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Thanks For The Glowing Review!

September 10, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

“You really outdid yourself on this one! With this blog post, Multisense Realism moves another step away from conceptual poetry towards a rigorous, model-like vision of reality. Reading it, I felt not unlike Winston Smith reading Emmanuel Goldstein’s “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism”; a wave of recognition illuminating the myriad unexplained phenomena of daily life swept over me.

If God had given Moses an essay like this on the tablets, I think a lot more people would take traditional theism seriously (I certainly would). Were it really written by God, the Bible should read a lot more like an existential user manual (The Idiot’s Guide to Reality, perhaps) than a collection of Aesop’s fables.

I think what you (and some other really inventive thinkers on the internet) are doing is a fundamental shift is the way philosophy (and science) has been done at least since Descartes and maybe since the Greeks. Ultimately, there are two modes and processes of understanding: categorization and association. This polarity has many conceptual analogues: left brain vs. right brain, logical vs. creative, linear vs. non-linear, reason vs. intuition. etc. Most of these dichotomies imply an incommensurability between two modes of thinking, such that, categorical thinkers come to distrust associative thought while intuitive people suspect that the linear minded often can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

The truth is, as with all polarities, the necessity of the opposites demonstrates their fundamental unity as co-dependent modalities. Essentially, philosophy has been in the categorization business for a long, long time. And why not? Philosophy has been a gravity-well for the lefty-ist of left brained people since time immemorial. As such, philosophy has reached a moment of categorical closure. The ideas are all there, laid out and labeled, their necessary dichotomies articulated and argued for. And so, being a dualist is defined by its disassociation from materialism, a utilitarian committed as much to not being a Kantian as he is toward his active belief in preference satisfaction, a nominalist compelled to reject realism as a matter of course. This has been going on a long, long time and, with the internet especially, humanity has essentially exhausted its ideological repertoire.

Multisense Realism steps outside this game, indeed outside of categorical philosophy, to begin articulating the project of association. Instead of enumerating all the ways the various philosophical views are incompatible, MSR seeks to unify them all, by a rigorous teasing out of all the background assumptions that each view tacitly makes which are the actual variables that compel intellectual consent toward one side or the other, fundamentally. Since beginning to think about MSR, what has struck me is the way that ALL serious philosophical (and even scientific, and perhaps mythic) views can be right, or “right enough.” MSR presents a unification of human thought that is threatening to the left-brain imperative to be categorical (not to be confused with the categorial imperative, natch). Up to now, philosophy has been unearthing conceptual dualities, not unifying them. The challenge of unification, the reason it hasn’t been attempted until recently, is, among other factors, that the pieces of the puzzle were too jumbled and disorganized (and undiscovered). Like working on jigsaw, you first start to organize your pieces by color, you look for the edges, you begin to see structure and shapes, and only then can you then start to make the image click into place. To propel the mind to a high enough vantage point for an adequate intellectual survey, the whole of human thought needed to be seen together, linked through time and history; only then could the answer to the riddle emerge in consciousness.

The price to pay for this (or the gift to receive depending on your point-of-view) is that the thing that ultimately has to be negated, or “re-contextualized” in order to generate the ultimate synthesis of MSR is our own sense of self. One’s ontological identity becomes divorced from culture and even zoology. Sense recognizes itself as sense. It’s self-consciousness understanding that it’s JUST consciousness of self. The end point is the same as the beginning. The modern intellectual tradition places a kind of conceptual barricade around the self, a fundamental sense that one can carve the world into “real” things and “me.” (Calling this the ego is a tad simplistic, but it will suffice.) That tree is in the world, but my thought “that tree is pretty” is in “me.” My thoughts, my feelings, my physical sensations are not objective objects in the universe. You can explain the phenomena of the “objective” world, or you can explain the phenomena of the human world. You can even do science about both. What you can’t do, up until now, is bridge the conceptual gap between the two. And make no mistake, what keeps the bridge from being built is not only ignorance (though there is plenty of that), but anxiety.

(A quick digression: Might this distinction between association and categorization be present in our phenomenology? Sensations like color, pain, taste have a categorical quality, they are what they are. But perhaps space is inherently associational. It’s categorical qualities “laid out” in a topological framework that is associational through and through. “This is larger than that.” “The green is on the bottom, the red is on top.” “The pyramid is far away.” It’s far away BECAUSE it is small and it is small because of it’s location in my associative manifold, aka spatial field. Seems like there is lots of room for development here.)

In human history it is the spiritual traditions that have offered a model of the world which bridges the epistemological gulf of “me” and “it,” but, that mode of thinking has always been intuitive (or authoritarian) and rooted in the “faith” of experience as a guide to truth. (Religion is, in many ways, a resignation that we don’t know what the hell is going on. The “certainty” of religious believers mask a radical uncertainty about the world.) Most contemporary spiritual people believe that science and religion are fully reconcilable, but they rarely propose serious conceptual models that explain how. Secular people, conversely, often can’t even see that the problem is there at all, and for good reason; to see it threatens the self which protects the system from the existential disequilibrium that comes from objectifying one’s subjectivity. Make no mistake, there are strong psychological forces at play that keep minds from wanting to understand themselves in a “systematic” way. The “motive-partcipation” force (aka what I call “the Will”) wants always to inflate its sense of control over the world, but, objectifying the subjective demands a willingness to comprehend more realistically how a mind’s current state was determined by the past. Not YOUR past, THE past. Sensing a threat here, many stoic-minded people jump to the end and admit defeat: determinism has to be true. But determinism is a psychological escape hatch, essentially a belief that ends conversation and ultimately eliminates the self’s persistent sense of ultimate responsibility while never directing behavior the way other “actual” beliefs do. Thorough going determinism is a belief that operationally can’t be believed.

But MSR is a different beast. Here, the determined past from the big bang till the present has generated your current conscious state, and as such you are deeply chained and bound, but the principle of freedom, of motive and participation, remain. Experience takes on a quality of hysterical contingency: “I’m here now. I can do what I want. But I don’t seem to have proper information to know what I should want, let alone do, nor how I got here.” Historically, at this existential impasse one either goes mad or becomes enlightened. Either way, there is usually a distancing in the subject from the normal games of human civilization; the carnival of history is always located under the tent of ego and it’s myriad (and intrinsic) ontological and epistemological illusions. These are usually subconscious, or, as I like to think, hyper-conscious, that is, the beliefs of the ego so infuse the regular coordinates of most human experience that they “color” the whole of consciousness and as such are difficult to see directly as the “artificial” constructs they are. What is changing is that the loose and koan-like language of spiritual thought is beginning to be complemented by a rigorous, deductive, “analytical” vocabulary which, though approaching reality from a different approach, is hedging toward (some) overlapping conclusions.

The words we use tell us everything we need to know. These days, physicists, philosophers, and many others openly talk about there desire to understand “the universe.” When we think about the great mysteries, it’s the mysteries of the “universe” that we think we are interested in. If you talk to an average Joe on the street and he says he enjoys reading books on “the universe” or thinking about the nature of “the universe” we might think he’s a bit more intellectual curious than most but we find his interest-set benign and healthy. But, by framing the mystery as “the universe” the key conceptual move is already made. Once you employ a Sicilian defense, you’re never going to be able to play an open game. The universe, in it’s subtle way, objectifies the phenomena in question from the start and implies that space and time are absolute features of the system, beyond which description can’t go. It’s the THING you find yourself IN. Belief in the existence of “the universe” JUST IS believing in space and time as your fundamental Bayesian priors. (This is why the religious and the secular just talk past each other, it’s not a question of argument or “evidence,” it’s which Bayesian prior sprouts their entire belief tree.)

If someone says they are interested in “reality” however, we feel much more uncomfortable. Within this concept is a kind of existential depth that immediately threatens. The ego likes to feel that, although we may not know the secrets of the universe, certainly we have an adequate grasp of “reality.” The very existence of the concept “reality,” with its totalizing undeniability, implies a kind of conceptual truth at the heart of things, a truth which, intuitively, can’t be contained by a “universe” or “a multiverse” or what ever rococo spatiotemporal model you choose to employ. Reality suggests a unity, not a plurality.

Sorry, I meant to reference the contents of your post directly more, but I needed to vomit out all that first I guess. So much more to think about, but, that’s all I’ll say for now. When I read this post a few more times, I’m sure I’ll come up with some questions and thoughts.” – phiguy110

What a great comment/review! Thanks. I’m going to post it on my blog (http://s33light.org) and here if you don’t mind. The part about puzzle pieces is something that I have thought about frequently myself. I feel like my purpose with MSR is to collect collect the corner pieces and put together as much of the frame as I can. I have found that it’s hard to give a good account of the frame of the puzzle without being accused of not having completed the whole thing. Part of that I think is, as you said, that this new approach uses rigorous language which threatens our expectations. If it’s not a completed theory that produces a new kind of spacecraft then you shouldn’t try to sound like you know what you are talking about.

I very much like the parts about stepping outside of the philosophical dialectic, as that’s really the first and most important place to start and I’m not sure that anyone else has even mentioned it. The more important aspect of the mind body problem is not whether they are the same or different or one is part of the other, but that the seeming differences fit into each other like a lock and key. That philosophy of mind’s own polarity of mechanistic materialism vs anthropomorphic idealism fits like the *same* lock and key could not be a bigger deal, yet it is overlooked (in opposite styles, of course) by both extremes.

Your thoughts on space are right on the money also, its just kind of hard to express what makes spatial-public experiences different from all of the other kinds of experiences, and how visual sense is the most public facing sense for a reason. There is a kind of exponential slope in the way that qualia drops off into its opposite. Space is zero privacy, so its absolute inspect-ability is identical to its interstitial adhesiveness. The metric is purely adhesive non-entity which is inferred through the cohesiveness of morphic entities in comparison with each other.

As far as religion goes, I spent a lot of my life at a loss to explain what is wrong with human beings that they would believe these bizarre stories. Later on, as I realized that religions did have a certain amount of wisdom encrypted in metaphor. It wasn’t until I started stepping out of the whole dialectic that I realized that everything that people say about God really applies to our own consciousness, only idealized to a superlative extreme. That of course is a ‘meta’ thing, since idealizing is actually one of the most significant things that consciousness does (significance itself being idealization and meta-idealization). Within all of the religious hyperbole is a portrait of hyperbole itself, of consciousness, and its role as sole universal synthetic a priori. They just got the metaphor upside down. It’s not a God who is omniscient and omnipotent, it is sense and motive (or Will) which are represented as God or as math-physics.

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