Ways of Not Knowing

#1
These are preliminary notes on "not knowing". Feedback and comments are welcome and encouraged.

I tend to think that the universe, life, and meaning are all great mysteries.

I think it may be fruitful to share some options for thinking about "not knowing."

Sometimes, people talk like we have solved the great mysteries. People on the scientistic, materialist side of the spectrum sometimes talk like they've got it all figured out, and people on the spiritual side of the spectrum sometimes talk like they've got it all figured out.

Sometimes I feel like I've got it all figured out. But that has never turned out to be case, and I don't think it ever will be the case.

I don't think anybody's got it all figured out. I don't think anybody will ever have it all figured out. It may be the nature of ideas that they are always vulnerable to other ideas.

Some of the great mysteries may be solvable at some point in the future, and some of the great mysteries may NOT be solvable at all. Even that is a mysterious question.

Here are rough notes on what I consider to be the great mysteries:

1. The origins & nature of the universe
2. The origins & nature of life
3. The origins & nature of consciousness, symbolic thought, language, and meaning

See post #2 and #28 for more current ideas.
 
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#2
Rough notes on specific approaches to "not knowing."

I added one item to the top of this list on 8/31/19.

Richard Rorty
Some of these ideas are thought to have their roots in ancient Greek philosophy with thinkers like Pyrrho and the Skeptics. Some argue that Pyrrho picked up his philosophy from his travels to the east (what is now India, etc). Some contemporary philosophers (ie Richard Rorty) suggest that Plato's notion of Ideal Form essentially "won out" and has been the major influence on most western philosophy and theology for the past roughly 2000+ years. Rorty's work (primarily established in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, 1979) is essentially a careful analysis of the more "modern" challenges to Plato's conceptions that Rorty traces through Descarte, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Nietszche, Peirce, James, Dewey, Heidegger, Gadamer, Sartre, etc. There are many, many book in the field of philosophy that explore these ideas, though it is unfortunely difficult to find well-written, readable books that look at how to apply these philosophical notions to the types of questions we explore here at Skeptiko. The American Pragmatist William James touches on pragmatism and mystical experience in his Varieties of Religious Experience.

Lakoff/Turner
Mark Turner and his buddy George Lakoff have been working on "embodied cognition" ... An extremely basic/incomplete summary: the meaning of words, events, objects, etc are all born out of human's physical interaction with the world. For example, basic concepts like in/out are extremely useful in many communication scenarios, but even sophisticated/abstract uses of the concept in/out boil down to the very primal, physical usage of the concept. The same goes for simple concepts like up/down, etc. So Lakoff/Turner claim that language (even our highly abstract language of today) is more to do with our physical experience in the physical world. They go on to essentially claim that this is the reason language/meaning do not "correspond" or "reflect" to some broader "ultimate reality" ... language/meaning/experience are their own container ... or something to that effect.

People like Robert Ellis build onto this to say that even moral questions/ethics, scientific pursuits, aesthetic questions, etc are all judgments within the language/meaning/experience container and do not correspond to some "ultimate truth" or "ultimate reality".

Pragmatism
"Consider the practical effects of the objects of your conception. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object."--C.S. Peirce
William James, John Dewey, Peirce, and more recently Richard Rorty. Ellis & Chapman (below) may be drawing heavily on pragmatism. Perhaps it's a kind of agnostic philosophy, suggesting that the meaning of comes from usefulness and ultimate truths are beyond reach. There is a lot to Pragmatism ... more to come.

Graham Priest on Four-Cornered Logic:
https://aeon.co/essays/the-logic-of-buddhist-philosophy-goes-beyond-simple-truth
Instead of the true/false binary of classical Aristotelian logic, consider the Eastern four-cornered logic: aka tetralemma aka catuskoti: True, False, True and False, Neither True Nor False

Robert M. Ellis
http://www.middlewaysociety.org/

Ellis is an philosopher/ethicist based in the UK. I believe he was involved in some Western Buddhist tradition for quite some time, now presents material on the Middle Way that incorporates Lakoff/Johnson work on embodied meaning vs. respresentational meaning. A fascinating approach to finding space in experience that is not quite pure idealism and not quite pure materialism. The middle ground of agnosticism I believe holds promise as a way forward -- most folks who are interested in these topics are not interested in the implications of strong agnosticism, but that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile in the search for anwers. His material is readable, if a bit dry. He talks about how belief is a subset of meaning and how belief and meaning are subsets of desire/wants/needs/intentions. He mentions that judgment occurs in science much like it does in ethics (what is right/wrong) and aesthetics (what is beauty). He mentions that beliefs, meanings, etc are sort of like crystalizations of the energy of wants/needs/desires and how loosening the grip of those crystalizations can lead to "integration" of contradictions. Ellis likes to talk about moving in incremental steps toward greater objectivity by looking at our rigid crystalizations and trying to loosen them by admitting into our experience the notion that our crystallized interpretation is not the only interpretation that can possibly be made.

Brian Cantwell Smith
On the Origins of Objects
https://www.ontology.co/smithbc.htm
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.100.5447&rep=rep1&type=pdf
https://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/ManzottiPdf.pdf

My interpretation of BC Smith, applied to some of the topics we discuss here:
At any given time, object(s) in the universe at any scale "register" some other part(s) of the universe, but no object(s) ever "register" the universe as a whole. Any object, including humans, can only register some part at any given time. Desire/wants/needs are registries of matter/energy, and they work by processing registers of other objects/processes, which creates meaning. But people have different "frames of mind"--when you're day dreaming and relaxed out in nature, for example, or at a party having a lot of laughs with good friends, you may be running on some particular "set" of registries, but when you're doing some serious thinking on questions of NDEs, mystical experience, philosophy, etc, you would be running on a slightly different set of registries, fueled, perhaps, by slightly different drives/desires/wants/needs/intentions, etc.

His idea of objects is that they are somehow connected and disconnected from other objects in some dynamic, fluctuating way. Some tiny atomic elements interact with other tiny elements, but not with ALL other elements at once. The other tiny element they interact with are a registry, or a part of the whole.

My list of ideas/authors that I listed here is a registry of sorts. If I go to other forums on other topics, I would create very different lists/registries. For example, if I were interested in some certain kind of jazz music, I could create a list/registry of musicians that led to the current kind of jazz. Or if I was interested in creative writing, or world history, or my own history of relations, or whatever, I could create registries.

So frames of mind, as well as different kinds of family upbringing, different cultural backgrounds, personal experiences, etc. can have a major influence on what registries any given person operates from. Any given experience in the universe (moment to moment occurrences) are essentially activated registries, and any given person will engage their registries (meanings/desires/wants/needs/etc) with the registries of what is happening in the universe (more registries). Maybe another way to put it is that it's partial "registries" all the way down and all the way up. Following this line of thought, you could end up with a view of experience where multiple interpretations exist and are serious challenges to each other because they are made of different "sets" of partial registries, and also, you could end up with a view of experience where some consensus reality is stabilized registries and registry interactions, but their could be quirks in the reality based on what registries you and your community have activated when you're participating in it. (Note: Here is where the door opens to all kinds of mystical experience/psi/etc. Also note: all of this is compatible with idealism.)

David Chapman -- Meaningness
www.meaningness.com
Phd from MIT. Practitioner of Western Buddhism. Interested in pursuing middle ground between pure idealism (he calls it eternalism) and pure materialism (he calls it nihilism). Similar to Ellis and Smith in some interesting ways. He is interested in looking at the universe as a constant flux of pattern and nebulosity; fixed versus foggy in constant interplay. Any rigid belief system is bound to be too patterned (rigid) or too nebulous (relativism). Chapman calls different interpretations/theories/etc "stances". Stances can and do change. Chapman likes to posit a "complete stance" where Ellis uses the term "integration". One important difference between Chapman and Ellis, is that Ellis talks about trying to incrementally move away from our plentiful rigidities toward a further kind of objectivity through a life-long process of continuing to loosen the grip of rigid beliefs/meanings/desires.

Phenomenological Research Methods
Jeffrey Kripal talks about phenomenological research methods and uses the phrase "making the cut". This research method lets a researcher focus on specific aspects of a phenomenon, for example, the after-effects of NDEs, without making claims about the nature of NDEs themselves or the nature of consciousness, the universe, etc. This is a helpful tool for researchers in spiritual/mystical topics. If you google search for "phenomenological research" and "paranormal" you will see a lot of researchers do employ this method.

Non-cognitivism
This is a catch-all term that suggests some experiences can't be cognitively understood or even named. I believe this is a key concept for approaching spirtual/mystical experience. But it is extremely difficult, because using a phrase like "non-cognitive experience" is itself a sort of paradox when you consider that naming a phenomenon is itself a first step in the process of cognition. (Non-cognitivism has a very technical meaning in the formal study of ethics, so watch out for that if you google search. This technical use of the term is related to the way I want to use it, but that discipline gets hairy fast.)

This is where the interest in metaphor and ideas of mythopoeia can come in handy to help acknowledge that much of what we say about spiritual/mystical experience is highly metaphorical or even mythopoeic.

Graham Priest
Graham Priest's work in paraconsistent logic and dialetheism (two-truth-ism) is another challenge to classical, Aristotelian logic. Paraconsistent logic suggests that there are specific contexts where some forms of contradiction may be acceptable in logic (and perhaps also in our "understandings" of the universe?).

Wittgenstein
Wittgenstein is a difficult philosopher to understand. But my take-away from my interactions with Wittgenstein is that there may be some "category" that is defined as "that which can't be defined." Which is in itself a paradox. But through paradox, I believe he tries to express something that is not literally expressible. "Whereof one cannot speak, one must remain silent."

Douglas Hofstadter
Douglas Hofstadter and his interest in paradox, metaphor, and self-referential loops as foundations of meaning.

Tao Te Ching
The Tao Te Ching, especially the first few lines -- "The Dao that can be understood cannot be the primal, or cosmic, Dao, just as an idea that can be expressed in words cannot be the infinite idea."

Raymond Moody
In his book The Last Laugh, Dr. Moody coins the phrase "playful paranormal", which is basically the idea that the paranormal is not something that we can fully understand, at least in our current era, and is somehow related to entertainment--see notes above about mythopoeia.

He continues this theme in his study of nonsense, which he considers to be a third category of logic that effectively expands the limitations of the true/false binary of classical/Aristotelian logic. I believe he's trying to open space in our culture for some acknowledgment of spiritual/mystical experience without making unsupportable claims about the nature of consciousness or the nature of the universe.

Mythopoeia
From the Wikipedia article on Tolkien's Mythopoeia: "Mythopoeia takes the position that mythology contains spiritual and foundational truths, while myth-making is a 'creative act' that helps narrate and disclose those truths." I would add that the creative act helps facilitate the generation of those spiritual truths, as well. (Potentially parallels some of Kripal's thinking on writers, artists, and the paranormal.)

When I read forum posts that share theories of the spiritual realms, it seems to me that sometimes people are doing something closer to poetry that expresses hope (or fear in some cases), as opposed to some literal theorizing.

Another analogy: The "distance" between familiar, day-to-day experience and mystical experience may be similar to the "distance" between a true story and a fictional story. "Distance" is not the right word for it, but it seems like a useful metaphor to me, so I'm going with it.

Ernest Becker
The Denial of Death is readable but very dense. My take-away for now is that as soon as meaning "comes online" in humans, both in pre-history and in individuals who are born in the current era, as soon as meaning "comes online", the human tendency is to begin "papering over" the reality of death and all the symbolic analogs of death, such as meaninglessness.

Animism
This is a special case, but I think the idea that all aspects of the universe have some form of consciousness is a metaphorical acknowledgement that all aspects of the universe are in some sense unknowable.

Noson F. Yanofsky -- The approach from Math
I stumbled on this article a couple days ago, It is a slightly different approach to a similar conclusion.
What A Mathematical Formula Can Teach Us About Coincidence
(Discover Magazine. Article is by Noson F. Yanofsky)

My short summary of the article:
He seems to be saying that you can never be "certain" that the meaning of events you create in your mind are the best, most accurate meanings. (He applies Godel's uncertainty principle to certain techniques for comparing "math" to the experience of life. He doesn't specifically mention Godel, but I think he's one of the mathemetacians he's referencing, among others.)

I think we can tell intuitively if our interpretation of a mystical experience is a GOOD interpretation or not. The article suggests, though, that we can never know for sure that it is the BEST solution. It may be the case that there may be a BETTER interpretation. And if a BETTER interpretation comes along in the future, it may be a GREAT interpretation, but we would have no way of knowing that there isn't a better interpretation still beyond that.

Another Article from Yanofsky
https://getpocket.com/explore/item/chaos-makes-the-multiverse-unnecessary

The math is harder in this one. But here is his conclusion after going through some weird math:
"In order to describe more phenomena, we will need larger and larger classes of mathematical structures and hence fewer and fewer axioms. What is the logical conclusion to this trend? How far can this go? Physics wants to describe more and more phenomena in our universe. Let us say we were interested in describing all phenomena in our universe. What type of mathematics would we need? How many axioms would be needed for mathematical structure to describe all the phenomena? Of course, it is hard to predict, but it is even harder not to speculate. One possible conclusion would be that if we look at the universe in totality and not bracket any subset of phenomena, the mathematics we would need would have no axioms at all. That is, the universe in totality is devoid of structure and needs no axioms to describe it. Total lawlessness!"---Yanofsky

Superposition
QM

Meaningness
www.meaningness.com

Feelings and ideas as aesthetic experience

Complexity theory

Agnosticism

Non-cognitivism

Non-conceptualism

Imaginal

One free miracle

Godel -- uncertainty principle

Logical paradox

Qualitative Research Methods

Ethnography
Auto-ethnography
Art-Based Research

The nature of knowledge
 
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#3
Yes, the nature of ability to accept a state of not-knowing, as a logical cognitive disposition, resides in ethical skepticism and ignosticism. However, in these philosophies, it is not only that

'I do not know the answer', nor even that 'I do not know the question'​
But more importantly

I reserve the null hypothesis that we do not possess the Wittgenstein skills to even formulate the appropriate question - but I am willing to test falsifying this null each day.​

Essences of cognition, which I feel are absolutely essential if one is to make the claim to be scientifically literate.


 
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#5
Ethical Skeptic,

I enjoy your web site, and definitely am following up on some aspects. Epoche, for example, is a topic I've started looking into and will continue to look into. Also, the idea of "how would you even know if you're wrong."

I saw that you have identified several fallacies and logical errors that folks have a tendency to slip into. If you could identify errors or fallacies in my approach as I've started describing it above, it would be helpful to me and my process over here, and it would help me further engage in the material on your web site. Not sure if that's asking too much, but I thought I would put it out there for consideration.

--Dan
 
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#6
I reserve the null hypothesis that we do not possess the Wittgenstein skills to even formulate the appropriate question - but I am willing to test falsifying this null each day.​

Essences of cognition, which I feel are absolutely essential if one is to make the claim to be scientifically literate.
Also, it would help me if you could fill in the steps between what I posted and this part of your feedback. I'm not sure how to apply the null hypothesis to what I was saying above.
 
#7
Also, it would help me if you could fill in the steps between what I posted and this part of your feedback. I'm not sure how to apply the null hypothesis to what I was saying above.
Ahhh, gotcha - and certainly ask questions as you see them arise & challenge as well. Anyway, a quick synopsis.

I began founding what I call "Of Authentic Dreams and Pretend Sleep" (one cannot awaken a man who is pretending to be asleep) with two entities inside your list of excellent research topics/personages.

Ludwig Wittgenstein - His Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, the only philosophy book that Wittgenstein published, is based on the idea that philosophical problems arise from misunderstandings/manipulations of the puzzle and interplay of language. Rule-following and private language are considered important - because if you can assemble the lexicon organically and with discrete integrity - then you have command of the discipline.​
No longer an imitator, one becomes the genuine actor. Freed from the bonds of struggling to mesh together confusing and destructive academic repetitions. One learns to apply an arduous and deep life experience inside a strong base of philosophy. Adversity is no longer a fruitless sea state upon which the actor is tossed aimlessly. The chaos of the unknown no longer looms like a storm.​
Actually, weakness in this regard is exploited by fake skepticism - which is one important reason why they eschew Wittgenstein - as his philosophical rigor holds them especially accountable. The fake skeptic is desperate to enforce their favorite answer. Which segues us to...​
Tao Te Ching -​
The gentle outlasts the strong.
When the world defines beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it defines good as good, evil arises
Thus extant and nonexistent produce each other
Difficulty and ease are their own co-creators
Long and short reveal each other
High and low only exist because of each other
From these two bases, one crafts a relaxed Tao with regard to conclusions and the desperation to enforce answers, or the fervency to adopt them in haste - (this is called epoché) - and rather, focuses on developing the language of logic. You will find this for me, here: The Tree of Knowledge Obfuscation. In developing this Tree over decades, one has worn their stone of discipline - even if it means reinventing these terms fresh again. This is your martial art. It is akin to holding a black belt in logical discipline and love for mankind - with the peace of the Tao as its anchor.​
Evil is a Wittgenstein Object. Goodness is not - especially as pertains to this prison inside of which we are missionaries.​
This allows one to become a palace guard of knowledge. Not that you know everything. But one is able to spot and neutralize the enemy of knowledge, the fake skeptic. The useful idiot. Hence the statement of ethical skepticism: epoché vanguards gnosis
evg.png
 
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#8
As I mentioned above, sometimes I feel like I've got it all figured out.
This contains a very important point that escapes most people, both materialists and non-materialists.

Knowing and believing are feelings. You can see "proof" but still not feel like you believe it. Or you can feel like you believe something without proof. When people have the feeling of belief or knowing a "fact", they think the "fact" is true. People accept or reject "proof" based on how they feel.
 
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#9
if you can assemble the lexicon organically and with discrete integrity - then you have command of the discipline.
Not sure what this means. Assemble what lexicon? What do you mean by "discrete integrity"?

Tao Te Ching -​
The gentle outlasts the strong.
When the world defines beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it defines good as good, evil arises
Thus extant and nonexistent produce each other
Difficulty and ease are their own co-creators
Long and short reveal each other
High and low only exist because of each other
I like this passage. Reminds me of a Moody point, too, about meaning and meaninglessness. They both depend on each other.​
This is your martial art. It is akin to holding a black belt in logical discipline and love for mankind - with the peace of the Tao as its anchor.
Evil is a Wittgenstein Object. Goodness is not - especially as pertains to this prison inside of which we are missionaries.​
Hi ES,​
Thanks for the follow up. I notice that you have values associated with your approach. Especially values like love and progress. I think I touched on at least the value of progress in my initial post, and part of me does support and try to live those values. Another part of me wonders how important they really are, from some perspectives. I tried to adjust my original post to include more material about how I post here really as a way for me to continue refining my ideas for myself, as opposed to trying to help humanity as a main goal. If anyone finds what I post helpful, perhaps it is more of a side benefit or accidental byproduct of the process.​
 
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#10
This contains a very important point that escapes most people, both materialists and non-materialists.

Knowing and believing are feelings. You can see "proof" but still not feel like you believe it. Or you can feel like you believe something without proof. When people have the feeling of belief or knowing a "fact", they think the "fact" is true. People accept or reject "proof" based on how they feel.
This is well said, Jim. I appreciate your comment.

I am trying to develop some idea about how ideas and feelings can be similar to esthetic experiences like going to an art museum. It seems like a natural progression for the whole mindfulness thing. Also, I think the first person experience of experiencing ideas, etc, has a lot to do with why I do things like post ideas on discussion forums and spend time thinking about topics that I may or may not really "need" to spend time on.
 
#11
This is well said, Jim. I appreciate your comment.

I am trying to develop some idea about how ideas and feelings can be similar to esthetic experiences like going to an art museum. It seems like a natural progression for the whole mindfulness thing. Also, I think the first person experience of experiencing ideas, etc, has a lot to do with why I do things like post ideas on discussion forums and spend time thinking about topics that I may or may not really "need" to spend time on.

Belief is a qualia, a subjective experience that a conscious being can experience but a physical mechanism cannot.
 
#12
Not sure what this means. Assemble what lexicon? What do you mean by "discrete integrity"?
If you memorize and quote Plato, Kant, Thales - one may gain an academic, or even depth of, or even ability to teach familiarity with philosophy. But in doing so, one does not become a philosopher. The philosopher must be able to assemble from their own arduous experience and mettle of character, their own stone of discipline (the precepts themselves). 'Discrete integrity' means that the terms which describe those precepts (your lexicon) must be precise, and each function in a distinct role, not overlapping with other terms, nor diffuse or equivocal. This discipline, becomes eventually, your discipline against the darkness.

My Lexicon for instance, is The Tree of Knowledge Obfuscation.

It is appropriately posted under a thread called 'Ways of Not Knowing' - as this is exactly what it serves to outline.

You must create these principles inside you - and hold them as learned life lessons - and you may even borrow a name from those memorized philosophers' work, every now and then. But the origin must come principallly from inside you - not primarily academic study.

This is the method of how one turns 'meaningless life struggle and suffering' into a Karl Popper 'treasure' which is carried within their being/essence. It cannot be purchased at a university, is not a biological trait and as well, I suspect that it cannot be lost.

I had an academic PhD in Philosophy tell me 'You got these wrong. This is not what Nietzsche said'. I told him that I did not derive this from Nietzsche, and after I read Nietzsche, found that he missed some critical elements. So this 'lexicon' is simply a named record of the wellspring within you - of spinning the refuse of life's struggle into silk.

 
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#13
Belief is a qualia, a subjective experience that a conscious being can experience but a physical mechanism cannot.
Thanks for mentioning qualia. I got to thinking about what the difference might be between thinking in terms of qualia and thinking in terms of esthetic experience. When I mentally "try on" both those terms as names for experience, there's some subtle felt difference between the two. When I use the word "qualia" it feels sharper, edgier. It feels more scientific and more oriented toward the idea of scientific progress. When I use the phrase "esthetic experience", it feels somehow softer, less scientific, more related to softer things like pleasure/displeasure, more oriented toward stasis or being at rest. I don't know much of anything about esthetics in a philosophical sense. I have been searching for some introductory material to brush up on.
 
#14
If you memorize and quote Plato, Kant, Thales - one may gain an academic, or even depth of, or even ability to teach familiarity with philosophy. But in doing so, one does not become a philosopher. The philosopher must be able to assemble from their own arduous experience and mettle of character, their own stone of discipline (the precepts themselves). 'Discrete integrity' means that the terms which describe those precepts (your lexicon) must be precise, and each function in a distinct role, not overlapping with other terms, nor diffuse or equivocal. This discipline, becomes eventually, your discipline against the darkness.

My Lexicon for instance, is The Tree of Knowledge Obfuscation.

It is appropriately posted under a thread called 'Ways of Not Knowing' - as this is exactly what it serves to outline.

You must create these principles inside you - and hold them as learned life lessons - and you may even borrow a name from those memorized philosophers' work, every now and then. But the origin must come principallly from inside you - not primarily academic study.

This is the method of how one turns 'meaningless life struggle and suffering' into a Karl Popper 'treasure' which is carried within their being/essence. It cannot be purchased at a university, is not a biological trait and as well, I suspect that it cannot be lost.

I had an academic PhD in Philosophy tell me 'You got these wrong. This is not what Nietzsche said'. I told him that I did not derive this from Nietzsche, and after I read Nietzsche, found that he missed some critical elements. So this 'lexicon' is simply a named record of the wellspring within you - of spinning the refuse of life's struggle into silk.
I like the piece about the treasure within, and the last line about turning struggle into silk. I came across this Popper quote today: "There is no such thing as a logical method of having new ideas ... every discovery contains an 'irrational element' or a 'creative intuition'". That is nice. For me there is pleasure in thinking creatively.

I found that Popper quote in a book I just stumbled upon today: Unreason Within Reason by A. C. Graham. Perhaps you are familiar with it; if not there's a search inside on Amazon that shares some nice bit of the introduction and the back cover seems interesting as well.

Here's another nice bit: "A. J. Ayers' Language, Truth and Logic frightened me with the thought that value utterances are neither true nor false, just expressions of emotion." This statement echoes Moody's ideas about statements that are neither true nor false, I think. I am modifying the idea to be about more than just values.

The last couple chapters in the book are about poetics and mythopoeia, so I am keen to see what he has to say on those topics. The whole thing is kind of funny because I brought mythopoeia into my above post basically on a whim without having read much on it, and then there it is in this book that blew me over with just a few quotes that are so close to what I have been writing about.

By the way, ES, I wanted to ask you if you had a book list on your web site?

Ah, another link: The Limitations of Aristotelian Logic by Dean
He may or may not be a crank, but he's entertaining and there's a good bibliography.

I'm not too familiar with the idea that "The philosopher must be able to assemble from their own arduous experience..."

I like to read articles online and books as well, and I certainly rely on those sources to help move my ideas along, so I don't know if I am using only my own arduous experience, etc.

I should mention that it's not a goal of mine to become a philosopher. And I don't think I'm doing "great philosophy" as per the title of the image you posted. That may be part of the reason I didn't get your earlier comment about the "lexicon" and the "discrete integrity."

So this 'lexicon' is simply a named record of the wellspring within you - of spinning the refuse of life's struggle into silk.

I reserve the null hypothesis that we do not possess the Wittgenstein skills to even formulate the appropriate question - but I am willing to test falsifying this null each day.​

Essences of cognition, which I feel are absolutely essential if one is to make the claim to be scientifically literate.
By the way, ES, I am still trying to figure out how to apply this comment about the null hypothesis to the first couple posts I made.
 
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#15
I keep thinking of going to an art museum and looking at some amazing painting. There are many different ways folks may respond to a powerful work of art. Some may get close and look at the individual brush strokes. Some may look briefly and spend more time reading the placard on the wall that talks about the piece. Some may scoff and say "Well, I could have painted that." Some people just stand there and marvel at the work. Some may rush home and buy and read a bunch of books of art history and try learn the exact context for the piece. Some may want to know how specifically the artist made the paining; they may go home and try to make their own painting. Some may go straight to the gift shop and buy a print of the piece so they can have it in their home. Some may look up the artist and go online and learn everything there is to know about the artist. Some may puzzle about the content of the painting--what does it mean on a symbolic level? What was the artist really trying to SAY?

There is an analogy, here, to mystical experiences, psi, NDEs, UFOs, etc. I think there are a variety of ways that people respond to an experience (or to hearing stories of somebody else's experience). Some people may try to ignore it. Some people go online or get a bunch of books and try to make sense of what the hell happened. Some people start trying to make it happen again. Some people go to therapy to try to get over the trauma of it. Some people make compile giant databases and try to find patterns. Some people do scientific research with questionaires or they do research in a laboratory with sophisticated equipment. Some people tell others of their experience--maybe they tell just a few of their closest family and friends, or maybe they write a bestselling book and get invited to talk about it on national television shows.

Generally, I think it's natural for different folks to respond in different ways. Personally, I have read and researched some of the scientific aspects and some of the philosophical aspects of unexplained phenomenon. Sometimes I think I get carried away with that kind of researching. Lately, it has seemed to me that I want to respond differently. I want to try to just let the experiences be mysterious without feeling like I have to understand them in an agressively rational way. I want to marvel at them and feel the emotional response. I want to feel "tripped out" by the bizareness of it all. I want to be a person who leaves the art gallery and lets the experience of the painting work in him in its own mysterious way. I do want to engage in conversations about what it means, and I do want to know about the history and the social context and I want to stay informed about different psychological ideas and philosophical aspects, but I also want to talk about it in the context of my own life and my own thoughts and experiences. I guess I don't want to get so obsessive about some techhnical aspects and forget the mystery and awe of it that keeps drawing me back to these topics.

(Edit: I don't want to come across like I think mystical experience, psi, UFO experiences, etc are all sunshine and lollipops. I know that many experiences are terrifying and/or traumatizing in all kinds of ways. I think my comments here still apply, but I want to address that more later.)
 
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#16
By the way, ES, I wanted to ask you if you had a book list on your web site?

Ah, another link: The Limitations of Aristotelian Logic by Dean
He may or may not be a crank, but he's entertaining and there's a good bibliography.

I'm not too familiar with the idea that "The philosopher must be able to assemble from their own arduous experience..."
Some foundational works which influenced me greatly over the years. One which I left off accidentally is Peters & Waterman, In Search of Excellence. But the rest are listed here:

Foundational Works on Ethical Skepticism

Thanks! Actually I have heard TLAL by Dean referenced by others before, but have never read it. Great suggestion!

Philosophy does not come from study. The only thing study does (and this is my self critique in the last two years) - is allow one to synchronize the names of the principles in their lexicon with the publicly familiar prior art names of those same principles. If, for instance I find that Aristotle had a name already for what I call 'relegation error', and he already called it ' substantiation' - then I edit my TOKO list to reflect his name for the principle and not my made up one. However, I have found, that of about 1900 TOKO entries I have mastered thus far, about 60% were identified and coined by prior philosophers. 40% are critical path philosophies I have gained through an arduous life experience (see link below). The ability to detect a faker, from the real thing.

Philosophy comes from life, not study. And it takes a philosopher to understand this. To wit:

42 Critical Knowledge/Experience Qualifications of a Philosopher – Ancient or Modern

:)
 
#17
By the way, ES, I am still trying to figure out how to apply this comment about the null hypothesis to the first couple posts I made.
Swordmaker's Meme:

The Null Hypothesis is your anvil. It is the surface against which you hammer your carbon infused nickel-iron, in order to form scaffolded carbon steel. You lay your ingot of steel on this anvil, and your hammer is 'going and looking'. Sparks fly with each strike. The anvil does not change, but the Damascus Steel Sword you are making does change. It becomes elegant and deadly. The anvil just sits there, and never changes.

But that does not make you a 'null hypothesist'... just as you are not an 'anvilist' and are rather a sword-maker, even so you are not a 'null hypothesist', but a skeptic. Fake skeptics tend to enforce the null hypothesis, demand proof on a silver platter, and never go and look for themselves - because they do not understand what the null hypothesis is for.

A scientist venerates the null hypothesis, but never believes the null hypothesis.
 
#18
This contains a very important point that escapes most people, both materialists and non-materialists.

Knowing and believing are feelings. You can see "proof" but still not feel like you believe it. Or you can feel like you believe something without proof. When people have the feeling of belief or knowing a "fact", they think the "fact" is true. People accept or reject "proof" based on how they feel.
I think the point of many meditation practices is to learn to see that these kinds of feelings are illusions. When the mind is in a pleasant quiet state from meditation and you notice a thought arises and produces an emotion, after the thought passes the emotion passes, If you observe this enough times and are paying attention, you begin to see that emotions and other kinds of feelings that are produced by thoughts such as knowing, wanting, aversion, owning, winning, self, etc are just illusions produced by the mind. (You see they are elusive, uninvited, and sometimes unpleasant.) The point is not to control (stop, let go of) these emotions and feelings, the point is to see they are illusions (which naturally leads to letting go). The result is not nihilism, the result is compassion and good will which arise naturally as your own "suffering" diminishes. It doesn't mean you no longer enjoy pleasant feelings, it means you are not attached to pleasant feelings.
 
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#19
I think the point of many meditation practices is to learn to see that these kinds of feelings are illusions. When the mind is in a pleasant quiet state from meditation and you notice a thought arises and produces an emotion, after the thought passes the emotion passes, If you observe this enough times and are paying attention, you begin to see that emotions and other kinds of feelings that are produced by thoughts such as knowing, wanting, aversion, owning, winning, self, etc are just illusions produced by the mind. (You see they are elusive, uninvited, and sometimes unpleasant.) The point is not to control (stop, let go of) these emotions and feelings, the point is to see they are illusions (which naturally leads to letting go). The result is not nihilism, the result is compassion and good will which arise naturally as your own "suffering" diminishes. It doesn't mean you no longer enjoy pleasant feelings, it means you are not attached to pleasant feelings.
For me, the "witness part" they talk about in meditation, the part of the self that does the observing, could be looking at thoughts and feelings the way we look at a work of art or a play or a movie. That's what I am trying to say about thoughts and feelings being aesthetic experiences.

I'm not sure about the results of long term meditation. I've taken classes on meditation and gone to meditation centers on and off, but I've never had a daily practice that lasted more than a few months. It's not something I do much now. So I can't speak to the letting go or the arising of compassion and good will or the diminishing of suffering.
 
#20
I was watching the original version of Solaris (spoilers ahead). If you haven't seen it, a psychologist named Kris gets sent out to a space station called Solaris to investigate some odd events that have happened. When he arrives, he finds that the planet around which the space station orbits somehow reads your mind and manifests a person from your memory. For Kris, it manifests his wife, Hari, who had died ten years earlier.

Hari doesn't seem surprised to find herself on a space station. She takes it in stride, but she doesn't really know how she got there. If you were to ask her how she got there, she could make up an answer, but it wouldn't be right, because she doesn't know the answer and neither do the other people on the space station. She would be speculating.

Perhaps, if there were ever to be a sequel, she could have a mystical experience. She could interpret the mystical experience in any number of ways, but she would again be speculating. Maybe it's the nature of the planet to give people mystical experiences that have nothing to do with the truth of how any of the manifesting actually works.

It brings up the question of the possibility of deception. If there is some intelligence in the universe beyond our individual human minds, how do we know that that intelligence is being honest with us when it gives us NDEs, OBEs, mystical experiences, reincarnation memories, etc?

I don't think you even really need to hypothesize some other intelligence or something we can know about or understand. What if, as far we're concerned, it's just the nature of the universe to evolve individual human consciousness that sometimes experiences things that are mysterious--mystical experiences, NDEs, OBEs, reincarnation memories, etc--that have nothing to do with the truth of the universe?

(I don't want to imply that I believe or don't believe in some OTHER that's beyond the human experience. I think there may be. Or there may not be. I don't know.)
 
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