Monday, 22 May 2017

Toomas Karmo (Part B): Philosophy of Perception, Action, and "Subjectivity"

Quality assessment:  

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his  grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3/5 is "mediocre pass", 4/5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 4/5. Justification: There was enough time to write out the  necessary points to reasonable length. 

Revision history:
  • UTC=20170523T1449Z/version 2.2.0: Kmo corrected a mistake in his discussion of the complex plane, changing the unintended "<a.c - b.d, a.c + b.d>" into the intended "<a.c - b.d, b.c + a.d>". He reserved the right to make  further tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, changes over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.2.1, 2.2.2, 2.2.3, ... .
  • UTC=20170523T1436Z/version 2.1.0: Kmo improved the "Debian Precept" discussion by adding a hyperlink to the Debian Social Contract. He reserved the right to make  further tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, changes over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3, ... .
  • UTC=20170523T0230Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo finished converting the point-form outline into coherent sentences, and started a process of polishing. He reserved the right to make  further tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, changes over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.0.1, 2.0.2, 2.0.3, ... .
  • UTC=20170523T0001Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo had time to upload just a (reasonably polished) point-form outline. He hoped to convert this, through a series of uploads, into coherent full-sentences prose over the coming 4 hours.]

[CAUTION: A bug in the blogger server-side software has in some past weeks shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some points in some of my posted essays. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "Posted by Toomas (Tom) Karmo at" appears. - The blogger software has also shown a propensity to generate HTML that is formatted in different ways on different client-side browsers, perhaps with some browsers not correctly reading in the entirety of the "Cascading Style Sheets"  (CSS) which on all ordinary Web servers control the browser placement of margins, sidebars, and the like. If you suspect CSS problems in your particular browser, be patient: it is probable that while some content has been shoved into some odd place (for instance, down to the bottom of your browser, where it ought to appear in the right-hand margin), all the server content has been pushed down into your browser in some place or other. - Finally, there may be blogger vagaries, outside my control, in font sizing or interlinear spacing. - Anyone inclined to help with trouble-shooting, or to offer other kinds of technical advice, is welcome to write me via] 

0. Preamble

In the posting scheduled for next week's four-hour upload window, namely UTC=20170530T0001Z/20170530T0401Z, I hope to begin the tedious, multi-week process of setting out my ideas in a fully detailed form. This will mean spelling everything out slowly, with explanatory examples, mindful of Quintillian's adage: Communicate not so as to be capable of being understood, but so as to be incapable of being misunderstood. I imagine the result will be a sequence of five or ten postings, almost to the total wordcount appropriate for some modest book or modest academic dissertation. 

Tonight, however, instead of starting the project proper, I take care of two preliminaries. First, I run through the ideas on method which are meant to guide the project. Second, I present three fragments of unpublished writing which will be intelligible to at any rate that subset (that minority?) of my readers already exposed to some university Department of Philosophy. My three fragments are intended to indicate what the project, once duly launched in next week's upload interval UTC=20170530T0001Z/20170530T0401Z, is meant to involve. 

1. Precepts Guiding this Project

I am trying to execute my project under the guidance of five "Precepts". 

(1) The "Software Manual Precept": All my philosophy language is to be utilitarian, as in a software manual. Software manuals respect the Strunk-and-White demand ( that language be kept plain - avoiding, for instance, "terminate" as a variant on plain "end", or "interrogate" as a variant on plain "ask". Further, software manuals keep their grammar simple - for instance, by favouring point-form lists, with eye-catching left-edge markers, and minimizing the use of subordinate clauses. 

Software manuals additionally minimize rhetorical colouring. So much though writers (like me!) trying to follow my present Precept may wince, they have to suppress their inclination to grab jacket lapels and stare into space with the air of a belligerent puppy while solemnly intoning, e.g., "The life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands". (Those were the words of the United Kingdom premier to the House of Commons at Westminster on 1940-06-18. Philosophy writers following tonight's killjoy Precept are required, alas, to come down to earth, offering Mr Churchill perhaps "In the future, war may be prevented.") The more flat - the more drab - the resulting prose, the better.

(2) The "Free-Standing Documentation Precept": All technical terms are to be explained - typically through presenting either a suite of examples or through presenting a formal definition, or through doing both of these things. The explanations are to be so thorough that the reader has no need to consult other literature, and can therefore follow the offered writing without prior academic training in philosophy. Since readers are (alas) human, those of them who are erudite might in their human weakness start importing conceptions from other philosophical literature. We must do what we can to counter this temptation, by trying as far as we can not only to explain our own terms, but even to avoid using terms from the existing philosophical literature. So, for instance, I will be doing my best in this project to avoid expressions like "act of will", "sense datum", "sense impression", "representation", "Vorstellung", and "the Empirically Given". If I use some such familiar technical term, even while giving it my own explanation, some dangerously erudite reader might pass hastily over my explanation and attach to my term some imported meaning contrary to the one I intend.

- On the matter of the dreaded "Empirically Given", I cannot help recalling what is perhaps the best skewering ever administered in English fiction to academic Departments of Philosophy. Somewhere in her novels (I have to quote from memory, sorry), George Eliot says, of some scholarly person trying in his inept way to cope with the calloused realities of British agrarian life, "He did not know what hay was. He was quite certain, however, that it was some variety of the Given."

(3) The "Igominy and Humiligation Precept": This helpful phrase I take from some forgotten Australian radio or television comedian, who is to be imagined as delivering it in phonetically correct Strine ( My idea is that the philosophical writer is to resist the temptation to look good. Just as we try to serve Humility, and therefore Accuracy, by making our writing as flat and drab as possible, so also we try to serve Humility and its Accuracy companion by appearing as clumsy and naive as possible. We may well feel that we personally know quite a lot about some long-dead German, or some long-dead Greek, or (as one puts it in Strine) some long-dead Pom, say "RST", and that we therefore can tell the RST scholars a thing or two. But whatever we may feel inside, we are, under this precept, to keep our feelings bottled up, except in so far as some vague and general references to the long-dead authority might prove liable to help the more formally schooled of our readers orient themselves.

Here are three vague things which it is okay, under my Precept, to write. My three examples are made up for purposes of communication. Nevertheless, they are also (for what little this is at this present early project stage worth) actual fragments of accurate self-disclosure:

  • "My ideas on philosophy-of-visual-perception have been influenced in some direct or indirect way by reading in, and likely also by reading something about, John Locke's distinction between 'primary qualities' and 'secondary qualities'". 
  • "My ideas (cf the creeping minute hand on the Big Clock) regarding the seeing of change, as opposed to a mere eventually-noting-a-change-in-what-is-seen, have been influenced in some direct or indirect way by reading in English in, or at least by reading in English something about, Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft. This was a bit of reading regarding 'apperception', or 'synthesis of the manifold', or something of that Königsberg kind." 
  • "My ideas on the difference between seeing the shadowy mass 'as a dog' and seeing the shadowy mass 'as a treestump' have been influenced in some direct or indirect way by reading, in Latin or in English or in both, in St Thomas Aquinas or in one or more of his 20th-century British commentators, about 'forms' being 'received without matter', or something, into the 'intellect', or into the 'soul', or something." 
It is not okay, under the Igominy and Humiligation Precept, to be concrete, citing more than a very few particular passages from long-dead philosophers, even if one has at some past point attempted some detailed study. Anything more than bare-bones references makes one look learned, contrary to the Precept.

It is likewise not okay, under my Precept, to enter into debates with the living or with the modern dead. Is Bertie, some of whose 1912 writing I quoted last week (and who departed this life recently enough, in 1970) right or wrong? To pronounce judgement would make one look like a smart-aleck debater, contrary to my Precept. Although you, Gentle Reader, might harbour your suspicions regarding my stance on the rather recently deceased Bertie, I for my part merely growl into my mint julep, in the possible tones of Colonel Harland David Sanders ( - "Ma'am, Mah lips are SEE-yulled."

(4) The "Maths-and-Physics Precept": Under this precept, we are to try to follow the best practices of what have with justification become the most prestigious disciplines in our post-1800 universities, namely mathematics and physics. Where, in today's academy, does excellence chiefly reside? Everyone knows the answer, though not all may be equally happy to admit it: our culture, deeply disturbed as it has for recent generations been in its politics and city planning and architecture and economics and public morality and other leading life forms, is nevertheless not (or is not yet) dead. The campuses do harbour some deep profs, alongside their deplorable football stadia and their deplorable "Schools of Management". The deepest profs are not the ones who expound "Management", or those who expound Durkheim and Foucault and Derrida. Nor are they even the (worthy, chronically underappreciated) ones who labour in Roman law and Elizabethan literature and Coptic archaeology. No: everyone knows that there is a not-as-yet-dead Great Tradition upheld today on the mathematics side by (e.g.) that reclusive refugee from academia, Dr Grigori Yakovlevich Perelman in Sankt Peterburg, and on the physics side today by (e.g.) Prof. Stephen Hawking at Cambridge. And indeed the Great Tradition is upheld today right here in the Toronto region, to the extent permitted by our local resources, at the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences near College and St George, and at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in outlying Waterloo. This is the same honourable tradition - the main thing for which our otherwise disordered modern Western civilization will in the remote future be respected - as was upheld by the American Richard Feynman and the Soviet Lev Davidovich Landau a couple of generations ago, and in the generations before them by (e.g.) the mathematician David Hilbert, and by Einstein.

A key "best practice" from our still-living, still-breathing, beleagured Western Great Tradition is concept formation.

As far as mathematics goes, concept formation might be illustrated with two examples.

First is the celebrated rise of non-Euclidean geometry, under Riemann and Lobachevsky. What is key in this revolution is perhaps the development of a new curvature concept. Familiar to everyone in a naive way, I presume from the classical Greeks onward, is the curvature of an object embedded in a space. A hyperbolic curve, for instance, in 2-space, and a hyperboloid sheet in 3-space, possess a continuously varying local curvature, taking on some nonzero finite value at the closest approach to the vertex, and getting closer to zero (approximating, that is, the "curvature" of a mere plane) as the vertex is left farther and farther behind. More simply, a circle in 2-space, and a sphere in 3-space, are objects whose local curvature is everywhere the same,.

The Riemann-Lobachevsky innovation, on the other hand, is the introduction of a concept of intrinsic curvature, for a space as opposed to an object immersed in a space. Without referring to any space of dimension n+1, one can inquire into the local curvature of a space of dimension n (for n = 2, 3, 4, ...). Let n, for instance, be 3. Then if any three non-collinear points in our 3-space are the vertices of a triangle whose angles sum to two right angles, our 3-space is everywhere of zero curvature. If, on the other hand (say I tonight, admittedly without having studied this in the properly rigorous setting of differential geometry) some three non-collinear points are the vertices of a triangle whose sum is greater than (resp., less than) two right angles, our 3-space has locally "positive curvature" (resp., locally "negative curvature").

As a second example, one might note that for two unsatisfactory centuries after Newton and Leibniz, the limit in calculus was understood only intuitively.  Then, however, came the rigorous epsilon-delta definition. Here was the successful gestation of a sharp concept (where Newton and Leibniz, as pioneers, had been obliged to remain fuzzy), in the hands of Cauchy, of Bolzano, and at last definitively of Karl Theodor Wilhelm Weierstrass (1815-1897).

In fact  - I now elaborate a little on this, herewith developing my second example a little farther - concept formation around the calculus-inspired notion of limit did not stop with Weierstrass. With some groping and starting-afresh, the mathematicians of the World War I era eventually found an adequately fruitful set-theoretic definition of an abstract "topological space", as we might nowadays get to learn it from the Topology of M.I.T.'s Prof. James Munkres (1930-).  In the abstract setting of a topological space, the concept of limit is liberated even from its quite worthy (because quite duly rigorous) 19th-century Weierstrass numerical setting.

One of my two big "aha" moments in 2016 was realizing (as I have already remarked on this blog) that the construction which exhibits the complex numbers as ordered pairs of reals, thanks chiefly to a subtle definition of multiplication for those pairs  - <a, b> * <c, d> is defined as <a.c - b.d, b.c + a.d>, where "." is the real-number multiplication - is a construction than can make out of any field F a new field F', whose elements are ordered pairs of F-elements. With that realization, we find the complex plane to be nothing strange or metaphysical, to be nothing harbouring questionable philosophical assumptions about "the ultimate Platonic reality or irreality of the imaginary parts of complex numbers". No: the complex plane, it turns out, arises from the real line in a straightforward, concrete algebraic construction applicable to any field at all.

But my other big 2016 "aha" moment was an encounter with limits as defined abstractly by Munkres.

Set aside, as a mere special case, the old epsilon and delta, introduced for the real number line or the complex plane in the chaste Victorian tradition of Weierstrass. Press forward more boldly now, into a higher, un-Victorian, level of abstraction. For any topological space X (X might be, and yet need not be, the banal pre-1900 space of real-number-line open intervals, or the banal pre-1900 space of complex-plane open regions), and for any nonempty subset A of X, and for any point x in X, x is a "limit point of A" if and only if every neighbourhood-with-respect-to-X of x intersects A in some point other than x itself. x need not be a number, in any sense at all.

This is, with only trivial changes of wording, the definition as given in Munkres's Topology, in its second (its year-2000) edition, in section 17 in chapter 2. I do confess tonight that I found Munkres's idea to be at first opaque, when I was working through it in 2016. What, I asked myself in 2016, can be the point of defining a limit in Munkres's way? We can define anything, sticking silly concepts together at will, like Lego blocks: what makes Munkres's particular concept deep?

But the intuitive notion becomes vivid - its depths now beckoning correctly, as a startling decoupling of "limit" from "number" -  upon supplementing Munkres with a read of one or two core sentences from Wikipedia. On the strength not of Munkres alone, but also of the well-written, I now paraphrase Munkres as follows: x is a limit point of A if and only if x can be "approximated" by points of A, in the sense that every X-topological neighbourhood of x, no matter how painfully constricted, harbours not just x but some A-point distinct from x. Creep up as "close" to x as you please, where closeness is defined perhaps in terms of a metric (as when we are working with the topology of open real intervals, or with the topology of open complex-plane regions - in these two cases, in a world of mere numbers), and perhaps not: no matter how "close" you creep - i.e., no matter how richly encompassing the realm of points your chosen neighbourhood cunningly leaves out - you can always find some A-point, other than x itself, in even your cunningly claustrophobic neighbourhood.

Concept formation is no less dramatic in mathematical physics.

Mathematical physics begins with mechanician Galileo, who distinguished his new concept of acceleration from the banal old concept of speed. (A ball rolling down an inclined plane in Galileo's rudimentary laboratory has a varying speed, and yet has a constant acceleration.) 

In the same classical-mechanics spirit, one introduces the concepts of force and mass, distinguishing weight (as a force exerted in gravitation) from mass, and eventually adding also to the classical-mechanics structure the innovative concepts of momentum and energy - quantities each of which, in contrast with force, is found to obey a conservation law.

In thermodynamics, progress is made when temperature is duly distinguished from heat, and the concept of energy is introduced, perhaps as already elucidated in mechanics - with the (now conceptually rigorous) heat shown to be a form of energy, rather than some obfuscatory "Caloric Fluid".

In electric theory, progress is made when the naive concept of "magnetic force" is in a sense thrown overboard, with all forces relativized to frames. I gather that this was worked out by Einstein in his 1905 Special-Relativity paper "Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper". In Special Relativity, the so-called "magnetic force" around a moving charge gets identified with the electrostatic force of that charge in that charge's rest frame - thereby answering, with startling simplicity, the ancient question "What is magnetism?"

If concept formation has generated advances in pure mathematics and mathematical physics, then  - so I urge in this present Precept - it is to be attempted also, with the boldness of the mathematicians and the mathematical physicists, in philosophy.

(5) The "Debian Precept": Let philosophy be made a collaborate project, as software engineering is collaborative within the GNU/Linux "Debian Project". A number of GNU/Linux distributions have been derived from Debian through the years - Corel Linux, Linux Mint, MintPPC, Raspbian, Ubunto (and in an Estonian emulation of Ubuntu, even Estobuntu). It will be generally admitted by Linux sysadmins that this forking is no accident, but rather is a tribute to the distinctive technical excellence of Debian (along with, the sysadmins do perhaps have to concede, a certain arguable mild Debian user-unfriendliness).

What engineering rigours have made Debian the force that it is? Two features stands out. Both of them call for emulation in the rigour-starved world of academic philosophy:

(a) Debian problems get publicized. In particular, a public log of security flaws, with their fixes, is kept, as at The corresponding notion in philosophy, which I am going to have to try to implement in the present project, is a frank admission of problems in the philosophical writing. There might perhaps be a list of terms whose explanations still, despite one's best authorial efforts, fall short of the ideals I have tonight written into the "Free-Standing Documentation Precept". Or perhaps, again, there will have to be some "superficiality flags" - as when one feels there is more to be written on a certain aspect of perception, and one is not yet certain what it is that ought to be written. (To anticipate a little on what I shall have to say in coming weeks: although I am confident that one sees the styrofoam coffee cup in the Tallahassee Swampwater Junior Training College seminar room (as in my blog posting of 2017-05-15 or 2017-05-16) "in" seeing a patch of light on a human retina, something more ought to be said, somehow, on the question whether it is the seeing of the cup that is specially "privileged", or is in a special way "immediately given", or is specially "fundamental", or is specially "endowed with Epistemic Warrant", or something. (That latter phrase, or something like it, used around 1988 to be heard, and perhaps still is heard, at some such philosophy-prominent school as Indiana's Notre Dame.)

(b) Anyone is welcome to participate in the Debian Project. In particular, anyone is welcome to offer feedback, with the channels for such offerings easy to find. (For example, the Debian Project publishes names of particular individuals maintaining particular software packages - where "maintaining" a software package means taking the application's upstream-developer source code, and the binaries generated from it at Debian Project workstations by the various platform-specific compilers, and writing such additional Debian-tailored things as platform-specific install-time shell scripts. If we have suggestions for improving a script, we, as end users, know - thanks to the so-explicit Debian documentation - whom to contact: for instance, Mr or Ms Atsuhito Kohda for the Debian packages lynx (supplying a text-only browser, as you might run in a 1980s-style /usr/bin/xterm "glass teletype" window, perhaps emulating a DEC VT100-family terminal) and texworks (I presume supplying the TeX typesetting of mathematical formulae, as when some maths or physics journal seeks camera-ready PDF).)

The corresponding notion in philosophy, which I wish to implement in the present project, is a frank welcoming of collaboration from anyone supporting the herewith-enumerated five Project Precepts.

I am hoping to draw the present project to the attention of three or more (rather carefully selected) professional philosophers in 2017, via e-mails, and to encourage them to consider doing their own bits of Project writing. By the end of 2017, one might perhaps hope to see, whether on this present blogspot server or on some other Web facility, no longer "Analytical Philosophy of Perception, Action, and 'Subjectivity'", "by Toomas Karmo", but instead some identically or similarly titled work "by Toomas Karmo and ABC and XYZ". Or alternatively (if I can succeed in receding into the background, as I would prefer) we may hope to see "by ABC and Toomas Karmo and XYZ" - or even (I would more strongly prefer this one) "by ABC and XYZ and Toomas Karmo". The general rule in scientific publishing, which I hope also to enforce in this present philosophy project, is that it is the person who has emerged as the working-group de facto guide and leader -  in conceivable Dean's-Office speech, as  its "Principal Investigator" - who gets named first in the author list.

I am also hoping that at some point in 2017 or 2018, I can take things a stage farther, presenting the project material as a seminar somewhere in North America, and in that process securing feedback to a point at which one or more seminar members become junior or senior co-authors. Might it be possible, for example, to run a seminar, say over two or three separate afternoons, at some such small Catholic school as Ontario's own "Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy" (

Third, I am hoping -  or at least I am dreaming - of taking this project home to Estonia, when I finally make the Big Move, leaving Canada and thereby putting an end (as far as my own wave-tossed immediate family is concerned) to our World War Two-induced peregrinations. If, as I am presently hoping, the move can be made in 2018, then I might hope to anchor the project in the Department of Philosophy at Tartu University in 2019. Anchoring it might not even prove difficult. There used to be some kind of Continental concept of a "privatissmum" seminar. So let me, I boldly say, get to know the Tartu Department of Philosophy people a little in (say) 2019, and then let me simply invite any interested persons to join me at whatever might be the 2019 equivalent of the 1930's Kolme Koopa Kohvik, or "Ko-Ko-Ko Café" (perhaps it is still Ko-Ko-Ko?), to see if we can work on perception and agency together, with me eventually contributing less and less.

The fact that I am herewith writing, and also for the most part am herewith thinking, in English poses few obstacles. Tartu's Department of Philosophy already makes English a formal seminar language.

So I dream of various pleasant things - chiefly the emergence, perhaps even over "napooleonid/Napoleon cakes" and "aleksandrikook/Alexander cake" at the old Ko-Ko-Ko, of a little "Tartu Grupp/Tartu Group", who carry on this work in both Estonian and English in the light of my here-stated guiding Precepts.

Or indeed people may be able to upgrade and improve the Precepts. I offer them as a charter-in-progress, in principle revisable, as the Debian Social Contract - -  is in principle revisable. Let people only take care to revise slowly and deliberately, for solid reasons!

Soon enough, I dream, Tartu people will manage to carry on without me. I for my part want to work in computing, pure maths, physics, and astronomy, to the extent that my limited abilities in these four linked fields may allow. Philosophy I would hope to leave, as far as prudently possible, to others.

2. General Project Preview, Through Three Quick-and-Sloppy Fragments

The general shape of the Project emerges, at least for readers familiar with some professional modern Anglo-Saxon philosophical writing, from the three fragments which I now offer, in essence out of private casenotes from this past Canadian winter.

Here is the first fragment:

    __suppose all who walk into the intersection of First Avenue
      and A Street experience a throbbing pain,
      and that all who walk into the intersection of First Avenue
      and B Street epxerience steady nausea
    __then it would be reasonable to reform ordinary English,
      describing the urban geography as follows:
      "There is a throbbing Pain at First and A,
      and there is a steady Sick at First and B"
    __it would be reasonable to ask also questions like the
      "Is the throbbing Pain at First and A going to start
      migrating up First Avenue, toward B Street?"
      "If the throbbing Pain at First and A does migrate,
      eventually hitting the steady Sick at B Street,
      then will it pass right THROUGH the Sick, going up
      even as far as C Street, or will it push the Sick along
      with it as it heads C-ward?"
    __it would be reasonable also to say, as in our present language,
      "Standing at the intersection of First and A, I hurt"
    __indeed it would be reasonable to say, using "in" in
      very roughly the way we say "She signed the lease **IN**
      moving her pen," "**IN** hurting right now, I am
      perceiving that unpleasant public object which is the
      Pain at First and A"
    __something analogous happens all the time with human vision
      (_but we need a neologistic verb, "I am greening"
        on the model of "I am hurting":
        "As I stand at the edge of the sunlit lawn, I perceive
        that public object which is the green grass; I perceive
        it IN greening, just as I perceive
        the public First-Avenue Pain
        IN hurting")
    __one will have to do quite a bit of
      writing regarding "IN"
      __**IN** greening, I perceive more than one public object -
        I perceive the grass (a public object studied by, e.g.,
        botanists), and also I perceive a patch of green light
        on my retina (a public object capable of being studied
        by, e.g., an ophthalmologist equipped with
        an opthalmoscope - admittedly, it would be helpful
        to dilate the pupils of the Toomas Karmo patient,
        with atropine or a similar pharmaceutical,
        before embarking on the latter study);
        indeed IN greening, I perceive the
        public object which is a small patch of green light,
        and IN perceiving that, I perceive the grass
        __I say "quite a bit of writing"
          because there is additionally a more subtle public object,
          an electrical pattern P in my optic nerve,
          such that IN perceiving P I perceive the
          littler patch of green retina-projected light
        __still further, there is a public object more deeply
          buried in my cranium, an electrical pattern P' in my
          visual cortex, such that it is IN perceiving P'
          that I manage to perceive P
        __it admittedly takes much skill and scientific knowledge
          to figure out everything that I am perceiving
          __that what I perceive includes grass would have
            been  obvious to a mere Sumerian
            what I perceive includes a small patch
            of green light on a retina,
            behind the fluid "vitreous humour",
            perhaps first became obvious to the Renaissance anatomists
          __that what I perceive includes
            events P, and still farther
            inside the cranium  P', did not become obvious until the 20th
            __it was then that an understanding of dendrons
              and synapses was at last acquired

Here is the second fragment:

  __I discover, through a process of self-education
    which began around the time of my emergence from my Mum's uterus,
    and was complete by perhaps age 2 or 3 or so,
    what are the boundaries of my agency
    __I see a pinkish human arm, close up,
      and I see green grass, behind the arm
    __at some point since emerging from the uterus,
      I have succeded in educating myself
      to the point at which I understand that
      +a____I do NOT
            exercise agency over the grass
            __although I might
              fantasize to myself "I am waving the grass blades",
              I in fact believe with great confidence
              that this fantasy is NOT accurate
      *b____I DO
            exercise agency over the hand - when I say "I am
            moving the hand", I speak truthfully
            (_and indeed I also excercise agency over
              certain muscles within the skin, as the Renaissance
              anatomists were able to explain - and also over
              some neuronal events, as the 20th-century physiologists
              were at last able to explain
              (_a neurosurgeon could correctly say to me,
                "I want you now to raise your right hand",
                OR "I want you now to contract such-and-such an effector
                muscle", OR "I want you now to fire such-and-such
                neurons in your motor cortex"))
    __nevertheless, just as the entire universe could have
      sprung into being just 2 seconds ago, with all its
      historical records etc intact, so also my beliefs - even
      at their most simple, their mere Sumerian-thinker, level -
      regarding the boundaries of my agency could be false
    __I could, e.g., be deluded in thinking even that I
      exercise agency over the Toomas Karmo hand
      which I am currently seeing, gratifyingly big and prominent
    __I **COULD** be in the unhappy position of the leaves
      being blown about by the wind, in the Gedankenexperiment
      of some Austrian philosopher or engineer or something,
      active in 1920s-thru-1940s Oxford or Cambridge or something,
      bearing some such name as "Finkelstein"
    __in "Finkelstein's" little story, a dry autumn leaf which is
      being blown about by gusts of wind says to itself,
      "Now I think I will fly over to THIS corner
      of the yard", and then "I think
      I will next do something different, flying instead
      to THAT corner of the yard"
      __"Finkelstein's" leaf, although happy enough,
        is bereft of the agency it
        supposes itself to enjoy

Here is the third fragment:

 __it is a contingent matter which retinal light patches,
    and which neuronal events P and P', etc, I see, and likewise
    over which human hands, effector muscles, etc I have agency
  __consider a garden in which seven people are sitting
    on the lawn, in a circle
    __call them Alfie, Betty, Charlie, Doris, Elmer, Florence,
      and Grigori
    __then it is possible, e.g., that I should migrate
      around the circle, seeing first the grass right
      in front of Alfie, and the little
      patch of green light on Alfie's retina (etc),
      and enjoying agency over Alfie's hand,
      and Alfie's biceps (etc); and 60 seconds
      later seeing the grass right in front of Betty
      and the little patch of green light on Betty's retina (etc),
      and enjoying
      agency over Betty's hand and Betty's biceps (etc);
      and 60 seconds
      after that "migrating into" the human animal called Charlie;
      and so on (after the end of the 7th minute seeing, and acting,
      once again with the eye and hand of Alfie)
    __we can see that this is possible because we can see
      how to portray it in a science-fiction film
      __such a migrating-around-the-circle would be portrayed
        by having the crew shift the camera,
        moving it around the circle in the lawn
    __it will later have to be considered what relation
      I (who, as a contingent and potentially mutable fact,
      currently see those public objects which are
      small patches of light
      on the Toomas retina (etc) and currently enjoy agency
      over a Toomas hand (etc)  specifically
      at 406 Centre Street East in Richmond Hill,
      Ontario) have to that public object 
      (_specifically at 406 Centre Street East)
      which is the Toomas animal
      __perhaps the locution "I am Toomas" has to be replaced
        with the more modest "Am Toomas",
        with the first-person singular pronoun now expunged,
        as a misleading English word?
        (_cf the misleading "It"/"Es"/"il" in "It is raining/Es
regnet/Il pleut";
           better is Estonian/Latin "Sajab/Pluit", where the verb has
no explicit subject)
        (_in general, we must note how poorly fitted
          are the natural languages, English among them,
          for clear exposition
          __our task is often to reform English - "momentum" now
            sharply distinguished from "force",
            "heat" now sharply distinguished from "temperature",
            with "entropy" added as a neologism, etc etc
         __as for mechanics and thermodynamics,
           so too for philosophy-of-perception
           and philosophy-of-agency)

Readers not accustomed to the occasionally esoteric world of academic Anglo-Saxon philosophy will find the point of these various remarks occasionally unclear. But not to worry: I hope to spell everything out in correctly plain terms over the coming weeks, under the austere guidance of tonight's Software Manual Precept. 

Before finishing tonight, I do remark that my anticipated work is based on two notions which might not be fully familiar even within Departments of Philosophy, and which it will accordingly be necessary for me to develop with special care as the weeks go by. 

On the one hand is the notion of Pains, Sicks, and the like as objects no less "public" than straightforward red-paint patches, straightforward hydrogen-sulphide clouds, and the like. A quick plunge tonight into Google suggests that interested readers might try searching on some such string as pain-patches on the leaf red patches on the leaf philosophy. It is perhaps also helpful here to try linking this esoteric conceptualization of "Public" objects with something the Vatican promulgated on 1923-06-29, in the encyclical Studiorum ducem, while praising St Thomas Aquinas and scolding some non-Catholic thinkers: "such a doctrine [sc something or other in St Thomas - I stay vague, in the spirit of my Igominy and Humiligation] goes to the root of the errors and opinions of those modern philosophers who maintain that it is not being itself which is perceived in the act of intellection, but some modification of the percipient /.../" - Here I have quoted from an English translation of Studiorum ducem uploaded by the EWTN television establishment to the Web as 

On the other hand is the notion of perceiving-A-in-perceiving-B. "In" is a tricky word. Although perceiving-A-in-perceiving-B was not much discussed in Departments of Philosophy back in the 1970s and 1980s, when I haunted their corridors, there was  in that same period a certain literature - a few people might conceivably now want to read in it, or to review their past reading in it - on a related topic, namely "doing-A-in-doing-B". A quick plunge tonight into Google suggests the advisability of searching on some such string as philosophy of action doing A in doing B basic action nonbasic action

[To be continued, I hope next week, as "Part C".] 

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