Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tentative Outline of the Book

There are nine chapters as you can see numbered below. After each chapter title I give an overview of that chapter's content.

Subject (and possible book title):

Our Mental Lives are Shaped by the Raw Materials in our Environment

1 Introduction
            The Resource-Patterns Model of Life proposes to add a constraint to our understanding of life. In the world in which we humans (and other living things) live, many resources are difficult to extract. Many resources can be exploited by us only if we work together. Flourishing requires us to learn rules of cooperation.

2 Example of the Tabletop Critters
            In the example of tabletop critters readers will meet primitive life-forms which face challenges and achieve successes which remind us of our experience as humans. They start as dirt-dumb hunter-gatherers, but they are capable of remembering and "thinking" (they can be educated), and they live in a world rich with resources, resources distributed in patterns which can be exploited only if critters discover rules of cooperation. Their population increases vastly and they live at a higher standard of living as they discover how to cooperate.

3 Psychology of the Critters
            It is easy for this computer programmer to imagine a program which constitutes an individual critter's psychology. It is a loop which repeats as long as the critter lives. Loop steps:
  • sense the environment and your own internal state;
  • search in memory for any experience like this before;
  • think about this situation as well as you are able;
  • decide what act to attempt;
  • start over.

            Naturally the critter’s psychological calculations are constrained by physical reality. The critter can get hungry since its metabolism consumes resources continually. Also, something outside the critter might defeat any act attempted by the critter.

4 Life Advances in Levels
            It is known in biology that life on Earth has advanced through at least these three levels: (1)prokaryotic cells, to (2) eukaryotic cells, to (3) multicellular organisms such as ourselves. In each advance multitudes of members of the lower (smaller) level somehow combined to form the next higher (larger) level.
            A key insight here: Level-to-level advance continues as we humans experiment with organizing ourselves. We form (4) human organizations, including inter alia companies and states.
            I propose there is a strong correlation between the difficult-resource-patterns in our world, which induce us to cooperate, and the lasting success of any organizations which we have experimentally built. When we seek to understand the success of a human organization, the first cause to consider is the presence in the environment of a difficult resource pattern.

5 The Learning of Rules
            We have established that rule-restricted behavior may enable cooperation which vastly improves the wealth and population of a set of living things. Now we come to the obvious but not-easily-answered question: Where do these rules come from? How will new and productive rules be discovered?
            Perhaps the dominant way uses simple civil behavior: Do all that you have promised; Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you. Charitable behavior can also help. Empathy such as consideration for slaves and porpoises grows in wealth, for entrepreneurial and aesthetic reasons. Evolution may favor a species that sprinkles among its progeny a few with penchant for proposing rules.

6 Philosophy in the Resource-Patterns Model of Life
            The Resource-Patterns Model of Life starts in my experience as a human. The critter models my human experience; I sense, want, remember, think, and try — not perfectly, but well enough it seems that I survive for a time. I seem to be one among many; others like myself exist.
            There is no fancy concept like "truth" or "reason" in the critter's mind unless and until the critter needs it for judging a plan. All of philosophy starts, in this model, because the critter's calculations in the "think" subroutine have become more sophisticated.
            As life on the critters' tabletop becomes fancier, the critters can develop meaningful symbols, language.

7 Public Psychology
            Each organization of critters, actual or proposed, can develop its own rules of behaving and habits of perceiving. Siblings on the tabletop (close relatives) may become incorporated in different organizations which succeed by exploiting different resource patterns; such siblings will develop different rules of behavior and different perceptions. When one class of critters discovers that it can feed upon another class of critters, the feeding class naturally discovers a self-justifying attitude toward the exploited class.

8 Public Policy Applications
            In light of this model we can explain: statism; libertarianism; class warfare; the perception of global warming.

9 Conclusion
            (nothing new here)


  1. hi Richard. this is Bill McConley from The Third Place. I just read your outline and my first impression is that you have many books here. I find the premise and promise of your writing to be very fascinating and important. Your subject matter is multivalent and almost all encompassing in its reach and scope. Concerning future publication my first question is: who is your target audience? Answering that question may help you decide how and where and in what format to publish. Moreover, I can see this potentially as a series of publishing events. My friend, Drew , can help with these issues. I will get his contact information to you asap. I will read your treatise and comment as I go through the chapters. See you soon.

    warm regards,

    1. Hello Bill. Thank you for your interest! My target audience in this project has always been the "educated layman".

      Unfortunately, William Germano (author of Getting It Published which I am reading), seems critical of writing for that "educated layman" audience. That amounts, If I have understood Germano correctly, to writing for everybody — who in reality turns out to be nobody. So during the past week I've toyed with changing my target audience. I consider writing to the one acquisitions editor whom I need to get excited about this project. By imagining such an editor, it seems to help me find a line of approach.

      Even though I've aimed for an educated layman, you may notice several places in this blog where I've used some specialized jargon, where I was for the time addressing a smaller group of specialists.