Shared dogma and metahumans
You might be more familiar with the word “narrative” than “dogma”. I really dislike narrative as a word for various reasons, but here isn’t what I want to talk about.
By dogma, I mean “the current set of concepts our sense of the world gets translated into”, but if you can’t deal with such vague nonsense, you may content yourself with: “the framework by which individuals understand the world”.
People build their understanding of the world through their own personal experience, which is always unique. It’s not a fiction, you bath in reality, confronting your expectations to your experience, constructing a constantly changing model of the inherently inscrutable physical world.
A dogma is a collection of concepts. What I call concept is very vague and fuzzy, won’t be able to put nice letters on it. But I’ll try anyway.
There is no such things as a chair (to be honest, this video inspired the last 4 posts). No platonic ideal chair. There isn’t even a chair in your head. There is, however, a bunch of knowledge that share some connections. From this, when you see the word “chair”, this cluster of knowledge gets partially activated, and in your head, a minimal chair relevant to the current context gets created.
From this description, it does seem unlikely that we are ever able to talk about anything. Not only each person has a different idea of what a “chair” is, but also an individual person may have a drastically different idea of what a “chair” is depending on the context.
But it is this same context that let us communicate. With you, when I talk about chairs, I talk about your “chair”. Maybe I do a poor job of imagining your “chair”, but as a human, I can’t do it in any other way, this is part of language. Each communication is bidirectional. Even in disagreement, we implicitly agree, just talking with someone is turning yourself a little bit into the other person.
So maybe, there is a floaty purely statistical thing that you could call the concept of a chair. Things do not exist, there are only models of the world, attributing agency to purely abstract entities. Therefore, the concept of a shared chair exists.
It is the sum of all potential “chairs” created in conversation between people. Unlike a platonic ideal, the shared chair constantly evolve, is defined as a statistical average of unmeasurable values, and never ever can be reached.
A shared concept
A shared concept. A collection of shared concept is a shared dogma. Please remember, this is an abstraction based on the law of large numbers that itself describes a set of abstractions of a fuzzy idea.
Why a shared dogma? Because each of us only have a tinny window into the world to understand it. Sharing concepts enables us to integrate all our tinny windows and update our concepts so that it accounts for a larger fraction of the world. So that each of us individually have a better model of the world.
A culture as a thing
Things do not exist, there are only models of the world, attributing agency to purely abstract entities. Therefore, culture exists. Do I really need to justify the transition from shared dogma to culture? I think you knew what I was talking about.
A set of people has agency, and impact on the world, the same way a single person does.
Is a shared dogma meaningfully different from an individual dogma? Is the set of people more than a person?
Yes. Our dogma is informed by our tinny window, emotions and communication. Emotion only enters indirectly in shared dogma.
We share the world with a lot of things that has a dogma and is not human. Those things, like us, have agency in the world, modifies it. Learns from it and update their dogma.
We are blind to them, because they do not enter in our tinny window of the world, they do not have a physical form, which is what our senses read. But they exist, and affect our lives.
Groups of people, private companies, governments. They are metahuman entities, they exist as our shared understanding of the world. The metahumans do not have emotions, they only see the world through us, their sense of human life entirely depends on how they update their dogma.
Our constitutions, our culture, corporate rules, contracts, the way we construct metahumans is what dictates how they update their dogma.
Metahumans might be more powerful than humans alone, but they are dangerous creatures. Like genies or C programs, they are very fickle beasts, do exactly as you specified, but you have no idea what you specified, in this case, you didn’t even know you specified anything.
As we can control how metahumans update their dogmas, they may also control how we update ours. In this way, the metahuman becomes an agent in the world.
In this way they might transform us into tools, mere objects to be used and discarded. Some of them may have zero sense of a human life or even despise it.
Maybe I can convey this better.
Termites, ants, bees. They form a colony, and collectively are more than their part. But has anyone asked a bee how it is going? Maybe to them, the hive has as much meaning that “society” has to us. Of course, we are the result of the process of evolution, like bees. And it is very likely that we are hooked to listen to our peers because the metahuman is more than each of us, evolution favoring humans that create metahumans.
We coexist and interact with metahumans. Metahumans are not human, do not necessarily share our feelings, we can’t expect from them empathy or reciprocity. They may not only harm you (as the anthill may harm the soldier ant) they may harm humans as a whole. This all depends on the metahuman in question. Ask yourself what you are dealing with. How are the metahuman’s representations of the world updated? As an entity, what is its purpose, and which tool does it use to transform that purpose, internal will, into agency in the world (how does it manipulate the world?).
Metahumans are dangerous, they are like software programs written by accident. We need to be aware of them, defend ourselves against them, and change them from the inside.