May 2007

I seem to have argued my way to a point, were every time I use a personal pronoun, I do not know what it means.  This is a legacy problem.  Perhaps we can overcome it.  But it won’t do to try to ring-fence ‘I’ or ‘you’.  One of the biggest pressures on preserving these fictive selves is the issue of moral responsibility.   We insist that adhere to the ‘individual’, and we are bad at recognizing collective responsibility, though we seem to have gotten a bit better at that lately.

Lucid Movement has lots of slo-mo photography if you like.  Mostly predictable stuff: happers bashing plates of jelly…..

This study, just out, is interesting.  Fruit flies in complete sensory deprivation do not fly randomly.  They generate interesting, non-linear and structured, yet unpredictable, behavior.  Great stuff.  An autopoeitic individual above minimal complexity will have internal dynamics which modulate the flow from sensory to motor sides.  In us this is the whole brain, though any small number of interneurons ought to do.  This mediation allows decoupling from the immediate environmental dynamics and allows us to both live in the past and the future.  Fruit flies too.  Their P-worlds have some minimal depth.

Unfortunatly, the silly scientists claim that they have discovered a rudimentary form of free will in flies.  Aargh.  But hang onto the study.  The modulation, through interneurons, of the S-M linkage is really important, as is the fanciful notion of depth for P-worlds.

Jerry Fodor, who is not a reliable interpreter of other people’s positions (but he does write beautifully) is not impressed by the conclusions of Galen Strawson’s new book: Consciousness and Its Place in Nature: Does Physicalism Entail Panpsychism?. Strawson, by Fdor’s account, swallows all sorts of camels in clinging determinedly to Monism (there is only one kind of stuff) and the reality of Consciousness, and a third, more problematic claim: Emergence of consciousness isn’t possible, because ‘For any feature Y of anything that is correctly considered to be emergent from X, there must be something about X and X alone in virtue of which Y emerges, and which is sufficient for Y.’

Looks like Strawson is on the right path in his tenacity, but being tripped up by the usual philosopher’s drivel. However, the interesting quote is only tangentially related to the book under review. Fodor says:

I think it’s strictly true that we can’t, as things stand now, so much as imagine the solution of the hard problem. The revisions of our concepts and theories that imagining a solution will eventually require are likely to be very deep and very unsettling. (That’s assuming what’s by no means obvious: that we are smart enough to solve it at all.) Philosophers used to think (some still do) that a bit of analytical tidying up would make the hard problem go away. But they were wrong to think that. There is hardly anything that we may not have to cut loose from before the hard problem is through with us.

And later:

Anyhow, Strawson is right that the hard problem really is very hard; and I share his intuition that it isn’t going to get solved for free. Views that we cherish will be damaged in the process; the serious question is which ones and how badly. If you want an idea of just how hard the hard problem is, and just how strange things can look when you face its hardness without flinching, this is the right book to read.

Once more, I find myself standing with Fodor. But I have seen further! What a great feeling:) (and, no, I’m not stoned).

 If a triangle could speak it would say that God is eminently triangular.

Spinoza (WK quotes)

Nothing in the universe is contingent, but all things are conditioned to exist and operate in a particular manner by the necessity of the divine nature.

Here I have to disagree, and see his conception of the pantheistic god as a failure to recognitze our contingency and forced relativism.  But that would have been too much for him, no?


In his famous 1784 essay What Is Enlightenment?, Immanuel Kant described it as follows:

Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is the incapacity to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. Such tutelage is self-imposed if its cause is not lack of intelligence, but rather a lack of determination and courage to use one’s intelligence without being guided by another.

Kant reasoned that although a man must obey in his civil duties, he must make public his use of reason. His motto for enlightenment is Sapere aude! or “Dare to know.”

I had a fever and dope-induced vision in January of a cyclical universe.  Seems like the physicists are catching up with me:)

From wikipedia:

Spinoza, having dedicated himself completely to philosophy after 1656 [when he was excommunicated from the Jewish faith], fervently desired to change the world through establishing a clandestine philosophical sect. Because of public censure this was only eventually realized after his death through the dedicated intercession of his friends.

I only hope I don’t have to wait that long!

He contended that everything that exists in Nature/Universe is one Reality (substance) and there is only one set of rules governing the whole of the reality which surrounds us and of which we are part.

So far, so good…..

He has an argument for what looks a lot like R-world, and he calls “substance”.  Astonishing that he could have seen so far, but what are termed ‘proofs’ are no such thing.  I see vision here, rather than argument.  Here’s a ovely tie in to Bhuddism:

So freedom is not the possibility to say “no” to what happens to us but the possibility to say “yes” and fully understand why things should necessarily happen that way.

Some of Spinoza’s philosophical positions are:

  • The natural world is infinite. [? what does that mean?]
  • Good and evil are definitions of Humans not nature. [Yay!]
  • Everything done by humans and other animals is excellent and divine. [hmmm.  trust the monkey?]
  • All rights are derived from the State. [interesting claim]
  • Animals can be used in any way by people for the benefit of the human race, according to a rational consideration of the benefit as well as the animals’ status in nature. [Lots of room for work here]

Here’s a beauty from his Ethics:

His concept of three types of knowledge – opinion, reason, intuitive – and assertion that intuitive knowledge provides the greatest satisfaction of mind, leads to his proposition that the more we are conscious of ourselves and Nature/Universe, the more perfect and blessed we are (in reality) and that only intuitive knowledge is eternal.

Wittgenstein nodded in Spinoza’s direction when he said:

“If by eternity is understood not eternal temporal duration, but timelessness, then he lives eternally who lives in the present.” (6.4311) “The contemplation of the world sub specie aeterni is its contemplation as a limited whole.” (6.45) (TLP)

… and Einstein (who is much over cited normally) had this to say, on being asked whether he believed in God:

Einstein responded by telegram “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.”

 Neutral Monism isgenerally laid at Sponoza’s door:Neutral monism, in philosophy, is the metaphysical view that existence consists of one kind (hence monism) of primal substance, which in itself is neither mental nor physical, but is capable of mental and physical aspects or attributes.

> One starts by special suppressive drugs and massive doses of
> corticoid (leaving the mind disjointed, hallucinating, and with an
> obsessive compulsion to repeat certain inner discourses; nights
> spent in the corticoid desert are certainly a form of hell).

I had a restless night last night, up scribbling on the whiteboard at 2 in the morning.  Awake at 4.  I felt very compulsive last night: like I was being channelled.  Very disconcerting, and a reason for caution.

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