Wittgenstein’s Beetle in Gaia’s ARPANET Connected Human Desert: Slavery and Liberation?

Can one picture the human desert that had to be created to make existence on the social media seem desirable?

“293.  If I say of myself that it is only from my own case that I know what the word “pain” means – must I not say that of other people too?  And how can I generalize the one case so irresponsibly?

Well, everyone tells me that he knows what pain is only from his own case! – Suppose that everyone had a box with something in it which we call a “beetle.”  No one can ever look into anyone else’s box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle.  – Here it would be quite possible for everyone to have something different in his box.  One might even imagine such a thing constantly changing. – But what if these people’s word “beetle” had a use nonetheless? – If so, it would not be as the name of a thing.  The thing in the box doesn’t belong to the language-game at all; not even as a Something: for the box might even be empty. – No, one can “divide through” by the thing in the box; it cancels out, whatever it is.

That is to say, if we construe the grammar of the expression of sensation on the model of “object and name”, the object drops out of consideration as irrelevant.

294.  If you say that he sees a private picture before him, which he is describing, you have at any rate made an assumption about what he has before him.  And this means that you can describe it or do describe it more closely.  If you admit that you have no idea what kind of thing it might be that he has before him – then what seduces you into saying, in spite of that, tha the has something before him?  Isn’t it as if I were to say of someone: “He has something.  But I don’t know whether it is money, or debts, or an empty till.”

295.  “I know … only from my own case” – what kind of proposition is this meant to be?  An empirical one?  No. – A grammatical one?

So this is what I imagine: everyone says of himself that he knows what pain is only from his own pain. – Not that people really say that, or are even prepared to say it.  But if everyone said it – it might be a kind of exclamation.  And even if it gives no information, still, it is a picture; and why should we not want to call such a picture before our mind?  Imagine an allegorical painting instead of the words.

Indeed, when we look into ourselves as we do philosophy, we often get to [101] see just such a picture.  Virtually a pictorial representation of our grammar.  Not facts; but, as it were, illustrated turns of speech.

296.  “Right; but there is a Something there all the same, which accompanies my cry of pain!  And it is on account of this that I utter it.  And this Something is what is important – and frightful.” – Only to whom are we telling this?  And on what occasion?

297.  Of course, if water boils in a pot, steam come out of the pot, and also a picture of steam comes out of a picture of the pot.  But what if one insisted on saying that there must also be something boiling in the picture of the pot?

298.  The very fact that we’d so much like to say “This is the important thing” – while we point for ourselves to the sensation – is enough to show how much we are inclined to say something which is not informative.

299.  Being unable – when we indulge in philosophical thought – to help saying something or other, being irresistibly inclined to say it – does not mean being forced into an assumption, or having an immediate insight into, or knowledge of, a state of affairs.”

Philosophical Investigations


“Can one picture the human desert that had to be created to make existence on the social media seem desirable?

“So the security services are coming to consider a Facebook profile more credible than the individual supposedly hiding behind it. This is some indication of the porousness between what was still called the virtual and the real. The accelerating datafication of the world does make it less and less pertinent to think of the online world and the real world, cyberspace and reality, as being separate. “Look at Android, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Search. That’s what we do. We make products that people can’t live without,” is how they put it in Mountain View. In the past few years, however, the ubiquity of connected devices in the everyday lives of human beings has triggered some survival reflexes. Certain barkeepers decided to ban Google Glasses from their establishments – which became truly hip as a result, it should be said. Initiatives are blossoming that encourage people to disconnect occasionally (one day per week, for a weekend, a month) in order to take note of their dependence on technological objects and re-experience an “authentic” contact with reality. The attempt proves to be futile of course. The pleasant weekend at the seashore with one’s family and without the smartphones is lived primarily as an experience of disconnection; that is, as something immediately thrown forward to the moment of reconnection, when it will be shared on the Internet.”

p. 40

“Eventually, however, with Western man’s abstract relation to the world becoming objectified in a whole complex of apparatuses, a whole universe of virtual reproductions, the path towards presence paradoxically reopens. By detaching ourselves from everything, we’ll end up detaching ourselves even from our detachment. The technological beatdown will ultimately restore our capacity to be moved by the bare, pixelless existence of a honeysuckle vine. Every sort of screen coming between us and reality will have been required before we could reclaim the singular shimmer of the sensible world, and our amazement at what is there. It will have taken hundreds of “friends” who have nothing to do with us, “liking” us on Facebook the better to ridicule us afterwards, for us to rediscover the ancient taste for friendship.”

p. 40

“So this is what technophiles and technophobes alike fail to grasp: the ethical nature of every technique.”

p. 42

To Our Friends

The Invisible Committee

Saw this article and this jumped out, “Technology is also forcing change. Online courses make the transmission of information a commodity. If colleges are going to justify themselves, they are going to have to thrive at those things that require physical proximity. That includes moral and spiritual development. Very few of us cultivate our souls as hermits. We do it through small groups and relationships and in social contexts.”  The author proposes that universities go back to helping young men and women grow as was done in Ancient Greek philosophical circles.  Discussing ethics one day and the geometric nature of the starfish the next.

Fairly accessible commentary on the best chapter of To Our Friends so far in my reading.

Ironic it is on Google’s YouTube. Ended up discussing the end of capitalism in Starbucks today. Google owns all communication at the University of Minnesota, convincing the U to use its products. The academy is Google now, the machine listening in on the intellectual elite in their work. Google Books owns all books, revealing just enough for ordinary citizens to taste the full power of Western writing. When will these data be free, out of the hands of Google? China may hack Google with the Great Cannon, perhaps, freeing it as a commodity. Yet, the TPP is moving into reality quickly, who knows. Let us hope that in the anarchy of the Internet can evolve autonomous collectives cooperatively working to create freedom in the machine. Freedom is in recognition of the total structure of Gaia’s growing brain and finding ways to grow it to be free of domination by the super-geniuses privileged to have access to the data vault. Stay tune to Yik Yak for the coordinates of the dérive this winter to find some friends to talk about this situation, the Situationist International @ the University of Minnesota buried underground in the tunnels.

I see the undergraduate population trying to heal their suffering through the anonymous sharing on Yik Yak.  I made a post about biogenetic manipulation of yeast to make THC as reported in this article and I got 49 upvotes and a comment that now we can made new “crossfade.”  Interesting slang from the U’s underground culture.  I am reminded of Wittgenstein’s Beetle when I think about how people are using social media to escape from suffering.  I am just as guilty as anyone else.  How can you not be lured into the temptation that other people care about your suffering?  Is there not a basic human desire to share and be in community?

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About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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