Archive | July, 2014


31 Jul

This is a very sensitive topic in philosophy and science.

I believe the melding of consciousness with narrative-like constant conjunction has been responsible for all manner of misguided claims for the supernatural, the paranormal, and perhaps even..gasp..the moral.  Attachment to the supernatural is another way for ‘sanity’ to maintain itself.  It sidesteps the finite and frustrated human situation by suggesting that the rules aren’t really the rules.  The world has jokers up its sleeve, so maybe we can feel special and unlimited!  This argument ultimately fails on the grounds that portable and stable identity requires all sorts of fine-tuned limitations and specifications to begin with.

This is very different from the measured observation that experiential reality is shocking beyond all human conception.  I’d say that it is, but this doesn’t change the requirements of a meaningful living identity in terms of structure and process.  It just zests it up in some mysterious way.  It adds rather than interferes.  If anything, the inconceivability only sharpens the visible limits of the human perspective.

Consciousness is astonishing, but its various tapes/rolls/serials are usually much less fantastic.  What we seem to have is a fiendish mix of the insipid and the awe-inspiring.  Cross-imbuement is commonly attempted, and it’s sad old-hat stuff by now.  “Everything is bland, and you cling to your desperate mystery!”  “Everything is enchanted, for one miracle is enough to prove it!”

The truth is not to be found in either extreme, but blandness is the safest bet for anyone who has even a bit of trouble keeping their thoughts coherent.

I can understand a vague appeal to something transcendent on the basis of  first-person experience, but past takes on this were dominated by overly ritualistic and conflated approaches.  The colors of the rainbow were not disassociated from the specific landscape they were painted into.  The entire complex ritual was considered Sacred, and so it was not open for dissection or rearrangement.  Hume Hume Hume — his insights have a lot of mileage left in em’.

There may have been some conflation between inconceivability and logical possibility.  Qualia: inconceivable until given, but logically possible.  One can always add new aspects to a logical picture so long as they don’t interfere with the pre-existing ones.  Imagining identity as we know it without consistent regional rules is logically impossible.  So, present inconceivability cannot be validly used as a get-out-of-mortality-free card.



24 Jul

It’s true that science, technology, and basic know-how have accumulated many permanent gains which won’t expire unless something better comes along.  These gains aren’t limited to particulars — they involve the structure of the conditioning process itself.  Basically, a ‘rationality’ is gradually coalescing as the human perspective is guided more by calculated exploration and less by Hail Mary’s.

That’s all good news so far as I can tell, and it’s the sort of thing optimists like to emphasize — with good reason.  Life is getting a lot easier at an astonishing pace, and it’s a global trend.  One would think that this message would be a far more popular rallying cry.

The Sacred remains in play, but maybe even the Sacred will eventually be formalized.  Rather than being a big-minded word for ‘system’ or ‘law’ or ‘morals’, I use this word to refer to the hypothetical ‘consciousness codex’ or whatever one might call it.  I also use it to refer to a life form’s foundational self-regard, and I bet this will turn out to be intimately related to consciousness.  It turns out to be related to a lot of artifacts and rituals, too, but perhaps these all orbit the curious core which has as much to do with mathematics, philosophy, and physics as it does with religion.  I wish I knew more, but I can at least see there’s probably something to this.  Removing it from the picture appears to complicate and confuse things.  If the idea is wrong, then someone will figure it out eventually.  No harm no foul.  But I see a real place for this idea of the Sacred, and I don’t imagine that it should have a trendier secular name.

My only grievance with some factions of the modern intellectual climate: the virtue of the rigorous methods has been reified and exported to areas where it probably doesn’t belong.  I feel it’s a great disservice to science and skepticism to plug them into vaguer, less-specified belief systems which are plainly designed to soothe the anxieties born of the unknown.  The unknown is real and important, and hand-waving about how it’s supposedly a known unknown thanks to science and probability theory amounts to a lot of caca.  The claim is unfounded.  No one has incontrovertible evidence for such an extravagant claim, and our present ideals of evidence are probably limited, anyway.  Those who claim to believe in the totalistic view of science simply assert it as self-evident at the base of their thinking.  They would rather not admit of their colossal ignorance.  Boo-hoo-hoo!  Don’t let philosophy get ya down!

Maybe science is the best we can do, but that doesn’t make it total.  Some may perceive this as an idle distinction, but I sure as hell don’t.

Nevertheless, the study of adaptive systems could knock out some of the as-yet unknowns, and that’s about as much as I allow myself to hope for.  Some folks flip out when confronted with what’s really going on in their brains when they ‘know’ something, so it’s probably miraculous that humans have made it as far as they have.  Then again, maybe existence itself is a miracle.  It feels like it.  I take it all in humorous stride.



22 Jul

I don’t believe a life needs to be lived on the self-conscious basis of ‘helping others’.  In a way, taking this mindset too far can become as bad as doing things strictly for money.

The love of science and its initiatives, for one, can and must take on a life of its own.  Many love science for science, and not because it will help feed starving children.  It will help with that, but that doesn’t mean that everyone doing science must always keep it in mind.  I hope that some don’t.  Similarly, I hope Tony MacAlpine doesn’t fret about what he thinks listeners want to hear or what will sell the most.  I don’t think that’s the way these things work best.  There’s a beauty and a power in pursuing studies and practices for their own sake.  Science and technology need true love every bit as much as a child does.  Yes, they need a sense of relevance, but we need our romantic wanderers, too.  Differentiation!

I don’t like the forced mindset of always doing something with a specific external goal in mind, and I will never apologize for that. Not everyone has that agenda-driven mindset, and they’re not necessarily inferior for being that way.  Complimentary approaches can probably do far more in coordination than a single anal command and control approach can by itself.  That’s all I was ever really saying on this topic, but it wasn’t coming out right.


The Unknown

21 Jul

As I explore my thoughts — allowing big questions to remain hanging painfully open — I’m seized by the limits of my perspective and the hint of what is beyond it.  Not so much in a personal opinionated way, but more as a being who appears to be getting tossed around on wavelets of a massive sea.  Even my own thoughts may be part of the turbulence.

It feels like being a 2-D figure stuck to the screen on a Lite-Brite.  One is hopelessly dependent and out of the loop by the very nature of one’s identity.  I’m stuck in this bastard space, and it seems there are plenty of fellow travelers.  This situation is somehow suffused with illusions of wholeness and sensibility.  Familiarity and a snappy pointer finger are meant to substitute for adequate understanding, but they do no such thing.

I’m impressed by a feeling that there is much more to reality than humans can understand or fathom.  I know it’s true.  Most human so-called ‘understanding’ amounts to pointing and vectoring the right ways at the right times.  Pointing!  Lots of pointing and twitching.  But how does one ever get beyond pointing and common sense?  I feel that reality must include something other than pointing.

I do find peace in accepting the nature of the situation.  The peace is not the product of satisfaction or affinity for the situation but is more like a sigh of relief from my eyes which could not be wholly deceived.  It might be thought that asking so many bottomless questions would lead to discontent, but I find a welcome peace in it.  Things are what they are, and working to believe otherwise is very stressful.  To not ask the questions would be far worse for me.  I cannot avoid these things as easily as most people can, and I don’t believe there’s any value in active diversion.  I’ve not found the human games of pretend all that convincing, and I never forgot that Reality was there.  Yes, you are doing your important things.  Your loves, your power games, your this, your that.  But we exist!  Don’t you see!  Aliens on Earth would be peanuts in comparison.  Don’t you get it?  If I met an alien tomorrow, I would still be overcome by the thought of existence.  Nobody seems to get it; they take their mortal egos so very seriously.

I have to laugh sometimes.  Are aliens or a Matrix reality the most exotic things people can think of?  I’m sure that it’s far more hardcore than that, although those sorts of things could be incumbent in the lower levels.  I don’t know exactly what it is.  I can’t say if it’s good, bad, something else, or none of the above.  I just know it’s beyond me in every sense of the word and then some.  And this realization changes everything.



19 Jul

Honesty is very underrated.  The really honest person will constantly be saying, “I don’t know.”  This is not socially rewarded in most contexts, but it is certainly honest.  My experience is that reliably calm honesty often comes to be valued and respected, although I have yet to see it loved.

If you admit something is important and you admit to not knowing it as well as you’d like, then you’re probably on your way to asking interesting questions and making discoveries.  It’s that simple.  Honesty also helps to spare one from magical thinking.  I don’t believe in callous or cruel honesty.  If someone perceives calm and relevant honesty as cruel, then the problem is with them.

It only seems more complicated than that because we have very few deeply honest people around, and the less honest ones are constantly scrambling to rationalize their own nonsense.  The honest ones rarely end up in power.  People learn to disguise and change their feelings because political concerns condition them to not step out of line.  2+2 = 5.  It’s safer that way.

Deception is an infection which will eventually spread throughout the infected host.  Once a deception is swallowed, the entire picture has been thrown off.  Some questions are already disallowed.  Blocks and inconsistencies fester deep within.  The retina herself is injured.  Wishful thinking has been set as a precedent.  If it was OK once, then why not keep using it?  The thing about deception is that it has to ultimately forbid certain questions and statements.  If it doesn’t forbid them, then it has to change their meaning by making cuts elsewhere.  Truth doesn’t.

Another common misunderstanding is that truth is all about what is popularly believed, practiced, or valued.  For example, “Philosophy isn’t popular, so it must not be great!”  It may well be true that philosophy is not popular, but it does not follow that it is without value.  This conformist mindset is insidious with its circular logic and lack of autonomy.

Once dependence on wishful thinking has been laid in, the person may become an emotional and intellectual cripple who feels they can’t handle a straight look at their own situation.  The lies have established themselves, and they perpetuate a subtle indignity.  Pieces of wood are placed atop a flimsy foundation of cards.  It’s saying, “Reality is too strong for you/me.  Let me remake your/my eyes, poor one.”

Truth can be calm, and it’s very suspicious when it isn’t.  Those who feel the need to habitually shout or berate with ‘truth’ are probably not all that honest.

Honesty is necessary for realism and sound development.  Need more be said?



Know Thyself?

13 Jul

Disclaimer:  Philosophy makes no promises and has no touchy-feely obligations.  The truth might not set you free.


There comes a point at which one may cease to interpret human behavior as being the result of ideal choice and ideal meaning.

It’s one thing to say this, and it’s quite another thing to live it.  It can be related to the old paradox of incontinence: “I know this is wrong, but I still believe it, feel it, do it, etc.”  Children can read philosophical aphorisms, but their basic assumptions are left intact in nearly every case. The same could be said for a slightly smaller majority of adults.  Assumptions are not inert things; they inform and structure our interpretations.  Behavior is affected by changes in key assumptions.

A human being is structured so as to take his perceptions and emergent thoughts & associations incredibly seriously.  Few persons will say, for example, “I am having this negative association, but perhaps it is erroneous, or perhaps even the notion of ‘erroenous’ warrants far deeper introspection.”  The inherent risk vested in this subjective absolute is rarely recognized.  Who feels dramatic emotions and interprets them as a dice roll of the Universe?  Hardly anyone.  We are encouraged to take our emotions extremely seriously; tidy up gaping inconsistencies on the way from A to B.

Another example: the staging of a creature in a perceived environment will automatically and involuntarily prime the seated agent’s brain according to past experiences.  Usually, this ambient tuning will be taken as indubitable and representative of reality.  It will be confidently acted on.  Yet it is hopelessly finite!

The truth is delivered unto the finite seer.  At least it feels that way, and that’s what really matters.  Fake it til ya make it!

One problem is the wholesale idealization of ‘knowers’ and ‘actors’ as implicitly infinite beings of divine prerogative.  It’s the Enlightenment and its bag of tricks!

So why are we in such an odd predicament?  I can’t hope to offer a full explanation, but some insight can be had.  In a distributed and competitive system of finite knowers and actors, one ends up with units of solipsism/zealotry, organization, and advocacy rather than with idealized perfect knowing.  Furthermore, nothing would ever get off the ground without some boldness.  Beyond that, there will be an evolutionary premium for the right mix of risk and conservation.  Those creatures taking too few risks will be overrun.  The bold may not have much ability to introspect or to formally justify, but they can act(a different sort of ‘justification’).  Since the bold need some degree of general awareness, coherence, and ad hoc capability, they end up with amazing cover stories and rationalizations for their overall lack of adequate understanding and justification(recall sanity’s membrane).  History remembers actors who stumbled into superior methods(read: fertile methods).  Action doesn’t require philosophic wholeness, at least simple action doesn’t, and it probably doesn’t even require consciousness.  If patterns of conditioning are locked in, then they may perpetuate themselves by habit which will rehearse itself indefinitely so long as it continues to find sustenance.

Consciousness is probably an exception to finite knowing, but perhaps not quite in the sense that might be hoped for.  In any case, it’s a critical trail to follow.  I know that something exists, and I know that the inconceivable qua human is real.  One might react to this with hope, wonder, awe, terror, and so on.  What is there to recommend one of the reactions over the others?   Is such a reaction even meaningful at all outside of its realization within a personality?

What does it mean to understand or to know?  Is it nothing but the credit of history’s epic conditioning processes culminating in moments of sophisticated reflex and binding?

It’s difficult to consider such things without feeling some respect for the daring Gnostic mood.  If we live in a reality structured to reward conscious zealots who perpetrate ever-escalating forms of self-deception as a sacrifice for relative ‘fitness’, then one has to wonder about the Universe itself.  I certainly do.



11 Jul