• AMMDI is an open-notebook hypertext writing experiment, authored by Mike Travers aka @mtraven. It's a work in progress and some parts are more polished than others. Comments welcome! More.
Incoming links
from stance/meaningness
    • Stances Trump Systems

      • Stances are simple, compelling patterns of thinking and feelings concerning meaningness. For example: “I’m an ordinary guy,” or “the only real purpose in life is to squeeze as much pleasure out of it as you can before you die,” or “good people follow the rules,”
      • Systems are big, complicated things with lots of details you are supposed to believe and do. Systems have salespeople, who argue passionately in their favor.
      • Stances are very simple, and don’t require any specific beliefs or practices. No one explicitly promotes them. You pick them up automatically from our cultural “thought soup.”
      • Stances sound like they are instruments of practical intelligent action, whereas systems are more like beliefs. So stances “trump” systems in exactly the way that embodied cognition trumps abstract reasoning – they are prior, more powerful, and consequentially where more of the interesting stuff happens.
      • Another way of saying this is that stances are largely unconscious/nonverbal whereas systems are inherently expressed and transmitted through language
      • Confused stances are insidious, because they are unnoticed. Because no one argues for them, no one argues against them. They are memes, mental viruses that people propagate by talking, without awareness of them.
      • Of course systems and stances can be related. Chapman expresses this oddly:
      • Systems can help stabilize particular stances.
      • Using Christianity and eternalism as examples. Whereas I might naively have said that they create or promote or teach stances. The choice of language implies that the stances are prior to the ideology, metaphysically upstream.
    • Stances are unstable

      • A long example of someone cycling through many stances in the course of a single speech, meant to illustrate that stances, unlike beliefs, are tools we apply for particular purposes in particular situations, not things we permanently subscribe to. This seems to be both a feature
      • This instability [how one confused stance leads to another] is one reason stances trump systems. No matter how determined you are to stick to a system, the stances connected with it are likely to slide out from under you.
      • And a bug:
      • you can catch yourself sliding from one to another like this. The flip-flopping is often accompanied by anxiety, which can produce rebellious negativity or fake sweetness. Those are clues you are caught up in a confused stance.
      • Here stances trump systems in the sense of undermining or overruling them.
      • The antidotes to this whole process are the complete stances. Unfortunately, they too are unstable. They are unstable not because they fail to fit reality, but because they don’t offer the emotional pay-offs the confused stances do.
      • But you can work on stabilizing the complete stances. That seems to be the only way forward out of this amorphous morass of confused stances.
    • nebulosity/eternalism/fixation/denial
      • The nebulosity of meaningness causes various problems: practical, social, and psychological. (Much of this book describes such problems.) Often, people would like to get rid of nebulosity, or pretend that it is not there.
      • Confused stances are attitudes to meaningness that refuse to acknowledge nebulosity. One strategy is to fixate meanings, attempting to deny their nebulosity by trying to make them solid, eternal, and unambiguous. Another is to deny meaningfulness altogether, or to say that it is not important, or cannot be known.
      • Because meaningness is both nebulous and real, these confused stances fail, and cause new, worse problems.
      • Complete stances acknowledge nebulosity, and its inseparable partner, pattern.
      • I can barely imagine what it's like to be an eternalist, I'm so far on the other side of the spectrum. So I don't find myself committing those errors very often, whereas I'm very prone to fall into nihilism.
    • Confused stances come in pairs / no middle way
      • In fact, it’s usually impossible to find a “middle” position anyway. In each pair of confused stances, one categorically denies what the other fixates.
      • For instance, the stance of true self holds that there is a mysterious essence of the person; the stance of selflessness holds that there is none. The reality of selfness might be described as “between” these extremes, once it is found. But “in the middle” is not a helpful hint for where to look. What is halfway between existence and non-existence?1
      • Fictional existance? We are the characters in the stories we tell. Like Sherlock Holmes, not quite real but not nothing either. See living fictions
      • This section too contrasts a sort of muddled compromise with something better (the complete stance).
from imperturbability
  • As a stance, related to meditation. But where meditation is the seeking of stillness, 'pataphysics has it baked into its definition.
from Sloterdijk
  • Rage and Time (cf Rage stance)
from nihilism
  • Nihilism is maybe not the best label for the subject, since it sounds like an ideology like communism (and at one point it actually was). But here at least it actually more like the negation of all values (and hence all ideology). It makes more sense as a stance or inescapable feeling than as a kind of system one can devote oneself to, like socialism.
from Martin Buber
  • I had a guest post up at ribbonfarm, which turned out to be a conceptual salad of Martin Buber, cognitive psychology, the culture of Asperger's, and social media. The word stance is used.
from goddinpotty/TODOs
  • DONE Bug sidenotes in backlinks come out badly, should probably just omit. Example on page Meaningness, there's a backlink from stance
from Deleuze
  • The discussion of conceptual personae (eg a philosopher as a friend to concepts) is kind of interesting, vaguely similar to stance but that is less intellectual.
from nihilism
  • Meaningness has a lot to say about nihilism. It's one side of the false dichotomy he aims to overcome (eternalism being the opposite error). To him, it's a stance, a posture people take towards the problem of making sense of their lives. He provides a detailed story about the dynamics of the nihilist stance; why people fall into it; how they escape out of it.
from animism
  • The belief or stance that various things not normally thought of as agent-like are alive in some sense, perhaps contain an animating spirit. Animism used to be the human default; and while modernism and science have done their best to eliminate it, it just won't go away that easily.
from Engineers of Human Souls
  • What about the original usage, that is, writers as soul-engineers? I can see many of the most creative novelists in that light. They are exploring the architecture of the self, their characters often represent various stances the self can take to the world – this is kind of soul-engineering. Writers like David Foster Wallace or Vonnegut don't just tell a story, they construct an entire stance of their own, a stance which is somehow shared with their readers. To the extent this construction is deliberate, maybe it is a kind of engineering.
from Heidegger on the Connection between Nihilism, Art, Technology and Politics
  • Kierkegaard defines the self as a relation that relates itself to itself. That means that who I am depends on the stand I take on being a self.. see stance!
from Phil Agre
  • One of my main influence s. I learned a lot from Phil, who despite being a grad student in an engineering department seemed to have read widely in philosophy, sociology, and other exotic subjects. But the main lesson he taught was a stance-related thing; that one could do technical work while at the same time having a rigorously critical attitude about the work, the field, and society. Probably his essay Towards a Critical Technical Practice is the best explicit articulation of this, but it's a quality that comes through in much of his work.
from Awkwardness
  • Not a stance, but clearly related. It's a mode of stance failure perhaps.
Twin Pages


06 Mar 2021 01:04 - 19 Jul 2022 01:12

    • By stance I mean a particular way in which a person approaches the world. A stance is more than a set of ideas, it's a way of holding yourself. It's a very general concept; there are some related terms that roughly match the abstraction it's trying to pick out: "role", "mindset", "style". But stance has an interesting built-in connection to physical embodiment. The realities of our material existence dictate that we have or are bodies, and those bodies have to assume some kind of stance in the ordinary moments of life, consciously or not. We can't not be in a stance. The terms "attitude" and "posture" also share this quality, a mental quality that with a metaphorical grounding in the body.
    • This idea of a stance is partly inspired by David Chapman aka Meaningness who defines a stance as "a simple, compelling pattern of thinking and feeling". One his important points is that stances trump systems, that is, people's deepest beliefs are best thought of not so much as systematic ideas, but instead as attitudes or patterns of attitudes. Chapman is talking about something fairly specific: "patterns of thinking and feeling about meaningness", where meaningness is his neologism for "problems of value, purpose, and selfhood". His stances are defined in terms of large-scale philosophical positions like nihilism and eternalism. (see stance/meaningness for my attempt to understand his concept of stance).
    • My take on stance is a bit different; whereas Chapman has a very precise and worked out theory of stances, my own is more haphazard and trying to encompass as larger domain. Partly because I'm not sure that in real life people really operate on the basis of such abstract philosophical ideas. Nihilism, eg, is a stances towards an abstracted everything, and most people aren't that abstract in their thinking. But they do take stances towards the circumstances of everyday life – that much is an obligatory part of existing. Under that definition, "stance" can include things like how you present yourself in business or personal contexts, how you approach work challenges, or structuring your free time.
    • This may not actually be that different from Chapman-stances. He's trying to describe their abstract underpinnings; I'm more interested in their particular manifestations. For example: professions or trades tend to have a characteristic stance. In medicine, doctors and nurses are supposed to be caring and compassionate as well as knowledgeable and efficient. More than in most fields, there is explicit acknowledgement of the importance of stance, and explicit training in how to achieve it.
    • Stances as I see them are not the product of this metaphysical operations of negation and affirmation, but just something people do on a day to day basis. Everybody cobbles together their own peculiar stance; it's an activity with deep embeddings in a social matrix and needs to be thought of as such.
    • Stance, like agency, is One of Those Big Topics that I find myself attracted to it because it is capable of encompassing so much, but it's difficult to write about something so general. The only hope is to collect various aspects and illustrations and facets, and try to organize them somewhat, and hope that the act of doing so will be useful at least to myself. That's my meta-stance!
    • Stances, a Catalog
    • Erving Goffman
      • Every person lives in a world of social encounters, involving him either in face-to-gace or mediated contact with other participants. In each of these contacts, he tends to act out what is sometimes called a line – that is, a pattern of verbal and nonverbal acts by which he expresses his view of the situation and through this his evaluation of the participants, especially himself. Regardless of whether a person intends to take a line, he will find that he has done so in effect.
        • From On Face-Work: An Analysis of the Ritual Elements in Social Interaction
    • Gender roles
      • Let's just state the obvious: genders are themselves stances, as well as roles and identities and more. They involve taking certain positions to the world. Or maybe they are basic elements of stance that other stances include as components (eigenstances).
      • More than most, gender performances are assumed for the sake of a certain presumed audience. I haven't talked much elsewhere about the audience for a stance, thinking that it's mainly a performance for oneself; that's almost part of the defining characteristic of a stance. But gender in particular is always done for the sake of the other gender, it's a 2-part dance, not a solo performance.
      • This is not to slight gay, queer, trans, or other variations on gender roles; those are obviously heavy with stance implications of their own. My point (which may be crushingly obvious), is that you can't get out of taking some stance even if you have new freedoms about what stances are allowed to you.
    • The Writer's Stance (Ong?)
    • Impro