Why I'm an Idealist

Maybe it’s just the reductionist in me, but I’m attracted to monism. To be fair, exactly one ultimate type of stuff seems less oddly arbitrary than two, three, or any other number of types (and an infinity of types of stuff sounds like a pointless clusterf_ck). Zero types of stuff sounds plausible too, but for some strange reason Stuff Exists rather than nothing ever existing.

Another good reason to be a monist is that, if two different substances were 100% totally unique, they’d have no common grounds on which to interact with each other. There’d be no language, protocol, or rules to determine in what ways one affects the other. They’d miss each other completely. And if two substances do interact with each other (and therefore and have the common mechanics necessary to do so), it seems fair to assume that they’re only patterns within a third, more fundamental substance—in other words that they “boil down to” the third substance—or that one of the two boils down to being merely patterns within the other.

Mind and matter/physical stuff seem like two totally distinct types of extant (hence the relationship between mind and matter being such a fundamental/popular topic in philosophy), but as per monism we should probably assume that either they both boil down to a third substance, or one boils down to the other. We know of no third substance, so the more parsimonious tack would be to assume that one boils down to the other. So which boils down to which?

The more popular and academic approach seems to be that mind boils down to matter/physical stuff. I argue why this position is incogent here: https://myriachromat.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/notes-on-science-scientism-mysticism-religion-logic-physicalism-skepticism-etc/#Emergent. The text follows:

Scientistic zealots, in their crazed endeavor to explain (away) consciousness and everything else, often turn to the concept of “emergent properties” to explain how consciousness “arises from” inanimate material processes. Per emergent properties, macroscopic phenomena seem to arise out of nowhere as a result of the interaction of their microscopic parts, and consciousness seems to arise out of nowhere—at least in that it’s unaccountable for—so therefore consciousness must be an emergent property.

But emergent properties should be mechanically understood and derivable (such as by arriving at a snowflake by simulating water molecules or by reasoning about them with sophisticated math), or at least derivable in principle with enough knowledge of the workings of the system. That’s not the case with consciousness as an emergent property, because consciousness isn’t even a physical concept (like, say, snowflakes and their constituent atoms are). So emergent property as something truly understandable is thus abstracted and objectified as a concept, and then overextended to apply where it doesn’t belong. Thus accounting for consciousness via “emergent properties” seems to me like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Consciousness is not a physical concept. By that I don’t mean that consciousness is not a physical phenomenon, which would beg the question, but that epistemically the concept itself is not in the category of “physical things.” The things that consciousness is supposed to reduce to are physical, and therefore that’s a category error.

There’s also a certain irony in concluding that the mind and its ideas are made up of material processes: we know of our own inner experience first and foremost, and then as we develop we gain concepts of things we think of as external to us, those things that are physical. But the external remains a secondary consideration both chronologically and epistemically. Then some try to account for the inner experience, including all of its ideas of both the internal and external, as subordinate to or secondary to the external (which is ultimately never more than an internal concept, insofar as we can know of it). It seems absurdly contortionistic.

Also, consciousness / experience as we know it (not as we theorize about it after objectifying it as a concept) seems, at least to me, to be a fundamentally singular thing, and in that case it cannot possibly be made up of / arise from many smaller things. Complex collections of things do not make up fundamentally simpler things (except insofar as we see / abstract them as simpler things); to think otherwise would be irrational, because a thing is at least as complex as the sum of its parts. So it seems to me that consciousness / experience / self-awareness simply cannot be made up of non-living elements.

Tanasije Gjorgoski makes a good argument (in the form of reducio ad absurdum) as to why consciousness can’t be a property of a neural network here and here.

https://myriachromat.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/notes-on-science-scientism-mysticism-religion-logic-physicalism-skepticism-etc/#Reductionism is also relevant.

So, having ruled out mind reducing to matter/physicality, we’re left with matter/physicality reducing to mind. If this seems impossible, notice that, as pointed out in the above quote, we only know of any material things through perception, and perception can easily be generated by mind.

To be honest, characterizing everything not physical about us as “mind” seems vacuous and overly analytical. I believe there is more to life/consciousness/awareness/experience/the divine spark than either mind or matter. I think mind is an aspect of life, and I think it’s more accurate to say that physical reality is somehow produced by life per se than by mind alone. To wit, all that exists is life.

In what manner and for what reason does life give rise to the perception of material, which appears to be lifeless? I think there are two possibilities: (1) Physical reality is a projection of mind for the purpose of having a particular kind of experience, or (2) Physical reality is a perspective under which we perceive life or a particular part of life, which we incorrectly deem to be lifeless. If (2) is correct, then that raises the question of why some life (or all life?) appears to us to be lifeless.

Firstly, our mode of perception of the world depends heavily on the form of our beings, particularly our bodies (whatever they may really be) and their sensory apparatuses, and not to mention the size-scale at which we exist. We’re so immersed in our God-given (or at least nature-given) mode of perceiving the world that it seems to us that our model of the world is the one and only correct way of seeing it.

Plato’s cave opened our minds to the possibility that the way we see the world may not be the way it actually is. (Maybe there is no “the way the world actually is” because to be a perceiver of the world is to have a be form of being, which implies having a particular, perhaps necessarily arbitrary mode of perceiving the world, but there may be some modes of perception that are more direct or free from illusion than others.)

As another example, a even a periphery study of color vision will dispel any notions of realism in how we perceive objects—or at least their colors—pretty quickly.

So it could just be that our bodies are formulated in such a way that we perceive life (or at least some life), including the contents of our own bodies, as being solid, in stasis, mechanical and lifeless and we call it matter. We as humans, and biological beings in general, seem to be particularly suited for predicting and manipulating the world. Maybe being able to predict and manipulate the world means seeing it as mechanical—or seeing the mechanical aspects of it—and hence seeing it as lifeless.

One particular aspect of our bodies to go back to and consider is the sheer scale of size at which they exist, perform and perceive. Maybe we’re huge! We don’t seem huge to ourselves, but of course that perception is only relative to our own size. Think about it: our bodies contain something in the order of 100,000,000,000,000 cells, and each cell contains something in the order of 100,000,000,000,000 atoms.

If we could perceive matter on the cellular, atomic or perhaps quantum level, maybe we would see it more as a living thing! Just as it’s only in aggregate that quantum effects seem classical and deterministic and rocks seem solid and still rather than spacious and seething with vibrations of atoms and flow of electrons, maybe it’s only in giant aggregate that the flow of life appears still, mechanical and solid enough to be deemed lifeless!

Another possibility is that the entire physical universe is a spirit or a group of spirits that have lowered their vibration so much, for whatever reason, for better or worse, that they became dense enough and unaware and hence predictable enough that they appear material to us. Our bodies would be parts of one those spirits, of course; existing as a carnal being would actually be interfacing our consciousness with its. The being would be so large that it would be envelope us and completely dominate our contextual field.

Whether material reality is a projection of consciousness or a way of perceiving it, the purpose of living in a material realm may be for us to interact with each other in a highly consensual/agreed-upon reality. This high degree of consistency would, of course, give us the impression that there’s an objective reality outside of us that has nothing to do with our own minds and their manifestations or with life itself.

Even disregarding most of the above reasoning, the chances that life is primary and material is secondary instead of material being primary and life being secondary are at least 50/50. (Yes, you could reason that the vast majority of the universe appears to be lifeless and life only appears to exist within biological organisms that evolved within the material universe, but you could also reason that the one thing we can be most sure of is our own consciousness/spark of life; everything external to it is, ultimately, theoretical.)

Now consider that the point of view that life is primary and that everything is life allows for much more hope, happiness, magic, and general possibility such as that of life after death, God, parapsychology and the paranormal, spirituality, the Mandela effect, synchronicity, the unity of all beings and between the internal and the external, etc. A more inclusive worldview is much more apt to assimilate beliefs, experiences and phenomena of various kinds that otherwise have to be dismissed or, at best, explained away given a few presumptive premises.

One may think that it’s is a non-theory because it’s not scientific, isn’t rigorously defined and makes no predictions, but it isn’t meant to replace or revise everything, or even anything, we know in science; scientific theory, as far as it’s valid, still stands because it works, while the part of scientific (or scientistic) thinking that’s countered by this theory—e.g. physicalism—has no empirical basis. This “theory” (or metaphysical worldview) merely undoes some undue assumptions about the universe (such as its being completely mechanistic and hence rigorously describable) and makes it more open-ended, allowing for for the unknown, the mysterious, and the unknowable and utterly ineffable. It calls a spade a spade by admitting what aspect of the universe we don’t understand rather than dictating restrictions on what’s possible ahead of time.

Also, as per my writing on physical reductionism linked to above, this worldview allows for the possibility of an ultimate, or incremental, understanding/explanation of the universe whose bases are actually meaningful to us, rather than being ever-smaller subatomic particles or dry equations devoid of anything qualitative, because such bases could be found within us on a psychological, emotional or spiritual level.

Is the Universe Infinite?

As with a lot of simple yet deep philosophical questions and statements, the question is basically nonsensical but appears to make sense because of our tendency to be duped by language. To a certain extent, we tend to think that grammatically correct sentences must makes sense. And that’s to say nothing of the semantic problems raised by the verb “to be” (see Alfred Korzybski).

The universe is neither finite nor infinite.

What does the term “infinite” mean exactly? Basically, it’s a mathematical term that means that a value is so large that any finite value is smaller than it. Of course, the problem with this definition is that to have an actual value it must be finite—otherwise you have a formula for creating values.

For example, any actual whole number must be finite, but the number of whole numbers that “exist” is said to be infinite. Of course, you can’t possibly ever represent, count or observe every possible real number. Not even if you had all the time in the universe. Not even if you had an “infinite” amount of time, whatever that might mean. Because no matter how many numbers you’ve counted, you can always count more, by definition.

So  the set of all whole numbers is “infinitely” large simply because you can execute an algorithm (however you want—by hand, on a computer, in your mind, whatever) to generate more successive (or non-successive, if you prefer) whole numbers for as long as you want. The algorithm itself does not contain all the whole numbers and is not infinite in content, so how can you execute it for as long as you want? The answer is that the algorithm essentially runs in a loop.

In the case of generating successive whole numbers, the algorithm could look something like this:

  1. Start with some number. If you think about it, this number is actually nothing other than a sequence of digits
  2. Copy the contents of the current number to the next number
  3. Start working on the last digit of this number
  4. If the current digit we’re working on is 0, change it to 1. If it’s 1, change it to 2, etc.
  5. If it’s 9, change it to 0, change the working digit to the one before the current one, and go to step 4. If you can’t do this because we’re on the first digit, then prepend a 1 to the entire sequence and change every subsequent element to 0
  6. Go to step 2

..Or something like that. Whatever. The point is that all infinite sets or infinite values (such as the size of an infinite set) actually boil down to algorithms for generating those things that run in loops. So when we ask, “Is the universe infinite?”, we’re basically asking if the universe can be generated by a mathematical algorithm in a loop. And even if it could be—which it obviously can’t, because that would create a universe so regular and ordered that it would be uninteresting, not this one—that would only make the universe as big as the time God or whoever spent executing that algorithm. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that mathematical algorithms deal with numbers only, and numbers are purely quantitative and abstract and can’t possibly generate quality or substance. (That’s why the universe can’t fundamentally be made up of math, but I digress.)

I said earlier that the universe neither finite nor infinite. So why is it not finite? Because it’s unlimited. Just like the infinite contents of an infinite set don’t actually exist anywhere, because you can’t define infinite existence except as a looping algorithm or some kind of paradox, the universe doesn’t exist in an “infinite” sense. But neither does it have any boundaries to its existence. The more you look, the more you find, forever.

How can this be true and the universe not be infinite? The answer is that existence itself is relative. If you think about it, in order for something to be said to “exist,” it must be able to affect you in some way. If it can’t affect you, then you have no way of knowing it’s “there” and therefore you can’t rightly posit that it exists.

The concept of “existence” is a tricky one. Emmanuel Kant said, in response to the ontological proof of God’s existence, said that “existence is not a predicate.” While his reasoning surrounding this statement was valid, the statement alone isn’t exactly true. Existence is a predicate, it’s just not a normal one. If existence weren’t a predicate, why would we say that a unicorn—or anything else—is either “existent” or “non-existent”? That’s exactly how predicates work.

You could say that the unicorn that’s non-existent can’t have any predicates because it doesn’t even exist, but if you think about it, all objects we can possibly think or talk about are mental objects; they exist primarily in the mind. They may or may not “point” to objects outside of us.

How do we know if a mental object points to something outside of us? Presumably, we can’t directly know of anything that exists outside of our minds. We only infer as a result of sensation. So how do we know the chair exists even while we’re not sensing it? If we expect that, when we will our muscles to contract in certain ways we call “walking into the dining room,” we will see a chair with specific properties there, then we say that that chair “exists” and that our concept of the chair therefore points to something outside of us. But insofar as we can think of or talk about the chair, it exists in our minds.

We don’t even know if reality outside of our minds (if there is such a thing) is made of objects, or if it’s just some continuous field that wouldn’t even look like objects if we could have a “view from nowhere” (or, to be more epistemologically coherent, at least a “more objective” viewpoint). Indeed, “the chair” is just an arbitrary collection of atoms that we separate as “a chair.”

Let’s say the chair is made of wood and, due to attrition, some wood particles on the bottom of the chair’s legs get scraped onto the floor. Exactly which particles belong to the chair, and which belong to the floor? Where does the chair end and the floor begin? What if a child marked the chair 3 years ago with a magic marker? Are those ink particles now part of the chair, or not? If you break apart the chair with a hammer piece by piece, or burn it to the ground, at what point during the process does it cease to be a chair? Etc.

Since any two things we can possibly compare and contrast to each other (presumably using thought) must necessarily be ideas, the schism between the ideational (that in our minds) non-ideational (that outside of us) must necessarily be the biggest possible schism we can imagine—or, arguably, bigger than any schism we can possibly imagine.

So, back to the existence of the chair. To say that it exists is necessarily merely to say that we expect to perceive particular sensations in response to willing (what we think are) our muscles to do certain things. (We don’t know for certain that we have muscles, but we know for certain what we’re willing since that’s a part of our mind and therefore is directly known.)

If you posit something extant that can’t possibly affect us, any possible description of that thing is equally valid, since none of it is provable/demonstrable or falsifiable.

So, to validly posit that something “exists” must imply positing that it can potentially affect us in some way. If we will X, we expect to sense Y, hence Z exists. E.g., if we will walking to the dining room, we expect to have the visual sensation of a brown geometric form whose shape is determined by our perspective, hence the wooden chair exists. Of course, there are a million other ways we could less directly test its existence, and we can guess they’d all work because reality seems to be self-consistent, but that’s beside the point.

The reason existence is relative is that not every object that exists in the multiverse, according to some kind of fully objective view from nowhere, is potentially available to us at any given time. Most of it isn’t most of the time. Most of it will never be. But anything is experientially available to some entity at any given time (probably some entity you don’t have access to on a certain level), and on the most ultimate level, all entities are one, so the fact that it’s available to them and not to you is a relative fact.

From the perspective of this view from nowhere, every possible experience exists. I said/implied earlier that there’s no such coherent thing as a view from nowhere, which is exactly why we can’t say, based on this view that every possible experience exists “somewhere,” that the universe is infinite. The best we can say is that it’s unlimited or unbounded because your viewpoint constantly changes and therefore the breadth of objects that become extant to you constantly changes.

I don’t know whether the separation between what’s existent to us and what’s not is discretized/bounded according to finite universes within an unlimited multiverse, in which everything in our particular universe is existent to us at once but in the big picture we have access to more than just this universe, or if it’s more of a continuum. Maybe what’s existent to us is everything in our past light cone.

Welp, that’s all I have to say about that.

Why Mathematical Platonism Is Silly

Basically, mathematical Platonists feel that, because there is so much complexity to math, it must be something “discovered”, as if from some Platonic mathematical realm. The problem with that is that the derivations in math cannot be any other way; they are what they are out of necessity (given math’s fundamental axioms, at least). That means that, even if there is some Platonic mathematical realm, the “discoveries” of math can’t come from it because that would imply that, were the realm somehow any different, the discoveries of math could be somehow different—that just working out the logic in our minds or by hand or on computer we’d come up with different results. But that would be incogent. The reason we get the results we get is that they’re the only results that are cogent. So, even if there were such thing as some Platonic realm containing all mathematical objects and relations, it would be completely superfluous because the discoveries of math can’t “come from” it, and therefore, given Occam’s razor, it makes little sense to assume its existence.

Another way to tackle the issue starts with an analysis of the meaning of the term “exists”. In order to coherently claim something exists, you must imply that it’s in some way, at least in principle, detectable or otherwise noticeable. If something is not noticeable under any potential circumstances, then what does it mean to say that it exists? To claim that something exists includes defining what the basic form is of the thing that exists; otherwise you’re not saying what it is that exists, and it might as well be the most contentless thing imaginable, with the limit being nothingness. And how can you imagine the form of something without imagining interacting with it in some way to see the form? (See my argument for “form is function” in my previous essay.) And if the thing you posit exists can’t be interacted with (or, more specifically, can’t affect you) even in principle then imagining this observation of it is self-contradictory when you take the whole context into account, i.e., the whole world, from you to the claimed extant. Not to mention that the idea that something that exists that doesn’t affect us is a) unfalsifiable, and b) in violation of Occam’s razor.

So, if to say that something exists is to imply that it can affect us, then it makes no sense to say that mathematical “objects” (or whatever they are) are “exist” in some Platonic mathematical realm, because if they actually affected us then it would be hypothetically possible for them to affect us in some other way, thus implying some other hypothetical nature in which they exist. Instead, mathematics is all tautology, as it all necessarily follows from its fundamental axioms. Interaction/affecting is a process of action in time, and the objects of mathematics are timeless and unchangeable, so they can’t affect us in order for us to observe them.

In his book The Emperor’s New Mind, Roger Penrose argues for mathematical Platonism on the grounds that a given point is or is not in the Mandelbrot set independently of what mathematician or computer is examining it. By “examining it”, of course, he means executing the algorithm that determines whether a point is in the Mandelbrot set. I would say that, since there’s no way for an independent truth of which points are in the Mandelbrot set to “make its way into” the results of a completely deterministic algorithm, that truth must be an aspect of, or an indirect reflection of, the algorithm itself (including the rules for multiplication of complex numbers). It is simply illustrated in a way by which it appears very complicated, while its abundant self-similarity across place and scale is one sign of its actual underlying simplicity. Basically, humans are not smart enough to see “through” the imagery to its underlying simplicity so our minds are tricked.

Let’s now tackle this problem from the opposite direction, starting with the fractal image and then deriving the algorithm. Let’s consider two reasonable suppositions: 1) The greatest measure of compressibility of a set of data is the smallest algorithm that can recreate that data, and 2) A set of data only actually contains as much information as its most compressed state; the rest is redundancy. If you made a program that could read a set of data and return the smallest algorithm that creates that data (though it might take a quintillion years to do that) and you fed it a Mandelbrot image, it would certainly (eventually) spit out the algorithm that created the image in the first place. Therefore, a Mandelbrot image actually, on a fundamental level, contains no more information than the algorithm that created it.

This thought experiment brings us to another interesting point: Penrose could have used for his argument any algorithm that produces an apparently complex set of data. For example, a pseudo-random number generator would generate an image with much more apparent complexity than a Mandelbrot image (in that it appears to be way less compressible, hence it appears to contain more information), yet Penrose doesn’t use a pseudo-RNG for his argument because it’s more obvious in that case that the only meaning in the data is in the algorithm that produces it. Yet the obvious structure of a Mandelbrot image is not any more evidence that the information exists in some Platonic realm than a pseudo-RNG-generated image is, because it’s no surprise that a simple algorithm could produce a structured image, since the image, being wholly a reflection of the originating algorithm, must therefore be a manifestation of complexity in simplicity. So, it’s apparent that Penrose was duped in this case by the mere interestingness (or whatever) of the patterns composing the Mandelbrot image.

Another argument for mathematical Platonism I’ve come across goes something like this: Math must exist prior to matter logically, if not chronologically, in order for matter to even exist because matter’s existence as such is wholly dependent upon mathematical laws. To this I have to say that mathematical laws aren’t something matter requires, as if they’re a separate thing from matter—the mathematical “laws” characterizing matter’s behavior are only ways to formally describe the behavior, and they’re merely abstractions. Reifying abstractions as something objectively existing is silly. In what form could they possibly exist?

A mathematical model of matter is basically a reduced simulation of matter. The math is merely a way of representing the matter’s behavior, and the matter is not separate from its behavior. Again, form is function. As I said in my previous essay, how can you know the form of something other than through how it interacts with the observer? And how it interacts with the observes is its function. And the functionality of matter and energy is the physics of it.

The degree to which matter behaves according to mathematical principles is the degree to which matter behaves both consistently and cogently (i.e. self-consistently). Of course matter behaves consistently, because it’s still the same stuff from one moment to the next, and the nature of its composition determines how it behaves. And to imagine that matter behaves in any way but cogently would be an incogent imagining, and thinking incogently is useless and irrelevant to reality, so of course matter behaves cogently.

Mathematical laws aren’t detectable even in principle except indirectly via the behavior of matter, so it’s unwarranted to assume that they have an existence independent of matter. And they’re not really even detectable via the behavior of matter because they could hardly have been anything different; they’re merely cogent or self-consistent thinking, codified.

Another argument (or perhaps merely a description) of mathematical Platonism I’ve seen briefly describes Platonism in general and then adds math to that realm in terms of some kind of basic or archetypal mathematical forms. The exact nature of these forms is irrelevant, because the premise of Platonism itself is silly.

Some Platonic forms, such as beauty, are merely abstractions derived from what many objects seem to have in common and then apparently reified as things-in-themselves by way of language. “Beauty” as being independent of anything beautiful exists only as a linguistic construct.

Other, more concrete Platonic forms, such as the ideal horse, are simply categories people hold in their minds as a result of seeing many similar objects which are given a common name, especially where there is not a smooth continuum of objects’ forms ranging from the ideal in question to completely different forms. There are many different reasons objects would take common forms in islands of similarity, and none of them is because there exists some Platonic form somehow supernaturally dictating their manifestations. For example, all horses are relatively similar to all other horses (and thus categorizable under one name) because of the evolutionary mechanics of speciation.

What’s more likely: That forms exist as templates in our minds used to categorize objects, created largely without our noticing over time through observation and teaching, especially in the early stages of learning; or that they exist in some unobservable, independent realm of abstractions without any conceivable sort of grounding, and that we psychically access a form in this realm every time we identify something? Especially considering how pragmatically useful it is to employ these categorizations, thus implying their likely arising from natural processes of cognition, and considering how naturalistically the islands of similarity in objects arise, thus making their definitions in an independent realm superfluous. And to say nothing of the areas of object differentiation where there are no islands of similarity, only continuums of object forms ranging between objects of completely different configurations, and also to say nothing of the ubiquitous continuums between areas of object forms where there are distinct islands of similarity and areas where there aren’t; for example, extruding from the island of horse forms are forms such as the zorse, a zebra/horse cross, a horse that just lost one of its limbs, horses with some sort of obvious genetic mutation, etc., horses still in the womb ranging through all the phases of ontogeny, etc.

Platonism is obviously a very naive and antiquated way of thinking characterized by a lack of self-reflection regarding language, abstraction and the process of identification, and mathematical Platonism is an even more problematic extension of that.

This essay was loosely based on a much more awkward and obtuse essay I wrote 21 years ago that can be found here: http://local.inhahe.com:8008/book/rough%20drafts%20%26%20notes/html/platomath.html.

Why the Speed of Light Probably Isn’t a Constant

All matter and energy is constantly in flux. What appears to be solid, such as a desk, is actually made of trillions of tiny atoms, each one vibrating in place, and each one made up of waves of electron fields around nuclei that are made of vibrating protons and neutrons which are in turn made of moving quarks. Force fields are in flux because they emanate from matter which is in flux, and force fields aren’t matter or energy anyway—they’re just mathematically defined causal relationships between physical extants.

The laws of physics appear to be static, but they all boil down to two aspects: 1) the aspect of it that is necessarily true just because it’s logically consistent with the of physics. This aspect is why we’re able to do derivations in physics; and 2) the aspect of it that comes purely from observations. The first aspect is necessarily static just because logic itself can’t logically be any different, but there’s no justification to assume the other is static just because the observations seem consistent over time. Since everything else we observe is in flux, chances are that those things are in flux as well—they just change too slowly to be noticed

Add to this the fact that there’s no ultimate way to distuingish between the physics of matter and energy and the physicality of it. The so-called “laws” of physics are not a separate thing “acting on” matter and energy. The closer you look, the more these two things blend together. One way of saying this is that form is function. How can you know the form of something other than through how it interacts with the observer? And how it interacts with the observes is its function. And the functionality of matter and energy is the physics of it.

All of physicality boils down to matter, energy and fields. Matter is in turn a pattern of seething energy, and fields. Can’t, even in principle, be defined or observed in any way other than as causal relationships between matter, so it’s safe to say that fields are merely an aspect of physics. And what is energy other than behavior patterns, and what determines its behavior if not the internal logic and mechanics of it which is what physics reveals? Also, as I mentioned in my last essay, Emmy Noether proved that the conservation of energy logically follows from the consistency through time of the laws of physics. And what is the concept of energy other than an invariant? What sense would energy make if it weren’t conserved?

So, everything physical is in flux, and there’s no ultimate way of distinguishing between physics and the physical. And physics is derived from only from a combination of observations and pure logic, while we can only observe the physical and most of what we observe seems to change constantly. So all of this would seem to suggest that the constants in physics, such as the speed of light and the gravitational constant for example, aren’t actually constants but are only assumed to be because they’re so slow to change. They’re part of a cascade of change that makes up the physical world, from the most universal and slowest to the most local and fastest.

A Possibly Specious Argument for Immortality of the Mind

  1. Energy is always conserved. This is a fundamental law of physics. It was even proven by Emmy Noether in 1915 that the law of conservation of energy necessarily follows from the fact that the laws of physics do not change over time. Of course, it’s known that matter and energy are interchangeable (hence E=mc2 and the atomic bomb), so that means matter is conserved too except when it’s converted to or from energy, in which case its constituent energy is still conserved.
  2. Everything is, theoretically, made up of matter and energy.
  3. Therefore, when we say that something—any physical thing—has been created or ceased to exist, it must merely mean that its constituent matter and energy has been transformed into some other configuration, which we then call something else.
  4. Therefore, the “things” that we observe to come into existence or cease to exist must only amount to perceptual categories. Sure, these things “exist” inasmuch as they are made up of matter and energy, but since this matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed (the big bang and quantum fluctuations not withstanding), these things do not exist independently of our perceptual categories inasmuch as they can be created or cease to exist.

    (The rest of #4 you can skip if you like.)

    This is not to say that Eastern Airlines or the library at Alexandria still exists, but that, exactly inasmuch as they have ceased to exist, they amount to an abstraction or concept in mere reference to a particular part or aspect of what is or was.

    For example, let’s take a wooden chair. Over a very long period of time, this chair will slowly rot into oblivion. Or it might burn up in a fire.

    During this process, there is no definitive point in time at which the chair, as such, ceases to exist. At the end of this process, you may unequivocally state that the chair no longer exists, but choosing the exact point at which its constituent matter and energy is no longer a “chair” is a complete judgment call! It is arbitrary, hazy, and what it shows is that we do not have actual objects that are created and cease to exist, but rather, actual matter and energy whose state is continually shifting into and out of our relatively arbitrary categories like “chair” or eves “wood” versus “dirt” or perhaps “light” and “heat.”

    (Even the transformation of energy in a chemical bond into light and or heat form, as well as the material separation of the atoms, is a process or event, taking some amount of time, so there is a continuum of state that ranges from fitting into one label (such as “wood) and another label (such as “light”), even on the level of individual molecules. The same applies even to the nuclear transformation of matter into energy.)

    So all we really have is eternal actuality versus transient perceptual categories.

    To go on a tangent and make another point along the way, this means that nothing in our human experience truly has every been created or destroyed. So to extrapolate that, because everything we know of has been created and will cease to exist, the universe itself must have been created and must cease to exist at some time (as opposed to being eternal, which is something we have trouble comprehending), is a blatant intuitional error.

    The universe itself contains all transient states of matter and energy which we categorize as this thing or the other thing that we think has been destroyed when its matter and energy has transformed into another thing. That energy itself, which can take the form of anything we know of, has never been known to be created or destroyed, and obviously any possible state of that energy could be said to constitute “the universe”.

    Therefore, the universe is, in all likelihood, eternal.

    (Since all our physics breaks down when extrapolated backward to the point of the big bang, it’s pure presumption to say that the big bang was the beginning of existence or the beginning of time. We don’t know what may have existed before it and caused it.)
  5. The mind precedes, and is primary to, all of its conceptual categorizations. Your mind necessarily exists, both chronologically and logically, before it can classify the stuff it observes.

    So, we have shown that..
    1. The existence of a mind is primary to its representation (or conceptualization) of all other “things”‘ existence. Specifically, the creation and destruction or cessation of things happens strictly with respect to the mind’s representations of those things.
  6. Therefore, the mind itself is never destroyed in actuality.

This argument is a rewrite of essentially the same argument I made in 2001 that can be found here. Its style is highly awkward, and it’s too terse for even me to follow some of it now, but it contains a little bit of stuff not presented here. Also it begins to make a completely different point at the end that I didn’t include here because I seem to have found a non sequitur in it and not to mention because it ends mid-sentence and mid-thought. (How I was planning on finishing that thought I have no idea now.)

How We’re Looking at “Instinct” Wrong

As with many, many things in life, looking at the concept of instinct through scientism-colored glasses blinds us to seeing half the nature and wonder of the subject in question—in this case all the organisms in the animal kingdom. The observation of instinct is one more potential path to the understanding of the underlying magic in life and living beings—one more path thwarted by the overlay of the scientistic mindset upon everything we perceive.

The prevailing physicalist, mechanistic worldview of our times causes us to assume that “instinct” is just a kind of programming or hard-wiring of the brain that dictates the animal’s actions, presumably somehow excluding or subverting the animal’s free will exactly where it needs to. We think of it in a mechanistic way, like it’s just neurological wiring which makes animals do things they can’t help but do.

The truth, I think, is that there’s a spectrum of consciousness and drives in animals going from pure self-awareness (or at least awareness) and conscious decision-making to more primal levels of consciousness (or the subconscious) and drives which we call instinct. Instinct is very much a part of their mind, intelligence and emotions.

It’s still fascinating, though, how the animal mind can be driven by instinct to perform behaviors of its own free will that are too complex and crafty for it to have any kind of coherent reasoning about. But I suppose it’s only slightly more fascinating than the idea that humans, as conscious and free-choosing as we are, can be driven by instinct to, say, desire sex, or suckle on a bosom, or even that we can be influenced to want to avoid a certain situation by means of the sensation we call pain.

By saying that instinct isn’t “hard-wired” in the brain, I’m not necessarily saying that it doesn’t ultimately exist as an aspect of the central nervous system, or that it’s not determined by one’s DNA, or whatever; I’m just characterizing the phenomenological nature of it vis-à-vis consciousness.

But I’m not saying it is necessarily contained by the brain either. I’m partial to a theory of mine that instinct works by means of Sheldrakian morphic resonance: That is to say, the spider spins its web because the spider falls within the morphic field of its species, and that field contains, among many other things, the instinctive pattern of web-spinning for that species. And the morphic field of the species must have evolved alongside its genetic evolution, in a sort of “symbiotic” relationship.

In other words, as spiders figure out how to do certain things (or do certain things randomly that happen to be propitious for survival), those behavior patterns get embedded into the morphic field for the species so that further members of the species tend to perform the same habit. Thus genetic evolution can progress within the context of that existing habit, along with whatever else is affected and effected by the morphic field. And, of course, conversely, the morphic field changes according to the context of the physical definition of the species as genetically determined.

Some of those “other things” influenced by the species’ morphic field could be the very chemical processes that allow the body to function. After all, Sheldrake claims that after a certain type of crystal was grown in a lab in one place in the world, it suddenly would grow a lot faster in labs in other places of the world. We don’t really know enough about how things work to say for certain that the workings of some chemical processes aren’t undertermined WRT the physics we know; some of it could be up to morphic fields. Indeed, some (or possibly all?) of what we call the rules of physics themselves could actually be due to morphic resonance.

(BTW, this should go without saying, but when I say that a morphic field belongs to the particular species, I don’t necessarily mean that there’s exactly one morphic field for each species in some kind of discrete way. The delineations between morphic fields for sibling species are most likely blurry. The divisions between hierarchies of morphic fields corresponding to hierarchies of animalia are also probably blurry.)

(Also BTW, I know it’s a little late in the game to explain this, but in case you don’t know already, the idea of morphic resonance and morphic fields is an idea that when some manner of thing/process behaves in a particular way it’ll be more likely to behave in the same way in future instantiations of it, even if they’re in a completely different place. Hope that helps clear up the last four paragraphs.)

Another alternative to the idea that instincts are stored in the brain—and this isn’t incompatible with the idea that they operate via morphic resonance at all—is that they’re stored in the whole body. I don’t think all aspects of mind are necessarily in the head. (I don’t think all aspects of mind are necessarily in the body at all, but that’s another issue.)

You feel emotions in places in the rest of your body, so the natural conclusion is that emotions can reside within other parts of the body. Assuming that they’re completely generated in the brain and that feeling them extended to the rest of the body is therefore an illusion is tendentiously scientistic.

Also, I once read a story of a man who had had a heart transplant from another guy who had died in a car crash. For a while after receiving the new heart the man would hear (or maybe he would dream he heard? I don’t remember) a mysterious ticking sound. It was later concluded that the ticking sound he heard was the sound of the turn signal that was still ticking for a while after the car had crashed.

But more to the point, the story also said that the heart recipient’s tastes in food and other things started to change, and, if I remember correctly, upon conferring with the relatives of the heart donor it was found out his tastes were changing to be more like those of the donor. So if personality can be housed in the rest of the body then maybe instinct can be too. After all, it’s all interconnected.

I shouldn’t have written so many paragraphs about where the instincts might be stored, though. The main takeaway from this essay should be that instinct is just as much a part of mind as free will and emotion are, and that looking at it in a scientistic or mechanistic way bars us from seeing the magic in life that instincts intimate.

What’s the Big Deal with Vaccines?

If you’re anti-vaccinations, especially if you have children, you’re helping to spread diseases and even reinstate some of them that science has, through a lot of hard work and brilliance, basically eradicated decades ago. You’re ignorant, anti-scientific, and superstitious. Vaccines are basically harmless. The alleged link between vaccines and autism has been debunked by dozens of studies.

…Or so the prevailing wisdom goes. Even smart people usually believe this, mostly because other smart people believe it. And because smart people tend to side with the establishment. But I think those who side with the establishment on this probably know very little about vaccines.

Yes, the first part of the above is true: vaccines do help to prevent certain diseases. But the question is, at what cost?

Here are some facts about vaccines:

  • The vaccine industry is the only industry whose corporations can’t be sued. This means there is no liability, and therefore no incentive to be safe. And since a corporation is a fundamentally amoral entity whose sole purpose is to make as much money as possible, they’re not going to try very hard to make vaccines safe just out of the goodness of their hearts.

    (Yes, there is the Federal Vaccine Court, but the companies don’t even defend themselves there; the Department of Justice (DOJ) acts as the defense. And the money they pay out doesn’t come from the companies’ pockets, it comes from patient fees (a $0.75 tax on every childhood vaccine administered in the US), so the Federal Vaccine Court doesn’t actually effect any liability. And, though this isn’t directly relevant to the main point, it’s worth mentioning that Lawyer Rolf Hazlehurst told congress in a briefing for a hearing on the subject, “If I did to a criminal in a court of law what the United States Department of Justice did to vaccine-injured children, I would be disbarred, and I would be facing criminal charges.” The hearing was shortly cancelled.)
  • Vaccine companies are exempt from safety-testing their products. Only some of them do safety tests. Some details of those tests follow.
    • The polio vaccine’s safety test only monitored subjects for 48 hours.
    • The hepatitis vaccine’s test only monitored subjects for 5 days. The hepatitis vaccine is given to every child.
    • MMR has no safety testing listed on its insert, so Robert Kennedy Jr. and Del Bigtree sued The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the information. They gave it to them. Some of that information follows:
      • They only tested on 800 kids. Normally you’d have at least 20,000 subjects.
      • The testing lasted only 42 days.
      • 50% of the kids involved in the study had serious gastro-intestinal illnesses during the study, some of them for the full 42 days.
      • 50% of them had respiratory illnesses, some of them for the full 42 days.
  • A few decades ago, the developmental diseases ADD, ADHD, language delays, speech delays, tics, Tourette Syndrome, ASD, and autism; the auto-immune disorders Guillan-Barre, multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis; and the anaphylactic diseases food allergies, rhinitis, asthma, and eczema all exploded in popularity. Congress then ordered the EPA to find out in what year the explosions of all those diseases started. The EPA found that they all soared in 1989. It so happens that in 1989 they changed the vaccine schedule, raised the levels of aluminum and mercury in vaccines by 300% to 500%, and went from 3 different vaccines to 72. If you were born before 1989, your chances of having a chronic illness are 12.8% according to the HHS. If you were born after 1989, your chances are 54%.
  • Each of the four companies that produce the 72 now-mandated vaccines is a convicted felon.
  • Since 2009 those four companies have collectively paid $35,000,000,000 in criminal penalties and damages and fines for defrauding regulators, falsifying science, bribing doctors, lying to the public, and killing many people.
  • Merck sold a drug as a headache medicine that they knew could cause heart attacks and kept that information a secret. The medicine killed somewhere between 120,000 and 500,000 people. Should we expect they’d be any more scrupulous with vaccines, where there’s no liability?
  • Everyone is bought; the various regulatory agencies might as well be appendages of the industry, so they can’t be trusted when they say vaccines are safe.
    • The FDA, which is supposed to protect us against these products, receives 75% of its budget from big pharma.
    • The WHO receives 50% of its budget from pharma. 
    • The CDC is a pharmaceutical company.  It buys and sells vaccines for about $5,000,000,000 / year.
    • Individuals within HHS who worked on vaccines (at taxpayers’ expense) are allowed to get royalty payments on those vaccines. For example, there are high-level people at HHS who are making money on every vile of Gardasil that’s sold, totaling $150,000 / year. And HHS owns part of that patent and is collecting money every year.
    • So is National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • The pharmaceutical companies are the biggest lobbyists on capitol hill. There are many more pharma lobbyists than congressmen and senators combined. They give double to lobbying what oil and gas give combined.
  • Congress named the Institute of Medicine as the ultimate authority on the safety of vaccines. The Institute of Medicine says there are 150 diseases that they think are caused by vaccines. In 1994 the CDC was directed to study them. They refused. They directed them again in 1998. They refused. And the same again in 2011.
  • Over 1,000 independent studies, not funded by pharmaceutical companies, show vaccines to be harmful.
  • Half of all children now have a chronic illness. In the U.S. we’ve never been sicker.
  • The government’s own top expert vaccine court witness, world-renowned pediatric neurologist Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, took aside the DOJ lawyers he had been working for defending vaccines and told them that he’d discovered “exceptions in which vaccines could cause autism.” “I explained that in a subset of children…vaccine-induced fever and immune stimulation…did cause regressive [brain disease] with features of autism spectrum disorder”, he said. That was on a Friday, and over the weekend the DOJ called him and told him his services would no longer be needed. They then proceeded to misrepresent Zimmerman’s views on vaccines, saying on record, “We know [Dr. Zimmerman’s] views on the issue… there is no scientific basis for a connection between vaccines and autism”, which Dr. Zimmerman says is “highly misleading” (source).
  • Congress members say they face pressure, bullying, or threats when they raise vaccine-safety questions (source).
  • Multiple CDC officials claim they were told to destroy documents (source). Here are a couple of excerpts from an EcoWatch article:

Thomas Frieden, the director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), has blocked CDC whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson, from testifying on scientific fraud and destruction of evidence by senior CDC officials in critical vaccine safety studies regarding the causative relationship between childhood vaccines and autism.

[…snip…]

In August 2014, Dr. Thompson revealed that the data underlying CDC’s principle vaccine safety studies demonstrated a causal link between vaccines and autism or autism symptoms, despite CDC’s claims to the contrary. According to Thompson, based upon interpretation of the data, “There is biologic plausibility right now to say that thimerosal causes autism-like features.” Dr. Thompson invoked federal whistleblower protection in August 2014.

Dr. William Thompson is listed as author or co-author on the principal studies—Thompson, et al. 2007, Price, et al. 2010, Destefano, et al. 2004—most widely cited to “debunk” the link between autism and vaccines. Thompson said that his bosses, including the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office Branch Chief Frank Destefano, specifically ordered him and three other CDC scientists to destroy data demonstrating vaccine induced autism in CDC’s seminal 2004 study—Destefano, et al. 2004. The data unexpectedly showed a 250 percent increase in autism among young black males who received the vaccine on time—before their third birthday—compared to those who waited until after their third birthday. The data also showed a significant link between the vaccine and isolated autism (autism in normally developing children with no other medical problems), the kind suffered by Yates Hazlehurst, who is mentioned below. According to Thompson, Destefano called his four co-authors into a room and ordered them to dump the damning datasets into a giant garbage can. The published study omitted those data sets. That study, now cited in 91 subsequent papers on PubMed as proof of vaccine safety, is the principle foundation stone of the theology that vaccines don’t cause autism.

Vaccines proponents don’t argue for peer review, they argue from authority. They say vaccines are safe because the CDC and WHO say they’re safe. But as we’ve seen above, the CDC and WHO can’t necessarily be trusted.

Another factor influencing public opinion on vaccines is the media, who are also influenced by vaccine-industry private interests.

  • Multiple networks have reported that 80,000 people died of flu last year. The CDC says 2,300 people died of the flu.
  • Networks say 1 in 1,000 people die of measles. The CDC says it’s 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 500,000 Americans.
  • NBC had Lester Holt on showing a frightening picture of a baby supposedly afflicted with measles bumps. It turns out the picture was faked. Lester Holt is sponsored by Merck, the company that makes the vaccine for measles. Merck is whipping up a frenzy in the media to make us terrified of measles, which is the first disease we think of when we think of the enterprise of vaccines.

One author, whose name escapes me, proposes that society in a state of collective PTSD over the horrors of past widespread diseases, and I think that’s why people react so viscerally, intensely and unthinkingly when it comes to vaccines and “shutting down” anti-vaxxers.

But please, if we can’t deal with the thought of a resurgence of these past diseases, we could at least stop the social short-circuiting of the process of making the vaccines so that a little bit of safety and accountability is added, lest the top .01% continue to take advantage of us in one of the biggest ways—not only through the unregulated production and sales of mandatory vaccines, but also indirectly through providing medications for all the chronic diseases that result from those vaccines, in a double-whammy that adversely affects our very health which is central to our well-being.

Short of that, and, I would prefer, even in addition to that, we could make all vaccines non-mandatory and give parents proper advice regarding the risks of those vaccines. Forcing-by-law or otherwise coercing people to have chemicals injected into their bodies is extremely and unacceptably intrusive. We should have a right over our own bodies. Where is the Roe-v.-Wade for vaccines?

Speaking of properly informing patients about vaccines, according to this doctor and owner of his own clinic (with a degree in Business Administration and 15 years of degrees in Child Development), allowing patients informed consent about vaccines causes doctors and businesses to lose money, because 1) they lose 15 minutes explaining risks, benefits, etc. to the patient, and 2) they lose the revenue from the administration of the vaccines in the patients that decide against the vaccines.

This doctor used to be a staunch supporter of vaccines, then noticed some things about his patients and researched a lot and changed his mind. Now it’s the policy of his clinic not to make everyone take vaccines. He calculated the revenue for each vaccine that he gives and for each vaccine that the patients chose not to receive on that day, and the result was that he was losing $700,000 / year—and that’s just as a pediatrician, not as the clinic owner. Now his losses are significantly higher—about twice as high—because they can’t get a favorable contract with an insurance company because their vaccination rates are so low.

So the monetary incentive to issue vaccines goes all the way down to the doctors, and that’s another area of the system that could use a little bit of improving..

And last but not least, here are some videos and articles worth watching/reading, as I didn’t cover everything in this essay:

And a couple more..