Monday, December 26, 2011

Why humans so different from nature? (The Imagination as The Divine)

Humans are spiritual creatures. That is what makes us different from animals. Spiritual means that which you cannot see. That is, things of the spirit are not things of matter. Therefore, the human has access to a part of reality which all other animals don’t. Our culture and language are prime examples of our preoccupation with immaterial affairs. Our imagination, I believe, is the divine. If I asked you to imagine a horse, what sense are you using to perceive it? It definitely is not any of our five senses we use to perceive the world. When we perceive the horse in the mind, we are viewing it through the imagination. Because of this, many of our social, religious, and political practices stem from ideologies which are from the imagination. We deal with the imagination all the time. And it is this part of ourselves which to me is what all cultures call the divine or “other-worldly”. This spiritual side of ourselves is what one should give their attention to when contemplating the origins of human idiosyncrasies such as culture, language, music, and ritual. The implications of this notion also deal with the future of our species as we progress to greater levels of imagine potential, manifesting as new social structures and technologies. Our imagination, I believe, is the key to understanding why we are so different from the rest of nature.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Some Words On Abortion

How I understand it:
Bodily life begins at conception. You, me, and others are persons and not necessarily bodies.
If one were to fall into an irreversible coma, would we not conclude they were dead?
Because what makes a person is their person-hood and not their body. Its a mental thing.
So bodily life begins at conception, but person-hood begins at about 20-25 months (about the time the baby can start to tell itself apart from the environment).

So the fetus is not a person. The newborn infant is not a person.
Why would this offend some? Does something have to be a person to be respected? If it offends someone, then that person does not respect things that are non persons.

As abortion goes, its better for a child to be raised in a world were it is wanted. If it is born to parents who have doubts about its existence, that negativity will spill over and affect the child's upbringing, mostly likely for worse. Adoption is not a good option because of the moral question of whether or not to inform the child of their situation. If one doesn't tell the child, they might find out later which will cause a nervous breakdown. If the child is told, he may feel frustrated or upset that he doesn't have "real" parents and he may even disrespected his caregivers.

Also if abortion was made illegal, many will still try to abort and they might end up hurting themselves or the baby, possibly dieing. Better to keep it in the light of legitimate medical science.

Thus, abortion is a right for a woman and man to choose. To infringe is not a moral issue, but one of liberty.   

a=a (Virtual Reality)

Virtual reality will eventually advance to the point that it will become indistinguishable from reality.
Therefore, if there is no telling them apart, they become equal, a=a.

What if your life is an advanced video game? Maybe the player was tied of doing things while knowing s/he was playing a game. Maybe they wanted the thrill from tricking themselves into thinking that the game is a real life.

If you think about the evolution of video games, its not hard to envision there will be advanced games that would allow the player to completely immerse themselves in the game forgetting that its a game. All for entertainment's sake. People will eventually get bored with games that give them only pleasures, they will want the joys and pains of a full life. Maybe the game lasts a day but feels like a lifetime.
Who knows? Who cares?  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

4 Starting Points for Activism

In today's world there are many problems facing humanity. Because of this, some people have become activists. Their aim is to bring awareness to a given troubling issue, with the hope of generating some kind of helpful response.
In light of this, I have outlined four main areas of activism.
The four areas of activism: Ecological, Economic, Social, and Political.

-The Ecological deals with how humans relate to non-human life and nature in general. Examples of activism here are the environmental movement and the animal rights movement.

-The Economic is concerned with how humans relate to their material resources. Examples of activism in this area are labor movements and Occupy Wall Street.

-The Social covers how humans relate to others within their community. Examples of activism in this area are the civil rights movement and the suffrage movement.

-The Political spans how human communities/societies as a whole interact with other whole communities/societies. Examples of activism in this area are the anti-war protests and the tea-party movement.  

My intent with this outline is to help guide those who feel frustrated with the way things are, but have no way to articulate it in a tangible manner. Hopefully with these distinctions, it can be easier for them to fully notice problematic issues and help others become aware of them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Five Abysses: Starting Points for Speculative Philosophy

I'm a huge fan of speculative philosophy and speculating in general. By its very definition speculation deals with what we know very little about. Yet I find it fun because, in doing so, one can confront the mystery of their existence and fully be aware of how we, as humans, are both unique and insignificant at the same time. Its akin to a religious/spiritual feeling and its much like painting a picture. Whether or not its true is not the point. The aim is to give an unique metaphor that we can use to replace the ones we already have. It can also help us work on our assumptions by bringing them up for review. Reworking our assumptions can then in turn help guide and color our lives differently.

With all that said, I think there are four main starting points in speculating the mysteries of existence.
They are: LIFE/DEATH, TIME/HISTORY, SPACE/MATTER, DREAMS/PSYCHE, and BEING/EXISTENCE.
I get this distinction from a Terrence Mckenna lecture which I don't recall the name of. Yet I added Being/Existence on my own.

-Life/Death relates to the mystery of how life came to be and what happens to it at death.
-Time/History deals with the mystery of the duration of the universe and the recent occurrence (genetically speaking) of history as an out growth from nature that is not nature itself (artificiality).
-Space/Matter covers the mystery of the expansiveness of space and the matter that occupies it.
-Dreams/Psyche regards the mystery of the dream's relation to reality and the connection between the mind and body or world.
-Being/Existence refers to the mystery of the basis of reality and what constitutes and causes it.

These five topics I believe cover all the areas of mystery in our present time. People interested in speculative philosophy and theories should use these areas as spring boards to create their own ideas or to help evaluate others ideas.

The point is to be reasonable not factual.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fucking Crippled

Loving another has made me

Fucking crippled

Injured by its duration

Scarred from the attachment

Lines of relation shattered

Left to pick up half the pieces

Glue seems useless

It will only hold the pieces long enough

But eventually it will fall and break again

A life spent putting pieces back together

Trusting the pieces glued

Will hold together better in the future

Then in the past

I am crippled because of this truth

I am too cynical to glue the pieces back together

Coquettish Trance

Her stink is all over me

How sweet the smell

Makes me cringe as I remember

Her lovely soft face

I can still feel the crushing weight of her actions on my mind

How I miss her false embrace

This vicious drama pokes holes through my soul

Showing me how beauty is both blissful and cruel

What a sick joke?

I wish I could get the punch-line

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Everyone is Religious.

 Religion is the basic human experience. The only reason one may not think so is because they are not aware of the underlying assumptions we have of the world.

Most people who live in our culture think of religion as something resembling Christianity. They think it involves worshiping supernatural or divine deities and adhering to strict behavioral and moral codes. While many religions do have these traits, the basic underlying definition, “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe” (dictionary.com) is broad enough to encompass all humans. Who doesn’t have beliefs pertaining to the cause nature and purpose of the universe? Atheism, agnosticism, and scientism, although considered to be irreligious, are very religious. Why? Because they have beliefs about what is the cause and nature of the universe. One might object and mention that someone like an agnostic or an atheist has no faith/belief in anything. But they do. For instance, an atheist affirms that there is no such thing as god. Atheism is: (1) a stern belief that god doesn’t exist and that the universe was not created by (2) a faith that there is no god and never will be any god (3) the belief that the purpose of the universe is not determined by a god. As one can see, atheist has its own beliefs and assumptions.



But one can argue and point out that the atheist got his information through empirical scientific findings, not tradition and/or scripture. While this is true we must ask: what makes empiricism a more valid way of getting knowledge? (This happens to be scientism’s main belief/faith) If what makes empiricism valid is the fact it deals with the sensory realm we can all experience, we must acknowledge that there is no empirical evidence for this assumption. That is, there is no empirical fact that tells us that empiricism is the only valid way of receiving knowledge. Scientists favor empiricism because they intuitively feel it to be the best way of gathering data, yet there is no experiment or test which will objectively tell them that empirical knowledge is the only valid knowledge. This feeling that empiricism is the only valid way of obtaining knowledge is the underlying assumption that is taken for granted.



The same thing goes with agnosticism. It claims to be “unsure”-this is the cornerstone of the belief system. Agnostics sternly believe that it is impossible or unnecessary to know about god. This assumption, no matter how reasonable it may be, is still an assumption that is no more valid then the assumption that one can know about god.



Thus, we are all religious because we have belief systems about the universe (no matter how insignificant one may feel them to be) which are derived from the underlying assumptions we have about the world. And these assumptions are inherently all equal to each other (some may being more useful in precise circumstances and for particular people, based on what they understand as useful). Nevertheless all these assumptions, Christian, atheist, logical positivist (scientism), etc, all are of equal weight and should be seen as so. Religion is what makes us human. The fact that we all come up with ideologies about the universe is central to our everyday experience. Therefore religion is the basic human experience. We are all religious.
     

Monday, November 21, 2011

Love, Drugs, and the Meaning of Life

Most today would say that true romantic love doesn’t exist. They say it’s not true because the feeling of passion and interest one has for another while “head over heels” is a biological reaction that has no real connection to the person. Instead that feeling is created by the idea that someone has opened themselves up to you, or it can be pure physical attraction. Therefore, the feeling inevitably fades with time. Any lengthening of the relationship is due to children or economic issues. Eventually the person learns to “put up” with the other.

So a lot of people are privy to this and they date around for the fun of it. All the while knowing that any feelings that develop are to be ignored and not pursued. What results are relationships that are superficial and shallow, only maintained because of the shared feeling of passion or romantic love. So it’s as if the two persons understand that these feelings of wanting to be with the other are not genuine, and as a result they are doing it just for the thrill or pure feeling of it. This desire for feelings brings us to our next focus, drugs.

People use recreational drugs for the feeling of it. They understand that the feelings they get from the drug are not genuine- meaning that they wont last and are shallow. This is exactly the same case as with love. People fall in love with one another but all the while aware that it is superficial. So one can see how taking a drug and playing the field or dating for the fun of it are one in the same as they both are done to get some shallow feeling.

Some claim that the meaning of life is impossible to know. That may be the case, but it is equally true that there is a true meaning to life. With that said I think the meaning of life is satisfaction. Now how does that tie in with what was stated above? If what we all want out of life is satisfaction then these actions like dating for the fun of it or using drugs are valid ways of getting that. But one I believe is more honest then the other.

I believe that recreational drug use is more honest then dating for the fun of it. Because although the people maybe in agreement about not letting the feeling get too strong, they nevertheless eventually do, causing some horrible and confusing emotional disasters. On the other hand, drug use involves no one else and it is completely sincere. You can’t lie to the drug, nor can you upset it. You must only respect its power to enslave you and work according so that doesn’t happen.

In the end, my point is that if all we want out of life is to feel good, then we must acknowledge this: We can’t use other people’s feelings to create feelings for ourselves. If one wants to muddle themselves up in a relationship for the sake of superficial feelings then so be it. But if they want to be honest about what they want, then recreational drug use is a valid choice.

Sure it may seem taboo and even wrong to suggest that recreational drug use is more moral then fooling around, but when taken into consideration the lies, lack of respect, asymmetry in feeling and emotional upheaval of shallow relationships, one can see how the fact that drug use only involves that one person, makes it a more ethical choice, because any mistake will effect only that person; thereby upholding the ideal of liberty. This is unlike a relationship which has two or more people’s feelings hang in limbo. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trying to be yourself?

Most would agree that each person has a true personality that is unique to only their self. Yet we can observe that each person’s personality is an amalgamation of several others. So for example, we can say that someone gets 40% of their personality from some person and 30% from another person and another 30% from someone else (in actuality it would be much more complicated then this, but for sake of argument lets make it simple). Nothing out of the ordinary so far right? Lets take the next step. Let’s think that for every part received from someone else, that piece is also an amalgamation of who knows how many other parts, and those parts are also amalgamations- this pattern repeats forever. So any one piece is really not one thing. So when we said before that one person has 40% from someone, that percentage piece is really not from that one person, but from an innumerable number of influences and sources. Therefore, we are made up of many other people, but those pieces are not whole but instead have no definite boundaries. There is a direction from where the piece comes from- the person of influence- but what comes to you is not just that one person, but all those influences that go back forever. So the makeup of your personalities are not from anyone really, but rather you are a unique expression of a specific ratio of influence streams(the direction of influence you get from people) which culminate in your self. Thus, yourself is really no self but almost all selves (if you consider the fact that we all were once in the same small group of early humans) because that stream of influence stretches back forever and to everyone in the past. So that self of yours is the self of humanities collective stride. The only reason you are different from others now, is because the different streams of influence have culminated in different people in different ratios. So to analogize, its all the same water, but going through different streams. The water comes from the same place and is made of the same stuff. It only takes on different shapes and different directions. We can see this in our physical appearance as all humans have the same parts but in different proportions. This is also parallel to atomic structure, being that what makes atoms different is the ratio of electrons they have. So to recap, our personalities are made not from different people per-se, but the streams of influence which carry along these traits from person to person, each self submitting something to be passed on to the next person. Therefore we can understand how we are all connected and expressions of the same basic stuff. So being yourself really would mean to be like many other selves and not just your single self (whatever that means).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Does beauty fill your stomach?

Human behavior is pretty varied. Yet in the end, we are organisms with the sole intent of keeping homeostasis. So with all the weird and wonderful things we do apart from the rest of nature, how exactly does beauty fit into the maintenance of an organism? This is the time when the evolutionary psychologist steps in and answers, that we enjoy physical beauty because people with symmetrical features are a sign of good reproductive health.
So, because people with symmetrical features have better health then less symmetrical ones, the preference for symmetry spills over into the world and creates art, expression and the like? Case closed? I would ask, what about Dionysian-esque or asymmetrical art forms? Even a lot of east Asian Buddhist and Taoist poetry refer to things that are free flowing, without order, or without apparent symmetry as having beauty. Therefore, how do we account for these non-symmetrical kinds of aesthetics? I wildly speculate that there is another factor influencing human behavior that is not explained by the Darwinian paradigm. Dare I say it, something resembling platonic forms but perhaps more like archetypes, that do not stem from natural selection but from something transcendent to nature? Perhaps…

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Who was it that had their head in the “clouds” again?

Realists and Idealists. When these terms are applied to generations it is usually thought that older generations are realists (conservatives) and the younger generation are idealists (liberals). Yet with some thought this is not the case, it is in fact just the opposite. The younger generation is often accused of idealism mainly because they want to change the system and that is seen as an ideal in of itself. However, what the older generation misses is that by trying to conserve a kind of paradigm, they themselves are supporting an abstract ideal. While on the other hand, the younger generation is just reacting to the present world which is more real than any idea of the past. Therefore because of the older generation’s drive to preserve a system which is modeled on the past they become idealists, while the younger generation are realists because they are reacting to what they feel in the here and now.
Who was it that had their head in the “clouds” again?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Nature or Nurture?

Where does one draw the line between the natural and the artificial? A simple answer would be anything made by a human is artificial. As final as this response may seem, it ignores the fact that the artificial came out of the natural. That is, the natural eventually gave way to the artificial by means of evolution. Therefore anything artificial is really a product of the natural. But intuition nags us to consider the immense differences between man made things, and the other stuff that is left to itself. At what point in our evolution did we start becoming artificial? If there is a point, why the change? How did that natural cause give rise to a artificial effect? The first artificial expression began within a natural context. With that said, the natural did something artificial. Wouldn't that mean that the natural is artificial because it acted so? This problem can be applied to the supposed dichotomy between nature and culture (e.g. nature and nurture). How did nature give rise to culture and why the difference if one came from the other? If we define artificial as something made by humans, we must recognize that all life forms have their own kind of artificiality. To assume that the rest is natural and we are an intrusion into the picture is detrimental to our relationship to nature. That attitude is what manifests the exploitation of the environment for profit. If we can transition from seeing ourselves on the other side of a dichotomy with nature, to considering ourselves as one of the many expressions of it- albeit a very unique one- we can start to see how we are not only in the world but of it as well, thus feeling more at home in the cosmos.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hey, you never know!

Mike thinks Paul's lotto habit is a trap

Paul: I just got some lotto scratch offs!
Mike: Those are a waste of money.
P: I don't think so.
M: The are the chances of winning are so slim, you would have to fear thunder storms because getting struck by lightning is more likely then hitting it big with those money traps.
P: That's true but the more I get the better of a chance I have of winning.
M:(He laughs) That's exactly what I'm talking about. You will probably end up giving them as much as your supposed to win!
P: And it will even out for me!
M: All for nothing...
P: Really? I don't think so.
M: You spent all that money just to get it back. You could of saved it up instead.
P: But that would not have been anywhere near as fun.
M: Hmm
P: Saving is a good thing. But the trill I get when I win is almost as good. Plus there would be that chance of hitting it big which would be a such a rush ha ha.
M: Well you do have a point. But I still think I'll save my money instead. Yet I will indulge once in a while because as you said, it's a great feeling.
P: Great, get one now!

Let us wish Mike luck so as to not fall into a money trap  

Monday, October 24, 2011

The function of the Taoist Scriptures

Julian Jaynes wrote in his book The Origin of Consciousness that language grows by metaphor. In this sense one can see how all language is metaphor. For instance, one could look up the definition of a word in the dictionary and they would be directed to another word, the new word’s definition will refer to another word, and that final words definition happens to be the first word which was looked up. This shows how language can act as a closed loop. Yet language can also grow, and it seems to make sense how it grows by metaphor. One would juxtapose one or more phrases used in one sphere of activity onto a novel situation, thereby creating a new expression of reality. With that said, language is limited because of its non-literal grasp of reality.
The Tao as a literary device reminds us that language is limited because it can only grasp things by metaphor. Therefore, words are a poor approximation of reality. It helps us by pushing us to think without words, enabling us to grasp reality in its rawness without arbitrary social concepts. Notice, when one defines an object, as long as the definer does not question or attempt to think beyond that definition, the object will remain in its defined state. It is until one is pushed out of thinking with their preordained definitions that they are able to grasp more of the object in question which was left out by definition. Thus to define is to limit, and reality is limitless in expression. So the Tao can be seem to function, through its writings, as a reminder to people to not take their definitions of reality as set in stone. Yes they are there and exist to some extent, but they are not fixed- they change all the time. This literary and mystical tradition from a psychological perspective perhaps is a ideological balance to the rigid structure of Confucianism.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Form and Void

What gives rise to form? Can the unshaped be shaped? Is form always formed or does it oscillate with periods of void? If we come to know things only by contrast, and all things we see have form, how is it we can be so sure to differentiate between form and non-form. Perhaps we are mistaken and there is only form- the notion/condition of void as a type of form.
But it is imaginable that void can exist without form. Space devoid of planets, stars, and other objects is not an impossibility. Yet, this brings up the question: what makes an object an object? Asking this is important because we need to know what it is we are subtracting to create pure void. A simple answer is the stuff around us. But how is stuff measured? How could we count it and tell it apart from non-stuff? The long paradoxical answer is that what makes stuff itself is an arbitrary decision made by an observer. The stuff we perceive with our senses does not disclose the true identity of that stuff. What appears to be a multitude of shapes and forms is all reducible to varying frequencies of atomic pulsation. These atoms are made of ~99.99% space. The small area which has mass is the nucleus. This structure again also consists of ~99.9% space. And this pattern continues all the way down (well as far as we can look). Notice, the stuff is made up of space. So if stuff is space, then all is space. That then follows that all is void as space is void. But something about that does is not-just-quite-right. The solidarity we experience on the macro scale is the result of negatively charged electrons repealing each other, not stuff coming up against other stuff.
Where does this leave us? Stuff turns out to be space and space is the meaning of void, therefore all is void? Yet we can still perceive form as distinct from space? This is one of the riddles the universe offers us to ponder, leading us to realize our paradoxical nature. As a good mystery this leaves me still guessing. I think this sums it up well:
“O Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form. That which is form is emptiness; that which is emptiness is form. The same is true of feelings, perceptions, formations, consciousness” -The Heart Sutra

Form and void as polar opposites quickly reveal themselves to be nothing but a false dichotomy- two sides of the same coin.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Solipsistic Trance

Where do I go?
When the sun sets
To the east ?
Or the west?

Time is running out
I must hurry and choose a direction
I need a place to go when the sun goes down

It is nor clear waht I should pick it
But what if I choose the wrong one?
On to my death or my survival?
This risk why am I here with this risk?
The question with no apparent answer
Forbidden by those who call themselves sane
Sun draws near set…

The lower edge slices into the earth at the horizon
Time runs
Why am I here?
Time runs
What if I chose wrong?
Time runs

Still, why have I come here to be in this problem?
What if I die?
What if I live?
Time runs
Sun lowers evermore

What’s the real difference if death is the absence of life, but the life is denial or constant facing of death?
The two are the same
Time runs

I’m either dead or living hoping not to be dead
No matter what, death will always be here haunting me
Time runs

So why run to the east?
Or the west?
Sun starts to fade out of sight

The way I preoccupy my self with death and the avoidance of it
I shouldn’t have to fear it
I am death
Why not?

If its on my mind
And it is what defines my life?
Because if I did not die, I would not be aware that I lived

The sun sets and darkens engulfs all into nothingness….

……….……………Its like nothing ever changed…………………….…

Total Understanding (TRUTH) is Acceptance

Many seekers of truth, as they think of themselves, are searching for what they call enlightenment/truth or what can be called complete understanding or knowing. This may seem to be a path for the pretentious. Some would say, "One who seeks for truth thinks of themselves as better then others". Therefore, the path to enlightenment/truth or total understanding is given a bad rap. I'd like to offer you another way of thinking about understanding and the path to enlightenment(total understanding), not as a positive accumulation of knowledge or information, but as a passive accepting forgiveness which allows one to fully grasp something in its totality.

So, how can forgiveness lead to understanding?. Well, the bad-ass freelance philosopher/writer Alan Watts once said "To understand all is to forgive all.". The value of this statement didn't dawn on me at first. I had to think it over. I asked myself how could understanding which is a knowing of information be connected with pardoning something. This was not clear at all.

What does it mean to forgive? Some one does something hurtful to us. We feel resentment for them. Yet there are times we withdraw our negative feelings and put them aside. For example a baby knocks over a glass cup at a table. Most would not get mad at the baby. That is because they UNDERSTAND that the baby has no sense of judgement yet (hopefully).

So now this idea of forgiveness as understanding was clear to me. But being the intellectual manic that I am, I pushed this idea to its logical extreme. To illustrate, your eating at a mall food court and a man sits next to you to eat because the place is crowded. After the two of you eat for a few minuets his legs jolt and smack the table causing your tray of food to land on you lap ruining the food. You not KNOWING the person would get mad without hesitation. Yet if you KNEW his history of severe restless leg syndrome you would of withheld your negativity.

Then I started to think maybe if you knew everything about a person you would always be able to forgive them, because you would be able to understand their history and what circumstance brought him or her there to that point. We all know (hopefully) that virtually all of who/what we are is a result of our environment, and we have no control over that.

So, if one would to forgive all that happens, he/she is attempting to understand it all. If one accomplishes this then they will be in acceptance of all that is because they will fully pardon all of its misgivings and welcome its pleasures. From there understanding takes place- because with a clear and open mind the person could learn from the world unfettered by his fears or cultural/social/personal history biases. This state of openness is the hallmark of religious and mystic practice.

This (mind state of openness) is enlightenment through the understanding by means of forgiveness and acceptance; the path to enlightenment/truth is not selfish retaining of knowledge but full acceptance of all that is.     

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What is Philosophy? Does it have use?

If you look up the term in a dictionary it will define as: the study of wisdom.
How can one study wisdom? Common sense tells us that wisdom is achieved intuitively over long periods of experience. So how could one learn in a book or class setting what life itself as a whole can only teach?
Wisdom in the dictionary is defined in short as knowing right from wrong. Again this skill (wisdom) seems to be gained solely from experience and life in general, not a classroom over a few years (like one can  learn other skills; engineering medicine etc).

Therefore most people laugh (thinking its a joke) or question the mental health of the person when they announce that their college major is philosophy. Some even think of philosophy students as completely pretentious.

Ive been thinking this over for a while and i think we can reach wisdom in the class setting. One other aspect of philosophy which permeates it yet is not mentioned in the very name (philos) is critical thinking and critical perspective.
This I believe is where the value of philosophy is at its most evident. Critical thinking- the ability to suspend ones own beliefs and the beliefs of others, into a realm of speculative thought which opens up new ways of thinking about the same old issues. This is the hallmark of innovation and paradigm shifts (think of Thomas Kuhn's book).
It is while we critically analyze something that we can "step out of the box" and almost objectively comprehend our own positions and those of others.

This is not only a value to intellectuals, this is of value to everyone. This is the real skill of philosophy, critical perspective. Most of us in the US are made to skip to critical thinking questions for homework in public school. The reason being that its too hard because there is no one clear cut answer. That's because it requires us to THINK. And as humans we are THINKING ANIMALS (thats our skill, in the same way as the birds skill is flight). Yet most students will complain if they are doing a task which requires anything over rudimentary cognitive skill.... but i digress.

Therefore the way in which students of philosophy study wisdom is through critical perspective- the suspending of beliefs into a neutral zone of somewhat-objectivity (i donut say complete objectivity because of Kant's theories). And philosophy is useful for everyone; being a student of psychology has shown me that the difference between depression and happiness is a change in perceptive- and if we are able to change our perspective at will- this skill (this wisdom) can benefit many people who feel stuck in maladaptive perspectives and world views.

If you are wondering why i say critical thinking is knowing right from wrong, it is because knowing that one can be wrong about their own position is probably the most sane thing a person can assume. Because given enough time, all theories can prove to be either false or incomplete.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Interpretation of the album LIGHT by Irreversible



LISTEN/DOWNLOAD FOR FREE: http://irreversible.bandcamp.com//
Statement about the music from the artists:
Light produces the experience of an audible trip around the circle of fifths. All twelve major keys are demonstrated throughout one rotation of the 64-minute movement.
(We recommend the use of headphones and the repeat function.)
These lyrics are crystallizations of the sequential phases found within the process of personal/planetary evolution. Over a two year period, each piece was transmitted through both natural and “unnatural” mediums. We present this album as a gift to anyone capable of hearing it, in hopes of encouraging self awareness and the fulfillment of one’s utmost potential. Share with each other.
  My statement about the lyrics and my aim for this blog:
I am approaching this material as a student of psychology studying the writings of a mystic describing altered states of consciousness and a system of metaphysics. The lyrics will be conveyed in a mythological format with the hero as the central figure.
Boundary Dissolution
Awakened by Natures song from the nightmare of history. Descending from the trees, to ascend to the stars. This refers to the evolutionary lineage of our species changing from tree dwelling apes to a hybrid of human biology and technology leaving the planet for an intergalactic existence not bound by the earth.
Reject the fate of the unconscious and the fear they send out as a weapon against us. Ignite the flame of intelligence. The love that we have is the pain that we carry. This refers to the paradoxical notion that within our pain is the way to unconditional love because we must love the struggle of life with all our heart in order to feel bliss.
Song Summery: The lyrics in this song layout the modern day myth in which the hero wakes up to their species (homo sapiens) divine nature and fate (the singularity/the Omega point/the transcendental object at the end of space-time) which the greater consensus is ignorant and event hostile toward by trying to repress such knowledge. So the hero is told that they must light the flame of intelligence by accumulating self-knowledge, rejecting the status quo’s ignorance, and perceiving pain differently by embracing it. The title refers to the diluting of personal and external boundaries upon learning that ones inner mental space and external world are interconnected and share the same fate, thereby causing the sense of self to expand; thus the boundaries of the self fall into dissolution.
Time Compressing
Dunes appear as wind, shaped by the eternal image cast back through time. This refers to a kind of strange attractor in the future which shapes the past by pulling it towards itself and shaping historical events; this is also a Mckennaean idea.
Hidden inside the fractal matrix, meaning is made to synchronize. This refers to the nature of reality as fractal and that the Jungian notion of synchronicity is imbedded within the fractal pattern of reality.
Who aren’t they? Who am I not? Attention seeds awareness. This questions personal identity and then affirms that intent is prior to experience.
Is the silence speaking louder and faster? This refers to then tension of the present moment increasing with no noticeable cause.
In the tightening spiral. Can the truth emerge from (such) global greed? This questions whether the present political, economical, and social conflict of the planet will give way to the strange attractor at the end of space-time.
Talking apes transform as they approach the truth, moved by genes and information. This signifies how humans are different form other forms of life in the way they are attracted to the strange attractor and propelled to it by information and language.
There is no control, only suppressions of the flow. The mind now obsolete, drifting deeper, with self-control. This affirms that free will is an illusion and our fate is determined by that strange attractor in the future. Therefore the notion of the mind as an autonomous agent is outdated in the light of this (strange attractor) realization yet the mind still assumes self-control.
Song Summery: The lyrics in this song pick up where the last song left off. They focus more on the destiny of the species and existence which is now known to be caused by an object in the future (strange attractor) which creates the phenomenon of history. This attracting process is imbedded not only into the fabric of matter but also into human psychology in the form of meaningful coincidences or synchronicities. Such realizations cause one to question the nature of their personal identity and this leads to the conclusion that thought precedes individuality. In light of this understanding time begins to speed up in a process known to occultists as The Quickening. Doubts are raised whether the current world problems and crises will lead to this divine fate. Our peculiar use of language and information as distinct from the rest of life removes any previous doubts that our species and reality are not on this path toward the strange attractor. Finally any resistance in identifying oneself fully with these processes will only lead to an illusion of self-control. The title of the song refers to the sensation of time and the present moment gaining evermore significance/meaning, thereby causing a feeling of time compressing into the present moment- this is similar to the mystical feeling of the Eternal Now.

Quantum Exposition

Everything you cling to liquefies in your hands. Breaking free is something you must create. This refers to the hero’s struggle to lose his old identity as a separate from the world- signifying that in order to accomplish such a goal one must teach themselves how to perceive differently.
You’ve had dreams of losing all of your teeth. You were conditioned to only see red. This illustrates that one’s fear of death is caused by ignorant/limited cultural conditioning.
She tears down the hope I build up, taking my life and consuming my head. When my flesh freezes stiff, she shape shifts. Putting me back together inside of her, now I clearly see that all needs are met. “She” refers to the personification of the active process of time and nature (experience in general) which frustrates the hero by making his/her insights in reality meaningless. The frustration prior now gives way to an understanding that all searching is directed inward and nothing cannot be found outside of one’s Self.
How can she continue to destroy what she creates? This question is asked in ignorance of the paradoxical true nature of birth and death as the same event, therefore the hero thinks the contradiction is a mistake and questions it.
She devours her own tail to demonstrate circles and portals that welcome the prodigal son. This seems to answer the prior question stating that “she” does this to show the hero his/her true cyclical and paradoxical nature which the understanding of allows them to transcend the nightmare of history, which can be seen as the journey of the prodigal son, and return to the home of the imagination ( like in McKenna’s view) or the home of the universal mind/self of the eastern religions.
Lanterns glow over treacherous ground when failing sight causes me to stumble across a series of sinking stepping-stones. New found insights reveal hazardous paths which cause the hero to lose trust in where the body can take him/her.
His old ways fall into place as you behold his face. His tears seem to say, “The child is the father to the man.” The body as separate from other bodies- this idea starts to disintegrate for the hero as he/she realizes all people are connected, thus all children are really the fathers of all men (only one Self).
Everything that hurts purifies you thought pain. Earning scars was never a waste of time. This refers to the new understanding of pain where its function is to teach you and train you to receive higher forms of knowledge and awareness.
You mine for language in the mud, (but) soon enough you will find (that) everyone is yourself. This refers to the ill-fated attempt of the hero to find the perfect way of communicating with others, by searching the murky vague external world, when in fact he/she realizes all “others” are really their own Self.
Elders gaze east toward the rising sun, waiting for the arrive of the self-reflecting mode. Reality proves to be unreal. This refers to the understanding that all these realizations are not anything new and have come around before within the hero’s Self. In light of these insights reality becomes more akin to a dream then what was supposed to be reality.
I am you pretending to be me. My open arms reach out to you. I am you pretending to be me. Here the hero is embracing the realization of their connectedness with all others through sharing the same one Self.
Open your eyes. Let the sun come in. The hero reaffirms the insights gained.
Open your mouth. Spit the curse out. The hero denies the prior understanding of unattached personal identity.
Song Summery: The lyrics here show the hero going through first the frustration of being stuck in an old identity paradigm and then later realizing their true nature as being interconnected with all others, and that all opposites are really polar ends of the same thing-event. These insights reveal that all separateness is only an illusion and every self is the same Self. The title of the song refers to the understanding that paradoxes (like those expressed in some interpretations of quantum mechanics) are a fundamental part of reality.

Ego Collapsing

There are still fingers on my hands, and limbs on my body. This identity theft is invisible. This refers to the hero still noticing their body as separate, yet acknowledging that his/her realization learned previously is understood silently/mentally and not expressed in external reality.
The blackness to blame confiscated my set of telescopic changes. I am too afraid to wash my wounds in such cloudy water. This refers to those in power who push to keep the status quo which limits awareness of other ways to perceive reality. This refers to the hero still being too afraid to trust the “other” (external reality) as themselves.
I was never strong enough to break myself, but those seeking control throw nails on our road to blamelessness. I am stung with shame. Why have we always been mocked by fools? Why are we still being killed by cowards? The hero admits his/her failure to lose their old sense of separate personal identity and recognizes that those who seek to keep the status quo do not value blamelessness as a virtue and make it hard for one to cultivate humility. The hero now realizes the greatest obstacle on their path to a different sense of personal identity is his/her consideration of the mockery from ones ignorant to other forms of Being.
I thought these were MY thoughts. I thought it was MY self. It was never mine to begin with. The hero realizes they never had a Self which was separate to being with. What seemed to be separate ego was really non-existent to begin with.
Empty inside. I can only surrender to freedom. The hero’s true nature is emptiness and not any substantial Self. In light of this the hero can only accept the freedom which comes with nothingness.
Song Summery: The lyrics focus on the reinforcing of the previous insight from the last song about all persons sharing one Self. Here the hero is surprised to find their sense of personal identity still grossly unchanged. Yet the hero acknowledges their own fault by not trusting fully to the wisdom and allowing the status quo’s mockery to block the fruits of this understanding. Finally the hero comprehends that whatever they were identifying with as their Self was absent to begin with- the hero is empty inside after all. The title of the song refers to the outmoded identification with a separate ego collapsing into nothing which is the true essence of the hero.

Resonance

Emerging from unconscious depths, the mind’s eye awakens, dispelling the mirage. Stories of war and fear lose their control. The hero is overtaken by a deep situated intuition which drives out feelings of fear and hostility.
Loving those who hate, shelter for the cold. Greet the moon with grins, float in mirrored light, our salvation found reversed in lies. Paradox is understood to be the ultimate truth which sets one free.
We are nothing, a thread on the cosmic loom. Innocent victims do not exist. The hero understands all people to be insignificant when compared to their place as a part of the whole cosmos. The hero understands victims to be unaware of how their own karma has brought them their suffering for beneficial reasons once known and now forgotten.
We are everything, shaping reality with dream. The hero understand all persons to be co-creators of the universe.
Sent up through the Earth where the fire was washed away by the water, flowing north to where the mind is being blown away. The field of potential looks more real then real. Waves wait for us to pay particles attention. This signifies how the mind as co-creator of reality through quantum particle/wave vector collapse, of potential, emerges out from nature.
Hovering above a maze of mirrors searching for ourselves, only to find an other. Here the hero in a mystical state searches for the one true Self only to find others in search for the same thing.
We are alone. Hiding in humility. We are all one. Full of emptiness. Clear white light wipes tears from our eyes. We breath in new life. Pieces of the broken vessel, picked up, made whole. The hero understands that he/she is all that exists and the multiplicity of persons and things is only an illusion because the true nature of separate things (like atoms) is that they are made of emptiness. Truth as the all encompassing white light of non-duality quells anxiety and creates new identity in the hero, one which is true to the understanding that all identity of separateness is illusory.
Ignorance creates dissonance. Radiance requires resonance. Ignorance creates fragmented personal identity by lack of knowledge of the metaphysical unity. This unity in order to manifest requires radiating of the understanding that all is one.
Uncovering hidden gnosis in plain view sets the serpent free to slither towards the key. The appreciation of this truth reveals hidden wisdom in the everyday world which brings about accelerated spiritual development.
Empty space, overflowing vacuum inhabit the ether, boiling into steam. This signifies how the hero now is aware of the subtleties which make mundane setting become mystical.
Disembody at will during dualities dance. Fires only reveal immense darkness. This signifies epistemology as infinite showing that more knowledge or answers only brings about more questions. Touch the wound in your own hand. It flows. This affirms that the mystery of one’s own Self is inexhaustible.
Self-prescribed addictions erode in its wake. Wheat and Chaff will be made separate. The hero’s accumulated karma falls away as what really matters (self-transcendence) dissolves all unnecessary distressing.
Ancestors anticipated their descent. Sprit and matter will be fused. The process described here has been prophesized in the past and will result in mind and matters losing their respective boundaries and becoming one phenomenon.
Song Summery: The lyrics portray the growth and maturation of the hero’s intuition. He/she finally resolves the contradiction of identifying with the ALL yet having a finite body-existence. The hero realizes that he/she is the architect of this process thus all suffering experienced is necessary to complete the processes of self-transcendence. Therefore the hero becomes capable of riding with what is happening to him/her instead of being overwhelmed and confused by it. What needs to be done becomes clear as the hero’s dharma becomes explicit. However with this new found internal compass the mystery of what is going on becomes ever deeper. The title of the song refers to the hero finally resonating with his/her realizations rather then being puzzled by them.

Soul Expanding
Dime-sized pupils roll back. Float through the Bardo, but resist astonishment.
Bleed color, breath sound, complete soul retrieval.
Here the hero enters a kind of trance and is transported into a realm which can trap one in its awesomeness, but being absorbed in the experience hampers proper traveling through the space. Soul can be defined here as McKenna’s “felt presence of immediate experience”. Therefore the hero experiences his/her present moment begin to change with senses blending together.
Climb with the serpent that scales your spine. The hero is guided thought this new expanded multidimensional hyperspace with their internal body-wisdom personified as the “Kundalini” snake from Hindu mythology.
What appears to be a new discovery is really only the recovery of lost truth. At this point the hero realizes that they have been on this journey many times before and have just forgotten it over and over again.
Time in the tomb is over. The hero awakens from their slumber of ignorance as he/she realizes novelty is an illusion because nothing is lost and everything returns.
Sit atop the soul’s throne. These rites of initiation allows your soul to exteriorize. The hero’s feeling of being in the present moment has become so profound that his/her internal mental affirms seem to extend or exteriorize out into the world having direct access to it, much like as if the soul now supreme authority like a king upon his throne.
Song Summery: Here the lyrics point to the hero’s participation in the present moment shifting to a position where he/she identifies more and more with all that arises moment to moment. Thus as the name of the song implies, the hero feels their soul or feeling of being here-now is expanded.

Paradox Integration
All ways fall away. All veils are lifted. The illusion of identity, exposed by blinding light. Emanating from the tops of heads, marking the end of “us and them”. As the hero soul was expanded, mentioned in the previous song, their identity as separate from other dissolves.
Summoning manna from the sky, tossing a wrench in manufactured lack. Resolute courage, delivering purpose. The hero is nourished by his/her new identity and has no regrets of leaving behind the old personality. Also becoming determined in his/her continuation of self-discovery has brought strong meaningful significance in to his/her being.
Our brothers made of Geometry heed the Mythic Call.   The hero recognizes that what was considered to be the outer forms of the world are actually akin to him/her and are now responding to the transformation/discovery of his/her identity.
They’re sending out cartography of a holographic landscape. The hero realizes what was his external environment was really an illusion (what was seen in three dimensions really only has two).
Their mosaics made of spiral time, reset out compass to what is required now. What was once external helps the hero guide himself though this new insights and self-discoveries.
What appears to be absolute crumbles before us. Coincidence is swallowed by synchronicity. All certainty is lost for the hero. All events seem to become meaningful and related for the hero.
Matter prepares to accommodate what is not only happing to us, but through us. This signifies how what is happing is not limited to the hero, but is apart of a much larger process that involves him/herself and the external surroundings.
Song Summery: The lyrics in this song point to how the hero is coming to terms with his/her identity merging with the external environment becoming one and the same thing with all other things. The title of the song refers to the assimilating of the paradoxical knowledge that you and your surroundings are one and the same thing/event.
 
Noosphere Rising

Light ends the Jaguar’s hunt. The hero personifying him/herself as a Jaguar understands s/he is at the conclusion of their journey of unearthing the ground of being or identity.
Some swallowed lightning before being devoured. Some on this journey worked harder then they had to in order to reach the inevitable end.
The abyss, incapable of victory. The victor only capable of mercy. The journey is not about winning or losing, but humbling oneself in the face of it (the) all.
Man makes myth in his image. Humans shape the world according to their own fantasies and aspirations.
The presence of the past in our future sharpens the sword of the word. In a timeless state the hero’s sense of mental presence is heightened.
The cold inner core melts. Space-time turns inside out. The fabric of existence/experience dissolves into itself, all previous boundaries are lost.
Angelic-animal-alien-astronaut. All these seemingly different terms are all the same thing, yet shown at different points in time. An alien is an animal which can also be an astronaut as well as an divine angelic being.
Ordeal brings us together. The mystery of pain’s purpose does not lie in the pain itself, but how the pain brings people together in empathy, thereby dissolving feelings of separateness between “us and them”.
What is good-is true-is beautiful. Seamless connection to (the) source. The hero feels at complete harmony/joy with all that there is.
To pay attention is to set intention. The mystery of being is that consciousness manifests all that there is through awareness, thus all patterns have their root in consciousness and not outside of it.
There is shade under the tree of light. The hero, not bothered by the everlasting mysteries of life and satisfied with what s/he discovered along the way, has come to absolute peace and acceptance with his/her journey.
Song Summery: At the end of this tale the hero finally starts to harmonize all previously learned insights and it manifests as complete and utter serenity, peace, and acceptance for all that there is. The title of the song signifies that the mind has become fully manifested and has added another layer on to the earth called the noosphere, where which the self can inhabit free from the density and limits of matter.

Finally the perfect place for Ranting

I just want to take this time to take to thank the internet with its various forms of media for allow ranting moments to find their perfect outlet.

HOORAY!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

As Above So Below

From neurons to super clusters....

There is an intro couch scene of the Simpson's where the family sits down and the perspective pans out showing the earth, planets, and galaxies only to turn into electrons, atoms, molecules, and then finally the hair on Homer's head.


The top are neurons and the bottom are super clusters of galaxies

The ancient hermetic saying "As Above So Below"
Isn't existence weird?
What else would it be!?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Me, Myself, And I

What is Personal Identity?
“Man is the measure of all things.”
                                                                      -Protagoras
 As you read this sentence, you have a feeling that you have a self which witnesses what is being read. This self is the closest thing that one can identify with. This self may seem explicit and self-evident, but under careful inspection it proves to become more ambiguous then anyone would imagine. Normally one equates themselves with their bodies or memories through time. In the realm of metaphysics on the other hand, the issue of identity gets separated into two categories: qualitative and numerical. The former is qualitative identity; this kind refers to appearance similarities, like that of identical twins. The latter is numerical identity; this kind of relation can be thought of as the part of yourself which stays constant through time; this would be the connection between you now and you in the past or future.
The discipline of metaphysics is concerned with a strict philosophical sense of personal identity; in other words, this paper will be concerned with the numerical (monad-like) condition of identity through time. The aim of this paper is to defend the position that personal identity (PI) is a subjective cognitive phenomenon with no independent objective validity.
Before we move on to explaining the radical implications of PI as a subjective cognitive phenomenon, there needs to be a clarification of what it means to exist subjectively or objectively and how these realms relate. The notion of the Map-Territory relation can help explain how objective and subjective realms relate; they show how subjective experience (map) is not related directly to the things in of them selves (territory). We can think of the map as our subjective experience and the territory as objective existence independent of consciousness. It is plain to see how the map and the territory are not equal- the map is a limited representation of the territory, constructed for the practical means of traveling. This happens as well with our subjective existence; our brain filters unimaginable amounts of sensory data so that only what is relevant to our spatial-temporal goals gets registered. Therefore, the map is not the territory because the map is limited by its pragmatism toward survival based goals.
When thinking of reality in terms of the map-territory relation, the notion of skepticism presents itself. Can we ever truly know what is out there? A solution to this dilemma is to rethink what it means to exist. What does it mean for something to exist? It is clear that in order for something to exist it must be perceived. For instance, the pen in front of me is defined by its shape, color, weight, texture, ect. These attributes constitutes the identity of that object (pen). However, what gives it these features is my pigeonhole like perception which is arbitrarily narrowing the stimulus down to what I perceive as the pen. Yet my perception does not recognize other features like electrical fields, radiation, radio waves; all this is all a part of the “pen”. Hence, it is not possible to say that the pen exists (as we identify it) outside of our perceptions. So one can stipulate that the amount of information one can derive from a particular object is infinite. An example would be either macro or micro observations of matter; no matter how big or small you get, there is always more to see. There are no end points or fundamental parts to anything. So the objective side of existence has no definite set, because the perception process itself is what defines the objects feature or identity; and different perceptions can yield different reactions. To illustrate, imagine two people, an experienced mechanic and a novice trainee. Both are gazing at a car engine, yet their perceptions differ. The trainee can only see an ambiguous mass of metal that has no definite boundaries between parts. However the experienced mechanic can make out a much more defined picture. Yet the mechanics view is not the ultimate view, and it is possible that there can be an infinite amount of succeeding persons with ever increasing knowledge of the engine. In other words, there is no final/complete or basic/fundamental way to experience phenomenon. Thus, we can picture reality as equaling experience. Experience is existence; there is no existence outside of experience (maps of maps). Then what can we say is out there? Metaphysics is concerned with the territory, but the territory has no definite/default nature or structure. And existence entails some sort of form or feature, but these are properties of experience!
In order to better understand how things in of themselves have no definite nature, we must break up existence into three categories: True, False, and Latent Potential. Essentially, things can exist, not-exist, or have the potential to exist. As experience is existence, what lies outside of experience is the potential for experience. This explains how when one leaves a room and comes back later everything is where it was when they left. This is because the perceiver anticipates the arrival of the room in its state (although the state itself may have changed due to things like other perceivers interactions). The potential for the room exists when one leaves it, but not the room as it is to perception. Thus everything exists as a relative binary between perceiver and perceived; and everything else outside of experience is the potential for experience. The dictum by George Berkeley sums this up perfectly: esse est percipi/to be is to be perceived.
Returning to the notion of PI in a reality where existence is experience, it becomes plain how PI is a subjective phenomenon with no objective validity because there is no objective existence as is. PI is product of language because to define I is to define PI. So language is conceptually prior to PI because one needs an I before they can say they assume an identity. Therefore there is no constant PI outside of conditioned responses to particular stimuli, and these particulars are ambiguous and unstable so they do not reflect the strict numerical identity metaphysics is concerned with. Consequently, there is no such thing as a constant numerical identity outside of the quasi-identity generated by accustomed cognitive processes.
This view of PI explained above is from a first person perceptive. Many of the fallacies and criticisms of other views on this topic come from the third person perspective. Before it was argued that in the absence of consciousness existence is in a state of latent potential. Therefore there is no such thing as a third person or objective perspective. Rather what we call the third person view is a perspective from the social consensus; this would be how the culture as a whole defines realties, but this exits in the minds of persons, not objectively. All in all, PI is akin to a psychologically continuous relation.
Moving on to some of the other positions for PI and how this model Conditioned Cognitive Phenomenon Theory (CCPT) improves on them. First is the body argument; it plainly affirms that identity is equated with either physical appearance or molecular composition; however the problem here is the constant ebb and flow of matter, nothing is static. CCPT avoids this problem by insisting a subjective perspective. The Second states that identity is equated with survival. The problem with this is any one thing that survives is made of smaller things that survive(like cells and molecules) and may also be a part of a greater organism(like an ant colony). So identity as survival is not constant in this argument because it is arbitrarily given by a perceiver. The next position is that the souls constitutes identity. But the problem here is what is a soul and how can we tell the difference between souls. CCPT avoids this indistinctness by relating the processes to cognitive phenomenon. To continue, memory is considered to be constitutive identity. Yet the problems arise with situations like sleep, gaps in memory, comas, and hypnotism. The fact is that memory is not a perfect representation, it is plagued by bias. Nietzsche explains, “I have done that says my memory. I cannot have done that says my pride, and remains adamant. At last-memory yields.” He illustrates how our memory works like a self-justifying historian. As a result memory cannot fit the numerical condition of PI. Lastly there is the argument that PI is equated with the brain. Problems with this view arise from thought experiments about fission/fusion and transplant cases. If you split a brain and put it into two host bodies, what happens to the one person before the transplant? CCPT avoids this error by equating identity not with the brain per se, but with the high order organization which is a result of the sum of all the brain parts creating something greater then themselves combined. The term: the whole is greater then the sum of it parts can clarify this. Thus this raises the issue of the binding problem. There is no part of the brain that takes all your different sense organs and unifies them into your experience. As a result this unifying can be consciousness itself. So the centering of experience must take place outside the brain. And if we think back to how the universe only exists through perception, then we can conclude that this indivisible part of the universe-consciousness- is a fundamental part of it and is not bound only to brains.
In conclusion, PI does not exist in any numerical or static way. Instead what appears as constant PI’s is really an illusion brought on by conditioned cognitive phenomenon. Thus there is no territory; rather there are only maps of maps, and the potential for even more maps. Therefore there is no PI outside of vague and ambiguous cognitive phenomenon. The whole universe is a state of flux, the notion of a constant is strange; Buddhists refer to impermanence as Samara while the philosopher Heraclitus mentions it in the quote, “You cannot step twice into the same stream”.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Close to Home

I approach, you welcome.
I ask, you answer.
I do you favors, you get easier to grasp.
I gather stuff, you fashion it on yourself.
I support, you excite.
I get pleasure, you get security.
You get pleasure from my security
I get security from your pleasure.

What fills you inside- is it the same as what I give out?
Are both our desires feeding each other?

For our love should be like a fountainhead emanating from the same source.

Rather we find ourselves outside of each other's gaze.
Our joy is artificial, coming from illusions of togetherness.

Now we know this, so what?
Imperfection is our pride- it gets us through the day without dreaming too much...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Neuromarketing


The ad I will be analyzing is a Coke-a-Cola TV commercial where two opposing boarder guards are reminded of their common humanity by secretly sharing a coke. Three major affective (neuro)marketing techniques were used here. Before I list them, please note what notion I believe the ad as a whole is associating the brand with: the common humanity we share with others which gets forgotten in sociopolitical divisions. The first Affective technique I noticed was the sense of touch/sound- swift quick movements/music that showed the hostility between the guards- later broken by a yearning gaze and an expression of affliction when one opens a coke.
The second neuromarketing technique is the moment/experience when one guard opens up a coke. The Coke-less guard looks towards him with sad/craving eyes. The other guard feels sympathy and sets up a plan to indirectly give him a coke. This tries to capture a moment of compassion and humanism.
The third affective technique I singled out is the motif of taboo relations. Here the two guards are on opposing sides of two sociopolitical systems, yet they get to share a moment together, no matter how subtle.
Therefore, just as Rushkoff explained (Atmospherics PDFpg.5), Coke here is not trying to sell a product, but rather a lifestyle theme by focusing on customer attributes. In this ad, the main theme/attribute sold is the shared humanity we have with our adversaries. The technique tries to “break out of the clutter” by addressing humanistic themes in a time a global unrest.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

You are not a Brain

Out of The Skull and Into Consciousness
Consciousness is the definition of paradox by virtue of both its ineffability and it’s seemingly direct accesses to the self. However some philosophers/scientists are sure that consciousness can be reduced to nothing more than the firing of neurons. While others argue that it’s a collection of functional mental states independent of the mechanism that realizes it. I on the other hand will argue in this paper that consciousness only arises out of the interaction of brain-body-world and cannot be reduced solely to neuron firing or functional mental states.
I will begin by clarifying the first two theories along with showing their limitations. Then I will move on to the brain-body-environment explanation and how this theory improves on the two others.
The argument which reduces mental states (consciousness) to neuronal firings is called type identity theory. The main notion is that mental events are nothing over and above brain events; so essentially the mental is the brain and vice versa; there are no physical/brain facts outside of mental facts. This notion has the closest connection to the physical sciences, yet it is not without its shortcomings and pitfalls. There are four major problems with this theory; they are: Category Error, Lack of one-to-one match ups/The Binding Problem, Blind Positivism, and Multiple Realization.
Category error’s meaning is explicit; the error here is trying to get a third-person phenomena to explain a first-person experience. Most would agree that there is a huge difference between test anxiety and the fluctuating sodium-potassium currents within neurons. Therefore this problem affirms that mental states are in a different category then physical events; thus the first person perceptive or consciousness cannot be reduced to third person or neuronal firing. My experience of red is not the same as chemicals crossing a gap in-between neurons.
Identity theory has not given us a neat one-to-one match up between brain activity and consciousness. At best it has pointed toward the neo-cortex as the “seat of consciousness” yet that has shown to be very hard to prove. This elusive search for the neural correlates of consciousness has brought up an issue named The Binding Problem: this explains the lack of a brain region reasonable for condensing all of your sensory data and memories into a complete and unified experience (the preset moment). To illustrate, the region of your brain which calculates color is not anywhere near the area responsible for determining shape. So what neuroscientists are puzzled over is the lack of a spot which takes the various independent mechanisms of mind/senses and concentrates them into the one unified experience we have.
Blind positivism refers to the blind faith that science will understand and explain all things. Here specifically the faith is that science will eventually explain consciousness. The setback wrought is the belief that empiricism can explain non-empirical phenomenon. Consequently this requires a leap of devotion to believe that science can investigate what it can’t measure. Although the future does holds surprises, it’s still too early to grant or wish science more power than what it presently has.
Finally Multiple Realization upholds that any given mental state such as pain or hunger is realizable in a wide array of physical or biological structures like other animals or aliens. So pain is not dependent on physical mechanism if the same mental state can be realized by different mind-organizations or brains. In other words, mind states are not dependent on brains.
Moving on to functionalism- a step in the right direction because of its recognition of relational systems. This theory insists that consciousness (mind) is not just the brain per se, but rather a network of functional mental states. To illustrate, a car can take on various shapes and sizes. Yet no matter what form the car takes, its function remains the same. The same idea is applied to consciousness, it can be realized through different kinds of brains and bodies, but ultimately it results in the same kind/type of mental state or consciousness. Thus functionalism defines consciousness not merely as a collection of neurons but instead as a system of interrelations between mind states.
There arise two key problems with the functionalist view: neural autonomy, and sentient computers.
Neural autonomy refers to the issue of whether human brains are the only systems capable of mental states or consciousness. (Most people’s intuitions would have them believe that our 3 pound hunk of meat is the only thing capable of “high” intelligence.) So as functionalism focuses on the system and not so much the brain itself, it leaves room for non-brain based systems of organization to acquire consciousness; some regard this as a problem for the theory while others maintain that problem is chauvinistic.
As for sentient computers, the thought experiment- The Chinese Room- demonstrates the augment between those who hold that computers can give rise to mental states like ours and those who believe it’s an ill-fated pipe dream. Briefly, the thought experiment explains a machine which is fed questions on note cards in Chinese and produces out answers on another note card. The people outside are ignorant as to what happens on the inside; within there is a system consisting of a book of algorithms and a man to compute them. So as one inserts a question from the outside, it appears interiorly and the man looks toward the algorithmic book to see how he would manipulate the symbols to produce the correct answer. Therefore the man has no knowledge of Chinese (semantics), but only how to read and interpret the symbols according to the algorithms in the book (syntax). This thought experiment is designed to show how no computer no matter how sophisticated can come to realize a mental state like ours defined be intentionality and meaning. However some argue that the same can be said about individual neurons- they are all simple/dumb and incapable of knowing our conscious experiences like the man in the room, yet they are thought to produce consciousness on their own. In order to discuss this radical explanation for consciousness- the interaction mind-body-world model- we must return to one major assumption postulated by type identity theory: changes in brain states cause changes in mind states- because they are non-synonymous expressions that refer to the same phenomenon, therefore brains are minds. This is irrefutable yet fails to tell the whole story of consciousness. Although it is true that brain changes cause mind changes, it is also equally true that changes in environment and/or body also can cause changes to the mental. For example, a lobotomy can change behavior as much as a dramatic life event such as major loss of family, damage to the body or slaughtering of one’s community can; even traveling to extremely unfamiliar cultures can cause delirium like some surgery can. For that reason, saying the brain is only responsible for consciousness is like saying the stomach is only responsible for digestion or that the heart is only responsible for bodily blood flow. All in all, brains are necessary but not sufficient for consciousness.
Common sense would have us believe that we are located some where behind the eyes and in-between the ears- probably because four of our five sense organs are on the head. Nevertheless common sense also tells us the world is flat and that the sun orbits the earth. Yet intuition is hard to shake off. While I feel like an island to my self- that being subjectivity- I am anything but. My life is composed not of isolated affairs but interconnected dealings. We do not exist in vacuums all to ourselves; our identities are known by virtue of our relations with the world. We come to know ourselves by our associations with the world. We cannot know ourselves without knowing others; our mental states are defined by the access we have to the world.
In the same way neuroscientists are searching for the neuro correlates of consciousness, there are also external correlates of consciousness- the latter are our habits. As one can tell, the content of consciousness owes more to external interactions then with isolated self-representations of those interactions. Seeing the world through the prism of our personality or self-schema does not refute the fact that we have direct access to the world and are apart of it.
The brain is apart of a loop or network where it plays an important but not adequate roll. Scientists claim that consciousness is not generated by any single neuron but it is realized as the system of interconnected neurons. Why stop there? We can take the next step and see how the brain is apart of a larger network- the body and environment- which when interconnected gives rise to consciousness. Taking that step can be tough because old assumptions/intuitions die hard. Therefore consciousness does not happen inside the brain, but rather it is attained, achieved or accomplished when the brain, body, and world all intersect. Thus machinery of the mind is not confined to what is within the skull because the complex system of consciousness is apart of an continuous chain of interaction of brain-body-world.
In biology when one studies an animal, they are also describing to some extent its surroundings. So one cannot explain either animal or environment in isolation, they are always in relation. All life or mind is always a situation between organism and world. The environment is not separate from us, we come from it- we are it. To quote the philosopher Alan Watts: “The earth peoples in the same way an apple tree apples… therefore we come from the earth like an apple from a tree.”
This model improves on type identity theory by pointing out its prime assumption as limited. Furthermore, this interaction theory improves on functionalism by focusing the topic back to physics and away from abstracted non-empirical “mental states”.
Consequently, as radical this idea is, it fits perfectly with materialism/physicalism- consciousness is a result of the interactions of physics- there is no room for dualism or the “ghost in the machine“. It may be tough to understand our minds as being more than just our brains, but when we carefully analyze the content of our consciousness, we see that our access to the world is like an uninterrupted loop/network where our brains are just one node/interface of interactions amongst others. Consciousness is generated not only by the brain, but the amalgamation/collaboration of brain-body-world. Although the environment is not an extension of the feeling part of our nervous system like the skin is, it is still apart of us that if it where to be changed, our mental states would be altered as well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Economics, Democracy, Freedom, and the Middle East (HONESTY)



When I first found out a few months ago that Egypt was in the middle of a democratic uprising resembling a revolution, I was intrigued and shocked. Intrigued because there were people actually interested in their countries political structure, a far cry from the worries of people here in America. I was shocked because of in all places, the cry for equality came from one of the most politically oppressed regions of the planet.
Coming to terms with how this revolt has spread to other neighboring countries such as Morocco and Libya, I feel these events will be the catalyst for a large scale political change of the world. Countries that were previously cut off from other nations now have access to the web. These technological advancements must of showed them that their current situation as subjects to a all powerful ruler was not as common or correct as they might have believed when all the information around was propagandized.
So hooray! Freedom is ringing its bell. And we (the USA) should be jumping head over heals with excitement to help, right?
After Libya started to fight against the revolutionaries, I waited to hear when American and other allied forces would come to help. Its been a few weeks and we have done nothing but talk about imposing a no-fly zone and assemble troupes in nearby countries.
Now should we intervene? I thought: Hell yes! There is freedom struggling to root itself, why shouldn’t America and others help? Sure war is not the best option, yet every 20th and 21st century war America has been in, has been waged in order to intervene in some humanitarian crisis. WWI, WW2, Vietnam, Korea, Gulf, etc all were waged to help people. So it would seem natural for the US to involve itself in Libya as people are dying in the name of freedom and democracy.
But as much as I would like to see the people of Libya and other oppressing countries get helped by us, I have a feeling that it will not happen…
For all my humanitarian dreams, I can not shake off the fact that the prime motivator of this countries actions has been economic benefit- not helping people.
We have been in the middle east for almost ten years. Looking for people that seem to be hard to find (even though we capture higher profile people in holes i.e. Saddam). According to PBS, these are the percentages of all of the worlds oil reveres for each given area, N. America: 5% S. America: 9% W. Europe: 2% Former USSR: 5% Asia and Oceania: 4% Africa: 7% and finally the Middle East: 66%!! Some of the regions I mentioned (Africa, Asia and to some extent S. America) all have governments with regimes that are oppressing its people in non-humanitarian ways. Yet we only find ourselves in the middle east. What’s going on here?
As time goes by it becomes more and more clear to me that our nation, and even at times its people, say one thing but mean another. When we went into Iraq it was because Saddam had terrible weapons of mass destruction (like the USA has) and because he was a terrible person to his people. What a load of CRAP! Then in our faces is a country (Libya) where people are struggling to uphold the same democratic values we uphold as we invade countries and start wars; and all we can do is watch and talk about it?? There should be no reason that we are not to help these “rebels” if we are a country that protects democracy and freedom. But the countries actions in the last few weeks has lead me to conclude we are not a country of high democratic values, as we sell our compassionate and civilized souls for profit. And I don’t specifically blame the USA for this; the world has always been like this, people in power have always been greedy. So America is no different; I just hope one day we can become civilized like we think we are, and stop holding up a veil of virtue in front of the action of selfish gain.
If we are to be greedy, then lets admit that. If we are to be humanitarian, then lets admit that. But the worst thing we can do is pretend to be one while acting like the other. Honesty is the highest virtue, even before humanitarian aid.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What does religion do?

I see all religions as trying to do the same thing with people.

Its basically like a form of psychotherapy, or even a cognitive program if you like.

Its designed to cultivate a kind of consciousness/perception which is free from anxiety and has faith that for what ever happens things will be fine.

So in this case I think Zen Buddhism is probably the purest(least BS) religion out there.
However because of that, it does not appeal to most people.

Rather Christianity with its myth-indoctrination into believing that Jesus is your "rock" and he will protect you (if you do x), gives people a much easier means of reaching that state then just sitting and counting your breath. However the problem there is the strict and at times unnecessary morality.

Just to clarify, I am referring to the more esoteric side of religion, not so much the politically corrupt exoteric side. (Yet this still applies to both in some degree)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Binding Problem

Your brain does many different things.
When you see something for example, different parts of your brain process various aspects of what you are seeing (i.e. shape, color, edges).
But what scientists cant find, is the part of your brain that brings all those different parts together to create your one unified experience.
So in other words, the coming together of all your different senses has no physical place in the brain.

Chew on that for a while...

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Numbing Affect of External Social Information


There is no empirical apathy that matches the sound of remoteness
It is an escape into the world of distorted relativity.
The Self is inflated over the Other.
It is expanded through the false justifications of obscure virtue.
But how is it that this practice keeps its vitality.
On and on, blind misguided profits preach the structure of this self-destructing game.
All unaware of the social vessel which carries them on the stream of ignorance.
Liberation is gained through self-knowledge and self-humility.
The only obstacles are fear and the shadow-self.
Question your joy, bliss awaits.

Sleepy Thoughts


Life is training school for Gods.
We all will never die, because we all were never born.
The warm cozy shower, the crack of the wood chopping, the brightness of the sun, the smoothness of a milkshake, low tide.
Whilst tasting squares and hearing colors.
Hunter S. Thompson buys his guns at roll back prices only at Wal-Mart.
Cold showers are more comfortable
Which brings us to why the moon glows.
I’ll twist up an entire onion.
Giving me the power to clasp my hands, and part the river open.
“And Mikes leaving. I cant believe it. On may 5th.”
The profound rock of time.
Dirt spits out a green twig with a massive colored growth on top.
I must find a way to dilute my thoughts into the matter around me.
He is a cosmic creature of complete randomness.
Those four horsemen will be seen as misunderstood by the time they appear.
Retarded sky.
The point of the matter is that when we get to it, we stop doing it.
Sein Und Zeit
The food eats us.
So when we wake up, we find it easy to forget.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sunday


As the sunlight creeps through the shutters,
Another morning greets me as an afternoon.
Foggy dream stories start to fade and flutter.
As the sunlight creeps through the shutters.
My mind awakens, my mouth mutters:
“Damn, I’ve slept past noon!”
As the sunlight creeps through the shutters,
Another morning greets me as an afternoon.

A Day to Dress Up and Wake Up

 
May Day gentlemen! MAY DAY!!!!
I awoke on the first day of May 2007 and saw that lovely suit that was too big for me. It was suspended on the hanger that was attached to the wall, reminding me of the plan I had for this special school day. Have I shrunk since two years ago? Whatever the case I now must get myself ready and into that suit. What have I gotten myself into?
It is almost first period. Eyes glued to me from all corners, as I entered the school. Anxiety swept over me but it was expected. I finally get to cafeteria B, where I am greeted by some, ignored by the rest. I am the only “C” student in this Law Day program; a day that will help me in my future career by experiencing what the working world is like. Law Day: when seniors sign up to take the place of (or shadow) an elected or appointed official, either in Town Hall or in the offices of the Board of Education. (i.e.: School Superintendent or the Mayor.) Honor students usually participate in this program. I being an underachieving borderline pass/fail student, went along looking for a day out of school. I did not expect to receive a revaluation of my then current social and political belief structure.
Around 8am I was handed a card that said Assistant Superintendent of schools; it had no name. Two people hold this position; they are Nicholas Sacco and the head coach of the varsity football team. I was the only one to receive this assignment so I did not know which of the two individuals I would shadow. In my mind I hatched a plan to try to shadow Nicholas Sacco, because he is also the mayor of North Bergen. Here is some employment information on Nicholas Sacco who has three jobs that are the following: Mayor of North Bergen (my town where I went to high school) - $15,000; State Senator of New Jersey- $35,000; Assistant Superintendent- $120,000. He has held these positions for over a decade; and as for the office of mayor, his election races never yield opponents. All these salaries and their eventual pension payments come out of the pockets of taxpayers.
Upon receiving my assignment, I proceeded to enter the office of the Board of Education which is next door to the high school. Upon entering the building I was asked which office I had been assigned to. When I stated that I was assigned to the Assistant Superintendent I heard one of the workers state, "Oh you’re going to be with Nick!" With that said, I had the possibility to carry out my wish to see Mr. Sacco. Within a half second of responding to her statement, I quickly evaluated the risk factor of creating mischief. The card, which assigned the position, had no name, just the title of office. This is obviously the result of most officials having only one position.
I followed the young secretary to Sacco’s well furnished office. Upon entering, I was struck by a top of the line computer with a 20 inch screen, fancy desktop paperweights, and expensive looking artwork covering the walls, all barley touched and used. After I surveyed his office for a brief time, I sat alongside his secretary’s desk.
“Oh he is not in yet, he will be shortly.” said the secretary, “Therefore in the meantime, I'll introduce you to everyone in the office.” One by one, I’m introduced to the workers and officials and shown around the small one story office building. At some point during my tour, I entered the school record room. This is where all permanent records are produced and stored. I could not resist but ask this question to the staff, “What is the dropout rate of freshmen through seniors in North Bergen High School?” The answer was not surprising to me, considering I have witnessed many of my peers “sign-out”. The percentile was around 75%; my graduating senior class was made of about 360 people. When I first came in as a freshman, my class size was about 1,400 people.
I was called in to the Assistant Superintendents office. I stepped in expecting to meet with Mr. Sacco, but I was told to wait because he was on his way to meet me. This was the end of my tour; I was lead back to the chair near the secretary‘s desk. To quell my anxieties of meeting him, I drifted into a nap. I awoke to my name being called. But it was not what I hoped, it was not Sacco. I was told the Superintendent Mr. Fishback wanted to see me in his office.
Once I got there I met with the Superintendent and his shadow. We were told to help him set up the next school year’s calendar. This was mindless work which involved some basic math. Afterward, we witnessed how lockers are distributed among the students. I asked Mr. Fishback why the system couldn’t be based on the proximity of the students’ classes, instead of their homerooms. But he responded with a harsh tone saying “All students should carry all their books on them at all times.” I found this to be very unsympathetic and inquired further into the issue. What started as a helpful comment, turned into the sub-threshold of an argument. We were discussing the importance of the conformity of youth to the aesthetic values of their guardians and school educators/administrators. I remember he asked me “Would you cut your hair if your parents wish you to do so?” I answered “Of course not, they must respect my style of dress.” This was the apex of our debate. He stated that I must conform to the wishes of my parents because they rasied me and gave me life. I told him they must respect that they deiced to create a human being who is his own person. I could spend a few pages talking about the chat we had, but it will digress too far from the main point.
Toward the end of our dialogue he quoted his mother, “Education is a dangerous thing because there is always going to be someone more educated then you, and with that education might come dark desires” This statement puzzled me as it did not fit exactly into the discussion. Before I could respond he called lunch time for himself. So at that moment I witnessed him exercise his power by ending our chat. I felt it was such a copout. I started to feel some hunger creep in and I asked when it was lunch time for the students. To my great astonishment, the lunch hour was at 11:30, and it was 12:40 at the time. “Those bastards forgot to wake me!” I thought to myself, “Ah! Fuck this shit, I am going to walk around the school and enjoy the rest of my day off.”
I proceeded to walk around the school in my classy oversized suit. At this point, I had given up all hope of meeting Mr. Sacco. In wandering about the hallways I felt such a sense of discovery. I never had this perspective of the school before. Usually in walking the corridors, I would be limited to a schedule of classes. I finally got to experience the sensation of leisure as I walked around in an otherwise work filled arena. I was actually able to stop and smell the chalk dust. Amazingly, no one yet cared to ask what I was doing idly walking around. A little while later, I encountered the only person to ask me what I was doing, a music teacher named Mr. Halves.
“Who are you representing?”
“Uhm, Nick Sacco.”
“Oh so you’re the MAYOR!”
“No, I am the Assistant Superintendent”
“So why are you just walking around doing nothing”
“because this is exactly what his job is... nothing.’ ‘He is never at his desk, even when everyone else is.’ ‘So I am the shadow of his work, just wandering about.”
“Interesting.” He said this with a smirk on his face. Shortly after, I walked my suited self home to reflect on what the hell just happened there.
Since then I have been contemplating the dishonesty of public officials. The level of corruption prevalent today does not occur mostly within large cities. It manifests inside of small towns where everyone knows each other, and also knows when to look the other way. My town of North Bergen is home to this kind of small community corruption. The fact that as a tax payer I pay the salary of Sacco’s three jobs is an outrage. His office in which I patiently sat, is so well kept, clearly shows that he does not spend any significant time there. He gets a free check every week courtesy of my hard labor. If he was really able to perform all three jobs, he would have been able to spend some time with me. The fact that he couldn’t, shows how he cannot perform three full time positions at once. That day opened up my eyes to the complete understanding of the cynic’s favorite phrase, “That’s just the way things are.” Hitherto, I have started to become more existential and analytic about my political and social beliefs. What this has led me to is a completely critical attitude toward the current governmental and social structures of our time. This Gandhi quote really elucidates the mythos of my life, gained from this unique experience: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
All in all, I got out of class that day and got an eye opening view into the working world. As of now, I understand the power of information and how some people use it to their advantage. They do not use it to expand their personal potential or to help others, but instead keep most people in the darkness of ignorance by holding up a veil of virtue. The quote that Mr.Fishback mentioned sums up exactly this kind of mindset. The fact that “education is seen as a road to dark desires” rather than humanistic idealism demonstrates how some of these officials view themselves in contrast to those they represent.