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Baldassare Cossa
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PostSubject: Power   Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:11 am

May I ask a simple question on a diffuse term/topic?

What here, all of you, are your [probably differing?] perceptions of Power?

I am looking for succinct and clearly expressed answers with adequately defined terms. Lengthy, quasi-erudite and obfuscating prose does not reflect discipline so far as I'm concerned... Well... Not always Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:16 am

Power is the ability to manipulate your physical reality with regard to others.

Power does not exist in isolation, but instead, between self-respecting people.
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:38 am

Excellent Unreasonable!

Can you help me with this?

Let x be any organism. y be any orther organism or organisms. E is the physical reality/environment [for the sake of brevity, we will avoid Berkleyian or other such debates about 'out there']

Power is the ability of Organism x to manipulate others and environment [this is physical reality that you mean?].

Yet power does not exist in isolation.

Is it true then, that x only has partial power - that the power of x is partially determined by and dependent on y and E.

If this is so, Power always meets a limit, a nexus. Can we reasonably ask then, if Power is simply a matter of manipulation?

Are we perhaps a little quite to assume that it is merely an issue of manipulation in the didactic sense? [That is, a kind of impulse of preservation or 'linear' gain]

If we ask this - can we further ask, that if power is perhaps also a game of co-ordination, Power itself is always precedent?

What is it's antecedent?

[Please bear in mind - I have little interest in following rules of logic for the sake of logic, just as I am maintaining a 'pathos of distance' from the notion of power for the sake of power].
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:03 am

Well you assuredly-can ask the questions. Is power simply a matter of manipulation? I do not see how it can be another way; perhaps I am ignorant of another possibility. At least, what I mean to say is whenever I have heard the term 'power' used throughout my life, manipulation is implied, forever-present. This is Control, but it assumes at the heart of things that such a person must have Self-control. If a person is completely-guided by their instincts, then he/she will undoubtedly-become controlled by another person who has utilized Reason above the instinctual animal. And this matter goes into the subject of predication, possibility, and probability, which cannot be explained so simply as Power might be. And personally-speaking, I would avoid the details of such semantics.

Manipulation does entail a kind of "linear gain". It has to be necessary. If a person has no need for Power, then he has no need for Manipulation. If a person has no need for Manipulation, then he has no need for Gain. What would he be manipulating in the first place? These circumstances for reasoning necessarily-imply that Power is in relation to something else. What is the utility? What is the context? What is the scenario? Let us say that I am hungry; this is an instinctual impulse inside my body that compels me toward self-sustenance. In order to fulfill this 'need', I must eat. I cannot eat unless I manipulate *AT LEAST* my body/person/self to move toward (the goal) of eating food. Furthermore, the scenario is in the context of my eating (passive sense). I will be eating inside of my home. The third relation is the Other, the food-itself, whether it be vegetation or animal protein. Thus, there is at least three contexts of relation here: 1) myself, 2) the environment, and 3) another. This is as you have already-stated.

Yes, 'Power' is always precedent and "co"-"or"-"din"-"ative": {Co} + {Ordain} + {Ative}. I am not so sure about the 'game' though. This is an ulterior metaphor that changes the context of the situation. And the antecedent is the full reality-itself. It is undefined without the inter-subjective reality that both defines & describes the particular context. Again, in a necessary-sense, Need precludes Power. In other words, I was feeling fine in the first place (in stasis) until I became hungry for food.

Power for the sake of Power is a metaphysical abstraction that necessarily-connotes Ideological references.

You cannot have Power without an Ideal.
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:38 am

Power:
A measurment of combined energies accessible to the Will and in comparison to another.
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:57 am

Satyr wrote:
Power:
A measurment of combined energies accessible to the Will and in comparison to another.

An interesting contribution in quite a different 'language' [I cannot recall the specialist French term that refers to a specialist corpus of knowledge/praxis???].

Ok, can we define the 'nature' of energy, how they may combine and what occurs when they do, and their relationship with the Will - their accessibility.

Can you tell me what you mean by Will. I am aware of the Schopenhauren/Nietzschian use of the term, its general 19th Century Gist and the streaming of the term into Freudian psychodynamics where it was finally referred to in terms of ID and Cathexis/Catharsis etc - at this juncture the geneology can create difficulties for us when we try to use it today [because we may have a multilayered/inter-layered definition].

One more question that I must ask both you and Unreasonable now. Why must our scrutiny of power always subtend to the 'individual'? Why must we all presuppose an individual at all? Even if there is an individual - why must we assume that Power is simply a matter of individual experience and practice [furthermore, is Power used or does it define the individual. Does it supervene, partially supervene or is it integral to Being?]
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:01 am

Baldassare Cossa wrote:
One more question that I must ask both you and Unreasonable now. Why must our scrutiny of power always subtend to the 'individual'? Why must we all presuppose an individual at all? Even if there is an individual - why must we assume that Power is simply a matter of individual experience and practice [furthermore, is Power used or does it define the individual. Does it supervene, partially supervene or is it integral to Being?]
Without the Individual, there is no distinction/discrimination/difference possible in any form.

Thus, without the Individual, there would be neither the conception of Power nor the need for it.
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:06 am

Unreasonable wrote:
Well you assuredly-can ask the questions.

Yes - I do like my questions. They're very useful tools in trying to develop understanding Very Happy
In fact, as time has passed, I have found myself asking more questions and giving fewer answers. Who knows, I may soon have the pleasure of becoming as stupid as Socrates? Razz

"Is power simply a matter of manipulation? I do not see how it can be another way; perhaps I am ignorant of another possibility."

There are certainly other ways, and you have instinctively referred to them here. Bear in mind at present you very much subscribe to a combination of Realist and Social Darwinist 'models', which is very common in our current time period [post WW2].

"At least, what I mean to say is whenever I have heard the term 'power' used throughout my life, manipulation is implied, forever-present."

Yes, an American Realist mode of thought, which is very useful, very ruthless, it likes to simplify things in terms of survivalism and gain. It has experienced, perceived, understood, and reciprocally reshaped the environment on these 'diplomatic' terms - that is "I [Ego] must manipulate in terms of coercive force, to both survive, and gain to ensure survival" [what 'progress', improvement, luxury that may follow, in a Humean sense, is a derivative of Hobbesian co-ordination of sovereign power to further increase Security - of course mistakes can be made].

" This is Control, but it assumes at the heart of things that such a person must have Self-control. "

Offhand I will say that Behavioural Psychology is still subject to the Hypothetico-Inductive-Deductive model, a few revolutions into the inquiry shows that such notions of self control bear little ecological validity nor do they hold true with neurological study. Even without our objective deductions, we can reasonably suggest that Self Control is very much an ideal unattainable, unreal, 'moral', and in truth high variable in definition [a Roman General had a very different notion of self control from Ghenghis Khan, or a Protestant Pastor or the Pope]. In terms of Power - Control or self control is something that passes through cultures, individuals, groups, has historical geneology - therefore Self Control itself cannot be said to depend on an individual 'an sich']


" If a person is completely-guided by their instincts, then he/she will undoubtedly-become controlled by another person who has utilized Reason above the instinctual animal. And this matter goes into the subject of predication, possibility, and probability, which cannot be explained so simply as Power might be. And personally-speaking, I would avoid the details of such semantics."

Reason has not evolved beyond instinct - consider this, quite often reason tends to do some very odd and silly things. Like 'be nice' at the wrong venue [or be bad at the wrong venue], or starve itself with ridiculous diets, start the odd war that turns out to be a disaster, or speculate on the stockmarket. At every point reason must rest upon the limbic system. Furthermore - in times of trouble, catastrophe or strife - it is instinct that preserves us. Reason is not superior to instinct in any way whatsoever. The brain is an integrated system - hence why you'll hear psychiatrists speak of 'rational-emotive' processes. Consider this, if reason is to function to a higher degree and is employed to serve Power, engaging in manipulation for gain - are we saying Power is based on the individual, with his instinct to survive? Very well, in many cases this is very true indeed - dependent on the environment, with its many predicates and probabilities. But this means it is not a given - essentially it can be said "reason is not over and above instinct, instinct and individual will to survive/power are not utterly pertinent to Being and are not necessarily monadic - in fact most likely seldom is this the case we could safely assume with a little historical hindsight [environmental anaylyses over time]?]. It is not always a matter of control or being controlled - therefore is Power simply an issue of coercion [to serve control, survival etc]?

"Manipulation does entail a kind of "linear gain". It has to be necessary. "

What about manipulation simply to maintain, preserve, negate, add [not in terms of profit], change or reapply? Even in terms of linear gain - this does not forment necessity so far as I can tell. Perhaps you can fill me in here on what you mean - at least it is a useful insight on the issue of 'linear gaining manipulation', as a Power process in a Realist Discourse coloured environment.

" If a person has no need for Power, then he has no need for Manipulation."

What about the many environments where the role of Power is not a matter of direct gain and coercion [which it often is not - lean back in that comfy chair there, how many people did you kill for that? True, someone else might have killed for you - some lovely slaves or a government, maybe nobody died at all? Maybe just a few in a non commutative geometry of N Dimensions of Political-Economic-Social-Cultural+historic Power formations, where history is not so easily determined by 'conquest theosophy' & Scientia Darwinis]?


"If a person has no need for Manipulation, then he has no need for Gain. What would he be manipulating in the first place?"

You have actually alerted us to a very interesting problem here - we have to define manipulation as Function[s]. Clearly manipulation is an issue of people and things equating among each other and with the Spaces and Resources in between [and remember we are very likely functioning in N Dimensions, not a simple linear equation]. No doubt the Manipulation takes many forms, and in turn may not necessarily simply be about Gain or a simple process of Gain in terms of accumulatory 'profit'.


" These circumstances for reasoning necessarily-imply that Power is in relation to something else. What is the utility? What is the context? What is the scenario? "

Yes - and as I mentioned, you are instinctively referring to other possible forms of power [the issue of context and scenario - you still correctly chose a very possible and fairly common Power situation if we can say it like that]

"Let us say that I am hungry; this is an instinctual impulse inside my body that compels me toward self-sustenance."

yes, instinct!

" In order to fulfill this 'need', I must eat. I cannot eat unless I manipulate *AT LEAST* my body/person/self to move toward (the goal) of eating food. "

An example of instinct and reason 'empowered'? Of course this is a very simple context - see also how the food is provided, the 'Gain' is additive but not in terms of 'profit' [e.g. stealing/earning/exploiting for food]

" Furthermore, the scenario is in the context of my eating (passive sense). I will be eating inside of my home. The third relation is the Other, the food-itself, whether it be vegetation or animal protein. Thus, there is at least three contexts of relation here: 1) myself, 2) the environment, and 3) another. This is as you have already-stated."

Yes, we are using a very simple case scenario here. I am assuming you are talking about the issue of power simply on the basis of organic sustenance? Power as a function permeating the Organic? Of course when other dimensions come into play [economics, buying/gaining/growing own food; politics - the policies, Welfare and food stamps, Nazism and provision, Republicanism and ruthless compulsion to self sufficiency, the cultural - Islam and paying of alms, the historic-geographic such as USA, Middle East, 1939 Germany, 1918 Russia]. Of course, we are having an incredibly difficult time at 'grabbing' power itself and defining it without talking about scenario's. Why is this?

"Yes, 'Power' is always precedent and "co"-"or"-"din"-"ative": {Co} + {Ordain} + {Ative}. I am not so sure about the 'game' though. This is an ulterior metaphor that changes the context of the situation."

You could be right in saying power is co-ordinative, but what if it can also remain as inert Mass? Which isn't impossible [consider a Nuclear Arsenal, the skills of a boxer when not fighting, a mathematician who doesn't do math]. Can't Power also be co-ordinated? If it wasn't, wouldn't it be little more than 'thermodynamic' activity without any form of impulse, instinct, reason...??? With this in mind, is Power necessarily precedent - and if it is not always or mainly necessarily precedent, is always necessary in terms of 'manipulation for Gain'? And of course - we live in a universe of 'games', there are always changing situations and quirky 'ulterior metaphors'.

" And the antecedent is the full reality-itself. "

A full reality is eternity. We are speaking about individuals, groups, systems, histories, human experience, earthly environments, a solar system - at every point there are antecedents and precedents. This is not a rash relativism - but multiperspectivity in context.

"It is undefined without the inter-subjective reality that both defines & describes the particular context. "

yes!

"Again, in a necessary-sense, Need precludes Power. In other words, I was feeling fine in the first place (in stasis) until I became hungry for food."

Yes!!!

"Power for the sake of Power is a metaphysical abstraction that necessarily-connotes Ideological references."

I'm not sure - can you explain??? I will admit I'm not one for 'metaphysics' - I have a certain distaste for the very word... Ernst Mach is my 'ideological' limit on the rainiest of days.

"You cannot have Power without an Ideal."

I assume the 'ideal' is simply the disederata of the modalities/monads in their respective localities? In this sense, we have come full circle - we have not solved the equation for Power at the limit of any ontological function. All we have said is Power is Power is Power. The 'is' in between each power being an environmental nexus. We are blinkered by power. I am wondering why we find it so hard to look at power - although I hope this Reflexive Criticism can begin to get us somewhere? Reflexive Analysis is a very useful tool Smile

Any ideas? How do we isolate power as a physicist isolates Mass-Energy, then study it, and understand it well enough to manipulate it - in the myriad ways that Mass-Energy is 'manipulated' [beyond making nuclear bombs and TV Screens].





If I cannot have this equation solved. I shall resolve to living in a barrel, or a commune of sodomites for whom ownership, emotional manipulation and 'relationships', personal responsibility, profit, self security and choice as well as 'consent' are utterly bereft of value and meaning. There I will debauch, sodomise, whore and swim in laudanum without a clock in sight. I simply can't be bothered trying to gain everything when I can have the entire universe on a small patch of ground [can you see what 'it' is?]

Won't you join me??? [Gasps... Yesss-s-s-ss-s-s!!!]
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:12 am

Unreasonable wrote:
Baldassare Cossa wrote:
One more question that I must ask both you and Unreasonable now. Why must our scrutiny of power always subtend to the 'individual'? Why must we all presuppose an individual at all? Even if there is an individual - why must we assume that Power is simply a matter of individual experience and practice [furthermore, is Power used or does it define the individual. Does it supervene, partially supervene or is it integral to Being?]
Without the Individual, there is no distinction/discrimination/difference possible in any form.

Thus, without the Individual, there would be neither the conception of Power nor the need for it.

What about a Culture that thinks in terms of collectives? Human beings integrate - they are seldom as lonely, self sufficient, selfish and ruthless as such a notion of Power would conceive.

What about a system without human beings at all even? Or a completely different kind of creature, or even a hypthetically very different [differently socialised] human being.

You will need to explain to me your concept of the Individual and his relation to Power [remember, I am trying to discuss Power and nothing more here - I am not fundamentally interested in the Individual, not primarily at least - can you see why starting with the individual leaves us incapacited when trying to scrutinise power? Hint: reflexivity].
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:21 am

Baldassare Cossa wrote:
What about a Culture that thinks in terms of collectives? Human beings integrate - they are seldom as lonely, self sufficient, selfish and ruthless as such a notion of Power would conceive.
Societies/Cultures/Collective-organisms cannot exist without a singular mind dominating all lesser minds: the Individual.

Christians call this God, for example.


Baldassare Cossa wrote:
What about a system without human beings at all even? Or a completely different kind of creature, or even a hypthetically very different [differently socialised] human being.
Non-human systems operate under the same paradigm; it is universal. This is how & why behaviorism is explained via other species.


Baldassare Cossa wrote:
You will need to explain to me your concept of the Individual and his relation to Power [remember, I am trying to discuss Power and nothing more here - I am not fundamentally interested in the Individual, not primarily at least - can you see why starting with the individual leaves us incapacited when trying to scrutinise power? Hint: reflexivity].
Without the Individual, there is no Power, as I have said.

Think of human intellect like a pyramid. On the bottom, are mind-slaves, the obviously-stupidest people. This level can explain the behaviors of animals, young children, and retarded minds quite easily. At this level, actions & reactions are both predictable. As you move higher up, intelligence becomes exponentially-more complicated (from the point-of-view of a lesser mind). It becomes more difficult to understand words, language, and especially mathematical constructs/proofs/explanations. This is why some teenagers do not understand Calculus for example; it is not in their blood. They *ARE* stupid, but they will not know this. It would be like holding a rational argument against a dog, attempting to convince the dog of its own stupidity & situation (compared to Man). It just will not work. Go even higher up the pyramid and people become fewer and fewer; competition also becomes ever more fierce. The stakes are raised as there is more to lose.

Power works the same way and is ultimately-tied to the Intellect as the foundation of the Individual.
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:48 am

Unreasonable wrote:
Baldassare Cossa wrote:
What about a Culture that thinks in terms of collectives? Human beings integrate - they are seldom as lonely, self sufficient, selfish and ruthless as such a notion of Power would conceive.
Societies/Cultures/Collective-organisms cannot exist without a singular mind dominating all lesser minds: the Individual.

Christians call this God, for example.


Baldassare Cossa wrote:
What about a system without human beings at all even? Or a completely different kind of creature, or even a hypthetically very different [differently socialised] human being.
Non-human systems operate under the same paradigm; it is universal. This is how & why behaviorism is explained via other species.


Baldassare Cossa wrote:
You will need to explain to me your concept of the Individual and his relation to Power [remember, I am trying to discuss Power and nothing more here - I am not fundamentally interested in the Individual, not primarily at least - can you see why starting with the individual leaves us incapacited when trying to scrutinise power? Hint: reflexivity].
Without the Individual, there is no Power, as I have said.

Think of human intellect like a pyramid. On the bottom, are mind-slaves, the obviously-stupidest people. This level can explain the behaviors of animals, young children, and retarded minds quite easily. At this level, actions & reactions are both predictable. As you move higher up, intelligence becomes exponentially-more complicated (from the point-of-view of a lesser mind). It becomes more difficult to understand words, language, and especially mathematical constructs/proofs/explanations. This is why some teenagers do not understand Calculus for example; it is not in their blood. They *ARE* stupid, but they will not know this. It would be like holding a rational argument against a dog, attempting to convince the dog of its own stupidity & situation (compared to Man). It just will not work. Go even higher up the pyramid and people become fewer and fewer; competition also becomes ever more fierce. The stakes are raised as there is more to lose.

Power works the same way and is ultimately-tied to the Intellect as the foundation of the Individual.


All of this makes for a very fair suggestion Unreasonable. It is 'true' what you say. I know I wrote quite a lengthy exposition, which carries many implications, and of course we don't have time perhaps to tease out the details.

What I am trying to ascertain perhaps, is this:

If power is indeed a more complex matter on an ascending pyramid - or any multidimensional system of power relations [for me, the pyramid is much much much too simplistic - a single glance at the world around you, even at a pack of stray dogs, makes this obvious], how can we scrutinise power perhaps in terms of it's impulsions as 'waves', or isolate it and attempt to scrutinise its 'behaviour' in quantum packets [excuse my use of weak tropes, for the sake of brevity here...].

This is what I'm trying to do - and to do this, 'power' must be isolated from an individual. first off - many questions and issues exist around 'just what an individual is', and of course all individuals are enmeshed, shaped, socialised in the pyramid - even the Elite at the top. basically, to overemphasise the individual is to skew the statistic, metaphorically speaking. We are omitting too many variables. I am trying to understand how power functions between individuals, groups or systems - rather than treat it as some odd form of inheritance or genetiic predisposition [which of course, obviously exists - and is indeed part of the puzzle, but not the entirety and I'm doubtful even if it is the prime locus].

I hope this serves as an Abstract to the thesis so to speak - it is an odd and tricky little question, even getting down into the roots of the question as you can see requires much reflexive self scrutiny, until the core is reached. Figuratively speaking of course.

Two more little recommendations:

"Societies/Cultures/Collective-organisms cannot exist without a singular mind dominating all lesser minds: the Individual.

Christians call this God, for example."

I am not sure if this is really a single mind, the Social Conception is a consensus, between elite minds, with a very complex history, a Geneology, an architecture and archaeology. It will have its tensions and consensus between many elites at the top of the pyramid - and the sheep beneath of course do a lot of moving around, and in turn - so does the 'God'... It is not easy to say if there is a single mind dominating at any one point, not even within an individual.

"Non-human systems operate under the same paradigm; it is universal. This is how & why behaviorism is explained via other species."

In other posts you have upheld a stronger thesis of what the naive would call 'relativism'. Remember a paradigm is a human agenda, and paradigms shift and rupture often [consider Kuhn, Foucault, Woolgar]. behaviourism - believe it or not - is regarded as the donkey in Psychology. Always taught to 1st years to get their minds kickstarted with simple debates about human agency. Modern USA abuses behaviourism because it can be quickly taught to a mob of FBI halwfits, cops, psychiatric nurses, jailwardens [who look after many pavlovian subspecies] and beauraucrats, and don't forget the journalists who need to describe 'causes' of crime or whatever - no wonder the US has a tough time trying to assert a strong culture and resolve its many social and political ills. Essentially, behaviourism is quasinazi naivety. The system that superseded it was Cognitive science, which used a rather weak version of logic which it borrowed computer scientists. Imagine a plumber trying out engineering. Later models, the latest craze if I recall is by some fellow called Jeffrey Younge, use a stew of pseudopsychoanalysis, holistic 'psychology', behaviourism and 'cognitive science'. Not to say that this heap of cheap little tools isn't useless - it certainly is handy when you need to quickly fix a wee problem. But what I'm suggesting is this - mantain a strong sense of distance from such black and white thinking, unless pragmatics calls for otherwise - do not let it be the main infrastructure of your thoughts.
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PostSubject: The nature of powers   Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:57 am

"Power is controlling somebody's behaviour. Everyone has
some power over himself, sometimes has power over others,
and is subject to somebody's power. A government official,
the police, the military, the mafia, a group of hooligans
have different power than a skilful agitator, a moving poet,
a charismatic priest. A wealthy person or an employers
will have yet another type of power."

A political anthropology, taking the individual as a base,
and not the institution of power or the concept of community,
revealing the fa├žade character of the modern state authorities,
which give way to extraterritorial and intercultural spiritual
and financial powers, which can now be assumed global:

http://new.eco.pl/powers.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Sat Feb 21, 2009 4:33 am

Polis, that looks like an interesting article, thanks for posting, it will take 'a little' time to read.
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PostSubject: Re: Power   Sat Feb 21, 2009 3:18 pm

Ah yes power.

Tricky to define to say the least. The knowledge i have come to inherit over the years is that power exemplifies ones own ability to either craftly manipulate or influence others, or gain universal control over an area (animate or inanimate) of fragility. However, THAT has been my fosterd definition of it, and it stands to be more appreciated than that. Now, My perpsective has altered quite substantially. I view power to be ANY process that one commits to to gain desired results. AND gain them consistently and effectivly from ones own ability. I also believe that this "process" of power is a natural process, although in our advanced society that process which is so eternally sacred to mankind has been disrupted by "designed" activities imposed into our lives. In other words, now that process can only be fulfilled through means that we ouselves have not created, which may result in negative feelings.
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