Sunday, July 09, 2006


From Straw Dogs by John Gray:
"Truth has no systematic evolutionary advantage over error. Quite to the contrary, evolution will 'select for a degree of self-deception, rendering some facts and motives unconscious so as not to betray -- by the subtle signs of self-knowledge -- the deception being practised'. As Trivers points out, evolution favours useful error: 'the conventional view that natural selection favours nervous systems which produce ever more accurate images of the world must be a very naive view of mental evolution'."

Could belief in God be one of these self-deceptions that has developed because of its evolutionary benefits?


Blogger t.napier said...

i agree with john gray.

God as an archetype is the evolutionary illusion we needed to organize our world.

then science came and replace parts of our God-head worldview with universal claims (that we take as "truth" after many observations, much like 'inconvenient' human-caused "climate change" truths), now quantum physics and wisdom religions are integrated - they see the universe in the same way from different perspectives - claiming we are all connected on a subquatum level in a nested system of hierarchies. upward causation yield non-free will, downward causation yields free will, and so it goes as a dance. our brain, "ultrasensitive quantum systems" can act in nonsensory modes - the most fun being psychadelics.

so God as an understanding of the workings of the universe - and that the complexity of the system (most advanced whole being the brain) will reveal ever deeper understanding through consciousness of itself - allows for our 'mythic' and even 'rational' understandings to be preserved and their exclusiveness to be negated.

3:22 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I read Amit Gaswami and Amy L. Lansky's papers (from your profile) and while what they say is interesting-- especially about spirituality and the belief in materialism-- I couldn't see how their arguments lead to humans being responsible (truly in control) of their actions.

Maybe you could explain downward causation better so that I could see how it amounts to free will.

11:27 PM  
Blogger t.napier said...

"self-awareness exists to serve the meme"

in the real world:
understanding this is what jeff vail in "a theory of power" (free online) claims "breaks that bond of servitude", also what he says acts as enlightenment. realising how our meme's (or as my am. indian prof would contest "traditions") leverage power over us, as so often seen in religious traditions, is particualry vital at this point in evolution.

in talking about being:
the upward causation part is in reference to how the "within" - consciousness - is evolving. Teilhard de Chardin in "the phenomenon of man" says the "without" and "within" evolve together, though most are only aware of the "without" evolving. we see consciousness evolving in creativity and intuitive leaps forward.

8:14 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

Are you saying that the ability to understand the human condition with regards to the power-relationship with memes (their power over us)-- that this enlightenment or evolution of the "within"-- gives us free will?

Because, if this is what you're saying, it doesn't seem to me that by simply understanding that memes exert power over us that this amounts free will-- at least not in the classical sense of the term. Coming to the understanding that memes use humanity-- doesn't mean that we freely choose to come to this understanding, and therefore, if we choose to act a certain way in accordance with this understanding (by implementing something like a rhizome structure)then we are simply acting as part of the dance-- part of the evolution of the meme.

And thanks for directing me to Jeff Vail's "A Theory of Power" it's awesome. Everyone should read it.!

9:51 AM  
Blogger t bone said...

ill elaborate on the "upward" "downward" concepts more and try to paint a more coherent picture - though admittedly i am just beginning to grasp these words

i see free will as connected to the concepts of "emergence" "self-organization" and the quantum reality of "potentiality"

"causa non aequat effectum, causation is only a necessary constraint, but not a sufficient one as it is in mechanistic causation"
-wolfgang hoofkirchner

this paper was interesting, where i saw that phrase first [ goes along with jeff vails paper ]

Ervin Laszlo also talks about "upward causation" and "downward causation" in "The Connectivity Hypothesis" a book that looks at the future of what he calls "Integral Quantum Science" where physical, biological, cosmological, psychological and consciousness sciences are integrated to negate their partiality and says it this way -

the classical varieties of "hard" determinism apply principally to the relations of parts within a system: these constitute "upward causation" by jointly codetermining the structure and function of the system formed by them [ what jeff vail helped us see with his "enlightenment" sentence ]

he continues:
however...a more subtle yet equally effective form exists as well: the soft-determinism that comes about through the interation of manifest entities with the formative patterns of the virtual domain [ broadly called consciousness - though he elaborates on the universe being a "cosmic plenum" of dynamic energies ] By in-forming the particles and systems of particles with the wavefunction of their superordinate systems, this interaction produces "downward causation."

additionally its important to note the importance he places on "fields" and "information" as being two fundemental concepts that will reshape our understanding of how the universe works, as seen in the frequent referecnes to "in-formation/in-forming" and "wavefunctions" which operate theorectically through fields.

"In order for there to be downward causation, it must be possible for a whole to determine the behavior of its parts, rather than the other way around. It must, for example, be possible for a brain to control its atoms and molecules, rather than always have the atoms and molecules controlling the brain. Downward causation is thus also called "macrocausation", because if it exists, then macroscopic entities have causal powers over the atoms of which they are made."
[ laszlo's in-forming wavefunctions ]

so in short:
for us to influence our cells (or relationally any lower system) - wavefunctions of higher systems need to in-form the lower systems

for us to influence our man made institutions - realize WE are the ones who GIVE the power to the whole (nation-state, church ect...)

ken wilber said it even shorter:
the lower sets the possibilities of the higher, the higher sets the probablilities of the lower

also its seems both happen - necessarily - at the same time to futher the evolution/involution of cosciousness, as if consciousness is, as bucky fuller said, creating models that make existing models obsolete


4:00 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

My logical problem:
In order for there to be free will, we have to say that causation in the human mind is such that we break the bond of upward causation in such a way that we cause the atoms and molecules in our brain to act in accordance to our will. Macrocausation, by itself, is not enough to guarantee free will; as in the Teed Rockwell quote you provided-- "It must, for example, be possible for a brain to control its atoms and molecules"-- we must go farther than this and state that, in order for there to be free will, the way in which the brain controls the atoms and molecules must be such that the rational self can freely choose the state of the mind.

As in the proof against free will that I posted

"It is not simply that one must have caused oneself to have that current state of mind; that is not sufficient for true responsibility. One must have consciously and explicitly chosen to have their current state of mind and they must have succeeded in bringing about that desired state of mind."

I don't feel that anybody has sufficiently shown this to be the case.

My hippie problem:
The problem I have is that I have observed the causality in my own mind (which became especially, and somewhat uncomfortably, clear after ingesting a certain psychedelic). First, I came to see that I have no control over my thoughts-- I saw each thought feed off of the previous thought in an endless string. I tried to gain control of that string but there was no stopping it and no end to it... like the causal magician pulling an endless scarf from his sleeve. I also came to see that I have no control over my actions. I saw that the facilities that I was using to make choices about my actions were all stemming from something that was outside of my control: from previous thoughts, experiences or choices (which were based on choices of choices of choices, ad infinitum).
While this may seem ridiculously simple in comparison to the articles you provided-- the clarity with which I experienced this causation was infinitely more convincing than the possibility of our brains being able to control atoms and molecules.

1:15 AM  
Blogger t bone said...

logical problem:
in saying there is an "infinite regress of choices" we could say our ideas are built upon the whole of mans knowledge ... and ultimately the whole of the universes knowledge, with which i agree.

because we were only an egg and sperm once, and before that matter of food, and before that something else ect... we are forms matter moving with energy always changing. the 'without' is caused and depends on everything before it just as 'within' of things.

the the fileds of gravity, elctro-magnetic, and nuclear forces have affects, but our fields of thought aslo do.

and even though our thoughts most of the time are not "ours" (though later i will say original symbols and concepts can be created) - i would say it is possible to chose the state of mind that exists in the universe, seen in meditation and in spiritual people, or people devoted to ideals/morals/ethics ect...

the hippie problem:
the faculty that calls free will back into the came for me is intuition, instinct, creativity, not saying the symbols will be original or it wont look familiar, but new concepts and modes of operation, like thinking the earth is not the center of the universe, or basing an economy as dependant on the earth (not the other way around) show the capacity for original thought

paolo soleri came up with archology during a siesta, newton came up with calculus while daydreaming under a tree, einstein stumbled upon relativity in a basement. they all showed insight in a completely original way seeing the things they dreamed about differntly than others did, whether you dream about building cities, or the moving world, or light.

the scientific way of doing this, which is most easily taught (as im guess only oneself can teach themselves to harness their creativity) is throught skepticism and criticism.

so neuroscience... the brain has the ability to form more wrinkles as it learns new faculties. underuse produces the opposite smooth effect. so lets doubt for the moment the person is conscious of "new faculties" being made, and instead just does or thinks things now he could not do before (or at least more efficiently/ effectively), he then would then seem to have better instincts or intuitions. regardless though the more complex brain he has is working in a higher developemental mode, like with children.

if a person is conscious of this nuerochange and more integrative way of being (or a group consciously affects members) - downward causation

if the person just relies on instincts when it happens (or causes social changes) - upward causation

of course ill check with the neuroscience part but i believe the claim about new nueral connections and wrinkles forming, i assume potentially to anyone of good health, to be true


3:04 PM  
Blogger t bone said...

"seen in meditation and in spiritual people, or people devoted to ideals/morals/ethics ect..."
- this was in reference to the power of intention, concentration, and focused mental states ... its the closest to the "rational self can freely choose the state of the mind" necessity you stated, if we consider choosing to meditate, or choosing to be virtuous rational actions.

also i have strangely seen that it seems my answers better answers the opposite label: "logical" response provides maybe a better answer for your "hippie" part , and my "hippie" response seems to answer you logical part better

go with the gut/ intent to be virtuous - in response to be rational


see history of universe - in response to the "ad infinitum" reality we live in

4:36 PM  
Blogger t bone said...

restated response to logical problem:

"I don't feel that anybody has sufficiently shown this to be the case."

the brain "reorganized" without the musician knowing - but only through "use-dependent" coordination. consciousness and the brain cells are sufficient but achieved reorganzation only after mutual interaction in their respective local spheres [consciously recognizing musical patterns downwardly causes reorg. (free will)- increase in nuerons/sychronicity allows for higher processing of tones('free will for nuerons')] - free will through mutual coordination

and to the hippie problem again:

" infinitum"

the levels/waves/stages of development in this show how new ways of being can emerge : self organization yields dialectical/multi-cultural perspectives from ethno/anthropocentrism

this though also shows how it is a spectrum (or spiral as don beck, responsible for the color scheme, would say) and each person can act in all of these ways. however the "yellow wave" "integral" self requires a "radical leap" to come into being.

this spectrum of developement is as we said and you described earlier continuous, no beginning cause. however quality/context/value can change through evolution/involution.

this view of exhistance as connected and the universe as one all the way back and forward is perennial wisdom from many religions. "my" thoughts,'the within', right now are really "the universes thoughts" in developement through me, as with the 'without', though if i am conscious now of my thoughts i am activily engageing the universe, the spectrum.

the "control" you sought can be descibed as "the middle way" or "mindfullness" in buddhism - learning the dance of part/whole, inner/outer and evolution (creative intuition, morals/ethics ect...- reason and instict ect... required for being a better dancer)

nothing exhist in isolation.

if we chose to dance in step with the universe we have free will, and consequently allow/assist in evolution.

free will means my ego, elliott, neither my greater whole or smaller parts, or my diffused consciousness (as with alter states of mind) decides what my thoughts 'within' and actions 'without' will be - either deciding to give up my decision faculities to the group/cells passively/actively or deciding to make choices personally - using the thoughts and actions that one can "see" on the spectrum.

with sight, freedom.


3:33 PM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

You said:
"in saying there is an 'infinite regress of choices' we could say our ideas are built upon the whole of mans knowledge"
"because we were only an egg and sperm once, and before that matter of food, and before that something else ect... we are forms matter moving with energy always changing. the 'without' is caused and depends on everything before it just as 'within' of things."

I agree completely with these statements.


One more stab at it:
We are born with mechanisms that have developed because they increased our chances for flourishing-- from our birth we use these mechanisms (one of our main mechanisms being "increase pleasure & avoid pain"). Naturally, at our births, we have no choice as to what these mechanisms are-- and so from this mold we develop. We, because of the makeup of our mechanisms and the environment in which we use our mechanisms, as humans develop in a great variety of ways. Some of us come to live our lives striving to watch killer baseball games while getting super wasted (instinctual life); and others of us will come to live our lives striving to develop ideals/morals/ethics or to base economies on earthly dependence (integrative thought). It certainly seems, from this luck of the draw, that the cosmic movement of the "without" and the "within" is such that the way we are is the only way we ever could be--we have neither control over our mechanisms nor control over our environment-- what do we have control over?


you said:
"'my' thoughts,'the within', right now are really 'the universes thoughts' in developement through me, as with the 'without', though if i am conscious now of my thoughts i am activily engageing the universe, the spectrum."

The first part of what you said above (through 'without',) is equivalent to what I have said above. Though, in response to the remainder, I say this: You never chose to become conscious of your thoughts, the cosmos/nature is such that it has lead you to come to this understanding--and once you come to this understanding, you are not engaging the universe-- the universe is engaging itself.


On original thought:
As we go down our path, our brains gather information. We have "with-in" causation that allows us to bounce this information off of itself. From this we are able to come to new understandings and come up with novel ideas. For instance, if I gather knowledge of a horse, knowledge of horns and the knowledge of mixing things together-- the nature of my brain could develop the idea of a unicorn. We have invented computers that do this very thing ( granted these machines are inferior to humans in the respect that they lack the sophisticated mechanism that allows judging of the usefulness of creations.


The Musician article has added an interesting piece of the puzzle for me (7)-- though I still don't see that it helps attribute responsibility for action.

What I have of the puzzle:

(1)My thoughts are influenced by other thoughts.
(2)My thoughts are influenced by the physical world.
(3)1&2 are the only influences on thought.
(4)I did not choose my first thought.
(5)My thoughts can realize my thoughts.
(6)My thoughts affect the physical world through my actions
(7)My thoughts affect the physical world through (1)&(5) affecting the physical makeup of the brain.
(8) My actions originate from thoughts.
(9)-from 1,2,3&4- I cannot choose my thoughts.
(10)-from 8&9- I cannot freely choose my actions.


5:17 AM  
Blogger spankidiots said...

I should have gone further with the "puzzle" and, after #8, added something to the effect of:
we choose our actions from our thoughts and our choice making mechism develops from the experiences that influence our thoughts

From this, I think, 10 is logically proven-- but what it comes down to is that, when a person makes a choice, there were (I believe) causes that lead to that choice. Thus, there is always an answer to the question "Why did X do Y at time t?" So if there is always an explanation as to why X did Y at t, then the question arises: Could X have done Z at t? Since there were causes that lead to X choosing Y, then it follows that--given the makeup of the universe(the movement of the "with-out" & "with-in") at time t--X could only have chosen Y; choosing Z would require that the makeup and movement of the universe be different in order for there to be a different string of causes.

3:36 PM  

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