The mechanical properties of atoms is based on their mass and solidity. These properties may be thought of as being inherited from the macroscopic forms of matter that may be gas, liquid or solid. Accounting for solidity is a problem for materialists and immaterialists alike. Materialists must resort to a microscopic explanation. I'm suggesting another route for the immaterialists.
Consider mechanical causality: Ben Johnson kicks a stone in his path. This alleged incident remains the paradigmatic refutation of immaterialism; however, the quantum physical explanation of this incident is highly convoluted and even problematic. I suggest that the only rational explanation is a relational explanation.
There mere kicking of a stone has virtually nothing to say about the nature of reality. What might be more revealing would be the disposition of the stone after the fact. A materialist could confidently expect to retrieve said stone afterwards. An immaterialist might have less confidence without, at least, some further reflection. How might this reflection proceed?
The immaterialist could easily imagine the stone to dematerialize in midair, a fate often suffered by castles in the air. What is to prevent a similar fate for most ordinary stones? Is it merely by social convention that stones do not usually behave in such manner?
We could simply say that stones are not in the habit of dematerializing. Admittedly, this is a quasi-animistic explanation, but animism is a logical concomitant of immaterialism. There is a distribution of intelligence. Such a distribution is implicit in the positing of internal relations. But then how are the relations distributed? Also involved here is a tension between the competing logics of upward and downward causation.
Most of the stone's properties and relations are dispositional, contingent or modal in nature. Modality is endemic to both materialism and immaterialism. Its problems that are implicit in materialism are being made explicit here. For the materialist, the modal properties inhere mainly to the atoms. The bulk properties of materials are less easily explained. Materials science remains largely phenomenological, as do chemistry and biology. Quantum physics is just the science of dispositions. This is where reductionism comes to a grinding halt. Dispositions are entirely relational and contextual. Where do the laws of physics and mathematics reside? Where do social norms reside? Merely in our heads? What about in the events that instantiate them? And what sort of reality do we ascribe to events?
One place that intelligence appears to be is in cycles, both organic and inorganic. Does it reside equally in the individual cycles? More likely is the prospect of identifying the relatively indistinguishable cycles. Instances need not always be individualized. We might profitably explore the consequences of a more general lack of individuality among phenomena.
We have previously posited the zodiacal archetype, Z, as the mother of all cycles. We may suppose that Z is self-exciting and self-differentiating. In 'object oriented' fashion, all its progeny inherit its most general characteristics. The problem we then have is to account for the interaction between cycles. Can this be explained in anything other than a mechanical fashion? We don't want to rule out mechanics, but we do want to be able to transcend it. Can we have the best of both worlds? We have not finished with Ben's stone. Previously I was a bit hasty. Consider where the shoe leather meets the wayward rock.
Walking down a path does not seem problematic for an immaterialist. This is an oft repeated cyclical motion. There is the habitual balance between the force of gravity and the solidity of the path. If the unwary pedestrian were to encounter a patch of quick-sand, the phenomenology would quickly change. How may we salvage this new appearance? Had there been a puddle in the path, there would be less of an issue. The water is disposed to splash. Can we identify the disparate splashes? Is the materialist demon not in the details? How may we exorcise this demon?
One problem with splashes is their chaotic nature. Perhaps we could make a direct appeal to a generically fractal solution without having to resort to atomic physics in each instance. If you've seen one splash, you've seen them all. Imagine dropping a glass of water on the floor. There might only ever be a single instance. The phenomenon would be grossly underdetermined. Is that not also a fact of quantum life? Think of all the wave functions that have to be collapsed, 24x7. We surely don't know how that happens?
Consider the plight of the animator. Yet, each year the end product seems a bit more 'realistic'. Could this trend have any bearing on the credibility of materialism? Where do we draw the line between creation and animation, or between animation and animism? How difficult would it be to program Ben Johnson splashing through a puddle? Would this effort have influenced our erstwhile materialist? Could the programming be done at the dispositional level?
Comparing the universe to a computer is hardly a novel idea (see 'information mechanics' and digital philosophy). Furthermore, it is an idea which immaterialists need to entertain. We are happy to make use of the canned routines, but spare us all the hardware. Objects then are coherent collections of dispositions which may be deployed in contextual fashion. The core dispositions are 'canned routines' from which particular phenomenal instances may be spun-off in an ad hoc manner. But ultimately we need to wean ourselves away from conceptual dependence on objects. Objects instantiate functionality in a teleological context. The Anthropic Principle can play a large role. Given incarnate psyches, the metabolic necessities and strategies will determine the environment, as much as the other way around.
Jurassic Parc may include a Garden of Eden. One advantage that Walt Disney has over us is that he does not have to feed his characters. It is not clear how best to jump start that process. The incarnation will require a concentrated use of imagination, until the individual psyches are gradually able to pick up the slack. There will be pump priming, but then habit and the Telos take over. The world will certainly start out in a dream-like state relative to both the Creator and creatures. The canned routines may be very coarse-grained at first. As the number of creatures multiplies and the survival instincts take over, the phenomenal resolution will naturally increase. This increase occurs as part of the ego-centralization. Also, at first, the sense of presence is quite diffuse, generally encompassing whole phenomenal cycles. Memory is cycle-bound. Creation then tends toward the holographic and analog, rather than the digital.
In this immaterial creation process, incarnation tends to work mainly from the inside out. It could even start out as a role playing game among our zodiacal set. As the players become more involved, their imagination becomes more proficient. The game takes over their psyches. The storyline may then evolve simultaneously on many levels and scales. Creation is simply a MUD with the rules made up on the fly. The time dimension, however, is mainly a construct that is internal to the game, unlike the MUDs hereabouts. So Creation is a MUD that took on a life of its own, as often happens down here. X is the MUD master. I apologize if I have been slow on this uptake. This is not rocket science, nor am I. It seems that I must have been blocking here. It would not be the first, nor likely the last.
That's nice, but next let me try to establish a context. We're dealing with a relational system. The relations are presumed to be of a mental variety. The relations may be conscious or not. The ones that are conscious would presumably be associated with proto-selves. These selves would primarily be conscious of their relations with other such selves. This would constitute the prototype of direct perception. The selves would necessarily be social in nature. Co-dependency is the name of the game. It is in this context that our primordial 'MUD' would arise. Could I fail to point out that X would then be the Wizard of Ooze? There need, however, be no single omniscience.
We then have the problem of separating fact and fiction. The zodiacal proto-selves are a mutual fiction supported by the matrix. To paraphrase Anton Wilson, reality is whatever the zodiacal entities can get away with. What is of particular interest here is the emergence of 'public spaces'. At what point does there exist something recognizable as an agora? Among the zodiac there would be the agoraphiles and the agoraphobes. One might imagine the Star Wars bar scene. Is there a deployment of 'avatars'? This is one recourse for a meeting of the minds. Would the avatars facilitate or inhibit the mind reading?
Yet another angle here is that of Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder (MPD/DID). This disorder typically arises in connection with childhood psychological trauma. In this case the personalities arise mainly to compartmentalize the painful memories. In such a system, mind reading may be possible only after lengthy therapy. We might wonder whether MPD would be conceivable, absent a larger social context.
Omniscience might be the most natural state of affairs. Concentration is unnatural. We think of omniscience as a passive state. An active state would involve concentration and communication. Communication would arise only in situations of relative ignorance. We're delving now into the origins of semiosis. Semiosis arises as direct perception breaks down, but signaling could also be used to attract or distract attention. Then we might ask how the distinction of self and non-self could arise. There don't seem to be any easy questions at this level. All of this to ascertain the provenance of atoms.
If one self can arise spontaneously, then others would as well. They could fall outside of any mutual purview. Or one could inhabit the unconscious of the other, as in MPD. In that case the hypothetical MUD master could take the role of therapist and attempt a meeting of the minds. Without such intervention would there have been multiple Creations? Is this disorder a reversion to a more primitive state? In some sense these MPD selves must be mutually orthogonal, and then we might wonder as to the relevant dimensionality of the mental space. It is not clear how the mechanics of codependency functions for the MPD experiencer. Relative to human existence, the dimensionality of the Matrix must be high. It is not clear if there are any intrinsic limitations of the Matrix in this regard, outside the limitations of the BPW.
Communication requires representation. Representation implies indirect perception. In a system of direct perception, there can be no communication. I'll have to think about that. How do I communicate with a mind reader? I would have to be able to point to particular thoughts, but pointing is a form of representation. Would there be any reason for mind readers to communicate? If I attend to my desire for water, would that not communicate my desire to my gifted interlocutor? That is a form of pointing.
Suppose I wish to read a book. Could I not just tap into the author's mind at the time of the creation of the story? How do I construct the correct sequence? This could be cumbersome. Can there be abstraction without language? Is language compatible with direct perception. Philosophers have often asked whether there must be or could be a private mental language. The issue remains controversial. Could a direct perceiver hope to do mathematics? Can we combine direct and indirect perception without incoherence? Is it possible that direct perception is impossible in any form? How then do we perceive our own thoughts? If there is a mental language, what does it represent? On the materialist view, there are no thoughts, only words. But how might our sensations of odors be cast into words? Then there is the question of the degree to which our sensation of odor is subjective or objective.
I can directly perceive my own thoughts but not yours. Yours have to be represented to me. I may then recreate your thoughts in my head to some degree. But recall that for the immaterialist there cannot be a strong distinction between telephony and telepathy. Information is a peculiar thing. Immaterialists have to be skeptical about it. As presented by the materialists, information is something magical, quite alchemical, even chimerical. The problem has to do with content, or lack thereof. If there is no content, there is no problem, but does that not leave us empty headed? When the materialists set out to prove that we are empty headed, they are p*ssing into a strong wind, otherwise known as the stream of consciousness. They might start out by explaining odor, but they just don't seem to have the heart for it. Mind is a gaping hole in the materialist enterprise. It shows no signs of being filled in, only being papered over, again and again. The rest of us grow weary just watching their Sisyphean labors.
In light of their abstracted nature, I have compared atoms with numbers. But in terms of their chemical properties we ought to compare them with words. A cell is a paragraph. An animal is a story. Atoms point to content and substance. They are abstracted essences. They connote as well as denote. They have intension as well as extension. If we could understand words, we could understand the agora or the plaza, if you will. As goes the plaza, so goes the world.
When offered a penny for our thoughts, we are seldom at a loss to coin a phrase. When the molecular biologist examines a cell, she is able to coin molecules. Atoms are a bit like cash relative to the monetary supply, which is the true economic substance. It may be convenient to have some in the pocket, but we immaterialists prefer plastic, thank you very much. Some writers are adept at cashing out their thoughts, just ask J.K. Rowling.
Our plaza and our world are constructed of atoms and words, so say the materialists. We immaterialists are hankering for a return to the gold standard, if only we could put our finger on it. The gold standard is telepathy over telephony. It is direct perception. It is the cure for the multiple personality disorder that we call the world. To get there we need only to recreate the primordial plaza. That is tantamount to recreating the first word. Was it the OM, the Zim-zum or maybe Pi? My hunch is the lattermost. It covers the territory. The plaza is the territorial imperative. It is the omphalos, the pyramid. The pyramid allegedly encoded pi and phi, and many other syzygys, zodiacal and otherwise. We grasp for the Cipher of Genesis. Somehow the content was trans-formed. There evidently needed to be some sort of anchor for this process, a stationary point, as the mathematicians would say, where the content is the form and the form is the content. Is Pi not the transcendental pi-vot between algebra and geometry? The Cipher has been right under our noses the whole time. Pi might conceivably serve as the tribal peace pipe for the primal zodiac. Our world is their pi~pe dream. Knowing Pi, it should be possible to derive the mass of the electron, don't you think? This is in the spirit of e^i*pi. Monstrous moonshine has more or less demonstrated that. I would like to think that we are about over the hump. It would be nice to be able to start coasting. We have come a long way to find the path home. Perhaps we will be seeing it for the first time.
Today, weather permitting, will be what has become my annual meeting with Ron. He has had some interesting connections in the government, and has, in the past, shown some interest in my activities and ideas. Also he has, on occasion, arranged meetings for me with people who might be sympathetic with some of the ideas expressed here. I'm thinking it would be neglectful for me not to request another such a meeting. There has not been one since I began working on this website. Permit me then to use this space to collect my thoughts regarding this possible request.
As I understand it, Ron's professional responsibilities at one time, anyway, included what he once referred to as 'phenomenology'. This label was apparently being used more in its scientific rather than in its philosophical sense, i.e. he was dealing with 'uncorrelated' phenomena. I realize that I am raising more questions than answering, but please bear with me. This is a murky area, at best. Let's explore a putative rationale.
The bottom line rationale is presumed to be national security. This is an open ended area of concern, and, to put it very succinctly, it would be Ron's responsibility to make sure that the concerns do, indeed, remain open ended. How so?
National security concerns itself with any threats not covered by domestic law enforcement. It might even be construed to cover natural threats such as global warming, for instance. Indeed, eschatology might well constitute an area of such concern, and if it does not already, perhaps it ought to. But right away, you may appreciate the problem of trying to be open ended relative to questions of security.
Here's a for instance. My first contact with Ron was in connection with my personal interest in the 'crop circle' phenomenon back in the early fall of 1991. It occurred to me that there ought to be some governmental concern about this peculiar phenomenon. It took very few phone calls for me to get through to our erstwhile phenomenologist. Part of his responsibility was to be open to outside information and ideas. I made known my eschatological interests from the start. He maintains that I was the first to use that word in his presence. What followed was a considerable amount of communication up to and including 9/11/01. Since then, contact has devolved to this annual custom. Those communications covered a wide spectrum of interests and activities, and have undoubtedly exerted a subsequent influence on me. Also I was not averse to broadcasting this connection, as you see here in retrospect, to the point that I was the de facto PR person for 'phenomenology'. My first weblog was more liberal in its discussion of this 'liaison', if you will.
With that background, it ought to be quite appropriate for me to press for a review of the BPW rubric, under the aegis of whatever might remain of the 'phenomenology network'. Of course, and as always, the mixing of eschatology and national security is likely to be a ticklish endeavor, from any PR perspective. My philosophy has been to grab this bull by the horns, and not worry too much about the bric-a-brac, but I am sure there are plenty of potential correspondents who would not be comfortable with such an MO.
At this point, though, I am not intent on making waves. My first concern is to find whoever might be the best person to critique the BPW hypothesis. I would hope to avail myself of that input for some reasonable period, before attempting to generate any wider interest. In that time frame, the web log would be focused on sharpening these idea and whipping them into a more presentable format. I might draw the line, however, at undertaking anything as potentially distracting as publishing a book, for instance. I would be happy to leave that chore to whomever, while I continue to keep my radar screen clear for all sundry of incoming, relevant thoughts. Disrupting that established MO might be counter productive. It is hard for me to imagine that in my not so many remaining years that the BPW hypothesis is likely to be other than a continuing work in progress. In as much as I attempt to synthesize these disparate ideas, and, yes, make them more coherent, it would probably have to be in close collaboration with a critic such as mentioned above. Well, wish me luck.
The first step in this new 'Aquarium' initiative would be for me to write up a two-page proposal, under Ron's implied imprimatur, that would be sent out to some specific individuals in his general orbit. It would be a request for suggested names of potential critics. Any such could remain anonymous to the rest of the world, but at least portions of our correspondence should be available for posting here, following past protocol. I would be happy to provide any ad hoc synopsis of these ideas as would facilitate this critique. These synopses should easily benefit the on-going presentation here. There could well be a sequence of BPW critics, with each new one having some responsibility toward a continuity of effort, up until a wider dissemination could either be effectively pursued or dismissed.
There is the old Aviary story of Ocelot & Co, periodically traveling to Los Alamos, perhaps to consult with a visitor, to determine if the time was right for whatever. Well, the sense I got yesterday was that we may be getting a green light. Many of us have been impatient for some action, but, once things start moving, most of us will be wishing it would slow down. We'll be pining for the good ol' days. We humans are hard to please.
[2/6/05 - Here are some Aviary sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.]
Timing is a big issue, and mostly outside of our purview. The Gregorian calendar was probably no accident. It does mark millennia for those of us who are into millennialism. And neither was 9/11 an accident. The aquarium was maintained in a ready response mode until about 1999. At that point things began to slack off. It was as if there were growing confidence in Plan A, including the WTC. Now that the dust has settled a bit, it seems timely to recommence where we left off. That is my interpretation. The aquarium agenda is to be readdressed. Yes, the R & D show may have to go back on the road. I spontaneously volunteered to make a proposal to pelican, humor us, concerning the above critiquing process. It would be duly considered. Permit me to elaborate on that. In the meantime I hope that we can maintain this open channel, but that will be possible only if it is not abused, and that means YOU, dear reader. Let us put aside our childish ways as we prepare to reenter the home stretch, only as the true children that we are. Once again, excuse my prose, and keep in mind that minimalism is supposed to be the order of the day. Obviously cryptography was never meant to be my strong suit.
I recognize that the BPW is not ready for prime time, but perhaps this is good enough for government work. My job is to be a pump primer. There may be just enough juice here to prime somebody's pump. Our real task is to locate that somebody. I'm asking pelican to assist in that task. Google and I cannot do it alone. Frankly we need some muscle. More than that we need a context, and lacking a context we need a pretext. If R cannot generate an adequate pretext, then I am sorely mistaken.
All I need is a final pitch. [a] [5/8 -- I'm still struggling to put together my 'two page synopsis' of the BPW hypothesis. I will be in the process of reworking this material on the following page.]
There are many who are reluctant to admit it, but it may well be that with respect to the mind, materialism has run into a brick wall. What then are our options? Whither modernity? The only thing for sure is that we cannot turn back the clock.
The Aquarium contingency is just to explore the possibility of immaterialism. To most people, particularly scientists, this might seem to be one of the least likely or least practical responses to the mind-body problem. Be that as it may, that is no excuse for all of us to ignore it. Every significant contingency must and will have its day in court. I maintain that this one has not. Not now and not up to now. Its time will come. I'm urging that there is no time like the present.
Yes, there are plenty of pantheistic immaterialists out there. There are even a few theistic ones. All that I am doing here is to take the best parts of both of those worlds in order to construct the Best Possible World. And then I maintain that this BPW is also, quite obviously, the only coherent world. This is the only place on Google that you will find a coherent cosmology that includes the mind. If you can find anything even approximating it, please let me know.