Concerning philosophy by school, by behavior, by implication or as a meme.
Science is a Gas Giant.
I don’t mean anything disparaging by that. It’s a mental model to freshen up our thinking.
The unequivocal territory of science is the sum of theories plus experiments that have unambiguous, replicable results. This body of knowledge is the diamond-hard core at the heart of science. There are a lot of physics and chemistry experiments here. They seem to know their parts by heart.
Just beyond the border of that core, the gas atmosphere begins but it is nearly as hard as the core itself. It’s a long, dense gradient from here to the wispy edge of the atmosphere that is literally made of thin clouds under scattered atoms and space. Close to the core, the experiments are as replicable as the day is long when you average them out. There are enough squishy, stochastic details here that any random experiment might say something new, but not useful. The ambiguous results are overwhelmed by un-ambiguous ones like a single black grain in a bag of white rice.*
Heading outward, the variables faced by theorists get more complicated and slippery. If the questions science aims to answer were pickle jars, we’d crack them open without a beat at the core, struggle with rubber gloves and screwdrivers around the middle, and create thought experiments about jars and pickles at the foggy upper edge. Your thought experiment may perfectly predict opening the jar, and what’s inside but it’ll be a long time before anyone gets a pickle.
There is an entire UNIVERSE of questions in need of answers outside this atmosphere. These are unscientific questions such as, are there orders of existence above this one, is there a god, is there any foundation to astrology, extrasensory perception, or life after death?
These pickle jars are literally unrecognizable as jars of pickles when dragged down into the atmosphere of the Scientific Gas Giant. The implications of unscientific questions are so far from detection or measure within the atmosphere that they are literally nonsense down there. They are all noise, no signal. Science reacts to these questions scornfully and answers unambiguously.
This is a bit like having a masseur go over your taxes or a policeman rate the quality of your dental work. You can do it, but why on earth would you? What scientists and new-age and religious believers should recognize above all is this:
The only possible response to an Un-Scientific Question is an Un-Scientific Answer.**
If you as a layman, doubt and question the diamond core of science, you’re opting for stupidity, because that shit is proven. Then there’s a long climb through that atmosphere where if you bet against the science you are going to lose. However, outside the atmosphere, no answer is scientific and every answer is unscientific. Most everything in life, especially stuff that truly matters, is outside the atmosphere. And that’s FINE! Inside the atmosphere good, outside good too!
Out here it comes down to style and passion. Cautious people, people afraid to be wrong, or thought silly, choose the Sciency Style©. It disparages and looks down on answers that come from outside the atmosphere even though the atmosphere can’t generate a relevant word about them. It isn’t science or even scientific, but it smells just like it. It’s a “grown-up” thing you wear like a headscarf or a tie, to fit in.
Thesis: Reality is allowed to have any, (and as many), details and causes as it wishes. We are allowed to speculate wildly about these.
Welcome to Crazy-Zoo!
How about we start speaking openly about the experiences of our hearts, minds, and souls. Forcing your life and words into sciency mode is no better than forcing them into fundamentalist religious mode. If you’re a “cards close to the chest” cautious person who hates ambiguity I’m not judging you. That’s the genuine version of you and that is what we need you to be.
If you censor yourself from a pro-social fear that some critical mass of idiots will hit their flashpoint and overrun the rest of us pushing their dumb ass beliefs, let me reassure you that happened LONG ago. This isn’t about that. This is about opening your horizons from their current cramped position. It’s about canalizing restricted freedom of thought. Remember, the flatness we’d be arguing in favor of isn’t supported by the scientific method, it’s just a posture.
Especially if you’ve censored yourself out of fear of judgement I want you to uncork the ocean of reality poetry inside you and let it flow. Crazy-Zoo is my “Might as well own it” name for the wide-open territory ahead where we say what we really think, (and even learn what we really think), in bold, colorful language without checking to see who approves.
We’ll soon revisit and explore Crazy-Zoo. Hope to see you there.
|* These black grains, by the way, are the life rafts clung to by those fighting against truth for pay or trollish perversity. Global warming and a spherical Earth, for two examples.
|** There is a scientifically correct answer: “I have no way of knowing”.
“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.”
“Unmotivated seeing of connections” accompanied by a “specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness”. — Klaus Conrad
3 aspects of Apophenia
- Confirmation bias – From a background of randomly distributed items; associating items that have no connection except that they fit the story you are already telling yourself.
- Rejection bias – Ignoring or denying information that DOESN’T fit the story you are telling yourself.
- Pareidolia – (less important, but related) A sensory stimulus which is interpreted by the mind as something else. For example being in the shower and the sound of the running water is interpreted as possibly your phone ringing. Or the faces seen in teapots, trucks and clouds. Or Jesus on a piece of toast.
“We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.”
“When we treat man as he is we make him worse than he is. When we treat him as if he already was what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be.”
“I find the great thing in this world is, not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
William James was an American philosopher and psychologist, and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. James was a leading thinker of the late nineteenth century, one of the most influential U.S. philosophers, and has been labeled the “Father of American psychology”. Among his most influential books are The Principles of Psychology, which was a groundbreaking text in the field; Essays in Radical Empiricism, an important text in philosophy; and The Varieties of Religious Experience. He coined the phrase “stream of consciousness” to describe the experience of the mind. He made an enormous contribution to understanding human behavior and to making psychological practice more pragmatic and empirically based. If there were “Baseball cards” for daring, dedicated and original thinkers, he would be Lou Gehrig. The linked article is a fun overview of his life and work. The Thinker Who Believed in Doing.
His theory of Self proposed that there are 4 distinct parts:
“The Constituents of the Self may be divided into two classes, those which make up respectively (a) The material Self; (b) The social Self; (c) The spiritual Self; and (d) The pure Ego.”
My focus here is his model of the Social Self which resembles my model of The Third Mind. The following is edited for relevance from his The Principles of Psychology:
“…Properly speaking, a man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him and carry an image of him in their mind. To wound any one of these his images is to wound him. But as the individuals who carry the images fall naturally into classes, we may practically say that he has as many different social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares. He generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups. Many a youth who is demure enough before his parents and teachers, swears and swaggers like a pirate among his ‘tough’ young friends. We do not show ourselves to our children as to our club-companions, to our customers as to the laborers we employ, to our own masters and employers as to our intimate friends. From this there results what practically is a division of the man into several selves; and this may be a discordant splitting, as where one is afraid to let one set of his acquaintances know him as he is elsewhere; or it may be a perfectly harmonious division of labor, as where one tender to his children is stern to the soldiers or prisoners under his command.
The most peculiar social self which one is apt to have is in the mind of the person one is in love with. The good or bad fortunes of this self cause the most intense elation and dejection …unreasonable enough as measured by every other standard than that of the organic feeling of the individual. To his own consciousness he is not, so long as this particular social self fails to get recognition, and when it is recognized his contentment passes all bounds.”
“For, in fact, what is man in nature? A Nothing in comparison with the Infinite, an All in comparison with the Nothing, a mean between nothing and everything.”
– Pensees, Section II.72
Social network moralizing is a Punch and Judy show.
Listen to us, every fucking thing we say about politics and philosophy is about who is good and who is bad.
I believe many of the answers to the questions that sort of torment and enslave us are available one or two floors above where we do our thinking. I don’t especially mean it in a “spiritual” way as much as in a biological way.
You literally cannot ask or answer any question that isn’t shaped by your hardwired domesticated primate brain. You have free will, but only inside a box of rules.
It never includes a higher insight into why things like racism and war are clockwork for us. These are species quandaries, the well known and poorly understood “fine messes” we are perpetually getting ourselves into. Until we see how they really work and why they truly happen, nothing we say about them helps to change anything. The problem is that war and racism (for example) are aspects of our operating system, they are problems we are not supposed to answer.
Imagine if dogs had competing societies. They would totally relate to the idea”I’ll build a wall!”. Some would say “We need to do a lot more barking!” & some would say “We should all just roll in fish TOGETHER”. They would glamorize alphas and make fun of betas and deltas. They would make inappropriate “racist” statements about cats. And all of their damn Facebook comments would be about how “somedoggy” was or was not a good boy.
Scientists have been explaining for years that race, as people think of it, doesn’t exist. What we think of as race is just a single frame from a movie of human traits, determined by locality, conditions, and culture. These are traits that are selected for by a group over time until they share many common points. These traits could be as changeable as a cloud over time. The time required would be generations long but our enormous human genome could supply as much variety as people want (to mate with). The group usually doesn’t change though, and continuity is the default. Why?
It is deep in us to identify down to our very souls with our local people, customs and styles. We prefer them and strive to protect them. It is second nature to jump to their defense. A better name for these defended traits is “culture” but we should recognize this use of “Culture” as a deadly serious “this is me, don’t fuck with it” business.
In fact, culture is a bigger and more elemental thing than we’ve grasped. All of us have two overlapping states of being. The Individual self; The daily us, with our stories, personal history, etc. This is the self we identify with. The other state of being is a “cell” in a cultural body. Human animals are preset to focus constantly on their personal journey and struggles. It’s difficult to wrench our perspective upward and look down on the massive being we are a tiny part of. Our culture is an organism made of members. That organism uses culture as the definition of self. This definition is used to recognize those who belong and don’t. It’s a pheromone for the hive; a membrane of inclusion or exclusion. In other words, it is the foundation of the immune system of our cultural, community organism. When a cultural immune system goes on high alert it sees enemies in all that is other. This is the ugly moment that outsiders are described as vermin, an infection, etc. Cultural “purity” and nativism surge, driven both by hatred of outsiders and fear of being mistaken for one.
Culture creates a matrix of behaviors, styles, and preferences. It describes beauty and what makes a good man or woman. The phenotypes of people in a given culture are not coincidental, they are part of the culture. It’s like studying nature/nurture within a single family, how do you know where one leaves off and the other begins? People initiate the culture, but then the culture generates and maintains a particular style of people…who then maintain the culture! It is a chicken and egg cycle. the people shape the culture but no more than the culture shapes the people.
We all feel stressed when placed in another culture that does things very differently. That culture is not wrong for being different and we are not wrong for feeling stressed. If you’ve been lifted out of your Monopoly game and dropped into a game of “Hey, that’s my fish!” or “Twister”, you won’t be feeling quite yourself…literally. You have stepped outside yourself…you are an isolated molecule of your own culture, drifting in the wind far from home. This is why “travel is broadening” it is basic brain stretching and it can feel good or horrible, depending.
Think about the early 20th century immigrants who entered New York City through Ellis Island from all over Europe. These droplets of different cultures rolled as quickly as possible straight for the “Little [insert country here] Neighborhood”. There they could fuse with a tiny colony of their own people; the people whose cooking smelled right, whose voices sounded normal. An ethnic neighborhood might be as small as a single block and kids had to be careful coming and going because if they got caught on the wrong side of the street they’d be behind enemy lines. Even later when groups were more settled and established there’d still be for example an Italian neighborhood bordered by Polish and German neighborhoods. Finally, second to third-generation kids would identify enough as American to not make a point of staying in the neighborhood.
These European immigrants were obviously more acceptable to the white and European based mainstream culture of America. The borders of difference were relatively permeable from both sides and group after group eventually became “Normal People” to standard America. Who found it harder? People whose features weren’t European. Asians found the borders unyielding and the other side of the border all too often, dangerous. But the virtual walls around the many Chinatowns and Japan towns were well maintained from the inside as well. Ethnic neighborhoods are reality islands created by pressure from inside as much as out. Continue reading
An incomplete list ~
- A municipal code: the naming of sins, the punishments that follow.
- The rules of forgiveness and mercy. An official cultural conscience. An opening for individual conscience, and a wall limiting it. The technicalities, loopholes, and escape clauses from conscience.
- Shelter from fear. The source of fear.
- Awakening. Sleep.
- A road to power. Reliable safe employment.
- Government. Bureaucracy, Police.
- A creation story or myth. History.
- Business. Charity. Club. Social scene.
- Virus. Immune system.
- The explanation of people. A pricing guide to their worth.
- Hypocrisy. Sincerity. Strength. Weakness.
- Criteria for goodness.
- Bullying. Protection.
- The roles of men and women. Expectations. Obligations.
- A cultural pheromone granting or denying access.
- Reform. Corruption.
- A safe hiding place for evil.
- Poison. Antidote.
- Social glue. Social tar pit.
- Buckets of black and white paint for black and white thinkers.
- Justification for all acts and assertions. An excuse.
- Context. A Map. A path.
- The opiate of the masses.
- Home. Family. Enemy.
- Carrot. Stick.
If a person describes themselves as Religious, all they have told you is that one or more of these things is important to them.