Perfect Practice:

Practice Makes Perfect

...but can be dangerous. So it is betterr to have a "dry run" -in the form of a simulation, or a game -where essential skills can be practiced, or complex situations can be investigated without the danger of anything disasterous happening.

Doing Something "not for real" much safer, but in a sense, divorces the original process from its original (or normal) function.

 The "not for real" aspect shifts the focus away from the efectiveness of the result (because the final result is excluded from the process -for saftyreasons) thus shifting the focus of attention towards the nature of the process itself.

This tends to create a  meta-process (partly because one is also forced to study the process in order to emulate it).

The intention behind the creation of a Meta-System is not to change the state of an existing system (as one would normally do in practical situations) -but to create a new "system/process" (time/space machine) which is a (non-functioning) emulation of an existing functional system: Or, to be precice -if thinking in system terms -one creates  a new process, which needs to be embedded in a system which forms its (defining) environment.

Generally speaking: Kids play games and intellectuals create Meta-Systems..... but the process is probably the same....

"Playing the Game" is not about winning:

In the days before sport became commercialised -it was sometimes said that British wars were won on the playing fields of Eton.

Presumably, this is a reference to the way, historically, Britain has often managed to turn both success and defeat on the battlefield into long-term diplomatic victory. Britain also had a tradition of "playing for the sake of the game" and not for the sake of winning. A tradition that was apparently encouraged at Eton -an expensicve (boarding) school where many important people sent their children.

Perhaps as a result, for example: The Anglo-American (guerrilla) War of Independance, was lost by the British -and yet still managed to produce a close politcal. cultural and economic relationship (perhaps unfortunately, some might say) which has lasted many years.

Physical and Conceptual:

Of course, the same process that creates "Games"and "Meta-Systems" also creates "models" -which can be seen (in practical terms) as being "concrete" Meta-Systems....

In practice this view becomes complicated by the fact that it is perhaps easier to understand a physical model as being a kind of practical (and physical) Meta-system -but less easy to maintain the same viewpoint in reverse -when concidering a non-physical (conceptual) "Meta-System" as a conceptualisation of a physical model. This is probably because western cultural traditions conditioned us to equate "practical" with "physical" and so it can become difficult to see the parallels between conceptual and practical systems, Perhaps an unfortunate example of this is the way modern digital theory seems to view "digitization" in terms of "dematerialisation" -which, it then appears to assume, implies that there are no restraints at all any more: Apparently failing to see that although all physical restraints may have been removed -this does not imply that all conceptual restraints can, or should, also disappear.

Model Languages:

If one can equate "models"with Meta-systems -then one can also relate the concept of "language" to the concept of "model".

It then apears that a "language"is a set of procedures that allow the generation of models (all of which have the shared characterisitics that are the consequences of the syntax of the system).

Of course, fundamental to the acceptance of this position is the acceptance of  "language" as a "syntactic" system -which then has an additional "semantic" layer -so that the concept of "language" does not automatically imply a related "meaning".

Within a semantic based philosophical tradition (such as we are used to in the west) this is probably a difficult step to take.... Howeve, it is probably essential -or we shall be looking for "meaning" at a stage where it does not yet exist -and our understanding of the linguistic process will automatiocally become distorted.

Perfection knows no Improvement:

On a practical level -this all boils down to the simple question:

How do things work -and how can they be made to work better?

Unfortunately, this simple question also leads to a whole maze of very complicated answers -almost all of which end up by asking even more questions than they ever get around to answering.....

Questions like: How do we know that we have got the answer right?
 -and how do we know there isn't an even better answer?

Simultaniously Bigger and Smaller:

Basically, on the meta-level, one is studying the process and not the meaning of the process.....

 .....unless of course the situation is made even more complicated because we are studying a process in which the implications and meaning of the process is an essential part of the process itself.

This would imply that the term "abstraction" is bsically concerned with a "meta-process".

This may sound a little confusing -because one might associate a meta-process with something that operates on a "higher" level -while "abstraction" tends to suggest that much has been removed (or lost) and so the 'abstraction" is (in some way) smaller than the original....

I guess the solution to this is that the "meta-system" "encompasses" the original -but does so by ignoring all non-essential aspects of the original......  Perhaps it is only our conditioning with regard to thinking in terms of the physical universe (perhaps even when thinking abstractly) that prevents us from imagining something that encompasses something else which is larger than itself.....

However, in an "abstract" world of thought -we must sometimes learn to think in terms of the actual qualities that we have invented (with all the possibilities and restraints that this implies) -without trying to imagine possible counterparts in the real world.

Perhaps this explains why "religious" thinkers have sometimes made such important philosophical contributions -because they are used to contemplating the non-physical. In fact, their logic of trying to understand the non-physical in terms of the pysical is probably the reverse of the way most people (with the possible exception of artists) -as most people seem to  think from the non-physical (example) to the physical and practical (implementation).....

The Apple and the Snake:

Indeed, the complexity and dangers of the Meta/Model process -have for a long time suggested to me that these dangers may well represent the "message" hidden in the biblical myth of Adam and the apple:

 Literally, once one has eaten from the tree of knowledge -then the simple joys of innocence are gone for good.

The price of attemting to "beat the system" in order to transcend the limitations of one's own existance -can be very high indeed. Not only is there a big chance of failure -and getting lost along the way -but, in many cases, the dangers of success can be greater than those of failure.

Knowledge is Power:

If knowlege gives power -and power corrupts -then, presumably, knowledge corrupts too!

Perhaps this is why many traditional knowledge systems appear to have built in "defense" systems that attempt to exclude those who would abuse the knowledge -as indeed perhaps there ars systems of knowledge (perhaps increasingly our own western educational system) which is actually intent on abusing knowlege by using the resulting power for selfish ends....

This thread is expanded further in the section on Pathological Systems.


If Time/Space is primarily concerned with "Process" -then Language is (Time/Space related system) primarily concerned with "understanding" .

Either the search for understanding (syntax) -or the expression of understanding (semantics).....

    While Grammar articulates space:
              Interpretation defines and "understands" the implications (meaning) of space....

Trevor Batten
Manila, September 18 2006