Friday, October 16, 2015


The spectacle does not realize philosophy, it philosophizes reality. (From The Society of the Spectacle, "Thesis 19" by Guy Debord)

I can predict whether or not I will --
Or I could just take this little pill
Chemical imbalance is explanatory
Entirely reducible in the laboratory

Walking, but all the people are lying down
It's not my fault, it's just this intricate crown
I can't take it off or I'd die --
It was determined you'd have that reply

One example is all it will ever take
To force this science to shatter and break
Look around, nature is beautiful
Until you make it into a source of fuel

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Our Spectacular-Political Society, And Why It Must Be Destroyed

(I will put the most important footnotes in the comments; they are numbered.)

“...everything goes on as usual, and yet there is no longer any one who believes in it. The invisible spiritual bond which gives it validity no longer exists, and so the whole age is at once comic and tragic -- tragic because it is perishing, comic because it goes on.”
-Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Journalists and academics always talk about how there is nothing that links the mass murderers of our age. In other words, there is no quality that can predict who will become the next killer: not race or class, not religion or philosophy, not intensity of his fanaticism or degree of her of apathy. If there is any defining predicate, it always attains a level of obscurity that renders it meaningless; for example, “they are almost always men.” Despite this, I believe there is one unambiguous trait that does link them all: each one felt that he was completely alone. In light of the recent wave of mass shootings, which has now finally been acknowledged not as a prolonged media dramatization but as a newly emerging phenomenon, the society in which we currently find ourselves must come to terms with its own desolation.
Someone’s lying in the middle of a concrete room, howling out for a savior. Windowless echoes provide a tricky riddle: will he escape? The helpless convalescent suddenly recognizes that he must live, he understands that he must fight. But that is all -- literally, that is all. That he must live, that he must fight proves nothing but his own refusal of meaning: there is certainly a “that,” but most certainly not a clear “why.” The shut-in’s present situation has finally revealed that, for his entire life, he has wanted one thing -- but he has no idea what it is.
There is no mass enervation, no public lassitude. Every individual is continuously proven to display the most extreme fervor under the right circumstances. It is not idleness that shatters minds, but the severe lack of outlets for the energy innate within people. This is the infamous “societal malaise” which is so often referenced. In fact, the word “malaise” does not simply imply depression, which is the common understanding, but instead an unexplained anxiety. Millions of people all across the world sit in their rooms every day endeavoring to spell out why they feel the way they do. Fists clench in frustration under bedsheets each night, and dreams of endless sprinting are interrupted by the sunrise earlier than expected. Malaise feels like a confused defeat, wherein even the supposed progressivism of the modern age displays itself more or less as a disguised indifference.
For this reason, the suicides that conclude most of these tragic shootings are not meant to leave an abstruse stench, as they normally do, but on the contrary to clear up any ambiguities. Individuals are currently so isolated from one another that even when they directly see the outcomes of the most extreme forms of loneliness, they nonetheless are unable to recognize them. All of these squeaky-clean news anchors, who daily pretend to rediscover what is already known, continue on with their muddled fictions as they ensure their viewers, at all costs, that everything is alright. Everything is alright in a general sense, on a broader level, which is really only to reduce it to a purely individual problem. Hence the problematic symptoms of mass isolation are monstrously covered up with the process of individualization: “He should have been medicated”; “How did he get access to a gun?”; “It was because he was overmedicated”; “He had deep personal problems”; “I just can’t understand it, why would someone do such a thing?”; “He’s nothing more than a psycho terrorist”; “We need tighter regulations on problem individuals.” In a society that has eradicated all forms of attachment, all moments of real intensity, the average person is left in a state of complete and utter nullity.
It is a significant fact that the philosophy of existentialism surfaced with the advent of the “public” -- that massive dispositif which, absurdly enough, most effectively severs the connections between bodies. But Kierkegaard has already analyzed the “Present Age.” In a way, his philosophy was a response to the nothingness which was already emerging as early as the 19th century:
“Only when the sense of association in society is no longer strong enough to give life to concrete realities is the Press able to create that abstraction, ‘the public,’ consisting of unreal individuals who never are and never can be united in an actual situation or organization -- and yet are held together as a whole.”
This, of course, is not to fetishize violence or to praise mass shooters as warped antiheroes. These events are tragedies, no doubt. On the other hand, some of the most execrable aspects of these incidents are not considered lamentable at all. The thought of a pile of bodies drenched in blood lying across the tables of a school cafeteria is indescribably terrifying, but it is equally as appalling that we each endure like zombies, ignoring each other’s solemn hints, denying the dull pain of our current existence, refusing to explore the possibilities of a radically different form of life, or of any form of life at all. And once someone has finally decided to give up their hellish solitude in favor of an empty nothingness, we feign bewilderment and await the next catastrophe. This is the public: that mass of indifferent individuals, empty solitudes crowded together into a colorless herd. The newscasters are therefore completely correct when they say that these killers have declared war on “the public.”
Part of thesis #29 of the Society of the Spectacle might elucidate the cause and origin of the public to which Kierkegaard refers, and therefore its immediate corollary, public isolation:
“In the spectacle, a part of the world represents itself to the world and is superior to it. The spectacle is simply the common language of this separation. Spectators are linked solely by their one-way relationship to the very center that keeps them isolated from each other. The spectacle thus reunites the separated, but it reunites them only in their separateness.”
Better words could not have been chosen, but some degree of explanation is still necessary. It is helpful to imagine the wheel of a bike. If the spectacle is the very center of the wheel, then individuals in the society of the spectacle are the spokes. They are undeniably unified by the center, but are nonetheless separated from each other. In this way, the spokes are united in their separateness. This is exactly what Debord had in mind when he wrote this thesis. Now, Kierkegaard definitely believed that mass isolation was created by the peculiarities of the time he lived in, but he does not go into great depth in a genealogical sense. Nonetheless, there exists some supposedly neutral center that is required for something like the public, and therefore mass isolation, to emerge as an entity. The capitalist spectacle is therefore undeniably at least one part of this center which claims neutrality.
For clarity’s sake, it is important to note that there are a variety of phenomena that have allowed and encouraged the public to arise, but nonetheless do not attain the same power to compel that the spectacle does -- for example, early industrialization which transformed slaves and peasants into “human capital.” Human capital definitely emboldened the ascension of the public, as the economy now relied on a mass of workers and had some interest in keeping a large, unified workforce. Nonetheless, it would be dishonest to claim that something like the public, or even mass isolation, arose solely or fundamentally because of human capital theories. If some semblance of it did emerge, it was a primitive form, a prototype of sorts -- one that may have even been creeping along as early as the medieval era (1). A theory of human capital is perhaps necessary for the emergence of a public, but it is most likely not sufficient. The key difference here is that the spectacle creates a central show that draws in the attention of everyone, thereby creating a collective consciousness of sorts, or at least a consciousness of the process of unification. The advent of human capital alone is not able to create this same awareness in people:  it does not in any way push individuals to imagine themselves as part of a “public.”
Religion is another tempting candidate but still lacks certain necessary qualities to single handedly maintain a public order. The idea of a God has always served as a sort of central link for isolated individuals. However, theology has never contained enough strength to consistently unify, and, because of religion’s continual disintegration, mass isolation ironically disappears. The religious wars in Europe show how easily a religious centerpoint can collapse. Almost every religion in the world has been fractured at some point in its history. These fractures are caused by a certain intensity of the relationships between different groups of people. In other words, the schisms are successful revolts against the public isolation that derives from the attempt at religious unification. The question is, if religion so easily reaches a central position in most cultures, why is it unable to maintain that position in the same way the spectacle does? It seems that it lacks a few key elements.
Firstly,even if religion can perhaps be considered a predecessor to the modern spectacle, the spectacle’s fundamental advantage is modern teletechnology. Its ability to instantly display certain images to hundreds of millions of people is an historical anomaly peculiar to our times alone. This has enabled an efficient and instant system for the suppression of schisms, by allowing them. That is, allowing them in a recuperated form, in a diminished state that allows them to be integrated into the whole. Guy Debord discusses this aspect of the spectacle in his followup work to Spectacle in The Comments, and Giorgio Agamben furthers the conversation in his “Marginal Notes on the Comments.” Religion lacks this quality and therefore should not itself be considered fundamental to the maintenance of a public.
More importantly though, religion, and even the spectacle, lack physical force (2). This is a weakness with which any neutral center, once taken entirely on its own, must contend. Even the spectacle, which would nonetheless last much longer than religion without the use of force, would inevitable collapse without the support of a government form. Carl Schmitt, in his work Political Theology, has already shown that every modern political concept is a secularized theological doctrine. The modern state absorbed all of the powerful qualities of religion -- and then amplified them dramatically with the use of an army. Thus the other fundamental half of the origin of the public was born: the modern, secularized state.
Rome was the first and only civilization to create an ancient prototype for the modern state, far ahead of its time. Hence we find the origin of the word “public” in the Latin language. In fact, the only reason Christianity -- that monolithic tyrant of Europe -- was able to spread so far and wide was because of the Roman state’s sudden support of the theology. The collapse of a unified Europe came shortly after, though (3), so a public order never fully emerged, although this was the closest attempt in ancient times. This period of history temporarily contained weakened forms of the two necessary preconditions for the creation of a public: a neutral, ubiquitous center, and a powerful, unified state. But even though senators discussed res publica, there was no actual public. The vast majority of those living under the empire had no true center through which they were unified, and local affiliations were consistently stronger, albeit not frequently revolutionary in nature. Nonetheless, this etymology shines light on how crucial a state apparatus can be in creating a public order.
The modern state facilitates the creation of a public, and then has the ability to continuously force that entity into existence by laughably declaring itself the protector of this very fiction. Specifically, no entity, such as a technological religion (4) or the spectacle, could survive as a neutral centerpoint without the support of a modern state. If the spectacle was not supported by such an immense apparatus, as it has been for the entirety of its existence, perhaps it would collapse, or perhaps it would create a state in its name that maintains it. Either way, physical force seems necessary in order to compel individuals to have unanimous faith in such an entity. Just as medieval christianity used the power of governments to at least prolong its fractured collapse, the spectacle uses the fear imposed by modern states to prevent the destruction of its glass citadels. In particular, the blatant lack of respect for commodities is what cops most often struggle to combat: theft accounts for millions of dollars worth of corporate losses every year. Since the state is to some extent defined by its monopoly on force, and since force seems to be required for the imposition of a neutral center, the state is a fundamental condition, once combined with an entity like the spectacle, for the creation of a public.
The modern state and the spectacle are both necessary in maintaining a public order. Now, even though I have hitherto described the state as upholding the power of a neutral center (i.e. the spectacle), the reverse also frequently holds true. That is, the spectacle works to support the legitimacy of the modern state, in obvious ways. Christianity engaged similarly with the medieval states, but, as mentioned in a previous footnote, it also came into conflict with those states. This is another reason why religion was never able to maintain its power: it did not share the same foundations as its states. It is therefore problematic to even separate the spectacular-political order into “spectacle” and “state,” or to claim that one causes and supports the other, as the two work together in a mutually symbiotic way, imposing the most excruciating unification, represented best by the all-too-familiar office building full of cubicles. In the final analysis, it is this spectacular-political order, this marriage between spectacle and state, which has begotten the public and its chronic emptiness.
One genealogy of the public is now laid bare. With the progression of the modern state, and then the emergence of the spectacle, the public was born -- enforced by the state and unified in separation by the spectacle. Its history is a complicated one, but it undeniably fought against the tides of time and placed itself firmly at the core of our society. Thus is the West: that paradise of Prozac. The implications of this genealogy, then, are quite dramatic: an entirely personal battle against isolation is inseparable from the revolution against capitalism. Similarly, the fight against capitalism is indivisible from a purely social insurrection against any sort of notion of “the public” and its revolting individualization.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Public Education.....

Like a chocolate-enthusiast studying the genius of a Reese’s Peanut butter cup, or a junkie studying the sinister allure of the speedball[1], scholars have examined the relationship between education and politics throughout the centuries. Largely an issue of how to educate a citizenry that is respectful and conducive to society, those with political might and power deliberate on the desirable means of education. Such wasn’t always the case. Education (and its burden) was once concentrated within the family: parents shared the responsibility of educating their offspring. As civilizations developed, politics came into fruition, and individual liberties were greatly reduced in favor of a larger, cooperative society. It became evident that the traditional, family-oriented education system was not ideal for the development of society; more structured systems of education were necessary.
So what is to be done? How is the state supposed to foster and sustain education? Plato, the first to fully formalize an entire educational system driven by the sate, is arguably the most influential figure when discussing the politics of education. This essay discusses how Plato uses Socrates and The Republic to propose a systematic form of education controlled by an autocratic state. Regulated from pre-birth to death, the rigid model heavily relies on absolute planning, execution, and oversight from the state in order to effectively lead citizens towards virtuous and enlightened lives (that being the ultimate goal of education for Plato). A strict curriculum, exhaustive censorship, and the perpetuation of propaganda are integral features to Plato’s model and necessary for the sustainability of the ideal state.
To effectively grasp the context and reasoning surrounding Plato’s model for education, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of Plato’s emphasis on the importance of virtues. Plato outlines four virtues—wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice—whose influence dictates his educational model. The ultimate goal of education for Plato is to fashion citizens who encompass these four virtues seamlessly, in turn leading to a virtuous society and ideal state. But how does Plato arrive at this conclusion?  Why? Socrates initiates the discussion by asking “What is justice?”. If justice is attainable—at the individual level and more importantly, the societal level—then it becomes necessary to ask what it is that would support such a just republic. What virtues support a just republic and how do we teach them? These questions provide the foundation for Plato’s educational system, giving it legitimacy and purpose.
The four virtues are first—formally and comprehensively—discussed in Book Four of The Republic. Wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice are concluded to be the most crucial for securing a just republic; those who embody Plato’s four virtues lead to the ideal state. Wisdom—the ability to see clarity in all things and discern right from wrong—provides an intellectually sound relationship for citizens, in which rationale and understanding lead to a more fulfilled cooperation. Courage—the ability to put your life on the line fighting and defending your state and its ideals—fashions citizens who are loyal and determined to the longevity of the state. Moderation—having an understanding of your determined place[2] and adhering to such an understanding—ensures a citizenry that is disciplined and works together. Finally, justice—of which only the nature is understood—imposes a defined system of regulation within society, allowing for stability and civility. It is important to note that all four virtues largely revolve around the relationship between people and their society, i.e. they are political in nature. By ascribing attainment and fulfillment of these virtues to the ultimate goal of education, Plato renders education political: education only serves for political ends, ensuring cooperation within society. Understanding the virtues as the end-goals of education allows for a greater understanding and depth of the prominent features in Plato’s education model.
The state is the sole planner for the education model to be implemented in society. By wielding absolute power, the state formulates a strict curriculum revolved around both physical and musical[3] education. Such a curriculum ensures an ideal balance between the physical and mental state, in which students embody the four important virtues. It isn’t until Book Three of The Republic that a clear idea of Plato’s intended curriculum begins to take hold. Here, Socrates makes the claim that the only necessary types of education are “physical” and “musical”… striking the right balance between the two types is both ideal and necessary for producing virtuous citizens. Simply put, physical education nourishes the body, while musical education nourishes the mind. Through physical education, citizens are taught discipline and essential militaristic skill, ensuring the safety and protection of the state. This is where courage (along with moderation) as a virtue is most trained. From a young age, children engage in sports, gymnastics, and other forms of physical activity, harnessing their acrobatic skill and might. Physical education precedes musical education, largely a consequence of little development in the rational mind in young children. Once children reach an age that allows them to productively employ their faculties towards rational ends, musical education is introduced, ultimately allowing for training in the virtues of wisdom and justice. Through musical education, citizens are taught the nature of life. A combination of [manipulated] tales[4], mathematics, and philosophy guide the curriculum allowing for the concepts of justice, reason, and understanding to be tacit. Strict guidelines for in-depth musical education exist: at the age of 20, students who thus far have exhibited a strong physical and mental presence, are chosen as part of an ‘elite’ group to study mathematics. 10 years later, at the age of 30, the best mathematics students are chosen to study philosophy. From ages 35-50, the advanced group is required to perform public service, effectively employing their lifelong education towards productive ends. This requirement is exemplary of various throughout the curriculum, where students are required to prove their worth in order to advance in their (at this point, musical) education. Remember, Plato’s education model is geared towards a virtuous citizenry; tests are necessary and efficient at ensuring the ultimate goal’s realization. This fits nicely with his theory of specialization[5], emphasizing that people are to do according to their ability and requirement, in turn, reinforcing moderation as a virtue. Through and through, emphasis on physical and musical education, as well as strict adherence to the curriculum, produces virtuous citizens for a virtuous society.
In addition to being the sole planner for Plato’s educational model, the state is the sole executor. Through comprehensive censorship—one of the largest necessary factors for effective execution of the model[6]—the state ensures manifestation of the educational model, allowing for proper execution of the planned curriculum. For Plato, anything that is taught outside of the explicit curriculum put forth by the state (aka his own) is detrimental to his vision of a virtuous society. Book Ten offers readers the clearest view of this notion, with Plato using Socrates to deride poetry, tales, and epics—particularly that in the Homeric tradition. Socrates outlines how these tales are misleading to young children with little-to-no rationale: “A young thing can’t judge what is hidden sense and what is not; but what he takes into his opinions at that age has a tendency to become hard to eradicate and unchangeable”. According to Socrates, education based on traditional poetry[7], is flawed for three reasons: poets are imposters who pretend to know all sorts of things when they know nothing (the images and stories they paint are so far removed from reality that they can’t possibly be taken seriously); second, poets only emphasize the negative qualities of humans, which while could be argued to act as a cautionary tale, only serves to provide justification for the wrongdoings of people in that they point to examples of revered characters exhibiting the same negative qualities/wrongdoings; finally, poetry corrupts the reader’s soul, making even the most educated sympathetic for people that are generally not virtuous… examples of which are given throughout Book Ten. What ultimately results is a showdown between education that is founded on philosophy versus that of poetry. Poetry evidently fails to produce virtuous citizens, and so education derived through philosophy and a curriculum imposed by the state and only the state is necessary. Censorship is vital.   
The heavy censorship implemented during the necessary step between planning and execution of Plato’s educational model only allows for the state to introduce and impose its model; it is not sufficient enough to ensure the model’s sustainability over time. The state, therefore, turns to proliferating its set of ideals, effectively creating propaganda. The continued perpetuation of propaganda throughout society is essential to the state’s oversight of the educational model. It should already be evident that the state has absolute control over every aspect of education. They leave nothing to chance, in that every possible thing that could inspire alternative thought is eliminated. Largely, this is in the form of censoring poetry. However, Plato isn’t ignorant to the importance of imagination, nor the power of poetry, tales, and epics in and of themselves. He recognizes its merits and understands that a diversity of opinion only strengthens the [rational] mind. To compensate for the state’s mass censorship, Plato suggests the creation of new poems, tales, and epics… ones that would manipulate student’s minds and imaginations in the state’s interests. Plato ultimately invents propaganda. The goal is to create tales that are direct in nature; they don’t make it hard for children to discern right from wrong, and the importance of Plato’s four virtues are vigorously emphasized. In Book Three, Socrates outlines an example of how this can be achieved. Say, the state wants to ensure that people understand that solely the philosopher-kings are forever to remain the rulers of society. It would then be in the interest of the state to create a tale, a myth, that would manipulate citizens into thinking so. Socrates offers a potential myth, often coined as “The Myth of the Metals”. In it, the original peoples were born from the natural earth, in turn ensuring dedication and servitude to that place on Earth, just as they would to parents. Additionally, different citizens have different metals within them according to their ability: rulers have gold, auxiliaries have silver, and producers have bronze.  An oracle states that only those with gold within them may rule, or else their society will be devastated. While unlikely, it is possible for people to produce offspring with different metals than theirs, therefore justifying the state’s monitoring of the children throughout their development. The state would hate to miss on a potential philosopher-king simply because their parents weren’t fit. Ultimately, the myth proves how the state will never fail to ensure that only those fit to rule will remain rulers. Seeing the powerful effect that such a myth would have on society and Plato’s ultimate end-goal for education is crucial to understanding the importance of propaganda and its sustaining of the state’s ideals.
The amount of time and space invested on Plato’s educational model in The Republic may be surprising to most. The parameters of this essay unfortunately restrict the freedom to truly dive deeply into the text to uncover all things related to his model, however it is highly encouraged to read The Republic itself, along with other sources. Outside of a deeper understanding of the features discussed above, reading the text will provide for a greater appreciation of the influence that Plato and his model exert over the relationship between politics and education. Recurring themes from The Republic have been and remain evident in different respects throughout the world. Plato heavily influenced contemporary philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau in his own influential educational treatise, titled Emile. In the literary world, George Orwell—in his tour-de-force novel, 1984—essentially created a world where Plato’s educational model is heavily borrowed from, if not mimicked. And even today, the effects are all around us…at the very least prominent in constitutional democracies/forms of government. These governments have adapted to the notions of free, compulsory, state regulated systems of education, also known as the “public school”. These are but a few examples of the weighted importance of The Republic and its deliberations on education.

[1] A combination of cocaine and heroin injected directly into the bloodstream.
[2] Plato notes earlier in The Republic, that an ideal society has its citizens divided into 3 classes: the producers (farmers, artisans, etc), the auxiliaries (warriors, defenders), and the guardians (rulers, those in charge)
[3] “Music” being used loosely to encompass all forms of education that are essential to the mind.

[4] These tales are to be taught at a young age. They are manipulated in that they are censored and fashioned as propaganda for the state (to be discussed later in the essay). The goal of these tales is to highlight the four virtues, teaching the students the positives of human characteristics.
[5] Outlined earlier in The Republic and exemplified in the 3 ideal class systems
[6] Comprehensive censorship provides the education model with a homogenous, untainted foundation for knowledge, in which anything that is even remotely outside of that foundation is completely eliminated. This allows the state to start with a clean slate, adding anything that they deem necessary to the curriculum. This paragraph will focus on the censorship of arts and poetry.
[7] Which, keep in mind, was the education for the Greeks at the time.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

On Computational Models

Alright, I'm going off the cuff here, so this post may not be at Max-level quality, but I'm not entirely sure where I stand on this issue so I'd just like to share my thoughts as they come to me.

To start, I would like to comment on the seemingly fundamental order of the universe as we perceive it. Throughout history, we have found countless examples of this order: from the simple fact that particles and macroscopic objects are discrete (self-contained, distinct), to Newton's observations of gravity's consistency, to more current scientific breakthroughs that I won't pretend I know about. Our observations about the order and constancy of the universe led us to attribute a deterministic model to it. That is, from our perspective, it seems like the universe had some initial conditions and rules governing its operation, and all action within the universe since its beginning has been causally determined by these rules and conditions. To make a little more clear what I mean, initial conditions include how much energy is in the universe, initial velocities of particles, etc, and rules include gravity, magnetism, etc. So, simply put, it seems like the universe started with a certain amount of particles with rules about how they interact, and our universe today is the result of those causally determined interactions.

For the sake of this post, I'd like to assume that the universe is deterministic. The general human experience points toward this being the case -- but after reading Hume and Descartes I can't say that we actually know that the universe is deterministic. For all we know the rules have changed, and will continue to change -- or maybe an evil demon is making me imagine everything! This gets away from the point, though, so bear with me on this assumption of the order and determinism of the universe.

This sort of deterministic behavior is exactly what computers are good at modeling, and it's no coincidence that the advent of computational modeling has been crucial in modern day science (especially physics). Computers take inputs, follow rules with what to do with those inputs, and send a certain output to a certain place depending on what the input was and what the rules said to do. All that you do as a programmer is tell the computer what inputs to expect, and give it a set of rules for what to do with those inputs. The universe works in a very similar fashion -- particles and objects receive inputs from other particles and objects and react accordingly -- and so computational models go hand in hand with the physical world.

As a simple example of how this would work so that you can wrap your head around what I mean, consider a universe with nothing in it but two bodies of mass, and no rules but gravity. If these objects are close enough, and initially moving, then when you "hit play" on the universe, the objects should begin to orbit. This is deterministic behavior -- their behavior is entirely determined based on their masses and proximities, as well as the rule of gravity. This simple universe would lend itself to an equally simple model, but I'll need to explain a bit about Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) first.

There are 4 main components of OOP: classes, methods, and fields, and objects. For our purposes, an object is just what it sounds like -- a thing/object. Objects have methods that describe what the object can do, and fields that describe the object's properties. A class, finally, is how you describe the general form of an object, and you create objects by making a new instance of the class.

So how does this apply to our simple universe model? Well, first we need a class that can generally describe a body of mass -- a BodyOfMass class. It would have fields for mass, location, and velocity. It would have one method (called move, or gravitate, something like that) that describes how it should follow the rule of gravity when other BodyOfMass's are around. Now that we have made the general class, we create our 2 objects -- called body1 and body2 -- and set their fields (meaning we can give them masses, velocities, and locations). Finally, we call their methods (gravitate/move), and those methods look at the different masses and locations associated with the different bodies of mass, and then move the objects accordingly.

For fun, here's (roughly) how that would look in Java (code in bold, my comments in light):

BodyOfMass body1 = new BodyOfMass(mass=3000, location=(25,25), velocity=6);
(**body1 is a BodyOfMass with mass 3000, location (25,25), and velocity 6)**)
BodyOfMass body2 = new BodyOfMass(mass=2000, location=(35,70), velocity=0);
(**body2 is a BodyOfMass with mass 2000, location (35,70), and velocity 0**)
(**"start up" our universe and tell the bodies to start following the rule of gravity**)

I really hope I explained that well, because understanding this is very important if I'm going to go on to describe a model of our more complex universe, and eventually the brain. The key points to get here are that (1) the universe is deterministic, (2) computers are good at modeling deterministic behavior, (3) they are good at this because OOP is all about initial conditions and rules governing action, just like determinism is. It will probably help to understand what I mean by method/class/object/field, but at this point I've already spent way too long on the subject.

Okay so, briefly, let me relate this alllll the way back to our deterministic perception of the universe. Fundamentally, our universe is no different than the simple one I described above, we just started with a lot more mass and a lot more rules. But you can (I hope) see the pattern -- as long as the universe is nothing but initial conditions (objects/classes/fields) and rules (methods), we can model it computationally just as we modeled our simple universe with few conditions and one rule.

Our universe wouldn't be as simple, though, and for the sake of making the brain less of a leap I'd like to describe how we would have to model our universe. It would have to be a bottom-up approach in order to work properly, meaning the model would attempt to model the behavior of the smallest subatomic particles, and have the operations of more macroscopic objects be a result of the amalgamation of these particles. So we have a Proton, Neutron, and Electron class, each with their different conditions and rules, and next level up we have an Atom class that can be composed of different amounts and combinations of Protons, Neutrons, and Electrons, and after that we have Molecules as being made up of Atoms, etc etc. Theoretically, we should be able to model all of the action in our universe just by describing the rules governing the interaction of these subatomic particles because everything is made up, at its core, of these particles.

Finally, I'd like to end with an attempt to relate this all to the brain. I am a materialist, and believe that I am nothing but a body with a brain (no soul, no mind, no nothing that isn't explicitly made of matter). What seems to follow is that the actions of the brain are, therefore, deterministic just like the actions of the universe. After all, our brains are made of matter, and the action of all matter is causally determined. Certainly, the operation of an individual neuron is determined -- they have a set "action potential" needed in order to "fire," and once that potential is reached, they ions flood down into the next neuron (google the phrase "action potential" if you need more convincing here). Even a system of 2 neurons is completely determined. The first either has enough energy to fire, or it doesn't, and if it does it excites the next neuron enough to make it fire, or it doesn't. Based on how much energy was initially given to the first neuron, and how much energy it releases when it fires, we can determine the behavior of the second neuron. This works the same way for a system of 3 neurons, and I can keep adding them one at a time until I have a conscious brain. The point is that the brain is nothing but neurons, whose behavior is deterministic, and so the behavior of the brain is deterministic...

...which (remember) is exactly what computers are good at modeling. I make a Neuron class, make a bunch of Neuron objects from that class, and hit play. If I knew exactly the rules governing the operations of a neuron, and the exact configuration of neurons in a given brain at given time (including how excited they are, where they are, how they are connected), I could model that brain using my Neuron objects, hit play, and have a brain in my computer.