Feb 16Liked by Helen Dale, Lorenzo Warby

Enjoyed this in a head-exploding kind of way (if that makes sense).

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Feb 16Liked by Helen Dale, Lorenzo Warby

This was a fascinating and insightful essay. I wonder if the coherence horizon has implications for the nature of reality. Neither consciousness nor language are capable of really encapsulating it; at the same time, literally false traditions can be functionally true. Which then is the deeper truth? Logos or mythos? Or is that the wrong way to think about the question - better perhaps to think of both being true in their own sense, with a larger, more unified and mature conception of truth found in their unity or superposition?

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Feb 16·edited Feb 16Liked by Helen Dale, Lorenzo Warby

Some food for thought:

The problem of infinite regress in the philosophy of mind is due to missing an independent direction for arranging events. We know we are doing this when we use words such as "emergentism". As an example the one dimensional representation of the letter O might be: .___._.___ .___.___ ._.___. This is not the same as an "O". If we stack the five sets of dots the letter O "emerges" in two dimensions. Certainly we can compute with a one dimensional representation of an O but we cannot have the real O unless we use at least two dimensions.

There is at least one dimension missing from the usual attempts at an ontology of consciousness: time. The extended present moment is not specious. It exists in all of us and allows whole morphemes to be present.

The standard argument against the "specious" present is that the future cannot be present now but that only applies to the future and present of events occurring at the same place. If time exists as a direction for arranging events then it is feasible that future and present events could be co-existent at another place. Several authors have spotted that four dimensional pseudo-euclidean geometry permits observation points that could host connections between events at different times but the idea has never gained traction.

The religious significance of these musings is that the reality of being human might be largely geometrical, where time is an existent direction for arranging events (how much could you know at any instant if this were not the case?). Perhaps the Buddhists are right: considering processes to be important might be a delusion because they are no more than a support for the bodily machine that hosts our consciousness. Gaming others would then be absurd behaviour by the ignorant.

Then again...

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Awesome, seriously impressed on just a quick skim -- I could get lost for days just following threads and links. 🙂

But while there's far too much there to read, much less digest in a mere 14 minutes -- as Substack informs us -- the theme and Helen's "adumbration" ( 🙂, lovely word, rolls off the tongue rather nicely) -- i.e., how and why we think what we do -- deserves at least a preliminary comment or two.

But relative to the subtitle -- far too conscious of being conscious -- I'm reminded of a quip from Richard Feynman, though I seem to recollect reading it much earlier in a book on Zen:

"A centipede was happy quite, until a toad in fun

Said, 'Pray, which leg comes after which?'

This raised his doubts to such a pitch

He fell distracted in the ditch

Not knowing how to run."


Much of our "thinking" tends to be on auto-pilot; giving much thought to how and why we do so often leads to losing that ability in the first place. 🙂

But it is also rather essential, particularly since we don't realize how much of it is based on vanities -- saith the Preacher -- or on self-deceptions, or on unexamined assumptions that can be rather fatal indeed. Bit of a hazard in questioning our premises and assumptions -- like cutting the ground out from underneath our own feet. However, that "self-deception" is something of a murky and questionable concept -- not that humanity isn't prone to that potentially "fatal flaw" -- since, as Trivers suggests, there is often some evolutionary value in holding, in abeyance, one's disbelief.

More particularly, one might reasonably argue that such disbelief is foundational, not just to much of literature, but also to science whose guiding principle is, more or less, the postulating of hypotheses and conjectures; for example, see P.B. Medawar's lovely "Art of the Soluble". Although science is generally joined at the hip with testing those hypotheses, as painful as that process often is -- as Thomas Huxley put it: "The great tragedy of science -- the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."

However, the pitfall -- in both cases -- is losing one's handle on "reality" which is often rather tenuous, indeed. Science tends to have a built-in principle that helps to maintain that connection, but sadly, many of the humanities -- the other half of Snow's Two Cultures -- and particularly these days in the era of the Woke, seems bound and determined to sever that connection. Somewhat apropos of which, my earlier post at Medium on the fundamental dichotomy between reality and illusion, between substance and appearance, between "being X" and "identifying-as X":


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"As we are story-loving beings inclined to connect intentions directly with outcomes, it can be hard for us to keep clear that what is structured in a way that has an effect may not be intended (consciously or otherwise) to have that effect."

You have touched on something very interesting here. I could never figure out what other people always seemed to somehow effortlessly know - which is the intentions behind an action. Since I could never be certain of my own intentions, I never knew how other people could be certain of their own intentions, not to mind other people's. And yet what people intend is such a common, but to me mysterious, subject of conversation, that I had to conclude that I must suffer from some sort of "intention" equivalent of colour blindness.

In particular, I have never known what to make of the idea that harm caused can be mitigated by the fact that a person had good intentions.

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