Will


The pharasaic artform, the resonator, is the experiential equivalent of the Newtonian three-ball problem.  There are three media elements.  Any two together will lend itself to the creation of a simple narrative.  But three at once, with no actual connection between them, becomes entirely unpredictable.  As you try to see the whole thing, to frame it in your view finder, and exert maximal grip, it defies a predictive analysis.  Micro-fluctuations become amplified, symmetry is broken by a random event one level down.  This lightweight structure, where meaning arises without effort, this is you-here-now-awareness-attention.  It is a tool, designed like a mantra.  And it must be allowed to run for at least 30 seconds.  Otherwise, that ain’t part of the game.

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I’m watching Evan Thompson on Neuroscience and Free Will (Part 2 here), and he is merrily talking about reconciling or aligning a third person point of view (give to us through instruments such as imaging, eeg, etc) and the phenomenological “side”. Underlying the images etc is neural activity; however, they do not record it directly. Rather, the signals presented to us are highly mediated and at some remove from the raw neural activity of an individual. Furthermore, what neural activity is to the signals we record, experience is to self-report. It is not a direct read-out of experience, and we need to better understand how the self-report arises, just as we need to know how an fMRI signal is related to neural activity. He expects his audience to get the distinction.

I waffle on about experience, and am stuck, mute, dumb when I am asked what that is. How could you possibly point to it? Sometimes we talk of the theatre where stuff happens. But that isn’t it, because a theatre is another thing. Likewise, we cannot picture or imagine an Umwelt without presupposing another Umwelt.

I think immediate experience is understandable as the experiential counterpart to the Perception/Action relation. But given that nobody seems to agree on what the word experience refers to, might one not simply turn things around, and call the P/A relation the P-world, and see what gives then?

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.

Theologians have spent so long wondering why there is pain in the world. Would that they had spent as much time wondering why there is pleasure in the world.

… for desire is what makes it all happen. Nietzche’s “will”. Something has to be the prime mover. And desire is what it looks like from here.  But the Islamic “surrender” is not alien, nor the Bhuddist “Om”.

In appealing to God-stories, or noumena, or P-R distinctions, we are complaining that the patterns we see don’t provide an adequate explanation. We name the bit we don’t see. We call it ‘will’.