The (arguably) Necessary Implications
Of Knowing That One is One and All Alone
And (or so it seems, but then?) Ever More Shall Be So

Copyright © by Barnabas D. Johnson

As God completed the work of Creation at sunset of the sixth day, we are told, God created the first set of tongs — the first tool — because "tongs can only be made with other tongs." [1]



Freedom of Inquiry is our paramount value because it guarantees that each of us may freely inquire (for example) how the concept "God is Yahweh" should be interpreted in light of the fact that those desert dwellers three millenniums ago used "Yahweh" to denote (point to) a finger pointing to a finger beckoning us towards further inquiry, ever-further seeking; and what we find is that "Yahweh" long ago meant not a Being but a Becoming.

We cultivate knowledge. We are explorers, world-makers and world-shakers. Our explorations dive to the heart of tacit or unarticulable major premises of existence. And seemingly everything we discover in this existential quest partakes of the "turtles all the way down" meme. Indeed, that meme remains a metaphrand seeking a serviceable metaphier: an apt word or phrase to midwife an aborning metaphor, or algorithm, or global-to-local constitutional blueprint, or perhaps even some future icon like Lincoln, or Mandela.

For the time being, we shall let a turtle be that icon. Slow and steady, finding (a gerund, a word-noun) being our path, as it were. Let us call that turtle "Huh?" — the seemingly universal human "word" for Tell Me More.

An invitation to further inquiry.


Differences that Make a "Difference"

The First Trinity — tri-unity [2] — of the Western World was the Mythos, the Logos, and the Nomos.

Ontology (What is?), epistemology (How do we know what is?), and teleology (So what?), were a triune or three-part "growth" out of the Logos element.

They, and especially teleology, played a crucial role in creating the Nomos element — thereby converting the Mythos-Logos dyad into the Mythos-Logos-Nomos triad: the First Trinity. See Note on Dyads and Triads.

This essay illuminates that story.


Law, properly understood, "is" — or is "of" — Nomos, albeit even "is" and other basic underpinnings of our concepts of existence, and of relationships among things and ideas, are deeply metaphorical; indeed, as we shall see, "is" and "are" and "am" are all rooted in the same ancient word, asmi meaning, to breathe. We know that "existence" is more than mere "word games"; yet our words and ideas "play us" as we seek to discern what that "more" is … or can be shaped to become.


Can we know more than we can tell? According to ancient wisdom, recently advanced by George Spencer-Brown in Laws of Form (1969), every distinction creates not a duality but a trinity — that which is within the distinction, that which is outside, plus the distinction itself, which is neither "inside" nor "outside" but which, upon the making, partakes of … yet, intriguingly, changes … the whole. The "distinguisher" becomes imbedded within that changed (evolving?) whole. The would-be knower proceeds to become part of what would be known.

Arguably, "personal consciousness" denotes awareness of that "self-other omnipresence" which characterizes intellectual strivings, and therefore speculatively calls forth "cosmic consciousness" as a presumed contrast to personal consciousness, perhaps even endowing it with omnipotence. Advanced intellectual strivings arguably invite "spiritual" strivings that look beyond grunts, words, distinctions, metaphors, analogies, and similar tools of thought and communication, focusing instead on what "Yahweh" seemingly denotes: the un-namable One. The Divine Metaphrand.

Be that as it may, "conscience" denotes (indeed, results from) our awareness that seeking understanding of the universe and our relationship to it translates, generally (although not always), into choice, will, action, and consequences, including feedback leading to further understanding, etc. Nothing "makes sense" except in context. And, arguably, we supply that contexteven when ascribing it to the Mythos, or the Divine. Put simply, "good" and "bad" exist in relation to some thing, ideal, or goal, and we are (we "breathe") the contexts that give our choices significance. The chooser cannot be "absent" from the choice.


Every cleavage or analysis of a "whole" into distinct parts seems to echo Spencer-Brown's triune structure, although the Mythos-Logos-Nomos trinity, being very ancient, presents this phenomenon in its purest form. I shall delve further into this subject, especially in Part One, but first I need to introduce a related subject, that of "finding" or "making" not differences but similarities, including "similar differences" — the stuff of metaphors, or, more precisely, the stuff of language-construction.

Communicating about communicating can easily get tangled. Spencer-Brown's "indications" of "distinctions" suggests "wholes" being analyzed into "parts"; yet his "distinction-making" has an eerie "mirror image" in which (as Aristotle stated long ago, albeit using different nomenclatures) less-knowns ("metaphrands") enlist help from better-knowns ("metaphiers") to form metaphors that "call into existence" somewhat-similar yet somewhat-different images whose survival advantages, if any, depend on their significance.

Significance is always in relation to a context, and the ultimate context (presumably) is "everything": the undifferentiated Universe, the stuff of the Mythos. That the Mythos was and remains mysterious is unsurprising. That our "cleavings" of the Universe do not in a fundamental sense make it less mysterious, is likewise unsurprising. Indeed, perhaps our cleaving of anything calls forth the "idea" of everything; yet, if so, this hardly explains much of significance.

And of "signification" as such. As Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela suggested in The Tree of Knowledge (1987), at p. 40: "A unity (entity, object) is brought forth by an act of distinction. Conversely, each time we refer to a unity in our descriptions, we are implying the operation of distinction that defines it and makes it possible."

But the deeper question must remain: Is it — whether the distinction or the unity — significant as (here we go distinguishing again!) information or inspiration?

Does it "go without saying" that science is embedded in the sacred?

E.O. Wilson said it perfectly: "[T]he human mind has evolved to search for meaning. The universe is so beautiful and complex and surprising, and life is too. You remember Darwin's line, 'Endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved'? We see this far more than Darwin ever could. We see right down to the molecular level, how truly extraordinary life is as a phenomenon. There you have more to summon spirituality than anything provided by the late Iron Age desert kingdom scribes who wrote the Holy Bible. They created an impressive piece of literature. But they really didn't understand the world around them or the stars above. They metaphorized them, put poetry into themthey did the best they could. But still and all, they fell far short of what humanity is capable of feeling in a sense of the sacred and of aesthetic beauty."


Significance-finding is the engine of distinction-making and language-construction. In this sense, a "distinction" can denote a significant similarity as well as difference. The "four corners" of a multi-page legal document are obviously different from those of a single piece of paper, yet the phrase "four corners" here focuses not on that difference but on a similarity — an analogy — by which we can express thoughts like, "Before determining whether to listen to oral testimony regarding the 'true meaning' of an agreement, the courts should determine whether there are any ambiguities within the four corners of the written contract the parties signed."


Similarities that Make a "Difference" — a Relevance, a Significance

Perhaps the greatest recent contribution to our understanding of metaphor-making" is offered by Julian Jaynes, in The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976-1990). One does not have to accept the entirety of Jaynes' astonishing speculations, etc., to recognize the power of his treatment of metaphors:

"There are … always two terms in a metaphor, the thing to be described, which I shall call the metaphrand, and the thing or relation used to elucidate it, which I shall call the metaphier. A metaphor is always a known metaphier operating on a less known metaphrand. I have coined these hybrid terms simply to echo multiplication where a multiplier operates on a multiplicand. … It is by metaphor that language grows. The common reply to 'what is it?' is, when the reply is difficult or the experience unique, 'well, it is like — .' … The human body is a particularly generative metaphier, creating previously unspeakable distinctions in a throng of areas. The head of an army, table, page, bed, ship, household, or nail, or of steam or water; the face of a clock, cliff, card, or crystal; the eyes of needles, winds, storms, targets, flowers, or potatoes; the brow of a hill; the cheeks of a vice; the teeth of cogs or combs; the lips of pitchers, craters, augers." (pp. 48-49).

Indeed, observes Jaynes, "language is an organ of perception, not merely a means of communication." (50) Our sense of reality is mediated by metaphor. "Even such an unmetaphorical-sounding word as the verb 'to be' was generated from a metaphor. It comes from the Sanskrit bhu, 'to grow, or make grow,' while the English forms 'am' and 'is' have evolved from the same root as the Sanskrit asmi, 'to breathe.' It is something of a lovely surprise that the irregular conjugation of our most nondescript verb is thus a record of a time when man had no independent word for 'existence' and could only say that something 'grows' or that it 'breathes.'" (51).

Interestingly, not all languages have a word for "is"; Russian uses a dash, thereby conferring upon one of my favorite punctuation marks a completely different duty, as in: "Ah, building a global 'cultural software' equal to the challenges at hand — a difficulty!" See Note on Punctuation.


Differences and Similarities Contrasted — Introductory Sketch

As Aristotle noted, only similars can be usefully compared and contrasted. Yet everything is similar to, yet different from, everything else. Even the seemingly opposite notions of everythingness and nothingness have this in common: They are "human concepts" — that is, as already suggested, we have to be very conscious of how much "we" are embedded in "them" … and how this "self-other" form or construct calls forth not only consciousness but also conscience: (a) knowing, (b) examining the embeddedness of "personal knowing" within "cultural knowing and making" and, through this examination, (c) transcending the contexts of nature and second-nature (culture) by conscientiously and deliberatively creating that "extended  metaphrand" which I tentatively call third-nature consciousness, so that this enhanced consciousness can, in turn, inform and inspire "right conduct" or, at least, consideration of consequences.

My purpose so far is merely to sketch an introductory framework for examining differences, similarities, significances, and consequences, etc., but my ultimate purpose is practical: to enhance our global capacity for wise self-governance, the "Rule of Law based on the Rule of Reason" — a metaphrand-concept that is not self-defining and is, indeed, evolving … that is, coevolving with us, within us, through us.

We must know our biological, cultural, and globally-coevolving "selves" better so that we may govern ourselves and our world more wisely.



These "seed-ideas" relating to differences, similarities, contexts, and consequences — and, hence, significance in relation to knowing and doing — remain co-creative … changing us still, making us wiser, our world better. Or so we must hope. Genuine hope, the mainspring of humanity, must be based on true confidence grounded in authentic competence. Developing such confidence requires hard work, generation after generation.

An early product of humanity's "ecology of ideas at work" was the development of isonomia (iso, equal; nomos, law). It was and remains equal liberty's corollary: equal justice. If we are to be equal in our liberties we must be equal in the restrictions on our liberties and, hence, equal under the law — specifically, the Rule of Law based on the Rule of Reason.

This isonomia was the parent of demokratia. If we are equal under the law, then we must be equal in the making of our laws, equal in our civil and political rights. These rights imply responsibilities, including the obligation to understand our duties as citizens embraced within democratic, accountable, thinking-sustained polities. This is not an abstract obligation. Consider, in the following discussion, how differences and similarities — analysis and synthesis — work upon one another to address some of the most non-abstract issues confronting democracies in general and American democracy in particular.


From Abstract to Practical

Technically, "democracy" is not the same as "representative democracy" — what over time has evolved to become what the U.S. Constitution guarantees to each constituent state: "a republican form of government" … whose foundation is isonomia, including equality in voting to select representatives.

Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court has shied away from tackling the rampant politicization of the process by which almost all state legislatures create congressional districts. This, as well as the corrosive role of lobbyists — most notably, the "K-Street Project" during the Bush Administration — and, more generally, the corrupting "money-machine" aspects of financing political campaigns, almost guarantees that incumbent members of Congress will be re-elected by "healthy" margins which, in fact, are symptoms of deep sickness.


Of course, a "democratic republic" rests on far more than fair elections. Democracy must be "constitutional democracy" or it is unsustainable. That is, it must be secured by such fundamental rights as freedom of inquiry, expression, and association, as well as Due Process of Law and all other attributes of Ordered Liberty, else it will fail. These have instrumental as well as intrinsic value. For example, fair elections and accountable governments are impossible without a "free press" to illuminate the Conversation of Democracy.

Today, these fundamentals of constitutional accountability are less secure in the United States than the world ought to be able to hope for. Consider the following report by Dan Eggen appearing in The Washington Post, March 6, 2006, on page 1:

"There's a tone of gleeful relish in the way they [high government officials] talk about dragging reporters before grand juries, their appetite for withholding information, and the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors," said New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, in a statement responding to questions from The Washington Post. "I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values it professes to be promoting abroad."

How can the United States effectively "preach democracy" worldwide when its own democratic institutions are so insecure? Actions speak louder than words. One of the greatest impediments to my work in "democracy building" in the former USSR, etc., has been the "yabut" response I so often encounter: "Yabut, what about Guantanamo, what about Abu Ghraib, what about Enron and Tom DeLay and all those K-Street hucksters?"

Fair questions. Painful challenges. I firmly believe that at this time — and for the foreseeable future — our world's worthwhile survival depends, to a sobering extent, upon the authentic hope, confidence, and competence of the United States, whose current degradation of "republican democracy" must stop, reverse out of its cul-de-sac, and then move forward again in a genuinely hopeful direction that upholds and extends Open Civilization values.  


One of the most important aspects of the concept "republican form of government" was that, when ordained in 1787, it was an evolving concept … with the necessity for further live-and-learn, feedback-cultivating, wisdom-harvesting processes imbedded within its DNA.

True, concepts like "evolution" and "DNA" were not among the tools of thought and communication then available, but the Founders were well aware that many fundamentals of their constitutional plan were the results of previous, including recent, changes. By their nature, these fundamentals — like pilgrims progressing — composed a New Order that was dynamic, not static.

Indeed, this New Order's most fundamental Principle was the right of people to change, and to change their governments accordingly, even by force if absolutely necessary. The Plan was intended to allow orderly change that, being timely and sufficient, would not require disorderly change, rebellions, civil wars, etc. As already suggested, the foundation of "democratic theory" must be Ordered Liberty. 

The Founders lived and worked in an Age of Discontinuity. They took change for granted. The Constitution they adopted was, above all, a tool intended to refine itself, to make improvements in the republican form of government to which the Constitution was committed. It was a tool to make new tools, a "government under law" created by people who understood "law" to be deeply rooted in evolving history — law which was, in fact, the agent of systematic reviews of the past leading to principled modifications serving the future.

Indeed, a constitution is more a verb than a noun, and (if competent) is essentially a metaphrand regarding which the text denoting the constitution is a metaphier. The text entitled "Constitution" is not the same "thing" as the (properly conceived) "Constitution"; the text is "about" the Constitution as a map is about a territory, or better, as a blueprint is about a house.

Those who oppose the idea of a "living constitution" fail to appreciate that it must be living or it will not be able to "reconstitute" itself, day by day, in aid of Ordered Liberty. 


Arguably, Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution guarantees a "republican form of government" to each state, not to the United States — the federal government — as such. Yet federal and state governments are so intertwined that it is absurd to urge that states must be "republican" but the Unites States is exempt from such requirements. The U.S. Supreme Court must play a vigorous, proactive as well as defensive role to ensure against the debasement of constitutional democracy at the federal as well as state level.

This concept "republican form of government" is not a throw-away term. It needs resuscitation. A republican, genuinely representative, and thereby truly accountable government — a constitutional democracy with proper checks and balances among its co-equal legislative, executive, and judicial braches — is our only hope for effectively addressing the problems and challenges ahead: a dangerous world whose people are far from convinced that we Americans embody wisdom and goodness.

See "Original Meaning" of the Constitution.


Further Introductory Musings:

I must reiterate that, although this essay examines triune structures, cybernetic triangulations, metaphorical constructs, etc., from a highly abstract and theoretical perspective, the reader should never forget that the ultimate goal here is practical: improving accountable, self-corrective governance, worldwide, and illuminating the Conversation of Democracy that sustains it.

Weaving a tapestry of history, philosophy, science, law, personal experience, and inquiry-aimed speculations regarding our world's future, this essay seeks to enhance appreciation for liberty bounded and secured by isonomia and demokratia, thereby advancing the cause of constitutional democracy worldwide. Let me be clear: We need to create a world government, and it must be "republican" in the sense of "representative" as well as "democratic yet under law" in the sense that majorities cannot run roughshod over minorities and individuals.


This essay is composed of this Introduction plus three Parts. Each provides hotlinks to other Jurlandia essays (and elsewhere) without regard to whether those hotlinks are supplied in other parts. This is a "heuristic effort" — a carefully-crafted "rough draft" to help structure further Jurlandia writings which, in due course, can feed back and help compose a better heuristic effort, an improved invitation to deepest inquiry. Again, the map is not the territory, the blueprint is not the mansion, the recipe is not the exquisitely flavored and textured provender. Constitutional democracy is a journey, not a destination.


Final Musings:

Based on feedback so far, I should emphasize that I am not a Christian, Moslem, Jew, Heathen, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.; I have little use for political categories such as "conservative" and "liberal" (as I consider myself both); and I find most religious and political "isms" to be impediments to deepest inquiry. Nothing less than deepest inquiry suffices.

We have to focus on territories, not maps. We have to look at the thing or relationship or idea most deeply, in fullest context, putting aside (as best we can) all words and categories, looking at what is often referred to by its German name: the ding an sich, the thing itself. Celebrating metaphors while eschewing "graven images" and concretized metaphrands, we should be especially wary of "received wisdom" and "sacred texts" that tell us how many teeth a horse has and therefore relieve us of having to open its mouth and count.

We have to ponder anew, generation upon generation, and then "emerge" (each in our own way) and try to find better ways to express what we see, know, like, dislike, question, and (as seems ultimately unavoidable) accept without question … including — if we take "being human" seriously — the general proposition that the unexamined life is not worth living. Yet I give simple, indeed complex, "acquiescence" to that depth and ground of existence which (life being short, eternity long) we mortals are presumably entitled to accept without reservation. Some call such acquiescence "faith"; I gladly acquiesce; yet my faith is in the examined life, no matter how difficult. I cannot have faith in unexamined dogmas.

Put differently, I am comfortable acknowledging that I have "faith" in the scientific method of inquiry and ascertainment, including open-ended explorations of (a) the "meaning" of science and (b) the proper scope and limitations of scientific inquiry.

In light thereof, I also have "faith" in the cybernetics of society, the "ecologies" of things and relationships and ideas, and the capacity of humankind over time to learn more … including, perhaps, more about the fundamental limits of human learning. I trust that any divinity worthy of my reverence would inspire me, indeed command me, to join with others — past, present, future … time-binding seekers of enlightenment — to engage in rigorous inquiry regarding everything, including ultimate reality, including the existence or non-existence of God.

I have become persuaded that we need to find improved ways to "point to" whatever truths our inquiries discern. We ought to seek, indeed create, a new synthesis of all theologies, ideologies, wisdoms, commitments, etc., rejecting what is absurd or toxic and respecting what is profound or useful — so that we may each do our best to "help the world along" towards worthwhile survival and continued "goodness-focused" progress.


Let us discuss maps, blueprints, recipes, metaphors, analogies, and other tools of thought and communication, ever mindful that these are tools only, and that we — the "human condition" consciously evolving — must remain their masters, thereby remaining servants of the True and the Good.


Finally: Respect for others' views can be carried only so far. It ill behooves those who benefit from Open Civilization values (and such fruits as modern technology) to take insult when their own "sacred texts" are subjected to vigorous scrutiny, even ridicule. That is the price one pays for the blessings of liberty. Those who support "democratic elections" so that they can come to power and then scrap democracy, deserve ridicule. "One person, one vote, one time" deserves condemnation. Rights imply responsibilities, including that greatest responsibility all free people share: To work hard to understand the origins, history, and institutions of constitutional democracy, of liberty under law.

We are indeed engaged in a "culture war" — a struggle to enhance "Regenerative Intelligence Still Evolving" (RISE), whose chief weapons and objectives are logic, science, and cybernetics: a learning civilization that is never content to live the unexamined life.

This website is dedicated to life, examined.



[1] This insightful metaphor is offered, with citations, in J.M. Balkin's book, Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology (1998), at p. 1. The idea of tool-making tools is central to the coevolution of Matter and Mind, the evolution of culture, and the Advancement of Learning … including the evolution of cultural know-how regarding governance and self-governance. (Go back)

[2] There is, of course, a large and varied literature on "things trinitarian" — heuristic metaphrands, metaphors, sacramental constructs, and (arguably) icons and idols in which the parts of a tri-unity form an interpenetrative whole, a perichoresis. One of the most interesting of these "trinities" has to do with the what I call the Enterprise of Integrative Jurisprudence, and its perichoresis or blending of natural law, legal positivism, and historical jurisprudence. Professor Harold J. Berman is the leading advocate of such integrative jurisprudence. Here is an illuminating excerpt from his writings: "Prior to the late eighteenth century it was possible for a legal philosopher to hold these three forms of the triune law — its political form, its moral form, and its historical form — in what Christian theologians, speaking of the Trinity, call perichoresis; that is, each of the three interpenetrates the others. Only in the so-called Enlightenment of the latter eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were the links finally severed, in legal philosophy, between positive law and morality, on the one hand, and between each of those and historical tradition, on the other. With the virtual demise of the historical school — among contemporary American writers on jurisprudence I seem to be one of the last of its defenders — the battlefield has been left to the multitude of positivists and naturalists, locked in combat on mutual terms of unconditional surrender. Indeed, as a believer in historicity, I would argue that they cannot possibly be reconciled, except in the context of the ongoing history of a given legal order. That, in fact, is how they are often reconciled by American courts, which in deciding cases will turn a positivist eye to the applicable legal rules, a naturalist eye to the equities of the particular case in the light of the moral principles underlying the rules, and a historicist eye (they do have three eyes!) to custom and to precedent, having in mind not only the precedents of the past but also the significance of their decisions as precedents for the future. A conscientious judge cannot be solely a positivist or solely a naturalist or solely a historicist. The three 'schools' are three dimensions of his judicial role." Harold J. Berman, Law and Logos, 44 DePaul Law Review (1994), pp. 143-165, copied from internet, (3-30-2006). (Go back)

Note on Dyads and Triads:

Some formulations treated Mythos and Logos as a single emerging entity, the Physos, from which (according to various accounts) the Physos-Nomos-Christos triad later emanated (among others). For purposes of this essay, what is especially interesting is that "alternative progressions" remained deeply rooted in the idea that triune forms are fundamental. This essay seeks to inquire why this is so. What makes similarities similar? Context. What makes differences different? Again, context. Who supplies the context? Usually the questioner. The parameters of a question necessarily shape any answer that will be recognized as being responsive to the question.

The concepts "dyad" and "triad" are often considered as basic units in sociology. Georg Simmel (1858-1918) did pioneering work in this regard. But my focus is less on the structures of various groups of people and more on the structures of various groups of ideas … the structures shaping thoughts, the structures by which questions shape what will be recognizable as answers.

Because my thinking, here, is focused on law and governance, it is drawn to ask about liberty, justice, equal opportunities, and the institutionalization of checks and balances among legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Does Simmel's sociology help? He asserted that a group of four often "resolves" into two dyads; in the U.S.S.R., where the Procuracy became a "Fourth Branch" (it remains essentially unchanged), the special benefits of "triangulation" were sacrificed. Yet the picture was further complicated by the role of the Party, as well as the KGB. Triadic structures were never seriously at issue. One-man rule triumphed, but, lacking institutionalized self-monitoring, it could not be cybernetic and, hence, could not "govern" effectively. (Go back)

Note on Punctuation:

Good writing requires consistent use of the final serial comma. Some assert that this comma should only be used where it is essential to avoid confusion as where someone undertakes (confusingly) to "thank my parents, Joan Sutherland and God." But that rule itself invites confusion or at least requires the brain to process a sentence "both ways" before deciding whether there is a confusion that needs to be resolved — and this gets in the way of the brain's already-formidable task: processing as-clear-as-possible sentences regarding unavoidably-complex matters. If, in speaking, we would provide a "brain-pause" that makes it clear we are thanking our parents, Joan Sutherland, and God, then that brain-pause should be "cued" when one is writing this thought. Thus, for my overnight camping trip I packed supplies that included bacon, brandy, coffee, eggs, juice, milk, and sugar. Next morning I enjoyed a breakfast of juice, eggs and bacon, and coffee with milk, sugar, and a tad of brandy.

While on the subject of punctuation, let me also note that hyphens and dashes should be distinct. Hyphens draw words together, and should not have spaces on either side, except when linking concepts like computer- or internet-mediated phenomena. Unlike hyphens, dashes specifically, "M-dashes" separate words or strings of words, and should have spaces on either side. Such spaces are especially necessary because, when writings travel from one computer- or internet-mediated platform to another, the M-dash often gets "converted" (debased?) into a hyphen-length "dash" (but it is still a dash); those spaces on either side usually survive such travel. If so, not all is lost; significant information is retained; those spaces can make all the difference.

Generally, M-dashes (the width of an "M") set off text that is not parenthetical; for parenthetical text we have parentheses. Dashes should not be used where parentheses should be used. Dashes serve to induce brain-pauses of a more complex kind than those induced by commas, and are aimed not only at separating elements but also at highlighting or emphasizing an element … although, hmmm, especially-thoughtful brain-pauses are often best induced by three dots, called ellipses. N-dashes (the width of an "N") do not travel well from one computer- or internet-mediated platform to another; whether they will survive currently-evolving communications protocols is unclear. This is a good example of ways in which our tools "make us" as much as we make them; they and we coevolve; grammar, punctuation, vocabularies, and our capacities to use them well, are co-creative. Hotlinking has changed writing. Good writers have always been "composers"; now, all writing must attend to enhancing the power of co-creative composition. The dew is fresh upon the leaf of hyper textual metalogues.

Imparting complicated ideas as clearly as possible requires many tools of thought and communication, including emerging tools to facilitate "societal thinking" — especially cross-cultural dialogues that become metalogues whenever their focus is upon enhancing societal thinking. Some of the tools used by the Jurlandia website, such as dashes, are used quite differently in other languages; for example, Russian does not have "is" and therefore often uses a dash to impart what in English "is" imparts. But one of the main purposes of this website is to model good English-language writing, including punctuation, because English is attaining a special place within the emerging Ecology of Mind. Among its many assets, English is a language which (with the exception of dashes) travels well from one computer- or internet-mediated platform to another.

Two final points: First, Jurlandia essays often place quotation marks (called inverted commas in England) around a word or phrase when first introduced, followed by a definition or other contextual pointers regarding that word or phrase. It is not always clear where this device should be employed. This website probably errs on the side of overuse. It does so in hopes of combating the tendency towards "over concretization": thinking that maps are territories, names are the things or relationships named. I plan in due course to take up this subject — first introduced by Aristotle and recently advanced by Korzybski in far greater detail.

Second: I follow Friedrich A. Hayek and others in using initial capital letters for "Rule of Law" and similar fundamental concepts in order to denote that they are "elevated" terms of art. Not every "rule of law" reflects the Rule of Law. My initial-cap usage throughout the Jurlandia website reflects the crucial distinction, for example, between so-called "laws" and that fundamental Rule of Law by which any law or governmental action taken "under color of law" must be judged. In this regard, I think it illuminating to quote an early work by Hayek, Road to Serfdom (1944, 50th anniv. ed., Chicago, 1994):

Nothing distinguishes more clearly conditions in a free country from those in a country under arbitrary government than the observance in the former of the great principles known as the Rule of Law. Stripped of all technicalities, this means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand — rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan one's individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge. Though this ideal can never be perfectly achieved, since legislators as well as those to whom the administration of the law is intrusted are fallible men, the essential point, that the discretion left to the executive organs wielding coercive power should be reduced as much as possible, is clear enough. While every law restricts individual freedom to some extent by altering the means which people may use in the pursuit of their aims, under the Rule of Law the government is prevented from stultifying individual efforts by ad hoc action. Within the known rules of the game the individual is free to pursue his personal ends and desires, certain that the powers of government will not be used deliberately to frustrate his efforts. [Hayek, Chapter 6, p. 80.]

The above includes the following footnote:

According to the classical exposition by A. V. Dicey in The Law of the Constitution (8th ed.), p. 198, the Rule of Law "means, in the first place, the absolute supremacy or predominance of regular law as opposed to the influence of arbitrary power, and excludes the existence of arbitrariness, of prerogative, or even of wide discretionary authority on the part of government.

I should note that, for Dicey, "regular law" is also a term of art. His "law of the constitution" is about a specific model, that of England, in which "the constitution" and "the rule of law" are essentially identical. They start with the 1215 Magna Charta, the "law of the land" by which "due process of law" is secured. In addition to that "absolute supremacy" of regular law, Dicey notes that there must be "equality before the law" and a recognition that "the law of the constitution … [is] not the source but the consequence of the rights of individuals." (p. 199)

Interestingly, while Dicey's text does not use initial-caps, his "side notes" accompanying the text do. His side note to page 198 is "Summary of meanings of Rule of Law" and his side note to page 199 is "Influence of 'Rule of Law' on leading provisions of the constitution." The first edition of Dicey's classic was published in 1885. The eighth and final edition was published in 1915.

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