Saturday, January 26, 2013

Why does it feel so good?

There are many pleasures in life, some more intense then others. Some feel that these pleasures may be unnatural due to their force or effect. Usually these unnatural pleasures are illegal drugs, although all drugs come either directly or indirectly from nature. What those who use this term “unnatural” miss however is the social constructive factors in their judgment. That is, the only reason they call it unnatural is because their culture or society does not recognize that kind of activity. Case and point: although drug use facilities extreme pleasure, it’s not an unnatural form of it.

In order to clear the socio-cultural bias, lets take a quick look at the neurochemistry of pleasure. When we feel sensations of satisfaction, it is correlated with a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Therefore when you receive good feelings, this chemical is increased in your brain. The so called normal pleasures such as sex and eating only see a release of lets say for example 25-100 level of dopamine (I‘m making these numbers up for illustration). While illegal drugs such as cocaine release about 300-600 level of dopamine.

At first glance it may seem like a very high number worthy of the label unnatural, but this is all relative to and dependent on society. To illustrate: the Amish culture because of their ascetic like behavior may not see a dopamine level higher then 30 or 40. While our entertainment saturated culture sees much higher dopamine levels. Therefore the society or culture is what determines the range of dopamine levels. It just happens that certain societies which have utilized certain technologies to increase pleasure then would naturally, have their range of pleasure reach higher.

A very interesting and relevant fact is that when a psychoactive or illegal drug enters one’s body, the brain quickly knows exactly what to do with the chemical. It seems as if the brain was evolved to metabolize these substances because of their selective binding to brain receptors. It’s as if the brain was full of key holes and psychoactive drugs were the matching keys (this is not true of all drugs, just the most used and known). If one would to inject a substance that is truly unnatural into the brain, it wouldn’t be able to use and metabolize it so quickly. It would rather bounce around in the brain, perhaps disrupting or damaging parts of it. But instead many of these drugs (in the proper dose) when entering the brain are dealt with quickly and in a uniform machine like manner. The brain knows (or acts like) how to use these drugs. This is the definition of a natural/biological action.

As a result of dopamine being the biological substrate of pleasure, it serves to clear any socio-cultural bias in investigating what are “natural” and “unnatural” pleasures. Drugs although they seem unnatural in their pleasure giving actions, are natural because of both the arbitrary definitions of pleasure by culture/society, and the brains ability to quickly and efficiently metabolize many psychoactive drugs, as if the brain was adapted to do so.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dreamless Sleep as the Getaway Car

Break up time into flames
Watch it burn away
I cant stand the smell
Its worse then remembering
Sick plastic chemical
Shooting up my nose into my brain…

Erasing the yet to be
Forgetting the once was
Diluting attention from single points  
Oceanic anti-perspectives
From start to finish, it was all water in water

Fading with the breeze
Focusing on the existing now
Ever fleeting yet embracing
Tying all the corners together,
Causes weight to dampen
As the soul rises toward sleep    

Drug Holiday

In thinking about a possible society where recreational (or responsible adult use) of psychoactive drugs has been legitimated and integrated successfully, I thought about a possible phenomenon that could arise in such a situation.

In the same way a person or group will go on vacation a few times a year (saving up money, planning head, and entering a different mode of reality outside of the ordinary) one could go on a drug holiday or vacation.

This would mean that someone would schedule a period of time to indulge in whatever their substance(s) of choice is/are. The resulting high or “intoxication” could be seen as time away from the usual self, much like a traditional vacation or holiday is time away from home.        

So there you have it, a potential glimpse of what a society with a humane drug policy would be like.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Talk Between Two

A conversation between two imaginary philosophers.

Why do anything?

What are you talking about?

I said: why do anything at all? Like why do u do what u do?

Well I don’t know. It depends on the situation.

So give me an example?

I go to work so I can make money in order to live so I don’t die.

Why don’t you want to die?

There are experiences I want to have, plus I don’t know what’s to come after death.

But if you die, what difference would it make if you had them or not?

Your being really nihilistic. I’m alive so I want to keep on living because it feels good to be apart of the world.

No, you cant face up to the fact that you‘re a machine. You exist only to carry out routines and habits. What makes a human any different from a machine?

We have feelings and experiences which machines just don’t have.

You don’t know that for sure. It may be possible that consciousness is realizable in more then just brains. Perhaps in non-carbon forms like silicon or plasma.  To think otherwise would make you some kind of brain-meat chauvinist. Humans are just machines with a distorted sense of self identity. A GENE MACHINE!

What’s with the anger? Are you mad at your situation? I don’t mind being a machine, what ever that means. Seems like you do though.

You don’t seem to understand. Let me make this perfectly clear for you. Your sense of free will is an illusion. Your sense of self exists in order to veto certain behaviors while solving never ending problems. That’s why humans like drama, it simulates the problems their brains are supposed to solve.

We all like a good story, but its nothing worth working yourself up about. I feel like I’m in control, that’s all that matters. So will you carry on with your day, or will you keep on pestering me with your nihilistic delusions?

I’m just trying to send some truth your way.

For what? To make me miserable? You with your materialistic worldview of truth needs some modification. I suggest you read about the philosophy of pragmatism and what it has to say about truth. It proposes truth to be what works for the individual. What works for me is what feels good. If I need to look past some material factoid that changes with each new scientific instrument, then so be it. Feeling good works for me, so that becomes my truth.

But scientific realism is the sensible truth. It’s based on evidence!

What qualifies as evidence is dependent upon what bubble your in. You happen to be inside of a rational/empirical bubble. We all have our bubbles. Mine is a pragmatic one. In your bubble evidence means repeatable experience behind a theory. For me, evidence is what works practically for a person. For a religious person, evidence may be their doctrine. So you see, your factoids don’t bother my sense of well being.

Your in denial! These are the facts which make up the universe!

That’s if you define the universe as what you can measure outside of yourself.  

We are at an impasse.

No, we are in our separate bubbles.

Any way out of the bubble?

That would be to die. To live, is to include. To include,  is to exclude. To have a self is to have an other. No way out the bubble as long as you are a you. To go back to what you first said, I don’t think your idea of truth is working well for you.

That would all depend on my definition of what works, something you have no idea about.

What a way to use what I said against me. Touché!

Yeah, whatever gene machine.  

The Case of Belief

In the intellectual world of arguing and sharing points of view, people may become concerned about belief. They may ask or presume that if one argues a point, one necessarily believes it. I, taking cue from Terrence McKenna (at times, when being consistent), say that I like to argue the case of whether or not X is true, good, just, etc. But, to argue the case for or against, does not imply belief. It’s more of a functional term relating to the facts of the situation itself- devoid of the personal. In this sense, it becomes more like a game: we argue by comparing and contrasting cases. This does not involve the personality of the persons involved, which means their belief systems. It is true that their personalities affect how they argue/discuss, but it does not become a factor in the how they consciously evaluate the given cases. This way, we discuss and argue to our hearts content, without the worry of believing anything, as that does not apply to the game of comparing and contrasting the cases for things.  

Deep Music that Moves Us

I listen to a lot of "deep" music. This is the kind of music that propels you to think and give meaning to it. With that said, its easy to wonder if the meaning one has really is the true meaning of the artist. Some artists have side-stepped this issue by releasing music which is open to interpretation. There is metaphor I would like to suggest which illuminates this idea further: 

The "deep" part of the music can be related to the depth of a body of water. The more meaningful the song, the deeper the pool. Now in this pool of meaning, the dilemma above has us concerned with whether or not we are reaching in the same part of the pool as the artist. Instead, we should focus on how deep we are reaching into the pool, trying to match the artist go beyond them. 

In this way, we can see how reaching deep into the pool we uncover our own buried treasures of meaning. This aspect is what makes this approach to art generative rather then just consumptive: by creating new interpretations, people participate in the creating of art. This aspect I believe is beneficial to society because it makes art more humane and less like a commodity, as is done in popular culture.   

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Is the brain really like a Peacocks tail?

This is a very rough verbal sketching of some of my thoughts concerning the points below. Basically, I don’t think that our desire to mate and reproduce is solely responsible for both the growth of our brain size, and the reason for all of culture and its achievements. Rather I believe our human uniqueness in culture, language, and brain size emerged from a multitude of factors, which produced a result which cannot be reduced to any particular aspect of animal nature.


How can culture be a produce of desire when most of culture is done in the absence of it?

Humans are like an invasive species because of our ability to (over)adapt.

If desire is central to human uniqueness and intelligence, then why is it not more common in animals?

A piece of our animal nature I believe, cannot be responsible for our human uniqueness. It was most likely a mutilated of factors. These factors may have made a whole greater then the sum of its parts (Gestalt) and that sum is our uniqueness (language and culture).

This may have been a kind of strong emergence (like the big bang from nothing, or mind from neurons and brain-world).

The fact that culture and language are both transcendental and referential makes it beyond any animal necessity.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Meaning Zero: How zero can help find meaning in the Universe and Life

Some may say life or the universe has no intrinsic meaning. However, they may have not thought of meaninglessness being a kind of meaning; that is, apparent meaninglessness can be a kind of meaning although it has no value.

Now this may sound incorrect, but this example can help: if one asks for the definition of a number, the are told a number denotes quantity or value. That would be a fine answer, unless one thinks of the number zero- a number with no value. Therefore, we have a number with no value, which seems contrary to the definition of a number. Can we have a life/universe with inbuilt meaning although it seems to lack any intrinsic meaning?

Zero is a very important number even though it lacks value. Its this trait which gives it great use; the lack of value allows for zero to encompass all numbers without distorting them in anyway. For example: 1 cannot encompass any number without changing it: 1 +7=8. However, zero does not distort numbers, leaving them as they are: 0+7=7. In addition to not distorting other numbers when encompassed, zero (in the decimal system) does the other important function of allowing for new “space” for numbers to venture. As zero is the first digit, it beings each new tier of numbers e.g.: 1, 10, 100, 1000, etc. therefore it can be said that zero both allows for and preserves all other numbers via the two characteristics stated above (creating new tiers and not distorting numbers).

As a result, a number without a value becomes the one number which gives rise to all others. This example can now illustrate how a life/universe without apparent intrinsic meaning (like a number without any apparent value) can allow for all other meaning (personal to cosmic). But like zero, this life/universe has intrinsic meaning, but it’s the kind of meaning which itself is negative, because it allows for all other meanings to exist. This is just like zero which itself is a number with no positive value, but allows for all other numbers with value.

In a nutshell, this life/universe which seems not to have intrinsic meaning, actually can have it. Yet it is the kind of meaning which is negative in its nature- allowing for a multitude of other meanings to exist. This is like zero which is a number without value, but allows for all other numbers to exist through its emptiness.