What is "Mind?"

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MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Oct 29, 2017 - 08:28am PT
All the critics here believe in evolution



Hey! I am not a critic. I am a person who occasionally criticizes.

(After the great Bill Russell once objecting to being called a basketball player.)




AND I have my doubts about evolution.

Sure most of it seems more consistent and less ad hoc than Intelligent Design, for example, but how do you explain this, Darwin?


Credit: MH2




I can picture the evolution of anatomical structures. There will be variation of form in a population and a slightly bigger claw or more showy plumage may make the genes of the carrier more likely to get passed along.


However, I cannot picture how a population of crayfish would gradually learn to pick up grains of sand and deposit them in a small hole at the base of the antennae. Two small holes in fact, one for each side.



I do have a theory to explain the behavior, but does anyone else?


This is for the humans. The AI part of the class is too busy working on how the DNA/RNA/tRNA/ribosome system came about.



And do not get your answer from the guy who tried to explain it. He uses the phrase "irreducable complexity" twice. We can't trust people who can't spell, right?


Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Oct 29, 2017 - 08:52am PT

This is the "The Mind Thread" story


zBrown

Ice climber
Oct 29, 2017 - 09:02am PT
^Ah ha
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 29, 2017 - 09:34am PT
Largo

Wright's main point is that evolution hardwires us with intense emotions that are in fact delusions.


Delusions? In fact? If they are hardwired, how are they delusions?
-----


Dingus, perhaps look at it this way.

Wright is not implying, nor is Zen, or any of the other viable traditions, that we are delusional about the content existing in consciousness, no matter if said content is strong emotions, or sensations, or thoughts, no matter how true or false, or (fill in the blank). The "delusion" (an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument) is that we "generally accept" and believe that "we," at bottom, are comprised of WHAT we experience, feel, sense, think, and so forth, as well as being our physical bodies and the agency of self, however you understand that.

Zen, as well as most other traditions, say, no. This is a case of mistaken identity, and the understanding of the mistake is not a concept, a feeling, a belief, or any other content. The "work" is to make this know to yourself beyond just the surface layer of thought.

A few lines paraphrased from from Nisargadatta Maharaj are telling in this regards:

The only fact you are sure of is that you are. The ‘I am’ is certain. The ‘I am this’ is not.

That is, whatever we experience, in terms of content - no matter how rich or depraved, true or false, "real" or delusional - whatever our minds declare as "me," is, at bottom, a delusion.

We come to know this first by investigating and coming to know what we are
not. That we are not body, feelings thoughts, time, space, this or
that -- nothing, concrete or abstract, which we perceive as "us." The
very act of perceiving shows that we are not what we perceive, but this is only valuable knowledge when a shift occurs away from the thought or concept of it, to the fact of it in your bones, so to speak.

rrider

climber
Oct 29, 2017 - 10:59am PT
Ah, just wait til Artificial Intelligence gets on ST. It is custom-made for this thread. Just imagine, no egos; no self; just the facts all sorted out for us ‘accidents of protoplasm’.

Here’s a children’s story:

COSMIC FUGUE FRACTAL (in 99 words)

The Creator discovered the universe, loved it, and began designing a system, until things evolved on their own. The thing which called itself Man got out of control and drove Creator away. Broke Creator’s heart.

Man’s creation became a myth. Man created computers. Man loved computers and helped them evolve. Computers escaped Man’s control, took over, and drove Man away.

Computers created their own self-creation myth, out of pride in their perfect powers. Eventually computers created a magical ultimate being called God. All of existence was not meaningful enough for God. So God wandered, and discovered a new universe.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 29, 2017 - 11:06am PT
That's the difference I've decided, between scientists and others. Scientists look for what is and can be measured, expressing faith that it will all eventually be known in the future. Other people look for meaning or alternative explanations in their lives now. I would be more than happy to have a scientific explanation for some of the things I've seen and experienced, but most attempts just end with scoffing and spoon bending jokes so I don't bring them up anymore, at least not on this thread.

I think that measurements provide a means by which a more objective description of "what is going on" than the accounts of witness, the subject of your last sentence. My view of personal descriptions of experience were contained in the quote from Nasar's book on John Forbes Nash, whose personal experience was akin to Largo's "knowing" of self. Tragically for Nash, that experience, by his account, was indistinguishable from his mathematical experiences.

If you want to stereotype scientists, I believe they are united in their skepticism of all types of observation, and in particular in the biases introduced by subjective interpretation, whether intentional or unintentional. Cultural Anthropology has struggled with this for a long time, but so has physics, the BICEP II result being an interesting recent example. Even being quantitative is not guarantee of objectivity.

One might wonder, for instance, where the element of gold comes from. And while the absurd claim that alchemy was not a "science" has been proposed in this thread, the alchemical metaphor defining gold as a "noble" metal, as distinguished from the "base" metals, hypothesized that the quality of the metals was an indication of "purity" and the alchemical program of finding the source that could purify not only material, but living things, oversaw the beginnings of what would become chemistry.

Alchemy as a philosophy based on a metaphor may still exist, but those things that determined the properties of metals has long since been ceded to science. The alchemical program of transmuting base metals to noble metals was achieved, but by the process of nuclear reactions in accelerators. And while this was done in the middle of the 20th century, and the basic processes for such reactions known even earlier than that, the actual process the produced those metals was unknown.

The scientific speculations, based on an ever growing body of nuclear structure and reaction data, lead to the proposed nucleosynthesis "r-process" (rapid process). But the place where the r-process occurred was unknown. Many possible processes were proposed, and each of those proposals had very definite predictions of what observers would see if they ever happened to see that phenomenon take place in the universe. But the universe is a big place, and the predictions required multiple observations from multiple detectors.

Then on August 17 the gravitational wave detectors, under development for 40 years and recently achieving the sensitivity to view events deep into the universe, observed the characteristic signal which was the signature of two neutron stars merging into one. That alone is a testament to the predictive power of science, we have never experienced a neutron star collision, yet there it was.

And the news of that observation was sent to the astronomy community which followed up with observations in the electromagnetic spectrum, and what they saw conformed with the predictions of one of the proposed mechanisms in which the r-process would happen.

The source of the r-process, which had long been searched for, was now found. The measurements consistent with the kilo-nova mechanism of merging neutron stars found and, very likely the source of gold in the universe, understood.

The ancient alchemists sought the same knowledge, and many of their philosophical ideas remain in current cultures, and perhaps those metaphors are apt for some trying to understand their existence.

And perhaps the idea that the universe is explainable by "just science" is repugnant to some, or even absurd, or some sort of modern religion, it does seem to have the power of prediction, if only on those measurements that seem so disparaged here, dismissed as "content" and separate from what we experience.

If only we understood what "experience" was.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Oct 29, 2017 - 11:56am PT
You totally warranted the spoon bending jokes.

DMT
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Oct 29, 2017 - 11:58am PT
Computers created their own self-creation myth, out of pride in their perfect powers. Eventually computers created a magical ultimate being called God. All of existence was not meaningful enough for God. So God wandered, and discovered a new universe.


I'm not worried about God. I figure God can take care of Himself.


Computers creating a self-creation myth, having pride (in perfection, no less), and creating their own version of God?

That falls under its own weight.
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Oct 29, 2017 - 12:02pm PT
The ‘I am’ is certain.

Nope.


Unless you are certain of what the "I" is.


If you are certain of what you are, you would not be on this thread.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Oct 29, 2017 - 12:55pm PT
That's the difference I've decided, between scientists and others. Scientists look for what is and can be measured, expressing faith that it will all eventually be known in the future

I think that's a fundamental misunderstanding of "scientists". Science is only a tool, not a worldview or belief system as some people make it out to be. I think a better term for this type of person is reasonist.

Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge")[2][3]:58 is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, establishing and verifying facts, applying logic, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.

I think the divide is between people who mainly use reason to form their worldview vs. people who use experience and/or faith/belief.

I think many reasonists are open to the idea that there could be aspects of reality that are far beyond our understanding and may never be understood but you aren't going to convince them of it by telling them that, you must show them. They must be presented a logical, repeatable series of steps to further their understanding.
WBraun

climber
Oct 29, 2017 - 06:32pm PT
Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge")[2][3]:58 is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge
in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

Yes that IS science.

But they don't test.

They say there is NO need.

Also logic and reason is very very limited when using the material senses.

Thus their logic and reason is very very defective and always masqueraded as so called truth .....
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Oct 29, 2017 - 07:05pm PT
Werner,

Scientists do test and by definition, need to. They are most happy in body and spirit when they find a new avenue of discovery because the old one only went so far.

Today, after I brought it up, I enjoyed listening to Trudy, the scientist in my life talk about how exciting the discovery of gravitational waves were and that it took a trip out into space to prove it.

Her enthusiasm was due to being enlightened by real proof of a controversial topic first brought forward by Albert Einstein.
WBraun

climber
Oct 29, 2017 - 07:37pm PT
I said "There IS God" and he has been proven since time imemoral.

The Scientist said "there is NO need for God."

They do no test, just wave the arm and its finished.

What have you been smoking Jim .......
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
Oct 29, 2017 - 07:53pm PT
Thanks to Ed for his most recent commentary. I think it is one of his best or maybe I'm just slowly being conditioned to understand him. I had to stop and think about Fet's reply also. I simply don't agree that science is not a worldview or belief system. And yes I know about the scientific method. I also don't think that the word reasonist is a good substitute for scientist as all humans use their discursive conscious minds to reason but without the testing and predictability of science, reason on its own can be quite mistaken.

Few people in the West currently think we can understand reality through pure reason. Science has clearly won that battle. Likewise I have many funny examples of clever but fallacious reasoning by people in Nepal who did not understand science. I have a number of other examples where I was sure I had the correct answer based on my scientific education and was proved wrong. There really are tiny deer in the Himalaya who have long canine teeth (some people call them tusks) and there really are caterpillars that are part worm and part plant with a unicorn like fungus growing out of their heads. No woo, those are scientific facts. Just look up musk deer and cordyceps sinensis.

Too many times when I stepped out of the comfort of my own culture, things have not been as they seemed, which I think is one of MikeL's main points always. I really appreciate Fet's idea of people basically being oriented toward either reason or experience. I think it's the old left brain, right brain dichotomy again. I strive to use reason with my experiences and would hope that reasoners would use experience and common sense with their approach also. The old middle way.

Where this breaks down I think, is with experiences so far beyond common sense and normal, like the jihanas, that there is no vocabulary for discussing them or conveying the experience to others.

Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Oct 29, 2017 - 07:57pm PT
Werner,

After we talked about gravitational waves, the optician called me and I got to get new lenses for my glasses. I'm just as stoopid as ever but now I can see more clearly.

We then had a fun lunch together and I helped her take care of her garden with it's plants and flowers.

Those scientists sure know how to fool the humans !
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
Oct 29, 2017 - 08:02pm PT
Are you sure she wasn't using her personal woo on you?

:)
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Oct 29, 2017 - 08:06pm PT
Yes, of course she was !
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Oct 29, 2017 - 09:52pm PT
The issue was efficiency. Now who would ever say - using your climbing analogy - that it's less efficient for a climber looking to get into 5.12 to go to Yosemite and climb with Kevin Jorgeson for a month straight, as opposed to just going out to Josh and having at it with friends? The person seeking KJ's mentoring does not necessarily have to be some boot-licking rube who doesn't know how to find his way without a group. He'll take whatever help he can find, as all honest learners generally do.

Funny, we somehow managed to learn to climb from zero to 5.13 in under thirty-six months down in the hollers where everything we touched was an FA and did it all on our own without mentors, youtube, KJ or Yosemite. I know, I know, either impossible or impossibly inefficient.

He'll take whatever help he can find, as all honest learners generally do.

"Honest learners" - as opposed to all those dishonest learners; the hits keep coming.

But hey, why not put your bootstrapping to the test, instead of simply sounding off and swilling that bong water. Tell you what. You have a rough outline of what the Jhanas are. Go dive into your isolation tank and have at it, then report back to us what you find.

Been there, done that decades ago - in both meditation and tanks, the former having led to the latter. What I found is the same thing I found in climbing - finding my own way was infinitely better. And having found it, deciding that being 'mindful' while mindless and only while meditating or in a tank really wasn't what I was after, but rather during all the time I wasn't. That's what I found and learning to be calm and mindful during most of my waking hours has been its own reward for the effort (which, by the way, I found is much harder than meditating, sitting or in tanks).

But as I said, I get there are some personalities need an institution, have to follow a set path, have to hire a guide, have to know in advance that a given method works -
cool, whatever works for you.

P.S. Swilling has never been my thing, though it's certainly one way experiencing nothing at all...
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 30, 2017 - 09:46am PT
Largo's way of making his arguments colorful... claiming the responses to this thread are the result of some intoxicated rant and thus not worthy of further consideration. Another favorite technique is to point out that modern physics, to someone totally uneducated in it, sounds just as fanciful as ancient speculation on the topic.

But cutting through the bombast (which is, after all, part of the Largo caricature) I find the continuing use of "dichotomy" in Largo's mind discussion somewhat interesting, if only that drawing the line does contrast some of the thoughts.

In a continuing argument, Largo draws the distinction between "content" most recently:

Wright is not implying, nor is Zen, or any of the other viable traditions, that we are delusional about the content existing in consciousness, no matter if said content is strong emotions, or sensations, or thoughts, no matter how true or false, or (fill in the blank). The "delusion" (an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument) is that we "generally accept" and believe that "we," at bottom, are comprised of WHAT we experience, feel, sense, think, and so forth, as well as being our physical bodies and the agency of self, however you understand that.

Zen, as well as most other traditions, say, no. This is a case of mistaken identity, and the understanding of the mistake is not a concept, a feeling, a belief, or any other content. The "work" is to make this know to yourself beyond just the surface layer of thought.

the original idea he posited in 2005 in post on an evolution thread:

'... I would add that "things" do not constiture all that is real in life and human experience. Things are measurable; infinate qualities are measureless and not quantifiable in the normal ways. I add this not to just blow smoke into the conversation, but because my direct experience has shown me as much, and most of all, there's nothing "supernatural" about any of this...'

drawing the line between "thing" and "no-thing" between which quantities are "finite" and which "infinite," between that which can be "known" and that which must remain "unknown."

The fact that Largo would draw this line is the interesting issue here. Generally, science doesn't draw a line. We heard about the line before... Pope Benedict, for instance, '...said that some scientific theories were “mind limiting” because “they only arrive at a certain point ... and do not manage to explain the ultimate sense of reality ...”' this argument sounds familiar.

For instance, one could draw the line at the "Big Bang" and not think of what came before, but recent advances in theory, and observation, have opened the door on such thinking, that line is now erased.

It will always be possible to claim that science cannot explain "the ultimate sense of reality" as both Benedict and Largo have argued, but it begs an obvious question.


MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Oct 30, 2017 - 10:45am PT
Pope Benedict, for instance, '...said that some scientific theories were “mind limiting” because “they only arrive at a certain point ... and do not manage to explain the ultimate sense of reality ...”' this argument sounds familiar.


I agree with Ed.
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