The currency of ideas and the narrative ploy

There’s no such thing as gravity, it’s a concept, utilised to explain aspects of reality. A well rounded concept, advanced in great detail, details that have been meticulously researched and tested but don’t allow yourself the delusion that gravity exits beyond the realm of idea. The thing about ideas is, is that we all have ’em and most never gain entry into a collective consciousness, they just clatter around in our heads. Which is just as well because most ideas are trivial: I’ve got an idea, I think I’ll scratch my nose, So we don’t really bother telling anyone else about those ideas do we, not unless our cognition has been seriously compromised, like those time you’re a odd number of sheets to the wind and simply have to articulate every single thing that pops into your head: ‘You’re my best mate you are’.

Just because ideas have no material reality doesn’t mean they’re not real, real in the sense, they have a concrete effect on the world. Which is why, the next time the Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on your door, you can tell them with absolute assurance, that yes there is a god, it’s just that he may or may not exist as a material entity, according to how you might reconcile that particular conundrum. Of course, if ideas are to have a meaningful influence upon reality, it probably means that they need to be resident within a domain larger than, just your head. This is where currency comes in, ideas cannot gain currency purely through communication but it’s the first step, the first of three, the next is, recognition followed by acceptance. If we take those conditions to be absolute then no idea ever gets beyond, communication, recognition and acceptance are never universal. I do believe, that even gravity is not universally accepted, I’m sure you’ll find a few people telling you the Earth is flat, granted most of ’em will be wee people, just shedding their milk teeth but they serve to illustrate the principle.

So we can say that ideas have varying degrees of currency, in that they differ in the level of recognition and acceptance associated with them. Now we come to an interesting question, is the currency of an idea, i.e. its level of recognition and acceptance within a collective conscious, the sole factor that determines its material impact on the world? The answer to that would be an emphatic, no. The thing intellectual currency shares in common with the fiscal variant, is that not all forms of currency are of equal intrinsic value, it’s also true to say that not all currency is of equal value to those who hold it, because of their varying ability, to utilise that intrinsic value. A label would be useful in this context so, we’ll call this, contingent value, which together with intrinsic value, and the level of currency are the factors that govern the impact of ideas upon reality. Another label would useful here, since currency in this context has been defined as dependant upon levels of recognition and acceptance, I will define the impact of an idea upon reality, as the moment of an idea, which seems apt, because moment is defined in its literal context as, a force acting about a fulcrum and the concept of a moment, in this context can be defined as, the realisation of idea.

So let’s summarise:

    1. Ideas are realised in reality.
    2. How effectively they are realised is dependant upon these factors: currency, intrinsic value, contingent value.
    3. Currency is defined as the level of recognition and acceptance of an idea.
    4. Intrinsic value, is the value intrinsic to an idea.
    5. Contingent value, is derived from the community through which currency is circulated and that community’s ability to realise an idea.
    6. Realisation of an idea, may be quantified as its moment.

So what is the narrative ploy you may ask, well take a look at the number four on the summery list, slightly circular statement but I though it was worth stating as explicitly as possible. Value: to whom would this value be pertinent and what conclusions, assumptions should we make about this value? For instance does value equate to truth or benefit? Well it might coincide with those but there is no equivalence. To illustrate let’s summon a hypothetical circumstance. Suppose you were a farmer and you made your living by harvesting beetroot on a piece of common land. Being common land, you don’t have exclusive rights to harvest and this could be a problem if competitors surfaced. So you promulgate the idea, that there are killer bears roaming this land and they’re a dire threat to anyone who dare step on it. This idea happens to be a lie, something you made up but it’s accepted universally as the truth. This idea would have great value to you, it might even be valuable to your customers, you could invest resources into cultivating the land, secure in the knowledge that you only, would harvest the fruits of your labour. It’s not the truth though and it wouldn’t be of value to your competitors.

I wonder, has the penny dropped yet? Probably not, lets go a bit further and explain how that hypothetical situation relates to the narrative ploy. A narrative in this context can be defined as any account of events or reality, from which a moral or principle can be derived or reinforced. The narrative itself, can be either fact or fiction but the likelihood of it being fictional, is related to ease with which the moral in question, is delineated. This is because truth, the real world, is complex to an infinite degree. The principle derived through our farmer’s story is simple, don’t harvest beetroot on the common, you’ll get eaten by bears. Do you see how simply and succinctly it was expressed? Well that’s a good indication, if you can summarise the principle derived through an idea in a single, easily comprehensible sentence, someone is probably lying to you.

Ideas in conflict with reality are also distinguished by the tendency towards universal applicability and repeatability of the narratives associated with them. Remember, the world is infinitely complex, so why are the stories you hear, always so familiar? Why is the bad guy so easily identified, why do my whites wash so much brighter in Sudso, why is margarine better than butter, why is voting for Mr. X better than for Mr. Y, why is that national leader a despot while I’m living in the free world?

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~ by deadspidereye on June 11, 2015.

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