see the process happening and that we don’t know therefore that we have become ‘the determinate system’. We can’t know this because we don’t have any terms of reference by which to see it; we don’t have any other way of seeing things other than way that the system itself has provided us with and so we can’t see the system to be the system. We can’t see the system to be the system and we can’t see that ‘we aren’t system’ (or that ‘the system isn’t us’). When we adapt to the system then we become the system and so we have absolutely no way of knowing either that this process of identification has taken place, or that who we think we are isn’t us.
If we wanted to say that there was such a thing as ‘a basic principle’ as regards the psychology of everyday life, then this would undoubtedly have to be it – ‘the Principle of Identification’. The fact that psychology as a discipline does not ever mention this process, does not mention this principle, shows very clearly that the basis which contemporary psychology rests upon is the basis that we are the mechanical self, the basis that this determinate mode of being is our ‘ultimate identity’, the identity beyond which we should never look’ Modern psychology is therefore ‘the psychology of the false or mechanical self’; the fact that no other way of looking at things is ever touched upon indicates that no other aspect of ourselves (i.e. who we actually are) is ever acknowledged!
The mechanical self is – needless to say – the self which is entirely governed by mechanical rules. It has no freedom in it, in other words – it is a clockwork toy that has been wound up and then released to make its way across the living room carpet as best it can, faithfully doing whatever it has been programmed to do. Its trajectory in life is a predetermined trajectory; its trajectory through life is a wholly mechanical one. Because we are enacting the structure that is the mechanical self, and because there is nothing in the mechanical self that is not structure (because it is all that it is 100% structure and nothing else) this means there is nothing of our true nature in this mechanical formulation of who we are. There’s nothing of us in it because our ‘true nature’ is not structural or rule-based. Reality itself is not a structure, not an outcome of certain rules operating and so ‘identification with the mechanical self’ not only means that we are alienated for our true nature, it also means that we are alienated from reality itself.
Reality (or ‘our true nature’) is not the outcome of a set of rules for the simple reason that ‘rules come out of reality, rather than vice versa’. Structures exist in space, rather than vice versa. Structure is always ‘secondary to space’ (rather than ‘space being a function of structure’). If we were to claim that space is a function of structure then this is the same thing as claiming that ‘freedom comes out rules’ (rather than seeing that it is actually the other way round) and who would be crazy enough to say this? It is because our nature is spacious that we can be patient. The mechanical self – after all – can never possess this virtue. It is because our nature is spacious that we can be patient with machines; machines – on the other hand – can never be patient with us.