Psychologists deal with the slippery subject of mental states. Now, your general practitioner, who you see for your annual physical check up, can flirt with the treatment of mental states. She or he may prescribe you something for low-level anxiety or sleep but they generally only provide medication or a referral.
That is the standard physician approach: there is a tangible thing presented as the probable solution for any given health concen–medication to produce chemical changes within the body; an incision to physically pluck the ailment from the body; a replacement for a broken part, a lung transplant, for instance. A general practicier, however, cannot help with that root canal you’ve been ignoring.
Fair enough, right?
Human bodies are complicated meat sacks with numerous systems, pieces of anatomy, sensory receptor devices like eyes or tongues, and organs that keep it all going. So we see specialization (dentistry, gynocology, surgery, etc) and even specialized specialization (neurosurgeon, pediatrist, optometrist, etc).
Yet. those specialities related to mental wellness appear idiosyncratic in regards to both the doctor-patient relationship and the standards & management of patient care. Namely, the coordination of medication with therapeutic treatment sessions.
Historically, health praticicioners and society referred to mentally unwell folks as mental defectives, demonically possessed, undesirable, prophets, lazy, feeble-minded, and genetically undesirable
It is elusive to us in a way ‘physical’ illness is not
I can see a hairline fracture with x-ray technology and I can see lab results produced by the scientific testing of my bodily fluids, and the report advises the lab discerned a virus had invaded my system,accounting for my aches and pains.I cannot see Post Traumatic Syndrome; I can take someone’s blood pressure, I cannot quantitatively measure someone’s level of depression.
Perhaps this is why we feel the need to distinguish between ‘physical’ malady and ‘mental’ malady in the first place, as opposed to just calling all illnesses ‘illness.’
The connections wired throughout the physical brain, create a self and this self experiences the surrounding reality to the extent that the physical body remains in its proper working condition (good health).
The symptoms of mental maladies manifest via our behaviors in the way that anatomical and physiological maladies present in the body’s various organ systems.
Perhaps we cannot shake the idea that physical sickness is largely outside of a person’s control. If my appendix ruptures I cannot will it back together again, nor would anyone in their right mind expect me to be able to do so.
However, what if I won’t go to work because I believe an evil elf lives inside my mailbox and will kill me if I walk by it? Do you expect me to will myself to ‘get over it?’ If my sense of reality has ruptured somewhere within my perceiving mind am I anymore capable of willing it back together than I was capable of willing my appendix back together?
It is almost as though some area of my mind I am generally unaware of on a day to day basis is taking control over ‘me’ or whatever you call that perceiver who examines the thoughts of the mind and chooses which to act on, which to ignore, which to believe, etc. Think of autoimmune diseases whereby an afflicted individual’s immune system begins to attack good, healthy cells. Here an evolved physiological system goes haywire and attacks that which gives it being and existence in the first place.
Similarly, the mind can go haywire, and attack the mental state of the self. Having an appendectomy is an acceptable reason to take leave from work and family and to rest and heal. Taking these same allowances while working past the evil mailbox troll (with all it’s panic attack inducing, odd behavior causing, work/family missing consequences) until I no longer suffer from its alleged influence is a much harder sell to make to the rest of society at large. The idea of allowing people to openly profess and work through their own mental delusions does not always sit well with the rest of our cultural compadres.
This mental, existential type of malady requires a certain amount of comfort with the idea that we are not always in control of our minds that society, by virtue of it being society, cannot accept. Society forces us to constantly be in control of our minds. We pick up and send out cues to signal and follow other cues and behaviors such that our many independent parts become something larger than the sum of ourselves. Collectively we are one of Douglas Hofstadter’s ‘epiphenomena.’
Society’s existence requires the creation of, learning of, and obeying of accepted rules. These rules inform our mind in various situations, and we remember past situations which required us to follow these same rules and we use those memories to guide us to appropriately follow the rules this time, too. Thus society sets up a framework through which we can perceive others in relation to ourselves. More accurately, it is a system that allows us to see ourselves by juxtaposing your self against other selves, seeing your own idiosyncratic mind reveal itself in contrast to the minds of others , and we glimpse within those other minds that we can never open up and look inside. Thus society gives us a framework with which to perceive ourselves as individuals creating something bigger than our individual selves.
The idea that the mind could, at anytime, take that socially learned framework and distort it, terrifies and undermines society’s teleological purpose, which is to bring order to chaos. So society has a vested interest in defining what is real and what is not; what is expected and what is unacceptable; what a normal brain is and what a disordered brain is. But perhaps there is no such thing as a normal brain. We must be careful not to confuse the demands of society on an individual’s mind with the demands of natural selection or misfortune on an individual’s brain.
The radical cultural relativism popular in contemporary anthropological thought presupposes that cultures are incommensurable* with one another. On one level, this is true, on a higher level, it is a truism–they are still both ‘cultures.’ Cultures, as considered here, is a fundamental psychological mechanism that is included in the homo sapiens adaptive package.
This is not a reductionist call to arms. By reference to biology and physics, we anchor the human experiences to the same weight–we do so with awareness of the western biomedical paradigm which we in the western sciences use to see–we do not do so to reduce the human experiences to the same end or to the sum of their parts, as much as out of respect to those who would be upset were not to acknowledge our own self-awareness (I find this practice tedious and unnecessary, but I am pliable).
The elegance of anthropology is not to be found in the creation of axiomatic laws of culture nor can it be found with long-winded diatribes that can appear to be little more than an appeal to authority–not a legitimate data source.
Its elegance lies in its ability to elucidate the unseen and unseeable veil of the unknown and the unknowable. It is the notion of experiencing that meta-pattern which is the epi-phenomenon of our actions and thoughts and their innumerable interactions and influences. “Except in pure mathematics, nothing is known for certain (although much is certainly false).”(Sagan)
To tack the discussion back towards something more tangible, there exists a black and white distinction within the hard sciences in regards to what is scientific and what, conversely, is not scientific: does it meet the standards of the scientific method (is it repeatable, is it measurable?) Yes or no?
“Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don’t conform to our preconceptions.”(Sagan, a candle in the dark).
Whereas a biologist can confidently announce, ‘yes, this is so’ (assuming proper lab conditions and standards); a social ‘scientist’ cannot. A social scientist has reservations and restrictions: about the repeatability of the experiment and the repeatability of the experiment’s environment, about phantom variables that may not have been controlled for, about the success of maintaining objectivity during methodology.
The biologist’s evidence is ‘scientific’ by definition and thus the biologist’s conclusions are sure-footed, so to speak (even if they are not directly on the bull’s eye). The social scientist’s evidence is ‘take my word for it’ or ‘you had to be there’ (i.e. others have no way to verify the data or methodology and thus the social scientist’s conclusions are grasping at straws (even if the analogies appear to be commonsense).
(1) Whether the social scientist’s conclusions are correct in the ultimate sense, is not the the concern here. The concern is the social scientist’s conclusions are intuitions but there is not a whole lot in the way of objective evidence for the social scientist to point at and say ‘see for yourself.’
(2) The heart of what this blog tries to get at directly reduces to the phenomenon of a priori reasoning.
Many physicists, especially of the theoretical persuasion, use a priori reasoning and only afterward design and perform an experiment. But when social scientists, particularly anthropologists, use a priori reasoning they construct a paradigm or viewpoint, a perspective, from which they will watch the experiment as it unfolds. What they see and what they do not see will be determined by this a priori explanatory paradigmatic scaffolding. When someone later on questions this constructed meaning-making paradigm, you can point to the experiment; but, what has happened is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You decide what “culture” means scientifically, measurably, precisely, and consistently. To prove this definition you cite the experiment you performed using your personal or externally referenced paradigm of what culture is. But, your experimental evidence does not confirm or support your paradigm necessarily, it reflects the assumptions you made before you even began experimenting. You did not really learn anything, you saw what you set out to see.
I owe some references here and will cite sources shortly.
The word ‘paragon’ entered the cultural consciousness in the 16th Century.
noun: paragon; plural noun: paragons
a person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality.
“it would have taken a paragon of virtue not to feel viciously jealous”
mid 16th century: from obsolete French, from Italian paragone ‘touchstone used to discriminate good (gold) from bad,’ from medieval Greek parakonē ‘whetstone.’Original Source
Three places show widely dispersed, common usage of words expressing the bones of ‘paragon’.
Anyone who claims they don’t know the feeling of magic and terror that accompanies adolescence has surely forgotten.
My father completed his dissertation while I was a tyke; and, he, my Mom, and I lived in student apartments. I have only happy memories of this time.
I also have memories of seeing my father’s work: a bunch of weird symbols strung together forming what appears to be some alien form of writing. It was mathematical formulae, mathematical statements, mathematical symbols, constants, variables, imaginary, irrational. It was like musical notation is to writing. It was magic. I never saw most other adults using this language in my 3 year old, day to day goings on, so it was special magic.
The benefit of being in the same city as something like the University of Alabama is that nice, local intellectual atmosphere, lots of thinkers & questioners living within a very near physical proximity of one another and the local community
Looking back, however, the intellectual milieu associated with the university’s presence was more tolerated than embraced by the local community and only under the implicit understanding that the university had better also produce some fine athletic feats for large groups of people to enjoy watching.
Science is dangerous to religiousness in the South.
Scientific knowledge benefits mankind. It provides him a place in the world that is demarcating by very specific standards of measurement. It enables liberty of thought and provides the freedom to be wrong and not be ashamed. It is like music. Can we say that music and evolution are incompatible? Sure, but do we pat ourselves on the back when we say “apples are not oranges?”
Can we assert that science conceivably evokes that same sensation as that spiritual impulse that drives many to religion?
Eek, what an awkward thing to say. Let me talk about that esoteric bit for a moment. Religious texts frequently use moments of prophecying & revelation as themes associated with connecting to God/the divine: feeling the spirit; being touched; being moved; feeling grace, etc
The feeling of magic and the experience of being in the presence of something aweinspiring, is one described and experienced by both those in Academia and those in religious groups.
Whatever you choose to term this feeling and whatever causal force with which you choose to associate it, the sensation experienced appears to be the same one. The physical feeling of connecting to God and that physical feeling experienced through elucidating hitherto unknown/unobserved phenomenona via scientific methods, might be the same sensation. The actions of the mind have produced stimuli which the sense organs take in (like raw data into a computer) and convert into a physical and psychological experience via the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
Speaking personally, as child I believed in God in a way that an young person believes in Santa, superficially until deeper contemplation occurred. I have never heard God speak to me and am, in fact, quite jealous of those who ‘talk to the Lord’ or ‘hear Him.’
To those, I would ask-
“Why not me? I prayed as a child and did everything asked of me. What did science do to you guys anyhow?
To those who benefit from experiencing His existence, your patience with the rest of us and with a unaffiliated like me.
I don’t think you should give up on science. I also do not think you should take things so personally. Maybe some of us losers only know how to seek this “god” through scientific means (particularly, those of us who do not hear His voice). Well, if God does exist, God does not have to be knowable through science nor does He have to reveal himself to me. He could judge me for trying to see my world scientifically, but I would say that to not have tried to see my world through the paradigm of science would have been a blasphemous life for me.
Beauty is subjective, eye of the beholder. What I point to when I use the term ‘beautiful’ may not be the same as that to which you allude as beautiful. But, that phenomenon to which we are referring-that thing of which the alluded to objects possess-is beauty; and, that thing, beauty, is fundamentally experienced via phenomenon basic to each and all of us, .
How do we talk and/or should we? Does the animosity produce any observable or even foreseeable benefits? Can we and/or should we be pragmatic?
These are honest questions. I am not religious in the common sense. I prefer to think I have moments of insight that feel larger or more infinite than I could previously have imagined, but they usual arrive when I work with science and logic, or read certain pieces of writing.
But then college, and physical anthropology and the sweet processes of inductive and deductive logic took hold of me. I have been moved emotionally upon reading x, actually creating a proof to show that there is no highest number, upon reading The Glass Bead Game…..
Can science and religion reconcile? And, if they can, to what gain
The most recognizable voices from the scientific community engaged in the evolution/creationist debate include Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Lawrence M. Krauss among others. These scientists take an offensive approach to those peoples and groups who would deny science’s authority as a way of defining the world. They do this because of their belief that religious thought and reasoning are actively hurting our world. Now by ‘aggressive,’ I do not mean to imply these academics are threatening violence, nor are they harassing individuals unduly, but they are aggressive.
Activity: Please complete this sentence…
The aggressive scientist……
The subject of the sentence above does not resound with my individual conception of ‘scientists.’ Now, passionate, consumed, obsessed-these scientists I can imagine. But aggressive scientists? None spring to mind, with the exception of those scientists whom have been deemed Militant Atheists (by their religiously inclined counterparts) and this vilification tactic began within the last ten to 20 years.
This raises fundamental questions for me like-
cientific discovery can be hazardous to one’s health
I spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not I am right when me submits a proposition and ascribes it to be truthful; and, I then spend a lot of time worrying about whether it is important or even relevant to worry at all about a proposition being true or not.
I know that I do not know nearly as much as me thinks myself knows.
I do not know what is actually knowable for the me that I know as myself.
Thus, how can I ever know if what I think is right or wrong?
More importantly, if knowledge exists outside of my realm of perception, it does not matter if I am right or wrong, the closest or not.
This makes me spend a lot of time worrying about how anyone can act like they know anything. This terrifies me and myself because I do not want to live in a world whose existence cannot be perceptible.
But why does that terrify me? Shouldn’t it liberate me from the responsibility of trying to be right and seek truth all the time. If everything just is what it is; I could just be what I am or I could fret and fuss about proving that the my reality is knowable to me.
It’s just too scary to get dropped into a world and have no clue how you got there, what you are, and what will happen when you inevitably are not here anymore.
How familiar are you with nostalpogy?
Not at all? Yeah, me neither.
it does not exist (at least to my knowledge as of 10 FEB 2017). So, whatever it is that nosalpogy represents, it is something of which I cannot conceptualize. Moreover, I’m incapable of conceptualizing it. If no person can elucidate what nosalpogy is , if no one can help me see ‘it’ against the setting of everything else, then nosalpogy is nothing.
Get thinking about Russell & Whitehead’s attempt to derive all of mathematics from purely logical axioms and remember how Godel’s Sentence G (just one example).
Russell & Whitehead wanted to irrefutably prove that a consistent system based on a few simple assumptions (aka axioms), whose theorems can be listed by an effective procedure (i.e., an algorithm), is capable of proving all truths about the arithmetic of the natural numbers.
Well, they failed to achieve that goal, but that failure brought its own success and furthered theoretical mathematics. Godel demonstrated, for any such formal system, such as the proposed one of Russell & Whitehead, there will always be statements about the natural numbers that are true, but that are unprovable within the system. Godel then provided proof that the system cannot demonstrate its own consistency.
To give the gist without the jargon– I imagine a tube with 3 tennis balls inside. Now, imagine you have 3 box each filled with 10 of these tubes, each containing three balls. Each tube contains a set of three balls. Each box contains a set of 10 tubes; another way to say this is, each box contains a set of 30 balls. So a set of 3 boxes is a set of 90 balls or a set of 30 tubes.
Imagine I am shipping out boxes of tennis balls. On each shipping pallatte, a set of 4 boxes, each containing three boxes of tennis balls, can be packed That means a pallatte contains a set of 360 tennis balls which is equal to a set of 90 tubes which is equal to a set of of 12 boxes. The pallatte can also hold a set of 4 boxes each holding 3 boxes.
The point is, I can define a set of tennis balls many ways. I can also imagine a set of sets of tennis balls (a box = 10 tubes and 10 tubes = 30 balls). A box is a set of tubes and a set of tubes is a set of tennis balls.
So if I can imagine of box of tubes containing tennis balls; and, if I can imagine a box that contains several boxes of tubes of tennis balls, and so on…at what point do hit the top? At what point do I reach the highest possible set? Never. I can always conceive of one more box around boxes just as I cannot name the highest number-I can always imagine one more.
Apologies-work in progress-researching underway.
Being a member of society requires behaving in specific ways and performing specific actions. By doing so, you and I reaffirm not only, that our society actually exists, but also, that you and I (the individual entities) belong to this society. As members of society, we also do certain things that exclude other individuals. Now, this may read as more antagonistic or cynical than I intend. Ultimately, it is the excluding and ‘othering process’ that validates a culture’s solidarity and solidarity is a necessary condition for the existence of the social phenomena.
THE CONTEXT OF THIS DISCUSSION IS EVERYTHING, AND THE PRESENTED ARGUMENTS SHOULD NOT BE SEEN AS SUPPORT FOR ANY GROUP OR ETHOS THAT PROMOTES THE EXCLUSION OF OTHERS. DIFFERENT DOES NOT EQUAL WRONG OR VIOLENT. IN FACT, THE MORE EXPOSURE TO OTHERS YOU EXPERIENCE, THE MORE YOU COME TO KNOW YOURSELF AND THE MORE YOU ENRICH YOUR CREATIVITY.
To know your society, you must know what is not your society.
Has anyone ever asked you what something was or what something was like or how it could be best described?
And, did you ever hear yourself say, “it would probably be easier to tell you what this what not!.”
Empathizer: So, I know what a hipster is, but what is a shoe-gazing, bird watcher?
Whiner: He’s not your stereotypical hipster douche wearing a lady’s scarf and a sports coat over torn jeans and t-shirts. He’s not an arty, magic realist steam punk kinda of hipster either.
Empathizer: Ooh Ooh, is it that heavy set hipster guy that has unruly hair and full mustache, beard, and neck beard? You know, the ones that wear the light blue denim jacket that was his grandfather’s and a pair of navy jeans that have been steam ironed, with some arty (but mostly comic strip looking) ironic T-shirt. Like a bright yellow shirt that has “you’re brilliant at everything you never tried” embossed over the knitted applique of a beret-wearing, cigarette smoking, French Mongoose standing in front of the Eiffel Tower?
Whiner: Oh oh, almost, but this kind of hipster is not fat, he’s usually real lanky, always wears white t-shirts like he doesn’t care, but he still spends just as long as the sorority girl does to get ready to go out on the town. Can grow, like, a five o’clock shadow but barely muster a lady’s mustachio- like, we’re talking early menopausal mustache fuzz at best here.
Now that I imagine ‘not good,’ (or now that I can imagine what is not a shoe-gazing, bird watching hipster) I find myself with pieces comprising the concept ‘good’-good & not good.
Why must I include ‘not good’ in my conception of ‘good’? Because, it is only by virtue of the existence of things that are not ‘good, by which I can conceptualize ‘good.’ If there is nothing that is not ‘good’; if everything is ‘good’, why would I need the concept ‘good’ at all? Could a concept ‘good’ even exist in those circumstances?
“Bad’ is simply the negation of ‘good.’ If I know if something is ‘good,” I know if something is “not good.’ I know this concept is meaningful, because other members of my culture agree and see the differences too. Because we agree that things can be described as ‘good’ we express meaning when we talk to one other about ‘good’ things. We communicate information and understand.
So, we can take a step further and say
Bad = Not Good
Good = Not Bad
Or, on a larger scale, we could imagine:
GOOD = good + not good GOOD=bad + not bad
BAD = good + not good BAD = good + not good
The words in capital letters represent that entire meaningful content (epiphenomenon)connoted by the concept of ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ The words in lowercase letters represent the pieces of that totality that is represented by the capitalized words. So from ‘good’ we can produce two concepts: good and bad. Each term meanings requires the existence of what the other term represents.
“That was good!”
“What does ‘good’ mean?”
I could try to describe it to the inquirer by describing times and things that are good, but that means that I can imagine things and times that are not good. By remembering the variation in emotional reaction to ‘good’ or ‘bad’ stimuli, I am able to ‘decide’ if something is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ I am also able to understand, through metaphor and simile, what others mean when they describe something as good.
But such a black and white, either/or, mutually exclusive, definition of the terms, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can only exist in the abstract, intangible form, at the collective or social level. We, as actual individuals, not abstract, averaged, idealized hypotheticals, cannot define the terms so concretely. Whereas society may only see in black and white, we atoms of a society, at the very least and to varying degrees, see some grey in between.
So, what makes a concept meaningful things carrying encoded information to some audience? The thing being expressed must be a thing/experience/etc recognized by the audience. It must be something the audience can point out in contrast to those things that are not the same thing. So meaning requires knowing what is and is not the knowledge in questions’s object. To know what ‘fat’ is I can show you fat and not-fat in way that you identify as typical or true.
So a concept is composed of those things that is and those thing from which it is distinguishable.
So then, does that mean that meaningful concepts refer to the total of everything that is ‘that thing’ and everything that is ‘not that thing?” No. For a concept to be meaningful, it is the degree and variance in tension of those things that are and those things that are not the concept which bestows meaning on any given concept.
When you name something as a good thing, my consciousness relies on the tension of good versus not good in order to infer your intended meaning. The meaning produced is greater than the sum of its parts. A concept we consider meaningful is not simply the total of what it is and what it is not. If I understand your intended meaning, it is because the code you used to express meaning (the word ‘good’ in this instance) resonates with the tension maintaining my understanding of the concept good. That tension exists by virtue of my ability to distinguish between other instances of things I believe to be good and not good.
Both you and I, as separate individuals, come to know, respectively.
I will use the 1st person plural pronoun form us when discussing the internal process by which we all come to know something new. All homo sapiens develop a perceptual algorithmical apparatus that we derive for ourselves in an attempt to approximate our personal and internal/etic understanding of what it means to know a thing. Unceasingly, all of us are trying to get as close as possible to a fuller, more elucidated map and definitions of the cultural domains of knowledge. Another way to say cultural domain of knowledge is ‘those areas of semantic space within which meaning is culturally assigned to varying degrees relative scus to perceive pattern and meaning when presented with a veritable melee of assailing stimuli (soundwaves, air current, language,
WHAT IS MEANT BY KNOWING: (1)conversion of stimuli to sensation and the subsequent conversion of sensation to perception the domains of knowledge that
The collective, interactive we, (we = the epiphenomenon occurring when you and I engage our individual intelligences (the cultural mores, our idiosyncratic constructions of all the cultural domains that comprise and inform our perceptual apparati) in meaningful ways.
Noise is what initially occurs if I use only my words to communicate meaning to someone else and this someone only speaks languages completely foreign to me.
Talking is only accomplished if the speaker and listener are “on the same wave length.”
Talking is the doorway to another realm wherein meaning procreates (two individuals engage their individual perceptions and systems of perceiving. The two individuals are taking a leap of faith and assuming that their respective, conscious worlds are sufficiently similar such that the listener is close enough in , celebratory , consolidation, and I COME TO KNOW-MY UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT IT IS TO KNOW WHAT IS MEANT BY ANY GIVEN THING-REVELATION, FLUIDITY, PLACE HOLDERS AND SUBSTITUTE PLAYERS. I COME TO KNOW CULTURAL DOMAINS OF COMMUNICATION (OF WHICH THERE ARE AN INFINITE NUMBER OF, FUZZILY BOUNDED SPACES COMPRISING INDIVIDUAL DOMAINS OF KNOWLEDGE.
1. .DOES KNOWLEDGE HAVE TO BE TRUE.
2. KNOWLEDGE IS OBTAINED YET ALREADY AND ALWAYS AFTER PRESENT IN ME.
Of What “i” Know, I Know.
Of What “i” think, I think, I think
On Knowing what knowing means and what it means to Know.
On Knowing how to Study Knowing
Of Knowing what is means to know what it is to study knowing.
Who is I the Knowing = You
An observable I that can come to be known
The Unknowable I, the experience of being
VII. Our Perception: what “we” see is how “i” come to know
VIII. What “we” cannot know
IIX. What I Cannot Know.
≬ Academia could stand to reconsider their current terminology or at the least review and reexamine the terms in usage.
Each sub-discipline has its own lexicon of jargon. The technical terms of each sub-discipline are used to reference ethereal, only vaguely defined “things” whose empirical reality is sometimes questionable. Just because we cannot prove something exists with the scientific method, we do not “prove” that the thing or our hypothesis is not real or incorrect. Put another way- I decide to scientifically test the hypothesis that God is a real, existent entity, phenomenon or some variation thereof. I can start with “primary sources” like the Bible, Koran, or any religious/philosophical text “commonly accepted” to be direct communication from “God,” according to authorities within and member of various groups.
I can pray, meditate attempt to communicate with God directly myself. But this is no good, because even if I make direct contact, unless God is willing to reveal himself publicly to the world, then even though I may have proved the hypothesis to myself, I have not proven the hypothesis according to the standards of the scientific method. Say I bring over a friend and say, “you’ll never believe it, check this out,” and then I try to “speak with God.” He answers andI ask if he would mind saying hi to my friend Bob who is a huge fan and God is great so he says Hi to Bob. Bob then says “He is real. You were right. Oh my god. Yikes, I didn’t mean to take your name in vain, can you ever forgive me?”
“Wait, I looked this up earlier and the unspoken rule is as long as you really love Jesus, feel sorry enough for the sin you committed and/or explicitly take Jesus as your “savior,” or get saved by a company employee he totally has to forgive you for like everything.”
“Oh please, I am “God” with a capital G, and you said “god” with a lower case g. These are two different words. One is a word you can use in Scrabble and one you cannot. Like, “peter” is a verb that happens to be a common Western name too. So you could play “peter” but not “Peter” in Scrabble. Well “god” is a noun describing a supernatural authority-it’s “what” I am to you people. “God” is my name, it is how you address me-it’s “who” I am. She’s right you know, that is the rule. But you can be forgiven/saved whatever and still not pass into my kingdom when your body wears out. You actually have to believe in me. You can’t just say you do, like you did with Santa Claus so you could still get extra presents. Telling people you believe in me won’t fool me because I know everything and anything already. Doing everything like someone who actually believes in me, does not fool or appease me. So these fine folks have to figure out how to make themselves believe in something that they don’t think is real. How do you convince someone that I am real when it is impossible to prove that I exist? You can’t. I can prove I exist when and where I want to but you guys, it’s literally impossible for you to have evidence of my existence, and that because you are literal beings with physical bodies and individual divisions between you and other individuals and between you and the world around you. Meanwhile, I am you and the others, and the world, and universe, and everything else that you know and I am not that because I am still greater than the combination of those things. I am somehow more than the sum of my parts. As a part, you don’t see understand that you are in a machine designed as an entity containing minute parts that work together to systematically produce a desired result. When you see a marquee with flashing lights and messages and colors in Las Vegas, you see red, yellow, The, Grand, Casino, you see changes in the pattern that are predictable and familiar. You see colors everywhere and so does everybody else and they seem to match up with the colors you see. You see words everywhere in this day, things are constantly trying to feed you information.
If you are a lightbulb in the Las Vegas marquee, you turn yourself on and you turn yourself off at pre scheduled intervals as a piece of a system and as a part of the system you have a responsibility that if not performed will affect the performance of every other piece and the final result. You do not even fathom that the place where the aforementioned person is watching the fruits of his labor could exist. He doesn’t know that his “system” has a goal or that there is a higher form emerging from the system that he cannot see as a part of the system, he just works all the time. Every day, it is turn off, turn on, turn off, turn on. Oop, Josh just turned off and on two times in a row so I know I have to turn off…riiiiigghht……..now! There is surely nothing bigger than this world around me. Dumbass!
Well Effie decided to find out if God existed using the scientific method.
She read all the primary sources about God first, but quickly realized they offered no facts, merely clues. The evidence was all anecdotal at best. Most of it was simple appeal to authority-the weakest foundation that the heavy weight of truth can sit upon without crushing. They did all suggest that direct communication with God was possible and the mere attempt thereat was almost encouraged-it was encouraged even when the attempt had failed frequently and consistently.
If you saw a person cut themselves once, you would assume it was an accident, twice and you might be optimistic and say they are clumsy or dumb, thrice and the most generous of us can say “yeah that chick’s a space cadet.” Imagine a child that grew up on a planet with no sharp edges. Now imagine you saw the child alone and picking a knife up by the blade because he had not ever handled a knife before.
Now, it is the next day and you see the child pick up the same knife and cut himself and still be surprised and saddened by the pain. Now imagine it is the third day, and the kid picks up a different knife on a desk in another room with the same result. Now it’s five days later, same thing happens. You are probably questioning the child’s mental reasoning ability. Now imagine it is the 10,950th day in a row that you have watched this person pick up a knife by the blade and surprised and confused that they were cut-almost like after each previous cut but right before the following re-attempt, the person pauses and thinks to themselves, “this is the one. this is the one where something different happens. the result will be different this time.” Otherwise, how are they still surprised that picking up a blade by the blade results in a cut or pain, right? Like, how could you pick the knife up that way every day for 40 years and not realize at some point: “un momento por favor, eureka, moment of clarity! If I try to manipulate this object by making contact on this shiny thin edge with the nice fat tomato heart that is the center of my thumb and then applying not only pressure to the aforementioned point of contact but also by sliding the blade along a complimentary vector plane that is parallel and adjacent to the vector plane containing the point of contact, your thumb
(In my mini-model of empirical, quantifiable and qualifiable reality ((which is the reality to which we can really say anything meaningful about-an acceptable imagining of a common skeleton key from which the axioms inherent and central to all sub-disciplines of social science may be derived)) (((which is a really not concise way of expressing the same thing that is suggested by each of the following sentences: You can talk about running a marathon oil barrel roll sky but those words sound like nonsense to me. I asked her if she thought this top looked cute or if it made me look fat, and was all like, “ooooh yeah, that top is soooo hyper cool but it does make you look kinda heavy, you know, relatively speaking.” And so I’m like “thayyynks, but in my brain, I’m all like, “way to not have an opinion. Like what, are you so insecure that you too afraid to say whether I look good or not in a shirt?
On the other side of the room, Karen tells her friend discreetly but with clear excitement:
“Karen Schmelky totally just asked my opinion about what she was wearing?! She asked if thought her top was cute or not, so like, maybe she digs my fashion style, you know, if she decides to ask me, of all people, if her top is cute or not. But she also asks, does it make me look fat. So I’m like freaking out on the inside that she’s even talking to me about this kind of stuff but I don’t wanna show her that i’m all geeked about it. I totally didn’t wanna come off like the losers in her posse that just like agree with whatever she says all the time, so I look at the top for a minute without saying anything or smiling and then i’m all like, “oookay, yeah-the top istotally hyper cute but it does make you look a little heavier than you really are.” All dispassionate and quiet like I consult on people’s wardrobe’s so frequently that it doesn’t phase, surprise or excite me anymore and no, i could totally careless about making sure everyone heard my opinion because i don’t care whether they think i’m cool or not, but on the inside i’m all, “of course I wanna everybody to hear me and see me giving you fashion advice, socially speaking, that would be the shit!
In my mini-model, there is always one phenomenon: the method of contact-the observer, you, me, the person experiencing the reality that he is trying to define comprehensively, the lens through which any other phenomena will be assessed and examined. The consciousness of the individual that is trying to speak about things it observes. The sensory experience and perspective of the individual that is “explaining” “facts” and “truths” about “the universe” at large to me.
In my mini-model, if I tried to say anything definite about a vacuum or an absence of space itself, I could not do so. Any result produced, hypothesis supported, or truth pronounced must be consistent and complete with the axioms I have used to build my mini-model. Axiom is a fancy word that basically means assumption, or more specifically axioms are sort of like the underlying assumptions that must be made to build any type of explanatory apparatus or model. Sometimes, like in mathematics, assumptions are explicit. To begin any mathematical derivation you start by listing your axioms. While sometimes, the assumptions are so stealthy that the creator of the model doesn’t even realize they’ve been used. Sometimes, these same assumptions will lie dormant for decades before anyone realizes the assumption was even there at all. For example, you remember how freaked out everyone got when someone tried to tell them the world was round. Like tried toshow them over and over the world was round. I’m talking about even teach them how to be able to see it for themselves. For all practical purposes this guy built a rocket and gave rides everyday, all day that took “people” literally around the world so they could see it with their own eyes.
His audience’s reaction indicates both their axioms or assumptions about the “world,” suggests they are largely unaware of the existence of these assumptions within themselves, and at least suggests that they recognize at some level, the truth or “undeniability” of what they are being told. The anger, fear and outrage that his “discovery” spawned indicates the strong motivation that non-believers have to defame, disprove, rebuke, and exile all scraps of the “discovery’s” credibility. Elementary school made sure that I can recall that grass get its color from chlorophyll which it requires during photosynthesis, the metabolistic algorithm of plant life. When I make that proclamation: I present evidence for the presence of chlorophyll in plants, i prove how chlorophyll makes grass turn the color it does, i even explain why chlorophyll is present in plants.
When you got that explanation (or the abridged elementary school version all public school kids have gotten for fifty years) did they present proof that plants possess color? no, that would be like saying “would you like me to prove to you that i asked you if you’d like me to prove to you that i asked you would you like me to prove to you?” Did they prove that green is a color? No, because you know you know green is a color. Even if you are colorblind and can’t perceive it, you know that “green” is a color. Did they prove to you that everyone sees “the same color” when they look at grass? How many plants would they need to reference before you would believe the axiom “grass is green.” Like two, and only for posterity and archaic practices that lost their value long ago.
provide that absolute certainty will always elude us
Provide that absolute certainty will always elude us.
“lN DAILY LIFE, WE ASSUME AS CERTAIN MANY THINGS WHICH, ON A CLOSER SCRUTINY, ARE FOUND TO BE SO FULL OF APPARENT CONTRADICTIONS THAT ONLY A GREAT AMOUNT OF THOUGHT ENABLES US TO KNOW WHAT IT IS THAT WE REALLY MAY BELIEVE.”EVE.”
Science and religion are presented as two paradigms, as distinct and mutually exclusive worldviews. The general resonance of the debate between the two worldviews sounds aggressive and emotional.
These domains are not necessarily engaged in a binary opposition. They are, simply, two of innumerable types of social structures, existing presently. The ‘faith’ of individual members of society is differentially distributed between and amidst both the society’s social institutions as well as the sources of assumed authority.
Reconciliation of science and religion serves us all best and acknowledging that (1) science is a very useful way of talking and thinking about the world, that clearly delineates those things about which it is and is not capable of addressing, (2) as human beings, we are meaning making machines, but all beliefs require a leap of faith, and
(3) the purposes of science and those of religion differ-science seeks to serve the empirical while religion seeks to serve the incorporeal.
Currently, religion and science are locked in a struggle for social power; and by ‘social power,’ I specifically mean the authority and power to inform the public with ‘true’ explanations of the world. “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source or spirituality….The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.” (Carl Sagan)
You know the dismal depression that follows the finishing of a fantastic story?………………Okay, now that the uncool folks have left this post, you and I can really talk.
The below my proposed remedy to being booksick. ‘Booksick’ does not capture it, but it’s the best I’ve got at the moment. Any ideas on what to call the bitter-sweetness of finishing an amazing books?
Chaos: Making A New Science, James Gleick
Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, Steven Johnson
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, James Gleick
Complexity:The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Choas, Mitchell Waldrop
Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas Hofstadter
Perfectly Reasonable Deviations…: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman
Soul of the Age: Selected Letters of Hermann Hesse, 1891-1962, Hermann Hesse and Mark Harman
Frances and Bernard, Carlene Bauer
Dear Committee Members, Julie Schumacher
Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience edited by Shaun Usher
The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse
The Great and Secret Show, Clive Barker
Ghost Story, Peter Straub
House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski
The Confessions, St. Augustine
Certainly a dog has more self-awareness than do insects.
A dog displays a sense of self during interactions with a dog pack. A hierarchy exists within a pack and every member knows its position. For this to occur, the dog must have an awareness of things existing outside and independent of itself. The dog must also conceptualize its life relative to the lives of other dogs.
A dog adjusts its own behavior in response to the behavior of another dog. The two dogs are working together. They are aware of their own existence and the existence of others.
The rules of the pack hierarchy are tacitly accepted, known, and enforced by all members of the pack. The dogs create something appearing quite similar to a little society-a system of interactions collectively conspiring to create a greater likelihood of survival and reproduction than pack members could expect were they to live alone.
Dogs seem to have selves because cooperation has been/is selected for in the milieus within which dogs exist/ed. A dog does not have the faculty or facility for language, nor does it have an opposable thumb. These are two things possessed by humans alone. These are two things making us unique. Yet still, the self-awareness of dogs seems of a different substance than your, mine and everyone else’s self-awareness.
I assert self-awareness is a condition required of mammals. I assert self-consciousness is a phenomenon separate from consciousness (i need to define consciousness here). I assert that humans are the sole possessors of consciousness but that this is and always has been subject to change. I proclaim self-awareness and its interactions with the reality in which it finds itself produced the conditions under which consciousness could arise. I say human consciousness is the evolutionary product of self-awareness experiencing reality through sensory organs. Further, it was these interactions occurring within the valleys and peaks of a very, particular fitness landscape and that these interactions, over time, created a milieu in which it was advantageous to have a more refined and intuitive awareness of self and the local environment. By advantageous, I mean, a more sophisticated self-awareness created more opportunities for survival until a reproductive age, more opportunities to reproduce at that age, and a better ability to ensure the survival and health of offspring until they grew.
I proclaim that self-awareness enabled society. But it was the complex system of interactions occurring between and among the social structures of a society and the humans whose interactions make up that society, which selected for the phenomenon which we call human consciousness.
Self-awareness led to society and society led to increased and more refined self-awareness. The further interactions of selves and society produced a complex system whose interactions resulted in the two novel epiphenomena we call “culture” and “consciousness.”