Aesthetic Mechanical Pragmatism

Surprisingly, I’ve never written about Aesthetic Mechanical Pragmatism (AMP) before. AMP is a system for interacting with the universe, some might call it a belief system, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. It’s a system that I developed for myself more than 20 years ago after a lot of thought about what I believe makes sense.

Broadly AMP can be described as follows…

Aesthetic – Things, where things is defined very broadly, have value and can be sorted. Good things are considered to be beautiful, elegant, virtuous, etc. Bad things are ugly, inelegant, vile, etc. We have lot of labels for describing the nuances of this sorting, but the important point is that things can be sorted and distinguished from each other.20161116-1-mexico-_dsc3898_a

Mechanical – The universe works the way it works. There is no supernatural. There is only natural. Said a different way, everything has an explanation. You or I may not know the explanation, but an explanation exists. Acquiring explanations can be a long convoluted non-linear path. Along the way we may make assumptions that are necessary to get us closer to these explanations, but these assumptions must be taken for what they are. Placeholders until a better explanation is acquired then abandoned.

Pragmatism – If it works, it’s good. A strong corollary though is that things that work across a wider scope defined by whatever dimensions are relevant tend to be better than things that only work within a narrow scope. The classic example of this is the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.”

It should be obvious that aesthetic, mechanical and pragmatism are different views on the same system. Each of these notions interact and depend on the others. It may be less obvious that this isn’t a system of values. A criteria for selecting between more beautiful and less beautiful is not described here. Mechanical reinforces this point by observing that the universe will work the way it works independent of what you may way. Pragmatism points out that you are a part of this mechanical universe and can have an influence on it that is usually guided by what you believe is beautiful or ugly.

Humanity, over the centuries and at present, has and is exploring a lot of value systems. Most are focused on various forms of maximizing comfort and survival while minimizing the amount of energy required to achieve it. Some do a better job of applying the principles of AMP. Some decidedly do a very poor job. As much as we may want it to be otherwise, we’re a part of this universe; nothing more, nothing less. To me this is liberating and empowering.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I haven't heard of this before, Jim. Thanks for the pointer. I'll check it out. Here's the link to the book complete with affiliate code to help pay for the blog. 😉

    The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself

  2. Have you heard of Sean Carroll's "poetic naturalism"? It reminds me of Aesthetic Mechanical Pragmatism. I just finished his book "The Big Picture", in which he describes poetic naturalism in great detail, gave a lot to think about.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.