Musings sept 07

*One thing that distinguishes a biological brain and its mind from a computer is the phenomenon of preferences and subconscious motivation.  Unless those things that obey logics that lie on various planes aside from the simple, common, day-to-day plane of the logic of logistics arise from complexity – emergence – a computer can not have a mind of its own.


*One researcher estimates that there are nearly five trillion spiders in the Netherlands alone, each of which consumes a tenth of a gram of meat a day.  Were their victims people instead of insects, they would need only three days to consume all sixteen and a half million Dutchmen. 

          The water spider, exhibiting what we should call intelligence, builds a web beneath the waves, anchored to a plant, and fills it with bubbles that it collects at the surface.  The bubbles coalesce into an air chamber, where the spider can sit safe from predators.  When hunger strikes, the water spider waits for a shrimp or a tadpole to swim by, then it pounces.


* The idea of a state in Newtonian physics shares with classical sculpture and painting the illusion of the Frozen Moment.  This gives rise to the illusion that the world is composed of objects.  If this were really the way the world is then the primary description of something would be how it is, and change in it would be secondary.  Change would be nothing more than alterations in how something is. But relativity and quantum theory tell us that our world is a history of processes.  Nothing IS, except in a very approximate and temporary sense.  How something is; what state it is in, is an illusion.

          The filtering lens of subterranean emotions leads us to believe that we – and the world we interact with – are in one state or another.  If we drop the lens, even for a moment, things become less recognizable and faintly menacing. When you start noticing your feelings as soon as they arise, like noticing and acknowledging thoughts in meditation, you may be amazed at the cacophony of emotion that is swirling around in your back-brain all the time; even on those boring, featureless days your subtext is busy and apparently unrelated to what’s in the text of day-to-day life.


*Are you sure you are really interested in the preservation of the human race once you and all the people you know are no longer alive?


*If you had the power to put into effect things you consider right, would you do so against the wishes of the majority?


*Are you convinced by your own self-criticism?


*Are you conscious of being in the wrong in relation to another person – who need not necessarily be aware of it?  If so, does this make you hate yourself – or the other person?


*In Multiple Personality Disorder there are numerous consciousnesses which are unaware of each other, and in an integrated personality, those consciousnesses are either aware or unaware of each other, but subject to their influences. Sometimes in dreams we experience those consciousnesses as various players in the dream. To experience a mood or emotion is to have the penumbra of a past experience shade one’s perception of the meaning of current events: one consciousness is influencing another.  The consciousness  which suffered from a past experience informs the consciousness presently encountering (remembering, experiencing or anticipating) a similar experience.

          Awareness of that subtle tug between different consciousness within is what precipitates enlightenment.  In this sense mood and emotion are equivalent to the Buddhist conceptualization of “thought”.  To control one’s mind; one’s thinking, is to recognize the tugs which blossom into desires and aversions. Before deciding whether or not one believes this, its important to remember that a belief is necessarily involuntary.


* functionalism is a theory of mind whose core idea is that mental states (beliefs, desires, emotions) are constituted solely by their functional role – that is, their causal relations to other mental states, sensory inputs and behavioral outputs.  Is a mental state equivalent to a state in Newtonian physics? If so, is it illusory in the way Lee Smolin describes a Frozen Moment? Or is a mental state a proclivity? I’m just asking.


*In the 17th century people didn’t distinguish between heat and temperature.  They might look at a brick heated in a certain fire for a certain length of time and they’d see how much ice it melted in a certain period.  By that test some substances were hotter than others, but when tested with thermometers other substances were hotter.


*Phenomenology, of course, is the study of how we experience the world on a subjective level: we all call the color red red, but do we all see the same red as we say red?


*”Free will” can mean that I’m the author of my actions in a way that is not explicable by science or it can mean that I simply could have done something different. Personally, I’d say that free will is somewhere between the two.  The influences on my decision are so myriad and numerous that free will is more of an emergent property.


* I just found out that “procrustean” means producing or designed to produce strict conformity by ruthless or arbitrary means. I estimate that 78% of the world’s problems would be solved if the underlying sentiments that required the coinage of the word procrustean were eradicated.


*Shame is a social condition and form of social control consisting of an emotional state stemming from the awareness of having acted inappropriately.  Shame differs from embarrassment insofar as it doesn’t necessarily involve public humiliation.  Also, shame is a response to actions that are morally wrong, whereas embarrassment can arise from morally neutral actions that are – or are expected to be – socially unacceptable. In shame-based cultures the social consequences of “getting caught” are more important than the individual feelings, whereas “guilt-based” cultures emphasize exactly those individual feelings.


* I am not an idiot. I am a person who suffers from idiocy.  No one knows what its like to deal with crippling bouts of idiocy while trying to lead a normal life.


*True patriotism as less to do with defending one’s country than with making it worth defending.