More on the CTMU

Wonderful line from a Jeremy Jae one of the posters on this fascinating thread arising from a critical post on Chris Langan's CTMU at the Good Math Bad Math blog:-

Religious mystical experiences are literally anthropological self-interpretations of the core intelligence of the universe implicated within existence. Genius sees behind the veil of this religious garb into the otherness we call God. He experiences an affirmative moment of reflex in the cogito whereby the ineffable sense of the design itself gives some essential variable of it's wholeness. Many have said that genius is close to madness but they have not made the connection that high IQ could be linked to a transcendental form of intelligence i.e. the spiritual dimensions of IQ.

I find that an extremely interesting definition, as it's very close to Aleister Crowley's definition of "genius" (with the "practical" fruits of genius being spinoffs).  The cultivation of genius in this sense is the aim of AC's primary magickal organization, the A:.A:.

More Metzinger

A shorter, more accessible TED talk version of the longer and more arduous, but more complete explanation of his theories Thomas Metzinger gave at a UC lecture I've already linked to on this blog before (link).

It's in two parts: Part 1, Part 2.

I'm guessing the accessibility mirrors his latest book The Ego Tunnel, which is for non-specialists, whereas the longer lecture was based on Being No One, which was a fuller, more scholarly presentation of his ideas.

An excellent example of modern, interdisciplinary philosophical research.  I cannot praise this highly enough.  Really hard problems that have puzzled philosophers - and human beings in general - for thousands of years are nearing solution/resolution here.  For my money, Metzinger is the Son in the Holy Trinity of modern philosophers of mind, the Father being Dennett, and the Holy Ghost being Manzotti.  I think between these guys, the problem of consciousness is pretty much cracked.  Manzotti may seem to be the odd one out (especially as his philosophy is couched in process philosophy terms, which is always a bit of a pain in the arse to some philosophers - Dennett has a similar problem with Umberto Maturana's process reformulation, which is actually quite similar to Manzotti's in some ways), but I'm convinced he supplies an important "missing link" that's not available either from Dennett's groundbreaking overview, or Metzinger's amazingly precise, more up-to-date formulation on the specific subject of the self.  Manzotti lays the groundwork for what I think is the correct answer to the "hard problem" that Dennett just seems to be blind to (although Dennett is quite right, in a way, that there is no "hard problem", but Manzotti answers the intelligence that notices, or thinks it notices, that "hard problem", better than Dennett does). 

Anyway, yeah, Metzinger.  Brilliant.

Small epiphany

Was tootling around on FRDB talking about enlightenment, when I think I actually nailed something quite important (for me), on the distinction between "awakenings" or "glimpses", and full, final "liberation", or "moksha":-

As opposed to the sense of self disappearing in a peak experience, it's deeply, fully and finally understood that there never was a self in the first place.

It's not quite as dualistic here as I'm making it out to be (there's understanding in the peak experience, and liberation may involve a peak experience), but I think I've grasped a subtle distinction that's been eluding me for a long time.  The sense of self is a very different thing from the self.

Further, the latter, liberation, the nonexistence of the self, is to be understood not as a proposition (one can understand the meaning of the phrase "there never was a self in the first place" easily enough), but seen clearly (in a semi-Buddhist example, like a limpid pool on the beach, where you can see all the seaweed, crabs, etc., in bright sunlight).

Another point to note: the sense of self doesn't have to go away.  This is, I think, a crucial mistake many people make.  There's nothing wrong with having a sense that there is a self.  One doesn't need to live without that sense of self (indeed one probably couldn't, it is functional).  Rather, the idea is to understand that, despite there seeming to be a self, there actually isn't one.

Why the Constitution came to be

Haha, plus ça change and all that. Was just browsing about the constitutional history of the USA, and came across this on Wikipedia:

When the war ended in 1783, certain special interests had incentives to create a new 'merchant state,' much like the British state people had rebelled against. In particular, holders of war scrip and land speculators wanted a central government to pay off scrip at face value and to legalize western land holdings with disputed claims. Also, manufacturers wanted a high tariff as a barrier to foreign goods, but competition among states made this impossible without a central government.

My bold.  Isn't that last sentence just delicious? 

Gyrus and contra Gyrus

Interesting reading some Gyrus on pro-noble-savage idea.  Granted people are safer in civilisation in terms of percentage chance of being killed if plonked into it, than they would be if plonked into an archaic culture, Gyrus questions whether the absolute loss of (say) 140 people now is better than the absolute loss of 1 person in archaic times.  It's a good point, but the counter is that Gyrus is forgetting that many more people are also enabled to live due to the same civilizing measures that are reducing the percentage chance of being killed. Plus, what we're interested in is not the sheer statistic or number (and minimizing and maximising that).  The statistics are a guide to making a choice; the point is to consider the situation of the average random person being plonked into X situation.  One only uses oneself as an example to get the point across of how it would be better or worse for anybody.

Moments Metaphysicaux

"This IS, that IS" - the "is" here is the divine portion of our being.

IOW, knowledge is awareness of how-it-is (the way of things, Dao).  What is aware is the world acknowledging itself, in a sense like in Genesis - a portion of the world comes into existence, on the one hand blindly as an expression of Will in the Schopenhauerian sense (In Thelemic Qabalah, the path of The Fool), on the other hand consciously by the perceiving intelligence (the path of the Magician, who is consciously creating illusion); and then it is acknowledged, it is seen as good.

Every moment of experience is existence acknowledging one of its possibilities.

Thoughts on Seligman

Interesting pop psychology, and I think it has huge dollops of truth. 

Any genuine psychology must dovetail with a realistic philosophy.  One reacts to the world intelligently; in attaining whatever one wants to attain, one must go with the grain of how the world actually is, not how it isn't.

But that means, almost, in a curious way, the psychology actually outlines the shape of the world.  IOW, the psychology inside us that's been shaped by evolution, represents a "key" to which the "lock" is nature.  Or to put it another way, our psychology must be the exact jigsaw-shaped piece that fits the whole to complete it.

Christian origins again

To me the idea that fits the facts while conforming with the orthodox story to the extent that the orthodox story had to have some truth in it, is this:- 

The Jerusalem people "St Paul" mentions, were Jewish mystics, "disappointed Apocalyptics", as per Ehrman''s description of such types. (For Ehrman, it's disappointed apocalyptics who form the core of the development of Jewish Gnosticism.  One side-effect of this is the prevalence of apocalyptic language and terms in the Christian canon, but by and large they are metaphorical hangovers, habits of usage from their older, apocalpytic precursor belief system.)

The earliest "layer" of Christian thought in its Jewish form is from a period of optimism following Caligula's death after his threatening the destruction of the Temple unless the Jews would put up a statue of him as a god in it.  (Note: Revelations is from this period, it's actually not retrospective, but comes from a period of propaganda when Jewish mystics were warning their fellow Jews about what would happen if they agreed to allow the Romans to set up "the Abomination of Desolation" - Caligula's statue as a god - in the Temple.)

Caligula's death was seen as a righteous kind of victory, as evidence of the start of the Messiah's campaign, the herald of a new dawn, a new Aeon. Finally a victory against the Roman bastards!  Our god struck him down!

This is what suffuses the earliest Christian materials with a sense of a victory won.  i.e., in the earliest Christian layer (some of the Epistles), there is a prevailing tone of a victory having been already won, already done and dusted - that being what gives the cathartic emotional relief-power of a new, burgeoning religion.

"The Messiah has already been" is the core message of these earliest Christian mystics.  In contrast to other Messianists, who were either looking with longing to a future Messiah claimant, or putting their bets on some contemporary putative claimant to Messiahship, these disappointed-apocalyptics-verging-on-gnostics thought they found evidence in Scripture and in recent events (Caligula's timely death) that the Messiah had already been and had by his obscure crucifixion at the hands of the Archon (the Rulers of this world, referring to the demons in charge and their human puppets), secretly won a spiritual victory, thereby fooling said Archons, who had been lying in wait for the expected royal man of action.  They expected the effects of a supposedly historical, but deliberately obscure spiritual sacrificial act to sort of "crystallize" through into a progressive worldly realization of Jewish hegemony and world peace.

"St Paul" is someone who may have been initially hostile to this cult, but later converted (or the entire conversion story might be bollocks); at any rate, while he participated in a similar perspective on religious truth (that victory had already been won, spiritually), he viewed the victory as more universal in scope - not just for Jews, but for all mankind.

And then ... and then the shit hits the fan.  Then you have the two Jewish Revolts and the Diaspora.

After this dislocation, there are scattered remnants of the spiritual circles seeded by "Paul", the true origins of the movement are obscured - partly out of sheer dislocation of social ties, partly by charlatanry (e.g. Polycarp, perhaps).

The remnants in Rome and Alexandria then either concoct or discover a novel concept - they invent the idea of an apostolic succession of people who actually knew the cult figure, the Messiah, in person.  Perhaps GMark is a literary novel, part exemplary (Stoic-type) biography, part complaint that the Jews hadn't listened to the cult's Messiah when he was around.

When was he around?  Well, GMark invents a more specific time and place for what was previously a merely fuzzy "some time ago" in the very earliest materials.

Bear in mind that this entity is totally imaginary, all the way through.  He's an imagined cause behind recent goings on that had been favourable to the Jews, who had been prophesied.  But while many of these cultists had met and probably spoken to Him in visionary experience, none of them had met, or even claimed to have met, their Messiah in person. 

All that happens is that later on, the notion is invented that the earliest cultists knew the Messiah in person.

Only One Thing Here

There is only One Thing Here.  It only seems, to a superficial glance, that there are many different things.  Those things do not have any independent, self-subsistent existence, only this One Thing truly, independently, intrinsically exists, and we call it all these names.  Everything, every single name or thought that ever has been.

It's a trope that all the names for God are names "pointing to" some X; but all names whatsoever are in the same position of "pointing to" this X. 

The world is not inconceivable but rather perfectly easily conceivable - it's conceived of by us all the time, as this or that, this tree, this flower, you, me, the rocks, the sun. 

This is really what Kant meant - the "thing in itself" is perfectly easily experienceable - as the thing of experience.  It's not as if it's unreachable or we are cut off from it.  (This has been confused with his concept of the noumenon, which is rather a type of means of knowledge, it's a known-thing conceived from the point of view of the means whereby one comes to know it, in the case of the noumenon, divine knowledge, omniscience, God's eye view, sub specie aeternitatis, etc.  Kant denies the knowability of the noumenon, yes, but not of the thing in itself.)

Only One Thing Here.  Of course the tendency is to capitalize and to make something of it, make it a bit of useful knowledge.  But it's just a ho-hum fact, just the bland, background truth.