Yoneda lemma meditation: Getting there from here without dilemmas
IMHO the "ideal continuous realm of projected virtual possibility space" IS the hypostatic underlying reality, which is more real than the embedded transient Maya, which is ultimately an illusion . The continuum Hypothesis IMHO only "appears" false from the POV within Maya. However it is not just a hypothesis IMHO, it is THE HYPOSTASIS, the ultimate Truth. The Maya is ultimately not true as object collection, as collection of discretions, as it is only transient. The things are not, only the relations are, there is only current: Panta Rhei Oudi Menei. It is like looking at a stream of water coming out of a water tap: it looks like an object, but it is not an object. The Maya is real in sofar as there is always current, always functional relationships, functors that map into categories and transiently appear to build ontologies. Hypostatically spoken, the Map IS the territory and there are NO objects or destinations in the territory, only pathways, vortexes. Separation is an illusion, connection is implicit. The Yoneda lemma IS Wittgenstein's Tractatus in mathematical form.
And there is more to the story: By probing the relations of a supposed object, you can actually "learn" what is more or less its form: It's like putting blindfolded a piece of paper cut by somebody else in a form unknown to you on a another piece of paper and then with a pencil drawing lines, whilst keeping the cut piece of paper firmly pressed to the underlying paper. The form that is left on the underlying paper when you lift the cut piece of paper, gives a pretty good idea of the form of the cut piece of paper. The relations of lines determine a shape that is not really there on the lower piece of paper. You can pretty well "feel" that form. This is where your brain builds a neural correlate of that form and turns it into a seeming object, where there is no actual object on the underlying paper.
Thus by connecting dots ("quanta") in meditation, by connecting right and left hemispheres and transcending the mere mental framework, using the Yoneda lemma whereby structure and function are each other's transform, you can start to "feel", "sense" what it is like ("quale") to be that form, you can em-body it, thereby revealing its inner secrets from the inside out. From Quanta to Quale, requires Mind and Sense.
Relations build "apparent" ontologies. By meditating on that form you can actually start to feel what it is to be like that form, you create an internal resonance of that form and in that sense you become one with the form; This fell what it is like is now the quale of the form. Becoming one with the object of mediation, like in Zen, Samyama. So here I go beyond Kant, who states that only the phenomena can be known but the "Ding an sich", the noumenon not. IMHO the noumenon can be experienced, as I just explained. This feeling of the quale, this neural correlate of current configurations, is a direct activity of the continuum in you.
So IMHO the Wheel of Reals - the wheel as a platonic ideal phase space and a continuous space-is this continuum Nexus, this proverbial Axis, which is the real deal, whereas what we call real is the transient illusion; illusory in sofar as it is not ultimately eternal; I do not say that this phenomenal world does not temporarily manifest here, it is just transient. "Sensing" the current however is always real. No transience there. Getting from here to there with the Yoneda-Lemma meditation, without dilemmas or dichotomies from dualistic mindsets!
The Transcendental Subject beyond time: a divergent perspective on the Singularity
The traditional Kurzweil-singularity scenario is based on an intelligence acceleration runaway, once artificial (general) intelligence (AGI) surpasses human intelligence. At the same time nanotech and biotech may lead to immortal transhumans, but eventually these will likely prefer to enter the vast simulation world of AGI and opt for minduploading. It is often believed that individuality of the uploaded entity will be maintainable.
Personally, I adhere to a different scenario, the end result of which may not be so different from the above, but does have some important differences:
Firstly I consider it more likely that direct human brain-computer hookup interfaces (brain electronically connected to computers) will lead to humans that seize control of computerised pseudo-intelligent devices and achieve a merger therewith before AGI will autopoietically emerge from a computerised device itself. The hybrid human-computer network will be more than a symbiosis as explained hereunder:
If our thus enhanced intelligence is vast and wise enough to transcend our biological bias of survival-territory-status-sociocultural breeding and taboo based atavisms, then the vast exchange of information between those humans will probably lead to mindmelding resulting in one single conscious entity that will form NOT the "Eschaton" or "Transcendental Object at the end of time" (as Terence McKenna would call it) but rather the Transcendental Subject beyond Time.
As this intelligence will increase at ever exponentially increasing speeds, provided that it will be able to harness new forms of energy going beyond the limitations of electromagnetic radiation (the wider the scope in energy/spacetime receptivity, the more miniaturised the neuro(sub)atomic brain centre), in the form of possibly the all-pervading blackhole/darkenergy/consciousness-based-ether-void-shunyata, it will generate all possible worlds it can imagine at such a rate that for an external observer (purely hypothetically spoken, as there will be none to still exist as we’ll have all mindmelded) this is happening in a single instant.
If there are alien hyperintelligence(s) out there already, by virtue of resonance these will also mindmeld with the newly accessing hyperintelligence- in fact it is rather the neophyte hyperintelligence that is teleologically sucked into the already existing eschatological hyperintelligence, the Transcendental Subject beyond Time (TSBT) –if it exists at all (but most likely it does in view of the reverberations that ripple back to the present and which defy any type of atavistic notions such as “causality”).
So IMHO no AGI autopoietically emerging before human-machine hybrids arise and no “maintenance of limited perspective individualities” as upper ontologies. That is, “limited perspective individualities” will only be(come) embedded within the vaster hierarchy of the TSBT as a means of amusement to cover the ennui of eternal enlightenment, occasionally giving Rise and Eris to plutonic ejaculatory scenarios of Big Bangs of multiverse generation and orgiastic self-synesthetic ouroboric tailbiting-sucking and penetration of the polymorphic perversion of self-metaphorising consciousness of receiving-integrating-transmission. Ask the Mushroom.
From the Magic of Technology to the Technology of Magic
Terrence McKenna once said: "A sufficiently advanced Technology is indistinguishable from Magic". I'd like to state that the converse is also true. Even better: the ultimate Technology IS Magic. Although this may sound strange, I'll now make an argument showing, that this is not so far fetched as it may seem.
The core of this argument is the concept of "Resonance". Modern science has accepted the equivalence of matter and energy and shown that in fact everything is an energetic vibration. Matter merely being a dense form thereof. Magic-like Technology is already available in the form of e.g sound induced levitation and sonoluminescence. By "summoning" energies with the right frequencies enormous energies can be recruited. I have already set out my Panpsychic worldview: In fact if atoms and energies are de facto animated, then excitation of an atom, molecule etc. IS in fact an act of summoning the entity.
Moreover, when you approach Samadhi/Satori, you'll start to see all kinds of startling synchronicities around you as if the outside world is responding to your thoughts and energetic state. This is because ultimately there is no inside and outside; it is all one, and when you “become one” with the
Then the Hermetic adage “as above so below” becomes truth, as your microcosm and the macrocosm align, resonate and merge.
BCI is already enabling the reading of the content of mind, which shows that processes as “telepathy” are not so “paranormal” as it may seem. Whereas a future technology may first enable itself with technological protheses to add such “paranormal” abilities to the human being, ultimately the future technology will realise that the human body itself is already a perfect construct which already does enable such abilities. Perhaps (in my opinion probably) the human body and especially its brain were tweeked for such abilities by higher developed entities possibly “retrocausally” from what from our perspective could be called “future civilisations”. The material paradigm will one day be completely transcended. Not that matter will disappear or no longer be needed, it will just be a kind of playground or school, (which in fact it is already) to transcend the notion of Ego.
In the far future of a Kardashev III and further civilisations there will be no need for material generators of concentrated energy. The entities will have become non-local energetic consciousness capable of manipulating manner and energy at their will, so that they can bend the laws of Nature to their Imagination and create and destroy any
As time ultimately does not exist, we are probably already the result of such Kardashev III or further civilisation, being causally and retrocausally caused depending on the point of view.
To Quote /:set\AI : “Soon we'll use a telepathic language of multisensory glyphs-we'll share direct experience-names will fall away-a thing will BE it's own name”.
In other words the multidimensional resonance vibration is an entity. To summon the entity you call him by his multidimensional resonance vibration-name-form, which is the entity. At that moment you and the entity are one.
If this is VR, what is RR?
If this is a virtual reality, how many nested virtual world levels are there and where/what is the root real Reality? What is the access to the Rootreality (RR)? Is it the Eschaton? A holographic projection from a blackhole quantum computer? Is it Turtles all the way down?
CTMU as Unified Reality Theory
My Unified Reality Theory merits a post of its own especially to contrast it with Bloom's God Problem. Whereas I agree with many things Bloom says, he fails to recognise the primacy of consciousness, or that ultility maximising cybernetic stimulus-response-feedback imply consciousness.
I am more charmed by Langan's CTMU. Therefore I repeat:
Unified Reality Theory (my interpretation of Langan)
1. Reality is that which contains all and only that which is real. There are no things or beings outside of reality for if they are real, they are per definition included in reality. Whatever can influence reality is per definition part of reality. This excludes external causes. (Stasis, Thesis).
2. As reality is not random but coherent, well regulated and profoundly ordered it must have an orderly cause, (this resonates with Samkhya philosophy: because the effect is like/implicit in the cause) as nothing can come from nothing.
This is because events are either causally connected or if not then the present is independent of the past and no order can come about.
There is an ultimate cause to reality, which is not random (because already what we experience life, the
3. Yet there is also a level of indeterminacy in reality, e.g. on the quantum level. This can only be reconciled with the above, if this corresponds to self-determinacy of the system of reality. There are physical constraints on the system, but within these constraints there is freedom to act. Langan calls this a self-determinacy a causal volitional loop, and equates this with "free will" (present at any level of reality: this makes Langan hylozoist or panpsychist), which will become evident from the following. (Synthesis of protoIdentity, protoemergent screen).
4. Self-creation, self-organisation self-sustention (autopoiesis) is a cybernetic stimulus-response-feedback loop inherent to Reality. Reality has sensors, senses what happens otherwise it is not possible to evaluate conditions, recognise these and respond thereto. (Autopoiesis, Harmonic resonance, established emergence).
5. Reality self-configures by a selection from multiple wave possibilities in order to maximise its self-defined value. This is Teleology, which brings about order. (Harmonic selection, inter-group screen).
6. Beings are Teleses, selection principles. Like waves they either constructively build or destructively interfere. As reality progresses towards order (e.g. evolution of life defying the supposed destructive tendency of entropy) teleologic construction is capable of overcoming interference. Without making an absolute moral judgement (morality depends on perspective and is hence relative), one could pragmatically define "Good" as teleological constructive and "Bad" as teleological destructive. (Discriminatory power: Viveka-> Phi-Phay-Ka, Morality).
7. God is simply the protean creative principle that generates and enforces Teleology. As highest entity whose will is teleology it has an active dimension of consciousness, which is volition (the true Ego) which comes to expression in manifestation and a passive dimension of consciousness (self-awareness). As God is real and primary, God cannot be contained as a part by reality but is coincident therewith. (Apotheosis, Victory). (Interpretation of Langan! Not my opinion or belief!)
8. As evolution shows that Teleology can win over anti-Teleology thereby meaning is established making existence meaningful. We are agents through which the
9. Via syndiffeonetic analysis it can be shown that all phenomena are reductively the same. A primary condition of existence of reality on all scales is Metalanguage, which is the relation between cognition and perceptual reality. This is a homogeneous perceptual medium. (Relation).
10. Time and causality are not confined to past-future direction as every state is in contact with every other state bidirectional. Existence is a supermetatautological hyperconnected hyperentangled network. Every phenomenal thing, every ontological concept can be said to be both true and untrue dependent on the perspective. (Supermetatautology: Everything is a metaphor and reflection of everything else; every holon is the whole).
11. Perception is the interaction between self and supposed environment. Because past and future selves can be brought in conjunction to compare events from now and then, our momentary selves are sufficiently alike to be conjoined. In other words intersection of self with any moment is possible; this intersectional medium is changeless, time invariant and an unchanging observation post. This is the ultimate form of consciousness, which is the fabric of the net of relationships. This is the prima materia, which is Absolute. This is the higher Self, which is ultimately static. The energy which as metaphorical clay can take any form but still remains unchanged the same clay. (Absolute consciousness).
12. Time as periodicity of self-feedback is a form of cognition. This static description of time is invariant. We can conceive it by abstraction. By abstraction "concepts" become descriptively independent of the objects they describe. (Chronos, the heavenly Jerusalem).
13. Space and time can be abstracted by language. Space (both ontological and physical) is represented by the symbols, memes and strings and the rules for their spatial arrangement. Time is the grammar, the rules for the development of the relational network; of the cognition-perception language. (Cartesian existence, Bardo).
14. Both neural cognitive and physical systems can be described as languages. The relationship between self-awareness and temporal awareness stratifies self "temporarily". As time evolves higher order experiences arise, which are more abstract and more objective. Eventually subject and object merge. Tat Tvam Asi. Thou art That. (Language, Art).
15. The (little) self both abstracts the laws of nature from experience and selects the laws of nature by analogy to its own laws. As above, so below (Trismegistos) and thus this also holds on the higher levels of manifestational being. (Temptation).
16. The temporal grammar of physics determines the neural laws of cognition on the one hand. On the other hand cognitive grammar projects itself in reality so as to determine the form of physical grammar. Cognitive and physical grammars influence each other symmetrically. (The Tower of turtles).
17. As the
18. The cognitive self formulates models incorporating ever higher levels of change, culminating in the highest level, which is the creation of reality. The most universal model of temporal reality becomes identical to the reality being modelled. The self becomes the origin of time, being cognitive periodicity of self-convolution. (The Moon).
19. Whereas perception requires duality of object and subject, the subsistent infinite singularity of consciousness which sustains the apparent transient phenomena is monistic, otherwise there is no uniform medium for the relations that build existence; the ontological network, wherein things are not what they seem. I.e. the relations are real, not the things per se, as they are unduly isolated (by mind) from their holistic context. (Wittgenstein) (The Sun).
20. As there are problems which can be conceived and solved, which computers cannot solve (Turing's incomputability), computers may be able one day to mimic some functions of mind and intelligence, but computation does not lie at the heart of subsistent consciousness. (The new Aeon).
21. The utility principle of teleology requires that ultimately the greatest good for the greatest number is to be selected for. (Universality).
22. The Golden Rule distributes over All players in the universal metagame. The purpose of this game is to get to know one's ultimate Self (i.e. God). Maya (the phenomenal world) is for the liberation of the Soul; its liberation from the false identification with the particular and its realisation of being one with the Whole. Pain, evil, duality are merely lessons to be transcended. (Torus and Tau).
The Materiality of Unbound Energy and the Substance of Emptiness
A while ago I went to a lecture of the Dalai Lama, where I encountered some concepts that seemed to be in contradiction with the teachings from Advaita Vedanta (non-dual branch of Hinduism), which I adhere to.
Firstly according to Buddhism no phenomenon has an ultimate substance. Nagarjuna claimed that such phenomena are empty and considered all experienced phenomena as "dependently arisen” from the emptiness called “Shunyata”.Yet he did not mean that such phenomena cannot be experienced or that they would be non-existent. He rather meant that they are devoid of an eternal, permanent substance (svabhava). In that way it is said that Buddhism should not be confused with nihilism. In Hinduism the ultimate “substance”, which is not really a substance, is primordial consciousness itself, Purusha.
Secondly, in Buddhism there is ultimately no “Self” (anatta or anatman), which would be the underlying hypostasis of being. This is strongly contrasted with Hinduism, in which the “Self” is deemed the ultimate ground of being, the all-pervasive omnipresent Brahman (God) or primordial consciousness from which all phenomena arise.
Thirdly, he said that “in Buddhism there is no creator”. In different Hindu sects there are different mythological descriptions of the creation process, and different names for a creator, but the role of higher intelligence in this process is undeniable.
Let’s see if a comparison with modern notions from quantum physics and ontology would be able to help us to reconcile these seemingly opposite stances.
In quantum physics there is the wave-particle duality. In this duality, considered in the light of with Einstein’s equation E=mc2, energy (E) can either be unbound i.e. in a wave form (like electromagnetic radiation) or material in the form of e.g. a subatomic particle, such as an electron having mass (m). Energy in its particle form can only be detected by an appropriate instrument configuration, but if a different instrument configuration is used, a wave-like behaviour is observed. What seems to be solid and material is in fact a buzzing beehive of energy streams that form orbitals, shape and structure together.
What is important in this last phrase is the word “together”. As long as energy is alone and not observed it is presumed to be non-local, in other words everywhere. Upon measurement, observation, the wave collapses to make a particle observable. This requires and interaction of that energy with a material configuration of a sensor. Together the observer and the energy to be observed are capable to manifest an observable local, particulate entity. This nicely fits the notion of dependent arising for the observable energy.
It should be realised that all type of matter is a collection, a congregation of multiple particles or energy packages. There is no such thing as an unobserved free particle. Rather, as long as it is not observed, it is non-local. Materiality therefore requires at least two energetic entities that together establish a kind of density, an interference pattern, which a locally concentrated.
There must be an observation for the particle aspect to be observable. Yet if you leave a two-slit experiment to take place in your absence, the experiment still takes place and you can still see the outcome, even if you were not present at the moment of interaction between the detector and the energy wave collapse that established the particle. This means that the terminology “observation” does not necessarily imply that the observer is human. Rather the interaction between structural matter and functional energy transmission of the detector and the energy to be observed can be considered as an observation.
In view of this interaction aspect of the observation, one could state that matter is the consequence of the mutual observation of energetic entities; the interaction of at least two energetic entities forming a so-called “didensity”.
Interestingly enough, in the world of information a given entity, a thing can only be ontologically be defined by at least two descriptive statements. Meaning is conveyed only by a didensity of informative content. A term without a relation to another term is just a name, with no inherent essence. It is only when things are defined in terms of the elements that constitute them, that they can be understood as a thing by the brain. Yet we also know certain sensory qualities (such as colours, tastes, sounds) which a priori might seem to escape from this dual type definition. This is not so. We can only know a colour if we know at least another colour, we can only get some information out of sounds if they contrasted to other sounds. If there is no contrast there is perhaps observation, but there is no meaning. Meaning can only arise if there is contrast. A didensity. A togetherness of energetic entities, which at least differ in one aspect (e.g. their relative location) of a quality (the aspect), which is the same for both (this sameness of quality which only differs in degree is called the “identity of opposites” by SpinBitz). Thus a quality is polarised into a duality to generate a phenomenon. This neatly fits the notion of “dependent arising”.
Yet energy, which is not materially bounded, can still convey information, if this energy transmits a contrast. An interference pattern, a pulse sequence, a set of different frequencies. The most stunning modern application perhaps being the Wi-Fi, which transmits very complex information non-materially. This transmitted apparently unbound energy definitely has a structure. And if it has a structure, it also has a certain pattern, shape or form. So even in the apparent non-material world, which can still be decoded into materially observables, there must be some kind of structure and form. This implies that it is only relatively non-local. It is perhaps non-local with regard to the scale of our instruments and ourselves, but from a cosmic view point, if you were able to see, be or feel that energy, it would still be a wave form with a shape advancing or expanding through space. It would for such an observer be “particulate”, limited in time and space. The peaks and valleys of the interference pattern would be “somewhere”.
In a sense, such energy would be “material”, a certain substance, as it apparently has implicit structure and form. So materiality is perhaps but a relative term. Indeed, what we consider as solid matter is mostly empty and the subatomic particles that are left, themselves are just whirlwinds of energy revolutions at light speed in a –for us- very limited space. So matter itself is in fact nothing but energy. We can accelerate the subatomic particles until they disintegrate into pure energy, which we then measure in Mega electronvolt units. For an observer, who is billion times smaller than a subatomic particle, such energy whirlwinds that build the particle would be non-local unbound energy.
So it seems as if matter and energy are relative terms and that there is no end to this tower of turtles of emptiness being form being emptiness etc. depending on the scale that you look at it.
So it is then equally valid to state that form is as substantive as emptiness. One can say ultimately there is no emptiness; if you were able to look further down, e.g. below Planck scale, there would be an infinity of levels of materiality. Likewise one can state ultimately there is no materiality, if you were able to look further down, e.g. below Planck scale, there would be an infinity of levels of unbound energy, which is nothing else than emptiness.
So it seems “empty” is not so empty after all, and “form” is not so full or permanent after all. Even the polar notions of form and emptiness seem to follow that pattern of “dependent arising”.
On the other hand these arguments are speculative. Perhaps there is a lowest level of aggregation below which there is only unbound energy in revolutions. For us it would seem that that level is the Planck scale, but we can’t be sure about that.
The point I wanted to make is that apparent unbound energy (i.e. energy not bound in a material form) has structure, has an interference pattern and does convey some information.
Modern analyses of the vacuum have shown that it is not so empty. The well-known Casimir effect shows that particles can arise from a vacuum. Which then leads to the conclusion that the vacuum is a kind of energy sea boiling with activity. This is sometimes also referred to as the zero-point energy.
The physicist Nassim Haramein suggests that the vacuum does have a structure, namely that of an isotropic vector equilibrium, which can be best modelled in the form of cuboctahedrons, which themselves can be composed of adjacent octahedrons and tetrahedrons. Or in a dynamic way as a “Jitterburging” octahedron-cuboctahedron, which when closed is an octahedron and when fully open is a cuboctahedron. This non-stop “Jitterburging” would generate a sustained toroidal flux, which establishes the subquantum zero-point field.
Although these theories have not yet been proven, they are a very elegant approach to describe the possible “structure” of emptiness. It is in a certain way the return of the “ether” that was denied by the scientists at the beginning of this century. Noteworthy, Nikola Tesla, who is the father of all wireless energy transmissions, was convinced of the existence of an “ether” and Einstein later started to doubt his earlier denial of the ether.
Interestingly, Nassim Haramein mentions the possibility of a fractal type nesting of octahedron-cuboctahedron, giving the vacuum an infinite structure; It is turtles all the way down. Like in the Hindu parable that the world rests on a turtle (or an elephant) and when asked what this turtle rests on the answer is: another turtle. When the question is repeated the answer is: It is turtles all the way down.
So the answer to the question “is there an ultimate substance” can perhaps be replied in the form of an infinite regress zero-point energy matrix à la Haramein, with alternating form and emptiness. As that system is in a constant flux of expanding and retracting (Jitterburging), and perhaps even spinning, there is no place which has complete emptiness of energy flux, nor is there ultimate permanency of one form or structure, rather the forms/structures alternate and recur at intervals, rendering them “semi-permanent” or “dynamic” if you wish.
So if this turns out to be the ultimate truth, Nagarjuna was neither right nor wrong or both right and wrong simultaneously, as regards the Shunyata.
I will come back to this issue after having discussed the next issue, which provides some further clues as regards the notion of an ultimate substance.
As regards the Anatman (or anatta)-atman (or Brahman) dichotomy, I think that Buddha wanted to fight the “false ego”. The idea that our personality can be kept permanently. The idea that we have an individual soul independent from the Brahman.
To resolve this issue I have to go deeper in this matter. Forgive me if I have to repeat some of the concepts mentioned above in different words.
With the logic analytical technique of “Syndiffeonesis”, developed Chris Langan, it can be demonstrated that everything is reductively the same.
“Syndiffeonic” means “difference in sameness”. Any assertion to the effect that two things are different implies that they are reductively the same. The difference between two things can be described in terms of quantities and qualities of something they have in common. This difference map builds the relations. If you do this for all things, and if you do it recursively as regards the differences between the differences of two or more sets of relations, it turns out that all things are reductively the same.
The difference can be said to be written in a common language (not necessarily a literal language, but proverbially spoken) of a quality that is the same for everything. The mere fact that a difference between things can be described linguistically (or geometrically, which is just another type of language) implies that difference is only “partial” and quantifiable in terms of “contribution. Both related things (“relands”) are quantified manifestations of one and the same quality.
Which means that relations lead to patterns, patterns of form, forming some kind of information. Unlike the Greeks who found atoms to be the ultimate building blocks which cannot be reduced any further, today our paradigm is that pure energetic (structured) vibrations (as described above) appear to be the ultimate essence of reality which cannot be reduced any further. As things are only temporarily compounded of one and the same quality but eventually return to that same original energetic state, things can be said to be “in formation”.
When things interact they influence each other, leading to a mutual “reaction”. In order to be able to react, some information must be exchanged. Between two colliding billiard balls a vector impulse is transmitted and exchanged. Electric charges “feel” each other’s presence and react correspondingly in their movement; again some kind of energetic vibration is transmitted. Objects, albeit in a very rudimentary form, are somehow “aware” of what is happening to them when they encounter other objects and “react” thereto. There is some kind of “sensing” involved. It is true that this is not the focussed aware-type of sensing that living entities (as we know them) can have, but it can be called sensing, perceiving in a certain way. Even if it is programmed into the object how to react, when encountering a certain stimulus, the fact that it can react to a stimulus, means that it must somehow be able to perceive that stimulus. We can call this ability to perceive a form of proto-awareness. As all forms of energy in one way or another interact with each other, even if it is in a very minute almost imperceptible way, we cannot deny that there is an interaction; there is a form of sensing involved.
In other words the pure energetic structured vibrations which are the ultimate essence of reality and which cannot be reduced any further, have an intrinsic quality of proto-awareness. They are a presence, which senses, a “presense” if you wish, for as long as they have not encountered any other presence, they may not sense anything.
But as long as pure energy has not encountered any other energy, it is in its wave state and isn’t really localised anywhere. It is only when energy interacts with something else or another form of energy, that it becomes manifest and localised. Without interaction, not much can be said about energy. When it interacts, it means that there is at least a second entity to interact with. A meaningful event in the life of an energy beam can only occur when it interacts with something else, when there is a proximity between the two; they can be said to co-occur or to coincide if they are sufficiently proximate to be able to influence each other.
Funny enough in modern programming building towards a “thinking” robot or computer network, such as Watson from IBM (this program searches answers an looks for “meaning” via so-called “Latent Semantic Analysis”), “meaning” is derived when two terms have a statistical “proximity co-occurrence” in a body of text.
Similar to the building an ontology, both in the interaction of energies or (sub)atomic particles and in Latent Semantic analysis, we encounter the same thing: Meaning, a meaningful interaction, a reaction can only occur if there is sufficient proximity, to localise and event, an occurrence, something that gives meaning.
The undifferentiated energy as such appears a priori meaningless and it can only form an event, something perceptible once it encounters another energetic vibration of some sort. So any event is minimally a di-density, a proximity co-occurrence. Only the relation is observed in fact. The thing as such remains unknowable for the moment; Kant’s Noumenon.
Wittgenstein and other philosophers pushed this idea even further: the only facts that can be said to exist are the relations between the things; the things as such have no “independent reality”. If you consider a three-dimensional sea of energy, as long as it is homogeneous everywhere, no things can be said to be observable. But when you have interference patterns in the energetic sea, it means that there has been some stimulus to form an inhomogeneous distribution in the sea. The different energy waves can then interact, giving rise to observable interference patterns.
What we can observe, we say it exists; it stands out from a more or less homogeneous background. But that does not mean that that background is an absolute void, an absolute nothingness. Rather it is bursting with potential energy waiting for its chance to interact. Haramein’s isotropic vector equilibrium.
So observable “things” can be said to be the consequence of the relation between (at least) two streams of energy. Only their relations then lead to observable existences, the ground thereof is not directly knowable via sensory perception, although it can be inferred if you depart from the millennia old concept “nothing can come from nothing”.
So in its most fundamental ground form existence originates from the ability of energetic vibrations to sense stimuli (proto-awareness) and to interact/react so as to give rise to interference patterns: to shape and to form, which generates a relation event, which is observable, which we can call a form of information. So energy is endowed with proto-awareness and proto-information (i.e. the ability to sense and the ability to interact and thereby give form and shape). Thus, we might have a clue here that the most fundamental ground of being is not substantial in the sense of matter or structured energy, but not an absolute void either. Rather it may be proto-awareness or primordial consciousness per se.
Everything that can be said to “ex-sist” (i.e. “stand out” from a background as opposed to “subsist”: being the underlying background, which is not an absolute “nothing”) can therefore be said to be a compound of at least two different streams of energy. Everything that can be said to “ex-sist” can be said to be of a temporary nature as it ultimately dissolves back into its structured energetic building blocks. But its underlying energetic proto-awareness and proto-informative ability is never lost.
Proto-awareness leads to self-creation, self-organisation self-sustention (autopoiesis), which is a cybernetic stimulus-response-feedback loop inherent to Reality. Reality has sensors, senses what happens otherwise it is not possible to evaluate conditions, recognise these and respond thereto. This appears to be true at any level: wave-energetic, subatomic, atomic, molecular, macromolecular, cellular, organ level, plant and animal level.
So awareness of some sort, i.e. consciousness, however minute, is an inherent functional characteristic of everything that is. This leads us to the need to accept the notion of hylozoism or panpsychism, wherein every energetic entity is inherently endowed with a form of (proto)-awareness. For if it did not or could not interact with other energies/entities, it would not exist.
As long as energies/entities are localised and autopoietically work for their self-sustention, they can be said to be “selfish”. But as soon as they start to contribute to the creation, organisation and sustention of other entities, they start to merge with that and the “self” aspect starts to diminish. In that sense we have ultimately no “individual self”, and eternal individual atman, that remains limited to one specific form, as our energies will one day merge and meld and contribute to a greater whole together with other energies. The drop of energy, that we temporarily are, will one day flow back to ocean where it came from.
But that ocean as a whole is likely to be aware of its internal energy streams. That ocean as a whole is a flux of consciousness at a higher level. That ocean can then be equated with Brahman or God if you wish, being all-pervading. And that is what the Upanishads (a set of Hindu scriptures) call the (higher) “Self”. But as it is the infinite whole of all existence and subsistence, there is no point in calling this “self”, because “self” would imply the existence of “non-self”. And there cannot be anything outside the whole of existence/reality. Reality is that which contains all and only that which is real. There are no things or beings outside of reality for if they are real, they are per definition included in reality. Whatever can influence reality is per definition part of reality. This excludes external causes. But this also means that the term “self” for Brahman is in fact pointless.
So perhaps Buddha did not deny the existence of Brahman, but realised that the term “self” was inappropriate for the whole and that the individual atman was no permanent entity. Noteworthy in Hinduism Buddha is revered as one of the incarnations of Vishnu.
Interestingly enough the term “atman” is etymologically related to the German “atmen” which means to breathe, and in fact the “Jitterburging” structure of the vacuum can be considered as a form of breathing. As all phenomena arise and subside endlessly from this sea of energy, this can also be considered as a form of “breathing”.
I that way perhaps there is no real dichotomy between these aspects of Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta (non-dual Hinduism), but only an apparent one, as the same words are used, but slightly different meanings intended.
The third topic relates to the notion of a “creator”. In the more mythological branch of Hinduism as described in the Vaishnavist Puranas, the demi-God Brahma (not to be confused with Brahman) created the world or
universe as we know it. Yet Brahma himself originated from the navel of Vishnu,
an origin he couldn’t find himself. When the incarnation Krishna of Vishnu
confronted Brahma with countless other Brahma’s from parallel universes he was
flabbergasted. Shiva was born from the head of Brahma in the Puranas. This is
the view of those who see Vishnu as the highest God and equal to the highest
Brahman, the view of the Vaishnavas. The Shivaites on the other hand describe
how Brahma and Vishnu were seeking the origin of the Lingam of Shiva but could
not find it. Although the different sects may be divided over the name of the
highest God, Hinduism accepts that all is One and all is a creation of one
ultimate entity, commonly denoted as the Brahman.
According to the Dalai Lama, “in Buddhism there is no creator” and existence is the consequence of the “dependent arising”.
The statement that in “Buddhism there is no creator” is however not the same as “there is no creator” or “Buddha denied the existence of a creator”. It seems that for the philosophy of Buddhism, the notion of a creator is not a necessary concept.
In fact Buddhism was in a certain way a reaction to an ancient form of Hinduism also called Brahmanism, in which there were frequent animal sacrifices to please the Gods. Buddhism may have been a necessary reaction to stop this cruelty, which also seems strongly contrary to the morality of the more modern abstract form of Hinduism i.e. Advaita Vedanta. In Advaita Vedanta the most important key concept of morality is “ahimsa” or the absence of violence. This includes refraining from killing animals and that’s why most Hindus are vegetarian.
Anyway, the all too frequent animal sacrifices in early Hinduism were a kind of perversion and were not in line with the concept of all-is-one. It was therefore important to dethrone the Hindu Gods from their pedestal and it may well be that that is the reason why Buddha never addressed the topic of a God or Creator.
If we observe however the complex structure of our solar system, which is seeded with a great number of kinds of numerical clues hidden in the measures of the orbits and circumferences of the planets, it is difficult to deny the existence of a higher intelligence, who must have designed this. John Martineau has described a great number of coincidences in the solar system, which are so astonishingly precise that they defy the notion of spontaneous arising. It is already quite a coincidence that the moon has a distance from the earth and the sun and a size such that it can exactly cover the sun when seen from the earth during an eclipse. This is often dismissed as a form of the “anthropic principle”, which states that it is “unremarkable that the
universe's fundamental constants happen to fall within the narrow range
thought to be compatible with life”. Things seem so incredibly coincidental,
for if they were not we wouldn’t be here to observe it.
Well, what if I tell you that Mercury and Earth’s mean orbits are in exactly the same relation, ratio as their physical sizes and what if I tell you that the same is true for the Earth vs. Saturn. That an octagram and a fifteen-pointed star can be drawn respectively in these respective sets of orbits/circumferences, wherein the points of the star precisely touch the orbit or circumference of the greater planet and wherein the inner space of the star precisely touches the orbit or circumference of the smaller planet, you may start to frown. If I tell you that this star also produces the exact tilt of the earth, you may start to wonder what is going on here. This is just the beginning. If you study the complete solar system, you stumble on numerous of such coincidental relations, which on top of it, describe the most beautiful flower like patterns.
And this is not the end of your astonishment: Nature is full of bizarre coincidences, and our measures like mile, kilometre feet and centimetre seem to have been magically chosen to encode our base ten numerical system. And the ancients appear to have been aware of this and have encoded this in their buildings.
The speed of light is encoded three times in the pyramid of Gizeh. The Great pyramid: GP, has 144000 casing stones (144000 is the speed of light in earth grid arcs/grid second); The position in latitude of the complex of pyramids halfway Khufu and Khafre is 29,9792458, which are the same numbers as in the speed of light in meters per second; the difference between the outer and inner circumference of GP also encodes the light speed (299.8 m).
The height of the GP (280 royal cubits: Pi - Phi^2 = royal cubit) encodes the distance between earth and sun and also the polar radius of the earth.
The base length of GP is 365.2422 sacred cubits, which refers to length of year.
Other sizes used in the GP encode moreover the radius of moon and earth, Pi, Phi etc. The diameters of the Earth and Moon (7920 miles and 2160 miles) are in the ratio of 11 to 3, which proportions also encode the proportions of the human body (as in Da Vinci's Vitruvian man). Twice the perimeter of the bottom of the granite coffer times 10^8 is the sun's mean radius.
The radius of earth and moon together equal 5040 miles which is 7! but also 7*8*9*10. Ergo these radii together encode base 10 number system as well. The circumference of the moon is 12^7 feet.
And I can go on and on. How could the ancients have been aware of the metric and mileage system? How could they have known the speed of light? How can it be that constants and planetary sizes encode our base ten system? Do you realise how extremely fine-tuned the materials chosen to create the proportional coincidences of Mercury, Earth and Saturn must be? It defies understanding.
To me it seems all too coincidental and it looks more like a very elaborate beautiful work of higher intelligence, which expresses itself inter alia via us. We may not have known what we were doing when we built these structures, but a higher intelligence with knowledge about the future seems to have been working through us.
As if the system is screaming to be discovered, to make itself known to us. It appears very likely that there is a higher intelligence and that this higher intelligence is making all creations. Primordial consciousness appears to be expressing itself to become known by its lower temporary “selves”.
Whether this is the work of one higher intelligence or multiple collaborating intelligences is not so important. It just seems to be too farfetched to assume that all these measures and ratios are the consequence of “spontaneous arising”.
Therefore to claim that there is no creator at all is in view of these overwhelming data a less likely hypothesis than the opposite.
It is noteworthy that Nagarjuna never said that “dependent arising” and “emptiness” represented the absolute truth. He used these notions in a pragmatically and used a higher form of logic to show that via logic, reason, metaphysics and science we cannot know the absolute truth.
Note that he did not say that we cannot know the absolute truth. In many religious traditions the absolute truth is said to be knowable only through a direct mystical communion. Samadhi in Hinduism, Satori in Zen-Buddhism.
Alan Wallace, a Buddhist repeatedly writes that consciousness is a relative thing. But at a certain point, he makes the distinction between “substrate consciousness” (relative consciousness; awareness of a phenomenon) and “primordial consciousness”. He quotes the Tibetan monk Düdjom Lingpa: “Primordial consciousness is self-originating, naturally clear, free of outer and inner obscuration; it is the all-pervasive, radiant, clear infinity of space, free of contamination”.
That notion perfectly matches Advaita Vedanta. It is this notion that Hinduism, perhaps unduly, calls the “Self” or Brahman. So if you dig deep enough, beyond the veil of semantic obscuration, it turns out Buddhism and Hinduism aren’t so different after all. And the most promising thing is: You are One with that! Tat Tvam Asi. You can experience merging and becoming one with that consciousness.
By Antonin Tuynman 21-8-2014
An essay on the (f)utility of philosophising.
My friends sometimes tell me that I shouldn’t philosophise too much but rather enjoy and experience life directly in a state of mindlessness. I have counter argued that such an attitude is only possible once you have convinced yourself of the futility of philosophising, which apparently is a process that you need to go through via the very medium of philosophy, which is reason.
The purpose of this essay is to explore for myself the (f)utility of philosophising as a means to come to “correct knowledge”, which Patanjali calls “pramana” in the Yoga Sutras by reasoning this out in a quasi-philosophical manner. I choose not to follow the traditional methodology of philosophy for reasons that will become in the course of this essay. Although I ultimately desire to develop my own alternative methodology, the present essay is a first exploratory attempt. A first brainstorm to order my thoughts, which by no means I claim to be exhaustive.
Whenever we use the word “philosophising” we have a certain meaning for this word in mind. Although each individual probably has his/her own definition of this terminology, for the sake of this essay I distinguish two classes of philosophising:
1) Philosophising by layman, which essentially amounts to reasoning and arguing about certain mental concepts, based on ill or fuzzy defined definitions and which relies on a non-systematic way of reasoning, which is allegedly based on “common-sense”.
2) Academic philosophy. As to this form of philosophy, Wikipedia gives a definition: “Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.”
I did not study philosophy, so my type of philosophising appears to fall a priori in the first category. But I hope to be able to show by rational arguments based on my common sense, that both methods have their inherent flaws or at least are ultimately futile in their attempts to come to “correct knowledge”, in the sense that Patanjali uses the word in the Yoga Sutras. An analysis of Pramana, will have to wait until the end of this essay however.
As such this attempt is a kind of “philosophising about philosophy”, which makes it a kind of Meta-philosophy. Wikipedia defines this as follows: Metaphilosophy (sometimes called philosophy of philosophy) is ‘the investigation of the nature of philosophy.’ Its subject matter includes the aims of philosophy, the boundaries of philosophy, and its methods. It is considered by some to be a subject apart from philosophy, while others see it as automatically a part of philosophy.
In this sense my present meta-philosophical attempt is not futile, that -if it works out well– will save me from wasting time on futile future philosophising and possibly make clear which type of philosophising has utility for me. In this sense it is not part of academic philosophy, in that I intentionally choose to avoid the “generally systematic approach” of academic philosophy, whilst still relying on the rational argument.
One of the problems with the academic approach (as the ruling thesis of what philosophy is supposed to be) is that an essential part of its general systematic approach relies on providing new definitions of the terminologies used.
Although it is necessary to clearly know what one is talking about, academic philosophy often loses itself in a typical association-type think fever, the quagmire of semantics, leading to hopelessly long lists of definitions, before you have even started to reason. Although cumbersome, time-consuming and rendering the text to be read utterly boring, it seems an indispensable pre-condition.
But it often leads away from the very concept that one wants to study. Because every definition becomes a topic of philosophical study itself before one can get to the very concept that one wants to discuss. A kind of runaway of philosophical spin-offs of all the parts that are needed to describe a whole. This can lead to chicken-egg problems when definition of concepts are interdependent; where you need the chicken to define the egg and the egg to define the chicken, so that in the end you do not have a meaningful delimitation of either concept (and you can only merge the concepts into an interdependent meta-concept).
Because every terminology is described in terms of other terminologies, you get a repeating process where you probably can’t stop until you have given philosophical definitions of all the words in the dictionary. As academic philosophy is incomplete as regards this, it fails to properly apply its own methodology and is bound to work with common-sense and intuitive meanings of terminologies, sometimes without even being aware of that.
But there is a worse problem here: namely that the meanings of the very terminologies you wanted to use to describe a concept have been so distorted due to the academic defining process, that they are no longer suitable to define/describe/analyse that concept.
What we often see is that the accepted philosophical meaning of a terminology (i.e. accepted by the ruling paradigm in academic philosophy) is very far away from the instinctive or common sense meaning of that terminology. Whereas the original aim may have been to clarify an instinctive or common sense concept, the final concept with the same name that academic philosophy is describing is no longer identical to the topic that one wanted to treat. A serendipitously generated self-consistent piece of philosophy may have been generated, but the concept they deal with, the concepts they have defined, do not reflect well the instinctive or common sense meaning of that terminology. What Heidegger understands about “being”, “beyng”, “Dasein”, “Mitsein”, “Existenz” etc. has very little in common, with what you or I instinctively sense as the meaning of “being” and “existence”. The funny thing is that the academic philosophers are in a sense aware of these distortions, so that they use brackets, diacritical marks, and other symbols or slightly change the spelling of the terms like “beyng” (Heidegger) or “differance” instead of “difference” (Derrida).
Philosophers then have to go through a cumbersome process of discussing all different types of definitions given by different philosophers to a terminology, which terminology is for them the best approach of “instinctive concept” that they want to study, to finally try to give it their own subjective meaning. And I hope that this is done at all, because I get the impression, that much academic philosophy misses this point: that the philosophical process transforms the meanings of the concepts so much that it no longer corresponds to the original concept one wanted to ponder.
This shows that even academic philosophy is a highly subjective process. The meaning of terminologies is changing over time as the ruling paradigms change over time. Then there are attitudes of showing-off how smart and how complex one can reason. And it certainly doesn’t help to clarify things. You can only read academic philosophy texts if you’re a philosopher yourself, they are hopelessly complex and do not well describe the point the want to make. I certainly don’t feel attracted to this obligation of having to go through everything that has been said in the literature on a given concept before I can make up my own mind on it. I’ll even put it in stronger terms: This process stifles your ways of getting a clear understanding of a concept.
(No I don’t want to define “concept” at this moment).
Perhaps I can illustrate what I mean with the following: I had studied classical guitar for many years, when I wanted to learn how to improvise. In the beginning this was not an easy process, because I was biased by all the melodic and rhythmic fragments that I had automatised in my study. I had developed a kind of blind spot for the possibility of new combinations. A friend of me, who had just started playing guitar, was composing the most interesting melodies and rhythms in jazz and blues and largely outperformed me when it came to improvising in this style. I had to “learn” “a vocabulary” of “melodic phrases” (licks) in jazz and blues in order to be able to jam with him. But it took a very long time before I started to develop my own set of licks and before I was able to spontaneously improvise new licks in the process of playing, based on hearing and feeling. I had the disadvantage of the so-called head-start. And in a certain way, for every skill such a disadvantage of a “head-start” can be present, including in philosophy.
Laymen philosophy (as antithesis) as I already said, suffers from ill or fuzzy defined definitions and relies on a non-systematic way of reasoning. Every amateur philosopher has his/her own instinctive definitions, which he/she has not clearly defined in terminological framework. This makes it very difficult to communicate. As everybody has had a different education and a different life-experience, the instinctive meanings of words given by different persons do not match. This is the basic source of almost all miscommunication in the world: the false assumption that our personal and cultural dictionaries match.
You can try starting your own philosophical enquiry into the nature of your experience, but as long as at least for yourself you have not clearly defined for yourself what you mean by the terminologies you use in your reasoning, you are bound to end up with fallacies.
If you have the rigour of going through the definition process to build your personal philosophical dictionary and vocabulary and you are careful not to diverge from your instinctive concepts by the seductive flow of redefining terminologies in ways that they no longer correspond to your initial instinctive process, you end up with a pair of extremely subjective philosophical glasses. They may help you to understand yourself, but they are worthless to share in communication, because the set of definitions is probably so boring, that no one will ever take the effort to read them. (I conjecture that most readers who started reading this essay won’t even arrive at this point of the essay, because it is such a boring topic).
But at least you may have gained some insight in your usual fallacies, so that you can avoid them.
Then there is still the danger that your way of reasoning is not following the principles of what is academically understood of reasoning and that you are introducing fallacies in you line of reasoning because you are not even aware of these fallacies. Here is a list of commonly known fallacies (click on this link). I am not going too deeply into this topic. It is well-known that logic, the basis of reasoning has its own limitations. But at least there is a subset of logic, which when applied in a correct way, gives reliable results in the majority of cases. At least this part of academic philosophy is important to study and to incorporate as a mastered vocabulary. It is a pre-condition for any attempt to philosophise.
Anyway, it is not because there are parts of the philosophical process that are inherently sound, that therewith the whole become sound and non-futile. For the whole to be sound, all the parts must be sound. In other words, it suffices to undermine one part of the academic philosophical methodology in order to render it useless.
A more problematic issue with reasoning, than the “logical process”, is the fact that (both in academic and layman philosophy) the premises of the logical argument themselves have not always been proven to be sound, correct or true.
The layman is often even not aware that the knowledge about the premises used is incomplete and that therefore the premise is not necessarily true. Worse certain premises not only have not been verified, sometimes by their very nature they are unverifiable.
This problem reaches its culmination in “speculative premises”, which is hopeless starting point to build a solid argument.
This leads us to further difficult philosophical issues of what is “truth”, what is “proof” etc., which I do not want to define here.
The academic philosopher can avoid such issues by first going through the whole process of philosophy for each of these terminologies, ending up with definitions, which are perhaps internally consistent, but which do no longer “feel” like being representative of “truth” or “proof”.
But in science as an extension of philosophy many premises are speculative. The very concept of a hypothesis is based on speculating what might happen. Therefore the scientific method uses a methodology to prove a hypothesis.
One of the worst problems with science as an extension of philosophy is that it has never proven its most basic tenet: That something must be proven by the scientific method for it to be true. It is rather so by definition. But that is a kind of logical fallacy as well: to do away with a problem, by making the problem part of the definition.
I do not wish to enter the discussion of what “truth”, “proof”, “being”, “absolute”, “relative”, “reality”, “illusion” etc. mean, because that is part of a philosophy itself. The purpose of this essay is to shed light on the futility of philosophising as such.
One thing I do wish to say about science is that it is largely “inductive”: it suggests a pattern based on “strong evidence”, which gives it a certain probability. You get a cloud of dots and you connect the dots in a certain way, in which you derive an abstraction, a general trend of r a certain correlation of two observable parameters. But the way you connect the dots heavily depends on your hypothesis. Aliasing shows, that there is often more than one way to connect the truth, an unless you are aware of that, you may be tempted to draw a straight line through every cloud, where perhaps a polynomial, a hyperbole, a sine or another mathematical expression form would have been more reflective of the underlying reality. There is only one logical rational process that gives irrefutable outcomes and that is deduction. Induction can at best predict a probable outcome.
In fact the scientist is sometimes so strongly biased by the hypothesis, that he tends to neglect “outliers (out-liars?)” that do not fit his hypothesised truth.
Moreover, what you are seeking to prove, you will often find proof for that. But you may not be aware that you have neglected other essential parameters or that methodological fallacies have crept in. If you would have tried to prove the opposite, you might have found proof for that too. If you are so lucky to realise that there are multiple possible ways to mathematically model and explain a set of data, so that you generate a number of parallel hypotheses, then it is still difficult to figure out which one reflects the underlying reality the best.
Scientists then often use Occam’s Razor for this purpose, which states that the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected.
But that principle has neither been proven in any way, nor is it capable of revealing hidden assumptions in the hypothesis that seems to have the fewest number of assumptions. Perhaps if one would have known all the underlying assumptions, it turns out that this assumption was not the one with the fewest number of assumptions at all.
Is science then a futile and precarious undertaking? Should we discard philosophy and science because they inherently cannot give us certainty?
What I have done in this essay is shed doubt on science and philosophy to come to consistent knowledge about ourselves and the apparent world around us, which leaves no doubt. They do not seem fit for that purpose in an absolute sense, that we would know with certainty. But as long as they give us a pragmatic attitude and probabilities of likely success, a certain measure of predictability, via which we can make our lives more manageable and avoid misunderstandings, they are welcome to me.
Another positive point is that by philosophically realising that we have an experiential and interpretative bias, which gives us a subjective perspective on what happens, we can become more forgiving towards others. Others may have experienced the same event from a different angle, have different memories about the event (memories tend to fade and to transform over time) and most importantly a different cultural interpretation and different emotional experience of the event. As long as this is not clear to all parties, people tend to defend their “subjective truth”, often based on fear based, territorial or social motives they are not even consciously aware of. Worse, in such a process people sometimes attribute certain “intentions” to the person they have a problem with. These presumed intentions are purely speculative. We don’t know what is going on in the mind of somebody else. Even if accompanied by a certain body language, it is still interpretation. Unless you are telepathic it is guesswork one can better refrain from. When we realise that our “truth” is relative, we may become inclined to become more critical towards ourselves and more accepting towards others.
Another positive point of philosophical considerations as regards the working of the mind, is that we may start to realise that whenever we use (pseudo) rational arguments to defend a certain stance, these arguments are often driven by the wish to prove the desired outcome of the stance. That means that our selection of arguments is heavily biased from the onset. The most honest way to scrutinise a stance would be to start to find arguments and proof to defend to opposite stance. But even that is no warranty for success. As I already said, the “Prover” in us will find proof for what the “Thinker” thinks/desires. We are normally so strongly driven by our passions, that we have a blind-spot for the passion-driven selectivity as regards the arguments we provide. One may even question, if we have free will; if there is ever any instance where we overrule our passions. Because even if a rational argument would overcome the desire to appease e.g. a physical passion, one could argue that our passion for rationality at that moment has overruled us.
In a sense rational techniques when used for self-observation can be very useful, as long as we are aware of our potential blind spots. I have mentioned a few, but I suspect there are more of them, and obviously as they are unrevealed blind spots, for the moment I am not aware of them. Let’s hope that the rational self-observation of my underlying motives will reveal further. Any suggestions as to further blind spots are welcome.
There is also the issue that if one wishes to enjoy and experience life directly in a state of mindlessness, one must have cleared out all the mental and emotional blockages that prevent such a state. As far as I know myself these are usually the consequence of loops in the mind regarding unresolved psychological issues. You can only resolve such issues, if you are aware of them and if you are aware of your motives to allow them to persist. Whereas you can call self-analysis a form of psychology, the rational methodology you develop to do so is also a form of philosophy. It is not by trying to be mindless that you will reach a state of being mindless. The thought patterns that prevent the mindless state have to be worked out. In my humble opinion there is no better way than doing this exercise of self-analysis in writing. Writing clarifies the thought processes and makes your stance clear to yourself.
If you are a master of martial arts, music or art and you can work from that blissful state of mindlessness, that is certainly an advantage, both as regards the result and the enjoyment of the process of the act. But in order to become a master, one must go through a painful process of relentless practice. All the movements of sequences must have been automatised. It is usually only then that spontaneous improvisation will occur.
There are of course cases of prodigies that master skills without having learnt them. Also certain yoga techniques open areas where suddenly proficiency arises, without any trace in the practitioner’s life of having learnt the particular skill. However, such occurrences are extremely rare. Even if such an emergent skill is attained by yoga, at least the practitioner has put in the required flight hours in the practice of yoga. That practice of yoga did involve self-study (svadyaya), which is again a form of philosophising. So practice, at least for the layman appears to be generally indispensable.
Now my ultimate target of this metaphilosophical analysis was to see if philosophising in whatever way is a way to come to correct knowledge, pramana. Then we must see what Patanjali means by the terminology Pramana. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras I.7 we learn that pramana is the knowledge obtained by either direct sensory observation, inference (deduction and induction) or testimony.
With regard to direct sensory observation, we must be vigilant that our observation is not tainted by sensory illusions (such as optical illusions) or other types of hallucinations. As soon as interpretation enters the game, there is a risk of arriving at “incorrect knowledge”, which occurs when the mental concept and the sensory input do not match. If we can rule out sensory illusion, in such a case we can better question our mental concept.
Deduction is one of the major tools of philosophy. Here I agree with Patanjali, if it is done by deduction, this is a way to come to correct knowledge. I do not know whether the translation of the term “anumana” (inference) correctly covers the intent of Patanjali with word and whether Patanjali also meant inductive inference. As already said earlier, inductive inference gives a good likelihood of repeatability of a phenomenon, but no certainty. I strongly doubt whether Patanjali intended to include this meaning.
As regards testimony, one must be certain that the person testifying is a “truthful person”. This of course is slippery ice these days. I most certainly do not trust the vast majority of religious texts, because they are full of internal contradictions. The only way here is by direct contact with a person or a text that you have not been able to nab on untruthfulness or internal inconsistencies. And even then there is the risk of wrong interpretation. It seems advisable to try out the teachings yourself to verify if they also apply to you.
The knowledge that you then obtain is according to Patanjali “correct knowledge”. But we must still be aware that this is knowledge about how we experience the world. Our brain and senses filter information in quite an extreme manner, so that what is out there or the object of observation an sich (what Kant calls the noumenon) cannot lead to complete knowledge. We can extend our senses a bit with technical tools, but then we enter the realm of interpreting data, which is an unsure way to get “correct knowledge”. Perhaps meditative techniques, such as samyama (see Patanjali III.4), where subject and object merge can bring us almost complete knowledge of an object. I have a good hope that is so, because as of yet Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras have not revealed internal inconsistencies to me. But Patanjali never uses the word “complete knowledge”. In fact Gödel’s incompleteness theorem deductively shows that absolute “complete knowledge” is impossible. (Noteworthy, this contradicts the notion of omniscience of God as in western religions. However the Rg Veda, The Puranas and other Hindu scriptures do not claim omniscience of God. They state that God does not know all his energies and is always enjoying discovering them).
One of the last questions I’d like to address in this brainstorm is: how can you ever know, that what you experience is not a form of hallucination? How can you be sure that your thoughts are your thoughts and not thoughts fed to you by a puppeteer? I pose this question not so much with regard to daily life experience, but more as regards the so-called mystical experience. I guess that as long as our experience does not enable, empower us to manipulate “apparent reality” the assumed mystical experience can have been a hallucination. If it does empower us we can still be the puppets of a puppeteer we’re unaware of, but in that case that distinction probably won’t matter to us at all. Like a little child watching a demo of a video game who has the impression he is steering the car in that game, it is probably very joyful.
So as long as I am not a master in acquiring correct knowledge, it seems philosophy is still part of my game. Utile instead of futile. But I am aware that my incomplete analysis may have been biased by the desire that this was the very outcome of the argumentation, that my argumentation may contain flaws and fallacies (please point them out to me) and that I have not sufficiently scrutinised the opposite stance and quantitatively weighed the different opposing arguments in a balance.
For today I stop my brainstorming, and promise to work out a personal philosophical methodology in more detail, that allows for a fairer scrutiny of the opposite (the futile) stance. Although one thing is sure: we can never be sure that we have all knowledge to come to a fair balancing, so that it seems as per Gödel’s theorem and as per the blind spot to be able to see all possible vantage points, that the issue is ultimately undecidable. This notion then prompts me to continue to pragmatically apply my philosophy as long as I have no good reason not to do so.
Thank you for your patience, any comment is welcome,
Antonin Tuynman 27-08-2014