Log in

No account? Create an account
Topology of Excellence - Transience Divine
July 1st, 2006
12:16 am


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Topology of Excellence
I'm clobbering together a conceit of the metaphysical topology of excellence in the world. It's too much to describe in a single blog entry, but ideas are like birds of prey: the more time in open air, the better. A one-on-one discussion of this idea would start with asking what the Other wants to be good at.

Everyone has "excellences": refined virtues of being capable and knowledgeable in some aspect of existence. The most common is excellence at being oneself-- knowing how to act as oneself and respond to the behaviors this causes in others, familiarity with one's own psychology and physiology, and the capacity to intricately detail a point of view and expectations of the future. Other excellences include the ability to argue, play chess, seduce women, program computers, and understand others. Conceiving of these as a manifold in the infinite-dimensional "excellence-space", we are all shaped a bit like spiny tropical fruit.

Excellence is driven by interest (almost the integral of interest), which has a similar topology. People structure their lives in many ways, but one way is to pursue their interests and find situations which exploit or develop certain excellences. People fall in and out of love according to the ever morphing shape of their excellences.

Most interestingly, the topology of excellence is manifested in the structure of communities. Every community has towers of virtue: small groups of individuals drawn together by common interest and complementary excellence. Most communities have several such towers, each of which sets everyone else orbiting around their dimensional axis. For example, most communities have a social tower, a managerial tower, and a old-timer tower.

Finally, I believe that at this level, the experience of life is largely community-independent. From a distance, communities appear to exemplify certain virtues, but the actual extremes of excellence have only superficial similarities to the propounded values. In other words, the towers-- the most obvious meta-personal elements of communities and the primary concern of one living in them-- work pretty much the same everywhere. The differences are in the details, "feel", and the people.

(2 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:July 1st, 2006 06:51 am (UTC)
I'm have a little trouble with the infinite-dimensional "excellence-space": does the magnitude correspond to the degree of excellence? If so, what does the surface represent? Why is this not just a radial system in 2 dimensions where domains of excellence (being self, seducing women, etc.) are radii of various degrees around, and their length is their degree of excellence? Or am I reading too much into this?

I'm trying to understand the pointy shape bit. It suggests a lot of singularities in one's skill set, which seems odd to me. Is that something you're arguing?
[User Picture]
Date:July 1st, 2006 07:23 am (UTC)
does the magnitude correspond to the degree of excellence?

Exactly. And the 2D radial system is a good first-order approximation (I'm glad you were able to figure that out because I'd forgotten). The only problem is that that suggests that all skills are on a single line: "writing fiction ability" is next to "writing essay ability" is next to "proof-reading ability", and if you go far enough, there will be "seducing women ability". By calling it infinite-dimensional, I'm suggesting something a little more full: A little away from "writing fiction" in one dimension is "writing essays", but "writing erotica" is also nearby, in another direction, but not necessarily *further* from writing essays.

So technically, I don't know what the dimensions correspond to. They don't correspond exactly to excellences, but just as there are infinite related skills, there seems to be a dimension upon which one can move *between* any two skills. They're isomorphic. (I know all the math metaphors just end up obscuring the idea, and I apologize, but they're all I have for this one.)

As for singularities, I think it's worse than that, but not quite as extreme: it's fractal spikes. From a distance, everyone's fruit just looks just knobby and a bit lopsided, and older people's are generally bigger than younger's. But look closely at one of the knobs (investigate the dimensions around that point), and you find that some of the knobs just have other knobs on them, and others have thin sharp spikes growing out of them. A masterful seducer of women will have a "seduce women" spike that's evident a mile away. But that spike will round out at some point. But maybe the nearby, but very narrow "seduce insecure women at parties" spike will extend twice as far. In fact, I would guess that there's exactly one singularity: "being oneself here and now".
My Website Powered by LiveJournal.com