solipsism |ˈsälipˌsizəm| noun
the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.
This dialogue started on Facebook, where I made a posting about the book Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander, and evolved into a fascination dialogue about life, the universe and everything.
Acquaintance and science fiction writer, Daniel Jeffries, who is be a fellow member at 3rdSpace, the co-working space in San Diego I work at (by day, philosopher at night), was my philosophical dueling partner.
Eric Platt OK that’s the 4th person who has mentioned the book “Proof of Heaven” to me. It’s really amazing and rather interesting too see how many people this guy has suckered. But he’s very smart and creative, and has made a mint off it, with appearance on Oprah and whatnot.
I wanted to believe it, when a friend loaned me the book; or rather hoped his claim held up. I’m open to such an accounts, partly because of an NDE I had in my 20s, which was extremely profound, though nothing like his. But something about it seemed not quite right: the extended and detailed fantasy quality of it, how well it played into what the audience wanted to hear, and that the book was called “proof” which is a was a bit … overblown shall we say – a very bold claim for something that has defied proof, even in theory. This is a book aimed at popularity, not truth or science or philosophy.
Fortunately, this fraudster has been debunked. Not that it has hurt his career or popularity much!
However it’s a beautiful demonstration of thought systems in action – human beings believing what they want to believe and confirming what they already think – just too bad the context is taking advantage of people’s gullibility, lack of critical thinking, and plugging into their religious beliefs.
Daniel Jeffries It’s very simple, nobody knows what’s on the other side. Anyone who tells you do is by definition lying or deluded or both. There have been some great books on both positive and the less reported negative experiences and they are compelling and interesting but they are just what it says on the tin: near death, not death. Nobody has ever come back from real death and reported and they never will. Cosmic consciousness, NDEs and other forms of non ordinary knowing do not get us anywhere closer even though we wish they did. We die. Simple. Probably nothing on the other side. Just gone. And if there is something there is not a single human who knows what that is. That’s just the harsh reality. We only wish it was different and that opens the door to my old friend Maya.
Eric Platt From my experience with an NDE, it opened the doors to the possibility that time and space and the self are an illusion, and one is released from duality at such non-times. But I can’t prove anything, and the research (from this side of the veil) is still inconclusive (have a look at Pim van lommel Lancet “the study of patients with near death experiences”). Maybe it always will be, Or maybe the materialist program will at some point exhaust all possibilities for people’s experience having a neural basis, and we will have to concede there’s something else going on, and there’ll be a paradigm shift in science. Again, I don’t know.
It reminds me of the situation of trying to explain consciousness with all these models and theories that were themselves originally products of creative thinking via a non-rational intuitive process (though that’s not admitted), and ending up with models for a kind of thought process that you were using and assumed to be the only real or worthwhile one that exists: a kind of analytical problem-solving machine thinking. It just throws you back on the same basic questions or views or assumptions about *what are we* and *who are we*. You end up with whatever you started with. That’s why I left the academic philosophy department. It was just a big career game, that led nowhere as far as finding out much worthwhile for living life, or creating anything new, valuable, or beautiful (there are probably healthier departments than the one I was at though, admittedly). The debate still rages on with the same philosophers I studied with: http://www.integralworld.net/lane67.html
Daniel Jeffries The death of all philosophy is solipsism. All we can ever figure out is I Am. After that all philosophies if followed to their logic end point lead nowhere. So best to say I don’t know and just live. There is no final philosophy. Nobody will ever figure out it because it cannot be figured out.
Eric Platt Assuming for the moment that you actually believe that: I remember playing with solipsism or idealism when I was a senior in high school (the idea or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist) – the way I put it at the time was that life could be a dream and there’s no way of telling that it’s not. And I told that to a classmate friend in physics class who got pretty upset. At first he objected to it strongly emotionally, got down on his knees, acting out that he felt (I guess) it was pretty fatalistic. But then later his real objection was more common sense, that the world doesn’t change. All the objects and physical laws and conditions are the same, invariant. The sky is still blue and you hit one object with another and the other goes careening off. And Ronald Reagan was still on TV being a weird idiot. You wake up each day, your back still aches, your house is still a mess, and that project is still overdue, whether you want it be that way or not. Dreams have a very different quality to them. They are in constant flux, and if you are dreaming lucidly, you have control over them.
And if you think about it, there are a lot of inconvenient truths, to steal a phrase, about reality as it seems to be. Someone breaks your arm, and it hurts and take a long time to heal. If you created that, why did you do it, unless you are insane? If someone or someone else created it, then there are two things, and your unitary solipsism is now more complicated.
Unfortunately there does seem to be an objective world. And people have enough common sense to realize that.
of course it still could be a a kind of dream, but some sort of nightmare you don’t have a lot of control over. But there’s still that stubborn way it just is so invariant.
Put another way, you *could* be a brain in a vat, but then the brain (and the jar) exists in some form. Or if you are a computer program, then the simulation and the computer exist. That is part of your axiom. So that assumes what you are experiencing is not reality, which presupposes some other or higher reality.
Besides, you are assuming you know something – your methodology of coming to a conclusion – in order to try and prove you know nothing.
Since the existence of reality is something that is more apparent, and not abstract and esoteric like the argument of solipsism, it would make more sense to take as your axiom that the world exists. Unless you just want to argue for the sake of arguing which is perverse, and waste of time.
The solipsism view also doesn’t have any explanatory power. The brain in the jar model says things are the way they are because it was programmed that way. Things happen only because of some lines of code which could be changed. It’s effectively supernatural because it prevents anything from being explained and presumes some programmer or dream-maker outside. Too complicated and unnecessary.
The existence of the material world should be taken as axiomatic.
Also there’s the problem of other minds. Somehow, I would be much less inclined to kill a human that I would a fish or a rat or a cow even (I’m not a vegetarian). And no doubt part of this is that I think they have intrinsic value. It’s not just social conditioning or the law or the fear or social shit that would fall upon me, or even guilt. No, it’s that each human being is in themselves a conscious, free agent, like myself, with a way it is like to be for them. They are not meat robots, automatons acting like humans, or unconscious zombies, even if it’s just their brain making them act like that.
The redeeming feature of material reality though, is no one knows the ultimate nature of it. There are encouraging developments in quantum mechanics however that confirm the intuition that there is a unitary reality behind or beneath appearances. Quantum entanglement has been proven. It’s as solid as 1+1 =2 or that the stock market is annoyingly random, or that Las Vegas is about separating people from their money by any means necessary. Look up Bell’s Theorem.
Moving on …
Eric Platt Oh and I appreciate this dialogue. As a thanks, here’s a t-shirt. He kind of looks like you too 🙂
Daniel Jeffries First, I don’t believe anything really as there is nothing to believe. And you arguments are all standard arguments against solipsism though good ones. The other minds problem does not solve it. I don’t know you really exist except in our interactions. I don’t know that you are not a non-player character in my dream. I don’t know when we get off the phone that you are still there. You probably are but there is no real way to “know.” We are talking about knowing here. What can you know? Just like when I travel somewhere in a video game it is not really there, it is only there when I interact with it, much like quantum mechanics and the nature of the universe as we know it. If you keep following all your assumptions, you will find they fall apart too. You are assuming there is something “out there” and because it is relatively uniform and unchanging that it is different from a dream. But what if it is all “in here”? Flip consciousness and the universe around and all you have is consciousness dreaming a universe into reality. And you assume that by “I am” I mean me, as in the entity know as Dan Jeffries currently. I don’t. Everything is unified, all of it is the same thing. I is the same as We. Every creature looks out at reality with the same unified consciousness, hence your fabled “consensual reality.” Together “we” hold it together in a relatively fixed pattern but tomorrow it falls apart. And if it is temporal it is not real, as it always fades away back to nothingness. Get to the atomic layer and it’s all atoms. Go lower and its all quarks. Undifferentiated. Whatever we find after that will probably be the same. Everything underneath it is all the same thing. The Brahmans had this figured out two thousand years ago. And if I am a simulation, the computer is no different than me either. It is not outside and I am inside. There is no outside. There is nothing outside of god/the universe/you and me. And of course, how you describe a dream is just a dream as you know it. The Brahmans used dream in a different way, meaning ultimately no reality, as in Brahman create reality by “dreaming it” which is a hell of a lot more like a video game, with definite rules and places for a time, but it is probably no more real, since it all falls apart on a long enough timeline. So what is real when everything is gone? Nothingness. That is ultimate reality. Nothing. We are all dust blow apart by the wind. We are not individual Gods who can change reality. We are all threads in a giant tapestry, each of us a unified part of the whole. And then again, this is all bs, as is every other part of philosophy. We cannot come to a conclusion because there is no conclusion because nothing really exists so we are arguing in a dream and I am trying to convince dream characters that they don’t exist. Or something like that. I stopped worrying about all this very recently, because it only leads people in circles, does not help them in their day to day and doesn’t matter. As you said, there are some definite rules out there. If I walk in the street and get hit by a car it’s not good. So it doesn’t really matter if it is real or not real. It’s real for a time and then not. I am here and then I am gone. I can only know what I see and experience so best thing is to just pick a place in the ground, put a stake in it and be done with it. Just done. There are no ultimate answers. Nobody has ever come up with them. No philosophy is correct because ultimately what is “correct” in something that fades away to nothing, except nothingness?
Eric Platt You’re basically just re-stating your tenets, and using some philosophy from the Brahmans, who I don’t give great authority to, though it can offer clues.
Mine may be “standard” arguments or not but they are good ones, because it’s not a tenable position, as I showed and as you recognized. My assumptions (axioms) are sound. Solipsism may be logical in some narrow sense, but it’s not reasonable. And so far the world has not faded back to nothingness, despite some of the Big Bang physicists predicting it will.
As for the Brahmans, you are conflating the world soul with your individual soul, which was not their intent. Otherwise it would lead to extreme selfishness (and you do see that actually with a lot of New Agers from the 70’s and how they interpret spirituality and it’s subjective core, as all about ”me” – the Solipsistic Generation you could call it). What the Hindus and Buddhists, and Christ (though generally not the Christians except for the mystics), etc., and specifically the Brahmans were pointing to is the realization of that cosmic Mind *in* the individual mind. That’s the central paradox – you are the cosmic mind but you are also a unique, embodied individual, with free will to form your own worldview on Earth – and one you haven’t seen yet. “Every creature looks out at reality with the same unified consciousness” is only true at some deep or abstract level that isn’t accessed or realized, or else there wouldn’t be much point to us being here. In fact, overcoming egotism and attachments to the self is often seen as a *prerequisite* for realizing your divine identity. So in a sense, you’ve got it backwards my friend. I do agree, or like the metaphor of the great tapestry though.
Many religious folks, not just the Brahmans, think they had it all figured out, and continue to act that way (and they turn their insights into hardened belief systems or dogmas, and sometimes kill others that don’t believe) but I’m not taking their word for it, and I’m not so arrogant to assume that *I* have it all figured out. We are alike in that respect.
In any case, I just hope your doctor is not a solipsist! 🙂
I like the direction this conversation has gone – some meaningful stuff.
I’m going to go do some gardening. Have fun with your mental entities. 🙂
Daniel Jeffries Solipsism is the 3rd rail of philosophy for good reason. There is really only one good argument against it and that is that it is ridiculous. To that I say it is. But so what? Quantum theory says things don’t exist until we interact with them. That is ridiculous too as is the concept that the universe is a giant hologram or made of things that can be in two places at once or that when two particles touch they are forever connected. Or that particles don’t actually have a state until measured. All ridiculous. And yet they seem right when they are the tested. The other minds problem doesn’t do a thing to solipsism. It assumes there are other minds. That assumption is baseless. There is no proof. If there is only one thing under it all there are no other minds. There is no anything else. There is no there, there. Also the brains in a vat doesn’t work. It presumes there is a separate thing that holds consciousness somewhere. Again there is no there, there, no brain in a vat. The matrix doesn’t exist. There is no matrix or anything else. Time and space do not exist. Just illusion. Also the concept of oneness is the third rail of religious philosophy. How can I conflate something that is already conflated? If it is all one it is by definition conflated. The concept of an oversoul and a separate soul is a meaningless duality. Oneness means just that, one. The world is a unified, purposeless, and its constituent parts are locked in endless self mutilation, without realizing it, forever. To have distinctions you need two, you need division. If everything is unified under it all then all divisions are in fact false and illusions. The reason people don’t like these ideas or reject them is because there is nothing left to talk about, nothing left to explore and uncomfortable. In fact people don’t really want to figure things out they just want to keep thinking, talking, measuring the dream state and endlessly spinning more illusion as that is our nature. We are illusions in an illusion. If you really examine things you find that we are all made of nothing, return to nothing and all distinctions are arbitrary and temporal. In the end of course none of this matters. We aren’t solving anything. These are just fun words coming out of our mouths in a desperate attempt to describe the unexplainable. And again I don’t really believe any of this but if we are going to make arguments we might as well take it all the way. Solipsism and oneness taken to the extreme eliminate all other ideas and philosophies and as such they just might be the real answer to the nature of the universe. Or not. They could just be bullshit and Maya like everything else.
Eric Platt I just read your post. Catching up after a busy Monday, didn’t want to get too caught up in this thinking. Let’s see if I can write through this (literal) headache. The Belgian style wheat beer was a bit too tasty last night. But this discussion is revealing. Perhaps.
Hopefully this weekend I’ll have more time for writing non-business shit. This week I have some deadlines to meet, and am putting energy into discussing some foundational spiritual practical psychology topics with practitioners over on the 3 principles psychology Facebook group, then working on transferring my writings to a blog I just started.
“Third rail” – an amusing analogy. But I would be careful about getting electrocuted. 🙂
Yeah I was wondering why if you think philosophy is a waste of time, you were putting a lot of energy into debating or discussing it. Especially if it’s something you don’t believe. Fun is good enough for me. I am curious what you *do* believe. But perhaps another time…
I believe that’s an incorrect reading of QM. What the physicists eggheads are saying is that the wave function only collapses when you measure it: until then it could be a particle or wave. But it *does* exist. And the interpretation that it takes consciousness tor it to exist is also incorrect, The really significant finding in QM is about entanglement: once they interact, particle/waves are connected no matter how far away in distance they are. So there is an underlying — something, unity – they are not separate in the first place. Which lends support to the notion of Einstein, Kant and the mystics (and my NDE) that time and space (and self) are illusions.
But QM is not a valid comparison with solipsism, because QM has been proved, whereas solipsism is, or appears to be merely something you can’t disprove, similar in logic to, I can’t disprove that God exists, or I have a little invisible man named Yehudi in my pocket. Sure, but so what? What kind of traction or explanatory power does it have, how reasonable and practical is it?
The seeming duality of life is an illusion, but real. That’s the paradox. That’s what self-realization is about.
Solipsism: you are making a common mistake (I see in the philosophy, spiritual psychology field): thinking (or saying, since you may not actually believe it) that reality is an illusion. It’s not reality that’s an illusion, it’s your perception that’s an illusion. A practical and compelling one. As far as knowing reality though, Kant and many others were convinced that we can’t know the “thing in itself” However I am of the opinion, as are some others like that physicist d’Espagnat I posted about, that we can get glimpses of it via insight (intuition) that hints at the oneness of reality underlying the multiplicity – bits of “knowledge” in a different sense than science. Science puts it together in a more painstaking way, and gives us glimpses of phenomena (“out there”) that are reliable patterns we can make use of. If you are a realist you say it’s real, if you are an operationalist, you say it’s just practical (or impractical if speculative) patterns put together.
Backing up and looking at the broader picture, this conversation started because I posted a quais-rant about the book Proof of Heaven, which I think is a deceptive piece of excrement that takes advantage of people’s prejudices, beliefs and fears to make a new career for the author. The claim the book makes is about a “near death experience”. NDE accounts are often cited as evidence, if not proof, that consciousness doesn’t depend on matter (brain in this case). So that’s pretty interesting. Would be important to know, for what constitutes life *now*: is my mind, self, and other people are just a piece of meat (the brain a piece of “glorious meat” as Pat Churchland put it, and consciousness just a kind of illusion or odd epiphenomena, with no purpose)? But is it true? My position was that no one knows what the basis of consciousness is. I also don’t know if we *can* in principle know – maybe we can, maybe we can’t. But there are more pressing problems to solve, right here and now (though I didn’t say all that). Your position was also that no one knows, or can know, and *probably* nothing happens when you die.
This evolved (or devolved?) into a discussion about solipsism. An interesting philosophical position, one I think is (or could be) a stage along the way. Along the way to what is a good question.
So in the meantime I’m thinking about, may do some writing on:
1. Does one’s philosophy – what you take life to be, which forms your psychology – does it serve you, and does it serve life (the latter may or may not be important to your thinking now): is it practical? People generally seek out philosophy, psychology and spiritual teachings because they are seeking something: happiness (whatever that is), peace of mind, love, connection, joy, success, a sense of security, a cure for an addiction or some mental condition or dis-ease they think they have. Or they may just want to defend an opinion and appear smart. That can happen too. 🙂
2. What does it take for someone to change their mind? More globally, when people change (their outlook on life and their life), how and why do they change? I’ve seen it happen, and it’s very interesting what may underly it
Daniel Jeffries I’ve been avoiding looking at this until I am ready to time sink time into it as well. 🙂 I do like philosophy as a pastime.
I like a lot things as a pastime, like a lively discussion such as this. I enjoy talking to other smart people. What I believe *currently* is that our philosophy is not fixed. It is constantly evolving, like a river. The river is always the same and not the same.
I also “believe” that nobody can come to a final philosophy that explains everything. It is physically impossible. As long as people live they will want to evolve thinking and the nature of reality seems to allow for that. It does not have a fixed final point. And I also think that if God does exist and if it is all one he/she/it is a solipsist by definition. 🙂 Whatever you take from that is a headfuck though. If it is one, it is just a giant oneness fighting with itself after it divides into two. It is a massive self aggrandizing, masturbatory, self spawning, incestuous, ridiculous machine.
Also whether it is real or an illusion or both at the same time doesn’t matter all that much for practical day to day living. Neither does the definition of a dream. You pointed out that dreams are different than our lives in that dreams change and shift on us but our lives seems fixed. But we view the world through the lens of time and as such it seems like a fixed world around us but it might be nothing but an illusion. Something outside of that time might see it shifting as it does in a dream. It doesn’t really matter all that much though what it’s nature is.
There are some practical things that we can determine with relative certainty about the way the world *functions* around us such as stepping into the street without looking is not a good idea or that exercising keeps us healthy. The reason it doesn’t really matter is that the universe continues to function whether we figure it out or not. It is immune to our attempts to dissect and understand it.
That brings us to your last point. What philosophy is good for you? Is Van Gogh’s bad just because he killed himself in the end? Perhaps he was happy and just fell on hard times at the end? Or perhaps he was tortured and his art was the only thing that kept him alive and as such it served him very, very well or he might have killed himself much earlier. I view the artist that defeats his depression with art as very successful even if he ultimately lost the battle in the end. If you read the book Daily Rituals, which discusses how great artists work, depression is common, as is art being a way out of that. As such that art may be essential to saving a tortured soul.
The question becomes need that soul be tortured? Lots of religions pretend to offer a way out or a fix, as does psychology, but they all end up being bogus unless you buy in completely and decide to stop asking questions about the man behind the curtain. Many artists end up feeling that art is the only way *out*. I certainly often do. It’s entierly possible the universe creates certain people depressed so they want to become artists. That gets into a whole predestined/free choice thing that you and I should not touch with a ten foot pole.
Also many people have a philosophy that will keep them generally contented but without much depth or ability to change anything. Contentedness and philosophies that serve you in your greater goal are often not the same thing. A contented philosophy brings you to a point where businesses need not start, art need not be created, children need not be made, etc. Contentedness comes down to riding the wave and letting what will be, be. Leave it alone and float on the river. Is that a good thing? I guess, but we don’t get Bladerunner out of that or the pyramids.
So the question is how do you mean “does your philosophy serve you?” Do you mean serve you by being happy? Serve you by creating something great? Serve you by changing the world? We know mother Teresa made a great difference in a lot of lives and so her philosophy served her and many many other people and yet her private letters reveal she was a tortured soul who felt god had abandoned her for most of her life. On the flip side many people find some religion and check out of life and just tend a garden somewhere and stop asking questions. That may be the answer. Is it a good one? I don’t know. That keeps everything the same. It never gets us the steam engine or the boat. It’s like an animal’s existence: born, live, be happy, die. That may be what you mean.
Practically speaking I also believe that trying to figure all this out, though I have dedicated much of my life to the pursuit of the meaning of life, is a waste of time and will drive you crazy. But I still like it and still have much to say about it, hence this long ass dialogue. In the end it is better to have a simple practical philosophy. I shouldn’t eat too much or drink too much. I should exercise every day etc. This stuff works unlike dicing the nature of the universe, which ultimately does not. The minds of the gods remain mysterious.
Lastly I do *think* that I am is the only thing we can know *for sure.* I don’t really believe it and I am always attempting to disprove it, through talks with myself and discussions with others, hence this conversation. I also think that because that it the only thing we can know *for sure* then that makes that realization unique and perhaps the key to everything else. Perhaps it is in fact the only thing that is true other than truth itself which seems real, if it is the only thing we can know for sure. We can reasonably *assume* other things and for all practical purposes they work, but we can’t *know”. That is an important distinction I think. Why can’t we be sure of other things? What is the qualitative difference there? Why would it only be one thing we can really know and not ten things or a hundred or a thousand? I am always looking for someone to really, really prove me wrong so I can move on. And by “for sure” I mean, without any doubt whatsoever. I am here. I know it. How do I know it? Because I am here.
As for everything else, they are working principals, things that as you said that “make sense” like don’t cross the street without looking both ways or it sure seems like there are other minds or that that the sun rose yesterday and it’s pretty damn likely it will rise again tomorrow but I can’t really be sure, just like I can’t be sure no black swan exists just because I have not seen one.
The good new is you don’t really have to “know” anything to proceed along just fine in life. It works whether we know anything or not. Hence, I’ve come to the very contented place of “I don’t care anymore” and “I just want to live my life.” Art works for me. I like my animals. I like intellectual discussion. I like learning things. These are all good enough and asking lots of questions has only made me frustrated/sad/angry/disillusioned. I came to the conclusion recently that the are supposed to be frustrating/maddening/impossible to reach a final destination and hence best left alone to focus on what I can do with my time here.
Finally got paragraphs by cutting and pasting.
Also one last bit about QM wave/particle dichotomy. Exist was a poorly chosen word. However it exists in an undifferentiated state until we interact with it. What else do you know that doesn’t take its shape until you bust out the tape measure? Nothing that I am aware of. Trees are just there. So are cars and people. None of them really pop into shape when I measure or look at them. So the whole concept is a bit ridiculous a d hard to wrap the skull around as are particles that can be in two places at once or touching even though they are a trillion miles apart. All ridiculous. And they don’t constitute any “existence” that I can see or perceive it anyone else can see or perceive. Hence in many ways they don’t really exist in an form that makes any sense whatsoever. That brings me to the point that things don’t need to make sense to be real/correct/true. We are exploring what is true which is all that matters. What people believe may or may not serve them but what is true is independent of them. And those weird ridiculous particles and quarks and gluons and such make up the very solid, non-two places at once, non-touching-at-a-distance things that I see and interact with every day, which makes me think that those things are not really what they seem. They seem to be the definition of an illusion. And those very things make up the things that we are sure have definite form and shape and yet they are made up of mostly empty space and particles that can do weird ass things even though at this “higher level” of reality they can’t do any of those things. Very strange stuff indeed. To pretend it makes sense just becuase we can test it and prove it out is a bit strange to me. It does. It make any logical sense that I am aware of even if it is testable.
Eric Platt Well I tried to reply, with my big ass long tome, about your SOME philosophy (Solipsistic Operational Monistic Epistemology), and the QM, but FaceBook didn’t like it. Gave me some kind of error. So maybe I have to post this at my blog, if I can figure out a way, and have your permission to quote you (all in fun of course).
But yeah I write offline in a text document, because I’m able to relax a little more and not lose the writing case the form freaks out, and edit and save it better. And apparently post it with breaks – I wasn’t even aware that’s how it was allowing it.
Daniel Jeffries Lol. Sure. Blog away and quote away. Send me the link. This has been a fun exchange so far or I would have checked out long ago. Thanks for indulging me. Most would have given up already.
And it looks like my quick thoughts as I boarded the plane this morning got a little garbled. That last line is: it doesn’t make any sense that I am aware of even if it is testable.
Eric Platt “… a massive self aggrandizing, masturbatory, self spawning, incestuous, ridiculous machine. “ Haha, great sentence.
“for practical day to day living” – a couple days ago I came up with an acronym for your philosophy: SOME: Solopsistic Operational Monistic Epistemology. Tongue in cheek but hopefully faily descriptive.
Nature is in flux yet we’ve been able to capture some “laws” via mathematics that, when a view is isolated, seem to hold through time. It’s a pretty amazing mystery that mathematics does so well in describing and predicting – also predicting phenomena that we didn’t know existed (planets, particles…) , natural phenomenon. Well enough to get us to the moon, invent computers, better automobiles, atom bombs.
Is math discovered or invented is one of those puzzle philosophers like to get their rocks off on.
The mind is lever that moves the world. You heard it here first.
The world “out there” (that isn’t out there entirely but only seen through the veil of perception) is constantly changing, but inside there’s fixed consciousness witnessing your life from beginning to end. But we spend most of our time caught up in the thought-created world, since it’s mixed together: thought consciousness and mind. But that all sounds pretty abstract and so it’s really just a metaphor. But like yours it’s sort of my current operational, working theory until I see something better.
As far as ”It doesn’t really matter all that much though what it’s nature is.“ There’s a grain of truth to that; Pirsig makes an interesting distinction in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance between the “romantic” and the “classical” Narrator has an older motorcycle which he is usually able to diagnose and repair himself through the use of rational problem solving skills. I guess I’m a classicist in that regard. I think there is a reality, though we don’t know the ultimate nature of it, but we can understand it at the phenomenal level with our rational minds (always incomplete) and in meditative moments get glimpses into the infinite unknown Mind which also helps us align ourselves with Life (self with Self) and guide ourselves using free will using our thinking. Woo woo! It’ an imperfect art to be sure.
So there’s psychological truth to the Garden of Eden story, despite all the neurotic possibilities of sin bullshit: we’ve eaten thee apple of choice and there’s no going back.
In day-to-day living, I refer more to a psychology than a philosophy: the latter tends to get more intellectual and question-oriented and about arguing positions. Can’t do that very well and be in the flow. Generally. Unless you are a Ninja.
It’s true Van Gogh and Thompson might have changed their views, and certainly their circumstances changed, but I tend to think there was a common thread in their outlook that drove them. I know less about Van Gogh (only that he was extremely religious) than I do about about HST. It’s speculation though, since the public HST was a personae that he maintained. and we never know the inner world of another (separate realities created by thought and free will), especially from a distance, not “knowing” them personally. But I tend to think that *was* part of the problem: he identitfied with a persona, and took his thinking seriously, and saw circumstances as determiners of feeling, instead of realizing it was his thinking that was creating his experience. And some of that thinking was pretty dark. Too bad though, and not necessary. I speculate he was depressed.
Art can help you get out of yourself and feel better. For a while. But it can be an addiction in the sense you depend on it to feel good, because you don’t know what’s going on, why you feel better when you are making your art. Some say the fact that artists are “sensitive” is the reason there’s so much drug use with them. There’s a grain of truth to that too but is more looking at personality and symptoms, which ultimately doesn’t help much since its all after-the-fact, it doesn’t get at the root cause.
As far as art being a way out, I’d agree being creative will give you a sense of meaning and get in the flow. But in all I wouldn’t say it’s a cure in the sense you depend on doing that activity. No one is born depressed, we learn it from society – parents, friends, the culture, and make it up ourselves too. We might have a lower genetic threshold for anxiety, and a sensitive nervous system, but that’s too general to be fateful. As far as external influences, there are families where siblings raised in the same exact environment in the ghetto, you see one gets into drugs and gangs and killing, ends up in jail or dead, and another sibling finds their resilience, goes to college, finds way out. Same conditions but they create a different worldview and are reacting moment-to-moment from a different place in their head. Some “prevention” community workers have gone into communities and totally transformed them from the side out, by teaching the about the role of thought (look up Modello http://www.centerforsustainablechange.org/modello).
You can be good at art and crappy at the art of life. Sounds judgmental the way I put it but I’m trying to make an observation.
Does your philosophy serve me towards being happy. Since that’s all that really matters. The paradox is that in enjoying life, good stuff comes out of it, not only creation but in human relations. Achievement and solving problems in the world is a by-product. Most people have it reversed. I grew up with it reversed, still get fooled by the outside-in thinking. Sounds like you “know” that at some level.
We agree a simple practical philosophy is best. So that pretty boring. 😉 Though I don’t think it tells one about any particular behavior, such as eating and exercise, other than use common sense and don’t BS yourself.
“Why can’t we be sure of other things?” Kant talked about this, but it’s really hard to understand that the fuck he was talking about. The ultimate Western philosopher. Goddamn German eggheads have everyone twisted up in knots. Hegel responded with tomes of romantic gibberish, the Nazis loved it, Marx took it up and we get Stalin and zillions dead. If I understand that situation correctly.
You can make good models and predictions, and that’s about it. As far as the outside world. As far as inside, some people are pretty certain they’ve found it, I’m still working on it.
I would question the need for certainty, and what drives it. Maybe insecurity. I agree with the “fuck it, let’s get on with life” approach for the most part.
I seem the “double win”: happy in the inside (the ground), and by thy fruits you shall know thee. Fuck “success” as defined by others – it’s a trap, a toxic goal. And I’m not Peace Pilgrim (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Pilgrim) who doesn’t need or like money. It’s useful and it’s a hit, as Pink Floyd pointed out. But focusing on it seems crazy. I have relatives and have met many others who were extremely “successful” but miserable and unhealthy and restless. Hell, look at all the drug-addicted celebrities. What’s wrong with this picture.
Some of us may be ok with being like a contented cows but people with brains and creative energy need work to keep them happy, or should I say, focused. Like Border Collies. We start biting our tails and shredding the furniture unless we have a “job”. That intense thinking can lead to craziness, as you recognized. Again, just a generalization. There are some “hippies” as people call them that can be happy with tending their vegetables all day and meditating the rest of the time. Me, I’d end up inventing a solar-powered electric squirrel fence (which I did), a hydroponic computer -controlled windmill-powered system with remote digital video- surveillance (working on it).
The confusion about QM I was pointing to had to do with what I believe is the mistake with the Dancing Wu Li Masters type interpretation. Which makes it “pseudoscience”. They mistakenly jump top the conclusion it’s consciousness doing the wave collapsing, but it’s the measuring instrument. Those jiggly little packets are pretty sensitive to being watched. But it is pretty weird down there. We may end up with teleportation and quantum computers and inter-galaxy communication after all.
Trees and cars seem to be there alright but in fact are made almost entirely of empty space. I see you mentioned that. As you start zooming down. Turns into just concentrated energy vibrations keeping everything at a distance, in some unbelievably intricate dance. So the Wu Li Masters acidheads were right about that part.
I think we should be left alone to be free to be zoned-out hippies living off philosophy and our gardens and… but stop me before I get political… 🙂
Francis Lucille, a Non-dualist, talking of solipsism: Everything is My Consciousness, Not My Mind