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Rhythm and Self-Conciousness
In Platos time, philosophy was on the cutting edge of human knowledge. The concept of form, or ideas, or generality, or abstraction, became the building block of knowledge in many fields. To know the true properties of the generality meant knowing the specifics. Whether in science or engineering or business management, one first becomes acquainted with the general principle before applying it to situations demanding such expertise.
However, civilization has moved on. We are now living in an age of electronic communication where the human participant needs a different set of skills. In a word, what is needed is rhythm. He or she needs to perform in a skilled, rhythmic manner. No one can learn how to hit baseballs like Babe Ruth or sing songs like Elvis Presley by acquiring such knowledge in schools. The requirements are more elusive.
Platonic form is conceived as an object that exists objectively, independent of the thinker who grasps its abstraction. Rhythm, however, dwells in the performer himself. Rhythm is an innate skill enhanced by habit and a peculiar kind of knowledge that puts a person in the groove or gives that person a mental edge while performing. It comes within the province of sports psychologists, coaches and trainers to impart that knowledge, however imperfectly.
There is an historical dimension to this discussion. The philosophy of form was developed in a time when written language had recently been introduced to human culture. Words were form; and Socratic questioning sought knowledge of their true nature and meaning. But now the dominant culture is electronic as modern Americans immerse themselves in sound and video recordings and watch television. The electronic media allow rhythmic performances to be preserved as spectacles even as written language allowed thoughts to be preserved. But thought is quite a different kettle of fish than performance in music or sports. Rhythm is quite different than form.
The book, Rhythm and Self-Consciousness, explores the concept of rhythm as if it were an ideal such as goodness, beauty, or truth. As such it is a next generation work of philosophy. This is the philosophical accompaniment to the history expressed in Five Epochs of Civilization that looks at civilization from the standpoint of changing communication technologies.
Links to related pages:
A statement of the concepts
An example of each concept
Self-consciousness as a causal force in the world
about the book
full text of the book (Rhythm and Self-Consciousness: New Ideals for an Electronic Civilization)
This is a philosophical companion to Five Epochs of Civilization - in fact, the ideological matrix from which it sprang.
Entertainment summary (Civilization IV)
Relationship Between Cultural Technologies and Civilization (Then click on CivII)
Why its impossible to predict the future of the stock market (because of self-conscious thought)
On the Cutting Edge of Knowledge (the most advanced techniques of discovering or expressing truth in each age)
Click for a translation into:
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