situating oneself within vector fields

Ok, this one will be a bit all over the place…

Isn’t it peculiar to think what drives people to live their lives. It’s differences, it’s vectors of change that drive us – especially as singular devotions such as religions are fading away. Most parents want that their children have it ‘better’ than they had it. More happiness, less pain, more money, less conflicts with relatives… those are all vectors into a direction, not just points. Of course there are singular drivers (called goals) as well, like a certain career, a project, a family and so on. But what is the context of those? Family, society in the context of its history… biology as a whole eventually? Since there is no absolute scripture that commands us how to live our life we can’t help but orientate ourselves within a vector field of infinitely many possible directions for change, for development, for betterment, for stability and whatever else we call the thing that is supposed to happen at a certain density along a vector.

Situating ourselves within differences seems to be a pretty universal pattern for the human experience, no? One subset of the social space in which this comes to light clearly is for instance the ‘checking each other out’ type of behaviour. You can’t really know instantly if someone is trustworthy so you are ‘filtering’ him through a social field. See how he behaves with others, how others relate to him and maybe tell you about him afterwards. The net of relative positioning needs to tighten before you have an idea of his personality.

We (have to) build compressed representations of things, people, knowledge, etc. as our inner model of it. How accurately this model maps the real thing can vary drastically, depending on the mind that builds the model. This is like data sense-making works… aggregate as much metadata as possible and then have that collapse in a set of entities and identities.

A certain degree of ‘objectifi-ability’ needs to be exhibited (by a person) to allow continuing the outside-in approach of having metadata (reactions, 3rd party opinions…) tighten the representation of identity.

What’s an ‘opinion’. It’s an output of your inner model. It’s a shortcut to be able to make decisions without knowing a full system. Very few system can be fully known. An opinion is kind of like a statistical prediction… but then there is the emotional part in it that can be bent so very easily depending on ones traumata, wishes, fears and so on.

What’s the solid ground laws are based on. Obviously a set of moral and ethical learnings from history that tell us how societies become/stay stable, economies prosper, a set of values like personal freedom are protected and so on…

The human experience: suspended in gradients without absolute ground, deploying strategies to tighten enough vectors into something solid that feels like a purpose and a meaning :)


Published by

Benjamin Aaron Degenhart

Currently pursuing a Masters in Computational Science and Engineering at TU Munich.

2 thoughts on “situating oneself within vector fields”

  1. When I read this, one thing came into mind: Cellular Automata.
    The oneself you are referring to, I equate this to a single cell in an automaton. Of course this is a very simplified version of a self, or individual if you may, but doesn’t all complexity begin somewhere?
    Can you remember the subject “Angewandte Mathematik” that we had in the second(?) semester in which we simulated a forest fire using Mathematica? It was possible to adjust the ‘behaviour’ of the individual cells and thus determine how fast the fire spread, or in which direction it spread, or which ‘trees’ would catch fire. This is a basic representation of how a self would react to environmental stimuli. Couple this with some machine learning algorithms and we have cells displaying ‘character’ for they can react to what they experienced in the step of the simulation.
    When which character trait flares up is governed by statistics and probability. But without a certain unpredictability, irrationality, and randomness, this wouldn’t be human like. We are pre-programmed by our genealogy, history, culture, religion etc to think in a specific way, yet once in a while we display tendencies that go against this pre-programming.
    Yes, this is somehow all over the place :-).


    1. Hey Anthony, interesting that it makes you think of CA`s. Each cell is discrete and binary wheras vectors fields are continous gradients – however, CA`s might very well exhibit continous behaviour patterns from a more distant perspective.
      Yes, I sure do remember the forest-fire assignment in Mathematica, that was great!


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